History of Charles Whiting

Written by Mae Cardon, daughter

Charles Whiting was born in Manti, Sanpete County, Utah on December 16, 1852. He was the third child of Edwin and his third wife, Mary Elizabeth Cox, in a family of nine children. Although the mother of Charles, Mary Cox Whiting was a school teacher who taught in the small settlements in Utah where they lived, Charles had to help on the farm and did not get much education.

He advanced as far as what was called in those days, The Third Reader. However, Charles loved to read and was self-educated. His own children loved to hear him read in the evenings by the fireplace such books as Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe and Horatio Alger's Ragged Dick series, among many others.

His father, Edwin, and his first three wives crossed the plains after being driven from their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1849. They stopped at Mount Pisgah for a time where Edwin's father and mother, Elisha and Sally Hulet Whiting died. Then Edwin and his family moved on to the Salt Lake valley, tired and weary from their long trek. Brigham Young sent them on to the Sanpete Valley, now Manti, and there Charles was born. His father married two other women while at Manti, making a total of five wives.

Edwin, who was a horticulturist, found that Manti was too cold for his business, so he moved his families back to Hobble Creek Canyon (now Springville) where the climate was milder and there Charles grew up. He met and married Verona Snow who also was born in Manti on March 27 1859. They were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on January 24 1876. Verona was a bride of only three weeks when Charles was called, along with about three hundred other men, to go to Arizona and settle along the Little Colorado River in northern Arizona. These men tried farming, but when they drew irrigation water onto the land it turned to alkali. So Charles, along with J.J. Adams tried raising cattle, but the country was infested with horse thieves and outlaws of the worst kind who stole their stock and made life miserable for them. By this time the Church Authorities had organized the United Order, one camp being called Brigham City near the site of Winslow, Arizona. Not far from Brigham City was another called Sunset, which was presided over by Lot Smith.

While living in the Order, Charles, with other men, was called by the authorities of the Church to take a plural wife. This was necessary because there were more women than men who needed protection in the wild, lawless country. So with the consent of his wife, Verona, Charles was married and sealed to Amy Irene Porter in the St. George Temple on December 1, 1880. She bore him two children. Soon after this the Order broke up and Charles, with his two wives, moved to a little settlement called Wilford in Navajo County, near Snowflake, Arizona. There two more children were born.

In the mid 1880's they were advised by the leaders of the Church, to take their wives and move to Mexico where they would be safe under the Mexican flag, as they believed that it was not unlawful for a man to have more than one wife in Mexico. After they moved into the state of Chihuahua early in 1885, another son, Francis Marion was born to Charles and Verona on May 8, 1885. He was the first child born in Colonia Diaz, and had a wagon box for a bed. Just a little later a town-site was chosen and Colonia Diaz was established and named for Porfirio Diaz, who was President of Mexico at that time. Charles was sustained as the first Presiding Elder of the little Branch or camp.

In 1886, Bishop William Derby Johnson, Jr. was made the first Bishop with Martin P. Mortensen and Joseph H. James as his first two Counselors. Later Charles Whiting and Peter K. Lemmon filled these positions and served until July 11, 1911, when Bishop Johnson was released and Ernest Romney was made Bishop.

The summer of 1886, Charles and Verona went back to the White Mountains of Arizona to get some of their belongings and some of their stock, which they had left. Amy stayed with friends while they were gone. When they returned to Mexico in the fall they were accompanied by Joseph S. Cardon and family.

When the Whitings reached Taylor, Arizona where Joseph Cardon and the rest of the company were waiting, they were alarmed to find that word had come from the United States officials at Fort Apache that the fierce Indian Chief Geronimo had broken loose from the Fort with a band of his braves, swearing to kill every white man that they could find. People were advised to stay at home and not run the risk of traveling until Geronimo could be captured and subdued again. Their journey was halted for only a few days, however, for when they conferred with the officials at Fort Apache, they were told that if they had quite a number in their party they might be safe because there were soldiers from the Fort trying to hunt down and capture the renegade chief and his band. So they took the risk and started out.

They passed Fort Apache unharmed and went on to the Black River Crossing, intending to camp there that night. But while Brother Cardon was watering his horses on the bank of the river, he saw Geronimo on the opposite side . As Geronimo saw Brother Cardon he grunted, turned his horse and rode up the bank among the trees. Joseph then went to Charles and told him what he had seen so they decided that it would be better for them to go on up the dug-way, after crossing the river and camp on the top of the mountain. They said nothing to the women for fear of exciting them, and the party proceeded. The evening meal had been prepared and before eating they all knelt around the fire in prayer, which was their habit. But now, of course, they realized that they needed the protection of their Heavenly Father in their dangerous situation. While the prayer was being said, a little Indian dog ran into their camp and another one could be seen a short distance off. The horses became excited and they knew the Indians were near.

After prayer the men took their guns and crawled in the brush out of camp to investigate. It was a bright moonlit night and they could see Geronimo with his braves huddled together in the little clearing in the trees as if in consultation. The men crept back to their camp and stood guard all night. The women put the children to bed in the wagons and went to bed also but they could not sleep. The men stayed up all night and stood guard with their guns ready, prepared to defend themselves in the case of an attack. But morning came and they were not molested. Being such a bright moonlit night they could see the Indians as they rode up over the hills in the distance, their silhouettes plainly drawn against the sky.

The next morning they met soldiers from the fort, who told them that at Black River Crossing where they had earlier planned to camp, a boy and a man had been murdered, scalped and their wagons burned. At Deer Creek, just three miles away, three sheepherders had been killed. All the way to Mexico they heard of depredations and murders both ahead of and behind them. They never knew why their lives were spared until their relatives wrote from Taylor, Arizona that a squaw came back to the Fort and told the people there that Geronimo had intended to kill their group, but when he saw them praying to the Great Spirit he was afraid to do so.

On June 13 1886, Charles second wife, Amy Irene, passed away and in September 1886, her little daughter Linnie followed her in death. Charles then felt like he would prefer to go back to Springville, Utah, because now he had only one wife, but the leaders of the Church called him to stay in Mexico to help build up that part of the country. Consequently, in 1889 he was married to Anna Eliza Jacobson. To this union were born six children.

Charles was always a faithful Latter-Day Saint. When he was driven from Mexico in 1912, he lost all he had except the teams he drove out, but he did not owe one dollar to anyone. He had always been a faithful tithe payer and served faithfully in every Church office that he was called to accept. He lived faithfully and kept the Word of Wisdom in every detail. He hated trouble with his fellowman. Not caring to be a leader, he always liked to be in the background. He was very modest, kind and patient with his children and was a man of few words. He never punished his children severely but they knew that when he corrected them or told them to do something that he meant what he said and that he expected obedience. They held him in high esteem.

For the time Charles was engaged in the cattle business because there had been an abundance of moisture and the range for cattle was especially good. He was prospering and doing well financially, but because his two oldest sons became involved with unsavory characters, cowboys and outlaws who sought refuge from the United States law south of the borders, he sold his cattle at a sacrifice and made farming as his main occupation. Colonia Diaz was so close to the border that many rough, bad men drifted in. There was also a problem of La Ascension, just five miles across the river from Colonia Diaz, where liquor of all kinds could be purchased with no restrictions as to youth. This had a bad influence on the community. Charles and Verona decided that if their oldest son, Charlie, who had always been a well behaved boy, could be led off by bad company, the rest of their sons and those of the second family of Charles were also vulnerable.

After they left Mexico, Verona went with her daughter Amy and family to St. Johns, Arizona. Charles stayed with his third wife, Eliza, close to the border. His sons, Charlie and Bernard also stayed as did Ezreal Thurber, Amy's husband, to see if they could get some of their property out of Mexico. They did manage to slip into Diaz and bring out a few articles of furniture and some of their horses and cattle.

Charles and Eliza lived in a little shack at Franklin, Arizona and one day while they were gone it caught fire and burned to the ground. All they had left were the clothes they were wearing. People were very kind and got up a collection for them. The Bishop of the ward brought Charles $100 in cash. He said all his life he had paid his tithing and fast offerings and this $100 received back from the Lord's storehouse helped him more than any gift that he had ever received, for it came when he was really in need. He moved to St. Johns the next spring and his brother Edwin and his nephew Eddie gave him employment. His mother had passed away just before they were driven out of Mexico. She owned two city lots in St. Johns and the brothers of Charles felt like she would have wanted for him to have them so they were deeded to him and lumber was available from his brother, Edwin's sawmill. Consequently two lumber houses were soon built on them, one for Verona and one for Eliza.

Charles freighted for his brother and sons. At first he sawed timber for them with his son-in-law Junius Cardon. Then later he hauled grain and other freight including lumber from his brother's sawmill in the mountains.

On his sixty-fourth birthday, December 16, 1916, the family gave him a surprise birthday party. He had remarked when the youngsters were celebrating their birthdays that he would soon be sixty-four years old and had never had a party in his life, so we surprised him. His nephew, Eddie Whiting, brought a big armchair from his store. He received other nice gifts but did not live long to enjoy them. One day about one year later, while hauling grain from Springerville to St. Johns, his horses became frightened of a dead horse lying by the side of the road. He had a team of draft horses that were high-spirited and not very well broken. The team lunged and pulled him off the load. He fell under the wagon and one wheel ran over his head, crushing his skull. He died instantly. This was on December 20, 1917. His son, Bernard was freighting with him just ahead on the road.

This was a terrible tragedy to his families who were dependent on him for support, but his love and kindness was the thing that was missed more than anything else. He had always had a hard life. Yet, he had always lived within his means. He was never rich in worldly goods but had through the years built two good brick homes for his two families and owned two farms all paid for. Then when the Revolutionists drove the colonists out of Mexico, he had to leave everything.

Never did he receive one penny for any of his property in Colonia Diaz. But he never complained. He always was a peacemaker, disliking bickering and trouble. He was also talented but very modest about it. We loved to hear him sing with his melodious voice. Although he never wanted to display any of his dramatic ability, he was amusing to listen to, especially when he would joke and tell things about the English. His wife, Verona, was English and he liked to teases her about her nationality. His talent was passed on to some of his children.

His children revere the memory of their dear father, who was a shining example of righteousness, patience, ambition and kindness.

Retyped 3/27/2011 by great granddaughter, Linda Whiting Willis