George Black (1854-1940)

George Black II-when he was on his missionComplied by Guy L. Black from a history written by Susan Black Robinson, as told to her by her father, George Black, Jr,; a history written by LaRae Matthews, granddaughter; and excerpts from the Journal of George Black, Jr., provided by Elliott R. Black, a grandson.   

George Black, Sr. came to Utah in 1847 with the James Pace Company.  On September 15, 1850, he was called with thirteen other families to settle SpringCity in SanpeteCounty.  In 1852, Brigham Young sent them into the western country, now known as MillardCounty, because the Indians had burned their forts and tried to drive them out.

George Black, Jr. was born in Fillmore, Millard County, Utah, on 23 May 1854, the second child of George and Susan Jacaway Black.  He was the fourth white child born in the old fort at Fillmore. He was the second boy born to his parents.

In 1855, George Jr.’s family, with his parents and grandparents, moved to SpringCity, Sanpete County, Utah to help settle that country.  George’s Jr.’s second sister, Susan was born while they lived in SpringCity.  They lived in SpringCity from 1855 to 1861.  George Jr.’s father and grandfather were considered two of the founders of SpringCity.

When George Jr. was seven years old, his parents and grandparents moved with the first wagons to St. George, Kane County, Utah.  They traveled by ox team.  George Jr. walked most of the way, driving the cattle on the trek to St. George.

At the age of eight, George, Jr. was baptized in St. George by Erastus Snow, in January of 1862.

At the age of nine, George, Jr. became a herder of cows in the lonely sagebrush desert.  At this time the Indians were very wild.  They would steal the cows and horses, and burn the houses of the white settlers.  It was a sultry day in June.  George, Jr. was herding cows about here miles from town.  He had been riding his horse for along time, so decided to rest awhile.  He got off his horse, and laid on the ground under some tall sagebrush to rest.  After being there for some time he heard something move.  Looking up, he saw an Indian just a few feet away.  Not knowing exactly what to do, he decided to curl up closer to the sagebrush.  The Indian walked over and took hold of the horse’s reins.  George, Jr.’s heart began to beat faster.  H wondered what would become of him if the Indian saw him.  Soon the Indian started to move slowly away, leading the horse.  George, Jr. was breathless, still afraid of being discovered.  He heard the Indian get on his horse and drive his cows away.  George, Jr. laid there awhile, not able to move; rising up he saw that the Indian was quite a distance from him; he began to crawl on hi stomach toward town.  Doing this for about two miles, he got up and started to run.  As soon as he reached the village he rang a bell, sending an alarm that Indians were near. All the men left their work to come and see what was the matter.  After they had all gathered around, George, Jr. told them his story.  The men jumped on their horses and left.  Toward nightfall they returned, bringing with them the stolen horse and cows.  If George, Jr. had not taken precaution, his life as well as those of the village would have been taken.

During the five years George, Jr. and his family resided in St. George, his brothers, William and John Franklin were born.

The family then moved to Springdale (later known as Rockville), Kane County, Utah.  It was in Rockville that George, Jr. began formal schooling.  Also, it was here in 1866, that at the age of twelve he was ordained a Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood.  He also received the offices of a Teacher and Priest while living in Rockville.

George, Jr. made several trips to Salt Lake City by ox team for supplies.  His father trusted him with the family’s responsibility for such purchases.  He also made several trips for merchants and was paid for his work.

At the age of fourteen he went back to his former home, Fillmore, to visit.  His uncle was taking a load of freight to St. George, so he was to return with him.  Early one morning with a heavily loaded wagon and an ox team, his uncle started him toward Dixie alone, saying to him, “I will overtake you before nightfall.”  Nightfall came, but no uncle had appeared so he unyoked to oxen and made camp with a ranch family about three miles south of Kanosh.  The next day he drove to Cove Fort, where he made camp once more.  The next day he drove to Beaver; his uncle had not shown up yet.  Many of the settlers along the way wanted him to wait until his uncle came, but he felt he must go on.  So early the third morning he took the road again. It was a very dangerous for a youth of this age because the Indians were on the warpath and had driven off the stock of the people about ten miles south of Beaver.  He started to drive up the mountain known as Black Ridge.  As he was nearing the top, he glanced around, looking forward suddenly he saw a large Indian coming toward him.  He was dressed in war paint and carrying his implements of war.  Grandfather was full of fear, but decided not to appear as being afraid.  The Indian started to stop him, but just then an emigrant train pulled over the top of the ridge a few years ahead of him.  The Indian slipped away in the underbrush.  The emigrant train consisted of quite a number of men.  When he reached the top they question him and were surprised to see such a young boy on this dangerous road.  Fearing for his life, they sent several of their armed men with him to Red Creek, while the rest went to Beaver to await their return.  They encountered several Indians, but nothing occurred.  After reaching Red Creek, he continued on his journey alone—reaching his home in Rockville after seven days of travel.  His uncle never caught up with him, but came two weeks later.

 His parents left George, Jr.’s grandparents, William and Jane Johnston Black, in Rockville and moved with George, Jr. to Kanosh, Millard County, Utah in 1871.  George, Jr. was in his seventeenth year.

The following year, George, Jr.’s father died, leaving the family in the George, Jr.’s care.  His father’s last request to him was to look after his mother, his brothers and sisters; as well as his father’s second wife, Marry Ann Donnelly and her children.  George Jr.’s youngest sister was only six months old when his father passed away.  George Jr. gave all of his wages to his mother, and she shared them with his father’s second wife.  George Jr.’s brothers were soon also able to help him support the family.

But, times were hard and they were very poor.  George, Jr. worked for several different people, riding and gathering cattle off the range, doing most work common to the people in the settlement.  A short time before his eighteenth birthday he began working for the Church Co-op on their cattle ranch.  At one time the Indians drove their cattle off.  He and his best friend as well as companion, Culbert L. King, trailed the Indians several days to get back some of their cattle.  They found the Indian camp.  At night, while one watched the other slept.  Soon the Indians thought they were safe from being followed, so they went to sleep. The two young men noticed it, so they rounded up their cattle and went home.

One year after his father died, George Jr.’s grandfather, William Black, also died in Rockville, Kane County, Utah, on 28 January 1873.

George, Jr. continued to work for the Millard County Co-op.  Eventually he became Co-op manager.  George was put in many dangerous situations as a result of caring for the Co-op’s cattle.  One incident he remembered was the time he had sold cattle for the Co-op after the fall round-up.  George delivered the cattle at Cove Fort.  In return he received ten thousand dollars in gold, which he tied in buckskin bags to his saddle.  He was given instructions to deliver the gold to Nephi, from where it would be sent to Salt Lake City.

After receiving the payment of gold, he left for Kanosh accompanied by on guard at about sundown.  The trail was a lonely one and full of many dangers for the young man.  Toward midnight, off in the distance, he sighted a small, smoldering fire.  It could mean several things: Indians, bandits or even an emigrants train.  His horse became very restless and alert. He looked at his pistol, then at his bags of gold.  Concerned because of the large quantity of gold he was carrying, he and his companion made their horse walk very quietly by the camp, hoping not to be noticed.  They came within one hundred yards of the fire.  From there he could see several men standing by the fire with their horses saddled as if they were ready to ride.  He uttered a silent prayer, then touched the spurs to this horse and rode as fast the horse would go.  The men by the fire, who were bandits, pulled their guns and began to fire at him.  They killed the guard, and George, Jr. felt the quick breeze of the shots coming close to him.  Four of the bandits followed him until the early dawn, when reached the outskirts of Kanosh, where he was to get a fresh horse.  After eating breakfast in Kanosh, he resumed his journey; and in thirty-six hours of riding he delivered the gold, having changed horses at several settlements.  He was very relieved to finally be able to deliver the gold at Nephi, and thankful he had not been robbed or hurt.

George, Jr. was living in Kanosh, Millard County, Utah, when he ordained and Elder by Abraham A. Kimball in the year 1876.  He was also called to attend the School of the Prophets in Millard Stake.

While he was living in Fillmore he became very fill with a high fever and it was thought he was going to die.  He was left alone to sleep.  While he sleeping, he had a dream in which one of the three Nephites appeared to him, anointed him with oil, and gave him a blessing, saying that he had a great mission to perform here before his time was up.  When he awoke his head was oily.

George, Jr. said that he had one close friend, Culbert Levi King.  They worked in church and school activities together.  They were in and out of each other’s homes constantly.  It was through this friendship that George, Jr. met his wife, Esther Clarinda King, who was Culbert’s sister.  George, Jr. and Esther were married in the St. George Temple on 15 February 1877.

After the wedding, George and Esther drove to St. George by team and buggy.  One of George’s wife’s aunts accompanied them.  She stayed in St. George and George and Esther rode the return trip together.  That was their honeymoon.

In May, 1877, with his wife’s parents, grandparents and their families, George moved to Kingston, Ciclovalley (now named Circleville).  They lived the “United Order” as their church leaders directed.

George was named one of the members of the Board of Directors of the United Order; his wife was one of the instructors in the dairy.  Later he was appointed to be in charge of the United Order cattle.  In the spring of 1883, with his wife and children, George moved to GrassValley, Garfield County, Utah, to find a better place for the cattle.  GrassValley was later renamed Coyote, and then again renamed Antimony, by which name it is known today.  George and his family lived in and supported the United Order as long as it lasted.

In 1883 the first branch of the church Sunday school was organized in the Marion Ward in Coyote.  Henry McCullough was named Superintendent, and Culbert King and George were called as counselors.

In 1887, George’s mother, Susan Jacaway Black, was sent by President Wilford Woodruff to Lehi, Maricopa County, Arizona, to work among the Saints and Indians as a mid-wife.  George and my family, with his brother William and his family, and George’s youngest brother Nephi who wasn’t married at that time, traveled to be with their mother in Arizona.

George described the trip to Arizona in his journal as follows:  “December 4, 1887 with my family, brother Will and family and brother Edward, we started to Arizona by way of Lees Ferry, crossing the Colorado.  Then through that basin country, until we came to the Little Colorado.  Just crossed and here came a terrible flood, we had barely got over.  It flooded the whole country going up to the Needles.  We met up with some very bad Indians, they made some real threats.  The snow was real deep, but got through to the ranch, then to Flagstaff.  Laid over one day, then down to the mountain Springs, near by we camped in a grove of timber on the 15 or 16.  There came a regular blizzard.  We caught our horses.  As it kept getting worse, we hitched up and pulled our wagons out in the clearing.  It finally cleared, by morning; the trees were all laying flat and twisted in all shapes where we had first camped.  We traveled over some very rough and dangerous road; we arrived in Lehi on the 23.  Mother was very glad to see us.  It had been six years since we had seen them.”

Early the next year, George had an unusual vision which he recounted in his journal.  He said, “February 1888 I dreamed that I saw a young couple just ready to get married.  He was called on a mission to the Lamanites, so they decided to wait until he was released.  I saw him pass away, saw the funeral procession, saw him laid in the grave in a foreign land.  She was almost crazy with grief.  Then I saw her go into the St. George Temple with another man; saw her kneeling at the altar being sealed to him for time and eternity.  These things I saw, worry me so I could not think of anything else.  So I told my dear wife, and also mother.  They were terribly worked up also.  Mother said, “Will you know the couple if you see them again?”  I said I would, but the young man I will not see, he will die in a foreign land.  A couple of weeks later I went into a store to get some grain and saw the young woman.  I told mother and she went and told Sister McDonal what I said, that girl was Magy Mack.  After, Mage Mack married Sarn Sarnsen in the St. George Temple, just as I had seen it.”

George and his brother William worked on the All American Canal during their stay in Arizona.  George also worked on the Hiland Canal.  While working on the Hiland Canal, George had an unusual dream or vision, which he described in his journal.  He said, “3 October 1888. I was working east of Mesa on the Hiland Canal.  I was waked up by a light that was in the tent where I was sleeping.  I saw a young woman in the most beautiful flower garden that I had ever seen, very interested with three small boys, when she spoke I said, “Eve Olsen, I did not know you were married.”  She said, “George do you not know those boys.  I looked, and they were mine.  She said “I am, and will, take care of them until Clarinda and you come.  There were others that discovered the light, came running thinking it was a fire, the light went out.  At day break they came for me saying, your baby boy is very sick.  On the 6 October 1888 John Edward died, on the 31 Dec. William Henry died.  And on 14 Jan. 1889 Culbert Loren died.  My dear wife was almost overcome with grief.  I decided there was nothing in the gospel and administering to the sick, if so why did not God come and answer the prayer of the Presidency and his counselors and bishopric as they surrounded the bed and told Lorin he would live and go preach the gospel and would bring thousands into the knowledge of the truth, but he died.  I say when men such as those make such promises, there cannot be anything in it.  But my dear wife was firm in her desires and faith; she knew God was true and just.  Lorin could speak the Pima language perfectly and there were over 100 Indians that followed his body to the grave.”

George’s dissatisfaction with gospel and his priesthood leaders was short lived.  He later described events that caused him to embrace the gospel again:  “In March 1889 President John Henry Smith and Francis M. Lyman came to Mesa to quarterly conference.  They came and stopped with us, after they got set down Brother Lyman started talking about our children, and how we should live so that when we were…to leave this life, we could go and be with our boys for  every word that been spoken of them, by the brethren, would be fulfilled to the very letter. Then after supper Bro. John Henry took it up where Bro. Lyman left off.  There was the stake president and the bishops and many of the brethren came in.  At eleven thirty all returned to their homes. In the morning we all went to meeting.  At the close of Conference Bro. John Henry says to me, well George, what about the gospel?  I was thoroughly convinced.  He said, Lorin go and preach the gospel to those people that has passed away of your forefathers and you will go into the temple, and do the work for many of them.”

But as a result of the deaths of three of their children, Esther Clarinda suffered a nervous breakdown.  On the advice of their doctor, George and Clarinda moved the remainder of their family back to their home in Coyote.

One June 12, 1891 George received a call by President Wilford Woodruff to fulfill a mission in the British Isles.  Prior to leaving, George was ordained a Seventy in the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood on 4 September 1891, by Abraham H. Cannon.  On the following day, 5 September, George left Coyote to begin his mission.

As he started his mission, Clarinda and their three children: George K., Bertha, and Collins accompanied George as far as Salt Lake City.  George’s brother, John (who had been working in Oregon, but returned to see his brother, George) also accompanied George to SaltLake, which was the terminal for the railroad.

On Clarinda’s trip back to Coyote, the baby, Collins, was sick.  They stayed one night at Monroe with Nephi Bates (George’s uncle).  Collins was very sick, and Clarinda stayed up, caring for him, and waiting patiently for a change to come over him.  She did not want to lose him, but if that was God’s will she would face it.  The wee hours of the morning came, and Collins passed away.  It was a terrible shock to her, but she knew she had to stick it out bravely.  A day later she brought the corpse home.  Out of the seven children born to them up to then, this made the fifth to die at an early age.

The first letter George received from home when I arrived on British soil was to tell him of Collin’s, death.  George was shocked and discouraged, and wanted to go home; but his wife said in her letter, “Don’t come home, George, I want you to finish your mission.  We will be all right here at home.”

One of his companions was Senator Reed Smoot (he was later an apostle), who to his dying day paid tribute to George for his faith and patience in helping him to gain a testimony of the Gospel.  George also told his daughter that one of his companions was Heber J. Grant.

George served in Sheffield, England.  At one time George and his companion went into a spiritualist meeting; immediately everything stopped.  They wondered what had happened.  Finally the medium, who was calling up the dead spirits, stood up and asked them to leave, saying, “You have a power greater than mine.”

Another time a very small girl lay dying.  Her doctor said it would be impossible for her to live.  George laid his hands on her head and promised her, by the Spirit of God, that she would live, and come to Utah to do the Lord’s work.  She did, many years later.

There was still another occasion when George said that the people were hard to preach to, because they had certain ideas and nothing could change their minds.  One night, he went home very discouraged.  As he was climbing the stairs he noticed that a man was waiting for him at the top.  As he reached the top of the stairs this man walked toward George, and then asked George who he was.  George told him, and the man then said, “I am John, the apostle to Jesus.  I have been preaching the Gospel for hundred of years.”  They talked awhile about the Gospel, and John gave him points on what to do and how to be more successful.  A few minutes later the man disappeared.

When on his was back to Utah, in 1893, the ship in which he traveled had five other missionaries, as well as some converts to the Church.  A fire started in the engine room, damaging the ship.  They were stopped in mid-ocean thirteen hours for repairs.  There were no lives lost.  Another ship that had been traveling along-side them went ahead, but was caught in a terrible storm.  It was wrecked, taking the lives of many passengers.  When the ship George was on started again on their journey, the Captain commented, “I always feel safe when Mormons missionaries are onboard my ships.”

While George was away in England, his wife taught school in the winter and worked the farm and milked cows to keep pay for her family’s support and to send money to George on his mission.  She always said, “Our Father in Heaven was my helper.”

While George was in the British Isles, he visited Ireland.  His father’s birthplace was at Lisburn, Ireland; and his grandfather, William Black, was born in Belfast, Ireland.  While in Ireland, George was able to obtain some genealogical records regarding his ancestors.

After his return to Utah, on February 25 or 26, 1894, George was ordained a High Priest and set apart as Second Counselor to Bishop Culbert King of the Marion Ward by Mahonri or Mahand M. Steel (serving in that capacity until Bishop King was released).  He then served as First Counselor to Bishop Culbert Levi King until the Bishop resigned.  Later, on September 10, 1908, he was set apart by Francis M. Lyman (father of a later apostle by the same last name) as Bishop of the Marion Ward, in Panguitch Stake.  He was released on April 4, 1917.

After being released as Bishop, he and his wife moved to Manti to be closer to MantiTemple and perform temple work for their ancestors.  George lived the remainder of his life in Manti.

George told many stories to his children, hoping it would give them more courage and help them to believe in the Church of Jesus Christ.  One evening a dance was build held in the Antimony Hall, but George did not go.  About midnight someone came for him.  Reuben Jolley was drunk and was shooting at the dancers’ feet.  George went to the dance hall immediately, and sure enough the girls and boys were jumping high, hoping they wouldn’t be hit by one of the bullets.  He spoke to Reuben, and Reuben put down his guns and said, “You are the only one I have respect for,” and left the dance hall with George.

One day while riding after cattle with Archie Hunter, a pioneer of Antimony, they were caught in a rain storm on the mountain and sought shelter under a large saw-log tree.  He received a whispering message to move.  George said to Mr. Hunter that they had better move.  Mr. Hunter wondered what was going on, but George kept insisting.  Finally they climbed into their saddles, and were hardly fifty feet away when the lightning struck the tree, scattering it into many pieces.

At another time he and Mr. Hunter were riding in the mountains.  A terrible blizzard struck.  They were lost two days, not knowing how to get home or what direction it was.  They prayed continuously, finally found the way home, nearly dead from cold, exposure, and very little food.

One of George’s greatest gifts throughout his life was the gift of healing.  He was called into the homes of the saints to bless and administer to them.

The last twenty-three years of his life were spent in temple work.  Here also he received many spiritual blessings.  He bore testimony of having talked to people who formerly lived here on earth on matters concerning his own family records.  In the Genealogical Magazines are some of the spiritual manifestations he received in the temple.  At one time, year unknown, he met and talked with the Savior in the temple.  George said that when he met Christ on the other side he would know him as one man knows another.

One time, when George was taking tourists around the temple grounds, the tourists could hear singing from the temple, and they thought it was so beautiful.  They asked him who was singing, but it was Sunday and no one was in the temple that day.

Before George’s wife, Clarinda, died in 1923, she and George performed sealings in the temple many times for his relatives who had died centuries before.  One of these times the president of the temple performed the ceremony, and when it was nearly over and George was asked if he would take this woman to be his wife, he did not answer.  A few minutes later, he came to.  They asked him why he did not answer.  George said to them, “It was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  I saw the people we had been proxy for unite together and fall into each other’s arms.  They had been separated all these years, unable to be with each other.”

The latter part of his life, he became a night watchman in the temple.  One day, after a session in the temple was over and all the people had gone, George walked around to see if anyone else was in there.  He saw a man standing by the window looking through records.  George went over to him ready to speak, and then recognized him to be his father-in-law, Culbert King.  He kept turning the pages, one by one.  Then spoke and said, “Look here at these records of the King family.  You notice that on my side of the family it is very incomplete.  I wish someone would see to it that they were done.” Later, George saw to it that the King family’s temple work was performed.

On April 10, 1923, George’s sweetheart, Esther Clarinda King, and mother of their ten children, died.  A few years later, in 1927, George married either (a) Mary Alvey in the SaltLakeTemple, or (b) Mary A. Heaps in the MantiTemple.  It appears he was married just for time.  His second wife died in 1931.

On December 5, 1932, he married someone named either (a) Kathryn Miller or (b) Nettie Catherine Miller in the Manti Temple for time and eternity.

Everyone loved him who knew him.  He was a farmer and stock raiser, and served his fellow citizens for a number of years as Justice of the Peace.

On November 1, 1940, news came that he had died that morning, not suffering at all.[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, history by his daughter, Susan Black Robison, and history by his great granddaughter, LaRae Mathews, agree that his birth date was May 23, 1854.  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 by his daughter and great granddaughter agree with this marriage date, and indicate that the marriage occurred in the St. George Temple.  Death Certificate:  George Black, Death Certificate, , Registrar’s Number 34, State File Number 105 (4003267 is also stamped on the certificate), Utah Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Also from George Black, Death Certificate, Series 81448, Entry 17989, 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: No known obituary.