A SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF JOHN DRYSDALE & EMMA CLARK Written by Martha Hacking, a cousin of Emma Drysdale Knight
John Drysdale was born 8 October 1837 at Hulme , Lancashire, England. He was the son of James and Margaret (Arnot) Drysdale. Against his parents' wishes, he immigrated to American in his early young manhood. Whether he converted to a Morman in England or after he came to American is unknown. He crossed the plains in the Captain Dailey Company in 1853.
John Drysdale settled at Fairfield, Utah living with a family by the name of Smith. Charles F. Smith, his wife, Rowena and their small sons, Charles & Hyrum crossed the plains about the same time as John, but whether they came in the same company or not is not known. They were very close friends and John, being alone, was welcomed as a member of the family. When he had work, he shared his earning with them and if he was unemployed, they shared with him and made him feel at home.
Hearing so much about the gold strike in California, the Smiths and John decided to go and perhaps find themselves a rich gold mine. They stocked up with provisions, and with the family and all bundled into a covered wagon started to follow the lure of gold. They hoped to reach California in plenty of time for the arrival of the new baby the Smiths were expecting, but the roads were very bad, rough and rocky. Crossing the dessert, the sand was so deep they could make but slow progress. Mrs. Smith suffered greatly, and finally somewhere in Nevada found it impossible to go on. The journey had taken so much longer than anticipated that they found themselves without food or money.
After consulting together, John said to his friend, "Charles, you stay here with Rowena and I will go and get work at the sawmill (which was not far from where they stopped) and earn money for food." He started out on foot, and as he trudged along in ankle deep dust, his eyes caught the glint just barely visible in the dust. He stooped and picket it up and to his great joy, found it to be a twenty dollar gold peace. He fairly ran back to camp and gave the gold to his friend Charles saying, "Take this and buy provisions for the family." Charles went with him to the settlement store at the sawmill and got food for his hungry wife and little ones, thankful for the miracle that had been provided for them.
John worked at the sawmill until Charles and Rowena and their new son were ready to continue their journey. With the money he had earned, they were well stocked with provisions and started hopefully on their journey. This story was related to the writer by Maria Smith Cook, daughter of Charles and Rowena. Her mother often told her the story and wondered whatever they would have done had it not been for the staunch and true friend, John Drysdale. Gold mines were not as plentiful in California as they had expected and there were so many gold seekers they felt that they had little chance, so they soon returned to Utah. They now settled at Cedar Fort, Five miles from Fairfield.
John Drysdale had learned the trade of a Charcoal burning, either in England or St. Louis, Missouri and made use of his knowledge, using the Cedar trees just north of Cedar Fort for that purpose.
One day as he was busily at work, he was approached by a sedate soldierly gentleman in the uniform of a general who proved to be none other that General Albert Sidney Johnston, commander of the Army unjustly and unwisely sent out by President Buchanan to subdue the Mormons. The army had entered Utah without any bloodshed through the cleverness and strategy of the Mormon men, with the aid of Colonel Thomas L. Kane, a good friend and mediator.
Peace was established and it was agreed that General Johnston might bring his army into Utah if he would establish his camp at least 40 miles from Salt Lake City. Cedar Valley was the place selected for their permanent camp, June 26, 1858, the camp being situated at the north end of the valley on a stream coming from North Canyon. It was at this time that General Johnston approached John Drysdale and asked his opinion of their camp. John informed the General that there was water in that stream only in the spring and early summer. the water drying up in August. He told him of the better springs near Fairfield and suggested that as a good place to make their camp. General Johnston acted on his suggestion and the place was named Camp Floyd, after the Secretary of War. The General told John he had a man named Drysdale in the army. John looked the man up and to his surprise found him to be his brother, James.
The troops provided the residents of Cedar Valley with means for making a living. They had a ready sale for all kinds of produce for cash, which was greatly appreciated as there had been practically no money in circulation. John's knowledge of charcoal burning came in handy as he, with his brother-in-law, John S. Hacking, together with a number of other Cedar Fort men made pits among the cedar trees and burned large quantities of charcoal for which the army provided a ready sale, both at Camp Floyd, and also in Salt Lake City
On July 8,1861, John Drysdale was married to Emma Clark, a beautiful slender girl with dark hair and dark eyes. They were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Emma was born July 25, 1845 in Longridge, England, a daughter of James and Elizabeth Pearson Clark, who crossed the ocean in the year 1850, when Emma was five years old. On crossing the ocean they encountered a terrific storm in the Gulf of Mexico. All the masts of their sailing vessel were broken and they drifted in the Gulf for two weeks. Finally, they landed in New Orleans and from there went up the Mississippi River to St. Louis by steam boat.
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