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Sandford Bingham

Life Sketch of Sanford Bingham, Senior

son of Erastus Bingham [and Lucinda Gates],

who was the son of Sarah (Sally) Perry [and Elisha Warner Bingham],

who was the daughter of Capt. David Perry [and Anna Bliss]


Life Sketch of Sanford Bingham, Senior (autobiography)



Toward the end of her life, my grandmother, Amanda Cannon Chamberlin Bingham, gave me a typewritten transcript of the life sketch of Sanford Bingham, Sr. Notwithstanding some obvious typographical and grammatical errors, I believe it to be a true and accurate transcription. That it is as it claims to be "Copied from original handwriting" produced by Sanford himself. Who made this transcription, I do not know, but I have treasured this short first-person account and have read it from time to time throughout my life.

Thinking that other descendants of this great man may not know that this record exists, and feeling that it must be preserved, I have carefully copied the typescript to make this account available to those who are interested. It would be most interesting to find the original document and compare it with the transcription copy my Grandmother gave to me. So, if any one out there knows of the whereabouts of the original, or a copy of the original, I would appreciate being contacted--Richard C. Bingham, 290 East Casa Loma Drive, Centerville, Utah 84014, 801-298-2019, or by email at Rick@LDS.NET.

Judging from this typescript copy, this account was written on at least three different occasions, as there are date indicating separate periods of writing. The original probably did not have paragraphs, but was one long narrative. There are lengthy sentences, a few spelling errors, and incomplete sentences. I have taken the liberty of breaking the narrative into paragraphs, breaking a very few lengthy sentences into more comfortable lengths, correcting minor punctuation, grammar and spelling errors, and inserting a pronoun or two. However, I have kept the entire content and the manner of expression. Some of the lengthy rambling sentences were impossible to break into two, so they remain. The few changes made are only to improve readability. It is my desire to preserve this precious document for the posterity of Sanford Bingham, so that they may always remember the noble heritage from which they come.


Richard C. Bingham, great-great-grandson of Sanford Bingham and Agnes

Fife 28 April1996



Riverdale, Utah, February 1, 1901

Life Sketch of Sanford Bingham, Senior

(copied from the original handwriting)

I, Sanford Bingham, son of Erastus Bingham and Lucinda Gates, was born 3rd May 1821 in the town of Concord, Essex Co., Vermont. My parents moved to Littleton, New Hampshire when I was about three years old and lived there until I was nearly nine years old when they moved back to the old farm in Concord, Vermont, which was about the 20th February 1830. I distinctly remember a circumstance that occurred in the autumn of the latter part of the summer of 1829, while I was watching or herding the cows in the field, or on the meadow, to keep them from getting into the corn. I prayed unto the Lord to forgive my sins. I earnestly pled with the Lord, for I had been taught by my mother and her sister Sally that all mankind were sinners, and that there is a God who is merciful and would forgive the sins of those who sought him in humble prayer. And while I was thus praying there came around me a light which was superior to the light of the sun and completely encircled me, so that I was in a ball of light extending a few feet out from me, and Oh! When I contemplate and reflect upon it, how great the testimony that there is a God who hears and answers the prayers of the humble honest hearted mortal being in his own time and according to his own wisdom.

In the spring of 1833 one of the Elders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came into our part of the country preaching the Gospel. And my father went to his meeting to hear what he had to say, and afterwards had the privilege of reading The Book of Mormon.

In the following fall, other Elders came into that part of the country and my parents and myself had the privilege of investigating the principles they taught, and was satisfied they taught the Gospel of the son of God. And being convinced, my father and mother and sister Mary were baptized on the eleventh day of November 1833, and I was baptized on the 18th November 1833 by Elder Evens. I do not know his given name, but he had a daughter Maria who was a spiritually minded girl and used to be a good interpreter of tongues in testimony meeting.

I had been religiously inclined for some time before I was baptized but had never professed any faith or joined any church until I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When I was confirmed I felt that peaceful influence and assurance of the truth of Mormonism, as it was sometimes called, which has been with me ever since, to the extent that I have never really doubted but remain in full faith having had many testimonies and assurances of its truth.

In the fall of 1835 the first Quorum of the the Twelve Apostles traveled in the New England States holding Conferences, and they all stayed at my Father's home one night and held a council meeting in the evening. Brother Brigham Young, one of the members of the first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said to my father (while he was living in Nauvoo) [that] the meeting of the Twelve held at your house in Vermont in the fall of 1835, was the only one wherein they were all together after their organization into the Quorum.

In the spring of 1836 my father sold his farm in Concord, Vermont and started west to go to the then gathering place of the Latter-day Saints. Starting on the 8th day of June, arriving at Kirtland, Ohio or vicinity about the 5th or 6th of July 1836, remaining in that vicinity until the 1st day of September following. While there we had the great privilege of hearing the Prophet Joseph Smith preach in the Kirtland Temple under that Heavenly and noble influence which was constantly with him when speaking in public.

Our reason for stopping at Kirtland, as long as we did, was that we were told that the flies were so bad on the Illinois prairies that it was almost impossible to drive horses across. But it rained so much from the time that we started on the 1st of September that it was almost impossible through the State of Indiana, so that we did not arrive at the vicinity of Farwest, Missouri until about the 4th of November 1836. We stopped at my mother's brother, Jacob Gates, who had been in Missouri ever since Zions Camp went there, he being one of that company.

After looking around awhile my father selected a place about two and one-half miles from Farwest, across the Schoal Creek, and built a log cabin and lived there until the spring of 1839, having to leave on account of the exterminating order of Governor L.W. Boggs.

We came into Illinois, Hancock County, near the town of LaHarp and remained in that vicinity, renting farms where we could until the spring of 1845 when my father bought a farm or piece of land about twenty miles westerly from Nauvoo. And in the fall of that year mobs arose against the Latter-day Saints, so to save bloodshed the authorities of the Church agreed that the Church should move out the State of Illinois. Hence, as in the state of Missouri, what property we could not take with us had to be sold at a great sacrifice.

We started from our home in Illinois to go out west among the savages, not knowing where, on the 6th day of May 1846. Others with the leaders of the Church had gone in the winter and early spring before. We traveled through Iowa to Council Bluff or vicinity, remaining there a few weeks until two companies were organized, one called Brigham's Company, the other Heber's Company. Then we started traveling westerly according to the directions of the Twelve Apostles, Brigham Young being President, to find a place for the Saints to dwell in peace.

We traveled up the Platt River until we came to the Loop Fork where we overtook Bishop George Miller with his company of fifty. At that place we received a message from President Young requesting all three Companies to stop and make our winter quarters in that vicinity as it was getting late in the season, to late to go far from settlements. At that time there were a number of Ponca Chiefs at Loop Fork who had been holding counsel meetings with other Chiefs, or with the Chiefs of other tribes. And they, the Ponca Chiefs, invited us to go and winter with them, saying it was but a short distance over to the Missouri River where they lived, and there was an excellent chance for stock to winter. So Brigham's fifty and Miller's fifty concluded to go there to winter. We built log cabins to winter in on what was called Swift water, a tributary of the Missouri River, and not far from its junction. The Indians were friendly and we wintered there in peace. While there and having no vegetables, there were quite a number died with scurvey.

In the spring of 1847 we left our winter quarters at Ponca and went down to the winter quarters near Council Bluffs about 150 miles from Ponca. We remained at that place while my father went down into Missouri to obtain supplies for a long journey and to last one and one-half years, until we could raise bread stuff in the unknown distant land, our prospective home. After making necessary preparation and getting across the Elkhorn River we started on our long journey about the eleventh day of June 1847, traveling up the north side of the Platt River in a company of 666 wagons. A few more were added to the company after we started. Many Buffaloes were seen and some were captured as we were traveling up the Platt, quite a distance from civilization. The company being so large [it was] organized with Captains of tens, fifties, and hundreds, so that the best of order was maintained. Yet it was very unpleasant because it would be so late before the last wagon could start from camp in the morning and late before it could get into camp at night, although there were two wagons traveled abreast the rest traveling in the same order making two roads.

When we had traveled two or three days above the head of Grandels land in the Platt River, I took Martha Ann Lewis to be my wife, who was married to me by Apostle Parley P. Pratt on Sunday the 18th day of July 1847. Our wedding dinner was cooked over the heat of burning Buffalo chips as there was no wood in that part of the country. We arrived in Salt Lake Valley September 19th, 1847, being the first from the East after the first Pioneers, others arriving for nearly a month who started the same time we did. The company divided up when we came to the sand hills below Larima<2> and the black hills above Larima. We were ahead that is what made different our arrivals. We built log houses in fort style to dwell in at that time without any floor or roof except dirt with something to support it as there was no lumber or saw mills in the country, it being a desert without inhabitance except the wild Indians.

I worked at my trade tailoring the first winter, but it did not agree with me as I had been out of practice the last two years or more and had been riding on horseback the last two summers driving loose cattle across the plains. I was born with club feet and remained that way until I was twenty-four years old, when I commenced to have them straightened, and it was two years or more before I could walk without crutches or a cane. As tailoring did not agree with me I changed from that to herding milk cows, and in August of the same year commenced a public herd <3> in company with my brother Thomas about 18 or 20 miles southwest of Salt Lake City and about two miles down the creek from the mouth of what is now called Bingham Canyon. We continued in that business until July 1849.

September 1st, 1848, my first child was born in Salt Lake City, which we gave the name Sanford after myself. From the time we quit the herd we lived in Salt Lake City, until the spring of 1850, when we moved to where Ogden City now is. Remaining there through the summer, and raised a crop of grain and potatoes, it being the first potatoes we had raised since we left Illinois. On the 29th January 1850 a daughter was born in Salt Lake City. We named her Martha Ann after her mother.

I am now writing this sketch or a part of it in August 1903. The place we had taken up - where Ogden now is, on which to make a home was in the fall after, on which is located the City of Ogden, hence we - that is my father and I sold our claim to President Brigham Young and moved over north of Ogden River to a place called Farr's Fort to winter, and in the spring of 1851 we moved northwesterly about two and one half miles to a place which shortly after was called Bingham Fort, but now is called Lynne, and took up a piece of land and made us a farm and home.

September 25th, 1851 a son was born which we named Benjamin Franklin. We continued in that place until the spring of 1853, when I moved to a place called North ogden, but is now called Pleasantview, and took up a piece of land, built a log house and raised wheat there that summer. My son John was born there the 30th of May 1853.

In the fall of the same year, President Brigham Young requested the people of the Territory to build forts and move into them. But as I did not want to move into North Ogden, I moved back to and helped to build Bingham Fort, remaining there assisting my father, the Bishop, as Ward Clerk. 30th December 1854 Sophia Cordelia was born.

The winter of 1855 and 6 was very hard and long, such as had never been since we came into the valley. Cattle and horses had wintered well without hay or grain before this winter, but the snow was so deep, commencing the middle of November and lasting until April that the majority of the cattle died.

In the spring of 1856 I was chosen by the County Court to be the Assessor and Collector of the Weber County Taxes, also to be the Assessor and Collector of Ogden City Taxes, continuing in that capacity until and including the year 1873.

16th October 1856 William was born. 28th August 1858 Joannah was born. 23rd June 1860 Joseph Smith was born.

A part of the time while living at this place I was acting in the capacity of Constable and the latter part of the time as Justice of the Peace and as a member of the High Council of the Weber Stake of Zion, being ordained High Priest and set apart to that calling February 1861 under the hands of [this info is left off of the typescript. Need to research ordination and add]

January 2nd, 1862, I bought a farm from John C. Thompson in Riverdale, Weber County, Utah, and moved there on the 7th of the same month. 25th March 1862 Elisha Erastus was born.

10th October 1863 I took Agnes Fife to be my second wife to stand side by side with my first wife. To this marriage was born Martha Agnes 25th August 1864. Adam Aranthon born 14th November 1865, Walter born 29th April 1867, Ellen born 30th March 1869, Mary born 5th January 1871, Enoch born 12th December 1872, Margaret Ann born 22nd October 1874, Sanford James born 2nd March 1877, Andrew born 19th January 1879, Tracy Francis born 2nd August 1882, Oscar born 18th August 1884, Norman Fife born 18th September 1886, and Maria Louisa born 31st May 1895. 7th November 1864 Rebecca Jane was born. And in the same year I was Justice of the Peace in the Riverdale Precinct, in 1865 a member of the Board of Trustees in the Riverdale School District and drawed up specifications and plan of the Cobble Rock School House, over the building of which I had the supervision. 16th September 1866 Lorin Beason was born, he being the last son of my first wife.

In the spring or summer of 1868 I was appointed, with a few others, as assistance by the Territorial Legislature to build a bridge over the Weber River in this place, which I did. And having the general supervision thereof I presented the Bill of Expense to the next Legislature and received the pay without any remonstrance.

In September 1868 I was chosen and appointed to be President of the Riverdale District of the Weber Ward, as the whole county was at that time one Ward. I had two Counselors, namely, W.G. Child and William Stimpson and soon after was released from acting as Councilman in the High Council.

The 27th November 1868 Lucinda Elizabeth was born, a few days after the birth my wife Martha Ann, her mother, was taken very sick and continued so until I began to think I should loose her unless some higher power than mortal man should intervene. Therefore, I sent my oldest son Sanford over to Ogden to get some Olive Oil, and get two Elders, namely David Nelson, Sr. and Lester J. Herick to come and administer to her. When they came Brother Herick was mouth in consecrating the oil and Brother Nelson was mouth in administering to her. He said she should be healed and as the dew of the morning passeth away so shall she become strong, or to that effect. She felt while our hands were upon her head that the disease was broken up and from that time she began to gain strength and it was not long until she was up and doing her house work.

In 1868 and 1869 I was Deputy U.S. Collector for the Counties of Weber and Box Elder, under R.T. Burton as U.S. Collector for Utah Territory. From the spring of 1850 until January 1862, I was interested with my father in the farming business. I then sold my interest to my father. The farm I bought in Riverdale I conducted until the spring of 1885, when I turned it over to the care of my sons.

May 18th, 1885 I left home because of the raid against polygamists and on the 28th of the same month U.S. officers came to my house and searched for me. Not finding me, they took some of my family before the Grand Jury and through their truthful answers to questions propounded, got out an indightment against me. I remained away from home the most of the time the latter part of December 1888. When I returned home, arranged my business, and on the 7th January 1889, gave myself up to the Court, received my sentence, went to the Utah Penitentiary, remaining there until the 6th of April following, when I was released having completed my full sentence. Before I went to the Pen I deeded my farm here to my wives reserving the right by their consent to dictate in how it should be conducted or whether it should be sold or not.

I am now writing this August 12th, 1904. I, in company with Alonzo O. Perry, started on a mission to the New England States Wednesday, November 15th, 1876, spending most of our time in the state of Vermont, traveling among relatives and friends, preaching the Gospel and searching for genealogy. But, I became very hoarse through the winter and because of that was called home in the spring of 1877, arriving April 18th.

On the 28th of May 1877 I was chosen, ordained, and set apart under the hands of Elders John Taylor, F.D. Richards, Erastus Snow, and D.H. Peery (Erastus Snow being mouth) to be Bishop of the Riverdale Ward of the Weber Stake of Zion. And on the 14th day of June 1877, a Ward meeting was called by the Presidency of the Weber Stake for the purpose of completing the organization of the Riverdale Ward. At that meeting John C. Thompson of the 54 Quorum of Seventies was chosen by the request of D.H. Peery, President of the Weber State, and Apostle F.D. Richards, to be my first councilor, and William Stimpson of the 53 Quorum of Seventies to be my second councilor. And, they were ordained by Apostle F.D. Richards.

I continued to be the Bishop of the Riverdale Ward, trying to magnify that calling to the satisfaction of the presidency of the Stake and the presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having joy in my labors, until January 20th, 1902, when I was honorably released because of my infirmities and old age, and ordained a Patriarch under the hands of Apostle John Henry Smith and Hyrum Mack Smith (John Henry Smith being mouth). Most of the time while laboring as a Bishop I received no moneyed remuneration, but worked with as much zeal and joy as when I received a money remuneration, for I felt I was in the work of the Lord and my reward was sure.

May 3rd, 1906 the 85th anniversary of my birth, a number of my children who were not living very far away and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the number of 91 came and gave me a hearty surprise. They brought with them a sumptuous picnic which was served in the afternoon. We had a splendid visit and an enjoyable time, which I enjoyed very much because of the love and friendship manifested. While my children were here, they made arrangements to get me a watch as a birthday present, unbeknown to me. So on the 9th day after the surprise my son Joseph brought me the golden token of love and respect, a very fine gold watch and chain, which was thankfully received because of the great love represented. The wife of John M. Lewis, my first wife's brother, was one of the guests of the surprise party and gave one dollar towards the watch.



<1> Sanford Bingham died 21 November 1910, and was buried November 25 beside his wife Martha in the Ogden City Cemetery.

<2> Larima = probably Laramie, Wyoming.

<3> Public herd. ìThe Utah History Encyclopediaî <>says: ìBingham Canyon is located in the Oquirrh Mountains approximately twenty-five miles southwest of Salt Lake City. The canyon was first settled in August 1848 by two Mormon pioneers, Thomas and Sanford Bingham. The two brothers had been sent to the area by Brigham Young, who requested that they take a herd of horses and cattle belonging to himself, the Bingham family, and others up to the high land around the main canyon. They erected a small cabin about one-and-a-half miles below the entrance to the canyon on the north side of its creek.

The canyon proved to be an ideal place not only for herding cattle, but also for cutting timber. For the next few years, the Bingham brothers spent their time engaged in these pursuits, and also in prospecting for valuable minerals. Some ores were found but the Bingham were advised by Brigham Young not to engage in mining at that time. The policy of the Mormon Church discouraged mining because all available labor was desperately needed to produce the necessities of life. There was also the fear that mining would attract non-Mormons from out of state and have a degrading effect upon those who engaged in it. The ore finds were soon forgotten after 1850 when the Binghams moved to settle Weber County.î

Notes by Denise G. Jones, 2001


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