WRIGHT: John Pannell

John Pannell Wright

John Pannell Wright was born on 18 January 1805 in St. Swithins parish, Lincoln Lincolnshire, England to George Wright and Mary Pannell. He was a man of faith who loved the Bible but was not affiliated with any church. He married Mary Hill Fish at St. Peters Eastgate in Lincoln Lincolnshire on 31 July 1825. He had worked on a ship from cabin boy to captain and was foreman of the Wake Shipyards, a very good job which provided many nice things for his family. He was a good cabinet maker and their home always reflected his skill. He loved his family very much. He had nine children. Three boys died in infancy leaving two boys and five girls to share the beautiful home he had so lovingly built for them. Nothing was too good for his family. They enjoyed together the best in drama, concerts, and books and at Christmas time they enjoyed the “Messiah” together.

Then it happened–that which changed their lives. John met Elder Querton, a humble man at Goole, Yorkshire, England, and was taught the Gospel. The family that had shared everything together also shared this new message. The Book of Mormon took its place with the Bible. On the 18th of June 1845, John Pannell Wright embraced the Gospel and during the next three years, through study and prayer, his wife and children followed him into the waters of baptism.

Old friends shook their heads at them, but being humble and sincere in their new faith, new friends found a welcome in their home. There was a song of their new faith that stirred them: “, Come to Zion, Ere Her Floods of Anger Flow”. His daughter whom he lovingly called Betsy, married Robert Pinder. The remainder of the family were preparing to make their pilgrimage to Zion when Robert Shipley one of the new faith, joined their plans. They looked for the last time at their beautiful home and bid adieu to their merry England and joined the migrating Saints. At Hull, their daughter Harriet was married to Robert Shipley in the St. James Church, in the parish of Holy Trinity, Kingston upon Hull, on the 3rd day of December 1848. January 1849 found them on board a ship bound for the Promised Land.

How, unlike Zion, they thought, as they landed at New Orleans with its black and white slaves and free men. They took the first boat they could and came up the great river to St. Lewis and on to Council Bluffs, Iowa in May 1849. This was on the steamship Liza Stewart. This place was surely not Zion with its moving mass of people; some coming, some going, scantly built houses, people making wagons. It was a place to prepare to go “Far away in the West.

The Spirit of God was surely with them on the first Sabbath. All work was laid aside and the Saints all joined together for song and prayers.

“Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard!

Tis not so, all is right.

Why should we think to earn a great reward

If we now shun the fight?

Gird up your loins, fresh courage take

Our God will never us forsake;

And soon we’ll have this truth to tell-

All is well All is well! “

Their daughter Elizabeth Wright Pinder did not come to America with them at that time but did come later. On the morrow, the Wrights and Shipleys joined with the throng to make preparations for their journey west. John built a log cabin for his family and went to work helping build wagons for the journey. Emma Wright, a daughter, was not too busy to see James Dalley who arrived with hundreds of rings and several trunks. On the 16th of August 1850, they were married.

The people of Florence, Nebraska, tried to keep the Saints from getting their grain ground into flour. They placed the guards along the way to prevent them from getting to the mill. John Pannell Wright needed flour for his family, so he knelt down and prayed to the Lord to blind the eyes of the guards. When the Saints passed by the guards were sound asleep, drunk, with their rifles at their sides.

During their stay at Council Bluffs, many had been sick with cholera. The wrong foods, infected water, and crowded conditions had favored the growth of the disease. The two Wright boys were afflicted. George Frederick passed away on the 23rd of September, 1850, and was buried in the Council Bluffs Mormon cemetery. The Wright line hung by a thread for a long time but thanks to good sturdy stock, it prevailed. John Fish Wright recovered.

John Pannell Wright and his family remained in Council Bluffs until the spring of 1852. Their daughter Harriet and her husband Robert Shipley had a chance to drive a team to Zion for their passage, so had gone on before. They left their log cabin with the fire burning, ready for the incoming Saints to take possession of it and they joined the migration west. He was ordained a High Priest on 1 Sep 1850 at Kanesville, Iowa.

“Then on brave Saints, press on and on.

A desert world is raising arms to you–

You have the faith, the sinew, bones and brawn

It has its smiling sky of purest blue. “

They traveled in Captain Tidwell’s Company and arrived in Salt Lake City on 18 Sept 1852. They located in Draper where they took up land and fenced and farmed the same. They were reunited with Harriet and Robert and shared their one-room adobe house for the winter.

John Pannell built a two-story adobe house on the corner now (owned by the Whitman Motors in Draper. The family lived on the ground floor and the second story was used for John’s workshop where he made coffins and some furniture. He also raised a beautiful garden. It was said to be the best in town. They passed through the grasshopper famine without a murmur. They participated in Indian troubles, took their guns and blankets, and went to meet Johnston s Army In 1857. Their son John Fish Wright was left behind to help guard the homes while others moved South in 1858.

In Draper, John Pannell served as Superintendant of the Sunday School. He was remembered as a quiet, gentleman, always friendly and generous. Here another daughter found her mate. Mary Elizabeth became the wife of Draper’s first settler, Ebenezer Brown. John Fish was now seventeen and the only child left at home when in 1859 John Pannell decided to respond to the call for settlers in Cache Valley.

The following sketch is taken from a newspaper article that appeared in the Logan Newspaper:

On Friday May 6th, 1859 about three weeks after the arrival of David Reese, Griffiths Charles and others as first settlers of Logan, a second company of home seekers numbering about 25 families left Maugh’s fort (now called Wellsville) and pushed their way across the bottom land traveling northward, looking for a new location. On Muddy Creek, due to recent rains that had swollen the stream so they could not pass, they had to stop and build a bridge. Here they were overtaken by Bishop Maughan, who had been selected by Brigham Young to preside over the developing settlements in Cache Valley, and three men were set apart to preside over the company. John Pannell Wright was named as President with John Nelson and Israel Clark as counselors. After the bridge was built, the company proceeded. forward through mud and rain and traveled to the present site of Smithfield where they decided to halt and build a town as the ground was high and seemed quite fertile. This was about the 10th day of May 8 1859. In this group of settlers were the following: Ralph Smith, John R. Blanchard, Israel J. Clark, Jesse Pierson, John Pannell Wright and his son John F. Wrighto Moses Deming, William Edwards, Benjamin Williams, William Reese, John Nelson and two men by the names of Morgan Evans.

After a survey of certain lands had been made, the brethren proceeded to plow their fields and plant their crops. They were making good progress and had considerable wheat sown when on the 25th of May a messenger came on horseback to their camp and informed them that Bishop Maughan had received a warning that the Bannock Indians were on the war path and intended to raid Cache Valley settlements. He advised the settlers on High Creek to leave immediately for Maughan’s Fort and bring their families with them. The brethren were prompt in heeding this advice. They gathered up their belongings and departed the next day, reaching the fort on the 27th of May. Here they remained about a week. In conversation with Bishop Maughan they were advised to try to find a suitable location on the Logan River, and accordingly set out again the 5th of June. They next formed a camp near the site of the old Brigham Young College and here they decided to remain. A survey of the land was immediately begun and the brethren cast lots for their locations. This was the beginning of our beautiful city of Logan, June 1859.

Although John Pannell Wright was a member of the second group to locate the site of Logan in June 1859, he is generally given credit by old historians as having been the father of our city. Apparently, it was he who did the first surveying here and who designated the little settlement by the name of Logan. Apparently, after Brother Wright and his son had surveyed a few blocks of land, which they did by only measuring with a tape or chain, there was a drawing or lottery for the purpose of acquiring home sites. ) They also helped build a bowery under which they held their meetings.

They harvested their grain on Summit Creek (Smithfield). They often carried their guns in one hand and their shovels in the other. They succeeded in yielding good crops, as high as forty bushels of wheat to the acre. Mr. Wright left his tracks in the snow while cutting the last of the grain.

On Sunday, July 3, 1859, Bishop Maughan came from Maughan’s Fort to hold a meeting with the settlers. Bishop Maughan read a letter to the group which he had received from Brigham Young in which the President appointed him to take general supervision of all the settlements in Cache Valley. By virtue of this assignment Elder Maughan selected John Pannell Wright, John Nelson, and Israel Clark as a committee to give out land to the settlers. He also appointed Brother Wright to receive tithing, butter, etc, and to forward the same to Maughan’s Fort to be shipped to Salt Lake City. He also took up the problem of self-defense against the Indians and appointed Israel Clark to organize the brethren into companies and appoint guards to stand watch at night. Israel Clark was to act as Captain and Ralph Smith as Adjutant.

One week later a second meeting was held in the bowery on 10 July, with John Pannell Wright in charge. On this occasion, the ecclesiastical organization was given more attention. The High Priests were organized with David B. Mille as President; the Seventies chose Ralph Smith as their presiding officer. The boundaries of Logan were also decided upon: “It was voted that the boundaries extend to the Logan River on the South, to the Bear River on the West, the mountains on the East and North about 4 miles.” It was also decided to build a road up to Green Canyon North to Logan. Ralph Smith was sustained as clerk of the settlement.

In an obituary notice of the death of John Pannell Wright published in the Deseret News of 21 Apr 1886, the following information is given.

“He lived at Draper until 6 Apr 1859, wherein company with a few others he went to Cache Valley and settled in Smithfield. On account of Indian troubles, he remained at this place but a short time, from the fact that in June he led a company of 30 families located on the banks of the Logan River. Taking the Polar Star for his base, he laid out the tiers and blocks giving to this new location the name of Logan.

In the spring of 1861, John Pannell Wright moved South of Logan to ‘Paradise where he helped to build up that community. His son John Fish Wright built a two-storied home a couple of miles north of Paradise and he also built a two-roomed log house for his father and mother in their declining years, so they could be right near to him. Here they lived in peace and comfort and raised vegetables with John Fish doing the hard work. John Pannell Wright died in Paradise on 5 Apr 1886 and was buried in the Paradise cemetery.

In an account of the life of John F. Wright from the Tribune of 13 Nov 1932 at the time of his death, there is the following:

Mr. Wright came to Cache Valley in 1859 and settled about where the Center and First streets meet in Logan, Utah. During his early years, he acted as an interpreter for the Indians. Mr. Wright’s father, John P. Wright gets the honor of naming Logan after an Indian Chieftain while the group was sitting around the campfire

We do know that the river was well known as the Logan Fork when the Pioneers arrived and without doubt, the settlement was named after the river. To John Pannell Wright, therefore, goes the honor of having been the father of our city and of having given it its name. He was always remembered as a quiet and gentleman, always friendly and generous.


I was sitting by the stove after supper in the evening. My little grandson James E. Brown was reading. the New Testament to his grand¬mother. Suddenly my mind was caught away in a vision and it opened before me. I appeared to be a little north of the Draper meeting house. I was elevated about ten or twelve feet. I could see about as far as Box Elder County on the north, for the valley seemed quite clear of any obstructions and quite level. The mountains north of Little Cottonwood were not there, but the ground seemed to rise a little toward the east.

The center of the valley seemed to be full of people, from where I stood to Box Elder. I could see those who were furthest off as plainly as those who were close to me. On the east side of Little Cottonwood, there were two rows of soldiers that reached almost to Ogden Canyon. I saw their guns–shoulder arms with bayonets fixed. There was a fence in front of them about waist high. They crowded close to it but did not pass over it. The fence was about where the foot of the mountains were. The soldiers hooted, yelled, marched, and threatened the people for some time. Then they called to the people and said, “All that would come over to them would be protected.” When they called them, in a short time the people made a movement and rushed over to them by the thousands and when all that desired to go had gone, there seemed to be but a few left. All this time the heavens were very black; it was frightening to look at it. When the people were over amongst the soldiers, they appeared to see something in ‘the southwest with the soldiers. It caused them to look very frightened. They all turned simultaneously and fled west with the greatest rapidity. When they had gone a good distance, the storm burst upon them in frightful fury and violence and the atmosphere seemed one blaze of lightning. The thunder was dreadful and the hail was terrible to see. The hailstones were as large as a man’s fist and it fell so thick and with such force that it crushed the soldiers and the people who were with them down like [blades] of grass. After it cleared away they were nowhere to be seen or anything belonging to them. The people who were left in the valley began to gather up from the north to where I stood and the heavens rang with shouts of joy, thanksgiving, and gladness.

The vision closed and my grandson was still reading.

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