About William Madison Wall
William Madison Wall
Very little is know of William Madison Wall’s early life and even less of his ancestry. Family researchers and historians have spent years in, and hundreds of dollars in their efforts to find more about William's father, Isaac Wall, and his name and marriage date to his mother, Nancy Duncan. Isaac Wall’s birth and death dates and places and the names of his parents still remain a riddle. We do know that on 12 November 1818 in Rockingham County, North Carolina, Isaac Wall and Nancy Duncan were married. She was the daughter of Col. William Duncan (who fought at the Battle of the Cow Pens with Capt. William Washington) and Temperance.
Two rather large Wall families distantly related and both descended form the Maryland Walls, lived in Rockingham County, North Carolina, in 1790 to 1810. They lived about 30 miles apart but seemed to have little to do with each other. The group that settled on Big Rock House Creek is thought by some to be the group to which Isaac Wall belonged. Research of these two groups did not find an Isaac among them.
Isaac and Nancy Wall had three sons born to them in Rockingham County. First was Elijah; second was William Madison, born 30 September 1821; and third was Johnson Claiborn. The 1830 Illinois Census Record for Sangamon County gives Isaac Wall and four boys, also two females written in and scratched out. The fourth boy is listed as Richard Wall, born 15 March 1829. No mention of Nancy is given in the record, although all the rest of the family including the infant, Richard, are included. The family had left Rockingham County, N.C., and settled in Sangamon County Ill. sometime prior to Nancy’s death and before the 1830’s census were taken for that area.
“Early settlers of Sangamon Co. (Ill.)”, by Powers, says Isaac Wall remarried after the death of his wife and went to Missouri about 1834. Others say he later left Missouri and went to Texas. Exactly where he went and what happened to him we do not know. We do know that in all probability he was dead by 1844 when William Wall was given a blessing under the hands of John Smith, Patriarch, January 27, 1844 in which the Patriarch mentioned William as being an orphan.
We also know that before Isaac left Sangamon County, he placed his four children in the care of relatives. William was placed in the care of an uncle who, following the custom that existed at that time, placed William in the home of another. In the new home, William was to serve as a bond servant. This man apparently treated William cruelly and the thoughts of serving a ten-year indenture under the man was more than William could stand.
Because of this situation he ran away and was not heard of again until one cold wintry day, in Wayne County, Illinois, with snow heavy on the ground and creeks frozen over with ice, William Haws searched for his daughter Nancy and found her skating on a near-by creek with some children. Among the children was a twelve-year-old boy who was in rags and without shoes. He would skate for minute (barefooted) and then take off his hat and stand on it to warm his feet.
William Haws heart filled with compassion and learning that the boy had no father or mother to care for him, William Haws took the child home with him and clothed him in his own children’s clothing. Thus William Madison Wall met and came to live with the William Haws family. Although William was never adopted by the Haws family, he was always treated as their son. He grew up with the Haws family, and at the age of 19, asked for and received Nancy’s hand in marriage, on 7 June 1840, in Sangamon County, Illinois.
Nancy was not quite 17 years of age. Her parents were William Haws and Isabell Womack. Their first child Mary Jane, was born to them 12 April 1841 in Springfield, Sangamon Co., Ill.. Shortly thereafter, the Haws family and the Wall family received and believed the teachings of Elder Arvel Cox, a Mormon missionary, who came to their home. William and Nancy joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1842. Later they moved to Nauvoo, Illinois to be with the Saints.
In Nauvoo, William Wall became intimately acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith. He attained the rank of Lieutenant in the Nauvoo Legion and worked very closely with such men as Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Willard Richards. During those happier years in Illinois, Eliza Helen (26 September 1843, McDonough Co.) and Nancy Isabella (12 November 1845, Ramus, Hancock Co.) were born to them.
Trouble followed the Wall family just as it did the other Mormon converts. The following story was told to Juliet Wall, the 8th child of William and Nancy, by mother Nancy: “Shortly after the death of my father (William Haws died 11 January 1845 at Ramus or Macedonia, Ill.), my husband William Madison Wall was imprisoned with other church leaders for the sake of the Gospel. My husband was a natural mimic and able to imitate any voice. One evening the Prison Warden left the keys in the cell door and stepped outside. My husband reached through the bars of the prison door and unlocked it and shouted imitating the Warden’s voice, ‘Bill Wall is loose!’ In the confusion the remaining guards left their posts and the imprisoned group all escaped. This was a fulfillment of one of the promises made in his Patriarchal blessing given him by Patriarch John Smith on 27 January 1844, when he was told that prison doors would not hold him.”
He went into hiding after letting Nancy know where he intended to go. She carried food and supplies, having to go through the cemetery where her father had recently been buried. These circumstances were very hard on his wife so he soon came out of hiding and gave himself up to the authorities as he hated to see his beloved Nancy feeling so badly.
On the 12th of November 1845, the Walls were driven by a mob from their home at Ramus (Macedonia Branch), Hancock County, Illinois, and went with the main body of Saints to Council Bluffs, Iowa. Two of their children were born there. Nancy attended the conference held in the log Tabernacle at Council Bluffs, 27 December 1847, when Brigham Young was chosen to take Joseph Smith’s place as President of the church. She was one of the many who testified that the mantle of Joseph Smith fell on Brigham Young, so much so, that even his voice sounded like the Prophet Joseph.
They were both active members of the new found religion and were personally acquainted with the Prophet, before his martyrdom. Several times the Prophet and William Wall engaged in a friendly wrestle. Both were large strong men over six feet tall and were well matched. When the Saints were driven out of Nauvoo, William as well as many others made the Montrose crossing with only the clothing on his back and what few possessions he could quickly gather together to support his family.
On 19 October 1847, a son, William Madison, Jr. was born and another son, Isaac Oliver, was born 21 October 1849, both at Council Bluffs, Iowa. William Wall’s assignment by the Church in Council Bluffs was to remain in Winter Quarters and assist the Mormon companies as they began their crossing to Utah. In early 1850, he was released from this calling and prepared to leave for Utah.
He joined the 7th company of that year, which was organized by Orson Hyde with Jonathon Foote as company commander. Warrin Foote was chosen as a captain of a hundred with Ottis Lysander and William Wall as his assistants or captains of fifty each. This was the same organization carried out by the Israelites in their exodus. They had captains of hundreds, fifties, and tens. The 7th Company left Missouri 15 June 1850 and traveled uneventfully for three days when in Gilbert Belnap’s company of 10, a child suddenly became ill and within three hours died of the dreaded cholera.
Can you imagine part of the terror that went through this small company of 10 when the child died in the arms of its parents? Cholera is just as terrifying today in some parts of the world as it was then, and victims of it die just as suddenly from the high fever, diarrhea and dehydration accompanied by the disease. The rest of the wagon train pulled away trying to isolate the disease and prevent its spread. The next morning when Belnap appeared at the train asking for help to care for his sick and to bury the dead, no one wanted to go back with him.
William Wall and one other, whose name was not recorded, were the only ones who took the risk to give aid. William Wall became a victim of cholera and was so ill his family despaired for his life. The idea in those days in treating the disease was to keep all liquids away from the ill person in the hope of drying up the diarrhea. Wall, not only suffered from cholera but from travel fatigue and heat. He begged for even a sip of water to moisten his parched lips, but his folks guarded him from getting a drip. At one of the many stops he was left unguarded a few moments and mustering all the strength he had left he managed to lift him over the edge of the wagon and fell to the ground. He crawled under the wagon where a pail of cool water hung in the shade, drank freely and lay back to rest. When his frantic family found him, they were sure the water would kill him and with weeping put him back in the wagon. With the needed moisture again in his body, the fever soon subsided and recovery was rapid.
Many of the company did die and they passed the graves of many of the dead of previous companies. The disease finally disappeared, but not without leaving its toll. A company of missionaries traveling east reported that eleven of William Wall’s company was dead and many more of the remaining 39 seriously ill. Finally as the train reached the mountains the last traces of cholera disappeared.
Twelve miles from Fort Kearney they received an equally grave threat. Camped along both sides of the trail was a fairly large village of Sioux Indians and as the wagon train started among them the Mormons were horrified to see nearly every member of the village was either very seriously ill, dead or dying with the most dreaded of all diseases, Smallpox. As they continued through the village, they saw literally scores of Indian dead lying uncared for on the ground. Miraculously not one of the Saints came down with the disease.
One of the most fearsome sights the Saints encountered along the trail was the number of dead laying along side the trail where they had been dug from shallow graves and partially eaten by wolves. It was a very grim reminder of the possible fate of them all. The last night before they reached the Salt Lake Valley they all sang “When Shall We All Meet Again”. There was not a dry eye in the company. They all learned to love each other dearly in the three months they had traveled together. Finally in September 1850 the company arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley.
William Wall saw more opportunity for himself and his family to the south and very shortly afterwards moved with his family to the new settlement of Provo where he lived two, more or less, uneventful years establishing a homestead. On 16 December 1851, Josephine Augusta, was born in Provo, his first child to be born in Utah.
At a special conference held at Provo, Saturday and Sunday, July 17 and 18, 1852, George A. Smith was chosen Stake President. On Sunday Smith nominated Isaac Higbee and Dominus Carter as his counselors and organized five wards with William Madison Wall as Bishop of the Fourth. He was the first of the new bishops ordained that date, July 18, 1852. Wall chose Lucius N. Scoville and Richard Sessions as his counselors. Later he served as Bishop of the Third Ward. He was also appointed Captain of the District, he was ordered by the Adjutant General to place his troops on standby duty as trouble with Walker and the Mexican slave traders drew near.
On 6 August 1852, he married Elizabeth Penrod, who became his second wife under the new order of polygamous marriage. He wasn’t allowed to remain idle in the bliss of his double married life because it was only a short time later that the Walker War entered into his life. As early as 1805 Spanish or Mexican traders began traversing the southern part of Utah and traveling as far north as Timpanogas and Utah Lake. The most readily obtainable objects of trade were Indian children captured from other tribes. The usual procedure was to purchase worthless horses in California or Santa Fe, bring them to Utah and trade them for children who were then taken to Santa Fe and sold for slaves. They usually received $100.00 for boys and $120.00 for girls.
The practice led to war among the tribes with stronger tribes preying on the weaker with one object in view, the capture of children. The situation was causing chaos among the tribes because of necessity the weak tribes were becoming weaker and the strong were becoming stronger. Chief Walker had always been unpredictable in his dealings with the white settlers of Utah. Many times he was gracious and kind, and many times he was belligerent. For some time before the Walker War broke out it was felt by those who knew him best the he was spoiling for a fight and looking for an excuse to declare war upon the settlers. He didn’t have to look for an excuse, however.
Governor Brigham Young decided the slave trade must cease, and upon his recommendation the legislature passed two ordinances which made it illegal to buy or sell children except when it was for the child’s protection and well being. Under these circumstances the child could be purchased under supervision of the probate courts. There had been incidents where the Walker’s Band had offered a child to the Mormons who declined to buy it. Arapine, Walker’s brother, became enraged and brutely killed the child. He accused the Mormons of having no heart or they would have bought the child to save its life.
Trouble came in when Pedro Leon and a party of 20 men were arrested in Sanpete County for trading children. The arrest raised a legal problem as they had been licensed to perform these acts by the governor of New Mexico acting as Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New Mexico. It was illegal under Utah Territorial Law. The men were convicted and a squaw and eight children were set free and the Mexicans were ordered out of the territory. Instead of leaving they went from one Indian tribe to another that had dealt with the Mexicans before, and with all the persuasion they could muster, attempted to convince the tribes that the Mormons were attempting to deprive them of their livelihood.
The hate preached by Leon and his men fell on very eager ears when he met in council with Walker. But still Walker needed some kind of an overt act by the settlers that could be used by this small band to unite all the Indians with the force necessary to drive the settlers out of the valley. On April 23, 1853, Governor Young issued a proclamation to preserve peace and quell the Indians and secure the lives and property of the citizens of the Territory.
Captain William M. Wall was ordered to proceed south through the entire extent of the settlements reconnoitering the country and directing the inhabitants to be on their guard against any sudden surprise, but the settlers were also requested to remain quiet and orderly pursuing their various avocations until such times as they may be called upon to act in their defense. William Wall’s company was activated at Provo on 24 April 1853 with 44 men and one four horse team package wagon, all well armed and equipped.
The officers were as follows: William Wall—Captain; William Bishop—1st Lt.; James G. Heron—2nd Lt.; A.J. Kelsey—Quartermaster; Charles W. Moeller—Commissary & Secretary; Boliver Roberts –Orderly Sargeant; George W. Bean—Indian Interpreter. The company took up their march at 12: 30 p.m. (24 April 1853), going through Springville, Spanish Fork, Palmyra, and Payson where they made their first camp for the night. They left Payson the next morning and traveled everyday until they reached Parawon on April 30th. Wall took only 10 men with him to the extreme settlements and left the main forces at Parawon. This body of men arrived at Harmony, Washington County on May 2nd, and stayed there for a day to rest. They left Harmony on May 4th for their return to Parawon to join those left there and continue on to Provo, arriving there on May 10th at 1:30 p.m. Here he returned thanks to the soldiers for their good behavior and good discipline and told them he had been pleased to have been their captain, not on account of the rank and title, but on account to see so many brave young men united together, even it if had been necessary to shed blood for a good and righteous cause in protection of their brothers in the country. The total cost of the expedition was $2,251.50. William Wall’s salary was $76.00. His report was signed Wm Wall, Commander of a detachment of the Nauvoo Legion.
After his return he was placed in charge of defenses for the Provo Military District. He prepared his defenses as previously ordered by the Governor and on Sept. 27, 1853, under the title “Report No. 2” he advised General Wells that all was well in the District. On 29 November 1853, at the age of 32, he was ordered to Fillmore by General Wells to command the Military district at Fillmore and to bring other families with him to build up the settlement. He took with him his second wife, Elizabeth Penrod, and two of his daughters. They were Eliza Helen, age 10 (by Nancy Haws), and Elizabeth Olive (By Elizabeth Penrod), who was born 19 October 1853.
Years later Eliza Helen wrote about the experience. She says: “I went with my father and his second wife and child in company with 50 families; this was my first great sorrow. I left my mother, brothers and sister. There was no regular mail, and we heard from home once or twice during the winter. I attended school and in the spring when Father returned to move mother and family I came back with him. And OH! What joy to meet my mother, brothers and sister; I cried for joy. We stayed one year, were released, and settled again in Provo.” During this time the Walls took part in the great silk production experiments.
The Walker War finally ended without further involvement of William Wall, although he remained in the Military. On Oct 20, 1855, the roll of the Brigadier General’s Staff lists – William Wall as Chaplain.
Amasa Lyman was born 7 November 1853 to William and Nancy. Unfortunately he didn’t live long and died as a child. On 20 October 1855, David Madison was born to William and Elizabeth, but this child died in infancy. On 12 February 1856, Nancy Haws gave birth to Juliet.
A writ was issued 14 February 1856 by the 1st District Court for the arrest of Fah Pitch and Mo-lee, with a subpoena for 10-12 witnesses. Deputy U.S. Marshall, Thomas L. Johnson and one man, Charles Woodward, went to Provo, and found that the Indians were up in arms because of Judge Drummond had sent a posse headed by his slave, Cato, to arrest Chief Tintic and others in Cedar Valley, who were accused of murdering two herdsmen while stealing cattle. Johnson got permission from the chiefs to arrest the two Indians. He set forth to make the arrest accompanied by General Peter Conover, Colonel S. Markham and Major Wm M. Wall. They arrived at the camp and found the Indians were ready for attack. A conference was agreed upon and the Indians informed the posse that the Indians they wanted had left to fight with Tintic.
Meanwhile, Judge Drummond’s posse had entered into a pitched battle with Tintic and his followers in attempting to serve his writs. One member of the posse was killed and, one the other side, Tintic was wounded and one squaw was killed. A few days later the savages killed three more men near Kimball’s Creek, southwest of Utah Lake. General Conover, with a force of militia, was now ordered out by Governor Young. Crossing the lake on ice, they went in pursuit of the Indians; who fled at their approach, leaving behind them the stolen cattle.
William Wall wasn’t permitted to spend a great deal of time with his family at any period of his life because it seemed that the Church had need of him almost continuously. On April 10, 1856, he was called by the First Presidency, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and J.M. Grant to the Australian Mission. He received his second Patriarchal blessing on May 13, 1856 under the hands of Patriarch (first name unreadable) Harris. He was told his posterity shall become numerous, not a hair of his head shall fall by an enemy, etc. This blessing was very much like the first blessing in 1844 in which he was promised that if he were faithful and obedient that angels shall minister unto him, unlock prison doors, and unloosen chains for his deliverance, his family would be numerous; that he was called to travel amongst very wicked people who would seek his life, but he would have power to escape out of their hands and not a hair of his head shall fall by an enemy: “If they shoot at thee, they shall not hit thee and no weapon formed against thee shall prosper and prison shall hold thee. Thou shalt become a mighty man. Thy voice shall be heard before kings and rulers and they shall fall down to worship thee if thou does not restrain them,” and that he was called to proclaim the Gospel to the Nations afar off.
Family tradition persists that William Wall was called on another mission for the Church in 1844, and certainly, the tenor of the above blessing would seem to bear out the fact; however, the Church has no record of a mission except the one in 1856. In view of the laxity of records and the very troubled times, it is very probable that he did serve two missions. William Wall’s mission of 1856, by necessity of the troubled times he was living in, was a very short mission because he was ordered home in may of 1857.
From the few sources of information that is available concerning his missionary activities at that time, all are in agreement that his mission was a great success, with many baptisms and many healings by the laying on of hands. It is reported in one of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Journals that he became President of the New South Wales Mission, however, it has not been confirmed as yet. On 18 June 1857 he was to sail aboard the Ship Lucas bringing with him, many converts to the Church and non-members. The total passenger list was composed of 66 persons. William Wall was President of the company with Absolem P. Dowdle, 1st Counselor, and George Roberts, 2nd Counselor.
The Ship Lucas was commanded by Capt. J. C. Daggett. On Sat. 27 June 1857 the pilot came aboard and gave orders to weigh anchor. The sea was rough and most of the company was seasick. The weather continued from violent to dead calm and was against them about as often as it was in their favor. Prayer meetings were held twice daily and the Saints received much exhortation. A school was organized; the women spent much of their time sewing. During the voyage there were six children blessed, four births and one child sick with Whooping Cough. The Elders administered to the sick and one child who was said to be dying and all were restored to health. Water had to be rationed.
On Monday, October 12th, the ship anchored in San Pedro Bay after 118 days on board the ship. Saw land only once in the entire voyage. The next day most of the company went ashore (Oct. 13th) with their baggage into rooms that were engaged for the company for a week until teams arrived from San Bernadino. Elders Wall and Robb started of to San Bernadio to get teams who had agreed to come to San Pedro to assist the passengers in moving from that place. Wall and Robb stayed in San Angeles, however, they were in great danger from the apostates of the church who beset the house round about, but the Lord protected them and they got away safely and arrived in San Pedro ahead of the teams. The next day they started back to San Bernadino and found an empty house there when they arrived.
As it usually the case with people who survive great danger, the persons telling about it are only guilty of understatement. So it was with Wall and Robb. In greater detail the situation was this: Just about the time the company was arriving in San Pedro, word was received in Los Angeles of the Mountain Meadow Massacre, and it was overwhelming believed by the non-Mormons that the Mormon Church was responsible for the massacre. Innocent members of the Church in all parts of the United States were persecuted anew for the supposed latest Mormon outrage. Mormon settlements in California were particularly vulnerable. Many outrages were perpetrated upon the Mormons who remained true to their faith.
It was in this sea of hate that William Wall and Robb went in search of wagons. Upon there arrival they were met my mobsters screaming their hatred of Mormons in general. All people were being stopped by the group and asked if they were Mormons. William Wall answered the question without any bravado, but with sincerity, “Certainly, I am.” The mob immediately held a trial and sentenced him to death. The rope was placed around his neck and was asked if he was ready to die a Mormon. His reply simply was, “You have the rope. Whether I live or die a Mormon depends on you.” Finally one man in the crowd spoke up in his defense and convinced the others that they would not kill a man that obviously had no part of the massacre. After much abuse he was allowed to go on his way. But still the horror wasn’t over as evidenced form the following quotation from Journal History, 12 Dec 1857:
“During the night after his arrival mobs twice threatened to break in to his room to kill him. Being unarmed he tore the wooden poster from his bed and in calm voice told the gathering outside his door that he knew the door was flimsy and they could break it in, but that he would kill the first to come in. There were no volunteers to go first. The next morning upon leaving the hotel a mob with ropes surrounded him. He felt his time to die had come and to speak a few last words: “I had one little thing I wanted to impress upon their minds and that was that some of them had to die in the operation and I did not want to kill any man that had a drop of innocent blood in him. If there were any such men present I begged them to withdraw and let the worst hounds they had remain to do the deed, as I certainly would kill three or four. All present soon became honest and withdrew.
His trip back to Utah, although hazardous (as all overland trips in those troubled times were), was without any great incident. Upon his arrival in Utah he found a great deal of trouble in the air. Although peace talks were being formulated and plans for occupation by federal troops were being accepted, the air was oppressive with hate, doubt and worry. Immediately upon his return to Provo, he was appointed Provo City Marshall, where he found himself in a trouble spot almost overnight trying to keep peace between soldiers and civilians. At the time he was attempting to build a home and settle down to family life with his third wife, Emma Ford, who he married in Salt Lake City, 23 Jan 1858. She was the daughter of William Ford and Lucy Mayo.
Susan Malinda was born to Elizabeth Penrod, 11 Sept. 1858 and 16 Sept. 1858 Nancy Haws gave birth to Bathsheba Lavinia. Although 1858 is historically reported as the “year of peace,” incidents and trouble (on a small scale) between the settlers and troops were of frequent occurrence. One such incident was related by William Wall in the president’s office one evening to the men gathered there. They were Daniel H. Wells, Orson Hyde, and George A. Smith, Ezra T. Benson, Wilford Woodruff, A. Stewart, Lorn Farr, and the President. “Brother Wall stated he had a conversation at his ranch in Provo Canyon, two weekends ago. He, Wolfe, asked Wall if he was a Mormon. Wall replied, ‘he was’. He remarked ‘Kind of half Mormon----, I suppose,’ giving Wall a friendly tap. He replied, ‘I am a Mormon, head, neck and heels. I believe in all the principles, and try to practice them’. ‘What’ said he (Wolfe), ‘polygamy and all?’ ‘Yes, sir! said Wall. ‘How many wives do you have?’ asked the captain. Wall answered, ‘If it was any of your business, I would tell you, but I’ll tell you anyhow. I have three wives and twelve children.’ The captain said, ‘Then I am afraid you will have trouble, for the government will not put up with polygamy. What do you think Wall, your children will think of you when they arrive at years of maturity, and realize you have raised them up by different mothers? They will no doubt look upon you with disgust.’ Wall replied, ‘Captain, it is so, and you must not be offended by my plain way of talking to you. My children grow up. I educate, love, and respect them, and acknowledge them and their mothers and make them honorable in the world, and love and honor me in return. They realize that I have educated, taken good care of them, and protected them amidst the opposition and persecution of the whole world and thy look upon me with pride and satisfaction. It will not be so with your children. I have no doubt but what you have children in Leavenworth, in St. Louis and other places where you have been located. By and by your children grow up and you have occasion to visit some of those places and perhaps ride through at the head of you army; the mothers of your children see and tell their children, as you pass, that there is their father, and at the same time tell them they must say nothing about it for their life.’ The captain said, ‘He would be damned if it wasn’t so! The captain asked Brother Wall what he would do finally when the government persecuted him, for polygamy?’ Wall answered, ‘I would deep my wives, fight for them, if I had to take them through all these mountains.’ The captain said he would never shoot at him. He also said he believed the government and him had been playing a game of euchre’.
In the Deseret News, Jan 6, 1859, casual reference was made to the hot spot at Provo: “Last Friday evening when William Madison Wall, Marshall of Provo, was walking down the city streets, a ball was shot through his hat and grazed his head, knocking him down.” Journal History stated, “The shooting was supposed to be done by gamblers who occupy Alexander William’s house.” Trouble continued between the army and the settlers through the year of “peace” and William Wall, as Utah County Sheriff and Provo City Marshall, did his best to protect the rights of all concerned. The occupation by Federal troops was always a thorn in the side of the settlers and they were not very cordial in the acceptance of the troops. On the other hand, the troops did everything they could to antagonize the settlers.
Emma gave birth to twins on 12 January 1859. They were named Emma Adelia and William Albert. In 1860 a son, William was born to Elizabeth. He died as a child. The same year on 9 December 1860, George Albert was born to Nancy.
Heber Valley was discovered early in the 1850’s, when three men climbed the Wasatch Range from Big Cottonwood Canyon, traveled down the western slopes into one of the most beautiful and fertile valleys they had seen. Their report to Brigham Young immediately created a great deal of interest in the valley. The big problem was how to get to it. It was soon decided that the best and easiest route would be up Rock Canyon or as we know it today, Provo Canyon. On January 19, 1855, the Provo Canyon Road Company was incorporated by the Governor and Legislative assembly. The act reads as follows: “That Aaron Johnson, Thomas S. Williams, Evan M. Green, and William Wall with their associates and successors are hereby constituted a body corporate and politic for the term of twenty years from and after April 1855, subject to revision of the legislature at any time, with the exclusive right of making a good wagon road to the acceptance of the county court of Utah County to Kamas Prairie until it intercepts the main traveled road from the United States to Great Salt Lake City, near Black’s Fork in Green River County, Utah Territory.” The original purpose of opening a road to the valley was primarily to link the southern communities with the United States and thus avoid many miles of travel.
Little was done on construction of the road at that time, however, because of the imminent threat of war with the United States. It would have been a military blunder to open such a road if there were to be a war. There was only one easy route into the territory – that was through Echo Canyon and with almost perpendicular walls in parts of the canyon; a small military force could keep out a great army. A small militia company did just that when they held General Johnston’s army and kept them from coming into the valley throughout the fall and winter of 1857. If the rock canyon Road had been completed it would have been a simple task to send a force into Provo and thereby split the territory in two. Probably the history of Utah would have been completely changed by that one act alone.
Thanks to the intervention of Capt. Van Vliet and Colonel Kane, at least partial peace was established in 1855, and it was deemed advisable to complete the road as quickly as possible. It would fulfill its original purpose, open the valley for settlement and provide an easy way for the Federal freighter and soldiers to get to and from the United States and Camp Floyd. Trouble between “Federal, Mormon, and gentile” would be considerably lessened.
Brigham Young called a meeting at the Bowery in Provo on June 6, 1855, and organized a new company with William Wall in charge of construction, which started immediately with construction of a bridge over the Provo River, being completed on Oct. 13, 1858 and the road in use by November. On Nov. 12, 1858, William Wall reported that 100 teamsters had started to the United States over the new road.
The first group of settlers to go into the valley was composed of George Bean, William Meeks, Aaron Daniels and William Wall, with Wall establishing his ranch in the neck of the canyon in the south end of the valley. Daniel and Meeks went further north. Wall married his fourth wife, Susannah Gurr, a daughter of Enoch and Ruth Gurr (who were converted to the Gospel by William Wall in Australia) on 12 Nov. 1859.
In 1860 he moved his families into what the Indians referred to as Little Warm Valley, but was soon given the name of Round Valley by all the settlers who saw it. The valley was perfect for cattle ranching since it was a natural corral with its narrow mouth and huge bowl like shape. Running through the valley was ample water for both settlers and livestock. Rosalie was born to Emma Ford 27 May 1861 and John Clayborn was born to Elizabeth Penrod 20 Sept 1861. In 1862 the Wall fort was built and some 20 families were housed in it. All the homes in the fort were very much alike in appearance.
In 1862 William Wall added another facet to his chain of varied abilities when he became a delegate from Utah County to the constitutional convention meeting at the courthouse in Great Salt Lake City for the purpose preparing a constitution that would be acceptable to the Federal Government. On 8 Sept 1863 Joseph Penrod was born to Elizabeth Penrod at Heber and on 9 Sept 1863 Charles Flake was born to Emma Ford. On 4 Aug. 1865 Susannah was born to Susannah Gurr, (William’s fourth wife at Wallsburg (Round Valley at that time), Utah. Later that year 14 Dec. 1865 Wall married Susannah’s beautiful younger sister, Sarah Gurr, (his fifth and last wife). Temperance was born 8 Oct. 1865 at Round Valley (Wallsburg) to Elizabeth Penrod. In 1866 Elizah was born to Susannah Gurr and 25 Sept. 1866 Sarah Ruth was born at Heber, Utah to Sarah Gurr.
Indians were always a problem in this isolated section of the territory. But with Brigham Young’s policy of kindness and gentleness and William Wall’s natural honesty and love, it was not long until William Wall had the Indians’ respect. Although there were minor incidents of cattle stealing, etc., there was never any great trouble with the Indians in that sector, until the Black Hawk War broke out beginning in 1865.
In accordance with the terms of a treaty entered into between Colonel Irish as U.S. Indian Agent, and the various Ute Tribes, and the creation of a new Indian Reservation in the Unitah Valley by Congressional Act of May 5, 1861, the Indians of Sanpete and Sevier Countries were moved to their new home. It soon became evident that it was impossible to keep the Indians from leaving the reservation and returning to their former homes almost at will. Black Hawk was never reconciled to reservation life and showed his resentment by leading his followers on raids against the whites wherever it was possible. His band was seldom composed of more than two score warriors until a drunken white man at Manti, SanPete County, pulled a chief from his horse and struck him. Such an act was a high insult to the chief and was the spark Black Hawk needed to rally the Indians to his side in a war of revenge. With every raid Black Hawk made, more Utes rallied to aid Black Hawk until he had such a large following that it struck alarm in to the hearts of the scattered and ill protected settlers.
During the raids on the settlers in 1865 some of the settlers were killed and wounded and stock driven off. General Warren S. Snow with two Companies of cavalry pursued a party of hostiles into the mountains east of Sanpete Canyon and killed fourteen of them. Chief Sanpitch was induced to join Black Hawk. His campaign was short lived however, when he was captured in one of his first raids. He was rescued by four of his daring band, but the rescued and rescuers were closely pursued, a battle ensued, the four rescuers wee killed and Sanpitch escaped. He was pursued again and two days later between Moroni and Fountain Green he was dispatched to the happy hunting grounds. Black Hawk raided whenever and wherever he chose to raid. His was a war of hit and run. Black Hawk would suddenly appear from out of nowhere with blood tingling cries, attack the village and attack, then disappear again before the setters were really conscious of what had happened. No settlement was safe, with every attack causing more and more Indians rushing to Black Hawk’s aid. Although several Companies of militia were in the field no amount of militia could have tracked Black Hawk down in the vastness of southern Utah and punish him.
While the Black Hawk war kept the attention of the settlers and the militia, Chief Tabby on the Uintah reservation was making his preparations to sweep west, join Black Hawk and thus cut off the isolated southern communities from further help until they would be destroyed. The only thing that kept Tabby from doing just that was the brilliance of Brigham Young and the courage of Al Huntington and William Madison Wall and a few of his company. Brigham Young was only too aware of the danger Tabby presented and so called Al Huntington to go along to Tabby’s camp and prevail upon him to cease his raids and live in peace. Up to this point Tabby had little opposition in his raids against the settlements and stock of the Wasatch county settlers because all the settlements had been abandoned in favor of uniting in their common protection in Heber.
Brigham Young as a seer and prophet of the living God promised Huntington that no harm would befall him if he undertook the task. With that promise in mind, Huntington did as directed. He went to Tabby’s camp and attempted to deliver the President’s message, but the Indians were too angry to listen to words of peace. Oddly no attempt was made at first to harm Huntington, probably due to the amazement that a white man would come alone to their village. But as he attempted again and again to preach peace to them, they became more and more angry until their anger was at a fever pitch, when a messenger arrived to tell them that Sanpitch had been killed.
The Indians were now ready to kill Huntington in retaliation. Sanpitch’s squaw was screaming “Kill the Mormon, I want to eat his heart while it is still warm,” But Sowiette, although old and blind, but still the friend of the settlers, rose to his feet and took the Indians to task for their attitude. One thing an Indian is always willing to acknowledge was courage. Sowiette reminded them that it took the utmost courage to come to their village alone, as Huntington had done. He told them that since the brave man had come in peace he should be allowed to leave in peace. With powerful words of Sowiette in their ears, the Indians let Huntington return to his home unharmed just as President Young had promised him.
The second peace overture was by way of a gift. William Madison Wall was to organize an expedition to take 100 head of cattle to Tabby as a peace offering. He chose 10 men from his Cavalry Company and 14 other including Colonel Head, the Indian agent, and started off on May 27, 1866. He arrived at the agency headquarters on the Duchesne River and found the camp practically deserted. He soon learned that the Indians had gone east to leave their families in a more protected area so they would be free to join Black Hawk. One of the remaining Indians was sent to overtake Tabby and ask him to return to receive the gift and listen to the word from Brigham Young. Tabby was willing to come back and look over the gift – whether to accept it as a gift or to steal it with no promise on his part – will have to be left to our imagination. He sent a runner ahead of him to confer with Colonel Head who, it is said, advised the runner to return to Tabby and refuse the gift unless it could be presented to the Indians by him on behalf of the agency. He then offered to buy the cattle from Wall, as commanding officer of the group. Captain Wall refused, saying that if “the Indians were going to have cattle to eat, they will eat Mormon beef.”
Lt. Joseph S. MacDonald in his journal described the preparations for armed conflict if nothing could avert it. “The man who kept the store came over and said, ‘They intend killing everyone of you. I cannot see you killed for nothing. I think they will attack tomorrow night. Now, I have ammunition of all kinds, and as soon as it gets dark so the agent can’t see you, send your men over and pack into this blockhouse. All I ask is that you return all you don’t shoot. I have a two-inch auger. Set your men to making portholes for yourselves, and pack in wood for use. I have a big rope. Sink some posts in front of your house, bore holes right through it, and put the rope through the holes tie your horses to it so they can’t run them off.’ We worked all night. Next morning after breakfast we all felt pretty good. The agent came over and looked around and finally said, ‘Gentlemen, do you know whose house this is?’ I said, Uncle’s I guess. He never answered and walked on looking at the portholes we had made until he came to one that drew his attention. When he looked through it, he swore and said, ‘This is straight for my door!’ The man that owned the port hole tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘Yes, and you are the first Indian we intend to kill.’ I never saw a man get out there so fast and he didn’t bother us any more.”
With the first light of morning the men saw Indians painted black filtering through the surrounding trees. A messenger came to the blockhouse and said the Indians would be coming in on the attack and suggested that the white men be gone before they came. The Indian was instructed to inform the warriors that if they came in any faster than at a very slow walk, they would be met with a hailstorm of lead. Seeing that the bluff wasn’t going to work, the Indians or at least part of them led by Tabby came into the compound at the walk suggested and preceded to the agent’s dwelling.
William Wall told Lt. MacDonald that he had to find out what was going on in the dwelling and instructed the Lieutenant to cover him while he went over. Walking in on a suddenly hushed conversation between the agent and Tabby, Wall told Tabby that he had a splendid gift for him, but he was to read Brigham’s letter to him before the cattle could be turned over to him. Tabby turned sullenly away from him, saying that he would not listen to the words of any white man. Another offer was made to read the letter and another refusal. William Wall said, “Either you will let me read the letter to you or I will shoot you and read it to your corpse.”
Tabby evidently believed William meant what he said because he agreed to listen to the words of the President. They were good words counseling peace and Tabby recognized them as such. But his great pride would not let him agree so readily to the peace overture. He did, however, agree to meet peaceably the following morning with William and see if a mutual ground for peace could be found. The next morning the Indians came into the clearing in force and although it was to be a peaceable conference with no weapons, every Indian was painted black, had a war club slung on his wrist and had pistols hidden in their blankets. The meeting took place in the blockhouse. The house had two rooms, Williams’s men placed themselves in the east room and the Indians went in the west room.
William and Tabby met close to the center with Lt. MacDonald standing nearby to keep the groups separated. The conference lasted all day with Tabby reiterating his many grievances against the white men and Wall attempting to pacify and explain. Finally Tabby demanded a white man be killed in revenge for the death of Sanpitch, but William refused saying Sanpitch had been killed in an act of war. As evening approached Tabby agreed in principle to the terms laid down by Brigham Young. Twelve days after starting on their mission the Mormons returned to their homes to find that the settlers had given them up for dead.
With the exception of minor raids and skirmishes, that was the end of the Black Hawk War in Wasatch County, but war continued in the south. During 1866 as many as twenty-five hundred men were under arms. The number killed during the seasons campaign was about twenty settlers and between forty and fifty Indians. The settler’s stock herds were reduced nearly two thousand head. The year 1867 was a repeat of 1866 in nearly every way with raids, theft and killings, but finally in the fall of 1867, Black Hawk sued for peace. The remainder of the war for William Wall was spent in leading his cavalry company on watchful patrols. Although the Indian trouble officially came to an end in 1868, minor trouble with renegade Indians continued and there was ever present the danger of an attack. Parents were ever watchful of their children and didn’t allow them to get out of sight from their houses. If they exceeded the limits they were severely reprimanded.
During the time Wall was working for peace with the Indians, changes were taking place in his families on the home front. On June 21, 1867, Martin Ford was born to Emma; William Peter Gurr was born Sept 23, 1867 to Susannah; on March 6, 1868, Alice was born to Sarah at Heber, Utah. Abraham was born 30 April 1868 to Elizabeth, and on May 30, 1869, Louisa was born to Susannah. A total of 30 children were born to his five wives.
The last two years of William Madison Wall’s life were spent in developing his farm in Round Valley and improving the road in Provo Canyon. It was in the canyon while returning to Round Valley after laboring on the road that he was shot by an Indian lying in ambush. The bullet struck a large watch in his vest and was deflected upward burning a streak up his vest as it traveled, but doing no other harm. Thus we have two instances when he was actually struck by a bullet, but the bullets did no harm just as he was promised in his patriarchal blessing.
During the later years of his life, he suffered very poor health, but yet it did not interfere with his very active live. It was in the canyon working on the road when he became very ill and soon after died on 18 September 1869 (at the age of 47 years old). He was buried at Provo, Utah. Not quite three months later his last child was born, William James, to Sarah at Benjamin, Utah.
Thus a great career came to an end. A few years as we recount time but in which he was able to crowd the career of pioneer, soldier, peace officer, missionary, bishop, legislator, peace-maker, settler, construction-engineer, and probably most important of all, husband and father. Family tradition persists that he also served as a County Attorney and practiced law. How he was able to do so much in a short time must be one of the mysteries of life. After his death the town of Round Valley changed its name to Wallsburg in his honor. Today a monument stands in Wallsburg as an ever-present reminder of his life.
30 children of the wives (1) Nancy Haws, (2) Elizabeth Penrod, (3) Emma Ford, (4) Susannah Gurr, (5) Sarah Gurr are listed in order of their births as follows:
1) Mary Jane b. 12 April 1841 d. 6 Dec. 1891 1) Eliza Helen b. 26 Sept 1843 d. 12 March 1882 1) Nancy Isabelle b. 12 Nov 1845 d. 27 Feb 1933 1) William Madison, Jr. b.19 Oct 1847 d. 26 Feb 1926 1) Isaac Oliver b. 21 Oct. 1849 d. 15 May 1932 1) Josephine Augusta b. 16 Dec 1851 d. 18 Feb 1917 2) Elizabeth Olive b.19 Oct 1853 d. April 1925 1) Amasa Lyman b. 7 Nov. 1853 d. as a child 2) David Madison b. 20 Oct. 1855 d. 1855 1) Juliet b. 12 Feb 1856 d. 1 Feb 1915 2) Susan Melinda b. 11 Sept 1858 d. 12 Sept 1957 1) Bathsheba Lavinia b. 16 Sept. 1858 d. 5 Nov 1878 3) William Adelbert b. 12 Jan 1859 d. 14 Aug 1932 3) Emma Adelia b. 12 Jan 1859 d. 27 Nov 1876 2) William b. 1860 d. 1860 4) Elijah b. 1860 d. 1866 1) George Albert b. 9 Dec. 1860 d. 11 Nov 1938 3) Rosalie b. 27 May 1861 d. 2 Apr 1938 2) John Clayborn b. 20 Nov. 1861 d. 15 Nov 1941 3) Charles Flake b. 9 Sept. 1863 d. 4 Feb. 1933 2) Joseph Penrod b. 8 Sept 1863 d. 25 July 1937 4) Susannah b. 4 Aug. 1865 d. 18 Oct. 1936 2) Temperance b. 8 Oct 1865 d. 6 Dec. 1949 5) Sarah Ruth b. 25 Sept 1866 d. 8 Jan 1942 3) Martin Ford b. 21 June 1868 d. 17 Feb. 1880 4) Peter Gurr b. 23 Sept 1867 d. 22 May 1941 5) Alice b. 6 March 1868 d. 21 Dec. 1935 2) Abraham b. 30 Apr 1868 d. 7 May 1926 4) Louisa b. 30 May 1868 d. 7 May 1928 6) William James b. 1 Dec. 1869 d. 13 Sept. 1932
By 1960 when Wall’s history was published his descendants numbered 2,972.
William Madison Wall's Timeline
September 30, 1821
Rockingham, Richmond, North Carolina, United States
Sangamon, Illinois, USA
January 7, 1840
Sangamon, IL, USA
September 26, 1843
Nauvoo, IL, USA
Utah, Utah Territory
Salt Lake City, UT, USA
January 23, 1858
Salt Lake City, UT, USA
November 12, 1859
Salt Lake City, UT, USA