Lewis Taylor, written by his son Lorin Bean Taylor, 1995
Contributor: BarbaraLeishman Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Lewis Taylor was the third child of John Emerson Taylor and Edith Alice Henderson. He was born on a warm early summer day in 1889 (June 17, to be exact) at the home of his father and mother in Clifton, Oneida County (later to be known as Franklin County), Idaho.
At the time of his birth, Idaho was still a territory; it was not until the next year that it became a state. His father and mother had come to Clifton (to the Idaho end of Cache Valley) to homestead a farm, along with a few of their friends and relatives and others.
When the early Mormon pioneers arrived in Salt Lake City they found the weather and climate very difficult to conquer so it could provide a living for them. It was just as difficult in Idaho, but our ancestors were truly of pioneer stock and they did make the earth yield a harvest as wages for some very difficult work including plowing, harrowing, planting, irrigating, harvesting, and, oh yes, weeding regularly during the growing season. Also, at that time, the farmers had to take care of their livestock including cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, horses, etc. Without these animals they could not have been able to succeed, because these animals provided much of their food as well as the horses providing the power to operate the farm equipment. As I look back I see where our forebearers were self sufficient in most things enough that they seldom needed to go to town or even to the village store.
As we were growing up there were not very many events that occurred in Dad's early life that he told us about. One thing, however, that he told us about occurred when he was about eighteen months of age. The people of the area did not know very much about sanitation and the relation it has to some serious diseases. The children came down with diphtheria and the oldest daughter, Rhoda, died. Dad was expected to die also. In fact he was dying, when a Melchizedek Priesthood holder (as I remember, his name was Bishop Garner) was called on by Dad's parents to come and dedicate Dad to the Lord because they felt he was too far gone to recover. Instead of doing that Dad was blessed to have complete recovery and to grow to mature manhood, to complete a mission for the Church, and to be sealed in a temple to a righteous woman and to raise a righteous posterity.
From that day Dad's health began to improve and he lived to be two months past his 69th birthday, quite an accomplishment when you consider that he was just about given up for dead when he was only eighteen months old.
Dad learned the skills of farming while growing up, as did his brothers and most of the other young men of the area but not too many skills in other areas. In fact, when it came to going to school, Grandpa permitted the boys to attend just a short time each winter. He needed them on the farm during the growing season from early springtime until the crops were harvested in the late fall and for morning and evening chores the rest of the year. Dad told me that Grandpa felt the boys needed practical experience on the farm and was not concerned about them going to school. Eventually Dad did graduate from 8th grade.
Dad continued to live at home and work on the farm until he was halfway through his twenties.
He was always active in the church and when he reached the age of nineteen he was asked by his bishop to fill a mission. His father forbade him to go because he said his help was needed on the farm. When his bishop asked him six years later he accepted the call. His father said he couldn't support him on a mission, so Dad told him that he didn't expect any financial help. During the previous six years he had been permitted to raise pigs in addition to his regular farm work. From this project he had been able to save enough money to pay for his mission, so his father unwillingly let him go. He was called to serve in the Western States Mission (the same mission to which I was called to serve some thirty years later; in fact we even labored in basically the same geographical area).
While on his mission Dad met Mother who was also serving a mission in the Western States Mission. Most of the missionary work that Dad did was proselyting, much of it in the rural areas without purse or scrip. Also, much of his time was spent in the Pueblo District (in southeastern Colorado) where I spent my full mission. Fifteen months of my mission were spent as District President of the Pueblo District, which extended into New Mexico.
Most of Mother's missionary time was spent in and around Denver where she was called on frequently to sing solos and to be part of one choral group or another. Those who remember her will remember that she had a beautiful soprano voice. When we were growing, it was always a lovely experience to hear her sing. On the other hand, Dad enjoyed singing, too, but his singing was so bad that it was hard to listen to him. But, because he enjoyed it so much we tolerated his efforts and sometimes joined in singing with him because his enthusiasm made it a fun experience.
Speaking of missions, when I returned from Europe where I served in the Second World War and was awaiting my mission call, I was working for Rogers Seed Company. On one particular occasion I had come home from work in the evening and felt pretty tired. I told Dad and Mother that I would like to go on my mission where I wouldn't have to work so hard. Dad laughed at me and then told me that some of the hardest work he ever did was in the mission field. He went on to say that often when problems and challenges arose, he and his companion had to "burn much midnight oil" to be prepared to solve problems and meet their challenges.
Dad and Mother both learned, as most missionaries do, that in every mission there are many highs and lows with the highs outnumbering the lows if the missionary is doing his work and keeping in tune with the Spirit.
Dad had a very successful mission, but he told of one time when he got so discouraged he decided to leave his mission and go home. He packed his things and was ready to leave when his companion talked him into waiting until the next day and to “sleep on his decision.”
That night he dreamed that he caught the train and went home. When he arrived at the station in Clifton no one was there to greet him. He got off the train and started walking to his home. On the way he met his Uncle Gus Bingham who laughed at him and told him that he knew Dad would not stay his full time. As he continued on his way he met the family dog which was a little black mongrel named Coaly. Coaly had always been friendly to him, but this time, when Coaly saw Dad, he put his tail between his legs and would not come at Dad's call. He walked on home and no one was there but his mother who cried in her disappointment at his leaving his mission before it was completed. At this point he awakened in a cold sweat. He awakened his companion and told him that he would never leave until he received an honorable release from his mission. He was very pleased to have completed an honorable mission. He knew that he had not only made some good converts and contacts, but that he also had grown immensely through his missionary experiences.
Dad and Mother met in the mission field, but their meetings were as casual acquaintances, mainly at mission conferences. I think they both must have been favorably impressed with each other because when they arrived back home they decided to meet at General Conference in October 1917. They liked what they saw in the other, but their association continued at a distance for about a year. Then at a conference held in October 1918 the picture began to change. Dad went to visit Mother later in 1918 in Ogden and after sometime together it was getting late in the evening, after a visit in Ogden of several days Dad was getting ready to go back to Clifton. Mother said to him, "Well, I guess I better go to bed so I can wake in the morning and prepare breakfast for my boss." Dad took the "cue" and asked her to prepare to come and make breakfast for him. She accepted and on April 2, 1919 they were married in the Salt Lake Temple with Elder Joseph Fielding Smith of the Council of the Twelve performing the sealing ordinance.
They set up housekeeping in Clifton for a period of time with Dad working mostly on the family farm. Homer was born on January 25, 1920 and John was born nearly two years later on January 2, 1922.
If I have my dates correct it was somewhere during this time that the Taylor home was burned down, and for over a year after John was born the family lived in Richfield, Utah, where Mother was born. Dad worked at whatever jobs he could get during this time and before I was born on September 5, 1923, the family had moved back to Clifton and were living in what was known as the Orchard house on the road just south of Clifton on the way to Dayton.
I get lost after this as to which homes we lived in and when we lived in them up until we moved from Clifton in late 1928. Suffice it to say that Mary Edith was born on May 3, 1925, and on May 19, 1928, the last ones in the family were born. These were twins, a boy named Evan Bean and a girl named Ethel Bean Taylor.
During these years I am not sure what Dad did for a living, but I think most of the time it was as a farm worker in and around Clifton.
In the fall of 1928 the family moved to Mesa, Arizona, at the invitation of Clarence and Janey Calhoun who were very good friends who had moved from Cache Valley to Tempe, Arizona. (Tempe is just a stone's throw from Mesa on the way to Phoenix.) At that time Tempe was a good farming community. Now it is part of a sprawling megatropolis extending from west of Phoenix east to past Apache Junction and among other cities includes Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, etc.
While we lived in Mesa I started school. I attended kindergarten and first grade at Lincoln Elementary School. I don't remember what school Homer and John attended, except the school district board wanted to place John in a school with mainly Mexican-American children because he was dark complexioned and they thought he looked like one of them. He would have been lost there because they would have spoken mostly Spanish.
We lived in Mesa from late in 1928 until the summer of 1930. During this time Dad worked on farms and as a construction laborer building roads in the area. It began to get more and more difficult to obtain a job in the Mesa area by 1930, so Dad left early in the spring and went to Idaho, to Thornton (just south of Rexburg) where he obtained work with a former missionary companion. At the end of the school year he sent for the family. Two of Mother's brothers came to Mesa from Richfield, Utah, and took the family to be with Dad.
In early 1929, while we lived in Mesa, Ethel died. I do not know what the cause was except she was always quite a weak baby. She died on May 3, 1929, which was Edith's fourth birthday.
While we were in Mesa we children had several of the childhood diseases that most children have, namely whooping cough, measles, and chicken pox, one right after another. I think these diseases somewhat weakened the younger two children (after Ethel was gone) because neither of them lived very long. Edith contracted pneumonia and died just a few months short of her sixth birthday in February 1931 and Evan died of pernicious anemia when he was about four-and-a-half years old, late in 1933.
When we were in Mesa there were four wards in the Maricopa Stake. These included all of Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, and Phoenix, etc. Now (1995), there are at least 24 stakes and 186 wards in that same area. What a fabulous growth!
When we arrived in Thornton we moved into a tiny ward just outside of Thornton to the west called Independence, where we continued to have our membership from August 1930 to the summer of 1934.
During that period of time I attended school in the second grade at a little three-room schoolhouse called Cedar Point School for one year and then attended third, fourth, and fifth grades in Burton School. Burton School was also a three-room school for first through eighth grades. During that time we lived in three different homes, none of which was more than a shack without electricity and running water. We pumped our water from a well and used kerosene lamps for lighting.
Having employment was a constant concern for Dad during the ‘20s and ‘30s as he had not been trained in any skills other than farming. Hence there was just not a whole lot of work available for him.
From what I have written you may think we were deprived, but we were not. We always had something to eat, a roof over our heads and clothes to wear. These things, along with a testimony, which was made practical by both Mom and Dad, made us feel we had what we needed. We were financially poor, but when I consider the love given to us by our parents and the spiritual environment they provided for us, we were quite well off in those things that count most.
In 1934, the family moved to Idaho Falls where Dad was able to be employed in some work for the city and in road construction. We were there for about a year where I finished sixth grade and Homer and John finished seventh grade. In 1935, the farm next door to Uncle Leonard and Aunt Laney in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, became available to lease on shares. Dad leased it for two years, but because of a very short growing season the grain crop froze the first year before it could mature and "rusted out” the next year. Dad had to work on WPA (government program) in the winters to provide enough money for us to live on.
While we were in the Thornton/Burton area the family thinned a field of beets one year and for pay we received an excellent milk cow, a mixture of Holstein and Jersey. She provided all cream and milk the family needed during the years 1932 to 1937 when we left Lava to go to Mesa, Arizona again. We sold her and her yearling heifer calf for enough money to buy train tickets to Mesa for Mom, Dad, Homer, John and me.
This time in Mesa Dad worked hard for a highway building company. He helped to landscape the Mesa Union High School. Most of the time we lived in a tent about a block from the Mesa Temple because we couldn't afford anything better.
Also, while we were living in Mesa, John had a paper route for the Arizona Republic and one evening while returning from his paper route he was hit by a green panel truck which knocked him over fifty feet. He died in the hospital just before midnight that night. The people who hit him were never caught. Those who witnessed this said that the panel truck that hit him drove up to the next corner, apparently looked back, sped around the corner and lost themselves in the traffic.
I knew the paper route and had gone with John several times. On this day he wasn't feeling well so I offered to take it for him. He said, "no," and I let it go at that. I've wondered many times since then what would have happened if I had taken the route that day. I feel sure that he would have been alive today or at least neither of us would have been in that hit-and-run accident.
The way we looked at this situation is that the Lord had a special job for John to do at that time on the other side of the veil. It was very hard for Mother and Dad to have lost four children in the space of less than five years, three before the age of accountability and one teenager.
At the end of that school year (1937-38), Dad traded our tent for a 1928 Studebaker coupe with a rumble seat. Homer was the driver, Mom and Dad were front seat passengers, and I, with our luggage filled the rumble seat. We headed back towards Cache Valley. We stayed for a week or so with Grandpa Taylor in Logan and then went on to Dayton, arriving there in time to start school (my sophomore year) at Weston High School.
We moved into the Astle home just north of Dayton where we stayed until mid-winter, then we moved upstairs in Roy Hulse's home, which was about a block from the church in Dayton. In the summer of 1939 we moved into the little three room house on the main road in Dayton that belonged to Uncle Irvin. We continued there until the summer of 1940. By then Homer had graduated from high school and had joined the U.S. Coast Guard.
Dad had been working at whatever job he could get and in 1940 he was given the opportunity to sell McNess Products door-to-door in Cache County north and west of Logan. We moved to Logan to be nearer his work. Door-to-door selling was not for Dad so in just a few months he resigned and again began to work at whatever job he could get. He spent most of the next year working on a maintenance crew for the city of Logan.
Early in 1942 Dad and Mother moved to Ogden and Dad worked for the government at the ordnance depot in Clearfield. In the meantime, I graduated from Logan High School in 1941 and started school at USAC that fall where I continued until spring quarter 1943. I then went into the army and spent a couple of years in England and France, after having spent a year in the army in the United States.
When the war ended Dad and Mom moved to Idaho Falls where he again obtained employment with the city of Idaho Falls maintenance department. He continued to work there until 1954 when he retired. Even after he retired he continued to work part-time until his death in 1958.
Soon after Dad and Mother moved to Idaho Falls they had an opportunity to purchase a small two-room basement house on Rollandet Avenue in southeast Idaho Falls. They added another room and a bathroom and made it a comfortable little home. They also built a cinderblock storage shed, and they had quite a large space for a garden, which they planted every year. It was not a very fancy home, but they enjoyed it. I think the main reason they enjoyed it was because it belonged to them, and they felt the pride of ownership.
Mother's health began to fail about the time of our wedding in 1954. I'm not sure the problem, but I think it was Alzheimer’s that she had. It got to the point that Dad couldn't take care of her by himself so she was admitted to the state hospital where she spent the last few months of her life in 1957. Dad spent all the time he could with her and he grieved greatly as he saw her getting worse and worse until the end.
During the next year he spent much of his time as a stake missionary, but he was lonely and grieved for Mother.
Along in early September 1958 we received a phone call from Aunt Janey in Idaho Falls telling us of Dad's sudden death. This was on a Monday. It was reported that his neighbors had seen him enter his home the previous Friday evening and had not seen him again. They were anxious to learn if everything was all right, so they went to his home on Monday and found that he had died in his sleep, probably Friday night.
Aunt Janey said he had spent part of the day Friday with her and had eaten lunch with her. He told her he needed to check on some water he was controlling for the city and then he was going home. Evidence points that he died peacefully in his sleep.
Most of lives, Dad and Mother were very poor as far as this world's goods are concerned, but they were rich in those things that count most. They were faithful to the gospel to the end, and were very honest in all they did. They did all they could to teach their children the right way and they always set a proper example for us to follow. I feel their reward was great as they passed from this existence and met their loved ones who had gone on before, including parents, brothers and sisters and their own children.
Their lives were an example of putting first things first, and their rewards are those things that come to those who are obedient to the Lord's commandments.