SANFORD PORTER SR.
Born March 7th 1790, Brimfield, Massachusetts
Died February 9th 1873 Porterville, Utah
(The following autobiography was written by Sanford at the
request of Joseph Rich Porter at Porterville, Morgan County, Utah Territory, August 25th 1872. The original is in the Church Historian's Office, 47 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, being first "translated" from Sanford's own handwriting by Mussetta P. Burton, a copy of which was submitted to the editor by Mrs. Veda Porter Mortimer).
Sanford Porter's History
History of Sanford Porter, Sr., who was the son of Nathan,
who was the son of Timothy Porter. Timothy Porter was my grandfather. It should be mentioned here that Sanford got the
information concerning Timothy Porter from hearsay from "Old
Brother Tanner" late in his life. When Sanford died the baptism
work for his grandfather at Nauvoo, Illinois all he could give for
the record was "Grandfather Porter." A search of the vital records
and deeds of Rhode Island have given positive proof that Sanford
Porter's grandfather was John and not Timothy. The reader is
referred to the appendix of this volume (Porter Family History by
Joseph Grant Stevenson, Vol. 1) for the proof which is given in
detail--I feel sure to the satisfaction of all who desire the
truth. My grandmother's name I do not know. My mother's maiden
name was Susannah West. Her father's name was Thomas West. My
grandmother's name was Susannah Colgrove, from Wales. My
grandmother's name of my father's side I do not know. I was born
in the state of Massachusetts in the township of Brimfield on the
17th day of March, 1790. My father raised seven children by his
first wife, Hannah Witter--three sons and four daughters. The
sons names were Nathan, John, Phineas; girls were Fanny, Polly,
Desire and Rebecca. Nathan was his oldest son, and married
Tabbiathy Warner. They had seven or eight children. The oldest
girls' name was Betsy, then Tabbiathy, Philura, and one younger-
the baby. The boy's names were Nathan, Chauncey, Edward--I believe
one other boy, John. Father's second son married Hulda Witter,
commonly called Winters. She had four girls Phils, Hulda,
Clarissa, and Phoebe.
Phineas married a sister of Hulda Winters, and they had three
boys--Phillip, Sanford, and Parmer. Fannie, father's oldest girl,
married Timothy Nelson, and I understand she raised a large family.
Rebecca, the youngest girl, married a man by the name of Chapin. Polly and Desire died when they were young women--not married.
This is about all I know about father's family that he had by his
My mother (Susannah West), father's second wife, had four children. Joseph was the eldest, then Susannah, myself (Sanford) and Sally. Our family moved to the state of Vermont when I was almost four years old, where my grandfather, Thomas West, lived.
He had got to be old, and wanted Father and Mother to come and take charge of his farm and take care of him. He belonged to the Baptist society and had been a preacher in that church for more than thirty years. But there came a young man by the name of Richardson into that neighborhood, and he took charge of the church and so relieved grandfather of that burden.
Grandfather West had raised a family of seven children, their names: Jonathan, Samuel, Thomas, Joseph, the boys; Susannah,
Abigail, and Amy, the girls. Uncle Jonathan married Prudence Allen and raised a large family. The last I ever heard of this family they lived in Pennsylvania. Uncle Samuel I saw but once. He was then a preacher and lived in the state of Connecticut.
My father (Nathan Porter), lived until he was nearly seventy years old and died very suddenly. He went out one morning to the blacksmith shop to get some work done. He started home, got but a
few rods from the shop and fell. There were some men in the shop who saw him fall and seeing that he did not get up, they ran to see what the matter was. He had fallen face down. As they turned him over he made one gasp and was gone. The snow was about a foot
deep, but there was no sign of his having stirred either hand or
foot after he fell. He had been troubled a good deal with rheumatism ever since I can remember. Both night and day he suffered, filled with. groans he did not utter. Besides the rheumatic pains in his back and hip, he had one leg with running sores. He said they told him that witchcraft caused it, but he was driving a yoke of oxen one time with a heavy load of lumber, and going down a steep hill, his oxen took a scare at something, and in
trying to stop them they knocked him down, and one wheel ran over his leg and jammed it very bad, which was the cause of his running sore. He was almost blind for many years before he died; so much so that he could not tell one person from another except by their voices. His hearing was very keen, and his memory very good. If he heard a person speak but a few words he would always know them if they spoke, no matter how long it had been since he heard him speak. He could also rehearse the scriptures. He would have us children read the Bible to him, and he would keep it in his mind even so he could quote chapter and verse and where to find it.
He did not belong to any society of professed Christians. He went to the Baptist meetings quite often, but to no other that I know of. He told them they did not practice the doctrines Christ taught His Apostles: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believes not shall be damned. And these signs
shall follow them that believe. They shall heal the sick, cause the blind to see, the deaf to hear, cast out devils, etc.etc." He would tell them he had never seen nor heard of any of the professed Christian churches that those signs followed. They had all gone astray; there were none of them right. They had transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant. He would sometimes chastise them for this in their public meetings, and prove it from their own scriptures. The Baptists could not fellowship him--nor he them.
My sister Sally married Philo Richardson. He is dead. The last I heard she was living on the old farm where they lived fifty years ago. She has no children. Never has had any. My father had two brothers, John and Samuel. Uncle John I never have seen, nor any of his family.
Uncle Samuel lived in Oneida County, New York, about six miles south of the Vernon Glass Works. I lived in the same neighborhood some seven or eight years and was well acquainted with all of his sons. He had six of them, and two daughters. His sons were John, Reuben, Levi, Nathan, Cyrus, and William. John's wife had no
family. All of the other wives had families, but I don't recall any of their names except the two girls, Lucy and Cloie. They were both old maids.
When I first saw Uncle Samuel he was so blind he could not even see daylight. The folks told him whose son I was and he came
and grabbed me by the hand, and squeezed it and shook it, and said,
"oh how glad I am to see you (and he is blind)!! Is brother Nathan still living? Are your folks alive and well?" etc., etc.
We lived about 250 miles away from Uncle, away beyond the Green Mountains in the state of Vermont. Uncle and his family settled in Oneida County, New York, when it was a wilderness
country, all covered with heavy timber. Uncle was a tailor by
trade, and all day long he would work at his trade, much of the time by the fire in the grate. He would both make and mend clothes for men, and for his pay he would have those men chop down trees and cut them so he and his children could handle them. These logs were used for firewood. He thought his blindness was caused by sewing so much at night with such poor light. He and his wife both died on this farm.
I have given a scattering account of some of my kindred, and now I will write something respecting my own experiences. I was raised from the time I was four years old in the township of
Vershire, Orange County, Vermont, on the same old farm where Grandfather West lived and died.
The Story of Beverly Yate's
When I was seven or eight years old I was in the barn where father was husking corn. When the corn
was picked, it was piled up against the hay mow, and he threw the
husks back toward the stable. There were two doors in the barn, one to the north, and one to the south. Father had a stack of husks about five or six feet high. As I stood there watching father, I saw Beverly Yates come in at the south door and go out at the north door. I called out, "There goes Beverly Yates." Father sort of twisted around in his chair and said, "Where goes Beverly Yates?" I said, "He came in at the south door and went out at the north door." Said father, "What! You rascal! What are you telling me that lie for? How could he get over that pile of husks and I not hear him?" At that I ran to the north door and around the barn, but I could see nothing of him. The barn stood in an open meadow, with no fence within a hundred rods or more, and there was no place he could hide. I went back into the barn, and father said, "Well, did you see anything of him?" "No sir, I can't see a sign of him anywhere." "No. You were lying. You didn't see him go through the barn. I have a good will to give you a sound thrashing. I'll learn you better than to tell such lies as that."
I was so scared and so grieved to the heart that I went to the house weeping and sobbing. I did not know what to think of it. Said mother, "What is the matter, son?" I told her and I said, "I have told the truth. I knew him just as well as I ever did. His hair was all fuzzled up just like it always is. He wore neither hat nor cap; had on the same clothes he wears every day; and I know I am not mistaken." "Well, stop crying. I will talk to your father about it." Father came in and started scolding again, but mother said, "Don't scold him any more. I believe he has told the truth. Something may have happened to Beverly; we may hear something by morning." And sure enough, as we sat at our breakfast, news came that Beverly had been killed by a horse.
But how could it have happened? I only know it did, and
father believed me then, Beverly and I were the only boys that had the opportunity of playing together. He was some older and a
little larger than me, but we were good playmates. But why in the world should his spirit appear to me? How could it be and why should it be? Not only did I puzzle over this, but all the neighborhood was talking about it; some for; some against. None
could tell why. ~
Great are the mysteries of God. There is a spirit in man, and
the inspiration of the Almighty giveth it to them understanding. That spirit was created in the image of God--invisible and incomprehensive to mortal man. There is an invisible spirit of life in all the creations of God, for the Great Creator is the spirit of life which is on all things. He is above all things, in all things, and through all things; and all things are by Him and of Him. The spirit is of God; the body of the elements.
Dust returneth to dust; the spirit, to God who gave it or created it. It appears that all things were formed of the elements, formed and made spiritual, both the heavens and the earth and all things therein, before it was formed of the earth (second chapter of the book of Genesis).
The Lord had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground; but the Lord God caused it to rain and water the ground, and after being watered she (the earth) conceived and brought forth, first the different sorts of weeds and herbs and trees; second, the animals of every kind; third, man, who was called Adam. The earth is the Mother of all; for it is written, the Lord God formed man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into him the breath or spirit of life, and man became a living soul, being possessed of both the male and the female, created of the dust of the ground, which is a composition of all the elements--earth, air, fire and water...(but I think, Sanford, you are naturally inclined to wade in deep waters, searching for the bottom, and the time may come when you will have faith--strong faith--in God and his promises, and in yourself, to walk if necessity requires upon the face of the waters.
You will think strange, no doubt, that I should write or say so much about one little circumstance that happened in my life; so I will go back to where I started, when I was eight years old.
Sanford works for his half brother Nathan
About this time my half-brother, Nathan, came to make us a visit. He lived in the state of Connecticut, about 160 miles away from our home, and it had been many years since he had seen his father, and mine, having left us when we lived in old Brimfield.
He went in search of his fortune, and came to let us know he had not found it. He persuaded father and mother to let me go back with him and stay until I was of age, for he had not a son of his
own, and that I could help to do light chores night and morning. He said I could go to school most of the summer and winter and get a good learning. Said he would give me a good horse, saddle and bridle, and three suits of good clothes, and, if I remember right, a hundred dollars in money, besides my board and keep. Father hesitated, told him I was so small and slender he was afraid I would not be able to do much heavy work. Nathan said, "I want him mostly for company for the wife and children." He followed peddling and was gone from home a good deal. Said I could carry in small wood, feed the cows night and morning, take them to the
pasture about one-half mile from the house and bring them back at
night, etc., and so flattered father until he consented to let me
go. Mother was very much against me going with him, and so were the children, but he took me.
We went in a sleigh, as it was late winter. Things went
pretty good for a while, but not for long. I was not big enough or
strong enough to do all they wanted me to do, and they would scold
and fret and find fault, and cuff and jerk me about, and kick my behind and call me any mean name that happened to come into their heads. I was going to say thoughts, but I think they were usually in such a fret they spoke before they thought. He would not go
peddling in the spring until the ground got settled, and if he went horseback or with the wagon I had to gear up the horse or horses;
and I was not tall enough or strong enough to put the saddle or harness on. Always, I had to get up on the horse-block, and the horses would always sheer off and get out of my reach, and plague
me to tears before I finally succeeded in getting the outfit on their backs. Sometimes I would not get them on, and he would come out raging mad, and jerk or kick me off the block and call me a damned little pippin West curse, or a damned come-by-chance, or any of a thousand mean things whereby he could vent his passions. And his wife was not much better than he was She was a high-tempered fretful creature, and deceitful too. She would knock and kick me around in the house, but never out-of-doors for fear somebody would see her. She nearly starved me too. One of our common tin cups
about half full of bread and milk or mush and milk was my allowance always. Sometimes she would let me eat dinner at the table, but she always put on my plate what she wanted me to have, and I got no
more; and if I reached out to get more, as I sometimes did at first, she would stamp her foot, shake her head, and grit her teeth, let who would be at the table. No one would know what she meant but me (If Nathan and the girls understood, they did not care. It suited them well enough. The less I ate, of course, the less expense).
They bought their flour and some meat, mostly fish. Fish was plentiful and cheap. The people in Suffield Conn, the name of the township we lived in, used very little pork or beef. They had nothing in that region to fatten them on. If they had more than two or three cows they would let them out to people away in the back country, and they would get a certain share of the butter and cheese. It was a poor country for grain of any kind. They raised no wheat and very little corn, some rye, oats and barley. Rye and barley was most of their foodstuff, for few people could afford to buy flour. It had to be shipped in and was expensive. But it was
a great place for fruits of all kinds--both wild and tame; apples, pears, peaches, plums of every sort, large red cherries and apricots I can't remember the names of all the fruit that grew there, both wild and tame. There were acres of land on the river, I think, that was grape land. It covered (I may say) with a very large kind of grape--I suppose such as they make raisins of. There were huckleberries, strawberries, dewberries, mayapples, chestnuts, walnuts (black), butternuts, hazelnuts, etc,--the best country for fruit of great variety I have ever seen, in the season thereof. It was a great country for fowls, both wild and tame; geese, ducks and different sea fowls, and hunters and sportsmen from cities and
countries would come into that region and kill them in great numbers, and sell the feathers to merchants and travelers, and get most any price they wanted.
Feathers were a cash article. I have said that Nathan went peddling. Well, the things he peddled were feathers and indigo. There were other men living in the same neighborhood that followed the same business. The main road on which they lived went by the
name of Feather Street. These men would go down around the sea
shore and buy feathers of merchants or other men who had quantities. They would buy large sacks weighing perhaps 200 or 300 lbs. Then they would go far into the country and swap new feathers
for old ones, and get about three pounds for one, more or less, as they could flatter women to trade with them, or sell new ones for a big price--any way they could get something for nothing.
Their indigo they would make themselves. It was made of clay mixed hard and cut into chunks about two inches square; then put into strong blue dye until it got saturated. Then, they would bake it and get as many small cracks into it as they could, then put it into the dye tub again and let the blue soak in all it would; then dry it thoroughly. I did not see them make it, but someone told me they had seen it made. They would take a small sack of good indigo
and one of home-make, and how they would cheat the women folk, swapping that cheap stuff for feathers! (This home-made indigo was called Spanish floaters.)
Men who followed that business got property pretty fast. When they brought the old feathers home, they would open the sacks, and turn them loose in a tight room, and take a handful of brush, and
whip and thrash them about until they became lively and had every appearance of new feathers. I've had that job to do myself--strip off my clothes and go into a room full of feathers naked. After
they were done I would fetch their old dead feathers to the men, and they would put them into sacks again and call them (if they could be brought to life again) new feathers, and make a lot of money on them. And thus they obtained their riches by fraud and deception.
Nathan went out there a poor man. I don' t think he had anything but the clothes he stood in. I have heard him say, though, that he had a little kit of shoe tools and went to shoe making with old Mister Warriner who lived in Endfield across the river opposite Nathan's place; and I think he was the father of Nathan's wife.
A little circumstance that took place just after I went there caused me to think he must be. One morning just after breakfast I heard Nathan say to his wife, "Here comes old Chaunce again abegging." I looked and saw an old man coming from toward the river with a sack under his arm, and when he came in they said, "How-d
do, father; how-d-do, how-d-do," etc. I learned by listening that he came there to get flour or other things to dine on. I thought they must be a poor family, or rather, a family of poor souls
(people). Nathan had a good home, frame house and barn, well finished off, thirty acres of land, well fenced, all kinds and sorts of fruit trees, young, just beginning to bear. Their garden was well fenced with a picket fence, with currant and gooseberry bushes on one side and end, off from the street. Then he had forty acres of land about three-fourths of a mile from his home--mostly pasture land--ten acres of beautiful meadow, and about three acres plowed. They had prospered much, and had good buildings, cows and
horses and wagons, household furniture, beds, bedding, chairs,
bureaus and tables, crockery, iron ware, etc.; and Nathan's wife
had the big head until she almost died with it. (That was why she treated me as she did. I was a poor little boy, boy, despised abused by my own kind, who should have been my friends
While I was there Nathan bought another farm of seventy-five
acres of a man named Williams. He gave, I think, $2,100.00 for it. It had quite a large frame house on it that looked old and weatherbeaten, and another old frame building that they used to store
feathers in and prepare the old ones for the market. There was a number of those big sacks of feathers there when Nathan bought the place. The apple trees on that place must have been more than a hundred years old Some of them were a foot and a half or two feet through. Everything about the place was run down, unkempt,
forsaken, and I should say shocking to look at. However, the storehouse was a very good building; had a good strong door with lock and key, but no windows--a place of darkness where evil deeds were done. Nathan had his barn hauled down (about 1/4 mile), and they did it thus; they put long slides or runners under the barn and fastened to the side, and had six yoke of oxen hitched to each runner, and men with their forks and poles to steady the barn until they got it where Nathan wanted it to stand. There came a large company of men, some to help and some to see the sport. And sport it was. For they hollered and hoo-rahed and rah-rah-rahed, and swung their hats, and whooped and yelled until with their noise they drew all the women and children in the neighborhood out to see the fun. They got quite funny, too, for they had all the liquor of
various sorts they could drink--to please the taste and gladden the heart--and pies and cakes and cheese all they could eat. They had a high time of it, and all in good nature. But my heart was not so
light, for I knew the purchase of that old farm meant a real job for me.
I have spoken of the run-down condition of the place, but that wasn't half. The whole farm was a wilderness of weeds, as big as
weeds could grow, some higher and bigger than I was. And I had to take an old heavy busy sythe to mow them with, and had to stay with it until it was done. Oh it makes my back ache to think of it! I could not leave this work until chore time, and all the water I had to drink was rain water that had stood (sometimes it looked lye red) in holes that had been made by the cattle when the ground was soft after a rain. And I had to sup water that the cattle would not sup--or starve for a drink. Nathan was so fat and pussy that he could not get about very lively, and when he tried he would puff and blow and grunt like he had run a long race. (His common weight was about 250 lbs.,sometimes more). So he took life easy at my
expense. The neighbors finally got wrought up over the way he made
me work, and managed some way to get word to my people of the abuse and hardships I had to endure, and Mother and Joseph, my brother, took each of them a horse and came for me full speed. Mother rode sixty-five miles a day on a horse that was sprained in both hind
legs (she had a side-saddle). Joseph rode a two-year-old colt. They were so anxious to get me they did not spare the horse-flesh.
When they got there, Nathan was all wrought up and said I should not go. He cursed around and said I should not have any clothers to go in, etc. But after he had given vent to his passion and cooled down a little, he said I might go and take all my belongings. He became quite good-natured, and his wife also. Got
so friendly they insisted on mother and Joseph staying awhile to rest themselves and horses, which they did. When we left they gave us provisions to eat on the road.
I was so full of joy I did not know how to contain myself, and
when we got so far, so I was sure he could not hear me, I would laugh and skip and holler and whoop. Mother charged me time and again not to make so much fuss, lest I cause excitement among the people. But I was Oh, so glad to get out of that hell and darkness
I had been in for three years that I could not hold back.
It was not long after I left there that Nathan went broke.
His wife left him, and the children went to Ohio. For some time when I left, the people of the neighborhood were in high fever in old Connecticut about the state of Ohio, getting rid of all their possessions as fast as they could and moving. I remember a little song they used to sing:
"We will plow and we will sow, we will reap and we will mow: We'll all get ready and we'll go...to the state of O..hi...o. And we'll settle on. the banks, of the pleasant O..hi..o; Yes, we'll settle on the banks of the O..hi..o."
I think the reason Nathan went broke was because of his crooked work. And I think that man who sold him that place, with so many sacks of feather, got wind of trouble and was mighty glad to get it off his hands before he lost it. Little did he care for the
trouble he was heaping on Nathan; but I could not feel sorry for him (Nathan). I remember the last time Nathan went out peddling feathers and his home-made indigo, he came back cursing the people for accusing him of having designs on them.
I can remember some things that make me chuckle now, but that did not seem funny then. We did not have a lot of ploughing to do-just two gardens and three acres on the other place that we had just moved from. Nathan would hold the plow and have me ride one of the horses, and how he would hang on to those plow handles, and puff and sweat and get red! But I would have to stop every time we turned around, so he could get a breath, and we got along tolerable well.
Nathan's wife had a sister older than she who married a man by the name of Seaman, I think. They came to Nathan's after we had moved, and talked of renting the house we had left. But laws!! They had nothing to keep house with of any account. She had a bundle tied up in a blanket (I thought perhaps a feather bed, and some bedding maybe), and two or three old chairs that I can remember. But they did not want to rent--they wanted to stay where they could eat and sleep and not work. He was a poor, lazy, idle drone--makeshift. They stayed quite a long time at our place, and
had everything for nothing, even the soap to wash their clothes. Nathan finally got tired of that, and I guess he was not slow in telling them. I never heard of them again after they left.
I haven't mentioned about going on a trip with Nathan down into the state of Rhode Island to buy feathers--the second year I was there. That was the time I saw the farm where father was raised, and his father also. It was a poor, hard, rocky country.
Not much of the land could be plowed. They had to dig most of it up with a mattock or grub hoe made for the purpose. They could hardly use a spade in that soil, for you can't spade rocks. I don't wonder the people got out of that place as fast as they could, especially the farmers.
When we went on this trip, Nathan drove the team hitched to the wagon, and I went horseback on a horse that was packed with as many sacks as could be bound on a saddle--and I atop of them. The feathers were new, light, and lively. The sacks were seven or
eight feet long and four feet through, and when they were bound on,
they were higher than my head. I could not see to my right or to my left, but straight ahead of me. It was very hot weather. I sweat streams and nearly smothered, and we had, I think, three days of this--until we got home, anyway. It was one hundred miles or more--a long journey in olden times. There was a strip of land I noticed along the river on both sides for about five or six miles that seemed to be free from rocks, and I rested through all my body to look at it. This was used for pasture land. Then again there
would be rocks a-plenty--rocks so large that no man could handle them, and here I saw people mowing their hay. They had to full-swing their scythes, the flints being higher than their heads; then
scoop the grass out from between the rocks. Rocks, rocks, rocks, everywhere!!! But fruit trees did well there; fruit a-plenty of
every sort in spite of rocks. '
Well, I think I have said enough about rocks and feathers for the present. Well, I started to tell you about the trip home from hell. We were a week or more getting there. We had to travel slow, because Joseph and me had to take turns from riding to walking, as the colt could not carry both of us, and we stopped a few times on the way with relatives or friends to rest both ourselves and the horses. We stopped a day or two with Becky, father's youngest daughter by his first wife. They were very poor, and had no place for us to sleep. But she had a very kind neighbor who gave us beds. Their name was Cunnibal. They belonged to a society of people called Dorrelites. They were a singular sect. They would not eat or wear anything that had ever had life--not even boots or shoes made of leather. They wore cloth shoes with wooden soles, and nothing of any name or nature could be killed on his place if he knew it. They raised lots of fruit and had many stands of bees. He took up a large quantity of honey the day we went there. They had a long table that reached clear across the room, loaded with honey of all sorts--in the comb and out of the comb, They told us to go and eat all we wanted and gave us bread, cake and cheese to eat with it. And there were pears, plums and other fruits a-plenty. We sure had a feast of things, without money and without price. And the way I laid the honey in was a caution. I ate so fast and so much, the woman said to mother, "I am sore afraid that the boy will kill himself." And mother said, "I don't think it will hurt him, if you don't care." But her saying that I would kill myself surprised me, and I did not eat all I wanted. But I have never hankered for it since like I did then.
When we got ready to leave, this kind man and woman furnished us with ample provisions to last us home. We got all safe and
well, and were a happy family to be all together again. Mother and father would not let me work, but said I was to rest and sleep all I wanted to, And oh, how good it seemed when I would wake up in the morning, as soon as I could fetch my wits about me, to know I could go back to sleep, and there would be no one to curse me!
A little while after we got home mother got lame--so lame she could not walk. She had a swelling come on her right thigh which was very painful and laid her up for a long time. After much
suffering it came to a head and broke and became a running sore, and she had a high fever for some time. (Father thought then, and I still think that riding so far and so fast in a day with that leg over the horn of the side-saddle was the cause of her trouble.)
Then I started getting weak and sickly, and soon the both of us
were bedfast. My trouble was in my bowels. Great long worms, eight
or ten inches long, would pass me at times. Father had five doctors one after the other, but none of them did me any good. All of the five said I had quick consumption, for which there was no
cure--all of which was very discouraging to me, for I had concluded I had to die. I was very thin, and weak, but I had an awful appetite for food, and could not make out why I did not get heavier instead of wasting to nothing. Father had a long cradle made so that mother could layout straight and rest. Sometimes they put me
in that cradle for a change, and father or the girls would rock it. It sort of soothed the nerves. .
Mother finally got so that she could hobble around, and she would fix food and drinks for me that she thought might help me; but nothing seemed to help. Then one day a Dr. Baldwin, a stranger in the settlement, came by chance to our house--I think he stopped for a drink And father or someone in the room set him a chair. Mother was lying on the bed, and father sat on the edge of the bed beside her. Father explained that his wife had been very ill for some time. He (the doctor) sat facing father and mother. I was a little back of him; he had not seen me. Soon he glanced around and
caught sight of me in the cradle, and exclaimed, "What have you here--another sick one?" "Yes," said mother, "He is my boy, and he has been sick for some time. The doctors all say he has quick
consumption, and there is no help for him." He looked steady and sharp at me for a bit. Then came over and took hold of my nose and rubbed it a bit, and said, turning to father and mother, "So they say he has quick consumption, do they? Well, I can cure that consumption damn quick. It's the devilish worms that's killing your boy--eating up all that goes into him and starving him to death."
At that, father jumped to his feet. "You think you can cure him?" "I know I can cure him." "Then get to work as quick as possible," said father and mother. He went out immediately, and I almost wept for joy; and believe me, the family were on the very edge of hysteria. He soon came back with an armful of roots,
washed and cleaned them good, then poured boiling water over them and steeped them just so long. Then he put something he had with him into this thin liquid, and gave me a dose. He stayed all night and watched me and gave me this medicine. (He wanted to see what reaction he got, he said.) Then he told mother what to do and left.
Mother was very careful to follow his directions, and within two or three days the worms began to leave. They came from me all tied up in knots as big as good-sized apples--quarts of them--or all cut up in little pieces. It was several days before I got
cleared of them. Mother watched and tended me close until she was sure the worms were all, gone. I was so weak and sore inside I could hardly breathe. The doctor said the worms had eaten all the
linings of my bowels, and he said, "When this medicine stops working, you must give him castor oil for a few days to tone up his guts." Mother would-have made an awful good nurse; she was an allaround good woman for anything she set herself to do, as far as I know. ~
It was quite awhile before they could get my insides in order,
so I gained strength very slowly at first. But in a few weeks I began to pick up real fast, and felt uncommonly well for me. Never in my life had I felt so good, and I grew like a weed in rich soil well cultivated (I was between eleven and twelve years old at this time).
The family was so taken up with my case that they paid very little attention to mother's condition. That sore kept running, and her thigh and leg had shrunk a lot Dr. Baldwin had gone on his way, and mother and another doctor tried everything they knew to dry up the sore, but did not succeed. After several months, there came another man traveling through the country who called himself a root doctor and said his name was Styles. He was a big, raw-boned man, and the tallest man I have ever seen before or since. He was rising of eight feet high. When he looked at father, he wanted to know what was the matter with him. Father said, "I am blind; I cannot see you at all" "Well that's bad," said Styles. A man ought to have good eyes, for he can tell nothing by his ears."
I stood almost spellbound, looking at this man and listening to him talk. He was loud-spoken, and his voice was like the sound of a monster drum. He saw mother and wanted to know what had happened to her. Father told him the whole circumstance and wanted to know if he thought he could help her, and what he would charge. The man said he charged nothing for doctoring, but if people had anything he needed or could use he would be glad to accept it. He looked at mother's leg and said he believed he could heal the sore,
but she likely would be lame for a long time--that the thigh and leg were so shrunken from that poison eating at it so long it was doubtful if she ever could walk free again. However, he concluded he would stop and see what he could do.
It was the fore part of the day when he stopped at our place and after resting awhile he took a spade and went down to the
pasture (a swamp) and dug what he called a blazing fire weed. This
weed grew about four feet high, and looked something like a pig weed. The branches all came out within a foot or two of the top and grew straight up, not far from the stock; and there would be a
number of pods, some as large as a large pea pod. In the pods was a sort of cotton, and when the pods burst the wind would blow the cotton about like feathers. The roots have on a thick bark. This they peeled off and pounded into a soft mass with no lumps in. They
then culled the poultice which they applied to the sore. When one
got hard, they put on another and so on until the sore dried and
healed. It fixed mother up alright, but she was always a little lame. But not so much but what she could get back to her old trace-weaving. She had that business almost if not quite perfect.
I have never seen, known or heard tell of anyone who could beat her
weaving by throwing their shuttle with one hand and catching it
with the other hand. She never did use a spring shuttle, and she could weave cloth of any kind or sort--single work, double work, fancy work, and coverlaids of various kinds as people would fancy. She created and drew her own design. She could draw any picture she pleased, whether she had ever seen the like or not; and whatever her picture resembled she would call it. And she could make them resemble anything she wanted. When the coverlaid was made ready to spread on the bed, there was the picture of trees and spangles and birds, or anything people fancied, all come out just right-perfect! How she did it I don' t know. She could weave eight to ten yards of cloth in a day when she used but one shuttle and had someone to wind that could wind quick. At the age of sixty she was still quick of motion and strong in back and arms. She learned to weave when she was quite young; and she followed that principally through her life to old age.
Her brother, Jonathan, followed the same line of business, and managed a farm besides. He married Prudence Allen. She was a nice wise and smart woman. She did weaving also, and they kept one loom going night and day most of the time, especially in the fall and winter. She had her children and family affairs to attend to, but for all that, she kept other irons hot. She was a lot like the
Wests. They were a working set of people, especially Grandfather West's family.
In the old days when father lived in Rhode Island, there were witches and misers and robbers and such. There was one gang of robbers I used to hear them talk about--about forty of them--that bound themselves together by oaths to rob and plunder wherever and whatever they got a chance--anybody and everybody, had they little or much. And if anyone of them turned traitor he was to suffer death. There were four or five of them who came into Rhode Island.
There lived in that neighborhood a very rich miser. He had a wife and one daughter. And these men one night robbed him, but before going into the house, they jumped into the sea with their clothes on and went dripping to his house and said they were seamen and their vessel had foundered, and all but they were lost. The whole crew said they had not eaten for several days and were nearly starved. They must have something to eat, and wanted a good hot supper, so the women folk went to preparing a meal. There was an
iron shovel standing by the fire, and one of the men stuck the shovel into the fire and after they had eaten they got this red-hot shovel and held it over the man and demanded him to give them his money. He refused, and they burned him, and kept on burning him
and demanding--and he refusing, until they burned him to death. Then they told the women to fork over or they would meet the same fate. She did not dare to refuse, and the robbers took, besides all their beautiful silverware, which was much, knives, spoons, cups, saucers, plates, tankards and such. A lot of this fine silver had the old man's initials on, and they were caught (three of them) and identified through the sale of those things. The names of the three were Roy Coone, Church and Paine.
Coone and Church were the chaps that got father--broke him dead. Father sold his farm to them in Rhode Island, and went up to old Brimfield and bargained for a farm. He had taken Coone's
notes--payable at different times, and the man he bought from agreed to wait on him to take his pay as he got it from Coone. But after awhile Coon forwarded forged receipts with father's name
signed to them, and witnessed by one of the gang. Father went after them, but could do nothing. Of course, the man who sold to father stuck him for his pay. But father was in the hole, and how to get out he did not know. He could see no way but to flee the country. So he fled and went up into York state to his brother, Samuel. Here he took up a piece of land adjoining Uncle's. He was up there about two years, and got ten acres fenced and in good condition. Then he came down to Vermont to get us to go back to York state. But mother had been busy while he was gone--got a farm and had things all fixed so that father could not sell or do anything with it, so he decided he had better stay with us in Vermont.
When father left we were in old Brimfield, Mass. And when mother found out he had gone and left her there with us children to get along the best we could, she fixed things there so she could leave, and fled to her father in Vermont state. (I was about four
years old. I can still remember several circumstances that took place on the road.)
When we got to Vermont, mother found that her father was considerably in debt too, and he was very much worried about it.
He had been sick quite a long time, and so had grandmother before she died--and this had reduced him almost to poverty. Mother, by some means, had saved up a few hundred dollars, and I have understood that she bought her father's place at her own price. That was not a high price. If I remember right it was $350.00. Land and farms were low-priced in that part of the country at that time. After, Grandfather West made his will and deeded his farm and all he had to my brother Joseph and me. It was fenced off in four or five fields--meadow, pasture, plow land and timber land-
hardwood timber principally consisting of beech and maple and some
sugar trees. Grandfather thought that although the whole thing belonged to mother, that it would be best to keep it in his own
name and deed it to us in legal form, so that father's creditors could not come on us and take it for his debts. He had it fixed so that it could not be sold or by any means disposed of until I was twenty-one. Then we could manage it anyway we wanted to. Eventually father's children got busy and settled up all his debts in old Brimfield, and then some of them went to York state and took
possession of father's property there. It was not any fault of
father's that he got so into debt, for he was not a man to have debts facing him. It was the crooked work of Coone and Church, the robbers, that brought trouble upon his head, and when he was face to face with it he went into a panic.
We did not hear from John and Phineas for a number of years after they went up into York state. (John and Phineas were younger sons of the first family--married the Witter sisters--probably nieces of Hannah Witter, the mother of the boys.) There was no
direct connection between York and Vermont in those days. The only
way we could get word or send word was way around by old Brimfield.
There was a big high mountain between Oneida County, New York and
Vermont, called Vermis Green Mountain from which Vermont derived
its name. The reason it was called Vermis Green Mountain was
because it was infested with so many wild animals; bears, wolves,
wildcats, catamount, elk, moose, deer--in fact, all names of wild
animals; and it was covered with a heavy growth of timber that is called ever living green, such as pine, hemlock, spruce, balsam, cedar and such. And the tops of these trees are always green. It was considered to be a very dangerous thing to attempt to travel
over this mountain unless you had plenty of company and was well armed with rifles, butcher knives, and all manner of weapons. The
road over this mountain was very narrow and crooked, and it was like traveling in the night, no matter what time of day you went through, especially if it was a cloudy day. From the east side it
is seven miles to the top, but from the west it is only five miles. It is very steep on the northeast, but gradual on the west, and not so much timber. Before I left there was a company grant to make a turnpike road. They cut away timber from four to eight rods wide and made quite a straight road. It had never been traveled much before the turnpike road was made, but it got to be the main road from the capitol of Vermont state to Albany, N.Y.
So much for the road. I will go back to my self again and our affairs. After I got well from that worm sickness I took to growing very fast, and put on inches that fall and winter, and got lots stronger. Joseph, me and the girls all went to school that winter. After school we all went to making sugar. We had a place to boil our sap, and we had fixed what we called a sap-yoke made to fit our shoulder, and we could carry two buckets full at one time to the
boiling place. We made plenty of sugar for our own use, and some to spare--also some molasses and vinegar. As soon as the sugar season was over we started fixing and mending fences and making ready to put in our spring crops. We did not sow much wheat, but we sowed oats, barley, rye and flax seed--also peas, beans, corn and plenty of potatoes. We always kept the weeds down well, and usually had good crops. After the spring crops were in we went right to haying. And when the hay was in the barn, we would be ready to harvest our grains, peas, beans, etc. and dig potatoes and get everything safe and secure before the cold days and frosty nights hit us. We were always the first people in our vicinity to have our winter supplies in and our work all done in the season thereof, and ready to prepare other things as needed.
We also made a practice of gathering chestnuts and black walnuts to crack winter evenings and when there was nothing else to
do, or to entertain visitors, etc. There was a man by the name of Eastman living near us that had a hill pasture on which grew a
great many chestnut trees. Any of the neighbors might go there and gather an ordinary amount if they would notify him of their
intentions; he wanted all to share alike. So my brother, Joseph, went and got liberty to gather a few chestnuts. He took a horse and as many sacks as he thought he could pile on him (the horse),
and came home loaded. Then Justin Warriner, my wife's brother,
seeing this, went and got liberty to gather a few chestnuts. He took two horses and a wagon, and came home loaded. Together the boys had brought home a good many bushels. Eastman found out about it and told a neighbor they had taken a lot more than he had any
idea they would take.
That winter all of us children went to school regularly until it closed. Joseph, myself and the girls all went to school the
winter Phineas died, as long as school lasted. When school was out we went right to work making sugar, as was our custom. The sugar season lasted until about the first of May, sometimes a little later. The snow in that country would generally lay on until the last of April or fore part of May, and we could make sugar or molasses as long as the ground was frozen. When the weather got so warm that the sugar water would sour in the bucket or sap troughs,
we would make a barrel or two of vinegar. Then, there was always fence repairing before we started putting in the crops, after which Joseph and I would gather birch sticks and hew off the branches to make brooms. Father could not do any kind of work out of the house, so he made birch brooms summer and winter all year around. He could not sell many in our neighborhood, but he would make up a goodly parcel of them and take them down to the Shakers, about forty miles from our place, and trade them for clothes, shoes, etc. that were rather the worse for wear. The shoes would usually have a hole about the size of a dollar worn through the sole right on the ball of the foot, caused by whirling on that part of the foot,
which was a part of their worship. They give him good bargains always on account of his blindness and lameness. They gave him
liberty to sit where he could see, or rather hear their worship. They would have a regular dance, and then start to whirl like a top. They wore very long hair, and it would switch in each others faces, into their mouths, and round their arms, breasts and shoulders. They were a sight indeed.
Well, the crops all in, we now had to go after weeds and thistles--keeping them down, and were busy until haying time, when Joseph would mow, and me and sister Sally would get into the barn.
Joseph also cut grass for other people--by the acres sometimes, and sometimes by the day. Justin Warriner and Reuben Grover would take jobs with him. Get those three boys together and they would
generally take along a bottle of rum, and they would run races and wrestle and hip-hurrah until a stranger would be very apt to pronounce them crazy. But they did their work. They would cut a
good many acres of grain in a day, and do it well. I know they must have done or people would not have wanted them, and they were
always being sought. The hay season usually lasted until the first of October. Then by the time other crops were garnered, winter was
on us again, and school was coming on too.
I did not go to school this winter, and Reuben Green did not teach. He was a shoemaker by trade, and I worked with him to learn
the trade instead of going to school. There was a man by the name
of Rolfe who taught school this year. He had five fingers and a thumb on each hand, and Joseph and the girls went to his school.
I worked all winter with Reuben Green and learned the shoemaker trade. I learned other things too--one was not to lie as he did. People would go to him with leather to be made up into boots or shoes for which they were suffering the need, and he would promise to have it done "by tomorrow night or the day after tomorrow," etc. when he knew it was not possible to come within ten days or two
weeks of fulfilling his promise. "Well no, they are not quite done, but they will be tomorrow night--not later than the day after tomorrow." And when they came back again he had some very good excuse to offer; had to do this or that; go here or there. I mind even now how those little lies affected me. It wasn't long until Israel Comstock and his two daughters had all the business in those parts, and I was downright glad, for they were honest and did excellent work. After that winter I was afraid to promise people anything for fear some accident or unavoidable thing might happen to keep me from filling my promise. I have said I went to the best school that winter I ever went too--I learned a lot more than shoemaking.
Well, we had altogether a good farm for that part of the country, and it was the best thing that could have happened to all the family concerned. We could help one another as our needs
required. But Joseph gave us to understand that he was in line for a family now, and he must think of that first, as he wanted to get in shape to educate and otherwise take care of them. I had one horse and a yoke of three year old steers, and Joseph had a team,
so we worked together mowing grass and getting in the hay. Sally did most of the treading, both on the sled and in the barn. Mother did most of the housework, making cheeses and curing them. She
made cheese to sell, as well as to keep the family supplied. She also had a big garden of vegetables and flowers which she kept weeded and looking perfect. She wove cloth both for wearing apparel and for, fancy things, as I before mentioned. She was indeed a smart woman for work. I have never yet known a woman that could compare in any way with my mother.
Father did many little odd jobs, such as churning butter,
carrying wood, and chopping some kindling (had to feel where he hit); and altogether we got along very well, and had things as nice as any farmer in our locality. And with all the drawbacks of those parts in those times, we had better surroundings than most people in those parts with everything in their favor. So far as I've been able to observe, people in those parts just expect the Lord to hand over everything all stitched up or ready-made. People don't weed their gardens there, much less their fields and all around outside their fences. And that's much more of a job than anyone would think that is not acquainted with conditions back there in Vermont.
That fall, later, Joseph and I took a job of cutting cord wood for a man. I could cut and cord two cords a day, and Joseph two. He was bigger and stronger than I was--larger in every way. But I had some arts that he didn't have. I could beat him all hollow pitching hay. I was not afraid to pitch with any man, big or little. I was quick of motion--much quicker than Joseph. I have pitched hay on an bet many times. When I would beat them they would say, "You sure deceive your looks, young man." But you can't tell by the look of a frog how far he will jump. They told me I was a chip off the Porter block, for when my father was a young man, he could out-hop any man in the country. He would hop three hops and kick a hat off a ten foot pole that stood straight up, and still keep on his feet; and did it time and time again.
Old Nathan Tanner (my mother's first husband's cousin) related to me these same circumstances. Brother Tanner was raised in the same neighborhood as my father. He told me he was well acquainted with father and grandfather in the state of Rhode Island. Brother
Tanner told me of many circumstances that took place in those days, one in respect to Ross, Coone, and Church cheating father out of his farm. And he told me that my grandfather was called "Old Tip" because his name was Timothy, and that they called father "HoppityKickity" because he could out-hop any person known in these parts.
Nathan Tanner lived and died between the two Cottonwood creeks south of Salt Lake City. He said his cousin, Nathan (my mother's first husband) was a blacksmith by trade, and one day there was a
number of men who were testing their strength by lifting the anvil, but none of them could carry it. So his cousin, Nathan, went over, caught up the anvil, and carried it across the shop. This caused something inside to break, and that caused his death. I had heard my mother tell the same story when I was a lad at home. She said he killed himself carrying an anvil on a bet. Oh pride, pride and ambition--"conquer or die"--all this is well in a worthy cause,
but more people do things to satisfy vanity (even unto death) than they do in the cause of truth and worthy accomplishment. "I will be the smartest, the strongest, the quickest, the best in the crowd--no matter what, the game; whether its hopping, skipping, jumping, wrestling, or pitching hay. I must be it, let the consequences be what they may!! Such is the vanity of man.
After the hay was gathered...I soon had to go to cutting my
small grain and mow and rake it, and gather it the same as hay because of the thistles which were among it. By cutting it when it was either green or damp it would not waste much. Then I had to gather my other crops. Once securing them it seems that there is
always something on hand for a farmer to do. He must not be idle
for it is written that the laborer shall not eat the bread nor wear the garment of the laborer. (Some) think an industrious farmer earns his bread and clothing, but I believe there are many in the world who do not. When I had my crops all secured for winter, there was shoemaking to be done, but I did not make shoes for the neighbors after our school began. Sister Sally and myself went to school most of the time that winter. There was the thrashing to be done. Father thrashed some of the grain and then came the sugar making. The sugar season would last until May. I had to cut all the wood for the sugar work, and tap the trees and gather the sap and haul the fire wood and cut most of it fit for the fire (I was now 16 years old and about as large as common young men of my age). I got along very well with our sugar making.
I had to keep father in broom sticks, and fit them for him. He could not be content unless he was at work at something to busy his mind. Father would make them very nice to please the people-not in our neighborhood--for they wanted him to give them away. He would take them down among the shakers and do very well. I made some shoes for the neighbors, but there were two of our neighbors who never bothered the shoemakers. They had 8 or 10 children in each family, but they would not get their children either hats or shoes. The boys never wore hats or shoes summer or winter. They went to school all winter bare foot, and the girls had nothing but some old stockings. Most of them had good farms for that part of the country, but they said they had worked hard for what they got, and they wouldn't let their children waste it by tearing around with other children at school or anywhere else.
Some of them were grown men and women, but they would not let either the boys or girls work for other people to get anything they needed new.
I did not work at shoemaking much for there was plenty for me
to do on the farm (I was now 17). There were the fences to repair and the plowing to be done and putting in our spring crops, and by the time I had got that done, then I had to go to work and not let the thistles and weeds get so thick as to injure the crops, and it kept me very busy. I could not get time to be idle or to play, for it was highly necessary to keep what we planted clean from weeds in
that country as it is in any country. I had to keep on hoeing until haying came on; then the haying to do. I got so I could mow pretty well--the worst trouble was I couldn't learn to whet my scythe so as to have it cut well--and in fact I never could. I believe I did all my mowing this year and hauled my hay with one horse as before mentioned or the year before. It took me a while to get all the hay in the barn. I think there was about ten acres to mow over Well about as I had finished the haying, there was the small grain to harvest, and by the time that was done it became time to haul beans, corn and potatoes and secure all for winter. When all was secured--well now you may rest a few days. But you must get up a big pile of wood for winter before the snow comes deep and before school commenced. My sister Sally and I went to school most of the winter. After school was out we prepared for the making of sugar.
One of the neighbor's boys went away and learned the furniture-making trade, but could not sell his chairs, etc., so he wanted me to go in with him and make wooden bottles. It looked to be like it might bring us in a little money, so I agreed. He made them of poplar wood--quarts, pints, any size anyone would want. We sold a few in the neighborhood, but to the merchants and vendors of
whiskey we sold them by the dozens. We qot some money and some store pay as we needed. When I had to go at the farm work, he would go back to making chairs and such things as he could sell. He could make more staying steady at bottle making, but if I let my crops go to loose ends, I would lose more than I would gain-much more. I knew that and had to look out for it. Then came winter and Christmas time, and I could make more at shoe and boot making. And he could not make bottles alone, for as soon as the timber was gathered it had to be sawed in lengths, bored with an auger, turned, boiled and painted. We would both bore, he would turn, I would boil and we'd both paint.
After Christmas I would go to school until sugar-making time. I was 18 now and had only about 27 months schooling all together and I did want to get learning enough to do or handle common business, especially in ciphering. If you don't know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide, you're putty if you fall into the hands of a shark--and so far I had got only to the double rule of three.
Sanford works for Major Mann
I did not make sugar, for father was owing about $30 or $40 to old Major Mann for goods purchased from his store, and he was threatening to sue if the bill was not soon paid. So Joseph said he would help make sugar and do the farming if I would go out and get work and square up with the old man. I went directly to see the old man, and after some talk and parley, he gave me work at $90 a
month. I did all the chores, tended the garden, and did errands for the housekeeper, and a lot of running around for everybody else.
Their house-keeper was a big stout woman, which stood her in good stead, for she had much to do. Breakfast must be served at 6
o'clock, prompt. Everybody that ate at the kitchen table must be seated at that time or get nothing to eat until dinner. Old Mrs. Mann had a table in her sitting room, and ate by herself except
when she had distinguished company. She did not eat until the
other breakfast was over and the kitchen work all tidied up. Then
the mistress of the house had the daintiest and best land could supply. The hired men would get all the old stuff they could not sell and would not eat--old stinking bacon, moldy cheese (often full of skippers), rancid butter, and every other old thing that could not be sold in the store. Mrs. Gould, the housekeeper would wash and re-salt and work the butter allover so as to make it as palatable as possible. And she would try hard to make everything clean and fit to eat. She was a good-natured, peaceable woman, and got along the best with everybody. If old Mrs. Mann tee-heed at her, she would just smile and let it pass, and go about her housework and never act like anything had happened. I did not get along so agreeably with the old lady, and I did not like to stay there, but was indebted to them, and was obliged to stay until the debt was paid, and take what they wanted to give. But when it came
to old Mrs. Mann butting in, I objected. More of that later.
When I commenced working for the old Major the snow was nearly a foot deep on the bottoms, and there was a man who worked by the year by the name of Blodgett. His family lived on the place nearby, and he and I worked together most of the time. We had to saw some big pine logs they had for firewood. They were about 5 feet through, and we used a cross-cut saw, and at first I tired very easy. It would make my back ache, and after we got a log cut up,
I sat down while Blodgett fixed another log in place. There came a woman and hoisted the kitchen window, stuck her head out and said,
"Porter, we don't hire men to set on logs!" And bang went the window. Said I to Blodgett, "What women is that?" Said he, "That was the Missus." What! the Old Major's wife? "Yes," said he. Is she in the habit of cutting up such dapers? "Huh! You will find out a lot of things if you stay here very long." Well, that is something I don't like. Why, the old Major is here not more than six rods off. If my work don't suit him, let him speak up and tell me so. Well, we sawed another log, and I sat down again. And up went that window again. "Porter, didn't I tell you we don't hire men to set on logs? We hire them to work!" " Madam, I think you would do full as well to mind your own business. Shut down that window and keep back in the house." Did she rage! She struck out with her arm, and with her fist doubled, waved and wagged and shook it at me, and said I was nothing but a worthless, good-for-nothing, saucy rascal. How dared I talk to her like that? "Yes, madam, I dare to talk to you just like that, and I will talk a damned site worse if you don't keep on your side of the house, mind your own business and let men's business alone." She raged and cursed and shouted and swore, up one hill and down, and clenched her fist and swung her arm. And I clenched both of my fists and swung both of my arms and swore back. She finally slammed the window down. I think she was afraid I would lam a wedge or something at her. I was ashamed of myself afterwards. But I had never been used to such things, and I was a little fiery, and had lived some at old Buffalo where it was a common thing for men and boys to curse and swear almost every other word in ordinary conversation--and I soon learned the art--and when you have learned, it is hard to overcome and break yourself of the habit. If you get a little riled up, out it comes quicker than scat. I've often thought that maybe it was no wonder that old St. Peter cursed and swore. (See Mark 14:7 "But he began to curse and swear, saying, I know not this man of whom you speak!") I think very likely he had got into that habit before he
became a disciple of Jesus.
Anyway, old Missus Mann didn't hoist the window any more, but it seemed to me she strained her wits to hunt up something to find fault about, so as to have a fuss with me. Mr. Blodgett and I cut up all those logs, split the blocks, and carried them up to the woodhouse and corded it up. And we usually worked late. Often it would be after supper time before I got through milking, and the old lady would meet me at the kitchen door and begin her tirade. She would shout and shake her fist and curse me and call me a shiftless, lazy loafer. I would try to tell her the reason of my being late, but being a woman--and that woman, Mrs. Mann, she would hear none of it. Then I would get mad and curse her, and we would have it up and down. But she would see to it that I got no
supper--or thought she had. But old Mrs. Gould had put me wise. She would leave the pantry door unlocked, and I would go in and look up and eat my fill of good things, such as was served to the family. The buttery was always full of bread, biscuits, pie or cake, milk, butter (fresh), cream, sugar, molasses, etc. and I would go to bed happier than any man on the job. Mrs. Gould, a widow, Blodgett, and even the old major himself, were very friendly to me--never found any fault with me that I ever heard of. My war with the Missus lasted quite a number of weeks, but I finally got so I would not speak to her or answer when she spoke to me. After all, it is wisest to keep still and argue with anyone, let alone such a rattle-brained creature as she was. Our war abated somewhat, though occasionally she would go too far with her insults, and there would be another fierce windstorm.
There were some men who got a grant to make a turnpike road along the river. It took a piece of land about a mile long out of old Major's farm, and he put all his men to work on it. There were about 16 hands working on it, and old Major put on a team and Porter had to drive it. I was a good hand with horses they said. Blodgett and Porter also made beer for the men (on stormy days) down in the old store cellar. Old Major had a hogshead of good thick molasses sent him from Boston or the coast for that purpose.
The old Major had 3 stores filled with everything there was to be had. His son, Job, took care of one of the stores in Vermont where we lived; his father took charge of the big store on the other side of the Connecticut River in the township of Oxford, New Hampshire. The Connecticut River was the dividing line between the two states. He had, besides the stores, 3 or 4 good farms, well equipped for handling.
Come haying time, the old Major notified all the men who were owing him to come and work off the debt in the hay. Well, a motley crew of us got together and set off with our oxen, wagons, a keg of
rum, blankets, buffalo robes, forks, scythes, rakes and provisions
to last until the hay was up. Shortly after we got started, here
came a man with a team and wagon, and said his name was Benjamin
Putnam, and that he had come to haul hay. He said he came to pitch
hay, and began at once to boast of his prowess--dared any man in
the company to pitch against him. He bet 2 gallons of rum that he could beat any man there, or anywhere else, pitching hay. He got
garrulous and cocky and very confident, and I began to get worked
up and excited, and I knew after a few days of his bragging that if
someone didn't take him up, I would. So I said, "Men, why don't
some of you take that chap up? He says he will bet 2 gallons of
rum he can out-pitch any man here. Take him up, some of you, at his offer. He's a big stout man of course, and no doubt thinks he can out pitch the crew. Perhaps he can. None of us knows. But I'd
sooner lose 2 gallons of rum and be done with it than listen any
longer to his insulting language." Nobody spoke up, so I said,
"Well, if no one else will take him up, I will. I don't care how
big he is nor how stout he is, he can't sit on me and rub it in
without some opposition".
Well, the whole company became alert and excited, and said if I would pitch hay with him they would pay for the rum if I lost. Next day he came back bragging worse than ever--said we were all
cowards and dare not try. "Well, stranger," said I, "you and I
will try that little game, and see if you are as good a man as you
think." He looked at me with such an air of disdain that it might have scared me if I hadn't tried pitching with others just as confident. He took it as an insult and said, "I think you are joking--a young beardless boy, the youngest and lightest of the crowd. No, I will pitch with a man, not a boy." But our company told him I was in real earnest, and if I lost they would pay for the 2 gallons. So we made the arrangements.
They had the hay in shocks, and we had two men go and pick out the shocks as equal as they could. Then we drew cuts for choice. There was a mow at the end of the barn that we could not see over to each other's load, and we had two men stand at either end of the stack, back far enough that they could watch us both at the same time, and when one man threw off his last fork of hay, they were to holler, and the other man must stop pitching. When I threw my last fork full on the mow, they hollered and yelled and screamed and hurrahed till you would have thought a gang of crazy drunks had surprised us in our lair. All hands rushed to see how much I had beat my opponent, and all agreed he had at least 400 pounds weight still on his wagon. Again they shouted and hooted and belittled Putman until he jumped from his wagon, and in a fit of rage started cursing and swearing, and said he would not pay that debt. The men said, "You will pay that debt or we will ride you till you haven't a rag left on your back." He said, "I'll pitch another load with that young man before I will pay a cent." "Oh no you won't. He has done all that was fair and honorable according to your own bargain, and if you want any skin left on your body, you pay."
So he went and got the rum, and that night we fellows had one spree. And Putman's swagger had dropped off like a rotten apple, and the bragger's mouth was closed. I told the men after, about the reputation I had for pitching hay in our own town. Then they could see why I was so anxious for someone to go up against this powerful man. I did not want to brag, but man's vanity urged me on.
I must relate an instance that brought about my last fight with old Missus Mann. We got our hay all up and went back to the
old Major's home, and I to weeding the garden, according to Mrs. Mann's orders. One morning, Tim, one of the hired boys, called to me and said, "One of the sheep has just been killed by a big dog. Come with me and help me kill him." We chased that dog for maybe
two hours before we got a chance to get him. Then we went over to the store and had some kind of a drink Tim mixed up which was very good to the taste, and when I got back to the house, breakfast was over with, but Mrs. Gould had not cleared up. (I think she just puttered a little waiting for me.) But, anyway, Mrs. Mann was
waiting for me too, for quite a different purpose. She began,
"Where have you been, and what have you been doing?" I told her about the dog and sheep affair. She said she cared nothing about the sheep or the dog--she had told me to weed that garden! I did not say anything to that and she got madder and madder, and yelled vituperous things at me--and I said, "I feel another storm brewing, If you don't shut your mouth and get back to your room, it is apt to break out in great fury." And it did. Finally I said, "I am going to church next Sunday and enter in a complaint against you.
I am going to let the parson and the people know of your infernal disposition and unholy actions. You are not fit to belong to any church or anything else that professes Christianity. I shall tell them nothing I cannot prove, and bring plenty of evidence to back me. And I believe I can have you excommunicated from the Church,
and cut off from all your associates. Mind what I tell you, for I mean every word I swear. I think it is my duty, and that God will judge between thee and me." She looked as if she had been hit with a stone wall, dropped her head in her hands, and went to her room
weeping or pretending to weep; I don't know which.
I neither saw nor heard any more of her until Saturday. Along about 10 o'clock I heard someone call, "Porter." I cast my eyes toward the house and saw her, but pretended not to hear. She called again, "Porter! Porter!" Said I, "What is wanting?" "Come to the window a minute." "I haven't time to spend running around, I have work to do." (Sanford replied), "Come here, please; I want to talk to you." (Said ,it very milk-like.) So I went. "I think you must be getting hungry and faint. Come in and have something to eat and drink with me, and be friends, and have no more quarreling and disputes." "Well," I said, "I am certainly willing to be friends." And I added that if she would agree to attend to her own affairs, I would attend to mine--or rather, I would take my orders from Blodgett and the Major, and do as they said. She could manage the household affairs, and let the men handle their affairs as they saw fit. To this she agreed. "Then I am ready to eat and drink with you." But when she picked up the glass to pour, I said, "Madam, you must first drink of the beverage, then I will drink. I don't know that you have not put poison in it. If you, drink first I will feel safe." "Why, Porter, do you think I would do such a thing as that?" "I don't know what you would do, Madam. Drink and eat; then I will. What will poison me will poison you, and I shall feel safe." At that she wept. I know she wept, for I could see the tears roll down her cheek. I knew then that she was grieved, and I felt sorry for her. After she calmed down a little, she poured and drank, and ate a piece of pie.
I took a biscuit, some cheese, drank some of the liquor. Together we freely partook, and we chatted very friendly. After that all was peace and sociable with us, and Blodgett said, a month or two after that, there sure had been a wonderful reformation in that Mann family. Said he had never seen things so peaceful around here in all the years he had worked for them.
After we got the haying and harvesting done that fall, I told the Major if he was willing I would like to go home for a few weeks and rest up, and maybe help out some with things around home.
He said I might go and I need not come back until it was time to prepare for winter. I found the folks at home as well as common, and I was glad to see them, and they me. I rested and amused
myself by walking over the farm and sizing things up. I wanted to find out if everything was in good shape for winter. While I was so engaged, one of our neighbors by the name of Edward Gilmore came over looking for a man to put in his hay. It looked as though there was a storm brewing, and his hay being a coarse kind (clover leaf and timothy), it would soon soak through and become ruined. He said if he could get a man for one day, he'd give him a dollar in silver money. I said, "Well, I came home for a rest after a hard summer's work, but you seem to need help, and I guess one more day's work won't hurt me so I'll come." "Alright," said he, "come early before breakfast. I have another man coming with a team, and another to help load and mow away. And Nicholas will help you."
I had long been acquainted with this Gilmore family and knew them to be a very nice sort of people. They were well off, and had plenty of this world's goods, and all around well-shaped up for people in those parts at that time. They were a generous and liberal family, and morally clean and good. They did not profess any religion of any sort--were not stuffed up with superstition or bigotry and were willing to live and help others to live. I was on
the job early next morning, all prepared for work (had breakfast at home). And there we waited and waited for the other men to come, and me and Mr. Gilmore got to fretting around till come 10 o'clock, and still no one showed up. Mr. Gilmore got entirely out of patience. The clouds were looking more and more black and heavy. Then said I, "Mr. Gilmore, don't fret yourself. Your hay will all
be in the barn before dark, if Nicholas will load and mow away."
"Oh, that would be an impossibility unless that man gets here with his team." "Well, Nicholas, get along with your team, and we will see what we shall see." said I. When we got out in the meadow I said to Nicholas, "Now, we, must put on every spear we think our
oxen can haul. Make your load as big as you think you can get in the barn with."
Mr. Gilmore watched us, and when we got in, he was out there with a fine liquor concoction that braced us up for another try. And every time we came in thereafter, he was out there with a good drink and all kinds of dainties to eat. I have said to him, "We do not stop to sit down to eat until all this hay is in the mow." So he said to his wife, "Keep flowing bowls and the best you can make for them to eat. Sanford is as wet as though he had been dipped in the river."
When we got in with the last load it was rather darkish in the barn, and I told Nicholas to get on the mow. He said he could not do it, for he was almost tired to death. Then Mr. Gilmore pled with me to leave it on the wagon until morning. "No, it must be in
before dark. I told you it should be safe in the barn before dark, and I won't be entirely satisfied until it is where I said it should be. I must throw it off the wagon, and if Nicholas cannot move it away, it will have to stay where I put it." So at it I went, and it was not really dark when I threw my last fork. Mr. Gilmore could not get over it. He said he had had some bullies for pitching hay, but he would gamble that no man in a day would have pitched on and off more than half as much as I had since 10:00 that morning. I had pitched on and off nine loads. And they were loads. He had agreed to pay me a dollar a day, but he handed me two dollars, saying, "If you want more you can have it." "No, Mr.
Gilmore. I want only that which was agreed upon. I was not thinking of the wage, only of getting that hay in."
. . . (Back at Major Mann's, Sanford repaired some old fencing). The old Major was buying up fat cattle to take to market. He bought up about 160 head, and hired old Capt. Newel to take them to Boston to market. He wanted me to go and help drive the drove of cattle. He said he would furnish me with a good horse and let my wages go on the same as if I was at work and Capt. Newel would pay all expenses there and back. Because he did not know but that Capt. Newel would have a chance to sell the horse and I would have to come back on foot, Newel would furnish me with money to bare my expenses back. I told him I would go and help in the drive. Old Capt. Newel I was not acquainted with--I did not know what sort of a man he was, but I found him to be quite sociable and talkative. We started with our drive. We drove very slow, for the cattle were fat, and the weather warm. My horse had to do all the running, for the old Captain was fat and fussy, and would follow behind in the road, and would not turn much to the right or left. But he was of a good disposition. I believe the worst fault he had was he drank too much rum, or brandy or wine. He kept a bottle in his pocket and would take a drink very often. He would urge me to drink with him almost every time he drank, but I would not drink his rum or brandy unless I had water to weaken it. But to please him I would put it to my mouth and make him think that I had taken a drink. We got along with our drive very well, but slow. I do not know how many days we were getting to Boston. We left our drive in Charlestown, opposite of Boston. (The Captain and I went across the bridge to the city. He led and I followed.) Captain Newel said he did not know but he would have to stay until they were butchered and the
I stayed a day or two and whether he sold the horse or had to go back on foot and alone. The Captain gave me money to bare my expenses. I started very early in the morning. I went on until I got rather faint and hungry and I stopped at a tavern and called for my breakfast. They wanted to know what I would have. I told them what I would like. They soon got what they called my breakfast. She got a chair and sat down at the table. She sat right at the head of the table nearly opposite me. She was dressed so fine and was so genteel that she fairly scared me I was filled so full I could scarcely swallow. I drank one cup of coffee and ate a little and got up from the table...
She was a fine lady at the head of the table. I ate what
there was and told her to fetch me more. She appeared to be mad and looked cross. I said, "What made you look so cross? Don't be afraid." I told her what to bring; she went and brought me some
more and sat down at the head of the table. I said to her, "I am looking about to see if I can find a woman that suits me for a wife, and I like your looks. Are you a married woman?" "NO," she spoke short and cross. "I make short courtship--will you marry me?" No--she did not want to marry anybody. "Well, Madam, I want some more victuals brought on. I haven't eaten half enough yet." I told her what I wanted her to bring on of different sorts. I told her I lived in the back country. She brought on some more and sat it down on the table and muttered out something. I ate until I thought I had got the worth of what I had paid out. I paid her the twenty-five cents and I bid her goodby and went on. I never was afraid to eat after that, let who would set the table.
I went on to the old Major's. My time was up and more too. We settled up and I took a receipt from him in full of all demands against father and he paid me up what he was owing me for my work. I went in the house and was packing my clothes and was about to start home. I got as far as the door and looked steady at her
(Mrs. Mann), for I thought it was the last time I would see her on earth, but said nothing to her. I went to the store and bid the old Major goodbye and started for home. I got home and handed father the receipt. He said it was alright. I think it was then about the first of November.
The young people had a custom of having a party (a party called a ball or a bout or a dance) on Thanksgiving day in the afternoon and night. They would have picked couples--have a
committee of 3 or 4 young men to pick out the couples they wanted at the dance. I happened to be picked with my partner for one couple. They would have as many as could be accommodated in the big
hall at the old room in Nalby's tavern. There would be 20 or 30
couples. They had supper in the fore part of the evening. Later on in the night we would all be seated and they would hand around pies
and cakes and cheese, ginger bread, sweetened liquor such as would please the taste and cheer the feelings. It was a feast for Thanksgiving. Whether we felt thankful or not, we had to pay for it...
The nut trees were high. We had to wait until they (the
nuts) would drop off and it would take cold, freezing weather and high winds to shake them off. Sometimes they remained on all winter. But then we would get poles and knock them off. Some of
them were more like apple trees. We would climb up and shake them.
Then I had to get broom sticks for father, and also my other chores to do to prepare for the winter and to go to school. The winter's wood must not be neglected. I had shoe making to do for ourselves and for as much as I would do for the neighbors. They urged me to make them boots. I told them to go to Mr. Comstock and get their work done. They knew if he did their work they would have to pay him and he charged a high price--and pay down in money or something else at market price. But if they could get me to do their work they could pay me in almost anything--or not at all. Mr. Comstock was a good workman and so were his girls, but he was close and
tight. He was a speculator and got property very fast...
We got our planting done, then got to hoeing. We had to hoe all we could hoe 2 or 3 times over to keep the weeds and thistles down so they would not suffer (the plants). Sometimes they would suffer for want of rain. We knew nothing about irrigating the
crops or land in that country. I never saw it done in any of the eastern states. I never saw it done anywhere until we came to Utah.
One day I got a horse and was riding toward the house when I saw a man coming--walking with a staff. We met one another, and behold it was old Major Mann. "How do you do Major. How is your family?" "They are well--all that are alive, but I have lost my wife since you left us. She died 2 or 3 months after you left us.
She died very suddenly. She wasn't sick but a few days. It has broke me up or been the cause of my being broke up. There were merchants in Boston that I was owing. They heard that my wife was dead. They came and attached everything I had and it was sold at auction, and I have nothing left...I am now picking up the crumbs that people owe me. I was looking at the account between you and me and found that we in settling had made a mistake in my favor...and you owe 12 1/2 cents." Seeing how he got so took up and was so poor, I put my hand in my pocket and took out the 12 1/2 cents and handed it to him....
Sometime later I started for the Holland purchase in Buffalo country where Abner and Susannah Currier lived...I went to looking
around the country to see if I could find a place that suited me to make a farm. I went up the creek from Abner's a number of miles,
but could not find any place that was fit for a farm, but what was
already taken up Two or three miles beyond Uncle Dale's there I
found land that was not claimed by anybody, and it lay very handsome. I took up my claim of 100 acres and stuck stakes and put my name on the stakes. There was a Joe Cooper who made a claim, and I laid my claim side by side with his....
I felt very disappointed when I got back to my place to learn that Joe Cooper had given up his claim, for we were going to live in his shanty and work together--and we should be handy to our
work. Now I would have to walk 2 miles night and morning, and live
with Uncle Dake. I let them have the cow to milk. I furnished my eats, and Auntie Dake cooked them for me. The milk and the butter from the cow helped pay her. I cut down and trimmed up all the timber on six acres of land, burned up the brush, and went to see if I could get a couple of men to help me haul the logs. I got
them together with a team and we started hauling. But we had got
only one heap of logs when it began to thunder, and big black
clouds began piling up in the west. ""Well," they said, "we may as
well quit and go home before it starts to rain, for it will likely
pour for the next few days." I said, "Oh no, you will not go home,
for I have got to get these logs hauled. I have gone to a lot of trouble to get you here, and I can't afford to have you leave now." "Its like this, young man; we have lived hereabouts for a good many
years, and never yet seen a thunderstorm come up this way but it poured rain for several days." I said, "Oh, it is not going to
rain today, for I will not let it." "And how are you going to
prevent it." they asked? "I'll show you how I'll prevent it."
And I ran and jumped upon the big stump and commanded those clouds
to divide and half go south and the other half go north, and let the sun shine on us, for the work here must be done. I acted it
all out with my hands and my whole body, as if I was in great
earnest. And I ~ in earnest. To our surprise, the clouds
parted, and part of them rolled to the north and the rest to the
south, and the thunder went with them, and the sun shone down on
us! The elements had obeyed me! The men said it beat anything
they had ever seen in their lives, and they looked at me as if I
was some strange being that had suddenly appeared before them. I
~ a stranger to them, having met them but the day before--but to
confess, I was as surprised at the time as they were. I believe
that men could control the elements much more than they do if they would exert the powers that God gives them--if they would use
aright their free agency and seek to overcome the prince of the
power of the air who is none other than the Devil. We all admit
~hat God has all power in heaven and earth. He has given to every
person that comes upon the earth a portion of His spirit and power,
and told them how to cultivate that faith w~~ch is the substance of
things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Then, if a man
will have unshaken confidence in God and in the God-like attributes
in themselves, they can command in their hour of need, and God will
have respect unto them.
Sanford gets Married
I concluded that I must have a house and housekeeper, for the
way I had to live was too troublesome. I had agreed with a young woman in Vermont to marry her. I had written two or three times to her, but received no answer, and I concluded she had give up the bargain and thought she would not go so far from her father and mother. I wrote a letter to that effect and told her to marry to suit herself if she could. I would not stand in her way and I gave up the idea of going back to see her. I went looking about to see if I could find anyone I liked to keep house for me. I went down the creek about 10 miles from Abner's to a meeting, and I got
talking with a young man there and told him what my name was and
where I had my claim, and it was very unhandy for me to go so far night and morning to work and I needed a woman to keep house. He said he knew of one he thought I could get and he would introduce me to her. I stayed with her that night; she seemed very willing to marry me and wanted to know when I would come again. I told her I did not know; I had no house of my own and I didn't know when I
could get one. Perhaps in a week or two...I thought I would go and see her again. I went over to the spring and was making ready to go to the meeting and see that girl, when here came a person and
handed me a letter. I opened it and behold it was from my sweetheart in Vermont. She wrote with so much affection that I sat down and wept freely. She wrote that she was astonished at the last letter I wrote her--that she had written three or four letters and I had got none of them--that she had not changed her mind at all, and had been preparing to go there just as soon as I thought proper; that she was willing to go into that country and her folks were willing she should go there. We all were well acquainted with each other, for we had lived within a half mile apart for about 10
or 12 years, and had been to the same school together every winter. I did not go to see Miss Polly Done and I heard that she was very much disappointed, for she thought to catch me, and was preparing to keep house for me.
After I got news from Vermont, I went to preparing to go back to see the folks. I traded off my cow and got a fine year-old
mare--a very smart animal, and got a saddle and bridle, and we started back. There was another young man who went back with me,
so I had company all the way back. He lived in the same country my folks did and I supposed he was on the same business that I was.
It was about five hundred miles and was thought to be quite a long journey in those days. I found them all well and we were glad to see each other I think it was sometime in Nov. that I got back there. After resting awhile and visiting the neighbors, we began to think of getting married and pining for the new country. They have a custom in those parts of announcing your intentions of marriage.
They must be published three Sundays running before a
couple could be lawfully married. The priest must get up on the stand and cry aloud, "Marriage intended between, say John Fairbanks and Olive Fairchild. If anyone has any' objection against this marriage, let them make it manifest or forever hold their peace." It is called being "cried off." The young couple must be there and stand up together, so the whole congregation can see them. There was no one in the congregation who made any objection to me and my
partner, Nancy Warriner, getting married, so on the morning of the first day of January 1812 I made her mine.
We left for the stern country sometime in February. We arrived at Uncle Dakes in good shape, but it was along in March before I could get out on my claim. I went to and from, doing what I could, and on the last day of April I took my horse and sleigh, went to the sawmill and got a load of pitch plank, and the next morning early I went out to the place.
We had been living at Abner's and Susa's about 7 miles from my claim. The snow was about a foot deep--and soft. I had made up my mind to build one room of my house that day. I hauled the logs and split them, laid them to the height I wanted, put on the roof and laid the floor, and got back to Abner's before dark. When I told them what I had done, they wanted to know who helped me. "Not a
soul. I did it myself." "Aw, go on, No man living could do it alone in any time, much less in a single day." "Well," I said, "I have no way of proving that I did it alone for nobody was there; but I can prove that it is done, for tomorrow morning we are going to move in." "If there was no one with you, the very devils out of hell must have helped you." "I did not see them, but if they were there I am very grateful that they helped instead of hindering as is their custom."
So the next morning we moved into the house that Sanford built-in-one-day. And right then the war of 1812 was declared and stopped everything. Many a home was broken up and families separated--mine among them.
There came orders for so many soldiers to be raised out of the ranks of the militia company--either by their volunteering or draft. Our company was ordered to muster on such a day at such a
place. Our captain got the men placed and called for so many volunteers, but there was no one who stepped out of ranks. Our captain said he had to raise so many, and seeing that they would not volunteer, he would have to make out a draft.
Our company was small--I think there were only 7 or 8 called for out of our company. He had as many tickets as there were men, and as many forms as there were soldiers called for, and put them
into a hat or box and hustled them all up and thoroughly mixed them
up. The men were to be lined up and walk up and take out a ticket-being careful and seeing that no man took only one, and did not look at his ticket nor let anyone else see it until all had drawn. Then we were called to come forward and show our ticket. I had drawn a blank, but there was one Arthur Humphry, the most witty man that was in that country. He looked sly and saw that he had drawn a pese and clapped into his mouth and chewed it up and when we had to show, there was one piece lacking. They looked and hunted
carefully all about. Old Humphry was busy and careful as anyone,
and more so than the rest of us. Well, the captain said there was a mistake and we would have to draw again. The next time we drew I drew a form and got into the army. We would not have known that it was Humphry but there was a little small boy that saw his ticket when he held it between his thumb and finger and saw the mark and saw that he put it in his mouth.
I have passed through many a trial in my life, but leaving my young wife, my new home, and the joy of seeing my own crops mature was about the keenest pang I ever endured.
The headquarters of our army was at Black Rock, 4 miles from Buffalo City, and the harbor for boats and vessels was on Lake Erie. The people all through the country were a good deal like a
swarm of bees that had been molested and robbed of their honey. They didn't know where they wanted to go or what they wanted to do. Neither did I, for I had to check out without either knapsack or blanket. We all got our guns and ammunition, and little did we know
what would be our fate--life or death--which? There was a good many of our regiment who lost their lives. I came as near to losing my life as I could and live. There was a distemper that got into our army called the cold plague that seized hundreds of our men, and the doctors had no skill that would cure it. They would be taken with it and die within 24 hours. They would go to the hospital and I never knew or heard of one that came out alive. We soldiers got it in our heads that the doctors were traitors and wanted to kill as many as they could. I was taken with it and our officer said I must go to the hospital. The Ensign of our company came and told me what the orders were. I told him I would not go there. I had rather die out where I could have fresh air. I asked him to go to the colonel and see if he would not let me go on parole a few days. He went and they gave me a parole of four days. I took and read it. "Could you not get it for longer than four days?" "He said it was as long a time as I would need". I took my pack and blanket and what belonged to me, and my gun and cartridge box and bid the Ensign goodby and started.
I had a great pain in my head and shoulders, and in fact all over. I could not walk very far before I had to sit down and rest.
I walked on 2 or 3 miles and I came to a house. I told the woman that I was sick and wanted to leave my gun and wanted her man to keep it until could come for it. I told her my name...I finally got to Abner's. I got my brother-in-law Abner to go and get some hemlock boughs and boil them, and get up some steam and keep me there till I could get up some steam. I rested well until daylight. Some of them came to see how I was, but I could not speak or stir. I could not open or shut my eyes. They rubbed my hands and arms and gave me some sweetened l!quor to drink. After a while I got so I could move my head...I began to limber up and in a few days I felt very well again.
As soon as I was able...about the last of November, we moved back on our claim. I had gathered what corn, potatoes, etc: that was left-got a cow, and we fared very well that winter. But I had another streak of bad luck come early spring.
Sanford's pension for service in War of 1812
(In 1871 Sanford made application for a government pension for his service in the War of 1812. The writer has photostatic copies for the pension bureau of these papers which reads as follows:
"Territory of Utah, County of Salt Lake. On this Fourth day of May A.D. one thousand eight hundred and seventy one personally appeared before me E. W. East, Clerk of the Probate Court, a court of record within and for the county & Territory aforesaid Sanford Porter aged
Eighty one years, a resident of Porterville, county of Morgan,
Territory of Utah, who being duly sworn according to law declares that is married. That his wife's name was Nancy Warriner to whom he was married on the 1st day of January 1812 in Vershire, Vermont, that he served the full period of sixty days in the military service of the United States in the War of 1812; that he is the identical Sanford Porter who was drafted in Captain Knott's Company
in Colonel Warren's Regiment in Holland Township, Erie County, New York in July 1812; that he was honorably discharged (date of
discharge not remembered). That he at no time during the late
rebellion against the authority of the United States adhered to the
cause of the enemies of the government, giving them aid or comfort, or exercised the functions of any office whatever under any
authority or pretended authority in hostility to the United States.
And that he will support the Constitution of the United States; that he is not in receipt of a pension under any previous act; that he makes this declaration for the purpose of being placed on the
pension roll of the Unites States under the provisions of the Act
approved February 14, 1871, and he hereby constitutes and appoints
with full power of substitution and revocation Geo. W. McLellan of
Washington D. C. his true and lawful attorney to prosecute his
claim and attain the pension certificate that may be issued; that his Post Office is at Porterville, County of Morgan Territory of Utah; that his domicile or place of abode is Main Street, Porterville, Morgan county, Utah Territory.
Sanford P. Chipman
(all names signed)
Also personally appeared Elias Smith residing on North Temple st., Salt Lake city and Sandford Chipman residing at Centerville, Utah Territory, persons whom I personally knew and whom I certify to be respectable and entitled to credit, & who being by me duly sworn say they were present and saw Sanford Porter the claimant sign his name to the foregoing declaration.
(The action by the government is shown by the following notations: Treasury Department, Third Auditors Office, June 12,1872. Respectfully returned to the Commissioner of Pensions with the information that there are no Rolls of captain Ezra, Nott,
company of New York Militia, War of 1812, on file in this Office.
The Rolls were destroyed in the burning of Buffalo in January 1814.
Company on service in November and December 1813 and paid on' an
estimate by Pay Master Joseph McClure for 1 month and 4 days service. Alan Rutherford, Auditor.) (On the front of Sanford's
file his name has been spelled "Sandford Porter" and then a line
drawn through it and "Sanford" written above. Also recorded is the following: "Received May 15th 1871" and a note saying, "Rejected 17
Aug. 72" showing that his claim for pension had not been granted
due to service under the required sixty days.)
Sanford cuts his foot with an Ax
(Sanford continues his autobiography saying,) The snow had melted partly off and I wanted to make some sugar. I made some sap troughs and tapped some sugar trees and prepared a boiling place. I took fast hold of a limb and it whirled and the ax came down smart onto my foot and would have cut it slick off, but the lower corner of the ax struck a limb and stopped the force of the ax, and it bounced up and struck across my foot and left the lower part and the sole of my boot whole, and it seemed as if I was going to bleed to death in a short time. I caught hold of a stick and hollered,
and limped on as fast as I possibly could. I saw my wife come out
of the house. She had heard me holler. I tried to walk toward
her, but everything began to look dark and I lay down on a big log and bid the world farewell and I never expected to see daylight again. My wife came to me and she got hold of my foot and held it
tight together and it stopped bleeding. I came to and saw her and thought her face was as white as a cloth. I got so I could speak and told her not to be scared. I saw my foot had stopped bleeding.
She ran to the house to get a cloth to bind up my foot. I took my
stick and followed after. I held up my foot so as to keep it together as much as I could. I got to the house just as she was coming out. We went into the house. She spread out a quilt and some other things and I lay down. She lay the little child (Chauncy Warriner their first child) by my side. The child was sleeping. She started to go to Uncle Dake's to get him to come and fix my foot, and put it together so as to have it grow together right. It was two miles from our house to Uncle Dake's. I lay there very still for fear if I stirred much my foot would start to bleeding. The child lay still and I was thinking, "Well she has just about got there." She opened our door and came in. Said I to her, "Who did you meet?" She didn't meet anybody "Well why didn't you go there?" She said she had been there. "What! To Uncle Dakes'?" "Yes." Said. I, "You haven't, for it is not possible." She said it was possible and Uncle and Aunt Dake were coming in all the slop and slush. "Yes," said I, "your clothes don't look much wet nor shoes nor stockings." She pulled off her shoes and there was but a little water in them. "Why don't you pull off your stockings and wring the water out?" She said there was none that would wring out. In about half an hour Uncle and Aunt Dake came. They had on boots, both of them, that came nearly to their knees, and as
full of water as they could hold and have them walk. Their clothes were dripping wet. "Why," said I, "Nancy's clothes, shoes or stockings don't appear much wet." "No, because she flew." They knew she flew because they saw her start from them, and her feet did not touch the water. They called to her to stop, but she paid no attention, but kept on flying and soon was out of their sight. Her clothes were not muddy like theirs...This was a mystery to all of us. We could not solve or comprehend it, try as we would. To go 4 miles through slop and slush, mud and water almost knee deep,
and come home dry! It was beyond the bounds of human reason and
partook of the supernatural. It has been said that there is no
effect without a cause, but there have been great effects take place in this world without any natural cause...It was no natural
cause that caught up the city of Enoch...no natural cause for Noah's flood...no natural cause for the sun to stand still for Joshua...no natural cause for Elijah's translation...no natural cause for Paul's conversion. Why not supernatural things now, if there was a crying need, as well as in times past? God is the same unchangeable being now as He was then. Mankind is blest with the same God-like attributes now as then. We have the same privileges, the same claim on the higher powers, but without faith coupled with works, there never was and never will be anything done; and a timid spirit with an easy-going disposition is not one which can work miracles.
A person must have a strong determination, be exceedingly anxious, exert all the powers he possesses with never a doubt but what he can accomplish it--do not fear.
Uncle Dake set my foot very straight and bound it up nicely. I
was surprised how little pain I suffered with it. I had to get around and do some things--my wife could not look after the stock or cut wood, etc. I got all my land planted into corn, potatoes, beans, oats, etc. and that fall I had a lovely crop of everything.
Indeed, it looked as though we should be well provided for another year. But on the 6th of October there came a fierce snow storm which did not quit until the snow was two feet deep. It was wet and heavy, and it lodged on the trees and broke off great limbs and branches, and crushed the bushes. Things were crashing all around us every which way. Then after this the sun came out bright and beautiful, smiling as if nothing had happened, and the snow soon melted with the result that my corn and oats and potatoes lay flat on the ground in a foot of water. It could not drain off, for the ground was too level. Before it could dry out winter would be upon us, and my oats that were to feed my cattle lay flat on the ground. It was a terrible dismal sight. I stood there trying to contrive a plan, and an idea hit me. There was a part of my land where the stumps had not been removed. They were quite high and close together. I decided to get poles and lay them from one stump to another, and take my scythe and reap up the oats and bind them close to the cuts, and let them hang there until they got cured and
dry, and in that way I could save my oats--and they dried first
rate. When some of the neighbors learned about what I had done,
they wondered why they had not thought of such an idea to save
their oats. But after all--I lost almost all anyway.
The British and indians crossed over from Canada and burned
Buffalo City, and the inhabitants fled in terror. I lost all on my
place. Our army was stationed at Buffalo, but fled in fear and dismay, and scattered every which way. The country was all in an
uproar, and you would see people, some going this way and some
that, with no thought of where they might end. About all that any of us took was our wearing clothes--some did not even do that.
I had a good span of grey mares not over five years old. They
were well-matched and made a good team. They were smart and
lively, but I had to trade them off, for I had no pasture and dare
not turn them loose in the woods, for they would stray off and I
would lose them. I traded one of them to my brother-in-law, Abner Currier, and got a cow and I think twenty-five bushels of wheat. The other I traded to a man that lived on the Cattaraugus Creek, New York for a yoke of four-year-old steers and a year-old heifer.
The steers had never been yoked and the heifer had never been milked, and he let me have eight gallons of what they called in that place, whisky, but it looked more like buttermilk to me than it looked like whisky--but I sold it for a good price-- partly
because of the name, and it had some spirit in it, for if a man drank of it, it would make him feel pretty lively.
Well, we yoked up the steers and made a fine yoke of oxen, but I had to trade them off, for I could not work them down hauling logs, and I got for them a steady, well broke yoke of oxen that I could drive anywhere and haul anything I wanted to. But I did not keep them long, for I had to flee the country. I came from there to Oneida County, New York, and about the first of January I traded my land to one Jonathan Cook for land in Oneida.
Map showing Porter Landmarks
After we crossed Lake Erie on a bridge a mile long, we felt more safe, and wondered why we did not keep our heads and bring more things with us. We were in a sorry plight. One man in our company caught a loose mare, but it cost him so much to feed her he felt he could not afford it and wanted to sell her. I bought her
for $50.00 and he would wait until I could find work to pay him. I wanted to go into Oneida, New York, where my brother John was. I looked about and found some old gear which I bought for a song-borrowed an ax, and auger, and made a thing which I called a "jumper." It carried us and our belongings, and we started out. We made a very poor show I can tell you. I felt so ashamed jogging along that sometimes I felt mad. We got accommodations at taverns charge-free, and at the turn pike gates we got through free on our looks. The way we were rigged out told our pitiful story better than I could tell it. When we got within 5"miles of John's I was ready to go back.
They are, I suppose, well off and would be glad to help us,
but see how we look. I can't go on! When they last saw me, I had a good span of grays--well-matched, high-lived and smart; and I was otherwise well fit out. And I don't dare show up seeing how we
look. They will think I have fooled away my time and squandered what I had, and now have come back a-begging. "Well," said Nancy,
"let's go on now and see them anyway, and we can rest awhile. I am sure they would not deny us that. And whatever they think, they will have to think. We know what we have done. We can tell them
the truth and make no excuses. Then if we think it best, we can go back." "I guess you are right," I admitted, "We will go on and pay them a visit anyway--let them think what they will." So I took
my courage, swallowed my pride--but oh how it choked me--and went
on. And oh, what a happy surprise awaited us! How different the effects from what I had imagined! They had heard that I had been drafted, and that so many hundreds had died, and feared I was among them. They did not know my wife and baby, and that made them all the more happy to have us there safe and sound, especially after we told them of the frightful conflagration we had been through.
I began to get uneasy after a day or two, feeling I must get to doing something for a living. If I could only go to the store
and get some leather, I could make up a lot of shoes and go back to the Buffalo country and sell them. I must manage some way to buy
a cow, for we needed one--milk was so high to buy by the quart. Everything was out of a poor man's reach. War time, and every-one soaked you for all they could get...
In a few days I was ready to go peddling my wares, and I had a good-looking lot of shoes. I bought $100.00 worth of goods from Knox, such as: calicos, shawls, handkerchiefs, pins, needles, etc.
Knox said if I wanted $500.00 worth I was as welcome as the $100 and he asked me no security--and me a total stranger. Why not security? Because I was blood kin to the Porters he knew, and they were known to be very punctual in fulfilling their promises. Their word was their bond, and they were extremely careful to live up to it. (Whatever you do, don't forfeit your word, for that means your
good name. Be absolutely dependable. That was the creed taught them by their parents.)
Well, I got credit on their credit until I could build my own credit, which I swore would be as good as theirs anywhere in the world. I finally got off with my load and started to peddle my wares, swapping some for axes and hogs and many other commodities-any way to accommodate the people and myself. It was a paying
trip, and I settled up all the accounts I had left behind me. I also did quite a lot of work for other people, such as clearing a
few acres of land, hauling logs, and the like, which helped out a
lot. I bought a cow on the trip for $27.50. She was a good milker
-gave a common milk bucket full twice in every 24 hours), and had money left to payoff the bills I had in Oneida.
That winter I made rising of $300, and in the spring I rented land to plant crops. I was very anxious to get a home of my own, for we were paying too high rent (a dollar a week was too much for one small room). I bought a small place with a log house on it,
which was Indian land, and stayed there that summer. But I got good and sick of my bargain. There was no water at or near the place. We had to go nearly 1/2 mile for water for household use. A well could not be dug--at least not this side of 80 feet, which our neighbor had proved. I got mighty sick of that place--in fact, plum discouraged. There was my brother and all my kindred well off--good farms, good buildings and plenty of everything--enough and to spare. And behold me! What was my situation? I became swearing mad beyond all description I paced to and fro, mumbling my feelings, saying all that was on my mind, and my wife was a witness. At last I lifted my right arm up toward the starry heavens and swore to the Eternal Gods that I would have property of my own and a good home of my own or I would die. I knew my credit was good, and that I could get anything I wanted that people had to spare.
There was plenty to spare in those parts, and I intended to have my share of it if I could get it by hard work and fair dealing--and determination.
In order to clear up the debts I had that year, I had to borrow $3,000.00 of Bina Fairbanks. I wanted him to take whatever he wanted that I had for security, but he said, "your word is law to me, as mine is to you--that is enough." So I cleared up everything except the debt on my oxen which I was to pay in cord wood to David Frost come winter. I called at John's that night, for I knew he was troubled about me being so much in debt, and I wanted to relieve his mind. He was in bed. his wife, Hulda, came to him, "Sanford's come." "Sanford's come?" "Yes." He ran out in his shirt flaps and said, "What's up Sanford? Are they after you?"
"John," said I, "Have you got any place I can hide and not be discovered?" "Oh, then they are after you! I could see I could
carry the joke no further, so I said, "No, John--don't be troubled, for I owe no man a cent but Bina and Frost, which I shall pay in the season thereof." I also told him I had traded farms with Bina, so we could be near them, and John was so overcome he did not know how to contain himself. He brought forth his bottles and glasses, and we made merry until morning.
From then on I prospered exceedingly. I made, by economy and hard work more than $1500.00 in less than 3 years, besides building up my home and farm and providing for my family. We were then called very well to do--or well situated, and I had robbed no
man, defrauded no man, cheated no man, and stolen nothing except one sheep--and that was my own--I knew it was.
One morning I went out to my pasture, which adjoined John Hubb's place, and one of my sheep was missing, and he had one extra one. So I said to John, "You have one of my sheep among yours."
(I would know that sheep by its countenance anywhere). When you
drive them in I will come and get it." "Oh no you will not come and get it. I bought that sheep of Wells Rooney." "No, John, you did not buy that sheep of Wells Rooney." "I did, and I'll 'be damned if you shall have it." "Well, I think I shall be damned if I don' t." Then began a tongue lashing that was not pleasant to hear--both being hot-headed and fiery. The next morning I took some salt in a pan, went to Hubb's pasture and got my sheep, took it down to the house and butchered it. I looked every few minutes to see if the Hubb's were stirring, but they showed no signs until I got it all safely in and out of sight. But that was the most stealing I ever did, even though I knew the sheep was my own. He never mentioned that sheep again -- nor did I.
I do not know what day in the month it was, but it was in
December...Early one morning I went to the barn to get some oats for my horses...I got up on the big beam to get the oats that were on the scaffold over the floor, and there was something black that rose up from the floor and went to the gable end of the barn and
vanished out of my sight. It surprised me and set me to wondering what under heaven it could be. I stood and looked at the place where it disappeared, but could find no living thing there at that end of the barn. It had the appearance of a big, long black overcoat with the end of the sleeves together and the elbows spread each way. It went right past me and I had as good a chance to look
at it as could be expected. But I could not tell whether it was cloth or not. I found there was no natural cause for it at all, and it caused me to shudder and tremble for fear something was going to happen to some of us. But I got the oats and went off to the mill and got my grinding done, and brought my grist home with me. But I thought much of what I saw that morning and tried to contrive some natural cause, but I could make out no reasonable natural cause. It was my foundation in those days that anything that was unnatural or unreasonable I would not believe. I did not believe in anything supernaturally caused whatever. I called them fish stories such as Jonah and the whale. I did not believe any of those unnatural stories. I did not know that there was so much power in faith, but I have learned quite a different lesson since those days. I think now there are not many men on earth that know by experience what power there is in faith.......
It was not long before we got word that father was dead, and that he died such a day in last December, as near as we could reason it, it was the same day or the day after that I saw that
frightful sight...Father's death was a very grievous thing to all
of his family, for he was very highly esteemed by his wife and children.
Then Mother was left a widow again, and there was a man by the
name of Hardy that had lost to our world his wife that Persis,
brother Joseph's wife, was, well acquainted with. She had been
raised in the same neighborhood where Esq. Hardy lived. They got
news back and forward and found out each others situation, and in
a very few moths Esq. Hardy paid Persis and Mother a visit. They
soon got up a match and got married. Mother moved down to Sharon
(that was the name of the township the Esq. Hardy lived in and
Persis had been raised.)
Well it appeared that Mother had got a good home and was well
off for a living in this world, but what of father? The thing that worried me now was, "Where is my dear father? Has he found what he
expected--a seraphic home where none but God and angels dwell? Or was he just dead---dead to himself, to us, and to all things forever?" These thoughts pained my soul. If there was a God as the ancients declared, why was there so much confusion written in regard to Him? No, no there is no God! What part of man could be a spirit? How could there be a spiritual world? There are so many churches here--all different in their beliefs, and all of them can prove they are right by the Bible--and I can prove that they are all wrong! I am afraid I am what they can an infidel."
The winter Father had visited us I had plied him with many questions in regard to God and the devil, the soul of man, and the spiritual world. "Tell me Father, what part of man is the spirit?" "The breath, I think, for God created man and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul." "Why,
Father, the breath is nothing more that the air we take in and let out. Air fills the immensity of space, and all breathe the same air--even the animals and every living thing upon the earth. That cannot be, Father, no, no that cannot be! Do you think that animals and all creeping things, and trees, etc. have living, immortal souls?" Father was worried and puzzled. Well, he thought it might be the senses and reasoning powers of man that was the soul--but it all seemed so vague and unreasonable to me that I could believe none of it. And the more I talked, read, and pondered the less I knew, and I could see that I had greatly disturbed father--perhaps disturbed him with doubt and fear. So I finally let up and walked out and plagued him no more. But as I sat on the step outside, I heard Father say to Mother, "Sanford is a strange boy. I cannot make him out. I don't know what will become of him."
I thought much of these things after his death, and wondered if that black, coffin-shaped thing I had seen in the barn came to convince me ,that there was a power living and moving independent of the natural power of man. And I recalled the time when I saw
Beverly Yates, my playmate, go through the barn and over a pile of husks 6 feet high, and made no sound, and learned he had died that day, and we knew not that he was sick. What did it all mean? "Oh
God--if there be a God--what is it and why can I not find out, so that my mind can rest? I must forget all these perplexities, and keep my mind on things I can understand. It is none of my business how we came into being--or why. No man has ever found out, and maybe never will. If there is such a thing as a God, no man
understands Him, for the thing they call the Bible, the Word of
God, is nothing but a bundle of contradictions brought together by a bunch of men whose minds were as chaotic as mine. I will think of these things no more! No more! No, not at all--not at all!"
But it seemed I was not to have my way in these things, for people on every hand were chiding me for not attending church. Then there would be more arguments, for I could not refrain from
speaking my mind when people nagged me. And one day there came to John two Methodist preachers--one by the name of Shepherd (Old Uncle, they called him)--the other they called Mr. Jackaways. They
came to chide John's wife for being absent from church so much. She told them John would not let her have a horse to ride, and refused to take the wagon; and her strength would not permit her to walk so far. Then they started reproving John for standing in the way of his wife's religious duties. John said, "My horses work hard all week. I want them to feed and rest on the Sabbath, and feel pert to take hold on another week. And they cannot do that and eat post hay all day Sunday."
Then they begged John to join their church, but John was very hard in these matters and told them there was nothing to their church or any other church. They began to quote scripture to him and tell him the law and the word of God, and John not being much of a scriptorian they soon had him whipped--drove him to cover as they say. John got powerful mad and said, "I wish to God Sanford was here. If he couldn't knock up your trotters, I'll be damned." "I truly wish he was here said Mr Shepherd. I think Mr. Jackaways and I could convince him of the truthfulness of our argument." Just then I knocked at their door--not knowing that they had visitors. "Welcome, Sanford!" said John. "I want you to show these men a few things." "What would you have me do?" Shepherd then told me about their argument, and said he was sure they could convince me wherein I was wrong. "I shall be very happy indeed if you can clear my understanding and convince me of the truthfulness of the scriptures--this is the Bible which you claim is the word of God." Old Uncle Shepherd started quoting scripture. I brought him up a few times by quoting other parts of scripture which disproved all that he had tried to prove, and our argument grew very warm indeed. Finally Mr. Jackaway sided in with me--said he had never stopped to think about the unreasonableness of the things written in the Bible, but it seeemed to him I was nearer right than Old Uncle--nearer right than anything he had ever heard before."
"It may sound reasonable," said Uncle Shepherd, "but it is
all from the devil. You have advocated ideas that no evangelist
ever thought of, and it is all from the devil." He had been wiggling and twisting one way and another and finally jumped up from his chair and hotly condemned all that I had said. "Tut, tut,
tut, Brother Shepherd. You must be careful or you will prove that you have a devil. You know we agreed that John and Brother Jackaway should judge between us. We three against you--you must agree that you are wrong." "Yes," said Jackaway, "you are entirely wrong Brother Shepherd. Mr. Porter has followed the standard you set to be governed by, and you must admit that he is the victor." "Brother Jackaway, you are from this moment excommunicated from the church.
You are not fit to wear its banners or be a leader or member therein. You are an easy prey to the devil, I see." "Well gentlemen," said John "I told you you would get your trotters all knocked out from under you. And now you are both--or all--lighting mad at each other. Come, let us drink of the glass, and away with anger. Let us partake of the spirits that maketh light and merry." He drank, I drank, Mr. Jackaway drank, but Uncle Shepherd would
have none of it. He would not settle the dispute that way so they left.
I have since learned, of course, that we were all wrong. We were in a dark chamber and could find no window or door that would admit light--groping in darkness-terrible darkness. Those were the days of witchcraft and dreams and apparitions--all of which I think was necessary to prepare men for the light that was to come.
There is still darkness on the earth and in the minds of men, but nothing to compare with the gross darkness that existed before the advent of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel had diffused
light and warmth upon the earth, and to some extent all men are partakers of it, but they do not realize it.
I had quite an experience when I was a chap thirteen, just after that sick spell when I lay so long on my bed--deathbed as they supposed. I was at a Baptist meeting one Sunday, and the preacher got so wrought up in his sermon that he got some to
weeping and some to exhorting others to come into the fold, etc. There was quite a lot of youngsters there beside me, and one boy got so excited he got up and told an experience he had had. The preacher complimented him on it, and asked me if I'd had some experience I could tell that would help others to see the light.
"No, I have never had any such experience, but I could tell a
dream I had one time. I dreamed I died and went to heaven, and the first thing I saw was a long table set in the middle of a room with seats all around it--and it was set with the most beautiful dishes I ever saw--so transparent they were almost invisible. There was some food in some of them, but I could not tell what it was, because it was so different to anything I had seen. I thought some looked like honey in the comb--only it was too white and clear.
Some of it looked like biscuit, as white and light as snow; and there was something in the glasses to drink that was so thin and
clear you could hardly tell whether it really was there or not.
And the countenances of the people who sat around the table were like shaft of light. Their robes or dresses were so white and airylooking and clean that they were dazzling.. I drew afar off, for my homespun clothes looked so coarse and plain and ugly and dirty I was ashamed."
The preacher thought we did uncommonly well, and said it was our duty to be baptized. So we were, and were given the right hand of fellowship. From that time on I was an inveterate searcher of
the Bible. I began early to compare the Apostolic churches with the Baptist and other churches, and they all lacked one essential thing--but what was that thing? I thought all their churches and ministers were just as deep in the mud as I was in the mire; and they thought I was an imaginary cuss because I had seen a few things they hadn't that bordered on the supernatural--and me an infidel!
One thing in the Bible troubled me a lot. It called on sinners everywhere to repent and be baptized, and to love God with all their heart, might, mind and strength, and their neighbor as themselves. I thought, "If there is a sinner in this world, it is me, for if there is a God, I do not love Him. I do not love my
neighbor--or even my brother--as myself, and I certainly do not love my enemy."
And I was doubtful if there was a man living who loved his
enemy. For all men that I had ever known or seen would talk unkindly, even wickedly, of better people than themselves if they
got it "in" for them--and I had never seen or even heard or read of
any person, people or nation that loved their enemies. Therefore
all mankind were sinners.
What should I do? How could I bring myself in harmony or
subjection to these things? For to me there was no God--and as for
a devil, there certainly was not any--only as they call evil in men. So I worried by night and by day for many years, and got no
ray of light. And I would think of my father--how his soul--if
there was such a thing--must be troubled because of me. These
thoughts did bear great weight upon me, and my soul did suffer
greater sufferings than the body could know. What in the world
could I do to get relief? I got so I could neither eat, drink nor
sleep. I would spread my arms and raise my hands on high crying
aloud, "Oh gracious God--if there be a God--show me the way, the
right way." All day I would walk in the barn, and all night in the
house. I spoke to no one--nor they to me--not even my wife and
children. I guess they thought I was stark mad, and I doubted my
own senses. I did not eat, drink nor sleep for three days and
nights, and was neither hungry, dry nor sleepy. The last night
there came a voice--clear, audible, and distinct, "There is a God,
and He has known the desires of your heart this number of years.
I will instruct you three times this night the way that is right-
that you need never again doubt, but shall be satisfied in your
mind concerning God."
The Voice ceased, but I could see no one from whom it could have come. I had a thought; the outside door did not close tight-
there was quite a crack at the top, and I concluded that someone of
those professors of religion had by some means found out I was much
troubled and concerned in my mind about religion, and had rode up to the door, and sitting on the horse, had put their mouth to the crack and said those words. I grabbed a club and went forth to
find that person and give him a good pounding--yet be careful not
to kill him. A thorough search of the premises revealed nothing,
so I went back and sat down by the fireplace with my hands over my eyes, and waited and waited, but no Voice.
Finally I lay down beside my wife and covered my eyes, and I was gone like a flash--to sleep? I know not. But I heard and saw
many things that gave me satisfaction. I thought I stood on the
barn floor near the south door, and a personage came in at the north door and advanced toward me. He was dressed in a long white robe with a red sash about his waist that came down within a foot of the bottom of his raiment. His cap was white with horn-like things about five inches high--a very odd-looking fellow to me. I had forgotten all that had taken place before, so was surprised to
see such a personage in my barn--but I had no fear, and went with
outstretched hand to greet him. "I am a spirit; you cannot touch me. Come, let's be gone."
At the sound of his voice I recalled the promise, and was filled with joy. We did not travel by our own power or effort. We
went light, airy, and swift. And when we landed, we seemed to alight on a railing. I cast my eyes about and it seemed to me I
could see for thousands and thousands of miles. It seemed to be a
world of unbounded space. I asked, "Is this the spirit' World?"
"Yes." " Where is God? Is He not here? I see now the darkness under which I have been laboring all my life. There are other things I would like to know, if it is your pleasure to grant my request": firstly, "Was Jesus Christ the son of the great eternal God?" "Yes, He was and is the son of God--both temporally and spiritually, temporally He became heir to the weakness of the flesh; spiritually He is heir to all the attributes of God. But the divine qualities of the Father predominated over the weakness of the mother or the flesh. He was delicately constructed, and was more sensitive to pain than any other man living--then or now."
"Thank you my kind heavenly friend for this information concerning Jesus Christ. I thank the eternal Father of spirits for
sending you to instruct me on this subject, for it has been a stumbling block to me and a rock of offense. I have talked to learned men about it, and I have searched the scriptures, and could get no satisfaction. All seemed so contrary to nature. I do hope and pray that God and Jesus Christ will forgive me, for I have
belittled. . . . . Mary. . . . and her son, Jesus...I understand now, also, how the male and female are one and cannot be separated....
"Now," said the personage, "I will enlighten you further on
the scriptures--or the Bible. Those parts that were given to the
prophets of God through revelation are the Word of God unto men and are strictly true. Other parts that were written by honest, just
men are as right unto the truth as they understood the truth. The men who have been instrumental in translating the book from one
language into another were not strictly honest. They altered
passages of scripture to suit their own convenience. Many plain
and precious parts they left out, and other parts they destroyed,
so the Bible is not as plain and understandable as in ancient times. But there is still enough truth contained therein for the
present use and salvation of man, if it is read and understood by
the spirit and power of God."
"Is there a hell or place of torment prepared
where the ungodly are punished?" "If you will look yonder into the north country your question will be answered, I think, to your satisfaction." I turned and saw away in the distance a dreary,
dismal, cold-looking world upon which was a vast multitude of people that no living man could number, and the condition they were in was beyond the power of man to describe; and it pained my inners and filled my soul with anguish to see them--I seemed to be fascinated by the sight.
"Gracious God, what sins have they committed that justice
should demand such an awful punishment?" "If you will cast your eyes about you, you will see that all are not suffering to such an extent. They must suffer only as they have sinned in the flesh." "Will they never be redeemed from that awful misery?" "When justice is satisfied, mercy will have her claim." "Is that what they call Hell? I did not see any devils with pitchforks or the lake of fire and brimstone into which they pitch the wicked." "You must agree," (said the personage), "that that is a good comparison, but it is not literally true. The devil has nothing to do with the punishment of man after he leaves the body. It is their own mind and conscience that torment men. They have transgressed the law-they have defied God and esteemed Him as naught--and the wages of sin are spiritual death." "I have heard it said by eminent divines that if a child die in infancy, it is doomed to hell. Is that a fact?" "No, emphatically no! Any man who says there are infants in hell is a liar. It is to say the Christ made no atonement for original sin, and that all His sufferings and death are in vain."
Are there any churches or denomination on the earth at the present time that are right and pleasing to God?" "No, none of them is right. Jesus Christ organized His Church with apostles, who were prophets, and they declared many things that would come upon the earth. They spoke of a time when the Church of God would come upon the earth again, which time is shortly ripe. You may not live to see it, but your children certainly will, and if you will humble
yourself and repent of all your sins and blasphemies, you will be forgiven and will rejoice in the goodness and grace of God in all your days. Deal justly and honestly with all mankind. Acknowledge the truth whether it be for or against you. Cease to complain. Cultivate love for God and man. Speak the truth--and the whole truth--whether it be for or against you, and your rest will be sweet. 'Come,' said he, 'let us be gone'."
And in an instant we were back on the barn floor. Then I opened my eyes, and I was still lying as I had been with my eyes covered. I told my wife during the day some of the things I had seen and heard, and she seemed interested. "But it may have been only a dream, and you know you have laughed at dreams--even told people that if a dog could talk, he would likely tell us beautiful dreams as any person; and this may be nothing more than an ordinary dream of an over-wrought mind." "Well, you get the bible, and I
will tell you the chapter and verse of such and such books, and I will rehearse it to you just as the ANGEL did to me from Genesis to Revelations!" "But that would be no proof, Sanford, for you know the Bible off by heart. Still, you may have forgotten it all, for I know you have not looked at that book for many years. If you repeat everything correctly, I shall believe it was a vision." When she told me I had read those verses as though I had the Bible before me, I jumped up, grabbed my hat, and stepped out onto the porch.
"Are you leaving?" enquired my wife. "Yes, I am going over to Deacon Pond's and tell him what I have seen and heard, and see what he thinks about it." "Don't you think you had better wash up
first? Your face looks dirty. And you had better have a bite to eat, for you have tasted no food these three days; you must be faint and hungry." "No, I am neither faint nor hungry, but I am dirty, so I will wash up and change my clothes." Then I went to the Deacon's saw mill, and found him there. I told him I wanted to talk with him for a while if he weren't too busy. We sat down, and I told him of the disquietude of my mind of these many years--of the anguish of spirit I had suffered--of my long fast, and of my vision. We talked all day until sundown. Neither of us noticed that the mill was not running and that about 20 men had gathered around to listen to our conversation. When all was told, I asked
him what he thought about it. He replied, "I am deeply impressed, Go home and write it down, lest you forget it; and I want to read it--perhaps many times." This took place in the spring of 1816-March 18 if I remember right...
When I went into the barn, my father's coffin would come in my mind, and that angel of light would seem to appear. I got so I was almost afraid to go in the barn...I could not bear to stay on the place, and I sold out my farm to my brother, John. He wanted to get a place for his son-in-law by the name of Rodney Lewis. He had married Hulda Porter, one of John's daughters, and she was blind-
and John wanted to have them live near by him.
After I sold out to John I went to the west ridge 5 or 6 miles off and bought a farm and moved on it, and 'lived there that summer. My brother, Joseph, came in the fall from the state of Vermont, for he said he felt very lonesome since father died, and my wife wanted to see her people...Joseph said if I would move back to Vermont he would let me have the old homestead father had had. He had land enough without it...We moved up after a few months at the mill. I found that I was too weak to haul the sacks of grain...The doctor said I had quick consumption. I rented out the mill.....
My brother, John, came from York state--he and his wife to
make us a visit, and they wanted me to go back with them. They thought it would be good for my health After we had got over
that high mountain, we soon came into York state. We came to a
ditch where the rocks were white with lime. I was very dry and
took a good drink of water, and I could perceive that I felt better than I had felt for a long time By the time I had got to John's
I felt right smart and well. John wanted me to move back again. I said I would if I could sell my mill and buildings in Vermont. He said he would swap with me and let me have my old place back, and let Rodney have the mill in Vermont.. .He (Rodney) was very
willing. I went to Vermont and got my family and moved back. John was highly pleased to have me back...but our friendship was of a
short duration He and his wife went on a visit down to Old
Brimfield about 300 miles to see some kin, and he was taken sick
and died .They said they would write to us when they got there,
but no letter came, and we thought it was strange........
One night I went into a trance and my spirit went down as if going past John's house...Then, I saw a wagon covered with a black oilcloth cover, and a white horse standing by it. I heard John's girls crying and screaming, "Oh father, father, can it be that father is dead?" My spirit went into the home. There was John's wife dressed in mourning--weeping with the girls. She said that John was dead and buried in Old Brimfield. I asked her what was the cause of his death. She said they took a pleasure trip down to the seaside and John went in the water, and bathed and washed himself and drank some of the salt water, and was taken sick, and was not able to drive the horses he grew worse and didn't live
but about 10 days. I wanted to know what had become of the horses and wagon they went away with. She said John's brother, Nathan, had traded them off to pay for the doctor and for the coffin.....
As quick as thought, I came out of the trance. Said I, "Nancy, John is dead--have they got a letter from him?" "No, said Nancy,
"I have been down there..." I thought I would go down there in the morning and tell the girls. I told them I had had a vision and that
their father was dead, and that Susan would be home without him with a wagon covered with black--and a white horse... They fairly laughed me to scorn. They said they didn't care about my dreams...They didn't believe but that he would come back as well as he went away...They jumped and danced about the house as if the devil was in them...I suppose they thought to cheer me, for I was in deep mourning....
I was going to the store in a few days, and then I saw the wagon and the white horse that I saw in the vision. I went to the house and the girls were screaming and saying, "Father, father can it be that father is dead?"...I told her, (Susan) all particulars of my vision and she said, "I declare, you have the truth. You could not have told my story better if you had been on the journey with us....
Nathan was with her. He (Nathan) said he and his wife had
parted and she had gone to the state of Ohio, and taken their children, and that he was broken up and had no family--and hadn't had for 3 or 4 years...John died without making any will concerning
his property (The girls) were willing to let the widow have all
she brought there. She brought nothing, but her clothes and trunk. ..."Don't you think," I asked, "that your father would have willed her more than that if he had made a will before he died?" They said they didn't know what his will would have said about it...
I went home and could not help but think of John and his affairs...I went into the bedroom and lay down and I cried to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to let me go see my brother, John.
Immediately I was in a trance and there came an angel from the spirit world and told me that God had heard my prayers and he was sent to tell me I might go and see my brother and learn what his will was concerning his widow and the girls. The spirit vanished, and my spirit took its flight to the spirit world...John was in a darkish, dreary-looking place in an old dilapidated cabin...I told him I had been permitted to come and see him, and see what his will was concerning Susan and the girls..."Well," said John, "you tell the girls it is my will that Susan should have a good comfortable living. Tell them to let her have the northwest square room to live in, a good bed and bedding, and all that she needs to make her
comfortable. She has been a kind mother; now let them be kind to her...Tell Susan and the girls not to be too much worried about getting gain while on earth, for all things upon the earth are perishable, and pass away." "Well, Brother John, what is your situation in this spirit world?" He said he was in a dark dismal place, but he must bear it as best he could, because justice was done, and he could not find any fault. "Do you think you will ever be any better off?" He did not know anything about it I took my
flight back to my body....
I told my wife and Susan I had had a vision and what John's
will concerning them was My wife told people she knew it was
true as the sun shines. I went and told the girls what I had seen and heard--that Susan was to have it unless she married again. Things went very well for a few weeks, but Nathan flattered up
Susan and they went off and got married. Then she had no more right
to the house.
I told Nathan if I could sellout I would, and go to some other country, and get out of sight of John's house...I knew he had worked hard for what he had got, and it troubled me to see some other men would get the benefits of his labors...(Nathan) said he
would trade with me, and buy my farm--and he had wild timber land in Ohio... We made a bargain, and I settled up my affairs and prepared to move to the state of Ohio. We started sometime in February...I found the land--what I could see of it, but the most of it was covered with water and it looked like a bog I found
it was not such land as Nathan had described as being mostly ash and chestnut timber... I worked hard that summer, but thought I could never raise bread on it to support my family....I cried again to God to let me know what was best to be done, and immediately I
was in a trance and in a vision...A messenger was sent from the
spirit world to tell me what was best for me to do. He informed me
that I had better sell the place I was on, for it was too hard a
place for a man to support a family...he said I had better go to
the state of Illinois--not far from lake Peoria--what was called Fork Clark...he vanished from out of my sight...(In selling the land) I had to take it to a high court of justice. (There was quite some delay.)
Nathan Porter came to my place from York state for fear of his life, for someone had threatened to kill him...He said he had
accounts against some men, and they had accounts against him, and
they were such a set of rascals he could not settle his accounts
and he wanted to have me go back with him to help settle up his
affairs and help him move to the state of Ohio I told him I
would go with him and help him out of that scrape... We got back and I took his accounts and went and settled up his debts...I had no trouble with anyone at all. (Nathan and Susan) rode back with me to Ohio in a wagon.....
It was but a few days before my wife laid in with a little
daughter, (Nancy Areta Porter, born 8 Aug. 1825). It was a time of
sickness with little infants and children. They would be taken with what was called croup or rattles, and choke and turn purple, for they were so filled with phlegm they couldn't breath. There were many that died...The doctors could not save them. Our little
baby was taken with it. They wanted me to send for a doctor. I
said I would not...I went up to the old widow Johnson's and got her to nurse the child. She gave the child a dose of lobia. The child was then almost black, but the lobia moved the phlegm so the child could breathe more easy. The fever was very high...I fed it with cold water until the fever abated. Soon the child began to choke again, and turned purple. Mrs. Johnson fixed it lobia again until it could breathe. She was the only child that was heard of that had distemper that young and lived. We called her name Nancy, so as to bear up her mother's name..."
I hired a man to help move us...to Peoria county...I rented about 10 acres of plain land off a widow...Chancy W., my oldest son, was about 12 years old. He could plow the ground, for a man
was very handy. He could plow without any driver. He plowed and
(Adventuring into Illinois--just after they crossed the Wabash into the new state.) We stopped at Farm Creek, and Mr. Clark bought a farm there. I did not like it there very well, for I could see that many farms were deserted on account of that creek getting wicked in the spring, and piling heaps of wood and deep sand on the farms after the crops had been up several inches. So I went farther up onto the edge of the prairie, and found a place that pleased me very well--about 40 acres covered with beautiful white oak--thrifty and good sized with a good road running from the Wabash to Port Clark--now called Peoria.
I moved my family up there, and once more we went to clearing land and making logs to build a house, a barn, pig sty and other things--to plow again and to plant--and to reap and get ready for winter. We had plenty of work to do--and then some. I got Morris Phelps to help me, and Chauncey W., my boy, now coming of 13 was a
smart lad at everything, so we three made good progress, and by winter time we were quite comfortable. Morris built him a tavern to accommodate travelers, and there was much travel on that road summer and winter. He charged heavy for every accommodation, and some of the people could not pay. They began stopping at my place for something to eat, etc.., and I would charge them nothing. Finally Morris came to me complaining.
I said, "I don't charge certain people anything for what they get here. They are poor, and I will not feel into their pockets for the last dime they have. I will follow the Golden Rule: "Do
unto others as you would that they should do unto you under the same circumstances." "Well," said he, "I am going to follow the silver rule, and get all I can lawfully from any and all of them."
After we had been here a while, Morris and I thought we would go in partners and build a saw mill--each standing half of the expense, and sharing half the profits. There were but two mills in an area of 30 or 40 miles. We saw no reason why we should not pick up a good business The country was settling up fast, and all the newcomers would all need lumber and such to build their homes.
Everything went along fine until it came time to make the water wheel. Leon Sheegar was the millwright, and a very clever one he was--a quick workman, a good disposition, and not extravagant in his wages--and not difficult to pay. He would take anything we had that he could use or dispose of. Morris told him to make the wheel 6 or 7 feet long and 3 or 3 1/2 across. He said it would have to have as much power as if it was the whole width of the floom.
Sheegar told him that would never do, and tried every way to reason him out of it, but Phelps was a conceited man and would have his own way, no matter what professor he might argue with.
Sheegar said to me, "I hate to build that wheel; it will be time and money thrown away to the birds." "Go ahead and do it, and you shall get your pay if I have to pay it all myself. It may be worth it to teach him a lesson." When it was all ready, Morris rolled a log about a foot through onto the carriage, hoisted the
gate, and let the water in as big as you please. She ran up quick enough, but when she came down and hit the wheel, she stopped. The wheel would not turn fast enough to even start the saw. Well, Morris worked at that thing until he got tired out, red in the face, and sweating all over--then quit, cursing the mill, and the water and the expense, and everything but the real cause--himself. The air was so blue from the fire of his cursing you could imagine the mill was aflame. He told me I could have the damned thing if I would take over the debts he was owning. "If your debts aren't more than your half or share, I will take them over for you, provided your creditors are willing to take me as paymaster." That man would go in debt for good and fancy clothes, just as long as people would trust him. I told him I would never ask any living man for one dollar trust unless we hadn't a crumb in the house to eat. I would buy land and that which I thought I could pay for, and if I failed there was still the land with all the improvements I had made that could be turned back. But no debts for me if there wasn't a sure way out.
A man by the name of Camalin owned one of the mills I have spoken of, and when spring came, he went to Peoria and told all the merchants and everyone I was owing--on account of taking over Morris' debts--that they would never get a penny out of me, for as
soon as the snow started melting, the water would come down so fast that every inch of my mill would go down stream. I heard of this-went over to Peoria, and told my creditors not to worry about what I owed them until they heard my mill had gone out--then they could set the law on me. Well, I sawed enough lumber between the first of
April and the middle of June to settle up everything I owed, and
some to spare.
I stepped out of the house one morning to go to the mill, and met two strange men. We passed the time of day, and one of them handed me a letter--sealed. I opened it and found it was from Morris Phelps who then lived on the Dupage about 30 miles from Chicago.
"My friend tells me you are preachers of a new profession. We will walk into the house, gentlemen." I bade them remove their
knapsacks and be seated, and asked if they had been to breakfast. They had not. I then told my women folk to prepare a good breakfast for these gentlemen, and asked them to excuse me while I went to the mill to see how the boys were coming on with the work, and said I would soon be back.
My son, Chauncey, had learned remarkably well and fast how to handle logs, mind the saw, sharpen it, and in fact, the order of
everything pertaining to the mill. He had outstanding gifts along that line and many others. I told the boys respecting the new
preachers, and that I must go to them, so they must watch very close that which they did.
Morris told me in his letter that these men had been preaching in their neighborhood, and had set the Methodist, Baptist, and every other religious profession in an uproar, and he wanted me to search them to the bottom and find out if possible what their belief was, and write him my conclusion. I went back to the house and said, "Well, gentlemen, I am ready to hear you expound your doctrine."
They told me that they had a prophet, seer and revelator--that they had apostles, and that their church was organized just as the ancient church of Christ was organized; that they had the same
gifts, the same power to heal the sick and to cast out devils, the power to ordain every male member to the Priesthood, and that these men were given authority to preach their gospel to every nation and kindred, tongue and people. If people believed and repented of their sins, the elders of their church were commanded to baptize them by immersion in water, and to lay their hands upon their heads, and bestow upon them the gift of the Holy Ghost which would lead them into all truth.
As they talked, I surely prayed in my heart that what they were telling me was true! They showed me a new book they had with them, and explained where and how it was obtained. I took the book, and together we searched it. For three days and nights-almost without sleep, we searched it. I asked them what their interpretation was to many passages of scripture. About daylight of the third night I told them I had asked all the questions I could
think of, and they wanted to know what I thought of their doctrine.
"If you have told me all the truth, gentlemen--and I have not the least doubt of it--your church is the right church and the only one on the face of the whole earth." I knew, for a personage from another world had told me that all mankind had transgressed the laws of God, changed the ordinances of the gospel, and broken the everlasting covenant--and I had been commanded to join none of
them, for they preached for hire and the adulation of men. And I thought that of all the crafts on earth, priestcraft was the most rotten and deceptive...They tell the people there is no need of
prophets or visions or revelations these days; that we have a Bible, and when that was given to men, the Canon of Scripture was closed (And you can prove anything, right or wrong, from the
"Yes, the things of God must be read by the Spirit of God or all is confusion," the preachers agreed. I would like to advance
my theory or belief a little further. I have read from the Koran,
the Mohamed Bible, that gives an account of a race of people that lived 3000 years before Adam. And it appears by what is written in the Bible concerning Cain (after he slew his brother Able), he fled
(after God had cursed him) to a distant land away eastward of Eden-which was called the land of Nod...The flood cleansed the earth of all humanity except that of the lineage of Adam.
They (the promulgators of priestcraft) say that any man claiming to have had a vision is a liar, a blasphemer, a dreamer, and a hypocrite I had a vision, and I know I had a vision, and
they called me all those things, and will not have anything to do
with me--nor I with them. They, the elders of this new church, tried hard to persuade me to join their church and be baptized, but
I told them it was not good to make haste, but should take your time to repent. I would reflect upon it, and if my belief and faith strengthened after further consideration, I would join. "I already believe, for this book you have presented me brings a message I have long believed---that this continent was inhabited before the Indians came here, because many things have been picked up and found that somewhat resemble some of our tools, and suggest a civilized people. So I see no reason why this Book of Mormon, as you call it, is not genuine and true. The angel told me there was no society of religion on earth that was right, but that there would be some time soon--that I might not live to see it, but my children would. Well, I believe I have lived to see it, but I must know before I join. There is one other thing you have mentioned that I cannot make out how it can be done. That is--the people who join your church must give up all their property into the hands of the leaders that it may be divided so as to make all equal--that is--all property shall become common stock. That would do very
well if everyone who joins the church were honest and righteous.
But since you are commanded to preach the Gospel to all kindred,
tongue and people, I think the gospel net will gather out all sorts of fish--good and bad and indifferent. You will be taking therefore the earnings of honest men to support the shiftless, the idle, the lazy loafers of whom even the Gods despair."
(The next portion of Sanford's History is a repetition, but I have chosen to copy it from the Porter book just the way it has
been printed as there are important facts I feel should not be omitted. Maurline B. Williams)
(on the last page of Sanford's journal book is listed the following:)
1872--82 years old--Sanford Porter Sen., son of Nathan Porter and Susannah West was born in Brimfield, Mass. on the 7th March 1790. Nathan Porter, son of Timothy (old Tip) Porter was born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, I think, about the year 1740. Timothy Porter was born in the same place about the year 1715 as he was a very old and tottering man when I was only 4 years old. All of my brothers by my father's first wife were born in the above place. My grandfather's name is Timothy Porter, who was born at Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A., in the year 1710. My father's name is Nathan Porter, born at Brimfield, Massachusetts, U.S.A. in 1745. My mother's name was Susannah West Porter.
(A Correct Ancestry of Nathan Porter. taken from studies proven in the "Porter Family History" by Joseph Grant Stevenson Vol. # 1, proves Timothy Porter as an uncle not the father of Nathan. His father's name is: John
Porter, and his mother is Desire. )
I was born in Brimfield, March 7, 1790. My parents moved to Orange County, Vermont, in the year 1798. I lived with my parents until 1810, when I set out for Western New York, about 30 miles southeast of Buffalo..There I spent a year opening up a farm, and preparing a home. The next three months I spent visiting my parents, brothers, and sisters in Vermont. While there, I married
Miss Nancy Warriner, daughter of Ruben and Sarah Colton Warriner. We were married January 1, 1812. We soon returned to Holland, Erie county, New York. Shortly after our return, the War of 1812 began, and I was drafted into the American Army, and during my absence, my eldest son, (Chauncey Warriner Porter), was born, October 12,1812, at Holland, Erie County, New York.
I was allowed a furlough in 1814, and shortly after my return, the burning of Buffalo by the British and Indians took place. This caused considerable excitement in the surrounding country, and in
order to be out of the line of danger to life and property, we moved to Oneida County, about 180 miles eastward, and there I opened up another farm, and we lived there until 1818. In that year, I rented my farm, and we moved back to our old home in Vermont where I bought another farm, selling my home in New York.
We did not remain long at the old home town, but sold and moved again to New York, settling at Augusta, Oneida County, New York--remaining there until 1823, when I again sold--moving this time to Liberty, Trunbull County, Ohio. During our stay at Liberty, two children were born--Sanford and Nancy Areta. We now had 7 children in the family. In 1827, we again sold our all--this time for the purpose of journeying toward the land of the setting sun, to the fertile country of the Illinois, in company of a Mr. John Morgan. We constructed a flat boat, which we launched on the Mahoning River, not far from our home in Liberty. Loading it with
our effects, we floated down the Mahoning, then into the Beaver, then into and down the Ohio. This journey was fraught with danger and adventure as the country was wild and uninhabited--but our first danger was going over the falls of the Beaver River some
distance above its confluence with the Ohio. As we neared the
Falls, we drew to shore, and disembarked all the women and children--in fact all except Mr. Morgan and two pilots, leaving them with the boat, and the rest followed down the stream, watching the boat with intense interest as it drew near the suck which plunged it over the falls. For a few moments, we thought all was
lost, but soon came in sight, right side up, and no material damage was done.
On the 4th of May 1827, we disembarked near Evansville, Indiana, and we rented a farm of a Mr. Gentry, and planted a crop,
after which I took very sick, and for a while, my life was despaired of, but at length, I began to amend and became strong enough to teach school that winter. Then in March, 1828, we again took up our march toward Illinois. The wagon we hauled our belongings in, although common in those pioneer days, would seem very novel in the construction at the present time. It was built in the form of a truck, the wheels being made of pine logs, morticed together with a large hole through the axle for the linch pin. We used tallow for wagon grease with this rude construction, drawn by two yoke of oxen, we traveled northwest from Evansville, crossing the Wabash River into Illinois. We had very stormy weather as is usual in that part of the country in early spring. One night we spent in the hollow base of a large tree, finding protection from the cold wind, with a fair degree of comfort. After crossing the Wabash, we were joined by a Mr. Baldwin Clark and family who had made previous arrangements to join our company when we should reach that point. Thus, we pursued our journey into Tazewell County, Illinois. As we journeyed on, we were filled with wonder and admiration at the beautiful country lying before us as far as the eye could see--covered with luxuriant growth of natural vegetation. We journeyed on, crossing the Sangamon River, and arrived at our destination some time in June. We camped about three miles from the Illinois River and Peoria, up the River about 8 miles on the west bank of the Tazewell River.
After exploring the country with a Mr. Morris Phelps, we took
up a farm about three miles east of the town. Although in a fertile country, we had many perplexities to meet, as is the case in a new country. Everything must be made at home--utensils, farming implements, shoes, clothing, etc. We had to work on the principle: if you want anything, make it--and few tools to work with. There was no school that the small children could reach. But with all, we prospered and had plenty to eat and wear.
In the second year of our residence in the new country, the Black Hawk War broke out, and many white people had to go into the army, and excitement ran high for a while, but the war proved of short duration as a treaty was made, and peace was restored to the people of Illinois.
About the year 1829, I and Morris Phelps, and John Cooper commenced the creation of a saw mill on Farm Creek, about three miles from my home. But before the mill was put in successful operation, I and my two sons purchased the interests of the other two parties, but finding it difficult to run both farm and mill, we
sold our farm, and moved to the mill, where we resided till 1831.
Sanford Joins the LDS Church
It was while living on the mill on Farm Creek that we became converted to the Mormon faith--joining the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints in the month of July, 1830 (this date could not be correct as the missionaries were not in Illinois in 1830. The Porterville Ward records show his baptism date as 10 Aug 1831). We were converted and baptized by Lyman Wight and John Corrill, men well known in early church history. Those two Elders visited the country in the early part of the year.
Perhaps a sketch of my religious tendencies in my early manhood, and before being converted to the Mormon faith may be interesting to some of my descendants. Although my children and grandchildren are most all religiously inclined, I am inclined to think they did not inherit it from their grandfather. Prior to a
few years before I joined the Mormon Church, I was very near, if not quite, an atheist or infidel. I believed in what I could see
and feel and hear, and maintained that there was no life after death. I looked upon all churches as a scheme of ministers to make
an easy living by plying their trade on the minds of the ignorant, and weak-minded. But about the time Mormonism was revealed--though I had heard nothing of it at that time, I became disturbed in my
mind, and something was telling me there was a God and a life after death. I pondered upon it, then tried to put it from my mind, but it would not leave me. I did not speak of it to anyone--nor could I
satisfy my own mind as to any cause why I should be thus disturbed in my ideas of atheism. But I realized that some unseen power was holding a stubborn argument with me upon the existence of a God, and a life after death; and I became so much disturbed as to break my rest. While at work, it would be continually on my mind, and after my family were all asleep, I would get up and walk the floor, and at last I came to the point of extreme, and I spoke out in an audible voice and said, "Oh! Is there a god? If so, may I know the way that is right?"
And then, I was answered by an audible voice which said,
"There is a God, and three times this night thou shalt know the way that is right, and thou shalt doubt on more." The voice was a mild one, but it went through me like a shock, and I trembled in every limb, but in a few minutes, I gathered myself, and I thought someone had learned of my state of mind, and had been standing at the door and heard me speak, and had answered me in these words,
thinking I would believe it was a supernatural being that had spoken, so I opened the door. A light snow had fallen, then cleared away. It was light enough so anyone could be tracked, but a track of anything could not be seen. So I went back into the house, thinking someone may have gotten into the house and sprung a trick on me. Then I lit a candle, and made a thorough search, but I found no one, so I seated myself before the fire to await developments. I knew I heard an audible voice, and understood plainly the words "three times this night," and it filled me with fear to hear it again, that I might be overcome, but I waited a while, and all was quiet, so I thought I Would lie down, and rest while I waited. But my head had no sooner touched the pillow than I was caught away from things of the earth. Whether I was in the body or out of the body, I could not tell, but I felt of myself, and said, "It is no dream. I am awake." But a guide was with me, and we passed through a cloud of darkness. Then we came to a world of light, and the light surpassed the light of the large body of light. The body of light reached up so high I could not see the top, but close around the large body of light were many people, and they were all bowing to the big body of light in an attitude of worship and praise. And their countenance showed they were most happy. They were in pews or boxes formed like honey combs. The sides of one formed the sides of the others. In those that were occupied there was a male and a female. There was no one with a single person. Some were empty, and behind the first circle was another large circle of people who looked happy, but not so supremely happy as the first, and they also were in an attitude of worship and praise, and still farther back from the second were the third host of people. But they were in darkness, and in torment, so much so that they were wringing their hands, and going into contortions of bodily pain, until I turned from the sight.
Then I asked my guide what the body of light was that seemed
to be filled with moving life, and he said, "It is God." And I
asked him who the people were that were so happy, and he said, "They are those who have kept the commandments of God, and have gone through great trials, but have proved faithful." Then I asked, "Who are those that are in darkness and in such torment?" He said, "They are the commandment-breakers and doers of all kinds of sin." Then I asked if their torment would ever have an end. He quoted scripture in answer to all my questions, giving chapter and verse. Then he said, "There is no true Church upon the earth at the present time." Then I said, "will there ever be a true Church?" He said, "There will." I said, "will I live to see it? He said, "You will."
Then my guide said, "Let us go." Then I looked back the way we came and saw only darkness. Then I said, "Oh, let me stay." He
said, "You are not good enough." Then I said, "will I ever be any better?" he said, "You will." Then he said, "When your work is done on earth, you will occupy this mansion," pointing to one by which we stood. Quoting scripture again, "In my Father's house there are many mansions," etc. Then he said, "Now when thou are converted, then strengthen thy brethren," to which I replied, "They will not believe me if I should," to which he replied, "What is that to thee? Do as thou art bid. Some will believe." Then the guide said, "Come, let us go." So we went back through the darkness, and I came to a full sense of realization with a prickly feeling all over my body, but only for a short time until I was carried away again and shown the order of the spiritual life, and what mortals must do to gain an entrance into our Father's kingdom--and as the voice had said, three times that night, I was shown the things of heaven, and told the way that was right, that I need never doubt more, and so it has ever been since that time.
I am convinced that if I lose my inheritance in the Kingdom of God, it will be by my own negligence.
It was not until July 1830 (1831) that I learned anything of the new Church. Then two elders came to our town on their way
westward--preaching, converting, and baptizing. Those elders were Lyman Wight and John Corrill--men well known in the early church history. I went to all of their meetings, and their doctrine appealed to me, but still I was skeptical, or rather felt that I
should be cautious, as this might not be the one my guide had spoken of, but I felt confident he would come and let me know if this was the right church.
The elders asked me if I would let them know if I got notice that this was right. I told them if I got assurance that they were right, I would follow them to the ends of the earth if need be. The time drew near that their labors in that vicinity would close.
The day before they were to leave, they came to my house to hold a family meeting, and I received them cordially, and the best of feelings prevailed, but I felt that I should wait. But very early in the morning as I lay pondering, I heard the same mild voice as before. He said, "THIS IS RIGHT, ARISE AND BE BAPTIZED." So I lost no time in finding the elders. They held a meeting at my house again, and we went to the place prepared, and the ordinance of baptism was performed for myself, my wife, and eldest daughter Malinda--and I was ordained an Elder, and set apart to labor
as a missionary in and around the vicinity where we lived. The elders then went to the home of Nathan Sumner, about 6 miles from our place, whom they also baptized and ordained an Elder, and set him apart to labor with me as a missionary in the adjoining towns.
We then went about sixty miles north where we converted Morris Phelps, Baldwin Clark, and John Cooper, who were some of our old neighbors, as were also the Sumners, who afterwards became relatives-in-Iaw. Shortly after our return two elders passed through Tazewell county on their way from Jackson County, Missouri to Kirkland, Ohio, informing the Saints that Independence, Missouri had been designated as the gathering place of the main body of the Church, and it was the wish of the Authorities that the saints gather to that place. Shortly after this, I offered my property for sale, and prepared to go, and instructed the Saints over whom I was called to preside to do likewise. So on December 1st in the company with James Emmett, Morris Phelps, William Alldredge, John Alldredge, and a Mr. Berry--all with our families--set out for Independence, Missouri.
Map showing the Travels of Sanford Porter (Ohio to Missouri)
Those who have been in Illinois will know something of the hardships to be met traveling over this five hundred mile journey in the dead of winter. The first night out, we camped on the east bank of the Illinois River. The next morning, we crossed the river on the ice which was 8 or 10 inches thick. Some difficulty was experienced by the teams slipping, so a quantity of dry grass was cut and spread on the ice--then water poured over it, which soon
froze--thereby making the crossing easier for the teams, and the Spoon River, 60 miles farther, we crossed the same way. Here we rested a few days at a Brother Unstead's who had joined the Church a short time before. About 80 miles farther we came to the Mississippi River, called the Great Father of Rivers. Owing to a
south wind which had been blowing for several days, the ice was softened, so it was considered unsafe to cross, even for horsemen,
and to wait for the ice to melt and pass down the river so the boat could run, meant a greater expense than our little company felt like they could meet. We reasoned this way; we were making the trip in obedience to the requirements of the presiding authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ in whom we had placed our faith. Let
us ask for help in time of need. So I, Sanford Porter, and James Emmett went to a secluded place and in humble prayer inquired of
the God of Heaven what was best to do, and by inspiration these words were given to us: "Be of good cheer, for behold I will
prepare the way before you. Get ye up early in the morning, and cross this river with your teams and wagons. Use wisdom, and no
harm shall befall you, but you shall cross in safety." And this gave us a peaceful assurance, and all night long, I and Brother Emmett were awake, thinking the wind would surely change to the north and freeze the ice harder, but in this we were mistaken.
The south wind continued to blow, but the ice was a little harder, and according to the inspiration of the previous day, we made ready to cross.
Chauncey W. Porter, my eldest son, was sent ahead with the first wagon and two yoke of oxen hitched to it, and was told to stop at a certain sand bar more than half way across the river, and there wait until the main body of the company came up. But he
disobeyed our instructions, and drove on across while many people on both sides of the river were holding their breath in fear, but he went over all right, and a shout of wonder and surprise went up
from the people, and many said they saw the ice rise and fall in waves behind the wagon. But more care was taken when crossing the rest of the company. They all crossed the sand bar one team at a
time. Then unhitched the teams and drove them over. Then hitched a horse at the end of a tongue to distribute the weight to as long a distance as possible. In that we all crossed in safety by 10 o'clock.
After journeying a number of days in the state of Missouri, a halt was made to give the teams a much needed rest, and while here, an almost fatal accident occurred. My son, Sanford, was kicked by a newly shod horse with such a force that the toe calk penetrated the skull. He was to all appearance dead when carried into the tent. We anointed his head with oil, and laying our hands on his head, we invoked the life-giving power of the God of Israel, and soon after taking our hands from his head, his muscles began to show signs of life. In a short time consciousness soon returned. He opened his eyes, and seemed to recognize those around him, and in a short time was able to walk around.
The next day we resumed our journey. We crossed the Missouri River at Arrow Rock which is east from Kansas City and nearly half way across the state from Kansas City. The crossing of the river was made by ferry boat. And owing to the swift current at that place, considerable judgment and care was necessary in order to make a safe landing. Shortly after crossing the river, we were met by Morris Phelps, returning from Independence with the means he had
been sent for, and on March 1, 1832, we arrived at our destination after a cold and tedious journey, and the hazardous crossing of the rivers, but by the blessings of the God of Israel, we were all alive and well, and happily united with those of our faith, and feeling fully repaid for all the hardships we had endured.
We found that great things were laid out for the people to do. In the first place, the Saints were required to live by the law of consecration or stewardship as they did in the days of Enoch. We expected to reside in peace until the second coming of the Savior, and we were to build a magnificent temple to His most Holy Name.
The majority of the people voted to sustain the Prophet Joseph in his plans. The temple block was then covered with a thick growth of timber, but the brethren went to work with a will, clearing off the timber, using it for building and other purposes. Four branches of the Church had been organized to the west of Independence, extending out to a distance of 12 or 14 miles--mainly Big Blue Timber, Coalville, and Prairie. I and my family located at the last named place, being assigned about 20 acres to the family. The labor of assigning of the land was in the hands of Bishop Edward Partridge. We went to work immediately, clearing land and building houses. The law of consecration was believed to be a divine requirement from heaven, so all who voted to sustain it did so with a feeling of devotion in the stewardship system. Each one is assigned the property and the labor that his vocation requires, and each one is given his own individuality, and uses his own talent.
Students of history will bring to mind various instances where colonies in a new country have thrown their means together with a view to greater success financially... But in most instances it
proved a failure for want of individual interests. In Jackson
County, Missouri the majority of the Saints accepted the law of
consecration, but the minority of the people did not, and they were the strongest financially, being mostly merchants, and drawing their substance from the company, made an uneven pull, and caused dissatisfaction, and the company broke up, and the directors handed back all property and papers of agreements. But the seed of contention once started, spread in our own community, but with those not of our own faith, and strife ran to such a degree that we were driven from our homes without court or council, and that at the point of the bayonet and the muzzle of the gun. In 1833 we were driven in a body from our newly-made homes.
We then went into Caldwell and other counties to make homes, but not for long were we allowed to enjoy them. The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints soon found there was no place in the United States where it could dwell in peace.
On the 12th of November 1833, while the main body of the Saints who had been hurriedly driven from their homes, were on the south bank of the Missouri River with no way of making an immediate crossing, and the mob who had driven us were still in pursuit, and as they said they were under a pledge to kill men,
women, and children as soon as overtaken, a heavy storm came up,
and the guards said the mob were upon us. But before they began to attack, the storm broke in meteoric violence, the worst that any of us had ever seen, and in seeming fear, the mob fled from their intended victories, and we looked upon the storm as a miraculous deliverance by the hand of God. To describe the storm, it looked like the stars were falling thickly for a while, then only a few would fall, then it would renew its violence and fall thickly again. So it kept up until nearly dawn before it ceased. Instead
of crossing with the main body of the Saints, I, with a few others, traveled south and camped at the head of the Osage River. Then we traveled down the south fork for some distance. Then our little company of about 15 families camped for the winter.
As we had been driven from our homes in haste, we could bring very little to subsist upon, as winter would soon be upon us, something must be done to get provisions to live upon through the winter. So a council was held to determine what was best to do. I made a suggestion that those who had left grain and swine at their homes take their teams and go back to their homes and it might be that the Lord would soften the hearts of our enemies that they would let us have some of our own to bring back with us. But some said, "Inasmuch as we have done no harm to anyone or broken no
law, we might go to our homes and remain there." But I did not think it wise to try to remain with our enemies. They had driven us once without a first cause, and would again. I did not think it was wise to take our families, for I knew it was the prejudice against the whole Church that had caused all the trouble. So a part of us went back--some to get provisions, and some to remain. I had left plenty of grain and hogs at home if I could get it, so I took my team and went ,with the company, but when I arrived at my home, all was gone. My bins were empty, my hogs were stolen or had strayed off, and nothing remained to get--and in this condition my feelings can be imagined rather than be told. I was among my bitter enemies with no money to buy with, and my family out in the wilds with winter upon them and. nothing to live on.
I was walking the yard with a silent prayer to God that he would soften the hearts of my enemies, that they would be willing
to let me have some of my own provisions to take to my family. While in deep trouble, a Mr. Cantrel, one of my neighbors, though a bitter enemy to our people, came up to me and said" "Good morning, Mr. Porter. You seem to be in trouble." "I am," I said, "My family is out in a wild country with winter upon them and nothing to live on, and I have no money to buy food to take to them." His heart seemed to soften, for he said, "Drive over to my place. You can have what you want, and it will not cost you anything." And with a thankful heart I accepted his offer, although I felt that I was getting my very own. We had suffered so much persecution we were forced to take the stripes and bow to the giver. The other members
that were going back found as much as they could haul, so we were soon on our way back to our families, but those who went to stay did not stay long because they were so badly treated. One man was beaten and left for dead, and they were obliged to leave their all in the dead of winter, and travel westward.
Map showing Scene of Missouri Difficulties
We spent the winter of 1833 and 1834 clearing land and building houses. I and my family settled on a tributary of the Main Stream. The country at that time was almost an uninhabited wilderness, and our little company were thrown entirely upon their own resources. It was 40 miles to a gristmill, and I decided to move to the main body of the Church where our children could go to school, so I made a trip across the Missouri River to see what prospects there would be to get a location. And I made arrangements to get land and could begin tilling it the next spring. After my return, I offered my place for sale, but was not successful in getting anything for my improvements, so in the year 1839, we started, and after 5 weeks arrived at Montrose, Iowa. Shortly after we took up a farm west of the town and about 5 miles from Nauvoo.
Map showing the location of Sanford's Farm (1839-1847)
Shortly after settling here, my son Nathan, through overwork and handling heavy timber was injured internally, and was not able to work for several months--being unable to move from his bed for several weeks, and when he did begin to mend, his recovery was very slow. During his illness, my daughter, Sarah, was married to a Mr.
David Willard, not a member of our Church, but he had made a solemn promise that he would join soon after they were married. So she trusted in his word, but soon after their marriage, she found that
he did not intend to join the Church, and when out of her presence, he would speak against the Mormons and vilify them. We were all opposed to her marrying him, but like many others, she made her own
choice, but when she learned of his true character, it had a fatal affect on her sensitive nature. She grieved very deeply, and it undermined her health, and she passed away within a year after marriage. So she was free from the trials of this life. Another death occurred in the family in 1841 when Justin Theodore was killed by a horse falling on him. This occurred in August.
On October 6th, Nathan started on his ,first mission, traveling east. He remained on this mission about 13 months. He returned in November 1842. In 1844 he was again sent out. This time to electioneer for the Prophet Joseph Smith--he having announced his candidacy for President of the United States. It was while on this trip, and while in Ohio that the news reached him of the martyrdom of the Prophet and his brother, Hyrum.
Nathan states that Governor Ford was heard to say in speaking of the killing at Carthage Jail, "I would have thought they would have had more regard for my safety." and this after the Mormon
militia had all been disarmed by his orders. Thus, implying that he expected it to take place, but maybe not so soon--plainly showing he was taking no steps to prevent it, though he had pledged his honor to their safety, which was his duty as Govenor of the state, after calling upon all the Mormons to surrender arms, which was an un-American act. But a promise of protection--then turn an armed mob loose upon them. Such things are for the record of heaven.
Shortly after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, a meeting was called to elect or choose a leader to lead the Church, and those who were at the meeting testify to seeing Joseph Smith and hearing
his voice in the person of Brigham Young when he arose to speak, and the people willingly voted him in to lead the Church, and he immediately began preparations for the long journey west in 1845.
I succeeded in selling my property at a low figure, however, and accompanied the Saints to Winter Quarters, now Florence, Nebraska where we remained until 1847 when we started to the Great Rocky Mountains of the Great Salt Lake. My two sons, Chauncey and Nathan, remained behind, and made preparations for the long
journey, but before getting ready, the cold weather set in, and they were compelled to wait until the next spring before joining their father and the rest of the company at winter Quarters. They
got a little work through the winter, however, which helped them to a little means, but Chauncey was drawn into a trick by a horse-thief who came to him with a well-groomed horse, and wanted to leave it with him for a few days, and he would pay him for its care, and Chauncey not thinking of anything wrong, and anxious to make all he could, took the horse in charge. In a short time, the man was arrested for stealing the horse, and accused Chauncey of being accessory to the crime. Chauncey had plenty of witnesses to prove his innocence, but for want of justice, and being a Mormon,
it took what little money he had to get out of the trickery of his enemies which was hard on him at that time, but in the spring of 1846 (1847), they started with what they had and came to Winter Quarters, and got there sometime in June. On account of sickness and death in the family, having to bury his wife and two babies, Chauncey was compelled to remain two years longer, and did not come
to the Salt Lake Valley until 1849.
My son, Sanford, was in California with 500 more of the Mormon
boys who had been drafted into the U.S. Army at Winter Quarters, and was marched across the desert to the Pacific Coast to subdue the Mexicans, but the Mexicans surrendered, and the Army was disbanded in 1847, and Sanford met us in Salt Lake Valley on October 16, 1847, and remained with us until 1849 when he returned to California and was absent two years, returning in 1851.
He married in 1852, and settled in Centerville, Davis County, Utah with the most of his father's family.
Now my family were all in Salt Lake Valley except my eldest daughter, Malinda, who went to Texas with her husband shortly after
they were married.
Here in Salt Lake Valley, we resided in peace
until 1857 when the word came that the President of the United States was sending an Army to the Great Salt Lake Valley to
exterminate the Mormons, but what we had done worthy of death, we never knew, unless we were like the meek and humble Nazarene-being persecuted to death because we had pledged our faith in the Lord
Jesus Christ. And as he suffered in his day while doing the works of the Father, so are we destined to suffer--but something must be done.
Though only a handful of peaceable people, weak in number, and weak in means, but with too much American blood in our veins to put ourselves up as a target for an army to shoot at without making any effort to protect ourselves against our own countrymen. But brave,
kind, and noble President Young called a council of all the presiding authorities, and a prayer meeting was held, and the attention of the God of Israel was called to the case. And this is the answer they got through the spirit of inspiration: "Be of good
cheer. Call up your little army, and furnish them with your means,
and send them forth into the mountains, and I will put the sling of
David in their hands, and I will put a hook in the jaws of your enemies and shall lead them where I will, and there shall be no blood shed." And the writer can testify that, that proved to be the truth.
The militia was organized and Daniel H. Wells was general over the little army that went forth into the mountains in the winter of 1857-58 with Porter Rockwell and Lot Smith as captain of the scouts. My youngest son, Lyman W. Porter, and my eldest grandson, Alma Porter, went into the little army, and were out in the snow all winter. The captain of scouts was heard to say in speaking of the good nerve of his men, "Gad, boy, if you could see the tons of hardtack and crust coffee they devour up there in the snow, you would think they had grit." But they were generous boys, those scouts. They were hard at work all winter, helping their enemies, and got up a serenading party to cheer them up. Porter Rockwell and Lot smith picked 15 men, and my son, Lyman, was one of them. They used for musical instruments: camp pans, tin pans, tied and dried raw hides, and bake-oven lids rubbed together. Then they would all join in a song of lusty yells. The program was to draw as near as possible to their camp, then start the music, and put spurs to the horses and ride over their sleeping tents while the snow and wind were coming so thick a horse man could not be seen a few steps away. Then ride on over two miles to the herd grounds and stampede their mules and beef cattle--then keep them going where another
party would take them while the scouts drew to higher points, where as soon as the storm had passed, they could watch the movements of the soldiers with their field glasses. They saw a squad of soldiers wallowing through the snow, but going in the opposite direction. The scouts drew to camp to rest and enjoy a piece of beef, and get fixed up for another party. To use my son's own words, "It was plain to be seen the God of heaven was taking care of the U.S. Army. He had sent so much snow and cold wind, it had frozen the fight all out of them."
Shortly after this, the word came that the soldiers were running short of provisions, and the captain of the scouts called their little band together, and said, "Gad, boys, let's go out and cook a dinner for our enemies," so they drew off by themselves, and laid their plans before the God of Heaven, and asked his guidance and help. Then started out and met the enemies supply train-surprised the teamsters, and ordered a surrender, which was obeyed,
but was accomplished by a little strategy. The captain of scouts took all their men around a peak or a large knoll--then down a deep gully or canyon--then up around the peak again in full sight of the supply train, and this they did several times. Then the captain left the most of the men to ride around the hill while the captain with the rest rode bravely up to the train and called for a
surrender of arms. The wagon boss said, "Where is your authority?" The captain of scouts called out, "Our authority is close at hand, and you want to be quick at stacking arms," and they obeyed the order. When they had all stacked arms, seven men stood guard over the arms while 8 marched the teamsters into a deep gully. When
they had the teamsters a safe distance from the arms, then the seven divided, and part gathered the mules and drove them into another canyon while the rest fired the train. When it was all over and they found they had been taken, and the train burned by 15 men, their anger and mortification knew no bounds. The wagon boss begged him to shoot him, and not let him live to face such a disgrace, but the scouts said they did not want to hurt them. They told them if they were peaceable and orderly, very likely they would get their liberty when they got into Salt Lake Valley.
Now, what I am writing is true. My son and several others of the scouts are still living, and will give evidence of the truth of this writing, and also one of the teamsters of the government train that was burned is living in our town, having married one of our
Mormon girls, and he also laid claim to the gun my son brought home from the stack of arms but we must not forget that the God of Heaven over-rules the destinies of men--to put fear into the hearts of some, and courage into the hearts of others, to fulfil his promises, and accomplish his purposes. But as my son has often remarked, it seemed a shame to destroy so much property. There were loads of flour, bacon, rice, sugar, coffee, tea, fruit and canned goods, blankets and clothes, and resin soap that melted and ran in
a big yellow stream from the wagons while they were burning, and cooled on the snow. My son took his knife and cut out a chunk, and put it in his saddle bag and brought it home. "And with all the loads of ammunition to kill the Mormons with--and when the rest was all done, we set fire to the ammunition, and left a big feast for the coyotes, and went and gathered up our mules, and made a march for camp." Thus, we found later that the work of the little band of scouts made a very material difference in the moves of the U.S. Army. Another train of provisions must be sent to them before they could move, and in the meantime, delegates had been sent to the President of the United States to lay our cause before him, and
try if possible to make a compromise, or in other words to find out
why the army was sent against us. And while this was going on, President Brigham Young took a decisive step to prevent trouble of a general nature. He issued a call to all the people living in the northern part of the territory to move south, and take everything with them except their homes, so if the soldiers were sent in with hostile intent, there would be nothing to fight, and nothing to get, because the guard that was left to watch the U.S. Army were ordered to cut down fruit trees and burn houses so there would be nothing left.
The big general move was made before the delegates returned from Washington, and not a family to be found anywhere. But they brought good news. A treaty was signed, a new Governor for Utah,
and no hostility. The army was to come into Salt Lake Valley in peace. The people were all called back to their homes. The army came into the Valley the latter part of May, and the people returned in the fall. The army was marched as far south as Cedar Valley, and made a barrack. They called it Camp Floyd. They remained two years and then were ordered back to serve in the civil War in 1860. And now we see the God of Israel had a hook in the jaws of our enemies, and blessed that which seemed to be evil, and turned it to good, for thousands upon thousands of dollars were brought to the poor Mormons, and some became almost rich off the army, and no blood was shed, and praise be given to an All-Wise Father in heaven.
About the years of 1857 and 1858, such heavy snow fell in the winter, and such high water followed, and caused such an unusual rise in the Salt Lake that most of the farms lying in the bottom along the shore about 15 miles were damaged by the salt water--some to such a degree that nothing would grow on it, and my farm was one
of them. So I had to abandon it to salt and salaratus, and as my sons Chauncey and Sanford were putting up a sawmill in the mountains in Morgan County, Utah, I left my place and went Morgan County, and took up a place on canyon,~reek, and made a home there.
It is a good country, fine land, good water, and plenty of wood--although winters are a little harder than in Davis county where I had my home. My boys soon all left Centerville except
Nathan, and made their homes on Canyon Creek with me. We found
that the soil made good brick, and we hired men to burn a large kiln. We soon had good houses, and we got along fine in farming and stock raising, but in the fall of 1861, I was up on the side of the mountain chopping timber. I was felling a tree when my foot slipped, and I broke my leg above my knee. I was then in my 73rd year. It was 36 hours before we could get a doctor to set it, and by that time it had a bad color. The doctor said my leg would have to come off, but I said, "When I go, I will go all together." I told him to set the bone the best he could--then before he bound it
up, to anoint it well with consecrated oil--then for him and my
sons to administer to me, and if the Lord was willing I should
live, and it would heal. If not, it would be all right anyway. But my time had not come yet; my leg healed all right.
My greatest trial came in 1864 when my life's partner was taken from me, and a dear good wife and mother she had always been. Then life lost its interest, but we must all remain until our time has come, and here I close my history, and lay down my pen.
(Thanks should also be extended to Lysander Leroy Porter,
Elden Leroy Porter and Lilith P. Wilson for their copy of the above history. It should be mentioned, however, that the manuscript used by the writer is much more complete than any of these other manuscripts. )
The following is submitted by Joseph Grant Stevenson: "Sanford Porter, born Mar. 7, 1790 at So. Brimfield Mass. and Nancy Warriner, born July 27, 1790 at Vershire, Orange, Vt. were sealed at Nauvoo by a. M Lyman Feb 3, 1846 at 6:35 pm. The witnesses were Willard Richards and Isaac Morley." ; (Cf. F Utah S IA, P 445446) .
Under the date of 11 Feb 1873 Edward Stevenson wrote in his journal: "Telegraphed to Deseret News, a veteran Gone. Another Old veteran of Jackson Co. Mo--Father Porter of Porterville has Gone. Funeral 1 P. M. today." The Deseret News Weekly of Feb. 19th 1873 noted the following "Died at Porterville, Morgan County, February 9th, of old age, SANFORD PORTER, Sen., aged 82 years, 11 months and 2 days: Deceased was born in Brimfield, Mass., on the 7th day of March, 1790. He served his country in the war of 1812, and embraced the Gospel in Tazewell county, Illinois, June 1831. He was ordained an Elder under the hands of Lyman Wight and John Carl (Corrill), and soon raised up a small branch of the church, which he organized into a company, and started on the 1st of December, 1831, for
Jackson county, Missouri, arriving at Independence on the 6th of March, 1833. From thence he was driven, in company with the Saints, in the fall of 1833. He fled with a few families into Van Buren Co., where he resided until the spring of 1839, when he was again obliged to leave his possessions, and take up the line of march. He arrived in Lee Co., Iowa, the first of July. Here he enjoyed a season of rest in the society of the Saints. He was expelled, with the Nauvoo Saints, in 1846. Following the pioneers, he arrived in Salt Lake Valley in October, 1847. He honorably held various offices in the church. He was the first resident in Porterville, and had remarkable faith. He lived as a Saint, and died in full possession of his mental powers. His children, grandchildren and great grandchildren number 157 souls, most of whom attended his funeral."
Andrew Jenson in his Latter-day Biographical Encyclopedia, vol. IV, p. 662 writes the following: PORTER, Sanford, Bishop of the Centerville, Ward, South Davis Stake, Utah, from 1852 to 1855, was born March 7, 1790, in Brimfield, Massachusetts, a son of Nathan Porter and Susannah West. He was baptized in 1831, emigrated to Utah in 1847, and was ordained a Bishop Jan. 7, 1852."
The Endowment House records (F Utah SIB, # 1763) show that Sanford Porter had a second wife sealed to him on 5 Sept. l854 in
the office of President Brigham Young. She was Phebe Simpson,
daughter of Moses and Delpha Florence Simpson, born 10 Aug. 1805 at Caswell Co., North Carolina.
Sanford and Nancy Warriner Porter would never let their pictures be taken because they said it was vanity. See index for other references to Sanford Porter Sr. (Ed.)
Nancy Porter Moffett adds the following note: "Sanford Porter,
Sr. passed away the 9th of Feb, 1873. A few hours later, Minerva A. Duel, the mother of Amy Vilate Porter, also passed away leaving her tiny daughter 13 days old to be raised by Lyman Wight Porter and his 2nd wife, Sarah Catherine Emmett.
On the 11th of Feb. 1873 a double funeral was held for Minerva A. Duel (Porter) and Sanford Porter, Sr.; they were also buried at the same time. (at Porterville, Utah)