(Editorial Note: Part 7s of a series of further development in the early days that impacted the settlement of Franklin County. Sources: Hometown Album, Newell Hart, editor; Cache Valley Newsletter, published by Newell Hart; Life Sketch by Isaac B. Nash )
With the budding settlement of Franklin continuing to grow in size, the population welcomed the addition of another blacksmith: Isaac Bartlett Nash, also from the British Isles..
From written descriptions he was a rather short man, strong in body, gifted in many ways, creative not only in the molding of iron for the needs of his neighbors but also a man who created music for those same neighbors. According to his daughter, Ellen Nash Parkinson, this fiery Welshman was a ”blacksmith by trade, and a musician by nature.”
He was raised in Wales by his maternal grandparents who were well-off financially and had opposed the marriage of his parents. Later they relented and Isaac’s parents were part of his life.
From his history -- ”Grandfather’s business interests failed and having employed men, what holdings he had went to pay his bills and obligations. Everything he had was sold under the hammer, with the exception of his tools. He now had to work hard for a living; and when I was very young, he took me to the shop and taught me the trade. Later on he developed a bad case of rheumatism and could not work much. I had by this time learned the trade so that I could carry on the work.“
At age 21 Isaac married Eliza Morris against her parents’ will, following the pattern of his own parents. Within a year both were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He worked as a blacksmith for Southern Wales Railroad. A foreman there, bitter against the Mormons, contrived to have Isaac fired, bringing a time of unemployment and hardship for the newly married couple.
As is often the case “who you know“ is at least as important as “what you know.” A fried of Isaac’s grandfather’s happened upon Isaac quite by chance while looking for a blacksmith for his own company. An interesting twist to this, the man Isaac was replacing in the company was no other than the foreman who had cost him his job with the railroad.
Four years later the couple started their journey to America, again against the wishes of all their family. As members of the first Welsh company with plans to come to Utah they found themselves in St. Louis, MO, about the same time thousands of people were moving across the Great Plains, caught up in the rush for California’s gold. Unexpected challenges lay ahead.
One was cholera.“The morning after we arrived we buried 21 of our company. We soon got on our way to Council Bluffs burying 64 persons on the trip. Grandmother [Mary White Nash] was one of eight buried in the same grave. The cholera was so bad that we ofttimes had to bury some bodies in the morning and others in the afternoon. We arrived at Council Bluffs in a sorry condition. Nobody would come near us.“ The cholera epidemic followed them as they made their way across the plains.
Arriving in Salt Lake Valley in the most discouraging of circumstances, they faced snow, sickness, no tent, no wagon, extremely meager belongings. The next two years were most difficult. .Isaac’s wife, Eliza, was done and wanted a divorce, not a simple thing at that time, but it was granted.
A new chapter began and Isaac married Hester Elvira Pool in 1852, known to all as “Aunt Vie.” That same year took them to California, had a gold claim get washed out in a flood, worked in Union City, and a few years later were hired by a wagon train needing blacksmith skills that were going to Salt Lake City.
Arriving in Salt Lake City in the fall of 1855, they found that flour was very scarce, due to the crickets getting most of the crops. Isaac and Vie sold their mules and wagon for flour and coal and went to work developing a blacksmith business, a skill needed wherever they lived. In Salt Lake City Isaac became assistant choir-master and helped organize the first Tabernacle Choir. His talents, his voice and love of music were also needed in all places.
After going east to St. Louis to help with some church matters Vie and Isaac returned to Salt Lake just in time for a move to Cache Valley with a group of settlers, some of Vie’s family among them. They arrived in Franklin in October of 1864.
Isaac went to work blacksmithing, in partnership with Shem Purnell and Alfred Alder. “I built a blacksmith shop and worked in my own shop until the Short Line Railroad reached Franklin; and while the terminus of the road was there, I built a shop at the terminus, working there until the railroad went farther north. I bought a lot from John Egbert across the street from the old shop and worked there until I retired from business. I turned the business over to my two sons, Isaac H. and David Nash.”
One of Isaac’s peers, Joseph Stone of Cub River, commented on Isaac’s talents. “Gosh he wrote some purty hymns. We used to sing his songs all the time. There was one song he used to sing when he was in prison for polygamy in 1885. He made it up and sang it to console himself while incarcerated.”
Isaac’s voice often entertained those in the area. He wrote dozens of popular hymns and songs, poetry and plays. He taught his profession as an blacksmith to others. A piece of his iron work, Franklin’s first plow, is on display in the Franklin Relic Hall. A staunch church member, twice a year he walked or rode to Salt Lake City for church conference. Isaac Bartlett Nash passed away in 1907.