Pioneer Christmas


| November/December 1964



Mendon, Utah

Christmas being established as a universal holiday and observed down through the centuries of time in commemoration of the birth of the Saviour was celebrated by the Saints. The early settlers of the intermountain region encountered some difficulty in appeasing the hearts of their children on this eventful day. Most families were very poor in circumstances.

An old prospector who had followed the band of pioneers and joined the gold rush of 49' had returned to Salt Lake Valley apparently successful. He presented a typical case of despondency with his long kept hair and beard and clothing improvised by himself. He shunned Society and refused to associate with other people. He made his abode in a natural cave in a rugged ravine east of the pioneer village.

The settlers let him go his way and paid but little attention to him, passing him on as just one of the many failures of the California Gold diggers and he became known as 'Old Sagwaw'. He was seldom seen on the streets except when he came down to the Co-op store to purchase his supply of tobacco and coffee, together with a small bag of flour. He then disappeared, never to be seen again for at least a week. For a companion he kept a large black Saint Bernard dog.

The children of a widowed mother who had lost her husband in an Indian raid at a camp as the pioneer band journeyed westward, discovered the rendezvous of the old hermit as they were strolling the hills for wild flowers in early June. Nature furnished all the trimmings and the little cabin frontage was adorned most beautifully in various colors of wild flowers and vines as the June sun beamed so brightly on that beautiful morning in early summer.

The place could never have been found only for the black smoke that hurled from the quaint chimney. They decided at once it was 'Old Sagwaw's' home and as they had heard wierd stories about the mysterious character they feared to come nearer. The dog barked immediately, the old shaggy man peered out to ascertain the reason for the dog's barking. As he shaded his eyes to scan the horizon he saw the small children. Bobbie and Vernice. He bade them to come down closer and the children noting the kind and pleading words, banished their fears and went over and greeted the tottering old man.