WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
DAVID HENRY CANNON
Story of the Sego Lilly
This story is from a talk given by Stephen D. Schmutz to his new Ward in Spring, TX.
Steve is a great grandson of David H. Cannon and grew up on a dairy farm where Dixie State College
is now in downtown St. George.
An event that occurred in the Pioneer days that involved my great grandfather, David H. Cannon, helped strengthen my testimony of the importance of having a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and a testimony of the divine calling of our prophet. While I was growing up in St. George, we had no T.V. Many of our evenings were spent gathered around the radio in our living room while we would listen to popular radio programs of the day such as Zorro, the Lone Ranger, and Jack Benny. One nationally syndicated program was Death Valley Days which told stories of the old West. One of the stories was titled "The Sego Lilly" that related the story of Grandpa Cannon.
In 1860, shortly after returning to Salt Lake from a proselyting mission to Great Britain, Grandpa Cannon was called by the Prophet Brigham Young to go on a settlement mission to St. George in Utah's Dixie. By the way, as I was growing up on the farm in St. George I learned that the area around St. George was called DIXIE because the early saints were sent to that area in Southern Utah to build cotton mills and to grow and process cotton for the church. The Southern Utah area was similar in climate to the good old Dixie in the southern area of the United States. Today, when you visit St. George, you can see the name DIXIE painted on a large rock face of the red hill overlooking the town. BUT I DIGRESS... Back to the story of Grandpa Cannon. He took his new bride, Wilhelmina, and went with others to Southern Utah to settle St. George. When the settlers arrived at St. George, they dug huts in the sides of the red hills until more permanent housing could be established. The floors and walls and ceilings were nothing but dirt and the country was not very inviting. Grandma "Willie", a sensitive, tenderly reared young woman from Delaware, bore the hardships of pioneering Utah's desert DIXIE with few complaints. She suffered most from the lack of refinement and beauty that she had experienced as she was growing up back East, and being discouraged, she told her young husband how much she longed for the beauty of the life she had given up to come to a desolate place where her home was but a hole in the dirt. She challenged him to show her one single thing about the place which was beautiful, or she could not be satisfied to remain and work for the future. David accepted the challenge and went about the countryside searching for something he could use to persuade his new bride to stay and accomplish the task for which they had been sent to do by the Prophet. He prayed to The Lord and diligently searched. One day as he walked he came to an embankment. Looking down the forbidding hillside, he saw the object of his search, the most beautiful flower he had ever seen, a beautiful Sego Lilly grew not far away, but out of his grasp. He went down the slope and retrieved the key to his wife's happiness. As he turned to retrace his path up the grade with the Sego Lilly firmly grasped in his hand, he slipped and fell back down the hill, breaking his leg. There he lay at the bottom of the hill until evening when he was found lying in the dirt clutching the lovely Sego Lilly. Grandma "Willie", touched by the show of love from her husband and inspired by the exquisite loveliness of the flower, renewed her effort and remained to do the work at hand.
" Death Valley Days: Sego Lilies"
Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb) listing