HYRUM ISAAC WRIGHT
by daughter Emily Tyler (using Don Wrights writings)
It was spring in Bolingbrook, Lincolnshire, England, when on 26th of March 1856 a stalwart English mother, Charlotte Smith Wright, nestled her newborn son by her side. John Wright beamed with pride a he looked at his new son.
This was not the first child to be born to Charlotte and John. Two preceded him, William and Hannah, but both died as very small children. The joyful couple were full of hope that this son would grow to manhood and perpetuate the name they bore.
It was with happy hearts that they took their baby to the Latter-day Saint Church, which they had joined less than two years before and there hear the elders promise the child a long life and give him the name of Hyrum Isaac Wright. But even their fondest dreams probably did not foresee the four score years that their son would live, no the number of descendants he would leave to carry on, for on the one hundredth anniversary of his birth he had become a family of 230 people.
It was a humble home in which he grew. The gospel of Jesus Christ was the most important thing in the lives of his parents, John and Charlotte. They had been baptized into the Church in February 1854 by Elder Mosses McHarms and confirmed the same day by Elder Joseph B. Richmond.
There was love present in the home, so baby Hyrum grew strong in body, mind, and spirit. Nor was he lonely, for three years later little brother John came to keep him company. Later a sister, Sarah Ann, was born.
John Wright wanted to take his family to Zion in the mountains of the western United States, where they could worship God in a way they knew was right. To accomplish this they moved To Lancashire in 1860. John went to work in a cotton factory. He worked there until the cotton famine. Factories had to shut there doors because of the lack of cotton resulting from the Civil War between the northern and southern states of America. England depended upon the southern states for their cotton. In 1862 the union forces completely blockaded the Southern ports and they were unable to sent cotton to England.
With no available work in Lancashire, John moved his family to Liverpool, where he established a temporary home for his small family. John was a brick mason by trade and he worked in this trade in Liverpool. Hyrum, now about nine years old, worked with his father as an apprentice. Although Hyrum worked as a brick mason only for a short time, he was always after skilled in laying bricks as the need arose.
The joy of this faithful Father and Mother was unbounded when with their three children they boarded the ship Arkright, bound for America, in June 1866. The missionaries helped make this possible for them through the Perpetual Emigration Fund.
After about four weeks out to sea an epidemic of measles broke out among the children. Hyrum and John recovered from their measles. Not so with little Sarah Ann. With each passing day she became worse. Huge sharks, with open mouths followed the ship, waiting for their prey as one little body after another was prepared for burial at sea. Mother Charlotte pleaded with God to let her child live, if only to be laid away in Mother Earth. This prayer was answered, and Sarah Ann remained with them for a time.
After seven weeks and five days on the water, they landed in New York and from there traveled by railroad to Omaha, Nebraska. The company of Saints remained in Omaha three days to prepare for the journey overland by ox team.
While in Omaha, Sarah Ann died. The mother sat in the shelter of some trees and held the dead child in her arms until morning. A sister, Miss Kettle (afterward Mrs. John Peters), made some burial clothing, a board coffin was made, and the three year old girl was buried.
The next morning the sad family left Omaha and traveled by ox team across the plains. Hyrum, then ten years old, walked most of the way. They traveled in Andrew H. Scott’s company. Later they were transferred to John Haw’s company.
On 8 October 1866 they arrived in Great Salt Lake City. this made Hyrum a Utah pioneer. After a brief rest they continued their journey southward to Pleasant Grove, where Hyrum’s grandmother, Hannah Sutton Smith lived.
During the winter, Hyrum attended school for a short time. In the summer he took care of a large herd of cows for the community. He would gather them up in the morning and take them out to the foothills and then return them in the evening. While living in Pleasant Grove, Hyrum’s other two sisters, Harriet and Latisha, and a brother James, were born.
In 1871 Hyrum’s father moved his family a few miles south to a farm in Lindon. John built a new adobe house for his family. He was a good mason and hauled sand and clay, built molds, and made his own adobes.
When Hyrum was fifteen, he worked in the canyons cutting timber for sawmills. The family joined the United Order putting all they had into the common storehouse, with charitable and unselfish hearts. The purpose of the order was for families to gather and store together, thus mingling as one large family. As time went on, this plan proved unsatisfactory and the idea was abandoned in 1879.
Hyrum was baptized into the Church on 12 May 1866 by his Uncle Thomas Wooley. He was ordained a priest in 1874 and a high priest in 1905. His religion always meant much to him and he was still active as a missionary to do temple work until three years before his death.
At the age of twenty, Hyrum married Annie Elizabeth Harper, the daughter of Benjamin and Elizabeth Harper. To this couple were born ten children, eight sons and two daughters. Hyrum’s wife, Annie, died May 13, 1902. On June 10, 1903 he married Mary Jane Bezzant, the daughter of Matthew and Maria Ann Cook Bezzant. Six children—four boys and two girls—were added to this family through this union, making a total of sixteen branches in the family tree. As Jacob of old, Hyrum was blessed with twelve sons and he had the added blessing of four daughters.
The two-story red-brick home he built for his family in 1900 still stands at the bend of the road, one mile west of the foot of Lindon Hill—778 West Lakeview Drive, Lindon, Utah. The farm on which he built this home was about sixty acres. He also had a dairy herd of considerable size.
It was here on his farm that Hyrum started the Lindon Nursery. He excelled in budding and grafting desirable fruit on poor but strong roots. Through his efforts in the nursery business, he imported many new varieties of fruits and many varieties of flowers. He loved to try something new and different. He was always a great lover o flowers and took much joy in working in them. In later years his reputation as a gardener spread and his flowers were widely known. Prizes at flower shows and fairs came to him.
He landscaped the Third Ward church grounds in Pleasant Grove and he took special pride in caring for these grounds. Under his care they became one of the show places of the city. Also, the grounds of his home were always very beautiful. He was never happier than when working with flowers.
In his youth and early manhood, Hyrum was a large man with a full, long, sandy brown beard, but the years of hard work took their toll on his size. As his youngest daughter, I remember my father in his declining years as a rather small, white-haired man with a white mustache. He became in later years a typical grandfather type man—small, quiet, reserved, and lovable.
Throughout the years, Father had been a progressive and successful farmer. In his younger days he would haul his fruits and vegetables by horse and wagon to the Salt Lake farmer’s market. This trip to Salt Lake would take two days each way. He would stop overnight at the Halfway House. In later years, as we made this trip by automobile in a few hours, Father would point out the Halfway House, where he used to stay and marvel at the great changes taking place.
Perhaps Father was more prosperous than those who lived around us, or perhaps it was his desire to try the new, but we had the first Edison phonograph around. It played cylinder records and had a large horn like the one in the advertisement for a Victrola, where the dog sits and listens to his master’s voice. It had to be wound up with a crank to make it play. People came from all around to listen to it or to the player piano. The piano had peddles and we had to pump to make the bellows go to turn the rolls of music.
Father loved to have company and he loved music. He played a bass horn in the first band organized in the area. This horn is now in the Pioneer building in Pleasant Grove.
About 1914 Father purchased a seven-passenger Studebaker car. In addition to the front and back seat, it had two jump seats which pulled out from under the back seat. As a young child I always sat on the jump seat.
I can remember clearly riding along Lindon roads and people coming out of their houses to watch something so new and unusual as an automobile. One time we traveled to Salt Lake City in the Studebaker with my brother, Cliff, driving. He accelerated to a speed of twenty-five miles an hour. We talked about this for many days.
In the winter the Studebaker was put into a wooden garage. The wheels were jacked up and logs were placed under the axles to keep the tires off the ground. The battery was taken out and put in the cellar so it would not freeze. The oil and water were drained out of the car and there it sat until spring.
Somewhere around 1915 Father sold the west end of his property to a sugar beet company for the construction of a beet slicer. In order for electricity to reach the slicer, power lines had to cross Father’s farm. An agreement was reached with the sugar company that if Father would allow the poles to be put on his farm, the company would bring electricity to his home. Because of this agreement we had electricity long before we otherwise would have.
Father was a member of the irrigation water board for many years. He served as president of the board until we moved to Pleasant Grove.
About 1918 there was a bad epidemic of influenza. Many people died from it. All of us had the influenza except Father. He cared for the sick. He never wore a gauze mask like the others did. He insisted that his mustache kept out germs out. he was an attentive and considerate nurse and cared for sick members of the family with a tenderness usually reserved for women. Mustang Liniment was his cure for most ailments.
As he grew older, working a large farm became a hardship for him. In 1919 he sold his farm in Lindon and moved to a lovely home in Pleasant Grove.
It may seem strange that a father who had so little schooling and a mother who had very little more should be concerned with the education of their children. Yet all of Mother’s children graduated from high school and received a college education.
All was not pleasure in life for Father. He mourned at the death of his first wife, six of his children, his father and mother, and all his brothers and sisters, except one.
I don’t recall Father ever being sick except in his final illness. In 1936 Father had to give up active work. His heart just seemed to wear out and he became bedfast.
An interesting incident tells something of the character of this man. The doctor told Father he should get some brandy and have a toddy once or twice a day as a stimulant for his heart and to help him sleep. Father refused to do this. He said he had never use alcohol and he wasn’t about to start now.
On the first day of January 1947 about fifteen minutes past midnight his spirit left his body and he passed on to meet his loved ones who had gone on before. Three days later his funeral services were held in the Pleasant Grove Tabernacle, with a profusion of the flowers he so loved in life.
ADDENDUM; by his son Donald Wright
As a young man, father worked cutting logs at a sawmill at Bear Flats (Mutual Dell). Uncle Mark Bezzant, Mother’s brother, operated the mill. Dad apparently learned to enjoy chopping wood here and was a good man with an ax all his life.
Father had a full beard down to his chest—like President Joseph F. Smith—when he was a young man. My brother John said that one day he left home and went to Pleasant Grove. When he returned his beard was gone. All that was left was the moustache, which wore the rest of his life. he told no one of his intentions. John says when he came toward the house, the dog bit him—that’s what he said.
Father was a great family man. He loved his children and was very close to his brothers and sisters. Aunt Tish (Latisha Wright Long Hansen) lived in Salt Lake City and was not as available as the others.
Uncle John, Uncle Jim and Aunt Hattie (Harriet Wright Bezzant who married Mother’s brother Sam.) and Father all lived within a small area in Lindon. Their relationship was very close. It continued even after we moved a few miles away to Pleasant Grove. Both of Father’s brothers died before he did, each as the result of an accident involving a horse.
When I was a youngster, each year or so we used to get all of Grandfather’s tribe together in a family reunion. The ones I remember best were held in the old Lindon Hall, a frame building about one-half way up Lindon Hill on the main road. They seemed the most gay times I can remember.
Uncle Jim used to sing for us “A little pig curled up his tail in the mud”. And we danced, little folks and big folks, and we ate and ate. Father loved the reunions and so did the rest of us.
The farm that Dad had in Lindon was a pretty good sized chunk of land for the days of horse power. In all there were about sixty acres. Some of it was meadow land and not cultivated.
Father had a dairy herd in Lindon. Not the size of those served by milking machines today, but a good “handmilking-size” herd. They were pastured on part of the farm. They were milked twice a day. This was what is known as one of the chores, along with feeding and caring for the pigs, horses, and chickens. Farm life was more than romance when Dad farmed.
There was one chore Dad likes—caring for the flowers. He had a “green thumb”. I don’t recall Lindon, but I do Pleasant Grove, where his home was something of a show place. There was green lawn all around the house to the east and the front of the house. Further east there was an area of perennial flowers, peonies, roses, etc., and beyond that across the fence in the garden area were annuals. His dahlias were prize winners at the flower shows and fairs. He had beds of hyacinths, tulips, and other annuals. Our Pleasant Grove home really was lovely.
He made trips to Salt Lake City from Lindon to sell his fruit at the farmer’s market. He never hauled fruit from Pleasant Grove. The peaches, prunes, apricots, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries as well as tomatoes were in demand locally. People would come to our home to buy the produce knowing full well they would always get more than their money’s worth. Later on people started to come from Salt Lake City for his fruit. Neighbors would send their children over for ten cents worth of tomatoes and leave with nearly one-half bushel.
The Church bought the old high school building, and after some years it was remodeled to better suit the ward’s needs. Father was involved in beautifying the grounds. He planned and planted most of the grounds. The grounds were a showplace and father was never happier. When the remodeling was complete, Dad was hired as custodian. It was quite a task for him as he was well into his seventies. He continued with this as long as his health and strength would permit.
Father’s heart began to wear out and the last year of his life he was pretty much confined to the house. During this last illness, Father was so ill that he was thought to be dying. He went into a coma. During the time of unconsciousness, he repeated several times the name of his youngest brother, Jim, who had been dead for a number of years.
He rallied and regained consciousness, he said that he had seen the other side of the veil and those of his family who had proceeded him in death. He said he had been with Jim, and that now he was going to get better and go to church. three days after we thought he was dying, Father sat up for Sunday dinner, and a week later he did go to church. however it was a short reprieve and a few months later he again joined his loved ones beyond the veil.
(from the files of Mary Jean Caldwell)