Autobiography of Belva Hatfield Morton Johnson--Birth to 1936
Contributor: KarenS Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
Copied from a manuscript handwritten by her daughter Leora. There was a note at the end where Leora said to Ermel Morton, her brother. “I started writing this for mother about 20 years ago. I would like it back, as I don’t have another copy.” Ermel had a Xerox copy in his files, not the original.
I, Belva Hatfield, daughter of William K. Hatfield and Lelia Tuckett, was born February 4, 1892 in Springville, Utah. My father’s parents came from New York and settle in Manti. My mother’s father came from London, England and her mother from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Annie Rosabelle was the name father picked for me, but mother wanted me named Belva after a little 4-year old girl in Pleasant Grove, Belva Ballantyne, who had such pretty curls.
The house in which I was born now stands just east of the Springville 1st Ward. It was a 2-roomed brick house built by my father, who was a mason by trade.
I was not a strong baby as I lacked sufficient blood. I was 21 months old when my brother, William Henry, was born (October 24, 1894). When he was about a year old, mother made us each a pink sunbonnet and when she took us visiting in the buggy together, some people took us for twins, as I was so small and he so large. Mother had a patch of strawberries, so she picked a cup of berries and put them on a chair with a cup of cream and some sugar, and I ate all that I wanted. After awhile the color began coming into my cheeks and my health improved.
In December 1895, father left for a mission to Tennessee. Mother went to Salt Lake City to see him off. Two months later on February 13, 1896, my youngest brother, Charles Earnest was born. When he was 9 days old mother received word that father was coming home from his mission on account of illness. He was very sick and his mind became affected. After much praying and seeking counsel of those in authority, mother decided it would be best to rear her children alone. The church granted her a temple divorce.
The next 3 years of my life were very unsettled—going from one place to another. My mother worked wherever she could to provide for us children. Sometimes she walked 2 or 3 miles and washed on the board all day while we stayed with Grandmother Tuckett in Springville.
At one time mother went up to Alpine to Uncle Alma Iverson’s Saw Mill to cook for the workers. While she was there, her sister Carrie died from consumption. She and Carrie were very close and they had helped each other so much that mother missed her a lot. Mother came down from the Saw Mill and helped care for her sister’s children until Uncle Brig married again. Then mother went back to the Saw Mill and left me with Aunt Sadie Iverson in Manilla, a little town by Pleasant Grove.
It was here that I started to school. My teacher was Geo. (?) Ramsay. There is one incident I remember very distinctly. One day I was out playing and running when I fell down on the gravel walk and skinned the palms of both hands. Mr. Ramsay came out and picked me up and carried me into the schoolhouse. The children gathered around, and I remember how kindly he talked to me.
While I was with Aunt Sadie her children got scarlet fever and so did I. I was only 7 years old, and it left me with a bad leak in my heart.
The next winter mother lived with her parents on their homestead in Mapleton. They had lost their lovely home in Springville. They lived so far from school that I was kept out that year because of the condition my health was left in after the scarlet fever.
I had only 8 years of schooling. When I was 14, I graduated from the 8th grade in the Mapleton School on May 8, 1908. I was planning on going to high school with some money from our peach crop. We sold our peaches, but didn’t receive the money, so I had to stay home.
Mother knew a bachelor, Oscar N. Whiting who was several years older than herself, and the year we stayed with Grandpa and Grandma Tuckett, she became better acquainted with him. He had just built a 5-room brick house in Mapleton. He had 21 acres of ground and quite a number of livestock. They were married when I was 7 years old. Mother sold her home in Springville and bought 5 acres of land from Will Binks. This land joined Uncle Oscar’s.
Uncle Oscar was good to us children. We had a good home and after the three years of hardship and living here and there it seemed good to feel more settled and secure. The way was smooth again, but not for long. Within 4 years mother was a widow again.
Before Uncle Oscar died he made mother promise to marry again. She had a comfortable home and the means to support her family but due to this promise on January 6, 1910, in the Salt Lake Temple she married Edgar P. Whiting, a half brother to Uncle Oscar. He was a widower with 8 children, but one was married.
All 3 times mother was married in the temple, but she was sealed to Uncle Oscar.
In March of 1910 our combined family moved to Sugar City, Idaho and lived there for 2 summers and 1 winter. Then we returned to Mapleton. (crossed out was—and had to live in Uncle Eck’s small home as they had rented mother’s home and land.)
Mother then sold all her land but 3 ½ acres and her home. Uncle Eck sold his home and they bought 640 acres in Diamond Fork (in 1913) in Spanish Fork Canyon. It was the Davis Ranch.
Mother divided the 5 acres of land she bought from Will Binks among myself and my 2 brothers.
Courtship and Marriage
On the 4th of July 1912, mother and I went to Lindon to my cousin Eda Dittmore’s. While there I met her husband’s chum Joseph Morton. After 6 months of courtship we became engaged and on January 8, 1913 we were married in the Salt Lake Temple.
My husband’s youngest brother Robert and Harriet Newell were married the same day as we were. We four went up to Salt Lake the day before we were to be married. The train was late because its engine had frozen up coming from Eureka. Our wedding day was cold and bitter. In Salt Lake the city’s water works had frozen so there was no water or lights except where there was a private water and lighting system. The New Grand Hotel had private systems so we stayed there. We paid $2.00 for our room.
Sadie Mendenhall and her husband from Canada and her sister Retta who was my friend and schoolmate happened to be going thru the temple the day we were married. Retta’s husband while on a mission was hit and killed by a train just one year to this our wedding day and she knew of no better place to spend the day than in the temple.
That night I was very tired. Robert and Hattie went to the show, but my husband and I went to bed.
Before we were married we rented two rooms from Willis Johnson in Mapleton. It was just across the road from mother. We had bought a new $150 stove and some other furniture and we were ready to start housekeeping. His mother and my mother gave us some bottled fruit to start out with.
We surely were happy. I mention this because so many years of my life were filled with troubles and sickness and the struggles of life.
Mother gave us a wedding supper, but because of my brother Will’s sickness it had to be postponed until a week after we were married. A big crowd came. We had so many relatives from out of town and they had to stay all night as those were horse and buggy days, that we had to make beds on the floors, put some in our two rooms, and send some to Aunt Frant’s and others to the neighbors.
My husband’s father gave him 5 acres of land before we were married, but he sold it so he would have some money to get married on, and with the rest of it we started to build a 4-room house on the land just south of mother’s that she had given me. We started to build in March and by July we had finished 2 rooms enough so we could move into them. My husband Joe did most of the work. We lived here just 2 weeks when my husband got a job harvesting for my Uncle John Tuckett in Canyon Creek, Idaho. That winter we worked for Terry’s who ran a “half-way-house”. They had a store, a hotel, and a post-office all together. I helped Sister Terry in the house and my husband helped Brother Terry with the chores.
While in Idaho we got the fever of homesteading so we took up 160 acres, built a log room with a dirt roof and dirt floor. We broke up 16 acres, planted it in barley, fenced 80 acres, and made us a garden. We had to build a high fence around the garden to keep out the neighbor’s pigs.
In July mother came out to get me as I was going to have a baby and she could not stand to see me so far away and out in the wilderness, so to speak.
Our first child, Ermel Joseph Morton was born October 1, 1914. When he was two weeks old I came close to dying. They sent a telegram to my husband and he dropped everything and came. Our folks fasted and prayed for me, and I gradually grew better. In December we moved back into our own home.
On December 16, 1919 our daughter Leora was born, and on November 19, 1923 another baby girl was born to us, but she didn’t live.
As I was sickly when a child no one expected me to live long. They thought I would never grow to be a woman and get married. And when I married some told me they didn’t think I would be able to have children. I have had 3 children, 1 boy and 2 girls, but my last one did not live. And, oh, the prayers and the pleading I have made unto my Heavenly Father that I might have my health and children. I feel the Lord has greatly blessed m. Altho I was not permitted to keep my last child, I feel it is better to have had and lost than never to have had at all.
My husband was gifted as an artist. He painted many pictures for the pleasure of it, but he had the farm as a means of a livelihood. We bought us a 20 ½ acre farm 1 ½ miles south of our home. We farmed, raised chickens and berries—especially dewberries. We had the largest, and for many years, the only dewberry patch in Mapleton.
On December 10, 1927 my mother died and about 2 ½ years later my husband passed away. In the spring of 1930 he planted the crops and then he went up to Salt Lake to see the Centennial Pageant Commemorating the one hundredth anniversary of the organization of our church. On April 30th he came home and went to bed to never get up again. He died on May 12, 1930.
At the time of his death Mapleton was putting in the city water. They had dug a trench in front of our place, but they filled it up for the day of his funeral.
Soon after the funeral my relatives, friends, and neighbors turned out to cultivate, block and thin our beets. Jim Wiscombe and his boys dug a trench and put the water in for me. I paid for some materials and they fixed my corral fences and did several other things, but they would take nothing for their labor.
Our boy was only 15 when his father died, but with my brother Will’s help he ran our farm until his second year of college.
While I was still going to school I was a teacher in primary, and later I was assistant secretary for several years. In mutual I was librarian. After I was married and Ermel was a few months old, I did much work in the Relief Society. I was assistant secretary and a visiting teacher. Later I was made the first counselor to Nina Harmer. This was during the time of the World War [World War I] and how well I remember all the sewing we did for the Red Cross. We planned layettes, made shirts, children’s clothing, sterilized bandages, and many other things. At this time the Relief Society introduced a new way of gathering funds for relief, and it was no easy task to convert people to it.
I was registered in the Daughters of Utah Pioneers for 8 years. I was 2nd lieutenant for awhile. Later, I registered again until in September 1933 I moved to Provo as my son Ermel was going to the B.Y.U. He was a sophomore. During his freshman year, he batched with some boys from salt Lake City.
Some thought I should have my son stay in Mapleton and run the farm, but his heart wasn’t in farming. In his patriarchal blessing it said he would receive a goodly education, and I wanted to help to see he had it. President Harris was very kind to us. We had to raise the $30 tuition fee for the first quarter, but after that Ermel was able to work for his tuition. During his sophomore year he worked for his and his sister’s tuition. She was attending the B.Y. High. It was a wonderful opportunity for her. Reed Smoot’s grandson was in her class as well as the children of doctors and lawyers.
In the spring of 1936 when Ermel was ready to graduate from college, he was asked to go on a mission.
Belva Hatfield Morton History 1938 to 1941
Contributor: KarenS Created: 7 months ago Updated: 7 months ago
Handwritten by Ermel Morton. It is not evident if this was dictated by Belva with the help of her son Ermel. The details that are remembered also don’t sound like those that Ermel would write about her so it appears that she did have input in the facts recorded..
We (James Arthur Johnson and Belva Hatfield Morton) were married June 8, 1938 in the Manti Temple. Uncle Ernest took us to Manti in his car, and Aunt Leila, Leora, Arthur, and Bent went with us. After we were married we ate our lunch on the lawn of the Temple Grounds and went to see Clarence Whiting for a few minutes. Clarence thought it was Leora and Arthur H. who had got married, when we said we had come down and gotten married.
When we reached Mapleton about 6 p.m. Virla and Elna had a lovely supper all prepared for us—fried chicken, strawberry shortcake, etc. Then we came to Provo in our car and the following Saturday night Aunt Leila, Aunt Josie, and Uncle Ernest gave us a shower. We received a lot of lovely presents, and we decided we couldn’t take all of them and our family home at once. They asked me what I was going to take and I said, “My husband, of course.”
At the time we were living at 131 South 2nd East Street in Provo. My husband, Uncle Arthur, was selling life insurance for United Family Benefit Society. I was trying to oversee the apartment house, the farm, and home at the Mapleton. About a year after we were married, Uncle Willie wanted us to take the farm back. That was in the fall of 1939 when Ermel returned from his mission. He arrived in Provo October 6. We went to Salt Lake the evening of the 5th to meet him, but he couldn’t come home with us on account of the Book of Mormon manuscript which he had to deliver to the Church Authorities.
In the spring of 1940 Uncle Arthur and I went to Mapleton to take over the farm. During the winter of 1939-40 he worked on the Joseph Smith building at B.Y.U. which was then under construction. Bent went down to work at the C.C.C. camp also during the winter. After a short while at the camp he took sick with the rheumatism. The C.C.C. doctors wanted to send him to California to cure him, but we kept him in Provo. Dr. Thurman, a chiropractor, treated him and he finally got well.
WE moved to Mapleton and lived in one room a short time until school was out. Then the boys and all of us moved and lived in the two north rooms. Leora, however, stayed in Provo until a short time before July 3 when she got married to Joseph D. Gertsch of Midway. She came over to work in the cherries and fruit to get money for things needed for the wedding.
Aunt Leila died on June 20th while we were living there.
Russell Diamond and his family, who had been living in our home finally moved out in July and we got all our house.
During the summer of 1940 George got his ribs broken when the horse ran away with the rake.
We borrowed some money from the Farm Security and got us a team and some chickens. We also rented about 10 acres down south, west of John Holley’s Service Station. Only about 4 acres could be farmed. After a hard summer’s work we realized only a few dollars for our work. However, we had the experience. Arthur H. furnished money for the car expenses to travel with while in the transition stage of moving to Mapleton.
Because of the failure of our crops (or rather near failure) we came near to losing the farm which still had the $1800 debt on it from before the time Ermel went on his mission. However, Ermel decided to assume the payments which amounted to about $10 a month. He was going to school at BYU at the time. This was during the winter of 1940-41.
In the fall of `1940 Uncle Arthur accepted a job as janitor of the Mapleton meeting house. He received $20 a month, and the money was a great blessing for it enable us to make a go of things. He kept this job about a year.
During the Spring and Summer of 1941, Uncle Arthur worked at the janitor work and for farmers in Mapleton, doing farm work. In November that year (1941) he accepted a job to teach and take charge as principal of the school at Hatch. He taught the 4th, 5th and 6th grades.
During the winter of 1940-41 Ermel, Bent, and Arthur H. batched in Provo at 160 East Center Street. Arthur was working at the Reclamation Service. Bent and Ermel went to college. George and I stayed alone in Mapleton. George attended Springville High School.
The next summer Uncle Arthur worked at farm work. Ermel was working at John Holley’s Service Station and tending some baby chicks he raised during the summer. Leora and Joe moved to Salt Lake and Joe was working there for a contractor.
The next fall he accepted a position to teach and take charge as principal at Antimony. I planned to go down and live with him. I went down in the late fall to stay with him the rest of the winter. I had been there but two nights when I began to bleed at the nose and had a bad headache. I had to return to Mapleton as a result. The night I returned unexpectedly I found Bent and George in the midst of washing a big batch of dishes.
Uncle Arthur came home for Christmas and in March for teacher institute. At that time I met him in Salt Lake and stayed with him at a hotel for the few days he was there.