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Gilberth Haws

Question: What part did Gilberth Haws and his family have in the settlement of Provo, Utah?

Answer: Gilberth Haws was born 10 March 1801 in Logan, Butler County, Kentucky, the eighth child of Jacob Haws and Hannah Neil. He was of pioneer stock, his ancestors being among the early settlers of Augusta County, Virginia and Towan County, North Carolina. Jacob Haws, with his wife and two small sons, left Burke County, North Carolina, before 1800 to make a home in Kentucky. They traveled by horseback with all their belongings going by way of the Wilderness Road, through the Cumberland Gap into Tennessee, entering Kentucky by the way of Nashville.

Gilberth Haws and Hannah Whitcomb were married on June 2, 1822. They lived on a farm in the northwestern part of Wayne County, Illinois, where they raised sheep and some cattle. They had thirteen children while living on their farm; six girls and seven boys. Hannah Whitcomb was born 17 April, 1806 in Cazonovia, Madison County, New York, daughter of Oliver and Olive Bidlack Whitcomb. Her family also were early pioneers of Illinois and here the Haws and Whitcomb families met. Two Haws brothers married two Whitcomb sisters: Benjamin Haws married Polly Whitcomb and Gilberth Haws married Hannah Whitcomb.

In the year 1842, Gilberth Haws and Hannah Whitcomb Haws were baptized members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by Jefferson Hunt, in Wagneco, Illinois. They were never attached to any religious sect until they joined the Church. Quoting from Lucinda Haws Holdaway’s (their daughter) history, she wrote, “In 1845, Elders came to tell us that the Saints were being mobbed and driven from their homes and that we had better prepare to go West with the company. We remained in Wayne County until May 1847, when my father and family prepared to go West. We went as far as Iowa and stopped at a little place called Mount Pisgah for the winter. We remained there until the spring of 1848, then started for Winter Quarters so that we might be ready to go West with the first company.”

During the month of May 1848, preparations were made for the departure of the main body of the Saints on the Missouri River. President Young was General Superintendent of the companies and Gilberth and Hannah Haws were assigned to the 3rd Company under the supervision of Lorenzo Snow. Gilberth Haws had two wagons, one team of horses and five teams of oxen. Hannah drove the team of horses all the way across the Plains. The family consisted of father, mother, seven sons and six daughters. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 23, 1848.

They bought a small adobe house, twelve feet square with two small holes ten inches square for windows, where they stayed during the winter of 1848-49. In December 1848, three of their daughters were married to three Mormon Battalion men, who were making their return trip to the East from California, after their discharge. Lucinda married Shadrack Holdaway, Caroline married Walter Barney, and Eliza married George Pickup.

In the spring of 1849, Gilberth Haws and family, with Lucinda and her husband, were members of the first company who went to settle Provo, and helped to build the first fort. In June 1849, their daughter Matilda died and was buried in a little knoll near the river. Afterwards she was moved to the Provo Cemetery. The next important event was the birth of their eighth son, Gilberth Oliver, born October 8, 1849. He was the second white child born in Provo, the first being born to the wife of Edward Holden a few days prior to the birth of Hannah’s child.

Gilberth built a small log cabin which was later preserved in the Sons of the Utah Pioneers Park in Provo.

When they started to Provo to make their home in 1849, their daughter Lucinda and her husband traveled east to get machinery for a woolen mill. When they returned, they built their first mill, but on account of Indian troubles, moved into town in 1853 and built the mills there. At first he only made rolls and bats, but later made men’s wear, and also shawls and blankets. He also had a blacksmith shop and a shop to make chairs and other things.

Gilberth Haws and his wife, Hannah, with their fourteen sons and daughters, were active members in laying the foundation of Provo, sharing all the privations and hardships incident to pioneer life at that period in Utah. Father and sons cultivated the soil, made roads and ditches, brought timber from the mountain for fuel and building purposes and to make their crude implements for farming, and other necessary articles. They tanned hides, made shoes for the family and labored under the greatest difficulties with the implements in use at that time.

The sons were engaged in all the Indian wars and guard duty in the early days. Mother and daughters bore their share also, converting the raw material into food and clothing, cooking by a fireplace, and sometimes grinding grains on a coffee mill to make bread; spinning, weaving, knitting, and sewing by hand for the family; and gathering herbs, barks, brush and leaves for coloring yarns and cloth; doing their washing on a wooden board and making soap from wood ashes and grease scraps.

Gilberth Haws died on 3 March 1877 and his beloved wife, Hannah, passed away on 21 August 1880. They are both buried in the Provo City Cemetery in Provo, Utah.

Source: Story found in “Lovin” Memories,” a compilation of histories and pictures from the Haws and Wiltbank family lines. It was put together by Carol Bloomfield in 2010;

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