Fielding Garr (1794 - 1855)

Fielding Garr, born August 19th, 1794 in Madison County, Virginia, brought cattle to the island[1] in 1848 and served as the first foreman of the ranch, a post he held until his death in 1855.  He constructed the first house on the island with foot-thick walls made of adobe bricks.  The original house, also known as the old church house still stands as a monument to Fielding Garr, and was the oldest continuously lived-in-house in the State until the island became a State Park in 1981.

Fielding married Paulina Turner in 1819, and they had ten children while in Kentucky and Illinois.  Paulina died in 1844.  As a widower he emigrated in 1847 from Nauvoo, Illinois to Utah with seven of his children.  In 1848 he and his children made their home at Garr Spring on Antelope Island, known by many as Garr Island.

Garr was a bonded herdsman, a farmer, a rancher, and a skilled mason.  He was a good neighbor with as excellent disposition.  He was a loving and affectionate father to his motherless children.

1848 - Island Ranching Company

In the fall of 1848 Lot Smith, Heber C. Kimball and Fielding Garr explored Antelope Island and found conditions suitable for ranching.  Livestock were placed on the island by the LDS Church's Perpetual Emigration Fund Company.  Also valuable stallions and blood mares were brought to the island, the heard grew to thousands.[2]

John C. Fremont and Kit Carson made the first known, non-Native American, journey to Antelope Island in 1843.  They observed several antelope on the island, thus giving Antelope Island its name.  Fielding Garr established a permanent residency on Antelope Island in 1848.  He not only tended his own herds, but those of other stockmen as well.  In 1849, Brigham Young asked Garr to manage the LDS Church's Tithing Herd, which was kept on the island until 1871.  The Tithing Herd was utilized by the Perpetual Emigration Fund, which was established to help needy Mormon converts immigrate to Utah. Recipients would reimburse the fund when circumstances would allow them to do so.  Reimbursement often was made in the form of livestock, which was considered better than cash.  During this time, the LDS Church also invested thousands of dollars in valuable stallions and brood mares, which were turned loose on the island.[3]

Mormon Pioneer - Saturday, June 19, 1847 Elkhorn River, Nebraska:

The Willard Snow fifty also moved out. They were also part of the Jedediah M. Grant Company. The Snow fifty consisted of 160 people. The captains of tens were: John Vance, Thomas Thurston, Jacob Gates, and Simpson D. Huffaker.

[Included in the third ten led by Jacob Gates were: Nancy Badger, Ann Wollerton Dilworth Bringhurst, William Bringhurst, Highimsol Call, Maria J. Carrington, Ruby M. Carrington, Charles Crisman, Charles Crisman, Emily Percinda Crisman, George Crisman, Hester Ann Crisman, Mary Hill Crisman, Martha Jane Crisman, Mary Ann Crisman, Samantha Crisman, Mary Jane Dilworth, Abner W. Garr, Benjamin Franklin Garr, Caroline Martin Garr, Fielding Garr, John Turner Garr, Mary Virginia Garr, Sarah Anna Garr, William Henry Garr, Jacob Gates, Mary Wheeler Gates, Joseph McDavis, Vienne Rebsey, Amanda Melvina Snow, Melvina Harvey Snow, Susan Harvey Snow, Willard Snow, and Willard Lycurgas Snow.]

Biography written by Abel W. Garr[4]

Fielding Garr was born in Madison County, Virginia, August 19, 1794, and was the son of Abraham Gaar and Dinah (Weaver) Gaar.  While young he had to labor hard, and had very little chance for a school education; but was very well read, all, or most all, of which he gained himself.  In 1805 he, with his father’s family, moved to Kentucky, and in 1807 to the State of Indiana, where he remained with his father’s family.  A few years after he became acquainted with a young lady, Paulina Turner, and after an acquaintance of four years they were married. They settle in Wayne County, Indiana.

Fielding, with his father’s family, were the first to settle in Wayne County, Indiana, and found much difficulty, and had to labor hard to clear the land to make nice farms and houses.  During their stay in Wayne County they had ten children born to them – five boys and five girls.

About 1840 he became acquainted with Mormon preachers, and soon became a member.  About 1842 he resolved to go to Winter Quarters in Iowa with the Latter Day Saints.  Just before their departure Paulina, his beloved wife and companion departed this life in November, 1844 thus leaving him with a family of seven children on their way to Utah.

Fielding Garr had very much self-control, and had an excellent temper; he seldom got vexed, and always used good language, and was loved by many.

In 1846 he moved to Council Bluffs, and in 1847 to Utah.  He was among those who came to Utah the first year – that is, 1847.  In the fall of 1847 he landed in Salt Lake Valley with seven children; one, the eldest, Eliza Jane, stayed in the State of Indiana.  He at this time had to seek employment of some kind.  He took to stock-raising, and was soon the owner of a large heard of cattle on the antelope land in Great Salt Lake Valley.

Fielding Garr was of an excellent disposition, and was a lover of society.  At this time – very early day in Utah – the young people were always around where he was.  Young boys were more taken up with his society than they were with those of their own age.  He always took delight in instructing the young.  He was a very robust, large, square-framed very mild, fascinating voice – nothing gruff or uncouth.  He was one that was never in trouble.  He never borrowed trouble, never had a lawsuit, and never was sued.  He always had friends, and plenty of them, and always took a liking in entertaining them.

In June, 1855, he was taken sick, and on the 15th of the same month he departed this life, leaving eight children and many friends to mourn his loss.  Those of his children who were at his bedside at his death were John, Nancy, Abel, Caroline, Sarah, Benjamin, and William.

At the time of his death, Fielding Garr was sixty-one years of age.  He was a good neighbor, and a kind, loving, and affectionate father.

excerpt from a journal

After staying in Indiana about three years, my mother was extremely anxious to go to the Church at Nauvoo, and an old friend by the name of Fielding Garr furnished an outfit for our entire family and moved us near to the town of Laharp. All this he did at his own expense, and continued to see that we were provided for until we could provide for ourselves. His two oldest sons Richard and John Garr would haul our wood and chop it up for us.[5]

Theodore M. Burton – Oct 1, 1960 – General Conference

He married my grandmother, whose maiden name was Garr. The Garrs, too, are wonderful people of whom I am very proud. They were among the very first who came into the Church, and Great-grandfather Fielding Garr was one of those seven men chosen to perform that very special burial mission when the Prophet was assassinated, so I have been told. Grandmother walked across the plains as a young girl eight years of age, and said how happy she was when she got a thorn in her foot because that was the only time she was able to ride on the tailgate of the wagon until they got the thorn out of her foot. So she was one of those early pioneers who helped establish and build this country.


[1] Now Antelope Island State Park with the Historical Fielding Garr Ranch has 300,000 visitors annually.  There are 45 Pronghorn Antelope and over 500 buffalo along with many birds and coyotes.



[4] Andreas Gar, Descendants of John Gar (LDS microfilm - 608 pages; John W. Garr - Morisson Reeves Library, Richmond, Indiana), p 578-579, Family History Library, 35 N West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150 USA, film 1548944 - item 2. (Abel W. Garr – 2787-260)

[5] History of Austin Hammer and Nancy Elston - Massacre at Haun's Mill;


Last updated Saturday, November 21, 2009