William Benona Graham
Contributed By MikalMcKinnon ·2013-08-07
I, William B. Graham, was born March 24, 1853 in River Dale, Weber County, Utah. My father, James Graham, was born 11 October 1804 in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, Ireland, and died December 9, 1857,2 in Ogden, Weber County, Utah. My mother’s name is Hannah Tucker Reed Graham, born 10 May 1820 at Lower Eversham, Burlington County, New Jersey.
My father went on a mission to Australia when I was six months old and returned in the early part of 1857 after being ship wrecked. He died that same year on December 9th in Ogden City, Utah. 1 In the summer of 1858, Johnson’s Army was on their way to Utah, intent on destroying the Mormons. But Brigham Young placed guards up and down Echo Canyon and all the people in Ogden readied themselves to strike a match and burn their homes and prosperity in case the army got thru. But many, including Tat Smith, burned army wagons and provisions on the Big Sandy, a place I have seen several times in my days, and delayed the army. Likewise, after the guards in Echo Canyon rolled down a few rocks and fired off a few guns, the government’s spies declared the mountains were full of armed men and Johnson’s Army returned. The homeless soldiers made for Fort Bridger, Wyoming and some of them to Camp Floyd.
Despite the soldiers’ retreat, everyone prepared and moved south. Our people went to Provo (at the time, 5th West was Main Street in Provo) and struggled along the way. My sister Arnice and I had to walk and drive a cow and pig behind the wagon from Ogden to Provo. That fall, after the excitement was over, we returned to our home in Ogden, finding our homes still ready to touch a torch to them so the enemy could not enjoy them.
The following summer I herded cows on the Hooper Range, now simply called Hooper, and did the same during the summer of 1860 and 1861. We raised a large quantity of watermelons and I took two yoke of oxen and a load of watermelons to Fort Bridger, Wyoming, that fall. Joseph Shupe assisted me in yoking up my oxen as I was only 9 ½ years old. He and his father, James Shupe, took a two-horse load of melons for my mother, all belonging to my Mother.
Fort Bridger was a government post where a good portion of Johnson’s Army was located. We loaded our wagons with iron that came from the burnt wagons on the Big Sandy, as James Shupe was a blacksmith. In the early spring of 1862, my folks moved us to Millville, Cache Valley. They traded their farm in Riverdale, Weber County, for land in Wellsville, where we lived for two years. During the Civil War in 1863 and 1864, we all had to turn out and glean wheat for our bread; at the same time, Wellsville moved out of the old Fort into the town site, taking our entire farm. We then moved back to Millville.
In 1866, my brother John and I worked in the mountains all summer hauling saw logs. For three years, some boys and I spent much of our time playing with the little Indian boys. Johnny Gar, a half Indian boy raised by the Gar boys, became a very near companion to me. In the summer of 1868, I worked on the railroad in Weber Canyon, helping to bring the first iron horse into Utah.
In the fall of 1868, my half-brother, John Jamison, and I bought three yoke of oxen and freighted out West. The first trip was to Grande Creek. On a trip to the Humbolt Wells, I was accompanied by Sam Whitney, Sile Wood, Williams Frankham, Frank Wall and William Williams, who later became my father-in-law. (Later, he and I would share many a loads of laugh over that trip and our experience.) In the spring of 1869, on the 10th day of May, the golden spike was driven near the promontory that connected the two railroads together from ocean to ocean. In the fall of 1869, my brother, John, and I moved to Bennington, Bear Lake County, Idaho.
The fore part of the summer of 1870, I worked for Captain Hooper making parts and putting up fence at Soda Springs. In July of that year, I hired out as a bull whacker and drove eight yoke of oxen and three wagons from Stump, White and Salt works from Star Valley to Helena, Montana. Loaded up with fine salt, we drove back to Corinne, Utah, which was a lively town at that time; all Montana freight was freighted from there to the rest of Montana. I then returned to my home in Bennington, Idaho.
In the summer of 1871, I worked for Heber and Artz Young, again at Soda Springs, Idaho. I helped to build the first co-op store in Soda Springs and hauled goods all summer from Ogden and Logan to stock the store. In addition, I hauled two loads of redwood lumber from Calinstan, Utah, to Soda Springs to build Captain Hooper’s redwood house.
In the summer of 1872, I drove teams for Ben Gar, which included eight mules and two wagons. We went out to Gold Hill Mines, Nevada, crossing the desert called the Valley of Desolation where a whole train of Emigrants, including men, women, children and animals, all perished for want of water. In the fall, my mother and grandmother decided to move back to Millville, Cache Valley. It was during the following fall, in 1873, that I first met my wife, the daughter of the previously mentioned William Williams of Hyrum.
On the 18th of January 1874, I was married to Margaret Hope Williams of Hyrum. That spring, we returned to my property in Bennington, Idaho, and then traveled back to Hyrum for the winter. In March we had a baby girl, Anna May, born to us; she died eleven months and five days later in the summer of 1875. I traded my property to Peter Hansen for a large ranch house and lot in Hyrum and thirteen acres of land in the west field. I then hauled lumber down Blackfoot Canyon for two seasons. Our son, William Walt, was born December 16, 1876. In the after part of the summer and fall of 1877, I helped move 300 soldiers from Corrine, Utah to Helena, Montana. On our way home, we experienced a big Indian scare at Rosses Fork, Idaho, but it turned out to be a false alarm. I left my team and wagon in Pocatello for the winter and the Wellsville boys brought them down for me in the spring. I was captain of the baseball team from the time I was fifteen in 1877 up to when I was forty-five.
In the summer of 1878, we returned to Bennington, Idaho. I went to Sweet Water with R.P., Charley Robinson, and Walter Hodge, driving cattle. I was back and drove the Mers wagon. On the eleventh of March 1879, our daughter, Birdie, was born in Bennington. I plowed all day that day with four horses in Bear Lake. I started to Boise, Idaho on the first of May with six horses and two wagons freighting fine salt from Montpelier to Boise and stayed overnight with Sile Wood. On December 21, 1881, Franklin Jamison Graham was born in Bennington, Idaho.
In the spring of 1881 we ran a boarding camp and helped make the side track and switches for the Pocatello yards.
In 1884 we helped to make the railroad through Bear Lake. That year, on October 26th, our son Horace Eugene was born. Two weeks later was an earthquake hit Bear Lake. In the summer of 1885, I took charge of a herd of cattle from Montpelier, Idaho, to the Sweet Water, Wyoming, for R.W. Baxter from Cheyenne.
Our son Archie “J.” Graham was born March 26, 1887. In April 1889, I went on a Mission to West Virginia and had to return home on account of sickness. On June 30, 1889 our son Charles Edward was born. The next summer I contracted hay and put up 1244 tons for Beckwith and Quin on Bear Lake.
In 1891, I contracted the hay on Sluf Creek with Hyrum S. Woolley. Heber J. Grant, being President of the company, put up 1200 tons of hay that season. Opal Vilate was born in Hyrum on the 23rd of December 1891. In 1892, 93 and 94, I contracted hay with Byron Sessions and lived on the Crawford Ranch east of Randolph for two years. In 1895, Pearl was born on the 25th of July. That year I contracted Chapmans hay on Salarate’s Creek and, in 1896, I bought the block, containing 2200 acres, on Salarate’s Ranch on Otto Creek and Bear River. On April 3, 1897, Fay Arden Graham was born on Otto Creek, Randolph, Utah. Walter and I went to the Jubilee in Salt Lake and took a team in the parade. I played the part of Uncle Sam. For three years we worked and lived on the Otto Creek Ranch, starting in 1898.
Walter went on a mission to Boston in February 1900. I went with Byron Sessions and Apostle A.O. Woodruff and others to pioneer the Big Horn Basin in March of that same year. I went east to Chicago with two car loads of horses to sell and Walter returned home from his mission while I was gone. We were caught in a big sand storm on Hams Fork and had to lay over for a week and Apostle A.O. Woodruff made his home with us in a tent. I had been called by President Lorenzo Snow to act as one of the director’s on the Sidon canal in Big Horn Basin, Wyoming. We arrived at Lovell, Wyoming, May 25, 1900, and camped three days under the bluff of a big hill while all parties arrived; all hands then moved up to the head of the canal. On June 1st, 1900, we started work on the canal and continued all summer. In the fall I shipped my thrashing machine to Wyoming and opened a little store. Later that fall and in the winter, Crasly and Welch took a contract on the railroad going to Garland. We all worked throughout the winter on the R.R. to save our bacon after a hard summer and spending all we had on the canal. We drew for our land and it fell to our lot to locate in Crowley. I bought 320 acres of land and water four miles east of Lovell on the Shoshone River.
In the spring of 1901, my boys and I put in a good crop using the grain, lucerne, and timothy seed we had hauld with us in seamless sacks from Idaho. We planted it all in good faith that we would soon have a field of hay. Sadly, the mineral or something else destroyed the seed so it never did grow. We were very disappointed. I was at home attending the crops and the boys were still at work on the R.R. near the head of Pole Cat when they all came down with the small pay. A call then came for men and teams to go and work in the Yellowstone National Park. I sent three boys, Walter, Frank, and Eugene, four teams and two wagons; Frank was called on a mission shortly afterwards. I had an opportunity of selling out my holding. I went to Apostle A.O. Woodruff, explaining my circumstance and asking his advice. He replied “Brother Graham, you have come here and worked hard, helped to kill the snakes, build the bridge and make the canal and helped establish the country so people can live here. You sell out and go back to your old farm and take care of your mother while she lives and redeem your Idaho property.” In less than thirty-six hours my holding was sold and I went and paid off the mortgage on my Bennington property. In September H.K. North, two boys and I went through the park, called and visited our boys at work there, and arrived in Bennington on October 1, 1902. In the spring of 1903, I shipped eleven teams, meaning to drive them to Twin Falls (or rather to Milleren, the Big Dam). After looking over the work and noting that the contractors were not following through on what they agreed to do, we turned and headed for the National Park. We arrived at St. Anthony and learned that we could not enter the park yet because of the snow. I sent four men and teams to work for **** and Jacob’s saw mill and I took a contract making a canal for the citizens of St. Anthony. Then came the boom for a sugar factory. I went immediately and visited the manager Mark Austin. He said to bring all my men and teams and they would give us work. I then went to work on the sugar factory farm and we continued that work for two years. During that time we leveled the park, taking eighteen inches off of one side and placing it on the other, making it perfectly level to irrigate. We also made the spur track from the main line into the factory, graded all the streets, sat out the shade trees, made all the sidewalks and ditched in Sugar City, Idaho. In the spring of 1904, I built a large livery barn and opened the Bramly Hotel. Shortly thereafter, in the fore of the summer, my wife became ill with female weakness and my son, Eugene, with Typhoid Fever. I was making good money when a disease struck our horses and three of my best, worth at least $600 dollars, died within three days. In the fall, my mother also became sick and died in Bennington, Idaho, causing me much sorrow and grief. All these trials caused us to close the hotel and, on February 22, 1905, our son Frank returned from his mission and we returned to our home in Bennington, Idaho. We planted a large crop and our sons, Frank and Eugene, persuaded me to take the younger children and visit Walter in Big Horn, Wyoming. So in July, James Welker and his family joined us and we made the trip to Wyoming and back. Walter said that if we would leave Arch to help him, they would lead up and follow us back to Bennington. That fall we bought Eugene Smith’s farm and ranch bringing our total ownership of land to about1300 acres, all laying around the town of Bennington. In the summer of 1906, though we had a booming big crop of hay, grain, and hogs, we could not sell anything because a money panic struck the country.
My wife’s health continued to be poor and, in April 1907, the doctor told me I must take her to a hospital. I took her to L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City and received no encouragement. Instead, I was told that it was only a matter of a few days until I would be taking her home as a corpse. The next fall, the doctor told me that if I did not get her to a warmer climate, she would not last long. Because of this, in early February of 1908, we bundled her bed and everything into a sleigh, put her on the train and started for Oregon. We arrived and settled in La Grande, renting a short time before buying a nice home. Two months later our son, Walter, and his family came to Oregon. His oldest daughter, just six years old, quickly became sick with diphtheria and only lived a few days. In the fall of 1908, we sold our home in Oregon and went to Logan to school our children.
In the spring of 1909, Eugene and I went to California and Mexico, hunting a warm climate. Later that fall, we moved to Machicahiu, Sinaloa, Mexico. On the 14th of November 1909, we went right to work, making water ditches, clearing land and planting forty-five acres of tomato seed. We worked hard all winter and the company of us raised and sold twenty-four car loads of tomatoes and cantaloupes in the fall of 1910.
After we learned our son, Horace Eugene, took the appendicitis, he lived for seven weeks and died January 5, 1911. Frank and I made his coffin and his mother and Frank’s wife, Myrtle, made his clothes. We were then obliged to bury him in Mexico at Machicanhui, Sinoloa. My wife, being so weak, came close to losing her mind. I rented my place and, on the 18th of January (our wedding anniversary), we started for the United States.
When we arrived at Sanblass, eighteen miles from our Mexico home, the first strike occurred on the railroad on account of the Mexican trouble. It took us five days getting out of Mexico as trains did not run after dark. It took thirteen days getting to Salt Lake on a trip that should have lasted only four days. The Mexican trouble kept on for a long time and we did not return. When we arrived at Salt Lake on the first day of February 1911, we visited with our son Arch who was working in the Madison Furniture Co. store in Bingham. The following fall, we rented a house in Ogden, where Birdie and Stewart and family later moved to in the summer of 1912.
W.J. Chritchland and F.A. McQuiyer sold my Bennington property for $18,500, taking a twenty-two acre farm in Hooper as partial pay. A $12,000 mortgage was arranged for the balance of the property and was to be collected in one year. The year passed and then another year, no pay, no interest, no taxes, and no nothing. I was obliged to foreclose. The lawyers saw that they had a fat load to pick so together with the lawyers, and liars, and thieves, and the Bear Lake jury they tricked the two geese (my wife and I) and left us both hungry and naked in the street, homeless and penniless. They robbed and stole from me my lifetime’s earnings. At the same time the Sinaloa land and fruit was doing all they could to beat me out of my property in Mexico and they succeeded; two years before I could have sold out my holding there for $60,000.
Two years rolled by and I never had a good nights rest. I was constantly thinking about ways to receive something for what had been stolen from me. But a messenger appeared and called me, telling me not to carry out my thoughts of that cowardly act. He said “look” and showed many great and marvelous things and said to me, “All you have suffered and lost is not as much as a pencil dot on this paper compared to what there is in store for you. Now be contented and happy and do not do as you were intending to do.” I woke up and, realizing I’d just had a dream or vision, jumped right out of bed and wrote it down; I have not been troubled since. I do not want to harm a hair on any man’s head but, instead, want to do all the good I can. I called that my Savior. It kept me from doing that which I ought not to do.
In the spring of 1917, I took my hammer and saw and went to work for Walter Ramney. In the fore part of July I received a letter from Walter stating that he had a job for me in Powell, Wyoming. My wife and I packed our grip and took the train for Wyoming and arrived at Powell July 19th and began work for the great Western Sugar Company the next day. In November they transferred me to Lovell where I built them a large barn (60 x 80 ft.) with 100 pens in it for ewes. During farming season I worked for the sugar company for nearly a year. Early in the spring of 1918, I went to work at Deerves for the Government or Reclamation service.
The latter part of July, I was transferred to Minaeluk Dam to help build some houses and then they placed me as a guard at the big dam until the armistice was signed. We then packed our grip and went to visit Opal in Ogden and had the flu while we were there. When we recovered, Mother and I went down to Archie’s and gave them a visit. We then visited Charles in Goshen, Utah and then I attended the funeral of Uncle Ed Weaver in Bennington, Idaho. Upon my return I built a cow barn for my son Archie in Hyland, while he was sick with the flu.
In the spring of 1919, I worked for Manern Bros. poultry farm but left in July to work for the Worland Sugar Factory. I was also sick and in the Hospital in Worland. I worked a month at the Hope Well Hospital in Thermopolis, Wyoming, but returned to Byron in November.
In the later part of May 1924, Mother and I went with the Miller boys up to Montana, around the North end of the park and down to Pocatello, Idaho, where we took the train for Ogden, arriving there June 2, 1924. We found Opal and Charles and their family all well. In September I went to Delta, Utah, and returned to Salt Lake for Conference. On the 9th of October we met the Chase girls who had a happy and comfortable home and, on the 12th of November, Mother and I began work in the Salt Lake Temple until December 22nd. By then we had been endowed for thirty-four people, sealed for twenty couples and baptized for my two brothers and had their temple work done. By the following July we increased our number of endowments up to 151.
On January 20, 1926, Margaret Hope William Graham died. On March 18th of the same year, William Benona Graham died as well.
Miscellaneous Notes 5
In July 1896 the Rich County Newspaper records the following humorous event in the life of William Benona Graham:
W. B. Graham has a cat with kittens and on entering his stable the other morning the cat came to him and asked as plainly as a cat could to help her in her troubles. He looked for the reason and found that a setting hen had adopted the kittens and was covering them in great style. He removed the hen to get the kittens when she flew and attacked the cat, driving her out of the stable.
The remainder of this section was taken from some short notes on the Graham Family by Opal Graham Stayner Wiltie:
In 1900, my father William B. Graham and Byron Sessions were called by the church to pioneer the Big Horn Wyoming country. We traveled in a big company of covered wagons. At night we would camp in a circle and every evening after supper we would all get together for singing and prayer.
They built two towns, Byron and Cowley and built the big canal. Father lived in Cowly and Brother Sessions lived in Byron. Later mybrother, Walter, and Julian Sessions were married. After a few years my father moved back to his farm at Bennington, Bear Lake, Idaho.
Archie J. Graham became the Bishop of the Byron Ward, Big Horn Stake, Wyoming, from 1928 to 1930. He was baptized June 6, 1895, filled a short-term mission to the Northern States, moved to the Big Horn country in 1900, and was ordained a High Priest and Bishop November 17, 1928, by David O. McKay. Horace Eugene Graham wasn’t married when he died at the 26 on January 5, 1911; he is buried in Mochicahui, Old Mexico. Fern, his brother, Frank’s, little girl (1 ½ years old), also died down there and is buried beside Gene in a big Mexican cemetery. After his death, Eugene was sealed to his sister-in-law’s sister, Jennie Carbine on May 27, 1930. Jennie is the sister of Myrtle who is Grant’s wife. Jennie knew Eugene and liked him. Later, she got married, had four children and then divorced. Eugene told mother he didn’t want to die when he wasn’t married.
Arrangements were made through the first Presidency to perform the sealing under these unusual circumstances as is seen in the following letter written by Jennie Carbine in Phoenix Arizona, dated June 1, 1930 to Arch Graham:
From Phoenix Arizona, June 1, 1930
Dear Brother Arch and Family
I receive your letter on Saturday, a week ago and was glad to hear from you and to receive the letter from President Grant, and to know that I could go and do the work that I came here to do. So we made our preparations and on Tuesday the 27th we went to the Temple, presented the letter to President Udall who arranged things for us.
They were all very kind to us and Brother David K. Udall who is President of the Temple said, “Well Sister you have gone about this thing in the right way,” referring to President Grant’s letter. He kept the letter, said it was the justification of the Second Sealing.
I felt very happy when in the Sealing of the Children, I was called Lovica Jane Carbine Graham and couldn’t help wishing I could hear the name in Public. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for waking me up to the realization that I could and should have the children sealed as well as myself and now it is done and I am very thankful, and if I could only know that he is pleased now that it is done. I would be satisfied to go on through the year happy in the hope of companionship and happiness when my work here is finished. A letter from Mrs. Jennie Nelson
1. Graham, William Benona, “The Life Story of William B. Graham and Margaret Hope Williams Graham,” unpublished, undated manuscript. Copy in possession of Mikal McKinnon, Richland Washington. ca 1925
2. James Graham’s death date is uncertain. The transcribed Ogden City Cemetery record shows a death date of November 7, 1857. His wife’s record shows a death date of December 8, 1857. The Nauvoo Land and Title records shows a death date of December 9, 1857. There seems to be consensus on his birth date being October 11, 1804.
3. Eckman, Anne Miller compiler. “Settlement of Wyoming by Utah Pioneers, Big Horn, Park, Hot Springs, and Washakie Counties,” International Society Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, Salt Lake City, Utah. 2006
4. Fillerup, Melvin M. Sidon – The Canal that Faith Built. Ptarmigan Company Publisher, Cody, Wyoming. 1988.
5. Wiltie, Opal Graham Stayner, “Some short notes on the Graham Family” unpublished, undated manuscript.in possession of Mikal McKinnon, Richland, Washington
The text was from a book written by Mikal A. McKinnon titled “Archibald Graham McKinnon, Julia Wahlstrom and their ancestors,” 2011, Available at the Family History Library, call number 929.273 M216.
Note: The book version contains hyperlinks, tables, additional pictures, and an every name index that are not included is this text only version. The book also has information concerning the Sidon Canal.
Franklin Jamison and Susan Myrtle Carbine Graham
More detailed life stories in separate collection