Avon (old Paradise), Utah, cemetery hill, October 2009.
b. 6 Jun 1811, Stoke St. Milborough, Shopshire, England
p. Samuel Smith, Sarah Serjeant
m. 1849, Herefordshire, England
wife: Jane Rawlings
d. 14 Apr 1890
b. Paradise Cemetery, Paradise, Utah
b. 8 Mar 1827, Parish Holdgate, Bouldon, England (neighboring parishes)
p. William Rawlings, Jane
d. date unknown
b. Paradise Cemetery, Paradise, Utah
Born in England, in neighboring parishes, William Smith and Jane Rawlings were married 1849 in Herefordshire, England. Church records show William Smith was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints on January 24, 1854.
In 1856 Willliam and Jane were on their way to the Salt Lake Valley. Their first daughter, Sarah Jane, was born April 1, 1856 in Keokuk, Iowa. They were traveling with their children, William 5, Joseph 3, and Thomas 2. The family laid over for about three weeks, until Jane recovered from childbirth.
The family was part of a company of overland emigrants which left Florence, Iowa, about June 1, 1856 with Elder Philemon Christopher Merrill, Captain, “a splendid man.” They are listed as William Smith, wife and 4 children. The company averaged fifteen miles each day. They were called together for prayer every night and morning and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on August 14, 1856. A journal keeper from the group noted that day, "crossed the creek a number of times. Road rough much of the way & bad crossing. Clear & warm, most of the day. Cool morning."
After arriving in the Valley the family lived "in the first place they came to." Draper. On February 8, 1858, their son John Sergeant Smith was born there.
In March 1860, Joseph G. Crapo, Alvin M. Montierth, Barnard White, and William Smith, who were residing at that time in Draper, Utah, decided to visit Cache Valley in hopes of finding a location for settlement. They had heard about the lush, green valley with plenty of water and timber. They joined a wagon train that was going north and traveled with them until they reached Ogden’s Hole. They then followed an old Indian trail north into Cache Valley. Barnard White drove the first wagon and team of mules into Old Paradise (Avon) on April 1, 1860.
The area chosen was located at the forks of East Creek and Little Bear River. Today it is a small agricultural community on U-165 eleven miles south of Logan and three miles southeast of present-day Paradise.
They returned to Draper to bring their families to the new location. On May 12, 1860, Joseph G. Crapo and Alvin M. Montierth returned with their families. On their return trip they stopped at Salt Lake City and convinced David James to join them at the new location. All of the settlers were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and David James had served as their Branch President while they were in England.
They were able to get a crop planted that year which they irrigated from springs on the east side of the Muddy or Little Bear River and they had a good harvest. Four homes were built on one side of a small road and four homes on the other side of the road in fort style. The following families spent the first winter on their chosen location either in the fort, small cabins, or in dugouts: David James, Joseph G. Crapo, Alvin M. Montierth, William Smith, Barnard White, William Woodhead, James Lofthouse, Enoch Rollins, Charles Rollins, Edward Davenport, John Sperry, Jerome Remington, Winslow Farr, Jr., James Bishop, Elijah Tams, Leonardis L. Crapo, Prince Albert Crapo, and Dr. Ellis.
In February 1861, Apostle Ezra Taft Benson and Bishop Peter Maughn called David James to be bishop. Apostle Benson remarked while visiting the settlement that "This is like Paradise".
They suffered many hardships and trials in Paradise—including being taken as prisoners by Indians. William Smith and another man guarded the outside of the meeting where the women and children were for safety. When the Indians were “a talking together” William and another man went to Logan for help. By giving the Indians food, clothing, and blankets, they were able to make peace with them.
Their daughter, Sarah Jane, said, “Wolves could be heard on the roof howling and scratching, trying to get into the dugouts. They would keep a fire all night so the smoke going up would keep the wolves from coming down the chimneys.”
In 1860 they started to raise crops. “When the crops were up the grasshoppers came so bad one could not see the sun. The next day the crops were all destroyed. For seven years the pioneers fought the pesty hoppers--then came the crickets. And for two years they destroyed every thing. The seagulls came as a blessing to the pioneers, as they rescued them from starvation by devouring the crickets.”
The first wagon load of wheat William Smith ever sold was at Box Elder. All that he received for the whole load of wheat was a washtub, a few clothes, a little sugar, and a few other things.
In the spring of 1868, the town was moved north about three miles from the original site, to minimize conflicts with the Indians, who liked to camp near the first site. The original settlement is now called Avon, named by Mrs. Orson Smith in honor of Avon, England, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.
William Smith, was a farmer and a “stockraiser.” He was a Seventy and a High Priest. He died in Paradise in April 14, 1890. He and his wife are both buried there.
Their children are:
William, born 1851, Stoke St. Milborough, Shropshire, England
Joseph Rollings, born 1852, Stoke St. Milborough, Shropshire, England
Thomas Rawlings, born 1853, Ludlow, Shropshire, England
Sarah Jane, born 1856, Keokuck, Iowa
John Sergeant, born 1858, Draper, Utah
Hyrum, born, 1859, Paradise, Utah
Mary Ann born 1862, Paradise
Martha Amelia, born 1865, Paradise
Ellen Rawlings, born 1867, Paradise
John, born 1869, Paradise, Utah
Emma Louise R., born 1872, Paradise, Utah
William Smith family marker at the Paradise, Utah cemetery.
Posted today in memory of Marlene Sanborn Silotti (Nov 22, 1931 - Jul 12, 2009)Genealogist Extraordinaire!
DUP History, Sarah Jane Smith, A Utah Pioneer of 1856, submitted 1936 by Dau. Fla Barton. FamilySearch. Family records. John W. Van Cott history of Avon at, onlineutah.com/paradisehistory.shtlml and cacheregister.com/citypages.php. Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, Utah Pioneers Book Publish Company Publishers, 1913, p. 1171. Pictures by the author. Please advise me of any errors you may find here.