Alonzo Hamilton Packer

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Alonzo Hamilton Packer

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA
Death: Died in Safford, Graham, Arizona, USA
Place of Burial: Safford City Cemetery, Safford, Graham, Arizona, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Jonathan Taylor Packer and Angelina Avilda Packer
Husband of Lydia Ann Packer
Father of Charlotte Beryl Packer; WIlliam Henry Powell; Nancy Jane Powell; Avilda Angeline Packer; Mary Verona Packer and 1 other
Brother of Lorenzo James Packer; Sarah Elizabeth Packer; William Jefferson Packer; Pleasant Deseret Packer; Mary Angeline Call and 3 others
Half brother of Nephi Ewell Packer; Joseph Alma Packer; Jacob Helger Packer; Amasa Lyman; Amos Erastus Packer and 1 other

Managed by: Eldon Clark (C)
Last Updated:

About Alonzo Hamilton Packer

Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868 Unidentified Companies (1848) Age 7

Find a Grave

Birth: Apr. 4, 1841, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, USA

Death: Mar. 23, 1917, Safford, Graham County, Arizona, USA

Parents:

Jonathan Taylor Packer (1817 - 1889)

Angelina Avilda Champlin Packer (1820 - 1893)


Spouse:

Lydia Ann Parker Packer (1847 - 1918)


Children:

Avilda Angeline Packer Montierth (1870 - 1941)

Mary Verona Packer Jacobson (1872 - 1946)

Charlotte Beryl Packer Freestone (1874 - 1961)

Clara Mabel Packer Crandall (1888 - 1929)


Burial: Safford City Cemetery, Safford, Graham County, Arizona, USA

_____________________________________________________

The following was found on Family Search.org:

The Life and Times of Alonzo Hamilton Packer, by John A. Freestone...His heritage from the day of his birth, Alonzo Hamilton Packer was destined to become a courageous pioneer and a man of deep religious convictions. The circumstances surrounding his birth combined with the heritage bestowed upon him by his forebears set the stage for such a destiny. His grandparents, Moses Packer and Eve Williams, had full exposure to the rigors and privations of pioneer life, having been born of parents who were pioneers in the early settlement of Pennsylvania. Moses was brought up as a member of the Quaker faith, which led to his experiencing religious persecution because of his religious beliefs. The Packer family first became identified with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when the three sons of Moses and Eve accepted the message of the restored Gospel and were baptized into the Church. These three sons included Alonzo's father, Jonathan Taylor Packer, and his brothers Nathan Williams and William Hamilton. All three were numbered among the early converts of the Church and remained true and faithful members throughout their mortal lives. All three moved West to assist in the establishment of Salt Lake City as well as other colonies in Utah and Arizona. Little is known of the early childhood of Alonzo's father, Jonathan. However, it is known that he worked with his father, Moses, in learning the trade of tanning hides for leather, a craft that Jonathan practiced later in Brigham City, Utah. Jonathan married Sarah Ewell of Virginia. A son was born to this union. However, Sarah died at an early age, and Jonathan later married Angelina Avilda Champlin. This union was blessed with nine children with Alonzo being the firstborn. Jonathan was baptized into the Church by Jacob Myers on 10 March 1836, just six years following the organization of the Church by the Prophet Joseph Smith. During the next few years he suffered the privations and persecutions occasioned by the expulsion and extermination orders from a society that was unwilling to grant Church members their constitutional right of religious freedom. It was during these stormy periods of persecution when the Saints were transforming the swamp land of Commerce, Illinois, on the banks of the Mississippi River into the largest and most beautiful city in the state, that Jonathan and his family moved into Nauvoo, built a home, and participated in the establishment of the city and the building of the Temple.

HIS BIRTH

On April 6, 1841, eleven years following the organization of the Church, the cornerstone for the Nauvoo Temple was put in place with a special ceremony. Just eight days later on 14 April, 1841, a child was born to Jonathan and Avilda and was given the name of Alonzo Hamilton Packer. The first six years of Alonzo's life in Nauvoo were years when the Saints endured great trials, hardships and tragedies. Having been expelled from Ohio, where they had to abandon the beautiful Kirtland Temple, and from Missouri, the Saints had first thought that Nauvoo was to be a place of final refuge. However, it soon became apparent that their position was insecure and at best may only be temporary because of the rising tide of Satan's powers enticing ruffians and mobs to continue the work of trying to bring the restored Kingdom of God to naught. Accordingly, great sacrifices were made in an effort to accelerate the building of the temple. Although Alonzo was too young during most of this time to be fully aware of the historical events taking place, his parents were deeply involved in all of the work and activities carried on by the Church. Jonathan saw the fruition of his sacrifices and labors during the Nauvoo period when he and Avilda were among the chosen few to receive their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple on January 29, 1846, the day before such preparation for the great exodus of the Saints from the United States into the wilderness and unclaimed territory west of the Mississippi. Jonathan and Avilda's second son, Lorenzo James, was born on 29 July 1843. A year later when Alonzo was just over three years of age, a most tragic event occurred, the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his elder brother Hyrum Smith at the jail in Carthage, Illinois, on 27 June 1844. A little more than a year following the martyrdom, the first daughter, Sarah Elizabeth was born on 19 October 1845.

The time was fast approaching when a momentous decision was to be made that would have a profound effect upon the future of the Saints as well as the Church itself. It was now apparent that if their lives were to be spared and the Church to survive, another great sacrifice was necessary. Nauvoo, the city built through faith, prayers, and sacrifice would have to be abandoned and a new home would have to be found in a territory outside of the United States. The Church leaders had promised to move out of the state Illinois before the "grass grew or water ran" in the spring of 1846. However, it became apparent that government officials and angry mobs had no intention of allowing the Saints a peaceful departure from their beautiful city and farmlands. Consequently, President Brigham Young and the Council importuned the Lord as to what should be done, and it was revealed to them that the exodus should not be delayed until spring but should take place in the dead of winter. History has recorded in great detail the secretive and feverish preparations made by the Saints in preparing wagons and families for the trek. Amidst all this hustle and bustle was a young boy just past five years of age, Alonzo Hamilton Packer. The Packer family, Jonathan, Avilda, Nephi, Alonzo, Lorenzo, and Sarah Elizabeth joined the exodus and established themselves in Winter Quarters, Nebraska. The sufferings, privations, and tragic experiences of the Saints attendant to the evacuation of Nauvoo have been told as recorded in journals and Church history. However, it is doubtful that words could in any manner fully describe the events related to the crossing of the Mississippi River and establishing camps to await a favorable time to start the great trek across the wild, unsettled plains. The full impact of such an experience would have to be experienced in order to be fully understood and appreciated. The Jonathan Taylor Packer family suffered through this experience which apparently only served to strengthen them in faith and spirit. Tragedy did not escape the Packer family during this trying time. Little Sarah Elizabeth succumbed on 6 December 1846, and was buried in Winter Quarters along with the others who gave the supreme sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel.

John A. Freestone, a grandson of Alonzo, relates the following experience: "On visiting the monument marking the place where so many failed to survive the privation and exposure of that dreadful winter at Winter Quarters, I stood in silent reverence reading the names on the monument. Then the name of Sarah Elizabeth Packer seemed suddenly to stand out above all of the others. My breast swelled with emotion and tears came to my eyes. This was my grandfather's baby sister. What greater sacrifice could have been laid upon the altar of faith, I had never felt such a strong appreciation of my heritage as I did at that moment." Lillian Millett continues: "Jonathan had a yoke of oxen and a yoke of cows. The cows gave milk which helped in the milk supply, a luxury everyone did not enjoy. Even with the two teams the load was heavy. It was necessary for the young people to walk across the plains. Alonzo, being seven years of age, walked all the way from Winter Quarters to Salt Lake Valley. The family often slept in wet beds and wore wet clothing as there was no way to dry them. The weather was continuous rain. The children were required to walk and help drive the cattle, cows, and sheep. Alonzo said that when they finally reached Salt Lake City that the skin on his feet was so tough he could strike a spark when rubbing them together." In order to have a feeling and appreciation for this early childhood experience of Alonzo, one only needs to think of his own son or grandson of comparative age walking bare footed from Far West to Salt Lake City. To explore the thought further, think of walking away from your home and earthly possessions today without looking back or having the hope of returning to claim that which is rightfully yours.

THE UTAH PERIOD

The dangerous, treacherous exodus finally culminated upon the entry of the family into the Salt Lake Valley on 31 August 1848. Truly a milestone in life had been achieved by this courageous family. The words of the poet Benet can be ascribed appropriately to them: "The cowards never started, And the weak died on the road; And all across the continent The endless campfires glowed. We'd taken land and settled...." The family arrived sixteen days ahead of the original company organized and accompanied by Brigham Young. No doubt anxiety spurred them on to reach a haven of freedom and safety. Also, Jonathan and Avilda were expecting the arrival of their fourth child. William Jefferson was born in Salt Lake City on 26 October 1848, approximately eight weeks after the arrival of the family. William Jefferson was one of the first children to be born in Utah, having been born in the old Pioneer Fort. Jonathan built one of the first homes in the Salt Lake Ward. Other children born in Salt Lake City included Pleasant Deseret, born on February 21, 1851, who lived to be 21 years of age; Mary Angeline, born on September 6, 1852; and Avilda Verona, born September 25, 1855, who died at the age of three years and was buried in Brigham City. Alonzo was privileged as a boy to witness the building of the Salt Lake Temple. He relates the following incident as he was watching the laying of the stones for the Temple wall: "A workman was having trouble making one of the stones fit into place, when he said, '**** this stone!' Brigham Young, standing nearby, heard the remark and said, 'Brother, take that stone out and replace it with another. We do not want any stone that has been damned put in our Temple wall.'" Alonzo related this story to his grandson George E. Freestone saying, "You may want to tell this sometime in later years." This story is a clear indication that Alonzo had a keen sense of humor, a quality needed to endure the hardships of pioneer life. Throughout his life he often manifested his appreciation of good humor with a spontaneous out burst of laughter. However, under situations of great stress he was known to have used his most vile expression of "By grab!"

During January 1850 Alonzo's father was among the men called by Brigham Young to explore Southern Utah for the purpose of locating prospective areas for colonization. However, the family's first move from Salt Lake City was to the north where they settled in Brigham City. A description of the place at the time they settled there is as follows: "...sage brush..bunch grass...wheels...no bridges. The vegetation was sparse, and the brush showed signs of having been torn asunder by something passing through." Although the exact date of the family moving to Brigham City is not known, it can be definitely established that they were there before 1858. At this time Alonzo was seventeen years of age. Very little is known of his activities during his early youth. However, he does tell with pride of seeing his father marching as a major at the head of the militia with the historic sword from the Battle of Crooked River in his hand. This military unit was organized in Box Elder County for the purpose of safe guarding against hostile Indians and Johnston's Army, the latter being an arm sent by the United States government to put down a supposed rebellion by the Saints in Utah. The aforementioned sword was given to Alonzo by his father at a later time, but its history appropriately belongs here.

Following is a copy of a news article prepared by Alonzo and published in the Deseret News: "AN HISTORIC SWORD” Was used in the Battle of Crooked River--Pioneer Days A letter dated at Safford, Graham County, Arizona, from Alonzo H. Packer contains the following: "I read with great interest the correspondence from old timers; as I am more or less acquainted with all these incidents they are the more interesting. I have an old relic, which if deemed worthy can be placed among the many that will be on exhibition at the Jubilee. I have in my possession a sword that the late Judge Holbrook of Bountiful, Davis County, Utah, used in a hand to hand conflict in the Battle of Crooked River where Apostle David W. Patten fell a martyr to the cause of truth. After the battle Mr. Holbrook discovered he had made a nitch in the edge of this sword. This nitch yet remains. I prize this sword above anything I possess. On reflecting back to the parade grounds at Brigham City, Utah when my father, Jonathan T. Packer, as a major, with this sword in hand marching at the head of the Box Elder Militia, always brings to me a pleasant remembrance of my father now dead. "I was born April 14th, 1841, in Nauvoo; crossed the Plains with my parents when but seven years old, walking the entire distance from Winter Quarters on the banks of the Missouri River to Salt Lake Valley, bare footed. My father drove one of the four wagons that entered the valley August 31, 1848, arriving about sixteen days in advance of the other wagons.

Father built the first house erected in the First Ward, Salt Lake City. The gristmill in Utah was a small one built on City Creek not far above where President Young's house now stands. An Indian stole a sack of corn meal from this mill; his chief procured a pair of shears and cut off the boy's hair close to his head. This, to him, was great punishment. I will mention no hardships, for any old veteran of the Church will know from the above dates that I have passed through many." Alonzo's daughter, Lottie, recalls how her father took care of this prized possession when the family moved from Brigham City to the Gila Valley in Arizona. She said that her father kept it carefully wrapped in pieces of cloth in order to protect it in every way. It was carried on the top of the wagon load, with Alonzo always keeping an eye on this valued gift from his father. After the family settled into a home in Safford, the sword rested on a shelf in a cabinet along with other treasures such as rocks collected from many mines along with other valued memorable articles. The sword was sent to Brigham City for exhibition during the Jubilee celebration of the railroad coming into Utah . Because of the family’s great desire to have the sword returned to them, Lillian F. Millett, a granddaughter, instituted a campaign by means of correspondence and a visit to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers organization which resulted in the sword being returned to the family. It is now in the possession of Lillian prominently displayed in her Genealogy and History room. Only at such special occasions as a Packer Family Reunion is the sword moved from its place. Lillian recalls that her mother shed tears upon seeing the sword again. Colonel Robert Stewart, a friend and a man of great knowledge of war implements, says that it is a pre-Revolutionary saber, and a rare possession. There can be no doubt that this sword was used by many a gallant, brave soldier or hero of the past.

While in Brigham City, Alonzo's father and mother were listed as clerks during the years 1864 to 1877 in the Woolen Mills Department of the Cooperative Institute, which institute was operated upon the principle of the United Order. Lorenzo Snow and Jonathan Taylor Packer directed this first United Order project of the Church. Alonzo tells of helping his father in his father's tannery, which also may have been a department of the Co-operative Institute. A knowledge of this craft was to serve Alonzo well at a later time in his life. Alonzo gained a love of music as he listened to the brass bands play during the drills of the militia to which his father belonged. This interest also played a very important part in his later life. Alonzo's father became a member of the first City Council of Brigham City when it was incorporated in 1867.

During the Brigham City days Alonzo's father owned a store near the railroad depot where he sold fruit, candy, gum, etc., to the weary travelers. As a means of supplementing the family income during these years, Alonzo's mother, Avilda, operated a boarding house. Cafes and restaurants had not as yet been established in these early settlements, consequently, boarding houses satisfied the needs of those persons requiring a place for meals and in many cases to live. No doubt the operation of this boarding house proved to be an act of providence so far as Alonzo was concerned, because his mother hired a young Canadian lady to work for her by the name of Lydia Ann (Annie) which resulted in their marriage in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on 6 July 1869. Daniel H. Wells officiated in the sealing ceremony of Alonzo and Lydia Ann (Annie) for time and all eternity. For the rest of his days Alonzo carried a picture of Brother Wells in his wallet in grateful remembrance of that most important event of his life. At the time of their marriage, Alonzo was 28 and Annie was 22. Annie first arrived in Salt Lake City on 20 September 1856.

Her family had traveled from Canada by oxen and wagon with a group of emigrants who were new members of the Church. Her parents were Solomon Parker and Nancy Welch. Through a previous marriage to Henry L. Powell, she bore two children, William Henry, who died at the age of six months, and Nancy Jane, who was three years old when her mother married Alonzo. These children were sealed to Alonzo in the Salt Lake Temple on 23 April 1919. So close was the family relationship that even the four daughters to be born to Alonzo and Annie did not know that Nancy Jane (Janie) was a half-sister until many years later. Two years following the marriage of Alonzo and Annie, William Jefferson, a younger brother of Alonzo, was married to Mary Ann Aldred in the Endowment House. The two brothers had an extremely close relationship and were never separated for very long during their lifetime. Alonzo and William owned land in Brigham City near a spring which was named Packer Springs. They built their home side by side on this property, which was located about one mile from the Court House. Their domestic water was carried from the spring. Alonzo cemented around the spring in order to make it convenient for getting water. A tin cup attached to a chain was placed by the spring and many a traveler stopped by this veritable oasis to quench his thirst with the pure, cool water. During the years in Brigham City four daughters were born: Avilda Angeline, Mary Verona (May), Charlotte Beryl (Lottie), and Clara Mable.

THE ARIZONA YEARS

Now that the family was apparently settled, Alonzo's father, Jonathan left for a scouting trip into the Territory of Arizona. At this time Alonzo bought his father's store that was situated near the depot. He continued to operate the store until he moved his family to Arizona. A number of people from Brigham City were called by Brigham Young to go to Arizona to colonize in that area. Again it was time for the Packer family to be "moving on" to conquer new frontiers in the West. During the month of May 1884 the Alonzo Packer family in the company of their daughter Janie and her husband, Seth Wright; the William Jefferson Packer family; a sister Senora and her husband Lorenzo Wright; and the Charles Forsgren family set out in a covered wagon train for another long and treacherous journey to Arizona. Alonzo's daughter, Lottie, who was nine years old at the time, recalls a cannon firing three times in front of the old Tabernacle building as a ceremonial send-off for the doughty pioneer party.

Their planned destination in Arizona was St. Johns. Each horse drawn wagon carried the required commodities for sustenance as well as seeds and plants for the new land. Domestic animals were also in the wagon train. Once again the Packer family found themselves in the situation of leaving a comfortable home and valued property in exchange for a journey into the unknown. Lottie recalls: "Pa and Ma (as the parents were called affectionately by their daughters) and Clara (the youngest at six years of age) rode in the front wagon. Clara would hand out crackers and raisins to us from the front wagon back...such fun we had traveling along. We carried our beds, boxes of food, and goods to start a new home. We usually camped about sundown. If near a river, we would fish. We cooked our meals over a campfire. We had big slabs of bacon, dry beans, potatoes, and crates of eggs. How good the Dutch oven biscuits were which we always had. Uncle Lo Wright had a cow, Old Pet, that furnished milk for the families. We led her behind the wagon. It was Avilda's job to herd the cattle. We had a saddle pony that was also led behind a wagon. "It was sheep shearing time when we reached Panguitch. It was planned to remain here to get work shearing the sheep to replenish our funds to make the trip. We were here about two weeks. Seth and Lorenzo sheared sheep, while Pa and Uncle Will cared for our cattle and camp. There was plenty of grass for the animals. We all attended Church here. We never traveled on Sunday. Pa carried a map, which showed every watering place between Brigham City and St. Johns. When we reached the Colorado River at Lee's Ferry, the largest obstacle was before us. It was the one point in the trip that we knew would take courage to conquer. I remember my fear as we went down the hill to the river, and being frightened at the crossing. Lo and Seth Wright, being the younger men and fearless, always took the lead in caring for the cattle. So it was they who drove the reluctant cattle and animals into the river, swimming their horses along with them to the other side. The wagons were taken over on the ferry. We children were so frightened we hid beneath the quilts and didn't dare to look out. Grandma Avilda, mother of Alonzo, rode on the high spring seat of the wagon with Uncle Will to see that the flatboat reached the other side safely. Senora, after reaching the opposite bank, stood wringing her hands and reciting the poem, "Come over the river to me...." until all had reached the opposite bank in safety. Only the heads of the cattle were seen as they were forced to get into the river and swim, sometimes drifting down stream, which made it hard to get them to the right spot to get them out. "One lovely Sunday was spent in the Kaibab Forest, called Buckskin Mountain at that time. We held church here under the pines, singing hymns and passing the sacrament. Uncle Will conducted the services. It was here we purchased another cow, Old Brindle. This added to our milk supply. We led her behind our wagon. Two of the horses had belonged to Uncle "Des" (Deseret, younger brother of Alonzo, who died in Brigham City at the age of 24). The horses were named Pumpkin and Jim." After reaching St. Johns, Arizona, Alonzo did not stay long as it did not look good to him. So he with the Lorenzo and Seth Wright families left to go to the Sulphur Springs Valley (near present Willcox) where his father Jonathan was scouting for a suitable new location. However, when they reached Gila valley, Jonathan met them there and advised them to remain in the Gila Valley because the dangers among the Indians and Mexicans on farther south was too great to take their families. Some very untimely murders had been committed recently in that area, which made it unsafe to travel there much less to try to settle and build a home. Little did they know at this time the great tragedy that was before them in the Gila Valley.

Alonzo was well prepared to endure the rigors of early pioneer life in Arizona. At the age of 43 he entered the Gila Valley area with his family on 4 October 1884, being among the first settlers in the valley. Before him lay the challenge again to begin a new phase of developing virgin lands and of building homes. He was a craftsman of many talents and skills that he combined to make a great contribution to the early development of Safford. He was a skilled brick mason and built the first brick home in Safford. The lumber for this first brick home was hauled by team and wagon from the Fry Sawmill in Mount Graham. Several of the homes that he built are still standing and are lived in at the present time (1976). He also laid brick in the construction of the Layton Ward Chapel. These buildings stand today as a monument to his memory as a builder of early Safford.

After moving to the Gila Valley, Alonzo always had a store of general merchandise. He established the first and only store in Layton. Of interest is the fact that he bought his merchandise from Tucson, Wilcox, and Solomonville. Vinegar was purchased by the barrel and ladled out by a measure cup. Alonzo was amused at the fact that his daughter, Lottie, was always more than generous in ladling out the vinegar to the customers, thereby reducing the profits of this commodity. Alonzo also had an interest and talent in music. While living in Brigham City he was a member of a band. He brought the first drums into Safford, a bass drum, which he played, and two snare drums. Having learned the tanning trade from his father, Alonzo prepared his own skins to cover the drumheads. It took several weeks to prepare these skins in a tub of tanning solution.

He played his bass drum as a member of the Safford Pioneer Band, which group played for all-important festivities in the early days of Safford. Other members of this famous band included James F. Freestone, snare drum; William B. Ballard, snare drum; Thomas B. Nelson, snare drum; and Peter J. Jacobson, the fife. This band made very impressive music on all occasions, but was especially an important part of the programs for the Fourth of July and the Twenty-fourth of July. At the time the Packer family moved into the Gila Valley, there was still danger from hostile Indians and outlaws. The children never seemed to out grow their fear of them, and were afraid to even have a small light in the home after dark. As with all pioneers, Alonzo's life was not without trials, privations, and tragedy. His son-in-law, Seth Wright, was killed in an Indian ambush along with Seth's brother Lorenzo.

Following is a copy of a news article relating to the incident as prepared by Alonzo and submitted to the Deseret News:

KILLING OF THE WRIGHT BROTHERS

We have received from Alonzo H. Packer, of Layton, Graham County, Arizona, who writes under the date of January 10, 1886, the following particulars of the death of Lorenzo and Seth Wright: "On November 30th there was a general meeting held here. On arriving home at 9 o'clock in the evening it was ascertained that some horses tied at the corral of Frank Lee had been cut loose and stolen; also, that a number of horses that were running on the range near town were missing. About 11 o'clock at night Lorenzo and Seth Wright, R. Welker, W. Morris, and F. Lee started after the stolen horses, and by the aid of a lantern, the trail was easily followed. Six miles distant the thieves were seen; Seth jumped from his horse and was just ready to shoot, but Lorenzo told him not to do so. Seth's horse got away and went into the stolen band of horses when two of the boys rushed in and got the animal, in doing which they came close up to two more of the thieves who jumped from their horses and hid. "Two of the boys then went to Solomonville to get more help, when Sheriff Stevens and two other men joined them. "Before they returned the thieves had moved on. The boys followed in the morning, and saw some men camping by the roadside. On inquiring they learned that the thieves went around them, but some of them had been seen and were described to the boys as being Mexicans. Stevens said, 'Rush on, boys, they are Mexicans and there is no danger.' The sheriff's horse began to lag, when he said, 'Boys, if you will let me have the best horse, I will take the lead.' Lorenzo and Seth were riding the best horses, but neither saw fit to exchange horses, but F. Lee did, and while they were changing horses and saddles the boys rushed on, Lorenzo and W. Morris were riding side by side, as were also Seth Wright and R. Welker, when they were fired at by the Indians, who lay in ambush not two rods away. Seth was shot through the lower part of the body and exclaimed, 'I am shot!' He put his hand on the wound, his gun fell to the ground and his horse ran with him some 300 yards, when Seth fell off and was shot again under the left eye. "When Seth said 'I am shot' his brother Lorenzo jumped from his horse to the ground, took deliberate aim and shot at an Indian, and was just ready to fire a second shot when his right arm was broken, after which he was unable to use his gun. He then tried to make his escape by running, but was shot through the back while running in a stooping position, the ball coming out the breast. Two balls struck one of his legs; he also received a shot on the top of his head at close range, probably after he was dead. Had they known they were Indian thieves instead of Mexicans, they would not have met such a fate. "Thus we are called to mourn the loss of two promising young men, who in life were together and in death are not separated, for they lie side by side in one grave, sleeping that quiet sleep that awaketh not into this world of sorrow. They were the sons of the late of Jonathan C. Wright of Brigham City, Utah. "Lorenzo was 31 years of age and leaves a wife and four children. Seth was 21 years and 9 days old, and leaves a wife and one child."

A monument to the memory of the Wright brothers was erected and dedicated on 24 September 1938 near the spot where this tragedy occurred. It is 18 miles east of Safford near the Safford Duncan highway. The monument was a project of the St. Joseph and Mt. Graham stakes. Although this tragedy was hard to bear, Alonzo was well conditioned to bear any vicissitude of life at this point of time. The trials that he was called upon to bear seemed only to strengthen his ability to endure. Alonzo was not only known for his dry wit and humor, but also for his gift as a writer. Several of his articles were published in the Deseret News. He was gifted in the art of composing verse, and was called upon on many occasions to composing verse, and was called upon on many occasions to compose a toast or a tribute in the form of a poem.

His niece, Vessa Packer Freestone, recalls a verse that he composed especially for the annual May Day celebration commemorating the arrival of spring. Vessa was a Fairy Queen and Vessa Wright was the Queen of May. The verse was as follows: "May Day morning bright and clear, May Day Morn at last is here. Lads and lassies, all be gay For this is nature's holiday!"

The following verses were written as a toast to be given at the 25th wedding anniversary of Bishop J.R. Welker and his wife: "Twenty five years ago today I was at a wedding; There was no great display; I know one thing now I did not know then. Boys that were boys are now grown men. Girls that were girls so full of fun, they scarcely knew when their day's work was done. Always happy, always gay, their hair once black Is now turned gray. The wedding cake was pretty and sweet, I declare, but not so nice as that one there. The bride was as nice as a fairy queen. The bridegroom was the happiest person seen. If there is anything else you want to know, just call on John J. Birdno." (Editor of the local paper).

Alonzo was a worthy, devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He donated the land on which the first Layton Ward Chapel was built. While the chapel was under construction, meetings were held in a bowery on the back of the lot. This bowery was built with cotton wood posts with a roof consisting of branches. During this time Alonzo was a counselor to Bishop John Welker. Granddaughter Lillian recalls seeing her grandfather at the sacrament table, assisting in the administering of that service. When his brother William was called to fill a mission in the Southern States, Alonzo assumed the responsibility of looking after William's wife and children to see that they did not want for the necessities of life. Such service as this was always given quietly but cheerfully in the manner of the left hand not knowing what the right hand was doing . It was ever his preference to be a stagehand working behind the scenes rather than to be an actor in the spotlight wanting to acclaim for his actions. It can be said that Alonzo was imbued with the spirit of record keeping and genealogy. One of his most prized possessions was a brown leather bound record book that he kept in his own clear, neat handwriting. This journal has been a source of revealing his deep love for the Church authorities and for his family. Within the book are newspaper clippings from the Deseret News, many of which articles were prepared by him. This journal has also been a valuable source for genealogical research for names of relatives are recorded that otherwise may not have been known. This book was always kept in the lower drawer of his cabinet. Life in the fertile Gila Valley must have seemed like paradise to Alonzo and his family after having spent the greater part of his life moving on to new frontiers, for here it was that he was able to spend the rest of his days in comparative comfort.

It was believed that his brick home was built on an old Indian ruin since many artifacts of Indian culture were discovered on the premises. Some old timers also said that Indians at one time had a well on the location where they would come to fill their buckskin buckets. Alonzo dug a well and constructed a windmill to pump water. Once again the Packer well became a source of water supply for the community, being the only well in Layton. A sunken garden and orchard became a favorite place for the grandchildren to hide and to play. In addition to peach, pear, apple, and plum trees to supply fruit, a garden helped to supply vegetables. The domestic animals consisted of cows, horses, and chickens which were fed and watered on a strict schedule. All of these resources came about through Alonzo's concern for being a good provider for his family. He not only took pride in having the best home for his children, but he also saw to it that his daughters were well dressed. Being a merchant, he had access to purchasing materials for clothing, and the fact that the eldest daughter, Janie was an excellent seamstress created an ideal situation within the home for the making of beautiful dresses.

In addition to building his own home, Alonzo built a home for his brother William on the adjoining lot, and for his daughters May, Avilda, and Lottie as the need arose following their marriage. Each of these homes was built on a five-acre tract from the original homestead. No doubt Alonzo would ascribe much of the success of his lovely family to his eternal companion, Annie. She possessed great qualities of leadership which were evidenced in her method of raising her daughters as well as the fulfilling of responsible positions in the Church. She served as President of the Relief Society and of the Primary. She filled other positions as well, and soon had the reputation of having the ability to make things move. Contrary to Alonzo's disposition, she was known to have a temper. However, she exercised it more as a virtue, striking out only against injustice or wrong doing. At one time she felt that a schoolteacher had dealt with Lottie unjustly, and it was said that the teacher was careful thereafter to cross to the other side of the street if he saw her coming down the same side. Annie loved and owned lovely linen and dishes. She was always a gracious hostess and many people were entertained royally within her home.

William's wife, Mary Ann, often joined her in preparing meals for house guests. Since there were no hotels at this time, Church authorities often stayed in the Packer home. Among those thus entertained were: John Henry Smith, Francis M. Lyman, Rudger Clawson, Heber J. Grant, Carl G. Maeser, and Brother Goddard. Annie was about 5 feet 4 inches in height. She had dark, curly hair and large dark eyes full of snap and fire. She always dressed well, and was described by her son-in-law, George Leonard Freestone, as being "majestic and queenly" in appearance. She was a lover of flowers and grew geraniums, lilacs, yellow wild roses, and birds of paradise.

Alonzo was about six feet in height, of slender build, weighing about 170 pounds. He had hazel eyes, iron gray hair, and wore a well-trimmed beard. He was always well groomed and wore a wide brimmed black felt hat at all times when out of doors. This hat hung by the door for convenience since he always put it on upon going outside even for the shortest errand. It seems reasonable to assume that his practice of wearing this type of hat could have been an influence carried down from his Quaker forefathers. Alonzo had a great interest and vision of things about to transpire in the field of scientific achievement. Perhaps space travel and interplanetary travel was beyond his imagination, however, he had an avid interest in aviation and longed to see an airplane in flight. While in Los Angeles, he and his grandson George E. Freestone, made a special trip to see an airplane in flight. They took a streetcar to the Domingues Airfield near Long Beach. However, the inclement weather would not permit a flight that day. Although he had a close look at an airplane, he never did realize his ambition to see one fly.

There can be no doubt but what his progress in the Spirit World has more than kept pace with mortal man's achievements here on earth. The rigors of pioneer life eventually took their toll in the life of Alonzo Hamilton Packer. He died in Safford, Arizona on 23 March 1917 a few days before the 76th anniversary of his birth. A granddaughter, Lillian F. Millett, attended him during his last days and relates the following: "I had the privilege of caring for Grandpa Alonzo the last weeks of his life . He never allowed any one to wait on him, and it was difficult to persuade him to rest in the bed this day . I remember so well the day he came home, after taking the 5-gallon can of milk to the creamery. He drove in a one-horse buggy with the buggy top just as erect as he sat beneath it. On this day he came to the fireplace to warm himself, and asked me to fix a "hot toddy". I was surprised, as he never asked anyone to do anything for him. When I saw that he was chilling as he drank the hot drink, I realized that he was very sick. As I urged him to lie down, he remarked, 'No....if I go to bed, I will never get up. I am not like your grandmother, whose body is accustomed to sickness and has built up an immunity. When I give up to the bed, that is the end for me.' "It was only a short five days from the day he went to bed before death took this courageous soul! Grandma had been ill for a number of years and she lingered for another year on a paralyzed condition before passing. A touching incident occurred just before Grandpa died which brought to mind the nearness we are to the "other side". I was seated by his bedside watching him very closely, as I realized that the end was near. He arose from the bed, with a glassy look in his eyes as though he saw something that I could not see, he pushed by me as though he could not see me nor hear me calling him. Walking across the room where the picture of his brother William was hanging (William had preceded him in death), he took the picture down and stood gazing at it for some time. I was nervous and tried to persuade him to return to his bed. After a time he laid the picture on the sewing machine sitting near and without a word or even a look at me he returned to his bed. The end came a few hours later." It was also on this day that his old friend, James F. Freestone, came to visit him. He had walked with the aid of his cane the distance of the 20-acre field that separated the two of them to pay his respects to Alonzo. As he entered the room, he stood for a time looking down upon his dear friend in bed, then he said, "Well....Lonzo." Alonzo replied, "Well....James." Two short words. That was the only exchange. That was all that needed to be said. A lifetime of meaning and emotion were packed within these few words.

There can be no doubt that many mental images of past associations and experiences flashed through their minds during this solemn moment. A quotation from the 39th chapter of Alma, verse 14, can best epitomize the life of this great man: "Seek not after riches nor the vain things of this world; for behold, you cannot carry them with you." What else can one say? That was Alonzo's life, to seek after those things of spiritual value that he could take with him. That is the rich heritage and legacy that he has left for his descendants. As he always sat and walked in an erect position, it can truly be said of him that "he walked erectly before God." Now it can be said that he has a host of worthy bearers of the Holy Priesthood among his descendants, missionaries, temple workers, and faithful Latter Day Saints, all of whom have been inspired by the life of an illustrious progenitor. Among the promises as given by patriarchs and conditioned upon faithfulness are the following, which have been literally fulfilled: "Thy name shall be handed down from generation to generation in honorable remembrance...." "You are laying the foundation for the salvation and redemption of thy fathers, dead and alive.." Surviving Alonzo Hamilton Packer were his wife Annie, and five daughters: Janie Warren, Avilda Montierth, May Jacobson, Lottie Freestone, and Clara Crandall. Also surviving were 35 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Picture in your mind five beautiful daughters standing by the open casket of their father paying tribute to him with the words, "We never heard an unkind word pass his lips." Services and burial were in Safford. Pall bearers were the grandsons: George E. Freestone, Carl Jacobson, Lonnie Montierth, Howard Warren, Myron Crandall, and Frank Montierth. Bishop J.R. Welker talked at the services and admonished the grandsons to live the life that their grandfather had lived, and if they would do so they would have nothing to worry about in this life or in the life to come.

“TODAY THAT CHALLENGE IS TO EACH OF US.” 


Millett Family Foundation 65 S. Mesa Dr. Mesa, AZ 85210

SOURCE: Family Search.org

Added March 24, 2015 by Della Dale Smith Pistelli, a 6th cousin 5X removed of Alonzo and a 1st cousin 4X removed of J.R. Welker, who is mentioned in the above story. Her great grandmother, Dortha Roxana Madsen Rollins McKinney (1869-1953) was a first cousin to J.R. Welker, and moved to Safford, Arizona, from Bloomington, Bear Lake, Idaho, in September of 1883 with other members of the Welker, Madsen, Dustin and Greenhalgh families. Their wagon train arrived in Safford about six months before the one in which Alonzo Hamilton Packer traveled in May of 1884. J.R. Welker was the son of Adam David Welker, the youngest brother of Della's third great grandfather, John R. Welker (1826-1913) who was the grandfather of Dortha Roxana Madsen Rollins McKinney mentioned above.

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Alonzo Hamilton Packer's Timeline

1841
April 4, 1841
Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA
1864
1864
Age 22
1866
April 8, 1866
Age 25
Deweyville, Box Elder, Utah
1870
April 29, 1870
Age 29
Brigham City, Box Elder, Utah
1872
October 1, 1872
Age 31
Brigham City, Box Elder, Utah
1874
December 15, 1874
Age 33
Brigham City, Box Elder, Utah
1878
June 26, 1878
Age 37
Brigham City, Box Elder, Utah
August 26, 1878
Age 37
1917
March 23, 1917
Age 75
Safford, Graham, Arizona, USA
March 1917
Age 75
Safford, Graham, Arizona, USA