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Customs and Legends of Utah Indians


IVThe Walker and Black-Hawk Wars

With the exception of Colonel Connor's successful campaign against the Amerinds on Bear River, most of the Indian troubles in Utah centered around Sanpete county, because the settlements there were more isolated, and the Sanpitch Utes had a bold, bad man as their leader.

The Walker War, 1853

This man, Wakara, or Walker, as he is known in history, continually gave indications of a desire to stir up trouble among the colonists, notwithstanding his pleadings for white neighbors to settle in his territory. He and his brother Arropine (or Seignerouch) were the leaders in all strife, while Sowiatt, an old diplomat who always befriended the whites, was the peace chief.

As before remarked, the underlying cause of the Walker war was the refusal of the settlers to countenance slave-trade which Spaniards from the southwest had encouraged and practiced. A signal for a general campaign against the whites was the killing of Alex. Keele, at Payson, July 18, 1853. Raids were common all through the southern part of the state, especially on outlying settlements ; horses and cattle were driven off, and the killing of lone and defenseless pioneers was of so common occurrence that the settlers became terror stricken, and colonization was greatly impeded. A company of fifty militiamen under Capt. P. W. Conover was sent out from Provo to assist the settlers in Sanpete Valley. A pitched battle was fought with the natives just east of Mt. Pleasant, and the savages were routed with heavy loss. Mt. Pleasant, Springtown, Ephraim, and other new settlements were abandoned, and all gathered in the newly constructed fort at Manti. “The whole white population of Sanpete Valley at that time was 765 men, women and children,” says Lever, and they all lived in the Manti fort until 1854. That summer the Indians confined their depredations chiefly to Millard county, though killings occurred at different points in Sanpete, Juab, and other counties.

That year Wakara died and Arropine succeeded his brother as chief. Arropine was not so bold nor so aggressive as


Wakara, neither did he live up to his promises as well. He professed much love for the “Mormon” people, and signed an agreement for peace. This chief deeded the whole of Sanpete county to President Brigham Young as “Trustee-in-trust” for the peaceable possession of the whites. A copy of this remarkable document is recorded in Book B, Church Transfer records of Sanpete county, Utah.

The Black-Hawk War, 1865-1872

But Arropine's treaties of 1854 and 1855 were grudgingly kept, “and it taxed the few settlers sorely to supply beef, flour, clothing, etc., to appease the increasing demands of the natives." Periodical attacks were made in different places by marauding bands of Utes, and no man was safe outside the settlements. Strong forts of stone masonry with look-out towers and portholes all around were built at Ephraim, Manti, and other places. Scouts were on the lookout continually to warn against attacks on laborers in the fields, or against raids on flocks and lierds, but in spite of the most watchful care, the settlers were the losers, and patience with the natives ceased to be a virtue. War was actually on, though Arropine's treaty was supposed to be in vogue.*

In the meantime Black-Hawk, another bold, bad man, had assumed command of the united Amerind forces from all the southern parts of the state, and organized his braves for the worst war in the history of Utah. Open hostilities began around Manti in March, 1865. The first man killed was Peter J. Ludvigsen, on Twelve-mile Creek, south of Manti; and the same day James Andersen and Elijah B. Ward were massacred and scalped in Salina Canyon. Then followed a series of assassinations, raids, and skirmishes in various parts of that south country, until the inhabitants were completely beside themselves with fear and rage. Eightyfour members of the Sanpete militia led by Col. J. T. S. Allred went “onto the Sevier” to try to recover stolen stock, and, if possible, to break up the band of savages operating south of Manti, but they met with disaster in Salina Canyon where, on April 12th, Jens Sorensen of Ephraim and Wm. Kearns of Gunnison were killed.

In July President Brigham Young visited Sanpete to confer with the people as to the best policy to pursue. Through his influence Col. Warren S. Snow was elected a brigadier-general, and he immediately took command of militia and "minute-men." He pursued the Amerinds into Grass Valley where a pitched battle, disastrous to the natives, was fought July, 1865. Then fol

*That chieftain died in Grass Valley, Dec. 4, 1860.

lowed in quick succession engagements at Glenwood, Fish Lake, Green River, and other places.

Among the notable raids made by the savages was one at Fort Ephraim, October 17, 1865, when William Thorpe, Morten P. Kuhre and wife, Soren N. Jespersen, Elizabeth Petersen, Benj. J. Black, and William T. Hite were massacred, and a number of others wounded, some while harvesting their meager crops in the field just on the borders of the town, and others while on guard or in the canyon: at this time more than one hundred head of cattle were driven away. An especially interesting incident connected with this encounter is the fact that after the savages had done their worst, as they thought, and had retreated into the mountains, William D. Kuhre, then an infant about two and onehalf years old, was found on his mother's breast alive and well. It is surmised that he must have been asleep in the willows near by while his parents were at work, and perhaps the noise of the melee awakened him. However, he lives today one of the honored men of the state, Bishop of Sandy ward, and ex-mayor of that busy little city.

The winter of 1865 and 1866 was specially severe for those south settlements, as grasshoppers had taken most of their crops; and though there was a lull in the warfare, they lived in constant dread of renewed outbreaks.

· With the returning spring, killings and raids became common again, even as far south as Kane and Washington counties. Soon, however, a number of notable chiefs were captured near Nephi, among them, Sanpitch and Ankawakets, but the notorious BlackHawk was still at large leading on the brutal assaults.

At last the citizenry of Utah and Salt Lake counties were aroused to the seriousness of the situation, and Capt. P. W. Conover with 50 men from Utah county, and Colonel Kimball with a company of 50 from Salt Lake county, reached Manti in May, 1866. In June, General Daniel H. Wells came to Manti and took command of all the troops, and under his wise direction the people were better organized for defense, and they were able to gather bounteous crops.

Though the help from the more populous centers reassured the settlers of Sanpete and Sevier, it did not put an end to the war, for soon Utah county towns were being raided, and the war territory was spreading. Richfield, Glenwood, Circleville, and other new settlements were abandoned, and the fugitives joined with people of the Sanpete towns for mutual defense, 1866.

Through 1867 and 1868 the war continued. Ephraim was the center for the cattle industry of the section, and here the savages made several successful raids on stock. On July 10, 1868, another attempt was made to drive off the herds that were being watched near Ephraim, but this time the young men of the town, now pretty well armed, gave chase, and a sharp engagement followed in which the Amerinds were badly beaten and the stolen cattle recovered.

August 19, 1868, a treaty of peace was signed in Strawberry Valley; this treaty, like other treaties made before, was soon broken and raids, though less frequent than before, were made in different localities; but murders had all but ceased, and well for the defenseless settlers that it was so, because Governor J. W. Shaffer had caused the troops to be withdrawn, and under his order none were permitted to drill or bear arms except under the direction of the U. S. Marshal. This order was issued September 15, 1870, and the Federal authorities did not succeed in consummating a treaty of peace until September 7, 1872, when General Morrow met the chiefs in conference at Mt. Pleasant.

John Ericsson was born in Sweden, in 1803. He was the inventor of the turret-ship Monitor, which distinguished itself in the American civil war and inaugurated a new era in naval warfare. Serving for a time in the Swedish army, he removed to London in 1825, and to Nev York in 1839. He died in 1889. A national monument has been


erected to him at Filipstad, Sweden, a portrait of which we herewith present. It was sent by Elders J. Hill Johnson of Salt Lake, and Oluf Monson of Pleasant Grove, Utah, whose portraits are in the foreground.


O sharp and many are the thorns of life,

From youth till age their pains with us abide. O deep the wounds oft made from years o strife;

With smiles we fain this aching pain would hide.

How many souls have felt the thorn of doubt,

Until pale fear has made of us a slave! Then faded hopes but meet our gaze throughout,

And tears fall fast on dead ambition's grave.

How oft a weariness of life is born!

Dark sorrow and despair our faith o'ercome; Cur hearts are pierced until, all bleeding, torn,

The weary senses with the pain grow numb.

And yet, some day the soul will struggle free,

As does the sun from out a great storm-cloud; 'Tis then the meaning of life's thorns we'll see, When with immortal wisdom we're endowed.


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