This is a little historical sketch of one of the most remarkable characters that we have ever known. There will be some among you from Tooele County, who knew this memorable person.
Grouse Creek Jack was born in Grouse Creek, Utah, back in the days before the white man had changed the Indian’s way of life out in the Great Basin. He was a Shoshone Indian, and he was highly respected by his tribesmen. He displayed the fine qualities of leadership.
Grouse Creek Jack knew Brigham Young. He was about 15 years old when he first met the great church leader in Salt Lake City. He explained the meeting thus, “Brigham came with hand held up. Me don’t know what he want, maybe pray.” Grouse Creek Jack joined the “Mormon” Church and was a faithful member thereafter.
He worked on the Logan Temple carrying mortar and plaster up the scaffolds. Then as he quaintly explains, “married in Logan Temple, my wife, me.” Upon occasion Jack would be a speaker at Sacrament meeting. He liked the young people. He would get up on the stand, look down at the young people on the front benches and grin. They would grin back, and then he would give them some kindly advice.
In his declining years, Grouse Creek Jack made a special journey from Fort Hall to Grouse Creek for the express purpose of having Bishop Hadfield get him a set a temple clothes ready so that he might have them for his burial when the time came. Grouse Creek Jack died on the Fort Hall Reservation in 1941. He did not know his exact age but from events, which took place in his life it, is certain that he lived to be at least 109 years of age.
He spent his very early years wandering with his tribesmen over a primitive land, blissfully unaware of even such a thing as a white man. Jack explained, “The Indians loved GrouseCreek Valley” He would frequently tell of the struggle for survival before the advent of the white man. “We hunted with bows and arrows. Nothing much to eat but meat, grain or rye grass used in making soup and mush. Wild berries, pine nuts, dried fish, dried chokecherries and seeds of sunflowers.”
When Jack was about 11 years of age, as he told it, he had what was to him, an experience of earth shaking magnitude! Jack’s little family group was camped in the vicinity of RockyPass at the lower end the Grouse Creek Valley. The little Indian boy happened to be right in the pass at the time. Over the pass came an array that he did not know existed! There came huge, covered wagons pulled by mules and horses, men riding horses. All was a confusion of sound as strange white men, with hair on their faces, shouted to one another in a strange tongue. The Indian lad was so terrible frightened that he crawled under a juniper tree with boughs close to the ground. He scraped out a hole in the old needles under the tree and covered himself up with them until just his head was sticking out. He remained in that position for three days filled with terror. Jack later explained that his father and mother knew about the white man, but they did not tell their children about them. Years later he would speak of his experience on Rocky Pass in this fashion, “When first see white man me pretty much coward. Hide in bush, so maybe after while white man leave.”
Now, it might be mentioned that we figure that the wagon train, seen by Jack as a boy on Rocky Pass, was the party of California bound emigrants led by Joseph Welker. This took place in 1843. Joseph Welker, ten years before, had gone over this route with a party of trappers on an exploring trip to California. No doubt on their first journey they had traveled light with pack and saddle horses.
When we were very little boys, Grouse Creek Jack would come to Grouse Creek and camped just a short way from our house. We can still remember our father, Parley R. Paskett, going upstairs where we had storage space, throw a sack of flour on his shoulder and take it over to present to the little Indian band. Even then Grouse Creek Jack’s hair and beard was as white as snow. During his winter stay he would spend hours visiting with our grandfather, Philip A. Paskett, as they discussed the scriptures. Jack had a high regard for grandfather. He called him by his first name. One time touching grandfather’s hair he remarked, “Philip, hair is plenty white.”
There was a little incident concerning Jack and grandfather that was not without its humorous side. Grandfather would get Jack and his people to haul hay for his livestock. Then to pay them, Grandfather, would tell the Indians to make up a load for their own horses. One time after hauling grandfather’s hay the Indians proceeded to load up for themselves. They piled up the hay and tromped it down until they had a tremendous load. On the way to their camp, they had to negotiate a little, but steep hill. The horses were not equal to the task of pulling it all the way up and so came back in confusion. The wheels of the wagon cramped and the entire load was spilled on the ground. Undaunted, the Indians attempted to put it all back on the wagon, but it did not seem to want to go. At that moment, grandfather happened to come along. Seeing their predicament, he suggested to Jack that they take the hay to their camp in two trips. The Indians were then afraid that grandfather would call it two loads but they followed his admonition. Grandfather, the understanding man that he was, called the hay one load. This made Jack so ashamed that he came and asked our grandfather to forgive him. Grandfather, then gave Grouse Creek Jack an extra load of hay to further bind an understanding and life-long friendship. Jack latter said that Philip had taught him a valuable lesson.
Bishop J. Frank Bowring later said that he trusted Jack and his friends for saddles and harnesses at his father’s store many years ago. “We never lost a dollar through trusting the Indians to pay,” the Bishop declared.
The last time any of our people saw Grouse Creek Jack was in October of 1938. Our father and mother and myself, Glen Paskett, my wife Wanda, visited him on Bannock Creek on the Fort Hall Reservation. He was living with a son at this time. On this occasion, father gave Jack a bushel of fine apples. Although he was bent with the years of more than a century, he could still recall that father was Philip’s son.
By Albert S. Paskett and Glen M. Paskett
The following is from a Deseret News Article written on February 1941
Grouse Creek Jack is a good Indian, 108 years old and in good health, the Editor of the Power County Press at American Falls, Idaho, recently headlined.
Grouse Creek Jack attended Sunday School in American Falls a few weeks ago, Bishop Vard K. Meadows reported. There, with face wrinkled by the blast of desert sun and the passing of many winters, his frame bent by the weight of time, the Indian’s clear eyes sparkled when he was asked to talk to the congregation.
He said he was a good Indian since joining the church many years ago. He told the American Falls members that he liked the Book of Mormon, saying “Good Indian baptized, die, put in ground, come up, go into clouds young man, white, feel good. Bad Indian, no baptized, die, put in ground, stay there.”
Grouse Creek Jack was born and lived a long time in Grouse Creek, Utah. But it is not known whether the creek was named for Jack or Jack for the creek. But his age, which church records indicate is 108, would place the naming of the creek after Jack.
Grouse Creek Jack says he well remembers when Brigham Young came to the Salt Lake Valley. He has a remarkable memory that would be the envy of a man seventy-five years old. He recalled the names of persons he had not seen for fifty or sixty years. He remembers their first names and could speak of their sons, proving that he really remembered the person. The Indian told Roy Lindley of American Falls that he worked on the Logan Temple, carrying mortar and plaster up the scaffolds. After its construction he was baptized and married there. Here’s the way Grouse Creek Jack told his story, using sometimes “He” for “Me” yet giving a clear picture of his early life and conversion to the church.
Hunted With Arrows
“Hunted with bow and arrow, later made own arrows. Had no potatoes, no apples, nothing much to eat but meat, wild berries and the grain and rye grass, used in making mush and soup. Remember long ago father told how he used to hide by the water hole and shoot buffalos with bow and arrows or spear them as they ran by hiding place.” He said when he was about fifteen years old he met Brigham Young for the first time in Salt Lake City. He said Brigham Young came with hand held up. “Me don’t know what he meant, maybe pray. After some time all time, when first see white man, me pretty much coward. Hide in brush, maybe so after awhile white man leave.” He said, “Me kill deer, sometime maybe go, shoot elk which was stuck in snow drift. Pretty soon, me no afraid white man. We old folks been living here at Grouse Creek a long time.”
Met All Bishops
“Married in Logan Temple. Baptized in Logan Temple, my wife, me. Met all Bishops, Salt Lake, Price, Pocatello, Logan, all over. Brigham Young came over, no Indian Bishop help me but Book of Mormon Bishop did. My head is all right, my heart is all right. Book of Mormon help me. That’s all I want now, I feel good. That way Book of Mormon help care me, he cure me. He all right Book of Mormon he help me in anything and everything. That’s all I want today “I used to play cards, gamble, and drink moonshine and whiskey and smoke. Something came to him from above and told him to stop and to go and be baptized. If baptized he go up instead of down, go up in the sky and feel good. He went to Logan and was baptized, and quite smoking, drinking.”
Too Many Houses
“When Indian die he buried in ground. After while he come up again like young man, feel good. That is opinion on resurrection. He first saw Brigham Young at the same place, Salt Lake City is today. At first only a few houses now lots of houses. Too many. He ate game, any kind, squirrel, wild cat, badger, salmon, fish, rabbit. Dried fish, brought back home. Pine nuts, dry choke cherries and service berries. Take seed of sunflower, grind it and make mush. Hunt buffalo, dig hole in ground and hide in it and cover it with sage brush so that buffalo can’t see them. Bow and arrow didn’t make any noise when shot, but rifle make big noise.”
Now Many Rabbits
“Make shirt, pants and moccasins of buckskin. Made fire by rubbing two sticks of wood together. Red pine was best to make fire because it was hardest wood. At first there weren’t many rabbits and now they are all over. Grouse Creek Jack belongs to the Shoshone Tribe. Book of Mormon say, one time Indian all white and will be again in long time. He feels good for being baptized and a member of the Church today.