David Russell Creer's Great Grandfather
Life of William Robertson
Before relating the life of our grandfather, William Robertson, I will give some data of ancestors leading up to his birth, Paul Robertson, his grandfather, whose father was also named Paul, was born October 30, 1720 at Achavan, Genisla, Forharshire, Scotland. His occupation was that of farming. He was the father of five children, three sons and two daughters. His eldest son, William was born October 21, 1759 at the same place. He married Helen McKenzie. We find them settled as farmers at Muckle Donnie Parish of Genisla Forfarshire, Scotland where was born to them the following children: James, January 16, 1790; Helen and Isabell (twins) May 4, 1792; John (grandfather’s father) July 18, 1793; Margaret, July 8, 1795; Susan, 16 Feb 1797; William, May 7, 1802.
John Robertson commenced business at the Feulds of Derry Burn of Kelrie Parish of Genisla, Forfarshire sometime about 1818. He opened a small store and did a carrying business to Dundee some twenty miles distant. Here he married Elizabeth Edward, born August 8, 1802, daughter of Thomas and Agnes Lindsay Edward. He then started a business in a country tavern and also took up the wool trade, finding a market in Aberdeen and Sterling where he did a good business for about nine years, when with a year of severe sickness and with a large amount of wool on hand and a sudden fall in the market brought a reverse in business as well as a result in his death, leaving his wife with six in family and nothing for them. Some of her good neighbors did the best they could with the wool and all the creditors with one exception, agreed to take the dividend left. One would not agree and a debtor’s sale was declared and published, but only that man and the auctioneer came. The auctioneer, being her friend, advised her to invite a few of her neighbors in and the sale went on. The neighbors bought her household property and gave it back to her and she went on with the business at the tavern. She raised and schooled her children and paid off in full all her old debtors with the exception of him who would not agree to settle and would have, if he could, thrown her on the cold world without a penny or a meal of victuals for self and children.
There were seven boys and one girl, the girl died six weeks after her father at the age of three months. One of the boys, James was born the day the prophet Joseph Smith received the plates, September 22, 1827. When through with school the boys were apprenticed. Grandfather (William) and his brother Thomas were sent to Dundee, Grandfather as an apprentice in a hardware store (commonly known as a Iron mouger) and his brother Thomas as a blacksmith. While at Dundee two Mormon Elders visited them, namely William Gibson and Hugh Findley. Grandfather and Uncle Thomas accepted the gospel message and invited the Elders to their mother’s home and in due time the whole family joined the church in 1849. During this time Grandfather did a great deal of missionary work, which was at that time extremely unpopular.
On the first day of January 1850, the family with Robert KcKell wife and son started on their journey to America. They traveled by rail to Glasglow. While there they were informed that they couldn’t bring the bolts of linen, blankets and cloth which in their possession without dividing them into smaller pieces as high duty would be charged. Two weeks were spent with the Boyack family and with the aid of Marjorie Boyack the material was cut up and put in shape to avoid duty. After arriving in Utah some of the table linen was sold to the Archie Gardner family. The linen was of the best and the blankets brought were of rare quality. One cloth in particular was the pattern of the fouls of the barnyard showing distinctly in a round pattern in the center of the cloth the various fouls.
On leaving Glasglow they traveled by steamboat to Liverpool. After some delay they set sail with a company of 52 saints on the sailing vessel (Argo) and after six weeks of rough voyage with an experience of nearing shipwreck off Cuba, they arrived safely at New Orleans. While conversing with the only surving brother, Charles, who is nearly ninety, he related clearly many of their experiences on board the vessel, also enroute up the Mississippi. He stated that each day a large pot of mush was made, each family being served from same, otherwise the remainder of the meals were prepared by each family. He laughingly stated that the boys like to go barefooted, but it would get so hot on the boards the rosin would melt and stick to their feet and they would be obliged to replace their shoes.
On landing at New Orleans they immediately took passage by Riverboat up the Mississippi River landing at Council Bluffs. They were well supplied with money as well as supplies as before mentioned to bring them to Utah and get settled here, but on arriving at Council Bluffs they were persuaded to remain and buy holdings and make more money before journeying on. They unfortunately settled on the river bottoms where they all suffered more or less from chills and fever and finally sorrow knocked at their door and they were obliged to part with their mother (Elizabeth Edwards), she who had so valiantly struggled to rear them and through her integrity and honesty cleared from their shoulders the debt of their father. Before leaving Scotland they were counseled by those in authority to go as near to their destination as their money would allow and the boys always felt had they obeyed council they would have been comfortably settled in Utah and wouldn’t have been deprived of the company of the one they so dearly loved in completing their journey to the Rockies. Elizabeth was buried on the hillside with nothing to mark her resting place, all trace of her grave being lost.
In the spring of 1851 grandfather (William) met and became intimately acquainted with Eliza Thomas, a girl of twenty who with the family immigrated to America in 1842 with the second shipload of saints who crossed the Atlantic. They were married July 3 of the same year, it being his 28th birthday. Thomas Clark performed the ceremony. His brother, Alex Robertson and S. G. Thomas were witnesses. They were later sealed June 1861 by D. H. Wallis in the Salt Lake Endowment House.
Their journey across the plains the following year (1852) was expressed by both as being a pleasant one. They were well provided, having two yoke of oxen, one yoke of cows, two wagons and full outfit of blacksmith tools. Grandmother drove most of the way as grandfather was captain of a company of ten and most of his time was spent looking after their needs. Isaac M. Brow and John P. Studester were captains over him. The company consisted of 300 families. They arrived in Salt Lake September 20, 1852 and on October 6 a son was born to them. In 1853 in company with others they moved to Spanish Fork, known then as Palmyria, where they built dug outs on their city lots.
The Indians became so troublesome a fort was built. The Spanish wall and houses all joined except when a gate was necessary. Grandfather’s house was in the north row about the center. They called the roll each morning and evening of the families in the fort, during their stay of two years in the fort, then a move farther east was made and the fort torn down. The adobes of the wall were used in building their houses. His daughters Emma and Jane
were born in the fort. Emma having the distinction of being one of the first children born in Spanish Fork. Jane was fine months old when they moved.
Grandfather’s experiences in Indian troubles were numerous. At the time of the Gibbons massacre in Spanish Fork Canyon, he with his brother James, Theo Dedrickson and Smaurl Bearenson were working in the canyon sliding logs. James and Mr. Bearenson had come home for supplies and were sent back the next morning for grandfather (William) and Mr. Dedrickson. On their way they found strips of red flannel strewn along their way which they thought was the work of Indians and which meant trouble. They all arrived home safely. During the troubles he was appointed with Patriarch Jes and two others from Spanish Fork, to accompany a group from the county to Fish Lake to sign a treaty with the Indians, of which they were successful. The treaty was signed on a spot in front of the hotel and facing the lake. While on this journey they traveled up a narrow valley at the top of which they found a large grizzly bear, which had been killed and skinned. This valley they named Bear Valley. In Passing through Grass Valley the grass passed the stirrups, which caused them to give it this name. They also gave Rabbit Valley its name. They carried many articles pleasing the eye of the Indian with them, which aided much in accomplishing their purpose.
William was called to Echo Canyon at the time the Johnston Army arrived. In his arrival at Salt Lake his supplies were taken, even his coat from his back, to be used by others and he was ordered to return and assist in the affairs at home.
He was a member of the Volunteer Militia of early days, acting as adjutant officer and later ranked as a brigadier major, being closely associated with Bishop A. K. Thuber who rose to office of Brigadier General. The sash he wore is a relic in the family.
Grandfather was an excellent penman and most of his church activities were in record keeping. He acted as ward clerk until its division, also kept all records of seventies quorums until he was ordained a high priest, also kept records of the prayer circles. For some time the tithing settlements were made at Springville to which place he made numerous trips concerning that work. He acted as Sunday school teacher for a number of years. He served as a school trustee, also city clerk for many years and later city treasurer, for which his received little or no pay.
When the Spanish Fork Coop was started he was called by Bishop A. K. Thurber to be a clerk and to assist in its management. He was bookkeeper for a number of years and remained with the institution until unable to work. In those days with most public men the pay was the last consideration, the efficient and willing were often imposed upon with the duties that must be attended to and the costs were not counted in money. The projects of the country passed currant as a legal tender, school tuition and at times taxes were thus paid. When scrip was introduced as a business medium some of the more bulky products were disposed of as a circulation medium which lightened the work of those keeping accounts, both in civil and religious capacities.
His son, Heber, has the original copies of Patriarchal blessings given he and grandmother September 8, 1869. Grandfather set sail on a mission to Scotland May 8, 1879, after being absent two years, grandmother did the following January after his return. Two years later he married Ann Ferguson an emigrant from Scotland. The faith of our grandparents was instilled in the hearts of their large family of nine boys and two girls, all of whom, with the exception of one son, survived him. His whole life was spent in usefulness until he was 76 years old when on returning from his labors at the Coop Store one dark night he stumbled and fell receiving injuries from which he suffered until his death, March 30, 1903 at the age of 79.
Following is time and date of the birth of his children:
John, born 1:00 AM, Oct 6, 1852
Emma, born 8:00 AM, April 9, 1854
Jane, born 8:00 PM, Dec 14, 1855
Heber, born 5:00 PM, June 25, 1857
Ezra, born 4:00 AM, Aug 13, 1859
Eli, born 3:30 AM, Jan 27, 1861
George, deceased infant, Nov 16, 1862
Jacob, born 2:30 AM, Dec 13, 1865
Nephi, born 11:00 PM, Nov 30, 1868
Wells, born 1:00 PM, Oct 31, 1871
(Alexander James is listed on the Archive Record as the 11th child and was born 16 Apr 1878.)