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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:
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When time came to
build a schoolhouse, the men of the community volunteered to dig the
‘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
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
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
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
“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
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
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
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
“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
Chairman of the School Board of Trustees,
Weekly correspondent to the Market Lake Sentinel (later the Rigby Star),
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
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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