The Life Story of a pioneer Joseph Knight Rogers



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….. “1875. One of the saddest events of my life occurred on 25th of March. The loss of my son, William, or Joseph William, who was two years and 2 months old. Was buried at Richfield, west of town, near H. & T. Pratt’s children’s graves.” The cause of the child’s death was not given. The diary continues:
….. “1876. Several of the Brethren, having drawn from the Order in consequence of our crops being a failure, or nearly so, and the depreciation in our capital stock 33 percent, we Brethren that remained true to our covenants thought it best tat we join the Richfield Order which we did in the month of March. Late in the fall previous, I was appoint Bishop of Prattville, and was ordained a High Priest by Bishop A. K. Thurber. In the summer of 1875 there was a general baptizing of the people to observe the rules of the United Order. I was baptized by J. A. Young and confirmed by William Seegmiller, July 1st.”
About this time the Directors of this movement in the Sevier District must have written the General Authorities regarding how they were doing and asking for advice and counsel because Brigham Young wrote them a very complimentary letter, commending them on their accomplishments and discouraging any change in their implementation of the project. This letter was dated Oct. 13, 1875 and signed by Brigham Young. Joseph Knight cherished this letter and kept it through all the years of his life. (12) CHURCH CHRONOLOGY by Jenson, dated Monday 8, 1875 states: “The Saints who had settled near the Sevier River, between Richfield and Glenwood, Sevier County, Utah, were organized into the Prattville Ward, with Joseph K. Rogers as Bishop.”
THE CHURCH HISTORIAN’S OFFICE adds this: “At a priesthood meeting held at Richfield the 23rd of October, 1875, Joseph K. Rogers was ordained a High Priest. He was set apart as Bishop of Prattville by Albert K. Thurber, on 8 Nov 1875, which position he held until he was released on 5th February, 1877. He organized the Relief Society 5th March 1875. (Prattville was a small settlement on the east bank of the Sevier River) It was disorganized sometime in 1900.”
On October 14, 1875 before leaving Prattville a baby daughter, Nancy May, was born to Joseph and Josephine. Continuing the diary:
….. “1876. In the fall I moved to Glenwood and joined the Order of that place.”
In the spring of this year Joseph received his second Patriarchal Blessing, given as follows:
“Prattville, Sevier County, Utah, March 15, 1976---a Blessing given by William M. McBride, Patriarch, upon the head of Joseph Knight Rogers, son of Ross R. and Helen M. Curtis. Born on the 20th of December, 1844, in the State of Indiana, Putnam County, Washington Township.
“Brother Joseph, in the name of the Lord, Jesus, I place my hands upon thy head and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, I pronounce and seal upon thee a Patriarchal Blessing. I say unto you, be of good faith for thou art numbered among the House of Israel. Thy lineage is in Joseph, through the loins of Ephraim, and thou art entitled to the blessings of the house of Jacob, and to the new and everlasting Covenants. Thy calling is to labor in and for the Redemption of Zion, and to have a care for the people of Israel. Thou mayest be called to travel and gather up the remnants of the sons and daughters of Jacob, and to teach them and to comfort them in the straight and narrow path, and administer unto them the Ordinances that will produce their salvation. And thou shalt teach them the fullness of the everlasting gospel and the ways of life. Thou shalt also prepare them and administer unto them in the Temple of the Lord, the ordinances for their dead. And thou shalt have many companions and a numerous posterity. Thou shalt receive a crown of eternal lives and a part in the morning of the first Resurrection. And, according to thy faith, I seal this Blessing upon thy head in the name of Jesus, Amen.” A. Heppler, Clerk. (Blessing recorded in Book A. p. 92)
His two patriarchal blessings seems to have been guide posts for Joseph’s later life to follow. His diary resumes:
….. “1877. I was elected one of the ten directors of the Order at Glenwood, for the term of one year. Had charge of the boys that worked in the mountain.”
In order to better understand Joseph Knight’s complete belief in this principle an account of “The United Order of Glenwood,” as given by John E. Heppler, is copied verbatim from HEART THROBS OF THE WEST by Kate B. Carter, Vol. 1, pp. 58-60. (6)
“The United Order, properly lived, purifies every man and men really should be “a real brotherhood.” This adventure was successful and brought the greatest degree of happiness that people had ever known through their entire lives. They stood on equal ground; they had a voice in all that transpired and every man was granted the right to express himself and his advice was taken into consideration.
It was a common adventure and entered into willingly without coercion from anyone. Men placed their land, cattle, sheep, and machinery into the Order. A president, vice presidents, secretary and treasurer and a board of directors were selected and voted on by the people.
As products of the soil became man’s first need, these people of Glenwood turned their first attention to agriculture. The land best suited to the raising of grain was planted with wheat, oats, barley etc., and a foreman was appointed to oversee the project. Jens Peterson was foreman at Glenwood’s wheat field. Men who were adapted to farming helped him; also, boys and youths came to his aid whenever needed. In the winter Mr. Peterson and his crew distributed mill products to the homes, thus being employed the year round.
The cattle of the Order was under the care of Beason Lewis, who run them in the mountains around Glenwood. He was assisted by the men and boys who wanted to become cattlemen or cowboys or who had a desire for this kind of work. As men are happiest when employed in work they like to do, this phase of the United Order made for a contented life. Among the men who cared for the cattle were Bill Simpson and Archie Buchanan.
The cattle and sheep supervisors had the responsibility of supplying the butcher shops with fresh meat, which was always the very best. Their surplus cattle was shipped and the money received used for the building of the town and strengthening the Order.
Supervisors were over the hay, corn, sugar-cane and all agriculture products, and they called for labor as they needed it.
The story of their mills is outstanding. About two miles from Glenwood was a spring that made a fall of about 400 feet, which these pioneers utilized for manufacturing. First on the fall came the sawmill, where lumber, shingles, and laths were manufactured in the summer. Among the men who worked at the sawmill was Joseph Rogers and the young men of the Order. In the winter the same power was used to run the woolen mills where the wool was spun into cloth. Further down the stream came the grist mill. Joseph Wall and a Mr. Schimons had charge of this mill. Then came the tannery, where fine shoes, harnesses and sole leather were manufactured. They also tanned hides, using the red pine bark for the tanning liquid. Then came the lumber finishing mill for the building of furniture etc. This was supervised by a man of the name of Jackson. The molasses mill was the next along the stream, followed by the blacksmith shop and other smaller industries. Each man had the opportunity to choose the kind of work he liked. Some worked in the co-op store; others tended the bees; some chose to work in the barrell factory and the shoe shop, and the result was a contented people.
Each man received the same rate of pay per day, whether his work was professional or common labor. An active time-keeper was allotted to each supervisor and the men received an order, signed by the bishop or the president of the Order, which was redeemed at the store, butcher shop, the bishop’s storehouse, or used in trade with people of the Order. At the end of the year, those who had drawn more than their share were forgiven their debts, but if they had a surplus due them they likewise had to forget it as the New Year must start with the books clear.
Every family in Glenwood was given an inheritance of one acre with a home on it, built by the public works committee. They had a water right to this acre. While homes were built of the same material, every family had the right to say how their home should be constructed. The size of the family was also taken into consideration. Each family had its own garden, kept a cow, chickens and a pig. Suitable out-buildings were erected by the building committee. In harvest time the barns were filled with feed for the livestock. In the fall the young men were sent to repair the cellars in order that a proper place be ready for the storage of winter vegetables and fruits. Each family must keep its own cellar. This planning or civic committee built and repaired streets, walks, fences and ditches.
Another interesting phase of life in the community of Glenwood gives the story of how in the month of April the young men went to Fish Lake to fish for trout. It was a real excursion and the result was there was always plenty of trout. The surplus was salted down for winter use. The same plan was carried out when the men hunted deer in the fall of the year. A trip to the mountains meant fresh meat for the entire group of the Order.
The Order maintained a cow herd, a dairy, a shoe shop and a carpenter shop, where all their furniture was made.
The method of handling boys in Glenwood was ideal. The boys would all be given employment according to their ages. Boys from eight to fifteen spent their time in the fields, making ditches, pulling weeds and odd jobs at the mills. Mr. Heppler recalls that George Powell was over-seer of the boys. He played and worked with them. He enjoyed going to the swimming hole with them and entertaining them with early pioneer stories, and they, in turn, were eager to please him when the working hour came. They received credits in the Order and all of them had enough credits to have a start in life. When they wanted to get married, they had no worries. They were secure. (Would that this was working today!)
A free school was maintained in Glenwood and the children were urged to take advantage of it. Among the teachers might be mentioned Peter Graves. Louise Heppler and Henrietta Pierson. On the school grounds swings were erected. All work stopped Saturday noon when the weather would permit it, and games of baseball and other amusements were held. A general dance was conducted nearly every Friday night, and they had their own dramatic company which gave excellent plays.
They did not have a common kitchen and dining room; each home maintained its own, drawing their food from a general fund. But a great deal of food, such as flour, vegetables, etc., were brought to the door of every home. In all, it was a happy life. The feeling of security in every home, the good spirit of friendliness among the people, the knowledge that they stood on common ground, all helped to make them fell contented.
But there came a time when their property rights were jeopardized by the government raids upon those living in polygamy, and jealousy from those who did not belong to the Order. All this helped to bring about a desire to dissolve. They sold their rights in the Order and the Order of Enoch in Glenwood passed. Many members shed tears as they felt that these had been their happiest days and years.”
(Wouldn’t this world be a different place today if this way of life could have been a part of everyone’s life-pattern and doesn’t it seem that certain groups of peoples today appear to be seeking something similar, even though not divinely inspired or directed?) To continue Joseph’s diary:

….. “1877. On the 30th of October, Sunday, at half-past ten A.M., a fine baby daughter was born to us. Weighed 10 ½ pounds.” This was Helen Viola. She was born at Glenwood, Sevier County, Utah.


At the break-up of the Glenwood United Order, Joseph Knight and his family returned to Wallsburg to bid goodbye to families and friends, as they had decided to answer the call with others to help settle Arizona. His father, Ross Ransom, and his Uncle, Henry Clay Rogers, had gone to the Phoenix area two years previously. Joseph Knight’s daughter Helen Viola, always remembered her family saying she was just one year old to the very day when they left Wallsburg heading for Arizona.
They had all gathered at the John Nuttall home for a last dinner together. The women commented on the fact that little Helen Viola would not learn to walk for quite awhile as she would be riding so much in the wagons, when the child stood up and walked completely across the room. This made them all laugh and the parting less sad. The date was October 30, 1878.
We have no written, first-hand account describing exactly the route Joseph Knight took when he left Utah; what he took in the way of cattle, horses, household goods etc., nor who might have accompanied him or joined him along the way. Usually two or more families traveled together for the sake of safety as well as companionship. It is reasonable to suppose, however, that he went south from Wallsburg to Kanab by the route he was already familiar with, having lived rather close to Kanab at one time. From there he no doubt followed the same route that earlier pioneers to Northern Arizona had used. They usually entered Arizona soon after leaving Kanab, Utah and after ascending the Buckskin Mountains arrived at Houserock Springs. After resting here the road then led to Lee’s Ferry on the Big Colorado River to the east. Here the travelers and wagon were ferried across the river while the horses and cattle swam across with encouragement. This ferry located 18 miles south of the Utah-Arizona live was originally operated by John D. Lee of Mountain Meadows Massacre fame, hence its name. It was established in 1872 at the mouth of the Paria (Pareah) River and had by 1879 become a major link in the highway from Utah into Arizona. It provided the only known wagon crossing of the Colorado at that time, according to HOLE IN THE ROCK by Miller, p. 30.
Going out south-east from the river they climbed what was called “Lee’s Backbone” (again so named for John D. Lee), a very steep and dangerous climb. Then continuing mostly in a southerly direction and never too far from the Little Colorado River, whose course more or less determined their route, they passed Navajo Springs, Bitter Springs, Limestone Tanks, and Willow Springs, stopping for night camp wherever most feasible. Somewhere between Willow Springs and Black Falls it was necessary to cross the Little Colorado River. This crossing was always dangerous due to the River’s quicksand beds. Often their stock and wagons would get mired down. Some were not recoverable. The next stops in succession were to the different Mormon colonies in the process of settlement. They were Brigham City, now Winslow; Sunset City (no longer in existence); Obed, now Joseph City; Holbrook, Woodruff, Snowflake, Taylor and Showlow.
At all of these places the people were organized under the plan of the United Order. Some were getting very discouraged due to various reasons and were thinking of moving elsewhere themselves.
Rather than stopping at any of these little Colonies, the Joseph Knight Rogers family must have decided to push on in a southeasterly direction until they would find something more to their liking. We find them in January, 1879 at a place called “Cooley’s Ranch,” southeast of present day Taylor near Showlow. Hyrum Weech, who was in this same area at this time, writes in his diary: (14) “A Mr. Flake had bought the Stinson Ranch and people were colonizing there and higher up Silver Creek. We decided to go there and see the country. Arriving there, we decided to go on into the pine forests on Showlow Creek. We passed through some nice, timbered, country and camped about 5 miles below Cooley’s Ranch on the Showlow. The East family from Salt Lake City, George Larsen and Joseph Roseberry were camped near by. There were quite a number of families from Utah camped at Mr. Cooley’s ranch. He was interpreter and scout for the Government and had two Apache women for his wives. He had a nice farm and a number of Indians working for him. He had a nice farm and a number of Indians working for him. He also hired a number of the campers to cut posts and poles and to fence his farm. William R. Teeples was among the campers and J. K. Rogers, Rubin Allred, Moses and Alfred Cluff, Thomas and William Ransom, and many others. There were quite a number of families who were settling at Forest Dale; P.H. McBride, J. H. Nuttal, Ted Adams and many others. We visited the camp at Cooley’s and learned that a party from the camp had been over to the Gila River. All of the party except William R. Teeples gave a very bad account of the country. Mr. Teeples liked it. We were not satisfied with the country where and wished to go see the Gila River country. Mr. Teeples said that if another party wanted to go over he would go again. Consequently 4 men, namely, Hyrum Weech, John W. Tanner, Ben Pearce and William R. Teeples, did return to the Gila River Country. And selected an area for settlement, on the south side of the river (now called Pima). Here, using only a pocket compass, they staked out and laid claim to sixteen quarter sections of land by placing logs in a square on each quarter, and then reported back to the campers a Cooley’s Ranch.
For the story of the trip from Showlow to their new home we quote from THE FIRST PIONEERS OF THE GILA VALLEY by Mrs. C. A. Teeples (wife of William R. Teeples) taken from the “Arizona Historical Review” for January, 1929, Vol. 1, No. 4: 15 “Those who were favorably impressed (with the Gila River selection) went to Jesse N. Smith, who was then president of the Snowflake Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Snowflake, and reported the conditions and their desires, and asked his advice in regard to colonizing the valley of the Gila. President Smith told the men he would go to Showlow where their camp was located and organize their colony. He knew of the unrest among the colonizers already in that area, and that many of them wanted a change.
Accordingly, a meeting was held and a branch organized with Joseph K. Rogers as presiding elder, William R. Teeples as First counselor, Henry D. Dall as second counselor, and Hyrum Weech as secretary. These leaders were instructed to “obey counsel” and they would get along alright. The little Colony then made rapid preparations for their journey. They moved their camp to Corduroy Creek where all that wanted to go could gather their loose stock and teams and make other necessary preparations. This was in March, 1879. The following families comprised the little colony: Joseph K. Rogers, his wife and three children; William R. Teeples, his two wives and their 9 children; William R. Thompson, his wife and one child; John Earlton Haws, his wife and two children; Tom and John Sessions (single men); Benjamin Pearce (also single) and Brother Henry D. Dall and Hyrum Weech, who came without their wives making 29 persons in all.
On March 17, 1879 the group broke camp and started for the Gila to make their new homes. The men and women drove the teams, while the boys drove the loose cattle, taking turns. The road to Ft. Apache was fairly good. There the company replenished their supplies. When the officers of the fort heard of their destination they asked for the names of every member of the company, and asked to be informed of any troubles they might encounter with the Indians. They then continued their journey and encountered some very bad roads, some more like trails than roads. They went up a hill called “Seven-mile Hill” where they worked to clear large boulders out of the way. It was so steep they had to hitch nearly all of the teams they had to each wagon, pulling one at a time to the top. In descending the grade, it was necessary to lock each wheel on the wagon and tie a log behind it to keep it form running over the horses. It took all day to get all the wagons over the hill. They camped that night on Turkey Creek. From there they went over a high table-land to Black River which they crossed without any serious trouble. From there to the head of Rocky Canyon it was steep and very rocky. This canyon opened into a high valley, which was covered with grass. There was a small stream of water with many ash trees from which the creek took its name of Ash Creek. They followed this stream for a short distance, then turned south, went over rolling hills and up swales to the top of a lower range of mountains called the Gila Range, which formed the north side of the Gila Valley.
From this point the travelers could look for miles up and down the valley below. The Gila River ran through it in a zigzag line with its banks lined with cottonwood trees. Groves of mesquite trees dotted the valley. Mount Turnball on the opposite side of the valley and Mt. Graham to the southeast with its sides and top covered with forests and its high peak covered with snow made a beautiful landscape. All of this little band of people felt that in this beautiful valley there was room for thousands to make their homes and live happily.
Descending from this range the first hill was called Green’s Hill. After traveling down this hill for about 12 miles they crossed the river and traveled upstream going east for several miles where they made camp. They rested for the next day so the sore-footed oxen, cows, and young stock might rest. The day following this they continued to travel up the river to a short distance above Fort Thomas before camping. The following day’s travel brought them to the site that had previously been selected to make their homes. This was the 8th day of April. 1879. They found that the markings made earlier had not been disturbed. The first thing they did was to burn the tall grass in the immediate vicinity to drive off the snakes and insects.
The following Sunday they all met to give thanks to their Heavenly Father for his protection while traveling and for their safe arrival, and asked him to bless their efforts to build homes, make canals, and redeem the land so that it might sustain them. A dedicatory prayer was offered dedicating the land for the gathering of the Saints.
Tents were pitched and a town site laid out into lots, and the men drew tickets for their lots, which had been numbered. Each man went on his lot and went to work immediately to improve it. They cut cottonwood logs from the river’s banks to build their homes and exchanged work in building them. The first house finished was for Joseph Knight Rogers’ family. It had a combination roof of willows, tall rush grass, and then finer grass mixed with clay and mud, and, lastly, dry earth was put on to keep out the rain. Mr. Teeples was the first to have a house built with windows, doors and floors. This one was built with two rooms having a shed between. This was because he had the largest family.
The river water was not considered healthful so they quickly dug a public well and all used water from this well, which was directly in front of the Joseph K. Rogers’ home. The water barrels were hauled on “lizards’, which were made of a forked tree with a stake at the back to keep the barrel from slipping. The tracks made by this contraption were called “lizard trails.” As there were thick growths of mesquite all about, visitors wanting to find a certain family camp were told to follow a certain lizard trail.
A public corral was built where the cows and other stock were kept at night. All went there to milk their cows at night. During the day all stock was turned out to forage, the children herding them to keep them from straying too far away.
Sunday School and Sacrament meetings were at first held in the Rogers’ and Teeples’ homes, although even these were not completed at the time. As others began to arrive in quick succession, it was obvious that a meetinghouse was needed, therefore a day was appointed to get and prepare logs for the building of the same. When completed this building served as the first meetinghouse as well as a schoolhouse.
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