John Bushman helps with the dissolution of the United Order in Arizona

From Pioneer Women of Arizona by Roberta Flake Clayton
in the history of Clara Maria Gleason Rogers, pp. 594-595.

Ellis and Boone:
Although Clara Rogers did not spend many years living in the United Order, it was nevertheless the living system in Arizona to which she came and is discussed extensively in this sketch. It, therefore, seems appropriate to add a little more about the dissolution of the Order.

In this sketch, the demise of the United Order was blamed upon dissatisfaction because “the people were American-born and restriction irked.” Undoubtedly this was true, and the sketch also stated that “a few dollars’ extra profit failed to compensate for personal prerogative.” But Lot Smith ruled with a firm hand, which Kenner Kartchner thought, in another context, was needed in the early settlement of Utah but not by the time Arizona settlement was well underway.90

Both George Tanner and Charles Peterson discussed the United Order at Sunset; Tanner himself was a little closer in age to those living at Sunset, and Peterson gives a professional historian’s perspective. In particular, Peterson compared the United Order as practiced at Sunset and at St. Joseph, two very different models.91

Regardless of the reasons for people moving away from Sunset, the dissolution of the United Order was prolonged and contentious. A committee was formed to sort out property which had been commingled. David K. Udall was part of this committee and wrote, “I was the only committeeman who had had no business relationship with Brother [Lot] Smith or the United Order.”92 The details Udall gave help readers understand the problems:

I was appointed as one of the committee of five to adjust and settle the many perplexing questions involving tens of thousands of dollars in property owned by the membership of the United Order at Sunset, over which Lot Smith had presided. The people had disbanded and scattered from Mexico to Canada. The other members of the committee were John Bushman of St. Joseph, chairman; Hubert R. Burk of Alpine, Frihoff Nielson of Ramah, and Thomas Brockbank [Brookbank] of Sunset.93 We went through all the records, hunted out the old colonizers and wrote them for statements of claims and grievances. We had many meetings during a period of three years, some held at Mormon Dairy, at Woodruff and various ranches. A more conscientious body of arbitrators in my opinion could not be found.

Hundreds of letters were sent out and received in all patience and without any remuneration. We journeyed from place to place, meeting time and time again until we finally adjusted the business between the members of the company; so far as I know giving satisfaction. Our final report met with President Woodruff ’s endorsement and he blessed us for our services.94

John Bushman

John Bushman, in particular, found the committee work disagreeable and a nightmare, and he was not certain that all members got what was due them. Tanner and Richards wrote, “That the committee allowed Smith to get away with much more than he deserved was due in part to the way he abused them. But how could they chastise a man with so strong a will, especially in view of the fact that he had been, and technically still was, the stake president?”95

David K. Udall was more sympathetic to Lot Smith and thought that “through his thrift and foresight he was truly the leading spirit in an organization which built up great flocks and herds and ranches, mills and farms. Had they been able to continue on unitedly and have stayed with the ‘Order,’ they would have become a great and wealthy people.”96

Peterson’s analysis was both measured and thorough. As part of this discussion, he noted that Locy Rogers was “gentle and filled with good humor, he was altogether one of the most lovable figures in the region. He was loyal and honest but utterly without financial acumen.” Peterson thought that any prosperity Locy Rogers knew came from living the United Order.97

  1. Kartchner, Frontier Fiddler, 16–17.
  2. Peterson, Take Up Your Mission, 91–122; Tanner and Richards, Colonization on the Little Colorado, 143–49.
  3. Udall and Nelson, Arizona Pioneer Mormon, 201.
  4. The incorrect surname Brockbank, instead of Brookbank, is a common error and probably crept into the Udall book because daughter Pearl Nelson was living in Utah when helping her father publish his book; Brockbank is a common surname in Utah. See Tanner and Richards, Colonization on the Little Colorado, 147–48; Krenkel, Life and Times of Joseph Fish, 521.
  5. Ibid., 200.
  6. Tanner and Richards, Colonization on the Little Colorado, 146–49.
  7. Udall and Nelson, Arizona Pioneer Mormon, 201.
  8. Peterson, Take Up Your Mission, 120–21.

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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