HANDCARTS AND THE UTAH WAR
During the winter of 1856-57, there was no regular mail service between the Salt Lake Valley and Missouri River points due to the severity of the season. Eph, who was now thirty years old, was living in Salt Lake City where, during the spring of that year, he had taken two additional wives according to the Mormon practice of plural marriage. In March, 1856, on the 17th and 26th of the month, he married Hannah Hardy, a sixteen year old convert; and a fifteen year old girl, Jane Capener, both of whom later divorced him. Hannah Hardy left him within two months.164
Eph could not have been aware that fall season as he earned a livelihood fishing Utah Lake and marketing his catch in Salt Lake City, that he would shortly be called to perform a Herculean feat of mercy requiring, as one diarist wrote, "incomparable self-sacrifice and courage."165 It was to be his most notable accomplishment.
As early as 1851, church authorities in searching for a less expensive and faster method of transporting emigrants from the eastern railroad terminus to the Salt Lake Valley suggested the use of handcarts. It was not until 1856, however, that the idea was adopted. The first three handcart companies, numbering 766 pioneers, accomplished the 1,300-mile journey from Iowa City to the Mormon capital in record time that year.166 So naturally, church leaders continued to be optimistic as the follow-up Martin and Willie's Handcart Companies started pushing their way across the plains. They were to be the last emigration of that season. But, because of untimely delays they were compelled to postpone their start until much later than expected. Realizing the danger of meeting winter while enroute, the two companies, while at Florence, Nebraska, nevertheless voted to continue their pilgrimage.
Unfortunately, the first severe frost, accompanied by severe winds and snowstorms, stunned the 404 members Willie Company on September 17, while yet on the Platte River, still five hundred miles from their destination. Almost over night the forlorn pioneers faced annihilation from hunger, dysentery, cold and exhaustion.167 While camped at Willow Creek on the Sweetwater, thirteen people died in one night and two the following day.168 The larger 576 members Martin Company, with a greater number of older women and children, suffered even more. Having left Florence later, they encountered even more storms.
The same impossible weather that had stranded the handcart companies was to also delay the valley supply wagons from reaching them. However, realizing the probable plight of the emigrants, Brigham Young issued a call for help. In his own words Eph relates his part in the rescue. Again, because this is such an important firsthand account of the rescue, as well as the only autobiographical account of his life, the narrative is included in this work.
In the fall of 1856, I spent considerable of my time fishing in Utah Lake; and in traveling backward and forward between that lake and Salt Lake City, I had occasion to stop once overnight with Gurney Brown, in Draper, about nineteen miles south of Salt Lake City. Being somewhat fatigued after the day's journey, I retired to rest quite early, and while I still lay wide awake in my bed I heard a voice calling me by name, and then saying: "The handcart people are in trouble and you are wanted; will you go and help them?" I turned instinctively in the direction from whence the voice came and beheld an ordinary sized man in the room. Without any hesitation I answered, "Yes, I will go if I am called." I then turned around to go to sleep, but had laid only a few minutes when the voice called a second time, repeating almost the same words as on the first occasion. My answer was the same as before. This was repeated a third time.
When I got up the next morning I says to Brother Brown, "The handcart people are in trouble, and I have promised to go out and help them;" but I did not tell him of my experiences during the night.
I now hastened to Salt Lake City, and arrived there on the Saturday, preceding the Sunday on which the call was made for volunteers to go out and help the last handcart companies in. When some of the brethren responded by explaining that they could get ready to start in a few days, I spoke at once saying, "I am ready now!" The next day I was wending my way eastward over the mountains with a light wagon all alone.
The terrific storm which caused the immigrants so much suffering and loss overtook me near the South Pass, where I stopped about three days with Reddick N. Allred, who had come out with provisions for the immigrants. The storm during these three days was simply awful. In all my travels in the Rocky Mountains both before and afterwards, I have seen no worse. When at length the snow ceased falling, it lay on the ground so deep that for many days it was impossible to move wagons through it.
Being deeply concerned about the possible fate of the immigrants, and feeling anxious to learn of their condition, I determined to start out on horseback to meet them; and for this purpose I secured a pack saddle and two animals (one to ride and one to pack), from Brother Allred, and began to make my way slowly through the snow alone. After traveling for some time I met Joseph A. Young and one of the Garr boys, two of the relief company, which had been sent from Salt Lake City to help the companies. They had met the immigrants and were now returning with important dispatches from the camps to the headquarters of the Church, reporting the awful condition of the companies.
In the meantime I continued my lonely journey, and the night after meeting Elders Young and Garr, I camped in the snow in the mountains. As I was preparing to make a bed in the snow with the few articles that my pack animal carried for me, I thought how comfortable a buffalo robe would be on such an occasion, and also how I could relish a little buffalo meat for supper, and before lying down for the night I was instinctively led to ask the Lord to send me a buffalo. Now, I am firm believer in the efficacy of prayer, for I have on many different occasions asked the Lord for blessings, which He in His mercy has bestowed on me. But when I, after praying as I did on that lonely night in the South Pass, looked around me and spied a buffalo bull within fifty yards of my camp, my surprise was complete. I had certainly not expected so immediate an answer to my prayer. However, I soon collected myself and was not at a loss to know what to do. Taking deliberate aim at the animal, my first shot brought him down; he made a few jumps only, and the rolled down into the very hollow where I was encamped. I was soon busily engaged in skinning my game, finishing which, I spread the hide on the snow and placed my bed upon it. I next prepared supper, eating tongue and other choice parts of the animal I had killed, to my heart's content. After this I enjoyed a refreshing night's sleep, while my horses were browsing on the sagebrush.
Early the next morning I was on my way again, and soon reached what is known as the Ice Springs Bench. There I happened upon a herd of buffalo, and killed a nice cow. I was impressed to do this, although I did not know why until a few hours later, but the thought occurred to my mind that the hand of the Lord was in it, as it was a rare thing to find buffalo herds around that place at this late part to the season. I skinned and dressed the cow; then cut up part of its meat in long strips and loaded my horses with it. Thereupon I resumed my journey, and traveled on till towards evening. I think the sun was about an hour high in the west when I spied something in the distance that looked like a black streak in the snow. As I got near to it, I perceived it moved; than I was satisfied that this was the long looked for Handcart Company, led by Captain Edward Martin. I reached the ill-fated train just as the immigrants were camping for the night. The sight that met my gaze as I entered their camp can never be erased from my memory. The starved forms and haggard countenances of the poor sufferers, as they moved about slowly, shivering with cold, to prepare their scanty evening meal was enough to touch the stoutest heart. When they saw me coming, they hailed me with joy inexpressible, and when they further beheld the supply of fresh meat I brought into camp, their gratitude knew no bounds. Flocking around me, one would say, "Oh, please, give me a small piece of meat;" another would exclaim, "My poor children are starving, do give me a little;" and children with tears in their eyes would call out, "Give me some, give me some," At first I tried to wait on them and handed out the meat as they called for it; but finally I told them to help themselves. Five minutes later both my horses had been released of their extra burden--the meat was all gone, and the next few hours found the people in camp busily engaged in cooking and eating it, with thankful hearts.
A prophecy had been made by one of the brethren that the company should feast on buffalo meat when their provisions might run short; my arrival in their camp, loaded with meat, was the beginning of the fulfillment of that prediction; but only the beginning, as I afterwards shot and killed a number of buffalo for them as we journeyed along.
Soon more relief companies were met and as fast as the baggage was transferred into the wagons, the handcarts were abandoned one after another, until none were left.
I remained with the immigrants until the last of Captain Martin's company arrived in Salt Lake City on the thirtieth day of November 1856.
I have but a little to say about the sufferings of Captain Martin's company before I joined it; but it had passed through terrible ordeals. Women and the larger children helped the men to pull the handcarts, and in crossing the frozen streams, they had to break the ice with their feet. In fording the Platte River, the largest stream they had to cross after the cold weather set in, the clothes of the immigrants were frozen stiff around their bodies before they could exchange them for others. This is supposed to have been the cause of the many deaths, which occurred soon afterwards. It has been stated on good authority that nineteen [scholars today place the number at fifteen] immigrants died one night. The survivors, who performed the last acts of kindness to those who perished, were not strong enough to dig the graves sufficient depth to preserve the bodies from the wild beasts, and wolves were actually seen tearing open the graves before the company was out of sight. Many of the survivors, in witnessing the terrible afflictions and loses, became at last almost stupefied or mentally dazed, and did not seem to realize the terrible condition they were in. The suffering from the lack of sufficient food also told on the people. When the first relief teams met the immigrants, there was only one day's quarter ration left in camp.169
When Eph found the helpless emigrants their food supply was nearly exhausted. A half dozen deaths were occurring diary due to the bitter cold and hunger. They had been without help for thirty-six days and even the strongest were beginning to lose hope.
In the Orme family history, Rebecca Orme, traveling with the Martin Company, recalls the rescue. After portraying a scene of starvation and death, wherein "those who were alive were too weak to dig graves for their dead comrades," she writes:
One day from the west came a dark spot moving towards the camp. As eagerly they watched, they saw it was a man leading a horse. On arriving he told them he had killed a big, fat buffalo and had put on all of the meat he could for them. All got a piece of meat. Just why that animal had not gone with the rest of its kind to winter quarters will never be known. The man was Ephraim Hanks, the advance man of a relief party sent by Brigham Young to meet them. The news cheered them up; they took on new hopes, but some days passed before the toiling rescuers reached them. Now they began to move on, but slowly; finally they reached Salt Lake City Nov. 9, 1856.
From an article in an early Church publication entitled, "An Incident in Handcart History," we read of Eph's meeting the emigrants:
Ephraim Hanks had ridden ahead of the relief teams from Salt Lake City, to locate the belated company, and cheer them up with the welcome news that assistance and provisions were close at hand; for their scant rations were insufficient to satisfy the pains of hunger.
"Eph" was a unique character. Lithe as an Indian, clad in buckskin from head to feet, the latter being encased in moccasins. He wore a broad brimmed light hat, thrown back in front, and with his light hair, and his face ruddy with health and exposure, he was a picture on which all eyes were riveted.
He came along, dragging by the bushy end, the tail of an ox that had been slaughtered. As he reached the fire he sprang on the end of one of the logs and swung the tail around over his head, and with a "Hoop! hoopla! hoopee!" let it go right into the fire between the logs. Then stepping from his perch he picked up a small limb, and mounted the log again. Facing the crowd he reached back for his knife and commenced whittling off the twigs from the small bough, and opened a conversation with his new acquaintances:
"Pretty darned cold o'nights now, boys"--whittling--"and none too warm `er the day time; never mind, perk up, them teams 'll soon reach yer, and they'll bring some flour and bacon with 'em, too;"--still whittling--"When them teams get here, we'll stack them blamed carts and just get for the valley. Yer see, yer ain't used to this kind er life. It don't hurt me, I'm kinder used to it. If I can only get my cayuse under shelter, I kin roll up in a buffalo skin, and sleep snug enuff; a strip of jerked beef will do me for days."
During this harangue which lasted from fifteen to twenty minutes, his hearers had forgotten all about the ox's tail, but not so with Brother Hanks. He had whittled all the twigs off the limb by this time, and had a pretty good stick, with which he began to poke in the fire. It did not take him long to locate the tail. He then whittled the end of the stick to a point, and sticking it into the fleshy part, brought it out smoking hot, no hair on it this time. Hanks then held it on the stick for a few minutes, chuckled and laughed, till it got cool enough to handle, then he took hold of it at both ends, and commenced his meal, tearing off pieces of that roasted tail with his teeth, with a relish which made all the onlookers smile, and forget their sorrows; and the sunlight of hope rested down upon their tired and weary souls, for a while, at least.
There is much praise due Ephraim Hanks and hundreds of other brave and forceful men, who in those hard and trying times, aided in establishing this inland empire, and did their best to loosen the little stone and start it rolling.170
Their strength and spirits being temporarily revived by the arrival of the supply wagons, the emigrants continued to Fort Bridger where they again ran low of provisions. Tom Dobson records how Eph managed to replenish their meat supply while there:
We had eaten our last food. It seemed we would starve. We made a fire and drew the carts around in a circle. One old lady had kept a bantam rooster, shared her rations with it and carried it in a box. It was her pet. After the fire was lighted Hanks said, "Granny, get your rooster and let him run around the fire to crow." The Indians had never seen a tame chicken, and this little bantam rooster was a great curiosity, The Indians finally brought their chief to see the rooster crowing with all his might as only a bantam can. Hanks finally traded the rooster to the Indians for two beef steers and two ponies. The steers were butchered. That night, tongues, livers, hearts, and brains made those starving emigrants a glorious dinner... Now I'm an old man and I wanted to tell you this because all who came through with that emigrant party owe their lives to Eph Hanks.171
Evidently, at least one other who was with the Martin Company credits Eph with saving many lives during the handcart ordeal. While at Fort Bridger on November 23, Josiah Rogerson, Sr. notes an especially difficult night:
Rather a pleasant day, though somewhat cloudy. Snowed again tonight, camped close to the stockade fort and log houses at Fort Bridger, Wyoming. The exceeding cold night at the Red Buttes, on the North Platte; Devil's Gate, on the Sweetwater and our housing up in Martin's Cove are carved in the memory of every living and surviving veteran today, but this was the "Black Friday" night of them all. The children moaned and cried the livelong night. It froze hard and the wind had a full sweep at us here, so much so that but very few of the adult members of our company could keep warm or get any sleep at all and about midnight, hearing the strains of a violin start up, we got out of our blankets and went to a fire a few paces from our tent and there, sure enough, was the daring and fearless express rider and mountaineer, Eph Hanks, with Lewis Robinson [Robison] surrounded by a score of the young boys of our company and worn-out aged and freezing veterans. Hanks and Robinson beat and kept time to the strains of the fiddle by clapping their hands and stamping their feet, while one of the valley teamsters (from Salt Lake) was cutting the "pigeon's wing" on the hind end gate of a wagon box. Possibly a little "valley-tan" may have been in one or two of their ankles, which was not out of place at all, for around the fire we were all freezing on one side and burning on the other.
Then on the following day, November 24, Rogerson recorded:
Made an early start for the Muddy, said to be some eighteen or twenty miles, and being piloted by the faithful Hanks onto a pretty dry ground, encircled by a forest of aspens and pine.172
Several notices of the rescue appeared in the Journal History of the Church shortly after the event.
While on the Sweetwater Eph Hanks was met one day. He had left his wagon behind him and came on alone on horseback and had managed to kill a buffalo. Some others of the relief parties, further this way, had come to the conclusion, that the rear companies of the emigration had perished in the snow but Eph was determined to go along, even though alone and see for himself.173
An editorial appearing shortly after the event in the Deseret News, the official Church publication, reads:
Br. Ephraim Hanks has put a feather in his cap through his noble conduct in aiding our belated immigration, he has unsheathed his sword upon the side of doing good, and I exhort him not to sheath it again.174
By the time the handcart emigrants, along with the relief wagons, reached Salt Lake City in November 30th, an estimated 222 deaths had occurred. In addition to these fatalities, scores of pioneers were crippled for life from frostbite and exposure.
Eph's success in attending the sick and dying handcart pioneers earned him the title of "Dr. Hanks."175 Because these healings have already been discussed at length in Chapter Five perhaps it will suffice here to quote historian Roberts in summarizing Eph's contribution:
Exteriorly Hanks was a rough mountaineer but at heart a gentle and sympathetic nature and a man with great faith in God withal; and many are the traditions of the effectiveness of his administrations among the sick and especially among the exhausted and frostbitten emigrants of these handcart companies.176
On the last page of Josiah Rogerson's daily journal that he kept throughout the wintery nightmare detailed above, he acknowledges the lifesaving assistance a small group of dedicated pioneers from the Salt Lake Valley gave. Eph is given special recognition.
Before closing I wish to mention the names of the heroes and hardy pioneers that were instrumental in saving one or two hundred of our lives and whose record for self sacrifice and courage is almost incomparable.
At the head of the list stands the late General R. T. Burton, George D. Grant Sr., and one of his sons named George D. Grant, Jr., then William H. Kimball, eldest son of the late Heber C. Kimball, and his younger brother, David P. Kimball; then the brave and generous Ephraim Hanks, who deserves the second place if not the first in the list.177
Eleven days after arriving with the handcart pioneers in Salt Lake City, Eph was again on his way back over the same route with a special mail delivery. Accompanied by Feramorz Little and outfitted with pack and saddle animals, he left the Mormon capital on December 11, 1856, and after an incredible trip of seventy-eight days through snow and mud, arrived in Independence, February 27.178
Upon arrival in Independence, the couriers soon learned that charges made by former disgruntled Utah Territorial appointees against the Mormons were creating a national stir in the east. Feeling an obligation to defend the Church from the allegations, Hanks and Little traveled to New York City where the influential newspapers of the nation were located. Their efforts to counter specific conspiracy and treason charges against the Church resulted in a letter addressed to the New York Herald, the first paragraph of which read:
Merchants Hotel, N.Y., April 15, 1857
Sir:--as Mr. E. K. Hanks and myself are the last persons who have come to the States from Great Salt Lake City, I deem it my duty to bear testimony against the lying scribblers who seem to be doing their utmost to stir up a bad feeling against the Utonians. We left our homes on the 11th of December, brought the last mail to the States and certainly should know the state of things there. The charges of Judge Drummond are false as he is corrupt.179
Returning to Independence to pick up several tons of mail that had accumulated for their return trip to the valley, the couriers were further alarmed upon meeting men who were there awaiting government contracts to outfit the Utah Expedition.180 Anxious to report what they had seen and heard, the mail carriers left the frontier town on June 1st, and with their heavily laden wagons hurried for home.
Although according to most accounts, Brigham Young first received news of the Utah Expedition on July 24, 1857, from Abraham O. Smoot, Porter Rockwell, and Judson Stoddard, who had interrupted an eastern trip to return to Utah with the war news,181 it is probable that he knew of the affair about one month earlier. Realizing the importance of warning the valley population of the Army's approach, Hanks and Little traveled to Salt Lake City in the amazing time of "inside twenty three days;" the shortest time on record.182 Having left Independence on June 1st, they arrived in Salt Lake City June 23, 183 a full month before Smoot and company. It seems highly improbable they would not have immediately discussed the eastern state of affairs with Brigham Young. It is also of interest to note that Smoot met the Utah bound couriers at Fort Laramie as he was traveling east, but it was not until he saw his first government supply wagon one hundred miles from Independence that he made a hasty retreat for home with the warning.184 Why did he not return to the valley with the couriers, providing, of course, that he was informed of the war news? And if he was not informed, why wasn't he? Did Smoot have to see the troops to believe they were coming? The answers, though unknown, do provoke interesting speculation. According to B. H. Roberts, after Smoot delivered his news to Brigham Young, who along with others, was celebrating the 24th of July in Big Cottonwood Canyon, "the peace and joyousness of the occasion was not disturbed.185 Then it was not until late afternoon when Daniel H. Wells mentioned the coming of the Army to those assembled. The rather tempered reaction might lend support to the idea that the war news may not have come as a complete shock to the Mormon leaders.
When Brigham Young ordered the Utah Militia into action against the approaching government troops, Eph was ready for his new assignment. As early as May 1851, he held the rank of sergeant in the Utah Militia at which time, along with Lot Smith, he was appointed color bearer in the lifeguards.186 Although he was soon promoted to lieutenant, one of his first assignments following that promotion in 1853 must have proved embarrassing to him. In that year Brigham Young sent Major James Fergeson with a force of militiamen, including "Lieutenant" Ephraim Hanks and William Hickman to Fort Bridger to ascertain if Jim Bridger was provoking the Indians to kill the Mormons as had been reported. Bridger, having been warned of their approach, wasn't there when the troops arrived. However, a renegade, Elisha Ryan, who was recognized as the chief of the organized band of desperadoes who was at that time beating up a war party to carry on his nefarious work of robbery,"187 was arrested and placed in the hands of Ephraim Hanks, William Hickman and several others for removal to Salt Lake City.188
Hickman reports that upon arrival at the Fort, they didn't find any weapons or ammunition as expected, but they did find a large supply of whiskey and rum which "was destroyed by doses."189
Before leaving for Salt Lake City, the escort filled their canteens with rum. Eph, who was in charge of the party, was also "full of rum,"190 according to Hickman, who continues to relate the adventure:
We intended to travel forty miles before we slept, but when night came on it was very dark. The canteens made things lively until we came to some brush, when the prisoner, Elisha Ryan, slipped off his horse, and in an instant was in the brush out of sight. We searched for him an hour or two and sent two of the party back to Fort Bridger, while Hanks and myself came on to the city and made our report.191
In a letter written to Fergeson, Daniel H. Wells remarked, "I am a little astonished at Ryan's escape."192
But now, four years later, the Utah militia faced what must have been their greatest challenge as they prepared to defend their homes against an invading army. Heeding the order of General Wells to "take no life, but destroy their trains, and stamped or drive away their animals, at every opportunity.193 Eph and others began a war of harassment. Regretfully, little is known of Eph's involvement in the campaign other than several unrelated incidents. On November 2, he joined Major Snow's command at Black's Fork with thirty-five mounted men.194 The next few days he spent reconnoitering troops with a force of twenty-five men and, on November 6, "Hanks came in with 75 head of cattle," taken from the army.195 Even though the author has found little reported material about his activities in the war, they were likely numerous and exciting, for Kimball writes:
Perhaps no subordinate military man connected with the `Mormon' Church, played a more prominent part of the so-called Echo Canyon War, during the winter of 1857-58, than did Elder Ephraim K. Hanks.196
During the campaign, he was a successful spy, ferreting out information from teamsters and soldiers alike. His fearless eavesdropping escapades evidently discouraged even some of his more hardy compatriots.197 One dark night he crawled so near to the army officers' tents that the cook unwittingly threw scraps from the general's table over him.198
Another similar incident is noted by N. C. Hanks:
A cook had a huge pot of coffee cooking on a campfire near a clump of willows. When it was ready to serve, Hanks cut a forked willow, hooked it into the bail of the coffee pot, and hoisted the coffee into the brush. It was served for the scouts' supper.199
In April 1858, Governor Cumming, who was camped with the Army at Camp Scott,200 was persuaded by Thomas L. Kane to visit Brigham Young in Salt Lake City for a peace conference. Little did these two dignitaries know that before reaching the Valley they would be safely protected in their journey by several of the most feared "Mormon desperadoes." John Kay records this little known incident:
...Accordingly, on the 5th April, they left Bridger with two carriages, and each a servant. They traveled about 15 miles, upset one of the carriages in the snow, and there stuck for the night. It so happened that William H. Kimball, Ephraim K. Hanks, Orrin P. Rockwell, Howard Egan and myself, with a few other good boys, were out scouting in that vicinity, and on the morning of the 6th April we took the governor and his small party under our protection and brought them safe to this place.201
Following the Utah War, Eph moved to a ranch located twelve miles east of Salt Lake City between Big and Little Mountains. He named it Mountain Dell. There he established a trading post and a stage station. It also eventually became a Pony Express shop. Eph's reputation for serving boiled badger and "Mountain Dell Cub" to unsuspecting stage passengers at his inn, was well known.202
According to N. C. Hanks it was also at Mountain Dell that Eph and a trapper friend challenged each other to the mountaineer game of "back out."203 Learning that a mother grizzly bear had been seen in a canyon nearby, the two frontiersmen followed her trail until it ended in a thicket. The contest was to kill the bear using only a knife. Eph's guest and his dogs had the first turn at subduing the animal, but in attempting to use his knife, he tussled with the bear at such close quarters she tore the shirt from his back. When Eph's turn came, he tied his hunting knife to the end of a long sapling. Then using his knife as a spear, with repeated thrust he succeeded in killing the animal while remaining at long range. After this encounter, the Ute Indians rechristened him "Queant," meaning bear.204
Mountain Dell was also the scene of an unpleasant experience for the controversial Governor of Utah Territory, John W. Dawson. Twenty-four days after his arrival in Salt Lake City he was secretly on his way out of the territory again after a turbulent stay. On the evening of December 31, 1862, he arrived at Mountain Dell. The following day Dimick B. Huntington, who viewed the episode, told the following account at the Church Historian's Office:
When Governor Dawson arrived at Eph Hanks and Wood Reynolds had changed the horses to go on, the governor came to get in, when Reynolds knocked him down. The governor run into the house with Reynolds following him and there beat Governor Dawson nearly to death and Reynolds left him in his gore. Reynolds, who was a teamster of Tom Collins, whipped Dawson because of his insult to Mrs. Williams and also for insulting the woman at Eph Hanks'.205
When business at Mountain Dell dropped off abruptly following the completion of the new road through Parley's Canyon, Eph moved to Parley's Park, now Park City, where he lived until the outbreak of the Black Hawk War in 1865.
On April 5, 1862, Eph married Thisbe Read, the young handcart girl whom he had nursed back to health on the Sweetwater five years before. At age seventeen she became his fourth and last wife, and the only one to live with him in his later life.206 Eph, who was now thirty-six years old was to father twelve children by Thisbe.
While living in the vicinity of what is now known as Park City, Eph discovered silver ore in 1870. He is thus credited with not only being the first to mine the precious metal in that area, but with being the father of Park City, as well. In a Utah newspaper published just after the turn of the century, we read:
Thirty-six years ago Ephraim Hanks was a farmer in the neighborhood of Coalville... He was tired of the routine of planting, and watering, and cultivating, and harvesting... So, on a spring day in 1870, he left the plow in the furrow and set his face toward the hills.
...Eph Hanks, farmer, was a farmer no longer. He was a prospector. He walked over into what is now Park City mining district and chipped a few chunks of rock off an outcropping. The stuff showed high values of silver and lead and Eph Hanks organized a company. The claim was called the Green Monster... At any rate Eph Hanks was the father of Park City. The success of the Green Monster was noised abroad and location followed location in rapid order. The McHenry, in the McHenry Canyon was the second in Park City district. Next in order came the Walker and Webster and the Pinyon.
The mine that made Park City famous, however, was not discovered until January 19, 1872.207
In 1877 Eph sold his Park City property when Brigham Young suggested he buy Lee's Ferry on the Colorado River and settle there. But the Church president died before he could make the move and Eph was advised by the new acting president of the church, John Taylor, to move to Grass Valley near Fish Lake, Utah.
Thus begins the final chapter of Eph's life; the only settled one he knew. At age fifty-one he was now content to be a rancher, an avocation which three decades before he had given up for more adventuresome life.