Did 'Old Sow' go to slaughterhouse?
Farmington resident, local historian and Daughters of the Utah Pioneers member Theda Judd has long tried to sort out the different stories of the different big guns, she said, that became known, at one time or another, as the "Old Sow."
In an anthology, completed early last month, Judd attempts to draw these accounts together and follow them wherever they led.
Judd has long contended that the cannon formerly on display in front of the now Old City Hall Museum in Farming-ton was not the Old Sow. That was later confirmed when a historical examination indicated the 12-pound Iron Napoleon had been cast in 1864, making it of Civil War vintage, not pre-Mormon exodus.
That cannon, fired in numerous local celebrations during the late 1800s and early 1900s, was nearly lost twice, before ending up as part of the Farmington monument after being rescued by local DUP members in 1941.
Later, following its identification as a Civil War weapon, it was sold by Farmington City in 2002, with the proceeds going to fund historical activities in the city. The new owner, a museum in Montana, provided a full-sized replica to display in its place. The old plaque on the monument remains with a new plaque set up next to it.
"The original Old Sow cannon," Judd wrote, "became a legend that was cherished by the Mormon pioneers. It was the first field piece obtained by them in Missouri in 1838 during their expulsion from the state."
The cannon, the story goes, was in the employ of Missouri militia, who, while on the move, felt the heavy weapon was slowing them down. They decided to bury it, and return for it later.
It's reported the militia did a poor job hiding the gun and, when Mormon horsemen arrived on the scene, they discovered an old sow digging in the road. They recovered the cannon and determined to put it to their own use.
To make a long story short, the cannon accompanied the Mormons during their expulsion from Missouri and the time spent in Illinois. When the people were forced to leave Nauvoo, the cannon, again, went with them.
But a big question, noted Judd, has since been put forward. Did the cannon go with Brigham Young's first company of Saints to the Salt Lake Valley or a later group?
Part of the answer, she felt, lies in the fact that historians now believe the original Old Sow was a six-pound, not 12-pound weapon.
One gun of that size was, reportedly, sent to Parowan. But that was a bronze casting, not iron, and was later returned to Salt Lake City. Another six-pounder, this one cast from iron end up in Provo, where it, apparently, exploded in 1855 when residents attempted to fire it, killing the cannoneer.
Two other cannons are currently the property of the LDS Museum in Salt Lake City. One, also a six-pounder, said Judd, is in storage, while the other, a 12-pound weapon, is on display and identified as the Old Sow.
But, based on a Deseret News article on the 1855 explosion in Provo, and other research, Judd believes that gun was, in fact, the real Old Sow.
"A Deseret News article covering the death of William Nixon in 1855 called the burst Provo cannon 'a six-pounder from Nauvoo, that presented the appearance of being a most perfect piece of workmanship, made of very fine, soft iron,'" Judd reported. "Historian Andrew Jensen's account of the explosion identified the cannon as the Old Sow. It appears that the Old Sow, the brood mother of Utah's infant artillery, went to the figurative slaughterhouse in Provo on the 24th of July 1855."
If true, this would be sad news to a lot of people around the state who have grown up believing the old, historic weapon was still intact in a museum, or on a monument at a Farmington street corner.
It would also be bad news to state historians in Missouri.
"A local official in Missouri requested the LDS Museum return the Missouri State Militia's hi-jacked cannon," said Judd. "Unfortunately, the museum most likely will be unable to honor that request as it appears Utah no longer has a cannon to return."
Read more: The Davis Clipper - Did Old Sow go to slaughterhouse
Farmington selling cannon again
Standard Examiner ^ | Mon, July 15, 2002 | RUTH MALAN
Posted on July 15, 2002 9:55:42 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
FARMINGTON -- The City Council is once again trying to sell its old cannon.
The council voted to request proposals for the purchase of the cannon, which sits outside the Old Tithing House. The Old Tithing House will soon become the city's museum.
The cannon is a Confederate Iron Napoleon cannon, used in the Civil War. It has no place in Farmington's history, other than it was used during some city celebrations, and it is unknown how it arrived in Farmington.
Although the city has already received four offers to buy the cannon, City Manager Max Forbush has found other museums that also may be interested in it.
Those museums that have asked to purchase the cannon are Memorial Hall Foundation Confederate Civil War Museum in New Orleans, La.; Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library, Philadelphia, Pa.; Drum Barracks Civil War Museum, Wilmington, Calif.; and The Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Va.
Mayor David Connors said the purpose of selling the cannon is to help fund the new museum.
"Our restriction is that it be sold to a museum," Connors said. "It has historic value, just not to this city."
Forbush found at least 17 other museums he wants to contact about the old Civil War cannon.
The council first decided to sell the cannon last year when it found it did not have a place in the history of Farmington, but a suitable buyer could not be found.
But Councilman Bob Hasenyager said the cannon does have some importance to the city -- "It was fired to start Festival Days," he said -- so he wants a replica to be provided to the city.
The council agreed on minimum proposal specifications, including a minimum sale price of $50,000, plus a replica to be provided by the purchaser. The price does not include shipping, which is the responsibility of the buyer.
The buyer must also be a legitimate museum or demonstrate that the cannon will be exposed to substantial public view.
Deadline for filing proposals is Sept. 30. All proposals should be sent to City Manager Max Forbush, Farmington City Corporation, 130 N. Main St., P.O. Box 160, Farmington, UT 84025-0160
Bids will be opened publicly on Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. at the Farmington City Hall.
To contact correspondent Ruth Malan, leave a message at 629-5220.
TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: Utah