Willard Call – Words to Descendants of Utah Pioneers

Ladies and Gentlemen, sons and daughters of a noble ancestry, who were the founders of a state and a group of states which has developed into this great intermountain empire, the home of millions, the admiration of nations, I greet you! And I congratulate you, in that you have organized to maintain and magnify and pass on the names and memory of these great men and women, the pioneers of Utah. For in history their great deeds stand out alone, noticeably and significantly in the eyes of the world. I share this pride with you, for I too, am the son of a pioneer.

I come from a long lie of American pioneers. Thomas Call, an English emigrant of the 15th century, sailed from Faversham, a small town near London, and with his wife, Bennet, and three children, pioneered Boston, Massachusetts, only 20 years after the coming of the Mayflower. His son John and his son John and his son Joseph and his son Cyril, and his son Anson, were all rioted and worthy pioneers, before Utah history began.

If we think only in years, I could claim the distinction of being a pioneer, for I came here two years ahead of the iron horse. I didn’t come from Ireland, I am not a Sweede, and for these reasons1 I am not a pioneer. Because I didn’t cross the plains with an ox team or handcart. My route was straight from Heaven, and there are no such among the distinguished pioneers. Yet, drawing from my memory, leaving my imagination entirely out of the picture, I could detail stories and experiences which date back to 19 years after the advent of Brigham Young into this valley.

I remember my first suit of clothes that Mother didn’t make, my first pair of cow hide shoes that didn’t have brass toes, and when I wore to Sunday school, a hat that wasn’t made from brown denims in my own home.

I haven’t forgotten the candy pullings, the peach cuttings, the shucking bees, nor the fun we used to have, when four of us youngsters took four pretty girls on four spring seats for a ride in the big farm wagon behind the old mules.

Father used to take us to the Lake on Saturday afternoon, the neighbors took their families. We made two camps on the shore, one for the men and one for the women and oh, what fun we had.

I came early enough to follow the cradle with a wooden rake and tie up the sheaves made with bonds of wheat. Then father bought a buck eye reaper, which dropped the grain in bundles. Six men followed it. Each one binding his own station so that when the team and machine went six times around the field, every man had gone around once. I think this must be the origin of the relay race. Then came the self rake machine. It raken the bundle out of the swath, so that the next time around the team and machine wouldn’t have to wait for a slow binder.

Next, Father bought a self binder which did the work of the six men, tied the grain in convenient bundles with string. He owned a J. I. Case Thresher No. 2. I remember the first time we ever threshed a thousand bushels of oats in an afternoon, and it wasn’t n a short afternoon, the half of a seven hour day. A day then was from before daylight until after dark.

Father hired his harvesting hands about July first. The men stayed right on until about the middle of August. We heard nothing about dollars and cents. A day pay was two bushels of wheat. If a man wanted a hog, a barrel of molasses, or a can of honey, or ten bushels of potatoes, he just traded his wheat for them. We see now, the combined harvested and thresher cuts the standing grain, threshes it and sacks it, as they ride around the big fields under the power of steam.

In our town, Perrigrene Sessions and my father each built a pretentious home on the same street. Perrigrene’s big house was a post office, an Inn. Carriages could drive right up to the porch, so that passengers could alight without getting in the mud. Father’s brick house was the biggest and best in the county. He kept the store and owned the school house. The question was in those days, which was the center of town, Sessions, or Calls?

You would see long ox teams, a hundred yoke of oxen and 20 wagons, camped at either of those places. Now, there is a paved highway east of there and a paved highway west of there. The traveler never sees either of the grand old land marks. Those were the good old days, but these are better. Mother never owned a sewing machine. Father never saw an automobile. Neither of them believed there would ever be an airplane. They didn’t pay one dollar for a pair of silk hose to be worn twice and then discarded. They took the fleece from the sheep, carded it, spun it, and knitted a pair of stockings to last a year.

Anson Call, my father settled in Bountiful in 1848. In 1849 he distinguished himself by raising 1000 bushels of wheat. He was recognized as a successful farmer, and in 1850 Brigham asked him to mobilize 30 teams and families and go under the direction of George A. Smith, as pioneers to Parawan. He was the first Bishop of the first ward of Paraway. In 1851, Brigham told him to gather another 30 families and pioneer in Pauvant Valley. He was made Bishop of Filmore, for that. The first Capitol of Utah was named after the President of the United States. They named the County Millard and the town Filmore, and Anson Call was the first Bishop.

Filmore was made the Capitol of the state of Deseret, which comprized all of the present Utah, all of Nevada, part of Arizona, part of Colorado, part of Wyoming and a part of Idaho. My father who was the Deputy Marshall of the state, under Marshal Heywood, built the state house, as Brigham Young directed it. It is a grand old stone structure built to stand as long as the hills stand, and now used as a home for pioneer relics.

When Captain Gunnison, with ten topographical Engineers were Massacred by the Indians, father directed their burial. The men are near where they were killed and where a monument has recently been erected to their memory. Captain Gunnison, however was buried in the Filmore cemetery.

Father suggested to Brigham Young, that many of our emigrant pioneers, were out of the factories of the old world, that their education had little value in this new country, that they would have to dig their living out the soil and suggested that someone hou1d be training them how to handle a kicking cow, to teach a colt to work, to irrigate the soil, to successfully plant and harvest the farm crops. Brigham gave him the appointment. For this purpose, he elected a 700 acre farm in Box Elder County, seven miles north of Brigham City, where he built a fort, to protect the people from the Indians, and where many old country people whom Brigham sent to him becaesuccessfu1 farmers.

The place is known as Call’s fort, and his family has recently erected a pretentious monument to his memory. Anson Call was later sent to Carson as a pioneer under Orson Hyde. They established Carson City, now known as Geneva, a few miles from the present Capitol of the state of Nevada.

In the winter of 1856, under the direction of Brigham Young, Father went with two teams and wagons loaded with provisions and helped to rescue two handcart companies, who were freezing, starving, dying in the snow. They had given up. They had exhausted their food and every ounce of energy and but for the efforts of Brigham’s reacting party, a thousand of those splendid characters must have perished almost in sight of their future mountain home. Out, there, near the Sweetwater, he met my mother, a pretty little English girl 28 years old, who had struggled and economized for 3 years, gathering the means for an ocean voyage, and a railroad passage to Florence, Nebraska, the Railroad Western Terminus in 1856.

With cheer and song and high hope, these people had set out on a 1300 mile trek, to an Indian infested, buffalo country. Of course, there were no bridges. The rivers had to be forded. Their fording of these rivers, floating slush ice, their sleeping on frozen ground in wet clothes, their starving and freezing, tramping in 8 inches of snow, must have banished their smile and song, and surely entitled their survivors to the dignified title of pioneers. Oh, how much that name should mean to us! Oh, the cost to our Mothers and Fathers. Is it worth an effort an our part to have these experiences remembered. They must be help up in the memory of our children. Some of your ancestors, like mine were natural pioneers. Father pioneered and owned acres in Vermont, in Illinois and Missouri. From some of these places, he was driven by mob violence. He didn’t sell them and always felt that he was the rightful owner of them.

Those are some of the reasons why in the beginning of my remarks, I congratulated you on your organization.

I’ll just add. The pioneer spirit continued in my father’s family and they had successfully pioneered in Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington and California, as well as taking an active part in the recent wars.

This talk was made by Willard Call, before the Edwin F. Perry Camp, of the Sons of the Utah Pioneers in June 1935, in the 16th Ward, Salt Lake City

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Author: Heather Hoyt

I'm a stay-at-home mom living in Wyoming and I like to write, take photographs, and play with my kids.

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