To date we have been unable to find any written history of the early life of David and Elizabeth Dorwart Sabin. I do have a record of their family - giving names, birth dates and places, and one of his father and mother, Joseph and Elizabeth Joslin Sabin and their children, which I obtained from my Grandmother, Sarah Elenor Sabin Francom, David's ninth child.
David was born March 31, 1807, in Cazenovia, Madison County, New York. He was the fifth child of a family of seven. David's patriarchal blessing gives his birth date and place the same as my Grandmother's record showed them. From an old newspaper clipping from a genealogist in New York, I have a little history of Cazenovia, which was settled in 1793. David's father, Joseph, was born 15 February 1773, and married 24 December 1795. He no doubt moved to this place soon after he was married, and was there at the time it was first settled.
Cazenovia is about forty miles east of Auburn, and about twenty miles southeast of Syracuse, New York. It was founded by a group of men sent from Holland to explore lands in America that would be suitable for settlement and was named after their agent, Theophilus Cazenovia, an Italian. The land was sold for $1.00 an acre, and $10.00 down, the balance to be paid as they sold their crops. Quoting from the historian, he says: "Peace, harmony and friendly feelings and cheerfulness prevailed. At town meetings all business went on without jealousy or strife. The beautiful Cazenovia, the admiration of all travelling strangers, lies on a beautiful plain, embraced by the Lake Owaghchegah." Daniel Webster is credited with having once stated that Cazenovia was the most beautiful village he had ever seen.
Now, the question in my mind for many years has been, "How did David, who lived in central New York, happen to meet Elizabeth Dorwart, who lived in Lancaster, which is in southeast Pennsylvania, and quite a distance apart, especially for travel in those early days?"
The Sabins were farmers, and as the company which founded Cazenovia Valley took all kinds of produce and cattle for payment on the land they sold once or twice a year for nearly twenty years, they sent off their surplus cattle and sold them along the way. The genealogist, I.M. Charlton, suggested that the company might have followed the Susquehanna River, which flows almost due south from Cazenovia, taking their cattle as far as Lancaster, a farming community close to the river. One of the Sabin boys might have accompanied them as a drover.
About 1961 Fred Sabin, the youngest child of Ambrose Sabin (who is the oldest son of David) visited relatives in Payson and Salem, and brought back a copy of a letter that my Grandmother had written to her neice, which is as follows:
Helper, Utah, February 22, 1934
Mrs. M.E. Gough
Received your enquiry as to my parents and their nativity. My father was Scotch descent. His parents turned him adrift when he was seven years of age to make his way in New York,where he was born.
He drifted to Pittsburg, Penn., where he met the Dorwart family and fell in love with Elizabeth,the eldest of two daughters and four sons in a family of eight.
They were of the sturdy Dutch descent and came to be known as Pennsylvania Dutch because they held so tenaciously to their mother-tongue and being in the majority in population in that vicinity. Therefore the need to speak English was not so apparent until they finally moved to Utah in 1850 in October, a very cold season.
They moved to Payson in 1859 and remained there the remainder of his life. Father David Sabin was born in the state of New York in 1807. Mother Elizabeth Dorwart was born 1811 in Pennsylvania. About 1865 Father married Widow Ott, the mother of fifteen children who survived both Father and Mother.
Trusting this will answer your enquiry, I am as ever
(signed) Sarah Elenor Francom
Then in April of 1963, I received the following information from Mrs. Alice P. Noble, of Omaha, Nebraska, a relative of the Josiah Sabin family:
Published in Cazenovia:
"David Sabin - runaway apprentice, age 14. Advertised 12 June 1821 by Rocwell Beckwith."
"In 1800 Census of Cazenovia, J. Sabin is listed with 2, 1, -1 and 3, -1, -1. There was a Beckwith two doors from J., which might have some relationship to David."
On September 25, 1963, a letter from Elva Dorwart Darmstaetter, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, stated that the Librarian there wanted to know if Brigham Young or any of the early Mormons had passed through Lancaster. She went on to state:
"You know, my Great Grandfather (John Dorwart, born 1796, and a cousin of Elizabeth Dorwart who married David Sabin) did have an Inn or Tavern at Prince and James Streets which was the main highway between Harrisburg and Philidelphia."
I have been corresponding with this Elva Dorwart Darmstaetter since 1937. She answered an ad that Theresa Sabin Scott put in the Lancaster paper, asking all Dorwarts to get in touch with her. She obtained a genealogist for us who got our Dorwart line back to the immigrant ancestor. She descends from the first wife of Martin Dorwart, Jr. and his second wife, Maria Joanetta Spitzfadden. We visited with the Darmstaetters in September 1952, staying overnight in their home. They took us around Lancaster some during the afternoon. Probably the most outstanding place we visited was the old Lutheran Church, the one she said that the Dorwarts have attended since coming to America. The old graves have been moved from the church yard, so we didn't get to look over any of the head stones.
From this letter of my Grandmother to her niece, we can see that David was no doubt put out as an apprentice at a very young age. He was just seven years old when his mother died. He evidently became dissatisfied with his employer, Rocwell Beckwith, and left without letting him know where he was going. He probably didn't even let his father know. This, no doubt, is the reason why we know so little about his parents' family and that of his ancestry.
A letter from Elmer Sabin (a great grandson of David), dated March 3, 1964, states that, "My father Henry Sabin (son of David Dorwart Sabin) told me that David was bound out to a man who ill greated him, so he left with resentment against his father for having bound him out. It may be possible, I only guess, that he learned some of the arts of blacksmithing from this Beckwith."
We have nothing more definite of David from his birth until his marriage the 19th of February 1832 to Elizabeth Dorwart. They were married in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the place where Elizabeth was born, and where the Dorwarts had lived for three generations. She was born May 31, 1811, the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Hoffman Dorwart. Her Grandfather and Great Grandfather, both named Martin Dorwart according to the Pennsylvania Archives, were from Lorette, France (on the Loir River). But because they sopke the German (or Deutsch) language, they no doubt were from Germany. One genealogist gives their birth places as Bretten, Baden, Germany.
Elizabeth's Grandfather, Martin Dorwart, Jr., was born 30 April 1735, and died 21 June 1797. He fought in the Revolutionary War; records show that he was "Private in First Class, 15 August 1782."
David and Elizabeth lived in Lancaster after their marriage for about eleven or twelve years, as their first six children were born there: Elizabeth, Ambrose, Henry, Daniel (who lived only about two years), David, and Mary Ann.
When we visited Lancaster in September of 1952, one hundred and twenty years after their marriage, at the home of our distant cousin Elva Dorwart Darmstaetter, she told us of a group of Mormons who had come to Lancaster in the early days of our Church to form a farming community, but for some reason they didn't seem to make a go of farming and soon left. It may have been at this time that David and Elizabeth first heard of the Gospel, as Elizabeth was baptized there about 1842, and David was baptized October 15, 1843. Their sixth child, Mary Ann, was born in Lancaster 31 May 1843. (Mrs. Darmstaetter had never heard of David and Elizabeth prior to our correspondence with her.) David's obituary states that he emigrated to Nauvoo in 1844, and that he was ordained a High Priest the same year.
David and Elizabeth and their family no doubt lived in and around Nauvoo two years and shared the sufferings of the saints before they started westward. We feel sure that David must have helped in the building of the Nauvoo Temple because of his mechanical ability, and they both took out their endowments there 20 January 1846. They didn't come west with the first group of Saints in 1847, as their next child, Anna Maria, was born in July 1846 in St. Louis, Missouri, and their eighth child, Parley Pratt, was born 20 Oct 1848, in Clinton County, Illinois, while they were on their way West. David's obtiuary states that he came to Salt Lake in 1850.
Their ninth child, Sarah Eleanor (my grandmother) was born in Salt Lake City 24 January 1851, in a wagon where they were still living. Their next two children, Amanda Catherine, who was born 8 January 1854 and Lydia Deseret, who was born 28 September 1857, were also born in Salt Lake City. The baby was named after the state of "Deseret" as Utah was then called, and the family called her "Little Desie".
The 1850 Census of Great Salt Lake County, Utah, lists the following: "David Sabin 45 N.Y. a blacksmith; Elizabeth 39 Penn.; Elizabeth 18 Penn.; Ambrose 16 Penn.; Henry 14 Penn.; David 10 Penn.; Mary A. 7 Penn.; Ann M. 4 Mo.; Parley P. 2 Ill.; Sarah E. 3/12 Des." There seems to be some errors in the ages listed, according to the family record, and Parley's family show that he was born in Iowa instead of Illinois. (Illinois is probably the correct birth place of Parley P. - June Lofgreen)
From "Heart Throbs of the West", Vol. 3, p. 124, we find the following:
"David Sabin was a gunsmith by trade, and soon after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley he set up a shop to repair guns. Later he enlarged his shop so that he manufactured some cap and ball revolvers and muzzle- loading rifles or muskets. His shop was taken over by the Territorial Government at the time of the Utah War, and enlarged to supply guns for the militia. While the army was being held back most of the people moved South and established themselves in small settlements."
During this "Move South" in the fall of 1857, when the United States (Johnston's) Army threatened to take over Salt Lake City, David and his family moved to Payson, about sixty-five miles south of Salt Lake City. We do not have the exact date, but it must have been soon after their baby, "Little Desie", was born, probably in November after Ambrose had taken out his endowments. I found on the headstone of Lydia Deseret Sabin in the Payson Cemetery that she died "1 Year, 7 Months, in Payson, Utah", so we know they were living in Payson at this time.
From "Memories of my Grandparents" by Estella Elenor Francom Huber:
"I can remember hearing my grandparents tell that many of the pioneers had fixed their homes ready to set fire and burn them should Johnston's Army come through to destroy or take over their homes. They, no doubt, remembered the mobbings they had gone through before they left Nauvoo and crossed the plains, and were filled with fear of the soldiers.
"Here in Payson, Grandfather built a comfortable home - two rooms at first. By the time I was old enough to remember, he had built two more rooms and a room upstairs.
"Their home was about seven long blocks from our home. I used to like to visit my Grandparents. Their home was built of adobe as I remember it, with a large chimney on the outside.
"As Grandfather was a mechanic, he built a machine shop on the south side of their home, where he kept all kinds of tools to fix guns and other things they used in those days. He made the first nails in Utah. The nails were square in shape, tapering off at the end, and with a square head on the top for the hammer to hit..
"He would open his shop early in the mornings, and I remember watching the Indians come there to get their guns repaired, and while they were waiting they would wrap themselves in their large blankets and lay on the east porch in the sun to keep themselves warm.
"I do not remember my mother talking about how her parents happened to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Their oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was born November 10, 1832. She was married in 1848, while they were crossing the plains when she was only sixteen years old to Frederick Froerer. They made their home in Ogden, Utah, which was too far away from Payson for me to know much about them. I do remember that my Father's second wife went to Aunt Elizabeth's home in Ogden for her first child to be born.
"In their new home in Payson, David and Elizabeth had nine children to care for in those two rooms, but how wonderful it seemed to them after having lived in a wagon for so long! I have heard my mother tell that food was very scarce those first few months. At times they hardly had enough to keep their body and soul together. Their main diet was bread and molasses and the segoes they dug from the foothills. The segoes looked like small onions, but were very tender and sweet.
"Grandfather was of a very industrious disposition, so the first opportunity he had he sent back East for fruit trees to plant on his large city lot. I can remember that he had several kinds of apples, peaches, pears and plums. He also had strawberries and several kinds of currants.
"After a few years he had plenty of apples for all his neighbors. There were so many apples that my Father, Samuel Francom, would take up children in the evenings to pick up the apples that had fallen during the day. We would sort out the best ones and save for winter months. Our cellar was small and would not hold very many. I have pleasant memories of my Mother during the long winter evenings setting a pan of apples out for us to eat while we studied.
"Besides his fruit trees, Grandfather always had a good vegetable garden, with just about every kind that would grow in that country. As soon as the weather would be warm enough in the spring, he would prepare the ground and plant potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, peas, stringbeans, onions, horseradish, and other vegetables.
"He was a great lover of flowers, and one of my sweetest memories of him is seeing him in his beautiful flower garden. He sent back East to get a variety of rose bushes and seeds. His rose garden was on the north side of the house, planted in rows far enough apart so he could get around each one to keep the weeds our, and so they would be easy to pick. There were all colors and kinds of roses. Not many people grew roses then, so Grandfather gave lots of them to everyone who would ask for them. No one thought of buying flowers in those days. He planted his pansies and violets close to the large chimney where he was going to have a fireplace. He had a path all around his house bordered with flowers. The tulips and flags were on the west side of his house.
"Grandfather was very kind to all animals. I can remember that he would not even kill a toad. He marked some of them with paint and carried them several blocks from his garden, but some of them found their way back to his garden.
"When I was old enough, Mother would let me go to Grandma Sabin's to help her with the fruit in the summer. She would have me help peel and core the apples. Then I would get up on the house where the sun was real hot to put the apples to dry. Of course, I wore a hat or bonnet. I can remember how tired I would get working at this all day, and if I complained, Grandma would say, 'Children never get tired'. I was always glad when the apples and peaches were all dried and ready to sell. They would send them to Salt Lake City where people were glad to buy them."
Some of David and Elizabeth's boys helped work in the building of the Salt Lake Temple. We know that Ambrose and Parley helped from the stories their children can remember. Parley tells that he hauled rocks from the canyon for the Salt Lake Temple, and Ambrose told his children that he helped carry the mortar while the temple was being built, working along with Brigham Young, Jr. at times.
From the description of some of his grandchildren who can remember him, David Sabin was about six feet tall, with blue eyes and medium brown hair. He was of average build. Elizabeth was small in stature and build, about a head shorter than David, with blue eyes and straight, dark brown hair. She always wore a dark lace cap, which was the style in those days. David was more of a jovial and humorous disposition, while Elizabeth was more serious.
They expected their children and grandchildren to mind when spoken to. They were both of a religious nature and followed the teachings of their faith to the best of their ability, and made every effort possible to teach their children and grandchildren to live righteously and to be good citizens.
One of their outstanding qualities was their thriftiness. They learned to get along on what little they had, and never wasted anything that was useful. Elizabeth's Patriarchal Blessing states: "Thy economy shall be a blessing to thy family." One of their old sayings they passed on to their children and grandchildren was: "Willful waste makes woe for want."
Another outstanding quality of both of them was their industriousness. They were always busy trying to make their home beautiful and pleasant for their family, and to earn a livelihood. While David worked hard in his machine shop, he taught his boys this trade, besides raising their fruit and vegetables in his garden.
Elizabeth spent many long hours making the clothes for her family. They wove their own cloth and did their sewing by hand. They canned their fruit by making preserves to keep it for their winter supply, besides drying what they could. She taught daughters and granddaughters these arts of homemaking.
Their grandson, David H. Sabin, now of Mesa, Arizona, (son of Parley), writes this: "He made the first nail factory in the state of Utah. He also made the cap and ball pistol, the first of its kind. As he was not able to pay for the patent on it, he sold it to another man who patented it and Grandfather never received the credit for having invented this pistol. He also made a compressed air gun, when, when you pushed the plunger down fast, (it) would compress the air in the bottom of the cylinder, and going through a small hole in the bottom, would start a spark of fire in a small box that mashed back and would start a fire easily, and that was his matches."
Grandfather also made a truss for hernia that when worn would cause the hernia (to) grow smaller until it was healed.
His other ventures were in the form of machinery to make molasses. He made a sorghum mill, and made molasses for the town.
Their granddaughter, Theresa Sabin Scott, daughter of Parley Sabin, tells that her father when a boy, while oiling the cogs of the machine tumbler, caught his shirt sleeve in one of the cogs and he went around with the tumbler. His older brother, David, took a large knife and cut the band and stopped it, but Parley's leg was broken. This caused him to have one leg shorter than the other the rest of his life. Theresa also remembers her father telling her that his father had a grist mill to grind corn.
Parley told this story to his children: His father would challenge him and his little sister, Ella, and others to run a race, barefoot in the snow, from home to the blacksmith shop, which was about two blocks away.
Quoting again from "Heart Throbs of the West", Vol. 3, p. 214:
"David Sabin Jr.'s folks had moved to Payson. He was sixteen years old at this time. He joined them and made his home there. His father had begun to build a machine shop on the Payson Creek. Among the machines was one made for cutting nails. The knife for it was bought in the East, but all the (other) parts were made by hand. This plant gave David much work. His father hammered out the iron into long, flat pieces, varying in width and thickness, according to the length and size of the nails to be made.
"David Jr. guided the iron under the powerful knife that cut the nails. He became so used to the movement of the machine that he could run his hand in and out between the strokes of the knife without being in danger of having it cut. One day while some Indian braves were watching him cut nails, he did this to show them how well he could keep in time with the movements of the cutting knife. As he left to get another hot iron which his father had shaped, one of the young braves tried the same act. To his sorrow he drew it back with the end cut off just the width of a nail. He grasped the injured finger in his other hand and slowly walked away.
"In the early stages of this nail-making business the nails had to be picked up one at a time, placed in a clamp, and headed by striking with a large hand hammer. Later David Sabin Sr. invented a device that caught the nails as they came sliding down a chute, clamped them and headed them all by machinery.
"At the first Territorial Fair held in Salt Lake City, some of these nails were on exhibit and won the first prize. A silver medal was awarded David Sabin, bearing the following inscription: 'Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society - First Prize Medal', and on the other side the following: 'Awarded to David Sabin for the best specimen of cut nails at the First Annual Exhibition, G.S.L. City, October 1856.'
"Many of the old army wagons were purchased and the iron made into nails. The iron axles and other heavy pieces were used in this way. Indians came to the shop of David Sabin Sr. because he was a gunsmith who repaired their guns.
"The Sabin family afterwards moved to Salem where David, the son, purchased land and built a home. The water from the grist mill ran through some of the low land he had purchased. The nail cutter in Payson was run by the same means, so David decided to use the water again for power. David built a dam across the hollow that extended through his piece of low land. A large water wheel was built and connected to it were other wheels and wooden cog wheels and pulleys, until a machine was built that could saw lumber, make pickets, cut shingles, and grind out juice of cane to make into sorghum. A blacksmith shop was built where all kinds of repair was done for farm machinery, as well as shoeing of horses, and making of new labor-saving devices.
"One of these was a simple contraption he made that would cut plums and prunes in halves, and at the same time drive the stone down through a small hole into a bucket. The plums or prunes were brushed off into another recep-tacle. He made a hand drill that we called the "Breast Drill'. It consisted of a piece of wood like the end of a carpenter's brace into which was fastened a rod so that it could turn freely. On this rod was set a large spool and into the end of the rod an opening was cut that would hold a drill bit. A thumb screw held the bit firmly into place. A long steel bow, with a wide buck string fastened loosely from end to end, served to make the drill rotate when the bow was drawn back and forth, and the spool would rotate back and forth. This rotated the drill and so made a useful device for drilling small holes into iron or wood."
From Volume 2 of "Heart Throbs", pages 88-91:
"When Brigham Young issued a prolamation asking all the people who could to raise silk worms, David Sabin was willing to try. He bought mulberry trees and planted them where they could be used for shade trees around the house. There were not very many shade trees in Salem, Utah at this time as it was a new settlement.
"After the trees had grown large enough to be of use, he purchased silk worm eggs. He built long tables upstairs in their unfinished rooms. The mulberry leaves were picked from the trees and laid on the tables. The eggs had been hatched by this time and the worms began to eat the leaves. The worms grew very rapidly. Fresh leaves were spread on the tables every day. It was not long until the worms began to find a place on the unfinished timbers and start to spin their cocoons. A tiny silken thread came out of their mouths, and weaving their head back and forth and around. they formed a complete wall around themselves.
"They were not too successful in this undertaking; and as they had a sawmill and also made molasses for the people on shares, and with a farm to take care of also, they did not think it paid to raise them, so they only raised them for one year.: (Written by Thelma Sabin Tidwell)
Elmer Sabin of Salem, son of Henry and grandson of David Dorwart Sabin, in a lettter dated March 3, 1964, writes the following: "Regarding the Indians who came to the shop: They were very friendly. My Dad says he rode behind Old Ponawatts on his horse; so if he did, other children must have had the same experience.
"I remember the sawmill and molasses mill, and was fed skimming off the vat. The gears were made of pine and maple wood. I have tried to find a picture of it, but have failed to do so.
"The Breast Drill was as described. I saw it when but a lad.
"David D. Sabin was called out in the Echo Canyon War.
"David Sabin was an excellent workman. I remember seeing two stamps he made to mark his tools - one would be heated to brand his pitchforks or other tools with wooden handles very neatly, 'D. Sabin'. The other was of high grade steel and would mark metal. The last I heard of them they were owned by my uncle David Sabin (son of David Dorwart Sabin).
"Some of the mulberry trees were standing last summer that were planted by David Sabin.
"I also have driven cut nails that were like those mentioned. It might be that they were made in this factory. My father got them from David D. Sabin, his father.
"Back to the molasses, which was the answer to the craving for sweets for the early pioneers. It was used on mush, mixed with grease, and bread was dunked or fried in it. Sugar came in later. When we used to haul fruit into Sanpete County the people there would ask, 'Where are you from? Salem - you mean Pondtown. We used to get that good old Pondtown Molasses.' Most of the older prople would greet us like that, and you may guess how we young boys would react and boast: 'That was my Grandfather!"
David died the 31st of May 1882 at the age of seventy-five in Payson, and is buried in the Payson Cemetery. Elizabeth lived nine years longer in the old home with her children and grandchildren helping to care for her. She died at the age of eighty, on the 17th of August 1891, at the home of another daughter, Ella Francom. She is also buried in the Payson Cemetery.
OBITUARY OF DAVID SABIN
(Copied from the "Deseret News". Wednesday, June 1882, Page 35)
Death of Inventive and Mechanical Genius at Payson, Utah County, Utah, on the 31st day of May, David Sabin departed this life.
He was a man of rather remarkable inventive ability. In 1842 he received a United States patent for a Truss.
He manufactured the first reaper and mower in Utah, and the machinery for manufacturing revolving pistols and rifles about the year 1854. Shortly afterwards he made the necessary machine for and turned out the square cut nails in Utah, for which he received a silver medal inscribed on the side thus:
"Awarded to David Sabin for the best speciman of cut nails at the first annual exhibit, G.S.L. City, October 1856." On the other side was the Bee Hive and Deseret Agricultural and Manufacturing Society. He also received a diploma for the first molasses made in Utah. The deceased was born March 31, 1807 in Madison County, New York. He was baptized October 15, 1843; emigrated to Nauvoo in 1844; was ordained a High Priest the same year.
He shared the suffering of the saints in their expulsion from Nauvoo, arriving at Salt Lake in 1850. The move from the North caused his location in Payson, where he remained until his decease.
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This history, with what information we have been able to gather about David and Elizabeth Dorwart Sabin and their children, has been printed in the hopes that it will get into the hands of many of their descendents and will implant in their hearts an appreciation of their Grandparents, for the great blessing they have given us by accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and following the saints out West where we could have the opportunity of living as our Heavenly Father wants us to live.
We also hope that it will create a desire in many to go on with the research of David and Elizabeth's ancestry, that the facts herein stated may be the means of helping them to determine their true and correct record so that their temple work and sealings may be completed. We invite others who may have additional history to send it to us to add to what we now have.
Sent by Eva H. Johnson
130 South Mesa Drive
Mesa, Arizona 85202
16 November 1979