Price, John Evan - Biography

JOHN EVAN PRICE

John Evan Price, Samaria's first settler, was born March 3, 1817 in the Llandeilorfan Parish, Breconshire, Wales. He was a son of Evan Price and Esther Price who were cousins. His grandfathers were Roger Price and Reese Price and his grandmothers were Elizabeth Williams and Margaret Williams. He was one of a family of eight children: Evan, Esther, John Evan, Jeffery, Roderick, David, Isaac and Ann.

 

His entire life was devoted to religion. He belonged to the Methodist Church until he was twenty years of age. He then joined the Calvin Baptist. When he was thirty years of age, he heard the Mormon elders preaching and was convinced of the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and was baptized a member of that Church by John Griffiths.

 

Of his childhood, we know little, only that he worked hard and had little opportunity for schooling or pleasure. He was married to Ruth Williams, daughter of Daniel Williams and Ruth Jones, the last Friday in May, 1841. While living in the Aberdare area which was in the Merthyr Tydfil district, their first child was born, a daughter, on October 30, 1842. Their first son, Isaac, was born May 7, 1845 and died in 1846. Then they moved to Llanelly, Breconshire, where David was born. He died the same year.

For many years grandfather spent most of his time as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints moving from place to place preaching the Gospel and baptizing many.

During this time he and his family suffered many hardships and much persecution because of their religion. He labored as a lumberman, miner, and farmer. Because of religious persecution many times he was unable to obtain employment and his family suffered greatly. They sometimes lived for days on barley, bread, and water. One time he took his coat from his back to pay the rent. Another time, he paid his rent and his church obligations with a pig, the only meat his family had. During the winter they never tasted meat.

On April 16, 1848, Ruth was born, and on June 1, 1850, another daughter, Mary, was born. At this time Grandmother was confined to her bed for many months and Grandfather had to do all the house work and care for his wife and the new baby. No woman in the neighborhood would help them because of their religion, but through all of their hardships their faith never faltered. Though they lived in poverty, they answered every call of their church and shared of what they had, as did the poor widow in the Bible in the story of the widow's mite.

Two sons were born to them, Daniel, November 17, 1852, and John, January 18, 1855, who, as soon as they were big enough to help, worked with their father sawing timber for Mr. Powell, a big mine operator. They saved every shilling possible for passage to America.

Ann Maria was born June 14, 1859. It took many years to save enough money for all the family to come. In 1864, they sent Ruth, age 16, and Mary, age 14 to Salt Lake City, Utah at a cost of thirty pounds. The same year the oldest son Daniel broke his leg in the coal pit and for some time was unable to work. By May, 1865, the rest of the family were able to come to America and join the girls who had come the previous year.

The following excerpt is quoted from the dairy [sic] of John Price: "May, 1865, we left Liverpool, England on the ship Bridge Water. We were five weeks and two days sailing from Liverpool to New York. We went from there to Pittsburg with the Welsh and they found me work. We were here 11 months. I worked seven months and two weeks and in that time I gathered about fifty Mormons, and with the permission of President Miles of New York, I established a branch of the Church in Sawmill Run. About the first of July, I was counseled by President Miles, with forty-five others, to meet other emigrants at Detroit and go with them to Salt Lake City which counsel we obeyed.

On the 19th of July 1866 we left Wyoming, Nebraska, for the prairies with ox teams in Captain John D. Holladay's Company. On September 25th we reached Salt Lake City. The next morning President Young, with several others, visited us in the tithing office yard and shook hands with all of us and Bishop Hunter ordered food for the group. The people were very liberal toward us.

 

We left Salt Lake in a few days and went to Brigham City where my wife and myself were stricken with mountain fever and were sick for two months.

In February 1867, we moved from Brigham City to Malad and lived with our daughter, Ruth, who was married to Frederick Thomas.

Brother Peck gave me two lots on which to build a house. On February 10, 1868, 1 took up 160 acres of land eight miles west of Malad. I went with my sons and built a dugout on the claim. I sold my place in Malad for a wagon and yoke of oxen. On April 16, 1868, I moved my family here and we were the only white residents. The country was covered with sagebrush and inhabited only by the American Indians and the wild beasts.

In May, other noted pioneers came here to make their homes. They were James Thomas, Thomas R. Roberts, David W. Davis, Taliesin Hughes, and their families. They immediately began to build homes. Other pioneers followed. Grandfather dug what was known as a saw pit or hand sawmill. He and his sons sawed the lumber and logs that were used in many of the first homes. Grandfather would get in the pit and his sons on top and saw the logs that were laid across on other logs. It was Samaria's first sawmill.

Grandfather always delighted in being first in anything he did. When he went to church, he was generally the first one there. He always tried to be first in the canyon when logging, leaving home in the dark. People who remembered always related this as his main characteristic.

In the spring of 1869, a canal was surveyed and constructed and water brought in for irrigation after which a townsite was surveyed and laid out. Grandfather helped in both of these undertakings.

In 1869, a church house was erected of logs. Grandfather and his sons helped to get the logs and build the building which was used for church and school. The first trustees of the school were John E. Price, Thomas S. Thomas, and Richard Morse.

On July 12, 1869, Lorenzo Snow, then one of the members of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, visited the place and gave it the name of Samaria in memory of the Samaria of Biblical history. The people had become known as the good Samaritans because of their good will and kindness toward all that came in contact with them, including the Indians with whom they had many interesting experiences.

One time Grandfather had killed a calf. Some Indians came and wanted it. He offered them many other things, but they would not go until he gave them half of the calf. The settlers used to give them many animals and much food. They were kind to the Indians to avoid trouble.

The early pioneers walked to Logan, Malad, Brigham City, and even as far as Salt Lake City. One time when Grandfather was walking from Brigham City, darkness overtook him and he was attacked by wolves. There was a wagon load of cedar posts someone had left because of a broken wheel. He climbed on this load with the wolves jumping at him. He grabbed a post and fought off the wolves the entire night. When daylight came the wolves left. He was exhausted but gave thanks that his life was spared.

Grandmother died September 20, 1873 after a long illness of many years and was buried the next day.

Grandfather married Mary Deer Davis and to this union two daughters, Margaret Ann and Elizabeth Jane were born. He died June 25, 1876 at Samaria. It was said that he was truly a good Samaritan, a forceful speaker, a man of upright character. All the offices of trust he held with honesty and credit.

- Edith Price Evans, Granddaughter

 

Immigrants:

Price, John Evan

Williams, Ruth

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