John Rowley and Sarah Wright Family Messenger

-by historian, Luella Jones Downard

In the spring of 1853 each man was given as much land as he could fence and cultivate. Ralph Nephi Rowley and his father-in-law, Hugh Thompson, each had land allotted to them along the hills east of Fillmore, known as the “Best Ditch” farms.

Some of their close neighbors here were Jonathan P. Smith and Albert Shail. Jonathan P. Smith had come over the plains in the same company as Hugh Thompson. Ralph’s sister Mariah, who had buried her first husband, George Olom, and little son, Uriah Olom, in England and later migrated to Fillmore with her daughter, Zuriah Olom, married Jonathan P. Smith.

Zuriah Olom later married George Albert Shails.

Another of their close neighbors was Amasa Lyman, (whose son, Lorenzo Snow Lyman married Zuriah Rowley, the oldest daughter of Ralph’s brother, James Rowley).  Years later Amasa Lyman’s son Ira Depo Lyman, married Ralph’s daughter, Elizabeth Ann.

Another neighbor was Richard Day, whose daughters Mary and Martha, became the wives of Ralph’s brother James. Years later when James died, Ralph married his brother’s wife, Mary Day Rowley, in polygamy.

We have several records of Ralph and Mary receiving their endowments and also of Ralph attending for James with Mary Day and that they were sealed.

In July of 1853 there were a great many Indian scares and depredation. The fort was guarded night and day by both close and picket guards. Men went to the fields in large companies, carrying their guns with them for protection at all times. Kanosh and his friendly Indians helped harvest the grain.

Conditions became so bad that the State House workers took down their shanties and moved them into the Fort, where they would be safer from Indian attacks.

George Arthur Rowley in one of his histories relates: “Here they built a dugout in which to live, there is a monument on the place now.” Mary Ann’s father Hugh Thompson probably lived with them and the children in this humble home.

In August 1853 martial law was declared. A triangle of steel was made to use in sounding an alarm to call the men and boys from the field when there was an alarm. The milch cows were herded together and guards placed around them. At night they were all taken to a public corral and milked while the men took turns standing guard.

On September 13, 1853, a man, William Hatton, was killed by the Indians while standing guard at this corral.

Ralph and his father-in-law were both fine stone masons, and they helped to cut and lay rock for early state structures.

On October 26, 1853 a baby boy was born to the Rowley’s, while they were living inside the fort wall. They named him Walter Thompson Rowley. When Thompson is added to the name of a Rowley child it is to honor the beloved grandfather, Hugh Thompson. He had had no male child to carry on the name of Thompson. This may account for one reason for honoring the name but I like the reason George Arthur Rowley gives in one of his histories: “I love the name of HUGH and I named one daughter Hughetta, because I love it so. The stories I have been told of him make me very proud of his name and memory.” What a pity that none of those stories were ever written. Now we know only that his character was such that “HUGH THOMPSON” is a name of honor among the descendants of Ralph Nephi Rowley and Mary Ann Thompson.

This little bank of pioneers harvested their first crop of grain by cradle and gathered the stocks by hand, making them into bundles. They then laid the bundles on large pieces of canvas and led the horses over the bundles to thrash the wheat out. With the help of the wind they separated the wheat from the chaff. When it was washed and dried it was ready to be ground into flour. As there was not a flour mill within a hundred miles, they then ground the wheat into flour in coffee grinders. This was a hard tedious task and even little John and Hugh took turns at turning the grinder. They learned to make corn into hominy. This constituted the main items of their diet that winter.

In the spring of 1854 the workshops were moved back onto the grounds of the State House, where work was resumed. By December 1, 1854, all the walls and masonry work was done on the State House.

George Arthur Rowley tells us in one of his histories: “During the summer of 1854 Ralph Nephi Rowley discovered the sulphur beds which are located about seven miles south and east of Cove Fort in south Millard County. He hauled sulphur in the raw state and sold it to Brigham Young in Salt Lake City. He made many trips into Salt Lake with the sulphur, and on one occasion, Brigham Young paid him a yoke of oxen and wagon for the sulphur. In later years a company with money developed the sulphur beds and put in a refinery to sell sulphur all over.

Ralph Nephi Rowley, had a pottery from 1854 until early 1880. Ralph was a master potter, he was he was also skilled in building kilns. He had learned to make pottery kilns as a boy in England He built a fine pottery just east of the Chalk Creek. In the early stages Ralph did prospecting for clay and other material. illegible volcanic glass, which is the illegible stone and the pumy stone. Ralph assisted in getting them developed illegible the Twin Peaks in south Millard County illegible  bed of the Beaver River, which fed into Sevier Lake, which is south illegible the Twin Peaks are in South Millard County, near the Black Rock station for The Union Pacific Railroad. The river now flows into a reservoir, there illegible not run as far north as it did then illegible plaster of Paris when it becomes hard and dry will absorb water. It makes the best kinds of molds, so he had to have it. He found moutains of of gypsum in the Levan and Nephi Districts. Gypsum is pounded or ground fine like flour and placed in an iron kettle and cooked. When worked just right you can mix it with water and make a paste and let it set for a few minutes and it becomes hard. Plaster of Paris is gypsum in the finished product and gypsum is used in making cement. Illegilble a big plaster works in the illegible  and in the Salt Creek Canyon above illegible John Rowley, who lived in Nephi illegible water mill and ran it for a long illegible (Ralph) found feldspar in good illegible”

Ralph Nephi Rowley was a very brave men to illegible prospecting into country held by Indians and so far away from the protection illegibleoments. He played a very important role in the building up of this country and in many of its industries. He was a good friend to the great Chief Kanosh; this friendship is one of the reasons he was able travel to far places in search of the many different minerals etc. that he needed in his work. Perhaps it was his great faith, illegible he was a man of exceeding great illegible protection that he would receive illegible Mighty.

In 1855 the people of the Fillmore were called upon to practice the United Order, by assigning all their earthy possessions over to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Like Nephi (whose name he had added to his own), he knew that God does not ask a thing of us without providing a way that His commandment might be kept. Ralph humbly and uncomplainingly followed the advice of the Church Presidency to the letter and he signed a paper like the following:

“Be it known by those present that I, Ralph Nephi Rowley, of Fillmore City in the County of Millard and the Territory of Utah, for, and in consideration of the good will which I have for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, give and convey unto Brigham Young, trustee in trust for the said church, his successor in office, and assigns, all my claims and ownership to the following described property, to wit; (Then followed the description of his farm lands and his pottery and whatever lands he had acquired at that time with all livestock he owned, he assigned every single thing he possessed). Together with all rights, privileges and appurtenances there unto, belonging or appertaining. I also covenant and agree that I am the lawful claimant and owner of said property, and will warrant and forever defend the same unto the said trustee in trust, his successor in office, and assigns, against the claims of my heir, assigns or any person whomsoever.

(signed) Ralph Nephi Rowley”

Thus Ralph again stood the test – that he would do all that was asked of him fully and faithfully. What a test, to sign away all that he had or ever hoped to have and to agree to leave all that he had to the Church and not to his ancestors to leave something to their children. We know that he did it gladly and yet what a test it was! Hugh Thompson, Mary Ann’s father, also turned over all that he possessed also, including the 10,000 gold sovereigns that he had brought in the drawer of the heavy oak chest. Converted into United States money, this would have all belonged to Mary Ann and the children at his death, for they were his only heirs. Think of the schooling and prestige, the lands and possessions this would have bought for their descendants. This was gladly given for they knew that the Gospel was true and that they must stand every test! Oh that we, the descendants of these most worthy ancestors could all inherit the TESTIMONY that they had, that this great thing that they did would not have been done in vain. This lesson they gave us that to obey all of gods commandments and to do gladly all that is asks of us, to remain faithful to the end, is a greater inheritance that $50,000.00 or all the riches of the earth! There were others who gave all they had at that time but in my opinion Ralph, Mary and Hugh were put to a greater test for everything was put in a common storehouse and each family got supplies etc. as it was needed. Therefore those who had little would share alike with those who had a greater amount. It was easy for those who had little. The work was divided among all Saints both men and women, thus keeping everyone employed and on the same economic level, which did away with poverty, as well as preventing the accumulation of great wealth, a socialistic form of religion.

The grasshopper made their first appearance and they came in hordes. Ralph and his family watched as they ate nearly all of the crops in spite of anything they could do to stop them.

The grasshoppers came again in 1856 but not in such numbers as they had in 1855 and they were able to control them better so that more of their crops were saved.

Another male child was born to Ralph and Mary Ann, on November 11, 1856. They named him Ralph Nephi Rowley after his father.

The most of the pottery Ralph made at first and a great deal of it at all times, he turned over to Brigham Young or the Church, I suppose it was distributed as seemed best by Brigham Young. There is no record of what Ralph received in payment but it is my opinion that he considered it as a part of the labor he owed in living the United Order.

Ralph’s brother James Rowley left England and arrived in Salt Lake City sometime between December 1 and 15, 1856, in the William Hidgett’s Ox Train Company, which arrived in Salt Lake City in sections – (Journalistic History, December 15, 1856, page3). He came to Fillmore soon after this, where the brothers had a happy reunion. They were closely associated from that time on until James’ early death in 1881. (We have not at this time been able to learn if James came alone, but it is my opinion that he did – the record of his arrival can be found in the archives of the Church Historians office in the Presiding Bishop’s office in Salt Lake City). Ralph must have taken him into the pottery business upon his arrival, for he was also skilled in all things pertaining to the making of pottery, having been taught the trade by his father from the time he was a small lad in England. There are also many stories told of them making the pottery together. James may have made the trip from Salt Lake City to Fillmore by handcart, his son, George Rowley of Fillmore (1957), says he thinks he was told as a child that he did.

In the spring of 1857 Ralph and Mary Ann, with their four children, John, Hugh, Walter and Ralph Jr. went to make a new home in the wilderness south of them, Meadow. Three other families going with them, the Tompkinson’s, (Mrs. Thompkinson was a Rowley, Ralph’s cousin), the Tyler’s and John Lemmons. The James Duncan family had gone before them. They all located on the ridge about a mile west of the present to townite of Meadow. The “Ridge” was a gravely elevation resembling a railroad track grade which extended for miles north and south of where they had settled. The vegetation was mostly sage brush and meadow grass with cedar trees on the foothills. A few wild berries and some wild rabbits and deer.

Ralph and Mary Ann soon made themselves a dugout on the side of the ridge, not far from where the others were building one.

When this was done they began clearing the sage brush from the land, above the settlement, where they had decided  to make the fields.

Their oldest son, John, who was ten years old and Hugh, next younger, who was eight this first summer on the ridge were able to help a great deal in this new enterprise for they, with the boys of the other families were assigned the task of herding the cows, which were herded in one herd. They were also instructed to keep a sharp lookout for Indians. This was hostile Indian country for only a short distance from this place the great Chief Walker laid buried. He had died on this very same Meadow Creek. Before the coming of the Mormon Pioneers this had been a favorite camping ground of the Indians. These Indians were not hostile, but they were feared because of their close connection with Chief Walker.

Ralph was always friendly with Chief Kanosh and his Indians and they shared their scanty food supply with these Indians hoping that the friendship might continue.

That summer and fall they saw many immigrant trains pass. They had built their dugout homes along the ridge a short distance from the main travelled road to California, which came in just below the ridge.

Many of the members of these immigrant trains had helped to persecute and drive the Mormons from Missouri and other places. They did many things to annoy the Mormon Settlers as they passed through their settlements.

One day as John, Hugh and the other boys were herding the cows near the road on the ridge men from the immigrant train took the boy’s lunches from them and even shot at one of the little boys.

-To be continued-


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