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The Life of Henry Morgan Perry
By David Ririe

Henry Morgan Perry was born on the third of December 1856 in Three Mile Creek, Boxelder County, Utah. Considering that it had only been nine years since the Prophet Brigham Young led the Saints into the Salt lake Valley, the conditions at the time of his birth must have been austere, indeed. His parents, Henry Elisha Perry and Elizabeth Zabriskie were truly pioneers, having been born in New York and Indiana, respectively. Three Mile Creek was later named Perry, after the Perry family who pioneered the area and established themselves on farms in that community. Henry was the third child and the eldest son in the family and one can logically assume that he was introduced into the hard work of pioneer rural life at a very tender age. He was twenty-one years old when his father died and he became head of the family. It was written that he never faltered in his labors to sustain his mother, younger brothers and sisters until they became old enough to sustain themselves.

He married Fanny Young in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on the twenty-fourth of February 1881. In 1885 he emigrated with his wife and three children to Rudy in what was then Fremont County, Idaho.

For the rest of the account of his life, the writer is indebted to Albert Perry, his son who chronicled interesting events of his life in a book entitled, “They Come,” which was published in 1955.

Albert Perry wrote that when the other boys in the family became large enough to take over the farm, Henry who had married the sweetest girl in town, decided to remove to Idaho, a new country which he had visited and there taken up a homesteader claim upon which he had built a cabin, a shed, and a corral. He loaded the three very small children, his good wife, and all of their belongings in a wagon pulled by two mules named Jack and Bobby and amid the well wishes of family and friends headed for his new home. His purpose for moving was to escape the life of poverty and hard toil that he felt would be his lot if he remained in Perry.

The journey to Idaho was long and arduous. The mules grazed the late spring grass as they passed on a route that led them first to Brigham City where a storekeeper friend gave them supplies to augment the store of goods that he had accumulated for the trip. The next stop was at a mountain community, Mantua, where Fanny had taught school for two terms. Traveling through Cache Valley they crossed over into Idaho where the country was very unsettled at that time. They reached the Portneuf River and wended their way along it, sometimes going very slowly because of marshy lands and sandy sections near the river bottoms. In May they camped for two days on the Portneuf to rest. It didn’t sounds very restful for Grandmother who tended children, cooked meals, and did laundry in the river. At that time Pocatello was a town so small that it was said that when the train stopped both ends of it were beyond the town limits. The next waterway they traveled along was the Snake River with its sand, dust and cobble rocks. One day it snowed and the frozen dirt and soil had to be knocked off of the wheels and even the mules feet so they could proceed. Still they kept going.

Eagle Rock which is now Idaho Falls must have seemed like heaven to them after the hard trip. While there, Henry asked Fanny if she would mind if he went to town. She agreed provided he didn’t take too long. The following is a direct quote from Albert Perry’s book:

“Dad wanted to especially see the Federal Land agent and ask him some questions about the place. He found him in a saloon. There were men in there drinking and cursing and swearing. As soon as the business was over he arose, shook hands with the men he knew, and started to leave. Just then the bartender called, “Hey you, come here.” Dad went back. The bartender led him to a corner and motioned to him to sit down then he spoke: “I noticed you when you came in. You have been here half an hour. I didn’t see you take a drink. I didn’t hear you curse or swear. Young man, I want to shake hands with you.”

After a few minutes of friendly conversation, (they were good friends for years after that) Dad looked up and said: “I am not as old as you, but my association with people has taught me this: If a man professes a religion and lives up to that religion as best he can, the Lord will help him out. If he professes no religion and doesn’t try to live up to anything, the devil will help him out. But if he professes some religion and does not try to live up to it, the Lord doesn’t want him and the devil is disgusted and neither one will help him out.”

After Dad had been gone awhile, the bartender stood thoughtfully. He reached up and scratched his head, stroked his whispered chin, and murmured, “By ____, I’ll bet there is a man who lives his religion.”

The first house was made of logs laid on top of each other with small pieces of split cottonwood used as chinking to fill in the spaces between the logs. These were plastered over with mud. The sloping roof was constructed of small poles laid side by side and covered with dry grass, which in turn was covered over with soil. The floor was leveled dirt. The cabin size was about 14 by 14 feet with one door and two small windows. In it there was a bed where they slept with the baby between them and Maude, 3 years, at the end of the bed. Harry who was five slept on a box in a corner. There was a stove and a wood-box and a home made table. At this pioneer time few families had the luxuries of a fine home and to Fanny, who came from a more established home, it must have been a real trial. Indeed she became very homesick and no wonder- the nearest neighbor, a widower called Old Moan lived a half mile away and the Clark and Edwards families lived a mile beyond that.

The land clearing started immediately after their arrival. He plowed a few rounds around a large piece of his land and set the grass and sagebrush afire. The fire burned all day and by night only the charred stumps of the sagebrush remained. These smoldered, flamed, and sparked all night and by morning they were ashes. At six o’clock the plowing with the mules began. After two hours Henry sat down and admiringly ran the sandy loam soil through his fingers. After resting awhile he plowed some more. Then with a crude harrow consisting of wooden crossbars and iron teeth he prepared and seedbed and planted oats, wheat and potatoes.

Grandfather did his farm work at first with the two mules. When one of them died, a neighbor, King Lamoni Parsons, referred to as Old Moan, gave him a horse to use until another draft animal could be acquired.

The neighbors asked Henry Perry to teach their children to read and write because the Rudy settlement was six miles from the nearest school. In an old vacant house, he taught the children to ready, write and spell. Among the children he taught, the girls all married and gave birth to healthy children. Of the boys, one eventually went to college and distinguished himself as a mining engineer, another owned a hotel and fathered thirteen children and still another boy became a successful salesman.

Albert Perry wrote:

    

When time came to build a schoolhouse, the men of the community volunteered to dig the basement.
    ‘Two weeks,’ a man offered.
    ‘Ten days,’ another.
    ‘A week,’ coming down.
    ‘I will dig it in five days,’ Dad said.

He dug the basement with a pick and shovel in three days. A school house was built. It had a dirt roof in which pig weeds grew after spring rains. The lumber floor was a novelty to many of the children, who were accustomed to living in homes with dirty floors.

The school house doubled as a church. Bishop Clark it was reported talked on the same subject, “We are Called a Peculiar People” each Sunday. The other speaker was rotated between Brothers Perry, Kite and Smith.

Grades at the school were decided by reading ability, being first reader, second reader, third reader, etc. If a pupil completed the fifth reader he or she was considered to be well educated.

The combination school building and chapel became the social center. Dances were held there and good times were had on the holidays, Christmas, New Year’s Day, Independence Day, and the Twenty-Fourth of July. There was a bench in the schoolhouse where during dances the young mothers laid, tended and if need be changed and nursed their babies. It was called “the infantry.”

The country began to be settled and the Rudy Ward was divided into the Clark and Rudy Wards. Both Henry and Fanny Perry occupied positions in the ward organizations.

In time Leslie, the second oldest boy went to Ricks Academy in Rexburg, Idaho where he was valedictorian of the first graduating class. When Leslie criticized some of his Ricks Academy teachers for being over religious, his father counseled him, “My by, be humble in your studies and remember your prayers. Yes, and in your prayers remember your studies.”

Educated Leslie once challenged Grandfather to a debate. For an account of the event I quote Albert Perry as follows:

    

In every boy’s life there comes a time when he KNOWS he knows more than anybody- he knows more than any Dad. Leslie was active in a debating society. And to show his prowess, he challenged Dad for a debate to be held some evening after Church services. The subject: Resolved that science has done more for the welfare of the human family than has religion. The debate was held in the old log schoolhouse and all the congregation stayed. Each speaker was allowed 15 minutes, and a three-minute rebuttal. Leslie spoke first. He spoke slowly at first, droning on the progress that science had made, how it lifted up the realm of living for all, and then he started on religion. How he hammered on the failures of religions of the past. Leslie was gifted and had studied speech, and he knew how to sway an audience. When he sat down folks were ready to throw away their Bibles and take up arithmetic. Then Dad got up. Dad never had much schooling, but was an avid reader. He told how religions, many of them, had influenced the human family for good. He explained their merits, their excellence, their worth. He sat down, but no one could tell by looking at the crowd what they were thinking.

Leslie got up and gave his rebuttal. He spent most of his time saying, “I have proven- I have proven- I have proven.” But toward the last his sentences didn’t have the ring as at first. His voice began to falter. He knew his knowledge was not match for Dad’s sincerity. “I have proven”, he said over and over, but he hadn’t proven to himself what he had proven.

Dad arose then. He didn’t say much. Just a few overall statements about his first speech. He only talked five minutes. But among the things he said: “I give credit to science for what science has done. It has changed our way of life and in a way our thinking. It has built, encircled and constructed. None of us want to go back to yesterday when today holds so much and tomorrow more, but,“ he said and spoke more slowly, “With all credit to it’s progress and all glory to it’s accomplishments your scientists have not yet come up with anything that compares with the tenderness of the human heart.”

That clinched. Dad had won the debate. There were no judges, but everyone was on Dad’s side. Even Leslie. He rushed over and shook Dad’s hand and congratulated him. But Dad only said, “My boy remember this: There is more lasting satisfaction in the humble teachings of the Master than all the glamour of a false idea.” Leslie groaned.

Grandfather Perry’s love and respect for education was not only exhibited by his teaching or participation in erecting the schoolhouse. He was also the chairman of the Board of Trustees for the school.

Uncle Bert told of the family of a man called Tabernacle Tee who operated a store near the Burgess Canal. Among his numerous children was a little girl referred to as the Little Tigris. One day as Grandfather was walking along the path near the canal on the way to the store he was impressed to look back into the water. There was the Little Tigris paddling her little hands and gasping for breath. He rescued the little girl from drowning, and as they sat on the bank while allowing her clothes to dry, because she was afraid to go home to her harsh mother in wet clothes, he talked at length with her about a number of subjects. The conversation ended when she said, "Let’s always be friends.”

Years later she came to the farm and kissed him and thanked him. She had become a trick rider in a circus. After she had demonstrated her riding skill by performing a few of her tricks she said, “You not only made me happy by saving my life, but you have made many others happy too.”

Their first years on the farm were very hard and the income was barely enough to survive. Grandfather wouldn’t go into debt for anything he could do without.

One Christmas after the taxes were paid and the bills settled there was just enough left to buy a little food. When he got home the family opened the box containing his purchases. Grandmother’s face fell, “no present?”

“None, no money left,” he hung his head.

That year the potato crop had been a failure, the wheat froze, and their only cow died. That night Grandmother made cookies and shaped them into shapes of things. This was all there was for Christmas.

Little Hebe looked at the cookies and said, “I guess it’s the best the old man could do this year.” Then he ate the cookies.

Old Moan, the neighbor came by that afternoon with homemade stick horses for the boys.

Not long after establishing his home in the valley, Grandfather acquired land at the head of Birch Creek where he grazed cattle. Work on the farms went from daylight to dark. Perhaps one reason for his endurance was that he customarily took a nap after the mid-day meal.

In his book, Uncle Bert wrote a wonderful chapter about the Great Feeder Canal:

    

This channel once called the Dry Bed was engineered so that it could carry a large stream of water through the Upper Snake River Valley. From it numerous smaller canals carried agricultural water to the soils of the valley. Grandfather suggested the name, Great Feeder, and was its company’s first president. To get a picture of the difficulties the men who built the river breakwater, the headgates, and diversion area channels I quote directly from “They Come.”

It rained hard all one night and was cold and windy. What tents that didn’t blow down were lifted up letting in the wind and rain, soaking the bedding and clothing. The men got up shivering and in ugly moods. They didn’t want to work. They would rather sit around campfires, (after they got them started), besides what could a man do out there in the weather. To make matters worse about seven o’clock time to get to work, it started to snow; the kind of late spring snow that melts as fast as it touches the ground.

Dad had been up for hours. He had watered the horses and fed them and fastened horse blankets on them because they were shivering. He was eating his breakfast and had consumed one cup of barley coffee, some bacon and eggs and was sitting down for his second cup when a man entered his tent.

Dad looked up. “Oh, good morning, Jim, come in. Come in and get warm and have some breakfast.”

“I’ve had by breakfast.”

“It’s time for work.”

“I’m not working.”

“What? Don’t you feel well, Jim, I have some me…..”

“Never mind. None of us are working today.”

“Then this is a strike?”

“Yes, we have talked it over, a bunch of us. I’m the spokesman, and we can’t work for these wages. We will have to have more, or else?”

Dad had a habit, when eating, of taking his spoon and turning his food over and over while chewing one mouthful and getting ready for the next. He did this morning while thinking of a way out.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do, Jim.” There was no anger, no hot words from either man. “I’ll go down this afternoon and see some of the directors. You know how it is. I bring up just enough money to pay you boys off Saturday night. If we have to pay more we don’t have enough”.

Dad kept the money in a tin can in one corner of his grub box. The men knew where he kept it and Dad knew they knew, but in all the month’s when the canal was being built, not one penny was ever touched.

“But I’d like to plow that gravel bar, first. It will be easy plowing this morning after the rain.”

“Alright boss, thanks.”

The boss-president went out in the snow, harnessed a team, hitched it on a plow. The plow was so big the ground so wet that one team couldn’t begin to pull it. He went and got another team, hitched them on lead of the other, drove the four horses, held the plow and plowed the gravel bar alone.

Leslie once went with a girl named Ann. Ann had a sister named Kate. When old Pet had a colt, Leslie thought he was paying Ann a courtesy by calling the colt Kate. Kate grew up, a choice mare and one of Dad’s favorites. It made no difference to him which horses he was driving or how many, to him every horse was Kate.

“Get, up, Kate. Kate. Kate get up there. Confound you, Kate. Kate whoa. Steady there, steady there. You lazy old horse, Kate. Get up, Kate.” A steady stream of wards with seldom a break and they all centered around Kate. On a still day he could be heard a mile away.

Meanwhile, things began to stir in camp. One man could be seen after another to crawl out of his tent, harness his horses; another and another.

“H---,” they said. “If the boss can get out and work in this snow, so can we.” By ten o’clock construction showed life and activity. By noon all the men were working.

A strike? There wasn’t any.”

Finally the headgates were in place and a large well-placed charge of dynamite opened the last section and the water rushed through as a large and delighted crowd looked on.

Upon being congratulated with the words “we’ve done it, Boss, Grandpa Perry said, “Don’t call me boss any more. Jim. I’m just one of you.”

The story is told of Grandpa Perry on a hot midsummer after lying flat on his stomach on the catwalk above the gates poking driftwood away from the headgates. A salesman approached and asked politely, “My good man, can you tell me where I can find the president of the Great Feeder Canal Company?”

“Why yes, I’m the president,” he answered and kept on working.

At about that time in his life Henry Perry was:

    A Mormon Bishop,
    President of the Great Feeder Canal Company,
    Stockholder and director in the Rigby Hardware and Manufacturing
    Company,
    Chairman of the School Board of Trustees,
    Weekly correspondent to the Market Lake Sentinel (later the Rigby Star),
    Farmer stockman,
    Rancher and the father of ten children.

And he took care of all of his business without the use of a telephone or a car.

Before the second house was built there were five children who all lived in the one room house. With help Grandfather went to the mountains and cut pine trees for a second home. The trees floated down the river on rafts and a three-room house was built of logs on a lava foundation. A home was also built on the dry farm as well as a barn and corrals. Up the canyon about a mile from the home was a great tree that was named, “Old Thaddeus,” by the girls. It was a landmark. Above Old Thaddeus was a meadow and a spring that supplied sweet cold water for the home and the livestock.

Two sets of twins rounded out the family of ten and a grandson, Fred, also lived his early life in their home.

A granddaughter, Allene, found a book in the Los Angeles Public Library which listed Henry Perry and gave an account of his live up until the date of its publication in 1904. From the book, “Progressive Men of Southern Idaho,” by the A.W. Rowen Company, Uncle Bert copied the following:

HENRY M. PERRY

A brilliant writer has well said that faithfulness to duty and strict adherence to a fixed purpose in life will do more to advance a man’s interests than will wealth or adventitious circumstances and that the successful men of today are not alone those who have amassed vast sums of wealth, but include also those who have attained a home and competency in those quiet rural enjoyments which rest and console as well as supply the material needs of existence and those who planned and labored diligently day after day, year after year, and have fulfilled and accomplished those plans in spite of many obstacles. Among this happy number may justly be classed Mr. Henry M. Perry of Rudy, Idaho, since he has from childhood manifested a faithfulness to every call of duty and demonstrated a far-reaching practicability and sagacity which have made him the possessor of a valuable reality and a high niche in the regards of his compeers and associates.

Mr. Perry was born on December 3, 1856 at Perry, Box Elder County, Utah the son of Henry E. and Elizabeth (Zabriskie) Perry, natives of the state of New York, who in 1856 were members of one of those slow-moving caravans of Mormon immigrants in which the motive power was slow, steady and compelling forces of numerous oxen, and who, after arriving in Utah located at Brigham City, where the father died in 1875 at forty-eight years of age, the mother surviving until 1902, when, at 74 years of life, she joined her departed friends in the land across the river of death. Mr. Perry, who was the eldest son of the father’s family, at the father’s death stepped into the place of the head of the family and faithfully and loyally gave his study and steady support to the widowed mother and younger members of the home circle until they were safely to come to years of self-sustenance, never faltering nor failing in his labors although oft-times the load was heavy and the burden not an easy one. In 1885 he came to Rudy, now in Fremont County, Idaho, (more recently in Jefferson County, Idaho) and used his right of homestead on 160 acres of thick sagebrush land, the following year removing his family to this new home, and here his consecutive and well-planned efforts have brought into existence a valuable property highly improved and irrigated, having commodious and comfortable buildings and other necessary improvements for the proper carrying on of the diversified farming characteristics of the Snake River Valley, bounteous crops annually responding to his culture after the first few years of deprivations were past, and prosperity attending his labors. In the construction of the Great Feeder Canal, he served as director, the treasurer and the president of the stock company which built it, being also a shareholder in the Burgess Canal Co., also holding places as a director of the Rigby Hardware Co. He was elected to his first term as a justice of the peace in 1898 and has annually from that time been elected to succeed himself in that office, and he has also rendered efficient services as a school trustee for two terms.

While in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints of which he has been a lifelong and consistent member, he has held places of distinctive trust, being ordained an Elder in 1876, one of the Seventies I 1884, in 1892 not only being ordained as a High Priest but set apart as a counselor to the Bishop. In every office serving efficiently and to the manifest advantage of the church, and he has also been a delegate to various conferences and other representative bodies of the church.

It is worthy of note that at the early age of 16 years Mrs. Perry was chosen president of the Primary Association, holding that office until her removal to Idaho and here she was chosen president of the Primary and later president of the Young Ladies Association. She also taught day school for a number of terms.

A very congenial matrimonial union was consummated by Mr. Perry on February 24, 1881, when he wedded Miss Fannie young, a lady of bright mentality and culture, who was born on September 9, 1859, at Centerville, Utah, a daughter of Thomas and Martha (Webb) Young, her parents coming from England and crossing the plains in one of the handcart companies, thereafter residing for a few months at Salt Lake City, thence removing successively to Willard and to Perry, when the mother died in 1898, at 76 years of age, the father still maintaining his home at Perry, having attained 67 years of life.

Mrs. Perry has given much thought and honorable service to the interests of the various societies connected with the church, serving for several years as secretary of the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement society, also secretary of the Relief Society, which office she holds at this writing, and she is also a faithful and popular Sunday School teacher.

The children of Mr. And Mrs. Perry have numbered ten, namely: Henry E., Maude M., Leslie T., Heber M., Melba E., Eurene E., and Eunice J., twins: Velda A. and Verna Fl., twins.

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