William Walker, autobiography, typescript, BYU, p.11 November 1, 1843, I married Olive Hovey Farr, daughter of Winslow and Olive Hovey Freeman Farr. Myself and wife boarded at the [p.12] mansion six months, then we moved into a two-story brick house on Parley Street belonging to the Prophet, but I still continued to be in his employ. We had living with us five of my younger brothers and sisters and gave them a home for a year. My father then returned from his mission and soon he provided a home for them.
Taken from William Holmes Walker's Journal--Father joined Mormons, 1832. To Far West, Missouri, 1834. To Nauvoo, 1839. Conversations with Joseph Smith. Married. Exodus from Nauvoo, 1846. Mormon Battalion, 1846-47. To Salt Lake City. Mission to South Africa, 1852-57. Mission president from 1855. Return to Salt Lake City. Called to settle in Dixie, 1861. Routine entries about family, Church activities, work, financial accounts.
Commments: #61. William was chosen as one of the presidents of the 57th Quorum of seventy. From 1840 until the expulsion of the Saints from Illinois in 1846, he resided in Nauvoo, Illinois, whence he moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa. Here he enlisted as a member of the famous Mormon Battalion, and crossed the great plains and deserts to the Pacific coast. After serving his time as a soldier he made his way to Salt Lake City, where he arrived in the fall of 1847. After residing in Salt Lake City for a number of years he moved to Big Cottonwood, Salt Lake county. In 1852 he was called on a mission to South Africa, where he spent about five years laboring in the Cape of Good Hope and in the neighboring province on the east. He worked both in the Logan and Salt Lake Temples.
LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Vol. 1, p.565
Walker, William H., a Patriarch in the Granite Stake of Zion, is the son of John Walker and Lydia Holmes, and was born in Peacham, Caledonia county, Vermont, Aug. 28, 1820. He was baptized in September, 1835, by Abraham Palmer, and ordained a Seventy by Benj. Clapp in 1846. Later, he was chosen as one of the presidents of the 57th quorum of Seventy. May 20, 1892, he was ordained a High Priest and a Patriarch by Pres. Joseph F. Smith. From 1840 till the expulsion of the Saints from Illinois in 1846, he resided in Nauvoo, Ill., whence he moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa. Here he enlisted as a member of the famous Mormon Battalion, and crossed the great plains and deserts to the Pacific coast. After serving his time as a soldier he made his way to Salt Lake City, where he arrived in the fall of 1847. After residing in Salt Lake City for a number of years he moved to Big Cottonwood, Salt Lake county, where he has continued to reside ever since. In 1852 he was called on a mission to South Africa, where he spent about five years laboring in the Cape of Good Hope and in the neighboring province on the east. During the past sixteen years he has keen engaged in Temple work both in the Logan and Salt Lake Temples, and together with his sisters he has performed ordinances for over ten thousand people.
William Holmes Walker
Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah, Vol. 4, p.192-196
The subject of this narrative was a member of the Mormon Battalion and virtually one of the pioneers of Utah. The son of John and Lydia Holmes Walker, he was born at Peacham, Caledonia county, Vermont, August 28, 1820. His parents were members of the Congregational church, and he was trained in all the tenets of the same. When, in the spring of 1832, his father joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, William, who at that time was from home, living with an uncle and attending school, shared with his devout mother and other relatives the astonishment and disgust experienced by them on learning of what had taken place. John Walker, a carpenter by trade and something of a machinist, went soon after his baptism to Stanstead Plains, Canada, where he had charge of a manufacturing establishment, putting in improved machinery. During his absence his wife made a diligent and thorough investigation of Mormonism, with the result that she herself was converted. After her husband's return home, she and her children in 1834 accompanied him to Ogdensburg, New York, where there was an organized branch of the Church. They resided there three or four years, and in 1835 William, one of his brothers and two sisters embraced the faith.
In the spring of 1838 the Walkers with several other families left Ogdensburg for Western Missouri, where they arrived just as the anti-Mormon troubles were at their height. While traveling through the State they were surrounded by an armed mob who searched their wagons, robbed them of their rifles and ammunition and warned them that they would be killed if they went any farther. Terrified by these threats two families stayed behind, while the others continued on to Shoal Creek, camping five miles below Haun's Mill. William's father visited that ill-starred settlement in quest of information as to the true state of affairs, and was there when Comstock's murderous ruffians fell upon the defenseless settlers and massacred nearly a score. Mr. Walker was wounded, and while hiding under some slabs that projected over or leaned against the bank of the creek near the mill, witnessed the brutal butchery of the revolutionary veteran, Father McBride, who, while pleading for mercy, was hacked to pieces by a stalwart Missourian with an old corn-cutter. Refugees from the mills reported the massacre to the campers on Shoal Creek, who supposed Mr. Walker to be among the slain. To their great joy they learned to the contrary after moving their camp about one hundred miles, when William sought and found his sire and brought him back to his family and friends. In November, while temporarily occupying a log house, the Walkers, father and son, assisted President Joseph Young and family, refugees from Haun's Mill, a distance of a hundred and fifty miles, on their way to Illinois.
The Walker family left Missouri early in 1839 and settled near Quincy, Illinois, where the father obtained work at his trade, while his sons William and Lewis tilled a farm that he had rented. During his subsequent mission through the Middle States, it was their labor that supported the family. William Walker's first meeting with the Prophet [p.193] Joseph Smith, with whom he became very intimate, was in the spring of 1840, when he was sent by his father to transact some business with him at Nauvoo. He arrived at the Prophet's home about nine o'clock in the evening, just as the family were singing before the usual evening prayer; Emma Smith, the Prophet's wife, leading the melodious chant. "I thought," says he, "I had never heard such sweet, heavenly music, and I was equally impressed with the prayer offered by the Prophet."
William and his parents having moved to Nauvoo, he was welcomed into the Prophet's home, where he remained during the next three years as a member of the household. As early as January, 1841, if not earlier, the Prophet spoke to him about the principle of plural marriage, and in the spring of 1843, Father Walker being absent on a mission, Joseph asked and obtained William's consent to marry his sister Lucy. His sire subsequently sanctioned the proceedings. William says of the Prophet: "The more extensive my acquaintance and experience with him, the more my confidence increased in him. I worked in the hay field with him, when he assisted in mowing grass with a scythe, many a day putting in ten hours work. Very few if any were his superiors in that kind of labor. I was entrusted by him with important business. The Urim and Thummim was once in my charge for the time being. On one occasion when he was the mayor of Nauvoo, it became his duty to fine a negro for selling liquor in violation of the city ordinances. The negro begged for leniency, stating that his object in selling the liquor was to raise money to send for his family. The mayor would not shrink from his duty; he fined him seventy-five dollars, but added that if he would honor the law in future, he would make him a present of a horse to aid him in his purpose. The gift was gladly accepted and the required promise made. When the Mansion House was finished and furnished and the Prophet and his family moved into it, I had charge of it under his direction. In regard to his private life, as to purity, honesty, charity, benevolence, refinement of feeling and nobility of character, his superior did not exist on earth. An incident occurred at the Mansion House to illustrate his contempt for and detestation of anything low and vile. Not long after the house was opened as a hotel, a stranger came and registered his name. Just before supper he insulted one of the hired girls. The Prophet heard of it after the stranger had retired, and next morning met him as he came down from his room. 'Sir,' said he, 'I understand that you insulted one of the employes of this house last evening.' The fellow began to make all kinds of apologies, but the Prophet cut him short by telling him to get into his buggy and leave the place at once, and this in such unmistakable language and in such a tone as to almost make the man's hair stand on end. He offered to pay his bill, but his money was refused. 'I want you to get out,' said the indignant proprietor. 'I want none of your money, nor the money of any man of your stamp.' Thereupon the stranger made a hasty exit."
November 1st, 1843, witnessed the marriage of William Holmes Walker with Olive Hovey Farr, daughter of Winslow and Olive Hovey Freeman Farr. He and his wife boarded at the Mansion House for six months, and then moved into a two-story brick house on Parley Street, belonging to the Prophet. William's mother was now dead, his father was on a mission, and five of his younger brothers and sisters were living with him. He still continued in the Prophet's employ, loaded and hauled rock for the Temple and officiated as president of the young men's and young ladies' relief society, organized to supply the needs of the poor.
When the Prophet was about to go to Carthage to give himself up for trial, he sent William Walker to Burlington for an important witness, whose affidavit was secured and sent to Carthage by express. The same day it was returned to him with the request that he go again for the witness. He started immediately, rode all night, and while taking breakfast with George J. Adams at Augusta, heard the awful news of the massacre in Carthage jail. He returned to Nauvoo in time to meet the dead bodies of Joseph and Hyrum on their arrival there. In the fall of 1845 he assisted to quell the mobs that were burning Mormon property around Nauvoo, and during the remaining months of his residence there made preparations to accompany his people in their westward flight.
The date of his departure from Nauvoo was February 21, 1846. He crossed the Mississippi (two miles wide) on the ice, and joined the migrating Saints on Sugar Creek. The camp was so organized that all able-bodied men who could possibly be spared went ahead and took contracts for splitting rails, building fences, or any other work that could be had, in order to supply the camp with grain. Mr. Walker, with his brother-in-law, Aaron F. Farr and Lorenzo D. Young, went into northern Missouri to trade their horses for oxen, which were found much better than horses for the journey. From that time he was actively engaged in hauling supplies through the storms that beat upon the [p.194] travelers, almost incessantly, as they wended their way towards the Missouri river, where he arrived with the advance company about the middle of June.
Next came the call for the Battalion. "I enlisted," says Mr. Walker, "more as a necessity than as a volunteer. It was a heavy draft upon the camp, and it required much effort upon the part of President Young and others to meet the demand." He was in Company "B," Jesse D. Hunter, Captain. From Fort Leavenworth to Santa Fe he suffered much with chills and fever, and experienced rather harsh treatment from some in command, who did not realize his weak condition and required service impossible for him to perform. Finally the medical examiner passed upon his case, excused him, and he was sent with the disabled portion of the Battalion to Pueblo, where he passed the winter. This detachment left Pueblo late in May, 1847. Mr. Walker with a few others went on in advance and overtook the Pioneers at Green river, from which point he returned with a number of them on horseback to meet his family in the following emigration. He rode for days barefooted, (his moccasins being worn out), with a handkerchief wrapped around the foot that was exposed to the sun. Near Fort Kearney he met his wife, who had driven two yoke of oxen most of the way from the Missouri river, and was now sick, worn out with fatigue. They arrived in Salt Lake valley on the first day of October.
His wagon box was his first abode, but he lost no time in going to the canyon for logs to build a house, into which he moved in December. "Aaron F. Farr and myself cut the logs and sawed the first lumber in Utah, and I made the first three-panel doors. I also worked on the first grist-mill, a corn cracker, run by water power, and built by Charles Crismon on City Creek. I then hewed timber and framed a saw mill for Heber C. Kimball. Subsequently I worked on Neff's flouring mill. I drew a lot one mile north of what is now called Holladay, and after getting the ground broke, sent my oxen back to the Missouri river to help the immigration. In 1848 I fought the crickets, and the next year moved my house out of the Fort onto my city lot in the Sixteenth ward. I traded with the Indians and gold diggers, the latter on their way to California, and at the same time cultivated my land. In November of that year my brother Edwin, a member of the Battalion, who had served in the second enlistment, arrived from California. In the Provo Indian campaign of February, 1850, I drove the old cannon called 'Long Range.' I was in the thick of the fight on Provo river and in the final combat at the head of Utah Lake, where the hostiles were almost annihilated. On the 28th of the following April, I married Mary Jane Shadding, and next day went to Farmington to build and open a farm. In the fall my father arrived from Winter Quarters. The next year I built a two-story house at Salt Lake City, and in December, with my father-in-law, Winslow Farr, and my brother-in-law, Aaron F. Farr, began opening a road, building bridges and hewing timber for a saw-mill in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Our mill was just ready to raise, and I had started for Salt Lake to get men to help us put it up, when I learned that I had been called on a mission to South Africa. Instead of taking out men to raise the mill, I took one out to purchase my interest therein."
Elder Walker started upon his mission about the middle of September, 1852, accompanied by Jesse Haven and Leonard I. Smith. He left his affairs in the hands of an Englishman named Hill, a bad man who had been recommended to him as a good one, and who wasted his substance, mistreated his family and absconded before his employer's return. While the latter and his companions were crossing the plains an attempt was made, presumably by Indians, to run off their horses, quite a numerous band, as they were traveling in company with many other Elders, bound for missions in various parts. They had just made camp one evening on the Platte, when a strange horse, saddled but riderless, came galloping in from the darkness. A powder horn and a tin cup were tied to the horn of the saddle, and every jump made by the horse produced a peculiar ring and rattle. The unusual noise frightened the other horses, and quick as a flash they started on a stampede and were chased for six miles before they could be checked and turned. Proceeding on their way the missionaries soon met a band of Pawnees, three thousand strong, who divided to the right and left and allowed them to pass, showing no signs of hostility, though they had burned the grass for a distance of a hundred and fifty miles.
At Kanesville Elder Walker made arrangements for the emigration of his youngest sister, Mary, the next season. He then went on to Illinois to visit his brother Lorin, who had married the eldest daughter of the martyred Patriarch Hyrum Smith. He spent two days with the Prophet's family, at Nauvoo, and was kindly received by them. Emma Smith had remarried, and was then Mrs. Major Bidamon. He found his brother at Macedonia, where also dwelt the Prophet's sisters, Catherine and Sophronia, both widows. [p.195] All were glad to see him. He assisted Lorin in his preparations to emigrate to Utah. At Washington, D. C., he visited both houses of Congress, by invitation of his friend, Delegate Bernhisel, and on the 16th of December sailed from New York, landing at Liverpool on the 3rd of January. Elder Walker had his first experience in public speaking at Preston, the birthplace of the British Mission. Having visited Wales and various parts of England, he sailed from London for the Cape of Good Hope on the 11th of February. Crossing the Equator, he and his party escaped the usual experience meted out to neophytes in Neptune's realm—i. e., a salt water douse, a lathering with tar and a shave with an iron hoop—by informing the sea-god, or the sailor impersonating him, that they were missionaries. A small present was accepted as a substitute for the usual ceremony of initiation.
Elders Walker, Haven and Smith landed at the Cape of Good Hope April 19, 1853. The usual storms were raging in that locality. They preached in Cape Town and other places and met with much opposition, being mobbed repeatedly and slandered almost incessantly. The first six months they baptized forty-five persons and organized two branches of the Church. In November Elder Walker visited the Eastern province, on the borders of Kaffirland, and at Beaufort baptized nine and organized a branch. He also held some interesting meetings at Grahamtown and other points, laboring arduously against great opposition, Subsequently he was joined by his companions. At the close of his ministry in that land two conferences had been established at Beaufort and Port Elizabeth. One of his converts was Charles Roper, a wealthy rancher at Wintberg, who, when the ship-owners formed a league refusing to carry Mormon emigrants out of the country, purchased with others a ship called the "Unity" and placed it at the disposal of the missionaries. Thereupon the ship-owners gave notice that they would carry all Mormon emigrants that wanted to go. Elder Walker had been sustained as president of the South African Mission, Elder Smith had been released to take the first company to Utah, and Elder Haven was on the point of sailing for Liverpool, to report progress to the Presidency of the European Mission, when a letter came from President Brigham Young honorably releasing them to return home.
Sailing from Cape Town November 27, 1855, their ship, the "Unity," on December 13 touched at St. Helena, where they viewed Napoleon's tomb and preached under the shade of some trees on one of the streets of the town. Subsequently Elder Walker preached on board, the captain and crew paying respectful attention. The ship arrived at the London docks, January 30, 1856. Elder Walker left it at Gravesend, and took train for London, thence proceeding to Liverpool, where he met in council with President Franklin D. Richards, Daniel Spencer, George D. Grant, William H. Kimball, John Kay, Thomas Williams, James Little, Edward Tullidge and others, and after reporting his mission, discussed with them the subject, "Wheelbarrow or Handcart Emigration." Late in February he sailed from Liverpool on the ship "Caravan," with a company of Saints presided over by Daniel Tyler, to whom he acted as first counselor; Edward Bunker and Leonard I. Smith being the other counselors. From New York, where they landed late in March, Elder Walker had charge of the company to Iowa City, which was reached early in April. While waiting the word to start across the plains he visited relatives and friends in Illinois, among them the venerable Lucy Smith, the Prophet's mother, who was nearing the end of her life. He assisted President Daniel Spencer in emigrational matters on the frontier, and was preparing to follow the handcart companies, with his brother Lorin and family, but found it impossible to secure teamsters that late in the season; it being about the first of October when he reached Winter Quarters. He therefore remained on the Missouri, and escaped the disaster that befell the companies on the plains. At the head of a company of emigrants he reached Salt Lake City September 1st, 1857, having been absent from home five years, lacking fifteen days.
Scarcely had he greeted his family when he was called to take part in the "Echo Canyon war." He was all ready to go, when he was assigned the duty of selecting and forwarding supplies to his comrades at the front. Returning from the move in July, 1858, he purchased a farm four miles west of Ogden. August 30th of that year was the date of his marriage to his third wife, Olive Louisa Bingham. He now added to agriculture the occupation of dairying. He also established a carding machine at Farmington, freighting the machinery from the East. He had barely put up his buildings for this industry when he was called upon a mission into Southern Utah.
In company with his wife Olive H. he started upon this mission in May, 1862. At Toquerville, where they settled, he planted cotton, sugar cane and grape vines. In July he returned to Salt Lake to procure a cotton gin, but found no machinist who could make one. He next engaged in freighting from California and the East. In the spring [p.196] of 1863 he sent two four-mule teams to the States, with baled cotton for William S. Godbe, his wagons bringing back new card clothing for his carding machine. With four of his teams his brother Edwin freighted between Salt Lake, Boise City and Southern California. In 1864 he and his little son Simeon went to the Missouri river, taking passengers and bringing back freight. At Deseret he put up a flouring mill and in Oak Creek canyon a saw mill. On April 24, 1865, he married his fourth wife, Harriet Paul, who went to "Dixie" to live, his wife Olive L. going to Deseret. In the spring of 1866 he arrived at Salt Lake City from the south, with two tons of cotton for President Young's Deseret Mills. He was now released from the Dixie mission, sold out his interests there, and concentrated his energies upon his mills.
In the fall of 1872 Mr. Walker sold to the Utah Central railroad company a lot in Salt Lake City for eight thousand dollars, and purchased with the greater part of the proceeds the Farr estate on Big Cottonwood, resolving to turn his attention to farming and initiate his sons in that line. A serious accident befell him about this time, a young horse rearing up and striking its hoof on his shoulder, knocking the bone down into the armpit. Drs. Bernhisel and Benedict reduced the dislocation, but it was six months before the patient could raise his hand to the top of his head. In June, 1874, he became interested in a stamp mill at Ophir, and for a short time was business manager of the concern. In March, 1875, he began building his first house at Big Cottonwood, where he afterwards built two others. On completing the structure he fitted up a room as a school, hired a teacher and had fifteen of his children taught there. The neighbors also sent their children to this school, which was quite successful. In February, 1876, he was elected senior school trustee for the district and during his term of office a new school house was erected, for which he took the contract, advancing means for the materials. He also made the desks and other furniture, did the painting and varnishing, and provided a large bell for the cupola of the building. His last act as trustee was to have the school-house grounds fenced, leveled, sown to grass and planted with shade trees; also to arrange for the care and cultivation of the same during the next five years. William Walker was one of the first stockholders in Z. C. M. I., and also took stock in the Sixteenth ward co-operative store. He is now a stockholder in the Utah Sugar Company.
In April, 1884, he accompanied four of his married sons to Idaho, where they purchased and took up lands at Lewisville. There he settled with a portion of his family, and with his sons William A. and Don C. opened a small store, which was afterwards closed out to Z. C. M. I. He left Utah just in time to escape the beginning of the anti-polygamy crusade, but soon found that he was not much safer in Idaho, since the crusade began there about the same time. To avoid the prowling deputies he went into retirement for a season, camping out in the woods in an ingeniously planned retreat which he finally had to abandon as danger drew nearer.
During the winter of 1885–6, and at intervals during the next five years, he worked in the Logan Temple, where his sisters, Lucy, Jane and Mary assisted him in sacred labors for their dead ancestors. Leaving Logan in February, 1891, he worked during the next few weeks on the Salt Lake County Seminary, making a donation of half his labor to the institution. He was then engaged for six months on the Salt Lake Temple, laying floors, donating half his labor in like manner. He had the same tools that he had used on the Nauvoo Temple fifty years before. In July, 1893, he began working in the Salt Lake Temple, and until recently was regularly engaged there.
On May 20, 1892, the worthy veteran, a Seventy since December, 1844, and one of the presidency of the Fifty-seventh quorum since July 27, 1869, was ordained a High Priest and Patriarch, under the hands of Presidents George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith, the latter pronouncing the ordination. He still resides at Holladay, whence he reported himself in 1897 to the Utah Jubilee Commission, and from them received due recognition as one of the pioneer founders of the commonwealth. [p.197]