Saturday, August 1, 2009

William Fletcher Reynolds -----Pioneer of the Month - - -August 2009

William Fletcher Reynolds

We now have an excellent picture of him - - -Thank you Joanne!

Dictated and prepared by his oldest daughter, Ellis Reynolds Shipp

My father, William Fletcher Reynolds was born on the 8th of August 1826 in Fayette County, Indiana. His father, James Burt Reynolds was in Maryland about 1796. His mother, Eliza Ann Lawrence Reynolds came to America on a "Man of War" vessel in the days of our pilgrim fathers. As yet we have no trace of my father's ancestry, as to their honor and integrity we can never doubt, but for their carelessness in keeping records, we can never cease to regret.

My father, was one of a number of brothers and two sisters, Mary Emeline and Eliza Ann of whom I have often heard him speak most tenderly.

At an early age, he was made an orphan and mostly thrown upon his own responsiblity. However, his innate honesty and industry enabled him to make his way honorably and obtain through his intelligence and genius, a very remarkable power of usefulness which with his generosity, kindness and sympathy were a remarkable combination, proving a blessing throughout all phases of his life. His genial nature and executive ablility made him an ever welcome addition to any group or community.

At an early age, he made the acquaintance of the Hawley Family, where he was ever a welcome guest. My grandparents soon learned to love him as their own son and the early age of 19, he became the husband of their daughter Anna. She was the sainted one to become my mother when but seventeen years old. While regretting so early a motherhood for her, for myself I shall ever feel grateful for the ideal union of those "two souls with but a single thought and two loyal hearts that ever beat as one." Never in my years have I ever known such perfect congeniality between mortal man and woman. Truly the most perfect connubial happiness I have ever known.

It was in those early days that my people first heard and received the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That same gospel taught by Jesus Christ of former day saints.

In the year of 1852 my happy father left his native land and all his kindred but his youngest brother Levi W. Reynolds whom he sponsored to the far west, greatly to the dissatisfaction of his elder brothers because of their unbelief in what was called by them the Mormon Doctrine. My father was sincere in his belief and enduring faith and joyfully took up his ox whip and steered the way of his covered wagon with his dearest treasures and all his human possessions. He had been a wise and helpful co-worker with my mother's father in the years of preparation for their long journey into the wilderness of the west. He was a true son to his wife's parents and they loved and honored him as did all who knew him for his genial, upright, helpful ways as a husband and father. He was as perfect as a mortal could ever be. As a saint of the living God, his faith and integrity was true to the end.

On that long eventful pioneer journey, his inventive genius, skill and efficiency seemed in constant demand, being ever ready to repair damage for all in need. Never was he too busy to lend a helping hand. He quickly detected defective mechanism in any machinery for which he knew the remedy. In my recollection, I can see him now trudging patiently the old rough trails managing his two yoke of oxen more with his kind words and gentle voice than with the whip in hand. He was ever on the alert to pick up the pretty pebbles or shells for me, and especially any lost or cast off article found along the trail.

One day, it chanced to be two wagon tires which he thought might sometime be utilized for good. He tied them securely to the side of our wagon and there for many weeks they rattled and dangled with every jolt, which yet I seem to hear. But to my childish mind the most assuring music of the journey coming above all the clatter of the moving caravan, was the voice of my father shouting encouraging words and warnings and pointing out landmarks and beautiful scenery. He was eve a peace maker, not only with humanity but with animals. He could see ways and means superior to easing the load. He seemed to know how to ward off stampedes with wild cattle and buffalo which sometimes threatened. He was merciful to the Indians and dangers could be avoided by kindness, "to feed and not fight them."

The now historic touching story of the death and burial and last resting place of our friend and sister in the gospel, Rebecca Winters, could never have been forcefully told had it not been for the wagon tire surmounting her grave upon which my father chiseled the name, "Rebecca Winters 52" making it now an important landmark of the Old Oregon Trail. And it should be a monument of honor to men who sat up through the long night to laboriously chisel the hard iron by the dim candle light of an old lantern. While others slept, he worked and thus exemplified the unflinching innate desire of his honest soul to live a life of service. So in every righteous cause, 'twas thus he gave his precious life to the fulfillment of this purpose. He became immune to smallpox through a severe attack of the confluent variety and thus he in his whole lifetime worked through many such epidemics going where the nearest and dearest ones dared not to go, a constant bedside nurse helping to restore to health, giving hopeful relief in faith and good cheer. And in fatalities, he alone ministered in those last sad rites of burial and removing all possibilities of further contagion, burning and burying every vestige of danger.

On arriving in Utah, our home was first made in Utah County called "the bottoms" near the present site of Pleasant Grove on what was a sort of camping ground for the first winter, but in the spring my father assisted in locating the site for what is now called Pleasant Grove. Its first name was called Battle Creek because of a former battle with Indians on that spot. The first few years were years of struggle and unbounded endeavor. In two cities, Pleasant Grove andMt. Pleasant, he planted the first fruit trees.

Within a very short time after completing his little log cabin for his home, he constructed a planing mill in his granary adjoining. This mill was set in motion with his feet while his dexterious hands succeeded in turning rounds for broken down chairs or any other needed reconstruction of household furniture. Here he would replace the broken fragments with the new he had turned on his lathe. He would reseat the old chairs with green willow, rawhide or rope, polish up with a coat or two of paint, making them look like new. His labor were done in the morning and evenings between strenuous farm duties. As a child I enjoyed seeing the shavings fly in that shop which seemed almost like fairyland as I watched a piece of rough wood fashioned into butter bowls and paddles and rolling pins and potato mashers. The best were fashioned from pieces of mahogany he discovered in nearby canyons. The whole neighborhood was supplied with these useful kitchen utensils. Even as children we had them in our playhouses. Throughout the whole country, my father was known for his genius and handiwork. He had great executive ability which proved a great factor in building a new home in the desert land. His service proved a great blessing to the inexperienced. It was said, he could do anything from building a house to painting the flags for a 4th of July Celebration, or even making a crochet hook for the little girls just learning to make laces for their panties which they so proudly wore with their little white edges showing below their dresses.

We had not long been in Utah when in 1859 my father's quick eye discovered in the dashing waters of the American Fork Canyon, the very favorable possibilities of a grist mill or flour mill where the scanty harvest of wheat and corn could be ground into flour and meal to make our bread and his firtile brain had soon conceived the wonderful ideas, or should we say it was a divine inspiration, for the sustenance and the physical salvation of a righteous, God fearing people. Thus did a true, pure minded man put his hand and head and heart to the work of the construction of this mill which was in good running order in 1859.

In 1862, Grandfather Reynolds built in Pleasant Grove a mill with great wooded rollers for extracting the juice from the native sugar cane. He also constructed metal vats where the syrup was boiled down to the molasses which was such a luxury to the saints. Pioneers brought their sugar cane from many miles to his mill.

One of our first buildings was of logs brought from the hills. This one room structure served for a school house and church activities. For evening service a sagebrush fire in the large fireplace was our only light until the advent of tallow candles molded by our ingenious mothers.

In the building of every domicile thereabouts, my dear father was more or less active for he was naturally skilled in carpentry and all manner of mechanics. In his little shop he constructed a turning lathe which he propelled by treading with his feet. Here he turned the housekeepers rolling pins and potato mashers and made many toys for the younger generations, wooden eggs for Easter and for their elders, repaired broken down furniture and made them new when called for. All this work was done in the evenings and between the hours of laborious farm industries. He made and repaired everything for the people, from a crochet hook to the house that sheltered them. He put new seats in their chairs with rawhide and willow. And best of all he loved and honored by his chosen people whom he not only blessed with his efficient manual service but with his unbounded faith so pure and childlike and yet so powerful to bless a sufferer. So often his humble ministrations brought blessings upon me as a child.

My father, with ready genius strength and brawn and implicit faith, discovered in the dashing waters of American Fork Canyon the motor power for a grist mill where the whole wheat and the golden kernals of corn could be converted into flour and meal and thus he set about to construct a mill for this purpose whidh he did successfully. A little later, down in the valley, he constructed a large water wheel which supplied the power in the Battle Creek waters for running wooden rollers to crush the long sugar cane stocks pressing out the wonderful supply of juice to be boiled in the vats the same skillful hands had constructed and thus was supplied the needed sweets, the molasses for our tables and the sweeteneing for all our desserts and so nice to eat with our corn bread. Now at this late date, I bow my head in reverence and gratitude for the faith and skill and executive ability of my father.

As husband and father I have never seen his devotion equaled. For him, no effort or sacrifice was too great to make for his beloved Anna. And his sacred devotion was mutual. What an example to their posterity, for which I as their daughter, can never express my gratitude for the blessing it has proven, for which I as their daughter, can never express my gratitude for the blessing it has proven to me in my own home life. When my mother was ill, my father would climb in the heat of the summer sun to the highest peakes of the Rockies for snow to quench her thirst and cool her fevered brow. No effort was ever too great that could bring blessings to those he loved.

No home life could ever be more blessed than that of my childhood and its sacred influence will live in my soul forever. In heaven it had its origin and there it will live forever. In mortality, it could not long exist. Too much of joy to remain of eearth apart. We found this so sadly true with the passing of my angel mother, January 28, 1861 but with such a father, his devoted love, his divine faith and the gracious love which our Father in Heaven bestows on those whom he chasteneth, we found comfort and strength and blessed resignation. Every day we missed her guiding ministering presence and yet we knew that she, with our Eternal Father's love was guiding us through mortal paths. In gospel truth, my father's faith never wavered and in good works he never faltered.

With a number of others, my father was advised to remove to Sanpete County to build up another center stake of Zion, where a number of new colonies were established. In the meantime he had brought home to us a new mother, and I am assured no nobler stepmother ever lived. I had no fears after a short time of residing in the care of two beloved sisters and two equally loved brothers to her watchful care, for I knew she was a noble woman with a most kind, loving sympathetic nature.

My father soon became one of the presiding bishopric of his ward and once began another mission of reconstruction. Another mill for grinding the grain which soon became very plentiful. This mill was another monument to my father's constructive ability.

In the year 1864, he filled a mission to his native state of Indiana and old home in Iowa where he carried the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to his kindred and all who would listen to the great plan of salvation, making every effort to secure genealogy of his kindred now gone. On his return I was blessed with the opportunity of assisting in this work in the old Endowment House when he visited me in my own home after my marriage. This was a sacred work of great satisfaction to both of us. This glorious work for our kindred dead who never had the privelege of doing for themselves. Later my father and his new family removed to Colorado. My mother's children were all married and settled in their own homes and taking noble part in the same work of their pioneer parents.

Through all these many years of changing, never ending vicissitudes, my father's industries and novle works continued. His faith in the Gospel was unwavering. In 1899 I made a visit, and at the same time utilized my time in teaching classes for women on the art of nursing, while I had these pleasant visits between times. When the parting time came, I had a premonition that our next reunion would be in that "better land" where parting never comes again.

How bitterly I wept as he clasped me in his arms as in the olden days, when he would lull my cries and repeat, "Don't cry, darling." This time how I well understood his comforting words and well I knew his words would come true, "We would meet again." but not in this life. Although in those later years we were so far distant from each other, our devotion for each other never wavered. I knew no child ever had a more tender, kind and helpful father, one more faithful and mindful of a daughter's welfare, more exemplary and wise in his teachings and more lovingly true.

I was far away when his call came. When the sad news reached me, I was an orphan indeed! I had already said my last good byes, now I was too far away to reach him. I wasz in a situation rendering a long journey impossible.l I was far from home and all my kindred. No comforting note could reach me, save the echoing of memory, "Don't weep, my child, we shall meet again." At the age of 78 he passed on to his reward. All who knew his integrity and good works knew full well his reward was sure in the highest glories of eternal life. Oh, I feel assured through his spiritual uplifting and daily righteousness of life that he has earned life everlasting and how well we know, "Truth is reason, Truth eternal and that in heaven we have a father and mother there." And those precious ones, our earthly guardians will be there to meet us once again, in perfect blessedness.
Front Row: Wm. Fletcher Reynolds with wife Anna K. Laussen and Emma Reynolds
Back Row: Levi Reynolds, Carl Reynolds, Asa F. Reynolds, and Clara Reynolds Kofford

(sent in by JoAnn Truscott Peterson)