Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy 176th Birthday, Schuyler Everett (1835-1924)!

Gawain's great-grandfather

Schuyler was a rescuer of the Martin-Willie Handcart company, and has a quintessential pioneer story.
Schuyler’s first name comes from the surname of his Dutch ancestry, and his middle name Alanson is sometimes given erroneously as Addison.  He wrote a letter explaining that he had originally been named Alanson Schuyler, but had always been called Schuyler since coming to Utah.  His mother died when he was an infant, so his grandmother took care of Schuyler and his sister Adelaide for four years until his father remarried a schoolteacher.  When his father joined the Church, the family left New York City and en route young Schuyler was nearly killed by being knocked off a boat in Cincinnati on its way to Nauvoo—he hung over the side of the boat held only by a box on his foot until rescued. 

Schuyler was baptized in the Mississippi River, and would carry dinner to his father working on the Nauvoo Temple, and watch the men at work.  He and Adelaide frequently paid Lucy Smith a dime to see the Egyptian mummies, and Schuyler often saw Joseph Smith ride a beautiful white horse.  One time Schuyler and Adelaide tried to pet a little calf, but Adelaide became frightened and would run away.  Finally Schuyler lost his temper and cried, “You little fool, why don’t you head it?”  Joseph Smith happened to be riding by, he got off his horse, tied up the calf, patted Adelaide on the head and remarked, “You’re not a little fool, are you, Sis?”  Joseph never looked at Schuyler during the rebuke, and this was a lesson he never forgot.  He would often tell this story later to his children and grandchildren with tears in his eyes.

Schuyler saw the Prophet Joseph speak to the Pottawattamie Indians and then saw them dance for him.  He belonged to a company of boys in Nauvoo under Captain Bailey, and did military drills with wooden guns wearing a uniform of white pants, checkered vest, and three-cornered hat.  Joseph Smith III was the first lieutenant. 

When his father Addison helped destroy the Nauvoo Expositor printing press, Schuyler watched and filled his pocket with type.  Schuyler saw Joseph Smith speak as he left for Carthage, and saw the martyrs’ bodies. His father took the family to visit Carthage Jail, and had them look out of the window where Joseph Smith was killed.

The family was one of the last to leave Nauvoo as Addison was finishing the temple, and they lived in a dugout in Winter Quarters.  His father was called to go west and leave his family behind, but one night the children found a yoke of oxen standing at the wagon tongue, and their stepmother took this as a sign to go west immediately. Schuyler was sent to Missouri to get supplies and oxen from his uncle.  He was twelve years old crossing the plains, and took his turn with camp and guard duties.  The family’s only cow got mixed up with a herd of buffalo as they stampeded, and was never found.  At Sweetwater, only 175 miles from Salt Lake, they met a surprised and joyful Addison.  He was returning to find them, thinking his family was still back at Winter Quarters. 

In Utah, Schuyler saw the gulls destroy the crickets eating crops.  He was a member of Lot Smith’s Cavalry and before being sent out at age twenty-one to guard the mail line, Brigham Young requested that he go to the Endowment House because “I want to put a cloak of protection around you.” Since Pony Express riders had to weight less than 120 pounds, Schuyler was a slight man at this age.  While on his Pony Express duties, Schuyler had trouble.  First they encountered Johnston’s Army, where they were challenged, and had to pretend to sell their load of guns and ammunition at the store.  Then guards at Fort Laramie thought they were Indians and nearly shot them.  At Fort Kearney Schuyler became ill and stayed there until the Army passed. The soldiers took the mail away and the men were forced to leave their wagons behind, traveling through deep snow to escape the Army.  This adventure resulted in a five-month bout with rheumatism for Schuyler.

The next fall, Schuyler was one of the rescuers of the Martin-Willie handcart company.  Schuyler brought thirteen people back in his wagon, and one little boy died on the way in.  He was later called to settle some Indian disturbances by the Salmon River, and served as a coachman for Governor Cummings for a year and a half.  Schuyler also participated in a skirmish with the Morrisites (an apostate splinter group) and survived by hiding in a ditch and walking through a waist-deep swamp after nightfall.  All during his younger days he used tobacco, but courageously abandoned the habit in middle age, although a granddaughter recalled that it nearly cost him his life to do so.

Schuyler married Rachel in the Endowment House just months before they were called to settle the Dixie Mission, and it was said husband and wife always worked lovingly hand in hand.  In St. George, the family made their home in a wagon box for a year, where their first child was born, but by the next winter had a one-room house built and seven acres of grain planted.  One summer they lived the United Order and lost “practically all of their hard earnings” doing so.  Schuyler worked on the roads and dugways of Dixie, and was called out many times to guard against the Navajos stealing livestock.  Nevertheless, he was a friend to the Indians and in the later years many would visit him. 

“Uncle Skile and Aunt Rach” worked in the St. George Temple and were lovingly known to all the youth in town.   He passed away on their 63rd wedding anniversary.  Schuyler was remembered for his big heart, quiet unassuming disposition, and being a worker more than a preacher.  He was constant in his devotion and was a true neighbor who did many good turns and was never known to do anything to hurt another.  The St. George DUP Museum displays his china plate, his pioneer daybed, and the Everett family icebox.

Rachel & Schuyler Everett
I would give him some Nicorette to help him quit smoking!


  1. I'd give him a video camera so that he could record all of those historic events he witnessed.

  2. I stumbled on this looking for some information from my Grandfather Schuyler Everett. The Schuyler in this entry is also my 2nd Great Grandfather, his grandson Schuyler is my Grandfather and my son now carries the same name, Schuyler Everett. Loved reading this and learned something to pass to my son. Thanks.