POND, Stillman Pond

POND, Stillman Pond

1847 Utah Pioneer and His Family

POND, Stillman Pond
Stillman Pond (1803-1878)

Stillman Pond was born 26 October 1803 at Hubbardston, Worcester County, Massachusetts. Stillman was a son of Preston Pond and Hannah Rice. Stillman lived with his parents until he was twenty years of age, during which time he received a common school education corresponding to the first ten grades of our present day educational system. He worked on his father’s farm and being the oldest, most of the responsibility fell on him. At the same time he learned the trade of harness making by which he used to make a living.

Stillman married Almyra Whittemore on the 22nd of December 1825; and at that time Stillman’s father gave him a tract of land where he made his home. Stillman and Almyra lived there but a short time when they sold his property and moved to Westminster, Worcester, Mass. where Stillman purchased several tracts of land.

Almyra bore Stillman four daughters while living in Westminster the first was Almyra Elizabeth born: on the 2nd of May 1827; and the second Abigail Augusta was born on the 4th of July 1828; and Loenza Alcena was born the 14th of February 1830; and Laura June was born on the 8th of March 1832. Shortly after Laura was born the Pond family moved to Templeton in 1832. Almyra was with their fifth child in 1833 when an epidemic of yellow fever swept through New England. She gave birth to a son Lyman Addison on the 6th of June 1833 and Almyra being sick with yellow fever died on the 25th of July 1833 at the age of 33. Lyman their son died on the 12th of September 1833 in Templeton. Almyra and Lyman were buried in Hubbardston in the family cemetery.

Stillman married the second time to Maria Louisa Davis on the 4th of July 1834 at Templeton were they made their home. Maria not only provided a home of comfort for her husband, but she was a true mother of Almyra and Stillman’s four daughters. These four girls grew to revere and love Maria as their mother. On the 5th of September 1835 at Templeton their first child was born Harriet Miranda. Stillman and his family settled again at Hubbardston and in 1837 he moved with his family to New Salem, Franklin Co. Mass., There on the 18th of July 1837 at New Salem Maria gave birth to a son Lowell Anson. During the following five years he purchased three tracts of land, the first one dated 27 September 1838.

Stillman seemed to have been a speculator in land for he always bought and sold at a profit. Maria bore their third child a son on the 25th of April 1840 Lyman at New Salem. In 1841 missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came to New Salem and were received by the Pond family. The message of the restored gospel brought joy and happiness to their family and gave peace and comfort to the troubled soul of Stillman. Stillman and his family accepted the gospel and were baptized 28 December 1841 by Elder Elias Harris. On July 7th of 1843 Stillman sold his land and the Pond family prepared to settle with the Saints at Nauvoo, Illinois. Before leaving for Nauvoo, Stillman visited his father with the hope of converting him and his family to the restored church. While enthusiastically expounding the truths of the restored church and gospel, Stillman was aroused to indignation when his father, uninterested, fell asleep. As he took his leave for the west, Stillman remarked, “Father, you won’t go to sleep the next time I talk with you.”

In the fall of 1843 the Pond family moved to Nauvoo. Stillman purchased a tract of land about three-fourths of a mile east of the Temple, and directly across the street from the cemetery. It was the easterly part of the city of Nauvoo in what was once a beautiful residential district. On this land he built a red brick home, two stories high. In the front part he established a store. In this home on the 28th of October 1844 Maria gave birth to their fourth child a son, Charles Stillman.

Stillman took an active part in the church and was rewarded for his faithfulness by being ordained an Elder in 1844. He received his patriarchal blessing under the hand of John Smith January 1, 1845. And on May 17, 1845 he was ordained a Seventy and became a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventies. On the 30th of December 1845, Stillman and his wife were permitted to enter the House of the Lord where they received their endowments, and on the 4th of February 1846; he was sealed by authority of the Priesthood to his two wives. Maria stood as proxy for Stillman’s first wife Almyra who died of yellow fever. On the 12th of February 1846 at Nauvoo, Stillman Pond wrote,

“I am perfectly satisfied with the authorities of the Church; consider it my indispensable duty to give heed to council in all things.”

This was the guiding star of his life and he lived by it and exemplified it throughout his entire life.

In Nauvoo, the were Saints continually harassed and persecuted and Stillman and his family did not live in peace. On February 2nd 1846 the migration west began. Stillman and his family remained in Nauvoo until after the battle of Nauvoo in September 1846 when they were driven at the point of a bayonet across the river. Tribulations and hardships were many as the winter set in early and the Mormon refugees were without the proper food, clothing and shelter.

The camp was ravaged by malaria, cholera, and consumption. The Pond family fell victim of all of these diseases. Stillman’s wife, Maria, became consumptive and all the children were afflicted with malaria. Snow fell early on the plains of Iowa and along the way Stillman and Maria buried their son Lowell Anson in September of 1846 on the plains of Iowa. Maria’s body wracked with pain and bowed down with grief for the loss of her son; was unable to walk and was confined to her bed in the back of the wagon with the fever of malaria. In this condition she gave birth to twin boys Joseph and J. Hyrum, the later part of September and the twins died a few days later and were also buried along the trail in Iowa.

The Pond family were all sick with malaria and Stillman, unable drive his team from the buckboard, lay upon his stomach in the wagon. Bracing himself with one arm and peering through a knothole in the dashboard he drove his team with his other hand over the dashboard. It was in this manner he drove the last one hundred and fifty miles of the Iowa Territory. On the 16th of October 1846 they arrived at Winter Quarters on the west bank of the Missouri River.

The influx of refugees into winter quarters was so great that there was not sufficient housing. Many of the new comers were forced to live in tents. Stillman and his family were among those unfortunates. His family lived in tents until after the New Year when they were placed in a log cabin. During this time disease continued to take its toll on the members of the Pond Family. The winter was hard and Stillman and Maria were called upon to shoulder added grief for they shared in the tragedy of winter quarters. In the journals of Horace K. Whitney and Helen Morr Whitney we read these heart-rending items:

“On Wednesday, December 2nd 1846, Laura Jane Pond aged 14 years, daughter of Stillman and Almyra Pond, died with chills and fevers. She was born in 1832 in Westminster, Worcester, Mass.” “Friday December 4th 1846: Harriet M. Pond, aged 13 years, daughter of Stillman and Maria died with chills. She was born September 6th 1833 in Hubbardston, Worcester, Mass.” “Monday December 7th 1846: Abigail A. Pond aged 18 years, daughter of Stillman and Almyra Pond, died with chills. She was born July 14th 1828, at Hubbardston, Worcester County, Mass., She was a wife of Bishop Newell K. Whitney:”

“Friday January 15th 1847: Lyman Pond, aged 6 years, son of Stillman and Maria Pond, died with chills and fever. He was born April 24th 1840 at New Salem, Franklin, Mass.”

Not recorded in their journal, was that on the 5th of January 1847 their son Charles Stillman died at Winter Quarters at the age of 2.

The trials and tribulations of that winter, coupled with the ravages of disease proved too much for Maria the wife of Stillman. All of her six children had died and she had stood at the graveside. Maria Pond was called her rest, Monday May 17th 1847. Stillman Pond was left alone with his oldest daughter, Almyra Elizabeth, wife of Bishop Newell K. Whitney, and third to the oldest daughter Lorenza Alcena, the wife of Joseph Cardon Kingsbury.

In the early summer of 1847, Stillman Pond with his two daughters became members of the second company of pioneers under the leadership of John Taylor. Stillman was under Captain Joseph Mount of the fourth hundred, third ten. In this same company were Major Samuel Russell and his wife, Abigail Thorne, and their infant daughter, Frances, who had been born in October 1846 at winter quarters. The company of pioneers arrived in Great Salt Lake in the early fall of 1847. At this time, according to Emaline B. Wells, who knew Stillman well said this,

“Stillman Pond was one of the wealthiest pioneers. He brought with him bolts and bolts of dry goods and beans:”

It is said that Stillman gave freely of his goods to his fellow pioneers, and also that he furnished beans to Brigham Young. Stillman established his home in Salt Lake City and engaged in farming. His home was on the west end of the city, and the following spring when the crickets swept down from the mountains, he was one of those fortunate pioneers whose crop was saved by the arrival of the seagulls.

In the spring of 1848, Major Samuel Russell deserted his wife and baby for the gold fields of California. Stillman Pond and Abigail Thorne Russell were married in the endowment house February 8th 1849. Stillman legally adopted Abigail’s daughter Frances and she was sealed to his on the 8th of February 1849. Abigail gave birth to their first child Mary Anner born on the 1st of January 1850 at Salt Lake City, Utah. Their second child was a son Charles Stillman born in January 1852 in Salt Lake. He died as an infant. In 1852 Stillman became an officiator under the supervision of Heber C. Kimball, in the endowment work.

He studied astronomy and mathematics during the evenings of 1852 under Orson Pratt. He married the fourth time September 26th 1852 to Elizabeth Bessac, the widow of Joseph Mount, and she bore him one child, a daughter. In 1854 or 1855 she divorced him and married Timothy Foote. Stillman Pond was rewarded for his faithfulness in the work of the church by being ordained senior President of the 35th Quorum of Seventy February 16th 1853. This office he faithfully fulfilled during the remainder of his life. Stillman and Abigail had their third child a son Brigham born on the 9th of June 1853 in Salt Lake City. And Lewis Sumner their fourth was born the 25th of December 1854 at Salt Lake City, Utah.

In 1855 Stillman Pond moved his family to the point of the mountain west of Salt Lake at about the same location of the present town site of Garfield. This move allowed them the needed grazing territory for their cattle. In 1857 the year Johnston’s army made its entrance into the Salt Lake Valley. Stillman took part in the Echo Canyon campaign under Daniel H. Wells against Johnson’s army. Stillman moved his family a second time going south and becoming pioneers at Spanish Fork. Stillman soon won favor in the hearts of his new neighbors his hard work and honesty. Immediately, he assumed the responsibility of religious and civic duties and became an interested builder in this southern section. In Warner’s History of Spanish Fork, it is recorded that Stillman Pond at one time was elected Alderman of the city and later became supervisor of the city streets.

In the spring he was called by President Brigham Young to accompany Bishop Marriner Wood Merrill to go to North Cache Valley. With their meager possessions Stillman and his family joined the pioneers group at Richmond, Cache County. A man named Alma Gay assisted in their move with one pig, a calf, and four yolks of oxen represented the livestock, to make this one hundred fifty mile journey north. The cattle making up the team were secured at Antelope Island in the midst of the Great Salt Lake, as the church had established them there to provide working stock for the saints.

These newcomers were welcomed at Richmond upon the occasion of an Indian disturbance, which according to the daughter, Frances, then 15 years of age, was a “fearful and an annoying period” A place within the fort was assigned to them for their quarters, Soon after, Stillman Pond erected three; log rooms with dirt roofs, located one block east and a little north of the present Utah-Idaho Central R. R. Depot. The spot of ground on which these new log rooms were located is now a part of one of the city streets of Richmond. The two younger members of the family were born here at this location, Martin, 21st May 1862 and Zina, 7th June 1864. In later years a number have heard these two playfully remark, “We were born in the road.” This location within the fort was maintained four years.

Later a five-acre city lot was allowed the family near the fort and subsequently a modern home, for those days, was erected one block north of the Old People’s Store and Creamery Company. This new home was the first frame house to be built in Richmond. Until just recently it has continued to stand on what the early settlers called Pond Conner. For a few years after their arrival in Richmond, conditions were very strenuous for the members of the Pond Family. Food consisted chiefly of boiled wheat and of flour, which was poorly ground and had to be hauled from the nearest mill in Brigham City. Oft times it was so darkened with smut as to render it unwholesome. Sweet foods ordinarily craved by children were scare at this early time and very seldom had.

The farmlands of Stillman Pond were located on both sides of the present state highway north of Richmond on Cherry Creek. It was here that the boys learned their first lessons in farm operations as they assisted their father in plowing the wheat grassland and in irrigating crops without shoes. The feet of the boys would become chapped and often bled. To relieve the soreness as best she could, their mother bathed them in warm bran water. This kindly service during the summertime was one of the special duties of the mother before retiring at night.

Stillman was active in church and religious affairs of the community. During a period of hardship when necessities of life were scarce and when many of the saints were discouraged he received for his comfort and encouragement a patriarchal blessing under the hand of C. W. Hyde, 25 June 1865. This blessing was of great encouragement to him and his family. He was promised that he should accomplish all of his desires in righteousness and that he should live as long as he desired life.

On the 20th of June 1868 his father Preston Pond died at Hubbardston, Mass, Stillman returned to his home. His father died intestate and the estate was distributed by Order of the Court. Stillman shared in this distribution receiving the oldest son’s portion. This more or less changed the fortunes of the family. He returned to Utah with his portion and in October 1868 he invested this capital in the business enterprise called at that time the Richmond Co-op known as the Z.C.M.I. This was the first attempt in America of a department store. This business had grown to be one of the great Mercantile Institutions of the West. He further engaged in the activity of the business by wagon taking farm produce from Richmond to Salt Lake City and would bring back merchandise which was sold in the Richmond Co-op. Upon one occasion while in the City his faithful horses, Mac and Seal, ran away doing considerable damage which cost him three hundred dollars, a terrible expense in those days. Other than this one event, his investment in the Z. C. M. I. proved to be a wise and profitable one.

Stillman married for the fifth time 28th March 1870, To Anna Ragina Swenson (Jacobsen), the widow of Peter Valentine Christensen, at Salt Lake City. Anna bore Stillman four sons. Lysander Christensen born on the 31st of December 1870 in Richmond, Utah. Noah Seander born on the 22nd of December 1872 in Richmond, Utah. And twin boys Moses Alonza and Aaron Alphonzo were born on the 2nd of October 1876 at Richmond, Utah. Aaron Alphonzo died May 1877, an infant at Richmond.

All of his life he engaged himself in building up the country. He was called to do work on the St. George Temple. Accompanied by Tom Dobson, Lewis Petty, C. H. Monson, and Mathew Bell, he drove a span of horses to Southern Utah and returned. While there he hauled rock for the Temple making his home with the family of David Cannon. He was a sincere believer in the Temple work and had he lived to see the completion of the Salt Lake and Logan Temples he would have taken an active part in Temple ceremonies in behalf of his kindred dead. The spirit of Temple work has followed upon several of his descendants who have done much in the accomplishment of this great work. His completed ancestry for eight generations back to the Puritan founders of America has been compiled and the Temple work for all has been done by his children and grandchildren. It would seem that his great desire to save his progenitors has been given to several of his posterity.

He had a generous heart, although somewhat stern and harsh at times, undoubtedly caused by the hardships and sorrow of the tragedy of winter quarters. He was constantly religious, always paying an honest tithe. No one having dealings with him could question his integrity and straight-forwardness. Few men were harder workers and more righteously ambitious. This was exemplified by his having a large pile of chopped wood ready to burn near to the house. Many people followed this way in providing their fall in advance. Until it had become a general practice among the pioneers and their descendants. It is also said that Stillman Pond always had a reserve of firewood stacked in the nearest canyon to replenish the one at home.

After a lingering illness of two years Stillman passed to his rest on the 30th of September 1878, at Richmond, Utah, aged 74 years, 11 months, 4 days. His two wives Abigail and Anna Regina Pond and twelve of his children, seven sons and five daughters survived Stillman.

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