Autobiography of Isaac Riddle
Isaac Riddle was born on March 22, 1830 to John Riddle and Elizabeth Stewart. He was their eldest child.
At the time his parents lived in Boone County, Kentucky as farmers. He wrote this autobiography at the
age of seventy. [It was first published in Grass Valley 1873- 1976, “A History of Antimony and Her People”
by M. Lane Warner. Later it was republished in The Descendants of John Riddle (1803-1887) Vol.1 compiled
by Chauncey Cazier Riddle in 2003. Parenthesis were added for material that was not included in Riddle’s
“When I was between the age of three and four years my father sold his homestead in Boone County, Kentucky
and moved to the western part of the State of Tennessee, where he bought land and built a home near the Ohio
river. However, this was not a healthy spot and we did not remain there more than three years. We then moved
to Hickman County, Kentucky near the Mississippi River where father built again and where we remained seven years.
My father was always a great reader. It was while living in Hickman County, Kentucky that he read the Book of
Mormon and a Voice of Warning and became fully convinced of the truth of the gospel. In the summer of 1843 two
Mormon Elders came to our community to preach. Father and mother were baptized. Shortly after, two sisters and
a brother were also baptized.
The following winter (1843-44) my father again broke up his home and moved, this time going to a spot near Nauvoo.
Here he began to build another home. Here we were first harassed by the enemies of the gospel, called the “Mobbers
of Illinois.? In the summer of this first year near Nauvoo, father, myself and my brother, James H. Riddle, worked
every day making oak shingles for the roof of the Nauvoo Temple. On the fifteenth day of June, 1844, having become
convinced of the truth of the gospel, I was baptized and confirmed by Zachariah Wilkins.
In the fall we were forced to break up our home again, being driven out by the „mobbers.” We went into Nauvoo.
That summer was a very hard one. The mob was out continually, over-running the country, killing stock and burning
houses. Whenever a man who professed to be a Mormon was found out alone he was cruelly beaten and tarred and
feathered. This was the summer that the Prophet and Patriarch were killed at Carthage. On that day, the 27th of
June, 1844, I was at work just six miles away. It was a most terrible time. I cannot tell how we felt.
I was then a boy of fourteen, large for my years, and a good hand at most every kind of work that boys were
accustomed to do. When we were driven from our home in the fall of 1844 and went to Nauvoo, we left a large field
of wheat in the shock, and another field of good corn standing. Looking for more peaceful quarters, we met James
Emmett, a friend of the Prophet, who had been called to fill a mission to the tribes of Indians in the north and
northwest. We joined his party (of three other families) and pulled out north through Iowa and along the Iowa
River among the Sioux Indians and the Fox Indians.
My father had a family consisting of ten, four boys and four girls, and on that trip we suffered many hardships.
I was but a boy, yet for the greater part of the three year trip, I spent
most of the time hunting and fishing in order to get enough meat to keep the family alive. My father was not a
good hunter, and consequently took care of the team and camps, and dressed the skins of the wild animals I shot.
The winter of 1844-45 was so severe that game was very scarce. Many a time I remember that one squirrel or duck
was divided between the four families that constituted the party. Our rations ran short, and for some time we
lived on one half pint of corn per day to each individual.
In the spring we went up the river to a point near the present situation of Omaha, then we left the Iowa River
and traveled west by north two hundred miles to the Missouri river. We went through much good uninhabited
country, and crossed many fine streams of water from which we obtained plenty of fish of different kinds.
On the Missouri we found the buffalo, and during the summer we had lots of meat. But when winter came the buffalo
went away and again we had hard times. The snow as very deep; clothes were very scarce, and for a bed we had a
buffalo robe apiece.
In the (late) spring we went down the Missouri and near the present site of Omaha met the first immigrants from
Nauvoo, the Saints having been driven from that city in the winter of 1845-46. While there we received a demand
from our government for five hundred of our ablest men to go to Mexico, and we believed it was a trap. Nevertheless,
our loyal leader, President Brigham Young, said: “We will furnish the men, and those who go and live their
religion shall not have a gun fired at them.” The five hundred went, and that prophesy was fulfilled.
I wanted to go, and volunteered, but on account of my age was not allowed to go. Instead I was sent up the
Platte River for the far west with another company. At the old Pawnee station we stopped for the winter and,
fortunately, were able there to mature and harvest some crops abandoned by others who had been frightened away
by Indians. We made friends with the Pancaw Indians and were comfortably located during that winter.
In the (winter and) spring of 1846 and 1847 the company made Winter Quarters and there disbanded, some settling
in and around Omaha, and others going to nearby places. At this time we had been traveling for about three
years and were in a destitute condition. We therefore obtained work and during the summer and fall of that
year, replenished our stock of clothes and other necessaries of life. We were getting along fairly well,
but in the winter Father was called on a mission to Kentucky, and I, his oldest son, was left with a large
family to look after. This I did successfully for two years. When father returned in 1850 and saw how well
the family had been cared for and the good condition our belongings were in, he said, “Well, boys, now it?s
We began the journey in July, crossing the Missouri on the 12th day of that month. This was in the summer
of 1850. I was then 20 years old, and was one elected by the company with which we traveled to hunt wild
meat. When we struck the Platte River, we followed the old trail of the California gold hunters. A company
on it?s way to the Golden Gate had journeyed along that way a few weeks ahead of us, and the trail was marked
here and there with the newly made graves of its members who had died with cholera. It was not long before
this dread disease struck our company, and quite a number were taken away by it. Father took it, but he had
had it once before and directed mother and myself how to take care of him. He suffered much but by our ministrations
and our prayers he recovered.
On the 15th day of September, 1850, we reached Salt Lake City, [with the Richards Sessions Company] then a
small village where there were a few log cabins, adobe houses, sage brush, and myriads of black crickets
that ate up all the green stuff that grew.
Our stay in Salt Lake City was very brief. Only a few days after our arrival we went north to Ogden, where
Captain Brown and a few others had located the year before. We erected a log cabin in the fort site. That
fall father and I worked for Loren Farr and Charles Hubbard on a contract to build or rather dig a trench for
a saw mill. In the winter we moved north a few miles with about two hundred head of cattle belonging to the
Ogden settlers and wintered them there.
The first outbreak of trouble with Indians occurred in the fall of 1850. The Shoshone Indians got bad and
came around Ogden. Though we had no great battle with them, still one Indian and one white man were killed.
Then the Indians went into the mountains for the winter, and we saw nothing more of them until the following
When we returned the wintered cattle to Ogden in the spring of 1851, we returned to the location where we
had spent the winter and there took up a farm and planted crops. This was our first experience with irrigation
and our first crops raised in Utah were good. It was a problem, however, to know how to harvest it. We had
an old cradle scythe, but the teeth were broken out of it. In order to get pieces to fit in for teeth we
would have to go into the mountains. Now, it had been ordered by President Brigham Young that no one should
go into the mountains because of the Indians. We were, therefore, reluctant about going. I offered to go,
but father refused to let me venture. Yet there was the grain standing ready to be mowed and nothing to mow
it with, so one day I stole away by myself, unarmed, and went into the canyon for the desired pieces. I had
no idea there really were Indians about, but there were those wiser than I, as I soon learned, for it was
not long before I met nine Indians, face to face, and I was frightened. But I thought it best to brave it
out – there was nothing else to do – and going up to them I shook hands with them, and passed on, and I
gathered my pieces for the scythe and returned. Then we mowed our first crop raised by means of irrigation,
and as we were finishing it word came from Ogden that the Indians I had passed were peace envoys from the
Shoshones, and that there was to be no more trouble.
On the sixth day of March, 1853, I married Miss Mary Ann Levie, [she was seventeen years old, having been
born on July 30, 1835 in Essex, Canada, and he was twenty-two], and that summer worked on a ferry on Bear
River, eighty miles north of Salt Lake City, clearing $1,500.00 which I invested in fifty acres of improved
land and horses and cattle. The fall and winter passed happily, and on the 6th day of March, one year from
the day of my marriage, my first boy was born. He did not live, and my wife became very ill, so that I was
distracted with grief. [They named him George Henry and he lived only thirteen days until March 19th.]
In this heavy time, when my heart was like a weight of lead in my breast, a call came from President Brigham
Young to go on a mission to Southern Utah among the Indians. My wife was hardly expected to live, and it
was the trial of my life to go and leave her in the condition she was in, but it was the call of the Lord,
and I felt as if it had to be obeyed. And so I picked up and went, trusting in the Lord for help and guidance.
My partner was Jacob Hamblin, and together we traveled three hundred miles to the southern part of Utah
amongst the Piute Indians. The best and hardest ten years of my life I put in on that mission. The little
I had made was soon gone, and it was not long before I did not have a coat for my back but though it was
hard, and I was poor, still I lived through it, and I learned to bless the Lord for what it taught me.
[History records that in 1855, while serving on this mission that Isaac Riddle discovered Pine Valley.
It happened while he was searching for a missing cow. He mentioned at the time that the grass was chest
high. He built a saw mill there, and from the Pine Valley area came the logs that were used in the construction
of the pipes in the Salt Lake Tabernacle organ.]
We traveled and preached to Indians, and in the summer of 1855 and 1856 we baptized about two hundred. We
built a small fort on the Santa Clara River among the Piutes and taught them how to work and build, to raise
crops by means of irrigation, to observe Sunday as a sacred day, and to pray. It is a singular fact that when
they learned the principles of the gospel they had more faith than did many white people, who had more chances to learn.
From the country of the Piutes we began to extend our efforts and in the summer of 1857 went as far as the
Colorado River, but there we found the Indians were of a treacherous disposition and did not stay with them
long. We traveled across the Vegas desert, down among the water pies and on one of these trips we came near
to perishing. In going from Eldorado Canyon to Las Vegas we got lost and for some time we wandered around
trying to find the trail. Not until we were ready to drop for want of water, did we find our way out.
The summer of 1858 was spent among the Piutes improving the small Indian farms, building and in exploring
the country to the south. We went through the deserts and mountains south to Arizona and east to the Colorado
line. In the fall I returned to Salt lake City and Ogden and sold my farm, putting the proceeds in a saw mill
on the Santa Clara when I returned. Until the fall of 1860 my time was divided between the Indians and my
lumber business, my travels taking me over a large area of the country from the Muddy and Virgin rivers in
eastern Utah to the Las Vegas country in Nevada. Then in the fall of 1860 I was called to build a boat to be
used in crossing the Colorado River in order that we might go among the Moquich and Navajo Indians.
I built a flat bottom boat and in company with eight others made for the Colorado. The eight of us were
Jacob Hamblin, Amos Thornton, G. McConnel, Charles Haskel, G.A. Smith Jr., Ira Hatch, James Pearce, and myself
with Enos, the little Ute guide who went along with us. We carried the boat with us on a wagon for a long
distance but because there was no road and the mountain passes were rough, we had to abandon it and go on
without it. We crossed the Colorado at the old Ute Pass and went on into a fine grassy country, but the water
was scarce and we soon found that it was very difficult to make our way from spring to spring that marked the
trail. We were making for the Moquich Indian villages, but had not gone far when we were surrounded by Navajo
Indians. They appeared friendly and we talked to them and told them
where we were going, (our guide acting as interpreter) but they tried to dissuade us. We insisted, however,
and then they told us that they would not let us go. They were very friendly about it, or appeared to be, and
we were not frightened or apprehensive, but soon we noticed that we were being surrounded by many Indians, too
many to count, until it seemed as if there were hundreds of them. There were probably in all about three hundred.
We had kept our horses together, three of the company being detailed to watch them, but now one of the horses
broke away from the rest and ran around a little hill out of sight. Young Smith immediately rode after it,
and some of the Indians followed him. One of the boys seeing this also followed and saw the Indians catch up
with the boy and take his six-shooter away from him and shoot him in the back. They shot him four times with
the revolver and also three or four times with arrows. The braves hearing the shots became frightened and left
us for the hills.
We took Smith down to the spring but could do nothing for him. That evening when we were on the
way back along the trail we had come, he breathed his last. But we were still in great danger,
for the Indians wanted the stuff we had in our packs and followed close at our heels. In the
distance we could see three mountain peaks that marked the dividing line between the land belonging
to these Indians and the tribe of Navajos whose chief was the friendly Spanashank. We knew that if
we could pass those peaks we would be safe, for the Indians would not dare go into the territory ruled
by Spanashank. It was a very difficult proposition, however, for they were eager for the stuff we
had, especially our rifles and ammunition. If they could have done so without danger to themselves,
they would have killed us. A little accident was perhaps the only thing that saved us.
On one of the mules Hamblin had a kettle filled with trinkets which he had intended to trade to the Indians.
Something frightened this mule, and he began to kick and buck, the top of the kettle came loose, and the mule
ran away from us making a circle of about half a mile scattering the trinkets in the grass as he ran. The
Indians seeing this followed it and scattered themselves along the route it had taken hunting for the trinkets.
In the meantime, we made good time in getting away, and before they had found all the scattered nothings that had
fallen out of the kettle we had gone far enough to feel safer. We reached the land of Spanashank, before they
could again catch up with us. There we made our camp and for the first time that day built a fire and had
something to eat.
That night the war chief of those Indians came up with us and told us that if we would trade with him his braves
would not attempt to follow us farther. We did so, and in the morning we gathered together what things the
Indians had not stolen from us when they surrounded us on the back trail and went on into the country of
Spanashank. Later that evening we made the camp of Spanashank, where he and about forty of his warriors and
their families were located.
This old Indian chief was an odd looking fellow. He was very short and stout with an extra large head. When
we rode into his camp, the first words he uttered was a scolding for not coming to him as soon as we struck that
country, instead of going among the bad Indians, whose only desire was to rob and kill. We stayed with Spanashank
and his warriors for a day and traded to them all the things that we could spare, getting a good price for
everything we let them have. Then we left, and after a hard journey we came safely home.
On the return I learned for the first time from our Indian guide and interpreter that the bad Indians who had
surrounded us really wanted more than our packs. He told me that some time previously a company had passed
through their country and killed some of their braves, that I looked like the captain of that company, and
they wanted me and Haskel delivered to them that they might be revenged by killing us. They wanted Haskel
because he was a friend of the Moquich Indians. But the interpreter told them that we were big men and had
lots of friends and brothers on the other side of the river, and that if we were killed our friends and
brothers on the other side of the river would come over and there would be a big war. By much talk along
this line he changed their purpose, and we were saved.
We learned later that the real reason why these Indians were so unfriendly was because a company of United
States soldiers from Camp Floyd has passed through their land a short time previous and for some trifling reason
had killed an entire band of Navajos.
Previous to this Colorado trip I had contemplated a trip into California, and now made preparations, after a
few weeks rest to carry out my plans. This was principally a trading journey, and I took with me, besides my
span of horses and wagons, five head of bulls and a wagon load of various useful articles. The trip took me
six months and is worthy of remembrance by reason of the fact that at that time I experienced for the first
time a personal manifestation of the nearness which my religion brought me to God.
I was on my way back and had reached San Bernadino when one of the prolonged, heavy rainstorms,
frequent in that region, overtook us. Being unprepared for inclement weather I got wet and was
striken down with a severe attack of pneumonia. I do not remember of ever being ill before, and
this case went very hard with me. It seemed to me that I was on the brink of death, and I realized
how far I was away from home and friends. Some kind people, seeing my position, took me in and
cared for me, but it looked as if there was no hope. I had none, and I doubt not that those people
thought that they were doing a kindness to one who was about to set out on that longer journey from
whence there is no returning.
But one night, when thoughts of death were crowding in upon me, and I was longing for a familiar face, the pain
and suffering were something more than I could bear. I said to myself that if there were some elders of our
church who could administer to me I would surely get well. No sooner had the thought entered my mind when a
small voice close to my ear said, „Why not do it yourself? You have the authority.? Inspiration or an angel?s
voice, I know not what it was, but forthwith, I acted upon the suggestion. I raised my arms and placed my hands
upon my brow, and prayed. And I saw, as I prayed a halo of light appear above me. And it descended and settled
upon my brow, and I knew that I was healed, that God had made a manifestation of his power to me and had touched
me, and I was whole, and the dread disease driven out of my body. The next morning after a night of peaceful
sleep, I arose well and strong and pursued my journey.
Thanks to the living God, who hears and answers prayers when his children humble themselves before him, I can
truly testify that He lives! I have often seen His power made manifest. Many times I have been healed through
the administrations of the elders of the Latter- Day-Saints. And many have been healed under my hands. And I
thank the God of heaven for the truth of the gospel and for the principles of the gospel revealed to his Latter-day
Prophets. I am truly thankful that I live in this
dispensation of the world, when the Lord has seen fit to restore the principles of everlasting salvation to the
children of men, and that I had the privilege to hear and the heart to obey. I have a name and place with his
people, and I humbly ask the Lord to help me to so live that I may always have His spirit to guide me to the truth.
Through the favor and grace of the Lord I have been blessed with a large family, in which I have always taken
a just pride. My first child, a boy, George, lived but two weeks. Our next child, a girl, Mary Ann, named after
my first wife, Mary Ann Levi, was born on the 7th of December 1855, and lived for nearly twelve years. On the
17th day of December, 1857, my wife presented me with another boy, Isaac J. Riddle. The next, a boy, J.M. Riddle
was born July 11, 1859. Madora, a girl, was born January 2, 1861; followed by Laura, born on the 28th of
December, 1863. These two last named girls died in the fall of 1867.
[Mary Ann Levi Riddle, Isaac’s first wife, was living with their five children in Beaver in the fall of 1867
when the three little girls died in a diphtheria epidemic. Mary Ann had been a semi-invalid since the birth
of the youngest daughter. She never fully recovered for the loss of her three little girls, and died in 1872
at the age of 38.]
I married for my second wife, Mrs. Mary James, a young widow, who had two children that I raised and schooled
as I did all my own children. [Mrs. Mary Rowland James was born on July 14, 1838, and was married to Isaac on
August 17, 1861.] My second wife bore me five children, Franzina, Thomas James, Minerva, Effie May, and William
Adelbert. The two children that belonged to my second wife before I married her, were named May A. James and
Elizabeth M. James. Franzina, our oldest girl was born May 18, 1862; Thomas James, April 2, 1866; Minerva,
January 14, 1869; Effie May, March 17, 1872; William Adelbert, April 5, 1874. The last two died at the ages
of 18 months and one month respectively.
I married Mary Ann Eagles, third wife, on the 29th day of August, 1863. [Mary Ann was born on November 5, 1845
in Nauvoo.] She bore me seven children: Lydia Ann, born September 15, 1866; who married Andrew N. Holdaway
when she was eighteen. Safrona was born February 15, 1868. She died May 5, 1877. Lillie Cornelia was born
February 19, 1871; Wallace M., born December 24, 1872; Charles E. born February 23, 1874; John E., born February
25, 1876, and Isaac A. born April 10, 1879 and died when eight years old.
After my return from California I was very busy with my farm work, lumbering, and missionary work with the
Indians. The last took a great deal of my time, in fact most of it, yet I was able to carry on my personal
affairs in a very successful way. I had several minor affairs with the Indians, in which I thought more
than once that I would have to kill in order to save myself. But fortunately I managed each time to escape,
either through my quickness and bravery, or through tact, for I could speak well the Indian language and
understood by that time the ways of the Indians.
In the fall of 1862 I made another trip across the Colorado, and this time reached in safety the villages
of the Moquich Indians. These Indians have always been of a peaceful, industrious
nature, unlike the Navajos and Apaches. They build houses in villages, and live together, raise crops and
so forth. Their houses are built on a square fort plan one story above another, and the entrance is at the
top, one going from the top story to the bottom. They received my comrade and myself in a very friendly term.
Before I again visited this people a heavy famine came to them and they lost about 300. It was in the fall
of 1864 that Jacob Hamblin and myself and six others undertook to perform a mission to them to preach to them
and instruct them in the principles of the gospel. We crossed the Colorado River on a raft at the point where
Lee's Ferry was later constructed and struck across the country on the old Ute trail. It was on this trip
that we had another evidence that God was with us. It had been a dry season, and we passed first one empty
water hole and then another until it looked as if there was no water in the country at all. But we kept on
in hope that when the big rock water tank, which we knew of through our previous visit when young George
Smith was killed which was in the country of Spanashank should be reached, that we would have plenty of
water. But when we came up to it we found that it, too, was empty. And we were in sore straits, for we
were greatly in need of water. We now knew that there was none on this trail for a distance of fifty miles.
Then Hamblin asked me if I thought I could find the spring where old Spanashank was camped the first time
we met him. I was not sure, but I said I would try, and leaving the company I climbed up a high, steep
mountain which the trail skirted, telling the boys to go on and I would, from there, get our course and meet
them on the other side. It was difficult climbing but by dint and much hard work, crawling part of the time
on my hands and knees, I reached the summit. Then when I looked over, lo! There before me, almost within
arm?s reach, lay a clear pool of rain water. I took a drink of it, and a little further on discovered two
large pools, sufficient for the whole company and all of our horses. The ascent from the other side was easy,
and we found that we could lead the horses up to the larger pool. When we had drunk our fill and attended to
our horses, we knelt down and returned thanks to God for our deliverance.
Our journey from that point to the villages of the Moquich Indians was made in safety and comfort, thanks
to the beneficence of god. Once at our journey?s end we established ourselves with them for the winter and
did our best to help them in many ways, and to preach to them and instruct them in the teaching of the
On our return in the month of March we had an experience that impressed me very much. while crossing the
desert from the Moquich villages we anticipated that when we reached the rocks containing the pools of water
where we had been succored a short time before, we would again find water. What was our surprise and horror,
therefore, to discover on reaching them that there was not a drop of water in any of them. Having crossed
a fifty-mile desert, we were in sore need of water for both ourselves and for our animals; as we had another
fifty miles of desert to travel before reaching the Colorado River, it was most necessary that we have water.
We separated and went in different directions. I climbed to the top of the mountain near the place where
I had previously discovered the pools. Nothing was to be found there. But there was a good view of the
surrounding country, and for some time I sat and looked about me.
While I sat there the realization of the seriousness of our position came to me, and I knelt down on the
bare rock and prayed. I told the Lord of our situation; that we had been called on that trip by those who
had been appointed to lead His people; that we were there to try to do good and for the advancement of his
work, and that in the performance of our duty we had been sent into a desert country where there was neither
water nor food. I placed myself in His hands and humbly implored His aid.
My prayer was answered; for no sooner had I arisen from my knees that I beheld in the northwest a tiny
cloud, and while I watched it, it grew from a speck to a cumulus cloud, and I could see that it was moving
in our direction. So I descended from the mountain and called to the boys and showed them the approaching
cloud. Whereupon all were pleased and returned thanks to god. In a very short time the cloud was over us,
and it snowed, and the snow melted and filled the pools. It was a miracle!
The next day, having plenty of water, we rested and on the following day resumed our journey to the Colorado.
We found the raft on which we crossed, and once on the other side of the river, we took up the trail to the
Buckskin Mountains and the Pipe Springs. At one time on the journey we thought we were lost, but I was able
to come safely through, though three or four of the boys, thinking we were really lost, left us and got off
the trail, and reached the springs several days behind us.
There at Pipe Springs was located old-Doc Whitmore, with his sheep and cattle, who was killed several years
later by the Indians. Young MacIntyre was also killed there and on the ground where the Indians have killed
many white people I have often stood and contemplated my chances, and more than once thought that I stood on
the edge of things, but my protecting angel was always with me.
In the spring of 1864, I was released from my Indian mission by Apostle Erastus Snow. At this time I had
quite a family, three wives and eight children. I felt that it was now necessary to get together some of
the goods of this world in order to support them.
I moved in June to Pine Creek, eighteen miles north of Beaver City, close to the subsequent location of the
cove Creek Fort. There I ranched successfully for ten years. Then I went into the United Order and lost
about $6,000.00. Later, when the United Order became insolvent, I was chosen to take charge of the stock
and turn the company into a Co-operative Company. This I did, and those who had credit in the order got
stock in the Co-op. I was superintendent for two years and had charge of the herds for ten years. The business
was fairly conducted and was successful.
This business occupied me for some twelve years, when I went to the junction of the east and west forks of
the Sevier River and there built a grist mill which, in connection with an adjoining farm, I ran for several
[In Grass Valley 1873-1976 A History of Antimony and her People, Lane Warner notes: In search for places to
run the co-op cattle, Isaac came into John’s Valley in May 21, 1875. He and five other men – his son Isaac
J., John Hunt, Joseph Hunt, Gideon Murdock and Walter
Hyatt, took eighteen head of cattle and thirty head of horses to make the first settlement in
John’s Valley. After building homes, bunk houses for hired help and corrals, Isaac and others
brought about three thousand head of cattle and two hundred fifty head of horses from Beaver
where they were held as a corporation under the United Order there. In time, as the co-op broke
up, Isaac had acquired over one thousand acres of land on which he not only raised horses and
beef cattle but dairy cattle. It was to Isaac Riddle’s ranch in 1879 that the Hole-in-the-Rock
pioneers camped and refreshed themselves a couple of days before making the almost impossible
journey across the Colorado River and over some rugged country to settle Bluff.
Not only did he settle in John’s Valley, but the monument in Antimony indicates that he was the first LDS settler
in Grass Valley. His ranch was located about two miles south of the present town site on Coyote Creek. Isaac
did not always remain in Grass Valley, but continued to expand establishing sawmills and grist mills as far away
as Loa, Escalante, Knosh, Elsinore and Springville.
His grandson T. Lester Riddle recalls: “It was while George Black was on his mission to England that he wrote
home telling how he needed money to buy clothes since his suit had patches on it and was thin. He indicated
that he needed $20.00. He wife, Clarinda did not have the money, but felt she could borrow some from Charles
E. Rowan. While walking toward Mr. Rowan’s home, Isaac came by in a buck board pulled by mules. He stopped,
reached into his vest pocket and without a word being exchanged between them, handed her $20.00 saying, “Here
Clarinda, your husband needs this.”
Riddle donated several hundred head of steers and had them driven to Manti to be used for food for the men
building the temple. When additional funds were needed to complete the Salt Lake Temple, a special meeting
was held for priesthood holders. Brigham Young suggested that Isaac, who was not present, could be counted on
to donate $1,000. The next day Apostle Lyman received a letter from Isaac pledging $1,000.00 to assist in
completing that temple.]
Item 21 in his will bequeathed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints the sum of $500 to
be placed in trust for the purpose of assisting the church in building a temple in Jackson County,
Riddle continues, “ I was called to join a party on its way to Arizona for the purpose of exploring the country.
We had a very hard trip, and to make it worse, I was ill most of the time. But with the help of God we got
through alright and did the work which we were sent to perform.
On our return I went to St. George and there helped build the St. George Temple. When the Temple was finished
and dedicated I was informed by the clerks that no man in the church had a larger donation therein to his credit
than I. I was not expecting anything of the kind, but when the word came to me I would proud.
The Manti Temple was erected at a cost of four hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and in that building I think
there are but two men who have larger donations than I. I think I have
nearly a four thousand dollar donation in the Manti Temple. In all, I believe I have spent in Temple building
and Temple work about fifteen thousand dollars.
My fourth wife was Mary Caroline Turnbaugh Langford. She left her first husband in 1879, because he had taken
to heavy drinking and would not live the life of a saint. [They were married on November 9, 1886, but were
later divorced. There had no children.]
In the year 1887, after several years in the sheep and lumber business, during which time I lost much money
in both lumber and sheep through the manipulations of dishonest parties, I moved my family to Manti. There,
for about ten years, myself and family were engaged in Temple work for the dead. We did the work for some
nine thousand of our Riddle ancestors, whose names I had obtained from the Riddle genealogy, running back
in the past for a period of ten hundred and twenty-seven years. In this work I was greatly blessed and had
many strong manifestations of the goodness in which I was engaged. Money could not buy from me the pleasure
this work gave. The great joy which my family and myself had in it is better felt than told.
During the time of my Manti Temple work, I bought a little home in Provo in order to have my boys and girls
near the Brigham Young Academy. It has always been one of the greatest desires of my life to see my boys and
girls well educated. There is nothing I would not sacrifice for them, for I love them. I also joined the
company which built the Springville Roller Mills, later buying the other members of the company out and running
it myself. I have built a little home in the Third Ward at Provo, and there I intend to spend the remainder of
Isaac completed his autobiography in 1898. He died on Sept 1, 1906. Riddle suffered from rheumatism and
paralysis and spent the last five years of his life as an invalid cared for by his daughters, Lillie Holdaway
and Franszina Stephens. He passed away on September 1, 1906 at the age of seventy-six leaving 12 children
including Mary James’ two daughters. He is listed in Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah as “Missionary to
Georgia, bishop’s counselor, missionary among the Indians for ten years, miller and stock raiser.”