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My Grandfather's Grandfather :: HDR

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posted by alias |sumsion| on Wednesday 22nd of April 2009 06:00:40 AM

Sometimes I need a reminder of just how blessed I am to live where I live, to have what I have, and to have been able to have learned from those who came before me. This story was recently sent to me, and contains information about my grandfather's grandfather, Alma Spafford. These are not my words, but they mean a great deal to me since they are the experiences of my ancestors. The mountains and the lake described at the end of this story are the mountains and lake that I get to take pictures of often and share with you here on Flickr. ---- Horace Spafford was the son of an army man, born in Bergennes County, Vermont on January 23, 1797. His parents were Colonel Elijah Spafford and Irinda Skinner. Horace grew to manhood in the neighboring county of the birthplace of Joseph Smith, founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon church). In early manhood, Horace married Martha Stiles and they had eleven children, six girls and five boys. He was a quiet, unassuming man, devoted to his family and community. Through his industry he was able to provide some comforts for his family who were reared in the prevailing religious teachings of that time. When the LDS religion was introduced to Horace and his family they became very interested and soon joined the church. At this time they moved to Pike County, Missouri. In January of 1840, Alma was born. The family endured all the persecutions of the members of the church at that time. It was during this same time that their oldest daughter, Caroline, married Joshua Kimball and left the church. They never heard from her again. This was one of the first of many sorrows. In the spring of 1850, unable to endure the persecutions any longer, they sold their possessions and outfitted themselves to make the trek across the plains to what is now Utah. At this time there was another wedding in the family. [Daughter] Irinda married Spicer Crandall. Spicer was also a member of the church and he and bride planned to go west with the family. They joined a company with Aaron Johnson as captain. There were 135 wagons in this train of pioneers. All seemed to go well with them until they reached the Platte River. As they made camp one night, Martha made biscuits with flour and alkali dust for her family. That night many members of the family became very ill. That morning Irinda and her infant daughter were dead. Within the next four days, two other daughters and two sons and their mother were also dead, victims of cholera. Alma was just a small boy [of ten] and was also very ill with the dread disease. While he was burning with a high fever, he crawled to the edge of the river and sat with his feet in the water all night. By morning his fever had left and he was apparently well. He often said this saved his life. He was the only member of the family who had cholera and lived. After the deaths of his wife, five children, and one granddaughter, Horace wrapped their bodies in a feather bed and quilts and placed them in one grave on the edge of the Platte River in June of 1850. They placed large stones over the grave to keep wolves and other wild animals from digging up the bodies. If any man's faith was tested, it was Horace's, for now he was fifty- three years old, had no home, owned only his wagon and a few possessions, his wife was dead, and only three sons and two daughters were left from this once large and happy family. But his faith was strong and he squared his shoulders and once more joined the company to come west. On September 2, 1850, this weary company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley and camped at Emigration Square. There they rested from the long journey. That night, Brigham Young, the President of the LDS Church, came to the camp to greet these weary people. He counted out the first eight wagons and told them that he wanted them to go south to the shores of Utah Lake and there build a fort and make their homes. Horace's wagon was one of the eight. They rested for seven days and then started out. It took three days of travel and on September 18, 1850 they arrived at the future site of Springville and camped on a little bluff. Here they corralled their wagons and their long journey of 1,100 miles was over. The previous five years had been a state of unrest and uncertainty but here they found rest and a place to expand their energies. Now they were all settled as far as future wandering was concerned. On the day of arrival they nooned at Bullock's Springs, south of Provo, Utah. About 2:00 that afternoon they drove down across the big pasture and crossed Spring Creek where it is now spanned by the the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. The location was one of natural beauty, one to fill their hearts with joy and thanksgiving. High mountains surrounded the beautiful valley, tall grass waved in the breeze, and the beautiful lake to the west made it a picture never to be forgotten by these delighted home seekers. Early the next morning, these hearty pioneers were up and busy. Some gathered grass for hay and others hauled logs for the fort which was built on the rising ground just south of the corralled wagons. The fort covered one and a half acres and was constructed to serve also as a home. The fort was completed before the winter storms set in and it served as a protection for the members of this new church. In the spring, the town site and lots were surveyed and Horace and his family were given a plot of ground between Center Street and 100 North and between 200 and 300 West [in present-day Springville]. He built his log house on the northwest corner and set up homemaking for his motherless family. During the year of 1851 he married Rachel Robison Ford, a widow. She was a wonderful woman and loved Horace's children and raised them to adulthood. She was called Grandmother Ford. After nineteen years of peace and rest from persecutions, Horace passed away in Springville on December 12, 1869 [at the age of 72]. - Compiled and written by Helen McKenzie Jackson Note: Both Horace Spafford and his son, Alma, are buried in the old pioneer cemetery near downtown Springville. I have visited those grave sites and plan to again with renewed interest in the lives of these wonderful people. Dim the Lights

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  • Published 01.20.22
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