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Andrew Jenson
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Andrew Jenson's account of his visit to
Crooked River, Friday, 14 September 1888

We were delighted to hear the scream of the locomotive and the call of "All aboard!" for Elmira, five miles northeast, where we arrived safely.  Elmira is a new railway town, on the well-named Crooked River, two miles above the fated spot we have heard so much about.  Securing the services of a Mr. J. M. Trout as guide we at once started for the battle ground. From Elmira Mr. Trout led us through the woods, where we found many trees laden with nuts and wild fruits.

After wandering about in the timbers considerably, we at last found the old Field ford, near which the famous battle between Bogart's mobocrats and our brethren was fought on the 25th of October, 1838. By this time we were somewhat hungry and weary, the heat being much more oppressive in this lower altitude... Emerging from the woods into a clearing of about fifty acres we found ourselves near an old log house where we called for a drink. In response to this the good lady of the house, although seemingly poor, treated us to some excellent buttermilk and corn bread, which we ate while sitting on a log in front of the house and in full view of the battle ground. Crossing Crooked River, which at the present time is nearly dry at this point, two of our number dined with Mr. J. L. Thompson, who lives about half a mile from the ford, while Elder Jenson set out alone across the farms west of the stream to find an old resident by the name of Absalom McDonald, who is the present owner of the battle ground. This gentleman, a Missourian 72 years of age, readily consented to show us over the grounds. Also two of Mr. Thompson's sons, who were well acquainted with the place, and had years ago picked up a number of bullets there, volunteered their services.

The night before the battle Samuel Bogart was camped at a point in the woods about 100 yards from the ford on the east side of the stream. The ford, now known as the McDonald ford, is used but very little now; and although the old Far West road, which crosses Crooked River at this point, can easily be traced through the timber, it has not been used as a highway for many years.  The old battle ground is covered with brush and small timber. Many of the large trees have recently been cut down by Mr. McDonald, but there are still two stately oak trees standing near the spot where Bogart was encamped. One of these is dead, but the other, a large burr oak, in which a number of bullets fired during the battle were found, still stands in a thrifty condition. The bank, behind which the mobbers are supposed to have formed in line of battle, is now overgrown with brush. It runs parallel with the stream.

It was with solemn and peculiar feelings that we traced those grounds, especially as we continued up the old road to the rather steep hill where stood the picket guard, Mr. John Lochard, who killed Brother O'Banion. Mr. Absalom McDonald pointed out the very spot, saying that Mr. John Lochard told him he shot Mr. O'Banion just below this elevated and very sightly point. As the "Mormons" were going down the old road, only one of the two guards fired, when both ran for camp, about a quarter of a mile distant.  Still further up the road, in an old field and on the top of the hill, stands yet the old historic building known to this day as the old Field residence. It is a double two-story house, 30 by 18 feet, built of hewed logs.

It looks very lonely and in a state of decay. It has been abandoned for the past ten years, and with the surrounding fields looks forsaken. One of the Thompson boys who were with us said that he had killed three hedge-hogs recently in the old building. It was back of this old house where Captain "Fearnot" (David W. Patten) divided his forces into three divisions and marched on to the ford, where the conflict occurred, just as the day was dawning, the enemy thus having every advantage, as they were looking toward the light and had the bank to serve them as a breastwork' yet they ere soon touted and plunged into the river, scattering in all directions

 

Andrew Jenson, Autobiography of Andrew Jenson (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret News Press, 1938), 157-159

 

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