38

The Diary of
Frederick William Hurst

 
Notes added by Samuel and Ida Hurst:

From reliable sources it is evident that because of modesty or other feelings of his, certain things that contribute much to illustrate his character and faith have not been recorded by him.

Following the abandonment of the ship at Honolulu, he speaks of confusion among the Saints. This is very natural for there were those among them, and perhaps most of them, who had given all they had for passage to Utah. Now they were stranded in route, which would add materially to their expense. According to stories told by him to a number of persons now living, the able bodies were asked to give what they had in order to help the aged and the women and children, and then seek employment to satisfy their needs. This was done by the subject of this diary so far as cash was concerned.

He seemed to have been fairly successful in the mines in Australia considering the amount of time he had given to missionary service there. At Honolulu, after giving his money his conscience was not at ease, for he had considerable gold from the mines sewed up in his clothing. He valued this at about one thousand dollars. It was not long after giving his money for this cause that he returned to those in authority and turned over those gold nuggets also that it may help to avoid suffering of the innocent. I think he would not object to this being added to his writings.



Regarding conditions at Pony Express Stations, Sister Kate B. Carter makes this comment: "Each station had its overseer, Stock tenders, and blacksmith shop for shoeing the horses. Extra Ponies were always kept in readiness ... Since they were targets of Indian attacks they were built as indestructible as possible with the limited material available, such as rocks, adobe, or logs. In spite of all precautions many were burned to the ground during Indian uprisings. The men chosen to man these stations were exceedingly courageous and possessed the ability to think and act quickly, since their job was perhaps the most dangerous on the route. More stationmen were killed than riders during the months of the Pony Express operation."

Of Ruby Valley Station she says: "Frederick William Hurst was the keeper of the station at Ruby Valley, about 375 miles west of Salt Lake City.... After filling a mission to Australia and Hawaii, he came to Utah, and during the months the Express was in operation Mr. Hurst was in charge of this important station. The Indians in the vicinity at that time were very hostile, since they felt that the white man was usurping their lands and food supplies. The winter was exceptionally severe, and many of the tribesmen and their families were dying of cold and hunger. Mr. Hurst believed in the policy of Brigham Young - that of feeding the Indians rather than fighting them - and being a naturally kind hearted man, he desired to alleviate their suffering. Many times he gave the Indians who came to the station bread and also a kind of poi he had learned to make in the Islands. At Christmas time he gave them a special treat of a large plum pudding which he had steamed in flour sacks over a bon fire. The Indians were deeply appreciative of these acts of kindness and often warned him of hostile bands who were bent on destroying the station. Thus he had time to secure proper defenses."

It is apparent from the last entrees in his diary from Ruby valley that that station was the only one standing for miles around.



Following his rather dramatic account of the reception that was given him and his Brother C. C. Hurst, he made no day to day journal of his activities. He did make several individual entries as impressions came to him. These are recorded in the closing pages of this history. Though he made no records of events it would seem proper to state that he returned to his trade of house painting for a livelihood. Two children came to bless the home after his New Zealand Mission. A son Clement, who died in infancy, and a daughter who was given the name of Nellie, later becoming the wife of Charles Reeves of Brigham City, thus another large and honorable family sprang from this noble couple.

When it became necessary because of age to discontinue his trade, he spent his time with art painting, keeping a very beautiful garden of flowers and vegetables, as well as fruit trees to supply his needs. This home was on the corner of 4th North and 6th East at Logan, Utah. This was near the Logan temple where he spent much time doing work for those who had passed beyond. Life in his thinking was truly eternal, and it made but little difference with him whether he was helping those we call living, or the so called dead.

He had the misfortune of losing his companion in April of 1907. Later he married Mrs. Ann Norfolk, one of his New Zealand friends that he mentions several times in his diary.

For a number of years before his passing he would good naturedly tell his friends that he was getting homesick and would be glad when the time came for him to return home. This desire was granted him on the 30th of October, 1918, in his 85th year. His life had influenced people from all walks of life in many lands.

May I conclude with the expression of Dr. John A. Widtsoe of the Council of the Twelve, as he expressed himself to me a few years ago, which was about as follows: "He always kept a beautiful flower garden at his home just below the Agricultural College at Logan, where I was laboring as the President of that institution. Naturally my responsibilities were heavy. In times of discouragement I would often take a walk real early in the morning when all was quiet, where I could be alone with my thoughts, or receive inspiration from other sources in the invigorating freshness of the morning air. But," says he, "I was never able to get out before your grandfather, for he was always out with a very cheery 'Good Morning', and if I gave no signs of being in a hurry he would come over to the edge of the garden and we would talk over the fence. It usually was not long until some remark we had made brought from his store of wisdom and experience some story of his earlier days, and I would listen to him. He had such a marvelous personality, and as his face glowed with faith and cheerfulness, one never tired of his stories of actual living for it seemed his life had reached out into every worthwhile activity of man.

He had a cheerfulness that would dispel any worry or fears and I would go back to my labors full of encouragement and faith in the purpose of life, and that God was interested in all of his children, and would overrule for the good and blessing of any who would trust in him to make life or tasks conform to the will of God. My acquaintance with him," he said, "has had a marked effect upon my life, for I never have spoken with him without feeling that I had received a lift, and was better prepared to carry on in my work. I congratulate you," he told me, "in having such a noble forbearer."

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Pages 213 - 215 in the 1961 edition of the Diary of Frederick William Hurst