William Henry Streeper

William Henry Streeper

Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 4 Oct 1930 (aged 93)
Centerville, Davis County, Utah, USA
Burial Centerville, Davis County, Utah, USA
Plot A-3-2-4
Memorial ID 45491 · View Source
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Son of Wilkinson Streeper and Matilda Wells

Married Mary Amelia Richards, 16 Oct 1867, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Children - William Henry Streeper, Samuel Wilkinson Streeper, Charles Arthur Streeper, Howard Streeper, Herbert Rex Streeper, Harry Selby Steeper, Mary Catherine Streeper, Cyrus Wells Streeper, Annie Genieve Streeper, Erma Rhoda Streeper

Heart Throbs of the West, Kate B. Carter, Vol. 6, p. 447

William Henry Streeper was the son of Wilkinson Streeper and Matilda Wells Streeper. He was born August 1, 1837, in Philadelphia, Pa. He came with his parents to Salt Lake City in October, 1851.

Late in the fall, William Henry began hauling wood from Emigration and Little Cottonwood Canyons. After much labor and trouble, due to inexperience, he learned from an elderly pioneer how to cut, load and bind the wood on his wagon. Wood was one of the chief mediums of exchange, and debts were paid with timber of various dimensions. With his wagon and oxen he hauled sand and rocks from the foothills for building purposes in the city.

The building at the corner of Main and First South Street, known as the "Godbe-Pitts corner," built of red sand-stone, was one of the buildings for which he hauled. At that time it was one of the most imposing business places in the valley.

In 1856 William Streeper was sent out with a group of men to meet one of the handcart companies. They started late in November, when snow through the canyons was three to five feet deep. They had two riding ponies, and drove on their wagons four yoke of oxen, taking with them, besides other provisions, six head of beef cattle. A month later they guided the handcart company into the valley.

During 1857 Johnston's Army threatened to enter the Salt Lake Valley and was opposed by the Mormons. At the time of the exodus of the Saints from the city William was one of the young men appointed by Brigham Young to burn the city should the army enter and attempt to occupy it.

On October 16, 1867, he married Mary Amelia Richards. The greater part of their lives was spent in Centerville, where he was engaged in farming.

In October, 1862, when the telegraph line from Placerville, California, on the west and from the Missouri River on the east, met at Salt Lake City, the Pony Express passed into history, but it left behind it records of men, like William H. Streeper, unsurpassed for enterprize, romance and adventure.

The following is the story of a return trip as told by William Henry Streeper:

"I rode the Pony Express during 1861-1862. My route was in Nevada, between Diamond Springs and Smith Creek. From Diamond Springs it was 35 miles to our next station, which was Roberts Creek; then it was another 35 miles from Roberts Creek to Dry Creek. The next station was Simpson's Park, and from there it was 40 miles to Smith Creek, where we changed riders.

"We rode ordinary ponies. When their backs became sore, as they sometimes did, from carrying packs, we doctored them ourselves. We stationed animals all along between stops so we could change and have fresh ones. We drove them about seven or eight miles an hour, often riding in the dark. Many is the time I have eaten my supper on the trail and my breakfast eighty or ninety miles from there. At the time of the second inauguration of Lincoln the mail was carried from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California, in seven and a half days.

"There were seven riders on my route and we used both mules and horses, riding the pony and driving pack animals before us.

"We had guns and pistols and sometimes used arrows in self defense. I carried a pair of pistols but never had any trouble. Indians shot arrows at me and white men have drawn guns on me, but I never had one touch me. I was very fortunate.

"Just the day before one of my trips, Mr. Dave Proctor and his wife and a train of 45 wagons came to Diamond Springs late in the afternoon. I urged them to stop as there was good feed and water and it was 35 miles through hills and hollows to Roberts Creek. They camped close to the station and I was invited to have supper with Dave Proctor and his wife. The following morning they ate breakfast with me and then started on their journey. The following morning was my turn to ride and I passed them before they reached Dry Creek Station. I hurried on to Simpson's Park and found the Indians had attacked the station and robbed it of almost everything. They had killed Jim Alcott, the other rider. Hurrying on I found Simpson's Park Station burned, nobody around and no animals to change with. So I went on another 40 miles toward Smith Creek, where I met the other rider on his return trip. When I told him all that had happened he turned around and we went to Smith Creek together.

"The following morning two prospectors asked if they might go along with us, as they were afraid of Indians. We gave them our consent and continued our journey in a snow storm but free from the attack of Indians.

"When we neared Dry Creek we saw a herd of cattle running from the station so we stopped a few rods distant. There were no signs of people so I left the other man and rode my pony to the building, the front of which was blown out. There were indications of a skirmish. Looking in I gazed with horror into the face of one of our riders who had been killed.

"With anxiety we rushed toward Roberts Creek, stopping only for short rests and to let the animals graze. At Diamoad Springs the Indians threatened us but seemed quelled by our fearless threats, though they followed us and stole most of our animals at night. We finally reached Roberts Creek Station, where we received a hilarious welcome.

"Howard Eagan, the head agent, received the support of a squad of soldiers to protect the route. I took two yoke of cattle and an old Indian called "Duditchemo" and went with them to haul supplies. "Duditchemo" was a faithful Indian guard, who made several trips.

"Upon one occasion at Diamond Springs, Mr. Bolivar Robertson, the postmaster, asked for a fast rider to take the mail into Salt Lake City; I volunteered. The mail pouch contained a great deal of money. The captain asked how many soldiers I wanted for guards and I told him none. A California postmaster who was there asked if I would like him to come along and I told him he could not keep up with me.

"I didn't take anyone. It was 22 miles from there to Ruby Valley, where I had to change animals. There was no more trouble from Indians and I went straight through from station to station till I reached Salt Lake City. Brigham Young called me in and advised that I quit the route, but I told him that I had promised the boys I would return and wanted to keep my word.

"When I went back the boys were glad to see me. That was in 1862, and was my last run."

William H. Streeper survived all other Utah Pony Express riders. He died at his residence in Centerville, Utah, and was buried in the Centerville Cemetery October 13, 1930. — (Eila Streeper.)

Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, Easton Kelsey Company (1851)

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  • Maintained by: SMSmith
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 1 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 45491
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Henry Streeper (1 Aug 1837–4 Oct 1930), Find A Grave Memorial no. 45491, citing Centerville City Cemetery, Centerville, Davis County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by SMSmith (contributor 46491005) .