HIGHLIGHTS IN THE LIFE
Research and compiling by: LaReah H. Toronto (Second Great
As early as the summer of 1830 the Mormon missionaries were proselyting among the Indian tribes in Jackson County, Mssouri. Joseph Smith had opened that mission and early in 1831 the Saints from Colesville, New York were beginning to arrive in and around what is now the city of Independence, Jackson County, Missouri.
The Prophet arrived to meet with the members of the Lamanite Mission and the Saints of Colesville Branch. The Prophet stated, "It was a glorious one, and moistened with many tears. It seemed good and pleasant for brethren to meet together in unity."
The Colesville Saints had been led to Kirtland, Ohio by Newell Knight, with a promise of land at Thompson, Ohio, sixteen miles north of Kirtland, but were disappointed when their contract with Lemon Copley, a dissenting Mormon, was not honored. There was about sixty members of this group and they resolved to remove , in a body under the leadership of Newell Knight, to the land of promise, western Missouri. They settled about twelve miles west of Independence on the edge of an extensive prairie in Kaw Township, now part of Kansas City, arriving there the latter part of June 1831. Joseph Smith arrived in Missouri to meet with the Saints about the middle of July.
The questions uppermost in every mind on arriving in western Missouri were: "Where is the place of our inheritance? Where is the city of Zion to be built? Where shall the temple stand?" The Saints were not long left in doubt as to these questions. A few days after the arrival of the Prophet, he received a revelation in which it was announced that Missouri was the land which the Lord had consecrated for the gathering of the Saints, and the place which is now called Independence is the center place, and the spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.
It was not the intent of the Prophet or the Saints to obtain the land in any way other than by legal purchase. Sidney Gilbert was appointed as an agent of the Church to purchase land for the Saints. Bishop Partridge was appointed to divide unto the Saints their inheritance.
The first Sunday after the arrival of the elders of the mission at Independence, a public meeting was held over the western boundary of Missouri and Elder Phelps delivered an address upon the New Dispensation of the Gospel. Such a congregation was present as could only be possible in an American frontier district - Indians, Negroes (then slaves), and all classes and conditions of people from the surrounding counties, of all religious denominations. At the conclusion of the services two persons were baptized.
On 2 August 1831, in the Coleville Branch of the Church, Kaw Township, the Saints in Jackson County laid the foundation of the first house. It was to be a log structure. The first log was carried by twelve men, of whom the Prophet was one, in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel. Sidney Rigdon consecrated by prayer the land to the gathering of the Saints. The following day, 3 August 1831, the Prophet dedicated the temple site in Independence.
The purpose of the mission was completed and those who were not appointed to remain in the land began making preparations for returning to Kirtland.
There were no ulterior motives in the gathering of the Saints to western Missouri.
Peace, good order, respect for the rights of others, and obedience to the laws of the land
was enjoined. There was to be no usurpation of the functions of the State by reason of the
revelations being received through the Prophet -- these were "laws of the
Church" not laws of the State, and they were not designated to annul the laws of the
State or Nation.
It was a new world into which the New England and eastern people had come when they reached western Missouri. It was to them like some limitless paradise, the immense alternating stretches of open, rolling prairie and densely wooded watercourses, as compared with the closed-in, heavily wooded hill country from which they had come. It would not be difficult to regard western Missouri in 1831 as a promised land fit to be the inheritance of the Saints of Zion.
Independence, designated as the center place of Zion, is located among the rolling hills of alternating prairie and woodland in the northern part of Jackson County about three or four miles south of the Missouri River. It is situated midway between two small rivers which flow northward into the missouri; the stream on the west is called Big Blue (where three of Alpheus and Anna Nash Gifford's children were baptized) and the one on the east, Little Blue. Independence in 1831, though the county Seat of Jackson County, was but a small frontier town. It had a courthouse built of brick, two or three merchant stores and fifteen or twenty dwelling houses, mostly built of logs hewed on both sides. The climate was delightful at least three-fourths of the year. The soil in western Missouri was for the most part rich black loam, and in places intermingled with sand and clay. Both climate and soil were favorable to the production of most fruits and vegetables.
The Elders returning to Kirtland from Jackson County went by water and they were warned by the Lord of the troubles of traveling by water and were advised that all Saints traveling from Kirtland to Jackson County were to go by land, "pitching their tents by the way."
During the closing months of 1831 great activity prevailed throughout the branches in Kirtland and vicinity. The Lord commanded that parents teach their children the Gospel - faith, repentance, baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost - all this before they reached the age of eight. If they failed to do so, the sins would be upon the heads of the parents. They were commanded to observe the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy. Idlers in Zion were reproved and the Lord was displeased with those who were not in accord with the laws of the Church.
Among the notables of the Mormon faith was Alpheus Gifford. Through his missionary endeavors, he preached the Gospel to Brigham Young and his family and Heber C. Kimball, who he baptized 15 April 1832. Alpheus was living in Tiago County, Pennsylvania at the time and traveled with four elders to Mendon, New York, where he made contact with these two outstanding brethren as well as many others.
Anxious to join the body of the Church, Alpheus and his wife Anna and their children made preparations to journey west. They arrived in Independence, Missouri, not without difficulty, in the spring of 1833. They soon moved a short distance and stopped on the banks of a small stream called Round Grove, which emptied into the Big Blue River.
Hear on the banks of the Round Grove, in a small one-sided cabin built by the side of a
large oak log that formed the back of the cabin, was born Moses Gifford on 16 May 1833,
the eighth child of this family. In April 1833 the mob began to stone houses, break
windows, burn haystacks and abuse the Saints. Moses was born in the in the midst of the
mob persecutions. Soon the family was forced to move to the Batson Settlement where Peter
Dustin presided. The persecutions continued and grew to such immensity that in November
they had determined to drive the Saints from Jackson County or put them to death. Many
Saints were shot down, some were beaten with clubs and guns, and others were tarred and
feathered. The Saints were not prepared for a hasty departure and many had to leave on
foot, children barefooted, crossing the burned plains with bleeding feet in the cold month
of November. Men, women and children ran in all directions, not knowing what would befall
them. Houses were unroofed and in many cases burned to the ground, household furniture
destroyed, cornfields laid waste, women and children driven from their homes, men and boys
tied up and whipped, and even the sick assaulted. The people of whole settlements were
herded together and driven before the mob. The Saints were driven enmass across the
Missouri River into Clay County, where the sympathies of the people were extended toward
Anna Nash Gifford was among these numbers, looking after her seven older children and carrying Moses, not more than five months of age.
The exiles generally moved northward and bivouacked in the Missouri bottoms at the ferries that led into Clay County, where many of them were hospitably received. Parley P. Pratt notes: "The shore of the Missouri began to be lined on both sides of the ferry with men, women and children; goods, wagons, boxes, provisions, etc., while the ferry was constantly employed; and when night again closed upon them the cottonwood bottom had much the appearance of a camp meeting. Hundreds of people were seen in every direction, some in tents, some in open air around their fires, while the rain descended in torrents. Husbands were inquiring for their wives, wives for their husbands; parents for their children and children for parents. Some had the good fortune to escape with their families, household goods and provisions, while others knew not the fate of their friends and loved ones, and had lost all their goods. The scene was indescribable, and, I am sure would have melted the hearts of any people on the earth, except our blind oppressors and a blind and ignorant community."
The Gifford family found a temporary resting place in Clay County and had a short rest from persecution. The Prophet proceeded to organize the Saints in western Missouri - chiefly located in Clay County - into a "Stake of Zion".
The mobsters of Jackson County were not content in driving the Saints from that county and their greed, lies, hypocrisies and hostilities took them into Clay County to stir up the "old settlers" of that county who had befriended the Saints, their aim to destroy the Saints once and for all. The persecutions continued and in the winter of 1836-37 many of the Saints settled near a small stream called Log Creek in Caldwell County, about six miles east of Farwest. Moses was but three years old, and just before the marching of the "great army" against the Saints, the Alpheus Gifford family moved into Farwest to be more secure from the mob.
Once again the Gifford family, with the body of the Saints, was driven from their home (1837) in the dead of winter. It was necessary to travel without tent or wagon cover and wade through snow and mud until they reached the state of Illinois. The residents of Quincy, Illinois had compassion for the destitute Saints and offered them homes and food and the means of employment to clothe and feed their families. Men and boys were given work in mills, on farms, etc., and the women were given jobs as domestic servants wherever and whenever possible. Thus, these mistreated people of God began once more to lift their heads and look for better things to come.
The Gifford family stayed a short time in Quincy and then Alpheus moved his family near Warsaw in Hancock County, about eight miles south of Commerce, now Nauvoo. Soon comfortable dwellings, fruitful fields, orchards, gardens, mills and other improvements sprung into existence in Hancock and Adams Counties, much to the amazement of the old residents of the county. The Gifford family lived in Morley's Settlement for a short time then moved to a one-room log house in Nauvoo.
In 1841 the family moved five miles north of Nauvoo and here they lost their beloved father, Alpheus. Anna returned to their small home in Nauvoo City after her husband's death. The Missourians again raised their mobbing heads and stirred trouble in Illinois. Finally, the spirit of persecution raged throughout Adams and Hancock Counties until the Prophet and his brother Hyrum were murdered. Houses and haystacks were burned, other property was destroyed until the Saints were forced to leave the beautiful city of Nauvoo and flee for their lives.
About this time, Moses was "farmed out" to a man by the name of Joseph B. Noble, a friend of the Prophet and of Alpheus. Moses was a young lad of about nine years of age when he left his mother's home. Brother Noble was a kindly man and took a great interest in Moses. The Noble family had taken up residence in Montrose, Lee County, Iowa following the expulsion from Jackson and Clay Counties, Missouri. Opposite Nauvoo, on the west side of the Mississippi River, the bluffs rise rather abruptly, almost from the water's edge, and were covered at the time of the advent of the Saints in Illinois with a fine growth of timber. Nestling at the foot of one of the highest of these bluffs, and immediately on the bank of the river, is the little village of Montrose. In back of these bluffs, rolled off the alternate prairie and woodlands of Iowa. Between Montrose and Nauvoo, and perhaps two-thirds of the distance across the river from the Illinois side, is an island from three-fourths of a mile in length, and from fifty to one or two hundred yards in width, having its greatest extent north and south.
Nauvoo is situated just at the head of the Des Moines Rapids, about one hundred and ninety miles above St. Louis. These rapids were a serious obstacle to the navigation of the Mississippi at this point, as in the season of low water they could not be passed by the steamboats plying the river. This difficulty, however, was later obviated by the general government building a fine canal, running parallel with the west bank of the river, from Keokuk to Montrose, a distance of twelve or fifteen miles, at a cost of several millions of dollars.
In the history of Brigham Young we find the following: From the first settlement of the Saints at Montrose there had been manifestations of opposition. Under date of 21 May 1839 he relates, "In the evening, while Brother Noble (Joseph Bates Noble) was plowing a piece of ground which he had obtained from Mr. Kilburn for a garden, a man named Campbell accompanied by a mob came up to Brother Noble, armed with clubs, and taking his horse by the bit, ordered him off the grounds; Brother Noble left the ground for the sake of peace."
26 May 1839 he writes, "There was much of the spirit of mobocracy made manifest at Montrose by some outlaws who remained there; some cut down the barns there belonging to the military station (Montrose had been a military station and the old barracks were still somewhat intact) lest the Saints might have the use of them."
Many of the Saints, exhausted and discouraged due to the persecutions and hardships, fell victims of the dreaded malaria and cholera. The dreaded diseases were no respecter of persons. Montrose and many other settlements other than Nauvoo were hard hit by the illness. The Prophet and other officials of the church traveled from settlement to settlement, door to door, administering to the sick and needy. Elder Woodruff writes, "The Company next visited Brother Joseph Bates Noble, who lay very sick. He was healed by the Prophet. By this time the wicked became alarmed and followed the company into Brother Noble's home. After Brother Noble was healed, all kneeled down to pray. Bro. Fordham was mouth, and while praying, he fell to the floor. The Prophet arose, and on looking around, he saw quite a few non-believers in the house, whom he ordered out. When the room was cleared of the wicked, Brother Fordham came to and finished his prayer."
Although incarcerated at Liberty Jail, the Prophet's mind was undaunted. He was determined to hold the Saints together as a community, and resume the work where it had been halted by the calamities that had befallen the church in Missouri. He counseled the men in charge of the Saints to instruct the membership to fall into the places and refuge of safety that "God shall open unto them, between Kirtland and Far West, -- let them fall in somewhere between those two boundaries, in the most safe and quiet places they can find; and let this be the present understanding until God shall open a more effectual door for us for further consideration."
While the great body of the Church made its exit from Missouri via Quincy, all did not do so. Some traveled from Far West to the De Moines River. When the residents in the area heard of the cruel treatment of the Saints, letters were sent to prominent men in the surrounding areas, among which was a letter to Dr. Isaac Galland living at Commerce, a small settlement on the banks of the Mississippi in Illinois. He owned considerable land in Commerce and vicinity; also he had claims upon land in Iowa. He wrote the Saints located at Quincy that several farms could doubtless be rented in his locality and that perhaps some fifty families could be accommodated at Commerce. Another 20,000 acres between the De Moines and Mississippi Rivers (the half-breed tract) in Iowa was also offered to the Saints for $2.00 per acre without interest. Nothing was definitely settled about the land at the time.
22 April 1839 Joseph Smith arrived at Quincy. It was agreed that he, along with Bishop Vinson Knight and Alanson Ripley, go to Iowa to select a place for the gathering of the exiled Saints. They were also advised to go to Commerce and look over the neighborhood.
The first land purchased in Commerce was 1 May 1839. The place was literally a wilderness. The land was covered with trees and bushes, and much of it was so wet that it was with utmost difficulty that a footman could get through and totally impossible for teams. It was disease infested, but a few dwellings dotted the landscape. The name of the settlement of Commerce was later changed to Nauvoo.
The village of Nashville, Lee County, Iowa and 20,000 acres of land adjoining were bought. Another purchase, also in Iowa, was made by Bishop Knight, and a settlement was started there called Zarahemla (near Montrose), which was opposite to Nauvoo on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River. This place was organized into a Stake of Zion, but in January 1842, the Stake organization was discontinued, though Zarahemla continued as an organized branch of the Church.
Thus we get a look into the background of the men and women who were able to withstand the persecutions and remain faithful to their God and his teachings. Such a man was Brother Noble. He had suffered the persecutions of the Saints, being driven to and fro as though they were a scourge upon the land. There is nothing in the LDS Church Annals which indicates the objective point to which the Saints intended to move when they began their flight from Missouri. Many thought they would be returning to northern Ohio.
Brother Noble had moved his family to Nauvoo about 1841. His heart was touched when he saw the family of his beloved friend, Elder Gifford, in such poor circumstances. He offered to take Moses into his household and do for him as though he was one of his own. Although Anna was grieved at the possibility of being separated from her youngest child (two were born after Moses but died in infancy), Anna realized that he would be in good hands and would receive the religious training she desired for her children, and his temporal needs would be cared for. She agreed to the separation, believing that some time in the near future she would again have her young son with her.
The first week in February 1846 (the exact day not known), Moses Gifford bid farewell
to his mother, brothers and sisters. He was with his father's trusted friend, but one can
only imagine the "hurts of the heart" suffered by his mother and the pangs of
anxiety that touched the heart of a lad so young.
True, Joseph Smith had predicted that the people would yet be driven to the valley of the mountains and had advised the Saints to be in readiness. The Noble family followed the Prophet's instructions and during the fall and winter of 1845-1846, every effort had been made to begin the exodus west. Provisions were carefully stored; vegetables were dried and packed for the march. Before leaving Nauvoo, Joseph Noble had called at the home of Lucy Mack Smith, the Prophet's mother, and gave her a deed to a nice house and lot he had in Nauvoo as a parting gift.
Joseph Noble had been Bishop of the Nauvoo 5th Ward and was one of those chosen by Brigham Young to be in charge of one of the companies moving west. Brigham Young needed men well seasoned in blazing trails and making camps of Zion in the wilderness. Had not Brother Noble been with the Prophet in Zion's Camp? Brigham Young well knew through his long and close association with Brother Noble that he could be relied upon to guide and assist the Saints in their exodus.
Brigham Young's Company crossed the Mississippi River 4 February 1846. The very sight
of their beloved leader and Apostles fading into the horizon threw panic among many who
were left in Nauvoo. Coupled with the increased persecution in Nauvoo, the Saints became
restless and almost immediately a large number of other families followed. Brother Noble
was in charge of many of these families and agreed to leave because the river was frozen
and more easily crossed. The exit from Nauvoo onto the windswept prairies of Iowa in
bitter cold weather, snow, sleet and rain beating upon the canvass coverings of the
wagons, soaking the occupants and their bedding and provisions, would have been
discouraging to the less valiant Saints. Moses watched from the back of the wagon until he
could no longer see his mother silhouetted against the snow banks of the Nauvoo side of
the river. Even at his tender age he was expected to take responsibility in the movement.
Brother Noble was kind and considerate and when Moses turned back into the wagon, the
reins were handed to him. Brother Noble mounted his horse and set out to check the other
wagons and families. Brother and Sister Noble had buried six of their seven children from
Kirtland to Winter Quarters and Moses filled some of the vacancy in the family.
Because of the weather conditions and unbroken trails, it was difficult to make more than a mile a day - other days more miles were traveled. Moses did not break the trust placed in him. He guarded his team well, caring for his beloved "second" mother's needs by gathering firewood, tending the cattle and horses, and making sure she was as comfortable and warm as possible. A great bond of love grew between them.
They were able to follow the tracks of Brigham Young's Company, rough as they were, and were greatly relieved to find the camp at Sugar Creek three days after leaving Nauvoo. The Company pitched camp, circled their wagons, placing the animals inside. Although the temperature had raised a "mite" it was still bitter cold. A great fire was built in the center of the circle and each family had their own little campfire for cooking. When the evening chores were completed and the evening meal was over, the small children were put to bed and the "grown-ups" gathered around the large fire and sang songs of praise to their Lord and many bore testimonies of the truthfulness of the Gospel. How grateful they were for the powerful magnet of the restored gospel, which made the "yoke" easier and the strength of their own hearts would free them from the tyranny of mob rule. They would journey westward and there build a new Zion for they were taking Zion with them.
Moses listened intensely to these brethren, watched their faces and felt a glow within his being. He was a very serious and religious boy. Religion and persecution were the two most imbedded facets of his life. Had he not been born during the mobbings of Jackson County? He had known little peace outside his own home and family. He found comfort in the testimonies of these great men. Was he not keeping company with a Prophet of God and the Apostles of the Lord?
Sugar Creek, the first encampment after leaving the west bank of the river in Iowa Territory, was about nine miles from Nauvoo. The cold, attended by severe snowstorms, became intense and remained so for several days. It caused great sufferings among the saints. Many had left Nauvoo ill prepared for the journey into the wilderness and before long their food and supplies were exhausted. Brigham Young's first group was well "fitted out" for the journey, and true to the Mormon belief of being their brother's keeper, those who had gave to those who had not. At this point, because of the additional families following, little organization existed. Many felt the leaders would depart and leave them stranded in their sad state.
Eight hundred men reported at the Sugar Creek Encampment during the last two weeks of February, without more than fortnight's provisions for themselves and their teams. With commendable patience, the great leader and dominant spirit of this movement, Brigham Young took largely upon himself the cares and trials of his people. Now and always, Brigham Young had stood by the poor. He made a survey of the provisions on hand, the manpower within their midst and the overall conditions of the people in general. He set about reorganizing the camps, assigning duties to all. The camps were passing through a new and, for the most part, sparsely settled country. There were a few scattered homesteads and here and there a small settlement in the distance. They soon found it necessary to trade their few household luxuries and items for food and supplies needed for prairie living. The men searched for farm work, husking corn, splitting rails and building fences on a daily basis so as not to delay the movement for any length of time. They removed fallen dirt from coalmines, dug wells, constructed bridges over troublesome streams, and anything else that offered honorable employment, by which they might exchange labor for means of assistance. Brigham Young was a strong believer that "Idleness is the Devil's workshop" and every person was assigned duties, be it mending worn out clothes, cooking, finding firewood, picking wild berries, hunting wild game, or what have you. The young boys either assisted the men in their tasks or remained behind to do "a man's work in camp".
The land was plentiful and fertile nearly everywhere. Much of it was public lands not yet surveyed and not on the market. This could be settled upon, planted by those now upon it in the spring and crops left to be harvested by the Companies that would come later in the season. Plant that others may harvest! Sew that others may reap! A petition was presented to the Governor of the Iowa Territory to allow the Saints to settle temporarily upon the land, but no answer to the petition was given. It was too close to election and no one wanted to take the responsibility of granting such a petition to the exiles.
It was the first of March when the encampment on Sugar Creek was broken up. Doubtless,
the exiles were glad to leave a place where they had endured so much suffering from cold
and exposure. In this, the women and children had been the chief sufferers. The devotion,
suffering and matchless heroism of the sisters cannot go unmentioned. The first night they
camped on Sugar Creek, 5 February 1846, nine babies were born into the world, some in
tents, some in wagons, some in rainstorms, some in snowstorms, and others born along the
way. One was born in the rude shelter of a hut, the sides of which were formed of blankets
fastened to poles stuck in the ground, with a bark roof through which the rain was
dripping. Kind sisters held kettles to catch the water as it fell, thus protecting the
newborn and mother.
Eliza R. Snow writes, "Let it be remembered that the mothers of these wilderness born babies were not savages, accustomed to roam the forest and brave the storms and tempest - those who had never known the comforts and delicacies of civilization and refinements. Most of them were raised and educated in the eastern states. They came from lovely homes, upper-class families, but for the sake of their religion, chose to follow God's people, come what may."
Note: At the time of the exodus of the Saints from Nauvoo, there were eighteen counties already formed in the eastern boundaries of Iowa. Pottowattomio County, Iowa was yet unorganized and was the land of the redman. By 1850, Pottowattomie County contained a great deal of territory, but shortly after the Mormons settled that portion of the Territory, several other counties were formed from what was considered Pottowattomie County.
It was high noon when the encampment on Sugar Creek was ready to move. The then 500
wagons were put in motion, moving painfully slow northwesterly along the banks of Sugar
Creek. They traveled five miles and made camp. After scraping away the snow, they pitched
their tents and built large fires and soon found a little comfort after their day's
travel. There were group prayers and private prayers offered to their God who had given
them the strength to endure.
The weather warmed about midnight to 20°F. The second day's march brought them to the east bank of the Des Moines River, four miles below the little village of Farmington. With the camp was a band led by Captain Pitt. After encampment and the toils of the day were over, the snow was scraped off and a large fire built within the wagon circle and an evening of dancing and merriment was enjoyed by young and old. The men of Iowa looked in amazement when they were told that these were the exiled Mormons who had suffered from the hands of the mob. How could they possibly find the energy and desire to enjoy such festivities "for no better word could be found". A number of citizens from Farmington came to witness and marvel. They asked the band to come to their village and put on a concert. The invitation was graciously accepted and the people of Farmington were well pleased and entertained.
After Sugar Creek, Richardson's Point -- 55 miles west of Nauvoo -- near a branch of Chequest Creek, was reached 7 March and became headquarters and the camp remained at that place until 19 March, as the rain made the roads and swollen streams impassable.
The next encampment was on the Chariton River where the leaders established
headquarters on 22 March and remained until 1 April. Thence to an encampment on Locust
River reached 6 April. Garden Grove, so named by the saints, was made headquarters on 25
April. Garden Grove was 150 miles from Nauvoo. Here, Brigham Young set about surveying
ground and approximately 700 acres were broken up and planted. Men and boys were assigned
to cut timbers, build houses, dig ditches, and build fences. The youngest boys were
assigned to guard the cattle by day, do chores for the women, and gathering firewood. Many
times the only thing they could find was buffalo dung - more commonly known as buffalo
chips - which was nothing more than manure. Moses was called upon to do a man's work in
this barren and uncivilized country. He performed his duties honorably and with dignity.
The Noble family with whom he lived spoke very highly of him. The girls and women were not
idle. There was washing to do, baking, meat to be cared for, wagons to clean and air out,
and when the men folk came in from their labors, they found a meal worthy of note.
Brigham Young assigned families to remain at Garden Grove to care for the fields and aid the saints who would soon follow while others were instructed to move on with the main group of pioneers. The Noble family moved on, and on 18 May Mt. Pisgah was made headquarters. Here again, a town was surveyed, homes erected, timber cut, fences built, canals and ditches dug, and several thousand acres of land put under cultivation. The work was hard and everyone was called upon to share the burden. Once again families were assigned to remain at Mt. Pisgah to assist the coming Saints and till the soil.
The Noble family moved on across the desolate Iowa plains, and with the main group came across the banks of the Missouri River. All this time Moses had been the main teamster for the Noble family. He had learned a great deal from this great man, both spiritually and temporally. He followed faithfully his beloved friend and second father. The first encampment in the Missouri River was made in the river bottom, but at the suggestion of their leader, the camp was moved back upon the bluffs overlooking the river, both because they could there obtain spring water and be a little further removed from the Omaha Indians living in the bottoms. They reached the Missouri River 14 June 1846. Although it was late for planting, fields were broken up and crops planted. Bishop Miller and others were instructed to search for a place to build a ferryboat with which to cross the river to the Nebraska side. Their full intent was to move on westward to the Salt Lake Valley.
Thus the camp of Israel had become a veritable marching industrial column, founding settlements as it marched, planting for others to harvest and leaving behind them, within easy reach, a basis of supplies that ensured their safety in case of emergency.
No sooner had the Mormon group reached the Missouri River than the United States Government sent a delegation to Brigham Young requesting 500 men to assist the United States in the war against Mexico. To some, this was the "straw that broke the camel's back". They had been driven from their homes time and time again and now they were expected to furnish 500 men to assist the government who had not lifted a hand in their behalf. Feelings ran high among some of the Saints, but Brigham Young saw in this request a blessing in disguise. The money from the wages would be used to assist the body of the Saints in reaching their destination in the mountains. A council of the Saints was held and the problem at hand was discussed. Although many were not sure that they saw a blessing in this request, it was decided that details would be sent to Mt. Pisgah and Garden Grove for men to join the troops that were to become known as the Mormon Battalion. Losing this many able-bodied men worked a hardship on the remaining Saints and their burdens were heavier. Moses' Uncle Levi Gifford was among those who volunteered for the Battalion. Many of his friends had also been among the number. Had he been of age, he too might have accepted the call, but there was indeed much work to be done to establish a home on the Missouri River as the "call-up" of these men meant that they would not be able to continue their journey westward until the following spring.
Detailed accounts of Winter Quarters have been written, but only highlights will be touched upon in this account. It was soon decided that the temporary home of the Saints would be made across the river where Omaha, Nebraska now stands. One might visualize that Winter Quarters was a mass of tents, wagon boxes and disorganization. Quite the contrary! Immediately, a town was surveyed, homes built, council home erected, schoolhouse and mill built. Although they knew this was to be only a temporary home, Brigham Young knew that idleness would breed discontent, so all were put to work. Within the next three months, over 700 cabins had been erected, city streets well planned, stockades built around the settlement, fields broken and planted, wild hay cut for the animals, and timber cut for winter's use. Twenty wards of the Church were organized in Winter Quarters and Joseph B. Noble was appointed Bishop of the 13th Ward.
As Bishop, he had the responsibility of seeing that everyone had a suitable shelter for the approaching winter. The Saints labored diligently to construct log or sod houses in the newly founded city of the plains. Here the Noble family lost another child, Hiram Brigham, aged 18 months. Due to the lack of proper diet and exposure, death and illness was all around. There were graves to be dug almost daily, crude wooden caskets to be built. Heartache knocked at every door in the settlement. All the years of Moses' youth were "years of mobbing and hardships of every conceivable kind, death of loved ones, sickness, pestilences, hunger, but through it all he remained true to his faith while others were stopping by the wayside, determined to "go no further and sacrifice no more".
At the age of 13, Moses had experienced more in his youth than the average man of today experiences in a lifetime. The trials for Moses were not yet ended. While Father Noble was attending to his duties of Bishop, Moses had great responsibilities stacked upon his young shoulders. Food was scarce and roots of all kinds had to be gathered and substituted for food. The hastily built cabins had dirt roofs that leaked and had to be mended. The Omaha Indians were cunningly encouraged by the Indian Agent to steal the cattle and horses and steal what little the Saints had. The young boys were called upon to act as guards. The Chief of the Omaha's tried to keep his braves under control, but the Indian Agent was no lover of the Mormons and of no help to them. The Missourians, who had not yet fulfilled their desire to wipe out the Mormons once and for all, also encouraged the Indians.
Because there was no "supply house" on the Missouri River where the Saints had encamped, it was necessary for the men and boys to go by wagon train to St. Joseph, Missouri for needed supplies. They found work of any kind to exchange for foodstuffs and supplies. Oft times Moses went to St. Joseph with the men. As the hatred for the Mormons still burned in the hearts of the Missourians, one can imagine the feelings of a young boy when asked to return to the area where his family and friends had been so cruelly treated, but go he did and performed his work with honor. The grain they obtained from labor was milled at St. Joseph and brought back to Winter Quarters to supply the needs of the desolate Saints.
Many wagon trains made the jouney from Winter Quarters to St. Joseph the winter of 1846-47. After the mill had been built and put into operation, it was necessary to obtain the grain from the farmers on the Missouri side of the river.
During the temporary encampment at Winter Quarters, the leaders received valuable information concerning the wester United States from trappers, scouts,etc, who had been on the route between the Missouri River and the Salt lake Valley. Among the tidbits of information were maps and data pertinet to a route to the region of the Rocky Mountains and the area in general, which comprised the Great Basin. Limited resources brought about careful consideration as to the most propitious time to start the great migration. It was decided to send an advance party to locate the "promised land" and make preparations for several companies of men, women and children who would leave Winter Quarters before June 1847. These men of the initial group who wished to return and secure the necessary equipment to bring their families to the new Zion the following year could do so. It was decided that the Pioneer Company would leave as early in the spring as possible to take with them plows, seed, grain, etc. to make preparation for eatables at the foot of the mountains.
Sad experience had taught the Saints to follow the instructions of their leader more closely than they had when leaving Nauvoo. Each Company was to be well organized with Captains of 100's, 50's and 10's. They were to provide themselves with teams, wagons, provisions, clothing and other necessities for the journey or remain in Winter Quarters until such provisions could be met. Each Company was to take with them "their portion" of the poor, the widows, the fatherless, and the families of those who had gone to the Army. By 7 April 1847, the Saints of the Pioneer Company commenced to move out of Winter Quarters. Those who were to come later were busily engaged in preparation, all under the able hands of those placed in authority over them.
The Vanguard Company moved out of Winter Quarters April 1847. The group was organized with Captains of 100's and 50's. Brother Noble was made a Captain of 50. There were 143 men, three women and two children in a caravan of 72 wagons. The group was to enable the Companies that were to come later to have better grass for their teams and livestock. Thus Mormonism began to unfold itself on the western frontier and Zion's building began in earnest. This Company was to "build up" campsites along the plains.
While Brother Noble was fulfilling this mission, "the boy" as Moses was fondly called, was the man of the house and he looked after his second mother in love and devotion. Mother Noble had not fared well at the Winter Quarter's encampment. The persecutions at Nauvoo and the heartbreaking losses of her children had taken its toll on her health. Brother Noble knew he could depend upon Moses to give her her every need. Little did Moses realize that this "tutoring" or responsibility that Brother Noble had placed upon him would yet be a great blessing to him in the building up of the many colonies he would be sent to in the Utah Valley. He had been well trained in the duties and responsibilities of a Bishop as well as being taught the ways of the frontiersman and colonizer. He had learned to work with the tools at hand, build and plan for the future, and to trust in his God.
It is not recorded in the records that Moses had seen or visited with his own dear
mother during his sojourn across the plains, but Church history indicates that this could
be so. His mother had been in the company of his older brother, Samuel K. Gifford and his
other brother, Henry Dill (who later became his close companion) were at the various
encampments at approximately the same time as the Noble family. It is almost certain that
they were at Winter Quarters at the same time. After the companies of Saints left for Salt
Lake Valley, Henry Dill and Samuel Kendall lived a short time on the Iowa side of the
Missouri River until they could gather the necessities for their journey to the valley.
How proud Anna N. Gifford, Moses' mother, must have been as she watched her young son
carry out the responsibilities placed upon him.
At this writing it has not been learned if Brother Noble went the complete way with Brigham Young's first Company. We do find him crossing the plains with his family in September 1847, viz: "In September 1847, while crossing the plains the water became terrible. The animals were so hot and their thirst so increased by the salty dust that in spite of pounding and pleading the animals would gorge themselves and then almost immediately get sick. An epidemic of cholera broke out among the animals, then the children and then the older people." Cholera is an acute, infectious, bacterial disease of the stomach and intestines, often fatal, characterized by violent vomiting, cramps, weakness and diarrhea. Fortunately, Moses was spared the dreaded disease that took so many of the pioneers of his day.
They did have hope ahead, because it was only a day and a half to Sweetwater River. After camping that evening they listened to stories and many expressed themselves. They stated that no one would ever know how happy they were, even those days during the severest trials. For they knew the Gospel had been restored. In spite of all their faith and prayers, while they were in the Salvatus country, several children died. Think of holding a short service, then moving forward, leaving a fresh mound in the dim distance. The parents' hearts were almost literally broken at such trials and had it not been for their faith, they could not have withstood the pain and anguish.
During storms, death and tragedy, all of a sudden about noon, 8 September, there came riding into camp from the west a number of the Quorum of the Twelve with Brigham Young at the head. They had found a home by an inland sea, they declared, and were now on their way back to Winter Quarters to lead out a general movement in the early spring. (This bit of information leads us to believe that Brother Noble had left the 1st Company and returned to Winter Quarters instead of going on to the valley with them.) For two days the brethren stayed with them, holding meetings and giving instructions. Then one morning they had Indian trouble. They stampeded horses and cattle. Only about five were regained out of the fifty taken. At times, due to the great amount of sickness, the camp was divided and the well ones went on ahead, leaving others behind to care for the sick.
On 2 October 1847, the Noble Company arrived in Salt Lake Valley, their Company not being too bad off compared to other groups. The trail's end did not mean the end of their troubles by any means. Food was hard to get and everything seemed scanty and scarce. Again, the High Council met and Brother Noble was chosen Bishop. Later in 1849, Great Salt Lake City was divided into 19 Wards and Brother Noble was chosen Councilor to Edward Hunter in the 13th Ward.
Pioneering a new home in Salt Lake Valley was a demanding and challenging task. Although the former Companies had erected a fort and broken fields dotted the horizon, the vast desert left a temporary lump in the throat of young Moses. Was this what they had suffered for? Had he really reached home? For a lad of fourteen it could have been a most disappointing experience, but as he heard the older folks in their excitement of reaching Zion where they could now "live and worship in peace" he found encouragement.
From the hilltop they looked upon the small settlement. The walls of the fort enclosure were made of adobe (or sun-baked bricks) made of clay. Log cabins were attached to the inner side of the walls of a ten-acre enclosure. Each house had a porthole facing the outside and a door and window facing the inside. The roofs slanted inward and were made of brush covered with earth. By the end of the first month in the valley, 27 log houses had been built and others were being completed daily. The stockade was called the "Old Fort". It stood three blocks south and three blocks west of Temple Block on the plot now known as Pioneer Park. Later in the fall, two more 10-acre blocks were stockaded in a manner similar to the Old Fort. They joined the original fort, one on the north and the other on the south. The pioneers named one the North Fort and the other the South Fort. On the east and west sides of each of them hung heavy gates, which were locked each night.
The tired Company entered the fort and set about housekeeping in tents and wagons until
new cabins could be built. Brother Noble built three cabins in the North Fort. The men
were assigned to various duties such as cutting logs for new homes, splitting logs,
building cabins, etc. The women mended the already threadbare clothing and did the washing
and cooking. The young boys searched the nearby hills for roots and eatable plants. They
had long since learned the value of making the best of the substances at hand. As soon as
new cabins were ready for them to move into, the canvas tops of the wagons were made into
pants and shoes to replace that which could no longer be "held to the person".
Some of the girls wore dresses made out of the canvass tops.
By fall, nearly 1700 people had gathered in the valley to stay throughout the winter and the food they brought with them from Winter Quarters was going fast and there was no way to get more. Food was so scarce they wondered if they would starve to death before a harvest season arrived. Brigham Young appointed Bishop Edward Hunter to find out what food was in the camp and to ration it among the Saints. Fortunately, the friendly Indians had told the Saints about the roots and bulbs of the beautiful sego lily adorning the Utah hills that could be used for food. Men, women and children spent hours out in the hot sun digging the sego roots and this food was probably what saved the Utah pioneers from starvation that first winter. Beef, milk, pig-weeds, segos, thistles, watercress and roots of weeds were also included in the diet. Young boys ate thistle stalks while herding cows until their stomachs became as full as the cows. One father took down a bird-pecked ox-hide from a limb and converted it into a delicious soup, and enjoyed by many.
Besides the scarcity of food, as the winter snows melted and the spring rains came, fine streams of water leaked through the dirt roofs of the cabins. The roofs had been built much too flat. What little foodstuffs that were left by spring were gathered into the center of the cabin and covered to protect it from the dampness. But more annoying than the rains were the numerous rats and mice. The rodents swarmed into the fort by the hundreds. Frequently 50 or 60 mice had to be caught and killed before the family could sleep. They would crawl over the sleeping pioneers at night like lice and made it most unpleasant indeed.
Religious services had been held regularly from the very beginning. A school was started in the fort almost immediately. In spite of the discomforts, the laughter of the children cheered the hearts of the parents. The older folk enjoyed dancing and other festivities. Provocations, scarcity of food and clothing, and the hardships of pioneer life could not break down the spirit of these faithful pioneers.
When spring arrived in 1848, the people rejoiced as they looked upon the green grain shoots coming through the ground. There would be enough for the 1700 people in the fort and the thousands who would arrive during the coming year. One need not dwell on the story of the "Mormon Cricket" tragedy. It is well engraved in our minds and one can only imagine in part the suffering of the Saints during that episode.
It is said that Moses spent his first few years in Utah in Nephi. Records do not bear this out, although his cousin Ichabod Gifford was a schoolteacher in Nephi. However, we find Moses living in Salt Lake City in the 1850/51 Census with his mother. She had arrived in Salt Lake with his brother Samuel K. the previous year. Anna N. Gifford was a midwife for the Church authorities as well as other people while living in Salt Lake City. Moses worked at various trades. His brothers had gone on to Manti to help in building up Zion in that part of the valley. The desire to be "a family" again prompted Anna and Moses to join the brothers in Manti. Moses was a "full grown" man by this time and had proved his worth as a leader and a colonizer. It was in Sanpete and Sevier Counties that Moses contributed the most to the building up of the Church and the State.
By 1852 Manti had taken on the appearance of a thriving community. He set about preparing a home for his mother and himself. As in all Mormon settlements, the land was apportioned to the individual. No man was to have more than he could take care of and each man was to take care of that which he had. With the aid of his brothers, Moses soon had a comfortable one-room cabin with a "lean-to" ready for his mother. The ground was tilled and planted. Anna set about getting her home "in order". At first their cabin consisted of a dirt floor with a fireplace at one end where a large kettle hung for cooking purposes. The furniture was crudely carved or cut out of rough lumber. Most of the cabins had a bed in one corner, with the two sides of the cabin giving it support. A crude table was in the other corner resting against the two walls. Benches served as chairs for the first little while and a shelf hung above to place what eating utensils they had. Anna and Moses were happy in their home. The Gifford boys had learned the art of chair making and it wasn't long until they had fashioned their mother more comfortable household furniture. There was no glass for the windows so there were wooden shutters hung with rawhide hinges. It was soon learned that Anna was a midwife and her services were appreciated. Her pay was in produce and other commodities of value to her in her meager dwelling.
Although Chief Walker had called upon Brigham Young and "begged" him to send colonists to "Sanpitch Valley" under the pretense of teaching the Indian to live the white man's way, all was not as he had promised. According to history, Chief Walker's main purpose in having settlements in his valley was to have more colonists to "plunder" and more cattle to steal. At one time, Chief Walker and 700 of his tribe circled the Manti Ford with their tents, begging for what little the pioneers had and stealing from them. It became necessary for the small band of pioneers to form a military group for their own protection as well as assist the smaller communities that were springing up here and there in the Sanpitch Valley. As Moses had been well trained by Brother Noble in the ways of frontier life, he immediately joined the military group. He became a "minute man", carrying his gun into the fields with him, keeping it at his side while driving a wagon and often leading a "posse" in search of stolen cattle, searching for renegade Indians who had killed the lone traveler, ambushed a family or caused disturbances in the small villages. Because of his great military ability, he became a Captain in the Territorial Militia and was generally known as "Captain Gifford".
While thus engaged in pioneer living in Manti, Moses became attracted to a lovely young girl from Sales, Sarah Price. Her parents had also come to Utah for the Church. She was the daughter of John Price and Rachel Jones. The courtship developed into marriage on 1 February 1857 at Manti and later solemnized in the Endowment House 17 November 1861. To this union were born nine children - seven daughters and two sons. (See attached family group.)
His ability to organize and lead groups in other matters did not go unnoticed. Brother Isaac Morley, Bishop of Manti and a close friend of Alpheus Gifford (Moses' father), took great interest in his leadership and when it became necessary to form groups to colonize "young" settlements in Sanpitch Valley, Moses was called to accompany these small groups of Saints to settle or resettle other areas. The first was the resettling of Spring Town (now Spring City, Sanpete County, Utah).
Spring City had a rather unique beginning. Early in 1852, Brigham Young called James Allred to take his three sons and their wives and families and move south into central Utah and begin a settlement. After doing some exploring, they decided to settle along a creek flowing from the mountains to the east of them. They called the creek "Canal Creek" and the beautiful mountains to the southeast of them "The Horseshoe". This was March 22, 1852. The new settlement was given the name of Allred Settlement. Later a group of forty families arrived at the place from Denmark and soon Allred Settlement became known as "Little Denmark". However, this name was inappropriate and the name was changed to Spring Town.
Indian troubles began as the little town began to prosper. The Indians were jealous of the Saint's rights and began to drive away the cattle, burn buildings and threaten the lives of the people. It's strange how long the red man lived upon the Utah soil as a barren desert with no knowledge or desire to cultivate and use its resources, but when the white man arrived and began to make the ground yield its wealth, the Indians immediately began to desire "that which they had not".
In 1853 it was advisable that the people move to Manti for protection. Details and wagons had been sent from Manti to assist the Saints. The move began 31 July 1853 and completed 19 December 1853. Some of the cabins were moved to Manti. A few men remained in Spring Town to attempt to harvest more of the late crop, but soon all were abandoned.
When Indian troubles had more or less ceased for the present, the Allred group settled on Cottonwood Creek in 1854. About fifty families from Manti went to a settlement they called Cottonwood, later named Ephraim.
In the early summer of 1859, a group of settlers decided to resettle a permanent colony at Spring Town. Moses and his brother Henry Dill and families along with several others arrived at Canal Creek 28 June1859. These settlers immediately had a town site containing 640 acres surveyed. The surrounding farming lands were surveyed into ten and five acre lots, which were distributed among the brethren. About a dozen families spent the winter of 1858-59 in the new settlement. Most of the former dwellings had been burned by the Indians as well as the fields, but Moses moved his family into one of the remaining cabins, such as it was, and soon had the holes between the logs "chinked" with mud and the fireplace in repair, a new door hung and the earthen floor smoothed out. The Indians were relatively friendly, but small bands of renegades kept the men on the alert and the women and children in a state of fear and anxiety. A good crop was harvested in spite of the late planting and the Gifford families settled down to what they believed to be a permanent home.
While Brigham Young was attending Conference in Fort Ephraim in 1860, an Indian by the name of Tabiona was in the audience. He approached Brigham Young and handed him a stone and said, "Heap burn." From the pulpit, Brigham Young asked if there was anyone in the congregation who was acquainted with coal mining. John E. Rees said he had worked in the coalmines in old Wales before coming to Utah. Brigham Young asked him if he knew anyone else in the valley that had this knowledge. Brother Rees informed him that a Brother John Price in Manti also had been a coal miner in Wales. John Price was sent for and these two men were called on a special mission to go with Tabiona to prospect for coal. They reached the area where the coal beds were and all of a sudden Tabiona became sulky and jumped from the wagon. Brigham Young had told the two men that although their lives would be endangered many times, they would not be harmed. The suddenness of Tabiona's actions caused them alarm until they learned that Tabiona had suddenly decided he didn't want the white man to destroy his beautiful canyon. After "much talk" Tabiona agreed to sell the coal beds for a few head of cattle and sheep. The two men dug a dugout in the soft surface of the coal and began their work.
It is to be remembered that John Price was the father-in-law of Moses, so it is with little wonder that Moses was among the very first settlers at Coal Bed (later named Wales). The settlers located about one-half mile east of the old dugouts and called the settlement Coal Bed. This settlement was a few short miles west of Spring City and the women and children remained in the more established settlement until homes could be prepared for them. Also, the two settlements were close enough for the men to attend to their farming and animals.
A fort was constructed of large 16-inch blocks of sun-dried adobe bricks that had been made by the men in their "spare" time. The fort did not have any windows but at intervals along the wall were gun slits for the settlers to shoot from if necessary. The entrance was a large plank door. Inside was a long adobe room with a roof over it. Whenever there was a hint of Indian trouble, drums would be sounded and the settlers went to the fort for protection.
With all the hours spent in making adobes, hauling timber from the mountains for cabins, the actual building of the dwellings, the surveying and breaking up of fields, the planting, harvesting, and the Indian uprisings, one wonders where the time and energy came for home life, church and social affairs. These were the only "bright spots" in the lives of the pioneers. At the sound of a fiddle or "mouth organ", the pioneers forgot their woes and lost themselves in a round of dancing and merriment. Sometimes it would only take the sound of a good whistler to set their feet to the floor and swing their partners round and round. Many a good time was had in a humble cabin on earthen floors or in the fort while still surrounded by the threat of an Indian attack.
The women were not an idle lot in the colonization. There was food to be dried for winter's use and sheep to shear. Much of this work was left to the women while the men farmed and mined. There was the wool to card and spin into thread and then weave into cloth not to mention the sewing of the material into clothes for the family. Not every home had a carding machine, but the majority had a spinning wheel. The neighbors shared and shared alike, and this meant their equipment as well as everything else.
It might be well to mention here that prior to the settling of Wales, the President of the United States had sent a land agent to the Territory of Utah to claim all the land so the land in Wales belonged to the Government. It was decided among the settlers that different men would file claim on the land located in the area surrounding the town. These lands were for a quarter section of land. Each claim was divided among a number of men, thus giving each settler equal rights and opportunities. Each man's word was his honor. In order to raise a crop, it was necessary to irrigate so as soon as the land was apportioned, ditches and canals were dug. Cabins were built on the individual acreages. All this while still working the mines.
It is also worthy of note that all property in Salt Lake was also claimed as Government
property and for a short time the Church paid rent to the Government for the use of the
buildings and land. This was later settled and the property returned to the people.
Because of increased Indian raids and murders, it became necessary for the town of Coal Bed (or Wales) to be evacuated. Some of the settlers took their cabins with them to Moroni. This worked a hardship on the economy of the pioneers because they could neither work the mines nor their fields. They had given up their "holdings" in the previous settlements where they had lived and it meant starting from "scratch" again. Some moved in with relatives while others set up housekeeping in their wagons, tents and a few abandoned dugouts until better dwellings could be obtained. If hills were not available to use for dugouts, they would dig a good sized hole in the ground and cover it with brush and dirt, much like the "root cellars" used in early pioneer periods. These were not too satisfactory because it was almost impossible to keep out the rain in these hastily built dugouts. Some were more fortunate and had canvass tops to place over the dugouts before applying the dirt, which was much more waterproof.
Again Moses' training in the militia became most advantageous to the outlying settlements. He was on constant call and was gone from his family a great deal of the time. He was involved in the crushing of Indian raids in almost every small settlement in Sanpete County. He had little time for family and farming during these troublesome times. Without a good wife, he could not have accomplished all that he did in behalf of the settlements and the Church in the valley he had chosen to call "home". For a short while Moses' family lived in Manti following the evacuation of Wales, but the call to move south to establish colonies found him entering the valley south of Richfield to a little settlement known as Alma (later Monroe).
Monroe (Alma) consisted of the Latter-day Saints residing in the town of Alma and surrounding country. Most of the people lived in the fort and formed their small acreages in the beginning. A few cabins dotted the valley. The farming lands were principally irrigated from the Sevier River, though a canal was built and tapped the river four miles west of the town site. The town is situated on an elevated ground sloping gently northward towards the Sevier River, half a mile from the foot of the mountains on the east and about six miles from the mountains on the south. It is approximately ten miles south of Richfield.
Late in the fall of 1863, George Wilson, his son and two others who intended to become
settlers in that part of Sevier Valley arrived on the present site of Monroe and made a
dugout near the present center of the town, the primitive dwelling they finished before
Christmas 1863. They lived in that dugout alone during the winter of 1863-64, engaged in
hauling poles for fencing purposes from the mountains on the east side of the valley. Two
other men arrived 20 February 1864.
About twenty families altogether arrived in Alma in 1864, including Moses and Henry Dill Gifford, and founded the settlement of Monroe, which at first was known as South Bend and later as Alma. Wiley T. Allred first presided over the settlement at the beginning.
A good crop was raised in Alma in 1864. A ditch, which tapped the Sevier River about four miles west of the settlement, was made, although the town site was watered from Monroe Creek. In 1865 a few more families located at Alma. The little settlement was taking on the appearance of a typical Mormon colony and the inhabitants set about in their usual fashion of building cabins, breaking fields and planting crops, and in general, looking forward to a brighter tomorrow. This part of the building being done, a number of the settlers returned to their former homes.
In July 1865, Indians attacked the settlement and a battle ensued between the Indians and the mounted militia under Captain Warren S. Snow of Manti and the Indians. Once more Moses was called to arms. He led the group from Monroe in the Indian skirmishes. Early in 1865 the settlers of Alma built a fort enclosing one block of the town survey. This fort was built of log houses on three sides, while a rock wall then feet high protected the fort on the east side. This fort was built in nine days. Everyone, young and old, was needed to assist in building this fort and long hard hours were put into it. The people were well organized and soon felt more secure in their homes, knowing they had the protection of the fort in case of continued attacks.
All this time, the women were making the best of things. There was soap to be made and the rinds from the pork were carefully stored, the lard rendered from the sowbelly or bacon was kept in crocks or wooden barrels, mutton tallow and the fat from beef and wild animals killed were added to the collection, all to be rendered out and boiled down for the making of soap. Before this could be done, they had to make their own lye by carefully gathering ashes from the fires and pouring water over them after they had been placed in leak-proof containers. Clothing had to be made, fields had to be worked, food dried for winter's use, and children to care for, and they continued to give birth to a relatively healthy group of new inhabitants of Alma. When the clothing could no longer be used, they were torn into strips and woven into rugs, which adorned some of the more "elaborate dwellings". Even on a smooth dirt floor, the rugs gave elegance to the habitat.
In February 1866, some of the families at Alma, fearing attack by the Indians, moved to Richfield. Several unsuccessful attempts were made by the Indians to steal the stock of the settlers. Because Moses was away from home a great deal in military service, he moved his family to Richfield for better protection. Henry Dill, his brother, also moved his family to Richfield. The fields and cattle at Alma still had to be tended and Moses and Henry sandwiched that responsibility between Indian troubles. A good crop or harvest of wheat and other cereals and vegetables was raised in Alma in 1866. But, in April 1867, the settlement was vacated, as the Indian hostilities assumed a more intense intent than ever before. A number of teams sent out by the Saints of Sanpete County arrived in Alma in April 1867 and assisted the people to move away. The settlers left their homes sorrowfully as they had become quite attached to their new location. In 1868, Fred Olsen, the former President of Alma, and others made an attempt to resettle the place, but were attacked by Indians at North Cedar Ridge between Salina and Richfield. During this episode, one man was killed and a number of the brethren were wounded.
Moses moved his family to Fountain Green where some of their relatives lived, but their hearts were still in Monroe. In 1870, fifteen men decided to return to Alma and make a "do or die" attempt to make a permanent settlement. Among these fifteen men were Moses and Henry Dill Gifford. They had worked too hard and too long to give up now. The Black Hawk Indian War had been practically terminated except for a few renegade groups who raided the settlements and drove off cattle. In November 1870, Moses and the others arrived on the present site of Monroe to resettle the place. When these settlers arrived at Alma they found nothing hurt by the Indians, but miners and prospectors who had passed through had burned many of the fences, etc. in making their campfires. Early in the spring of 1871, a number of the brethren who were residing in Alma brought their families out, making temporary homes in the fort. The settlers applied to the Government for a post Office, which was granted under the name of Monroe; thus the name of the town was changed at the suggestion of Moses Gifford and officially became known as
Moses Gifford was the first Presiding Elder at Monroe after the resettling. He moved his family into the original house they had previously occupied. Moses held the position of Presiding Elder until 1874. John E. Johnson reports that Moses became dissatisfied with the Church and resigned, but Andrew Jensen states that in 1874, Moses was succeeded by James T. Lisonbee no mention of any disaffection from the Church. In these early Utah colonies, the Bishop played a vital role in early Utah history. They were the key men to the whole colonial project. They were called upon to carry forward the colonization, as well as govern the people in their respective communities. Moses apparently had jurisdiction over the people living in the surrounding areas as we find that James Hale, an early settler of Monroe was called by Moses Gifford to preside over the Joseph City Saints as a Branch of Monroe Ward. The Bishops were not only the spiritual leaders of the community, but also the temporal administrators as well. Taxes were collected and society was governed by the Bishopric. When trouble arose, the parties involved were brought before the Bishop's Court. There were no jails and no need of one, as everything was decided in these courts. A great deal depended upon the Bishops during these early times and the success of a community was often the result and influence the Bishop had upon the people.
Moses was a strong believer in the United Order and while he presided over the Monroe
Saints, the order was in effect. It ran rather smoothly, although not everyone
participated 100 percent. Many of the people put "their all" into it
property as well as labor, while others went into it half-hazardly. They kept a
"safe" supply for personal use and were low on man-hours when called upon. Where
dishonesty dwells, discontent and greed infests the minds and hearts of those not in full
In 1872, the Telegraph lines were brought through Monroe and a daughter of Moses was taught telegraphy by Miss Ann Irons, Or Moroni. One historian says it was Minerva and another records the name as Rachel Ann. Both agree that the office was operated from Moses' home and a daughter was the operator for many years.
Moses' home in Monroe was the stopping place of the visiting Church officials. The miners from Marysvale went to his home for accommodations, thus his home became an Inn. Moses was a close friend of Joseph A. Young, son of Brigham Young, and he made frequent visits to the Gifford home.
About 1875, dissatisfaction arose among the people regarding the United Order. The Order was attractive for the people of little means and muscle power, as they knew that no one was allowed to go hungry and they were eager to join. Discontent continued to grow until the last entry of the Order showed the date 30 September 1876. When the United Order finally stopped to exist, many of the people that had put "their all" into it felt they should have received more than those who had put very little into it. Many Saints drew away from the Church; others were excommunicated, including some of Moses' sons-in law.
Michael Johnson, Jones Wicklund, Olof Sorenson and John E. Johnson had located and developed the Birch Springs and made use of the land located down on the flat. The latter three became the sons-in-law of Moses. They were miners by trade and although Moses had tried his hand at mining in Coal Bed, he kept to farming during his lifetime.
With the peace treaty with the Indians came a more enjoyable and productive life for the pioneers. For the first time they could live in cabins on their land without fear of attack. The log cabins were either "added upon" or bigger and better homes were built. With the coming of the railroad in 1869, glass windows replaced the open windows or "oil covered paper" windows. Every cabin now had wooden floors that were kept clean from scrubbing with homemade lye or soap. The walls were whitewashed and shining. Calico was available, and attractive curtains hung at the windows. Trees and bushes adorned the yards of the settlers. Green productive gardens grew to the back or side of the homes. Each farm had a small corral or barnyard at the back of the home where they could attend their own cattle in their own way. Small farm buildings began to dot the area. Animals were more plentiful and with that came a better way of life. Wool was more plentiful, which allowed the family to have better clothes. By this time nearly every family had a loom and spinning wheel. The homemade looms were being replaced by factory-made. Although yardage could be purchased at the town store, many women continued to make their own cloth. They had learned the art of dying their own material. If the cloth was to be red, the dye was made from the root of a madder plant - dried, powered and steeped in water. Rabbit brush, prepared the same way, brought a fine shade of yellow. Blue came from indigo, brown from the bark of the oak brush, and green from sagebrush. The logwood root made a black dye. The fashion of the day was the result of a woman's imagination. A hat was no longer a necessity to keep off the sun's rays, but became the day's fashion.
There was an abundance of fresh vegetables for their daily diet. The woman of the house could use her imagination in preparing a family meal and many favorite recipes concocted in those early homes are family treasurers of today. Fresh fruit grew on the trees and was carefully stored in the "root cellar" for winter's use. Hayrides became a favorite party for the young and old, often ending up with a mass picnic in some nearby canyon. Saturday night dances were enjoyed in every community. Often times a traveling fiddler or group would enter the town and a special dance was called to the enjoyment of all. Church activities could be enjoyed more fully without the fear of being attacked.
With this "wealth and peace" one wonders why the urge to move on to other frontiers could ever again cause a family to pull up stakes, join a wagon train and travel hundreds of miles of desolate plains, cross treacherous rivers, break new trails, build dugouts and crude cabins, fight with more Indians and start the old "hassle" all over again. It must have taken a lot of courage for these tired pioneers to venture into such a move, leaving all they had worked for behind them.
The mining fever no doubt played a big part in the movement of the Moses Gifford family
as they made plans for the journey. They disposed of their property and headed for the
northwest. The first settlements in Baker County, Oregon and the lower Snake River Valley,
including Auburn, Baker, Boise Basin, Boise, Silver City, Jordon Valley and Mormon Basin
can all be traced to the legend of the Lost Blue Bucket Mine.
The family of Moses Gifford consisted of the Wicklunds, Johnsons and Sorensons and his unmarried children. There were six families in all who made up the wagon train that headed toward the Boise Valley. John E. Johnson, who had enounced his allegiance to the Mormon faith in 1868, headed the young colony. Thirty persons were in the group, all related in one way or the other to Moses. There were several wagons loaded with enough provisions to assist them in establishing a new home and give them food and necessities for the journey.
The Oregon Short Line was built from Granger, Wyoming to Huntington, Oregon between May 1881 and November 1884. It first crossed the Snake River at American Falls, Idaho. Towns along the way were little but tents and covered wagons. There wasn't the usual organized surveyed town sites these travelers had been used to in the colonization of Utah. These were strange little hamlets. Although the people were friendly and hospitable, they lacked the warmth of the Mormon "beehive" activities. With the advent of the railroad, these small stations sprung up along the line.
The men of the Utah colony found work in the various towns. Salmon fishing was good along the Snake River and wild game put fresh meat on their tables. They had brought with them sufficient food, bedding, clothing, utensils and machinery to assist them in their new home which made their "campsites" more acceptable on the desert. In some areas, the Indians were troublesome, but on the most part, they received very little trouble with the redman. It was not unusual to see a band of mounted braves in the not too far distant hills. Occasionally, one or two Indians would come down into their camps and, as usual, left only after they had been given food or other items.
The wagon train reached Stone House (later named Vale) without serious incident December 1884. Homesteads were immediately taken up on lower Bully Creek where the "Utah Colony" settled on Government land. Bully Creek was nine miles west of Stone House. The name Vale supplanted "Stone House" when a Post Office was established there in 1883. A few dwellings had been erected at Vale by the time this particular group arrived, including a one-room schoolhouse. Idaho, through which they had traveled, was still Government Territory. Council, Idaho (where Sarah Price Gifford later died) became a terminus of the Pacific and Idaho Northern Railroad in 1899.
Snake River Valley had a moderate climate and mild winters. It was excellent country for stock raising. Wild grass hay was in abundance and the fields were irrigated from sloughs adjacent to the river. Hay was the main crop, but due to their earlier training in irrigation, they soon had cultivated fields and many other crops were easy to grow in that climate. Fruit trees were planted. Without fully realizing it, they were following the Mormon pattern of colonization all over again.
The meadowlands were considered the most valuable of all their lands. Although mining was the "drawing card" in their move to Oregon, little was done along this line. John E. Johnson became the first surveyor in the county and was re-elected many times. The other members of the party kept to farming and ranching.
Unlike the early day mining camps that sprung up in a day and later vanished, Ontario, Vale and Nyssa were never boomtowns. Located in a rich agriculture and stock-raising section, their growth had been permanent.
Nothing has been located to date as to the religious affiliations of this group, although Moses is referred to in the records as a "Mormon Bishop", no doubt referring to his Utah association. Jones Wickland remained bitter towards the Church to his death (reason unknown) and the Johnsons left the Church on their own accord.
From letters in the family, it is evident that this group more or less carried on in a United Order. Moses and his children were affiliated with the Socialist Party, which at that time was none other than a United Order without Church leadership. This leads us to believe that it was dissatisfaction with the way the United Order was dissolved that caused the break with the Church, but no written evidence has been found.
Moses' life in Oregon was for only a short time. He had just enough time to get his family settled and his farm producing before fate took a turn that cut his plans short.
He was stricken with poor health soon after he reached Oregon and it was discovered that he had a cancerous growth on his lower lip. He was taken to the hospital in Portland (clear across the state), but it was discovered that the disease was too far advanced for medical treatment to be effective. He was released from the hospital and returned to his home in Vale. According to family writings, his suffering was indescribable so the family offered prayers in his behalf and were reconciled to see the end come.
Moses' life of service to others came to end in January 1888 at the age of 54 years and 8 months. He was laid to rest at Vale, Oregon with his family and beloved friends in attendance.
No one knows the full impact of Moses Gifford's influence upon the lives of his
associates, but history notes that he contributed much to the building up of the Kingdom
of God and his labors in the various communities in which he lived is evidence of his
courage, love and devotion to his friends and relatives. His descendants have been left a
great heritage they can well be proud of.
Well done, thy good and faithful servant.
Enter into my Kingdom.
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Additional information on the family of Moses Gifford:
Rachel Ann Gifford married Jonas Wicklund 1 February 1877. She died 1934.
Sarah Minerva Gifford married John E. Johnson 1 February 1877. She died 4 September 1932.
Morgan Price Gifford married Candace Wicklund.
Ida Gifford married Charles Selley.