John Hopwood Bleazard

An Encounter with John Hopwood Bleazard

I received this in an email from Steve Pogue:

"I found this on the internet from an old book by an Englishman who was crossing the plains on the Oregon trail in late June, 1852. While the first name is not given, and the surname spelled differently than John spelled it himself, it is spelled as pronounced. Given that this was the year John H. crossed the plains, and describes his heritage, and the fact that aside from his son he was the only man in the United States named Bleazard at the time, there can be no question that this was him and his family." (Steve Pogue)


An Interesting Encounter with John Hopwood Bleazard

One evening, travelling along the North Platte river, before reaching Laramie, we overtook a Mormon family on their way to Salt Lake City. They had a light covered wagon with hardly anything in it but a small supply of flour and bacon. It was drawn by four oxen and two cows. Four milch cows were driven. The man's name was Blazzard - a Yorkshireman from the Wolds, whose speech was that of Learoyd. He had only his wife and a very pretty daughter of sixteen or seventeen with him. We asked him how he became a Mormon. He answered: 'From conviction,' and entreated us to be baptized in the true faith at his hands. The offer was tempting, for the pretty little milkmaid might have become one of one's wives on the spot. In truth the sweet nymph urged conversion more persuasively than her papa - though with what views who shall say? The old farmer's acquaintance with the Bible was remarkable. He quoted it at every sentence, and was eloquent upon the subject of the meaning and the origin of the word 'Bible.' He assured us the name was given to the Holy Book from the circumstance of its contents having passed a synod of prophets, just as an Act of Parliament passes the House of Commons - BY BILL. Hence its title. It was this historical fact that guaranteed the authenticity of the sacred volume. There are various reasons for believing - this is one of them.

The next day, being Sunday, was spent in sleep. In the afternoon I helped the Yorkshire lassie to herd her cattle, which had strayed a long distance amongst the rank herbage by the banks of the Platte. The heat was intense, well over 120 in the sun; and the mosquitos rose in clouds at every step in the wet grass. It was an easy job for me, on my little grey, to gallop after the cows and drive them home, (it would have been a wearisome one for her,) and she was very grateful, and played Dorothea to my Hermann. None of our party wore any upper clothing except a flannel shirt; I had cut off the sleeves of mine at the elbow. This was better for rough work, but the broiling sun had raised big blisters on my arms and throat which were very painful. When we got back to camp, Dorothea laved the burns for me with cool milk. Ah! she was very pretty; and, what 'blackguard' Heine, as Carlyle dubs him, would have called 'naive schmutzig.' When we parted next morning I thought with a sigh that before the autumn was over, she would be in the seraglio of Mr. Brigham Young; who, Artemus Ward used to say, was 'the most married man he ever knew.' Henry Coke

Notes from Joan

Jason Blazzard provided the following documentation of the 'Encounter' on Facebook, and I uploaded the link on 5/9/09.

Jason, as I read the interesting worldwideschool story about the Encounter, Henry Coke says, "Having published in 1852 an account of our journey, entitled 'A Ride over the Rocky Mountains,' I shall not repeat the story, but merely give a summary of the undertaking, with a few of the more striking incidents to show what travelling across unknown America entailed fifty or sixty years ago."

Now I'm thinking that since this was PUBLISHED in 1852, the encounter likely did occur in 1850, and that the "very pretty daughter' was Mary Jane Miller.

Thanks, Jason.

joan bleazard thomas