Hole-in-the-Rock Landmarks and People

Hole-in-the-Rock Landmarks and People
Answers at bottom of the left column.

January 6, 2010

Perkins, Benjamin and Mary Ann Williams

Benjamin Perkins, son of Jane Matthews and William Perkins, was born Jan. 14, 1844 in Langyflach, Swansea, Wales.  At the age of six he began working in the coal mine with his father.
He became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and emigrated to the United States whe he was 17.  Utah was his destination.  He stopped along the way to do construction work on the Trans-contental Railroad near Omaha, Nebraska.,  This gave him the necessary means to complete his westward journey.He traveled by ox team to Utah and worked until he had sufficient money to send for his childhood sweetheart Mary Ann Williams.  They were married in Salt Lake City, Oct. 4, 1869 and made their home at Cedar City.  They lived there until called by the Church for the San Juan Mission in 1879.
Benjamin, along with his brother Ben were in charge of the rock work in making a road down the apparently impregnable cliff to the Colorado River (Saga of San Juan).  Children coming through Hole in the Rock with Ben and Mary Ann were: Mary Jane, Carolina Cardelia, Thurston, Catherine, Martha Naomi.

Benjamin Perkins and his brother Hyrum were key participants in the Hole in the Rock Expedition. At the Hole in the Rock, they were nicknamed "the blasters and blowers from Wales", due to their considerable experience with blasting powder. Before immigrating from the British Isles, they had worked for some time in the coal mines of Wales as forced child labor, where they gained the knowledge and experience to become indispensible to the expedition. They directed the major portion of the widening of the crack at the Hole. Because of working in the coal mines as a child, Benjamin never learned to read.
Ben also was apparently well known for his love of dancing, especially Welsh jigs, which he performed for entertainment of the expedition company.
It is thought that Benjamin's wagon was the first to go down throught the Hole he helped create, although he did not drive it himself. He let Kumen Jones do that for him!! Actually, it seems he did not trust his team, and preferred to hitch Kumen's well-broke team for the job (http://holeintherock.info/pioneers/Perkins.htm).

Christmas journal written by daughter Mary Jane Perkins (Wilson): December 25, 1880
"It was here at "Hole In The Rock" that we spent out first Christmas holidays. We children had no place only on the wagon wheels to hang our stockings. Nevertheless, old St. Nicholas visited us with parched corn and some cookies which were baked in the dutch ovens. However everybody was happy. We spent most of the day gathering sagebrush to build fires at night to dance by. It was not of course on waxed floors, nor wearing various colored pumps, but it was on the sand rocks and some were barefooted. Charles E. Walton was the orchestra. Sometimes he played the violin and other times the cornet. (http://stonecreekmarket.blogspot.com/2009/12/vintage-pioneer-christmas-story-8.html)

In 1891 Ben and Mary Ann and their children moved to Monticello.  Mary Ann had 10 children. The seven that grew to maturity were Mary Jane, Iatherine, Naomi, Daniel B., John, Ruth, Alvira, and a foster daughter, Cordelia Thurston. Ben engaged in farming, freighting and road work.  He was still active when death came at age 82 in Los Angeles, Calif.  Ben was the father of two large families. Sarah Williams, Mary Ann's sister, became his second wife. Their children were Mary Ellen, Beatrice, Sarah, Gladys, Ione, Irene, Alberta, Minerva, Vilate, and Leonard. (Many are pictured below.  Lell Perkins married Albert R. Lyman and after she died he married her sister Gladys Perkins.)

Benjamin is remembered for his loyalty to his Church and family, and for his love of music and his ability as an amateur entertainer, as well as for his practical judgment and boundless energy  (Saga of San Juan.)
Photos & article in SJ Record
(More information about Sarah in Blue Mountain Shadows Vol. 23 pp. 21-24)

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