PIONEER HISTORY OF
Foster Gordon (1801 – 1865) &
Sarah Frances Hogg (1806 – 1865)
By: Erma P. Gordon Anderson (additions by Joe Anderson)
Joe Anderson: A great great great grandson
Born: 23 May 1801, Bishopwearmouth [now Sunderland], Durham (now T and W), England.
Died: 22 Oct 1865 Skull Valley, Tooele Co., Utah
Buried: Park (or Hatch) Ranch, Terra, Skull Valley, Utah
Sarah Frances Hogg,
Born: 1806, Hexham, Northumberland, England
Baptism/christening: 4 May 1806, Hexham, Northhumberland, England
Died: 22 Oct 1865 Skull Valley, Tooele Co., Utah
Buried: Park (or Hatch) Ranch, Terra, Skull Valley, Utah
Married: 24 April 1826, Monkwearmouth (Sunderland), Durham (Tyne and Wear), England
Marriages from the Monkwearmouth Registers (1813-1826)
Marriages from the Monkwearmouth Registers (1825-1837)
Buried: Park (or Hatch) Ranch, Skull Valley, Utah
John Henry, Born: 11 Feb 1826 at Sunderland, Durham, (Tyne and Wear), England
Foster, Born: 2 Jan 1831 at Sunderland, Durham (Tyne & Wear), England
Frances, Born: 8 Aug 1833 at Sunderland ,Durham (Tyne & Wear), England
Jane, (twin), Born: 10 Jan 1837 at Sunderland, Durham (Tyne & Wear), England
James, (twin), Born: 10 Jan 1837 at Sunderland, Durham (Tyne & Wear), England
Foster Gordon & Sarah Frances Hogg
Bishopwearmouth, City of Sunderland, Durham [Tyne and Wear], England.
The parish of Bishopwearmouth, south of the River Wear was founded in around 940AD, with an
original stone church being built shortly afterwards.
Bishopwearmouth is an area in Sunderland, North East England. Bishopwearmouth was one of the
original three settlements on the banks of the river Wear that merged to form modern Sunderland. The
settlement on the opposite side of the river, Monkwearmouth, had been founded 250 years earlier. The
lands on the south-side of the river became known as Bishopwearmouth, a parish that covered around
twenty square miles, encompassing settlements such as Ryhope and Silkworth. Within the parish was
another settlement, Sunderland, which was a small fishing port at the mouth of the river. Over the
centuries, the port would grow in both importance and size and in 1719 was made into parish
independent from Bishopwearmouth. In 1897, Bishopwearmouth, along with Monkwearmouth, officially
became part of Sunderland.
The Wearmouth Bridge
was built in 1796
Sunderland developed on plateau high
above the river, and so never suffered
from the problem of allowing people to
cross the river without interrupting the
passage of high masted vessels.
Hexham, Northumberland, England.
Hexham is a market town in Northumberland, England, located south of the River Tyne. Hexham is the
administrative centre for the Tynedale district. . The closest major city to Hexham is Newcastle upon
Tyne which is approximately 25 miles from Hexham.
In 671 A.D., on a bluff above the Tyne, St Wilfrid founded a Benedictine monastery whose church was,
according to contemporary accounts, the finest to be seen north of the Alps. Unfortunately, its gold and
silver proved irresistible to the Vikings, who savaged the place in 876 A.D., but the church was rebuilt in
century as part of an Augustinian priory, and the town of HEXHAM , governed by the
Archbishop of York, grew up in its shadow.
The crypt of the original monastery survives, and incorporates many stones taken from nearby Roman
ruins - probably Coria or Hadrian's Wall. Other notable buildings in the town include the Moot Hall, the
covered market, and the Old Gaol (prison).
Hadrian's Wall was a stone and turf fortification built by the Roman Empire across the width of what is
now northern England. The wall marked the northern limes in Britain and also the most heavily fortified
border in the Roman Empire.
The stately exterior of Hexham Abbey still dominates the west side of the Market Place. Beyond, most of
the high-arched nave dates from an Edwardian restoration and it's here that you gain access to the crypt
, a Saxon structure made out of old Roman stones, where pilgrims once viewed the abbey's reliquaries.
Close to the high altar, there are four panels from a
fifteenth-century Dance of Death, a grim, darkly
Part of the 'Dance of Death', a 15th century painting. L
to R: death dancing with a cardinal, king, and emperor.
The rest of Hexham's large and irregularly shaped Market Place is peppered with remains of its medieval
past. The massive walls of the fourteenth-century Moot Hall were built to serve as the gatehouse to "The
Hall", a well-protected enclosure that was garrisoned against the Scots. Nearby, the archbishops also
built their own prison, a formidable fortified tower dating from 1330 and constructed using stones
plundered from the Roman ruins at Corbridge. Now, as the Old Gaol (prison), accommodates the Border
History Museum which provides information and displays concerning the border-raiding Reivers
The Hexham Old Gaol (Pronounced jail) is in the town
of Hexham, Northumberland, England. It is reputed to
be the oldest purpose-built prison in England.
The gaol was built under the order of William Melton,
the Archbishop of York, in 1330–33
The gaol currently houses a museum, covering:
archaeology, archives, costume and textiles, law and
order, music, photography, social history, weapons
The name of Hexham came from Anglo-Saxon Hagustaldeshām = "Hagustald's home" or "the hedge-
warden's home", although it is often incorrectly regarded to mean "land or settlement of witches".
Like many towns in the North of England, Hexham suffered from the border wars with the Scots,
including attacks from William Wallace who burnt the town in 1297. In 1312, Robert the Bruce, King of
Scotland, demanded and received £2000 from the town and monastery in order for them to be spared a
Throughout the eighteenth centuries, Hexham was a centre of the leather trade, particularly renowned
for making gloves known as Hexham Tans. 'Hexham had a leather trade of some antiquity, and it was
certainly important in the 17th century. In the early 19th century about 1,200 out of Hexham's 6,000
inhabitants were involved in the leather trades.
"England and Wales Census, 1851," Foster Gordon, England, NO LOCATION
"England and Wales Census, 1861," Foster Gordon, Coxhoe, Durham, England
"England and Wales Census, 1861," Frances Gordon, Coxhoe, Durham, England
The village of Coxhoe developed during the 18th and 19th centuries, spurred by coal mining, first
recorded in 1750. Coxhoe Colliery was sunk in 1827; from 1801 to 1841 the population rose from 117 to
3,904. Coxhoe Colliery also known as Clarence Hetton Colliery
Coxhoe was unusual for a small village as it had two railway stations (one at the south end and one at the
north). There was a pottery at Coxhoe from 1769 producing course brown pots, from 1851 it also began
to make clay tobacco pipes. Coxhoe also had its own gasworks, which produced gas from local coal; it
was then sent around the village by a system of pipes. Most other coal was transported out of Coxhoe by
the Clarence Railway.
Some time before 1861 Foster & Sarah Frances moved to Coxhoe, Durham, England. This town is near
(6.6 miles WSW) Castle Eden, Durham, England where their son John Henry Gordon and family were
living. The primary economic base of both towns was coal mining.
Both (Foster & Sarah Frances) were baptized LDS Church members on 16 Nov 1853.
During 1863 Foster & Sarah Frances Gordon made the decision to follow their son (John Henry Gordon)
and emigrate from England to Utah. They left the small town of Coxhoe and made their way to
Photo of Cynosure
Foster & Sarah LDS Emigration from England
30 May 1863; Departed: Liverpool, England
19 Jul 1863; Arrived: New York, New York, USA
22 July 1863; Departed New York
1 Aug 1863; Arrived Florence, Nebraska
6 to 14 Aug 1863; Departed Florence, Nebraska
3 to 15 Oct 1963: Arrived SLC, Utah
Perpetual Emigrating Fund
The LDS Church inaugurated the Perpetual Emigrating Fund Company
(PEF) in 1849. The PEF used Church assets and private contributions to
assist poor emigrants from the eastern U.S. and Europe on their journey
to the Salt Lake Valley. The funds were extended as a loan rather than as
a gift, and sponsored emigrants signed a note obligating themselves to
repay the PEF after they arrived in Utah. This obligation could be met through cash, commodities, or labor. It is
estimated that prior to its dismantling in 1887, the PEF assisted more than 30,000 people to travel to Utah by
wagon, by pulling a handcart or (after 1869) by rail.
Gordon, Foster, 1863, Perpetual Emigration Fund (Book)-Microfilm 25686
Gordon, Foster, 1863, NA, Cynosure, Ship roster on microfilm(s) 25691 25692
Gordon, Frances, 1863, NA, Cynosure, Ship roster on microfilm(s) 25691 25692
CYNOSURE PASSENGER LIST
GORDON, Foster<1804> Age: 59Origin: EnglandOcc: Mason Note: BMR, p.332
GORDON, Frances<1807>Age: 56 Origin: England Occ: Wife
The History of: Foster Gordon (B: 1801) & Sarah Frances Hogg, Born (B: 1805)
By: Erma P. Gordon Anderson (additions by Joe Anderson)
Foster Gordon (b: 1801) and his wife, Sarah Frances Hogg (b: 1805), are the parents of John Henry
Gordon (b: 1826), who joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and came to Utah with his
wife and family. They lived in the northern part of Durhamshire, England - Sunderland ( now Tyne &
Wear), England. During 1863, Six or seven years after their son (John Henry, wife & children) came to
Utah, this couple, Foster Gordon and wife Sarah F. Hogg Gordon, sailed from England on the ship,
"Cynosure", (leaving Liverpool, England) on 30 May 1863.
30 May 1863 Port of Departure: Liverpool, England aboard ship Cynosure
LDS Immigrants: 775, Church Leader: David M. Stuart
19 Jul 1863 Port of Arrival: New York, New York
"CYNOSURE”. -- The packet ship Cynosure, 1,350 tons register, Captain Williams, left this port, for
New York, on Saturday, the 30th of May 1863, with 775 souls of the Saints on board. Elder David M.
Stuart was appointed president, with Elders John S. Gleason and Willard G. Smith for his counselors.
The following are returning to the home of the Saints in Zion: […] Elder John S. Gleason […] was
president of the Newcastle on the Tyne District […]. 10 other missionaries returning with the Cynosure.,
Autobiography of David M. Stuart: AND “Letter from David M. Stuart - July 20, 1863”
We had 859 souls on board. The rules were read: First, see that no evil exists, that good order is
sustained, that cleanliness is kept in all the wards, that health may be preserved. It was also arranged
that each ward attend to their prayers morning and evening, when the night bell rang.
We were tossed about on the ocean in the fog for days. The captain told me he had lost his bearings and
when the fog lifted one day, we found our ship in the midst of fourteen icebergs. We sailed close by one of
The measles were brought on
board and we had fifty Saints
down at one time, children
and grown people, too. The
doctor was a poor excuse. He
went around the patients with
a bucket of salts and left a big
dose for everyone that was
sick. I told the captain, "It's
a mistake to give opening
medicine when the measles
are breaking out." "Well,
doctor them yourself," roared he for he was a barboiled, big faced man, grim and untidy, and he gave me
a medical book, saying, "Use the medicine I have along for the sailors. That doctor is a drunken sot, and
he was put on board to pacify the law. It will not do to quarrel with him for he might give us trouble.
The best way is to ignore him, and tend to the measles cases yourself." To somewhat counterbalance the
number of deaths, we have had six births; also two marriages
[ …] the outbreak of measles among the children,
through which we have had to regret the loss of twelve.
On the night of the 14th instant, one of the ship’s boys
carelessly got overboard, being at the time playing
among the chains on the outside of the bow of the ship,
which was traveling at the time at the rate of eight miles
an hour; the ship was put about, a boat was got out and
every exertion made to save him, but darkness speedily
coming on, nothing was seen of him; a buoy was thrown
him as he passed the stern of the ship, but whether he
got it or not we cannot say. This accident created quite a
consternation on board; for a time every mother thought
it was her own boy.
Contention and strife had no abiding with us; we had not one difficulty or dispute to settle, for each
seemed to bear with his neighbor and strove to overcome evil with good, realizing that they could not
have everything as convenient and comfortable on board a ship as they had at their former homes, and
the result was, that though we were so crowded together, many happy times were spent on board the
Cynosure, and the songs of Zion (Zion = Utah) were sung with a heartfelt gratitude to the Lord for the
deliverance he had thus far worked for us all.
The highest eulogium is due to Captain Williams for his kind, affable and gentlemanly manner towards
us all on board, - from ourselves to the crying infant in its mother’s lap, who wanted something softer
and sweeter than hard biscuit to cut its little teeth with. To the sick he has been very kind, supplying
them, in many instances, from his own table, although ample provisions were made for them by yourself.
His generosity and disposition to oblige will long be remembered by all the Saints on board. The other
officers of the ship, also, treated us all very gentlemanly.
19 July 1863 The Cynosure finally arrived in New York Harbor, with great joy.
We had been tossed about on the waters from June first till the nineteenth of July, but my responsibility
was not ended. We had two thousand miles yet to travel by land.
When we landed near the ship, "Amazon," which left sometime after us, from London, with a thousand
Saints on board and had entered the harbor two days ahead of us, yet we had never seen each other on
the way, there was a band (aboard Amazon) to play "Home, Sweet Home" in greeting. They had
supposed we were lost, but no, through all our perils God preserved us, and we landed safely
During this year's emigration of nearly six thousand men; women, and children reach the United States
from Europe. Others from the eastern states also joined the great emigration westward.
Vessel Rig Registry Tons Master No. LDS Pass. Depart. Port Depart. Date Arrival Port Arrival Date Passage Days Comp. Leader
Antarctic Ship U.S. 1116 G. Stouffer 486 Liv. 5-23-63 N.Y. 7-10-63 48 J. Needham
Cynosure Ship U.S. 1258 Drum or Wms. 775 Liv. 5-30-63 N.Y. 7-19-63 50 D. Stuart
Amazon Ship U.S. 1771 H. Hovey 895 London 6-4-63 N.Y. 7-18-63 44 W. Bramhall
Liv. = Liverpool, England – N.Y. = New York City, USA
ANCESTORS: Foster <1804> and Sarah Frances <1805> Gordon were aboard Cynosure
and Harriet L. Peacock <1836> was aboard Amazon.
They were part of the 2,156 LDS emigrant saints (aboard Antarctic, Cynosure, and Amazon) being
moved from New York City to Florence Nebraska. Many more saints from the Eastern U.S. were also
moving to Florence.
The American Civil War (1861–1865)
“New York City was all upset upon our arrival. Ten thousand soldiers were there from the front to
enforce the draft. The citizens had been unwilling to comply with the draft for the army, and soldiers
had to be sent from the field to enforce it.” The Civil War was in progress and the demand for every
mode of transportation and needed supplies was continually increasing,
New York City draft riots
The New York City draft riots (July 13 to July 16, 1863;
known at the time as Draft Week were violent
disturbances in New York City that were the
culmination of discontent with new laws passed by
Congress to draft men to fight in the ongoing American
Civil War. The riots were the largest civil insurrection in
American history apart from the Civil War itself
President Abraham Lincoln sent several regiments of
militia and volunteer troops to control the city. The
rioters were overwhelmingly working class men,
resentful, among other reasons, because the draft
unfairly affected them while sparing wealthier men, who
could afford to pay a $300 commutation fee to exclude
themselves from its reach
U.S. CIVIL WAR 1861 - 1865
Civil War during this time:
December 13, 1862 - Army of the Potomac under Gen. Burnside suffers a costly defeat at Fredericksburg
in Virginia with a loss of 12,653 men after 14 frontal assaults on well entrenched Rebels on Marye's
Heights. "We might as well have tried to take hell," a Union soldier remarks. Confederate losses are
January 1, 1863 - President Lincoln issues the final Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in
territories held by Confederates and emphasizes the enlisting of black soldiers in the Union Army.
March 3, 1863 - The U.S. Congress enacts a draft, affecting male citizens aged 20 to 45, but also exempts
those who pay $300 or provide a substitute. "The blood of a poor man is as precious as that of the
wealthy," poor Northerners complain.
June 1863 Robert E. Lee, with 75,000 Confederates, invaded Pennsylvania
June 28, 1863 - President Lincoln appoints Gen. George G. Meade as commander of the Army of the
Potomac, replacing Hooker. Meade is the 5th man to command the Army in less than a year.
July 1-3, 1863 - Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. The tide of war turns against the South as the
Confederates are defeated at Gettysburg.
July 4, 1863 - Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River, surrenders to Gen.
Grant and the Army of the West after a six week siege. With the Union now in control of the Mississippi,
the Confederacy is effectively split in two, cut off from its western allies.
July 13-16, 1863 - Anti-draft riots in New York City include arson and the murder of blacks by poor
immigrant whites. At least 120 persons, including children, are killed and $2 million in damage caused,
until Union soldiers returning from Gettysburg restore order.
July 18, 1863 - 'Negro troops' of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment under Col. Robert G. Shaw
assault fortified Rebels at Fort Wagner, South Carolina. Col. Shaw and half of the 600 men in the
regiment are killed.
August 10, 1863 - The president meets with abolitionist Frederick Douglass who pushes for full equality
for Union 'Negro troops.'
August 21, 1863 - At Lawrence, Kansas, pro-Confederate William C. Quantrill and 450 pro-slavery
followers raid the town and butcher 182 boys and men.
November 19 1863 – Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address dedicates a battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg,
IN NEW YORK
Autobiography of David M. Stuart “Cynosure”
“Now new troubles were to be met, and overcome. We had to travel two thousand five hundred miles by
land to Utah, by rail, by water, and by wagons from the Missouri River. The terminus of the railroad
was at Quincy, Illinois. There we had to take a steamboat up the Missouri to Omaha, or to Florence, six
miles above Omaha.”
NEW YORK TO FLORENCE
Autobiography of David M. Stuart – “Cynosure:
We landed at Castle Garden [New York] on the afternoon of the 21st
[July 1863] instant, and left there on the following morning for the
railway station in Thirty-second-Street, where we had to remain until 2
a.m. on the morning of the 23rd, on account of a bridge on the Hudson
River line having been damaged by a squall of wind which arose on the
morning of the 22nd. We reached Albany, NY about 3 p.m. on the 23rd,
and remained there until 12:30 noon of the 24th, when we left for the
Suspension Bridge, arriving there at noon on the 25th, where we were
immediately transferred to other cars and were speedily wending our
way to New Windsor. We reached that place at 7 a.m. on the morning of the 26th; crossed the river in a
ferry steam Quincy, ILL er to Detroit, MICH and took cars at 11 a.m. for Chicago, ILL where we arrived
about 9 a.m. on the 27th, and immediately left, without transferring the luggage - which we have had to
do at every other point - for Quincy, ILL where we arrived about 10 a.m. this morning 29th
(7-8 days trip)
and leave in the course of an hour or two for St. Joseph, MO.
The Amazon company is about 24 hours ahead of us; on coming through Canada a quantity of their
luggage was burnt [ … ]
They arranged to go up the river to Albany, instead of through New York State. We went on light
freighters behind a steam tug, where we took the railroad from Albany to Chicago and on to Quincy. At
Chicago, they put us on cattle trucks, as the passenger cars had all been burned, and we had "Hopkins
choice," for everything was under
military rule, and that was to rule or
On the way from Chicago, William
Hoggen's wife was taken sick, about to
be confined, and the cars jostled so, I
had to ask the conductor to stop at a
siding about half an hour. As we were
in a special train, he said with a great
oath, "I'd run these Mormons to hell, if
I could." I went in the car where Mrs.
Hoggen was, I had the women folks put up some quilts around her in a corner of the car, where she lay in
pain on the floor to be delivered.
“Autobiography of Lorenzo Hadley” ABOARD CYNOSURE
When we came to the Missouri River we got off the train and there was a warehouse there. We stayed in
this until the afternoon of the following day and then we got on a boat headed for Omaha, Nebraska.
This boat was run by steam and they burned wood for fuel and the boat crew would have to pull up to
the bank for wood and one time when they did this the boat stuck in the sand. The captain ordered all
able bodied men and women to walk up the bank about a mile and that when they got the boat out they
would blow a whistle and then pick us up. So daddy took my older brother and myself and we walked up
a roadway through the timber for about a mile. It was about nine or ten that night when we got back on
Another experience on this boat was when one of the crew lifted a trap door in the bottom of the boat and
then took a bucket to draw water up from the river. He forgot to replace the door and Thomas
Cunningham's smaller brother had become frightened when some mules in a stall nearby started kicking
and making a lot of noise. He became excited and fell through the trap door. They stopped the boat and
searched but never found a trace of his body. They thought he might have been struck by one of the
large wheels on either side of the boat.
CONT Autobiography of David M. Stuart
29 July 1863, we arrived in Quincy, Illinois where we took the steamboat for Florence, near Omaha.
Here the responsibility I had borne was put upon the captain of the companies, and I was appointed
chaplain in Captain Thomas Ricks Company, and acted as doctor and commissary all the way across the
FROM FLORENCE, NEB. TO SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
Departure Post Departure Date Company Captain - Company Name or No. Number of People Wagons Arrival Date Roster
Florence, Nebraska 6-Aug-1863 Daniel D. McArthur (5) About 500 75 3-Oct-1863 No roster
Florence, Nebraska 8-Aug-1863 Horton D. Haight (6) About 200 4-Oct-1863 No roster
Florence, Nebraska 9-Aug-1863 John W. Wooley (7) About 200 4-Oct-1863 No roster
Florence, Nebraska 10-Aug-1863 Thomas E. Ricks (8) About 400 4-Oct-1863 No roster
Florence, Nebraska 11-Aug-1863 Rosel Hyde (9) About 300 13-Oct-1863 No roster
Florence, Nebraska 14-Aug-1863 Samuel D. White (10) About 300 15-Oct-1863 No roster
The above link is for “Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868”
At this site you can view Mormon Pioneer History. Unfortunately, the Company’s leaving Florence, Neb. in
the latter half 1863 did not record rosters of passengers. However, at this site, you can get partial list of
people (those who wrote biographies and submitted them to Church Archives).
I have cross checked the list of individuals from the above companies and compared them to the passenger
lists of the “CYNOSURE”, Foster & Sarah F. Gordon, and the “AMAZON” Harriet L. Peacock.
Passengers from the CYNOSURE and the AMAZON are scattered among the various Co.’s. These Co.’s left
Florence and arrived in Salt Lake City very close to one another. In fact many accounts tell of people going
from one Co. to another during the evening to visit with friends and relatives.
Although we do not know which Co. they traveled with, the accounts included in these histories are hoped to
be representative of what they experienced.
Samuel and Elizabeth Brough and their four children left Liverpool on 30 May 1863 on the ship "Cynosure"
”They remained in Florence until 15 August 1863, waiting for the pipes for the Salt Lake Tabernacle
organ to arrive. They then started across the plains in the Samuel D. White Company. Several families
were allotted to each wagon. A bedridden woman rode in their wagon. Elizabeth walked much of the way
and carried her baby, 5 month old Liza. Mary walked part way but Jane rode because she was a cripple”.
“The company stopped one-half day each week for the women to wash. They washed their clothes in the
creek (without soap) and hung them on bushes to dry.”
“Snow had fallen before they reached Salt Lake City on 15 October 1863, making it cold and miserable.”
“Autobiography of Lorenzo Hadley” Passenger Aboard CYNOSURE
“On the tenth day of August 1863 we were loaded up and started for Utah under the direction of Captain
Thomas E. Ricks. There were seventy covered wagons in our train and some of the teamsters driving the
ox-teams were John E. Bitton, Miles Jones, Hammond Green, Bill Shafer, Caleb Parry and others. . . “
“. . . At Ft. Bridger about ten soldiers came up on horseback and asked at every one of our seventy
wagons if we had any powder. I don’t know if they got any or not but we didn’t have any extra.
My brother and I always slept under the wagon at night and this night we had a snow storm and Mother
hollered to us to cover up our heads. In the morning daddy got some sage brush to brush the snow off
our bed with. There were about four inches of snow on it. We went on down Emigration Canyon into
Salt Lake City and we arrived there on the fourth day of October. . . . “
“Record of George Hadley family by Mary Ann Hadley” Passenger Aboard CYNOSURE
“The ship’s company was divided in two companies to come from there to Salt Lake. The two oldest
sons, George & Walter drove in Captain Weiler’s and John W. Woolley train. The other members of the
family came in Captain Thomas E. Ricks & Captain Miles Jones’ train. Arrived in Salt Lake City on the
third of October, 1863.
“Hannah Molland Byington”
Another time a young buck from the Sioux tribe
stole some crackers from one of the wagons.
This was probably the first time Hannah had
ever seen an Indian or a buffalo. Was she
excited or was she just plain scared?
While crossing the Platte River, some teams on
the wagons ahead became entangled while
struggling in quicksand. The bedding and
clothing in the wagon fell into the water and
By the last weeks of the trek, the weather had cooled and now the nights and days were rather chilly.
They were a sorry looking crowd when they reached the valley-weary, dirty, ragged, with chapped and
Sometimes wood was scarce. The women, as they
walked along, would pick up buffalo chips to be
used with scanty bits of wood, gathered to make
the campfires. As the company traveled along
the well marked trail, they would pass newly-
made graves of some unfortunate person in the
company ahead. At the head of the grave was the
familiar buffalo skull to mark the spot. The
writing on the skull would sometimes be in
Danish, sometimes in German and other
inscriptions would be in English. The message
given by all was that some faithful saint had
perished on his way to his beloved Zion.
“Reminiscences and Diary of John Henry Hayes” Passenger Aboard CYNOSURE
“From New York we traveled by canal, railroad, and by steamboat from St. Joe, Missouri to Florence,
Nebraska. In our journey we saw many U.S. troops in training for that was the time of the Civil War.
We left Florence on the 15th of August in Captain Samuel D. White's ox train, it being the last company
of Latter-day Saint emigrants of the season. . . . we arrived in Salt Lake City...as it was then known, on
Thanksgiving Oct. 15th 1863 being just two months crossing the plains and four months and eighteen
days from [-] to Salt Lake City.”
1860’s Salt Lake City, Utah
By: Erma P. Gordon Anderson (additions by Joe Anderson) Continued
AFTER ARRIVAL IN SALT LAKE VALLEY
His son, John Henry b:1826, and his family had arrived in SLC, Utah between 1855 & 1857. The family
first settled in the [Salt Lake] 10th Ward.
Late 1863-64 Then they (John Henry b:1826 and family) lived in Hoytsville. Robert Gordon’s father
(John Henry) and grandfather (Foster Gordon b:1801) were stone masons by trade and they built a flour
mill in Coalville.
Coalville, UT circa 1879
Coalville was founded in 1859 by William
Henderson Smith, an early Mormon freighter. He
noticed that wheat spilled by other wagons moving
through the area would grow to maturity. He
subsequently convinced four families to settle in the
area with him. The settlement was originally called
Chalk Creek. Early life in Chalk Creek was
difficult, and during winters the settlers dealt with
a constant scarcity of food. When food ran out,
they would travel to Salt Lake City for supplies.
The local Indians were also hostile for a time, and
the settlers built a fort on advice of Brigham
In 1854 the territorial government in Utah offered a $1000 reward to anyone who could find coal within
40 miles of Salt Lake City. Four years later, Thomas Rhodes found a coal vein in the Chalk Creek area,
and coal mining began in earnest. Hundreds of tons of coal were shipped to Salt Lake City, and soon a
narrow gauge railroad was built. The settlement was renamed Coalville as a result of this early success
The many British workers who came to Coalville also made a difference in the character of the
population. They had been converted by the missionaries and came in response to the call for men to
work on the Union Pacific Railroad construction. Or, they had formerly worked in the collieries of
England and the Church agents directed them to Coalville…Although these Britishers were devoted to
the Church and loved their community, they never completely divested themselves of their cultural
heritage." 2, pgs 194-195 "We have learned that the population contained so many persons from Great
Britain that Coalville must have seemed like a transplanted Yorkshire village, since so many of the
Coalville citizens originated in that county of England. 2, pgs 87-88
RUSH VALLEY CITY
Rush Valley City (Tooele) is the new name for the recent merging of Clover and Saint John.
Clover is a small agricultural community on the east side of Johnsons Pass on Clover Creek and U-125.
The settlement was originally named Johnsons Settlement for Luke S. Johnson, an early settler. The
name was then changed to Shambip, a Goshute Indian word for rush or bulrush plants. Shambip was
then called Johnson up until 1856 when G. S. Craig renamed the town Clover after a nearby flat covered
with native clover. At this time, John Bennion built a small cabin and wintered a few cattle in the area.
Foster & Sarah Frances Gordon History continued
They (Foster & Sarah Frances Gordon) came to settled in, Clover, Tooele Co., Utah, and later made their
home on a ranch (at a later date the Samuel Park Ranch) which was located about ten miles west of
Clover/St. John, Tooele Co., Utah, and in what is called Skull Valley. At the time they left England
(1863), Mr. Foster Gordon was listed as a stone mason and his age was given as 59 and his wife's age as
Samuel Park Ranch (Hatch Ranch) is near Terra, Utah
eBooks Google.com Andrew Jensen, "1865, Foster Gordon found murdered in Skull Valley’
CHURCH CRONOLOGY 1865 Page 78 – Last Entry bottom of 2nd
According to Church Chronology compiled by the Church Historian, Andrew Jensen, "On Sunday, 22
October 1865, Foster Gordon and his wife were found murdered in Skull Valley; four discharged soldiers
were suspected of the crime.”
About forty years later a man who lay on his death bed in Nevada asked that a lawyer be brought to his
bedside as he wanted to make a confession. He made his confession which was that he, whose last name was
Ghee, and another nineteen year old boy, whose name was John Nerberry, went to the home of Foster
Gordon on the 22 day of October 1865, and asked Mr. Gordon to show them where the spring was, so he
took them to the spring where they shot and killed him. They then went back to the house and asked Mrs.
Gordon to give them the money which they figured was hidden there. Frances, realizing that they had
killed her husband and would kill her too, refused. So the two youths beat her to death, but she never
revealed to them the whereabouts of any money. It is not known whether they found any money or not,
but when Frances' body was found, there was sixty dollars in her apron pocket.
“The History of Rush Valley” By: Lacey Russell Burrows, Page 111
Foster and Sarah Francis Gordon, were murdered on a ranch in Skull Valley.
The old gentleman and his wife [Foster & Sarah Gordon] were living there alone at the time, making a
sort of home for the herders (when they were there) as this was a stock ranch on what was known as
Woodmansee's and Whitney's ranch [a.k.a. Park Ranch, at a later date]. They may have also raised silk
In May 1865, someone went to the ranch and found both the old people had been murdered. It was
supposed that they were killed by white hands and not Indians. Sarah had been preparing them
something to eat and had set the table for 3 persons, as the table was still standing with 3 plates and other
dishes for 3 persons. A note had been written and fastened to the gate of the corral saying to let out the
calves and cows, as it was a custom of the old people to keep the calves shut up in the corral in the
daytime and let the cows go out to feed so they would come back to the calves at night where they could
There had been rumors that these old people had money, as they had recently come from Scotland. Those
who had done the killing had torn the bedding to pieces and ransacked the house, but it was assumed that
they found no money. The old lady was killed in the log house – probably beaten to death, her body was
dragged out and thrown into a spring hole, while the old gentleman was killed out in the field. Days after,
someone from Rush Valley went there. They were attracted by the cows bawling for their calves on the
inside of the corral where the calves had nearly starved to death.
The couple was buried at the ranch. Several months after the murder a visitor to the ranch noticed
Sarah's hair was still visible where it had been caught on a knot where they had dragged the body
through the door. Nobody was ever apprehended for this dastardly crime. Many years later, a man who
lived in Tooele as a young boy, confessed to the murder on his deathbed and also implicated another
young man who was his accomplice. However the mystery was never solved.
Frances and Foster were buried on the Samuel Park Ranch 1865
96 years later - 1961
THE STORY OF FINDING AND MARKING THE GRAVE OF
FOSTER JOHN GORDON AND HIS WIFE, SARAH FRANCES HOGG
By: Erma P. Gordon Anderson
After reading and knowing of the grave of my
great great grandfather and mother which is
located in Skull Valley, Utah, I became very
concerned that no one of our family knew just
where the grave was located. In 1961, one fine
Sunday afternoon, my husband, Elmer
Anderson, myself and by brother and sister-in-
law, Keith and Viola Somsen (sister to Elmer
Anderson), went for a drive to Clover, Utah
where there were places of interest of both
families. While riding and relating the story of
my great great grandfather and grandmother,
we all became very interested in finding the spot
where the murder took place.
So we went to Skull Valley. We found the Hatch Brother Farm (formerly known as the Samuel Park
Ranch, who is also my ancestor). We knew around this vicinity was where it happened. Many stories had
circulated and had been repeated of this incident. There were men who lived in Tooele who had known of
I went to the farm home (a very beautiful farm and well kept). There lived a caretaker of the farm and
his family in a white frame home. I talked with them for a while and told them who I was and what we
had come for. She was very gracious and said she had heard the story before. When she heard of it she
had gone further up on the hill and found the place. She took us about two miles up to the foot hills and
to the place of the homestead. There was evidence of a home having long since been there. There was a
cool creek running by where the house had stood. There was evidence of an apple orchard. Then she
showed us where the bodies were buried. The story is that about three days after the murder, some
people found the bodies. They wrapped them and buried them in a deposit of limestone which was
located about fifty yards south of the home. Then they reported it to the authorities.
I felt good to know, at last, where our ancestors lay. We took pictures that day of the grave site.
1961 Erma P. Gordon Anderson at Foster & Sarah Gordon gravesite
At our next family reunion I took the pictures and told of our trip. We decided, as a family, that the grave
should be marked. But years passed and I felt very strongly that I should do something. After talking
with Beth Lawrence (my cousin), we decided this year it had to be done.
I had the marker made with their names on it. "Foster and Frances Gordon, dates 1804 to 1865”.
On September 7, 1974, my husband and I went to find the grave site again. When we arrived at the farm
home, the family I had known had long since moved away. At this time, two men were running the farm.
(The owners lived in Denver, Colorado.)
We got permission to go up on the hill. We drove up there, but my memory was very vague as to where
we went before. We drove way up on the hill. We looked around for awhile and I was sure we were in the
wrong spot. We had prayer and I began to walk. I walked for about two hours and there wasn't anything
familiar. I was worried about my husband who had, just one week earlier, been in the hospital for let
stripping. I knew he was very much overdoing, but he kept encouraging me. After about four hours we
decided to come home. I was very discouraged and hot, sunburned and dirty. All week I prayed that I
might go back and find the spot. I looked at the first pictures and felt sure I could go back and find the
I called and talked with my niece, Evelyn Pierce. She was enthused and wanted to go out there too. So, on
the 14 September, 1974, we packed a lunch and Evelyn Pierce & Tom (her husband), & daughter, Vicki,
myself and my wonderful encourager, Elmer J went back to Skull Valley.
We drove up on the foothill and walked about one half mile north of the road. There we came to the
clearing and opening and I was sure of it. We looked around to get my bearing as to the picture of it
before. There we found where the house had been, where the little corral had been. We found the
gravesite and it was a wonderful feeling and satisfying. We prepared the spot for the marker and the men
made the cement and we placed the stone there after one hundred and ten years. We decorated and took
About 3 weeks later, Evelyn Pierce, her daughter and her Father and Mother, LeRoy and Loe Gordon
and myself (Erma P. Gordon Anderson) met Beth Lawrence and her husband, Clair, in Tooele and went
back to the gravesite; took more pictures and had lunch.
When the stone was placed on that day Tom dug around inside the little home foundation. There he
found a small pair of English scissors and a tablespoon. We felt very close to our ancestors. Next day,
Sunday morning, in Sunday School we sang "There Is Beauty All Around". Never before had their spirit
touched me as that. I felt Frances' arms around me saying, "Thanks." And thanks are to God we could
find and do this thing for two wonderful people, our great, great grandfather and grandmother.
Your tombstone stands neglected and alone.
The name and date are chiseled out on polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who care. It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist. You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you in flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our heart contracts and beats a pulse entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled so many years ago.
Spreads out among the ones you left who would have loved you so.
I wonder as you lived and loved, I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot and come to visit you.
INSTALLING THE HEADSTONE
FIND A GRAVE
Sarah Frances Hogg Gordon
Elmer & Erma Anderson at gravesite
LeRoy & Loe Gordon Decendants: Beth, Erma & LeRoy Gordon
Beth, Erma, LeRoy – Gordon Ancestors
WHO KILLED THE GORDONS IN SKULL VALLEY
Foster Gordon (b: 1801) and wife Sarah Frances Hogg Gordon (b: 1805)
From a local (Tooele Co., Utah) newspaper article
(Editor's Note: Following the story in last Wednesday's paper, "Discovery of Grave and Ancient Pistol at
Johnson's Pass", the following letter was received from Mrs. Mary Bevan Brown in which she says, "I
enclose this story, taken from my father's book, "Early Pioneer History of Tooele". Mrs. Brown's father
was John A. Bevan.)
It might have been better not to have written anything about this dastardly deed and let the past be
forgotten. But as I consider that it is a strain on Tooele County and, so far as I know, nothing has ever
been written about it and in time to come there may be some misunderstanding about it, I thought it best
to write what I remember about it.
It happened about the year 1867 or 1868 (22 October 1865 – family & Church records) over in Skull Valley
at what we have since called Park Ranch, but I think it was then owned by a Mr. Woodmancy of Salt
Lake City. It is situated about three miles southwest from Johnson's Pass, more west than south, and was
among a forest of cedars in what I thought a very lonely place in those days.
This old gentleman and his wife (Foster & Frances Gordon) were living there alone at the time making a
sort of a home for the herders, when they were there, as this was a stock ranch and a very good one for
those days. It was in the spring of the year, probably in the month of May, when some one went to the
ranch and found that the old people had both been murdered by white men. I say white men because it
was very evident that it had not been Indians.
It seems that the old lady had been preparing them something to eat and had set the table for three
persons, as the table was standing with the three plates on it and other dishes for three persons. A note
had been written and fastened to the gate of the corral saying to let out the calves and the cows. It was the
custom of the old people to keep the calves shut up in the corral in the daytime and let the cows go out to
feed so that they would come back to the calves at night where they could be milked. So by these
indications it was evident that it was white men and not Indians who had done the bloody deed.
There had been rumors that these old people had money, as they had recently come from the old country.
They were Scotch. Those who did the killing had torn the bedding to pieces and ransacked the house
from one end to the other, but it was supposed that they found no money.
The old lady was killed in the house, a log house, probably beaten to death, her body dragged out and
thrown into a spring hole, while the old gentleman was killed out in the fields. The day after the deed was
done, or it might have been the next day, someone from Rush Valley went there. They were attracted by
the cows bawling for their calves - the cows on the outside and calves on the inside of the corral nearly
starved to death.
As I now remember, the bodies were buried at the ranch. As I said, this happened in the spring and I was
at the place the next fall. I helped one of the herders take some oxen that he had driven from Salt Lake. I
helped. him drive this herd of oxen from Tooele over Johnson's Pass and it was in the night when we got
When we got the cattle over the pass, we went down to the ranch where there were other men staying,
and in the morning he showed me some of the old lady's hair that had been caught on a knot of the log
where they had dragged the body through the door. He said that Mrs. Gordon was like a mother to him,
and if he could get a clue as to who murdered them, he would follow them to the end of the earth until he
Nobody was ever apprehended for this dastardly crime.
NOTE: I have been told recently that a certain man, who then lived in Tooele and was but a boy then,
had made a confession on his deathbed that he had a hand in the killing and he also implicated another
young man who also lived here. Neither of these men were more than three years older than I at the time,
and I feel quite sure that if they had anything to do with it, they were drawn into it by older men.
However, they are all dead now and the mystery was never solved. By: Mrs. Mary Bevan Brown Tooele
NOTE: with the above account (from Beth Gordon Lawrence, Born 1913).
According to Uncle Harvey (David Harvey Gordon, Born 1883, Clover Creek, Tooele Co. Utah) the story
is complete in detail but this happened two or three years earlier than the dates given (1867 or 1868),
(Church Historian, Andrew Jensen, "On Sunday, 22 October 1865, Foster Gordon and his wife were
found murdered in Skull Valley). He got his authority from Aunt Ellen H. Park (Born:1874 who’s father
was Samuel Park, Jr.) who also remembers something about the event.
My Father, Foster John Gordon, (Born: 1874, Clover Creek, Tooele Co., Utah – great grandson to Foster
& Sarah Frances Gordon)) was asked to go to Las Vegas, Nevada, to hear the confession of some fellow
who was dying. He could not go for some reason, and he was sent a letter with this fellow's deathbed
confession in it. I do not know what happened to the letter, but he told me about it several times.
Skull Valley, Utah