William Henry Bishop (1821-1884)

By Savalla Bishop Melville, daughter
William Henry Bishop, son of Sylvanus and Rachel Spicer Bishop, born September 11, 1821 in Oswego, Oswego County, New Cork, spent his childhood on his father’s farm. At the age of 15 he went to live with his brother, Nelson, in LaPort, Lorraine County, Ohio to learn the blacksmith trade. After going out on his own, he traveled to LaPort, Indiana where he joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He married Eliza Pratt in her father’s home, March 21, 1841. In the fall of 1842 they moved to Nauvoo, and remained in Nauvoo until the Saints were driven out. William received his temple endowment 6 February 1846 in the Nauvoo temple.

William, Eliza and their children crossed the plains and arrived in Utah in 1850, where they were sent to Provo to help settle that part of Zion. While living in Provo, William married a second wife, Malinda Helman Case, 15 May 1853 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They had six children. In 1853, William was called to help settle Fillmore, and since Eliza was expecting another baby, William took his Malinda with him to Fillmore and came back for Eliza and her children the next year.

Three children were born to William and Malinda Case: Julia Ann, born July 20, 1854, died June 28, 1931; Susan Arvilla, born Dec. 13, 1855, and Artemus Hemy, born April 7, 1857, died January 31, 1926. When her children were small, Malinda went on a visit to California to see her mother (the Case’s were prominent Latter-day Saints, helping to found San Berardino) and never came back. Her children all had families who visited their father and families of relatives in Utah, but none of them lived in Utah. Malinda remarried in California. She died 6 April 1912 at Huntington Beach. During the gold rush, William went out on the road and set up a blacksmith’s shop as there were so many people rushing to California to get in on the gold that he knew he would do a good business repairing wagons and keeping horses shod. One night he showed his sack of gold dust to two men who he thought were his friends. The next morning his friends were gone and so was his bag of gold dust. William stayed a while longer in order to make some money to take to his family, but this time he showed it to no one.

The Pony Express carried the mail from Fillmore to Panguitch, and the Indians were dangerous. Mahonri, a son of William and Eliza was one of the riders. One night as he carried the mail, a band of Indians surrounded him. Mahonri was on his favorite horse, Old Bally, a horse unafraid and very fast. The Indians ordered him off the horse. Mahonri spoke softly to the horse and Old Bally lunged forth, outran the Indians who were shooting arrows thick and fast but Mahonri prayed and the Lord took him, safe and sound, to the next station.

William and Eliza lived in a log house at first, but later William built four brick rooms and added two adobe rooms, so the family was well housed for early pioneer days.

When William was 59 years old, in the summer of 1880, he took a trip back to New York to see his folks, since none of them had ever visited him, except his brother Nelson, from whom he learned his blacksmith trade. Nelson only stayed a short time, and then returned to New York. William enjoyed his visit, but was happy to be back with his family in Utah. William was a gunsmith and did work for the Indians, putting sights on their guns and making awls for the squaws to sew their moccasins. The Indians around Fillmore were friendly, and William always treated them in a friendly manner, and they trusted him. They paid him with tallow, and one day when his wife was gone William decided to make soap. There was not enough tallow for a batch of soap, so William took resin and added to the tallow. The family was delighted with the soap. It was the whitest, hardest soap they had ever seen.

The following was copied from the original papers of William Henry Bishop: “My father was a farmer with whom I lived until 15 year old, when I commenced learning the smithing trade with my brother Nelson in the town of LaPorte, Lorain County, Ohio. In the falloff 1837, I again returned to Oswego to my father and spent the winter in school. In the ensuing summer I went to the state of Illinois to finish my trade with my brother Nelson, who had removed there. I stayed with my brother one and one half years, then started out into the world to make my fortune. Traveled through different states. When in the town of LaPorte, Indiana, I first heard the gospel preached by brothers Zehia1 Savage and Robert Snyder. I was baptized 25 May 1840. I set up business (blacksmithing) for myself in LaPorte where I stayed two years. Was married to Miss Eliza Pratt by Franklin D. Richards and moved to Nauvoo in the fall of 1842. In Nauvoo, I found the Saints poor, having just been driven from Missouri.”

(Insert from the history of Franklin D. Richards)

– Franklin Richards –
In May, 1839, he first met the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the following spring, April 9, 1840, he was ordained to the calling of a Seventy by Joseph Young, and was appointed to a mission in northern Indiana. He journeyed and preached with great success; established, by his own personal efforts, a branch of the Church in Porter county; and before he was twenty years of age delivered, at Plymouth, a series of public lectures which attracted much attention. The April conference for the year 1841 saw him at Nauvoo an adoring witness to the laying of the corner stone of the Temple; and at this eventful gathering he was called to renew his labors in the region of northern Indiana. In the summer of that year he was at La Porte, Indiana, sick nigh unto death, and yet determined to progress with his mission. He found consoling care in the kindly home of Isaac Snyder, and through several weeks he was nursed as a beloved son of the house. When the family of Father Snyder took up its march for Nauvoo, Franklin was carried back by them to the beautiful city, but soon after the succeeding October conference he was once more moving in the missionary field-this time being the companion of Phineas H. Young, in Cincinnati and its vicinity. He fortunately visited Father Snyder’s family again in the summer of 1842, {It was during this time that he married William Henry and Eliza} just as he was convalescing from an almost fatal attack of typhoid fever; and in December of that year he was wedded to the youngest daughter of the house-Jane Snyder. {Robert Snyder, who taught William Henry the gospel, is Jane’s brother.} He remained with the Saints at Nauvoo until the latter part of May, 1844. Having been ordained a High Priest by Brigham Young May 17, 1844, at Nauvoo, he was called to depart upon a mission to England.)

The following letter was written by William H. Bishop to his parents from Illinois in 1839. Kishwaukee, Illinois October 4, 1839

Dear Parents,

I have looked long and anxious for a letter from home but have looked in vain. It is now two long months since done the first (perhaps last is meant) stroke of work in the shop.

About the middle of August, Nelson and Julia were both taken with the bilious fever and I alone was spared to take care of them and the two children. We had a good physician and some help from the neighbors. They began to get better when I was taken with the same disease. There we was, each one had to wait on himself, and yet we was thankful that we was not as bad off as some of our neighbors for we have all lived through it while a great many of our neighbors have gone to their long home and some have died from want of attendance than anything else. After I began to get over the fever and so was able to be around I was taken with the worst of all diseases, the fever and ague and I have been blessed with it ever since.

It has been very sickly all over the western country this season. There has not been one fifth of the inhabitants of this country escape sickness. As soon as I get able, I think of leaving this country for some other part, maybe for the west. I should like to hear from home very much but shall probably leave before I could receive an answer from this. Nelson and Julia are getting along quite smart. I should not advice Francis to come to this country as he like a lambs can do well there if he don’t want to shake like a lambs tail. I think it is something like eight months since I heard from home. I think Nelson and myself have wrote some five or six in that time.

Our land comes in market here the 21st of Oct. A tract of land 36 miles long and 18 miles wide. The mail will soon be made up and I must bring my letter to a close with the request that we shall hear from our friends in Oswego. I think some of going into Iowa to keeping school this winter. When I get located in my business, I will send you another letter. To William Sylvanus Bishop and all the rest of the family.

From W.H. Bishop

Wheat is 50 cents, corn is 25 and 18 ¾, and potatoes about the same. I should like a few of your apples and mugs of cider but you need not look for me back this winter.

In 1850 he addressed the following letter to his brother, Lewis of Oswego, New York. June 25, 1850 Camp of Israel, near New Fort Carnie (probably Kearny, Neb., which is about 400 miles from Des Moines.)

Dear parents, brothers and sisters,
You will see by this that I am on my way west. Our camp has stopped today to wash and I improve this opportunity to write. It has been near five weeks since I left Fort Des Moines. We have come about 400 miles. We shall make better progress in the future. I expect to be near three months yet. There are 55 wagons in our company. We correl (drive in a circle) at night, travel all day, watch Indians and wolves by night, – – – fine fun. We are camped at an old deserted Indian village on the Platt River. We have been pulling their old lodges down for wood. There is a great scar-city for timber in this country, only a little along the water courses. We have been following up the Platte bottoms for several days. Plenty of buffalo on every side, elk, deer and antelope. There are so many traveling they frighten the buffalo away from the road. They are very abundant here in winter to feed on the rushes. I have but a few moments at a time to write and that in the wind by the side of the wagon. I have to get wood and water, tend the baby and write so you will excuse any imperfections you may discover. I have two wagons, three yoke of cows, one set of smith tools, clothes for two years, provisions for three months. We have a few cases of cholera in camp – 3 deaths. We had a mess of peas and onions today, they grow spontaneous here. The peas resemble the June peas and taste like them. Would like to send you some seed of the wild flowers that grow here. (The rest of the letter was written in pencil and all is not legible now, March 16, 1932, nearly 82 years after it was written) The mail so near by going to the states from the ______valley, and I must write going along. We are all well. I received your last in due season ______ ______ Will write again soon. Maybe from post _____ ______ You may write to me by way of Council Bluffs, Iowa. Write next winter so I will get it in by the spring mail.
William H. Bishop

Vesta, 7 years old, told of one thrilling experience. The captain split the train to allow a large herd of buffalo to pass. Her father was holding the bad oxen of his team, while several of the buffalo jumped over their wagon tongue within a few feet of her.

Before my grandparents started the journey across the plains, grandmother made herself a dress of factory (unbleached) muslin and dyed it a shade of brown. For the dye she made a tea from the bark of a certain tree or shrub. After each laundering, she would give it a fresh dye bath. This gave it a glossy appearance. She was accused of “sporting” silk dresses for traveling.

Early in my grandparent’s, William and Eliza Bishop’s married life, while traveling around, they lost some of their animals and grandfather went to find them. Not finding them in a reasonable length of time he came back and gave grandmother a gun, telling her that if he didn’t return to shoot the oxen if necessary for food. He found the animals and returned in a day or two. She was none the worse off except for the suspense. (Grandmother was the daughter of Nehemiah and Elizabeth Roberts Pratt. The children of her fathers family were: Patience, Silas, Nehemiah, Samuel, Lucinda, John, Clarissa, William, herself, Penelope and Amos Josiah.) In the fall of 1850 they had reached Echo Canyon where their sixth child, Penelope, was born 18 Sept. before their entrance into the Great Salt Lake Valley.

(The following was taken from a manuscript written by Solomon Avery Wixom)
Grandfather was sent on a mission to Fillmore where he was again elected first a captain, and later Major of company A Parivant division of the Nauvoo Legion, under Colonel Thomas Callister. He took an active part in the Black Hawk Indian war. He and his command serving for some time in and near the seat of the war, and at the time of the disbanding of the militia, was honorably released.

He was a ward teacher, a member of the 42 Quorum of Seventies and was appointed to act as teacher of this quorum.

Grandfather followed his trade of smithing, was delegated by the church to do work for the Indians for tithing. He was a gun smith as well as a sharp edged tool maker. The squaws would come for awls which they used in working their buckskins. He made knives for the Indians and repaired their guns. They later brought so much work that he charged them for work done. They paid him in duck fat for soap making, in buckskins, venison beaver fat and skins. They both respected and trusted him. He was of a jovial disposition, liked a joke and would put himself out considerable to perpetrate one. He forged the shoes for the oxen, mules or horses as well as for the nail to fasten them on, also the hinges and locks for the doors. In addition to repairing the guns for the Indians, he was a good marksman and would sight their rifles for them.

Once he went to the northern part of the state, on the California trail near Bear River, and plied his trade. He received gold dust in pay for a good deal of his work and would have done well if he hadn’t been robbed of the pay for his season’s work.

The grass in this locality was good and his oxen waxed fat and sleek. Travelers on the trail often wished to trade their poor footsore animals for fresh steers and would trade two weary animals for one good one. Rest and good feed would soon make the lean ones fat and ready to trade off for more of the poor ones again, thus, he, in time, accumulated a fair sized herd. Anxious to get back to his family and feeling that he was fairly well provided for in worldly goods, he began to think of going home. Two travelers who claimed they had seen him before and who called him by name, asked to camp with him He left them for a short time to go to the spring for water. The next morning they bid him adieu and went on. Later he had occasion to look in his trunk in the corner where he kept his gold and it was gone. Not satisfied with taking his gold, they had driven off his herd, leaving only two yoke of oxen. He little suspected that he was being robbed while they were with him, which was perhaps a good thing. They were desperate men to whom a human life meant little. He arrived home, poor in property but rich in experience.

Most of this time was occupied at his trade, although he helped in promoting a dam in the Sevier River for irrigation of the lands adjoining old Fort Deseret.” Their first house was built of logs, later he built a four-room brick house on north Main street to which two more rooms were added later. He was a good provider, having a good trade and the family fared better than the average. He was also a well-informed man and was very particular about the children’s manner and speech. If there was anything new come to town, he made it a point to purchase some that the children might see what it was like to have a taste. In 1880 he made a trip back to New York to see those of his kin and friends that were left. He died in Fillmore, 10 August 1884

(The following was copied from a manuscript written by Solomon Avery Wixom, a son-in-law)
When a girl, she (Eliza Pratt Bishop) worked in a paper mill for some months and became quite apt as a sizer. She married William H. Bishop at her father’s house in LaPorte, Indiana, March 21st l84l and followed him in all his tribulations, pleasures and journeys. She was a good wife, affectionate mother and sociable neighbor. Was sought for in counsel and wise in foreseeing coming events. She was devoted to her religion and faithful to her faith. Exhorted her children and all concerned to be true to the kingdom of God. She died in the full faith ‘of a glorious resurrection.”

Although she was very gentle woman, she ruled her children with a firm hand and never gave an order twice, She was of medium height and frail in appearance.

Their daughter, Penelope, was born in Echo Canon l8, Sept” I850, before, their entrance into the Great Salt Lake Valley. Then grandfather was promoted to the rank of Captain of a Military company from that of Lieutenant. In May, l864, he married Malinda Hilman Case Blackburn, who had one child Martha. Two children were born in Provo, Eliza Eldula, daughter of Eliza and Julia, daughter of Malinda.