Thursday, July 10, 2014

Early Family Dugouts.



I hiked up Pioneer Village Main Street on Monday to have a look at the dugout at the top of the hill.  The Ashby Dugout is on the northern edge of the This is the Place Pioneer Village and is representative of the many dugouts pioneers built following their arrival into the Utah Territory.

In the spring of 1864 my great great GrandfatherSamuel Brough built a dugout in the Porterville, Utah hillside for his family. Writing of that family, my mother, Helen Rex, wrote,

“On 15 Aug 1863 they started across the plains in the Samuel D. White Company. Snow had fallen before they reached Salt Lake City on 15 Oct 1863. It was cold and miserable. They lived in Bountiful, Utah the first winter and in the spring, moved to Porterville, Utah in Morgan County. There they lived in a dugout in the hillside. It was lined with adobes, and there was a fireplace in one end. In the spring when the snow started to melt, the frost came out of the ground and the water washed down the chimney and part of the wall caved in.”  [1]

My husband’s ancestors lived in a dugout when they moved to Paradise, Utah. 

Sarah Jane Smith Sanborn was born in Iowa in 1856 while her parents were in route to Utah.  Upon arrival they lived in Draper for two years before moving to Paradise, Utah where their first home was a dugout.  In 1935 Sarah Jane recorded, recalling that early home,

“The pioneer living in dugout were obliged to keep a fire in the fireplace all night or the wolves would come right down the chimneys. They 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.”  [2]


This dugout in the side of the Stephen Vestal Frazier Ranch hillside in Woodruff, Utah may have been lived in during its earliest years. In the late 1870’s when the Fraziers moved onto their homestead land they would have needed shelter while great Grandfather Stephen Vestal built his “long log home.” I’ve yet to find an account to substantiate my speculation.

In the late 1940’s while our family visited and lived on the ranch the dugout housed large farm equipment and potatoes. It was reported that in the early years of life on the ranch that dugout housed a large enough cache of ice blocks cut from the Woodruff Creek during the winter months to stock the family’s summer long refrigerator needs. And they churned home made ice cream for every birthday celebration.

1. The History of the Broughs of Staffordshire, England, and their English, American and Australian Descendants, compiled by Robert Clayton Brough, Catharine Ann Brough Hind, Richard Brough Family Organization, 2004, “History of Samuel Brough and Elizabeth Bott,” pages 117-122. Histories on file at the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah written by daughters MarJean Thomson, Randolph Utah; Vendla K. Roberts, Ogden, Utah, Jan 1986; and Mary McKinnon Crompton, great granddaughter, November 1970. And Helen Rex Frazier family records.

2. Daughters of Utah Pioneers, Sarah Jane Smith Sanborn, a Utah Pioneer of 1856 by Da. Fla Barton Nov 1936, Camp 25 Salt Lake County.

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