Jesse Perkins Family Called to Settle Southern Utah

For twenty-years Jesse had made Bountiful, Utah a pleasant home for Rhoda and their children.  Here they had prospered after the deaths of his brothers and parents.  Here too, all but their two oldest children were born and raised, and now three of those sons had brought home new brides.  Other than a trip with his son Brigham, to see the land between here and Soda Springs, Idaho, Jesse never made a serious look at any other relocation opportunities after their arrival in Utah.  It’s true that he had served two missions for the church, away from home—one in Nevada and one in the Southern States, but there was no desire to move to any other locale.  And, at age 56, being comfortably settled in their nice home, Jesse was not planning to go anywhere else.

However, Brigham Young, as Prophet of the Lord, and President of the Church, had a long history of “calling” people from their comfortable residences, and asking them to sell their property and relocate in far away places to help build up branch colonies for the good of their entire economy.  No member of the Perkins family would ever consider not responding positively to such an obligation—it was just not a part of their thinking or intention.  A call from the Prophet was a call from the Lord.  There was no discussion about “if” it would be accepted, but only a matter of how quickly could they could get their affairs in order so that they could fulfill their call. 

Their son, Brigham Y. Perkins, records this story:

In the summer of 1875 {either in very late July, or early August}, my father, with his entire family, was called by President Young to go help build up the Southern part of Utah.  We sold our good old home to Bro. Walker of Salt Lake City for $7,500, part cash on Walker Bank, and part store pay in the Walker store of Salt Lake City, Utah.  Brother John H. had already sold his home and a part of the ten-acre place to Brother Thomas (James?) for $1000, making in all for our homes and property in Bountiful, $8,500.   This was enough to enable us to procure good outfits to travel with teams, wagons, harness, and other materials to take along that we might make another start wherever we might locate.  We trusted that the Lord would direct us aright, to where we could establish ourselves (in) good homes somewhere in Southern Utah. 

On August 30, 1875, we started from Bountiful, Davis County, going southward upon our mission, having lived in Bountiful for over twenty-five years.  At Salt Lake City, we made a short stop near George B. Wallace’s place at 168 N. 2nd W., 17th Ward.  {George Wallace was the father-in-law to both Brigham and Heber Perkins.  These two Wallace daughters, were leaving their parents and families in order to migrate with the Perkins group.}  Finding a place to camp and to pasture our animals near the upper West Jordan Bridge, we decided to remain there for about a week getting better prepared for our journey south.  Some of us attended the funeral of President George A. Smith in the big Tabernacle.  President Brigham Young was one of the speakers.

After everything was ready, we again started upon our journey, going as far as York where we stopped again for about one week.   The family at this time consisted of seventeen souls, married and single, young people and children.  Our equipment consisted of one good 3 ½ Nailor wagon, one good 3 ½ Shuttle wagon, one 3 ½ Studebaker wagon, two 3 ½ Shuttler wagons and a wagon 3 inches, the make I do not recall; a light 2 ½ two-seated spring Shutler wagon with a top and curtains that could be rolled up and tied when necessary, this making seven wagons, mostly new and all having new bows and canvas on them.  We also had two good large roomy tents, and one smaller one, all new.  We had four very good span of mules, three good span of horses and mares, and considerable of good stock; two saddle animals for driving the loose stock; a pretty good outfit to make another start with. 

Going from York, we passed through Nephi, Santaquin, and up the Sevier River through Monroe and Marysville, Circleville, and Panguitch, and on up six or seven miles to just two miles below Hillsdale.  This was on the East side of Sevier River in Iron County, Utah, where we arrived October 5, 1875, and where we found a good place belonging to Nephi and Seth Johnson.  They permitted us to lay over here until we could find a location to make our homes.  After exploring the country across the river from Panguitch, we decided to buy out the Johnson brothers, Nephi and Seth.  Their property was well-watered and they were willing to sell.  They had moved their families up to the town proper.

We moved into the empty houses, which housed us all pretty well for the winter, and made ourselves as comfortable as we could, although the climate was a little high and the winter cold. We all got through the winter fairly well, though it was very cold. 

In 1875, Hillsdale was a branch of the Panguitch Ward, in Utah, with Seth Johnson, the Presiding Elder there.  Father turned in our recommends from Bishop Anson Call of Bountiful.  We attended our meetings and dances in Hillsdale.  Father was made post-master, with brother Reuben, his assistant. 

During our first winter there, 1875-76, Brother John H. went out with mules, horses and wagons to help President Lott Smith and a company of Saints move from Hillsdale on down south.  The snow was very deep.  President Lott Smith had been called with quite a large group of saints to go settle on the Little Colorado River and tributaries in Northern Arizona, as we had been called back n 1873.  Later, John H. was called out again with those same mules and wagons to haul lumber accounting to about one hundred and seventy-five dollars, credited Jesse N. Perkins and sons.  This was an extremely cold winter.  All our loose stock, and those not being used at that time, were taken to a place called Cannonville for the winter.  Brothers Littleton and Jesse looked after them most of the winter.  I had helped them drive the stock over, then returned home to help look after the folks and my family at Hillsdale. 

(Reuben J. Perkins taught a term of school that winter and his tender heart was often touched deeply by the sight of those little children coming to school so poorly clad and in such a weak and impoverished condition.  The pioneers of southern Utah knew the full meaning of hard times. — Rhoda P. Wakefield.)

About the first of May in the spring of 1876, I started to St. George with Father, Mother and sister Rhoda Elizabeth.  With a team and our light two-seated Shutler wagon, we went by way of Kanab, Pipe Springs, and the Ridge to attend St. George Stake Conference and the dedication of the new Tabernacle, which had just been completed there.

While at St. George we put up at the home of Uncle William G. Perkins, Patriarch.  Members of our family received Patriarchal blessings from our good old “uncle Billy Perkins” (as we called him).  He was Grandfather, Reuben’s youngest brother.  The blessing he gave me at that time was the second Patriarchal Blessing, which he had given me.  Dated May 15, 1876, it is a very splendid blessing and is recorded in my book C. on page 327.

I went with Uncle Billy and Father to visit President Brigham Young who was there in St. George at his home awaiting the dedication.  While there, I related to him a dream I had had in which the Prophet Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were preaching to a large body of Lamanites, after which I though the Prophet was taken into Heaven and that President Young got into his buggy and traveled on.  This is not all the dream, but I feel it will be enough to relate at present.  He was in accord with me that the dream meant that he was to continue to build on the foundation the Prophet had lain.  He talked some of having me called on a mission to preach the Gospel.  He said he felt that I ought to be called to fill a mission, and probably would before many more days. 

After attending the Dedication, we returned home to Hillsdale by way of Kanarrah, Parawan, Cedar City, and through the mountains to the Sevier River and Panguitch, having had a very pleasant visit, although my health had been somewhat poor.

During the summer of 1876, we did considerable in improving the property at Hillsdale. Members of the family homesteaded three quarter sections of land in the place.  Father decided to add some livestock to that we already had.  He bought a fine little bunch of Brother Slade of Panguitch.  We then were able to make a lot of butter that season.

Sometime in December of 1876, Jesse and I started for St. George with a team and wagon to take Mother and Rhoda on a visit.  We went by way of Parawan, Kanarrah, and Leeds.  Mother wished to see if the visit would improve her health, and sister Rhoda wanted to attend school there for the winter.  The Dedication of the St. George Temple was to take place in January and we wished to be present at the time.

On our arrival we stayed again with “Uncle Billy” and while there we hauled two loads of wood for him.  We also worked a day hauling away rock from around the Temple grounds with our and Uncle Billy’s teams. 

President Young was there again. We were personally invited by him to attend the Dedication, which we later did, and had a day long to be remembered.  The power of God was made manifest to a great degree and we all felt good to be there.  A few days after, Jess and I started home by way of Parawan, leaving Mother and sister Rhoda in St. George for the winter. We stopped at Parawan a short time, arriving at Hillsdale a few days later.

When the April General Conference was held at St. George that year, Father attended.  Later, when the Temple was further dedicated, Father, Mother, and sister Rhoda attended.  After this Conference, the family was called to go help settle the country in Arizona.  Saints were settling along the Little Colorado River in the northern part, and along the Salt River further south.  We were given our choice as to where we would settle.  President Young stated that the Salt River country might be a good place for us, but that all were good and would contribute to the building up of the Church.

The summer of 1877 was spent in getting ready to move to Arizona, and Father made a trip to Salt Lake City and back.  We had to wait until deeds for our property were made out before we could start on our journey. 

On August 29, 1977, our dearly beloved President Brigham Young died at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah, lamented by family and friends.  Administration of his estate who settled up with us for our property at Hillsdale were George Q. Cannon, Brigham Young, Jr., and Albert Covington.  The entire price was adequate as to money and goods from the Provo Woolen Mills, and also in good stock from Pipe Springs, Arizona, to enable us to make our trip south.  We traded our little band of sheep to Brother Brigham Thompson of Cannonville on the Pareah, feeling we could not take them with us at this time, though we knew they were good property to have and own.  It was our desire to do the best we knew how under the circumstances. 

A Ward organization had been effected by Apostle Erastus Snow with Elder Seth Johnson sustained as Bishop.  Bishop Johnson gave the family recommends to locate among the Saints in Arizona, also to work in the St. George Temple. 

We settled up as best we knew, and prepared to make our start for Arizona.  Aunt Mariah {this was the widow of Jesse’s brother, Franklin Monroe Perkins, who became a polygamist wife of Jesse’s} preferring to remain in Utah, Father obtained a home for her and the two children, Ellen and Mo, in Panguitch.  She kept the team and wagon, which she had driven from Salt Lake.