Smith, Silas Sanford

Smith, Silas Sanford


Born: 26 Oct, 1830, in Stockhom, St. Lawrence County, New York

Married: July 9, 1851, March 17, 1853, July 19, 1865

Spouse(s): Clarinda Ricks, (July 9, 1851), Sarah Ann Ricks, (March 17, 1853), Martha Eliza Bennett, (July 19, 1865)

Died: 11 Oct, 1910, in Layton, Utah

Parents: Silas Smith and Mary Aikens

Family Line: Albert Ricks Smith


Silas Sanford Smith Jr., Hole in the Rock Foundation – Silas Smith Biography, C.S. M. Jones

As a missionary he likewise worked hard and dedicated himself to learning the native language and preaching the gospel. He even served as a counselor in the mission presidency for a time before he returned home in 1856.

He had been praised by Elder Erastus Snow, one of the Twelve Apostles of the L.D.S. Church, in a letter to Church President John Taylor, as someone who would “make a discreet presiding officer to lead settlements on the San Juan.”

Likewise, Kumen Jones, a member of the Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition, wrote in later years of Silas S. Smith as a “prudent, wise, resourceful man, particularly well equipped by nature and experience for a leader in that undertaking.” Jones noted that Smith’s familiarity with Indian languages and peoples, experience in civic legislation, and understanding of L.D.S. Church organization and history made him “the right man for that difficult work.”

Silas S. Smith was First President of San Luis Stake by Preston Nibley

Silas Sanford Smith was cousin of the Prophet Joseph Smith, a convert to the Church, resident of Nauvoo, pioneer ofUtah, early settler of Parowan, leader of first colonists toSan JuanCountyand first president of San Luis Stake inColorado.

Silas S. Smith was born atStockholm,New Yorkon October 26, 1830.  He was the son of Silas and Mary Aikens Smith.  His parents joined the church in 1835 and the following year moved toKirtland,Ohio.  In 1838 they journeyed toMissouri, where they witnessed the persecutions of the Latter-Day Saints and were forced Co flee toIllinois.  AtPittsfield, 111., in September 1839.  Silas Smith Sr. died: the mother then moved to Nauvoo, where she supported her two boys, Silas and Jesse by teaching school.

After the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith the heroic mother followed the leadership of Brigham Young in the exodus of the Saints to the West.  She and her sons arrived inSaltLakeValleyin the fall of 1847.  In 1850 Silas S., moved toCentervilleinDavisCountyand acquired a farm.   In 1851 he was married to Clarinda Ricks and during the same year was called to join the Iron County Mission at Parowan.

In May 1854 Silas was called to fill a mission to the Hawaiian-Islands.  This task he faithfully performed and returned to his home three years later.  In 1857 he moved to Paragonah, where he build a substantial home and maintained his residence for twenty years.  From 1869 to 1878 he served as bishop of that ward; he also representedIronCountyin the territorial legislature for twenty years.

In the spring of 1879 Silas was requested by the authorities of the church to take a small group of men and exploreSoutheastern Utah, for possible sites for settlements.  They located the site of Bluff and in the fall of the year he headed a large group who laboriously made their way across Southern Utah toSan JuanCounty. This  has  become  known  in history  as  the  “hole-in-the-rock” expedition.    “These  pioneer  settlers”  wrote  Andrew  Jenson, “experienced more hardships than any other colony in the history of the church, who have founded settlements in theRocky Mountains.

When the San Luis Stake, inColorado, was organized in 1883, Silas S. Smith was chosen as the president.  He moved to the new location and was very active for a number of years in obtaining proper title to the lands on which the Saints had settled.  Sanford Ward, established in 1888, was named in his honor.

After serving nine years as president of San Luis Stake, Silas S. Smith was released in 1892.  He was succeeded in the presidency by his son,  Albert Ricks Smith.   In 1897 he was ordained a patriarch.

Having spent his entire life on the frontier, Silas S. Smith returned toUtahin 1899 to engage in temple work.  He purchased a home atLayton, inDavisCounty, and died in that city on October 11, 1910.  Had he lived fifteen days longer he would have reached his 80th birthday.

Andrew Jenson paid him this  tribute:  “As  a missionary, explorer, pioneer,  legislator, military and civil officer, his services will live in the hearts.of the people, in whose interest he spent so many years.”

Published in the Desert News Paper in the Church Section Saturday, August 7, 1954.

An entry is found in Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah by Esshom which reads as follows:


October 26, 1830  Stockholm, St. Lawrence Co. N.Y. Came to Utah – September 24, 1847

Perrigrine Sessions Company

Pioneers and Prominent Men ofUtah  Pscrp. a 7


Silas Sanford Smith came toUtahwith the pioneers in 1847.  He was

seventeen years of age at the time.  With him were his mother, Mary Aikens Smith, and a younger brother, Jesse Nathaniel Smith.

This small New England family had but lately experienced some of the persecutions which the enemies of the Mormon Church had forced upon them and their relatives atNauvoo,Illinois, and vicinity. Their father and younger brother had both died and been buried along the way as they traveled from their New York home toward Nauvoo where they expected to build a new home and live a life among people of their own belief and ideals.  This was not to be, however, for persecution forced them to move on west with others of their kindred.

Kind friends helped them for a while, but the spirit of adventure and independence urged them on.  They endured without complaint the hardships of crossing the plains and the early life in theSaltLakeValley.

This was a deeply religious family and relied for guidance on the promptings of the Spirit and the helpful advice of their Church leaders.   Early in life they grasped a meaning to the great opportunity which life in Western America opened up to them, and they eagerly joined with their fellow associates to accomplish anything and all things which would promote and build the West into theZionthey envisioned.

In 1901 all but one of two of the journals and accounts of the labors and travels of Silas were inadvertently destroyed by fire. The ones left being very short accounts of some special incidents. To gather very much information, therefore, much research has been necessary into the journals and records kept by his associates, Church records, records of civic activities, newspaper accounts, and other avenues of period information.

Thanks and appreciation is expressed for encouragement and help given by William A. Lund and Preston Nibley of the office of the Church Historians Office, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Salt Lake City, and for courtesies extended; to the Utah Historical Society for the use of their Library facilities and for permission to quote from articles published in the Historical Quarterly; to the Church Genealogical Society for genealogical information,  and  for  the  privilege  of  consulting books  and magazines whose pages have offered background materials; to Edith S. Dibble and Stella Smith, youngest daughters of Silas S. Smith, for the privilege of the Diary of their father at the time of the Hole-in-the-Rock  which  has  been  hitherto  unpublished;  for interviews by family members and for remembered statements made by colonizers and by many Spanish neighbors and associates in Conejos County,  and for much help and encouragement given by my wife Blondel.


Silas Smith was born October 1, 1779, inDerryfield,New Hampshire. He was the 5th son and the 7th child in a family of 11 children born to Asael (Asahel) and Mary Duty Smith.  Silas was born during the American Revolution.  His father, Asael (Asahel), joined the army and his grandfather, Captain Samuel Smith was one of the army officers of the Boston Tea Party.   The family had lived inTopsfield,MassachusettsandDerryfield,New Hampshire.  By the time that Silas was 12 years old the family had moved from Derryfield toTunbridge,Vermont, where Silas grew up and with his brothers helped their father Asael (Asahel), clear and cultivate a nice piece of farm land.  This was to be their home for the next twelve or fourteen years.

At the age of 27, Silas met a Miss Ruth Stevens, also 27, of

Tunbridge,Vermontand they were married January 29, 1805.  Their first child, Charles, was born November 11, 1806.  In the summer of 1807, Silas with his wife Ruth and son Charles, and his father and mother Asael (Asahel) and Mary Duty Smith, moved from Tunbridge, Vermont, to Stockholm (near Potsdam) St. Lawrence County, New York, which was their home for the next 29 years.  Silas’s parents made their home with Silas and family here.

While living inStockholm,New York, six more children were born to Silas and Ruth:  Charity, born April 1, 1808, (but Charles died May 7, 1809.)   Curtis Stevens, born October 28, 1809; Samuel, born October 3, 1811, died March 7, 1825; Stephen, born January 8, 1815;

Susan born October 19, 1817; and Asahel born October 12, 1819.

Ruth Stevens Smith was the mother of five sons and two daughters. She died March 14, 1826, inStockholm,New York, at the age of 47, leaving Silas a widower with five living children.

About two years later, Silas married Mary Aikens,.,a school teacher inStockholm, March 4, 1828, and she bore him three sons, Silas Sanford, born October 25, 1830: John Aikens, born July 6, 1832: and Jesse Nathaniel, born December 2, 1834.

In the fall of 1828, while still living with his son Silas, Asael (Asahel) received a letter from his son Joseph Smith Sr., who was living at the time inManchester,New York, Chat startled the family.  It said that his son Joseph Smith Jun. had received some very remarkable visions.  Asael (Asahel) then said that he knew Chat God would raise up some branch of family to be a benefit to mankind.

In August, 1830, Joseph Sr., in company with his son Don Carlos, came toStockholmon a visit Co see his father and mother and brothers who were living there.  He brought copies of the Book of Mormon and a message of the restored Gospel.  Joseph first went to home of his brother Jesse to spend the night, but when he began to speak about the Book of Mormon Jesse grew very angry and said: “If you say another word about the Book of Mormon you shall not stay another minute in my house, and if I can’t get you out any other way I will hew you down with my broadax…” However, they spent the night with Jesse.  Next morning, they went to the home of Silas to visit with him and family and their father and mother.  As soon as the greetings were over, Joseph bore testimony to them of the restored Gospel and or the Book of Mormon, all of which his father and mother received with gladness.  But in a few minutes Jesse came in and hearing them talk about the Book of Mormon his anger grew as high as it did the night before, then he said: “My father’s mind is weak from sickness and I will not have it corrupted with such blasphemous stuff so just shut up.”  Joseph reasoned mildly with him but it did no good.  Then Silas said: “Jesse, our brother and his son Don Carlos have come to make us a visit and I am glad to see them and I am willing that they talk as they please in my house.”  But Jesse replied in so insulting and abusive manner that Silas had to tell him to leave the house.

Silas and his father and mother accepted the message and the Book of Mormon which they believed.  Asael (Asahel) read the book nearly through and said: “It is of God,” before he died October 31, 1836, without an opportunity to join the Church.

Ruth Stevens’ youngest son Asahel died May 15, 1834, leaving two sons and two daughters living.

Silas and Mary Aikens Smith, by this time, had two sons, Silas Sanford and John Aikens.  Jesse Nathaniel was born seven months later, December 2, 1834.

Because of the opposition of his wife Mary Aikens and the children of Ruth Steven, Silas did not join the Church until August 1835, then he was baptized by Hyrum Smith,

In May of 1836, Silas, in company with Mary Aikens, her three boys, Silas, John, and Jesse, and two of Ruth Stevens’ boys, Curtis and Stephen, and Grandmother Mary Duty Smith, age 93, left Stockholm, New York, for Kirtland, Ohio, a distance of five hundred miles, arriving there May 18, 1836.  Mary Duty Smith then enjoyed a visit with her children and grandchildren living in Kirtland, but died soon after on May 27,  1836,  and was buried near theKirtlandTemple.

After his mother died, Silas returned toStockholm,New York, to see his daughters Charity and Susan who remained when the family moved to Kirtland, also to take care of some unfinished business. His brother Joseph and John had been doing missionary work in the New England states, and on their way back home had stopped in Stockholm to see their brother Jesse, and had gone on as far as Potsdam, New York, when Jesse pursued them with a warrant on a trumped up charge for $12.00, bringing Joseph back Co Stockholm to answer the charges, and was abusing him shamefully before strangers and exacting $50.00 of him, which he did not have.  AC this point, Silas, having finished his business, came by to see Jesse and family before going back to Kirtland, and rather than have more trouble, Silas paid Jesse the $50.00.

During their residence of two years in Kirtland, Mary Aikens Smith joined the Church and was baptized July 18, 1837, by Hyrum Smith. Silas’s son Curtis and Stephen did not join the Church,  but returned to St. Lawrence County, New York.

Jesse N. Smith wrote: “My father with his family commenced their journey toCaldwell County,Missouri, where some members of the Church were then being located.  After suffering many privations by the way, we arrived atHuntsville,Missouri, at which place we were met by an armed mob and turned back.”

They had previously fallen in with a few brethren of the Church and they  turned back  together  and  settled  on  the  bank  of  the Mississippi River on theMissouriside where they constructed temporary huts in which they passed the winter of 1838-39.  At this miserable location, Silas buried his son John Aikens.  In March, he removed toPike County,Illinois, where he presided over a branch of the Church inPittsfield,Illinois.

In April, Silas attended the first conference of the Church inQuincy,Illinois.  In July, he visited Nauvoo in the sickly season of the year and had an interview with his brothers Joseph, Asahel, and John, also with his nephews Hyrum, Joseph and Don Carlos. After a pleasant visit he returned to remove his family to Nauvoo when he was taken sick with chills and fever which terminated in quick consumption of which he died on the 13th of September, 1839, between 8 and 9 o’clock in the evening.

If he had lived until the first day of October, he would have beer-sixty years of age.

He was buried nearPittsfield,Illinois, on a farm where some of the saints are buried.

Jesse N. Smith wrote: “My father was one of Nature’s Noblemen.  In person, he was six feet in height and well proportioned.  His usual weight was near two hundred pounds, and he was noted for having great personal strength.”

His talents were of a most commanding order but his education was somewhat limited.  His father removed fromNew HampshiretoVermontin the early settlement of that State when common schools were scarce, as were also more extensive institutions of learning.

“My father removed fromVermonttoNew Yorkin 1807.”

“I think I will not be extravagant in saying that my father was calculated to shine in theSocial Circle, the Hall of State, and the Tented Field.”

“He was a man of good moral character and taught his children the principles of morality, of rectitude and honor.”

“My mother was a fit companion for him.  She was the daughter of Nathaniel Aikens and Mary Tupper and was born August 13, 1797, in Bernard,Winsor County,Vermont.”

Silas Smith and Ruth Stevens and Mary Aikens were typical, hardy New England Pioneers and true descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers.

(The information and dates have been taken from the writings of Jesse N. Smith and Edith A. Smith.  — D.C.S.)

His mother, Mary Duty Smith, accompanied them to Kirtland, of which event the Prophet records in his journal: “May 18, 1836, my Uncle Silas Smith and family arrived from the East.  My father (Joseph Smith Sr.), three of his brothers and families, and their mother, met the first time for many years.  She had come 500 miles to see her children.  It was a happy day, for we had long prayed to see our grandmother and uncles in the Church.  She had desired baptism, but had not been baptized because of her eldest son Jesse, who had always been an enemy to the work, and also due to her age.  On May 27, 1836 after a few days’ visit with her children, which she enjoyed extremely well, she fell asleep without sickness, pain, or regret, in her 93rd year.  She was buried in the burial ground near theTempleat Kirtland.

Mary Aikens Smith was baptized July 18, 1837, by Hyrum Smith.  She did not come  into the Church,  however,  until  she was fully convinced of its truthfulness.   It is recorded that sometime previous to her baptism, on Sunday morning, she had taken her little son Jesse to the Presbyterian Church.  The services had not been interesting to her, and after the concluding ceremonies, the front view of theKirtlandTemple was very vividly presented before her eyes, and these words borne upon her mind: “There thy best friends and kindred dwell, there Christ thy Savior reigns.”  From this contemplation she was aroused by the shouts of Jesse, “Mother, get the dumbelly (umbrella) and let’s go home.”  They left that Church never to return to it again.  Mary Aikens Smith had a real Soul’s conviction of the truth, or she would never have had the fortitude and the strength or courage Co have met the harrowing, heartbreaking experiences Chat were ahead of her.

The Smith family were among the throng that leftKirtland,Ohio, forFar West,Missouri, traveling with a horse team; one horse having died — they remained nearLouisiana,Pike County,Missouri, from April to September,  when they were met by several other families and pursued their journey.  Before reaching their destination they were met by Gov. Boggs’ Extermination Order to the effect that all the Mormons should leave the state on pain of death. They turned back and the winter was passed on the West Bank of theMississippi River, where they built a few log cabins. It was very difficult to get any grinding done and they had to boil or hull the corn weeks at a time.   It was under these distressing circumstances that their son, John Aikens Smith, died on November 27, 1838, age 6 years. He was buried in the graveyard in the woods about three miles from camp.

On February 21,. 1839, the company crossed the river intoIllinois, where they were offered land to cultivate and settle upon nearPittsfield.   Others joined them..and a branch of the church was organized.   Silas Smith was appointed President, having been ordained a High Priest inKirtland,Ohio. It was here that his son Silas was baptized and confirmed, July 26, 1839. He went to attend a special conference being held at Commerce (later known as Nauvoo), where he saw the Prophet, Hyrum, and his brothers, Joseph, Asahel, John and their families. They counseled him to move his family there without delay, and he returned home with that intention.  He was taken very sick soon after, and continued to decline until he died September 13, 1839 at 8:00 p.m.   He was buried near where they lived at a spot where others of the Branch were laid.   (He had been ordained an Elder at the conference of Eiders, held inKirtland,Ohio, March 3, 1838. In the capacity of Captain of Militia, he went fromStockholm, theSt. Lawrence River, during the War of 1812.)

New trials now awaited the family, showing the affectionate helpfulness of kind neighbors.

At the time of the father’s death, Jesse was dangerously ill. His brother Silas had the misfortune of getting the bone of his right thigh broken in a fall, and the mother had one of her feet badly scalded. In this discress Brother Chandler Rogers and family came to their relief, removing them to their home and caring for their wants. Here they stayed for six weeks. When Brother Rogers moved them to Nauvoo, the Prophet provided them a room where they remained through March and April of 1840. John Smith, brother of Silas, had the family move over to Ambrosia, Lee County, Iowa, and live near him. A log cabin was built for them where they lived until the spring of 1841. They later moved three miles distance. The house was moved for them, where the mother and her two small sons took up two acres of land and hired it fenced, giving an old wagon for the service. They planted corn and the neighbors, being very kind, someone gave them a pig.   A very pretty story is recorded of how Brigham young passed their way and hearing Mother Smith relate how disappointed she had been over her spoiled grist, offered to carry the sack back to the mill and have it ground over again, and despite all remonstrances, he took the sack and marched off with it, dryly remarking to the miller, “The widow’s meal is too coarse for her sieve.” When the grist came back the second time, it was all that could be asked in the way of meal.

In February, 1843 the family moved back to Nauvoo.  The Prophet gave them a house with two rooms and a lot.   She showed her resourcefulness by teaching school through the summer.  The record states that on August 13, 1843, Jesse was baptized, and the same day the mother was sealed to John Smith for time, and to her husband for eternity, President Joseph Smith officiating.

This good mother was anxious that her boys be put in a position where they could learn to work, so she moved out into the country where they hired out to the farmers. Silas age 14 and Jesse 10. The man Jesse worked for was “very profane and abusive,  and overworked him so that the mother took him back to Nauvoo.  On Sundays, Silas would come home eleven miles besides crossing theMississippi River, and return the same night.  In the fall, Silas came home, and the boys dug potatoes on shares and secured fuel for the winter.  The mother was taken sick with chills and fever.  (She went to the temple and received her endowments)

During the summer of 1846, the mob spirit broke out with more violence than before the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum.  John Smith and family had left, going West, and many of the people who could not endure the persecutions were growing lukewarm in their faith, and they tried to persuade the widow to join them and not go with the Saints to the West.  This she refused to do, and during all these troubles, an opportunity came for them to go.  Uncle John had sent a team and wagon, and they set about making preparations for the journey.  Jesse writes:  “I gave away my dog, which was a great trial for me.  We killed our pigs, and disposed of a few of our household things to the neighbors.  One thing I also counted as a trial — we left a large book of Grandfather Asahel Smith’s writings — also some papers which we had clung to in all our movings.  Leaving the family clock, endeared by association, we at once set out, driving our two cows, and my heart “-bounded within me though a child, as we turned our backs on an intolerant world, which had persecuted so many of our kindred and friends unto death.”  They reached Winter Quarters the last day of November, 1846,  and  were  welcomed  by  Uncle  John’s  folks  and  their acquaintances.

On the 9th day of June, 1847, the family started for the mountains. The company was known as Parley’s Company, with Perrigrene Sessions as the Captain of 50.  It was a long train of wagons, horses, men, women and children who trudged their way westward toward theRockies.  Day after day, week after week, through hostile Indian lands, past herds of buffalo, rough roads, and swollen streams they traveled onward.   Even at their young age, the boys took their regular turns driving livestock, teams and oxen, and of standing guard at night to protect their livestock from being driven off by the Indians.   It was a joyful day after four months when they reached the Valley of Salt Lake on September 25, 1847.  They were in the second company to arrive in the Valley.

Their first winter in the Valley was one of real privation.  The people were put on rations and there were months when their hunger was never appeased.   Their living quarters were imperfect and uncomfortable.

In the spring they moved with others to Mill Creek, some six miles South of the City, where they fenced and planted a few acres of corn, beans, and peas.  As the cultivated acres commenced to give promise of a bounteous harvest, the self-sacrificing and partly-starved toilers were confronted a new and unforeseen terror.

The ravenous and destructive crickets suddenly appeared.  If there was a time when the providence of the Almighty might be doubted, this was the time, but the sequel of the story of how the gulls saved the crops by destroying the crickets furnished evidence that God was still in the Heavens and was mindful of his distressed people.  The family spent another very hard winter, and in the spring of 1849 they had an opportunity to open up a farm near whereFarmingtonis now built.  A man by the name of Thomas Grover was going toCaliforniaand offered them the use of his team and land. Here they lived under a bowery and slept in a covered wagon box. They were given a yoke of oxen for the improvements made.  They then rented a farm atCentervilleand were given half they produced.  The mother made ‘cheese and sold it to the emigrants. For four years the struggle for existence continued.  On July 9, 1851, Silas and Clarinda Ricks, daughter of Joel Ricks and Eleanor Martin, were married.


This young couple, Silas S. and Clarinda Ricks Smith, planned to make their permanent home atBountiful.  They had not progressed far, however, when in the fall of that same year they, with some other families, were called by President Brigham young to settle at Parowan inSouthern Utah.   This call also included Mother Mary Aikens Smith and her youngest son Jesse N. (1)

In answer to the call, their land atBountiful, their small home and city lot inSalt Lake City, and other items which they could spare, were sold and the proceeds used to purchase a wagon and supplies to take them to their new location.

On July 6, 1851, Silas and Jesse N. were both ordained to the office of Elder in the Church by their Uncle John Smith, who was a Patriarch.  He also gave each of the boys a Patriarchal Blessing, in which they were promised blessings of health and strength, possessions, leadership, children, and many other wonderful things, contingent of course on their faithfulness to the Lord and His purposes.


Their traveling outfit consisted of a wagon, one horse team, one ox team, and a few cows.  At Payson, which was then the nearest town on the road to Parowan,  they were joined by other families traveling to the same place and an organization was made with W. H. Dame as captain and leader.  They proceeded on their way, and in spite of Indian threats, arrived at their destination unmolested. At Parowan they were offered shelter in the home of Joel H. Johnson and family, which they accepted and moved into a part of the Johnson house for a short time.

(1.) Journal, Jesse N. Smith-by Jesse N. Smith Family,Salt Lake City1953.                        ..


During the fall of 1851, Silas and his brother Jesse constructed the first log building inCedarCityto help pay for the use of the Johnson home in Parowan.   Both brothers were with their Uncle George A. Smith when the town ofCedarCity was located.  That same year the two brothers acquired some land near Parowan and in the spring of  1852  they worked together,  clearing,  plowing,  and planting.  A fairly good crop of wheat and corn was raised, as well as an abundance of garden products.  They lived well that winter, In the spring or 1853 Silas went toSalt Lake Cityto attend conference.  When he returned, he brought with him his second wife, Sarah Ann Ricks, as sister to his first wife Clarinda.  They were married 17 March, 1853.


On April 7, 1854, Silas received a call along with others to do missionary work in the Hawaiian (then called the Sandwich)Islands. He was told to be ready to start about the 20th of May with a company which was coming along with President Brigham Young on his scheduled visit toSouthern Utahat that time. (2)   Time for preparation was short, but Silas exerted every effort and was ready to start when the company arrived.  Additional missionaries bound for the Islands and with the President’s company were:  Joseph F. Smith, Silas Smith (a cousin to SilasSanford), Simpson M. Molen, George Spurs, Ward E. Pack, William W. Cluff, Eli Bell, John R. Young, and Sextus E. Johnson.

With Brigham Young and company the missionaries traveled as far asCedarCitywhere they parted company.  The missionaries went on across the desert and the company with President Young started north towardSalt Lake City.


AtCedarCitythe little company of missionaries were reorganized with Apostle Parley P. Pratt as leader, and they began their journey in earnest across the Southern Desert toCalifornia.  They found numerous Pah-Ute Indians along theSanta ClaraandRioVirginRiversand as far South as the Mountain Springs.  These Indians would follow the group for days and gather around their camp at night all hungry, and some almost famished, for the want of food. There was no alternative but to share the food with them, which they did with as much economy as possible, in order to keep them friendly until the missionary group could pass beyond the limits of the Pah-Ute Country.  The result was that during the last few days of the journey they were forced to subsist on very short rations. They consumed the last crumb of their supplies on the morning they reached theCajonPassand from- here going hungry until they reached San Bernardine.  Here they met with warm friends who made them welcome to the best they had.

From here Apostle Pratt proceeded toSan Franciscoby steamboat,

but the missionaries remained here for several weeks  finding employment in the service of members of the church mostly at the saw and shingle mills.

While atSan Bernardino, a company of Australian Saints immigrating toUtahunder the guidance of Elder William Hyde came in and, lucky for the missionary group, these Saints needed wagons and animals for which they were glad to pay cash.  The missionary group was not long disposing of their outfits and the money thus received, together with what they had been able to earn while working there, paid their expenses to theIslands.

Early in July theirSan Bernardinofriends took the missionary group to San Pedro by way ofEl MonteandLos Angeleswhere they took a steamer toSan Francisco.  They made the trip in three days. Here they met Apostle Parley P. Pratt, who had, in connection with Nathan Tanner and others, arranged for the purchase of the Brig “Roslyn”, with a view to applying her in some kind of trade between the between the coast and Islands.

Our company of missionaries was detailed to commence work on the vessel to put her in repair and get her ready for sea duty, it being designed that the missionaries should play the role of seamen on their voyage to theIslands.

A requisition was made upon the missionaries for what money they had.  This was freely turned over to Apostle Pratt to make payment on the purchase of the vessel.   A number of the missionaries continued to labor on the old vessel, but a few who were not well adapted as ships’ carpenters, secured employment in the harvest fields across the bay,  thus they worked until the project of entering into the Marine Commercial Business with the old “Roslyn” was abandoned and the old ship sold.

All our money was returned to us, and passage for the greater number of our party was secured on board the Clipper “Vaquero” forHonolulu.  The ship’s cabin was full, and there being no steerage accommodations, arrangements were made for the missionaries to occupy a portion of the forecastle with the sailors.  Being put in with this rough, profane, and reckless crew was anything but an agreeable or an inspiring position for missionaries to associate with.

No sooner than the ship had passed theGolden Gatethan she entered a calm and they lay tossing in sight of the gate, scarcely moving, for two days.  Calm succeeded calm, and so they loitered on their course, finally casting anchor inHonoluluHarboron September 27, 1854, about twenty seven days after leavingSan FranciscoBay. Another group of nine missionaries soon arrived.  In the company were: Henry P. Richards, Washington B. Rogers, John T. Caine, Orson K. Whitney, John A. West, James A. Peck, Edward Partridge, Smith B. Thurston, and William King.

In the absence of Silas’ missionary journals of the period, little is recorded of his work except that he soon became proficient in the use of the Hawaiian language, traveled extensively among the people of theIslands, meeting and teaching many of them the gospel.   He presided for a time over the mission,  received missionaries and directed the labors of many new arriving elders. He also assisted in building up organizations officered by native members.

For a time he had trouble learning to use the native food, and suffered several severe periods of sickness while in theIslands. Silas was released from this mission in the early summer of 1856. A note in the journal of his brother Jesse N. Smith gives the date stating as follows: July 11, 1856,  “Received a letter from my brother Silas telling me he was released from his mission and on his way home.”   Then,  on November 1,  1856,  the same journal records:  “Silas reached home having come fromCaliforniaby the Northern route.” (3)

Commenting on the return journey home, Silas states that he reachedSan Franciscoat’harvest time.  The grain fields were ripe, and the harvest beginning.  While waiting for a company going toUtah, he decided to get work in order to earn money to pay his passage home. He was 32 years of age and an expert in the use of the cradle for harvesting grain.  His service was in great demand, and he worked there until November.

Through his work,  he was not only able to pay well for his transportation home, but saved money enough to purchase new winter clothes for his family and food for the balance of the year.

3.  J.N. Smith Journal, page 26


Silas had no time to be idle.  It was soon learned that a U.S. Army was on its way toUtahto bring the officers and people into submission for alleged hostility toward the National Government and acts of treason.  The Indians were agitated by existing conditions and had to be watched constantly.   Food supplies had to be carefully guarded and stored.  Horses and cattle serving the only means of transportation, and for much of the needed food, had to be conditioned and kept ready to supply their power if and when needed.   People also were in the alarm stage and many of them frantic because of the existing, -conditions.   For a time, every able-bodied man in each community in the state was alerted and given some phase of military training in order to be prepared to help repel the army, if necessary.

One of the first duties given to Silas, on his return home, was to organize and train a group of men to help protect the people against the Indians who were seemingly becoming very hostile against the Mormon people.  This condition was thought to have been brought about through the influence of the enemies of the Mormon people who had drifted into the state.  At any rate, Indian raids were becoming more frequent and many horses and cattle were stolen. To recover the stolen livestock, it was necessary to follow the thieves and oft-times risk their lives in the encounters which followed when  they were  overtaken.    Had his  journals  been preserved, many thrilling stories of his contacts and skirmishes with the Indians could have been secured for record in this writing.  Suffice it to say that in the military organization in this region of the Territory, he advanced from Sergeant to Major and regarded as a careful, diligent, and crafty leader.

He  understood  and  talked  several  Indian  languages  and  was frequently called into the treaty and peace meetings.  He had great sympathy for the state of the Indians and did much to promote their welfare.  Kumen Jones, in his writings of the colonization of San Juan County, pays courteous tribute to Silas S. Smith and Thales H. Haskell for their wise, friendly, and fair treatment in their deals with the Indians which enabled them to maintain friendly relations with the “descendants of Lehi” with whom they were forced to associate. (4)


An attempt to bring additional water to Parowan from Red Creek east of that place failed, and in 1852 the town ofParagonah, four and one half miles northeast of Parowan, was founded by William H. Dame and a group of other families from Parowan and surrounding country.


Paragonah is know as the coldest place inIronCounty, and yet some of the hardier kinds of fruits and all kinds of small grains are raised there.  It is located at the foot of theWasatchMountainsand the farms and gardens are watered from the streams of Red Creek and Little Creek.

The townsite was surveyed like other small towns inUtahand given the name of Paragonah which in the Indian language means “Warm Water.” About twenty families moved to the town, and by the end of 1852 these energetic people had built a number of homes and a fort 105 feet square to protect themselves from the Indians.

Because of Indian threats, however, the settlement was temporarily vacated in 1853, and the people moved to Parowan, returning in groups to irrigate and harvest -their crops.   Paragonah was not resettle again until 1855.

At this time, Silas built a comfortable home for his family.  This stands today in a chosen spot and is a substantial monument to his foresight and industry.


History records that on August 10, 1859, at an election held in Iron andWashingtonCounties, respectively, George A. Smith was elected a member of the Legislative Council of the territory and William Crossby and Silas S. Smith were elected representatives. These men attended regular Legislative sessions that year and the special session of  1860 during which Silas S.  was appointed chairman of the Committee on Counties and a member of the Election Committee. (5)

On December 24, 1860, Silas was appointed Probate Judge forIronCountyand served the citizens of that county until the time of his move toSan Juan County,Utah, and theSanLuisValleyinColoradoin 1882. (6)

5.  L.D.S. Journal History,DeseretNews, August 10, 1859.

6.  L.D.S. Journal History,DeseretNews, December 24, 1960.


For a decade,  1855 to 1865, many new settlements were made in Southern Utah — some locating east of the Wasatch along the Sevier and head waters of the Virgin Rivers and into theArizonastrip.

The colonizers,  of course,  brought many livestock,  especially horses, cattle, and sheep which they grazed on the open range.

These animals multiplied fast and in a measure consumed much of the edible seeds and fruits upon which the Indians defended for food.


As a consequence, begging the towns became common, and depredations on the range increased.  This condition was given impetus by roving bands of Navajos which began crossing the Colorado River, dividing into small groups and making raids on the settlers — driving off their livestock to and across theColorado Riverbefore they could be caught.

In order to protect  themselves,  a military organization was maintained in each settlement with a commander over each group. All the members held themselves ready to move on short notice to the defense or’help of any community reporting Indian raids.

Beginning about 1860, these Indian’raids became more frequent, and in November of that year, George A. Smith Jr. was shot by an Indian and killed.  This was followed a little later by the killing of Dr. James M. Whitmore and his son-in-law Robert Mclntyre at Pipe Springs. Other depredations followed, resulting in the organizing of the Southern Utah Military District which involved Beaver, Iron,WashingtonandKaneCounties.   Erastus Snow of St. George was elected Brigadier General.

The Black Hawk War started in 1865 involving the Indians in theSevierValleywho were aided by renegade Navajos from across theColorado.  This war cost a great amount of money, and about seventy settlers lost their lives before it was settled in 1868.  During this period, Silas S. Smith proved to be an efficient, active and careful military leader.

“The threat of the Utes inUpperSevierValleyalso became acute. Menacing behavior of the Indians in this area and in the Kanab Region led to an order fromUtahheadquarters to General Erastus Snow (March 15, 1866) to send a company of men from Beaver and Iron Counties over to theSevier Riverto build and man an outpost be­tween Circleville and Panguitch.  A company of seventy-six men led by Captain Silas S. Smith served here from March .2,1 to November 20, 1866.   They establishedFortSanfordabout ten miles north of Panguitch and assisted settlers at Circleville to move to safety. At Panguitch they helped the settlers transform the town into a fort.” (7)

“When Silas S. Smith, stationed on the Sevier, heard of the Berry Massacre, he found that the Piute chief at Panguitch had known about it for five days without reporting it to him.  Smith at once ordered pickets to bring in all passing Indians for questioning. Friendly Indians responded readily, but when two strange Indians refused, a skirmish resulted in which one was killed and the other wounded.”  (8)

7. UtahHistorical Quarterly, Vol. 12, Page 169-171

8.  Ibid. Page 169-171


In October, 1866, the John F. Lee Ranch on South Creek, about 8 miles  from  Beaver,  was  attacked by  Piute  Indians.    Joseph Lillywhite, a worker at the ranch, was wounded; cattle and horses were stolen.  Silas S. Smith was sent with a small military group from Parowan to assist the settlers at Beaver.

In a letter to Brigham Young, Silas described the incident as follows; “The Indians attacked John P. Lee at his ranch on South Creek,  eight miles south of Beaver,  at daylight the 23 inst. shooting one man when he first came out of the house in the morning — inflicting a severe wound in the shoulder.  Two’ children escaped through a back window and ran to Beaver for assistance.

“The Indians attempted to force open the door, but were beaten off by Brother Lee by firing through it.  They then attempted to set fire to the house.  Brother Lee was successful in putting out the fire with some buckets of milk and further succeeded in beating off attacks, thus saving the lives of his wife and children.”

“The Indians took the cattle from his corral and drove them off. A party from. Beaver reached the ranch about two hours after the Indians had gone and started in pursuit.  They found cattle killed along the way but were unable to head the Indians off by nightfall and had to abandon the chase.” (9)

The Black Hawk War was settled in 1868 by treaty and although the Utah Indians  (Utes and Piutes) became less dangerous and more friendly, the Navajos continued to give trouble by their frequent raids on theSouthern Utahand Northern Arizona Mormon colonies. An estimate made by Elder Ammon Teeney shortly after 1870 stated Chat these Indians had up to that time stolen more than a million dollars worth of cattle and horses from these colonies.

Smith decided to disarm the local Indians and surrounded one of their camps near Panguitch one morning before daylight and took their arms.  Two visiting Indians were missing from the camp, so he kept a guard waiting their arrival.  When they came, they showed fight.  One of them was killed, whereupon the other surrendered. The next day Smith surrounded another camp soon after sunrise, but most of the natives had already fled.  However, in a later ensuing melee, two more Indians were killed.  The arms taken from them included several guns, many new arrows, and a peck of new arrow points.  Some escaped toPanguitchLakeand spread the alarm among the Indians there.

Until the end of the Black Hawk War in 1868, his military duties occupied the greater part of his time.  These duties together with

civic and religious responsibilities gave him only little time to develop the farm and livestock business which he had begun some years before.  He, however, built a comfortable home for his family and spent as much time with his wife and children as his duties allowed.

9.  Journal History  October 23, 1866


On March 19, 1864, his wife Clarinda died leaving a family of four children, the eldest of which was 11.  His second wife Sally Ann took over the duty of caring for this motherless family, but she was in delicate’ health, and on June 30 of the same year died at the birth of her fifth child.   This left Silas with two motherless families of nine children, the eldest 11 years and the youngest but 3 weeks old.  Help had to be secured immediately, and for little more than a year, relatives and neighbors cared for the children. Some of the children were taken to Parowan, some toCedarCity, and some to Fillmore and Meadow Creek where there were relatives who would take care of them.  Silas kept track of them all and tried to spend as much time as possible with each group.  It was a great hardship, and he planned for the time when he could gather them all together into one home again.

On July 19, 1865, little more than a year after the death of his wife Sally Ann, he married Martha Eliza Bennett of Meadow Creek, a daughter of Hyrum Bell and Martha Smith Bennett.  Martha was quite young to undertake the responsibility of so large a family all at once, but like the fine mother she was, she gave all possible care to the young motherless children, helping to rear them all to maturity as well as having a family of twelve children of her own.


Through the instrumentality of Jacob Hamblin and Lieutenant Powell, a treaty was made with these Indians on November 5,  1870, atDefiance,New Mexico, and for a time after, considerable trade was carried on by the Mormon settlers and Navajos.  Misunderstanding arose because of the killing of some Indians on the South Fork of the Sevier by some non-Mormons, and these outlaw tribes again resorted to raiding the settlements, stealing livestock, and either killing them or driving them into the rough Colorado River Country where they could not be recovered without aid of a large army.

Jacob Hamblin’s services were again relied upon to settle this difficulty.   In January,  1874, Hamblin left Kanab alone on a mission to try to pacify these thousands of savage Indians.  This was a very dangerous and grave undertaking, and after starting on this journey, messengers were sent advising him of the dangers and for him to return, but he declared, “I have been appointed to a mission by the highest authority of God on earth.  My life is of small moment compared to the lives of the Saints and the interests of thekingdomofGod.  I am determined to trust in the Lord and go on.”

At Moen CopiWash,Arizona, he was joined by J.E. Smith and brother (non-Mormons) .  They proceeded to the Navajo camps east of Moen Copi and succeeded in having the Chiefs call a council.   This proved to be one of the most dramatic and perhaps the most dangerous encounter ever had by this old missionary.   After 11 hours of constant questioning and threatening,  the three were released, but again in April of the same year some of the young chiefs,  not exactly satisfied with the results of the former council, planned to attack the missionaries and settlers at Moen Copi.   Word of this intended attack reached some of theUtahvillages and a•party of 35 men including Hamblin and Teeney under the leadership of John R. Young was sent to their relief.  The arrival of this reinforcement was.’just in time, and the attack was prevented.  (10)


  1. McClintock, “Mormon Settlement,Arizona”, page 76


Settlement ofUtahhad advanced in a satisfactory manner in all parts except that area east of theColorado Riverbefore the death of President Brigham Young.   To this date, the only settlement attempted there was one atMoabin 1850 designed to be headquarters for the so-called Elk Mountain Mission.  This colony had to be abandoned before it got fairly under way because of the resentment of the Indians in that neighborhood. Moabwas not again reoccupied until 1880.  Price was settled in 1879 and although settlements at Kanab and on the  Parea were made  in 1865,  they had to be temporarily abandoned on account of Indian Troubles.

Soon after this last peace treaty, and by arrangement with the younger Indian chiefs, missionaries were again sent into this area and though their work and the friendship of Chief Hastels and other reasonably-minded sub-chiefs,  a plan was evolved to colonize Northeastern and Eastern Arizona, Southeastern Utah, Northern New Mexico and South Central Colorado.   Much work was needed to preserve and increase the friendship of the Indians in this section as well as to secure a foothold for land and to acquire range and grazing rights in the four-corners country which, because of its lush grass and extensive grazing areas,  was being entered by stockmen from states as far away as Texas.  These newcomers were not always friendly to Utahns and in as much as large areas of land had already been withdrawn from the originalUtahterritory, it was conjectured that this area might also be taken away unless occupied by Mormon people.


1.  Some mineral discoveries had been reported where gold could be panned and mined easily.  This resulted in a rush of prospectors and the consequent stripping of the area of its natural resources.

2.  Persecution of Church leaders by Federal Agents under the recently passed Edmunds Tucker Law was heavy, and many of these leaders looked to these remote outposts as a place of refuge for a time, or until adjustments could be made.

3.  Immigration of new converts to the State was at a high rate and in the larger centers the communities were having food and industrial troubles: consequently, new areas had to be developed to care for these newly converted people.  Most of them knew nothing of irrigation farming and had to have training in’ this method before they could maintain themselves.

4.  As new and larger areas were taken up, the need for experienced

irrigation farmers became acute and it became the policy of the Church leaders to call experienced men from the established centers to locate in the new settlements to train inexperienced farmers and to make sure that ample food supplies could be provided.

5.  Cattle and horses provided the sole motive power, and cattle a good proportion of the food.  Both were used, to a large extent, as a means of exchange, hence extensive grazing area were needed.

6.  In the years 1876-78, many converts were made to the Church inGeorgia,Tennessee,Alabama, andMississippiwho desired to come west, and an appeal was made to Church Leaders to find a suitable location for them.  Reports were current that such suitable lands could be had inColoradoalong theRio Grandeand its tributaries and in northernNew Mexicoon the upper branches of theSan Juan.

Before the death of President Brigham Young in 1877, Church leaders were  seriously considering  the  establishment  of  colonies  in Northern Arizona,New Mexico, andSouthern Colorado. (11)

Some exploration into these sections had already been done.  In

June,  1878,  Elders Snow and Ivans and others returning from missions toMexico, passed through some of these locations, saw possible areas suitable for colonization, and so reported their findings.

Communication had already been made by Elder John Morgan, President of the Southern States Mission, with Church leaders relative to a location for a large number of Saints fromGeorgia,Alabama, andMississippiwho desired to locate nearer the Church headquarters where they might have the advantage of their Church organizations and teachings without interference from their enemies.(12)

In Church council a decision was made to locate settlements in these proposed areas, the first to be a colony on theSan Juan Rivernear the Four Corners Area.

11.  Church Chronology,L.D.S.Church, by Andrew Jensen,Asst.ChurchHistorian, Page 101

12.  Ibid, Page 102, 103


On December 29, 1878, Erastus Snow wrote to President John Taylor recommending Silas S. Smith of Paragonah as a discrete presiding officer to lead settlements on theSan JuanorSalt River.

President Taylor answered in a letter to Apostle Snow dated January 9, 1879, as follows:   “In regard to Elder Silas S. Smith, the Council voted unanimously that if it be in accordance with his feelings,  that he lead a colony to settle on the San Juan or wherever point may be deemed advisable.”

Copies of these decisions were given to Silas S. Smith who, after counseling with Church leaders, accepted the mission and began laying plans to accomplish it.  (13)

Decision was made to first send out an exploring party to chart the road and locate lands suitable for making a settlement.  Decision was made for this party to go by way of Lee’s Ferry and Moen Copi, which was as far as the road was then known, and then to pioneer and scout out a new road through the unknown Indian Region from there to the San Juan River.

13.  Typescript copy letter, in hands of Albert E. Smith.


On April 14, 1879, this scouting party, .consisting of 26 men, 2 women, and 8 children, was ready to start.  In the meantime, the area to be scouted was designated as the Green River Mission with Silas S.  Smith as president,  and he was asked to visit,  if possible, the prospective areas recommended for colonization inColoradoandNew Mexico.

In addition to the personnel, the outfit consisted of 6 wagons, 10 head of loose horses, and 30 head of cattle.  They were equipped for a 6 month expedition.

Personnel of the exploring party were: Silas S. Smith and his sons Silas S. Jr., John A. Smith, Jesse J. Smith and Albert R. Smith, all from Paragonah.  Isaac Alien, James Adams, Hanson Bayles, Parley R. Butt, James B. Decker, Jachariah Decker, James Harvey Dunton,  Nielson B.  Dalley,  John C.  Dalton,  George B. Hobbs,HarrisonR.  Harriman,  wife  and  four  children,  and Adelbert McGregor, from Parowan.  Robert Bullock, Thomas Balden, John C. Duncan, James L. Davis, wife and four children,  John Gower H. Joseph Nielsen, Kumen Jones. George Perrv, and George Urie fromCedarCity.   Two or three others joined the company as they proceeded.   John Butler is listed as joining the company at Panguitch, and Hamilton Thornton a Pinto Creek.  At Moen Kopi they were joined by three others: Thales H. Haskell, an Indian Guide, and a man by the name of Seth Tanner.  Thales Haskell probably did not accompany the party all the way to theSan Juan Riverat this time.

The road traveled thus far had been fairly well-marked, but from here on to the river, the route was across unknown territory.  Time was taken at Moen Kopi to recondition their horses, re-shoe them, and see that they were well fed before going on.

John W. Young, a son of President Brigham Young, was at Moen Kopi with some others building a small woolen mill with which to assist the Indians in disposing of their wool.  Also there at the time was Wilford Woodruff, who later succeeded John Taylor as President of the Church, and some Indian missionaries.

The cattle and horses taken along had now traveled over a rough road for more than 250 miles, and many were sore-footed.  Also, it was considered risky to attempt to take loose stock through the wild, rough Navajo land ahead.  It was decided to leave them at Moen Kopi and return for them later when a roadway had been fairly well marked out.

Mrs. Davis was not well, and theDavisfamily decided to remain at Moen Kopi until location for the new settlement had been made.


The company left Moen Kopi on May 7 traveling toward the river through practically unknown Navajo country inhabited by hostile tribes of Indians and having to make their own roads.  They had a variety of experiences before they reached the rj-ver.  Water was always a serious consideration, and scouts were sent out ahead of the caravan to locate water and camp sites.  Indians were a

constant menace and many of them resented the entrance of the white man into their country.  In a few places the company was only able to secure water by digging wells which, after supplying the campers were given to the Indians, thus creating some good will among them.


At one point it seemed that the company would perish of thirst. The scouts returned reporting no water, and no likely places for digging for it.   The company was in. critical condition.   The Indians with them were also in distress for want of water.  Some of them related that their ancestors had spoken of a spring located somewhere in that vicinity but that it was lost.  The company set about digging, but without success.  A spot was discovered between two large rocks where the sand seemed to have been washed.  The Indians scoffed at the idea of trying to find water there, and even tried to push the sand back into the hole which was being dug. They were greatly surprised and delighted when one of the men digging the well stuck his pick into a crevice in the rock and water gushed forth.  (14)

14.  “The Moses Rock”, by Anna Prince Redd, Relief Society Magazine January to December 1947.


The company arrived at theSan Juan riverabout May 30.  Here they found the Mitchell family, George Brewer (Brewor), and George Clay who had arrived there in 1878 and located ranches onMcElmoWash., where they were attempting to develop farms.  Peter Shirts from Parowan, in the same year, had located a place about 5 miles down the river from Mitchell’s and was there to welcome the newcomers.

Members of the exploring party were delegated to look over the land areas up and down the river for places to locate farms and a townsite.  Silas and boys selected a tract and proceeded to build a cabin and prepare some land for planting.  This tract was near the McElmo Wash., and a small plot of corn was planted.


Having received information that he was also to oversee the locating of a colony in San Luis Valley in Colorado for the Southern States emigrants, Silas with his son Stephen, Adelbert McGregor, and George Urie, left the San Juan on the 18th of June and proceeded to Alamosa, Colorado, where they secured additional supplies and made a rather thorough survey of the country in which the colony was to be located.  The party returned to theSan Juanon 17th July, 1879.

In the meantime, the Davis family and the cattle and horses left at Moen Kopi had been brought to the San Juan by the appointed explorers and located a Montezuma Creek where houses had been constructed for the Harriman and Davis families.  The river bottom and adjacent lands were further explored for suitable farm plots and locations made for diversion canals to take water from the


About the middle of August, the explorers left for home, returning by way ofMoaband following the Old Spanish Trail by way of Green River, acrossCastleValley, and downSalinaCanyonto the Sevier River where they followed up the Sevier to Bear Creek and crossed over the mountains west toParowanValleyand home.  They reached home near the end of September. 1879.



Because of being away from home on this exploring trip for so long a time,  Silas found it necessary to look after some business matters, confer and report to Church leaders, and otherwise arrange to go out again, perhaps for a longer period.

Platt De Alton Lyman of Oak City, a trusted and efficient explorer, was designated to lead the group until such time as Silas could arrange his affairs and overtake the pioneer group.  Captain Lyman overtook the group at Escalante and supervised their travel to the 40 Mile Spring, so called because of being 40 miles from Escalante.


Before leaving on his first exploring trip, Silas had conferred with Church officials and outlined the proposed routes to be explored.  While out on this trip, however, some others proposed that a much shorter route might be found by taking a more direct course east throughPotatoValley.  As a consequence, a committee composed of Ruben Collett, Charles Hall, and Bishop Andrew Scow, all of Escalante, explored a route east and south of Escalante to the Colorado River and reported that a road could be made that way which would cut off at least 200 miles of travel, afford better feed for livestock, and less danger from Indians than either of the other two routes explored.

All of these men were personally know to and respected by Silas Smith and he did not question their judgment, ill advised as it was.  No time was left for Silas to re-explore this shorter route, even though he would like to have done so.  The call for settlers had been made and preparation was already under way to get on the road by this shorter route.

The call included settlers from Iron, Beaver,Washington, Millard,GarfieldandRichCounties.  On October 4 these pioneers left their homes, headed toward theirSan Juandestination by way ofPotatoValley.  A count at Escalante showed that there were 83 wagons, many of which were not in good condition, about 200 people, 1000 head of livestock, mainly cattle and horses, a few chickens and sheep.

All had been instructed to take supplies of food, clothing, etc. to last for at least a year.  Some took supplies for only six weeks, expecting, of course, to arrive at their destination by or before the  six weeks  had  elapsed.    Some  suffering  resulted as  a consequence of disobeying this instruction.

The roadway intoEscalanteValleyhad been fairly well traveled, but from Escalante,  the caravan headed out over a very rough, almost impassable country toward theColorado River.   In early November they reached the 40 Mile Spring, so called because it was 40 miles from Escalante and about 20 miles from the river.  Here a permanent camp was set up while explorers trekked over the rimrocks and gulches to find,  if possible, a feasible way to reach the river.


It was at this 40 Mile Spring that Silas and the small company with him overtook the advance company.  They had encountered bad stormy weather,  but found the emigrants rather comfortably situated, considering traveling conditions and the time of the year. (15)

En route, Silas and company had met Hall and Sevy who had been out helping the trekkers to locate springs and tanks and possible roads.  These men, although they believed it could be done, gave a rather unfavorable report of the road ahead.

Under the directions of Assistant Leader,  Platt D.  Lyman,  an exploring party had already been sent out to determine the best place for a road to the Cleft and a place to cross the Colorado River and to investigate possibilities of getting out of the river canyon on the east side of the gorge toward the San Juan.  This party returned soon after the arrival of Silas and company and gave a rather discouraging report.

Meetings were held and the situation quite thoroughly discussed. “After Silas arrived, things took on a more businesslike aspect” according to a statement by one of the emigrants.  In the meantime, Brothers Schow and Collett, from Escalante, arrived in camp again. A meeting was called and it was decided to provision a party for at least ten days and have them carefully examine the country on both sides of the river and bring back a report.   Schow and Collett accompanied the party.  After being out for seven days, this party returned and their report was still very unfavorable.  Meetings were again held and the situation carefully considered.  Since the large company had arrived at 40 Mile Spring heavy snow had fallen in the mountains west of Escalante.  To give up and try to retrace the road back was well nigh impossible on this account.

15.  Diary. Day by day account by Silas S. Smith. Appendix.


A decision was reached to go ahead but the company needed more tools and a quantity of blasting powder.  To get these supplies Silas offered to try and make his way back over the mountains horseback,  contact  the  Church officials  and  the  Territorial Legislature which was soon to be in session, and try to get an appropriation with which to purchase these needed materials. (16)

Silas, with his two bovs Silas Jr. and Jesse, and one or two others, left the 40 Mile Camp the morning of December 15.  They encountered snow storms and deep drifts of snow and very cold weather.  It was with great difficulty that they made their way over the high divide.   It took the party nine days to make the trip, and due to fatigue and exposure Silas contracted pneumonia which kept him homebound for nearly a month, and a longer time regaining his health back to normal.

Through the help of friends and neighbors, he located 25 pounds of blasting powder (said to be the total supply in the Southern part of the state) ‘and sent it out to the road camp by his good and trusted friend Arza Judd.

16. (No information recorded)


As the time neared for the opening of the Territorial Legislature, Erastus Snow, representative from St. George, Washington County, and Jesse N. Smith, a brother of Silas, and representative from Iron County, called on Silas on their way to attend the coming session of the Territorial Legislature where they were told of the problems and conditions and needs of the pioneers at the brink of the Colorado River where they were presently stranded, and asked them to work for an appropriation of money with which to purchase blasting powder and tools which might be used to open the road down to the river and out on the east side.

True  to their promise,  these representatives  related to the legislature the conditions and needs of this pioneering party, and an appropriation of $5,000.00 was made with which to get the necessary supplies.  The Church authorities were also appealed to, and an appropriation of $500.00 was made with which to buy food and other needed materials for their comfort.

Very soon after this appropriation was made,  1000 pounds of blasting powder, tools, and other road working needs were purchased and sent, together with a party of 4 men from Cedar City who were experienced in the use of powder for blasting purposes.  Receipt of these new supplies, fresh help, and additional food supplies gave much encouragement to the travelers and it was not long thereafter that they were on their way working long hours to cross this country which one of the company stated “was the roughest country over which man ever attempted to take wagons loaded with women and children and supplies in search for a new country in which to make homes.


Because of health conditions and the preparation to undertake more extended responsibility in the missions to which he had been lately called, Silas did not go back to theSan Juanuntil April of 1880.

During these three months, however, he had kept in contact with the progress and movement of the colonists through occasional word brought to him by his sons and other travelers who continued to go back and forth between their home and the traveling pioneers as weather permitted,  and because of their livestock and other

responsibilities attached to the move.

By action of the Legislature, Silas was appointed Probate Judge for theSan Juanand authorized to organize a new country.  He took the oath of office  at Cedar Cityon March  8,  1880,  under the administration’of Judge Dalton.

On April 28, Silas, with two of his boys and some other men, left Paragonah bound for the San Juan, taking some more cattle and horses of their own and some for emigrants who were, for one reason or another, not able to include them in the first drive.  They encountered some difficulty locating sufficient water for their stock which made progress slow.  At theColorado Rivercrossing, they found the water high and a strong wind which made the handling of the ferry boat dangerous and time consuming.  Following the road made by the advance company, they frequently had to stop and dig for water or drive back many miles to tanks in the rocks or to springs where they could fill their barrels.  It took this company 24 days to make the journey, arriving at Bluff on Saturday, May 22.

The emigrants were very happy to have their leader with them again, and on the evening of the 24th they all gathered at Silas’ camp and had supper in honor of this return.


Meetings were held and their problems discussed.  The matter of getting water to their farm plots, even of keeping it in their canals was a real problem because of the great fluctuation of the river scream and the sandy condition of their soil.   After considering conditions for time, it was decided to try a current wheel to raise and throw the water out.  This worked very well for a time, but soon a flood came down the river and washed out the entire installation.  From the very beginning, this problem of keeping the ditches open and water in them was most perplexing.

Frequently crops were lost and the colonists suffered much hardship because of these losses.   Silas and boys planted some corn and grain on their holdings at Montezuma but they realized little from it on account of drought condition.


Following  instructions  from  Church  officials  and  of  the Legislature,  meetings were held for making and selecting of temporary officers.  Jens Nielsen was selected as Presiding Priest and James Decker as Superintendent of Sabbath Schools.

On June 7, a county court was held and the county districted into precincts preparatory to the holding of an election.  The temper of the Indians seemed somewhat hostile and the people were advised to prepare their homes at Bluff as a sort of fort and to move together for better protection.  A hollow square was formed of logs with rooms made around the walls facing into the square with no windows or doors in the outside walls.  Two openings were made with gates so that cattle,  horses,  or wagons could be driven into the enclosure in case of need and the gates closed for protection. They were careful to observe the teachings of Brigham Young, “That it was cheaper to feed the Indians than to fight them,” and many a group of red men were fed at the expense of the colonists. Although on some occasions it appeared that there would be serious trouble, no real open warfare ever happened in the settlement.


Platt D. Lyman and James Lewis had been appointed counselors to Silas S. Smith in the presidency of the San Juan Mission.  The settlements comprising this mission were: Bluff, Montezuma (inUtah), Burnham (now Fruitland) inNew Mexico, Mancos and Manassa inColorado.  They were advised to visit each settlement during the summer.  On June 14 Silas and his two counselors left Montezuma theSan Juanto make this visit.   They drove to each of the settlements, gave encouragement to the settlers, and explored much-new territory where new settlements might be made.


The party arrived at Manassa on July 2, 1880 and found that the population had been greatly increased by companies of emigrants which had been brought in during the year by President John Morgan of the Southern States Mission.  Silas and his-.-counselors spent considerable time looking into conditions and giving encouragement to the settlers.  Crop conditions there looked very promising and there was great need for a grist mill with which to turn their wheat into flour.

A man by the name of Easterday owned a flour mill situated at the Mexican town ofSan Luis, 20 miles east of Manassa, which he stated that he might sell to the Mormons if they wished to buy it.  Silas called in a man by the name of J. H. Elledge, a convert who had had some experience in the flour mill business inGeorgiaand a decision was made to purchase the mill if it offered the facilities they needed.

Silas and Elledge drove to Alamosa where they met Mr. Easterday and

arranged to see the mill. Together the three men went to San Luis. They took the train from Alamosa toFortGarlandand went from there to San Luis bv wagon.

The mill seemed to fulfill their requirements.   They agreed to purchase the place on which there were several Mexican houses in addition to the mill for the sum of $3000.00,  made in three payments of one thousand down, one thousand in twelve months, and one thousand in eighteen months.  They returned and reported their purchase.

Although the mill was twenty miles away, it proved to be a very helpful investment and served the needs of the people for nearly five years when it was moved to Manassa and set up as a co­operative mill with J.  H.  Elledge  and James  D.  Chapman as operators.  Some more modern machinery was added.  The mill did good work and gained in popularity so much that people from as far south asTaos Valley,New Mexico, 125 miles away, brought their wheat to Manassa to be ground into flour.  This mill ran for many years, and in addition to providing the co-operators with good breadstuff and stock feeds, its dividends in cash spread good cheer to the owners each year of its operation.


While there an attempt was made to visit and become acquainted with the leading inhabitants of the valley.  Silas and his counselors called on Ex-Governor Head at Guadalupe and on a prominent county official by the name of Lorenzo Torrero who lived at Conejos, the county seat.  These men were very friendly to the Mormon people and did much to assist them with their land and water problems. Governor Head even signed a note at one time as collateral with one of the settlers to enable him to purchase a parcel of land a house in which to live.

Letters were received by Silas from John Taylor, the President of the Church, and from Apostle Snow directing activities at the newColoradosettlements and the activities atsan Juan.


Concluding their visit inColoradothe party returned to Bluff and on August 2, 1880, the first county election was held inSan JuanCounty.   Sixty-five votes were cast.   The following men were elected to office: Silas S. Smith, probate judge; Platt D. Lyman, Jens Nielson and Zachariah B. Decker, selectmen, and C. E. Walton Sr., clerk. (17)

These men met soon thereafter and held the first term of court, and appointed Mr. L. H. Redd as county assessor and collector of taxes. Mr. Redd’s position was not an easy one; outlaws, cattlemen, and squatter ranchmen swore they would shoot him on sight if he ever attempted to collect taxes from them.  He had a very happy way of meeting them, however, and seldom left a ranch or cattle outfit without securing payment.

  1. Diary, Page 12, November 2, 1880


While at Manassa, Silas received funds from Utah for part payment to the people at Bluff for their work on the road, and on August 3, after holding court at Bluff, the election returns were checked, bonds for the elected officers were prepared and an amount equal to 45 per cent of the road claims paid to the people.

Up to this time there was no post office at Bluff, and all mail had to be delivered by travelers or secured by pony riders fromMancos,Colorado, the nearest post office to the town ofBluff.

At the settlements of theSan Juan, crops were poor this season on account  of  the  need  for  water.    This  resulted  in  much discouragement, and many of the settlers found it necessary to seek employment at the railroad camps and coal and timber camps inWestern Colorado.  John and Silas Jr. went Co Manassa,Coloradoto get work and supplies.  Stephen, a younger brother, went with them as far as Mancos, to get mail.   In the mail was a letter from Erastus Snow announcing a visit to Bluff where he, and party, expected to arrive on or about September 2.

Previous ‘co his taking over the San Juan colonization project, Silas had applied to the Church authorities for the assistance of Elder Thales H. Haskell, a noted Indian missionary who had been closely associated with Jacob Hamblin in his work in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. (18)  The Haskell family was one of the three first families to locate at the settlement ofSanta Claraon the Virgin River inSouthern Utahin 1854, and Mr. Haskell had been constantly in  the  Indian missionary service  since.    He was presently located atMoen Kopi,Arizona,  where he received a request from the Church authorities to join Silas Smith at Bluff and labor to keep peace with the Indians and to help recover livestock stolen by them.

In contemplation of the meeting with Erastus Snow and party, Silas and Haskell went to Bluff City where they met with the people advised them of the expected visit of the Church officials.  The next day, September 2, 1880, the party arrived.  With Erastus Snow were Apostle Brigham Young, Jr., Francis M. Lyman, and George Young.

A Church conference was held and the following officers sustained:

Silas S. Smith was re-sustained as president of the mission, with Platt De Alton Lyman first counselor, Jens Nielson as bishop of Bluff Ward with George Sevy and Kumer Jones as his counselors. Soon after this George Sevy left the settlement and Lemuel H. Redd Jr. was set apart as second counselor to Bishop Nielson.

At the time of the visit of these officials, Silas was again advised of the need for his services at the Manassa Colony. Apostle Snow had recently visited theSanLuisValleyand had first hand acquaintance with conditions existing there.  He told Silas of the need for experienced leaders and stated that calls were being made forUtahpeople who were strong in the faith and who were acquainted with the requirements of irrigation farming to move there.   He further stated that more emigrants than had been expected had arrived in the valley and that it was imperative that everything possible be done to insure the production of food and other necessities, including the organization of work projects.

In little over a week after this meeting, Silas was on his way again to Manassa.  The season was getting late and he encountered snow and bad weather in crossing the mountains.  He found his boys Silas and John A. busily working,-, hauling flour and feed from the mill to the surrounding settlements.   In his mail there, Silas received a request to return toSalt Lake cityby train and bring a report of conditions which he found at Bluff and at the Manassa Colony.  He left Alamosa the evening of October 20 by way ofDenverand Arrived inSalt Lake Cityon the 23rd where he was able to contact Apostle Snow and others of the Church officials.  After making his report, he took the train south toMilford, and from there home to Paragonah by team.

Silas was home barely two weeks when it became necessary for him to return to Manassa.  Leaving his sons Jesse and Albert to complete his affairs and make ready to move toColoradoin the spring, Silas started on his return trio, November 18.  He stopped for two days inSaltLaketo get further instructions from Church officials and needed supplies and he was on his way again by railroad by way orDenver.  While inDenver, he contacted state land officials and made appointments for further contacts regarding the securing of land for the settlers in the valley.  He arrived at Manassa on November 28.

During the winter, Silas and his two sons secured material and built houses on the lots which they had selected so that their families could be sure of some shelter when they arrived from Utah.

Silas made two trips back to theSan Juansettlements during the next year, concluded his work there and in the spring of 1882 set out from Paragonah with his family by way of Hall’s Crossing and theSan Juanfor his new home in theSanLuisValley.  With Silas and family were some other families from Southern Utah answering the call to move toColoradoto assist the Southern emigrants to establish homes in the valley.  Two daughters of Thales H. Haskell, who had been visiting in Pinto andCedarCitytraveled with the Smiths to Bluff where they rejoined their parents.

Commenting on the trip, one of the Haskell girls stated chat what was expected to be a very tiresome and arduous trip turned out to be a very merry and profitable one.  There were a number of other young people along and at night they gathered around the camp fires, told stories, sang songs, and sometimes danced to the music of a violin and an accordion.

The Smith family and accompanying travelers stopped at Bluff only long enough to rest their teams and livestock for a day or so, secure some needed supplies, and they were off on their way again.

The company reachesManassa,Colorado, on June 6, 1881, covering the 700 miles with their wagons and livestock in little more than six weeks time without serious accident or sickness.

Two years later two of Silas’  sons,  Jesse J.  and Albert R., returned to Bluff and married the.two Haskell girls, Margaret and Irene, who were on the trip.

The coming of the Haskell family gave strength and encouragement to the people of the Bluff colony.  Thales had great influence with the Indians, and as a peacemaker he was unexcelled.   He spent practically his entire time dealing with the Red Men and was influential in recovering much of the livestock stolen from the emigrants up to this time.   Soon after their arrival at Bluff, Grandmother Haskell rendered service as midwife in the community. She had been set apart for that special work by Apostle Wilford Woodruff.  Irene was appointed stake president of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association and a short time later was hired as a school teacher.  Margaret (Babe) was selected counselor in the Stake Relief Society in which she gave excellent service until the time of her marriage to Jesse J. Smith, son of Silas S. Smith.

18.  Typescript copy of letter of request in hands of A. E. Smith,Salt Lake City,Utah.


In 1878-79 when the first Mormon converts began arriving in theSanLuisValley, they found some Mexican holdings of-land which could be purchased at reasonable prices, but much of this was in small parcels and widely separated.  The colonists wanted to locate near together on a large tract where they could build a town, school, and churches.  A committee comprised of Lawrence M. Peterson, John Allan, and S. H. Jensen was selected and set to work to find a suitable area.  This committee selected a rather level tract of land situated about three miles north of Los Cerritos–2 sections containing 1280 acres contiguous to a small stream of water, a branch of the Conejos River.  This small stream was later called the “Little River.”

This beautiful tract seemed to fulfill all the requirements for the settlers.   Mr. John H. Houggard of Manti, Utah,  surveyed the townsite area and patterned it after the town surveys made in Utah, each block to be divided into four lots containing about two acres each.  After the survey a drawing was held at which each family was represented and accepted the lot number drawn.  A system of ditches was also surveyed from which each lot could be watered and some began at once to settle their drawn plots.   It was soon found, however, that trouble would be experienced getting title to the land selected.  This fact nearly disrupted the colony.

The committee appealed to the Church for help on this problem, and Silas S. Smith was immediately sent to the valley to help get this land question straightened out.  Silas’ 20 years of experience in the Utah Territorial Legislature where he had been active on public lands and boundaries committees fitted him well for this task.  He contacted local county officials and state land boards.  He found some of these bitterly opposed to Mormons settling inColorado.  It was here that the statesmanship and legislative experience of Silas became of great value.  He was a clear thinker, mild mannered, and had a good sense of land and physical values.  Much of the land held by the state was being sold at public auction.

In many of these deals Silas found it necessary to enter into the bidding and trading in order to get what he considered good values. He labored long and diligently to allay the prejudice and bitter anti-Mormon sentiment of some of the would-be buyers whose only interest was to run the price out of reason and out of reach of the Mheaons.  In one case where an area of 10,800 acres was coming up for auction sale, a man sent word that he had $80,000 in cash which he would use to keep the Mormon agent from getting any of it.  When Silas got the word, he called on this man, explained what was being done by the settlers in the valley and some of the Mormon beliefs, referred him to accomplishments that had been made in the Utah Territory in the development of farms and homes under similar conditions and outlined the program being followed by the Southern converts who lately had been driven from their homes because of the great Civil War, and who now were striving to make homes and become worthy citizens of the state of Colorado.  As a result this buyer did not appear at the sale and Silas was able to purchase the area for $2.50 per acre while some lands adjacent to. this were being sold for twice this amount.

It was not only the duty of this leader to assist the Saints to secure the land, but to see that proper use was made of it, and especially to see that the payments were kept up according to promise.


After securing the land, the matter of securing adequate water rights called for the exercise of great patience and much study and work.  The Mexican people, settled mostly along the river beds, had prior rights to water from the streams, which it was necessary to recognize and deal justly with.   There was, however, adequate water–if rightly distributed and properly used.  The spring runoff was usually high with enough for all and to spare; but when the Streams ran low, there occurred differences which sometimes were delicate to adjust.  Silas was frequently called on to help settle these differences.  In this work he was generally very successful, leaving all parties satisfied with the outcome.


A special commission given to Silas Smith by the Church and local leaders dated December 25, 1880, granted him the right to purchase and dispose of lands for the colony, and under its authority he purchased during the succeeding five years more than 30,000 acres for the citizens and corresponding water right.  He gave title to the members for acreage as fast as it was paid for. (19)

The first land purchase made was for 4,000 acres including the area on which the town ofManassastands.  It cost the purchasers 80 cents per acre.  Later funds were raised to $1.25 an acre and then to $1.87 1/2.  Later auctions raised the prices to $2.50 and up according to the temper of the bidders.

19.  Photostatic copy of Commission Appointment in hands of Mrs. Annie Haskell Smith, LaJara, Colo. & A. E. Smith, Salt Lake City, Utah.


Upon the arrival at Manassa, Silas located his family and set about to his appointed work.  A two-room house had been prepared by the boys who preceded the family: Silas Jr., John A., and Stephen. Silas and John were there with their families and had built small houses for themselves near the location selected for their father. Stephen was unmarried and looked after his father’s interests until his arrival fromUtah.

The small two-room home was too small for the family of Silas, which now numbered 10, not counting the two married sons.  So wagon boxes and tents had to be rigged up for rooms for the children until more building could be done.  (See Martha H. story.)

Land was selected for a farm and farming operations started so that food could be assured for the winter season.  Further allotments of land had to be purchased from the state, and the mill capacity increased to provide more flour and stock feed for the colony.


A co-operative store was gotten under way under the management of

Soren C. Berthelson with a capital stock of $350.00.  Berthelson managed the store for seven months and turned it to other persons who ran it into failure.  Berthelson paid all the outstanding bills and turned the management over to Silas S.  Smith.    It was successfully continued under his management for many years.

In addition to his other duties,  Silas was  instrumental  in organizing cooperative cattle and sheep herds, a saw mill project, and an irrigation company.  As has been related, the acquisition of land required much time and many trips to the state capitol to confer with state land board officials on land sales and title problems.



James Z. Stewart                 Draper,Utah            Missionary

A. S. Blair                     Bear Lake,Utah         Cattleman

Bp. Hans Jensen                 Manti,Utah             Farmer

Soren C. Berthelson              Fountain Green,Utah    Blacksmith

John Allen and 2 Sons           Manti,Utah             Farmer

W. L. Spraouse                  Salt Lake County,Utah  Cattleman


W. F. O. Behrman & Family       Brigham City,Utah      Farmer

John H. Houggard                Manti,Utah             Surveyor

William Cox                     Manti,Utah             Cattleman

Delbert McGregor & Family       Parawon,Utah           Businessman


Hiram B. Schofield & Family     Paragonah,Utah         Freighter

K.W. Barzee & Family            Idaho                   Farmer

R. H. Beers & Family             Pleasant Grove,Utah    Farmer

William Christensen & Family    Fairview,Utah          Farmer

Jesse J. Smith & Family         Parowan,Utah           Cattleman

Silas S. Smith Jr. & Family     Paragonah,Utah         Farmer

Johnm A. Smith & Family         Paragonah,Utah         Farmer & Cattleman

Martin Christensen & Family      Fountain Green,Utah    Farmer

Frederick Christensen & Family  Coalville,Utah         Farmer

Peter Mickelson & Family        Cedar City,Utah        Cattleman

William F. Barton & Family      Coalville,Utah         Cattleman


Edward Dalton & Family          Brigham City,Utah      Saw Mill Man

James Jensen & Family            Onida (Oneida),Idaho   Farmer

Asael Fuller & Family           Salt Lake City,Utah    Carpenter

Silas Smith & Family            Paragonah,Utah         Farmer & Cattleman

Brigham W. Harrison & Family     Pinto,Utah             Farmer

John C. Dalton & Family         Parowan,Utah           Mill Man

Peter Mortensen & Family         Fountain Green,Utah    Carpenter

Lars H. Mortensen & Family       Fountain Green,Utah    Farmer

Christian Jensen & Family        Fountain Green,Utah    Farmer

John Shawcroft & Family         Manti,Utah             Cattleman

Erastus Beck & Family           Manti,Utah             Cattleman

Thomas Crowther & Family         Fountain Green,Utah    Farmer

Marous Funk &Family             St.George,Utah        Carpenter

Job& Ira Whitney &Family        St.George,Utah        Blacksmith & Carpenter

Erastus Nielson & Family         Mt. Pleasant,Utah      Farmer

David Coombs & Family            Mt. Pleasant,Utah      Farmer

Timothy Gilbert & Family        Manti,Utah             Farmer

Thor N. Peterson & Family        Fountain Green,Utah    Cattleman & Sheepman

William H. Corey & Family       Richfield,Utah         Cattleman

John A. Geymon & Family         Parowan,Utah           Blacksmith

James N. Jensen & Family        Manti,Utah             Farmer

James C. Berthelson & Family     Fountain Green,Utah    Carpenter & Farmer

This list may be incomplete.  If there are any other names know, we would appreciate having them submitted to us.


In 1883, the San Luis Stake ofZionwas organized with Silas S. Smith as president.  From 1880 too 1890 four wards were organized, namely: Manassa, Ephraim,Sanford, andRichfield.   Ephraim was situated in a rather swampy area, and after about five years the residents found it advisable to move to higher ground, most of them going toSanfordandRichfield.  Branches were also organized at Fox Creek, Morgan and Eastdale.

The emigrants fromUtahbrought in excellent grades of cattle, sheep, and horses.  For grazing these animals, the public ranges were utilized.  Frequent clashes were had which Mexicans and non-Mormon residents over range right, but all were speedily settled and friendly relations restored.


In the fall of 1890 and on account of failing health, Silas felt that he should give up much of his responsibility in the stake. His son, Albert R. Smith, was selected to take over as president. Silas continued active in community affairs as far as his health permitted.  He was ordained a Patriarch and continued his church work in this regard to the time of his death.


In 1901 Silas sold his holdings inColoradoand moved with the

younger ones of his family toLayton,Utah, where, with the help of his two younger sons Asahel and Francis, he continued some farming and livestock operations.  He remained active in the Church and did temple and genealogical work until the time of his death.

In 1908 he suffered a partial stroke of paralysis from which he never fully recovered.  He attended the semi-annual conference of the Church inSalt Lake Cityin early October, 1910.  On the tenth of the same month he became suddenly ill and sank rapidly.  He died October 11, and was buried in theLayton-KaysvilleCemetery,Davis County,Utah.

The following tribute to Silas S. Smith was given by Andrew Jensen, Church Historian:  “As a missionary, explorer, pioneer, legislator, and civic officer, his services will live in the hearts of the people in whose interest he spent so many years.”

A tribute from the writings of his daughter Edith Smith Dibble was:

“He was under all circumstances cool and courageous, feared nothing except his Father in Heaven, whom he served all the days of his life.  In 1897 he was ordained a patriarch in the Church under the hands of President Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith.  This, he said, was the crowing feature of his career. Silas S. Smith was highly respected by national, state, and local officers of the government who often said of him, “We know Mr. Smith to be a man whose word can be absolutely depended upon.”  He often entertained them in his home and the high regard with which he was held stood the Church in good stead when many of the wives of prominent Church officials found safe refuge in the San Luis Stake during the raids.”

“He was kind, generous, and hospitable to all who came to his home. The time he was not actively engaged in public work he was preparing to go again.”

“He had a marvelous sense of humor, could take a joke as well as give one.  He was very orderly – everything must be kept in its place, and the only thing that ruffled him much was to find a tool missing from its place when he wanted to use it.  He was not a noted singer, but would try, much to the enjoyment of his children, bearing down heavily on the high notes.   Any little annoyance caused by the youngsters was silenced by a quietly administered Tut, Tut.”

“In 1900 after the death of his daughter Annie, and because of the poor health of his wife, it became necessary to move to a lower altitude.   His property inColoradowas sold, and he moved toLayton,Utah.  The ten years there was the only period of his life not almost wholly devoted to public service.  He expressed a desire to live to the age of eighty.  This wish was fulfilled within a few days.   He died October 11,  1910.   His eightieth birthday was October 26th.  He is buried in theKaysville-LaytonCemeteryin Kaysville. He possessed every attribute that children could desire in a father.”

From the Deseret News, October 14, 1910: SILAS S. SMITH LAID AWAY IN THE TOMB.  Missionary, explorer, pioneer, legislator and public servant, who built thirty-five homes for his family.  Sunday the funeral services over the remains of Silas S. Smith, cousin of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the last member of that generation of the Smith family,  was held in the Layton Ward House.   A large congregation of relatives, neighbors, and friends assembled.  The service was presided over by Bishop David E. Layton.  The opening and closing prayers were offered by Henry P. Richards and John A. West.   The choir sang:   “Shall We Meet”,  “Wanted on the Other Side”, and “God be With You Till We Meet Again.”  Mrs. Sarah B. Layton sang “I Know that My Redeemer Lives.”

The speakers were: Bishop David E. Layton, Pres. J. H. Grant of the Davis Stake, Elder John T. Caine, a mission companion while in the Hawaiian Islands, Elder George C. Lambert of the Black Hawk War Veterans, Elder Nathan Ricks, Elder Nephi Jensen, Patriarch John Smith, and Pres. John Henry Smith.

The pall bearers were sons Silas S. Jr., John A., Stephen A., Elias Austin, George E., and Joseph Francis.  The interment was in theKaysvilleCemetery.  He leaves a wife and fourteen children:  Mrs. Martha E. Smith of Layton, Utah, Silas  S. Smith Jr. of Rexburg, Idaho, Stephen A. Smith of Manassa, Colorado, Curtis B. Smith of Provo, Utah, Mrs. Ella C. Boice of Greybull, Wyoming, Mrs. John A. Smith, Mrs. Hortense Hawkins, Mrs. Martha Haskell of Manassa, Colorado, Mrs. Emma J. Dibble of Layton, Utah, George E. and Hiram S. Smith of Lost River, Idaho, Miss Edith Smith, James Francis Smith, and Miss Estella Smith of Layton, Utah.

Church Membership Record


THIS Certifies that Silas Smith has been received into the church of the Latter Day Saints, organized on the sixth of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand, eight hundred, and thirty, and has been ordained an elder according to  the  rules  and regulations of’ said church and is duly authorized to preach the gospel, agreeably to the authority of that office.

From the satisfactory evidence which we have of his good moral character,  and his need for the cause of righteousness,  and diligent desire to persuade men to forsake evil and embrace truth, we confidently recommend him to all candid and upright people, as a worthy member of society.

We, therefore,  in the name, and by the authority of this church, grant unto this, our worthy brother in the Lord, this letter of commendation as proof of our fellowship and esteem:

praying for his success and prosperity in our redeemer’s cause.

Given by the direction of a conference of the elders of said church, assembled in Kirtland, Geauga County, Ohio, the third day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand, eight hundred, and thirty six.

Clerk, Joseph Smith Jr.


January 12th 1837





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