Sunday, March 14, 2010

George Moroni Spilsbury

George Moroni Spilsbury1852 - 1939

George Moroni Spilsbury was born October 31, 1852 at Draper, Utah. He was the son of George and Fannie Smith Spilsbury. George Moroni Spilsbury attended school in Toquerville and afterwards took up farming and stock raising. He married Roselia Haight Spilsbury on January 1, 1874. They had twelve children: Isabel, George Chauncy, Georgenia, Arthur, Archie Price, Frankie Estella, Florence, Raymond, Myrtle, Vivian, Victor Roland, and Erwin Roswell.

He was long active in Church affairs. At one time he was a member of Major Duzette’s martial band, well known in Washington County many years ago. He took part in a number of settlers’ encounters with Indians in the early days. He was a well-known businessman and bank director in Iron and Washington Counties. He died in 1939 at the age of 87.

The following are his words given on July 19, 1935: (recorded by Louise Slack)

My father was called to Grafton from Draper. My father postmaster at Draper. One night there came a rapping on the window and a voice said, “Heard the News?” Father said “no” and the voice said “You were called to Dixie today.” Then mother said, “What are you going to do?” Father answered, “Why go, of course.”

We were living in Grafton when the Berry brothers were killed sad affair that was. The Berry brothers were bringing a supply of sugar and groceries from Salt Lake. At Parowan they stopped to rest their team and shoe their horses. The Indians some of our local Indians and some Parowan Indians saw them there. They cut across the Mountains on their ponies and waited for the Berry brothers. When the brothers saw they were being attacked they threw out some of their supplies I guess thinking the Indians would stop and get them. Once they thought they had got away but when they went around a little point the Indians were waiting for them. William Berry waited for them to come in and when they were two days late rode out to see what was the trouble. He found them lying naked their bodies full of arrows, the horses and all the supplies stolen. He came back for help. Father was one of those who went to bring the bodies in. They could see where the Indians had set fire to the wagon, but the fire had not burned. There were two brothers and one of them had his wife with them. All three were killed. There were ten or fifteen arrows in each of them.

After a while we moved to Rockville and from there to Toquerville and here I have been ever since.

I thought Brigham Young was the smartest man in the universe. We had him for dinner many times. I knew Porter Rockwell. He was Brigham Young’s bodyguard. He always rode a horse and President Young would come along in a buggy. Porter Rockwell was a fine shrewd man.

We had hard times in the early days. I’ve seen flour sell for 20 dollars a hundred. Tone Ivins hired me once to take a thirty-gallon barrel of the best wine old man Nail made out to Kanab to Buffalo Bill and a bunch of English dudes he had out there. They went up to Seegmiller’s ranch and hunted deer. It was that Seegmiller that was killed by his neighbor Roundy. Seegmiller was an aggravating neighbor and Roundy hot headed. Darned if he didn’t shoot Seegmiller in the back and go home and shoot himself.

Major Dozett organized a band here in Toquerville. It was a good band. There was twenty four of us. I am the only one left living of that band. We played at the celebrations. I remember once we went to Harmony to a general parade. It was a three day celebration. Apostle Snow was there all dressed up in a uniform and made a fine speech. People camped in tents and wagons all over the flat. There were 3,000 people there. Four counties, Washington, Iron, Beaver, and this, Toquerville was Kane then. We had race horses and a big time. We had a big parade and we played in the parade. It was a fine band.

I knew Jacob Hamblin. Tone Ivins traveled with him lots. He was the friend of the Indians. Indian interpreter he was. I remember he and Ivins camped one night on the public square here and Ash Nebeker went on a long trip with them.

I knew John D. Lee. I was well acquainted with him. He had lots of good qualities. He had good nerve. I think some one must have given him away. They caught him in the loft of a barn out at Panguitch.

The way did with those people at Mountain Meadows was bad though. Had them all lined up to march to Cedar. The Indians did most of the killing but they was helped. I don’t know whether it was planned or just happened, as I wasn’t there. They’d been all right if they had waited for the runner to come from the authorities. It had been bad all the way through, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

Used to be a road over the mountains. I was out after wood once and saw a stick sticking out of the ground and when we got to it we saw that it was a wagon tongue. We dug it up and it was an old iron axe wagon buried in the sand. Must have been buried at the time of the big flood. It rained here forty days once when I was a kid. Awful floods that year.

Lot Smith used to live in Arizona at Mormon Dairy. I was at Winter Creek when Porter Rockwell and some other officers arrested Lot Smith and Rone Clauson. They were in and at first they were not going to come out but they told them they had better or they would shoot everyone in the house. Lot Smith used to be a wild one. He was accused of stealing that time.

I went with Jim Andrus after Indians. I went out under Hone Steele. When we got to Cannon, Jim Andrews met us there and took charge of the whole party. I was with Jim Andrews when his horse was hit with an arrow. The Indian fired at him. He had seen the arrow coming and leaned back and in doing so jerked up his horse’s head. The arrow struck right between the horses ears and we pulled the spike out with pliers. My brother Al was with him when the killed the Indians at Pipe Springs. He held the horses while it was going on. I have ridden night express up the river and to Harmony.

I wouldn’t join the United Order. Father joined, and Al but what little I had I wanted the privilege of handling. I was general manager of the Kolab herd for many years. We made lots of nice butter and cheese on the mountain and brought it down here. We have milked at times 200 cows. One or another kept drawing out. It was still a pretty big herd when I quit. I was a big owner and got big wages so I did pretty well.

I’ve made quite a lot of wine in early days. My father didn’t make wine, but I did. We used to use wine for sacrament and paid tithing with wine.

I remember the Silver Reef. It brought better times. I made a little start at Pioche though. I have sold peaches at seventy-five cents a dozen and apricots for thirty-five cents a pound and anywhere from seventy-five cents to a dollar a dozen for eggs at Pioche.

Jim Jackson and I went out together.

I was the biggest owner of water shares in the La Verkin. I sold my shares on the La Verkin to Lafe McConnel for quick pay. I was and still am the largest owner of water shares on the Hurricane.

Oh, we did have times in early days over politics. We used to get so mad that we wouldn’t speak to a Republican if he came into the crowd, and they were mad at us. We used to have rousing mud slinging rallies.

They used to bring good singers down from Salt Lake to sing at the rallies and there was lots of drinking. I remember singing, “If you want to get fat
You Democrat
Eat a good old American Crow”

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