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Riley Newton Draper
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Birth: May 7, 1857
Salt Lake County
Utah, USA
Death: Mar. 14, 1927
Sanpete County
Utah, USA

Riley Newton Draper, was born May 7, 1857, at Draper, Utah. He was the son of William, Jr. and Fanny Newton Draper. In the fall of 1857, the family moved to Spanish Fork, where they lived until 1864. They subsequently moved to Moroni, Sanpete County, Utah, where they lived the rest of their lives.

Riley was seven years old when he arrived in Moroni. From that time on he had to help support his mother and her other children, because of the reverses suffered by his father in this last move, and because of the extraordinary size of his family.

Riley fell in love with Lena Margretta Morley, granddaughter of Isaac Morley, Sr. - the Draper and Morley families had been closely linked since their conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Joseph Smith, Jr. knew and loved both families well. Riley and Margretta were married January 2, 1879.

Riley had scarcely any formal education and nothing to offer to his bride but his hands and a will to work. Wage labor at that time would not bring more than $1.25 for twelve hours. Nevertheless, he faced the future with optimism and confidence. Not long after they were married there began to be talk about constructing a new irrigation canal from the Sanpitch River to irrigate some unclaimed land between Fairview and Fountain Green. Relying upon this talk Riley immediately filed upon a homestead between Moroni and Fountain Green. To perfect a title to this land he had to pay filing fees and live with his family on it continuously for four years.

This he did, and in the meantime he had to earn money to support his family. First, he built a log cabin with a dirt roof on the land to house his growing family, and then he took a job as a section hand on the narrow gauge railroad that ran through the valley. He left home before daylight and did not get home until after dark and he worked seven days a week for the sum of $1.25 a day.

He worked at sheep-shearing in the spring, and by dint of immense labor managed to clear his land and operate a farm. By 1894, seven children were born to him and his wife, two girls and five boys - a family well-adapted to a farm economy. However, tragedy stalked the family. The eldest boys, twins, both died young - one at the age of three, and the other at the age of twelve. In 1897, Riley's wife passed away at the age of thirty-six. The remaining children were either too young or too immature to take on raising a family, so he doubled his efforts to raise the children and work the farm until October 19, 1898, when at the behest of his family he married Eliza Maria Petersen, with whom he subsequently had eight additional children.

Riley was a man of deep convictions and great honor. A fuller account of his life is found in the book "The Mormon Drapers," published by his son Delbert Morley Draper. In the conclusion of the chapter on Riley Newton, Delbert included the following poem, penned by himself, in which he attempted to sum up his feelings about his father's challenging but honorable life:


In the sterile, sun baked valley
He swung his grubbing hoe,
While by his side, his children
Heaped the brush, and thought it fun
To watch the flames, at evening,
Light the sky.

It took five years of bending toil
To break the grip of age old sage
On eighty, arid acres; to dig canals
To carry water to the thirsting grain
Until it waved upon the gray expanse,
A golden sea of gladness
And of hope.

The crop was ripe for harvesting,
But when the reaper came,
The mother who had borne the strain
Of want, and work, and motherhood
Fell ill and died.

A line of dusty wagons followed to the grave
Where clods of earth and alkali
Fell with hollow thud upon the coffin box.
A prayer was said, a marker placed,
And cactus flowers were planted
On the grave.

Dazed and mute, the swinger of the hoe
Bent his back and carried on.
By force of will, he drove his hands
To tasks untried and new,
And though his grief was masked
His voice grew thick, when little eyes
Turned up to him with welling tears
And questions.

Lines of care crossed lines of pain,
But still he worked as if he saw
The broken threads of life unite again.
For thirty years he sowed and reaped
And shared the bounty of his land, and heart,
With others.

And then one spring he died.
Tense at heart, but tearlessly,
His children bore him to his grave
And laid him by their mother.
They planted iris by the cactus flowers
And went their way.

The dearest ties are cut
And yet they walk, as he had walked,
Unmoved by hurts and ills ... If darkness comes,
The sky is lit with fires of sage
And in the light, a deathless figure stoutly swings
A gleaming, grubbing hoe!

Delbert M. Draper
Family links: 
  William Draper (1807 - 1886)
  Fanny Draper (1834 - 1907)
  Lena Margretta Morley Draper (1861 - 1897)
  Eliza Maria Petersen Draper (1874 - 1928)*
  Margaretta Laverna Draper Eliason (1880 - 1962)*
  Riley P. Draper (1882 - 1885)*
  Riley P. Draper (1882 - 1894)*
  Delbert Morley Draper (1884 - 1965)*
  Roswell Newton Draper (1886 - 1961)*
  Fanny Abiah Draper (1888 - 1974)*
  Sherman Lavell Draper (1894 - 1975)*
  William Allen Draper (1912 - 1995)*
  Henry Hagarty Draper (1826 - 1904)**
  Julia Anna Draper Durbin (1828 - 1884)**
  Moses Draper (1832 - 1915)**
  William "Doc" Lathrop Draper (1836 - 1887)**
  Albert Edward Draper (1840 - 1913)**
  Parley Pine Draper (1843 - 1924)**
  Almon Draper (1846 - 1919)**
  Isaac Grant Draper (1846 - 1922)**
  Amanda Melvina Draper Smith (1847 - 1906)**
  Nephi Draper (1849 - 1921)**
  Mary Ann Draper Kimball (1849 - 1921)**
  Caroline Draper Tripp (1850 - 1926)**
  Eliza Jane Draper Smith (1854 - 1946)**
  George Howarth Draper (1855 - 1933)**
  Almyra Laura Draper Bradley (1855 - 1875)**
  Brigham Manhardt Draper (1855 - 1926)**
  Riley Newton Draper (1857 - 1927)
  Artemesia Draper Anderson (1857 - 1940)**
  James Draper (1859 - 1927)**
  Malona Draper Smith (1860 - 1941)**
  Irene Draper Bradley (1861 - 1951)**
  Lois Draper Bruno (1862 - 1934)*
  Amos Draper (1863 - 1944)**
  John Draper (1863 - 1865)**
  Tranquilla Dye (1864 - 1947)**
  Orin Draper (1864 - 1943)**
  Orvilla Draper Shafer (1865 - 1943)**
  Mary Ellen Draper Christensen (1866 - 1915)**
  Ruth Hannah Draper Armstrong (1867 - 1950)**
  Alfred Draper (1869 - 1959)**
  Launy Olive Draper Anderson (1869 - 1967)**
  Aury Draper (1869 - 1961)**
  Ordansa Draper (1871 - 1871)**
  Charles Thomas Draper (1872 - 1872)**
  Chester Draper (1873 - 1888)**
  Myrum Ellinor Draper Lund (1875 - 1965)**
*Calculated relationship
Riley N. Draper
Born May 7, 1857
Died Mar 14, 1927
Note: Headstone marks the graves of wife Lena Margretta Morley and his two eldest sons, Riley Philemon and Riley Philetus.
Moroni City Cemetery
Sanpete County
Utah, USA
Maintained by: ccdesan
Originally Created by: John Warnke
Record added: Apr 02, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 13823714
Riley Newton Draper
Added by: ccdesan
Riley Newton Draper
Added by: John Warnke
Riley Newton Draper
Added by: John Warnke
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Just passing by
- LaRetta Draper Henson
 Added: Oct. 15, 2010
Rest in Peace, G'pa Riley!
- ccdesan
 Added: Oct. 3, 2009

- Suzy E.
 Added: Jul. 5, 2009
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