The Life Story of Elma Vance as found in The History of the Hyrum Sanford and Serena Broadbent Vance Family in Idaho, Utah, Califolrnia and Washington by Donald B. Gilchrist, 2007, pp. 127 - 133
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Elma Vance done by her son, Donald B. Gilchrist.
Elma Vance was born on August 6, 1906 in Provo, Utah while her father was on a Northern States Mission for the Church and while her mother was living at the home of her mother, Mary Jane Nuttall, and working at teaching school in the Provo area. She went with the family to Rexburg where her father taught school for a term at the Academy and then to Blackfoot, Idaho with the family where they resided in Blackfoot as well as on farms located near Wapello and Groveland, Idaho. She attended school in the Groveland School in the Blackfoot School district which is presently located on 175 North 375 West in Blackfoot. She referred to it both as a “Porterville” and as a “Groveland” school. In fact, that school is a K1-K5 grade school which she would have attended through the 5th grade. After the family moved to Blackfoot at the end of 1918, she attended the “Central School” during her 6th, 7th and 8th grade years (according to Superintendent Dewayne Wren of the Blackfoot School District who communicated such to the author during a telephone conversation on Wednesday, April 26, 2006. The written records his office sent to him confirmed what he orally communicated on the telephone). Her mother Serena indicated that she had “graduated from Junior High School” before the family left Idaho. After checking with the secretary at the present Groveland Elementary school, the author was told that the “Central School” is now called the “Blackfoot 6th Grade” and is located on Schilling Street in Blackfoot.” [This was not true and the author found out later that Elma actually attended the Central School in Blackfoot between 1919-1921.] Elma’s name showed up on the Groveland, Rose and Blackfoot 2nd Ward Membership Records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the 1909-1921 period that they lived in these communities in Bingham County. According to the Rose Ward Membership Record (see US/CAN 0007217 Film, Section 1915 - 1942, entry 84) Elma was baptized a member of the Church on 5 Dec 1914 by Thomas Barnard and confirmed on 6 Dec 1914 by John S. Bowker. It is not clear at this time that the family ever lived in Rose itself. In fact, the Rose Ward was but an enlargement of the Groveland Ward which took place in 1915. In other words, they could have remained living on the Groveland farm while attending the Rose Ward. This ordinance information mentioned in the Rose Ward records is in close agreement with the entry found in the Blackfoot 2nd Ward record (see US/CAN Film 0007206, Section 1917-1934) except the clerk there indicated that both the baptism and confirmation of Elma took place on “6 Dec 1914.” The Manavu Ward record (see US/CAN Film 0026346, entry 1029) agrees with the Blackfoot record. One of her memories at this time happened at the end of World War I. The author will relate it here along with some subsequent events which were written in her own words. As found in her “Reminiscences, p.3" from her History (see The Life Story of Elma Vance Gilchrist, by Donald B. Gilchrist, 1994), she said “In 1918 I was out topping beets when the bells began to ring and the Armistice was signed and all of the people were going down the streets and yelling and making a big to-do about the Armistice. We were wondering what it was all about when we went in and found out that it was the Armistice. We chopped the tops off of beets and piled them in piles ready to go in. . . .Things were bad in 1920-1921. Bernice, [or “Berniece” or “Berneice”] our youngest sister, was born in December, 1920 but only lived until February of 1921. I remember that many prayers were said for her that she might recover. Priesthood blessings were given and for a time she would recover. But finally Dad placed it in the hands of the Lord and she died on the 22nd of February. He drove down to Provo with her coffin [actually he might have driven to the railroad station but then he took the train to Provo] and buried her in the Broadbent plot in the Provo City Cemetery. This was Joseph Broadbents’s plot. When Dad returned , the whole family decided that it was time to return to Provo, Utah. One of the considerations was our future education possibilities and opportunities. I remember that we came back in two groups. We didn’t have money enough to all come at once and so Dad kept the boys to finish harvesting the crops and any other work that they could get and the rest of us went to Provo in 1921. I remember that we didn’t have hardly a nickle or a dime and Uncle Joseph [Broadbent] unloaded about 9 bushels of peaches at mother’s door to can, so we could begin to have things to eat. And she canned 9 bushel of peaches without any sugar. But we were glad that we had those peaches! So Dad came and he went on the salesman’s pitch again and he went part of the time to Wyoming to shear sheep. And part of the time he would try to pick up woolen goods and try to sell woolen goods, and go–I don’t remember whether it was in Idaho or places in Utah–but I know that he was trying to sell but he never could produce much more than his own living. And mother for a while took in washing. I can remember her doing that for different people but I don’t know how many. But I remember that she did. And come Christmas time sometimes it wasn’t very plentiful, but we always had things because one thing I remember was the fact that several merchants would take things that were broken a little bit and give them away, and I remember mother one time got Christmas practically like that–by the things that were given to people who cared to have them. And at that time we lived in Provo there at 568 East 6th North [This would be the home that originally belonged to Mary Jane Nuttall Broadbent, Serena’s mother.]. Then Mother and Dad rented a large house on about 4th East and 7th North and by the time that I was in my first year of college, they had 6-8 girls staying there in a 2 story home. They rented it out to the students. They had two or three friends whose girls came there. One of my friends, Beryl Jackson was there. It was hard for Mom to keep things going for a living, you know. I just remember that one year she didn’t have money enough to buy Christmas presents. And I remember in school that I made a willow basket and gave that to Mother for Christmas. I was especially happy because I had the willow basket to give to her. I had made something and she didn’t have any money to give me to spend. . . . .My Mother told me that back in Idaho, during my younger days, that I had contracted a serious case of Scarlet Fever which went on for a long period of time with several physicians treating me. This has not had any permanent consequences that I know of with the exception of the present necessity of having to wear glasses. And I needed these as I attended college (1924-1930) at Brigham Young University. Everybody in the college and high school met together for devotionals. Ezra Taft Benson was President of the student body when I was a junior in high school (1923-1924). . .So, after 3 years of high school and one Civics class I took during the summer (and had a special examination on), I had enough credits to enter college. So I never did graduate from high school! I also couldn’t run for student body offices or anything like that because I was busy working for my credits and working for my tuition. I also did not have too much time for a social life. However, I did go to the Junior Prom a couple of times when I went to college. I remember once needing a new dress when I was going to the Junior Prom. Dad told Mom that he also needed hay for the cow. And I ended up with the dress! And she said, ‘the cow lived on.’ I remember that it was Stan Pugmire that I went with and he was from Idaho.”
On p. 4 of this work she went on to say that at BYU she “. . .worked in the cafeteria . . .and helped serve lunches and do kitchen work and earn my tuition. I also worked for professors’ wives–helping them do housework. I helped professor’s wives and also Dr. Allen up at the American Fork Hospital where mother was in charge of the Elementary work for about 14 years. She had to do this, after returning from Idaho in 1921. She had been working at the Parker Elementary School in Provo up until married [female] teachers were disqualified because they had so many more teachers than they needed. So mother had to go back to school to get some more certification to teach up at American Fork at the special training school for underprivileged [i.e., specially handicapped] children. We attended the Manavu Ward in Provo. I joined with my Dad in singing on Sundays in the Ward Choir (I was an Alto). I also taught some of the classes in the Sunday School. My week-day Church activities in high school could have suffered some but I always managed to be in most of the ward and stake road shows, being fortunate enough to sing the lead with one of the “M” Men in the ward one year. I also went to most of the weekly social hour dances held in the Ladies Gym at the College. Those were fun, get acquainted times!”
She went to BYU for three years (1924-1927) and quit to go teaching. At this time she had an elementary teacher’s certificate. Her first assignment was in Emery County where she taught at the Lard School in Lawrence where she was assigned the four lower grades to teach. She stayed in Huntington where she roomed initially with Renan Miller who worked at the school in Huntington. She later stayed with Brother and Sister Jones who was the local Seminary teacher. She indicated that “some of the young men of the neighborhood came around on their horses trying to get me interested in talking with them during recess and so forth, but they got kind of discouraged because I was there to teach school and not to play with the cowboys!” She came back to BYU in 1928 in order to qualify for a complete college degree. She attended school half a day and taught at the Maeser School 2nd graders the other half of the day and took methods classes after school, Shakespeare classes at night, and part of the time a P.E. class at the Ladies’ Gymnasium. She switched to teaching the 4th graders during 1929 and taught a whole day. During this time she would take classes at night. She also went during these years to three consecutive summer schools. She indicated that “All of the money I’d earn in the winter I’d spend in the summer going to school. And I went up to Aspen Grove for the term of summer school, and Mom and I went up to camp and both went to school. She needed to renew her certificate a little more. And we camped up there in the grove. And the next summer (1929) before I graduated, I went up there and stayed in a cabin, a large cabin, with about 14 of us in the cabin. . .it ended up [with me] going to three full summer schools and I finished up in the summer. . .of August 1929. I got enough for my graduation and I signed up to teach in Iron County in high school during the fall of 1929 to June of 1930.” In fact she was given the job of teaching junior and sophomore English in Parowan and was to be the P.E. Supervisor. While living there she also served as the “Dance Director in the East Ward M.I.A. and was assisted by Marlow Topham, the West Ward assistant and partner.
She returned to BYU to attend her Baccalaureate service on June 4, 1930. She had also met and been in correspondence with Bruce Gilchrist during this time and ended up marrying him on June 6, 1930 in the Salt Lake Temple.
They soon moved to Idaho where Bruce had been teaching at Rockland High School (a little community about 10-12 miles southeast of American Falls) in Idaho in 1929. They lived at his parent’s place on a farm in Parma, Idaho during the summer and then moved their belongings to Rockland where they continued living for the next four years. He taught music, math and physical education. She soon became involved in the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association as an activity counselor and dance instructor for the first two years. Then she was called to be the YLMIA President and coached the Drama Department and put on two plays during their fourth year there. Bruce was Scout Master and had his own small dance band.
In 1935 Bruce acquired a teaching position in the Granite School District and was accepted to be a teacher there. They moved to Provo during the summer where Bruce attended summer school and Elma took a class in physical education and one in sewing where she made her first maternity dress. Their first Salt Lake Home was rented and located at 2029 South 13th East. Their first son, Donald B. Gilchrist, was born on January 16, 1935. While living there they attended the Sugar House Ward. They soon moved to 2357 Green Street and attended the Nibley Park Ward. Their second son, Richard Kent Gilchrist was born while living there on 12 June 1936 as was her third son, Jay Roger Gilchrist, who was born on October 13, 1938. The family soon moved to 959 Simpson Avenue where they purchased that house and when their last son, Stephen Vance Gilchrist, was born on 19 Sep 1943. They now lived in the Forest Dale Ward and attended Church there. All of the boys attended Forest Elementary School, Irving Junior High and South High School as well as the University of Utah where they each graduated. They also all went on missions for the LDS Church. During this time, Elma served in the choir of the Nibley Park Ward for 3 years and of the Singing Mothers; as an YLMIA Activity Counselor and as President. While in the Forest Dale Ward she served as a Ward Chorister, Relief Society Music Director and as an Activity Counselor in the Granite Stake YLMIA Presidency for two years. While living there she also served as a missionary to the California Los Angeles Mission from 1975-1977. During the time that she lived in the Forest Dale Ward, unhappily, she also underwent a divorce from her husband, Bruce Gilchrist, which was finalized on 8 Oct 1960. His constant working at two jobs–teaching during the day time and playing in dance bands at night--left little time to nourish the marriage and husband-wife relationships. In fact, the author had recently gotten married and had previously witnessed the disintegrating situation for a couple of years. His mother suffered a great deal from this experience since he initiated the divorce and showed little interest on really seeking a reconciliation. In fact, he was to write in 2001 in his own Autobiography (p. 45) that “The biggest failure of my life was in marriage. It was not my wife’s fault; it was my fault.” After her divorce and the return from her mission, she served as the Educational Counselor in the Relief Society of the Forest Dale Ward. Soon, the ward boundaries changed and she attended the Lincoln Ward in the Granite Stake where she taught the Compassionate Service lessons for two years; served as the Relief Society Chorister and was appointed the Chairman and Representative of the Special Interest Senior Group of the Lincoln Ward. She finally had to be released from her Relief Society responsibilities in 1988 because of the advancing deterioration of her eyesight due to Macular Degeneration.
Elma went back to teaching school in the Granite School District in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1955. She did so in order to support her boys who were getting ready to go on missions. She finished her teaching career at the Roosevelt Elementary School in 1972 teaching a group of fourth graders. One of the great experiences of Elma’s life during this time was the trip she took with the International Singing Mothers to England and Europe just prior to the dedication of the Hyde Park Chapel in England in February, 1961 and the subsequent touring of different venues in the British Isles for the next 8 days as well as a trip to Europe (proper). The Singing Mothers was a group sponsored by the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was one of only two ladies in the Granite Stake who were among only 50 members from the United States to be asked to participate in this undertaking. The leader of this choir was Florence Jepperson Madsen, a music instructor and head of the music program, under whose direction mother had trained when she attended BYU. Auditioned in October of 1960, she was among those selected for this honor. After taking the Queen Mary to England, they began rehearsing with 200 other Singing Mothers from Wales, Scotland, Ireland and the rest of England, in the Hyde Park Chapel and performed there during the dedication of that building by President David O. McKay on February 26, 1961. They subsequently presented their programs at Prince Albert Hall in London; the Manchester Free trade Hall, the Nottingham Albert Hall, the Sophia Gardens Pavilion in Cardiff, Wales, the Newcastle City Hall, and at St. Andrews Hall in Glasgow, and in Belfast, Ireland. These concerts were jointly sponsored by the Relief Society, and the missions of the Church in this part of the world. President Bell Spafford of the Relief Society was present as was Alvin R. Dyer, President of the European Mission, President T. Bowring Woodbury of the British Mission and President James Cullimore of the Central British Mission. Accompanying the choir was Tabernacle Choir organist, Frank Asper. She then went with a group of sisters touring Amsterdam, Germany and Switzerland. At Switzerland in Berne they met with President Walter Trauffer and his wife Hermine (old Granite Stake associates) who were now the President and Matron at that temple. They arranged for a special temple session for the sisters. When it was over they all went to the Zollikosen Ward, adjacent to the temple, and put on a special concert for all the Swiss saints in attendance. They then traveled to Lucerne, Switzerland and to many cities in Italy, including Como, Genoa and Milan. They also traveled to Avignon, Lyons, and Paris, France and finally returned by steamer to Dover and by coach to London, England on March 21. A Pan American airplane then flew them back to the United States. She arrived in Salt Lake City on March 24th and was ready for a rest. About the trip she said, “I felt honored to be one of the only two people from Granite Stake to be chosen to represent the Church.”
Elma’s health continued to deteriorate. By 1992 she had to leave her home and finally died at the Woodland Care Center on March 1, 1994 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her viewing took place at the Wasatch Lawn Mortuary on Friday, March 4, 1994. Her funeral with a viewing held previously to the actual services, took place at the Granite Stake Tabernacle in the Lincoln Ward Chapel located in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah on Saturday, March 5, 1994. Her son Richard Kent Gilchrist gave the family prayer. He and his wife Suzette, took care of the vocal solos and prelude and postlude music. Her sons, Don and Stephen were the main family speakers. Her interment was held at the Provo City Cemetery where her son Jay Roger Gilchrist gave the grave dedication.
Perhaps it is best to end this biographical sketch with a testimony which Elma gave on October 23, 1988 when she was finishing up her main Church service as the music leader in the Lincoln Relief Society. She said, “I know that God lives and expects us to work and purify our hearts and our thought and minds. I know that his only begotten son Jesus Christ died for our sins and is our Savior. I know that God has restored the fullness of his gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith and that we are blessed with a prophet today so that we can serve one another for the purest and best of reasons–the pure love of Christ. I would like to express my thanks to all who have helped me serve since coming to Lincoln Ward: To Reah Wilcken (super!) and to help from Estenna Wilson when I was chorister in Forest Dale and she was in the stake. To the officers and teachers and to all of you who have become my friends while exhorting your praise and thanks to our Heavenly Father through song. I wish Sister Wright [the new song leader] success in her calling. I also appreciate my 4 sons who are each and all serving in their stakes as stake clerks, High Councilmen, Executive Secretaries or as part of bishoprics, and are now busy sending or receiving home sons who have served or are now serving on missions. Whether our service is to our fellow men or to our God, it is the same. To which I bare testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”