Land distribution in Salt Lake City in 1847 and 1848 was by apportioning, by lottery, city lots to applicants with permission for building. A city lot could be bought for $1.50, with $1.00 of that going to the surveyor and the remaining 50 cents to the clerk for recording. Each allocation and subsequent deeds and transfers were written by hand on pieces of paper, two by three inches.
An exhaustive search of the Salt Lake County land records finally disclosed a reference to a document having been filed in the office of the Salt lake County Recorder showing William Douglass to be the “original occupant” of all of Lot 5, Block 13, Plat “B”, Salt Lake City Survey.
Agnes relates, “On the 6th of October there was a conference held in the camp where council was given that the brethren should organize into companies for the purpose of cutting hay, making adobies (sic), timber, etc. which was gathered together and was divided so that all had hay for their animals and shelter for themselves for the winter.” William went with the haying party.
Agnes continues, “In 1849, my husband mixed the mortar and layed (sic) the adobies (sic) to build our first house in the valley. I, waiting on him, carrying the adobies (sic) and mortar.”
Throughout the years, Agnes and William related to their offspring how in 1849, William mixed the mortar and laid the adobes with the mortar to build them a good, albeit humble home. Agnes assisted by mixing mud with her feet and carried the mortar and bricks. Their home still stands.
“That same year when our crops were coming up green, the crickets were so numerous that to all appearances, the crops would be destroyed by them when suddenly there came such numerous floods of seagulls and covered the lots like a heavy fall of snow and devoured the crickets, eating and vomiting until they had the crickets all destroyed and saved our crops.”
“In 1855 there was what is known as the grasshopper war when many suffered for want of food, but through the blessing of God myself and family were provided for and never suffered through want. During the scarcity of food there was a honey dew (sic) accumulated on the trees, which lasted for a number of weeks. The people gathered and made it into cakes like maple sugar and payed (sic) a tithing of it the same as any other product.”
“We lived in Salt Lake City in peace, with the exception of the Indians who were troublesome at times, until 1858 when James Buchanan, being then President of the United States, sent an army, the flower of the government, out to thwart the purposes and work of the Almighty God. We then vacated our homes and were ready to put the torch to them if necessary, but what was meant for our destruction by the government, God turned for the good of His people. The inhabitants of the Salt Lake City and northward moved south and the Army marched through the city and to the southwest where they settled a fort known as Camp Floyd, which gave employment to many of our brethren.”
“In 1858 and 1859 we raised good crops and supplied the army with grains, vegetables, etc. and thereby procured everything that the people needed to make them comfortable.”
“The army remained at camp Floyd until the Civil War between the north and south in 1862 (sic) when it was called back, leaving the Saints in comfortable circumstances through the blessing of God.”
During the ten years that William and Agnes lived in the First Ward of The Great Salt Lake City, as it was then called, five more children were born, namely Samuel, Matilda, Eliza R., Joseph Smith and Mary Elizabeth. All five were born in that first humble adobe.
It is noted that the sixth child born to Agnes, named Eliza R. Douglass, was born and died there on 23 July 1853. Margaret Sarah Douglass, firstborn of William and Agnes, died in Salt Lake City on 22 July 1854. While there are extant records of the cemeteries in Salt Lake City for that time, no record was made of their burials. Perhaps they were buried on family property instead of a cemetery, or records simply were not generated for all burials at that time. A search of the computerized burial records of extant records for the entire state, available online from the Utah State Historical Society, also failed reference them.
Salt Lake First Ward, originally called First Camp, was organized on 22 February 1849, with David Fairbanks as Bishop. It comprised the territory south of Sixth South to Thirteenth South and from Sixth East to the mouth of Emigration Canyon. The land east of Ninth East was open country with gullies, ravines, small streams and the habitat of plentiful wildlife.
Our Douglass’ had built an adobe home on southeast corner of Seventh South and Eighth East, directly across from the site of the original First Ward building still at that location. The address of the original adobe, still standing, was 729 South Eighth East. The Presiding Bishop, who controlled all property at that time, assigned that particular parcel of land to William for a home site.
William and Agnes Douglass were active participants in the settlement and development of the First Ward and Salt Lake City. They also mingled with the early Church leaders and the pioneer Saints.
Orson F. Whitney reports, “He (William Douglass) assisted in making canals, irrigating ditches and other public improvements, and aided with his means during the early troubles with the Indians”
They saw many of the early improvements in the Great Salt Lake Valley including a gristmill and a sawmill built during 1848 and 1849. Brigham Young supervised the construction of an apartment building at the corner of Sixth East and Sixth South. It was built to accommodate the workers of the mills. Alexander Brim built a tannery, on Seventh South between Eighth and Ninth East. A brother Moon built a multi-story apartment building for his wives on Seventh South and Eighth East. On the opposite corner he built a blacksmith shop. William Henry Warburton established his blacksmith shop on Seventh East between Sixth and Seventh South. Because a grocery store was needed nearer than the ones downtown on Main Street, Joseph Warburton built a small frame building on the corner of Seventh East and Seventh South and began a grocery that served the locals for many years before it was replaced by a brick store.
Other early improvements include the first drug store on the corner of Seventh South and Seventh East that was built and operated by Doctor John Milleron. Carpenters were in great demand because houses and buildings were needed for the many new residents and their animals. Brother Wardle, a contractor and builder, established a carpenter shop on Eighth East between Sixth and Seventh South.
The first school in the Ward was held in the home of Sarah J. Bement at 629 East Eighth South. The house was a story and a half structure with meager furnishings and was not equipped with blackboards, comfortable desks or efficient lighting. Textbooks were limited and conditions were generally primitive.
It was while living in the First Ward that Agnes joined the Relief Society. In her words, “I commenced my labors in the Relief Society while I lived in Salt Lake City and have been associated with it since 1854 an have taken an active part in doing good to my fellow beings and organizing societies of improvement.”
During the “Great Move of 1858”, William was asked by Brigham Young to take his family and colonize in Payson, Utah. Obediently, William and Agnes relinquished their property and the home they had built when they entered the Great Salt Lake Valley back to the Presiding Bishop and it was exchanged for property in Payson that subsequently became the site of Douglass home and businesses.
|FIRST DOUGLASS STORE WAS IN PART OF THEIR HOME|
The Douglass’ built a substantial home in Payson on the southwest corner of today’s 100 North and Main Street. Their long adobe home had a gabled room on the east and it became the first Douglass store. It stocked everything from oats to ladies bonnets that were millinered by Agnes. Agnes operated the first millinery in Payson. Originally she used one room in her home.
According to Orson F. Whitney, “During the Blackhawk War William Douglass acted as commissary for the militia and aided materially the companies sent from Payson to protect the inhabitants of the Indian-raided districts.”
According to Orson F. Whitney, “During the Blackhawk War William Douglass acted as commissary for the militia and aided materially the companies sent from Payson to protect the inhabitants of the Indian-raided districts.”
William’s expertise as a tailor, small business owner in Scotland and St. Louis, coupled with his faithful service and obedience in Salt Lake City likely contributed to his call to serve as superintendent. This mercantile was an extremely successful venture under his leadership, to the benefit of the stockholders and himself. William always kept the financial books for his businesses and the cooperative.
One account is given of William’s merchant trips to Salt Lake City for stock. “Each trip involved a certain amount of risk as he usually carried several months worth of cash on his person. The country was sparsely settled and the trail by buckboard or ox-team was a long lonesome one, taking usually two to four days. On these occasions William carried a bamboo cane. Its handle was attached to a stiletto that was cleverly concealed inside the hollow stick. He was never called upon to use it, but there is little doubt that he could have ably defended himself.”
Marie Douglass Stevenson Stewart, great-granddaughter of William and Agnes Douglass and longtime resident of payson, further describes security at the Douglass Mercantile, “The accumulation of cash that piled up between journeys was another problem. Then as now, there were those who watched and waited for the opportune time to rob a store. A great deal of ingenuity was demanded of the merchant to protect himself. The day’s receipts were hidden in the bottom of a bean barrel, the toe of a boot, or any other place the storekeeper felt a thief would not be likely to look. Though William went to great lengths, even to putting bars on the windows, his store was broken into several times. To prevent robbers from damaging his new safe, where he kept only important papers, he hung a sign on the door: ‘This safe is unlocked’. One time he was awakened by noises and caught two thieves in the middle of ransacking his store. He thought he had taken them by surprise, but instead they surprised him by making their getaway through a large hole in the wall that must have taken many nights to chisel out. The snow that had counted on to cover their footprints had stopped falling and they were easily tracked to a straw stack where the loot was recovered.”
William built a fine commodious store across the street north from his original store, which was then one of the best in Utah County. The new store building was of frame construction with a high front. Above the main outside entrance was the inscription, “IN HOLINESS TO THE LORD” arched above the All-seeing Eye of Jehovah. The same symbol was above the entrance of each of the stores he had operated. Brigham Young had directed that these signs should be erected for the purpose of indicating to members of the church that in patronizing the store that displayed the sign, they were patronizing member of their own faith, a significant factor for church unity. President Young believed that the cooperative movement would it make possible to bring goods to Utah and sell them at low enough prices so all could afford to buy. The profits would go to the Mormon themselves.
In 1880 or 1881, William retired from the cooperative and established a general mercantile business, named Douglass And Sons, with his oldest son William John Douglass. Other sons joined them in the venture for a while before venturing out in other independent businesses.
William gave Agnes use of the original home store where she sold bonnets, many of her own making. She was the first milliner in Payson. A few years after William built his new mercantile store, he had built two more two-story buildings, namely the Douglass Hardware Building across the street east and adjacent to the Huish Furniture Building. He later helped Samuel Douglass build a new building on the northwest corner of today’s Main Street and Utah Avenue.,,This building one block south and located on the site of the William Douglass barn and stable..
William John remained in business with his father until William’s death in 1892. Afterwards William John Douglass operated the store independently until his own death in Payson on November 25, 1905. William was very cautious and prudent and manifested remarkable enterprise in his own business methods. He also taught his sons and daughters well and they too succeeded in business. The Douglass and Sons store thrived until the 1940’s.
Effie Townsend gives great detail about the Douglass and Sons Mercantile, other business matters involving William Douglass and the Douglass family home:
“Grandfather William Douglass became, from the small beginnings of a single large wooded dry-goods-box from St. Louis containing clothing and piece goods, one of Payson’s leading merchants. He had a keen sense of values, instinctively knew how to buy, how to gain the people’s confidence in selling and was a natural leader both in his family and with the public. Also, he kept his own books and always knew his own financial condition. All these qualities, coupled with the helpful frugality of his wife, made for success. His business was styled William Douglass and Sons. Naturally the whole family worked in the store, taking care of the stock and ‘clerking’ as they called it in those days. The final large two story building that William erected for his retail business, was on the corner, N.W. opposite the old home on Payson Main Street. A number of smaller frame buildings were attached on the west side of the brick building and still farther back was a large shed covering all kinds of farm implements. About one fourth of the city block was thus occupied. North of the building and between it and the old Fairbanks residence was a large adobe “Hall”. This hall, William Douglass rented for storage of grain. The merchandise in the largest building consisted of dry goods, groceries, dishes, cooking utensils, clothing. The men’s and women’s clothing were kept upstairs. The clothing was neatly folded on long tables and covered with large white covers, while not being shown to customers.
I must describe the stairway. It ran up in the back from the center of the store in a short mezzanine landing and then from both sides were shorter stairways leading to the second floor. To me as a child, this stairway was an ornate thing of beauty, constructed as it was of fine mahogany, the supporting spindles being beautifully carved, and the steps carpeted. It seemed like the vista leading to a grand hotel ballroom. This showed Grandfather’s excellent taste for fine things.
At the rear of the store was a small office with a desk. Here Grandfather kept his ledgers and worked part of the day “keeping books” A small window or opening near his desk gave merchant Douglass a good view of what was going on in the store. I almost forgot to tell about the wonderfully privileged large gray cat that sat on the desk or in the window. He was one of our Grandfather’s pets. The other was a canary which sang its head off almost, when Grandfather used a little wooden gadget which he kept in his pocket. When this was turned the right way between thumb and forefinger, it made a few notes like a canary singing.
No effort was ever made to make window displays. Outside the two front windows of the main store, such implements as ****, shovels, rakes, etc. were on display, and also (what an item for collectors) were all sizes of heavy brass kettles, gleaming in the sunlight or catching the rain. Above the shelving about the middle of the west wall of the main storeroom, hung a very beautifully embossed framed motto which declared William Douglass’ characteristic attitude in his dealings with his fellow townsmen and showed his real moral fiber. It read, “Do Right and Fear Not”. The frame was oval and black, ornamented with a carved design. The lettering stood out boldly in beautiful old English. The “Do Right” was a vivid blue, and the “Fear Not” was a rich dark red, all lettering being accented with gold trading. This really fascinated me and were I now its possessor I would feel I had a real heirloom.”
The home of William and Agnes Douglass was on the lot which later came into possession of Mary Elizabeth Douglas Lemmon, daughter of William Douglass, who married Hyrum Lemmon. The Lemmons built a nice brick house on the lot and this it was in 1961, the home of Elizabeth Dixon McClellan, Granddaughter of William and Agnes.
The old home, as we always thought of it, and later acquired, occupied the east half on one whole block, bordered on the East by Main St., on the North by First North, South by what was styled Depot St. The main adobe building of this home was once the store building and stood square with the N. E. corner of the city lot. The real home with its long front porch facing North and sloping roof to the South was added to the old store building, and was quite pretentious for those times. In the front part of the house, and next to the store building, was the master bedroom. Next to this going westward was a small family sitting room and library. In one corner of this was a boxed-in stair leading to three bedrooms above. Next to the sitting room West was the beautifully furnished old parlor only used (as was customary) for real state occasions. This I must describe to you more fully. Jane Elizabeth Dixon, who with her mother, Aunt Matilda, lived at the home and I had many a surreptitious peeps into this parlor. This room was beautiful and ornately furnished. To me as a child it could have been the abode of a real fairy princess. The walls of the parlor were white, the floor was carpeted with a rich (probably axminister) soft textured all over seamed floor rug in large flowered design, mostly in shades of rose. At the far west end of the room was a fireplace with black marble mantle above which was an exquisitely carved gold-framed mirror reaching from ceiling to floor, slightly tilted forward. This also was framed in carved gold. The beautiful white lace curtains at the windows were draped to either side of same, resting on ornate carved arms, terminating and exposed to the front with a single large gold leaf. A large square grand piano, ebony, with plush covered round adjustable stool was part the furnishing in this room, an elaborately carved, walnut table took one wall space, on which was placed the usual glass globe of wax flowers. The chairs were also of dark wood, with carved Queen Ann legs, round seats and oval backs and were upholstered in beautiful blended flower design. The parlor was not on the same level as the sitting room, one had to step up one or two steps, have forgotten how many. Near this door in a little niche was a Cucoo Clock which was a never ending wonder to all the Grandchildren.
Grandmother Agnes seemed to be always sitting in a rocker near the front window of the sitting room reading or doing some kind of hand sewing. She wore gold-rimmed glasses. When one entered the room and was in her presence she seemed to be looking through one as it were. I always seemed to have a guilt complex in her presence, not that she was not tolerant and forgiving but she expected every member of the family to live strictly all the laws of the gospel. Aunt Matilda’s domain seemed the low long kitchen, and the pantry on the south of the sitting room under the sloping roof. She was a wonderful person and took very good care of Grandmother. She was an excellent cook. The kitchen floor was covered with a rag carpet, a huge and old fashioned wood and coal stove (huge) with a high warming oven and water reservoir at one end which needed filling each day to insure plenty of hot water. When a meal was served in summer time (using the East end of the kitchen), on a large drop leaf table, a large rotating fan, with two large black wings looking like a bird of prey, was placed in center of the table wound with a huge key and then it began to rotate. This was not for cooling the atmosphere but to keep the flies away from the food. They also had wire covers for most platters, a modernized version which can be had to this day.
My memory of the large pantry with its huge wooden door cupboard seems to be centered on two things, first the strings of spiked and threaded hunks of bread hanging in festoons at all angles from convenient anchorage and secondly of the large table covered with hundreds of creamy fat silk worms feeding on mulberry leaves. One might have called these unusual projects “Grandmother’s Hobbies”. Nothing was ever wasted in this house. The bread was dried and saved in case of famine. Later a separate adobe one room building was erected south of the kitchen and a meeting place for the Grandchildren when our mothers visited in the regular family quarters.
On a trip to Salt Lake City, Grandfather purchased one of those German music boxes with pin studded brass rollers over which perforated rolls of paper could be wound by inserting the groove and turning a handle. We had only three or four rolls which were played over and over again. Old Grimes as one and Auld Lang Syne was another. I can just see cousin Charlie Dixon now, grinding out these wonderful old tunes. He considered this his prerogative to put on the show and would not let any one of the cousins do the turning.
The little half-block of the old Douglass home, the barn, the orchard, the vegetable garden, and lastly the flower garden, seemed like a large country estate. Thus the things of our childhood memories assume such magnified proportions. In season we all ate our share of red June apples and the big sweets. We played croquette under their shade and did a little of magical childhood courting when we were privileged to bring home some of our friends. My husband, all through the years talked nostalgically about the red June apples and the vegetable garden. In a little corner West of the parlor had a row of sage, also some wormwood which I was forced to sample a lot. Next to the picket fence on the Main Street side were planted old fashioned pinks, peonies, pansies, and bleeding hearts. Children could stop and look through the white pickets and sometimes tried to reach a coveted flower. Grandmother’s favorite was the bleeding heart, because of its significance on the Douglass Coat of Arms.“
William was known as charitable, benevolent, straightforward and honorable in his dealings and “Do right and fear not” was his personal motto. He was of a jovial disposition and always enjoyed good clean wit.
While William operated the mercantiles and other business ventures, Agnes chose to devote countless hours researching and documenting both the Douglass and Cross genealogies. Agnes took the opportunity to return to the land of her birth in 1873 when she went to Great Britain, laboring for some time doing genealogical research. She also accompanied her son, Samuel, to the homes of their families still in Ireland and Scotland, and then home from his mission to Great Britain. They sailed home on the ship, the Nevada, with other Mormon travelers in July 1873. The Mormon Immigration Index – Personal Accounts, includes the following account:
“Departure of the Third Company. On Thursday morning last, at 10 o’clock, the fine steamship, Nevada, Captain Forsyth, left Liverpool, for New York, with 283 souls of the Saints on board. Of this number there were 150 from the Swiss and German Mission. With only a few exceptions all the Saints in this company are booked through to Utah. Elder Elijah A. Box is placed in charge of the company and is assisted by Elders George Crisman, D. Cazier and N. H. Clayton, all of whom are returning missionaries. Elder Henry J. Smith, who speaks German, will assist Elder Box, as far as Omaha, with the Swiss and German Saints. Elder Erastus Snow who has traveled during the last three months, through the Scandinavian Mission, instructing and comforting the Saints, also embarked on the Nevada n his return home. Sister Douglas (sic) and her son, Brother Samuel Douglas (sic), junior (sic), after spending several weeks among their relatives in Great Britain, also return home with this company. Our prayer is that these returning elders and Saints may be carried safely over the ocean and on the railroads, and that when they reach the land of Zion they may rejoice in the society of relations, friends and acquaintances.” .
In 1891, Agnes again accompanied a son on a mission to Great Britain. She and her youngest son, Joseph Smith Douglass, went to Ireland and Scotland where she again collected a large number of Douglass and Cross related names and data for temple work. Joseph was married and the father of four and one on the way when he was called on this mission.
Agnes engaged many of her immediate family in performing the sacred temple ordinances for these ancestors over the years. With great personal sacrifice she traveled to the Logan Temple to do this vicarious work. Her ‘Temple Record Book’ lists the names and dates in her own hand.
Marie Stewart also provides great insight to life in the William Douglass home. She declares, “The following years brought many luxuries. William was indeed Payson’s Magnificent Amberson. He and his wife were the natural host and hostess for the town’s visiting dignitaries. Their home, with its lush Georgian furniture, provided the proper setting for fine entertaining. Brigham Young, a close personal friend, was an overnight guest on many occasions.”
“William’s youngest daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was a bright eyed beauty, and had a wit with an edge on it like her father’s. She was the apple of his eye and very close to him, refusing to leave his store even after she married. Finally, her husband, Hyrum Lemmon, built a store of their own.
His other daughter, Mrs. Charles Dixon, and her three children made their home with her parents. She was widowed shortly before her little girl, Jane Elizabeth, was born. These little grandchildren added much life to the household, and made more mischief than William ever knew. He was in the habit of having a hard-boiled egg for breakfast. His little granddaughter Jane took a great interest in this egg for occasionally he didn’t eat it. Before the hired girl could clear the table, Jane would slip it into her pocket, and later in the day exchange it for candy at her grandfather’s store. Its sale never failed to bring back an enraged customer. No double William spent many hours pondering over who the culprit was who was selling him hard-boiled eggs.
Before the railroad came to Payson, William had a fine buggy sent out from St. Louis. He had to travel by horse to American Fork to get it. It was drawn by two fine Hamiltonians, the first of that breed in Payson. They were grained and groomed until their coats glistened in the sun. William and his wife indeed made a fine pair as they drove up in their new buggy each Sunday for church. So fine that a sermon was preached cautioning the congregation to refrain from trying to out-do their neighbor in their attire. William knew they were speaking directly to him. The next Sunday instead of dressing in his usual silk top hat and frock coat, he appeared in the old clothes that he wore to do his chores. His wife wept when she saw him and he reconsidered.
Young Bill Calkins did the driving and was a boy of fifteen when he went to work for the proud and peppery Scotchman. He was hired for fifty cents a day and on one occasion to pull the nails out of packing boxes and stack the boards neatly by the house. He finished the job in good time and was told to report for work the next morning. The next day his task was to move the boards back under the shed where the boxes had been originally. On the third day to his astonishment, he was told to bring them over by the house again. So this went on day after day, moving the boards back and forth from one place to the other. Finally, at the end of the week he was paid with a five dollar gold piece. “ I have no change sir,” stammered the youngster. “That’s your pay son,” William replied. Somewhat bewildered, Bill asked hesitantly, “What are the extra two dollars for?” “For doing your work and keeping your mouth shut,’ was the answer. Bill never forgot this incident and retold it many times.
William, no doubt believed that when a man earns what he has, he appreciates the value of a dollar. Once his son Samuel, after washing his hands at his father’s store, went to throw the water out the back door and accidently (sic) threw the china bowl with it. He knew his father well and hurriedly put the broken pieces in with the trash and replaced it with a new one exactly like it. But, William discovered the broken basin and bringing the pieces into the store where his sons were busily working said, “I don’t suppose anyone here knows anything about this?” There was no answer. As William returned the broken bowl to the trash, he said to his little grandson Samuel Jr., “A fool and his money are soon parted.”
A glimpse into William’s tender side comes from her story about his cat. William kept a cat in his store, across the street from his home, and every morning carried a saucer of milk across the dirt road to his dear pet.
We are extremely grateful to Marie for her generosity and sharing her memories and research with us since 1986. Her devotion to all generations of our Douglass family throughout time can never be repaid.
Diaries and journals of Payson residents provide us with little vignettes of life in the little town of Payson during the 1880’s. Despite all the early hardships of establishing homes and businesses, the Douglass’ and their neighbors enjoyed many celebrations and holidays. It is noted that the Douglass home was often used during such festivities.
“Tuesday May 5, 1883, the Sunday School held a grand festival in Dixon’s Grove to day (sic) and had a very orderly time under the comeets (sic-committees ?) there was swinging and running, and walking and wheel barrow running and quailing and picking up balls and cquoting (sic-croquet ?) and plenty of music from three bands and the select band took the best by all odds, then dancing in the Hancock Hall and on Douglass’ Cellar floor for the small children till six p.m. when the City Hall and the Hancock Halls were opened to the more stronger dancers and was kept up with great spirit and vigor till morning.”
“Wednesday July 4, 1883, grand celebration firing of cannon, flags flying, meeting house full and good time in general. Matinee in the Opera House for the children at 2 p.m. and at night a good play and a good house dance in the Huish Hall, rain in the afternoon, high wind and dust, the day past of well and no one hurt, plenty of ice cream to be had for the cash.”
“Tuesday July 24, 1883. Pioneers (sic) Day guns firing at day light, music by the bands, then more musket firing, the people all alive, the bell is now ringing for the gathering of the people 9 o’clock a.m. the grand procession marched though the principle streets of the city then to the meeting house when everything was represented that could be then dancing in the afternoon for little children and for the larger children in the evening, a grand performance in the evening.”
“May Day, 4 July and 24 July were all commenced by firing of guns and serenading by the bands, going to the home of prominent people and playing a tune, then a parade down Main Street. On May Day there was always a May Queen with her maids, the queen was crowned after the program then the maids danced around the May Pole.”
“The program sometimes was given in the Tabernacle and sometimes in Dixon’s Grove. The Declaration of Independence was always read by someone, songs were sung and a stump speech given. In the afternoon there were many kinds of races for children and a dance, in the evening there were dramas presented and a dance. Lemonade, candy and ice cream were sold. The ice cream was made in a large bucket, the bucket was placed in a tub of ice, some of the strong boys would turn the bucket back and forth by the handle, the lid was taken off now and then so the cream could be thoroughly stirred, then turned in the ice again until the cream was frozen. Those helping to freeze the cream was (sic) given a free dish of ice cream. A great day could be enjoyed for twenty-five cents.”
Agnes, who had joined the Relief Society organization in Salt Lake City, continued her service in the Relief Society in Payson and remained active as a leader until her death. The Relief Society was organized in Payson on May 7, 1868, and its members were given the task of helping the poor and aiding the distressed. Agnes was called as First Counselor of the Payson Ward Relief Society to President Betsy Jane Simons. She served in this capacity for twenty-four years. The Relief Society had been organized in Payson twelve years earlier, but when the president, Rachel Drollinger, left for the Muddy Mission the unit became inactive. Agnes took lifelong pride in the service she rendered the Relief Society and her community.
Agnes obviously was an important woman’s leader in the state of Utah. She was one of the thousands of female church members who battled for rights. On 6 March 1886, a mass of representative Mormon women from various parts of Utah convened at the old Salt Lake Theater to protest against their impending disfranchisement through the Edmunds Bill and against what they believed to be mistreatment by federal officers and courts. Their vitalized speeches led to the framing of a memorial by a committee of twelve chosen from their number. Agnes Douglass of Payson was honored to be chosen one of the twelve, and her name is penned on the original document delivered to Washington D.C. While their efforts did not change the law, they powerfully registered their resistance to the persecution of polygamists, the loss of the right to vote by any “suspected” as being a polygamist, and the general loss of civil rights to a large number of Utah residents.
There were many newspaper reports of these twelve women, and those they represented, and their valiant endeavors during that time. Later, in a historical report of representative women of Utah, the picture of Agnes and two of the other women who signed the petition appeared with an lengthy article on page 6 in the Daily Herald on Monday, July 15, 1963.
He died in Payson, Utah on August 19, 1892. His death was a result of compassionate service rendered when he and his sons labored throughout the night attempting to put out a fire at a neighboring business. That property was a total loss and William’s lungs were damaged. He never totally regained his health. William was buried in the Payson City Cemetery two days later, the funeral having been conducted from his home, which was the custom of the day.
We find it interesting that William Douglass did not bequeath anything specifically to his wife by will or deed. He undoubtedly trusted implacably in his sons to share with their mother from all the substantial assets they inherited at his death. His faith in his sons was well placed. For fourteen years Agnes wanted for nothing. She “shopped” at the Douglass and Sons Mercantile, then managed by William John Douglass, taking anything she needed without paying. She likewise did the same at her other son’s and son-in-law’s place of business. Surviving her husband by fourteen years, Agnes Cross Douglass died in Payson on September 5, 1906. Her death was caused by bronchitis, which she had battled for eleven days. She was eighty-eight (actually ninety) years, 4 months and twenty-nine days old at her death. Agnes was also buried in the Payson City Cemetery on September 7, 1906.