The Life Story of a pioneer Joseph Knight Rogers

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The inquisition over the remains was continued at 7 o’clock last evening from the afternoon. Two smelter men, who were on the car at the time of the accident, were examined as witnesses. Their testimony developed no material facts that had not already been presented by this paper.
W.T. Roscoe, a partner of the dead man, and the first witness, said that as they were nearing Pirttlebille, Mr. Rogers asked the motorman to stop the car at the curve and was told that he would not stop unless the conductor gave him the bell to stop. Mr. Rogers, he said, then went back in the car to ask the conductor to stop, but the latter was not wearing a uniform, therefore was not identified. Rogers was standing in the front door of the car. As the Pirttleville curve was reached, Roscoe testified, the car slowed down appreciably and then directly the speed was increased. Roscoe was beneath Rogers, standing on the step. As the car rounded the curve, Rogers was thrown out of the door, over him, or through him. Roscoe had a grip on the side of the car and was not thrown off, however he was brushed by the same pole that Rogers had fallen into. Witness thought the car was running at the speed of 35 miles an hour, but of that he was not certain. He said a bell had been rung to stop the car. He never saw the conductor after he paid his fare.
Mark Lamb testified that when the incident occurred, the car was going at a high rate of speed. He had not noticed that there had been a slack in the speed when the curve was reached. After the car had rounded the curve he became aware of the accident through someone saying that a man had fallen off the car. He went back when the car stopped and helped pick up Mr. Rogers. He had not noticed him on the car and did not know him. Witness was of the opinion the conductor was not uniformed, though he may have worn a cap.


Judge McDonald empanelled the following as a Coroner’s Jury: J.M. Sparks, H.C. Stultz, N.J. Carmichael, W.G. Green, and J.J. Rice.
At 2 o’clock this afternoon Judge McDonald conducted the jury to the undertaking parlor of W. de H. Washington, where the deceased was viewed. It was found that his head had been badly crushed from the contact with the trolley pole.
After viewing the remains, the jury repaired to the Justice Office where the testimony of the conductor and the motorman, who had charge of the car at the time of the accident, were taken.
H.P. DeGrange, the motorman, testified that he was in charge of the motor when Rogers fell from the car. It was his second trip and he had never been a motorman before Saturday. He said before reaching the curve in the track at the far end of Pirttleville, Mr. Rogers came up to his side and asked him to stop the car. He told Rogers to see the conductor, as he could stop only when the bell rang. Rogers went back into the car, but returned and said he could not find the conductor, and said he would ring the bell. I told him not to do it. He then stepped to the door of the car and I did not notice him again---did not see him fall or strike the post. The car was going pretty fast when it struck the curve, as Rogers talking to me, had attracted my attention and I got nearer the curve than I thought I was, before trying to slow up and then the rails were covered with frost.
E. Anderson, the conductor told about the same story as the motorman. He said Rogers had been in the habit of getting off at the curve, as the car always slowed up as it approached the curve. Rogers did not ask Anderson to stop the car. Anderson said Rogers was struck by the pole while he was yet on the car.
After taking the testimony, the jury decided it wanted to hear evidence from others who were on the car when the accident occurred and the inquest was adjourned until 7 o’clock in the evening.


We have heard much about all of the things Grandfather, Joseph Knight Rogers accomplished, but what was he really like as a person?
Well, first of all, let us describe him. We are told that he was about 6 feet tall and weighed between 180 to 200 pounds. One granddaughter remembers him as “tall, lanky, and bow-legged, and always wore boots.” He had dark brown, almost auburn, hair, which was straight. His whiskers were sandy, slightly reddish. Most of his adult life he wore a short, beaver-type beard, which was common in those days. (He would have been right in style today, would he not?) His skin was very fair and burned easily. His eyes were rather small, but were very blue---they were honest eyes, steady and direct. He was not considered a jolly person, although he did have a sense of humor. Usually he was so weighed down with cares and responsibilities that he seemed always to be weighing something of a serious nature.
It is generally agreed that in disposition Grandfather was kind and gentle and hated discord and dissention. My mother said, however, that he could be aggravated into anger on occasions especially if he encountered a balky horse or mule. At such times he would not curse or holler at the animals, as seems to be the usual form of correction, but would use a whip or a club, and sometimes would be more severe than seemed warranted, according to mother. He was never harsh with his family members, and seldom had to correct them with more than words.
Grandfather dressed as well as he could afford to do, and he believed in cleanliness of person and environment. He was always neat and clean in appearance, even if his clothes were often worn and a little shabby-looking. In this respect, he was not unlike most of his associates. Clothes were hard to come by in those early days. No one could have been called “a fashion plate” then.
All of these physical characteristics added up to a very good looking man as his early day, young man picture indicates. The picture most of us are familiar with, however, shows grandfather as a man old for his years. When I realize that I am in 1970 the same age as was grandfather at the time of his untimely death, and compare my lot with his, than I can understand why he looks so old, careworn and tired in his picture. I have only three children and live in comfort. Grandfather had three wives and 23 children (some died early) and lived in abject poverty. The picture of grandfather does not emerge as a happy, carefree individual. One gets the impression that he was s serious, overburdened, hard working but a very humble, sincere and faithful person. He must often have been discouraged, facing defeat, criticism, and despair, yet he was always able to carry on and remained obedient to his commitments. Only the Father in Heaven could have sustained him in his efforts.
Grandfather must have been a very resourceful person and ambitious to support his ever-growing family. Steady jobs in this area were scarce and it seems that supplies and necessities were often paid for through the exchange of labor rather than by paying cash. Often men (and women) had to leave the valley and go to near-by mining towns to seek work. He was away working at the time of his death. To the very end Grandfather was trying to support his obligations. There was no such thing as “welfare assistance” for needy families in those days. People were proud to “manage” from their own resourcefulness and, somehow, Grandfather managed to pay his bills. Some of his children were not very old when he died, but many of his wonderful qualities have been inherited and are evident in the lives of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren today, even though most of them never knew the man.
It is not known how much schooling grandfather had, but he did pick up a working knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic, as evidenced in account books and diaries he has left, some of which are still in existence. Since his family was “on the move” a great deal when he was growing up in Utah, his school attendance must often have been interrupted. Most of the schools he attended were probably on the order of “one room schools” as we know them today. He capitalized on his formal education through his own efforts. He loved to read and many family members have said that he liked to read his paper while eating a meal---at which time they all soon learned to “leave him alone.” This craving for knowledge and wanting to keep abreast of the times, and living a concerned, useful life in the community has extended to many of his descendants to the present day---a living memorial to his ambitions and ideals.
We do not know if grandfather had a “singing voice” or not, but we know that he must have enjoyed good music. His diaries mention songs that were sung at church events, and sometimes he quoted from a song. He mentions also plays and dramas and songs that were given by local groups in the early days of Pima and the Valley, which seemed to please him. He evidently had a good speaking voice, as many persons remembered that they like to hear him give the sermons, etc. in such a manner that they could really understand him.
Grandfather loved his family and left his testimony of this at the time of his trial in Tombstone, when he told the Judge and the Court that they could punish him how and as they pleased, but they could not alter the facts nor take this love of family from him.
Grandfather inspired confidence and was a natural leader in the communities in which he lived, in temporal and religious capacities alike. He took an active part in the building up of whatever community he lived in and represented his community in many different aspects when important decisions were to be made. His judgment and counseling were respected.
No doubt much more could be written about what Grandfather, Joseph Knight Rogers was really like, if one had known him in person. What has been written here, gathered from various sources, is sufficient to show that this man was HONEST, SINCERE, TRUTHFUL, FAITHFUL, DEPENDABLE, TRUE TO HIS HOME AND FAMILY, A PIONEER, A BUILDER OF COMMUNITIES, ENTERPRISING AND FAR-SEEING, INTERESTED IN HIS FELLOW MAN AND IN SERVICE TO HIS COMMUNITY, INSPIRER OF CONFIDENCES, TRUE TO HIS RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS, AND OBEDIENT, IMPLICITLY, TO THE LORD’S WORD.
By the world’s standards these attributes would qualify Grandfather Rogers as a “Man worthy of ranking with the great.” As his descendants we should remember and be grateful that, for us, his complete life was a LIVING TESTIMONY of his unshakable belief in all aspects of the RESTORED GOSPEL of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. THIS IS HIS PRESCIOUS LEGACY TO US.
Written by Helen Viola (Williams) Crandall

A granddaughter. 1970



  1. MASS., 1907 Mamassas Journal Reprint


  1. Kate B. Carter, A TREASURY OF PIONEER STORIES, submitted by Ethel J. Bennett

  1. Incomplete Autobiographies & Journals (ms) of;

Henry Clay Rogers

Ross Ransom Rogers

Joseph Knight Rogers

  1. Bancroft, Hubert How, HISTORY OF UTAH, San Francisco, Calif., 1889

  1. Carter, Kate B., HEART THROBS OF THE WEST, 12 Vols.

  1. Jensen, Marinus J., HISTORY OF PROVO, UTAH, 1924


David White Rogers

Ross Ransom Rogers

Charles Addison Rogers

Susanna (Rogers) Sangiovani, Pickett, Keats.

  1. Carter, Kate B., OUR PIONEER HERITAGE, vols 1-12

  1. Brooks, Melvin, R., LDS REFERENCE ENCYCLOPEDIA, 1909

  1. Jenson, Andrew CHURCH CHRONOLOGY, 1889

  1. LETTER FROM BRIGHAM YOUNG TO Glenwood United Order, 1875


  1. Weech, Hiram AUTOBIOGRAPHY in OUR PIONEER PARENTS, Lee Printing Co., Hollywood, Calif.

  1. Arizona Historical Review, 1929, FIRST PIONEERS IN THE GILA VALLEY, Mrs. C.A. Teeples.

  1. McClintock, James H., MORMON SETTLEMENT IN ARIZONA, 1921

  1. JOURNALS OF ARIZONA, State Capitol, Phoenix, Arizona 1881-2; 1896-7



Excerpts from LIFE STORIES OF LOUISA (Roseberry) ROGERS and BETSEY (Roseberry) LOVING

  1. Smith Family association, JOURNALS OF JESSE N. SMITH, 1953, Deseret

News Publishing Company.


  1. GRAHAM COUNTY GUARDIAN, Feb. 14, 1902; Dec. 21, 1906

  1. Cosby, Mary (Ballard) STORY OF J.K. ROGERS’ TRIAL, 1905 in Tombstone.

  1. Rogers, J.K. LETTER TO SON JAMES, 1906

  1. THE BISBEE DAILY REVIEW, Dec. 17-21. 1906



Numerous bits of information related to writer through

the years concerning J.K. Rogers, early settlement etc.

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