Thursday, Dec 01, 2022

John Winter Lusk Jr.

John Winters Lusk and Anna Eliza Thomas Lusk

John Winters Lusk Jr. was born 26 March 1859 in Pleasant Grove, Utah.  He was born into a polygamous family so he had many full and half siblings amounting to seventeen. His parents were John Winters Lusk and Esther Catherine Park.  His father had experienced the historic troubles that happened in Nauvoo, Illinois, and came to Utah in 1851.  He later came to Malad, Idaho in 1866 with two wives, living that first winter in a dugout and two wagon boxes. John Jr. was around six years old when his family moved to Malad, so he was no stranger to the pioneer experience.

One of John Jr.’s full siblings was little brother Park Perry Lusk, who later also homesteaded in the Bannock Valley, around 1906.

John Jr. married Annie Eliza Thomas at the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah on 3 April 1884 when he was twenty-five and she was eighteen. Annie was born in Wales on 23 October 1866 and immigrated to Utah with her family when she was ten years old. They eventually settled in Malad, which was known as a “Welsh town” and was therefore attractive to other Welsh immigrants. (The Malad Valley today has more Welsh ancestry than any place outside of Wales itself!)

John and Annie ended up with a family of five girls and three boys: Florence Ann, 1885; Hazel Esther, 1886, and David Thomas, 1888, were born before their family’s Arbon Valley homesteading years. Other children who were born after their father started homesteading in Bannock Valley included Nevada (“Vada”) Margaret, 1890; Inez Matilda, 1892; Edward Park Lusk, 1895; Annie Lysle, 1902; and John Wayne Lusk, 1905.

John’s name is associated with one of the earliest claims in the Bannock Valley.  Before the area was officially opened for homesteading, many settlers set up squatter’s (pre-emption) rights that they later acquired officially through the Homestead Act. John had a Possessory Claim in the Big Meadows (West Fork Area) in 1889.  This same year, he also acquired water rights on the South Fork of Rattlesnake Creek.  He and his wife Annie both later acquired homestead claims, which were completed in 1913. Idaho wasn’t even a state until two years later.

John build a one-room log cabin that was close to the creek that ran through the corner of their property.  A fresh spring near the creek was where the family got the water they used for cooking and drinking.

John’s son David Thomas Lusk told about some of the family’s experiences. “The creek was bordered by grass [that] grew nearly as tall as a man. In the summer they would mow this grass for hay. They would hand pitch it onto a wagon [and] then haul it to a stack yard near the barns and pitch it into the stacks. The hay was fed to the horses in the summer when they were working, to supplement any pasture they might have.”

“They had four or five cows and [Annie] made their butter and cheese from the milk and cream. There was one big cow that no one but [Annie] could milk, so if she had to be gone someone had to put on one of [Annie’s] dresses to be able to milk her.”

“They also had many horses which were used to plow the sagebrush up so the ground could be used to raise wheat. [John] was a great hand with horses, [and] he claimed he had never found a horse he couldn’t break to be a good work-horse” (Bannock Valley, p. 221).

At least four of their children solidified connections with Arbon Valley through marriage. Nevada married Henry Howell, a man who had homesteaded in what was known as the Knox Canyon Hollow. Inez (“Ine”) Margaret married Jonah Evans and lived close to the old Evans/Newport/North house on Newport Lane (a half mile west of the Arbon Highway).

And those Bailey girls in Arbon must certainly have been pretty, because they captured the hearts of two of the Lusk boys. David Thomas Lusk married Susannah (Anna) Bailey and eventually had six children. Edward Park married Erma Bailey in 1918 after returning from France where he had been stationed during his service in WWI. Unfortunately, she died in 1922 from influenza, leaving two small boys, James Park (1918) and Ralph Bailey (1920). David Thomas and Anna Bailey Lusk then raised these boys along with their own brood. These grandchildren of John and Annie were double cousins.  

Annie Thomas Lusk died 24 July 1923 at Salt Lake City at age fifty-seven, after an unsuccessful operation on her colon, attempted because she had colon cancer. She was buried in Malad, Idaho. John lived another ten years almost to the day. He died in St. John, Idaho (near Malad) on 21 July 1933, at the age of seventy-four. He was buried in Malad next to his beloved wife.


Ward, Laurie Jean, Bannock Valley (Providence, Utah: Keith Watkins and Sons, 1982).

Links provided here will lead to information on other family members.