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


Father was often away from home. About in 1862, Old Topaddie came to the Big House and told Father of some wagons near Green River, which had been left by Johnston's Army. The Indian sat on the floor and mapped out the entire route, describing and locating the mountain, river, and valley, and how far they would have to travel without water. This so interested Father that he determined to trust the Indian and follow him.

Father persuaded Archie Buchanan to go with him. They took teams, bedding, provisions, and trusted their lives to the Indian. Father had always been a friend to the Indians. Many are the cattle, sacks of flour, potatoes, and other food he gave them, as well as housing and feeding them. No matter how often they came, they never went away empty handed. In spite of all the family's fears, he trusted Topaddie. We were all very much frightened as the time for their return came and went, and they did not come. We realized how an Indian might be tempted, be a traitor, and destroy them. But this time the red man proved to be a trusted friend, indeed, and though they were gone longer than they had expected, they returned safely. Their provisions had given out, and the old Indian hunted continually. Game was scarce, and only a rabbit could be seen once in a while. The Indian gave the white men the best of what he found. He roasted rabbit, skin and all, and gave the meat to Father and Archie. The part he knew they would refuse as unclean, he ate himself. It was hard to realize the value of all father brought home. Several of the wagons were re-made, and there was iron and lead to last years in that land 1000 miles from where it could be purchased, even if you had the money to do so, which we did not. The wagons were an essential to our working men.

The Indians came to Father with so many of their troubles. Even after he was gone, an Indian came from far out in Dixie country to see him, and seemed so disappointed when told that Father had been killed in an accident.

The food eaten by the family was mostly raised on the farm, and our clothing was provided from the work done by our mothers until we were large enough to work and earn them for ourselves. I asked mother if father ever bought me a dress, and she answered, "not that I know of". Nor can I remember getting one from him. Of course, he bought sheep, and provided the wool to be made into clothes for our comfort. But of "store clothing" we had none, only those earned by our own efforts. Cotton yarn for the "linsey" goods was finally brought here, but it was so high it took almost a fortune to get the few things we could not get along without.

Father made trips to Salt Lake, where he could buy the necessities. Usually he went at Conference time and took some of the women so they could have an outing once in a while. I remember Father paid 90 cents to $1.00 a yard for factory cloth, 30 cents for a spool of thread, 25 cents for a box of matches. Wheat, oats, and flour were usually just as high. I have sold a knotted scarf for a bushel of wheat, then sold the wheat for a $5 felt hat for Francis, the first "store" hat he ever had.

Father planned the Big House with one large, light room for a school for the children. It was large enough to keep two teachers busy. Rosalie taught the smaller pupils first, then when she had experience, she taught the higher classes. Ellen Van Buren was an assistant in winter, and taught night and day. There was night school for older boys and girls. Some married people, too, who had not been able to get sufficient schooling attended the evening classes.

W.K. Barton taught singing school there also. Uncle Orville had a dancing school there, also, which we children enjoyed, although we were only spectators. It was a picnic to watch those who took part. Uncle Orville was a good dancer, and with dancing pumps on his feet, he was like a rubber ball, so light and nimble was he.

How did our patient mothers endure all the racket and bustle? It went on continually year round, though in a different way during the school season. We held public dances in that room. It was the nicest room in town to dance in.

In the spring, school was cut short, for the boys and girls had to work on the farms. There was the ground to plough and grain to plant. We did not have alfalfa in those days, just a little wild hay, so the oxen were turned out to feed during the night. Sometimes it took long hours of hunting in the mornings to find them. Besides the horses and cattle, there was a good sized flock of sheep. These were cared for summer and winter at home. They were never driven to the mountains or desert, as they are in these days. Each night the sheep were corralled. There was range enough in the valley for them. Edwin, Byron, and Francis, each in their turn, had to herd them during the day and bring them home at night. In the spring, when there were lambs, the girls would cut potatoes in small pieces and scatter them in the troughs so they might eat and thrive. We also fed milk to the orphaned lambs. Along in April the herd was driven to the Warm Spring, where a large spout was erected which would raise the water high enough to have quite a waterfall. Each sheep was held while the water washed out the dirt. Then they were turned loose to dry. When shearing time came, the wool was much cleaner. The sheep were brought home, and each mother had her portion of wool weighed out to her according to her number of children.

In the Big House there were 3 looms used by the mothers until the girls were older, when each, in her turn, learned to weave. At times there were 8 spinning wheels arranged side by side, facing the windows along the street. First we picked the wool, taking out bits of dirt and straw. Then it was sorted. The finest and best was put in one pile, the next best in another pile, and so on--usually making 3 or 4 grades. The finest grade was to be used in making fine flannel for dresses, then for linsey sheets, underwear, and so on. The next grade was for jeans or heavy cloth for trousers for men and boys. The last lot was carded by hand for quilt batting. The first 3 lots were sent to the carding machine and made into rolls. Then how we made the wheels spin! Our reels would take at least 2 yards of yarn to go around them once. We put 40 fimes or threads into one knot, 10 knots in one skein of yarn, making 160 yards in each skein. In weaving, 14 knots were usually put into one yard of cloth. It required more if very fine, and less if course. Then it would take just as much for the warp. We would spin from 4 to 6 skeins in a day. We had to be very careful in spinning warp, or it would break in the weaving, which made that work so trying and tedious. We ran races to see who could spin the most in a day, or in a given time. Rosalia wove 10 yards of linsey in one day. She was sick the next day as a result. Then Lovina spun 10 skeins in one day. Eight skeins was the largest day's spinning I ever did. The rest kept close to us. We sang every song we could think of while working. We set words to music. We sang whole stories in verse.

Aunt Emeline remembered the "Ritter Bann" and taught it to us. We used to sing all the verses.

The Ritter Bann
by Thomas Campbell, born 1777
in The Complete Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell
D Appleton & Company
72 8th Ave, NY

The Ritter Bann from Hungary Came back renown'd in arms,
But scorning jousts of chivalry, And love and ladies' charms.

While other knights held revels, he Was wrapp'd in thoughts of gloom,
And in Vienna's hostelrie Slow paced his lonely room.

There entered one whose face he knew, Whose voice, he was aware,
He oft at mass had listen'd to, In the holy house of prayer.

'T was the Abbott of St. Jame's monks, A fresh and fair old man:
His reverend air arrested even The gloomy Ritter Bann.

But seeing with him an ancient dame Come clad in Scotch attire,
The Ritter's color went and came And loud he spoke in ire.

"Ha! nurse of her that was my bane, Name not her name to me;
I wish it blotted from my brain: Art poor?- take alms, and flee."

"Sir Knight," the abbott interposed, "This case your ear demands;"
And the crone cried, with a cross enclosed In both her trembling hands:-

"Remember, each his sentence waits; And he that shall rebut
Sweet Mercy's suit, on him the gates Of mercy shall be shut.

"You wedded, undispenced by the Church, Your cousin Jane in spring;
In autumn, when you went to search For churchmen's pardoning,

"Her house denounced your marriage- band, Betroth'd her to De Grey,
And the ring you put upon her hand Was wrenched by force away.

"Then wept your Jane upon my neck, Crying, 'Help me, nurse, to flee
To my Howel Bann's Glamorgan hills;' But word arrived - ah me! -

"You were not there; and 'twas their threat, By foul means or by fair,
To-morrow morning was to set The seal on her despair.

"I had a son, a sea-boy, in A ship at Hartland Bay;
By his aid from her cruel kin I bore my bird away.

"To Scotland from the Devon's Green myrtle shores we fled;
And the Hand that sent the ravens To Elijah, gave us bread.

"She wrote you by my son, but he From England sent us word
You had gone into some far countrie, In grief and gloom he heard.

"For they that wronged you, to elude Your wrath, defamed my child;
And you - ay, blush, sir, as you should - Believed, and were beguiled.

"To die but at your feet, she vowed To roam the world; and we
Would both have sped and begged our bread But so it might not be.

"For when the snow-storm beat our roof, She bore a boy, Sir Bann,
She grew as fair your likeness proof As child e'er grew like man.

"'Twas smiling on that babe one morn While heath bloomed on the moor,
Her bearty struck young Lord Kinghorn As he hunted past our door.

"She shunned him, but he raved of Jane, And roused his mother's pride:
Who came to us in high disdain,- 'And where's the face,' she cried,

"'Has witched my boy to wish for one So wretched for his wife?-
Dost love thy husband? Know, my son has sworn to seek his life.'

"Her anger sore dismayed us, For our mite was wearing scant,
And, unless that dame would aid us, There was none to aid our want.

"So I told her, weeping bitterly, What all our woes had been;
And, though she was a stern ladie, the tears stood in her een.

"And she housed us both, when, cheerfully, My child to her had sworn,
That even if made a widow, she Would never wed Kinghorn."--

Here paused the nurse, and then began The abbot, standing by:--
"Three months ago a wounded man To our abbey came to die.

"He heard me long, with ghastly eyes And hand obdurate clenched,
Speak of the worm that never dies, and the fire that is not quenched.

"At last by what this scroll attests He left atonement brief,
For years of anguish to the breasts His guilt had wrung with grief.

"'There lived,' he said, 'a fair young dame Beneath my mother's roof;
I loved her, but against my flame Her purity was proof.

"'I feigned repentance, friendship pure; That mood she did not check,
But let her husband's miniature Be copied from her neck,

"'As means to search him; my deceit Took care to him was borne
Nought but this picture's counterfeit, and Jane's reported scorn.

"'The trechery took: she waited mild; My slave came back and lied
Whate'er I wished; she clasped her child, And swooned, and all but died.

"'I felt her tears for years and years Quench not my flame, but stir;
The very hate I bore her mate Increased my love for her.

"'Fame told us of his glory, while Joy flushed the face of Jane:
And while she blessed his name, her smile Struck fire into my brain.

"'No fears could damp; I reached the camp, Sought out its champion;
And if my broad-sword failed at last, 'Twas long and well laid on.

"'This wound's my meed, my name's Kinghorn, My foe's the Ritter Bann.'--
The wafer to his lips was borne, And we shrived the dying man.

"He died not till you went to fight The Turks at Warradein;
But I see may tale has changed you pale."- The abbot went for wine;

And brought a little page who poured It out and knelt and smiled;
The stunned knight saw himself restored To childhood in his child;

And stooped and caught him to his breast, Laughed loud and wept anon,
And with a shower of kisses pressed The darling little one.

"And where went Jane?" - "To a nunnery, sir- Look not again so pale-
Kinghorn's old dame grew harsh to her." "And has she ta'en the veil?"

"Sit down, sir," said the priest, "I bar Rash words?" - They sat all three,
And the boy played with the knight's broad star, As he kept him on his knee.

"Think ere you ask her dwelling-place," The abbot further said;
"Time draws a veil o'er beauty's face More deep than cloister's shade.

"Grief may have made her what you can Scarce love perhaps for life."
"Hush, abbot," cried the Ritter Bann, "Or tell me where's my wife."

The priest undid two doors that hid The inn's adjacent room,
And there a lovely woman stood, tears bathed her beauty's bloom.

One moment may with bliss repay Unnumbered hours of pain;
Such was the throb and mutual sob Of the knight embracing Jane.

Ritter (rider) is German for Knight.
Meed is a merited reward.
Shrive is to hear confession, and after penance give absolution.

In sickness or sorrow, how comforting it was to feel Father's dear hand laid carressingly or in blessing upon one's head. You could not help but feel his good spirit and know that you were better. There was always something about him to inspire one to better thoughts and better deeds. He seemed to be able to read one's countenance like an open book, and unless their lives were clean, few there were who came to face him. Of a dignified and commanding presence, one could not fail to note that he was a leader among men. With his clean conscience, he was always able to look any man in the eye and speak his mind. His advice and counsel was sought in all the affairs of life. The poor and down-trodden looked to him for comfort. Even the savage Indian found in him a true and lasting friend and counselor. After hours of patient conversation with those treacherous savages, the miracle was that they never left in anger, for his talk to them was so forceful and the right so plainly pointed out, that they were usually quite willing to do as he said. He read with so clear an eye, understood cause and effect so well, that his word was almost like that of a prophet. His sublime faith, his unfaltering integrity in all walks of life made him a worthy husband, a noble father, and an all around man to be loved, honored, and respected by everyone. His name went far and near as a man of God.

With a family of 6 wives, God alone knows from his earnest and fervent prayers how hard he tried to be a just and loving husband, and that his life with all its joys and cares, its responsibilities and burdens, might be equitably distributed. The home life of his wives and children was comfortable and happy, and being guided by his direction and care, they were successful enough to be spoken of as an exemplary family. Of course, one who stops to think, will realize that the credit cannot be all his, be he ever so perfect. His noble women carried their full share of responsibility, with its attendant honors.

April 14, 1879, the corner stones of the Manti Temple were laid. John Taylor officiated for the southeast, Edward Hunter the southwest, Frederick Walter Cox the northwest, and Horace Eldredge the northeast. "We pray God the Eternal Father that His spirit may rest down upon all who shall assist in erecting this temple to His name. Amen." The temple opened for ordinance work 29 May 1888. Francis Morley Cox, son of Frederick Walter and Cordelia Calista Morley performed the first baptism in the temple.