(1853-1935) Son of Levi Stewart and Margery Wilkerson

Personal journal from birth to age thirty

Son of Margery Wilkerson and Levi Stewart, William Thomas was born October 18, 1853, at the mouth of Drycreek on the banks of the river Jordan, Salt Lake Valley, Utah. During the first ten years of my life my parents resided most of the time in Salt Lake City but occasionally visited the ranch my Father kept about 75 miles south in Goshen Valley. We also spent time on the farm owned by my father on the Big-cottonwood Creek, nine miles south of Salt Lake City. At these places I frequently visited my parents, remaining for months at a time. While at the ranch on my eight birthday, I was baptized for the remission of sin and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by my father, who had received the Gospel in (April 1837 in Caldwell County, Missouri.)

After his conversion he had traveled and preached the same through the Southern States. He had passed through the last persecutions of Missouri, and was expelled with the Saints from Nauvoo, their beautiful city in Illinois. They passed the winter at Winter Quarters in the winter of 1847. The following summer Father took his family, which then consisted of his wife, Joseph A. Stewart, John Riley, Elizabeth Jane and Louisa, across the then trackless West over one thousand miles to the valley of the Great Salt Lakeóthe place designated by the Servants of God as the resting place of His people. They made their way as best as they could in company with the Saints under the destitution occasioned by the plundering of the mob. He took my mother to wife in obedience to the law of Celestial Marriage, which had been received through Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God, and had been confirmed to him both by vision and by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. This was in the year of 1852. My mother had, in connection with her family, received the Gospel just before the expulsion from Nauvoo and had fathered with the Saints in Salt Lake in the year 1849.

1864 Ė By this time the Saints were filling the nooks & valleys of Utah, extending North & South several hundred miles. It was the custom of President Brigham Young to visit, instruct, and encourage the Saints in all these little towns and villages. In doing so he would choose a company of which my father frequently composed a member. This year he accepted an invitation. As my mother was going with him, he took me as teamster. Although I was quite young, I had had experience enough that I not only drove, but I took care of the team throughout the entire journey of 800 miles over a very rough road. We visited all the settlements south of Salt Lake City except those in Sanpete Valley during the winter of 1864-5.

My father became somewhat embarrassed financially in consequence of endeavoring to successfully run the then only paper mill in Utah. This caused him to sell his property in Salt Lake City, which he had owned from the beginning. He, however, purchased a farm he had formerly owned on Bigcottonwood, 9 miles from Salt Lake. He moved all his family here, then consisting of my mother and her children: William Thomas, Eliza Luella, Charles Courtland, Heber Carlos, and Edward Lorenzo. Also there was my fatherís wife and sister to my mother, Artemacy (whom he had married in the year 1854), and her children: William Jacksen Cassidy, son of first husband, Sarah Lucretia, Alonzo Layfayette, and Brigham Freeman. Of his first wifeís children (she being dead) Louisa, Emeline and Levi were along with us too. The older ones had married and were living to themselves. Elizabeth Jane had married M.F. Farnsworth. Joseph Abraham had married Elizabeth Ewell. John Riley had married Francis Ellen VanHooser, who died.

I had been attending school most of the time prior to this, but afterwards, during the winter months, with the exception of one summer quarter, I only had three months in the year, which I endeavored to make the most of as I was very fond of my books. In the winter of 1869 my schooling was interrupted by another trip with my father. He accompanied President Young on another trip among all the Southern Settlements, even to the towns on the Muddy, and to the Colorado River at the mouth of the Rio Virgin River. While on this trip, President Young informed my father that he wished him to select a company and resettle a little place called Kanab about 3 and 1/2 miles into Utah from the southern boundary, and about 40 miles west and 350 miles south of Salt Lake.

During the time we had lived on the farm, my fatherís financial circumstances had improved, mainly from the fact of his taking a heavy railway contract in Weber Canyon preparatory to laying the first track from the Pacific to the Atlantic upon which road I spent a few months.

In regard to my religious views up to this time, I will say I had taken great delight in studying and praying about things pertaining to my spiritual welfare. Before I was eleven I had read through the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith. My mother had taken great pains to teach me in regard to the dealings of God with the Saints and much time in reading the Book of Mormon. I would usually go to myself and asked the Lord to bless me in my researches, which he certainly did. Up to about this time I had been much troubled with nightmares and bad dreams. I asked my Father in Heaven to relieve me of them, which he did. In the place which my dreams became very instructive to me, oftenly a personage appearing therin making explanation and giving me instruction.

In 1867 I was selected by our Bishop, D.B. Brinton Stewart, to be one of a company of young men and women to receive endowments. At that time they were only given in the Endowment House, Salt Lake City. At that time I was ordained an Elder under the hands of A.H. Raleigh. From this time, while I remained in this Ward, I performed the office of Deacon, taking great pride in doing whatever was required of me. I had learned quite young to ask the Lord to assist me in perplexing circumstances, and frequently, while hunting for stock on the range, I would ask my Lord to direct me to them. Many times he did, leading me directly to the object of my search. I would mention also, in connection with this, one of my chief delights had been, from my earliest remembrance, to attend a good meeting and to hear a good speaker. I had many opportunities to do this.

1870, May 10, I left home in company with my father, mother, brother and sister, Ella, and 14 others to settle the Kanab country. After a pleasant trip of 22 days, we reached Pipe Spring, 20 miles short of Kanab. We stayed there for one month, putting in crops at Moccasin Spring. We had left my sister, Ella, at Toquerville. On the first day of July we moved on to Kanab where we found a few brethern (Indian Missionaries) living in an old fort or stockade under the direction of J. Hamblin. They kindly welcomed us. They felt willing to divide the scanty supply of water with us. The little company, under my father, immediately went to putting in corn, making corrals, putting up hay, etc.

In the fall my father and quite a number of others left for the north to dispose of their old homes and bring their families entire the new country. In the fall my father returned, bringing with him his entire family. In Beaver he buried his stepson and my cousin, Wm. J. C. Stewart. My brother Joseph and myself met them at Toquerville. We assisted in driving loose stock.

By this time, our little colony was increasing rapidly. Some people came from the Dixie and northern settlements. I spent the summer and fall in plowing, teaming, etc. I took one trip to Pahreah, 50 miles east, where I stayed a few weeks, along with J. Hamblin & W. Meeks, my father and D. Brinton. After our stock reached there, I was sent out in company with Charles Riggs to herd. We camped about 4 miles south at what we called the Gap. Later in the fall we moved back and occupied a small stone house the people had built near their corrals called the GuardHouse.

This fall President Young and Co. visited Kanab, coming by way of Panguitch (direct road from the north). My father was ordained Bishop of Kanab. A townsite, was surveyed, and everything moved smoothly until the morning of the 15th of December. My two sisters, Ella and Sarah, came to the Guard House, where I was sleeping. When they woke me up they toldl me that there had been a fire in the Fort and my mother and five brothers had perished. My motherís children, Charles Courtland, age 13, Heber C., age 9, Edward L., age 7 all died. My Aunt Macy's children, Urban Van died and of the first wife's, Levi H. This was an awful blow to the family, however my father was enabled to console us very much. The cause of the fire could never be determined. What made it strange that it happened was that there was a guard that was kept purposely to prevent anything of this kind. The guards duty was to call out the time every hour with an, "All's Well!"

In the Spring of 1871 I revisited the north country, where I spent some time. I returned with my father with loads of provisions and merchandise. When I returned, many had moved out upon their city lots and were fencing and building. The fall of 1870 my father had purchased a sawmill of President Young's, which had been erected at a place called Scutempah. Scutempah was about 40 miles northeast of Kanab. During the season, the Navajo Indians visited us in large numbers and were quite insolent, but peace was maintained and friendly relations established. This had been brought about through the agency of Jacob Hamblin.

Everything in the new colony went well for a time, but it appeared that some of those who came from different settlements were of a class who did not sustain order. This began to work up feelings of distention against the Bishop, but mainly things went well until 1874. In 1874 it was counseled to establish the United Order. John R. Young was nominated as President of the Kanab Organization, contrary to the feelings of the vast majority of the people. Before this time we were nearly all working cooperatively. The result of this change was to produce confusion where there had been comparative order before the move, so that John R. Young felt that his office absorbed that of Bishop.

During the summer there was some threatening conduct on the part of the Navajos in Arizona. Since we had few families in that country there was a company sent to assist them. I was one of the companies that had an opportunity of seeing new country and also visiting the Moquin Indians. I saw their manners, customs, and peculiarities of which would make a volume to be given in detail. They were a low and heavy-set race. Their skin color wasnít very dark. They were exceedingly good runners. They were very kind, hopitable, and industrious. They raised fruit, vegetables, corn, and sheep. From the wood of the latter, they made a water -tight blanket. They did all of their spinning and weaving by hand in the most primitive way. They didnít even have a spinning wheel.

We returned home in safety after a six weeks absence. During the summer of 1872 there was set up of the telegraph poles. Afterward, wire was stretched. In the winter we were in communication with Salt Lake City. The first operator we had was a young girl from Toquerville. Her name was Roselia J. Haight. I formed quite a strong attachment, which not being reciprocated fully and was abandoned.

In the spring of 1871 to 1872 a mining excitement broke out in the Colorado Canyon, about 80 miles south of us. I spent two months visiting this place. The way there lay along the Kanab, which cut through solid rock. In the summer, the wash or bed of the stream was dry, yet when the snows were melting in the spring, the water flowed into the Colorado River. The nearer one approaches the river, the higher one grows one the solid rock walls, until the Canyon has the appearance of a deep chasm, which goes several thousand feet into the very bowels of the earth. The Colorado River along here was very narrow. It ran in a succession of rapids, whirlpools, and eddies. I prospected the river for some distance up stream, even into the stupendous and magnificent Canyon. There was not another place then where the Colorado finds its way through the Kaibab or Buckskin Mountains. The wall attains a height of upward 6, 000 feet. My experience here was wild and exciting. My mind was ever overawed by the sublimity of the scene.

Early in the spring I returned home, because I got intimately acquainted with and finally engaged to R. Tamar Hamblin. She was born August 3, 1856, daughter of Rachel Judd and Jacob Hamblin. I married her in Salt Lake City, September 22, 1873. D.H. Wells was the officiator. At the same time, my sister Margery Ann married H. E. Riggs.

During this winter I looked after stock in partnership with my brother John. The following summer John moved north. The stock was mostly turned into the United Order, but there were enough left to keep me riding upon the range most of the time. I was never fond of doing this, as it seemed that I would never tire in the saddle. I too had had much to do in gentling wild horses and riding them. I was quite successful in doing this, but it did harm physically, as we also had to lay out during the night without bedding or food, which frequently fell to my lot. However, those were happy days to me. I delighted in the freedom of such a life.

The year of 1874 was spent almost entirely in the saddle. In the spring of 1875 I continued riding. On April 25th, my wife delivered a girl. We named her Maud Rachel. My wife took a long time getting around after this. She was afflicted with the gathering of her breast for about 3 months.

During this time I had been living at my father at his house. I continued there until I completed a place for me to live in. I built the home from a frame at a cost of $1.000.00, and that was only the front part of the design.

During the season the people were divided into two working parties. One party was under the leadership of John R. Young and the other party under the leadership of Bishop Levi Stewart. Animosity grew between members of these two factions. Meetings for worship were held by the John R. party, which was set aside from the regular ward meetings, making it quite necessary for something to be done in the matter. The outcome of it was that L. John Nuttall was sent to succeed Bishop L. Stewart and to unite the two factions. This was in the spring of 1876. The people did well as could be expected under these circumstances. They endeavored to unite themselves under a new leader, who was a very good and efficient man.

I was appointed to live at the steam sawmill (Buckskin Mountains) to care for the lumber yard and measure the same. While I was there Bishop Nuttall came to tell me that I had been chosen by President B. Young at the instance of Ammon M. Tenney, who was an Indian and Mexican missionary. President Young wanted me to accompany him into New Mexico, where he was appointed to go and introduce L. H. Hatch to the Zuni Indians. At the Buckskin Mill we had a meeting with a few of the few Saints there. I was called to speak, to which I responded, although it was quite a trial. It is true I had belonged to the Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association. With pleasure had taken pains to acquaint myself well whenever appointed to lecture, or take any other part. Even before this, I had taken some interest in a debating school, which was originated and presided over by W. D. Johnson. For several years he was my senior, and at one time I took the affirmative of a question, "Does the Bible sanction Polygamy?" W. D. Johnson took the negative. After much study, I met my opponent. I felt confident that I had a few biblical points he could not get over, but at the same time I acknowledged his superiority. In my opening speech my voice sounded strange, even to myself. My ideas became confused and the prominent features of the question faded from my view. I did not occupy the 10 minutes that was given to me. Brother Johnson followed after me. He made a splendid speech, to which I could scarcely listen. I was too anxious to reply. When my time came I commenced in earnest, speaking of the Patriarchs and God's favor to them, giving them wives and blessing the issue thereof. I also proceeded to set forth corruptions that had ever followed an exclusive monogamic system. In fact, the decadence of the great Roman Empire was the result of their social wickedness, which had ever existed with, and does now, the monogamic system of marriage.

It seemed that I had hardly got into the subject when the chairman, after being nudged by my opponent, called me to order because it appeared that I stole five minutes overtime. At the end of the debate the chair declared in favor of the affirmative.

Just before starting my mission, in July 1876, my father came into my house and said he felt he needed to give me a Fatherís blessing or Patriarchal blessing. In doing so, he said I would go and return in safety on my present mission. He also said that I would yet fill other missions, and would go even to the Island of the Sea. He said that I should go forth conquering to conqueror, and that in my latter years I would fill many responsible positions.

Our outward journey was a pleasant one, with the exception of the excessive heat. It fell to the lot of Brother Tenney and myself to drive cows the first part of the journey on to the Navajo Springs. Then we drove wagons for a few days until we reached the Little Colorado. The first part of our journey was a little south east across the Buckskin Mountains. Then we took a curved detour to the south, and back to the north. We went under the vermilion sandstone cliffs, which were probably 2, 000 feet high. We finally reached the Colorado River at a point almost east of Kanab, called Lee's Ferry. Leeís Ferry was where the River enters what is known as Marble Canyon. Marble Canyon was a narrow rocky gorge that gradually deepened as it passed through the House Rock Valley, to the Buckskin Mountains. There, it met the L. C. R., which passes directly through this elevated plateau, presenting one of the grandest scenaries in the world.

From Leeís Ferry, our route lay along under the continuation of the same cliff until we reached Willow Springs. Brother Tenney and myself took a pack horse and went by way of Moyncoppy, a small settlement of Saints. Here we were treated melons, green corn. We packed these things on our horses for the little company we were traveling with, and whom we overtook some 12 miles from there. In addition to Brother Hatch and his wife and children, Brother Maughn and his family and Brother William McAllister also came. After we reached the Little Colorado, Brother Tenney, McAllister and myself took one wagon and went on ahead. We were now about 180 miles from Kanab. From Lee's Ferry, our course was very much south east, but here changed to the east and afterwards to the north east. We traveled up the Little Colorado for three days before we reached the first settlement or Sunset Cropping. The river ran through a broad, low valley. The upper 50 miles was lined with cottonwood trees. There were many broad alkali flats, which through the mirage, would be transformed into most beautiful lakes covered with fowls.

The third morning the axle tree of the wagon broke. We put a drag under it and went along fine until we reached Sunset. At Sunset we exchanged it for another one. The following night, we camped on the bank of the river. The bank of the river had grown from a very small one to be quite a formidable stream. It grew especially in time of a stormy weather, which that night and the next day proved to be. However, we had a good wagon cover, which sheltered us. After writing letters home during the first part of the night, we passed the remainder of the night quite comfortably. We gave our letters to the mail as it passed at 12 p. m.

After returning home in the fall of 1876 we began to prepare for the winter. I desired to return to the mill by L. J. Nuttall, but refused for which I have ever been sorry. During the winter I did much riding after stock. I also appeared in the Deseret news. The news showed that I had been sustained a missionary to Arizona. Afterwards, my father was called, and we began to make preparation to go.

The following Spring, March 8, 1877, my wife gave birth to a son. We named him Thomas Hamblin. After an illness of nine days Thomas died on April 2nd 1877. Thus, this terminated a most happy companionship. Our confidence & love had been mutual & unmarred by any harsh or bitter words. I feel thankful to my Father in Heaven that I can truthfully say as much. It has saved me many a bitter pang of remorse I might have felt, had I not been kind & courteous to a trusting wife. She, like myself, had been born and raised in polygamy. Our little girl was now two years old and was promising to be such a child that we felt thankful to God for her. In this great trial I felt not to complain but to acknowledge the hand of the Lord. However, there also followed a sense of loneliness, which only those know, whom has had such experience.

In the year of 1875 my sister Ella married a young man by the name of D. K. Udall. Shortly after she was married she responded to a call to England to go on a Mission. He was now expected back to S. L. C. in July. In company with my father, my sister went north to meet him. I then had proceeded then to Nephi by a few days. I stayed at Brother Udall's. He was the father of my brother-in-law. I stayed there until my father and sister arrived. Then my father went into S. L. C., leaving Ella and I to leave in a few days. During my short stay there, I was constantly in the company of a young lady, Mary A. Udall. She was a sister to my sister's husband. The first time I had met her was in the year 1874, at the same place. Her appearance produced quite an effect upon my mind. I met her again in Kanab as she accompanied her brother David, when he came after my sister. At that time I was married, and all I remember was the lengthy visits and the frequent meetings and dances. Being with this sister was of a very pleasant nature. Our company seemed mutually agreeable, yet notwithstanding plurality of wives, which was the custom of our people. Anything of this nature did not cross my mind. Whenever we met, there was such an aching void in my bosom. It is to be wondered that her kindness for me found a response in my affections that I could scarcely account for.

At this time, Miss Udall was reported to be there until night, having nothing with me to eat. Under a hot August sun in desert country with nothing to drink, proved very fatiguing. At night I found a trail leading off into the hills. Following it 1 1/2 miles brought me to a large pocket in the rocks, which was partly filled with water. The water was so bitter that I could only wet my mouth with it.

About two miles from there I tethered my mare with my lasso. After gathering some dry grass for a bed I lay down until morning. The cool of the night took from me all thirst. At the first streaks of day I mounted my animal and pursued the tracks until after noon. Then I came upon the horses as they pursued their course, not deviating them until they reached the Colorado Gorge. Then they traveled down the rocky banks where the river ran thousands of feet below, far from the reach of man or beast. Fortunately for me, the horses missed the only trail passing between the River & Trumble Mountain, where I was enabled to head them off. After several unsuccessful attempts on their part, they gave up & started on the backtrack. For the past five miles I walked because my animal was getting tired. After climbing about on the mountain and leading the horses I became very fatigued, thirsty. My riding animal was also very tired. I had been accustomed before to being alone upon these deserts without supplies, but on this occasion I found myself in a worse plight than ever before. However, I did not feel to despair. I felt to ask the Lord for what I was most in need of. When I asked him, I felt a power of Faith come over me to a greater extent than I had ever before experienced. Then I soon felt that the elements were within my control. While I was praying a few drops of rain fell. I then mounted my animal and started slowly along. Then a dark cloud gathered just before me. I was soon able to wet my mouth from the little pools of water on the ground. The pools of water kept increasing in size until the surface of the ground was covered to a depth of several inches and for a mile across, but all this storm was just a head of me so that I was quite dry. I had passed about a mile or so until the ground was perfectly dry. My animal was greatly refreshed, and by midnight I managed to reach the place I had been anticipating.