The Life Story of a pioneer Joseph Knight Rogers



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By this time Joseph Knight was thirteen years old and it is not known why he was not baptized when he became eight years of age. Church history tells that what is known as the “Reformation” was a great religious revival. President Brigham Young and other Latter-day Saint leaders felt the necessity for it on account of the “religious slothfulness: of many of the people. The movement began in the fall of 1856 with the re-baptism of the Presidency of the Church and the Twelve Apostles. The message was sent to all of the stakes, wards, missions and branches throughout the world. The people were called upon to repent of their sins and be re-baptized and renew their covenants of righteousness. On the whole the reformation resulted in a helpful religious awakening among the members of the church. It was at this time that all of the Saints in Utah rallied with supplies for the relief of two belated Handcart Companies of Immigrants, struggling across the plains. Although they, themselves were all short on rations, 20 wagons loaded with supplies set out from Salt Lake City to meet the 0n-coming immigrant trains. After their arrival in Salt Lake and the surrounding areas the Colonists took the travelers into their homes until other plans could be consummated.
While the people of Great Salt Lake Valley were celebrating Pioneer Day at Silver Lake at the head of Big Cottonwood Canyon in 1857, the news was brought to them by three dusty, travel-stained men, namely Abraham O. Smoot (second husband of Joseph Knight’s Aunt Caroline), Judson Stoddard and Orrin Porter Rockwell, who had come from the Missouri River, traveling almost day and night, that a U.S. Army was on its way to Utah. The news was startling, but was received with calmness. It appears that reports from the U.S. Judges and other Federal Officers, to the effect that the people in Utah were in rebellion against the government, had been credited as truth by President James Buchanan, without investigation, and an army had been sent to Utah to quell the reported insurrection.
Governor Brigham Young and other leaders knew of no just or adequate reason for sending an army to Utah. The persecution and mobbing of the Mormon people in Missouri and Illinois had not been forgotten, and they could but interpret the Utah expedition as a continuation of the outrages, this time at the hands of the Federal Government. The explanation the Government subsequently made, that the army had been sent to install the new Civil Authorities in Utah, simply did not occur to the people in Utah.
Governor Young placed the territory under martial law and instructed Lt. General Daniel H. Wells to make preparation for its defense. Orders were issued calling out the Nauvoo Legion, by which name the Utah Militia was known. Every defense and possible measures were taken and the Saints were ready to fight to the bitter end. Peace was restored through the mediation of Colonel Thomas L. Kane, a personal representative and an old time friend of the Mormon people. Governor Alfred Cumming, the new chief executive of the Territory, came to Salt Lake City and arrangements were made that the army should enter the Territory, but should not be stationed in immediate contact with the settlements.
Past experience, however, made Brigham Young and the Mormon people generally, rather skeptical as to the promises of the officials, and it was decided as a precautionary measure that the people of Great Salt Lake County and the northern part of the Territory should move south. The exodus involved some 30,000 people. A few men only were left behind to fire the houses in the event of the army’s encampment in the Great Salt Lake City or vicinity. The displaced Saints were taken care of in the homes of others in and around Provo and in temporary shelters built for the emergency.
On June 10th and 11th, 1857 President Young and other leading men of the Territory met with the U.S. Peace Commissioners in Great Salt Lake City and it was agreed that the Army would pass through the city but would not camp within 40 miles of the Capitol. After camping 3 days on the Jordan River the troops preceded 36 miles south to Cedar Valley, where they named their permanent camp, “Camp Floyd,” in honor of the Secretary of War. Not until the soldiers were settled did the Saints return to their own homes in northern Utah. The advent of the Army into Utah at this time did clear up many misconceptions and did disprove many lies concerning the Mormons so that, thereafter, their lot and progress was made somewhat easier. Johnston’s army brought money into the Territory, which was set into circulation through the purchase of supplies from the people. When the Army left, a large quantity of goods was sold off at low prices and the merchant purchasers were able to make fine profits, and the people in general were able to buy certain things they would never have had otherwise. This was to their advantage. Joseph’s diary continues: …..“1858-9. By permission we moved back to Provo, where we lived for about four years.”
During this time Joseph Knight, now 15 years old, worked at whatever he could find to do. Emigrants were arriving in great numbers, especially from overseas, and were locating in all areas that were being opened for colonization. This meant that land must be cleared for farming, lumber must be obtained for building, roads must be constructed, mining was opening up requiring laborers etc., so that there was probably no lack of work. The diary continues:
….. “In 1862, we moved out to Weber, Summit County, where my father took another wife. Cynthia Eldredge was her maiden name.” (The date of this marriage was actually 1-24-1863)
In regard to the plurality of wives, which some of the leaders in the early days of the Church practiced, we quote from LDS REFERENCE ENCYCLOPEDIA By Melvin R. Brooks: (10)
“There have been times when the Lord has commanded this practice. Abraham had heavenly communication with the lord, and without doubt, commanded to have more than one wife. The same was true with Jacob and other patriarchs. Joseph Smith was commanded as early as 1831 to practice this law. Eliza R. Snow writes concerning this matter: ‘He (Joseph) knew the voice of God---he knew the commandment of the Almighty to him was to go forward---to set the example and establish Celestial plural marriage. He knew that he had not only his own prejudices and pre-possessions to combat and to overcome, but those of the whole Christian world stared him in the face; but God, who is above all, had given the commandment, and He must be obeyed. Yet the Prophet hesitated and deferred from time to time, until an angel of God stood by him with a drawn sword, and told him that, unless he moved forward and established plural marriage, his Priesthood would be taken from him and he should be destroyed! This testimony he not only bore to my brother, but to others also---a testimony that cannot be gainsayed.’ (Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, pp. 69-70).
The Prophet finally, during the Nauvoo period in church history, instituted the practice. Many members of the Church were shocked and were probably not prepared to hear the doctrine. But those who prayed concerning the matter and received divine revelation, gained a testimony that it was of God.
Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the Church wrote: ‘Let every Saint know by unimpeachable testimony, as well as by the spirit of inspiration, to which each Saint is entitled, that God Almighty revealed this doctrine to Joseph the martyr, and that under God he was and is the founder, by precept and example of the same in the Church.’ (JENSEN, Historical Record, p. 220; the statement was also published in the Deseret News of May 20, 1886.)
The Reorganites claim that Brigham Young, not Joseph Smith, instituted plural marriage. However, affidavits are many that prove, without doubt, the fact that Joseph Smith, acting under the authority, and command of God, introduced the practice. (see JENSEN, Historical Record, pp. 220-234, for several pages of testimony and signed affidavits supporting the fact.)
The practice of plural marriage continued through the administrations of Brigham Young, John Taylor and partly through that of Wilford Woodruff. The latter, however, had it revealed to him by the Lord, that plural marriage was not required further of members of the Church. This was in 1890. MORMONS have not continued this practice since this date.
Evidently Ross Ransom and David White Rogers also believed in and accepted the practice of plural marriage as each had more than one wife. It should be explained here that only a small percentage of the members of the Church did marry more than one wife at a time, and these were usually the leaders. It must also be remembered that, at that time, there were no laws prohibiting more than one wife at a time, therefore those Saints who did adopt this principle were not then breaking any of the laws of the land in this respect.
Eleven children had been born to Ross Ransom Rogers and his first wife, Helen Moffett Curtis, nine of whom lived to maturity. He was to have sixteen by his second wife, Cynthia Eldredge, making a total of 27 children---a wonderful posterity. When this family moved to Weber County, Coalville was a very busy place, as this area was then supplying most of the coal needed by the northern counties of Utah. Work was plentiful for those needing it. The diary continues: ….. “In 1863, I drove a team to the Missouri River and back for Mr. Higet.” (Horton B. Haight)
Jensen’s CHURCH CHRONOLOGY states: “In May, 1863, 384 wagons, 488 men, 3,604 oxen, taking 239,969 pounds of flour, started east to assist the poor of the immigrations; 4,300 pounds of Utah-grown cotton was sent east for sale, by the teamsters.”
One of the nine wagon captains was Horton D. Haight, who hired Joseph Knight, now 19 years of age, as one of his drivers. This wagon train arrived back in Utah on 10-18-63, along with several others. This trip must have brought back many memories of his first trip when he was but 6 years of age. To continue with Joseph’s story; ….. “1865. By my father’s consent, I left home to do for myself. Lived with my Uncle, Aaron Daniels (Joseph’s Aunt Caroline’s first husband) that winter and went to Provo in the spring to live.”
By this time the settlements were being started in Northern Arizona on the Muddy River (now in Nevada) and goods were being hauled from Lower California, via this area, to Provo and Salt Lake. The Deseret News in 1885 related that the U.S. Government had spent $25,000 on road improvements between Utah and the Coast, and freighting by large companies as well as individuals was very important. In Provo, Joseph Knight became acquainted with George W. Bean, who was to become his future brother-in-law, and his diary says:
….. “1866. In the winter I went to Lower California for G.W. Bean. Drove a six-mule team. In the spring I was called as a soldier to guard the people of San Pete and Sevier Counties against the Indians, as Black Hawk and his band had made war on those counties. Was gone 80 days, furnishing myself all without pay, but the Lord blessed us.”
….. “In 1867 was again called out to protect the settlements as the Indians continued hostile. This year I was out over 100 days on the same conditions as the previous year. In the fall I was re-baptized by William Follett and was confirmed by Bishop Fansiett.”
Information from the Adjutant General Utah Territory Militia’s office, for the year 1866, states: (Utah State Historical Society) “This company was mustered into service at Provo City, May 1st, 1866, by order of Lieutenant General D.H. Wells, and on that day started for Sanpete County; arrived there at Manti May 4th, 1866, and was assigned to duty at Salina, in Sevier Valley; was assigned to duty again at Salina and vicinity, and on the tenth day of June, fought a severe battle for four hours with the Indians at Gravelly Ford; continued in active service until the expiration of the time above stated; (served 2 months and 19 days) returned and was mustered out at Provo City, July 18, 1866.” The record showed that Joseph Rogers had the rank of Private. His wages were to be $13.00 per month; $3.50 allowance for clothing $.40 per day for risk of horse and equipment. His total pay for the period was to have been $75.05. According to Joseph he never received this pay.
No account has been found to date concerning his enlistment for the following year. But needless to say, it was somewhat similar to the year 1866 according to his diary entry.
Historical accounts of Utah’s wars state that during the years 1865-68, the Indians in the counties of Southern Utah went on the war path and the Northern Counties were asked for assistance. The wiley and daring chief, Blackhawk, was the principle leader and gave his name to the war. The Indians would attack the ranchers in the outlying communities, killing people if they resisted and running off their livestock. During 1857, 2,500 men were under arms. It was estimated that about 40 whites and 50 Indians were killed and the settlers lost at least 2,500 head of stock. No one felt safe. Smaller settlements were abandoned and the people moved to better established communities for protection, often at great loss to themselves in homes, stock, and sometimes lives.
Bancroft (5) says that in July or August, 1857, Blackhawk, unattended by warriors, came with his family to the Uintah reservation and announced to Colonel Head that he wanted him to cut his hair as a sign of his abandonment of the warpath. Blackhawk’s action, however, did not bring peace. His sub chiefs continued making raids until August 19, 1868 when Superintendent Head succeeded in negotiating a treaty with them. There were still a few forays by the Navajos in Southern Utah until the summer of 1869. No organized warfare existed in Utah after that time.
The general re-baptism of church members, which Joseph Knight spoke of at this time, was again effected to encourage and strengthen the faith in the gospel principles in the face of Indian troubles, crop failures, and other discouragements. To continue with Joseph’s diary:
….. “In the winter of 1867-8, the young men of Provo were called to be ordained into an Elder’s Quorum, of which I availed myself, and was ordained under the hands of E. McDonald.”
….. “1868. In the fall I joined the 34th Quorum of Seventies and was ordained a seventy under the hands of the President of the said Quorum, D.W. Rogers, my grandfather. 1868-69---In the winter the railroad was built. I assisted a little.”
CHURCH CHRONOLOGY by Andrew Jensen states: (11)
“The great Pacific Railroad was complete through the Territory and a branch road was completed from Ogden to Salt Lake City on March 25th, 1869, the first company of Latter-day Saint Immigrants, who came all the way from the Missouri, arrived in Ogden by the U.P.R.R., in charge of Silas Morris.” What a contrast to the former arrivals and what progress since the first entry in 1847! Joseph continues his diary thusly:
….. “1869. On July 26th of this year I was married. The honored lady’s name is Josephine A. Wall. I commenced a house in Wasatch County at Wallsburg where I was called to act as a teacher of the ward.”
They were married in the old Endowment House at Salt Lake City. Joseph and Josephine had probably known each other from childhood days as the Rogers and Wall families were in Provo from 1851, and William Madison Wall and Ross Ransom Rogers often served together on town councils, grand juries, and other civic projects according to Utah History books.
From Bancroft’s HISTORY OF UTAH (5), we learn that the first settlement in the Wasatch County, which is south of Green River and Summit Counties, was made in 1862. This was at the present site of Wallsburg. The first settlers were William M. Wall (father-in-law to Joseph Knight) E. Garr and James Laird. Others soon followed and Wallsburg was organized into a ward in 1866. Situated for the most part at an elevation of 7,000 feet with heavy snowfall and prolific streams, this section of the territory was, and yet is, mainly used for stock-ranges, though in the north-western portion there is farming land of good quality. Wallsburg was named after William Madison Wall, and it was here that Joseph and his new bride started their life together. Their new found happiness was overshadowed somewhat by the death of Josephine’s father on 9-18-1869, just two months after their marriage, (Joseph’s diary says he died in 1870), Evidently Joseph and Josephine immediately became a part of the community affairs as records indicate. To continue with Joseph’s account;
….. “1870. I was appointed Superintendent of the Sunday School. In August my wife’s father died and was buried at Provo (correct date 1869). 22nd of September a happy event occurred that made me answer to the title of “father.” The cause was a daughter born to us.” This was Josephine Olivia, usually known as “Eva.” Again from the diary we read: ….. “1871. I assisted to build a sawmill in Wallsburg, which proved of great benefit to that place.”
No doubt all the experience he had had working with his father in other pioneering ventures around the State of Utah, paid good evidence as Joseph helped to develop this new area where he had chosen to live.
The diary continues: ….. “1872. My mother died on the 28th day of February (correct date is 2-27-71), and was buried on the 1st of March, north of Wanship, Summit County, at the old burying ground. In the fall there was a Quorum of the Priesthood at Wallsburg organized by our Bishop, called the “Mass Quorum” and I had the honor of being the president of the same during the time that I lived there. The teachers for the ward were nominated by the president and sanctioned by the Quorum, which worked very well and is still carried out the same.”
This is an interesting item concerning the appointment of Teachers and indicates the importance of the position that Joseph Knight held at that time in the affairs of the Church. At this time he received his first Patriarchal Blessing, given as follows:
“Wallsburg, Wasatch County, Utah, July 20, 1872---A Blessing given by John Smith, Patriarch, upon the head of Joseph K. Rogers, son of Ross Ransom Rogers and Helen Moffett Curtis, born Dec. 20, 1844, in Washington Township, Putnam County, State of Indiana.
“Brother Joseph, in the name of the Jesus of Nazareth, I place my hands upon thy head and pronounce and seal a blessing upon thee which, if thou art faithful, shall be a guide unto thee and a comfort in time of trial. Thou art of the House of Israel and the lineage of Ephraim and entitled to the blessings of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, with the gift of the Priesthood. Adhere strictly to the promptings of the monitor within thee, and thou shalt be warned of dangers, and the angel of they presence will ward off the shafts of the adversary which may be hurled at thee. Thy days and years shall be many and thou shalt walk in wisdom’s path and counsel thy seed in righteousness and exhort thy brethren to faithfulness, and shall travel much for the Gospel’s sake, and assist in gathering scattered Israel. And I say unto thee, be upon thy guard. Seek to know the will of the Lord and thy mind shall expand and thou shalt have the gift of healing the sick. Many shall seek thee for counsel and rejoice in thy teachings and shall gather of this worldly goods around all which shall be necessary in life, and thy name shall be handed down in honorable remembrance. Therefore I say unto you, be at rest in thy mind and let thy heart be comforted. Hold sacred thy covenants and all will be well with thee. This blessing I seal upon thy head, and I seal thee up unto eternal life, to come forth in the morning of the first Resurrection, with many of thy kindred and friends. Even so, Amen.” (This blessing is recorded in Book E.)
This blessing given at this particular time was to truly be a “guide” for Joseph Knight as subsequent events have shown. His diary continues: ….. “1873. On the 16th of January we had a son born to us which gave me great joy. This year I fenced me a farm and raised a good crop of small grain.”
This son was Joseph William, who was to live but 2 years.
The diary continues: ….. “1874. I, in company with my brother, Millard Rogers, went down on the Sevier (River) to look for some land. Our intentions were to get land sufficient so that we could induce our Brothers around us; hoping to establish a band of union that would be lasting and that we would work to each other’s interest and build and live together. We made a deal for 40 acres with a prospect for more, at a place called Prattville, in honor of Bishop Helaman Pratt, son of P. P. Pratt. Went home calculating to come down again in the spring, which we did, and worked about two weeks on the dam to secure it against high water. About this time (April 28, 1874) one of the greatest principles that was ever introduced to men, for their guidance, both spiritually and temporally, from Heaven, was introduced by our Prophet and Seer, Brigham Young, viz: The United Order Of Zion. It is destined to ultimately grow into the Order of Enoch, and my opinion and belief was and still is (after 3 years of experience), that it will circumscribe all other principles that has yet been given for the exaltation of mankind. We joined the order at Prattsville with our Brethren. Worked two weeks and then returned home to fill a contract previously made, viz: to haul logs to my father’s sawmill, which is up Chalck Creek Canyon, (near Manti) which we did and then moved to Prattville, in the fall and turned all of the property that we had into the Order, amounting to nearly $2,000 dollars. This winter my brother, Millard, was sent to St. George by the Order. In December of this year I was elected one of the directors of the Order. Also was appointed, by the Board, foreman of all labor and business agent, which position I filled to the best of my knowledge and ability for about 16 months.”
CHURCH CHRONOLOGY By Jensen, (11) regarding the United Order, says: “Mar. 17, 1874---the 44th Annual Conference of the Church was commenced in Salt Lake City. The principal subject dwelt on by the speakers was “The United Order,” which was organized with Brigham Young as president. This was considered an “uplift” movement, designed to “unite the people, to draw them nearer to God, and to eradicate from the people the spirit of covetousness and selfishness.”
The LDS REFERENCE ENCYCLOPEDIA (10) by Brooks says: “This Order of Enoch is sometimes referred to as “The Law of Stewardships,” and also called “The Law of Consecration.” This law was first given to the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, in February, 1831, by revelation, (D&C 42:30-34) The first attempt to establish this order was a Thompson, Ohio, May, 1831, by the Saints from the Colesville Branch, in New York. However, the Ohio community did not get completely organized before they left for Missouri, where the center stake of Zion was to be established. The second attempt was made in Missouri. Persecution entered upon the scene and frustrated the success of the “Law.” From 1821-34 the “Law” was practiced in Ohio and Missouri but because of economic, political, and human elements, the attempts failed to realize a great deal of success. The United Order was a modification of the Law of Consecration. The basic difference between the United Order and the Law of Consecration is that in the former, herds, properties etc., were held in common and worked by the community. In the latter, it was more a matter of individual industry---that is, each individual took care of his own stewardship. The United Order was instituted by Brigham Young during the winter of 1874, but by 1882, most communities practicing the Order abandoned the project, but President John Taylor issued the following statement: “Our relations with the world and our own imperfections prevent the establishment, and therefore, as Joseph stated in an early day, it cannot yet be carried out.” (Stewart, et. al, PRIESTHOOD AND CHURCH WELFARE, p. 129). Joseph’s diary continues:
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