George’s older brother, John Smuin b. 1820, is my 2nd Great-grandpa.
BIOGRAPHY OF GEORGE SMUIN (1844-1913) PIONEER OF 1864
Arrived in Salt Lake City, 6 December 1864.
(Ralph Dewey Smuin was a great admirer of his father, George Smuin. For his posterity the following sketch was written.)
“Come, Come, Ye Saints”…A device, shopworn perhaps, but still effective, for evoking in a reader’s mind the spirit of some period in the recent past is the quoting of a snatch of some song representative of that time.
And the Saints did “Come”, across the plains, and one among them George Smuin. A strange circumstance had provided for his passage from England…but let me tell you about it.
Due to impoverished circumstances in order to support his mother, George started work at an early age braiding straw and later delivering milk for dairy in the city of London. He was born in Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, England, November 11, 1844. When he was four years old his mother (who had been deserted) removed to London. It was here the Mormon Missionaries found them.
In May 1853 at age of nine years he was baptized by Elder William Hall and became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. From this meager dairy employment he managed to save a small sum. Imbued with the desire to emigrate to the States he bent all his efforts to this end. He would first emigrate and then send for his mother. At the age of nineteen this urge was constantly with him.
One morning an early cry of “Milk..Milk” sounded a warning to the housemaids to put out their containers, he approached a pretentious dwelling when to his surprise the lady of the house came to the door, gave him a leather bag containing coins and went inside.
The days work finished he hurried home to his mother, never once having stopped to examine the contents of the mysterious present. In the presence of his mother he poured the contents of the bag onto the table which to their astonishment, added to the amount of savings, was the exact cost of one passage to America.
In the late summer of 1864 George secured passage on a sailing vessel, the “Hudson”. Voyagers were obliged to furnish the bulk of food to be consumed in passage. Rations of water were drawn each day. The “Hudson’s” port of disembarkment was New Orleans.
The leisurely movement of the vessel through the South Atlantic gave him time to explore sailor life learning to tie knots and helping the crew and singing their songs.
Arriving at port the passengers on board were glad to abandon ship to the rats and vermin infested bunks. Emigrants going west were forced to leave at once on a Mississippi side wheeler. The tedious trip north to Omaha proceeded with no chance to change clothes. Later, due to some delay in preparations for the journey across the plains, he did not establish contact with his belongings until eight weeks after in Salt Lake City.
Joining a company in charge of Brigham H. Young, son of Phineas Young, he was assigned with several other young men to “night herd” the cattle and help drive the oxen belonging to the wagon train. This company had 36 wagons with three yoke to a wagon, also a few saddle horses.
The first night’s camp was made five miles from headquarters. This first trial camp was routine it appears to check all supplies and equipment and to organize the 132 people into disciplinary groups.
The great Civil War was drawing to a close and great confusion and depression prevailed in the country. Early in the morning as the boys were rounding up the cattle, George proceeding on foot through the brush near the river’s edge in search of some stray critters, stumbled upon some clothes rolled in a bundle.
Unrolling the bundle he discovered the complete uniform of a Union soldier, very likely that of a deserter. Glancing down at the ragged threadbare apparel he was wearing, still infested with the unwelcome vermin of the ship, he divested himself at once of the old clothing and donned the full regalia of a soldier, this to the consternation of his herdboy companions. He was still a British subject, but the Yankee clothes were a God sent.
Seven days out on a branch of the Sweet Water the company came upon the first signs of Indian depredations. A small company of thirteen wagons about 25 or 30 people, mostly men, had preceded Young’s company, and had been set upon by Indians. Their cattle had been stampeded, their wagons burned and several men killed. The rest escaped and joined a larger company.
The wagons were laden with flour and some medical supplies. The flour had been poured upon the ground and the sacks taken, also the wagon covers. The Indians had removed the fancy labels from the bottles.
Herds of buffalo were sighted which at one of their camps as they were unyoking the cattle threatened to run through the circle of wagons where the oxen were enclosed. The familiar order, “Chain up your gaps, keep the cattle in” was issued by the wagon boss. The herd of buffalo rushed by in a cloud of dust.
The autumn nights were chilly and the soldier’s clothes supplied a great need but was a constant source of friendly jests by certain members of the camp. Arriving at Fort Laramie the company pulled in close to the soldiers stationed there. George was arrested and taken to the commandant on suspicion of being a deserter but was released when Brigham H. Young and others testified as to how he came in possession of the soldier’s clothes. He was allowed to keep the uniform and wore it into Salt Lake City. The company arrived December 6, 1864.
The following spring a call came for volunteers to go east to bring emigrants back. George answered the call and drove three yoke of oxen back to Omaha and returned the same summer. Sometime after, he moved to Ogden in Weber County and secured a tract of land, some called school land, of 125 acres.
He married Eliza Gaisford, April 11, 1869, in the Endowment House, Salt Lake City. Driving the proverbial “Ox Team” on their honeymoon from Ogden to Salt Lake City and return. They built a log house from trees brought from the mountains including a “lean-to” of adobe and dirt roof used as a pantry.
“All is well, all is well,”. . . for he furnished means by which his mother, stepfather and cousin came to Utah. My father left this sphere January 22, 1913.
NOTE: George Smuin’s mother, Susannah Smuin was not married at time of George’s birth, but later married Thomas Empey. Susannah was a sister of James Blundell Smuin.
This Life sketch is found in the SMUIN BOOK, pp. 65-69.
You can read more about Eaton Bray here: