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History of John McCormick Wiser


John McCormick Wiser, son of Samuel Wiser and Elizabeth Babcock Wiser, was born in the State of New York on the 22nd. of June 1826. His father died in 1834 in the State of New York where the family lived when he, John, was a child. There were five boys and three girls in the family: Amanda, Temperance, Ezra, John, Samuel, Matilda Ann, William Henry and Albert Henry. (The youngest child, Albert Henry, may have been the son of Mother's second marriage.) After his father's death, his Mother married again to another Wiser. (May have been Theodore). They moved to JoDavies County, Illinois, where the Mother died, 1839, while the children were still young. John went to Iowa and lived with Charles Morgan and family. The children were separated and he lost all trace of them.

While living at the Morgan home, he helped clear the land of rock, driving a four horse cart as did the others. He helped to get out logs and hauled them to the sawmill also with the same equipment. Inspite of work, he had time for a few pranks the most outstanding one was on Halloween when he took a buggy apart and carried it piece by piece to the top of the barn and put it together on the ridge pole.

He married Sarah Ann Silsbee, born in 1828 in Jackson County, Iowa, on the 22nd of February, 1849. Sarah died December 27, 1849 at childbirth. The baby died also. John then joined a company of miners and came west on horse-back, arriving in Salt Lake City in the autumn of 1850, intending to spend the winter there and continue on to California gold fields in the spring. Calif Sheriman, a Mr. Lindsay and Charles Morgan, a son of the man in Iowa with whom he lived were in the company. They boarded in Salt Lake that winter with Mrs. William Empy.

John became converted to "Mormonism" and joined the Church December 6th, 1850 and remained in Utah. In the spring of 1851, he married Martha McKinney Frost (widow of the late George Langley) at Cottonwood Canyon, at the home of her sister Margaret Rawlins. They lived in Cottonwood a short time, then in Draper and from there to Alpine (Mountainville) where their first baby, Sarah Ann was born February 26, 1852. A branch of the Church was organized here on February 10, 1852. They moved back to Draper for the winter where the baby died in March 1852 of whooping cough. Then they returned to Alpine where they lived until they moved to Richmond in June 1860. They lived at the old Fort in Richmond and his name is written on the log of the Fort.

While living at Alpine during the summer or 1856, they had no bread for a period of six weeks. Many other families were much longer without flour. It was the summer after the grasshoppers took their crops, so they did not have flour enough to last them until the next crop. They lived on greens and the men became so weak that they reeled when they walked. The oakbrush and all trees were covered with sugar lumps. Grandma gathered the sugar and cooked it with whey and made vinegar which she served with the greens. They had to live mostly on pigweed and nettles. There were few sego bulbs and they were so tired of nettles and pigweed, and they were getting scarce, that the children were sent into the canyon to find some greens but there were none. Then three days later they went again and found the hillsides lined with tender green wild onions, which the children picked and ate raw. Then they gathered and filled their pans and aprons with the onions and took them home and all enjoyed the change. Another time when they were so badly in need of food, fish came down the Provo River in such quantities that the people could scarcely cross the river. Grandpa got a farrel of fish. There was plenty for everyone. They boiled their fish and ate them with their greens and enjoyed them very much.

At this period, his little daughter Amanda, two and a half years old, would ask at every meal "Is there no bread?" On being told that there was none, she would say "Then please pass the greens." Never a word of complaint from either of the three children. (Olive was a nursing baby).

The grain ripened sooner in Draper than it did in Alpine, so Aunt Margaret Rawlins wrote for grandfather to go over to Draper and get some of their wheat. The wheat ripened that year in patches as fast as they could cut it with a sickle. Grandfather walked to Draper across the mountain trail about five miles, cut some grain, took it to mill, had it ground into flour, and then carried the flour home on his back to save the horses, along with a batch of biscuits that Aunt Margaret had made for the children, so that they would not have to wait for bread while their Mother baked. When the bread was placed upon the table, the eager children counted the biscuits and finding there was enough for themselves and their two neighbors to have one biscuit each, they took some over to the neighbors who lived a mile away, before eating any themselves as the neighbors had been longer than the Wiser's without flour.

Grandfather was among others who went to meet the Handcart companies in 1856, and helped bring them into Salt Lake.

He worked at building adobe houses for the soldiers of Johnston's army who came into Utah in June 1858 and founded Camp Floyd on the 26th of June, about thirty-six miles south of Salt Lake City. With the first wages he received for this work, he bought among other things, a pink calico dress for his little daughter Matt, as she wanted one so much just like her sister Nina's that a neighbor had given her.

While living in Richmond, he helped to pioneer that place. He helped to build the school house which was built east of Morgan Anderson's. In Richmond he owned his home and a city lot in town, a small farm, a small orchard consisting of cherry trees, pears, green gages, and apples, which he kept for several years (for the fruit), after he moved to Lewiston.

He moved to Lewiston in the spring of 1872 and took up a 160 acre homestead there. He worked during the summer on the farm and partly constructed his house and also had time to help others. They returned to Richmond for the winter, but came back the next spring, 1873, and remained permanently. Lewiston First Ward at this time took in all the territory between the Bear and Cub Rivers, from Riverdale on the North to the Southern boundary line of Lewiston. The Ward was organized Oct. 20th., 1872. William H. Lewis was presiding Bishop.

The Wiser house was finished in the winter of 1873. The family lived there all summer, then in the winter grandfather went to High Creek Sawmill and got siding board and split it for lath. He lathed and plast-ered the house and grandma cleaned up and got ready for meeting on Sunday. Meetings were held there one winter.

John helped to build the Logan Temple, the Union Pacific Railroad, the first public building in Lewiston, which was used as Church and school house; the First Ward Church, later also the Opera House. He helped to build the Cub River canal and also later on helped to widen it. He worked with "Ike" Bright and Isaac Smith. The weather was so cold at this time that they built a dugout in the side of the canal for their camp while they were working. He also did some freighting into Montana.

He went on a Mission to England, August 24, 1880, but due to illness he came home in Septenber of 1881. He sent Frank Coley, a boy of ten years, home with Elder Goddard in October 1881. While in England, he paid for the boys schooling, gave him a home with him in Utah and kept him. When Frank was old enough to work out he worked and sent the money for his people to come to Utah. He was later leaded in the mines and died July 10th., 1893.

Grandfather and Grandmother spent several summers on a ranch in Riverdale, probably about 1887 - 1890. He died after several years ill-ness of dropsy, at his home in Lewiston on the 25th of July 1897 and was interred in the Lewiston Cerietery.

He was the father of ten children and raised as his own Martha and Peninna Langley, daughter of his wife by a former marriage. Monday, 27-Jan-2003 21:45:57 MST