John Hopwood Bleazard

An Excerpt from "Valiant Venture"
by Catherine (Kate) B. Curtis



Chapter 3, Pages 22 to 27 of "Valiant Venture", Vol. 1,
by Catherine (Kate) B. Curtis


" ... This is the story of Mary Catherine Jolley which began in Long Valley, Utah, where she met her sweetheart, Jim Blazzard, and it is also the story of Jim himself. The story continues in Luna, New Mexico for eighteen years, then starts over again in Thatcher, Arizona, in 1900.


Jim Blazzard and his mother, Sarah Searcy Blazzard, moved from Washington over to Long Valley for the summer of 1876. The mother hoped to enjoy a cooler climate than Utah'’s “Dixie.” Jim worked in a saw mill, built fence, and broke bronco horses.

Jim had been little acquainted with his father, John Hopwood Blazzard, who lived in  Salt Lake while Jim and his mother and the older children lived in southern Utah.

The mother and father and children had crossed the plains together, arriving in Great Salt Lake in 1850, two years before Jim’'s birth. But after ten years Sarah had left the father and had gone down into southern Utah to live.

John Hopwood Blazzard, the father, had the name of being a hard man. He prided himself on being meticulously honest, and according to his own understanding, he was a deeply religious man. But he had proved a cruel taskmaster to his and Sarah'’s children and to her four children of a previous marriage.

He had been brought up in England in the early nineteenth century, as an apprentice carpenter and under the hardest of masters. He had become a skilled workman, able to build anything from a wagon to a ship, but the harsh ungracious ways of his former master had clung to him.  He meted out to his own children much the same treatment he himself had received as a youth.

As an apprenticed youth in England, he had lived in a cheerless, one-room hovel, bare and windowless, with its leaky thatched roof, sagging and dripping water to the damp dirt floor below. He had seen his older brothers work for twelve or fifteen hours a day for a wage too small for bare necessities, and worse still, his younger brother had been banished from England to far-off Australia for poaching on the King’'s domain.

So it is no wonder that John Hopwood Blazzard was a hard man. It is said to take three generations to overcome the drawbacks of such poverty and ignorance and even then old objectionable habits recur from time to time, more especially when there has been little opportunity for education.

John Hopwood Blazzard was further soured on life after he answered the call of the Utah missionaries in England and cast his lot with the church.

When the main body of the church had reached Winter Quarters at Florence, Nebraska, he had a well-equipped outfit for himself, a good wagon and team, a cow, plenty of provisions and seed grain, ready for the forward journey, wherever it should lead.

When all was in readiness for the trip, Brigham Young had said to him, “Brother Blazzard, it is my wish that you stay here with those who are not ready to undertake the journey. You are an invaluable man to leave behind because you, with your skills, are able to help those less fortunate than you are. Stay behind, Brother Blazzard, and build up the broken-down wagons, and let me have your outfit for the other brethren to go on in.”

So John Hopwood Blazzard and Sarah Searcy, whom he had married in Nauvoo, were stuck there for two years while his teams and wagons went on without him once more.

Bancroft describes the stay at Winter Quarters thus:

"These two years were so dreadful on account of starvation, sickness, and death, that during the autumn months of the first year, 1846, more than one-third of the encampment lay sick, not one escaping the fever. Some mortally ill, staggered from tent to tent, carrying water and food to comrades. For weeks graves could not be dug as fast as people died. One might see in the open tents, wasted women brushing flies away from the putrefying corpses of their dead children. Six hundred died that first year from fever, similar to typhoid and from scurvy and Black Canker, due to lack of vegetables and milk. The first relief came when a bag of potatoes was brought in from Missouri and the sick were fed scraped, raw potatoes, a spoonful at a time.

"During this time, John Hopwood Blazzard was not only building wagons and doing smithy work but he was helping with the building of houses which was going on night and day, houses of mud and logs with puncheon floors and dirt or straw roofs.
He was able to save his own and Sarah'’s lives and the lives of their children by means of his cow, which he cared for more lovingly than if she were a golden cow.
The destroying angel passed by the homes of those using milk and smote with death the other families suffering from lack of nourishing food.

"After Brigham Young and his advance company left to travel ahead to search for a site for a permanent camp, John Hopwood Blazzard again built him an outfit. More wagons were overhauled, put in order, tires reset, chains repaired, yokes and bows arranged in order, wagon bows made and mended, in anticipation of another chance, but he was again left behind. He and Sarah eventually reached their goal and in later years Sarah told her children about the trip across the plains from Winter Quarters." 

The following is taken from the Emma Evan Coleman diary :


“"Men had to break a road through deep drifts or across a ravine where the snow had drifted. Then three or four yoke of oxen would be driven over two or three times before the wagon could go over. Some days not more than three or five miles were covered.

"‘It was very disagreeable to be huddled in a covered wagon long hours, looking over the backs of weary, starved, laboring oxen, two or three or four yoke to the wagon, geeing and hawing, cracking long whips over the oxen or punching the wheel ox in the ribs just behind the shoulder to get him out to the right to keep him from skidding into a tree or other obstruction. If an outfit were hung on a tree, all joined in cutting down the tree or in moving the wagon around, trying not to break the reach.

‘"When camp was made at night the children scantily clad and barefoot had to remain in the wagon to keep from freezing.

‘"Cottonwood trees were cut down for feed for cattle and at times the cattle were driven down to the breaks for shelter and food.

‘"The lack of forage, the deep snow, and the heavy work made the cattle die. The ones that died were cut up and eaten. Others were frozen to the ground and had to be pried up, their hides being stuck to snow or ground so that it tore off in large patches.

‘"The oxen with their sunken eyes and flabby necks, their shoulder blades almost sticking through their hides were piteous objects.  We could count the joints of their bones along their backs. Their ribs seemed far apart as though the wind could blow through. The points of their hips stuck up, and the flanks sank in, and the shoulders and thighs were bone and sinew. Hard wooden yokes pressed cruelly against the raw gristled place in the top of their necks. The bow buried itself almost out of sight in the cavity between the joints of the shoulder and neck.

"‘The frosted chains clanked and rattled as the oxen bowed to the yoke. The wagons squeaked and creaked as they traveled over the frozen ground. When the weakened oxen stopped to rest, the flank and shoulders trembled, the breath came in gasps. The worst ones gritted and ground their teeth, a sign of approaching death usually.

‘"Teams had to be doubled up constantly to make the grades. At times we had nothing to eat but a bit of frozen corn bread and pork. We put the frozen bread under our pillows to thaw it out so it could be eaten.

‘"The children were all undernourished, cold, hungry, and barefooted. There were no playthings, no books, no entertainment, no diversions. They were so hungry they couldn'’t sleep, and so miserable with the continuous gnawing in the stomach, they wished to die.

‘"The emaciated dead oxen, cut up and distributed whenever they died, were scarcely fit for human consumption.’”

"Upon reaching Salt Lake, John Hopwood Blazzard strove to live by the letter of the law rather than by the spirit of the law, and his interpretation of religion was to repeat long, drawn out prayers which he inflicted upon his family morning, noon, and night, and also to marry as many wives as time and circumstances would permit.

. . .

"So sharp was his business acumen and so relentless his thrift that he was not long in accumulating much valuable property. But when Sarah could no longer bear his tyranny and left for southern Utah with her children, he cursed her and washed his hands of her and her children, as far as any provision for support was concerned.

"Sarah and her children lived through the hard years in early Washington and St. George. Two little girls, Dorcas and Ellen, sickened and died (Dorcas died in Salt Lake City). The older children married and maintained homes of their own, until at length Sarah was left alone, except for her sons, Jim and Tom. It was then that they moved over to Long Valley for the summer..."



This Family Group Record may provide information to help the reader understand Kate's story.

James Blazzard was born 7 Aug 1852 in Salt Lake City, Utah. His parents are John Hopwood and Sarah Searcy Miller Bleazard.
His wife was Mary Catherine Jolley who was born 18 April 1860 in Pondtown (Salem) Utah.
James and Mary Catherine were married 30 Nov 1876 in Mt. Carmel, Kane Co., UT

Their children are listed as:

1.. Mary Ann Blazzard, born 3 Jan 1878, Spanish Fork, Utah; died 25 Feb 1951, Tempe, Maricopa, AZ
2.. James Blazzard born 18 Jan 1880, Glendale Kane Co., UT; died 17 April 1904
3..John Wesley Blazzard born 11 June 1882, Glendale, Kane Co., UT; died 2 Jan 1963, Murray, UT
4.. Thomas Jesse Blazzard born 4 Oct 1884, Luna, Catron, NM; died 23 Aug 1954, Globe, Pima, AZ
5.. Sarah Ellen Blazzard born 13 April 1887, Luna, NM; died 19 December 1969, San Diego, CA
6.. Mark Williamson Blazzard born 13 June 1889, Luna, Catron, NM; died 6 June 1890
7.. Catherine Blazzard born 16 Aug 1891, Luna, Catron, NM
8.. Howard Blazzard born 3 June 1894, Luna, Catron, NM
9.. Elmer "J" Blazzard born 9 June 1897, Luna, Scrr, NM; died 19 April 1972, Salt Lake City, UT
10.. Lottie Blazzard born 28 Nov 1899, Luna Catron NM


James Blazzard died 24 April 1905 in Thatcher, Graham, AZ. and is buried in Thatcher, Graham, AZ
Mary Catherine Jolley Blazzard died 15 Aug 1948 in Salt Lake City, UT and is buried in Thatcher, Graham, AZ.




Notes from Joan

July 2009 - (note from Devon) Aunt Kate (as we knew her) reputedly had a very colorful way of seeing things. I believe it was about her that my mother said "She only sees the manure around the marigolds."


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