- Name: Robert Crookston Sr.
- Born: September 21, 1821 Anstruther Fife Shire, Scotland
- Died: September 21, 1816 Logan, Utah
- Related through: Dan's grandfather Lynn Crookston
I, Robert Crookston, was the son of James Crookston and Mary Young Crookston. I was born September 2l, l82l in the town of Anstruther Fife Shire, Scotland. My father James Crookston was born in Terent, East Lothian, Scotland about the year l785. My mother was James Crookston's second wife. His first wife was Janet Lock.
My father had moved from Terent to Fife Shire to work at his trade of making wrought iron nails. Anstruther was a fishing village, consequently a great many fishing boats were built there and he did very well until some merchants got busy and undersold him and in consequence he became discouraged and moved toward the west about 30 miles and got work at the coal mines. My father was sober, saving and industrious. He was always good natured, could play the violin. In fact he made several, one of which he brought to America with him. The nearest town was two miles from where we lived. We used to do our trading there and it was called East Weemy. As there was no school near, I was sent to Anstruther to my Grandparent's to attend school. My mother would come to see me as often as she could by stage coach. My Grandparents were very religious; they attended the Lutheran Church and had family worship daily. Grandfather used to pray, read a chapter from the old family Bible and sing a few verses of the Psalms of David. They also taught me to pray.
My Grandfather had a nice garden near his house and several nice apple trees and gooseberry bushes. Sometimes I found it rather lonely for a boy. I lived there about three years when Grandfather died. He had four sons and two daughters: John, a shoemaker on Williams Street, Edinbourough; William, a wine merchant on High Street; David in Anstruther had several sons; George in Strickness was a farmer, also had a family (I was not very well acquainted with any of them); Sophia Robinson and my mother, Mary Young Crookston. Grandfather was about 70 years of age when he died. At the funeral it was decided that my mother take Grandmother home with her which she did and made her comfortable the remainder of her days which were about three years. Her dying wish was that she he buried by Grandfather in Hilrinnce Church Yard. She was buried there where many of our ancestors were also laid.
In Weemy's Parish our home was near a wood. There were many hares and rabbits, wild birds’ nests, heather and whin bushes. It was a beautiful place in summer, commanding a fine view of the south bank of the Firth, or Forth, where could be seen all manner of fishing boats and crafts by the hundreds with May Island between Cyrat and Leith. We could also see East Lothia, south of the Firth. To the northwest there stood the lofty Ben Lomond, spoken of in Burns' Poems, then low hills extending east to Large Law which is quite a large hill. All the slopes of these low hills were covered with farms and fields well cultivated and fenced with hawthorn hedges. It was such a beautiful picture, about harvest time when the green and yellow fields lay side by side. We had a lovely vegetable garden and as mother was a flower lover, we had many beautiful flowers. It was a pleasant happy home and the house rent and coal were free.
I attended school at Weemers. On my way I carried father's breakfast to the top of the coal shaft, it was let down to the miners at nine o'clock each morning. I used to play with four or five other boys along the road which was an old railroad, along the grade liquorice root grew plentifully and we dug it up and chewed on our way to school.
Our school master was Walter Burt. These schools were graded as they are now. The text books consisted of the Bible and spelling book. Writing and arithmetic were also taught. I attended that school until I was about fourteen years of age when Father had me go down in the mine to work with him. I received one fourth of a miner’s wage. When Father had an easy place to work he would do my share and his own and send me out to play awhile. Father was always good to me and sang as merrily as a lark at his work.
We used to go down on summer mornings, the birds would be singing so sweetly, the hares hopping in the furrows among the green wheat fields, the hawthorn hedges white with blossoms. The perfume was so pleasant that it took a stout heart to light a stinking lamp and go down into the bowels of the earth for eight or ten hours. We could take a day’s rest once a week, then we would work in our vegetable garden.
Mother had lots of flowers, many roses and honeysuckles. There were several girls working in the coal pits along with their fathers and brothers. They pushed small cars on the track, containing about 600 pounds each. They were good girls and seemed to be treated with respect. After working hours they always dressed up like ladies. I am glad to say there are now no women allowed to work in coal pits.
When I reached my seventeenth year I went to church with Father and Mother to Burkhaven about three miles distant, lying close to the seashore and inhabited by fishermen. At the close of the morning service, I would take a walk on the seashore and sometimes gather pretty shells. We sometimes went to a public house where we would get some bread and cheese and a bottle of Port, then back to meeting in the afternoon. We thought our preacher was the best in the country because he could deliver his sermon extemporaneously and most ministers read their sermons. Like all the rest he preached faith in the Lord Jesus as being all that was necessary to be saved. A saving faith was all required. Never could understand what he meant by a saving faith although he had been preaching to us for years. At last he said that we had to know that our sins were forgiven before we could be in a saved condition. I began to think he could not tell us how to be saved. I went to hear others to see if they could, but they were all alike, preaching for hire. I began to be uneasy concerning the matter and had no idea but that some of them could be right. My Aunt Sophia and Cousin Margaret Robinson wrote me from Edinburgh that they had joined the Church of Jesus Christ and invited me to come and hear their minister.
Accordingly I went and for the first heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believed every word of it. Elder George D. Watt preached the sermon in Whitefield Chapel, Ediburgh. Orson Pratt organized the branch there and sent Brother Watt to preside. He preached faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance from our sins, baptism by immersion for the remission of our sins, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. He showed that a man must be called of God as was Aaron. I was converted on the spot and was baptized that very evening in Duddenston Lock or Lake. I received a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel and many other things were made known to me concerning the coming forth of the work by the ministering of angels which I thought was just what was needed in the present state of priestcraft. A flood of light burst upon my mind that I had never before experienced. I felt a love for all mankind and I thought that I would only need to tell me people and friends about the true Gospel and I would be able to convert them all, but I soon found this to be impossible.
After my baptism, I bought most of the then published works of the Church. Among them was "The Voice of Warning" by Parley P. Pratt, "Letters" and others so I was pretty well armed. My father, mother and half sister Janet were all soon converted. Some of my friends and neighbors were favorably impressed at first but later they turned their backs upon us and became our most bitter enemies.
Our Minister had no doubt heard something about my trip to Edinburgh, so he came to our house one evening although he had not visited us for some two years. We were regular attendants at his church and he thought I should be there. I told him I had been to Edinburgh and heard the Gospel from men called of God as was Aaron. They preached the same Gospel that Peter did on the day of Pentecost when the multitude were convinced that their sins pricked in their hearts and cried out, "What shall we do to be saved" and Peter answered them, "Repent every one of you and be baptized and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
I told the Minister I had been baptized. He said, "Had you not already been baptized?" I said that I had been sprinkled when an infant but that was a man made device and that infants were innocent and were not subjects for baptism, as Jesus said, "Suffer the little children to come unto me for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."
I cannot go any further into this discussion. Several neighbors had slipped in when they saw the preacher come; thinking perhaps that it would be some entertainment for them. I kept cool and collected and was able to show from the scriptures that what I advanced was the truth which made the Reverend Pollock so angry that he frothed at the mouth and predicted all manner of evil for us, showing to all present, especially my own people, that he had a bad spirit.
Soon after that I sent for Brother Watt to come over and try and raise up a branch. He came and I went to meet him at Dysart where the steamer landed.
When he took my hand I felt that he was the only man that held the Priesthood on the north side of the Firth. It was a beautiful day in the spring of l840. As we walked along all was quiet except for the whistling of the birds. Brother Watt said, "Robert, the Savior said He came not to bring peace to the earth but the sword. There will be more turning over of the leaves of dusty Bibles in the next three months than has been in the past 20 years." And it was so. I rented a large hall for him to preach in and at first the people flocked to hear about the Gospel and nearly twenty were baptized then. When this brother had to leave, he made his home with us while there. When he went home he sent two other Elders who also stayed with us. Their names were William McCann and Robert Menzies. They also preached in the hall I had rented but the people were losing their interest except the few who were really converted.
I was full of enthusiasm and did all I could to further the work. I had some amusing incidents. For instance, I approached an old man, a friend of our family. He listened awhile then laying his hand on my shoulder he chuckled and said, "Ah Crookie, let the Minister do the preaching, he's paid for it."
My father had saved quite a sum of money for his old age and I also had quite a little so we decided to emigrate to America where we could be with the body of the Church. My Aunt Sophia, or Suffie we called her, and Cousin Maggie were anxious to go with us so we told them we would pay their passage. Uncle William Robinson had not joined the Church. He drank a good deal and he and Aunt Suffie were not living together. He felt very bad and wanted to go with us but had no money. He was a good natured, kind man but father and mother did not like him. His daughter loved him and I felt sorry for him and finally the folks consented and we brought him along. We could not afford to pay his passage so we pulled the feather beds to the front of a bunk and hid the old man under the quilts while the inspector went through. All of us would smuggle food down to him and take him up on deck at night for some fresh air. After he had been in Nauvoo awhile he joined the Church but was not robust and died at that place. The folks had to bury him.
Our Scots neighbors thought we were crazy, and as they knew that we could not take much of our possessions with us we had to sell everything at a great sacrifice. But we wanted to come to Zion and be taught by the Prophet of God. We had the spirit of gathering so strongly that Babylon had no claim on us, so on the 7th day of September l84l we sailed from Liverpool on the Ship Sydney.
Captain Cowan, Leiv Richards, President with l80 passengers. Among the number were George Q. Cannon, Angus Cannon and their mother, George D. Watt and family. We had a voyage of eight weeks. It was not a bad trip and we would have enjoyed a lot of it had not mother been ill a lot of the time and a very sad thing happened. The mother of the Cannons died on the ship when in sight of the West India Islands. They were not permitted to land with a body on board so she was consigned to a watery grave. It was a very solemn occasion. At last we were towed up the river to New Orleans and so had a chance to set our feet on terra firma. Our President charted a large steamer which took us up the river l200 miles to St Louis. We rented a house for a month as the river up to Nauvoo was frozen over. When our month was up we took a steamer to Alton, twenty-five miles up the river and got employment in a packing house there. They killed 38,000 hogs during the winter. The people there were very friendly and treated us fine. The wages were low but everything was cheap. Flour was $3.00 per barrel, sugar l8 lbs. per $l.00, and everything else in proportion. When the river opened up we started for Nauvoo, a distance of 300 miles. As we approached the landing place to our great joy we saw the Prophet Joseph Smith there to welcome his people who had come so far. We were all so glad to see him and set our feet upon the Promised Land so to speak. It was the most thrilling experience of my life for I know that he was a Prophet of the Lord.
The only house we could get was a shell of a place made of rails set in the ground and covered with boards 4 feet long, split out of logs. It, of course, was very cold and when it snowed it covered the floor and beds. We were not there long when an old acquaintance of father's from Leith, Scotland, James Fife, who had emigrated a year before us came to see us from Macedonia. He advised us to go there as he thought we could do better. There was a small branch there. Macedonia was a small town of about 80 families, about 25 miles east of Nauvoo and 8 miles from Carthage. We could find no house to rent, so Fifes took us into their home. Father made a bargain with a man for lumber and to hurry the deal up, paid for it. Before we could saw it the stream that ran the mill went dry and we got no lumber for several months.
While there, my brother James and I were called out to attend military drill at Nauvoo. The Prophet Joseph Smith was the general and paraded the Legion. Jimmie was never robust like me. When it came on one of those heavy rains common to that part of the country and we were drenched to the skin he took a severe cold and when we got home he was taken very sick and what is now called pneumonia soon carried him off. In a small chamber off the main room of Brother Fife's house, Mother and Sister Fife did all they could for him with what they had to do with, but he, like many others, died of privation.
Soon after this we were fortunate enough to rent a house from Brother Perkins. We took in a man who was a weaver who had his family still in the old country. He agreed to keep us in firewood id we would let him work in our house and Mother to do his cooking. So they agreed. I thought at least that Father and Mother would be kept warm and as I needed to be earning I went to Alton. I only earned enough to barely subsist on. I caught a severe cold going down the river and was not well for some time. The most I was able to save was two barrels of pottery ware, which I took home with me and sold very readily. We went up the river to Nauvoo on a small steamer called the Maid of Iowa belonging to the Church. It had come from New Orleans and brought a cargo of Saints, a number of whom came from the Isle of Man. Among them was William Waterson, his father and mother, Brother Tarbet, Brother Cowley and family, Brother Crook and family who, after coming to Utah, settled in American Fork. This steamer was much longer on the trip than we expected as the engines were too small to stem the heavy current of the lower Mississippi.
The Prophet and many others were there on the wharf looking for her and waiting to welcome the Saints. The Captain and myself were the only ones on board who had ever seen the Prophet and they were all anxious to have us point him out. I remember Old Crook when he got hold of his hand, said, "I've come a long way to see the Prophet." "Yes," said Brother Joseph, "You have, but you will never regret it." And he never did. He was a faithful Saint and lived to a good old age.
The journey in those days took men and women of faith. It was so long and tiresome. A good many of the people settled in Macedonia. I got a city lot and commenced to build. Brother Fife did the framing. I found a coal mine while looking for rock l2 miles east of Macedonia and on some land called patent land that nobody had claimed. It was the only coal that had been found in that section of the country. I camped there and blacksmiths from Nauvoo and other places sent for coal. The teams came in the evening and the drivers sometimes stayed all night. I often had to work all night to get the loads ready for morning. I did my own cooking which usually consisted of a slice of bacon, and then some of the fat kneaded into some flour with which I baked scones. I went home every Saturday, Father and Mother were always glad to have me come. They were living in our own little home with a prospect of being somewhat comfortable yet. They missed James greatly. Father fenced a piece of land close to town and raised corn, potatoes, and other garden stuff. We also had a good cow on our city lot.
Uncle John Smith, who was President of the Branch and was also a Patriarch, came to our house and always gave us blessings. He also sealed my Father's two wives to him for time and eternity. Brother Joseph had authorized him to seal the old people that might not live to see a temple constructed. We were happy about this, and as the old gentleman was not so very well fixed for clothing, having been driven so much and as we had brought quite a lot of shirting cloth from Scotland, we were able to supply his wants in that respect. The Saints were all willing to divide their substance with each other as long as they had anything to spare.
Joseph and some of the twelve came to Macedonia to preach to us. There was a large gathering of people, members and others. He took his text from the first chapter of the Second Epistle of Peter. There was a portion of which was reported and it appeared in the new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. The place where he preached these sermons was first called Ramas and later Macedonia. He said it was a man’s privilege to have revelations for himself that his name was written in the Lamb's book of life. He preached in a grove that surrounded the house where we lived and in selecting the best place to face the congregation moved his chair nearer the house. The brethren who were with him moved theirs also except Bishop Miller. Joseph said," Brother Miller, are you going to forsake me?" To which he replied, "Oh no, Brother Joseph." But later I met that same man turning his back upon the Church when we were at Winter Quarters. It reminded me of what Jesus said to one of his Disciples. "Will you also turn away?" He said in his remarks that there were three degrees of glory in the Celestial Kingdom, and to attain to the highest a man must abide the law of that Kingdom.
The Prophet Joseph was Mayor of Nauvoo City. Some apostates published a paper with so many malicious lies about our people that the City Council proclaimed it a nuisance. They then raised the hue and cry of rebellion of our people against the government and collected a mob so as to get Joseph in their power.
I was called with a number of the brethren to protect the city. I was just recovering from a spell of fever and ague. My legs were so swollen I could hardly walk the length of a block far less travel twenty miles across a prairie half a leg deep in water about half the distance on account of heavy rains. The fever sores on my legs forbade me getting wet under any ordinary condition, but I had faith in God and the blessing of our grand old Patriarch who promised that I should take no harm and would return in safety to my parents. We started in the evening and reached the city in the morning. We were quartered in a large brick house yet unfinished, belonging to a man by the name of Foster. Joseph reviewed the Legion that day on the flat and spoke encouragingly to them. Drawing his sword he said that if there was a drop of blood spilt it should never again be sheathed until this nation is drenched in blood.
The last time I saw him in life he and his brother Hyrum, Brothers Taylor and Richards were on their way to Nauvoo on horseback. Joseph's horse was a pacer and the other three were trotters. He rode his horse in a kingly manner. I was standing in the doorway of Brother Frocham’s house when they passed. Frocham and his wife and others were there. Brother Frocham's wife, with a look of fear on her pale face, said, "Poor Joseph. We will never see him again," and rushed into the house and threw herself on the bed and wept aloud. Her impression was right. He and his brother were martyred the next day. Our company had been dismissed. Brother Fife and I started for home alone, but we mistook the Carthage road for the Macedonia road and walked into Carthage where we were arrested and placed in Carthage Jail under guard until morning. We were then escorted to the Court House where the Judge merely asked us what we wanted there. Brother Fife had a happy thought and spoke up, saying "We want a pass to Macedonia." The Judge, turning to the clerk said, "Write these gentlemen out a pass to Macedonia."
They had gotten what they wanted. Joseph and Hyrum were in jail and they did not want any more Mormons around so we went home, the distance being about eight miles. We were not molested but we overheard threats as to what would happen to the Smiths, so we went to our Captain and entreated him to call out our brethren and go within a half mile of Carthage to strip off timber and lay in ambush. But he refused saying that the Governor had put the county under martial law and anyone bearing arms under his command would be liable to arrest. We told him we were willing to risk that but he was firm in his purpose. In the afternoon the troops from Macedonia who were friendly to the Mormon prisoners were sent home. They said they would not give a button for the lives of the Smiths, but if that damned old Governor had allowed them to remain they would have seen to it that the prisoners would have had a fair trial. The Governor had left them to the mercy of a mob, while they, themselves, went up to Nauvoo to argue the people about being law abiding citizen, knowing full well that the mob at Carthage were doing their bloody work.
Brother Babbet, lawyer, came home soon after on horseback stating that the mob had given him but five minutes to leave or they would kill him, and he fully expected that our Prophet would be killed.
When the awful tidings reached us the people wept aloud. One could hear the sobs and crying from every quarter. They felt as though the hosts of Hell were let loose to do their murderous work of extermination if possible. The Gentiles approved of the ghastly deed and predicted that it would be the end of Mormonism. I will never forget the heartache and desolate feeling I had when I looked upon the face of our martyred Prophet and Patriarch.
At a conference in October l844 I was ordained a member of the 2lst Quorum of Seventies by President Joseph Young. When the Nauvoo Temple was completed I received my endowment. Soon after which we began to prepare for the migration to the west. Brother Fife started with many others to make the woodwork of our wagons. He made mine and a blacksmith for whom I had furnished coal made the iron. Having a chance to sell my lot I managed to get a yoke of eight year old steers for the house and lot. This was all the team I had. There was a Brother Don Nance by name who had a herd of cattle and horses who kindly lent me a yoke of cattle well broken. He had eight wagons. I helped him to harness his teams and Father rode on horseback and helped to drive the sheep. He had two daughters who drove mule teams. Brother Nance was a good, kind man and all his family were good to us. We traveled over country which was mostly uninhabited. Hardly any roads, and in many places we had to stop and cut bulrushes to put in the swampy holes so that our wagons could pass over. Yet there were no murmurings in the company although we had nothing except what we had in our wagons and knew not where our next stopping place would be or what it would be like. We were cheerful and hopeful for we knew that we were led by men inspired of God. There were several camps made on the way that the people might stop and recruit. Luckily, or unluckily, for me I was not in time to join the Mormon Battalion or I would in all probability have answered the call. There were very few who felt inclined to leave their loved ones and cross a desert to fight the battles of a country which had made outcasts of them, but everyone, loyal to the Priesthood, marched away and God was with them and this fact constitutes one of the best arguments that we can produce to prove our loyalty to the Government.
When we arrived at the Missouri River we drove the cattle in and they swam across, some of the outfits landing a mile below on the other side. There was a ferry boat to take our wagons across at a place called Cutlers Park, where there were several hundred wagons waiting to cross on it. It so happened that my wagon was next to a young man's outfit by the name of John Welch. He was an Englishman who had a young, good looking wife whom he called Eliza, his mother and Sister Ann. Ann was, to my notion, a very attractive young lady, cheerful, refined in manner, a good companionable person with a sweet voice. Many a night she cheered the company with her singing of old songs, many of which were Scottish. In fact, I concluded that there were no songs then written with which she was unfamiliar. They were very fine neighbors, and soon we felt as if we had always known them. My father and mother soon grew very fond of Ann, to say nothing of myself, and I determined to win her if I could. She seemed to have a natural gift for cheering and caring for the sick, and was always on hand to do so without money or price.
About this time, we organized into a company to cut and haul hay. Brother Vance was our captain. Some were to cut, some to rake and some to haul, of which John Welch and I did a lot. Others did the stacking. By that time we had organized our camp on a piece of land near the river, which was called Winter Quarters. Brother Welch and I built our cabins near each other, covered them with cottonwood bark which made a good thatch. We then cut large trees, notched the bark in feet lengths, peeled it off in large flakes, and placed them on the roof. We then weighted them down with other logs to keep them from warping in the sun. While we were building our house we camped out. Father and Mother had their bed in a good sheltered place in a covered wagon box. I am thankful that I did everything I knew how to make them as comfortable as possible. We used to sit around a camp fire of evenings. Father would play his violin and we sang hymns and songs. Father, I thought, was a good singer and Ann would often be with us singing also. In fact the Welch family and ours were quite neighborly. After the house was finished, the winter wood hauled and all, a man came up from Platt County, Missouri, wanting a company of men, all kinds of builders, to go with him to build a mill. He got about twenty men, so on the 20th of November l846 I left Father and Mother and went with them to work in Missouri all winter.
Near Christmastime, about a month after I left, Father died very suddenly. He had apparently been as well as usual, until one day he said to Mother, "Mary, I would like some clean underwear." She got it for him and prepared a bath. He shaved, and while doing so said to her, "Mary, I think I am going to die today. I see a look of death on my face." She was horrified, and said, "James, you must not say such a thing. Jimmie is dead and Rob is away and you can't leave me here alone." He did not argue with her but took his bath, seemed cheerful, and talked a good deal about the old Scotch home and his son George who had not yet emigrated. After awhile he went and opened an old chest, looked over some letters, and then took out a little wooden box made in the shape of a large, red apple cut in half in which were some little trinkets, among which was a lock of golden hair of his first wife. He said, "Mary, ye mon give these things to Georgie when he comes." Mother felt very badly and chided him for giving way to such feelings so he got up and said, "Well, I think I'll just cut out a place in the door and put in a wee bit of glass. It will make the room more light and cheerful." He did so making a nice, neat job of it. He seemed tired out and exhausted when it was finished so as he went toward the bed he said, "Weel, I think I'll just lay me doon and dee." Mother helped to make him comfortable, and being alarmed by that time went to call someone. Some of the neighbors came in and he talked to them, but seemed to be growing weaker, and toward evening quietly passed away.
Mother, naturally, was quite heartbroken and alone in the world. The Welch's of course, came in to try and comfort her and she persuaded Ann to stay with her which she did a great deal of the time. There were many deaths in Winter Quarters that winter. All the lumber used had to be sawed with a whip saw, and some of the people who died were buried without coffins. Mother was afraid that Father would be, but thanks to Father Lot, who used to live on Joseph Smith's and was a good friend of ours, ordered a coffin and said I would pay for it and if not he, himself, would. So Father got a comparatively decent burial and I paid the bill.
Brother Welch was down in Missouri at the time of Father's death. Ann was a great comfort to my Mother. he also helped to nurse some of the sick of which there were a good many. My Mother was among the number. I had my cattle and wagon with me. They had been well wintered and were in good trim when I came home in early spring. I brought a load of provisions and pork up, broke up a lot of land and planted a good garden. The brethren broke up about l500 acres of prairie land and planted corn.
In June, on the 20th day, l847, Ann Welch and I were united in marriage. The ceremony was performed by Elder Joseph Fielding, in our neat, new little cabin. A king in his palace was no happier than I was. I was sure I had the smartest girl in the camp of Israel. Her words were like proverbs; she was well read and had a wonderful memory. She had one of the sweetest voices I had ever heard and often entertained us with reciting the poems of Robert Burns and many others. She was a splendid housekeeper, always keeping within our means and had quite a good understanding of the use of herbs which came in handy very often.
About two months after our marriage I left my wife and Mother. My brother-in-law, John and I went to Savanna, Andrew County, Missouri, to work. It was about l40 miles and we got work at digging a well. We struck water at 40 feet and the people were delighted. We got a good number of wells to dig for them and they were always ready to pay us when the work was done. Although it was the state that had driven the people out, yet it was far north of the county where they had lived and died and there seemed to be no mob spirit there.
It had been predicted by the leaders that those who needed an outfit to go on to the valleys of the mountains and went down to Missouri to make one would find employment and be blessed. If they stayed after they had sufficient means to come on, the Lord would cease to bless them and they would grow poor, lose the good spirit and be unable to follow the Church. This I have seen bitterly fulfilled. There were brethren there who were much better off than we. They thought they would just stay one year more. The last I heard of them they had not emigrated. The counsel we had received was for us not to come on without eighteen month's provisions so that a good sized family had to have two wagons, so we had to stay until the crops were harvested. We stayed in Savannah until late in the fall then went home.
While we were away, Ann, my wife, had been taking care of Mother who was getting old but who was pretty well. She also had been helping care for any sick in the camp. One of these whom she had visited frequently was a lady, Mrs. Holland by name, who had lost her husband. She had two or three sons, boys rather, and a little girl, Carolyn by name. It seemed that this Mrs. Holland had been influenced to remarry with the promise of getting herself and children taken to the valleys of the mountains. She had not been as comfortable in this marriage as she had expected in more ways than one. She was very sick and very unhappy in the thought that perhaps she was not going to get well, and did not like the prospect of leaving Carrie in the family into which she had married. She therefore asked Ann one day if she would take Carrie in case she died. Ann did not know what to say to this. She told her she would be willing but that her husband was away and she could not do so without first consulting him. As it happened, I came home about that time We decided to take the little girl home with us in case her mother did not recover. The poor little soul passed away in a few days and after the funeral which we both attended we took Carrie by the hand home with us and she seemed glad to go. Carrie was a good little girl and we tried to do the best we could for her. We were all fond of her, Mother took her in her bed and was kind to her.
Soon after this we moved to Savannah. John and I had engaged a house of William Manning two miles east of Savannah. There we two families lived in this house. We dug a well there on the place. The owners were so pleased that they would do anything they could for us. We fixed up the place better than it ever had been. We lived well for those times and our cattle were well wintered. We considered our cattle and wagon our temporal salvation. There were no Vain or Schullter Wagons in those days. They were all homemade and the timber was not very well seasoned. We moved from there the next spring to another place, rented a farm and a house for each family from a man by the name of Rhodes. They were good neighbors and seemed to like us. It was what would be called a backwoods, but it was a pretty place; there were large quantities of wild fruit, crab apples, blackberries, and hazel nuts.
There on July 27 l848 our first son was born. That day my wife said was the happiest day of her life and I certainly was a proud and happy father. He was a fine baby, grew fast and was unusually bright. We called him George after her little brother who had died in Nauvoo.
We stayed there two years and got plenty of work and gathered around us the things which we needed, we also were treated well. We moved from there into the town of Savannah where the most of our work was. I rented a house at the edge of the town where there was a large pasture where we could keep the cattle. We also dug a well for the owner, Monroe by name. This paid for our house rent. While there a great excitement arose over the gold mine in California and Brother Welch, being a cutter, started to make Bowie knives to sell to the emigrants who all wanted a knife with a guard on the handle and a scabbard to hang on their belts, also a pair of goggles before they could cross the plains. Our women folks were able to make the goggles. Mother and Ann made them at 25 cents a pair. They sold $l8.00 worth. Many a man left there expecting to make his everlasting fortune, but goodness only knows how many found their dreams realized. When they got to Great Salt Lake City they were so excited by seeing a few small sacks of gold dust they exchanged their whole outfit of three or four yoke of cattle, wagons loaded with provisions for a couple of plug ponies to pack what they could and rush on the rest of the way. These things were just what the people of Salt Lake needed and what Heber C. Kimball predicted.
When the people were getting badly off for clothing and other necessities and could not see their way clear to obtain any more, this servant of the Lord stood up and told them that they need not be discouraged for there would be goods brought there and sold cheaper than could be bought in St. Louis. He almost doubted it himself, after he had said it, but it came nevertheless according to his predictions.
Before leaving the Rhodes place another son was born to us on the l8th of October, l849, at Savannah, Andrew County, Missouri, and named William after Ann's other brother who died in Nauvoo. He was a fine boy like the first.
While we lived in Savannah I dug a well a piece for most of the businessmen and got good pay so that when we left there in l85l I had two yoke of oxen, two yoke of cows and a good outfit of clothing and provisions for the family. We started in company with Brothers Welch, Gray and Lever. The season was so rainy that the roads were very bad to travel. The streams were running over their banks and covering the bottom land on both sides half a mile wide. There were the Noday, the two Turocs and the Nabhonabatona, four large streams which we had to cross in ferry boats between Savannah and Kanesville.
At Jackson Point, Holt County, Missouri, another son was born to us on the lst day of June l85l, a week after we started on our journey. We named him John.
We arrived at Keg Creek where there was a branch of the Church presided over by Lilis T. Coons at a place called Glenwood. Here we were counseled to remain until spring as it was too late in the season to cross the plains. Here I built a good log cabin and corral, thinking that I would be able to sell it for what it cost me as the place was expected to become the county seat. I was disappointed and only got twenty dollars for the house, lot and corral. Brother John Welch and I rented a piece of land to raise corn to feed our cattle that we might have them in good order for the spring.
Here my mother was very ill and died. Before dying she said one day that she felt like she did not care to go on, that she had rather not go any farther away from where Father was laid. So I had buried them all now in the course of our travels, my brother James, Father and Mother. We missed our dear Mother, she and Ann were good companions. She used to help nurse the children of whom she was very fond. She would sing all manner of old Scotch ditties to them. George would climb on her knee and say,"Sing, Granny, telling her what song. She would say, "Oh, you Bairne, ye make you auld Granny daft."
I took a team and went back to Missouri to make another outfit and was glad that we had little Carrie to be some company to Ann and the children. There was a young man, James Curry, a blacksmith, with whose family I had been acquainted from my earliest recollection. I was the means of bringing the Curry family into the Church. They came from Estrette in Fife Shire, Scotland. They were at this time in Coonsville. James and John Welch worked together. He stayed at Welch's and Ann cooked his meals. He proved a very good friend to us, was kind to the wife at doing chores and cutting firewood. I got work again and came back with a good lot of supplies.
We started once more to try and reach the Valley, as we called it, early in the season or as early as possible. There were ten wagons. Captain Betz, a blacksmith, John Welch, Mr. Workman, Serogy and myself. The Indians were bad at times on the plains so it was advised that the people travel in large companies. We traveled between large companies, sometimes being one day apart from them. In Indian country we traveled with other small companies when there were signs of danger.
We saw a great many Indians near the Black Hills, but had no trouble. We always had a night guard to watch the cattle. We traded flour to the Indians for buckskin and buffalo robes. We killed a large buffalo and divided the meat, each getting a washtub full. We jerked the meat by hanging it in the smoke of the campfire at night to dry it and prevent it from spoiling. We saw Indians every few days but had no trouble with them. We had our wagon box made with projection boards so our beds could be made up at night with our provision boxes underneath. We had a door in the side of the wagon box and Mother Ann could step out when the wagon was moving. We had a large yoke of red oxen on the tongue, one yoke of cows, and a yoke of four year old steers on the load. The buffalo we killed was at the North Platte, the meat was very good.
We had no trouble on the plains with Indians, were comparatively well, and were very anxious to see the Valley. We knew that we would be very glad to settle down after our weary march. We arrived in Salt Lake City, September l852.
I bought a choice adobe house in the first ward and lived there two years. We had a good garden of different kinds of vegetables.
Our baby boy James was born in Salt Lake City, April 27, l853. He seemed delicate and died in his second year, September l8, l854.
I worked in Red Butte Canyon quarry under Bishop John Sharp. I also worked in the limestone quarry with Adam Hunt and Andrew Burt. He was the father of Captain Andrew Burt of the police in Salt Lake City, who was killed by a Negro, while on duty in l883. I helped load the cornerstones of the Salt Lake Temple and was present when the stones were laid.
We moved again in l856 to the 20th Ward. That year my half brother George came from Scotland and he and two of his sons worked in the temple quarries. I continued to work there until l857. When Johnston's Army came in I was in John Sharp's Company in Echo Canyon the winter of l857. We built tents of poles covered with grass and cedar bark, big enough for ten men to sleep in and do their cooking. We stayed there all winter.
In the spring I took my family south to Payson, Utah County, while the army marched through Camp Floyd. I built a house in Payson. My nearest neighbors were Hezekiah Thatcher and William Booker Preston, later Bishop Preston. When Johnston's Army was stationed at Camp Floyd, I in company with Mr. Bellingston went out there and made dobies for barracks for the Army. We also hauled cedar for firewood and sold it to the Quartermaster. We would camp in the cedars and make a load each day. In l859, I moved to Moroni, Sanpete County. We lived there until l854, but I am ahead of my story.
While in Salt Lake City our son Robert was born on March 6, l855. He was our fifth son. We used to say Robert was our first son born in the covenant as not long before he was born we were privileged to go to the Endowment House and receive our blessings and sealing. On October 22, l857, our sixth son Nicholas Welch Crookston was born in Salt Lake City.
While in Sanpete County, our eldest son George died on March 6, l862. This was our greatest sorrow. Ann never seemed hardly reconciled to losing her bonny, blue eyed boy and as for myself it was a real bereavement.
While at that little settlement we made some very close friends who were our neighbors. One family in particular was the family of N. L. Christensen. They were more like relatives than just friends. Also the Coveys and Lutzes and others. Ann was a member of the choir.
Benjamin Franklin Crookston was born October 22, l860 at Moroni, Sanpete County. David Crookston was born also at Moroni, Sanpete County, October 24, l862.
While living at Moroni, I was persuaded to go north to Cache Valley by Hezekiah Thatcher and his sons. They had visited the valley and said it was a fine valley with a beautiful townsite, the coming city of Logan, through which flowed the Logan River. The people were digging canals and they wanted to build a flour mill and wanted me to go with them to do quarry and mason work. I came to Cache Valley and liked the looks of it fine. I also was very glad to meet some of my old friends and fellow travelers. I went back to Moroni and told my wife about the place. She did not seem to be very enthused about leaving Moroni. Of course, it was hard to be moving around about every three or four years. I could see that she was getting tired of it, but I thought we would be better fixed after awhile, and I liked the prospect fine, so we got ready to travel. We were very sorry to leave our good neighbors and also the grave of our boy. We paid a visit to my brother George who was then living at American Fork, also my sister Janet Hutchison.
(This is as far as Robert Crookston got with his history. The following is written by Mary Crookston Farmer, his only daughter.)
Father bought a city lot ten by eighteen rods with a small house of logs upon it. It stood on the ground where the Pala D'Or dance hall now stands. (Later Sears) He bought it from Nathanial Haws. It was in the middle of the block between 2nd and 3rd North, on the west side of Main Street. They had a well.
Soon after my folks settled there father helped to build the old Thatcher flour mill and other buildings. Mother said that when they drove into Logan up Main street going north they were about in front of where the Tabernacle now stands, she said to Father, "Now Rob, where from here are you taking me?" He pointed north about two blocks and said, "You see those big cottonwood trees up there? Well, that's the place." She said, "Well, I hope I'll never move again while I live. I'm tired of it." And she never did.
On October l6, l864 Daniel was born, the ninth son. In l870 on the 7th of April, I, Mary Ann Crookston, was born, making the tenth child. Mother said to me one day, "You ought to be a very nice, good girl, Mary, you know you are the tenth. That should be the tithing." I guess I was quite a little girl, and I thought, "Wouldn't it be awful if they had to pay me in for tithing?" Then the thought came, "Well I won't go. She can just pay one of the boys, she has ten boys now." I guess they did not want to get rid of me as Mother said they were all delighted to have a sister. On the l8th of May l873, Ezra was born, the tenth boy and the eleventh child.
Ezra and I were born in our new house. It was finished in l870. I remember it quite distinctly It was a long house, two rooms in front, a living room at the south and a bedroom on the north, we had a large fireplace, a large kitchen at the back and west and two bedrooms upstairs. Under the stairs was a closet opening from the living room. I remember that there was a wooden keg in the closet with peaches preserved with the stones in, done in molasses, also crabapples in a big earthen crock. They were very handy, too, with the stems on. Then Mother had watermelon preserves and potawatomy plums. Mother also had lots of dried apples, plums, sweet corn, and beans. I neglected to mention that we had lots of native currants, black and yellow.
They used to clean them, then scald them a little to set the juice, then spread them out to dry. We used to parch corn on the kitchen stove in a frying pan. If we could get any sweet corn we thought we had a treat. Nothing went to waste in those days. When there would be a squash cut up to cook for pie or baking we would get the seeds, and dry them to eat by the fireside.
I remember while we lived in that house Rob brought home a small harp, or lyre. It hung on a nail on the wall above an old lounge which could be drawn out large enough for a double bed. At night we had gray linsey sheets for winter which Mother had spun the yarn for. I remember her walking back and forth pulling the wool out. I used to wonder how she got it so fine without it breaking, which it did sometimes. She would pause and take up the ends and splice it, then go on with her singing to the hum of the gib wheel. Maybe the song would be, "I'll hang my harp on a willow tree" or "Gentle Annie" or "Love Not " or "The Mistletoe Bough" or perhaps a hymn. She seemed to have an unlimited supply. It seemed to me that my Mother was just a little smarter than any of the women whom I knew. She used to have a lot of herbs hanging in bunches to dry; dandelion hops, sage, plantain, burdock, catnip, mullen, peppermint, spearmint, elder, oldman, parsley, yarrow, tansy, and a lot more. If anyone came to her complaining of an ailment she would fix up something or tell them how to prepare it for themselves.
I remember high piles of logs at the back of the house, and the boys would saw a great block off and split it for the stove or fireplace. They used to bring in a large piece they called the back log and put it at the back, then build a fire in front of it. The log would burn all night and sometimes longer. Mother had candles on the mantle place, and lots of times we did not need them, the fire was so bright. I've seen Mother making those candles many times. I've also seen her make a light for the boys to take upstairs with just a little tallow on a saucer with a little bit of white rag in for a wick.
She used to try to have new stockings for us for Christmas. I remember mine had striped legs of gray and red or black and red. She could read and knit at the same time, and she did read a great deal. It was worthwhile reading, consisting or history, standard novels such as Scott's Waverly novels, Dickens, and anything worthy of reading. She took some of the first church publications: Juvenile, Woman's Exponent, and Deseret News.
|Robert Crookston house|
About the new house, Mother loved the log house and thought it good enough. She said she did not want it pulled down, but my older brothers wanted a frame one and were willing to go to the canyon and get out the timber. Brother Nick had been working with a Mr. Gen Clough, a builder, for quite awhile and had gotten experience as a carpenter, so they built the new house and I thought it was a wonder. It had a large front sitting room, a bedroom, clothes closet in front, a large kitchen with a porch on the south, a pantry and another small room on the north. The kitchen was very convenient, in fact, we almost lived in it. It had two windows on the west, one on the south, built in bookshelves on the south, a sink and kitchen table by the pantry on the northwest, a little built in nook over the sink for spices and other little things, a large cupboard for the china and other tall things, a nice corner to sit with a big rocker and a lounge, a dining table in the center, and a wainscoting about three feet high all around the room. The big kitchen stove stood on the west side between the two windows. All the housework was done on the side with the sink. Mother planned the room, she wanted to be able to get a meal without going in front of anyone when they were sitting down if they were all at home. I can see her in my memory going to and from the stove to the pantry or cupboard preparing supper. She would start up a hymn or a song in her sweet soprano, we would all join her, and there were enough of us to make a chorus. When I think of it now it seems like a little bit of heaven. We had two bedrooms upstairs and a wide landing large enough for a bed and a clothes closet. The house was trimmed with a lot of scroll work and painted tan and white. I thought we had the prettiest house in town. We had some beautiful box elder trees on the lawn and always there was a good swing beneath a large tree. South of the house was a well from a spring which was always cold and clear and plentiful all the year round. On the front was a portico over which grew a Virginia creeper. There were lots of hollyhocks, purple lilacs and other shrubs.
We had another well for the cattle and horses at the back under another tree near the barn. We had a shed in the garden with several hives of bees and nearly always we had plenty of honey.
Father raised sugar cane and we could make molasses candy all winter and pop corn. The south porch was a nice place to sit of a summer evening. Another big tree hung over it. There was a large barn at the back of the lot and quite often the boys made their beds up on the loft on the hay. It usually had plenty of hay for comfort. We always had chickens to furnish our eggs and a couple of pigs to kill in winter and also a cow and horses.
In l880 he contracted to do the rock work on the upper canal along the face of the mountain, using his sons to help. This was a two year job. In l882 he established a rock quarry in Logan Canyon, on the north side east of the powerhouse spillway. He helped construct the Logan Temple. He walked to work, back and forth from his home on North Main Street in Logan to the quarry until he was 80 years old. About that time, l900, other building material became available, thus lessening the demand for rock.
He worked as a stone mason on the Tabernacle, Temple, 4th Ward and Mendon church buildings a great deal, donating his work. He built rock homes, some of them still stand in Logan, Mendon and Wellsville. The Thatcher Mill, Relic Hall and three rock houses on second and third west, which I know of, are still intact.
|Robert Crookston at 90|
Ann died in 1904. From the age of 80 until he was 90, Robert was at his home, rather retired, tending his garden and church. His health was generally good, he never had to have a doctor. As years passed on, his hearing and sight grew impaired. His daughter Mary and her husband Pleasant Farmer lived with him and took care of his needs until they moved to Bancroft, Idaho. Then he moved in with his son Nicholas.
He passed away on September 2l, l9l6, on his 95th birthday, at his son’s home in North Logan. He is buried in the Logan Cemetary.
This history can be found in the Utah State University Special Collection. Thanks to Grandma Melva for sharing it with us. If you are interested in reading it in it entirety or to see the scanned handwritten copy please email jay.shelley at gmail dot com.