HISTORIES OF SAMUEL ALGER, SR. &
CLARISSA HANCOCK
 
 


          Samuel
(picture of Clarissa not available)



 
 

 
 


 
 

HISTORY OF SAMUEL AND CLARISSA HANCOCK ALGER
PIONEERS TO THE SALT LAKE VALLEY - 22 SEPT 1848
AND AMONG THE FOUNDERS OF PAROWAN UTAH - 13 JANUARY 1851
(original text was passed down to Florence McMullin Jensen & contributed to this web page by Carol Easterbrook Wolf))
 

Samuel Alger was born 14 February 1786 in Uxbridge, Worcester, Massachusetts.   He was the son of John Alger and Elizabeth Hume Alger.

Clarissa Hancock Alger was born 03 September 1790 in Old Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, the daughter of Thomas Hancock, Jr. and Amy Ward Hancock.

This couple was among the earliest converts to the Church, being baptized 16 Nov 1830, and came to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in Brigham Young’s Company on 22 September 1848.   Clarissa Hancock’s parents and eight brothers and sisters joined the church on the same day, as did her husband, Samuel Alger.   He was baptized by John Murdock (later of Beaver Co., Utah).

We have few facts relating to the life of Clarissa Hancock Alger, but her blessing given by Patriarch John Smith is found in the Church Historian’s Office in Book II, page 286.   Her family was ardent members of the Church and passed through all the trials and hardships of the early days in Ohio, Nauvoo, Winter Quarters and crossing the plains to the Salt Lake Valley.   Her mother, Amy Ward Hancock, born 28 February 1769 was buried in Council Bluffs (now the old Mormon Cemetery in Florence, Nebraska).   One of her brothers was a boyhood friend of Joseph Smith and two of her brothers were given special revelations by Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants Sections 52 and 124.   (For further information about them see history of her daughter Clarissa Alger Whitney, wife of Francis Tuft Whitney.)

Samuel Alger was a convert to the Church on 16 November 1830.   He, too, experienced all the history-making events of the expulsion of the Saints from Ohio, Nauvoo, and the trek across the stretches of Western America.   And because he was one of the older members of the Church, he was given many offices of responsibility.   He was an expert cabinetmaker and joiner by trade, and followed this profession all his life.  He built a house for the father of Heber C. Kimball in New York when Heber was nine years old.

We read in the diary of his brother-in-law, Levi Ward Hancock, that Samuel Alger was a Lieutenant in the Ohio Militia in Chagrin, Ohio and in Bloomfield, New York.   In feats of strength he was a log-roller.  He could lay out his strength on an elm log without apparent effort and could throw a strong man as easily as a child.

He was a member of the 34th Quorum of Seventies (Book B.P. 259) and was ordained a High Priest 10 April 1853 by G.Y. Wallace and S.S. Sprague (H.P. Book A  Page 1).   He left Ohio in 1836 with his wife and family and resided in Randolph Co., Missouri for one year until the Mormons were driven out of the state.   They then lived in Quincy, Illinois for eight months then settled in Deer Creek then in Nauvoo on the way west to Winter Quarters, Nebraska Territory.

In Nauvoo, at noon 12 September 1845, Samuel Alger was one of a committee of four writing to Brigham Young for aid for the Morley and Hancock settlements against the anti-Mormon mob.    His wife was of this Hancock family.    They wished to sell all deeded lands and receive wagons, horses, cattle, harnesses, stores, etc., to travel west.   On 20 January 1848 a few months before starting to the Great Salt Lake Valley, Samuel Alger was one of the petitioners for a U.S. Post Office in the Pottawattamie Lands in the State of Iowa.

The Alger and Hancock families with many others left Council Bluffs under the leadership of Brigham Young for the Salt Lake Valley and arrived there 22 September 1848.     This was Brigham Young’s second and last crossing of the pioneer trail.   He remained to his death in the Zion he loved.

Samuel and Clarissa together with their children, John and Claris, lived in Salt Lake City from 22 September 1848 to 07 December 1850 when they left on a mission to explore and settle what in now Southern Utah.   By now their daughter Clarissa had been married for some time to Francis Tuft Whitney, he having arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley with members of the Mormon Battalion on 29 July 1847.    The call to settle Parowan came 27 October 1850.

The Algers and Whitneys, with 28 other families went to Center Creek or what is now called Parowan, Iron, Utah.   They arrived at Center Creek on 13 January 1851 under the leadership of George A. Smith.   It was only a few weeks after their arrival that New Samuel Whitney, the first white child born in Iron County, was born to Francis T. and Clarissa Alger Whitney.

After being released from this mission, Samuel and Clarissa Alger returned to Salt Lake City to reside for the next seventeen years.   On 08 October 1853 Samuel Alger was sustained as a Patriarch in the October General Conference of that year and for the last twelve years of his life in Salt Lake, Samuel acted in that capacity.  He was called “Father Alger” by all who knew him.

He had a burning testimony of the Gospel.   We have a newspaper account dated 24 May 1868 of a speech he made in a meeting in Parowan.   He stated that at the age of 81 years he quit chewing tobacco, after using it for 59 years and testified that he felt better for this abstinence.   He lived to be 88 years old and was hearty to the end.

About 1865 he and his wife moved from Salt Lake to Parowan to be near their daughter Clarissa and family, and son John.   They lived in Parowan for eight years.  On 22 July 1870 Clarissa died.    They had been married for 62 years.  Samuel remained in Parowan until the summer of 1873 then went to St. George to live with his son John.   Samuel died there after a stay of one year and three months.   He died at the age of 88 years on 24 September 1874.

Samuel was an expert cabinetmaker and joiner and also made hundreds of coffins for his deceased friends.  He made his own coffin and kept it under his bed for years.   He had several of these, but always gave them away in an emergency.   He finally died and was buried in a coffin not of his own making.

Heber C. Kimball said of Father Samuel Alger,  “Father Alger through his life was a useful man and for the last 44 years of his life a faithful Latter Day Saint.”

Upon his death it was said, “There passed away one of the stalwart sons of God.”
 
 

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CLARISSA HANCOCK ALGER
wife of Samuel Alger and mother of John Alger
by Carol Easterbrook Wolf
4th great-granddaughter
2000

Clarissa Hancock was born on 03 September 1790 in Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts to Thomas Jr. and Amy Ward Hancock.  She was the first daughter and third child of nine children.      Based on her positioning in the family, the time frame and her gender, and the fact that there are histories of at least three of her brothers, Solomon, Levi and Joseph, I am concluding that Clarissa probably lacked a formal education and was unable to read and write.

I will rely heavily on the journals of Clarissa’s brothers that are included in a book written by Ivan Haskell of Payson.   It’s entitled “Experiences of Payson Pioneers.”  Quotes from his book and the histories will be indented.

“Thomas was not old enough to join the army at the commencement of the War and having two brothers in the service of the Revolution, one had died from its service (Elijah), and the other ill (Jonathan), he went to join about the close of the war.   General Washington being posted in the matter, said, “no, you go back with your parents.   This is the last battle; it’s now death or victory.   You’ve lost two brothers and one will not make much difference now.

Thomas’ height was 5 feet 9 inches, with black eyes and hair and was noted for his courage and his great strength, also his activity and durability.   He was a Bible reader and a follower of the same, choosing the patriotic society, cultivating the spirit of liberty, free trade, and sailor’s rights.

Thomas Hancock, 6th child of Thomas Sr. and Jemima Wright Hancock, married Amy Ward, the daughter of General Jacob Ward of Lexington, Mass.   Thomas took his mother, Jemima and the rest of the family and moved to the State of New York, after his father’s death, 4 March 1804.    They settled in Bloomfield, York State.”

The family consisted of seven children.     Two more daughters were born in New York.   The youngest, Amy, lived to be two years old and is buried in Wolcutt, Wayne, New York next to her grandmother, Jemima Wright who died one month earlier in Aug 1809.

“Thomas Sr., had been reduced to a pauper during the Revolutionary War in the town of Longmeadow, Mass.   This loss was caused by the lack of commerce with the mother country at the commencement of the Revolutionary War.   He had invested heavily in the trade of gingshang root, a perennial sweet, and famous for its medicinal properties.   It grows spontaneously in the Eastern states, where it was dug, dried, and shipped to England, making a profitable business in the times of peace.”Solomon’s history gives some insight into their life as he states:

“...being our parents were reduced in property and monetary worth, we became suitable subjects for the western frontiers, preparing the way for the coming civilization and the generations of man.   We sought game of the woods, such as deer, elk, moose, black bear, and the smaller game, together with fish and fowl, all of which were plentiful and a little bread and beans, with prudent care, made a living.

We were in York State and also Vermont, thus deprived of proper schooling, so our education was limited.   Our first schooling was such that I first done the house work and then walked to school six miles and back every day.    We were well pleased with Vermont.

My parents read the Bible to their children and explained it to them, taught them to pray also.   To keep the Sabbath was a must, to keep it Holy to the Lord and to be attentive to the minister at meetings.”

This then describes the atmosphere of Clarissa’s home life.

Around 1815 Thomas Jr. and Amy Hancock moved from Bristol, Ontario, New York to around Buffalo, New York and on to Erie, Pennsylvania to Chagrin, Ohio.   Clarissa’s brother Levi notes in his history:

“We moved from York State with 7 children to Bristol for two years, then to Pitts Town of Ontario County.   We later moved to Bloomfield to Samuel Alger’s, my brother-in-law that my sister Clarissa Hancock had married near 1808.”

The seven children mentioned would be without Clarissa.   As there were a total of eight children born to Thomas Jr. and Amy.   The oldest child and son, Elijah, died in 1818 in New York.

Clarissa’s younger sister, Sarah, gave the following memory.

“My mother was a daughter of General Jacob Ward, spoken of in Lexington, Mass. in the History of the Revolutionary War of 1776.  Many an hour I’ve listened to the tales of war, or of the wild woods, and since reading the history of the United States, I find that what Joseph Smith Jr. said is true, without fault or boast.”

Clarissa married Samuel Alger 25 February 1808; it is not clear where they were living.  I’m assuming that Clarissa with her husband Samuel Alger remained in Massachusetts while the Hancock family moved to New York because their first child was born in March 1809 in Rehoboth, Bristol, Massachusetts.   In fact, their first five children were born there.   John Alger, their sixth child was born 05 Nov 1820 in Ohio.   His four younger siblings were also born in Ohio.  So it’s evident that sometime between September 1818 and November 1820, they moved from Massachusetts to Ohio.   Clarissa’s parents had moved to Chagrin, Ohio in 1819.  The fact that Samuel Alger was in the Ohio Militia may account for the various locations.

Levi Ward Hancock’s history gives some clarity as to their whereabouts in 1820,

“April 11, 1820, father gave me a paper he had signed, to give me permission to be on my own, at my request I might add.   I boiled some sour sap into molasses and then went to work in a cabinet shop at Chagrin, Cuyahoga, Ohio, for James Spalding.   I inadvertently bumped his nose with my head and caused it to bleed extensively.   He cussed me badly and I left the 1st of May.   I went to my brothers and then to my fathers.   At the end of a week, I left without purse or script, not knowing where I was going or what I would do.   I left through Chagrin, Painesville, Austinburg and there inquired where Lebonon was.   I had a sister (Clarissa) there whose name is Alger.    The man I asked knew them and gave me directions.   It was 50 miles away.   I traveled 44 miles before I stopped for the night.

I lived with them and helped him (Samuel Alger) build some fine buildings and also a sawmill.   I was taught many things that I didn’t understand.  I have written since I was 14 and he let me write here, even giving me paper and ink.   I played the fife, flute, and even the violin, they even gave me clothes to wear.   Samuel Alger was a Lieutenant in the Ohio Militia and I ate with the officers.   I also went to dances that winter.   I made up tunes and helped the eldest boy do the chores.

I was small for my age, weighing 95 lbs. but very active and stout.   I and Samuel went to a house-log rolling and some stout men were lifting an elm log.   Samuel went to the butt end of the log and lifted it so easy, the whole crowd was in awe.   Steven Bishop challenged him to a wrestle, and Samuel could throw him easily.

Samuel bought a place in Chagrin and did cabinetwork.    He moved his wife and family there.    I went to work where Samuel worked this summer and in the fall, I went to Rome and worked on spinning wheels, bed-steads and reels.”

It would appear that while the entire family joined the Mormon Church at nearly the same time,  16 November 1830, they didn’t all immigrate to Utah in the same company. Clarissa’s brother Joseph was one of the 3000 men and families to go west during the winter of 1845.  The exodus began 4 February.   In July 1846 their journey was interrupted by an army courier.  He was instructed to go to Council Point on the Missouri River where Brigham Young was.  Here he assisted in making a ferry across the river and establishing the place that would become Winter Quarters.     He and his wife and family didn’t arrive in Salt Lake until 1851, having lived in Big Grove, Iowa since 1848.

Clarissa’s nephew, Mosiah Lyman Hancock, son of Levi, gives some insight from his journal regarding the trek west.  He states:

“...We went over to Elk Horn and was organized in Zera Pulsipher’s company of 50.  He was captain.   There was John B. Butcher, John Bills, Wm. Burgess, John Alger, Samuel Alger, Lewis the tinner, Brother Bunday, Brother Neff, and Charles Pulsipher.”

They  traveled in the Brigham Young Company (his second). A description of the organized companies is taken from the book “The Story of the Latter-Day Saints” by James B Allen and Glen M. Leonard.  It states:

“The military-style organization he (Brigham Young) established was not uncommon in westward travel and soon became the pattern for Mormon exiles.   About fifty families comprised the basic unit of travel.   Each fifty, sometimes subdivided into groups of ten, was led by a captain who supervised the march, maintained discipline, and oversaw the work of commissarians, guards, herdsmen, and other officers.”

This then was the mode of travel to the Salt Lake Valley with the Hancocks in the group captained by Zera Pulsipher, John’s father-in-law.    This group arrived in the Salt Lake Valley the 22nd day of September 1848, after wintering in Winter Quarters, Nebraska where Clarissa’s granddaughter, Olivia Alger, my great-great grandmother, was born 23 Jun 1847.   In the 1860s John served a mission to the east and his brother, Alva, returned to Utah with him.   As well as a sister-in-law,  Sarah Ann, who John married, and her young children.  It’s reported her husband died in the Civil War.   This would be Thomas.  There is no evidence that the other children of Clarissa and Samuel came West.    The only information on them is death places in Missouri for three of them.     Fanny can be tracked to Indiana.   Whether Clarissa ever saw these six children again is unknown.

Phebe Adams Hancock wife of Solomon records, “. . .I left the state of Missouri in the Spring.   I had eight in my family to care for, Mother and Father Hancock lived with me.      Father Hancock was seventy five years old.   We had only one small wagon and I walked every mile to the State of Illinois.   We lived in Hancock County till we left for the Rocky Mountains.   We left Nauvoo in 1846 and reached a place we later named Winter Quarters and my husband (Solomon) died 2nd December 1847 there.”

There is no mention made of the death of Father (Thomas, Jr.) Hancock, although it appears that he did not complete the trek west.    Genealogy records indicate that he died 01 October 1844 in Hancock County, Illinois.

Again, quoting from the book “The Story of the Latter-Day Saints”, the conditions under which these ancestors lived is noted:

Diets in the camps were necessarily limited.   One much-needed product obtained from Missouri was potatoes, but many Saints subsisted on little more than corn bread, salt bacon, a little milk, and a little fresh meat.   The lack of fresh vegetables during the first summer caused many to contract scurvy, known among the Mormons as blackleg.   The potatoes, horseradish discovered at old Fort Atkinson, and cold weather finally brought relief, but not before disease had claimed its toll.   The numbers who died of scurvy, consumption, and chills and fever during that first summer were not recorded, but from mid-September 1846 to May 1848  these ailments caused 359 deaths at Cutler’s Park and Winter Quarters.

As mentioned above, Clarissa’s brother, Solomon was one of those who died in Winter Quarters 02 December 1847.    Alvah, a brother died 17 July 1847 and another brother, Thomas is said to have died while crossing the plains 04 January 1848.   So Joseph, Levi, Clarissa and Sarah were the four remaining Hancock children.     Histories document that Joseph, Levi and Clarissa arrived in Utah.   It is assumed that Sarah did also.   Mother Hancock (Amy) died in Kanesville, Iowa on 14 January 1847.    Therefore, Clarissa endured the death of her mother and three brothers in a year’s time, not to mention nieces and nephews, plus the hardships of travel, and parting with six of her children.

Clarissa’s brother Levi served with the Mormon Battalion, and it isn’t clear exactly when he arrived in Utah.   He was married the 24th of February 1849 in Salt Lake.

In 1862 (or 1864) the Algers were called to help settle the Dixie Mission.    Clarissa and husband Samuel and their daughter Clarissa and husband Francis Whitney settled in Parowan.      Clarissa’s son, John and family went on to St. George.

Mosiah Lyman Hancock’s journal states the following and is credited to his daughter Amy Baird:

“Although father was not with us much I noticed that he had many good ways about him.   He had such a light step and would be close by you before you knew he was anywhere around.  He was a good public speaker and a splendid dancer, in fact he was called “Fancy Dancing Hancock” as was John Hancock, who signed the Declaration of Independence, and who was a brother of father’s  great grandfather.”

The above statement is factual insofar as a relationship to John Hancock (signer) is concerned.   It’s a little farther removed that Mosiah’s history would indicate as it is a 3rd great-grandfather of his father Levi, Clarissa’s brother.   That is assuming that the line ties in with Nathaniel.   There is still research in that area.

In Dec 1850 Clarissa and Samuel left on a mission to explore and settle southern Utah.   By this time, their daughter Clarissa had married Francis Tuft Whitney.   Samuel and Clarissa and the Whitneys with 280 other families went to Center Creek, or what is now Parowan, Iron, Utah on 13 January 1851, under the leadership of George Albert Smith.  Following their release in 1853, Clarissa and Samuel returned to Salt Lake City until 1865 when they again returned to Parowan where they made their home.   Clarissa died in Parowan on 22 July 1870, six weeks short of her 80th birthday.    Family records state that she is buried in Parowan.   At the time of this writing her grave has not been located.

Clarissa was mother to ten children.

   Eli Ward    John
   Samuel  -  died young   Alva
   Saphony – died young   Samuel
   Fanny     Thomas
   Amy Saphony    Clarissa

PAROWAN

Southern Utah's first settlement and county seat of Iron County, Parowan City blends a rich historical past with present-day, small-town hospitality.  Set in a beautiful natural location, it serves as a year-round gateway to Brian Head Resort and Cedar Breaks National Monument.   Its elevation is 5,970 feet; its population in 1990 was 1,873.

Fremont and Anasazi Indians were the first known inhabitants of Parowan.   Petroglyphs, pithouses, arrowheads, pottery, and manos dating from A.D. 750 to 1250 found in the area are evidence that it was on a major thoroughfare of early Native Americans.   At Parowan Gap, a natural mountain pass twelve miles northwest of Parowan, ancient Indians inscribed petroglyphs on smooth-surfaced boulders that feature snakes, lizards, mouse-men, bear claws, and mountain sheep.   In addition, the Old Spanish Trail also passed through the area.

An annual birthday celebration commemorates Parowan's founding on 13 January 1851, just twelve months after Parley P. Pratt and members of his exploring party discovered the Little Salt Lake Valley and nearby deposits of iron ore.   On 8 January 1850 Pratt had raised a liberty pole at Heap's Spring and dedicated the site as "The City of Little Salt Lake.  "Based on Pratt's exploration report, Brigham Young called for the establishment of settlements in the area to produce much-needed iron implements for the pioneer state.

Mormon apostle George A. Smith was appointed to head the establishment of this "Iron Mission" in 1850. The first company of 120 men, 31 women, and 18 children braved winter weather traveling south from Provo during December. They sometimes built roads and bridges as they traveled, and they finally reached Center Creek on 13 January 1851. After enduring two bitterly cold nights, they moved across the creek and circled their wagons by Heap's Spring and Pratt's liberty pole, seeking the protection of the hills. Within days, the settlement organization was completed: companies of men were dispatched to build a road up the canyon, a townsite was surveyed and laid into lots, and a fort and a log council house were begun. The council house was used as church, schoolhouse, theater, and community recreation center for many years.

In 1861 construction was begun on a large church building to stand in the center of the public square. The pioneers envisioned a building of three stories, built from the abundant yellow sandstone and massive timbers in nearby canyons. Known as the "Old Rock Church," the building was completed in 1867 and served as a-place of worship, town council hall, school buildings, social hall, and tourist camp, In 1939 it was restored through the efforts of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers and a Parowan sponsored WPA project. It is now a museum of Parowan's early history.

Parowan has been called the "Mother Town of the Southwest" because of the many pioneers who left from there to start other communities in southern Utah, Nevada, Arizona., Colorado, and even Oregon and Wyoming. In its first year, colonists were asked to settle Johnson Fort, now Enoch, where a stockade was built, and were also sent to settle along Coal Creek, site of the settlement to manufacture iron which became Cedar City.

Parowan's first settlers were instructed to plant crops so that following immigrants could open up the coal and iron ore deposits, but local industries were also developed, Self-sufficiency was envisioned, and local industries included a tannery, sawmill, cotton mill, factories for making saddles and harnesses, furniture and cabinets, shoes, and guns, there also were both carpentry and blacksmith shops. In the early 1900s both sheep and dairy industries were well established. Local farms were noted for their quality Rambouillet sheep, and the Southern Utah Dairy Company, a cooperative venture begun in 1900, produced dairy products and was known for its "Pardale Cheese."

The first attempts at iron manufacturing were unsuccessful, but mining in the twentieth century brought prosperity to Iron County. When the closure of the mines and the completion of Interstate 15 threatened economic depression in the early 1980s, determined Parowan citizens -pulled together to develop an economic plan of action to keep the community viable. Businesses now support Brian Head, a year-round resort featuring great powder snow for downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter and numerous summer mountain activities.

Parowan's Economic Development Office actively recruits small manufacturing companies to relocate to a rural community.  In addition, the farmers and ranchers of Iron County are working together to increase the number of agribusinesses and dairies. Significant growth has occurred in the 1990s in Parowan; it has been attributed to affordable utility fees and a positive economic climate. City officials have maintained financial stability while encouraging community-projects that preserve the pioneer heritage and increase tourism during all seasons. Parowan is the site of the annual Iron County Fair on Labor Day weekend; it also is a host community for the Utah Summer Games and sponsor of the annual "Christmas in the Country" celebration each November.

In 1993 the city began development of Heap's Spring Memorial Park. Plans for this site include a park and amphitheater, a grotto and pond, and a museum of southwestern Utah history.  Other local historic sites include the original town square with the Old Rock Church, the War Memorial and Rose Garden, the Third/Fourth Ward LDS chapel built in 1915, and the Jesse N. Smith Home Museum. Parowan City supports the Parowan Community Theatre, which produces outstanding theatrical productions throughout the year.

See: Richard M. Benson, History of Parowan Third Ward, 1851-1981 (198 1); Luella Adams Dalton, History of Iron County Mission and Parowan, the Mother Town (1 973), Parowan City, Parowan: Southern Utah's First Settlement (n.d.).

Janet Burton Seegmiller
 

from Utah History Encyclopedia
 
 




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