Albert Smith

Albert Smith and the Lessons of Seagulls and Mormon Crickets

The other day I went to turn on an outside faucet and it seemed to me my lawn was moving beneath my feet. We have been infested, along with the rest of the American West, with Mormon Crickets.

Without fail my mind turned to Grandfather Albert Smith.

Albert Smith was grandfather to Mary Ann Smith Westover, wife to Arnold Westover. He lived nearly every experience of a 19th century Mormon. Albert joined the Church around 1835, was headed to Far West and ended up in Nauvoo. He served a mission. His family lived in the same ward as Joseph Smith and he helped build the Nauvoo temple.

The Smiths were in the 1847 company of Brigham Young and Albert served in the Mormon Battalion. After his service he caught up with his family in Salt Lake, arriving just weeks after their late July arrival. He immediately set to work on his new farm, as all the settlers that year rushed to get in crops before winter.

Albert’s Salt Lake City farm was one of the scenes of the miracle of the seagulls we all learned about as children. As the story goes, Mormon Crickets descended on crops of grain in the valley threatening the food supply of the pioneers. The crops were saved by flocks of seagulls that came and devoured all the grasshoppers.

There is even a statue on Temple Square commemorating the event

Seagull Monument

But, as Albert’s journal tells the tale, there is a lot more to the story.

Albert wrote on that event in as it happened. He did not hold back in describing what took place:

“President Brigham Young addressed the saints told the Brethren not to be discouraged, but put in all the grain they could for they would not be hurt by the crickets, but, we should have an abundant harvest….The circumstance I will never forget. I put in 10 acres which was all I had and all the brethren put in all they could altho the ground was covered with crickets.

When I thought it time for it to be coming up I went to see it. My farming land was 8 miles from the city. I had heard that the seagulls had been seen in the field. When I got in sign of my grain I saw that it was covered with seagulls. I stopped till they flew to another part of the field. What was my joy and surprise when I went to the place and found every cricket destroyed. There was not a single one alive to be found while dead ones laid in heaps where the gulls had thrown them up on the ground they would fill themselves again…”

While Albert’s record confirms the legend I have found the story of Mormon Crickets didn’t end there.

Albert’s journal is a meticulous record of his farm productivity. Each season he would record how many acres he planted, what was planted and how much he was able to harvest. This was Albert’s living. Everything about his family’s survival depended upon his ability to raise and harvest crops.

So his journal is filled each year not only with the statistics of his production but also the challenges he faced each season. Drought and Mormon Crickets were constant problems. In fact, hardly a year went by when Albert wasn’t cursing their existence.

Sometimes, conditions got the better of him and he had to find other means to support his family.

Albert and Sophia Smith

Albert with Sophie, “my Danish wife”, taken late 1880s

One year the harvest was so poor Albert feared they would starve come winter. But a letter from a friend in far away Davis county said they had a good harvest and Albert could come glean the fields. So, by wagon and in the company of some of his children at home, Albert set out for Davis County. He returned several weeks later with a wagon load of grain he was able to gather after others had left it in the field.

Another year there was another crop failure. Albert was able, in his mid-60s, to work on the railroad to earn the money needed to get through the winter.

But overall, Albert’s journal makes consistent notes about his production: despite the never ending challenges, his production grew year after year overall. The “hoppers”, as he liked to call them, never went away. But his diligence, resourcefulness and persistence helped him to overcome in time to where they were not the challenge they first presented.

Albert was also persistent in his faith. He always expressed gratitude and acknowledged the hand of God in his pioneering work.

Albert had good reason to curse Mormon Crickets. I don’t. They infest my lawn and nibble at my wife’s garden. They mostly gross me out.

But they remind me of why Pioneer Day has become a sacred observance of sorts for me. I have tremendous respect for the unknown journal-keeper known as Albert Smith.

He, of course, was not alone in dealing with the Mormon Crickets. All of the pioneer settlers had to fight them. But his chosen course in dealing with them and other adversities inspiring me as we deal with the many challenges of our time.

Edwin's Promise

Edwin’s Promise

Edwin’s Promise is a new video promoting what we have been calling the Edwin Westover Family Project.

When discussing this idea with some cousins several years ago it seemed then – and now, frankly – an impossible task. The work of family history is the gathering of information of our ancestors who have passed on.

But in the case of Edwin Westover, my fourth great-grandfather who lived from 1824-1878, he was given a promise. He was told of a future gathering in which both his ancestors and posterity would attend.

In discussing this with cousins we mused what it would be like to gather the living descendants of Edwin Westover. How many could there be? What are their stories? How have we all added to the legacy of Edwin Westover in 200 years?

As I set out again for Rootstech this year I’m asking these questions anew. I’m hoping that perhaps I might meet even more cousins who might be interested in the Edwin Westover Family Project.

What we’re putting together here is more than just a family reunion. It is a family history event that is unique because we’re trying to learn the extended story of Edwin Westover. We’re a part of it.

We have roughly 18 months to put this together. We want to offer it to those in person and online. All of those details are yet to be worked out but as it comes together we will share through regular updates right here and through as many family channels as we can acquire.

I’m excited for this event. I cannot wait to learn more about my cousins of the 20th and 21st centuries who claim Edwin as an ancestor.

The work of learning how to do family history at Rootstech is one I gladly take up again after three years away due to the pandemic. In years passed I have been able to meet family – almost all exclusively related as well to Edwin – that I did not know previously. Through this website and Rootstech I have met so many wonderful cousins and I cannot wait to meet more.

According to my Rootstech app and, I have more than 45,000 relatives attending Rootstech either in person or online.

So, if you’re there, drop me a text or give me a call at 435-294-9783 – I will be there all three days. I would love to meet with you, take a photo and exchange contact information.

With each contact we make we take another step forward in fulfilling Edwin’s Promise.


The Place Manti Has in Our Family History

The Deseret News this week featured an article about the Manti Temple, telling this famous story of Brigham Young and Warren S. Snow from 1877:

Standing on the southeast corner of the Manti Utah Temple site, Brigham Young told Warren S. Snow, “Here is the spot where the Prophet Moroni stood and dedicated this piece of land for a temple site, and that is the reason why the location is made here, and we can’t move it from this spot.”

This story in recent years has been cast into doubt by bloggers and historians alike who claim there is no official record of this ever happening.

Yet the story is told and retold, as it was in the Deseret News this week. It has been archived in Church publications for decades.

In fact, of all the records kept of the dedication of the Manti temple there is nothing to suggest that anything was “dedicated” before the temple was constructed.

Yet the story persists. Why?

Because it was put forward by Warren S. Snow, not the Church.

Historians have a bone or two to pick with Bishop Snow, Mayor Snow and General Snow, as he was known during his lifetime.

And yes – he is family.

He is one of the many illustrious sons of Gardner Snow, that grand patriarch of the Snow family.

The Snow family started joining the Church in the very early 1830s, and their experiences in Vermont, Kirtland, Far West and later, Nauvoo, led to pioneering the West.

Warren S. Snow is just one part of multiple Snow family members who founded, lived, and played a part in establishing Manti, Utah. Manti, and the temple built there, would over the generations come to play a big part for the Westovers, the Smiths, the Snows, the Riggs and the Quilter families.

Manti has always been and likely will always be a very small and remote place. But it looms large as a home, a gathering place and a sacred ground for many we call family.

To fully understand how this came to be we need to tell some stories of those early Manti pioneers who helped to make that temple possible.

~ A Little Manti History ~

Chief Walkara, also known as Walker, was born about 1808, along the Spanish Fork River in what is now Utah, one of five sons of a chief of the Timpanogos band.

Chief Wakara

Described as being over six feet tall and extremely strong, he was a successful warrior from a young age. His piercing eyes earned him the nickname “Hawk of the Mountains.”

While there are plenty of stories about his life it must be noted that Wakara was known for both good and bad things. Some historians have called him the most prolific horse stealer in history. Others call him a great peacemaker.

What there is to know about historians, whether the speak of a man like Chief Wakara or a man like Warren Stone, is that historians usually have some point they are trying to make.

I personally believe that history is best told through those who passed through it. In the case of both Wakara and Snow, they left us plenty on their own to think about.

Around the year 1845, before white settlers came to Utah, Chief Wakara had a dream.

This is an account he told that was recorded by a Mormon settler later:

“He died and his spirit went to heaven. He saw the lord s sitting upon a throne dressed in white. The Lord told him he could not stay, he had to return. Walker desired to stay but the Lord told him that he had to return to earth that there would come to him a race of white people that would be his friends and he must treat them kindly.”

When the Mormons did come Chief Walker met in council, along with 12 of his warriors, with Brigham Young and church leaders in the Salt Lake Valley.

These Indians had come to ask Brigham Young to send colonists into the Sanpitch Valley to teach the Indians how to build homes and till the soil.

During the proceedings of this council which convened on June 14, 1849, at Salt Lake City, Walker remarked “I was always friendly with the Mormons. I hear what they say and remember it. It is good to live like the Mormons and their children. I do not care about the land, but I want the Mormons to go and settle it.”

A scout team was sent in August and by fall fifty families were called to go to the valley to settle it. It would be the first settlement south of Provo.

They were led by experienced men who names mark the pages of early Church history. Men like Isaac Morley, Charles Shumway, and our own great-grandfathers, Gardner Snow and Albert Smith, were sent.

Upon arriving many felt that the Sanpitch Valley was indeed a blessed place.

Father Morley, as most of the settlers referred to him, pointed a prophetic finger to a hill rising in the distance and said, “There is the termination of our journey; in close proximity to that hill, God willing, we will build our city there.”

That hill would come to be known as Temple Hill, in time. It was recognized as early as 1850 as a special place and some claimed visions while arriving there.

A woman named Betsy Bradley, and her three-year-old son, Hyrum, saw a personage in white on a white horse mysteriously appear on the hill and then, just as mysteriously, he disappeared.

Bradley told about this mysterious appearance to everyone who desired to listen and through it one of the Sagas of the Sanpitch was born: Everyone said, “This personage dressed in white on the white horse is the same personage that constrained Father Morley to proclaim it a special place and that person is the Prophet Moroni!”

Orson F. Whitney, in his book Life of Heber C. Kimball, relates this story:

“In an early day when President Young and party were making the location of the settlement here, President Heber C. Kimball, prophesied that the day would come when a temple would be built on this hill. Some disbelieved and doubted the possibility of even making a settlement here. Brother Kimball said, “Well, it will be so, and more than that the rock will be quarried from that hill to build it with, and some of the stone from that quarry will be taken to help complete the Salt Lake Temple.”

All of this was widely known long before Warren Snow and Brigham Young climbed that hill in April of 1877.

By that time, the history of Manti, of Warren Snow, of Brigham Young, of the Ute Indians, and of the temple had already covered a lot of ground.

~ Gardner Snow, A Patriarch ~

Gardner Snow moved to Manti in 1850, a little after the original parties led by his good friend Isaac Morley had selected Manti’s hill as the base for the community.

He was, at this point in his life, 57 years of age, an experienced veteran of the early LDS Church experience. He was seasoned. He had served as a missionary, Bishop, and a member of the Quorum of the Seventy.

He experienced the temple for the first time in Kirtland and later lived in Far West. He was chased, with many others, by mobs out of Missouri, and later had his home and possessions burned to the ground while living at Morley’s Settlement in Illinois.

In Nauvoo he received his temple endowments and later moved to Council Bluffs, where he resumed his work as Bishop.

When he was finally allowed to come to Utah he was assigned to Sanpete County, where he worked as a councilman and then later as a probate judge for many years.

By avocation, Gardner Snow was a sheepherder in Manti. He was in Manti less than a year when his partner, Sarah Sawyer Hastings Snow, passed away at the age of 60.

Gardner Snow

During their life together Gardner and Sarah had 9 children – six of them sons. Of those six sons only three survived into extended maturity.

James Chauncey Snow (our great grandfather), like his father, had experience in early Church history and came around the same time as his father to Utah. He would be a Stake President in Provo and live a long life of family and church service.

Warren Stone Snow, who you will read more about below, would become a Presiding Bishop in Utah and a controversial figure in the history of Manti.

George Washington Snow came with his brothers to Utah in the early 1850s, settling near their father in Manti. He would work for some years as a cooper in Manti, where he also studied the law and later served as a lawyer, the prosecutor of Sanpete County and in various elected public roles for years.

All of these Snow men were deeply embedded in Church and public service in Central Utah.

Their histories are all public record. In their various fields of service they touched the lives and many and were known by generations of Manti citizens.

Gardner Snow was especially well thought of, much like his friend Isaac Morley, because they were early church members who knew the Prophet and had experienced the persecutions of the early Church experience.

All of these men would die before connections with the Westover, Smith, Riggs and Quilter families were made.

It is curious to contemplate how their passions for the temple and getting it completed in Manti during their lifetimes would come to be meaningful for their later descendants.

~ Albert Smith in Manti ~

Albert Smith’s connection to the Westover family comes through is granddaughter, Mary Ann Smith, who married my great-grandfather, Arnold Westover.

If there is any individual representative of the 19th century Mormon experience, it is Albert Smith.

He joined the Church in 1835, lived in Missouri and Western Illinois, suffering from the persecution and loss of those places before the Nauvoo period.

Like many others, he relocated to Nauvoo and was in the same ward as Joseph Smith – in fact, he knew the Prophet well.

Albert was friends with several individuals known in Church history, notably Wilford Woodruff, and he would, in time, become acquainted with others who played important roles in pioneering Manti.

While living in Nauvoo, Albert served a mission, returned home to find his family in crisis due to the scandals of John C. Bennett, and he helped to construct the Nauvoo temple.

Albert and his family were among the first company to leave Nauvoo and was at Mt. Pisgah when Brigham Young called for service in the Mormon Battalion.

Albert served, along with his 17-year-old son, Azariah, the entire year. They backtracked to Utah from California, arriving just after the Saints first got there in the summer of 1847.

He farmed his allotted acreage in the Salt Lake Valley, and it was on his land that the miracle of the seagulls took place, an event he recorded in detail in his journal.

With many others Albert and family were called to move to Sanpete County.

Albert and his wife established a farm and used their home for the first several years to host the first dramatic productions held in Manti. They were very involved in the community and Albert dutifully recorded it all in his journals.

For all his Mormon experience and his faithfulness, Albert never held high position in the LDS Church. In time he would embrace plural marriage, albeit reluctantly.

For more than 40 years Albert steadfastly built the Kingdom of his faith, commenting here and there in his journal of both his experiences and his opinions of the pioneer experience.

The Manti temple, for him, represented many things.

What he would do over the forty years it took to build that temple in Manti should be an inspiration for all of us who call ourselves his grandchildren.

His quiet, in-the-background life of service stands in contrast to a man he would share family with in the generations to come.

That man’s name is Warren Stone Snow.

~ Warren S. Snow – A Complicated Man ~

The Snow family of Manti has a long history in the LDS faith.

In fact, they were one of the most unique families in early church history with the likes of Lorenzo Snow, Eliza R. Snow, Erastus Snow, Gardner Snow, James Chauncey Snow and Warren S. Snow among their famous numbers.

Their history and exploits as a family during the rise of the Church in the 19th century was so great that one Congressman, Charles B. Landis, in a speech made in 1900, declared the Snow family “the most consistent Mormons in the whole bunch”.

But Warren S. Snow was different from his famous father, brothers and cousins.

Warren S. Snow

His foundation of faith was indeed built in his youth while attending early church gatherings in the Mormon Barn, as it was called, of his grandfather, Levi Snow, in Chesterfield, Vermont.

But his experiences as a young man serving in security capacities for the Church seeded a conflict within him that colored nearly all of his later experiences as a church leader.

He was there – and close to the Prophet Joseph Smith and his family – when the Prophet was murdered in 1844.

In fact, in recorded talks given in church conferences not long after the Martyrdom, Warren referred to the bodies as “mangled”. It was an event that traumatized him so greatly that he often spoke strongly, if not violently, against the enemies of the Church.

Warren’s long service in the conflicts that arose during the post-Nauvoo period later left him described as a chosen defender of the Church and its prophets. He would, in time, enter into the circle of Brigham Young and become his close friend.

Brigham at one time considered Warren S. Snow as a potential member of the Quorum of the Twelve, saying that he was a “good man” when his name was brought up in counsels.

As it was, Warren S. Snow was assigned to Manti and made the presiding Bishop there, as well as a leading representative in the territorial legislature. In these capacities Warren had vast responsibilities related to church and civic governance.

He was consulted on how and where new settlements would be established and he placed men in important positions in Church leadership all over central Utah. He reported directly to Brigham and the Quorum of the Twelve and met with them frequently.

But there were troubled episodes during the early church leadership service of Warren Snow.

During a brief period after the Utah War, an examination of tithing funds in Manti resulted in a scandal made public from the pulpit by a visiting apostle, Orson Hyde, who declared Warren’s leadership suspect.

After a long and humiliating public investigation, it was determined that the bishopric led by Warren Snow was “careless” instead of dishonest.

Warren Snow publicly repented of his part in the scandal and that repentance was accepted by his superiors who had stood critical of him. But the event did great damage to his reputation and Warren struggled to regain the respect of the people of Manti.

His reputation as a hard man had proceeded him, and many questioned his judgment given the rumors they had heard about him over the years.

During the passionate period known as the Mormon Reformation, a time when “hellfire and damnation” was preached from the pulpit as leaders browbeat the Saints for not living their religion, Warren Snow was among the most vociferous.

His sermons from the time accused Church members of the need to repent and do better against all kinds of weaknesses and shortcomings.

During this period Warren was viewed as a particularly harsh leader. Some of his actions in his callings did little to dissuade the skeptical nature of how others viewed him.

In one famous episode the case of a man who was guilty of serious sexual transgression was brought before a Church court led by Bishop Snow. Excommunicating the man was not strong enough for members of the council – or for Bishop Snow.

In a clandestine midnight mugging of the man he was castrated, evidently at the hands of the Bishop and those members of the council who had excommunicated him.

Word of this reached Brigham Young and other Church leaders and another investigation ensued, casting a cloud of suspicion over Warren Snow that he never fully recovered from.

Part of the suspicion of Bishop Snow came from his reputation as a Church defender.

During the Utah War Warren Snow was a commanding general in the Nauvoo Legion, the holdover militia organized in Utah to defend against invading forces.

Snow was specifically charged by Brigham Young not to kill the troops on the way. He could steal cattle and supplies, set fires, and do anything possible to disrupt their march to Utah but he was not to engage in the use of deadly force.

Surviving records of the campaign indicate this was a difficult charge for Warren Snow, who wanted revenge on the enemies of the Church.

In Church talks Warren Snow often spoke of defending the faith.

A patriarchal blessing given to him sharpened his self-view in this role. It told him he was called to the protective service to the Church and promised that he could not be killed by enemies of the faith.

But for all of Warren’s passion about defending the faith there was another side to him that was markedly compassionate and spiritual.

He was blessed with a number of spiritual experiences that profoundly influenced him, including hearing the voice of God during the dedication of the Kirkland temple and witnessing the transfiguration of Brigham Young.

In the early 1860s, perhaps in a move to rescue Warren Snow from his reputation, Brigham Young sent the Bishop to England on a mission.

He served for several years with distinction and surviving letters between Warren and Brigham show that Warren did all he could to re-establish good feeling between them.
When Warren returned Brigham did welcome him with open arms and he sent the same apostle, Orson Hyde, who had led the investigation against him years before, to address the people to proclaim Warren’s innocence and to re-establish him in local church leadership in Manti once again.

Warren S. Snow Letter

A letter from Warren Snow to Brigham Young. Source: Church History Library

It did not go well for a time. But before long Indian uprisings created a need for Warren Snow, Defender of the Faith.

For years the residents in Central Utah had endured constant badgering by roving bands of Indians who would steal cattle and occasionally kill settlers.

Brigham’s strategy statewide for the longest time was to appease the Native Americans who lived there, clinging to the idea that he would “rather feed them then fight them”.

But not all settlers had Brigham’s patience.

When property was destroyed and especially when lives were taken many felt to impose an equal loss upon the Indians.

This inflamed situations over and over, and after a particularly gruesome killing of white settlers up a nearby canyon, things quickly got out of hand with a young Indian leader known as Black Hawk (a nephew to Chief Walker and a son of Chief Sanpitch).

The more the back-and-forth of killing between the Indians and the whites happened the bigger it seemed that Black Hawk’s band grew. In short time, greater damage and increased numbers of people were killed on both sides.

When the appointed leader of the local militia abandoned his post in the middle of a conflict it was Warren Snow who assumed command.

Working as closely with Brigham Young as he could Warren saw this new opportunity to prove to the community of Manti that he was a changed man.

For more than a year the Black Hawk War, as it came to be called, raged as Warren and Brigham tried to bring peace through restraint.

While Warren Snow was plain spoken with Brigham Young and other Church leaders about what he thought should be done he always sided publicly with what Young both advised and publicly said.

But Black Hawk persisted, and the event escalated after Warren Snow had promised safety for Indian warriors only to have more of them killed by restless settlers bent on revenge.

Everyone was aware of how tenuous the situation was – even Albert Smith.

From his journal we hear of an uprising that started in Gunnison, where a Mormon family was brutally murdered by marauding Indians.

The retaliation event took place right in front of the Smith home in Manti, as local settlers there captured two Indians completely unconnected with the Gunnison affair and tried to kill them.

Albert intervened and pled for their lives, stating to his fellow citizens of Manti that killing the wandering pair would only lead to more bloodshed on their own properties and to their own families.

He echoed, perhaps unknowingly, the same sentiments advanced by Brigham Young and Warren Snow.

As had happened so many times before, Albert’s admonition was ignored. For months the people in Manti went into hiding for fear of Indian retaliation.

In time, both Brigham and Warren came to see that something needed to be done to get Black Hawk to back down. Over the course of 9 months Warren led large groups of men in attacking and capturing leaders of the Indian band.

The Indians stepped up their part by using women and children to help captured prisoners to escape and on one careless night at the jail in Manti, Utah they caused the escape of about 8 Indian warriors.

Warren and his men gave chase and during a very close exchange of gunfire on the streets of Manti, Warren killed two Indian chiefs while sustaining a bullet wound to his arm and shoulder.

He wrote to Brigham to report on the affair, expressing regret at having to take a life to save his own.

Knowing that the event would inflame things even further, Brigham sent Warren on a relentless chase into the Fish Lake forest in search of Black Hawk and his closest men. It took months, and Warren ended up with greater wounds and became exhausted from the chase.

His exploits were reported in the news and in time the campaign began to wear down Black Hawk and his men. Black Hawk went on record to say that as long as Warren Snow lived in Manti he would never know peace.

Brigham felt that maybe Warren Snow, for as valiant as his efforts had been, could have been making things worse with Black Hawk. Seeing that Warren was injured, exhausted, and leaving the care of his family to others for long stretches of time, Brigham relieved him of command and sent him home to heal.

The change in leadership did help in ending the conflict with Black Hawk. In months, hostilities ended.

But the whole affair had a restorative effect on Warren Snow’s reputation. He returned to cheers in the streets of Manti and in time became Mayor of the city.

His service as a church leader in the years that followed were markedly different this time around.

For the next 30-years Warren Snow enjoyed a reputation as a man of prudence, a man of compassion and a man who defended the faith with softer tones and greater testimony.

So, when Warren Snow stood on Temple Hill in Manti with Brigham Young and later declared that President Young had said Moroni had dedicated that spot for a temple in the Latter-days, people took him seriously.

In fact, his funeral in 1896 was attended by thousands of people. His impact on the community and the whole of central Utah would go down in local history in glowing terms.

The Manti Temple, which was announced in 1875, featured a variety of events that involved the entirety of the community.

A parade was held when the ground was dedicated (or, rededicated, if you will). The Mormon hierarchy present included the First Presidency, members of the Quorum of the Twelve, and prominent local citizens such as Patriarch Garner Snow, and, of course, General Snow.

The Monday following the dedication of the site, on April 30th, 1877, the citizens of Manti gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony so that work could commence that day.

The 100-people gathered knelt in prayer led by Bishop John B. Maiben, then Partriarch Gardner Snow prayed over the labors.

One by one the prominent individuals of Manti took their turn with the shovels in the following order: Bishop Maiben, Patriarch Snow, James Wareham, Hans Jensen, Frederick Cox, Albert Smith, Jezreel Showemaker, George Peacock, Luther Tuttle, and George Billings.

After these ceremonial few, more than 80 men with their horses and oxen began the broad work of excavating with plows, scrapers, picks, and shovels. It would be the first day of more than 11 years of temple construction.

For Albert Smith, who attended these events and noted them in his journal, the coming of the temple spurred an effort to do his family history.

He wrote letters and sent money to genealogists in New York and Massachusetts. This happened before the temple was first announced in 1875.

Along with his third wife, Grandmother Sophia Smith, the anticipation of the temple was something recorded with each passing season. Albert and Sophie would visit the unfinished temple frequently and record what they saw.

By the time the temple was completed in 1888 Albert had possession of nearly 2000 names of his ancestors. He was proud of his Mayflower connections and was anxious to get into the temple to do work for them.

The temple dedication was an event so anticipated it is believed that was when this notable image of Albert and Sophie was taken:

Albert & Sophie Smith

When it finally came time to dedicate the temple more than 5000 people came to the remote location of Manti to participate.

Going to these events required tickets or invitations. In fact, nearly everything associated with the Temple over the years of it’s construction featured some sort of documentation. Here is a donation slip showing a contribution made by Gardner Snow:

Gardner Snow donation

Albert himself did not get tickets to the first day of dedication events. He watched the assembled masses at the temple from his front porch and attended for himself on the 2nd day.

Crowds at the Manti Temple dedication

Crowds at the Manti Temple dedication

~ What Temples Meant to the Pioneers ~

The pioneer era temples – which include both Kirtland and Nauvoo, by the way – were built during seasons of duress. They were built despite the poverty of Church members. Each was a tremendous act of faith.

As such, the completion of each temple was a celebration of faith. Within the temples the Saints could worship in the most sacred ways.

Simply put, a temple dedication was a big deal.

When Saint George was completed in 1877 as the first temple in the West, nearly all of those living in Manti, including the Snow and the Smith families, traveled to participate.

For years prior to its completion the Saints in Sanpete sent money and materials to St. George to help with the temple. After the St. George Temple was completed the members of the Church there returned the favor to assist in building the Manti temple.

For these pioneer temple builders the Temples provided a place for their children to make covenants and to be “sealed” together.

Perhaps the first of the next generation of the family to take advantage of the new Manti Temple was Joseph Homer Snow, son of James C. Snow. On July 19, 1888, just a few months after the dedication of the Manti Temple, he was sealed to Mary Nielsen, who went to the temple for herself for the first time on that date that they were married.

Joseph and Mary Snow would go on to have ten children. Their fourth, a girl they named Muriel, was born in 1891. In 1913, Muriel Snow would go to the Manti Temple and marry William Reeves Riggs, Jr.

They had a large family too. Their 2nd child, a daughter named Maurine, went to the Manti Temple in 1940 – and there married Leon Westover.

Maurine was following in the steps of her sister, Milda. Who only months before, in June 1940, went to the Manti Temple and married Charles Gerald Quilter.

Of course, there were other marriages and other temples in different places. That is not the point.

The point is that generations after the pioneer era temples were built the children and grandchildren of those pioneers who built them took advantage of them, fulfilling prophecy, fulfilling dreams and bringing forth new generations “born under the covenant”.

Was this what Moroni, the last of his ancient people, was thinking if he was indeed seen in vision in Manti?

Who exactly was Moroni and what could be his connection to Manti?

For members of the Church, we know that Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith in 1823 to extend to him his calling. During that event, the Prophet Joseph recorded that Moroni quoted from the Biblical book of Malachi, stating, in part:

“…And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the father, and the hearts of the children shall turn to the fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be wasted at his coming…”

This, and other things given to Joseph Smith as Moroni taught him over the next several years, laid the foundation for modern temples as part of the “restoration of all things”.

Joseph Smith spoke of Moroni several times during his lifetime and offered information not contained within the Book of Mormon about him. Associates of the Prophet recorded such conversations and from those memories came this map outlining the travels of Moroni in North America:

Map of Moroni's Travels

Researchers now conclude that Moroni may have not only dedicated the land where the Manti temple now stands but that he could well have done similarly in St. George, Nauvoo, Independence, Kirtland and “others we know not of yet”.

This research was not conducted before the time of the pioneer era in Manti. It was not information that was widely shared or known.

Is it merely coincidental then that Warren Snow and other such as Betsy Bradley shared what they knew of Moroni in Manti?

That is speculation of a spiritual scope left for greater minds than my own.

All I can say, as one living in the 21st century, attending a temple and reflecting on my pioneer temple heritage, and as one now anticipating a new temple dedication in the years ahead where I live in my stake in Smithfield, Utah, is that I have no doubt of Moroni’s connection.

Smithfield Utah Temple

No, like Albert Smith, I lay no claim to visions.

I take on faith that the gift of such given to others is theirs.

The gift given to me to know is that God is in command and we know that best through work done in temples, where my heart is indeed knit with theirs and the covenants they made with God.

Electa Jane

Electa Jane Westover Emett

Last year when I traveled with Dad, LaRee and Will on our “cemetery crawl” in Southern Utah I insisted on trying to find the grave of Electa Jane Westover Emmet.

My interest in her was pretty simple. Years ago, I found this image of her taken from a group photo of St. George temple workers around the year 1910.

Electa Jane Westover Emett

The picture excited me because here was an individual who was a child of Edwin Ruthven Westover. In her face is reflected, I hoped, the countenance of her grandmother for whom she was named, Electa Beal Westover.

Before going I already knew a little about Electa Jane.

I knew she became a plural wife. I knew she never had children. And I knew the Temple was precious to her.

As we traveled through St. George, Washington City, Pinto, Hamblin, and Hebron we ran into other last names besides Westover: there were Canfields, Platts, Emetts, Knells and many others common to nearly every cemetery we visited.

We found this weathered headstone I the St. George City Cemetery:

Electa Jane Westover Emett grave

This lonely grave was not within close distance to any other family member. It stood in contrast to many other graves we had visited.

In discovering her obituary I have been haunted by the statement about Electa Jane: “She was a very kindly woman, patient, and bore her troubles silently.”

My question: Why?

The life of Electa Jane Westover Emmett is not very detailed on FamilySearch.

She was born in 1853 to Edwin and Sarah Jane Burwell Westover while the family lived in Union, present-day Cottonwood Heights. Electa Jane was named after her grandmother and her mother.

She was the 2nd oldest of Edwin and Sarah’s family together, but she was technically the 3rd child because Edwin crossed the plains with Edwin Jr, who was 8 years old when little Electa Jane was born.

At the age of just 17 in the year 1870 she married Moses Simpson Emett, becoming his plural wife.

From that point in her life forward we get little detail.

Census records show she stayed with her husband and his first wife for their rest of their days. When they died she moved to St. George and served for years in the temple.

She kept no known diary and did not record her own history. As a childless woman, there were no children to record her memory either.

So, what, exactly is her story? What were her “troubles” to be borne silently?

~ Family Culture and Circumstance for Young Electa Jane ~

Electa Jane was born when Edwin and Sarah Jane lived in the fort at Union, Utah, in present-day Cottonwood Heights.

According to the collected information of the timeline we have put together from the 1850s, this was a time of great Church activity for her parents.

Edwin and Sarah Jane appear on the rolls of Big Cottonwood Ward and they were closely aligned with everything the Church was experiencing in the Salt Lake Valley.

Extended family was close by. Grandmother Electa, Uncle Charles and Aunt Eliza and Aunts Hannah and Laura were involved with the family.

In 1857 those dynamics shifted with the introduction of plural marriage.

Edwin married Ann Findley and Charles married Mary Shumway. Over the course of the next several years there would be upheaval caused by the Utah War, causing the Westover family to move south for a period of time before returning to Union.

Around 1860 there was a move to Grantsville, where Electa Beal Westover’s sister, Aunt Hannah, lived. Children were added to the family and it was while there that first Charles was called to the Cotton Mission in St. George and a little later Edwin would follow with his families.

Electa Jane was one of the eldest children. By the time she reached age ten there were 8 children and three parents in the home.

They were by that time living in Hebron, some thirty miles north west of St. George – an isolated, harsh place where Edwin was charged with keeping livestock for the Church.

~ How Events in Hebron Affected the Westover Family ~

It did me a world of good to see these obscure places of family history in Pinto, Hamblin and Hebron. Each place, though close to each other, was unique.

It turns out the history of each place is unique, too.

Hebron, originally called Shoal Creek, was scouted by two brothers bearing the Pulsipher name (a name with some early Church history behind it). John and William Pulsipher were charged by Erastus Snow to find suitable grazing land for the Church’s flocks.

In 1862, after locating Shoal Creek, their father, Zera Pulsipher, joined his sons and their families there. In 1863 other families were called to help build a settlement and the Edwin Westover family joined them.

Over the course of the next several years the Pulsiphers led nearly every aspect of the settlement. The had the first pick of the land, they led church proceedings and they organized how the fort would be set up.

Edwin Westover first crossed the Pulsiphers by bordering on their range land. It is not recorded if this was purposely done but it irritated the Pulsiphers enough that they moved their operations a little further away.

Not long after this time Thomas Fuller, an Australian native who had come looking for work, died on the Westover ranch during a cold winter blizzard.

The event, noted in this post and in Edwin’s video, would drive a permanent wedge between Edwin and the Pulsiphers and it no doubt had an effect on the entirety of the Westover family.

Church events in Hebron had some troubling aspects to it. Attendance was low. This stands a bit in contrast to other settlements in Southern Utah. Historians point to the heavy handed leadership of the Pulsiphers as the reason why.

There were other areas of conflict in Hebron too. Water rights, for example, was also an issue in the arid west desert. The establishment of a school, which would seem a rather simple issue to resolve, proved difficult in Hebron and resulted in Erastus Snow asking for the resignation of the Pulsipher men from their lead positions. Snow had grown tired of complaints from the inhabitants of Hebron about the Pulsiphers.

~ Drastic Changes for Electa Jane ~

For Electa Jane especially, at the age of 16 in 1869, epic changes occurred.

Fed up with life in Hebron, Edwin moved his families to the nearby settlement of Hamblin, where they would spend the next several years.

Then Ann and her children suddenly left for Mendon. One history suggests that Ann could not handle the rough conditions in Southern Utah any longer. There is no record left to prove this assertion and plenty of evidence that suggests life would be no picnic for her in Mendon.

With her brother’s sudden passing, leaving a farm with five small children to care for, Ann’s sister-in-law needed help.

The record does show that Ann got to Mendon and immediately set to find work even though she was very pregnant.

But what would her absence mean for young Electa Jane? Ann was just 30 years old.

Another who left with Edwin’s oldest child, Edwin Lycurgus. He was 23.

For Electa Jane, it was time of witnessing all of her parents in crisis.

Her father had just endured a Church trial, based on the Fuller incident. He was humiliated, angry and now separated from local Church leadership.

For Sarah Jane, it was a heartbreaking period with the loss of a baby and the loss of help from Ann and her children.

Also gone at this time, even though she was living with Uncle Charles Westover and his family in nearby Pinto, was grandmother Electa Beal Westover.

She caught the new transcontinental railroad for a ride to California, where she would be found in the census of 1870 living with her son, Oscar and family.

Electa Jane was essentially on her own – and about to enter a whole new world with the Emett family.

The 1870 census shows Edwin and families living in Hamblin and Electa Jane is numbered among them. The Westovers moved right next door to the Moses Simpson Emett family and the James Holt family.

1870 Census in Hamblin

Both families would be associated with the Westovers from that point forward.

~ The Life of Moses Simpson Emmett ~

Moses Simpson Emett was a 2nd generation Mormon, believe it or not. He was commonly called Simpson and the spelling of the family name was somewhat fluid – Emett, Emmett, Emmet, etc.

He was the son of James Emett, an early convert of the LDS faith and one whose own history within the early church is both celebrated and criticized.

James Emett converted to the faith in 1831, some seven years after his son, Moses Simpson, was born.

He received a blessing, which is in the Church historian’s office, by the hands of Joseph Smith Sr. During the 1830s and into the mid-1840s the record shows James Emett as a friend to the Prophet Joseph and his family as residents of LDS communities in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois (Nauvoo).

James Emett was frequently mentioned in affairs at the highest level of the Church.

But his activity was also frequently associated with a stubborn independence.

He was disfellowshipped in 1837 for “unwise conduct”. He was for, a period of time, a bodyguard of the Prophet and was one of the individuals charged with retrieving the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum from Carthage.

James Emett would go on to be very heavily involved in the post-Joseph era of the Church, at one time allegedly leading an off-shoot branch of the church in Northern Iowa.

Some of his descendants are vehemently denying the rougher portions of James Emett’s history on Family Search, on Ancestry and in the archives of the Church. But, as uncomfortable as it must be for them, there is just no denying the sheer volume of evidence about the man.

James Emett wanted out of Nauvoo as quickly as possible following the death of the Prophet. Claiming to be commissioned by Joseph Smith, Emett led a group of saints west. This he did contrary to the counsel and wishes of Brigham Young.

In this leadership role he was accused of iron-fisted tactics, declaring ownership over guns and other property held by members of the group and claiming wives from members.

Brigham Young was famously patient with Emett, respecting his skills as an explorer and a mountain man.

B.H. Roberts, in speaking of James Emett’s restless desire to get away from Nauvoo, said “He was always a restless, impatient man, and ambitious of leadership which led him into great trouble.”

Regardless of James Emett’s reputation and actions in Nauvoo, his son Moses was 20 years old in 1844 and an adult in his own right. With Mormonism thoroughly a part of his family culture and upbringing, Moses appeared to be faithful.

On August 1, 1844, a little more than a month after the death of the Prophet, Moses married Catherine Dorcas Overton.

The first of their 8 children was born as they made their way west. Simpson, like his father before him, was a capable explorer, mountain man and pioneer. He made his living as a blacksmith.

A history written by one of his children states “I never knew anyone that did not think the best of him. He was a very reserved man.”

~ The Story of Catherine Dorcas Overton ~

Catherine Dorcas Overton was born to Dandridge Overton and Dorcas Wyman. She was the fifth of 13 children. Her father, Dandridge was a schoolteacher.

Catherine, along with her mother and sister Parthenia, joined the church in 1839. Their conversion divided the family. Catherine, Parthenia and Dorcas moved west to Nauvoo, while Dandridge and the rest of the family stayed in Indiana.

Catherine’s sister, Parthenia, married a man named James Holt, whose wife and two children died while traveling in the James Emett Company, heading west in 1852.

Together – the families of Moses and Catherine Emmett and James and Parthenia Holt – settled into pioneer life in Ogden, Utah. They were there for ten years, raising crops and having children.

By the end of 1862 both families were called to the Cotton Mission and moved to Hamblin. They would stay there for a number of years before moving to various places in Southern Utah, generally following the pioneering path of Jacob Hamblin.

For a while they were in Kanab before finally settling just south of the Utah border in Fredonia, Arizona, where they would spend the rest of their days.

~ The Culture of the Emett Family ~

How the decision was made for Electa Jane to become the plural wife of Moses Simpson Emett is not known. Who made the decision is just as big a mystery.

But marrying at 17 was not unheard of in those days.

In fact, Ann married Edwin as his plural wife when she was just 17, fresh off the handcart trail.

But both Simpson and his wife Catherine were the same age as Electa Jane’s parents.

Was it really a marriage or merely a transfer of one house to another?

Electa Jane was joining the family as a wife – to be known as Aunt Electa – yet three of the children there were all older than she.

Emily was 23, Eleanor was 21, and James – named after his headstrong grandfather – was 20.

All of these eldest children of Moses and Catherine distinguished themselves in later life.

Emily married the husband of her sister, Lavena, who died suddenly in 1875. She died after giving birth to her first child.

Two years later, Emily married Lavena’s husband, Joseph Eldridge, and became mother to her sister’s child.

Joseph Eldridge was a teacher in Pinto and a figure of cultural dominance in Southern Utah during his day, directing choirs and teaching art. His name consistently appears in Pinto Ward records. He was active and influential.

Eleanor married Henry William Bigler, a prolific journal writer during the Mormon Battalion and, along with Azariah Smith, a discoverer of gold at Sutter’s Mill in 1849. Eleanor married Bigler after the death of his first wife and would give him six children.

James would mirror the path of his parents, at least in terms of geography.

He moved from Hamblin to Kanab to Northern Arizona where he worked in the ferry business and dabbled in the cattle trade.

Like his father and grandfather before him James would be an outdoorsman. He was later made famous in an article by Zane Grey titled “The Man Who Influenced Me Most”.

Also included in the home were other children of Moses and Catherine who were younger. In 1870, Thomas was 15, Caroline was 13, Olive was 11 and Moses Mosiah was 8.

The name Thomas Carlos Emmett is one we have talked about before. Thomas was linked to the Canfields – another local family, one that Electa’s older sister Sarah Evaline married into (her husband was Moroni Canfield).

Thomas married Lucy Canfield, sister to the band of cowboys Canfield brothers.

Depending which history you choose to believe among the Emmett and Canfield descendants of the 20th century, Thomas Emmett was either a really busy man or a deadbeat husband and member of the Ben Tasker outlaw band.

Either way, like his grandfather James, Thomas was a tough character who walked in rough circles. He could handle himself in any kind of wilderness setting, he was an excellent horseman, and he was fiercely independent.

He married Lucy in 1874 but was listed in 1880 with his brother James in Kanab. By 1883 he was dead. The nature of his passing continues to be hotly debated to this day.

Sisters Caroline and Olive both married local men and went on to pioneering experiences of their own not far from the Emett family in Arizona.

Youngest child Moses Mosiah’s history reads like that of his older brothers: he stayed near his parents, moving from Hamblin to Kanab and then Northern Arizona.

Like his brothers he also had legendary skills as a horseman. He could do nearly anything with rope. He married and had a large family but was hesitant to leave his aging parents to seek his fortune.

His father, Simpson, in discussing the possibilities for him in the West, challenged his namesake son by saying “You haven’t the courage to leave.”

But leave he did for the wilds of Wyoming, moving several times as he tried to pioneer yet another western frontier in the very early 20th century. Farming was tough, so he augmented his income as a law man. Like his brothers Moses Mosiah was not a man to be trifled with.

Church activity for the Emett family is not well recorded. We find that in the Pinto Ward, which kept excellent records, for a brief time we can find the Emmets with the Westovers:

Pinto Ward Records

Life in Pinto, as in Hebron and Hamblin and surrounding areas, was rugged. Weather and grasshoppers seemed to dominate the news, as in this report from 1869:

Pinto Farms

News reports from the day are kind of sparse, but occasionally they would give a glimpse of daily life that never appear in recorded family histories:

Stabbing - 1876

The above gives us much to consider. It seems the extremes in behavior were as much an issue then as now. It seemed the more pious had influence and judgment over behaviors, such as in the Fuller case against Edwin. And yet it seemed as well the agency of individuals could influence things as well.

Found among the records of the church (1891) is a report from James G. Bleak to the St. George Stake president accounting for tobacco use in the settlements:

Tobacco Use

Based on these gleaned details, what can we assume about the world young Electa Jane Westover encountered as a member of the Emett family?

The record going forward from 1870 for Electa Jane is sparse. This is the census from 1880, still in Hamblin:

1880 Census

Here she is again, this time in Fredonia, Arizona in 1900:

1900 Census Fredonia

Note that at this point she is no longer listed as a wife, but rather as a housekeeper. This could have been due to the anti-polygamy laws at the time.

Why didn’t Electa Jane have children? Was there a medical problem? Was it a preference? And did the fact she was childless contribute to the statement that she “bore her troubles silently”?

We may never know the complete history of Electa Jane.

Clearly, Electa was a woman of deep faith.

One history claims “she had a blessing that told her than mansions would be prepared for her and they would be decorated with the workmanship of her own hands” and that children were “not meant for this life” and despite an offer to live with the Emmet family after the passing of Simpson and Catherine said she “wanted to live and die in the shadows of the temple”. (This is believed to be shared by Caroline Cornelia Emmett, a daughter of Simpson Emett who passed in 1936).

Electa Jane stayed true to those stated desires. She moved back to St. George where, in the 1910 census, she lived in the home of another widow by the name of Mary Elizabeth Goddard Whitehead.

Mary G. Whitehead

Like Electa Jane, this faithful pioneer woman worked in the temple in St. George. Electa stayed there until Sister Whitehead died of liver cancer May of 1910.

Electa Jane’s remaining years are only mentioned in a temple context. She became a fixure there, much as her grandmother, Electa Beal, did in the final years of her life. One history claims she worked in the temple until she was “feeble”.

Electa Jane died in 1925.

Electa Jane Obituary

Mormon Battalion

Celebrating the 175th Anniversary of the Mormon Battalion

This year we mark the 175th anniversary of the Mormon Battalion.

What was the Mormon Battalion and why is it important in our family history?

The Mormon Battalion was the only unit in American military history bearing a religious title and being comprised almost entirely of recruits from a single religion. It was formed on the frontier to serve in the war with Mexico in 1846.

The unit was unique in two ways:

1. It was not a state or territorial militia recruited by a governor, but a federal volunteer infantry battalion recruited by order of President James K. Polk.
2. It had no parent regiment but was an independent battalion assigned directly to the Army of the West. Official U.S. Army records simply referred to it as the “Mormon Battalion.”

As Brigham Young was organizing the move west he saw the service of the Battalion as both an aid to financing the church’s move to Utah and as a means of re-building relations with the US government, which had suffered at the hands of the extermination order of Church members in Missouri.

Brigham Young later said: “The Mormon Battalion will be held in honorable remembrance to the latest generation; and I will prophesy that the children of those who have been in the army, in defence [sic] of their country, will grow up and bless their fathers for what they did at that time. And men and nations will yet rise up and bless the men who went in that Battalion…As the Lord lives,…you will never be forgotten, worlds without end, but you will be had in honorable remembrance, for ever and ever.”

The course of our family history was affected by the service of three individuals:

Albert Smith Sr, who was a sargeant in Company B of the Battalion and his son, Azariah, who was just 17 and whose teenage journal is used by historians to this day to study the activities of the unit. Albert is grandfather to Mary Ann Smith Westover, wife of Arnold Westover.

Albert Smith Sr

In the Battalion as well was William Rowe, who was Ruth Rowe Westover’s father and father-in-law to William Westover, founder of the Westover Ranch.

William Rowe

Over the course of the next year we will share important dates, histories and connections that we have relative to the Mormon Battalion.

What happened to these men in the years before the formation of the Battalion is important and needs to be told.

What transpired over the course of their year of service and during the trek of the Battalion to San Diego, California would have an impact on the Westovers, Smiths and Rowes for generations. It almost plays out like a movie – a most telling and unusual tale.

How these men all got back to their families – all of which ended up in Utah – is yet another story that would impact the course of the family. We need to explore what happened during these formative year in Utah for both the family and the church.

These events will be shared in detail in the months ahead.