Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, January 23, 1862, the second son and third child of Ann Ham and Bishop William H . Hickenlooper, as told to his daughter Della.
Like Nephi of old, I can say I was born of goodly parents. Owing to their teachings, and the tact and foresight of my father’s second wife, Aunt Sarah or “Aunty” as we called her, I am largely indebted for my faith in the Gospel and for my desire to do right as a boy. They taught honesty, integrity, charity to others faults, liberality, patience and virtue, in their daily lives as well as by precept.
My father’s grandfather, Andrew Hickenlooper, Sr., came to this country from Germany, and knew pioneer life in early America. My grandfather Andrew, Jr., served three terms of enlistment in the Revolutionary War with the Colony of Pennsylvania. My mother’s Grandfather John Ham also fought in the Revolutionary War for good old England [must be an earlier generation]. My father joined the Latter-day Saints Church in February 1839 in Pennsylvania and came to Utah with the second company of pioneers arriving in Salt Lake City, September 22, 1847; and my mother joined the Church in Birmingham, England, on March 18, 1854, and came to Utah, September 26, 1856, with the first hand-cart company of pioneers.
My father’s family consisted of father and his three wives: Sarah Hawkins born June 1, 1803, and their children were John T., Belinda Wade, and Jane Thornton, all born in Pennsylvnia; Sarah Cordelia Ward, born July 6, 1819, and their children, William C., and Rebecca McEwan; my mother, Ann Ham, born January 1, 1825, and her children were Orson, Rachel McLone, Olive, myself, and a younger brother George, all born in Salt Lake City. Father built an adobe house at 446 South 2nd West, just one-half block south of Pioneer Park. As the family grew, he enlarged it and Aunty lived there until she died in 1913 at the age of ninety-one. The house stood until 1930 when it was torn down. We all lived in the same house and ate at the same table. We all loved and respected each other and lived in harmony and peace. I never knew of a cross word to pass between father and his wives. The first wife died when I was four years old.
Each family of saints was allowed to take up five acres of land of what was known as the “Big Field in the Sugar House district and the saints could also homestead land on the Jordan River. Here father had sixty acres. When I was about ten years old my father built a house on the farm where Aunty moved to and [I] lived with her a goodly portion of the time and did the chores and in the summer herded cows. My constant companion was a very faithful and well-trained dog called “Sailor”. I used to ride a pony from the farm to school. I would feed the horse in the barn at the city home and eat my lunch with my mother. She ran the Sixth Ward Co-op store.
Every fall father allowed Indians to camp in our field and pasture their horses there while the Indians sold their blanket, pelts, and other goods they had to sell, and bought supplies. I used to like to play with the Indian boys. We would run foot races and horse races, wrestle, and have other contest such as swimming in the river, and occasionally, rigging up a raft for boating. Mother and Aunty both tried to get us not to play any of the games where we would have to touch the Indians boys for as surely as we did come in close contact with them we would get lice on us. Then we would have a terrible time to get rid of them again.
In the winters we used to snow ball and skate, sleigh-ride on home made sleds, and when spring came we’d play marbles, spin tops, fly kites, play mumble peg and ball, just as children do now-a-days, except that most of the toys were home-made.
Educational advantages were very meager in those days. Children went to school only a few months in the winter time, after they were old enough to work. Being a quick-tempered mischievous boy, my school days were rather stormy and came to an abrupt end when I was about fourteen years old. Teachers believed that to spare the rod would spoil the child, and they took a great deal of pains to see that I did not spoil. My father believed that if a child got into trouble at school and received a whipping for it from the teacher, he should get another one at home from his parents.
On this occasion it was some inconsequential thing that started the trouble. I did not happen to be mixed up in it that time, but the teacher thought that I was. Finally the teacher said, “If you didn’t do it, who did?” and I would not tell him. He grabbed his apple-wood stick and gave me the whaling of my life. When I had taken about all I could stand, I suddenly hit him in the nose and kicked his shins. As luck would have it, the back door of the school house was open and I ran out. Instead of going to father and mother at the city house, I went right out to the farm to Aunty and told her all about it, and that I would not go back and would not take another licking from father. I asked her to hurry and help me tie up a few clothes, that I had decided to run away from home, and I must go before father got to hear of the trouble and came out there. She tried to talk me out of it but my mind was made up. I had decided to go to Bingham Canyon and work in the mines. They gave good wages, board and bunk, and many of our neighbors and acquaintances had gone out there to work. Aunt Sarah was very sympathetic and logical in her talk, telling me that the Lord had something better in store for me than going in to such rough company and being cut off from my family and home. After arguing and reasoning and I still would not give in, she told me to wait awhile and she would talk with father before he talked with me. At last I consented to do that.
We had talked so long that we soon saw father coming. Aunty told me to go down by the river in the brush and keep out of his way until she could talk to him. I did, and after he had gone she did not seem to feel right sure that everything would be all right. Father came down to the farm every day for several days but he never could find me. At last he surprised us and walked in one morning while we were eating breakfast. But Aunty and Mother had talked with him and persuaded him not to force me back to school and he had had time to look at it from every angle. So when we met he proffered to get me a job with Mr. Hilton, a friend of his who had a brick yard. Here I worked one year. I have always felt thankful to Aunt Sarah for her diplomacy in handling the situation, and dread to think of what might have happened if I had left home at that time with such bitterness in my heart, to mingle in the rough element of miners.
Until this time I had paid but little attention to trying to control my temper, and it was getting really alarming to my mother. On one occasion when we were having a heart-to-heart talk, she said, “Charley, my boy, with you it is a word and a blow, but often the blow comes first. I’m really afraid that sometime when you give way to anger as you do, that you will do something you will be sorry for all the rest of your life.” This set me to thinking and from that time on I resolved to do better. In looking back, I regard it as a turning point in my life and many times I have been complimented for the way I was able to control my temper.
When I was a deacon we used to have to do the janitor work in the ward meetinghouse – sweep, dust, make fires, take out ashes and, what seemed the biggest chore of all was filling, trimming the wicks, and polishing the chimneys of the twenty-five lamps that lighted our church. I was second counselor in the Deacons Quorum of the Sixth Ward.
During the year I worked at Hilton’s, I bought a pony and the following year I worked for Morris and Evans in the firebrick yard and bought another small horse. This little team I traded for a span of wild horses from the Porter Rockwell Ranch. My brother Orson helped me break them and they proved to be an exceptionally good team of which I was very proud. The following year (1879) I hauled sand and gravel and lime for Morris and Evans with my team and received $3.50 a day, while single-handed I had earned only $1.00 a day.
Father sold our farm on Jordan River and bought one in what is now Pleasant View, Weber County, Utah. Mother was anxious to get her boys out of the city, so she sacrificed her comfortable home in Salt Lake City and moved to a one-room log house on a farm in North Ogden. This was in the early spring of 1880 when I was 18. That winter my nephew, Edward W. Wade, was teaching school and I attended a few weeks. The girl whom I afterwards married, Medora Blanchard, taught the beginners in the same room. There were students in those days all the way from beginners to married men with families, trying to take advantage of what schooling there was to be had. The subjects taught were arithmetic, reading, spelling and writing.
That fall about November 10th, I went with a crew of men from here to work for the D&RG Railroad in Colorado. Bishop Josiah Ferrin of Eden was the contractor; he had two carloads of horses, a carload of machinery — scrapers, plows, etc., and 127 men. The bedding of some of the men, including my own was in a car ahead of us with the tools. When we were about sixty miles south of Colorado Springs, about 4 o’clock in the morning, our train was derailed and the car I was in tipped over. There was a big fire in the stove and everything that could burn was burned up. The windows were broken, doors were twisted out of shape, and there was great excitement as we tried to get out.
The doors of the cars the horses were in came open and the animals got loose. The snow was so deep that they could not travel very fast or far, but we had to get out in the deep snow and round them all up and get them back into the cars. The railroad company took advantage of Bishop Ferrin and ran his horses and machinery down to Santa Fe, New Mexico, about 250 miles away. Their object was to force his 127 men to help lay the tracks over the mountains before winter was any worse. The bedding belonging to four of us went with the tools to New Mexico and we were left without even a blanket and for nine nights we had to sleep on the tables. The temperature was way below zero on that high mountain and although we had plenty of coal and we would be warm when we went to bed, those thin boxcars did not hold the heat, and we would wake up in the night nearly frozen.
We four decided to leave and see if we could get something else to do where we could sleep warm. The other three went to freighting with some mule teams, but I went into a saloon tending bar. Here I was tempted more than at any other time in my life. The owner of the saloon took sick just a day or two after I got there, which left me alone a good part of the time and I had plenty of opportunity to take money. Often the old freighters would come in and throw down a twenty-dollar gold piece, treat everybody in the house, and say to me, “Kid, you keep track of the change, and when it’s gone, let me know.” I doubt if anyone else would have ever known whether I had taken any or not, because they all left it up to me.
I also resisted the temptation to drink any kind of liquor, although I could have had as much as I wanted. As I look back, I am so thankful that although I was so terrible homesick and could have soon had the $62.35 (the price of the fare home), I did not take one penny. And I am sure that if I had done so, I would never have been worthy to hold the responsible positions that I have held. I received three good meals a day and a good warm bed to sleep in every night for the three weeks I was there and one dollar a day.
After Bishop Ferrin got things adjusted with the railroad company and got my bedding back, I went to work for him as we planned in the beginning, and I returned home in April in time to help put in the spring crops. We built Mother a four-room house that year.
On December 13, 1883 Medora Blanchard became my wife. She was the daughter of Emma Bocock, a pioneer of 1857 of England, and Alma Blanchard, a convert from Michigan who came to Utah in 1852. We were married by President Daniel H. Wells in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, after a courtship of two years. One year later, December 4, 1884, our first child was born. We named him William Alma in honor of his two grandfather.
January 14, 1888 my father died at the age of 83. At his death he had the distinction of being the oldest Bishop in the Church in years of service as well as of age. At the time he was stricken ill, he was making a yearly visit to all people living in the 6th Ward and happened to be at a neighbor’s house just a few doors away. He was taken home where he died a few hours later.
We were living in Pleasant View at the time and mother was very ill this particular night, and we feared she would not last till morning. We decided not to tell her that father had died but to tell her he was very sick, so as not to shock her too much. It fell to my lot to tell her this, but when I told her, she said, “Your father has already gone and I will soon be with him.” She lingered till the fifth week after his death and passed away on the 17th of February, 1888.
In the following summer when I was taking my wife to Ogden in a wagon, our horses ran away and she was thrown out. We had many anxious moments during the next few weeks when our third baby Della was born September 24, 1888. We were very thankful that she was normal and everything was all right. On the day she was born, my wife received money from her mother’s legacy in England and this helped considerably in building us a new brick house. I hauled the sand, rock, and brick, and gu the foundation. My brother Orson and I did the mason and brickwork and helped Bishop Wade with the carpenter work. We were proud of our new home. Brother Orson and I built the Tabernacle in Willard, Box Elder County, and the homes of George and Prior Facer, Beechers, Owens, and Daltons, and the rock work for the Dick Smith house in North Ogden.
In the summer of 1895, I received a call from President Wilford Woodruff to go on a mission to the Southern States. I left my wife and family of five little children September 24, 1895 and our sixth child, Merl, was born February 14, 1896. It was very hard for me to leave them, especially so because of some dreams I had about the time I received my call in which it seemed that I was given a chance to deny my faith or be killed. Many of the elders really were mobbed, and a few had been killed, so these dreams did not add to my peace of mind. But the Lord watched over us all. I had all I needed to eat — although sometimes I would get pretty hungry between meals – and a bed to sleep in every night.
I had many and varied experiences, many cases of healing, for which I am thankful indeed. My companion and I were assigned to open up a district in Cane Creek, Lewis County, where missionaries had not been since Elders Givvs and Berry were killed by a mob. A number of the Saints had remained true to the faith for the eleven years since this mobbing and we were received with open arms by them. Among the four we baptized a Shady Grove was “Grandma” Church who had been a mother to the missionaries for forty years, doing anything she could for them. Her husband was president of the Branch and although she had heard John Morgan, B.H. Roberts, Golden Kimball, and many others preach and explain the gospel, she had never embraced it until now when we had the privilege of baptizing her. It was a Shady Grove that B.H. Roberts disguised himself and got the bodies of the martyred elders Berry and Givvs. Much of the time we traveled without money, commonly spoken of as “without purse or scrip.” The Lord blessed me and also my family, but I feel that my wife really had the hard part of the mission and I received the honor and glory.
I returned home July 5, 1897, having been selected by Bishop Edward W. Wade to be his second counselor in the bishopric, and was set apart for that position July 19, 1897 by Stake President Lewis W. Shurtleff. When Bishop Wade moved to Ogden, I was set apart to be bishop of the Pleasant View Ward, Weber Stake, February 24, 1901, by George Teasdale.
During the seventeen years, I was in the bishopric, we had our ups and downs trying to officer the different organizations with a very small membership. During Bishop Wade’s term of office, it was a pioneering period in a new ward. It might be characterized as a time of transition while I served as father of the ward. Classwork was introduced in priesthood quorums and auxiliary organizations. Fast offerings and tithing were paid in produce or “kind,” as it was called, and saints had to be trained to pay their offerings in cash rather than in produce. Up to this time, nearly all missionaries called were married men with families, but after 1900 it was getting to be customary for young, unmarried men to go. We sent out many worthy young representatives from our ward, including Helen Maycock, one of the first lady missionaries. During this time also, janitors were hired to keep the meetinghouses in order instead of having to have it done by the deacons.
Now we have automobiles to take us where we need to go, but in those days all travel was with horses. So stake visitors who came to the ward must be entertained by the Bishop. Ward members were mostly loyal and true and the pleasure far outweighed the disagreeable things.
In December 1910, the first death occurred in our family: Lottie, ten years old, died of scarlet fever. November 28, 1922, our eldest child Will died of peritonitis, leaving a wife and baby son.
I was a pioneer in this part of the country in grading and packing fruit and of pest control in orchards, especially San Hose scale. I served the people of Weber County as Fruit Tree Inspector and later [was] appointed State Fruit Tree Inspector. I was also a member of the State Horticultural Board and a member of the State Fair Board. In these positions, I was privileged to take fruit exhibits to many state fairs: California, Idaho, New Mexico, Vancouver, British Columbia. Many cups and sweepstakes that we won with Utah fruit have a prominent place in the State Capitol building.
Before the consolidation of schools, I served as school trustee for the Pleasant View precinct three years, being successively secretary, board member, and president of the board. I served as constable for our little town and had many interesting experiences among which was to get a drunken Indian to the county jail in Ogden.
May 1913 we returned to Salt Lake City to make our home. Since living here, I have filled a home mission for the Stake, been president of the Second Ward High Priests, and at present am chairman of the ward genealogical group. I have been a ward reacher and a Sunday School teacher a good part of my life. I have administered to the sick many times, wherever I have lived, and especially been called a great deal from all over the city since I lived here.