George Edwin Little

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Relationship: Son of Edwin Sobieski Little & Harriet Amelia Decker
Association: Crossed the plains with mother in 1847, Pony Express rider

George Edwin Little, son of Harriet Amelia Decker & Edwin Sobieski Little

Contents

Vitals

  • Born: (6 Aug 1844) (Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, USA)
  • Died: (27 Dec 1915) (Haden, Teton, Idaho, USA)
  • Buried: (31 Dec 1915) (Clawson-Cache Cemetery, Tetonia, Teton, Idaho, USA)

Spouse

Martha Taylor m. (5 Jan 1862) (Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA)

Children:

  1. Mattie Taylor Little b. (8 Dec 1886) (Tooele, Tooele, Utah, USA)
  2. Clara Ann Little

Parents

Father: Edwin Sobieski Little b. (22 Jan 1816) (Aurelius, Cayuga, New York, USA)
Mother: Harriet Amelia Decker b. (13 Mar 1826) (Phelps, Ontario, New York, USA)

History

George Edwin Little was born at Nauvoo, Illinois, on August 6, 1844, being the son of Edwin S. and Harriet A. (Decker) Little. His father early espoused the Mormon faith, becoming a resident of Nauvoo before the persecutions came upon the people of that city and at the exodus of Mormons started with his family for Utah, with Brigham Young and the first company of emigrants, but died on the way and was buried at Richardson's Point on the Missouri River in 1846, at the early age of 30 years, leaving his widow and one child. The widow continued on the journey to Utah, driving a yoke of oxen all of the long and wearisome way.

George Edwin Little was but three years of age when in 1847 he arrived in the new land of Utah, and he may be called distinctively a son of the West, since he attained manhood, received his education and diligently wrought out an honorable career from circumstances that were often unpropitious and unpromising. Life on the plains commenced with him when but fifteen years of age, as in 1859 he engaged as a pony express rider, his first route lying between Salt Lake City and Rocky Ridge. This was no dress-parade life. Miles on miles of uninhabited distance stretched between stations, wild beasts ranged over the plains and mountains, bands of Indians, ofttimes of hostile mood, hung around the trails and it required nerve, courage, endurance and great self control to successfully perform his duties. He well filled the station, however, and continued to be thus employed on various relays until the coming of the telegraph, in 1861, drove the pony express out of existence. His daughter, Estella, has the badge that testified to his belonging to the early pioneer band of the State of Deseret.

"My father, George Edwin Little, rode for the Pony Express at the age of fifteen. He weighed less than a hundred pounds at that time. Pony Express Riders

"One horse in particular weighed about eleven hundred pounds, was brown, bald-faced and stocking-legged, with a Roman nose and showed the whites of his eyes. The farther he went the faster he wanted to go and from the time he started out on his route he pulled on the bit all the way through. He was very durable and treacherous.

"It was customary for the rider to give a yip before he arrived so they would be ready for him. On one occasion as he was riding into the station, instead of the station keeper hearing his yip, he was sound asleep, the rider pulled this horse up suddenly and the horse slipped and fell at the door of the station, giving the station keeper quite a shock.

"There was another occasion: only this horse didn't have the endurance that the other one did. Father was bringing in the mail from the east to the station at Mountain Dell. He was riding a little bay horse, weighing about nine hundred pounds, about six or eight years old. Father said he was a good horse and he thought a lot of him, but he didn't have the bottom of some of the others but would give all he had. There was a heavy snow storm came up and crossing over the 'Little Mountain' the snow became so heavy and deep that his horse gave out and he had to leave him.

"He took his pocket knife and cut the saddle bags open and put the letter mail inside his shirt. Then afoot he broke a trail over to Mountain Dell, arriving there about three o'clock in the morning. The next morning he rode a horse bareback to Salt Lake and delivered the mail to the old 'Salt Lake House,' which was the post office. Ephraim Hanks rode back up the canyon next morning and brought the horse, which seemed none the worse.

"They who were expecting important mail were afraid that the mail would not reach Salt Lake City that day. They were so elated when the mail came in with the boy carrying it in his shirt and riding bare-back, that they picked him up and carried him around the street on their shoulders.

"While riding over the trail early one morning, coming to the edge of the timber he noticed his horse pricking up his ears, which was a sign of danger, sometimes a rattle snake, sometimes a wolf. George knew he had important mail, as well as money on his saddle bag. Before he could act, his horse was caught by the bridle reins by two men with their faces covered with black handkerciefs, but with his quick thinking and action he put his spurs to his horse which leaped into the air freeing himself from the would-be robbers. They shot several shots at George but his horse was a fast runner and once again he reached the station with the mail. This story was told me by my father, when I was just a girl."

His active nature kept him busily employed during the years of his residence in the city, and in 1890 he moved to the Teton Basin and put up there its pioneer saw mill and commenced an energetic campaign of lumbering operations.

On January 5, 1862, Miss Martha Taylor, a native of England, was married to Mr. Little. They have had fourteen children, namely: Edwin S., Clara A., Miriam M., George A., Harriet A., Maria, Fanny (dec.), Margaret Groves, Marcie, Eva, Feramorz, Estella, Nora and Mattie.

George Edwin Little died December 27, 1916, in Teton Basin, Idaho, at the age of 72.

Heart Throbs of the West, Kate B. Carter, Vol. 9, p. 98-100


WESTWARD HO!

I swing to the saddle at busy Saint Joe
Where the Sinuous river is muddy and slow;
My knife and my pistol are strapped to my side
And the letters I carry are covered with hide;

A word from the agent, a fervent "Good-bye,"
And away to the West speed my pony and 1.
We canter, we gallop, we race like the roe,
And the wind whistles music to us as we go.

I urge with the spur and I goad with the tongue;
(In the speech that I utter no poet has sung.)
With head full extended, with ears in his mane
And hoofs beating time on the undulous plain,

My mount, like a swallow in vigorous flight,
Sweeps on with the day, plunges into the night.
Never trooper did ride with his charger in line
More swiftly than I on this mustang of mine.

I gain the last summit, I climb the last hill,
There bursts on my sight, O, ineffable thrill!
A shimmering view of my heavenly home,
All canopied o'er with a blue vaulted dome.

As lovely a vale as resplendent Cashmere
Lies encircled by mountains, and, chrystalline clear,
A salty lake gleams 'neath the sun's burning ire,
A platter of silver a glitter with fire.

—Charles R. Mabey: "The Pony Express."

Heart Throbs of the West, Kate B. Carter, Vol. 9, p. 100


George Edwin Little was a child of three when he came to Utah with his widowed mother, Harriet A. (Decker) Little in the Jedediah Grant company of October 2, 1847. His father, Edwin Little, had been buried at Richardson Point on the Missouri River in 1846, a victim of pneumonia, shortly after the exodus of the Saints from Nauvoo, Illinois.

When George was nearly sixteen years of age he was hired as a Pony Express rider, his run lying between Salt Lake City and Rocky Ridge. In relating some of his experiences as a rider his daughter, Estella, contributed this information. "One day father was bringing in the mail from the east to the station at Mountain Dell. He was riding a little bay horse, weighing about nine hundred pounds and about six or eight years old. There was a heavy snowstorm came up, and crossing over Little Mountain, the snow became so heavy and deep that his horse gave out and he had to leave him. He took his pocket knife and cut the mail pouch open putting the mail inside his shirt. Then he broke a trail over to Mountain Dell, arriving there about 3 o'clock in the morning. The next morning he rode a horse bareback to Salt Lake and delivered the mail to the Old Salt Lake House which was the home station. Ephraim Hanks, his stepfather, rode back up the canyon next morning and brought in the horse which seemed none the worse for the ordeal. The people who were expecting important mail were afraid that it would not reach the city that day, and when they saw father ride in they were so elated they picked him up and carried him around the streets on their shoulders.

"While riding over the trail early one morning, coming to the edge of the timber, he noticed his horse prick up his ears, which was always a sign of danger, sometimes a rattlesnake, sometimes a wolf. Father knew that he had important mail as well as money in his saddle bag. Before he could act, his horse was caught by the bridle by two men with handkerchiefs over their faces. With quick thinking and action he put the spurs to the horse which sped quickly away from the would-be robbers. They fired several shots but the horse was a fast runner and once more he reached the station with the mail."

The days of Express riding over, Mr. Little returned to Salt Lake City. He soon met and fell in love with pretty Martha Taylor, and after a year's courtship, though not yet eighteen, he and Martha were married at the home of Emeline B. Wells, January 5, 1862. While rearing their large family they moved around a great deal, never seeming quite satisfied; until, in 1891, they moved into the Teton Basin which was truly home to them the rest of their lives. One of his outstanding enterprises was the erection and operation of the first sawmill in the Basin. This he continued for many years along with numerous other activities. He died December 15, 1915 at his home in Haden, Idaho.

Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 3, p. 394

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