Friday, February 26, 2010

1884 John Hamilton Morgan September trip to San Juan, Utah.

Hole in the Rock, looking down at Lake Powell, by Wikipedia

This post is part of an addendum to John Hamilton and Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan. Part 17. Posted here January 10, 2010.

Part b
Part c

I asked cousin Flora Lee (a John Morgan descendant also) to review some of John Morgan’s journal pages and write about his 1884 trip to San Juan, Utah. That was such a good idea! Thanks, Flora Lee, for your great work!

By Flora Lee--
If you have read Gerald Lund’s historical fiction novel The Undaunted. I think you will enjoy these John Morgan journal entries about his 1884 trip to the San Juan Mission. You will also recognize many of the names he mentioned. If you haven’t read The Undaunted, you may want to after reading these summaries and original journal entries. I am honored to know that my great grandfather knew and associated with the faithful and courageous Saints of the Hole in the Rock Expedition.

John, and his wife Mellie, left Salt Lake by train on September 1, 1884, soon after he had helped arrange transport and memorial services for two murdered Southern States Missionaries; Elder Gibbs from Paradise, Utah, and Elder Berry from Kanarraville, Utah. They met President Joseph F. Smith, and his wife, as well as Erastus Snow, and his wife, in Price. Then they continued by rail to Denver, where they did some sight seeing in the Denver and Colorado Springs area.

Their party arrived in LaJara, Colorado on September 5th, where they were met by Elder B.H. Roberts and San Luis Stake President, Silas S. Smith. President Smith was captain of the Hole in the Rock Expedition in 1879, and the first president of the San Luis Colorado Stake.

Several conference meetings were held in the area over the next three days. On September 8th, the group left for Antonito, Colorado, and then took the train to Durango, Colorado. On the 9th, Sisters Morgan and Smith returned to Manassa, Colorado. Elder Morgan, Apostle and Sister Snow, President Smith, and some other local men, continued by wagon to Mancos, Colorado. They held an evening meeting and called (in today’s terminology) a Branch President, Sunday School President and some teachers. On that day Elder Morgan recorded passing Corneluis Decker and family, as they were leaving the San Juan settlements.

Arial Bluff, Utah, San Juan River, with Comb Ridge, by Wikipedia
From the John Morgan Journal, Marriott Library, University of Utah


Sept. 10
Started early for the San Juan, brother Jno. Allen driving and accompanied by brother Henry Hollyoake in an extra wagon. At mud creek, just outside of Mancos settlement we met Jos. B. Decker and family with a load of chickens. They were going to Durango to sell the chickens. At Mitchell’s Spring where we stopped to noon, we met a number of wagons loaded with pigs, poultry, furniture etc. from Bluff City, going to the settlements to sell, preparatory to leaving the country. During the p.m. drove passed Aztec and Navajo Springs, camping near the south base of the Ute Mountains and on the southern Ute Reservation. Cool and pleasant weather.

Sept. 11
Started early this morning from our dry camp to drive to the San Juan River for breakfast, where we arrived at 10 a.m. Rested, watered the stock, and met Wm. Hyde and family, moving to a trading post four miles above the Peaks. Arrived at brother Allen’s and Hollyoake’s about 5 p.m. where we remain tonight. The evidences of the disastrous flood which occurred in June are to be seen on every hand. A number of houses gone and many fields covered up with sand and mud.

Editor’s note: The first time I read this, I missed the “disastrous flood” sentence, and so I kept wondering why these people were all leaving. A history of the 1884 flood, and the area, can be found here. Search for “A critical year.” After a careful study of the entire article, it appears that “1894,” in this instance, is a typographical error. That date would put this incident out of the chronological order that the article is written in.

I think seeing this area, and these people in this condition, would have been extremely hard on Elder Morgan and Apostle Snow. In 1879 Apostle Snow made the initial call to these Saints, mainly from Iron County, Utah, to leave their homes and establish these settlements. Elder Morgan visited these settlements in 1883, attended meetings with General Authorities in Salt Lake, considering the discontinuation of the mission, and he voted to continue the mission. I will write more about his 1883 visit to the settlements in the future. [Yeah! That's good news. From the editor's cousin. ]

(To be continued.)

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