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Another Story of Peter Shirts by Mary E. Adams

Peter Shirts [Shurtz] Mary E. Adams MS 5312 Item 2 Peter Shirts was born 28 August 1808, at St. Clair, Columbiana, Ohio. Son of Michael Shirts and Elizabeth Shirts [Vanderbeek]. His father was a Revolutionary Soldier and they are descendent from the German Emigrants of 1709 to New York and New Jersey. Peter Shirts married Margaret Cameron, born 20 November 1808 at St. Clair, Columbiana, Ohio. They were married 8 September 1831, and on the 15 August 1833, they were both baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Two children were born in St. Clair, George Washington Shirts, in 1832. King Darius Shirts, in 1833. At this time the family moves to Kirtland, Geauga, Ohio. Where the third and fourth children were born, Moroni born in 1834 and Don Carlos was born in 1836 - he was also named and blessed by Joseph Smith. While here in Kirtland, Peter was very closley associated with the leaders of the Church. Peter received a blessing , among others, for help building the Kirtland Temple. He was also one of the signers of 1835, Kirtland Saftey Bank. In 1838 Sariah Jane was born in Missouri. Peter, wife and family leave here and are next in Nauvoo. Here he helps build the Nauvoo Temple and in 1843 Sarah Ann was born, but she dies in 1844 at Nauvoo. Peter and wife were endowed and sealed in the Nauvoo temple 1846. Elder Shirts baptized converts in the Mississippi river. He was an officer in the Nauvoo Legion. Also Captian of a Company of fishermen, that was organized to help feed the Saints. In 1846 Peter and Margaret have their endowments and are sealed. they both receive Patriarchal blessings. Here they are also baptized for their parents and some other relatives. On their way to the west they stop in Pottawattamie Co. Iowa. Here another baby is born to Margaret named Ann Elizabeth in 1848. While here he and others of the Church petition the government for a Post Office, and he builds a meeting house for the Saints. It was called "Shirts Branch". Thomas Smith was President and Peter Shirts was Councillor. Then Brigham young tells the Saints in Iowa to come on to Utah. On the way Margaret, his wife dies, and is buried on the banks of the Platte River. She had not been strong since her last baby was born. To make the coffin they took the top bed off the wagon box. Wrapping her ina sheet she was laid away.The children felt so unhappy having to leave their mother this way. It is recorded that Peter and family landed in Salt Lake in the fall of 1850. He is called with others under the direction of George A. Smith to go settle Parowan. They leave Salt Lake in December 1850, and arrived in Parowan 13 January 1851. Peter and children are mentioned in the 1851 census. While here he is constantly called with others to survey the land and explore. Peter is known as the "Regular Daniel Boone of Deseret". A regular scout in locating places for settlements where grain and vegtables can be grown. Also he climbed heights never before trodden by man in search of timber to build homes. He is called to explore and he reports seeing high mountains, cedars, aspen poles, and the little Salt Lake. He also belonged to the Nauvoo Legion in Iron Co. participating in their mock battles etc. In the fall of 1851, Captain Shirts and company go to Salt Lake for conference. And while there he is married to Belana Pulsipher. Brigham Young had councelled him to get another wife and he did need a mother for his children. Sariah Jane had to mother her baby sister Ann Elizabeth accross the plains and later. In 1852 Captain Shirts and company explored Coal Crek, 20 miles below Parowan. He reports finding coal and asks Brigham Young for permission to have the privilege to settle there. "You shall have it ", was his willing reply. There he builds a fort called "Shirts Fort", just below Shirts Creek. Here he lived with his family, and manufactured salt for the benefit of this growing sothern settlement. In June 1852 he is called to explore the upper Sevier and is reported to have located the Glenwood Springs. Also this year it is reported that he grew 65 bushels of grain to the acre at Cedar Valley. Some of the people said they could not grow much grain and wanted to move away . In 1852 he in company with John D. Lee, explores the Rio Virgin for settlement. In 1852 Fort Harmony is built, Peter Shirts and family are living at this place. While there two children are born , a girl Elsie and a boy Peter Jr. Elsie being born in 1853, and Peter Jr. in 1856. In 1854 he is on another exploration. During his stay in Parowan he errected a grist mill and is chosen a road commission to make a road, known later as Peter's Leap. [According to Bro. James Jeppson of Hurricane. The county ran out of money and so could not continue the project. ] In 1855 Peter in company with Rufus Allen surveys Las Vegas [Las Vegas Mission] with out instruments. And in 1856 he was a member of a party called by the Church to explore the Colorado River. Peter was a great friend of the Indians and had a great influence over them for good, being one of the Lamanite missionaries in Southern Utah. He was called upon many times to subdue troubles and quell disturbances among them. And also having studied medicine in his younger days, he could cure them of their ills where their own medicine men could not. After Fort Harmony is abandoned there is a movement to settle other places. In 1860 Peter is called to settle Midway, with others and built the first grist mill in that valley. And he lives there three or four years, then returned to Iron Co. In 1863 Peter and others are working at the Iron foundry 23 miles southeast of Cedar. [He had discovered the Iron Mountain] In 1865-66 Peter went out to the Paria where he is marooned all winter with his family . Because the Indians had stolen all his cattle. Capt. Andrus and militia goes out there in the spring to rescue the family. On their return Peter reports to Erastus Snow. Peter made his home wioth his son Don Carlos in Escalante, in his later years and was well acquainted with that territory. He would go off on his own exploring new country. In 1877 he built a little cabin, where the Montezuma Creek emptied into the San Juan river. Here he lived with his donkey and his boats. And while here, in 1879 the scouts ant the "Hole in the Rock", came across him in the hills and he sold them flour. He was the first white man to settle in San Juan. The colonization of Utah is about at an end at this period of time. Brigham Young having died in 1877. Peter Shirts was a Lamanite Missionary, Colonizer, and Frontiersman for the Church, and understood the Indians very well. His sons were also good interpreters. He died about 1880, having died out in the hills. And the two men who found him in August of that year, said they were bringing his body home. But the weather was very hot, and so it is rumored he is buried on the Henry Mountains. He seemed to be making his way back to the Escalante country where some of his family were living at that time. Much more could be written about this frontiersman but I have endeavored to tell of him as it is recorded. Sources of information are nearly all from the Historians Office, Church Archives, and Ohio records, so all can be verified. He was a tall dark dignified looking gentleman, Intellegent, and had a burning testimony of the Gospel. Was true to his calling in life as a servent. " I'll go where you want me

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