Biographical History of John McCormick Wiser (continued)
The following is taken from the following website: http://www.alpinecity.org/about.history.html [History of Alpine, Utah, previously called Mountainville].
“In early September 1850, the William Wordsworth family and six others John Wiser, Charles S. Peterson, Caleb Sherman, John McDonald, George Patten and William Morgan Clyde (the latter two being single men) ‑ started for Utah Valley. They followed an old Indian trail, crossed the divide between the two valleys and traveled northeast. The farther they went the more water and dark rich loamy soil they found. They settled on the northwest side of a knoll, about in the middle of the extreme north end of Utah valley, and commenced to prepare for winter.
The men started building homes and getting ground cleared for farming. With their crude implements, it was quite a job to plow the soil and plant fall wheat, but food was scarce.
Clothing was very sparse. It was made from bed ticking, canvas, blue‑denim or anything they could get. A few of the pioneers brought sheep and cattle with them. The children herded the animals that fed on the tall grass. From the sheep's wool, the women spun fine yarn for clothing and the hides made warm coats. The cows gave the much‑needed nourishment by way of milk and meat. Some of the hides were tanned into leather and made into boots, shoes and other articles. The untanned hides were called rawhide, and many were cut into strips and woven together as lacings for beds in place of unattainable bed springs, or chair bottoms and other furniture. The strips were also braided into ropes.
During the warm weather, most of the children went barefoot, even to church and school. There were very few shoemakers, so those who had shoes made them last as long as possible. One man traded a large piece of ground for a pair of boots. Another traded a good farm for fifteen pounds of beef.
Soon after the settlers arrived in Mountainville in 1850, the census taker paid them a visit. His records showed a total of twenty‑nine persons, fourteen male and fifteen female, ranging from one to sixty years of age. There were three farmers, two laborers, Charles S. Peterson ‑ a blacksmith, William Wordsworth ‑ a fisherman, George Patton ‑ a logger, and Roswell Stevens ‑ a hunter. [The dates on the Utah census pages are mostly in October of 1851, with an enumeration date of April 1st, 1851, this would account for John McCormick Wiser being listed as a single person on the census even though we know by September 1st, 1851, he had married Martha McKinney Frost (widow of Harmon Jackson Akes and George Washington Langley). They married in the Spring of 1851 at Big Cottonwood Canyon, so it must have been after April 1st, 1851. In the census, John is living with the William Wordsworth family as is his future wife, and her three living children she had with George Washington Langley].
At the time of the census, the community had begun construction of six homes. Being so late in the season and with an early winter settling in, most of the cabins weren't finished, and the people had to live in their wagons and dugouts in the side of the knoll the first winter.
A typical cabin was built of logs hauled from the canyons. The walls were about seven feet high.
Cracks were chinked up with mud and dried grass. Roofs were split poles covered with willows, brush, rushes or whatever was available, then covered with six or eight inches of dirt. Often the rain and melting snow leaked through. The doors were quilts, hides or anything they could hang up until they were able to make a door of wooden slabs, hung with wooden pegs, or strips of leather for hinges. Small windows were covered with hides or other material. A rock and sod fireplace was built in one end of the room to provide for heat, cooking, and light.
Furniture was made from hand‑hewn logs and wooden boxes the settlers had brought with them. Some beds were made of poles or slabs laced with strips of hides, topped with straw, grass, or cat tail ticks. Occasionally even a wagon box was turned upside down. Fortunate was the pioneer who had been able to bring a bed or other furniture across the plains. Buffalo robes and other tanned skins, procured from the Indians, supplemented their meager bedding supply.
Of the first settlement, all were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints. The settlers held their church meetings at the home of their leader, William Wordsworth.
The first white birth in Mountainville was Sarah Ann Wiser, arriving February 26,1852. She died the following year in Draper of whooping cough.”
(John’s biographical history will be continued in future newsletters).
Ancestry.com recently added a large family history database. There were a number of interesting references to our Wiser family that I found and will share in the next few newsletters. Here is the first example:
Some Things about Coventry-Benton, New Hampshire. Whitcher, William F., Woodsville, NH, 1905. From page 23; “The census of 1790 gives the population of the town as 80. There seems to have been no hurry on the part of pioneer settlers in locating in the north part of the town, which, however, subsequently became, and still remains, the most important section of the township. The forests were heavy, the soil was in the main rocky, the surface was hilly, the slope of the land was to the north, and the section was without roads, and miles removed from the settlements in the south and west part of the town, and from the center of North Country life at Haverhill. One of the characters of the section during the early part of the last century, Ben Wiser, who lived by fishing, hunting and his wits, and many of whose stories and sayings are still remembered by, page 24; the older people, once remarked of North Coventry: “When the Almighty made the world, he made a will. He gave over all the country east of Swiftwater to the fowls of the air and the wild beasts, and the Whitchers, Tylers, Howes and Marstons, who broke that will, will never prosper.” There was, however, some degree of prosperity, but it was prosperity won by dint of the sternest sacrifice and the most unremitting toil.” Coventry changed its name to Benton in 1840, and is just east of Haverhill, New Hampshire.
Please accept our condolences to those who recently lost family members.
OBITUARY: Fayetteville GA Citizen; Margaret Ann Adams, 82, Fayetteville, Margaret "Marge" Ann Adams [ancestry to Benjamin Wiser, mother-Eileen I. Moran McIntyre, Matilda Ann Gregory Moran, Matilda Ann Wiser Gregory, Samuel Wiser, Benjamin Wiser], 82, Fayetteville, died Oct. 11, 2003. She was a member of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church where she served as greeter and a Eucharist Minister. She was also active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Services were at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church with the Rev. Father John Walsh and Deacon Don Kelsey officiating. Interment was at Westminster Memorial Gardens, Peachtree City. Survivors include sons, Bob and Holly Adams, and Bill and Vicki Adams, all of Fayetteville; daughters, Pat and Skip Flessner, Emmitsburg, Md., and Nancy and Bruce Dansbury, Langhorne, Pa.; 12 grandchildren; and a brother, Bill and Betty McIntyre, Sacramento, Calif. Memorial donations may be made to the Southwest Christian Hospice, 7225 Lester Road, Union City, GA 30291 or the St. Vince de Paul Society, in care of Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Carl J. Mowell & Son Funeral Home, Peachtree City, was in charge.
Thanks for any suggestions in regards to our family newsletter. Please contact me at or at 6 Baton Rouge, Roswell, NM 88201, or at (505) 623-2534.