Reuben J. Perkins                       Mini Bio


Reuben Josiah Perkins

Reuben’s grandson, Melvin L. Wakefield compiled a book: “Reuben J. & E. Jane Hancock Perkins” from which the following excerpts are taken:  “Reuben Josiah Perkins was born 14 October 1856 at Bountiful, Davis, Utah, sixth son of Jesse Nelson and Rhoda Condra McClelland Perkins.  He was named after his two grandfathers, Reuben Perkins and Josiah McClelland.  Reuben loved his old home in Bountiful (now on Redwood Rd. in West Bountiful—Woods Cross, Utah) where he said the apples were the most delicious that he had ever eaten, and even the potatoes were sweet to the seven hungry boys and baby sister—the pride and admiration of her big brothers.

“Reuben was an artistic, energetic young man and showed evidence of being a remarkable individual from his youth.  His father’s “Uncle Billy” (Patriarch William Gant Perkins) pronounced an unusual blessing upon this boy when he was only a few months old.  Part of this blessing reads: ‘…when thou art eight years old thou shalt go forth and be baptized and shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost which shall be in you as a well of living water springing up unto everlasting life.  When thou art at the age of twelve thou shalt be ordained to the Holy Priesthood, then thou shalt begin thy ministry.  Thou shalt grow to be large in stature…’

“Part of this blessing was fulfilled when Reuben was close to his twelfth birthday, when some of his older brothers were ordained to the Priesthood.  Like Nephi of old, Reuben was large in stature and, being always concerned with spiritual matters, was present at the time.  Some of the visiting brethren were attracted by his character and manly stature, and remarked that Reuben was worthy of receiving the priesthood.  In agreement with the promise in his blessing, he was ordained to the office of Elder at the early age of twelve years.”

Reuben had a tremendous artistic ability and many of his descendents have also been extraordinary artists.  He also taught himself to play the flute and the accordion. 

In the summer of 1875 (at age 19—and at the time the above photo was taken) Reuben, along with his father’s family, was called by President Brigham Young, to pack up and move to southern Utah.  They settled first about 6-8 miles south of Panguitch, near the small village of Hillsdale.  In addition to tending the family farm, Reuben worked as an Assistant Post Master and also taught school there.  The family remained here only two years. 

1877 was an important year in their lives.  They went to St. George for the dedication of the Temple and to do vicarious work for their ancestors.  Then, before the year ended, the entire family sold their farm and began a difficult move to Arizona, crossing the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry on Dec. 31, 1877.   At Willow Springs (near ‘The Gap’ AZ) they camped for a few days to rest their animals.  To this day one can read their inscriptions where the Perkins sons carved their names in the rocks near some ancient Indian petroglyphs. 

The family continued south until they reached the settlement of Lehi on the Salt River (near the present town of Mesa, AZ).  A few Mormon families had recently arrived here but a dispute had arisen and the group was split into two factions.  The Apostle, Erastas Snow, and other Church leaders, visited the community at about the same time and called Reuben’s father, Jesse Nelson Perkins to be the first Presiding Elder of the Church for that area, as he had not been a part of the dispute.  Also at this time, an ancient system of canals was discovered, which when cleaned up, brought water out of the Salt River onto the mesa just to the south of their settlement.  It was discovered that this watered land was good for farming so the community was moved up onto the mesa where the town by that name stands today.

The Perkins family had a large herd of cattle, which needed better grass than was found in that area.  Reuben and his brothers drove their cattle further southeast to the area near Tucson where good grazing was available for their animals.  However, the young Perkins brothers contracted malaria in that region so came back to a healthier climate in Mesa.  Due primarily to this issue, the family decided it would be better for them to resettle to a higher elevation along the Little Colorado River in northeastern Arizona.  And so in Nov. 1878, less than a year from their arrival, the family retraced their steps out of the valley and into the mountains toward what is now Flagstaff and then eastward to Walker (now Taylor) AZ.  The family procured twelve city lots and 60 acres of pasture to the south of town. 

The following year (1880) Mosiah & Margaret Hancock moved their family into this same budding town.  Their daughter, Eliza Jane Hancock, was surprised one evening by a tall young man with blue eyes and dark curly hair walking up her path.  He introduced himself as Reuben Perkins and asked her to attend a party with him.  So began a romance that resulted, a year and a half later—2 Nov. 1881, with a long and difficult trip to St. George, UT so they could be married in the Temple. 

Reuben and Jane Perkins built a house on a town lot in Taylor, across the road from his parents.  He also homesteaded land about twenty miles to the west at what was originally known as Perkins Springs, but renamed to Clay Springs, AZ.  Reuben worked many years farming and ranching in the area.  He also worked “freighting” (hauling goods from the railroad in Holbrook to Ft. Apache and then hauling captured Indians back to the railroad where they were shipped to Oklahoma, after the capture of Geronimo.)  Additionally, he helped build housing at Ft. Apache for the military.  For most of his adult life Reuben served as the Taylor Sunday School Superintendent.  He and Jane had 13 children.  All lived to adulthood and were a credit to the family.

In his later years, Reuben became ill with brain cancer and suffered greatly from it with no medicines in those days to help with the pain.  He and Jane were called to the Temple by appointment and were given a special ordinance.  Reuben returned home and for the last six months of his life he endured the terrible headaches and pain of his illness, passing away in Taylor on 7 Sep. 1919, about five months after the birth of one of his granddaughters, Maxine Wakefield.