Early Pioneer Life in Manti

as lived and told by the children of Frederick Walter Cox

Edited by Carl Cox, June 2007
  1. Prologue
  2. Getting There
  3. Fort Manti
  4. Mission
  5. Pioneer Skills
  6. The Big House
  7. Epilogue


In April 1863, Father left his home and family to fill a mission in England. He was gone 27 months, leaving his large family to get along as best they could. I think we all depended on William to take the lead in the care and work of the farm. He was the oldest unmarried man in the family. He was capable of the trust, but, oh, what trouble came! It seemed we had more trouble in those 27 months than in many years before. Aunt Emeline's little Luella was born in August, but soon took sick and died. Her poor mother had to lay her in her grave while the father, who never saw her, was 3,000 miles away. Fred buried his little Ludy. Aunt Jemima had to part with her 7 year old Carmelia. Edwin was accidentally shot in the back. Arletta had her fingers chopped off. Two of the girls were terribly burned, but they did recover. No wonder we were glad to welcome dear Father home 3 October 1865. No one knows what he can stand or what he can do until he tries. The boys never let the flour bin get empty. The potato bin was filled in its season. Though we often had to chop our own wood, it was there.

What happiness we knew the day Father came home! One of the boys went to Salt Lake City to meet him. Father had fitted up at Florence, Nebraska, for his third trip across the plains by ox team, bringing several people with him. He came on home with the team of horses.

This account of meeting their father seems to have been written by a different daughter.

Today we are so excited we can hardly contain ourselves. We have had our chores done for hours, have sung every song we know, and played every game we can think of, as well as some we've made up. It is Adelaide's turn to go to the round window at the North end of the top room to see if there is a whirl wind of dust moving along the road beyond Temple Hill. It is agreed that the first one to see Father coming, will be the first to greet him. Yesterday we timed ourselves to see how long it would take to run to Temple Hill.

Our mothers have suggested that we use our energy to better advantage on the spinning wheels, but we are so excited that we would only make mistakes, and we have to take them out, and do it over again. They allowed us to do as we wished, but I wonder that they have kept their wits about them.

Six year old Amanda was the first to see the tell-tale cloud of dust and we all ran, mothers and all, to meet him wherever we came together.

Father stopped the team and jumped down from the buggy. Suddenly we were all overcome with shyness, and someone had to push Amanda toward him.

He picked her us saying, "My how you've grown, Alvira."

"I'm not Alvira, I'm Amanda," she answered.

To Lucia he said, "This must be Harriett."

Giggling she answered, "No, I'm Lucia."

"You have all grown so fast, I can only guess who you are. You must each tell me your name in exchange for a kiss and a hug.

As Sarah Eleanor came up to her father, she remarked in wonderment, "I thought you would be as big as the woodpile. You're not as big as the woodpile, are you?" Everyone laughed and she withdrew embarrassed.

For the rest of the day work stopped, even for Will.

We all ate supper together, and Father talked into the evening about his missionary experiences, and of our family that stayed in the East. Then he brought his flute out that the Saints in England had given him, and he played while we sang. It was the most glorious day of our lives.

The best part of it is that Father will still be here tomorrow.

Sources: Frederick Walter Cox, Sr., by John Clifton Moffitt.
Sarah Eleanor Cox Peacock, written by Wilbur and Helen Peacock.

These are the girls of F W cox, with their ages and mothers, at the time he returned from his mission.

Lavina,       19, Cordelia
Rosalia,       19, Emeline
Adelaide,     17, Jemima
Therissa Emerett,  16, Cordelia
Sarah Ann,     14, Cordelia
Emily Amelia     13, Emeline
Esther Phelena,   12, Jemima
Elvira ,        10, Jemima
Harriet ,     10, Emeline
Calista,         8, Cordelia
Sarah Eleanor,     6, Jemima
Amanda,     6, Lydia
Lucia ,         5, Emeline
Arletta,       4, Cordelia
Alice,           3, Jemima

At the time of the Black Hawk War, Father and 4 grown sons participated in those troublesome times. They stood guard, went into the mountains in pursuit of the Indians, and tried to defend our homes and recover the stolen cattle from the beginning and until peace was established. Four long years the old drum beat, calling the men together to listen to new deeds of bloodshed and thieving and to plan campaigns against them. They parted from loved ones, going to points of danger until the name of Indian became hateful, and the sound of the drum was like a stab in the heart. It was long years before we got over the terror of those sounds. Not only father and brothers were engaged in fighting this Black Hawk War to a finish, but also the 6 young men who were coming regularly to the Big House to visit the girls.

These are the boys in the F W Cox family about the time of the Black Hawk War, with their ages and mothers.

Fred (married)   29, Emeline
Will Arthur,       25, Emeline
Edwin Marion,   17, Emeline
Byron,             16, Jemima
Francis Morley,   12, Cordelia
Vet (Sylvester),     8, Emeline
Charles Adelbert,   8, Lydia

Pioneer Skills