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Albert "Hog Allen" Smith
Hog Allen

Legend of Hog Allen

          The following story was compiled from various sources. The basis of the story and some of the information on Albert "Hog Allen" Smith comes from a poem originally written by Michael Chamberlian. Additional information was supplied by Utah historical groups, The National Park Service, friends, history buffs, personal experience and numerous other sources. What that really means is a bunch of the information below was stolen from a collection of other sources.

          I first heard the captivating legend of Hog Allen in 1997 while canyoneering in Zion National Park. As it was first told to me; Hogs Heaven dominates the area between North Fork and Deep Creek and was named after Albert "Hog Allen" Smith, an early pioneer who claimed ownership to much of the land to the east of Deep Creek. According to legend, Hog Allen swore to evict ranchers who came later to stake legal homesteads, but died before he could carry out his threats. However, neighboring ranchers and their families became subject to mysterious and fatal accidents on the anniversary of Hog Allen's death, which encouraged them to abandon the area. It is said that, on certain nights, a mist drifts down the Golden Staircase and settles over Hog Allen's grave. This phenomenon is said to be the spirit of Hog Allen returning to do a dance.

          OK, that is a great myth and a fun story to scare your canyoneering partners with as you sleep under the stars in the backcountry. But I just had to know the origins of the myth and if there was any truth to the legend. A few friends and myself began to poke around looking for the truth and this is what we discovered.

          In 1892 the Bullochs and Watsons both had sawmills in the North Fork area just outside what is now the northeast corner of Zion National Park. The sawmills hired men to drag the huge timbers down from the hills using their horses and chains. The men would toil for hours removing the brush and scrub oak so that the horses could be brought in and the timbers dragged out.

          Albert "Hog Allen" Smith had a pair of oxen. These oxen were so powerful and strong that they would push down the brush and scrub oak as they moved along eliminating the need for the men to clear the path ahead. This meant the long hours of strenuous work was reduced. It also meant more money since the haulers were paid by the load. It was not long until Hog Allen's pockets were lined with gold. But it was land that Allen lusted after and not money or fame.

          Hog Allen built a two room cabin on a few acres of land just below the present day Zion Narrows Trailhead down in the bottom of North Fork on what is now the Chamberlain Ranch. The cabin was built near the creek where the water was plentiful. He cleared the sage and plowed the land. Allen raised 40 to 50 hogs each year that would grow fat on the acorns before he would take them to town in the spring to be butchered. As you might have guessed, these hogs resulted in his colorful nickname.

          One day while riding to Cedar City with the Bullochs and others the group stopped on Cedar Mountain at a place where nearly the entire North Fork country was visible. Allen stood up in his saddle and with a sweep of his arm declared all the land that could be seen to the south as his own. From that day on the area included in the sweep of the arm has been known as Hogs Heaven.

          It was said that if Hog Allen considered you a friend there was none better. If he liked you, he liked all your kin, your mother, father and all their children. But if he disliked you he was trouble and you would suffer his wrath.

          Hog Allen had recently quit the Bullochs to work for more pay at the Watsons sawmill. Allen was working alone with a sixteen-year-old Watson boy. They were repairing a haulers wagon. The kingpin had broken inside where the front axle and wagon box are tied together. With a long heavy pole the pair lifted the wagon from the axle. The pole slipped and the wagon came crashing down on Hog Allen's finger. No one is sure why he blamed the boy or what actually happened, but Hog Allen picked up the new 18-inch kingpin and took off after the young Watson boy.

          The boy ran for his life with Allen closing on his tail. The boy's father saw what was happening and hollered for his men to help. It took six men to pull Allen away from the young lad. This action infuriated Allen and he left the mill cussing the Watsons.

          Not long after the kingpin attack, Hog Allen vowed that the Watsons could not stay in the valley. He vowed that if it was the last thing he ever did the North Fork would be rid of the Watsons.

          Allen immediately acted upon his pledge. One day he happened upon old man Watson and his sheep. Allen decided that the sheep were moving too slowly and blocking the road so he took out his short leather whip and beat the old man, leaving him lying by the side of the road. Allen was charged with assault and battery, but since no one had witnessed the assault and there was no evidence, the judge was forced to dismiss the charge.

          The days that followed were hard for Hog Allen and his wife Nelly. The cabin they had built down by the stream burned to the ground and winter was approaching.

          The Walker's, who sold Allen the land for his cabin to begin with would be leaving the area for awhile and invited Hog Allen's family to stay in their home until the family was able to build a new cabin. Hog Allen, his wife Nelly and their three young children gladly accepted this gracious offer and spent the winter in the Walker cabin.

          As spring arrived Hog Allen made preparations to begin planting the fields. One day his young daughter Amy was playing down by the flood swollen North Fork River when she fell in and was swept away. She was found and pulled from the river, her body was blue but she was still alive. Her lungs were full of mud from the river. The little child fought for her life for several weeks but eventually lost the battle on May 27, 1897. She was two and a half years old (born August 20, 1895).

          Amy's passing was particularly hard on Hog Allen and he tossed all of his energy into plowing and planting. He planted a huge garden of melons, squash, corn and beans. When the time came for harvest, Allen's crops were some of the best to be found.

          In those days harvest time meant a lot of work. The surrounding homesteads would join together. One man might have a thresher, one a bailer and one a combine. By combining their equipment and effort the crops could be harvested. The exhausting work would go on for days at a time. Then the machines would be moved to the next homestead and the process would be repeated all over again. Autumn is hot in the North Fork area and the procession would end each year at the Walkers since it was at the end of the valley.

          The year 1897 was a good year for Hog Allen, his harvest was excellent and his melons were big and sweet.

          The men continued to work cutting, threshing, and bailing the hay. Allen had some extra good melons stacked away in the spring box. He would work hard in the heat and dust and then take a break and eat his fill of melon. Late in the afternoon of September 13, 1897, after one of the breaks, he went into the house and told Nelly he had a headache. She went to the backroom as he slumped in the chair moaning from the pain in his head. When she returned with something for his pain she found him dead on the floor with his youngest child attempting to ride him like a horse. Hog Allen was 55 years old and left behind his 28 year old bride and two young sons, Heber and Stanley, aged 6 years and 9 months respectively.

          Hog Allen was buried the next day in a rough pine box from the Watsons sawmill. He was buried with Nelly's beautiful silk scarf in his hands at the base of the hill next to little Amy.

          The last two years had been heartbreaking for Nelly. She packed up her family and moved to Cedar City promising to return in the spring to retrieve the remains of her loved ones for reburial at her new home.

          The next spring Nelly returned to bring her loved ones over the pass to Cedar City. However, when they opened the casket, Nelly let out a scream. "Close it, close it! This must be a terrible dream. Leave them there", she demanded. It is unclear what Nelly had expected but the body of Hog Allen was a terrible sight.

          His hair had grown, as had his nails, his eyes were blue, his face looked like he was grabbing at you. His legs were not straight like when they laid him to rest and his hands were not folded across his chest. He looked forever like he was a dancing with the scarf in his hand! The men put Hog Allen back in the ground and buried him deep.

          The year after Hog Allen's death the Watson family started experiencing peculiar misfortune. Each year after the harvest was completed the homesteaders would come from miles around to enjoy a little fun. The kids would play hide and seek, kick the can, run sheep run and other games. The young men would have foot races, horse races and pulling contests for the teams. The year after Hog Allen's demise following the horse races, one of the Watson boys fell from his horse and was killed. The next year the younger Watson boy did not return from a game of kick the can. It looked like he had fallen, but in neither case had blood been spilled. Then after the third boy had a near fall, everyone remembered Hog Allen's vow! The Watson family immediately packed their belongings and left the North Fork Valley before tragedy struck again.

          The old-timers swear there is unquestionably a spirit in the area. So they named the country round where Albert "Hog Allen" Smith resided Hogs Heaven. They feel his spirit has never left and it is still his heaven to this day.

Related Links:
Deep Creek Route Description
Zion Narrows Route Description

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