Contributor: Ted L Jensen Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
Recollections of my Father, Elva Staples
and remembered incidents of farm and home life experiences
By: Orson Sylvan StaplesAugust 14, 1998
My father, Elva Staples was born June 08, 1886 in Mesa, Maricoapa County, Arizona. He was the fourth child and third son of Susan Hawley and George Staples, Junior. They were the parents of ten children: 5 boys and 5 girls. George Asa was the firstborn, then Ernest William, Mary Ellis, Elva, Myrtle Joy, John Bert and Lauraette. Also, Arvilla, Zella (died in infancy), and Leo.
George and Susan settled in Inverury, (now Central Valley). In 1875, William Morrison, a probate judge from Richfield was called to lay out the townsite. He had the privilege of naming the new town. He called it Inverury, which was the name of the town in Scotland he came from. In 1874 Henry Staples was among the first settlers. Also, Asa S. Hawley, William A. Stewart, Barnard H. Greenwood, William F. Porter and William L. Marble, among others.
The first homes were small shacks or dugouts with a path through the tall greasewood bushes leading from one dwelling to another.
At the time George and Susan Staples moved to Inverury, about 1887-1888, many better homes were built out of rock and adobe bricks.
Elva Staples received his early education in the local school and later attended Brigham Young Academy in Provo for a short time. He returned home to operate his farm. It was about this time in his life he purchased a Sears motorcycle. He enjoyed riding it.
Elva met and courted Delilah Washburn of Monroe, Utah. They were married April 05, 1920 in Junction, Piute County, Utah. Elva was nearly 35 and Delilah was almost 20 years of age. They lived in a small wood-frame house about one block west and one block north from Main Street. The house consisted of three small rooms. The interior walls were tung-and-groove wood or “wainscoting” from floor to ceiling. This was attractive and fashionable during this time period. The wood floors were varnished.
Elva and Delilah lived across the street west from Elva’s parents. We lived in the house until I was about age three. We then moved into the large house on Main street.
Our old house was later purchased by Bert Staples’ father, Asa Staples. Moving the house involved using two horse teams, positioning huge logs underneath for “skids” while the four horses pulled the house down the main street to Asa’s feedyards. It was used for a storage shed/granary. It is still there. We have taken photographs of it.
My father was quite conscientious and very involved with his farming and livestock operation, spending many hours working; having limited time with his growing family. The older boys helped him with many farm chores and they worked together. The family was together at mealtime. The boys went with Dad to do the ordinary farm chores such as feeding sheep and livestock, watering farmland, etc. We were going from home to four different farming areas. We spent a lot of time traveling back and forth with a horse team and wagon hauling hay, beets and grain, etc. The work seemed endless!
Father had about 47 acres of pastureland, of which 5 acres was planted in sugar beets. The farm was northeast of our house, down by Half-Moon Pond. He also had 45-50 acres of farmland west from town which he planted in sugar beets, corns, hay and grain and a few rows of russet potatoes for our own use. He grazed sheep on the pastureland during the summer and fed the lambs on corn silage, hay and grain through the winter months. He sold the fat lambs in the spring.
Dad purchased 300-400 lambs to feed, plus we had about 50 of our own lambs. Dad sold the lambs each year to pay taxes, installments on his farmland and other debts. We never ate lamb meat. We did have plenty of pork and chicken, garden vegetables, fruit, milk and always plenty of homemade bread.
At age 5 or 6 we began weeding and thinning beets. Mom did a lot of the “blocking” or thinning of the beet plants. This method consisted of thinning out plants and leaving a little hill or mound around one, single beet plant. Plants were about 8-10 inches apart, and one beet could grow large for good yield. Some beets would weight 6-7 pounds or larger at harvest time.
We would crawl on our hands and knees along the rows, thinning out the excess beet plants, leaving one plant per hill. We wore denim knee pads stuffed with cotton that Mom had made for us to protect our knees.
In the fall of the year, at harvest time, Dad had a team of three horses that he attached to a beet digger. He went through the rows digging up the large sugar beets. Both boys and girls followed along behind using a beet knife, which was about 12-15 inches long with a sharp hook on the end. We used the hook to pick up the beet, grab it with the other hand and whack off the green top. We tossed the beets along the furrow to hand-load them into the beet wagon. When the wagon was loaded, Dad took the load to the Nibley beet dump station to be weighed and loaded into open train cars. Nibley station was a triangular piece of land south as you turn off Highway 89 to Central. It was a busy place at harvest time.
After the beets were harvest time, Dad turned our sheep on the farmland to eat the remainder of beets tops, etc. Everything was utilized.
Vance and I took turns going with Dad to irrigate the farms and crops. It was a night water turn beginning about 6 o’clock p.m. until 6:00 a.m. the following morning. We walked along the full length of the Richfield Irrigation ditch about one and one-half miles removing dams so the water could run in our ditch. The water stream was quite reduced for about an hour - until it reached our pasture. After the water was regulated, we could rest a while in the car. When irrigating all day or night, we took food and water. Dad would rest when the water was regulated. The water master turned off the flow of water at the designated time, then we returned home to sleep a few hours.
The typical attire for work day was blue denim overalls and leather work shoes/boots. Dad wore a straw hat during the hot weather. When he went to Richfield for needed supplies he would bring home a sack of hard candy.
For many years Dad was Secretary-Treasurer for the Central Threshing Company and held the same position for Central Waterworks. He made out the payroll for the hired seasonal workers and paid the bills by check. He spent many night hours, some well past midnight doing bookkeeping and keeping accurate records. He as up early the next morning about five o’clock to once again begin his endless work. I slept on a day couch in the living room, so I know he kept late hours.
Father was about 6 foot 1 inch in height and was a lean 170 pounds. He had dark brown, wavy hair and hazel eyes, as I recall. He was very intelligent. Dad seldom lost his temper and didn’t use bad language. He was known throughout the valley for his honesty and integrity. I recall he attended Priesthood meeting every Thursday evening.
My parents purchased a dark blue Chandler, 4-door sedan automobile. It had a canvas top, heavy fabric curtains at the windows - which were made of an artificial glass. The car had a wooden steering wheel and the wheels had wooden spokes. The wheel rims were about 28 inches in diameter. It was the vehicle in which we traveled to Manti Temple, September 09, 1925. This was the day set aside for the endowments, marriage and sealing ceremony of us three children (Vance, Orene and me) to our parents. I would have been close to age three.
Our Uncle Chris Christensen and wife, Myrtle, (my Dad’s sister), traveled with their three young daughters in their Ford Model T vehicle to have their temple ordinances performed the same day.
When we arrived at the Manti Temple, our parents had their endowments performed while all the children waited in a special room. Later we were taken to our parents to have the sealing ordinance performed.
I recall seeing the bright sculptured oxen positioned under the baptismal font. I also recall the room where we waited. It had white painted wainscoting part way up the tall wall with blue paint above this.
At age five I went with my family on vacation to Grand Canyon in our Chandler automobile. Aunt Myrtle and Uncle Chris and their family followed in the Ford Model T. It was a very long trip.
Fishing and deer hunting were two sports Dad enjoyed for recreation. He also liked baseball. In those days they had “town” teams and played on Sunday.
One time Dad, Uncle Chris and I took our lunch and went to Clear Creek Canyon then on the Shingle Creek for a fun day of fishing. Dad and Uncle Chris were close friends. Another time we all went to Fishlake with Grandpa and Grandma Washburn in a truck they used for hauling their apples. I also went with Dad and Uncle Chris in our 1929 Model A to spend the day fishing in both Marysvale Canyon and Sevier River. We always took water and our lunch. We always enjoyed ourselves.
We often went to Fishlake and took the old Dugway road in both the Chandler and Model A autos.
Early fall - after the harvest season was over - I went with Dad to get our winter supply of wood up Flat Canyon, west from town. We took our lunch and water and left around four o’clock a.m. Three horses were harnessed to a wagon to pull the wagon up the steep hills. We had a two-handled long saw with big teeth, and also sharp axes to cut pinon and cedar logs. We slit the logs, saving all the smaller limbs for starting fires in our stoves. When we had cut enough logs for a load, we began loading the wagon. We used long chains to pull over and drag the trees down the hill, then cut them up for loading. Dad had to chain some of the larger logs to the axle under the wagon to use for “drag”, which helped slow and control the wagon on the downhill return trip.
The wagon was equipped with a foot-hand brake attached to a metal rod. Another rod was located underneath the wagon with wooden blocks lodged against the wheels to lock the wheels for breaking. The horses helped control the speed of the wagon. When we reached the bottom of the canyon we loaded the “drag” logs onto the wagon and continued on the road home with a very full load of wood for winter warmth.
Some of the men from town went together to Salina Canyon coal mine, driving their beet wagons, hauling coal for additional fuel for winter. The railroad cars which ran west from town unloaded coal for sale. We bought coal when we could afford it.
In our kitchen we had a large table which seated about ten persons. We each had our designated place. Dad sat near the east kitchen door and I sat to the left of him. Dad’s razor strap hung nearby on the wall if we became too noisy or unruly. Mother hardly ever sat down to eat with us. She was too busy serving the food and waiting on us, or caring for the baby. If you weren’t at the table at mealtime, you got leftovers - if there were any! We consumed lots of food rather quickly. Many Sundays we made our own churned ice cream. We got the ice from Uncle Chris who owned an ice house.
Several men in town, including Dad, purchased a fine stallion, which was a work horse variety. Coleman Rogers was in charge of its care. Dad had a fine brownish-grey (roan) team of work horses he did not need. He sold this team of horses to a Mr. Melborne DeMille of Monroe, Utah.
When I was in my early teens, I was with some friends east from town by the Hawley ponds or sloos. We were engaged in wading and playing in the water. We were having a great time! I lost track of the time and was late getting home, and nobody had brought the cows back home from the west pasture. Dad was quite upset with me because the cows were not home to be milked. Dad had a stick in his hand and whacked me on the rear end. I learned a “stinging” lesson from that experience. Terrill could always outrun Dad so he escaped getting whacked.
As I grew older, Dad’s health began to deteriorate from many years of hard labor. He had lived with a heart ailment all his life and this was to be the cause of his death. Dr. J. G. McQuarrie - in Richfield - told Mom it was a miracle Dad lived as long as he did. There was a time Dad spent four months in bed from a bleeding ulcer. This was four years before his death. He was very weak and had poor health from that time until he had his fatal heart attack.
I had earned enough school credit hours my senior year to stay home that spring to help Dad plant his crops. I also prepared and planted a large vegetable garden and cared for it all summer.
Dad died August 03, 1941, at age 55 from heart failure at home. It was Sunday and Elva was enjoying a dish of ice cream when he had the heart attack.
Dad accepted his role in life. He was a dedicated worker, took pride in his family, and caring for his horses, livestock and raising good crops. He was a loving, caring father and much admired by our Mother.
To pay tribute and honor to him, I have tried to live by the good example he set for all of us.
I want to thank my wife, Marjorie for encouraging me to tell this story. She has been diligent in jogging my memory and getting many details I had almost forgotten. She has enjoyed this project and hopes the family will enjoy my story about my Dad.