Story of Francis and Clarissa, early settlers of Parowan.


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Francis Whitney

Ohio to Utah

Whitney, Francis T 1803.jpg
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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 over thousands 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 1850 George 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 the company. 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 brother John 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, 56,992 lbs. 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, 190 lbs. nails, 55 stoves, 1 brass cannon, 129 buns, 52 pistols, 9 swords and 1001 rounds ammunition.

The Pioneer company left Salt Lake early in December 1850, and from the Historical journal I quote under 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 for possible settlements. They talked with the Indians, were gone 12 days, and traveled 336 miles. (This was the famous exploration of Long Valley).

May 1854. 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 Hall for some time.

p. 166-118. Early in the 1850s the people of Parowan 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 for a 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 of the 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 of the activities of Francis T. Whitney in the Salt Lake Valley in 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 families great changes took place while he was away from them. While in Ohio he failed to interest or convert any of his family to Mormonism.

Francis T. Whitney then left Ohio for the last time and returned to Utah and Parowan where he had been a pioneer and a founder of the settlement and an explorer and Indian fighter. He came back early in 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 a monument 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 all who read it and all who are descendants of Francis Tuft Whitney shall so live that they, too, shall "inherit everlasting life."

Mormon Batalion

Mormon Batalion

  Early in 1846 the hostilities with Mexico over the annexation of Texas and other differences, became such a conflict that the U. S. Government, under President Polk called upon the people of the country for 50,000 volunteers and the sum of ten million dollars for war purposes. Shortly before these events, and immediately prior to the beginning of the Mormon exodus from Illinois, an agent of the Latter-day Saints, acting under instructions from Brigham Young, who had succeeded Joseph Smith at the head of the Church, went to the City of Washington to solicit government aid for his peoples. No gift of money or other means was asked, only employment in freighting provisions and naval stores to Oregon or other points on the Pacific was asked. Pres. Polk received the agent of the Mormons kindly and promised to do what he could for the homeless people. Just at this juncture the news reached Washington that General Taylor had fought two battles with the Mexicans, and tidings determined the President upon taking immediate possession of California and using some of the migrating Mormons as part of the force necessary for that purpose.

  Thus, in answer to the call of the government the Mormons who had fled from the mobs in Illinois and Missouri were enrolled in infantry service. The detachment was called the Mormon Battalion. The enrollment was completed on the 16th of July 1846 from Mt. Pisgah and Council Bluffs, Iowa. Francis Tuft Whitney, then at the age of forty-one was one of the volunteers.

 Note: The following section of this history deals with the Mormon Battalion and important facts concerning its march. Information gleaned from B. H. Roberts, Tyler, Orson F. Whitney and other Utah writers and historians on the subject.

  Sacrifice of the Church: "The young and those who could best have been spared, were then away from the main body, either with pioneer companies in the van, or seeking food and work in the northwest settlements. The force was then to be recruited from among the fathers of families. Five hundred wagons were left without teamsters and as many families without their natural providers and protectors. Moreover the Mormon people, from their then point of view, had little to be thankful for to the government of the United States."

  Advantages: The Mormons appreciated the advantage of people entering the service of the U. S. This gave them opportunity to prove their loyalty to the U. S. and allay prejudices of the people. Through this enrollment they obtained right to settle and secure Indian lands. From a financial standpoint the Battalion was a big help. The obtained $42 per man or $21.000 for the Battalion for clothing plus pay while in the ranks, i.e., $50 a month for a Captain, and $7 for a private. They were also given all equipment used.

  Line of March: These brave company of 500 marched from Nauvoo, Illinois through Ft. Leavenworth, Council Grove, across the Arkansas river, through Santa Fe (Oct. 9-12, 1846), to the San Luis valley (Jan, 26, 1847) and to the San Diego Mission (Jan. 29, 1847). Upon their arrival at the Rio Grande river fifty-five men were declared physically unable to continue the march, were detached and sent back to Pueblo (Colorado) on November and arrived there Dec. 24, 1646 in a most pitiable condition. The total number to winter at Pueblo was 150. Later, the Pueblo detachment arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 29, 1847. Francis Tuft Whitney was with the Pueblo Detachment.

  Hardships and Excessive Toil: The roads were extremely sandy in many places, and the men while carrying blankets, knapsacks, cartridge boxes and muskets on their backs, and living on short ration, had to pull long ropes to aid the teams. The deep sand alone, without any load was enough to wear out both man and beasts in the trackless part of the Battalion march through the sand stretches, in addition to pulling at the wagons, companies marched in double-single file, in each other's footsteps to make tracks for the wagon wheels. The only fighting the Battalion engaged in on its expedition was a fight with the Bulls on the San Pedro river, Dec. 9, 1846.

  Destitution and Suffering: While crossing southern California the Battalion found the heaviest sand, hottest days and coldest nights thus far with no water and but little food. The men were nearly barefooted; some used, instead of shoes, rawhide wrapped around the feet to shield them from the burning sand during the day and the cold at night. They hewed openings in rocks for the wagons, men and animals to pass. They arrived in the San Luis valley and river Jan. 26, 1847, and there sighted the long looked for Pacific ocean. The joy, the cheer that filled their souls, none but worn out pilgrims nearing a heaven of rest can imagine. They arrived at the San Diego Mission Jan. 29, 1847. The march of the Mormon Battalion was completed. Colonel Cooke's bulletin on the Battalion march told of the achievements and faithfulness of the Battalion and its service to the country. It is copied as follows:


Headquarters Mormon Battalion,

Mission of San Diego,

January 30, 1847

The Lieutenant-Colonel commanding, congratulates the Battalion on their safe arrival on the shore of the Pacific Ocean, and the conclusion of their march of over two thousand miles.

History maybe searched in vain for an equal march of infantry. Half of it has been through a wilderness, where nothing but savages and wild beasts are found, or deserts where for want of water, there is no living creature. There, with almost hopeless labor, we have dug deep wells which the future traveler will enjoy. Without a guide who had traversed them we have ventured into trackless tablelands where water was not found for several marches. With crowbar and pick, and axe in hand, we worked our way over mountains, which seemed to defy aught save the wild goat; and hewed a pass through a chasm of living rock more narrow than our wagons. To bring these first wagons to the Pacific, we have preserved the strength of our mules by herding them over large tracts, which you have laboriously guarded without loss. The garrison of four presidios of Sonora concentrated within the walls of Tucson, gave us no pause. We drove them out, with their artillery, but our intercourse with the citizens was unmarred by a single act of injustice. Thus, marching half naked and half fed, and living upon wild animals, We have discovered and made a road of great value to our country,

Arrived at the first settlements of California, after a single day's rest, you cheerfully turned off from the route to this point of promised repose, to enter upon a campaign, and meet, as we supposed the approach of an enemy; and this, too, without even salt to season your sole subsistence of fresh meat.

Lieutenants A. J. Smith and Geo. Stoneman, of the First Dragoon, have shared and given invaluable aid in all these labors.

Thus volunteers, you have exhibited some high and essential qualities of veterans. Soon, you will turn your attention to the drill, to system and order, to forms also, which are all necessary to the soldier.

By order

Lieut.-Colonel Phillip St, George Cooke

Francis Tuft Whitney was a private in Company B under Capt. Jesse D. Hunter. There were ninety men in Company B. On Feb. 15, 1847 Company B was detached from the Battalion and directed (March 15, 1847) to March to the port of San Diego to perform garrison duty at that place, The other companies (A C D E ) went to Los Angeles. While performing garrison duty at San Diego many members obtained permission to accept employment of the inhabitants of the town such as making adobes, digging wells, building houses, and making bricks. The first bricks in California were made and burned by members of the Mormon Battalion. They made an enviable reputation for industry and frugality, General Kearney said, "Bonaparte crossed the Alps, but these men have crossed a continent."

Some of the achievements of the Battalion are: Opened highways, conquered North Mexico which is now New Mexico, western Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California; discovered gold in California at Sutter's Mill on Jan. 24, 1848; and were the first to adopt irrigation farming by an Anglo-Saxon people on this continents

The men hold religious services every Sunday. They organized a society called the Young Men's Club for purposes of lecturing, reciting, declaiming, and debating.

On May 4, 1847 Company B received six month's pay, the most of which was expended by each individual in purchasing animals, clothing, etc., as an out fit for the journey to the Great Salt Lake Valley. Wild horses were broken to ride at a cost of $6 to $12. Company B left San Diego for Los Angeles July 9, 1847 and arrived there July 15, 1847. All companies were mustered out of service July 16, 1847 after one year of service. Then the majority of the mean left California for Salt Lake, and arrived there on October 16, 1847. However Francis T. Whitney was not with this group. Earlier with one of the sick detachments he had wintered at Pueblo, Colorado, left there to meet the main body of the Pioneers on the Mormon Trail and he was one of the Battalion to arrive in Salt Lake City on July 29, 1847.

B. H. Roberts says: "World's record for a march of Infantry. Since the Battalion march has not be equaled by any march of infantry in the Worlds' Great War, nor in ancient times, it is not likely now, owing to the new transportation of troops that have developed that the Mormon Battalion march across more than half the North American continent will ever be equaled. It will stand as the world's record for a march of infantry - 2,000 miles."

The Monument to the Mormon Battalion on the Utah State Capitol grounds, depicting so admirably the spirit of the members, bears the name of Francis Tuft Whitney, private, Company B under Capt. Jesse D. Hunter.

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