Perry Fitzgerald

(Early member of the church, scout with the first pioneer group to enter the Salt Lake valley,
first settler of Draper, UT)
Born on December 22, 1815, in Redstone, Pennsylvania. When Perry was a young boy, John, moved his family to Ohio,
which at that time was a dense forest. As a child, Perry was trained by his parents in values mostly from the Bible. At that
time Ohio was considered as part of the far west, and the opportunities for learning the Three R’s were extremely limited so
he never received a formal education, and throughout his life he loved the scriptures, but couldn’t read them and typically
signed documents with an X.
In 1839 Perry married Mary Ann Cosat and they moved to Illinois. In December, 1842, in the midst of the hatred and persecution of the Mormons, Perry and Mary Ann received the gospel and were both baptized as members of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He later received his Endowment in the Nauvoo Temple and was part of the Nauvoo Legion.
It was a hard time for the Saints, but Perry remained faithful and in 1846, he received the Melchizedek Priesthood and was
ordained an Elder. Perry was among 20,000 saints who were dispossessed of their homes in Nauvoo and moved north
and west about 400 miles across Iowa to Winter Quarters. There he remained until the following spring of 1847. That year
Brigham Young selected 31-year old Perry Fitzgerald to be part of the original scouting group to the West. Perry was there as William Clayton penned the immortal
song of hope, Come, Come Ye Saints. As he followed the North Platte River westward, he would watch for pebbles which were curious and he collected them and
kept them in a tiny silver box. He assisted Brigham Young raising the flag on Ensign Peak and entered the valley with the first scouting group on July 22, 1847. After
only a few weeks in the valley, he was asked by Brigham Young to return east to gather family and bring them out to the new Church headquarters in the Salt Lake
Valley. His family arrived on September 26, 1847. They had little time to rest from their difficult journey as they needed to prepare for winter immediately. It has
been recorded that Perry Fitzgerald performed willingly every task asked of him in helping to build up this initial settlement of Salt Lake.
After a hard birth with her 5th child, Mary Ann became weaker and died in Millcreek leaving Perry with his 3 young sons. Later that year the family moved to Willow
Creek (now Draper, Utah) and Perry married Ann Wilson, 39, a convert from England. He built a large 3 room log cabin along the creek that had an upper story or
loft. When a terrific storm came and flooded the area, he moved the cabin a few rods north. It later served as Perry’s barn and stood for over 125 years. In 1995 it was
carefully dismantled rebuilt at the Draper Pioneer Park. He built a new brick home, the first built south of 6400 South, that is currently listed on the Utah register of
historic sites. He and Ann started the second Sunday School in Utah in the Draper ward.
In 1852 a young convert from Manchester, England, Agnes Wadsworth came to Draper. She became a nanny and housekeeper in the Fitzgerald home. Agnes loved
and cared for the children. Perry married her as his second wife on March 21, 1853. Perry was particularly fond of excellent horses and always drove a fine team. One
day, while attending conference and conducting business in Salt Lake, President Brigham Young saw Perry’s team and asked Perry to sell his team. Perry then asked
the question, “Is it for you, or for the church?” to which Brigham Young replied, “Well, what’s the difference? Then Perry reportedly stated, “If it’s for you, they are not
for sale. But if it’s for the Church, then I will consider it. Apparently Perry kept his team. Perry was known as a scrupulously honest man whose word was his bond.
Among the many visitors received in the new Fitzgerald home was the colorful and much feared Orrin Porter Rockwell. Perry’s daughter, Fedora Margaret, recorded
in 1948, that when Porter came to their house, he would come up to the doorway and stand and carefully survey the room into which he was entering and then
would sit in a corner and watch intently. She said that he had the sharp eyes of a hawk. One time Perry helped Porter escape capture by a posse.
Perry’s family and farm increased. He homesteaded and claimed land and was a farmer and raised sheep and cattle. He was sought out for advice, as he was considered a man of experience and success, and was a source of inspiration and knowledge to others. He died at home in 1889 at the age of 74. Fun note. The Fitzgerald/
Hacker/Turner/Grier line eventually connects to a long line of Scottish Royalty including King Robert the Bruce, of Scotland. His wife’s Cosat line goes back to multiple
first settlers of the Dutch West India colony New Netherland (Manhattan/New York area). The founders stories are listed here, but there are many more online.

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