Joseph Ernest Merrill & Grace Anna Nelson
Contributor: Turpinca Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
by Yvonne M. Bjarnson
Joseph Ernest Merrill was born December 27, 1900 in Smithfield, Utah, almost a Christmas baby. He was the fourth son of Joseph and Grace Hale Merrill. He was named after his father and his mother’s uncle. When he was two years old his father was called to serve as president of the Samoan Mission where he had been a missionary ten years before. Mother and four boys with hired help ran the farm and cared for aging grandparents.
When he was five years old the family moved to Groveland, Idaho then west to Thomas, where he attended schools and helped on the farm. He left to work elsewhere and soon was working at the Magna Copper Mills west of the city of Magna and now disappeared. Here he met Grace Anna Nelson and they were married September 6, 1923 in the Salt Lake Temple. Aunt Katie says she went with them to get the marriage license. When they moved to Thomas for a time with the family, they had such a good time together, playing with cats and other animals. Katie remembers when they would do dishes together she usually washed and if she got slow and Grace ran out of dishes to wipe she would go to her room to read. So Katie learned to speed up. They had such fun together.
They lived and worked in Magna for a few years but the urge to farm returned and they went back to Thomas. They lived with his parents while they built a small home on the land he purchased west of the folks. They bought additional land and eventually built their lovely red brick home.
Daddy and Mamma were always good members of the Church. We were all at our meetings on Sunday morning and on Tuesday night when the Mutual program was separated from Sunday. They always paid a full tithing on their earnings, which I’m sure was the reason for such outstanding success of their farming and home life.
They were never able to have their own children so I, their first daughter, Yvonne, came to them in October of 1927. Their second daughter, Arlene, came to them in March of 1930. They were happy with their girls and it wasn’t until 1946 that a son, Roger, came to live with them and then in 1948 their last daughter, Jo Ann, came to them.
We, Arlene and I, were taught to work at their side, cutting potatoes to plant, then harvesting them in the fall, thinning and hoeing beets and even hauling them by truck to the dump. We also helped in the hay and grain harvest. It was always plenty busy on the farm all summer and fall.
The home was also well cared for and kept clean by us working together, both in the home and the garden at canning time. All bottles were filled every season. We also raised the animals that were used for meat as well as other purposes for farm use. There were always three good nutritious meals every day of the week. We lived through the Depression and made out fine as we can remember because of our storage program.
As times got harder on the farm we bought sheep and started raising them for a number of years and the herd reached well over 2000. Naturally the workload grew and the hired man became a part of our lives also. The summer range was located in the Soda Springs area on the Caribou National Forest.
The work was never done, it seemed. As time went on, it became harder for Daddy and his health began to fail. They decided to start slowing down. They became interested in some land in the Island Park area called I.P. Bills Island. With this idea in mind they decided to sell the sheep and go forth with the summer home. They spent many hours on the project and finally finished the beautiful home and had many years of pleasure there.
They loved to travel too when time afforded. They especially enjoyed a tour to New York, Washington, DC, Palmyra Pageant, and all church historical sites with the Logan Temple group in 1953. It was a highlight for them.
Daddy started having some heart problems. In March of 1968 we took him to Salt Lake to the LDS Hospital where they determined he needed a pacemaker. After a time we took him home and he was so pleased with it they started making plans to sell the house and live in Island Park for the summer and go south to St. George or further for the winter months. They had rented the farm and sold all the sheep so they were free to start this plan.
Five months passed and he was in and out of the hospital several times. The third time was a realization that he wasn’t doing as well as he thought and he expressed to the doctor and nurses that he wanted to be home. Mamma kept saying he wants to be home if he’s not going to make it. He had an experience in the LDS Hospital that gave him a new breath of life taken from Mamma, so we know his life had been extended a little longer.
He had expressed to his cousin that he wanted to stay long enough to see his youngest daughter get her life settled. Two days before he passed away, Jo Ann told him she was going to get married and she was finally happy. Then on Monday morning September 23, 1968, he passed away calmly and quietly at home.
Mama was strong about everything and she wanted to be in her own home and in her ward and so she learned to do many things pertaining to repairs on the home. With Daddy gone, she had to make some changes. She sold the farm and the Island Park home and kept the home she loved so much. She went on with her life and church work as usual.
In 1970, Roger was killed on a motorcycle, another tragedy in her life. He had been married only a short time.
We visited every summer and Arlene lived close by and helped with all she could. We helped her with the jobs around that she couldn’t do and helped her get things cleaned up. She was such a loving person and expressed her love often to everyone. Aunt Marie and Aunt Uarda were close to her also. She enjoyed their company and the love they shared with her.
In about 1979 or 80 she found out that she had cancer and had a mastectomy. She did really well with her recovery. She was never one to complain about how she felt but was always worried about how everyone else was feeling. During her recovery she found that she was also a diabetic and had to learn to deal with that problem too. About six years later the cancer reappeared and between the two she started going down hill. We tried to get her to sell the house and come to Utah to live with Yvonne and the remainder of her own brother and sister-in-laws in the Provo area but she didn’t want to leave her home.
She was in and out of the hospital a couple of times before we could again talk to her about leaving home. In May of 1988 she entered the hospital again and knew then that she couldn’t go home again and be alone. When she was ready to leave the hospital we cleaned up her home and moved her things to Payson where she could be at home with me. I was so happy for that opportunity, I had tried for so long to get her to come and live with me.
Arlene and Blaine made a bed for her in the Suburban so she could lie down, but it was hard on her. I think she never really got completely rested again. In about three weeks she got really sore and sick and we took her to the hospital with very little pulse and found that she had pneumonia. They gave her little chance of coming through it. She went down so fast that we didn’t have much time with her. Arlene spent most of her time here with us also staying night and day with her. Jo Ann was in Nevada and kept in touch with us during the next three weeks.
Mother passed away the morning of July 3, 1988. It was such a relief to see her relieved of pain. She was a special Mom and we loved both our parents dearly. We took her to Thomas, Idaho to be buried by our father and Roger.