Twice now our family has stopped at Cove Fort, Utah, on our way from Nampa, Idaho, to my parents’ home in Arizona. I happened to be very sick this year when we visited the fort. I was on my way to recuperate at my mother’s, so as we traveled, I thought of this story. I hope you like it. It’s mostly based on fact, although the main characters are fiction.
The Church maintained a stageline and postal service between Salt Lake City and St. George at the time my story takes place. The stagecoach stopped at Cove Fort, as did all pioneer wagon trains that went through the area. Although the fort is now “in the middle of nowhere,” it was a center of travel in the late 1800s.
It is a fascinating place. As I walked through it and visited the different rooms, I pictured in my mind what life was like for Ira Nathaniel Hinckley, his wife, and their eleven children.
One daughter really did take care of the milk from thirty cows. And next to the fort was a bunkhouse in which lived the cowboys who helped herd cattle. Local ranchers sent their tithing cattle to Cove Fort to be held there until taken to Salt Lake City.
One thing that especially impressed me was the compassion the Hinckleys had. They cared for many sick people there. Two or three rooms were reserved just for company, including those who were injured or ill, and the charge was twenty-five cents a night only when the people could afford it.
I wondered how Sister Hinckley managed it all. In a rough stone fort in that rough desert country, she made a home that was peaceful and cozy. It was a true refuge from the cares of the world.