Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Betsy Jane PARKER wife of John George SMITH
written Mrs. Earl Smith in 1942
Dear Children,
I am writing this letter to give you some truths and dates concerning your Grandmother Smith’s life. I am writing now while she is still with us that she can give me the important things from her own memory which is very excellent. I also write this for anyone who may be interested in the life of a Southern Utah pioneer, and also our only living Kanarra Pioneer. I do hope that the lovely thoughts that are written here you shall always keep in your memory and cherish as something beautiful.
Mrs. Earl Smith

John Davis PARKER (1799-1891)
Almeda Sophia ROUNDY (1829-1912)

Betsy Jane Parker Smith - Born March 20, 1859 at Centerville Davis County. She was the daughter of two of the faithful pioneers, John [Davis] Parker and [Almeda Sophia] Roundy, who crossed the plains and came to Salt Lake Valley. Great gradnfather Parker was a polygamist.

Grandma [
Betsy Jane Parker Smith] lived in Centerville until she was six years old, and then the family moved to Levan, stayed two years there, then when she was eight years old they moved south. At that time Brigham Young was calling families to settle other communities farther south, and he told Lorenzo Roundy, that was Grand’s uncle [Lorenzo was Almeda Sophia Roundy's brother], to select another family and move to Kanab. Brother Roundy came from Centerville on down to Levan and ask John Parker to go. I think the family wanted to wait until spring, as this was late fall, but they were influenced to leave as soon as they could pack and get started.

Charles PARKER (1853-1935)

Brother Roundy had his two wives and their families; they were Susannah and Priscilla also two young men to drive the stock. These men were William Ford and Byron Roundy and his son Wallace. Grandma’s oldest brother [John Davis PARKER Jr.] accompanied them to help drive. These people went on ahead and grandma came on later with the rest of the family and persons.
They had ox team and a team of horses. Her brother Charles
[PARKER] was only fourteen then and drove the horse team all the way.

When the family arrived at Beaver, Grandma [Betsey Jane PARKER] and a younger brother [Otho PARKER] got scarlet fever but they never stopped but came on with their sick in the wagon bed. They were sick all the way. They arrived at Toquerville Christmas eve. What a lovely Christmas Eve they must have had. Richard Higbee took them to his home to camp. The next day Christmas they drove on to Kanab. Lorenzo Roundy was informed where they were and he sent William Ford and Grandma’s brother out to meet them with another team.
Reaching their destination, they found one log room, the sick were placed there, and the rest were in tents and covered wagons. Brother Roundy also had children with Scarlet Fever. That same night Grandma’s little brother
[Otho PARKER] died, a few days later her sister [Mary Ellen PARKER], and Brother Roundy’s little girl died. Brother Roundy who was my great, Grandfather made three caskets from a wagon box and the graves were all dug under a pine tree.

The Indians were so mean at that time they didn’t know how soon they would have to leave those three lonely graves. The Indians were raiding all the time driving off the cattle and horses. They had that fear when they went to bed at night of being massacred before morning. Grandma can still remember the feeling that went over her when the word came that two Berry Brothers [Joseph Smith and Robert Matison BERRY] had been killed [2 Apr 1866], and the Indians not so very far from where they were camped had killed a man named Whitmore. They finally decided they couldn’t risk their lives any longer and went from Kanab to Long Valley in the spring where they planted crops, but the Indians were always on the warpath. Then in the summer they were called to come to Kanarra.
They left crops and shelters and arrived here the 3rd of July. They camped down in the meadow by what we call Billy Young Spring.

Bishop Lorenzo Wesley ROUNDY (1819-1876)
[Bishop Roundy drowned in the Colorado River while exploring new territory for the Prophet Brigham Young.]

Lorenzo Roundy, your great Grandfather was chosen Bishop, and he started right away to plan a fort [Kanarraville]. It was built around what we know as the public square. They started right away to build the fort to protect them from the Indians. By fall of that year the people of Kanarra moved in and joined the fort. It was necessary because of so much sand out where they were living (to the north) and also they combined their towns to be protected from the Indians. That’s the reason for building in the form of a fort. One night shortly after this, an old Piute Indian, a friend to the settlers brought word, the Navajos were making a raid on the settlement of Kanarra and Harmony that night. The Bishop asked for volunteers to ride and warn Harmony residents. Grandma’s brother Charles PARKER] [volunteered to go, he was fifteen years old. James Woolsey said “He isn’t going alone, I shall go with him.” Can you imagine his Mothers feelings until he was back safely? The next fall some of the men went back to Long Valley to gather some of the crops that [were] planted the previous year. They filled their wagon boxes and on the way back Indians attacked them. An arrow hit into a tree that William Berry was standing by. The men had to leave their loads and come on with their horses.

The following spring in February another brother [John Davis PARKER Jr.] died of Typhoid Fever. He was nineteen years old.
There was only log room and the dead had to be put outside before burial. A baby sister, [Almeda] Sophia [PARKER] was born, just one week after his death.

They lived in a fort before they started to branch out and build
on lots that had been planned and laid out. At that time food was very scarce, but Grandma’s father [John Davis PARKER] was one of the best financially fixed men. Their usual diet was whole grain meal and eggs, vegetables, mostly potatoes, milk and its products, some fruit. Food was scarce on account of water being scarce. Clothing was scarce, it was all-handmade. Grandma says she can well remember sitting out in the moon light by the side of her mother [Almeda Sophia ROUNDY] to knit their stockings because they had no candles and it was too warm for a fire to light their wood.

Even in this day the Mormon settlers strived for an education. Yet anyone given the chance to go to school very many years were thought fortunate. Parents so much per child taught paid the school teachers personally.
So Grandma considered herself very fortunate. Her parents wanted her to have an education and she went to school. Here last teacher was an English man named Shoppman. She was then eighteen years old when she graduated and took her exam in Toquerville, which was the county seat. Kanarra was in Kane County then. [Kanarra became part of Iron County].

Grandma taught school in Kanarra about two years. Then John [George] Smith from Salt Lake came here hunting work, and started showing her attention. He was somewhat older that she, but that didn’t seem to be a draw back. John Smith had volunteered to fight the Black Hawk Indians when he was seventeen. He was a carpenter by trade and a very efficient one. He worked on the Salt Lake Tabernacle. He made many caskets after that trimmed them and all.
David J. Cannon married Betsy and John in the St. George Temple on March 12, 1880. Then they went to Escalante in Garfield County; lived there for a short time then went back to Grandpa’s hometown Salt Lake. They stayed there for sever years then came back to Kanarra. Their first child was born after they moved back here. They had seven children two girls and five boys. Their oldest boy died when he was thirteen years old his name was Sam. He died in February, and in April another boy was born, this was your dad. He was born April 30, 1899.

Grandpa [John Davis] Parker made the shoes for his family. There was tannery in Parowan at that time. He would get his leather all ready, cut out the shoes, and use wooden pegs to put their soles on with. These pegs were made of hard wood as Locust tree wood. They were put in dry and when they were wet, they would swell and never come out of the shoes. Grandma Smith [Betsey Jane PARKER] never had to go barefoot like lots of the pioneers did. Grandma was blessed by having parents who strictly obeyed the law of tithing. They would have paid their tithing if they hadn’t had anything left to eat.
Grandma says maybe that was the reason they always had food. She was so impressed with this law her family always observed it. She has always donated for any worthy cause. She was always a very faithful church member, always attending until the few recent years. She has been a Relief Society member, worked as a block teacher and was also secretary. She made a very efficient secretary. She took a special course in bookkeeping when she was preparing to be a teach. She is an honorary member now. She is the oldest member in our Relief Society. She attended the Opening Social March 17, 1941 when she was nearing her eighty third birthday. When the weather permits she walks as far as a block everyday. Aunt Bet, as she has been known here in Kanarra, she had been a most faithful one in calling on the sick and homebound. Always sympathizing with those who were looked down on by some or who were not as fortunate as she. One thing not to be forgotten is the fact she was our very best humorous writer. When there was need of something of wit or humor and that was often. Always they could call on “Aunt Bet”, she still has that spirit though she has had many sorrows. She lost three sons, one dying of snakebite, also lost one grown grandson and one baby granddaughter. Both daughters and one son married. She has had eight grand children two of them are married. Grandpa
[John George SMITH] died twelve years ago (1929) at the age of eighty-five. Grandma is still able to work, since she was eighty years old she has pieced by hand four scrap quilts, very beautiful work. She gave one to each of her grand daughters and one to her married grandson. Mignon and Yvonne, you should surely prize those quilts. Grandma’s neighbors and she has had quite a few, has remarked that she has always been cheerful and kind to her family, never once had they heard her scold or spank her children, and you know that from the way she has treated her grown children, and as far as being a good mother-in-law my own parents could never have treated me more as a daughter should be treated, that Grandpa and Grandma Smith and I’m thankful for that.

Grandma’s father
[John Davis Parker] was one of Joseph Smith’s bodyguards at the time of the persecutions of the Saints. Some of the relics Grandma has are as follows: a small tin horse that belonged to her brother the one that died when they first arrived in Kanab. Her books she used when she was teaching school. A picture of Grandpa in his War uniform. The money her oldest boy had when he died. The first love letter she received from Grandpa. A small round copper disk containing the marriage license of Grandpa Smith’s parents [James Gardner SMITH and Grace FISHER]. They were married in Nauvoo, August 31, 1843. An old fashioned family bible. She has a keepsake of the memories of a life so far well filled with good deeds and heart-warming experiences. May her years be many more. She has lived to see three wars, fought and won and we hope it will be her lot to see this one fought and won. (W.W.II)

Signed with Love & Appreciation,
Daughter and Mother
Mrs. Earl Smith

Grandpa George adored her and called her Betty or pet.

This photo and story were found at ancestry.com thanks a cousin. A sister of your grandparent can add a lot to your history about her siblings and parents.


Joan Mortensen Gunnerson said...

Your photo of Parker appears to be a picture of Daniel Hanmer Wells, an early pioneer to the Salt Lake Valley. He was a counselor to Brigham Young, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Lark said...

This picture of John Davis PARKER was obtained on Ancestry.com. It is the only picture ever attributed to John D. PARKER. I will look up Daniel Hanmer Wells.