RALPH NEPHI ROWLEY HISTORY cont’d
There were a great many Indian raids and these homes on the ridge were so unprotected, a council was held and it was decided to abandon the homes and farms on the Ridge for the winter and go back to their homes in Fillmore. Mary Ann was very happy because John Thompson and Hugh Thompson would also be able to attend school in Fillmore. She and her father (Hugh Thompson), who lived with them as much as possible, were great believers in education. It grieved them that it was so impossible to give her children the advantages of schooling such as she had had in Scotland.
There were many Indian raids that fall and winter. Ralph Nephi stood ready with others to fight and protect their homes.
In October Ralph Nephi was one of the volunteers who went out to search for and fins Sam Brown and Josiah Call, after they had been killed by the Indians. The Indians had mistaken them for United States Soldiers because of the army coats they were wearing – the coats had been bought at Camp Floyd.
In one particular raiding party the Indians came to Pavant Valley with full intentions of massacring all the whites in the valley. These Indians came in from the western part of the valley, they landed at Corn Creek, which was sometimes called Petersburg, because of “Uncle” Peter Robinson being so well known there. This large company of Indians was met by the little tribe of Chief Kanosh, who was very friendly to the settlers and anxious to live in peace with them. A great many times he had prevented trouble with his wise and peaceful council. The Kanosh Indians did not meet them in battle form, but only as peacemakers and after a pow wow which lasted about twelve hours, Kanosh and four under chiefs won and the Snake Indians went back to their homes in Nevada. Once again Kanosh had prevented bloodshed.
In the spring of 1858 Ralph Nephi and his family returned to their home on the Ridge where they worked hard getting the farms ready to plant. The settlers again worked together in harmony as one family making all their fields into one big field. They cleared brush, built fences, plowed the ground and planted the crops. Many hard days of labor were send in making ditches and preparing the land for irrigation.
Other families wished to join them but because there was so little water present settlers were all opposed to dividing the little water they had with them.
This spring Brigham Young paid them a personal visit. He counseled them kindly and firmly and advised them to share the water with the others, who wished to settle here — promising them that if they would share the little water they had with the new settlers, that the Lord would bless them in such a way that the water supply would increase until ??????them and the additional ???? 54
Ralph Nephi had long loved and admired this wise man and had humbly taken his advice many times. He again headed his council and persuaded his friends to do likewise. Brigham Young was indeed a prophet of God. Ralph Nephi knew that if his advice was heeded the blessing would follow just as surely.
Ralph Nephi was interviewed by the well know Church Historian, Andrew Jensen in 1900, so we are blessed with an account of this incident in Ralph Nephi’s own words for this is what he told Jensen:
“When he and seven other men went to Meadow in 1857 to put in crops, the water indeed was very scarce and they only plowed and planted thirty-five acres, but he states that the water in the creek since that time has increased at least seven times and that it is still raising. When the first settlers commenced to irrigate there was scarcely enough water in the creek for the ordinary sized irrigation stream, but in 1893 there was enough for at least five large irrigation streams, which by judicious arrangement was sufficient to irrigate all the farm on Meadow lands and the garden in the settlement.”
Among the new ones to come to Meadow Creek were Hiram B. Bennett, A. P. Safford, Ananzon Colby, Ransford Colby, Benjamin Robinson and Timothy King. Ephraim Tomkinson was the first one to build a log cabin here and the above mentioned ones all built log cabins later.
The year of 1859 was a year of grief and hardship for the Rowley’s. Little Ralph Nephi died February 17, 1859, when he was just a little over two years old. We know none of the details of his death except a Cemetery Record, which states that he died of “a gathering in the throat.” He lived out most of his short life here on the Ridge by Meadow Creek. This was the third infant Ralph Nephi and Mary Ann had lost. They had buried little Mary Ann in Scotland. Ephraim in Salt Lake City and now they took little Ralph to the cemetery in Fillmore.
The loss was softened somewhat when on April 2, 1859 a little girl was born to them. She was the first girl child to be born on the Ridge. They named her Elizabeth after Mary Ann’s beloved sister Elizabeth. Mary Ann McBride of Fillmore had kindly attended them at the birth.
The winter of 1857-8 had been a very mild one with very little snow, as a result the water was so low that they were able to raise only a small amount of corn and very little wheat and barley. Most of their time had been taken up making ditches, cutting cedar posts and making fences. There was such a small amount of water that if the cows were allowed to stand and drink all they wanted they would consume it all and none would get past them to irrigate the crops. The task of herding them from the water fell to John and Hugh and it was a tedious one indeed.
The water that did get through was so slimy and contaminated that it was not fit to drink or cook with.
It was so dry that summer that the wind blew sand into everything. It filtered into their beds and food. Mary Ann would carefully tie a cloth over the pans of milk and even then there would be sand in the bottom of the pans. It sifted into their hair and eyes and grated on tired nerves.
The clothing on precious baby Elizabeth was so full of sand that irritated her soft skin. It was almost unbearable for Mary Ann, nerves were on edge and tempers flared. Ralph Nephi was always kind and patient with her. There was no good clean water and even what they had could not be spared for the constant scrubbing she had always given their home. She was not even able to keep the sifting sand out of their home.
That summer a mad wolf attacked Mrs. Charlesworth. It was a horrifying experience. She was able to kill the wolf but she died from the effects of the encounter the next day. This added to the tension and hopelessness of this unhappy summer.
Conditions became so bad and heart breaking that a council was held and they decided that they must move their homes from below the fields where they could obtain culinary water directly from the creek before it was contaminated by irrigation and the livestock.
They plotted out a town above the farms, each man over twenty-one was given a building lot. Here on the lot Ralph Nephi drew, he managed to build a small one room adobe house. Mary Ann was able to keep this new home as clean and well-scrubbed as she liked. It is said that her house had so many scrubbing s that the wood would turn yellow from the scrubbing and the lye water that she used.
There was no ecclesiastical organization for some time, but James Duncan was appointed by Bishop Seymour Bruns??? Fillmore to take charge (illegible) Saints (illegible) Regular meetings were held until years (illegible) and Mary Ann would take the children and go to Fillmore to Sacrament Meeting. This gave them a chance to visit with relatives and friends in Fillmore. They kept their home in Fillmore so they always had it to go back to.
The Rowley’s lived through the terror of an earthquake on January 15, 1860. The first quake was felt at 5:30 a.m. and it shook things very perceptively. The vibration was from the southwest towards the northwest. In two hours it was followed by two lighter strokes. The night before was very clear and extremely cold, the day following was mild and pleasant.
The summer of 1861 was a happier one for the Rowley’s – their crops were better and how they did enjoy the good clean water! It had to be carried from the creek bed in a wooden wash tub made by cutting a forty gallon barrel in two. He bank was steep and the task of carrying it to the house was hard but what a blessing to have pure clean water that could be dipped up and carried to the house by the tubfuls!
Rest of all that summer they were blessed with another baby boy, born July 24, 1861, Mary Ann’s thirty-sixth birthday. That a way to celebrate your birthday and the 24th of July. No wonder they named him Moroni. Perhaps his birth was hastened a little by the preparations for the festivities of that day. A great celebration was held with many sports and a great feast. The day started with a loud fog horn like a whistle. The original Pioneers were chosen to weave the Liberty Pole.
The grass grew green and lush on the hills and Ralph Nephi and his neighbors traded some sheep from people in Fillmore. The sheep were owned by all of them and herded in one herd. At shearing time each family received his share of wool. Mary Ann washed and corded the wool and made many articles of warm clothing for the family.
From the files of the Deseret News of February 10, 1862, we find the following: “A company consisting of some 15 families have settled on Meadow Creek, Millard Co., where they are exerting themselves to build up a respectable little village and to erect there a suitable school house. A town site was surveyed and the people commenced to build immediately.”