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Alvus Houston Patterson - A Utah Pioneer

From: I was a Pioneer Child - As I Remember and Pioneer Facts Presented during 1978-1983 - by Members of the East Mill Creek chapter - Sons of Utah Pioneers - Mary Patterson Gardner and Martha Patterson Bennett

Our father, Alvus H. Patterson, was born May 17, 1825 in Taswell County, Tennessee.  His early boyhood was spent on a farm with his father. He hired out to a drover buying and selling cattle and through doing this he finally drifted into Wisconsin. It was here that he met and married Martha Fillmore on December 23, 1846 at the town of Franklin, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. Martha was born in Bennington, New York on October 25, 1830. Thirteen children were born to them - two of which died and were buried in Wisconsin. In December of 1846, Minor Prisbee, a missionary, and his son, labored in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and through his teachings the Patterson family was converted to the Mormon religion (which made them very unpopular with their friends). They were very anxious to come to Utah, so one night when all was quiet they left their homes and everything in it and started for Utah. They went to Warsaw, Minnesota thinking they would find some Mormon members migrating to the west. In the bitter cold of January, with their little flock of six, the youngest just six weeks old, they started with their yoke of oxen. The children were: Annie, Mary, Lutisha, Lavina, Nora and Lucinda.

When we reached the Missouri River it was found to be in a dangerous condition and father was told he was very unwise to endeavor to cross it. We camped on the banks of the river that night and when we awakened in the morning father called us all together and we knelt in prayer and asked our Heavenly Father to help us cross in safety. Planks were placed from bank-to-bank where the ice was solid. The wagons were then unloaded and everything was carried across in safety. We reached the other side and decided to camp there for a while.

Father went to work for the church caring for the stock. The company of Saints was so large, contining sixty wagons in all, that it was dividied and our father and Mr. C. Stookey were made captains of the two companies. The Saints had sacrified and gone through many hardships to make the journey west. After the company was divided, each took to getting their own train of thirty in preparedness for the long journey. New wagons were built and all unncessary things were disposed of.

Mother always was walking and we older children walked the greater part of the way. We would look in the distance for streams to cross and when we would see one our hearts would swell with joy, because we knew we would get a ride across the water. I remember mother would throw her full dress over her shoulder and take her shoes off and wade through, driving the oxen.

Mrs. Ingerberg and her only son, Frederick, members of our train, walked the great distance and drove their only possession, a cow. Mrs. Ingerberg was lame and slow and she and her son, as a result, were always behind. One evening, just before reaching a place to camp, the Indians surrounded the Ingerbergs and were trying to take them captives when their screams were heard. Father immediately gave orders to circle the wagons and the men were ordered to arm themselves. Mrs. Ingerberg and her son were rescued, but the Indians killed the cow and dragged it away with them. We then continued our journey unmolested.

We did not realize the sacrifices our parents made to help us reach this wonderful State of Utah. Footsore and worn out, with scarcely enough food or clothing to feed and clothe us, our dear mother was aways there with her cheerful smile and comforting disposition, encouraging us to go on. We had camp fires at night and everyone did their share in trying to cheer each other. We would dance to the music of a fiddler and sing songs and our prayers were never forgotten.

We arrived in Utah in the fall of 1860 and came directly to Payson where mother found her two brothers, Daniel and Millen Fillmore. Our first home was in a dugout on the east side of Payson, where we lived for a month until material could be secured to build a house. After we came to Utah, five more children were born to our parents: Clarissa, Alvus Huston, Martha A., Phoebe J. and Nettie May.

We girls would go to the saleratus beds between Spanish Fork and Payson and scrape the saleratus up with spoons, tin plates or anything else we could use. This we took it home to mother and she would place it in water so that the dirt would settle from the saleratus, then she would drain off the clear water and place it in bottles. This would be used in mixing bread, as they do soda at the present time. We also gleaned wheat to help provide food for the family. Our mother would then put a tarpaulin on the ground and thresh the grain herself. We then carried it to the mill which was run by Orville Simons for a number of years.

My father was called by the General Authorities to go back east to help bring emigrants to Utah. Our father got employment from our bishop, Franklin Young. Because he knew the route, in 1863 father was made captain of an immigrant train. In all he made eleven trips across those dreary plains. He was always working for the benefit of the Saints and community where ever he lived. His motto was "Ever to lay up your treasures in Heaven." He later helped haul stone to lay the foundation of the old Tabernacle and it was there he received injuries from lifting the heavy rock, from which he never fully recovered.

Father was ever a friend of the Indians. They soon became annoying. Blackhawk and his wicked band had several times driven off the horses and cattle. They finally had to place guards here and there. One day an Indian, supposedly a renegade of the tribe by the name of Jimento was found hidden in the bushes with a small Indian boy. The guard approached and asked him what he was doing and he said he was looking for his horses which were down to Patterson's. The guards brought the Indian to our place and just as they got in front of father's house the Indian jerked loose and started to run but one of the guards shot him in the leg and, although he fell, the little Indian continued his flight. He ran and told the Indians what had happened and this caused trouble with the Indians. Jimento was brought in our home and given aid. He was then taken to a vacant house and his squaw and papoose were brought here to take care of him. Everything went nicely and Jimento's leg was soon well enough so he could return to his tribe. That night, when all was quiet and they were changing guards, someone stole through the window and shot Jimento. This was quite a blow to my father as he thought the Indians would think he had broken his word. Some of the pioneers felt that if the Indian was freed he would have killed the man who first shot him.

In the spring of 1877, at the dedication of the St. George Temple, Father was called by the authorities of the church to take his family and make a new home. We responded to this call. Father disposed of his property in Payson and mother disposed of her furniture, except her stove, and began to prepare for the journey. Then Mother took typhoid fever and was very ill, but the wonderful faith and and administration of our father spared her life. Although she was not yet able to climb out and in the wagon, on the 12th day of November, 1877, they bid goodbye to the older girls and friends and with the four younger children, Alvus (13), Martha (10), Phebe (7) and Nettie (5) started on the journey. They went by the way of St. George so father and mother could do their work in the temple for the dead, which they accomplished. After they had completed their temple work, our sister, Mrs. Patten, took very sick at Payson and mother and the three girls returned to Payson while father and brother Alvus went on to Arizona to locate a home. They went with the train of emigrants and located on the Little Colorado River and started the United Order and called the town Brigham City, which was in Apache County, Arizona.

Father returned in the fall for the rest of his family and, being instructed to take implements to till the soil, seeds of all kinds, a start of chickens, and a good supply of provisions, we started on our long journey. We had one wagon with provisions and brother Alvus drove it, and father, the other one. When we camped at night, we would open the box and the chickens would get out and then go back in the box to roost, and mother would shut them up ready for the next day's travel.

After weeks of travel, we arrived at Lee's Ferry, where one had to be ferried over the Big Colorado River in order to get into Arizona. There had been a heavy storm shortly before this, so the river was a raging torrent. They could not use the large boat to take us across, so they took our wagons apart and took each part across at a time, letting the horses swim at the side of the boat. After we got safely across, the wagons were put back together, things were reloaded and we started again.

After crossing the river we had to travel over one of the most dangerous pieces of road there is in Arizona, called Lee's Backbone. You start right up a mountain where a road is chiseled out of the perpendicular rock, with only room for one wagon at a time. We had to walk clear around this, for it was not safe to ride. Looking down hundreds of feet below, we could see the Big Colorado River so far below that it looked like a small irrigation ditch.

The Lord blessed us every day so that we all kept well as we slowly traveled over desert and sand. We finally did reach our goal and were welcomed to the small town of Brigham City which father and brother had helped to locate before they came back after the rest of us.

When our sister Phoebe was old enough to be baptized, Moses Curtis baptized her in the only place we had - the Little Colorado River.

People began to get discouraged. We never knew when we lay down at night whether the Apache Indians would massacre us before morning. Our brother, Alvus, although only a young man, used to take his turn standing guard to protect the women and children from the Indians.

Father put all we had in the Order; all of our implements, and brother Alvus put in the team he drove and they were afterward sold for sheep so they could have the wool for yarn. A fort was built to protect us from the Indians. There was a large kitchen and mother's large stove was put there to cook on. One man was chosen to look after the baking of bread, which was mostly made of corn meal. One lady and three girls at a time would go in the kitchen to cook. When our meals were ready, there was a large metal triangle in the center of the fort which was rung. At this signal, the poeple all gathered in the dining room for their meals. They were all called to order and the blessing was asked; then we all partook of our food. Father and mother took an active part in everything in the ward, and we were one united family.

In the spring the ground was prepared to put in crops. After weeks of hard labor the crops were in and in due time they came up. Just about time for the havesting it commenced to rain and a flood came down the river and swept away the entire crop the men had worked to hard to save, but they kept working and never became discouraged. Food was beginning to get low and well do I remember how all of us looked forward to Sunday dinner when we could have wheat bread and pudding made out of cracked corn. When the croops failed, people began to pull out of the Order, but father and mother stayed until there was nothing left for them to draw out.

Father picked up two wheels at Brigham City, went across the river to another small place called Sunset and got two more wheels and then made a wagon box. He took willows for bows and mother took her bed tick for a wagon cover - and they prepared to once more start out to find a home - having lost all they had in the United Order. Father had a cap and ball pistol he had when he was marshal of Payson - so he took it up the river twelve miles where there was a gentile who had a small store. Here father purchased a box of food and gave the pistol as security.

We then started up the river to find a home where a living could be made for the family. We traveled up the river until we came to a Mexican town called Sanwam (San Juan??). Our first home was about three miles from town. Our father tooks posts and covered them with sagebrush, and this was where we lived for a short time. However, we had just started to put in crops when Apostle Wilford Woodruff asked father to move into the heart of the Mexican town and try to convert these people. Father was always ready to do what those in authority over him told him to do, so the next day he rented a small room in the center of the Mexican town and we moved there. We were the first Mormon family to live in that Mexican town. The room was so small that mother had to put her stove outside, and it always attracted a great deal of attention. Since these people never had seen a stove before, they would gather around to watch mother cook and she always gave them something. Food was high and we had to pay $9.00 for fifty pounds of flour. They were a wild class of people, so father took a great chance when he moved us up there. They were a peculiar class of people who would pick up anything you had, take it home and never think they were stealing. Here we were in a strange place, surrounded by Mexicans, and we had no food, no money except what Father could make. Only those who have passed through the hardships of settling a new country will ever know the trials father and mother and their family went through trying so hard to obey the call and make a home out of a desert country. We went through hardships one has to to in order to settle a new country, but with not one word of complaint.

The river water was so bad that a well was dug; but, that water was so vbitter they had to fill it back up and go back to using the river water for culinary use. Crops were put in and a dam built in the river in order to get water for irrigation, but floods would often wash out the dam and then the crops would burn up. The settlers never knew whether or not their crops would be successful.

It was a wild country. Cowboys would sometimes ride through the town shouting, drive their horses into the saloon and shoot all the bottles off the shelves. One day a cowboy caught a Mexican and cut his ear off, sent him home and told him that this was their "ear mark." The trouble began with the Mexicans watching for those cowboys to come in to town so they could get revenge. The Mexican people were great for bullfights. They built a large pen in the center of town where they would run in a herd of wild bulls preparing for the big celebration which would last for days. When those cowboys came riding in to town the second day the Mexicans were waiting for them. The Mexicans chased them into a new house that was being built, where one of the cowboys was killed and antoher shot through the arm. Bullets were whizzing through the air from both sides, and when an old gentleman, Brother Timmy, went to try and make peace, he was shot down, dying instantly. Father then went and told the cowboys they must surrender before more lives were lost. They agreed to do this if the sheriff would promise to let the Mormon men guard over them night and day. During this time, the Mormon women would gather three or four families together for fear the Mexcians would make a raid on them while their husbands stood guard. When the trial was held and the cowboys were cleared, everything was all right again.

The president of the church called more people to come out and settle, and so when they began to come in, father used his homestead rights and took up 160 acres surrounding the Mexican town. He later gave it to the church for a townsite, and it later became the town of St. John's. A public square was liad out and a sagebrush bowery was built for us to hold services and amusements in. We went through all the hardships one has to in order to help settle a new country. We worked and lived to see St. John's become the county seat of Apache County and helped to erect a meetinghouse where the sagebrush bowery once stood and to see comfortable homes built and to live in a home of our own.

After years of service, father and mother were honorably released from their Arizona mission and it was a happy day for us when we returned to our family in Payson, Utah. Father started right in with my brother to make another home. It was a humble home, but, oh, how dear it was to us all.

My father possessed a remarkable power of healing and he spent most of the years of his life in this wonderful work. After we had been in Payson for awhile, mother took pneumonia and the doctor gave her up, but we held on to her and through administration she was made well. When the doctor came the next morning, expecting she had died, she put out her hand and shook hands with him. The doctor said to our brother, "It is your father's wonderful faith."

In the year of 1889 father made a trip up to Salt Lake City. Sister Eliza R. Snow was living in the Lion House and she took very sick. Someone came for father to administer to Sister Snow and he was so blessed with the spirit of the Lord, which gave him a healing power, that she was healed. She raised up and said, "Brother Patterson, you must go forth and bless the people." Angus Cannon and Joseph E. Taylor, president and counselor o f the Salt Lake Stake, set father apart as he was now to go from the northern part of Idaho to the southern part of Utah to administer to the sick and afflicted where ever he was called.

In November of 1897, our mother took ill and continued to grow worse until Christmas morning. She passed to her reward surrounded by her husband, eight daughters and one son. We mourned the loss of this wonderful mother.

In 1899 father was stricken with rheumatism and was confined to his bed for one year and even then the sick and afflicted would come to him to be administered to. On November 21st, just 23 months after mother's death, he passed away surrounded by his family that loved him so much. The funeral, which was held in Taylor's Undertaking Parlor, was turned into a testimonial in his honor. Many brothers and sisters got up and told of his wonderful work and how they had been healed through him. Interment was in the Payson Cemetery.


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