John Jenkins was born in Cowbridge, Glamorganshire, South Wales on the 8th day of May 1845. This history was given by John Jenkins, himself. He was the son of Evan Jenkins and Ann Davies.
The Mormon Elders brought the gospel to our
home in about the year of 1847. My father believed and accepted it at once.
I was about a year and a half old at this time. He used to go out on the
streets and preach this strange doctrine called Mormonism, and he would
often take me in his arms so the people would not throw rotten eggs at
him. It was such a new thing to the world that the people thought he was
When I was nearly five years old my parents left our native land for the gospel's sake. We left Liverpool, England, March 2, 1850 on the good ship Hartley. It took us two months to make the trip, arriving in New Orleans May 2, 1850. We then sailed up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, landing just below Winter Quarters. From there we journeyed four miles east to Council Bluffs, then five miles farther east to Mosquito Creek where we lived for eleven years. When we arrived there our earthly belongings consisted of a few dishes and two featherbeds, one of which we soon traded for a cow, the first cow we had ever owned.
Having no means with which to proceed to Utah, Apostle Ezra T. Benson advised my father to stay in Iowa until such time as he could get equipment to take us on our journey. During this time my mother gave birth to two pairs of twins; the first pair was born May 15, 1851 and the second pair were born May 16, 1858. When the first pair were born the family was driven from our home by a flood and had to live in a dirt-roof house that leaked so badly that an umbrella had to be placed over the bed to shelter Mother who lay confined with the babies.
As soon as possible my father took out his naturalization papers. He then homesteaded a quarter section of land on which we lived for eleven years. While we lived there our neighbors were Mormon apostates and Josephites who were very bitter against the LDS Church, with the exception of one family named Fisher. These people succeeded in influencing Mrs. Fisher and my mother to the extent that they refused to move on to Utah. When means were provided by which we could have moved to Utah. Mother refused to sign the deeds so Father could sell his land. About 1859 or 1860 Brother Fisher took some wheat for a grist to the mill one day. Leaving it there he stated that he would call back for it. When he went back for the flour he continued on to Utah, leaving his family behind him. When Mother learned of the Fisher episode she changed her mind in regards to the signing of the deed and Father sold his land for $500.00. He equipped an outfit and we started for Utah the 1st of June, 1861, in Homer Duncan's company.
Our train was an independent outfit, that is, it consisted of people who fitted up their own outfits. Father had two wagons, two yokes of oxen, eight cows, and two or three horses. Father drove one wagon and I drove one. The family was in the wagon Father drove. I drove one yoke of oxen and one yoke of cows. We worked the cows as well as oxen. When we started in the morning the milk would be put in the churn and by noon when we stopped it would be churned to butter. The Indians caused us no trouble on our journey, although they often came and begged us for flour and sugar. One of our sports was to stand a dime in the split end of a stick, place the stick on end at about 25 paces, and then let the Indians shoot the dime from the stick with their bow and arrow. The dime belonged to the Indian that could hit it. It was remarkable how often they hit the target.
In the company I was known as the Little Hunter, and with an old muzzle loading rifle, I obtained more meat than our family could use. So we often had some to give to other families. At one time between the Platte and the Sweet Water Rivers I wounded an antelope. After tracking it I got another shot and killed it. I then dressed it and started for the train of wagons which was traveling. I soon realized that I was lost. I wandered around until nearly sundown. On reaching the top of a knoll I thought I saw what might be the road. So I hurried in that direction. Soon I saw a man and started running towards him. On seeing me he ran from me, thinking I was an Indian. My motions in trying to stop him, he thought were signals to other Indians to close in on him. However, I finally overtook him and found him to be a member of our company. When I told him about the antelope, nothing would stop him from going back for it. We soon found the game and split the cord in one front leg, slipped the opposite hind leg through the split, and put his head between the legs so that the antelope hung on the man's back. I carried the guns and together we made our way back to the wagon train, arriving at camp late in the night. I have often been out alone in the hills but have never again had the feeling of being lost. At this time I was a boy of sixteen.
I remember among other members of the company, President Charles W. Penrose, Francis W. Armstrong, and Samuel Russell. President Penrose often took part in the programs held around the campfire. We had many good times during our journey. We arrived in Salt Lake City on September 28, 1861, and from there we went to Farmington, where Father bought forty acres of rough land for $900.00.
The following year the Morrisite trouble occurred. When the militia was called out to quell the trouble, I was standing on the courthouse steps. Bishop John Hess came out and stated he was three men short of his quota. I spoke up and said I would go if he needed me. He sent me home for my gun and I joined the company. The first night out I slept on the ground without shelter. It rained all night and from exposure I contracted rheumatism, from which I have never since been entirely free. The next day we went on to the Weber and found the Morrisites encampment, which was called the Morrisite Fort, located at a point just below where Unitah now is. It seemed that Morris had prophesied that we (the enemies) would be unable to approach nearer than a certain point because the Lord would smite us should we try to go down the hill to their fort. The prophecy however failed and we took our positions facing the fort. Nick Smith was sent to the fort under a white flag with a demand of surrender, which the Morrisites refused to do, so the battle started. It lasted three days in which Morris and Banks, the leaders of the Morrisite camp, were killed and the rest of their company of about 400 Morrisites surrendered.
A very interesting incident is connected with this battle. We had three cannons, of which the historical "Old Sow" was one and two smaller ones, known as the iron and brass cannons. The Old Sow had been owned by the Nauvoo Legion. At one time the enemy was trying to capture it from the Saints. In order to hold it, the Saints buried it in the ground at Nauvoo, Illinois. An old Sow and her little brood of young ones happened along and noticed the fresh turf. Nature like, they started rooting in the loose soil and uncovered the cannon. From that time on the cannon has been known as the "Old Sow". The saints then hid the cannon in the Missouri River. It was brought to Utah in 1847 and had been used by the Saints in several of their celebrations.
In 1863 I was called by the Church to go the Missouri River for emigrants, I responded and drove a team of four yoke of oxen along with a company of sixty to eighty teams. Thomas Ricks was captain of the company. It took us five months to make the round trip, leaving in May and returning in September. At this time I was eighteen years of age. In 1864 I made another trip with Captain Israel Canfield of Ogden. We had a pretty good year except some trouble with the Indians. They stole some of our horses which were used only for riding. Each of our wagons were pulled by four yoke of oxen.
In 1865 the Indians were so hostile that the Church sent no teams back for emigrants. But in 1866 I went again, this time with Captain Norton Haight of Farmington. The South Platte River, at Julesburg where we crossed, was three-fourths of a mile wide and we ferried our stuff over by taking the best wagon boxes and lashing four of them together. Thus they served as a ferry boat, to carry our wagons and goods across the stream. This took about eight days getting the train of about ninety wagons across the stream. Our train was extra large, having some boys from Dixie who belonged to another train. After we got our wagons and goods over, the captain called for volunteers to swim the cattle across, which consisted of about eight hundred head. Eight men volunteered, I being one of them. After about four hours of hard labor by the entire company we got the cattle started through the water and we eight volunteers followed them, swimming behind them to keep them going. To do this we would take hold of the tails of the cattle that were behind and swim with them. When the ones we had hold of would swim into the bunch we would let go and grab a fresh hold on another animal as it was unsafe for us to go into the bunch of swimming animals. Had we done so, we were in danger of drowning. We were in the water about six hours before we got them across. At the time there were about 500 teams of Gentiles who were going West, but did not dare to attempt to cross the river.
We continued our journey on to a little village and landing place on the Missouri River, called Wyoming, which was about 50 miles down the river from the present city of Omaha and about six miles above Nebraska City. We were held at this place two or three weeks, waiting for European emigrants and resting our animals. While here I helped some of the farmers harvest their crops. There were not enough emigrants to complete the loads, so some wagons were loaded with telegraph wire; the first telegraph wire to go to Utah. When we were ready to leave, some apostates placed an attachment on the wire claiming that President Young was indebted to them. A lawsuit followed, and we found it was a mere scheme to hold us back until there would be so much snow that it would be impossible for us to get through the mountains. The court released us and we were soon on our journey.
When arriving at Fort Kearney our train was held up for some time by the United States soldiers. They said it was not safe to proceed because of the Indians who were so hostile, but we were finally allowed to go on our way by traveling with two trains together, making about 150 teamsters--all armed.
When we got about 25 miles west of Fort Kearney we came to a trading post called Plum Creek. I was driving the lead wagon, as I usually did, and I came upon a man lying stretched across the road. I soon discovered he was dead. He had a double barrel shotgun across his chest and two buckets of alcohol by his side. He had been killed by the Indians. I drove around him and the entire train followed me. We camped nearby for the night and some men were detailed to bury the man. The next morning after driving about 5 miles we found eleven men who had just been killed by the Indians. Their twelve wagons had been burned and a woman and two children were carried away. Proceeding Westward, we came to the banks of the Platte River where we camped near a little knoll. During the night we could see the Indians on the knoll and hear them splashing in the river as they were fording across. Sleep came to no one in the camp that night. The next morning the Indians were all gone. But we could see them across the river all traveling eastward. Since we were going westward, that was the last we saw of the Indians on our trip.
The distance from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake City was about 1050 miles. Upon one occasion my company made this journey, one way, in eight weeks. Ordinarily it took us about 5 months to make the round trip.
On December the 28, 1864 1 was married to Mary Oviatt of Farmington, Utah. In the winter of 1868 I camped in Weber Canyon working for the railroad to obtain money enough to buy a yoke of oxen. In May 1869 James Wilcox and I left for Cache Valley to look for a home. After looking over the place where Newton is now located, I decided that it was good enough for me. I went to Clarkston for a few days to visit, then returned to Farmington for my wife and belongings. We came back to Clarkston by ox team and lived in my wagon box while I got logs from the canyon with which to build a house in Newton. When the house was completed, it consisted of the rough log walls, dirt roof, and mother earth for a floor. I came to Newton in September 1869 and it has been my permanent residence ever since. I was one of the first settlers of this place and have been identified in all the moves and enterprises made for its advancement and progress.
At one time I was making a trip to Salt Lake City by ox team with a load of grain, taking it to Heber C. Kimball's mill to sell. When I returned home my wife's mother, Mrs. Oviatt from Farmington, came back with me to visit with her daughter. As we neared home, on the mountains west of Newton, one of my oxen gave out. I was compelled to leave Mrs. Oviatt and my outfit on the mountain and walk to Newton through the snow for a fresh team to finish my journey. After I had arrived home with Mrs. Oviatt and my load, I played the fiddle for a dance that night.
I accepted the doctrine of plural marriage, and was married September 21 1873 to Annie Clarke in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. I made the trip by ox team from Newton, Utah with Annie and her mother. The following winter was very hard, the snow being three feet deep on the level. Feed became so scarce that before spring I fed all the hay that I could get and all I the straw off the old sheds and still there was no spring in sight. In order to try and save the stock, I broke a trail through the deep snow to the south slope of the little mountain, about 1 ½ or 2 miles away. Here the snow had blown off and some dry grass could be found. I finally got my cattle and sheep through to the mountain and built a wind break by digging into the side of the mountain and covering it over with brush and there I stayed night and day trying to save my stock until spring. I finally saved some of them, but my losses were heavy.
In the spring of 1882 I was laid up with rheumatism for about six weeks, which I contracted due to exposure during the Morrisite War. The following autumn I was called on a mission to South Wales. Before leaving Salt Lake City I was married to my third wife, Maria Jensen on October 12, 1882. From Salt Lake City I left on my mission and my wife Maria returned to Newton. After serving about one year in the mission field I was released on account of poor health, returning home in the fall of 1883.
In May 1884 I took a squatter's right in the Big Meadows in the hills of Idaho north of Clarkston. Here I ran a dairy ranch, shipping butter and cheese, besides pasturing horses and cattle for other people. I owned this ranch for thirteen years, before I was finally run out by herds of sheep trailing through and eating all the feed.
In the years of 1885 and 1886 I was running cattle in the Big Meadows and looking after the family in Newton--also dodging the U.S. Marshals who were ever on my trail for practicing polygamy. I was finally caught and sentenced to six months in the penitentiary November 19, 1887. I was also fined $380.00 court costs. But I was released on good behavior in five months.
In May of 1888 I went to Star Valley by way of Stump Creek, coming in by Auburn to look over the country for a cattle ranch, but returned without buying. Going out by way of Crow Creek I killed a deer a little above where the Cousin's Ranch was located. I gave half of it to some Church cattle herders from Bear Lake and then proceeded on my homeward journey, going through Montpelier, Bear Lake and Logan Canyon. I remained home the rest of the year looking after the farm and stock.
In May 1889 Maria and I took 113 head of cattle to Teton Basin. When we got to the South Fork of Snake River, it being high, we had to ferry the wagons and swim the animals. After reaching the basin I took a squatter's right on a piece of land. We lived in my wagon box until I built a house. The house was made of logs hewn on both sides and plastered between, with a dirt roof and the ground for a floor. We used the skins of the elk I had killed for a carpet, laying them with the hair side up and pinning them to the ground. I also fenced part of the land. In the fall I had to drive the cattle out to Newton to feed for the winter. Maria stayed in St. Anthony with my brother, Henry, during the winter and came to Newton in the spring with Naum Curtis. In the spring of 1890 when my son John F. went back to the Basin he found that a survey had been made and my house was on another man's land (Owen Curtis). My claim was jumped, so I lost all of my previous year's labor.
In the summer of 1890 the Oregon Shortline R.R. was constructing a road from Ogden to Pocatello and points north. I killed over a hundred head of cattle and many sheep and pigs and furnished the railroad employees. The big Bothwell Canal in Bear River Canyon was also under construction and I furnished these employees with meat from my herds.
The seasons of 1891 to 1893 was spent on the farm in Newton and at my ranch in the Clarkston hills looking after stock for myself and the town folks. In 1894 I spent from May to November in the Mink Creek mountains where I cut 40,000 feet of logs and put the in the mill. Most of this I lost as the lumber was stolen while I was not able to look after it.
During 1895 I worked on the farm at home and the ranch in the Big Meadows and hauled some timber from the Mink Creek mill. The Big Meadows mentioned above are about 10 miles northwest of Clarkston, Utah.
In May 1891 I took my wife Annie and went back to Star Valley and bought a squatter's right and improvements. I then filed a homestead claim on it and settled on the same in the lower valley near where Freedom, Wyoming is now located. We then came back to Newton. Again in July of that same year I took Maria and went back to Star Valley with 200 head of cattle. I bought hay and hired a man to feed them through the coming winter. I have been running cattle at this same place from that time up to the period of this writing.
One day in the spring of 1894 when the marshals were after me, I went to West and found they had been there looking for me. Not finding me there, they had gone on to the ranch in the Big Meadows where Maria then lived. On learning this I started to look for them. When I got to Rick's ranch I got one of Rick's boys to go to my ranch with me. When we got to the ridge south of the house, I stayed there while the boy went to the house to took for Maria and the marshals; but he found no one. On learning of this I did not know what to do, so I decided to go to my bed which I had on a little mahogany ridge northwest of the house. This was a hiding place from the marshals. There I found Maria and the two children. The children were in bed and she was watching over them. I went out in the brush and located two horses and placing her on one I got on the other, and with the children we started for Michael Clarke's. We arrived there about daylight and from there I took her to Weston and I started for the Mink Creek mountains. Here I stayed in hiding for the summer.
One day my son, John F., went with me to the saw mill in Emigration Canyon on the Bear Lake road. Leaving him there I went and located my summer's camping ground. Then I showed him the location and told him he could find me there if he should want me. I had to make two trips with my horse to pack my supplies to camp. There being no water near my camp, I got my supply for me and my horse from a snow drift which lasted until sometime in August. While at this camp until August I cut about 40,000 feet of saw logs. Then in August I moved down to the sawmill. There I got a team and wagon and started hauling logs to the mill.
One day while loading logs, the top log rolled on my hand pinning it between the log and the bottom one and it held me fast. Oliver, my ten-year-old son was with me and I sent him for the ax and with my free hand chopped the other one loose. I finally got all my logs to the mill yard and had them sawed. But I lost nearly all the lumber, depriving me of another summer's work.
While I was at my summer camp in Mink Creek mountains, Annie, my second wife, was arrested by the marshals and taken to Ogden. Her father went with her, but she was released on account of it being an Idaho offense and Utah had no jurisdiction over it. The case was dismissed. She had given birth to a little child and that was the cause of the arrest. She named him Archie. In July 1896 I moved Maria to Star Valley where she lived for a number of years, later moving her again to Newton where she spent the remainder of her life.
During the year of 1897 I was kept busy looking after my three places located at Star Valley, the Big Meadows, and in Newton, Utah. I also owned forty acres of land in Idaho near Weston. Hay was my main crop. I also raised some wheat and oats in Newton. The season was earlier in Newton than the other places so I would start to hay there first, then go to Weston and from there to Star Valley. I put up 200 tons of hay in Newton, 50 tons in Weston, and several tons in Star Valley. I would drive cattle to Star Valley in the spring and then back to Newton in the fall to winter over. I kept this up for several years. I bought cattle with what money I could spare, and often with some borrowed money I would buy calves and yearlings to keep the range stocked. In doing this I always had a herd to drive out in the spring and feed on the Star Valley range. In the fall I would select what I wanted to sell and a few to milk during the winter and drive them to Newton to feed. I continued this process for several years. Sometimes it would be late in the fall and the snow was deep and the weather extremely cold, which made it very unpleasant as well as very uncomfortable to do the driving.
In 1899 I was chosen first counselor to Bishop William H. Griffin, being ordained a high priest and set apart on February 28, 1899 by Apostle George Teasdale. In that capacity I labored for about 4 years.
In 1901 while working on the L.D.S. church in Freedom, I fell from the square of the building about 14 feet and struck on the floor joist, breaking three ribs close to my spine. This injury has caused me a lot of suffering ever since when lying down and in certain positions while working. Since that time I have not been able to lay on my left side. Soon after this accident I was kicked by a stallion which also broke a rib and caused severe suffering. Later in life I fell from a header box and broke my left leg below the knee, while unloading some roots of apple trees, which caught my clothing and pulled me out.
In 1902 my son, Philip, and I drove about 200 head of cattle to Star Valley, going through the Mink Creek mountains in May. The snow was three to four feet deep so it made it impossible to get a wagon through. I sent Oliver, another son, back with the wagon and around by Soda Springs. With great difficulty Philip and I worked the cattle through the deep snow covered mountains. But in doing this, through over exertion and exposure, I contracted a cold which developed into spotted fever. By the time we got to Fairview, Wyoming three days later I was so sick I had to leave the cattle and go on to Afton. Here I had a rest and refreshments at Bishop Lows' and then traveled on 25 miles to Freedom. Arriving at this place I went to bed and stayed for several weeks. Much of the time I knew nothing. I became so bad that my life was despaired of. My wife, Mary and daughter, Ruth, came from Newton to be with me. Through the help of the Lord and their attention, I got over the fever, but was almost helpless for some time. It did me some good, however, for from that time I was cured from a stomach trouble (indigestion) from which I had suffered for the past sixteen years.
In February 1926 I had a wrestle with a bull and got the worst of it. He broke four ribs and bruised me quite badly, which caused severe pain and suffering for several weeks. In September of the same year, while I was driving some cattle over near Malad on the highway, my horse became tangled in some loose wire left there by the county workmen. She began jumping and pitching and became so tangled in the wire that it threw me down. In the fall I struck my head, cutting a large gash in it, and it knocked me unconscious for some time. When I found the horse she was standing down the road about 40 rods with one hind leg sawed completely off, bone and all. So I had to shoot her.
On the fourth of February 1927 I fell from the loft of the barn about 10 feet and hit on some ice and frozen ground, bruising some of my old bumps and my right hip. I thought my hip was broken and for about 15 days I had to lay on my stomach whenever I laid down, and kneel on my knees when I was up.
I served as president of the Y.M.M.I.A. [Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association] at one time, also as Supt. of the Sunday School. At one time I was road supervisor and several times I have served as home missionary.
On the 24th of July in 1924 I was called to drive a covered wagon and my yoke of oxen in the big Centennial parade held at Logan, Utah. On several occasions since that time I have driven my oxen in the parades given in honor of Pioneer Day and different celebrations. In 1929 1 drove my team in the celebration commemorating the opening of the Ogden aerial field at Ogden, Utah. After driving my ox team on the streets of Ogden in the parade, I was taken to the aerial port about 2 miles South of Ogden City in an automobile. There I was transferred to an airplane and was soon riding through the air at the age of 84.
I am still enjoying life and have good health with the exception of minor troubles resulting from the former accidents mentioned in the foregoing history.
* * *
John Jenkins died 19 December 1936.
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