John Dodds Telford

by Effie Wiser


John Dodds Telford was Born 12 March 1832 in Johnston, Ontario, Canada.  His father, John Telford, was born 2 Mar. 1802 in Armagh, Ulster, Ireland, and his mother, Jane Telford (cousin), was born 17 Dec. 1795 in Armagh, Ulster, Ireland.  When John was nine years old he was left an orphan.  After his parents death he was apprenticed to a weaver and became an expert weaver of fine linens.  He was more interested in agriculture however.  When he was about 21 years old, he and his cousin Jane Telford went to Scotland and were married. 


One son, Robert, was born in Scotland in 1826.  Soon after they returned to Ireland where two other children Anna and George were born.  About 1830 or 31 they left Ireland with their three children and came to Canada on an emigrant ship.  During the voyage there was a terrible storm which nearly sunk the ship.  Water washed over board doing much damage and among other valuables their records were destroyed.  After eight weeks they landed in Quebec, Canada.  Later they sailed down the St. Lawrence river and settled near the great lakes, just across the river from Detroit, Michigan.  Here grandfather John Dodds Telford was born.  His early childhood was spent here.


On 3 January 1838 his mother, Jane, joined the Latter-day Saint church and on 17 January 1838 his father John was baptized into the L.D.S. church by John Witt.  Soon after they went to join the saints in Kirtland, Ohio. They crossed into Detroit in a wagon with only a few things allowed by the U. S. government and joined the saints there. 


The happy care-free days of his childhood were over for the 6 year old John D. as he began his new life in Kirtland under adverse circumstances of the turbulent days of violent prejudice and persecution against the Latter-day Saint people.  He endured the hardships and tragedy of thirteen years of persecution.  He with his parents and other children were mobbed and driven from their homes in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois.  John D. Saw his father's home in Missouri burned to the ground and their harvested crops burned and destroyed as they were driven ill and destitute from the state.  They later settled in Nauvoo, Ill.  And John D. worked with his father and two brothers on the Nauvoo temple.  He was too young to do regular work but went every day and helped as water carrier, carrying needed tools and doing odd jobs, etc.


He climbed up and down the frame work all day long, from the top of the structure to all parts of the building carrying buckets of water to the thirsty men who were working so desperately to finish the temple before they were driven from their homes.  It was just before his 14th birthday that John D with his parents and hundreds of other Mormons were forced thru persecution to leave their comfortable homes in Nauvoo during that bitter cold winter of Feb. 1846 and face the danger and hardship of that cold freezing weather on the trackless prairies of Iowa. 


His father later got work for himself and his sons at Quincy bottoms and the family lived there two years while the men were cutting rails which they sold to a steamship co., thus earning money to buy horses, wagons and equipment for their journey westward to the valleys of the mountains.  While the family was at Garden Grove in 1850 John D.'s brother, George, died from the effects of pneumonia, which was caused through exposure and cold suffered while he was working on the Nauvoo temple.  Two infant children, another brother and baby sister had also died from the ill effects of persecution.


In 1851 when John D. As 19 years old he came to Utah with his parents and other members of the family.  They crossed the plains with the Harry Walton co.  His father was a captain of 50 men and the mother and children came with Harry Walton's 50 and John Ellis's 50.  While on the plains their horses were stolen and he had to learn to hitch up the oxen and drive them.  They reached Salt Lake City, Utah Sept. 1851.  Soon after the family moved to Bountiful, Davis Co. Utah. 


On 22 Feb. 1852 he married Sarah Matilda Coltrin.  She was born 2 Dec. 1832 in Painsville, Lake Co. Ohio.  They lived in Bountiful for about 10 years, then they moved to Richmond Cache Co. Utah where my mother (Lizzie Helen) was born 21 October 1862.  Here 4 more children were born to them.  They lived first in the old fort but later moved into a home of their own which was located two blocks south and one block east of the old co-op store and directly south of the fort.  They had a comfortable home, a large log house with 2 big rooms and a summer kitchen and a food cellar.  They had fruit trees and berries and raised a good garden on the 1.5 acre lot. 


John D. also had a farm on the Canable that his father had given him.  They lived over 10 years in Richmond then when the land on the flat across the muddy river west of Richmond was opened for settlement he moved and settled on a 160 acre farm on a bluff over looking the river and the beautiful muddy river bottom just west of the old grist mill.  He reached his home by private dugway which he built at the foot of the hill, or bluff just south of the public road and the dug-way leading up the hill to the Lewiston flats.  Later he doubled his farm by the purchase of an adjoining homestead of a neighbor.


He was a successful farmer, kept his building neat and had neat yards and fences.  He built the first big frame house in Lewiston.  He was considered the best off financially of anyone on the flat.  He was a good provider, raised a good garden, berries, fruit and cured their own meat.  He was a good carpenter and broom maker.  During the early settlement of Cache valley he made brooms which he sold to the co-op store in Richmond. He was an experienced pioneer and builder.  He helped with the pioneer work and development of the early settlement of Bountiful, Richmond, and Lewiston, Utah.  He worked on roads, canals, public buildings, school houses and church buildings.  He and Norman Day took the contract to make the picket fence around the cemetery in Richmond and it still stands.


John Dodds was an elder in the Latter-day Saints church and a ward teacher for many years, and a faithful regular attendant at his church activities.  His death was caused by an accident on his return home from Richmond.  While he was closing the gate at the foot of the dug-way his team got frightened and he was attempting to climb on the running gears while the team was running, his foot caught in the brake and he was dragged to death as the team ran up the dug-way into the yard.  He was found by his wife but never regained consciousness.  He died in Lewiston 2 August 1884, at the age of 52.  He was buried in the Richmond Cemetery.


Note: the Telfords have been in Ireland since the days of Oliver Cromwell.  They were soldiers and land holders and were well-to-do people for their time.  They were given land grants in Ireland by the English government.  They were a temperate, long-lived people, interested in education, politics and religion.  In politics they were Fenians (wearers of the green).  Religiously they were Episcopalians.