Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Historical Pioneer Biographies

Horace Fish

Born: 1799 Died: 1870

Brought his family across the plains in a covered wagon in 1850.

Biography: (Extracted from Short History of My Grandfather, Horace Fish and Family by Joseph F McGregor 7 Aug 1941.)

My grandmother, Hannah Leavitt, was born at [St.]Johnsbury, [Caledonia], Vt., 26 Dec 1805, and was, therefore just a little past 18 years of age when she was married. As grandfather was the youngest of the sons, his parents persuaded him and his wife to live with them, which they did for some little time.

Later he built a home and also a saw-mill. He was quite industrious and soon became very comfortably fixed. He not only sawed lumber but made shoes, copperware, wagons, and etc.

During the years 1835-36, some Elders, representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, labored in this part of the country and a number of people joined this church, among them being my grandfather who was baptized in 1836. Grandfather had never belonged to any church but seemed to get the spirit of the gathering, fitted up an outfit, and with neighbors and relatives started for Zion. They left Hatley 20 Jul 1837, and traveled through the state of New York where they found a number of the Fish family who were cousins. Part of the company traveled by water up the Great Lakes, but grandfather and family followed the roads along the southern border of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. My mother said they could distinctly hear the roar of the Niagara Falls when not far from the Niagara River.

As they were passing through the state of Ohio, as I recall it, they were visited by a man whom they afterwards supposed to be one of the three Nephites who were to remain. They were camped near a grove of trees when a man who was hatless, came out of the grove and walked up to their campfire. My mother was only eight years old at that time and, of course, would unable to remember very much of the conversation but says she remembers him speaking of helping to run the line between the United States and Canada. Grandfather said, "that was a long time ago" and the man said "yes, it was, but I am a very old man and you have no idea how old I am." He then told them that the Saints would be driven out and drew on the ground a rough map and marked out the route the Saints would follow before their return to Jackson County, Mo. He then left and was out of sight immediately after his departure.

When they arrived at Joliet, Ill., the Saints were being driven out of Missouri, so they decided to remain in that part of the country until their people should find a resting place. They settled at Twelve Mile Grove, just twelve miles south of Joliet. This proved to be quite a desirable place to live. The soil was fertile and they raised vegetables in abundance. Game was plentiful in the adjoining woods and their table was generally supplied with game and fish. Their first son, Joseph, was born here on the 27th day of June, 1840, and grandfather was baptized here in Sept, 1839. They had resided here now for three years and although they liked the place and had bought land and built some houses, they felt that they would rather be with the body of the church, and, accordingly, left here in September, 1840, and went to Nauvoo where they purchased a lot in the east part of town and built a house. The Saints in Nauvoo were generally quite poor at this time as they had been driven from pillar to post and deprived of all their earthly possessions more than once; they were without proper clothing and suffered very much from cold and hunger.

Grandfather farmed some land here belonging to Edward Hunter, but later spent much of his working on the Nauvoo Temple where he and grandmother received their endowments. Their daughter, Anna Maria, was born here in May 1842; and my mother, Sarah, was married to John Calvin Lazell Smith in the fall of 1845 or spring of 1846.

The persecutions against the Mormons at this time became very acute. They were forced to leave the beautiful city of Nauvoo, which had attained a population of some 20,000 inhabitants, the largest city at that time in the state of Illinois. Most of our people had already left the city, many of them having crossed the Mississippi River on the ice during the month of February of this year -- 1846.

Grandfather had been making preparations for the journey west and had made a good wagon which they loaded with their few belongings and hired a team to take it down to the river, which they crossed on the 23rd day of May, 1846. They then hired a team to take them a little way from the river and remained there a short time. From this point they could hear the shouts of the mob in Nauvoo. They would often ring the bell on the Temple and would fire their cannon across the river at the Saints who were camped there.

The family procured a poor team here and continued their journey until they reached the DesMonies River, about four miles from Farmington, Iowa, where they remained for one year. Grandfather was an expert woodsman and spent part of his time in cutting cord wood and also worked in a mill. The people in this neighborhood were very bitter towards the Latter Day Saints. Some were hung and others whipped until they were nearly dead and one man was shot and killed. The family thought they would make some maple sugar to add to their depleted larder and, accordingly, made troughs and other equipment for the syrup. This was all destroyed and grandfather, with his son-in-law, JCL Smith, sat up many nights with their guns, expecting to be attacked by the mob.

May 8, 1847, they started west again and arrived at the place where they had decided to locate - Council Point - on the 23rd of May. This place is about four miles up the Missouri River from Council Bluffs, or, as it was then called, Kanesville. Here they remained for three years.

As would be expected, they were short of clothing and eatables and at one time lived on nothing but green corn for three weeks. Later, they were able to procure some game and raise more garden stuff. They built a log house, fenced some land and put in crops. Grandfather spent his evenings making axe handles, which he sold for ten cents each. My mother's husband, John Calvin, as he was generally called, taught school during the winter of '47 and '48, and he and mother started for the Salt Lake Valley that spring with a scanty outfit.

Aspostle Franklin D. Richards, who was a close friend of the family, came and stayed a short time with them while on his way east. On the 12th of April a son was born to them and they named him Franklin Richards.

Aunt Julia, the oldest of the children, was married to Edward Thompson in the spring of '49, and they started for the valley of the Great Salt Lake a few weeks after their marriage. Aunt Julia was a very intelligent girl and taught school for six years. John Calvin and mother had arrived in Salt Lake Valley. He had made some money trading with men who were on their way to the California gold mines and, very liberally, sent part of it to assist grandfather's family as they were preparing to leave for the west. They made a start May 29, 1850, and crossed the Missouri River on the first day of June, stopping a few miles from the ferry where a company was organized to make the trip across the Plains. There were fifty wagons in the company with Milo Andrus as captain, and Robert Wiley captain of the ten to which our family belonged. As a rule, their cattle were wild and unbroken. Grandfather had one yoke of oxen but they were very old, though large and strong. With these he had some wild steers and cows. They had considerable difficulty at first but soon got their cattle accustomed to the yoke, and things went along more smoothly.

They arrived at Ft. Kearney on the 23rd of June and spent the fourth of July crossing the South fork of the Platte River. Here the river was not so deep but had a quick-sand bottom and by going upstream and making an angle to the opposite shore, it was one mile across.

Ft. Laramie was reached on the 19th of July, where they found a small number of United States troops and traders. Among the latter were half-breed Indians and some vagabonds. Devil's Gate was reached on August on August 4th.

Here the Sweetwater had cut a channel several hundred feet through a ridge, and the walls were almost perpendicular on either side. A number of Burned wagons were found here, having been left by the immigrants to the gold fields of California. In their mad rush they had been obliged to leave their wagons and rather than have them fall into the hands of the Mormons or others, They had burned them. They now found wild grass pretty plentiful and saw herds of buffalo nearly every day. Green River was reached on the 18th of August but notwithstanding this season of the year there was a cold rain with considerable snow on the mountains. It had been rather a strenuous trip up to this point and they were now left with just one-half of the draft animals with which they had started. No serious accidents had befallen them, though the little daughter Anna Maria one day fell under the wagon and one wheel ran directly over her head. Grandmother had cautioned the children to be very careful for if this heavy wagon should run over them it would kill them. Anna maria jumped up and immediately asked if she were dead. She soon made a complete recovery.

A few days before reaching Salt Lake City they were met by John Calvin and mother with their little son, Horace Calvin. They arrived in the city August 29, 1850, having been just three months on the road from the time they left Council Point on 29th of May.

John Calvin and family had settled in Centerville and persuaded grandfather and family to settle there also and divided his land with grandfather. Uncle Ed. Thompson was helping erect a mill not far south of Centerville, so the family was pretty well together. Grandfather built a house there; did some fencing and put in crops the following spring. The garden stuff and grain crops all did very well. Their wheat averaged sixty bushels to the acre. They were very well pleased with their location, but found that timber was very inaccessible and it was quite difficult to get firewood.

John Calvin was called at this time to help pioneer Iron County. He was already engaged to teach school that winter so procured George Leavitt to take his place at that time, as a pioneer to Parowan; but after his school was out in the spring of 1851, he and his family went to Parowan.

The place had just been settled on the 13th of January of this year so they were not long after the arrival of the first pioneers. I have heard my mother say that John Calvin was sick and she drove the team with a baby (Sarah Jane) on her lap and her small son by her side, and drove into Parowan in the night.

In the fall of 1852 grandfather sold his place and on the 25th of November, with Edward Thompson and family, started for the south. It was storming and the roads were almost impassable. They reached Provo on the fourth day of December, having been nine days getting that far; and as the weather was so bad they decided to stay there until spring. They rented a place from a man by the name of Stewart, and grandfather hauled fire wood and took care of their cattle while Uncle ED worked in a mill. The children - Uncle Joseph, Aunt Jane and Aunt Anna- attended school.

They, with five other wagons, began their pilgrimage for Parowan April 15, 1852. It had been rather a hard winter and their cattle were in poor condition; and, in addition to this, the roads were very bad. At Round Valley [Scipio Valley] they experienced quite a heavy fall of snow and had considerable difficulty getting over the mountains toward Fillmore; but they overcame all their obstacles and arrived at Parowan on the 30th day of April, 1853, having been just 15 days in making the trip from Provo. In early days, Parowan was afflicted with many heavy windstorms, and one of those storms was in full blast on their arrival. I have heard my mother tell of those severe winds, which were quite frequent and did much damage in the early history of the Little Salt Lake Valley.

During the winter of 1849-50, the General Assembly of Deseret commissioned Parley P. Pratt to raise a company of fifty men with the necessary teams and equipment and explore southern Utah. This company was raised and they traveled as far south as the confluence of the Santa Clara River and the Rio Virgin. Returning to Salt Lake City in the early spring of 1850, Brother Pratt recommended that a settlement be made on Center Creek in the Valley of the Little Salt Lake; and accordingly, Brigham Young called a company for this purpose, to be organized and led by Apostle Geo. A. Smith. This organization was effected at Peteetneet Creek (now Payson) in December 1850, consisting of 30 families with 100 wagons and 114 men and boys, who arrived at a place they named Parowan on the 13th day of January 1851. A fort had been built here by the settlers building their houses in the form of a square, all of them facing the inside and no windows or doors on the outside, and high pickets between the houses.

They first laid out a field of 11,000 acres but soon found that this was too large and cut it down to 1,100 acres. Some were not satisfied with the location, became discouraged, and soon left; but the majority carries on and the town survived and became the first settlement south of Peteetneet Creek of Payson.

During the summer of 1853 the Ute or Walker [war] was on with the Indians, and it was thought that the whites needed additional protection. They, therefore, enclosed a fort one mile square, with a wall made of mud and green limbs from the cedar and pine trees. This wall was four feet thick at the base, two and a half thick at the top and twelve feet high, with gates on three sides. All their cattle were driven into this enclosure during the night. A military organization was effected and a guard was put out day and night. Every day when the men left the fort to work in their fields or in the canyons they went in companies, with their guns ready for instant use, and all while kept a sharp lookout for Indians. These precautions were continued for about two years and proved to be a very wise procedure as not one white person was killed or wounded and not one head of their cattle was lost.

In connection with the Indian trouble, it might be well to mention here a fight that occurred later - July 21, 1867. My brother Horace was riding the range on the Parowan Bottoms near the Little Salt Lake. He noticed that a large number of cattle and horses had been gathered, but not a human being to be seen. He immediately concluded that it was the work of the Indians and, hurrying back to Parowan, gave the alarm. A number of men responded but it was about dark and already a few men who were out standing guard in the valley had observed what was going on and some of them gave the alarm in Paragonah, while one, my Uncle Joseph Fish, lay down on his horse and moved along with the herd which the Indians were driving toward the mouth of the Little Creek Canyon. This canyon is very narrow at it's mouth and Uncle Joseph stopped the herd when they arrived at this point. The Indians, presumably, couldn't understand just what was causing the holdup and tried desperately to drive them on. At this time some of the men from Parowam and Paragonah attacked the Indians, who retreated up the side of the mountain at the mouth of the canyon and got behind trees. The whites took their position be hind a large boulder, perhaps twelve to fifteen feet long and seven or eight high, which was at the mouth of the canyon. Here they kept firing at each other much of the night. Many Parowan people got on top of houses and could plainly see the flashes of the guns during this engagement. There were no whites killed or wounded, but it was reported that the Indians acknowledged having lost seven of their number. Our men followed the raiders the next day and overtook one of them who sat down and with an old Colts revolver began firing at them. They didn't wish to injure him but were obliged to shoot in self defence and he was killed.

Some of our boys had narrow escaped. As they were going up the canyon the Indians began shooting at them from the canyon wall and one ball grazed Heber Benson's head and struck the horse just ahead of him. Another ball struck the pistol of Allen Miller, my brother-in-law, but did no damage other than a bruised side. The Indians, what I have been informed, were Navajos, got out of the country as fast as they could without getting one head of the or horses they had rounded up and without doing any physical damage to the whites.

Horace Fish was well fitted for pioneering. As we have stated, he built the wagon in which they came to this part of the country. He had built and run a saw mill in Canada and was not lacking in experiences when he erected a saw mill in the Parowan Canyon. He not only sawed lumber but he erected houses. Shoes were very scarce and hard to get at that time. There was no leather so grandfather built a small tannery and made leather. He then made his own tools for shoe-making, lasts, and etc, and made shoes. I remember very well seeing a drawing knife, square and other tools that grandfather had made and they might have passed as tools that came from a hardware store. The writer has also seen stumps of logs that grandfather, has chopped and marks of the axe were not discernable. They looked as though they mite have been sawed. My father worked with grandfather, logging, for a time after he came to the country. He was young and strong and felt that he at least ought to cut as many logs as grandfather; but work as hard as he could, grandfather would cut three logs to his one.

Source: Miscellaneous personal histories This information has been gathered by various people interested in Utah history. These are unpublished biographies.