A Life Story of Heber Murdock -Compiled April 2006 by granddaughter Kristine Murdock
Contributor: Hilljr Created: 11 months ago Updated: 11 months ago
Heber Murdock was born on Thursday December 12, 1889 in St. John's Apache, Arizona. His parents, John Heber Murdock and Mary Elvira Gallagher Murdock had left the Heber Valley on September 3, 1884 for a colonizing mission for the LDS Church.
At the time they arrived in Apache County, it was mostly a lawless land. The Gentiles, had everything their way. They elected their own men and had the Mexicans vote according to the way they wished. John Heber Murdock was a man that was not afraid to say what he thought so he started to talk and stir up the rest of the Mormons for better conditions.
While living there, the family raised fine, crops, bought a nice home, made many friends and helped to spread the Mormon Doctrine.
After the Murdock's had been in Arizona for 6 years, John Heber realizing his wife's health had become very poor, decided they should leave Arizona and take her back to Utah, In October 1890, they had arrived back to their home in Heber.
October 22, 1891, Heber's mother died while giving birth to a stillborn baby boy. This left their father John Heber to raise 7 children, with Heber the youngest not quite 2 years old.
Time passed and on December 4, 1895, Heber's father married Emily Bond in the LDS Temple in Salt Lake City. Together they would have 6 children. This would give Heber 4 half sisters, and 2 half brothers in addition to his other brother and 5 sisters.
The Murdock's lived in the family home that originally belonged to Heber's Grandfather Joseph Stacy Murdock. (115 E 300 N, Heber, Ut) It is here Heber lived, worked and attended school.
As Heber grew older, he began to notice girls. He was especially interested in one beautiful young lady by the name of Effie Ophelia Morton. She lived in nearby Midway. They began to date. Effie thought he was a fine looking young man. She thought he was a great boyfriend because he would bring her chocolates. They went to many social events and dances and soon decided they would marry.
On June 23, 1909 Heber and Effie were married in the Salt Lake Temple. They went to Lagoon on their honeymoon. At that time Effie's parents lived in nearby Kaysville.
Heber continued to work for his father on the farm. Money was scarce, and Effie knew she was going to have a baby, so Heber decided to make some extra money by going to work at the Mountain Lake Mine, which was outside of Midway in Snake Creek Canyon.
He had only worked there for a few months when he was seriously injured at the mine. The accident happened in September of 1909. He was working in the main tunnel when the accident happened. Heber was working the last shift when he picked into some dynamite left from a missed hole. It exploded in his face, his eyes. His face and hands were blown full of rocks and dirt. A sharp rock shattered his chin and almost cut his wind pipe. They took him to Provo to the hospital. Dr. Aird told the family that he would never see again. Heber proved them wrong, he was able to see fine, and never wore glasses.
Their first son Heber Morton (Mort) Murdock was born on April 23, 1910 at the home of his grandparents John and Maria Morton in Kaysville, Utah.
Their second son, Daniel (Dan) Stirling Murdock was born in Heber City at the home of his grandfather, John Heber Murdock. When Dan was 3 months old, they moved to the little farm at the Y, intersection of Hwy 40 & 189 in Heber.
On January 4, 1916 in Heber City, a daughter, Mary Afton Murdock was born. Effie was excited to finally have a girl around the house, as she had grown up in a family of many brothers.
On October 29, 1919 Heber was able to purchase the farm in Heber for $3,790.00. The farmhouse was only 2 rooms. It was constructed from an old grainery and a small shop. It was complete with stove, mirror, wash stand, round table, beds, pantry, upside down wallpaper and a center pole to prevent the roof from caving in. It certainly wasn't a palace, but the Murdock's made the best of it.
The following August 27, 1920 their son John H. Murdock was born. Effie wanted to be close to her mother during the birth, so she traveled to Kaysville. It was their in her mother's home that little John H. was born.
Heber, Effie and their children loved life on their little farm. It was hard work, but they also made time for fun. Heber loved to entertain and make people laugh. He loved being in plays, reciting poetry, clowning around, and spoiling all of the animals on his farm. It is during these years that Heber's children would often look back at all of the fond memories of life at the farm on the Y. These were years the Murdock family would forever cherish, for little did they know life was to be short for Heber.
On Tuesday morning, April 8, 1930, Heber was out tending to his chores on the farm. He was going to water a Jersey Bull that belonged to the Block Association. Effie was busy preparing breakfast and kept calling for Heber to come. When he didn't show up, she sent their son Dan to look for him. Dan found his father pinned up next to a log. The bull had trampled and crushed Heber to death. Dan was able to grab the chain on the bull and tie him back up. Mort was away at work and Mary and John were still in bed asleep.
He was brought into the house, Dr. Wherritt was called, but there was nothing he could do. The doctor said it looked like the bull had broken every bone in his body. The funeral was held on the 10th of April.
After Heber's death the farm had to be sold. On August 30, 1930 the farms and it's property was sold at auction to William C. Crook, the highest bidder for $7,655.00. 74 and 13/160 acres and 50 shares of Wasatch Irrigation water and 20 shares of extension.
Heber was gone, the farm was gone, and the family would try to survive on their own without their wonderful, funny and loving father.
Mountain Lake Mine Accident -Excerpt from Interview with Son H. Morton Murdock, taped 5-18-1988
Contributor: Hilljr Created: 11 months ago Updated: 11 months ago
(Photo Mountain Lake Mine Bunkhouse, 1909 Snake Creek Canyon, above Midway, Utah. Left Rear: Hugh Jacobs, Will Witt (boss), Clark Bronson, Unknown, Front left: Archie Sellers, Heber Murdock (with horn) Fred Sondregger
"I remember very well my mother telling us about the time my father was blasted in the mine. That was just a little while before I was born. That day he hesitated about going into the mine, according to the stories that I've been told, but he did, he decided to go.
He picked into a missed hole and that blew all the rocks and everything into his face. They hauled him out of the mine, one man carried him over his shoulder and they took him down to Midway in a wagon. they had a "white top" they called them in those days and they hauled him to Provo.
In those days I don't know of any medications that would alleviate the pain and he had to suffer all the way down there. Now there is a great deal of credit that needs to be given to Dr. Aird. He wired his jaws back together with silver wire I understand. The only thing that you could tell is he had a deep scar that ran down his chin. His face was filled with granite rocks and when they pulled his teeth years later, there were still pieces of granite rock in his jaws.
Now Dr. Aird told the family that he was going to be blind. There was no chance of him ever seeing. There were a lot of prayers said in his behalf and when they took the bandages off, he could see very well. My father lived to be 41 years old, and as I remember he could shoot well and I don't remember him ever wearing glasses and he could read well.
This mine was located in Snake Creek Canyon, just above Midway. It was called the Mountain Lake Mine and it was operated by Jessie Knight, and I might say this too, the only compensation he got from this injury was they paid the hospital bill. Uncle Will Witt was the boss, Aunt Millie Witt's husband, Heber's brother in law.
He hadn't worked at the mine very long. He had on a double wool shirt they said the rocks went through his clothes. He had a rubber coat on and the rocks went right against his garments underwear and never penetrated.
The thing is Dr. Aird said that it was a miracle that he could see. He knew because he is the one that dug the granite rocks out of his eyes. He couln't believe that he could see. He was quite a surgeon in those days. My dad said his jaw was wired together with silver wire and that wire stayed with him all his life.
Mountain Lake Mine Accident - Excerpt from letter written by his wife Effie Ophelia Morton Murdock to her children, grandchildren 4-1-1977
Contributor: Hilljr Created: 11 months ago Updated: 11 months ago
Copies of this letter were given to Effie's children and grandchildren. At the date of the letter, April 1, 1977, she was almost 82 years old.
"I would like to tell you about a wonderful miracle that happened in our family. I think I have now told it to you often enough to let you know how thankful I have been all these years. I don't talk about it much, I get too emotional and start to cry, and i don't cry pretty. I have tried to let my Heavenly Father know how thankful I have always been. I know you have heard this before, but I don't want to you to ever forget it, so I will tell it to you again. I want your children to know too.
Your father and I were married June 23, 1909 in the Salt Lake Temple. Your father worked the rest of the summer until early fall, about the middle of October for his father. We had no money as per usual and I knew I was going to have a baby. We decided that he should get a job and work through the winter. His brother in law Will Witt was the manager of the Mountain Lake Mine in Snake Creek Canyon, the mine was owned by Jessie Knight of Provo, so he had no trouble getting the job.
He had been working about 2 weeks. He came down to see me over the long change. When his leave was up, I drove him up the canyon as far as I could, in a one seat black top buggy that your Grandfather (John Heber) owned. I drove a blind horse named Peggy, you children all remember Peggy. I used to drive her often, she was so easy to guide, just a touch of the reins. Your father was to go on the midnight shift. We started about noon, when we got to the lane between Heber and Midway it started to snow. By the time we started up the canyon it was snowing quite hard. When we got as far as we could go your father turned the horse and buggy around and started me back down the canyon and he went the rest of the way on foot.
When he got to the mine he was soaking wet. One of the miners, Jake Stills loaned him a heavy navy blue double breasted shirt with big white buttons around the double breast. They were extra heavy and thick. The miners and the men that worked outdoors in the cold wore them. I don't think you have ever seen one, that was the last one I ever saw. I don't know what happened to it. I wish I could have kept it. I know no one could ever have worn it again. They had only been in the mine a short time when your father picked into a part of a missed hole. The mine had a bad name. There had been quite a few accidents since it started. Several men had been hurt. They did not seem to be able to count the charges, whether they were full or half charges. Two men were blinded and some hurt. Ern Dayton and Eliza Watkins, you remember them. A short time after your father's accident, Uncle Will's brother Jim was killed and some more men hurt. The mine closed down. I don't know if men were afraid to work in it or if it just petered out.
The dynamite exploded and blew dirt, rock and gravel in your father's face and hands. They had no way to get him down the canyon, the only vehicle they had there was a small dump cart with a seat and two wheels. They telephoned the livery stable to send up a white top with a bed in to come up the canyon as far as they could and they would meet them with the cart. It must have been very terrifying to them all. Jack Witt drove the cart and held your father in with some of the the other men trying to steady the cart over the boulders and keep it from tipping in the dark with only the miners carbide lamps on their hats to show the way in the dark and storm.
After they put him on the bed in the white top, he had to lie on his stomach with his arms under his head. He had a big sharp granite rock against his windpipe that choked him when he turned on his back.
When they got to Midway they turned onto the Charleston road and took him to Provo to the Aird Hospital. When they started to clean him up and took the rock away from his throat, Dr. Aird said if it had gone a 16th of an inch farther it would have cut his windpipe and killed him. When they took his shirt off they found it peppered and cut full of holes. Not one rock had gone thru his garments. The only cut he had on his body was a place between where his garment was tied. But his face and hands were full of dirt and gravel. You cannot tell me your garments are not a protection if they are worn right.
Will Witt got word to your grandfather (John Heber). There were not very many telephones in Heber at that time. The telephone office, doctors offices, dentist offices, livery stable and a very few others. Your grandfather did not tell me until the next morning. Early in the morning he called a special prayer circle and they prayed for him. Many, many prayers were said for him. Later in the day your grandfather and I went to Provo on the Heber Creeper Train. Jack Witt met us at the hospital. He had taken care of everything. He was so good to me.
When I saw your father I nearly fainted. His head and hands were swathed in bandages, his head was completely covered. the bandages wrapped around and around. He looked like a mummy. The Dr. told us he was sure that he would loose his eyesight. He thought we had better know what to expect. He said as badly as he was hurt, with the rock and gravel and concussion he could not give us any hope that he would ever see.
I stayed with him while he was in the hospital, it seemed quite a while. I went in the morning and stayed until night. He had a private room. The mine paid the doctors and hospital, no compensation, we were ignorant of the law, we did not know we could have sued.
I always blamed Will Witt. He was always looking out for the mine's interest. The doctors and nurses were good to me. I guess they felt sorry for me, that I would have a blind husband to take care of the rest of his life and we were both so young.
I was pretty sick, I was afraid to have the bandages taken off, I was afraid not to have them off. It seemed forever before they took them off. The morning when the Dr. darkened the room and took the bandages off and your father told him he could see. The doctor could hardly believe him. Your father said "you don't think I would joke about anything as serious as this". The doctor said "It is a miracle."
I cannot tell you how grateful, how thankful and how happy I was. I have been so grateful to my Heavenly Father that he blessed your father that he could see you children. You know that your father never wore glasses as long as he lived.
His jaw was wired together with a silver wire. You children never saw him without the deep scar on his chin. He had a very nice chin. His grandchildren never saw their grandfather."