Autobiography of Thomas Young

NOTE: The greater part of this was written when Thomas was 79, just a year before his death that occurred February 15, 1916. There is a copy of the material he wrote in his own hand. Comments enclosed in brackets [] are by Keith and Clarice Young. The longer autobiography was published in the Samuel Young Family History in January 1968. This agrees with sketches prepared by Rose Young. Wallace had written the story as his father told it to him before he died.

I was born on February 8, 1836 at Upper Caldecote, near Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England, the third child and son of George Young and Ann Wiltshire Young, grandson of Thomas Young and Sarah Humphries, [and great grandson of James Wiltshire.] I do not know my grandmother's maiden name.

I was baptized into the church on February 5, 1855, and confirmed the same day. Samuel Wagstaff baptized me; I was confirmed by John Sears. [Tom worked as a farm laborer. He was stocky and well built. It is believed he knew the Isaac Campkin family as a church acquaintance.] I emigrated to Utah in 1856. Leaving England in the middle of February [18,1856] I landed in New York on 27 March 1856. I crossed the sea in the ship Caravan and reached St. Louis on April 5, 1856 by railroad.

I secured work on a farm and worked until the first of August, then left to get ready to cross the plains. We began our great adventure on August 8 and reached Salt Lake City on November 9, 1956. I walked all the way to drive an ox team for Abraham Smoot, father of Reed Smoot. The Smoot party had 88 people, one carriage, much livestock, and 42 wagons. At times we followed three days after the Captain James Willie [Willey] Company, until we reached the high country. Willie's Company began with five hundred people, one hundred twenty hand carts, five wagons, twenty four oxen, and forty-five beef cattle. [Another train of Gilbert and Garriahs was with the Smoot train. It had seventeen wagons]. When we reached Florence, there were several days delay on account of the hand carts. We mended old carts, made new ones, and obtained supplies.

We had many thrilling experiences crossing the plains and some that made it very hard for our company. One was the Indians driving off our beef cattle. There was an extremely early winter that year and no one had warm enough clothing nor bedding to keep warm. The hand carts were so rickety that it took rawhide aplenty to tie them together. [Rawhide is untanned leather that shrinks when dry.]

The provisions were so low that on October 12, 1956 everyone was rationed out with ten ounces of flour. On the nineteenth the snow began to fall and measured eighteen inches deep on the level. We pushed on as far as we could but were forced to make camp on the Sweetwater. A company of men, headed by Franklin D. Richard, passed the immigrants and learned of their sad plight - their shortage of food, clothing, and their sickness. Brigham Young learned of this in the 1956 October Conference and sent twenty wagons, each with two teamsters, provisions, quilts, and all kinds of supplies that had been volunteered to aid our company and others who were on the plains.

Two men were sent ahead [of the main rescue group] to let the saints know that help was coming and to encourage them. Help came just in time; we had had nothing to eat for 48 hours. Nine of our company died the night help came. When they reached the valley, one-sixteenth of our Company had been left buried by the wayside. [The Willie Company arrived in Salt Lake City on November 9, 1956.]

I stayed with Brigham H. Young, son of Brigham Young, for one year, driving a team of mules hauling wood from the canyon, then married Martha Webb Campkin the spring of 1857. She crossed in the James Willie Company with five small children: Wilford, Francessa, Harriet, Martha, and James. I then started out for myself.

In July 1857 I was ordained by Elder Joseph Young, brother of Brigham Young. About this time I joined the militia and we used to train every Saturday afternoon as we heard there was an army of soldiers coming to kill us and burn our houses. I enlisted in Colonel I. D. Ross' Company. H. D. Park was captain and I was a Lieutenant. We had some good times. About the middle of October, we were called to go to Echo Canyon to shoulder our guns and go out to meet the soldiers and stop them from coming into the valley. We loosened great boulders and had rocks of various sizes stacked, available, and a very few men could roll these rocks down upon the army as it crossed through the narrow pass.

We went to Echo Canyon and stayed six weeks, then we heard they couldn't come in till spring so we went back home for the winter. In the spring of 1858, we were told to pack up our things and go south and not stop short of Lehi, twenty-five miles south of Salt Lake City. I went about thirty miles, stopping one night on the way. It rained very hard. Five families stayed in one old cellar all one night. The mud leaked through. The next morning we were a sorry-looking lot, but glad it was no worse. Starting out the next morning, we went to American Fork where we stayed till the first of August and were told we could return [home].

I moved with my family to Bountiful and worked for Israel Barlow. Here my first child and daughter, Fanny was born September 9, 1859. In the spring of 1860, I moved to Three Mile Creek, or what was later called Perry. I arrived on the 9th of April and lived on James Nielson's old farm. Henry Tingey bought it from a man named Allen. I lived there one year, then moved to a place called the Stauffer farm. I sold it to Mr. Thorn and went to live in a house a little above Barnard Whites's house. I worked for Mr. Thorn for two years, then bought another place and moved there on March 1, 1864. [He purchased his farm with two springs on it from Mr. Walker.] This was the time of the Civil War when greenbacks were worth only fifty cents on the dollar; so I had to pay fifteen hundred dollars in gold or double that in greenbacks. But I had three years to pay for it at five hundred dollars a year.

All I had to start in with was one yoke of oxen. He took them for one hundred dollars. Now I had a place but no team to work with; so I concluded I would make a pasture of it and rent another farm to work. So I rented the farm Mr. Hanson had. But Mr. Perry owned it then, Heber Perry's grandfather. I do not know that I ever learned his given name. [Thomas's property included land around Walker Springs. There is sufficient water coming to the surface to make a good meadow that grows what is known as wild hay and makes good pasture. Other areas could have been planted and irrigated to grow pasture grasses.]

There was a great deal of freighting going on at that time from Ogden to Montana, done mostly by ox teams. One night about fifty head of cattle broke out of my pasture, getting into Mr. Larsen's field of corn [father of Adam Larsen.] The cattle ate and tramped down about two acres of his corn. Of course he was angry about it and wanted the freighters to pay too much--more than it was worth. I said, "Mr. Larsen, I'll settle with you for that corn. These men are paying me for their pasture. That is all I can ask of them." They settled and went on their way.

When they were gone, I said, "Mr. Larsen, I have a very good patch of corn on Mr. Perry's place. I will see him and get him to let me have enough to pay for your loss." Then I gathered up all that was left on the ground and hauled it home. Then I said, "Come, let us measure your land, and then we will go and measure that much on mine," which we did. And he said he was well satisfied as my corn was much better than his.

The first year I made the payment all right and had a few dollars to spare, with which I bought some calves so as to have something to help with the next year's payments, which I made all right also. But it took all I had to make the next year's payment. Then I had only a squatter's right - no title to the land. So when land came into market in the 1860's, I had to go and buy it all over again from the government at a dollar and fifty cents cash down and no grumbling. Besides this there were sixteen dollars in clerk fees for everyone hundred sixty acres and there were also witness fees to pay. But we witnessed for each other as several of us went together, and right after that each man had to have his land surveyed to know how much land he had. That took two dollars for every piece. Then we had to pay for the deeds and recording of them.

There was only a two room log [house] on the place. I bought it had it shingled as there was only board and dirt on it for a roof and it leaked. After a while I added two more rooms at the back and built a big rock cellar on the North. A full description of this house is given in Martha Webb Campkin Young's history.

After part of my family grew up, I built a six-room adobe house just east of the log one. [His wife, Harriet made many of the adobes mixing in straw and feathers with the clay obtained in the farm fields. The plan was to build a large house. More rooms were planned for the south side and both families would use the kitchen and dining areas. Only the north part was ever finished.]

I accepted the principle of plural marriage, marrying Harriet Campkin. Our children were Wallace, Ida, and Sarah. The marshals caused us a great many trials and hardships. The men would have to quit work to keep out of their way. [The next part was dictated to Wallace because Thomas felt too sick to write]. After my second marriage, the US Marshalls took me and I was convicted of polygamy serving six months in the state penitentiary at Salt Lake. I was at the pen the same time George Q. Cannon and Rudger Clawson were there. I was soon let out as a trusty to work on the [penitentiary] farm. When I got out of the pen, I divided my farm into three pieces [in 1889] and drew cuts to see who would get the houses. Harriet drew the adobe house and Martha drew the four room log house and the land down by the spring. [Each wife and I drew separate portions, Harriet getting the piece with the 'new' house.] By building houses and buying pure bred Pole Angus cattle, I became involved for about three thousand dollars so each piece of property was to assume one thousand dollars of the debt. I let my property go to satisfy creditors and moved to Lewiston. [He actually moved to south of Salt Lake for several years.] In the meantime, both of my wives had died.

I married again [Lily May Andrus] and started to farm in Cache County, Utah [Lewiston], purchased a small piece of land, and raised berries to make payments. I lived in Lewiston about 15 years and then came to live with my son, Wallace. [He bought a piece of ground near the school house in Lewiston, planted fruit trees, raised strawberries, and sugar beets, and paid for his small place. He was a janitor for the school house part of the time in Lewiston.]

Comments by others:

By Rose Young: Wallace's father was a very pleasant good-natured man. He had clean habits and was a strict observer of the Word of Wisdom. He enjoyed helping to take care of our two little girls, Clarice and Velda. He followed baby Velda for hours, teaching her to walk.

By Clarice Young: She remembers when her grandfather came to live with them in the fall. Wallace was driving a team hitched to a large wagon. Grampa was on the high spring seat next to him. Grampa had the end of his shoe cut out and his toe bandaged. Wallace and Bert helped him off the wagon. He had white hair and a long flowing white beard without any stains. He used a cane to walk.

He suffered from diabetes and his foot gradually got worse even though treated by a doctor. They used Lysol to disinfect everything. His foot finally became gangrenous and began to ooze and stink. They first kept it wrapped in sterile cloths and sterile absorbent cotton. The cotton was very expensive. Finally they thought of the cattails on the bulrushes from the nearby springs. These were very absorbent and plentiful. Wallace would gather the ripe cattails in large flour sacks. Rose made bags from unbleached muslin that she had washed and sun dried. The bags were filled with cattails and his foot placed in the midst of the cattails. His foot and the bag of cattails were wrapped in an oil cloth and rested on a foot stool. One or two bags were needed each day. His foot was dressed every morning. The used bags of cattails were burned.

As his foot got worse, he took to sitting in a wooden rocking chair. The intense pain didn't allow him to lie down to rest so he stayed in the chair. He later developed pressure sores prior to his death. He died 15 February 1916 at the age of 80 peaceably in the late evening while Uncle Bert was getting him a drink of water. Neighbors were called and he was placed on a stretcher of planks on chairs. He was buried in Brigham next to his wives.

It seemed to take weeks of effort to remove the odor from the rocking chair. Rose Young related to the children the efforts to clean the chair. Boyd Young still has the chair.

Samuel Young's comments:

Samuel Young was Thomas's younger brother by two years. He relates that Tom was a very serious boy and never seemed to care to play marbles or any games. He would go out and watch the other boys for awhile, then go in the house and read or study. He went to school parts of two summers. The New Testament was the book they studied. Later he resumed his study at night school. He attended the Northill Presbyterian Church. Sunday school was held from 9 to 10:30 AM with the main services following. Children had a place in church and if they whispered, they were tapped on the head.

Tom was always of a religious turn of mind and in hunting for truth joined many sects. He knew Mormonism was the truth when he first heard it. He became a member at the age of 19 and soon thereafter was ordained a priest. Tom and I were almost inseparable and I was more lonesome when he left for America than I was two years later when I came to America and left the remainder of the family.

By Clarice Young: Thomas helped build about seven homes in the area. She remembers the four room log house about 50 feet south and 100 feet west of the new famr house where Thomas, Martha and family lived. The log home was torn down while Clarice was at college. The logs were used to make the barns and corrals. The house had a large fireplace with the swing-over-the-fire cooking pots. Some were large copper pots; the post could also be set on their three legs right down amid the coals. Wood was the usual fuel. Benches were put on the east of the house. Tubs were placed on the benches when needed so the men could wash up. A lot of the furniture went to the DUP in Brigham City. The bed was supported on three sides by log walls. The foundation rocks were used by Rose Young to build a rock garden and goldfish pond. The exterior of the log house was covered with boards and batten. There was a cellar to store fruit. During the expeiment to ge silk by raising silkworms, they had planted many mulberry trees west of Martha's home in two rows that made a lovely shaded area. There were removed during the 1940s. There was a well west of Martha's house that furnished both the old and new house with water. Candle molds were used to make candles until kerosene lamps came. Martha had made straw hats in England. They had a straw-making machine that Martha used in the old log house. Straw was collected, graded and twisted on the machine. The hats were woven by hand. The finished hats were bleached by burning sulphur in a container with the hats. Sulfuric acid fumes would do the bleaching. Francessa did the hat sewing. Wool was also used for clothing. It was washed, carded to remove the burrs, and get it into a batt form. It was then spun. It was said the women worked 12 hours a day spinning the wool. Long days were pretty standard on the famr for everyone in the summer. Velda thought that the last pair of carding tools were in the DUP museum when she came to visit us. Clarice and Velda each had quilts made with wool bats from wool that dad had sheared and mother had washed and carded. The bats were laid on top of the quilt, the quilt top cover was placed over the bats, and the whole was quilted by hand stitching in the patterns desired.

Martha had six children by Isaac. Rebecca died in England. Martha and Thomas had Fanny, Thoma Harvey and Albert Herbert (Bert). Many of the people came often to visit with the family and Clarice had known the large extended family quite well.