Life History of Joseph Hyrum
Lovell and Leah Ellen Radford
By Leah Ann Lovell
Introduction by Elizabeth Ririe Hoggan
Joseph Hyrum Lovell, son of John Lovell and Ann Parsons, was born
at Nauvoo, Illinois, on August 3, 1844. He was the first baby born
after the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother,
Hyrum Smith. Joseph Hyrum crossed the plains when he was seven years
old. He grew to manhood in Southern Utah. He helped to build the
fort at Deseret. He also helped to build the dams in the Sevier River.
The dams went out repeatedly. The family was called by the Church
to go to Oak city, Utah, to settle. Joseph made two trips back to
winter Quarters for immigrants before building his own home at Oak
He married Leah Ellen Radford
on August 30, 1869. They made their home in Oak City where ten
of their eleven
children were born. Their
oldest son, Joseph, died and was buried there when he was nine years
old. During this time the people tried to live the united Order.
This lasted for a year. Joseph spent the season cutting timber. He
was a successful farmer and stockman. When he left Oak City for Wyoming,
one of the neighbors remarked, “Look at that line of wagons
and that herd of cattle. Why a man with a start like that wants to
pull off into new country is more than I can understand.”
There seemed nothing in the future in and about Oak City which offered
the least opportunity for the sons and daughters of Joseph or which
gave them much of a challenge towards building homes for themselves.
Joseph preferred to take his family into new country and help them
start in life. Leah Ann tells the story of the journey and new home
We had a company of seventeen wagons and a big band of horses and
cattle. We left Oak city on the fourteenth of May and it took five
weeks to make the journey into star valley.
We cooked our bread in the big iron bake oven, and put coals over
the top of it. When we landed there it wasn't the place we expected
to find or what had been pictured to us. It was a wild country and
there was plenty of wild hay, but there were so many willows and
under-brush that it couldn't be cut until the land was cleared.
Grandfather and grandmother Radford went
with us and just before we landed we met a man coming from Star
Valley. Father asked him
about the country and he told us that it was nine months of winter
and three months of late in the fall. Grandfather was about seventy-four
years old and this man said to him, “You are pretty old man
to be going into a new country to live,” and Grandfather answered, “I'm
not going there to live. I'm going there to die with my family.” He
died on the seventh of December, 1889
Grandmother Radford was sick and was unable to travel or we wouldn't
have stayed. Father took us into the mountains and found a nice spring
and made us a home. We built corrals and stretched tents. There was
a forest fire broke out soon after and Mother and George, a very
small boy, with only one horse in camp, tore the tents down and hitched
on to the wagon and pulled it to a clear place. Father, John and
Ed were in the valley cutting logs. All we had accomplished in weeks
of hard work was destroyed by fire.
We broke camp and went through the canyon
into the valley. We got on an Indian trail and met a band of Indians
drunk with juices sold
to them by the white people. They were so drunk they could hardly
sit on their horses. One time they came to our house when Father
was away to work and wanted Mother to trade some sugar for some meat.
Mother, being frightened nearly to death, went in the house and got
a bowl full of sugar and they said that wasn't enough. They kept
on asking for more and she had quite a time to get rid of them but
they finally rode off. In a little while they came back and said
they had decided to take the sugar. They took the bowl and dumped
the sugar out and said it wasn’t the same bowl because the
other one had a lump in it. You could see for miles either way so
Mother showed them some dust and told them that was Father coming
home. They waited until he was nearly there, then they rode away.
One Sunday afternoon Grandmother was sick in bed and the Indians
rode up. Uncle Dick said for us to stand back so they could see her
in bed and he would give them a scare. We turned the tent flaps back
so they could see her in bed and told them that she had the small-pox.
They left as fast as they could. All the rest of the summer they
took a cut-off and never came back by our camp at all.
We stayed there until fall and Grandmother wasn't yet able to travel,
so we stayed in the valley and Father took a squatter's right and
built a two room log shack with split lumber to cover the top. The
doors were made of rough lumber, as were the bunks in the bedroom
that we used for beds. He split lumber for our table. After he had
all that done, he and John and Ed went back to Montpelier to help
in the harvest. It was quite a fall.
Father drove his cattle to Gray's Lake to be wintered. There wasn't
a pound of hay to be bought in Salt River Valley. He got a colored
man to take the cattle, but he had to agree to pay half the feed
bill for the year in advance before he would take them. When he went
back in the spring to get the cattle, they were all gone. They had
starved to death.
The next winter Father worked out of the valley and got wheat and
had it milled and took it into the valley, thinking he could keep
milk cows alive for the winter. All the other settlers -Woolseys
and Radfords pulled out but Father wouldn't leave because of Grandmother's
condition. The people who were left didn't have means to live on.
Winter had only begun when they became short of flour and all kind
of food stuff.
There was a branch of the Freedom Ward of the L.D.S. Church organized
and Father was made its Presiding Elder. Our home was just West of
where the Etna store now stands. When it was organized into a branch,
it was called Liberty. Later the settlers all moved away. When it
was re-settled it was called Etna.
Our first school was held in a small room that had been built for
a shade for the cattle during the summer time. I should judge this
room was about eleven by twelve with a small window. Many times,
church and school were held in our house.
There wasn't a road or trail out of the valley that winter. The
only way people had to get around was on snow shoes or skis, as they
are called now. The older people or children were taken around on
shoe-boggans made with two show shoes fastened together. After Grandfather
died, Father often took Grandmother from house to visit on a shoe-boggan.
We used to have good times. We would go from house to house and
have parties. Bishop Clark of Freedom Ward was with us on all of
these gatherings until about February when an epidemic of the Grippe
or Flue took an awful lot of the people throughout the valley, including
On the first day of May that year, the Superintendent of the Sunday
School, Brother William Jones, took the Sunday School children on
a picnic on the crust of the snow. One week from that day we went
over the same trail and. Picked Johnny-Jump-Ups. They had grown under
the snow. Miles and miles of the snow would slide off at one time.
We used to see bands of thirty and forty head of deer and elk passing
on a trail. One time after a heavy snow fall, Father and the boys
went out and came back with thirteen head of deer and elk, so you
see meat was plentiful. We cut it up in strips and hung it up on
the rafters of the house to dry.
Winter hadn’t any more than started
until the people ran out of food and Father divided the flour he
had taken in for his family,
with them. The bed ticks were emptied for the cows and horses and
Father scraped the snow off and took grass from the meadows and dried
it to try and keep the cows and horses alive. When he didn't have
anything to keep the stock alive any longer, he went down in the
meadow land and dug holes and took the dirt and threw it all over.
That helped make the snow thaw off and he kept one milk cow and a
team of horses alive. They were poor but he at least kept them from
We stayed there all the next summer. Father and the boys worked
and cleared the meadow ground off. He would have been able to have
put up enough hay for his cattle, if he hadn't already lost them.
Mother and we kids would pick wild berries and fruit. The strawberries
were almost as large as tame strawberries. We would take our lunch
and go pick berries for the day. The second winter we were there
we had lots of wild fruit that had been taken care of. There were
sarvis berries, gooseberries, strawberries, currants, and a berry
that looked like a grape.
Father and the boys worked and cleared the willows off until nearly
fall, then Grandmother was better. They brought Grandmother down
to what is now Ririe, and left her with the Woolsey folks. Mother
and Father came down over the river road from Star Valley. They left
John and Ed there to help with the fall harvest. Then Father just
picked up and left. He never got a penny out of any of the improvements
he had made.
We traveled the last three days in September. The second night on
the way we camped on Chub Springs. We had in two wagons all of our
earthly belongings. They unloaded one of the wagons to make beds
for the small children. The rest of us - Mother, Father, George,
Sylvia, Ada, Jane, and Jim - slept right out. The next morning we
couldn't tell where our beds were for snow. We broke up camp and
we hadn't gone very far when Father started to cross one of the springs
and the front wheels went right out of sight, throwing the wagon
bed right over onto the horses. We had to unload part of the load
and take the other team to get the wagon out.
We went three or four miles to an old log cabin with no floor in
it. Inside we spread our bedding out and Father made a fire right
in the middle of the cabin, to dry our bedding. Everything was under
snow so Father went to get what wood he could get. It happened that
a man and woman were going up the canyon to get some wood. Father
asked if he could help them get the wood and some for himself. They
agreed and he went and stayed all night.
It was the third day of October before we came to a place where
we could find a house to live in. We stretched a tent and lived in
it for a few days while we got the house ready. It was that house
that stood just below your place and it had been used for a barn.
(Just below, the George H. Lovell place.)
Father cleaned it up, put a window in it, and that was our home
that first winter. They went to work and made a dug out large enough
for two beds for John, Ed, George, and Jim. For our furniture Father
made two beds in the end of the building. Jane and the two little
girls slept in one and Father and Mother in the other. There was
just room for the stove and a little table. Mother was sick all winter
long. She had erysipelas. She couldn't feed herself. Father walked
five miles to the saw mill, worked all day and walked back at night.
When spring came, he quit long enough to get his crop in as he had
rented David Ririe's farm for the summer. After that he went; back
to the saw mill to work. He had only been working a few days when
he came back one day and went to bed. The next morning he went to
go to work and every bit of strength left him. As he went to go out
he grabbed a hold of the wall and fell across the wheel barrow. He
never got out of bed again and died after five weeks time. He died
on the sixteenth of June, eighteen hundred and ninety-two. Josie
was born on the sixth of July. Mother was left with nine children.
Martha was married. We didn't have a thing only what we had brought
in the two wagons. (His death was called inflammation of the bowels).
When Josie was about two weeks old, Dolph
Heath came and told Mother he could put her onto some land, that
a man had filed on and hadn't
lived on. This man was a friend of Dave Ririe's. He didn't intend
to come back so Dolph Heath told her he would help her move on the
land. Mother said she didn’t have any money to get the land
with, so Dolph Heath loaned her the money. The day that Josie was
a month old, Mother was camped on the bank of the river going to
Blackfoot to the land office to file on our home. She was a wonderful
mother. A number of times she didn't have anything in the house to
live on but she would never let her wants be known. Once she went
out and prayed to the Lord that he would open up the way for her
to get some salt and some soap. As she went out that evening after
the cows, away out in the sage brush she picked up a new silver dollar.
She said it wasn't even covered with dust as it had been left there
for her benefit. So the next day she sent to Iona for some salt and
soap and a few other notions that she needed so badly.
Mother worked very hard and did
all that a woman could do toward making a livelihood for her family.
In the early days in Utah, Father
used to raise sheep and shear them. Mother would card the wool and
knit our stockings. Until I was grown, I never knew what it was to
have a pair of stockings that Mother hadn't made. She made her own
soap most of the time and the lights we burned were candles she had
made from mutton tallow. Two years after Father died Ada was crossing
the foot-bridge over the canal when she fell in. Mother saw her fall
and started to try to get her out. She would run along the bank,
then as soon as she caught up with her she could jump in and try
to grab her, but the current was too swift. She finally caught hold
of her and pulled her out of the water but it was too late. She had
George get on a horse and the water was so deep that it swam the
horse where she had been in to get Ada out. He went to stop a threshing
machine crew and get help. Mother said she didn't know how she had
the strength to endure. A short time later Sylvia died of diptheria.
She said some women came and sat up with Sylvia in the night before
she died. In the morning she had had nothing but some bread in the
house. She went out to the chicken coop and took one nest egg and
beat it up and dipped the bread in it to make something for the women
to eat. A few weeks later Grandmother Radford died. Mother died on
the third day of February nineteen hundred and twenty-three. She
would have been seventy years old on the sixth of April. She left
a wonderful posterity and the building was filled with relatives
and friends as they gathered in funeral services. The services were
simple, yet impressive, to pay homage and last earthly respects to
a noble woman. Joseph Hyrum Lovell helped to layout the Shelton-Ririe
cemetery and he was the fifth person to be buried there and the third
adult. Now he was joined by his loving companion. The souls of these
two noble characters will long be remembered.
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