There are many great men and women who settled Bluff and stayed when the going got tough.
Many of those same people were also the first settlers of Blanding and left an indelible mark on San Juan’s largest community which continues 100 years later.
One of those pioneers was Wayne Hardison Redd. He was the President of the huge San Juan Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints like his brother before him (Lemuel H. Jr.) and his son after him (Leland). But holding the highest ecclesiastical position in the territory was simply one of his many accomplishments.
Wayne’s father, Lemuel Sr., came through the Hole-in-the-Rock and was one of the four scouts who nearly perished in their search for a route for the pioneers to take through the rugged canyon country of southern San Juan.
Salvation Knoll is today a hallowed spot in county history. It was at the top of that rise, on Christmas Day in 1879, that the four scouts viewed the Blue Mountains for the first time and knew that they were at least headed in the right direction.
Wayne’s mother was Sarah Louisa Chamberlain and was Lemuel’s second wife. She was an expert seamstress and specialized in clothing and gloves made from fine buckskin.
Wayne was born in 1870 in Harmony, UT. He did not come to Bluff until 1889. He was a lean, handsome young man dressed in the beautiful buckskin clothing his mother made. His shirts had fringe and his gloves were soft but strong works of art. He wore a big hat and high boots.
Needless to say the young ladies in Bluff were left in a swoon, hardly able to catch their collective breaths the day he rode into town. Little did they or their parents realize what a tower of strength and leadership this young man would provide to the entire county during the rest of his life.
Wayne came to Bluff nine years after his father arrived with his first wife (Eliza Ann Westover) and his first family. Lemuel and Wayne’s Mother, Louisa had been harassed by federal marshals in Harmony and so they decided to go to Bluff, hoping to get away from federal agents trying to imprison Lemuel for the practice of polygamy.
Shortly after arriving in Bluff, Wayne was smitten with Bishop Jens Nielson’s youngest daughter Caroline. She was 16. Wayne was 19. Wayne’s parents moved to Mexico due to continued pressure from the law. Wayne stayed. He rode the range, managed his father’s cattle operation and sent money to them in Mexico. During this time he also began to build his own cattle operation.
When Caroline was 19 and Wayne was 23, they became the first couple from Bluff to travel to Salt Lake City to be married in the Salt Lake Temple. They drove alone from Bluff.
The first 145 miles of the journey was in a small buckboard with a team consisting of one white horse and one black one.
They stayed the first night in Verdure with Willard and Julia Butt. The next day in Monticello Nephi Bailey and his wife joined them. They camped in Dry Valley the next night and reached Moab the third day, where they stayed with Mons Petersen.
They left their buggy and horses with Bishop Peterson and traveled on with the Baileys. They forded the Colorado River and camped at Thompson Springs the fourth night. From there they rode the train to Salt Lake and were married the next day on November 15, 1893.
Upon their return to Bluff, Caroline’s mother (Kirsten) gave them a dinner party and dance. The entire town was invited and the entire town came. Married people came at 1 p.m. for the feast.
When chore-time came, the married people went home to do the chores and the younger set arrived for dinner. The dance, with the whole town present, started promptly at 8 p.m. Wayne and Caroline had a great marriage and people often commented that they were devoted to each other in a wonderful special way.
They moved into the Thales Haskell cabin, which was made of rough cottonwood logs. In 1894, their first son (Leland) was born.
To everyone’s surprise, Wayne was called on a 21/2 year mission to the Southern States four months after Leland was born. Caroline moved in with her mother and father while Wayne was gone. In the South, Wayne was called to open up the state of Georgia to missionary work for the second time. The state had not had Mormon missionaries since Elder Joseph Strandling had been killed by a mob several years earlier.
Space will not allow the full telling of the adventures Wayne had in the Deep South. But this one is a quote from the journal of his companion at the time, Elder Albert Matheson: “On the 29th we were arrested and put in jail on the charge of selling the pamphlet ‘Voice of Warning’ for 10 cents.”
The next day at the trial, the judge asked Wayne what the tract taught. Wayne seized the opportunity to tell the judge and all convened of the Restoration and Elder Redd bore a powerful testimony of its truthfulness.
When he was finished the Judge rose in the packed courtroom as said, “I pay my preacher $200 a year to teach me, but this Mormon youth has taught me more than I have ever known about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this youth to be put in jail is a crime!”
All charges were immediately dropped. The next day a writer for the local paper gave them a full and positive report of the affair. That was a huge boost to the work in that area, according to the recently released jailbirds from Utah.
Wayne was not yet 30 years old when he was called to be a counselor to President Francis A. Hammond in the San Juan Stake Presidency. At that time the Stake included wards in three states and took the leadership as long as a month to cover the 600 mile trip which included Kirtland, NM, Durango CO, and Moab UT.
The Stake presidency made the journey twice a year. Sometimes Caroline went with him with a baby in tow. Sometimes they went by horseback, but if the wives of the Church leaders went, they would take buggies.
The family outgrew the Haskell Cabin and Wayne commenced to build Caroline a new home. On a trip to Dolores to get lumber on November 2, l901, Wayne had a terrible accident when his team of horses spooked and bolted. Wayne fell and was dragged for over 80 feet with his head on the ground.
His rescuers did not think he would survive the night. His entire scalp was peeled back and that was simply the most obvious injury. They took him back to Dolores and put him in a small dark room. Jim McCune raced to Bluff to inform Caroline. With baby Delbert in her arms she went to Dolores as fast as she could. For three weeks she sat by his bedside in the dark room. Twice a day, Caroline would lift his scalp and inject a disinfectant under the skin.
Kuman Jones was in Cortez when Wayne was injured. He came and stayed with Caroline for several days. Three weeks after the accident, Wayne was able to go to Mancos, where he stayed at the home of Bishop George Halls. Wayne was finally strong enough to return to Bluff on December 13.
In l908, Wayne and Caroline decided to move to Grayson (early Blanding). Nine families were living on White Mesa at that time. Wayne purchased land, built a rock granary, which they lived in until Uncle Ben Redd built their big white house.
When they left Bluff, they had five children who went with them: Leland, Miriam, Adelbert, Josephine and Joe. In Blanding four more children were born: Bernice, Alma, Sterling and Norman. Three other children were born to them that died in infancy.
In l909, Eliza Ann Westover Redd, wife of Wayne’s brother, L.H. Redd Jr. suffered a serious and life-threatening injury. Her daughter tells this story: “Dr. Harrington of Cortez was called to care for her on three different occasions. Gangrene set in and the doctor told the family on his third visit to not call for him again, as there was no hope for her recovery.
“The following morning Uncle Wayne walked in. The family thought he was in Moab at Stake Conference. He answered, ‘I don’t know why I am here. I had the horse all harnessed in Monticello and was ready to go when I was prompted to turn around and go to Bluff.’
“They all retired to the bedroom and Wayne gave Eliza Ann a blessing, promising her that she would recover. The next time Dr. Harrington came to Bluff he was astonished to find Eliza alive and well. His comment, and he said it was fine to use the quote in the newspapers, was, “I have witnessed a great miracle…a higher power than medicine or doctors healed Mrs. Redd.”
Wayne was busy in Church and Community. Albert R. Lyman wrote about the deplorable condition of Blanding’s water supply when all they had was an open ditch. “It is unsanitary and unsatisfactory in the extreme, particularly when dead dogs and sheep are found rotting in the mud of the stream above town. Sometimes the water in the ditch peters out completely in late summer.”
“But,” Lyman continued, “Wayne Redd took the initiative. The way he tackled that water project reminded me of the way he handled bellowing creatures in a dusty corral.
“Of course this was not a one-man accomplishment. But Wayne Redd was one of the principles who saw this through. With his vision of things to come and his ability of ‘persuasive speech,’ he brought the people to unity on this water project.”
The first real water system was a reservoir above town. Large wooden pipes were laid throughout Blanding and smaller iron pipes led to each home. This was done while Wayne was the manager of the White Mesa Canal Company.
After his release from the Stake Presidency in l910, he was called to be Stake Patriarch. Ten years later he was called to be the Bishop of the Blanding Ward and was instrumental in the completion of the big rock church which still stands on Main Street in Blanding almost a century later.
While he was Bishop he was also the Principal of the Seminary. Again, he had a big role in the building of Blanding’s first seminary building. When he was called to be the San Juan Stake President in 1923, President Redd continued to teach and serve as the Seminary principal for 15 more years.
In April, 1936 he became seriously ill and was taken to Salt Lake City for treatment. He died May 2 at the age of 66. His stature and respect in San Juan and the entire state was evident when Rudgers Clawson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, came to Blanding to speak at his funeral.
His beloved Caroline carried on for another 22 years without him. She passed away in l958. According to those who knew them best, theirs was one of the great love stories in San Juan History.