• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Sarah Sophronia Snow
Born: 4 March 1852
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA

My father's grandmother was born at a time and in a place when Polygamy was practiced. It was not illegal and to many people was not abhorrent. Her father took an active political, civic and ecclesiastic roll in communities where he lived.In 1848 in Iowa he was selected as one of the County Commissioners when Pottawattamie County was organized. . On 8 January 1851 her father was chosen as an Alderman in Salt Lake. On 8 September he was selected as a member of the Salt Lake High council.

Sarah's Father: William Snow (1806-1879)
son of Levi Snow and Lucina Streeter

Sarah's Mother: Sally Adams (1825 -1905)
daughter of James Adams and Betsy Leavitt

Sarah Sophronia Snow's father had six wives.Two, (Hannah Miles - md. 1832, d.1841; and Lydia Leavitt - md. 1842 d. 1847) died during a time of severe religious persecution. Several of William Snow's wives were destitute widows with small children when Sarah's father kindly 'took them in' by marriage (with their many children) as if they were his own, and provided for them.

His wives also kindly took care of the children. Sarah was born to a family with 3 older sisters - 2 of them step sisters. Sally raised a girl from each of William's previous wives as if they were her own daughters.

Among faded photocopied pages, passed through various family members, I find many 'histories' of William Snow and his families that shed some light on what Sarah's life as a child may have been like: none seem complete but most share many common sources. Other sources are obscured by time and carelessness. I will place quote marks when I type information from these records and give credit to the source when possible. If you are aware of sources please notify me - I would love to know about them.

Some information is readily seen to be quotes taken from a journal of William Snow. One record, posted in 2009 by Paul Price, credits some of his website history as 'Transcribed from a photocopy of William's diary - in the Harold B. Lee Library,  Special Collections (VMss 60) at Brigham Young University and provided by Robert B. Moosman.' He also notes, 'I am indebted to Wanda Snow Petersen for her permission to use excerpts from her book, William Snow, The first Bishop of Pine Valley. She is one of the few remaining granddaughters of William Snow ... still alive, as of end of Feb 2000.'
One such source is clearly the Snow history written and self published in 1947 by Bess Snow, a granddaughter of William Snow and his sixth wife Ann Rogers. Most of the information I quote in this history seems to come from that record. It is difficult to determine if she quotes other sources or those 'histories' quote her. One source she included in her compliation quoted E.T. Fairbanks. I transcribe quotes here, from photo copies, that help us understand Sarah's childhood and growing years.

Bess writes "…William’s last four wives, worked together as peacefully as human dispositions could, cooperating with each other. [Sally Adams - md. 1846, Jane Maria Shearer widow of Ira Doty Wines- md. 1850 with 3 sons (Leonard, Norman, Ira Wines), Roxanna Leavitt widow of John Huntsman - md. 1853 with 2 daughters (Salina, Ellen Huntsman), Ann Rogers a girl, age 19, orphaned on the journey west and without family - md. 1853. Lydia, Sally and Roxanna were cousins, daughters of the respective siblings Jeremiah II, Betsy, and Nathaniel, Leavitt.]

"They taught their children to be loving and kind to the other wives who were not their mothers and whom they called 'Aunt'. Their children were taught to love each other, as full brothers and sisters the way their father had instructed them. Despite the usual squabbles of young children, these brothers and sisters developed a lasting camaraderie and devotion for each other which was manifested profoundly in their adult lives. William’s wives were good women who appreciated, served and loved this gentle man. Their backgrounds, struggles and faithful endeavors impacted his life and the lives of all members of his family, as well as cousins and friends. William Snow’s family was truly a family. …"
Paul Price records, "William was a quiet man, a mild-mannered, gentle man, a kind-hearted man, a man who spread such loving care among his children that each of his daughters expressed at one time or another the certainty that she was his favorite child. Sariah (Snow) Lott said she always thought that she had received special attention from him because her mother Lydia had died when she was still a little three-year-old child.

 "…Sarah [Sophronia] Forsyth said she thought she must be his favorite child since she had always had poor health and he had done special services for her. Chloe (Snow) Gardner insisted that she knew she was his favorite child because of the many loving deeds of kindness he had showered on her.

"Jane Maria’s son Mason said that when the families lived ... in Lehi, all the children played together. He felt at home with his father’s other wives, calling them 'Aunt', and he loved his brothers and sisters. William always told his children that there were no such things as a 'half-brother or half-sister.’ He was the father of all his children and so they were all his, full brothers, full sisters. In his lifetime William fathered twenty-eight children, twenty-two of whom grew to maturity.

"[Sarah's Snow grandparents], Levi and Lucina Snow [nee Streeter], saw that their children received the best education obtainable at the time. ... Because of the drive for education from both the Snow and the Streeter sides of the family, hundreds of Levi's descendants achieved high degrees in education and science.

"Religious training in William’s families was not neglected. He and his wives all stressed the need for daily family prayers. The parents often quoted verses of scriptures to their children, which created in the children a deep love for the Bible."

This large family was assigned to help settle and build up the pioneer communities of first Salt Lake, then Lehi, and later Pine Valley, Utah [about 1865] on the Santa Clara River. History records many of the activities of the Snow family in that area lumbering, milling lumber, raising cattle and serving their church and community.

Paul Price continues,"The year 1856 was a very bad time in Utah. Crops failed and the Indians began making forays against the settlements again. The specter of famine hung heavily over the entire state. Besides that, the fateful (Martin and Willie) handcart companies were perishing on the Plains, and relief had to be sent to succor them.

"Sally often told her children about the near famine which had been caused by two years of drouth and an invasion of grasshoppers and crickets. Sally said her usual noonday meal consisted of greens without even any bread. She often went hungry herself to share her last loaf of bread with the starving children who came begging food at her door." See below for additional information.

Bess Snow's history informs us that when Johnston's Army [1858] caused the evacuation of Salt Lake Sarah's father, William returned from Fort Supply Wyoming where he was called to establish a station in 1854 to assist emigrants. He had taken one wife, Maria, and built a small one room cabin there. As they had no glass they used oiled muslin for a window. It was so cold that the vegetables froze hard as rocks. They had one cow to help out for food.

On their way back to Salt Lake, those returning from Fort Supply were advised to set fire to the grass to delay the march of the army by destroying food for mules and horses.

"William Snow's wives were much alarmed by the rumoured occupation. Most women and children were being moved southward. The Snow's stopped at Lehi. William's wife Roxana had a daughter (Melissa) and his wife Ann had a son (Jeter) born in the old mud fort there.

"The walls surrounding their hurriedly built log cabin living quarters were built of mud and sagebrush, being about 12 feet high and 6 feet wide at the bottom tapering to about 3 feet at the top. Supplies and animals were kept inside the fort because they were having trouble with the Indians.  The Snow families lived in this fort about 6 years. [There are some indications that Sally, and Maria Snow may have returned to live in Salt Lake for some of those years.]

"The  house was not weather proof and let in wind and storm. When Jeter was born 21 December 1855 the cold wind blew across the floor. The midwife warmed blankets at the open fireplace to wrap around the mother and baby. When morning came the wind had died down and the midwife swept a tubful of snow from the floor where it had blown in during the night."

After moving his families south, Sarah's father returned to Salt Lake City. He was one of the men left to set fire to the houses if the army tried to enter the city.

Sarah was a young girl of approximately 6-12 years of age during these years of upheaval.
Paul Price writes, "William needed a way to provide a living for his rapidly growing family, so he obtained land in Lehi and began farming. He had a good water supply from a spring which was after­wards called “Snow Springs.’ The exact time he took up that farm is not known, ..."

Baptised: 5 May 1860

Another history records, "As the settlers became more numerous and the Indians more friendly, Grandfather decided to build a new home outside of the fort. He built a long log house with a roof of poles covered with willows, straw, and dirt. It held its own with the wind and sun but was no match for the rain and snow.

"Inside each wife had one large room and a small one. In the large one, was an open fireplace where the family meals were cooked, and where a cheerful fire burned to warm the house in cold weather. While living in this house, ... [Sarah's sister Maryetta was born to William and Sally Snow]."

"In 1861 three hundred families were assigned to settle the 'Dixie Mission'.  William Snow was called to help and preside about 1865. He taught school and again served the community and church in many capacities [such as County Commissioner, District Attorney, and even Probate Judge]. Of this place it was said that when Brigham Young moved the Mormons west that he said he was going to choose a spot that no one else wanted so that they could live unmolested and that when he chose the Dixie country that he certainly had succeeded.
Sarah Sophronia Snow age unknown
"On 6 July 1867, when Sarah was a teenager, about age 15, her father was ordained a Bishop, resident apostle and President of the Southern Mission for 12 years until his death in 1879. [source 'Under Dixie Sun page 208']"-
Bess Snow, in her book, describes the Utah Dixie Territory:
"Of all the territories colonized by the Mormon Church this Dixie Mission was by far the most difficult. Of all the God—forsaken lands that any human beings were eve[r] asked to carve a town out of, that Dixie country was it. It was a hole bounded on the north by red sandstone cliffs, on the east and west by hills of black lava rock, and on the south by the muddiest dirtiest river imaginable. A river that meandered its muddy lazy course part of the year and became a raging ferocious torrent, sweeping everything before it the rest of the time. The country was hot and dry. The temperature from April to October ranged from 80 to 112 and 116 degrees. The floor of the valley was red sand and alkali over which hot dusty winds blew. The only plant life was cactus, mesquite, and sage brush. The animal life was rattlesnakes, lizards, gila monsters, and the coyote."

Paul Price writes, "Many days of preparation were spent by the Snow families getting ready for the big move. It was decided that both Sally and Ann and their children would go with him. William had to harvest his crops and collect everything they would need in their new home. Two of Ann's sons, Willard and Jeter, husked corn for the neighbors on shares, and got enough to fatten the family pig. This saved the corn William would need to take along for seed in planting new fields, and also as feed for his animals.
"One item of great importance that must find a place in the wagon was William’s big chest of carpenter tools. Then for the health and comfort of the families, clothes must be provided and food for the trip prepared."

Another history (likely Bess Snow's) records, "A big jar of butter was put down, and a pig was killed, cured and salted away. These things with other provisions such as corn for the animals and seed for planting were placed in a wagon ... that was helping to move the family south. ... Grandfather, with Aunt Sally and her family headed the [wagon] train. Uncle Willard, who was just 12, followed with [Ann] and her family in another wagon drawn by an ox team and [the third wagon of Jode Cox a soon to be son-in-law that would marry Sarah's older sister Julia Marie] with his load of the heavier goods brought up the rear pulled by his strong team of mules. Uncle Jeter, a lad of 10, rode a horse and drove the cattle." Two wives, remained in Lehi to be moved later when preparations could be made.

Paul Price, whose quotes often resemble Bess Snow's (with varying details), records, "Ann received $200.00 from her brother John in Wales. He had sold some property and sent her share of money to Lehi. This was a godsend to the families who would be going where supplies were not available. Ann took the money to Salt Lake City to outfit herself and children. She bought a kitchen stove that lasted the rest of her life.
"She bought a clothes chest and clothing for all her children, including shoes for Celestia. The little girl’s first pair of shoes had been made by a shoemaker in Lehi where Ann had her own shoes made. She had fashioned the tops herself from scraps of heavy denim which she used in making pants for her husband. The shoemaker made leather caps for the toes and cut a heavier piece of leather for the soles.

"Ann also bought scissors, needles and a complete line of sewing supplies. She pampered herself by buying a lovely new shawl, a good bargain because it lasted her fifteen years. She knew that with the shawl she could then make over her old coat into a cloak for Celestia. She also bought a cane— bottomed rocking chair for herself, a real luxury. (The first night out on their trip a horse ate the cane out of the bottom of the chair. What a disappointment’) In addition, she bought a large, colorful Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme book. All of her children as well as most of the neighborhood children would learn to read from that book as they stretched out on their stomachs on the floor in front of Ann’s fireplace.
"William killed a pig, cured and salted it away in a box. A big crock of butter found a place in one wagon, while corn for the animals, seeds for planting, and household things were loaded into other wagons. William obtained flour as well as potatoes and other kinds of vegetables, and he took a cow along for milk.
"Sally was making similar preparations for her children with the help of her daughters who were growing up. On the November morning in 1865, when the family set out for Southern Utah, William, with Sally and her six girls, (Julia Maria, Sarah Sophronia, Emma Lucretia, Chloe Louisa, Lucy Almira and Maryetta, ages sixteen down to two) were in the lead wagon. 
[The 2 older girls - step daughters to Sally - were both married at that time. Sariah lived in Lehi and Abigail lived in Salt Lake City.]

"The weather was fine, and if they had gone on the day they planned, they would have been in good shape. However, in Sanpete they stopped over for ten days, waiting for Cyrus Reynolds who wanted to go along. He was afraid to travel alone because of the possibility of Indian troubles in those deserted areas they would have to traverse. This wait caused them to run into a snowstorm before they arrived at Cove Fort.

"In later years when Ann reminisced about that trip, she said that whenever she saw sun shining on the snow it reminded her of when they reached Cove Fort. They had come through cold and snow without a sign of settlement in sight. Between trying to help Willard keep the team on the road, hold Baby Frank on her lap and keep the other two children from freezing, as well as worrying about Jeter struggling through the snowdrifts while riding his horse after the weary cows, Ann thought she would lose her mind.

"As they came over the rise and Cove Fort appeared on the horizon, she saw the snow sparkling in the sunlight as if welcoming them to a place of shelter for the night. That evening they said many prayers of thanksgiving for a place to rest themselves and find warm shelter for their animals.

"At Cove Fort their caravan met the wagons of William’s brother Erastus who was heading for Salt Lake City. They camped together that night. It was said that Erastus, “who had the reputation of being able to ‘take in all facets of the situation at a glance,’ noticed that each wife had a two year old child on her lap, and that both were pregnant with another one. . . . He said: ‘William, when you get to Cedar City, don’t go on to St. George, but cut through the hills to Pine Valley. I have a house there where you can live during the winter.' "
"One evening as they were camping, the younger children began running around and playing games. Lucy Almira [Sarah's younger sister], who was not yet five, didn’t watch where she was going, and in her enthusiasm she jumped over the campfire. The back of her dress blazed up, and had it not been for the quick action of Joseph Cox, she could have been badly burned. As it was he scorched his hands putting out the fire, and Lucy’s dress was almost burned off her back. It was so ruined that her mother had to make her another dress from an old red flannel petticoat.

"The caravan finally arrived in Cedar City for a one night stop over. The other families traveling with William probably went on to St. George, but William headed west and south for Pine Valley."

Bess Snow writes concerning the balance of that journey: "Because of the delay in starting, it was now late in December; it turned cold and began to snow. At Buckhorn Flat they nearly perished from the cold, but continued on. In two more days they came to Robert Richey’s Ranch near Pinto, where they were taken in for the night. They still had about twenty more miles to go, and the snow became deeper as they climbed higher in the mountains. Pinto Canyon was nine miles long, with snow so deep that by dusk the horses were too exhausted to go farther. William told Jade Cox to take the best horse and ride into Pine Valley to see if they could get help, which Jade did.

"That fall the Navajo Indians killed two men in St. George. They also made some raids into Pine Valley and stole a number of horses. The men and boys took turns at night guarding their animals, and it fell to the lot of Ann’s son Willard to stand guard duty. The nights he was away Ann and her children felt loneliness and fear. They offered many prayers for Willard’s protection and prayers of thankfulness upon his safe return home."

Paul Price continues, "Jode met William Gardner and Bennett Bracken, who on hearing the story hurried back into town and told people of the problems facing William’s company. They secured three teams of sturdy oxen and came to help the tired horses pull the wagons through the snowdrifts. When they got into town there were three feet of snow on the level.
"Bennett Bracken was engaged to marry Marian Whipple and when Marian’s mother, Sister Whipple, heard of the problems, she and Marian set about at once to prepare a meal for those cold travelers. Ann said later that was one of the best meals she ever ate, and the little girls liked to recall the joy of sitting down to a table and eating hot food from real dishes set on a white tablecloth.
"After supper William secured some pitch pine knots and logs and went to the house  Erastus had told him to use.  He built a  roaring fire  in the fireplace and then brought his families there to warmth and cheer. Sally declared that the most beautiful sight she had ever seen was the flame leaping up the chimney as the shivering children and women came in out of the cold.
"Since that house had four rooms, two upstairs and two down, with fireplaces for heat, each wife had two rooms. They spread their bedding out on the floors and slept soundly from sheer exhaustion. It was Christmas Eve, and they awoke next morning to a glorious sunshiny day. William cleared a place off on the south side of the house, got out his trusty carpenter tools, and set to work making furniture for his family.

"A week later, on New Year’s Eve, “Jade” Cox was married to Sally’s daughter Julia. Her father performed the ceremony, and his two wives prepared a wedding dinner for them in the evening. A dance was held to which the neighbors were invited. As soon as the weather permitted them to travel, the newlyweds returned to Lehi where they made their home.
Florence Forsyth Mercer, youngest daughter of Sarah Sophronia Snow Forsyth, at age 75 in 1965 wrote a life sketch of her parents. She summarized, "My mother Sarah was born in Salt lake City March 4, 1852. when Johnson's army came in 1858 William Snow and his family moved to Lehi. They were called to pioneer Pine Valley and left November 20, 1865, arriving 5 weeks later on Christmas Eve. They had encountered deep snow and extremely cold weather. At night the men shoveled snow and built camp fires and spread buffalo robes on which to make beds for all. They stayed in Uncle Erastus Snow's home till they were able to build their own.

"Their new home was built of lumber with 2 rooms on the ground floor and 2 upstairs. The ground floor housed Grandma Sally's family of 6 girls and one boy, and the 2 upper rooms were for another wife, Ann, and her family. ... In those days almost every home had a spinning wheel, a pair of carders, a reel for making yarn into skeins and a loom to make carpets. The wool was washed, spun into yarn, dyed and woven into cloth, then sewed by hand into clothing."
Paul Price adds,"William obtained lumber from the sawmill and soon finished some furniture for his wives. He made tables, washstands, cupboards and two bedsteads. He mortised the bedsteads together and stretched ropes across from side to side and end to end to form a grid, making a surface on which to place the straw or feather ticks.
"With the help of the boys, William got out logs from the mountains, and when spring came, he rented a sawmill and sawed lumber to build a house."

Bess Snow tells us, "He built the third house in the valley where the town now stands. [This area was know at the time as the 'lower townsite'. There was an upper townsite but most residents moved to the lower townsite about 1867.] He [William] built a six—room house and fastened it together with wooden pegs, since he could not obtain nails. He cut the pegs by hand. Both families moved into this house with each family having three rooms. This was the house which, with some remodeling and additions, Ann lived in the rest of her life."

Paul Price adds, "As soon as possible William bought from William Cowley what they called the pink house and moved Sally and her children there. He plastered this house and made it warm and comfortable."

Bess Snow records, " She [Ann] had been apprenticed to a tailor at age 12 in Wales and her needle stood her in good stead now. With her needle and thread her clothes were sewed until she had been in Southern Utah about twelve years [ approximately 1879] when Grandpa bought her a machine from Salt Lake City...So sewing was easier then.

"A group of the settlers owned sheep which they kept near PintoThese sheep supplied the wool which she carded and spun, although she had a spinning wheel she exchanged work by sewing for others.
"Aunt Sally [Sarah's mother] another of Grandpa's wives, did most of the knitting. Grandma had a carpet loom and made carpets for her home and it was loaned also to the neighbors. With this work [others] helped. Another thing they had to do was to make tallow candles."

From a source of unknown origin about Sarah's mother Sally I quote, "In those days almost every household engaged in home manufacturing. In Sally's home there was a spinning wheel, a pair of cards, a swift or reel for making yarn into skeins and loom for making linsey [a linen/wool fabricand carpets. Three of the girls were large enough to help with this kind of work when the mother took the lead or directed it. The wool was washed, carded into rolls, spun into yarn, dyed and woven into cloth, after which the material was sewn by hand into clothing.”

We may surmise that Sarah knew how to help with all of the above listed activities and work. Her family had and used the innovative technology of the sewing machine but not until after she had married. She may have been able to use it because (as recorded in the history of her son Neil Snow Forsyth) the young couple lived nearby until they moved to Loa, PiuteUtah in 1880.
It is also recorded that "Sally never had good health and was in bed a good deal of the time and was never able to get out and do rough heavy work..."

"As [Sarah's sister Maryetta] grew up she worried a great deal about her mother because Sally often had serious sick spells. Maryetta feared her mother would die. Then Eliza R. Snow and Zina D. Young came to Pine Valley to organize the Relief Society. When they stopped at William’s house, he told Maryetta to take a pan of apples out to the visitors.

"Maryetta says of the incident;
        ‘When I gave them the apples Sister Zina D. Young said to the driver, ‘Wait a minute, I want to talk to this girl.’ She said to me, ‘Don’t worry any more about your mother dying, for she isn’t going to die, she will live years yet.’ I believed every word she said and I knew she would live, and I didn’t worry any more.’ "

In 1868-9, while William Snow was in the Legislature, Sally lived with her daughter Julia in Lehi. (From history of Sally Adams of unknown origin.)
Sarah's Spouse: George James Forsyth
Married: 31 October 1870
Pine Valley, Washington, Utah, USA

Sarah Sophronia Forsyth nee Snow Died: 
5 March 1927
Bountiful, Davis, Utah, USA
Buried: 8 March 1927
Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA

When Sarah's father died his son, Dr. William J. Snow, wrote:
"Thus passed from this earth one of the pure and faithful ones and him we now honor and reverence, honor as a father and revere as a trusted servant of the Master. The beauty of his life was in the living. He made no glittering show, he built no worldly monument of fame; he attained no glory on the bloody field of battle: but he lived what he did know and felt; he worked that others might enjoy; he comforted the sick and afflicted; he counseled the needy and destitute. Was anyone in distress? His was the hand to soothe. Did anyone need any help? He was the first to respond. His own wants were always last; the needs of his fellows first. 
Positively devoid of hypocrisy he could not tolerate or understand duplicity in others. Open and frank to a fault, he was sometimes cheated and deceived by others. Measuring his conduct and expressions of judgment only by the standard of right he sometimes gave offense to dignity and diplomacy. While he appreciated and wished the good will of all his fellows, he never sought to obtain it by the sacrifice of principle. The love and approval of God, and not the applause of men, was his strongest desire. 
Born in the heart of New England he inherited a craving for knowledge, being inclined to mathematics but his life being one constant whirl of activity, no opportunity for his scholastic desire was found.
He graduated at the close of his life with a character above reproach.”
I saw that same character in my grandfather, Neil Snow Forsyth, the son of William Snow's daughter Sarah Sophronia Snow Forsyth. He too was kind and frank to a fault and could not abide unkindness, duplicity or dishonesty. I think he learned his faithful diligence and kindness from his mother.

See other links about pioneer grasshopper/cricket problems here or:
Farming the Plains