by Wilma S. Smith and Randall A. Smith

The following selected excerpts from Winslow Farr Jr.'s diaries reflect the early pioneer life in the years 1856-1857 on the Big Cottonwood farms cultivated south of Salt Lake City, Territory Settlement.

[1856, August]

Monday 4 It is quite cloudy. R Covington cradled wheat for us and I bound after him. It sprinkled some a little through the day but did not rain much during the night.

Wednesday 6 Very warm indeed. I work for D Thomas at binding wheat. People are very busy harvesting. We are cutting ours with all of our might

[1856 September]

Saturday 6 In the fore part of the day went up to Br. Norwood to get my boots mended but did not get them done. It rained little in the morning. I work at hauling brush in the fore part of the day.

Sunday 7 I stayed to home today. My father is to let his farm to I and J White and F Knolls for the space of one year.

Tuesday 18 I commenced to make ado­bes. I finished Thursday, made 150.

Tuesday 22 Dug some in the ditch and husk corn in the evening. I was vaccinated for the small pox.

Monday 29 I was warned to train with the minute men but did not go on the account of fear of smallpox. Most of my neighbors are getting well of the smallpox.

[1856 November]

Monday 3 I started for the kanyon to log through Wednesday 5th. Got in enough logs to make 1200 feet.

Wednesday 19 Quit storming through the day. I work at putting over logs on the house.

Thursday 27 I started for Ogden city and on Friday 28 went to the theater.

[1856, December]

Monday 1 Quite stormy and cloudy. I was still in Ogden city. I visited different parts of the city. In time this city will be quite a place.

Tuesday 2 The clouds hung heavy and low around the mountains. At 8 o'clock in the morning I started for home in Big Cottonwood. I passed through the upper part of Bishop Kay's ward ... quite a hansome place. Farmington very pleasant place. It is situated close under the mountains. Very large school house erected on the Publik square. I put up at Cherrys Settlement, the distance of 28 miles from Ogden, which distanced I walked the following day. It was here I first heard the news of Brother Jedadiah M Grant death. Departed this world of trouble on Monday 1st of December 1856 after illness of three weeks.

Thursday 4 I attended the funeral of Brother Grant, the 2nd counselor of Brigham Young, The Governor of Utah Territory. All the band of music were there. Brother Heber and Brigham spoke well, and the funeral was at 12 to 2 in the afternoon.

Sunday 14 Quite pleasant through the day. A friend an me took our guns and went for a short walk and killed us a fine hare which made us a fine supper.

Wednesday 24 I felt quite well and made a willow basket. My father went up to the city and bought me a pair of buckskin pants.

Thursday 25 Christmas. It snowed all day. I went with father to Brother Tews to see about a steer of ours. In the evening I went up to Daniel Thomas's to spend the evening in learn­ing how to dance. No dancing going on now. It is time of reformation and is doing great deal of good for it is now time for the people to wake up on that subject.

[1857, February ]

Sunday 1 Went to meeting. Broth­er Kimball and Brigham the prophet preached. We had a good meeting.

Sunday 15 Quite pleasant over here. I went to meeting to the tabernacle and heard a speech from Arapene, the Chief of the Utah Indians, interpreted by Warren Snow. Brother Woodruff spoke to us. We had a good meeting.

[1857, March]

Thursday 12 I hunted cows - found them. Set stakes for brush fence. A band of Indians came here to farm and they wanted to learn to work. They also brought a line from Brigham Young to make them a farm.

Monday 23 It snowed a little Monday evening. Today I went to plow for the Indians. All hands turned out to plow. We put in seventeen acres of wheat. They seemed well pleased. Some of them know how to plow quite well. My father went to the city and brought the news that one of my brother's little girls was dead. She was taken sick Saturday 21 and died on Monday 23 (supposed to have brain fever by eating poison segeos through mistake). She was 8 years old and her name was Brianna Farr. Quite a sudden death.

[1857, July]

Saturday 8 Somewhat cloudy. Bound and cradled wheat. 7 of my ten minute men to train. Drilled some two hours.

Saturday 15 Quite warm. I went to train­ing (minute men). Give my name as a volunteer to go back on the road if called on and to be ready for a minute warning. I returned home about 2 o'clo a grave for George Scoles who died F ck pm. I went and helped dig Another young man and myself sat up all night with the corpse. riday.

(Winslow's diaries record the many days he worked on the Robert D. Covington farm. Winslow composed a poem during this period entitled "The Belle of Big Cottonwood." We surmise it may have been written about Emily Jane Covington. The young couple was married at Washington Settlement in the Utah Territory on October 17, 1858. Winslow was age 21, Emily Jane was 15.)




Where big cottonwood waters run murmuring by,

As cold as the snow on the mountains high,

In a little log hut where the summer flowers grew,

There dwells a sweet maiden with eyes of true blue.

Chorus : She was fair as the flowers,

Neath her footsteps that grew,

And she won many a heart,

With her eyes of true blue.

She was lively and gay as the mountain gazelle,

And her voice like the notes of soft music did swell,

As she sang neath the shade of the sweet Hawthorne tree,

And laughed with a heart full of mischief and glee.


She could walk like a matron or play like a child,

She was gentle and yet as a deer she was wild,

Her parents looked on her with joy and with pride,

And many a bright youth sought to make her his bride.


Hers was the bright spirit that hovered around,

Wherever the boys at their labor were found,

In the kanyons so wild or at work in the field,

The thoughts of her smile a sweet plea­sure did yield.


Winslow Farr Jr Diaries