Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book Review: Of Dugouts and Spires: Isaac Wardle

This book documents the history of South Jordan, Utah.  As such it documents Isaac's history, as he lived in South Jordan half of his life, from 1859 to 1900.  He maintained contact after 1900 as most of his family, children and grandchildren, continued to live in the area.

Isaac was a co founder of South Jordan.  "1859 March 1. Alexander Beckstead and Isaac J. Wardle,  first settlers of South Jordan.  The hollowed dugouts in a bluff west of the Jordan River call “Signal Hill” (used for sending smoke signals) at 1050 West 11100 South." p 241  By November at least eight other families had joined them.  Isaac married in April of that year.  "Twenty-four-year-old Isaac married fifteen-year-ole Martha Ann Egbert on April 18, 1859, and took her to his new homestead in South Jordan."  p69  When people talk of his bringing his wife, Martha, to his home, it was a dugout home. 

A first line of business was to get water to their fields.  "In 1859, Alexander Beckstead, Isaac Wardle, and others began work on another ditch to divert water from the Jordan River, two and a half miles south of the settlement.  It began at the Draper Bridge (at 12600 South in modern-day Riverton) and traveled northwest to the community.  The settlers used picks and spades to painstakingly etch out the ditch.  A spirit level was used to survey and grade the entire ditch.
The man-made water channel became known as the Beckstead Ditch and was essential to the permanency of the population.  With a sense of satisfaction, the ditchdiggers allowed water to flow through the winding excavation about the first day of June 1859.  They irrigated and raised a small grain crop and vegetable garden the first year of using the water course.  The ditch still passes through the city today.  Alexander, his family, and friends also dug wells by hand for drinking water."  p 8

There were other obstacles to live in South Jordan in the early days.  "Besides overcoming the challenge of securing sufficient water, Alexander and other early colonizer had to contend with grasshopper or mountain crickets.  At times the insects appeared as a thick carpet, completely covering the ground.  The pioneers would plant tree seedlings, small potatoes, or grain only to see hordes of crickets descend from the mountains.  The insects would eat every green leaf and stem in sight.  Tens of thousands of tender fruit tree seedlings were eaten down to the ground.  Attempts to kill, but, or drive away the crickets with brush failed.  Potato seedlings were covered with sheets and tablecloths, only to have the crickets eat holes in the cloth, leaving the “short, naked stem” of the potatoes remaining.  The hope of raising a sufficient supply of grain to make bread expired as the families fought in vain to keep the crickets from climbing the stalks of wheat.  The crickets would “cut it just below the head.”  P8

When Isaac moved to his homestead, it was at the end of the Beckstead Ditch.  " Isaac Wardle studied books at night by the light of the fire and practiced writing on a shovel with a piece of charcoal.  He was eager to gain knowledge and to improve his home and farm.  His farm prospered with two large orchards, two homes, and many outbuildings on his land.  It was located at approximately 10015 South, West of the Beckstead Ditch and east of 1000 West.  His orchards were east of the irrigation ditch." p70

When federal marshalls pursued polygamists, Isaac was involved in this persecution.  " A raid undertaken in South Jordan on April 6, 1887, searched the houses of Isaac J. Wardle, J.W. Winward, Henry Beckstead, and William A. Bills.  John W. Winward was arrested but was released when the marshal stated that a mistake had been made.  Alex Bills (William A. Bill’s son) and Henry Beckstead were arrested and posted fifteen hundred dollars’ bond.  Alexander and Henry were arraigned in the Third District Court, September 22, 1887, on charges of unlawful cohabitation, the which they pleaded guilty.  Alexander was asked if it was his intention to obey the law against cohabitation in the future.  His matter-of-fact reply was, “No, sir; it is not.”"   P 93

Isaac is also mentioned in the appendix.  "1875 June 29. I.J. Wardle appointed road supervisor in place of Edward Holt."  P241  "1879 Malissa Jenkins was first president of South Jordan Primary; three missionaries sent: Jesse Vincent to Kentucky, Isaac J. Wardle to England, and Gordon S. Bills to southern states." P241  It also has a receipt at a local store, which Isaac incurred fulfilling his duties as Sunday school superintendent, " Jordan Mercantile Ledger: Sold I.J. Wardle fr Sunday School Candy .25 lbs 2.12 20 lbs mixed nuts 3.00  p 249

This book is adding considerable depth to Isaac's story, especially with regards to the South Jordan history.  Isaac's life meshed with South Jordan for over half of his life. 

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