[From a typewritten copy, contributed
by his daughter Esther Day Smith, scanned and transcribed by Paul Day,
My father, Eli Azariah Day and my mother, Elvira Euphrasia Cox, both taught school in Fairview. Father had attended the U. of Deseret in Salt Lake City. Mother the B.Y. Academy in Provo, and so they taught a modern school with a six year course, chart class and "five Readers" instead of a "Dame's school" like before in Utah.
They were married in the Logan temple July 2, 1884. But they did not want the "Deps"---Deputy of United States Marshall to put father in the "Pen" in Salt Lake for polygamy, so mother lived with grandma Elvira in her home a block north and one west of "Fairview Center". There I was born June 1, 1885.
Mother taught and so did father. He built an addition to his house - Aunt Eliza Jane Staker Day's home, one and one half blocks north of grandma's. Mother was Aunt Eliza's "hired girl" and the north west room was mother's.
She taught school 'til shortly before Earl was born, Mar 27 1887. I visited grandma often, and there I remember seeing grandpa Orville S. Cox twice before he died July 4, 1888.
By now the "Edmunds-Tucker" law had been declared constitutional by a 5 to 4 vote of the 9 judges of the United States Supreme Court; and the Deps and the Utah Federal judges were busy putting those guilty of cohabitation (the cohabs ) into the penitentiary, and levying heavy fines.
So before Elva was born, April 5, 1889, mother went "on the underground" in Castle Valley, where nearly the 16 Day married brothers and sisters lived; in Lawrence, Emery Co. Utah. I and Earl age 2 liked to climb down into a cellar hole next to the house. One day a water snake came out of a hole in the corner . Quickly I ran to mother and told her, "The devil is after Earl". She helped him out of the hole. I had been told the story of Eve and the devil in the form of a snake in the Garden of Eden,
The Deps caught father and he was in the pen, with 7 of the Apostles for five months. He also was fined $500 which was an enormous sum for those days, - a man with an income of $6.00 a month was well off. People saved every nickel to buy postage stamps. - Paper- "store pay" would not buy stamps. Children found an egg and bought candy. Very few had a nickel for the Fourth of July. Now days it is almost impossible to understand how scarce money was.
In the Pen, all "Cohabs"- polygamous cohabitors - were trusties. George Q. Cannon started a class on religion there which father enjoyed very much.
Aunt Sarah, wife of Uncle Almer B. Cox, died when Rulon was born in March. Elva was born in April, so uncle Al sent Marlin "over the mountain" for mother to care for both babies, She had plenty of milk. The trip to Fairview took two days with a team and wagon.
Uncle Orv - Orville M. Cox - had built Gooseberry Reservoir in 1876 and we stopped there for noon. We had a lovely boat ride and mother bathed Elva in the warm water. We lived at Uncle Al's almost l 1/2 yrs.
By age, almost 4, I knew my A.B.C's and was trying hard to learn to read. Uncle Al's Miriam, then almost 11 years, tells how I saw the word "comfort" on the cook stove, spelled it and asked what it was. Now today, Feb 1967, Miriam, age 88, has 110 g g ch and 202 descendants. At 81 I have 70 gr children and descendants: 180.
With Marlin, Philemon and Victor, we hiked on the west hills; found "Indians santch crops", peeled and ate delicious thistle tops and dug segos; ate flowers, buds, leaves and tender stems of tomato flowers; dug Indian carrots, etc,
The U.S. Government had decided to destroy the Church. The Liberal gentile party in Salt Lake counted a win---and criminals, prostitutes and salons came there. Church property was confiscated and the Church charged an exorbitant rental for temple square. In Manti the Temple was deeded to a Jack Mormon and active Mormons were disfranchised. It about broke mother's heart when the manifesto was issued.
By 1896, peace was established. Utah became a State. An agreement was made that one of the 4 - senator, representative, or governor - should be gentile, and Church property was again restored.
On June 1, 1893, my half sister, Geneva and I were baptized in the Manti Temple. We climbed up the beautiful circular stairs in the west tower and on up onto the top, where we looked out over the country side for miles. One couple were endowed and sealed that day.
"Learn by study and also by faith." (D&C 88:118) "Your agreement with Hell shall not stand." (Isaiah 28:18) Never 'till this hour did I know the true meaning of that! Before 1895 the leaders of Utah were forced to make that agreement with the "Liberal party". Who made it, I do not know. It was made in secret and by word and not written. Some have claimed that the manifesto was that agreement; but it was not. It may have been a prelude to that agreement, possibly.
The agreement was that the Gentiles could choose one of four officials - governor, U.S. Representative, or a senator. Because of it, Utah was permitted to become a state in Jan 1896. The agreement is no longer in effect. In accordance with the agreement, about 1898 Tom Kearn was chosen as U.S. Senator - but only about 65 men could vote for senator. And everybody knew that he and his partner had discovered the Park City mines and that he had murdered his partner in order to get all the millions of dollars from the mines for himself.
It was difficult to get the Utah legislators to vote for him. I think they voted about 34 times before he was elected. It was said that he finally paid $1000 each for enough legislators' votes to get elected. Also it was said that he could not read nor write, which was perhaps almost true. In the six years in the senate, he made only one speech, and that was against permitting Apostle Reed Smoot to take his seat as senator.
Very shortly the U.S. constitution was amended so that the people and not the legislators should elect the U.S. senators.
If anyone in Utah ever ate thistle roots, it is a surprise to me; though I have seen it printed in history books a number of times. We ate thistle tops. Indians in Sanpete certainly planted a number of "snatch crops". Certainly pine nut trees and service berry bushes; also segoes, thistles, tomato flowers and likely wild carrots, bull berries, wild choke cherries etc. They planted them, weeded them and harvested them.
In Thistle Valley, eleven miles north of Fairview, an Indian planted three acres of alfalfa for his wild jack rabbits. Just before sundown the rabbits would be eating alfalfa by the hundreds; it looked like by the thousands.
Pine nut trees made such good fires and were so nice for buildings. Rabbits ate crops and the whites organized rabbit hunts and killed them by thousands and the Indians had no rabbit skins for quilts or for clothing or food. The whites let the piles of rabbits lay and rot.
When a hungry Indian shot himself a nice cow a white man shot him and the war was on. When war was threatened in Thistle Valley and a big peace meeting was held - the Indians said, "What Orv Cox say, we do," and peace was continued.
Elva had died from scarlet fever in Castle Dale Nov 11, 1890 when I was five. One day I climbed on a neighbor's hay stack to pitch, down hay. I fell off onto my back on the upright tines of a fork. Earl, age three had to pull three times to get it out of my back - with me saying, "Pull harder." I was abed two or three days.
At a neighbor's, they asked me to count to 100 - to count by fives,
by tens and to say the
alphabet forward and backwards.
1890 - 1893 was the worst time for the Church since Johnson's Army and the period from 1857 to 1865. In 1889, by hiring "repeaters" who want from one voting place to another and voting again and again up to as many as 23 times, and having voters vote in the name of men long dead, and by having these illegal votes counted through Mormon-hating officials, appointed by the Federal Government, the Gentile Liberal Party won in Salt Lake City, Ogden and the mining camps and railroad towns. In Salt Lake City, a policeman said to Uncle Am, "Be careful after dark, men will knock you on the head for a dollar."
Mormons by the thousands abandoned their homes and moved to Mexico, Canada, Colorado, Wyoming and Nevada. In Idaho, Mormons were disfranchised. Democrat Cleveland was elected president and Utah became a state and 95% of the Mormons voted Democrat. In Fairview only 2 Mormons voted Republican of 300 voters. One was father and the other was Eli A. Day; and how he did argue politics. Pres. Joseph F. Smith said, "Not good. We must vote half and half. So persecution will cease and Mormons and gentiles can be friends." Fairview became Republican.
In 1891 Father was teaching in Castle Dale and Mother in Cleveland. About 8:30 one morning in late April, father appeared with a team and wagon. Boxes and chests were hastily loaded and we were on our way. One horse was balky and the other would not pull us up out of a hollow. Father went to a house nearby and borrowed a horse to hitch on the end of the wagon tongue. Again at the Price River, the horse would not pull the wagon up out of the deep water. Father carried trunks and boxes along the wagon tongue and we walked along on the tongue to shore. Finally the horses pulled the unloaded wagon to shore.
A hundred miles east, we camped over night by the Green River - high, wide and deep. Father asked about the ford. There I saw for the first time a train. Crossing the river, Mother was sure we were headed wrong and we would all be drowned in the deep holes beside the ford. She tried to take the lines, but father would not let her. He brought us safely to shore.
We lived for three weeks at Brother Oliver's home in Moab and I fell in with a cute little three year old, Ethel. When she was seventy I met her in Salt Lake and gathered enough courage to tell her about it. She seemed very pleased.
The "Deps" came to town and we were on our way south east to Mamcos, Colorado. We saw the "Looking Glass" high on a mountain peak - saw the sky through the big square hole, and camped in a canyon with perpendicular walls. Next morning while mother cooked breakfast on a sagebrush fire, I went around the bend. I threw rocks across and when one hit the opposite wall I yelled "Whee!" A little boy yelled right back, "Whee!"
"Hello," I called.
"Hello," he answered.
"Who are you?"
"Who are you?"
"What's your name?"
"What's your name?"
I went back to camp, "Ma, there's a little boy down there that mocks me every word I say." She explained about the echo.
Near Mancos, father worked with his team on the railroad grade. I became six and had my first remembered birthday. My father was the only man in the country who knew how to figure lumber measurements, so brother Wheeler hired him at his saw mill till time for snow. Here Erael was born Sept 24, 1891.
Mother sent Earl and me through the deep woods to a spring for good drinking water. It was getting dark. Something went "Hoo! Hoo!" We looked all around. Was it a lion or a bear? Ma said it was an owl - a big bird.
In Mancos for the winter in Bro. Jensen's old one room log house we lived, then in the spring father went back to Fairview. Mother got a letter. She held it by the open stove door by the heat. Brown writing appeared and she then read it to the end. Then Ma wrote to Pa and signed her name. Then she got a spoon full of skim milk and wrote some more; but I could see no writing.
In 1892 they put father in the pen for three months and fined him $300. They held over his head three years for unlawful cohabitation and a fine of [$10,000 ??] and made him promise to have no more children by his second wife. [Another source has him in prison in 1888-89 - but he actually went to prison twice, so 1892 is the second time, and there were different fines for each prison term.]
When Utah became a state in 1896, mother figured the promise was ended. Father thought he should keep it. Should one keep a bad promise? In Mancos, mother was out of food except some wheat to boil. For three weeks no milk, butter, meat, nor potatoes, - only boiled wheat. Finally a man who owed us money, paid, and we had some bread and butter. How good it did taste.
As we ate, she told us about the terrible famine in Russia with millions dying. She showed us the crumbs on the floor and told us that in Russia they would pick up every crumb and eat it. Since then, with so many hungry people in the world, I have hated to see food wasted.
Mother sent me 3/4 of a mile up the road with deep snow on each side to ask for a letter at the post office store. A young man gave me five cents. I started for home. He held my shoulder: "Ain't you going to buy some candy?" "Please, Mister, my ma's awful poor; can't I give it to her?" He let me go.
A letter came from Fairview with a $20 gold piece sewed up in black velvet,, Mother got a railroad map. It showed every state, city, river, and mountain on the map. Some wavy lines were on the map. "What are they?" I asked. "That is the ocean." "Is that what the ocean looks like?" How I longed to see it.
After three days on the train we reached Fairview on Easter Sunday. We went to live with Grandma. Uncle Am raised food on her farm. Monday, I started school. Miss Lewis had me read front, middle and back in the big charts that took a year to finish. Then she gave me a first reader. That evening she told me to go upstairs next morning to Miss Beck and the second reader. Six weeks later Miss Beck told me to go into the third reader in Sept. - 3 years of schooling finished in six weeks.
That winter I and Earl rode one of Uncle Am's frisky horses to the post office. I told Earl I could ride on the lope. I lit on my head. Cousin Almer carried me home. Two hours later I woke up crying with a bad head ache. Mother looked so worried. In 1892 we moved into Grandpa's old empty three roomed log house a block north and one west of Grandma's. The apples and prunes on the trees were so good. In the garden, the madder that grandma had used the roots to make her orange dye, grew like redroot weeds.
Home from the pen, father's property was all gone. He taught school in Fairview, in Oak Creek three miles north; in Milburn five miles north and in other places for 40 years. How his debts had piled up! Mother taught in Birch Creek, three miles south; but she almost died from typhoid and had to stop.
They had four teachers in Fairview in the winter with 50 to 110 pupils/each, sitting two to five in a seat - but only 2 teachers in the spring with 15 students each. I and cousin Orville M. sat in the same seat. How I loved to study the geography; how he loved to watch me and grin. I was eight and he was fourteen. He made me such a lovely sled for Christmas.
In 1893 Mother and Mr. Todd taught in Milburn and I was in his room. In March he was teaching the advanced students how to factor composite numbers and I was wondering how he got the 2 and 3 to divide by. Suddenly his willow was on my back.
Snow was almost gone and father took me out of school to herd cows. Before I was nine I finished reading the Book of Mormon. Then I started on the Bible. Again and again I bogged down. A bit later I tried again, beginning at chapter one. Finally I put a 1 at the bottom of each page as I finished, it. It took me years.
At age 16 I had a small New Testament; irrigating 'till 2 A.M. and with a sagebrush fire - I finished it in intervals between irrigating. But it was 50 years before I could understand parts of the old Testament --- not even yet.
As we peeled apples, sewed carpet rags, raveled woolen stockings for a blanket- one of us would read aloud. I had 3 cows to milk night and morning. Then I must take them a mile to the pasture. At age nine I was so sleepy in the morning, mother hated to call me in time, and how Guy C. Wilson did scold me for coming late to school.
In late December, snow was deep, Mother said to come home at noon. I played marbles almost the whole noon hour. Mother said to go back to school. I walked two blocks, then headed for Alaska to get a million dollars in gold. But after 7 miles, near Hilltop- the road gave out. I trudged on in snow 2 feet deep until I gave up and went back home.
I was ten. Guy C. Wilson was the school principal. He came down and wrote 05 on the black board. "Who can read it?" Two hands were raised. "Come upstairs," he said. And there I was, age 9 in a class with young people 16 to 30. These older girls were all my friends, but girls my own age were strangers.
In 1895 in the fall, Mother went to Provo to learn obstetrics. There they had eighth grade instead of fifth reader. I was in the sixth grade. In the spring of 1896 Mother took me toPatriarch Evans in Provo. In the blessing he game me he said, "You shall continue the work of Genealogy already begun by your forefather's and your record shall be made perfect. You shall be visited by the spirits of the just." This promise fulfilled 27 years later,
Fairview people began selling milk to the creamery. For one cow's milk they got $6 per month. Every family had a cow so now all had become rich. Also by walking and carrying eggs a mile to his home, Brother Amundsen would pay cash for eggs, instead of paper store money, and father got 25 cents a bushel in store credit for his nice crop of potatoes.
At age 11 in the fall of 1896 in October, I was walking behind the harrow on father's dry farm. At 3 P.M. I was tired and lazy. Should I stop and rest after 5 hours of harrowing? I was not perspiring - so I must be lazy, so I kept on going.
Every fall and spring I was doing farm work while father taught school. While snow was on the ground I went to school. In the fall of 1897 I was ordained a deacon, and every Monday evening found me in Deacon's meeting. I was in the eighth grade for 4 years during the winter. A.U. Miner was teacher. After graduation at age l5, I went again that winter and read every book in the school library.
Sadness unspeakable! Father and Mother separated, in March 1900. I stayed in school 'till June and graduated from the eighth grade. There were 7 girls and 1 boy in the graduating class. Every eighth grade graduate must pass the difficult examination questions. I was given the highest marks of anyone in Sanpete County, in 1901. The summer of 1900 I worked "over the mountain" at Will Cheney's saw mill. He paid me 50 cents a day and meals. At the saw mill I slept all summer under a pine tree at night.
In 1898 I so much wished I might know the gospel was true. I bore my testimony of belief in the Gospel in Sunday School class and again in Deacon's meeting Monday evening- also in the Y.M. Mutual meeting on Tuesday - then in Religion Class on Wednesday afternoon. As I stepped out the door I received my testimony. How I did rejoice. Then 1 felt sad that I must wait an entire month to bear testimony that I now was sure.
Uncle Walt and Am had purchased some excellent Holstein cattle from
Wisconsin and mother got "Old Mary" from Uncle Am. How gentle and
tame she was, and so easy to milk. Instead of two or three quarts to a
milking, she gave three gallons and even more. At age almost 13 I got my
first job for money and Jordon Mower paid me 25 cents for plowing with
a hand plow while he grubbed brush. We got home at 10 P.M. How I wished
I could get another good job like that.
B. Y. A. Years - 1901-1907
I was now sixteen. Mother's job as postmistress paid $30 per month. The Y had been her school. Mrs. Carlson, with her children - 3 boys, one girl and an orphan living with her, was moving to Provo for the school year. Three of us were to pay in advance $10 per month for lodgings; nine of us were to live on $30 per month.
The first Saturday, I got up at daylight, got a sandwich and walked four miles onto Provo Bench. The first place I was brave enough to ask gave me a job cutting wood at $1 for 10 hours plus dinner. Next Saturday, Bishop Wentz told me I could get a job a mile farther on harvesting carrots; another $1.
Next Friday -- three weeks almost -- Peter Carlson demanded that I borrow $10 and pay a 2nd month in advance. I was too bashful to borrow. Instead I asked Uncle Allen Cox if I could board at his home at $10. Yes. [Allen Cox, born 15 June 1858, was half brother of his mother. He was the son of Mary Elizabeth Allen Cox.]. Uncle Allen had the janitor job at the Y; Eugene Cox, age 15, helped him. In the hall, two boys were wrestling. Eugene wanted to sweep where they were lying. He tickled their faces with the hair floor brush. They got up. The underneath boy, angry, hit Eugene with floor brush and caved in a piece of his skull two inches long and an inch wide at the top of his forehead.
The boys carried Eugene, unconscious home. On request, the Y Vice President and a professor administered to Eugene. "This is a case for doctors," said the V.P.
"We must operate immediately on this boy and put a silver plate in place of the broken bone, " said the doctor, "otherwise the boy will surely die or be an idiot all his life." "But if you operate, will he be cured?" asked Uncle Alien. "We will do the best we can."
Uncle Allen and Aunt Hattie consulted and decided to depend on the Lord. James Hall of Springville had many miraculous healings, so they phoned his home in Springville. But Hall, a Bishop's counselor, was at a Bishop's meeting and did not get the phone message. Instead he said, "I must go to Provo."
The last train left for Provo at 8 P.M. and Bro. Hall was on it. Neighbors met the train at the depot and took him to Uncle Allen's. He poured olive oil in onto Eugene's brain and the bone raised itself back into place. This was Friday Eve., Monday morning Eugene was back at the Y. A week later I was living at Uncle Allen's.
Eugene and I became chums for a year and a half. I helped Uncle Allen build his new house for my board 'till Christmas while I attended the Y.
After Christmas I got a job on Provo Bench tending sixteen cows and horses and driving four and a half miles thru deep mud to the Y. For the only time in my life I became very homesick and went home in April.
The Vice Pres. of the B.Y.U. was counselor in the stake presidency of Utah Stake, which included all of Utah county. They released James Hall as Bishop's counselor in Springville. They wrote him a letter to never go outside his own ward to heal the sick. He wrote to Pres. Joseph F. Smith and received the answer, "If they asked me to come, I would go." He continued to heal the sick. They cut him off the church. Was the Stake Pres ‘s counselor jealous?
I had some most terrible tooth aches. Some one told me Bro. Hall cured tooth ache. I wrote him a letter. He wrote back,"Say a silent prayer, then say softly: Brother Hall, I've got the tooth ache, and count ten slowly." My tooth ache stopped instantly every time.
Brother Hall got old and ill but could not die. He asked forgiveness and was re-baptized and died peacefully. My tooth ache came back. I had them pulled and got false teeth. I still do not understand Brother Hall's case.
Ward Sunday School was at 10 A.M. - Sacrament meeting at 7:30 P.M. About all the young people attended these two. Also a Stake meeting at 2 P.M.. Eugene and I made a New Year resolution to attend these 2 P.M. meetings every Sunday. I think no other unmarried persons were present. We loved to hear George H. Brimhall preach. Once he was asked to preach on the Doc. & Cov. Sec 76: the three degrees of Glory. He quoted verse 1 : "Hear, ye heavens and give ear, O Earth," and explained that not even the angels knew about the 3 degrees 'till it was revealed to Joseph Smith. We were most interested.
Another time he was scheduled to talk, but another long-winded speaker talked 'till ten minutes after four. Then they called on Brimhall. We were so tired. He stood up and said exactly two words and not one more. We young people surely liked him. At the Y he explained how selfish, how exceedingly selfish, it was for the first one to sit on the end seat and make others crowd past him. Another story: He said he rode his horse six miles, and remembered he had forgotten something. He would not punish his horse for his forgetfulness, but walked back home to get what he had forgotten.
Again, how memory of a lustful story told in his hearing came into his mind and he thought of the prophet Nephi to drive out the evil thoughts; that he even cried out loudly "Nephi".
Judge John E. Booth was another that we all liked to hear. When I was 13, he and apostle Reed Smoot came to Fairview to Sanpete Stake Conference. He bore testimony that he knew the gospel was true just so far as he understood it. I thought that the most peculiar testimony that I had ever heard. But Smoot said, "That is correct. One cannot know anything is true that he does not understand."
Then Booth told of a remarkable dream he had; that he was a servant in the Celestial Kingdom. His master was kind enough, but when he said, "Go" he went. There were no if, and ands, or buts about it. Go, meant go. And he went ' till he got out of sight. Then he clenched his fists and said, "Oh, I wish I was back there again, I'd take any of em."
He was back here and he married three. His wife asked him to tend the baby. In those days, little babies wore dresses about six feet long. When he heard her returning, he tied the babies clothing in a knot and hung it on a nail on the wall and left. She never again asked him to tend it.
At the B.Y.U about 400 of us went to his Sunday School class. He wrote something on the blackboard and someone said he could not read it. "Well," he said, "Your education has been neglected worse than mine, "I can't write, but you can't read."
He told how, on his mission, he showed an architect pictures of the Salt Lake Temple. "I never saw a building like that; beautiful, perfectly designed, perfectly balanced. Who designed it?". "Brigham Young." "But who told him how?" "The Lord did." "I don't believe it." "Then who did." "I don't know." "Then I shall continue to believe so."
When the temple was half built, some one said, "We must tear it down and build chimneys for fire." They asked Brigham Young, "Are they in the plans?" "No." "Then keen on building."
Later they came to holes in the wall, and asked Brigham, "What are they for?" "I don't know." "Shall we leave them out?" "No, follow the plans."
Later smaller holes- ditto. The larger holes were exactly where needed for steam heating pipes. The smaller holes for electric lights. - both invented later.
Later, when a men's dressing room was needed, a basement north of the temple the builders wondered how they could get thru the 16 foot thick foundation wall made of great stones, each weighing several tons. They could not use dynamite. They studied the original plans. There was the door they needed nicely outlined. The stones were easily removed. A miracle in stone.
I tried going to Stake priesthood meeting. Only a few old men were there. They discussed flooding by Utah Lake. I never went again.
I was again at the Y in 1902 for summer school and in Sept. was teaching at Axtell in Sanpete Co. Mother moved to Provo. I sent her $30 per month and paid $10 for board plus tithing. My wages for teaching were $45 per month. I had the janitor work at $5, which paid my expenses to teacher' s institute for three days in Salt Lake and monthly county Teacher's convention in Manti.
In Feb. someone complained that I carried water in the school drinking
bucket to mop the floor. Yes; but I poured the water on the floor and carefully
set the bucket outside as I mopped and then wrung out the mop rag on the
ground. Everybody talked but me; I said not one word.
One trustee advised me to quit; so I went home to Provo. March 1, I got a job in Colorado helping build a new railroad; wages for ten hours $2.75 and board per day. From sundown to dark a mountain lion followed me, walking five miles down the canyon I could feel the lion coming closer as it became darker, I became more frightened. Some dogs barked and the lion left. The boss liked me and called me "Deacon."
Big "Slim" from Texas hated the Mormons and swore and profaned at them when I was near. He had trained to be a pugilist. Two men had a quarrel that led to blows, perhaps our lovely cook said how she hated for men to quarrel and fight.
The Boss took a daily paper. The headlines told how little Japan had won a great victory over big Russia. Slim grabbed the paper and read the long story to himself while the rest of us stood there wishing. Finally Slim finished page one and turned to page four.
"Let me take page 1 of the paper and read it. aloud while you read the
"Yes, "said the boss, "Let Deacon take the paper and read to the rest of us."
How mad Slim got! Cursing and swearing, he slammed the paper onto the ground. He went. I looked after him, wondering. Then I read the article aloud.
When I went to my tent, there Slim was talking with the two boys who
slept there also. "Keep away from me or I'll knock your block off." "Oh,
I don't know." "Maybe, you think I can't do it?"
"Oh, I don't know." "Step outside and I'll show you." He started to hit my face. If the blow landed, I never knew. I grabbed him and threw him down, while he was hitting my head and face. So I hit him a few times, in the face as he was getting up. This time he landed in a position so he could not hit me.
Around came my fist to hit him in the face. "But," I thought, "It's a cowardly trick to hit a man while he is down." "If he had me down he would hit me." Around came my fist to stop an inch from his nose.
A good friend touched my shoulder. "You two had better get up." Slim had enough. The fight had lasted ten seconds, or more. My two tent companions had only their heads out of the tent opening,
How bad I did feel as to what the beautiful cook would think of me for getting in a fight. Every man working there was now my very good friend. Slim quit his job and left.
The cook said to someone, "Nothing in my life ever pleased me so much as for the Deacon to whip Slim." He told me and I felt better.
Nearby was a reservoir. I asked the others to go swimming with me. "Not in that cold water." ? In July or August? So I went alone. Could I swim across it? But I was alone. So I swam around it - perhaps half a mile.
In Sept. I went to the Y in 1904. In 1905 I worked in the summer in Mercur. In Sept. 1905 I began teaching at Mill Fork on the railroad east of Thistle. Wages $75 a month.
Back to 1903 ---
July 1903 on the 4th, Eugene and I rode bicycles to a fireworks celebration, from a boat house l5 yards out in the lake. Perhaps 3,000 people were on shore watching. Several boats were by a pier. I stepped into one. Three strange younger boys stepped in also. One pushed the boat away from the pier. Slowly we drifted past the boat house. Others in boats hurried to shore. The off shore wind grew stronger. An oar lock was lost. The waves grew much bigger. I could barely reach bottom with an oar and poled toward shore. A younger boy tried to help and almost tipped the boat over.
Now the water was only abt 3 ft deep, but the wind was so strong I could make no more progress. I felt responsible for the younger boys' lives. Hurridly I undressed and jumped into the water on the side away from shore. The water was up to my chin. I lifted up on the boat to get traction and waded toward shore. When the water was only 3 ft deep, I put on a shirt so people would not see me naked. I pulled the boat to the pier and climbed in and dressed. Almost every one had gone. No one had noticed us. Eugene and I peddled home on bicycles.
Back to 1905 and Mill Fork:
I started a Sunday School in Mill Fork. Mother lived there with Arael and Heloise. Each month I went by train to Provo to Teacher's Institute and also to Stake Sunday School Union Meeting. I bought my ticket in the depot at Mill Fork and the train stopped for me. But it would not stop for me on the return. I could get off at Thistle and walk up 11 miles, or at Tucker and walk down 12 miles.
One Sunday, after Saturday Teacher's Institute, I walked 11 miles up. But Union meeting was Sunday - 2 to 4 P.M. One Sunday evening I climbed on a freight car and the brakeman let me ride, after I told him my story. Another Sunday I bought my ticket to Tucker and asked the conductor to let me off at Mill Fork. He said, "No, you must get off at Thistle or at Tucker."
I said, "I'll get off at Mill Fork." He said, "No, you can't." I said, I'll get off." Going up that steep grade, the train slowed down going around a curve. I jumped off and fell down, but was not hurt one bit. From Tucker the conductor phoned the station master at Mill Fork to "go pick up a dead man."
I attended the Y. For the spring term I needed 32 hours credit to graduate from the Normal course- 20 hours was the limit. I petitioned the faculty. My teachers were in favor and my petition was granted. My average grade for the 32 hrs was B+. I took again the courses for which I had got no credit the year I quit school in April. Prof. James Swenson was my teacher in European History. A classmate said, "I wish I had your memory."
I asked, "How many times do you read the lesson?" "Once." "I read the history book thru at the beginning of the year; read the lesson three times before class and once after the class to understand the teacher's explanation."
"If I read it five times, I'd know it by heart."
"Well, then." ---
Often Prof Swenson, trying to think of the long word he wanted, would look at me and I would say the word he wanted every time. How I did it I do not know to this day.
In Physical Geography class, Prof Tanner, asking a difficult question would raise his arm high with his finger pointing and on the last word of the question, point at me. Usually I had the answer. One question was: "Twenty great scientists and professors were asked to name the 10 most important books published in the nineteenth century. Guess what the [number 1] book was? Mine was the only hand raised. I asked, "Is it, Uncle Tom's Cabin?"
"No; some named that as one of the ten. But the only book every one named was Darwin's "Origin of the Species." So I borrowed the book and read that long book 3 times.
I liked it, especially one sentence: "God created new species; perhaps this is the method they used." I could never understand why atheists quoted that bookk in support of their stand when Darwin, the greatest scientist of all, believed so surely in God. I also read his "Descent of Man" but did not like it because of so many obvious mistakes in it.
His explanation of a woman's period, going back to a little worm at high tide, is so ridiculous compared to the song. "And when you have kissed her, you cannot resist her. That's what a little moonlight will do."
1907 - I came to Highland to teach school. I married my wife from here. I taught here 8 years. Highland has been my home now for sixty years- next Sept. In Aug 1907 I was very ill with typhoid. My head and back hurt so bad; the bed was so hot and lumpy. Elders administered to me; the aches stopped; the bed felt so cool and pleasant. Repeated exactly 3 days later, and once more. Then I got better.
But in Highland 1 1/4 miles to walk to school, the walk took me two hours. I told the waiting children that soon I would be the first one there. 28 pupils- 9 grades. I started a Sunday School. It grew larger and larger 'till in 1914 it became a ward, the best in the Stake. For us to learn tunes I played the organ with one finger, I played games with the children, baseball, prisoners base, and many others. I visited every home in Highland and became friends with every family. Of course I talked religion. Three families got ready and went to the temple. One quit making beer. The children said that in a year they had not been to Sunday School once. Boys quit using tobacco and became bishops or on the High Council.
In 1908 I had 56 pupils, 10 grades. 2 min to a class- except 8th grade arithmetic- 15 min, while the others were at recess. In 1909 they had 2 teachers. Older pupils sat by a 1st grader or a beginner and helped them learn to read. Many songs learned. Program every Friday with every pupil a part. Folk songs, long poems learned, even a riddle. Every pupil reading library books. Some read more than thirty books. Spelling match weekly.
1909 - at the Y I broke a flask. Cost 10 cents - it took me six weeks
to get the dime. I ran the mile race- took 2nd place. 3 points. (Why Utah
got school consolidation.) In 1911 they built a new school house
in Highland. For years the farmers paid 36 mills school taxes to pay for
it. In Mill Fork the railroad paid the school taxes and 2 1/2 mills paid
for a new school house and money left over.
Chapter 4 My Teaching Years
I taught school for fifteen years and had no drop-outs. My methods were somewhat unusual, At age 16, four to six boys out of 20 or 30 of my age in Fairview went rather regularly to Sunday School. Brother Yort - spelled Hjorth, was our teacher; subject: Old Testament.
I always read the lesson, so in class he always asked me to tell the lesson. One day they asked me to teach the next younger boys the Book of Mormon lesson, without giving me one minute to prepare it.
The boys were noisy, restless, inattentive and uninterested. For the next Sunday I prepared the lesson thoroughly and asked permission to teach it. At first they hesitated to let me, but when I said, "I have prepared today," they consented. All the boys listened most attentively and with not one bit of disorder. That learned me a lesson: "Be prepared and make it interesting".
1908 was a depression year. Mother had married Mormon Miner and moved to Provo Bench. Earl, Erael and I were batching in the Provo home. I ate meals across the road and got a farm job when I could. One weak I earned $10 and Erael promised to pay one dollar tithing for me. Next week I earned $13 and paid my $1.30 tithing. I asked Erael, "Did you pay that dollar tithing?" "No, I spent it."
My board bill was $23- should I pay that dollar tithing? While I was hoeing weeds and studylng over it, mother came along.
"Are you going down town?" "Yes". "Will you pay $1 tithing for me?" "Yes." So I handed her the dollar.
Now how could I explain to my land lady about that dollar I had given
to tithing when I
owed it to her?
While I studied and figured, cousin Ed came along after school ready to go to Idaho. He asked, "How is everything?"
"Well, I can't pay my board bill."
"What? Here is that $25 I owe you." He had promised to pay when he got a job in Idaho. I had supposed I would never see that $25 again. That was a testimony to me and also to mother. I had paid tithing 3 times in one day. How good the Lord is.
In the summer of 1907 I almost died from typhoid fever. Three times the elders administered to me. The bed was so uncomfortably hot and lumpy. How my back did ache and hurt and my head too - so painful. Each time headache and backache stopped completely and the bed felt so cool and so very comfortable. But 3 days later I was just as bad as before. After the elders came I was just as comfortable . After the 3rd time I got better.
In Highland 3 sisters always had a nice song their mother had learned
in England. Often in school they would lead the singing because I could
not sing . We had a map drawing contest often and placed the best maps
above the blackboard. I wrote a saying every day. Some of them:
"Just a little every day, that's the way
Children learn to read And write,
Bit by bit and mite by mite."
After opening prayer we all repeated them together. Most of the children were glad to stay for Religion class after school.
I worked so hard and got a lot more irrigation water for Highland. For 50 yrs I was Watermaster.
I taught 1 yr in Mill Fork where the rail road paid the taxes. A levy
of 2 1/2 mills paid all school costs and built an entire new schoolhouse
- all paid for in one year with money left over... I taught in Highland
8 years where school taxes were paid by farmers. To build a 1 room addition
to the old school house the farmers must pay 36 mills taxes for several
School consolidation helped to equalize taxes. Farm children must walk miles to school every day. So school busses hauled the children to town and Highland school was closed. In 1921 I went to Byron, Wyoming, east of Yellowstone Park and was school principal for 4 years - teaching 7th and 8th grades. Some students did not know their times tables and therefore could not work fractions, so I devised a times table review in 60 seconds of 20 problems. After a few reviews only 3 pupils out of 30 missed any answers.
The State Superintendent of schools announced an annual state spelling match. At the years end 3 of my pupils were all still standing while all 3 from the other towns were all spelled down.
Towns were scattered. Byron, the smallest. An athletic contest was arranged. We went a long way, camped out, slept 2 nights on the ground. My boys won 1st in every event - made more points than all other big town schools put together. Not one of my boys used tobacco.
After 3 years, the people wished we started a high school in Byron.
There were 13 boys
in school - 11 on the football team. Challenged by big town boys age 18 to 25 - my boys
age 14 to 16. He won 30 to 6. I was coach. Another 2 year high school challenged us to a
game. We won 56 to 0. After 4 years I came back home.
In Highland I helped get culinary water. New houses have gone
up by the dozens, Today we have over 300 in Sunday School instead of 17
as at first . And 6 to 10 missionaries out at once.
Chapter 5: My Mission
About 1902 when I was 17, brother Hjorth (Yort) was my Sunday School teacher, on the Old Testament. About 6 out of 30 boys in Fairview came regularly to Sunday School of that age group. I always read the lesson, so the teacher asked me to tell it. (see ch 4 for story). I and Otes were married Sept. 29, 1909. Daughter Kate was born July 10, 1910. In 1909 I went in debt for 10 acres of land in Highland. In Oct 1910 I left for a two year mission to Kansas - "without purse or scrip."
Brother Samuel O. Bennion, president of the Central States Mission told us that every Book of Mormon we sold meant a convert. I and Elder Lay were in the country; snow on the ground - trees for a mile - no houses in sight; it became dark. Then we saw a house. "Come on in; I know who you are; I've kept you Mormon Elders before." We had a good supper; a lovely bed; "Be careful to entertain strangers for thus many have entertained angels unawares," she quoted from the Bible. Then for 3 ½ hrs she explained most kindly why Saturday and not Sunday was the proper day to keep the Sabbath.
Next forenoon another Seventh Day Adventist invited us in. He handed me his Bible and invited me to read a certain chapter in Ezekiel. Really, he wanted me to read only 1 verse - so I read over and over again - "I will give you a new heart and a new Sabbath." Just before I got to the verse he really wanted me to read, he grabbed the Bible from me, closed it, brought his fist down hard on it, with - "that's the book I believe." I received a testimony that others believe the Bible shut, but Mormons understand it open.
Later we came to a Baptist's home; she wanted me to talk to a visiting Adventist - who for an hour had been giving her hail Columbia." I explained that for 2600 years from Adam to Moses, the Seventh Day literature says no one knows what day the Sabbath was kept. The Israelites left Egypt on Saturday. Friday, all night they stayed up and ate a lamb - "a male without spot or blemish" looking forward to Jesus' sacrifice. So they kept the memory of the Passover, when the angel of destruction "passed over their houses" but the first born son of every family who had not entered into the covenant and sprinkled blood on the door post and ate of the pashal lamb - Israelite or Egyptian, their son died that night - to remind them of the death of God's own son.
Jesus was resurrected on Sunday; so the Christians began keeping the weekly anniversary of the far more important event, the resurrection. Besides that, in a revelation in this dispensation the Lord says, speaking of Sunday, "It is pleasing unto me that you should keep this day." "Now if it pleases the Lord, I am satisfied," I said. The Baptist lady was so very very happy. The Adventist's face turned so white, so red, then blue - she was so angry. My influence with her was every bit gone. I learned then never to tear down another person's religion.
Some weeks later while walking along the road, I was thinking, "The reason we can win every argument is because we have the truth. We came to a poor little home - the door was open. The lady was washing on a washboard. She turned loose on me and very kindly gave me such a thrashing, I could not think of one word to say. I gave her a tract and walked on. Then I decided it was not the truth but the Spirit of the Lord that we elders needed. I said to Elder Lay, "My, she did give me a thrashing." "Did she? I didn't know it." I thought how good the Lord was to give me a lesson I needed and for my companion not even to know I had been chastised.
18 months later I was with Elder Price the last week of his mission. He said, "I have averaged a Book of Mormon a week." I thought but did not say, "I have averaged two a week." That week he sold 9 and I zero; another Ie»son. But we met brother Nichols.
After I had been out about ten months, I with my newly arrived companion arranged a meeting in the Presbyterian Church in a small town. We separated to invite all at every home to come. I found him in the store with a bunch of men and the minister. There he was a boy of 17, talking with a well educated minister, a college graduate who had read the Bible so many many times. I hurried to his rescue. But I had learned by sad experience not to butt in too quickly. I looked at the men's faces to see how things were going - fine for my boy. The minister was saying, "The reason you Mormons believe in polygamy is because you believe in a God with body, parts, and passions."
Elder Harding said, "Was that the reason Abraham, Isaac and Jacob believed in it?" The minister looked so sick, he walked away dejectedly out of the store - the crowd watched him go. I felt sorry for him. I felt as if I had seen a young man of 17 give a six year old kid a licking.
Early in the spring of 1911, when I had been in this town about 4 months in a hotel, in a town of about 9,000 people, one elder was perhaps exposed to small pox. So they quarantined all 6 of us for 7 weeks in the pest house 2 miles from town. Now 6 young men shut up together with nothing to do for weeks, may quarrel. So I proposed we read the Bookk of Mormon aloud. They agreed. But we needed recreation. I drew a checker board - no horse shoes, so we pitched dollars. Other games. No quarrels.
The doctor came 3 times a week and saw that we were comfortable, with food, etc. Then later - all free. Walking was easy for me. Twenty miles a day and stop at every house. Conversation for an hour or two about the gospel after a good dinner; gospel talk for 3 to 6 hours after supper. We were on campaign work: 12 elders in east Kansas, divided into 2 groups of 6, covering 2 tiers of counties; in the county seat for Sunday: at a hotel, then in 3 groups; by this plan Pres. Samuel O. Bennion said everybody in the county would hear about us and know the Mormon missionaries had been there.
Travel north in the spring to the Nebraska border and south in the fall to the Oklahoma line. Once snow was more than a foot deep, with no path from road to house and over 1/4 mile from the road. I said, "Visit every home." Partner said, "Let's miss it." Then "You go alone, while I sit here." I could not understand it. Our instructions were to go together - he was the senior companion - so we walked on. Years later after I got home, someone said I almost walked my companions to death - so finally did learn why he wanted to rest in that deep snow. He was a bit overweight.
Later my companion was young, active and slim. We talked gospel too long; our meeting place was 5 miles away and barely an hour to get there. It was not one bit of trouble to walk that 5 miles in less than an hour. After our meeting, everybody went home and left us in the school house. My companion said. "We will sleep here." I had heard so often about missionaries sleeping in the school house. He was the senior companion so I was willing to try it. With 3 desks moved together to lie on and the big dictionary for a pillow, I tried it. I spent a cold and most uncomfortable night.
I made up my mind that the Lord had made me a promise and it was up
to me to do my part.
He had a comfortable bed for me to sleep in somewhere and a family anxious to hear me explain the gospel, and it was up to me to find them - so never again.
Another time a man who had passed through Utah from California invited us in and gave us such a nice supper, and we talked gospel. But he had company and every bed was promised. He fixed us up in the barn: pillows, sheets, feather mattress - we slept so well. But he certainly did not believe that a resurrected God would eat.
Again we both were impressed to ask to stay at a home, but the sun was 2 hours high and it was this man's house, so we sold him a Book of Mormon. We talked it over and would surely ask at the next place. But the father and mother were both deaf and dumb. How their little 10 year old girl could interpret what we said with flying fingers. I sold them a Book of Mormon. Anyway, we were entering a Seventh Day Adventist community with a big fine House every quarter of a mile and they were always so hospitable to us Mormon missionaries. We certainly learned the difference between Baptists and Adventists... At every house it was the same:
"Well hardly this evening. But it is only a little way to the next big house and they are such good Christians, I am sure they will take you in."
Finally my companion said, "Aren't there any Atheists around? None of the Christians will invite us in." The man turned pale, "Well, you could sleep in the barn." No supper. I almost froze; a horse blanket and a lap robe; I was sure the Lord did not want me to insult anyone and next time I had better listen to the promptings of the Spirit. And how that lady did hate to give us breakfast.
Elder Corbet was District Pres, a position now called supervising elder. For 2 months we had a meeting every evening in the schoolhouse or church and every family was so interested in our explanation of the gospel. Then I was given a new companion and sent to re-visit them. How it did rain the first afternoon. Never did I see it rain so in Utah. Every day it rained. We waded thru mud, but never did we miss a meal or a bed and all were glad to listen to the gospel.
Elder Corbet told me to baptize one lady - she was buried one day before I reached her home. After 5 weeks of rain, we had one more place to visit - Mr. Nichols who had said he could not doubt that Joseph Smith was a prophet and he had seen the Mormon elders before. Finally it cleared up. I held up a tract for a man passing in a wagon, the man stopped. "Where are you boys going to stay tonight?" "We don't know." " Would you come to my place?" "We would be glad to." "Climb in."
I had learned that if some one wanted us to stay, the Lord wanted us to explain the gospel to his family. He was most impressed that there was one church organized as in the New Testament days with the 12 apostles. We learned later we had met him at the edge of a Catholic district 12 miles across and priests instructed Catholics never to listen to Mormons, but next day at 2:30 when we were very hungry, one Catholic lady fried some eggs for us. Finally 2 hours before sundown, we crossed a bridge out of the Catholic neighborhood and were invited in.
It was only a mile and a quarter to Mr. Nichols and we could easily walk it before sundown. So after talking gospel a few minutes, we picked up our grips. "Don't be in a hurry, you can stay for supper if you can stand what we've got to eat." We sat down. After supper we stood up again. "Don't hurry off - stay if our bed is good enough."
Next day we were invited to stay at every house. We arranged a meeting in the school house. It was after dark when we reached Nichols. He told us, "There will be no meeting, everyone knows the teacher has gone to Topeka for teacher's meetings, and taken the keys."
"A few might come - we must not disappoint them. There is a bright moon - they could sit on the porch and we could stand out in front."
A big crowd was there. The trustees had phoned to them to bring their keys. One key fit. For 10 days the house was crowded. Then we had to take the train to Topeka for conference instead of walking and visiting. I promised faithfully to come back. But Pres. Bennion assigned me to west Kansas. What had I done. Why? Why?
He said in 20 years with 160 missionaries, I was the only one who ever sold enough books to pay all my expenses, and besides I sent money into the office. We sold them at the price we must pay.
In a few months here came a letter from Nichols with accounts of how much each one had donated to help me on my mission. Then 2 elders just happened to visit there and baptized 32 of them. Who converted them? Their oldest son read the books we left and converted the family, and also the sister and family in Oklahoma. Oh Yes, brother Nichols had seen two Mormon elders walking down the road past where he was working. They moved to Idaho, and the son was bishop's counselor. They have visited me and have been so grateful. After I was released, I visited them and baptized 6 more children. Who converted them? "Paul plants, Apollas waters, but God gives the increase."
Elder Gillespie age 19 and a Nichols girl 17 liked each other. After his release he wrote her from Tooele and they became engaged. But he became very ill. He asked his brother to go to Kansas and marry her after his death, which he did.
In west Kansas, I asked permission to go country tracting in January. They seemed astonished, but consented. Every family invited us in. No one kept us talking outside with the door wide open. They were prejudiced against Catholics. One lady said to me, "I think Mormons and Catholics have a right to their religion." A bit later: "I think all Churches are doing good." And after, "Your Church and Mine" —— just see how we had come up. And as I left : "Well, brother, I hope you are right! I hope you are right!"
On the Oklahoma border, a blizzard hit us and our eyes, our cheeks, ears etc froze,, They swelled up and hurt for days. The first home we came to took us in and kept us so kindly 'till the blizzard stopped. There also, we met a man who had lived 15 yrs among the civilized Choctaw Indians. He said the Choctaws had a copy of the old Testament, including the 1st 6 chapters of Jeremiah. It was written on prepared animal skins. But it had 56 books, while our Old Testament has only 29 books - written before Lehi left Jerusalem. I asked if the Choctaws knew of Jesus' visit. "Oh yes, all the Indians know that."
Afterwards, many others told me the same. "Did they know of the 3 days of darkness?" "Yes, but it was 4 days." "This book says 3 days." The Choctaws say four days, and they know." I opened the Book of Mormon and read: "Nevertheless there were some who said it was longer ---"
"Did they tell you of Nephi?" "Nephi, Nephi? - you mean Nep-hi the good boy." "About Sarai?" "Sarai? Isari - the mother of all." "You've read this book?" "No, I never saw it before." "Let me sell you one; only 50 cents." "I've not got 50cents." "Well, come to our meeting tonight." I saw him borrow 50cents and buy one. Then I believed him.
I reached home in August ready to start teaching school in September in Highland. From Otes' record:
When my husband read in the Bible where it said "To go on a mission without purse or scrip," he believed it and said "If I don't go now, I may never go," and the Patriarch had told him he would go on a mission. When the call came for him to go to the Central States mission he prepared to leave as soon as possible. The Ward gave him a missionary farewell and took enough money to buy his ticket and have some left over. In those days a little money went a long way. (1910)
After being in the mission field 3 months, Pres. Samuel 0. Bennion notified him that he would be released and sent home unless he raised the money to stay out there. He wrote a letter to his mother and to his wife and explained the situation. His mother said she prayed most sincerely that the way would open and he could finish his mission. As fast as possible a letter came from a cousin - Marlin Cox of Idaho, that he had $300 to lend to some honest person. Could she tell him who to lend it to?
With thankfulness in our hearts to the Lord and to the cousin, he finished his mission and paid back the money as soon as he could: Otes Clysta Strasburg Day.
[Didn't finish his history - died January 5, 1969.]