Esther Clarinda King (1858-1923)

Esther Clarinda KingCompiled by Guy L. Black from a history by LaRae Mathews, a granddaughter; a biographical sketch written by an unknown author; and a story about Esther’s life by Rosa Vida B. Black and Thalia B. Black.

The Mormon settlers had been in Salt Lake City only a few years when Brigham Young began sending groups of pioneers to settle surrounding areas.  In 1954, a small group settled in Fillmore, Utah.  They settled near a large tribe of Piute Indians that had to be handled with care.

It was in this new settlement that Culbert and Eliza Esther McCullough King made their home.  Their house was a lovely place compared to other homes of that era.  It was located half-way up Main Street on the east side of Fillmore.  This nice comfortable home of one room was made of red adobe brick.  The house had a fireplace which was used for heating the home and for all cooking purposes.  The few pieces of furniture were handmade from Utah-grown trees, and consisted of a bunk bed, a table, log chairs, and a small cradle.

Esther Clarinda King’s father, Culbert King, was a farmer and stock raiser.  Some of his 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, Esther Clarinda King.  At the time, Esther’s parents had one other child, a two-year old baby named, Culbert Levi King.

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

Her father was very friendly with the Indians and learned to speak their language fluently. One time, an 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 and she had a sweet, friendly smile.  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 age sixteen, she was very beautiful, with her long light-brown hair, styled into 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.”  Clarinda’s father was amazed.  He told the Indian he could not have his young white daughter.  She belonged to him.  The Indian Chief was very angry at the white man, but Clarinda did not go with the Indian.  The incident was a frightening experience for the entire family.

At the age of ten or eleven, the first tragedy came into Clarinda’s life. A very dear sister, Ida, age eight or nine, was burned to death.  Her mother had gone to the neighbors to visit a sick child, and had left Clarinda at home to care for her siblings.  Ida and her girl friend were playing house and wearing their long dresses.  Their long dresses were very flammable and frail.  Ida ran past the open fire place, and her dress caught fire.  She screamed, but before Clarinda could do anything to help, Ida’s dress was completely in flames. Clarinda grabbed a pan of milk that was on a nearby table and threw it on the flames.  Ida’s burns were so severe that she died within a few hours in Clarinda’s arms.  It was hard for Clarinda to get over this tragedy.

At the age of twelve, Clarinda went to Fillmore to live with her grandmother, Matilda Robison King.  While there, for four years she attended a school named either Fillmore Academy or Millard Academy.  Her cousin, William H. King, who later became a U.S. Senator from Utah, also attended the same school.  Clarinda and William remained close friends through their lives.

Clarinda received an excellent education for a girl of that period.  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 learn 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.

At an early age Clarinda was taught the arts of homemaking.  She became especially skilled in the making of fine laces, as well as other hand sewing.  Her mother was skilled in the making of fine gloves and caps from leather.  It was only natural that her fine sewing skills were taught to her daughters.

In 1863, Clarinda’s family moved to Kanosh, Millard County, Utah.  Clarinda’s father served as Bishop in Kanosh for fifteen years.  During the summer months her family would live on their ranches.  Then in the fall, they would move back to Kanosh where they made their home in the winter.  While at the ranch at Corn Creek, Clarinda had many exciting experiences with the Indians.

One of Clarinda’s favorite stories was the time when her father had gone for supplies, and her mother and the children were left alone at the ranch.  While her mother was preparing dinner, an Indian Chief and several Bucks appeared at the door.  They walked into the house demanding food.  The family was quite apprehensive, not knowing what their fate might be.  Clarinda’s mother told her to go to the cooler house and get some milk for the Indians.  Clarinda, quite scared, ran to the cooler house and grabbed the first jug of milk she came to, not noticing that it was a jug of buttermilk!  The Indians ate the food and drank the “strange milk” heartily.  As the Indians were leaving, they thanked her mother for the good meal, especially the milk.  After they left, Clarinda’s mother investigated the jug of milk and discovered the mistake her young daughter had made.  This story was told from then on, and became one of the family’s favorites.

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 the 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 should 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 Indian language, “Good night.”  After going a little farther, she began to gallop her horse as fast as possible.

Even though her parents had better things than most people at that 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 every day.  She would walk to church barefoot.  When she reached the door of the church she would put her shoes on. After church, she would 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 of that community.  Because of her good horsemanship, beauty, and likeability, 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 Indians 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 to 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.

As a young woman Clarinda had her share of suitors.  But one young man, George Black, became her favorite.  These young people had known each other most of their lives, living as neighbors in Fillmore.  Her brother, Culbert Levi, and George were the best of friends.  George had worked for her father as a cattleman.  Soon Clarinda and George were seen together at all of the Church socials.  Their courtship was a beautiful one filled with not only love for one another; but with respect for each other’s feelings.  This love and respect was evident throughout their married life.

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 another boy because she had seen George Black leave with another girl.  Clarinda had promised George she would wait, so she would not go with this other boy.  Later that evening, George returned.  He told her he had walked home this other girl because she asked him to.

The romance between George and Clarinda grew, and on February 12th or 15th, 1877, they were married in the St. George Temple.  They were one of the first couples ever to be married in that temple.  The temple had not yet been completed, and only the lower floor had been dedicated for use.

The following May they joined the United Order and settled in Circleville.  Later that year they moved to Kingston, PiuteCounty.  They resided there for a number of years.  Their home was made of lumber and sawed logs.  In the United Order George was a member of the Order’s Board of Directors; Clarinda was an instructor in the dairy.

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

In the Spring of 1882 they moved to GrassValley, Garfield County, Utah.  Later, it was renamed Coyote.  Now this area is called Antimony.  It was there that Clarinda and George made their permanent home.  They spent most of their lives in that valley, helping to build a community, develop the resources, and to serve the Lord.

When the Relief Society was organized in Coyote on 21 December 1884, she was chosen as the first Secretary-Treasurer.  She served as a teacher in all the auxiliaries of the Church, teaching by example as well as precinct.  She was always a valiant servant of the Lord’s, to her it was daily way of life.

Her 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.

In the summer of 1887, George and Clarinda accompanied George’s mother, Susan Jacaway Black, to Lehi, Maricopa County, Arizona.  It was while living in Lehi that this young couple suffered a great loss.  Three of their sons died within four months.  John Edward was taken in October, 1888 after suffering cholera.  In December, 1888 Henry died of membranous croup, and nineteen days later, Culbert Lorin died of the same disease.

Clarinda suffered a nervous breakdown at the time.  At the advice of doctors, George gathered the rest of their family and returned to their beloved valley in Coyote, Utah.

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.

One reason why she was as 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 invited 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 that 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.”

In the late fall of 1890, Esther was still serving as Primary President.  The Primary needed song books.  Esther decided that she would raise money to buy the books by asking the local farmers to let her and the primary children glean wheat from the fields after the harvest to earn money to pay for the books.

One farmer gave his permission, and the Primary set out, early one morning, walking around the fields and up and down the irrigation ditches, pulling wheat heads that had been left by the farmer.

As the began, rain clouds began to darken the sky, and a brisk wind began to blow, but several teachers and leaders, and about fifteen boys and girls continued to glean the fields.  It was storming in the mountains already.

As they entered the field, it began to rain.  Then Esther suggested they all kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to stop the rain until they had finished.  They all knelt and prayed.  When they arose, the rain stopped.  The Primary gathered many sacks of wheat heads, and spent many hours of hard work earning money to buy books.

As soon as they finished their work and had returned to their homes, a mighty storm began to pour rain from the sky.  But Esther and the Primary children’s pray had been answered.

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 Salina, which was the terminal of the railroad at this time.  On their return trip, Collins got sick with cholera.  They stayed that night at Monroe.  All night Clarinda waited patiently for a change to come over Collins.  She didn’t want to lose him, but if that 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 horse.

Having no way to reach her husband, she wrote him a letter telling him of the tragedy; but pleading with him to not to return home, to complete the mission that the Lord had called him to serve.

When George received the letter a month later, he did as Clarinda had asked him to and served a very successful mission, bringing many souls into the waters of baptism.

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.

George returned home in the summer of 1893.  He always gave credit to Clarinda for her courage during this time.  But, as always, Clarinda gave the credit to the Lord saying, “Our Father in Heaven was my helper.”

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 on April 9, 1901 of dysentery.

Clarinda and George tried to make up for the loss of their children by bringing orphans in their home to raise.  For ten years, Clarinda cared for her youngest half-brother, Heber Pratt King, after his mother died.  Katharine McGillva, age seven, and John McGillva, age three, were taken into the Black home after their mother died.  They became a part of the Black household, receiving all the loving care and opportunities of George and Clarinda’s own children until they were married.  Family unity was a motto she strived hard to keep.

All her life, Clarinda 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.  When she returned to her home, she would change her clothes and sterilize herself before she entered her house.  During the epidemic, none of her own children became ill due to her cautiousness.

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 is 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 the 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 them 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 the 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.

 In the summer of 1918, after her youngest daughter, Susan, was married, she and George moved to Manti to be able to work in the temple.  Many of the dead received their endowments due to their labors.  In the spring of 1923, Clarinda had a great desire to return home to her beloved valley of Antimony.  On April 10, 1923, she passed away there, surrounded by her loving family and many friends.

Her death 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”.

Clarinda had a wonderful testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—one that could not be denied even through her hardships and tragedies.  To those who knew her and those who can only read of her, she is revered and thought of as a Daughter of Zion.  She truly lived as the Lord commanded us to when he said, “Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”[i]

[i] Vital Records, Cemetery, and Obituary Sources:  Birth Certificate:  No birth certificate available.  No governmental entities in Utah were required to report births prior to 1898.  All secondary sources, including death certificate, grave marker, patriarchal blessing, and history by great granddaughter, LaRae Mathews, agree that her birth date was September 24, 1858.  Marriage License:  No primary source.  Secondary source lists marriage of George Black and Esther Clarinda King as occurring in St. George, Utah on February 15, 1877:  Wesley W. Craig, Ph.D., Early Marriages (1862-1919) in Washington County, Utah:  Male and Female Surname Indexes (St. George, Utah, No Publisher, 1999) p. Male Surname Index – 4.  This source is available at the LDS Family History Library Microfilm Roll No. 1750870, Item 4.  It is also available as a US/CAN Book, Call No. 979.248 V22C.  Mr. Craig cites his source for this marriage record as LDS Genealogical Surveys of Utah, Volume 3.  Both histories of George Black, Jr., written by his daughter and great granddaughter, agree with this marriage date, and indicate that the marriage occurred in the St. George Temple.  Death Certificate:  Esther Clarinda Black, George Black, Death Certificate, State Board of Health File No. 20 (420 handwritten below, and 2300893 is stamped on certificate), Utah Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Also available at Esther Clarinda Black, Death Certificate, Series 81448, Entry 90654, Utah State Archives Digital Collection, <> accessed 23 August 2007.  Electronic image in the possession of Guy L. Black.  Grave Location and Cemetery Directions:  Grave is located in the Antimony, Utah Cemetery.  The cemetery is on the right-hand side of the road as you head south through Antimony (about two or three miles beyond the Antimony schoolhouse).  Obituary: “Antimony (From Our Regular Correspondent),” The Garfield County News, (Vol. IV, No. 4), Apr. 20, 1923, p. 6.