Tanner Family in Utah

THE PROMISED LAND -- Myron Tanner had the distinction of being the first of our Tanner family to enter the Salt Lake Valley (there was a Thomas Tanner who came with the first pioneer company, but he was from England and was not related to our Tanners). As mentioned above, Myron Tanner marched with the battalion as far as Colorado, but "at Hurricane Point ... he took chills and gave out. At Cimmeron he took the mumps. He was sent to the fort at Pueblo for the winter of `46 and `47. While here he nearly lost his life from scurvy." In the spring of 1847, learning that the first pioneers with Brigham Young were somewhere to the north of them, the sick detachment at Pueblo took up their march towards Laramie but (they were) a little too late to overtake the pioneers. When Brigham Young learned that a part of the battalion was on its way, he sent Amasa Lyman back to meet them. They followed after the pioneers and reached the Salt Lake valley on the 27th of July, 1847, only a few days behind the vanguard company.

Myron Tanner wrote, "At the mouth of Emigration Canyon we unfurled the flag and went in with drums beating, where Salt Lake City now stands on City Creek. When we arrived, we found a bowery built, and about five acres of ground broken up about the place where Feramore Little's house now stands." After staying in the valley for only a few weeks, Myron went back to Winter Quarters to help his family that year.

In the latter part of June 1848, Elder Tanner fitted up five teams and wagons, and with 18 months' provisions started with the Amasa Lyman company for Salt Lake, "celebrating the 4th of July on the Elk Horn between Wood River and Laramie." A six-year-old grandson (Sidney C. Tanner, son of Sidney) fell from the tongue of a wagon loaded with about 3500 pounds; both wheels of the wagon passed over his bowels, and he died in twenty minutes. With the exception of this sad accident, the journey was prosperous, and they arrived in Salt Lake Valley on the 13th of October, 1848, and located in South Cottonwood (now Murray/Holladay).

Under the leadership of Apostle Amasa M. Lyman, a tract of country consisting of about one mile square, in the vicinity of present-day 5900 South and 1300 East, between the two Cottonwood Creeks, was surveyed and divided into 10 acre plots. This was about ten miles southeast from Great Salt Lake City fort, and was first known as the "Amasa Survey;" later as Cottonwood and then South Cottonwood. This was where the Tanners settled and began farming again. Later the Union Fort was built about 3 miles away to the southwest.

Along the south property line of present-day Cottonwood High School is a long dirt lane, at the end of which is an old house said to have been the original Tanner home (probably the home of John Joshua Tanner). The book BETWEEN THE COTTONWOODS (1992) says that "The south-eastern portion of the Salt Lake Valley was a lush grassland during the 1800s, cut by creeks and small streams and pocked by numerous flowing springs. Birds and small animals thrived in the riparian environments, while the grass acted as a haven for wild horses (actually Indian ponies). The young men and boys of the area considered the catching and riding of these horses a favorite sport during the 1850s and 1860s ... The field north of the present South Cottonwood Ward (5600 South and Vine Street) was used by Utes on their annual migration ... The field's continued use by the Utes prompted its maintenance as a campsite. It later acted as a camp and rest stop for the teams of oxen that hauled the granite for the Salt Lake Temple, beginning in 1853 and continuing through the 1860s and 1870s. These teams left the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon and followed what is now Vine Street to the site of the South Cottonwood Ward. The men and oxen would then camp overnight before continuing the journey to Salt Lake City the next day. Beginning in 1874 the field became the ward burial ground."

With the exception of the Tanners and Lymans, most of the pioneers who first settled in South Cottonwood were part of the "Flake Company" of Saints from Mississippi, who had crossed the plains and come into the valley in 1847 a few days after Brigham Young's party (they had wintered in Pueblo, Colorado, and Brigham Young sent Amasa M. Lyman to meet them and bring them into the valley). Some of the Southern Saints (the Flakes, Crosbys, and Browns), were slaveholders. The original plots of the "Amasa Survey" were assigned to Amasa M. Lyman, William Crosby, Daniel Clark, James M. Flake, John Tanner and his sons Sidney and Nathan, Daniel M. Thomas, and John Brown, among others."

Most of the settlers of South Cottonwood continued to live in either tents or wagon boxes during the fall and winter of 1848. John Brown erected the first adobe house during the spring and summer of 1849. Many of the original settlers of South Cottonwood, including several black slaves of the Southern Saints, left the Salt Lake Valley in 1851 and went with Apostle Lyman to help settle San Bernardino, California ... The South Cottonwood Ward (also known as the "Mississippi Ward"), with Abraham O. Smoot as Bishop, was organized in 1852, and the Amasa Survey plots were redistributed. The ward covered an area from Big Cottonwood Creek on the north to the Point of the Mountain on the south (approx. 13 miles), and from the Wasatch Mountains on the east to the Jordan River on the west (approx. 7 miles). The South Cottonwood Ward meeting house at 5600 S. Vine Street (at approximately 700 E.) was erected in 1856.

John Tanner did not live to see these developments, for in the autumn of 1849, after being in the valley for only one year, he was "afflicted with an acute form of rheumatism, which continued to increase until the first of January 1850, when he was confined to his bed from this sickness." He suffered severely; his son MYRON says that, "We were obliged to turn him on a sheet, and his suffering was so intense that we sometimes occupied half an hour in changing him from one position to another. For six months with but two exceptions, I remained with him every night until four in the morning."

On the 13th day of April, 1850, Father Tanner died "the death of the righteous," at age 72. There was no burial ground yet in South Cottonwood at that time, so his body was taken to Salt Lake City for burial. His burial was one of the earliest in the Salt Lake City Cemetery (interment #35), in plot 3-1-4. "He was rational through all of his sickness till the last. He was the father of twenty-two children and has left a reputation worthy of imitation by his numerous posterity and by all the youth of Zion."

Information Compiled
by Karen Bray Keeley

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by Sandra Shuler Bray