Esther C King (1858)

September 24, 1858 – April 10, 1923

The Mormon settlers had been in Salt Lake City a very few years when Brigham Young told them to settle different parts of the territory of Utah. It was in 1854 that this colonization began. One destination was Fillmore. Fillmore was becoming an industrious city. Homes were being built and farmland cleared rapidly. As well as doing this, they had to be very careful how they treated the vast tribes of Piute Indians that were everywhere at this time.

It was in this new settlement that Culbert and Eliza Esther McCullough King made their home. Their house was a lovely place for this time. It was located half way up Main Street on the east side of town. This nice comfortable home of one room was made of red brick. The house had a fireplace, which was used for all cooking purposes. There was a bed, a table, a few chairs, and a small cradle, which was all, made out of their Utah grown trees.

Culbert King’s occupation was a farmer and stock raiser. Some of their choicest animals were a pair of horses named Ned and George, and two excellent milk cows called Red and Cherry.

September 1858 rolled along. The cold north wind began to blow, proving that fall was near. Settlers of this community began to harvest their farm products, so there would be ample supply of food for the coming winter.

Through all this excitement, a baby girl was born to Culbert King, and his wife on the 24th of that month. She was given the name of Esther Clarinda King.

The future held sorrow, happiness, and joy for this small baby girl, whom I am going to tell you about. She grew up like other girls of the time, learning how to sew and cook, but her life was filled with many exciting experiences.

Clarinda’s father was very friendly with the Indians, and especially with an Indian interpreter. One time this Indian came to their home on a visit. Esther Clarinda came into the room just as jolly as any three-year-old girl could be. She was full of fun. This Indian looked at her and said, “This is the prettiest papoose I have ever seen.” He coaxed her father to let him have her, but her father said no, to wait until she was older. The Indian left. Very little was seen of him in the next few years. Time went by and nothing was thought of this statement her father made. When Clarinda reached the age of sixteen, she was very beautiful, with long light-brown hair which was in ringlets. The Indian Chief returned bringing with him many beautiful ponies, decorated in the most lustrous colors and fancies of the time. He told them, “Me come after papoose you promised.” Her father was amazed. He told the Indian he could not have the white girl. She belonged to him. The Indian Chief was very angry at the white man, but Clarinda did not go with the Indian.

At the age of eleven, the first tragedy came into her life. A very dear sister, Ida, age nine, was burned to death. Her mother had gone to the neighbors to visit. Ida and her girl friend were playing house with long dresses on. Their long dresses were very frail. Ida ran past the open fireplace, and her dress caught fire. She screamed, but before Clarinda could do anything to help, Ida’s dress was burned. Clarinda grabbed the milk that was on a nearby stand and threw it on Ida. Ida’s burns were so severe that she died within a few hours in the arms of Clarinda. It was hard for Clarinda to get over this tragedy.

At the age of twelve, she went to school at the Fillmore Academy. She attended this school for four years. During this time she lived with her grandmother, Matilda Robinson King. Also attending the same school with her was her cousin, William H. King, later to become a U.S. Senator from Utah.

Clarinda received an excellent education for a girl of this time. Girls were not encouraged to go to school. They were only expected to learn homemaking, which was usually taught at home. Clarinda was quick to lean and became one of the best readers in town. Later on, she was one of the main readers in the United Order, and also became one of the best Indian interpreters.

During the summer months her family would live on ranches. Then in the fall, they would move back to Kanosh where they made their home for a number of years. Her father severed as Bishop in Kanosh for fifteen years.

One of their ranches was located where the Otter Creek Reservoir now stands. It is located three miles north of Antimony, Utah. Clarinda’s father was often away from home when he was needed most. Her father had been in Kingston a number of days when their flour supply began to run low. They needed it very much. It was early fall, and they days began to get shorter and very cool. Clarinda decided she would go after flour. Her mother tried to discourage her because of the many Indians that circulated around that part of the country.

Clarinda went anyway. She rode her faithful horse, George. As she neared the cottonwoods all was safe. She looked up, and to her surprise she saw a great number of Navajo Indians coming toward her. She wondered what she would do. If she turned around and galloped toward home they would probably send scouts after her. There was one chance left— face the Navajo Indians. She prayed a silent prayer that all would be well. As she neared them she knew she must not appear afraid. The Indians split up—half on one side of the road and half on the other side. Clarinda rode her horse slowly down the middle of them. When she reached the end, the very last Indian said, in his Indian language, “Good night.” After going a little way farther, she began to gallop her horse as fast as possible.

Even though her parents had better things than most people at this time, they could buy her only one pair of shoes a year. Usually she saved them for best, and wore shoes made from the skins of animals for everyday. She would walk to church barefoot. When she reached the door of the church she would put her shoes on. After church she would go out of the church building, walk a short distance, then take her shoes off and walk home barefoot.

After her parents moved to Kanosh, she became one of the prominent young women at that community. Because of good horsemanship, beauty, and being so likable, she was chosen to be the Goddess of Liberty in one of the Fourth of July celebrations. Her mother made her a beautiful bright dress. On the day of that great event, she led the big parade on her favorite horse, George. The horse was so well trained that it pranced beautifully. Many of her younger sisters were on the sidelines, feeling mighty proud of their sister. Finishing up the parade was a group of well-painted Indians.

Clarinda’s father had another ranch a short distance from Kanosh. Clarinda was a young woman of fourteen or fifteen when the following event occurred. There was a friendly Indian working for them. One night he came and told them they must leave at once, that the Indians in a nearby camp were on the warpath. He said it in a very serious way. He told them he knew their signs. Every time they were on a warpath they would build large bonfires and dance around them.

They decided they would take the friendly Indian’s advice. They took very few things. Driving the wagon as swiftly as possible, they began on their journey. Toward sundown they reached another ranch. It was ten miles distant. They stayed here all night. Early the next morning, the two families left for Kanosh, and arrived late that evening.

They heard no word about the ranches. Two or three weeks passed by, then the friendly Indian came to town. He told them the Indians came that night. He tried as hard as he could to save the place, but was unable to do so. If they had stayed, they would have been scalped alive, or massacred.

Probably one of Clarinda’s greatest assets was that she was always trustworthy. At the age of seventeen, she began to think a lot of George Black, whom she later married. One of her best girl friends wanted her to go home with anther boy because she had seen George Black leave with anther girl. Clarinda had promised George she would wait, so she could not go with this other boy. Later that evening, George returned. He told her he had walked home with this girl because she asked him to.

Clarinda and George had grown up together at Fillmore. He worked for her father as a cattleman. Their romance grew, and on February 12, 1877, she and George Black were married in the St. George Temple. They were one of the first couples ever to be married in that temple. The following May they joined the United Order and settled in Circleville. Later that year they moved to Kingston, Piute County. They resided here for a number of years. Their home was made of lumber and sawed logs, similar to the home colony.

Three children were born to them while here. George K. was born January 9, 1879. Lois Clarinda was born October 3, 1880 and died six moths later. She was named by her aunt, Delilah K. Rowan. Bertha was born January 25, 1882.

Soon after this, they moved to Grass Valley. Their next three children were Culbert Lorin, born March 8, 1884, died January 14, 1889; William Henry, born March 26, 1886, died December 30 or 31, 1888; and John Edward, born March 29, 1888, and died October 6, 1888. All died in Arizona of membrane cough.

On June 12, 1891, George received a call from President Wilford Woodruff to fulfill a mission in the British Isles. The following September he left. His wife and three children—George K., Bertha, and Collins—accompanied him as far as Nephi, (His brother, John was also with them. They left their team at Nephi and went on to Salt Lake with George.) which was the terminal of the railroad at this time. On their return trip, Collins got sick. They stayed that night at Monroe. All night Clarinda waited patiently for a change to come over Collins. She didn’t wasn’t to loose him, but if it was God’s will, she would go through it. The wee hours of the morning came and Collins passed away. It was a terrible shock to her, but she knew she must stick it out bravely. Collins was still a mere child. He was born October 19, 1889, and died September 19, 1891. The next day she drove the corpse home in their buggy drawn by their faithful horses.

While George was on his mission, Clarinda worked diligently to support her husband, as well as her children and herself. She taught school during the winter and made cheese and sold it during the summer months. She sent him $24 every month. After fulfilling his mission, he returned home in 1893.

One June 15, 1894, another daughter was born to them. She was given the name of Esther. On March 23, 1897, Susan was born. Three years later, on May 15, 1900, Richard Levi was born. He died April 9, 1901 of dysentery.

Clarinda was put in as the president of the Primary of the Marion Ward, soon after she returned from Arizona in the spring of 1889. She also served as the first secretary of the Relief Society in the Antimony Ward.

One reason why she was so successful as a Primary president was her interest in children. Her home was open to young people at all times. If the young boys and girls would not attend Primary she would urge them to go and invite them to her home to make candy, cakes, or have nice parties.

During her service as president of the Marion Ward Primary, the stake Primary president, Mrs. Crosbey, and her helpers came from Panguitch to see how things were at Coyote. They were very tired when they arrived, because they had ridden in a buggy all the way. They asked for tea. Clarinda fixed it for them without a word. They asked her to drink some with them, but she refused. She asked, “Do you think I would drink tea when I preach against it? What do you think the children would say if they saw me? They would think Aunt Clarinda never kept her word. All the children follow me. I want to set the example for all.”

These ladies were so surprised. They said, “We came to teach you how to be a good president, but instead of that you have taught us a lesson”

It was fall, and they farmers were busy threshing their grain. Clarinda asked the farmers if her Primary children could go into their fields and gather up the stalks of grain they missed. They Primary could sell it, and get money to buy songbooks.

So the next Primary day, they went into the fields. The clouds were heavy with rain and the wind was blowing; and it was raining around on the mountains. Clarinda said, “Let’s all kneel down and pry that it will not rain until we have finished what we set out to do.” After they prayer, they immediately went to work and when the fields were finished, they had gathered many stacks of grain. As Clarinda said goodbye to the children, it began to sprinkle, and in ten minutes it really poured down.

All her life she never did anything that she did not want others to do. If young boys and girls tried to show off or tease smaller children, she would tie them to her apron strings. She never let people run over her and always won the love and respect of the younger boys and girls as well as the older ones. She was one person everyone could tell their troubles or sorrows to. Whenever young people were in trouble, she would do all she could for them.

She would take care of the sick when no one else would. At one time scarlet fever broke out. At night she would go to people’s places and take care of the sick. During the day time she took care of her own family. She was very careful that the germs were not scattered.

Whenever there was a death in town, it was she who took care of them. If the people were unable to get clothes to dress them in, Clarinda would go to her own home and make the clothes for the burial.

If travelers or apostles came to town, she would always invite them to her home and provide entertainment for them.

She had many experiences with danger. One of these happened in late September in 1900. They had been living all summer on their ranch on the east side of the mountain which was located a little way from the Clayton Ranger Station, southeast of Antimony, Utah. The family was moving down the mountain. George had gone ahead with most of the furniture. Clarinda had the sewing machine and her family. The road was very narrow. They were in an open-top buggy going along a narrow road dug along the steep mountain. Below was a drop of fifty feet. She told the children to be calm. Being afraid of tipping over, she got out of the buggy and stepped in each cog of the wheel, plus driving the team. How she ever kept the buggy from tipping over in a miracle.

They lived in the mountain four summers, which was a real test for them. At one time the Indians went to hunt pine nuts in the early fall. The sun was descending below they western horizon, when a large band of Piute Indians consisting of between fifty and seventy-five appeared, coming up the mountain. At this time the Indians were afraid of the white men, but they would dare do almost anything to the white women. Clarinda, her sister, Julia, and their children were there all alone. The oldest man child was eight years old. Julia was so frightened, she scared the smaller children. The Indians camped one-half mile from their ranch home. The first night of their arrival, all was calm. To be sure that nothing happened to the children, Clarinda stayed up all night. The Indians did not bother them until the fourth night. They did not see any men folks around, so they thought this was their chance. A real dark, ugly Indian came to the door asking for bread and meat. Clarinda said he could not have any. The Indian said, “Me take it anyway—there is just squaws and papooses here anyway.” He went away real angry. She was very tense. Later that evening there were some of their cows missing, but she was afraid if she sent her children, they would not return. That night Clarinda had all the children go to bed. She stayed awake all night. The children heard angry voices during the night, but they knew nothing that happened. The next day the Indians moved camp and went down the hill. Years passed before the young children knew what had happened. Clarinda said that at three o’clock that night the Indians returned. They listened awhile and heard nothing. Finally they cut the screen, making a hole big enough so they could unlock it. An Indian opened the screen door. To his surprise, there was a woman with a gun waiting for him. She told him that she would kill them if they went an inch farther into the house. The Indians knew she meant it, so they left. Later, the Indians told their friends in town “Heap good squaw up there in mountains.” All the while the Indians were camped in the mountains, Clarinda had very little sleep. She would stay up all night, and sleep only in the afternoon.

Besides being a very brave woman, she was an excellent cook, and a wonderful seamstress. She could also knit beautifully. She was a good wife; no matter what her husband undertook to do, she would always support him.

One of her greatest accomplishments in life was keeping her family together. Her father had three wives and twenty-four children. As long as she lived she would have family parties so they would be able to get acquainted better. Besides her own family, she reared her half-brother, Heber, and also Kathryn and John McGillvra who were children of friends who had died.

After her youngest daughter, Susan, was married she and George moved to Manti to make their home and to be able to work in the temple. On April 10, 1923, she passed away. It was not easy for her family as she had suffered so long. Her three daughters and one son learned to love and appreciate the things she had done. They hope to carry on her great work, and believe her favorite song, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.”