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Thomas Poulson Cloward

Question: Why is Thomas Cloward credited with having made the first pair of shoes in the Salt Lake Valley?

Answer: “I , Thomas Poulson Cloward, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania on December 10,1823 to Jacob Cloward and Catherine Ann Pluck. I lived with my parents until I was about 18 years of age. I was then bound and apprenticed of the shoemaking trade. I remained with my master for four years. [Thomas was apprenticed to Mr. Poulson, a shoemaker. Thomas remained with him until the spring of 1844, and it was at this time that he added Poulson to his name.]

“I remained there until the spring of 1844. I was then baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by William A Moor. I immigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois, the same year and received an ordination as an elder in the church. I was ordained by Brother Baker in the year 1846 when the great move was from Illinois.

Thomas and Mary Cloward

“I crossed the Mississippi and after I traveled the distance of 200 miles, I landed on the west side of the Missouri River. By this time the emigration from Nauvoo had arrived. I assisted in building up a settlement there for the winter. While there I became acquainted with a young lady by the name of Mary Page and was married to her on the 25 of March 1847.

“The same year there was a company organized, and I (age 24) was chosen one of a band of 143 to come west to the Rocky Mountains and find a resting place for the saints. We left in the sixth day of April, arriving in Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. There was no white people in the valley at that time. After the Indians heard that we were there, they came to visit us from all directions, seemingly to be well pleased…I was a shoe maker. I made the first pair of shoes that was made in the valley.’

After his arrival in the valley with the pioneer company, Thomas is credited with making the first pair of shoes in Salt Lake. The wife of Heber C. Kimball, Ellen Saunders Kimball, was badly in need of shoes after the long journey. Thomas took an old pair of boot tops, sat down on the ground where Z.C.M.I, now stands, and made her a pair of shoes, also a pair of moccasins from the scraps, for the little one she was expecting.

“In September of the same year I was called to return to Winter Quarters to assist the saints in their exodus west. In the spring of 1848, I crossed over to the east side. There I built a house and made a small improvement on government land…I remained at my home until the year 1852. I then fitted myself up with a yoke of oxen and yoke of cows and a wagon. I then joined Captain David Woods’ Company of 58 wagons and again crossed the plains to the Salt Lake Valley.

“I left Salt Lake the same year and settled in Provo, and here I met and married Mary Amelia Gardner, daughter of Elias Gardner and Amy Prichard in the summer of 1853. We remained in Provo nine years, moving to Payson in 1862. I took an active part in the settlement of Utah, always responding to any call to any labor or in defense of the people against the attacks of Indians. I was called to go to Echo Canyon to take part in what is known as the Buchanan War.’

In Provo, Thomas set up a shoemaking establishment. According to a price list from one of the pioneer mercantile establishments in that city, a pair of Thomas Cloward’s ladies’ shoes sold for $7.50. A pair of high heeled shoes made by this artisan was to be highly prized; and “there was not a child in the settlement who wore neater footwear, or a young man at the dance who was more proud of his boots, than the boys whose father was Thomas P. Cloward. After the boys were married, he made shoes for their wives. Often the young boys’ boots were made of brown leather with bright red trim around the top.”

“My life since 1862 has been almost entirely spent in Payson where I raised a large family and assisted in the development of the City. I am the husband of two wife’s and the father of 19 children.’

When Thomas moved to Payson from Provo, he erected a cabin on the highway, east of town. Later he built a cabin further west and still later built a fine brick home. When the Salem Canal was started he left his shoemaker bench and took an active part in its building.

Thomas lived to be 85 years of age, and died on January 16, 1909 in Payson, Utah. He is buried in the Payson City Cemetery.

Source: “Thomas Poulson Cloward, Pioneer of 1847,’ Payson City, (January 17, 1894, found in an old truck in Payson),; “Thomas Poulson Cloward, Shoemaker,’ Author: Pearl Cloward Transcription: Marian Bird & Lori Weinstein;

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