Profiles From The Past

By Theoda Downs, Chairman Historical Heritage Society of Smithfield

We are grateful to the people who left a record giving us a profile of the past. One such is Mrs. Margaret Sant, one of Smithfield's pioneers (map) who some 50 years later, prepared and read a paper in a meeting of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. She still remembered those first days in the community and gave us information about some of the things they had to do that today we accept without thought.

It was July 8, 1914 that Mrs. Sant read her paper at the home of Rebecca Pitcher. Today we will quote only a small portion of what she gave that day.

"The people were camped around in different places until the Indian trouble on July 23, 1860. I have told you about the Indian trouble of that time; when Ira Merrill was killed and his brother wounded as well as Samuel Cousins."

After this incident, "We were all camped close together; four rows of wagons. We did our cooking, such as we had, by campfires outside of the wagons. We camped in this way for over two weeks and the Indians did not come back. However, the men all took turns guarding the camp both day and night. President Young sent word for all the settlers to make Forts to protect themselves. The Fort line was then laid out and all the people moved their tents or wagons to where they were going to build and great care had to be taken for fear of the Indians coming upon them unawares. When the men went to the canyons they went in a company, all armed, and it was the same when they went to the field to look after their crops.

"When the men got the logs from the Canyon and were ready to build, the brethren would help one another ... first putting up one house and then another. Some of the men who were good hands at building log houses were kept very busy. Some of them were: E.R. Miles, Sr., A. P. Raymond, George Barber, Thomas Winn, Thomas and Peter Richardson, George and Edwin Summers, Robert Nelson, Nathan Smith (cemetery marker), and George Done. They were very busy men at that time. And I must not forget Brothers Wm. Smith and Henschof who were very busy also.

"All the time this was going on, the men had to stand guard at nights. When the houses were up and the roofs on; there were no shingles, the logs were rough and the roof was straight willows laid close together and covered with grass and dirt; the windows were covered with factory, for very few had window glass and very few had floors only the ground.

"Often at night one and another would build campfires, a crowd would gather and we would listen to Brother Smith sing about the Derby Ram and a great many comic songs. Also Robert Fishburn and his wife Pricilla, George and Alice Done and Nathan Smith who lived on the Northwest corner of the fort, If we were in hard circumstances, we were happy and contented." Mrs. Sant described some of their household furnishings and the work done by the women of the community: "Our furniture was of the very crudest kind. Most of us had what was called Mormon bedsteads, which was a hole bored in the wall at the head, another for the foot and two sticks supported by one leg and boards or sticks laid across to put the bed on. Some had tables to eat from, others had boxes. I had a dry goods box laid on its side, which answered for a cupboard too. Sister Done had two holes bored in the wall and a board laid across, and many a happy hour we spent with one another.

"Now I want to tell you about the cloth making, for the nearest store was at Salt Lake City. Most of the people had a few sheep and the men sheared them in the spring. Then we washed it by the creek and when it was dry we had wool picking, and helped one another. Then it had to be taken to Logan or High Creek to be carded. We then spun it on the big wheel. When the spindle was full we reeled it on a reel and that was two yards around and put forty threads in a knot and ten knots in a skein and fifteen knots had one yard of linsey.

"When the spinning was done and the yarn washed we had to color it. There were no diamond dyes in those days so we gathered the flower of rabbit bush for yellow, tag Alden bark for black, and had to send to Salt Lake City for madder root to color red and indigo to color blue.

"Sister Peter Sorenson, Hannah Toolson and a sister Betsey Anderson did most of the weaving except a few who had looms and did their own. After the cloth was made, we had to make it up ourselves as there were no dressmakers in those days. There were many who could spin and many who could not. The misses Jane, Lorena and Charlotte Downs did a great deal of the spinning for those who could not spin. Harriet, Lucy and Julia Merrill also did a good deal of it.

"We had to make our own soap out of the ashes we had in the fireplaces. We also made our own candles if we had tallow, for electric lights were not even thought of in those days, We all had to carry our own water from the Big Creek as there was no water works at that time either."

Thanks to Sister Margaret Sant we can appreciate a little more what pioneer days in Smithfield were like. As we read with interest her account of those days, most of us will be more appreciative of the water from our taps, the cloth we can purchase at the stores, the soap we use, and the lights we get with a touch of a switch.

(Ed. Note: Taken from the Herald Journal Logan, Utah, no date on paper.
See also Smithfield.

Genealogy Collection provided by:
Becky S. Porter, 2493 S. Hulls Crossing, Preston, Idaho 83263

E-Mail: Roland K. Smith