(sister to Lerona)
I want to go on with the story, and mention the sacrifices mother made for
us, for I know she will never tell them.
In fact, she didn’t seem to consider them as sacrifices, but as
privileges, and as her mother heart was far more glorious than one who
thinks of each service to her family as a sacrifice.
Mother was born in Farmersville, New York in 1830.
I was born in Murray, Utah, thirty-five years later on September
mother was a widow from the time I was 18 months old.
My first recollection is crossing the Snadridge
between Salt Lake and Ogden. I
was peeking through the little round hole in the back of the wagon cover,
and then childish like, and without reason, I took my little pisy calico
sun bonnet and dropped it through the hole.
first Christmas I remember, I got a doll.
It was the pride and joy of my heart.
And when if fell be the bake oven and burned a hole in it’s
dress, I was inconsolable until mother comforted me as she sat by the
fireplace stitching the men’s coats she was making.
She was never too busy to give consolation, however.
She was always working, stitch, stitch, stitch, stitch with her
needle—and then heating her iron in the fireplace, she would carefully
press her sewing until I almost wondered if she were magic, to make such
the evening she would either tell us a bedtime story, read some poetry, or
a chapter from the bible, and then the song of the spinning wheel would
sing us to sleep. And the
same music would waken us in the morning.
I used to wonder if my mother ever slept.
There is still some of the homespun left from my mother’s
spinning. A pair of stocking
legs of the grandmother’s were still worn by my mother when I was a
child. I asked her about them
one day, and she told me that she had worn them twenty-five years.
They had been refooted and restored, and reheeled many times, but
the legs had only an occasional darn as mother held them up with pride
after that twenty five years of service.
The wool had been spun by hand its full length.
The home spun clothes of those early days were made to last as long
as possible, and not for one short season’s styles.
robes and buckskins were also much used in early days.
foods were of the substantial type, there were no pastries not the rich
foods of the present day. We
ate the food provided by nature, and we even learned many things from the
Indians who dried their meat, berries and savory leaves, pounding them up
together and making it into cakes. After
which they were dried in the sun and stored away for winter.
These cakes were called “Pemmican”.
The biscuits and bread they begged from the white people were
seldom eaten in their fresh
state, but dried and stored away for the winter’s supply of food. The serviceberries, so named because they served so well for
food, were dried in great quantities.
We used them as raisins in our puddings.
pioneer days small couples would come from foreign countries and when
their sons grew up in this country, from the substantial diet of the
pioneers; these sons, of a small stock, would do surprising things and
often pass the six-foot mark in height.
They ate the nature food and nature responded by giving them large,
healthy bodies. Whole wheat,
(ground in small mills), roasted potatoes, service berries, plenty of
produce, cress, fresh milk,, butter and other garden products, in the
season thereof, produced a hardy pioneer people who are now able to face
life and its sternest problems.
were taught, as mother had been, that it was a sin to waste.
If we had more than was needed, there were always others in
need---and our greatest pleasure was in sharing.
The only thing my mother was ever extravagant with was fuel.
She was brought up in New York, where wood was plentiful, and she
couldn’t feel like she was working unless she had a fire going.
I learned economy of fuel from a lady in Ogden, from whom I went to
stay, and learn the Hair trade, when I was fourteen.
She told me to only make a fire on one side of the stove and there
would be enough heat to heat the kettle on the other end.
I was twelve, mother went to take care of my sister in confinement.
Our own orchard was just beginning to bear fruit
I dried $45,50 of peaches, which were shipped by team to the mines
in Montana. The money bought
our winter’s clothes and groceries.
I was fifteen, 1880, we went to Idaho because mother had accepted a
position as housekeeper. The
hired man came for the waste bread—mother had none.
He came again a second time and asked for the waste bread for the
pig. “I don’t make bread
for the pigs,” said the man. “Guess I’ll have to get some bran for
them.” They told mother she saved her wages by her economy.
had been doctor and nurse for years—her health was failing under the
strain and when she was offered the housekeeper’s position at the Boss
Fork Trading Post, now called fort Hall, she accepted.
was sent to Ogden to attend the Sacred Heart Academy.
One half hour was given in the school to dress, wash, comb the
hair, make the bed, and clean the stand.
I had been used to taking half an hour to comb my hair, and
consequently was late every morning.
I always got scolded, until I made up my mind that if the rest
could get through in half and hour I could.
At the end of the first year I was able to do it all in fifteen
minutes. That left fifteen
minutes to study, which I put to good use for the girls who were a year
ahead of me when I went there, were behind me when I left at the end of
was very dainty about my food when I went there, but never after.
We could get so hungry that everything tasted good.
At 4:00 P.M. we had collision, a slice of bread and molasses.
I always begged for straight bread.
we asked for a piece when we were children mother would say,
“If your are hungry enough to eat a piece of dry bread go and get
it.” Nothing tasted better
than a piece of dry bread when I was hungry.
Even yet, I enjoy chewing a crust until it becomes sweet in my
mouth. The starch actually
turns to sugar and is easily digested in the stomach.
1885 I had a room with a relative in Salt Lake City.
My food cost me $1.00 a week. I had everything I desired at an
average of fifteen cents a day One
loaf of bread, five cents, one quart of milk, five cents.
Sometimes I had bread and milk and other times I used the cream and
let the milk sour for cottage cheese, or beat it up for butter milk.
Vegetables were one cent a pound, fruit from one to two cents per
pound. This left two of three
cents a day for anything else I care for Often a friend ate with me but as I bought my extras in
quantities it did not seem to make much difference in the general bill.
I married in 1886, we went on a homestead in Idaho.
There were great expansions in building fencing, clearing the
sagebrush off the land, and everything that goes with building a new
country. Often two of us lived on less than a dollar a week.
We could buy one hundred pound of potatoes for fifty cents.
Jackrabbits were plentiful and my husband was a good shot.
Our meat diet was cottontail or bunny fried in butter.
we had exhausted all our means on the homestead, my husband got his job
back in Pocatello. Every six
months, however, it was necessary to return to the ranch in order to hold
it. Before we proved upon it
my husband met with an accident and lost the sight of one eye.
He thought if I had to make the living, I could do better in some
town where he could help raise a garden.
We got a little home ten miles from Ogden.
I made coats into capes as capes were then the fashion, and did
dress making and sewing of all sorts.
our six months was up my husband again returned to the homestead to look
after things. He wrote to me
to follow, as a man had decided to jump our claim if we did not return.
had two mares with colts, and I ridded up a white top buggy, filled the
box with food and clothing, made a bed on top of everything, put in my
five little children and on the fifteenth of September 1894, we started
we reached Curlew Valley it snowed, so we stayed three days at my
brother’s. After leaving my
brother’s, we camped at night. I
gave the children their supper, then told them stories until they went to
eldest daughter asked me recently if I remembered how the wolves howled
around our camp when we were going back to Idaho to save our homestead?
She said, “I think they were trying to get the colts.”
It was such a lonely place and she thought if I was not afraid, it
was all right. She says I
taught her the greatest psychology in her childhood she has ever learned,
“If it is anything bad, the Lord won’t let it hurt you.
If it is anything good it won’t hurt you, so don’t be afraid of
had the cabin on the homestead stripped of its meager furniture, and had
very little money to provide more. My
husband was sick all winter but I got a little school to teach, a mile
away. It was hard to walk
through the blizzards sometimes, when the snow was nearly two feet deep. One of my pupils, who was a mother who had had no opportunity
for an education in her youth, came daily with her family of children to
learn. One day she said to me
“How can you be so happy in your circumstances?”
“Why shouldn’t I be happy?”
I have school to teach and can provide for my family, and do not
have to live on charity or see my children want.”
years, when crops failed, I started out with a team and covered wagon, in
the autumn, going twenty miles on one side and seventy on the other, to
buy and trade provisions. Once
on my last trip, I was overtaken by a storm.
I never crossed bridges until I got to them.
I had an extra horse tied beside the team.
He got frightened at one of the frail bridges and crowded the team
so that one wheel slipped off into the mire at Mershaw Creek, ten miles
west of Pocatello. The team
just could not pull it out even after I had unloaded all the wheat, flour
and supplies. I unhitched and
fed them and we got up into the wagon to eat our lunch.
I always took one of the older and one of the younger children with
me. They kept me company and
were a great comfort. “We
can’t stay here all night,” said the older child, “What will we
one can cross the bridge until they help us out, “I answered, and before
we had finished our lunch, one of the finest teams I had ever seen came
along. There were two big strong men in the wagon.
They had to unhitch and help us out, but then they went on with out
even offering to help load the sacks of wheat back into the wagon.
I managed it someway and was soon on the road rejoicing in our
winter’s supply of provisions.