Sunday, June 17, 2012
I was born in England, 24 July 1834. When I was sixteen years old, I sailed from Liverpool on the ship “Olympus.” After a very stormy voyage of eight weeks, I landed in New Orleans and took a berth on a Steam Boat up the Mississippi River to St. Louis. Cholera broke out and many died. We were all put ashore Quarantine Island and kept there until all danger of contagion was over. We were then sent to St. Louis but arrived too late to cross the plains that season. The next April we went up the river to Reopuk, a town of few inhabitants. We put our wagons together, loaded our provisions, and I took my first less as a teamster. I drove four yokes of oxen and wagon about fifteen hundred miles along the Mississippi River in April of 1852. We arrived at the spot now called Lehi in September of the same year.
The settlers had moved up from Snow Spring and built their cabins on the ground called the Garden Lots on the banks of what was then called Dry Creek. There were also a few families living near the lake.
The people were not to remain in a scattered condition long. On July 13, the Indians commenced their raids on the cattle, driving them off and killing settlers. It was necessary to build a fort. By the latter part of July we were on the way and succeeded in getting through without any attacks from the Indians.
From 1853 up to the present time the Indians continued their depredations. Sometime it was the Walker, then the Black Hawk, and the Tintic and others.
In the year 1854, the Lehi Dramatic Association was organized with Thomas Taylor as President and James Taylor as Stage Manager. The other members I remember were William Taylor, Edwin Strandring, William Hudson, John Field, Joseph Field, William Bandyke, Oscar Taylor and his wife, and William Ball. The first play presented was in the old log meeting house. The play was “Luke, the Laborer.” Our lights were tallow candles. Scenery, wagon covers, and drop curtain scenery were painted with charcoal and red paint from a rock quarry.
On the thirtieth of Jun 1856, I was married to Sarah Jane Taylor, daughter of James Taylor. I had previously built a house, intending to live in it, but a man was killed there so I sold it for another lot. I got adobe bricks and went to the west mountain canyon for logs. I built me a room having previously learned the masson’s business. My wife helped me by putting adobies on the scaffold. I got it finished with the board rook and mud on the boards. I made a bedstead out of poles. A soap box held all our extra clothing. But we were happy, with all our Indian troubles and famine from grasshoppers. This caused us to live on thistle roots and fish.
In 1857 Bishop Evans was appointed to take a company and explore the White Mountains and the Beaver Valley. He called on William Taylor, Richard Bee, John Norton, William Skines, Doctor Williams, Thomas Randall, and myself. We took tools and provisions for several months. The Indians enjoyed our rations very much and called us “Wino Mormons” or Good Mormons.
We had our social parties and our dramatic entertainments. After the log house got too small to do for a theater, we fitted up the upper room of the tithing house and had a performance every week. Tickets were sold for all kinds of produce, grain, potatoes, squash, wood and sage brush. A season ticket was one dollar and fifty cents and for those that could not get money any other way, a load of sage brush was taken for the season ticket. A great deal of rehearsing was done by the light from sage brush.
James was asked by some church members how it was his children were growing up good and respectable, always found in good company, never visited saloons, etc. He answered, “My family is my religion. My whole aim is to bring them up to be honorable members of society. I have tried to make their home happy and attractive, by doing so they have kept out of bad company and I find it has repaid me a thousand fold.”
James died October 26, 1912 in Lehi, Utah at the age of 78.