Annie Marie Boren Bigelow Life History
[This is a prose version of Annie Boren Bigelow's Memory Thoughts of My Life, an autobiography written in verse. This was compiled November 1996 by Stephen L. Rawlins, husband to Carol Jean Carter Rawlins (granddaughter of Annie Bigelow). It covers only the first 67 pages of the original text (the history). The total text of the original is 130 pages long and includes letters to her children and poetry. A computer compatible copy of this original document is also available in a computer file.]
AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF ANNIE MARIE BOREN BIGELOW
My parents had thirteen children six sons and seven daughters. I was the fourth daughter and the seventh child. As of this writing (1946) only three of us, of which I am the oldest, are still living.
I was born October 24th, 1873. When I was three months old a whooping cough epidemic almost took my life. Many thought I would die, but Father was not among them. He and the elders administered to me, and I was nurtured from month to month. There came a time when it appeared that I had died. They laid me on the bed and told my father I was gone. He responded, "She's not dead. God told us she would live." He opened my mouth with a teaspoon and blew his own breath into it. He never knew just why he did, but science has now discovered that this procedure can save lives. Although my first year was difficult, I overcame the problems, am now married and have been blessed with eleven children, of which five died as infants.
At two years of age I was happy and well, and walking. Life was sweet. No doubt things came along to spoil my happiness, but they didn't last long.
When I was three my Grandfather Mecham died. My cousin and I were good friends, often climbed a cherry tree where we talked and laughed. Among other things, this was one thing that our parents were not too happy about. One day we were told by an uncle to gather apples for a cow. When she bellowed we dropped the apples in the mud and ran away. My uncle scolded us "Why put them there?" From that time on I didn't care much for this uncle's company.
At four my cousin and I often played in the water at the spring head. Getting into water was the joy of my life. But my aunt warned us to keep away from the water or we'd go under and sink like a rock. To me, thinking of going down under the water was the last place on Earth I cared to go. She gently took us by the hand and led us away, admonishing us to stay away from the spring. We didn't know what else to do, so we went to a pen where two young deer were being kept. My cousin dropped her straw hat into the pen and the deer tore it to shreds. We didn't know what else could happen to us.
When I was five I remember that I was so frightened of Indians. I was always glad to be alive when they left town. I was terrified whenever we saw them coming to beg for bread. I remember that my brother brought me a magpie and told me that I could easily teach it how to talk. I thought how proud I would be if I could do this. But the experience I had with that bird was not so pleasant. In digging worms to feed it, I ran the tine of a pitchfork through my foot, and decided not to keep that bird.
At six I started school in a little log school house. Today's students wouldn't be too impressed with a place like that one room, and one teacher for everyone. And yet I miss that one room school, where we were free, and had such a loving and warm relationship with everyone, big and little, old and young. We had readers for the first five grades, and when we finished these our education was complete. From then on we attended the school of hard knocks. Only a few were able to obtain a higher education.
At seven I remember tending children at quiltings where our mothers worked. Quilting and rag bees were popular places to catch up on all of the gossip of the town. We kiddies had to wait for dinner, but were always glad we were to get a piece of pie or cake for desert. Then it was back to work for us.
One of the important steps in my life occurred in my eighth year when I was baptized into the Mormon Church. From that day to this I have been trying to keep myself free from sin and temptation. At that time the Relief Society issued a call to store wheat for the poor and the needy. Mother headed this call, and with neighbors we gleaned wheat from the fields each fall. We saved bushels of wheat. During World War One the President said that our soldiers needed bread, so we sold the wheat to the Government.
When I was nine we were traveling down the steep dangerous road in Provo Canyon when our wagon wheel came off. Out I went, hitting my head on a rock. Father took me into his arms and bathed my face in water to bring me back to full consciousness. That canyon still brings back thoughts of both beautiful scenes and frightful fears. One time we met a herd of Texas longhorn cattle that looked ready for a fight. Father pulled out to one side of the road and let them go by. It was a relief to be able to take a long breath again.
Another time I was in Provo, and terribly homesick. When the chance came to get a ride on a wagon my cousin and I started up the canyon. The wagon turned over and we were pinned under the wagon box. When we were released my cousin's little girl seemed to be dead. The driver took her down to the river. My cousin couldn't walk, and my wrist was thrown out of place. We waited a long time, and thought we'd have to stay there, but fortunately some peddlers came along and gave us a ride. When we got down to the river the little girl was alive, but we wondered how we would all get home. I ended up riding up the canyon with one peddler, and my cousin, the girl's mother, rode with the other. I held the little girl and she held the little boy. The wagon was equipped with a double bed and a spring seat, and we took advantage of both to get any comfort we could.
When I was eleven, we saved our shoes for Sunday wear. On other days we went barefoot. It hurt my pride to go barefoot at eleven. Father made our shoes. He tacked on the soles with wooden pegs on a wooden stand. We were proud of our father and his work. The shoes he made were strong, and thinking of them brings back sweet memories of the comfort they brought to my feet.
At twelve I thought more of pleasure and fun and played all kinds of games including town ball, steal stick, and, of course, foot races. In the winter we coasted down the hill on sleds. Little did I dream during those moonlit nights that this life's road would have so many rough places. I never thought of the danger and problems that I now realize are just part of everyone's life. But I'll never forget the good times my chums and I had together during these years.
Some people count thirteen as an unlucky number, but it isn't for everyone. We all have our ups and downs in every year, and my thirteenth was no different. Sports at that time were all the rage. Spelling matches were especially popular, and all in the class had to participate. One day Don asked Polly, Vira, and me to go with him for a horseback ride. We joyfully galloped away and spent a lovely summer day enjoying the beauties of nature. We sat on the cedar hill and looked around to see the beauties and listened to the joyful sounds of nature. There we talked about what married life would be like, but I thought that was too far in the future for me. Yet, I was the first of the three girls to marry. In just a few years I became Don's wife.
At fourteen we enjoyed getting together, packing a lunch and going to the canyon, or sometimes to the river to spend a day. I remember our sleigh rides, and the joy we had tipping over and switching -- anything for a thrill. The boys took hot rocks to keep us warm. They were expected to take care of us and keep us safe. Horseback riding was really a treat, but a buggy was even more fun. But then, of course, at that time I had never ridden on a railroad train, a bus, a street car or an airplane.
I remember sitting in the shade knitting socks and stockings with woolen yarn for my sister and me. When they got holes in them we had to learn darning to mend them. We measured our yarn to see who could knit the fastest. Both rich and poor wore woolen stockings for their health. We'd sit there for many hours talking and knitting wristlets, mittens, and anything else the family needed to wear. Clothes were our problem. We had few at best. No silk or lace dresses. No warm furs, no caps or hats, no handbags or money purses or anything like them. It was gingham or calico because we had no extra money for treats. But we felt greatly blessed. Sometimes we'd go to the county seat for vacation.
At sixteen I felt the spirit of youth. I was full of vigor and energy, but I also enjoyed listening to sweet love songs, and memories that stirred my heart to beat faster. That summer I went to a sawmill to work for a large family and the mill hands. It was hard work. We washed on the board, scrubbed floors on our knees and ironed clothes with hand irons. It was always do this and do that, hurry here and hurry there. We kept busy. In the morning we put breakfast on the table, and then the mother of the family and I had twelve cows to milk. After working a long summer day, we knew we had the cows to milk again. When I think of the amount of work we had to do, I wonder how we ever got through it. At the end of the week I got one dollar and seventy five cents.
In the fall there was no money left over for pleasure, but we had fun anyway with candy pulls and parties. We were content.
At seventeen courtship and marriage came into my life. We were both so happy. We thought everything would be fine. Finally the dreams we had dreamed for so long were about to be brought to life. The lessons we had learned from life were an important part of this. If I could but tell you the thoughts that made my bosom swell. I will always remember how I felt then, and continue to cherish the flame of love we had then, and have kept alive these many years. We cannot go back, but in our memory these years will always be there. Language is inadequate to express the happiness of courtship I felt. The joys and happiness that we two lovers learned then has returned in later years through sweet tenderness and thoughtful care from my lover.
Don and I pledged our hearts to each other, but had to go to Pa and Ma for their consent. I didn't want to be there when Don asked for me. I didn't want to share that part of the bargain. But later I said I'd help smooth the way for him. I told Mother that Don was going to call, and encouraged her to have the kids out of sight. When he came Pa, Ma and all of the brothers and sisters were there. We sat by the fireplace and told stories. The young folks enjoyed the company, so we had to wait until all were tired and went to bed before we could talk about our plans.
We worked hard to prepare so that we could set our wedding day. On the 29th of April we were married, and I changed my name for a lifetime of happiness. I found my childhood sweetheart to be true.
At the age of eighteen a girl is of age they say
To choose the course she'll take
If she keeps the law who can tell her nay
Now she can her own choice make
Now I will weave a robe of life to wear
I must weave it with good deeds and thought
I'll weave it from the pattern loved ones share
A beautiful pattern that cannot be bought
I'll join it together with loving care
And have friendly deeds to spare
I'll weave it with patience and its goodness share
So the robe will be comfortable for me to wear.
I'll weave in faith and hope with my work
With obedience and courage rare
I'll weave it with pride and never shirk
While weaving that life robe to wear.
I'll line that robe with sunshine and smiles
And with kindness I'll strengthen the seams
I'll fit my robe to all my trials
And stitch the hem with sunbeams.
I was too young to fully realize the many joys and cares married life could hold. But I learned one must be wise and, especially, that it's important to share blessings with others. I couldn't possibly understand what was in store for me. When my husband and I were united, and he vowed to protect me forever. We began to plan how we wanted to live our lives. We likened our plan to that of a portrait of human character that would stand as a sturdy building beside life's highways. Constructed with sustaining pillars of self respect, the foundation of courage to do right, the floor of loyalty and guidance from above. The main entrance showing forth spiritual wakefulness and light, of good will and love. The color scheme of helpfulness and respectability. The roof of joy and hope. A dome to radiate good deeds and thought. A superintendent of building to lead the way the prophets would have us go.
At nineteen, the next step in life was motherhood. On May 6th, 1892 our first child, Adora, came into our lives. How tenderly I pressed her head close to my breast. Such a dearest treasure and bundle of love. Both Don and I felt that we couldn't be happier or more content with this dear gift from God.
On August 25th, 1893 another daughter, Ida, was born, with blue eyes, curly hair and a beautiful body. She gave a thrill to everyone. She was a gift money never bought, bringing her own love as only parents know how to share.
The next April, with our family now numbering four, we decided to look for a suitable place to live that would make a comfortable home, and provide our children with an education. Don asked me if I would be willing to leave our birthplace, to battle the elements and break out some new farmland. We prayed about it, and when we received an answer we vowed to always stand firmly together, and take whatever came our way. We piled all of our belongings in a wagon and took them mile after mile, over hills and valleys on rough, long roads that included dugways that filled us with horror as we looked down into the deep canyons below. Day after day we traveled the road that now would take just hours in an automobile. I hope we will never travel it in a wagon again.
When we reached Ashley Valley we thought a lot about our friends and loved ones from whom we had parted, and hoped our friendship with them would always stay true. Our journey was close to the end. In gratitude, we thanked our Father for His protection and care over that dangerous road, and the prospect of having a comfortable home. We had no home at first, and stayed with our sister Zora for a day or so. We had a good visit and rested. It was hard to find a place we could live in, but finally we found one, a two-room cottage without comfort or style.
Our trouble began in that two-room cottage. One night our baby was stung by a scorpion. We worked day and night with our darling, and through faith and prayer God gave her back her health. We were determined to have a place of our own. All of our energy and efforts were bent toward obtaining one. We didn't want to stay in a rented house. We were happy, and it doesn't cost money to have a good time. The best of Earth's pleasures are free to those who know how to value their worth. Kind words and glad looks and smiles cost nothing. Yet all the wealth of a millionaire could not bring the pleasures we had waiting for a home, listening to our children's prattle and song.
We found that in a national depression it was difficult to make a meager living and try to save some money. Scores of men were out of work. Want and hunger were felt all over the country, but we knew we had to be brave. We arose before dawn to see what we could trade to make some money.
Our place was started with a load of wood. It amused the neighbors, but they supported us. Now we had to get the logs to build a humble home. It was not a mansion. At first we hung a blanket to the window and a quilt to the door. The floor was made of rough lumber and the roof of dirt. We were able to replace the quilt with a lumber door and put glass in the window, which allowed us to see the neighbors. We built the house on the corner of a forty-acre farm, more for convenience than anything else.
We had very few neighbors, and they were scattered far apart. I was frightened of Indians, especially when everyone went away in the daytime. But we were settled in a home of our own. It took patience and hard labor to clear the land to grow crops. The sagebrush had to be grubbed and the rocks dug from the soil. Breaking up the land was not always easy, but we don't have complaints. Just some of the scars of hardship still remain.
Indians camped on our land every fall when they hunted deer. It was not pleasant to have them so close. When we'd see one of their villages spring up over night I was filled with fear and horror. They'd come the first thing in the morning not to beg for bread, but they'd sit down at the table and expect to be served a meal. What else could we do but to share the food we had with them. They'd eat with delight and when they got their share they'd go. I truly hoped that we would not see more that day, but they'd keep coming. They were curious to know who dared come to live on land they had always camped on during the deer hunt. But soon they packed up and disappeared, which was alright with us. We didn't miss them.
We knew we had another hard winter to face. Christmas came and went and another year came with things going along about the same. On January 30th 1895 we added another baby girl to family, Eva. This little bundle of love helped bring happiness into our home. We enjoyed her so.
How much we welcomed spring that year. The sunshine and showers helped banish the fear that accompanied the long winter. But it meant that we had to get our crops in so that we'd have something to harvest in the fall. What a task it was break up the land and turn it over with a hand plow. It was slow and tedious, nothing like it is today.
I was surprised to see Indians coming again, traveling fast on their horses. Because my little girls and I were alone, I pulled down the blinds pretending that we were not home. When they stopped to drink by the side of our house the babies sensed my fear and kept quiet. They remounted their horses and galloped away to town. They didn't stay long, and soon I saw them coming back. I asked myself what they could want now. Then I realized that it was some dried meat we had hanging up.
A month later at sunset, two young braves rode up to our door. They demanded that I go with them as their squaw. I didn't know what to do. I was not sure what they intended to do with me. I trembled from head to foot and was white with fear. I prayed that my husband would come from town, and when his wagon came into view they dashed away. Time has never taken away the dreadful feeling I had that day. It is no wonder I had such fear whenever Indians came around. In the fall before hunting time we had the place securely fenced. When the Indians stopped you could almost hear them ask who had taken away their camping ground.
Because it had taken all summer to get the land ready to sow, our crops were very light in the fall. Winter was coming on and life was hard. There was some work for Father bailing hay and working with his team hauling wood for one dollar a day. We joyfully weathered the storms, and felt optimistic about the future. We had a cow, and bought some chickens and a pig. When we could sell eggs it was for ten cents a dozen. We were lucky when we could sell them to a friend or neighbor. We planted cherry trees, shrubbery and a patch of strawberries. Flowers bloomed beautifully.
The next fall we had a bumper crop. We enjoyed gathering the crops and putting them away, little dreaming that we would remain such a short time. In less than two years we had cleared all of our ground and felt that we had found the right place for a home. But things began to shape up differently. All of the time we lived in Vernal it was difficult to make a living. As long as we live, we'll never forget how difficult it was to leave our crops without receiving a cent for them after working so hard for them.
Father Bigelow wrote for us to come back and take back the same chance we had before. We debated whether we should go, and decided we should. But we started back a few days too late, the storms overtook us, and we got hung up in the snow. At Current Creek the team couldn't make the grade. We tried taking part of the load up the hill, but the road was so steep and icy that the horses couldn't even make it then.
Our cousin Frank Mecham was with us, and volunteered to ride horseback that night for help. In Strawberry Valley the snow gets deep, and there were no snow plows to clear the road. That night we thought the five of us would be alone, but we found the campground alive with Indians. I wondered how we could ever stay in such a place, but we had no choice. We shivered around the camp fire with cold and thought of the horrid stories we'd heard about Indians. We could only watch and pray. Fortunately they went away the next morning.
It was a long cold ride for Frank, but the next day he returned with horse teams and a number of men. What a welcome sight! That night we spent a cheerful time around the campfire telling jokes and singing. Our little girls sang Oh, Happy Home, and Sweet Childhood Home. Oh, how the music rang. Those men remarked how joyous the world would be if we could only see the joys of life like innocent children. To always be cheerful through hardships.
The next morning we started again, and with plenty of horsepower they easily took the load up the hill and onto the other side. No words can describe the gratitude we felt.
We were happy to be back to the place of our birth. It seemed that there was no better place. Father started to work again on the sawmill, which gave us a sense security.
On the 28th of February 1897 the stork brought another little one into our family. Our lives were thrilled with the coming of our first son, Ervin. Another blessing for parents, and our daughters were pleased with their little brother. It takes strength and determination to raise a large family. Father worked hard all day running the sawmill. It was hard work turning the logs all day long.
In the spring when the sawing was over we started clearing and planting another farm. It was hard work for all of us.
Summers and winters came and went. My first priority was taking care of the children. I was always willing to give my husband a helping hand, however, and to do the will of God as nearly as I could understand it. Much of the pleasure and amusements had to be laid aside to be with our children and protect them. My desire was to be tolerant and kind and disregard little failings in others. I wanted to be faithful to my friends and treasure the beauties of their lives.
Elva was born April 25th, 1899. She grew nearer and dearer day by day, and things looked brighter that year. That made four daughters. Our happiness was renewed every time a new one came along.
We were always going from place to place trying to find a more comfortable home for our growing family. This time we moved to a house in a meadow near a crystal stream. Fishing was good and we often caught some and fried them golden brown for dinner. They were delicious.
Floralia was born November 25th, 1900. She was so gentle and full of love. Another darling sent from our Father. Her baby days were pleasant. I recall so fondly her childhood days with all of her beauty.
We enjoyed our home for many years there on the farm with our children. Our lives were free and we had few worries and sorrows. Each of our homes bring back memories of fire light's soft glow, and the loving joy we had sometimes balanced with some grief. But as I look back the joys, pleasures and beauties are the things I remember. Living on a farm always includes worries, and wonder about what would be best to do next. We learned to be humble while living there, and trusted our Heavenly Father for protection. Our soul's desire was to teach our children right from wrong so that they would grow up pure and innocent. We tried to protect them, and teach them to live and uphold the truth. Our aim was to be a true example to them all, so that we could ask them to follow in our footsteps. We tried so hard to teach the Gospel plan, to live it not only on Sunday, but all week long; and to listen to council from the authorities.
Each Sunday morning we got up early and walked a mile to Sunday School. Hand in hand the children walked along happily singing. To be on time we had to make plans, and make sure on Saturday all of our clothing was in place so that there wouldn't be any last minute surprises. In the summer we dressed the children all in white. What a beautiful sight it was to see these innocent and pure children. We prayed that they would always stay that way. We understood why God loves little children. I often see in vision those wonderful days that were so precious to us. Memories are the only things that last.
We left a happy home to move to town, where we got a store that included the Post Office. With the two we hoped to make a better living. In a financial way, it was much better. Our income increased, but of course it kept us busy all day. We increased the stock in the store to better meet the demand.
Christmas time was full of cheer that year. It seemed like Heaven on Earth. We hung trimmings and toys on the Christmas tree, and stockings were filled with candy and nuts. We loved to tell the story of Christ to our children as they sat sit by side listening closely to hear how Christ loved little children and blessed them, and desires to have them return to Him. We wanted our children to be comfortable and well dressed, so after the day's work was done I sewed until I had a complete wardrobe for each of them.
The joys of that Christmas will always remain indelibly imprinted in our memories, because it was the last one we would spend with our complete family. When the year passed away we left fond memories. The year 1902 came in warm and bright and all nature seemed to enjoy it. But as the new year wended its way, it brought pain and sorrow that we will never forget. We had to walk by faith, not by sight. It was hard.
February was the saddest month of the year. It brought so many tears, heart aches and sorrows. Sickness and death blasted our life. The black clouds gathered so fast and so thickly. Death came to our home so suddenly. Ida died. It left us in such despair that with broken hearts we called her back. She came back and stayed until the next night. She said "Mother, comb my hair good tonight so the angels will watch over me." She told us at one o'clock she would be going home and then, "Don't, with your sorrow, call me back again. Mother don't cry, for it is not right for me to come back like I did last night."
Sure enough, at one o'clock she died. I couldn't cry. I just looked into space. Although my heart bled I couldn't cry. Her words "Mother don't cry" lingered with me. Well we remember that she pinched her father's chin and told him to be true, that she was leaving and, not coming back.
The first shock of death took Ida on February 6th, 1902. On the seventh we held her funeral and buried her. Only God would be able to help us face the trials her vacancy left. Little did we think that tomorrow Eva's death would double our sorrow. On the eighth she faded and passed away. Oh, why does death bring such sorrow when we know all people are supposed to die? We hope some day, when our knowledge is perfect, to fully understand.
On the morning of February 9th our baby, Floralia, died. Words cannot express the sorrow we felt when we were told that she was dead. It left us speechless with sorrow. Our hearts were torn with grief and despair. We had to put our trust in God so that we could bear our grief. We have to have God's spirit to make it through life.
On February 10th we held a double funeral. My heart still bleeds when I think of it now. We tried so hard to save their lives, but they were buried side by side in one grave. When we got back from their grave, Adora was ill. We worked all night, but the angel of death hovered still. She grew gradually worse, and on February 11th she died. God only knows how much her death tried our faith. On the twelfth we laid her gently to rest. I had to help make her burial clothes. No one knows how this sent pains through my heart.
We couldn't hold funeral services as we had before because we had two children left that we had to try to save. One more burden was added to our sorrow. It was measles and diphtheria that took their lives, and for that reason our friends were afraid to visit. We were left alone both day and night to pray and fight to save our two children. We were dumb with grief and fear. The ones that were left were near death's door. God saw our anguish and grief and let them stay. Oh, how our hearts were filled with gratitude to Him.
Each child seemed to know that it was their appointed time to go. We watched them die with aching hearts. Their last words, "Mother don't cry" sewed up my tears. Our hearts grew heavier. Tears could have helped ease the pain. We prayed and prayed for relief, but it did not come. Day by day I tried so hard to hide my grief. Everything looked so dark. I prayed that I could cry. It broke our hearts to think of the vacant places. Every day we counted our troubles over and over. In one week four little girls were in the grave. With anguish we parted with the ones we loved so much. We said a farewell until we meet them above.
No words can express how death can depress the spirit. Comfort can only come from God to ease the pain and grief of a stricken soul. We prayed, to the Lord to help relieve us of this grief and sorrow and help us be faithful to those we love, and prepare us to meet those who have gone. We had to walk by faith, and not by sight. We had to lock up our troubles and throw the key away. That is what we tried to do.
For our family's sake we smiled through tears, although we continued to feel the sorrow. No pain or death could kill our love for the children God had sent us. I realized that I should try to settle down each night by the side of my faithful husband, hoping and planning for our future days. I prayed to God to bless us, and to grant me health and strength and determination to fill some useful niche in life. May I be eager and glad to bear a portion of each day's work share. We tried to employ our talents in helping all living in our neighborhood. Work always helps ease a troubled mind. No matter how we feel, the work must be done. Work gets tiresome without some play, but the two together can help the time pass.
In putting up the mail one day I noticed a letter from Post Office Box B. I was alone. I opened it with a trembling hand. I knew we were being asked to withstand another trial. When my husband came home I could hardly speak a word. I gave him the letter with such sorrow and anguish in my soul. Before it was completely read neither of us had a dry eye. Oh, what pain it sent to my heart. To think that we would be parted. We were sorely tried to know just what we should do. My husband had received a call to serve a mission in just a few months. I would have to take care of things at home while Don was gone. My husband was set apart.
Some thought that the call wasn't right. But we were willing to wear out rather than rust. Our friends seeing our sorrow tried to get some relief from that mission. All the Elder's names in his quorum were placed in a hat, and they drew lots to settle who should go. Strange, but Don's name came out first three times. So we were all convinced that it was God's will that he should go. God works in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. In humility we were parted for a little season. While doing His will He protected us from harm. Looking back we can see the hand of God was taking our mind from our troubles.
It wasn't easy to say God's will be done. It was hard for us to part, but we appreciate our blessings, and accepted the call. Don was soon off for his mission. There was much we didn't understand, but we knew we must be willing to be led by God. We never questioned God's wisdom anymore. We were working toward our eternal salvation.
Our financial means were seriously strained. We were deep in debt. But by trusting God all of our obligations in time were paid. Left for awhile alone with my family and business, it took courage. But a battle is never won by a weak heart. I realized I had a daughter and a son to protect, and I had to keep things going while my husband was gone. The time passed slowly. Winter came with snow and wind. No matter how cold, however, I had to open the store and the Post Office. I realize I must live by hope, not fear. I needed to forget the things that irked me, and think of the wonderful vision ahead. It would soon be Christmas and time for a tree. There was no joy this time like the year before. I had to forget the crosses that tried me and work for the ones I held so dear.
Christmas was difficult for me that year. Oh, how hard it was to trim a tree alone. It filled my heart with thoughts of better days. How could I ever have the spirit of Christmas with so many of my loved ones gone! My troubles came back and almost crushed my aching heart. . My courage had failed to the point that I trembled with fear. Could I play Santa feeling so sad? It was almost more that I could do. I knew I had to smile for my children. I must hide my feelings for my loved one's sake. I had to be a good Santa with a true Christmas spirit.
I played Santa to my two children that Christmas with an aching heart. I filled stockings and trimmed the tree with care. Making the children happy meant so much. I didn't let one thought or act mar their joy. I so much wanted them to be happy. When they were snugly tucked into bed I knelt in humble prayer and asked Father to help me keep the Christmas spirit that year. Then I went to bed with another prayer in my heart that I would always have honor. Give me a cheerful spirit. Teach me love and wisdom for the sake of my children. When I awoke Christmas morning after a good night's rest I could see in the children's faces that my prayers had been answered. I had made them happy at Christmas.
When the new year came in I hoped that it would be kinder and more hopeful and more filled with peace and happiness. Before I was even twenty-nine I was left alone, for awhile, with two children to whom I was giving much love and devotion.
Spring came with the songs of birds and the hum of bees. All nature was beautiful with flowers and trees in full bloom. If everyone would try to put sunshine in their soul we'd come nearer to reaching perfection. We loose so much in life working for the dollar and neglecting things far more important. I remember so well how hard I tried to carry the load until the mission that God had willed had been faithfully completed. Try as I may, my health failed. We had no resources to allow me to get the needed rest. I was doing the best I could, but I couldn't control the beat of my heart. The doctor said that we must have my husband return or he'll be left without a wife and have to raise his children alone. He said to me one day that I had to stop hard work or I would pay with my life. How could I when the work had to be done each day. I had to keep things going. Then he said that he was here to talk to me as a brother and not as my physician. He wanted to know how I felt about Don coming home.
I told him that I would never ask while I was still alive. I want to be true to my husband and to God. He said that it would be wise for him to come home for a season. I'll tell the Stake President. Then he told me how his wife had been very ill and they sent him home before the end of his mission. He went out again, but was called back to help care for the sick. If your husband comes and helps nurse you to health it will mean more to him than anything in the world. You must get rest, and relief from the financial strain. He can go back when you get well. You have made the sacrifice and you will be blessed. God has weighed your spirit. A release from his mission will be honorable. You must trust now in the mercy of Heavenly Father.
A few days later I had a call from my husband from Provo asking how things were with us. He said that he would be home in the morning. My husband took over the worry and the load, and gave me true love and devotion. Through faith and prayers my health started to mend. Eventually I could do some work to help tend my family. At thirty years of age it seemed that I had lived for ages, but I hadn't done much toward my education or in the Church. Our life's pleasure was ended for so long. I wanted to view the past with clearer eyes and see the beauties again. I wanted to be prepared for what the future had in store, and be more faithful.
An epidemic of typhoid fever struck the town that fall, and I was the last of eighteen victims. My husband administered to me and said, "Annie, you'll get well. Not right now though." Those words of inspiration rang clear. It was a comfort to have that assurance as we faced one of the severest tests of our life. Our faith seemed to be at its lowest point, and this helped us put our trust in the Lord. For eight long weeks we feared for my life. We prayed that a husband and children would not lose their wife and mother. For weeks I had laid at death's door. Heavenly Father in his mercy helped us with another trial. We were truly grateful for the blessings we received when I started on the road to health. It was touching to hear the children pleading for my health. No wife had truer devotion than I did from my husband. He did all in his power to save my life. It's hard to maintain courage with poor health. But the support we had from friends and neighbors helped us get through. The faith we gained was important to us.
As Christmas approached, on days that I was very low, my folks were afraid I would not make it. On Christmas morning my eyes were so dim that I could hardly see the presents my dear ones had brought to me. People looked like little specks, and everything seemed so far away. Humbly we prayed that God would send his blessings.
I was rallying from the ravages of the fever when another dreaded disease, meningitis, pulled me back again. The pain was more than I could endure much longer, and my friends felt that my death seemed certain. The Elder's were faithful to come day or night to administer to me, buts still there was no relief from the pain. My whole body was helpless except for one arm. The pain was so severe, but when I remembered that when I had been blessed to get well, I stopped worrying. I felt the other side was near, but I longed to stay with my loved ones. I could see with each look the anguish in my husband's heart. I very much wanted to stay with him.
One of the Elder's seeing my suffering and pain asked why our prayers were not answered. Maybe it is God's will that she should go. Brother Bigelow, with your consent to the bishop, I'll have him arrange to have her washed and anointed and dedicated to the Lord. The bishop heartily approved and that was done. That day he prayed for the Lord's will to be done, not ours, and acknowledged God's power and mercy. He asked Father, that if it was His will, to let this sister live. With those words the black clouds faded away and our faith and hopes were renewed. He said, Sister Bigelow, take courage, your work is not done. You'll raise your children with honor. At that moment I felt the spirit of the Lord throughout my whole body. I started to mend, and the terrible pain began to leave. I was soon able to get out of bed again. I'll never forget that blessing.
The month of June came with the fragrance of roses filling the summer air. All nature was beautiful to behold, and it renewed our courage and hope. We were happy to hear the songs of birds and the hum of bees and the beauty of renewed vegetation. Who can deny the hand of God in this wonderful grand world? In looking for happiness we must all acknowledge that God is merciful and just. If we feel our cross is too heavy to bear we can lighten it by helping others bear theirs.
I was still handicapped as a wife and mother for the sickness had left me with leakage of heart. Three doctors told me I'd never be strong again, but that if I were careful, I could live a long time. We knew we would have to seek a higher power, so with faith and determination we began to make plans for our future. We decided to go to the Salt Lake Temple to receive our Father's blessings. Our party consisted of four people, Mother Bigelow, Sister Fraughton, Don and me. The river was high, and covered much of the road from the river to the station. We thought we were safe waiting for the train, so the driver and the team started home. The train came on time, but we didn't get far before we stopped suddenly. A large bull had come walking down the track, and wouldn't be turned back by the train's whistle. The train hit it, and it went under the wheels. That threw the engine and one car off the track. Fortunately no one was hurt. The engineer told us we would have a long time to wait until a wrecker could come and put them back on the track. We all tried to be happy, but we had to stay in the train because there was no other place to go.
Finally the wrecker came, and we were on our way. Instead of getting to Salt Lake on schedule at eight we stopped at Provo and stayed with friends because it was late and raining. We had waded through mud until we looked a sight. We were welcomed as we had always been before, with beds for all of us.
The next morning we traveled to Salt Lake City and found a place where all of us could stay. In the temple, Sister Fraughton and I were baptized for our health that day. I was too ill to go through a session, so I went back to rest, and ponder my blessings, which had never been so sacred to me before. Sister Fraughten received another blessing, and said that if I would go back, I could probably get one. The Elders were blessing the sick.
I went back again, hurrying because I didn't want to be late. When I opened the door I told the temple guide I'd come back to have a blessing and he said take off your shoes and follow me. I'll take you there. He opened the door and asked me to wait with two others who were left waiting. I prayed that I would not be too late. When all were gone the Elders came to me and asked what my trouble was. "We understand your husband is in the temple, so we'll have him come and stand in in the administration." I told them I had leakage of the heart. One put his hand upon my brow and said, "that's bad." My courage and faith failed. But a light soon filled his countenance and he said, "nothing is impossible with the Lord." Oh, how soon my faith picked up again. I knew the spirit of God rested on those men.
They prayed that God would bless me and make me strong to do good work on this Earth. They told me my work was not yet finished, and that I'd live long to be an influence on good people I had never met. They said I'd raise my family and be able to work in the yard. This part of the blessing had already come true. I'm sure that if I live for the blessings I received that day that they will come to me. Such blessings stay with one through the years. I was healed by the power of God that day. The leak in my heart was gone. There was no more need of powder and pills. Now what I needed was time to rest.
I know God lives with all my heart. May I never lose this knowledge, and may I instill it into the heart of my children and grandchildren. May the spirit I felt in the temple always stay with me to guide my footsteps. Help me treasure that influence all my life so that I can be a true wife and mother. If I could speak words of a poet's pen more freely I could express my feelings. Then I'd help others to rejoice as I do now. I'd somehow touch the spiritual chord of their lives. How much I miss when I fail to see the beauties of tasks held out to me. Life is a game of give and take. In that way we make joy and satisfaction. The more we give of our talents while we are alive the more love and sympathy we have in our hearts when dark clouds gather. The blossoms of love we give will never die.
On my way to the temple I was very sad, and I left filled with joy. It is a joyous and sacred feeling when the Lord reveals His spirit to you. I resolved I'd live on a higher plain when I went home, and to faithfully fulfil the duties of life. I did not care for honor. I just wanted to humbly live as God would have me do. No matter how long or hard and weary the day I would try to be joyful and faithful.
The road ahead seemed strange. We all go through pitfalls and temptations. May the light of God guide us around them on the road that leads to eternal light. Sometimes we stray and wander, and fail to obey God's commandments. But if we are humble, and if we put our trust in Him, God will make us strong enough to keep us from going wrong.
A dear sister came to ask me to teach primary. I told her no, because I still too keenly felt the great loss of my children. Try as I may I could not get rid of that pain in my heart. But with her persuasion I accepted that call, and it was a blessing to me and my family. It was a trial, and the sweat ran off my brow during that first lesson. Oh, what a trial it was for me to work with those sweet children. I wished that I could lay my trials at Jesus' feet, but I gained the spirit of peace while working there.
I was called to work in different organizations, and tried to do my best. I felt unable to be class leader in Mutual, but I put my heart and soul into it and gained confidence. I loved to work with children and youth. I desired to teach them the truths of the Gospel. Forgetting our feelings and working for others engenders a real spirit of brother and sisterhood. I tried very hard to overcome my weaknesses, and to treat everyone well.
On October 17th 1904 another son, William, came into our home, bringing with him all of the happiness a new child gives to everyone in the family. I was so happy holding a new baby in my arms. I prayed that Heavenly Father would protect him. With my darling baby against my breast, and his dimpled hand on my face, I thought of the rare jewels our children are to us. October's flaming colors were everywhere, and we were delighted to share them with all nature. Never was a mother happier with her family than I. We joined together as a family in frolic, races and anything that was fun. Raising a family is such a rare blessing when fond parents share the responsibility and wrap their love around their children.
At three months, William became critically ill with meningitis. We watched him closely as he went into a stupor. Words can't express the anguish we had watching him so still and white. All night we watched and prayed with broken hearts that God would not take him from us. A merciful Father heard our pleadings and let him live. When the stupor passed he woke up smiling. God had given him his health. The doctor said it was a miracle. Don't doubt God's power.
On the 12th of July, 1906 our third son, Alton, was born. How thankful we were for him. We welcomed him with thankful hearts. At two Alton had an accident that scalded his hand. He was in such agony that he rubbed the skin from his hand before we could get it bandaged. We had to bandage each finger separately so that they would not grow together. We exercised faith, and we are thankful that it healed without a scar.
Working in the Church helped my sad heart mend. I looked forward to meeting with those sweet children. I forced myself to join the youth amusements too. Being with the young people and helping them with their problems gave me new hope, and was a real pleasure. I was called to be the Relief Society Secretary, making three organizations I was working for. This new responsibility was a great deal of work. The teachers report had to be kept accurately and the annual fees accounted for, because, "by the books we are judged." Minutes of meetings had to be kept, and an annual report to the Stake was made each year.
On May 25th, 1909, Emily was born. Another bundle of love from Heaven. Her coming again brought peace and cheer. Babies bring so much joy to a mother. We loved her with all of our hearts. She kept me busy. Although I've worked many hours for my children to take care of their needs and teach them, their love has repaid me each day I live.
Winona, our seventh girl was born December 31st, 1910. Nothing better or sweeter could have been given to us. She came the last hour of the day, the last day of the week and the last week of the year. But not last in our love for her. I had gone through the pains of childbirth and felt fine until the 9th day. We were happy thinking that it wouldn't be long and I would be out of bed. But instead, the next morning my leg was swollen as large as two. The midwife who had been nursing me came and said to get a doctor. The doctor gave me little encouragement, and doubted that I would live. He did the best he could with his knowledge and medicine, but it could not relieve the pain.
Out in the dark dooryard Don knelt in prayer. Seeing my suffering he felt that since there was no more the doctor could do, that we must place our trust in our Heavenly Father. Inspiration came to him beyond the power of men, telling him what to do. He took hot water, added salt and bran and applied it with blankets to my leg, as hot as I could stand it. The first application helped ease the pain, so he repeated it several times. Milk leg was thought to be incurable. But God in his power can heal anything if we are humble and willing to do His will. My life was saved only by His power.
The doctor said if I ever did get well I'd never walk. Sometimes I was discouraged and wept because I was so weak, and wondered if the doctor was right. Again he proved to be wrong. I was confined to my bed for two months, and at first I was so weak I had to learn to walk all over again, but many are the miles I've walked since then.
My husband was again called on a mission. The plans we had to build a home had to go. It takes money to keep a family and a man on a mission. We sacrificed our business and sold the store. My health wouldn't permit me to run it. Don was also trustee in the school district, and I was appointed to take his place until the school election, but I never got out of the job. I was elected for another term, even though it would soon be time for a new baby to arrive. They wouldn't take no for an answer, so what could I do.
Our baby, Okie, was born on November 24th, 1912 with her father far away. This always left a thorn in my heart. Doing school work helped pass away the long time before my husband would return. She planted love in our hearts, and was so dear to us. We called her our missionary girl. She made the eleventh diamond in our crown. It seemed that each child came to sooth a broken heart. I have thought so much of each one, and how sweet and loving each were. My past thoughts bring happiness. The future glides by so quickly. I appreciate the precious gift of these memories of each of my children as they said humble prayers at my knee, and were all safe at night. I cherish the memory of those babies with their pleasant smiles and winning ways.
With my husband away I worked and worried all winter, but I couldn't keep things from going wrong. When I watered our team in the morning everything seem ok, but one of them had bled to death before nine. Then one of our milk cows broke her neck and died. We tried to do our chores carefully, but these things just happen. I realize now that these things are just minor, but with a husband so far away, they were mighty inconvenient.
The winter passed slowly. When spring came we were glad we had survived. But the spring farm work had to be done. The children and I did it without any help. It was impossible to get help, so we did it alone. We cut the hay and had it bunched, but before we could haul it, it rained. With a long steady rain it didn't dry until the lucern grew several inches high between the bunches. It was so hard to get the hay up, and most of it was spoiled from being too wet. But we had to haul it off so that another crop would grow. It was not an easy job for us. We shocked our grain and hauled it too. Then it was time to get the wood in for the winter. Ervin said he thought he could get from the creek bed rather than going to the mountains for it. I helped him cut the trees. Every morning we hitched up the team and worked on it. We sawed all day to get enough blocks to fill a wagon bed. The blocks were then split and the wood staked in the wood shed. Having a wood supply relieved us of the worry of having fuel for the winter.
Through it all I didn't want to change my life for that of a younger woman. My next birthday I would be forty years old. I have traveled over crooked winding roads. Sometimes I went wrong and got off the right road. Many times I did wrong before I knew. May the good I do out weigh the ills, for it was a long hard road, and some of the hills were steep. Much in life depends on which road we choose. I prayed, that now I was forty, that Father would help me to see and count the blessings I knew came from Him. When I was put into the Relief Society secretary position, they didn't give me a chance to say no. Those in authority willed it, and that was that. It may be a good thing that we don't always know what lies in the future for us though. While I was sick I was not released until the time came to make me second counselor.
On February 22nd, 1914, Don returned from his mission to be with his family. Hand in hand we went up the road of life together. Responsibility came to our six children by the score. With their help and that of my husband I was able to keep up with my work in the ward. Sometimes these duties were hard to take. We really had to first consider the responsibility of making a living for our family. I hadn't been released yet as Relief Society secretary. Every Tuesday I was expected to be in meeting in wind, rain or snow. Every Tuesday I had to plan my work in detail because I had to take three babies to meeting with me. I washed hands and faces and put my three little girls hair up in curls. In stormy weather I carried two babies in my arms. The older one walked proudly by me. Our older children went to school every day, so there was no one to leave them with. Father had to spend time at his work and business to make a living for his family. When the weather was fine taking the children was fun, because by my taking the lead they could run along behind me. They made little trouble and just sat on the bench by my side until meeting was over and we could go back home.
I found that if I could profit by what the class leader taught it would help me live throughout the week. The lessons dealt with all phases of life to help mothers deal with their families. We were always glad to go to meeting, where we were taught to be cheerful. The lessons always taught something new. The president was there to guide and direct the counselors. The secretary kept a record of good deeds and acknowledged the good each member had done. When the call came to be first counselor I was released from secretary. With this new responsibility I prayed for power to help with the duties. Father helped me to overcome temptations and to do right so that I could feel good about myself. I have great faith in the Gospel. Why do I hesitate to frown on all evil before it is too late?
I was learning fast to carry the load. The first day I was counselor I was called to lay out the dead. Our president was gone from home for a week, and so I was in the harness. That week one brother and one sister died. I had their burial clothes and funeral to look after. I enjoyed being counselor while I stayed in that calling. My only regrets are the mistakes I made. I hope the good deeds will balance these out. I will thank God for the privilege I had. All of the time the tempter lurks near. And sometimes he gets the upper hand. While we are trying to be good he works fast to keep us from doing our duty. He'll try to tempt us until we die.
As I sat meditating one day I had a phone call from Bishop Fullmer asking if my husband and I could come in for a talk. He wanted to know if my husband and I would be willing for me to serve as Relief Society president to be the mother of the ward. In humility I accepted that responsibility. It took faith for my family. Whatever at that time seemed to me to be a burden proved to be a great blessing to me. I loved my two counselors. We were united in obtaining inspiration. We helped the young people's weddings, and worked with sickness and helped bury the dead. We had entertainments for the young and the old. We comforted the sorrowful when we were called to their homes.
The Relief Society sisters helped everyone. We never knew when our work would be finished. Our greatest responsibility was to help those in need. When we were called on for a donation all responded freely for whatever we were asked. Working with the dear sisters left me with fond memories, and I still enjoy their company whenever we meet. One of our tasks was to make burial clothes. My home was the place we met most often. My family got the pleasure of serving dinner. It gave my daughters extra work, and brought happiness to both them and to me. There were no funeral homes. We had to prepare the bodies for burial in the home instead. We held the funeral at the Church house, which we had this to get ready, and to take care of the flowers as well. A lunch had to be prepared for family and friends after the funeral. I served as president in horse and buggy days. Things were different then.
When the sisters came to conference from the county seat, a half dozen or more came to our home for their meals. We had to prepare lunch at noon and dinner at night, since there was no other way for them to be accommodated. With automobiles long distance has been taken away, so they can go home with comfort at the end of a day's meetings. When we went to Heber to conference it took a whole day with a horse team. We worked hard in the ward and tried to do our share, but I always made sure my family was properly cared for. My husband and children made certain things at home were taken care of.
Our secretary was jovial, and a good kind woman, who was always on hand to meet members. We tried in our weak ways to help the sick and the dying. We worked hard and prayed that we'd be faithful in providing the needed comfort to those facing the hardships of those who suffered. It takes courage and humility to be a worthwhile friend regardless of the circumstances, but this kind of work molds character. Working with those in sickness and death almost breaks one's heart. Being president of the Relief Society is like being mother to the ward. One must accept the responsibility and trust in God that our hearts will be filled with compassion for everyone. Our labor was not for power, but for love. My fondest hope is to teach the children God gave me, and to guide them back, Father, to thee.
The Boren family was having a reunion once a year to bring scattered family members together. We always enjoyed a good programs at these annual meetings. A reunion was planned to be in our home November the tenth, but William took critically ill and went to the hospital. On the 18th of November he died while we were there. And again we were brought down to the depths of anguish for our dear son. He had joined his sisters. His sickness came suddenly, and death followed quickly on its heals. We brought him home where friends gathered to share our burden. The Relief Society sisters came with love to give us strength. Yes, there was sorrow and weeping in our home that night. Our hearts were breaking. Such anguish we bore that day. It made us feel old.
There is no use thinking we can explain such things. We must simply acknowledge our Father knoweth best. One more of our children is numbered with those who receive the blessings of eternity. We laid William softly down to sleep among the hills. We gently laid flowers on the grave while tears dropped like rain. I did not know what tears were until that day. I learned that tears, like rain, can bring refreshing peace to hearts parched with pain. How happy we'll be when time is no more, and our weary feet reach that eternal place, and we hear William's voice speak to us gently. And yet we feel we know our dear kind Lord has richly honored William. Could it be that he could no longer grant a stay to him in this world? Without him we are lonely, but his going brings joys and comfort as we contemplate the beauty of his soul. Could we ever go back to normal living? Could we adjust our lives in a lonely home now? Our friends gave us what comfort they could.
Ervin and Elva married and had families of their own. We enjoyed them in our home until they were grown. Each of their families added a girl and a boy that brought new joy into our lives.
In 1919 the flu raged and took such a toll of death and sorrow to the nation. Ervin's family in Provo had the flu, and I went to help. In a few days I was down with the rest. A fourteen year old girl was all of the help we had. We were greatly blessed that she remained free of the flu when it was taking whole families all over the nation.
The next year the flu raged in our town, and nearly every family was sick. People were afraid to stay with the sick, so for weeks I was away from home night and day. The flu had gone almost completely through town when it invaded our home. I had helped with the sickness in most homes in town. It was almost impossible to get any help. God gave me the strength to care for my own. Boys did our chores and work outside, for which I will be eternally grateful. If we are humble, God will provide.
From fifty to sixty years I have seen the beauties God gave us. Children's joys and laughter have enriched my life. I will try to live so I can forget the years that were filled with doubts and fears. In my sixtieth year I climb the rugged hill of life, counting on at least ten more that will be filled with both joy and, of course, problems. Tender memories cling round those bygone years when boys and girls tell me about their joys and fears. There is no turning back. Time's invisible fingers are indelibly written on our soul.
I was asked to teach the Gospel Doctrine class a time or two. I had taught classes many times, but to teach parents was a great responsibility. With my limited knowledge I didn't know what to do. I accepted the call in humility, and I'm telling you that I studied and prayed and prayed and studied again. I knew my pupils would be very experienced men and women. It was only with inspiration from above that I could try to teach the Gospel. Words spoken aimlessly without sincere conviction fail to inspire. Humbly I prayed for inspiration. For any success I give praise to the Lord. My failures I made on my own.
Those years gave me a testimony more precious than gold. Looking back I see that ofttimes we do things the hard way, but we learn by doing. When you interest a class and hold them spellbound, then the lesson has clicked, and you have found the key to their heart. I hope I have left a sacred memory with all that attended my class. I'll always share their friendship.
I was called to be secretary to a missionary committee. We planned at night and worked during the day. Brother Boyden, Sister Nuttall, Sister Boren and I would get money to send to the missionaries. More faithful workers would be hard to find than those dear missionary friends. Every Monday night we held a meeting and planned a dance or a party to make money. While we served we helped two missionaries in the field. Some faithful members paid a dollar a month to the fund. Sometimes we solicited money, but were never turned down. We sold ice cream too. We proved many times that faith without works is dead. By working together we became life-long friends.
When Alton was called on a mission it was hard to send him under the conditions that existed. It took all the courage we had to have him go. Our home was mortgaged and we were deep in debt. Money was scarce. To sponsor that mission we had to make sacrifices, but we were repaid in spiritual satisfaction. Our family worked unitedly in all kinds of weather from daylight to dark. In the winters our hands and feet almost froze doing chores. We then milked twelve or thirteen cows. Alton knew he had one hundred percent support from home wherever he went on his mission. We sent him with a prayer that he would take a leading part, and we were more than satisfied with his effort. I cannot express the happiness and joy that came from having a missionary husband and son.
Sometimes my patience was tried by the fact that all of my time was taken trying to help my children get an education. They got up early to ride 12 miles in a bus. Lunch had to be packed every day, and dinner must be ready when they got back.
Money was scare there on the farm. I remember the girls did their part to add their small earnings to the pot. Emily stayed home from school part of the time, but by taking weekly examinations she made her grade. When graduation time came and school was completed she received her diploma along with the rest of the students. Our girls worked on the farm like men to help Alton get through his mission. Don's health failed while Alton was away, but day after day the work was completed. From then on our troubles never eased until Alton was released from his mission. The girls helped mow and bunch the hay and then haul it. We shocked grain and pitched, hauled and stacked bundles. The trials should make us better men and women. Trials made our family grow close.
In November 1936 I had a sever case of flu. I didn't get well all winter no matter what we tried. In March I went to the Intermountain Clinic, and from there to the LDS hospital. Five doctors, Tindell, Hatch, Maw, Vico and an intern I can't name, said I needed a number of operations, but my heart was too weak to withstand them. The surgical doctor said I was a poor risk for an operation, and that they better treat me medically. He thought that if they could get rid of gallstones and a poisonous goiter, I may get well. They decided to try to build up my physical condition by keeping me in bed for six weeks more. Then I went from the hospital to Winona's. In addition to her profession, she spent all of her extra time giving me such tender care.
My heart never got strong enough for them to operate, so I went home to stay the summer. For five years the doctors kept me alive, but I was down and out. My husband and family took my responsibilities, so I didn't have to worry about work at all. Although I was sick, I didn't want the children to think that I was lazy. I crocheted doilies for cupboards and tables, and counted my time profitably spent. While doing seven bedspreads I watched the pattern grow with flowers and gay designs. While working on them I left cares behind. So you will find the stitches I made in your memory chest.
The second time they took me to the hospital to stay for a while, but it wasn't long again before they took me away to stay with Winona in Park City. She gave me the best of care, and I enjoyed her company.
On the twenty-ninth of April we had been married fifty years. Our children planned to celebrate our golden wedding day, but the big time was called off when the doctor said I could not go to Wallsburg. At that time we were living in Salt Lake City. The doctor's words were hard to take, but our children handled it tactfully and made it easier for us. They came to Salt Lake with presents and a feast, and we appreciated it. Ervin and Winona's families couldn't come, but they said that they would pay our way on a vacation.
A year later we were on our way to sunny California for a two-month stay to see the children and to get a tighter grip on life. I was too ill to see much of California, but we had a good time. The children lived closely enough together that we could walk from place to place. We'd enjoyed those days. We learned to appreciate our family. The children did all they could to make our stay pleasant. My husband spent most of his time fishing. One lovely morning he landed the largest fish he ever had. It was 27 inches long and weighed 9 and one half pounds. Fishing in the Feather River was very good. When it was time to return to Utah to spend the rest of the summer and winter, the children saw us on the bus to Marysville. We'll always remember that trip.
We lived in Salt Lake City three winters, and then moved to St. George, where we could work in the Temple. We had a great deal of difficulty finding a place to live within walking distance of the temple. We had no automobile, so we couldn't take a place beyond walking distance. At last we found one little room with no conveniences. It had a cupboard made of orange boxes, a little old stove, two chairs and a box for a wash stand. We had no hot water and did our washing by hand. There was no warm carpet, and the bed had a hard mattress with poor springs. The rent was high for such a place. All winter long we lived as they did in pioneer days. We were not the type to give up and go back home, so we played make believe and said things were fine. Going to the temple each day gave us strength to stay in spite of the inconvenience.
When spring came and we had completed our winter's work we paid our rent, stored our things and set out on our second trip to California. It took one full night's ride on the bus to Los Angeles, where we were delayed for twelve hours. When we got there the station was crowded, and we were tired. The bus was to leave in an hour or so. We waited for a call for the bus to take us to our destination, and when it came we rushed to the door of the bus. But to our surprise they said the bus was full. Remember, it was war time, and there was no other means of transportation available. We had nothing to do but to wait for the next bus, which would not be until seven o'clock that night. We had traveled the first night so that we could see California during the day, but instead we traveled all of the way at night. After 496 miles we reached Yuba City after noon. But once with our family, it did not take long to forget our problems.
We spent a wonderful time for two weeks or so, and then traveled 116 miles to Central Valley to see Ervin and his family for awhile. They treated us first class. We enjoyed the beautiful roses. It was a treat to pick ripe oranges from the tree. There were orchards and vineyards as far as the eye could see.
A man who worked there took us to Shasta Dam. We first saw it from the top of the mountain. Even workmen had to show passes, and the only way we could visit was to go with one of them. The dam was well guarded. We rode down the canyon for miles after our inspection from the mountain, and went up on the elevator four hundred sixty-five feet high. It almost took my breath away. It was interesting to see how easily the work was done. It went like clock work. The machinery worked with such perfection you'd think it would be fun to work with it. They would press a button and a batch of cement was mixed. Press another button and the load was sent to the dam.
We left the elevator to walk up three flights of steps leading to the tower. I just went up two flights and ran out of strength. The steps were built on the outside wall, and the only protection was a rail. Looking down to the ground made me dizzy, and I was afraid I would fall. The rest of the company got to the tower and could see for miles around. Our experience was interesting. It was amazing to see cement carried down on a wire by the ton.
What a sight the dam would be when it was completed. It would back up water for thirty five miles in three rivers. We rode over the highest double decker bridge in the world. The Pit River was down under. It was a marvel to see it so far below. The train came through a tunnel and traveled on the lower deck of the bridge. Four automobiles could go abreast on the roadway.
We went back to Winona's and celebrated our wedding day as well as theirs. In May we celebrated both Father's birthday and Mothers day. In June we celebrated Fathers day as well. We enjoyed a feast for all five celebrations. The Feather River was good fishing, and the rest of the vacation we enjoyed it every day. Sometimes we'd all take lunch, and we all enjoyed it so much. My husband would fish with Jess from a boat in the early dawn, and then fish alone while Jess was gone to work. They had plans to meet at the river each day when Jess got off work. Jess would say, "I'll be on the river 'till you come."
One day Jess came home from work ill, but did not want to break his appointment with Don. He asked us to go tell him it would be best for him to stay home and rest. We went to the river and signaled Don, and thought he'd take up anchor and row in. But the wind was blowing so hard that he could not row the boat to shore. He was going down the river at such a rate that my blood ran cold. The Feather River was deep and wide, and I was afraid that if he capsized he would not be able to swim against the current. It was not long before the boat was out of sight around a bend. We offered a fervent silent prayer that Father would be safe.
The strength Don received from an unseen power helped guide the boat safely to shore. Winona had run down the river as fast as she could go, and returned smiling with Father. When he had reached the bank, he tied the boat to a tree. He vowed that he'd not get trapped alone on the river. When he had to go alone, he'd fish from the shore.
When the vacation was over we went to the railroad station to return home. A score or more soldiers were waiting, and we were afraid that there were so many that we couldn't get to the train. But fortunately we were soon on our way home. We were due in Salt Lake City the next night at eight, but the train was delayed five hours, so we were late again. People waiting at the station were frantic because they could not find a room. No other train left that night, and the train station would soon be closed. "There are no rooms to be had", we heard people say. Don didn't wait, but went out immediately and found a place for us.
The second fall we went away from home we knew that we would never go back to Wallsburg to stay. It's hard to leave a home you have built and lived in for years. There are memories in each corner, and your thoughts go through the house and everywhere. I love these places my children have lived in. What a thrill went through my heart as I watched them play. These memories are fresh in my mind. We worked hard to be independent, but we got the wrong slant on the business wedge. Quite often one makes errors, but we tried to be cheerful for each other's sake. My advice is to use what means you need as you go along, and enjoy life. We worked to save for a rainy day, things didn't always work out.
In the fall we again went to St. George before our rent was due. The place was already rented to another person. The landlady had rented to two people. We had a written agreement, and could have held the place, but we didn't want a fight, and simply turned it back. But we didn't know what we would do for another place to live. When we reached the sidewalk we met President Snow, and he solved our problem. He directed us to an apartment in the Stake House. We found out what comfort in a small apartment could be like. There was nobody to bother us, and the hot water was available day and night. We sold our home and stored our furniture. We knew we would have to rent until normal conditions were restored.
Leila Snyder bought a home and made plans to build two apartments in it. We stayed with her in part of her home for the rest of the winter. The apartments were not yet ready, but she didn't want to live alone. When you move before things are ready you make a mistake. For a time things didn't work out too well. Moving and building at the same time isn't very pleasant. You have to do things twice. We just couldn't get materials to remodel. We sent for our furniture and stored it in one room. Day by day we hoped we'd soon be settled. Spring came and we were still in a mess. But it didn't do any good to complain. We simply had to wait to have a chimney built. Each day we must greet people with a smile, even though promises are broken. We couldn't keep things clean. The red mud of St. George clung to our feet and tracked everywhere. We longed for a place to hang our clothes. We were still living out of trunks and suitcases. Papers and receipts got lost, and it was a problem for us to keep going.
We surely were uncomfortable for a little while. Don had to take over the carpentry work to get it finished. Two clothes closets had to be moved, windows and doors had to be rehung to face the other direction. One room had five doors leading into it. We filled two of them in and papered over them. When the chimney was built there was plastering to do, and we had no idea how long it would take to get that done. When the plasterer finally came, we were more than willing to settle his bill. Then the paper hanger came and did one room, but it all came off before it was finished, and the job had to be done over again. But who could put in on to stay? We found a sister with a large family who could do the work, but she would have to come over after school at night. We worked with her until ten each night, and finally got it finished. We had no place to put dishes until the cupboard was built, and so they remained packed away. To worry about these little perplexities doesn't make much sense, but they were really annoying. The saying is that we go from the frying pan into the fire, but we tried to be sensible.
The third winter we had a comfortable home, and we gave many thanks to our Heavenly Father. We felt as though heaven was not very far away. We had plenty to eat and plenty to wear, and we slept peacefully.
I'll tell you about another vacation. When we left it was early morning and the weather was warm. We arrived at the bus station on St. George, bought our tickets, and waited patiently for the bus. We left at seven ten on a crowded bus, but we were glad to be on our way to see our children. We got to Cedar City, and had only fifteen minutes to walk a block and catch the train. We boarded with two minutes left, and the train left on time. At Lund we changed trains, but had an hour to wait, so we were able to get something to eat. The Challenger, a swift, long train, picked us up, and we were on our way. We landed in Milford in the middle of the day and stayed with our children for a while. Jess met us at the station and took us home to a fish dinner. Then they took us on a fishing trip to the mountains where the water was clear and cold. Our first night we camped in a green meadow and saw some wild deer. We were disappointed that there were no cabins, but we slept under the stars without shelter and were glad. By morning, however, the night became cold, and we nearly froze. But the sun chased the dew away and we were content to stay longer. The scenery was so beautiful.
The fishing was good, and the men got their share. We had plenty of fish to eat. The time passed quickly, and we had to return. The road down the mountain was narrow, steep and dangerous, and gave us plenty of thrills and chills. But rough roads are the price one must pay to get up to the lakes.
The time we had to stay was too short, but we had other children we wanted to visit. We stayed in Milford a few days, and then left on the train again. Lyndle station was our next stop, and soon we would be nearing our destination. Fern and the girls met us at the railroad station and took us to their home It was a thrill to see them. We enjoyed our time with them. The nights were cool and the days warm. When they were through with their work we went sight seeing with the family. We rode miles and miles in the countryside, and enjoyed it. The night before we left some of their friends came over, and the next morning they took us to Provo.
We spent the rest of our vacation in Provo and Salt Lake, with children, grandchildren, and tried to find time to renew friendships. The children, however, always had something planned for us to do. Family visits, chicken dinner, and driving in Provo Canyon. We'll always remember our visits there. They took us to Wallsburg to meet old friends who had shared our joys and sorrows, and that was a genuine treat. We felt the spring and summer were well spent. We were treated royally. But is was time to return to St. George for the winter.
The next vacation we were happy to get onto the bus without any problem. Most of the passengers were asleep before we traveled far, but I sat there wide awake, thrilled to think about leaving all cares behind and meeting with our family again. For weeks we had counted each hour before we would be on our way. We rode over acres of barren land, which helped me understand why man has to make a living by the sweat of his brow, as Adam did. We traveled over rough roads to Beaver, and there were met by our loved ones, again without any problems. From there we went about thirty miles by automobile, and had a good time for ten days. Fishing to my husband is the best time you can have. It spurs up the spirit.
We cut our visit short this time, and thought we would be able to go back in the fall. We went from Milford to Leamington for a few days, and spent the rest of our time in Provo and Salt Lake. The visits we had with our children were the best. We enjoyed a good visit with friends, but two months was the limit of our vacation this time, so we returned to St. George.
I'm sorry to say we missed the fishing trip we had planned on our way back. Unexpected things come up. We can't always stay where we wish. We'll go back to St. George and make the best of the winter while we are there. Next summer we'll come back to share our joys with children.
Our fourth winter in St. George was a pleasant one. As soon as a room was vacated it was taken up quickly. We were fortunate to have three rooms when higher rent came along. Property raised in price by one-half to two-thirds, so now we decided to move back north again, to be closer to our loved ones.
We felt that we could accomplish a great deal of work by spring. Month by month passed before the temple was open, so we didn't get all of the work we had hoped to. Working in the temple brought peace to us. As long as we live that glad memory will stay. Just to look at the temple gave us inspiration. To work there helped us gain our salvation. We cannot explain the feelings we felt there. May that spirit always remain with us. We hope some day to go back to the temple again. We love temple work. We worked seven winters in the temple as much as we could. I hope the five hundred I worked for will appreciate it.
When we left St. George we got up early to see our things packed on the truck. Our neighbors stood by to shake our hand, and express their true friendship. We said goodbye to those dear friends, and hoped we had not left behind any enemies. We left St. George on a bright April day to make our home in Provo. We traveled without worry, even though all of our belongings were with us. The beauties of nature appealed to me as never before. Even the waste sage brush and rocks told me that they were placed there by someone all wise. It was a long journey, about three hundred miles, and we observed many interesting things green valleys, and the contrast between spring and winter. It gave me a thrill to travel along the side of the mountain, and into the valley below with its streams of crystal clear water. The road was crooked and winding, but we enjoyed the joys and beauty of the day.
Long will I remember that beautiful April day. Each town we came to was alive with girls and boys, the stores were well stocked, and well dressed men and women walked the streets. In green pasture we saw cattle and sheep, and I could see beauties in the clouds that floated by, and pines on the mountains. My gaze didn't miss the snow-capped mountains with streams flowing from them. Hills of cedar were everywhere, where wild deer try to hide from hunters. I would have liked to pick some of the wild flowers, but we traveled too quickly. But we did hear song birds singing their happy songs up in the trees. I kept thinking what the future had in store for me. How many times in life we didn't know what to do. I thought what a wonderful world this would be if only each could see their own faults. While the road was winding around each bend, it was taking us closer to our friends and family. I could only see beauty as we went steadily along. I can't recall a more interesting and pleasant day. We were nearing our home and our loved ones. A long day's journey had brought us to the end of the road.
Our children met us with sincere joy and cheer. We were homesick and lonesome while we were away, and now hoped to stay close to our children. Now we have moved back on a farm. We have crystal water, and the air is free. I still like being a farmer's wife. I'm living in the garden of your childhood days. The sweet memory gives me joy. The love we cultivated in that garden long ago grows truer and stronger as the years march on.
Those were happy golden hours. We learn by suffering the value of time. Dear children, turn over a new page and try seeing what forgiving little faults will do for you. Only kindly words, deeds or thoughts will help us be charitable like we were taught to be. Stand on your own feet and don't turn a cold shoulder to anyone. It is much better to suffer wrong. So wipe the slate clean and start over today. You don't have to have much wealth to be happy. It takes love and contentment, and good health.
Don't hold back words that will give comfort and cheer, and your heart will be happier. The time to appreciate us and to give us love is while we are here. It will not take an ounce of love from your own family. A kind word, a letter, or even a card does not take love from anyone. But it can lift someone's worry and sorrow. Time counts as nothing when help and love is needed. Angry words pierce the heart.
I'll not admit I'm feeble, even though I am over seventy years old. I can't tell you the joys and sorrows of seventy years. Our hearts must be free from anger now to have peace and happiness. In a shade past seventy I must still climb a hill. When you number the days, I've been in the shade a long time. Old age may make me slow, but I'll still try to help those that are in need. I count my blessings. I'm old, but God has given me better health.
The years have been kind to me. Sunshine and shadows come and go. The darkest hour is just before the dawn. Happy will be the day when we understand why trials come to us. We have not been told why so many troubles come. But by faith we're given strength to grow old. The sorrows that came in our younger days have never healed. Why it should be we've never learned. Though my hair grows white and my footsteps lose their grace I still laugh at my grandchildren's happiness. When we pick roses the leaves wither and die, but they are still fragrant to the end of the day. Look closely and you will see what these later years have brought to me. Dear Lord, I do not care if I am growing old as long as my family hold true love for me. May I stand on life's hillside and look back and see a life well spent. It's hard to live and never stray from God's teachings.
If could, I'd like to leave my testimony here and impress it upon your lives. I often wonder what my children think of my silver hair. Can you think of giving greater service than to give help to loved ones while you live? Each year the world has been good to us. Dear children you make me happy. When I see the beauties of your faces so clearly, with so much hope pride and joy I wrapped around each of you, I hear childhood voices calling. I remember the joys, not the tears. Time has marred life's beauty, but the declaration of love is supreme in my heart. Help me, Father, to be more thoughtful when I see sorrow and pain, and lend a helping hand.
My life's work is swiftly passing, soon it will be done. May I leave a blessing to my children.
Pure thoughts are like silent friends to cheer our lonesome hours
They smile from the garden of our soul like bright-eyed flowers
At the foot of the mountain I gaze at the peak I must scale
Oh give me strength as I climb up the rugged trail.
Tender memories cluster around those bygone years. Now all our children have flown from the home nest, and are making homes for companions and children. The harvest time of our lives are when they come bounding home, and tell us they've found no happier place. Our family is worth all the heartaches and pain they've caused when with a loving smile they come home again. Now we have grandchildren and great grandchildren. How could anything to equal the joys they bring.
I remember in my prime, spending most of my time with a loving family with such beautiful things. Six of our children married with our blessing. Our hope is that their love will be greater each year, with an aim to make a home and raise a family. We prayed that there would be no discord. Married life builds hope, faith and love. To raise an honorable family is a wonderful dream. We look at our family with pride.
Five grandchildren were born to me between my fortieth and fiftieth years. Six came between my fiftieth and sixtieth. Seventeen were born between my sixtieth and seventieth. One born in my seventieth year made twenty nine. When thirteen of those grandchildren came to Earth I took care of their family. I rendered that service with a mother's love. Now I have six great grandchildren. Two of our grandchildren lived with us seven years. I held them so tenderly in my heart, and missed them so much when they left.
Seventy-three years today ( October 24th, 1946) they laid me in my mother's arms. My birthplace was a new little village where my parents were pioneers. I honor them for having such a large family. They obeyed the commandments given to them by one all wise. We were taught in youth to follow the gospel light, and to do right and respect other's feelings.
In December, nineteen hundred and forty-six, I end my story. May the blessings of the Lord be with you all of your life. May the joys of life come to comfort and cheer you. I sincerely wish you a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.