Indian depredations: Levi’s description of what he lost



Levi, along with some witnesses, came to the court house in St. George Utah on Jan 14, 1896 and responded to multiple questions in front of a notary. I don’t know what his property looked like, but I wonder if it looked like any of the pictures above.

He said that he lived in Kanab Utah during the fall of 1865 and until 1866 (when depredations were claimed to have occurred) and his occupations were farming and stock raising.

“I lost thirteen cows, they were excellent good cows, worth thirty dollars a piece, one calf, worth ten dollars, six yarling cattle woth eleven dollars a head and nine two year olds worth eighteen dollars a piece, one yoke of oxen worth fifty dollars a piece, nineteen young steers worth twenty eight dollars a head, also three head of horses, two horses at seventy five dollars each and one fine carriage and saddle horse worth two hundred dollars, also the possession of twenty acres of land with the improvements on it, a dwelling house, fencing, water right and the making of dams and ditches on it, and corrals, these were the improvements. they were worth six hundred dollars. I also lost thirty acres of land, the possession of it, with its improvements, worth seven hundred and twenty five dollars.”

He also mentions “the building of a fort with a house with two rooms in” which we valued at six hundred dollars, along with a “strong serviceable corral” valued at one hundred dollars.

After feeling threatened in their remote location and “to make ourselves more secure, we vacated the fort and joined the settlement in Long Valley, twenty miles distant; here I made other improvements, I lost the possession of land, five acres, the tilling of it, planting the crop corn and other grain, building material gathered and then left that part of the country and moved out to Toquerville, Washing County, under a strong guard, because of the danger of Indian depredations.”

There follows a series of questions about who was doing the depredating and the details of why he left, which will be covered next time.

Finishing up this post, I wonder about the building of a fort and other structures in what seems like such a short time. I re-read his son’s autobiography and he said they moved to Kanab in the fall of 1863 and his father purchased much of the land and improvements in July 1864 from other settlers. It turns out it wasn’t such a short amount of time after all, and many of the improvements had probably already been started, if not finished, when he bought the property in the summer of 1864 for $1000.

I do wonder where he obtained the $1000 needed to purchase the land and improvements from the other settlers. He was a day laborer, farmer, and dairyman throughout various parts of his life–none are occupations that give easy access to cash or allow accumulation of wealth. It is possible he owned land in Salt Lake and made enough money when he sold that land.


I also wonder how big the fort was. Above is a picture of Fort Utah (what would eventually become Utah) in 1850. I think the fort in Kanab was probably much smaller, but would love to find a picture or a description of what it would look like.

As usual, reading through this document has raised as many questions as it has answered.

What do you know about the land and buildings that were owned and/or built by your ancestors in the mid 1800s? Do you have an idea of what they looked like?


Information from the Indian depredations claims are from: Record Group123, Records of the United States Court of Claims, Indian Depredation Case File #9173, Levi Savage (this is how NARA referred to it when asking if I wanted a copy).


Creating your own social history

About a year ago my sister suggested I put together a little photo book about my daily life and send it out to my nieces and nephews for Christmas. I live in the Boston area and aspects of my life such as taking a commuter train and subway, walking through Boston and taking elevators at home and work is so different from the lives that my nieces and nephews experience. Recently my mom was visiting one of my sisters and the book came out. My niece especially loved looking at some of the pictures.

While Bridging The Past usually focuses on learning about social history in order to better understand our ancestors, it is important for us to share our social history with our descendants. Blog posts and photo books are one way to do this. Journals and scrapbooks are other ways.  What are some ways you have found to create your own social history for those that will come after you?

Here is the post I created on my personal blog for your enjoyment:
I take the commuter train into Boston. Here it comes!

Everyone getting on

I feel like I’m in a herd of animals as we all get off the train and cram onto the platform

If it’s nice I will sometimes walk over Beacon Hill

and through the Boston Common

I pass the Frog Pond. In the winter it is a skating rink (see the Zamboni) and in the summer it is a wading pool.

The frogs keeping watch

The Tadpole Playground just across from the Frog Pond. It’s fun to watch all the kids at play when it’s warm.

If it’s cold or rainy I’ll take the subway from where the commuter train lets me out to where I work

I spend much of my time in my office. I am a statistician and work in medical research. I work on a variety of projects with people across the hospital, the university and affiliated hospitals. I love the variety in my work (and having my own office!)

View of my office from the doorway

View of my office from behind the desk

View out of the window

One of the most important places in my office is the filing cabinet that displays the artwork of my nieces and nephews

I love coming home to my condo.

A view of my condo building from the pretty side, with a duck pond and Japanese gardens. Every condo has a balcony overlooking the pond and gardens.

The elevator in my condo building. I bet my nieces and nephews think it’s weird that I take an elevator to get home.

The sun coming through the colored windows in the hallway makes me happy

The living room is where I spend most of my time when I am home. One of the great parts of being a homeowner is that I can paint the walls and add color. I love my red accent wall. I painted the kitchen cabinets white a couple of years ago and it really brightened up the place. The other walls in the living room are beige.

At the same time I painted my bathroom walls. They are blue, not gray (a little lighter than the blue on the shower curtain). Love it!

This squirrel likes to come visit me sometimes on my balcony

I am working on the Master’s in History through the Harvard Extension School. I have finished all my classwork and am now doing pre-thesis research.

Gates to Harvard

This is the building where I had many of my classes.

This is the Widener library at Harvard, where I do some of my research.

I also have a genealogy speaking business. I recently started two blogs in addition to speaking (see Work, school, genealogy and church responsibilities keep me pretty busy. But when I have time to spare I love to create. I make jewelry, photo cards and paper cards. This is one of my favorite beading stores–in Harvard Square. They have a huge selection of fun beads and findings.

I also love to travel. I keep a shelf in my living room with souvenirs from each place that I visit. Can you guess where these are from?

Being a Mormon is an important part of who I am (and who most of my family is). They requested a picture of the temple that I attend. We meet in a regular church building for Sunday worship. The temple is a special place that we go to during the week to worship and make sacred promises with our Heavenly Father. The temple I attend is in Belmont.

Finding history in the most unusual places

I was looking for something to read one night when I was home for Christmas and came across this book. I have really become interested in quilts since I first discovered Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek series. These novels set in the current day, but with strong historical themes, provide an easy to read and rich history of quilts.


I was fascinated by the way the author pulled together a story about individual women  involved in the Mormon migrations from the quilt(s) that they made. In the introduction she explains that she wants to tell the story of women using material culture. This is relatively new field of study focusing on the study of the role and meaning of historical physical items, such as quilts, that still survive. Cross carefully defines the qualifications for inclusion in her study, without any preconceived notions of which items will be included. Inclusion criteria included traceable history of the quilt from when it was made to the present, as well as the time periods and activities in which a woman must have been involved in with the Mormon church and migrations in the 19th century.

The most interesting part of the book is how she studies each quilt and the woman who made it. She gives the name of the quilt pattern, along with a brief history of the pattern and any distinct characteristics of the quilt. A photograph of each quilt is included. She then gives a brief history of the woman who made it.

While none of my ancestors are highlighted in the book, by reading through the biographies of the women and histories of the quilts, I am able to get a strong sense of what it was like to be a female Mormon pioneer in the 19th century. The photos and description of the quilts provide a reminder that this was a real person, not just a name and date on a piece of paper, that made these.

How have you used material culture historical studies in your genealogical research?