Thomas Morgan (1821-1915) was a Mormon pioneer who emigrated from England to Utah in 1855. He, his wives and families, were pioneers in the truest sense of the word, clearing new land never before cultivated, building frontier homes, establishing community infrastructure, and contributing to church and institutions of stable community life. He and his two wives and families were involved in the founding or early settlement of at least seven communities in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. The descendants of Thomas Morgan and his two wives, Ann and Nancy Jane, now number in the thousands.
It is hoped that those who read and study the history of Thomas and his families will bond closer to their family roots, will further appreciate their origins, and gain a better understanding of the hard work and sacrifices these pioneer Morgans made for us, the descendants. The Morgans were clearly and strongly motivated by their new-found faith in Mormonism. Nothing of their lives after their conversion to the church in 1851 can be understood without knowing and understanding the depth of their commitment to Mormonism as a cause, as a social and religious movement, and as the source of their faith. The rawness and hardships of their pioneer lives are truly amazing to us today.
This story needs to be told but we are hampered by a lack of information directly from the Morgans. Our immigrant Morgan pioneers were not writers. They did not keep diaries. No known letters of theirs have survived. As a result we know little of their daily thoughts and feelings, their joys and griefs. What we have learned has come from three main sources: 1) records of the Morgans found in official documents such as church and civil records, 2) family records, stories, and memories written by a few early descendants, and 3) aspects of the broader history and the social and religious movements that the Morgans were a part of. This third source enables us to elaborate and put into broader context the circumstances and conditions of their lives. We are also fortunate that a few photographs have survived of Thomas Morgan and some of his family members. In our electronic age we are now able to improve the quality of the pictures and distribute them on the Internet.
Thomas Morgan died in Idaho in 1915. The two wives with whom he had children predeceased him. In 2002 there were three, perhaps four, living grandchildren of Thomas. Only one of them (Ruth Hanson, born in 1908) was born before his death.
Herefordshire, England, the Morgan Ancestral Home
The ancient county of Herefordshire, England is located in western England forming part of the English-Welsh border. The rural village of Much Cowarne, birth place of Thomas Morgan, is in the eastern part of that county in the relatively fertile Frome River Valley (pronounce Froom to rhyme with broom). For many centuries this region was a border land where at least three distinct cultures lived: the native Welsh (Britons), the English (Anglo-Saxons), and French nobles and rulers who built many of the castles in the area.
The surname Morgan comes from the Welsh language. Some of our ancestors were named Gwilliam which is the Welsh form of William. Other of our ancestral names, Davies (meaning son of David or Davidson), and Watkins (son of Walter), are much more common in Wales than England. These names suggest a Welsh origin of at least some of our Herefordshire ancestors. The Welsh were essentially the defeated culture as the English took over and made Herefordshire part of England. The descendants of Welsh, therefore, at one time made up primarily the lower and working classes in this socially structured area.
Much Cowarne, the Morgans birth village, is very ancient and once occupied more land than at present. More than 1000 years ago it was divided into two units, Little Cowarne to the north and Much Cowarne on the south. It has not been determined how far back in time our ancestors lived in this area.
Thomas Morgan was just a child of seven or eight when his father Thomas Morgan died in 1829, and he was orphaned at the age of about nine when his mother, Hannah Davies Morgan, died in 1830. His parents premature deaths left a family of eight orphaned children, the oldest about 13, the youngest, 3 years. We dont know who raised the Morgan children after 1830 but it is possible that their maternal grandparents, William Davies and Hannah Gwilliam Davies, helped out some. Their grandfather Davies lived for 20 years after the children lost their mother, and grandmother Davies lived 15 years after the death of their mother.
The loss of their parents undoubtedly left the children poor and without opportunity for much education or formal training in the skilled trades. In Englands first census of Herefordshire in 1841, Thomas Morgan was listed as 20 years old, single, and living in the Richard and Eleanor Haynes household with other single adults in what might have been a boarding house in Much Cowarne. No other member of his family lived in that household.
Thomas was identified in the Herefordshire censuses and other documents as a farm laborer. Persons in the census identified as farm laborers did not own the land they worked on. Most farmers who owned land in Herefordshire had small family farms which could not offer much steady work for young men like Thomas. Also, during the time our Morgan families lived in Herefordshire, new farming techniques were making farming more efficient. Much farmland consolidation was taking place. This was basically a period when larger and more efficient private landholders were buying out smaller farmers and publicly held lands, creating a surplus of farm labor and many landless peasants. Landless farm laborers had essentially no opportunities to buy their own land or make a good living as laborers. This depressed labor economy caused emigration of labor from the county, many choosing to go to the factory towns in the English Midlands or South Wales. But more than a few, like our Thomas Morgan and his brother Joseph, chose the much longer migration path to America, to be discussed later.
An example of the larger farms emerging in nineteenth century Herefordshire can be seen in the census of Herefordshire in 1851, where Thomas Morgan, his family, and brother Joseph (also a farm laborer), lived next door to the John Davies family (possibly relatives on his mothers side) who owned a comparatively large farm of 223 acres and employed servants and farm laborers. Thomas and Joseph possibly worked on that farm or some others like it.
As a farm laborer in Herefordshire, Thomas would have learned many practical skills very useful later in his life as a Mormon pioneer. Although Herefordshire and the American West are very different in climates and soils, many crops and animals are the same or similar in both regions. Herefordshire has a rolling, somewhat hilly countryside kept perpetually green and forested by up to four times as much rain as the settled areas in Utah. Fields in Herefordshire required no irrigation. Wheat, apples (for cider) and hops were important commercial crops, but agriculture in the Much Cowarne area was mainly livestock oriented, with most land being devoted to pasture, hay and fodder for sheep, cattle, and dairy cows. Wool had long been an important crop for sale and for home spinning into yarn. Beef cattle, especially the red-coated, white-faced Hereford named for this county, were very important in Thomas Morgans region. Vegetables were grown mainly for the familys own use.
Landless farm labor families such as the Morgans rarely saw much real money. Just like on the Mormon frontier later in their lives, they would have traded much of their labor and goods in kind. Young Thomas Morgans most valuable assets for later pioneering life in America was his knowledge of farm work and his willingness to work at all handy trades needed as a pioneer in Utah and Idaho. His wife Ann, likewise, would have learned many domestic trades needed to raise a large family in the largely self-reliant communities of the Mormon West. Community cooperation motivated by their faith in building a Mormon Zion was their driving force.
Much Cowarne in the nineteenth century had a popu-lation of about 500 people scattered in a rural tract with independent landowners living out on their privately held farm lands. In most of England farmhouses were clustered close to one another in rural nucleated farm villages. The focal point of this dispersed farming community was the Much Cowarne Anglican church and a few farm houses. The closest city to Much Corwarn was Hereford, about nine miles to the southwest. Other of our ances-tral communities in the vicinity of Much Cow-arne, such as Bish-ops Frome (where several of Thomas Morgans children were born), Castle Frome, and Avenbury are also dis-persed rural farming tracts with an ancient Anglican church serv-ing as each com-munity's focal point. Mormon pioneer communities in Utah were different in many ways from Herefordshire communities. Farmers in pioneer Utah built their homes and farm buildings in town rather than out on farm lands. These Mormon nucleated farm villages were the result of a high degree of community involvement and cooperation promoted by their religious faith. As founders of Mormon frontier communities in Utah, Thomas Morgan could actually own and have title to the land he settled. As a poor farm laborer in Herefordshire, there would have been no opportunity for him to own land in his homeland.
The Hereford region of England is also especially notable for its many early converts to Mormonism. As early as 1840 the Mormon missionary, Wilford Woodruff, had more success in the Frome River Valley of Herefordshire than any other area, as he converted whole congregations of Protestants within a few weeks of preaching. The communities of Castle Frome and Bishops Frome where the Morgans sometimes lived saw more than 600 people baptized into the LDS church in 1840. Whole congregations of former Methodists called United Brethren joined the Mormons. As opposition to Mormonism grew, this rate of conversion was reduced but still remained relatively high for many years. Thomas Morgan converted to Mormonism in September of 1851, and his wife in 1852. Thomas and Ann remained faithful members of their new church all of their lives. Mormonism gave them a strong faith-based set of principles and a driving force which enabled them to work cooperatively with other saints in founding new settlements in the American West. More about this later.
Morgan Ancestors in Herefordshire.
(Pedigree charts are available at www.familysearch.org.)
Thomas Morgan was born in Much Cowarne in 1821 or 1822. He alone among his brothers and sisters is the only one whose christening or birthdate was not recorded in the Much Cowarne Parish Register. His exact birthdate remains unknown as he apparently did not know it himself. But in all available censuses in Britain and Utah, as well as in LDS Church records, his reported age consistently indicates that he was born sometime late in 1821 or early 1822.
Both of his parents had died by the time Thomas was about nine years old, as discussed above. It is not known what family raised him and his siblings after 1830, but possibly it was his Davies grandparents or other relatives.
Thomas Morgan was the third generation Morgan son named Thomas. In order to reduce confusion in this genealogy discussion he will be here only designated as Thomas Morgan III; his father Thomas Morgan II; his grandfather Thomas Morgan I.
Thomas Morgan III married Ann Ollen Watkins 17 April 1841 in the Bromyard Parish Church located less than 5 miles northeast of Much Cowarne. They lived for several years in Bishops Frome, a community of scattered farms adjacent to Much Cowarne. Parish records of Bishops Frome show that the birthplace of most of their first five children was in Bishops Frome as follows: Edward, born 16 May 1843; Elizabeth, 31 Aug. 1845; Eliza 11 Apr. 1849; Mary Ann 3 Nov. 1851 and died 26 Nov. 1852; Priscilla 3 Aug. 1854.
Another source of information, the 1851 census of Herefordshire, reports Thomas and Anns family living in Bishops Frome and his occupation agricultural laborer, age 30, born in Much Cowarne. Anns age is listed as 28, born in nearby Avenbury. Their children: Edward, age 7, is listed as born in Bishops Frome; Elizabeth, age 5, born in Belbroughton, Worcestershire, about 40 miles northeast of Much Cowarne. The birthplace of Elizabeth, if reported correctly, suggests that this family moved temporarily, perhaps to go where farm work was available. The next child, Eliza, age 1, was listed as born in Bishops Frome, in the 1851 census. Also living in this familys household in 1851 was Thomas brother Joseph Morgan, a 28-year-old agricultural laborer from Much Cowarne.
Thomas Morgan's parents were Thom-as Morgan II (1777-1829) and Hannah Davies (1791-1830). Thomas II was christened at the Much Cowarne Parish Church 12 Feb. 1778. He married Hannah Davies, 8 May 1816, in the nearby Castle Frome Parish Church. Together they had a family of eight children: Ann, 1817; William, 1819; Charles, 1820; Thomas, 1821 or 22; Joseph, 1823; Hannah, 1824; Edward, 1826; and James, 1827. A family story about this Thomas claims that he fought in the battle of Waterloo, Belgium, where the British forces under the Duke of Wellington de-feated Napoleon Bonapart of France in 1815. He supposedly suffered from wounds sustained in the battle and his premature death at the age of 52 may in part have been from those wounds. His participation in that battle has not been verified by documents, but his delayed marriage in 1816, at the age of about 39, makes the story sound plausible. The Napoleonic wars were fought off and on for years before 1815, but ended at Waterloo. Thomas II could have been in the British Army for years before his marriage.
Thomas II (1777) was the son of Thomas Morgan I, born about 1751 at Bishops Frome, and Elizabeth Dance; they married on 28 Oct. 1777 in Much Cowarne. His death date is unknown. Elizabeth was born about 1755 in Much Cowarne and died in 1816 in Much Cowarne.
Thomas Morgan I, may have been the son of Joseph Morgan of Much Cowarne.
Hannah Davies, mother of our Thomas Morgan III, was the first of five children born to William Davies and Hannah Gwilliam. She was christened at the Bishops Frome Parish Church on 30 Nov. 1791. Nothing is known of her life except that she and husband Thomas lived in Much Cowarne and she died there in 1830 at age 39, leaving her young Morgan children, ages from 3 to 13, without parents. We dont know who raised these children but possibly her parents or some other relatives were involved.
Hannahs father, William Davies, was born about 1766 in Cradley, Herefordshire, about seven miles east of Much Cowarne. On 22 Feb. 1790 he married Hannah Gwilliam, who was born 1 June 1766 in Cradley He died in 1850. Hannah died in 1845.
Hannah Gwilliam was the daughter of Joseph Gwilliam (1739) and his wife Elizabeth (1742) of Much Cowarne. Hannah Gwilliam was the oldest child of a family of seven.
The Watkins Ancestors in Herefordshire
Thomas Morgans wife Ann Ollen Watkins was the daughter of James Watkins who was born 12 Dec. 1776 in Avenbury, Herefordshire, and Elizabeth Holland, born in Handbury, Herefordshire. James Watkins was a blacksmith in Avenbury but had previously lived in Sheer, Herefordshire. According to records Ann joined the Mormon church in 1852, several months after her husband had joined. Perhaps she waited later because, according to Alvin Elmer Morgan and other descendants, her parents and perhaps others in her family seriously objected to her joining the Mormons.
By the 1850s anti-Mormon fervor had reached a high pitch in western England, in part due to its cult image fostered by the news media and opposition from the Church of England, and other Protestants. But, also, British families by this time knew that if one of their own joined the Mormons he or she was destined to emigrate from England, abandon their friends and family forever in order to cast their lot with this strange cult now being taken to an isolated desert wilderness in far-away America. We cant blame them for being angry or despondent at the thought of this loss. To some, losing a child to the Mormons was a fate worse than death.
A story about Anns experience handed down to the Morgan descendants (as recorded by Alvin Elmer Morgan and others) is that her parents were so irate about her interest in the Mormons that they threatened to disown her if she were to join the Mormons. She in fact did not join until after her fathers death. Later when she decided to emigrate to the new Zion some member(s) of her family threatened to kill her if she ever came back. She grieved over this for years. Such stories cant be verified as to exactly what was said but experiences like these were relatively common among pioneer Mormon converts.
Family records, in part verified by the 1841 and 1851 census of Herefordshire indicate that James and Elizabeth had a family of at least six chidlren as follows:
John Watkins, b. 4 June 1810, Herefordshire;
Edward Watkins, b. 15 April 1814, Sheer, Herefordshire;
Charley Watkins, b. 25 June 1816, Sheer, Herefordshire;
James Watkins, b. 12 August 1818, Sheer, Herefordshire;
Ann Ollen Watkins, b. 15 March 1822, Avenbury, Herefordshire;
James died in Avenbury 23 Jun 1850 (before Ann joined the church). He was the son of John Watkins, born about 1750. Elizabeth Holland Watkins was born in 1784 in Handbury, Herefordshire, and died 26 March 1865, ten years after her daughter Ann O. Watkins Morgan had migrated to America. Her father was James Holland of Handbury, born about 1758. Her mothers name was Nancy, born about 1762.
Sources on Herefordshire and the Morgan/Watkins Ancestors
Census of Herefordshire County, England, 1841 (FHL Film #288 814)
Census of Herefordshire County, England, 1851 (FHL Film #087 381)
Dodgshon, R. A. 1978. An Historical Geography of England and Wales. Academic Press, London, New York, San Francisco.
Early British Membership File [Mormon Church] (FHL film # 415 451).
This file contains vital data provided by the Morgans themselves in 1857 when living in Goshen, Utah. It includes date and place data as well as the names of the parents of each and the dates they were first baptized into the Mormon Church.
Evans, Richard L
1990 A Century of Mormonism in Great Britain. Deseret News Press, pages 109-118.
1990 Little Cowarne A Herefordshire Village Bormyard District Local History Society
Parish Register of Avenbury, FHL Film #992 634, Items 10-17.
Parish Register of Bishops Frome, FHL Film #992 635 Items 13-19.
Parish Register of Much Cowarne, FHL Film #1040324 Items 10-22
West, John and Margaret.
1991 A History of Herefordshire. University of Oxford Press.
EMIGRATING TO AMERICA
According to membership records Thomas Morgan joined the Mormon Church in September 1851 and Ann in Feb. 1852, probably when they were living in Bishops Frome. A decision to join with the Mormons was not one taken lightly. On one hand it was typically met with some level of scorn or ostracism from friends and relatives and on the other hand it meant leaving home for a long and arduous trip to the frontier of America. Poor families such as the Morgans could not make such a trip without the help of the Mormon Church and perhaps others. So when it came time for Thomas to apply for passage on a ship to America, he made his application to Mormon Church authorities in England. In February of 1855 he and his family were granted space on the ship Siddons, chartered by the Church especially for Mormon emigrants. To help secure this passage he paid an initial small deposit of £4/0/0 (four pounds no shillings, no pence) for steerage (third class) down in the lower deck of the ship. This amount would have been equal to several days of work as a farm laborer in England at that time. He would owe an additional £10/0/0 at some time in the future. He probably paid this debt the form of labor after reaching Utah.
On Feb. 27, 1855, they boarded the Siddons in Liverpool, England, and set sail for Philadelphia, arriving there on 21 April 1855. All members of the family were listed except for their oldest son Edward. Edward had already emigrated to Utah with his uncle Joseph Morgan in 1853. He and uncle Joe boarded the ship Elvira Owen in Liverpool on 15 February and arrived in New Orleans March 31, 1853. They crossed the plains together, Edward being only nine at the time, in a wagon train led by Jacob Secrist.
Many of the 430 LDS passengers embarking on the Siddons were being assisted financially by the LDS Church fund called the Perpetual Emigration Fund. Poor members who qualified for emigration under the auspices of the P.E.F. borrowed from that fund and were to pay back into the fund over a period of time after they arrived in Utah. Payment could be with money or in the form of labor on various church-sponsored projects. P.E.F. emigrants were formed into P.E.F. companies so that the church could more easily charter ships and riverboats and acquire supplies for wagon trains for each of such groups.
Thomas Morgan and his family traveled with a P.E.F. group when they boarded the ship. The Church kept careful records of all member emigrants who traveled in LDS-sponsored groups, especially where P.E.F. funds were used to charter ships or aid in the emigration process. Although the Morgans were listed in the Churchs Siddons departure log as ordinary passengers rather than as P.E.F.-sponsored, they traveled with P.E.F. passengers all the way to Utah, and this helps us track their route. Mormon Elder John S. Fullmer was put in charge of the 430 LDS members on the Siddons.
Many of the ships crossing the Atlantic in the 1850s were driven by steam engines rather than by sails. But sailing ships were still used in the 1850s because they were cheaper than steamships. The Siddons was an old sail-driven ship built in 1837, so on this voyage it struggled against westerly winds that slowed it down when plying the Atlantic to America. The Morgans cheaper steerage tickets were for the deck down below those of the second and first-class passengers. This was not a comfortable cruise. On the voyage taken by the Morgans, it took the Siddons nearly two months to cross from Liverpool to Philadelphia because of contrary winds. U. S. Customs listed the Thomas Morgan family as passengers from the Siddons who disembarked there and every family member, even baby Priscilla, declared two trunks of goods each.
The author, Conway Sonne, states that after a railway ride to Pittsburgh, The Saints from the ship Siddons [in 1855] took an unnamed steamboat from Pittsburgh to St. Louis, arriving there May 7.... The next day some of these emigrants continued on [up the Missouri River] to Atchison, Kansas, on board the 297-ton side-wheeler [steamboat] Golden State... Other emigrants from the ship Siddons boarded the steamboat Polar Star ... which left St. Louis early in May... for a ride up the Missouri River to Atchison, Kansas, where they disembarked.
It is about 600 miles in a straight line from Pittsburgh to St. Louis. But, of course, the rivers are not straight. They meander considerably, making actual river distance from Pittsburgh to Atchison probably close to 1200 Miles. A little more than four miles west of Atchison, the emigrants from the Siddons gathered early in the summer with many other Mormons in the outfitting point known as Mormon Grove, Kansas.
The LDS Church official who founded Mormon Grove was Milo Andrus, the leader (Stake President) of all Mormons in the St. Louis area. During the summer of 1855 he directed thousands of Mormon emigrants to Mormon Grove where he could organize them into several wagon train companies, purchase cattle, oxen, and other supplies needed to get them started on their way to the Salt Lake Valley. The Morgan family remained in Mormon Grove until the very last wagon train to leave there that season. They possibly worked on the farm at Mormon Grove which was growing potatoes and vegetables for the emigrants. That last train departed Mormon Grove on August 5. It was led by Milo Andrus. The Milo Andrus wagon train company was identified in migration records as a P.E F. company consisting of 452 persons. It arrived in Salt Lake on October 24, 1855.
Few words were ever recorded by anybody about this particular wagon trip across the plains. Our Morgan families wrote not a word of their adventures on the seas or across the plains. Their leader Milo Andrus wrote a letter to his friend when the train had crossed the Big Blue River in Kansas on Aug. 15, and again 30 miles up the Little Blue River in Nebraska on August 22. He wrote a third letter when his wagons were 12 miles east of Fort Laramie, Wyoming, on the Platte River on September 13. In these letters Elder Andrus says almost nothing about the journey itself except for a few casual references to a few people who got sick and that very few had died, and on the whole everyone was generally in good health and good enough spirits to sing in the evening.
When his wagon train got to its destination in Salt Lake Valley on October 24, 1855, Thomas Morgan was listed in the roster of this train. Three of the people who died on this journey were identified as William Davies, a child Elizabeth Davies, and child John Davies. It is not known if these Davies, who bore the surname of Thomas mother, were relatives of the Morgans.
Though nothing in particular is known about the Morgans experience while crossing the nearly 1200 miles from eastern Kansas to the Salt Lake Valley, we can extrapolate from historical sources and the diaries of others which illustrate typical experiences and dangers.
All wagon trains could find their way along the route much easier if they followed designated rivers wherever possible. Most Mormon wagon trains followed the established Mormon Trail, which left from Winter Quarters near present Omaha, Nebraska, and followed the Platte River upstream along the north bank. The Platte flows eastward from central Wyoming to the Missouri south of Omaha. Wagon trains leaving from Kansas, such as the one the Morgans were in, headed for the south side of the Platte River, which they reached near present Hastings, Nebraska, by following up two rivers out of Kansas (Big Blue and Little Blue Rivers). Though the Platte was not deep enough for riverboats (in fact it was very shallow in some places), it led to an easy pass through mountains in Wyoming and it had necessary resources, such as water, better grazing grass, and woods in some places.
Upon reaching Fort Laramie, which was on the south side of the Platte in eastern Wyoming, the wagon trains would stop for provisions and a rest. Continuing westward, beyond present Casper, Wyoming, the emigrants headed for a broad open pass more than 7,500 feet above sea level called South Pass, which is a continental divide that divides headwaters of rivers. Eastward from the pass, rivers like the Platte flow east to the Missouri. West of the pass, rivers flow south or west to the Pacific or the Great Salt Lake. Traveling through South Pass signifies that the emigrants, with relative ease, had gone around some major mountain ranges of the Rockies. From South Pass the wagons headed toward Fort Bridger or Fort Supply near present Evanston, Wyoming, where they again obtained provisions. The last leg of the journey was to traverse Utahs Wasatch Mountains through present Echo Canyon and Parleys Canyon down into the Salt Lake Valley.
From the Journal of John William Dutson, a native of Herefordshire whose family crossed the plains in 1857, and who later became neighbors to the Morgans while living in Millard County, Utah, we read: [page 24]
The company got an early start and traveled without difficulty in the morning. The cattle were very quiet to all appearances until they got to Rattlesnake Creek. Our cattle [then] became very restless. We moved on. Some Sioux Indians came to us. They were friendly toward us. We got dinner and then moved on ... I have just been back and cautioned all in my ten to rope their lead cattle that were wild. When I had just got to the second wagon ... of the ten, a team in the third ten run, starting [startling] the whole train. At this moment I took a large club and prepared myself to do the best I could to save the lives of the people. I yelled to the women and children to stay in their wagons and not to jump out. But many of them jumped out while the wagons were coming in all directions. Many were run over and some were expected not to live. I broke [stopped] the train [from stampeding] as well as I could with a club ... and thereby saved the lives of many that was lying on the road that jumped from the wagons. Brother Terry and I ... administered [a prayerful healing blessing] to them as we found them on the ground. Some of them would ask us to administer to them a number of times ... they began to recover. There was a great many injured but no one was killed. We then carried those that were hurt ... to their wagons, pitched their tents and stopped to attend to the wounded.
This quote illustrated many things about traveling in a Mormon wagon train during the Mormon migration, for example: getting an early start in the morning. According to author H. H. Bancroft, migrants were awakened as early as 5:00 AM to begin breakfast and preparations for the days journey. In a large train it could take up to two hours to make such preparations. Departure by daybreak would be a common goal. John Dutson mentioned Rattlesnake Creek which was necessary to ferry across. Even though the Mormon Trail stayed mainly on the north bank of the Platte River, several tributary streams enter the Platte from the north. Many of these streams were easy to cross but some were hazardous, time consuming and dangerous.
The Milo Andrus company left from Kansas and likely traveled up the south bank of the Platte, the trail commonly traveled by non-Mormon emigrants en route to Oregon. The south bank also has tributary streams that had to be crossed. Especially big is the South Platte River which enters the main Platte near the present city of North Platte, Nebraska. Ester Stevenson, who was in the same wagon train as the Dutsons, wrote in her diary that [page 22]:
one difficulty we had to meet was fording the larger streams where there were no ferries. Always there was the danger of quicksand. All who were able had to wade across, and many times we came out of the almost ice-cold water with our clothes wet to our necks and had to walk on while the sun dried them. It was a terrible experience for those who were delicate, and many times some were almost overcome in the stream.
Adult men and older boys carried children and some women across the streams.
John Dutson also commented on being visited by friendly Sioux Indians. Indians were feared as they frequently visited the Mormon trains. Indians typically approached a wagon train in small numbers and when they did they faced hundreds of armed people in the wagon train, but there were usually no threats on either side. The Indians were usually curious and friendly, sometimes wanting to trade for goods. Sometimes, during the night, Indians would attempt to stampede cattle in order to steal them. But rarely was a Mormon traveler killed by Indians while crossing the plains. There were other dangers far worse than the threat of Indian violence.
Anything that would stampede cattle was of great concern to the travelers as clearly indicated by John Dutson, for such an event would wreck havoc on wagons and injure or kill people. Dutsons diary contains comments every day about the conditions of the cattle being driven along as well as the oxen pulling the wagons. He was constantly concerned about whether the cattle would get nervous and stampede. Johns references to administering to the injured refers to a well established Mormon practice. Men with priesthood authority, while placing their hands on the head of the injured, said a prayer and blessing, calling on the Lord to heal the person. We can imagine that many people asked for and received this rite while emigrating to Salt Lake.
Brother Dutson also refers to wagons of ten. This refers to the way the wagon train company was organized. Dutson was a Ten Captain. Each wagon train was led by a hierarchy of captains with one commander in charge of the whole train. The commander would have subordinate captains for each unit of 100 wagons, each led by a Hundred Captain. They were further divided into units of fifty wagons, each led by a Fifty Captain, with each of them divided into units of ten wagons, each led by a Ten Captain.
Strict discipline and order were required by all captains. Alcoholic drinks and even swearing were forbidden. Disputes between travelers were quickly settled or mollified. In contrast to often contentious relationships of migrants in non-Mormon trains, Mormon migrants addressed one another as brother and sister or elder. The well-being of the whole and harmony were positively promoted as necessary tenets of their faith and for the success of the trip.
Dutson also refers to women and children as being in their wagons. Actually, whether people rode in wagons or walked varied greatly from train to train. Beginning in 1856 companies without oxen pulled all their goods in wooden handcarts, walking all the way. But even the ox-drawn wagon trains were often so heavily laden with provisions that there might not be enough room in the wagons for the able-bodied to ride, except for the teamster. Riding in a wagon, none of which had springs, was bumpy and jarring. Most people walked all the way, wearing their shoes out early on, some going barefoot most of the way. Another problem with the wagons was that they frequently broke down. Milo Andrus mentioned in his letters that his company had some problems with broken-down wagons which usually slowed the whole train down.
When camping for the night, the wagons were arranged end for end in a circle like a fort. Cattle were driven into the corral and watched by assigned herdsmen. Campfires and all camp activities were outside the circle. Some slept in wagons, others in tents. Buffalo chips or sage brush were common sources of fuel when there was no wood. After a dinner, hymns were sung in the evening to bolster morale and foster a sense of community. At about 9 or 10:00 PM a bugler, when available, would call taps for prayers and bedtime. Each night some men would take their turn at guard duty, a job which rotated in turn to all able men and older boys. The day began typically at five AM. By seven AM they were on their way, hoping to travel from 10 to 20 miles, grazing livestock along the way.
Wagons were pulled mostly by oxen, though mules or more expensive horses were sometimes used. In addition there were horsemen available to help control cattle, go on hunting excursions, or any needed quick maneuvering. Some wagons had small hen coops attached to the back or a place for a few small pigs. Food provisions for the trip largely consisted of dry foods such as wheat flour, bacon and ham. Some milk was drawn from a few cows. Game was hunted along the way but hunting for food was unreliable.
The first home in Utah for the Thomas and Ann Morgan family was in the town of Kaysville, located about 20 miles north of Salt Lake City on a somewhat narrow strip of good farming land between the Great Salt Lake and the Wasatch Mountains. Thomas young son Edward and Thomas brother Joseph, were already settled in Kaysville two years before Thomas and Anns family arrived. Thirteen year old son Edward must have been happy to see his family again. Kaysville was a frontier Mormon settlement founded in 1850. After more than a year there, Thomas and Ann had their first Utah-born child: William Thomas, born in Kaysville, 26 December 1856.
Thomas brother Joseph married Hannah Weaver in Kaysville in 1856 and they remained there the rest of their lives. She was a native of Bishops Frome and a descendant of the Watkins family. Joseph died on 8 June 1886 in Kaysville. Hannah died in 1916. He and Hannah had six children, all born in Kaysville.
Sources Used for Morgan Emigration
Arrington, Leonard. 1958 Great Basin Kingdom An Economic History of the Latter Day Saints.
University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. Explains Perpetual Emigration
Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, Mormon Emigration, 1963, Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 6, page 262
Flack, Dore Dutson, et al. Dutson Family History Vol. 1, Revised. 1998. Privately published by the authors. Pages 19-29.
Kimball, Stanley B. 1992 Historic Sites and Markers Along the Mormon and Other Great Western Trails University of Chicago Press, Chicago. See Mormon Grove pages 130-131.
Mormon Emigration Records from Liverpool, FHL Film #0025690
(1855 Siddons page 121 and 1853 Elvira Owen page 107.)
Journal History of the Church [Mormon] FHL Film #1259741 Events in Mormon history entered by date, contains the Milo Andrus letters.
The Milo Andrus Papers, University of Utah Special Collections Library, especially The Recorder newsletter pages 60-73.
Passengers Lists of Vessels Arriving at Philadelphia, 1855. FHL Film #419 652 (National Archives Roll #78).
Sonne, Conway B. Saints On The Sea A Maritime History of Mormon Migration.
1991 University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, pages 108-109.
Sonne, Conway G. Ships, Saints, And Mariners A Maritime Encyclopedia of Mormon Migration. 1953 University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, page 181 on the Siddons.
The Echo Canyon War, 1857
Family tradition states that Thomas Morgan participated in the Echo Canyon War. The so-called Echo Canyon War was not a war in and of itself but rather a part of a larger military campaign called the Utah War which took place during the winter of 1857-58. President James Buchanan, choosing to believe rumors that Brigham Young and the Utah Mormons were fomenting a rebellion against the United States, sent an army on its way to Utah in the fall of 1857.
Upon hearing that the U. S. Army was on its way to Utah to crush the Mormons, Brigham Young called the Nauvoo Legion (the territorial militia) from rank and file Mormons and sent troops of Mormon men to Echo Canyon and to Wyoming to put up a defense in advance of the Army. Echo Canyon is the main route into Utah from southwestern Wyoming and was the route taken by essentially all emigrants that came to Utah across the Great Plains. Interstate 80 now runs its length.
Daniel H. Wells, the leading Mormon commander, recruited the men, especially from the Provo area, to go to Echo Canyon to prepare to fight the U. S. Army should that army enter Utah from Fort Bridger, Wyoming. Hubert Howe Bancroft, in his History of Utah, page 513 writes that in late September of 1857...
Daniel H. Wells, in command of 1,250 [Mormon] men, supplied with thirty days rations, established his headquarters at Echo Canyon .... Through this canyon, the Mormons supposed, lay the path of the invading army, ... On the western side of the canyon dams and ditches were constructed, by means of which the road could be submerged to a depth of several feet of water; at the eastern side stone heaps were collected and boulders loosened from overhanging rocks so that a slight leverage would hurl them on the passing troops, and parapets were built as a protection for sharp-shooters.
In late 1857 a small Mormon guerrilla force managed to burn the U. S. Armys Fort Bridger, before the U. S. Army reached there and burned many of their advance wagons of supplies, stole many of their cattle, and set fire to range land to be used by the armys livestock.
In the meantime the Mormon people of Northern Utah were being prepared by Brigham Young to burn their homes and crops and flee to the south if the U. S. Army succeeded in reaching the Salt Lake Valley. Some 35,000 settlers of Northern Utah did in fact flee temporarily to areas south of the Salt Lake Valley. Some sources on our Morgan history claims that this was the time Thomas Morgan moved south to the Provo area and was called to the Echo Canyon War while there.
Later, in 1858, diplomacy on both sides won the day, the U. S. Army entered Utah peacefully, and based itself at Camp Floyd on the western side of Utah Lake. The army at Camp Floyd, known as Johnstons Army, after its commander Albert Sidney Johnston, remained at its Utah camp until 1861 when the soldiers went back East to fight the Civil War.
No shots were ever fired in Echo Canyon and there was really no hot war there where Thomas Morgan might have been. But the Utah War had an effect on all the Utah Mormons, as once again they were shown to be vulnerable to the threats of their enemies. Once again they had to face the possible destruction of their homes and farms and all that they had put into the land as pioneers. Once again they might have had to be moved by force. Regardless of whether Thomas Morgan was or was not among those men called to defend Echo Canyon, the Morgan family would definitely have felt and feared these trying times in the winter of 1857-58.
The Morgans in the Goshen Valley
The book Memories That Live compiled by Emma Huff and others contains details about the founding of two towns, Santaquin and Goshen, located in southern Utah County just south of Utah Lake and about 30 miles south of Provo. Thomas Morgan is identified in the above source as a founder of both of these communities, which are only about seven miles apart. He first appears in a list of settlers arriving in 1856 in what is now Santaquin to help build a fort and settlement there, then called Summit. Because of Indian hostilities at that time the settlers were required to build their homes close together and to construct a wall around the whole to form a fort.
This fort was very well arranged and enclosed all the houses....In this year, 1856, a rock school house was built in the fort. This building was 32 feet by 18 feet and the roof was made of cane[reeds] hauled from the shores of Utah Lake. In 1856 farming was begun south and east of the fort....
This pioneering effort took place more than a year before the Echo Canyon war. But records seem contradictory about where Thomas Morgan was in 1856. His first Utah-born child was born in Kaysville in December of 1856. Obviously Ann was in Kaysville. A special census of Utah in 1856 lists the Thomas Morgan family as residents Kaysville that year. Some family sources say that the Morgans moved south at the time of the Echo Canyon War (1857). It is possible that Thomas went down to Santaquin ahead of his family, where he found work for a short time. The Morgan family is not listed in any other sources as ever having a residence in Santaquin.
In 1857, Thomas was listed among the first pioneers of the town of Goshen, about seven miles to the west of Santaquin. In the book Memories That Live, page 484, we read that:
In the early spring in 1857, a little band of pioneers [including Thomas Morgan] entered the Goshen Valley and began to build homes for themselves....They built a few log houses of one room each, but most of the people had dugouts. [But because] Indians roamed the valley [the settlers] were forced to build a wall around their homes. It was located about two miles north of the present Goshen townsite.
According to author Raymond Steele:
Old Fort Goshen enclosed about two acres laid out in a square....The walls were built of large cedar posts and filled in between with sod from the nearby meadow, ..., thus it jokingly came to be known as Fort Sodom. The buildings inside the fort were mostly log cabins with sod chimneys with gunny sacks hung up over the windows in place of glass. Some of the other dwellings inside the fort were merely dugouts. At nights what cattle, horses, and sheep the people had were locked up in the enclosure.
According to granddaughter Martha Morgan Eames the Morgan family at first lived in a dugout outside of the fort. If Thomas was indeed called to Echo Canyon it would have been during the fall of 1857, perhaps while the Morgans were in the process of making a home in Goshen. In 1859 the settlers of Goshen were ready to abandon the fort. Over the next two years various settlers selected and settled on different but nearby townsites. But eventually the current townsite of Goshen was favored over other sites.
In 1859 the LDS Bishop of Goshen, Phineas Cook, following church advice, had a genealogy record made of all members of his ward. The Morgan family members are listed in this record, which includes their names, birth date and place, names of their parents, original baptism date, and their 1857 rebaptism date (all pioneers were asked to be rebaptized), and other data. This is a most important beginning source of genealogical information on this family because it tells where to begin our Herefordshire ancestral research. The record also includes the Gourley and West families who had children that later married Morgan children in Goshen. Oldest daughter Elizabeth married Robert Gourley in 1862 in Goshen. Oldest son Edward married Sarah West in Goshen. She was a native of England.
While living in Goshen Thomas and Ann had their second Utah-born child, James John, born 1 Feb 1860; and their third, Everal Hannah, born 27 June 1862. In the 1860 Census of Utah, dated October 5, 1860, the Morgan family was listed as follows: Thomas, age 38, a farmer, with real estate valued at $150, and personal property valued at $500. Ann in the census was also 38; Edward, 17; Elizabeth, 15; Eliza, 10; Priscilla, 6; Thomas W., 2, and James John, 7 months. The real estate value indicates that Thomas owned his own home, which as an original pioneer he would have been entitled to. But no land records for this period in Goshen have been found.
Sources Used for Echo Canyon and Goshen Valley Period
Bancroft, Hubert H. History of Utah 1540-1886.
1982 (reprinted from original) Las Vegas, Nevada Publications.
Eames, Martha Morgan. Family History a typescript of stories about her grandfather, Thomas Morgan, which she told in 1943.
Federal Census of Goshen, Utah, 1860.
Goshen Ward LDS Membership Records, 1859. FHL Film #0025982.
Huff, Emma N. et al. Memories That Live, Utah County Centennial History,
1947 Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. See Santaquin p. 476; and Goshen pp. 484-485.
Smith, Lot Lot Smith Story, the Echo Canyon War 1954 University of Utah Special Collections Library.
Steele, Raymond Duane, Goshen Valley History 1993 Privately published.
Utah State Census, 1856. Davis County.
The Morgans in Millard County, Utah
In 1866 the Morgan family made another move, this time to the newly founded settlement of Deseret in Millard County, central Utah. Deseret is located less than 10 miles from the present-day town of Delta, now a fer-tile farming area on a flat plain traversed by the Sevier River. The Deseret pi-o-neers who first came to this site in 1860 had se-lected a potentially fer-tile area, but one sub-ject to frequent flooding from the Sevier River. These first families lived in makeshift dugouts for many months until bet-ter homes could be built. The vast sage-brush and wil-low flatlands were too far from a source of woods to ob-tain building logs. Consequently, sun-dried adobe brick made from the clay of the Sevier was a favored building mate-rial for their cabins and houses.
The settlers in Deseret by early spring of 1866 had become increasingly inse-cure from the Pahvant Indians, a local band of Utes, who frequently camped in the Deseret area, and who regarded Deseret as part of their traditional territory.
The Morgan families, in fact, made this move to Deseret during the so-called Black Hawk War. This war developed in 1865 when the Ute Chief whom the Mormons called Black Hawk took the lead in an effort of discontented Indians to take back their traditional lands and help their people survive. The Ute Indians, who had never been farmers, hunted and gathered all their resources from native habitat. They had seen their traditional lands turned into Mormon towns and farms, dramatically reducing the food supply of the Indians. In the mid-1860s Mormons in settlements over much of central Utah were being attacked by organized Indian war parties as well as by small bands who, out of desperation and want of wild game, stole and butchered Mormon cattle. The Pahvant band of Utes on the western side of Millard County resorted to stealing cattle from the Deseret settlers, and clashes often occurred between these usually friendly Indians and their white neighbors.
Brigham Young ordered the Mormon settlers of Deseret to organize a militia to protect themselves from the Indians. In the spring of 1866, when Morgans were making the move, 45 Deseret militiamen hurried to an abandoned Mormon campsite six miles north of Deseret. Indians had butchered stolen cattle there. The militia hurried back to Deseret just as the Indians were approaching the town. Despite threats from the Indians, a peace conference was arranged with Black Hawk and his 72 painted warriors. The Indians accepted an offer from Deseret negotiators that they could have all the cattle they could use or they could choose war with the Deseret militia. In the end the Indians agreed to the offer. The militia followed the Indian party until it disbanded and headed in separate directions, thus ending the only real Indian threat to the Deseret residents. Indian threats continued, however, in other central Utah towns. Some descendants of our Morgan and Radford families believe it likely that at least some of our ancestors were in the Deseret militia, but records have not been found.
To prepare for their defense, Brigham Young ordered the men of Deseret to build a fort. After a site was selected, work on the fort began in June 1866. John Whitlock Radford was the construction supervisor of the fort which involved a crew of 98 men. To encourage the rapid construction of the fort, Mr. Radford divided the workers into companies, and the company that completed its section first was to receive a dinner and dance from the others. Indeed when the fort was completed on July 25, 1866, after 18 days of hard work, the settlers celebrated under a willow shelter inside the fort with a heifer barbecued for the occasion.
Careful records were kept of the work done by the 98 men who labored on the fort. The amount of time each worker applied to the effort was listed as a dollar value. For instance, Thomas Morgans work was valued at $89.00, while that of his son Edward Morgan was valued at $12, Robert Gourley (Elizabeth Morgans husband) $4.50, Franklin Radford $10.50, and John W. Radford $75. But these men were never paid in money. In the founding of Mormon settlements it was standard practice to pool labor in cooperative efforts to build public works projects like this fort. The value of each workers labor would instead be applied toward acquiring rights to land, water, or other resources.
It is enlightening to visit the remains of this fort today near the present town of Deseret and see what hard work our ancestors had to perform while under the threat of attack. It is amazing that some of the walls of this fort still remain today even though they were built of material that does not preserve well. The walls, called by the settlers Spanish walls, were made of adobe mud dug from ditches just outside of the fort walls, leaving depressions along the outside of the walls which probably added to their deterrence against any enemy that might approach the fort. The mud was mixed with straw in pits employing the feet of oxen to do the mixing. The structure measured 550 feet square with corner bastions ten feet high and walls three feet thick at the bottom, tapering to a foot and a half at the top. The fort never became a walled village, as did Goshen and many other Mormon towns, because shortly after it was finished Indian hostilities abated because of a treaty. On several occasions the fort was used as a corral to protect cattle from continued Indian rustling.
Deseret settlement was a long way from woods or forests for harvesting logs. So once again, as they had done in Goshen, our Morgan ancestors first lived in crude dugouts. These looked like half-buried cabins, the floor of which was four or five feet below the ground with steps going down into usually one or two rooms. In Deseret no stones or logs were easily available, but adobe bricks were formed and dried in the sun. In Deseret adobe bricks were sometimes used for the portion of the walls above ground. In better dugouts dirt walls below ground could be lined with adobe, but often just remained dirt. Small willow branches from the river were plentiful and could be bound together and placed on rafters above to form a roof. Willow roofs covered with dirt sod helped keep out the sun and storms.
Living in dugouts, however temporary, was not pleasant. People had to share these hovels with bugs and vermin of all kinds living in the dirt. Sanitation was a problem. Death rates were high, especially among children, as will be discussed later. The roofs did not entirely shed heavy rains, so the dugout roofs would leak and drip mud down onto the dirt floor and the familys possessions. They would, however, protect the occupants from cold weather and they were safer and preferable to sleeping in wagon boxes outside.
But housing and Indian threats were not the only problems faced by our ancestors at Deseret. While the Sevier River was a good source of water for irrigation, and the soil good in the area, harnessing the water for irrigation was a challenge. The Sevier River at Deseret is in a sandy and clay-filled channel that made building permanent dams difficult. The shallow riverbanks there had no rocks or hard surfaces on which to anchor a dam. Dams built to divert irrigation water were washed away with every flood, usually in spring or early summer of every year, often after crops were already planted. Every time a dam was lost the very existence of Deseret was threatened, for in this dry country food could not be produced without irrigation.
Early records from Deseret list members of our families working on various community projects and record how much they worked. For instance, working with a gang of more than 30 men in May and June of 1866, Thomas Morgan is credited with digging 24 feet of an irrigation ditch, J. W. Radford 27 feet, and Francis Rysert 9 feet. Again in 1866, for building a corral, John W. Radford was credited with 10 feet, Thomas Morgan 6 feet, and so on.
In the founding of Mormon settlements it was a tenet of the Mormon faith that men and women throughout the Mormon-settled West would pool their labor in cooperative efforts to build up the new Zion. They were not paid in money as they were not motivated by the rugged individualism which so often characterized the cowboy culture image of the founding of the West. Early Mormons took community cooperation even further when they temporarily experimented with a form of communalism called The United Order of Enoch. The United Order, practiced for a few years in many Utah towns, required all members of a community to turn over to the ward Bishop all of their goods as well as to pool their labor. All residents were to receive goods as needed, and there was to be no rich or poor among them. Oak City Ward records show that Morgans and Radfords did sign up for the United Order for a brief time. This extreme form of communalism did not work well anywhere in Millard County, so efforts to implement it were discontinued within a few months. The common pooling of labor did continue, however, as our families were to move again.
THE FOUNDING OF OAK CITY
In 1868, after the main dam at Deseret broke for the fourth time, settlers there began looking for a new place to live. In fact, by the end of 1870 Deseret had been completely abandoned and left as a ghost town. (It was re-formed again as a new town in 1875.) Our Morgan families were among the first Deseret settlers to look for new opportunities on higher bench lands east of the Seveir River plain and closer to mountain canyons and grazing lands.
By 1866 or 1867 Thomas Morgan and his friend John W. Radford were among a few who began grazing cattle during the summer in the Oak Creek Canyon area located about 20 miles northeast of Deseret. The Oak Creek area had already became a source of firewood and fencing material for the settlers at Deseret. In the spring of 1867 a sawmill was built at Oak Creek and a road was opened to the timber of the adjacent canyon. By 1868 the Morgan and Radford men set up camp in the Oak Creek area to ranch on a more permanent basis. Together they, with two other men, fenced in 10 acres north of the future townsite where they planted a wheat crop. After the main dam at Deseret broke from floods in 1868, Millard LDS Stake President Thomas Callister and other officials visited the families at Oak Creek and conducted a survey for a new town large enough to settle between fifty and one hundred families.
In a relatively short time Oak Creek (later called Oak City) became a typical nucleated Mormon town of farmers who lived on town lots rather than on farmland out away from town. Each town lot was a farm home. Barns, granaries, chicken coops, and other farm buildings were built on town lots behind the owners houses, while farmlands away from town remained clear of buildings. Each lot in town had to be fenced because the livestock, which were herded in common, were sometimes pastured on the towns unimproved wide streets. Gardens also needed protection. Since fencing wire was not yet available, many of the fences were bull fences made of cedar posts fastened cross-member style to form a continuous line of Xs, as shown in the photo at Oak City.
Most of the former residents of Deseret moved together to Oak Creek and its new town, Oak City, showing again the level of community cooperation. Labor was pooled for community projects like building common fences such as the bull fence. Irrigation projects required pooled labor as did herding cattle and sheep on common lands, gathering logs, making adobe for houses, and the construction of churches and schools. Their reward (besides knowing they were helping in the building of Zion) was a house lot in town and farmland outside of town.
Diverting the local stream, Oak Creek, and digging the necessary ditches were among the first tasks of Oak City citizens, according to authors Leo Lyman and Stella Day. The pioneers began hauling logs from the canyon, digging dugouts, making adobes and building homes before the coming of the frost and snow. Some of the people brought the doors and windows from their homes in Deseret. Others completely dismantled their Deseret house and hauled the material to the new settlement and reassembled it on their newly acquired lot. None of the houses had more than two rooms, and some were one room with a lean-to. All the houses had dirt roofs and many had dirt floors. The dugouts were like good-sized cellars so they had dirt walls and floors, with a door and steps that led down below ground level. Many lived in dugouts in the hillsides while they were hauling logs from the canyons and dismantling houses at Deseret to provide material for their new residences.
The Oak City townsite was laid out in a typical Mormon grid pattern with wide streets running straight north, south, east, and west. The official Mormon survey divided the site into 24 blocks, with 8 lots in a block and each lot 10 by 20 rods (1 rod = 16.5 feet). The streets were 8 rods wide, equal in size with the original survey of Salt Lake City and most other officially surveyed Mormon towns. Almost two dozen families from Deseret and some single men filed for ownership on lots in the new town of Oak City that first year, 1868, as Deseret was being abandoned.
Thomas Morgans first property in Oak City was lot 1, block 11, located on First Street North on the west side of Main Street. In 1871 he filed on lots 1, 6, and 8 in block 11 north in Oak City. John W. Radfords place was lot 5 on Block 3, located on the south side of Center Street between Main and First West. Among the settlers that first year were other members of our families who got lots as well, including Edward Morgan; Joseph H. Lovell and wife Leah Ellen Radford; George Morrison and wife Eliza Morgan; and John Franklin (Frank) Radford. J. W. Radfords stepsons, Melvin Ross and Richard (Dick) Ross, also got lots in Oak City.
During the winter of 1868-69 the community founders combined efforts and fenced an additional 360 acres of farmland directly west of town. During the first year Oak City residents held school and church services in individual homes. The next summer (1869) they returned to Deseret and dismantled the school/meetinghouse that had been dedicated just before abandonment of Deseret. They reassembled the building in Oak City where it served as the communitys first public building.
The Founding and Move to Leamington
A natural consequence of the limited water supply provided by Oak Creek was that it led people to search other possible settlement sites in the county. In the summer of 1871 several Oak City residents scouted out an area on the Seveir River 12 miles north of Oak City and tried again to build a dam on the soft river channel, as they had done in Deseret a few years before. Again the dam washed out a day or so after it was built.
In the spring of 1872 original Oak City resident Thomas Morgan surveyed another dam and ditch site in the same area on the Sevier River about 12 miles north of Oak City. Work immediately began on both the new dam and ditch by people, mostly from Oak City, who eventually were to become residents of yet another pioneer community; this one was later called Leamington, after a town by that name in England. The ditch, when finally finished, differed from previous ditches in that its intake waters were far enough upstream on the Sevier that it did not need a dam. It is still in use today and is known as the Morgan Ditch.
Hereafter, Thomas Morgan found other opportunities to survey for ditches. According to the Floyd Bradfield notes, Morgan used a device known as a spirit level attached to a board six feet long and about a foot wide. In 1884 he was hired by a rancher from Texas named Samuel P. McIntyre to survey the much larger McIntyre Ditch which diverted water on the north side of the Sevier to the McIntyre Ranch in Leamington. This ranch was the largest in Millard County, employing up to 50 people, especially during summer, to care for the herds, and to grow hay and haul it into the states largest barn. Some Leamington women worked on the ranch as cooks.
Unlike Oak City, Leamington was never officially surveyed by a Mormon Church official so it never took the grid pattern street form. Leamington, to this day, is primarily a one-street town with scattered farms outside of town. Thomas Morgan, considered the leading founder of Leamington, first built a dugout there in about 1872, above which he later built a log cabin. This is the year after he married Nancy Jane Radford as a plural wife. A few years later, perhaps by 1878, he built an adobe house just to the south of his cabin. The Morgan adobe is still there. Morgans cabin also still survives but has been moved to Leamingtons LDS meetinghouse property and restored as a museum piece. It is made of cedar logs cut from the mountain slopes to the east.
The Morgan adobe house remains on its original site on what is now the property of the Finlinson family, whose ancestor George Finlinson bought it from Tom Morgan in 1888. The current owner uses the old house for his tool shed. It is a one-and-a-half story, two-room house which had a lean-to kitchen on the back (north) side. The lean-to (no longer there) contained a small staircase that led to the upper half-story bedroom area. The house, with front door to the south, measures about 21 feet by 17 feet. With reference to the USGS topographic map of Leamington, Thomas Morgans adobe house and land are in the NE quarter of the NE quarter of Section 10, Township 15 South, Range 4 West. The Morgan Ditch runs to the west, traversing his property just a few feet north of the adobe house.
This house, the most important physical artifact of the Morgans in Millard County, stands as proof that the English-born Tom Morgan had learned abobe making, a craft unknown to him in Herefordshire, and one that Mormons had learned only after coming to the dry lands of Utah. The walls are about 12 inches thick and contain two tiers of sun-dried adobe bricks, somewhat larger than standard modern kiln-baked bricks. The walls contain no wood studding or built-in supports of any kind, so the walls had to be thick in order to support their weight and the weight of the roof. The house originally had a dirt floor, but some walls inside were at one time whitewashed with a thin white lime plaster as a means of making them look better.
For the first few years in Leamington, Thomas Morgan functioned as an unofficial presiding elder of the approximately 75 LDS Church members there. In 1876 he was designated the Branch President under the jurisdiction of the Oak City Ward and its Bishop. But Branch members were hampered in the 1870s without a building to meet in.
On one of his frequent visits to Leamington, Bishop Platte D. Lyman of Oak City and its Leamington Branch wrote in his journal, page 5, on January 29, 1877, that he held a meeting at Thomas Morgans place for about 75 people. He was accompanied on that trip by Millard Stake President Thomas Callister and a choir from Oak City. The relative small size of Morgans house and cabin would require that such a meeting be held outside, on this occasion, on Morgans property. On September 22, 1877, Elder Lyman wrote on page 16 that he and his companion John W. Dutson put up at Edward Morgans, and held a meeting the next day in Melvin Rosss home and had a very good time. The next week, on page 17, Elder Lyman wrote that he reorganized the Leamington Branch presidency making Lars Neilson president, with Ole Jensen and Edward Morgan as counselors. On February 28, 1878, Elder Lyman writes, on page 28, that he broke the road through the snow for several miles . . . to Leamington where we stayed overnight with sister Ann [Watkins] Morgan. By this time Ann had a home separate from Nancy Jane, as was typical of most polygamous families.
LDS Branch meetings continued to meet at the homes of the residents until 1880 when Leamington got its first church building. Built of logs, it was replaced by a stone and brick church completed in 1903. At that time Leamington was organized into a ward separate from Oak City.
Sometime in the 1870s Thomas Morgan, having land squatters rights as an original Leamington pioneer, became the legal title holder and owner of at least 160 acres of land, possibly more, on the south bluff and channel of the Sevier River in Leamington. Over the years he sold some of it, usually in small parcels. For instance, on September 25, 1882, he sold about 34 acres to his former son-in-law, George Morrison, for $250. Also in September 23, 1882, he sold just over 3 acres to Nels P. Nebel, and on that same day another 2 acres to Silas Smith, the grandfather of his son Williams future wife, Sarah Lovina Ross.
In 1879 Thomas Morgan sold about 2 acres of right-of-way land to the Central Utah Railroad. The new railroad was completed in Leamington in August of 1879, making Leamington the first Millard County town to have a railroad. In that year residents of the County would travel to Leamington to board the train for Salt Lake City and other places. The railroad (now the Union Pacific) runs east and west through Leamington and passes within a few tens of yards south of Tom Morgans adobe house. In 1885 Tom Morgan sold right-of-way land to Millard County for a road which today runs east and west on the south side of the railroad.
By the early 1880s Leamington farmers were cultivating nearly a thousand acres, including some along the new McIntyre Ditch, which was dug in 1884 and ran along the north side of the Sevier River. Farming remained precarious in Leamington, with the dam and canal occasionally washing out. In addition to agriculture and work on the railroad, the communitys economy flourished from the cutting of cedar posts and the making of charcoal in four dome-shaped kilns east of town, two of which today remain as landmarks. These kilns, built in the 1880s in part by Eliza Morgans husband George Morrison, are less than two miles east of the old Morgan property. Much of the charcoal made from cedar wood cut in the Leamington area was baked and charred in the kilns east of Leamington and was probably shipped by rail to fuel the Beaver County mining camp at Frisco in south central Utah.
The Forming of a Clan: The Morgans and Radfords
It was while living in Deseret and Oak City that the Morgans and Radfords became close associates. From the mid-1860s into the 1890s members of these two large families joined in several marriages, a result of which today are thousands of Morgan/Radford descendants. The two families largely remained together in the founding of other towns in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. Records of their movements strongly indicate that the two male elders, Thomas Morgan and John Whitlock Radford, were good friends and perhaps persuasive leaders of their families. Both were polygamists, further adding to the size of their families.
John Whitlock Radford was born in 1814 in Franklin County, Tennessee, where his mothers family, the Petty family, lived. But when he was a young boy Johns family moved to Cumberland County, Kentucky, near his fathers relatives. His ancestors are known and well documented back to the 1600s in Colonial Virginia. As an adult John moved to southern Illinois, where he married his first wife Jane Whyte. But this first marriage failed and produced no known children. In 1846, now a Mormon convert, he married Leah (or Rachal Leah) Smith Ross in Nauvoo, Illinois.
Leah Smith was born on the frontier backwoods of Gibson County, Tennessee, daughter of Richard Smith and Dianna Braswell Smith. Her ancestors are also well documented and extend to the Appalachian frontier of western Virginia and South Carolina. She married first Andrew Jackson Ross, who later died in an accident. Two sons of Mr. Ross and Leah, Richard (Dick) and Melvin Ross, survived to adulthood and became fellow Utah and Idaho pioneers and were part of the Radford family. Leahs parents, Richard and Dianna, and her uncle James Agee Smith all became early Mormon converts and Utah pioneers.
John and Leah had a family of seven children, the oldest of whom was Nancy Jane Radford, who in 1872 became a plural wife of Thomas Morgan. She was born in 1847 at the Mormon waystation of Mt. Pisgah, in present Wapello County, Iowa. Nancy, born on a frontier, lived all of her life in pioneer locations. By 1850 her family lived in the newly founded town of Provo, first in a fort. As a young girl her family moved to Fillmore in 1853. When she was 13 years old, she married Frances Fredrick RÔsert, a German immigrant who, according to family tradition, first worked in Utah as a civilian butcher for the U.S. Army at Camp Floyd near Utah Lake.
Nancy Jane and Frank Rysert (English spelling) had two daughters born in Fillmore, but both had died before they moved to Deseret in 1866. While at Deseret, before 1870, they had three sons, all of whom were still living when the 1870 Census was taken in June of that year. (Their surname is spelled Resek in the 1870 Millard census, page 333.) In about 1871 young Melvin Rysert died in Oak City, followed in 1873 by his brother Don Carlos, leaving only Francis Daniel (Frank) Rysert to reach adulthood. Frank Jr. and his mother became part of the Morgan family when Nancy married Thomas Morgan as his plural wife in 1871.
In about 1870 Frank Rysert Sr., according to oral tradition, left his wife Nancy Jane, ostensibly to look for work at a mine in Wyoming. We have no documentation as to how this desertion occurred, but this same Frank Rysert was in the 1880 Wyoming census in Smith Fork (present Cokeville), Wyoming area, living with another wife Mary, a young daughter Addie, and stepdaughter Mary Wilson.
Descendants of Frank Rysert Sr., as represented by Helen Simper of Taylorsville, Utah, and Clayton Conn of Springville, Utah, state that information handed down to them by oral tradition suggests that Mr. Rysert was going to come back for Nancy Jane after he found a job in Wyoming, but that only his horse came back without Frank, leading his wife and family to believe that he had been killed, perhaps by Indians. After more than a year Nancy Janes father John Whitlock Radford and her Oak City Bishop John Lovell, convinced that Frank Rysert was dead, persuaded Nancy to marry Thomas Morgan as a plural wife. Rysert descendant Helen Simper claims her ancestors believed Nancy Jane was not happy about this forced marriage, nor was Thomass first wife Ann.
We will never know with surety what was in the minds and hearts of our ancestors about their marriage arrangements, but records show that the Morgan polygamous family remained together, traveled together, and raised their families together for the rest of their lives. Ann and Nancy Jane lived in separate houses, however, as discussed below.
Other marriages between Morgans and Radfords also occurred. John Franklin (Frank) Radford, the third child in John W. and Leahs family, married Priscilla Morgan, daughter of Thomas and Ann, while living in Oak City in 1871. Daniel H. Radford, sixth child in John W. and Leahs family, married Everal Hannah Morgan, Thomas and Anns youngest in 1878, probably in Leamington. Frank Rysert Jr., son of Nancy Jane (last name later changed to Ryset), married Sarah Priscilla Morgan, daughter of Edward (Ted) Morgan and Sarah West and granddaughter of Thomas and Ann. William Morgan married Sarah Lovina Ross, daughter of Melvin Ross, and granddaughter of Leah Smith Ross Radford. Most of these families and others stayed together, traveling in about 1888 and 1889 to Wyoming and later to Idaho to pioneer new areas and raise large families of their own.
Polygamy in the Morgan-Radford Clan
In the 1870s and 1880s the Federal Government passed new laws to crack down on Mormon men who were practicing polygamy. Indeed polygamy was a federal offense, and federal marshals were scouting Utah territory to catch polygamists. The marshals expected Mormon women to assist them in catching the polygamists, but no such help was forthcoming. In fact the LDS members, both men and women, did everything they could to forewarn, hide, and protect polygamist men when marshals were in town. As far as is known, Thomas Morgan and John W. Radford were the only men in our families to have had polygamous marriages. Apparently they were never caught by federal agents.
Records indicate that while in Millard County, Thomas Morgans two wives, Ann and Nancy Jane, had separate houses, a most common practice for polygamous men who could afford it. In the 1880 Census Ann is listed with Thomas as part of his household, comprised of those two, enumerated as household number 9 in Leamington. Nancy Jane and her childrenFrancis, John Thomas, Martha, and Joseph C.comprised a separate household enumerated as household 11. Also living with Nancy Jane was 44-year-old Ann Gustin, mother-in-law of James John Morgan, who married Amberzine Gustin, discussed below.
Further evidence that Nancy Jane and Ann lived in separate houses is provided by the Floyd Bradfield history notes on Leamington. Bradfield, an early lifetime resident of Leamington, wrote that Thomas Morgan built the adobe house for his second wife [Nancy Jane]. Rich Finlinson, grandson of George Finlinson who bought the Morgan property in 1888, believes that Thomas Morgan maintained a home for one wife in Oak City and another home for the other wife in Leamington. Bradfield notes say at a later time that, Thomas Morgan had two wives, one lived with him on the Morgan place and the other lived across the street to the east.
Birth records for Nancy Janes children born in the 1870s all list Oak City as their birthplace. Leamington Ward membership records show that Nancy Jane Morgans records were forwarded to Leamington from Oak City in 1883. Nancys last child, Lydia Almeda, was born in Leamington in 1888, and her son Joseph Charles was baptized at age 8 in Leamington in September 1888. Clearly Nancy Jane lived in Leamington in the 1880s, but the Bradfield records and the census indicate that she did indeed have a separate house.
It appears from records that Thomas Morgan may have had a third wife in Oak City and Leamington. The 1870 Census of Millard County shows a person named Elizabeth Morgan, age 66, listed in household number 17, close to Thomas Morgan, age 48, in household number 19 in the District of Deseret [actually Oak City]. The 1880 Census of Millard County shows Thomas Morgan, age 60 [actually 58], with wife Ann, age 62 [actually 57], wife Nancy Jane, age 34, and wife Elizabeth Morgan, age 80. Elizabeth is enumerated by herself in household 10 between wife Ann and wife Nancy Jane. All three women are identified as Thomas Morgans wives.
Researcher Connie Morgan and others believe this elderly wife was Elizabeth Rock Dutson, born in Herefordshire, England, in about 1802. This Elizabeth had had several children by her first husband James Dutson before moving to Goshen, Utah (as shown on her family sheets at familysearch.org). While living in Goshen with her youngest daughter, she apparently got acquainted with the Morgans. The Ancestral File shows she married somebody named Thomas Morgan in Goshen in 1865, but the birthplace and age do not correspond to that of our Thomas Morgan.
But obviously no children were born to this elderly Elizabeth and Thomas even if her marriage to our Thomas ever took place. This appears to have been a care-taker marriage that he had with Elizabeth. It was not uncommon for polygamous Mormon men to marry older women with whom they may or may not have had a conjugal relationship. Brigham Young and many top leaders of the church married elderly widows in addition to younger woman of childbearing age. Elizabeth Rock Dutson died in 1886 and is buried in the Goshen Cemetery next to her daughter Elizabeth.
There are other indications that Thomas had caretaker intentions with another woman. In the 1880 census of Leamington, living in the household with Thomas wife Nancy Jane was a 44-year-old widow named Ann Gustin. She is identified as a person with senility and is crippled or bedridden. According to Millard County court records in 1882, Thomas Morgan wrote a letter to Millard County Court, saying that he had an old insane woman living with him from Juab County; he asked the court for some money to help cover the costs of taking care of her. The court declined, advising him to take up the matter with Juab County. Ann Gustin was born Martha Ann Green, in Indiana, and was the widow of Thomas Gustin and the mother of Amberzine Gustin, wife of James John Morgan. There are no indications that Thomas ever married Ann Gustin. Records indicate instead that he had the heart and generosity to take care of an invalid at his own expense (and the help of Nancy Jane).
John Whitlock Radford also had a plural wife named Polly Stevens Adair. He and Polly were married by Brigham Young in 1853 while President Young was on an official visit to Fillmore. She was a widow whom he had known for many years. Her husband had died in Iowa before their trek to Utah, leaving her with two young children (Thomas and Susannah Adair). The 1860 Census of Fillmore County shows that Polly and her children lived next to the Radfords in her own household. Polly died in Fillmore in 1862, after giving birth to the last of her four children with John W. Radford. Two of Polly and Johns children, Martha and Melissa Radford, survived to adulthood and were raised in the Radford household. But after these daughters were married, they no longer remained with the Morgan-Radford clan. Daughter Martha and her husband William Bader settled in Nampa, Idaho, where they raised a large family. Melissa first married William McKee, sheriff of Pioche, Nevada; but after his death in 1883, she came back to Leamington and married a local man, Joseph Huff.
On 15 November 1868, John W. Radford married another woman as a plural wife. Her name was Mariam Elizabeth Sampson Killian, a widow formerly married to Thomas Killian, who had died 15 September 1862 in Parowan, Utah. She and Thomas Killian had a large family. In 1870 Elizabeth and her two young sons John and Daniel lived next to the Radfords in Oak City. She was a native of Ohio. No known children were born to her and John Radford. She and John later divorced.
Melvin Ross, Nancy Janes half brother, in the 1880 Census was in the territorial penitentiary in Sugar House, Salt Lake County, Utah. That prison was especially used for nonviolent offenders and polygamists. But no record has surfaced to show if he had a plural wife or what offense he might have committed that landed him in prison. He was a High Priest in the Mormon lay priesthood and believed to be a person of fine character. His wife Julia Elizabeth Smith Ross, according to records, was the first schoolteacher in Leamington, beginning in 1877.
Bishop Platte D. Lyman of Oak City kept a diary, now available on microfilm. Lyman used to visit the Leamington Branch of the church and sometimes stayed over Saturday nights so that he could tend to the needs of Leamington Branch members on Sundays. He sometimes spent the night with Mel Ross and his family. Bishop Lyman, while a proponent of polygamy, chose to stay with families who were active in the church when coming to Leamington.
When Melvin Ross wife Julia died from an accident in November 1878, Mel had no other known wife at that time. He remarried in July 1879 to Mary Ellen Hadden. When he went to prison in 1880, two of his young sons, Don Carlos and James Melvin, went to live with their grandparents, John and Leah Radford, who at that time were living in Kanosh, Millard, Utah, as recorded in the 1880 Census. Two other of his children, Silas and Emma, lived with their other grandparents, Silas and Sarah Smith in Leamington, according to the 1880 Census.
If Mel in 1880 had had a plural wife in addition to his second wife, one would think that at least one or more of his children would have gone to her household rather than that of their grandparents. His wife Mary Ellen Hadden Ross in 1880 lived in Star, Beaver County, Utah, with her single half-sister Cecilia and near her parents. The only child she had with her at the time was two- month-old Effie, fathered by her husband Mel Ross, but born in April 1880 while he was in prison.
Among the women of the Morgan-Radford clan, only Polly Stevens Adair Radford and Nancy Jane Radford Ryset Morgan had children while living as plural wives. Ann Watkins Morgans youngest child was 10 when Nancy married Thomas Morgan in Oak City in 1872. Leah Smith Ross Radford was no longer having children when her husband John W. Radford married Polly Stevens Adair. Polly had had two other children (Thomas Adair and Susanah Adair) by a previous marriage but they were no longer part of the family by 1870.
The Morgan-Radford Clan in 1888
The year 1888 was a most important year for the Morgan-Radford clan because that autumn many of them began leaving for a new frontier in Wyoming. By 1889 more than 50 people of the Morgan and Radford extended families had moved to Freedom, Wyoming. Exactly why they decided to leave communities they had lived in for more than 15 years is a mystery. What follows is a summary of members of the Morgan-Radford clan before they began leaving Utah in 1888.
The children of Thomas and Ann Watkins Morgan included the following in 1888. Family group sheets of all of the following families are available at familysearch.org.
The oldest Morgan son Edward (Ted) Morgan and his wife Sarah West had moved their family from Leamington in 1881 to the frontier community of Neeley near what is now American Falls, Idaho. Edward and Sarah were the second members of the Morgan family to split from the main group and leave their parents behind. Edward and Sarah left a long record of pioneering in Goshen, Deseret, Oak City, and Leamington, staying with the main Morgan clan until new opportunities took them to Neeley in 1881. He and Sarah had nine children, three of whom died in childhood.
Sometime before 1888 Edward and Sarah came back to Leamington, bringing their family. In that year their daughter Sarah Priscilla got aquainted with Frank Rysert (son of Nancy Jane Morgan) and married him in Leamington in August of 1888. Two other of their daughters, Annie and Hannah Elizabeth, also married before leaving Leamington, as discussed below.
The oldest Thomas Morgan daughter, Elizabeth Morgan, and her husband Robert Gourley, lived their lives in Goshen where they had 11 children, all of whom reached adulthood and married. This is the only Morgan family that never lost a child.
Eliza Morgan married George Morrison in Deseret in 1868. They lived in Oak City and Leamington where they had five children, four of whom died of diphtheria in an epidemic in 1882. Their three living children in the Oak City 1880 Census were Ann J. 11, Amy 5, and George 3. Author Margaret Roper reports three other children: Izabelle who died at age 6, Nettie, and Eliza who died in infancy. Eliza Sr. herself, according to Roper, was a crippled lady who died in Oak City in 1882, leaving her husband George Morrison entirely without his family. The 1880 Census of Oak City did not identify Eliza as being crippled or sick.
George Morrison later married a woman named Lestra Stewart and moved to Leamington, where he built and owned the towns first store on former Morgan land and where he also helped build the landmark stone charcoal kilns, two of which are still there less than two miles east of Leamington. He later staked a claim on a lead mine at Fool Creek near the mountains above Leamington. His second wife was a schoolteacher in Leamington.
Priscilla Morgan married John Franklin Radford in 1871 in Oak City. They had five children, two of whom died young while living in Leamington. In about 1887 they left to pioneer in a new community in Oregon. John Franklin died in Vale, Oregon, in March 1889. In about 1891 Priscilla migrated to Rudy, Idaho, where she remarried and raised her family in the home of her second husband Isaac Chase. She and her family were not involved in the move to Wyoming.
William Thomas Morgan married Sarah Lovina Ross, daughter of Melvin Ross, in Leamington in 1880. In about 1881 they went to Neeley, Idaho, where they settled with older brother Edward. Sarah Lovina had 13 children, three of whom died young in Idaho. They were living in Neeley when the main Morgan family migrated to Wyoming.
James John Morgan married Amberzine Gustin in Leamington in 1879. They had 12 children, seven of them born in Leamington. At least four of their 12 children died young, but they had four with them when traveling to Wyoming, one just a newborn infant.
Everal Hannah Morgan married Daniel H. Radford in 1878 in Leamington. Three of their seven children were born in Leamington before 1888. They took their then three children on the journey to Wyoming along with the main clan. According to Star Valley membership records, this couple had a child, Priscilla Geneva, on 23 April 1889 in Freedom, Wyoming.
Nancy Jane Radford Ryset Morgan, Thomas plural wife, also had children with her on the trip to Wyoming. These included Frances Daniel (Frank) Ryset, her oldest living son by her former husband. Frank had just married Sarah Priscilla Morgan, daughter of Edward and Sarah, in Leamington in August 1888, just before the trip to Wyoming. Their first child Nora was born in Freedom, Wyoming, on 6 September 1889.
Nancy Jane's other living children at the time of the trip in 1888, all fathered by Thomas Morgan, included John Thomas, age 15; Martha Veletta 11; Joseph Charles 9; and Lydia Almeda about 6 months.
John Whitlock Radford was about 75 years old in 1889, and his wife Leah Smith Ross Radford, was about 67. Though elderly, they decided to take the trip to Wyoming to be with their families.
James Richard (Dick) Ross, the older of Leahs two sons by her first husband, his wife Susan Potter and family of seven children, also migrated to Wyoming. They spent most of their married lives living close to his mother, including in Deseret, Oak City, Leamington, and Kanosh, Utah. There is an excellent 1880 photograph of the Radford and Ross family on the morganclan Web site.
Melvin Ross, the younger brother, had seven children by his first wife Julia Elizabeth Smith (not related to his mother Leah Smith above), two of whom died young. Julia died from an accident in 1878. Melvin next married Mary Ellen Hadden, with whom he had six children. Melvin, his second wife, and children and the children by his first wife lived in Leamington until about 1882, after which they lived for a short time in Neeley, Idaho, where their second child was born in 1883. Their third child was born in Leamington in 1885, and then they moved to Joseph, Sevier County, Utah, until migrating to eastern Idaho where they joined the larger Morgan/Radford family after 1891. They were not part of the Wyoming experience.
Other members of the Radford family were:
Leah Ellen Radford Lovell, sister of Nancy Jane Radford, who married Joseph Hyrum Lovell in 1869. They were pioneers in Oak City and had 11 children, 10 of whom were born in Oak City before they migrated to Wyoming in 1889. Nine of their children were living at the time of their move to Wyoming. They moved again with the larger group when the final move to Idaho took place in 1891.
Diana Rebecca Radford Woolsey, sister of Nancy Jane Radford, married Abraham Mitchell Woolsey in 1878 in Kanosh, Utah. They had eight children, five of whom were born before the 1888 trip to Wyoming. They were residents of Leamington from about 1880 to 1888. According to Star Valley Stake membership records, this couple had a child named Everal on 23 April 1889 in Freedom, Wyoming.
Other grandchildren of Thomas and Ann Morgan were married by 1888 and having children. These include:
Annie Lydia Morgan, daughter of Edward and Sarah, who married Willard Cook Moore in Leamington in 1879. Willard Moore was orphaned as a youth and had lived with the Edward and Sarah Morgan family for about seven years before he married their daughter. He and his family went with her parents to Neeley, Idaho, in 1881 but returned to Leamington in about 1887. He and Annie had two surviving children when they went to Wyoming. In September 10, 1889, they had a child named Ira in Freedom, Wyoming.
Hannah Elizabeth Morgan, daughter of Edward and Sarah, married John Russel Hadden, a brother of Mary Ellen Hadden, the second wife of Melvin Ross. According to Star Valley Stake membership records they had a child born in Freedom, Wyoming, on 22 May 1889. Hannah died from complications of this birth, and the child also later died. But John Hadden remained with the larger group in 1891 when the migration to eastern Idaho took place.
A High Child Mortality Rate
The Morgan/Radford clan lost many children and adults to premature death caused mainly by contagious diseases due to poor sanitation, the rawness of pioneer life, and a lack of health-related knowledge or professional care. Diphtheria was possibly the most common cause of death in young children. Accidents also took a few lives. Probably the biggest loser in the death of children was Eliza Morgan Morrison, who lost all five of her children as well as her own life in 1882; she has no descendants today. Nancy Jane Radford Ryset Morgan had 14 children by two husbands, only five of whom reached adulthood. She herself died at the age of 53 of nervous prostration, according to a record handed down to her descendants. All of our families lost at least one child except Elizabeth Morgan Gourley, who with husband Robert raised 11 children in Goshen, Utah, all of whom reached adulthood and married.
Sources Used to Compile the Millard County Period:
Ancestral File. Computer database comprised of family group sheets and pedigrees of families whose names were voluntarily submitted by relatives or other researchers. This is not intended as an official primary source of information. Though it contains mostly accurate information, the Ancestral File cannot be cited by scholars as an accurate source of information. It is best used for indicators and clues for further research.
Bradfield, Floyd. Bradfield collection of Leamington Histories in the
possession of his widow Jene Bradfield, Leamington, Utah.
Census of Utah, 1870, Millard County, Deseret, pages 333 and 334.
The 1870 Census of Millard County adds some confusion to our Oak City history, because it shows all residents of Oak City counted in the Deseret census enumeration district, taken in June of 1870. All residents on pages 333 and 334 of that census are actually in Oak City.
Census of Utah, 1880, Millard County, Leamington, page 19; Oak City, Kanosh.
Census of Wyoming, 1880, Uintah County, Evanston, page 355 (Frank Rysert).
Day, Stella H., and Sebrina C. Ekins. Milestones of Millard: A Hundred Years of History of Millard County. 1951. Art City Publishing, Millard County, Utah.
Deseret Ward Records FHL Film # Contain vital information but not complete.
Ekins, Sabrina C., and others, History of Deseret in Stella Day, Milestones of Millard ... pages 421-434.
Fillmore Ward Records, FHL Film # 0025 947 and Film # 1059 486. Contains vital information on Radfords and Ryserts from 1853 to 1863.
Flack, Dora Dutson and others, Dutson Family History. 1998. Privately published by the authors.
Freeman, Rebecca, A History of John Whitlock Radford and Rachel Leah Smith and Their Families. Unpublished typescript. Undated. Ririe, Idaho.
Geersten, Jane Rawlinson, History of Oak City, in Stella Day, Milestones of Millard ... pages 473-495.
Journal History December 31, 1686. FHL Film #1259784. Contains a brief newspaper account of Leamington in 1886.
LEAMINGTON 1871-1974, Vol. 1, number 1. A special edition of a 30-
page newspaper featuring Leamington history and biographies of many of its early settlers.
Leamington Ward Records, early to 1905. FHL Film # 0026119 Item 1. Contains vital information on some of our ancestors in the 1880s but is not complete.
Lyman, Edward Leo. 1999 A History of Millard County Salt Lake City, Utah State Historical Society.
Lyman, Platte D. Journal of Platte D. Lyman, typescript of the original on FHL Film #485337 See page...for Morgan reference; pages... for Mel Ross.
Millard County Probate Records, 1870-1887. FHL Film 0482034. Includes identification of lots in Oak City obtained by Morgans, Morrisons, Radfords, Lovells and others, pages 102-110.
Millard County Index to Land Deeds and Mortgages, FHL Film 1654356.
Millard County Land Records, Deeds Books E & F. FHL Film 0920282.
Nielson, August, and others, History of Leamington, in Stella Day, Milestones of Millard.... pages 496-507.
Oak City [Oak Creek] Ward Records Film # 0026313 Contains births, deaths, and other vital data on some of our ancestors and some of their children while in Deseret and Oak City but is incomplete. Contains details of the building of Fort Deseret and a list of men who worked on the project. Lists and discusses Deseret settlers that moved to Oak Creek in 1868.
Roper, Margaret W. 1970. Echoes of The Sage and Cedars: A Centennial History of Oak City, Utah, 1868-1969 Published by Oak City Ward.
Shadows of the Past, Homes and Historical Places of Interest in Oak City, UT, 1868-1950, 2002, Oak City Town Council.
The Move To Wyoming, 1888-89
From the mid-1880s and later, many Mormons from Utah and Southeastern Idaho began migrating to new frontiers in western Wyoming and eastern Idaho. Star Valley, as it came to be called, is a narrow valley enclosed by mountain ranges and is about 100 miles south of Yellowstone Park, close to the Idaho border. It is a high valley, its floor averaging more than 6000 feet above sea level, with a relatively short growing season, but adequate for growing hay and grain. One of its early attractions was the abundance of native grass good for grazing livestock and cutting for hay. Before permanent settlements were founded in the 1880s, people from southeastern Idaho grazed livestock in the valley during the summer months.
The most important river in Star Valley, the Salt River, flows northward into the Snake River before the Snake takes an abrupt turn to the west on its journey through eastern and southern Idaho. Our Morgan and Radford ancestors were the founders of what later became the town of Etna, just a few miles south of where the Salt enters the Snake, and about seven miles north of the community of Freedom. Before Etna was named, early records list our families as members of the Freedom, Wyoming, Branch of the LDS Church.
From church records and other sources, mostly unpublished life sketches written by descendants, a list was compiled of the members of the Morgan/Radford extended families that were in Freedom (Etna) Wyoming in 1889. They included at least 59 people as follows, beginning with the oldest:
John Whitlock Radford age 74 and wife Leah
Leah Ellen Radford Lovell, her husband Joseph Lovell and eight children
Daniel H. Radford, his wife Everal Morgan and their three children
Diana Rebecca Radford Woolsey, her husband Abraham and five children
Thomas Morgan and first wife Ann
Nancy Jane Radford Morgan (plural wife of Thomas), their four children,
Frank Ryset (son of Nancy Jane) and his wife Priscilla Morgan
Edward and Sarah Morgan and three unmarried children
James John Morgan, wife Amberzine and five children
Hannah E. Morgan (Thomas granddaughter) and husband John Hadden
Annie L. Morgan Moore and her husband Willard Moore, two children
James Richard Ross, wife Susan, and six children
Many sources on our families mention the migration to Star Valley, Wyoming. They are inconsistent as to when the migration started, or if all went at the same time in one large train of wagons. Some Radford sources, as reported by Rebecca Freeman and others, say the Radfords and Lovells left in May of 1889 and formed a train of 17 wagons, driving many cattle and horses, and that the trip took them about five weeks from Leamington. A train of 17 wagons, while a large train, would perhaps not have been enough for the 59 people that made the move.
Many Morgan sources point to the fall of 1888 as the departure time and do not make references to one large wagon train. Ryset sources say that they left in the fall of 1888, a short time after Frank Ryset married Sarah Priscilla Morgan in August of 1888. Joseph Charles Morgan, son of Nancy Jane and Thomas, was baptized in September of 1888 in Leamington, and this entry is the last for a Morgan in the Leamington LDS Ward records. The youngest child of Nancy Jane Radford Morgan, Lydia Almeda Morgan, was born in Leamington in March of 1888, and she is said to have been 6 months old when Morgans migrated to Wyoming.
Ellen Ryset Butler, writing about her parents in a sketch titled Francis Daniel Ryset, says that, Shortly after they were married, Prissy [Sarah Priscilla Morgan] and Frank along with Prissys folks, Sarah and Ted [Edward] Morgan, two sisters and brothers-in law, Annie and Willard Moore and Eliza and John Hadden, left [Leamington] for greener pastures [in Wyoming]. She does not mention Radfords or Lovells on this trip.
Nora Ryset Moore says in her History of Francis Daniel Ryset: In a very short time after Priscilla and Frank got married on 8 August 1888 they moved to Freedom, Wyoming. There they lived for two and a half years . . . In the spring of 1890 they went to Soda Springs, Idaho, that summer . . . From there to Pocatello, Idaho, where he worked that winter [1890-91].
Perhaps the most authoritative source of information is the early Star Valley, Wyoming, LDS Stake membership records. Although these records are not complete, they do show the birthdates of five babies born to our families while in the Freedom Branch in 1889, but none in 1888, as follows:
Diana Rebecca Radford Woolsey had a baby (Everal) in Freedom on 23 April 1889; Hanna Lizzie Morgan Hadden had a baby (Francis) in Freedom on May 22, 1889 (and lost her life from this childbirth); Everal Morgan Radford (wife of Daniel H.) had a baby (Priscilla Geneva) in Freedom on July 4, 1889. Sarah Priscilla Morgan Ryset gave birth to Nora on 6 September 1889 in Freedom, and Annie Lydia Morgan Moore gave birth to Ira on 10 September 1889.
It is interesting, however, that Leah Ellen Radford Lovell had baby Ada in Oak City on 7 February 1889. The Lovell family were leaders and key players in this migration to Wyoming. It is the Lovell family histories that claim that they traveled with Leah Ellens parents, the Radfords; and some Ryset family histories claim that they went with the Lovells and Radfords. Morgan family histories just identify other members of the family that were in Wyoming without making reference to all of them traveling together. If the birthdates for Everal Woolsey and Ada Lovell (whose mothers are Radford sisters) are correct, and if all of our families went to Wyoming at the same time, their trip would have to have been, at the latest, in March and early April of 1889. But it is more likely that some of our families made the trip independently and a few months before the Radfords and Lovells, who state that they left in the spring of 1889. The Morgans probably left in the fall of 1888.
Just exactly which route to Star Valley our families took is not known. According to authors Corzi and Call, people who first settled in Star Valley got there by going through Montpelier Canyon east from Montpelier, Idaho, until they reached Montpelier Creek in the Bear River Valley. They followed that difficult creek north to its headwaters, making many different crossings of the creek as they stayed close to the mountainside, pulling their loaded wagons up and down the ravines in the canyon. After going over a pass, they could then go down Crow Creek Canyon which entered Star Valley from the west at what is now Fairview, Wyoming. This was a difficult 50 miles from Montpelier.
But another question is how did they get to Montpelier, a town in Bear Lake Valley which itself is so isolated by mountain ranges that getting there by wagon train would have been a long arduous trip from central Utah. Ironically Montpelier by 1888 could be reached by railroad, the Oregon Short Line, passing through from Nebraska to Oregon. A traveler could have boarded a train in Leamington and gone north to Pocatello or Soda Springs, Idaho, on the Utah Northern Line, and then east to Montpelier on the Oregon Short Line. But with all the livestock, wagons, and possessions they needed to found a new settlement in Wyoming, they could not have used the railroad even for a short distance.
From Northern Utah, traveling by wagon to Montpelier would not have been easy by any of four different routes available at that time. Taking the Logan Canyon route would have been slow and cumbersome. A farther but probably easier way from Logan would have been to go north through Preston, Idaho, to Soda Springs, Idaho, then east and south, following the Old Oregon Trail to Montpelier. But this was about 75 miles farther than through Logan Canyon.
An even easier and shorter way from central Utah would have been for them to go east from Salt Lake City, through well-traveled Echo Canyon to Evanston, Wyoming, and northward from there, following the lush Bear River Valley north to Montpelier Creek. This route completely bypasses the Bear Lake Valley and Montpelier and does not involve as much difficult terrain. But early writers do not mention this Bear River passage from Wyoming as a possible emigration route for Star Valley settlers in the 1880s. This latter route today is traversed by highways 30 and 89 and is a popular way for many Utahns going to Star Valley and Yellowstone.
The book Star Valley And Its Communities by Lee R. Call, page 99, quotes a letter written by Leah Lovell Ririe, a Radford descendant who was 11 years old in 1888: She states:
We settled west of Etna on the [Salt] river bank in 1888. There were Morgans, Moores, Radfords and others. A Church branch was organized and called Liberty Branch. My father, Joseph Lovell, was the presiding elder. A two-room house was built and that was where we had Sunday School . . . We attended school in a log school house and logs were used for seats. . . . Sometimes we had to stay in the school house a week at a time. Food and other provisions were brought to the children when they were snowed in.
Rebecca Freeman, a historian of the Radford family and a Radford descendant herself, provides the most detailed account of the Wyoming experience in her book, Footprints in Time. Citing a history of the Lovell family, she writes:
Leah and John Radford left from Leamington 21 May 1889; they traveled with their daughter and family, Leah Ellen and Joseph Hyrum Lovell. The Lovells had left from Oak City 14 May 1889, joining with the Radfords in Leamington. . . . It took five weeks to make the journey, they arrived in Wyoming on 17 June 1889 . . .
When they arrived in the valley they found that living there would probably be harder than any other place they had lived. The sage brush and wild hay was thick and deep; it was hard to even clear a path to get the horses and wagons through. They would need to clear a patch of ground before they could make camp for the night. They wanted to quit and return to Utah but Leah [Radford] was unable to travel any further so they stayed. They first settled near a spring up a canyon. They cleared some land, built corrals, and put up tents. Soon after settling a forest fire broke out. The men were all up the canyon getting logs for a cabin. Leah was confined to her bed and her daughter Leah Ellen [Lovell] and the youngest grandchild George were all that were home at the time with only one horse. They hurried and tore down the tents, hitched the horse to one wagon, helped Leah into it and moved to a safe place. All the work they had put in was destroyed along with many of their possessions. They moved down into the valley to create another home.
Again they had to face Indians problems as they had done so many times in the past, only this time they had a better solution. A granddaughter Leah Ann Lovell writes.
One Sunday afternoon Grandma (Leah) was sick in bed and the Indians rode up. Uncle Dick (James Richard Ross) said for us to stand back so they could see her in bed and he would give them a scare. We turned the tent flaps back so they could see her and told them that she had small-pox. All the rest of the summer they took a cut-off and never came back by our camp at all.
Joseph Lovell built a two room log shack. He and Leah Ellen and their eight children and Leah and John Radford all slept in the same room, and the other room being the combined kitchen, dining, living room. Because of the shortage of buildings in the valley, often school and church would also be held in this room.
The winter of 1889-90 was one of the worst on record. Most of our livestock died. The wheat was frozen so hard that the chickens could not eat it. The worst thing to happen that year occurred on Decomber 14 when John Whitlock Radford passed away of dropsy. . . . He was buried near the cabin just west of where the Etna Store now stands.
The next summer  a drought caused more hardships and many of the families who had settled in the valley chose to move back to civilization. Leah was still ill and it was unwise to move her so the Lovells along with some other members of the Radford families stayed in the valley.
Joseph Lovell went out of the valley to get wheat to sustain his family during the coming winter [1890-91]. He tried to provide enough for his family but it was another hard winter. The winter had hardly started when most of the surviving settlers ran out of food. The Lovells divided what they had with the others. Conditions were so bad that only by emptying the bedticks and feeding that straw to the livestock could they keep one cow and one team of horses alive. The only way to get around was on snowshoes. Leah liked to go visit her family that still lived in the valley. Joseph Lovell would put her on a shoe-boggan made from two snow shoes fastened together and pulled on snowshoes to the other homesteads so she could visit. . . .
The next summer  was better. There was plenty of wild hay, wild game, and berries, the gardens grew well, but most of the settlers decided to abandon the valley. Leah was still ill and the Lovells stayed until late September when she was well enough to travel.
Other accounts by descendants add human interest and corroborate the experiences of a hard winter in Wyoming. Nora Moore Tyler writes:
My aunt Elizabeth [Hannah Elizabeth Morgan Hadden] died at childbirth, leaving a tiny baby. Mother and Aunty Prissy [Sarah Priscilla Morgan Ryset] nursed the baby. Aunt Lizzie was buried on the banks of a warm spring swale [depression] that never freezes over . . . a kind of warm springfed stream with high banks. Grandma Morgan [Sarah West Morgan] kept the baby. They wanted to take Lizzie to Freedom for burial but her husband [John Hadden] refused and since he had first right, his wishes were granted.
From Ezra Morgans Bits of History of Thomas Morgan, told by his uncle Joseph Charles Morgan:
These families left Leamington and went to Star Valley in the spring of 1888. They included Thomas Morgan, Joseph H. Lovell, John W. Radford, Daniel H. Radford, John Hadden, Dick Ross and others. They plowed land and planted grain when they arrived. Due to the exceptionally cold and early rain their crops froze. The boys hauled willows on toboggans to feed the cattle. The wheat froze till the chickens wouldnt eat it. They only had one heifer left when spring came, all their cattle had starved and froze to death, and the dogs turned around and killed that. They had to go to Montpelier to do their trading. The roads got blocked with snow and their provisions ran out. They left Star Valley after two years. A few other people had a few cattle left when they left Wyoming.
Martha Morgan Eames, a daughter of Thomas Morgan and Nancy Jane Radford, and 11 years old when they left for Star Valley, says of the winter there:
The snow was over five feet deep that winter [1889-90] on the level. Families used to get in their sleighs and go to the home of Thomas Lee, who was the school teacher. They would dance until about midnight, then have supper. Venison was usually one of the main things served. Mrs. Lee would make beds for all the women in the house but the men stayed up and talked until morning when they would go home. They had staked out willow sticks by the side of the roads so they could follow them in the deep snow.
Perhaps one advantage to settling in Star Valley was the abundance of wild game. Elk and deer came down out of the mountains in large herds when snow got deep. Since this valley had not yet been thoroughly exploited by humans, there were many wild animals for the taking.
From author Lee Call:
By 1889 there were settlers in most parts of the valley and another hard winter was experienced by many. Early in the fall of 1889-90 the snow began to fall, bringing up to four feet of snow on the valley bottom. As the winter progressed it would warm up enough to melt the snow, then it would become cold and snow again. It is said that it snowed and melted again and again until altogether 18 feet of snow fell that winter.
Experienced settlers had made preparations for the winter, but the families who came into the valley the year before when it was mild were not prepared for it. Although the fields were waist high with wild hay in the fall, the new families did not think it necessary to cut and preserve it for winter feeding as the year before not more than a foot of snow fell and the cattle and horses found plenty of feed in the open fields. The early and heavy snows of 1889-90 caught these pioneer folks completely unprepared.
On page 96 of Calls book, he writes that John Hadden and Woolsey and a David [Dick] Ross were also early Etna settlers.
Hadden and Woolsey were early settlers who located on Birch Creek and stayed for about a year and a half. During the first summer they were there, they cut hay, bunched it and stuck a stick in the top of each bunch so that when the snow fell they would be able to find the hay. This way they didnt have to stack the hay. Hadden and Woolsey were the first men to thresh grain in Star Valley. This was accomplished by piling bundles of cut grain together, and driving a team of horses back and forth over it.
We must return to the question of what may have prompted nearly 60 members of our large families to leave their Utah homes for such a difficult environment in Wyoming.
It is a common theme among Mormon scholars writing about the Mormon migration to Star Valley to claim that the valley was a haven for polygamists seeking to escape from federal authorities in Utah and Idaho, for in the 1880s marshals were still hunting polygamist men and incarcerating them. Anti- Mormon laws passed in the state of Idaho also had essentially disenfranchised Mormon voters. Territorial officials in Wyoming, however, were not cooperating with federal marshals and were in fact inviting Mormon immigrants to settle in Wyoming. By the mid-1880s Wyoming had become known among Mormons as a place that was friendly to Mormons seeking a new place to live.
But of all the Mormons that migrated to Star Valley from 1885 and after, polygamists were a tiny minority of the total. In our own Morgan/Radford clan, of the nearly 60 members of our families to reach their new home in Wyoming by 1889, only one, the elderly Thomas Morgan, was a practicing polygamist. It is doubtful, therefore, that a need to find a polygamist haven was the principal motive for our large group of monogamists and their many children. Rather, it seems that an opportunity to acquire farm lands (and a shortage of such lands in Millard County) was a more important motive. Star Valley, though very isolated and a completely raw frontier, was in the 1880s being promoted by the Church and the Deseret News as a place for migrants wanting new land and farming opportunities.
Ray Halls thesis, page 44, states that:
The Lower [Northern] Star Valley attracted many hardy souls who were not afraid to be long distanced away from their former homes. Such families as Lovells, Morgans, Moores, Bakers, Wolfeys, and Radfords had traveled the length of the Salt River [which flows through Star Valley from south to north] and settled some seven miles north of Freedom near where the Salt River empties into the Snake River. The Colony created by the above mentioned pioneers was named Etna at the suggestion of Carl Cook, one of the early pioneers.
Sources for the Wyoming Period
Call, Lee R. Star Valley And Its Communities
1994 Star Valley Independent, Afton, Wyoming.
Corsi, Elma W. The Hills of Home, A History of Etna and Alpine, 1885-1989. 1990. Printed in Afton, Wyoming.
Freeman, Rebecca. Footprints in Time, A History of the John Whitlock and Leah Smith Ross Radford Family. Get data.
Hall, Ray M. History of the Latter-Day Saint Settlement of Star Valley, Wyoming. 1992 Unpublished Masters Thesis, Brigham Young University.
May, Dean, Between Two Cultures: The Mormon Settlement of Star Valley, Wyoming. Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 13, 1986-87, pp. 124-140.
Morgan, Ezra T. Bits of History of Thomas Morgan. About 1950. Typescript by a grandson of Thomas & Nancy Jane Morgan.
Star Valley Stake Membership Records, 1885-1919. FHL Film # 0034537
Settling in Eastern Idaho, 1891-1900
After at least two extremely difficult winters in Wyoming, all members of our families who had been in Wyoming decided at various times in 1891 to move to some place more promising for farming. Some, like the Lovells, considered going back to Utah but were thwarted in that effort by snowed-in roads early in the fall of 1891. But all at various times in 1891 ended up as neighbors again in roughly the same part of the South Fork of the Upper Snake River Valley in Eastern Idaho. Other family members who had not had the Wyoming experience joined later. Reasons for their choice in and near what later became a town called Ririe will be discussed later.
But certainly a big factor in this decision was that the land in Eastern Idahos Upper Snake River Valley had already been surveyed for homesteads by the federal government, and the potential for irrigation water was greater than anywhere else they had lived. A few pioneers that had already settled in the region also had proven that crops would do well there and that winters were not going to be quite as devastating as in Wyoming. Unlike the natural limitations on the development of water and farmland in their Utah homes, the Snake River had a larger volume of water than any river they had seen in Utah, and the relative flatness of the Snake River Plains for miles to the west and beyond promised an abundance of land for their future generations to grow in Eastern Idaho.
Another important attraction to this area was that the LDS Church by the 1880s was also strongly promoting the Upper Snake River Valley as a good place for Mormon farmers to settle. Consequently the vast majority of settlers in the Upper Snake River Valley were from Utah or older Mormon settlements in Southeastern Idaho. Within a few years after their settlement most of their neighbors were Mormons just as they had been in Utah. This made the area more attractive to our families who wanted to carry on with their Mormon traditions of community cooperation and worship with little interference from non-Mormons.
But at least one factor in this settlement process was different from early settlements in most of Utah. Settlers in eastern Idaho early on acquired title to government-surveyed homesteads in units of 40, 80, 120, or 160 acres. In order to prove up on their essentially free homesteads, they had to live on their farms rather than in a farm village as was so common in Utah. This meant that their families and neighbors were dispersed, often miles apart, on their separate farms. This dispersed rural settlement pattern, however, did not inhibit the development of a sense of community. As an LDS ward was organized in each rural tract, a church building would be built with cooperative labor just as in Utah, and the church meeting house became a focal point of each dispersed community.
Every rural tract also needed a school house which was nearly always built early in the pioneering process. Idaho had become a state in 1890. Children were required by law to go to school. But settlers required that schools be relatively close to where their children lived, resulting in many small school houses throughout the settled area, each of which became a focal point of a community just as the churches were. In the early years the school building might function temporarily for both purposes. Rural schools were usually fairly close to the church.
These rural community tracts would always be named, sometimes after the LDS ward name for that district, and may or may not ever have ever been on a map because a town in the usual sense may not have developed there. For example, our families settled in the rural communities of Shelton, Poplar, Milo, Perry, and Rudy, all located adjacent to each other, but these communities never became towns by these names and cannot be found on the most common highway maps of Idaho. They were strong communities where our families lived and died. The cemeteries in some of these places, especially Shelton, contain the graves of many of our families strongly connected to each other through generations of intermarriage and community life.
In 1915, about 30 or more years after the above rural tracts were first settled, the town of Ririe developed on a railroad loop built to connect many farming tracts east of Idaho Falls. Ririe, along with Rigby to the west, were then the closest service centers for the rural tracts settled by our families.
For some of our families the initial move from Wyoming involved stronger push factors than pull factors. They knew they wanted to get out of Wyoming because of its cold weather, but many of them initially did not know exactly where their next home was going to be. The trip from Etna to the Snake River Valley near what is now Ririe was not a great distance, but it involved driving wagons at first through an accommodating canyon of the Snake River toward the northwest. But as they continued farther into the canyon, past what is now Swan Valley, Idaho, the river becomes boxed in by a solid lava rock canyon with essentially vertical walls on both sides of the narrowly confined river. Where that segment of the canyon begins is where travelers had to climb steep walls to the foothills above the canyon.
The experience of moving from Etna to the Upper Snake River Valley is very well expressed by Rebecca Freeman, drawing upon the Joseph H. Lovell family journals for her source:
Early snows [in the fall of 1891] had closed the road to the south through Freedom, Wyoming and Montpelier, Idaho, so they [the Lovells] decided to go north, then west and south through Eagle Rock [Idaho Falls] and Fort Hall. One major obstacle was that there was no road out of Swan Valley in that direction. The sheer canyon walls were not tall but were steep. Everyone including Leah [Radford] had to climb up the steep walls. Joseph [Lovell] and his older sons managed to get the team of horses up to the top, then they hooked ropes to the wagon and lifted it straight up the sheer walls. By the time they reached the next settled area [Snake River Plain] winter snows had arrived and they were stranded for the winter. This area was called Shelton [Idaho]. There were very few settlers and no homes or cabins available. A settler named David Ririe had a cabin that had been used as a barn and a chicken coup. He let the family live in it that winter. The family lived in tents in the snow until Joseph could get it cleaned out and livable for the winter.
By the time spring came they decided to stay and try to settle in that area. They found conditions more hospitable here and there were other settlers around. Leah regained enough health and strength to move into her own small cabin when one was built for her.
The Poplar Tract
As our families made their choices about where to settle in the Snake River Plain, some chose the first flat terrain area they came to as they descended from the hills to the east and south, at that natural boundary line between hills and plains. The 70-year-old Thomas Morgan was among those who chose to settle near the southwest bank of the South Fork of the Snake River where our migrants from Wyoming first descended the hills and onto the fertile plain. This rural tract area had become known as Poplar. Here in Poplar he and Ann and his young family with Nancy Jane settled down, beginning again for the seventh time as pioneers working with others to help establish a new settlement. This time he soon acquired title to this land, a 160-acre homestead, which he and his boys, especially John Thomas and young Joseph Charles, would prove up on within a few years. Thomas and Anns oldest sons, Edward and James John and Nancys son Frank Ryset, also obtained farms nearby on other rural tracts.
Certainly one of the attractions already in place in Poplar by the time Morgans got there was the beginning of an infrastructure for farming. Although Indians, ranchers, and fur trappers preceded farmers in the Upper Snake River Valley, more intensive farming began in earnest in the 1880s under the legal framework of the Timber Act and the Homestead Act. By 1884, settlers realized that without irrigation water they would not be unable to improve on their homesteads or even survive. In 1884, years before the Morgans arrived in Poplar, a canal was brought from the Snake River to Poplar region farms. It was a natural seasonal stream channel part of the way but had to be enlarged. The water served the land for a distance of about three miles. The canal was named the Farmers Friend Canal. By the time Morgans got to Poplar in 1891 the canal had already been extended down to the Shelton tract to the west of Poplar. Another earlier canal, the Anderson Canal, had also been completed to water much of the fertile lands west and southwest of Poplar before the Morgans got there.
Showing again the spirit of cooperation among our families in this pioneer effort, George Radford, writing for the book Pioneer Irrigation in the Upper Snake River Valley (pages 87-88), says: Frank Ryset, Edward, James John, and Thomas Morgan, and a cousin John Radford, went up the river to Black Canyon and got enough logs to build five one-room houses 16 X 18. These logs were sent down the river on a raft made by the men.
Besides building cabins, obtaining more water seemed always to be an important need. According to George Radford, who wrote a life sketch of Thomas Morgan in the above book:
Mr. Morgan made and put a water-wheel in the Anderson Canal just below the present site of the Riley ditch headgate. It was made something like a wagon wheel with large paddles extending out and buckets fastened to them. The pressure of the running water from the river turned the wheel and each time the wheel went around each bucket would fill, swing around in position to empty the water into a large trough which then carried the water to his ditch. With his water-wheel he secured water for his garden, livestock and culinary use.
As the family grew and the need for more land and irrigation became necessary, they continued to cooperate in building needed infrastructure. In 1899 they pooled their labor again in building the most important irrigation ditch for their homesteads in Poplar. Until about 1898 the south part of Poplar could not be irrigated for lack of a ditch on this higher ground adjacent to the hills.
The first ditch built along this south bluff is known as the Riley Ditch, named after John Riley, the first husband of Thomas and Nancy Jane Morgans daughter Martha. After a survey had been made of his land, John Riley determined that if a ditch could be run along the bluff extending southwest from the river it would be possible to deliver water to this barren spot. Work began in the summer of 1899 when John Riley, Thomas Morgan, Edward Morgan, Daniel Radford, Jr. and others started construction on the ditch. Considering that Thomas at this time was about 78 years old, he probably didnt do much of the physical work. As a surveyor, however, he may have helped determine the course the new ditch would take.
Sources say the building of the Riley ditch was more difficult than expected because of the need to remove boulders and trees and make a firm leakproof bed for the ditch in some soft gravel areas. Joseph Morgan, in 1902, youngest son of Thomas and Nancy Jane, was among those who filed for water rights to farm on his homestead in Poplar using water from the new Riley Ditch.
Poplar was the first Idaho home of the Thomas and Nancy Jane Morgan family. Four years after settling there, Ann Ollen Watkins Morgan died in Poplar on 19 August 1895 at the age of 73. Her death left Thomas with his wife Nancy Jane and her family. But in May 1900 Nancy Jane at age 53 died in Poplar of nervous prostration. By that time four of her five surviving children had reached adulthood. Her youngest, Lydia Almeda, was 12 years old when her mother died. It is probably that Lydia Almeda moved to her sister Marthas house after Nancy Janes death. In October 1906 the 85-year-old Thomas married 66-year-old widow Susan Byington Wilbur. Her Byington family were early pioneers of Poplar, as well as her husbands family the Wilburs.
Thomas Morgans Ferry Across the Snake
The Snake River during most of the year was much too wide and unforgiving to simply ford across in a wagon. Ferry boats were employed, especially where the channel was narrower. North of the Poplar area the Snake River divides for a distance of about five miles, forming an island between its two channels. Upsteam from this division (east) near the intake (headgate) for the Anderson Canal, the river was narrow at a place now called Byington Fishing Access. This was a good place for the Upper Ferry, which the elderly Thomas Morgan operated for a few years.
In the book Ririe Our Hometown:
In about 1898, Elof Nelson . . . built a ferry about three miles upstream from the town of Ririe. The ferry consisted of two boats with timbers over the top joining both boats. Planks were laid over the timbers to create a solid floor. A railing was placed around the outside of the whole ferry. The ferry was placed so that the river current itself provided the momentum to move it across the river. In 1906, Elof Nelson sold this Upper Ferry to Thomas Morgan. . . . He ran it himself for several years.
Morgans ferry carried teams of horses and wagons and hauled logs and timber from a sawmill in Kelleys Canyon. Many people also ferried for pleasure, as a swimming resort was now at Heise Hot Springs, about three miles downstream (west) on the north side of the river.
The Shelton and Milo Tracts
Bordering the Poplar Tract on its west is Shelton, and Milo is to the west of Shelton. In 1891 the families of Frank and Priscilla Morgan Ryset, Joseph and Leah Radford Lovell, Edward and Sarah West Morgan, and Willard and Annie Morgan Moore moved to Shelton. Within a short time they all had legal title to homestead lands in Shelton. In the true pioneering spirit some of them donated plots of land for community purposes. Willard Moore donated a large lot for a cemetery, now the Ririe-Shelton Cemetery, where most of our Shelton and Poplar ancestors are buried. Frank Ryset donated a lot for a school. Frank Ryset and his neighbors floated logs down the Snake River and built the first schoolhouse in time for a Christmas party in 1892. Other family members arriving in Shelton in the 1890s included Franklin Brown (husband of Edward Morgans daughter Mary Emma), who with his brother A. W. Brown built the first store in Shelton.
The Anderson Canal was the first canal built in the region that included Shelton. First surveyed in 1879, by the early 1880s, it was already providing water to the Shelton area and beyond when our families arrived. It eventually became part of a larger system of canals still in use.
In the Shelton community, according to the book Ririe Our Town, From the early 1880s Mormon settlers in this part of the Snake River Plain began meeting together in their homes until about 1885 when an LDS ward was organized called Willow Creek Ward, named after a small tributary of the Snake that ran to the west and south of their lands. In 1892 the Willow Creek Ward was divided, forming the Shelton Ward to its east, encompassing our Shelton and Poplar families homestead areas. With the same dedication and cooperation as in previous settlements, our families and their neighbors built the first Shelton LDS church house in 1893, this time made of milled lumber.
In this region of Idaho by the 1880s and 1890s, log and lumber were by far the chief building materials for houses and buildings instead of the adobe common in central Utah. Two-room log cabins with dirt floors and dirt roofs, as described in the Oak City section of this history, were the most common houses during the frontier period. Willard Moore is one who mentioned a dugout as being his familys first home.
In the 1900 U. S. census, the government did not recognize the local names of these tracts where our families lived. Our families living in Shelton and Poplar in 1900 were enumerated in the Willow Creek Precinct in then Bingham County. This was a broad east-west district extending from Poplar west as far as Milo and Ucon. In the Willow Creek census in 1900 were the Frank Ryset family, Willard Moore family, Martha Morgan Riley and two daughters, Thomas Morgan with son Joseph and daughter Almeda (12 years old), and next door was John Thomas Morgan with wife Josephine and daughter. This Willow Creek census was dated 18 June 1900, only about a month after Nancy Jane Morgan died.
Martha Morgan Riley, daughter of Thomas and Nancy Jane, settled in Milo, the tract just west of Shelton, after her first husband John Riley died. She married the widower Samuel Thomas Eames and raised their combined family in the Milo tract. Marthas younger sister Lydia Almeda Morgan married George Nowlin and moved to Clarsholm, Alberta, Canada, where they raised a large family.
Rudy and Perry Tracts
Just to the north of Poplar and Shelton, other rural tracts developed which became the homes of some of our families. Rudy originally was a large tract just to the north of Shelton, but at that time was in Fremont County (now Jefferson), and included the lands extending from east of present Ririe for about seven miles west toward Rigby. Unlike the other tracts mentioned, Rudy early on got a post office and was recognized by the federal government as a census precinct in 1900 and 1910. In these two censuses our families that lived in Rudy include Isaac Chase, second husband of Priscilla Morgan Radford, whose first husband John F. Radford had died while living in Vale, Oregon, in March of 1889. Priscilla moved her young Radford family to the area and sometime later married Isaac Chase. Their children grew up in the Chase home in Rudy. Daniel H. and Everal Hannah Morgan Radford also settled in Rudy. Dick Ross and later Melvin Ross, Nancy Jane Radfords half brothers, also settled on homesteads in Rudy.
In 1908 the LDS Church divided the large Rudy Ward, forming the Perry Ward on its east and Clark Ward on its west. Perry was essentially the tract which later included the townsite of Ririe. Most of our families identified as residents of Rudy in 1900 actually lived in what later became Perry when the two wards were divided. A few years before Thomas Morgan died, he moved to Perry Ward to live in the home of his daughter Priscilla Morgan Chase. He died at her home on 6 July 1915 at the age of about 94. The town of Ririe was not founded until 1915 when a railroad was extended through the Perry area. It now occupies the southern part of the old Perry District.
Dry Farm Regions in the Hills
Just to the south and east of the Upper Snake River plain a hilly topography dominates the landscape. These hills could not be watered by the flood irrigation techniques used when settlers came to the valley. But since the rainfall amount is adequate to grow low-yield crops of grain without irrigation, the hills became known as dry farm country (farming without irrigation). Some of our families, especially second or third generation members, claimed land in the hills for dry farming purposes. Grain crops grew, but there was a limit on how many acres could be profitably cleared and plowed for the value in grains reaped. Dry farming here required an alternate fallow year between crop years. So if a family had 160 acres in dry farm lands, only half that amount could be planted any one year, while the other half lay fallow to collect moisture from rains that nourished next years crop. The planted lands would be alternated with fallow lands each planting season.
The Frank Ryset family maintained homes in the dry farm lands as well as down in the valley, requiring some of them to move seasonally. Sons of Thomas and Nancy Jane, Joseph and John Thomas, worked together on their lands in the dry farm area. Ted Radford and some of the Lovells actually went to live in the hills, building homes along one of the many creeks that drained the hills.
The Ririe-Shelton Cemetery
One excellent way descendants of this large Morgan-Radford clan can get in touch with their past is to visit the Ririe-Shelton Cemetery located one mile southwest of Ririe in a clump of trees on the north side of present highway 26. Buried on plots adjacent to each other are many of our earliest Utah ancestors. The southeastern area of the cemetery is the oldest and contains tombstones of John W. and Leah Radford (his remains were brought from Etna, Wyoming, and buried next to his wife). Leah Smith Ross Radford was one of the first of our ancestors to be buried in this cemetery. She died at the age of 72 in her small log cabin in Shelton on 24 December 1894. Others there include Thomas Morgan and his wives Ann and Nancy Jane, Joseph and Leah Lovell, Abraham and Dianna Radford Woolsey, Edward and Sarah West Morgan, Willard and Annie Morgan Moore, Frank and Mary Emma Morgan Brown, Daniel H. and Everal Morgan Radford. Elsewhere in this same cemetery are Frank and Priscilla Morgan Ryset, Melvin and Mary Hadden Ross, and many descendants of our early pioneers.
When Thomas Morgan died in 1915, according to his obituary written by Joseph Charles Morgan, at that time he was survived by 10 children, 60 grandchildren, about 100 great-grandchildren, and 26 great-great-grandchildren. At the beginning of the 21st century, his descendants with his two wives Ann and Nancy Jane would number several thousand. And the early generations of Morgans had so intermingled with the Radfords that most of these Morgan descendants are also descendants of the Radfords and or Rosses, Rysets, and others.
We can look back with pride at our Morgan-Radford ancestors. Their accomplishments were not in the form of books, learning, or art, but in the founding of towns, communities, and families which thrive today. This is a legacy with which we can take pride. It is hoped that by learning more about their history, the places where they lived, and the social and religious circumstances of their lives, we can appreciate the hardships, struggles, and sacrifices which they made for us, and bond with them. We are fortunate today that many pictures and a few artifacts of them have survived. They come alive for us in their stories and pictures.
For life sketches and more pictures of our ancestral families, see our Web site www.morganclan.com. Family group sheets and pedigree charts on nearly all of these families can be downloaded from www.familysearch.org.
Sources for the Idaho Period
Anthony, Betty et al. Ririe Our Hometown, a Centennial History of Ririe, Idaho. No date or place of publication.
Carter, Kate B. Pioneer Irrigation Upper Snake River Valley. 1955 Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
Census of Idaho, 1900, Bingham County, Willow Creek Precinct, and Fremont County, Rudy Precincts.
Forebush, Harold S. Education in the Upper Snake River Valley The Public Schools 1880-1950. 1992, Ricks College Press.
Hansen, Ruth, in The Pioneer History and Development of the Milo Ward 1880-1960. 1960 Idaho Falls Typo-Press Commercial Printers. Pages 107-109 (Martha Morgan Eames).
Lovell, Edith Haroldsen, Captain Bonnevilles County. 1963. Idaho Falls. Eastern Idaho Farmer.
Lovell, Edith Haroldsen, Shelton Is Special. 1976, Bonneville County Historical Society1940, Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, Sarah Howard Chapter.
Perry LDS Ward Records, 1909 and after FHL Film # 0007246
Poplar LDS Ward Records, 1909 and after. FHL Film #0007247
Shelton, LDS Ward Records, 1891-1909. FHL Film #0007292.