Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stephen Vestal and Elizabeth Walton Frazier, part 2 of 2

Stephen Vestal Frazier
Rich County, Utah, Probate Judge
In 1872 the Woodruff community cooperatively erected a meeting-house for both worship and school. As the community grew, a proposal was made to construct a new building. Like the original, the new public building was to be used as both a church and school. The settlers in Woodruff subscribed twelve hundred dollars in 1884 for the new building’s construction. After its completion, a squabble developed between the LDS bishopric and the school board over ownership of the property.

According to the Woodruff ward history, in 1884 the school board was composed of “one LDS, one gentile Liberal and one Mormon Liberal.” The two “Liberals” claimed that because the building had been used as a school and constructed under that pretense, it was a school, and therefore rightfully belonged to the district. Many Mormons in Woodruff disagreed and sued the school district in federal court. In 1890 Judge Henderson of the First district Court at Ogden, Utah, ruled in favor of the school district, and the meeting house became its property.

County courts, being under the direction of a probate judge, became a source of considerable strife within territorial Utah after passage of the Edmunds-tucker act of 1887. That act took the probate court out of the hands of the territorial assembly and made it a position appointed by the federal government. Consequently, virtually all probate judges within Utah from 1888 to statehood were non-Mormon.

In Rich County, two non-Mormon probate judges served during this time period—Stephen V. Frazier [1888-1893] and J. M. Grant [1894-1895]. Both however, fulfilled the duties of their office with little conflict. Only the conflict which developed over ownership of the public school/church in Woodruff damped the relationship between Judge Frazier and the Mormon population of the county.

At one point a community leader allegedly told Stephen Vestal he should leave town. Family legend states he determined he’d never leave Woodruff, and he built his rock house as a monument of how long he planned on staying. And declared neither he, nor his children would ever join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He never did, nor did most of his children. Many of their descendants have.

When Thomas J. Tingey’s barns burned, Stephen was there and helped save the horses. He organized men to go into timbers to get logs to build another barn. He used three of his own teams to accomplish the work. He was a patient man, set in his ways, quite a philosopher and believed in cause and effect, and that everything would turn out in the end. He had influence over his family, and his discipline was wonderful. Stephen built the rock bridge over the Woodruff Creek in town, known as Gene’s Creek.

Elizabeth took grandson, John Arthur Dean, as a chore hand during the summers. She kept him busy carrying water from the spring, feeding pet lambs, feeding chickens, ducks and geese. Elizabeth plucked feathers off the geese and made feather bed ticks and pillows. One of Grandson John Arthur Dean’s jobs was to hitch old Kate, her favorite mare, to the buggy. She would go visiting her old friends. Take a dressed chicken, a leg of mutton, a pie or cake, come currants or gooseberries to them. The old folks she visited were Uncle Arthur and Eliza Putnam, Elizabeth Huffaker, William and Elizabeth Neville. John Cox and Annie Neville Cox and her mother, old lady Stiff, Betsy Eastman and her brother Benjamin Walton.

Elizabeth took her mother, Granny [Susan] Walton, into her home and cared for her until she died at 92 years. And she took her widowed sister, Ann Witheral into her home for years. When Elizabeth was unable to care for herself she lived with her daughter Maude Frazier Eastman in Evanston, Wyoming until her death on August 6, 1918. She was 78 years old. Stephen Vestal lived beyond his wife Elizabeth. He died August 12, 1923, in Evanston, Wyoming, at the age of 84, at Elmer Eastman’s residence.

[Editor’s note: Thanks to Amy’s suggestion yesterday, I visited the Church History Library in Salt Lake City this morning. I found Elizabeth in Early Members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, compiled by Susan Easton Black, 1993, vol.2, page 833. I was thrilled! There are numerous things this will help me with.]

Frazier (Frazer), Elizabeth
Birth: 14 June 1841, Oxford County Maine
Elizabeth Frazier was baptized a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on 7 October 1863 by D. H. Bays. She was confirmed by J. A. McIntosh and Geo. Morey.
Source: Early Reorganization Minutes, 1852-1871, Book A, pp. 160, 430

Listed beneath her is Frazier (Frazer), Hester Ann
[Elizabeth has an older sister, Hester Ann Walton.]
Birth: 20 December 1838, Maine
Hester Ann Frazier was baptized and confirmed a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on 29 April 1862 at Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, Iowa, by Shippy.
Source: Early Reorganization Minutes, 1852-1871, Book A, pp. 133, 190.

Elder Perry Green Sessions (I’m smiling). I’ll never admit to how many different times I’ve searched for Brother Perry Green Sessions. Perrigrine Sessions.

Links of Walton History by Hattie Walton Heninger, Compiler, Genealogist, 1981, pgs. 45, 49. The First 100 Years in Woodruff, Printed by Art City Publishing Co., 1972, pgs. 271-275. A History of Rich County, by Robert E. Parson, 1996, Rich County, Utah State Historical Society, pgs. 220-221, 282-283, 314. A Brief Historical and Genealogical Account of the Frazier Family by Isabelle Frazier Sugden, a copy in my possession.

1 comment:

  1. Great Research. I especially enjoyed the part about the rock house. I love the painting of it.