Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wessman 14: Philip Pugsley, Part 2 of 5

The company, under Captain Jacob Gates, started with ten in a wagon and all badly provided with provisions. The wreck which had been made, in throwing away the bulk of the company’s luggage, will illustrate the frightful sacrifice of property in these early emigrations of the Mormons to Utah. Enough at various times has been left on the frontiers to have made the people comparatively comfortable, with their simple wants as first settlers, and which they had, after their arrival in the mountains, to replace by the purchase of “States goods” from our merchants, at the cost of years of toil; but Philip Pugsley preserved something from the wreck which he greatly valued at the time. With the last money he had in Liverpool he purchased a few carpentering tools and two spades and shovels, for the purpose of building himself a house on his arrival in Salt Lake City. When the company threw away two-thirds of their luggage at Keokuk, he lent his spades and shovels around, which, being so greatly needed on the journey, were thus preserved to him for their original purpose.

Arriving at Council Bluffs, the company stopped awhile for preparation to cross the Plains. Here charcoal was needed for blacksmithing purposes, but, hunting the country around, no charcoal could be found. Pugsley now came to their help, and Captain Jacob Gates, learning that he understood charcoal burning, sent him across the river to burn charcoal; the next morning the coal was ready for the waiting smiths.

The company arrived in Salt Lake City on the last day of September. Pugsley’s family at the time consisted of his wife and eldest son, Joseph, who is now the “boss” of the Salt Lake Soap Works [probably Salt Lake Soap Company]. Sister Pugsley was sick and the family possessed not so much as a cent of money. The first thing to be done on their arrival was to get something to eat, so Brother Philip went to seek employment down at Brother Ira Ames’ who was just starting in the tanning business. At this juncture Brother Ames’ son, Clark, was called to go on a mission in April with Parley P. Pratt to South America [Pratt's mission to South America was in 1851-52, too early for this sequence of events; Clark Ames was called on a mission to Santa Clara; the mission was somehow connected with Parley P. Pratt]; so Pugsley was engaged to take his place in the leather manufactory. Isaac Young and Pugsley ran the tannery for Ames for a year; and, at the death of Isaac Young, he ran it himself on shares with Ames, continuing up to the time of the move South [Added by granddaughter: "when Johnston’s Army marched through the city"]. He also ran Golding & Raleigh’s tannery on shares. The employers furnished the means and he the labor, for one third of the leather.

Those were days that tried men’s souls and the courage and self-sacrifice of the women not less. Pugsley and his wife shared with the early settlers of Utah the poverty of those times.  The first winter after their arrival was very severe, and work was stopped. Brother Philip now brought his tools into requisition, in making chairs, tables and other things for household use. The family lived in a tent for several months, until very deep snow fell, when they got into an old house, which appeared ready to tumble down about their ears. Money and provisions were very scarce; obtaining a few beets the wife boiled them down in a bake-skillet, pressed the juice out and then boiled it down into molasses. 

The first “two bits” [25 cents] that he got in money was for a piece of leather. With this he bought a shin of beef, and his wife boiled it every day for two weeks, until broth could no longer be extracted from the bones.

It is only by the narration of such personal experiences, that the reader of to-day is enabled to realize the privations which the early settlers of this Territory had to endure, for the experience of one in this respect is the story of the whole, with merely some variety, and the example of a case is suggestive of a thousand-and-one needs of the community when a bushel of wheat was worth its weight in silver.

Part 1
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

The picture is of Philip and Martha Pugsley. The photo of Council Bluffs, Iowa (red sunset) is from The photo of Kamas, Utah (aspens) is from

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