WALTER GEORGE DAVID LAST AUTOBIOGRAPHY
The writer of this narrative was born in Ipswich Suffolk, England, son of Walter Last and Lavina Beaumont on August 2, 1858.
My father was at the time employed as an assistant to a grocery firm from what I have been told. I was quite a healthy child but as the laws of England required that every child be vaccinated before it was six months old, I was vaccinated and from that time on I began to sicken and indeed my parents doubted if it would be possible to raise me. As it happened I struggled between life and death, unable to walk without the aid of crutches or walking sticks until I was five years of age.
Soon after this my father had an offer to go to London where he was engaged as a house porter, my mother was also employed as a housekeeper. I am just able to recall my early childhood from the time we began to live in Great Tower Street. I had a sister, Kate, 2 -1/2 years older than myself, a brother 2-1/2 years younger than myself; Charles Christopher who died May 6, 1928 and Thomas Henry, the youngest.
Still sickly, I managed to get along and was able to go to some of the schools, dressed in a blue serge dress until I was seven years old when I was transferred to a boys school and dressed in corduroys. As my health was anything but good, I did not go to school regularly. I must have attended half a dozen schools. My father was quite a favorite with the heads of the City of London Real Property Co. and they offered him a position as House Keeper in a very large building containing 100 rooms. My mother had charge of the cleaning. Women came at 6 a. m. and dusted till 9 a. m. then again from about 6 p. m. to about 9 p. m. to sweep and clean floors, etc. The men were employed to carry coal, etc., they were under my father's supervision. One thing I remember is that I will always regret that I did not go to the Blue Coat School (Sir John Cass Charity School.) It was quite a large school and only influential people could get their children in - but, as I have said, my father was quite a favorite with his employers, and liked so much that Mr. Innes, President of the Real Estate Co. offered to give him a recommendation for me to go to school.
My mother had peculiar ideas of her own, did not want me to go to the school because of the quaint uniform required to be worn. It was consisted of dark blue breeches, yellow stockings, slippers with a large steel buckle and a long coat reaching almost to the ground.
After my parents had been with this company about seven years and had saved some money, my mother was desirous of going into a business and after considerable delay during which time Mr. Iiness at Leyton, Essex. Neither father or mother had any knowledge of the business and einess at Leyton, Essex. Neither father or mother had any knowledge of the business and especially of that they went into, with the result that in about 18 months they had lost all the money they had made during the previous seven years and were "flat broke".
I was then about 13 years old and I got a job at a florists in Leyton, Essex and stayed only a few days as my people removed to Commercial Rd. East London. I got a job at a chemists or drug store at five shillings a week. I worked from 8 a. m. until 9 p. m. Well do I remember when the chemist, a real good Catholic named McDermot, asked me to make pills. First he got his pestle and mortar, then mixed up the following ingredients: soap, bitters, aloes and ginger. After pounding the mixture for some time until it looked like putty he handed it to me to, into strips and roll into balls in my hands and throw them into some licorice powder. They were not enameled like they are now. Here comes the secret. Pills were sold in penny worths. There were small boxes laid out on the table and 1 was told to put two "Anti-Billious" in half the boxes and three in the others, then the boxes were labeled, head, stomach and liver. I believe there were other complaints also that they were supposed to cure but they were all made of the same ingredients. Then, again, when a customer came in they were asked if they wished the extra strong pills and if they did they got the box with two pills in it, otherwise they got the ones with three in them. Another thing I call to mind was when the chemist one day was talking to his brother-in-law and telling that he had difficulty in getting some money from a certain party he was asked if he got his bottles back the chemist said that he did. "Well" replied the brother-in-law, "you are not out anything".
I have forgotten to mention that in the City of London we did not live in a large building that my father was superintendent of because the inhabited house tax was so high, so we lived in a couple of rooms two doors away and half a mile further were our bedrooms.
After moving from Leyton my father got a job with a builder whom he had known when he was in the city and he remained with him until he died with pneumonia at the age of fifty.
After leaving the chemists I went to work at a tailors shop in the Mild End Road, a man who had risen from a shop boy to be the proprietor of the same business. He was a pretty good fellow in some ways but he was rather bigoted and conceited. He was over six feet tall and wore red whiskers and as we would say nowadays "he had a case on himself". I found him to be like most men who have risen from the ranks, quite tyrannical. But I stuck to my job which I started at 5 shillings a week. I began to think I was worth more. Asking him for a raise one day he refused and I gave him one weeks notice as is required of all weekly help. I soon got a job at 13 shillings a week, but had been there only six months when my former employer offered me 16 shillings a week to go back, which I accepted on condition that he would give me a raise. However, after 15 months more with him I again asked for a raise, which he again refused so I left him and soon got a job at 20 shillings a week. During the time I was employed I became attracted to the Congregational Church, the Pastor of which was a fine fellow and made us all feel good. I recall the first time I was asked to sing at a mutual improvement social. I sang "The Death of Nelson" and I received such an enthusiastic encore that I sang another number. This was my first attempt at singing in public, but after this I was so much in demand altho I did not, nor do I now, know a note of music. I have to thank my dear sister who always accompanied my singing.
I call to mind the time when I wished to go to a Sunday School outing. My employer had to go out that day as he always did when 1 wanted a day off, but he gave me a day off and paid my expenses when the church to which he belonged had an outing. This reminds me of the time, the first Thursday in September was always set apart as the Benefit day for the great fireworks people, Brocks at the Crystal Palace in Sydenham. I very much wanted to go and see this event but took it for granted that if I asked for the Thursday he would turn me down so I used a little strategy of my own on him. I asked him if he would let me have a day off the next week, either Wednesday or Friday. As I expected he said that he was going out both days but you can have Thursday if you wish. I thanked him and went home rejoicing. When I came back from dinner, however, he relented and told me I could have either day, but I told him I had arranged for Thursday. After leaving this place the second time I had several small jobs. I did not stop at that, eventually I got one as a bookkeeper in a private tailors office. I may add here I had never kept a book in my life except what I may have borrowed. Well, I was making pretty good money, about 25 shillings a week so I got married. I had not been in the blissful state long before I contracted Gastric Fever. I was in bed about 11 weeks at home. It seems to me this was the making of me physically for I have never had a serious illness since and this was nearly 50 years ago.
I lost my job and was taking a walk down Mile End Road one day when my old boss accosted me. "How are you"? "Fine", I replied. "Doing anything"? "No sir." "How would you like to work for me?" Well that was just what I wanted. He was still very overbearing and he almost became unbearable so I kept my eyes open for another opening.
An employer came to me one day and offered me a position to manage a branch at Chatham, Kent. I had not accepted it but something happened that upset his Lordship and I felt somewhat independent and told him off. "Well," he replied, "if the job doesn't suit you, you know what you can do." I said, "Thank you, it's already been done."
I went to Chatham, a military town about 30 miles from London, in the county of Kent. While there I gained a lot of experience. I came in touch with soldiers whose time was up, they generally had a cheap suit given them when they left the army which they were glad to exchange for a better one, which I did. I made it a point to ask them which they would rather do -- soldier under a man who had worked up from the ranks or one who had gone through a military college. In every case, without exception, they preferred the latter.
After four years I went back to London. In the meantime my mother had seen my old boss and he asked her if she thought I would be willing to go back to him. I did but his prestige had gone and he had overstepped his mark and was on the downward grade. He did not last long. The last I heard of him he was waiting for the old age pension, then 5 shillings a week after seventy. His wife would have been seventy years old but she had died some years before. They had only one living child, a girl who went to Australia and married an old sweetheart.
By this time my family was getting quite large. We had seven living children, 3 having died.
After leaving my job for the fourth time I went to work for the Capital and Labor Company at Commercial Rd., just out of the City. I stayed with them about 15 months. I should have stayed longer but I could not agree with another fellow in the department. I went right away and got a position in the Tottenham Court Road in the same firm but another branch at the Holloway Rd. Branch. I applied and gotl Baveystock, who was suffering with tuberculosis died, leaving me with 7 children, 6 under 13 years, the eldest boy was now holding a good position in the British Post Office, and was on a farm in South Wales. The next youngest boy, also went there, but neither of them cared for farming. The eldest boy joined the army, the next youngest the Navy.
It seems to me that I am now coming to the interesting part of my narrative. After struggling along as best we could for four years, the turning point of my life came. I was introduced to my present wife. It was not an easy thing for a young woman to do to undertake to raise a family who had almost forgotten their mother. We married, and it is to my present wife that I owe my present position.
As is usual English people are in the habit of drinking light beer with very little alcohol content. One would have to drink considerable of it to become intoxicated. In Public Houses, as they are called, men and women, wives and husbands drink and engage in conversation. We were just like everyone else, or almost so. "God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform." My wife went occasionally to a meeting held by a good clergyman by the name of Rev. Bloomer, of the Hornsey Rd. Episcopal Church. His theme was Temperance. One day he told his audience of women, "If you would give up your glass of beer you would be helping your men. Don't have it in the house when he comes home. Save the money you spend for beer, put it away and next summer take your family and go to the seaside for a vacation." When my wife came home, while we were at supper she said, "I don't believe I will drink anymore beer." "Well," I replied, "if you don't, I won't." And although that is more than 25 years ago, we have never taken another drop of beer or alcoholic drinks. Soon after this my pipe became distasteful, so I laid it aside and have never used it since. Some months after the Reverend Gentleman gave out that he was opening a Temperance Society and would like as many as would care to join to do so. My wife advised me to join and we did. We had not been there loare to join to do so. My wife advised me to join and we did. We had not been there long when they asked me to be the minute secretary, which I accepted. After a few weeks I said I would resign as I had no time to attend to it. However the night that I went to put in my resignation the secretary of the Society resigned because he was moving away and he proposed that I be appointed as the new Secretary and Treasurer, which was done. And instead of ridding myself of one job, I got another and a bigger one.
We used to have good times together and one night we were discussing religion and the number of denominations that the different members belonged to. Two of the members said they were Latter-day Saints, we did not know what they were, but when we were at Chatham we knew of a cult that called themselves "Jesreelites" or Latter-day Saints, but they were almost defunct. They had a temple almost finished at Gillingham just out of the Chatham, but it was never completed. I am told it is now a jam factory. When we told our friends that we did not know what "Latter-day Saints" professed to believe, they told us they were "Mormons". "Oh," said my wife, "You can have as many wives as you want." But we found out that polygamy was a thing of the past. We were persuaded to go to one of their meetings at Farley Rd. Stoke Newington, and I shall never forget the feeling that I had come over me when we heard a young missionary preaching the Gospel. There seemed to be so much truth in what he said that we decided to go there Sunday evening to a meeting at Finsbury Town Hall. There we had a spiritual feast. The Tout family of Ogden, Utah, of Welsh decent, all of them talented singers and who were in England studying music gave us some real music and the preaching was an inspiration to us and we continued to attend the meetings.
Shortly after this the "Saints" purchased a large hall at South Tottenham which they named "Deseret". It was really a combination motion picture theatre and hotel, and almost too large for a small band of worshipers, but I have seen it full many times of 700 people or more. After investigation for six months we applied for baptism and in due time we were to be baptized.
I am reminded that my wife never did have any of her children christened, as they call it, because she did not believe in it. Our worthy reverend gentleman did his best to get us to have them christened. I remember too, the week before we were to be baptized that a Mr. DeVille, a lay member of the church came to our door during the noon hour while the children were home from school and expressed himself as being greatly concerned about us leaving the church to join the Mormons. He seemed to be a very tolerant gentleman, not being inclined to make exaggerated statements against the "Mormons" as so many of the clergy are inclined to do. He told me that he was sorry that my wife did not believe in baptism. I said, "Oh, yes, but she does, and so do I, we are all going to be baptized next Sunday." "Oh, my dear friends, isn't there anything I can do to prevent this awful thing, to think of such a thing is terrible." I said, "No power on Earth can stop it." The poor fellow threw up his hands in the air and said how sorry he was. I told him he need not feel sorry for us for we were very happy about it.
The following Sunday we with our four children were baptized in the public baths at the City Road along with 7 others that day. We had a spiritual feast. It was not long before I began to take an active part in affairs. I offered my services to act as a deacon to conduct people to their seats. I soon became a Teacher and I remember that one Sunday at Priesthood meeting, held between Sunday School and Afternoon meeting, President Don C. Rushton speaking on tithing said, "If any of you people have a desire to go to Utah, you will never get to go unless you pay your tithing." Some of the members said it would be impossible to pay tithing as they could hardly pay the rent. Again I say, "God moves in a mysterious way". It made me think and although I never expected to come to Utah, I decided to pay my tithing and been blessed ever since.
I had quite a surprise on Saturday when I had come home to lunch, as usual, when President Peterson and one of his counselors came to see me. I asked them to take dinner with us but they had eaten so they said, "Go ahead and we will talk after dinner." I felt rather scared, as if I had done something I should not have done. However, they came out quite plain and said, "We want you to accept the position of Counselor to the President of the North London Branch. Surprised isn't the word for it, a feather could have knocked me down.
I tried to protest but to not avail. I had only been in the church a little more than a year and there were elders who had been members for years. However, they did not wish to argue with me but to ask me if I would accept the position. Of course I would, there was not anything else for me to do.
I call to mind that I was in the habit of taking a little snuff and always carried a little around in my vest pocket. Now I said to myself is the time to give up snuff. I took my box out of my vest pocket and put it on the mantel shelf and from that day to this I never used any except in fun to show the kiddies how funny it was. I want to say here, my sympathy goes out to the habitual drinkers, smokers and snuff takers. I had no difficulty in getting rid of smoking and drinking habit, but when it came to snuff, I had the hardest task in overcoming it with men all around me using it. For fully a month I fought and finally conquered it.
One day I got into conversation with a man staying at "Deseret" with his family. During the conversation he told me that he was waiting for the boat to take him to America. I remarked that it would doubtless never be my good fortune to go there. The man make this statement to me. "Be faithful and the Lord will open up the way."
Walking home from meeting one evening after we had been in the church about two years, one of our friends, Mr. Will Rook, then an Insurance agent and now a resident of Salt Lake City, (He was a member of the Hornsey Rise Temperance Guild and also a member of the Latter Day Saints and had been instrumental in introducing us to the missionaries) said to us, "I am going to Utah," "You are?" "I'm afraid that will never be my good fortune." Brother Rook asked me how much I would need if I were to come along and leave my wife and family until such time as I could earn and save enough to bring them out. "Would you be willing to do that?" "Yes," I calculated what it would take and told him. Brother Rook told me that he was going to sell his home and furniture and with some money he had coming to him he would be able to lend me enough to take me to Utah. I went home and told my wife about my opportunity and asked her what she thought about it. "Go, by all means," she said. "We'll manage somehow and make any kind of a sacrifice nece
So you can see what kind of a wife I had, she was prepared to take care of five children and herself and we didn't have a pound in the world more than we needed to keep us. Well, I began to make preparations for the journey and after two weeks I went to my friend, Brother Rook and inquired as to how things were coming along. "Not so bright," he said, "I'm afraid I can't get all the money. Do you think you could get along with less?" I told him I thought I could get along with ten pounds less, so he promised to get the money that week. I gave notice to leave my situation and began to get ready to leave, but the next week I saw my friend again and was put off again as he had had difficulty in selling his home and I would have to be satisfied with less or he would not be able to assist me. Believe me I was in a desperate fix. I had given notice to leave my job and no more income coming in and no means to purchase my fare to Utah. I did not know what to do. A few days later he came boldly forward and told me that he could not help me at all. "God moves in a mysterious way". Again, weold me that he could not help me at all. "God moves in a mysterious way". Again, we had a friend who was not of the church and as a last resort we went to him and told him of our predicament and we obtained enough to pay my expenses and the day for my departure came and I left on the 8th of July, 1910 on a Friday evening with quite a large group of the "Saints", including my friend, Brother Rook and his family. We arrived in Liverpool Saturday morning and visited the church headquarters and then boarded the S.S. Megantic which set sail that afternoon at two o'clock.
Nothing of particular interest happened on the journey. We had a group of German "Saints" on board, among them was a Brother Herman Eberhard who settled in Bothwell and became a hardworking farmer. We arrived in Montreal Canada on Sunday morning July 17. We got away pretty quickly by rail and arrived in Salt Lake on the following Saturday morning, tired out from the railroad journey which was the most tiring part of the trip.
On arrival in Salt Lake my friend Brother Rook went in search of a missionary he knew and he soon came and took us to his home where we had a much needed rest and the following day we went to a meeting but it all seemed like a dream to me and I expected to wake up and find myself back in England.
I felt strange without my wife and children and no home among people with different way of doing things, still I never looked back. I was introduced to several of the authorities of the Church, the late Francis M. Lyman, William Morton and others. After looking around Salt Lake City Monday and Tuesday without result or chance of a job, I decided to take the advice of the Elders I had met in England and go to a small town and turned my steps to Preston, Idaho, where I had been recommended to go by one who lived there.
I arrived in Preston with my grip and 6 shillings in my pocket at three p. m. on Wednesday afternoon. That was all I had to keep myself and family of six, 7,000 miles away and no job and a perfect stranger in a perfectly strange town.
I had a letter of introduction to the president of the Oneida Stake, whom I found to be out of town. I was sent to one of his counselors who also was out of town. Not a very encouraging situation, believe me. However, I was not alone. The Lord was with me and led me to the brother of the President of the London Conference who took me in hand (a brother Walter P. Monson, I believe) and gave me a supper, but was not able to furnish me with a bed. So I paid 2 shillings for a bed in the hotel, leaving me with 4 shillings.
The next day the kind brother took me around the town and introduced me to the merchants and anyone he thought would give me a job. But nothing doing. I spent 2 shillings of the remaining 4 shillings, leaving me with 50 cents to face the world. I believe, however, I did not have to buy a meal.
Friday morning I was out early and a man was trying to get me to go out and take orders for woolen goods at the local knitting factory, but I could not see how I was going to live when I could not get any money until the goods were delivered. However, as I was standing in the store, a man looked in and called out, "Want a job? " "Yes" I replied. So I went with him in his wagon down to where they were threshing and he gave me a pitchfork to pitch bundles of grain into the threshing machine. In talking with the men of the threshing crew afterward they remarked that they had never seen a man put so much energy into a job with so little results -- and in looking back on those days, I believe it. I was 52 years old and had never seen a threshing machine, much less worked one, so you can imagine how I felt. However, I did my best and at the end of the day I had three meals and $2.50 in cash or 10 shillings. Needless to say I was tired out and all in, but thankful to the Lord that I had made a start. And I have hardly ever been out of a job since.
Well my hands were blistered and my arms swollen and I could not look for a job on Saturday, but I met a good Samaritan down at the lumber yard who told me he had a room at his house that I was welcome to as they had no use for it and they would provide me with bedding for it also my meals which he refused to take anything for. (I would like to meet that fellow and express my appreciation for what he did for me.) On the following Sunday I met a man from Gravesend, England -- which is about 21 miles east of London. A Mr. Will Smith who had been in Preston about 4 weeks. He had brought his family with him. In England he had been in business for himself and sold out to come to Zion and like myself he was "roughing it". He asked me if I would like to go with him the next day to unload coal from a freight car into the sheds. I willingly accepted the job, $2.00 a day for ten hours. This lasted a week and I began to feel quite rich indeed, and I sent my wife nearly all I had earned.
I trusted in the Lord for my sustenance. The next job I came across was making concrete blocks for a building. I had a couple of days work at $1.75. Next a man asked me if I could drive a team. I said yes, but I had no idea what a team was so I went with him and another man to his house for supper and then to a ranch about 10 miles northwest of Preston. There we stayed for supper and slept in a wagon box and at 5 o'clock the next morning we started off to our destination driving what I had been used to calling a pair of horses.
When we arrived there I was introduced to the foreman and he told me to hitch my team up to the scraper and told how to load and tip it. I had never seen anything like it before and I had not the least idea of what it was all about. However, the foreman came to me and said, "Brother, you don't seem to know how to get along very well with this job, how would you like to trade jobs with this fellow?" "You can work for the Engineers and he can drive your team." "How about pay" I asked. "You will get the same as before, $2.75 a day and three meals for which I paid 75 cents, which for once was not so bad. I kept that job about a month, walking from Preston, 12 miles away on the week-end and back on Sunday. They were good enough not to ask me to work on Sunday as the other fellows did.
This job was the construction of an irrigation project known locally as the "Ditch". It was to supply the N. W. part of Cache Valley with water from the Bear River.
When through with this job the Lord came to my assistance again and the next Monday afalk with him as far as Lewiston, a distance of 9 miles, where there was a sugar factory and the possibility of a winter job. We started out to walk thinking we might pick up a job on the way down. As we were going along Main Street, it dawned on us that we needed to take some lunch along so I remained in town while Will went back for something to eat. While I was waiting for him, the man who had first helped me with a job stopped me and said, "Where are you going?" I told him. "Stay here a minute" and he disappeared in a clothing store and presently he came out again with the proprietor of the store who said, "Do you want to start work?" "Yes." "All right, come in after dinner." The Proprietor, Mr. Joe Marrom was a Jew and as I had quite a few dealings with Jews in London, I was suspicious. So I asked him what about wages. He replied, "We pay a man what he is worth. "This did not seem very good to me but I decided to give it a trial. To my surprise, at the end of a month I got more than I know I was worth to him and a promise of more next month. During my subsequent work with Mr. Marrom I learned to respect him for a fair minded generous hearted man. Well, I stayed there until February and while business was slow he kept me on and laid some of the others off. I received a letter from Brother Will Rook whom I had come out with, telling me of the prospects in Salt Lake and advising me to go there as he could get me a job where I could make much more money, which I needed to get my family out.
After asking my boss's advice and also the bishop of the ward, neither of whom advised me oneasking my boss's advice and also the bishop of the ward, neither of whom advised me one way or another, I quit and went to Salt Lake City. My friend took me to Garfield and introduced me to one of the shift bosses at the Copper Mill. I went to work at 11:30 at night and came off shift at 7:30 a. m. The job I had first was terrible for me, nothing to do but watch four pumps working. How to keep awake was my hardest trial. However, this only lasted two nights as I was put on another job. But one night soon after I got there a flume burst and I got saturated with water and I had to work eight hours in that state. The next night when I went to get up I could hardly move. I was down with rheumatism. I learned also that fatal accidents were of frequent occurrence so I decided to quit.
I then went back to Salt Lake and worked at all kinds of jobs. The one I liked best was working at the Temple grounds. My job was to spread gravel on the walks which are now made of concrete. Eventually my friend, Mr. Will Rook, who had brought me to Salt Lake had a position in a big Real Estate Company. They had a lot of land at Park Valley, Utah and were offering it at a reasonable price. Every Tuesday the salesman took prospective buyers to view the land with the idea of purchasing.
My friend asked me to go as a prospect and possibly I could get a job there. Well, I went one Tuesday morning, by the old Southern Pacific line to Kelton, arriving at Park Valley I was introduced to the foreman and he offered me a job on the experimental farm digging post holes and grubbing sagebrush, etc. I got on very well for a novice and bought 40 acres of land at $12.50 an acre, paying $15.00 a month on it, and my friend, Mr. Rook who sold me the land gave me his commission.
After I had been there about a month I was asked to do the cooking for a week while the cook was on vacation. I told them I was no cook and they said I was, so I took the job temporarily and at the end of the week they asked me to stay on as the regular cook.
I kept on at the job about two months then we had trouble with the foreman. Finding I was easy going, he piled on the work till I could stand it no longer and I told him I would quit. He was quite angry at first, but calmed down, and finding I meant what I said he got some of the other fellows to get me to stay. He said he would not pay me what was coming to me if I did not stay. Well, I told him I would go down to the Hotel and stay till the boss came next Tuesday and charge it up to the company. He wrote out my check for $62.00
This was where the fun began. Driving to the Kelton Station with the outfit and going as large as life to the ticket agent I gave him my check for the ticket. Nothing doing, there was no change to be had anywhere. But a man who had been staying at the Hotel a day or two asked me if I knew anyone at Brigham City. I told him I knew the manager of the Baker Lumber Co. "All right," he said, "I'll pay your fare and you can pay me later." So we went on and arrived at Brigham City. In the evening I got on the street car and stopped at the Baker Lumber Co. and asked for the manager. (This was the same man who had befriended me in Preston, but he had left three months before.) I went back to the gent who had paid my fare and got his address, as I still had not been able to cash the check, and promised to send him the money as soon as I could get the change. This I did through the bishop and I sent him his money. I met this man some time later in Preston and he told me he never expected to see me or the money again, as he did not know me and I did not know him. But I did not feel that way about it and I was grateful and told him so. And I lost no time in returning it to him.
My next anxiety was to get a job in Salt Lake. Jobs were not very plentiful, and I used to go to the presiding Bishops Office every morning, where they had an Employment Office. But nothing doing. I got a few odd jobs around and the last job I got in Salt Lake was painting a fence and raking the leaves from the lawn of a very large house. It was in the fall and the leaves were very thick upon the ground.
Well, I had just finished my job and was preparing to go to my friends home where I was sleeping and a messenger boy came with a telegram asking if I could go back to the clothing store at Preston, Idaho. If there ever was a desire in my heart it was that I could go back to Preston. My wife in England had prayed that I might be led that way and here was a direct answer to our prayers. I omitted to mention that my friend, Will Rook, had told me that he could sell the land I had bought at a profit and I had told him to do so as I had no use for it. One morning to my surprise, his wife one of the best women in the world, came to me. "Brother Last, Will has sold the land." I thought she was joking and I told her I would believe it when I saw the money. "Will you?" she said, and went upstairs to get the money. She gave me three twenty dollar gold pieces. Didn't they look good to me! I'll say they did! This was the first installment and the rest I got in two weeks. I cleared $130.00 on the deal. This I sent immediately to my wife who was saving every penny that she could get hold of, that she and the children could get over here.
Well, the next day I packed my belongings and boarded the train for Preston. I was late and went to the hotel and slept in the same bed that I had occupied the first night I was in Preston about 15 months previously.
I went to work the next morning and found lodgings with my good friend and his good wife, Mr. and Mrs. Will Smith. It was now November and I still lacked sufficient money to bring my whole family out, by about $100. Having no security, I found it difficult to borrow that much money. However, I went to the banker and offered him $10.00 down if he would lend me the $100 for a year, and after some preliminary skirmishing, he agreed.
I told the banker, a Mr. Blood, that I had never been to a bank in my life to borrow any money and he assured me that if I wished to get along in this country I would have to borrow money. He himself had borrowed as high as $30,000. I soon found out that this was the case.
Well do I remember the previous Xmas, if ever there was a disconsolate and blue man it was me, as I did not seem to have a friend in the world, and my wife and family 7,000 miles away. It seemed at times as if I would never see them again. It being Xmas and everywhere families were enjoying the Xmas spirit, I missed my family more than ever. I had become discouraged and my letters to my wife reflected my discouragement. I had told her that if I did not get them out by next Xmas I would return to England. My wife immediately wrote back and told me that I must not think of coming back at all because all our bridges had been burned behind us. I had given up my job and it would be impossible for me to start over again in England. She told me to look ahead -- that she was ready to do anything or suffer any hardship so that our family would be able to settle in America.
Well, they were not here by the next Xmas but they celebrated Xmas Day on the boat on the way over. They arrived on the 8th of January 1912 at Preston, Idaho. Brother Skidmore, a good neighbor, hitched up his team to a sleigh and we met the family at the depot. As may be supposed, they were very tired after 18 days of traveling since they had sold out what remained of the furniture in London and left. Alod they were all here and the dream of two years ago, that then seemed impossible, by the goodness and mercy of God had been accomplished.
Needless to say we expressed our thanks to our Heavenly Father in our evening prayers that night.
I went to a doctor and he prescribed a treatment for Dorothy' s ear and she seemed to be better -- but the next day, to our surprise, another doctor came and told us he would have to put us in quarantine for smallpox. There was no sign or symptoms of smallpox, but evidently some busy body had made a fuss and became unduly alarmed for fear we might bringntly some busy body had made a fuss and became unduly alarmed for fear we might bring in some epidemic disease and brought some pressure to bear on the quarantine officer. Anyway, the flag went up over our door and my employer, Mr. Marrom thought it would look better if I stayed at home a few days as people would talk.
After three days of quarantine during which time I made a great deal of fuss, I obtained the necessary ingredients to fumigate the house. I remember going to the drug store and buying formaldehyde and the potash for $1.75, which in England would have cost me about 25 cents. I told the drugstore man that and he gave me to understand that I was not in England now and I told him I knew it, just a slight difference between 25 cents and $1.75. I noticed quite a difference in the cost of living here and in England, but considering the difference in wages, we could not complain.
The people in Preston were very kind to us, they tried in every way to make us feel at home in the new environment. They had a party in which each person brought something we needed. We lived in a little red brick house in the Fourth Ward with another family by the name of Peterson, who was a jeweler.
After my family had been here about three months, things became dull and my boss asked me to lay off work until things began to pick up. I went out and met a man by the name of Joe McCann who I had known as a missionary in England and he had returned and was trying to get started in the feed and grain business in Preston. When I told him my troubles he offered me a job with him. I was very awkward handling the sacks of grain, but Joe was very kind about it. He told me to just stay in the front part of the store and meet the customers and make myself generally useful and that meant a great deal to him and that I would work for him for half a day, that would leave me the rest of the day to look around for another job, and I could feel free to take it anytime I wished. He gave me $1.00 a day which I felt was better than loafing around and getting blue.
I was upbraided by a fellow who was unemployed and was loafing around, for working for such a miserable wage as I was getting, because it would make it difficult for others to get the wage that they were entitled to. I have always felt that it was better to take what one could get and make the best of it until something better came along and I have always tried to teach my children the same doctrine, and something better did come along.
I forgot to mention that about a week after we got out of quarantine, the school principal, Mr. Willis Smith called me up and asked me why my children were not in school. I felt somewhat indignant at the way we had been quarantined, and told him I would keep my children out of school as long as I pleased, for when the doctor could not discriminate between ear-ache and smallpox, it was time to take things into my own hands. However, he was a very fine and considerate gentleman and all was soon righted and our children started in the Old Central School in February and our eldest boy, Charlie, graduated from the eighth grade that spring.
After going around and doing odd jobs for a few days, I went to my old boss, Joe Marrom, proprietor of the Eagle Clothing Co., and he asked me if I would come back again, which I did the very next day. I worked for him 7 years, the last two were in a branch store he opened in Lewiston, Utah -- about 9 miles south of Preston. This store was under the management of Mr. Verne Fairbanks, but the business was not large enough for two men and a woman, so I was asked to resign and go back to Preston, if I wished, but I did not want to.
As soon as I knew I had to resign, I asked a neighboring merchant, a Mr. Morris Swinyard, who also had emigrated from England a few years before, if there was an opening in his business and he said, "Yes," "when are you leaving?" "Next Wednesday," I said. "Then come in Thursday morning." But here is where the Lord helps those who try to help themselves. There was a man by the name of Fred Elwood who owned a grocery store about a block away who had been trying to sell his business for some time. One morning he came into the store where 1 was working and said "Brother Last, I want you to have my store." I told him that I had no money to purchase and I knew very little about the grocery business and that I had promised to go to work for Mr. Swinyard. But he insisted and showed me the books and proved to me that he had a nice little business and he was anxious to get out of it for other reasons. Well, after a couple of hours of consideration during which time he said he could make arrangements for payments to which I agreed, I took possession on June 1, 1917 and the time of this writing is October 1929. At the age of 71, I am still running the store and enjoying good health. We have had some experiences that were interesting. I recall in the spring of 1916 we were offered a relinquishment of 320 acres of land near Blackfoot, Idaho by a Mr. Dames of Preston, Idaho through his son, Newel; who was trying to follow in his father's footsteps as a Real Estate Agent. They assured us it was perfectly legitimate. We thought it over and inasmuch as our eldest boy Charlie was graduating from the Oneida Academy ( now Preston High School) that spring, it would be a good opportunity for the boys to get a start on the land. My old friend, Will Smith, of Preston and myself formed a partnership and paid $200 for the relinquishment and bought a team of horses, a set of harnesses, hand plow, tent and provisions and as soon as school was out at spring, the boys went up with this outfit, 150 miles to the North, to the desolate country west of Shelley, Idaho, known as Cederchrest.
When a man came and asked them who they were and what they were doing there, they told him they were taking up a relinquishment and intended to work it the necessary three years that it took to prove up on it. "This land is mine." he said. But the boys would not give up, but telegraphed as soon as they could get to the nearest office, which was some 25 miles away, to warn us not to pay anymore on the place until we had settled the business.
We decided to go up and investigate, which we did on the Fourth of July. The boys met us with the outfit and we stayed with them overnight, then went to the City of Blackfoot and looked at the records in the Land Office. We found that we had been taken in. The boys stayed there all summer and had a very worthwhile experience, being employed by a Mr. Alvin Hales, who is now Chiropractor in Logan. We eventually received our money back from Brother Dames, who was not entirely responsible, but the fault lay with others who thought it would be smart to take in some greenhorns.
I believe this experience rather sickened our boys for farming. Our eldest was quite interested in carpentering and obtained quite a little work in that line and when work became scarce in the winter time, he worked in the Sugar ed his draft number when the World War came along and the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, but he joined the Student's Army Training Corps and after passing his tests in August, was signed up with a machine gun outfit and was ready to be shipped to Camp Oglethorpe in Georgia, when the whole camp was quarantined with influenza. Many of the boys in the camp died of the dread epidemic. He was discharged from the army in December and was home in time for Christmas. That summer the boys worked around in the beet fields and where ever they could find work, helping at the store whenever they could. Our business was prosperous.
While I was working for the Eagle Clothing Co., at Lewiston, we rented a house from Joe Allen, it was the first house north of town. It had a very large piece of ground and the land was sandy and easily worked.
While at Preston, we moved around the corner east and north from where we were, to a home owned by Fred Sant who also worked at the Eagle Clothing Company. This was a nicer house and we had it to ourselves. It had a large lot and we raised a very niceer house and we had it to ourselves. It had a large lot and we raised a very nice garden. We had some very peculiar ideas about gardening, our only previous experience was in the little cramped up back lots in London. We took the seed package instructions quite seriously and when they said to plant the seeds in hills, we planted them in hills and we didn't mean maybe. We found out a lot of things that first year and what we lacked in experience, we made up for in enthusiasm. To be suddenly transplanted from the crowded conditions that we had in London to the wide open spaces of the West with its sunshine, mountains, beautiful canyons, streams and the hospitable and friendly people, who, though busily engaged in their own affairs, were still wonderful to us and we have always been appreciative of these blessings which have come to us as a result of our parent's faith, foresight and courage. Now back to Dad's story. [Above written by son Charles.]
Bill Stocks, who ran a livery stable in town, bought the house we were living in and so we had to move into a house owned by a Mr. Baker in the southwest part of town, west of Emil Larsen's old home. It was a very cold winter and the house was poorly constructed and drafty. Our eldest boy and his friend, Bill Bradbury, of another English family in Preston, slept up in the loft and worked in the sugar factory that winter.
The younger children attended the grammar grade schools and the North Cache High School at Richmond. In the following 1917 spring the boys had a beet contract and the eldest was working on the construction of the new Cornish Sugar Factory until the fall when they all returned to school.
We moved into the Clem Rawlins home, which was the first really decent home we had ever lived in, with open fireplace, modern kitchen and bathroom, which we thoroughly enjoyed as long as we stayed there, when it too was sold.
Our next move was to an old superannuated old saloon which was the only empty habitation of any kind available. It was very unpleasant and odorous place, consisting of one room which was divided up into apartments by the furniture arrangement and some curtains. There was nothing else to do but to build on the lot that I had purchased. Our oldest boy drew up some plans and with the help of Ollie Bell, a local handy man, the house was built by late summer and the boy enlisted in the army. It was a very nice bungalow and we felt very blessed.
I have omitted one job I had at the Ogden Sugar Factory, I worked 10 hours a day, but I did not object to the work -- but, instead, the board and lodging -- so after a few days I quit. It is certainly peculiar that I have never had to work on the Sabbath. I have always believed that a man would earn enough to live on by working six days a week and that it was not necessary to work on Sunday, something has always turned up to prevent me from working on that day. When I was working out at Park Valley for the Pacific Land and Water Company, I was allowed to do all the cooking necessary on Saturday and just get two meals for Sunday. Taking everything into consideration, I think we have been wonderfully blessed.
I should mention here that my wife developed convulsive seizures brought on as the result of a fall on icy pavements and at times they became very severe. Sometimes she had as many as five or six a night. They prostrated her so that it took her several days to recover from the effects enough to be able to walk. She partially lost her memory and we were afraid she would lose her mind. At one of the Benson Stake Quarterly Conferences held at Richmond, one of the Apostles being in attendance kindly consented to administer to her and she gradually got better and is now enjoying good health and the condition completely cured for which we are all grateful to the Lord.
I am reminded that each of my wives bore me 10 children and when we left the old country there were seven of my first wife's children living, six of them were married. Two of my boys died since we left, one from tuberculosis and the other was lost in the sinking of a hospital ship in the English Channel during the first world war. At the time of this writing, I have 12 sons and daughters living and 23 grandchildren. One child, a boy named Preston, died at Preston, Idaho, and another child died shortly after birth in Lewiston in 1917.
This history was written by Dad at Lewiston in 1929 on a notebook but was never brought up to date so I am trying to piece it together during the Xmas holidays, December 1944, with the idea in mind of all of the brothers and sisters filling in the mistakes and blank spaces. [Charles Last.]
Charley came home from his mission to the British Isles in 1923, went back to school, married Mildred Leavitt and moved to Garland, Utah where he taught at the Bear River High School and is still teaching there.
The depression following the collapse of the stock market in November 1929 caught Dad along with many others with debts that could not be paid. Dad had gone into debt for his store, stock, two homes and a pick-up truck. While business was booming due to war conditions, no one had any idea but that business was going to continue to go good. If they had had just a few years everything would have been all right. People began to hold on to their money, prices dropped, sales fell off and debts could not be paid. The new home, the store and the stock were all foreclosed, all that remained was the old home that Dad had bought next door.
About this time Dave married Rose Hendricks and went to work for his father-in-law; Tom, Jimmy, Dad and Mother moved into the old house and kept the business going as best they could. George had married Uneta Stocks and was working for Theurers in Richmond. Frank was working for Theurers in the Lewiston Branch. Tommy was still single, Dorothy was Mrs. Aerial Rawlins and living with her in-laws in Lewiston. Jimmie married Velma Patterson of Ogden and is now living in North Powder, Oregon. Tommy is still single and working in Seattle, Washington in a ship building plant.
About this time Mother had become alarmed at a swelling on her breast and she and Dorothy went to Logan to the Doctor for an examination. At once the doctor pronounced it as cancer. Mother had known it for some time but because of Dad's financial condition had kept it to herself. By this time the dreadful disease had spread all over her body from her neck down through to her diaphragm -- to places where the surgeon's knife could not go without fatal results - yet Budges advised an operation which was carried through without success. In spite of the operation mother lived for another 18 months. Dad and Tommy took care of mother. Jimmy having gone up to Parma, Idaho to work. They did all they could for mother who, in spite of the suffering was characteristically cheerful even after one night when the lady who was so kind in helping take care of mother called us to her bedside and told us that all indications showed that she was breathing her last. She rallied and told us that Frank had just left Cornish and would soon be there and by the time Frank came she was talking to us. She laughed and joked the rest of the day. She told us not to pray for her to stay, she wanted to go, she had been on the other side and it was beautiful. She had seen her friends and relatives on the other side. Mother passed away on November 3, 1938.
Dad had rented a small store which he and Tommy operated. He used to say, "I came here with nothing and I still have it." In spite of his reverses and losses he was cheerful when people all around were discouraged with their financial troubles -- who still had a great deal more than Dad ever had. His cheerful spirit became a by-word with many people, even as far away as this valley, people have stopped me and told how this brave little old man who had suffered far more than they could still stick his chin out and be cheerful. Dad never complained about any of his troubles and always was thankful just before retiring he would kneel down by his bed, his hands clasped before h just before retiring he would kneel down by his bed, his hands clasped before him, he would say his prayers utterly unconscious of anything going on around him. And at family prayers it always seemed he was actually talking to God, face to face.
Soon after mother's death, Dad being now 80 years old, his poor Legs gradually gave way and he finally had to close up his little store. He then lived with each of us in turn, as much as possible with Tommy who by now was in war work up in Seattle, Washington. With Dave and Rose, Dorothy and Aerial Rawlins at White Bluffs, George and Uneta at Gunnison, Frank and Bessie at Richmond and ourselves, Charlie and Mildred at Garland. Finally Dad became so helpless that it became necessary to find a home for him where he could be taken care of. He stayed with a Mrs. Peteriet of Brigham City and then with Mr. and Mrs. Ericsen of Preston, Idaho -- right back where he started from. He had the best of care at all times and all shared in the time and expense by paying to Frank an amount every month.
Father finally passed away quietly on the 26th of September 1944 at the age of 86. Many of his old friends were at his funeral -- Brother Joe McCann, Will Smith, William Haukes, Soren Petersen and many others to bid their old friend goodbye. All the members of his family in this country were able to attend his funeral.
FUNERAL SERVICES FOR MR. WALTER G. D. LAST
THE FUNERAL WAS HELD IN THE LEWISTON 1ST WARD CHAPEL
SEPTEMBER 30, 1944
BISHOP VICTOR WADDOUPS OFFICIATING
Hymn, Lewiston 1st Ward Choir "Come, Come Ye Saints"
- Prayer Merle Hyer
- Organ Solo Marva Tibbetts
- "Lost Chord"
- "Perfect Day"
- Speakers: James Taggart
- Soren Petersen
- William Smith
- Piano Solo Mrs. Traveler
- Choir "I Lay Me Softly Down to Sleep"
- Benediction Sylvan Jessop
- INTERNMENT At Lewiston City Cemetery
- DEDICATION OF GRAVE -- Ray I. Pond
- PALLBEARERS, High Priest Quorum of Lewiston 1st Ward
- PRAYER AT THE HOME OF BROTHER WM. HAWKES OF SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH
MY CONTRIBUTION OF DAD'S HISTORY
Dorothy Last Rawlins
Dear Old Dad:
Well, I've read your history Dad, it thrilled me and I'm proud and I feel as I did at your funeral, that there is nothing to mourn at your passing except that we won't have you before us as a living example of a man with courage, determination and the strength of character to live up to the principles he believed in.
I am guilty along with the others of thinking you were "tight", yet when I read how hard you worked and how you deprived yourself of every luxury, just so you could bring us to America - I am ashamed for having ever thought such a thing. I remember once you went against your principles and bought me a 'spring coat' just because you thought I wanted it, although you had always believed in Spring to be a time to take a coat off, not to put one on. You bought me a cedar chest when you really couldn't afford it. Yes, Dad, if you were ever stingy it was with yourself and not us - just so you could bring more pleasure to those you loved.
Remember the surrey we bought with fringe all around it and with Kit and Babe harnessed on the front? We really thought we had the world by the tail - and when you let me drive -- well, I never have had such a thrill!
I remember how in England Frank and George argued about their Daddy. George being older remembered you weren't a big Daddy, but Frank insisted that you were as big as the policeman outside the house. I remember having to leave England to come out to you. What a lot of courage Mother must have had! I remember taking the candy decorations off the Christmas tree to be placed in a box and brought with us to Zion -- one had a very big bite out of it too.
We were certainly blessed to have a father and mother who took care of us spiritually, temporally and did everything that good parents will do for their families.
I remember how spry you were and how everyone remarked that Brother Last wasn't a day older than when they first saw him. You did hold up remarkable well until after Mother died and not until then did you realize that you were an old man. Although life had lost a lot of its zest for you, you still had lots of fun.
Remember "Pro Musica" at White Bluffs where you entertained with your songs and brought down the house? And the birthday party we had at Luella' s for your 83rd birthday, when Mable Rawlins sang and danced one of your favorites, "The Honey Suckle and the Bee?" Yes, you enjoyed life until your tired old body was completely worn out.
I believe you are still enjoying and giving joy as you always did. Thank you, Dad, for writing this history and preserving for us something of your undomitable spirit.
Yes, Frank, your Daddy was a big man.-
I thought of a few items that should be included in this history. Father was born August 3rd 1858 in Ipswich, Suffolk, England and died: September 26, 1944 in Preston, Idaho. U. S. A.
This was written when he was past seventy years of age, in between customers as he managed his little Grocery Store in Lewiston, Utah.
After he was gone Charles copied it and brought it up to date. We were all given copies of it and it should be an inspiration to each of us.
Here I will list the children who came over with Mother when we came to join our Father:
Charles Thirteen years of age
Thomas Nine years old
Dorothy Seven years
George About four
Frank Just fourteen months younger than George
David Born after we came to America in Preston, Idaho
James was born in Lewiston, Utah. (Well do I remember because I had been dreaming about having a little sister and was heartbroken when the baby was another boy. However, I soon learned to love him and would not have exchanged him for anything in the world).
(1) On page four -- I believe the four children Father talks about being baptized were Claude and Daisy from Father's first family and Charles and Thomas. I was not old enough for that event until we were in America. I was baptized in Preston, Idaho, in Saul Hales bathtub.
(2) On page ten Charles has added a few thoughts here and then returned us to Dad's story.
(3) On page eleven--- Charles again.