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Little, Feramorz (1820-1887), Biographical Sketch

Feramorz Little, mayor of Salt Lake City three consecutive terms, was born June 14, 1820 in the town of Aurelius Cayuga county, New York. He migrated to Utah in September, 1850. His father, James Little, immigrated to America from Ireland early in the nineteenth century.

The mother of Feramorz was Susan Young, a sister of President Brigham Young. When Feramorz was but four years old his father died, leaving him and two brothers wholly dependent upon their widowed mother. In the early days of Mormonism, Susan Little joined the Church and moved west with her brothers who were all prominent members of the Latter-day Saint community. For a penniless youth the Great West had many attractions and Feramorz Little, at the age of twenty-three, decided to follow his mother and relatives. In 1845 he left his native state and traveled on horseback to St. Louis, Missouri, where he met his brother after a separation of ten years. There, and in Illinois, he engaged in farming, school teaching, and the grocery business. At Nauvoo, in 1846, he married Fannie M. Decker (sister to Lucy and Clara Decker who were the wives of President Brigham Young). In 1850, Feramorz, desiring to see his mother and relatives who had emigrated to Utah, contracted with Livingston and Kincaid, non-Mormon merchants of Salt Lake City, to freight goods to this point from Ft. Kearney, on the Missouri river. At this time he was in business at St. Louis and not yet connected with the Mormons. He arrived in Salt Lake City, September 23, 1850. His objective point was California, but in finding ample scope for his ambition in Utah, he became a Latter-day Saint and subsequently one of the Bishopric of the Thirteenth Ward, in which part of the city he resided.

In 1858 he married Annie E. Little and Julia A. Hampton. Soon after his arrival in Utah, he showed his industrial activity by building a dam, the first across the Jordan river, at a cost of $12,000, and constructing the first canal that took water from that stream for purposes of irrigation. In the summer of 1851, he contracted with S. H. Woodson to carry the United States mail between Salt Lake City and Fort Laramie, a distance of more than five hundred miles, with no settlement, and but one trading post, Fort Bridger, between. His partners in the contract, which lasted until January 1853, were Charles Decker and Ephraim K. Hanks. During the two winters the mail carriers endured the greatest hardships, scarcity of food, and fuel, blinding snowstorms, and almost impassable mountains being a few of the difficulties encountered, but the trips were successfully made.

In 1856, he contracted to carry the mail between Salt Lake City and Independence, Missouri. The carriers now traveled with mules and a light wagon; formerly pack animals had been used. They encountered the usual obstacles, making at times but eight miles a day, and subsisting on parched corn and raw buffalo meat. The trip to Independence consumed three months. Arriving here early in 1857, Mr. Little with Mr. Hanks found the inhabitants in a state of excitement over the sensational anti-Mormon reports set in circulation by Judge Drummond, who, with other slanderers of the people of Utah had made the nation believe that the Mormons were in a state of rebellion against the government. These reports Mr. Little denounced as false. Having occasion to go to Washington, D.C. to collect his money for carrying the mails, he went to New York City where he wrote to the Herald of that city, refuting the foul calumnies.

Continuing his industrial career, Mr. Little operated a flour mill at the mouth of Parleys Canyon, making his home there in the early days. In his youth he had worked in the leather business, and this doubtless led him to engage in tanning at that place, where he had as partners in this industry, President Young, and John R. Winder. He also carried on the blacksmithing and shoemaking business and established a school for his children and those of his workers. He built five sawmills in the canyons of the Wasatch range, and for years carried on a prosperous lumbering business. He was the builder of the Utah penitentiary on its present site. (Since razed).

In 1859, he brought large quantities of merchandise from Omaha, Nebraska to Salt Lake City and, in 1863, was appointed emigration agent for the Church. Under his supervision five hundred teams were fitted out, carrying three thousand emigrants, and involving an outlay of one hundred thousand dollars. In 1865 he, with President Young, purchased the Salt Lake House, then the leading local hotel. When the railroad came, he engaged as a contractor in building the Union Pacific railroad, and subsequently was superintendent of the Utah Central and Utah Southern lines.

During the last few years of his life, Mr. Little occupied various positions of public trust. He was one of the Board of Regents of the University of Deseret, and a member of the Salt Lake City Council. In 1876, he was elected mayor of Salt Lake City, serving in that capacity as stated, for three consecutive terms. During the period of his mayoralty the Salt Lake and Jordan Canal was constructed under his supervision; the streets improved, the water works extended, and the purchase of Liberty Park and Pioneer Square effected. In the latter part of his life, he gave special attention to banking. He was a director of the Deseret National Bank and virtually one of its founders. At the time of his death he was its vice-president. He was also a director of the Ogden National Bank, and likewise interested in Z.C.M.I.

In June, 1881, Mr. Little sustained a severe loss in the death of his wife, Fannie. As already stated, he had married two other wives, but he was again a single man when he married Rebecca E. Mantle. While visiting the Blackfoot Ranch, of which he was president, he was stricken with a severe illness, and it was aggravated by the journey home which required three days. Typhoid fever set in terminating his earthly existence [age 67] August 14, 1887.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.