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Biography of George Compton 1846-1925

Written by a daughter Leone Compton Christensen

My father, George Compton, was born on Front Street, Parish of Passenham, Deanshanger, England, 10 May 1846, to Elizabeth Andrews and James Compton. He had two brothers, Oliver and Albert, and two sisters, Sarah Anne and Eliza.

He was baptized by William Cull in 1865, the only one in his family to join the church.

When a small boy, Father often wandered down by a small creek and enjoyed himself catching pike fish.

Before he was in his teens, he worked for neighboring farmers.

He had little actual schooling as it became necessary for him to leave school before he was even able to write his own name. Father received most of his education in "The School of Life" and in real experiences. He leamed to be an excellent speller and reader through diligently studying pieces of newspapers, that he had found and saved. He would carry these pieces of newspaper home. In the evenings in front of the fireplace, he would spell and sound out the words. Whenever he had any spare time he would study.

While still in his teens, Father became a stationary engineer at Wolverton Station which is a foundry in Deanshanger. With the money he earned, he helped support his younger brothers and sisters because his father drank heavily. Father worked at this shop until he was twenty-two years of age. At that time he decided to leave his home in England, because of economic and religious reasons, and come to America. His decision to leave was partly through the influence of Joseph and Thomas Durrant.

On the 29th of June 1868, he boarded the ship Minnesota, knowing he would never see his family or friends again. After praying and singing by the passengers, the Minnesota set sail for America.

The weather was clear and the sea was beautiful. About the fourth day out at sea, Father became sea sick, but was soon well again. He saw several large icebergs and whales at sea.

At daybreak, on the 12th day of July 1868, the Minnesota steamed into New York Harbor. From New York, Father traveled to Castle Garden's and boarded a ferry boat which took him to the Hudson River Station. From there he boarded the New York Central train and arrived at the Great Western Station, Canada, at half past eight in the evening. He passed by the famed Niagara Falls in the evening and arrived at Camden, Canada, at 8:00 p.m.. South of Camden was the Great Canadian Swamp, which was fifteen miles long. After passing the swamp, he crossed the Detroit River in a ferry boat, then traveled on the Michigan Central Railroad, through Michigan then to Chicago, Illinois. From there Father boarded the Chicago and Northwestem train, and arrived at Council Bluffs, lowa at midnight. Leaving Council Bluffs, he crossed the Missouri River in a ferry boat the Irene to Omaha. Father boarded the train at the Union Pacific station in Omaha, Nebraska. While riding on the train, he saw a large prairie fire, the first he had ever seen. He had a real surprise when he saw a band of Indians at Willow Island.

He arrived at Fort Laramie on the 22 of July, this was an important fort in history. This was as far as the railroad extended at that time. The confluence of the river called the Laramie, with the Platte River, was the site where Old Fort Laramie was built. The walls of the fort were made of adobe or sun dried bricks, approximately 130 feet square. In 1849 the fort was sold to the United States Govemment, and barracks for the military were established.

The next stopping place after leaving Fort Laramie was Fort Bridger, built in 1843 by James Bridger, one of the noted scouts and frontiersmen of the Rocky Mountains. Fort Bridger was one of the best fortified forts of the West, it was a block fort at one branch of the Green River. It was located in a beautiful little valley. Willows and cotton woods fringed the streams for miles. The fort was built in the usual form of pickets, lodging apartments and offices opening into a hollow square, protected from attacks from without by a strong timber gate. Leaving this picturesque little fort, Father started to cross the plains with a company on 24~ July. They traveled about twenty miles a day. The sun was hot and the air sultry, the country was flat all around him and he could see for miles.

While fording the South Platte River, one of the company, a young man seventeen years of age was drowned. He was the only support of his blind mother.

On the night of August 4~, the company camped at Whiskey Gap, Wyoming. Some of the men took the horses and mules to the river to water them. All at once the Indians who had hidden themselves in the bushes came out whooping and waving buffalo hides to frighten the animals. The Indians were successful in their plan and drove off most of the animals (about 47). As they were doing this, the camp leader realized what was happening and shouted, "look to your animals, boys, look to your animals!" Too late! The thieves sped away driving the best animals in head of them. Upon looking around, several horses were found that had been left behind and were good runners. Several men jumped on these and started after the Indians. Much later these men returned, not only with the animals that belonged to the camp, but also those that belonged to the Indians. No matter how much they were questioned, or who questioned them, they would not tell what they had done to the Indians. Everyone figured they had killed them. That night smoke signals were seen on the surrounding hills. The leader of the company wagon train understood the signals and moved his company out immediately, traveling all night.

Independence Rock, the Great Register of the desert, was the next stopping place. The name of the rock was given it by a party of trappers who in the early history of the trail, ascended the rock and held services in honor of Independence Day.

The company passed Sweet Water, named Eau Sucre or Sugared Water, by a French trader, from the fact that at one time a pack of mules, laden with sugar, was lost in the stream. From Sweet Water, the company passed Pacific Springs, one of the highest altitudes in America.

While crossing the Green River, six boys from were drowned. This river is very deceiving. The under current of the river is much swifter than the top current. The company forded Ham Fork, passed the Muddy River in Wyoming and forded the Bear River

They entered Echo Canyon and from there the company traveled through Coalville, Wanship, Parleys' Canyon and arrived at Emigration Canyon on August 201h.

"As they gazed with wonder and admiration upon the vast valley before them, it seemed to be clothed in a heavy garment of vegetation, and in the middle was the glistening salt water of the Great Salt Lake. Snow capped mountains towered into the skies, crystal clear streams were winding from one foothill to another. After crossing the great prairie where there was no sign of civilization or cultivation, this valley seemed like a paradise."

Thus ended Father's journey from England to Utah in 1868. Most of the preceding account was taken from father's diary.

The following was taken from George Compton's diary, Journal of Events for 1868. Guion Line of Steam ships, Minnesota.


June 29: Left home at 6 a.m., arrived at Liverpool at half past 8. Loaded at half past10 p.m.

June 30: Prayers and singing at half past 1 1, steamed off at half past 3. All well.

July 1: Clear weather. Arrived at Queenstown at half past 12. Started out at 2. All well.

July2: Allwell. Beautiful scenery.

July 3: All well. Ditto. Fine weather.

July 4: Rather sickly.

July 5: Ditto. Fine weather.

July 6: Saw a large whale. All well.

July 7: Saw three large icebergs.

July 8: Saw hundreds of grampus fish.

July 9: Passed several vessels.

July 10: All Well.

July 11: Pilot came on board. Passed John Bright.

July 12: Land in sight at daylight, arrived at New York at 10 a.m.

July 13: Came off the Minnesota 11 a.m. Arrived at Castle Gardens half past 11 a.m. Started from Castle Gardens in a ferry boat at half past four. Arrived at Hudson River Station at 6 p.m.

July 14: Very hot. Started by train at four o'clock. Passed through Albany at 1 p.m. Started on New York Central at 3 p.m.

July 15: Arrived at Great Western Station at half past 8 a.m. Passed the Niagara Falls at evening. Arrived at Camden, 8 a.m. Crossed a Canadian swamp 15 miles long. Arrived at Detroit River. Crossed in a ferry boat at half past 3 p.m. Started on the Michigan Central at half past 5 p.m.

July 16: Passed through Michigan.

July 17: Arrived at Chicago. Stayed all night.

July 18: Started on the Chicago and Northwestem at half past 11 a.m.

July 19: Arrived at Council Bluffs at 12 to night.

July 20: Started from Council Bluffs at 5 a.m. Arrived at Missouri River at 6 a.m. Crossed the Missouri River in the ferry. Six of the company sun struck. Boat Irene to Omaha. Stayed in Omaha till evening. Started on the Union Pacific Railroad at 5 a.m.

July 21: Prairie on fire. 18 wagons going past. Passed a band of Indians at Willow Island. Saw a large number of prairie dogs.

July 22: Saw a large number of Indians and ponies. Camps, prairie dogs at 8528 feet above level of the sea. Arrived at Fort Laramie 3 p.m.

July 23: Stayed in camp.

July 24: Started on the plains at 9 a.m.

July 25: Traveled 20 miles.

July 26: All well.

July 27: Ditto.

July 28: Forded South Platte River. Young man age 17 drowned. He was the only support of a blind mother.

July 29: Went out shooting game.

August 1: Saw large numbers of antelope. Ditto.

August 2: Saw two buffaloes.

August 3: Very sandy and hot.

August 4: Indians stole 47 mules. Got them back and killed the two Indians at whiskey Gap.

August 5: Passed through Whiskey Gap.

August 6: Struck the Sweetwaters. Indians hostile.

August 7: Rather sickly.

August 8: All well. Stopped at Pacific Springs. The highest altitude in America. Very cold.

August 9: Passed the Sweetwaters mines.

August 10: Passed railroad camps.

August 11: Ditto.

August 12: Crossed Green River in a ferry boat. Six boys from Sanpete County drowned.

August 13: Forded Ham Fork.

August 14: Passed the Muddy River, Wyoming

August 15: Arrived at the Great Basin. Forded the Bear River.

August 16: Passed over the rim of the Great Basin.

August 17: Passed through Echo Canyon.

August 18: Passed through Echo City. Also Coalville.

August 19: Passed through Wanship and Parley's Park.

August 20: Passed over the summit. Arrived at Salt Lake City at half past 3 p.m.

August 21: Started from Salt Lake City at 8 p.m. Camped at Kaysville.

August 22: Started from Kaysville on foot. Arrived at Morgan City at 6 p.m.

August 23: Stayed at Thomas Adams'.

August 24: Visited the Deanshanger folks.

August 25: Stayed at Morgan City.

August 26: Stayed at William Morris's.

August 27: Went up to Thomas Adams'.

August 28: Went out shooting.

August 29: Stayed at Thomas Adams'.

August 30: Wrote a letter home.

August 31: Started work on the Union Pacific Railroad for Sharp and Young.


George Compton started working on the Union Pacific Railroad, August 31, 1868 for Sharp and Young. At this time the railroad was being constructed through Morgan County. It was a blessing for the people of Morgan. The pay was $10.00 a day for man and team to pickup ties in the canyons around the Richville area and haul them to where the tracks were being laid.

George met Eliza Durrant Ursenback, a friend he had known in England. She was a widow with two children, Octave and Sarah Jane. George and Eliza were married November 18, 1873. They lived in Morgan for about seventeen years. She was ill with a heart disease for quite a few years, then died January 8, 1890 in Morgan.

He married Caroline Ager on December 23, 1890. They were the parents of eight children.


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