1849-1905 — Springdale UT
History of Alpheus Gifford
By a daughter, Elsie Gifford McGee
My father, Alpheus Gifford, was the first child born to Samuel Kendall and Lora Ann DeMill Gifford. This event took place on July 26, 1849, at Mt. Pisgah Iowa.
His father was the son of Alpheus and Anna Nash Gifford, and his mother the daughter of Freeborn and Anna Knight DeMill.
His grandfather, Alpheus, was a very religious man. He was a Methodist Preacher, but he and his wife Anna, like many other searchers were restless and unable to settle down anywhere until they found what appealed to them as the true gospel of Jesus Christ. So when he ehard of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, who had laid the foundation of a new church, he was prompted to go to Palmyra, where the church was organized, and there he learned the truth and was baptized and ordained a priest. This was in 1830, soon after the church was organized.
When he returned home, he took five Books of Mormon and was full of joy and thanksgiving. He preached the gospel until the church was moved from New York to Ohio. He filled several missions. He was one of the first Mormon Elders whom Brigham Young met, and was the first one in the church to talk in tongues. He died in 1841.
The Gifford family moved from place to place with the Saints, and after being driven from Nauvoo, they finally sought refuge in Mt. Pisgah, Iowa. It was here that Samuel Kendall and Lora Ann were married on Oct 1, 1848, and their first son was born and named for his grandfather. They remained there until 1850, when they, along with other Saints, made preparation to move west. They arrived in Salt Lake Valley on Sept 11, 1850, then in November they were sent by President Brigham Young to Manti, Sanpete County, Utah, to help settle that part of the state. Here they met with many hardships, and had trouble with the Indians on many occasions. One child at three years of age was stolen by some Indians as he attempted to follow his mother to a neighbor’s house. They kept him for three weeks. The parents were frantic with grief. The Indians wanted to kill him for revenge on the white people. The Chief found out whose child he was and, being a friend of Grandfather Gifford, decide to give him back, if the Giffors would give their best horse for his return- -which Grandfather gladly did. So the child was returned safely to them.
They lived in Manti until 1863, then they moved to Shonesburg. The other members of the family at this time were Cornelia, Cyrus, Oliver DeMill, Samuel Kendall, who died at age 10, Freeborn DeMill and Lora Ann. After moving to Shonesburg, two other children were born, Adelia Mariah and Moses Elias. Then in the following year, on June 2, 1870, the mother passed away, leaving great sorrow in the home. Shortly after this, the family moved to Springdale, Utah, another newly settled community. Here Samuel with his sons, went into business making chairs. He also planted the first fruit orchard in Springdale.
When Alpheus was a young man, he met and courted Sarah Elizabeth Hansen, a young girl from Rockville, who was the daughter of Nelson and Marilla Terry Hansen. At the same time Alpheus’ brother, Oliver, was keeping company with Alice Allred and they were planning to get married. So it was
decided to make it a double wedding. This took place on Sept 11, 1873 at Rockville Utah.
On March 15, 1877, two months after the completion of the St. George Temple, they got their endowment. At the time of their marriage Alpheus was 24 and Sarah was 17. It is interesting to know that they were born in the same town, but never knew each other until their parents moved to Southern Utah.
Alpheus took his young bride to Springdale and made a home for her. They raised a large family of 13 children, the first was born dead, then in their order came Riley Kendall, Bertha, Samuel (who died at birth). Ingri (who died at age six), Hannah Jane, then twin boys Oliver and Orson (who died at birth), Harriet, Nathan Alpheus, Irene, Cyrus and Elsie.
Until about 1884, they lived in a two-room log house, then Alpheus built a new one. It was the largest house in town.
Although Alpheus had left school at the age of 9 years, he was one of the first to teach school in Springdale. His salary was small and his schoolhouse not modern, but he kept a school that demanded the interest and attention of his pupils. Then in later years he served as one of the trustees on the school board.
He was a good musician. He played his picalo for the band at celebration time and his brothers, Oliver and freeborn, played the drums. He was chorister for the Sunday School and played the violin for many neighborhood dances. Speaking of dances, it was no uncommon thing for them to come home at night, after being away all day, to find the bedding and household furniture piled outside the door, the house having been cleared for a dance, which would last until the early hours of the morning.
When at home in the evenings, he would sit on the front porch and strike up the music on the banjo. It wasn’t long before a large crowd of neighbors would gather to listen to his music. One particular tune he liked to play was the Spanish Fandenjo.
Their home was also used to hold Sunday School and meetings until a church house could be built.
His father assisted as much as he could in the building of the St. George Temple, also the Manti and Salt Lake Temples. He attended the conference in Salt Lake City at the time of the dedication of the Temple on the 6th of April, 1893. He had attended the laying of the corner stone of that Temple on the 6th of April 1853, just 40 years previous to the dedication. He did a great deal of Temple work for the dead until he became totally blind in the fall of 1893.
The first Temple work he did was in 1861, when he stood for his father in having him and his mother sealed. This was done in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah. The sealing was done by Pres. Brigham Young.
On September 6, 1902, he was ordained a Patriarch by Apostle Mathisas F. Cowley. By 1904 he had given blessings to more than 300 persons, including all his posterity.
After grandfather became blind, my father took up the work of chair making in the old chair shop. One of the older girls assisted him in putting rawhide on the chair bottoms. The hides were soaked in lime water, then the hair would be scraped off. After this the hide would be stretched and tacked to the bare floor and the cutting would be made from the center. The scraps were
boiled into glue which was used in putting the chairs together. In those days a fine clay was dug from the hills west of Rockville, out of which putty was made to be used in the chair making.
The finished article freshly painted and puttied was stood out of doors to dry. Many an old traveler will remember them gleaming brightly in the sunlight. One of the most cherished relics I have is a small rolling pin made by my father on the foot-powered lathe and it is still being used after more than fifty years.
Carding, spinning and knitting was done by the women folk. Every morning before daylight, we were awakened by the hum of the spinning wheel. They made the yarn and knitted all the stockngs for the entire family.
My father and mother worked very hard to support this large family. They raised peaches and apples which they would dry and take to Salt Lake and to other palces to exchange for their winter clothing and other necessities of life.
In 1889 they decide to move to Taylor, Arizona, thinking they could better their condition. My mother’s sister Hannah Jennings and family, had moved there was was urging them to come. So they sold their home and left, but when they got as far as Lees Ferry, on the Colorado, the Indians drove them back. They got back to Kanab and stayed there for awhile and tried to make a go of it, but their 14 year old sone, Riley, took violently ill and passed away. The family was very grieved at this turn of events, and they had a desire to see their relatives and friends in Springdale. So they moved back and repossessed their old home. There they stayed and raised their family.
When his father became old and alone, he spent much of his time with them. He was very religious and spent his time reading and even memorizing entire sections from the Doc. & Cov. He abused his eyes so much, that he became entirely blind. While pursuing these modern revelations, he was convinced that a man must have more than one wife to assure his salvation in the Highest degree of Glory. So urgent was he, that Alpheus took another wife, Ursula Ett Winder, on April 22, 1886. To them was born 6 children. The first Lovina, then Ruth, Henry, and Sarilla, ---
When Alpheus was still quite young, only 56, he took ill with pneumonia and passed away on November 20, 1905.