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Elizabeth Letitia Higginbotham Peery

Ogden, Utah Standard-Examiner 06/29/1975
One might think that being born of Friday the 13th would be unlucky. Not so for Elizabeth Letitia Higginbotham. From the time she came into the world in January 1846, she lived a life of excitement, ranging from the trip across the plains to Utah, to marrying a man who became mayor of Ogden.
Elizabeth's parents, William E. and Louisa Ward Higginbotham, were in Nauvoo, Ill., when she was born. Because of persecution of the Mormons, they returned to their native Virginia.
Elizabeth was raised in Burke's Gardens, Tazewell County, and lived there peacefully until the Civil War began. Her brother-in-law, D. H. Peery, whose first wife was Elizabeth's sister, Nancy, owned a farm and store at Clear Fork, Va.
With Elizabeth's brother, Simon, Mr. Peery enlisted in the Confederate Army under a Col. Swan.
In 1862, Union soldiers burned Peery's store and farm buildings. Nancy died shortly afterward of typhus.
It was 1864 that the Higginbotham family decided to immigrate to Utah. Mr. Peery and Simon hired substitutes to take their places in the army and the trek began.
In the party were Simon, another brother, Frank, Elizabeth's mother, Mr. Peery, his daughter Letty, 4, Oscar Harman and Elizabeth.
Simon went ahead to Missouri to buy oxen and prepare for the journey across the plains. With their belongings in two wagons, the rest of the party started to cross the mountains.
Col. Swan sent a party of soldiers to guard them from the guerillas and robbers until they reached the end of the Southern lines.
While traveling through the hill country of Kentucky, the arty was attacked by robbers at night. Frightened away by neighbors, the desperados took a trunk containing all of Nancy's belongings.
The party took a flatboat down the Sandy River to Piketon, Ky., traveled down the Ohio and up the Missouri to Omaha by steamboat. Each night the steamboat captain would put out the lights to guard against marauders.
Joined at Omaha by Simon, the emigrants camped for two weeks at Fort Kearney before starting across the plains.
A party of Missourians going to Oregon joined the train under Capt. William E. Pritchett of Virginia. Disgruntled at having to travel under a Mormon leader, the Missourians split the train and went off by themselves.
Some weeks later the Higginbotham train caught up with them again - stranded in the Black Hills, their oxen and other livestock run off by Indians.
Sharing their livestock with the hapless Missourians, the Mormon train again set out, headed west.
At a fort in the Black Hills, they had trouble with the Indians, the result of a remark made in ignorance by Oscar Harman.
Capt. Pritchett's daughter, Sue, was a beautiful young woman with tan skin and dark hair. Two Sioux Indians rode into the camp and when Oscar saw they were admiring Sue's looks, jokingly asked them if they'd "like to buy the squaw."
The braves said they'd give two ponies for her, and rode away.
"Well, now you'll have trouble," a teamster told Oscar. "Indians do not joke with white men, They think you mean what you say."
Miss Pritchett hid in a wagon and when the Indians came back to parley they were very angry to find it had only been a joke, and rode away for more help.
All that day as they traveled, the people on the wagon train kept an alert guard out. About two miles from a stream, the Indians attempted an attack but were turned back by the guards.
The train soon joined a train of freighters and were safe from harm - for the moment.
Not long after that, the Higginbotham party met a war party of Arapahoe Indians who wanted to fight the Sioux. When told where the enemy was, they rode away, looking for their enemies.
"We felt the Lord had sent the Arapahoes to protect us," Elizabeth related later.
The Train passed Independence Rock where trappers, explorers, soldiers and pioneers had carved their names, visited Jim Bridger at his fort on Black's Fork River, Wyo., and entered Salt Lake City by way of Emigration Canyon on Sept. 1, 1864.
In Echo Canyon, the train met a teamster with a load of potatoes and onions. The travelers were so eager for fresh vegetables, Elizabeth took a big onion, sat under a tree and ate it raw.
For a time, Elizabeth and her family stayed with a friend in Cottonwood, then went to Provo, living there with other friends.
But the climate was too cold and when in the spring of 1865, Elizabeth married David H. Peery, they moved to Ogden, after living in Cottonwood for another year where their first child, Henry, was born.
The Peery's lived in an adobe house on the corner of what is now 27th and Washington until 1868, moving then to a house where the Egyptian Theater now stands. Washington was called Main at that time.
Mr. Peery opened a business, buying a general store owned by LDS Bishop Chauncey West. Later, he built his own building on the Egyptian site, but it burned down.
In the 1870's, the Peerys moved to another adobe house on the "bench" where White City Bowl is located. Later, Mr. Peery built a frame house and finally built "The Virginian", a fine big house of red sandstone that stood at the corner of 24th and Adams.
There, they entertained many famous people, including Brigham Young and William Jennings Bryan.
An educated man, Mr. Peery had taught college in Virginia. In Ogden he served on the city council and was mayor. He took an active part in business as a banker, flour mill and store owner and real estate man. He died in 1901 at the age of 77.
Mrs. Peery was the mother of 10 children, including Harman Peery, who was mayor of Ogden in the 1930's.



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