Sketch of the life of Creighton Hawkins Pioneer of 1851

Told by Creighton Hawkins at his home on Oct. 16, 1931

I, Creighton Hawkins, Son of Samuel Harris Hawkins and Charlotte Savage, was born April 3, 1840 in Lo[n]don, England. My Mother's fathers' name was George Savage. My Mother's Mother's name was Ann Jupe. My Father's Mother was named Anne Creighton, and a painting of her hangs in the Royal Art gallery at London.

My father was a steel engraver and we lived in a house which my parents had a lease on for ninety-nine years. As children we were kept very closely in our yard, not being permitted to play with other children. I went to school for two or three days and the master got cross with me and I would not return to his school. I was the sixth child of a family of nine children.

My father was inclined to be a religious man. He knew there was a gathering place and he thought Jerusalem was the place. He was beginning to get ready to move to Jerusalem when the elders came along. He heard the Gospel and joined the church and all the family were baptized in London about the year 1848. Jediah M. Grant, the father of President Grant, used to visit our home and he urged my parents to let my brother Conalbert emigrate to Utah. But they would not give their consent.

I remember my brother Conalbert and myself placing chairs about the upstairs drawing-room, and playing our congregation were seated with them. Then he and I would get into a large arm chair and preach, sometime playing we were Brigham Young and sometimes Joseph Smith. This arm chair was brought to America by my parents. It later became stage property of the old Salt Lake Theater stage. However it was later put in the attic for repairs, and before being repaired it was destroyed by fire. The family also brought along a piano which they were unable to get a wagon for its transportation across the plains. So it was shipped back to England. My sister Angeline Piercy received it.

In the year 1849, we emigrated to America. We crossed the ocean in the ship Zetland, sailing from Liverpool, England. There were 250 Saints on board under the direction of S. H. Hawkins. We reached New Orleans Dec. 24, 1849. They went up the Mississippi river and arrived at St. Louis, living there the first winter. In the spring, my father got two teams of oxen and we started for Utah. When we reached Council Bluffs, they had to move on forty miles north because there was no place at Council Bluffs. At this point there was an old log house without doors and windows. Father fixed that up comfortable for occupancy and after it was all finished my father died. My mother had to prepare the body for burial alone. A man came from a great distance and dug the grave for father's burial. Having to dig three feet thru frozen ground. We remained in this house for the balance of the winter.

My mother had brought many pictures from my Father's steel engraving and of course they were considerable weight. Because of the wagons being overloaded, we had frequent breakdowns and my gather would have to repair the wagon. Finally in order to lighten our load, my mother burned the pictures, after having brought them a long distance.

On our journey across the plains, one night we were camped a strong wind began blowing. Another party had camped alongside us that night. In our wagon was my mother, father, sister, and myself and this wind took our wagon along, and blew the top in shreds. The wagon alongside ours was blown completely over. The man was in it and the wagon box struck him on the neck causing his death.

The hardships were so severe for our family because of our previous home life. My mother had very little hard work to do in England, having a chore woman come in to do the work. The sisters learned to play the piano and my brother Leo was trained in Stenography.

My mother had thought so much of London that when her folks wanted her to go back, she went but she often said it never seemed so much to her as it had done before Utah.

After the death of my father in the spring of [1]851, my mother and we children with two yoke of oxen and three wagons again began our western journey. The extra wagon was loaned to a man with the understanding that he bring part of the belongings, but he failed to do this as he dumped the things out and went on his way, thus cheating my mother out of her wagon.

The Walker brothers came about the same time we did and at one time were unable to negotiate a hill because of their poor teams, so my mother sent one yoke of oxen back to help them over.

After we reached Utah we first stayed at the home of George D. Watt. Later my mother purchased a home in the first ward, paying for it with one of our outfits. The other one was exchanged for supplies on reaching the city. I lived for the next fifty years in the first ward.

My mother and sisters had been doing whatever they could in the way of helping with sewing or other things in order to make a living. My mother came home ill one day. I said: "You stay home and I will go out and find some work." So I went south of the city to a place where a man was digging potatoes and asked: "Don't you want some help?" The man said, "Yes". I asked him what I should dig with and he answered I would have to use my hands. The ground was soft so I was able to get the potatoes out in that way. I helped all day. When we were thru he gave me a peck of nubbins for my pay. I was so disappointed I almost cried, but I took them home to my mother and threw down on the floor and said: "Look at that, mother, that is all he gave me". She opened the bag and looked in, saying: "Never mind, I can use them."

There was no money at all. When I got old enough to go to a dance I would take a small sack of flour or a squash under one arm and a girl under another and go for a wonderful time at the dance.

I did anything I could get to do. One time a man loaned me a wagon and I went up to the mountains to get a load of wood, in the grove of quaking asp[ens]. It was winter time and the snow was two feet deep, and I was wearing only moccosins [sic]. In working around I lost my moccasins in the snow and my feet got wet and before I reached my home my feet were nearly frozen. On the way home I tried to keep my feet out in the sun as much as possible. I got home with the wood alright.

I worked at the Moon's distillery when quite young. I got whiskey for pay and I paid our taxes with whiskey.

When Johnson's army came [see Utah War], mother and my sisters went to Payson. My brother, Leo and I stayed here. I was sent to Echo Canyon with the guards. I had a blunderbuss shotgun. We had the funniest lot of guns to fight that army with that you ever saw. I was one of those called to stay and burn the homes rather than let the army have them. Soon as the army got over the Jordon, the family came back.

At the time of the Mt. Meadow massacre, my brother worked for the church as secretary in president Young's office, and a young man came into the office on horseback reporting what the company were doing in the Saints and asked what they should do, and President Young said: "For God's sake get a new horse and go back as fast as you can and tell them to let them go thru in peace." But before the man could get there, word came the whole company had been massacred. When President Young heard that he cried like a child. It was a terrible thing, but Pres. Young didn't sanction their being treated as the mob did.

I began farming. We cut our grain with a cradle scythe and threshed it with a flail. We used our grain for money, taking pay for my work in grain. We wouldn't see a dollar in a whole year.

After I lost my moccasins a man made some wooden soles and nailed some old tops on them. I got angry at a calf and kicked at it and broke my shoe. We wore buckskin pants and jackets with long fringe and thought we were dressed up.

We didn't see bread for the first year. We lived on greens almost entirely. My mother gleaned the first harvest time. The grain was flailed out and taken to the mill and we had our first bread. We brought two cows across the plains with us that helped our out living.

Mother was a constant visitor at the home of Pres. Young. My sister played with the children. My oldest sister Lavinia, played on the stage of the Salt Lake Theater. She took the part of Portia in the Merchant of Venice. She married Joseph Woodmansee. I often took my sister to the theater and saw the first play. I was sent an invitation to attend the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the theater.

I was called on a mission to Arizona when a young man. I hadn't been married very long but I left my wife home. I have a letter she wrote to me while I was there. We had only been gone a short time when the water dried up and we couldn't go any further. We sent word to Pres. Young to know what to do but got no answer, In Maricopa country, the captain told us to go home.

When I got back I went to brick making, and later took up carpentering. I gave my services for five years, taking care of the First Ward Meeting House, caring for the sacrement [sic], the building , and the heat and lights. I turned on the first electric lights used in the building. The bishop got up in a meeting and told the people he had a surprise for them, then gave the signal and I turned the lights on. The people nearly jumped out of their seats.

In the earlier days, we made our own candles and took one to meeting with us. Matches were scarce too. We would often borrow coals from our neighbors. We used a tinder box, or flint and steel. Later we had coal, oil, and some gas.

While I was giving gratis service in the careing [sic] for the meeting house, a proposition came up which I figured would bring in some money. This was in the Big Horn Country. I told the bishop about it but he didn't like the idea. I went, but later came back as the deal was not successful.

I was a policeman at one time and I still have my club and badge. We received no pay. In fact, we seldom received pay for any service for the benefit of the community, such as guarding President Young's home. I did this after working all day.

In the early days we got our coal from Coalville. It took about a week to get a load to the city, and this was exchanged for a sack of flour. Both were valued at about $20.00. My team was small therefore I could only carry about 1500 lbs. We did this hauling all winter long. In the winter we used bob sleighs and had to stay right in the tracts others made, or we would have gone into deep snow banks. One time we went up for a load of coal, and the coal was not ready so we had to wait over night, and we got snowed in. However we got willows and put in the roadbed, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to get back the following morning.

In those days there was no feed for our cattle and we turned them loose in the hills and had to get up early to hunt them down before we could start work. I herded cows when I was young and I used to cry when I saw how little they got to eat. It seemed like they always gave plenty of milk at night.

We went for lumber, the bread we had with used to freeze solid and it was necessary to build a fire and thaw it out before we could eat it.

I have been in danger many times, but God has protected me thru them all. I will relate a few incidents; going from St. Louis to Kanesville, some boy was chopping a log in two and I was sitting astride the log watching him. The ax in place of striking the log, glanced up the log and hit me in the chest, glanced my chin and just missed cutting off my head.

Another time, I was going to the canyon for wood and as I was coming down, the chain came loose and the binding pole also came loose, I reached down to try and pull the chain up and fell head first from the top of the load right to the ground, with my feet straight up.

One day I went up alone with the horses to get a load of small wood. This was bound together in a bundle and the bundle was snaked down the mountain side. On its way it caught on a stump and flipped up and hit me on the back and knocked me down the mountain.

Another time, I went for wood and running down the mountain side I caught my foot in a forked stake. It flipped me over and knocked the breath out of me by throwing me on my chest.

Just before leaving the Twelve-Mile Grove, after father's death I was putting a chain around a log and my finger got caught in the chain. The oxen began to run and I couldn't get my hand loose, so I was dragged along. Part of the time I was on top of the log and the rest of the time, the log was on me. The oxen got home and my mother and sisters came out and helped me free my hand. My clothes were torn in shreds by coming in contact with stumps and rocks. In all these miraculous, parts of my body were hurt but never any bones broken.

I helped to bring the granite blocks by and ox team for use in the construction of the Mormon Temple. The foundation for the temple was laid and was up to the square at the time the Johnson's army came and Pres. Young had it covered completely over to hid it from the men. After they returned it was uncovered. Pres. Young found they had been using some inferior material and had them tear it out. It was built from solid blocks of granite and it was these I hauled. I also helped in the wood carving in the temple.

I married Miriam Chase, Dec. 20, 1869. She was the daughter of Sisson and Miriam Gpve [Gove] Chase, pioneers. We had four children, my wife passed away July 3, 1878, leaving a small baby girl, eight months old. We think my wife had appendicitis. The baby only lived a few weeks after, [her] passing away Aug. 17, 1878. My mother lived with me, caring for the home and the children for a number of years. She died April 17, 1887, at the age of 83 years. My daughters then kept the house for us. I would take them around to parties and made their youth as pleasant as possible. The girls both married and I went to live with my daughter Miriam, wife of Angus J. Cannon. My son Leo went away to school. I was living with the Cannons when I married my present wife, Lydia Johnson, daughter of Thomas and Ann Sarah Dearns Johnson, also a daughter of pioneers. We were married Nov. 28, 1901, on Thanksgiving Day. We moved Sept. 16, 1902 to Rigby, Idaho, just after the railroad was put there. We went with the intention of farming, but there was such a demand for carpenter work in the construction of the new homes and buildings, I began to work the day after I got there and only farmed occasionally. We were blessed with only one son, born Mar. 8, 1904, but it only lived to be seven months old.

We moved back to Salt Lake City in 1912 and settled at our present location, 1515 Lincoln St. When this home was built it was one of very few homes on this street and wet [west?] of us was all field. Because of my advanced age, I had no regular work but kept up a garden and chores about the home. I helped remodel the Emerson Ward Meeting House before the division of Emerson and Hawthorne Wards. because of my defective hearing I was never able to be very active in the church. (My mother told me before she died that the Irish chore woman who helped her in the home when I was a baby, one day took a glass of beer, which made her feel gay and dizzy, and she picked me up and began dancing around and got too close to the stairway and I fell all the way down the stairs. It hurt my head severely and after that I had a great deal of trouble with my hearing. My left ear had a continual discharge for a long time later and I practically lost my hearing.)

As I stated above, my activities were somewhat limited because of my hearing. I was a counselor in the M.I.A. in the First Ward. I was an active block teacher on many years. I was advanced in the priesthood and at the present time, I am a high priest, having been ordained in 1908.

I have three children living at this time: Mrs. Angus J. Cannon, Ms. Benjamin T. Briggs, both of Salt Lake City, and one son Leo Chase Hawkins, of Bountiful. My reclining years were made comfortable by the loving care of my wife, Lydia J. Hawkins.

Creighton Hawkins died May 20, 1932.