History of Edwin Whiting

(Compiled by Jennie Bird Hill, daughter of Abby Ann Whiting, daughter of Edwin and Hannah Whiting- 1919)


They arrived in Sanpete County on December 1, 1849, with almost nothing to eat, no food for their cattle, no shelter to keep them warm, and cold weather upon them. They made "dug-outs" on the south side of the hill where the Manti Temple now stands. It was a severe winter, with snow so deep the cattle could scarcely get grass and most of them died. Food had to be divided with the Indians to keep peace.

President Young had promised them provisions and help, but none came, so Edwin and Orville Cox put on snow shoes and with a little parched corn in their pockets for food, placed their bedding on a sleigh and started toward Salt Lake City for help. When they reached Nephi Canyon, they met their help, brother Dace Henry, his wife, her brother, Mr. Dodge and an Indian, snow bound. Their cattle had died and their wagons were all but covered with snow. The young wife was very sick, so Edwin gave them the sleigh to pull her to Manti. They put their quilts on their backs and walked on to Salt Lake City and reported conditions to President Young. Aid was immediately sent, but some of that company went back to Salt Lake City.

Edwin's family now numbered fourteen. They lived in a large room in the wall of the hill with their chair factory in one end. The men and boys hauled wood from the hills on the hand sleighs.

The following spring (1850), there were three girls born; Harriet Lucinda was born to Mary Elizabeth in April, Louisa Melitia was born to Elizabeth in May, and Cornelia Dolly was born to Almira in June.

For several seasons, very little was raised. It became necessary to build a fort to protect themselves from the Indians, for they felt that the white man had stolen their land. The gates of the fort were locked while the men went to the fields with their guns. From this developed the Walker War. Edwin was appointed Captain for the Militia. Twice the Indians drove his cattle off and stole whatever they could.

Edwin often told us of one big old ox that he owned. The ox would rebel whenever an Indian tried to drive him. He would turn on his captors and break their defense and come home. He hated Indians and would always lower his head and challenge them if they came near.

Edwin tried planting fruit trees, shrubs and flowers, but they could not survive the very cold winters. Their crops were poor, but they managed to exist and were a happy family in spite of their hardships.

In 1854, he was called to Ohio on a mission and was gone for two years. While he was away, the grasshoppers came and took everything they raised. They faced starvation, but miraculously, where the crops had been, a patch of pigweeds grew and they lived on them until the corn ripened in Utah County. A strange thing it was, for the Indians said those pigweeds had never grown there before, nor have they grown since. Walter Cox divided with his brother's (brother-in-law) family while Edwin was away.

Edwin, upon his return, brought many kinds of fruit trees, (some from his father's farm that he helped to plant when a boy) shrubs and flowers, and again tried to grow them, but the climate was too cold.

On the 8th of October, 1856, Edwin married Hannah Haines Brown. Abby Ann Whiting was born to this couple at Manti in 1858 and Lorenzo Snow Whiting was born at Manti in 1860.

On the 14th day of April, 1857, he married Mary Ann Washburn. Two children were born to the family while they resided at Manti. Daniel Abram was born in May, 1858 and Monroe Finch Whiting was born in November, 1862.

While he lived at Manti, Edwin was among the foremost men in religious and civic affairs of the community. He was counselor to the Stake President. He was mayor of the city from 1857 to 1861. He was a member of the legislature for two terms, and as stated before, he was Captain of the Militia in the Walker War.


After finding the climate of Manti unfavorable for raising fruit, his special work, he was advised by President Young to try out his nursery at Springville. He moved to Springville in 1861 and was able to plant and grow all kinds and varieties of fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. People used to come from neighboring communities to see his flowers.

He built a home on the lot where the Springville Second Ward Church now stands. That old two story adobe home will stand in the memory of the members of the Whiting Family as a place of many happy evenings and of fun and amusement. Aunt Mary also taught school there.

He transplanted, in different towns, many evergreens from the mountains. To obtain his evergreens, he went up the canyons and got the small trees. He would take some of the soil with each root. He would then wrap them so as to keep some of the native soil in place. These were packed securely in the wagon box. He always marked the trees so that they could be set the same way they stood in the canyon. Many of the evergreens and fruit trees were planted throughout the county. Among these was the large cedar tree that for many years stood in front of the Second Ward church. This tree was brought from the nearby canyon in 1861 and planted by Mr. Whiting, being nurtured and cared for by him. He also transplanted those around the old Court House in Provo, those at the Springville City Park, and one large evergreen that stands southwest of the Manti Temple which can be seen for miles around. He once said "I brought that in my dinner bucket and I think it was the first evergreen transplanted in Utah."

His life was typical of this great tree. A poem written by Emmay Whiting, wife of Daniel Whiting, describes his life and this tree as being similar.

Edwin had one of the largest families in Utah. Many of those stand at the head of Stake and Ward organizations in our Church. Among his descendants, we found seven bishops.

In his later life, he did temple work for his dead relatives in the St. George Temple and in the Logan Temple. He lived the principles of his religion. He was honest, charitable, and never accumulated great riches. He was thrifty and loved his wives and children and gave them the comforts of life.

He died at Mapleton, Utah on the 9th of December, 1890 at the age of eighty-one years. He was firm in his belief and testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel.

His descendants are numerous and are found in Idaho, Arizona, Mexico, California, New York, and in Utah.

Edwin's granddaughter Harriet Jensen described her grandfather this way:

Grandfather Edwin Whiting and his family were typical early residents of the canyon. Some of the first needs of the pioneers were to have land for crops and water to make them grow; also to be near where they could obtain wood for cooking and heat. Hobble Creek Canyon had plenty of trees, not only for fuel, but, also the large pines were used as logs for building houses, or to be sawed into lumber. Edwin Whiting had taken up 160 acres on Union Bench (now Mapleton) and divided it among his older boys; but as the young ones grew up, there was need for more land. By this time Joseph Kelly and others were ranching in Hobble Creek Canyon, so grandfather decided to homestead land in that vicinity. One log cabin was built on the Whiting homestead, and here they took turns staying and working the land. Brush and trees had to be cleared off the land and ditches made. For the Bench land, it meant going up the canyon where the elevation was as high as the land and making a ditch around the hillside. I remember, as a small girl, going with my uncle Fred to the site of the dam to see whether there were any breaks in it.

They had a fine range for cattle and raised hay, grain and vegetables. People were eager to locate where there was a spring. Well do I remember carrying water up the bank of the creek in a little brass kettle which had been brought across the plains. We grandchildren seemed to feel that we had a share in the old home, which was one large room made of logs, with a small window and a large fireplace in one end where grandmother used to do the cooking. She would pull some of the hot coals on the hearth -- a large flat stone in front of the fireplace -- place the bake kettle on them; then, with her tongs, put more red coals on the kettle lid. Almost every afternoon we would carry water to sprinkle in front of the house, which made the ground hard, and also kept what little grass was growing around the house, green and inviting. In the spring she would take newspapers, saved during the winter, to paper the logs. This was the first time I had ever heard of wall paper.

At first this was a summer home, then finally a school house was built and the families stayed the year around. This building had only one room, but, it served as school house, church and amusement hall. Children rode their horses to school. The Whitings had a sawmill up the canyon above the original log home. They did most of their logging in the winter, using half of a bob-sled to put one end of the log on and letting the rest of the log slide on the snow. By spring there was a good pile of logs. Edwin M. Whiting bought a steam engine and for a number of years furnished the lumber for Springville. They moved the sawmill wherever there was suitable timber. It was 16 miles up to the Whiting Ranch from town and took about five hours, with horse and wagon, to get there. There was always plenty of fish in the creek, and wild chicken and deer in the hills.

The following is a list of those who ranched in the canyon during its early settlement; Mr. Cutler followed by a Mr. Kelly, Cyrus Sanford, Myron and Milan Crandall, Al Roylance, Moroni Fuller, William Gallup, James Holley, Orson Mower, Erastus Clark, Royal Clements, Charles Johnson, and Levi Kendall. In those early days Charley Williams operated a sawmill on the creek. They took adverse possession (land not surveyed) but later congress passed a law to legalize the land so that they could get possession of their deeds. Farther up the canyon was the Packard Ranch. Alpheus Curtis, Wallace Johnson and Edward Snow also lived there. The Adams family now live on the original Whiting Ranch.

A marker, up Hobble Creek Canyon reads: "In memory of Edwin Whiting, pioneer, born September 9, 1809. Died December 8, 1890. Home-steaded this ranch in 1871. Erected August 17, 1935 by his family."