Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Moroni Seely ~ Pioneer of the Month ~ May 2013

The following history is taken from the Seely Family History, and written by Deloy F. Seely
Moroni Seely and Emily Alice Seely
Moroni Seely was born 29 May 1848, the son of William Stewart Seely and Elizabeth DeHart in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He dictated his own story to Ada Larson:

In 1851 my parents moved to Pleasant Grove, Utah.  There I received my first schooling but it did not amount to much as I was not able to attend regularly.  I was just at the useful age of eleven when I had to herd sheep and ride after the cattle.  It was very hard times, food was very scarce and our daily diet consisted of greens of different kinds.  During the summer months my oldest sister's task was to gather enough wild greens for the family.  Many times I had to get up in the morning and hunt until I could find a bush of thistles, and then take my knife and peel the stalks and eat them for breakfast.  I was thankful I could get thistles.  Other times I would dig segos and wild onions.  We didn't know what  it was to have bread in those days.  You mothers who read this, just think what it would mean to you to call your children out of bed in the morning and have to tell them to go out and dig their own breakfast.  There were many who had to do that every day, but the Lord was good to us.  We are and thrived on that kind of food, and it satisfied our hunger.

About this time,  Johnston's army which you have all heard of camped near Pleasant Grove.  Some of our citizens were kept on the alert watching their movements as we did not want them in our town.  I became acquainted with them, and used to run errands for them.  The men would send me to the pasture for their horses.  They would describe the horse they wanted and I would always bring the one I was sent  after.  When they went riding they would pick me up and put me on behind them.  They told me if I wanted to be a man, I must chew tobacco.  Child as I was, I thought it would be a great honor to be a man, so I did my best to learn to chew.

Again, my father decided to move, this time to Mt. Pleasant, Utah, in 1859.  There I attended school in the Fort which was built to protect all the settlers from the Indians.  When I was 17 years old, I began riding and looking after my Father's cattle.  The Indians were still causing much trouble.  They were not satisfied with the treatment they were getting from the settlers.  They claimed they were not getting enough for their land.  Every chance they got, they would steal cattle, horses and sheep.

Several stories are told of the cause of the Black Hawk War.  During the winter of 1864-65, a small band of Indians camped near Gunnison, Sanpete County.  They contracted smallpox and quite a number died.  They seemed to think the pale faced people were to blame, and they made threats to kill the people and steal their horses and cattle.  The whites heard of this and arranged a meeting with the Indians to try to pacify them.

They met at Jerome Kempton's place at Manti.  The Indians seemed to be willing to settle without trouble except for one young chief known as Yenewood, also called Arropene.  He could not be quieted down; he kept trying to excite the Indians and would not let them talk peace.  There were to interpreters, John Lowry and Archibald Buchanan.  It is said the Indians were very angry someone called, "Look out, he is going for his arrows?.  At that, Lowry stepped up, caught hold of his arm, and pulled him from his horse.  Lowry was prevented  from abusing the chief by bystanders.  This news spread quickly among the Indians, and it did not take long for them to be on the warpath.

I acted as one of the minutemen in this  Indian war from 1866-68.  My experiences alone would fill a book, but as a history of this war has already been written I will not dwell upon it to any great length.  But I will relate one instance that was very sad; a murderous band of Indians in Thistle Valley attacked a family by the name of Givens.  John Givens had moved his family out there for the summer months.  They consisted of John, his wife, a son nineteen, and three daughters.  Mary age nine,  Annie five, and  Martha three years old. There were two men staying over night; they escaped to the little town of Fairview about six miles distant.

A dispatch was sent to Mt. Pleasant and quickly twenty men were in their saddles andon their way to Thistle Valley.  We arrived before noon.  This is what we found.  Mrs. Givens outside the cabin, stripped and laying on her back with her head toward the door; John Jr. lying on the floor of the cabin on his back with his feet toward the door and shot in the breast; the father was shot through the heart.  The little girls had been sleeping in a wagon; each little head had split with a tomahawk; they had been stripped of their clothing except a little shirt waist they had on.

The Indians took axes, cooking utensils, in  fact everything they could get their hands on, including their horses and between one and two hundred head of cattle.  They left the calves in the corral and  had chopped  each one above the hips with a tomahawk.  There we found them dragging their hind parts.  We do not know why the did this inhuman thing, unless it was to prevent them from following the cows.  We took the bodies of the family to Fairview and  buried them.  This story stands out as one of the most terrible crimes that was committed during the war, one I cannot erase from my  memory.

During the war I took part in one battle.  I acted as express rider, carrying messages from one  place to another and did considerable skirmishing and scouting until peace was restored.

In 1888, the railroad came down Echo Canyon.  I took Father's teams and went up there to work for a few weeks, grading on the road, etc.  I worked under Cyrus H.  Wheelock, he being the boss.  Brigham Young was the contractor.  I returned home for Christmas holidays.

Then I was called to go back east to help the poor immigrants who were unable to come west on their own; a large company was called to go.  My Father was captain of the group/ some  drove oxen and some drove mules.  I drove four mules on a wagon.  We had a very sad accident on the way.  We had to cross the Green River which is very large, as many as could would get on the ferry and were ferried across the river.  Nearly all were across when a cable broke, letting the ferry go down the river.  There were eighteen head of oxen and several men aboard.  In spite of all efforts, seven men and one yoke of oxen drowned.  I took a handful of matches, jumped on my horse and with Lynn Beach hurried downstream to see if we could save someone.  We found one man washed up on a small island.  I shouted to him.  He said he was alright but was freezing.  I wrapped some matches and a stone in my handkerchief and threw it to him.  There was driftwood there and he soon had a fire going which kept him warm until he could be rescued the next morning.  We found another man lodged in some brush, he looked like he was standing up.  Lynn was a good swimmer; he made several attempts to swim out to him, but the current would pull him under and he had to return to shore.  I told Lynn to stay there and I would get a rope and try to lasso the man in the river.  I returned and was ready to throw the rope when he sank.  We looked for him a long while, but he never came in sight again.

We went on to Laramie, Wyoming; there we had to wait four to six weeks for more immigrants.  I drove Father's outfit part of the time, and the rest of the time I spent scouting on horseback.  We returned to Salt Lake without any accident.  Father and I  returned home to Mt. Pleasant.

In those days money was very scarce.  When a man worked for another, he  was paid with something he could use, such as land, building materials, etc.

Sometimes he would have to trade two or three times with others to get the things he needed.

In 1870 I began  to build a house of adobe brick.  It had three rooms downstairs and two upstairs, and still stands in a splendid state of preservation.

Through all my boyhood years we had a neighbor, Oscar Barton, who lived across the street from Father's home; we children grew up together.  In those days people spun and wove their own cloth for clothing, blankets, bedspreads, etc.  There were only two girls in the Barton family, so they usually had hired help.  I liked to watch the girls at the spinning wheel, but the one that interested me the most was the youngest; she with her pretty  brown eyes and auburn hair, parted and combed into two lovely braids.  Her industrious ways appealed to me.  She was very small for her age, so her father cut down the legs of her spinning wheel and by standing on a box, she could spin with the rest of them.  I used to tease all the girls, but Alice was my favorite, and I was easy with her.  So it was as we grew up together.

When Alice was twenty and I was twenty-two, we drove to Salt Lake City by team and wagon and were married in the Endowment House on April 10, 1871.  We returned to our new home in Mt. Pleasant.

That spring I started freighting to some mining towns in surrounding areas.  I took a load of potatoes and eggs to White Pine, Nevada, for which I received a tidy sum of money.  I reloaded there with all kinds of fright and went on to Pioche, another mining town two hundred miles farther south.  This trip was very  discouraging, as I only had about twenty dollars left when I got home.

I decided not to drive mules again, so I traded my pony for a yoke of oxen, one was lame so I traded it for a yoke of little black steers.  I now had three head.  Father told me I could have all I wanted of his steers, so I took five head of unbroken steers.

Father loaned me a wagon  and Lyman Peters loaned me another.  I loaded them with flour.  Joseph Page loaded his outfit and went with me.  My wild steers traveled right strong with my broken ones.  We reached Salt Creek about thirty five miles  from home and had to double up our teams to cross it.  Everything went fine; we had only gone a short distance when Mr. Page discovered he had left his log chain at the creek.  So we went back, found the chain and returned to our wagons.  He had thrown the chain across his shoulders to carry it back.  As it slid to the ground, it caught on his pistol, discharging it.  The bullet passed through his knee, and he lay on the ground groaning with pain.  I didn't know what to do, with government wagons loaded heavily and slow ox teams.  As I stood wondering if I should unload the wagon, I could hear a wagon coming from the direction we were going.  The teamster was a stranger.  I explained what had happened, and he said he would gladly take us back to Mt. Pleasant, so I unyoked the oxen and turned them loose to graze around the wagons.  We put Mr. Page in the wagon.  He had a good mule team, so it was not many hours until we returned home.  This accident happened between sunset and dark.  I might say that Mr. Page's leg never did heal properly and he could not straighten it out, so he always walked on a peg.

Mr. Page sent Conderset Rowe to drive his teams.  We went back to our wagons the next day and  found everything as we had left it.  We  went to Pioche, Nevada.  We disposed of our loads at a good price, and I returned home with three hundred dollars in my pocket.  That seemed a large sum to me then.

I felt rich, so I bought calves, and that was the beginning of the cattle business for me.  I also looked after Father's cattle.  In 1872 or 73 I took up  a homestead in Thistle Valley, eighteen miles from home.  The land was covered with black ant hills.  I rigged up an outfit that I could hitch a team to and drive along and cut the tops off these hills.  In that way I hot rid of the ants; then I had as good a meadow as there was in the valley. There were other men  in the area, but because of the Indians we dared not take our families up there.

In the latter part of the year President Brigham Young sent word to Stake President Canute Peterson to call men to go to San Juan River area and explore it to see if it was a fit place to send people to start new homes.  President Peterson sent a call to me.  It was late afternoon when this call came.  I was very busy haying as it was ready to haul, a bumper crop.  I had worked hard for it.  My brother-in-law was with me.  I handed him the paper, saying, "what would you do?"  He said, "And leave all this?" waving his hand toward the meadow.

I asked  him to get my horse while I packed up.  This call said I was to report at Ephraim the next morning at ten o'clock.  I was eighteen miles from home.  I arrived home in the early evening.  A friend was waiting there  to take my horses to the blacksmith shop to have them  shod.

I reported to President Peterson at ten o'clock.  There were seven of us in the Party.  After explaining to us what was required of us he said, "I want you to attend to your prayers night and morning; do your swearing in between times.  If you do this, you will return safely."  That was asking a lot; I was not a religious man and had not attended  to my prayers.  Each man hand to take two horses, one for riding and a  pack horse for supplies.  Each man was allowed to take his guns, but not to use them except in self defense.  This was  hard; there were all kinds of game, but the report of a gun would probably arouse the Indians and cause trouble for us.

We traveled from Manti to the Wasatch mountains  the first day.  The next day we moved on down through  Castle Valley and Rock Canyon, and we camped on the Cottonwood Creek for the night.  The next day we went to Cottonwood Springs; the fourth day we came to the very large and treacherous Green River.  The men asked me to take the lead.  I told them to keep their eyes upstream; we crossed safely.

We went out through alkali flat, and we came to another large stream called the Grand River.  We followed it  for three days ; we camped and fished as we went.  We came to Grand  Junction, Colorado,  where the Grand and the Gunnison Rivers meet.  We had to  cross both.

After another day's ride, we came to Uncompahgre River; after following it for two or three days, we came to the Ouray Reservation.  The chief advised us to go southwest, as we could find bad Indians south.  We took his advice and traveled many days until we came to the Dallas River.  The next day we passed over the foot of the LaSal Mts. and onto Coyote Creek.  There we met Bill McCarty and three others; they were outlaws.  We camped there, but asked no questions.  We were afraid of those men, although they treated us well.

We came to a large valley.  There we found large rocks hollowed out just like a well full of water.  We watered our horses.  The next day we found streams of water coming from the Blue Mts.  Our next camp was on the San Juan River.  One day, as we followed the River, we saw a large cave, so we crossed the river to investigate.  The cave was about seventy five feet high and had seven rooms, the walls were very smooth and had hand marks like someone had dipped their hand in blood and, while climbing the ladder, had touched the wall at every step.  We also found corn cobs, we went back to our camp.

Next morning we started up the north side of the river.  We saw big cliffs lowering hundreds of feet where there were lots of cliff dwellings which we could not get to.  We followed the river several days and came upon some sand hills, looking like the ruins of an ancient city.  We went up to the mouth of the canyon; there we found evidence of pottery at one time.  There were quantities of broken dishes about, beautifully decorated and of good quality.  I filled a salt sack with the pieces of dishes and took them home to my little girl.  I have always regretted that I did not keep them, as they would be highly-prized now.  We followed on up the river until we came to the Dolores River; there we found numberless Indian tracks.  That was as far as we were told to go.  For the first time we stood guard over our horses.  We were then near the four corners of  Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New  Mexico.

We began our journey west.  We cut across country to the Blue Mts. ~~ they were our guide.  There is some very fine country through there.  We camped at Cane Springs the first night.  The next night to Grand Valley, where we  found a Negro and Frenchman,  two outlaws; we asked no  questions.  The next morning we crossed Grand River and traveled on to Saleratus Wash. The next day we went to Green River, which we crossed, then to the  big rocks with pockets of water, from there to Joe's Valley and arrived home the next day.

My family was well, my hay put up in fine shape, and a splendid woodpile.  In our company was a man who did not believe in anything--not even  God--when we left home.  We had all promised to take our turn at prayer; returning thanks to our Father in Heaven.  He took his regular turn, at prayer and could pray as well as any of us. (This story thus far was dictated to Ada Larsen and was not completed at the time of Moroni's death).

As stated before, Moroni married Emily Alice Barton in the Endowment House in  Salt Lake City April 10, 1871.  She was the daughter of John and Susannah Barton, born in Bountiful, Utah, May 2, 1850.  To this couple were born nine children.

Alice Vilate married Edward Allen Ericksen; they had six children
Cyrus Moroni, married Mattie Lenora Neilson, they had one child.  He married a second wife, Alice Nellie Thomas Galpin; they had one child.
Clara Elizabeth married Nels Henry Nelson; they had twelve children
George Lafayette married Tina Neilson; they had nine children.
Lucinda May married James Draper Bradley, they had seven children.
Orson Ray married Myrtle May Kiddle, they had nine children.
Mell Gay married Edith Elinor Dunwoody; they had four children
Artie J. married Ovedia (Veda) Fawns; they had six children.
Catherine Verda married Charles Ellis Fawns, they had five children

All nine of these children are now deceased (1986).  (This family has the unusual distinction that all nine children grew to adulthood, married, and had children of their own.  Moroni and Alice had 60 grandchildren)

Moroni and Alice purchased land and farmed and ranched at or near Mt. Pleasant, Utah.  He became a large property owner in the city and vicinity.  He had about 200 acres of land, besides city property and much leased land.  He increased his cattle herd to about 1000 head, and he also had about 400 sheep.  Besides, he still did much scouting for the Church.

In the late eighteen hundreds many people were immigrating to Canada (southern Alberta).  In 1902 Moroni decided to go see what the country was like.  H stayed with his brother Joseph Nephi, who had gone to Canada in 1899 and had built a hotel at Stirling, Alberta.  In February 1903 Moroni went back to Mt. Pleasant and gathered their household effects and some Livestock. They  moved to Canada with all their family, except one son,  Cyrus.  Cyrus stayed in Utah and worked in many areas; he later came to Canada after his first wife died  (about 1925).

Moroni bought a farm near Stirling, but he was not able to work it long.  In 1905 he had an operation and a nerve was severed, leaving his legs paralyzed for the rest of his life.  He liked to have visitors and play games from the wheelchair.  Their home was always open to visitors, who laughed and joked with him.

In 1910, the family still at home went to Utah for the winter.  Moroni had to ride in the baggage car where he could have a cot to rest on.  Artie was always at his side to do for him the things he could not do for himself. Artie also ran his father's farm.  At that time,  some of the springs were so wet that they had to broadcast the grain from a wagon.

Alice Barton Seely  died 18 January 1930 in Stirling Alberta., Canada.  Moroni died 5 May 1930 in Stirling Alberta, Canada.  Both were buried in Mt. Pleasant,  Utah cemetery, as they had requested.

by Deloy F. Seely