Saturday, March 11, 2017

“They’re As Rotten as an Old Pumpkin”

Who was Brigham referring to when he made this statement?
a.                  Johnston’s army
b.                  Politicians
c.                   Doctors
d.                  Lawyers
Yesterday’s answer:
a.                  Stolen from Fort Douglas
Among the more fascinating stories of Leeds’ [Utah] early days is one concerning the former meetinghouse bell—a tale surrounded by top drawer secrecy for many years.
Originally attached to a cannon carriage, the bell had come to Deseret with Johnston’s Army and throughout the life of Camp Floyd had been used to summon soldiers to various assemblies. With Johnston’s departure, the cannon and bell had passed to the custodianship of Colonel Patrick E. Connor and had been moved to Camp Douglas.
Colonel Connor held no high regard for Brigham’s flock, and hostile relations soon arose between his troops and the Mormon civilians. When the soldiers berated the Mormons for “stupidity,” the Saints paid them back in their own coin, declaring that if they chose, they could steal the fort’s cannon and bell from under the nose of its guard.
With the soldiers’ taunts growing more unbearable daily, a group of reckless young Saints sneaked into the fort one rainy night, attached a tow rope to the cannon, and left one of their number concealed in the camp. As soon as the sentry had passed on his tour of inspection, the lurking prankster muffled the bell’s clapper and gave the prearranged signal. His confederates, waiting outside, began pulling on the rope, and the cannon left the fort.
Discovery of the theft brought a great hue and cry and posted rewards for names of the culprits—who, only then, were beginning to realize the enormity of their offense, as well as the difficulty of concealing a full-grown cannon and bell. Until a better solution might be found, the equipment was secreted in a barn and covered with hay.
Time passed. Came 1877, and the little Dixie town of Leeds was bringing to completion a new meetinghouse. But as yet, there was no bell. According to Mrs. Mariger’s account, some matter of business one day took Robert Pixton from Leeds to Salt Lake. In the course of conversation, the Leeds man had chanced to mention the new meetinghouse and its lack of a bell, where-upon one of his listeners—possibly one of the original pranksters—had related the foregoing story and added, “If you’ll take that bell to Dixie, it’s yours!”
Hiding the bell in a sack of grain, Pixton had transported it to Leeds; and with completion of the church in 1878, the bell was formally installed.
Fifty years later, in 1929, Leeds built a new chapel and wished to furnish it with a new bell. On this occasion, no difficulty attended its procural. Advised of the impending change, the owner of the pioneer museum at Cove Fort eagerly provided the church with a fine new bell. All he asked in exchange was the old Camp Floyd heirloom which now [1952] occupies an honored place in the Fort’s collection of early-day relics.
[At the present time, the location of the bell is unknown.]

Lesson Committee, Chronicles of Courage (Salt Lake City: Utah Printing Company, 1995), 6:283-284.

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