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(A Short Sketch of His Life, taken from the book written by his daughter, Selena Layton Phillips) 


[Christopher Layton is Josephine (Jo) Phillips McBride’s great grandfather. Josephine (Jo) is the mother of Darvil David (Mac) McBride, Jon Robert McBride and Sally Jo McBride Porter Butterfield. Therefore, Christopher Layton is their great-great-grandfather.]
[Christopher Layton speaking]: My father Samuel Layton married Isabella Wheeler the 21 Oct.1811.  Five children were born to them; John, Bathsheba, Amos, Priscilla, and Christopher.

I, the youngest, was born in Thorncut, Bedfordshire, England on 8th, March, 1821.  I had no chance of an education in books as I had to work and help in the support of my father’s family.  My first job paid $0.36 a week- keeping crows off a wheat field, at the age of seven years.  I lost one job as foreman on a ranch, because I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I was keeping company with a fine girl, Mary Matthews.  We both belonged to the Methodist Church.  An elder in the Mormon church told me he had a revelation that there would be four persons baptized at a meeting and I was one of them.  I did not believe him but Mary and I went to this meeting and when I heard the Gospel I believed it was true and we were both baptized Jan.1, 1842.  I married Mary Matthews and about a year afterward we left Thorncut for America, at first traveling in a large baggage wagon, along with my employer, a Mr. Coleman.  We disposed of the wagon and went by train to Liverpool where we sailed for America in the good ship Swanton.  It took seven weeks and three days on the water between Liverpool and New Orleans.  We sailed up the Mississippi River having to wait for the ice to break up, but were finally tugged on up to the city of Nauvoo.  Arrived there 12, April, 1843, with $0.08 in my pocket.  Before we reached St. Louis I was obliged to borrow $7.00 from Bro. Prime Coleman.

The Saints had gathered at the Post Office in Nauvoo to welcome us and the Prophet Joseph grasped our hands and said “God bless you.”  We were happy and grateful for our safe arrival among friends.  Bro. Philemon Merrill invited us to stay with him and his wife Cyrena gave me the first glass of milk I had in America.  We went to work and built a sod house with quilts for doors the first winter.  I traded a dress coat for a four year old mare.  Our house was ten by twelve feet.  I did some ditching for a mate for the mare, then we cut hay and earned a wagon, with that we hauled our wood for the winter.

I knew the Prophet and Apostles well and when we heard of his death we felt very bad and I went with others to bring their bodies home.  Apostle Richards addressed 10,000 Saints and told us to trust in God to avenge our wrongs.  We were living at Big Mound at the time.  Four of us took up 160 acres, dividing it into forties.  I built a house on mine.  It was here that my wife took typhoid fever and died.  I could not buy any lumber so I hewed a coffin out of a log and we buried her in that.  I was left with a little thirteen months girl to raise.  A Bro. and Sister Wm. B. Smith took her and raised her.  They treated her as their own and she lived with them until she married.

On account of terrible persecutions Pres. Brigham Young was planning to carry out the Prophet’s plan of finding a place of refuge, beyond the Rocky Mountains.  Houses were burned and people were driven from place to place.  Fearing massacre many moved into Nauvoo for protection.  I went to La Harpe to see about some grain I had stored there, and while there a mob broke out and tried to overtake me.  I was riding a find racing mare and I soon left them far behind.

To cross the plains one family was supposed to have; 1 good wagon, 3 yoke of cattle, 2 cows, 3 sheep, 1000 lbs.  flour, 20 lbs. of sugar, 1 rifle with ammunition, 1 tent and poles, 20 lbs. seeds, 100 lbs. farming tools, bedding and cooking utensils, but many families were driven out with almost nothing.  I came out with the first company, Feb. 6, 1846, one of my teams pulling the little cannon called the “Old Sow”, crossed the Mississippi on the ice and camped on the snow, sleeping in our wagons.  Nine babies were born that night.  We moved slowly making only five miles a day in snow and mud.  I traveled with the Presidency.  One time we had to wait three weeks for a creek to go down.  At last we made a stop at a place we named Garden Grove, built some log huts and planted corn.  Another place we stopped at Mt. Pisgah, where we split rails, fenced in ground, broke it, and planted crops for those who would follow.  At evening time we’d dance and sing and then each family would have family prayers and go to bed.

The next stop was at Council Bluffs.  The Indians here were very friendly.  It was here that the government of the United States made a call for five hundred men from the camps of the Saints.  Pres. Young said “You shall have your Battalion”.  On the 18th of July, with others of our leaders met with the officers and gave us our last charge and blessing, with a firm promise on condition of faithfulness on our part, our lives would be spared and our expedition would result in much good and our names would be held in honorable remembrance to all generations.  We must be clean, kind, honest and virtuous and never take life when it could be avoided.  I belonged to Co. C as a private, in the Infantry.  The men subscribed liberally of their wages to be send back for the support of their families.  From Santa Fe the rations were cut two or three times.  The men were roped with the oxen to help pull the loads, and besides this they had to build a wagon road.  Often we had to march two or three days without water.  For about a hundred miles before we got to the Gila River there was no water.  As we reached the summit of the Rocky Mts.  there was plenty of deer, bear and antelope.  Going down the San Pedro, we came upon a herd of bulls.  This was the terrible bull fight (the only battle fought on the march), Bro. Cox got a terrible cut in the groin eight inches long.  He was an invalid for a long time.  We marched in and took Tucson without firing a shot, 16, Dec. 1846.  Reached San Diego for fresh supplies.  I drove the mules.  My Company was stationed about 45 miles east of Los Angeles.  Here we were discharged 15 July, 1847.  For a year and a half I worked as a foreman on a large ranch of several hundred acres for a Mr. Williams, in California.  My horse was saddled for the morning and all I had to do was ride and see that the men worked and obeyed orders.

In the spring I went to Sutter’s ranch and worked in the gold diggings.  I did not like this work and stayed only three days I trained mules for awhile then went back to southern California and bought a band of horses at $1.50 a head and started back to San Francisco selling them on the way for $100 a head.  About this time I had the misfortune to break my leg.  A widow and her two daughters too care of me and I repaid them in horses and saddles.  The rest of my money on this deal I put in the Bank of England I then left for England arriving in Liverpool Mar. 1850, and found my mother had been dead just two weeks.  I paid my tithing to Apostle Orson Hyde.

The next May I married Sarah Martin.  I engaged passage for a number of Saints who hadn’t the means, and on Oct. 2, 1850, I sailed the second time for America.  In our company was my father, my wife, also a friend of hers, Sarah Barnes and a niece of ours Priscilla Martin.  I also had charge of 250 more Saints on this ship.  I was counseled by Apostle Hyde to rent a farm in St. Louis and employ the men who came over with me thus helping them to repay the money I had loaned them to make the trip.  I was in charge of the company that was leaving for Salt Lake after Bro. A. O. Smoot was taken sick.  We had many dangerous experiences but no lives were lost and we arrived in Salt Lake City Sept. 3, 1852, with fifty-two wagons.  Pres. Young met us at Red Butte and said “If that ain’t the best outfit that ever landed on Salt Lake.”  I had brought with me a new threshing machine (the first in Utah.)  3 new wagons, one carriage, several head of horses and one hundred head of stock, some of which were blooded Durhams.

Sept. 26, 1852 I married Sarah Barnes in Salt Lake. and;

On the 12, Dec. 1853 I received my citizenship papers in Salt Lake City.

Dec. 1854 I married Isabella Golightly, by Pres. Young [President Brigham Young]. About this time I had opened up two butcher shops in Salt Lake.  I sold as many as eleven beaves [heads of cattle] in one week.  The wives made $100.00 worth of soap in one week and twelve dozen tallow candles in a day.  While the Lord was blessing us so abundantly we did not forget the poor, the widows and the missionary wives.  That fall Pres. Young advised me to close the butcher shops as the people were getting very much in debt.  So I bought a farm in Grantsville.

April, 12, 1856 I married Caroline Cooper, by Pres. Young.  Soon after this Pres. Young called me with others to settle Carson Valley Nevada.  So I traded my farm in Grantsville to a Mr. Cooley for 100 head of cattle and some money and by the end of April we were ready to travel.  My families were beginning to think we were like the pilgrims of old.  We had been traveling but a few days when we met Pres. Young and company.  We were camped at Bear River.  Pres. Young said “Bro. Layton, You have more stock than the whole church.”  “Bro. Young, they are all at your command.”  I said.  “Oh, no I don’t want them.” he said.  So I picked out ten head of my best cows and made him a present of them.  Pres. Young then gave me a blessing and said that not one of us should fall by the wayside.  This was true for we all lived to complete our journey and we did not lose a single head of stock.  While we were in Carson Valley, on the 15, Aug., 1857, a little daughter was born to my wife Caroline C. and we called her Selena.  Soon after in the fall of 1857 we were recalled to Utah.  We were a month on the road, arriving in Kaysville, Nov. 1, 1857.  I bought a house and had just gotten my family moved in when a call came for me to go to Salmon River to bring in the missionaries before spring.  This was a hard call for me to fill for my children were all small and it was winter but I always tried to do what was asked of me and I have been blessed many times over for any sacrifice I might have made.  When I returned there was another call for me to go on another pilgrimage.  Those of my family who were ready I moved to Salt Lake in a house belonging to my father-in-law Richard Golightly.  While living there the wives made yeast and traded it for flour, a scarce article that spring.  In two they had traded yeast for 200 lbs. of flour.----We went as far south as American Fork and here we were recalled.  We had left our chickens and cows behind and when we returned we found the Lord had taken care of them so that we might have them on our return.  Our grain and corn crops were almost ready to harvest, so we had our winter provisions.  I had a large herd of sheep and my older boys worked at taking care of them.  We also had a butcher shop.

My father died about this time, on the 21, Mar. 1849.  We buried him in Kaysville.  He had been almost blind for some time.

I had always kept a band of fat horses which I traded to the emigrants for their poor ones.  The emigrants and I both benefited.  During the summer of 1861 I helped several poor men to get homes and teams.  I have always been blessed whenever I have helped those less fortunate than I.  On Christmas Day I gave a large party for the windows and orphans and the poor of Kaysville.  I was the Bishop of the Kaysville ward at the time.

On the 1st of March I was made a life member of the Agricultural and Manufacturing Society of Utah.  I was very proud of this.  I was elected to the legislature of the state of Utah in Aug. 1866.  While attending the legislature I made my home with Heber J. Grant’s mother.  (She was a widow at the time.)  I helped to build a telegraph line and by Jan. 1867--500 miles had been stretched from Cache Valley in the north to Cedar City in the south.  It cost $150.00 per mile.

I was again elected to the legislature.  I also bought a train of twenty wagons and eighty mules, loaded them with flour for Ft. Bridger.  Next trip send them to California for a quartz mill and delivered it in Helena Montana.

On Christmas Eve I invited the brass band to our home and my wife Caroline C. cooked them an excellent supper.  After they had gone home my wife Septima presented us with a little daughter and we named her Amy Caroline.

June 1, 1868 I attended a mass meeting called by Pres. Young in which we passed a resolution to assist the Union Pacific railroad through the territory and to construct a branch road from Ogden to Salt Lake, called the Utah Central of which I was a director.  This year the Z.C.M.I. of Salt Lake was started, I was named a director.  We were starting Co-ops in several towns outside Salt Lake.  I started one in Kaysville at this time.  This was the year the grasshoppers were so bad.  They cam in droves and ate up our crops, but the Lord sent the Sea Gulls to rid us of the pests, for which we were very thankful.

In 1869 I took up land on the “Ridge”.  People said I was crazy to think I could dry farm on that sandy soil.  Sure the wind cut off much of the grain but I didn’t give up easily and finally made a success of it.  Today it blossoms with many lovely homes and fruit orchards.

May 1, 1879 I married Mary Jane Roberts.

When the Utah Central railroad was started I was one of the first to take a contract (it was built in small contracts by our people) to furnish timbers for the bridges and trestle work.  I took stock in the Co. for pay.  On the 10 Jan. 1870 the last spike in the Utah Central was driven by Pres. Young.  There was a big celebration, guns were fired in salute, flags were raised.  At two o’clock, the train bringing invited guests from Ogden and the north came up to the end of the track, amid the cheers of 15,000 people.  I being a director had a place of honor on the bit flat topped car, with Pres. Young and other officials.  The chased steel mallet made special and the church blacksmith shops for this occasion; the spike was also made of home made iron.  All of the speakers spoke of the fact that the road was the only one built without government subsidies.  The third night of the celebration a dance and supper was given for all who had worked on the railroad.  All of my children who were old enough went to this ball.

Sept. 10, 1870 death took our little boy Frank Gunnell, son of my wife Caroline C.

My sons were a great help to me, trusty and obedient.  I always tried to be a kind and affectionate father and maintain my place as head of my family and my word was law to them.  The Lord prospered me and I always acknowledged his hand in all things.  He blessed me with a far seeing eye that I could make calculations for the maintenance of my wives and children and I always exhorted them to thank God for His blessing to us.

The Southern Utah R.R. Co. was organized Jan. 17, 1871 and I became one of the stockholders.  It was started May 1 and was completed in Sept. of the same year.  In the spring William Galbraith and I bought a saw mill from Apostle John Taylor and soon moved it to Arbuckle Canyon.  I bought out Galbraith and took R.W. Burton and Wm. Beazley as partners.  We employed twenty men.  Cooks were very unsatisfactory so my wife Rose Ann Hudson did our cooking.  We sawed from seven to ten thousand feet a day.  Sold most of it to the railroad Co.  I sold the mill in 1873.

Pres. Young asked me to take 5,000 head of church sheep to care for.  I bought a steam tug boat and some scows, put 2,000 of my own sheep with them and shipped them over on Antelope (Church) Island.  This business I placed in the hands of my boys (my father, E.C. Phillips was with these boys- Priscilla Phillips).  We were in one very bad storm on the Salt Lake, during this time.  I had charge of these sheep and the island for five years.  We had many exciting adventures.  At shearing time our girls and boys with one of my wives to take charge of things would go over to the island, also at haying time the young folks would enjoy the pleasure of these trips.  Once we were caught in an ice jam on the lake.  Most of my wool was taken to the woolen factory at Brigham City and exchanged for flannel for dresses, jeans for the boys clothes, linsey for sheets and yarn for stockings.  The women and girls knit all the stockings.

In the summer I moved part of my family to the saw mill, the boys being old enough honest and industrious I could trust them with various branches of my business.  I was also blessed with good sons-in-law who could be depended upon to carry out my plans.  This was a great help to me.  William Jennings and I bought a grist mill in Kaysville, my son Christopher was the receiver and bookkeeper.

In the spring Pres. Young called missionaries to plant colonies in Arizona.  Nine were called from Kaysville, Edward C. Phillips was one of them but they were recalled.  One of my daughters taught school and Selena manipulated the telegraph instrument at Kaysville and taught some of the younger girls.  Selena was married to Edward C. Phillips on the 17 Nov. 1873 by Daniel H. Wells at Salt Lake City.  On Dec. 8, 1873 my daughter Eliza Ann was married to Joseph G. Allred by Daniel H. Wells.

Besides my duties as Bishop of Kaysville Ward, I farmed over 200 acres of land, ran the saw mill and grist mill and had the care of 8,000 head of sheep.  This kept my sons and sons-in-law busy.  Some of my daughters taught school, one in the telegraph office and all of them made their own clothes.  We all worked together in unity as family and always stood by each other to help if needed.  I love to recall the many social chats we had together when I’d tell them of my early life, how I managed to get along, and advise them how they could help themselves through life, how ready they all were to accept my counsel and act upon it.  These were very happy years, although the responsibilities of father and Bishop were great.  I feel to praise the Lord that he has allowed me to see my children grow up hones, straightforward and industrious, willing to make sacrifices if need be for their religion’s sake.

On Oct. 3 and 4, 1874 the Agricultural and Manufacturing Society of Utah held a Fair at Salt Lake City.  I entered a number of sheep, cows, calves and a Durham bull.  I received two diplomas for the finest sheep, one for a Durham cow and calf.  The award for the best Durham bull was a silver cup, gold lined, which was given me.

We welcomed my brother John Layton and his wife to our home Nov. 5, 1874.  They had just arrived with one hundred and fifty-fife other saints from England.

In the spring I bought another flour mill at Payson, Utah, but it was so far away that I did not keep it very long, and sold it for a good price in about a year.  Have so many employed and so many to provide for, and their families needing supplies I thought it best to buy goods wholesale, so I built a large mercantile house and ran that business for a number of years.

On July 10, 1875, Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon, died at Clarkston, Cache Co. Utah at the age of 92 years.  During this winter I moved the Church sheep to Cove Fort in Southern Utah, but they fared badly and I returned them back to the church.  In order to return the proper number, I was obliged to make up losses from my own herd, consequently I had very few left, but I would not let the Church take a loss.

The fall of 1876, I bought a thoroughbred stallion from Logan and Wilson of Missouri and raised some of the fines stock in the Territory.  I also oversaw the planting and harvesting of the largest amount of small grain ever raised in Utah.  I was the first to cut grain with a header.  This grand was raised on the Sand Ridge by dry farming.  I kept on buying more arid land until my sons and I owned about a thousand acres.  We also owned three headers, a threshing machine and other machinery for this work.  I distributed dry farm grain throughout the county, and assisted men to take up the dry land and raise grain for I told them where there is a good sage brush, grain will grow.

In the latter part of March, I and my wife, Mary Jane Roberts accompanied Apostle Joseph F. Smith and wife, Pres. Young and Wells by team to St. George to attend conference and dedicate the St. George Temple at that place.  On the return trip Pres. Young dedicated a site for the Manti Temple.  About this time a survey was made for the Weber and Davis Canals.  I was one of the stockholders and put a number of men and teams to work on it.

On June 17, 1877, conference was held in Farmington and a stake was organized and I was released as Bishop of Kaysville ward and sustained as one of the counselors.  On Aug. 23, Pres. Young was taken suddenly sick with cholera and died.

About this time I made a trip to St. Louis and bought a carload of mules, which I used to good advantage on my dry farm lands.  On Aug. 15, 1878 I married Elizabeth Williams in the Endowment House and that fall I bought a band of 320 horses, gave $10,000 for them and sold them to different men.  In the spring of 1879 I built a large frame house on the Sand Ridge, we had to dig three wells before we got a good one.  This year the first Utah wheat was shipped to Liverpool England, some of it I had raised.

From 1880 to 1883 it became necessary for my personal safety for me to go in hiding from those who were making arrests on account of my plural marriages.  I accepted a call to preside over and make a home for the Saints in southern Arizona.  I was set apart as Pres. of the St. Joseph Stake in Arizona.  I chartered two cars and loaded them with horses, mules, farm equipment, seeds, alfalfa, oats, wheat, corn and flour enough to last a year.  We arrived in St. David 24 Feb 1883.  At meeting the next day, Sunday the 25th I was sustained as Pres. of the St. Joseph stake.  David P. Kimball and James H. Martineau as counselors.  We stayed a few days at Bro. Kimball’s, then moved to the Mexican Grant.  Our cook stove under a tree, we lived in tents.  We sent out an exploration party.  We liked the Sulphur Springs and the Gila Valleys but we finally bought the Merrimont ranch down the San Pedro river.  The wind blew so hard we couldn’t live in the tents, so I went to work building a house with the boys help, we fenced in 320 acres.  One afternoon we missed the horses, half of them we found in a few days, but it was a year before we found all of them.  We built a canal for two miles, planted 100 acres and the rains brought it up, but when they stopped the crops burned up.  I bought 500 head of Sonora cattle and put my son Richard and Joseph Allred in charge of them.  I bought some land and a flour mill over in Safford, moved my wife Lizzie over there.  Wives Rosa and Septima came to Ariz. but did not stay long.  In Thatcher I built a small store building of brick and stocked it.  I had shade trees set out for a mile along main street, the sidewalks cleared and leveled.

On May 19, 1888, my daughter Selena, her husband and their five children arrived from Utah.  They brought their furniture, provisions, and farm equipment, and scrapers to level the land.  They lived with my son Joseph a few weeks while they built a brick house.

In June I took a contract to carry United States mail from Bowie to Ft. Thomas; Ft. Thomas to Ft. Grant and Bowie to Ft. Bowie.  Also enlarged the flour mill at Safford.  I took a contract from the United States to supply 10,000 lbs. of flour a week to the Indians at San Carlos.  This had to be freighted and took about eighty horses and my sons and sons-in-law were kept busy at work.  I built a house at Bowie also a stable for the horses which were used as relays for the mail stage, my sons and sons-in-law taking charge of this business, I or one of my sons going there once a month to pay off the men.  In the spring of 1893 I sold my mill at Safford to J.T. Owens.

In April 1893 the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated.  In 1894 Pres. Cleveland pardoned all polygamists and restored them to their right.

By now the Gila Valley was dotted over with homes and we had quite large assemblages at our quarterly conferences.  Each ward had one or more school houses which were well attended.  The Lord blessed us and we prospered and we were united in the cause of truth.  The engineers had been through our valley and staked out a line for a railroad.  In Oct. I went to conference in Salt Lake and while there I bought machinery for running and ice factory and creamery.  In Jan. 1895 the railroad, the Gila Valley Globe and Northern was finished as far as Pima.  By spring we had the ice factory running.

In Sept. I had to make a business trip to Geronimo.  I wasn’t feeling well and I asked my son-in-law Edward Phillips to go with me, hoping the fresh air would be beneficial.  I continued to feel worse and was confined to my bed.  On Jan. 29th I was released a Pres. of St. Joseph stake and Bro. Andrew C. Kimball was put in with Wm. D. Johnson and Charles M. Layton as counselors.

This tribute was paid me by Bro. John Henry Smith:  Pres. Layton has been an honest and industrious man.  His time and means have been at the disposal of the authorities of the church for the upholding of Gods Kingdom.  In rearing his large family he has done nobly by them, always keeping them employed, and they were a credit to him.  He has opened up the way by which many families have secured homes and the comforts of life.  He has his faults and he has made mistakes, but not serious ones.  I regard him as a generous high-minded gentleman, one who has made the world much better by having lived in it.  He gave his young manhood to preserve the liberty of the people he loved so well.  His mature judgment and great common sense have been freely utilized for the extension of Zion.  In his declining days and as he is hastening to the Great Beyond to make his reckoning there, I say of him, he is one of God’s jewels and that his name is written in the Lambs Book of Life.  I bless him and his posterity forever.

On my 77th birthday all my children who live in Arizona came to my home- I welcomed them all- also Pres. Kimball Dr. Karl G. Maeser, Patriarch Philemon Merrill and E. M. Curtis.  We decided to form a Layton family organization to search out genealogy and write a history of my life.  I appointed my daughter Selena as secretary with Charles M. and Richard G. Layton to assist and sister Sylvia Sessions as scribe, these in Ariz.  There was the same kind of committee appointed among my children in Utah.  I blessed them and admonished them to remain true to the Gospel and regard any calling they might receive as a pleasure and never obligate themselves farther than they could see their way clear.  One thought that is a great comfort to me is- not one of my fifty-two children ever apostatized from the church.  May they always help each other to be better and happier, cultivate and preserve an enlightened conscience and follow the Holy Spirit, hold fast to what is good and endure to the end.

On June 13, 1898, my grandfather left for Utah.  He had been ill one and one half years.  A parlor car was obtained for him and he made the trip with only one change.  He arrived in Ogden and was met by his sons and daughters and Apostle Richards who took charge of him.  It was decided the he should be operated on for his affliction in July and on the 7th of Aug. 1898 he passed peacefully away.

Relatives arrived from Arizona and on the 13th a very impressive funeral service was held in the Kaysville Ward with Bishop Peter Barton presiding.  Speakers were Pres. Joseph F. Smith, Seymour B. Young, Apostle John Henry Smith, Stake Pres. John W. Hess, Lorin Farr, Ralph Douglas, William C. Rydalch and Bishop Peter Barton.  All bore testimony of his faithfulness honesty and integrity.  He was laid to rest in the Kaysville Cemetery.

I am grateful and proud to be a descendant of his.  I hope that all my posterity will so live that their lives will reflect credit to the good name he bequeathed to them.

I respectfully submit this sketch of my grandfather’s life.

Priscilla Phillips Standage

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