A History of Mannie Pickett

By Roger S. Porter, a grandson


Mannie Pickett was born on the 4th of January, 1876 to nineteen year old Maria Louisa Pickett, a pioneer girl.  His father was 54-year-old William Gill Mills, a family mentor and friend who, with his wife, Louisa Avelina Sleater, had raised Maria Louisa after her mother’s murder five and one-half years before.


Mannie’s mother, Maria Louisa Pickett

Maria Louisa’s father, George Pickett (Piggot), migrated with his family and 350 other members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to America on the ship Emerald Isle, leaving the Port of Liverpool, England, on the 28th and sailing on the 30th of November 1855.  Their migration was presided over by President Philemon C. Merrill, with Elder Joseph France and Thomas H. B. Stenhouse assisting. The family settled temporarily in St. Louis, where George died of smallpox, five months after Maria Louisa’s birth, 28 Nov. 1856, in St. Louis. 


Her mother, Priscilla (Priscella) Clark, had married George after the death of his first wife, Maria Jarvis, and had assumed motherhood over his three children, James, Mary, and Jane.  George and Priscilla had a 14-month-old daughter, Louise or Louisa, who died shortly after the Picketts arrived in America, and loving the name Louisa, named their new daughter Maria Louisa Pickett. 


After George’s death, Priscilla moved the family to Toole, Utah and became a second wife to George’s brother, Wm. Armstrong Pickett, who had come to assist her in the move.  Then, pregnant with his child but disillusioned with plural marriage, left him and the half-siblings of Maria Louisa, and took Maria Louisa with her to Gilroy, California, south of San Francisco, where George was born in 1861. 


William Gill Mills and his wife, Louisa Avelina, had migrated to Gilroy and were family friends.  His history is also on this site.  W.G. Mills, in his testimony at Priscilla's coroner's inquest in 1869, says she lived with him in 1859-60 for twelve months.


Jane was the only of Maria Louisa’s Pickett half siblings to survive to adulthood and has a large posterity.  Her history is on this web site.


On June 30, 1862, Priscilla married William Wilford in Carson City, Nevada. She cared for Maria Louisa, George and the three more children she had from William Wilford even after Wilford died of smallpox.  In 1869 Priscilla was murdered in Reno, Nevada, and 12-year-old Maria Louisa went with at least one half sister to California to live with friends of the family from England, William G. and Louisa Avelina Mills. 


Mannie’s Birth and Childhood

Seven years later, after the Mills family had moved back to Park City, Utah, Maria Louisa became pregnant with Mannie and Maria Louisa moved out of the home and had her child in Granite, Salt Lake City. 


Maria Louisa met, married and was sealed a polygamous wife to Cyrus Ammon Tolman, 12 Dec 1878, and almost three-year-old Mannie had a father and other family members in the home.  On 7 January 1880, four-year-old Mannie had a little sister, Mary Elizabeth Tolman, and on 11 June 1882, the family increased with a brother, George Orian Tolman.  Joe Preston, at Mannie’s funeral, remarked, “His mother was married in Polygamy and during the time when the Saints were so persecuted she was forced to go into hiding for over a year – leaving her young children in the care of others.” (Mannie Pickett funeral manuscript in possession of Roger Porter, 2003)


Disenchanted with her own polygamous marriage, just as her mother had been, perhaps complicated by the polygamy persecutions, Maria Louisa divorced Cyrus Ammon Tolman.  Joe Preston’s narrative continues: “Brother Pickett lived in Tooele, Utah, with his widowed (divorced) mother until he was six years old. At that time he and his mother along with many old time residents of the Oakley valley came to Cassia County.  Times were difficult and it was quite a chore for his mother to make a living and care for a small son.”  Her photo with the two Tolman children and Mannie at age 8 is on this web site, indicating she had all three children with her, at least part of the time.


In his early teens, Mannie helped support his mother.  Preston continues:  “Brother Pickett went to work at an early age – going to the Grouse Creek country to work for a prominent farmer and stockman.  At one time he spent over a year away from home while he was still a very young boy.  Of necessity he was forced to get his education between jobs.  Brother Pickett helped move cattle from this valley to the upper Snake River country.  He loved to go for rides where the Palisades Dam and reservoir are now located and point out the places where they had camped and herded their horses.  He often told about starting home alone on horseback after one of these trips.  Farms were far apart and places to stay were hard to find.  He stopped at one place and asked to stay---the farmer invited him to stay and then asked if he was a Mormon.  When he told him he was, he was told to move on.  However, the lady of the house felt sorry to see such a young boy out alone that she persuaded her husband to let him stay the night.”  Mannie told us as children about leaving home around this time to go on long cattle drives. One area he herded horses was on the east bench above “Lyman Town” Idaho, called Windy Ridge, east of Rexburg, according to Lois Pond.


On 1 June 1893 married George Franklin Read, when Mannie was 17 and she was 36.  Franklin and Maria Louisa produced three more children: Robert Lock Read, born 20th of August, 1895; Waldemer Pickett Read, born 19th of July 1897; and Ulea Jane Read, born 26th of February, 1899. They lived in Twin Falls area and Maria Louisa is buried in the Marion Pioneer Cemetery.  Their posterity are represented on this web site.


Marriage and Family:

On 24th of December 1896, twenty-year-old Mannie married a nineteen-year-old convert girl from Flagpond, Tennessee, Dora Leona Briggs, daughter of Bulo Lee and Susan Gentry Briggs.  At her funeral, H. O. Hall remarked:  “And it was when she was only a girl of 12 that the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ was brought to their family and was accepted, and they joined the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in that year.  Then a short time after they joined the church, they moved to North Carolina for reasons which to them were very important.  It was in 1891 that the family came to this state (Idaho).   They were met and taken up to Oakley where they went to the home of Brother A. Bates…(who) had been a missionary down South.  They made their home with the Bates’ for a short time until they were able to acquire a little home. There were not the comforts there that they had been accustomed to.  But in that home, instead of comforts, they had love and appreciation.  In their prayers they thanked God for this great land of liberty and freedom. They learned to love the Lord their God all the days of their lives.  Mannie, her husband, lived in the same vicinity.”  (Funeral manuscript in possession of Roger Porter 2003)


 Bulo took a school teaching position in Oakley.  Bulo and Susie had joined the LDS Church on 14 September 1890 and were endowed October 9, 1896, just prior to Dora and Mannie’s marriage.  Dora was born 19 Oct 1877 and had joined the LDS Church at almost 14, 11 Oct 1891, the same year they moved to Idaho.  Zella Vietta was born 14 September 1897.  The next spring Mannie was called on a mission to the Southern States, and Dora and Mannie received their endowments and were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple, 4 April 1898, just prior to his departure.


Mannie departed 11 April 1898, and left his seven months old baby Zella and Dora four months pregnant with Arilla.   Mannie became ill on his mission and was extended a release and returned home a month later, on 8 May 1898. H. O. Hall notes that he was able to labor “…in Mississippi and then in Tennessee, where he was able to go to the place where his wife had grown up.”   His mission photo is available on this web site.


Arilla LaFloore was born 20 September 1898, followed by Bulo Enzley, 22 September 1900, and Ora Iona, called Dot, 3 January 1903, and Louisa, 14 November 1907.  All of these children were born in Marion, north west of Oakley, Idaho and south of Burley.    After Louisa’s birth the family moved in to homestead Burley Project, west of Burley, where Royal Elmo was born, 9 Jan 1910, and then the twins, Moscow Emanual, called Mike, and Roscow Briggs, called Pat, 3 October 1915.  The story is told that Mannie would not consult with Dora about names, but when giving the naming blessing in church, would spontaneously “follow inspiration” and thus the unusual names, much to Dora’s shock and dismay. Dot, Mike and Pat took things into their own hands and were known throughout their lives by a different moniker than their blessing name.  Joe Preston adds, “They endured the hardships of pioneering on this project when there was no water during the early years.  These pioneer families subsisted as best they could until water came to the project.”


Church Service

Some of those who served with them also spoke in their funerals.  Joe Preston remarked, “Brother Pickett was a member of the Mutual Presidency of the first Mutual Improvement Association when the original ward was organized in Burley.  He was also a member of the High Council when the first stake was organized in Burley.  He served in that capacity for many years.”  H. O. Hall added, “I am going to speak now for a moment of the great service that Dora has been in the church.  They both gave their all to it.  She was selected to be a counselor in the Relief Society.  In 1916, she was made President of the Second Ward Relief Society. When I came into her life more closely in 1924, she was President of the Relief Society. She was taken in as Stake President (of the Relief Society) in 1933, and held that position until 1941.  For almost 30 years, then, she has been working in the Relief Society.  I suppose only God can fully know the hours and the number of years she spent visiting the sick.  If one could only know the meals Mannie has prepared for himself, because his wife was away preparing meals for the less fortunate.  I am also aware of the fact that he drove the car for her to see that she kept her meetings and then waited to return her home again.  What a life of sacrifice and love that has been!  The evenings they spent together discussing things hand in hand. The things that really make life worthwhile.  The things that they were giving to other people!  All these things go through my mind when I think of such people as these to honor and pay tribute to.”  Then he commented on the family: “The love and loyalty they have for each other!  A more close family I do not know!  They are closely knit together, with a bond of love and understanding and appreciation. They have been with their parents and made a home for them in their later years.  I have never seen a family which was more devoted to their parents than this family.  They have been with their Mother in these last few months of her life.  And so I stand with bowed head in honoring them.”  Another speaker, J. D. Hoggan, added, “I know that she loved the Gospel and that she loved to serve the Lord.  Sister Pickett was an exceptional executive.  I have much appreciation for her.”


Last years

The family moved a small building behind Bill and Zella’s IGA food store in Declo where Mannie and Dora spent their last years.  Pat and Maudie bought the old farm in Burley and raised their family on the farm.  Mannie worked on the farms with Royal and Vi and Bulo and Gladys in Declo and with Pat and Maudie in Burley until Pat sold the farm and moved to Washington and Bulo moved to Riverside, CA, then Mannie and Dora would spend winters in warmer climates with Louisa in Overton, Nevada, and with Dot in Culver City California. 


Dora suffered dementia in her last years, and broke her hip in a fall in Overton while out walking.  She returned to Declo and continued to decline until her death, 13 July 1956.  Mannie continued his yearly migrations back and forth from Nevada to Idaho, and was killed in a car crash in Caliente Nevada, 5 October 1963 on the way to Overton. Both Mannie and Dora are buried in the Pleasant View Cemetery in Burley Idaho.  Their children settled in California, Washington, Idaho, Arizona and Nevada, and at the time of Mannie’s death, had 16 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren.  That number has increased substantially since that time.