Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Henry and Eliza Tanner's trip to Arizona, Part 1

Henry M. Tanner and Eliza Ellen Parkinson were married January 25, 1877, in the St. George Temple. He was twenty-four and she nineteen. Henry had already received his call to go to Arizona as one of the colonists. They had little more than a month after their marriage to get ready for the journey....

At the time of their marriage, [her father] Thomas Parkinson gave Eliza a milch cow named Red. She was taken to Arizona with other cattle but she was always a little special. George Parkinson, Eliza's brother, says that Eliza included in the news from Arizona items about Red and her calves along with information about the birth of children....

In preparation for their departure, [Henry's father] Sidney Tanner gave a reception and farewell for the young couple in the upstairs of his ample home. In addition to the friends in Beaver who attended were the members of the Hunt family who were also going to Arizona. For the past year the Hunts had been living on Cove Creek two and a half miles from Joseph City, Sevier County, Utah. The Hunts had eight children, the oldest of whom was but one year younger than Eliza Tanner. They had three wagons of their own, one drawn by two yoke of oxen, one by two span of horses and a light wagon with one span of horses. The oxen were driven by a young man anxious for a bit of adventure by the name of Isadore Wilson. He was a neighbor of the Hunts. John Hunt drove the four horse team and two of the girls drove the light wagon. Also in the Hunt company was a four mule team owned by Manasseh Blackburn, also anxious for the adventure of the trip. His wagon carried mostly heavy supplies belonging to the Hunts.

Before leaving Beaver, Thomas Parkinson had mixed a large quantity of flour with soda and probably cream of tarter so that all that was necessary in making bread [biscuits?] was to add salt and water. The company left Beaver February 21, 1877, accompanied by Father Sidney Tanner who went one day's journey with them and hauled feed for their animals. Enroute to St. George, Henry and Eliza went by way of Toquerville for a few days visit with relatives. Emma Ellen Stapley, cousin of Eliza, was at that time a girl of fifteen. Perhaps she little dreamed that ten years later she would be going to Arizona too....

This party of pioneers did not go by way of Lee's Ferry as the earlier settlers had done. John Hunt and Henry Tanner had been asked to explore a better crossing of the Big Colorado River at Pearce's Ferry below the Grand Canyon. As early as 1862, this crossing had been used by Jacob Hamblin, but not until December, 1876, was regular service established by Harrison Pearce, father of James Pearce, later a pioneer in Taylor, Arizona. The ferry was located at Grand Wash, just a few miles east of the Nevada line. The location is now submerged in Lake Mead. Whatever advantage this crossing was thought to have, evidently did not prove to be and it was not used again by the Arizona settlers.

Excerpts from George S. Tanner, Henry Martin Tanner: Joseph City Arizona Pioneer, 1964, pp 13-14. Some minor editing corrections made to the text.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

Picture of Lake Mead from www.flickr.com/photos/wouterkiel/3442561279/.

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