Early winters in the valley and interactions with the natives
_These stories are excerpts from a collection about [Francillo Durfee]. by [Janis Durfee]_ : ******************************************************************** : mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Immediately upon his return from Council Bluffs in the fall of 1849, Francillo and Cynthia joined James in the Weber Valley. David Moore, George and Frederick Barker, and Robert Porter and their families came as well, making some twenty-three persons in all. A few more settlers came in November (David Moore, Ogden). The winter of 1849–50 was severe with deep snow. Several head of cattle and sheep died during the winter. ... About eighty five families of Shoshoni and fifty to sixty families of Utes were camped on the Weber River, just a short distance from the tiny settlement. Neighbors Ann Bligh Barker and Frederick Barker were blessed with the gift of tongues. Several times they spoke to the Indians in their own language and eased potential problems (Jane Barker Durfee). Although they had no trouble with the Indians at that time, the pioneers organized a militia that February with C.C. Canfield, Captain, and F. Durfey, Lieutenant, and some thirty five men, including twelve emigrants on their way to California. When spring came, the Shoshoni moved on to their hunting grounds, but the Utes stayed, suffering several deaths from measles. The melting snow flooded the area, washing out two bridges that James Brown had built, and forcing the settlers to move to higher ground. A heavy snowstorm hit on April 16th, with the snow staying on the ground for several days, making the pioneers late in getting their crops in. The first of June, droves of crickets moved in from the mountains, destroying their precious crops. As in Salt Lake, seagulls swooped in, eating the crickets and saving the grain (David Moore; Weber County). Jane Barker Durfee, future wife of Henry Dennison, told the following story about her mother, Ann Bligh Barker, and the miraculous rescue of their crops. We had very hard times when we first came to the valley…we planted our grain all we had and had to depend on it for our bread we were living on corn meal wild berries and segos did not get much milk or eggs we also had wild game at times so we planted garden had potatoes corn and all we could when the grain was all headed out we saw the crickets coming they were so thick it was like a cloud passing before the sun. Mother pleaded with the men to go to the grain Patch and try and scare them but they were discouraged and would not so mother said come Harriet and Jane let us take tin pans and a blanket and try and scare them. by the time we got to the field they were beginning to settle down on the grain we went through drumming on the pans and dragging the blanket but they did not go for all we ran back and forth. We were still drumming on the pans when we noticed that Mother was standing still and we heard her Praying in tongues and we to stood still as she Prayed the crickets began to rise off the wheat and soon not a cricket was left on the wheat and we watched them fly down to the Lake and they never came back Mother raised 6 hundred bushels that year on that Patch (Jane Barker) June brought droves of gold seekers through Ogden, anxious to replenish their dwindling supplies and using the ferry to cross the Ogden River. David Moore recorded: The Barker families, F. Durfey and myself and some others, lived on boiled milk, wheat and butter for about six or eight weeks with the exception of wheat—or corn that we ground in coffee mills. The emigrants were rushing the ferries so we could not get a team over until the rush slackened up somewhat, then we each sent a few bushels of wheat by a team to Neuff’s mill, seven miles south of Salt Lake City. _(Moore)_ … The colonization of the Wasatch valleys by the Mormons, combined with the passage of tens of thousands of California bound emigrants, began to affect the hunting and food gathering activities of the local Indians. Chief Walker and his Ute warriors began causing much trouble in Utah County and other nearby settlements. While there were no serious conflicts in Ogden, the stresses between the Indians and the settlers grew, and some potentially dangerous situations arose. The Indians became more aggressive, often walking into the pioneer’s houses and demanding food and beeves, or stealing them by night. Several very serious confrontations were avoided because certain of the pioneers were blessed with the gift of tongues, speaking to the Indians in their own language. The pioneers had no idea what they were saying, but the Indians understood and the danger was averted (Jane Barker Durfee). On one occasion, Little Soldier had killed a Bannock Indian man and his wife, taking captive the woman's little sister. He rode into Mound Fort with the little girl who had been brutally mistreated. She escaped from her captors, hiding in Ann Bligh Barker’s cabin. Ann refused to return the child. After about a month, the whole tribe returned, surrounding the cabin and threatening to kill the entire family if they did not let the little girl, Roda, go. Finally President Farr, the local church authority, intervened, insisting that the danger to the community was too great and that Roda must be returned to Little Soldier. The Indian immediately began beating the child and cutting her back with knives. Two young girls, Harriet Barker and Louvia Bronson, ran to her aid, grabbing her by the hands and pulling her to safety. The Indians, impressed by the bravery of the little girls, left them alone. A short time later, Roda’s brother came to get her; on the way back home, he met Little Soldier and traded Roda to Little Soldier for some horses. The Indians began raiding the farms, and were afraid that the little girl would testify against them. They decided to burn her at the stake, sending her out with the other children to gather sticks for the fire. Little Soldier’s wife, Needra, went with them, crowding the little girl close to the Weber River where she helped Roda make her escape. The girl found her way back to the Barker home. The next day, the whole tribe came for Roda. Frederick Barker, Ann’s husband, tried to reason with them but the Indians were very angry at her escape and determined to kill her. All at once (Frederick) began talking in their language. They got so still you could hear a pin drop. He yanked Little Soldier’s gun away from him and pointed North, East, South and West. He talked a long time and when he was done every Indian jumped from their horse and shook hands with him and said, >He no talk, Great Spirit talk, Great Spirit heep mad if we hurt squaw. Then they left (Jane Barker Durfee).