About Richard Jones, Jr.
Birth: Oct. 15, 1856 Provo Utah County Utah, USA
Death: Apr. 25, 1926 Heber City Wasatch County Utah, USA
Autobiography of Richard Jones Jr.
I, Richard Jones Jr., son of Richard Jones and Mary J. Cummings, was born 15th of October 1856 at Provo, Utah. My parents then came to Heber, which was then called Provo Valley, with the very first company who came and brought their families with them with the intention of making homes and trying to raise grain and potatoes in this climate. This valley had been used as a summer range by the people of Provo City for some years and there had been a little hay cut and a few head of cattle and through the winter of 1858 said to be by Wm. Meeks, Wm. Cummings and Robert Parter. Wm. M. Well also had built a house and wintered some stock on the river below where Charleston was later built. But in the spring of 1859 some 17 families came determined to establish homes where land and later were here ready to be used by those who had the courage to risk raising crops where the seasons were known to be very short and the now in the winter fell usually from 2 to 3 feet deep and where they were practically shut in from December to April. This was the condition these brave men and women who settled here in early days had to contend with.
A survey of what was called the big field had been made and having brought their plows and farming implements with them, they went to work on their claims usually 20 acres each. The land was not surveyed by the government until about 1875. They only had what was called squatter's rights or claim to their land up to that time. In those days, it was no disgrace to be poor because everybody was poor. Everybody used oxen for teams in those days for every purpose and though very slow and awkward to manage in many ways, they were a very profitable team. We used to work them all day and then turn them out on the range to pick up their feed during the night. Then when they got too old for work we would turn them out on the hills in the springtime after they had been used to put in the crops and let them get fat. The poorer the oxen were when turned out the better and more tender the beef was in the fall. And the old ox when fat would buy another young ox again. One good thing in those days was the fact that there was plenty of wood bunch grass all over the valley among the sagebrush and splendid feed in the canyons in the hills.
As a boy I attended school when it was in session, but schools at that time were not held more than two quarters in the year, and lacked a great deal of being up to date as we now have them. Still I got a fairly good start in reading, writing and arithmetic so that I could do my own business without any trouble later in life. When quite young I can remember working in the hay field with my father, bare footed, and also at harvest time helping to rake the bundles of wheat and oats as my father and others cut them down with what we called a cradle. Later people reapers drawn by horses to cut the grain, which was quite an improvement, but for many years we still had to bind by hand. Hay had to be cut also with a scythe by hand which was very hard and very slow work.
The first suit of underwear I had was made by my mother out of common sheeting. I was then twelve years of age and was going out to Fort Bridger, Wyoming with a load of potatoes. I drove one team and my father another. On our way back home we stopped at the head of Echo Canyon and worked for some time with our teams hauling ties for the Union Pacific railroad that was then being built. Men with teams got $10.00 per day, wonderful wages in those days. When eight or nine years of age, I used to go skating in the North Field barefooted and I wasn't the only one who indulged in this sport.
About 1869 I went to work for Bishop Abram Hatch. He had horses and mules and I learned to drive them and a great many other useful things while in his employ.
When I was about nineteen I was hired to a government surveying party. It was sometime in August, 1875, when four of us, Noah Mayo, David Murdock, Wm. G. Rasband and myself, left Heber on horse back and went out to join surveying parties. Noah Mayo and David Murdock returned home. There were three parties in the field running townships into forty-acre lots. One part was on the west and north boundary line. They wanted me to go with them out of the field onto the southwestern boundary line, so the main man told them that they could have me if I wanted to go with them. The men I was with in the field wanted to keep me, but he said if I wanted to go on the boundary to go ahead, so with that understanding I went on the southwestern boundary. We went down onto Green River to what is called Holebrook, about six or seven miles below the mouth of the Duchesne.
Will Rasband and I persuaded them to go back up the Green River to the Uinta point of the line, and they spent one day moving back up. We started from there and worked across the benches over into Antelope (Bridgeland). We left our team and provisions at what was called the Old Point of Ricks; we left them there for them to move into the Strawberry Valley, taking with us ten days' rations. We worked on across up Antelope to the head of Antelope, camping at the divide between the Minnie Maud and Antelope.
One night there came a terrible kind of moaning, groaning wind. I said we had better go back and get more provisions for there was a big storm coming on. We talked it over and the boss said, "You're your own boss, you've got your own horse and saddle, so you can go back if you want to, I am going on. I have run lines in Minnesota over ten feet of snow." I said, "Well, I am not going back unless the outfit goes back, but I'll tell you one thing you can't run lines in these mountains over ten feet of snow." We got across two or three big box canyons in the mountains and then camped in the south branch of Vintiquin. All I was doing was trailing along as a helper around the camp. The surveyors were out eight or ten miles in the hills. It snowed pretty hard that night. When we got up the next morning the boss put me on the stoutest horse we had and sent me to some high point to see if I could tell where we were. I started out and all day I tried to get a look at the country, but I couldn't. The camp was to move up the right hand fork of the Vintiquin. We were scattered in three parties, that is, I was one party. I stayed out as long as I dared before I finally started for camp. Just about dusk that evening I came upon the trail where they had gone up the valley. The tracks of the horses in the snow had filled until they looked like dog tracks, but I followed them until they got plainer and plainer. Just at dark I found them. We threw away all of our packs and everything that was heavy. We even threw our tents away and took just what we could get along with. We had very little grub.
We traveled all day. Along in the middle of the day, we got into a dispute about which way to go. They all decided against me and wanted to go one way, and I wanted to go the other. We went the way the majority wanted to go. We circled for hours, the first thing we knew we came onto our old tracks, so we knew we were lost; so they went the way I wanted to go. We traveled on till night, along in the half-light we came onto our old camp of the night before. We kept traveling, the snow got so deep that we had to break road for our horses. We traveled several days and ran out of grub, all we had was about five pounds of salt. We came to the head of a little canyon, kind of a cut through the mountain. I told them we had to go down the swale and it would lead us down to the Strawberry Valley. We had a big mountain range to cross to come into the Valley, and I had concluded by that time we couldn't get there, so Will Rasband joined with me in the same proposition, and we finally got them started down this draw in the mountains. At night we would have to tie our horses up and all they had to eat was dry quaking asp bark. We just built our beds on top of the snow. That swale led us down into a deep box canyon, precipices on both sides, and we came to some place where the snow was eight and ten feet high, so high that we couldn't get our horses over. We had to push them over in the snow.
I don't know how many days we were without food, but before we got any food one fellow went kind of crazy. He got ahead in the trail and tried to stop us from going any further with a knife. There was one six-shooter in the party; it belonged to this fellow's partner, Charlie Smith. I told him to let me have it, for it was impossible for us to pass the man with the knife without it. Finally he let me have the six-shooter. I went up to the man and told him to let us go on and he could follow us, so I made him get out of the road and keep far enough away so he couldn't knife us.
We followed that canyon down till we came to a big cottonwood grove. We stopped there and shot a horse and cut this throat; we were too weak to turn in and skin him, but we rolled him up on his back in the snow and cut out his liver and heart and boiled him in the camp kettles for a while. We had lots of wood for a big bonfire. After supper was over it was snowing and none of us could go to bed, so we went to work and skinned the horse and quartered him. We felt stronger and better after we got him quartered, so we cut the legs off and made soup of the bones. We were lucky to have a little salt to go into it. We sat around the fire all that night drinking soup. The next morning we moved on up a little wash and came to Strawberry Valley. We knew it to be the Strawberry Valley because we found some old sawdust around the edges in the drifts. There had been a sawmill up the river so we knew it must have been some sawdust that had been washed down the river.
We stopped there that day and got all the flesh off the horse. We strung it on ropes and dried it so we could carry it easier. We were getting out of the snow to where it wasn't nearly so deep. After another day we started down the Strawberry River and there were no trails so we traveled along, sometimes over land and sometimes right in the river. In some places we had to wade for about a mile. When we could travel out of the river our clothes would freeze stiff as ice. We followed Strawberry River down till we came back onto the Duchesne to the Old Point of Rocks again. We left the trail and took a cut off to Duchesne. We made camp on the Duchesne River and took the lightest man in the crowd and put him on the strongest horse and started him out to the Uinta Agency at Whiterock to get supplies.
While he was gone we tried to catch crows by putting grains of corn that had been dropped on the old camp ground on some fish hooks that we had, but we couldn't catch any. There were a lot of work oxen, and I tried to persuade the boss to kill one of them, but they wouldn't. Then I wanted to rope one, snug him to a tree and cut his tail off and make ox-tail soup, but they wouldn't do that. In a day or two Rob Snyder came along from Ashley going toward Heber. We saw him when he was about a mile away; some of us got on a horse and stopped him. He came to camp on a horse, letting his team go on. He brought us four or five big loaves of bread and about a wash dish of potatoes. We got a meal out of that. Then we went another day before provisions came. The next day our man came back. He brought two Indians with plenty of provisions so we thought we could lay over a day or two and recruit. We were still camped there when Captain Dodge and Major Critchlow came in from towards Heber. They told us they couldn't have got through but for a big herd of cattle that had come through and broken the trail. They told us it was impossible for us to get back through, they persuaded us to turn around and go with them to the Uinta Agency at Whiterock, from there we could go to Green River City and come in on the Union Pacific Railroad.
We stayed at Whiterock one day. The next day we went to Ashley with Captain Dodge. He was the only white man living at Ashley. He had a log cabin; I camped there that night, he persuaded me to stay with him that winter. I was going to stay with him and the rest were going to Green River City. While we were eating breakfast one morning before they made their start, my father and Fred Rasband came poking in through the door. They got us to go back with them; my father said I would seem like a dead man to my mother if I stayed out there all winter. There was one fellow by the name of Ropper in the party, he had an old horse, and he begged us to let him come with us. So the three of us of the surveying party, my father and Fred Rasband came back this way. The cattle had beaten a trail through the snow and that enabled us to come back through that trail. When we got on the top in Strawberry Valley there were several wagons. They all had two and three beds and wagon bows on and they were all snowed under. The highest of the boxes stuck out four or six inches out of the snow.
We got to what was called the Soldier's Cabin in Strawberry Valley. At that time it had nearly all been torn away and burned, but we had a little hay for our horses and we got under the roof of Soldier's Cabin. It got so cold in the night we got some tents out of our provision wagon and tore them up and put them on the horses. It got so cold we had to get up in the night; the horses would stick their heads out and squeal like pigs. We had to get out and run them up and down the trail through the snow to keep them from freezing. The next day we came on and got to the divide at the head of Daniels Creek. We could measure the snow and there was twelve feet of snow there. We camped there that night and came on over the next day down Daniels Creek. We got home to Heber after dark on December 6, 1875.
From my wages I had saved about $200.00. I bought my mother a stove with part of it and soon after I decided to get married which I did to Agnes Campbell, a very fine young woman. We were married on the 15th of May 1876 in the Endowment House. I had money enough to buy a bedstead, a table and six chairs. We did not go in debt for a piano and fancy bedroom suite as many of our young people do now. However we did get a stove and had it charged. I worked around at different jobs for several years. I finally took up a homestead on Center Creek and we were on it about 1889. We had to get water from Lake Creek. We spent several years grubbing the sagebrush breaking up the land and in building houses, barns and sheds, making water ditches and fences. It makes me feel tired yet just to think of it. I cut and hauled tagging and timbers from Center Creek canyon for several years and hauled it to Park City to make money to buy clothing, groceries and other necessities, until I could make the farm, the cow, and the chickens furnish a living for our family which by this time numbered nine. I took up one of the best reservoir sites in Lake Creek Canyon that helped me very much in having water to irrigate my farm.
In 1899 I went into the sheep business. My son Edward by that time was old enough to help me care for them. We have prospered very much in that business in which my son Thomas and I are still engaged. My Edward died in 1910.
I have held the office of school trustee in both Center and Heber districts. Was County Commissioner of Wasatch County about 1898 to 1902; and was a member of the State Land Board for several years. I have been a large property owner and a heavy taxpayer for many years. And I have helped either by taxation or donation to build nearly all the public buildings in Heber and Center. Although not very active in Church matters, I have encouraged my children to attend Sunday Schools and meetings and have been pleased to see them become active workers in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact one of my daughters has filled a mission for the Church and I furnished the money to provide for her wants while she was gone and felt honored in doing it.
On the 2nd of January 1926, my dear old faithful wife passed away. She was stricken and had been in almost helpless condition up to the time of her death. I miss her very much as she was one who dearly loved her home and family. To her there was no place like home.
My health has not been good for a long time. I have been troubled with dizziness and high block pressure. I am thankful however that I have a good comfortable home and kind, affectionate children who are willing to stay with me in my declining years and make me as comfortable as possible in every way.
Family links: Parents:
- Richard Jones (1836 - 1895)
- Mary Jane Cummings Jones (1834 - 1906)
- Agnes Campbell Jones (1858 - 1926)
- Elizabeth Jones Lindsay (1877 - 1945)*
- Edward Jones (1879 - 1910)*
- Mary Agnes Jones Thomas (1881 - 1952)*
- Jennett Campbell Jones Ryan (1883 - 1963)*
- Thomas Jones (1886 - 1935)*
- Mabel Jones Hylton (1889 - 1968)*
- Dora Jones Bennion (1895 - 1978)*
- Nora Jones Murdock Severinsen (1895 - 1970)*
- Wallace Jones (1898 - 1967)*
Burial: Heber City Cemetery Heber City Wasatch County Utah, USA Plot: A_189_1
Richard Jones, Jr.'s Timeline
October 15, 1856
Provo, Utah County, Utah, United States
September 3, 1877
Heber City, Wasatch County, Utah Territory, United States
April 28, 1879
February 6, 1881
April 18, 1883
September 27, 1886
October 19, 1889
May 2, 1895
May 2, 1895
Center CreekWasatch County, Utah