Anthony Johnson (A. J.) Stratton was an American frontiersman and early pioneer to Utah and Arizona. He was born in Nashville, Bedford County, in central Tennessee, and while his parents had New England forebears, his ancestors followed the same westering arc of migration of other early nineteenth-century Americans. At some point, A. J. Stratton moved to western Illinois where he affiliated with the Mormons, and then joined them in their forced relocation to Utah Territory. In 1845, in Nauvoo, Hancock Co., Illinois, he he met and married Martha (Layne) Stratton, a native of Kentucky, whose family had also joined the church and relocated to Illinois with the westerly movement of the early church members.
Journey to Utah
A. J. Stratton appears to have crossed the plains more than once, with Anthony Stratton's name appearing on the list of lots distributed to those in Salt Lake in 1848. He is known to have later crossed again working as a teamster for the William Warren's out-and-back company in 1864. It is not known which company the Strattons joined to travel the overland trail to the Great Basin as a family. They may have remained around Kanesville, Iowa (later Council Bluffs) from 1846 to 1848 while they gathered the means to immigrate to Utah Territory. At the time, the Stratton family consisted of Anthony, 24, his wife, Martha Jane, 20, and their newborn, Martha Jane who had been born on March 30, 1848.
In their travels with the wagon train, they would have passed the usual milestones on the Mormon Trail: Fort Kearney, the South Fork of the Platte River, Chimney Rock, Fort Laramie, the Sweetwater River, Independence Rock, Devil's Gate, Green River, Fort Bridger, Bear River, and Weber River. Crossing to the west on the wagon trails were very hazardous, with travelers often succumbing to disease, such as cholera or being harassed and killed by Indigenous peoples.
The first inhabitants of Utah Valley were the Timpanogos Utes. Initially there were friendly terms between the Indigenous people and the new settlers, however, as time passed troubles began to arise between the groups. From the late 1840's to the early 1850's problems grew to the point that in the summer 1853, the Walker War erupted and the conflict was particularly intense in Utah County. Throughout the county, settlers abandoned exposed settlements, made fortifications, guarded settlements and livestock. During the 1849-50 conflict, Provo settlers had built Fort Utah. In the beginning of the Walker War, they determined that their walls were inadequate and each lot owner began constructing a higher and more substantial walls. Anthony Stratton would have assisted in some of these urgent activities.
In 1852, the Strattons relocated fifty miles south to Utah Valley to the settlement of Provo on the Provo River above where it empties into Utah Lake. The settlement had only been founded in 1850, so living conditions would still have been primitive. The Strattons would have built cabins, cleared land, planted crops and tended their livestock. By 1854 the Strattons were in Cedar City in southern Utah. In moving to Cedar City, Anthony J. Stratton was settling in an area dominated by the Deseret Iron Company, known more familiarly as the Ironworks, however, he is not listed as having been employed there.
In 1858, Anthony Stratton and his family left Cedar City and moved southwest to the Virgin River Valley. Stratton assisted in the founding of a colony at Virgin City, situated on the upper Virgin River about 20 miles west of present-day Zion National Park. Using homemade surveying instruments they had fashioned, Stratton, Nephi Johnson and others surveyed the new township. For the better part of the next two decades the Strattons lived in Kane or Washington counties. By 1860, the community had a built a schoolhouse and with A. J. Stratton having a good education for his time, he acted as the school teacher for his community. He also acted as a counselor to the bishop of the local church congregation. In 1864, Stratton went east to act as a guide for some of the emigrant trains traveling west to Great Salt Lake City for William Warren's out-and-back company. In the mid-1870s, Stratton and his sons helped in the construction of the St. George temple.
Relocating to Arizona
In 1877, Stratton accepted a call to help expand Mormon settlements in Arizona Territory. They departed in mid-November 1877 and arrived in early January 1878 at Brigham City on the Little Colorado River, east of modern Winslow. Life on the lower Little Colorado was extreme, with its droughts, flash floods, dam collapses, and field washouts. Stratton and his family pulled up stakes and moved up the Little Colorado where they stayed briefly at Woodruff. However, hearing that things appeared more promising on Silver Creek, a tributary to the Little Colorado farther south, they pushed ahead until they came to Snowflake in Navajo County. In spring 1879, he and his family including three of his grown sons settled in Snowflake on the banks of Silver Creek surrounded by rolling hills. Raw pioneer living conditions prevailed for several years until dams, canals, fields, orchards and homes could be established.
Stratton would later go on to lead a Mormon railroad gang as foreman building the road grade on a stretch of the railroad from New Mexico to eastern Arizona. His son William Ellis Stratton recalled how hard his father worked, yet "his theory was to 'Work while you work, and play while you play.'"
Marriage 3 Apr 1845 in Nauvoo, Hancock, Illinois, United States
2nd Lt. Anthony Stratton, Company E, Isaac Haight's 2nd Battalion, Mountain Meadows Massacre
Buried: R V Mike Ramsay Memorial Cemetery, Snowflake, Navajo, Arizona, United States
1842 Nauvoo, Hancock Co.,, Illinois, United States
1850 Deseret, Great Salt Lake Co., Utah Territory, United States
1860 Virgin City, Washington Co., Utah Territory, United States
1870 Virgin City, Kane Co., Utah Territory, United States
1880 Snowflake, Apache Co., Arizona, United States
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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Anthony by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA.
However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line.
It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Anthony: