Whitney, Francis Tuft

Whitney, Francis Tuft

Story of Francis and Clarissa, early settlers of Parowan.

Stories about Whitney, Francis Tuft

Francis Whitney

  • Ohio to Utah

by Ilene H. Kingsbury

A sketch of the life of Francis Tuft Whitney as compiled by his great-granddaughter Ilene Hanks Kingsbury with the aid of his son New Samuel Whitney and several of his grandchildren, including Mabel Whitney Hanks, Jane Whitney Adams and Samuel James Whitney.

Francis Tuft Whitney, son of Joseph Whitney and Rebecca Stinchfield Whitney was born March 24**,**1805 in Massachusetts. His grandparents lived in New Meadow, Brunswick and Lisbon, Maine. His parents settled in Phillips, Maine. In 1816 they, with their eleven children moved to 0hio, where they were among the earliest settlers of Shelby County. Francis was eleven years of age when they left New England, where the family had been for five generations, having come to the New World in June 1635. After going to Ohio his parents had three more children; Samuel, Rebecca and Joseph G. Whitney.

Francis was a descendant of some of the earliest colonists in the New World. His grandfather Benjamin served in the Revolutionary War. His earliest American ancestor, John and wife Elinor Whitney, came to this country in 1635 just 15 years after the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock on the ship Mayflower. During his lifetime Francis was destined to make his home and help build settlements on the frontiers from Massachusetts, Maine, Ohio,California, Colorado, and Utah.

Little is known of his youth after arriving in Spears Landing, Shelby County, Ohio, but it is supposed the lives of the people from 1816 to 1850 were similar to all mid-western settlers when Chicago had a population of less than 5,000 people and was called "far out west". On Feb. 17, 1827, at the age of twenty-two years Francis married Abagail Blanchard. She was born June 11, 1808, To this union were born ten children: Alvah, Christina, Rizpah, Araminta, Ernestine, Stephen, Oscar, Francis M., Abagail, and Sarah P. Whitney.

You will note that Francis was born in the same year as the Prophet Joseph Smith. When the gospel was preached in Ohio between 1832 and 1846 Francis heard it and joined the church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or commonly called Mormon Church. His wife,his sons and daughters, and his friends all protested, but to no avail. And it was with deep sorrow that he left them all and joined the hated Mormons in Nauvoo, Illinois and later went to Council Bluffs, Iowa. On the occasion of his departure from his home and family he wrote a poem, an acrostic telling of his grief and sorrow. He was somewhat of a poet and was called upon to write on all appropriate occasions. (See his poems on the following pages.)

So great was the hatred of those he left behind that he was warned never to return. Attached here to is a letter he received from his brother-in-law which mirrors these feelings. Francis Tuft Whitney left his family and home on the morning of July 18, 1845.

This momentous decision and day was to lead Francis Tuft Whitney overthousands of miles of then unknown territory and to link him with one of the world's longest military marches and colonization programs ever to be written.

During the years 1847 and into 1850 Francis T. Whitney lived in Salt Lake City earning a living at his trade of blacksmithing. Later he taught this to his four sons and they in turn taught it to their sons. Sometime between the years 1848 and 1850 he met and wed Clarissa Alger, daughter of Samuel and Clarissa Hancock Alger. She was born June 2, 1830 in the East. At the time of their marriage she was twenty-five years his junior. This couple are known as original pioneers of Utah, having arrived before the advent of the railroad, which was May 10, 1869. Francis arrived July 29, 1847 and Clarissa arrived Sept. 22, 1848.

In December 1850George A. Smith led about 30 families from the Salt Lake Valley to southern Utah for the purpose of establishing a settlement. Francis T. Whitney and his bride of a year were in thecompany. The place they journeyed to was called Center Creek, and later became known as Parowan an Indian name Pah-O-wan meaning yellow water, evil water, or Little Salt Lake. Parowan was begun as a farming district to provide for those who might be employed in the Cedar Iron Works, then in prospect. A fort was built, land enclosed, canals constructed, and harvests sown. The company of Pioneers arrived At the proposed site of the now settlement Jan- 13, 1851 after many weeks of travel in ox-drawn wagons over traceless wastes in the dead of winter.

Note: The following is quoted from page 171 of the History of Parowan, Iron County, as compiled by Andrew Jenson, Assistant Church Historian,

"May 3, 1892 -- Elder Andrew Jenson visited Parowan in the interest of Church History and met the following brothers and sister for the purpose of obtaining Historical information: Richard Benson, Z. B. Decker, Wm. C. Mitchell, John H. Henderson, Sister Clarissa A. Whitney, Bishop Charles Adams, Wm., C. McGregor, and Morgan Richards Jr."

These men and Clarissa Whitney were some of the oldest residents of Parowan and with their help Historian Jenson wrote the Day-by-day account of the founding of Parowan together with other events of interest. From this book I now quote any information regarding the Whitney family found therein.

"Listed among the 100 males, 30 women over 14 years and 18 children under 14 years of age  who left Salt Lake City to found Parowan we read the names of Francis T. Whitney, Clarissa Alger Whitney, and her brotherJohn A. Alger and her father Samuel Alger. Also listed as part and contents of the wagon train are the following: 101 wagons, 2 carriages, 100 horses, 12 mules, 364 oxen, 166 cattle, 14 dogs, 18 cats, 121 chickens, 57 plows, 137 axes, 110 spades and shovels, 80 hoes, 72 scythes and cradles, 436 panes of glass, 44 saddles, 56,992lbs. flour, 35,370 lbs. barley, 3,240 lbs. potatoes, 1,228 lbs. groceries, 9 sets carpenters tools, 2 ¼ sets blacksmith’s tools, 1 set sawmill irons, 3 whip saws,190lbs. nails, 55stoves, 1 brass cannon, 129 buns, 52 pistols, 9 swords and 1001 rounds ammunition.

The Pioneer company left Salt Lake early in December 1850, and fromthe Historical journal I quoteunder date of December 25, 1850, Christmas day. "The camp crossed the Sevier River; they found the banks slippery and bad, considerable, ice on the edges of the river. Having reached the other side they traveled about one mile and camped. The thermometer fell to sixteen degrees below zero."

P- 37. Saturday, March 1, 1851 -- New Samuel Whitney a son of Francis and Clarissa Whitney, was born in the camp, he being the first white child born in Iron County."

Thus is recorded that on March 1, 1851, six weeks after arriving at their destination, Clarissa Alger Whitney gave birth to her first child, a son**,** whom they christened New Samuel Whitney. He was called "New" all his life because of the fact that he was the first white child born in Iron, County. I have often heard him say that his place of birth was in a wagonbox, covered with ice and snow. No cabins had been built, and no accommodations or comforts were available to the little Pioneer Mother. This same wagon box was soon hewn into a coffin for a woman who died very shortly afterward and it became her last resting place. Thus, life and death walked hand in hand with adventure.

Francis and Clarissa became active in the life of Parowan in religious and civic duties. For several years he was Supt. of the Sunday Schools. Francis' poetical ability was used on all occasions. Under date of July 24, 1851, Thursday (Pioneer Day) we learn that a celebration was given in memory of the Pioneers with a procession, program, etc. and a comic song given by F.T. Whitney. Toasts were called for and we read the following written by Francis:

"True Patriotism with Saints forever dwell

While robbers and their ocracy will sink to hell;

Freedom Fluid Liberty will be our chief delight,

to bondage, dark despair and night."

p. 52

June 12, 1852. Francis T. Whitney visited the Upper Sevier valley with John Steele, John C. L. Smith, John D. Lee, John Dar, Solomon Chamberlain, Priddy Meeks, to explore the region forpossible settlements. They talked with the Indians, were gone 12 days, and traveled 336 miles. (This was the famous exploration of Long Valley).

May1854. census of city of Parowan

325 - Francis T. Whitney - High Priest - age 49 - one house

326 - Clarissa Whitney 24

327 - New Samuel Whitney 3

328 - Eli Alger Whitney 1 ½

329 - Abi Clarissa Whitney ½ p. 105

This couple became the parents of five children. Four of these grew to honorable manhood, each of whom was a credit to their Puritan - Pioneer ancestry. Their third child, a daughter named Abi Clarissa, died at the age of three months. (Note, she was named for her mother and for the first wife of Francis). The names of the four sons are New Samuel, Mar. 1, 1851; Ira Blanchard, Dec. 6, 1856); Job Hall, April 20, 1855; and Eli Alger, Nov. 22, 1852.

p**.** 122 Parowan History.

Monday, May 14, 1855 Mr. F. T. Whitney of Parowan, is manufacturing a very good article of nails; the cutting machine was got up under the supervision of the Hon. C. C. Pendleton, and the header was constructed by Mr. Whitney, who is an ingeneous mechanic. The work is principally done by Piede workmen, under his supervision (See a model of this nail making machine in the Pioneer Memorial Hall in St. George, Utah).

p. 128. Tues. Dec. 30, 1855. Francis T. Whitney raised on a garden spot measuring 122 x 82 ½ ft. the following: 1200 lbs. fodder, 2000 lb. squash, 1600 lbs. pumpkins, 500 lbs. melons, 150 lbs. sweet corn, 44 lbs. beans and peas, 5 rows of potatoes, and 2 rows of broom corn.

P- 130, 1856. Mr. F_._ T. Whitney has suspended operations upon his furnace until seeding time is over. There is an abundance of excellent iron ore near the furnace, and good indications of coal. During the winter he has cast some very handsome brass door handles, latches, and other small articles.

P. 168. New Samuel Whitney, (the first child born in Parowan) was set apart for a mission to the southern States Sept. 3, 1883;he returned Oct. 3, 1865.

p. 188. Geo. Taylor, Alex Orton, New S. Whitney and Company have erected a fine brick opera house, 60 x 40 ft. in the clear, with a stage 30 x 50 ft. in the clear. The building is not entirely finished, but so far completed that performances have been given within its Hallfor some time.

p. 166-118. Early in the 1850s the people ofParowan thought it well to give the Pay-eed Indians a feast, hoping then to make them more truly our friends. Kanarra, their chief**,** together with his people were invited. The outcome was good and proved the wisdom of President Young's maxim that "it is better and cheaper to feed the Indians than to fight them". From that time they stole but few cattle, and many learned to work; one becoming a useful hand in the blacksmith shop of Francis T. Whitney, and others becoming good workmen in the fields and canyons and as herdsmen of our stock.

NOTE: The Indian spoken above who worked in the blacksmith shop of Francis T. Whitney had been raised in the home of the Whitneys from the age of about seven years. The Pay-eed Indians had traded the boy and an Indian blanket to Brother Whitney fora horse. The boy was treated as a member of the family and taught the smithy trade. Brother Whitney made Joe Indian, for that was what they called him, a dirk or dagger of which he grew very fond. One day the four Whitney boys and Joe Indian were playing together when the Indian became angry from being teased by the boys. He quickly drew his dirk on one of them, wounding him rather seriously. In fright they ran to their father. Francis reprimanded Joe Indian, took the dirk from him and broke it to bits with a blacksmith hammer. This beloved weapon, now broken, symbolized happiness to Joe, and now that it was gone he no longer wished to live with the white men. He stole away in the middle ofthe night and never was heard of thereafter. Inquiry as to where he had gone or with what Indian tribe always met with failure. This incident always saddened the Whitneys, for they had looked upon Joe Indian as a friend and brother. Perhaps those of this generation could draw a serious conclusion on the evils of teasing.

Francis T. Whitney served in the Black Hawk War of 1665-66. One of his duties was to blow his horn as a warning of the coming, of the Indians. Years later, his widow received a pension for his services in the war. Hannah Daphne Smith Dalton in her autobiography "Pretty is as Pretty Does", said; "In 1865 the Black Hawk War started. During the year, six military expeditions were engaged in. In 1866 the Indians were very hostile and had to be kept out of the community boundaries. Guards were kept constantly watching the horses and cattle to keep the Indians from driving them away. I remember Brother Whitney blowing his big horn one night. That was the call for all important occasions. Every man, woman and child was up and dressed and the guards brought word that the Indians were driving all the horses and cattle off. Immediately a company was organized to go and get their horses and stock back. Oh! the horrors of that night. Parting, weeping, praying....... The Indians were so badly surprised that they made their escape as fast as possible. The Lord had heard our prayers and what a time of thanksgiving this was!"

During this period of his life Francis often thought Of his former life in Ohio and yearned for his wife and sons and daughters who remained in that state. He tried to establish contact with theme but was always brutally repulsed.

He was somewhat of an inventor, and at one time he and Mr. Billy Ashton made a machine which they hoped would result in perpetual motion. So sure were they of success that they brought their invention to Great Salt Lake City to Brigham Young for his inspection. According to reports of this visit President Young pointed to a large wash tub near them and said, "As well get in that tub and try to lift yourself and it from the floor by the handles as to find success in inventing perpetual motion." This conversation somewhat discouraged the enthusiastic inventors, but they bent their efforts along other lines.

Since writing ofthe activities of Francis T. Whitney in the Salt Lake Valleyin the year 1847 I have discovered in my research on the Mormon Battalion that his name appears with Battalion members who left the Salt Lake Valley on Aug. 16, 1847 to return to Council Bluffs to gather their families to the Rocky Mountains. (Whitney's History of Utah, vol. 1**,** page 353). We may assume that he traveled from Council Bluffs to Ohio to again contact his wife and family. This journey was unsuccessful and he returned to "Zion" to make his home for the next twenty years.

In 1868 or 1869 the urge to again see his first family became so strong that he returned to Ohio with the purpose in mind to again try to convert them to Mormonism. For fourteen years he remained in Ohio. Year after year passed without his returning to his family in Parowan, Utah. His boys in Utah grew from boyhood to manhood, married and became fathers before he finally returned early in 1883. While he was in Ohio, his first wife, Abagail, died on Dec. 9, 1878 at the age of seventy. He stayed on another five years. During his Ohio stay his last child, Sarah, died age 24 years. One of his sons in Ohio married while Francis was there. During his twenty years in the West seven of his Ohio family had married and had homes of their own. Thus in both of his familiesgreat changes took place while he was away from them. While in Ohio he failed to interest or convert any of his family to Mormonism.

FrancisT. Whitney then left Ohio forthe last time and returned to Utah andParowan where hehad been apioneer and a founderof the settlement and an explorer andIndian fighter. He came back earlyin 1883 at the age of seventy-eight years. After a short stay with his wife Clarissa he traveled to Huntington, Emery County, Utah to see his sons Job and Ira who had been "called" to settle that country with others from Iron County. (These two sons subsequently answered another "mission call" to settle in Colorado at Sanford in the San Louis Valley where they and their families spent the rest of their lives).

Very shortly after arriving in Huntington, Utah Francis T. Whitney became ill and died there on April 6, 1883, age 78 years, and was buried there by his sons Job and Ira,two days later. His first born, New Samuel, purchased and erected amonument to Francis T. in the Huntington cemetery. However, in 1952 when members of the family journeyed there to see his grave, the stone was no longer in place and could not be found. On August 5, 1954 the remaining five children of New Samuel Whitney gathered funds and had another suitable marker placed over the last resting place of their Mormon Battalion and Pioneer grandfather. These thoughtful people are: Eva Whitney Richards Bennett, Minnie Whitney Lowder, Mabel Whitney Hanks, Samuel James Whitney, and Bertha Whitney Mitchell.

Francis Tuft Whitney lived ever valiant in the faith of the Church of Jesus of Latter Day Saints. He lived a life of sacrifice and hardship and separation from his families; a man who indeed helped to build the West and the cause of "Zion". It is my firm conviction that he is fully justified his actions, first when we read the Prophet Jeremiah 3:14 who said over 2600 years ago "...and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion." And secondly from Matthew 19:29 we have the positive statement about those who give their all for His name's sake: "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or children, or sisters, or father, or mother or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."

It is with the last thought in mind that I have prepared this history of my Whitney ancestors; hoping that allwho read it and all who are descendants of Francis Tuft Whitney shall so live that they, too, shall "inherit everlasting life."

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