Our Family Legacy
Abraham Washburn was born March 17, 1805 at Nine Partners, Duchess, New York, son of Daniel Washburn and Ann Wright. He had two brothers, Isaac and Jacob, and one sister, Philena. His father was a farmer and one of the early settlers of Mt. Pleasant, New York.
His first ancestor in America, William Washburn, was a pioneer of Connecticut and Long Island, New York. We have in our possession a copy of a deed of a part of Long Island from the Indians to William Washburn and others. William Washburn still had property in England, his son John died while there looking after the family interests in that country.
As we come down the line of ancestors, they were pioneers of Westchester and Duchess, and other counties of New York. Now their descendants are scattered in various parts of the United States and other countries.
Abraham Washburn’s father died July 14, 1812. His mother had delicate health from the time of the death of her husband until her own death March 8, 1824.
Young Abraham had many responsibilities as a child, he being the oldest of the family of children. At an early age he assisted his mother in the management of the farm and in caring for the younger children.
From the time of his father’s death he helped his mother with washing, ironing, cooking, and many home duties and as he grew older he took charge of the family affairs and was like a father to the family. He looked after the education of himself and the children and put the boys out to learn trades when they were at the proper age, as no boy’s education was complete in those days until he mastered some trade. He put his younger brother Jacob to learn the copper’s trade, but young Jacob was not satisfied He rebelled and ran away but Abraham brought him back and he finished his apprenticeship, but did not follow the trade for long. As he grew to manhood he decided his job was too small for him, so he studied for the ministry and was a minister in one of The Methodist churches of New York City until his death which occurred after 1870.
Abraham was educated in the school of those early times, plus continual study through his entire life and late in life was pronounced by educators a well educated man. His trade was tanner and shoemaker.
On March 16, 1824 shortly after the death of his mother, he married Miss Tamar Washburn who was born July 4, 1805 at Mt. Pleasant, Westchester, New York. She was the daughter of Jesse Washburn and Hannah Tompkins. Her father, Jesse, was the brother of Abraham’s grandfather, Daniel Washburn.
After his marriage Abraham went into the business of tanning leather and making shoes. In his establishment men learned the arts of tanning leather and making shoes. A shoe store was one department of his business house, he was very successful in each department and his business grew with the years.
In about the year 1836-7 Parley P. Pratt came to New York preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Abraham Washburn was soon converted. He said this new gospel was like a light in the darkness and he thought that every one who heard it would see the beauty of it but his wife felt differently. At first she fought it with all her energy. Shortly after he was baptized into the Church Brother Pratt was holding a meeting one evening when a messenger arrived telling Brother Washburn that his wife had fainted. As he arose to leave the room Brother Pratt said, “Brother Washburn, be not alarmed about your wife, I promise you in the name of the Lord that she will soon be a member of this Church.” In a very few weeks she was baptized.
Abraham Washburn was raised a Quaker. Their Sabbath began Saturday evening at sun down and ended Sunday evening at sun down. During this Sabbath no one could laugh aloud or engage in any pleasant past time. Brother Washburn said it was very hard for the young people with their fun loving natures to keep the Sabbath day strictly.
In his young manhood before he heard the gospel, he investigated other religions and felt that the Methodist was more to his liking than the other, so he joined that church and persuaded all his family to join it. In his young manhood he saw the evils of tobacco and whiskey and decided that they were very harmful, and that he would leave them entirely alone.
After joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints his mind was lit up by the Spirit of the Lord and he felt that if he just explained its principles to his brothers they would see the beauty of it immediately and join with him in his new faith, but he was sorely disappointed; for though he labored diligently they did not see the light.
Abraham was baptized and confirmed a member by Parley P. Pratt and ordained a teacher by Orson Pratt and later an Elder by one of the Pratt brothers. He was appointed and set apart by either Parley P. or Orson Pratt to preside over the Branch of the Church at Sing Sing, New York. While Abraham was presiding over this Branch, Orson Pratt went to England on a mission. On arriving at New York he stayed with the Washburns until his vessel sailed. The evening before he sailed Abraham asked him while they were at a meeting what about money to pay his fare. Brother Pratt said the Lord would provide.
Abraham Washburn intended to hand him the necessary money the next morning before going to work, but it slipped his mind. Later in the day he rushed home to give Brother Pratt the money, but on arriving home was told by his wife that the ship had sailed earlier than Brother Pratt had thought it would, so Brother Pratt was gone. Abraham was very sad about it and told his wife that he was sure that Brother Pratt had not money for his fare. His wife Tamar told him not to worry about Pratt for she had given him money for his fare to England and more, she said from the seventy-five dollars which was her monthly allowance for household purposes she had a good savings account. She had given Brother Pratt plenty for his needs and had a fine sum left.
Abraham Washburn presided over the branch at Sing Sing until about 1841 when he sold his business bouse to the husband of Sally Kider a near relative of his wife. He then took his family and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. There he was ordained a seventy by Hyrum Smith. He became a member of the school of the Prophets taught by Joseph Smith and also was a member of the Nauvoo Legion.
Abraham was a close friend of the Prophet Joseph and other leaders of the Church. They visited at each other’s homes and on one occasion when the Prophet was visiting the Washburns, he gave Sister Washburn a special blessing. He told her that her salvation in the Celestial Kingdom was secure on account of her liberality.
Abraham and Tamar Washburn received their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple, January 6, 1846. They went through all the persecutions and trials of the saints after they came to Nauvoo.
Abraham assisted in all public Works, the finishing of the temple and did all in his power to further the work of the Lord. When Joseph gave his last address to the Legion, Abraham stood at the corner of the platform from which Joseph was speaking. He was there when the Prophet and his dear brother Hyrum were so foully murdered. He was at the meeting in Nauvoo when the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham Young.
Abraham sometimes related the incidents of those trying times when the people were overcome by great grief on account of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum. Mob violence was everywhere about them. Sidney Rigdon trying to establish himself president of the church, the people were confused and did not know who should be president of the Church. As a conference was called the Apostles came home from their missionary labors. It was a gloomy trying time.
At a meeting of the conference Brigham Young arose to speak, he was the president of the twelve apostles, as he began to speak the people were startled and some arose to their feet, for it was the voice of Joseph and as they looked, Brigham seemed to be transformed and looked like Joseph.
To the people who saw and heard this there was no doubt in their hearts and minds as to who should be president of the church.
Just before the people were forced to leave Nauvoo, they knew they would have to leave and go to the Rocky Mountains, Abraham’s ready cash was about exhausted and he did not know how to get money to fit himself for that great journey across the plains. The thought occurred to him to write to his brothers and get some help, because he knew they had plenty, but he also knew that if he told them all, they would not help him because they were not in sympathy with his people. So he wrote a history of the mobbings, persecutions, hardships and trials he had gone through since he saw them, and then added that he was tired of it. In a remarkable short time a nice roll of money came to him, enough money to fit him out well with teams, wagons and provisions for his journey.
He left Nauvoo and was among the first of the saints to reach Winter Quarters. He assisted in building houses for those who would come later. When the early pioneers were going to the Rockies in 1847 he loaned one yoke of oxen to assist them. These oxen were to be returned so that he would be ready to start early in the spring of 1848.
There was a colony of Infidels who had taken up land and made a small settlement a distance from Winter Quarters. While Abraham was waiting for his team to be returned he went and worked for this colony. They liked him very much and told him if he would stay with them they would divide their land with him, but he declined.
Early in the spring of 1848 while working for this colony and waiting for his ox team to be returned, as he went out to his work one morning there stood a fine yoke of oxen with the yoke on all ready to be hitched to a wagon. He went immediately and inquired of every man living in that section of the country, but none knew anything about the cattle. He accepted them as a gift from God, a direct answer to his prayers, for he had earnestly prayed for the return of his team so he could continue his journey. He prepared immediately to start for Utah. He arrived quite early that season.
While he was living in Winter Quarters that first winter helping to build houses for those who came later, there arrived with one of the companies in late December or early January a young woman Flora Clarinda Gleason Johnson driving her own mule team. She had been married as second wife to Benjamin Franklin Johnson in the Nauvoo Temple. She and his other family had started out from Nauvoo together, but he decided he wanted another woman so he lagged behind to keep in touch with that other woman and let Clarinda go along with the company which they had started with, so she arrived at Winter Quarters alone, shortly before her child was born. Abraham Washburn went to work preparing a house for her, but before the chimney was completed on January 15, 1847 her baby, Clarinda Huetta, was born while she was living in her wagon.
Next spring she continued her journey alone with her baby driving her mule team the entire distance from Nauvoo to Salt Lake Gity. On one occasion while crossing a river her baby came near falling in while she was managing the team.
She had become alienated from her husband on account of his behavior, and laid her case before President Brigham Young and he procured a divorce for her. Flora Clarinda and Abraham Washburn were married February 11, 1849 in President Brigham Young’s office in Salt Lake City.
Jedadiah Grant was married to his wife Susan at the same time. The two couples were in the President’s office together.
Early in 1849, Abraham was called by Brigham Young to go and help make a settlement in Manti, Utah. The company arrived there November 21, 1849. The next day November 22, his wife Flora Clarinda gave birth to the first white child born in Sanpete County. They named her Almeda Maria, she became the wife of Alphonzo Wingate. The night after her birth there was a terrific snow storm. Next morning the snow was knee deep.
Before moving to Manti the country had been looked over by competent men. Grass was plentiful all down the valley in the region of the Sanpitch River. Wild hay was put up for the teams and some cows, and it was decided that a large number of stock could winter out there easily. So Abraham took with him from Salt Lake City about thirty head of cattle. The snow came so deep that the grass was all covered up and all the extra cattle died before spring and the settlers had a hard time to keep their horses and much cows.
When the people had been there but a short time the Ute Indian warriors came there and camped. They had been fighting with other tribes of Indians and had been victorious so they held a war dance for three days and they compelled the settlers to come and watch them dance. During the early part of the new settlement, Indian Chief Walker had his band of Indians camped for some time near the mouth of Manti Canyon, and on several occasions in the early morning he would ride into the settler’s camp, all excited swinging his arms and gesticulating, saying that the Great Spirit had visited him in the night and told him not to kill those white people because they were his children the same as the Indians were. The people felt that his nightly visions of the Great Spirit were all that saved them from his hostile band.
The people built their first houses on the south side and against the hill where now stands the temple. Father Morley was Presiding Elder of the colony and he had a love, a reverence for that temple hill. But the place was infested with snakes, often the people found them in their houses.
Those first little cabins had just a little mud plastering on and the snakes found their way through quite easily. One morning Flora Clarinda found a large rattle snake on her mantle place. President Young came to visit the new settlement and found them all living against the hill.
He told them to survey their town site, build a strong fort, and move out away from the hill. He said the Indians could come down from the hill and massacre every man, woman, and child before they were aware of what was happening. The people took his advice and built a good sized fort, the northwest corner of which was directly across from the present Manti City Hall. A little rock school house now stands on the spot where the northwest corner of the fort was and on that spot Flora Clarinda Washburn had her home. Several of her children were born there, the last one born there being Lorena Eugenia Washburn Larsen.
This heroic colony were true pioneers. While they built homes, cleared the land and got it under cultivation, they had to keep a watchful eye on the bands of Indians who roamed through that part of the country, and occasionally had to battle with crickets and grasshoppers which without a mighty united effort would have destroyed all their crops. They also had to produce all their shoes and clothing.
Hyrum and Parley Washburn have both stated that while living in Manti about the year 1862-3 that the grasshoppers had almost destroyed the crops and when the next planting time came seed wheat was so scarce that their father was compelled to plant the small amount of fifteen pounds per acre, but through the blessings of the Lord he reaped forty-five bushels per acre.
The women took the wool newly shorn from the sheep, cleaned it, then with hand cards, carded, spun, dyed and wove it into suitable cloth for men’s, women’s and children’s clothing.
One year when the crops had been almost destroyed by insects, Abraham took Flora Clarinda to Sessions Settlement and left her and her family there while he went to the Platt river and helped run a ferry.
Abraham Washburn built a small tannery where both upper and sole leather was tanned with a tan bark which he procured in the mountains nearby. He also built a shoe shop where he and others made shoes for the towns people.
Abraham was a studious and a kind man. He advocated free schools in those early days and often said that every man has a right to be well born and educated. Each morning he told his children to be kind to their mother and save her all the steps they could He was always active in church affairs. He was a Ward Teacher during the time that he lived in Manti. He was the first superintendent of Sunday School in Manti. He was also a member of the first city council.
He built his permanent home one block east of Main Street. He owned the lot next south of the little fort on main street, and then straight through to the next street east. His lot on Main Street is where a part of the main business section is now on the east side.
In the spring of 1864 there were some glowing reports circulated about the fine opportunities for making a settlement at Marysvale. Thomas Bowles from Nephi, several men from Fountain Green, Abraham Washburn and Edward Faux from Manti loaded their wagons with farm implements, seed, grain, and some provisions and started for that place. On getting as far as Marysvale hill they met some men who told them they could just as well go back for there was six months winter and seven months more of cold weather at Marysvale.
They came back to where Monroe now is and looked over the land and decided to make a settlement there. While Ed Faux surveyed the land, Abraham Washburn took his son Hyrum and went up the canyon to find out something about the water and wood supply. They visited the hot springs and he examined that water and declared that it contained curative qualities. Hyrum said his father cleared out a spring and took a bath, perhaps the first bath that a white man had taken in that water.
Abraham and Thomas Bowles decided to return to their homes, but the majority remained and made preparations to make a permanent settlement. A town one mile square was surveyed and laid out into lots or blocks with wide streets. When Abraham and the others reached Manti again all the neighbors came to hear a report of their trip. During the evening while neighbors were in busily talking, baby Orson, the youngest of the Washburn children, fell into a bed of hot coals in the fireplace and was seriously burned, but not fatally.
In May 1865 the Black Hawk War commenced, and Abraham Washburn with nearly every other man in Sanpete and surrounding counties had to help protect themselves, their families, and property from their savage foes. There was standing guard on the outposts of the settlement, guarding the cattle in large corrals where they had been brought for safety, and many other duties incident to such a time.
Those who were living in the parts of the country affected by that war will remember the feeling of dread and excitement which took hold of every individual at the sound of the bass drum in the night time. That was the signal that the Indians had made a raid on some settlement, or had killed some individuals, or had or were running off the cattle from some section of the country. It was also the signal for every able bodied man to gather on the public square ready for immediate action. The mothers and children were terrified as the fathers and big brothers dressed hurriedly, took what guns, often an old musket, and ammunition were on hand, and rushed out in the darkness to learn what had happened, and if necessary go in pursuit of Indians.
The majority of the locks on the house doors were very primitive in those days, they consisted of a long wooden latch on the inside, with a catch nailed on the door casing for the latch to fall into, and just above the latch was a small hole in the door through which a buck skin string was put to the outside of the door. You pulled the string and the latch would fly up and the door opened. On occasions when the men were all called out in the night time the mother or some member of those left in the house would pull the string inside and all hands would begin to move a large flour box or the heaviest movable thing in the house against the door for greater protection.
All members of the family left at home would huddle into some corner filled with anxiety waiting for news of the cause of the night call.
There were many soldier boys, volunteers from Salt Lake and surrounding country who came to Manti to help the settlers during that war and their headquarters were in the little fort just back of Abraham Washburn’s corrals. His young son Hyrum often helped take care of their horses, and many are the good meals that some of the officers and men ate at his house. Among the soldiers was Benjamin Ashby an old and special friend of Abraham Washburn.
As I remember it Mr. Vance and Houts, two soldiers from the camp, who ate their breakfast at our house in the morning were killed during the day at twelve mile creek.
Abraham Washburn had an old style flint lock musket with a bayonet on the end, which he had used as a member of the Nauvoo Legion, but when the Indians got on the war path he sold a fine ox valued at forty dollars for a new Ballard gun.
There were a few Indians who had worked for Abraham prior to the war, and some of them loved him dearly for his kindness to them and his honesty in his dealings with them. Among them was Indian Joe, a chief and on a few occasions when the whites were in battle with them or very close on their trail he would call to some men whom he knew and send a message to Abraham and others of his dear friends. On some occasions when cattle were being driven off, he would turn back some that had the brand of his special friends on them. It was understood quite generally among the men that he was a friend of the whites.
Years after that war Indian Joe met some of Abraham Washburn’s sons in Grass Valley and he hugged and kissed them for the love which he bore for their father. On one occasion after Abraham moved to Monroe the son of Indian Joe, who was now a chief, brought his band of Indians there and when he saw Abraham he was overjoyed and gave him his finest buffalo robe as a token of his father’s great love for him.
After the Indian war in the fall of 1871 Abraham took a part of his family, sons and sons-in-law and went to Monroe to see what the prospects were for getting farms for them, as his great desire was to keep his family together. They all decided to move to Monroe the next spring so his sons and sons-in-law worked a part of that winter on the old canal along with William Warnock, one of their Manti friends who had decided to move with them. In the spring of 1872 they sold their possessions at Manti and moved to Monroe. Abraham Washburn continued to work at his trade of shoe making but he sent to Salt Lake City for his supplies of all kinds. At that time many men were working at the Marysvale mines and from them he received many orders for fine boots and shoes, which were promptly filled.
After a few years the United Order came and Abraham was called to go to Glenwood and preside over the county tannery to make leather mainly for the people in the United Order in Sevier County. He held this position until the Order was dissolved. He had Andrew Hepler, Charles Segmiller, Rudolph Richambough, and others working under his supervision in that tannery.
His wife Tamar kept house for him there and during that period she received a legacy from her father’s estate in New York. Again her liberality was exhibited. She gave fine presents to all her own children and to some members of her husband’s other family. The Washburn family turned everything they owned except their house lot and sewing machine into the United Order.
Before the United Order was organized, Abraham dreamed that he saw President William Seginiller, who was then president of Sevier Stake and Tompson Lisonbee, the Bishop of Monroe, holding men down and forcibly shaving their whiskers off. In the years that followed the dream was fulfilled, not exactly in the way in which he saw it.
Abraham was always looking for opportunities to serve God or his fellowman. He was a saint in every sense of the word. He was a gentle kind nurse in his own family. His wife Flora Clarinda was always busy with many public duties and often when members of the family were not well, Abraham would nurse the children while his wife Clarinda went out to nurse, comfort, and cheer others.
At Christmas time early in the 1870’s the Washburn relatives all joined together and had a large Christmas Tree, the first one in Monroe, and Abraham was Santa Claus.
Abraham was a peace loving man who always put oil on the troubled waters and tried to draw the innermost feelings of people together and cement them with love and good fellowship. He looked for and found the good, the genuine qualities in his fellowmen. In the early days in Monroe there was a crowd of boys who did many little things which were very disagreeable to some of the people. Abraham said that any one who is capable of doing mean things is just as capable of doing good if you just get them turned in the right direction.
Abraham was a very hospitable man and had many fine friends, dear friends he had known and associated with in Nauvoo, friends he had worked with in Winter Quarters and on his journey across the plains, and these friends were often his guests. Even in the early days in Monroe when hay was scarce I have known times when he has fed as many as eleven teams in one night, teams belonging to his traveling friends who he housed and fed. His children sometimes felt that it was quite a burden to have so many people to look after.
Abraham and his friends, after the evening meal would sit and relate their early experiences in the church. Those who listened to these discussions grew spiritually while volumes of unwritten church history was given verbally by those who took part in it and to those yet living those talks of the early days are treasured memories.
Abraham was ordained a patriarch for Sevier County by Apostle Albert Carington in 1884. He gave one hundred sixty-two blessings in nineteen months. Bent F. Larsen, his then small grandson, received the first blessing.
Abraham Washburn died of brights disease at Monroe, Sevier, Utah June 17, 1886 and was buried in Monroe. For three successive Sundays after his funeral in Sacrament Meeting the speakers referred to the splendid life of Abraham Washburn.
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