Lerona and Jess Vanderhoof with children Joseph Francis and Rebecca Maude

Autobiography of Lerona Minerva Hickman Vanderhoof

Lerona was born January 12,1856, at Shambip, Rush Valley (now known as Tooele County), Utah, daughter of William A. Hickman and Minerva Wade Hickman.  The story of her life provides an important perspective on the history of the Hickman family in Utah.

A few words of the rememberance of my childhood. I was the first white child born there. My father took the family to winter the cattle there. My little brother Edward died and was buried there with two others in an unknown grave. Luke Johnson, Lisa's father, said his Solomon could find them. The sand has blowed over them till it didn't happen.

The Indians got bad and they (the family) moved in when I was three weeks old. Mother said my father wraped me in a blanket and we made our old west Jordon home in safety. We had the prettys place on all of Jordon, three or four miles up the river from where Little Cottonwood emptied into old Jordon River.  There was a big bridge there, the lower California road went that way. We had a little log school house about half way from the bridge to our place. One day a big train of emigrants went by in the old fashioned way with covered wagons. One boy kept looking out of the window and the teacher, Will Heaston, made him stand in the middle of the floor and look all he wanted to. Our place had a beautiful little mound on it. The banks of the old Jordon River overflowed and there was a big pond just below the mound circled round a bend. A high bank on one side was covered with rose bushes and the little mound covered on the north side the same, and when we would go on the mound we could see the winding of old Jordan river for miles with the willows on its banks. It emptied into the grate Salt Lake about ten miles below our place.

There is a fond rememberance of the sports of childhood with my brothers and sisters. There was about fifteen of us and six wimen. The old lady the first wife, Brunette 'gramma' as we called her and she shure was good to us but hard times come. The range was gone and Pa sold out to a man by the name of Bringhurst.  We moved to little Cottonwood where my youngest sister was born and the baby of the Hickman family. I use to think Little Cottonwood one of the beautifulst streams on earth where it emptied into old Jordan. The sand on its banks was as white as dishes.  Pa owned land over on the state road toward Sandy and raised a big crop of wheat there, that done us through that hard winter that the mills froze up and we had to grind it on a coffee mill, and so did lots of others.

I was baptised there where Cottonwood emptied into Jordan with two of my sisters. and three of my brothers. Our house on Jordan was close to the mound. Seven rooms, old fashioned adobes, three large front rooms, four small ones in the back with a porch in the front facing the east. They all lived kindly together. It had had a big mud wall around it built in the times the Indians was so bad, fifteen or sixteen feet high with two pair of bars, one in the north, one in the south. Quite a few say that mound was something ancient. It didn't look like the elements put it there.

I remember they hadn't got to raising fruit there yet much and Pa went over to Maxwells and got us some peaches in the buckboard. When he come back he unharnessed the horses and put them up and come back to get the harness. Something caught his pistol and it fell to the ground and went off and shot him through the liver and I heard him say 'Mam I am shot' and ran to gramma.  We had gone to bed and Ma said 'you can get up your Pa is a dyeing' and I went in to see him. He was in the middle of the floor with his garments on and a sheet around him and them carrying watter from the spring and throwing it on him and they said 'let us pray' and they came into my Mother's room and knelt down and ask God to spare him to them. They went back to his room and he was better and they went back and prayed again and he was spared to them and lived thirty years after that. When Mother washed his close down by the river there was little pieces of bones in them.

The spring was in the bank away from the mound where Bringhurst built his house. We had a milk sellar built over it. I haven't ben there for years. Some day I'l wander back again, yes back again to where the old home stands. We only lived on Cotton one summer, now called Murray.

Pa bought a small piece of land below our old place by John Benions, built a big log house with upstairs in it. We lived there two year while he went to Bingham Canyon to work in the mines.  My father and General Connor was the founder of that mine. A big share of everything we raised went there. We picked peas by the sackful and the men use to stop on their way to and from camp Douglas and Uncle James Hickman come from the east and lived there one winter and then he moved right up there to Bingham Canyon. The summer the grass hoppers was so bad the soldiers went east to get supplies and offered to take eny one back free that wanted to go. The Josephites was so strong it seemed like one third of the people went back. Pa wanted to take his family and go to, the first family all wanted to go. Brigham didn't like his mining and being with General Connor so much and the family began to pull apart. Mother sent for brother Edward Wade to come and get her.

Sarah Meecham married John Franks and Pa took the rest and moved to Bingham Canyon for a few years and turned everything over to his brother Doctor James Hickman and moved to the old Camp Floid, now called Fairfield, Cedar Valley. He took up land there, the Lewiston springs was his and they formed a mining club and took up more mines there and had a big smelter at the old camp Floid. I was there one summer.

I will pass over this part of my life for it seems the hardest in my thoughts, for my father was a staunch friend of Joseph Smith the Prophet and Brigham Young and was in the Church from the begining and went through all the hardships and trials and tribulations and faught for them. Some day we will get the credit for it as the Professor in the Ogden high school said to his grandaughter in speaking of the first setlers, 'your Grand Father would never let the weak be imposed upon.' All the soninlaws lived close around him, Emery Meecham, Monroe Butcher, John Allen, George, only son of the first family, his wife Emma Hague, my oldest sister Sarah Marie went with my father to Bingham Canyon and married a Californian, Wm. Francis, and went to California and stayed two year and came back and lived in McCammon. She had seven sons and two daughters.

My father's women were industrious. They use to spin and knit. There was a Scotch weaver by the name of Shields and his wife use to come there and say 'Now you have got to spin me some yarn so get that piece out of the loom' and then the wheels would fly. One of them had a little wheel and I learnt to spin on it and when I was eleven years old I could spin three skanes of yarn a day and knit a sock a day. We got a dollar a piece for our socks, 75 cents for mittens. My mother was seamstress, Martha was the school teacher, the old lady 'Brunette gramma' as we called her was the piece maker and mother to us all. The first Juvenile Instructor that was printed I spun yarn and doubled and twisted it and payed for the first volume. I can remember the story of little George yet. I can remember the time of the move. I ask Mother where we was going when we camped on a green grassy place and a lot of trunks on the grass and a lot of wagons there and two other little girls come to our wagon and I tried to walk down the wagon tongue to them and had such a sore knee. She said, 'That was the time of the move. A bottle got broke in the wagon and you fell on it and cut your knee and I was afraid the joint water would come out and you would have a stiff knee, but you can't remember that, you was only three years old.' I have got the scar yet.

I can't remember how we got there or when we went away.  I can remember how my grandfather Moses Wade looked when we went to North Ogden. He was real aged. He married a Mrs. Armstrong with three children, Joseph, John and Mary Ellner and she had one child by my grandfather, Janey Wade Chaffin.

I was at the cold spring the first engine that come up on the track. They called it the big dam station. Close by the hot spring a Dutchman kept the station. I worked for his wife. She had a little baby girl born there. Mother took care of her and I did the work.  He use to ride the horse out to the spring to wash the mud off. I didn't think eny thing of walking from there home, five miles.  When I went with my mother at the age of twelve years, my father gave her a wagon and a yoke of oxen and a span of mares, a cow and a calf and our household property and she had a loom that she bought of weaver Shields and her spinning wheel.  I would spool the cotton for the worp and hand ends for her to put in the harnes to weave and then I would spool the yarn on the bobins to make the cloth. That was too hard work for her. She quit that and went to midwifery and eny kind of work we could get to do. I was the oldest of five children and worked hard to raise them; Maggie, Survivor, Warren, Ella the baby. My uncle Edward Wade had two wives and a large family of his own but we stayed there two years and then took the property she had left and bought a lot of Bob McAntire in North Ogden with two rooms on it close by the meeting house. She lived there for fifty-two years except when she was on Snake River or Marsh Valley with other children. Three years after she bought that place Jesse Vanderhoof came from Montana and stayed at North Ogden all winter and I married him in the spring, April 5, 1871, and went to the Bitter Root, Montana, with him and took my little brother Survivor with me. They use to freight from Corinne with ox teams to Montana and trail wagons. That was the closest rail road station to Montana. We went up through Malad. There was just a few little log houses there then. We kept off the road as much as we could on account of the feed being eat off by the freight oxen and went up through Red Rock, Bannock and Horse Prairy and Medicine Lodge, Big hole, Rossers hole and down into the Bitter Root Valley. A lovely trip we had, the country was beautiful in its wildness with its tall pine trees and evergreens. I have saw antelope by the banks like sheep. There was all kinds of wild game there, the moose and the elk. The moose was large like a big mule only sloped down the hips geraffe like. The deer, the mountain sheep with their big horns quirled around, the white mountain goats with their long white wool and little black horns. They were the hardest to get of any of the wild game. They could climb the mountain cliffs so easy. I could stand in our door and hear the men shoot and the dogs bark.

When the water was low enough to ford the Bitter Root River we could look above our heads and see the ice marks on the trees made when the water was high. The rocks in the river were the sise of an egg to sise of a tub and when we would ford it the horses would slip and slide till you would feel right dizzy. I could hear the cries of the panther like mimicing a child and he (my husband) killed a bear just below the house knawing a dead critter.  I diden't feel afraid, for my husband was a big strong man,weighed a hundred and ninety pounds and had traveled all theway across the plains from Michigan to Montana, lived ther eight years amongst the tuffs, and then he come down and got me. He delighted in hunting wild game and killed all kinds of wild game animals. Our two oldest children was born there, one at Cowan's ranch across the river from Corvallis, the other at Minoe's creek up at Doolittle, I suppose the first white child born there. Just above our place was Swift creek. A man couldn't wade it, it would take him off his feet.

This part of Montana was very beautiful so thickly timbered with fir and tall pine trees, quaken asp and cottonwood and the winding of old Bitter Root River through the valley and the wild Indians roaming up and down the valley. That was their happy hunting ground. They chased each other up and down the valley and had a battle just above our place. There was three tribes there, the Yatheads, Nerperear and Bannocks. Now they are off on reserves being like white people for they were nearly all half white. All my neighbors had squaws for wives and real pretty children and Lewis and Clarks half breed children were there, big red headed indians. Sleeping Child the creek below was named that by the indians loosing a child there. There was a big saw mill. A. J. Gurner says that is now one of the bigest saw mills in the West [1927].

Asburry Plummer, a batchelor friend of my husbands, started to go to Arrazona with a big band of horses and got us to go as far as Ogden with him. His horses took the epirootic and nearly all died in the mountains. He stoped off at Horse Prairie and we come on alone except an old batchelor, Jack Thrasher, that joined us at Bannock. He was going east to his sisters. We started in July to come to Ogden, we couldn't ford the river eny earlyer. One of our best horses took the epirootic and died, and when we crossed the Big Hole River, the water was low and the banks was steep. The horses would pull the wagon to the top but couldn't hold it and they would back down and he would jump and put the brake on and encourage them and they would try again. At last he said 'I guess we are hung up' and we felt pretty blue with two babies'in my arms and hundred miles from a living soul but Indians and we didn't know what minute they would come in on us, although they were friendly to us, we had a fear of them. So we rested the horses and we tried it again. That time they pulled it up and he said 'look and the brake was on'. We laughed then we felt so thankful. It was a two or three mile pull up the Big Hole mountain and when we went over the Medicine lodge, then we followed an Indian trail. It was very beautiful, tall pine trees, grass up to my waist and all kinds of bushes wild goose burry bushes, sarvus bury bushes, huckle burry bushes and a great many we didn't know, and I looked up in the trees and there was frog spinel and moss on the limbs and you could tell which way the current of the water went, dried and been there for years. I said to Jack 'it looks like there has been high water here' and he said 'yes this country has all been under water once.'

We come down on Snake River, camped there for a few days and caught fish and traveled by the way of Fort Hall. Come on down through Weston and Cash Valley, got to North Ogden in time for fruit. Stayed at Mothers that winter of 1874.

My sister Maggie married Richard Driscol in the spring.  Went to old Camp Floid and stayed with my father and oldest sister Sally Francis, come back in the fall and my third girl, Sadie was born in January.

We bought us a little home half a block [away] with two little brick rooms and as our family increased built two more big rooms with upstairs and planted trees around it--walnut and locus.   We lived there long enough to see them grow large and beautiful.  It was a lovely view of the lake from our upstairs window.  We could see the trains coming up from Salt Lake City and they looked beautiful at night. North Ogden is built on the slope of old Ben Lomon, the highest mountain in the west and joines on the Wasatch mountain in the east. The hot springs on the west, theLucine cut off from Ogden to the Prometory point across the Great Salt Lake, it was a beautiful view. We lived there for over thirty years, had thirteen children born there. One little boy died there, Gilbert Henry. My father died three weeks after my little boy died on Sweet Water, Wyoming. That was in August 1883. Having fifteen children in all, raised them all to man and womanhood but that one. The oldest ones would go out to work and help take care of the littler ones. My husband being a blacksmith and it not being a very large town, he had a blacksmith shop down on Washington Ave and that kept him away from the family too much. He moved it upon the place by the house and then he could work in the garden between times. We had twenty acres on the bench of alfalfa land and he always had his fancy horses. He always wanted to go back to farming and his health got poor and the older ones began to marry off and before Joe was five years old we sould out there and moved to Stone, Idaho and raised the last of our family out here. Warren the old one, May the next, Edith, Ester, Maud and Joseph. We bought a place of Phil Arbon partly broke up and I shure learnt how to burn sage brush. A two roomed log house on it partishened in four rooms. It was very comfortable, only in wet weather them Idaho shingles would leak. We homesteaded 80 acres across the road in Utah and built us a nice frame house with upstairs in it and shingles on it that we fetched from Snowville. It was an easy place to live in, free range, free water, free wood, the hills abound with cedar or juniper. Fruit don't grow here yet horses can winter out here all winter, cattle can't. This is the sheep trail from Montana to the desert around the lake. The sheep-dip is on the Utah-Idaho line just above our place. I have seen thousands of sheep here this winter. It is a good hay ranch. The water ditch runs full length of our place, but alas they [the children] are all gone. They are all married and gone. We are left alone in our old age. Joe my baby boy died when he was twenty-one years old. He was subject to sick spells and we thought he was getting better of them. He was gathering up his horses and that throwed him late for dinner and didn't come in to dinner when I called him.  I went to the stable to see why he didn't come and I found him dead by his horse. I put my hands under his arms and drug him out and rubed him but I couldn't bring him too, so I got on his horse and rode across the field to Earl Hickman to telephone for Doctor Crawshas. He got here inside of an hour and pronounced him dead and we buried him on the side of the hill in the Snowville Cemetery.   It is our desire to be buried there by Joe.

Mother died two months after my son Joseph at the good old age of ninty years. I thought I wouldn't miss her, not being where she was for twenty years only to stop in and see her, but oh how I have missed her so much. She always took care of herself and wasn't beholden to none of us till her last sickness. She was bed fast for two years and she left enough behind to bury her. My brother Warren sold her little home for a thousand dollars and I think how hard she worked to raise us children and keep us together, she wouldn't give none of us away nor marry out of the Church and when she use to sew for people and thread her needle by lamp light her hand would look so blue, for we had no sewing machine them days. She was a faithful Relief Society worker. She cast the bread upon the water to return again, for the sisters was good to her in her last illness. She was in the Church all her life.  Her parents, Moses and Sally Wade, her grandmother, Mary Bundy that died when Joseph and Hyrum Smith were martyered, died from the mob persecution. They had to flee for their lives to the city and she only lived two days after. My mother took care of her sick mother when her father, Moses Wade, and her brother, Edward was in the Battalion and followed the Mormons through all the hardships of first starting of this church till her mother died. It was something terrible the hardships they went through.  My father, William Hickman, buried her mother. Mother said he was the only friend she had and fell in love with him and married him and come on to the Valley to meet her father and brother, as she had promised her dying mother never to leave the Church.

They buried her on the banks of the Missouri River at Council Bluffs. She was a very beautiful woman, so Aunt Lecta Williams told me. I have got her patriarchal blessing that said her posterity should be many and only the one son Edward and Mineva. The other two sisters never come with the Church. 

At the Wade reunion 2nd of July was over four hundred decendants, of Moses Wade, born July 2, 1772, town of Elisebeth Esex Co., New York. Sally M. Bundy Wade, born May 13, 1778, Otsego Co. New York. Minerva Wade Hickman, born Sept. 20, 1830, town of Tamersville, Caterungus Co.  William A. Hickman born Warren Co., Kentucky 1815.

My educated sister laughed at my grammer. My oldest sister said 'well she tells it strait,' so I thought I got a compliment if I warent educated. Mrs. A. Shaw said if I would write it she would read it off in the Daughters of the Pioneers, so excuse mistakes.

Minerva Vanderhoof
To her son Giles E. Vanderhoof

    Lerona Minerva Hickman died December 2, 1939, at Ogden, Weber County, Utah. Buried at Snowville, Utah.  Bernice Vanderhoof McCarthy of Reno, Nevada, who supplied us with the history of Lerona Minerva Hickman Vanderhoof, writes:

"I greatly honor Grama for her effort in writing these pages.  How beautiful is her handwriting and how well she expressed herself, especially so for one with so little advantage of an education.  She was such a hard-working little girl, trying to help her mother eke out an existence for younger brothers and sisters. Understanding this, I can sense Grama's deep hurt when on her memoirs' last page she mentions, 'My educated sister laughed at my grammer.' "

Mrs. McCarthy also supplies us with the names and birthdates of Lerona's children as follows: Huldah Abigail Vanderhoof, born May 31, 1872; Katharine Fidelia Vanderhoof, born May 11, 1873; Sarah Emma Vanderhoof (Sadie), born January 19, 1875; Artamiscia Donna Vanderhoof, born November 1, 1876; Jesse Edward Vanderhoof, born March 12, 1878; Giles Edgar Vanderhoof, born June 10, 1879; Jane Ellen Vanderhoof, born December 21, 1880; Gilbert Henry Vanderhoof, born October 6, 1882; Betsy Grace Vanderhoof, born December 22, 1884; Warren William Adams Vanderhoof, born July 25, 1885; Mary Lerona Vanderhoof, born October 10, 1889; Edith Lillian Vanderhoof, born July 12, 1892; Esther Irene Vanderhoof, born October 12, 1893; Rebecca Maud Vanderhoof, born August 25, 1895; Joseph Francis Vanderhoof, born March 6,1897.

--Daughters of Utah Pioneers, An Enduring Legacy, 1980, Vol. 3, pp. 41-49.

To examine Lerona's 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, click here.
To read Lerona Minerva Vanderhoof's obituary, click here.
To read of Charles Kelly's interview with "Mrs. Shaw", click here.
To learn more about Bernice Vanderhoof McCarthy, click here.
To return to the Hickman Family Index page, click here.