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Frederick A.H.F. Mitchell

Utah Since Statehood, vol. 4. Also mentioned: Ann Bentley, Sarah Mallinson, Hezekiah Mitchell, Margaret Thompson, Ralph Thompson.

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 parentsí 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 monthsí 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 Johnstonís 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 waterís 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 Zionís 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 Zionís 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 Zionís 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 Priestsí Quorum of the Cache stake. He is also an ordained patriarch in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


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