Joseph Smith Black (1836 – 1910) The Early Years

The Early Years

Joseph Smith Black, son of William Young Black and Jane Johnston was born July 14. 1836. Antrim County. Lisburn, Ireland. At the age of one year my parents moved to Manchester. England, as Father was a stocking weaver by trade, and engaged in that business at that place. He also had a pension from the British Government for services rendered as a soldier in the army for twenty-one years and eleven months.

In the year 1839, Latter-day Saint elders came as missionaries to that place and my father and mother heard the gospel of Christ through them and accepted it readily, as it corresponded with the teachings of Christ and his Apostles as contained in the Bible. Their family consisted of four children. George. Mary. William and Joseph. Mary emigrated to Kirtland in America with the first company and was married to John McDonald at Painesville, Ohio. She had one son named William J. In 1844 the family moved to Nauvoo. She was taken sick. Her husband went to St. Louis and was never heard of again. After a lingering illness; she died in the year 1845. She was about twenty years old when she died. My parents raised her son.

My mother and her children left England for America in 1840, and located at a place called Augusta. about 20 miles from Nauvoo. where some of the Saints had located and where George Q. Adams was presiding, Through industry and economy Mother sustained the family until Father arrived two years later from England, where he had been laboring as a missionary. I was taught to pray and developed great faith in the elders and on several occasions I was healed instantly by the laying on of hands. The name of our ship was the Chaos and soon after we left Liverpool we encountered a great storm, one ship sank nearby us and all aboard were lost and our ship narrowly escaped destruction. In the middle of the fearful storm, Mother had all the boys get into the berth and William, after prayer. spoke in tongues which my mother interpreted. We were exhorted to be of good cheer tor we would not be destroyed, but by three o’clock the next day would be landed safely in Liverpool Dock which we supposed would be impossible as we were several days out to sea, and that some, dissatisfied would land and the rest of us would then sail on and have a prosperous trip to America.

A short time before I was eight years old, I had a desire to be baptized. The president of the branch was consulted, and in June 1844 I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by George Q. Adams, who added the name of Smith to my name, after I was in the water, We soon moved to Nauvoo and shortly after that I moved to Warsaw to assist William Wallmark to move to Nauvoo. While I was walking in the streets of Warsaw. boys and old men hooted and yelled at me and some of them threatened to kill me because I was a Mormon.

We remained in Nauvoo until after the last battle, which was fought in front of our residence. During the fight I assisted in getting water to the brethren while they were fighting the mob. Saw Norris fall. cut in two by a cannon hall. Saw Captain Anderson lying in a brick house on the comer corner of the square where he had been shot and where he died. Captain Pickett came into the house, a scene I never forgot. While tears were rolling down his checks he said. “Oh, if I were God Almighty. I would avenge your blood.” The city was soon afterward surrendered to the mob. We put what goods we could into our wagon. which had been in the Nauvoo Wagon Shop, and a brother drove us to the river and we were there when the mob took possession of the city. They seized all firearms that could be found and they made the night hideous with their yelling and oaths. Soon after. we ferried over the river on the Montrose side. when: many of the Saints were camped in a destitute and suffering condition. By the timely assistance of some kind hearted persons from Quincy. Illinois. much was done to alleviate their condition. We then moved back about four miles to the Bluffs where we lived in a tent all winter: Father came in the spring and brought us money wherewith we bought a team to take us to the Missouri River. We located twenty miles below Kanesville on Silver Creek where we remained until the spring of 1850. In the winter of 1848–1849 there was very deep snow on the prairie which prevented all travel in the then sparsely settled country. For many weeks we had to live on buckwheat ground in a coffee mill.

In the spring of 1850 we started for the valley in the mountains. later called Salt Lake City. Our team consisted of two yoke of oxen and two yoke of cows. We also had four head of young stock which I drove. walking all the way. We arrived sometime in September. and started for Sanpete Valley about the first of November. There were no settlements south of Salt Lake then except Manti which had been settled in the fall of 1849, also there was a small fort on the Provo River. At the south end of Salt Lake Valley we encountered very heavy snow which caused us much suffering, We were sixteen days traveling 132 miles to Manti.

Indians were very numerous and bread-stuff was very scarce. which caused the settlers much trouble. We soon after moved onto our city lots, but on account of an Indian war breaking out. we had to move into a fort constructed of stone and log houses. We had to stand guard every other night, half the night, both men and boys. for eighteen months, our members went: few and we had much trouble. Stock was stolen and quite a number were killed. Canal Creek had been settled the previous year; The Indians surrounded the settlement and drove off their stock. amounting to about 500 head. Reuben Allred was then presiding. and with a number of others went up that same evening with teams and brought the people over to Manti. In the nail a Danish colony of Saints relocated the place and it was then called Little Denmark: but President Young. on hearing of their exposed condition. ordered them removed to Manti. and again we went and brought them away

We remained in Manti until the spring of 1855. when we were called back by President Young to Salt Lake City. On the 12th of November the same year. I returned to Fort Ephraim and Sanpete and married Cynthia Allred, daughter of Reuben Allred. who was then bishop of Ephraim Ward. I had previously become acquainted with her while moving her father’s family from Canal Creek to Manti. After our marriage we moved back and located on Utah Lake. and while there  assisted the handcart emigrants in coming into the Salt Lake Valley. In that year. what we called the Reformation, took place and made considerable excitement and did some good. Extremes as a rule were not good. and there were many extremes connected with that reformation, which was in the year 1856.

In February 1857, we returned to Ephraim and I turned my attention to farming, On the 21st of July our first child was born, a daughter. We called her Nancy. My farm consisted of about 90 acres. Of which is now covered by the southeast part of Ephraim. In the fall of 1858. my father and his sons were called to go and relocate Canal Creek or Little Denmark. In the spring of 1858. my father had left Salt Lake in the general move of the Church. south.

When I was 16 years old, I was ordained a Seventy in the Eighteenth Quorum. I was called to labor as a teacher in the ward, which caused me to be very humble, for I felt a lack of wisdom and inability of myself to perform the duties of the office, I also was elected to the office of lieutenant in one of the camp armies of Nauvoo Legion. I spent five weeks in a campaign to stop the progress of General Johnston’s Army, which was then marching against Utah. On my return home, I spent much time drilling and preparing for a mountain campaign. We each had a good saddle horse equipment and pack animal and were well armed and prepared for a long campaign as it was resolved that the army should not be permitted to come in except on honorable terms: but peace being restored through a commission, the campaign was abandoned.

About the same time, the Sanpete Militia was reorganized and I was elected captain of one of the companies, and soon after I was promoted to Major. On military tactics I took a great deal of interest. I sold out at Ephraim and moved to Spring City. Bishop Seely and I built the first sawmill in the north part of the county alter the resettlement in the tall and winter of 1859, 1860. My brother George presided at Spring City. But at the reorganization of the ward, C. G. Larson was put in as Bishop and Reddick Allred and I were his counselors. At the August election of 1859 I was elected one of the selectmen of Sanpete County. Selectman Bradley, who was then Bishop of Moroni, and I located all the county roads north of Ephraim City. At Fountain Green and Mount Pleasant we had considerable trouble, as we had located the roads straight through the fields, which had previously been gone around; but soon after all were reconciled and in the course of time it proved to be the best and most proper route.

My cares multiplied upon me and sometimes I thought it was not a good policy to crowd too many offices onto a young man. I was also elected Justice of the Peace tor Spring City precinct which caused me to give some of my attention to law and get an insight into legal business.  On the 14th of November 1860, I married Sarah Barney, a young lady of Spring City 16 years old and on the 14th day of February following. I married Caroline Thompson, who was 17 years old. daughter of Peter Thompson. who had interpreted for me when I was selling some produce to the Danish immigrants. From that time until the fall of 1862. my time being occupied with tanning and various duties. I was called to assist in building Southern Utah. On the 12th of November. I started. took Caroline with me and left the balance of my family at Spring City. This was our first separation, which caused considerable sorrow, which I will never forget. I wish to insert that in marrying my plural wives. it was perfectly agreeable with my first wife and with all parties concerned and while I married from a motive of love, it was as from a sense of duty to the law of God as understood by us all, and with the purest motive and I always honor virtue more sacred than life.

We arrived at Toquerville in a severe snow storm and the weather had been extremely cold. We located at a place called Springdale on the North fork of the Virgin River. I built cabin and there my wife Caroline gave birth 10 her first child, daughter, and we named her Josephine. She was born on the 12th day of March, 1863. In July of the previous year my wife Sarah had a daughter, who soon died. We called her Jane. I also built other log cabins and returned to Sanpete for my wife Cynthia and family. Arrived back on the 17th of May. We went to work and made a ditch to run the water on a tract of land, put in a crop. which matured. Prosperity crowned our labors, but owing to the large immigration that was called to the southern country. the necessities of life rose to an enormous price; flour was $25.00 per hundred . A good cow was sometimes offered for 100 pounds of flower and refused.

It was a time to try the hearts of men and women. Many nearly naked had to subsist to a great extent on greens, broom corn and cane seed. I went there well supplied but had divided until I had become much reduced. I went into the rocky hills barefoot to cut and hauled logs to build a house. To further intensify our sufferings, the Indian War broke out and all places were ordered abandoned, except such as would sustain 150 families.

In the meantime I returned to Sanpete and brought Sarah. Also, some leather to make shoes.  Owing to the discouraging and trying circumstances, many went north. which weakened the forces and caused it to be very difficult to keep up the places. I located at Rockville where my families lived until I got one of my log houses moved over. Times were extremely hard and I had tried in several places to procure bread, but failed, and for the only time in my life I felt completely overcome. I said to my wives at breakfast. “This is our last food except a little beef and no prospect for getting more.” but they said. “Dear husband. be of good cheer. the Lord will overrule something to help us out.” All the family was in tears, Soon after, Cynthia and Caroline left the house and in the afternoon an Indian came with a bushel of cornmeal on his back. Caroline had to take down her fine Damask curtains and give to this Indian for the meal. and soon thereafter Caroline arrived with an Indian who carried fifty pound of flour which she had procured. They said. “We told you that the Lord would not let us starve.  The sisters of these trying times were worthy of the greatest praise, Many similar scenes could be seen in the houses of the Saints and never was country settled under more trying circumstances, Soon after, I returned to Sanpete where I had grain coming to me from my place and I procured a supply.

My brother William V. and I bought a sawmill on North Creek and went to making lumber. We had to haul logs twelve miles over a very bad road and there were the times when we made the trip with nothing but cornbread to eat. We remarked to each other. “How sweet it tastes when soaked in water.” We were called to go and assist in building up a new country and we were very desirous of performing our mission faithfully.

I immediately arranged my affairs and started for Millard County on the 7th of March. and arrived in Kanosh on the 16th of the same month. Sarah and Caroline went with me and we had much stormy weather. There was snow and sleet on the roads. I put in a small crop. In May I returned and brought Cynthia. During my absence we had another son born, and called his name Sidney. Caroline had three children and Sarah only one, but she had also lost one by death, a lovely little girl Emilia. I was very hard pressed for means as we were unable to sell our property in Dixie.

In October the same year. I started to work on the Union Pacific Railroad. Provisions were very scarce and prices high. Flour $ 10.00 per sack, during the winter. Caroline had another daughter born, and the day before she was taken sick she did not know what to do for the necessities, Just then somebody handed her a letter which I had sent containing $40.00 in cash, which enabled her to get what she so much needed. I remained on the railroad a little over one year and earned about $1400.00, and brought home a good supply of things for the family, I found all well, but during my absence Sarah’s only child was burned to death.

From that time on until 1875. I attended to farming and various duties, I went to Dixie and stayed one year and disposed of my property. It was during this lime that the United Order was being inaugurated. This was to hold our property in common and work together for one common interest. This move I endorsed as it was in harmony with the teachings of the Savior and also with the modem revelations contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. Bishop King was elected President and myself Vice President of the Kanosh Ward organization, There was also a Board of Directors elected. Each one’s property was invoiced and placed to the credit of the owner and then put into one general fund, No one was paid wages for their work but all worked at that which they were considered best adapted for. The move caused much excitement and comment. There were similar organizations in many wards of the Territory. It was soon apparent that the move was too sudden and great to be crowned with successes.  Some lost their individual energy and became indifferent and careless, as they could procure their supplies from the general storehouse. It was also apparent that the responsibility was taken from the many and placed upon a few, which was not the sign of the almighty as it takes away man’s agency. and in is my opinion that if it is ever established again. it will be on a different plan: probably on the principle of servantship. Much property was wasted. and in the fall of the year it finally came to an end as far as Kanosh was concerned. In other wards the organizations were continued for some time longer. but finally they were all dissolved. This transpired in 1874.