History of Frederick Augustus Herman Frank Mitchell
Written by Edwin B. Morrell, Great Grandson
Compiled by Margaret Blackhurst Bird, Granddaughter.
Grandfather Mitchell, a native of England, emigrated to Utah as a young man, served on three foreign LDS Missions (one as mission president), benefited his fellow man through his business talent by pioneering commission buying and marketing local coal, and was the father of a large family, six boys and six girls.
Frederick Augustus Herman Frank Mitchell was born in Sheffield, England, on July 14, 1835. He was the second son in a family of nine children born to Hezekiah Mitchell and Sarah Mallinson. His father was a Methodist minister. The family joined the Latter-day Saint Church in England, where Grandfather was baptized on July 27, 1845.
At the age of eleven, Grandfather Mitchell left school to work as an apprentice at the wade and Butcher cutlery Factory in Sheffield. His principal task consisted of grinding rough from off newly forged case knives. He performed his work, sitting on a hard bench, ten hours a day. During his three years at the factory, Grandfather also acquired unusual skill in etching and engraving steel with hydrochloric acid. Evidently the boy’s work was very satisfactory to his employers. When he left their factory they expressed regret at losing him with presented him with three of their then-famous razors and a complete set of engraving instruments. He proudly engraved his name upon each of the razors.
Late in 1840, Grandfather quit his apprenticeship in order to emigrate with his family to America. The Mitchells sailed from Liverpool aboard the Zetland on November 10, 1849. They reached St. Louis in January 1850, via New Orleans, where his parents and four others in the family were stricken with "ship fever." Grandfather was the only one not prostrated. Although only fourteen at the time, and small of stature, Grandfather seized the opportunity to capitalize upon his engraving skill. With samples of his etching, he canvassed the wealthy sections and plantations around New Orleans. He took scissors, knives, metal trays, casket name plates and large sterling pieces on which he engraved names, monograms or coats of arms. The work netted him ample money with which to support the family until all recovered. He soon turned to other work, probably due to the lack of demand for engraving.
Sometime in the spring of 1850, Grandfather Mitchell ran across a retail dry goods firm—McClelland, Scruggs and Co., of New York—just opening up in St. Louis. Applying for work in his wooden soled shoes, the boy was told by the owners to come back the next day. His first task was to clean up rubbish left from unpacking merchandise. At the end of the day he was offered steady work.
The new position marked a turning point in Grandfather’s life, away from a trade and into business. His family shortly settled down on a tract of land outside of St. Louis, where his father took up farming. Thereafter, Grandfather slept at the store. Aside from his usual work, he quickly took an interest in accounting from Richard Scruggs, a very capable bookkeeper. Partly to occupy his free time, Grandfather made a set of books out of scrap paper and started an imaginary business account. Mr. Scruggs shortly discovered the young man’s interest and called him into his office to learn bookkeeping and be his assistant. Within two years, Grandfather was promoted to the regular selling staff. While still only seventeen, he was put in charge of the notions department of the store. As a member of the Mercantile Library Institution, he made good use of available means for self education. In later life he was much respected for his learning in business and other fields as well.
McClelland and Scruggs eventually offered Grandfather a one-third partnership in their firm and management of the store at the age of twenty-one, if he would stay with them. But even such an enticing offer did not deter him from his intention of gathering to Utah with his family. This placing of his Church duties ahead of business opportunities was characteristic of Frederick Mitchell throughout his life.
HE DEPARTED from St. Louis in April 1854 and joined his family in Jersey County, Illinois. They set out for Salt Lake City in the James Brown company. Grandfather walked nearly every step of the way across the plains in charge of all the milk cows and the young stock for the more than forty families in the company. On October 3, 1854, he arrived at the Salt Lake Valley, which was to be his home for nearly forty years.
The first day in Salt Lake, Grandfather met his future wife. His parents sent him to the home of Margaret Bentley Harrington to deliver a package from Thomas Bentley’s family in St. Louis. There he was served his first meal in the valley by Margaret Thompson, who was then fourteen years old. She immediately impressed him as the sweetest girl he had ever seen. She too, was born in England and had lost her mother from cholera in St. Louis. Grandfather and Grandmother were married the following year, on November 15th, at the Salt Lake City Old Endowment House.
In Salt Lake City, Grandfather Mitchell continued his career in business and his activity in the Church. For the first year and a half, he was employed by J.M. Horner and Co., locally represented by William M. Hooper. Not long after his arrival, he was ordained a Seventy and became a member of the 27th Quorum. At the General Conference in October 1855, he was sustained as a counselor in the presidency of the General Deacon’s Quorum.
A MISSION CALL to the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands in the spring of 1856 took him away from his new life. He left a sack of flour with his young wife, which exhausted what money he had possessed ($50.00 in gold dust). Grandfather journeyed to California by foot and found work along the way to pay for food and supplies. He drove stock for a group of Saints going to California, which included his wife’s uncle, Richard Bentley.
For several months he worked in California farming districts to earn money for his outfit to the Islands. Part of the time, he labored with other missionaries in the wheat fields of Sacramento Valley, binding wheat sheaves. One day at such work, Grandfather’s back snapped and he fainted. The men by him thought he was dead and carried him to the barn where they covered him with a canvas. Slowly regaining consciousness, he prayed to his Heavenly Father: "Thou hast called me; If Thou wantest me to go to my mission, please heal me." He felt his strength returning. Coming back for the corpse, the men found him alive. Grandfather left the farm and did no more heavy work.
Going on to San Francisco, he made arrangements for passage and reached Honolulu towards the end of September 1856. During his mission, Grandfather traveled to nearly all of the Sandwich Islands. Within three months he was speaking to the natives in their own tongue. Andrew Jensen describes the ingenious way he learned the language:
"He procured a Hawaiian Testament, and, choosing a verse for his first lesson, set to work to master it, which he did by getting a native to read the verse, repeating it after him, till he got the pronunciation. He then took his vocabulary and obtained the English meaning of the words; next set him with the English versions. The first lesson cost him days of study and practice; it being accomplished, he set himself to master one verse every day, until the whole chapter was committed to memory, and he was enabled to rehearse the chapter in both languages. Thus he obtained a fair comprehension of the native language and its idioms, besides practice in its utterance, and during his two years’ mission, his thorough training reached proficiency."
Grandfather Mitchell left his mission in the summer of 1858, in the general recall of missionaries resulting from the "Utah War." He worked his passage to San Francisco on board the bark Fanny Major by painting the ship. Before leaving port, he finished the hull from water’s edge to the deck rail. During the voyage he completed the railing and deck area. After landing at San Francisco, the captain paid him for painting the inside of the cabin as well.
Before returning home, Grandfather was appointed to visit the scattered Saints in northern California. Some of them he gathered into a Utah-bound company which he headed. The company set out on the Humboldt route to Salt Lake in August. Shortly after leaving Sacramento, it was joined by the Stuart company from Oregon. They arrived in Salt Lake City the latter part of October, 1858, soon after the inhabitants had returned from their exodus to the south.
NEW BUSINESS VENTURES occupied Grandfather Mitchell for the next fourteen years. The first two years he was associated with William D. Godbe in the latter’s drug store. Sometime in 1861, he began organizing, on his own, a commission business. Initially, he purchased goods in California. Andrew Jensen writes in tribute:
"Elder Mitchell was the pioneer in this line, and to his inspiring efforts, in opening the way for the people to purchase on their own account, is very much to be credited the advance of Utah’s commerce, which also indirectly led to the co-operative mercantile movement."
Commission buying enabled consumers and local establishments to purchase and import supplies, from the smallest article to the largest machinery, at cost plus five or ten percent, depending upon the quantity. Merchant profits on staple goods in Utah had been running from fifty to one hundred and fifty percent.
In the winter of 1863-64, Grandfather extended his activities in this field by going into partnership with his former associate, William Godbe. The names Godbe and Mitchell became well known throughout the territory as "purchasing commission merchants." Their activity was looked upon as a public-spirited movement, which was what the partners intended it to be. Goods the first year were sold in the old store of Staines and Needham. The second year, they had a store on the site later occupied by the Deseret Bank. The third year they operated from the Sharkey store, and finally in the new Godbe Exchange Building. Meanwhile, several firms, inspired by the Godbe-Mitchell success, began commission businesses. Commercial profits were reduced to a more equitable level.
Grandfather was the purchasing agent for the business, but every year both partners made buying trips East. They purchased $60,000 worth of goods the first year and $150,000 during each of the next two years. The gold coin destined to buy goods in New York was carried in quilted canvas vests. This device lessened the awkward and obvious weight of money in their handbags and also served as armor against Indian arrows. Grandfather looked up Richard Scruggs at the New York address of the firm he had worked for in St. Louis fifteen years previously. Mr. Scruggs was so pleased to see his former assistant that he went out of his way to show him and his partner about New York City and introduce them to wholesalers.
In the fall of 1868, the partnership of Mitchell and Godbe was dissolved by mutual consent. Grandfather bought out the Godbe interest and embarked upon a project for a co-operative business, which would bring goods to consumers at still less cost. Such was made possible by the railroad extension into the Utah territory. Grandfather proposed that a stock subscription be obtained from the general public in small amounts in order to benefit the consumer more than the financier. With the capital subscribed, it was intended to import merchandise and machinery. After deducting expenses, the co-operative would distribute the profits among the shareholders. When the Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution soon appeared in Utah, Grandfather pursued the project no further.
He next turned his attention to the manufacture of tin and sheet iron ware. Although he was involved in this until 1873, the details of this phase of his business activity are not known. For five years Grandfather served as a second counselor to Bishop E.D. Woolley of the Thirteenth Ward.
A CALL AS MISSION PRESIDENT over the Sandwich Islands was to again take Grandfather away from Salt Lake City in the spring of 1873. This time, however, his family accompanied him. It was made possible only by mortgaging their home. At that time, Grandfather had five children. Among them was Eleanor Mary Mitchell, my mother, who was born in 1870. The family arrived at Laie, Oahu, on June 3, 1873. There Grandfather succeeded George Nebeker as Mission head.
On his second mission, Grandfather became well acquainted with all of the natives in the island group, and was a personality remembered by the Hawaiian people. My cousin, Frank A. McMaster, labored in the same mission some fifty years later. He received a warm welcome wherever it was known that he was "Makella’s" grandson.
Aside from his ministerial labors, Grandfather Mitchell managed the first sugar production and built the first sugar mill in the Islands. The sugar project was established to provide the natives with remunerative work and to draw them to settle on the Laie property purchased as a gathering place under the direction of President Brigham Young. An interesting sidelight in the history of the sugar industry was the novel landing of a boiler for the mill, made necessary by the absence of unloading facilities. The boiler was plugged up so it was airtight and rolled off the ship close to the shore at high tide. When the water receded, the boiler was left lying in the sand. Grandfather had every available hand working feverishly under his direction to load up the boiler before the tide returned. Rather than lifting the boiler onto the wagon, the men lowered the wagon into the sand and rolled the boiler onto the wagon. The mill went into production and the Hawaiian sugar industry was born.
Perhaps the most significant event in the Mission under Grandfather was the visit made to Laie by his majesty, King Kalakua. News of the intended inspection by the British educated native ruler caused much speculation—in the Mission home as well as among the native members of the Church on the plantation. King Kalakua wanted to personally see the character of the "Mormon" work among his people and the influence exerted by the missionaries upon them. Grandfather’s insistence that the Stars and Strips be flown over the plantation entrance brought criticism because the Islands were at that time a British protectorate.
Over 500 native Saints gathered for the occasion. King Kalakua drove up to the entrance way, alighted, and stood with hat in hand before the American flag. Grandfather stepped up to greet the honored guest. The pleasing sight of the two of them walking arm in arm up the drive was never forgotten by the Saints. A feast was prepared and served to the King and his entourage under Grandmother’s direction. Inspecting the plantation, King Kalakua took great interest in all he saw. He also addressed the assembled natives. He voiced unqualified appreciation for all that he had seen of the work of the "Mormon" missionaries. He urged his people to observe the principles that the Mission President had taught them. Later, on several occasions, he publicly spoke of his gratitude for the work of the missionaries among the Hawaiians. Upon leaving the plantation, the king congratulated the missionaries for being the first people to attempt to teach his native subjects any industry.
Grandfather Frederick was extended an invitation by King Kalakua to visit him in Honolulu, and did so on several occasions. Always he found the ruler highly interested in the message he brought, whether it concerned the history of the people of Utah and their exodus west, the divine mission of the prophet Joseph Smith or the Saints’ concept of the origin of the Hawaiian people. The latter was in accord with the King’s own views. Grandfather also told him the Book of Mormon history of the American Aborigines. On the last visit permission was granted to send the King copies of the Church scriptures. Later the ruler was presented with handsomely bound copies of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Key to Theology and the Voice of Warning.
King Kalakue’s visit to Laie brought about a marked change in the attitude of government circles towards the LDS missionaries. For many years previously the latter had been deprived of several privileges accorded to all other Christian missionaries there, e.g., exemption from the annual per capita tax and the possession of government licenses to solemnize marriages. Later Mission Presidents were given these privileges.
Grandfather completed his mission in 1875 and returned to Utah with his family, which included a son born at Laie. Carolina Moaka, a teen-age boy of the Hawaiian King Tribe, had become attached to the Mitchell family and expressed a desire to go with them to America. Feeling that he might soon become homesick for the Islands, they decided not to take him. But when the ship carrying the Mitchells home was a mile out from the island shore, Carolina began swimming out after it. At Grandfather’s insistence, the captain sent a boat to pick up the boy, with the understanding that he would make the journey with them. Carolina lived the rest of his life in Utah, except for the time spent on a mission back to the Islands.
TURNING AGAIN TO BUSINESS activities, Grandfather Mitchell sold out his interest in tin and iron manufacture to his partner, David James. Until about 1879 he was engaged as an agent of the ZCMI to travel throughout the Utah Territory. He visited most of the settlements twice, compiling a business directory for the use of the ZCMI. It included local co-operative institutions and the products and resources of each settlement.
In July 1879, Grandfather acquired the Wasatch Coal mine in Summit County, Utah, and subsequently introduced the first Utah coal on the Salt Lake market. In re-opening the mine and seeking to develop it, Grandfather located a new shaft. He estimated that a coal vein lay ninety-three feet below the surface; it was hit at a depth of ninety-two feet seven inches.
The arrival in Salt Lake City of the first two wagonloads of coal from the Wasatch Mine forced a discouraging drop in the price of coal. Coal freighted in by the Southern Pacific Railroad had been selling for about $13.00 a ton. When the first coal from Grandfather’s mine hit the market, the price was lowered to $4.00 a ton. The benefit went to local consumers. Grandfather was able to operate at this price when in the summer of 1880 work was begun on the Utah Eastern Railway. This connected the Wasatch Mine with Park City, and eventually with Salt Lake City.
The Home Coal Company, begun on October 8, 1880, was formed by local coal and railroad interests. Grandfather was secretary and general manager for several years. The company successfully marketed coal in Salt Lake from mines within Utah Territory and at the lowest possible cost. It was absorbed by the Bamberger Coal Company in the early 1890s.
Even at forty-five, Grandfather Mitchell proved he had not stopped his education. Through the railroad engineers who came with the Union Pacific Railway, he enrolled in the Scrantin Correspondence School and became one of its first graduates. His training included civil engineering and surveying. As a result, he became a deputy U.S. mineral surveyor in May 1881 and acted in this capacity throughout the remainder of his life. The previous October, he had been elected surveyor of Summit County. The locations he established have continued to hold true. Also to his credit was a map of the Laie property, consisting of 6,000 acres.
During the same period, Grandfather worked in the Sunday Schools. In the Fourteenth Ward he was Sunday School superintendent. He also traveled extensively as a missionary in the Salt Lake Stake.
LOGAN AND CACHE COUNTY, Utah became Grandfather’s home after 1892. He purchased the old Cache Dale farm located in Petersburough number two district, which proved to be a good investment. The property included three and a half sections of land. Grandfather brought into Cache Valley the first pure bred horses. The farm would have been a great success financially had it not been for the panic of 1893. Livestock and farm produce prices fell to new lows. This condition continued to press upon Grandfather until after the Spanish American War. The family home in Logan (a three-story stone mansion) was sacrificed due to the situation. The farm home was renovated and enlarged and proved a boon to the Mitchell family.
When the prices of farm produce began to improve, the greater part of the better land of the Cache Dale farm was apportioned to four or five farmers on purchase contracts. The remaining section and a half, including the farm buildings, were retained by the Mitchells. This portion of the land was an excellent location and base for small livestock and dairy farming. The older boys in the family had settled elsewhere in other occupations, but Grandfather was able to operate the farm by himself.
A MISSION CALL TO BRITAIN came to Grandfather Mitchell about this time. Returning to the land of his birth, he was appointed to preside over the Newcastle Conference (District). The mission afforded Grandfather an opportunity to assemble a priceless genealogy and history of the Mitchell family, including a history of his surname. He ran across the name Mitchell on a grave stone and inquired of the rector for more information. The latter had a printed genealogy of Mitchells in which Grandfather was able to find his own family connection.
Returning home from his third mission, Grandfather purchased a smaller home for himself and Grandmother in Logan. Feeling that income from his land was not sufficient, he obtained a position in the First National Bank at Logan. He soon became assistant cashier (dealing also with correspondence) and would have advanced further but for his age. In the course of two or three years the work in the bank proved too strenuous and he retired. He was called as patriarch of the Cache Valley Stake in the spring of 1919.
TEMPLE WORK for his own family and officiating in the Logan Temple crowned the long and fruitful life of Grandfather Mitchell. He completed the necessary work in the temple for all names then available.
He died on July 26th, 1923, at the age of eighty-eight.
Compiled from 1. A sketch by Andrew Jensen in the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (edition unknown), 2. A MS by a son, Milton R. Mitchell, "Stories from the life of FAHF Mitchell"; and 3. Experiences known to Margaret Blackhurst Bird…by Edwin B. Morrell, a great grandson.
History of Frederick Augustus Herman Frank Mitchell (2)
Frederick A.H.F. Mitchell, Utah pioneer of 1854, was a man of unusual ability in many ways. Born in Sheffield, England, in 1835, he was in the full strength of young manhood when he began his career in Utah and from the very first his influence was felt among his fellows and he forged ahead in every endeavor. He was a man of affairs and engaged in numerous business enterprises, but he gave his full measure of time, too, to the upbuilding and to the service of his church. Thus he was one of the early-day missionaries to Hawaii, laboring there contemporaneously with the late President Joseph F. Smith when he, too, was a young man on his first mission. Years later, in 1873, he filled another mission in Hawaii, and even in later life still, when he was more than 65 years old he filled a mission to England and was a conference president. He was an ardent Sunday school worker and a bishop’s counselor in the Thirteenth ward of Salt Lake City. In his declining years he was a worker in the temple at Logan, whither he had moved in the early 90’s, and was a patriarch and genealogical worker.
Among the business enterprises he engaged in, he was a founder of the Godbe-Mitchell Mercantile Co., he was buyer for big concerns in Utah in the day when he had to cross the plains by stage and carry large sums of money through country teeming with hostile Indians and road agents. He founded the pioneer tin and plumbing shop of Salt Lake and engaged in the salt refining business. He was connected with Z.C.M.I. and developed various coal mines, also engaging in the retail coal business. When he moved to Cache valley he engaged in ranching and livestock business. He was an earnest student of good books and possessed a keen intellect and unusual power of discernment. He died in Logan less than a year ago.
History of Frederick Augustus Herman Frank Mitchell (3)
MITCHELL, FREDERICK AUGUSTUS HERMAN FRANK (son of Hezekiah Mitchell and Sarah Mallinson Mitchell). Born July 14, 1835, Sheffield, Yorkshire, Eng. Came to Utah September, 1854, James Brown company.
Married Margaret Thompson Nov. 15, 1855, Salt Lake City (daughter of Ralph Thompson and Ann Bently of Nauvoo, Ill., and later of St. Louis, Mo., pioneers September, 1852). She was born Jan. 31, 1840, Alston, Cumberland, Eng. Their children: Margaret Ann b. Aug. 28, 1859, m. Alfred H. Caine; Emily Lavinia b. July 13, 1861, d. infant; Ella b. Jan. 18, 1864, m. Lafayette Grant Burton; Francis Laura b. March 20, 1866, m. Alexander McMaster; Frederick Augustus b. Dec. 30, 1867, d. infant; Eleanor Mary b. June 20, 1870, m. Hyrum Mickle Blackhurst; Ida Rachel b. Sept. 24, 1872; Herman Frank b. Oct. 18, 1874, m. Mary Maude Thompson; Ralph Thompson b. Feb. 4, 1877, m. Sarah Oliver Yeates; Alfred Hezekiah b. March 26, 1879, m. Beatrice Carlisle; Milton Reuben b. Jan. 21, 1883, m. Helena Belinken; Edgar Bently b. Sept. 13, 1885, m. La Prile Barber. Family resided Salt Lake City and Logan, Utah.
Member of 27th and 57th quorum seventies; missionary to Hawaiian Islands 1856-8 and 1873-5, to Great Britain 1899-1902; presided over Hawaiian mission from 1873-5; member of council 57th quorum seventy from 1860-1902; counselor in the high priest quorum of Cache stake of Zion; second counselor in bishopric of 13th ward, Salt lake City; superintendent of Sunday school, twentieth ward, Salt Lake City. County surveyor Summit Co., Utah; commissioner to locate University lands, territory of Utah; deputy U.S. mineral surveyor 1887-1900. Merchant; civil engineer; farmer. Family home Logan, Utah.
Frederick Augustus Herman Frank Mitchell (4)
Utah Since Statehood, Vol. 4, p.264
Frederick Augustus Herman Frank Mitchell, now past eighty-four years of age, was born at Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, July 14, 1835. His parents, Hezekiah and Sarah (Mallinson) Mitchell, came to Utah with their family, numbering eight, in the James S. Brown company, arriving September 29, 1854. The father was a prominent churchman, becoming a high priest and counselor in the bishopric of the first ward of Salt Lake City, thus serving at the time of his demise. By trade he was a machinist and also gave his attention to farming. He died September 25, 1872, in Salt Lake City.
F.A.H.F. Mitchell entered upon his business career as a clerk for the firm of Hooper, Williams & Company, which whom he remained for eighteen months. On the 15thof November, 1855, he was married to Miss Margaret Thompson, a daughter of Ralph and Ann (Bentley) Thompson, and a native of Alstone, Westmoreland, England, where she was born January 31, 1840. In the latter part of that year her parents came with their family to the United States and resided at Nauvoo, Illinois, until they were expelled by mob violence in the last week of September, 1846. As best they could they made their way to St. Louis, Missouri, having relatives there, and during their sojourn in that city were the victims of that pestilential epidemic¾ cholera¾ which caused the death of the mother and three of their children. In 1852 Mr. Thompson and the remainder of the children crossed the plains to Utah with ox teams. He died February 8, 1972, and thus passed away a worthy follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the month of April, 1856, F.A.H.F. Mitchell was called at the general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to take a mission to the Hawaiian Islands. It was at a time when the most severe conditions existed regarding lack of food in the history of the early experiences of the Utah pioneers. In the previous harvest there had not been over ten per cent of the amount of the seed harvested that was sown in the spring, and the harvests of the preceding years were also very seriously diminished by the ravages of the grasshoppers and crickets, so that there were few and limited stores to relieve the scarcity. Mr. Mitchell had not been able to lay up any part of his earnings. The necessities of his parents’ family required all he could apply to their sustenance. When flour could be obtained it was sold at twenty-five dollars per hundred weight. There were a large number of families called to settle Carson valley, at that time a part of the territory of Utah. Many of these families had cattle and Mr. Mitchell obtained employment to drive loose stock to their destination, for which he was to receive his board. He made the entire journey on foot, tramping the trail over the Sierra Nevada mountains to Placerville, California. Unable to obtain employment in Sacramento, he went to San Jose, near San Francisco, and obtained work in the harvest fields in that district for a time. He had a letter from Captain William H. Hooper to his friend, the Hon. C.K. Garrison, who was the president of the New York and San Francisco Steamship Company. Mr. Garrison was absent in New York and the son voluntarily secured passage for Mr. Mitchell to Honolulu. He sailed about the 3d or 4th of September, 1856, on the Frances Palmer, arriving at Honolulu on the 18th of September, and on the 22d of the same month took a schooner for the island of Maui, to attend the church conference at Wailuku. He was appointed to labor for the first six months on the island of Molokai and assiduously applied himself to the study of the Hawaiian language. In three months’ time from the date of his arrival at Honolulu he addressed the Hawaiians in their own language and from that [time] on had no difficulty in communicating with them in their own tongue. From that beginning he labored on the islands of Hawaii, Maui and Oahu and previously upon the island of Molokai, being soon able to use the island language as readily as his native English.
After a sojourn of about eighteen months all the missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were called home owing to the fact that the United States government was sending its Johnston’s army to mob the Mormons of Utah. He obtained passage on the brig Fannie Major to San Francisco by shipping as painter and paying twenty-five dollars¾ painting the vessel from stem to stern, from the bulwarks to the water’s edge before she left port, also doing what work there was to do on the voyage besides, for steerage fare. He arrived at San Francisco, April 6, 1858, and in May and June made two trips from Petaluma to the northern boundary of the state on horseback, visiting the members of the church to learn if any desired to go to Utah. He succeeded in finding about twelve families having that many horse teams, and piloted them from Marysville by way of Placerville and the Humboldt route to Ogden, Utah, arriving there October 27, 1858.
Mr. Mitchell then entered the employ of William S. Godbe, a druggist, with whom he continued for several years, when an opportunity developed to embark in a commission purchasing enterprise, taking orders for dry goods, groceries, hardware, machinery, farm implements, etc., at a rate of from five to ten per cent commission and a uniform rate of freight from place of purchase by teams from the Missouri river. The custom in those days was a round one hundred per cent advance on cost and freight, which was a great tax on the industrial efforts of the early pioneers. Mr. Mitchell, having acquired a general acquaintance with the personnel of the pioneers throughout the territory, had no difficulty in obtaining their patronage and formed a partnership with the aforesaid Mr. Godbe. Under the proposition previously indicated, in the season of 1864, they purchased sixty-five thousand dollars worth of goods, which they delivered to their patrons on an average of seven and a half per cent on cost and twenty-five cents per pound freight. In the seasons of 1865 and 1866 their purchases amounted to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars each year. In the two following seasons the business shrank very materially for the reason that the Union Pacific Railroad was nearing completion, which had the effect of revolutionizing the old trade theory, hence they retired. At that time Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution was inaugurated and this proved a marked factor in emancipating the public from the lion propensity of high profits demanded by alien merchants. Mr. Mitchell then entered into the business of manufacturing tin and sheet ironware and for several years supplied Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution with its supply of those commodities, at prices no higher than if purchased in the city of Chicago, with freight added. During this latter period Mr. Mitchell was for eight years a member of the Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society board.
For several years Mr. Mitchell acted as counselor to the late Bishop Edwin D. Wooley of the thirteenth ward of Salt Lake City. In 1873 he was called by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on a second mission to the Hawaiian islands, Mrs. M.T. Mitchell and their family of five children accompanying him. The church labors assigned to him on that mission were to preside over the church on those islands. While there a very interesting event transpired which gave the church much greater influence and prestige than it had obtained before with the government. The newly elected king, Kalakaua, honored Mr. Mitchell and his fellow churchmen with a visit while making an official tour of all communities on his capital island, Oahu. They extended to him the largest reception he received in any of his outlying communities, entertaining his majesty by assembling six or seven hundred of his subjects to hear him deliver an address. Two hundred Sunday school children sang for him and the king with thirty-five of his official retinue was entertained at the mission residence and two hundred of his native followers were sumptuously fed at the meeting house. The barriers to all future cordiality were removed and an invitation was given to visit the king at his palace in Honolulu at any time they might desire. The king was so impressed with what they were doing for his people that when Mr. Mitchell was returning home and desired to take with him an adult native the king responded to the request, saying that if for every ten persons we might desire to go to our country to be taught our customs only one should return, that one would be of far greater value to his country than the ten remaining at home. The missionaries of the church heretofore were not allowed to solemnize marriages, but afterward the privilege was granted to the elders. Mr. Mitchell returned from this mission in February, 1875.
Disposing of the tin and ironware business, Mr. Mitchell entered the employ of Zion’s Cooperative Mercantile Institution and made two commercial trips to Richmond in the north and to all settlements south of St. George and Pioche on the west, adjusting much unsettled business with the branch stores. He afterward held a position in the dry goods department for more than five years, when he left that position to develop an interest in coal mining property in Summit county, Utah, obtained in 1865. The mine was reopened by digging a vertical shaft one hundred feet in depth to the main body of the coal. At this time the Utah Eastern Railroad Company was building a road from Coalville to Park City and to Salt Lake City and had induced the Ontario Solver Mining Company to subscribe liberally to that enterprise, and as an adjunct thereto had induced the said company to desire an interest in the coal company and was willing to purchase thirteen-twenty-fifths of the stock. Mr. Mitchell, who owned more than ninety per cent of the stock of the Wasatch Coal Mining Company, sold to the Ontario Silver Mining Company the said amount of thirteen-twenty-fifths of the capital stock of the Wasatch Coal Mining Company and at the same time a new corporation was made of that interest under the title of the Home Coal Company, of which Mr. Mitchell was elected a director, and also became the secretary and manager, acting in that capacity for fourteen years. In the meantime the developments were such that an output of one thousand tons per day was obtained. However, the Utah Eastern Railroad was built only to Park City, therefore the market that was to be obtained by that road to Salt Lake City failed of accomplishment, producing a curtailment to the productive profits, resulting in the freezing out of the minority shareholders. To liquidate the expense of the extended improvements a heavy assessment of the fifty-five per cent on the stock was levied. Mr. Mitchell, failing to pay, his interest in that property was absorbed.
At that time he changed his residence to Cache county, Utah. From 1888 Mr. Mitchell held an appointment under the United States government as deputy mineral surveyor. Under a call of the presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he was appointed to take a mission to Great Britain, on which he departed in October, 1899, sailing from Philadelphia in October and arriving at Liverpool, on the 1st of November. He was appointed to labor in the Newcastle-on-Tyne conference and the December following received the appointment to preside over that conference, continuing in that position until released to return home in February, 1902. While in Great Britain he had the privilege of visiting Scotland, Ireland and London.
Prior to the admission of Utah into the Union, Mr. Mitchell was elected three consecutive terms, or for a period of six years, a member of the board of commissioners to locate university lands and during the last term acted as chairman of the board. During that period he had charge of reviewing a large number of the lands located upon, for the reason that his predecessors had filed on an excess of acreage over that awarded by act of congress. Therefore the commission visited many of the locations to learn the least desirable of the lands located and thus produced the least amount of trouble possible at the time locations were allowed coincidental with the acquiring of statehood. This review enabled the board to relinquish through its records the excessive acreage and bring the total amount equal to the net amount granted by act of congress. Mr. Mitchell also acted as superintendent of the twentieth ward Sunday school in Salt Lake City for several years, being relieved of that responsibility on moving from the ward. He was a home missionary in the Salt Lake stake for a period of nine years, ending in 1893. He acted as agent for the Deseret News Company in Logan during the years 1905, 1906 and 1907. From April, 1905, until June 21, 1909, he was secretary and manager of the Cache Commercial Club in Logan, retiring when that organization was given over to the Boosters Club. Mr. Mitchell is now the representative of the Genealogical Society of Utah and first counselor to the president of the High Priests’ Quorum of the Cache stake. He is also an ordained patriarch in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
An Excerpt from The Church of Jesus Christ in Hawai'i, 1850-2000
Sister Mildred E. Randall returns to Hawaii on a second mission and reestablishes a school in Läie, initially with four Hawaiian students taught in English. This same year, Frederick A.H.F. Mitchell succeeds George Nebeker as president of the mission.
January 1, 1874
President Mitchell bans the drinking of awa (kava), saying it's against the Word of Wisdom (the Church did not universally enforce the Word of Wisdom at this time) and orders the commercial awa crops to be uprooted and destroyed. This leads a group of about 150 "dissident" Saints to purchase the 5,000-acre ahupua'a in Kahana for $6,000 making Kahana the second-largest LDS congregation in the kingdom. President Mitchell is released later that year and the ban is dropped. Some of the people move back to Läie while the rest remain in Kahana which becomes an important Church site. This entire incident is sometimes called the "awa rebellion." (Spurriers history notes that in ensuing years personal consumption of awa was insignificant, but it remained a good cash crop. Many Kahana Saints later move to Iosepa colony in Skull Valley, Utah.)