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by Harriett Sorensen

In writing this story of my pioneer Grandmother, I would like to pay homage to all of our pioneer for bearers; especially to the meek and lowliest, whose great souls were majestic in the simplicity of their faith and in their living testimony of the truth of the restored gospel. They are lovingly revered by their children and their children’s children who will pass down from generation to generation the story of their works and their righteousness. And of the lives so gloriously lived to establish Zion in the wilderness.

Clarrissa Amanda was the daughter of Josiah and Amanda Morgan Miller. They were the parents of eight children: Evaline, Miles Morgan, Daniel Morgan, Harriett, Emily, who was drowned at the age of two years, Emily Louisa, Clarrissa Amanda and Abigal, a daughter who died in her first year at Hertland Lake, Ohio on the 9th of October 1837.

Their family lived in Vermont, but in 1819 moved to New York State and made their home in Clarendon Orleans. Here Clarrissa Amanda was born, 8th of October 1829.

The Millers were devout Quakers, but when they heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints and the story of the boy Prophet, Joseph Smith, they believed and joined. They were among the first to accept this new religion. Clarrissa Amanda was blessed by Sydney Rigdon and in March of 1838 was baptized by Duncan McAllister.

The Millers with the other saints moved to Missouri and later to Illinois. This was a period of suffering for the saints. They were driven from their homes and persecuted by the mobs because of their religion.

The Millers had the privilege of working on the Temples at Kirtland and at Nauvoo. It was a great sorrow to leave their homes and temples and face a future in an unknown land, the west.

The winter of 1846 was spent at Winter Quarters. While there, they learned that war had been declared between the United States and Mexico and as recruits were called from among the men of the church, Clarrissa saw her two brothers march away with the famous Mormon Battalion. It was a sad parting for the family, but they accepted the call with faith and courage. The rest of the family came on west with the Jedediah M. Grant Company of 1847.

On the 5th of September 1847, while on the plains they met Brigham Young and his party. They were returning from Slat Lake Valley to Winter Quarters. As the Grant Company was the last company of emigrating Saints that year, Brigham Young wrote a long letter of advice to the Saints in Salt Lake Valley. Clarrissa always remembered one statement he made. “As soon as you are located in the fort, let a sufficient numbers of rooms be allotted for a school, with the best teachers available, or furnish your children with teachers at home. Any individual who has the opportunity to educate his children and does not do so is not worthy to have children. Teach your children to principles of the Kingdom that they may grow up in righteousness.” This advice made a great impression on Clarrissa and influenced her in rearing her family.

Traveling in the same company with the Millers were the Hoyts, James and Beulah and their daughter, Lucy, also their youngest son, Israel. He and Clarrissa fell in love during the long trek. It was October before the company reached the Valley. The millers built their first long cabin in the fort. When spring came they planted their precious seeds only to have their cherished crops eaten by the crickets.

Undaunted by the hardships and with high hopes for a glorious future, Israel Hoyt and Clarrissa Amanda Miller were married November 25, 1848. One thing this young couple had in common was a schooling in hardships and sacrifices. They had learned to be industrious, thrifty, honest and neighborly.

It was a trying time, necessities of life were hard to obtain, they would be without bread for weeks at a time. During the summers they fared a little better as they learned to use the thistle, pigweed and the dandelion for greens and the wild berries for fruit, together with their milk, butter and cottage cheese they were able to get along.

Grandmother told of the many times when they had very little to eat. One story was of the time when the flour bin was almost empty, each time as she carefully scraped, there was just enough to make bread for the day. This continued for a number of days and then one day the bin was completely empty, not even a spoonful could be dusted up. That night a supply train came into the city bringing flour.

Israel and Clarrissa’s first baby, a little girl, was born on October 16, 1850 and was given the name of Harriett Amanda.

The next summer Israel with other men, went south about 88 miles to some beautiful meadow lands known as Salt Creek. There they cut grass to use for winter feed for their cattle. In 1851 they with fourteen other families moved to this place, built a fort and called it Nephi. Here Israel and Clarrissa claimed a farm and built a nice log house, planted an orchard and raised a garden. They began to feel that they were home and the hard times were past. Sorrow came to them in the loss of their next three children, Clarrissa, Israel and James Hyrum, each lived only a short time and in turn were buried in the new pioneer cemetery.

On November 25, 1855, Clarrissa and Israel went to Salt lake City and were sealed in the Endowment House. At this same time, Israel married a second wife, Hannah Elizabeth Cook, daughter of Daniel Cook and Mary Maria Fuller Cook. She was a lovely English girl reared in Canada. She was a school teacher and had worked for Clarrissa and Israel, as Clarrissa’ health was poor. Harriett, the Hoyt’s young daughter was very fond of Hannah and this family lived as God commanded, loving and respecting each other.

These were happy years. Their home was good, the orchard was bearing fruit and the fields were productive, which gave them a comfortable living. Clarrissa’s parents lived nearby and they had many friends. During these favorable years five children were born to them: Elinor Angeline was born on Harriett’s 6th birthday, Lucy Amilia, Josiah Miller, and Daniel Henry who died the year after his birth. On the 16th of June 1868 their eldest daughter, Harriett Amanda married a young English emigrant. And that fall President Brigham Young called Israel and his family as missionaries, to go to the Muddy Mission to raise cotton. This was a real test for Clarrissa. Could she leave her nice home, her aged parents and friends to pioneer in another place? Even though it required great sacrifices, she prepared to make the move. They sold and traded their property and outfitted themselves for the trip. It was late November when they left Nephi. In the Hoyt group were Israel, Clarrissa, Elinor, Emily, Lucy, Josiah, and Harriett and her husband, Isaiah Bowers. In Hannah’s family were Maria, Amy, Elizabeth and a boy, Edward Lamb, who lived with them. It made a family of thirteen. The three married woman were expecting. It was cold and the roads were rough and feed for the animals was scarce. There was always the fear of Indians, although some proved friendly.

After leaving St. George, they crossed the Virgin River 34 times and each crossing was endangered by the ever present quick sand. As they neared their destination, it became very dry and alkali dust burned the eyes and lips. They arrived at the Muddy on the 6th of December 1868. Israel bought a partly built adobe house, but before they were moved into it, he bought a better unfinished one a few miles down the valley. By Christmas they had it finished and were settled enough to invite three of their Nephi neighbors to Christmas dinner, - the Claridges, the Harmons and the Esplins.

All through that first winter the supply of food was meager. Flour especially, but they always had enough to share with each other. On the 16th of February 1869, Clarrissa’s and Hannah’s babies were born, two little girls. They were always known as the Hoyt twins. They were named Lillian Bulah and Leulla Palina. Hannah’s daughter, Leulla Palina lived only a few months. About a month later Harriett and Isaiah’s baby boy was born. He was named Israel. (Nearly all the families have a son named Israel.)

As summer approached it became very hot. They suffered with the wind, ants and scorpions. The Indians had to be closely watched, because anything they could put unnoticed under their blankets, disappeared.

Clarrissa often told how the girls would put their sunbonnets on the hot sand to stand on to relieve their poor feet. The squaws always carried a bunch of grass for this purpose. The drought killed the cotton and other crops, so the women supplemented the food supply with roots and berries. Regardless of the privations they endured, they were happy and had many good times together.

The mission was a short duration. In 1870 word came that the Muddy was in Nevada, and that state was asking for back taxes. The people were trying to build homes and clear the land; they had no money, so were released from the mission.

President Young told the people they were at liberty to return to their old homes if they desired, but he wished that some would go help establish a settlement in Southern Utah. Brigham Young’s advice was followed. Israel moved Clarrissa and family to Long Valley with other of their neighbors. They settled in Windsor, later called Mt. Carmel. Here he built a two roomed log cabin, with dirt floor and dirt roof. He moved Hannah and family to Washington, a little town near St. George, where the girls worked for a while in the cloth factory. Ellie stayed with them. While here, Hannah’s baby Amanda Jenett was born.

By this time the Indian trouble was over and some of the former settlers who had left because of it, returned to Mt. Carmel and claimed their land. This caused some contention among the settlers, so Israel and Clarrissa moved a few miles up the valley to a new town called Orderville. President Young had advised the people in the outlying districts to live the United Order; that is to have everything in common. Here they built their shanties in the form of the Old Salt lake Fort. Each house joining to form a square. In the center of the square was built the community kitchen, dining hall and store. Here they lived as one large happy family and the love they had for each other lasted as long as life.

On the 1st day of August 1874, while the family still lived at Mt. Carmel, a boy was born to Hannah. He was given the name of Timothy Cook, his younger sister and the last of Hannah’s children was born at Orderville on the 15th day of February 1878. She was named Nella Avellia.

In the Order the women took turns cooking, washing dishes, serving and sewing. Clarrissa, an experienced tailor, assisted Brother Sandine in making men’s suits. She was very artistic and designed the patterns and colors for weaving cloth. She was made President of the first Relief Society, when it was organized at Mt. Carmel 16 February 1874 and was active in this organization all of her life. At the time the Order was first organized, Israel Hoyt was appointed president of the Board of directors. He was also overseer of the sawmill and the diary.

In 1880 with the consent and encouragement of his wives, Israel married Bertha Fackrell, daughter of David and Susannah Fackrell. She had been blind since the age of ten and was reluctant to join the family for fear of becoming a burden. But with her skill in knitting stockings and sewing, she proved to be a real asset to the family. The year after their marriage they were blessed with a baby girl. When this children was about thirteen months old she became very ill with the measles. They sent for Israel who was at the grist mill in Glendale. In his hurry, the horse he was riding fell with him and he was seriously injured. This little daughter died before he reached home and he lived only a few days after the accident. He died 3 April 1882 at Orderville. The night before his death, he visited with all his family and told them goodbye. This parting words were “ I have laid the foundation, I hope you will continue to build on it.” He was buried in the Order row in the Orderville Cemetery.

After Israel’s death the wives continued to live together. Hannah taught school. Clarrissa worked at the diary. She spent the summer on Buckskin Mountain, now called Kaibab, the dairy was in Orderville Canyon, east of Jacob’s Lake.

In the year 1884 the saints were advised to abandon the Order. The Edmund law had been passed and the Government was threatening to confiscate their property because of the practice of polygamy.

After the Order broke up Bertha went to live with her parents. They were financially able to take care of her. They moved to Idaho. Clarrissa and Hannah took up a homestead north of the Divide. it became known as Castle Ranch. Clarrissa was appointed the first Postmistress of Orderville and for many years Hannah was her assistant. They kept post office in the little home they shared.

At one time, Clarrissa went to Salt lake City to take care of her sister, Harriet Woodbury, who had cancer of the eye. She remained for several months, until her sister died. Then she returned to her home.

Hannah remained in Orderville until her two unmarried children were ready to go to Brigham Young Academy. She moved with them to Provo and remained with her son Timothy until her health failed. Upon her request, she returned to Orderville where she died 9 February 1911 and was buried in the cemetery there beside Clarrissa.

Grandma Clarrissa continued to live in the old home, milking a cow and raising a garden. Fond memories of those days were always live in the hearts of her descendants. Her little home was clean and always filled with the odors of cooking, salt-rising bread baking, English currant jelly in the making of dried fruit stewing. The beds had high feather beds, covered with patchwork quilts, and pillow slips with wide knitted lace on the edges. Grandmother wore starched, checked gingham aprons, embroidered in cross stitch designs. Her night gown was a mother hubbard of bleached muslin, with a matching night cap, trimmed with tatted lace. Her stories of pioneer life in the many places she had lived were always an inspiration.

In 1901 Clarrissa’s only son, Josiah, became ill and died 21st of February 1904, leaving two large families. At the time of his death, Clarrissa was suffering from a growth on her neck where her collar bone had been broken. It turned to cancer and on the 29th of September 1904 at the age of 75 she passed away. She was buried in the Orderville Cemetery.

Grandmother Clarrissa was a humble soul, who had great faith and worked diligently at fashioning our heritage. May we ever keep her memory fresh, to help us meet our duties in carrying on the divine work she began.