WILLIAM MORLEY BLACK

1826-1915

 

SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF WILLIAM MORLEY BLACK
-autobiography-

The son of John and Mary Cline Black 
born 11 February 1826
in Vermillion, Richland County, Ohio


My father was a small independent farmer owning 40 acres of rich land situated in the heart of a forest. He was methodical in all his labors, inclined to be mechanical and gave close attention to his farm, which yielded ample support for himself and family of wife and eight children--four sons, Martin Luther, William Morley, Benjamin, and John; and four daughters, Sarah Ann, Rachel, Mary and Catherine, I being the third child in the family.

Father owned a lathe and turned legs for tables and bedsteads, also wooden bowls, and he was noted for the excellence of his homemade axe hilves. Educational facilities were meager and primitive. It was 2 1/2 miles from our home to the little country school house. During the winter as a rule we had three months schooling, in which we were taught reading, writing, arithmetic, and spelling. I recall only two winters when I attended school. I had but one book--Webster's American Dispenser--during the two winters I learned it off by heart, then passed the book to the younger children. I think my sister, Rachel's family still have it in their possession.

When I was eleven years old our neighbor, a man whom we had always respected, by name John Potts, got into trouble, and my father went his bonds in the sum of $500. When the trial came on Potts could not be found, and it took our farm to pay the bond. At that time Illinois, a new State, was widely advertised as a place where good homes were obtained more cheaply. Father and three of our neighbors moved into Lawrence County, Southern Illinois, and purchased homes near where Bridgeport now stands. It was a wide level, beautiful country, with groves of timber, with stretches of prairie, with cold springs, and streams of clear water abounding with fish. The drawback was an occasional swamp giving rise to malarial fevers. And here, after two years of hard labor in building a new home our first great sorrow came to us in the death of our father.

My brother Martin, being the first-born the responsibility of managing the home rested on him, while I aided by hiring out and giving the family my wages. For two summers I worked at the brickyard, getting 37cents a day. Winters I hired to do farm work, getting five dollars a month. When seventeen years of age the family consented to let me strike out for myself. I went northward and stopped in the vicinity of where Peoria now stands. The first summer after leaving home I worked on a farm, getting eight dollars a month, which was considered good wages. The second summer I made an agreement with Mr. Brockman, a contractor and builder. I worked two summers with him. He was to pay me six dollars a month and teach me the trade of masonry. I worked one year when Mr. Brockman died, which ended that venture. In 1843, a little town called Cuba was started. I secured a town lot and began to gather material to build me a house. At that time I had made the acquaintance of a family by the name of Banks. I was temperate, studious, industrious, and saving, and during the summer erected mainly by my own labor a tidy two-roomed house, and in February 1846 I married Margaret Ruth Banks.

I took quite an interest in politics, and in 1848 ran for sheriff on the Democratic ticket and was elected. In the winter of 1847-9, at the news of the discovery of gold in California created quite a fever in our town, and I caught the fever. In the spring of 1849 a joint company was formed to go to the gold field. I resigned the sheriff's office and paid one hundred dollars into the company, which entitled me to passage across the plains to California.

God moves in a mysterious way to bring about the salvation of man, can be appropriately inserted here. Up to this date the subject of this sketch does not remember to have had his attention called towards the strange and unpopular people with whom in the near future he was to cast his lot, and to whom he was to give his loyalty and the sacrifice of an unselfish and active life.

On the first of April, 1849, twelve citizens of the town of Cuba met together and formed a joint stock company, each member paying one hundred dollars into the treasury to be used in purchasing teams and outfit for a journey of two thousand miles through an unsettled Indian territory. We formed as it were a community compact for our defense and protection. The agreement bound us together until we should reach the gold fields. And one could withdraw from the company, but in so doing they forfeited the capital they had invested in it. William Maxwell was elected captain. I was selected as teamster. On the 3rd of April, with hearts and high ambitions we kissed our wives, children and parents goodby and took the trail for the Eldorado of the west.

One hundred miles from Cuba brought us to Nauvoo on Saturday, and we rested the Sabbath. I strolled the streets of the city. Many of the houses were vacant. Those that were inhabited were told that the builders of the city were a lawless set who for their crimes had been driven out and beautiful and substantial homes had become a prey almost without price to a company of French Icarians who purchased from the mob at low prices the homes of the exiled Mormons. Here we crossed the Mississippi River and followed westward on the roads made three years previously by the fleeing fugitives from Nauvoo. We crossed the Missouri river at Omaha and rested a few days until we were joined by other gold seekers, and we numbered 75 men and 30 wagons. William Maxwell was accepted by all as captain.

The journey to Salt Lake Valley was a prosperous one. The most lively incidents were the days when for sport we hunted buffaloes, thousands of them were shot down for the mere fun of the thing. No one seemed to consider that they were the property of the Red Men, and that they by generations of inheritance claimed them as we claim our marked and branded cattle. Sad indeed was it for the Sioux nation when the white man made a thoroughfare through their well-stocked hunting grounds.

On the 24th of July we entered the Salt Lake Valley, emerging from Emigration canyon. We were all on tiptoe anxious to see what kind of civilization the Mormons would exhibit to us. Descending from the bench lands we soon encountered well-cultivated fields that extended westward in evidently small compact holdings to the very doors of their homes. Every field was irrigated by a newly made irrigation canal, and the scarcity of weeds gave evidence of careful culture. Passing through their city I saw the marking of several blacksmith shops, but not a sign of a saloon, or even a barber pole, tavern or hotel could I see. But in the northern and thickest settled part of the town we passed a large brush bowery constructed evidently as a screen from the sun and used for public gatherings, and today it looked as if the entire community, both old and young, male and female, were assembled here. At first I thought we had lost our reckoning and this was the Sabbath Day, but this could not be, as [we thought] the Mormons were an un-Christian, lawless set and doubtless paid no heed to the Sabbath. Passing the city we camped on open ground, on the bank of a small stream called the Jordan. Across the street opposite us stood a low two-roomed house. The laughter of children announced to us that the inmates of the house had come. I met the father whom the family called Uncle Buck Smithson. I asked if myself and companions could get supper with them. He hesitated and finally said, "I am fearful our simple supper would not please you gentlemen. We can give you a supper of milk, meat and pigweed greens, but bread we have none. You see the flour we brought with us a year ago has given out, we have not had bread for three weeks, and have no hopes of any until our harvest comes off."

I gave him a pan of flour and in return partook of as relishable a meal as I have ever eaten. The dirt floor was cleanly swept, in fact everything, though crude and primitive, was neat and tidy. When seated at the table Uncle Buck said he wanted them to be quiet and then he gave thanks for the ample supply of food and asked the Father to bless it to our use. This was the first time in my life that I had heard a blessing asked on our daily food, and this prayer fell from the lips of an uncultured Mormon.

Toward evening I met another Mormon, a Mr. William Wordsworth. He was a man of pleasing address, evidently well-educated. He explained to me the nature of the gathering in the bowery. Two years ago today the pioneer company of the Mormon people, the fugitives from Nauvoo, entered this uninhabited and almost unknown valley and their thankfulness was enhanced by the hope that they were beyond the reach and power of their old enemies who had cruelly mobbed and persecuted them for the last fifteen years.

The suffering and martyrdom of their prophet was all news to me and I wished to know the nature of all their suffering. To my surprise Mr. Wordsworth invited us to attend their church services on the morrow. I accepted the invitation and he promised to call for us. Sunday, July 25, 1849 is a day ever to be remembered by me. Mr. Wordsworth called early and after chatting ten or fifteen minutes with members of the company, and again extending an invitation to us all to attend their church, he and I walked together to the bowery. We secured seats near the front of the congregation. On the west was a raised platform of lumber on which were seated some twenty of their leading elders, including President Brigham Young. Under the shade of the bowery, seated on neatly slab benches were the choir and the congregation.

Services opened with singing and prayer, and the sacrament (bread and water) of the Lord's Supper was blessed and passed to all the people. Then a man of noble, princely bearing addressed the saints. As he arose Mr. Wordsworth said, "That is Apostle John Taylor, one of the two men who were with our prophet and patriarch when they were martyred in Carthage jail."   The word "apostle" thrilled me, and the powerful sermon and testimony that followed filled my soul with a joy and satisfaction that I never felt before, and I said to Mr. Wordsworth, "If that is Mormonism, then I am a Mormon. How can I become a member of your church?" He answered, "By baptism." I said, "I am ready for the ordinance." He replied, "Do not be in a hurry. Stay here and get acquainted with our people. Study more fully the principles of the Gospel, then if you wish to cast your lot with us, it will be a pleasure to me to baptize you."

That night I slept but little. I was too happy to sleep. A revelation had come to me, and its light filled my soul. My desire and ambition for gold was swept away. I had found the pearl of great price and resolved to purchase it, let it cost what would.

After a few days rest the company pulled on for California, but another man drove my team. I gave them my all and in exchange received baptism at the hands of Levi Jakeman. I had lost the world and become a Mormon. "He that putteth his hand to the plow and turneth back is not worthy of me." The parting with Captain Maxwell and company as they continued journey was a little painful. Their warm, cheery goodbyes touched me in a tender place as neighbors and companions for 1400 miles on the plains they had become dear to me, and the parting turned my thoughts back to home and loved ones, and a shade of homesickness rested on me. I stood alone with strangers, but Uncle Buck Smithson saved the situation and strengthened my young faith with brotherly sympathy, inviting me to make my home with them, and he contrived to set me to work, which is a sure antidote for the blues. My first week's work in Utah was running an "Armstrong" mowing machine (scythe) for Uncle Buck, cutting wire grass on the Jordan bottoms. At the end of the week I found employment as a stone mason in helping to lay foundation of the Council House, the first public building erected in Salt Lake City. Daniel H. Wells was the superintendent. He was kind and sociable and soon knew my history, and all his life he manifested an interest in me. When the Council House was ready for the carpenters the masons were started on a tithing building, an adobe structure erected where the Hotel Utah now stands. While laboring on its walls I became well-acquainted with President Brigham Young, as he visited us almost daily, carefully noting the quality of our work. By nature he was an architect and builder. During the summer I learned that Bishop Lorenzo D. Young was going back to the States on Church business. I thought it was a good chance for me to return for my family, and I also felt anxious to carry the glad tidings of the Gospel to my relatives, but I felt impressed to ask President Young's counsel, and did so. He listened attentively to my expressions, for a few moments he was silent as if absorbed in thought, then speaking very slowly and quietly, he said, "I think you had better stay here until you get better acquainted with us, and the principles of the Gospel, possibly you may not like us, and should you return now your friends might reject the Gospel and you being young in the faith might by their influence be weaned from it. I would advise you to stay longer."

That settled it with me. So far all that I had met with was in harmony with my feelings and judgment. But a little test was coming. We had finished the tithing building and for want of better work I went to hauling wood. A Brother Wooly let me have a yoke of oxen and a wagon, and boarding me, giving me half the wood I hauled. It took three days to get a load. As I earned a load for which I generally got $8.00, making $1.25 a day, and that was considered good wages. One day President Wells told me that I had been selected as one of a party to go to Sanpete Valley and aid in making a settlement. I did not wish to go, as I had been told that it was a cold frosty place, too high in altitude for agricultural purposes and I felt that my condition would not be bettered. Again I could not see just what right the president had to call me. I understood and expected them to guide me in spiritual matters, but this was of a temporal nature and beyond their jurisdiction. These were my thoughts and this pioneer call was the first trial to my faith. I am pleased to say the pause was only for a moment. On reflection God's dealings with Noah, Abraham, Moses, Lehi, and Nephi was strong evidence that reasonings and traditions were incorrect. Was not God the author of the world as well as the Gospel? If he builded the earth, why not govern it? If it requires union of spirit and matter to bring salvation to man, then it must be that the priesthood had a right to direct in material or temporal things as well as in spiritual things.

The next time I met Brother Wells I told him I was willing to go to Sanpete or any where else. I want my descendants who may read this sketch to bear in mind that I was a new disciple and my mind was still roped in the ideas and thoughts of sectarianism, and obedience to the requirements of the priesthood was a new doctrine to me. But the call set me to thinking and studying, and led to an increase in knowledge. Today I cannot recall the exact date of my starting to Sanpete, but some time in February 1850 in company with Ephraim Hands, William Potters, and four others the start was made. There were no settlements south of Salt Lake City until we reached Provo, where the settlers were living in a fort. Our progress was slow on account of the muddy roads from the melting of snow and frequent storms that came at that season of the year. At the crossing of the Spanish Fork Creek as we were moving in a narrow road and through heavy willows a troop of Indians appeared on the opposite bluff and opened fire on us. I was driving the last team and I am free to confess that I halted as soon as I could. Ephraim Hanks, the leading spirit of the company, stepped fearlessly to the front, and in Spanish held a parley with the Red Men who were under the leadership of Josephine, a reputed half-brother of Walker, the king of the Mountain Utes. The Indians refused to let us advance unless we would pay tribute. We gave one sack of flour and three sacks of corn meal as a peace offering, which was in harmony with President Young, who said it was cheaper to feed them than fight them. It was by President Young's wisdom and foresight that Hanks was along. He was by nature an athlete of wonderful power, he loved excitement and danger, qualities that gave him influence with the Indians on this occasion. They had the advantage of us and had they continued the onslaught we could not have escaped the whistling of the bullets, which was new music to me, and I was glad when the music ceased and we received no further harm than a scare and the loss of four sacks of possessions.

The trip was a hard one, mud and bottomless roads in the valleys and over the divide at the head of Salt Creek the snow was from two to four feet deep for several miles. We could move two wagons at a time. I have often thought how wise it is that we cannot see the end from the beginning, for often the difficulties would be greater than our faith and we would fail to make the progress that we do. After two weeks of hard struggling we reached Manti on Sunday and received the heartiest of welcomes, old and young turned out to greet us and in a short time all of our little company was made to feel at home with old acquaintances. I alone was a stranger without kin or acquaintance, but a warm welcome awaited me. Father Morley who presided at Manti came and asked if I had friends to stop with, I told him I was an entire stranger. "Well, then, come and stop with me and be my boy." I went. For two years my home was with Father Morley and I learned to love him as my own father. No bargain was ever made. I never asked for wages and never received any. I worked at whatever was most needed. As harvest approached we saw the need of a grist mill, as there was none within a hundred miles of us. Phineas W. Cook and I undertook to build one. We went to the canyon, cut and hewed the timber, then the ward turned out and hauled it to the fort, then with broad-ax and whip-saw we prepared and erected the frame of the mill. In the meantime Charles Shumway and John D. Chase had built a sawmill just below us. From them we got lumber to finish our mill, and President Young came to our assistance by furnishing a pair of Utah homemade burs. With this help by Christmas our little mill was running, which proved a great blessing to the infant settlement of Sanpete.

All this time I had made my home at Father Morley's. From him I learned that Adam and Eve were married before Adam's fall, hence marriage is for eternity as well as time, and a union until death do you part is of human origin. Then he pointed to Abraham and Jacob who founded the house of Israel. Then he cited the revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith which says, "I reveal unto you a new and everlasting covenant, and if you abide not that covenant then are ye damned, for all who will have a blessing at my hand shall abide the law that was appointed for that blessing." To my understanding at that time that meant plural marriage. I accepted it. I met a young lady of good family that pleased me and I pleased her. I told her of my wife and two children and of my desires to go and bring them to Utah. With this understanding and information she was willing to marry me, and in February 1851 I married Amy Jane Washburn, Patriarch Isaac Morley performing the ceremony.

When the work of building the grist mill was accomplished and no work of a pressing nature presenting itself the anxiety of going for my family began to press upon my mind. To bring that about I arranged with Abner Larry to go back to Green River and run a ferry during high water, then I would find some way to continue on to the states. We established the ferry, but the high water didn't come, and that enterprise failing I returned to Manti, working at haying and harvesting until October. I attended the October conference in Salt Lake City, and on the 7th, started east in company with Apostle Orson Hyde, Almon Babbitt and others numbering 25 men and seven teams. J.M. Grant was captain. I earned my passage by driving team and doing guard duty for a blind man, Leonard, we encountered one fearful stormy night. We camped near an encampment of Sioux Indians. In the early morning while the blizzard was raging our horses were stampeded and scattered. All hands turned out and rounded them up, but when morning light came Orson Hyde's mules were gone and were never recovered.

We made the trip in forty days, reaching the Missouri River on the evening of November 15. Rush ice was running in the river, making it dangerous crossing but Captain Grant with his usual energy rushed us across. By the time the last wagon was over it was dark so we camped. In the morning the river was frozen over and the boat was locked up. Severe storms followed and I had five hundred miles to travel by team, facing the storm and bitter cold of a severe winter. On the 18th of December I stopped at a hotel, putting up my team at a livery stable. After supper I went to the livery and gave my horses a feed of oats. The barn was built with an alley running from the front door to the rear, with stalls and good manger and feed boxes on each side of the alley. At the rear end of the alley was a well on a level with the barn floor. When not in use the lid closed the well. This evening it had been forgotten and left open. I knew nothing of the well, and wishing to wait until the horses had eaten their grain, to keep warm I walked back and forward in the alley. In one of the beats in the dark I walked into the well, falling on the farther edge on my left side. The fall fractured three of my ribs, causing me much suffering. I was so anxious to get on that I continued my journey though every jolt of the wagon gave me pain.

On the 20th of December I reached South Canton, and to my joy I found my wife Margaret and the children, Martin and Martha, well. She received me as one from the dead, though I had written to her, yet her friends had prophesied that I would never return. I will be brief in relating the outcome of my return. I was full of love and zeal for Mormonism, and my wife's parents were full of bitterness toward Mormonism. For a while, on account of my hurt I had received and the consequent weakness of my body, I said nothing to my parents-in-law about my having become a Mormon, but as soon as I could work without pain I felt it my duty to tell them. And one evening, in answer to a question of Mother Banks, I told them I had been baptized into the Mormon Church. My mother-in-law was wild with rage and abused me without stint. I was prepared for the outburst and calmly and kindly made explanations and tried to turn away her wrath with mild answers. Father Banks refused to talk further than to give me to understand that as a Mormon I was not welcome beneath his roof. Then they retired without bidding us goodnight.

There was no sleep for myself or Margaret that night. It was one of the sorrows of my life, it was not a trial, my faith was not shaken, I had received light and I knew my duty and resolved to do it. As daylight approached, I said, "You are my wife, and I love you, but I love God better. I am going to harness my horses and leave your father's roof. If you want to go with me, have your things ready, otherwise I will take Martin and leave you Martha, and bid you good-bye." At daylight I drew up to the door. Her bedding was tied up and everything packed and ready. I lifted her and the children into the wagon, wrapped them in quilts, for it was storming furiously. By her suggestion I drove past William Biere, who had married one of her school mates. They live two miles away. They were surprised and amazed but they received us kindly. We stayed the day, thankful for the hospitality, for it was one of the worst blizzards that I have ever seen. I shall never forget the day and the incidents. From that time on Margaret's trust in me was a great comfort, but I resolved to heed President Young's counsel, "Be a good boy and come back as soon as you can."

I had learned that the wheat crop last year in Illinois was so great that much of it was still unharvested, and early winter had stopped the machines. I rented a machine, collected a working crew, and taking my family went to what was called North Prairie and found a home for my wife and children while I spent the balance of the winter threshing. In the spring of 1852 I ran down to Cuba in Southern Illinois to see my mother, brothers and sisters. I was pained and surprised that they could not see the restored Gospel as I saw it. However I had the joy of seeing my brother Benjamin and my sister Rachel open their hearts to the Gospel message, and my dear aged mother was very friendly.

Returning called upon a Mr. John Brush who had written to me he had a contract to turnpike and grade seven miles of road. He wanted to go to California, hence he wanted me to help him build the road, then he would cross the plains with me. He felt sure we could clear $400 in the summer's work and offered to divide equally with me, but I declined. On reaching home at North Prairie I found a letter from a blind man, Leonard, waiting me. He wished to come to Burlington, Iowa. He had purchased a large stock of goods and wished me to buy the cattle and wagons needed to freight the goods to Utah. I cheerfully agreed to aid him as it provided a way and means for me to emigrate my family to the valleys. I purchased Leonard's goods, and about the first of April started for Zion. It was near the last of May when we reached Omaha, on the Missouri river. Here we formed connection with the 18th company, the last Mormon train of the season, James C. Snow captain. As he was not quite ready to go it was thought best for me, with twenty teams that were ready to move out to the Elkhorn, and there wait for the main company. We camped and waited until our patience was worn out. Leonard and all in camp urged me to go on. Under these conditions small and mostly men we were quick in moving and easily out traveled the large emigrant trains. We soon passed two of them. At Bush Hollow we overtook Captain Wimmer with 15 train. Here also we were overtaken by Apostles E. T. Benson and J. M. Grant, emigration agents. President Benson censured me sharply for running away, as he called it. President Grant eased the chastisement by wishing they had more men like Brother Black.

In the morning a council was held, and it was deemed wise to divide Captain Wimmer's Company, to be handled to advantage, so they added 20 wagons to mine, giving me forty and told us to go. We were prospered. On the 2nd of October we landed in Salt Lake City. I had worked hard for Brother Leonard and conducted his business successfully and looked for some remuneration, but he felt that he had done me a great favor in bringing my family. I threatened to sue him for my wages. He appealed to President Young, and I agreed to abide by President Young's decision. President Grant voluntarily appeared in my behalf and insisted that I should have at least three hundred dollars, but President Young said quietly to me, "You are young and strong and can live without the $300, but if Brother Leonard is required to pay that amount it will kill him dead, for he worships his gold. He is rich, and we need his help in sending missionaries to China. If you forgive him without recompense his heart will be warm and he will give liberally to the mission and the Lord will bless you." I saw the wisdom of this counsel and accepted it. In those days we were necessitated to haul with ox teams our tithing grain from remote parts of the territory, and we aimed to do that freighting so as to be at the general conference.

Fortunately I met several teams from Sanpete, and as the trouble with Brother Leonard compelled me to stay a few days. I got Amasa Marion to take Margaret and the children to Manti with him. Here it is proper to say Margaret had been baptized. She also knew that I had married Amy Jane and was prepared to meet the new conditions that my actions had brought on us. She accepted cheerfully her share of increased responsibilities that plural marriage brings to all who accept it.

After conference when the Leonard trouble was settled Brother Beal, who was rich enough to own a horse team, gave me a seat in his carriage, and then without a cent in my pocket I reached Manti, where father Washburn and family and friends gave me a hearty welcome, and Amy Jane placed in my arms little Tamer, the first fruit of my conversion to the Gospel. Father Washburn wishing to confine himself to his trade of tanning and shoemaking, offered to take me in as a partner. I to look after the farm and other labors that might come to us. I accepted the offer, and after resting two days I took an ox team and went to logging for a home. I had a wagon bed and a dugout in the side hill near where the temple now stands. Margaret and Amy Jane lived together cheerfully and our lives were happy and contented.

July 19, 1853 the Walker War commenced, and on October 4 John R. Warner and William Mills were killed near our grist mill, while Brother Mills was on duty as watchman or day guard, as the Indians had threatened to burn the mill. One morning Brother Mills, needing fire wood, took his team with him and it is supposed that Brother Warner filled the hopper with wheat, started the mill, then went a short distance around a point to a grove of timber, helping to load the wood when the Indians surprised and killed them. The wants of the people required the running of the mill and no one else understood the business. Martin Wood and myself were called to run it night and day until the people were supplied with flour, so we could pull down the mill and move it to town. Two men were put on guard in the day time and twelve men at night, and this continued until the first of November, when grinding ceased and we quit guarding entirely to rest a few days and then pull the mill down, but the Indians were evidently watching us, for on the 6th of November the mill was burned and everything pertaining to it was lost.

At that time Hamilton and Baxter were building a grist mill at Nephi. I moved Amy Jane to Nephi and worked for them during the winter. In the spring of 1854 I rented their mill for five years. I brought Margaret from Manti and we had the family together again. All my life when conditions would permit I have kept my families together. In union there is strength in families as well as nations.

For five years I stayed at the mill at Nephi and was greatly prospered, as the settlement grew the grists increased. There was little money in circulation, hence I received a heavy percent of my wages in wheat. In 1858 Johnson's Army came in and Camp Floyd was established. My wheat was turned to gold with a liberal profit.

October 26, 1859 I married Maria Hansen. In the spring of 1860 my lease was up on the Nephi mill. I formed a partnership with Bernard Snow and I moved to Ephraim in Sanpete Valley and helped Mr. Snow build a saw mill and we also built a large flouring mill. In all these labors I was blessed. I had a good home and a good farm at this time, the valuation of taxable property was $6000. I was happy and contented. But another move was awaiting me. At the Spring Stake conference in 1865 some families were called from Ephraim to go to Circle Valley and make a settlement. My name headed the list with a special charge to build a grist mill. Circle Valley was looked upon as a favored spot, and a rapid influx of settlers followed the call. A county was organized and a central city laid out. Edward Fulton was appointed district judge. I was elected county prosecuting attorney. Then suddenly came the Black Hawk war, with its suffering and sorrow. October 17th of this year brother Benjamin J. Black and my brother-in-law William F. Hite, who had recently come to the valleys, were killed by the Indians near Ephraim, and the settlers of Circle Valley for months were in a state of siege. We had raised a crop of wheat but had to go to Manti for grinding. When our flour gave out we boiled the wheat and ground it in coffee mills. All labor was paralyzed. Every able-bodied man was enrolled and had to take his turn in looking after the stock or in guarding the town.

This continued for about two years, and then President Young advised the breaking up and abandoning the exposed settlement. In April 1867 Circle Valley was abandoned. I moved to Beaver and not finding there employment I spent the month of June in peeling tan bark in company with my brother-in- law, Charles Van Vleet. We hauled tan bark to Parowan, 45 miles, exchanging it for produce, harness and leather. Then I found work in the Beaver grist mill owned by Thompson and Stewart. Finally I rented the mill for four years. I built up a good trade, so I prospered and bought two city lots and built a comfortable brick dwelling house at a cost of $2000. Then came a call for me to go to Dixie in the Southern country and take charge of President Snow's grist mill at Washington. I responded promptly to the call and my trade prospered when the wheat supply was abundant. I moved my wife Maria to Washington, leaving my other families at Beaver. But I wasn't content in having my families separated. It wasn't long until I sold out at Beaver and brought Margaret and Amy Jane to Washington.

I was broke up and unsettled in my feelings and when my four years contract with President Snow expired I moved to Long Valley and took up a small farm above Glendale and associated my labors with Elders Joseph W. and John R. Young. In the spring of 1873 John R. received word that his brother Joseph W., who was then president of St. George Stake was very sick. I saddled a horse and accompanied him to St. George. We reached the bedside of the loved one in time to witness to him our deep affection, but could not turn away the shaft of death. We stayed by his side until he passed away and aided in placing the mortal remains in their last resting place. He was a lovable man and very dear to us. John R.'s heart was so full of sorrow that he want quiet and solitude. As we returned home, at Virgin town we left the beaten road, and bearing northward plunged into the Kanarra forest. In our ride we discovered the breathing spring so called because it ebbs and flows like the ocean tides, yet it is situated on the mountain, at an elevation of 10,000 feet.

In 1873 President Young visited Kanab. In considering the circumstances of the people he thought their greatest need was a grist mill, and in a public meeting he called John R. Young to build one. Brother Young prevailed on James A. Leathead and myself to assist him. Brother Leathead and I went into the forest and hewed the timber while John R. and his boys and mine with our ox teams hauled the timber 25 miles to Kanab. It was a heavy stretch of sand dunes which had to be crossed, but every obstacle was surmounted. The mill was completed at a cost of $6000 in labor and material.

In 1874 President Young and George A. Smith visited Southern Utah and put forth their best efforts to organize the people into working companies called the United Order. Elder John R. Young was authorized to visit Kanab, Pahreah, Mt. Carmel and Glendale and establish working companies. To me the effect of those organizations was wonderful, those who joined the order consecrated all their wealth and they seemed baptized with a new zeal that filled their souls with energy, good will and brotherly love, while those who were opposed to it were filled with jealousy and hatred. The people sold their homes, and choosing a plot uncultivated three miles north of Mt. Carmel laid out a town and named it Orderville. It grew so rapidly and attracted so much attention that President Young sent Howard O. Spencer to preside over it. He was greatly beloved by the people, but in time he was superseded by Thomas Chamberlain, a young man of splendid financial abilities. He led the community from poverty to comfort, and under Brigham Young's watchful eye and counsel they were greatly prospered. I cast my lot with the Orderville community, consecrating my farm and teams and interest in the Kanab mill, in fact my earthly all was put in upon the altar, and I sacrificed in a cause that I believed was instituted for the good of the human family.

I was placed in charge of the boarding house with seven assistants. We prepared the food for the whole community, numbering at first 200 souls, but they increased to 600. We adopted system and method so that meals were served as regular as clockwork on economic lines. The hotel was a great success, no waste of substance, and eight persons served breakfast to a hundred families one year. I gave close attention to the management of the hotel. The work was confining, yet I was contented.

In 1871 I married Louisa Washburn, daughter of Abraham and Clarinda Washburn. My families lived together in Orderville and none to mar nor make afraid, we had good schools and well-attended meetings. Indeed life there was a spiritual feast. In 1876 Samuel Mulliner joined us. He owned a grist mill at Lehi, which he consecrated to the order. I was sent to run it. I remained a Lehi about two years, then returned to Orderville.

At this period the Orderville people were pulling through a financial strait. So many poor people had joined us that we were overloaded, and it was a difficult matter to provide clothing. To remedy this condition John R. Young and myself were authorized to rent sheep for the order. We went to Cedar City, and after a week's negotiation with the directors of the Cedar Co- op we rented 6000 head of ewes for two years. It laid the foundation for independence for us. The next important movement was the purchasing of the Glendale grist mill. I was in charge of it. At this date our prospects looked bright. We owned a grist mill, a saw mill, a tannery, a threshing machine, 3 flocks of sheep, a dairy, and our farms yielded 1000 bushels of wheat yearly. Our wisest men had been called to the front as directors. It was the matured wisdom of Brigham Young that stood as a beacon light to us and when that light went out we were like a ship that had lost its pilot. The sailors still remained, but they were soon divided in council, and with division came weakness.

When the Orderville United Order dissolved I moved to Huntington, Castle Valley, and for a time I worked in Seeley Brothers grist mill for three years. Then I spent one year playing hide and seek with the U.S. Deputy Marshals, but got tired of the play, so I took Louisa and the youngest family and skipped for Old Mexico. I went with two teams, leaving Huntington Nov. 1, 1888, passing through Rabbit Valley and up the Seveir by Johnson's, then across the Buckskin Mountains to Lee's Ferry. The nights were cold, but no storms. We passed up the Little Colorado in Arizona, and the day before Christmas reached St. Johns were my son William G. lived. I spent a pleasant week with them, then moved on. In Round Valley I met President David K. Udall and found employment for the winter in his grist mill.

In May 1889 I left Round Valley and landed on the 4th of June in Diaz, Mexico. So here I was in a foreign land, not of choice but of necessity, in my own land a criminal, yet I had not injured a living soul. The law that made me a sinner was enacted on purpose to convict me was retroactive in its operation. To me it was largely unjust, which adds a sting to its cruelty. But what can't be cured must be endured. So I take as little of the medicine as possible and try to be contented and cheerful.

I reached Diaz Thursday morning. It was fast day. I went to fast meeting, was introduced to Joseph James, who was running a saw mill. Monday morning with two teams and my son Parley I went to hauling lumber, and stayed with it until November, then I received a letter from R.W. Stowell of Juarez wishing me to come and help get the machinery into his grist mill. I went at once and helped Brother Campbell put in the machinery and set the mill running. I then cared for the mill for three years, getting good wages and giving satisfaction to Brother Stowell.

In the spring of 1892 the Mexicans stole my horses and others from Juarez. In company with Guy Taylor, John Bloomfield, and Judd I followed them into Texas. The boys soon became discouraged and gave up the chase, but I followed the trail alone for three weeks, then I too, gave up, deciding it better to lose my horses than to lose my life. When I returned the mill had been rented to Brother Memmott, and I was out of work, but I soon found employment at Jackson's old mill near Casas Grandes where I had charge of it for two years until he built the new roller mill, when Jackson sold to Memmott and Co. I continued as superintendent under the patronage of the new firm until 1897, when feeling the need of rest I left the milling business, and a year of jubilee like the patriarchs of old. I spent the 4th of July and pioneer day in Salt Lake City, witnessed the grand parade and drank of joy and happiness until my soul was full. I glanced backwards forty-eight years today and saw myself dusty and travel-stained passing through the little string town of our story, dirt-roofed buildings, and without camp on the Jordan commons. Today the city of the Saints stands a marvel and wonder to the world. To me it is a new Jerusalem, the boon of latter days.

Leaving Salt Lake I went to Huntington and visited a host of my children who had homes there. Then I went to Beaver and visited my sister, Rachel. She was a dear, sweet sister and it was our last meeting. From Beaver I returned to Mexico and found employment in father Stowell's pioneer grist mill for nearly two years. I attended the mill sometimes day and night but the best of my days were past, the evening of life approaching. My lungs commenced bleeding, and one day I broke completely down. Father Stowell came to see me and pronounced my condition serious. He hurriedly brought Dr. Keite, they administered to me, and the doctor gave me medicine that checked the bleeding, but he forbade me working longer in the mill, so I parted with the labors that I loved and that I had followed the most of my life. My son David came and took me to Pacheco, where I made my home with my wife Maria for two years. For exercise I worked in the garden with David or Morley. I rode the range helping to look after our stock.

In 1902 I visited my sons William G. and Benjamin D. and my sons-in- law George Gale and John R. Young who were living in Fruitland, N. M. I was pleased with the country and also the society. Our people had a strong, rapidly growing ward there, and strong efforts were being made to buy out our neighbors who wished to sell. I went to a bank in Durango, Colo., and hired $1100 and bought the McCartage ranch of forty acres, including four acres of fine bearing orchard. It was a good home and financially a good purchase, but my families had become so firmly anchored in Mexico, so many of the children had married and built up homes of their own, and Margaret and Amy Jane had passed to the great beyond, placing the burden of caring for me upon Maria and Marinda, and as all of their children had homes in Mexico they were loath to leave. Under these conditions I regretted having purchased at Fruitland, and sold the property to Albert Gale, a grandson. During the three years that I held possession of it I crossed the desert from Fruitland to Gallup several times. Nothing of a thrilling nature occurred, but no one without actual experience can measure the amount of energy and endurance put forth in crossing these sand dunes and waterless desert.

While residing at Fruitland and just before returning to Mexico I attended the San Juan Stake conference at Mancos, Colo. Apostle Matthias F. Cowley was in attendance, and on the 14th day of May 1903, he ordained me a patriarch, and gave me a highly treasured blessing. In the fall of 1905 I returned to Mexico. In the winter of 1906 in an effort to mount a saddle horse my gloved hand slipped from the saddle horn giving me a heavy fall, from the effect of which I suffered and had to be carefully nursed for months.   

From 1906 to 1912 I remained at Pacheco, during that time with the assistance of David I built a good comfortable four-roomed brick house. At its completion it was paid for in full. I gathered my Pacheco family and friends and dedicated it as a dwelling house, Newell K. Young offering the dedicatory prayer. When the rebel war broke out between Madero and Diaz it was understood by both parties that our people would remain neutral and they were assured they would not be disturbed. But when Huerta seized the reins of government and Carranza took the field as leader, conditions became so violent that President Taft advised all Americans to leave Mexico. Still the Mormon colonies hesitated, hoping the war would soon pass and peace return without their having to abandon their homes. But it was not to be as the strife went on and robbing and plundering of our people became frequent by both parties. Property rights were not respected and life was not secure. Conditions were becoming unbearable and it was possible resistance to unjust demands would be made and then a general massacre of the Mormon people would undoubtedly follow. To avoid that calamity it was deemed best to sacrifice our homes.

On the 28th of July, 1912 just as our Sabbath meeting was closing a messenger arrived and gave Pacheco notice that the entire community must be ready to leave at seven o'clock the next morning. Then there was hurrying to and fro and sighs and tears and rustling of feet in kitchen and parlor, in yard and street. Wagons had to be coupled together and the beds put on. Every vehicle in the town was brought into use. At last when all was done that could be done, in the darkness of night the worried, anxious community sank down for a few hours of rest. Then we were awakened from our fitful slumbers by the rumbling of a storm that swept in fury over the mountains. All day the rain poured until every hollow was a river, and no move could be made. What the result of the day's tarrying would be no one could tell. However, Monday night brought rest and when Tuesday morning bright and clear came, all accepted it as a good omen, and the pilgrimage started in a more cheerful mood. My son David P. was made captain to guide and direct the movement of the company. Twenty-two wagons were loaded up, all crowded full with the aged and the young, but mostly with women and children, as many of the men were in the mountains looking after their stock.

Promptly at 7 a.m. the train moved with tearful eyes. About 300 persons bade adieu to their earthly all, the homes of comfort and the graves of their loved ones. At Correllos we were joined by another small company of refugees. Then commenced in earnest the hard days' drive of thirty miles to Pearson.

Nine miles out a company of rebel cavalry dashed across the road, halted our train, demanded our guns and ammunition. Upon a given solemn promise of protection their demands were complied with and we were permitted to pass on and reached Pearson without further interruption, but too late for the train to El Paso.

The inhabitants of Pearson had abandoned their homes and they were thrown open to us and we found a grateful shelter for the night. On Wednesday, the 31st of July, we were put on the cars at Pearson. There was a limited number of cars and in order to take all of the refugees, the cars were packed to the uttermost limit of their varying capacity. About 10 a.m. the cars moved with their load of human freight and at sunset reached Ciudad Juarez. It was dark when we passed the custom house and swept into El Paso, and here a wonderful reception greeted us. Automobiles, street cars, and citizens' vehicles were placed free at our service. Everything was done that could be done to make us welcome. We were soon transferred to the lumber camp two miles from El Paso, where we were served with a plentiful supper. True we were crowded, for the multitude was great and in the throng the sick people and aged could not help but suffer, and several of our sisters were rushed to the hospital, the excitement and fatigue precipitating their confinement, but the kindly and skillful assistance given at the hospital to mothers and babies saved their lives. Soon after our camping in the lumber yard we had a heavy rain and the roads became a mud puddle, making it very unpleasant for several days. I faced the discomfort and though I felt my strength failing, yet I made no complaint.

Harry Payne came and said, "Father Black, this is no place for you, you must go to better quarters." I replied, "I must stay here for I have no money to go anywhere else." He leaned forward and whispered, "I remember seeing your name on the tithing record, and you are going to be cared for."   The next day Apostle Ivins came and talked kindly to me. He called a Brother Sevey and directed him to take me and Maria and see that we were well-cared for. The instructions were carried out. I remember with pleasure the Hotel Alberta where for eight days we rested and were treated royally. I feel thankful to the good citizens of El Paso for the aid and sympathy they gave us. And I feel thankful to our government and William H. Taft for the prompt appropriation of the very sufficient sum of $100,000 to be used in giving aid to the American refugees who were expelled from Mexico. Of these people about 4000 were Latter-day Saints. The hearts of all were gladdened by the generous assistance.

I append an invoice of property I left in Mexico, the fruits of 25 years.    


On the 10th of Aug. Maria and I were furnished a railroad pass that would take us to Price, Utah.

There was sorrow mixed with joy when we parted without friends and fellow sufferers, the colonists. We went to Mexico for a common cause, and for twenty-five years we had toiled together and had become endeared to each other by the sacrifices we had made and as a finishing touch to our experience we had drunk together from the bitter cup of expulsion from our homes. A two- day ride on the cars and we landed in the evening of the 12th at Price. Our first act was to phone to our children at Huntington to let them know of our arrival. Then we went with Brother Oliver Hammon and were kindly entertained. The next morning before daylight Isaac and Maggie arrived and we were safe in the arms of our dear children. Thanking Brother and Sister Harmon for their kindnesses we were soon on our way to Huntington, our home nest, where many of the children reside. We were driven direct to our son Miller's where a multitude of children and grandchildren were waiting to greet us. We stayed at Miller's two and a half months and then went to Isaac's at Ferron, and stayed six weeks and then returned to Huntington and stayed six weeks with Martin L. and returned to Isaac's and stayed the rest of the winter and spring.

In June 1913 we went to Richfield and stayed until the 19th of July, excepting a short visit to Monroe and Redmond to see the Washburn family and Maria's sister, Mrs. Chris Brienholt, getting back to Huntington in time to join in celebrating pioneer day the 24th of July.

In August I passed through a severe spell of sickness and for several days and weeks lay near the point of death. Previous to this our son Joseph, his wife and two children came from Haden, Idaho, to visit us. We also had a visit from my son Parley of Caliente, Nevada. I felt gratified at these marks of affection shown by children who had been separated from us for so many years. The expulsion from our home is almost forgotten in the joy we find in meeting so many affectionate and loving children. It makes me feel that while I may have been a failure financially, yet I have had the power and blessing to found a patriarchal family and name that shall last in Israel after I have passed away and that knowledge comforts me.

October 1st, Maria and I took the train at Price for Thompson Springs, then went by auto (the mail) to Moab where David took us with spring wagon and team to Grayson, anchoring us at Will Guymon's, where we were warmly greeted by another host of children and grandchildren. I feel it appropriate to say that Charley, Miller, Joseph, Walter, and Lona Porter furnished money for these trips. We were also helped by Anton Nielsen, David Brienholt, A.B. Hardy, B.D. Black, William L. Young and Tamer B. Young. May the Lord bless them. To close this sketch I give a list of my wives and children.

Margaret Ruth Banks Black, born 26 Feb. 1829--died 28 June 1884.
Children were--
Martin Luther Black--md. Caroline Lee and Sarah Pulsipher
Martha Jane Black--md. George Gale
John M. Black--md. Thresa Cox and Harriet Spencer
Olive Black (twin)--(infant)
Mary Elizabeth Black (twin)--(infant)
William Black--(infant)
Isaac E. Black--md. Nancy E. Allen and Alvina H. Olsen
George Henry Black--md. Minerva Washburn.

Amy Jane Washburn Black--born July 28, 1832, died Aug. 28, 1888
Children were--
Tamar Jane Black--md. John R. Young
Sarah Amelia Black--md. Lorenzo Z. Young
William Grant Black--md. Lucretia Maxwell
Benjamin Daniel Black--md. Annie Porter, Susan Palmer and Anne Alice Baldwin.
Mary Ann Black--md. James Palmer
Charles T. Black--md. Mary (or Molly) Stolworthy.
Eva M. Black--md. James Palmer
Margaret E. Black--md. Samuel Rowley
Orson Black--md. Clara Excell

Maria Hansen Black--born Nov. 10, 1840--died March 8, 1920.
Children were--
Joseph A. Black--md. Johanna Fisher
Rachel Black--md. Wariner A. Porter
Myrtle Black--md. James Palmer
William Black--infant
Miller S. Black--md. Julia Sherman
Harriet D. Black--md. Willard R. Guymon
David P. Black--md. Theda Kartchner and Alzada Kartchner
Morley L. Black--md. Lydia Ellen Porter and Rachel Lunt
Ablona Black--md. Walter Porter and William Chapples

Louisa Ann Washburn Black--born 29 Sept. 1851--died 26 May 1904
Children were--
William W. Black--died at 14
Catherine A. Black--infant
Parley P. Black--md. Dorcas Everett and Florence Gripp
Calista Black--md. Robert Peel
Etta Clarinda Black--md. Willis A. Webb
Edward Webb Black--md. Nellie Holyoak
Lula Loraine Black--md. Rufus Mulleneux
Ella Savilla Black--md. Van Amberg Talley
Junius Exile Black--md. Mary Williams

Sarah Marinda Thompson Black--born 25 Sept. 1841--died 10 July 1914
Children were--
Mary Bell Black--md. James F. Carroll
Amy Jane Black--md. Thomas M. Carroll
Eliza Roxey Black--(child)
Lewis A. Black--(infant)

At John R. Young's house on the 9th of Feb. 1914 several gentlemen some of them strangers to me and not of our faith, in conversation with Father Black asked if he had ever been sorry that he joined the Church. With great earnestness he testified that after baptism he received testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that he lived and died a righteous man, and that testimony, undimmed, had stayed with him till the present day.


Tuesday evening, the 10th of Feb. 1914, the ward teachers visited us. During the visit Father Black arose and testified, "I know that God lives, and that Joseph Smith was and is a true prophet and I know that his life's labors were approved by the Father, and Joseph has received a crown of glory as a reward for his faithfulness, and I want this testimony incorporated with what follows--

"Feeling grateful to my Heavenly Father for his leading me to a knowledge of the Gospel of his Son which had brought to me an ordination to the patriarchal priesthood and by it I have received the blessings of wives and a numerous posterity, and that my children may know that I am humbly proud and thankful for these blessings I have given a list of my wives and children, and sign same with this my testimony on my 88th birthday."

WILLIAM M. BLACK

I certify that I have made a true copy of the names of these who witnessed William M .Black sign this sketch with his own hand.

JOHN R. YOUNG, Amanuensis

Witnessed by:
Warner A. Porter, Maria H. Black, Tamar B. Young, Eva B. Palmer, Alice Black, Hattie Guymon, Nellie Black, Annie E. Young, Cynthia Young, Rea Young, Louise A. Black.
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Patriarch William M. Black was born Feb. 11, 1826 was the third child of John Black and Mary Cline Black. He died at 4 o'clock a.m. June 21, 1915, at Blanding, Utah. He left a wife and 28 living children, 214 living grandchildren, and 206 living great grandchildren.
(copied by Eva Palmer)

 

This blurry picture is of the new monument
that William Morley Black's many descendants
provided to replace his original grave marker.
It says: "I found the gold I was looking for."


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