Saturday, December 3, 2011

Feramorz Little (1820-1887)

   A New Yorker by birth, Feramorz Little made his name (politically speaking) in Utah. Little was born in the small town of Aurelius, New York on June 14, 1820, one of four children born to James and Susan Young Little. James Little had immigrated from Ireland to New York some years previously and is recorded as dying in a wagon accident in October 1822 when his son was only two years of age. Little's mother Susan was the sister of Brigham Young, the famed Mormon leader and founder of what is now Utah. 
   A biographical record on Feramorz Little and his family (authored by his brother James) notes that Susan Little and her children removed from Aurelius to the town of Mendon, New York and later remarried to a Mr. William B. Stilson. The family later removed from Mendon to Livingston County, New York, where Feramorz left the family home, "on an account of the hard treatment of Mr. Stilson" and eventually moved into the home of General Solomon K. Chamberlain of Springwater, New York. Little resided with Chamberlain for several years and during his adolescence was apprenticed by Chamberlain to a saddle and harness maker for a few months, and later engaged in farm work for Mr. Chamberlain's son-in-law Harvey S. Tyler.
  Feramorz Little left New York in 1843 and traveled on horseback until reaching St. Louis, Missouri, where he settled for a time. He subsequently removed to Nauvoo, Illinois, becoming a school teacher there, and later married to Ms. Fannie Maria Decker (1830-1881) on February 12, 1846.  The couple are recorded as having ten children, who are listed as follows: James Tyler (1847-1898), Fannie Augusta (died aged three months in 1851), Juliette Chamberlain (1853-1929), Susan Claire (1855-1918), Luna Rosalie (1858-1909), Feramorz (born 1861), Nelly (born ca. 1860),Marian Josephine (died aged one month in 1862), Nettie Viola (1864-1940) and Frank Clifford (1867-1955)
   In 1850 Little and his wife made the long journey to Utah, and after reconnecting with his family in Salt Lake City, set about making a name for himself in a variety of businesses. He joined the Mormon Church and was named a Bishopric for Salt Lake City's Thirteenth Ward, and in 1858 married his second wife, Julia Anna Hampton (1830/1844-1867) who gave birth to five children: Edwin (1859-1866), Fanny Vilate (1862-1896), Louis H. (died aged one in 1866), Brigham Leon (1867-1933) and William Feramorz (born 1867). 
   In the same year as his marriage to Julia Hampton, Feramorz Little married his third wife Annie Elizabeth Dye (1825-1907), proving that as far as polygamy was concerned, he was without care. The union between Feramorz and Annie would eventually produce six children: Ellen Lorilla (1859-1923), Frederick Wallace (1863-1943), Charles Carter (1861-1926), Leo Augustus (1865-1909), George (born 1867) and Jesse Carter (1871-1959). By the time he turned 51 in 1871, Feramorz Little had three wives and twenty-one children, truly a very busy man!!

                                                 Feramorz Little as he looked in middle age.

   Over the course of his residency in Salt Lake City, Little was acknowledged as one of the area's industrious citizens, helping to design and build a dam on the Jordan River, developing a contract to carry mail (between Salt Lake City and Independence, Missouri) and also helped in the construction of the Utah State Penitentiary. Little is also recorded as serving as Mormon Church Emigration Agent during the 1860s, and the Deseret News notes that "under his supervision, 500 teams were fitted out to go to the Missouri River and carry back to Utah 3,000 emigrants".
   It was only in the latter period of his life that Little began to serve in elected office. During the early 1870s he won election to the Salt Lake City Council and in 1876 was elected as the Mayor of Salt Lake City. He served three consecutive terms in this office, the last of which concluded in 1882. After leaving the office of mayor, Little began pursuing banking interests, becoming a founder of the Deseret National Bank and later served as its director. 
  In July 1882 Little married his fourth wife, Rebecca Ellen Mantle (1830-1909), who bore Little two daughters, Nellie Vivian (1883-1927) and Sadie Catherine (1886-1914). When one looks at Little's life history it's truly amazing to think that this oddly named Salt Lake City Mayor managed to father twenty-three children by the time he turned 66 years old! In one of his last acts of public service, Little was named as a delegate to the Utah Constitutional Convention of 1887 from the county of Salt Lake.
  A few months after attending the above-mentioned convention, Feramorz Little died at age 67 on August 14, 1887, and was subsequently interred at the Salt Lake City Cemetery. He was survived by his wives Annie and Rebecca, who died in 1907 and 1909 respectively. All four of Little's wives are also interred in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.  For those who may be wondering, Little's unusual first name originated from an obscure poet-sultan named Feramorz, who existed on the Asian continent in ancient times.

A memorial for Feramorz Little that appeared in August 16, 1887 edition of the Salt Lake Herald.


  1. Annie Dye actually divorced Feramorz Little before his death and remarried - which is where she gained the surname "Dye". Her maiden name was also "Little" but not any close relation to Feramorz. Her father was Jesse Carter Little.
    I am Feramorz and Annie's great-great-great granddaughter.

  2. Feramorz was my great-great grandfather. Something the author of this article entirely missed was the time that Feramorz spent both farming and then mostly working as a retailer of goods in a store he established in St. Louis. Especially as a merchant he was apparently somewhat prodigious.

    After being established for some time, he went to visit his brother, James, who was serving in the Army in Texas. Upon Feramorz' return to St. Louis, he discovered that the employee he put in charge of his story had sold out all the merchandise, and skipped off with the cash!

    However, Feramorz must have either had a strong reputation for being honest, and/or must have been persuasive, since he was able to refill his store, I am supposing largely on credit!

    When Feramorz went to Salt Lake (with the eye of continuing on to California, likely to make his fortune with all those following the gold rush, he decided entrepreneurial prospects were lucrative enough in Salt Lake.

    Among other ventures, Feramorz (called "Fem" by family, at least), was co-owner with two or three brother-in-laws in five lumber mills at the mouth of five mountain canyons on the East side of the Salt Lake Valley.

    And, Feramorz not only "helped" build the (then, rather) Utah Territorial Prison (which became the state prison, only after Utah became a state, in 1896, long after Fem's death), but was the General Contractor for the project.

    Feramorz and his brother-in-laws were also subcontractors for carrying the mail between points West of St. Louis to Salt Lake City and back, and I believe they won this contract a couple of times (for a couple of years, or something, each time).

    Stories in his biography of this part of his life are indicative of a strong personal work ethic, calculating risks, and living serenely with those risks, and pushing forward and onward when it was neither convenient, nor easy, but wise, nonetheless, to do.

    BTW, a person does NOT become a 'bishopric'. He either becomes a member of a bishopric (of which there are typically three, the bishop, and one of two counselors to that bishop), OR, he becomes a bishop, who is the presiding priesthood leader of an LDS (Latter-Day Saint) ward [congregation].

    Technically, Annie Elizabeth Little was Feramorz' 2nd wife, and Julia Hampton his 3rd wife. I believe they were 'sealed' (married) to him on the same day. But the 'sealing' (marriage) of Annie & Feramorz was performed first.

    Feramorz also was a major contractor in building the telegraph lines between Salt Lake City and points eastward, as well as a major subcontractor for the Union Pacific in building the transcontinental railroad. Feramorz was present at the "meeting of the rails" when rails and trains met at 'Promontory Point' on May 10, 1869.

    Also, while Feramorz served three 2-year terms as mayor of Salt Lake City, the first pressurized water system was build in Utah with cast iron pipe ordered from the Eastern U.S. As recently as 15 to 20 years ago (around 2000 or so), some of water pipes install in the 1870's was examined, and much of it was found to still be quite solid and working well!

    Both Pioneer Park and Liberty Park were initiated and developed during his mayoral administration.

    Feramorz co-owned a grist-mill in the community still called "Sugar House". The territorial prison he built, was located now where 'Sugar House Park' and 'Highland High School' are located in Salt Lake.

    Feramorz was wealthy enough that all of his children received substantial inheritances at the time of his death.

    Also, Feramorz did not join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints until 1852 or so. He grew up, having lost one parent, much like his Uncle Brigham Young had. They were both not only nephew & uncle, but partners also in the first saloon in Utah [anti-Mormons like to bring this fact up], as well as brother-in-laws (Feramorz' first wife was a sister to two of Brigham Young's polygamous wives).

  3. I believe Feramorz Little also managed Salt Lake House, the main hotel in Salt Lake City, either in a partnership with Brigham Young, or on his own. In 1864-1865, the original builder and proprietor of the hotel, James Townsend, sold Salt Lake House for $25,000 before purchasing a new property and performing a mission to England. From about 1865, Feramorz Little seems to have been the proprietor of Salt Lake House, and is listed as such in the 1869 Salt Lake City directory.

  4. This is very exciting to find relatives of Feramorz Little. Harriet Page Wheeler Decker Young is the mother of 4 daughters, 2 who married Brigham Young, Clara and Lucy Ann. I am descended from Clara through Isaac Perry Decker, her youngest son. The other 2 daughters of Harriet were Fanny Maria Decker and another I have to look up, and Fanny Maria married Feramorz Little. And Nellie Vivian is a daughter of Feramorz Little and Rebecca Ellen Mantle,4th wife. Nellie married Walter Layne Wilding, brother of Eleanor Wilding who married Stephen Hunter Love - grandparents of my mother, LeJeune Young Decker.

  5. Correction: I am descended from Harriet through Isaac Perry Decker, youngest son of Harriet. Isaac Perry was a brother to Clara and Lucy. Harriet had 6 children.

  6. Mayor Feramorz Little owned and operated the Salt Lake House in partnership with his brother-in-law Governor Brigham Young. thus making Young and Little the owners and operators of the first tavern in the Utah territory.
    Along with George Q. Cannon and Brigham Young (Gardo House), Little also built one of the most opulent mansions in the territory. I believe all three Second Empire Mansard style houses were designed by William H. Folsom, one of Young's fathers-in-law. Little's house was the last of the three to be torn down. It was listed as a rooming house in the 1950's