A Glimpse at the Life and Times of Thomas Smith

Figure 1 – Thomas Smith and his wife, Margaret Ella Hill

 

 

Compiled by his grandson

Kay Darrell Smith

Revision 2.1

November 2004

           

Edited by his great grandson

Terry Calder Smith


 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

INTRODUCTION 

EARLY LIFE

          Beginnings

          Early Residence of Thomas Smith

          Parents & Grandparents

          Conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

          Plans to Emigrate

      

SEA TREK   

          General Voyage Notes

          Ship Departure

          Ship Voyage

          Arrival in New York

                                                                                                           

NEW YORK to NEBRASKA                                              

          Steamer Trip

          Long Island to St. Joseph    

          Steamboat up the Missouri

         Andrew Jensen’s Journal                                                                         

                                                                                                           

ACROSS the PLAINS                                                       

          Introduction

          Mule Train Arrival  from Salt Lake City

          Mule Train Trek to Salt Lake City                                                                                                                      

ZION                                                           

          Zion (Salt Lake City)

          Zion (Randolph)

          Zion (Fish Haven)

           

           

List of Figures          

            Figure 1 - Thomas Smith & Margaret Ella Hill

            Figure 2 - Map of Ireland and England

            Figure 3 - Map of Northern Ireland

            Figure 4 - Newtownards Countryside in the 1830's

            Figure 5 - Map of Newtownards (1830's)

            Figure 6 - Map of Comber (1830's)

            Figure 7 - Sea Routes of Mormon Emigration

            Figure 8 - Ship Passenger List (John Bright, June 6, 1866)

            Figure 9 - Liverpool from the Mersey (1829)

            Figure 10 - Liverpool from the Town Hall (1830's)

            Figure 11 - Boarding the Ship

            Figure 12 - Emigrant Ship

            Figure 13 - Stormy Seas, Liverpool

            Figure 14 - Castle Gardens, New York

            Figure 15 - Port of New York (Castle Garden)

            Figure 16 - New York to Chicago Trek via Canada

            Figure 17 - Steamboat on the River

            Figure 18 - The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada

            Figure 19 - St. Joe (St. Joseph, Missouri)

            Figure 20 - Mormon Pioneer Trail Map (approaching Omaha)

            Figure 21 - Council Bluff, Iowa

            Figure 22 - Chicago to Nebraska Map

            Figure 23 - Great Platte River Road

            Figure 24 - The Platte Valley Buffalo Herds

            Figure 25 - Emigrant family fording the Platte

            Figure 26 - Ft. Laramie

            Figure 27 - Wagon Train headed down Echo Canyon

            Figure 28 - Shoshone Village in Randolph

            Figure 29 - View of the Salt Lake Valley in 1867

            Figure 30 - Early Settlements in Bear Lake Valley (including Randolph)

            Figure 31 - Randolph’s first Relief Society House

            Figure 32 - Rich County Courthouse

            Figure 33 - Bear Lake from the Smith Farm in Fish Haven

            Figure 34 - Thomas Smith Home in Fish Haven (2001)

            Figure 35 - Thomas Smith Obituary

           

                                               

           

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

            This history could not have been written without the relatives of Thomas Smith who attempted to record the lives of their ancestors including: Nellie Rex Smith Fisher, Phebe Norris Smith, Ruth Smith Jackson, Ann Mower and Wanda Ricks Wyler. We are also indebted to the early contemporary pioneers of Thomas Smith including: B.H. Roberts, John Lunn, William John Smith, Hugh Smith, Agnes McDowell Smith, Septimus W. Sears, William Grant, Carolyn Hopkins Clark, Andrew Jensen and Thomas E. Ricks who had the foresight to record the events of their day.  Special thanks to Terry Smith for his gigantic contribution to the Smith family genealogy and histories.                       

 

INTRODUCTION 

            William W. Slaughter and Michael Landon have summarized the Mormon migration from Europe as follows:                   

                       

            The Western Migration of more than 500,000 people via the overland trails is one of America’s legendary stories. From 1806 until the 1869 joining of the railroads, these pioneers set out on trails leading to various points westward. Forsaking all they knew – sometimes leaving behind friends and family – the emigrants moved toward the unknown with hope for a better life. Within this general migration is the story of several thousand Mormon pioneers from Europe and America who traveled to their Zion in the Great Basin of the West – Salt Lake City.            

            The Mormon emigrants were unusual in their movement West, as most emigrants traveled along the Santa Fe, Oregon, and California trails primarily for economic reasons but the Mormons gathered as a people hoping to worship and serve their God away from persecutors and misfortunes. 

            The Mormon trek is first and foremost a powerful story of people. These pioneers were not mere icons; they were individuals whose lives were filled with the full range of emotions, passions, and convictions we all feel. Their experiences revealed a mixture of Christian virtues and very human shortcomings. They willingly risked all, including their lives, to see what they hoped would be a better way of life.          

            Some of the 3000 Mormon emigrants lost their lives during the 22 years of overland journeys. Others lost their faith but incredibly, the majority did not die or lose their faith.  Mostly poor, they came from the eastern United States, Canada, England and the European continent. They traveled on ships, canal boats, trains, riverboats, wagon trains and handcart companies. [1]     

                       

            This is the story of one of those pioneers, Thomas Smith and his family.  This manuscript attempts to describe a portion of the life of Thomas Smith. Since Thomas did not leave any records of his life, this history was compiled using contemporary histories of his times. Further research will be required to complete his life story. In particular little is known about his married life to Margaret Ella Hill.

 

EARLY LIFE

Beginnings

            Thomas Smith was born on 24 September 1847 in Liverpool, England. son of Hugh Smith and Agnes McDowell. He was 1 of 11 children. He had 3 older brothers: William John and Joseph both born in County Down, Ireland followed by Hugh born in Liverpool, England.  After the birth of Thomas, 3 brothers: Hyrum, James & Isaac were born in County Down, Ireland as well as 1 sister, Mary Elizabeth. After the birth of his brother Isaac, the family moved from Ireland back to England where a sister Agnes was born. After the birth of Agnes, then moved back to Ireland where a brother Henry and a sister Eleanor were born. Some time after 9 June 1862 they must have moved back to Liverpool since they emigrated to America in 1866 from England.

 

Figure 2 – Map of Ireland and England

 

           

 

Figure 3 – Map of Northern Ireland

 

           

Early Residence of Thomas Smith [2]

            Little is known about the early life of Thomas Smith.  However, using birth dates in Family Group records, his early residence has been computed as listed below.   All times, dates and ages are approximate:

 

 

 

            From the above table we note that Thomas spent his first 3 years in England and the next 7 years in Northern Ireland. Then it was back to England for 2 years and then back to Northern Ireland for 2 more years before going back to England when he was 16 years old. The family then stayed in England until Thomas was 18 years old when they immigrated to America.

           

Figure 4Newtownards Countryside in the 1830’s

 

Figure 5 - Map of the town of Newtown Ards in the 1830's

 

Parents & Grandparents                                                      

            Thomas’ father Hugh Smith, was born October 1818 at Crossnacreevy, County Down, Ireland.  He was the son of Hugh Smith of Ballinavally, Drumbo, County Down and Jane McClure, Comber, County Down. Thomas’ grandfather Hugh was of the Parish of Drumbo, County Down, Ireland and his grandmother was of the Comber Parish, County Down, Ireland. They lived in the Comber Parish. Thomas’ father, Hugh Smith, was known to be a carpenter & a joiner journeyman (a ship’s carpenter). [3]                                         

            Thomas’ mother Agnes McDowell Smith was born March 17, 1819 at Ballyhenry, Comber, County Down, Ireland. Her parents were Elizabeth and Thomas McDowell. She was married to Hugh Smith, son of Jane and Hugh Smith on March 12, 1840 [4].

            Hugh Smith and Agnes McDowell were married on the 12th day of March 1841 by Mathew Langtree, a Methodist minister in Newtownards.[5] They started their married life in Ireland. Between the years 1842 and 1844  two children were born to them: William John, their eldest son was born 22 September 1842 in Ballymalady, County Down, and Joseph was born 18 September 1844 in Newtonards, County Down, Ireland.

            The family moved back & forth between Northern Ireland and England because of Hugh’s occupation and family needs during the next 16 years. During this time the following children were born: Hugh born 21 Oct. 1846, who died the same day, Thomas, born 24 September 1847; Hyrum born 4 September 1850, Mary Elizabeth, born 6 September 1852; James born 1 September 1854;  Isaac, born 19 July 1855; and Agnes born 7 May 1858. These births occurred in England. Then the family moved back to Ireland, where 2 more children were born: Henry (Harry) born 5 July 1860 and Eleanor born 9 July 1862. Eleanor died in Salt Lake City at the age of 4 years.

            On 5 February 1850, the family moved back to Belfast, Ireland where they attended the Belfast Branch of the LDS Church.

           

Figure 6 - Map of Comber (1830's)

 

Conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  

            The parents of Thomas Smith belonged to the Methodist Church prior to being baptized into the LDS faith.[6]  Thomas’ father, Hugh Smith was baptized 18 April 1849 into the LDS church by Edward Saunders, and was confirmed a member by Orson Pratt on 22 April 1849. Agnes McDowell, his wife, was baptized the same day by Edward Saunders and was also confirmed on 22 April 1849 by Milo Andrews. These baptism’s and confirmations took place in the Liverpool Branch in Lancashire, England. In this same branch the following year, 31 Jan. 1850, Orson Pratt ordained Hugh an Elder.  All of the children joined the LDS church [7].

            The William John Smith History states: My father (Hugh Smith father of Thomas Smith) left the church but my mother kept all of the children, eleven of us, in the faith[8].

           

Plans to Emigrate        

            On 5 May 1862, Joseph, brother of Thomas (age 18) immigrated to America and settled in Salt Lake City. After arriving in SLC, Joseph wrote to encourage his family to prepare to follow him to this new land. Agnes, Thomas’ mother continued to make plans to follow Joseph to Zion. This upset Thomas’ father, Hugh, and he became indifferent and had no desire to leave his country. Hugh was so upset about this that he had his son, William John put in jail for breaking up his home and family. His wife Agnes told him he could put the whole family in jail and it would not make any difference, but when they got out they would still leave for Zion. William John stated that his father repented of his actions and promised to go on the next ship to America but he never did. [9]

            Note: Joseph Smith, brother of Thomas Smith, immigrated to America on the ship Manchester at the age of 17. This ship left Liverpool on 6 May1862 and arrived in New York on 12 June 1862.[10]

            The William John Smith History states: Before we sailed however, my father, who was opposed to our leaving, discovered our hiding place and had me arrested, placed in jail and taken before a magistrate, but I was soon set free and father repented of what he had done and promised to follow in the next ship. This, however, he never did.[11]

            Agnes tried every means in her power to persuade her husband to go to Zion but to no avail. She carefully saved every penny she could and borrowed money from the Perpetual Emigration Fund and prepared to go.[12]

            At the Liverpool Branch on Sunday the 29th of April, 1866,  great public meetings were held and great rejoicing had by the large number of emigrants that were preparing to go.[13]  Before departure President Franklin D. Richards called all the emigrants on deck and outlined their duties and responsibilities. He emphasized cleanliness, order, unity, harmony and good feelings, obedience to counsel, and "kindness and assistance to the aged, sick and infirm.  At this meeting Elder James McGaw was appointed president of the company, with Elders Christopher O. Folkmann and Frederick C. Andersen as counselors. Charles W. Penrose, who would later become an apostle and member of the First  Presidency, dedicated the vessel. It had been planned that this company would cross the Atlantic by steamer, but the cost was prohibitive at that time.

 

SEA TREK

Figure 7 - Sea Routes of  Mormon Emigration

 

           

                                                                                   

General Voyage Notes                                     

            The John Bright ship built by  William H. Webb of  New York City in 1854. It was 1444 tons with dimensions of 192’ x 41’ x 29’.  This American three-Decker, one of the largest square-riggers used by the Saints was chartered by the church for this voyage from Williams & Gunion.  She had an elliptic stem, a round tuck, and a billet head. In 1874 she was wrecked off the coast of Brazil. This was the second Mormon emigrant voyage of the John Bright and it originated at Liverpool on 30 April 1866 carrying a portion of this year’s emigration. It cleared from the port of Liverpool on Monday, the 30th of April, having on board adults. A finer vessel, or a better company of emigrants, leaving these shores has not been seen, than those who bade farewell to their native land, trusting in that God who had, through their own obedience, opened the eyes of their understanding to see and comprehend the importance of gathering out from the midst of the wicked.[14]                                                                  

            The ship records (John Bright, April 1866, Mormon Immigration Index) list the family members who made the voyage across the Atlantic as follows. [15]                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Figure 8 - Ship Passenger List (John Bright, June 6, 1866)

 

            The William John Smith History states that the ship sailed with William John Smith 23, Thomas Smith 18, Mary E. Smith 13, James Smith 11, Isaac Smith 9, Agnes Smith 7, Henry Smith 5, Elinor (Ellen) 3, Annie 3 (this Annie was the daughter of Jane Lorimer and was raised and married under the name of Annie Smith), Elizabeth 20 (I don’t know who this was) and Sarah Jane Lorimer Smith, married to John, and Agnes McDowell Smith, the mother.[16]  The First Emigrant Mule Train history states that Thomas’ mother (Agnes) came on the ship with 8 children, a daughter-in-law and a grandchild.[17]       

            Note: The U.S. ship JOHN BRIGHT was launched on 29 December 1853. The ship was named after a British merchant, statesman, and prominent opponent to the Corn Laws. Her maiden voyage was from New York to Liverpool. On 3 November 1874, the JOHN BRIGHT, sailed from New York for San Francisco. On the night of 10 December 1874, she struck a reef off the coast of Brazil. The captain and crew abandoned the ship at 3:30 the morning of 11 December, in 3 boats.[18]                                                                                                                                                                                    

Ship Departure                                                  

            On the morning of April 30, 1866, after her husband had gone to work, Thomas Smith’s mother Agnes gathered up her belongings and family and embarked on the sailing vessel "John Bright". Hyrum, a lad of 16, slipped away as they were boarding the vessel and went back home to his father.      

            Those who made the voyage were William John and his bride, Jane Lorimer, her daughter, Annie (Annie Simpson Kennedy) Thomas, Mary Elizabeth, James, Issac, Agnes and Harry[19]. Note that this disagrees with the passenger ship list.                                

Figure 9 - Liverpool from the Mersey (1829)

 

Figure 10 - Liverpool from the Town Hall (1830's)

 

            B.H. Roberts describes the ship departure as follows:

            All the forenoon of Monday, April 30th, small boats carried passengers from the shore to the ship John Bright lying at anchor with signals flying, announcing an early departure. Up the sidesteps of the vessel the throng of passengers made their way until the decks were reached where they were distributed to upper, middle, or lower decks, according to nationality, price of passage, etc. In all there were 764 adult passengers, how many accompanying children is not known. The captain of the ship was Captain Davison [20].

Figure 11 - Boarding the Ship

 

            John Lunn in his diary states that:

            On 4 June 1868, the John Bright sailed from Liverpool with a company of 720 Saints, of whom 176 were from Scandinavia and the remainder from the British Isles. Captain John Howart was master of the vessel. At the River Mercy on Monday about 50 minutes past 5 o’clock the ship was tugged out by the steamer “Constitution” as far as what is called Black Rock. We then started our sailing and we were wafted along as fast as could be expected by a sailing vessel.[21]                                   

 

Figure 12 - Emigrant Ship

 

Ship Voyage                         

                                                                                                                            

            A short distance west of Ireland, the John Bright encountered three days of severe storm with high seas and had to sail with hatches down and sails reefed. The three-decked serviceable ship was seaworthy, but tub-like in movements. For three days a fierce storm caused little progress to be  made on the western journey-in fact it was said among the passengers that the ship was driven backward.                             

            And as all the people were compelled to be mewed up below deck, life at sea was gloomy, and the tossing of the vessel made nearly all of the passengers heartily seasick. Food could not be served and there was much pounding of dry hard sea biscuits, washed down with water already becoming putrid. Late in the afternoon of the third day the hatches were opened and the steps leading to them were thronged with people all but panting for fresh air. All the days, however, were not so stormy, nor all the scenes stamped with sadness. Many of the May days were cloudless and the air balmy. There were frolics on the deck, games and group singing, and there were many beautiful voices in that list of passengers: English, Welsh, and Scotch-for they had been gathered from all the scattered branches in those countries. Some of them were noted for their music. There was dancing and games for the children; among others, marbles for the boys when the ship was steady enough for the marbles to stay in the rings until shot out by the players. Of course there were childish quarrels and violence too. The officers of the John Bright were very fine and they watched with serious care over the welfare of their passengers.                                                             

            The provisions were really good, and plenty of them. There is good order, love and union in our midst, and things have more the appearance of a pleasure party, than a lot of people performing a long, tedious journey.[22] The Diary of William Grant states the following regarding the voyage:      

            Regular meetings were held on the ship. About 2 to 3 weeks mid-ocean a fearful storm was met which lasted 48 hours. It was terrible, the waves dashing onto the ship. Meals could not be prepared and no one was allowed on deck. The hatches were down and the passengers were in prison. Several steamers passed by and some passengers and sailors went in boats a fishing.  Also saw many large fishes such as sharks, and porpoises and as land was approached , the welcome seagulls gathered the water.  Newfoundland was passed in a fog and were soon on a lookout for a pilot and it was a glad sight to us to see a man come aboard from our destined port who would come out to meet us and see us safe in. [23]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

            The days of the voyage went on and one after another the days passed, and it began to be whispered among the passengers that we should in a few days begin to see land--American land. The rumor of it was remembered as thrilling, but it was not to be realized until we encountered another fierce and unlooked for storm. The clouds gathered which the officers and sailors spoke of as 'angry', as they rushed about carrying out the orders to reef sail and lash every loose thing fast. Passengers were ordered below, preparations were made to shut down the hatches. One man remarked to a companion as he stood by the door of the cabin (for there was a cabin and a few special and apparently wealthy passengers among the emigrant companies that occupied it)- taking a glance around the horizon from which in all directions the entreating storm seemed to be arising: ‘I wish we were in New York Harbor.’                                                

Figure 13 - Stormy Seas, Liverpool

 

            The ship was caught in the outer edge of a swirling waterspout, which carried the vessel far, far out of its course, and  the wildest scene of lashed ocean and swirling water occurred. How long it lasted was not known, entirely free from the influence of the raging column of the water. After this adventure the location of the ship (its longitude and latitude) had to be ascertained by soundings taken of the ocean bottom. The storm and waterspout had taken the vessel far to the north of the direct line of its proper course and the talk on shipboard was that it had been brought up toward Newfoundland; and several hours perhaps half a day was taken up in these soundings, after which the vessel's course was once more in the direction of New York Harbor as of June 6th.[24]                                 

                                                                                   

            Caroline Hopkins Clark records the following about the sea trek across the Atlantic: 

 

            May 10 – The Sea is very rough. None of us are able to stand on our legs. We have had many falls. The things are rolling about. The victuals (food) are tossing about, but we cannot help laughing.                                            

            May 11 – Dare say you have heard people say they could go to sleep without rocking, be we cannot go to sleep with rocking. We had plenty last night. Talk about a swinging boat, why bless your life, it is nothing compared to being rocked on the sea. We can hardly keep in bed. The tins and boxes are rolling about. The slop-buckets upset. The sailor said it was as rough a night as they had ever seen, and it continued so all day.      

            June 5 – A beautiful fine day. The tug has just come to take us to New York. It is the grandest sight I ever witnessed: to see the things as we go up the river.         

            June 5 – We are still upon the ship in much confusion. They have taken our berths down. We expect to go into Castle Garden [25] today [26]. Soon after daylight next morning all was bustle and the cry of land, land was on every tongue. I hastened up on deck and there was the New World, America, before me. We were now passing up the Hudson River and oh, what a beautiful sight, and how glad all hearts were. The sight along the banks 2 or 3 miles distant was most charming, though we had but a bird's eye view. The fortifications, the islands, and the scenes were most delightful, especially [to those] who had not seen a speck of land for over 5 weeks. The thought of fresh food & water, also, friends we expected to meet in port to help us some and the thought of the dangers past and God's blessing in bringing us safely through made us glad indeed. The sick were soon well; the disheartened were happy [27].

                                                                                                                       

            Three births and one marriage were recorded. One aged and ailing woman died during the passage.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Arrival in New York                                                                                                                                                                                                      

            B.H. Roberts records the following about the arrival in New York:         

 

            At noon we were opposite Castle Garden and were much interested with the passing of the various sea vessels, and at viewing the distant towns of New York, Brooklyn, New Jersey, etc. Next day at 11 a.m. we went ashore on a small steamer and was glad to set our feet on the terra firma once more. It seemed quite a change and funny to me to walk on land after walking those decks 5 weeks and 3 days.                                                                                                                                          

Figure 14 - Castle Gardens, New York 

 

 

            The John Bright came to anchorage in Upper New York Bay and its passengers were temporarily lodged in Castle Garden, waiting to be loaded upon the low-lying steamboats which would take them up Long Island Sound to New Haven, when the journey by rail and riverboats would proceed to the middle-west of America.[28]                                                                                                                    

            Agnes McDowell Smith states that:

           We were on the waters six weeks and suffered many privations. After landing in New York we made plans for the long and tedious journey by ox team across the plains.[29]

 

    The First Emigrant Mule Train history describes the arrival as follows:                                                                          

Figure 15 - Port of New York (Castle Garden)

 

Figure 16 - New York  to Chicago Trek via Canada

 

                                                                                                                                                           

            We all lined up, the whole company of us, so that we would not stray away, and in this fashion were marched to the railroad station where we boarded the train. I noticed that all lighting in the streets was by gas lights, very different from our type of lights. [30]                                                                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                                           

NEW YORK to NEBRASKA

                                                                                                                                                           

Steamer Trip                                                                                                               

            The Diary of William Grant documents the next leg of the trek as follows:

Figure 17 - Steamboat on the River

 

         (Steam Boat and Train)         

 

                                                           

            The journey took us up Long Island Sound to New Haven [Connecticut], thence to Montreal, Canada, thence up the St Lawrence River, and thence to Niagara by train. On this train we were loaded onto cars of the cattle-shipment type. The train stopped on the Niagara Falls Bridge and the passengers were allowed to view the falls.                                                                                                                                                                       

Figure 18 - The Grand Trunk Railway of Canada

 

            Agnes Baxter writes about the train ride:

            On the train, sometimes we rode in the coaches, and sometimes in clean cattle cars. The advantage of the latter, was that we could roll out our bedding and make beds on the floor and get a nights sleep. [31]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Long Island to St. Joseph                                 

            William Grant summarizes in his journal the trek from Long Island to St. Joseph as follows:                                                                                                                                      

            At 8 or 9 o’clock we went out with a long train of cars. Our route was by the Grand Trunk line and took us through Canada.                                                                    

            Our first general shopping place was St. Alban’s, a border town. We got to Montreal and passed over the great tubular bridge. Stayed all night at Montreal and then next in freight cars to Detroit. The scenery was most delightful all the way and very interesting. We passed all the Great Lakes, LakeOntario, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and also many large towns.  Stayed all one night in a freight warehouse at Chicago. Next day left on the Hannibal & St. Joe (Joseph) Railroad. Passed through Illinois and Missouri to the town of St. Joseph or St. Joe.                                                                                                                                                        

Figure 19 - St. Joe (St. Joseph, Missouri)

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Steamboat up the Missouri                                                  

            Here a steamer was chartered to take us down the great Missouri River. Agnes Baxter states that upon reaching the Missouri River, we were ferried across on a ferry boat but as we could not all be taken across at the same time we were taken over in companies.                  

            It was here that we first beheld the Red Man, the American Indian. They had little clothing on, and dressed very much like our men do today when they are going swimming. Their bodies looked like they were burned by the sun.[32]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

           

Figure 20 - Mormon Pioneer Trail Map (approaching Omaha)

                                                                                                                                                                                               

Figure 21 - Council Bluff, Iowa

 

            We had crossed the Mississippi at Quincy but we are now on the Missouri in a poor but large steamboat and in 2 days we go down the river to a place called Wyoming (Nebraska). Here we embark and our journey is so far ended, 15 days travel from New York. We have 3 weeks to wait until our wagon trains are ready to cross the great plains of the desert to still far away Utah. . . [p.16].[33]                                                                                                                                                                                     

Figure 22 - Chicago to Nebraska Map

 

 

Andrew Jensen’s Journal     

 

            Andrew Jensen traveled on the same route from New York to Nebraska as the Thomas Smith family except that he traveled approximately 1 month later in July of 1866. He gives the details of this journey as follows[34]:                                                                                                                                                                                                        

            Shortly before noon on we took leave of our ship and boarded a small steamer, which took us to Castle Gardens. At Castle Gardens we passed through the usual examinations and scrutiny, including the enrollment of names, ages, nationality, etc., after which we enjoyed a few hours rest in the large and airy rooms of the Gardens. We then left Castle Gardens and walked through a part of New York City to a point on the East River where we boarded a large steamship which had been chartered by the Church emigration agent to take our company to Newhaven, Connecticut, and the night was spent sailing up the East River and Long Island Sound.

            Thomas Taylor, the emigration agent, had entered into a contract with a railroad company whose terminal was New Haven to carry us to the frontiers. This was the cause of us having this extra voyage by steamboat to New Haven. After a short but very unpleasant voyage of 80 miles, we arrived at New Haven. From this landing place we walked a short distance to the railroad station. where, two hours later we boarded the cars and started northward on our first railroad journey in America. Our route led through the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery very much. We traveled in 2nd class cars with comfortable seats.

            Crossing the St. Lawrence River on the great Victoria Bridge, we arrived in Montreal, Canada. Here we changed cars. The new train consisted of a few second-class passenger cars and a number of ordinary baggage cars. We rolled out of Montreal in the evening, traveling westward along the St. Lawrence River. It took us two days to travel through Canada. That evening we arrived at Toronto.

            The next day, we arrived at the railroad terminus on the St. Clair River, which separates Canada from the United States, or the State of Michigan. A steam ferryboat took us over the river to Fort Huron in Michigan. We left Fort Huron and traveled westward through the State of Michigan and arrived in Chicago, Ill., in the evening. The next day we changed cars and left Chicago. Traveling all afternoon and the following night through the State of Illinois, we arrived at Quincy on the Mississippi River. There a ferryboat took us over the river to the State of Missouri. We continued our journey through the State of Missouri, the land where the Saints in the early days of the Church suffered so much persecution. 

            We arrived safe and well at the landing, below the village of Wyoming, Nebraska, which was the outfitting place for the Saints crossing the plains that year. At that village we could breathe the fresh air more freely than upon any previous occasion since we commenced our long journey. Both on shipboard, and in the railroad cars, we had been confined to narrow quarters, but here on the grassy hill of Wyoming we had plenty of room to spread out and inhale the fresh air and drink the pure water as it gushed forth from the hillside.

 

 

 

ACROSS the PLAINS

Introduction                                                                                                                                     

            Thomas and his family may have gone on the Santa Fe Trail. [35]

 

Figure 23 - Great Platte River Road

 

            Anne Mower in her history of Hugh Smith states the following:

            Thomas and his  family crossed the plains in the Thomas E. Ricks Mule Train, so named because it was the first freight train to carry a great number of mules to Utah. The Thomas E. Ricks Mule Train came from Salt Lake City to assist the emigrants on their move to Zion. Thomas and his family met and joined the Mule Train at Wyoming, Nebraska.     

            The little town of Wyoming, Nebraska was the outfitting post for the wagon mule train. Each family was assigned a wagon, upon which all of the family’s belongings of that family were loaded. All who could walk, had to walk. The children were allowed to ride if necessary. Week after week, they kept  up the long and weary trek across the plains. [36]

 

            Thomas’ brother John drove a team and no doubt the other boys who were old enough did also. [37]        

Mule Train Arrival from Salt Lake City

 

Thomas E. Ricks describes the mule train arrival at Wyoming, Nebraska as follows:

            On June 16 the mule train arrived from Salt Lake City at its destination and camped outside of Wyoming, Nebraska. This morning about 9 o’clock we arrived within 1/2 mile of Wyoming [Nebraska] and formed our camp not desiring to go nearer on account of good feed for our animals for they needed rest and good grass. After the corral was formed Capt Ricks & myself went down to see the Church Agents and to report the arrival of the mule train.  We met Wm Riter and Bro Bullock. They all were well and seemed pleased to see us. The night of the 19th Thomas E. Ricks stayed at or in Neb City....Slept at the Store of D & V Seigle but when on the following morning we learned that the [600] Saints had arrived [by ship] we went direct for Wyoming [Nebraska] to see them....

                                                                                               

            Thomas E. Ricks sent some of his teams right down to assist them and their luggage up from the landing and also to take some of those who were going through with him up to his camp.

 

            The people are looking well and I [think] that they have been signally blessed in their journeying across the ocean and also in coming from New York City by rail and by steamer having lost no lives they seem in remarkably good spirits after having traveled such a distance. It was a lively scene to witness them unpacking their boxes and bags and exposing their clothing and affects to the purifying affects of the summer sun. It is indeed interesting to see both old & young of both sexes occupied in some busy employment with cheerful countenances and singing the songs of Zion. They no doubt feel to rejoice that they are once more where they can stretch their wearied limbs upon verdant & green grass--and look westward toward the setting of sun where is the home of the blessed sons of God in the peaceful Vales of the Mountains where is the Zion of God ..,                                  

 

            The next day, Captain Ricks left the Saints in Wyoming, Nebraska, to go to Omaha to purchase machinery for his gristmill back in Logan, Utah. Afterwards he returned to the wagon train. [38]                                                                                                                                                                 

Mule Train Trek to Salt Lake City  

 

            Agnes McDowell Smith, in her history, by Ruth Smith Jackson, states that:

            On the Mule Train trek to Salt Lake City there were l0 church trains with 10 captains, 456 teamsters, 49 mounted guards, 89 horses, 134 mules, 3,042 oxen, and 397 wagons. Added by purchase were 62 wagons, 30 oxen, and 61 mules. A month was spent at Wyoming, Nebraska, fitting out the trains.                                                                                                                                                                               

            Agnes Smith Baxter, a sister of Isaac Smith, said,          

            We left Wyoming, Nebraska, July 13, 1866, in Captain Thomas Ricks' company. Our teamster was Nephi Cowley. [39]

 

Figure 24 - The Platte Valley Buffalo Herds

                                                                                                                                                                                               

Wanda Ricks Wyler in her history of Thomas E. Ricks states the following:     

                        On July 5, 1866, a telegram was sent to Brigham Young from Nebraska City saying that Captain Ricks with the wagon train was starting on the homeward trip that day with 230 emigrants. The camp then moved out some ten miles in preparation for their return trip. On July 7 Captain Ricks realized he had some unfinished business in Nebraska City so he returned to the city with Moses Thatcher. While there, it rained so hard that they stayed the night in Rich Openhamer's store where they had done their trading. The next day Moses Thatcher went on his way to his mission field, and Captain Ricks returned to the mule train.

 

Figure 25 - Emigrant family fording the Platte

 

 

Figure 26 - Ft. Laramie

 

 

             On July 20, Thomas telegraphed Brigham Young to inform him that they were in Cottonwood, 100 miles west of Kearney, that everything was fine, and that the stock was in good condition. On August 8, Captain Ricks sent another telegram, which said they had just passed Horse Shoe and all was well.

 

            President Young wrote to his son Brigham Young, Jr., who was presiding over the British Mission:

            11 August 1866 Those companies which have started on their return here with the emigrating Saints are so far as heard from, making good progress on their journey. The first company, under Capt Thomas E. Ricks passed Sweetwater Bridge today.            

 

            Captain Ricks arrived in Salt Lake Valley in advance of his mule train. The rest of the train with the immigrants camped at Grass Creek a short distance away.                     

 

William Grant states:

            We passed through Echo Canyon and Parley's Park, Emigration Canyon and then the beautiful city of Salt Lake burst to our view. Joy. Joy. Here was to us a paradise indeed. ...[40]                                                                                                                                                  

            Agnes Baxter states in her history that:

            When crossing streams and rivers, Thomas Ricks would carry the women on their backs across the water. They were not required to wade. Game was abundant during our travels, the hunters kept us supplied with fresh meat such as antelope and buffalo. The wagons that had come from Salt Lake had brought flour and bacon so we were well supplied with food.

            Fort Bridger, as I remember it was a long log building, and with port holes along the sides of the building to protect themselves from the Indians. This was the first building and habitation we had seen for hundreds of miles.[41]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Wanda Ricks Wyler continues with her history:                                                    

            On Tuesday, August 27, at 12:30 P.M., Captain Ricks with his mule train arrived in SLC. He had with him 46 wagons and 251 passengers. They camped in the space provided for the immigrants at the General Tithing office yard. Many settlers came there to meet them looking for their friends and relatives who took them to their homes. Bishop Hunter and his counselors cared for a few who had no place to go. The rest of the immigrants went with the wagons to Cache Valley or beyond where friends were awaiting them. [42]                                                                                                                     

Figure 27 - Wagon Train headed down Echo Canyon

 

ZION

Zion (Salt Lake City)                                                                       

     Figure 28 - An early years view of the Salt Lake Valley

 

            Phebe Norris Smith in her history of Agnes McDowell Smith describes their arrival in Salt Lake City and their call to Randolph as follows:                                                                      

            Thomas’ brother, Joseph Smith, met them when they arrived in the old tithing yard.  He took them to a home he had prepared for them and soon they were all seated at a table spread with good food. They were delighted to be eating at a table after eating around a campfire for three months.      

            When they reached Salt Lake City in the fall of 1866, Thomas’ brother Joseph had a small log house ready for them to move into. It was on State and Broadway where the Center Theater now stands.                                                   

            In Salt Lake City, the boys built a carpenter shop and Agnes took in sewing; thus they provided for themselves until May, 1870.  They lived in Salt Lake City for four years before being called to help settle Randolph.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Zion (Randolph)                                                                                                                    

 

            In 1870 Brigham Young called Agnes and her family to go to the Bear River Valley  (Randolph).  Agnes came with her children Thomas, Isaac, Harry, Jim, Mary Elizabeth and Agnes. William John and Joseph stayed in Salt Lake City. The first settlers to Randolph came on March 14, 1870. Later in the summer, about June 20th other settlers came including Agnes Smith and her family.                               

            The family lived in a covered wagon that summer while the boys were getting out logs to build a house. The boys slept under the wagon on the ground.                                                                                  

Figure 29 – Shoshone Village near Randolph

 

Figure 30 - Early Settlements in Bear Lake Valley (including Randolph)

           

The boys built their mother the first shingled house in Randolph. They went to the canyon, got out dry logs, sawed them with a cross cut saw, and split them into shingles with a broad ax. The first meeting house was of logs and measured 18 by 24 feet. The pioneers also held school and had dances in this building. In 1877, ten men were called to go to make a road in the south fork of Logan Canyon. Ike and Thom Smith were two of them; they received two dollars a day for their work, which was paid by the people of the town. Part of it was in store pay, which their mother received. They did the work with ox teams. Later they were called to get out rock for the Logan Temple. James, Thom and Ike took up land under the squatters right; it is now part of the BQ Ranch. Jim sold it and moved to Rexburg, Idaho where he married and went into business.[43]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Ruth Smith Jackson continues her history of the family in Randolph as follows:           

            Feeding this large family was some problem. The boys fished and hunted for wild game and they ate pigweeds for greens. They surely suffered many privations during that first year in Randolph.  Agnes' daughter, Mary Elizabeth and Alfred Rex were the first couple married in Randolph according to the ward records.

            Picture this little mother and her daughters washing, cooking and ironing, for a family of eight in a covered wagon; they rubbed the clothes on a board and used heavy washtubs made out of barrels sawed in two. The pioneers say they were so heavy it took two women to empty them. The ironing was done with heavy flat irons heated on the coal stove.                                                                                    

 

Figure 31 - Randolph’s first Relief Society House

 

Figure 32 - Rich County Courthouse

 

Ruth Smith Jackson adds to the history of their life in Randolph as follows:

            On September 27, 1874, Eliza R. Snow came to Randolph and organized the Relief Society with Sarah Tyson as president, Sarah Stewart and Jane Swartz as counselors and Emily Woodruff as secretary. Agnes Smith, Mary McKinnon, Elizabeth Brough, Mary Snowball, Caroline Weist and Elizabeth Brown were set apart as visiting teachers. Sarah and Agnes had crossed the ocean from England together and were good friends.

            After living in Randolph a number of years, the family were in quite good circumstances and Agnes wrote to her husband and told him if he would consent to come to Utah, they would send his fare and he would be provided for as long as he lived. He wrote on the back of her letter, 'We will meet on that beautiful shore, but never on this earth.' That was the only word she ever received from him.                                                              

            Hyrum Smith who had stayed with his father in England, told Edward Sutton (a missionary grandson-in-law) that when his father came home the night the family left for America, he broke down and cried like a baby. He said, 'who will play with the bricks and mortar now my children are gone.' Agnes never ceased to love her husband, but she felt she was doing what was right in bringing her family to Zion. [44]       

                                                                                                                       

Zion (Fish Haven)                                                                                                                                              

            Thomas Smith (son of Hugh & Agnes) settled in Bear Lake valley, Fish Haven, Idaho where he helped with the building of the Logan Temple. [45]  Thomas Smith married Ella Margaret Hill on 12 October 1878. He was 30 years old and she was 14. Ella Margaret Hill was the daughter of Isaac Hill and Mary Jane Miller.  They bought a farm at Fish Haven, Idaho and built a house on it in which they lived.[46]        

Figure 33 - Bear Lake from the Smith Farm in Fish Haven

 

 

Figure 34 - Thomas Smith Home in Fish Haven (2001)

 

 

 

                                               

            They had 10 children: Thomas William (b. 18 Apr. 1880), John Melvin (b. 4 Sept. 1881), Ella Jane (b. 25 Jun. 1883), Ernest Raymond (b. 29 Dec. 1885), Elmer Hyrum (b. 8 Jan. 1888),  Agnes Edna (b. 7 Dec. 1889), Henry Hugh (b. 6 Jan. 1895), Ralph (b. 27 Jan. 1898), Hettie Annie (b. 5 Jan. 1900), and Parley Hill (b. 6 Oct. 1904). All of the children were born in Fish Haven, Idaho.  Thomas Smith died on 26 June 1909 near St. Charles, Idaho at age 62 and was taken to St. Charles, Idaho for burial.[37]  His wife Ella Margaret died on 5 October 1921 in Fish Haven, Idaho at age 57.[47]                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                   

 

Figure 35 - Thomas Smith Obituary

                                                                                                                                                           

 

                                                                                   

                                                                       

I

References:                                                                          

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

            [1] Trail of Hope.  The Story of the Mormon Trail, by William W. Slaughter and Michael Landon.       [2] Family Group Records of Terry Smith                                                               

            [3] Hugh Smith written by Anne Mower                                                                  

            [4] Agnes McDowell Smith by Phebe Norris Smith

            [5] Diary of Mathew Lanktree

            [6] History of John Smith by Phebe Morris Smith

            [7] Hugh Smith written by Anne Mower

            [8] William John Smith by Nellie Rex Smith Fisher

            [9] Hugh Smith written by Anne Mower or History of Agnes McDowell Smith by Ruth Smith Jackson

            [10] Manchester Ship (May 1862), Mormon Immigration Index CD

            [11] William John Smith by Nellie Rex Smith Fisher

            [12] Agnes McDowell Smith by Phebe Norris Smith

            [13] Autobiography of B.H. Roberts, John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Account

            [14] John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Accounts

            [15] National Archives Microfilm Publications

            [16] William John Smith by Nellie Rex Smith Fisher

            [17] The First Emigrant Mule Train, told by Agnes Baxter

            [18] Edwin L. Dunbaugh and William duBarry Thomas, Hlilliam H. Webb: Shipbuilder (Glen Cove, New York: Webb Institute of Naval Architecture, 1989), pp. 197-198

            [19] Agnes McDowell Smith by Phebe Norris Smith

            [20] Autobiography of B.H. Roberts, John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Account

            [21] Diary of John Lunn, John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Accounts

            [22] Letter from Septimus W. Sears – June 1, 1866,  John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Accounts

            [23] Autobiography and Diary of William Grant, John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Accounts

            [24] Autobiography of B.H. Roberts, John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Accounts

            [25] Castle Garden was founded for processing immigrants in 1855. It was established off the southwest tip of Manhattan.  This was the primary port of entry for immigrants until 1892 when Ellis Island was opened. It was originally named Castle Clinton.

            [26] Diary of Caroline Hopkins Clark, John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Accounts

            [27] Autobiography and Diary of William Grant, John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Accounts

            [28] Autobiography of B.H. Roberts, John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Accounts

            [29] Agnes McDowell Smith by Phebe Norris Smith

            [30] The First Emigrant Mule Train, told by Agnes Baxter

            [31] The First Emigrant Mule Train, told by Agnes Baxter

            [32] The First Emigrant Mule Train, told by Agnes Baxter

            [33] Autobiography and Diary of William Grant, John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal Accounts.

            [34] Autobiography of Andrew Jensen, Our Pioneer Heritage, compiled by Kate B. Carter, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1967, V. 10.

            [35] Historical Atlas of Mormonism by S. Kent Brown

            [36] Hugh Smith written by Anne Mower

            [37] Agnes McDowell Smith by Phebe Norris Smith

            [38] Thomas E. Ricks, Colonizer and Founder, by Wanda Ricks Wyler

            [39] History of Agnes McDowell Smith by Ruth Smith Jackson.

            [40] Autobiography and Diary of William Grant, John Bright (April 1866), Mormon Immigration Index, Personal

            [41] The First Emigrant Mule Train, told by Agnes Baxter

            [42] Thomas E. Ricks, Colonizer and Founder, by Wanda Ricks Wyler

            [43] Agnes McDowell Smith by Phebe Norris Smith

            [44] History of Agnes McDowell Smith by Ruth Smith Jackson

            [45] Hugh Smith, written by Anne Mower

            [46] A Short Sketch of the Life History of Mary Jane Miller Hill, written by her granddaughter Stella (J.) McElprang, daughter of Elizabeth Hill (Cook) Johnson.

            [47] Montpelier Examiner, Friday, July 2, 1909 (Vol. XV No. 24)

 

 

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