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423) AN ENDURING LEGAGY IMMIGRANT PIONEERS Myron Abbott Myron Abbott was born 2 December 1837 in a log house at Perry, Pike County, Illinois. His parents, Joseph Stephen Abigail Smith Abbott were young pioneers, having arrived in Illinois less than a year before Myron s birth. They had bought a quarter section of land from the government, built a log house and proceeded to make a living for their rapidly growing family. Myron was the sixth child of Stephen and Abigail Abbott. Emily, their oldest child was ten at the time of Myron s birth and was followed at two-year intervals by Charilla, Phoebe, Lydia Lucina, and Abiel. Myron was followed by two more sisters: Cynthia born in 1839 and Abigail born in 1842. Concerning Myron s birth, Abigail records the following: "On the first day of December 1837 our son, Myron, was born, a promising child. My daughters went out in the garden and found a beautiful rose although the season for that flower was long past. I took it as an omen of promise and rejoiced. There is nothing unusual or strange in this, for a mother, but after many years when it became known that through him alone descended his father s name, the incident may be worthy of preservation. As enthusiastic converts to Mormonism, Stephen and Abigail moved to Nauvoo in 1842. Their family now included eight children; Myron was five years old. The family had been in Nauvoo about a year when on October 19, 1843, Myron s father died suddenly of pneumonia, leaving his young wife and children. The Prophet Joseph Smith spoke at Stephen s funeral, giving comfort and hope to the grief stricken widow. Abigail later recorded that she planted some morning glories on his grave and left him there to rest. The location of Stephen s grave is not known at this time but a memorial to him and Abigail is located at Abigail s grave in Willard, Utah. The following years were challenging to the Abbott family. While sickness and poverty were rampant in Nauvoo, Abigail and her family had, perhaps, more than their share. Myron said that many times they lay prostrate on their beds of sickness with fever and ague and not one of them able to help the other. Many years later he wrote of this period: One morning we arose from our beds without one thing in the house to eat. My mother called her children around her and we all knelt down and called upon the Lord to help in that trying hour. Although she always prayed in her family, this was a time long to be remembered. After praying, my mother and I went forth to work in the garden to plant a few seeds. I found a dime that had been lost in a pile of straw that lay on the garden spot. The
day before we had set fire to it and it had burnt over and the ashes blew off and left the money uncovered. When I showed Mother what I had found how her poor heart leaped with joy. She exclaimed, "Now we can have something to eat." Thus my poor mother s prayers were heard and answered. I will here say we had one cow that gave us a little milk. We sent and got about fifteen pounds of flour with the dime and had a little thickened milk and you cannot imagine how much rejoicing there was in our family. Several years of religious persecution culminated with the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the expulsion of the Mormons from Nauvoo. Under constant harassment from enemies, Abigail was forced to sell her home and twenty acres of fenced farm land for ten dollars or nothing. Abigail chose the ten dollars and then with her little family fled across the Mississippi River to Iowa. From the west side of the Mississippi, nine-year-old Myron witnessed the burning of Nauvoo and the destruction of all their earthly possessions. In Iowa, they lived in an abandoned schoolhouse, sharing it with another familly by the name of Wilson. It was here that Myron s oldest sister, Emily, now a lovely young lady of nineteen years, married Edward Bunker, who was to become a dominating influence throughout Myron s life. Step by step the Abbott family moved across the plains as a part of the Mormon exodus. From the banks of the Mississippi they moved to Garden Grove, Council Bluffs, Winter Quarters and Mosquito Creek, experiencing the almost unbelievable hardships that accompanied the poor of Zion." In understanding the future events of Myron s life, it is important to remember that polygamy was a sacred doctrine of the Mormon religion. Before leaving Nauvoo, his mother Abigail was married "for time" to Captain James Brown, a close friend of her husband. Tradition relates the friends had agreed that in the event one of them should die, the other would marry his widow and care for her and the children. Captain Brown already had a large family and other dependents. He also had church responsibilities and was an important figure during the Mormon Battalion epoch. Nevertheless, he did all he could to help Abigail reach the Great Salt Lake Valley. Abigail, in return, was valiant in being of service to his wife and family in times of need. Abigail and her children arrived in Salt Lake City in the fall of 1848 and moved immediately to Ogden. Captain Brown provided Abigail with ten acres of land in the area of what is now Washington Avenue. They built a three room log house with a dirt roof Abigail later recorded, "We praised God for giving us this beautiful and peaceful valley in the mountains of Utah. For the next ten years Myron grew up in the Ogden area. Little is recorded of this period except that Myron was taught by his mother to read and write and "factor." He learned to work hard and excelled in almost every pioneer skill. He was taught
the principles of Mormonism and was a strict adherent to these principles all of his life. On the 25th of April, 1861, Myron married the beautiful Laura Josephine Allen. She was a few days beyond her fifteenth birthday. Myron and his bride moved into a little log cabin near the Riverdale bridge and it was there on February 15, 1862, that Myron Alma was born, the first of their eight children. When Myron Alma was a few months old the family moved to Toquerville in Southern Utah where they planned to make their permanent home. Years later Myron Alma recorded the strange events that sent them traveling again. My father took up a farm on the LaVerkin Creek a little east of Toquerville and seemed to be doing well. My mother s father and family lived here, and they both had many friends. Everything indicates that they intended to make a permanent home, when a little incident occurred that changed it all, and sent them traveling again. Some cows belonging to our people got into the field of an Indian chief who drove them far away up in a box canyon. My father trailed them down and brought them back. Sometime later in a quarrel with the chief, who drew his bow and arrow, father struck him with a spade and broke his arm. This made quite a commotion between whites and Indians so it was thought best that father go back to Ogden. This was in the fall of 1863. In Ogden Myron bought fifteen acres of sub marginal farm land and worked hard for several years trying to make a living for his family. Unable to make enough on the farm, he was forced to find work away from home, leaving his young wife in Ogden to care for the children. Laura Josephine was by now nineteen years old and the mother of three: Myron Alma Myna," Stephen and Luella. Myron Alma said that his father I came home as often as he possibly could, bringing food to sustain the family. He particularly remembered dried fish and, on one occasion, fresh bear meat. It is evident both partners were equal to the roles of pioneer life. About 1867-68 Myron sold the farm and moved his family up into Ogden Canyon were he worked at Wheeler s Mill. After a year or so there he moved the family back to Ogden. He got a job as cook on a work train which provided an ample income of seventy five dollars a month. In the spring of 1869, they moved to Plymouth in Box Elder County and commenced farming again. They soon had a comfortable home, an orchard, a garden and a few animals and while not exactly thriving, were living, anyway. It was about this time that the young marriage began to run into trouble. In accordance with the Church doctrine of polygamy, Myron courted and married a second wife, Emily Pauline Malan Farley, who was a young Italian convert. She had recently divorced her first husband. Polygamy, as practiced by the Mormons, required that the first wife (or wives) must give their consent before the husband could marry another wife. Indeed, the ideal situation was to have the wife (or wives) give the husband another wife. It is evident that Laura Josephine had difficulty accepting a second wife. The marriage occurred October 10, 1870.
During the next seven years, Laura Josephine gave birth to three more children and Emily had a daughter. Myron Alma records the unhappiness that entered their home as quarrels and disagreements became common between his parents. Eventually, in M ay 1877, a divorce was granted which has remained a heart ache to the family even to this, the fourth and fifth, generations. In accordance with the law and by the choice of the children, Myron was given custody of the six older children: Myron Alma, Stephen, Luella, James, William and John who was five years old. Laura Josephine received custody of Josepha Jane and Abigail Josephine who were babies. Laura Josephine herself was only thirty-one years old. In summing up the reason for this tragic divorce, Stephan Abbott Robison, a granddaughter, termed it Pride, Poverty and Polygamy. Although both parties remarried and reared families, their love for each other never died. M any times throughout the years Myron recorded such poignant passages in his diary as: "February 19, 1881 Luella got a letter from my little daughter Josepha Jane who is in California with her mother. We all shed many tears and the children all wrote to her. Many reflections passed through my mind." Not only did the divorce leave Myron without Laura Josephine but Emily also divorced him and remarried her first husband. Soon after the divorce, Myron and his children moved to Bunkerville, Nevada, at that time known only as Mesquite Flat. Myron s brother-in-law, Edward Bunker, was spearheading a social experiment in United Order, another Mormon doctrine. When the Abbott family arrived at Mesquite Flat on a bitter cold November day in 1877, there was already an advance party there which included the Edward Bunker families, Dudley Leavitt families and the Lemuel Leavitt family, among others. Determined to put his unhappiness behind him and build a brighter future, Myron immediately plunged into the challenges at hand. He did all he could to strengthen the United Order, which was already in trouble, and rebuild family ties for his motherless children. Lemual Leavitt had lost three wives in quick succession and was the father of a large family. He was married to Mary Ann Morgan at that time, a former widow, who had added her two children to the circle of half brothers and sisters and had given birth to another by Lemual. Myron chose as his wife Lemual s sixteen year-old daughter, Lovisa, and they were married January 11, 1878. Myron Alma was less than a year younger than his new stepmother and did not greet the marriage with enthusiasm. Three years after Myron married Lovisa, Myron Alma married Lovisa s little half-sister, sixteen-year old Mary Matilda; and Luella, also sixteen, married Lovisa s brother Thomas Dudley. This created a strange intermingling of relationships not uncommon in that day.
Life at Bunkerville was difficult. It was a hostile climate and the pioneers were not only testing a new geographic area, but also a new social order. The United Order was doomed for failure in spite of the dedication of the community and in 1880 it was dissolved. The participants paid off the company debts and divided what was left of the property. Very few were solvent. Myron had some farm land and a large family to work it. He also had a lifetime of experience in pioneering. Myron s diary reflects the role of the unsung ghost writers of history. I worked on the ditch, the headgate broke." Myna shod the horses,Stephen watered." I plowed, Myna scraped, Stephen worked on the ditch. "I plowed for Indian Tom and then let little Willy plow the rest of the day and I gathered some cane seed." "Myna and Stephen went to St. Thomas for salt." "I hauled hay. The little boys set out cuttings." "I made adobes for the house." Along this line, Myron recorded the following: Stephen and I and the little boys worked on the house. Myna watered the grain. Just as we got the house finished it fell down and came very near killing our babe (this would be Mary Isabelle, Lovisa s second child). It filled the cradle with adobes and bruised her head and face badly. I took my wife and our babies to William Lay s to stay until I got the house fixed again. Stephen Bunker helped me get the things out of the debris and invited us to eat there a few times. A major source of income for the settlers of Bunkerville was the hauling of salt from St. Thomas to St. George and Santa Clara. This was done on a regular basis. It was usually Myna" and Stephen who would take the team and wagon and make the long two- or three-day trip to St. Thomas, blast out a load of salt and return to Bunkerville. From Bunkerville it was another two- or three day trip to St. George and Santa Clara where the salt was traded for commodities. It was a community affair with several wagons traveling together. In Santa Clara Myron would stay at the home of Samuel Knight whose youngest wife, Laura Melvina, was a sister to Lovisa. When the Knights visited Bunkerville, they often stayed at the home of Myron and Lovisa. Frequently, they brought their daughter Emily, the daughter of wife Caroline and Laurie, the daughter of Melvina. In the spring of 1884, Myron recorded, My daughter Luella got a letter from her mother in California that my youngest daughter by my first wife had died on 6 February 1884 at Upper Lake, Lake County, California. The news filled my heart with sorrow and gladness-sorrow because I could never see her in this life, and joy because the Lord had taken her out of this wicked world free from sin. She was young and innocent when I saw her last in 187 7 ." A year later, Myron again was grieved by the death of his beloved Stephen. While blasting out salt at St. Thomas, he was killed in a cave-in. The relationship between the Myron Abbott family and the Samuel Knight family resulted in Myron taking Samuel s daughter Emily for his polygamous wife. The romance was not without problems. Myron s diaries suggest that he also courted Laurie but
met with stern resistance from Lovisa. Lovisa was twenty-five years old and the mother of five children. Emily Knight was only slightly younger than Lovisa, and they appeared to be good friends. Emily often helped Lovisa during illnesses or times of heavy work. Laurie was Lovisa s niece. The courtship continued over a period of three or four years. Finally in March 1894, Lovisa and Myron s son John accompanied Myron on a salt hauling trip to St. George. They stayed at the home of Samuel Knight. Myron and Emily went to the temple and were married. Myron, Lovisa and John then returned to Bunkerville and nothing more is mentioned of Emily until May when Myron took another load of salt to St. George and returned with Emily. Lovisa had eight more children and Emily had two. The marriage to Emily, however, eventually ended with a divorce and an annulment of the sealing in March 1894. Myron was a faithful church worker. He served in the Sunday School for many years and seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. He loved parties and dances. He was frequently called upon to write letters for others, pull teeth, dress the dead, make coffins, administer to the sick, mediate quarrels. He was a good public speaker and was often asked to speak at conference, funerals, or special events. He brought into Bunkerville many young fruit trees and grape cuttings that are still growing in the area. He was very tenderhearted where his wives and children were concerned. He eventually became the father of twenty-four children. He had a deep love for each of his children and was loved by each, of them. He kept close to his mother, sisters and brother Abiel. Myron and Lovisa lived out their lives in Bunkerville, Most of their children reached maturity and married. Myron Alma Myna" describes the last events of his father s life: My father, now nearly seventy and in failing health, came to see me. My wife and I made it our business to show him a good time. We took him to Fish Lake and camped several days and then went on down to Loa where he took treatments from Patriarch Blackburn, who had a great reputation as a healer. We took him to the Blackhawk War Veterans reunion at Ephraim. He enjoyed himself much, then I took him to Ogden where he met many of his old friends and relatives and said goodbye to all of them. He said that he enjoyed it and that it was the climax of his life. He went home, put his affairs in order and died September 3, 1907. He was a good man, and had been active, vigorous, industrious and honest all his life. His children loved him very much and regard his life as successful, though the means he had accumulated were pitifully small." Lovisa lived ten years after Myron died surrounded by her numerous children, grandchildren, friends and relatives. She died April 6, 1917 at the age of fifty-six and was buried beside her husband at Bunkerville, Nevada.
Laura Josephine passed away January 22, 1924. Again, Myron Alma tells the bittersweet ending of her long and controversial life: In 1903, my mother went back to California and after married an elderly widower named Blake. They lived at Fortuna, California, for a while but later moved to Long Beach where one of his daughters lived. My son, Brooks, visited them there while doing missionary work in California. He reported that she was apparently contented but aging fast. Finally, she came to live with her eldest daughter, Mrs. Ella Leavitt (Luella) at Bunkerville, December 2, 1922. She was failing fast. In January 1924 I was called to her bedside. My sons, Perry and Brooks, went with me and we did all we could to comfort her in her last hours. Two of her daughters came from California also. She died January 22, 1924. We built a vault and after an impressive funeral service, laid her away beside our father with his other wife, Lovisa.
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