Albert Francis Richins was the son of Joseph Richins and Jane Morse Richins. He was born at Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire, England, on May 3, 1855. He was baptized onOctober 8, 1864 at Caudle Green, England, by John Dalton, and confirmed on the same day by Robert Jones. He immigrated to Utah with his parents in the fall of 1872, as converts to the LDS Church, settling in Henefer, Utah, where he went to work for Bishop Charles Richins. He was about seventeen years old at the time. He later worked as a section hand on the railroad for a time.
He formed a friendship with Mary Jane Jones and they were married on November 16, 1874 in the old Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah by Wilford Woodruff, Albert being nineteen years of age and Mary Jane being sixteen. He was ordained an Elder the same day by William J. Smith. They went to Salt Lake City with Sandy Glenn, who was taking a load of grain. The load being heavy, it was necessary for Albert and Jane to walk up all the hill and then they would ride on the load downhill.
After their marriage, they returned to Henefer to make their home. They lived in the home of William Betteridge, where their first baby boy, Sidney, was born on August 8, 1875. He died onAugust 16, 1875 of prematurity. The following winter they moved to a house closer into the settlement where their daughter, Eliza, was born on October 9, 1876.
In the winter of 1877, there appeared in the Deseret News a letter from Isaac Kimball, son of Heber C. Kimball, giving an account and description of the Grouse Creek Valley, saying that it was a good place for settlers. A few days later, five young men, desirous of finding places where they could build homes, decided to go to Grouse Creek and look the situation over. Those who made the trip were: William Betteridge Sr., William P. Paskett, R. Allen Jones and Albert F. Richins and Philip A. Paskett. They left Henefer onMarch 16, 1877 and arrived in the Grouse Creek Valley on March 21, 1877.
The Heneferites, as they were known, decided that two men should remain at Grouse Creek and hold the land while the others returned to Henefer for their families. Richins, Jones and William Paskett returned by train from Terrace to Henefer in April. Allen Jones decided he did not want to move. On May 24, 1877, Albert Richins and his wife and small daughter and James Simpson and his wife and child, left Henefer for Grouse Creek. They traveled by ox team in the same wagon, with a milk cow tied behind the wagon, her calf riding in the wagon and a coop of chickens tied on the back of the wagon. It was a long, slow journey with plenty of trouble. At Uintah their wagon broke down, which delayed them three days, and it rained on them most of the journey.
When they reached Locomotive Springs, they turned their oxen loose to graze for the night. They strayed away and got mixed with a large herd of cattle scattered in the swamp land. The cattle were in charge of one white man, one Indian and a Negro. Albert and James Simpson walked for miles the next day trying to find their oxen. Jane was also in search in another direction, when she came upon the Negro. She told him about their trouble and he helped locate the missing oxen. He was on a horse, which he rode out into the swamp to bring the oxen out.
Arriving at Dove Creek, some forty miles east of Grouse Creek, they were met by William Betteridge and Philip Paskett. They left Dove Creek and were at what is known as Pucket Springs, when Jane became sick and asked to get out of the wagon. There being a steep mountain to climb, the rest of them went on to the top. Albert then came back to where Jane was and helped her on up to the wagon. She had hoped that they would not return for her. She was so sick. They were soon on their way again, arriving at Grouse Creek on June 10, 1877. Then, upon their arrival, William Betteridge and Philip Paskett returned to Henefer to move their families, which they did the following October.
Albert and James built a one-room dugout, in which both families lived until they could build a house for Albert on the piece of ground he chose at the mouth of Cook’s Canyon. He moved there in the spring of 1878. The dugout which they shared with Simpson’s was located on the lower part of the creek where the old Mecham place is now.
The land Albert located on proved to be the best land for farming in the valley. It was covered with about sixteen acres of white sage, which was good winter feed for cattle. The following spring, after the settlers had started working their farms, Albert lost both of his oxen from weed poisoning. They were found dead close to the house. This was one of the biggest heartbreaks of his pioneering.
In the fall of 1878 Albert and William Paskett went to Ogden, each with a load of wheat, to obtain flour for the winter. It was found that there was smut in Albert’s load and the mills at Corrine and Brigham City would not have the wheat at any price. He was thus forced to haul it to Ogden by ox team, where a miller there gave him 200 pounds of flour and a sack of sugar for the entire load. On their way home they worked at a molasses factory for five gallons of molasses each. When Albert arrived home, he was greeted with the news that his son, George, had been born on October 26, 1876, at the Simpson home.
The following winter there was very little snow, and so Albert herded sheep for Hubbard & Company in the Pine Creek Country. The outlook for summer water was so very bad that he even offered his entire holdings in Grouse Creek for $100.00.
In the fall of 1879, all the families moved up on the flat near Cook’s dam. They wanted to be close together where their children could go to school and where they could gather together in church, all the settlers being members of the LDS church. A ward was organized and a one-room schoolhouse was built, about where the old Hadfield house now stands. Annie and Louisa were born while the family lived there.
In the spring of 1884 they moved back on their farms, and that year they raised good crops and gardens. Albert raised 1,300 bushels of oats and wheat that year. One day while Albert and others were cutting and binding the grain one man was heard to say, “I’m going to Salt Lake and take this land. Richins cannot hold it. He is not a citizen and he has no papers to show that he can hold it.” So while the other men were eating their dinner, Albert went into another room, got ready to leave, borrowed a horse from William Paskett and rode to Terrace. There he borrowed $30.00 from S. H. Cave and went to Henefer by train, where he obtained witnesses. From Henefer he went to Salt Lake City and took out his citizenship papers and secured his land the same day.
Albert was ordained a Seventy on December 28, 1884 by Lorenzo Hunsaker. Alma was the first one of their children to be born on the original homestead.
Following is a list of all the children born to Albert Francis Richins and Mary Jane Jones Richins:
1. Albert Sidney August 8, 1875 Henefer
2. Eliza Harriet October 9, 1876 Henefer
3. George Robert October 26, 1878 Grouse Creek
4. Annie Jane October 23, 1880 Grouse Creek
5. Louisa Emaline October 24, 1882 Grouse Creek
6. William Alma June 29, 1885 Grouse Creek
7. Wilford Francis November 20, 1887 Grouse Creek
8. Orson Chester December 10, 1889 Grouse Creek
9. Joseph Ether January 29, 1892 Grouse Creek
10. Newell June 1, 1894 Grouse Creek
11. Wellington Irvin April 29, 1897 Grouse Creek
12. Orita Ellen November 12, 1899 Grouse Creek
13. Nola Mary September 13, 1903 Grouse Creek
In 1892 Albert Richins started in the store business, which proved to be a big help to the people on Grouse Creek. He was a very liberal man and gave much of his merchandise out of credit. When he went out of business many years later, he had many outstanding customers’ debts, which were never collected.
He was ordained a High Priest on April 20, 1896, by Moroni Pickett, and sustained as a counselor to Bishop David Harry Toyn on the same day, a position he held for twenty years. Being in the Bishopric, he saw the need of a granary in which to store grain and other farm produce, as it was customary in those early days to pay their tithing in kind. Albert headed the building of this granary, which was built of sandstone and equipped with bins, scales, etc. The building still stands.
Albert was made the postmaster of Grouse Creek on December 1, 1894 and held that office until June 1915. For several years he served as Justice of the Peace and was a Notary Public until the time of his death.
He was called to serve a mission to England when Nola, his thirteenth and youngest of his children, was only two months old. He left home in November 1903 and returned in 1905, having filled an honorable mission.
Three of his sons also served on missions: George went to Australia in 1900, before his father, Alma served in England and Wilford went to the Dakotas.
Albert was instrumental in carrying out many community projects, which added convenience and prosperity to the people of Grouse Creek. In 1908, when it was decided to run a pipeline from Buckskin Springs to the community, a distance of three miles, Albert was the main push behind that project. The Bishopric at that time, David H. Toyn, William Paskett, and Albert F. Richins, went to Salt Lake City and talked with President Joseph F. Smith and through his influence, they borrowed the money to complete the project, Albert taking the main responsibility.
In 1912, the same Bishopric, upon the permission and vote of the ward members, decided to build a new chapel. It was built of sand rock at a cost of $10,000.00. Albert took the lead and shouldered the main load of responsibility of this project. The money was raised, Albert taking the responsibility for the wages of the masons. He and Jane boarded fifteen of the masons who worked on the chapel.
Albert was the first person to have gas lights in his house. It was a considerable expense, but quite enjoyable. However, they were a lot of trouble to use, as the gas had to be brought into town in large cans, air pumped into the tanks and the lights ignited with wood alcohol, and it required more time than he could devote to the project, so the gas lights were finally abolished.
Albert owned a lot of range land and for years he pastured and cared for horses belonging to J.G. Read of Ogden. He bought harnesses, saddles, etc., from Read Brothers. He also installed the first commercial and livestock scales that were on Grouse Creek, for the use and convenience of the community as a whole.
When Philip Paskett was brought home to Grouse Creek from Basalt, Idaho, sick and destitute, Albert gave him a piece of ground to get started on and helped him build his house on it. The piece of ground was located between the old Dry Canyon Creek and the Allen Tanner farm. Although some thought that this gesture was more than they could afford, it proves the generosity of this great man.
Besides raising lots of grain, Albert had a good potato crop each year. He used to get the Indians to help harvest the potatoes.
Father raised lots of white-faced cattle, and the surplus was sold each fall to raise money for their winter expenses. At one time he bought fifty head of purebred Jersey cows at Ogden and had them shipped to Grouse Creek via the railroad to Lucin. He sold the cows to the farmers to supply good milk and butter products for their families. He bought a cheese press so the ladies could make their own cheese.
Also, Father built a smoke house where he cured his own meat, as well as that of many of the others. He provided for his family well and taught us all to work, help and share, all the basic virtues that make up the useful fulfillment of one’s life. His desire was to build a home that would be a sanctuary for themselves and for their family, and hopefully for their grandchildren.
Albert and Mary Jane celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary on November 15, 1924.
I remember the old log house by the creek and the blacksmith shop. Many times I have turned the bellows for Father as he did his blacksmith work. I remember the well and the windmill by the old house, the sheds, especially the old shed in the dry creek bed where the cattle sheltered in winter and where we would gather mushrooms in the spring.
I remember large stacks of hay and bins full of grain, potatoes, apples and garden produce, fat, well-kept horses and white top buggy that took us on trips occasionally, our pet horse, Baldie and the old black dog, Toby.
I remember the threshing crews we used to feed. The townspeople bought a threshing machine in later years, which they ran with a horse-powered machine. The threshing crew consisted of from fifteen to twenty men.
Father believed in the security of family prayer. We were called together every morning, each one taking their turn at saying the prayer. Many times we were late for school because Father kept us on our knees for longer than we thought necessary. Father took us to our church meetings and taught us that Sunday was a day to worship the Lord.
He was free and generous with his money, and as a result, he was taken advantage of many times. He was stern, but he had his good qualities. He lived the gospel and taught his family the best he knew how. I never saw Father ever use tobacco or strong drinks. He did drink tea for his breakfast and felt justified in doing so.
Grouse Creek had long, hard winters, usually with lots of snow. But we made our own good times, sleigh riding, parties, dances. One winter the whole town was stricken with smallpox. There were some very bad cases, but no deaths. At another time, there was a typhoid fever epidemic. Louisa, the 17-year-old daughter of Father and Mother, became fatally ill with the dread disease and died on October 11, 1899. Their young son, Ether, was also severely ill for three months with the same dread disease.
Two sons, Wellie and Ether, were called to serve their country during World War I. Both were fortunate enough to be able to return home after the armistice.
One by one, the large family left parents and home and were married. Each of the eleven who grew to maturity were married in the Salt Lake Temple, a record to be proud of.
The drought, the depression and the effects of the war, together with his advancing years, slowed down Father’s pace so that the prosperity of the old farm and home began to deteriorate.
Father enjoyed really good health most of his life and worked around the place as much as he could. In the fall of 1931 he became ill with a kidney ailment. On January 17, 1932, after some persuasion, he was taken to Ogden to Eliza’s home. He passed away on April 26, 1932 and his body was returned to Grouse Creek where the funeral and burial took place on April 30, 1932.
(Taken from histories written by Wellington Richins and Philip Paskett and compiled by Nola Mary Richins Kimber, who also added her own recollections and comments – 1972)