Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Life Sketch of John Ammon Powell Which He Dictated

I John Ammon Powell, was born in Pisday, Ill. Nov. 27, 1844, the fourth child in a family of nine. My father, James Powell was born in 1809. He was from North Carolina. My mother was Jerminah (Jemima) Wimmer Powell, she was born in the state of Indiana.

My father was a partaker (victim) of the Missouri persecutions against the Latter-Day Saints. At one time he refused to sign a petition against the Mormons. In consequences of his refusal the mob used violence against him, cursed him, and struck him on the side of his skull with the barrel of a gun. After a long sick spell, he recovered, but even after his recovery the left side of his body remained paralyzed.

My parents arrived in Utah, Oct. 13, 1852. We came in the company of Captain Robert Wimmer. We went directly to Ogden and lived there until 1854. My father drowned in the Weber River west of Ogden, July 2nd, 1854. I was then I my tenth year. After the death of my Father, my Mother disconnected with the location and moved to Springville, Utah. My Mother endured many hardships.

From the time I was thirteen years old I managed an ox team. For years I hauled timber and cordwood from Lamb’s canyon to Salt Lake City. I went to Kamas Valley in 1858 and took up a homestead. At that time there were only two houses in the Valley. I built the third house. It was for my Mother. I cut and hewed the logs and laid them into the wall with my own hands, without any assistance. It was big, comfortable one room house.

I was at that time fifteen years old. Mother lived in the house two years. Later I built another log house near my mother’s. It was a great improvement over the first one. I was married January 13th, 1863, to Hannah Matilda Snyder. My first two children were born in Kamas. The third house I built in Kamas was better than the first two, but the fifth house I built in the Valley was the best of all.

The Black Hawk War drove us out of Kamas. Everybody had to move, so I moved to Lamb’s Canyon, where I could work and not be troubled by Indians. I never had any particular trouble with the Indians; although I met them in dangerous moods. In 1861 while I was in Kamas Valley cutting hay with a mower (scythe or cycle) where a band of fifty Indians formed a circle and camped just above where I was working. They had scalps of seven white men hosted on poles and were firing shots and yelling.

I went to their camp, but they did not pay much attention to me. The squaws where singing whiles the men were circling around the camp with the several scalps as belonging to two of my friends. At another time while cutting wood in Lamb’s Canyon I happened to glance up just in time to see an Indian pointing a gun at me. One day while hunting Elk near Woodland Lake near Kamas I was tracked by and Indian. I hurried to camp, dodging behind trees here and there. Finally I spied the Indian in an open clearing and beckoned him to come here (to camp).

When my partner arrived in camp the Indian left. There were about 12 other Indians going through the canyon that day and we felt relieved when they were gone. I stayed in Lamb’s Canyon, East of Salt Lake City about 3 years, after which I moved to Salem, Utah. I married Sarah Jane Shields Plumb, January 6th, 1870. My wife Matilda passed away in 1877, leaving six children, three girls and three boys; the oldest boy twelve and the youngest six months. My wife, Sarah cared for the family most faithfully.

Regarding my experiences as a huntsman, I may relate my first experience an encounter with a bear. It was in Lamb’s Canyon. One morning at day break I saw a bear’s big track in my path. I looked around and saw him standing on a ridge and shot; the first shot missed him, the second shot grazed him and stunned him. Then he went off into the timber. The next day I saw the bear in the same location and shot and killed him. This was my first bear; I was fourteen years old. In the course of my hunting I have killed eleven bears.

In Dec. 1878 my brother Abe Powell, Caleb Rhodes, Robbie Snyder and little Johnnie P. Powell Jr. and I went on a deer hunt beyond Mt. Nebo. It proved to be a bear hunt of fatal consequences. We went on to a rough part of the woods east of the three peaks of Mt. Nebo; here we made camp for the night. Next morning at breakfast Abe said, “I dreamed I was in a fight and had my stomach cut out. I don’t like dreams.” I said “I dreamed that my wife Matilda came to me and beckoned me out of danger. After eating breakfast we hurried away from camp. The snow in the ravine where we were hunting was deep and clean, not a track of any animal whatsoever.

Presently I hear my brother call. I was probably about 300 yards away from him. I knew something was wrong by the way he called. When I got to him I found he had been scalped by a bear. Both eyes had been clawed out and where hanging on his cheeks. Sightless and in agony he had bumped into a pole. I found him sitting at the bottom of the pole with his arms around it. I took off my shirt and bound up his head, put his eyes back into their sockets, and then he asked me for a drink of water. He told me to make a fire and melt a pot full of snow over the coals, which I did. I carried him about 75 yards away from the place of the accident.

Then he told me to go back and get his gun. When I found his gun and returned he asked me if he had cocked it. I told him he had not. He said you see the bear knocked me down before I had time to cock it. The bear was on a little tuff, or bank above Abe, and no doubt waiting for him to come along. As Abe passed by the bear attacked him so suddenly that it was impossible for him to protect himself. Abe said that after the bear knocked him down he went over and tried to break the gun by biting it and clawing it. Then it came back and rushing and attacked him, tearing his eyes out.

We arrived in camp about three o’clock that morning. My brother asked what time it was. We did not have watches with us be we looked up at the stars and approximated the time. He said, “I will die about daylight.” At daylight he fainted away, when he revived and I attended to him; Caleb performing the ordination. After a while Abe again sank into a coma and died. The next summer while hunting in the same mountains I killed a bear and I am of the opinion it was the same on that killed my brother. I had great adventure from time to time with my friends while deer hunting.

In April of 1879 we went to Price. Here I freighted while the D&R,G Railroad was being built. We loaded a Tucker and unloaded a Green River. We carried hay, grain and camp provisions. I covered about 15 miles a day. On Jan. 10th, 1882, I married Roseltha Allred in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. During 55 years my chief occupation as been farming, and stock raising. In Price I built five different types of Ranch Houses. There were simple and plain log houses. Later on I built brick homes in Price. I also purchased three brick houses in Salt Lake City.

In my home building experience in Utah I’ve erected five houses in Kamas, two in Lamb’s Canyon, two in Salem, five ranch houses in Carbon County, three brick houses in Price. It was well with me that I was a builder, for I had three families. My first was the mother of six children, my second wife was the mother of fifteen children and my third wife was the mother of ten children. My wives where united by a bond of sisterly love. My message to children and grandchildren and those to follow – “Be lifters and builders and not leaners. Let your deeds speak for you.”

John Ammon Powell
Died December 14, 1928
2495 South 5th East
Salt Lake City, Utah

This story about James Powell, written in the hand writing of Jemima Wimmer, the story of Robert Wimmer, written in his own hand, were found in an old family record book of Peter and Elizabeth S. Wimmer in the possession of Robert Wimmer a grandson of afore mentioned Robert Wimmer. Compiled by Mary L. Powell (Blackburn) about 1930. Also present was Elizabeth M. Powell and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Wimmer; Robert’s sister, and Mrs. David Huish.

Note by Michael Leonard: This text is from a transcript that was given to me by my father that was typed by his relatives from a hand written account by John Ammon Powell. John Ammon Powell was married to Sarah Jane Shields Plumb Powell and they are the parents of Zoe Ellen Powell who was married to Leopold Leonard who were the parents of my father Max Gene Leonard.

Here is a link to some history of the Powells:
and here is some history of the Leonards:

No comments: