Thomas Grover — The Westward Movement of the Mormons and the Settlement of Utah

by Julie Cannon Markham, 2 great-granddaughter

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Nativity in Whitehall, New York, 1807

Thomas Grover was born with a destiny. Six generations from Puritan emigrants and the grandson and great-grandson of Revolutionary War veterans, Thomas Grover was an instrumental figure in the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The farm in upstate New York which Thomas’s father settled bordered the southern tip of Lake Champlain. It was the location of the northernmost British fort during the French and Indian War in the mid 1700s. The town, a known Tory base, was captured by American patriots in 1775 and was the site of the first Revolutionary War action in New York. Due to a natural harbor on the lake known at that time as Skenesborough Harbor, the location became a logical place to build ships. Workmen, including carpenters and military personnel, relocated here, and at this point in time the town became known as Whitehall. It was from this harbor that Benedict Arnold formed a sixteen-vessel naval fleet and the area became a center of shipbuilding. Thomas Grover’s grandfather and namesake reportedly swam across Lake Champlain during some kind of military activity at this time. This grandfather also took part in Daniel Shay’s rebellion after the Revolutionary War, joining a group of veterans who used guerilla warfare tactics to halt what they considered to be unjust legal proceedings against retired soldiers who were unable to pay their taxes. With a groundswell of community support, the New York governor eventually backed down on his strict stance, pardoning Daniel Shays. After the pardon, the rebels, including Thomas’s grandfather, were able to come out of hiding.

Thomas was born in 1807 on the Whitehall farm, two years after Joseph Smith’s birth, in the midst of the industrial revolution. His father, also named Thomas, had died of pneumonia five months earlier, leaving his mother to raise him and four older siblings. His father had older children by a first wife who had died, so Thomas had extended family who assisted in his education and support. His infamous grandfather had died only a few years earlier.

Young Thomas Grover was raised in the thick of war activity with a heritage of military service. Whitehall harbor was a supply station during the War of 1812 when Thomas was five. After the war, construction began on a sixty mile canal which connected Lake Champlain to the Hudson River. As a result, when the Erie Canal was completed, those living inland had easy access to the Atlantic Ocean and many businesses were created and became profitable. At the age of twelve, Thomas began working as a cabin boy on the freight boats that moved along these busy waterways, traveling between ports in Canada and New York City. According to his son Joel, “At an early age [my father] became captain of a canal passenger & freight boat serving between White Hall & Albany N.Y.” Just a few miles from Whitehall was the site of an ironworks foundry. Thomas had an interest in this field and studied the ironworks and likely other blast furnaces during his lifetime. While Thomas Grover and his family were descendants of Puritans, we do not know that they were members of the Congregational Church, or any church, for that matter.

In 1829, at the age of twenty-two, Thomas had accumulated some savings and married Caroline Whiting, a young woman with family ties to Whitehall. Their first child, Jane, was born in 1830. Move to Western New York, 1831; membership in the LDS Church Fifty years earlier, the Iroquois ceded tracts of land in western New York to the new US Government. This land ultimately came into the hands of a land speculator who sold the tracts to the Holland Land Company. A surveyor subdivided the land into townships and lots, which were then sold to settlers. Thousands of families from eastern New York followed a natural corridor west, known as the Mohawk Trail because it led through the Mohawk River Valley. This route, from Albany to Lake Erie, is known today as the New York Thruway. New settlers would have traveled near the towns of Palmyra and Manchester, where Joseph Smith’s family lived.

With peace prevailing and access to better harbors became available, the Whitehall supply station closed. In 1831, at the age of twenty-four, Thomas Grover was among these settlers, moving  over three hundred miles east to Freedom, New York, one of the new communities. The first postmaster of Freedom was William Cowdery. His family, including his sons Warren and Oliver, had settled there previous to the Grover family’s arrival. There were several churches established in Freedom, including the Methodists and Baptists. The town also had stores, blacksmith shops and small factories. Living in Freedom put Thomas in closer proximity to Lake Erie and better shipping opportunities. At this time he became the captain of the Shamrock, a freight and passenger boat that operated on the Erie and Champlain canals. Three more daughters were born in the next three years, Emeline, Mary Elizabeth and Adeline. Thomas bought a fifty acre farm for $130 and improved on it, prospering financially.

As early as 1829, citizens in Freedom had learned of the Mormons. Proof sheets of the Book of Mormon, even before it was published, were used as teaching tools. Oliver Cowdery, who had sought out Joseph Smith and assisted in translating the Book of Mormon in Palmyra, returned to his brother Warren in Freedom, less than 90 miles away, showing him some of these sheets. Warren began preaching to his neighbors.

In October 1833, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, accompanied by Freeman Nickerson who had lived forty miles away in Westfield before his conversion to the LDS Church, served a short mission. They left Kirtland, Ohio and traveled along the shores of Lake Erie, preaching in Catteraugus County for about a week. Section 100 was received about forty miles from where Thomas was living. In this revelation the Lord told Joseph that, “I have much people in this place, in the regions round about, and an effectual door shall be opened. . . .” Joseph and Sidney preached to large congregations. Family histories indicate that Thomas Grover was taught the gospel during a visit by Joseph Smith when he was accompanied by Sidney Rigdon.

Joseph Smith actually visited this area several times in the early 1830s on his way to Canada for short proselyting missions. He was accompanied at various times by Orson Pratt, John Murdock and Parley P. Pratt. William Hyde, who lived in Freedom, recorded, “Early in the year 1834 Joseph Smith and Parley P. Pratt came to my father’s house. They preached in the neighborhood two or three times, and conversed much in private.” Joseph Smith recorded, “Sunday, March 9th [1834] We preached in a school house, and had great attention. We found a few disciples who were firm in the faith, and after meeting found many believing and could hardly get away from them, and appointed a meeting in Freedom for Monday the 10 , and stayed at Mr. Warren A. Cowdery’s, where we were blessed with a full enjoyment of temporal and spiritual blessings. . . .

Monday 10, We met our appointment, and preached to a great congregation, and at evening again preached to an overflowing house. After meeting, I proposed if any wished to obey, and would make it manifest, we would stay to administer to another meeting. A young man of the Methodist order arose and testified his faith in the fullness of the Gospel and desired to be baptized. We appointed another meeting for the next day.”

Parley P. Pratt recorded, “[Joseph Smith and I] visited Freedom, Cattaraugus County, New York, tarried over Sunday and preached several discourses, to which the people listened with great interest; we were kindly and hospitably entertained among them. . . . Soon after [thirty or forty] were all baptized and organized into a branch of the Church – called the Freedom Branch – from which nucleus the light spread and souls were gathered into the fold in all regions round.” After preaching to relatives further east, Parley returned through Freedom. “I found that a large church had been gathered during my absence. . . principally through the labors of my brother Orson.”

During this early period there were several branches in the area. Families in Freedom who joined the LDS Church included Caroline Whiting’s family, the Decker family, of which a daughter married Brigham Young, the Hubbards, and the family of Freeman Nickerson, whose daughter Thomas later married. Members of the Deuel family also joined the Church. Two of Caroline’s sisters married into that family. Many of these early Freedom families stayed together, traveling to Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and then onto the Utah Territory in the same group. In fact, on the 1850 Utah census, almost thirty percent of the residents of Farmington were from New York State.

In the fall of 1834, Warren Cowdery was called to be the presiding high priest in the Freedom branch. Records indicate that Warren baptized Thomas Grover in September, and his brother Oliver performed the confirmation. In March of 1835 Thomas Grover sold his farm for $500 and moved his wife and four daughters two hundred miles east to Kirtland, Ohio, traveling with other LDS families who were resettling in Kirtland.

Move to Kirtland 1835

Thomas’s daughter Emeline later wrote, “My mother did not like to break up her home and go but went because her husband went, for go he would.” When Thomas arrived in Kirtland, he sought out the Prophet. A granddaughter related a recounting of an event which she had heard from family. “As he knocked at the door, the Prophet opened it and putting out his hand said, ‘How do you do, Brother Grover. If ever God sent a man, he sent you. I want every dollar of money that you have got.’ Grandfather went into the house and they talked over the situation and Grandfather told him that he could let him have what money he needed. Brother Joseph then told him to look around and find a place that suited and that [when he was ready to buy property] his money [loan] would be ready [paid back] for him. In a short time the place was selected, but when the Prophet offered the money back, Grandfather said he did not need it, that he had sufficient without it to make the purchase.”

Emeline wrote that her father “was very liberal with his money and I have always thought ‘over zealous.’” She added that her mother, “was very different in many respects from my father – I can say truthfully that she was an honest – frugal, industrious woman – not so fanatical as was my father. He was so zealous in the cause of which he had espoused that he would give the last, and all he had to the ‘cause’ not knowing where he could obtain more – and this was sometimes a bone on contention between them – for she knew not how to live, and barely exist. Her family were noted for living industrious, energetic good lives.”

Kirtland was bustling with activity. Thomas served several short missions for the Church and worked on the construction of the temple which had been started two years earlier. In January of 1836, Thomas was called to serve on the Kirtland high council in the place of Luke Johnson who was called to be an apostle. Joseph Smith and Sidney Ridgon ordained him a High Priest, with Brother Rigdon, at that time in the first presidency, acting as spokesman. Son Joel later wrote that Thomas was one of a select few who attended the solemn assembly later that month,receiving his endowment. This confirms that Thomas Grover was present during a miraculous event that occurred on January 21 , 1836, and could be one of the reasons Thomas was always faithful, never wavering in the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the rest of his life, in spite of extreme hardship and difficulty and though incidents that might have caused other men to falter.

On this date, Joseph Smith recorded seeing a vision with a few of his close associates, “The heavens were opened upon us. . .I saw Fathers Adam and Abraham, and my father and mother, my brother, Alvin, that has long since slept.. . .” After describing the vision in more detail he wrote, “We then invited the High councilors of Kirtland and Zion in our room. . . the President of each quorum then anointed the heads of his colleagues, each in his turn, beginning at the oldest.

The visions of heaven were opened to them also. Some of them saw the face of the Savior, and others were ministered unto by holy angels, and the spirit of prophecy and revelation was poured out in mighty power, and loud hosannas, and glory to god in the highest, saluted the heavens, for we all communed with the heavenly host.”  The entire Grover family was privileged to attend the Kirtland Temple dedication in April.

Move to Far West, Missouri 1837

Persecution against Joseph Smith and the LDS Church became intense in 1837. Much of the antagonism came from some who had previously been members in the Church. During 1837 all of the leaders of the Church left Kirtland. Some served missions to England, and others resettled in Missouri, where many LDS had been living since 1831. Emeline wrote that their family was “soon driven from Kirtland – and in a destitute condition.” This was very hard on Caroline, “traveling by ox team with four small children hundreds of miles.” Thomas settled his family with other LDS Church members in the new community of Far West, eight hundred miles from Kirtland.

There they lived for several years, and Thomas again prospered after purchasing two hundred and twenty acres in Far West, plus a small lot in Jackson County. He set up a farm, planted an orchard and raised cows, pigs, chickens and geese. Emeline wrote that he became “wealthy as fast as could be expected of an industrious farmer – for that he was – and in his wife he had a helpmate in every deed.” A fifth daughter named after her mother was born in 1837.

The members of the Church were settling in various counties in Missouri, including Caldwell (where Far West was), Daviess, Clay and Jackson. In August, Thomas was again called to serve on the high council, joining Charles C. Rich, a man who would become his life long friend. This was a difficult time for the LDS membership in Missouri. Joseph Smith and his family had fled Kirtland in late 1837, and in March of 1838 he had acquired the means to complete his journey to Far West, where the Church headquarters was centered for a brief time among five thousand LDS who had resettled there. The saints rejoiced to have the prophet living in their midst. Records show that in early 1838, Thomas Grover and a few other high councilors were invited to a social at the home of Thomas B. Marsh. However, as the year proceeded, there were no more socials as conditions worsened. On July 8 , 1838, Joseph Smith received a revelation that directed Thomas Marsh, then the president of the Quorum of the Twelve, to oversee the printing for the Church. The rest of the Twelve were to meet at the temple site in Far West in April 1839, to depart overseas for missions.

The Missourians harassed and then brutalized the Mormons, attacking their communities and using force to prevent them from voting in an August election of 1838. This was actually followed by a “free-for-all fist fight,” which was reportedly won by the Mormons. In October of 1838, Lilburn H. Boggs, the governor of Missouri, issued the infamous extermination order against the Mormons. A few days later, a flour mill owned by Jacob Hawn and a nearby blacksmith shop along Shoal Creek in Caldwell County were attacked by a mob comprised of 240 Missourians, some quite prominent individuals. Eighteen Mormons, including a few children, were murdered.

In addition to outside attacks, some Church leaders became hesitant in their support of Joseph Smith, due in part to a national financial panic which affected commonly held Church properties. Thomas Marsh and Orson Hyde both left the Church, although Orson returned a few months later. David Patton became the new president of the Quorum of the Twelve, but he was soon murdered during a mob attack at the Battle of Crooked River. This resulted in Brigham Young becoming president of the Quorum. Brigham noted that he saw with his own eyes the Missourians packing up their own homes, setting them afire and then blaming the Mormons. In November of 1838, Joseph and Hyrum Smith were arrested and imprisoned in Liberty Jail about forty miles away.

Minutes of high council meetings during this period show that Thomas Grover was involved in the disposition of the Church-owned lands as they made plans to leave. The minutes also recorded, “Thos Grover said that he was firm in the faith and he believed the time would come when Joseph would stand before kings and speak marvelous words &c.” While these were difficult times, other high councilors also declared their support of Joseph Smith. While Joseph Smith was incarcerated, other Church leaders scouted the surrounding areas for a safe location for the refugees.

During this period, an armed mob rushed the Grover home and one man threatened to kill Thomas by cutting off his head with a large Bowie knife as his entire family watched. Thomas wrote, “I begged for him to spare my life . . . and he was softened down and did not put his threats into execution.”

In early 1839, some of the Church leaders, many being close associates of Thomas Grover, were excommunicated for apostasy, although several repented and returned to full fellowship.

During the brutal winter months of 1839, in the midst of deep trials and heavy persecution, thousands of saints were forced from Missouri after their pleas for protection were ignored by the US Government. Thomas wrote, “They destroyed and laid waste my corn fields and would frequently come to my house[,] would give me and my family abusive language and would take what victuals they wanted and searched my house for arms at various times. I had frequently to hide from the mob. . . and the weather being very cold, and being continually harassed by my enemies I was taken sick and suffered considerable. . . . This was in the winter. I and my family suffered every thing but death itself, my children were all sick for several months and our sufferings were extreme. In this manner I was abused and after purchasing lands and improving the same and spending a considerable sum of money in building &c &c I was driven from my home and was obliged to find a shelter out of the state of Missouri.”

In later years Emeline recorded that she well remembered hearing her parents discussing the local conditions, the threats against leaders of the Church, including her father, and her mother’s health, as a sixth baby was due. “I remember, in the dead of the night, hearing my father say these words to my mother, ‘Tomorrow I shall have to go – there are only three days left for me to get out of the State – You must take your choice – pack up and go with me in the morning – or I will go – leave you here for the present – until you are able to travel and then I come or send for you.’”

The urgency of leaving was driven because Thomas’s prominence in the Church in Far West made him a continued target. Emeline wrote that her mother chose to take her girls and go with Thomas. Once the decision was made, they got Jane and Emeline out of bed, who had been listening, and sent them to their nearest neighbors to ask for help. The neighbors came, helped packed the wagon, cooked food for their journey, and yoked up the cattle. Before they were out of sight, their cattle and property were confiscated by the Missourians. Later in a resolution sent to the State of Missouri by Church leaders, Thomas listed claims totaling over a thousand dollars which he lost at this time.

Emeline added that in the midst of this harsh trial, her father began singing. Her mother joined in, and she said that they were both “splendid singers.” Thomas drove the ox team east. Emeline’s words tell this next event very well. “We traveled steadily day and night, on as long as the team could stand it to travel by being well fed and cared for. When nearing the edge of the State – after about three days journey – and just in sight of Palmyra [Missouri] my mother was taken sick with labor pains. My father (man like) thought if she could just postpone matters until he could get into Palmyra where he could call a physician.

“But, she was not to be put off – he finally called at a nice farm house that we were passing and asked for the hire of a room for the night as his wife was sick and he wished to stop in a house for the night – he was refused and directed to the town just on ahead – he returned to the wagon and found my mother in tears – without saying a word he went back to the house – told the lady of the house that he must have a room and that in haste. After an explanation of the circumstances attending the case she readily consented.” Emeline then described the woman’s actions. She had several slaves whom she put to work getting a room ready for Caroline. She sent a young girl to find the midwife.

“All went well with my mother – she met with friends even among strangers. In due time her sixth daughter was born. We stopped three days – and in the meantime our friends administered comfort in every conceivable way – by nursing and caring for my mother and her family, – cooking and washing, and helping mother to many comforts to last her on her journey. When my father called for his bill as we were about ready to start, he was very much surprised when the lady of the house told him that the only charge she would make was the privilege of naming the baby – which was granted to her (and the Book of Mormon – which he left with her). She named her Eliza Ann.”

Many Church leaders had relocated one hundred and seventy-five miles east of Far West to Quincy, Illinois, where that community compassionately aided the Mormons. However, the command of the Lord that the Twelve depart for their overseas missions on the 26 of April from Far West rested heavy upon Brigham Young. Showing great faith, he led many of the Twelve out of Quincy, traveling back to Far West, where they found a few missing apostles along the way. They met at midnight the night of the 25 , and as the minutes rolled into the next day, they held a quorum meeting in the center of town, which was completely deserted. They laid a foundation stone for the temple and departed. They successfully showed their obedience to the Lord’s commandment and the early hour thwarted the mobs, led by former LDS members, who knew of the published revelation.

Move to Nauvoo 1839

After Eliza’s birth, the Grover family crossed the Mississippi into Quincy, Illinois, about fifty miles south of a small, swampy town known as Commerce. Thomas was able to rent a farm in Quincy and there the family spent the summer. Son Joel wrote, “While here [Father] was sent on a short preaching mission and in about 6 months went with the Prophet Joseph out to Nauvoo Ill.”

In the fall of 1839 Thomas moved his family to Commerce, which in a short time became Nauvoo. His wife Caroline’s family were in Nauvoo during this period, and Caroline’s younger sister Adeline soon married Lorenzo Roundy, whose family had been in the Church for several years. Upon arriving in Nauvoo, Thomas again rented a farm, however the conditions in Nauvoo were very difficult. Caroline was carrying her seventh child in 1840 when she contracted what was likely malaria. She suffered for several weeks before giving birth prematurely to another daughter. A week later Caroline died, and three days later the baby, named Emma, died.

Caroline’s mother, Mercy, died the next month. Emeline wrote, “My father labored diligently to maintain his large family, struggling with poverty, sickness and death. Nauvoo was located in a malarial district – and the Saints died off by hundreds on account of pressure of their former exposure in traveling, in mid-winter with scarcity of food and clothing.”

When Thomas’s relatives in New York learned of the death of Caroline and the baby, they sent Thomas a letter begging him to send the six children to them to care for. Thomas, feeling overwhelmed, made the decision to accept their offer. When he informed Joseph Smith, Joseph said, “You are not to do anything of the kind. I want you to stay here and take care of my family while I am away.” Thomas changed his plans, and his children later recalled seeing their father often load his wagon with provisions for Emma Smith and her family.

Eliza was only a toddler when her mother and baby sister died. She later recalled that her father was a very close friend of Joseph Smith and wrote that Joseph and his wife Emma were very kind to their family. Eliza told her children that Joseph used to hold her in his arms and let her ride with him on his horse, Duncan. The Smith family must have become accustomed to receiving goods and food from the Grover family. Emeline recalled a specific incident where she was taking a bucket of peas she had just picked to the store to trade for some cloth with which to make an apron. On the way she crossed paths with Joseph Smith, Sr., father of the prophet. Upon seeing her, he assumed the peas were for his family, so he graciously took them and thanked Emeline. She was crestfallen, but another bucket of peas bought the desire fabric.

Thomas eventually bought three quarters of an acre just south of the temple site. On this land he built a large frame home. Persecution remained heavy during these Nauvoo years, and a militia was organized to defend the area from mobs. In early1841, when the Nauvoo Legion was organized with Joseph Smith as lieutenant general, Thomas Grover was chosen as an aide-decamp on the general’s staff. At this time, he was also named by revelation to serve on the Nauvoo high council along with his good friend, Charles C. Rich. He also spent time working on the construction of the temple which was begun that year.

At this time, more than a year after the death of his wife, Thomas found a new mother for his family in the person of Caroline Nickerson Hubbard, a young widow with three children. Her husband had marched in Zion’s camp with her father and brothers and had been a bodyguard to Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith’s brother William performed the marriage ceremony. Emeline said things went well for a time, but nine children were just too many to have in one house. Her words were, “we were too thick to stir.” There is also an indication in Emeline’s writings that there was tension between the new step-mother and Thomas’s daughters. Many local residents were willing to hire young girls for household help, so she, her older sister Jane and Caroline’s older daughters hired out during the week, living with other residents. One of the women who employed Emeline was Sarah Pea Rich, the wife of her father’s friend Charles. The girls were home on the weekends and Emeline wrote how much they loved the younger children in the family and the sweet feelings they had when they were together.

Just after Christmas in 1841, Thomas became the father of another daughter, Percia. The next month Thomas was named as one of Joseph Smith’s bodyguards. In the summer of 1842, Joseph Smith was accused of orchestrating a failed murder plot against Lilburn H. Boggs. Even though there was no evidence to support this, Joseph H. Reynolds, the sheriff of Jackson County, Missouri, and Harmon T. Wilson, the constable from nearby Carthage, Illinois, were sent to apprehend Joseph Smith, who was visiting his wife’s family in Lee County, Illinois, about one hundred and seventy miles from Nauvoo. Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Wilson did not have legal papers to accomplish their design, so they kidnapped Joseph at gunpoint. Stephen Markham, also a bodyguard of Joseph Smith, rushed the men in attempt to stop them, but they threatened to kill Joseph if Stephen did not back away, which at the request of Joseph Smith, Stephen did. As they forced Joseph into a wagon, beating him with the handles of their guns, Brother Markham grabbed the harness of the horses and stopped the wagon long enough for Emma to bring Joseph a coat so he could maintain the appearance of a prophet and less that of a prisoner.

Joseph was held at a tavern eight miles away. By this time, citizens were aiding the Mormons in an attempt to free Joseph, bringing in legal counsel and insisting that Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Wilson show their warrants authorizing the seizure of Joseph Smith. The local constable attempted to take Reynolds and Wilson into custody, and during this event, Brother Markham was able to slide a pistol into Joseph Smith’s coat pocket. Over the next few days, Reynolds and Wilson moved the Prophet to several locations. In each place the citizens rallied, either demanding that Joseph be treated according to Illinois law, or to let him preach.

During this time William Clayton traveled forty-five miles to the Mississippi River where he boarded a steamship to Nauvoo. Upon his arrival there, Hyrum Smith was informed of the danger to his brother. Several hundred men from Nauvoo volunteered to ride to Lee County to assist in freeing Joseph Smith. Charles Rich and Thomas Grover were two of these men, and when the Mormon militia neared Mr. Reynolds and Mr. Wilson, the situation seemed to immediately reverse. Instead of being bound in a wagon, Joseph took charge of the situation from the back of his horse, Duncan, where he insisted that Reynolds and Wilson be served papers and stand before a judge. The local sheriff refused to let Wilson and Reynolds return to Missouri, but he also wanted Joseph Smith to remain in Lee County. He insisted all spend the night under his jurisdiction. At this point, Thomas Grover remained by Joseph Smith’s side, even sharing a room with him. Brother Markham overheard Wilson and Reynolds plotting to get a message to allies across the river who could kidnap Joseph in the night. When Brother Markham informed the sheriff, he posted guards so no one could enter or leave. After fully assessing the situation, the sheriff disarmed Wilson and Reynolds and ordered them to Nauvoo where they could stand trial.

Upon arriving in Nauvoo, Joseph was greeted with a brass band. While Mr. Wilson and Mr. Reynolds awaited their upcoming trial, Joseph seated them at the head of his table and fed them dinner with his family. During his lifetime the Prophet gave his personal sword to Thomas as a gift to show his appreciation for his faithful service and sacrifices on his behalf. Thomas considered Joseph Smith to be a close, personal friend.

Thomas’s first son, Leonard, named after his own brother, was born in August of 1843, but the baby only lived two days.

Right about this time Hyrum Smith met with the high council members in Nauvoo. Joseph, the prophet, was home ill. Rumor of polygamy were spreading, and the high council members asked Hyrum to clarify the situation. Hyrum Smith read the revelation about polygamy to the high council. This caused an uneven division. Three did not accept this and shortly fell away. The others present remained faithful until their deaths.

Thomas believed this doctrine was a commandment from the Lord, although he did not immediately act on it. Many years later Thomas sent a letter to Brigham Young in which he shared a sacred experience he had that had persuaded him to accept polygamy. “Prest. Brigham Young, Dear Brother: There was something took place when I was commanded by Bro. Joseph to take more wives which I thought it was wisdom to communicate to you. At the time I was in the deepest trouble that I had ever been in in my life. I went before the Lord in prayer and prayed that I might die as I did not wish to disobey his order to me. On a sudden there stood before me my oldest wife that I have now and the voice of the Lord said that ‘This is your companion for time and all Eternity.’ At this time I never had seen her and did not know that there was such a person on this Earth. Days & weeks passed away & I had not seen her. About the time that you came from your mission to the East, she came to my house for an item of counsel, the first time that I ever saw her with my natural eyes. . . .Yours Respectfully in the Gospel, Thomas Grover.”

In late 1843 Thomas was called to serve a mission in Canada. Although he was ill at the time of the call, he accepted. He made preparations to leave, but chose to secretly visit Joseph who was in hiding before his departure. His wife Caroline accompanied him. Thomas had not recovered fully, and he trembled when he stood to shake hands with the prophet. Joseph said, “Brother Grover, you are very feeble but God will bless you and you shall be blessed and strengthened from this very hour.” Thomas traveled with Joseph Robinson, a convert of two years. They visited branches, strengthened the weak, and taught and bore testimony. Shortly after this mission, Thomas served a mission to New York.

In June of 1844, while serving a mission near Kalamazoo, Michigan, he was warned in a dream to return at once to Nauvoo. His granddaughter wrote, “He hesitated about the matter until the warning was repeated three times, when [at that point] he awakened his companion, Brother Wilson, (likely Dunbar Wilson, who served with Thomas on the high council) and they got up and made it a matter of prayer and were told to go at once to Nauvoo. They did so, taking the shortest route possible. They arrived at Carthage just after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum and hurrying forward overtook the company and accompanied them to Nauvoo where Grandfather was requested to assist in the preparation of the bodies of the martyred Prophet and Patriarch for burial.”

Thomas’s daughter Mary Elizabeth, who was eleven at this time, remembered, “That evening the Prophet and Hyrum were brought home from Carthage, after they had been martyred: I will never forget. Everybody stood along the street holding their hands and bowed their heads in solemn reverence as the bodies were escorted through the street. Everyone’s heart was so filled with sorrow, it seemed as if the world would come to an end. My father Thomas Grover helped wash and prepare them for burial. Their caskets were set on chairs side by side in the hall of the Prophet’s home.” Emma asked Thomas to cut a lock of hair from Joseph’s head, which she shared with him.

William Carbine was a young boy of nine at this time. He wrote, “ I well remember the excitement at that time. The people hardly knew what to do. The Prophet was gone and Sidney Rigdon wanted a guardian put in for the Church. Brother Thomas Grover, one of the high council, spoke and told the people not to be in a hurry: the Twelve would be home soon and they would tell the people what to do . When Brigham Young came home he held a meeting at which time, the mantle of Joseph fell on him. It was a manifestation to let the people know who was to lead the Church. His looks and ways were like the Prophet. I, as a boy, was quite well acquainted with the Prophet. I was sitting with my mother in the meeting and I thought it was the Prophet and told my mother so.”

Another daughter was born to Thomas and Caroline a few months after the martyrdom. About this time, Thomas’s wife wrote about the principle of plural marriage. She said that her husband “believed and accepted that law, ” although his belief came after much prayer.

Thomas Grover takes a plural wife

In 1843 Silas Tupper and his wife Hannah joined the Church and moved to Nauvoo, bringing with them their twenty year old daughter Hannah, a school teacher, and her fifteen year old sister Loduska. Upon their arrival in Nauvoo, Hannah was given the name of Thomas Grover as someone who might be able to provide her assistance in getting a teaching position. When Thomas met Hannah Tupper, he recognized her as the woman the Lord had shown him in his dream the previous year. He later wrote of this, saying, “I gave the required counsel and she came again. In process of time we talked of marriage. My instructions were to her to make it a matter of prayer to see whether the results would be correct or not. She came again and told me that it seemed to be the mind of the Lord that she should come into my family.” They married in December of 1844, the marriage being one of the first plural marriage ceremonies performed by Brigham Young. Thomas also married twenty-four year old Betsy Foote. The following summer Betsy gave birth to a son, whom she named Joseph. By the end of the year Hannah had also given birth to a son, whom she named Thomas. Years later this son wrote his memoirs of his father, a resource used throughout this biography.

After the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, Brigham Young and the Quorum of the Twelve knew they would have to leave Nauvoo, but they hoped to postpone this departure until they were fully prepared. While still in Illinois, they studied maps, read the journals of fur trappers, and spoke to mountain men who had been in the west. The journals of John C. Fremont were studied, as he had traveled extensively in the area known as the Great Basin. He mentioned losing a brass object end from his telescope on an island in the Great Salt Lake, from where he had spotted what is now known as Farmington Canyon and sketched its outline and stream on his 1843 map. Areas in Canada and Texas were considered but not thought to be large enough to handle the anticipated number of Mormons. Within a year of the martyrdom, Brigham Young recorded in his journal that it seemed feasible to move forward to the Great Basin. From all the reports it seemed a place where “a good living will require hard labor,” but that it would “be coveted by no other people.” He planned to send an advance group of 1,500 pioneers to the valley, but mobs attacking members of the Church in the outlying areas surrounding Nauvoo during the fall of 1845 forced Brigham Young to focus on the safety of the Church members. Illinois governor Thomas Ford felt that public opinion was against the Mormons, and while sympathetic, he said he could do nothing to help. Governor Ford and Brigham Young agreed that the Mormons would leave Illinois in the spring of 1846, as soon as the streams thawed and the grass was sufficient on the plains to support their cattle.

In the meantime, life was difficult. Thomas’s sister-in-law, Adeline Whiting Roundy, gave birth to a baby boy, her second, but she died two weeks later. The child lived for another year. Two other sisters-in-law, Eliza Whiting Deuel and Adeline Whiting Deuel, were in Nauvoo and were likely helpful with Thomas’s daughters, their nieces through their deceased sister Caroline, Thomas’s first wife.

In addition to making the preparations necessary to move all the saints from Nauvoo, the temple was completed. Endowments were received by the faithful during a ten week period from November 29 , 1845 to February 7 , 1846. In December 1845, Thomas and his wives Caroline and Hannah received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple and Thomas was sealed to both women. With the recent death of one of his daughters, Thomas, age thirty-eight, had nine living children at the end of 1845, the oldest being fifteen, plus Caroline Nickerson’s three children from her previous marriage.

In January 1846, Betsy received her endowment and Thomas married Loduska Tupper in the Nauvoo Temple. Loduska was the eighteen year old sister of Hannah. Their father had recently died in Nauvoo, leaving their mother a widow. At this time Thomas was also sealed by proxy to his deceased wife, Caroline Whiting. During this period, Betsey left Nauvoo with her baby to visit her family in Ohio before she went west. Through her own choice or the constraints of her family, Betsey and the baby never returned. Emeline wrote that her half-brother Joseph “was lost to us – although we have heard that he grew to manhood.”

In early February, in planning their departure from Nauvoo, the Rich family became concerned about Emeline. They held a council and decided that Charles should ask her to marry him.

Emeline wrote that after her father gave his consent, she mounted a horse behind thirty-six year old Charles Rich and rode to the temple where Heber C. Kimball performed the ceremony. While this can be surprising to read, studies of these polygamous families have demonstrated that the older wives often looked out for the younger women. A new wife was brought into the family and lived and worked alongside the others, gradually feeling comfortable and loved. A favorite quote of mine comes from a plural wife in a Burton polygamous family. She had counseled her husband when he married a younger woman in order to provide her a home, saying, “Let her grow up a little first.” Sometimes years would pass before the young wife entered into an actual marriage relationship with her husband. As it turned out, Emeline spent the first year in the Salt Lake Valley in her father’s home, having her first child when she was eighteen, almost four years after she married Charles Rich. Another critical factor was that these saints knew they were leaving Nauvoo and their temple. With the uncertainty of the future, they took steps to show their faith and take advantage of the blessings of the temple while they could.

At the time of her marriage, Emeline was given her patriarchal blessing, in which she was told that she would have a large family and become a noted nurse and woman physician in the hands of the Lord in saving, restoring and bringing into the world many souls. Quoting a biographer of Charles C. Rich, “Emeline Grover-Rich was once asked by her son, ‘Mother, did you girls love father?’ Her answer was, ‘We learned to love him.” Another wife said that when she married Mr. Rich, she did not yet love him, but “respected and admired him tremendously.”

After a difficult winter with aggressive actions against the saints and threats against Brigham Young, the decision to leave Nauvoo was made on February 2 , 1846. Many Church leaders and their families were the first to leave the city, their departure signaling to the rest that there would be no wavering. Brigham Young sent his family ahead, but he remained behind with others, such as Charles Rich, working in the temple day and night one last week to provide ordinances for the faithful before they began their journey.

Emeline wrote, “We [were] stopped about eight years in Nauvoo when we were again driven from our homes which we had made comfortable – just beginning to enjoy the fruits of our labor. Our family were considerably scattered by this time through necessity – but the inborn love and affection for our parent and our dear little orphaned sisters were still burning in our bosoms – like an unquenchable fire, as the love we have for our dear mother seemed to be centered on our father – who was very loving and kind to his motherless children. He was truly a handsome man – called by most people the handsomest man in Nauvoo. I always looked upon my father with admiration.”

Leaving Nauvoo 1846

The Grover family left Nauvoo during the first week of the evacuation, on February 8 . Hannah and Loduska’s mother, sixty-year-old Hannah Ladd Tupper, went back to her home in New Hampshire. Thomas promised when he had made a home for her daughters in the West he would return for her.

Thomas, with three teams of oxen and wagons, took all that he could, leaving the rest of his possessions behind. The river had not yet completely frozen over, so a flat boat was used to transport the oxen and wagons part of the way. A frightened oxen began stomping and broke some planks off the boat.

The ox jumped overboard and was lost, as were three other oxen. The boat went down. A wagon carrying twenty-two people, including several Grover family members, broke loose and floated down the river with only the wagon cover above the water, where it finally hit an ice floe. The front end of the wagon was pitched down into the water until it stood almost on end. Genealogy records, books and other valuables went to the bottom of the river and were lost. As the ice cold water filled the wagon, seven year old Eliza Ann began climbing towards the upper part of the wagon. She knew her infant brother Thomas was bundled in bedding to keep warm. As the water filled the wagon, Eliza grabbed the baby by his gown and climbed above the water line, holding the baby out of the water.

After years of working on the Champlain and Erie canals, Thomas was an expert swimmer. He reached the wagon in literally freezing water, used his knife to cut the canvas cover off and told the twenty-two people in the boat, “If you don’t move an inch, not a hair of your heads will be harmed.” Four year old Percia, Caroline’s oldest daughter, cried out, “Lord, save my little heart!”

The passengers and the wagon were saved, and once on shore, they wrapped themselves in blankets and dried their clothes over a fire, but they were waylaid several days in reorganizing.

Thomas Grover

Thomas was able to procure the needed animals to begin his journey again, with he and Charles C. Rich leading a group of ten teams of wagons. They made it to the first stop along the Iowa route just seven miles from Nauvoo which had been named Sugar Creek. This way station was called “Camp of Israel” and likely Thomas and his family spent several weeks there.

Brigham Young left Nauvoo on February 15, crossing the Mississippi River and joining his family at Sugar Creek. His brother Joseph Young was left in charge of Nauvoo. On February 24 , the temperature dropped to twelve degrees below zero, completely freezing the river and eliminating the difficulty of crossing by flatboat. By May 15 , more than ten thousand had fled Nauvoo.

The second way station was called Richardson’s Point, about thirty miles further along the trail into Iowa. The weather, cold and wet, hindered traveling. Brigham Young wrote that two hundred teams were scattered along the prairies in the rain because of the thick mud. Even doubling and tripling the teams had little effect on stalled wagons.

Sarah Pea Rich stated that once they left the Chariton River camp site, eighty miles west of Nauvoo, they were past the point of any civilization and were making their own roads. The Locust Creek camp site was twenty miles past Chariton River and many of the saints arrived there by April. It was at this time that William Clayton, learning that his wife had given birth to a healthy boy, composed the words to the hymn Come, Come Ye Saints.

Charles Rich stated that he and many other men sought work as they passed through Iowa. Some made shingles for farmers while others cleared land. In return they were paid in food and other commodities which helped support their families as they trudged along. Family members slept in tents or under the sky, as the wagons were filled with their possessions and supplies. They spread branches on the frozen ground, although as spring came they laid leaves down. Emeline wrote that she had a rag carpet upon which she could lie. There were no roads; they made their own.

Emeline later told her children that before she became hardened to the difficult traveling, she easily became tired and discouraged. One evening as they made their camp for the night, every muscle in her body ached, her throat was dry and sore, and she could not keep back the tears. She tried to pray but had trouble speaking. At that moment she heard a kind and loving voice outside her wagon. “Did you get too tired today, my girl? Were the oxen hard to handle? How are your feet with so much walking? I pray to God that the journey will not be too difficult for you and that you will sleep well tonight.” It was the voice of her husband Charles C. Rich. His kindness helped her feel more courageous.

The Grover family traveled about one hundred and fifty miles in the snow, cold and mud for three months. Sometimes they traveled only a half mile on a given day, but sometimes seventeen. In a few places the mud was so heavy that their wagons had to be completely unloaded. In May they reached an Iowa settlement Parley P. Pratt named Mt. Pisgah after the hill in Deuteronomy where Moses viewed the promised land. Parley’s brother Orson wrote that the poverty of the people forced the leaders to select an intermediate site for a winter campground, as many simply did not have the resources to go further that year. Homes were built, crops were planted and thousands of acres were eventually turned into gardens and farms which the Mormon refugees passed through for the next five years, literally reaping what others had sowed in their behalf.

After arriving in Mt. Pisgah, Caroline Nickerson Hubbard Grover, miserable during another pregnancy, made the decision to return to Nauvoo with her children. She was very discouraged, having buried three children in Nauvoo, one from her first marriage and two from her marriage to Thomas. She later referred to her extreme suffering at this particular time. Thomas divided his teams and provisions, giving her half of all he possessed. He hired a man to take her back to Nauvoo. Her parents were still in Nauvoo and made room for her and her four living children.

This proved to be a final separation. Thomas and Caroline officially divorced in 1850. In late September 1847, one day after the birth of her son Marshall Hubbard Nickerson Grover, Caroline, her parents and her children left Nauvoo when mobs forced the remaining LDS out of the city. Her family made it to a camp in Iowa called the Chariton River Crossing, eighty miles from Nauvoo. Early the next year, Caroline’s father died there. Caroline later became a plural wife of Andrew Jackson Stewart, a faithful man who had lived in Nauvoo. He had one wife and married three more after Caroline.

Thomas Grover, his two wives Hannah and Loduska, the children from his deceased wife Caroline, and Hannah’s baby Thomas continued traveling until they reached Council Bluffs, arriving in late July 1846. Twenty-three year old Hannah became the mother of Thomas’s five daughters still “at home,” even though she was only seven years older than Jane. Throughout the rest of her life she was always affectionately called “Aunt Hannah” by these daughters.

There were many Mormon camps within a five mile area spanning the Missouri River surrounding what is now the border of Iowa and Nebraska. The “east bank” camps were near present day Council Bluffs, at the time considered to be Indian Territory on the lands of the Pottawattamie Indians, outside the borders of the United States. Trading posts in the area had been established fifty years earlier after the explorers Lewis and Clark met there with native American tribes in 1804. Council Bluffs was renamed Kanesville after the Mormons’ friend, Colonel Thomas L. Kane. He had acted as advocate in behalf of the members of the Church to Governor Ford and President Polk. The Kanesville camps were ultimately overtaken by modern Omaha. The “west bank” camps were across the river.

Initially, Thomas was asked by Brigham Young to serve on the Council Bluffs high council. However, just two weeks later, Brigham Young asked Thomas to move a few miles away, across the Missouri River into what is now Florence, Nebraska, so Thomas could serve in the high council there. These western camps acquired the moniker, “Winter Quarters.” The Council Bluffs/Winter Quarters camps were one hundred miles further west of Mt. Pisgah, almost three hundred miles from Nauvoo. The settlers immediately began working to build homes for the oncoming winter. Isaac Haight, who had arrived in Winter Quarters in September, wrote, “[We] began to build houses and provide habitations for the winter. It is nothing but labor and toil all the day long.” Thomas became the camp butcher, purchasing cattle and hogs from the Iowa farmers and often slaughtering “one of two beeves every day besides many hogs” for the benefit of the saints. He also traveled to Missouri, buying fresh pork, which he sold for enough cornmeal to last his family through the winter. About six thousand LDS refugees made their home in Winter Quarters that year. They were divided into twenty-two wards, each with a bishop presiding.

Charles C. Rich was asked by Brigham Young to stay in Mt. Pisgah through the winter to shepherd the saints there. He built log cabins for his families and remained until the next spring. He organized the men in making barrels, tubs, churns and baskets that could be sold in the neighboring markets. He also sought financial help from the nearby communities, raising over seven hundred dollars in charity from the non-LDS neighbors which supported the poor Mormon refugees through the winter. Eliza R. Snow, a resident in Mt. Pisgah through that winter, recalled that candles were placed in hollowed out turnips and used for lighting on the walls of a large cabin they built for a social hall where dances and entertainment events were held.

In the summer of 1846 Captain James Allen of the US Military arrived in Mt. Pisgah to seek out the Church leaders there, probably Charles Rich. Captain Allen asked for five hundred volunteers to march to California to fight in the Mexican-American War. Captain Allen was directed further west to Winter Quarters in order to meet with Brigham Young. Having been alerted by an advance warning from Mt. Pisgah, Thomas Grover met the captain and his associates and informed Brigham Young of their arrival. Brigham Young’s agreement to this plan brought much needed cash to the impoverished saints. Isaac Haight wrote, “It caused me curious feelings to see our brethren go on to serve a country that has driven us or suffered us to be driven from our homes and have to live in exile in our tents and wagons.” Later this example was used as evidence that the Mormons were not anti-government.

Most of the Church leaders settled in Winter Quarters for the upcoming winter. By Christmas the travelers had built a stockade, seven hundred cabins and about one hundred fifty dugouts. Leaders spent the winter making detailed plans to move these people another eleven hundred miles east to the Salt Lake Valley. Thousands of other refugees stationed themselves in the Church run camps or on farms where many stayed for several years before moving on to the Salt Lake Valley.

Joining Brigham Young’s Vanguard Company to the Salt Lake Valley 1847

In the spring of 1847 Brigham Young’s company gathered at the Church’s outfitting station on the Elkhorn River, twenty-one miles west of Winter Quarters. Thomas Grover had been selected to travel with this vanguard company, leaving his wives and children behind with a two year supply of food. He did not know when he would see them again partly because where they were going was not known for certain. Brigham Young chose the men he wanted to accompany him, and some were sick when their names were read. He promised these men they could stay in Winter Quarters and die or accompany him and get well. Those who accompanied him were healed. Also in this first company with Thomas Grover, who was a captain of ten, were Stephen Markham, a captain of hundred, Porter Rockwell, Orson Pratt, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Heber C. Kimball, William Clayton, Albert Smith (a cousin to Joseph Smith), Amasa Lyman, Solomon Chamberlain and James Wesley Stewart, who later married Thomas’s oldest daughter Jane.

On April 12 , the Quorum of the Twelve left the Elkhorn camp and went back to Winter Quarters after learning that Apostle John Taylor had returned from his mission to England. In addition to scientific equipment, he had brought a substantial sum of money from the British saints. Stephen Markham, Thomas Grover and Henry Sherwood (who was sixty-two at the time of this journey) were placed in charge of the group until the apostles returned about the 16th

A total of 142 men were in this company when it departed on the 17 . There were also three women. One was the eighteen year old wife of Brigham Young, Clarissa Decker. Her divorced mother Harriet had married Brigham Young’s brother Lorenzo, and she was also in this company. Harriet had two young boys who accompanied them. The third woman was the wife of Heber C. Kimball. Interestingly, there were three slaves or former slaves in this first company. Two were brothers who built homes for their owners after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, before their masters crossed the plains. Both brothers had their freedom and one joined the LDS Church.

The third, Green Flake, was still enslaved. He had been baptized when the Flake family joined the Church in North Carolina in 1844. James M. Flake sent a wagon and a team of mules with Brigham Young’s company, and Green accompanied the mules. Nineteen year old Green was the driver of the carriage in which Brigham Young was riding when he entered the Salt Lake Valley.

Upon arriving in Salt Lake City, Green built a home for the Flake family, who arrived later. Green, who was freed in 1854, became a life-long friend of Brigham Young and later helped dig his grave. Green was also an honored guest at the jubilee pioneer celebration in 1897. In addition to being diverse, the members of first company were ingenious. William Clayton, Orson Pratt and Appleton Harman devised an odometer which fixed to a wagon wheel hub. This allowed them to measure the distance they traveled each day and proved to be invaluable to the companies who followed. Apostle Orson Pratt, a self-educated scientist and an accomplished mathematician, used the astronomical and other scientific instruments brought from Europe by John Taylor. Orson determined and recorded the latitude and longitude of prominent places along their route, kept journals of geological formations and mineral resources, and kept data on plants, animals and weather conditions. Messages from President Young were written to the succeeding companies. These letters were posted in boxes on twelve-foot poles about every twelve miles. The first box was labeled, “Platte Post Office.”

While still in Winter Quarters, Thomas’s family members prepared for their summer journey to the Salt Lake Valley. In early June of 1847, almost two months after Thomas had left with Brigham Young’s company, twenty-five year old Hannah went into labor with her second child. The spring of 1847 was very wet with a lot of rain. Emeline said she well remembered that night. “The rain poured down in torrents, I was kneeling on her bed all night trying to keep her bed dry.”

She would occasionally take some of the bed coverings and wring them out, and she tried to divert the water into channels on the wagon covering where the rain filled basins. After a successful delivery, Hannah gave the baby her own name.

Thomas Grover is mentioned in many of the journals of the men who traveled with him. In just one example, on May 8 , Amasa Lyman wrote, “Sun rose clear, no wind, weather quite warm; road over level ground but rough from the multitude of trails running across our track from the bluffs to the river made by the buffalo. . . . Halted about noon to rest; the whole bottom has the appearance of an old fed out pasture, only the dung is almost as thick as is usually in a barnyard. . . . The herds of buffalo this forenoon have been countless, almost, extending . . . from the river to the bluffs in such numbers that the ground on the opposite side appears black, and width on both sides about 4 miles, length about 8 [miles]. . . In front of us the line of buffalo reaching from the river to the bluffs looked like a solid dark wall. . . . O. P. Rockwell killed a cow. While nooning (sic – grazing) Smoot’s 2 horses went out to see the buffalo . . . and commenced running with them, and Grover and J. Brown had quite a race, on their horses, to head them and get them back.”

By early June 1847, Brigham Young’s company had traveled over five hundred miles before they arrived at Fort Laramie. Appleton Harmon described the fort with these words, “We were kindly & genteelly received by Mr. Bordeaux, the manager of the Fort. He invited us to a room upstairs which looked very much like a bar room of an eastern hotel. It was ornamented with several drawings, portraits, a long desk, a settee, and some chairs. It was neat and comfortable. . . .

Professor Pratt took the latitude at the fort and found it to be 42 de 12 m & 13 seconds. . . Mr. Bordeaux . . . said there were 38 men employed by the American Fur Company to manage the fort. Twenty of them were now absent on business for the company. We obtained a flat boat of Mr. Bordeaux’s to ferry our teams across the North fork for which we had to pay $15. . . We could see snow with the naked eye on Laramie Peak. . . upwards of 50 miles distant.” Spring travel had required that they ford many streams and rivers, and several members of the company had recorded Thomas Grover’s skill in handling these crossings. While at Fort Laramie, they met a mountaineer who told them that the Platte River crossing, still over a hundred miles further, was unusually high. This man built a boat from buffalo skins and had hidden it near the river. He told them its location and gave them permission to use it to cross the Platte. President Young sent an advance party to locate and secure this boat. The remainder of the company arrived at the Platte on the 12 of June. They found the advance party already “employed ferrying Oregon immigrants in the leather boat, floating over empty wagons by means of ropes.”

However, the water was so swift that the wagons rolled over several times while in transit. The men had already received over one thousand pounds of flour in payment in addition to other goods and cash.

President Young called a council meeting to plan how to cross the river which was one hundred feet wide and fifteen feet deep – too treacherous to ford. Several different approaches were attempted. Rafts were built, but these were too small to pole across the river. The wind caught one raft and carried it two miles down the river before it reached the opposite shore. President Young devised a ferry by lashing four empty wagons together. Members of the company built it, planning to test it in the morning. That night Thomas Grover told his bunkmate Stephen Markham that he didn’t think the ferry would stay afloat. Another man overheard this conversation and reported it to President Young, who called Brother Grover to account about it in the morning. Thomas told President Young he had forgotten more about water than Brigham Young had ever learned, and that the new ferry simply would not work. President Young finished rigging his ferry and started it across the river. Heber C. Kimball put his hand on Brother Grover’s shoulder and said, “Brother Thomas, it runs nice.” Brother Grover replied, “Yes, but when it strikes the current it will go under.” Those words had barely been spoken when the ferry sank. President Young said, “Brother Grover, my plan has failed. What is yours?”

With the permission of President Young, Thomas took two mule teams and six men to a grove of timber where they unexpectedly found themselves surrounded by rattlesnakes. They spent three hours killing the snakes before they could begin to cut the trees. By the end of the day they had  returned to the river with two large logs. Many of the men, including President Young, joined together and worked all night in hewing out these logs after the fashion of dugout canoes, lashing them together. By the next morning they had a vessel which they named Twins of the Black Hills.

Appleton Harmon described the ferry. “It works well. It is built of 2 dugouts 23 feet long & 54 ties across, they being placed 6 feet apart & run plank lengthwise.” Oregon emigrants were anxious to cross the river, and when the raft was finished, Thomas told them to bring their heaviest wagon. President Young suggested they try the first crossing with a lighter wagon, but Thomas disagreed. The emigrants rolled a prairie schooner loaded with 6000 pounds onto the raft and it crossed without incident. Later when Brigham Young’s company reached the Green River in Wyoming, they built a ferry after the fashion of Thomas Grover’s ferry, and the river was crossed with ease.

The entire camp spent the several days ferrying emigrant wagon trains across the river. These other travelers were willing to pay a dollar or two per wagon, sometimes in cash and sometimes the equivalent in goods. Many men took turns ferrying other wagons across the river. Heber C. Kimball recorded that Stephen Markham was skilled at bargaining with the Oregon immigrants to get the best price. By the 19 of June, they had ferried seventy-eight wagons for LDS travelers and sixty-four belonging to Oregon emigrants. They also ferried across numerous animals, including horses, cattle and dogs.

Appointed to remain at the Platte River

Realizing the increase in cash and valuable supplies that could be made, President Young appointed Thomas Grover as superintendent of the ferry and assigned him and several other men, including a blacksmith, to remain there until the spring thaw subsided and the river could be forded. Appleton Harmon, Luke Johnson and Edmund Ellsworth were three of the men who stayed at the ferry. Brigham Young wrote a charter for the men who stayed behind, which included the words, “Brethren, as you are about to stop at this place for a little season, for the purpose of passing emigrants over the river and assisting the Saints, we have thought fit to appoint Thomas Grover, Superintendent of the Ferry, and of your company. If you approve, we want you to agree that you will follow his counsel implicitly and without gainsaying and we desire that you should be agreed in all your operations, acting in concert, keeping together continually and not scattering to hunt. . . . We promise you that the superintendent of the ferry shall never lack wisdom or knowledge to devise and counsel you in righteousness and for your best good, if you will always be agreed and in all humility, watch and pray without ceasing. . . . Let a strict account be kept of every man’s labor, also of all wagons and teams ferried and of all receipts and expenditures allowing each man according to his labor and justice, and if anyone feels aggrieved let him not murmur, but be patient until you come up and let the council decide. The way not to be aggrieved is for every man to love his brother as himself.” They were further instructed that when the river flow subsided, they were to continue their journey across the plains with the trains carrying their families, who were believed to be not far behind.

The ten men scouted around for the best spot to operate a ferry and then placed a sign along the pioneer trail which read, “To the Ferry, 28 miles. Good & safe. Manned by experienced men. Black smithing, horse and ox shoeing; also a wheel wright. Thomas Grover.” Their camp was across the river in a grove of cottonwoods where the feed was good for their animals. The grove provided enough wood to operate the blacksmith shop, although they also found a source of coal, which they purchased. Appleton Harmon kept track of the wagons they ferried, and on some days they ferried sixty or seventy wagons, often receiving twenty dollars in cash payments in addition to bartered animals. Some days the blacksmith made more than the ferry men by repairing axles and wagon wheels. One of the men was occasionally paid for performing minor medical and dental procedures. The cash and goods were taken onto the Salt Lake Valley. In addition to operating the ferry, the men killed bison and dried the meat in preparation for their own trek across the plains later that summer. Appleton’s journal is very interesting. The men rotated jobs, including the black smithing. One of the Oregon immigrants was a Quaker shipping a nursery of 700 fruit trees, and they ferried him across.

Edmund Ellsworth wrote, “All expected their families would arrive in a few days when we were to follow the pioneers. It was thought by so doing we could get of the migrants flour and bacon that would help the mission on its return. We were kept busy ferrying for about two weeks expecting every day to hear that our families were near at hand.”

On June 29 , Thomas Grover wrote a letter to Brigham Young and sent it with Apostle Amasa Lyman, who had left Brigham Young’s company in early June on an assignment to travel to Pueblo, Colorado and check on the Mormon Battalion members. As he returned to catch up with Brigham Young’s party, Thomas ferried him across the Platte River and quickly wrote a letter giving their conditions. “We are all well at present but are rather lonesome since you left us.” He gave a brief summary of their activities, folded the sheet of paper three times and sent it on with Apostle Lyman.

On July 3 , Jim Bridger, traveling from the west, arrived at the ferry with a letter from Brigham Young which had been written the same day as Thomas’s letter. President Young’s company had met Mr. Bridger en route. Brother Harmon transcribed the letter, which read, “We introduce to your notice Mr. James Bridger who we expected to have seen at his fort. He is now on his way to Fort Laramie. We wish you to cross him & his 2 men on our account.” Harman added, “he was agoing to Laramie & expected to return to his fort in time to pilot the pioneers through to Salt Lake. He said he could take us to a place that would suit us.” Thomas requested that Appleton send a letter with Jim Bridger to the upcoming companies traveling west giving them the news they had from Brigham Young’s company. The men also wrote personal letters to their families and sent them along with Mr. Bridger’s small party.

Charles C. Rich brings Thomas Grover’s family out of Winter Quarters

In the meantime, Charles C. Rich prepared to leave Iowa. Under the direction of Church leaders, he left his family early in the spring and traveled west to Winter Quarters and then trekked back to Nauvoo to determine conditions there. Upon returning to his families’ cabins in Mt. Pisgah, Charles gathered supplies and moved past Winter Quarters to the outfitting station on the Elkhorn River. About mid-June 1847, in the company of two thousand other pioneers, he left this station with his own families and the wives and children of Thomas Grover, traveling with five groups of wagons with about one hundred wagons in each company. Charles Rich headed one company.

They were further divided into groups of fifty and ten, following a pattern set by Brigham Young. Also in Charles Rich’s company were the Deuel families. While all were considered to be traveling together, in fact they did not all leave at exactly the same time, and as a result the wagon train literally stretched out for days along the trail heading west. Thomas’s oldest child, Jane, age 17, remained in Winter Quarters with the John Tanner family. She crossed the plains the next year with them.

Emeline, although married to Charles Rich, traveled with her father’s family, helping Hannah with her younger sisters. She recalled that her company left on the 14 of June, “and the beauty of this was, (if I may be allowed the expression) that of the teamsters of this medley outfit there were 9 out of 10 who were girls, women, or children. I can but laugh now, when I look back upon that picturesque scene (for be it understood that I was one of those teamsters) and at the time it was no laughing matter but real, reality in the full sense of the term – Some there were equipped with big ox whips 6 or 8 feet long who I doubt not had never seen, much less handled a whip of this kind – and knew not ge from haw and perhaps had been raised tenderly, and who owing to scarcity of male members in our camp had to take the whip in hand and drive their teams – walking of course as they couldn’t drive their unbroken ox teams and sit in the wagon, else when they espied a spear of grass out side the road (of which there was but a faint track made by the pioneers) they would sometimes turn off and break the wagon tongue – all these things we had in our camps.” This was made necessary because of the absence of the five hundred men with the battalion going to California plus Brigham Young’s advance party comprised mostly of men.

Emeline’s sister-wife Mary Ann Phelps Rich explained that their husband intended at the outset to hire two boys to drive two of his wagons. Since Emeline and Mary did not have children to tend, they persuaded him to let them attempt to drive the teams along for one day. Mary Ann wrote, “We did so well that we had our teams every day after that, until we arrived in the valley. . . . We had some very nice times, when the roads were not so bad. We would make the mountains ring with our songs, and sometimes the company got together in a dance of an evening on the grass. We rejoiced, instead of mourning, that we were going to the Rocky mountains, where we would be free to live our religion and be acknowledged as wives.”

Charles Rich’s company was comprised of one hundred and twenty-six persons. They traveled six days week, resting and doing laundry on the Sabbath. (Staying clean was considered to be a virtue, not work.) At night the wagons formed a circle with the wheels interlocking each other, creating a huge corral where the cattle and horses could graze. Often on clear evenings there were lectures on some aspects of astronomy. Eliza R. Snow traveled with this company and shared her poetry. Charles’ wife Sarah Pea Rich described the trail as comprising three regions: the buffalo, the prairie dog, and the mountain. She wrote that traveling was slow through the buffalo region because the men took advantage of opportunities to kill and dry the buffalo for jerky, which she stated was sweet and “made the children fat.” Technically, these creatures are bison, but the saints called them buffalo. She also wrote that “it was a grand sight to see thousands of these animals racing across the prairie.”

When the saints reached the prairie she wrote, “After we got through with the buffaloes, we came to a land of the prairie dogs. The whole country was alive with them. They lived in holes in the ground and would fill the air with their barking all night long.”

Attacks by the Native Americans were feared, and in fact three men were attacked and one was hit by an arrow and carried, mortally wounded, into Brother Rich’s tent, where he died. Another wife, Mary Ann Phelps, wrote, “There were hundreds of Indians along the way, all the time we were traveling up the Platte River. They were very cunning. We had to watch them very closely to see that they did not steal everything we had. They would shoot arrows into our cattle and sheep. So we found that it took more hands to herd the cattle and drive the wagons than we had anticipated.” Many of the pioneer journals told of difficult encounters with the natives, where even experienced travelers were robbed of cattle, sheep and horses.

Thomas meets his family, heads into the Salt Lake Valley

While still at the Platte Ferry, Appleton Harmon recorded that another group of men from Brigham Young’s party arrived at the camp on July 13th. These men, led by Phineas Young, President Young’s older brother, had been sent back along the trail to meet the oncoming companies and guide them west. Appleton wrote, “Some of our brethren that were here wanted to go back to meet their families. It was thought advisable by Capt. Grover to divide the substance of what we had gained equally among us. It was accordingly so done, which amounted to $60.50 apiece besides the provisions. . . Capt. Grover, F. M. Pomeroy, Edmund Ellsworth 59 and B. F. Stewart went with Phineas Young to meet” their families.

Edmund Ellsworth wrote, “It was soon arranged that part of us should start back to meet our families, no one thinking we would be gone over from two to five days. We only took provisions to last three days. When we arrived at Laramie, [150 miles east] the Indians brought the news that there were wagons coming up the Platte [but they could not tell us] the distance.” Thomas Grover later told his grandchildren that they had run out of food by the time they met with the Indians and were fed a stew made from buffalo meat, “the best meal we had ever eaten, it seemed.” Edmund Ellsworth continued, “We went on 175 miles which we traveled with only one antelope and one hare for the company. This was less than half a meal each in 7 days. I never expected to witness greater excitement than prevailed when we beheld at a distance a camp of wagons lying by for the Sabbath. Our horses did their best to carry us to breakfast where several of us found our families. Truly my soul was filled with joy at meeting my wife and two little ones in company with the saints moving to Salt Lake.”

It was at this point that Thomas Grover joined his family in Charles C. Rich’s company heading east. It would have been about the same time that Brigham Young’s company reached the Salt Lake Valley.

In the month of September, as the Rich company crossed the south fork of the Platte River, they met Brigham Young and many of the original company heading east. As almost all of the men with Brigham Young had traveled west without their families, many were returning to spend the winter of 1847-48 in Winter Quarters where thousands of the members of the Church were still gathering. President Young’s company had spent enough time in the Salt Lake Valley to oversee the building of a bowery and begin construction of the fort. The first bowery was built by Mormon Battalion members who arrived in the valley shortly after Brigham Young’s party.

Before leaving the valley at the end of August, Brigham Young held a conference in this bowery, addressing everyone. He told them all to build their cabins with enough ventilation, as they were used to sleeping in their wagons. After listening to counsel from the apostles, those remaining in the valley were asked to fence the acreage they would plant, and to work together to protect the next year’s crop of wheat from both their cattle and the natives. They also agreed to name the city The Great Salt Lake City, of the Great Basin of North America. The nearby river was named the Western Jordan, and the post office was titled “The Great Basin Post Office.” President Young challenged the remaining settlers to harvest enough wheat and corn so they could trade it for the glass which he would bring upon his return. President Young also appointed John Smith, uncle of the martyred prophet, to be the stake president in the Salt Lake Valley. Brother Smith, at that time heading westward in a company that arrived in late September, took over the leadership of the two thousand Saints in the valley when he arrived.

Brigham’s diarist recorded that it was a joyous occasion for them to meet the oncoming westbound wagon trains on their journey east. Brigham sent a letter back with one of the companies to his young wife Clarissa who had remained in the Salt Lake Valley. (He had built her a small home inside the walls of the fort before he left the valley.) Many of the men in Brigham Young’s vanguard company eventually made several trips back and forth across the plains. Orson Pratt returned to Winter Quarters with Brigham Young and continued on east, serving as mission president in the British Isles.

Emeline wrote that during her journey, she and the other women “had began to think we were pretty good teamsters. Still, all were willing to surrender the ox whip to its owner” upon meeting up with their fathers and husbands. Emeline mentioned that at Fort Laramie Captain Bridger told her that she “had the hardest and toughest part of the journey to travel. I wondered how this could be, for I could picture nothing in my mind that could be worse than what we had passed.

We had walked 2 and 22 miles per day . . . and now to be told that the hardest part of our journey was just on ahead? But we were still equal to the task. Of course we were!” She added that, “Capt. Bridger gave us but little encouragement concerning our new homes. He told my father that he would give him a thousand dollars for every bushel of wheat that was raised in Salt Lake Valley.

A month of travel after meeting President Young heading east, Thomas Grover and the other members of the Charles C. Rich company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in October 1847. Two days after their arrival, Charles Rich buried his mother, who had fallen ill a few days earlier. She and the young wife of Jedediah M. Grant, who had also died, were buried side by side and were the first pioneer burials in the valley.

Emeline Grover Rich wrote, “Very scantily clad and poorly fed, as we were, we truly had a hard journey, and were glad when we saw before us the Salt Lake Valley, although a barren desert at that time and without inhabitants.” Mary Ann Phelps Rich wrote that when she got to the valley, the longest part of her dress fell not to her ankles, but to her knees, as it had caught on brush and shrubs and had gradually been torn away.

In addition to the supplies brought by the ferry men, individual pioneers had been foresightful enough to plan ahead for the winter. Brigham Young gave tremendous thought to what could be brought across the plains that first year. Six hundred chickens traveled with Brigham Young’s company, in addition to over a hundred pigs, seven hundred cows, four hundred sheep and two beehives. A total of five thousand head of cattle came with the pioneer companies that first year.

Many in the vanguard company brought bushels of potatoes which they planted upon reaching the valley. These were harvested by the later settlers, with seed being saved for the next year.

George A. Smith, a son of John Smith, hid twenty-five pounds of flour in his trunk, which he subsequently shared with the sick before he returned to the States with Brigham Young.

Briant Stringham, who came in the first company as a bachelor, sent a letter back to his family in Winter Quarters asking them to come as soon as they could the next year, bringing him a wife if possible. He stated that the valley “is truly a lovely place. . . the garden spot of the world.” He asked them to trade any horses they had for cattle and to also bring pigs. He also suggested that they carry with them sugar, guns, cloth, nails, glass and spices, as they were unavailable in the valley. Briant planted trees in the valley and helped build homes. He was put in charge of the tithing stock, and later he moved this herd to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake.

The fort or stockade was erected with adobe bricks in what is now the center of downtown Salt Lake City, near Second West and Fourth South. Adobe and log cabins were built inside the fort, with the back wall of the homes being the wall of the fort. Isaac Haight wrote, “Arrived safe at the Fort, our cattle worn out and all of us tired of traveling. The Fort contains 40 acres of land surrounded with houses made of sun dried brick built after the Spanish fashion on three sides and wood houses on the other. We went immediately to work to prepare to build us houses. The Fort, not being large enough to contain all the inhabitants we had to enlarge it. Many built of sun dried brick, others of timber. They have to haul for 6 to 16 miles. I put one up of timber and got my family into it the last day of October.”

This is where the Grover family members spent the winter of 1847-48. Some of the men from the Mormon battalion who had arrived in the valley at the end of July spent that winter in the fort before returning to Winter Quarters for their families the following spring. Thomas shared his provisions with them, saying, “Come along with me and I will divide with you. We will eat as long as it lasts and when it is gone we will go without.” Son Thomas later wrote, “By spring our provisions were gone, and then we had to depend on roots, ducks and wild fowl, and eggs brought from the Indians, until our garden stuff was ready to eat.”

Osmyn and William Deuel, married to Thomas’s sisters-in-law, as mentioned, and a third brother, Amos, were blacksmiths. They built a solid log cabin inside the fort. It has been preserved and can be seen today in down town Salt Lake City, just a short distance from where it was originally built. It stands between the LDS Family History Library and the LDS Church Museum. They and their families spent the winter of 1847-1847 in this cabin.

Eliza R. Snow recorded that the first winter was mild enough that these first settlers worked outside without hardship, with animals able to plow the soil. Although there were some heavy snows, the settlers knew this would mean they would have water the following year. Sister Snow wrote about numerous parties which were held inside the log cabins during the holiday season.

Many babies were born and subsequently blessed by the stake president. School for the children began in October of that first year. Amongst all the other necessities, textbooks were brought across the plains, including spellers, grammar and arithmetic books. The scriptures were also used as textbooks. Church services and other meetings were held in boweries, allowed by the mild weather. That bowery built by the battalion members stood where the Salt Lake Temple now stands.

Sister Snow mentioned a darker side of living among the natives. “A Lamanite girl has come to live with us. She was purchased last Sunday.” There were many instances, early in the history of the Salt Lake Valley and later on in the settlement of other parts of Utah, of Indians kidnaping babies and children from other tribes, and then threatening mutilation or death if the Mormons did not purchase the child. Cash, food and cattle were often traded in order to save the lives of these Indian children.

Emeline wrote that clothing was scarce, many children were barefooted and provisions were short. They counseled together and determined to combine all the “breadstuffs” from the entire camp and then apportion them out. In doing this, every person was allotted one half pound of flour per day. Emeline noted that some would not limit themselves to the rationed amount, and as a result those who had been conservative ended up sharing their balance with those who had consumed their portions. Emeline wrote, “Then it was that people grumbled – but it made no difference, people must not starve. But many there were who boiled ox hides and lived on that for weeks together.” She said the poor cattle were “killed to eat that I do not think if cooked all up would have made a grease spot on a silk dress.”

Stephen Markham, who returned to Winter Quarters with Brigham Young, wrote that by the end of the first week in the valley fifty-three acres of land had been plowed. Potatoes, peas, beans, corn, oats, buckwheat and garden seeds were planted. Three acres of corn, beans and potatoes were already beginning to spout by early August.

Thomas Grover was appointed to serve on the first high council in the Salt Lake Valley. Charles Rich served as a counselor to President John Smith. This stake high council and its presidency acted as both the civil and religious governing body, solving disputes among the members and determining guilt or innocence in judicial matters. Some of the issues dealt with wheat or gunpowder or money owed another. The high council appears to have acted according to the procedures laid out in D&C 102, with Thomas often being appointed to defend the person charged with an offense. In addition to judicial affairs, the high council planned the building of a grist mill, plats for laying out farm lands, and where to build a cemetery. Construction was begun on some roads, and a speed limit was set, that “no person shall ride or drive through the Forts or their lanes faster than a slow trot under the penalty of $1.00 for each offense.” These preparations were made in anticipation of several thousand more emigrants reaching the valley during the summer of 1848.

Fruit trees were planted, with a few men setting up nurseries. Irrigation ditches were built and local bishops were the water masters. Wood for fires and structures was collected from the canyons. A small gristmill was built on City Creek near the fort and four sawmills were built that first year. Because of the difficulty of obtaining lumber, regulations by the high council stated that no one could built a log home without permission and only dead wood could be used for fuel. In November Isaac Haight wrote, “Snow fell about 6 inches, but soon went off. The soil in the valley is as good as need be; the water first rate and climate very healthy – not one person sick to my knowledge and everything looks pleasing with the exception of timber, which is scarce, which caused many of the Saints to murmur.” Emeline wrote that her father built a log hut with a roof of thatched grass and covered with dirt. An early settler mentioned Thomas Grover in her memoirs of this time. She said he was “a large, strong man, an athlete.”

Fall of 1847, Thomas moves north

In the fall of 1847, the Salt Lake high council authorized four of its members to winter the five thousand head of cattle on grasslands north of Salt Lake. Thomas Grover was one of these men. Shadrach Roundy, who had traveled with Thomas in Brigham Young’s company, (and who was his sister-in-law’s father-in-law,) was another. Two other men were Daniel Spencer and Ira Eldredge, who together had led a large company that had traveled with Charles Rich’s company. These men moved the large herds to a creek near present day Centerville where they found good grazing all winter. Isaac Haight wrote, “November 2, 1847 In the afternoon it snowed. Quite cold and many of the Saints are in tents many of which the wind has blown to pieces. Having, in company with my brother and two others, taken some of brethren’s cattle to herd this winter. I left the Fort today to go with the herd.”

Isaac’s brother was Hector Haight. Hector and Thomas Grover became life-long friends and neighbors. Hector homesteaded a large tract of land in an area near the Great Salt Lake outside modern Farmington, about five miles north of Centerville. He built a campground for travelers where he planted large groves of shade trees, and within a few years he opened a hotel. He also had a blacksmith shop. This property, at the time called Blooming Grove, was close to a well traveled road called the Salt Lake Cutoff. It was used by California immigrants and other travelers who went north around the lake into Idaho, west across Nevada and then into California.

This proved to be a good route with feed for cattle all the way, versus going directly west from Salt Lake City through the Tooele desert. Brother Haight had taken advantage of the route by anticipating the needs of cross-country travelers and meeting them.

Antelope Island, which could sometimes be reached through the shallow waters of the Great Salt Lake or on a flat boat, became a good grazing place for the cattle, safe from predators and Indians, and a decade later a rancher found the brass object end which John C. Fremont had lost earlier. Thomas built a log cabin near the range in Centerville. Early in 1848, three dozen families from the Salt Lake fort, including Charles Rich, Hector C. Haight, William O. Smith (father of Lot Smith of the Mormon Battalion), and the Deuel brothers, settled in this area, becoming neighbors and building up the community.

Thomas Grover, with his wives and children, worked hard on his farm, planting wheat and corn. Thomas had planted early, and there were no late frosts, and he raised hundreds of bushels of wheat before the infamous crickets infested the area. This wheat was enough for his family with plenty to share. Thomas sold his spare wheat far below the market rate, refusing to make a profit at the expense of other pioneers who had lost their crops. Thomas’s grandchildren fondly told a story about Thomas. A widow sent her young son to buy a little wheat from Thomas who filled the boy’s sack to the brim with flour. Not having much money, the concerned young man asked how much a whole bag of flour cost. Thomas replied, “I don’t sell flour to widows and fatherless children.”

Granddaughter Lucy Sanders Hess listened to her grandmother Loduska tell stories about this time. She wrote, “Grandfather was a good farmer. He planted his grain early and it was too near maturity for the crickets to eat. When it was harvested and made into flour it was coarse and black. You, at this time, wouldn’t think it ‘fit for the pigs.’ Grandmother made salt-risen bread and they never tasted a morsel so sweet, as they hadn’t had bread for three months. They had plenty of dried beef, cheese and milk. They dug thistle roots and sego lily bulbs, which helped to sustain life.” In the spring of 1848 Isaac Haight wrote, “Weather cold and unpleasant. The ground covered with snow. Had a foot this week. Our houses being flat roofed, they leaked very bad which makes it very unpleasant. The wheat that was sowed last fall looks very discouraging for a crop, but we trust in the Lord that has brought us here will sustain us and not let us perish.”

Son Thomas later wrote that he remembered seeing the natives watering their ponies along the side of their corn patch. He also remembered waiting for the corn to ripen so he could have cornbread. Thomas also remembered that the natives brought them duck eggs, sagos and thistles to keep the pioneers alive. He wrote, “The Indians were always a friend to my father and his family because he always fed them and treated them right.”

The summer of 1848 brought more than two thousand new residents to the valley. Most of these traveled from Winter Quarters with Brigham Young as he made his second trip into the valley. About two hundred new settlers came from California. Some were passengers from the ship Brooklyn, which left New York harbor in February 1846 with two hundred and fifty LDS Saints. Their six month voyage ended when they arrived in what is now San Francisco a year before any pioneers reached the Salt Lake Valley. Many of them believed California was the promised land and they did not complete their journey to Utah. Late in the summer of 1848, seventy former passengers of the Brooklyn, traveling with men from the Mormon Battalion who had spent the winter of 1847 in California, entered the valley from the west.

Thomas’s eighteen year old daughter Jane was crossing the plains with the Willard Richards Company during the summer of 1848. This was a large company, with over five hundred people traveling. Jane told of an incident that happened during her trip. She and some other girls, with “Father Tanner,” who was almost seventy, left the train to gather gooseberries. Some Indians came upon them with the intent to kill the grandfather and take the girls as prisoners. Jane wrote, “I began silently praying to my Heavenly Father. The Spirit of the Almighty fell upon me and I spoke to them in great power, and no tongue can tell my feelings.. . . They let go the horses and wagon, and stood in front of me. . . .Father Tanner and the little girls looked on in amazement. . . . . When I stopped talking, they shook hands with all of us and returned all they had taken from Father Tanner.” She said that the Lord gave her an interpretation of what she said, and included in her translation was, “We have not come to injure you, and if you harm us, or injure one hair of our heads, the Great Spirit shall smite you to the earth, and you shall not have power to breathe another breath.” She reached the Salt Lake Valley in October of 1848.

The Farmington settlers reportedly had few problems with the local natives. A small tribe of Piutes lived nearby. Shoshones lived near the mouth of Farmington Canyon. The Indians begged for food, and following the direction of President Young, the settlers gave what they could. Often this was in exchange for beads, blankets and moccasins. These early settlers learned the benefits of moccasins and many pioneer women became quite proficient in making them for their own families.

As the settlement in the valley grew and spread into the surrounding areas, Thomas sought better property for his farm and cattle. Aaron B. Cherry, who had crossed the plains in Charles Rich’s company, had brought quite a few horses to Utah the previous year and was looking for pasture land. He bought Thomas’s property claim and cabin, moving his wife and children there. Thomas moved farther north to Farmington, where he planted crops, harvesting them early in the fall. Son Thomas recalled that his father built a log cabin for the family. Thomas Grover’s former missionary companion, Joseph Robinson, served as bishop in Farmington in 1849. It’s interesting to look at the census and Church records and see that men Thomas served with in Ohio, Missouri and Nauvoo settled in Farmington. These men had worked together through hard times, and they knew they could trust each other.

William Carbine, who by this time was thirteen, arrived in the Salt Lake Valley late in the summer of 1848 after crossing the plains without any family to help him. His uncle Hector Haight met him in Salt Lake and provided a home for him. William wrote, “The next day, September 16, 1848, we came up to where Farmington now is located. [My uncle] had a place staked out. At that place we camped about two weeks, I think in a tent. There was my uncle and aunt and William Haight who now lives in Farmington. There came one of those east winds which Farmington has.

Sometimes my uncle and aunt held the tent up as long as they could, then let it down over us. They told us to lie there until morning. They would go down below where Thomas Grover had built a cabin. It was not chinked and only had willows on the roof. The wind had blown the willows off the roof. It was as bad as out-of-doors.”

Fall of 1848, Brigham Young sends Thomas to California after he is accused of attempted murder

Thomas Grover’s brother-in-law William Henry Deuel has been credited with being the first settler in Centerville, making his home on a creek named after him. Records indicate there was a serious dispute between him and Thomas. William pressed charges against Thomas and took his case before the Salt Lake high council, of which Thomas was a member, and accused Thomas of attempting to kill him. The public summary in advance of the trial indicates the initial charge was filed in the summer of 1848 before Jedediah M Grant, one of the Seventy. The charge was against “Thomas Grover for unlawfully beating William Deuell and also threatening his life.

Parties present and ready for trial. Brother [Levi] Jackman [who was in the first company with Thomas Grover] and [Ira] Spencer speakers for Defendant. After the case was duly traversed, President [John} Smith [president of the high council] waived giving a decision until he could know how Brother Deuell prospered in recovering from his bruises. Adjourned to Saturday next at 1 p.m.”

The trial happened in the background of a major event occurring across the United States when gold was discovered in California. As early as the fall of 1848, President Young was feeling pressure from some pioneers in the valley to allow them to go to California to mine gold. News of the gold discovery was only just reaching the States, but the saints in the valley believed if they acted quickly they could get to California and beat the rush, in this case, the gold rush. It appeared to many that this could be a very profitable enterprise. In general conference in October of 1848, President Young let the members of the Church know how unhappy he was with talk he was hearing of going to California. Having just arrived in the valley a month earlier and seeing the progress that had been made, he did not want to throw it all way for a hunt for mammon. However, many of the battalion members and the few families from the Brooklyn had arrived in Utah that year from California with fistfuls of gold. In an apparently successful attempt to convince the pioneers to stay put, the First Presidency wrote, “We are gathered here, not to scatter around and go off to the mines, or any other place, but to build up the Kingdom of God.”

President Young explained that the Salt Lake Valley was “a good place to make Saints, and it is a good place for Saints to live; it is the place that the Lord has appointed, and we shall stay here, until He tells us to go somewhere else.” President Young also stated without equivocation that the Sacramento Valley was a morally unhealthy place.

Samuel Brannan, who had captained the Brooklyn, was the leader of the LDS mission of the Church in California. He is also the person generally credited with discovering gold at Sutter’s Mill. He had hired some of the battalion members to mine gold for him. As mission president, he had collected their tithing, and also the tithing of the Brooklyn saints who still remained in San Francisco. There was a concern that Brother Brannon was using tithing funds in his speculative businesses. In addition, Brother Brannan continued to encourage President Young to move the headquarters of the Church to California. In fact, some settlers from the Salt Lake Valley did resettle there.

After the 1848 October conference, President Young seems to have privately called a few men on “gold missions.” This appears to have been a conciliatory gesture on the part of President Young. Sending these men to California allowed them to travel with his blessing and evaluate the situation in California. This was not done openly for fear that there might be a mad dash for California.

In addition to the main enterprises of running the Church and colonizing the Utah Territory, President Young was concerned about financial issues. About half of the battalion members still remained in California. President Young wanted their manpower in addition to the gold they had mined. President Young also wanted to encourage the remaining Brooklyn saints to move to Utah Territory. There was little cash in the valley and the saints got by with bartering, but purchasing supplies from the States needed to be made with cash.

It appears that President Young did not trust Samuel Brannan for the task of influencing the miners and Brooklyn saints to pay tithing and emigrate to the Salt Lake Valley. Records indicate that two, if not three small groups of men were secretly sent to California in the fall of 1848, with Thomas Grover traveling with one of them at Brigham Young’s request.

It is clear that in spite of the accusations against Thomas, Brigham Young still held Thomas in high esteem and sent him to California as a trusted envoy. A letter written in mid-October 1848 by Thomas Grover to Brigham Young indicates Thomas left immediately in order to travel with men who had already left for the mines. “I wish to say to you I have concluded to go to California and have not time to call on you. I made up my mind this afternoon and have to overtake the company as they are now gone. I wish to say to you that in going I leave my family provided for and further I have nothing in view but the good of myself and the Kingdom of God and notwithstanding I could not see you, I want your blessing and prayers in going. I do not wish to evade justice in the case of Wm Duel which is before the council. I would be glad if you would see that I am dealt with according to mercy and justice and I have left means to meet the demand. Further I would be glad to retain my standing in the council if you are willing. If so, if you will use your influence to that end I will feel grateful to you. I must close and can only say that you have my warmest and best feelings. I want your blessings now and while I am gone and I should be prospered. I will bless you when I return.” These words and a further letter indicate that by mid-October, a verdict had come down and Thomas had been assessed damages, being ordered to pay William Deuel $50.

Thomas handled the business for the Church, collecting tithing and meeting with the California saints. Son Joel later wrote, “Father with others leaving their Families behind fully on Church business and partly on their own went to California by southern route. After an absence of about or nearly a year (Father spending part of his time in the gold mines. . .) he returned home.” Son Thomas wrote that his father came home from California, “with all the gold that he wanted.”

Family members later shared details which Thomas had relayed about his trip to California. After taking care of the business for the Church, he began to mine gold. He needed equipment and wanted to borrow money for supplies. According to son Thomas, “Father went to a merchant and told him that he, Thomas Grover, wanted one thousand dollars credit for thirty days. The man looked at Father for a minute and said, ‘You can have it.’” Within thirty days he had earned enough gold to pay back the debt. He found mining to be very tiring and only worked for a short period. Son Thomas wrote, “Every pound of flour and meat, or anything to eat, was very expensive. It cost one dollar for a drink of liquor, cigars were one dollar each, and every pick and shovel cost sixteen dollars each. They got their outfit and went to digging gold. Father stayed in the mines until he had all the gold he wanted, then he went to Sacramento and got two yoke of Spanish oxen and a wagon and what he thought the family needed.”

Thomas was waylaid in Sacramento before returning to Utah. While in a hotel there, he was approached by a businessman who was willing to pay Thomas $1000 month, an unheard of wage, to supervise the construction of a new hotel. Thomas agreed and worked for a month. Disliking the area and atmosphere intensely, Thomas told the man he was returning to Utah. The businessman offered to pay Thomas more money, but his reply was, “There is not enough money in Sacramento Valley to keep me here.”

Life for the rest of the Grover family members continued on while Thomas was in California. Winter in Utah was very difficult that year. His family dug tunnels through the snow from the house to the barn in order to care for the animals. In early 1849, Loduska Tupper Grover gave birth to her first baby, a daughter named Lucy, who was also the first child born to the setters in Farmington. Two months later, her sister Hannah gave birth to her third child, a boy whom she named Joel, whose personal writings have been used throughout this history. These women chopped down green cottonwood trees, drying them out in their ovens so they could be burned for fuel.

As it turned out, the gold rush of 1849 was extremely providential for the saints in the Salt Lake Valley. The harvest in 1849, while not vast, was enough to support the settlers in the valley in addition to allowing trading for goods from the mining trains passing through the valley. Benjamin Brown was a bishop in the valley that year. He wrote that large companies in the States were formed to supply the miners in California with supplies, including food, clothing, and digging implements of every kind. “As these companies expected a most tremendous profit on their goods, no expense or outlay of any kind was spared. Numbers of substantial wagons were prepared, stored with wholesale quantities of clothing of every kind: spades, picks shovels, and chests of carpenters’ tools, were also provided to overflowing, and, to complete the list, tea, coffee, sugar, flour, fruits &c., on the same scale. In fact, these persons procured just the things they would have done, had they been forming companies purposely for relieving the Saints, and had they determined to do it as handsomely as unlimited wealth would allow.”

Bishop Brown went on to explain that as these companies came within a short distance of Salt Lake City, “news reached them that ships had been dispatched from many parts of the world, for the same purpose. The companies feared that the sale of their goods would not repay the expense of conveyance. Upon reaching the Salt Lake Valley, they said, ‘Oh, here are these Mormons. Let us sell the goods to them.’” Bishop Brown stated that the companies “disposed of them for just what could be got,” and the LDS settlers were able to acquire “provisions, wagons, clothes, tools, almost for the taking away, at least at half the price for which the goods could have been purchased in the States. . . . Thus were the Saints amply provided, even to overflowing, with every one of the necessaries and many of the luxuries of which they had been so destitute.”

Leonard Arrington, a Church historian who studied early Mormon journals said that “each pioneer diary reflects the influence of the Gold Rush on individual and family fortunes, and thus on the whole economy. . . . What the forty-niners did, in essence, was to trade their heavy wagons, worn-out cattle, and merchandise for a horse or mule outfit to carry them quickly to their California destination.” Brother Arrington added, “The servicing and re-outfitting of the overland emigrants furnished employment to Mormon blacksmiths, wagon smiths, teamsters, laundresses and millers, many of whom organized to take fullest advantage of this demand for their services.”

The summer of 1849 brought a magnificent celebration on the 24 of July. While being the th second anniversary of the pioneers’ arrival, it was the first for President Young after his initial foray into the Valley. Isaac Haight wrote, “This is a day long to be remembered as the anniversary of the arrival of President B. Young in the valley of the Great Salt Lake. The day was celebrated by the firing of cannon, the playing of music and an escort was formed of 24 young men dressed in white with the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States in one hand a sword in the other which escorted the Governor of the State of Deseret, Brigham Young, to the stand. The young men presented him with the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. The Declaration was read and cheered by the people after which there was speaking and some singing after which dinner was prepared under a large bowery. Some three thousand sat down to a splendid repast, not surpassed in any country.”

Ten days earlier a “Mormon gold train” had left California. Thomas Grover was chosen to be the captain of this group, which included battalion members, miners, wealthy saints from the Brooklyn who were finally emigrating to Utah, and Church leaders who had been sent to California under Brigham Young’s direction. Some of the Mormons in the train had large sums of gold, one man reportedly carrying $17,000. Son Thomas recalled that his father’s trip back to Utah was not uneventful, “There was a bunch of men [who] started to follow them for a day or two with the intention to rob, but one evening they camped a little distance apart and Father’s party took their guns and went to the men following them and told them they would give them fifteen minutes to get out of sight on the back trail and they left at once.” This wagon train arrived in Salt Lake City in late September. Because of the influence Thomas Grover had upon the company, many of the California saints put large sums of tithing and contributions into Church hands.

A Deseret News article stated, “At 7 P.M. President Brigham Young, John Taylor, Charles C. Rich, and other brethren met at the home of Jedediah M. Grant and received $1,280.00 in coin and $3,000 in gold dust as tithing which had been brought in from Amasa M. Lyman and the California Saints by Thomas Grover.” Upon receiving this money, President Young put his hands on Thomas Grover’s shoulders and said, “Brother Grover, if every Latter-day Saint would do as you have done there would be no need of a tithing among this people.”

Son Joel wrote, “Father had been successful on his journey having collected a great amount of tithing and accumulated about $3000 gold for himself.” Son Thomas said that his father drove home “two yokes of Spanish cattle, and [was] loaded with groceries and clothing such as his family needed.” His wife Hannah described the wooden chests he used to carry the money as being thirty-six inches long, thirty inches wide and eighteen inches deep. Hannah also wrote that five hundred head of cattle had been brought from Texas late in the summer, and there had not been enough cash to purchase them. Men who had returned from California, including Thomas Grover, were able to buy the cattle from their gold earnings at $4 a head, keeping the stock in Utah and increasing the local herds.

The following fall, President Young sent a few more trusted men to California. Among these was Charles C. Rich, who had been called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles earlier that year. Apostle Rich went again to California in 1851, settling in San Bernardino for several years. His wives Emeline, Harriet and Mary accompanied him on this trip, giving birth to a total of eight children while there.

While the Grover family was becoming well-established in Farmington, over a thousand new pioneer emigrants from Winter Quarters and the camps in Iowa reached the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of 1849. Census records show that by 1850, there were eleven thousand people in Utah Territory working to make the desert blossom.

1850, Thomas heads back to Iowa

Thomas, being among the saints Brother Arrington said greatly benefitted from the gold rush, devised a daring plan to increase his wealth which would help prosper all the pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. It also appears, from the tone of a letter Thomas wrote to Brigham Young, that he was still having problems with the Deuel brothers. In the spring of 1850, Thomas Grover sold his farm to Lot Smith who had joined his father in Farmington. Joel wrote, “Father and part of his family . . . returned to Mosquito River” in Iowa. The family included Thomas’s wives Hannah and Loduska, their five children, thirteen year old Caroline and eleven year old Eliza Ann.

His older daughters by his deceased wife Caroline were marrying and leaving his home. By this time, Emeline, married to Charles C. Rich, was the mother of a son whom she had named after her father. The week after Thomas departed, Mary Elizabeth married William Alpheus Simmons, a convert from Canada. Daughter Jane traveled to California, possibly with Charles C. Rich, and there married James Wesley Stewart who had been in Brigham Young’s company with Thomas.

Appleton Harmon, at the time departing Utah to serve a mission, wrote, “On April 19, 1850, our group was joined by Thomas Grover.” Traveling with Appleton, who had worked with Thomas at the Platte River, was Isaac C. Haight, Hector’s brother, who was also living in Farmington near Thomas. There were six additional missionaries, all heading on to Europe. In a letter to Brigham Young, which was written from Weber Canyon as they headed east, Thomas stated that he was contributing to the missionaries’ support. He also told President Young that he would send him a threshing machine once he reached the States. He further wrote that he was going to invest $2,500 in cows and young stock. This would be most of his profit from the gold mines.

His feelings about having to pay William Deuel fifty dollars were clear. “I could have wished that you could have been made acquainted with a lot of the injuries that I have received from him and his brother. Now, Bro. Brigham, I take this responsibility upon myself to give [to] these my Brethren that are on missions to preach the gospel rather than to give to my enemies where it will not advance the Kingdom of God one cent.” He concluded the letter by saying, “But if I know my own heart, I am a friend to the Kingdom of God and the Authorities thereof. Now in view with your past experience with me, if it will warrant your prayers in my behalf, I trust that I shall prosper in my undertaking. As ever, your Brother and friend in the Gospel, Thomas Grover.”

Son Thomas vividly remembered the trip back to Iowa. He described the route, “[Starting] east by going down the Big Mountain on the east side. I remember seeing big, dry pine trees in the snow on the south side and up the canyon…. When we got to the Sweetwater, a big gray wolf followed us for a day or two. I can just see him now as he would come into our camp ground and pick up scraps. At the three crossings of the Sweetwater, Father stopped and got behind a ledge of rock and when Mr. Wolf came up he shot him.”

On their way east the company met oncoming pioneers in the Edward Hunter Company, the first to travel with perpetual emigration funds. Lydia Knight, the widow of Newel Knight, was traveling in this company with her seven children. Thomas had served with Newel on high councils in Kirtland, Far West and Nauvoo and knew this family well. Thomas assisted many in the company as he could, but his children remembered that he gave Sister Knight a team of oxen, clothing and food to help her get to Utah. Many of the travelers were suffering with cholera, and some in Thomas’s family contracted that disease, although no one died. An early pioneer journal revealed a recipe for cholera medicine: into one quart of brandy pour three tablespoons of cayenne pepper, four tablespoons of tincture of camphor, three tablespoons of tincture of laudanum (which comes from opium), and two tablespoons of peppermint. The dosage is from one to two tablespoons at a time.

The 1850 census enumerator, Thomas’s fellow ferryman Luke Johnson, found the Grover family living on Mosquito Creek, a camp near Winter Quarters where there were still many Mormons waiting to cross the plains to Utah. Thomas left his family there for short periods, traveling to Missouri where he purchased more cattle. They stayed in Iowa through three winters, from 1850 to 1853 and enjoyed the company of the pioneering saints who came through Winter Quarters.

One guest who spent time with them in 1852 was Church leader Jedediah M. Grant, who by that time was the mayor of Salt Lake City. He had conducted some Church business in Washington D.C. but became ill on the way home and could not make the return trip to the Salt Lake Valley as planned. He stayed with the Grovers for a short period of time, and when Brother Grant was well enough to head west, Thomas outfitted him with a team of horses and a wagon.

During their stay in Iowa, Loduska had two boys, one who died before his first birthday. Hannah had two boys and a daughter, all of whom died at birth. In spite of her difficult health during this time, Hannah returned to New Hampshire by train during the winter of 1852-3, where she assisted her mother in traveling to Iowa. Hannah Ladd Tupper then traveled to Utah with the Grover family where she died a few years later.

In May of 1853, Thomas and his family left Iowa to return to Utah Territory with several hundred head of cattle. Seven year old Thomas later told his own children that he walked most of the way and helped herd the cattle. He remembered his father being asked if he was afraid of the natives, and his reply was, “No, they are my friends and I am safer with them than with you.”

Young Thomas later wrote, “When we got to the Sweetwater, a herd of buffalo was seen, and Father thought he would have a buffalo, and did not return to the camp until the next day. He had his pony loaded with fat buffalo meat.” He added, “Sometimes we had to stop for half a day for [the buffalo] to pass, going back and forth from water, they looked like a black moving mass as far as we could see.” They arrived in Utah in August, camping in Emigration Canyon the first night back. Son Thomas wrote, “That night, we lost ten head of cows. We believed they had been poisoned on the oak brush.”

Isaac Haight, returning from a mission in England, crossed the plains that summer. It is interesting to read how many people he met along the way. Traveling as a missionary, he could go faster than the wagon trains and he went from one company to the next as he moved west. He recorded who he camped with and who he met on his way from Utah who were heading east, in one case mentioning meeting Edmund Ellsworth as he was beginning his three year British mission. Isaac arrived in Farmington on August 29 and a few days later wrote, “Went with Bro. Hector and Bro. Grover up near Weber to look for herd ground.”

1853 Thomas returns to Farmington

Thomas initially settled on a farm in Blooming Grove purchased from Hector Haight. Hannah gave birth to a baby while they lived here, but the boy only lived a few moments. Thomas moved his herd to a range about eight miles north to what is now Hooper. There, William Hooper bought twenty-seven head of his cattle for $1100, paying Thomas in twenty dollar gold pieces.

In 1854 Thomas moved again, buying property on Main Street in Farmington, about twelve miles away, where his family initially lived in two log cabins already in existence. At this location Thomas began construction of a two story rock home which took two years to build. Son Thomas described the iron plow devised by a neighbor, since they were unable to purchase one anywhere in the valley. That winter during a warm spell of weather, the snow melted and Thomas sowed the wheat, and his son Thomas harrowed it in with a yoke of oxen. Young Thomas later wrote that his legs ached so badly from carrying mud from the snow melt on his shoes, that he could not sleep at night. He added that “The next spring, the grasshoppers came in clouds. Some days we couldn’t see the sun for hours at a time. They seemed to know the tender grain [planted in the spring] and would light on that first and fill themselves up. Then they would raise and go into the air and more would come and by the time they had eaten all the younger and tender grain, our grain [planted in the winter in the mud] was ripe, and we thrashed seven hundred bushes of wheat. . . . more wheat than all the rest of Salt Lake Valley together.”

Son Thomas wrote that the summer of 1856 was a time of famine for many of the saints in the valley. It had been a difficult winter and many pioneers lost crops and animals. “During the winter of 55-56, we lost $5000 worth of cattle. . . There was scarcely any bread in Salt Lake Valley and Father hired all that needed work and fed their families.”

Hector Haight moved from Blooming Grove to property nearby, building a hotel. Thomas’s home was divided into equal parts so Hannah and Loduska had similar living spaces and was still large enough that travelers could stay there. For many years the home was considered to be the nicest house in the area and was called the Grover Mansion. Thomas planted a large orchard and erected a rock wall around his farm. The geology of the area includes a lot of rock which was used in many of these pioneer structures, resulting in some of them still being in use more than a century and a half later.

While Farmington was growing, there were still problems with the natives. President Young declared a general policy for town members to build walls around their cities to better protect themselves. In 1854 Farmington residents constructed a wall made from adobe bricks. The high wall was a relatively narrow “L” shape with a two and a half mile perimeter, enclosing one hundred and fifty acres and making the city easier to defend. In some places it was four feet at the base and ten feet high. The Grover property was just outside the wall. Within a few years the residents decided the wall was not necessary, and by 1870 the residents had broken down the wall and leveled out the humps it had left. A few traces of the wall were still in existence in 1918.

Amenities were scarce and these early pioneers learned how to come up with what they needed. A granddaughter of Thomas’s wrote of this time, “To replenish their salt supply they went to the Great Salt Lake, made ponds on the edge of the lake and when the water evaporated they would gather the salt. It had a little grit in it but they didn’t mind. For baking soda (‘saleratus’ they called it), they used a white substance that formed on the alkaline land. This occasionally had some grit in it, too. This was used to make biscuits.” The pioneers, including the children, learned to make what they needed. Laduska’s daughter Lucy was a clever child. She learned to sew at her mother’s knee and by the age of four, she had made her first quilt. By the age of ten, she had made her first dress.

These settlers picked wild gooseberries and currants, but before too long the fruit trees that had been brought across the plains were producing peaches, apples, cherries, plums and pears. This area became renowned for fruit and orchards began to fill the valleys. As recently as the late 20th century, fruit trees planted by Farmington pioneer James R. Millard were still bearing fruit. The Deseret News printed the names of emigrants crossing the plains, and when residents in the Weber Valleys recognized family, they traveled to the mouth of Weber Canyon to meet them.

Grover Home in Farmington

At this point, the pioneers were sending letters back and forth across the Iowa plains with LDS Pony Express carriers who had won contracts with the US Government. The new settlers usually knew which communities they were going to before they left the outfitting station. Travelers heading to Salt Lake or areas further south entered the Salt Lake Valley through Emigration Canyon.

Neighbors of Thomas Grover, such as James Millard and Hector Haight worked together to build the community of Farmington. Their lives were not isolated, but intertwined with the successes of each other. Brother Millard, a cobbler, likely made shoes that Thomas Grover’s children wore. Their children later chose spouses from the children of these neighbors. Brother Millard ultimately became the Davis stake patriarch.

Son Thomas wrote, “The social part of the early days was real good. The dancing would start at one o’clock in the afternoon, and we would dance until five o’clock. Then we would go home and feed the cattle and get our suppers. Then we would go back to the hall and dance until eleven o’clock. Our dances were opened and closed by prayer. Everybody attended the parties, young and old, and they all did their part in making it pleasant. We had singing school Sunday mornings and sacrament meeting in the afternoon, prayer meeting Sunday night. Our fast meeting was held Thursday morning, which would be the first Thursday in each month.”

These loving neighbors, in an effort to provide a living for themselves, greatly improved on the infrastructure of Farmington. Ira Oviatt built the first blacksmith shop. Lot Smith was appointed to be the county sheriff. Apostle Willard Richards was assigned by his cousin President Young to settle in the Farmington area in 1852. He built a small mill on one of the creeks which was a great benefit to these pioneers, as they would no longer have to travel to Salt Lake to have their wheat and corn ground. In accomplishing his task, Elder Richards built a $10,000 road to the canyon.

This became a great asset to the residents who used the road not only to get to the mill, but to bring lumber from the canyon. Willard died shortly after he completed the mill, but his nephew, Franklin D. Richards, took it over, improving on it. The mill is now a landmark in Farmington.

Davis County had been officially organized in 1852 at which time water masters, nominated by local bishops, were appointed. Farmers and ranchers in the county were fortunate to have access to many creeks. An early county map shows the name of one of these creeks coming out of the mountains to be Grover Creek, after Thomas. The name was kept until 1860, when Thomas Steed settled near the creek. By 1854 the county courthouse was under construction in Farmington which became the county seat. Hector Haight was one of the building overseers and was a judge for many years. The courthouse was two stories, made of adobe with the court room upstairs. Farmington Ward members contributed over $900 for its construction and used the courtroom for a meetings until the chapel was completed.

The first school was built before Thomas returned to Iowa. The sixteen by twenty foot structure, constructed under the direction of Bishop Robinson, was made of logs which had been cut near the Weber River, fifteen miles north. The initial roof was made of willows and dirt, and the desks, attached to the walls, were made from split logs. A fireplace in one end provided heat in the winter.

This building was also used for Church meetings and other public gatherings until the courthouse and then later the chapel were constructed. Records show Joel Grover as an early teacher in this school. The population of Davis County in the 1850s was barely fifteen hundred individuals. The Farmington and neighboring wards remained in the Salt Lake Stake until 1877. Davis County bishops served under the direction of President Young. A local stage traveled on a well kept dirt road (now highway 89) between Salt Lake City and Uintah, twelve miles north of Farmington, with a regular stop in towns along the way, facilitating travel and mail.

1855 Thomas Grover elected to serve in the Utah Territorial Legislature and the Reformation

During the early1850s the territorial government began building the capital of the Utah Territory in Fillmore, Utah, about one hundred and fifty miles south of Salt Lake City and close to the actual center of the state of Utah. President Young had been pleased with this area and encouraged many colonists to settle there. Twenty thousand dollars were appropriated to build the statehouse, which was designed by Truman O. Angell, the architect of the Salt Lake Temple and a brother-in-law to Brigham Young. Before the capitol building was finished, Thomas was elected to the legislature, serving his first term in the fourth session held in the south wing of the partially completed building during the winter of 1854-55.

In 1855, the LDS Church began a reformation program to inspire the members to adhere more closely to Church teachings. Obviously the first generation of Mormons were comprised of converts, including the leaders. The second generation was just coming of age. One of the themes of the reformation was a commitment to not seek vengeance on their enemies. Other themes included exhortations on honesty, cleanliness, living the Word of Wisdom, avoiding profanity and keeping the Sabbath Day holy. For over a decade, a tremendous amount of energy had been focused on physically building the kingdom, digging irrigation ditches, starting businesses and even providing enough food. Perhaps it appeared to Brigham Young that important doctrines had been sidelined. Jedediah M. Grant, by this time a counselor to President Young, was sent to the various Mormon communities to preach. His sermons were so fiery that he was called “Brigham’s sledgehammer.”

Many stalwart men, including Thomas Grover, were called on home missions, where they preached and taught in local and neighboring wards and stakes. Thomas was assigned to speak in congregations in Tooele. Most of the members of the Church were re-baptized at this time. Early Church records show that these baptisms often happened in groups organized by wards. Often entire families were re-baptized, but occasionally just a member or two of a particular family was baptized, likely as they felt inspired to do so. This period of reformation also emphasized the doctrine of plural marriage.

Critics of the LDS Church saw polygamy as a lustful practice, but family histories and genealogy records tell a different story. After studying my polygamous ancestors for many years, I look back at this time and see an entire generation of charitable people. Young women expended all they had to get to Utah and then needed a home once they arrived. Older wives, generally, loved these newer wives, taught them household skills, and the women worked together to raise each other’s children in sickness and health while their shared husband worked in business or served a mission. Generally only men in very good standing in the Church, and only those with enough means to support another family, could take a second wife, and this was only done under the direction of the president of the Church. In 1855, Thomas Grover married twenty-four year old Mary Ann Potts, a British convert who had arrived in the valley two years previously. The marriage was solemnized by Brigham Young in the Endowment House but did not work out.

Shortly after the divorce, Mary Ann married a recent British immigrant and raised a large family, dying in Logan in full fellowship in 1905. The concept that young Mormon girls were forced into polygamous marriages against their will was tabloid fodder and is not verified in any records that I have seen.

Late in the summer of 1855, Loduska gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Napoleon. At this time there were seven children in the household. The oldest was sixteen year old Eliza Ann, Thomas’s youngest daughter by his first wife who had died in Nauvoo.

In 1856 the legislature met in Salt Lake City over the summer, amidst flags, banners and celebrations, framing a state constitution and petitioning the US Government for statehood. Thomas was elected to a second term in the legislature later that year. Isaac Haight, who was a representative from Cedar City, wrote that the southern delegates began arriving in Fillmore in December, but no one from the northern counties arrived. On December 7 they learned that forty year old President Grant had died from pneumonia the previous week. By the 8 the Legislature convened and organized themselves, and then they adjourned, agreeing to meet in Salt Lake City so Brigham Young, who was also in difficult health at that time, could attend. Isaac wrote, “December 30 , 1856: Both houses met in joint session and Prest. Kimball required every member to repent of all their sins and be baptized for the remission of the same before any business could be done. Preparations were then made and all the members repaired to the Endowment House and were baptized in the font, and were confirmed and all were made to rejoice with gladness unspeakable.” The session lasted into January. On January 6 , Brother Haight wrote, “The remainder of the session was passed in doing much business and in preaching reformation.”

Concerning this period son Thomas later wrote, “During the winter of ‘56, Father was in the Legislature which sat in Fillmore. William Simmons and I gathered the stock from the range. In the spring, we drove them to American Fork to get feed.” Thomas would have been about twelve at this time. William Simmons was married to Thomas Jr.’s sisters Mary Elizabeth and Eliza.

Thomas served two more terms during the ninth and eleventh sessions, held in the winters of 1860 and 1862. By this time the legislature had officially moved to Salt Lake City.

The beginnings of the hand cart companies and the arrival of Emma and Elizabeth Walker

Only one year after President Brigham Young had permanently settled in the Salt Lake Valley, he began devising ways to bring European converts to Zion. In 1849 the Perpetual Emigration Fund was established. Those already in the valley donated to the fund, the monies of which were used in the form of loans to finance ocean voyages, wagons and oxen. Church agents were placed in strategic locations, such as in Liverpool, New Orleans, New York City, Boston and Philadelphia to organize and assist the immigrants. Ships leaving Liverpool were stocked with canvas so passengers could sew wagon covers and tents during their voyage. Agents were also placed in outfitting stations in the mid-west to assist and organize the overland travel. Foodstuffs and wagon-building supplies were gathered by the agents in many places, including launching posts in Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas, so the new arrivals could be moved to the Utah Territory as quickly as possible. Ports along the east coast were varied to see if costs could be trimmed or more healthful conditions could be found. The European converts were encouraged to travel with a minimum of luggage, as transporting personal items only increased the costs.

In 1856, Brigham Young acted on a plan he had been contemplating for some time. At this point, pioneers from the valley had been going back and forth across the plains for nine years and President Young had personally crossed three times. He saw children running alongside the wagons and observed that the slow speed of the wagons determined the travel time for the entire company. He devised a plan for building handcarts that could be pushed by men and women instead of pulled by lumbering oxen. The handcarts’ wheel span would match that of the wagons so they could travel along the same routes the pioneers had been using.

In 1855 President Young sent a letter to his son-in-law, thirty-six year old Edmund Ellsworth, who was about to complete his three year mission in England. President Young asked Edmund if he would be willing to lead a company of handcart pioneers across the plains. Elder Ellsworth had dreamed about this request before the letter arrived and had discussed the idea with his mission president who had encouraged him to record the dream in his journal. Edmund departed Liverpool on the ship Enoch Train in March of 1856 with over five hundred LDS converts, serving as a counselor in the ship presidency. Other elders were on this ship, heading home at the conclusion of their missions. One had served in Bombay, then part of the East India mission; another had served in Gibralter. Nine other elders who were returning had served in the British Mission. Many of the passengers had borrowed from the PEF. On the ship were three particular young women, twenty-two year old Emma Walker, traveling with her older sister; fifteen year old Elizabeth Walker (unrelated to Emma) who traveled with her mother and step-father, and nineteen year old Mary Ann Jones who seems to have traveled without any family at all.

Enoch Train docked at the port of Boston after a six week passage across the Atlantic. The passengers were met by nine large two-story omnibuses pulled by horses which carried them to the train station, where they quickly traveled to New York City. The Boston route was chosen because it avoided a surcharge the Church emigration agents had been paying when ships docked at the New York port. Once in NYC, the immigrants boarded boxcars, sitting on their luggage for ten days until they reached Iowa City, a thousand mile journey.

Less than a month later, after the immigrant men built handcarts, Edmund Ellsworth’s company was the first to leave the outpost. He led about three hundred saints across the plains, including Mary Ann Jones and Elizabeth and Emma Walker. While we might imagine the plains were lonely, in fact they often stopped for supplies and repairs. Compassionate citizens of nearby towns often appealed to the weary travelers, offering them a place to stay and work if they would drop out of the handcart company.

Young Elizabeth Walker later told her children that she feared being trampled to death by the bison herds and believed the beasts were miraculously turned away by God. She also told of messages left by preceding companies on the skulls of buffalo heads telling them where the road was better or where the grass was taller. Elizabeth also told an account of seeing some beautiful flowers in the midst of the desert grasses. She had just come up out of the Platte River, which she said she crossed sixteen times, with her shoes in her hands. Thinking only about gathering the flowers, she walked to the flowers, unaware of the thorns she would encounter until it was too late.

The trek was deemed a success, although it was quite difficult and there were problems with some of the handcarts breaking down. Upon their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley at the end of September, 1856, these pioneers were met in the city square with a brass band. President Young and his counselor Heber C. Kimball were on hand to greet and speak to the exhausted immigrants.

President Young shared a secret, that “while those brethren and sisters were faltering, and did not know whether to stop or go along, there was faith in this valley that bound them to that journey.”

Thomas marries Emma Walker and Elizabeth Walker

These pioneers arrived in the midst of the sermons of the reformation. Perhaps Brother Ellsworth, remembering his fellow ferryman at the Platte River, sought out Thomas Grover to provide a home for Emma Walker. However, President Young was also well acquainted with Brother Grover. Thomas married Emma just a month after her arrival in the valley. Edmund, already the husband of two wives, married Mary Ann Jones in November. Elizabeth Walker’s step-father died in December of that year, and Thomas married Elizabeth early the next year, perhaps with Emma Walker mediating in an attempt to assist her traveling companion. Thomas Grover also paid Elizabeth’s PEF debt. Thomas’s mission assignment was changed at this time from Tooele to the Davis Stake so he could be closer to home. Endowment House records show that Thomas also married seventeen year old Cynthia Amorette Allen shortly after he married Emma. Amorette had been in the valley for three years since crossing the plains with her widowed mother and a younger brother. This sealing was canceled by Brigham Young the next year. It appears that Amorette did not live in the Grover home for very long.

The record for Thomas and Elizabeth states their marriage occurred at 3 pm on the 24 of January, 1857, in President Young’s second story office in the Endowment House. This building was a two story adobe structure built in Temple Square where the north visitor’s center now stands. Brigham Young directed its construction, intending it to be a temporary structure for some ordinances until the Salt Lake Temple could be completed. Construction of the Salt Lake Temple was begun in 1853, not far from the Endowment House. Interestingly, Elizabeth did not receive her endowment until March, when she was again sealed to Thomas Grover. This was true of Emma, also. Endowment House records show a similar pattern with several of Thomas’s young wives. They were initially sealed to Thomas, but then a few weeks or months later they received their endowment and were sealed again. Endowment House records show that Mary Ann Potts was married to Thomas in 1855, but she was not endowed until 1879, when she was sealed to her second husband. It is logical to assume that Brigham Young married these women to Thomas (likely following a pattern for other polygamous marriages) for some kind of a trial period. If the young woman chose to stay in the marriage, they could make further covenants. Certainly President Young did not want unmarried women sharing the home, but it shouldn’t be assumed that these young women assumed the full role of a wife the day they stepped in the door. Obviously, dating was out of the question, and this seems to have been a viable method for the couple to get to know each other better.

Hannah Tupper Grover had suffered greatly in the previous five years. In those five years, six children had been born to her, all of whom died at birth. In December of 1856, Hannah gave birth to a healthy baby girl whom she named Pauline. Certainly, the joy brought to everyone by this baby’s survival was incalculable. Also, during this year Thomas’s youngest surviving daughter by his first wife, Eliza Ann, entered into a polygamous relationship, marrying William Simmons, the husband of her older sister Mary Elizabeth. By the end of 1856, Thomas had five children at home, three wives, with a fourth wife, Elizabeth, (she is often referred to in family histories as Lizzie) joining the household in January of 1857.

One family history indicated that in the beginning, Emma and Elizabeth were treated more like daughters of the older wives and less like equals. Perhaps this is not unlike the pattern established in other polygamous households. Elizabeth had two children of her own before a private apartment was made for her upstairs where she lived until 1879. Elizabeth’s mother married a widower and lived in Farmington, raising his children. Emma’s older sister also married into a polygamous marriage, but was very unhappy. She left this marriage, later marrying a man who adopted her young daughter and they had eight children together.

1857 – the Utah War

In 1857, tremendous persecution at the national level was aimed at the Mormons. President James Buchanan had been elected the previous year on a platform of exterminating “the twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery.” He chose to believe unreliable sources who convinced him the Mormons were plotting against the United States. He sent a large army to Utah to quell what he called a rebellion. Brigham Young received unofficial word of this when the US contracts for two LDS mail carriers, Porter Rockwell and Abraham O. Smoot, were cancelled. The men headed straight for Utah and informed President Young that an army was on its way. They arrived at the close of the July 24 Pioneer Day celebration in Cottonwood Canyon. The Mormons, who of course by this time had been forced from Ohio, Missouri and Illinois, believed the army was coming to exterminate them.

Brigham Young was not taken by surprise. He had anticipated the worst and was already planning for an evacuation. Because he had not been officially notified of the approaching army, he regarded the military as an armed mob and declared martial law in the territory. President Young had personally visited surrounding areas with an evacuation and perhaps colonization in mind. He had considered the Bear River Valley, on the northern border of Utah, as an option, but instead settled on the area near the Provo river bottoms, fifty miles south of Salt Lake City, and the communities a little further south in the Utah Valley. Indian tribes in the area had prevented the 1847 pioneers from settling here, but gradually the settlers moved south and the natives moved out.

During 1857, at President Young’s direction, the Mormon settlers began gathering wheat and feed for their cattle and animals. The Davis County militia drilled its members and Farmington became the scene of many military parades. All missionaries world wide were recalled. A large wagon train of over a thousand LDS settlers heading for Nevada received word to turn around. They hurried to return to Utah before snow fell on the mountains. Many settlers and missionaries were called to return from California, including George Q. Cannon and his young family, and apostles Ezra T. Benson and Orson Pratt. Records indicate that Jane Grover Stewart and her family also returned to Utah from California at this time, settling in Farmington after the war.

Beginning in September of 1857 the Nauvoo Legion, under the direction of Nauvoo Legion Major and apostle Daniel H. Wells, began a type of guerilla warfare against the approaching troops. They burned Fort Bridger in Wyoming to prevent its use by the army. They burned the grass on all routes into Utah. They blocked roads and fords through streams. In a three day period, three Army supply trains following the main army were burned by LDS horsemen led by Lot Smith, a former battalion member, although no federal troops were ever injured. Thirteenyear-old Thomas, son of Thomas Grover, was with Lot Smith at this time. Over one thousand head of cattle and additional horses accompanying the supply train were “liberated” by the Mormons through stampedes. A thousand LDS men, raised up by bishops from wards throughout Utah, were placed in Echo Canyon (thirty miles north of Park City), to prevent any federal troops from approaching Salt Lake Valley. One of the soldiers was Thomas Grover’s son-in-law, William A. Simmons.

William was the victim of an unnecessary tragedy which haunted his fellow soldiers until their deaths. William was standing guard on a high ledge. A few men in his company were examining a new rifle with a range and accuracy reportedly much better than the guns to which they were accustomed. The specifics of the gun were doubted, and a soldier took aim at William who was four hundred yards away. Unfortunately, the bullet hit its mark, killing William, the only casualty suffered in Echo Canyon. He left four children by his wife Mary Elizabeth, and a fifth child was born the next spring. His other wife, Eliza Ann, was the new mother of a baby girl. Certainly this tragedy brought tremendous grief to not only the Grover family but to all the Mormons in Utah.

By November the US Army, stalled by heavy snows, decided to wait out the winter in Wyoming. Thomas L. Kane, the military officer who had previously assisted the Mormons, received President Buchanan’s blessing to negotiate with Brigham Young. Rather than cross the plains and meet up with the army, Captain Kane traveled by ship via the Panama Canal, docking in California and traveling overland to Utah. In Washington County in 1858, Isaac Haight wrote, “February 18 , Held a meeting of the citizens, at which some spirited resolutions were adopted expressing in the strongest terms their approbation of the course pursued by Governor Young and Legislative Assembly. Just as we were about to close the meeting Elder Amasa Lyman came and wished me to return home with him, as Col. Kane would be at my house on his way to Salt Lake City on business of importance. We started about 3 o’clock P.M. and arrived at Harmony about 12 o’clock at night, Bro. Lyman was much wearied. 20 Arrived at home about 11 o’clock A. M. Found Col. Kane very anxious to proceed on his journey. I went with Bro. [John] Higbee to Parowan to obtain a team of mules to take him to Salt Lake City. 21 : Started with Bro. Lyman and Col Kane to Parowan. Saw them safe off. . . . He also wished me to be one of the company.

meeting with President Young in February of 1858. [Kane] was able to convince Brigham to step down as governor and accept a new governor, federally appointed Albert Cummings, who was wintering in Wyoming with the army.”

In the middle of all that was going on with the federal troops, a three year old LDS colony in the Salmon River Mission in Idaho suffered a deadly attack by the Lemhi natives. Brigham Young had called over fifty men to proselyte among the Indians in this area. Fifteen missionaries were from Farmington and traveled four hundred miles north to help settle this new colony. President Young wanted the men to encourage the Indians to give up their nomadic lifestyle and begin farming. In addition to missionary work, the men caught and dried fish, shipping it back to Utah in barrels from their colony. President Young, with Bishop Elias Blackburn of Provo, had spent several weeks in the spring of 1857 in the Salmon River colony, inspecting its progress and considering if the area could be used for an evacuation if his fears for a war were realized. It was at this time when he also visited the Bear River Valley. He also requested Isaac Haight to send men into the Nevada desert in search of good locations for an evacuation.

While many of the natives in the Salmon River area were friendly to the Mormons and there were a few baptisms, the colonists were attacked in early 1858 by over two hundred and fifty natives who claimed the fort interfered with their traditional pasture lands. Two missionaries from Farmington were killed and five were wounded. When Brigham Young received word of the massacre, he called for one hundred and fifty men to aid the colonists in evacuating the area. Part of his reasoning for the evacuation was that he wanted those missionaries back in Utah where they could be of use against the approaching army. Horton Haight (Hector’s son) led the rescue party and Thomas Grover sent a man with this group, donating a horse, pack animal and provisions to help with the return of the survivors. The rescue party and missionaries arrived to find their families and neighbors making preparations to evacuate Farmington. The move south, directed by President Young, began in March of 1858 with the Salt Lake City residents. This was a very organized move; there was nothing random about any part of it.

Church records and even the press for the Deseret News were removed to Fillmore by Isaac Haight. President Young wrote Elias Blackburn in Provo saying, “I design to soon begin to move my family, provisions, stoves, musical instruments, and such other articles as may be needed and cannot be saved in caches, as far as Provo, and I would like to have you secure me [a place] where I can shelter my family and some storerooms for my property. You may wish to know how much room I may need: from ten square feet to half of your city, I am not particular.”

Thirty-thousand men, women, children and their cattle from the northern counties traveled along the east side of the Jordan River, which flows into the Great Salt Lake from Utah Lake. Utah County residents, at the request of Brigham Young, had provided crews of men to work on improving the single dirt road from Ogden to Nephi to expedite the evacuation. Wards from Provo to Cedar City sent wagons, teams and drivers to the northern counties to assist.

Farmington residents did not get their turn to leave until May, which allowed them to pass through Salt Lake City with room to camp at night and not run into Salt Lake residents on the roads. Being warned of a possible move of some sort since the previous year, many held onto their surplus harvests, burying their grain in pits dug on their property, along with their furniture and other belongings. Under the direction of Edmund Ellsworth, twenty thousand bushels of tithing wheat were ground, packed in special wooden boxes, and moved to Provo. When Governor Cummings arrived in early April, and after having refused an army escort into Salt Lake City, he saw upwards of eight hundred wagons on the road. He soon realized the charges of rebellion laid by President Buchanan were false and he begged the people to cease their evacuation. President Young said that until the federal troops were withdrawn, the people would continue to move.

Many back in the States wondered how Brigham Young could command such loyalty, but to the saints in the territory of Utah, Brigham Young had participated in Zions march with Joseph Smith in 1834 and twelve years later had led the exodus from Nauvoo. Now, again twelve years later, he was leading them to safety. He had earned their trust, not by sitting back comfortably in his chair, but by leaving with them and enduring their same hardships. As President Young moved his large household to Provo, the sandstone foundation of the temple was covered with dirt so as to resemble a plowed field. Homes were filled with straw and leaves so they could be burned.

Lot Smith remained behind in Farmington to ignite the fires so the troops would only find scorched earth. Son Thomas later wrote, “Father and I made a number of trips to American Fork, taking flour and other things we didn’t want to destroy as we expected to have to burn every thing up that we left.”

The bishop of one of the Davis County wards, Bishop Hess, left Farmington early to select a site for his ward. Provo had been settled in the late 1840s, about the same time as Farmington, with the settlements further south of Provo being settled in short order. Provo residents, who had planted extra wheat in anticipation of the influx, took in as many of the evacuees as possible and allowed them to camp on their farms and properties. Bishop Hess chose a campsite near Willow Creek, forty miles south of Provo in Juab County, outside Mona. Juab County was newly settled, with less than a thousand inhabitants in the entire county. Because the communities this far south were sparsely inhabited, they could easily absorb the late arriving evacuees who did not have relatives or friends in Utah Valley to take them in. Families followed Bishop Hess and other Church leaders with their wagons loaded with what they anticipated they would need for a long evacuation.

Cattle herds belonging to Farmington Ward members were taken to Salt Creek near the walled city of Nephi. Thomas and his family, which by this time included two infants, moved south in May with everyone else, with eleven-year-old Thomas driving one of the wagons. Emma and Elizabeth had given birth to their first babies, both daughters, earlier that year. Lucy, a child of nine, remembered her mother Loduska crying as she left her home. Thomas’s family at that time included himself, four wives, six young children besides the infants, plus his widowed daughters Mary Elizabeth and Eliza Ann and their six children. Not all the Farmington families camped outside Mona. They were spread out with the other evacuees along the forty mile stretch between the Provo river bottoms and Nephi. Son Thomas wrote that his father’s family camped on the Provo river bottoms north of the Provo River.

President Young took advantage of the sudden influx of men in Utah Valley and initiated several public works projects during the summer of 1858. One was to build a fourteen mile toll road through Provo Canyon to the Heber Valley which previously could only be traveled by horseback. The men were paid, some in cash and some in property.

The evacuation had a profound effect on Governor Cummings, who resisted attempts by the military leader Sidney Johnston to show force. By mid-June a settlement had been reached, with US peace envoys traveling to Provo to speak directly to the people. Settlers immediately sent individuals ahead to their northern farms to water crops. Once the army had moved south along the road and settled in their camp in Cedar Valley, (about fifteen miles west of Lehi), which took several weeks, President Young allowed families to begin the week long (or more) journey home along the same route, preventing any interaction and avoiding any problems with the military. Later, when wagons for the military passed through Provo Canyon to supply the army in Cedar Valley, about $20,000 was collected in tolls.132

The compromise reached by the new Governor Cummings and President Young didn’t satisfy either side very much. President Buchanan pardoned the Mormons, although Brigham Young insisted that the Mormons had never rebelled. President Young, who had resisted this from the outset, finally allowed the troops to be stationed at Camp Floyd, west of Utah Lake. Most of the families began returning to their homes in July of 1858. Son Thomas wrote that his father’s families were among the first to leave. Shortly after they returned, Elizabeth Walker Grover’s mother’s husband died, leaving her a widow for the third time.

When the stone base of the Salt Lake Temple was uncovered, the workers discovered the sandstone had cracked. The foundation was rebuilt using granite from Little Cottonwood Canyon. The next year Thomas Grover provided twenty-five oxen which were used in constructing a canal to float the granite twenty miles from the canyon to the temple site.

In the fall of 1858, Thomas Grover wrote a letter to President Young from Farmington beginning with, “I thought it proper to intrude on you for a moment. Bro. Wm. Simmons being killed in Echo Canyon has made an addition of eight to my family, that, with the result of the war has left me without a horse or the first beef creature and I have not succeeded in raising the first vegetables this season. Nevertheless, I feel well and happy in the Kingdom of God.” He continued in the letter to explain that there had been an arrangement for all the Farmington residents to pool their cattle, and he currently did not have access to his animals. It is likely that the cattle had not yet been returned from Salt Creek where they had been grazing during the evacuation. Thomas asked for assistance until the next harvest and signed his letter, “As ever, your brother in the Gospel, Thomas Grover.”

Both Eliza Ann and Mary Elizabeth remarried in 1860 and had large families. In 1861 they and their sister Caroline, and their respective husbands Wyman Parker, David Robison and John Heath, pioneered the new community of Morgan, just over the mountain from Farmington. Since travelers crossing the plains often chose to enter the valley through Echo Canyon, the site of Morgan became the first town they would encounter before following the natural valley to Uintah before reaching the communities north and south along the Wasatch Front.

1860s in Utah Territory and the city of Farmington

By 1860 the population of the territory had quadrupled over the last decade. The number of 135 foreign converts had increased by twenty percent due to the extensive missionary work under Brigham Young’s direction. With the nation on the verge of a civil war, emigration would slow, but not cease. Anticipation of the war, in fact, motivated many members of the Church in the east and mid-west to migrate while they felt it was safe. The fall of that year young Thomas drove a wagon loaded with grain to Fort Bridger, presumably so that wheat would be available for the companies heading west. After the grain was unloaded, he and his fellow drivers drove south along the Black Fork River for twelve miles, where army wagons had been deserted during the Utah War. Thomas wrote, “We went after some of them, and when we got about half way there, it began to snow, but we went on down and got six of the wagons, and back to where we camped the night before. We stayed there two days and nights. It snowed and blowed from the north all the time. When we left camp, the snow was four feet deep, and we were one hundred miles from home, and it was the last of November and not a house between Fort Bridger and home. While we lay there in the snow, I passed my fifteenth birthday. We had a long trip home, but we got there all right.”

In 1860, Elizabeth Walker Grover’s mother remarried a newly arrived British convert ten years her junior. They went as pioneers to Logan, which had just been established, where her new husband’s brother-in-law became mayor. In 1861, Brigham Young, continually looking for faster and safer ways to move the immigrants, especially in light of the potential of a civil war, began sending fully stocked wagons from Utah to meet the immigrants at the Missouri River. Each year Thomas Grover sent a driver, wagon and a yoke of oxen as part of this program. That first year Thomas’s own son, sixteen year old Thomas, was experienced enough to be a teamster. Young Thomas later wrote about that first trip, “Joseph Horn was our captain. [His son] and I were the two kids of our company. We had a jolly time.”

Also in 1861, a site was selected for the first LDS chapel in Farmington between the Grover Mansion and Hector Haight’s hotel, with Thomas donating half of the land, housing workers and providing room and board for them. About one hundred and sixty families in the area assisted and contributed to the building’s construction, hauling rocks, sand and gravel from the foothills and bringing in large timbers from the canyon. The building was constructed from the local rock that was used in so many of the buildings in the area. The building cost $15,000 and except for $500, was completely paid for at the time of its dedication. The original building could seat four hundred people on log benches. It is still in use by three wards, although there has been a major addition from the same rock and many renovations. The rock is currently known as “Farmington Rock” and is commonly used in structures in the area, even today. In 1878, the first Primary meeting for the LDS Church was held in this chapel.

In 1862, sixteen-year-old Thomas was sent by his father to drive five yoke of oxen thirty miles from Farmington to Big Cottonwood Canyon, where rock for the Salt Lake Temple was being quarried. Young Thomas remembered that they hauled a rock, “that weighed eleven thousand pounds.” His autobiography is replete with many stories of the hauling and freighting he accomplished as a young man and include his learning to rub camphor on his bedding to prevent lice from seeing him as a desirable habitat. Opportunities for hard work were abundant in the growing settlements.

Thomas was in Cedar City, about two hundred and sixty miles south of Farmington, during March of 1862, shortly after the close of the eleventh session of the Utah Territorial Legislature. The Deseret News had printed many articles about the iron projects in southern Utah. One problem the foundries encountered was making iron hard enough to be useful. Isaac Haight was very involved with this. Thomas, seeing and commenting on these articles, wrote a lengthy letter to Brigham Young, sharing his expertise in this field. The letter is filled with information about types of coal and the pressure needed to heat it properly. It is possible, because of his interest in this, that he had traveled to Cedar City specifically to see the foundry. During the first portion of his life, he would have become very familiar with coal and furnaces, since coal was used to power the vessels on the rivers and lakes in the Northeast.

In the early sixties, an apostate group led by Joseph Morris holed up in the mouth of Weber Canyon, about twelve miles north of Farmington, drawing followers and accusing Brigham Young and other leaders of being fallen prophets. In 1862, a dispute broke out among the Morrisites, and three of the followers who had tried to leave were held prisoner. United States deputy marshals ordered Robert T. Burton, a commander in the territorial militia, to take a posse to free the prisoners and arrest Morris and his followers. Seventeen year old Thomas Grover was a member of this posse. A battle ensued in which two members of the posse were killed, in addition to Joseph Morris and several of his followers.

In 1862, at the end of his fourth term as legislator, Thomas was elected by the legislature to be the probate judge in Davis County, a position he held for two years. In 1863 he changed the water master system, appointing each ward bishop to be the water master in his community. He allowed the bishops to appoint local water masters.

Attacks against polygamy were slowly building momentum. In 1862, the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Law was passed by the US House and Senate and then signed by Abraham Lincoln. However, the law had no funds to support it. After the signing of this bill, President Lincoln was asked what course of action he intended to pursue concerning the Mormons. He replied, “When I was a boy on the farm in Illinois, there was a great deal of timber on the farms which we had to clear away. Occasionally we would come to a log which had fallen down. It was too hard to split, too wet to burn and too heavy to move, so we plowed around it. That’s what I intend to do with the Mormons.”

By 1864, the communities north of Salt Lake City were growing. They needed and welcomed visits from Church leaders. The gracious home of Thomas Grover was a frequent stopping place for general authorities. His home was often called “The Inn,” and also the “Halfway House,” being midpoint between Salt Lake City and Ogden. It is known that apostles Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, George Albert Smith, Francis M. Lyman, George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith occasionally stayed overnight in the Grover home as they traveled to the northern cities.

In 1864 Brigham Young stayed with Thomas. The east winds through the canyons could be quite severe and President Young’s carriage was overturned. At that time he rebuked the wind, which subsided, allowing them to continue on their journey. Church leaders traveling south from Ogden to Salt Lake City also stayed with the Grovers. Thomas’s wife Loduska was known to be a good cook, and certainly that was part of the appeal of staying overnight in the Grover home.

Granddaughter Lucy wrote, “The Prophet Joseph gave Grandfather his sword and when the above gentlemen would come they took this sword from the wall and said in the words of the Prophet, ‘This people shall be free or my blood will be spilt on the ground like water and my body consigned to the silent tomb.’” Lucy believed these words “were some the Prophet uttered in his last public address.”

At this point in time, Thomas’s wife Elizabeth’s brother, Walter Walker, emigrated from England with his young family and settled in Farmington. He became one of the earliest postmasters, often taking the mail by foot over the mountain to the Morgan settlement. This year son Thomas bought a farm in Morgan near his sisters.

In 1864, tragedy again struck the Grover family. The sixteen year old daughter of Hannah, named after her mother, married a sixteen year old British immigrant, James Potts, who, interestingly, appears to have been the younger brother of Mary Ann Potts. One month later, young Hannah was dead. Hannah’s brother Joel later made note of the date but did not include any details. This death left Hannah Tupper Grover with four living children: nineteen year old Thomas who married the following year, fourteen year old Joel, seven year old Pauline, and two year old Jeddy.  Hannah was the ninth child her mother had buried. In the next three years Hannah Tupper Grover gave birth to two more children who died at birth.

Loduska by this time had five living children: sixteen year old Lucy, thirteen year old Jacob, nine year old Napoleon, five year old Eddy and three year old Donna. Loduska had buried a child in Iowa, and would later bury Donna at age eight, followed by the death of an infant son a few months afterwards.

Emma Walker Grover had three living children but buried two others during this period.

Elizabeth Walker Grover had lost two daughters, one to an accidental death at age five (a half sister remembered that she ate poisoned grain), and the other at birth. Elizabeth’s son Walter, named after her brother, was a young boy and she gave birth to a baby girl the next year. In summarizing Thomas’s posterity at this period ending in 1866, his daughters by his first wife Caroline were married with growing families. Jane and Emeline had lived in the Mormon colony of San Bernardino in California but had returned to Utah by this time, each with seven children and more to come. Emeline’s husband, Apostle Charles Rich, was called to colonize the new community of Paris, Idaho, in the Bear River Valley, taking his six wives there. Adaline, who with her husband had also lived in San Bernardino, returned and also settled in Paris. She had five children by this time. Mary Elizabeth had nine children but lost four in a few months, likely of disease. At this time Caroline had four children. Eliza Ann had four children but had buried three of them. She later had eight more children.

Thomas had two surviving children by his second wife Caroline Nickerson. Daughter Percia settled in Provo, ultimately having twelve children, only five of whom survived to adulthood. Son Marshall settled in Idaho, having ten children who survived, although by 1866 he hadn’t yet married.

In general conference of 1866, Heber C. Kimball announced the call of Joel Grover to serve as a missionary in Europe. Because of the frequent visitors from Salt Lake City in his Farmington home, Joel was well known by Church leaders. President Kimball had seen Joel in Salt Lake City the day before conference and had spoken with him about a mission, or rather, informed him.

Joel was Thomas’s first son to serve a mission and certainly Thomas was filled with pride for him.  Thomas supported Joel by sending him money. In October the next year Thomas wrote a note to Brigham Young saying, “If you please, I want the worth of it in English currency put into the hands of Joel Grover my son that is in England to purchase him winter clothing. He received the money you sent him before all right. Should you make the address the same it will reach him.”

By the end of 1867, when Thomas was sixty, the numbers concerning his family are startling to me. Thomas had married seven women with whom he had children. One of those wives was deceased and two had left him. It appears he never saw the child by Betsy Foote. It’s hard to say if he had contact with Percia and Marshall. Marshall, in 1872, named his oldest son after his father, which is an encouraging sign, and Marshall used the Grover name, not his step-father’s name. Thomas had fathered forty-four children by this time and nineteen of those, a third, were deceased. He had buried a son-in-law under tragic conditions. He was also the grandfather of sixty-one children, and one fifth of those were deceased (thirteen). This is a man who saw tremendous sorrow and grief. However, even at this time his wives were still having children, which surely brought him great joy.

The next year Thomas’s son Thomas, by then married and a young father, was called by Joseph W. Young to serve a colonizing mission in “The Muddy,” a bleak settlement south of St. George along the Muddy River in what is now Nevada. Loduska’s daughter Lucy and her husband David Sanders were also called to this mission.

Thomas later wrote that on their way to their new home, the natives stole eighteen of their mules and horses. Four men tracked them on foot, but they were never recovered. He wrote, “When we got there, we couldn’t buy anything to eat. We had money, but the people didn’t have anything to sell. We had some bread along with us, [but] we went quite slim. The first summer my brother-in-law, Dave Saunders . . . and myself took a field of grain to harvest for two and one half bushels per acre. David Saunders swung the cradle and cut the grain and I raked and bound it and kept up with him. We cut and shocked two acres a day. I had taken a cow with us, and Dave and I divided up the milk. He would milk her once a day and me the next time, and we dried peaches which the girls made pie of for our dinner, and then Dave and I had bread and water for supper and breakfast. After the harvest was over, I got a job on a molasses press and then got some molasses, and then we were alright for we had plenty of bread and molasses.

“The next thing was to get a house to live in. We lived in a tent the first summer. One of my neighbors was going north and I told him when he came back to bring me a stone hammer and a trowel. While he was north I made the dobies for me a house and him a house. When he got back we put up my house and then we put up his. We covered our houses with flags or cat tails and then covered them with mud to keep the sand out, and we had dirt floors. Next I wanted some lumber and it was worth two hundred dollars per thousand, so I bought a whip saw for thirty dollars and went to sawing lumber. One of my neighbors went in with me on the saw, and then we went to the timber mountain to get logs, and I brought back two logs that sawed four hundred feet of lumber. I had a few small logs and I made a pit and then we went to whip sawing lumber. When our neighbors saw us sawing lumber they went to the timber mountain and got logs for us, and they kept us sawing for a long time. We were there two summers and three winter.”

Disputes with the state of Nevada over this land caused Brigham Young to recall these pioneers. Eventually Thomas settled in Morgan where his older half-sisters lived after working on the Union Pacific Railroad. Lucy and her husband returned to Farmington. Also in 1868 the first Relief Society was organized in Farmington. Thomas’s wife Hannah was called to be a counselor in the presidency. It was the responsibility of the Relief Society to make burial clothing and line the coffins. They typically sat all night with the deceased, reportedly wiping the face of the body every hour with saltpeter to protect it from cats.

In 1869, after the transcontinental railroad was completed, work began on the Utah Central Railroad on the west side of Farmington. By the next year, a train line from Ogden to Salt Lake City was built, facilitating immigration and missionary work. The UCR had lines that connected through Farmington and Logan, making it possible for Elizabeth to take the train to see her mother in Logan.

In another major event that year, the Utah Territorial Legislature gave women the right to vote, the first in the nation. Anti-polygamy entities were thrilled, believing this would bring the end of polygamy once Utah women had their own say in politics. The movement to give Utah women the right to vote originated out of Utah, but Brigham Young did nothing to oppose it, believing that the national image of Utah women being downtrodden would change once this law passed.

1870s brought happiness and sadness

When son Joel returned from his mission, he married Asenath Richards, the daughter of Willard Richards, who had at the time of his death been a counselor to Brigham Young. Asenath had been living in Farmington with her mother and several polygamous wives (widows) of President Richards. Joel wrote that after their wedding in the endowment house, which was performed by Apostle Daniel H. Wells, he and Asenath rode on horseback for two and a half hours in beautiful weather to Farmington where, “We took supper at my new Mother vis Mrs. Richards, there being present my wife’s mother & Sister Alice Ann and my Father, Mother & Aunt Lodoska.” Joel’s record of the next few days is interesting. He acquired a job as a tax collector and began work.

The following week he wrote, “Saturday 11 Sister Alice Ann spent the day at our house and in the evening my wife and I took supper at Father’s. Got up in honor of our marriage, there being present Asenath’s Mother [and other family members]. Also my father’s family and Bro. Haight, [and other guests]. We had a very agreeable evening beginning with a good, substantial supper at which part I did ample justice and followed by a series of pleasant games in which nearly all took quite an active part.”

The next day Joel wrote, “Tuesday 5 I began cutting Father’s wheat and continued at it more or less all the week, Jacob doing the binding.” Jacob was the eighteen year old son of Loduska. By 1870 Thomas was sixty-three, and having sons help on the farm, especially when they benefitted from the harvest, was very common. At this time the children at home would have been Hannah’s fourteen year old daughter Pauline and her eight year old son Jeddy, (named after Jedediah M. Grant), and three of Loduska’s children. Emma and Elizabeth had eight young children between them.

Joel’s journal gives us brief insights into life in a pioneer community in 1870. He wrote, “Monday 4 day of July. In memory of our Nation’s 94 anniversary of Independence we held it as a day of festivity by forming a procession marching through the principle streets after which we assembled in the meeting house and were well entertained by listening to the reading of the Declaration of Independence. Orations toasts &c. In the afternoon a part of the day’s program was for all to go to ‘Lake Side’ [Great Salt Lake] and have a boat ride.” During these Fourth of July events, Thomas sent one of his sons onto the range for a steer which he then butchered and provided for part of their annual town feast, which was held on Hector Haight’s large farm in Blooming Grove.

In the spring of 1870, Thomas’s wife Hannah, age forty-seven, took a three month trip by train back to New York to visit her family and friends. We learn from Lucy Sanders Hess, Loduska’s granddaughter, that Hannah often corresponded with her friends and relatives in the east, even after having left New York almost thirty years previously. The context of her comment comes in explaining that while Hannah was quite literate, Loduska, the younger daughter, had not been sent to school, and as a result often asked her older sister to write letters for her. At some point Hannah complained about being her scribe, so Loduska taught herself to write. She also began reading Church books and The Deseret News, which had been published each week since 1850, although by 1865 it was published twice weekly. By 1870 there was a telegraph in Farmington, but The Deseret News had been receiving updated news via telegraph for a decade.

Son Joel had been keeping a journal for several years. He mentioned teaching school in the log school house which was constructed when he was an infant. In July of 1870 he wrote, “By the afternoon train from Ogden Mother returned home having been absent on a visit in the States for near three months among her relatives and friends. Her visit seems to have been a success. She brings with her which she obtained for the sum of $40.00 the genealogy of the Tuppers as far back as the fifteenth century at which time they belonged to the aristocracy of England. . . Also she has obtained considerable information of her mother’s predecessors, the Ladd family, and find that they like the Tupper family landed on Plymouth Rock where America was first colonized.

A branch of the Tupper race is still living in England in Sandwich Kent. I visited the Town while on my mission. Her health is tolerable good and she is feeling well and glad to get back among the Saints. Her friends and relatives were all very glad to see her but none of them had any desire to be identified with the Latter-day Saints. This is a visit Mother has long desired to accomplish and I trust may prove of benefit to herself and her departed relatives and friends.”

However, succeeding incidents indicate something happened on this trip. About this time, Hannah became very unhappy and concerned about the salvation of herself and her family, including the other wives and children of her husband. From what is known from stories in other family histories, there were many in that generation who believed that the status of an individual in the Church could somehow affect the salvation of everyone in the family. Daniel H. Wells, by this time an apostle, had known the Grover family well, staying in their home on occasion as he traveled north to speak at conferences. Hetty Smith, a Hannah Tupper Grover biographer of Thomas Grover, examined a letter written by Hannah to Elder Wells, who was ten years her senior. The letter is held by a Wells family member. In this letter, Hannah expressed her concerns and asked that she and her entire family be sealed to Elder Wells. Daniel kindly replied to her letter, encouraging her to stay with her husband saying, “Thomas Grover is as good a man as I am.”

In the fall of 1870, when Thomas learned of this, he wrote Brigham Young the aforementioned letter in which he described the vision he had about Hannah. Perhaps he intended that Brigham Young use his influence to prevent the end of the marriage, but those words are not in the letter.

One year later, Friday November 10 , 1871, twenty-two year old Joel recorded in his journal that he sold some grain and with the profit bought a coat and vest. He then met with President Wells and was ordained a high priest and bishop. He was given the responsibility to preside over the Nephi Ward and made president of the Juab Stake. His journal entry shows his humility by stating that this was an “advancement that I have not sought.”

Calling a priesthood leader to preside over a congregation outside of his locality was not uncommon at this time period. Likely this was considered a mission with an undetermined end. Twenty-four year old Heber J. Grant, for example, was called to be the Tooele stake president in 1880 and commuted there from his home in Salt Lake City twenty-five miles away. At this time the Juab Stake had a population of about eighteen hundred people.

A few days later, Salt Lake Temple records show that Hannah was sealed to Apostle Wells, and for the rest of that day and much of the next, she, Apostle Wells, and her son Thomas acted as proxies in behalf of her deceased ancestors in the Endowment House. Joel does not mention this at all in his journal.

Based on Joel’s next journal entry, we can surmise that when Joel was given the calling to go to Nephi, and his mother took advantage of the situation to leave Thomas. On November the 21 , Joel wrote that his wife “and I bid good-bye to Farmington and with our two teams, Calvin W. Richards [his wife’s twenty year old half-brother] traveled to the City (16 miles) put up for the night,” staying with President Joseph F. Smith. The next day he wrote, “our little company, augmented by Father’s team, [with] Eddy [his 12 year old brother, son of Loduska], as teamster taking Mother, [fifteen year old sister] Pauline and [ten year old brother] Jeddiah who go with me. All started and traveled as far as South Willow Creek (20 Miles) arriving at Bishop Stewart’s about 8 P.M. Cal & I had to go back a couple of miles to help Eddy out of the mud which completed our day’s labor. Mud, Mud no end to it.” Two weeks later Calvin and Eddy returned to Farmington with Thomas’s team. A later journal entry indicates Joel was building a home for his mother.

Son Thomas wrote, “President Daniel H. Wells told me I had better go to Nephi with my brother and make a home there. So I went the next spring after Joel went that summer. I worked at any and everything that offered until thrashing time, and then I went on the thrasher. The next winter I went in with a man on a blacksmith shop and then I went to shoeing horses. I worked in the Joel Grover shop four years, driving on shoes all the time. My mother came to Nephi with us and made a home there.”

Joel’s trip south in 1871 left his father Thomas in a reduced family situation. Thomas had essentially helped his wife Hannah and her children leave his home and move to Nephi. Remaining in Farmington with him was his wife Loduska, who of course was Hannah’s sister, and her two teenage sons, Eddy temporarily being with Joel. At this time wife Emma, age thirty-seven, moved into Hannah’s quarters. Emma had six living children, although about this time her thirteen year old daughter Keturah went to Paris, Idaho, to live with Emeline, who actually hired Keturah to help with her children. Elizabeth, age thirty-two, had two sons and two daughters. There exists a lovely photo of Loduska, Emma and Elizabeth who certainly grew to love each other and their children. Son Thomas moved his family to Nephi the next year, and also in 1872, Pauline married.

Joel’s writings indicate that as early as 1872 a train line was completed from Salt Lake City south to Nephi. He mentions taking the “rail” several times, even up to Farmington. This early north south means of transportation greatly facilitated the travel of general authorities to conferences and dedications. Joel mentions Church leaders by name as they came through Nephi. Some stayed with him overnight; others he met for meetings as they traveled through. Other records indicate his father visited him in Nephi. At some point in these early years. Joel became involved in a freighting and rail company, employing his younger brother Jeddy.

In 1873, Thomas’s oldest daughter Jane, living nearby in Farmington, died a few weeks after giving birth to her eleventh child, a daughter, who also died. Her husband James married the next year but moved his family over the mountain to Morgan. In addition to improvements in infrastructure, culture and entertainment became an important part of life in Utah. The community used the courthouse for a variety of gatherings, including plays and musical events. Those known to have performed in these early productions at this time were Thomas’s daughter Lucy, James Millard’s son John and his wife Keturah Haight, and James’s sister, Cecelia. One of the earliest plays in the courthouse was a comedy entitled Box and Cox about a landlady who secretly rents the same room to two men, one who works in the day and the other who works at night.

Thomas serves a mission

In 1874, when Thomas was sixty-seven, he left Loduska in charge of his household in order to serve a mission in New York and other parts in the east. Loduska’s son Jacob had recently married, settling in Morgan with his half sisters. Her sons Napoleon and Eddy were eighteen and fifteen, old enough to be of great help on the farm. Emma had just given birth to her last child, a son, Albert. She had three other children at home. By this time her daughter Keturah had moved from Emeline’s home in Paris, to Morgan, where she lived with Eliza Ann and her family. Elizabeth had four children, the oldest being Walter, who at fourteen was able to help Napoleon and Eddy with farming chores. Hannah’s sons Thomas and Jeddy had moved to Nephi.

Thomas visited his old home in Whitehall and shared the gospel with his relatives, returning to Farmington in 1875. After Thomas’s return, Loduska’s son Napoleon moved to Nephi to work  for Joel

In 1875, at the age of fifty-two, Hannah was called by Eliza R. Snow to be the president of the first Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association in Juab County where she served for five years. Hannah also taught school in a one room building for eight years. She was known to be especially kind and sympathetic to her students. One child, Hannah Price, told of being given her school teacher’s coat as she prepared to leave the school after a cold front had moved in. In 1880, Hannah served as the president of the Primary Association in Juab County. In 1883 and 1884, Hannah operated a creamery in Ferner Valley, a very small community west of Nephi, from which hundreds of pounds of cheese were shipped to various parts of the state. In 1884 Hannah was called to be a Logan Temple worker where she served for several years until health problems forced her to return to Nephi. In 1888 she served as a temple worker in the Manti Temple after its dedication where she faithfully did work for her own ancestry. In 1890, her son Jeddy’s wife died of diphtheria. She moved to his home in Loa, one hundred miles south of Nephi, and cared for his young son. She died there in 1893 at the age of seventy. Her tombstone reads, “Hannah Grover.” Only three of her fifteen children outlived her.

Once again Thomas is called to be on a high council

The Davis Stake was created in 1877, and Thomas Grover was called to be a member of the high council. This would be his fifth high council calling, the others being in notable places such as Kirtland, Far West, Nauvoo and Salt Lake City. His son Thomas said he was the foreman of the council, a responsibility likely given to him because of his seniority. He held this calling for the rest of his life.

Also in 1877 his son Thomas took a plural wife and eventually had nineteen children. By this time Thomas Grover had six children who were or had lived in polygamous families. His daughter Emeline was living in what appears to have been a very happy arrangement in Paris, Idaho with her husband and five other wives. They worked together and helped with each other’s children.

Emeline’s sisters, Mary Elizabeth and Eliza Ann, both widows of William Simmons, had remarried but were not living in polygamy. Percia lived in Provo and by 1877 she had ten children. Her husband took a plural wife a few years later who named one of her daughters after Percia, evidence of a good relationship. Loduska’s daughter Lucy married in 1868 and in 1873 her husband took a plural wife. They also lived in Farmington.

In 1877 Keturah married William Flint from Farmington. They settled in Morgan. Her brother Jacob, by this time married with a young family, moved to the new settlement of Star Valley, Wyoming.

About 1880, Thomas’s daughter Emeline, who was a practicing midwife in Paris, Idaho, took advantage of a unique opportunity that presented itself. Her brother-in-law, Wyman Parker, had just become president of the first medical college in Utah, which was established by Dr. William Kohler. The college was situated in Morgan where Wyman was bishop. Emeline left Paris, moving to Morgan where her sisters Mary Elizabeth and Eliza lived with their families and also her half-brother Thomas and his wives. Emeline worked closely with Dr. Kohler, visiting the sick with him and learning how to make her own pharmaceuticals, graduating from the medical program in 1882. Her motive, in addition to being better qualified to support her family, was to meet the needs of the Paris community, which had a growing population of about two thousand people, although the larger community of Bear Lake County supported another thousand. After her graduation, Emeline returned home where she worked as a midwife, doctor and even dentist alongside another midwife, Margarette L. Innes. The next year, in 1883, Charles C. Rich suffered a stroke and passed away, leaving five widows, one wife having died 1879.

In 1880, Thomas Grover gave permission for his nineteen year old son Walter to build a home for his mother Elizabeth on the east end of the family farm. With his father’s supervision, Walter chopped logs for the home in the canyon and with a team of oxen took the wood to a sawmill where they were made into beams for the walls and floor. Then, Walter hauled rock from the foothills for the outside walls, the same rock that was used elsewhere in Farmington homes. He mixed sand and clay from the Great Salt Lake for mortar. His father hired a stonemason who built walls two feet thick. Walter made all the shingles and put them in place himself. He also did all of the carpentry. When Elizabeth moved herself and Walter’s three siblings into the home, she exclaimed, “It seems like heaven.” While this remark can be interpreted many ways, it’s obvious Elizabeth was proud of her son and delighted to have a home of her own. Shortly after moving in, she gave birth to her last child, a son named Lafayette. This child, known as Lafe, was the last child born to Thomas Grover, who was seventy-three. Elizabeth was forty-one. By the end of 1880, Thomas Grover had twenty-seven living children and twenty-five children who were deceased. Ten of these children were still living on his farm.

Polygamy and other trials

In 1878, the US Government succeeded in convicting George Reynolds, who had been Brigham Young’s personal secretary, as a polygamist. Brother Reynolds, who had two wives, argued without success that he had committed polygamy with the intention of following his religion.

Hearing of this conviction, George Q. Cannon, Utah Representative to the House said, “Our crime has been: We married women instead of seducing them; we reared children instead of destroying them.” This was a non-subtle reference concerning some of his associates in the House who openly had mistresses.

President Young had died in 1877. The large number of his wives brought tremendous attention to polygamy. The Quorum of the Twelve, under the direction of John Taylor, senior apostle, directed the affairs of the Church. Because President Taylor had six living wives at the time he was sustained as president in 1880, he soon went “underground,” with his apostles, in an attempt to avoid prosecution.

In 1882 the Edmunds-Tucker act was passed, which strengthened the Morrill Anti-Bigamy act of 1862. Utah Territory’s attempts to achieve statehood had not been successful, and this new act dealt a crushing blow to polygamists, declaring polygamy a felony and stating that anyone who even believed in polygamy could not vote. Mormons were outraged because a married man with a mistress could still vote.

In the midst of the turmoil surrounding polygamy, with Thomas watching friends being accused and imprisoned, his thirty year old son Jacob was struck by lightening and killed in Star Valley, leaving a young family. In the next three weeks, a daughter was born to Jacob’s widow, and sadly, Elisabeth, his son Thomas’s wife, died a few hours after giving birth to her seventh child, who also died.

Leaders of the Church were targeted by federal marshals and in 1888 George Q. Cannon, by then a counselor to John Taylor, was fined and imprisoned. As a polygamist, Thomas Grover was targeted by the federal marshals. Family members often recounted an event that occurred after a visit Thomas made to see his sons in Juab County. Thomas was on the train returning to Farmington when US Marshal Frank Dyer boarded the train. The marshals were well known, with children, relatives and others always on the lookout for these men. Thomas’s son Joel, on the train with him, said, “Father, Marshall Dyer is on the train. Shall I introduce you to him?

You might arrange a compromise with him.” Thomas replied, “What? Compromise with the devil? Never!”

Family members often told of another occasion when a marshal arrived at the Grover home with the intention of serving an arrest warrant. The marshal announced at the door that he had a writ to serve. Thomas shouted at him, “Read it. Read it!” The officer fumbled in his pocket for the paper, but his fear of Thomas, a large man, was apparent, and he fled.

A third story involves Joseph Smith’s sword. Loduska answered the door to find a marshal on the porch. Thomas warmly said, “Show him in, show him in!” Thomas was very cordial, asking about his welfare and other polite questions. When the marshal announced that he had come to deliver Thomas to the authorities, Thomas arose and said, “Doiska, get me Brother Joseph’s sword, and watch while I cut this man’s head off!” The marshal quickly departed without making his arrest. Family members appear to have laughed about that story for generations, believing Thomas was incapable of hurting anyone. However, considering Thomas’s faith and devotion to his beliefs, and his altercation with the Deuel brothers, perhaps that shouldn’t be assumed.

In January 1886, the pages of The Deseret News were filled with news concerning the ongoing polygamy trial of Apostle Lorenzo Snow. The origins of the doctrine of polygamy were being discussed in the trial, and some readers were attempting to verify some of the things that were being disputed in court. A reader wrote a letter to Hosea Stout who had been the clerk of the Nauvoo high council to ask if he had been present when Joseph Smith’s statement about polygamy had been read to the high council. Brother Stout responded to the letter, saying he had not been present but Thomas Grover had been, and he was still alive. Thomas Grover was requested to recount that event.

Thomas responded to the request, and his letter appeared in The Deseret News on January 11, 1886. The headline read, “Elder Grover’s Testimony / He Heard The Revelation on Celestial marriage Read Before the High Council in Nauvoo.” Thomas wrote that he did not know of any other member of the Nauvoo high council who was still alive besides himself. He added, “The High Council of Nauvoo was called together by the Prophet Joseph Smith, to know whether they would accept the revelation on celestial marriage or not.” Thomas then named those were present and continued, “Brother Hyrum Smith was called upon to read the revelation. He did so, and after the reading said, ‘Now, you that believe this revelation and go forth and obey the same shall be saved, and you that reject it shall be damned.’ We saw this prediction verified in less than one week. Of the Presidency of the Stake, Wm. Marks and Father Cowles rejected the revelation; of the Council that were present Leonard Sobey rejected it. From that time forward there was a very strong division in the High Council. These three men greatly diminished in spirit day after day, so that there was a great difference in the line of their conduct, which was perceivable to every member that kept the faith. From that time forward we often received instructions from the Prophet as to what was the will of the Lord and how to proceed. After this the Prophet’s life was constantly in danger. Being one of his life guard, I watched his interest and safety up to the time of his death.” Thomas then named each member of the high council, where they died, and if they died in the faith.

All during his late years he seemed to feel that his special mission was to testify to the divine mission of Joseph Smith. Elder Snow served eleven months in prison, and during that period President John Taylor died.

Thomas Grover did not live to witness President Wilford Woodruff issue the manifesto abolishing polygamy in 1890.

In early February 1886, one month after his letter was published in The Deseret News, Thomas attended Church. Of this time Emeline wrote, “He was hale & healthy, not a particle of disease about him, retaining all his faculties and erect in stature.” After the last amen had been spoken, Thomas raised his hand and said, “Wait a minute, Bishop.” He said he could not go home until he had shared his testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the divine calling of Joseph Smith.

Two weeks later he died of pneumonia after having been sick only four days. Emeline said, “He died as a leaf drops from a tree, when perfectly ripe.” Did he ever comprehend what a great man he was? Did he have any idea of the huge posterity he would have? Literally, thousands of his descendants are alive today. At a family reunion in 1902, his daughter Emeline said, “My father was loved by all who knew him. He never spoke evil of anyone; he did not boast, and he did not take honor unto himself. Many times he has divided his last meal with a sufferer. His word was as good as his bond. He could neither be bought nor sold. He was incapable of a little mean or treacherous trick.” In referring to her siblings about something which was obviously important to her, she added, “Not one of his children has apostatized.”

Emeline also recounted some of her father’s personal creeds. He never turned a person from his door hungry. If he were going to be hung, he would go on time. A dollar is due until it is paid; there is no such thing as an outlawed debt.

Sadly, Thomas’s son Joel died of appendicitis a few months after Thomas’s death, leaving a widow and six children. Of Thomas Grover’s fifty-one children, twenty-six were still alive.

At the time of Thomas’s death, he had one hundred and thirty-four grandchildren, thirty-three of whom   had preceded him in death. One hundred were born after his death, the last being born in 1917.

Loduska, who had been completely devoted to Thomas, remained in the Farmington home. She lived twelve more years. In 1900, Loduska got her turn to travel back to New York. She visited her older brother Freeman in Nashua. In 1902 she attended a quarterly conference in Bountiful. Shortly after her return home, she died at the age of seventy-three. Only two of her children outlived her.

Elizabeth Walker Grover remained in her little rock home for several years with her son Lafe. Her daughter Polly wrote that in 1890 she returned to her mother’s home in Farmington to have her first baby. Polly added that a few years later her mother visited her and her husband in Garland, a brand new settlement sixty miles north of Farmington. Elizabeth was so saddened by Polly’s living conditions that she cried. A few years later Elizabeth sold her rock home in Farmington and moved to Logan where she lived with her mother and step-father. Polly recalled that Elizabeth gave her $150 at this time, which she used to buy an organ. Elizabeth’s mother died in 1903, however Elizabeth remained in her step-father’s home until his death in 1911. At that point she moved to Garland to be near Polly, her large family, and her son Walter, who was president of the branch and was also the mayor. He also had a large family. Elizabeth died in 1918 at the age of seventy-eight while visiting her daughter Zeruah in Idaho.

Emma Walker Grover also remained in Farmington after Thomas’s death. In the early 1900s her sons William and Albert moved to Garland. It appears Emma moved to Garland about the same time Elizabeth did. Emma operated a boarding house there. Of Emma’s nine children, five outlived her. Three died young, and her son William died the year before she did after a tragic accident on a ranch where he lost his leg and then died a few weeks later. In 1920 Emma made a last visit to Idaho to visit two of her children and their families, dying there at the age of eightysix.

While this started out to be the story of the life of Thomas Grover, it ended up being a lot more than that. His choices and faith impacted the lives of many individuals. Once he gained a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, he literally never looked back. Through trials and hardship, happiness and grief, he moved forward, blazing new trails of faith, courage and hope.


History of Thomas Grover 1807 – 1886

July 22, 1807 – February 20, 1886

Written by  Margaret Hess Camp and Helen Mar Miller

Incidents in the Life of Thomas Grover

Thomas Grover Sr. was born July 22, 1807, in Whitehall Washington (Cayonga Co.) New York. Captain Thomas Grover, the father died in February in 1807 in Whitehall New York, five months before the birth of his son. Therefore the rearing and teaching of the son was left to his widowed mother.

When the boy was twelve years old he entered a boat on the Erie Canal as a cabin boy and eight years later became the captain of the boat the” Shamrock.”

He married Caroline Whiting, the daughter of Nathaniel Whiting and Mercy Young and while still living at Whitehall their oldest daughter Jane, was born. A little later they moved to Freedom N.Y., where their other children were born. It was at this point that he first heard the gospel and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He set out immediately for Kirtland, Ohio to see the Prophet Joseph Smith.

As he knocked at the door, the Prophet opened it and putting out his hand said, “How do you do Bro. Grover? If ever God sent a man he sent you. I want every dollar of money that you have got.” Grandfather went into the house and they talked over the situation and grandfather told him that he could let him have what money he needed. Brother Joseph then told him to look around and find a place that suited his money would be ready for him. In a short time the place was selected, but when the Prophet offered the money back grandfather said he did not need it, that he had sufficient without it to make the purchase.

From that day the devotion of Thomas Grover to Joseph Smith never wavered. From that day he was a most trustworthy- friend and brother.

Feb.4, 1841 when the Nauvoo Legion was organized with Joseph Smith as Lieut. General, Thomas Grover was chosen as and aid-de-camp on the General’s staff and on January 28, 1842 he was named as one of his body guards.

When Joseph was kidnapped by Wilson and Reynolds, Brother Thomas was one of the number who rescued him, also when he was imprisoned at Rock Island, Brother Grover and Brother Markham effected his release.

He was sent on three missions by the Prophet from 1840 to 1844. While doing missionary work in Michigan, near Kalamazoo, he was warned in a dream to return to at once to Nauvoo. He hesitated about the matter until the warning was repeated three times, when he awakened his companion, Brother Wilson, and they got up and made it a matter of prayer and were told to go at once to Nauvoo. They did so, taking the shortest route possible. They arrived at Carthage just after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum and hurrying forward overtook the company and accompanied them to Nauvoo where grandfather was requested to assist in the preparation of the bodies of the martyred Prophet and Patriarch for burial. During that service at the request of Emma Smith he cut a lock from the Prophet’s hair which she divided with him.

During his lifetime, the Prophet gave a sword to Thomas which has been a precious heirloom in the family and is now in the hall of relics on the State Capitol of Utah.

In October 1840, Bro. Grover’s wife Caroline died leaving six little girls. Feb 20, 1841 he married Caroline Elize Nickerson Hubbard, the widow of Marshall Hubbard. She became the mother of Percia born Dec. 27, 1841 and Marshall born on the 27th of Sept. 1846. This wife Caroline E. Nickerson wrote in her journal that the principle of plural marriage was taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith and that her husband Thomas Grover believed and accepted that law and on Dec.17, 1844, he married Hannah Tupper, as a plural wife. The first child of that union Thomas Jr. was born November 17, 1845 in Nauvoo. In Dec. 1845 they had their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple and their sealings Jan. 20, 1846. Just before they were driven out of Nauvoo he also married Laduska Tupper, a sister of Hannah.

Feb. 8, 1846. This family along with many others left their comfortable homes and started the long trek across Iowa. When they were crossing the Mississippi river on a flatboat, the boat was sunk by a plank being stamped off by the oxen that they were leading behind the wagons. In trying to loosen the oxen grandfather had got off the boat and was down the stream some little distance when he saw only the covers loose and told the folks not to move an inch and not a hair of their heads would be harmed. There were twenty-two souls on the boat and they clung to the bows and not one soul was lost. His wife Hannah held her ten weeks old baby on her shoulder to keep him above the water; and little three year old Percia cried, “Lord, save my little heart”. For four months they travelled in the snow and cold until they reached Mt. Pisgah. They arrived at Winter Quarters July 23, 1846.

Grandfather at once began to prepare for winter. He went down into Missouri and bought a load of fresh pork which he sold for enough cornmeal to last the family all winter. He was appointed butcher for the entire camp and killed and cut up, without any help except that of his own family, one or two beaves everyday besides many hogs.

When the plan came up to organize the first company of Pioneers, grandfather was one of the first ones to join with President Young and help effect that organization. Leaving his family at Winter Quarters to follow with the seasons’ emigration, he himself set out with the pioneer company. Bro. Thomas with the pioneer company, took his full share of the work and also faced the dangers. One day two large male buffalo came up to the camp as if to look it over. Grandfather and Thomas Bullock walked out to within a few rods of them and studied them in their wild life. May 8, Bro W.C.A. Smoot’s horse ran away, it being the second time in a week. President Young and Heber C Kimball rode out to stop them, but Thomas Grover and John Brown set their horses out at full speed and after riding more than a mile right through an immense herd of buffalo, they finally overtook the runaways and brought them back.

When the company came to the Platte River it was necessary to build a ferry to carry the wagons across. Brother Grover was appointed to supervise the construction of this ferry and to take charge of operating the same. He selected his men to go to the timber with him and they got out two large trees, hewed them out canoe fashion and then lashed them together to make the raft. After ferrying the Pioneer Company across, they also took over a large company of Oregon emigrants for which they were paid in provisions that was a great blessing to them. Sufficient food was received to last the entire pioneer company twenty-three days. After this crossing had been successfully made, President Young and his counsellors decided to appoint Thomas Grover and eight other ferrymen and one blacksmith to remain at the ferry and attend to the crossing for the oncoming emigrants as well as the later companies of Latter Day Saints. They remained at the Platte until the water went down and then started back along the trail. They ran out of provisions and had only one skunk in three days, until they met the company with whom their families were traveling and joining with them they arrived in the Valley Oct. 2, 1847 with Charles C. Rich’s Company.

The first winter was spent in Salt Lake, but the following spring,’ they moved up to Duel creek in what is now known as Centerville. That season, grandfather raised three hundred bushels of wheat in spite of the ravaging of the crickets, which the family fought desperately to keep them from eating all the crops.

In the fall of 1846, as he and about thirty others were starting for California, he was asked to use his influence with this company (himself included) to pay for 500 head of Texas cattle which had been bargained for and brought to Utah to keep the Mormons from starvation. This they did by paying four dollars a head for them after the men had earned it in California. At this time President Young also appointed Brother Grover to settle up the accounts and business connected with the saints who came around Cape Horn with ship Brooklyn. This responsibility he also accomplished.

He worked in the gold mines for a year; and during that time he collected $22,000 in gold just from the California members of the Church, and turned it into the tithing fund of the Church. In addition of this, on the return home he was chosen captain for a rich company of Mormons returning to Utah, when by his influence and example the company put into the hands of Church leaders in tithings and loans such contribution of gold dust that President Young putting his hands on Brother Grover’s shoulders said, “Brother Thomas if every Latter Day Saint would do as you have done there would be no need of a tithing among this people.”

In the spring of 1850, grandfather took his family and went back across the plains to Iowa to buy cattle. He returned in 1853 bringing one hundred and fifty cows with him. He was and excellent marksman and thus was able to supply his family with buffalo meat and other wild game during the trip.

After his return he again settled in Farmington; the year of the grasshopper’s destruction he had plowed his land in the fall and during a warm spell in February he planted his wheat. It came on early and was nearly all ready for harvesting before the grasshoppers got so bad while the late grain was nearly all eaten. That season he harvested seven hundred bushels of wheat which would have brought five dollars a bushel on the public market, but grandfather loaned and sold every bushel, except enough for his own family, at the tithing office price of two dollars a bushel.

At this time, Sister Brown, a widow sent her boy to ask Brother Grover to sell her a little flour. Grandfather told his son to fill the boy’s sack. The boy asked how much a whole sack of flour cost for he had only a little money, to which grandfather replied, “I do not sell flour to widows and fatherless children.” The flour was put upon the wagon and the happy boy drove away in tears.

When the Hand Cart Companies came into the valley in 1856, two girls, Emma and Elizabeth Walker were with them. Although both were named Walker they were not relatives. Both of these girls were married to Thomas Grover within a few months after their arrival and both reared large families.

Brother Grover served three-terms in the Utah Legislature. He was Probate Judge of Davis Co.

He contributed 25 young cows-toward the construction of the canal in Cottonwood canyon for the purpose of transporting the granite for the Salt Lake Temple. During the winter of 1856, he lost five thousand dollar’s worth of cattle.

In 1861 when the Perpetual Emigration Fund was established, he sent a driver and wagon and a yoke of oxen back to the Missouri river to help bring in the immigrating Saints. He continued this practice each year as long as wagons were being sent. His son Thomas was the driver of the team one year. He went on a mission to the eastern states in 1874, and visited his old home and kindred on that occasion.

When the Indians fell upon the Mormon colony at Salmon River, Idaho, Bro. Grover fitted out a man with a riding horse, pack animal and provisions to go to those left helpless and distress. He contributed half of the ground for the Farmington Meeting House and boarded the workmen free of cost during its construction. He never turned a person from his door hungry.

He was punctual to the dot in all his appointments. A common saying with him was, “If I were going to be hung, I would go on time.” In his creed a debt could never be outlawed.

Returning again to his church activity: He was ordained a High Councilman in Kirtland Jan. 13, 1836 under the hands of Joseph Smith and Hyrum and Sidney Rigdon, Rigdon being spokesman. He served also in this capacity in Farr West Missouri and also on the banks of the Missouri river. He was called by revelation to be member of the High Council in Nauvoo and continued on into Utah at the request of President Young during the travel across the plains. On Monday evening Feb 17, 1886 he presided at the High Council meeting and on Thursday February 20 he passed to the great beyond, leaving four wives and twenty-six children to carry on his work.


Grover Coat of Arms“KITH & KIN”

If you could see your ancestors

All standing in a row,

Would you be proud of them or not,

Or don’t you really know?

Some strange discoveries are made

In climbing family trees.

And some of the m you know

Do not particularly please!

If you could see your ancestors

All standing in a row,

There might be some of them perhaps

You wouldn’t care to know.

But there’s another question which

Requires a different view,

If you could meet your ancestors

Would they be proud of you!

We need at times to think of our ancestors and strive to emulate some of their actions. True, not all are worthy of emulation. We all have a certain amount of horse thieves, rebels, renegades and pirates.

20 – 70 -100 years from now do you, as young parents, want your little children to grow into men and women who will completely forget you and what you are doing and will do for them?

I have been asked to recall a few instances that might help us become interested in keeping our family records and searching for records which I’m sure you will find interesting, humorous and spiritual to pass on to our children and give us all incentive to improve ourselves.



Thomas Grover, my great, great grandfather lived when polygamy was instituted into the Church. Later the law of the land forbade polygamy so some of the Mormons who had several wives moved into Mexico where plural marriage was accepted. But for a time Mexico was ceded to the US, so officers of the law began to seek out any one practicing polygamy and they became quite forceful in seeking these men and if they could catch them, they imprisoned them, keeping them from even supporting their families.

The Mormons resented these harsh actions and tried every means to avoid arrest. Men, women and even the children were constantly alert to note the arrival of any stranger in the towns or districts and the cry “here comes the Marshal” was an oft heard warning.

One day a stranger knocked on Thomas Grover’s (our ancestor) door and his wife answered the door and called to Thomas that a stranger wished to see him. Much to her consternation, Thomas said, “Show him in, Show him in.”

Thomas greeted him very cordially and the stranger announced he was a marshal come to arrest Thomas. Now keep in mind that Thomas Grover was a large, powerful and firm speaking man. He had at one time been a member of the body guard of the Prophet Joseph Smith, to protect him in Nauvoo days of violence.

“Laduska,” he called to his wife, “get me the Brother Joseph’s sword and watch me while I cut this man’s head off!”

The intruding stranger quickly took off without making the arrest and the incident provoked many a hearty laugh as it was recounted over and over – as it was just a big bluff that worked.



In a little different vein, we can find the story in our ancestry book of Jane Grover, a daughter of Thomas Grover. She says:

“One morning we thought we would go gather gooseberries. Father hitched up the horses to the wagon and two sisters, father and a granddaughter, and me, Jane Grover. We started out.”

The little granddaughter and Jane were some distance from the others picking berries when they heard Indians shouting and saw Indians gathering around the father in the wagon, whooping and yelling. They got in the wagon to drive away, when the Indians held the horses so they couldn’t move. Jane asked her father to let her run for help, but he said it was too late.

The Indians began taking things from the father – his coat, his boots, his watch and tried to pull Jane from the wagon. Jane began praying to her Heavenly Father, and the Spirit of the Almighty fell upon her and she spoke to the Indians in great power, in their own tongue and they immediately let go of the horses and stood in front of this young girl with bowed head, while her family looked on in amazement. The Indians had planned to kill the father and take the women prisoners. This was plainly shown to Jane and she continued talking to them. When she stopped talking, they gave the father back his things and quietly left.

The Lord made known to this young girl a portion of the interpretation of what she had said to the Indians which is:

“I suppose you warriors thing you are going to kill us? Don’t you know the Great Spirit is watching you and knows everything in your heart? We have come out here to gather some of our father’s berries. We have not come to injure you and if you harm us, or injure one hair of our head’s, the Great Spirit shall smite you to the earth, and you shall not have power to breathe another breath. We have been driven from our homes. So have you. We are the Lord’s people and so are you, but you must cease your murders and wickedness. The Lord is displeased with it and will not prosper you if you continue in it. You think you own all of this land, this water, these horses. You do not own one thing on earth, not even the air you breathe; it all belongs to the Great Spirit.”



As the saints were coming west to tlok for a new land where they could worship and live in peace, Thomas Grover, our illustrious ancestor was with them whtn they crossed the state of Iowa and they located on the the west side of the Missouri river where Florence, Nebraska now stands. A number of the men went own into Missouri to buy pork for the use of the camp and when they returned, Thomas was appointed camp butcher. As they prepared to move on to the west, Thomas was among the first 143 men to get ready to go with President Brigham Young to find a route for the Saints to follow to go to the West.

I thought you might be interested to know why he is not listed with those who entered the valley with Brigham Young. He left his family with enough provisions to last them three years. The company travelled up the north side of the Platte River to the Black Hills. Here it became necessary to build a boat to cross the river. President Young called the camp members together to ascertain the best plan. He told them his plan, but Thomas said, “It will not work.”

President Young said, “I think it will.”

Thomas again said it would not work in that kind of stream, and then he went to bed. Stephen Markham was Thomas’ bunkmate. When he came to bed, a man followed him to see what he had to say. Thomas said, “I have forgotten more about water than President Young will ever know.”

The man immediately went to President Young and told all that he heard Thomas say. The next morning, President Young called Thomas to talk, and asked if that was what he had said. Thomas said, “Of course I did. I was raised on the water and don’t know anything else. “

When President Young got his boat made, they put it in the water and Heber C Kimball said, “It runs nice.”

Then Thomas said, “Yes, but when it strikes the current, it will go under.”

He had barely spoken, when the boat struck the current and disappeared. President Young turned to Thomas and said, “My plan has failed, what is yours?”

Thomas said, “I shall take six men and go to the grove of timber yonder and get 2 trees and have them cut canoe fashion and lash them together and by daylight tomorrow we will have a boat to carry us across.”

President Young said, “Get your men and be off.”

Six men were chosen, and when they arrived at the timber there were two trees that would fill the bill. In going to the trees, it was discovered that they were surrounded by rattle snakes. They killed snakes for two hours, then succeeded in getting the trees. They worked all night and by daylight the boat was in the river.

In the meantime, a number of immigrants on their way to Oregon had come up and were waiting for the Mormons to build the boat. When the boat was ready, Thomas said, “Bring the heaviest wagon you have here.”

President Young said, “Hadn’t we better run a light wagon over first?”

Thomas said, “No, bring the heaviest.”

They brought a schooner with 6,000 pounds on it and it went across fine. And soon all the company was across.

President Young appointed Thomas and others to remain and run the ferry until the water went down. This they did. When the waters receded, the other companies had not arrived, so Thomas and his men, being out of supplies, went back to meet them. All they had to eat in three days was one skunk. They came to an Indian village and made their wants known to the chief. His two wives had a large kettle of buffalo meat cooking which they ate with great relish. Thomas said it was the best mean he had ever eaten. The next day the other companies came and they went on to the3 valley of the Salt Lake.



I wonder if we today had to withstand the hardships some of our ancestors had to go through if we could be as strong as they were. The winters were cold and their homes were log shacks with cracks stuffed with rags, with dirt roofs and dirt floors.

Hundreds of wild cattle roamed the country and would chew up the starched clothes hung on the lines to dry. Someone had to stand guard continually to drive them away. Every member of the family had to work clearing buckbrush from the land and piling it in huge piles for bonfires.

The women and children suffered a great deal. In the Grover book are many stories. One it recalls was of a woman who had her baby boy born before they crossed a great river on the ice, and they lived out-of-doors and travelled on for seven weeks before the baby was dressed indoors again. Crossing another river, every article in their wagon was water soaked, even the bed upon which the mother and child were resting, but no ill effects followed.

Other time children and women died from exposure and the weary family buried them in shallow graves and trudged on knowing full well that the ravenous wolves would find the graves before too long.

Thomas Grover was endowed and blessed with many noble qualities – industry, thrift, love of family and neighbors, a very deep and abiding love and reverence for his creator and his church and for this wonderful country where he had civil and religious freedom and opportunities. He gave aid and relief of the poor, needy and sick, and frequently shared his harvests with the widows and orphans. He was quite well-to-do when he joined the church in New York State and when the Prophet Joseph Smith was so desperate for money while translating the Book of Mormon, Thomas Grover made him a gift of a considerable sum of money. He was a member of Zion’s Camp; suffered in the persecutions of the Mormons in Missouri and was in prison with the Prophet a number of times. He fulfilled three missions for the Church in New York, Canada and Michigan. He was a member of the First High Council of the Church at Nauvoo being called by revelation to that position. He was one of the Prophet’s body guards. When the mobs of Missouri kidnapped the Prophet, Thomas rescued him and turned back the mobbers to Missouri. He helped prepare the bodies of the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum for burial after their martyrdom.

Let’s build memories of lasting worth – righteous history – for our children and their children to remember and pattern their lives after.


  • Incidents in the life of Thomas Grover selected and written from the Thomas Grover Book by Veda Luella Oviatt Rice.