Friday, November 9, 2012

Harmon Cutler

Standing: Benjamin L. Cutler, Orson Parley Pratt Cutler
Seated: Clarinda Cutler Raymond, Harmon Cutler, Almira Cutler Raymond
This photo of Harmon Cutler and his children was taken prior to 1862, because we know that Clarinda died in 1862.  Clarinda and Almira married brothers, Alonzo Pearez Raymond and William Wallace Raymond, respectively.  I'm attaching a history of Harmon Cutler by an unknown author:

The Life of Harmon Cutler

Harmon Cutler was born July 16, 1879, in Dover, Dutchess County, New York.  His American ancestry is traced back to his 4th great grandfather, James Cutler, who came to America from England and settled in Waterton, Massachusetts in 1634.  Harmon’s father was Samuel Cutler and his mother Cordelia Youngs.  He was the fourth of ten children.  When Harmon was fourteen, both of his parents died from typhoid fever.  They were buried in one grave.  The simple stone marker was inscribed, “Those who have a tear will stop and shed it here.”

Harmon’s uncle, Gideon Cutler, lived in Cobleskill, New York and had lost his only two children in death.  He may have taken in all or part of his brother’s children.  Harmon may have been living with his uncle when he was apprenticed to learn the wagon makers’ trade, a trade which proved very valuable in light of events to come.

Harmon met and married Susannah Barton of Cobleskill on November 13, 1825.  Susannah was born December 19, 1825.  Her father was Bradford Barton and her mother was Lydia Mosher (or Mosier).  Susannah traces her ancestry back to Governor William Bradford of the Mayflower and Plymouth Colony. 

Harmon bought a farm in Amboy, Oswego, New York, and farmed in connection with his wagon-making trade.  They lived there for fifteen years.  While they lived there seven children were born to them.

The family heard the gospel preached, and Harmon was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Elder James Blakesley in the spring of 1839 in Amboy, Oswego County, New York.

The story is told that Orson Pratt was in the home of Harmon Cutler soon after the birth of Harmon’s seventh child and was asked to christen the new arrival.  It is said that Harmon wished to name the boy after Orson Pratt, but Orson favored the name of his brother Parley.  There was a compromise, and the baby was named Orson Parley Pratt Cutler.

By the end of July 1840, Harmon had made seven wagons.  On August 6, 1840, Harmon took his entire family and household belongings in the wagons he had made, and with fellow members of the Church, started on the long journey to Illinois.  They reached Nauvoo after traveling for fifty days.  The rigors of pioneer life proved too much for Susannah and she died in Nauvoo two months later on November 21, 1840.  Orson Parley Pratt Cutler was only eleven months old when his mother died. 

Harmon was sealed to Susannah in the Endowment House July 17, 1857.

It was difficult for Harmon to care for his young family and continue at his wagon making trade.  He married Lucy Ann Pettigrew in Nauvoo on August 29, 1841 (some records show 1842).  They had five children.  As it became apparent that the Saints would have to leave Nauvoo, Harmon started outfitting his wagons.  On May 25, 1846, he and his wife and children loaded up their unsold worldly possessions.  They crossed the Mississippi River with other members of the Church who had been driven from Nauvoo.  They journeyed across the state of Iowa and arrived at Council Bluffs on July 16, 1846.  It took fifty-three days to make the journey.  Here, as in other places, Harmon’s push and energy procured the necessities, if not the luxuries of life, and he soon had a large farm under cultivation.

In the LDS Journal of History is an entry dated August 25, 1846, stating that after breakfast call, President Brigham Young started with the brethren for the Liberty Pole Bluff.  He met Harmon Cutler, and it is said that Harmon was requested by Brigham Young to remain at Council Bluffs for a period to build wagons and otherwise assist the emigrants to prepare for the long trek across the plains.

In June 1852 there were twenty-two companies of Saints who crossed the plains from Council Bluffs to Salt Lake Valley.  The Deseret News of Sept of that year gives a report of the various companies.  Harmon Cutler was captain over the twelfth company, also called the Independent Company, and consisted of two hundred sixty two persons.  It also had 231 oxen, 17 horses, 171 cows, 154 sheep, 222 pounds of ammunition, 28 spades and shovels and 20 dogs.  It is said that no one was obliged to walk in this company.  The account of this in the Cutler memorial reads:  “In the month of June 1852 we again find him (Harmon) with his family and in the company of others, passing over the Rocky Mountains.  When about 250 miles on their journey, and near Fort Laramie, they were attacked by Indians, who captured all of the horses of this company, taking five from Mr. Cutler.  This loss necessitated the use of oxen, to haul the wagons the rest of the journey, some 750 miles, arriving at Great Salt Lake City near the last of September.  Harmon located at West Jordan, Salt Lake Co., built a house, and ever afterwards lived in comfortable circumstances.”

About two years after his arrival in Utah, he with others returned to Nauvoo to bring the bodies of their wives to Utah.  When digging up the bodies they found great grandmother’s to be so heavy they decided to open the casket and found her body had petrified and looked as natural as the day she was buried.  Great grandfather took his handkerchief and wiped the mold from the teeth and they reburied her and returned to Utah.

On August 7, 1854, a general election was held in Utah.  Harmon Cutler was elected poundkeeper of Salt Lake County.

Harmon’s wife, Lucy Ann, not being content, asked for a divorce and a division of the property, which was granted. 

On  April 11, 1857, he married Elizabeth Shields, who died about one year after the marriage.
For his fourth wife he married Agnes McGregor on December 19, 1859.  She was only fourteen years old at the time of their marriage and he was 58.  She gave birth to five children.  In total Harmon had seventeen children.

Lillian Cutler Rich, a granddaughter, remembers “as a girl, I used to hear my relatives talk about how my grandfather built a mercantile store in West Jordan and because Harmon Cutler didn’t see fit to go into polygamy, the members of the church in the community were told not to patronize his store.”

Harmon Cutler died January 29, 1869, in his seventieth year, after living a colorful, active and useful life.  He was buried in West Jordan (now Midvale), Utah in the old Pioneer or Indian Burial Ground Cemetery.  The pioneers used it in the early days and many people were buried there.  Some monuments marked family plots including one at the north end, placed there by Harmon Cutler descendants.  When United States Smelter Company acquired the property, Agnes McGregor Cutler, young widow of Harmon Cutler, appealed to the US Smelter to respect that plot of ground.  They did and routed their railroad tracks around it and gave their employees instructions that no rubbish was to be placed there.  About 1906, the Smelter offered to pay for removal of the bodies to other cemeteries.  Some relatives took advantage of the offer, but members of the Cutler family requested that Harmon, his wife Elizabeth Shields Cutler, his son Samuel Bradford, and his daughter Clarinda Cutler Raymond remain buried there.  (This information was obtained from Midvale History Book.)  This property was later owned by the Sharon Steel Mill, and they ceased operations in the 1980’s.  The little cemetery has been vandalized; it is overgrown with weeds; and is covered with debris.  Harmon’s monument is no longer standing.  In 1992, unsuccessful efforts were made to contact someone who would give permission to enter the cemetery.

The following obituary for Harmon Cutler is taken from the Deseret News Vol. 11, Wednesday evening, February 3, 1869.

In West Jordan Ward, Jan. 29, 1869 at 20 minutes to 8 o’clock pm, Elder Harmon Cutler died of disease of the bladder.  Brother Cutler was born July 16, 1799.  He was baptized by Elder James Blakesley, in the spring of 1839 in Amboy, Oswego County, New York; moved to Nauvoo in 1840, left Nauvoo for Pottawattamie Co., Iowa in 1846, where he resided near Council Bluffs until June 1852; when he left, crossed the plains, setting as Captain of the 12th Company of Saints.  He arrived in this valley the latter part of September 1852, and has since resided the most of the time in West Jordan Ward where he acted for some time as President of the High Priest Quorum of that branch of the church.

Brother Cutler died in the 70th year of his age.  He lived universally beloved and respected by his brethren; was true and faithful to the interests of his holy religion and to his brethren in all conditions of life.  He died as he lived, a faithful and true Latter-day Saint.

The funeral services took place at 3 pm on Sunday 31st.  Bishop Archibald Gardner officiating and giving much valuable instruction. - Author unknown



  1. If you are interested, there is a book about Harmon available:

  2. I just found a link to this blog a, and being a descendent of Royal James Cutler, I'm obviously interested! Thank you for putting this information out there.

  3. Hi Leslie, thanks for sharing info about my ancestor Harmon. I live close to west Jordan and I'm curious about finding that cemetary site and seeing if anything could be tried again. Thanks, Isaac