11 January 2009
William Lobark Skidmore
William Lobark Skidmore was the child of Charles Brett Skidmore and Harriet Henriette Schrider
(or Schrader). He was born 22 Sept 1844 in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
I was born on September 22, 1844, in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My memory reaches back to my old home on the Avenue which branched off from the street where draymen hauled great loads of freight into the city. I was much interested in watching them pass by and soon received the title of the "Little Red Curly Head".
I began attending school when six years of age and was Baptized into the Church by my brother Henry when I was eight years old. I was baptized in the Delaware River.
In April, 1855, with my mother and other members of the family, we started for Utah. My mother, Harriet Henrietta Sharedier Skidmore, the oldest son Henry, his wife and daughter Harriet, and another man, Samuel, who settled in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a daughter, Rachel, made up the party who came to Utah. The father, Charles Breet Skidmore, a son George, and a daughter Mary were left in Philadelphia. They did not join the Church. We went to Pittsburgh by rail, then down the Ohio and up the Missouri to Atchinson, Kansas, where we had our first experience of camp life. It rained for several days which made it very unpleasant for us. My brothers soon bought some cattle and an outfit, and we joined Captain John Hindley's Company for the journey across the plains. It fell to my lot to provide the fuel with which to cook our food. Since no wood grew on the plains, I would take a sack and gather up dry buffalo chips to fry our bacon and bake our bread. Often the wind would blow the lid off the pan, and some of our food would be seasoned with sand and ashes. This annoyed the women until all of us would have to laugh. We had no fresh meat except when someone killed a buffalo.
What was not eaten immediately was cut into strips and dried in the sun. At one time we saw a band of Indians coming toward us and the captain gave orders for the train to stop. All who had guns were ready to defend us. When the Indians saw that we were ready for them, they became friendly and wanted to trade buckskins and moccasins for sugar and salt. My brother, Henry's wife was young and pretty, and the Chief wanted to trade a pony for her. Sometimes we would stop for a day to rest and shoe the oxen and make necessary repairs. One day when the Captain was riding by, he told my brother, Henry, that our family was one of the best of the train and never caused him any trouble as did some of the others. At a place called Ash Hollow, the road was very steep. Mother with two girls had to walk and were left behind. Darkness came on, and they thought they were lost and were about to give up when they saw our camp fires. They were very tired and hungry when they reached camp, but no trouble came to them. We had tried to play a joke on them by filling the wagon with service berry bushes, but when we saw their plight we were sorry.
When we neared the Rocky Mountains, we met a company from Utah on their way east. They advised us to go back with them, saying that the grasshoppers were so bad in the Salt Lake Valley that they had eaten everything up and we would starve. We were not convinced by what they told us, and so we continued our journey. We reached Salt Lake City on October 3rd, after a journey of five months by ox teams.
We learned that the grasshoppers were pretty bad and had destroyed most of the grain in the valley. The winter was very severe and was cold with deep snow. We could get but little food and had to live on corn meal and molasses. When spring came, we dug Sego roots and other plant roots to live on. In May, 1856, I went to live with Beason Lewis who offered to take me in as his son, and it would relieve mother of one to feed and clothe.
I went to live on a ranch twelve miles west of Salt Lake City which belonged to Beason Lewis. His business was in the city. His wife, Elizabeth Ryan Lewis, lived on the ranch, and her husband would come as often as he could as he was very much interested in our welfare. On the ranch were two log cabins, and we lived in the one that had two rooms. We lived in the north room, and Stillman Pond and family lived in the south room. James Imlay lived part. of the time in the other cabin.
Most of the time, Mrs. Lewis and I were the only persons on the ranch which was a long way from the other settlers. There were many rattle snakes there and often, when all alone, I would hear them rattle and then I knew they were near enough to strike at me and I would hurry away to escape their poison. Sometimes the wolves would steal the new-born calves. The Indians would come often which I did not like at first. They came to us to beg for a biscuit. We were good the them, and they became friendly. After living there for some time, I was glad to have the Indians come, and I learned to talk to them to pass the time away.
When I was only eleven years old, it became my duty to take care of the mules that were used to haul the U. S. Mail 1000 miles from the states to Utah. The mules were very thin and worn from the fast driving across the plains, and Beason Lewis had the contract with the government to take the mules and get them in shape to be used again. They were placed on good food to fatten up and gain strength, another group of mules taken from the ranch in good condition would be used to pull the mail from west to east. I took care of the mules and kept them in the hills nearby. One morning, I rode a horse to drive the mules to water. In going over a hill, the saddle slipped back and the horse became frightened and kicked both saddle and me off. My head struck a rock and I was stunned. I don't know how long I was unconscious. When I came to, I caught a little lazy pony and drove the mules to the water. When I returned home, Mrs. Lewis saw the blood dripping down my back and she was alarmed. We were all alone, no one being near us for miles. I got off the horse, and she bathed my head with water and took off my bloody shirt. The wound wasn't too deep, and I soon recovered. That was an accident that could have caused my death. The scar remained for a long time, but I know that some power protected me.
At the time of the Echo Canyon War in the spring of 1858, all the people moved south and we moved with them to Spanish Fork. I herded cows on foot mostly all summer. I took my little dinner bag each day. The Indians would come on horseback and take the herd-boys' dinner. But I was lucky. I hid mine. The Indians were good to me. I think that being red-headed with sore lips and a freckled face, they thought I was one of them and belonged to a strange tribe.
The army passed peacefully through Salt Lake City and camped on the west side of the valley at the mouth of Bingham Canyon, so we went back home. I was glad to get back to the ranch in the late part of the summer. One day, Beason Lewis said to me, 'Well, I am about to sell the ranch and move to Cache Valley. Will you go with me?' After thinking about it for some time, I answered, 'Yes I will go.' I had been on the ranch three and one half years and had learned to love the place, so there was sadness mingled with joy at leaving. The fall and winter of 1859 60, we lived in Salt Lake City and I went to school. I was also prompt in going to meetings. I had the privilege at different times of listening to the remarks made by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and Jedidah M. Grant and the Apostles. I never became tired of hearing them speak. Their words were powerful. Their counsel has been a guide in my life.
In April of 1860, I went with Beason Lewis and family to Richmond, Utah, in Cache Valley. We had a wagon and horses and an ox team and wagon, a few cows and sheep. I drove the cows and sheep on foot. We were nine days coming from Salt Lake City and were glad to arrive at our destination.
When we arrived, we had much hard work to do, the first being to plow the land. It was very tough to plow and break up, and so we had to use four oxen on a plow. The plows were made of scrap iron by the local blacksmiths, and the harrows were made of wood with wooden teeth. We planted a few acres of wheat. Ditches had to be made from Cherry Creek to water the crops when we finished planting. We had to go up a high, steep mountain which we called Nebo to get house logs and fence poles. There was a cold spring of water that we drank from before going up the mountain, and we were very glad to get back there for another drink as the weather was warm and there was no water on the mountain. It has been 68 years since I went up Nebo, but as I look up at the mountain while standing in the street on the north side of the Tabernacle, there is a bare mark plainly visible. It has been made by water flowing down the old drag road made when we got the logs out. When the house logs were on the building lot in the fort, next came the building of the houses with dirt floors and sod roofs. A few settlers hauled logs they got from Cherry Creek to Logan and to the first sawmill in Cache Valley and had them sawed into lumber for their houses. After toiling all day, we had to take turns standing guard to keep the Indians from stealing our horses. The worst trouble we had with the Indians was in Smithfield. An Indian had been accused of horse stealing and was made a prisoner, but he broke loose and started to run. The officer shot and killed him. His tribesmen fled up Smithfield Canyon with revenge in their hearts. They met two white men coming down the canyon with their loads of logs. The Indians shot and killed them and then escaped on horseback into the canyon. I have often thought that the Indian charged with stealing had not committed any bloodshed, and it would have been better to let him escape than for our friends to have been killed.
Beason Lewis lived up to his contract and gave me all the advantages that other boys had at the time. I lived with him for twelve years, and the greater part of my clothing was made by Mrs. Lewis. She spun the wool into rolls and into yarn, dyed it and made it into cloth on a loom and then made it into clothing.
In tribute to Beason Lewis, W. L. Skidmore said: 'Once I was hungry. When I was nine years old my mother gave me to Beason Lewis. For some time, I had not tasted bread as wild roots and weeds that were cooked were my bill of fare. When Uncle Beason took me into his home, Aunt Betsy cut off a big slice of bread, spread it thickly with butter and gave it to me. That was the sweetest, best food I ever ate in my life.' When W. L. Skidmore married. Beason Lewis gave him ten acres of land and a team of horses.
In 1863, nine Richmond boys made a trip to Florence Nebraska, to assist in bringing into Utah the Saints from various parts of the world. Eight teams of four yoke of cattle made up the train. Charles Allen was the night guard. The teamsters were: William L Skidmore, Thadeus Goslind, John Buxton, Samuel Rogers, Thomas Petty, Eli Harris and Henry Dobson. (A picture of this group is on exhibit in the Museum in Brigham City.)
From the Book of Pioneers: W. L. Skidmore assisted in bringing immigrants to Utah. He was Superintendent of the Richmond Ward Sunday School in 1879-1880; Counselor to A. U. Hobson, who was the first Superintendent of the Y.M.M.I.A., in 1875-78; Bishop of the Richmond Ward for 21 years; ordained a Patriarch by Charles W. Penrose; Minute Man; Justice of the Peace; member of the City Council; member of the first Dramatic Society in Richmond; President of the Benson Stake High Council; hauled rock and lumber for the Logan Temple in 1878-79.
On March 28, 1868, he was married in the Salt Lake Endowment House to Sarah Armina Knapp. Rachel Andersen told this story: "Harriet Skidmore, a daughter of Henry, William L. Skidmore's oldest brother came to Richmond to visit her Uncle "Will", with whom she crossed the plains. While here, she met and fell in love with Silas Knapp, a brother to William's wife Armina. She stayed all summer, and in the fall William and Armina took the young couple to Salt Lake City to be married in the Endowment House. Returning to Richmond. the young couple lived with William and Mina in their two room log house. Later, when both women were expecting babies, they had no cloth with which to make diapers. They cut an old canvas cover into squares, washed it and pounded it and rubbed it until it was soft enough to use for diapers. Harriet took care of Mina when her baby was born, and then two weeks later Mina took care of Harriet when her baby was born.
On May 4,1879, at a special meeting held in the residence of Moses Thatcher in Logan, William L. Skidmore was ordained a High Priest and was set apart as Bishop to preside over the Richmond Ward by Apostle Charles C. Rich. On the same occasion, Christian Hyer was set apart as first Counselor and Wallace K. Burnham as Second Counselor to Bishop Skidmore. The latter held this position for twenty-one years.
Again from Rachel Andersen: "When William L. Skidmore was made Bishop, the Richmond Ward consisted of all the area, which is now Richmond and also that of what is now Cove, all the way to the Idaho Border. A block west of William's home and across the street where the old Willard Merrill and C. Z. Harris homes used to be, was the tithing lot. There was a large barn, a granary and a tithing office. Tithing was collected or paid in produce as there was very little cash. People would bring in anything from a half dozen eggs to a load of hay or grain, a beef or a cow, or even a few sacks of potatoes or a squash. All these things had to be recorded, receipts given and then the produce cared for. There was a big cellar under the barn where the vegetables, eggs, butter and such things were kept. A grain grinder powered by two horses travelling around in a circle, ground the grain for the cattle. A man by the name of John Anderson was hired full time to care for the stock. The bulk of the work and all of the responsibility rested upon the Bishop. Once each week, he would load the butter, eggs, vegetables, etc., into a wagon and take them to Logan to the Tithing Office there. It was located on the northeast corner of First North and Main Streets. Both Rachel and Malinda Skidmore Cutler remember going with William on these trips. They would take a lunch and eat it while waiting for him to give an accounting and transact his business."
He was married to Wilhelmina Pearson on February 19, 1885, in the Logan Temple. He was the father of 18 children, 12 sons and 6 daughters.
William L. Skidmore died on November 11, 1933, and his funeral was held on November 14,1933. A message of confidence from Governor Blood was read wherein he paid tribute to the integrity and outstanding ability of Mr. Skidmore. Elder Melvin J. Ballard of the Council of Twelve Apostles, an intimate friend, brought love and blessing from the presiding authorities of the Church. Brigham F. Grant, General Manager of the Deseret News and a life long friend of William, was also a speaker. He was a brother to President Heber J. Grant and was a member of the Beason and Betsy Lewis family and had had a great influence over his whole life. No boy or girl who ever lived with Beason and Betsy Lewis could have had a more loyal father and mother. Beason Lewis had two wives and no children of his own except those who came to him. He and his wife were perfect parents to all they cared for.
BIOGRAPHY: Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies p. 315 .... On (polygamous)
underground - appearing at my door in the guise of a tramp asking for bread,
my little daughter Melinda did not know me until I changed my voice and smiled."
BIOGRAPHY: (note he married Charlotte before Sarah died and was therefore