Hyrum Bowles Morris Biography

[Original typed transcript in the files of Dayna Jacobs, 46461 Little Creek Ct., King City, CA  93930, Transcribed 1 Nov 2009.  It is not clear who the author of the original is.  Handwritten in the upper left corner is “Ivan,” which is Hyrum’s grandson, but it appears to be his copy, and not necessarily something written by him. The writing style and use of commas in the transcript is similar to the autobiography of Franklin T. Pomeroy, Hyrum’s son-in-law, so it might have been written by him.  Spelling has been corrected.]


HYRUM BOWLES MORRIS, Patriarch of the Maricopa Stake of Zion, was born on the 23rd day of December, 1821 in Bourbon County, Kentucky.  He was the son of Thomas Morris and Sophia Talbot, being third in a family of seven children. When about 4 years of age his parents moved to Illinois, then a frontier county, settling on a farm several miles from the town of Quincy.  Here he grew to manhood estate, laboring on his father’s farm, and having but little schooling.  He also learned the cooper trade, in which he became expert, especially in the construction of buckets and tubs, of which there was great demand.

In the spring of 1844, he made a trip to Nauvoo, and was introduced to the prophet Joseph Smith.  Shaking hands, the Prophet asked him if he were a Mormon.  “No Sir” was the reply, “But you will be,” said the Prophet, laying his hand on his shoulder. Mr. Morris declared he felt as though an electric shock had passed through him.

In 1849, when 27 years of age, the “California Gold Fever Wave” struck the community where he lived, and a party of 10 or 12 of the young  men, including Hyrum Bowles Morris, organized and equipped themselves for  a trip across the plains to the “Gold diggings.”  The company followed route of the original pioneers, passing through northern Utah, and pitched their camp on the Humboldt River, where they did their first placer mining.  From a small crevice, Hyrum B. Morris recovered over $500.00 in god.  They remained here about one week, and then followed the “lure of the gold” into the more renowned gold fields of California.

He placer mined on American river, and the Sacramento River and their tributaries, for about 2 years, accumulating several thousands of dollars in gold dust panned by his own hands.  These were rough days, among rough men, often testing the metal in men.  One occasion illustrates the character of Hyrum B. Morris. A young college tenderfoot arrived in camp named Jeff Netherton, and partly by his superior air, became the butt of the camp whose jibes became more and more violent, until one evening a mob determined on a more serious line of manhandling, to begin with “ding-dongbunting” the young man.  Hyrum B. Morris decided it had gone far enough and stepped between the man and the crowd, and protested. “What have you to do with it?” asked they.  “Everything,” said he and stripped his coat, and telling the young man to “stay behind” him, he prepared to defend him with all the strength of his splendid young manhood.  They saw he meant business, and finally wiser counsel prevailed and the young man escaped, but never forgot the courage and bravery of the young man who saved him from the brutality of the mob.

He returned to the states via Panama, crossing the Isthmus on a Burro Train.  He carried his gold dust in canvas bags, stored away in an old fashioned carpet bag which he never allowed out of his sight.  There was for in his party and they only had one coat, which was worn in turns as the table rule required this.  On reaching port in New York City, they were surrounded by cab men who recognizing them as miners from California, determined to get them and their “swag.”  Whereupon Hyrum pulled an old revolver and waving them aside led his friends through these thugs to safety.  He proceeded to his home at Quincy, Illinois, and on the 8th day of August 1852 married Eleanor Crawford Roberts, the daughter of Adonijah Roberts and Elizabeth Crawford, purchasing all their household and kitchen furniture and supplies for starting housekeeping with “gold weighed out in the dust.”

In the fall of 1859, his wife, Eleanor had been converted to the Mormon faith, and was baptized into the church.  But he had become somewhat prejudiced, owing to the treatment accorded one of his sisters by a Mormon, who had married her and had run off and left her.

In the spring of 1860, they started west, in Capt. Wallings company.  His intention was to go on to California, but his wife’s continual prayer was that they would get no farther than Salt Lake City, Utah.  Arriving there August 1860, they had to lay over as were out of supplies, and he went to work immediately for Bishop Archibald Gardner, whom his wife begged to use all his power to persuade her husband to go no farther, which he did to such good purpose that in October 1861, Hyrum Bowles Morris was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and had no desire to continue his journey.

They now had one child Laura Elizabeth, who was born April 20th 1854 near Quincy Illinois. Having lost one child William Edwin, who was born Aug. 18th 1857 and had died on the plains May 29th 1860.

In March 1862, he was ordained an Elder by Dr. Sprague, and in the fall of 1862 they migrated to southern Utah, settling at Rockville, Kane County, in the St. George Stake, where the following Feb. 14th Hyrum Bowles Morris Jr. was born.  He was ordained a High Priest in 1864, Elder Edward Buzett being mouth.  He owned and operated in Rockville two small farms one near Rockville and one near Springdale, also a fruit orchard in Rockville.  He also engaged in the Cooper Trade, supplying the community with much-needed buckets, tubs and barrels.  For 12 years he was scout master in the Indian troubles that periodically broke out in southern Utah.  He had many escapes, and trying experiences.  At one time he went out on a scouting expedition with his men, expecting to be back inside of 24 hours, but his party was led into a trap by the wily savages, and surrounded in a box canyon, and while they were able to fight off the Indians, they were hemmed in for 10 days and only released by soldiers when about starved out.

Eleanor Rebecca was born to their union, May 14th 1866 and Eliza Roberts on the 10th of April 1870, and Sophia Isadora on the 10th of April 1873.

Not being satisfied with their hemmed in condition at Rockville, in the spring of 1882 in company with George Staples, and Frank Rappleye, his son-in-law, he made a trip to Mesa, Arizona, and liked the country so well that he purchased a farm.  Returning to Utah as soon as possible he disposed of his property there and in January 1883 started with his family for his new home.  He had an outfit of 4 wagons, 5 teams, 25 head of loose horses and 50 head of cattle.  He was accompanied by William Brundage and family, William B. Lang and family, Paul Huber and family, Chas. Slaughter and son, Hyrum Smith, Joseph Hearshy, and James Wilkins.

At St. George the company was organized by Apostle Erastus Snow, with Hyrum Bowles Morris as captain of the company and William G. Brundage as chaplain.  He promised them if they would sing a hymn and have prayers every evening, and be faithful they would reach their destination in safety, which was fulfilled.  They arrived in Mesa, March 3, 1883.  He purchased property in Mesa City, on which he built his home and farmed his land located to the southwest of Mesa. He also did some freighting and fitting up of an outfit for selling produce in the mining camps surrounding.

He was set apart as Patriarch in the Maricopa Stake in 1907 by John Henery Smith, and took great pleasure in blessing the people.

In Oct. 1907 he contact gangrene in his left foot, and to prevent death as a result, after due counsel and deliberation, it was decided to amputate his limb.  Although he was 86 years of age, it was thought that owing to clean life he had led, being a strict observer of the Word of Wisdom, and in perfect health, that he could stand the operation.  The operation was successful.  The wound healed nicely—but the shock was more than his nerves could stand, and after much suffering he passed away Jan. 21, 1908, aged 86 years and 29 days.  He had the love and respect of all who knew him and died a faithful Latter Day Saint.

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