Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Samuel, Jr. and Mahala Ruth Durfee Parker

Samuel, Jr. was born 6 Oct 1849 in Salt Lake City, son of Samuel Parker, Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Gifford.  He was baptized 6 Oct 1857, at the age eight, on his birthday.  He was endowed 2 Jan 1878, at the age of 28.  Mahala Ruth Durfee was born 17 May 1850, in Carterville, Pottowattomie, IA, daughter of Abraham Durfee and Ursula Curtis. 

Mahala Ruth made it to Utah as a baby and grew up in Utah.  It is recorded somewhere (on my PAF) that she had a spouse named Thomas Harrison Winder, but in 1872, at age 21, presumably in Utah, she married Samuel Parker, Jr., who was the son (he had one younger sister named Mary Ann Parker, born 1851 in Basin, Cassia, ID who married Benjamin McBride) of Samuel Parker, Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Gifford.  Samuel Parker, Jr. was born 6 Oct 1849, in Salt Lake City, UT. 

Mahala Ruth was baptized 16 Jan 1869, at the age of 19.  She and Samuel Parker, Jr. were married about 1872, when he was about 23 and she was about 22.  Our PAF does not show the place of marriage.  If they were not married in one of the mining towns, on the west side of Utah Lake, they may have been married in the St. George area where their first child, Mahala Strong Parker, was born 10 Aug 1873, in Shonesburg, Washington, UT, when Mahala Ruth Durfee Parker and Samuel Parker, Jr. were each 23 years old.  They had two other little girls who apparently died very young. 

Joseph Hepworth, father to Leland, told his sons the dramatic story of his maternal grandparents.  Apparently, Mahala was pursued by a “suiter” who was a mine company manager, and a nonmember.  He wanted very much to marry young Mahala, but she married Samuel instead.  On 10 Aug 1873, they had a baby, Mahala Strong Parker, their only child to survive.  Anna Elizabeth Parker was born to them 18 Mar 1875, in Shonesburg, Washington, UT.  She died less than five months later on 7 Aug 1875, a month after her mother was killed. 

Some three years after being married to Samuel Parker, Jr., having two baby girls, Mahala Strong, almost 2, and Anna Elizabeth, 5 months, Mahala Ruth Durfee Parker died.  The story was that she was murdered, apparently, in Spanish Fork Canyon, or perhaps another canyon in Southern UT.  The record in our PAF says she died 9 Jul 1875, in Springdale, Washington County, UT, at the age of 25. 

Leland’s recall is that his father Joseph said that she died in Spanish Fork Canyon, and that she was found with her throat cut, in what was thought to be a staged murder made to look like the Indians had done it.  Samuel apparently went after the former suitor, believing he was responsible for the death of his wife, but apparently the Indians got to the man first and killed him, possibly somewhere in Nevada as he sought to escape being pursued.  “Grandpa Parker” may have been incriminated in the death of the suitor.  There was apparently some controversy in the state of Utah over him in the aftermath of this tragedy. 

On separate occasions, many years apart, my father Leland shared his recollections of what he had heard about the murder of Mahala Ruth Durfee Parker 9 Jul 1875, at the age of 25.  This story, involving another man and local Indians, needs to be better documented, but family folklore through Joseph Leland Hepworth held that Mahala was sought after by a nonmember manager of a local mine, but married Samuel Parker, Jr. and they had their little girls.  When Mahala was only 25, her body was found up Spanish Fork Canyon with her throat cut as Indians might have done, but the perception was Indians were being framed to cover up for the real perpetrator who acted on behalf of or was in fact the mining manager.  When husband Samuel, Jr. learned of this, he got on his horse and rode after the mining manager and apparently chased him across Utah and into Nevada until finally discovering his body, apparently executed by Indians.  Samuel left Utah, presumably in the aftermath of these tragedies, and settled in southern Idaho with his surviving daughter(s), including Mahala Strong Parker who married John William Hepworth 2 Dec 1891 in St. George Temple.  John William had been born 1 Dec 1872 in Oxford, Franklin, Idaho. 

When widower Samuel Parker, Jr.’s infant daughter died, perhaps due to not having her mother’s nursing care, Samuel was left to care alone for his little Mahala, namesake of his wife.  The years passed.  We’re not sure where he lived, but Mahala appears to have grown up in Dixie, and we have no reason to think father and daughter were separated.  My father did not happen to know if he ever re-married.  Mahala Strong and John William Hepworth, who also lived in “Dixie,” were married 2 Dec 1891, in the St. George Temple, when she would have been 18 and he was 23.  They had three sons while they lived in Southern Utah, their third, Squire Samuel, being born 28 Apr 1898 (a fourth, Oren, was born, but my PAF doesn’t say where), then their fifth, Joseph, my grandfather, was born in Elba, ID 21 Jul 1901.  So, somewhere between spring of 1898 and summer of 1901, they moved to Elba.  Mahala would have been 25-28 years old when they moved to Idaho.  Her father, Samuel, would have been 49-52 at that time.  Mahala and John William and family settled in Malta and raised their extensive family of mostly sons.  Mahala died 17 Sep 1912, at the age of 39.  My father recalled that his father did not know when or where his Grandpa Samuel Parker, Jr. died. 

Grandpa Parker was apparently blue-eyed, a quiet, happy man, a pleasant, well-behaved gentleman.  His son-in-law, Grandpa John William, a very straightforward person, having heard the controversy surrounding Samuel in the aftermath of the death of his wife and her former suitor, asked his father-in-law, “Did you kill that man?”  And Grandpa Parker said, “No, I didn’t.” 

Mahala Ruth Durfee Parker was endowed by proxy, 2 Jan 1878, over two years after she was killed.  Samuel’s ordinance work was not done until recently. 

Other descendents of Abraham and Ursula Curtis Durfee may have more information, especially those descending from their younger children who lived longer lives.  Their son Abraham Augustus Durfee was born 8 Dec 1852 in Springville, UT, and died 14 Oct 1916, in Gridley, Butte, CA.  His wife was Polly Vilate Lemmon.  Their daughter Ursula Jane Durfee was born 23 Feb 1857, in Springville, UT, and died 26 Oct 1933, in Provo, UT.  Her husband was Franklin Pierce Hadlock.  Their youngest, Enos Curtis Durfee, was born 16 Oct 1859 in Springville, UT, and died Dec 1890.  His wife was Susanah Deaton.  

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