Monday, 11 December 2017
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150 Year Drama
Written by Leona Larson   

A historical sketch of the ancestors of Leona May Darrington Larson compiled by her self in 1968.  This presentation was accompanied by a series of pictures and an audio tape.  The pictures and original text are now in the possession of John C. Larson.

 

 150 Year Drama of The Best Family Ever 

 

In my younger day and in the days of radio, each program had a “Theme Song” or some source of identification.  Since we could not see the characters, as you do today on television, programs had to appeal to our ears this was a daily program that came on the Radio (we’d call it a Soap Opera today).  Its source of identification was the music to which you have just listened.  The drama’s title was, “The Story of Mary Marlin.”  Well, folks, this is not the story of Mary Marlin, but the story of Leona May Darrington Larson.

 

The Spirit of Elijah has touched my soul and it is my desire to knit together all the families of my ancestry, unite them into one perfect whole and turn the hearts of the children to their father, and the hearts of the father to the children.

 

It all begins with a family.  A family that gives both roots and wings.  Roots that are firmly planted in the good soil of wholesome beliefs.  In the belief and the dignity of the individual.  Roots in clean, wholesome lives spent in the service of others and roots in all the worthwhile things that this world offers.  As for wings, I submit that only those with good, firm roots can know anything about wings or the soaring of spirits.  The peace and true happiness, as well as, security that comes form a good spiritual background.  My family provides roots to my faith and wings for my achievements.

 

It is my desire that through our drama and story everyone will learn the importance of each individual.  That you will feel of the deep, abiding peace that comes from having spiritual roots.  That our tomorrows will find us winging toward unimagined achievements and we of a royal birthright will become kings and queens in our Father’s kingdom.

 

My heritage goes back to the very beginning of the Church.  I am proud of my pioneer heritage.  I am proud of their record of service and sacrifice.

 

It is my hope and prayer that I may exemplify in my life the characteristics and attributes that made my pioneer forefathers great.

 

 Thomas Jenkins Family

 

I shall begin by telling about Grandpa Craner’s Mother’s family, the Thomas Jenkins family. This was the first group of our ancestors to come to America.  They were among the first people in England to be converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They sailed from Liverpool, England on the ship “North America” on Saturday, September 5, 1840.  This was the second group of immigrants to come to the United States from anywhere in the world.  There were 200 people on board the ship.

 

Brigham Young and Willard Richards, who were apostles at that time, and serving on missions in England, organized this company of saints.  William Clayton, the composer of the hymn, “Come, Come Ye Saints”, was also among this group of immigrants.

 

They had a very successful voyage and arrived in New York City on October 12, 1840.  From there they continued the journey to Buffalo, New Your.  There the company was divided.  Those people who did not have the finance to complete the journey to Nauvoo, Illinois joined the saints in Kirtland, Ohio.  “The Jenkins family went to Nauvoo and settled there. Thomas Jenkins and his son, Edward, who was Grandpa Craner’s Mother’s father, died and were buried in Nauvoo. Illinois.  The rest of the family left Nauvoo when the saints were driven out of there.  They came west and settled in Tooele, Utah.

 

 George Craner 

 

The first one of the Craner family to come to America was Grandpa Craner’s father, George Craner.  He was 22 years of age at the time.  He sailed on the ship “George W. Bourne” leaving Liverpool, England on January 22, 1851.  This ship had a very successful voyage across the ocean.  There was very little seasickness.  They landed at New Orleans, Louisiana on March 20, 1851.

 

The same ship that brought the passengers from Liverpool transported them up the Mississippi River to St. Louis, Missouri.  Like many others of the Saints, George found work at Kanesville, which later became known as Council Bluffs, Iowa.  Here he found work to earn money to purchase an outfit with which to cross the plains.

 

The saints, who had been expelled from Nauvoo, continued to gather to the valley in 1849, 1850, and 1851.  But a number of them who had settled temporarily in the Pottowatomie country, principally in and around Kanesville, now Council Bluffs, Iowa, were somewhat slow coming to the mountains that displeased Brigham Young and the authorities in the valley.  Consequently the First Presidency of the Church under the date of September 21, 1851, wrote a special epistle addressed to the saints in Pottowatomie of which the following is an extract:

 

We send unto you our beloved Brethren Ezra t. Benson and Jedidiah M. Grant for the special purpose of counseling and assisting you to come to this place.  We desire you to give heed to their counsel in all things, and come to this place with them next season and fail not!  Come all ye officers in the church, and all ye officers of the State and County.  There is no more time for the saints to hesitate which course they will pursue.  We have been calling to the Saints in Pottowatomie ever since we left them to come away. But there has continually been an opposing spirit, whispering as if it were saying, “Stay another year and get a better outfit".  Until many who had means to come with conveniently had nothing left to come with.  We say again, “Come Home!”  And if you can get one good wagon and team to five families and five teams to one hundred souls or no teams at all, more than cows and calves to your handcarts, you can come here with greater comfort and safety than the pioneers came here who had nothing to come to, while you will have everything.  Therefore, we say again, “Arise and come Home!”  We wish you to evacuate Pottowatomie and the States and next fall be with us, all ye saints of the Most High.  And it shall be well with you if ye shall keep all the commandments.

 

After receiving President Young’s order, the next season George Craner crossed the plains with the 18th company of Saints, with James C. Snow as Captain.  George had on personal property and arrived in Tooele with nothing.  Yet he became a leader, not only in the church, but also in business and civic affairs.  From the time George settled in Tooele, Utah, he worked and saved his money to send to England to bring his parents and four brothers and sisters to America.  With the help of the Church’s Perpetual Emigration Fund, they were able to come three years later.

 

George Benjamin Craner 

 

History of George Benjamin Craner, his wife, Elizabeth West, and their four children.

 

They sailed from Liverpool, England on February 22, 1854 on the ship “Windermere”.  There were 400 people on board.  This ship met with all kinds of problems.  First they had high winds, sail after sail was torn to shreds and they were still in the same latitude after a week’s time.  The smallpox broke out and many people died.  The ship caught fire.  Because they couldn’t progress in the high winds and was delayed, fresh water and food supply ran short, so these items were rationed to them.  They arrived at New Orleans on the 3rd of April 1854.

 

They went up the Mississippi river to St. Louis, Missouri by steamboat.  From St. Louis they left the Mississippi River and took the Missouri River to Kansas City, which was used as an outfitting place at that time.

 

It would be appropriate to mention about the inflation that hit the year 1854.  The year before, 1853, the fare from St. Louis to Kansas City was $1.00 per person.  Transportation of luggage cost 25 cents to 50 cents per 100 pounds.  Freight per wagon was $4.00 to $5.00 each.  But in 1854 passenger fare was $3.00 to $50. Each.  Luggage was $1.00 to $2.00 and up per 100 pounds.  Wagons were $10.00 to $15.00 each.  A yoke of oxen cost $75.00 to $110.00 cows cost %25.00 to $40.00 per head.  Wagons cost $67.00.  There were two factors that caused the increase.  1.  There was a drought that caused the water in the Missouri River to be so low it made navigation difficult.  2. The immense increase of immigration to California and other western parts.

 

Elizabeth West Craner 

 

There were a great number of deaths among the immigrants.  They died of cholera.  George Benjamin Craner, the father, being one of them.  He died and was buried in Kansas Cit.  The mother, Elizabeth West Craner, and the four children, continued on to Salt Lake City, and settled in Tooele, Utah.

 

John M. Wood 

 

That same year, 1834, Grandma Craner’s father, John Adams, came to America.  He came alone, leaving behind his mother, two brothers, and one sister.  His father died when John was very young.  At nine years of age, John started earning his own money.  He did not have any formal education because his mother could not afford to send him to school.  He worked as a farmer’s servant.  This was how he earned the money to come to America.  He was 24 years of age at that time.  John Adams sailed from Liverpool, England March 12, 1834 on the ship “John M. Wood”.  The vessel encountered adverse winds in the Irish Channel, the first week but after that all went well.  There were 397 people on board the ship.  There was a lively spirit among them.  They held meetings every night in the Church Branches and interesting lectures were given by the leaders.  Great love and brotherly kindness was exhibited by all.  At one of their joint meetings of all the Branches on board, they agreed to all share and support one another so that no one would not be able to complete the trip to Salt Lake “City because of lack of food, finance, or supplies.  Because of this feeling of love and unselfishness. The spirit of the Lord was very close to them.  Although other companies had suffered from much sickness and hardship, especially with the inflated prices, this group was well preserved.  They had very little sickness.  And the increased river voyage costs was shared by all so that everyone completed the voyage.  Not only that, passengers that were left behind from the ship, Windermere, because of sickness or finance, were helped on their way by this company of Saints.

 

John Adams arrived in Salt Lake City on September 29, 1834.  From there, he too settled in Tooele, Utah.

 

Mary Price Howells 

 

Grandma Craner’s mother, Mary Price Howells, came to America on the ship “George Washington”.  It sailed on the 28th of March 1857 with 817 passengers on board. The ship had an unusually speedy and successful voyage and reached Boston, Massachusetts in 23 sailing days from Liverpool.  The captain of the ship commented, “On no previous voyages have my passengers conducted themselves so orderly and peaceably”.  He praised their cleanliness, morality, and good behavior.  From Boston, those who could afford it boarded the train and traveled westward via Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Toledo, Chicago, Rock Island and Iowa City where they arrived on the 30th of April 1857.  Here the camped until the latter part of May.  Mary Price Howells crossed the plains with the Israel Evans handcart Company.  The company numbered 149 people, 80 of whom were women.  The trek was very hard for Mary.  She was so small in stature and the handcart was so hard to pull.  Many times it was thought that she would collapse and die on the trail.  But after she was administered to by the Priesthood, she would receive the added strength necessary to continue on.  They arrived in Salt Lake City September 12, 1857.  From there she too settled in Tooele, Utah.

 

George Craner married Sarah Emma Jenkins the 1st day of January 1857.  To this union, Grandpa George Craner was born on the 27th of October 1857.

 

John Adams married Mary Price Howells on the 14th of September 1857.  To this couple, Grandma Mary Caroline Adams Craner was born on the 10 of October 1860.

 

Grandpa and Grandma Craner were married on the 23rd October 1879.  At this time, Oakley, Idaho, was located in the Tooele, Utah Stake.   This seems almost impossible today.  But if we look at the map we will find that if we stay on the west side of the Great Salt Lake, the distance is not too far.  At that time, no cities had been established and no roads or highways had been built.  All of the country looked the same.  Brigham Young our great leader, prophet, and colonizer, established with the Saints, towns and cities of the West.  He advised that young people of Tooele move to Oakley and establish a settlement there.  Later they found that traveling conditions on the west side of the lake was very difficult.  The soil was soft and the wagons would bog down in the mire.  Perhaps that is the reason that today there are still no main roads for travel on that side of the lake.

 

 Emma Craner 

 

Never the less, Grandpa and Grandma Craner being a newly married couple and always obedient to the counsel of the church leaders, in 1881 settled in Oakley, Cassia County, Idaho.  It was there on the 6th of April 1885 that my mother. Emma Craner Darrington was born.

 

John Darrington 

 

My Father’s Father, John Darrington was born at Eynsberg, Huningtonshire, England on the 31st of May 1830.  While a small boy he sold papers, worked in a shoe ship, and as a farm hand to an English Land Lord.  When John was 15 years old, he came to America in company of the Jimmy Chandler family who were members of the church, although John never joined until years later.

 

He sailed from London, England on the ship “Caroline” on the 5th of May 1866.  John worked as a laborer on the ship to help pay for his transportation.  He had passage down in the storage of the vessel, which was the same deck as the cattle and animals.  When they were out on the ocean a few days, a storm came up and the water was very rough.  Nearly all of the 389 passengers on board got seasick and remained so most of the way across the ocean.  The windstorm was so fierce that it was difficult to make progress on their voyage.  They were so long on the ocean that their supply of food and water ran low.  All people on board were placed on rations.

 

After 9 weeks they landed at the New York Harbor.

 

They remained in New York City a few days until transportation was secured on the railroad to Council Bluffs, Iowa.  John secured a job as a teamster and crossed the plains in the Horton D. Haight Company.  He drove two yokes of oxen and took care of them on the journey to the Salt Lake Valley. 

 

This was a freight company.  The brought the wire to the West that established the telegraph system.  Shortly after arrive in Salt Lake City; john went to Willard, Utah to live.  He grew to manhood working and living with different settlers in the Willard area.

 

Grandpa John Darrington helped build the transcontinental railroad.  He was there when the Golden Spike was driven that connected the two railroads together that completed the track for coast to coast.

 

While working on the railroad John boarded at the John and Mary Lowe home.  They had a daughter named Sarah Jane.  John and Sarah Jane kept company and courted against her family’s wishes.  There were many reasons for their non-approval.  (1) John was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (2) He was 9 years her senior. (3) He was alone in the world and a poor man.  Nevertheless, John and Sarah Jane were married in October 1879.

 

Peter Clark Darrington 

 

At the same time President Brigham Young was encouraging the young married couples of Tooele to settle in Oakley, he was also encouraging the young couple of Willard, Utah to settle at Elba, Idaho.

 

John came to Elba and built a one room, log cabin then he returned to Willard for his bride.  When Sarah walked into her little home, a log cabin with a dirt floor, no windows, and the side of a wagon box for a door, she sat down and cried while John took his hat off and “thanked God”.  This was the first house he was ever in that he could call his own.

 

It was in this log cabin that my Father, Peter Clark Darrington was born on the 7th of March 1882.  In those days there were no public or state operated schools as we have today.  The schools were all sponsored by the church and were called academies.  The only academy of the area was located at Oakley.  So my Father had to go over the mountain and live at Oakley to obtain his education.  Both he and Mother attended the same school.

 

Father and Mother were married on the 9th of October 1907.  After their marriage new land was being opened up for farming on the Burley Irrigation Project.  So again, my pioneer ancestry continues for another generation.  Father and his two brothers, John and Fred, homesteaded their farms.  They worked together to clear the sagebrush and till the soil as well as build their homes.

 

My Father helped build the canals that water the Burley and Declo area.

 

My Mother was a very unselfish person.  She was constantly doing things for others.  It was real easy for her to become a mother.  All she had to do was add one letter to her life.  The letter “M”.  The letters O-T-H-E and R were already there.  Mother always kept a large, clean, apron handy and when anyone called for help, she would put on her apron and was ready in a minute’s notice.  She helped over 30 women bring their babies into this world.  There were no mortuaries or morticians in those days and so the families took care of their own dead.  The men would build wooden boxes and the women would cover them with cloth and other items to decorate the crude coffins.  Mother always assisted families when anyone died.

 

Mother was not only unselfish but she was industrious.  We always had home made bread.  The shelves of our fruit storage room were always full of home canned goodies.  We always had lots of chicken and eggs to eat.  She and Father used to cure our own pork meat.  Plus we always had lots of vegetables form the garden.

 

Would you like to take a walk with me down memory lane? 

 

Remember the ole church?  Remember how we used to crowd around the ole potbelly stove to keep warm, and remember how we used to divide the one room chapel with curtains to make classrooms?

 

Remember when we used to call Father “Papa”?  When and why did we quit?

 

Remember the Chevrolet touring cars?

 

Remember when we had the only telephone for several miles around?  Oh, those ole party lines!  It seemed that every time we wanted to call someone, the line was always busy.

 

Remember those backaches we had from picking potatoes?

Oh, yes! How could we forget?  Remember that Saturday night bath?  That was when it was a blessing to be the youngest in the family.  I always got to be first!  It took less water to bathe me.  As each member of the family took their turn, more water was added.  Mother and Father were always last.  They required lots of water.

 

Thanks for the memories!  Memories are a part of everyone’s life.  We live with memories; memories are for what was to what will be.  It is my hope that I have planted good seeds for memories of the future.

 

Ha my desire comes true?  Have you through our drama and story learned the importance of each individual?  Have you learned that regardless of how you spell it, everyone is important?

 

You of the future generations can mold your own personality.  You are the master of your own soul.  I hope you will carry on many of my family traditions, and that you will have the faith, the honesty, and the integrity of your great forebears.  I hope that by becoming better acquainted with your “Roots” you have found “Wings” to fly to great achievements.

 

I am proud of my pioneer ancestry.  They lived and died so that I might enjoy being a citizen of this great land of America, and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is my hope and desire to always honor this heritage.  That it may be said of me, “I am a worthy descendent of noble pioneers.”

 

The End

 
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