William Williams William Williams1 was born December 7, 1827, at Kenneyscommander, Monmouthshire, Wales. His parents, William Williams and Charlotte Bolton, were good, devoutly religious people and taught their seven children, four boys and three girls, to observe the Sabbath strictly. They were allowed to sing only sacred songs on Sunday and could not play rowdy games.1
William and his brother Thomas accepted the Gospel as preached by Mormon Missionaries and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. William married Margaret Pettigreen Hope of Bristol England February 7, 1852. Two weeks later on the twenty-third, William, Margaret and Thomas set sail from their homeland, leaving mother, brothers, sisters, friends and relatives. All that was dear to their childhood was left behind in favor of their new and abiding faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to come to a new country among strange people whose reputation, at that time, was very unsavory. Their mother was opposed to their new religion and could not reconcile herself to it. The reports which reached her of the Mormon people were the prevailing falsification of that period.
William, Margaret and Thomas came across the ocean in a sailing vessel and were on the water eight weeks. Sometimes the wind would send them back on their journey for days, and other times they were at a stand still. William and his wife relate a circumstance that happened while they were crossing the ocean. There was a terrible storm that came up and lasted for days. They thought they were all going to perish and the captain wouldn’t allow anyone to come up on deck. There were a large number of Saints on board and they fasted and prayed for the Lord to protect them. They held a meeting and were singing and the captain came down and asked them in the name of the Lord what they were doing. He said he had traveled the ocean for twenty years and had never seen anything like that before…the storm was calmed. It was a great testimony to all of them. When they landed in America they could hardly walk, being so accustomed to the motion of the ship. They landed in New Orleans, then traveled on to St Louis by steamboat. When they got as far as St. Louis, Margaret’s sister and husband, who had come with them, became discouraged and would not go any farther. They left them there and lost track of them, traveling on to Kansas, Missouri, fourteen miles west of Independence. Here, the immigrants found teams which the agent had prepared for them. Ten people were allotted one tent and a wagon, with only 100 lbs luggage allowed including beds and clothing to all persons above eight years, 50 lbs allowed to those between eight and four, and none below four years of age. Each wagon was supplied with 1,000 lbs flour, 50 lbs sugar, 25 lbs salt, 50 lbs bacon, 50 lbs rice, 30 lbs beans, 20 lbs dried apples and peaches, 5 lbs tea, 1 gallon of vinegar, and 10 bars of soap. A full team consisted of one wagon, two yolk oxen, and two cows. They started their westward journey in Captain Shurtleff’s Company and endured all the hardships of crossing the plains with oxen. They had many good times as well. Their company had in their number some very good singers, William and Margaret being among them, and many nights they would make the prairie’s ring, singing the sweet songs of Zion.
Upon arrival in Utah, settlement was first made in Cedar City, Iron County. After three years they moved to Goshen, Utah, where they helped establish the area. Margaret would work all day making one pint of molasses, working the honey dew from the leaves and boiling it down. She contracted mountain fever and was sick for a long time. Adding to this hardship, the Indian encounters were very difficult and Margaret was very much afraid of them. While crossing the plains, the Indians wanted to trade a herd of horses for her and she had to hide from them many times. William had to give them flour and other things to send them away. In the spring of 1860, William, his family and his brother Thomas went to Hyrum, Utah, (Camp Hollow initially) with the first twenty settlers; here they lived for the rest of their lives, and William was a councilman in the city government. On August 30, 1860, William and Margaret became the parents of the first white child born in Hyrum. Finnetta was her name. Six more children were eventually born to this couple.
In Hyrum, the first location was about one mile north of the present town site. Each head of family received twenty acres of land and a lot to build on, and the settlement was constructed into a fort for protection against the Indians. Many settlers dug cellars in the ground and lived in them.
In the spring of that year, ground was plowed and crops planted, but then came the grave question of water. Ira Allen had previously scouted out a route for a canal and, by aid of a spirit level, had made a rough survey of it. Jesse W. Fox surveyed the canal but his stakes were so far apart that they could not bring the water any distance. In Mr. Allen’s words “they were the sickest men you ever saw.” Their crops were growing fine but now the water was a failure. They then went to work in earnest and again, with the aid of a spirit level, brought the waters of Little Bear River from Old Paradise, a distance of nine miles, in twenty one working days. The canal was 5 ft. wide at the bottom and 8 ft. at the top. While these hardy men were doing the work, many of them lived only upon bread and water. The only tools in their possession were eight shovels and a few old spades, half worn, and a few homemade plows. After twenty one years, this canal still brought water to the city and farms of Hyrum and propelled sawmills and other machinery with its waters. The young men helped to build roads, bridges and canals (as previously mentioned) and, while they were engaged in this work, the older men were left in the settlement to guard women and children from the Indians who, as mentioned above, were very troublesome at times. Many nights Margaret sat up all night, afraid to go to bed when the men were away working, for fear the Indians would come. Calvin Bingham was first Bishop in this community, and then Bishop 0. N. Liljenquist was appointed in 1863. Hyrum was under the rule of Bishop Liljenquist for many years and it was strictly a cooperative city. The association was incorporated as “The United Order of Hyrum City.” The people of Hyrum made the road through Blacksmith Fork Canyon, opening the short cut to Bear Lake. The entire settlement turned out to finish the road to allow President Brigham Young and party to pass over it on their way to Bear Lake on August 25, 1873. Thus did the people of Hyrum do good service to the entire northern country.
William took a second wife, Mary Ellen Ward, on November 2, 1867. They were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City and would eventually have ten children, six daughters and four sons.
The house where William and his two families lived all their years in Hyrum was on the southwest corner plot across the street, east from the southeast corner of the “Public Square,” which was the center of the communities’ activities. On the “Public Square” was an open air pavilion for dances and other celebrations, the tabernacle, a primary public school, a church school called the “Academy,” the Court house and jail. One can readily see that the family lived in the center of things in Hyrum. At first, William built a two room log cabin which housed his large families for years. Some of the children slept in the granary, others in a trundle bed which was pulled out at night and pushed underneath the large bed during the daytime. After many years of such congested living quarters, William managed to build another two room cabin so that, henceforth, each family had a home of their own.
William and his brother Thomas were inseparable companions, working together in all things. They took great pride in going to the canyons and bringing home large loads of wood for the winter’s fuel supply. When Thomas married he became William’s neighbor. The death of Thomas, which occurred on November 27, 1881, was a severe blow to William. They had counseled and worked together so much that the loss was very keenly felt.
William worked at farming on a small scale all of his life. Part of a larger “Church Farm,” William’s farming plot was about two miles northwest of Hyrum where he went by horse or on foot day after day. Walking was an acceptable means of getting around in those days. One of the children would take his lunch to him, walking both ways without raising any complaints.
William was an ardent member of the Church. He was always found at his post of duty and did his best to get the members of his families to attend church regularly. He was very musical and always sang in the choir along with both of his wives and many of his children. Members of the Williams family furnished the music for many occasions in Hyrum. William was always a very dignified person, and his appearance became even more so when, for the last several years of his life, he wore a lovely white beard.
Along with other men who had married a second wife, William was sought by the sheriffs of Cache County, Utah, undoubtedly under the direction of the State of Utah. After many attempts he was located and served a subpoena in Hyrum by two officers, Whetstone and Steele, on December 21, 1887. On February 3, 1888, he was sentenced in Ogden’s 1st District Court by Judge Henderson for breaking the Edmunds Law (the manifesto would later be issued on September 25, 1890). William was one of the first men, if not the very first, in Hyrum to be arrested and go to jail for having more than one wife, although a number of men were as “guilty” as he. Very few of them could be found when the officers came from Logan because, when they were seen approaching Hyrum driving their horses or a one-seated buggy, whoever saw them would give the signal and all of the men with more than one wife would hide in the “underground”.
William was sentenced to six months in jail or $100 fine. Being unable to pay such a large fine, William went to jail. He was taken to the train in Logan by his daughter “Lizzie” (Elizabeth) and her new husband, Tom Rose. He traveled to Salt Lake City by himself, cheerfully saying that, if it was the Lord’s will, he would go to jail for his families. He served his six months and was released on August 13, 1888. He returned to his first family but was not allowed to live with Mary, his second wife. However, he did help to support both families. His first wife, Margaret, took in sewing and Mary did washing, housecleaning and sewing. Most of the children worked also, although none of them made more than a few dollars each week. Like many other small scale farmers, William worked out by the day whenever they could earn a little extra money by doing so. He occasionally used to work on the farm owned by his son-in-law, Thomas Rose, in Millville. He was working there on August 22, 1902, stacking hay when he died, evidently suffering an acute heart attack while on the haystack. He was missed suddenly when hay was put up to him and he wasn’t there. Upon going around the haystack he was found dead between two stacks. The Deseret News reported on William’s death, saying:
Word has just been received from Hyrum of the tragic death of William Williams, who fell from a-top a haystack this afternoon and was immediately killed. He was 78 years old, and was one of the oldest residents of Cache County, having lived in Hyrum for 40 years. He was a man of influence and was highly respected by the community.2
William lived a good life. He was every whit a Christian Gentleman, a credit to his posterity, his community and his church. His gravestone is found in the Hyrum City Cemetery.
William Williams as Remembered by his son, Willard Phillip3
I can remember him as a very religious man. His church duties came first and he saw to it that his children all did the same. He was a very hard working man and thought every one else should be the same. He had two families to support and doing that kept him very busy. He was very strict, sometimes even cruel and believed in using the whip when he thought it was necessary. On the other hand, he was also very nice. Of course, he did have two families and they didn’t get along too well and that put him in the middle all the time. He had a hard life; things were different then. It was hard work all the way as there was very little money at that time. We had a farm about eight miles from home and taking care of it kept him busy as horses were our only means of transportation. He also used to work a lot in the timber getting wood for firewood as there wasn’t coal available (or at least we never had any). It took a lot of wood for two families and he would haul enough in the fall to last all winter. Of course, he would always take one of us along to help. We would leave home about four o’clock in the morning and travel about ten miles up the canyon, taking our lunch with us (just a sandwich in a cloth). It would take us until eight or nine o’clock at night to get home with a load of logs. He was also very strict about paying his tithing. In those days, they paid in kind, giving whatever you had. He would take every tenth load of wood down to the tithing yard and turn it in. It was the same way when we cut hay; every tenth load of hay went to the tithing yard. He was always very careful to watch whoever was loading the tithing load to see that it was as large, if not larger, than the other loads. It was the same way at threshing time. We used to haul our grain home and stack it; then the threshing machine would thresh the grain. There, again, he was always careful to see that every tenth bushel was put in a separate place and taken to the tithing granary. I remember there were occasions when we didn’t have a sufficient crop to provide enough grain for flour for both families, nor for seed to plant in the spring. Even then, he always paid full tithing, even if it meant he would have to buy or borrow some of it back for planting in the spring or pay the church a peck on a bushel the next fall for the use of it.
Now about his recreational activities. He was a lover of good ball games. While he didn’t play himself, he was never too busy to go to the city park to see a game, even if it meant leaving the hay out in the field getting wet. Lizzie and Tom Rose had a summer home up the canyon and we used to go up there sometimes for a day’s visit. My dad would take his ax along and, while the rest were visiting, he would walk out in the timber and cut a load of firewood. He would pile it up and come back for it some other day.
W. P. Williams
1. (Information taken from stories written by grandchildren and from Church ChronolgyChronology compiled by Andrew Jensen 1899) Elleanora Williams Skinner (1984)
2. Deseret News clipping: Logan August 22, 1902
3. Written by Willard Philip Williams, son of William Williams (Text is typed exactly as written, most of the punctuation is added for clarity)
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 tables, additional pictures, and an every name index that are not included is this text only version.