The life of Francis Martin Pomeroy was
full of action and adventure. He traveled much on sea and land
in the days of the sailing vessel and the covered wagon, sometimes
drawn by oxen over perilous mountain ranges, snow-covered and
frozen trails or rugged plains and deserts where water could
scarcely be found.
Francis was a kind, genial man, peace-loving and generous by nature, yet he was a strong, rugged pioneer with bounteous energy. He was born of goodly parents, Martin and Sybil Hunt Pomeroy, on the 22nd day of February, 1822, in Somers, Connecticut, on a farm where his ancestors had lived for several generations. He was the third child in a family of ten children.
At fourteen years of age he was a husky, broad-shouldered, oversized lad, keen of eye, clear-minded, eager and ambitious. Because of the farm being small and the family large, he was apprenticed to his uncle, Oziah Pomeroy. The uncle was austere and hard on the boy, driving him to the limit of his strength, and allowing no recreation.
At one time a circus was coming to town. In order to be permitted to go, Francis was required to memorize a "blue-backed spelling book." This he did, much to the surprise of his uncle.
Francis remained with his uncle for two years and then decided to leave his employment and "go out on his own." He visited with his parents and family and silently bid them goodbye. with his belongings tied Benjamin-Franklin-like in a red bandana handkerchief, he made his way to the south of New London on the southern seacoast of Connecticut. He signed up for a two-year voyage on a three-masted whaling ship, which circumnavigated the Atlantic and Pacific through the great whaling areas.
He soon learned that his uncle's austerity was child's play compared to the pressure and brutality of the captain and mates of the whaler, who drove the new crew members in their training in efficiency with curses and blows, the "rope's end" and marling spike. The crews were made up mostly of the tough "scum of the earth and ne'er do wells" who were husky and tough but seldom served more than one voyage.
When Francis discovered what he had gotten into, he was determined to master the technique of whaling and gave himself, heart and soul, to its mastery. Only sixteen, but clear-eyed and level-headed, with a strong constitution, he scrubbed the deck, rang the rigging, shifted the sails, took his place at the masthead "lookout," mastered swimming and rowing, trained as "boat-stearer" hurling harpoon into the blubber of the whale, tying the 90 foot, 50 ton weight monster of the deep to the boat by a towline. He even drove the thrusting lance into the heart of the whale, the most dangerous period of his capture, for in mighty floundering and death struggle, many a a crew is destroyed by his mighty flukes of tail; sometimes throwing the boat and crew into the air and dropping them into the maelstrom of heaving sea.
He was made of sterner stuff and signed up for three other voyages. He became third mate of the second and second mate of the third. He was in line for first mate on the fourth when the whaler was struck by a terrific storm off the coast of Peru. On the "bridge" at the time, he was swept into the raging sea just before the stricken ship was sunk. By swimming and treading water with the aid of a spar under his arm, he was carried high up on the sand. By this time he was wrapped in seaweed and unconscious, the only survivor of the ship.
The next morning he was picked up by a Castilian youth and carried to his home where he was nursed back to life and health. He remained with them about two years, paying them for his care through service. While there, he learned to speak the pure Castilian language.
Francis made his way by boat to Panama, crossed the Isthmus on a burro and then sailed to New Orleans and then to Salem, Massachusetts where he met Ashbel Green Haskell. He rode with him to New Salem, about sixty miles from where Francis was born. Francis was employed by Mr. Haskell at his saw mill, met and fell in love with his daughter, Irene, who, two years before, with her mother, had accepted the newly-restored gospel. Determined to investigate it and save them from it, if he found Joseph Smith to be an impostor, Francis began to study the Bible and especially the Book of Mormon. The more he studied, the more he was convinced it was the true Church of Christ. A few months later he attended a conference at Petersboro, New Hampshire, with the Haskells, and heard the inspired preaching of Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, and other elders. He was really converted and at the conclusion of the conference (July 1844) was baptized by Brigham Young and ordained an Elder in the Church. He was also married at the time to Irene Ursula Haskell.
Had he not run away from home, he probably would not have heard and accepted the Restored Gospel, as none of this family, who remained, did. He had circumnavigated the world three times, was ship-wrecked and compelled to return by destiny just in time to hear the Gospel, be ordained an Elder and marry a Mormon girl. He thus became the Heir of the Pomeroy family.
Not many months after "the spirit of the gathering" came upon them, they migrated to Nauvoo. Francis and his wife traveled by team and light spring wagon, going by way of Somers, Connecticut, visiting and preaching the restored gospel to his parents and family. They arrived at Nauvoo two days before the arrival of Irene's mother, brother and company. they were greeted warmly by Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, Heber C. Kimball, and leading members of the Church. Francis and Irene had their patriarchal blessings on 2 June 1845 and went through the Nauvoo Temple on the 6th day of February, 1846, two days before it was closed. Their first child, Francelle, was born on 21 September, 1845.
Wicked mobs were burning, pillaging and murdering the Saints at Nauvoo. They had to flee for their lives, leaving their fine homes, new Temple, and all of their possessions. There was no recourse to law. The Governor had issued an order to one of his generals that all leaders of the Mormon Church be executed.
These were trying times for the Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith had been killed. At a big assembly the Lord made it known to the Saints that Brigham Young was to be their new leader. As he arose to speak, after the contenders for the position had finished talking, the "mantle of Joseph Smith" fell upon him, his whole appearance, even his voice, was that of the Prophet. This convinced the Saints--they knew Brigham Young should lead them. the Lord also made it known that the Saints must move on West to the mountains. Brigham Young became one of the greatest colonizers in History. He was chosen of the Lord and the true Saints were ready to follow him.
Francis Martin Pomeroy was chosen by Brigham Young to be a member of the Pioneer Company. He was a strong man of tireless energy. He was an excellent swimmer and oarsman. He knew a smattering of many languages and could speak Spanish fluently. Brigham Young knew he would be a great help in getting others over rough trails and turbulent waters, so among the 143 men to lead the way, he chose Francis to leave with the first group. he became one of the official ferrymen of the company in crossing the wagons over the many streams and especially the Platte River, by which the Pioneers traveled for 400 miles. At Mormon Crossing where the Platte was a mile wide for a month during the rainy season, Brigham Young and the ferrymen built two large rafts out of big scalloped cottonwood logs 20 feet long, cross-covered with heavy plank, and ferried the Pioneer Companies across. Brigham Young left nine men, Francis Martin Pomeroy among them, to ferry the companies of the Saints across as they arrived. They ferried as well 4,000 wagons of Missourians en route to Oregon and California, and received $2.50 per wagon, which was for the most part paid in flour at $2.50 per hundred. A veritable "harvest on the desert" which was distributed among the companies of Saints en route to "Zion of the West."
While at these rivers, although rafts were used to transport wagons and people, Francis had to stand waist deep in the icy water. this and other exposures caused him to have a severe attack of rheumatism.
He remained here for a little over a month and when the river ran down to normal size after the rainy season had passed, he returned to meet the A.O. Smoot and George B. Wallace Co. with whom his family was traveling. He accompanied them on the journey westward. Francis was not able to get in and out of the wagon without help as the rheumatism was almost unbearable. For the remained of his life chronic rheumatism gave him much distress.
When the company reached Pacific Springs, they found the four companies who had preceded them, camped in the beautifully wooded and grassy valley. They were resting and shoeing their teams and going over their wagons for the final dash for the Salt Lake Valley.
Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and 75 of the original pioneers had arrived on horseback, returning to Winter Quarters. They remained together and held a two-day conference. They wound up with a big banquet where the best linen and food in camp was on display and where ice cream dessert was served. It was frozen from snow carried form the mountains in gunny sacks, which with salt grass from a slew, was placed in tubs and buckets with the ice cream moisture and turned round and round in it. The first ice cream was made and served. Little Francelle Eugenia Pomeroy had her first ice cream.
President Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball publicly thanked and congratulated Francis Martin Pomeroy and his associates for their service of ferrying the Saints at Mormon Crossing and other places en route west. They called down the blessings of Almighty God upon him and them for their splendid service. Their company reached the Salt Lake Valley September 26, 1847.
Francis first settled in a log cabin south of the Old Fort and farmed in Big Cottonwood Canyon. They moved to the Third Ward. After a mission to California in 1851, they moved to the Weber Valley.
On the 20th day of October, 1853, he entered the Patriarchal Order of marriage with Sarah Matilda Colburn, daughter of Thomas Colburn and Sarah Bowers, in the Endowment House, with President Brigham Young officiating. On the 22nd day of February, 1857, he married Jessamine Elizabeth Routledge, an English girl who had crossed the plains in a handcart company. They also were married in the Endowment House with President Brigham Young officiating.
While living in Salt Lake City, Francis acted as Spanish interpreter for Governor Brigham Young. When a delegation was sent from Mexico City by President Benito Juarez to confer with Brigham Young, he not only acted as interpreter, but housed the delegation while they were in Salt Lake City.
In the early troubles and trials of the Saints in Utah he endured with them their hardships, including fighting and making treaties with the Indians. In the summer of 1858, when Johnston's Army threatened the people of Utah with destruction, he participated in the move south, willing to sacrifice the results of his long years of toil to the flames rather than have them fall into the hands of the enemy.
He encamped his now large family on Provo bottoms, and then left them to join the company of brave men who prepared to meet Johnston's army in Echo Canyon. From the description of the reception prepared for the army there, it was well for the army that it did not attempt its passage, but decided to go around by Fort Hall. Great was the relief of all when word was received from President Young that their sacrifice had been accepted of the Lord, that he had prepared a mediator in the person of Thomas L. Kane, who had hastened to Utah via California and had found no cause for the Federal Invasion. After some negotiations the Saints were ordered back to their homes, and July found the family back in Salt Lake City.
On the 15th day of June, 1860 his first wife, Irene, died, leaving seven children.
Francis was now prospering. He had been very industrious. he owned his home in Salt Lake and a farm out in the country.
In 1864 he was called by Apostle Charles C. Rich to colonize southern Idaho. He settled in Paris, and as a partner to Charles C. Rich, built the first grist mill, saw mill, shingle and lath mill in Idaho.
In summer Bear Lake was a place of beauty. Jim Bridger reported to Brigham Young thus: "Excellent water, sufficient timber, extensive good soil for growing grains and grasses, and even natural grasses for cattle." The beautiful lake was full of fish and surrounded by pine forest. Its waters constantly rippled so there were no mosquitoes. The altitude was high, winters came early, snow piled high and it was bitter cold in the winter.
There were hardships and lots of hard labor required to clear lands, build homes and start a new community with roads, schools, churches, etc. the first homes were log houses cut from forests; they were one room with fireplace and openings for a door and window. Dirt roofs were used until they could be replaced with shingles. Francis built his homes on Canyon Street, a good location and near to his friends, the Charles C. Rich families.
All men were assigned different special duties and all worked helping one another. they planted grains, gardens, fruits and trees. They brought in cattle, planted feed for them, stored food for themselves and feed for their cattle for use in winter. They built roads, fences, and did many other things.
Bishop Robert Williams called for religious services to be held in the nicest homes in the colony. This they did until a big "Meeting House" was built.
In May of 1864, Brigham Young, with a large group of church dignitaries, arrived to greet and look over Bear Lake. They had some difficulty in getting through the mud, as rains had been falling incessantly. A lot of merriment was caused as George A. Smith (a very heavy man) required a lot of extra help to get him through the mud and over the high mountains.
Brigham Young gave encouragement to the Saints thus: "I find this place a very pleasant valley--a fine place to settle--raise grain, build homes, and make farms and set out orchards and raise all the necessities of life to make ourselves happy here as well as any other place."
"Elder Charles C. Rich, one of the twelve apostles, has been appointed to dictate to the settlement of this valley. We wish the brethren to abide by his council"...."commence at home to cultivate your minds and govern your actions, build up the Kingdom of God--self culture should be strenuously tended to here as in other place"...Be sure to say your prayers morning and evening...Make your homes nice with foliage, do not let the children go away from the settlement to herd cattle, send them to school, and above all, teach them to remember God must be in all our thoughts. Build close together so that if Indians attack one scream will arouse a whole block." These and many other councils were given--they were greatly needed and gratefully received.
Wonderful times were enjoyed by young and old. A Fourth of July Celebration was long remembered. Many dances were held, these were considered "helpful to both mind and body." A choir was formed. There was boating on the lake, swimming, fishing, hunting, and picnicking. Berries and choke cherries were especially lovely some years and they made such good preserves, jelly and jam.
The Indians were bothersome, although a truce had been made with them. The old Chief said: "Indians like white man, some good, some bad." He could not be responsible if some bad Indian would do wrong. A close watch was necessary so Saints were advised to build high fences around their homes for safety.
Winters were bad, sometimes rations were low. Little by little the community was able to advance and overcome the obstacles. The families were good, seasoned pioneers who could take hardships. They had a great purpose and determination.
After 13 1/2 years in Bear Lake, the old rheumatism seemed to worsen; the cold weather was very hard on Francis. One day he received a letter from a friend, Henry Rogers, describing the wonders of Arizona with its warm climate and sunshine. Then came a call from Brigham Young to make another move, this time to Arizona.
Francis considered this well and talked it over with his family and friends. It seemed the answer to his problem. George W. Sirrine, Parley Sirrine and Theodore Sirrine thought it good and agreed to go with him. By September 14, 1877, plans were completed to move to Arizona. The company would be small at first, but they knew that others would join them as they went through Utah. Final communications were received from the Headquarters of the church and they were ready to go. The Crismon families joined them as they Utah, also Charles I. Robson and William Newell who had married Francelle and Irene Pomeroy. There were several others, (some single men) in all 83 adults and 56 children.
They were a happy group, full of hope and adventure. Zetta Pomeroy (daughter of Jessamine) wrote: "We had the most wonderful time, especially around the camp fires at night with our friends and relatives. When we reached the desert, it was so warm, we loved every bit of it!"
Nevertheless, it was a long, tiresome and hazardous journey, nearly five months. There were times of great anxiety when trying to find water and feed before they could make camp. There were steep, narrow trails over mountains, sometimes slippery from rain or snow. Lee's Ferry, on the Colorado River, was a treacherous crossing. At Lee's Backbone the mountain descent was so steep they turned the wagons and teams around and came down backwards. Long ropes were used to hold the wagons in check until they reached safety at the bottom. The company had good outfits, and they were taking a lot of cattle; everyone knew that this was their all. If a cow was lost or died, or a wagon or even some of their goods were destroyed, it would be a serious loss. yet, they did not hesitate to make the dangerous journey of over 1,000 miles.
On Christmas Eve, 1877, they were in Arizona at Pine Springs near Mormon Lake. Here there was heavy snow. Next morning they went on to Beaver Head about fifteen miles above Camp Verde. Here they remained to get a much needed rest while Francis M. Pomeroy, Charles I. Robson, George W. Sirrine, and Charles Crismon made a trip to the Salt River Valley, to select a location for their new home.
In the Salt River Valley they found a number of canals projected and underway, and some farming. The City of Phoenix had a population of about 400. They journeyed up the river from Phoenix to Hayden's Ferry, where a water power grist mill and store were operated by Charles T. Hayden, who after became a benefactor to the struggling colonists. Seven miles farther up the river they visited the Indian Mission established by Daniel W. Jones and Henry C. Rogers and others living in the United Order.
They failed to make satisfactory arrangements to settle under the ditch which was underway by this colony. While riding over the high lands called "The Mesa" they discovered an old ancient canal called the "Montezuma" canal which had been constructed by the ancients to irrigate the broad level lands of the "Mesa." They determined to use this canal and locate on the Mesa.
They viewed the network of a prehistoric water system and marveled. Could they bring the water upon the high land as those ancient ones had done and use their old canals by digging them out? They consulted Williams Hancock, the U.S. Government surveyor, who told them that it would be impossible to get the water to the new land. Not willing to give up, Francis Pomeroy and George Sirrine, with a spirit level and a borrowed straight edge, spent long hours along the stream until they located where they thought the canal head would work. They marked the place and went back to Mr. Hancock who came back. He found that the men were right and they had been very accurate in their survey. Very pleased with what they had found, the men went back to Beaver Head and brought their families, arriving February 14, 1878. There was much rejoicing when the two groups met, all were happy to meet old friends again and to make new ones.
The families pitched their tents along the river and camped until the canals were completed and homes were built upon the Mesa. The little town of Mesa was laid out with large blocks and wide streets, Mormon style like Salt Lake City.
Men started to work immediately on the canals. Little gardens were planted. A letter by Jessamine to folk back in Idaho dated march 31, 1878 states: "They are getting along splendid with the ditch. They are intending to hire help and get it through in 30 days, if possible. Francis rented land from Ross Rogers and we got a nice garden. We have started oranges, lemons, limes, and some grape vines."
It was hot that summer and the men did not finish the "ditch" in 30 days but they worked diligently just the same. Lots were cleared and some adobe houses were built.
Francis Martin Pomeroy was elected one of the Directors of the canal, one of the trustees of the town site of Mesa, and Justice of the Peace of the community. He became the "Pacifier" of the district, both among the white population and also the Indian and Spanish people. The Indians called him the "Great White Chief" and very often their disputes were brought to him for adjudication. It was a common thing to see several Indians camps around his home, and the Indians in consultation with him. This, no doubt, inspired the authorities to set him apart as an Indian Missionary on the 16th of April, 1880. On the 1st of April, 1881 he was set apart as President of the Indian Mission, which position he filled until his death, which occurred on the 20th day of October, 1882.
First Wife: Irene Ursula Haskell (married July 1844)
Second Wife: Sarah Matilda Colborn
(married 20 April 1853)
Third Wife: Jessamine Elizabeth Pomeroy (married 22 February 1857)
This information on Francis Martin Pomeroy
was originally compiled by:
The information was transcribed by Tom
and Jan Irvine, April 25, 1999. Tom is the great-grandson of
Heber Chase Kimball Pomeroy.
Jessamine Elizabeth Routledge
Jessamine Elizabeth Routledge was born in 1825 in London, England. Her parents both died when she was young. Fortunately her father had left an inheritance for his children, and they faired reasonably well.
As she matured she took an interest in the street meetings held by the Elders of the church. When her family found this out they were very upset and even locked her in her room at night so she would not slip out to the meetings. Finally, at the age of thirty, her convictions remaining strong, she was baptized. Convincing her family her mind would never change and that she wanted to joint the saints in their great gathering in Zion, her brother took her shopping and outfitted her with what she needed to emigrate. Her family was disappointed and she lost some of her inheritance.
Though small and delicate she was determined and had the faith and strength to leave home and brothers and sisters and to strike out for the unknown. The ship 'Horizon' brought her group of saints to Boston in 1856. They then boarded a train for Iowa City where they prepared fro the trek westward. It was July before the ill fated Martin Company rolled out consisting of 576 souls, 146 handcarts, 6 wagons, 30 oxen and 50 cows and beef cattle.
Starting late the group was caught in a terrible snow storm in the mountains and supplies ran out and they nearly starved and many died of exposure and lack of food. Great grandmother refused to talk about the horrors and suffered for the rest of her life with the pain of frost bit feet. Her children would beg her to tell them about her experiences in crossing the plains but she tried not to until they begged so hard she would tell them some things then they would cry and beg her to stop.
Thanks to polygamy upon reaching the (Salt
Lake) Valley she found and married a fine, strong man with whom
she had six children.