A Brief History of My Grandfather, William Benjamin Frost
Contributor: keliemerson Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
“A Brief History of My Grandfather, William Benjamin Frost”
(The main facts and much of this history was gleaned from a biography he had in his own book. I gleaned them and wrote this history, adding some of my own feelings. – Marie Thomas Hill).
(I obtained this record from my mother, Louise Frost Larson’s, Book of Remembrance. She was also a granddaughter of William Benjamin Frost. –Stephanie Larson Ellinger)
John Henry Frost, a pioneer from England, who had come to Utah at the young age of 16 in company with his sister, Georgianna and his maternal grandmother, Mary Hiskens, met and married a young pioneer girl, Mary Isaac, who had come from their native Wales with her parents, Benjamin Isaac and Phoebe Davis Isaac.
John Henry and Mary were married in Spanish Fork by Bishop Albert K. Thurber. They later went to the old Endowment House in Salt Lake City and were sealed for Eternity on the 28 January 1869. Their home was a humble home – a dugout in the side of the hill on Center Street and Third East – that being the boundary of the town at the time. It was a one room home, lined with adobes, with a lath and plaster ceiling, and a wood floor. A large fireplace was in one end, which served for heating and for cooking. Later on, one at a time, the two lumber rooms were built on the ground level and a new cook stove was added. The fireplace was still used for heat and enjoyment.
It was in this humble home that 10 children were born to this good couple. Their fourth child, a son named William Benjamin, was my grandfather. He was born on a Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. with the assistance of “Grandma Archibald”, a prominent midwife of the community on 31 January 1870. When he was four weeks old, 3 March 1870, he received his name and a blessing from Brother James Robertson.
Home life in this humble abode was anything but luxurious, yet it was a very happy home where much love and understanding was exhibited. The good mother was a good homemaker and kept her home neat and clean. John Henry Frost was a one armed man, having lost his left arm at the elbow at the young age of 20, when it was caught in a belt on a threshing machine. This was a handicap for him, and yet he never despaired but created the best home he could for his family. There was always food in their home, however there many times the children were without shoes. But there was a good wholesome environment there, and the abundance of love seemed to make up for the comforts that were missing.
As very small children they were taught the value of prayer in their lives, and were taught to pray morning and night. When problems arose, or when sickness came, the first thought was to call in the Elders. Doctors and medicine were not a part of their way of life. Faith in the blessings of the Priesthood was their main stay. The main medicine was a small glass of sage tea each morning for a tonic.
At the young age of four, young William experienced administration in his behalf. He crawled upon the thatched roof of a neighbor’s stable and fell off on his head. He came to when the Elders had their hands on his head and were giving him a blessing. Thus his testimony began to grow at a very young age. His brother, Charles, young than he, was very susceptible to bronchial croup. At one time, he was choking so badly he was turning dark. The father, with the assistance of two Elders, blessed him, and he became well immediately.
This good father spent as much time with his children as possible. Grandpa remembered as a very small child going with him in the covered wagon, drawn by two oxen, Pat and Mulley, on trip up Little Diamond Fork to pick wild berries that were so plentiful at that time. The trip would take two to three days. At just 6 0r 7 he recalled going with him to the saw mill in Dairy Fork in the main canyon to haul lumber. They also went to the coal mines in Pleasant Valley through Starvation Canyon to haul coal. This trip always took them four days- spending three nights in the mountain, sleeping under the stars, and listening to the sounds of nature. On these trips the good father would tell them faith promoting stories of how the Lord was watching over them, whether out of doors in the canyon or at home in their beds. Somehow they were never afraid, knowing everything was alright because their father was there, and the Lord was watching over them.
His closest playmates were the children closest to his home, Edward M. and Robert. T. Banks, and Albert and David Dimmick. When he contracted the measles at the age of five, his little friends, the Banks boys, came to play. His mother sent them back home telling them that he had the measles. Minutes later they returned with their mother. She brought them to play so they too would get the measles. She thought it was a good time for them to have to have them. Of course young Will thought this was okay as he had someone to play with all the time he was confined. He had the mumps on one side when he was seven; however, he never had them on the opposite side until he was 24. His ninth year brought him the whooping cough.
The Frost children found the location of their home interesting. As has been stated, they were on the east boundary of the town. Center Street – the road going by was then what would be classified as the main highway. Just a bit east of their home was where the road forked, one road going north to Springville and the area north of here, and one going southeast up the canyon. Near the fork was a relief station where the stages could change horses to continue their journey. The children delighted in seeing the stages come swiftly down the steep hill – four horses- the driver high on his seat, with all four lines in his hands. This canyon road was the trail the Spanish explorer, Father Escalante, entered the valley by. Along with this and the fork in the road was where the name of the town was derived from – Spanish Fork.
When young Will was 8 years old, he and his brother John, just older than he, were baptized the same day-9 June 1878. He was baptized in the Millrace just east of the old Mill by Brother George G. Hales, and was confirmed the same day at the water’s edge by Brother Thomas C. Martell.
His grandma Isaac lived on the corner of main and third south (Mrs. Ben Isaac still lives there). The children made daily trips to their Grandma’s taking the cows to pasture and picking hers up on the way. On these trips to his grandma’s he experienced watching some of the growth of the community. The old City Hall which stood on the park for so long was started in 1874. The foundation was made of large rock from the Utah Lake area. Young Will always accompanied his father on these hauling trips, and he enjoyed talking to the men who were working on the construction of the building. Also on the way to Grandma’s he would stop at the old Darger home, Center and first east (I remember this old home so well) a large two story adobe house, and on the second floor they raised silk worms. He would stop and help Mary Darger feed the mulberry leaves and watch the worms spin their cocoons.
There was also a colored family that lived on the way to his Grandma’s- two women, a man, and a boy. The boy played the flute and banjo very well, and young Will often stopped to visit and listen to him play.
Across from his Grandma’s where the old high school was built there was at that time a molasses factory. He delighted in visiting here. The young people would often take a fry pan and get the “skimming” and then make molasses taffy over a bonfire. They loved this.
There was an old Blacksmith shop on 4th South on the banks of the Millrace – Henry Humble was the village smithy and young Will liked to visit him. The old Mill was farther east on the banks of the millrace, and this was another favorite spot.
And near their home was a leather tannery, just a block North – a very interesting place for young boys. And then last, but not least, at his own home his father was a cabinet maker- and though he was one armed he built many of the pieces of furniture and many homes in the community at the time, in the 1870’s, contained pieces of furniture and cabinets of his creation.
Then there was his Uncle Joe Tuckett who lived in Springville and was a fruit and vegetable vendor, and to stock his produce he would go from house to house and purchase any surplus that could be found and re-sell it. When he made the rounds in Spanish Fork, young Will would accompany him to run in and out of the houses. It was a special treat for him because he became acquainted with many people in town he would not have otherwise. His Uncle Joe made trips as far as Park City and Cottonwood Canyon but he did not allow the boys to go with him though they would have liked to very much.
John Henry Frost built a summer home in Spanish Fork canyon a few miles east of the old Castilla resort. Several summers were spent at the summer home herding and milking cows, the milk being used to make butter and cheese to sell. They milked 15-20 cows daily, and the boys, young as they were, became very skilled milkers. The time spent in the canyon held many interesting experiences. They loved it there though it meant lots of hard work. There were roaming Indians, though they gave them no trouble. There was frightening thunder and lightning storms that brought cloud bursts that would bring large boulders rolling down the mountains.
It was while they were at the canyon home that the younger Charles, then very small, got in the vegetable garden and ate so many green peas that it caused him to go into convulsions. No help being available, their father administered to him alone, and he was healed instantly.
At home young Will also sewed carpet rages on the old machine to help his mother. In the year 1878, 20 yards of carpet was made and given to “Grandma Archibald” for her services as their doctor woman. She was an important part of the early community and delivered countless babies, and also assisted when illness or problems came along.
Religion was uppermost in the Frost home. There was always morning and evening prayers, and the children attended Primary and Sunday School regularly. They attended their meetings as a family. Their Fast Meeting was held on the first Thursday of the month at 10:00 a.m. in the old Central Meeting House on the west side of Main Street between First and Second North streets. Young Will always loved these meetings.
Their wagon and oxen were their only means of travel, also a great means in their making their livelihood, as has been mentioned, and Brother Frost did much hauling with his team and wagon. He also plowed for others with this plow and oxen and young Will always walked along the side of them with a willow to keep them in proper line and to help turn them at the end of the rows. This was a great help to his father. They plowed much of the area covered with sage brush east of the community so it could be farmed and the town extended. Each night they would fill their wagon with the large brush and take it home and it provided much of their fire wood. At that time they called it Danish Cedar.
During the cold war of 1880 or 1881, one of the oxen died. They sold or traded the other and got a team of horses and a riding pony. This ended much of the hauling. They decided that their trips to Salt Lake were no longer quicker with the horses than with the oxen.
His formal schooling began in a two room adobe home on the corner of First South and Second East where Mrs. James Woodward taught them in her home. They wrote on a slate with a slate pencil. He used a slate in his schooling until his sixth grade, then the children were required to buy their own pencils and paper, and thus it was often scarce. After two years at Mrs. Woodward’s, he went to a one room home on the corner of First South and First East where Miss Mary Ann McClain taught him. They later moved into a large lumber building on Main Street which had been a grocery store. Next he attended the little white school on the corner of Main and Center known as the Thurber School. It was later replaced with the eight-room Thurber School which still stands. James G. Higginson was the teacher at the little white school. He was a good teacher, but very strict, and used the hickory stick to discipline. The children’s schooling had to be paid for privately, and young Will was given the opportunity to do janitor work at the school to pay for his schooling. Hyrum F. Thomas was his fifth grade teacher at what was known as the Young Men’s Academy located on Second North in the middle of the block. Mr. Thomas allowed him to do garden work to pay for his schooling this year. There was also the Wilson School right on the corner near the little white school. He attended this school for a period also. Then for a time he attended the Brimhall School on 4th North where George H. Brimhall taught him. He finished the eighth grade of formal education that was available at that time, paying for much of it himself. He was a good student, and especially excelled in math.
His father served as the sexton the last few years of his life, and Will always helped him in digging the graves. The tools all had to be hauled back and forth as there was no storage place at the cemetery. Occasionally situations necessitated him to dig the graved alone – a tremendous task by hand for a young boy of 11 or 12.
John Henry Frost died 15 May 1883, leaving his wife with 9 children (one having died prior to him) under 17 years of age with no other income other than daily labors could supply. Young Will was then just 13 years of age, and being one of the eldest, a great load fell upon him.
At the age of 14, prior to receiving the Aaronic Priesthood, the boys were required to be re-baptized. Therefore, along with 7 other boys, he was baptized again, in the Millrace, 3 April 1884 by A.R.M. Beck and confirmed by Lorenzo Argyle. The following day, 4 April 1884, he was ordained a Deacon by James Boyack and assigned a district to visit and gather fast offerings. His district was the six blocks between Main and Third East and Center and Second North Streets – comprising 20 families. The collections were made monthly and were to be delivered to Joshua Brookbank before 10:00 a.m. on Fast Day. He fulfilled this assignment faithfully for five years until he was ordained a Teacher, 15 September 1889, by John Robertson. Then he was assigned to be a Ward teacher with John. W. Robertson and Moses B. Clay.
Following the death of his father, things became very difficult and the boys had to accept work wherever they could get it. At 14, he went to work for John S. Thomas on his farm in Palmyra. He worked here for the greater part of 2 years. It was soon after he went there that he had an experience that strengthened his testimony and his strong belief in prayer. He slept in a tent out under some trees as the Thomas home was just one large room. One morning he awoke too ill to get out of bed. Each time he would try to get up he would fall back on the bed again. No one came to check on him. Many emotional thoughts ran through his mind. He missed his father so very much. He recalled how had had always taught him “when in need ask in faith and he would receive”. He slipped from his bed on his knees and asked for help, stating in his childish way that he was all alone and needed help. As he prayed, it seemed it was answered almost immediately. He stood up well, clothed himself, and walked into the house just as they were sitting down to dinner. He said of this experience, “I had a feeling in my soul that comes only from one source that was a witness to me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God does hear and answer prayer.” As I learned of this experience myself, I thought to myself, “Why didn’t someone check on him before dinner time?” Then I realized that God wanted this young man to know that even though his father had been taken from him, there was a source of help and strength available whenever he had need of it.
Just a year later, in 1885, he was up Payson Canyon where they were getting slabs from the saw mill. They had loaded the wood and were ready to settle down for the night. Severe pain developed in his hand and it was impossible for sleep to come. The pains were so severe they were frightening. He arose and walked to a stump of a tree, and there he knelt down and earnestly prayed for relief. It came while he was still on his knees, and readily he became so sleepy that he could barely make it back to his bed. He was now in his 15th year, a widowed mother, six brothers and sisters younger than he, but with a firm assurance that if he took his problems to his Father in Heaven they would be solved.
He went to work for Sylvester Bradford, lived in their home, and was treated and taught as one of their own. He lived with them for a period of three years. He loved the Bradford’s very much. Sister Mary Bradford was just like a second mother to him. She counseled with him on any subject anytime he desired her opinion.
At the young age of 16, he was courting some of his school chums, then another young girl, Mary Christine Larsen, came into his life, and somehow he just couldn’t get her out of his mind. Somehow he felt he had known her long ago. He was counseled by Sister Bradford to make choosing his mate a matter of faith and prayer, this he did and suddenly he knew all would be well. Grandpa always felt that his courtship with Grandma was a continuation of one from our pre-existent life.
In spite of the hard times the young people still found time for recreation. He played all the games of childhood when he was small, and through his teens he enjoyed the recreation of teen years – skating, candy pulls, sledding, dancing, and playing ball. In his late teens and early 20’s he was captain of the R.M.B. baseball team (Rocky Mountain Boys). Small as he was, he was the catcher on the team with Chris Ferguson as pitcher, Elias Lewie Jr. as first base, Brigham Smith as second base, Charles Evans as third base, A.R. Creer as short stop, John Thomas, John F. Beck, and Joseph Chapple Jr. as fielders. Their suits were red shirts with white letters, blue knee trousers, and white socks. Because they were the leading team in the area, they were nicknamed the “Rocky Mountain Bullies”.
In the fall of 1889 he went to Salt Lake City to work for the Utah Central Railroad Co. in the freight depot, saving every cent he could so he could prepare to marry.
He was ordained an Elder 11 January 1891 by Brother George W. Wilkins, and after three years of courtship William B. Frost married Mary Christine Larsen in the Manti Temple, 28 January 1891. They were married by Anthon E. Lund, and it was witnessed by J.L. Bench and N.C. Christensen.
They began their new life together in one room of the three room adobe house that had been built for his mother just west of her dugout home. (This home is still standing). They set up housekeeping with a cook stove, table and four chairs, a wash stand, looking glass, and a bed. He says there was no room for anything else, but they thought they were very cozy, and most important of all they were very happy. The first year of marriage he ran a farm for Sylvester Bradford. They began getting material together to build a home of their own.
On 24 January 1892 he was ordained a Seventy by John T. Hales under the direction of President C.D. Fjeldsted of the First Seven Presidents of the Seventies and was told that the call of a Seventy was to carry the gospel to the people of the world on a moment’s call. He felt the responsibility keenly and his circumstances worried him- just being married a year, starting on a family, and no income – only daily labor. Yet he knew if his desire was great enough he would find a way if things turned out that way.
The following month their first child was born, 27 February 1892. They named her Mary Louise (my mother). Her arrival brought much joy into their lives.
They began building their own home about 20 rods west of his mother’s place. They worked together hauling rock from the canyon, lime from the kiln in Provo, sand and clay from their natural deposits. His Uncle Ben Isaac helped them with the masonry work, also some of the carpenter work. They really appreciated his help. The adobes were made by Harold B. Johnson on the canyon road east of town. They hauled them together and tended mason while they were laid all the way. By November they had two rooms built, and though the plaster was none too dry, they moved into their own home. Little by little they continued to build, working together, scratching, digging, until they finally had a house of seven rooms.
Their second child, Hannah Georganna, was born 28 January 1894 (their third anniversary). Their third child, Jennie, was born 15 July 1896, but sorrow came into their home when they buried her 5 months later. She died 28 December 1896.
During these first years of marriage, Grandpa worked wherever he could to earn their livelihood. Sometimes the income was very little, even for that day. In 1893 he worked at the Chisholm & Gardner Saw Mill up on White River to help pay for the lumber that was used in building their home. During the winter of 1893 and 1894 he went out to Castle Valley with William F. Pace and his sheep. The spring of 1894, he lambed a bunch of ewes for Scott Elliott on Willow Creek. The winter of 1894 and 1895, he went with his brother in law, Alfred Taylor, out on the Green River with his sheep. Following that he worked on the Gardner and Bradford ditch to take water out of White River left hand fork and bring it over Soldier Summit into the head waters of Soldier Fork. All this work away took him away from home a great deal leaving grandma on her own with the little ones. The bigger part of 1897 was put on the First Ward Church in tending mason. This chapel was built across the street from his home. That winter he worked at the P.S. Bradford Project in Water Canyon east of Salem. During 1898, he was appointed night policeman under Marshall Alma Andrus. It was the days of prohibition and there were five saloons on Main Street, all with back entrances, and enforcement of the law was not an easy task. Grandpa was always a small man, but he was always able to carry out his assigned duties very well. In 1900 he was appointed City Sexton, still serving as night policeman. This continued until he went on his mission.
Their first son, William Henry, was born 23 October 1897. Their second son, Larsen, arrived 27 January 1900, and their third son, John Isaac, was born 18 October 1902 – making 5 living children in their home.
Working day and night, his family growing, he managed to pay all his debts and obligations. On the 30 November 1903, he received a letter from the First Council of Seventy, signed by Seymour B. Young. It stated that his name had been sent in stating “that he was morally, spiritually, physically, educationally, and financially qualified for the work of the ministry.” They all seemed okay but the financial part. There wasn’t a spare dollar in the house! He answered the letter stating honestly his situation. The second letter came from President Young and in part said, “Very often a Seventy will in the end receive a blessing much more commensurate with the sacrifice required. We would remind you in this connection, that the special calling of a Seventy is to be a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ, and to preach the Gospel in all the world.”
He sent his reply and received his mission call 21 December 1903 and was instructed to report to the Temple Annex, 19 January 1904. He reported at the Annex and was set apart under the hands of President Joseph F. Smith. After being set apart, he received a missionary blessing from J. Golden Kimball.
Leaving his wife and five children at home, he left Salt Lake City 20 January 1904 and arrived at Atlanta, Georgia – Mission Headquarters, on Sunday 24 January 1904 at 7:00 a.m. He attended Sunday School at 9:00 a.m. and at 7:00 p.m. went to Sacrament Meeting where he and two other new Elder from Utah were the speakers. He filled a 22 month mission; had several companions, most of them from different places in Utah, one from Arizona, one from Idaho. He served as a counselor to a President Whiting for the Georgia Conference.
I will quote from just one of the many, many faith promoting incidents he recorded while on his mission. “In the mission field our districts were bordered and we were instructed to stay within our boundaries. At this particular place our border was the Oconee River. We were staying with a family of members that lived near the east bank, yet we had to cross the river to get our mail. One day while picking up our mail, we met a family that wanted us to come and hold a cottage meeting in their home. We returned to where we were staying, and I hesitated greatly about the request because it was out of our district. Brother Brooks, the family we were staying with, insisted that we go, and said that he and his entire family would accompany us. We finally agreed. We had to cross the river by ferry boat, and we found that it was loose from the cable and had to be guided by hand with long poles. We crossed the river alright, held a very nice meeting, and made some new friends, but on our way back the boat got away from our control and we head down stream toward some rather dangerous rapids. There were five men trying to man the boat, but to no avail. I knew there was no time for spoken words, but I dropped my books, grabbed a pole, and with a prayer in my heart, I pushed the pole into the water below the boat- and it stopped still! What a thrill this was to me for I knew that the pole never came near the bottom- there was no doubt in my mind about that! We were able then to get the boat to the landing and we reached home safety.”
He filled an honorable mission without purse or script – his family at home without any dollar income. While on his mission he walked some 4500 miles. He returned home 3 October 1905 just in time for October conference. After arriving home he was set apart as a Stake Missionary, a calling he filled for nearly two years. In March 1907 he was set apart as President of the 19th Quorum of Seventies by J. Golden Kimball.
He filled his mission faithfully and somehow his good wife and children had managed, and now they were all united again, and the promises that had been made before seemed to begin to unfold. On his return home he was made head janitor of the Spanish Fork schools. He was janitor of the Central School from 1906 – 1909. Also March 1906 he was approved Assistant Mail Carrier for the Rural Route.
Upon his return he added to his family by taking his two nephews, William Elmer and Gilbert Clements Taylor, children of his sister Margaret and Alfred Taylor. These good parents died a year apart, leaving them these two little boys, 5 and 3 years and Grandpa took them into his home and raised them as his own until they married.
Another son, Joseph Smith, was born 19 January 1907, but was taken from them on his first birthday, 190 January 1908.
Three more girls were added to their family; Burl, born 14 November 1908; Margaret, 21 June 1911; and Esther, 31 July 1915.
By election of the people, he served as Justice of the Peace 1906 – 1910. He was janitor of the Thurber School 1909-1919. He was also custodian of the City Pavilion for many years. He served as floor manager of the dances, and also served as a caller for the square dancing- this dearly loved doing. He was always and excellent dancer himself, especially of the waltz, and he enjoyed dancing all his life. In 1913 he was appointed as Assistant Postmaster under William A. Jones. On the 18 November 1918 he accepted the appointment of City Letter Carrier; his route covering from 2nd East to 9th East and from 5th North to 5th South. He continued Postal Service from then until he retired- 1 April 1936.
His home was more than a home for his immediate family. It had been a refuge for a widowed sister in law and her two little ones; a haven for his two orphaned nephews, and more than this, a heaven for his three grandchildren. On 6 December 1918, his oldest daughter Louise’s husband, Benjamin Isaac Thomas (my father), died, leaving her with two small children, Jennie May age 6, and Ben age 18 months. Grandpa took her and her two children into his home. Six months after my father’s death, I (Marie) was born in the front living room of Grandpa’s home, 4 June 1919. We lived at Grandpa’s for eleven years, until my mother remarried. There was never a moment that we ever felt that it was not “our” home.
With such a big family to provide for, Grandpa supplemented his income wherever it was possible. He often contracted fields of beets from farmers and he and the family – the only one excluded being Grandma, would thin them in the Spring and top them in the fall. He always kept good milk cows so there was plenty of milk and butter for our large family. He raised pigs and rabbits for meat, also chickens- and we had our own eggs. He grew a superior garden that we might have fresh vegetables. He took great pride in his garden and yard and it was always well kept. This pride extended beyond the yard around the home, he planted the first lawn in our local cemetery. He had to go up and water it all the time by hand, haul his hose from home, ad this took a great deal of care to get it started. In order to keep it cared for, he hauled his hose and mower from home for years before the city planted grass and provided care for it.
For several years he was custodian of the old First Ward Chapel – he loved that building. He would take the children to help clean, but he always required it being done in a reverent manner. We were never allowed to be rowdy in the Chapel, even when we were cleaning. He always taught us that it was the House of the Lord and we were to treat it that way at all times. We had to take the sacrament trays home to wash them as there were no facilities in the Chapel, and Grandma always saw that this task was done with great respect also.
Home evenings was just a way of life in Grandpa’s home. He often read to us in the evenings and there was always a good supply of crisp apples in the cellar all winter. We made lots of taffy and popped lots of corn. He loved to read aloud to the children, and fortunate was the one who rated his lap. He taught us the Gospel by precept and stories, but most of all by the way he lived. We all attend our church meetings and were taught to accept any assignment that came our way. He enjoyed adding a bit of the light side to life, and would always read to us the Sunday comic strips with the art of a thespian. He used to sing many clever songs to us and I’m sure everyone of us have a nostalgic feeling when we think of him signing “A Frog He Would a Courtin’ Go”. He always made a great effort to take us to the County Fairs, and if possible to the State one. He loved a parade and a holiday was important to him.
After serving his Seventy calling for several years he was ordained a High Priest by Henry A. Gardner, 22 September 1928. He loved to sing and served as Sunday School Chorister, MIA Chorister, Ward Chorister, Choir Leader, Secretary in the First Ward Prayer Circle, and Chairman of the Genealogical Committee for years, in the ward and then the stake and various other positions. He was ardent genealogist and temple worker. Throughout his life he visited many temples doing work in them.
One by one his children married and he always accepted each one’s mate readily as belonging to the family and each one loved him in return. He became a father at 22, a grandfather at 44 and a great-grandfather at 65 and there was never a prouder father or grandfather than he. The bigger his family grew the greater his capacity to love became.
In the late 1930’s when they decided to tear down the old church, I thought his heart would break. But after the decision was made he was the first one to give the Bishop his donation toward the new chapel, and he watched it grow with pride doing all he could to help.
In 1935 he suffered a severe heart attack. He was confined to his bed for several weeks, Grandma caring for him faithfully. There were several times he was almost taken from us. His daughter, Margaret, was on a mission in Nebraska at the time and his greatest concern was that she did not learn of his sickness.
In 1941 all his children and most of his grandchildren were present to honor them on their Golden Wedding Anniversary – 28 January 1941. It was held in the ward cultural hall and many friends and relatives enjoyed the evening with them. There was a program, refreshments, and then dancing. They were so happy that night.
Grandpa retired from the Postal Service 1 April 1936, but he continued with his chicken business until 1953.
The 7th day of March 1944 was perhaps the darkest day of his entire life- his beloved sweetheart was taken from him suddenly – he being alone with her at the time. It was a great shock to him and all the family. She was buried in the local cemetery 11 March 1944. His life was never quite the same from that time.
Following her death, his youngest daughter, Esther and her husband Wayne Cox, moved in with him to keep house for him. They did their best to create a good home life for him.
He always showed great concern for his children and grandchildren. He shared their joys and their sorrows – and nothing was too great or too small to merit his undivided attention. If there was anything he could do to lighten a load he did it. When my husband, Reed, was in the service he almost made a daily walk to check on me and see if things were going alright. One day I had my Book of Remembrance out working on it, the cover showing wear, not being a heavy one. He asked me if it was the only cover I had. The following day, he went to the Temple, and after he returned he brought me a new cover for my book. That was Grandpa. After our son was born, he came over one morning and found me bathing him in a large oval pan. The following day he brought me a bathinette. He bought one for Esther and one for Burl, as we all had babies then.
When my mother buried her second husband, William D. Robertson, 7 March 1948 – just four years to the day from Grandma’s death, he shared her sorrow and grief. After that they took some tour trips together which they enjoyed very much. Later we took our camper to the Blackhawk celebrations for mother, and a couple of summers Grandpa went with her. He enjoyed them very much.
Sadness came again to him when his son John died, 23 October 1953.
In April 1955, he and his daughter Louise took an unforgettable trip to Hawaii. He enjoyed it very much and talked of it often. He was especially thrilled to be able to attend the temple there. Later they went to Alberta, Canada where they attended that temple. On the way they had the opportunity of attending the Idaho Falls Temple.
After our ward was divided, he came to my home one day and asked me if I would help in presenting a sacrament meeting. He was in his late 80’s at the time and he said to me, “I have never told a member of the Bishopric ‘no’ in all my life, and I don’t want to at this late date, but I just can’t do it alone.” I told him I would do anything for him. He wanted me to give “The Price of a Testimony” – a retold story from way back from my Jr. High Seminary Graduation. I offered something else but no, that was what he wanted, so that is what I did. I have often thought since that perhaps he wanted to remind ME of the message of the story once again.
He had several sick spells his last years – sometimes requiring hospitalization, and he hated being in the hospital. He just wanted to be in his home. With one of these spells, he wanted his good friend and neighbor, Brother Will Beckstrom, to come and administer to him. When Bishop Beckstrom arrived, there were several of us there. Grandpa asked him to bless him “that he might endure to the end”. This was a great lesson to me. I thought my Grandpa was about the most perfect Latter-Day Saint I had ever known. He lived the Gospel 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. At that time I thought if he were afraid of not enduring to the end, how badly I needed to take stock of myself and be on the alert at all times. I have thought about this so many, many times through the years. He taught me so many lessons, in so many ways.
In 1959 at 89+ years, he attended the 4th of July parade- he always enjoyed doing this and visiting with the acquaintances he would meet there and on the park after. The following day was Fast Day-July 5th 1959. He attended his Priesthood meeting where he offered the opening prayer. He paid his tithing and fast offering to the Bishop, attended Sunday School, and stayed for Fast Meeting. He was the third person to bear his testimony, a special one in which he told of having the privilege of shaking the hands of the prophets from President Brigham Young down through them all to President McKay, then the Prophet. He told of going through the temple with President Heber J. Grant. He spoke of his faith in God, and then said, “I don’t know what I have done, or what I have not done that the Lord does not answer my prayers, as I would like them answered now. God bless you all, Amen.” He finished his testimony, and he had also finished his life here as he was gone before he reached the bench. He was carried outside by Leland Twelves and others and laid on the lawn in the shade. Brother Dean Dudley took off his coat and folded it and put it under his head. Dr. Thomas R. Judd, Grandpa’s doctor, was called and he pronounced him “dead”. Meeting was dismissed and the people of his ward, those who had loved him for so many years, formed a large circle around him and waited until the mortician, Brother Lynn Walker, came with the ambulance and took him away. (This account I have taken from my mother’s book as she was present at that meeting.)
His services were held in the Chapel he loved, and he was buried 9 July 1959, in the local cemetery beside his sweetheart. They are on the lot he cared for so many years.
His life here was finished. We knew it was what he wanted. He was tired and he could no longer do the things he wanted. He had missed his sweetheart for 15 plus years. He was prepared to meet his Maker; I am certain of that.
I was proud to be one of his grandchildren. I am grateful for the privilege I had of knowing and associating with him and partaking of the many lessons he taught me in his life. I only hope I can emulate them into my own life so I can prove myself worthy to meet him again, and so he will be proud of me. I have missed him in so many ways, and as I have written this history I have often found tears swelling in my eyes and a lump in my throat. May his many descendants always honor his name and revere his memory.
Written by his granddaughter, Marie Thomas Hill