WILL'S BACKGROUND AND FAMILY
I was happy and proud to marry into the Millett family as their name was well thought of in the community where we lived. Their family was one of the first ones we became acquainted with after we moved to Mesa. As I look back now, I realize more and more how lucky I was to become part of this family. I always got along well with them and was especially thankful to Will's mother who helped me in so many ways after I was married. I think she must have realized how much I missed my own mother after her passing and my father and brother and sister after they moved back to Utah. She always treated me as a daughter, and sometimes better than her own. She often took my side and was quick to counsel Will if she didn't think he was doing the right thing--such as the times he would go off hunting. She thought he should stay at home and help me with the children.
I grew to love Will's sisters very much also, especially Helen, Neoma, and Mary. Helen and I were about the same age and were girlhood friends. She became a nurse and after Will and I were married, whenever we had illness in our family we called on Helen for medical advice and nursing care. She always gave freely of her time and energy whenever the need arose.
Neoma has been like a sister, too, and has also been helpful to me and my family in many ways. Although we always had enjoyable times together (especially when Hope and Lucille were growing up), I have appreciated Neoma more and more as we grow older. After Will and Loren, Helen and Mary passed away, Neoma and I have spent more time together. It has been good to strengthen our family ties by visiting each other and by being together in a group of widows who often get together for dinner or other activities.
Mary meant a great deal to me and we were especially close in our early married life when she lived near us. She was more to me than just a sister-in-law; she was a true friend — always so understanding and helping me over many rough spots by being so handy and always ready to listen to my problems and help me with them. In her own history, Mary quotes, as her creed, a poem which I think fits her very well:
Have you had a kindness shown?
PASS IT ON.
Twas not meant for you alone,
PASS IT ON.
Let it travel down the years,
Let it wipe another's tears,
Till in heav'n the deed appears--
PASS IT ON.
--by Henry Burton
Just as my ancestors played an important part in the development of my own life, so did Will's ancestors affect his life and, consequently, mine and our children's. So I would like to include what information I have on my husband's ancestors. The following sketches were taken from "The Story of Mary Delilah Millet Davis", and are written in her words:
HIS FATHER'S PEOPLE
Artemas Millet (Will's great-grandfather)
"My great-grandfather, Artemas Millet, was the first of my pioneer forefathers to join the Church. Great-grandfather was a mason by trade, and it is interesting to know how he came into the Church. In 1833 at the time the cornerstone of the Kirtland Temple was placed, the Prophet Joseph Smith was discussing the mason work of the temple with the Brothers Brigham to superintend the work, Joseph Young said that he knew just the very man--Artemas Millet, a very wealthy Canadian who wasn't a member of the Church yet. Joseph Young had been a member of the same Methodist Church in Canada with great-grandfather, and Joseph's younger brother, Lorenzo, worked with great-grandfather. Then, the Prophet Joseph Smith sent Brigham and Joseph Young on a mission to Canada to convert Artemas Millet and to have him bring a thousand dollars with him. Their mission was accomplished, and Brigham Young baptized Great-grandfather, and Joseph Young confirmed him a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After great-grandfather joined the Church he brought even more than he was told to bring, and he devoted his remaining life to the building up of the Kingdom of God on earth.
Great grandfather, Artemas Millet, and Lorenzo Young superintended the ' mason work on the Kirtland Temple, and they mixed a special plaster made from broken and pulverized china-ware that the Relief Society Sisters contributed. (I understand that this same plaster is still there today—in 1959.) Before great-grandfather left Canada to join the Saints, he had a terrible sickness, but in his diary he told how he had received a wonderful manifestation of the healing power of the Priesthood. He never lost that testimony and he passed it on to his children. He received his endowments and filled a mission for the Church. He also helped to construct the Nauvoo Temple, and he and his family were among the Saints who were driven from Illinois to Utah. His wife, Susanna Peters, and three sons (Joseph, Alma Senior, and Artemas Junior) came with him to Salt Lake City in October of 1850. The day after he arrived in the Valley, he called on President Brigham Young who asked him to go on to Manti to help settle there. So, these Millets only stayed in Salt Lake City long enough for great-grandfather to build a barn for President Young. They then located in Manti, Utah.
I know very little about my great-grandmother, Susanna Peters Millet.
Harriet Salvania Beal Millet (Will's grandmother)
"I personally know my grandmother, Harriet Sylvania Beal Millet, the daughter of Clarissa Allen and William Beal. She and my grandfather, Alma Millet Senior, the second son of Artemas, were married in the Manti Temple. As a child I lived by these Millet grandparents and Grandmother Harriet would often ' gather her grandchildren around her to tell them the story of how she came across the plains. I have heard her tell her story so often that I am telling it as part of my story with the hope that my family will profit by it.
Grandmother Harriet's parents joined the Church in Vermont in 1843, but they moved to Ohio to be with the Saints. There, with the rest of the members of the Church, they were driven and persecuted for their testimony of the gospel. In 1844 they were in Nauvoo at the time of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Grandmother was only seven years old when she was taken to the meeting where she saw the transfiguration of the Prophet Brigham Young. Sidney Rigdon had talked for two hours, telling the Saints why he, Sidney, should lead the Church. He had his say before Brigham Young spoke, but when the mantel of the Prophet Joseph fell on Brother Brigham, and when his voice for a time sounded like the voice of the Prophet Joseph, it was a testimony to everyone who saw the manifestation that it was Brigham Young who was chosen by the Lord to lead His people to safety — not Sidney Rigdon. Grandmother never lost her faith in Brigham Young as a Prophet of God, and hearing Grandmother tell about that grand occasion and the wonderful Spirit of the Lord that was there in that meeting, made it all the more unforgettable to me.
It was after that meeting that grandmother's folks determined to go West with the Saints. They had brought from Vermont new shoes and bolts of cloth for shirts and dresses for the children, and they tried to get all the other essentials that they would need in a new country where there was no place to buy goods even if there might have been money with which to buy. It took time for them to get the necessary things together, for they were a large family. And in June of 1851 grandmother's mother, Clarissa gave birth to twins (Henry and Henrietta.) the last of twelve children — six boys and six girls.
Great-grandmother Clarissa was a women of great faith, but her body was weakened to such an extent that after the twins were born, she knew that she could never recover. When she realized that her time on earth was almost over, she called her husband and children to her bedside, and she insisted that her husband promise in the presence of their children that he would keep the family together and go with the Saints to Zion in the Valleys of the Rocky Mountains. Just before her mother died, one of Grandmother's uncles and aunts offered to help the family get to Utah. Grandmother's father, William, had only one wagon and one span of horses with which to make the long trip with his big family; but for a new wagon and a fine span of horses and harnesses offered by his wife's folks he would have had to let the aunt and uncle adopt grandmother's prettiest little sister. Grandmother's mother did not want to give her little girl to them and she made grandmother's father again promise that he would keep the children together as a family unit; and he promised.
"Grandmother's mother died one week after the twins were born, and the next day the twins also died. Grandmother said that her father's despair was terrible to see. He was simply lost without his wife. Grandmother, who was only fourteen years of age, tried to manage the other nine children as best she could, but it was a grown woman's job. Her father felt that he just couldn't go west that year, and he didn't. But the children would not let him forget his promise to their mother, and since death-bed promises were considered such sacred things, there was nothing for her father to do except to prepare to go to Utah.
"In 1852 they were ready. Just a very short time before the company was to start, a certain robust woman began showing great sympathy for the Beal family, and she told grandmother's father that he needed a woman's hand to help him with his family on this hard journey. Since she seemed so sincere and the answer to his problems, grandmother's father asked her to marry him. The woman was more than willing, and they were married just a few days before the company started. Imagine everyone's surprise to learn that his woman had a large family of her own children that she had kept hidden until after the marriage. Since she insisted that her own children ride in the one wagon with her, it left insufficient room for grandmother's little brothers and sisters. The three oldest brothers had to drive others' teams and herd cattle across the plains while grandmother rode with another family and cared for their small children.
"Grandmother's baby brother was often neglected, and as grandmother loved him so devotedly, she would take him with her in the wagon in which she rode. One night in a bad wind storm the baby took a heavy cold, and pneumonia caused his death. The family was broken-hearted, and grandmother grieved terribly. They had to bury the baby on the plains without a coffin, and as they left his un-protected grave, they knew that the wolves and coyotes would dig him up and eat the flesh off his bones, as there was evidence of that sort of thing all along the way. It was an awful experience for grandmother — a young teen-age girl, because she felt the death of her baby brother so keenly.
"After about four months in crossing the plains, the long, hard, trying journey ended. As soon as they got to the Salt Lake Valley, the woman who married grandmother's father, William, told him that she was through with him and she left him and his family. She said that she had only married him to get herself and her children to Utah, The worst part of it was that she left the family much poorer than when she came to them, for she took all of the supplies — cloth and everything that she could use—from the Beal's. The children resented this woman very much and they didn't agree with their father in letting her take the things that they needed so much. Even though she must have helped a great deal in bringing the large family across the plains, she caused resentment to flourish in the children's hearts.
"Grandmother Harriet again assumed the responsibility of the children; but she bossed her brothers and sisters so much that this caused further resentment. Grandmother was only about a year and a half older than one of her sisters, and this sister felt that grandmother shouldn't tell her what to do. Yet, grandmother felt that her sister should do as she was told, because the work was heavy and hard. With no mother to direct the children in more desirable ways, the quarreling between the two sisters and the feelings among the other children who took sides became terrible. The girls fought among themselves all the time, and grandmother's father became very discouraged.
"Her father was a drummer, and he began his day's work, except on Sundays, by going to the Temple Square with his drum. He drummed to call all the men to receive their instructions from the Prophet Brigham Young. There were many men and they spoke many languages; it took cooperation to handle the situation without friction. Through divine guidance, Brigham Young was able to keep these people busy and happy. Yet there were some who found it hard to get started in the waste land, and because of their little faith they would have overthrown the success of the undertaking if they could have. A whispering campaign was started against the Prophet and other leading brethren, and since Grandmother's father received no encouragement from his squalid home life, he listened to other's complaints. He, too, was soon partaking of this evil spirit. He began complaining and talking against his leaders and the authorities, especially Brigham Young.
"To add to his confusion, grandmother became sick from worry as the situation got worse all the time. One particular night the children refused to quiet down, and there was such bedlam that it was almost unbearable. Finally, after a seemingly endless time, grandmother fell asleep and had a dream. In the dream her mother came to her and took her to a place where they could talk. They seemed to float through the air, side by side, until they came to a beautiful building. As they entered a lovely bedroom grandmother saw her baby brother — the one who had died on the plains. He was playing so contentedly that grandmother knew that he was all right, and she never grieved for him anymore. Grandmother's mother told her many things that she wanted Harriet to tell her father, but grandmother told her mother that she was afraid to tell her father anything. Her father had become so irritable that she was sure that he wouldn't believe her. But her mother told Harriet to tell her father every word that she had been told, and grandmother's mother assured Harriet that her father would listen, for she said, "He will say, "I will believe every word you say!"
"Then her mother told grandmother over and over again to tell her father that if he did not cease speaking evil of the authorities of the Church, especially Brigham Young, he would lose his testimony of the Gospel, and apostatize. Her mother also told her that if she and her sister did not stop fighting, that they and their father would never come where she was, worlds without end. There were other important things revealed in the dream — such as going to the Endowment House and having specific sealings performed—but the part that I remember best from hearing grandmother tell about it is that her mother repeated her admonitions — that if the children did not stop their quarreling — they could never come where she was, not ever.
"In the dream, Grandmother Harriet and her mother, Clarissa, left the beautiful building. As they started out, her mother told her to remember the things she had heard, and the next thing that grandmother remembered was that she was awake in bed and it was morning. All of the others in the family were still asleep, and as grandmother thought about her dream she became frightened. She was still sick from worry, and she didn't dare to tell her father the things that her mother in the dream had told her to tell him. She took a blanket and went outside and crouched down by the rocks of the chimney to keep warm because there was snow all over the ground. When the family did awaken to find grandmother gone, they started hunting for her. Her sisters found Harriet outside crying, and she told them that she had something to tell her father, but that she was afraid he wouldn't believe her. When the other children told their father that he said to grandmother, "I will believe every word you say.”--just as her mother had said he would, Grandmother Harriet told him her dream.
"From that time forth, grandmother's father, William, never spoke against anyone in authority and he would not allow anyone to do so in his hearing. He became a very exemplary man, and he went to the Endowment House and was sealed with his children to grandmother's mother Clarissa. The children stopped] their quarreling and peace was restored in the home. Not long after, her father married a Danish woman who had emigrated from Copenhagen, Denmark, with her five children. Grandmother's father and this woman, Eliza Neilson Brown, were married in the Endowment House, and four of her five children were sealed to them. Grandmother Harriet and all of her brothers and sisters loved this woman and gladly called her Mother Eliza. They were all very happy from the beginning of their life together. Because they were hard working, the family soon began to get a good start. Then, President Brigham Young called them to go to Manti, Utah.
"It was in Manti that my grandmother, Harriet Beal, and my grandfather, Alma Millet Sr. met and fell in love with each other. Soon after their marriage they moved to Gunnison. Later they volunteered to go to the Dixie Mission in the Southern part of the state of Utah, and they settled in Shonesburg.
"Shonesburg, a little Mormon village located in the southern part of Utah, It is no longer there. The Virgin River, long ago, washed the settlement away, but those Mormon settlers were of such sturdy, faithful, pioneer stock that they didn't wash up. They heeded the counsel of their leaders and moved on to settle permanently elsewhere to help establish numerous strongholds for Zion. President Young later called my grandparents to move to Spring valley, Nevada, to take charge of the church co-op cattle herds.
Alma Millet Jr. (Will's father)
"Their first son, Alma Millet Jr. was my father, and though he was only between five and six years old when his parents received their call, he was tied on a horse to help herd cattle from Dixie to Nevada. Father said that his legs were so short that they just stuck out on either side of the saddle. He rode that way, day in and day out, until the journey of about a hundred miles was ended. His legs chaffed and bled from rubbing on the saddle.
As a boy, Father was in the saddle constantly herding the stock, and because he couldn't read, it was very lonely for him. So, his mother taught him to knit, and he became very good. As he grew older he would sit with his legs around the saddle horn and knit his own socks. He did this until he was a big boy. He had a bag to hold his knitting, and helped his mother with her knitting. Father learned to use his hands in a remarkable way.
"Father rode the range until he was thirteen years of age, and he had no chance to go to school until his father was released from his call to care for the cattle. When the family moved back to Utah Father went to school in Scipio for two years; but when the family moved again to Shonesburg, Father felt that he was too big to go to school. He spent the rest of his boyhood days herding cattle for other men and building a herd of his own. He rounded up wild horses on the "Kolob" and broke them for riding. He was considered one of the best bronco-busters in Southern Utah. But sometimes after he broke a bronc he would spit blood for weeks, and when he married, Mother finally persuaded him to give it up. It was a hard decision for Father to make for he loved to break the colts, and from those early days he gained a love for livestock that he never lost. When he was just a young man he caught the wild colt that he named "Fly" because she could move so fast. She grew to be a prize mare who played an important part in Father's later life. She was the mother of several of Father's famous--Chap, Fred, Leo, and others. At one time her colt, Leo, was the fastest trotter on the Mesa.
WILL'S MOTHER'S PEOPLE
"It was in Shonesburg--Dixie--Utah that Father met his charming girl-bride, Mary Ann Thaxton. My mother was only seventeen years old when she and Father were married in the St. George Temple. Mother, too, was born of goodly parents. Her paternal grandparents immigrated to the West with other Saints and they settled in Manti, Utah. Mother's maternal grandfather, Elijah Averett, left a diary, that is filled with many faith promoting stories, and though I can't remember many of the things that I have read from it, I do recall that great-grandfather Elijah, and his twin brother, Elisha, were drummer boys in the Mormon Battalion, and that Elijah's wife, Cherizade Grimes Averett, my great grandmother, was a member of the Relief Society in Nauvoo. She was also at the meeting when the mantel of the Prophet Joseph Smith fell on Brigham Young. I can still remember hearing her say so emphatically, "Of course, Brigham Young was a true Prophet.”
James William Thaxton and Helen Marion Averett (Will's grandfather and grandmother)
"Mother's parents, James William Thaxton and Helen Marion Averett or Everett (spelled in various ways) were married in the Manti Temple and they lived in Manti for several years where three children were born to them. When they moved to Washington, Utah, their fourth child, Mary Ann, was born. From Washington, Mother's family moved to Shonesburg. Mother grew up in the various towns of southern Utah, and as a child she had to work to help support the family. Her father grew cotton and broom corn, and the family made brooms which they sold to help make a living. Grandfather Thaxton was the town shoemaker, and Grandmother Helen was the midwife. (As a little girl I remember going with grandmother to gather herbs to steep to make a bitter tea for us to drink. We liked her sarsaparilla tea very much.
Mary Ann Thaxton (Will's mother)
"When Mother was six or seven years of age her grandmother Averett taught her to knit. Everybody knitted; they had to, to keep themselves in stockings and sweaters. Mother used four stout broom straws which had the ends burned to make them sharp and smooth for needles while she learned to knit. She wanted to surprise her mother with her knitting; so, while she learned, she hid under the bed. Not until she felt that she could do it well did she show her mother. Mother was always clever with her hands, and whenever she rode or walked or just rested her body, she kept her hands busy. I can remember as a child, how I used to wonder how Mother could do so much knitting while going over rough, jolty roads; but she did. She never went anywhere in a wagon or buggy that she didn't have her knitting.
"Mother was a great woman of faith, and she believed implicitly in prayer. Through her life she felt that she was protected from many evils. Mother used to tell us about her early life, and from one exciting experience that she told, I, too, had my faith strengthened, and I learned to believe in the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Mother's folks had large corrals made of cedar poles at their home place where they bedded the cows down for the night, but during the day the cattle were turned out to graze over the hills and down by the river. It was rugged grazing country, for the hills were covered with pinion pine trees, scrub cedar, | and deer brush, It wasn't safe to leave the cattle out at night for the cougars were so bad; they killed ail the young calves and colts. It was Mother's brother's turn to round up the milk cows, but he had played around until it was quite late and he dreaded to go alone. Mother told him that she would go on the horse with him. (They had a little brown mare that they kept just to ride to round up the cattle.) Mother rode in back of the saddle behind her brother while they hunted and hunted. It had become so late that the cattle had bedded down in a sort of a wash (they called it a hollow) and were peacefully sleeping so that Mother and her brother couldn't even hear the tinkling of the cowbell to tell them where to look. After a long hunt they found the cows and got them up and headed them homeward. The cattle knew the way and followed the old lead cow with the bell. On the way back Mother's brother decided to take a short cut; it was a trail around a rugged peak where an old pine tree grew out from the side of the mountain and leaned quite a ways over the trail. As they came around the bend the mare stopped suddenly and kept moving her ears back and forth. Mother's brother said, "There's a cougar around here somewhere,” and he told Mother to wrap the strings around her hands and to hold on for dear life. Mother held on tightly as her brother hit the mare and caused her to break into a full run. Just as the horse ran under the leaning tree, a cougar sprang down and landed just behind Mother. There were great welts on the mare's hip where the cougar scratched her. It was nothing short of providence that the two riders escaped with no injury. Mother felt sure that she had been protected.
"When Mother was growing up she never attended the schools. In fact, the only schooling that she had was three months during the first year of her married life. That was when she boarded and roomed the school teacher. He taught her at night to read and write and to do numbers. Because Mother regretted so much her lack of schooling, she took advantage of every opportunity that she had to get an education. Mother was quick to learn and she had a keen intellect, but she knew that her lack of school learning was a decided handicap. It humiliated her, and she was determined before her children were born that they would go to school and get a formal education. All during my life Mother gave me encouragement to study hard and learn. I have heard her say so many, many times, "I'll work my fingers to the bone so that my children can get an education.” She literally kept her promise. I have yet to see in my lifetime any woman who worked as hard as my mother for her children. She was always busy, even though she was sick the greatest part of her married life. Mother learned to know people and could size them up quite accurately.
"My Mother and Father passed on to me three predominate, guiding principles which I tried to pass on to my children. My parents learned the value of each of them through the Church's teachings. I can remember hearing my mother remark that to get an education was one of the most important purposes of life. She would say, "You can't be saved in ignorance; learn, and know something, and be somebody.” Thus, getting an education was one of my guiding principles. The second one was to own my own home. My people were home builders in the truest sense of the word. They valued their freedom of ownership, and they deeply instilled that principle in me. The third principle was service in the Church. My parents set the example. Both Father and Mother were diligent workers. Whenever anything had to be done or when donations needed to be given, my folks were always there with the necessary where-with-all. They gave of themselves liberally. I learned that what the Priesthood did for the men, the Relief Society did for the women. From the time I was old enough I have gone with Mother on errands of mercy.
In her early life, Mother worked out for other people. She earned one dollar and fifty cents a week to get her wedding things. Mother and Father were married in the Saint George Temple 2 October 1879.
WILL'S FAMILY AND CHILDHOOD
Will never wrote much of his childhood and since Mary was just a little older, I thought it would be interesting if I included her memories of their childhood in this history of our family. The following memories are taken from "The Story of Mary Delilah Millet Davis" and are written in her words:
"After Mother and Father were married, they settled in Shonesburg where I was born 30 April 1880 and my younger brother Will was born 3 November 1881. But Mother didn't want to raise her family in southern Utah. Grape and apple growing in the summer, and wine and hard cider making in the winter had become such common practices in Dixie that Mother wanted to get away from it. She became so discontented that she kept wanting to move, but it wasn't until the Virgin River took such a terrible toll of the farm land by depositing alkali on the ground, causing the crops to fail, that Father finally decided to look for another place. Grandfather Millet, Father's father, also decided to move where there was better farming land and better opportunities. In 1880, the year I was born, Grandfather Millet with several other men, visited some Mormon settlements in Arizona. He was so impressed with the possibilities of the Salt River Valley that he returned to Utah and immediately began preparations to move to Arizona.
"The Millet company was then formed, and as I remember hearing the folks tell about it, the company consisted of the following: Grandfather (Alma Sr.) was captain with grandmother Millet and their large family; Uncle William Riggs and his wife who was father's sister, (Clarissa) and their family; Uncle James and Uncle George Thaxton, two of Mother's unmarried brothers; John Beal, Grandmother Millet's bachelor brother; and Father (Alma. Jr.) as pathfinder, with Mother and Will and me.
"Mother had seen so much heart ache and sorrow come from drinking intoxicating beverages, and because she didn't she wasn't accepted wholeheartedly. She was anxious to be leaving. Just as an example of why Mother felt as she did and why she despised drinking so: One night when Mother and Father were preparing their supper over the campfire, they became so busy with the food preparation that they weren't aware of what was going on with the children. Suddenly Mother heard some shouts and peals of laughter from a group, and when she looked up she saw her baby boy tumbling around and falling over the bunch grass. When he tried to get up he only fell down again. Mother sensed in a minute what had happened. Someone had given her baby some wine to make him drunk. He was reeling, trying to get to Mother, when she stooped to put down the frying pan, Baby Will fell into the fire. Mother grabbed him out be- fore he was too badly burned, but it aroused Mother's Irish temper to such a pitch that she grabbed the neck yoke off a wagon and went after the men who had made her baby drunk. There was a terrible scamper, and Mother let them have it. She had stood all that she intended to of their nonsense and after that everyone had a wholesome respect for Mother's righteous indignation over drinking. She never could tolerate people who drank, and especially those who tried to persuade others to drink with them. She taught me to hate the practice.
"It took the company about two years to dispose of their Shonesburg property so for three summers Mother planned and worked like a beaver to make her dreams come true. She cut and dried peaches, apricots, apples and grapes in their season. The settlement would have cutting bees, similar to husking bees. After the fruit was cut it had to be spread out on wide boards to dry in the sun. Mother and her sister-in-law, Emmaline Millet Brundage were called the champion cutters and spreaders. Father took the dried fruit "up north" and traded it for merchandise. In this way Mother and Father got a table, six straight backed chairs, one rocking chair (all with cane bottoms), and a Charter Oak stove. Father made a frame bedstead by lacing rope both ways to form squares of eight inches. This held the straw ticks that were filled with threshed wheat straw or sometimes corn husks. Under this bed, which was quite high, was a low trundle bed. This was pulled out from under the tall bed at night for me and Will to sleep on, and in the morning it was pushed out of the way. Mother pieced quilt tops to sell, and in this way she earned the little money that Father let her call her own. Mother also saved all the worn clothes and she tore and sewed what she could salvage into carpet rags. She then had them woven to make a carpet for her new Arizona home. Grandmother Thaxton helped Mother cord the cotton batts that she used in our quilts and the cotton was grown on Mother's father's place.
"After the company sold out in Shonesburg, the members agreed to meet at St. George where there was plenty of room to camp near a river and make final preparations. There they put iron shoes on their horses and some of their cattle, and they repaired their wagons and harnesses to get them ready for the long hard trip across the Arizona desert. While the men were busy preparing wagons, harnesses, and shoeing horses and cattle, the women did Temple work. It was in St. George that Mother gained her abiding testimony of the law of tithing. This was even before President Lorenzo Snow promised the Saints there that if they would pay the Lord an honest tithe, the Lord would pour out His blessings upon them. Mother firmly believed in the principle of tithing, and she taught it to her children. As far back as I can remember we were full tithe payers. Sometimes we had more to tithe than at other times, but no matter how small our amount we were taught to pay an honest tithing.
The Trek to Arizona
"The company left St. George on January 12, 1883, and arrived in Mesa February 12, 1883. It was a record trip, considering the number in the company and the extra amount of livestock that they took. I wasn't three years old when we started yet several things still stand out clearly in my memory. I can remember that the cattle, horses, and people always seemed to be choking as we crossed the desert. And sometime before we got to the Colorado River we followed along a long sandy wash and on the bank, a little way up on the mountain side, was a pipeline several inches in diameter. When we came to the place where the water emptied into a tank of some kind, the men watered the cattle and horses from large buckets.
"Crossing the Colorado River stands out in my memory. The company crossed at what is known as Lee's Ferry, a privately owned concern which charged to take people and wagons and livestock across on a ferry boat. It was risky for the river ran high with thick, muddy water. Since there were so many to cross and because it would cost so much to ferry the livestock, it was decided to have them swim and take their chances. But Mother refused to let her cow "Flour" be driven into the swift muddy stream. This cow had been given Mother as a wedding present and it had just freshened with a heifer calf. Mother paid for the cow to ride on the ferry with us. The wagons and women and children went across on the same ferry. The rest of the herd of horses and cattle were driven in. I could see their noses sticking up out of the water, and sometimes I could see the water sloshing over their backs. As the cattle climbed out of the water on a sandbar downstream from the ferry boat, the men threw their hats and sand in the air and shouted, but most of the women wept for joy. I couldn't understand why Mother was crying, but I have lived to see many tears of joy shed since that time. Not one head of stock was lost, but Mother never regretted paying for the cow's passage. The cow's milk saved the little calf, and she became the "Eve" of all of our milk cows that my folks accumulated in Arizona. Her milk helped very materially with the company's food supply on the trip. She gave a huge quantity of milk night and morning. What milk wasn't used to feed the calf was strained into a large stone crock that rode covered in a wagon corner. By night the milk would be churned from the jolting of the wagon and there would be a mound of butter in the milk that was still sweet. We all drank the milk and used the butter daily, and stayed healthy for the entire trip.
"The company was fortunate on the trip. Everyone felt that the Lord was with them, for the winter was warm and they made excellent time with no serious trouble or sickness. When Pa and Ma, as we always called Father and Mother, arrived in Mesa they had two children, four head of horses, two wagons, the cow and her calf, the household items that they had traded the fruit for, the homemade beds and bedding, the carpet roll, some personal clothes and belongings, one sack of flour, two seamless sacks of dried apples, and fifty cents in money. They considered themselves well fixed.
"We settled on a corner of Main and Sirrine Street. We camped in our wagon boxes until Father built us a twelve by twelve foot adobe room with a dirt floor and a dirt roof covered with arrow weeds and sod. The arrow weed was so called because the Indians made arrows from them. When it rained Mother had to put pans and buckets and kettles and dishes all over the bed and table and stove to catch the muddy water. We only intended to live in this house until we could get material to build on the forty acres that Father bought five miles out of town.
"This one adobe room became so crowded that a brush shed was made for our kitchen and dining room. Soon after the shed was added, Mother prepared to wash and she left the boiler on the stove heating the water while she ran on an errand down to Grandfather's. On her way back, she saw that the shed was on fire. The sparks from the stove pipe had caught the dry leaves on the brush shed. She ran with all her might and with the help of the neighbors who saw the fire too, they put the fire out before it caught onto the brush and straw that covered the adobe room. Mother, in her excitement and "delicate" condition, ran into the house and grabbed the big roll of carpet that she had brought from Utah and carried it to safety. When the fire was out she tried to put it back in the house but couldn't even lift a corner of it. The fire burned all of our clothes that were piled out to be washed. It was our first big tragedy. But mother was quite a genius with a needle and she could make more things out of seemingly nothing better than anyone I have ever known. She would hold up in front of her the old worn clothes that were donated to her, and she could see how to make us children something nice to wear. There wouldn't be much of the old garment wasted as she would rip it apart instead of cutting it, and she learned to always turn out lovely garments from old hand-me-downs.
"My brother George, Mother's third baby, was born 23 July 1883. In the fall of 1884, Father and Mother, with us three children, George, Will, and me, made a trip by team and wagon back to the old home in Dixie, Utah. Uncle Will Riggs and his wife, Clarissa, lived in our house in Mesa while we were gone. It was a slow trip for Father was the trail breaker for the company. The trip took about six weeks, and we were gone about six months. We were anxious to get back to Mesa, and Helen was born soon after we returned, 8 April 1885. Mother named her for her own mother who she missed very much. But Utah had no charm for Mother and she settled down then for good in Arizona.
On the Mesa
"From Utah on this trip, Mother brought back an old St. John sewing machine. It was the mainstay in helping her clothe her big family. Art was born about a year and a half later, 1 December 1886, and Mother often said that if she didn't have a baby in her arms, she had one under her apron. But she was a wonderful mother, and she truly loved us children. She made us so happy in our little one room home in Mesa. She was determined that her children would have better opportunities than she had. She began sewing for other people so that she could get a few things that she wanted. She was a beautiful seamstress and she did enjoy sewing while many women didn't. She always had plenty of work to do, and she kept us all busy.
"The people for whom Mother sewed kept the large scraps left from cutting, but they gave Mother the small pieces. Mother would piece blocks and keep up her bedding. She was one of the most beautiful quilters that I ever saw and she made all of her tiny scraps into beautiful quilt tops. One quilt I remember was a pink and white nine patch. The blocks were so tiny -- one inch square -- that when they were sewn together they made a larger block three inches square. I thought that was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Mother's bedding and her beds were her pride and joy. All around her high bed was a deep white ruffle that hid the trundle bed. We children never dared to go near the beds. They were "touch-me-nots.”
"Since women could not go to the store and buy ready-made things, our clothes had to be made at home. For years there was only one store in Mesa, A Co-op, which barely handled the necessities. Merchant peddlers came through town and took orders for a "pack" which contained enough woolen material to make four men's suits, several ladies' dresses, and some material for children's clothing. This cost $80 which was a lot of money in those days. The men folks in Grandfather Millet's family were desperately in need of suits so it was decided to club together and buy a pack. With the material a tailor came and taught one person to a pack how to make a suit. Mother wanted to go and learn, but Uncle Will Riggs put in a little more money so his wife went. She made a suit that her husband refused to wear because it looked so homemade. Mother persuaded Father to get a piece of the material and she promised to make him a suit that he would not be ashamed of. She ripped his old suit to pieces, stitch by stitch as it was almost thread-bare, pressed it and used it for a pattern. When she finished it and Father wore it, people thought that the tailor had made it.
"Our old adobe room had a large fireplace in the east; it was an ugly thing, but a great blessing as it gave us heat in the winter and served as a cooler for our milk and butter in the summer. Mother had been told that no one could make butter in Mesa in the hot summer, but she was always doing the impossible. She still had her cow and plenty of milk and cream. Whenever she sprinkled the dirt floor and tamped it down, she noticed a cool breeze would go up the chimney. |She took advantage of this and put her milk and cream in stone crocks and tin par and covered them with lids so the soot from the chimney could not fall into them when the wind blew. She then wrapped the whole stack of jars and pans in wet sacks. There was always a breeze up the chimney and the milk and butter kept sweet and cool. When Mother skimmed the milk and put the cream in a jar her mother gave her when she left Utah, Father would tease her by saying she skimmed it with a feather as she skimmed it so closely.
"But Mother had an eye for business. In the summer the U. S. Army, stationed at Fort McDowell, came to Mesa to stock up on supplies. They camped across the road north of us on a big open space there. They usually stayed a week or so, and they used a great deal of canned goods, especially tomatoes. They threw the cans away in big stacks. Mother never liked to see anything go to waste so she melted the tops off, scoured them with brick dust and ashes, and used them to store her butter. One 2 1/2 size can held two pounds of butter if rounded up a tiny bit. She knew she had a ready market as the soldiers always wanted fresh butter. She sold it for 50 cents a pound. The neighbors thought it was an "outrageous" price but the soldiers were glad to get her sweet, clean butter. Mother knew about when to expect them, and she would always begin storing up her butter and eggs. The soldiers liked Millet molasses, too, and since Father made his own, Mother could sell it for a good profit. Father grew the cane on his ranch for a dual purpose. Besides making molasses, the cane fodder was fed to the livestock.
"Father grew the cane and began farming just as soon as our house in Mesa was fixed. With the help of Grandfather and others, he cleared a five to seven acre piece on the corner of the ranch where he intended to build his house. There he planted cane and some alfalfa (lucern they called it) and then he built a mud wall fence around it in order to use it as a hog pasture. The mud wall kept the hogs in and helped keep the coyotes out as they were very numerous and destructive at that time. With our hogs and cattle we had a good supply of meat. It was a real problem for Father and the others to supply enough food for their growing families. But Father was a good provider and with Mother's enterprising ways they made a good living for the family. Mother also worked up a good molasses trade with the Indians, as well as the soldiers.
"Mother got her start of chickens by trading molasses to an old Indian buck for two Dominique hens and an old rooster. One hen started to set soon after Mother got them so she traded a set of pieced quilt blocks to Laura Sirrine, her neighbor, for a setting of eggs. In this way Mother got a good batch of chickens. Father made her two small chicken coops from water willows that he brought from the river. These coops we called "calabooses" and the hens and their chicks were kept in them.
"In the summer eggs were plentiful and very cheap as they spoiled so fast in the heat. Many times Mother would let me have an extra egg or two to go down to the co-op store to get some candy. I could get about a tablespoon of caraway seed rolled in sweetened corn starch, and put in a small cornucopia made from an old "Deseret News" paper or the ''Woman's Exponent. “This tidbit would cost me one or two eggs, depending on the size of the egg and the heart of the one who measured it out. Whenever I went out to the ranch with Father, it was fun to climb on the old mud fence and run around it enjoying my tidbit. There were usually some of my cousins to enjoy it with me.
"When we lived in town, all the settlers of Mesa seemed like one big family. We children were in and out of grandfather's place so much, and my playmates were mostly my cousins or young uncles and aunts about my own age, that it was hard to tell who belonged to whom. Grandmother Millet would often gather us around her and tell us stories, mostly from the Bible or the Book of Mormon or she would tell us about her younger days.
"For amusement in the summer time we tramped around in the mesquites and sagebrush, hunting quail and dove eggs. When we got them, we would puncture a hole in each end, blow the insides out and string them to hang around our necks. Quail eggs were plentiful and some nests would have as many as 12 or 13 eggs.
"Father was away from home much of the time. He was employed by others in various kinds of work, but he freighted mostly to help care for his growing family until he could get his farm producing sufficiently to support them. Father did much of the switching of the freight cars with his mare "Fly" for she was a good puller. He did lots of hauling of grain from the threshers in the grain fields to the warehouses in the valley. He also hauled for Hayden's store from Maricopa to Tempe. Father's teams helped haul the huge dredge used to clean the Mesa Canal. It took 30 head of horses to pull the six wagons on which it was hauled from Tempe to Mesa. Father and his teams also helped to scrape the ditch which supplied water to all of the desert land south of Mesa to the Sacaton Reservation for the Chandler Improvement company in early farming days.
"From Mesa, Father freighted to Fort McDowell and Globe along with others. The men went in groups because it was in Apache Indian country and it wasn't safe to be alone. They took hay to the soldier's horses and stacked the bales four and five high in a wagon box then securely tied it with heavy ropes. One particular time when Father was sitting on top of a load with his gun beside him, he lost his balance and fell off when he reached for his gun as it started to slip. Father's feet were under one of the front wheels, and he had fallen on the lines so the wheel was pulled right onto his feet. He lay trapped for some time until some of the men caught up with him. Father had lost so much blood that the men had to unload one wagon and bring him back to Mesa. His feet were crushed badly, and it looked as though he would never walk again, but by faith and the help of "Uncle George Sirrine" as everyone called him, Father was healed. Uncle George had the gift of healing and stopping blood. He and Mother set the bones, but it was a long time before he could get about, and his feet always troubled him, especially in his later years. But he did get up and walk again.
"While Father was flat on his back with the crushed feet, the black smallpox broke out in Mesa. The epidemic was terrible; in fact, so many died of it that it was feared that Mesa would be wiped our as a settlement. Almost any time in the dead of night you could hear a wagon rumbling along carrying someone to the cemetery. The Dana Home and the Mesa Tithing Office (just across from our place in town) were turned into "pest houses.” Only those who had had the disease] were considered safe, and Elijah Pomeroy and Collin R. Hakes and an army man took turns looking after the sick. The soldier didn't seem to care whether he spread the disease or not. He came out of the pest house and would come around us children playing on the walk. This worried Mother, because with Father sick she had to let us children out of the small adobe room to play. Uncle George Sirrine, the only one in the settlement who knew anything about medicine, advised Father to move to the ranch on the Stringtown road--now called Alma road--and camp until the epidemic was over. So, grandfather and father's brothers moved us to the ranch.
Our Wagon Box Home
"The men took two wagon boxes and set each of them down on two large cotton-wood poles to keep them up from the dirt and keep the water from running into them if it rained. Father insisted on having the wagon boxes on high ground, so the men put them on an old ruin, not knowing what it was. The two wagon boxes with covers were our bedrooms, and the shed that was over the space between was the kitchen and dining room. We found out later that this high spot was infested with rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, lizards, and horned toads. Also, later when Father cleared all of his land and plowed and leveled this spot, he dug many Indian relics. We didn't value them as we do now, and in time most of them were lost or destroyed. The thing I remember most was the quantities of blue and white turquoise beads that were buried with the relics. We children would string them and have many strands twisted together to go around our necks. At one time I had two quart bottles full of beads.
"One day while we were living in the wagon boxes, Mother went to put her baby down to sleep and as she turned down the corner of the bedding, there in the corner of the box was a big rattlesnake coiled up. Thereafter, our bedding was always shaken well. Mother was always afraid to let us children out of her sight, and she never let us answer a call to nature alone. It seemed that as soon as a drop of water spilled, the snakes would come up out of the holes, attracted by the moisture. Living out on the farm in no house was a nightmare to Mother, and as soon as the epidemic was over we moved back to town.
"When Father was able to get around, he again prepared to haul supplies to Fort McDowell. In getting the wagons ready, he painted the wheels and running gears a bright red. Since he had some paint left over, and because my brother Will was such a snooper, Father hid the paint high up behind some hens' nests in the chicken coop. This didn't keep Will out of it though, for he was just plain monkey when it came to climbing. The day Will found the paint was the day Mother missed Will and George. When she began hunting for them she started down the path to go to Grandfather's. As she passed the chicken coop she saw them. Will had painted George from head to toe with that red paint. All Mother could see of George were his two blue eyes shining--bluer than ever—through the red paint. Such a time as Mother had in getting that paint off. All she had to use was turpentine and kerosene. She shaved George's head and then took a knife and scraped what she could. The turpentine blistered him, and he was one sick child from the effects.
'''Will seemed to be born to get into mischief. One day Mother left Will and me home while she went to the store and while she was gone, he took Father's accordion and removed all of the reeds and made whistles. Mother met him going down the road blowing away on the reeds, and when she asked him where he got his whistles, Will told her out of Father's accordion. Mother hurried home and found the ruined accordion floating on the water in the ditch. It was a total wreck. Father never bought another accordion and he never played again. That was a real heartbreak.
"It was always exciting when the Indians came to trade. Mother worked up a thriving business and she was always glad to exchange molasses for wheat which she washed and ground in a coffee mill and used for our cereal. Also the wheat was used for feeding the chickens and hogs. Father brought the molasses from the ranch in big barrels and Mother used a large coffee pot for a measure. She would show the Indians how much molasses she would give them for so much wheat. They brought their wheat in 25 pound cloth flour sacks. The man rode horses and the women walked behind with the sacks of wheat on their heads.
"One day a large number of Indians came to trade. Mother had been getting along fine making them understand her sign language, and everyone seemed happy until one old buck and his squaw came up with a sack only partly filled with wheat; yet he wanted as much molasses as the others. When Mother showed him how much she would give him, the Indian jabbered and gestured for some time but Mother wouldn't trade on his terms. The old surly buck and squaw went off and scowled under a large willow tree by the side of the ditch. All the others were sitting around, contentedly sopping up the molasses with their flat dough cakes that they had brought with them. As they finished their molasses they would go off peaceably. Finally, the old disgruntled fellow came to Mother and decided to trade on her terms; at least Mother thought that he was accepting her terms, so she gave him some molasses. He and his squaw sat down and ate about half of it; then he came back as an "Indian-trader.” He wanted his wheat back, and he wanted Mother to take back the molasses that he had left. She told him "no" by shaking her head. He became very angry and tried to get his wheat. Mother motioned him to go away and sat on the sack and prayed for help. When she saw Parley Sirrine passing by, she called to him, and he came over and made all of the Indians leave.
"But the next morning when Mother was making the bed, the room darkened. When she turned around to see what had cut out the light, she saw the same old Indian standing in the door, his arm raised with a big knife in it. Parley Sirrine just happened to be coming by again and saw this old buck through the door. He picked up a big stick and hit the Indian a hard blow and motioned him to "get.” The Indian went off yelping and Mother never saw him anymore. But she often wondered if she would.
"It seemed that there was always something to worry about in the family. On one of Father's trips back from Fort McDowell he got a most terrible headache. He often got them; they were then called bilious headaches, but I suppose that now they would be called migraine. When he came into the house Mother saw that something was wrong with him. She put him to bed and ran for Uncle George Sirrine. He came back with her and had her heat some vinegar and salt and make hot packs to put on his head, but before she could get the packs ready, the pain got so intense and Father's eye popped out. Uncle George Sirrine pushed it back in place and bound one of the packs on it. I remember hearing Father say, "My head is killing me.” After awhile the pain subsided and Father went to sleep. The next day or so he apparently got all right, but his right eye was always a little weaker than the other, and at times it bothered him a great deal. Mother always knew that Father was healed and had his sight in answer to her prayers.
"There are many incidents that I could relate when our prayers were answered, but one memorable event is worth recording here when Mother's prayers were answered in Father's behalf again. The men of Mesa with good teams went to Picacho, a desert place between Mesa and Tucson to help construct a reservoir. Some of the men would come home on Friday nights to load hay Saturday and get supplies for the next week. On one occasion the men asked Father to stay until Saturday and collect the pay for the men who had to leave on Friday and then bring it to them; they all trusted Father.
"When Father drove in that Saturday night we all rushed out to greet him for we were always glad to see him. As he got off the wagon seat he reached in his back pocket for the sack of money to give to Mother for safe keeping, but it was not there. He was frantic. He explained the situation to us, and we all began searching every corner in the wagon. We couldn't find it and it was dark. All of us sensed the critical predicament that Father was in for money was so scarce in those days. He wanted to go back and look all along the way, but Mother persuaded him that he couldn't see anything at night and she got Father to wait until daylight and sleep on his problem. That night we all prayed that Father would find the money, but Mother had a presentment right after she prayed. It came to her that Father had stopped somewhere to answer a call to nature, and in her mind she saw Father as he stopped the team in a wash. She saw him get off the wagon and walk a short distance to some sage brush. When she asked Father about it, he said that it was so; and Mother told him to go right back there and he would find the money in the morning, which he did! We were all very happy over the outcome, for Father never betrayed a trust.
To the Ranch, Permanently
"Father finally built a two-room adobe house on the ranch that we could move into. After the fifth child was born, the town house was just too crowded with all of us. I was only 7 when we moved into the ranch house. It wasn't finished, and we lived in it sometime before we got the ceiling in and the walls plastered, but it was a palace compared to the one room in town. On Father's return trips from Fort McDowell he had brought back rock from Granite Reef to make the foundation for this new house. Father and his brothers made adobes and laid the walls. It had a shingled roof, a large fireplace in the East end, with windows and a door in the front and back. It had a board floor made of cheap lumber planed on one side, full of knots that fell out and left ugly holes as the boards shrank. We covered the holes with the tin tops out of tomato cans and even though it was a shabby floor we covered it with the carpet that Mother had brought from Utah and never used on the dirt floor in town. However, that carpet only covered one room, and every day before we children could go out to play, we had to sew a ball of carpet rags. By the time we got the walls plastered and the ceiling and the woodwork finished we had enough carpet rags sewed to get a carpet made for the other room. We were very comfortable in this house. Father built a lumber lean-to on the back which made a kitchen and a bedroom for us children.
"Soon after we moved to the ranch a memorable thing occurred. Will took very ill with what was called lung fever. Now it would be called pneumonia, but there were no doctors to diagnose it. Uncle George Sirrine was too far away for Mother to get too readily and she had done all that she knew how to do. Still, Will was growing worse. Someone told Mother that Aunt Melissa Johnson who lived closer was good with sickness, so she got Father to hook up the team and go for her. Before he left we all knelt in prayer to ask for help. As Father prayed, Mother said the inspiration came to her as though someone spoke and said, "Put marshmallow poultices on him.” As soon as Father said, '"Amen,” Mother jumped up and said, "Mary, run and gather an arm full of marshmallow, quick.” This weed grew thick all around the house and I ran out and got some of it. Grandmother Riggs was staying with us to help Mother get settled from the move and she helped pound it. They poured hot water over it and cooked it until it looked like spinach. They made hot packs of it and put them on Will's chest, hands, and feet, and changed them as often as they cooled. They kept this up until Father returned. As he went by horse and buggy it took time for him to go and come, but when he got back Will was breathing normally. His fever had broken and he was resting easily. I had seen Will lying almost lifeless and purple with fever and I saw him change. In my early life I truly learned the power of prayer.
"In due time Neoma, Ched, Hazel, and Lucille were born on the ranch, and this was home for us nine children. It was a hard life, especially for Mother who was sick most of the time. At first we had no well and until Father could afford to dig his own well, our water had to be hauled in barrels from a neighbor's well over a mile away. Our well had nice, cool water and was a great joy to us, but it brought an extra lot of work, too. As soon as we got it, the folks in town brought their livestock out to the ranch to pasture. When there was no irrigation water in the ditches, water had to be hand drawn from our well to water them. Irrigation water ran only when needed to water the crops. So we had to draw the water about 30 feet, hand over hand on a big rope with a bucket tied to one end. It was some job. There were times when we felt put upon by the town folks who had no idea of the work connected with their livestock. Herding and watering them was especially trying, for our farm had a heavy growth of mesquite trees, sage brush, and chaparral through which they could graze. When we first moved out, only one corner of the forty acres had been cleared for farming.
"If Father had been home to manage the boys and the farm work, it wouldn't have been so bad; but Father had to work away from home to maintain a living. He had fine horses and good teams. Wherever there was heavy work to do, Father’s teams were there. Sometimes when he was away for a month at a time, and with no means of communication, then we were anxious for his return. When he worked within 15 or 20 miles he would try to come home on the week-end. Traveling was slow with wagon and team, and many times it would be in the wee hours of the morning that Father would get home. When Mother expected him, she would tuck us children in bed then sit through the lonely hours by kerosene lamplight, knitting or sewing or mending until in the stillness of the night she would hear the tread of the horses' hooves with the rumbling wagon wheels coming home. Then Father would have to leave Sunday night to be back for work Monday morning. It was a. lonely life for Mother on the ranch, and only her devoted love for Father and her children could have made her endure it.
"We were a large family and we all had to work to exist--the girls as well as the boys. My sister Helen with our two oldest brothers and me helped to do the milking. The chores were really a lot of work and it seemed that, invariably, when Ma and Pa were gone the boys always managed to be away at milking time. Helen was wonderful and sensed her responsibility and we would see that the chores were done. One summer we two girls had to do most of the milking by hand. Even now I can remember how we would get up at five in the morning and each of us would milk about ten cows apiece. After the boys were married and had left home, Helen and I were still there milking. Oh, how I hated milking. My resentment grew and intensified in the wintertime when it was so cold and rainy. Even though the cows would bog down in sluch and mud almost up to their bellies, they still had to be milked regularly. My two younger sisters, Neoma and Ched drove with the milk to the creamery about five miles from where we lived. It was truly a toiling existence, but there were many happy memories of our farm life.
"Through the years Father built up a fine dairy herd of milk cows and workhorses, along with some extra fine buggy and riding horses. These horses seemed almost like part of our family. We all loved them and we liked to ride them and drive them hitched to buggies and wagons. In the early days the men would, have horse races and pulling matches with their teams. Sometimes the men gambled on the outcome as the local Church authorities weren't so particular about horse betting or quilt raffling in those days. Father's team, "Chap" and "Fred" were well trained and I remember, in particular, the time they beat Uncle Ike's team that everybody thought sure would win. We were all as proud as peacocks.
"Another one of our horses worth telling about is the one Father gave my brother Will. We all loved to drive him, a light bay. At one time "Leo" was the fastest trotter on the Mesa. Later, one Monday morning Mother had to drive Art and me to Tempe for Normal school. We were afraid of being late, so we hooked up Leo. On the way back, Mother was driving along at a moderate gait when Leo heard a horse coming behind at a good clip and he picked up speed. Mother looked back to see who it was and when she saw Dr. Moeur, who was coming to Mesa to make his morning calls, she slapped the lines on Leo's back and she was off. Dr. Moeur drove fast horses and he and Mother raced until they got to the extension road where Mother turned to go home and he went on into Mesa. He didn't pass her and in a few days he was down to the ranch trying to buy Leo. We didn't sell him but many times later we wished we had for it was almost impossible to keep him in a corral. That horse knew how to open the wire gates by rubbing his nose up and down on the posts. When the gate was open he would make a beeline to the swill barrel. He would stand and eat sour milk and bran till his sides stuck out like a bloated cow.
Indian Incidents on the Farm
"Not only was there loneliness with hardships to endure on the farm, but the Indians had to be reckoned with. Our ranch was the last one on Stringtown, the road running north and south two miles west of Center Street. It was named Stringtown because all of the homes were strung along one road. This road was the Indian's main trail from their Salt River Reservation to their Gila River Reservation. Our place was just about half way. The Indians were constantly passing and sometimes they would come in hordes. A few had wagons, but most of the men rode horses, and the squaws and children walked. The squaws usually carried great baskets on their heads, loaded with their personal belongings. At times an Indian Squaw who was going to have a baby would find a mesquite tree under which she delivered herself. After resting a little while, she would get up and walk on carrying her baby with her.
"In the summer time the Indians were quite a nuisance. At night they camped just across the road from us in a large uncleared field covered with mesquite and sage brush. It was full of rabbits. They would just spread out a cloth or blanket to sleep on, and you could see them all along the ditch banks. We always dreaded this because they were so "thievish. They were really bad about taking things and the sight of them was enough to scare anyone. The men wore only "G strings "--just enough material to cover their privates, and the women wrapped an unsewed piece of cloth around them for a dress, and many of the tiny children ran stark naked.
"Mother had a dog for her protection, along with her abiding faith in the protecting care of the Lord. I can still remember the time that a whole band of Indians came up toward the house while Father was away. They seemed to sense that Mother was alone, and she did look frail. So they didn't pay any attention to her when she motioned them back. One in particular got within a few feet of the. I house before she turned the dog loose on him. The Indian started to run, but not in time. The dog took a hunk right out of the seat of his pants. There were yelping Indians running in every direction and they never bothered us as long as they could see our dog.
"It was always fun to watch the Indians hunt rabbits. They would make a circle about a mile in diameter just east of our house, and they would go around and around running their horses as hard as they could while they yelled and scared the rabbits. They would keep making the circle smaller and as the frightened rabbits tried to escape, the Indians would shoot them with their bows and arrows. I have seen as many as 5 or 6 rabbits hanging on each side of the saddles.
"In town Mother had done business with the Indians, and after we moved to the ranch she built up another trade. We often exchanged fruit for baskets and ollas or ojas--the clay baked water jugs. We would fill our jugs with fresh well water and put wet sacks around them to keep the water cool enough to drink. By putting a wire frame around the baskets we could hang them up under sheds or | in trees, and it was a common sight to see them hanging all around full of cool water.
"In the summer we would hire the Indians to help us pick our fruit on shares. As soon as Father bought the homestead he starred planting fruit trees on it, and when we moved from Mesa to Alma we had peaches, grapes, and apricots with pomegranates and figs all along the ditch banks. As I remember, we always had fruit. Most of our fruit was dried, sacked, and put away for our future food supply until cans and bottles were available.
"The Indians were very superstitious and it was the little things that happened--like Ma taking her teeth out to clean a grape see from under them and siccing the dog on them--that helped protect us from them. They held Ma in awe. Naturally they resented the white people coming and taking over; they took advantage of everyone they could--every chance they got.
"Eight of us children got our elementary schooling in the Alma School District. Mother insisted that we go to school. My first school was in the Alma Ward Church House. The Church was then located in the corner of a partially cleared mesquite and sage brush plot on West Fourth Avenue (across from where I how live.) The Church made a very poor school room. The desks were crude, homemade affairs, and the benches were constructed with board slats that lay across two end pieces that let a part of us through. They were so high that our feet could not touch the floor. It was alright for the big ones, but for us little ones, we suffered. There were no water facilities on the grounds and water had to be carried from the neighbors. The big pupils took their turns in getting it. There were no toilet facilities at first--just the sage brush and chaparral. But the plot was cleared gradually and provisions made and the children had a good playground.
"When Fort McDowell was abandoned, the government tore down the buildings and salvaged what they could by selling the lumber. The people of the community saw the need of a school building and the men hauled the redwood lumber from the old fort and built a small one-room schoolhouse which was painted the traditional red. Joseph A. Stewart gave to the school district the south-west corner of his forty acres, where the Alma School now stands. As the community grew, an annex of five rooms and a long hall around this old schoolhouse was built. The front part of it served as the belfry and storage closets. It was later remodeled to meet the needs of a growing community, and it was looked upon as a fine school building. Everyone was so proud of it. Then some years later a third building was necessary. Alma, my husband, was principal of the school at the time. It was in the old remodeled school building that I taught school for five years.
"Mother had a bad sick spell when I was about 14. She had been ill for some time, but the doctors didn't know what her trouble was. Mother attributed the beginning of her sickness to a fall she had early in her married life when she tripped over a tightly stretched calf rope. She fell on a pointed rock that badly bruised her stomach. It was when Mother was sick in bed that President Hakes felt impressed to call Father on a Church Mission. The Stake President had felt Father out a time or two about going, but Father had told him repeatedly that he didn't see how he possibly could go and leave a sick wife with eight children depending on him. Yet, when his call came it was Mother who insisted that he accept it. Mother assured Father that the Lord would provide, and though Father had quite a battle with himself before he could make his final decision, he followed counsel and was sent to the Southern States Mission.
"Father served thirty-eight months as a missionary, and all the time that he was gone, Mother was sick off and on with her stomach. There were many times when we wondered how we could ever make ends meet and have the necessary thirty dollars each month to send Father. Yet, somehow, when the time came for us to send the money, it was always available. Our milk cows furnished our income and kept us going. All of us children had to get in and work to help make it, but Mother truly managed wonderfully well, even if it was quite a struggle.
"All eight of Mother's children were down with measles while Father was on his Mission. If it hadn't been for the kindnesses of our neighbors, the Porters, some of us could have died. One time Grandmother Porter, as we called her, saw Mother's light at two o'clock in the morning, and knowing that we were all sick, came over. When she found me unconscious she started pouring hot saffron tea down me, and by morning I was broken out in one mass of the bad, red or black measles. She really saved my life. All the Porters were true friends and they seemed to be like Guardian Angels while Father was away. Jane Porter would come over on wash days and help us and she would never take a penny's pay. Mother would give her produce that we grew but the money went to keep Father on his Mission.
"One day when my brother Bill was topping the trees, the ax slipped and split his barefoot between the big toe and the next one, nearly back to his instep. The wound was gaping and Bill was bleeding so badly that we children and Mother could not get him down from the tree. But along came Ott Porter to our rescue. He jerked Bill out of the tree and with his old bandana handkerchief stopped the bleeding. He then carried Bill into the house and Mother, with her turpentine and salve, bandaged the foot and Bill had no bad effects, only a faint scar as a reminder remained.
"I was old enough to realize the kind providence of the Lord to us while Father was gone, and I know that we were truly blessed. He was honorably released and we were surely thankful when he came home. It was so good to have him back to take over. But while he had been gone Mother had paid off our debts and she had a sizeable milk check coming in regularly. Father and Mother then worked hard together and later sent their four sons on Church Missions, including Eugene who was born after Father returned from his mission.
"Twelve years after that Mother was operated on for cancer of the stomach. She was in such a terrible condition that it was doubted that she could ever survived the operation. The doctors could not understand how she had lived as long as she had, and they gave her only a few weeks, at the most a month or so, to live after they sewed her up. But Mother had a righteous desire to rear her family. She lived almost eighteen years more, and saw nine of her children married and settled in homes of their own.
"Sickness and accidents always seem like tragedies when they strike, but many times, looking back on them, they don't seem so tragic. Yet, with the passing years, the scalding of my little sister Lucile in the winter of 1904 still seems one of our worst tragedies. Lucille was a beautiful child and such a happy three year old. It was a horrible experience from the first to the last--especially for my brother George and Perilla his new wife. They had just been married for a short time when they came home for a visit. George was getting ready to take a bath in the bedroom and had emptied the hot water into the tub and went out to get some cold water. "Rilla" was sitting on the edge of the bed near the tub playing with Lucille who had a string that she was pulling. The string broke which let Lucille fall backwards into the tub of scalding water. She was dressed in warm clothes and it took such a. long time to get them off her that her back was simply cooked from her neck to the end of her spine. She lived 10 or 12 days, but with such suffering. We buried her on December 23 while the rain came down in torrents. It had rained for days before and it poured as we traveled to the cemetery. The grave had been protected by a canvas canopy, but the wind had whipped the canvas about and the water had blown into the grave until it was just a mud hole. The rain did let up just as they lowered the casket into the grave--but such sorrow!
"Helen's accident when our house burned down is another tragedy that memory hasn't dimmed through the years. It was in the summer of 1906 and Helen had brought her nine months old baby, Irene, home to live. One evening after she had bathed her baby and put her to sleep on the foot of the bed she went out to the corral. Mother was in the kitchen bathing and getting her baby, Eugene, ready for bed. Mother sent Ched to get Eugene's nightgown from the wardrobe at the foot of the bed where Irene was sleeping. Ched carried a kerosene lamp as there was no electricity, and when she reached for the gown she knocked the chimney off the lamp. Some thin starched dresses caught the flame and in a second the whole wardrobe was on fire. Ched screamed and Helen and I ran from the corral. I took Eugene from Mother and Ched picked up Irene and handed her to me, so that I had both babies, one under each arm. They were screaming so hard with the excitement that I ran out into the alfalfa patch. I grabbed a quilt off a cot that was outside and I put the babies on it while I ran back to help fight the fire. When Helen saw me without the babies, and then heard the babies screaming she thought Irene was still in the bedroom. She went crazy with fear for her baby, and we could not keep her out of the inferno. She ran into the burning bedroom and a ceiling beam had fallen across the door trapping her inside the burning room. She broke through a window and we pulled her out, but she was so terribly burned over her face and hands that we could hardly bear to see her suffering. All of the front of her hair was burned off and one hand was cooked to the bone.
"When Dr. Moeur saw Helen he didn't hold out much hope for her. If she did live he doubted that she would ever see again. She lay for nearly two weeks and we couldn't see her eyes- -just two slits. Dr. Moeur kept her saturated with olive oil and potassium. I don't know what else was in it, but I well remember that we bought olive oil by the gallon cans and had it consecrated. In spite of the care that we gave her, it seemed inevitable that her left hand and arm about half way to her elbow would have to come off. It was such hot weather, and the doctors feared that gangrene had set in.
"Dr. Moeur got other doctors' opinions and all who saw her decided that to amputate was the only thing left to do to save her life. Father asked them to wait just one more day which they reluctantly agreed to do, and after the doctors left, Father called for a Priesthood prayer circle. Men who Father considered people of great faith came to our home, and with our family in the circle, a number of prayers were offered in Helen's behalf with the request that the Lord's will be done. When the doctors came the next morning, they were simply amazed. They said that they had never seen anything like it. When they took the bandages off a great deal of the dead flesh came off with the bandages, and the doctors picked the white cooked meat out from between the cords of her hand. The doctors were sure that Helen would never be able to straighten her hands out, but she did. She exercised her hands and they never went stiff on her. Through the prayers of faith, and with Dr. Moeur's wonderful care Helen made a remarkable recovery, and she has performed a marvelous mission in her life. After she got well, she took up nursing as a profession. She went to everyone's beck and call. When Dr. Moeur had a very hard case, he always put Helen on it. She nursed around the clock, day and night. There were no eight hour shifts then.