Photocopy of holograph. 17 pp. 31 cm. BYU [Lee Library] (MSS 949)
typed by Rita F. Bartholomew
[sp]= I was not sure of the spelling;
[CNR] = I could not read the word(s),
[words inside brackets] =typist’s comments
My name is James Mills Paxton, Son of Jane Mills and Anthony Clark Paxton. I was born May 29th 1845 at Southshields, Durham Co., Eng. My father was of English and Scotch decent and a sea-faring man. My mother was of Scotch and English decent. She has often told me of a strange presentment which occured to me when very young. In which I persisted that my father was dead. It proved to be too true, for he was stricken with brain fever, on a return voyage from London, and died on board of the Dreadnot; a floating hospital. (A disabled seventy four gun ship) 25th May, 1848 5:45 a.m. he was 38 years old when he died at Greenwich.
A kinder spirit never sped
Across the Ocean wave
A fairer form was never born
To moulder in the grave.
And in the Temple of our God
The noble work is done
That binds with cords of filial love
A father and his son.
Thus my mother was left with two sons and two daughters. (The remainder of twelve children.) To battle through life as best we could. The property left us soon disappeared depriving us of all chance of [CNR]
In the year 1850 we moved to Sunderland. Then from there to Middlesborough, Yorkshire in 1852. Here I went to work sweeping the race for the puddlers in Balcaers [possibly Bolckokw} iron works. I soon got promoted to shoving balls into the squeezer. And from that to tending the engine. Induced by higher wages I went to work at the refineries. During this time I was endeavoring to learn to read by the fireside in the evening, and by closely observing the shop signs as passing to and from work. By chalking a clock-face on a boiler-plate and enquiring of the workmen I learned to tell the time.
My passtime was spent at the theatre, fishing, or catching birds and roaming the fields and forests, listening to the songs of birds and viewing the scenes of nature.
On that beautiful Isle where the white-caps spray
Kiss the wing of the gull in the heat of the day
And the moon on the waters looked down from the sky
And conjured the rivers to sink and rise.
And the dew on the grass marked the track of the snail
When the linnet and thrush with the sweet nightingale
And the Lark and the robin at twilight and dawn
All sang their sweet lays to the hind in the corn.
I occasionally went to chapel not being particular as to creed. For my mother’s house was a chapel for the Latter-Day Saint Elders whenever they came along. I had been convinced from my earliest recolection of the truth of the gospel which they preached. I had witnessed the signs following the believers they spake in tongues, prophesied, healed the sick, and done many things in the name of the Lord.
In the vision of the night I saw a light decend from heaven and rest on the market place. In the same place the following day I saw a very pleasant looking old gentleman with a long white beard standing on a chair preaching the Latter day Saint doctrine. I with the rest of the people stood spell bound as he closed. Being anxious to let him know that I was of that faith and to invite him home I followed him but to my astonishment he vanished before my eyes. The brethren made dilligent search for him but found no trace. On telling the president of the branch what I heard he rose to his feet with two lifted hands and said ” you saw one who never tasted death but tarries till the Saviour comes.
I was baptized when eight years of age, 1853, Middlesborough, Yorkshire, by request of my mother, a kind-hearted steady going and hard working woman. Seeing the advantage trades-men had over laborers I resolved to learn a trade and accordingly selected and made a success of iron moulding: at Snoden [sp] & Hopkins foundrys. My brother Anthony and his comrade, James Ratcliff were to be baptized August fourth 1861. I concluded to renew my covenants and was baptized with them by Elder John Gleason. They immediately sailed for Utah, which very much displeased the Superintendent of the Works; who with two ministers sought to have me discharged. The gaffer [foreman] interceeded in my behalf. The subject of “Mormonism” was broached they quoted much Scripture and I was greatly astonished to find myself correcting their quotations to their great discomfiture, they left in alarm and greatly confused for truely the spirit of Truth rested upon me. The door was no sooner closed than the workmen who had been listening attentively gave a hearty three cheers for young Brigham and that was the name I went by till I left the shores of England; and took passage on the John J. Boid [John J. Boyd] (a sailing vessel) on my way to Utah, April 30th 1863. The following ideas found by inquiry was written on board the ship and my first attempt at poetry.
The quiver played on the lip of pride
As we parted by the Railway side
Swiftly from your view we went
To cross the seas in our assent.
Then, on the prairie pitched our tent
As through the wilderness we went
The Rocky canyons we passed through
Then Salt Lake City came in view
And joy from soul to soul did flow
As we viewed the landscape o’er.
Here is light and here is love
Here is blessings from above
Here is peace and unity
The gospel in simplicity.
We had beautiful weather crossing the ocean sighted the great Eastern and passed very close to an iceberg floating about five hundred feet above water. My folks being sea-sick asked me to make a rice pudding. I done so but truly it was like the widows flour then it began to rise and after taking out more than I put in the boiler was still full. After thirty two days voyage we landed in New York June 1st and were delighted with the beautiful scenery on the banks of the Hudson River as we neared Castle Gardens, New York. I was forcibly struck by the contrast between the English and American soldiers seeing many of the latter when passing through the states from New York to Omaha.
Reaching Florence June 12 We left Florence with an ox train under captain McCarter, and I walked all the way to Salt Lake City about one thousand miles driving a cow and carrying a gun most of the time. Owing to the dry season there was very little water in the Platte River except in holes which afforded us plenty of fish whilst in the act of spearing them my attention was attracted by a pretty little striped cat running along the bank, being an expert with a knife on the end of a pole I gave him a poke and was very much alarmed to see every body holding their nose or turning them Heavenwards. But it was considered a brave act for which they presented me with a suit of clothes. At fort Bridger a company of soldiers made us go back 12 miles to take the oath of allegiance. The grandest sight on the Plains was chimney rock which appeared in our foreign eyes to be but a short distance away but after traveling towards it two or three days and the teamsters told us it was still twenty five miles away we began to sense the clearness of the atmosphere, being able to see an hundred miles as clear as we could five or ten in the old country. We sang songs by the camp fires in the evening using buffalo chips for fuel and slept on the ground or took part in guarding the cattle all night to protect them from mixing with the herds of buffalo or being driven away by the red-man. We arrived in Salt Lake Valley one beautiful evening Saturday Oct. 8th 1863.
The sun was sinking in the west
Beneath the sky aglow
The mountain sides were richly dressed
Beneath their caps of snow
And maidens in their homespun dress
With spinning-wheel would toil
Their naked foot was not ashamed
To press the virgin soil
And mountain boys on fiery steed
Would ‘round their cottage prance
Or with them gather mountain flowers
And mingle in the dance.
I went South with the ox train as far as Parowan where I was re-baptized by Elder John Davenport. Here I had to make my own shoes or go bare-footed. Then I engaged to herd sheep and for that purpose started for shoal creek. A place in the south end of the big desert. The company consisted of my mother and step-father John Ramsey, my sisters Jane and Isabelle and my brother in law Alfred Whatcott and John Black. When we got on top of the divide near Pinto Creek one of the oxen was too poor to pull the wagon any farther through the snow so he laid down and died in the yoke. We suffered much in the storm and to make a long story short we ate that ox.
And when we boiled him in a pot
The grease would float like stars
Upon that firmament of broth
Like Jupiter and Mars.
We got assistance however and reached Shoal Creek. A lady by the name of Perkins was there to receive us, which she did in good style with the table spread and our first meal in that place was chicken and cheese without bread. I herded sheep til my clothes were all worn out, but my appetite was good for we were living on bran mush and cedar-berries. Being desirous of a change I patted some mush in a frying pan and put it to bake, but when it was cooked it looked very much like saw-dust. A little water however brought it back to its native state. A council was then called they selected me to go to Pinto Creek to borrow or rather to beg flour. By the assistance of the Bishop in that place I obtained some and took it home (if that is the right name). I then bid the folks good-bye and started to Parowan where I tried hard to get work. I was finally employed by Mr. McGuffee and I must say he was very kind paying me one bushel of wheat or two of potatoes per day when wheat was five dollars per bushel convention price. I was next employed by Pres. Dame. He sent me to the canyon with Edward Ward who had to show me a good saw – log to chop. In order to take off some of my English he showed me one which no one else would have.
So I chopped and I chopped
With the greatest of skill
At the end of six days
That log reached the mill
And Peter Fouts swore as he tumbled it o’er
He never had sawed such a tough one before.
Just eleven feet long as it lay in the shade
Nine hundred and eighty of lumber it made
And Edward would gigle and croak like a frog
When telling the boys about my first log.
From Parowan I went to Pangwitch and helped to make that settlement under Bishop Neilson. Here I was ordained an Elder by W. Hammond May 23rd 1865. And faithfully performed the office of Deacon three years. We had hard luck farming our grain generally got frozen before ripening, And our roller mill did not work well. It was simply a short log with a hole in one end into which we put the frozen wheat and then pounded it with a huge pestle stick. Screens were not in fashion, and when we got a little molasses to mix with our whole wheat flour we would have a picnic in our log meeting-house. The floor was made of pine beam or split logs from two to four feet throuigh on which we would, then [CNR]
Trip the light fantastic toe
Both young and old, high and low
For most all of us them were equal then
In poverty the strength of men.
But our pleasures were soon brought to an end by the breaking out of the Blackhawk war causing us to move our houses together in the shape of a fort. We then had a military organization in which I was a leiutenant under Captain John Lawder. I accordingly purchased a pistol with the hammer underneath, (commonly called an under whacker) arms were scarce in those days where I was. Whilst testing it at a mark the stock broke and the barrel struck me between the eyes knocking a shingle off and that accounts for my soft spot. In a light squirmish [skirmish] James Butler was wounded and some indians taken prisoner. They put them in a log cabin and told me to take care of them giving me a double barreled shot-gun. In the night the Indians begun pulling out the logs to get out. I stationed myself behind the chimney resting the barrel of my gun on one corner and raising both hammers to make sure I took aim and: They concluded not to come out and i was mighty glad of it. The prisoners were soon released and the settlement vacated. They sent me to Circle Valley to help protect that place. That settlement was also vacated. When I went south to Toquerville where I learned masonry under Mr. Dodge. Here I also received my first lessons in music under Prof. Thomas, And the following,
Patriarchial Blessing by Elisha H. Groves. Given at Toquerville April 21st 1867
Brother James Paxton in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood in me vested I place my hands upon thy head and seal upon thee a patriarchal or fathers blessing which shall rest upon thee and thou shalt realize the fulfillment thereof. Thou art in the days of thy youth thou must hearken to the councils of the Holy Priesthood keeping the commandments of the Lord thy God and thy life will be precious in the sight of thy Heavenly Father, thy days shall be multiplied unto thee upon the earth inasmuch as thou wilt apply thy mind to it thou shalt increase in knowledge and understanding as the days and years roll on thou shalt be called to stand in defence of the kingdom of God on earth. Thy guardian angel will be with Thee and thou shalt be delivered from all thine enemies. Thou shalt become an actor in the redemption of Zion and the avenging the blood of innocence upon them that dwell upon the earth. Thou shalt become a judge in Isreal a councilor in Zion a man of judgement and decision, able to fill any mission or station which may be appointed unto thee. Thou shalt gather many of thy kindred both of the living and dead to rejoice with thee in the kingdom which thy Heavenly Father hath prepared for thee. As one of the horns of Joseph thou shalt aid in pushing the people together from far and distant lands the great men and nobles of the earth will be astonished at thy testamony. Thou art of the seed of Abraham of the loins of Joseph and the blood of Ephriam entitled to the fullness of the Holy Priesthood which thou shalt receive in due time that thou mayest be able to stand in thy proper lot and station in the redemption of thy projenitors many of whom will be revealed unto thee by Holy mesengers who will commune with thee from time to time revealing the genealogy of thy fathers. Thou shalt become a father in Isreal. Thy posterity will multiply and become numerous upon the earth. Thy name shall be perpetuated to the latest generation. Thou shalt receive of the blessings of thy fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob good order will rest in thy habitation wealth will flow into thy hands and no good thing will be witheld from thee.
Thou shalt behold the coming of thy Redeemer, the reign of peace established upon the earth, receive of the precious fruits of the earth when the earth yields her increase to man receive thy holy anointing as a king and priest to the most High receive thy crown kingdom, dominion, power, and eternal increase, be numbered with the one hundred and forty and four thousand, Receive thy inheritance with the faithful sons of Ephriam in Zion. Be faithful yeild not to the influence of evil and these blessings will be sure and certain unto thee not one jot nor tittle shall fail. I seal them upon thy head in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ our redeemer even so Amen.
M. Slaik, Scribe.
From Toquerville I moved to Corncreek 1867 taking my property with me which consisted of a horse, saddle, bridle and a pair of holsters giving me the appearance of a road agent but it was fashionable to look so in those days. Obtaining some land from Bishop Sting in the settling of Kanosh a village about fifteen miles south of Filmore.
Kanosh is but a fallow thorp [hamlet or small village]
Though happy we might be
If our eyes would shed the beam
Which makes the mote we see.
Then let this maxim be your theme
As life you travel through
Always look at others as
You’d have them look at you.
‘Tis better far to suffer wrong
A motto brave and true
When through the paper someone writes
Who seems to poke at you.
Yes suffer rather than do wrong
As life you travel through
And always speak of others as
You’d have them speak of you.
Example teaches plain and true
The path of life we tread
Forgive they know not what they do
The dying Saviour said
Treat your neighbor as yourself
Be to your manhood true
And always do to others as
You’d have them do to you.
Following the example and kind fatherly advice received from James Jackson of Toquerville I planted some early peach trees grubbing and fencing the land afterwards. This gave me the early market and is still profitable. I sowed grain for six or eight years which was invariable devoured by grass hoppers. I then had a few years of prosperity and made money freighting to Pioche. In those days we used to freight in the dead of winter without a coat, and often without a wagon cover. I took an active part in the Sabath Schools, Church choir, Quorums and theatricals. I was married to Elizabeth Brown Oct. 4th 1869. Passed through the Endowment House Salt Lake City, and by request of Bishop King was ordained a Seventy by John Ratford March 4th 1874. Served as Quorum Secretary and presided over Y. M. .M. I. A. four years in which time we established a library of sixty volumns and published a manuscript paper Titled the Lantern. The following appeared in the first number March 17th 1877.
To guide the careless steps of youth
When darkness reigns within
Though mists of every kind forsooth [it looks like there were alternate words written later]
Our Lantern is the thing.
To fight the haunts of manly prime
The tempter’s trap to spring
And check the hasty step of crime
Our Lantern is the thing.
To bless the steps of honored age
Whose lamps are burning dim
And cast a ray upon his path
Our Lantern is the thing.
On January 25th 1877 I had the pleasure of going through the St. George Temple, where my wife Adelaide Tippett Paxton was sealed to me. Her Sister Matilde Tippett (Deceased) was also baptized for and sealing Ordinance attended to.
During my past life I have been prayerful, industrious, and honest. Acknowledging the hand of God in all things, Receiving many blessings, warnings, encouragements, and healings through the gift of the Spirit.
My dear children I am now forty four years of age and with the school advantages you have you ought to know more than I do when you are twenty. Be civil to all people, kind to the sick, respect old age and God will bless and prosper you. I will now write you some of my passing thoughts just as they came along as near as I can remember.
Nauvoo Legion mocked and scoffed
By wicked nation roar
Yet never did the pen or press
A more brilliant word bestow
Engraved in golden plates above
In earth’s remotest cave
It means a unity of love
A host of warriors brave.
To raise the starry flag aloft
In future days to come
When pestilence, famine, fire and sword
The nations will consume
To drive oppression from the land
And succor the distressed
In Zion’s true and faithful band
All Nations will be blest.
Then you who have this Legion joined
With garments pure and white
With truth your armour, faith your shield
Go battle for the right
Yes rally round the standard
And never shun the fight.
God is with you do not fear
He will protect the right.
To a Young Lady on the Death of her Mother
Why recall her how she’s gone
Your gentle mother dear
Her body sleeps beneath the sod
Her spirit soring up to god.
And why give way to grim despair
She leaves for you a mother’s care.
Your father comfort, try to cheer
Your brothers and your sisters dear
A work on earth there is to do
That she may safely enter through
The gates where holy angels stand
With signs and tokens in the hands.
When this glorious work is done
There is a crown of glory won
But hark! The angels whisper now
Methinks I hear them say
Come haste to Christ without delay
For no one knows their dying day.
Few get to give
Many give to get.