Cache Valley, Fall of 1858 and Winter of 1859
Information is meager as to what took place in the Valley after the spring of 1858 when the settlers at Maughan’s Fort moved out due to orders of President Brigham Young because of the coming of Johnson’s Army or what is known as the Utah War, and until the spring of 1859 when the resettlement began. However, A Mr. R. C. Pinney one of the few remaining survivors of these early days and a resident of Logan, Utah when this sketch was written, has given out the following information relative to this period, which information has been checked and there is no question but that it is correct.
Mr. Pinney stated that during that same year in October after the War, matters were settled between Utah and the Government. Thomas Obray and others decided to return to Cache Valley and winter. The group consisted of the following: Thomas Obray and family and R. C. Pinney, who then was thirteen years of age and worked for Obray; Frank Gunnell, Dunkin Gardner, Zial Riggs and Clayton families; Robert Hill and his wife and Alexander Hill. There were also Timothy and Henry Parkinson who were just small boys.
The cabins were at once occupied, the cracks between the logs chinked up and others repaired for the winter. Turnips which had been planted in July by the men who had first returned, were abundant and were harvested for the winter. One or two of the families had a little flour with them but it did not last long and during the winter bread was a scarce article. The wheat that was harvested was boiled and eaten with milk. Obray and some of the others had brought a few cows and one of the jobs of Pinney was to milk Obray’s cows.
The settlers were fortunate in that game, such as wild ducks and geese in the river bottoms and wild chickens on the foothills, were plentiful. However, these could be had only sparingly because of lack of sufficient ammunition.
Perhaps more than any other that helped to make it possible for the little colony to get through the winter, was the Clayton family. They were good hunters and knew how to use snowshoes. They would harness themselves to their long sleighs and go out into the Valley and in the mountains and be gone for two or three days at a time, and would always return with part of an elk or deer on their sleighs. They would then go back and haul the remainder of their meat which they had stored away. This was freely distributed and the settlers had all the fresh meat needed during the winter. The turnips were used as a substitute for potatoes.
In January, 1859, a party was equipped to go to Brigham City for supplies. When they arrived at Brigham City, a terrific storm came and they had great difficulty in getting back to Cache Valley with their loads. They were accompanied back by a little old man by the name of Fisher. Fisher was a sugar maker and he desired to come early so he would be into the Valley at the proper time for tapping the maple trees for their sap as he expected to make a good deal of maple sugar during the season.
All the foothills where we now raise dry farm grain, were covered with heavy growths of maples. On the way over the storm was so severe that the little old man Fisher froze his feet and they were in a terrible condition. The settlers gave him what assistance they could but it was soon evident that he would lose his feet. He lived with the Gardners. One foot came off at the ankle and another leg at the knee. He suffered untold misery for nearly two months, when he died and was buried not far from the cabins. Young Pinney had to take his turn in staying with and helping to nurse Fisher.
During the fall of 1858 and the winter of 1859, some of the Garr boys at the Church farm which had been established in the summer of 1855, visited with the settlers at Maughan’s Fort.
Peter Maughan and his family remained at Brigham City for the winter but kept in close touch with the settlers in Cache Valley. This accounts perhaps for these events not appearing in the diaries of the Maughans. They, however, arrived in the Valley in the spring of 1859 to remain permanently. Mr. Pinney left Cache Valley in May of 1859 and did not see it again until about twelve years ago. On his way over the Sardine route, he met several groups just coming into the Valley. However, several parties had come in previously by way of Collinston and had camped at the Church Farm and later settled at Spring Creek, Providence.
In ordering badges for the pioneers for the Centennial Celebration, the year 1858 was not provided for as it was thought there were none who were in that year as that was the year of the move. Mr. Pinney had given us new light on this period and one badge for 1858 has been ordered and R. C. Pinney will be the only one to wear it. He is extremely proud to do so.