Autobiography of Daniel Jefferson Murdock
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Daniel Jefferson Murdock
These memoirs of Daniel Jefferson Murdock were written by himself except for additions from Martha, his wife, or some of his family who were compiling them.
"I, Daniel Jefferson Murdock, was born February 15, 1865 in a little one-room log cabin built by my father, Daniel Hall Murdock, in Ogden, Weber County, Utah, on what was then known as Franklin Street. It is now known as Lincoln Avenue between 24th and 25th Streets.
"My father was the son of Levi Murdock, They were descendants of Robert Murdock, who came to America in 1688 to escape religious persecution. He settled in Roxbury, Massachusetts about 1692. Some of the family continued westward. Levi joined the Latter Day Saints in about 1840. In 1846, he left for Utah. He crossed the plains in Captain Bennet's Company. Daniel Hall, then only seven, walked all the way reaching Ogden in 1850.
"My mother was Mary Snyder, daughter of Chester Snyder and Catherine Montgomery. She came with her father at the same time in the same company to Utah." (See Chester Snyder, History for further information.)
(Daniel. Jefferson was the first child born to them, The next child was a boy, then a little girl, and then another boy. All three died within a year or two of their birth. So Daniel must have been very lonely and maybe a little spoiled as he was seven before another little boy, Silas, was born.) "Capt. Jefferson Hunt blessed me 1865; thus, I was named Jefferson."
"My father planted one of the first orchards in Ogden and the very first, shade trees. He went up in themountains close by to get the small trees, then planted them on his lot around the log cabin.
"I started to school in a one-room log school house. Our seats were made of slabs (logs of trees that had been sawed into thick rough boards with the bark on one side) with holes bored for peg legs to fit into. There were about twelve children in the school. Ogden was but a small town then. There were no streets, just paths between the homes among large sage brush. We children were very much afraid of the Indians (about 1871)."
(In Martha's story, she tells that he was playmates and schoolmates with the Wilson children, who lived one block north of the Murdocks on the same street near the Ogden railroad depot. We can imagine them playing around in the tall sage brush and their mothers trying to keep track of them. At first Dan played with the older girls; later Martha became his gir1.)
"It was about this same time that my parents sold our town lots to Uncle Franklin D. Richards. He built a beautiful home on them."
(Whenever we have read Mother's or Daddy's stores wherein it says "Uncle" Franklin D. Richards, who was president of the twelve apostles and living in Ogden at that time, we have wondered why he was called "Uncle''. The following information was found in the life story of Bro. Richards in the library at the Church Historian's Office)
Franklin D. Richards married Jane Snyder, a sister to Chester Snyder, father of Mary Jane Snyder, who married our grandfather, Daniel Hall Murdock, So he really was Daniel's uncle.
Franklin D, Richards went on a mission to Ohio where the Isaac Snyder family lived. Ohio was a very sparsely settled place. He arrived in the winter time. When he came to the Snyder home almost frozen, sick and about starved; they took him in, warmed, fed and nursed him until he was well. It was their daughter, Jane, who cared for him most of the time. After getting well he finished his mission, then came to court Jane and took her for one of his wives.)
"We moved to my grandfather Levi’s, farm on Wilson Lane just two miles west of Ogden. My father farmed it. Here I lived until I was married. I was baptized August 18, 1875, in the Weber River by Bishop John I. Hart and was confirmed at the same time in a meeting held in my grandfather Levi’s log home,
"Because there wasn’t a school in Wilson Lane at that time, I and the Wilson girls and others had to walk to Ogden where the church and school were held in the same building. The Wilson Ward was organized in 1879 and I was ordained a deacon in 1880 and became a counselor to the president in the quorum."
He spent some winters helping his father get out wood for freighters. They used an ox team. At age 13 he began working as a press man for the Ogden Standard News for three years. His mother, who had attended school with Brigham Young's family, taught her children at home. Daniel's schooling was meager--he never finished the 8th grade but was very agile with figures and was a fluent reader.
(Martha related, "One evening Dan met my father coming home from his hardware store. Dan asked Father if he might take me to the dance that night, Father consented." (Dan was fifteen and Martha thirteen. This was the beginning of a five-year courtship.)
"I started out to make my own living when I was sixteen years old. I went to Gentile Valley to work on a ranch that summer and returned home during the winter. The next spring, 1882, I went to Missoula, Montana to work for a grading outfit and returned home in October. After that I worked on the railroad until I was married.
"I was ordained an elder in 1884 at Wilson, Weber County, Utah. We were married September 16, 1885. I then was twenty and she was eighteen."
(Martha added, "Dan's mother went with us. We rode on the train to Logan. When we got up to leave, Dan accidentally left his purse on the seat. His mother noticed it and put it into her own pocket. As we were walking toward the temple, Dan missed his purse. He became worried. Then his mother handed it to him. He said, "That contains all my savings!")
(Martha continued, "We started our married life with prayer that very night. When we got back home, Father and Eliza Ellen (his second wife, his first wife's niece) were all packed to move to Idaho." (Catherine, Martha's mother, stayed to put the children in school in Ogden while her husband built two homes in Idaho; then she joined them.)
"I helped put in the first street railway. It was run by little mules. That summer I rented the Wilson farm. On December 5, 1886, I became the father of our first – LeRoy Jefferson."
(The next summer Dan worked on the railroad in Montana. Martha sent him a letter with a picture of her holding LeRoy. Later one of the men who was with Dan told Martha that when Dan got that picture, "he danced around in the tent with his picture up to his eyes, then outside around the tent holding the picture and showing everyone.")
"My wife and I lived in Wilson Lane, Marriot Ward until the fall of October 1888, when we moved along with George Wintle to Riverside, Idaho, five miles west of Blackfoot. I had three horses and a cow. We carried our belongings in an almost new wagon. It took five days traveling along loose dirt and sandy roads with tall sagebrush along the way.
"When we arrived in Riverside, Aunt Eliza Ellen invited-us to stay with her that winter until I could build a house. Here we were initiated into real pioneer life." (Eliza Ellen was called "Aunt", she was Martha's father's other wife. He was serving a two-year term in prison because he would not desert one of his wives. He lived with Martha's Mother, and visited his other family on weekends. His case was finally declared false imprisonment and he was released after eighteen months. (Dan and Martha had returned to Ogden by this time though.)
(In order to get from Riverside to Blackfoot, they had to cross a toll bridge. One day while still living with Eliza Ellen, Dan or "D. J." as he was called then, went to town. He saved $3.00 he would have had to pay for crossing the bridge. He left his wagon on the west side of the toll bridge and walked to town. He bought a butchered pig cut it into two pieces, put half over his shoulder and walked back over the bridge leaving that half in the wagon. He returned to town for the other half and walked back to the wagon. It was a real treat to have some meat to eat with the potatoes. Money was very scarce.)
"In the spring of 1889, I helped to make the first head (river) dam to get the water into the Danskin Ditch, so that the Danskin brothers could take the water down to prove up on their land and on a piece of land I had bought at Riverside. I then went to work at the Caribou Mines. I was getting out timber for that mine when it closed down. I then worked to remove more of the sagebrush, plow and plant the land of my farm; but this was hard (the ground was too dry).
"Our second son, Daniel Lewis, was born December 31, 1888 in the two-room dirt-roofed log cabin of Eliza Ellen's in Riverside. He was the first white child born west of Blackfoot. We almost lost him and his mother too.
"That same winter in January, Bishop Englestrum and a counselor came to Riverside to see how many residents were Mormons and to learn their conditions. At a meeting held in Eliza Ellen's home, I was set apart as the first presiding elder and George Wintle as the Sunday school Superintendent of the Riverside Branch of the Basalt Ward. Young Daniel Lewis was named and blessed by Bishop Englestrum at this meeting. We held Sunday school but not many other meetings. A good share of the people did not want it known to the general public that they were Mormons, as they were afraid the merchants and businessmen would not recognize
them (in business)." (You would understand more how these people felt if some of the background history of this community in the Snake River Valley was related. This is taken from Miracle of the Desert compiled by Thomas H. Williams.)
"Trails and rivers of the Snake River Valley had been traversed by thousands of people for more than A century, first the explorers, then the fur trappers, the gold seekers and next the freighters. All these people were looking for fortunes and many fortunes were made by selling furs and gold taken from the streams and mountains. None of them cared to stay. Then many people looking for homes passed over its vast stretches of barren, sagebrush desert on their way to Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Canada, leaving this country as barren and worthless; a fit place only for Indians, coyotes, jack rabbits, and snakes. No attempt was made to make a living by tilling the soil, until the hungry Mormons came. They were not seeking riches to take back to their homes for they had no homes. They were looking for a quiet, peaceful place to settle down and secure a living for their families, so they chose the sagebrush deserts along the rivers. Brigham Young once said, ’Wherever a band of Indians can live, a group of Mormons can live too."
" As soon as the Mormons staked out their homesteads, they began digging ditches and canals to take out water from the streams onto the dry fertile land along or close to the streams as it would be less expensive. One of the first members of the church to settle in the valley was John R. Poo, a freighter who noticed the lush stretches of grass along the banks of the river which is now around Rexburg vicinity. On February 10, 1879, he selected a place for a home and before going home for the winter built a small log house there known as Pools Island, near Menan. Next spring he returned with his family and quite a group of friends who settled on land nearby. One man could never tame a river or conquer a wilderness. It took a small group working together.
"In the fall of November 25, 1881, there were enough people to organize a branch of the church there and in Egin, near Parker, By December 18, 1882, the Bannock Ward was established with Thomas E. Ricks as bishop. This ward consisted of all the territory north, east, and west of the Portneuf Canyon (now Pocatello) and extended in each direction as far as any members resided. Rexburg was the headquarters for the Bannock Ward. By 1883 the Bannock Ward consisted of seven organized branches, They were Parker, Lewisville, Cedar Butte, Teton, Lyman, Eagle Rock, and Wilford.
" On October 1885, George Parkinson, a counselor in the Oneida Stake Presidency attended an open air meeting on the east bank of the Snake River, a few miles above Blackfoot. The reason for this visit was that several members of the church were arrested for unlawful cohabitation. Blackfoot being the county seat, they were brought here for trial. In no other place in the United States was polygamy hunted down like it was in Idaho and especially Blackfoot. Those whose business it was to hunt down the polygamists left no straw unturned to accomplish their end. The law called the Election Test Oath was drafted and put over. This law prohibited any person from voting, serving as juror or holding any civil office who was a polygamist or belonged to any organization that fostered plural marriages. (The law is still on the books in 1979)
"You can see why so many people were afraid to let their religion be known. It is surprising that such could be the case in a land that was founded on religious freedom; and a clause in the constitution grants religious freedom in this land forever. George Parkinson organized this territory as a branch with Andrew 0, Inglestrom as presiding priest. On February 4, 1884, Bannock Stake was organized. Because of the distance, it was impractical for the members to attend Basalt Ward so they held meetings in their homes. Young Ladies MIA was under direction of Eliza Wilson. This was called Basalt and was made a ward in January 25, 1889."
(D. J. Murdock and the officers of the Riverside Branch would have to travel as far as Rexburg to stake meetings. They traveled as far as Idaho Falls, stayed overnight with Martha's sister, then traveled on to their meetings at Rexburg. Martha and her sister, Libby, would go along as they were aids in the Branch. Martha said, "They just about froze at times as they traveled with sleigh or buggy around Eagle Rock as the cold winds would go right through them. " It was a long trip to Officer Meetings. It would take two days up and two back when they attended Stake Meeting at Rexburg, Menan, or Louisville,
D. J. (or Dan) tried to do a good job of everything he was asked to do. But it must have been disappointing when many of the saints were afraid to proclaim themselves. He was not afraid; that may have been why he was chosen as their presiding elder. (People began calling him D. J. to distinguish him from his young son, Daniel Lewis.) D. J. homesteaded a home in Riverside, October 1889. He worked all summer to pay for land and food and became discouraged.
"Because we couldn't make a decent living, we moved back to west Ogden in the fall of 1889. In fact, we resided in Marrcott, Weber Co., Utah for two years. I did team work with horses building Ogden City Electric Railway and hauling timbers from the mountains east of Ogden and building a little two-room house on five acres of land which I bought."
Martha related, "While waiting for the house to be built, we lived in a little old unfinished shack with holes around the floor that a cat could be thrown through. We were happily looking forward to moving into the new house when the two little boys (Roy and Dan) came down with scarlatina. Later thinking the boys were over their sickness, we made the move. The new plaster walls were still a little damp and Dan developed scarlet fever. He was very ill but with my home remedies he pulled through all right. We spent Christmas in the new home."
Martha continued, "Here, our third son, Leo Delbert, was born January 11, 1891. We were very happy with our lovely little boys. Then my girl friends began teasing me, because I was going to have all boys. It rather worried me. I told Daddy about my fears. He just laughed and said, "l wouldn't care if they were all boys’."
(It was about this time while Leo was still a baby that D. J. took Martha and went to Salt Lake to see the cornerstone of the temple laid. It was moved and put into place by pressing an electric button. They had left the three boys at home. (D. J.'s sisters said they acted as baby tenders for their nephews and nieces when they were young. They lived not far away.) This was a very delightful trip for D. J. and Martha. The children were very glad to see them when they returned. (We were never told whether they drove their team and horses or if they traveled by train on this trip.)
"In 1892 we again moved. This time back to Wilson Lane, where I bought a small place known as the Foulger farm and I rented more farm land. By this time I had bought a cow, a calf, a team of horses and harnesses. I had spent some time doing team work. It seemed to Martha that I was spending most all my money on feed for the livestock. There was very little money left for other necessities.
"In March 1893 our first little daughter was born, with fair skin and blue eyes. She was named Edith. She just stayed with us six months, then died with pneumonia.
"One day the Ward Teachers visited our home. They were anxious to know why we weren't attending church or paying tithing. We told them, we just didn't have enough. I earned little and didn't have any clothes to wear to church. Then the teachers gave us a blessing. They promised that if we would pay our tithing and go to church, that we would always have plenty of food and clothes to wear. We paid our tithing and before long I had a new suit to wear to church. On the next Fast Sunday we went to church and paid our last quarter to the bishop as fast offerings. When we got home, I put my hand in my p6cket and there was a quarter."
(In Spencer W. Kimball's book he tells the story of meeting with the high council in Mexico City. One brother arose and said, perhaps he was not worthy of membership in the council because he was not paying his tithing. He wept as he told how his business was losing out. Pres. Kimball wrote, "My heart bled for them, it would have been easier if I could tell them to forget the law of tithing, but since it was not my law, I had no right to waive it. Also that since great blessings were predicated upon faithful living of the law, certainly it was these good folks that needed the blessings and I KNEW THAT IF THEY WOULD TRUST IN THE LORD AND RENDER TO HIM THEIR TITHING THAT HE WOULD BLESS THEM. They must never use a penny of the Lord's money no matter how much the apparent need." D. J. and his family were blessed.)
Dan continued. "While here I was one of the ward teachers. We did very well at farming. Martha (Mattie) came to help fill the great loss of Edith, August 11, 1894. She was a darkeyed baby. That fall Roy started to school in Wilson Lane. The boys were growing so fast."
(In the fall of 1895, D. J. proclaimed emphatically to Martha, "Let's move to Idaho!" She was surprised as he had said he never wanted to go back to Idaho. But they were so anxious to find a home that they could call their own. There had been many from Ogden go into Idaho to take up homesteads, and the church leaders had been directing them up to those settlements in Idaho. They needed more people to help get the water on the land.)
D. .J. Murdock's name was mentioned in The Miracle of the Desert as one of many others who came to Idaho hungry for a home of their own; and who gave the best of their lives that their posterity might enjoy the fruits of their labors. They wished to live near their children and educate them.
The canals played a very important part in the settlement of the Riverside, Thomas, and Rockford communities. The story of these canals is one of sweat and tears of men and women who had vision and determination to win in spite of challenges of a raging Snake River and a barren desert.
D, J, wrote, "In the fall of 1895, we again packed our belongings into the wagon. Tying a horse and cow behind, we started north to pioneer new desert land in Idaho."
They stopped at Blackfoot staying with Martha's older sister, Jennie Bingham, and soon found a house to rent for the winter. Roy said, "Father took me by the hand, put me in a horse drawn cart, and we drove to the home of Bishop Packham of Basalt. I was baptized by my uncle, Elizah Bingham of Blackfoot, September 5, 1895. Roy remembered hearing his father tell him how proud he was to have a boy ready to be baptized. He said, "My father told me to be a good boy. Father called me his pal. I was a big strong boy and loved to help him.
Blackfoot belonged to the Goshen Ward, On March 26, 1896, the First Ward was organized in Blackfoot. Martha stated that they "attended some of the First Ward meetings in the Watson's home while living in Blackfoot in 1895-96."
During that fall, Dan (D. J.) worked as long as the weather permitted on the "big fill" of the People's Canal at Moreland. He slept on the ground and without shelter.
On December 31, 1895, D. J. put on a warm coat, cap, boots, and his mittens, and climbed astride his horse, headed across the river bridge westward for ten or eleven miles. The ground was covered with about six inches of snow,
He said, "I selected a quarter section (160 acres) of sagebrush land at what is now called Rockford, then called Burrow Basin, This happened on my son, Dan's, seventh birthday. I took up my homestead farm at Rockford in 1895 and in the spring of 1896 I built (moved and rebuilt) the first house in Rockford. On the 7th day of March we moved into it. There were three other families out there who lived in dugouts who had moved there within the year of 1895-6. (The other families all left, D. J. and his family stayed.) We lived there until 1908."
(This was the house where D. J. told Martha to gather up a large bundle of newspapers to paste on the walls. She was so surprised when she opened the door to find new wainscoating and painted walls. D. J. loved to surprise his wife and he loved nice things)
D. J. continued, "We had many hardships there. I had to work most of the time away from home to keep my family and feed my livestock. I spent the fall and early winters of 1895-96 working on the People's Canal to get a water right for my homestead. For a man and a team, we were paid $2 in stock and $1 in store orders or cash when they could get it."
Dan Jr. said one day that their father took the best harness to work with him, leaving an older harness patched with wire for them to use. Sometimes it would get so tangled up that they couldn't get the horses harnessed to the old wagon, which was used for all transportation. That day they got one of the neighbors to come help them harness the horses. Dan also stated that they spent most of the day when they were home, pumping water for the livestock and hauling water for drinking, washing, cooking, and bathing.
Martha told about living on the farm in the summer of 1896. She and the little boys made shelters for the chickens and cows. The lack of water caused many trials as did the coyotes and other wild animals. The coyotes dug under the shelter to get the chickens.
The family consisted of D. J, Martha, the three boys and one daughter, Martha (Mattie), the second girl. While living in the desert home, a third daughter, Edna was born on December 11, 1896. There was no doctor and no telephone to summon one. D. J, the nurse, and Martha's sister, Pearl, wept because they were afraid that mother and child would die. Prayer filled hours passed while the coyotes yelped outside. At last, Edna Pearl came. She was the first baby to be born in Burrow Basin. She was named Pearl because her aunt was there at her birth.
D. J. said, "In December I was called to go on a home mission to the Taylor Ward. We (Brother Malcome and myself) went in January and February of 1897. I left my wife with a three week-old baby out in the desert home."
While D. J. was on his home mission, flood water came from the lavas, making it necessary for Martha to move out. Baby Edna got pneumonia. She was healed by administration and olive oil. The little boys missed many days of school because of cold blizzards, deep water, ice and mud.
D. J. returned from his home mission. Martha remembered him telling of his experiences while away. He said he had enjoyed it more than anything he had ever done. " Mother was happy to have him home again and so were the children. D. J. had a little time to get acquainted with baby Edna.
Martha was not the complaining kind although she had some unhappy experiences while caring for her family alone. But her testimony was strengthened as was D. J.'s. She was so happy he had a chance to go. She taught the little boys and little Mattie to be prayerful, all prayed for their father while he was away.
Because of the problems Martha had while he was away, D. J. told Martha, "We are going to move to Riverside this fall and winter." They lived part of the time on the homestead and part of the time in Riverside where the children could attend school and church in the winter. When they were on the farm, they were 6 miles from church, 10 miles from Blackfoot, and 3 1/2 miles from school. D. J. owned the first house on the Riverside townsite.
He continued, "During the summer we drove to Riverside to church. I was in the Mutual presidency and Martha was an aide. While here, I helped build the Riverside Chapel and make the ditch or lateral to water the townsite and my home (As it was part of the townsite.) Our house was across the street from the store; and the main road going from Rockford to Blackfoot ran between."
The first year at Riverside, the boys walked 1 1/2 miles to the Wilson School, a little one-room log schoolhouse with a dirt roof, where all the pupils ranging in age from 6 to 20 were taught by one teacher. Later, Grandfather Wilson built a two-room schoolhouse on the townsite. This was fine for the boys while living in Riverside. They did well in school, church and other social activities.
D. J. secured twenty acres east of the Riverside townsite. As he plowed it, LeRoy and Dan Jr. gathered and burned the sagebrush. There was a lot of traffic going past their home, Leo who had the job of keeping the woodbox filled, laid sage brush sticks across the ruts where the wagons or buggies' wheels went. Then he would gather up the broken sticks for Mother to burn. His father said he was using his head!
They continued this arrangement of summers on the homestead and winters in Riverside from 1897 to 1902. While in Riverside, Grace Mary was born March 1, 1899 and Hazel Catherine on May 18, 1901. It was nice to be where help was close by. Grace had fair skin, light brown hair and blue eyes. She resembled her father and was named Grace Mary after her Grandmother Murdock. Hazel had fair skin and dark brown eyes and hair. She resembled her mother so she was named Catherine for her Grandmother Wilson.
D. J. took part in the first play that was put on by the Mutual. Daniel worked in the Mutual organization for three years as a counselor. Both D. J. and Martha enjoyed the church activities, especially the dancing and dramas. Martha enjoyed helping in the ward and being near her parents (Lewis Wilson and Catherine, and Aunt Eliza). If it were possible when a baby was born, Aunt Eliza Ellen or Catherine was there.
The boys told about having measles. Grandfather Wilson built up a hot fire, put the beds near the fire, and tucked them in bed for three days. He doctored them with his hot drinks. The boys said they thought they were surely going to smother. When they were all "broke out" they felt better and got along just fine.
In the spring of 1900, D. J. was doing some contract work at Ross Park (now known as Fort Hall). He met the Philip Dance family, who were once neighbors to them on Wilson Lane in Ogden. They were camping at Ross Park looking for a place to settle. He told them of the area around Riverside where he was homesteading.
When the Dance family got to Riverside, they lived in the Murdock home until they found a place to live. About a year later they moved to East Thomas. Phil and D. J. ran one of the first threshing machines in that part of the country. D. J. operated (managed) the separator, while Philip cared for and managed about six teams that powered the thresher. They were driven around in a sweep or circle; this turned an iron rod that turned the separator. They threshed late in the fall until all crops were in --- almost up to Idaho Falls. D. J. threshed grain and helped put up hay for others who had water before he did on his land.
The year 1902 was most eventful. D. J. continued, "It had been seven years since we tookup our homestead without any water on the land. We moved back onto the farm early that spring. We (D. J. and boys) cleared and plowed seventeen acres of land and planted it in grain before April. The People's Canal was completed far enough to get water to my place. Now I had to dig a ditch 4 1/2 miles long to get it on my land. It took two months and twenty days from April 1st to June 20th before I got water on my thirsty crops. I worked every day except Sunday, but it was surely a relief to get it there. I never worked and worried so hard in my life. I was so afraid my crop would burn up before we got the water on it. It was a great day when the water began trickling down our ditch; we waved our hats and gave praise to our Heavenly Father."
"That fall when the wheat was in little shocks (about five bundles stacked together), the jack rabbits came. The shocks were covered with rabbits as thick as blackbirds. I bought $300 worth of rabbit wire and fenced the place; this had to be done on credit. It was a large sum of money to be paid off in those days. Out of seventeen acres of wheat, I got 81 bushels. It helped, but I was disappointed. (Almost every week a rabbit drive was made; the farmers banned together and drove the rabbits into a wire enclosure and killed them to prevent the entire destruction of their crops.)
During these years, the grain was cut with a binder; then it was shocked in narrow shocks to dry. While D. J, and Phil Dance were threshing around the neighborhood, D. J.'s boys were stacking their crop into round stacks near where the strawstack was wanted. When the threshers came, the machine was set handy by the stacks and the work began,
Three or four men pitched the bundles from the stacks onto a platform. Two men cut the twine and fed the grain into the threshing machine. The straw was elevated for stacking and the grain was dumped in half bushel measures near the ground. It was sacked and hauled to the granary and stored in bins. It took a crew of about fourteen men to do the job, From 700 to 1000 bushels of grain was a good days work if they did not have to move the machine to another farm.
Dan Jr. said that his father had about three different kinds of threshers, The next one was the steam-powered machine. It was easier to move from place to place. The straw was blown into the stack and the grain was delivered into a sack.
The threshing of the grain took many of the neighbors working together. The preparation of the food for the large threshing crews also brought the neighbor women together. They gave the hungry men the best they had. It was much like a Thanksgiving dinner, only it lasted until all the threshing was done in the community. The children enjoyed it.
After clearing their land of sage, it was plowing with a one-furrow plow. Dan Jr. said when he was fourteen his father was called to be on a jury so he took over the job of plowing. As he was going along, the plowpoint hit a big lava rock. It gave such a quick heavy jerk that Dan was flung right against the back legs of the horses. Luckily the horses didn't kick or run. The worst thing was that it broke the plow share. It cost D. J. as much to get it fixed as he made on the jury.
D. J. often left the boys to do much of the farm work while he was away threshing or doing contract hay work (putting up other people's hay on shares).
Haying time was also a time of hard work around the farm and the whole family participated. After D. J. got water on his land, he and his three boys could handle the cutting, raking, and bunching of hay in little piles in the field. This was done so that it would dry properly and wouldn't spoil when hauled, and stacked. As soon as they started to haul some of the older girls were called to help tromp the hay on the hayrack so it would stay in place while the boys pitched it on. They had to be careful or they might fall off the load when the horses started up as they progressed up and down the rows. The girls remembered the stickers and hay sticks that went through their stockings making their legs itch. Girls didn't wear slacks then; they wore dresses. Sometimes they'd wear their brothers' overalls.
The hay was stacked by lifting loads of hay from the hayrack with a big fork attached to a derrick by ropes. Edna and Mattie helped dump the big hay fork by taking care of the horse that pulled the fork up over to the stacker. The load was held over the stack while D. J. positioned it where he wanted it. Then, on signal, the man on the hayrack quickly jerked a rope tripping the fork. The fork opened letting the hay fall onto the stack. Sometimes they would be covered with hay.
Martha and the rest of the children who were old enough helped get dinner or care for the babies. While on the farm, all of the girls helped with the derrick horse and to tromp the hay as they got old enough. After the hay was stacked in those well-shaped stacks, the youngsters would have fun playing hide-and-seek and run-sheep-run and all such games at different homes.
Other things were happening in and around the neighborhood. With the building of the canals so the thirsty desert could have water, the land around both Thomas and Burrow Basin was taken up by more people coming in to homestead.
Because it was so far for the children to walk to the Wilson School, D. J. and the people in Burrow Basin petitioned the county commissioners for a district of their own. This was granted in January, 1902, and School District No. 48 was established. D. J. Murdock, E. T. Malcome, and N. R. West were the trustees. The school was a real responsibility for D. J. Murdock. That summer a little frame building was erected. To finance this project of building and equipping the school, a loan of $600 was obtained from John Stander.
The children sat on long benches with no desks or books, which were at a premium. Most of the teaching was by the rote or memory method. The teacher using blackboards and the students using slates to write on. The school doors opened in the fall of 1902 with Carrie Simpson as teacher. The Murdock children, Roy 15, Dan 13, Leo 11, Mattie 8 and Edna 6 attended school that winter. D, .J. cut his children's pencils in half to make them last longer.
A spot for the new community site needed to be chosen. A five-man committee was selected for this task, one from each part of the ward. D. J. Murdock was selected from the west. It took much study of geographical features and possible development of the ward to chose the right site. They selected the present site and it was ratified by the members. L. R. Thomas was a big help--giving his help and ground for the building free. The ward was named the Thomas Ward. Building of the new church at Thomas commenced in the summer of 1905.
Shortly after this, Heber J. Grant, an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came out to look over the site. As he sat in a white-topped buggy amid the lava rocks and sagebrush on a dry hill, he made this prediction: "Some day there will be erected right here, a magnificent building to the Lord." Bishop J. R. Williams and others heard him. Today, the beautiful Thomas Ward Chapel stands there. Those five men were prayerful and inspired.
When the YMMIA was organized, D. J. was again put in this organization as a counselor to J. E. Coles. He worked in the MIA for about ten years after coming to Idaho, in the Riverside and Thomas Wards. D. J. was also called to be one of the first ward teachers. He was a faithful worker and enjoyed working in the Church. He was very dependable. This example was a very good thing for the development of his family. On October 1, 1904, he was ordained a High Priest by Lorenzo R.Thomas.
Sunday was observed by D.J. Murdock and family. The children were taken to Sunday School or they walked and Dan and Martha attended Sacrament Meeting. Some of the older girls stayed at home with the younger children and did up the dinner dishes and put things back in order while they were gone.
One time Roy stayed home with the baby while the family went to church. The baby was asleep in Martha's bedroom. All at once Roy heard the barking of his dog. He ran out to see what was happening leaving the back door open. The dog was barking at a coyote that was coming into the yard. Roy started to chase it away. The dog and the coyote disappeared around the house. Roy couldn't find them anywhere; then he noticed the open door. He ran through the kitchen into the boy's bedroom. There on the bed lay the coyote. Roy dragged it outside and finished the job with a stick. Dan and Martha were very grateful to find everyone all right after hearing his story.
When stake conference was held in Blackfoot, Dan took the family in to hear and see the Apostles or the Prophet of the Church. One of the girls said, "It seems we went every time, but that may be erroneous. One time after we bought a game, the General Authority told us it was not good. Daddy took the game and burned it. Daddy and Mother tried to obey the Prophets."
On August 10, 1903, the ninth child was born. Dan had hated to leave Martha to go for the doctor, but they had faith and their prayers were answered. Sister Ferness, a neighbor, came to see Martha and stayed to help. This baby girl was the smallest one so far. She had dark hair and eyes and was given the name of Lilla Beatrice.
While Edna was janitor at the little one room school, her father was very helpful. He saw that there was plenty of wood chopped. In the winter he often helped make the fire in the big stove that stood in the middle of the room. During the winter snow and spring floods, they had to walk around and over hills and on ditch banks to keep out of the water. Sometimes when the water was too deep in the hollow by their place, D. J. took the children to school. When the water froze they walked on the ice or rode in a sleigh.
D. J. planted little tree starts on the bank of the ditch which ran across the north end of the property. They also planted trees along both sides of the path leading from the house to the ditch and around the outside of the lawn. This helped to shade the lawn and also provided shade for the old house. D. J. tried to give his home an artistic look and planned the yards well. After the trees were a few years old, he strung wire for clothes line from one tree to the next until it reached all around the lawn and up and down the path on both sides. It was quite a sight on wash days. The lines had to be filled several times before all the washing was done.
It was a hard task taking out all the big sage brush and plowing with a single plow and a team of horses to clear the land. Ditches had to be dug to take the water where it was needed. This was done with a pick, shovel and a wheelbarrow unless they were lucky enough to own a hand scraper and horses.
When the crickets came through eating everything green in front of them, everyone worked to keep them out of the house and food. When the family could stand it no longer, they moved to Riverside until the crickets were gone.
As people kept coming from Ogden and other places to build homes and take up homesteads, there were more townsites formed. That was true of Rockford. D.J, sold a part of his land situated to the north for the Rockford townsite, The railroad was being built about this time also and a slice of his land went to the railroad.
Around 1903 and 1904, D.J. decided he could afford to dig a well. It had to be dug mostly through lava rock. They had been hauling water since 1896. He and Mr. Filsted were working with dynamite to loosen the rock. One morning when Martha was sweeping the floor, she found a little sack that had held sticks of dynamite. It seemed empty, so she threw it into the stove along with the rest of the trash. Bang! Bang! One of the stove lids flew up into her face. Edna ran to get Dan yelling at the top of her voice that the stove had hit Mother and come quick, come quick! They scampered out of the well hole and ran at full speed to the house. Martha was burned, but not too seriously. That well was very deep and the water was always very cold and refreshing, There was no more hauling of water except from the pump to the house.
Whether the water came from the ditch or later from the well, wash day was always a major operation, especially in winter, for the whole family. Water was carried in the boiler with the wagon, It took several trips to fill the reservoir and boiler to have enough hot water for the washing machine and plenty to boil the white clothes to keep them gleaming white. Then enough cold water had to be hauled to rinse all of the clothes twice.
The older girls washed the dirty clothes which needed to be sorted the night before, because with a family of thirteen, it would take most of the day to wash, hang, fold, and sprinkle for ironing those clothes. While Mattie and Edna were home they did it, but as they left home it fell on the next girls in line of age. All of the girls had a turn.
Edna remembered one wash day they had been starching clothes. The men came in to dinner, they didn't stop to look but washed their faces in the starch water. Everyone had a good laugh!
The year of 1905 and 1906 Lucy Dean taught at the little one-room school. She boarded with the Murdock family in that little house with two bedrooms. Martha always found room for one more. The last week of February, Lucy took time off to get married. While she was gone, the tenth baby blessed Dan and Martha's home. This was another little girl with light hair and blue gray eyes like Dan's. Gladys Ellen was born February 26, 1906. Aunt Eliza Ellen was there.
After Gladys was born Martha served as Counselor in the Primary. Leo and Edna remembered going to primary with their mother driving the team of horses attached to a wagon. "As we came to the People's Canal we got scared as there was no bridge across it. We first went up the bank, then down the steep bank into the canal. We all held our breath because the tugs came undone. Leo got down into the canal to hitch the tugs up to the double trees again then we went on through the canal and up the other bank. Then we could all breathe again. Daddy trusted Mother; she was a good driver."
In the fall of 1907 a new two-room building (two stories, with one room above the other) was ready for school over in Thomas. The little Rockford school was over-flowing with students, so was the Wilson School. Those students above the sixth grade went to Thomas. Mattie went there later Edna and Grace graduated from that school. Roy and Dan were going to Ricks Academy to finish their schooling. While at Ricks, Roy took a missionary course to get ready for a mission; he left for his mission in the spring of 1908 to Missouri. Dan enjoyed the boys’ athletics and won all the foot races he entered. D.J. and Martha were in favor of higher education.
New Year's Day, January 1, 1907 was the grand opening of the new Thomas Hall, The Murdocks had helped haul rock for it and participated in the New Year's dinner and dance that night. It had been built by the sweat, blood and tears of those sturdy pioneer people, plus $600 from the Presiding Bishop's Office. It was the largest hall in Bingham County. Stake Conferences, stake socials, Old Folk's parties, and shows and dances of all kinds were held there.
At this grand opening, everyone brought food, home cured hams were baked and huge pieces of roast beef, turkey, chicken and wild duck were spread on the tables. Plum puddings and pies of every kind were served. This celebration lasted all day and night. While the couples danced, babies and young children slept. D.J. and Martha enjoyed such socials and loved to dance. Their children remembered seeing them dance the waltz and some other old-time dances.
Martha told in her story about the parties that she and Dan sponsored in the old Burrow Basin School and the "shin digs" they had at the different homes in the Basin. They rolled up the rugs, cleared the room, and one person played the fiddle another called the dances and they had a real fun "ho-down". The year the schoolhouse was built, Martha and Dan prepared a Thanksgiving Party in the school. Everyone brought eats and enjoyed a fine time.
The Fourth and the Twenty-fourth of July were special times that the Murdock family really looked forward to. White dresses were made, the girls washed in buttermilk and lemon juice to get rid of the tans on faces and arms. Special goodies were made for lunch and there were races and special games ... really fun days for everyone. All of the family were interested in the baseball games on Saturday afternoons. Everyone who had his work done and clothes ready for Sunday could go.
The children enjoyed going to town with Dan and Martha. They had treats on the way home of bologna and bread or cheese and crackers. They traveled in a white-topped buggy or a wagon; in winter it was a sleigh. The sleigh box had boards up the sides with hay or straw scattered over the bottom. Rocks were heated in the oven and put in the box to keep feet warm. Sitting on the straw with hot rocks at their feet and covered with plenty of quilts, the family was quite comfortable. They would talk or tell stories or sing or read. Sometimes the children would get out and run for a short distance behind the sleigh for exercise.
D.J. and the boys wore knit socks and the girls wore long knitted stockings in the cold winter time. They were so glad when they could get rid of them in the spring, but they were necessary in the cold in order to enjoy the ice skating and sleigh riding and walking to school. It took Martha many hours to knit so many pair of stockings for the family of eleven.
D.J. planned ahead for winter and prepared food and fuel. He taught his family to do the same. Because of the road conditions of mud, sand and snow it was necessary to have plenty of fuel on hand for winter. Before the railroad came, most fuel was wood from the lava beds. It really made a hot fire.
In preparation for getting the wood, the men packed a good warm roll of bedding covered with a canvas to keep out the rain, horse-blankets for the horses, a can of water for both men and horses and the grub box filled with plenty of choice foods. Grain and feed were brought for the horses and a good sharp ax. If the weather was warm, it was a real vacation trip for Dan and the boys. Several loads were needed to last all the year.
"One trip the boys, Dan and Leo, thought they were old enough to go alone. The folks were surprised to see them come home early. Leo had cut his foot; it was bleeding profusely. The doctor was called to come out from Blackfoot. He laid Leo out on the kitchen table to sew up the cut.
The family always watched anxiously for the home coming of their father with wood, as it was rather dangerous. Coal was also hauled from Blackfoot by wagon early in the fall or late summer.
Horses provided all the power for travel and to work the machinery. Dan worked his horses in the fields every day except Sunday. They would travel to church and conferences on Sunday in a surrey with fringe around the top and curtains to roll up or down to keep out the dust and rain. While in the Sunday meetings, the horses would eat hay from the back of the wagon or carriage.
D,J. Murdock really took good care of his horses. His animals were given warm shelter and were fed before he ate his meals. Nothing was neglected on his farm if he knew it. The horses got special attention from him. He loved to brush and curry their fur to keep it clean and shiny. The harness was often cleaned and polished and it was hung on pegs in the barn by the horse stalls, Clean straw was used in each stall at night. The manger was filled with hay and some oats fed at morning, noon and night. In the winter time bells were fastened over the back harness of the horses so they would tinkle as the family was riding in the sleigh. The bells could be heard a mile away,
The boys and D. J. really liked to make the girls yell when they would swing the sleigh around the corners or anywhere there was room. There were fun times and work times at the Murdock home.
Before Roy left for his mission, D. J. and the boys hauled all the rock that would be needed in building their new home. They also dug the foundation and a room for fruit and milk, The foundation was set up and the house was going up fast when Roy left for his mission on the 7th of July, 1908. The family was happy feeling the new rock house would be finished that fall. The folk’s bedroom and the kitchen were about done in time for Vera Josephine to be born in it, October 4th 1908. She was a cute little girl with light brown hair. Again D.J. got help, Pearl Jones came to help with the work and school sewing. This is when Dan Jr. first met his future wife.
The whole family was very proud when this new house was all completed and all the woodwork was varnished in a very light or natural color. Outside, the gable ends were painted white and blue. The Rocks were laid in a white mortar window and door frames were painted white. It looked so big and beautiful. Some of the family remembered that their home was called the "Rockford Hotel." It had plenty of room. There were six bedrooms, a parlor, living room and kitchen besides a pantry, an entrance room, basement, and a shanty room for storage. There was plenty of room for the large family besides one or two school teachers that boarded there during the school year.
The editor of the paper wrote after interviewing D.J., "A visit with Mr. Murdock is interesting and educational. He has seen the development of Bingham County. He homesteaded his place in 1895 and still owns it. That is a staying quality. He lived in the first house in Rockford. He was one of the original four who first settled there. In 1908 he built a big two-story home made of native rock. It is very good looking."
He continued, "If anyone wishes to know about the early settlers just talk to D,J. Murdock. He is very knowledgeable."
D.J. has been described as a man of medium stature with blue-gray eyes and dark hair, Everyone liked him as he was always congenial, jovial and witty, He liked to tease the young people, especially the men and women school-teachers who boarded with the family. He was a good Republican. When an election was coming up, he studied the candidate’s lives and knew who to vote for and why. He convinced his family to vote Republican also.
About this time many changes were made around the farm. The Aberdeen-Springfield Canal was finished. This bordered his farm on the west. He had never been able to get enough water onto his land because there wasn't enough of a draw from the People's Canal. Those who weren't getting enough water from the People's Canal changed their water-right to the Aberdeen-Springfield Canal.
When D.J. changed his water-right, he resigned from the board of the People's Canal of which he acted as president for five years. He then became a board member of the Aberdeen-Springfield Canal for 15 years, one of which he was President.
Because D.J, was president of the canal, he had the privilege of having a telephone in his home. That was such a help and was appreciated so much. D.J, could get in touch with all his committeemen. The tall wooden telephone box hung on the wall. Calls were made by turning a little knob on the side of the box to signal "central" (This was the operator.) She would say, "Number, please" and Dan would tell her the number he desired to reach. She would ring the number and he would be on the line to speak with whomever he pleased. (This may seem quite primitive now in the era of coast-to-coast direct dialing, but at that time, it was quite marvelous.)
When Martha knew they were going to have company, she would call the Blackfoot meat shop and tell them what she needed. It would be sent out to the farm with the postmaster. Then it could be cooked for dinner or kept on ice for the next day. Many phone calls were made for other people and messages taken to neighbors.
After D.J. began getting his water from the Aberdeen-Spingfield, his farm started booming. He raised grains, alfalfa, and some potatoes. He helped Martha and the girls with the large garden. He had planted an orchard consisting of fall and winter apples, pottawatamy plums, strawberries, raspberries, black, red and white currants, and gooseberries. There was something for everyone to do most every day.
Martha would sit on a box with a bucket in her lap picking gooseberries for canning. D.J. loved good pies; Martha loved to please him. There were several bushes in the row and she would pick all of the berries from one bush before going on to the next. (Green gooseberries are very sour and the girls used to see who could eat the most without pulling a face.) But they make delicious pies and the ripe ones were yummy. The girls helped mother pick and can them. The black currants were most delicious with fresh cream and sugar and made delicious jams and jellies. Dan and the family loved the good jam on hot biscuits and fresh raspberries and strawberries with sugar and cream. They canned raspberries with a little sugar in quart bottles. After they had canned enough for their family the rest of the berries were sold. The girls got the money.
While on his mission, Roy solved the puzzle about his mother missing a loaf of bread she had just taken out of the oven. LeRoy said the loaf of bread was brought to him by a messenger of Heavenly Father because he was nearly starving. He testified that Heavenly Father takes care of his missionaries when they are faithful.
In about 1909 the Murdocks decided to buy the piano from a peddler who let them try it out. Mattie, the oldest sister, was fifteen; the school teacher, Miss Hanna, gave her a few lessons. Several of the girls took lessons but Mattie was so interested she practiced every time she got a chance. Martha must have helped pay for it with money she got from keeping the school teachers.
The piano was put in the parlor. When Dan wanted to read or rest in the summer he would sit in that room. It was on the north side of the house and was cool. As he rocked in the rocking chair, he could see the pretty flowered rug on the floor and sitting on a stand was a beautiful lamp with a large flowered globe with a tall chimney through the center of it. It had gold around the bottom of the stand. It gave a good light so he could see to read.
The older brothers and sisters used to entertain their friends, in the parlor, so did Dan and Martha. The piano was a real help in most of the girls lives; at least three could play some pieces on it. Reva took lessons while living in Blackfoot.
D.J.'s crops were mostly hay and grain until this time. A few people were planting sugar beets. In 1910 when the railway was built, a boxcar siding was made and a beet dump was built close by. A little weigh-house was built at the dump so that loads of beets could be weighed. D.J. was good with figures and he was the weigh man. He helped the farmers keep track of the amount of beets that they brought into the dump. He also helped farmers with the amount of grain that was in their bins and the tons of hay in their stacks. He learned much from others. He had only a few years of grade school and had no high school education, but his mother had a good education and helped the children with their studies.
After the railroad came through Rockford, farming advanced much faster because the farm produce could be shipped so much easier. Rockford soon had a good mercantile business, lumber yard, barber shop, pool hall and as time went on, other businesses such as a fertilizer plant. Produce could now be sold at Rockford and supplies obtained there instead of having to make the trip to Blackfoot over muddy or snow-filled roads. D.J. would take his can full of cream to the train instead of Martha having so much churning to do.
Besides getting a supply of wood, canning the fresh fruits and vegetable, and getting clothes ready for winter, the Murdocks also butchered enough pigs for bacon and hams for the winter. They were smoked or cured and put in clean flour bags in the wheat bin to keep until needed. Sausage was made into round loaves to be used for sausage rolls and in other ways.
D.J. butchered one beef at a time, this was hung in the cold shanty where it could be sliced as needed. It would stay half frozen in the winter. Sometimes beef was canned. Wheat was taken to the mill where it was ground into flour. Martha made about eight loaves of bread two or three times a week.
After the railroad came in many men with rolls of bedding or a sack thrown over their backs traveled by foot up and down the railroad track. One at a time many of them would stop at D.J.'s home asking for something to eat. The children were afraid of them but their father would tell the men to go out to the woodpile and chop a pile of wood while his wife prepared a lunch.
Sometimes Indians stopped to water their horses and ask for food. Martha would give them anything she had ready, a loaf of bread or something, They were glad to get it and went on their way. All of the family were afraid of the Indians.
The coming of the railroad brought another influx of settlers from everywhere. It wasn't long before all farm land east and west of the tracks was covered with waving hills of grain, alfalfa, sugar beets and potatoes.
D.J. had enlarged his acreage of beets and he had procured eighty acres of land to the west of the canal and eighty acres a mile and a half or two miles east for the three boys to take over. Roy was home from his mission and was attending Ricks academy for the winter months. Leo was in his second year at the U.A.C. in Logan, he wanted to become a doctor. Dan Jr. had been D.J.'s stand by.
Now the boys had more land to clear of sagebrush and get ready for cultivation and houses to build before their marriages. Roy met Melissa Cheney at Ricks Academy. She was a nice-looking sophisticated woman. Dan was courting Pearl Jones who had helped them when Vera was born. Leo and Frances Dance, daughter to D.J.’s good friend, Phil Dance, were keeping company. Martha prepared special meals when the children brought their friends home to meet the family. LeRoy and Melissa and Dan and Pearl were married in a double wedding in the Salt Lake Temple, December 20, 1911. Leo and Frances were married February 26, 1913, also in the Salt Lake Temple.
After the boys were married they and their father helped each other at haying and harvest time. D.J. had a better plow and cultivator to loosen the dirt between the beet rows and help to keep out some of the weeds but there was no machinery to thin the beets or keep out all the weeds. The girls did their share of thinning, hoeing and topping of the beets to get means to go to high school.
The girls said, "Our father always insisted we do our work as near perfect as possible. While working in the beets, he insisted we leave but single beets while thinning. When hoeing not part of the weeds but all were taken out. And when topping the beets all the green tops should be removed and no beets left in the ground. When we milked the cows, they should be milked dry. All the hay was stacked and cleaned up not left messy. A set time was planned for eating, sleeping and working, and when the days work was done, the evening was made enjoyable. We could do as we pleased.
Mother insisted we do our work well in the house too. Daddy helped to keep the house neat by hanging up his clothes and putting things away after using them. He was very thoughtful and tried to help Mother keep her home clean and tidy."
Edna remembered getting their first car. "Once when Mother was ill, Daddy called the doctor who drove out in his new car. After caring for Mother, he gave me, the school teacher and maybe Grace or Mattie or both their first car ride. Then we walked two miles home, but it was worth it!
"Not many months after this, a salesman drove into our yard. He and Daddy talked for a long time. The girls couldn't stand the anticipation any longer and some of the braver ones went out to see if Daddy was going to buy. He gave the family a ride in the car and did buy it."
Dan Jr. said he got a ride to town on Saturdays with his Dad before he got a car of his own. It was so much quicker when you had no horses to care for. Leo and Dan soon had cars also. Now D.J. could ride to Aberdeen for canal meetings and back home the same day in his new Dodge car. Before that he had taken the train to Aberdeen and had to return the next day.
On January 31, 1912 a Golden Wedding reception was held for Martha's parents, Lewis Dunbar and Catherine Wilson. The family participated on the program which was held in the recreation hall at Riverside. The grandchildren sang a song and the children presented their parents with gold watches. Many people were in attendance; a dance was held after the program.
Edna recalled the occasion. She was only sixteen and didn't know much about dancing. Her father insisted she dance the quadrill with him. It was danced in sets. After she caught on she was happy that he was insistent. He was always interested in the development of his children.
All were concerned to find that Martha was expecting again. She was forty-five year old. Reva was born October 5, 1913, light headed with dark brown eyes. Prayers had been answered.
The family had used coal oil lamps which had to be filled with kerosene for many years. They were carried from room to room. Every evening the glass chimney had to be cleaned and kerosene added. It was impossible to read unless the light reflected directly on the book. As soon as gasoline was used for lights, D.J, put gasoline lights in the house; they were almost as good as electric lights.
There was enough light so Martha could do her mending or knitting and the girls could wash dishes and finish any work they wished to do. Dan really enjoyed them because they hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room. He loved to read everything when he had time to. The children recalled how they loved to hear him read aloud to them as they were doing the dishes or at holiday time especially during the Christmas vacation.
Christmas vacation was a time when he had more time to spend with his children, He would choose an especially good novel to read to them as they did the dishes then the family would have candy and nuts before going to bed. He’d always stop right at 9.00 usually right in the best part of' the story and send them off to bed.
The family enjoyed sleigh rides and invited friends to go along as they visited relatives and friends during the holidays. Dan and Martha enjoyed good entertainment and always tried to attend the plays presented by the mutual at Christmas time. The Church hall was the biggest entertainment hall in the community, so touring entertainment groups presented plays and other entertainment there each winter. The Murdock family usually attended.
After the children married they still tried to come home for Thanksgiving dinner. It became a tradition which they carried on long after the death of their parents. Elwin, Dan and Pearl's son, remembered one Thanksgiving they went to their grandparent's home. Big tables were set through the dining and living room. They were piled high with much good smelling foods but he and the other grandchildren were taken down stairs. He was happy to see another big table set for them. After the dinner a program was held then everyone joined in singing. The children were taken to the picture show by Reva and Vera while the grown-ups had their genealogical meeting. Everyone looked forward to these yearly reunions. (This was in town.)
Christmas holidays were very busy enjoyable times for the Murdock family. They brought in a tree and decorated it usually with cranberries, pop corn, colored paper chains and little decorations made by the children. Some years, popcorn balls were hung on the trees. Many days were spent in baking pies, making candy and goodies, and making gifts. Martha's treasured cubbard with glass doors was always full of mincemeat, apple, berry and pumpkin pies. They looked so tempting through the glass panes. No one could satisfy Dan with their pastry cooking but his wife, Martha.
Lilla remembered her best Christmas. The family still lived on the farm after the boys were married. "Daddy, Mother, Dan and Leo went to town before Christmas. They bought three Edison phonographs and some records. Our Edison was delivered the day before Christmas while everyone was busy with the cooking in the kitchen. The door was closed long enough for them to roll it into the walk-in wardrobe it was covered well.
Early Christmas morning Daddy rolled the Edison into the living room. The family was awakened by beautiful music. In no time the family were downstairs to see where it was coming from. That was the family Christmas present. It was certainly enjoyed by the family in town and back out again on the farm. This relic is standing in Edna Bingham's home and still runs."
After all his beets were harvested D.J. weighed the loads of beets as they came to the beet dump. Then when they had unloaded the beets the drivers would get on the scales and he would weigh the wagon again. By doing this D. J. would be able to keep the amount of weight of the beets by each load. This was put on the books and a slip was made out for the beet grower of each load. This job lasted until all the beets were sent to the factory.
Dan and Martha drove Edna and Lorin Bingham to Salt Lake. Vera went along to care for Reva who was the baby. Edna and Lorin were married in the Salt Lake Temple September 12, 1917. Dan's mother, Mary Snyder Murdock was living in Salt Lake at the time and went to the temple with them.
That year a family group picture was taken while all the family were together. Edna had taken sewing lessons in Blackfoot the year before. Most of the dresses worn in the picture were made by her.
D.J. missed Edna's help on the farm. Since the boys had married she had been his right hand man. She said she enjoyed working with her father because he was always so appreciative.
D.J. had stomach ulcers which hurt continually. The doctor had him live on mostly a milk diet. Vera remembered taking eggnogs to him wherever he was working. He rested while he was drinking it and talked about his crop. The family was proud of his farming and knew he was one of the best.
He lost weight and became weaker but kept on farming until the fall of 1920. By that time he was out of debt and had a little money in a saving account. He and Martha talked of finishing their house. They wanted to add a front porch that would run around the east and south side up to the back porch and to put water and electricity in the house. That would be a lot of work. Then they thought about moving into Blackfoot where they would be close to school and church so the younger children would enjoy more social life and find their companions. They couldn't decide what to do.
Mattie left for her mission in the summer. Dan found a house in Blackfoot he thought Martha would like. When he took her to see it, she called it her "dream home". There was electricity, a furnace in the basement and a place to do the washing Dan liked it because it had a nice garden space and an acre or two of pasture land where he could feed his cow and space for a barn and chicken coop. It was within walking distance of church, town and school. There were nice neighbors on all sides.
Peter D. Johnson said to D.J. "I would give all I have for a large family like yours." The boys and Edna were married. Mattie was in the mission field. Hazel and Grace were teaching their first year. Lilla was a junior in high school and Gladys, Vera and Reva were in elementary school. Dan was happy but didn't enjoy that first winter in town as much as the rest of the family. That summer he spent still working as field man for the Sugar Co.
He and Martha did enjoy having church and town close. They could both walk to do their home and Relief Society teaching, which they did faithfully. They enjoyed having Grace and Hazel come home occasionally on weekends and the visits of their sons and Edna.
Mattie returned from her mission in time to take some classes at high school with Lilla. She missed the mission field and really yearned for self-improvement. Grace and Vernal Taysom and Hazel and LaVon McKinley were married June 8, 1922. Mattie married Laurence Clark on October 5th that same year. All were married in the Salt Lake Temple. Lilla stayed with Hazel while going to college in Pocatello. She was home occasionally on weekends while teaching or going to summer school.
Dan and Martha were still squeezing pennies trying to give each child the education needed and preparing them for homemakers and teachers. In the summer of 1925, at age 60, Dan entered the hospital for the first time in his life to have his stomach ulcers removed, a major operation for that time. They had to make a new opening into his stomach. The doctor said he would be all right if he were careful and took care of himself and ate good nourishing simple foods. He would have to eat more often and not let his stomach get too empty. He was soon his real self again, felt like a new man. He and Martha began planning for a vacation.
In December, Dan and Martha went to California for two weeks. They visited with his sister, Josephine Jones. The family took them for drives all over. They thought the flowers and warm weather in Sacramento were wonderful. While at Josie's they sent a card to Dan's brother, Lorenzo Silas, in Stockton, telling him where they were. They received a letter and their tickets to Stockton to visit him. They were so glad to see each other. It had been many years since they had been together.
After getting Dan and Martha settled in the living room, Lawn asked them what record they would prefer he play on his Edison. Martha said "Oh My Father". He didn't have it but said he would give almost anything to have it. She promised to send it to him. They spent Christmas in sunny California. That was their first trip that far away from home together. Dan would like to have stayed longer but Martha was glad to get back to their family and nice comfortable home in Blackfoot. She sent a record to Lawn as soon as they returned home.
Lawn's wife wrote to them telling how Lawn enjoyed that record of "Oh My Father". "He played it over and over again. (Lawn was having trouble with asthma. He died in 1940 shortly after Dan.)
Martha said, "Daddy improved rapidly and within the year he felt better than he had felt for a long time. He then put his hat into the political ring as assessor. I never cared about him getting mixed up in politics but he had much experience as deputy assessor and was well known throughout the county."
Reva added, "His political life was always honest and above board. He didn't feel that he had to do a lot of campaigning. People knew him and what he stood for. If they wanted his services they would vote for him. I have heard party leaders come to try to change his plans. If they were against his principles he would show them the door very convincingly!"
Dan Jr.’s daughter, Velda, remembered visiting her grandparents. She remembered his cherry tree and grape vines and the little dog, Peggy. She told of eating meals with her grandparents, "I liked to eat meals with them. They ate simple healthy meals. Grandpa said they ate the way the Health man had taught them and that we should eat cereal last and not at the beginning. He wanted things done on time or before and I felt sometimes he lost his patience too easily. I remember his laugh and his quote, "By the hills!" Too, he talked about how beautiful his wife was; that she didn't have a daughter as beautiful as her."
Reva said, "I was the youngest and was very close to my father. I soon learned how to win him over to my side, but also knew when he said 'no', or set a time to be home, I had better listen. One night I went to a church dance, my time limit on a school night was 9 o'clock. Shortly after 9:30, I looked up and there was my father, overcoat over his night shirt. I guess you know that I went home, no argument. I loved and admired him for it because I knew that he really cared."
She continued, "We always had prayer in the evening. In my high school years when I was going to be out late, we always had family prayers before I left. My friends, boy or girl, were invited to kneel with us. Those not belonging to the church were very impressed and envious of these times."
In 1926 Gladys and Vera graduated. The next year they attended Ricks so they could teach school the following year. Their father arranged for them to be able to borrow money and pay it back. They each got a school in Bingham County, too.
Lilla married a returned missionary, Alfred Romrell, in the Salt Lake Temple April 1, 1927. Alfred was also a school teacher.
In 1927 while Dan was an assessor, he and friends took Martha, Vera and Reva to Boise to the assessor's convention. While the two men attended their meetings, the ladies took in places of interest in the city. After the meetings, they all visited the fun house, in it was a room of mirrors. Martha told of the experience, "Everywhere we looked, we looked different; we laughed so hard we cried. But it wasn't so funny when we went to the assessor's banquet that night. I was asked to sit beside the guest speaker for the evening. I knew nothing about him." This was a highlight in the lives of Vera and Reva.
On July 11, 1929, Dan and Martha got a real shock when their daughter, Mattie, died with spinal meningitis leaving three small children under five years of age. Eunice, the six month old baby, lived with her grandparents about six months until Lawrence married Lily Malm. They missed her when she left.
That same year, August 21, 1929, Gladys married Clifford Halgren, a returned missionary, in the Logan Temple.
Dan had been assessor for two terms of two years each. They had enjoyed their dream house for twelve years when Reva graduated from high school in 1932. After her graduation, they moved back to their farm in Rockford. The dream house had been a great help for all of their girls but depression was coming on and farm prices were very low. The farm and pocketbook were calling them back to the farm. It was such a mess to clean up.
Reva and Wilbur Disher were married March 22, 1932. Roy and Melissa had moved to Ogden and were divorced about this time. Roy and Wilbur helped Dan on the farm that summer. Roy and his father helped Wilbur get interested in the church. Reva said her parents were very much appreciated for the help they gave them. Dan taught Wilbur many things as they were working together. He was baptized on the farm during that first year of their marriage. They were married for time and eternity August 2, 1934 and had their two little girls sealed to them.
Clifford and Gladys were living with Dan and Martha while they were fixing up the old two room house which Dan had fixed for Martha in 1896, so they could live near them to help. Clifford told how they enjoyed living with them and hearing her father read to them in the evenings as he had done when the children were young. Gladys cooked very nice meals for them.
Dan got pneumonia which ended with asthma. Although he was sick, both he and Martha loved the farm home with their children close to them. The family was planning a Golden Wedding celebration for Dan and Martha on September 16, 1935; everything was in order. The evening before while three of Dan's sisters were on their way to the farm, they were in a two car collision. The sisters, Josephine, May and Kate and one of their boys were hurt and were in very critical condition. Plans for the party were cancelled. His sisters did get so they could get around, but some never did get completely well.
Velda, a granddaughter said, "When I visited them after they moved back to Rockford, I used to feel sorry for Grandpa because to me he was too old to have to work so hard. I remembered one Thanksgiving dinner when he and grandmother had roasted a whole pig for dinner and they let us kids play in that big upstairs with all those rooms and Aunt Vera's old clothing. We would dress up and go down and put on programs. They must have loved their grandchildren. I felt for him when he had asthma and had such a hard time breathing."
Vera remembered her father's concern for his wife's health even though he felt poorly. After a hernia operation he was recovering in bed when Vera and Martha had a slight car accident while visiting Martha's mother who was old and bedridden. On the way home they ran off the road and Martha cut her mouth. The doctor was called to the house to sew up the slit. Vera and Reva were called to their father's bedside to tell exactly what happened. He was afraid the doctor had not told him the whole story,
Vera went on to tell of her father's concern and compassion for her when a boy she had been very fond of became interested in someone else while she was away at summer school. She was at the station ready to go back up to Shelley to prepare for the opening of school. "I thought it wouldn't affect me, but after being alone a few hours, I wanted so badly some one to console me. Father drove twenty miles to meet me at the station so he and I could talk about it. He really comforted me.
"When Earl and I were courting my parents were so considerate of me. They cooked such good meals and everything was always clean and attractive. They were always concerned and wanted us to be happy." Vera and Earl Romrell, Alfred's brother, were married April 30, 1937.
In looking back, Edna remembered how much her father had comforted her when her little boy died. He was only a few months old. She was so lonesome, she would walk over to her parent's home every day. "One day as I was walking past where Daddy was weighing beets, he saw me and called me over. He comforted me and tried to console me. I loved him so much for taking a special interest in me when I needed it."
As Hazel visited with her parents back on the farm, she remembered that it wasn't all work around the farm. "One day when it was raining very hard Daddy and the boys played hide-and-seek. Daddy took Lilla who was youngest, laid her on some books on a shelf then drew the curtain in front. Grace was put in some of the boy’s overalls and hung on the wall. She was well concealed. I was taken into Daddy’s bedroom and laid on top of the mattress of the folding bed. It was hard for the rest of the family to find us; we were glad when we were found. We had lots of fun playing on the grass or sometimes resting under the cool shade trees. It was fun to play anti-i-over the house and all kinds of ball games together."
Gladys and Clifford lived on the farm near Dan and Martha for five years. During that time, Dan's health continued to go down. He and Martha went to Salt Lake and lived near Roy while Dan was seen at the Clinic. LeRoy married Lilla Meakin on March 14, 1938. He and his father did temple work together for some of the Murdock names during the next two years. Dan greatly enjoyed doing these names for his dead ancestors.
In a letter written November 17, 1938, Martha wrote, "Daddy is some better. We may have stayed at home longer but Daddy started with cold and choking up and we did not dare to stay longer. I wish you could all see how much different life is here for us all. Daddy has nothing to do but enjoy himself. He is enjoying himself by going to the temple often. I haven't been yet but will next week when I get my temple clothes ready.
Lilla, we think you had better send the genealogy book down. We can get a lady here in the apartment to help us get some more names ready. She lives in this building and is a temple worker. She is going to help me with my robe today and Mrs. Malm (Lilly's sister-in-law) will make my veil. I will get shoes then I will be ready to go. Daddy has been using Vernal's clothes."
Martha went on to ask about all of the children and to say they missed them and were looking forward to visits from several of them. Her letters were cheerful and told of how much improved Dan's health was and of how much he enjoyed the temple work.
In a letter written November 10, 1939, she wrote, "I went to Sunday School. I noticed so many deacons passing the sacrament and I thought of all my grand boys and girls. We sure are proud of them."
She continued, "Roy and Lilla are both good to us and come whenever they can. Daddy likes to have Roy come so much. He (Roy) is always so cheerful."
She went on to tell of the flowers blooming in the windows at the Richmond Hotel where they were staying. Grace was there washing windows and helping her. She expressed concern for family members and chided some of them for not writing. Then she said, "We don't know what about St. George. I just feel that if we can get along here that it is far enough away." She and Dan had been advised to go to St. George where the climate was warmer.
Dan wrote, "Hello all of you folks. You must excuse me for I cannot write much, don't feel very well. I hope this finds you all well. Lilla, in regards to the genealogy sheets, if you are sending them to Logan for baptisms, you can have them sent from there to the Index Bureau for checking if the postage is left with the sheets. Have the Index Bureau send them to the Salt Lake Temple unless you want them back so more of you can do some work on them. The main thing is to get the work done and not lose the sheets. All the rest of the sheets that you haven't got are in the Temple. I wish I were there too. Well, give my love to all the family. Write when you can. Father."
Dan was very much concerned about getting the genealogy done during the last few years of his life. He continually encouraged his children to be active in getting the work done. In his last letter to the children he said, "I have had my prayers answered many times and have been blessed in many ways in the work of the gospel especially while Roy and Mattie were on their missions. We have had many experiences, hardships and pleasures. We reared eleven of our twelve children here, and now they are all married and have been sealed in the House of the Lord. I feel the Lord has blessed us all our lives."
Dan and Martha came back on the bus to Blackfoot a few days before Thanksgiving in 1939. The family was planning to be together for a big Thanksgiving dinner at Reva’s home. Reva, Vera and Lilla were together preparing things. They sang the song, "That Silver-haired Daddy of Mine" for their father. They popped some popcorn and he was enjoying himself and seemed to be feeling fine, then later in the day he began to feel worse again, and they decided they should go directly back to Salt Lake. They boarded the bus and returned to Salt Lake.
It was a very hard ride back to Salt Lake on the bus. They went back to the hotel where they had been living. The next morning he was examined by the doctor and was bleeding inwardly. The doctor wanted him to go to the hospital but he wanted to wait until after Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving he seemed to be feeling better.
Roy and his wife, Lilla, brought dinner with them. They enjoyed each other very much. The next morning he ate the breakfast Martha fixed him, then he passed peacefully away. Martha was alone with him. Roy, Dan and Leo were soon with her. Martha was stunned. She had lost her sweetheart she had loved for so long.
The children remembered advice he had given to them, "Daddy warned us not to be like him and say things in anger that we would regret the next minute. He wanted us to build a better relationship with our husbands and wives. He was a wonderful Daddy and a friend besides. We are looking forward to seeing our parents in Eternity...if we can only live well enough.