WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
ORIN NELSON WOODBURY
(early resident of St. George, farmer, captain of the guard)
BIOGRAPHYOrin Nelson Woodbury was born on August 10, 1828 at New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts.
The Woodbury family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1840. They soon sold their property in Massachusetts and moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. They moved west with the other Mormons, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley on September 26, 1847.
In 1851, Orin met Ann Cannon at a fast meeting in Salt Lake and they were immediately attracted to each other. They were married February 17, 1853 by Elder Parley P. Pratt in the home of Ann's brother-in-law, Charles Lambert. A year later they were sealed for time and eternity in the Salt Lake Endowment House.
Orin, along with his brother, Thomas, and their families, were among those called to the Cotton Mission in the late fall of 1861. Orin & Ann with their four children arrived in St. George valley December 3, 1861. They were given a town-site in St. George at 86 South 100 East, and a small farm on the Santa Clara Creek a short distance above its junction with the Virgin River. At the town-lot the Woodbury family established their first living quarters in a wagon box, a lumber shanty and a tent with a wooden floor. When they were at last ready to build a home, they made it of adobe, with a black volcanic rock foundation. Here their last six children were born.
On the farm lot Orin planted an orchard of over 100 trees, containing a variety of highest quality fruits, such as apricot, peach, apple, and pears. With his excellent care they developed rapidly and soon reached bearing age. Just as the trees had attained their full bearing stage a disastrous flood came down the Santa Clara and cut into the bank where the orchard stood. Some of the older children recall standing nearby and watching the bank cave in, carrying with it tree after tree, laden with luscious fruit. This continued until the entire orchard had been carried away. This serious loss robbed the family of much needed fresh fruit for summer and dried fruit for winter. Orin had planted cotton, corn, grapes, melons, and sorghum cane, as well as orchards. He also raised horses, sheep, and pigs. His wife Ann raised bees and silk worms.
Orin was an ardent horticulturist. His grandson, Angus, wrote "Juice was squeezed from sorghum cane and run into boilers to make molasses. After the cane juice was boiled into a syrupy molasses and put into the molasses barrel, Orin usually left a little in the bottom of the boiler that continued to cook until it made molasses candy. The children would get a wad of it, pull it by stretching until it was creamy white and almost stiff. When it cooled it could be broken in to pieces, for ease in eating. During the winter, a 'molasses candy pull' was a favorite form of entertainment."
When peaches were ripe Orin had the women and children peel and cut three or four bushels into sections. These cut up peaches were then put into a molasses boiler containing half-cooked juice from cane. He would cook the mixture into a delicious peach preserve to be stored in one of the molasses barrels for use during the winter.
There were many hardships during these pioneer years in St. George. Frequent floods washed out the dams and ditches and covered their growing crops with sand and mud. Indians made frequent raids into their territory and drove their cattle across the Colorado. Sometimes at night drums would call out the men to repel an Indian attack, and hearts of the children would almost stand still with fright. Rattlesnakes were another danger. Orin came across them often when clearing brush and plowing. After the crops were growing, the snakes came into the fields, adding to the problems of harvesting. Orin's dog was bitten by one of these unwelcome visitors.
Orin's chief community assignment was as captain of the guard. He trained his company and always kept it in top-notch condition for the protection of this frontier area. He also served the Church in many local positions.
On October 10, 1866, Orin married a plural wife, Frances Goddard. In the year 1878, Orin traded his farming land near St. George for a farm on the Santa Clara Creek, fifteen miles north-west of St. George and moved his plural wife there to make her home. In 1887, her father sold his home in Beaver and came to live with Frances.
Three years later, in the early summer of 1890, the father became ill and died at the farm within a few days. Orin was in St. George and there was delay in getting word to him to get the corpse to St. George. In helping to prepare the remains of his father-in-law Orin contracted a case of blood poisoning. Almost from the beginning of the attack, he suffered intensely. Nothing that the doctor or anyone else could do gave him any relief. Orin died on August 25, 1890 and was buried in Plot A_I_175_1 of the St. George City Cemetery.
WCHS-02500 Photo of Ann Cannon Woodbury sitting on her front porch
REFERENCESLife Sketch of Orin Nelson Woodbury
A Sketch of the life of Orin Nelson Woodbury
Notes on Orin Nelson Woodbury
mostly from "An Enduring Legacy, Volume 2", Daughters of Utah Pioneers
Life Sketch of Ann Cannon Woodbury
Life Sketch of Ann Cannon Woodbury
Find-A-Grave entry for Orin Nelson Woodbury
Find-A-Grave entry for Ann Cannon Woodbury
Find-A-Grave entry for Frances Goddard Woodbury