Early Taggarts in Cache Valley
by Spencer L. Taggart
Taggart Family Newsletter, vol. XI (June 1992), 2–5

(Sources: Lorna England Bingham, "History of William Brigham Parkinson, Sr.," June 24,1962; Hazel Parkinson McAlister, Clarissa Taggart, no date; Clarissa McAlister Beutler, Hazel Parkinson McAlister, July 7,1981; Marva B. Tibbitts Karren, "Reminiscence," March, 1984; Morgan County Historical Society, "Morgan County School Buildings," 1989; Twila Van Leer (Deseret News medical writer), "The Short and Troubled Life of Utah’s First School of Medicine," Deseret News, August 26, 1984; "Life Sketch of Frederick Taggart," by Frederick Taggart, September, 1954; "Life History of Henry Milton Taggart," as dictated to Iva Brind, by Henry Milton Taggart, during the months of January through April, 1932.)

The first Taggart in Cache Valley was Clarissa, first child of George Washington and Clarissa Marina Rogers Taggart.

Clarissa and her husband, Dr. William B. Parkinson, moved to Logan in 1885. She was followed the next year (1886) by her sister Julia, who married William H. Lewis of Lewiston. Ten years later (1896), their sister Alice married John Wesley Bright, also of Lewiston. Three brothers—Marcus, Frederick and James—followed in 1897, 1899, and 1900, respectively, to settle in Lewiston, too.

Born in Salt Lake City December 12, 1857, Clarissa had moved with her parents in 1864 to the Morgan Valley, eventually settling in Richville, where her father built and operated a grist mill, the first in Morgan County. The first settlers came to Richville in 1859 and by the time of the Taggarts’ arrival there was quite a settlement. That same year (1864), the first schoolhouse was built. It was of logs, 18 by 25 feet, with a large rock fireplace in one end. This is where Clarissa went to school. Being the first of thirteen children—three died in infancy—we can expect that Clarissa had much to do at home helping her mother care for her younger brothers and sisters.

Six days before her eighteenth birthday, Clarissa married (December 6, 1875) William B. Parkinson, to become his second wife. Two years earlier, at the age of twenty-one, he had married Elizabeth Bull, whom he had come to know and love while working on her father’s farm in Morgan. We know nothing about how Clarissa met William and Elizabeth, but we can believe they were a satisfactory threesome, as Elizabeth and Clarissa lived together while their husband was in England on a mission and later while he attended Rush Medical School in Chicago.

Elizabeth and Clarissa were married to a young man with lots of drive and promising capacity. Born in England, young William (age five) emigrated to America in 1857 with his parents, who had joined the Mormon Church. His mother died that same year in St. Louis. His father remarried and moved to Oregon, where he died five years later (1862). Young William lived with his step-mother until he was twelve. Treated sternly and harshly by her, he decided to strike out on his own. He stopped in Helena (Montana) to see his father’s friend, John Chapman, a rancher. Chapman adopted William and sent him to school. When William was fifteen, Mr. Chapman died.

William worked at whatever he could find, making his way through Wyoming and Idaho, arriving in Utah when her was sixteen. It was in Morgan where he found work on Daniel Bull’s farm and where he also stayed.

After working on the farm all day, William studied telegraphy, shorthand, and photography at night. The next year the Union Pacific gave William work in its Morgan station as night operator and train dispatcher. This is when he married Elizabeth, Mr. Bull’s daughter. When their baby Lillian was six weeks old, William moved his family to Granger (Wyoming), where they livid in the Union Pacific station and he was the telegraph operator. They returned to Morgan in 1875 and that same year he married Clarissa Taggart.

When Elizabeth had four children—three daughters and a son, Clarissa two children—a son and a daughter, William was called on a LDS Church Mission (May, 1879), to England. He served about a year-and-a-half, and was released early as he was suffering so with rheumatism.

While he was away, Clarissa and Elizabeth lived together, doing the best they could to care for themselves and their children. They also received help from their fathers. The day before William’s return, Clarissa buried her two children who had died of scarlet fever.

William had returned interested in medicine and began to study with Dr. Frederick S. Kohler, a Pennsylvanian, who had arrived in Morgan in 1879. Kohler had degrees from the Eclectic Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and the Medical College of Ohio in Cincinnati and had practiced in Ohio and Indiana. Kohler has the distinction of having established (1880) the first Medical School in Utah. It graduated its first class in 1882. Despite growing plans for the School, as announced in 1882, it soon came under criticism in the Salt Lake City press and by certain of that city’s physicians. The School was accused of many shortcomings, such as cutting the three-year term of medical training to a two-year term. Our William, who by then had become Bishop Parkinson of the North Morgan Ward, rebutted the criticism. But the School soon closed.

William continued his study of medicine, going to Chicago to earn a degree from Rush Medical College.

Clarissa and Elizabeth banded together again to take care of themselves and their children. Clarissa by then had a daughter, Leona, born August 9, 1881, and a son, George Taggart, born December 27, 1883.

After tentative efforts to establish himself in Coalville and in Farmington (Utah), Dr. Parkinson moved with his two families to Logan in 1885, where he established a very successful practice, becoming a highly respected physician and community leader. His practice took him all over Cache Valley. His horse and buggy, and later his automobile, became a common sight. He was always trying to improve his skills and knowledge. In 1914, for example, he attended a medical convention in London. He then went to Vienna where he completed a post-graduate course in diseases of the eye, ear, and throat. He was the first Logan physician to specialize. He owned the first x-ray machine in Logan and he maintained and operated a small hospital for many years. He did much charity work and never refused to take a case. Several of his sons became physicians. Many of his daughters helped with his office work, cleaning up, and nursing. One daughter recalled going with him to deliver a baby, his ninth in the family, without ever having been paid for any of them.

In 1886, William married Edith Benson, daughter of Apostle Ezra Taft Benson, Sr. Four years later (1890) he married Margaret Wallace Sloan. He took good care of his wives and twenty-four children. He maintained four homes in Logan. William died November 9, 1920, from complications of the dread flu of the time.

Clarissa and Dr. Parkinson had seven children: Albert Woffinden (lived three years nine months), Clarissa (lived one year seven months), Leona, George Taggart, Marcus Taggart, Hazel, and Mary Alice. The latter and her baby died February 6, 1920 of the flu, leaving two young sons. She was twenty-nine. Leona had eight children. She gave birth to twin boys; both died in infancy. George Taggart also had eight children. The last, a daughter lived only eighteen months. George was a physician. Marcus Taggart had six children. A daughter died when she was a year old. Hazel had four children. The first two, sons, lived only a short time. Her third, a daughter, lived almost two years. Her fourth, Clarissa (Clixie) McAlister Beutler, had five children. Four live to have families of their own.

My wife and I find the Logan City Cemetery a beautiful place to walk. Many times we have stood at Clarissa Taggart Parkinson’s grave. It has a very simple marker (10 x 16 inches)—"Clarissa T. Parkinson 1903." Clarissa was forty-five (December 12, 1857–July 15 1903).

The graves of William B. Parkinson, Elizabeth Bull, and Edith Benson are identified with like markers. I have not located the grave of Dr. Parkinson’s fourth wife, Margaret Wallace Sloan.

Clarissa’s daughter, Hazel, was thirteen when her mother died. Hazel wrote this about her mother: ". . . I remember very little of her life . . . I do know we were a very happy family. Her brothers and sisters have always spoken of her as a wonderful woman. She was a favorite with younger people . . . My mother died . . . very unexpectedly while my father was in Chicago doing post graduate work."

Frederick Taggart, according to his autobiography, attended the Utah State Agricultural College 1896–97, and while there lived with his sister Clarissa. He did chores for his board. Dr. Parkinson gave him a letter of recommendation to Professor J. H. Paul to help him get started. Frederick was Clarissa Rogers’ youngest child. When Frederick married Eulalie Leavitt December 17, 1902 (Logan Temple), he and his new bride stayed that night at his sister’s (Clarissa’s) home in Logan.

Clarissa’s brother Henry, in his life history, spoke of staying with her. After his father’s (GWT) death, Henry was on his way to live with his brother Albert (Uncle Dick) in Star Valley. As it would be Henry’s first separation from his older brother James, the latter decided to accompany him part way. They saddled their horses and rode as far as Logan the first day. Henry’s account: "We spent the night with our older sister Clarissa, a wonderful sister she was. We enjoyed the night with her and our visit. The next morning we separated, he [James] returned back home to Richville, and I continued my journey to Star Valley."

About 1897 Henry attended Brigham Young College in Logan and with his sister. Clarissa "was kind and big hearted. Dr. Parkinson "arranged the term for me at the school."

When Henry completed his mission in the Southern States (1899–1901), he took his wife and young son to Lewiston to stay with his brother James while he looked for work. James and Henry had married sisters (Valeria and Mary Laird). While in Lewiston, Henry received word from his nephew, Charles Taggart (George Henry’s son) that he had a job for him helping build the Logan sugar factory. Henry’s account: "I immediately went to Logan and while there I stayed with my sister, Clarissa Parkinson. She was one of those big hearted, kind, and lovable sisters that was willing to help her brother . . ."

Henry stayed at his sister’s about two weeks, when he returned to Salt Lake City to accept a job offer from his father-in-law.

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