The Early History of Lehi

Home / Fotheringham

The Early History of Lehi
[Lehi, Utah County, Utah, written 30 Aug 1908]

By Brother William Fotheringham, aged 83

President Young councelled the people to settle north and south. I understood that there was a settlement going to be established on Dry Creek, the northern point of Utah County. There was no road around the point of the mountain, so I came over the top of the Mountain, down a wash into this valley on a trail previously made. Camped down on the river Jordan. Followed the trail along as directed leading to the west and came to the spring on Dry Creek, which name was given this creek on account of the water not coming down after June. I found several families there. They were David Clark, Henry Royle, Thomas Karren, Charles Hopkins, Samuel D. White, Joel White, his brother with their father and mother, Canute Peterson, and David Savage, myself and father and mother. These people had just got in when I arrived which was about the middle of September, 1850.

We then went to work and viewed the land down to the lake which we were going to have surveyed. We got a Mr. Lemmons, a surveyor, and I carried the flag. All were interested in this survey. This was called the first survey. We then went to work, as the creek was covered with cotton wood and cut some down and built a little fort there of log cabins, which were just high enough that we could get in. They had dirt floors and dirt roofs, and there was not a piece of iron in the whole of the buildings. Others came in during the winter and others in the spring of 1851. The winter of 1850 and 1851 was very wild and we cut poles for fencing our fields. At Snow Springs there was probably a colony of twenty families, consisting [?bly] of fifty or sixty souls, there being few children.

In the early spring, in March 1851, I manufactured a plow made of cottonwood, the mould board being made of a gnarled piece of cottonwood. I had an iron point for the land side which was all the iron there was in the plow which did splendid work and raised 360 bushels of wheat. This considered the best plow they had at that time, the others having very crude and primitive plows.

To keep records of any kind I furnished the paper, my father having a good blank book he had used in Europe for entering orders for clothes, he being a master tailor, and I would take the leaves out as they were needed for the use of Bishop Evans, on which time for work, etc., would be kept. The only incident with the Indians while at Snow Springs was, that three bucks came to the settlement when the men were away, and Mrs. Canute Peterson took a hatchet and shook it in the face of one of the Indians, she talking Scotch and he Indian, and finally the Indians went away. All the lumber we had we did with a whip saw. He rigged up a saw pit and gush, gush is the man in the pit that gets the saw dust, and logs would be brought from Johntsinville, now Alpine, and Thomas Karren was the top sawyer and I was the under sawyer, and we sawed all the lumber that was used in those early days for floors, etc.

We all generally, had a cow or two, and there was bunch grass from the lake side to the top of the mountain. I was without shoes half the time, and had the clothing we came along with which got pretty well patched. We held meetings in our little fort there. Brothers Savage and Charles Hopkins would take charge.

The people left Snow Springs as soon as circumstances would permit, which was about in May 1851 and moved up to Evansville, now Lehi, as they found going further up would insure better water, a more healthy place and they would be nearer the main travelled road. They settled in Evansville as they considered that the cream of the country. After the crops were put in and were getting along nicely and we were working all the time in getting this water through.

An incident: Myself, Canute Peterson and two others from Salt Lake went on the lake on a fishing expedition to the mount of Provo River, and were successful in getting a good haul of trout and suckers. We had a boat of old Father Burgesses. We left Provo in the evening and got to American Fork Creek in the morning expecting to make a haul. We could do nothing on account of the gale blowing from the southwest and we pulled for home. The lake became very rough and one wave went right over the boat and down she went. I struck for the shore, the boat coming bottom up. Two of the men got on the boat and one got the oars, put them under his breast and waves washed him into the shore. When I got to the shore, I got a long pole and helped Brother Peterson and the other man from Salt Lake to get to the shore from the boat and we all got home safely, and went the next day and got our boat. We were overturned about one-half mile from shore. I now remember vividly the whole incident. The sun was coming up over the Wasatch and I was making a battle with the waves to reach shore, thinking this was the last time I would see the sun rise. I was not married. Through a dream of John Murdock's wife, Elmira, she prevailed on him not to go on this expedition. He could not swim and no doubt would have been drowned in the spill.

One of the great attractions was the beautiful horn-pipe dancing given by the Sawyers, myself and Brother Karren.

Of the early settlers of Lehi, the following were among the first missionaries: Canute Peterson went to Norway, Preston Thomas to Texas, Thomas Karren to the Sandwich Island and myself to the East Indies, all going in the fall 1852.

In the spring of 1857, when Drummond went back to Washington and caused a lot of trouble, saying the records had been destroyed, President Young saw that it would be necessary for the people to make another move, and he called for three men from each settlement to go with him on an expedition to the north. Bishop Evans, and wife Ann, John Brown and myself went from Lehi. When we got to Salmon River in Idaho, staying there for about a week and getting ready to continue on our journey, the Lord showed President Young that the north was not the place for the Saints to settle, but that they were to go to the south so they returned to Salt Lake. While on the Salmon River preparing to go further north, President Young asked Brother Heber C. Kimball if all arrangements were made for the further journey. Brother Kimball answered "Yes." Presidnet Young said, "We will not go further north as the Lord has shown me that is not the place to settle, but will return to Salt Lake and then go to the South."

We returned home in June, Brother Evans, John Brown and myself were invited and were present at a picnic party July 24th in Cottonwood canyon when the dispatches came from the riders in the plains that an army of the United States were on their way to Utah. At public meetings in Salt Lake soon after it was decided to keep the army out and a company was made up of companies from the different settlements, Lehi furnishing a company with Sidney Willis as captain. The hardships and privations of that trip are well known.

This is the way William Fotheringham recalled the early settlement of Lehi at the age of 83 years. He was a patriarch and a veteran elder in the church. Of civil offices he held quite a number, having acted as alderman of Lehi City, Mayor of Beaver City, probate clerk, and justice of the peace of Beaver precinct, and a member of the Utah Territorial Legislature from Beaver and adjacent counties.

He was a carpenter by trade. He married three wives, and had thirty children—eighteen sons, and twelve daughters.