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Well, my obsession continues unchecked: digging up arcane tidbits about various ancestors — and placing them in some sort of historical context. Here's the latest installment.

Until lately I didn't know much about Charles Price, my grandmother's great-grandfather, but he is turning out to be one of the more easily documented of the "grandcestors," for reasons that will likely become clear below. First, though, a biographical introduction; then, on to my recent discoveries about him.

Born in 1829 in Gloucestershire, England, Charles Price sailed for America with some of his brothers and sisters sometime before September of 1843, when he is recorded as living in Nauvoo, Illinois at the time of his sister Elizabeth's marriage in that city. (His father had died in England in 1840, and his mother and two sisters had already emigrated in 1841.)

In 1846 the Prices — mother, children, in-laws and cousins — left Illinois as part of the Mormon Exodus. Charles' mother was one of several hundred who died during the winter of '46-'47 at Winter Quarters, just north of present-day Omaha; her children were mostly grown, but the two youngest, Charles and Lavinia, were likely looked after by older brother William, then in his late twenties, or sister Elizabeth and her husband, all of whom were emigrating with them — though one must wonder how much looking after 17-year-old Charles needed (or felt he needed). Before the end of 1847 they had all moved back across the Missouri to Kanesville (now Council Bluffs), Iowa, which was to become a major embarkation point for the emigrant trails to Utah, Oregon and California. (The Price family's situation was not uncommon: many of the Saints were too poor, or too ill, to make the entire journey in one season; so they stayed for a time, marshalling strength and resources and planting crops, both for their own sustenance and to benefit the thousands who were expected to come the following seasons.)

While at Kanesville Charles married Elsa Mary Johnson on November 25th, 1847. They were both ludicrously young, but Elsa's mother had also died at Winter Quarters the previous winter, and her father had already gone west with the vanguard company of pioneers; for Elsa, marrying Charles also meant gaining the protection of his extended family. They were at last ready to continue westward in 1852, and on July 8th a train of 63 wagons rolled slowly out of Kanesville, some 229 emigrants that included relatives of both Charles and Elsa (and their baby daughter, Mary Alice, my great-great-grandmother), bound for Salt Lake City.

If any of the Prices left a journal or memoir of the journey I haven't seen it; but many who traveled with them that summer did, including one woman who in 1885 remembered Charles' doughty older sister, Mary Ann:

in our company there were 4 women that drove teams over the Plains a Mrs Miller Mrs Chaffin Mrs Marry Ann Hyde better known as that time as Miss Price and myself we crossed the Platt River 13 times more times than would have been nesesary if it had not been for the Purpose of finding feed for our animals...

By July of 1853 Charles, Elsa and their growing family had moved south to Utah Valley (where Charles was promptly shot in the right leg, during the Walker War). Then in October of that year the Prices went further south, taking up residence in the new settlement of Nephi, in Juab County. There they stayed for the rest of their lives — Charles dying in 1905, Elsa in 1912.

Like early settlers everywhere, Charles Price lived close to the land: I'd previously found records of his cattle brand registered with the territorial authorities; but his occupation was listed in the 1860 census as "joiner" (carpenter). Only recently, however, did I discover that he had an additional long-term occupation.

In an old volume called the Hand-Book Almanac for the Pacific States: An Official Register and Business Directory for the year 1864, I found this listing under Juab County, Utah:

More digging turned up, unsurprisingly, more information (like the fact that county surveyors were elected to one-year terms). My next find was an old historical sketch of tiny Levan, Utah, about ten miles south of Charles' hometown of Nephi:

In the spring of 1867 ... a tract of land lying between Pigeon Creek and Chicken Creek and about three fourth of a mile West of the mountains was selected and plans were made for the laying out a new community.

In December of that year, Charles Price, the Juab County surveyor, surveyed the area, laying out in blocks 499 feet square. The streets were ninety feet wide, and there were forty-nine blocks in the first plot. Each person who obtained a lot received one half block. One block in the center of the plot was set aside as a public square. The first lots taken were primarily in the West part of the Town. The land West of town was laid out in plots for farming, with the land to the North designated as a “community pasture.”

Google Maps' satellite view of Levan, Utah shows the town still looking very much as Charles Price laid it out in 1867:

I don't know where he picked up a surveyor's skills, but he did at least have a plan to work from: the utopian Plat of the City of Zion, first devised by Joseph Smith in 1833 and the template for every Mormon settlement in the West, beginning with Salt Lake City itself. Here, for comparison, is Smith's original 1833 map:

1833 Plat of Zion

Like all town planners in the Utah Territory, Charles would have adapted this map, or one like it, to local conditions and needs.

It is perhaps worth noting that in 1996 the American Planning Association recognized the Plat of Zion with its National Planning Landmark Award for that year.

"The planning and founding of more than 500 communities in the American West is regarded by many planning historians as one of the most significant accomplishments in the history of American city development," said Bruce Parker, president of the Utah chapter of the American Planning Association.
. . .
"The Mormon communities were agriculturally sustainable. They were laid out in a grid of 10-acre blocks, with a community center containing cultural, school, religious and commercial activities. Farming was conducted in surrounding greenbelts outside the city. The plat provided for neighborhood structure (wards), modern zoning (separation of incompatible uses), and land use regulations (residences set back from the street with fine, well-maintained gardens, or groves in the front yard)."

On the surface, these settlements shared many characteristics of other American towns of the time (particularly those in New England), but there were also some significant differences. For example, farm families lived in town rather than spread out over the countryside, and were thus able to share more fully in the life of the community; and water, that perpetual bone of contention in the arid West, was a heavily regulated, communally-owned resource, available to all via a complex system of ditches that adumbrated enclosed water mains. Charles Price was part of that communitarian tradition, both as citizen and as town planner.

Continuing our review of his career, the Utah Legislative Assembly's published County Financial Reports For the Years 1882 and 1883 contains this item:

Statement of amount paid to each county officer of Juab County during the fiscal year ending May 31, A. D. 1883:
Charles Price, county surveyor,  .  .  .  .  .  $28 50

Twenty-eight dollars was, as they say, "real money" back then, but even so, this was obviously no full-time career. Few elected positions were, however: for example, the mayor of St. George, Utah, a larger community far to the south, received about $40 per year in the 1890s. (Coincidentally, while researching this post I learned that this mayor was Charles' brother-in-law, the same one whose marriage he'd attended back in 1843.)

By 1890 he'd been at it for quite awhile, long enough to have settled into a familiar pattern; perhaps dull (or not), but comfortable and certainly more peaceful than his earlier adventures — and then that summer his name appeared in a Salt Lake City newspaper and he found himself in the eye of a political hurricane:


As published in our issue of last Saturday, the Board of Canvassers on reaching the Juab returns received the annexed protest from the "Rev." W. N. P. Dailey, one of the "Liberal" judges of election:

Nephi, Juab County, Utah,
August 5, 1890.

Utah Commission:

Dear Sirs — We beg leave, as judges of election, to call your attention to the nominee for county surveyor in Juab County, on the People's ticket, Charles Price, who has been in polygamy since '62, tho' is not known now to be in such state, has never received amnesty from the President, nor had barrier, to our knowledge, effectually removed.

Very truly,

W. N. P. Dailey,
Presiding Judge.

The Board of Canvassers ruled that they had no jurisdiction in the matter. They have no power to pass upon the qualifications for office. If the "Rev." "Judge" Dailey were not blinded by "Liberal" zeal and personal vanity he would, perhaps, be able to see this point, and also the fact that he has been quite as assumptive and foolish as he wanted the Board of Canvassers to be.

The Deseret Weekly's editorial thunders on for several more long, indignantly partisan paragraphs in rebuttal to Judge Dailey's letter.

An explanation of the political environment might be helpful here. The Liberal Party, founded in 1870, was anti-Mormon and was also known as the "Gentile Party"; the People's Party, formed that same year in opposition to the Liberals, was Mormon in composition. Both parties faded in the 1890s in anticipation of Utah's admission to the Union, after which a fairly equal balance between Republicans and Democrats prevailed for some decades.

As for the "Utah Commission" addressed by Judge Dailey, it was created by Congress pursuant to the Edmunds Act of 1882 in order to oversee elections in the Territory. (What's relevant here is that the Act prohibited polygamists from holding public office; likewise, Judge Dailey's phrase "since '62" alludes to the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of that year.) That said, the judge, whatever other motives he may have had, was apparently a member of the Liberal Party and was thus, in the eyes of the Deseret Weekly at least, intent on making some political hay of Charles' election.

(The editorial doesn't make it clear, but Charles had been re-elected earlier that month, by a huge margin.)

Anyway... getting back to our topic, the Index to Public Documents, State of Utah 1901-1902 lists the results for the 1902 election for Juab County Surveyor as follows:

C. W. Reese, (D.) 1,361;  Charles Price, (R.) 1,252;  Neils Lundstein, (S.) 186.

"Neils Lundstein, (S.)" was evidently a member of Utah's new Socialist Party; as the Utah History Encyclopedia notes, "Socialist Party locals were organized in various cities in Utah in 1901. The party grew out of the Utah Social Democratic party, which ran candidates in 1898 and 1900." (The Socialists went on to have some success in Utah during the Progressive Era.) At this distance, and given the different nature of the parties in those days, it's hard to tell whether Charles might have won without Mr. Lundstein's third-party candidacy; but those 186 votes almost certainly had some effect, and might have made all the difference.

I don't know whether Charles Price held the office of Juab County Surveyor every year between 1863 and 1901, though it seems likely he did; what's clear is that he lost the job in 1902. It must have been a disappointment to him, though at 73 he just might have been content to retire at last. (Or maybe he ran again in 1903.)

And that ends this, er, survey of his life and career.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 09:05:02 AM PDT

  •  I hope this post... (11+ / 0-)

    ...helps shed some light not just on Charles Price, but on a part of American history that's not all that well known. I had fun writing it.

    Thanks for reading.

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 09:13:38 AM PDT

  •  I came upon (9+ / 0-)

    ... an online Census record last night.  The scanned original census page.  Discovered my great grandfather wasn't an only child after all.  He had a sister; a sister who had children.  (Found his marriage license, too, but all that gave me was a location.)

    But the thing that's kinda cool is that those Census pages have addresses.  So I went to Google maps, street level, to check out the residence locations I found.  That was fun.  Just last evening that was.

    Grab all the joy you can. (exmearden 8/10/09)

    by Land of Enchantment on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 09:29:02 AM PDT

  •  great diary (6+ / 0-)

    great history great writing.

    The world that you are hearing now is the same world that I see. from "I Hear Your Hand" by Mary Jane Rhodes.

    by raina on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 09:41:09 AM PDT

  •  This is what makes family history (9+ / 0-)

    so interesting - putting our micro (family) histories in context with the macro history.  So many moving parts. It helps us to learn not just the "whats", but also to understand the "whys".

    I'd like to think it's a way for us to prevent repeating the same old mistakes over and over, but, well  ....

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to fulfill it

    What have I learned from this diary?

    1.  I hadn't thought before about the supply lines that needed to be established along the way of the wagon trails.  I should think some general stores/supply posts that specialized in supplying these wagon trains made quite a tidy sum of money.  I wonder how well they were protected.  

    2.  The farmers lived in towns.  What an interesting concept.  My farmer ancestors, mostly in Iowa, lived on their farmland (as did their German ancestors), but I certainly can see from your explanation the benefits of doing that.  I should think it would also be easier to provide protection for the community that way.  That's called, "thinking outside the box".

    •  "Community"... (6+ / 0-)

      ...was all-important, and was something they understood differently (just as they saw "family" differently) than other Americans did, and was the basis for the repeated experiments in communalism they tried from the 1830s to the 1890s. This sense of community often caused resentment and problems with outsider neighbors; it also promoted a kind of insularity that's still too prevalent in Mormon-majority areas.

      Thanks for your great comment!

      There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

      by slksfca on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 10:09:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  history, genealogy, and maps! (8+ / 0-)

    Combined with an ancestor who was a surveyor ... who could ask for more?

    I love stories like this ... combing through seemingly arcane details, coupled with known family details, to discover a rich story. Love it, love it.


    Related to your previous posting on the registered brand marks :) I've been waiting for an opportunity to share this link with you. My ancestor John Cary, was the first town clerk of Bridgewater. I have seen "complaints" in some old published genealogies that he was pretty good at recording the vitals on his own children/grandchildren in the records, but not so much any other families' (oops). However, there is a lot interesting minutia on town events, and talks about various brand marks used by townspeople on their livestock. This link"should" take you the relevant pages, but if not, they are page 4 (item 14) and page 6 (item 25).

    "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

    by klompendanser on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 10:17:19 AM PDT

    •  That's fascinating. (7+ / 0-)

      The first thing that strikes me is the difference between the text-based description in your 17th-century record and the more efficient (though less flavorful) graphical presentation in my 19th-century document.

      I just love stuff like this. Really, are there any details too insignificant or mundane when it comes to learning about what life was actually like for the grandcestors? :-)

      Thanks for your kind words.

      There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

      by slksfca on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 10:32:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have a John Cary as a relative (6+ / 0-)

      who I can't get past as having been born in Pennsylvania in 1793.. He settled into Holmes Co, Ohio in the early 1800's I was  searching around on ancesty last night I came across your John Cary in Bridgeport Mass. I have also come across a land grant to a John Cary from his service in the American Revolution for the said land in Ohio.  Wonder if we could be related somehow, way back when.

      •  hmmm--very likely (6+ / 0-)

        My ggg-Grandfather Nathan Cary/Carey was born in Luzerne CO, PA in 1793 and moved his clan to Wisconsin in 1845/6. His father and several brothers were in the Rev War ... there are bunch of cousins that served in the war (for the most part in CT regiments as they were part of the CT Yankee invasion of PA--which I've been promising to do a diary on).

        I know for a fact that a lot of the original John Cary's descendants ended up in Ohio ... including the families of the 19th century poets  Phoebe and Alice Cary, as well as Carys more closely related to me. Have you checked the John Caryand Eleazer Carygenealogies online? There are holes and mangled syntax, but the info was extremely helpful to me ... and old county histories and DAR records helped fill in some blanks when census/land records were foggy.

        Also, the Cary family association is still alive and kicking if these sources don't help.

        "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

        by klompendanser on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 12:01:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for all the links and (4+ / 0-)

          I will check them out.  I have looked on ancestry at some families but alot had not sources or citations. All I know is what I have found in census records, and old letters written during the Civil War by this  John Cary's granddaughter Minerva Jane Bysel, to her future husband Samuel Ira Bronson Conine. They are my great-great grandparents. Look forward to your doing a dairy on CT Yankee invasion. Only thing I know about that war, is what  I was taught in school. My education is sadly lacking  on it  when it comes to understanding it along with the geneaology aspect of it.

          •  drives me nuts when the sources aren't cited! (4+ / 0-)

            'cause how can you trace the trail?

            Happy to oblige. I'm in contact with the guy who is in the process of updating/correcting the old  Cary genealogies ... he was very helpful in pointing out a mistranscription in the 1850 census, which opened a floodgate of other information for me.

            He especially wants to include the "lost lines" ... ie, the people who have the notation "went west" ... he is trying to narrow "west" down to specifics, whether they be Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin. ;) I can dig out his email address and send you a PM.

            "If you are sure you understand everything that is going on around you, you are hopelessly confused." Walter Mondale

            by klompendanser on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 02:54:07 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  I forgot to mention how much I loved (7+ / 0-)

    your reference to the wagon-driving women! It is so hard to really get a handle on everyday life in those years long gone. It's hard to imagine a woman getting up at daybreak, hitching up the mules or oxen or horses and setting out across the prairie or the mountain road to deliver dinner (mid day meal) to the men out tending the fields. Then coming home and doing loads and load of wash - that's scrubbing or pounding with a rock and rinsing and hanging up to dry. Then baking pies, bisquits, bread, maybe grabbing a chicken and wrenching its neck off then dressing it and a couple of rabbits or squirrels for a yummy stew for supper. That would be after gathering potatoes and other vegetables from the garden she tended and then washing and peeling them. Makes me wanna take a nap just thinking of it.

    Man's work is from sun to sun; woman's work is never done!
    (Somebody else said that.)

    Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

    by figbash on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 10:27:22 AM PDT

    •  Thanks! (7+ / 0-)

      I almost didn't include that bit, but really, how could I not? Luckily the family connection with "Aunt" Mary Ann gave me all the excuse I needed. :-)

      I agree completely that women's stories need to be better acknowledged, and honored.

      BTW, about the reference to the 13 crossings of the "Platt" River: the journals I've read are full of stories about wagons (driven by grown men, including another ancestor of mine) overturning while fording rivers. Those women were amazing!

      There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

      by slksfca on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 10:45:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, and... (4+ / 0-) the interest of acknowledging women, here's a pic of Charles' wife, Elsa, that I didn't manage to fit in the post.

      There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

      by slksfca on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 02:00:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I like these mid-week GFHC diaries. (5+ / 0-)

    We need to do them more often (meaning I need to get off my lazy ass and do another diary).

    •  That would be great, IMO! (4+ / 0-)

      Seems to me that the more we in the group write, the more chances we have of luring innocents into our gen-web. ;-)

      And given that there's been a pretty good stream of volunteers for the weekly Open Threads, maybe others will be up for midweek posting too. (Plus, I can't be the only one who gets impatient from Friday to Friday!)

      There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

      by slksfca on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 01:41:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not at all (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        edwardssl, slksfca, klompendanser, Jim H

        Your diary has provided me with an opportunity for instant gratification in expressing a massive amount of self-pity.  We have a fairly extensive genealogy section at the Seattle Public Library, so I decided to see whether I could find a tome that had something (anything!) about an ancestor of mine. Virtually nothing matched ... no Lucas County, Ohio nor Lenawee County, Michigan, etc. I was overcome with a tsunami of envy for all the descendants of all the many, many folks in all those books!

        •  It's all "relative." ;-) (4+ / 0-)

          The self-pity, I mean. On my dad's side the only ancestor I've ever found written about in a book was Henry Keever, the subject of my last post. Even on Mom's side, old Mormon and thus better documented, I've had lots of frustrations. Just last week I finally got hold of an elusive non-published document purported to be the trail journal of my fourth-great grandfather (Elsa Johnson Price's father), only to find that it wasn't written by him at all, but by a traveling companion. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement!

          Anyway, I do get what you're saying. I'm always fighting the feeling that other people's people were luckier when it came to getting documented. :-)

          There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

          by slksfca on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 02:50:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  wonderful diary! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    newdem1960, slksfca, Jim H, klompendanser

    I'd love to hear more about your work to uncover all of the stuff that went into writing this? Like a meta diary. I love the methodology stuff!

    I too love the idea of the farmers living in town. It just seems so much less lonely for the families.

    •  Methodology (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      newdem1960, klompendanser

      It was just a matter of following leads from one to the next and casting the net wider or narrower, depending on the last bit of info obtained... nothing that special about it (and calling it "methodology" seems too... grand!). But maybe a meta diary would be fun. I'll think about it. :-)

      Thanks for the kind words!

      There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

      by slksfca on Thu Oct 06, 2011 at 07:01:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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