Samuel Rose Parkinson

Samuel R. Parkinson

by Benson Y. Parkinson
(October 2002)

Samuel Rose Parkinson1 was the first generation of the Parkinson family in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the first to come to Utah and Idaho. Samuel’s grandparents never married, so his father William got his mother’s maiden name of Parkinson. Otherwise our last name would have been Berry. William worked as a “twister-in” at a fabric mill in Lancashire, England. (A twister-in was probably someone who twisted the warp threads together as the bobbins emptied.) According to a family tradition he was a Methodist lay preacher, though we haven’t been able to confirm this from Methodist records. He married Charlotte Rose Duckworth in the Church of England in 1827. Charlotte was a young widow with a child, Elizabeth.2 William and Charlotte lived in Barrowford, by Pendle Hill, near where Heber C. Kimball introduced the gospel to England. The first of their two children, Susannah, died as a baby. Samuel, the second, was born April 12, 1831. William drowned when Samuel was just a few months old. Samuel’s children say Charlotte worked as a schoolteacher, though the only records we’ve found list her as a dressmaker. Charlotte married Edmond Berry (as far as we know no relation to William). Samuel called Edmond “father” and apparently went by “Samuel Berry” himself until he was grown, so that makes two ways we could have had Berry for our last name.

Edmond was a coal merchant in Stockport, Cheshire, where their first two daughters, Sarah and Lucy Charlotte, were born. When the mill workers went on strike, he sold them coal on credit until his business failed. So in 1840 the family took advantage of a government program to get people to emigrate to Australia. Edmond served as the ship’s butcher and was allowed to take home the offal (the left-over odds and ends) to help feed his family. They traveled by sailing ship around Africa and across the Indian Ocean. Charlotte was pregnant starting out, and Ellen was born at the Cape of Good Hope. On the journey a baby fell off the ship and in the water, and a Newfoundland dog jump in after it. They lowered a lifeboat, which searched the vicinity for a long time before they found the dog with the baby in its mouth. Both baby and dog lived. In Sydney Edmond worked in a lime kiln and did alright. Samuel helped his mother by selling hot cross buns in the streets, and later they started a green grocer’s. Edmond invested in a brickyard, but this venture failed, so in 1842 the family emigrated again.

They took a ship to New Zealand, but when they heard there was no work there, they decided to stay on the boat and try their luck in Chile. Edmond got a job as a gardener and nearly lost his life from sunstroke. Charlotte’s last child, William, was born in Valparaiso, and Samuel spent his early teen years here. For six months Samuel worked for an English minister named Reverend Armstrong, waiting tables, tending garden, and doing other chores in exchange for board. During this period, every day in the middle of the day he attended school. His Spanish got good enough that he went to work as an interpreter for a dentist. Later he worked as a clerk at an iron foundry. Once a gang of robbers, thinking Charlotte was home alone with the children, broke into the Berry home. She screamed, and when she would not stop, they hit her with a sword. Samuel tried to get away, but they hit him with the sword as well, knocking him down and giving him a scar on his head he carried the rest of his life. He managed to escape and warn the neighbors. Edmond, who had been sleeping in another room, grabbed a two-foot water key and attacked the robbers, driving them away. Thinking they might return, he hid behind the door with the key raised, while a neighbor approached with an ax. Samuel, seeing what was happening, jumped between them and kept them from attacking each other.

According to Samuel’s son-in-law Matthias Cowley, Valparaiso had no water in those days. Mule trains brought it in, and women and children would buy it in the town square and bring it home in jars. Edmond got the idea of digging a canal, and though people laughed at him, the more he looked into it the more he thought it would work. He laid out the route, hired locals for 10 cents a day, and started digging. When the mule train owners saw he was going to succeed, they plotted to tar and feather him and run him out of town. Edmond got wind and escaped with his family and their money in money belts, though they left their other possessions behind. Samuel’s terse account mentions neither of these adventures but notes that “my father got a good berth on the English waterworks; he was put in boss over the whole affair.”3

The family returned to England in 1845, again by sailing ship. They put their fortune of five or six thousand dollars in a money belt and had Samuel, who was 14, wear it, thinking he would be less likely than Edmond to be robbed. The captain of Samuel’s ship bet another captain a new hat that he would be the first to England. When they got near Cape Horn, one evening the ocean frozen over. They pulled the ship around hard and sailed north all night to avoid the icebergs that formed. Once the ocean melted and they made it around the Horn, a ship coursed near them. They thought it was a pirate ship, so they tried to outrun it, but it turned out to be the other captain. He reminded Samuel’s captain of the new hat. They continued their journey as far as the coast of Ireland, where a storm arose. Samuel’s ship wrecked and they lost both lifeboats. The captain entrusted Samuel with a second belt containing the ship’s money, thinking Samuel was strong enough to swim to shore.4 Charlotte was so sure the end had come that she wrapped the children in a blanket and said, “We will all go down together.” The local people were finally able to get a rope to the ship by firing it from a cannon. They used the rope to draw a boat back and forth to the ship, and all were saved.

Samuel R. Parkinson
Samuel at 43

The Berrys continued their journey to England. Over the next months Samuel went with his family to see various relatives, most of them impoverished by the potato famine. The Berrys gave money to each from their savings, and before long it was gone. They had enough for a pair of cows, and that winter the milk they sold was the family’s only income. The next spring Edmond and Samuel found work on the Blackburn and Preston Railroad. Lucy, who had a beautiful singing voice, sang in competitions and once performed before the queen.

The family had already traveled around the world once, but in 1848 they decided to emigrate once more, to America. This time they traveled by steamship. They settled in St. Louis, where they moved next door to a family of Latter-day Saints. St. Louis had a cholera epidemic in 1849. Samuel and his father went to work the morning of July 18, and when they came home they found Charlotte had died and her body had been hauled off in a cart full of corpses.5

Arabella Chandler Parkinson
Samuel’s first wife, Arabella Chandler

The Berrys continued their journey to England. Over

Samuel studied the gospel that year and after “much investigation” joined the Church In January 1850 at the age of 18. He was baptized in Chouteau Pond in St. Louis, where the Union Station was later built. They had to break the ice before the baptism could begin. At 19 Samuel left home and moved into his own place. He bought a team of mules and became a “drayman” (someone who hauls things in a “dray,” a lowslung cart). He worked hard, paid off his team, and then bought another one. On New Year’s Day 1852, at age 20, he married Arabella Ann Chandler, a member of the Church who had also emigrated from England (she was nearly 28). They had a successful business and money in the bank and their prospects seemed good. Their first child, Samuel Chandler Parkinson, was born in St. Louis in 1853.

In 1854 Samuel and his family crossed the plains to join the Saints in Utah. Samuel brought his sister Lucy (later Packer) and his wife’s brother Frederick, who lived with them in Utah for a time.6 Samuel and family traveled by riverboat with other St. Louis Saints as far as Ft. Leavenworth, where the wagon train formed up. They camped near Salt Creek to wait for cattle and equipment to arrive. Lydia Dunford, a girl of eight on the journey, later wrote that here Saints began dying, first one, then another, and quickly they realized it was cholera.7 The better part of a company of Saints from New Brunswick all Died. A girl died, and an English sister gave up her wardrobe to bury her in. Many were buried just in their clothes. A Sister Ballinger from St. Louis was buried in her fine featherbed, while an elder sang a sweet hymn. The next day the elder himself was buried, with no one to sing him a song. Apostle Orson Pratt visited the camp and said, “It’s the water. Get underway at once, or you will all die.” Lydia says she felt this confirmed “the words of the Prophet Joseph, that ‘the destroyer rides upon the waters and our lives were unsafe on the Missouri River.’”

The Parkinsons traveled in the company of William Fields. Most the families in the company had oxen, which meant they had to walk alongside the animals to drive them. Samuel the drayman was the only one with a mule team. Lucy, who was then 15, remembers walking to make the load lighter on the animals. Not far out onto the plains, a group of 350 Indians rode up to them. Pioneers never knew what to expect when that happened. The Indians said they had been on a war party against another tribe and hadn’t eaten in three days. The pioneers fed them and gave them gifts. According to Lydia, “All men stood guard that night, no one slept.” In the morning, to their relief, the Indians rode away. Diaries kept by company members on the trail record the daily worry of finding adequate forage and water. Oxen, horses, and cows strayed pretty regularly. Axles kept breaking. One ox dropped dead in its tracks. The company saw great herds of buffalo, and they sent out hunters to add to their food supply. Samuel shot one, and in later years he liked to tell his children the story and then sing “We’ll Chase the Buffalo.” Lucy’s history says she “gathered wildflowers along the way. She slept under the wagon at night. On nice evenings they enjoyed dancing and singing sessions by the light of campfires. They sang mostly Church hymns, giving badly needed inspiration and encouragement to the weary travelers. They also sang love songs which were popular at the time.”

Samuel R. Parkinson Arabella Parkinson
Samuel and Arabella’s portraits in the
Franklin Relic Hall
Charlotte C. Parkinson Esther C. Parkinson Clara C. Parkinson Carolline C. Parkinson
Samuel and Arabella’s four daughters
L-R: Charlotte C. (Pratt), Esther C. (Rogers), Clara C. (Goaslind), Caroline C. (Goaslind)
Samuel R. Parkinson and sons
Samuel with his sons by Arabella
L-R: Samuel C., George C., Samuel R., Franklin C., William C.

Apostles Ezra T. Benson and Lorenzo Snow, traveling east to missions, met Samuel’s company on the plains. They camped with them and gave them counsel. Another time the company met ten wagons of people who had left the Church and were heading back to the States. Once Samuel’s company camped near a stream and drove the cattle over it to graze. Little Lydia, sent out to gather buffalo chips for the cook fire, returned with a piece of wood plucked from a trailside grave. On it was written: “Do not camp here, but go on three miles; if you camp here, do not drive your cattle over the creek.” It was too late to move camp by now. They posted extra guards, but Indians still drove off their cattle. The next morning they saw Indians on hilltops waving their blankets in celebration. The pioneers were able to round up most their animals, though some of them were shot with poisoned arrows. Lydia writes, “Among these was a fine yellow cow, and my mother said she moaned almost like a human being until she died.” Another time the pioneers found a dead Indian sewn up in his blankets in a tree. One of the men cut the tree down, took his pipe and tobacco, and burned the tree. The captain got mad at him, as this could have led to a massacre. He made him put the Indian and all his things back in another tree, just like he had found them.

A government wagon train traveled not far from Samuel’s, bringing treaty goods to Fort Laramie, sometimes ahead of Samuel’s company, sometimes behind. Samuel’s company left them at the fort and continued ten miles. About this time an Indian caught and killed a cow belonging to an emigrant. The army sent out 28 soldiers to negotiate with the chief. As Samuel tells it, the officer in charge had been drinking, and his negotiation consisted in demanding the chief surrender the thief. “If you do not, I will blow the top of your head off!” The chief laughed and said: “What will become of you, if you blow the top of my head off? See all these Indians here?” Many thousands had come to the fort to receive their presents and were camped in the vicinity. The officer ordered his men to fire, killing the chief. The Indians reacted by killing and scalping all the solders and then raiding the fort and helping themselves to the presents.

Runners caught Samuel’s wagon train on the plains and told them what had happened. Captain Fields drove the company all night to increase their distance, and sent Samuel ahead with his mule team to warn a part of the company that had gone on before. Samuel says: “We were accompanied by . . . terrified mountaineers and others whom I had warned en route. At every trading point they gathered up their ponies, wagons and belongings and joined us.” Another company of Mormons arrived at Fort Laramie a little later and discovered a non-Mormon wagon train that had been looted and 40 pioneers scalped and left to blacken in the sun. Samuel says, “It seems that we were always ahead or a little behind all such occurrences on the plains.” The cattle belonging to Samuel’s company began to give out on the Sweetwater, and Captain Fields, fearful of what would happen if they didn’t get to Great Salt Lake City quick, bought cattle there. This saved his company but ruined him financially—when he couldn’t get reimbursed, he left the territory for California and soon died.

Samuel worked for a time helping build a canal to float stones from the quarry to the Salt Lake Temple site. Then he settled in Kaysville. He writes in his journal, “I found Utah a hard place for me to live and save my team, until I got use to the ways of the country.” His first winter he would go on the hillsides and pull dry grass from beneath the snow and bring it home in sacks for his hungry mules. Finally he turned his animals out, and to his surprise they foraged for themselves and did fine. He took a job burning charcoal in some cedars west of Ogden. He built a cabin and planted a crop the next year, but “the grasshoppers eat it all up.” Samuel worked on the fort wall that fall and ran a threshing machine, “so I made my bread and seed for another year.” Arabella had twins in August 1855, Charlotte and William. A storm came up while Arabella was in bed with them, blowing off a chunk of roof above them and drenching them in rain and mud, but they came through alright. Samuel went on a mission to pick up some handcart goods at Devil’s Gate. Back home he traded his stove for another and got a cow in the bargain. As he put it, “I turn out to be a general trader.”

In 1855, according to a story that comes to us through several of Samuel’s children, Samuel couldn’t find his mules, so after two days of looking, he and Arabella went to a man who had a peepstone. Samuel was skeptical but thought he might as well try. The man looked and told him he saw the mules under a tree four miles away. He invited Samuel to look, telling him most people couldn’t see anything in a peepstone. Samuel looked, and to his surprise, there they were. He asked Arabella if there was anything she wanted him to inquire about. There was a lot of talk about polygamy right then, so Arabella said, “Ask to see your other wife, if there is one for you.” He looked and saw two young girls, arm in arm, dressed alike in Sunday dresses and matching bonnets. Samuel called Arabella over, and she saw them too. On the way home Samuel said, “If you ever see those two girls, will you consent for me to marry them?” Arabella said, “Yes, but never until then.” Years later Samuel was sitting in church when Charlotte Smart and her sister Maria (pronounced Ma-RYE-ah) entered the hall, looking just as in the peepstone. These were daughters of Thomas Smart, Samuel’s neighbor and business partner. Samuel had known the girls for years but had never thought of them in that way. After the meeting he took Arabella to where the girls would pass by and said to her, “Who did those girls remind you of?” Arabella reluctantly admitted they were the girls she had seen in the peepstone. Samuel never told Charlotte and Maria about the peepstone until he had married them.

A bear had been killing cattle, and some of the men decided to go after it. They tracked it up the canyon to a willow flat, which they decided was not a good place to confront a bear. So they drew lots to see who would go in and lure the bear out. The lot fell to Samuel. He rode his mule into the thicket and soon found the bear and her cub. Samuel and the mule turned and ran, the mother bear right behind them, but it stopped chasing them before they reached the other hunters. Samuel said, “Well, shall we draw lots to see who goes in next to bring the bear out?” The men said they had already drawn lots. So Samuel rode his mule in again. This time the bear chased them out of the thicket, past the hunters, and down the canyon, the bear at the heels of Samuel’s mule. The men pursued but couldn’t shoot without risking shooting Samuel or each other. Samuel came upon a field where some threshers were working. He rode toward them, shouting as loud as he could. When they saw what was happening they formed a line, shouted, and held out their pitchforks. Samuel rode through the line, but the bear didn’t follow, escaping into a gully. Some Indians killed it a few days later.

Samuel was called up for the Utah War, when the United States government sent the army against the Mormons. Samuel spent November through January of 1857–58 on guard duty in Echo Canyon with General Daniel H. Wells. That spring he was part of an expedition to evacuate the Salmon River mission. When Johnston’s Army entered Salt Lake City that summer, they found it eerily silent, with not a soul in sight except the Mormon sentries stationed to burn every building to the ground if the army turned to the left or right. On Brigham Young’s orders, all of Northern Utah had packed up and moved south of the Salt Lake Valley. Samuel and family went to camp with their ward west of Utah Lake. “We found out that the Indians was very hostile that way, so we turn back. Then the word came for everybody to return to their homes, so I drove home.”

Samuel R. Parkinson
Samuel in 1900

In 1860 Samuel and his family pioneered in Franklin, Idaho, with a dozen or so other families. They lived in wagon boxes for the first few months, pulled into a circle for protection from the Indians. When they built their cabins, they arranged those in a square. Samuel and two other men were chosen to survey and give out the land by lot. Without a compass, they used the north star and a carpenter’s square. Samuel said, “I think I was as good a civil engineer as there was in the camp, and that wasn’t saying much for the rest of them.” They gave each family ten acres of farmland and five of meadowland. Samuel held the plow that turned the first furrow. That first year once when all the men were off working on an irrigation ditch, a group of Indians rode into town in feathers and war paint. One woman and one older man fed the Indians bread and buttermilk while a boy hurried the four miles to get the men. It took all the bread and buttermilk in the settlement to keep the Indians, but when the men returned, they were just leaving. Samuel put in a crop that year, helped with ditches, helped build the school, which he attended himself, and traded for Parry and Company out of Salt Lake City. The early years in Franklin, Samuel says he and his sons wore buckskin trousers and shirts, beaver caps, and rawhide boots, and his wife and daughters wore linsey dresses “of their own making.” Samuel built up his farm, bought a machine and threshed for farmers as far south as Ogden, and ran freight to Montana. In 1865 he and Thomas Smart built a sawmill. Samuel also supplied teams that worked on the railroad. Every year from 1861–69 he sent a team East to bring poor Saints to Utah, and one year he sent two teams.

Charlotte S. Parkinson
Charlotte Smart, Samuel’s second wife, in 1903

In 1861 Samuel started a dry goods store “and done considerable business.” In 1869, when President Brigham Young launched the cooperative movement, Samuel was doing well on his own but gave his store over to it anyway. They called this the “one-eyed co-op” because of the all-seeing eye on the front, the symbol of Church-affiliated co-ops throughout the territory. In January 1873, Apostle Brigham Young Jr. criticized Samuel for competing against the Church-owned Franklin Co-op. Samuel closed his store the next day and was made manager of the Church one. (This building is now part of the Pioneer Relic Hall.) He wrote, “The store when I took charge of it was in debt $2,300 dollars. I run it one year [and] it was not owing anybody.” The co-op sold everything from groceries to meat to dry goods to furniture, and they took in chickens and eggs and butter that he sold to ZCMI each week in Salt Lake City. The co-op included a new sawmill that Samuel managed, and added the North Star Woolen Mill, Franklin’s biggest employer. Samuel went East to buy the machinery and served as its director. (All the co-ops in all the little towns had businesses, so that by trading with each other they could supply the people’s needs without sending all the money out of the territory.) In 1874 Brigham Young, impatient to prepare the Saints for Zion, launched the United Order, in which people gave all their property to the bishop, who then assigned to each the means of earning a livelihood. Samuel voted to sustain it and was made a director. The effort never went far in Franklin, but he was willing. This would have been the third time he turned over the store.

Once the railroad got going, he went into the livestock business, running sheep in the desert and up Mink Creek. Once a year in late summer he’d load them on a train and take them to Kansas City to sell. (They used to attach a single passenger car to all the cattle cars.) If he didn’t like the prices in Kansas City, he’d feed and water the sheep and take the train to Omaha. He owned stock or served as director or manager of a variety of ventures, including the Utah Northern Railroad and the La Plata and Sundown mines, and he made money in his businesses. Daughter Susanna remembers: “He had more than most of the people in town, but he didn’t want us to be dressed any better or live any better or feel that we had any more than anybody else—always be just like the rest of the people.” Most his days between the ages of 42 and 60, Samuel spent in the store.

The boiler Samuel purchased in the east for
the Franklin woolen mill

Samuel spent a lot of time working on public roads and ditches over the years, and for eight years he was constable. He wrote, “I belong to the minute company,” the company of men organized under Apostle Ezra T. Benson to protect the settlement against Shoshoni and Bannock raids. One of the duties of the minutemen was to keep watch from the top of the Little Mountain. Samuel wrote, “I was out on every expedition; and we had a great amount of running every year.” In May 1863 a man named Morrison was shot in the shoulder and chest with arrows. Samuel hitched his mules to the front wheels of a wagon and rode all the way to Salt Lake in one day, returning with a doctor the next. The doctor said he couldn’t remove the arrowhead from Morrison’s chest because it was too near his heart. He didn’t give him any hope to live, but Morrison recovered and lived another 27 years. In 1864 a couple of settlers sold some alcohol to a large group of Shoshonis camped north of Franklin. One of the Indians got drunk, broke windows, knocked down a woman, and tried to trample her with his horse. To save her, one of the settlers shot the Indian in the neck and then fled. The Shoshonis took another settler hostage in retaliation. Three hundred minute men rode out the next day from around Cache Valley, while Bishops Maughan and Hatch tried to negotiate with Chief Washakie. Washakie said that the settlers who sold the alcohol were to blame. Bishop Maughan agreed to give the Indians two yolk of oxen in exchange for the prisoner, and so avoided war.

The biggest battle came in January 1863 and did not directly involve the Mormons. Colonel Connor, the U.S. Army commander at Fort Douglas in Salt Lake, surprised the Shoshoni at their winter religious ceremonies on the Bear River a few miles west of Franklin. His soldiers killed hundreds of men, women, and children, and nearly wiped out the Northwestern band. The pioneers had mixed feelings about the attack because they knew most the victims were peaceful, but they had lived in fear of the others for years. They helped care for the casualties on both sides. Samuel hitched his team and hauled dead and wounded soldiers to Fort Douglas. He raised a Shoshoni boy named Shem who was orphaned in the battle. Shem had a hard time adjusting, but he did join the Church and was made a deacon. He died of tuberculosis in 1881. (The remaining Northwestern Shoshoni later joined the Church, and their descendants are our friends and neighbors in northern Utah.)

The old co-op in Franklin, where
Samuel tended store for many years

Samuel believed in polygamy and always meant to live it. According to daughter Vivian, Samuel told Arabella when they were courting: “You know, I know that’s true, that church. And if I join it I’m going to join it whole hand or none. And that means if there ever comes a time I think I should take another wife, I’m going to do it. So now you make up your mind because that’s what I’m going to do.” Arabella gave her consent for him to marry the Smart girls, so in 1865 Samuel arranged to wed Charlotte. Charlotte, on her father’s advice, told Samuel she wanted to wait a year, and he agreed. She told Samuel not to court her during that year as it would be too hard on Arabella. (Arabella was pregnant with their last child.) Their understanding was that if either changed their minds during the year, they would let each other know. They did visit and dance together some at church socials, usually in the company of others. They married in late 1866, when he was 35 and she 17. He married her sister Maria in early 1868, when she was also 17.

Samuel R. and Charlotte S. Parkinson and children
Samuel R. and Charlotte S. Parkinson family, 1903. Back, L-R: Eva, Fred, Annie, Joe, Bertha.
Center: Leona, Samuel, Charlotte, Lucy. Front: Nettie, Vivian, Hazel

Samuel and Arabella had nine children altogether, ranging in age from 13 years to one month when Samuel married Charlotte. Samuel and Charlotte had 11 children, and Samuel and Maria had 12, making 32 in all.8 Charlotte and Maria lived in separate quarters in a single house near Arabella’s until between them they had 17 children at home, after which Samuel built Maria her own home nearby. The children when they grew up said how lonely they felt breaking up that large household. Samuel rotated between his families, spending a week at each before moving to the next one. He had three valises with hair brushes and other personal items, one for each home, and three featherbeds, just alike. He was 63 when his last child, Vivian, was born. (Vivian was once asked if she were related to Samuel Chandler Parkinson, to which she said, “Yes, I am—distantly. He is Father’s first child and I’m the thirty-second.”)

Samuel liked children and could often be found galumphing across the floor with one clinging to his leg. He liked to hold his pocket watch up for small children to examine, and loved to watch their expressions when they heard the ticking. He’d give them a candy bean and tell them, “See how long you can keep it dry.” He told stories and jokes and sang songs: “Dandy Jim from Caroline” from his days on the levee in St. Louis, and “We’ll Chase the Buffalo” from his trip across the plains. With this last one, sometimes he’d have the children parade around him as he sat in a chair and would tap the head of the one nearest with a rolled-up newspaper when he sang the word “chase.” Other favorites were “The Mocking Bird” and “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” He liked to line the grandchildren up when they visited and count them in Spanish, tapping each with his paper. Many years before the Church started family home evenings, Samuel held “home night” one night a week for each family and once a month for all three families at Arabella’s. They would visit, sing, recite, take care of business, and finish off with refreshments, such as candy or nuts. Daughter Susanna says Samuel always tried to get family members to patch up hard feelings and never let the sun go down on their trouble. She says at meals each morning and night he’d have the chairs turned outward so they could have kneeling prayer before beginning. She says even when he was staying at one of the other mothers’ houses, he’d sometimes slip over to her mother’s house in the evening to ask them how they were and to have prayers.

In 1873 Samuel was called to a company of missionaries assigned to explore the country between the Big and Little Colorado Rivers in Arizona and, as his companion William G. Nelson recorded, “locate if we could homes for ourselves and others.” Samuel and William spent April and May traveling south, joining up with other missionaries in Arizona. When enough of the missionaries had gathered, they organized and appointed a captain. He sent them out in parties looking for good sites, but for the most part they could barely find water and forage for their animals—at one point they were feeding them flour. Samuel says of one long day in heavy sand, “I never was so tired since I join the Church.” Samuel records drinking from “a basion [basin] made by the old Nephites,” noted a log 183 feet long “all petterrefied into rock,” talked with John D. Lee about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and “copied some Indian ways of writing.” They camped near the Hopi village of “Mowing coppy” (Moencopi), where another company joined them. This group had a string band, and “in the evening they came and cerernaded [serenaded] our camp and sang songs and preach in Danish.” Some of the men grew impatient to go home, but Samuel’s captain said he would not until Brigham Young sent word. Three teams left anyway but returned that night. They “say they felt like deserters and said if you do not believe it you try it.” Samuel found the Indians hard working and friendly—they told the Mormons they were “very sorry there was no place for us to live in this country.” He visited them and saw how they lived and cooked and ate, and heard them talk and sing. “There was 2 Indian could talk Spanish and I had a long talk with them all about their affairs and stayed with them all night.”

Fred and Joseph Parkinson
Samuel with Fred and Joseph, his sons by Charlotte

All through June the company waited for Brigham Young to send word for them to return, but no word came. On more than one occasion the thermometer said it was 137 degrees in the shade. Finally the captain concluded Brigham Young was leaving the decision to them, so he led them back to northern Utah, which took all of July. Samuel records horseplay on the trail: A pair of elders “drove ahead and left us and take our knives and forks and cups and spoons and tin pan with them and left us without to eat supper. William Nelson drunk his coffee out of the wash pan.” The day they got to Salt Lake, “me and W. Nelson went to see Pres. Young and talk with him and he said I suppose your mission is finish now so we bid him good day” and headed home. This may reflect some impatience with the missionaries on the part of the President. There is no evidence that Samuel shirked in his mission or tried to give less than his due, but he must have been relieved to get back to Cache Valley. In one version of the story, distorted by retelling, Brigham told him to take a wife, go to Arizona, look around, and go where he wanted. So he took a wife, traveled to Arizona, looked around, and as he said, “I wanted to go ’ome, so I went ’ome.”

In 1875 Samuel began to have to hide from the federal marshals trying to arrest him for polygamy. He notes in his diary having to wait in the shed or hide under his bed. Vivian says the homes all had secret compartments upstairs he could hide in. He spent much of 1876 on the run, staying a night or two at a time with friends in Franklin, around Cache Valley, and as far south as Salt Lake. His diary lists dozens of friends who took him in. He read a great deal—the scriptures, the Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, the History of England—and began to write poetry. He’d try to make himself useful with work or repairs to repay his hosts. Occasionally he would slip into Franklin and spend the night with one of his families. He put his son William in charge of the store and would meet with him, sometimes in Salt Lake or Ogden or occasionally in Franklin. By the fall of 1876 he was considering turning himself in, but word came down from Brigham Young that he wanted the men to resist, so Samuel stayed on the run. The marshal captured him in November, and he went on trial for bigamy. But the prosecution couldn’t prove Samuel was married to his first wife, let alone his second or third, so he was acquitted.

They still had to be careful, and in 1877 Samuel moved Charlotte and Maria over the state line to Richmond, Utah, for eight months until the persecution died down. It picked up again in 1885, and again Samuel moved Charlotte and Maria, this time to Paradise, Utah. After four months, he decided it would be better for the children to bring their mothers home and for him to go back into hiding. Again he traveled for about a year but was arrested in late 1886, charged this time with unlawful cohabitation, taken to Blackfoot, and convicted. He was sentenced to the state penitentiary in Boise and fined $300. He told the court:

“I embraced Mormonism for the love I had for the truth I see in it, not because someone wanted to see me join Mormonism. I married my wives after I understood the principle of plural marriage and for the love I had for them and I did this of my own free will and choice and not because someone counseled me to do it, and my wives did the same. There was no compulsion on either side, and I have been married to my plural wives about twenty years, and I have twenty-seven living children, and I am willing to compare them with the average of monogamous families.

“My credit is good any place where I have lived and I teach my children to always live in this way: that their word is as good as their bond. . . . I cannot make any promises to disregard my family and turn them out in the cold world; and before I would do it, I would suffer myself to hang between the Heavens and the earth right here in Blackfoot, but your Honor, I am here to pay the penalty your Honor sees fit to place upon me.”

The judge was so impressed he asked to visit him in Boise and told the warden not to shave his hair and beard, as they did with the other prisoners. The marshal let him go and told him to report once a day until the train to Boise came.

Charlotte S. Parkinson and daughters
Charlotte S. with her daughters. L-R: Charlotte, Annie (Packer), Lucy (Lloyd),
Leona (Monson), Bertha (Larson), Eva (Leigh), Hazel (Peterson), Nettie (Smoot), Vivian (Taylor)

Samuel paid his fine and served five months in Boise. First he was assigned to tend fires, then to feed the pigs, and finally to the laundry. The warden would let him out to go buy apples in town. Once he had to bribe his way with apples past three trustees at their private door, “so you see we are glad to get in the penitentiary sometimes.” He got letters nearly every day and care packages from home. The warden once asked him which of his wives he liked the best. Samuel drew a circle in the dust with his cane and said: “Put me in the center and my wives any place on the edge of it. I like the one the nearest to me.” Another time the warden asked which wife he was going home to, as he knew he couldn’t have all of them. Samuel told the warden, “I’ll stay here as long as you say, but when I leave, I’m going home to all of them.” The day Samuel was released, the warden took him around town and showed him the sights. Samuel thanked him, got on the stage, and went home.

But he was still in danger and for years afterwards would not allow himself to be seen in public with his wives. The wives kept their smaller children hidden. Since Vivian was a quiet baby, Charlotte would sometimes slip her in with a bundle of quilts when she went sleigh riding or hide her in the basket with the rags when she went to a carpet rag bee. Susanna says Maria did much the same with her youngest child Glenn. Vivian was not blessed and named until about 1896, when she was four years old. The family had been calling her Vivian but had previously called her Gladys and then Verda and then Vesta. By now Vivian was old enough to let them know that’s what she wanted to be called, so she always told people she picked her own first name. In August 1889 Samuel and most the men in Franklin were out working on one of the roads, when Maria appeared. Since there were nonmembers and apostates present, she said nothing but only strolled by and caught Samuel’s eye. He waited until dark and then went to her home in Logan, only to learn their infant daughter Lenora had died. He and his son-in-law Matthias Cowley took the body to Franklin, dug up the grave of her sister Chloe, who had died two years earlier, and buried Lenora there too so no one would know.

Samuel kept a diary beginning with his mission to Arizona. He let it lapse but picked up again when he went to prison, which he no doubt also saw as a kind of mission. He wrote one or two or three lines a day nearly every day now for the rest of his life. “Today I was tending the store.” “Today I was settling accounts.” “Today I had a headache.” He was troubled by migraines much of his life.

The last part of the century, Samuel looked after his sheep and other holdings and kept his store. As happened to most the co-ops, the small stockholders gradually sold out until Samuel and a few other men owned the whole enterprise. The Franklin Cooperative survived longer than most, no doubt in part because of Samuel’s good management. In about 1891 the board decided to liquidate the store, which left Samuel free to concentrate on his other businesses. He served as first counselor in the bishopric in Franklin from 1878 until 1908, a total of 30 years. Not long after he got out of prison in 1887, he and Arabella sponsored an old folks party at his farm and invited everyone in Franklin 66 years and over, regardless of religion or race, and widows and wives of missionaries as well. They put on an old folks party every year after that until Arabella died in 1894. Maria also used to have dinners at her home for old folks and widows once or twice a year. Samuel was made a patriarch in 1892 while he was still a counselor in the bishopric. Vivian used to write the patriarchal blessings as he gave them.

Samuel R. Parkinson
Samuel’s portrait in the Daughters of Utah
Pioneers museum in Salt Lake City

Arabella was growing old and her children were gone, so she asked Maria to name a daughter after her. Charlotte did so, and little Bell spent extra time at her “aunt’s” visiting and helping her. Arabella developed cataracts, so Charlotte sent over her sons Fred and Joe to fill her wood box and her daughters Annie and Lucy to do her laundry. Arabella died in 1894. A couple of years later Charlotte’s house burned down, so Samuel moved her to Arabella’s. He built a new house on the lot where Charlotte’s house had been and moved Maria there. In about 1901 Samuel moved Charlotte to Logan so he could be near the temple and to make it easier for the kids to attend Brigham Young College, the Church’s high school. Charlotte served as “dorm mother” for all Samuel’s children of high school age. Samuel would spend part of the week in Franklin taking care of his duties as bishop’s counselor, and part of his week in Logan going to the temple. He commuted between his homes by train. In about 1904 he built Charlotte a house in Preston and moved Maria to Logan. In 1906 Samuel, Charlotte, and sons Joe and Fred homesteaded contiguous plots near Rexburg and built a cabin where the four corners met. Normally husband and wife couldn’t file separately for land, but since the government didn’t recognize their marriage, they were able to go ahead and file. They lived there during the summers and worked their land. Eventually Samuel sold his plot to Joseph, which helped Samuel with his retirement. In 1913 Samuel married Charlotte civilly, perhaps to ensure an inheritance for at least some of his children. Maria died in 1915.

Maria S. Parkinson
Maria Smart (pronounced “Mariah”),
Samuel’s third wife

Vivian says: “Father was honest and fair with every business dealing he ever had. . . . He was cheerful and happy. He wouldn’t allow any quarreling or bickering among his family. And it takes a firm, honest man to live polygamy and make a success of it, and this was one of his main qualities. He wouldn’t have any speaking against the authorities of the Church. He was careful with his money. He had to be. He had such a large family, and it didn’t come easy.” Susanna adds, “Tithing was stressed to the letter. One-tenth didn’t belong to us at all, it was the Lord’s. . . . And always uphold and sustain the authorities. Those were the things that stayed with me always.” Samuel did not like to be in debt himself, and when he extended credit, whether to ward member, family member, or stranger, he expected to be paid. Vivian says Samuel tended to be serious and that he could be blunt. Once he told a son’s fiancee, “I suppose you know what you’re getting. You can get him to do anything in the world except work.” There were 21 polygamist families in Franklin. Vivian says Samuel told Charlotte one day, “I’d say there were seven who lived it right, and we were one of the families that did.”

Samuel’s children described him as a proper English gentleman. Vivian says he was “always dressed up with collar and tie on, gold watch and chain, a cane and walked with an air of dignity.” She helped him put on his collar each day. He wore a dark suit in the winter, a light suit and Panama hat in the summer, and a flower in his buttonhole in season. In the early days, the Church stressed the Word of Wisdom less—Samuel had a cup of tea each morning. Samuel called his wives “Mrs.” and they called him “Mr. Parkinson.” He put his shoes outside his door to be blacked by one of his children each evening. At home he liked to keep things “ship-shape,” his furniture and buildings tidy and in good repair, his coal- and feed- and wood-bins full. He bathed in a metal tub in the kitchen, and like many in his generation, he would not take off his garments even while bathing. He would sit on a stool in the tub and slip the old one down on one leg and bathe half of his body. Then he would pull a clean garment on that side before removing the old one and bathing the other half of his body.

Samuel R. Parkinson and sons
Samuel with his sons by Maria.
Back, L-R: Clarence, Thomas, Edmond. Front: Glenn, Samuel, Hazen.
Maria S. Parkinson and daughters
Maria with their daughters. L-R: Olive (Monson), Arabella (Daines),
Sarah Ann (Marshall), Maria, Luella (Cowley), Susanna (Nielson)

He was five feet ten inches, with blue eyes, dark brown curly hair, and a long beard. Vivian says, “He had a very hearty laugh which showed one gold crown among all of his own teeth,” (which was rare in that day). By the time he was in his sixties he had a bald spot. He’d travel to Salt Lake every year to have a new toupee made to match his increasingly graying hair, though he didn’t always wear it. He was healthy all his life except for the migraines and a burst appendix when he was 66. His friend Dr. William B. Parkinson (no relation) diagnosed him and sent him to Salt Lake, where nine doctors said he would die and one that he would live. He pulled through. When he was older he would stroll into town each day to buy a paper and pick out a T-bone steak. As he aged he got his “second sight”: his farsightedness and his nearsightedness canceled each other out. He read without glasses from middle age until he died at 88.

Samuel visited St. Louis several times on business and always looked up his father, brother, and sisters. He often found his father and sisters in poor straits, and he always gave them $5 or $10 to help them out. (He helped his sister Lucy out as well.) He visited his children in Rexburg and in Oregon and California. Samuel had business and church dealings with Brigham Young and other Church leaders. The wood for the pillars in the Salt Lake Tabernacle came from Samuel’s mill. He never missed general conference. He used to check into the LDS Hospital during his stays because he thought they gave better service than hotels. Always he brought home boxes of grapes, celery, coconuts, and bananas for the families. He bought shoes by the barrel and brought them home for the kids. As the children left home the family began holding annual reunions in Arabella’s old house. Samuel loved nothing better. “Well, Missus, this is heaven on earth,” he would say. He sang “Darling, I Am Growing Old,” and the family would join in. He never liked to hear his children refer to each other as half-brothers and sisters. He would always bear his testimony and tell his family he loved them. One year the family gave him a gold-headed cane. On his 73rd birthday they presented him with a family tree painted on canvas, 4 by 5 1/2 feet, and they brought it up to date on his 80th birthday, when his family numbered 219. It hangs now in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers museum in Salt Lake City.

Vivian remembers him always saying to her mother, “My that’s good bread, Missus. I like the hard crusts to chew on.” Others of his sayings: “The gospel is a cure-all for everything.” “Educate yourselves.” “Never be ashamed of work.” “Keep up your end of the tug.” When it came to buying or selling, he’d say, “Just wait until the sign is right.” When one of his wives forgot something, he’d stroke his beard and say, “Yes, Missus, you’re troubled with afterthought.” When his wives teased him, he’d say, “Go on with your abuse, if you think there’s no hereafter.” Once he ran in a 4th of July race for men over 70 and won first prize, a dollar’s worth of sugar. He said, “My! My! That took more than a dollar’s worth of sugar out of me.” When he was 84 he went to the Saltair resort on the south end of the Great Salt Lake and had his satchel and $40 stolen. He said, “They may take my money, but they can’t take my good time.” His grandson Bernice visited him not long before his death and remembers his last wish: “I ’ope I can ’old fast to the hend.”

Samuel R. Parkinson in buckskin shirt
Samuel at the 50th anniversary
of the founding of Franklin

Samuel died May 23, 1919, at age 88, at his home in Preston in the influenza epidemic. (Charlotte, his only wife to outlive him, died in 1929.) Ten of his eleven sons who lived to adulthood went on missions, and some of his daughters, too. His children once calculated that Samuel had had missionaries in the field for 50 years. All his children who lived to adulthood married in the temple, though some were inactive in the Church at various times. In his later years Samuel attended the temple almost daily. He had his sons who served missions in England interview his relatives and gather his genealogy. (In 100 years of trying we’ve made good headway on the Roses but never got much farther on our Parkinson and Berry lines.) He did the work for these and many hundreds of other Parkinsons and Berrys from various parishes in England. Samuel wanted his money to go to Charlotte’s support and then into a perpetual temple fund to support Parkinson research. Apparently there was none left when she died, so in about the 1930s the three branches of the family each contributed $2000. The fund has supported lots of research over the years and is going strong in the year 2002.

Samuel R. Parkinson
Samuel late in life


1. Photo on first page taken when Samuel was 50.

2. Charlotte Rose was the young widow of John Duckworth, who had died in 1826. John, a soldier who served in the Indies (we don’t know whether East or West), brought Charlotte from her home in Chatham, Kent, to Lancashire. According to Samuel’s daughter Olive P. Monson, Charlotte was disinherited when she married him. Olive’s son Samuel C. Monson writes: “After the couple reached Lancashire, according to my mother . . . , Charlotte asked her husband about his family estate while they were on a walk in the hills. He turned away from her, closed his eyes, and said that he was the master of all he could see. They ended up living in his parents’ crude cottage, where cooking, dining, sitting, and sleeping all took place in its single smoke-darkened room with kitchen supplies such as dried onions hanging on strings from the beams.” Samuel Monson says their daughter Elizabeth Duckworth was born in 1826, after John died, though according to the 1850 census Elizabeth may have been born as early as 1822. Charlotte may have had an earlier marriage. Chatham records show a Charlotte Rose marrying a John Roberts in 1819. They had a child, Sarah Ann. Both John and Sarah Ann died in 1821.

3. I have standardized some but not all the spelling in quotes from Samuel’s journal. I felt some original spelling was expressive of Samuel’s character as a self-educated man and would give a taste of Samuel’s speech.

4. In another version of the story, one of Samuel’s money belts was for gold and the other for silver.

5. The detail of Charlotte’s body being gone when Edmond and Samuel came home comes from Samuel C. Monson. But Charlotte may have had a premonition of her death. In Matthias Cowley’s version, the family had to bury her but in their poverty were at a loss as to what to dress her in. “Lucy, then ten years old, brought out a box from under her bed. It contained clothes for burial which her mother had made for herself in case they were needed.”

6. Lucy joined the Church in Salt Lake in 1855. She married Isaac Hoffmire Packer and has a numerous posterity. Frederick later went to California and the family lost track of him.

7. Lydia Dunford grew up to marry Arabella’s nephew George Alder.

8. Samuel’s children with Arabella are Samuel Chandler (23 Feb 1853), Charlotte Chandler (1 Aug 1855), William Chandler (2 Aug 1855), George Chandler (18 Jul 1857), Franklin Chandler (7 Jul 1859), Esther Chandler (2 Feb 1862), Albert Chandler (8 Aug 1863), Clara Chandler (18 Apr 1865), and Caroline Chandler (10 Nov 1866). Samuel’s children with Charlotte are Ann Smart (15 Oct 1867), Lucy Smart (7 Sep 1869), Joseph Smart (15 Jul 1872), Fredrick Smart (8 Jan 1875), Leona Smart (15 Mar 1877), Bertha Smart (24 Sep 1879), Eva Smart (7 Mar 1882), Hazel Smart (31 Mar 1884), Nettie Smart (9 Apr 1886), and Vivian Smart (28 Nov 1892). Samuel’s children with Maria are Thomas Smart (27 Mar 1869), Luella Smart (22 Sep 1870), Arabella Smart (23 Oct 1872), Sarah Ann Smart (21 Apr 1875), Olive Smart (25 May 1877), Edmond Smart (9 Feb 1879), Clarence Smart (17 Dec 1880), Susanna Smart (8 Mar 1882), Hazen Smart (1 Apr 1884), Henry Smart (6 Jun 1886), Chloe Smart (2 May 1887), Lenora Smart (3 May 1889), and Glenn Smart (20 Jun 1892). Note that the Ancestral File lists Chloe as both Charlotte’s and Maria’s daughter. I’ve followed the family group sheets distributed by the family in the 1960s.

family tree
The family tree, now on display in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers museum in Salt Lake


First Generation

Second Generation

Third Generation