Autobiography of Josephine Elizabeth Jensen McPhie
Contributor: PKristineHurd Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
My father was a polygamist having two wives. My mother was the second wife. They lived together in the same house for many years. I was the second child out of four, my brother older and two sisters younger.
I was born in Huntington Canyon, Utah, June 26, 1886 in a "dugout" house on a little farm which my father homesteaded.
My father moved to North Salt Lake when I was six years old, where he built a house and barn and kept a few milk cows and sold milk and did carpenter work. I started school there.
My father had a hard time making a living there so when I was nine he leased a dairy farm in the foothills east of Salt Lake called Pleasant View. The soil was very fertile here and we raised all our food stuffs including hay for the livestock.
Father bought an old church organ for me to learn to play. I took lessons from a lady in Sugar Ward two miles from home. I drove down once aweek for lessons. I loved it and soon learned to play very well.
When I finished the fifth grade (that was as far as they taught there) I went to Salt Lake and stayed with father's first wife who continued to live there. I attended Jackson School, taking the sixth and seventh grades. The next year when I was 14, my Uncle Erick Johnson persuade my father to go to Ft. Bridger, Wyoming and had my mother file on a 160 acre homestead.
I went to school the first winter there finishing the eighth grade. Then I worked for an old southern lady, Mrs. Van Carter, an aristocrat, for three years at the old historic Ft. Bridger. I started at a salary of $8.00 per month and ending with $15.00. Out of that I clothed myself and saved enough money to go to school in Salt Lake, where attended the LDS College. I worked for my room and board. That was the winter of 1903-04 when I was 17. My cousin Hannah went also. The second winter I ran out of funds in February so went to work and saved enough money to go to summer school, then I went home and took a correspondence course. That fall I took the teachers examination in Evanston and received a third grade certificate entitling me to teach one year, which I did the following winter at Mountain View, Wyoming, also a six weeks summer school at Robertson.
I took the teachers examination again that fall and received a second grade certificate entitling me to teach two years. These I taught successfully through 1906-07 at Millburne, Wyoming.
On June 17, 1908 I was married to James Muir McPhie in the Sale Lake Temple by John R. Winder. I became the mother of nine children, the first being born when I was 22 years, the last when 43, over a period of 21 years.
My husband was a coal miner so we followed the mines for a good many years. He had two very serious accidents which hospitalized him for several months.
I was always quite religiously inclined. I began teaching Sunday School at the age of 14, ward organist at 16, also first counselor in YWMIA at 19, and president at 20 -- all at Millburne, Wyoming ward.
In 1920 we sold all our belongings in Wyoming and moved to Utah and bought a small farm in Provo; however, we rented it and moved back to the mines in Hiawatha where I was president of Relief Society, then we moved to Kenilworth where I again worked in the Relief Society presidency. We also lived in Castle Gate for three years where I was again put in as president of Relief Society. Finally in 1945 we moved to Provo where my husband got work at the Geneva Steel Plant as railroad fireman and later as engineer. We bought us another home at 459 North 100 West, [Provo] where we are still living. I worked as counselor in Relief Society here for three years also.
**This account is believed to have been written in 1957**
The following material pertains to Josephine’s later three years of her life:
My son, George and family lived at Yakima, Washington so we visited them quite often, sometimes by car, and sometimes by bus. I am now 89 years old – 1975.
After Josephine came to live wither her daughter, Hazel in Renton, Washington, she enjoyed her companionship. She enjoyed crocheting and made crocheted vests for most of her granddaughters. She liked to cook and do her own things while Hazel was at school, teaching.
Finally in 1975, she decided she wanted to go back and live permanently in her own home in Provo. Josephine was beginning to be very forgetful and unable to handle her rental problems. It was no longer good for her to be alone. Linda Ostler, her granddaughter (Viola’s daughter) came and lived with her in her own home for a few months.
In February of 1976, she caught a cold. The doctor gave her medication to help. Either the medication or the illness brought on a sudden change in her behavior. She must have had a slight stroke. It did not affect her physically, but certainly mentally. She could no longer remember the skills she once had. She forgot how to write letters or crochet. She had loved to watch her program on TV- one of which was “General Hospital”, but lost all interest in anything. However, one day in 1979 when Hazel took her to visit at her husband, Joe Boel’s home, she played some pieces on the piano from the hymn book.
Linda moved out of Mother’s place in that spring of 1976 so Hazel came from her home in Renton, Washington to be with her for a while. She could not stay long because she had to take care of her home there as well as many other commitments. On her 90th birthday, June 26, 1976, all her children met at the north Park in Provo, near her home and had a birthday party for her. There was a big “90” put on her cake. She was happy and quite normal at that time except for her age problems of getting slower.
Viola Ostler, Josephine’s other younger daughter offered to take Josephine into her own home to live. It was agreed she would receive the same salary for taking care of Josephine as she received in the nursing home in which she was working at that time. Josephine stayed there, having a room of her own. It was ideal for her. Viola had worked in a rest home and knew exactly how to care for her, at the same time giving her the tender, loving care she needed and deserved.
During this time it was decided to sell her home. It had recently been updated and painted and the electric wiring corrected. The upstairs and basement apartments lined and it had new floor coverings. It looked nice and therefore it sold easily. Francis, the eldest boy of her children was her choice as executive of her property. He put the proceeds in the bank for her.
Josephine never liked to miss any church meetings, so Viola and husband, Boyd took her to church with them. After moving into Viola’s home, there was a great effort to get her interested in a hobby of some kind. Viola tried to teach her to crochet again but she only was able to learn the simplest of stitches.
In January 1979, Viola and Boyd started to church with her. It was a snowy morning .There was ice under the snow and when the three of them walked up the church walk, they all three slipped on the ice and fell in a heap. It did not hurt anyone except Josephine. At the moment she said, “This is it”. She knew she could not get up. She was taken to the Utah Valley Hospital, where they pinned her broken hip. It was very painful for her. She cried and prayed vocally to her Heavenly Father for relief. After nearly three weeks in the hospital, she was taken home to Viola’s place, where she had the care equal to hospital, but much less expensive.
While there, she could never walk alone, of course, but Viola would get her to the table. She had to be fed – if she would eat at all. The shock to her body had taken its toll.
On February 2, 1979, her three daughters, Hazel, Viola and Elaine were at her bedside. She was so pale and helpless. As we tried to talk to her, she seemed to just stare at the ceiling, as if to see something we couldn’t see. Hazel kissed her and left for a few minutes. Viola’s sons, returned missionaries were there, and gave her a blessing. While doing so, Josephine closed her eyes and passed away. She suddenly relaxed in death. Her expression changed from pain and agony to peace and contentment. Viola called Hazel who had barely reached her home and said, “Mother just left us”. It was 5:30 P.M., February 2, 1979. She lived 92 ½ years.
She raised eight children, five boys and three girls. Her two youngest boys, Harold and Donald preceded her in death, during World War II era. She was always staunch in her religious beliefs. She had seen many changes take place in her lifetime. Her funeral was held in Orem in an L.D.S. chapel. She was buried next to her husband in the Provo Cemetery, February 6, 1979.
*The above history was reviewed and typed by her daughter, Hazel Boel, and was taken from Josephine’s handwritten pages*
I, Hazel, her oldest daughter, at this writing – 1987, recalls Mother as always a hard working person, managing the finances. I remember how she had to see that all of us were fed and clothed while Dad was in the hospital about 1928. The only income was $32.00 per month compensation. Somehow, through faith and prayers, she kept the home and family going while caring and nursing Dad back to health.
Through illnesses and trials of losing her two sons in the war, her husband after his long illness, then finally her own accident and demise, she always said that anything that happens to us is of our own doings. The Lord blesses us and strengthens us through every experience, like a refiner’s fire. Her children were all sealed to their spouses, a fact she lived and hoped for.
Autobiography of James Muir McPhie
Contributor: PKristineHurd Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
James Muir McPhie
(Written by himself)
I was born in Grass Creek, Utah, October 8, 1885. My Father [John McPhie] was very strict with his children, as he had three families of them. He married his first wife while they lived in Scotland; her name was Lizzie Henderson; they had two children that survived infancy. They were Lizzie and William and were born in Scotland. After coming to America in 1874, Father worked in the coal mines at Coalville and Grass Creek, Utah. He almost went without food, clothing, bed or shelter so he could save enough money to send for his father and mother, his wife and children.
My father took another wife in polygamy in 1874. She lived just two years, her name was Catherine Welch. She had two children; then sickness hit hard, a diphtheria epidemic which took her life, as well as her seven month old daughter one month later. In 1878, Father married my mother, Margaret Ann Muir in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Her first babies were twin girls, they lived just a few days.
Two years later, Father obtained good work at the coal mines in Coalville, so he moved his house back there just before George Angus was born in 1881; in less than two years he was given better work at Grass Creek, so he moved his house back there just before Charles was born. He stayed there until I, James Muir McPhie, was born on October 8, 1885. Then in the summer of 1886, Father moved that log house to Almy, Wyoming.
In those days, they used five inch tongue and groove boards for ceilings and floors, then they chinked between the logs with pieces of wood and plaster, then white-washed it all over, and painted the ceilings, windows, doors and frames. My father cut the logs and hewed them until they were square, then laid them up making two large rooms. The carpets were made by braiding rags and laid them in front of the beds or where they were needed. My mother, as well as other women, would shear the sheep, card and spin the wool from which she and Aunt Lizzie (what we called her) made our clothes and stockings, mittens and caps. His two wives lived with him just like two sisters would.
My mother lost three children at birth which were born between me and my sister Sarah Isabella, who was born at Almy, Wyoming on January 16, 1891. Then Joseph Fielding McPhie was born May 22, 1893, at Almy, Wyoming. Jane Ann, George, Charles, Sarah Isabella, Joseph and myself were all born in the same house, but in three different towns or places.
In 1894, Father took his family and moved to #3 Onterio Canyon, Park City, Utah where on March 23, 1895, my mother gave birth to twin boys. She named them Martin and Andrew, making eight living children. She started with twin girls and ended with twin boys.
In the summer of 1895, Father moved back to his home at Almy, Wyoming to help rescue some 200 miners who had been killed in a coal mine gas explosion. In 1899, just four years later, I was old enough to go to work in the mines with my father at #7 Union Pacific coal mine in Almy. Then the big coal mine explosion occurred at Winter Quarters near Schofield, Utah. My father volunteered with a group of men to rescue the 172 men who had been killed in that terrible accident, then we cleaned up the mine. He took my brothers George Angus, Charles and myself with him; that is one experience I will never forget and don’t want to tell about.
In the late summer, we returned to Almy and the Union Pacific Coal Company opened a mine at a place called Spring Valley, Wyoming. A lot of the miners were going there to work and build a town. We lived in tents the first winter, we ate at the company boarding house until houses were built for the families to move into.
In the summer 1901, some carpenters by the name of Alfred and Brigham Hansen, Olif Hopkensen and some others persuaded my father to file on a homestead near Bridger, Butte County, Wyoming, called Millburne, Wyoming.
Father knew very little about ranching or farming and we worked very hard getting a house built and land fenced and plowed, also barns built and hay planted. We did work harder than those who knew the business. It was while moving a barb wire fence that my father cut his hand on that old rusty wire and not thinking it serious, just wiped his hand on his overalls and kept on working. That night his hand hurt him and we made poultices with bread and milk, sugar, soap and hot water, but no use. We called a doctor who was living in Evanston, Wyoming, 40 miles away. He came, but just to tell us he could do nothing for him as blood poison had set in. He died several hours later on August 17, 1906 and was buried in Millburne, Uinta County, Utah.
In the fall of 1908, we moved to Cumberland, Wyoming. There I worked in the coal mine for the diamond Coal and Coke Company. I had charge of the movement of the coal in the mine by all the drivers.
It was on April 3, 1910, our first child, Hazel was born at Glenco, Wyoming. We moved back to our land at Millburne, Wyoming. On November 14, 1911, Francis James McPhie, our first son, was born on our homestead in our new frame home. We continued ranching and stock raising. We lost our second baby boy, Chester, October 8, 1913, at birth.
We improved our homestead and fenced it all, then I bought the Jensen ranch from my wife’s mother. George Severn, our third son and fourth child, was born in our homestead on November 24, 1914. That winter was a very bad one, the snow was carried with the wind until the drifts covered home, barns and haystacks, until we had very little left in the spring. That spring of 1915, I left the Ft. Bridger Valley for keeps and moved to Rawlins, Carbon County, Wyoming. The first World War was coming on and I was working for the Union Pacific Railroad Company in the Railroad Signal Department. In a few months I was transferred into the Store Department.
At that time, Ray Scovell of Ogden, Utah, was President of the Rawlins city branch of the LDS Church. He persuaded me to work for his company and to learn the broom business. I learned how to make every kind of a broom; also inspected all the brooms before they were taken from the factory. The Broom Manufacturing Company used the Wyoming prisoners as convict labor. I had one year’s experience with the broom-making business when the contract expired with the State of Wyoming, so Brother Scovell left Rawlins City. I was called to take his place in the Western States Mission and was set apart to preside as President of the Rawlins City branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Joseph F. Smith and set apart by John L. Herrick. I served in that capacity from May 1916 to December 1918.
After the Broom Manufacturing Company moved out, the Reliance Shirt Manufacturing Company installed a shirt factory and I was retained by them, and I learned the shirt-making business. I was final inspector of all shirts before shipment was made from the factory.
On August 11, 1917, our son John Marvin McPhie was born. The First World War was at its pitch so many men had been taken into the service, and the railroad company was calling for help. I was deferred because I was needed more at home, having important work, a wife and a family of four children.
I hired on to the Union Pacific Railroad company as fireman. The war ended November 11, 1918, which brought joy to us all. My Brother-in-law, James Overy, and my sister, Sarah, were living at Lioncol, Wyoming, just five miles north of Rock Springs, and he encouraged me to move there as the miners were earning $500 or more per month for operating a coal cutting machine. I was released from the Western States Mission on December 15, 1918. We did quite well there at Lioncol.
On January 30, 1920, our son, Harold Grant McPhie was born to us and in the spring of 1920 we bought a home in Provo, Utah, but didn’t live there until some years later. We moved to Hiawatha, Utah, in the summer of 1921, where I worked as a machine operator.
While in Hiawatha, I was appointed Stake Missionary, then First Counselor in the Sunday School. Our daughter, Hazel, was appointed Sunday School Organist. That fall I was appointed President of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement and later a member of the Stake Board, Carbon Stake. We did well in Hiawatha. On the 17th of February, 1922, our sixth son, Donald Alma McPhie, was born in Hiawatha, Carbon County Utah.
A coal mine strike was called at all the mines in Carbon County. I went to Provo for a short time then and obtained a good paying job cutting coal, contracting at Kenilworth, Utah. We moved there in the summer of 1923; I was retained on the MIA Stake board and appointed First Counselor to Bishop Roy Thayne and also Scoutmaster of the Kenilworth Troop. My son, Francis, was just 12 years old and I accepted the job as Scoutmaster so I could be with him more. Then on May 1, 1924, Bishop Roy Thayne moved to Salt Lake City, and I was appointed Bishop in his stead. Then I was released from the Carbon stake Mutual Board which office I continued to fill until July 15, 1925.
While living at Kenilworth, on September 9, 1925, a baby girl was born to us. We named her Viola Josephine McPhie. It was while working at Kenilworth that the terrible coal mine explosion occurred at Castle Gate, Utah, where 182 men were killed. Word came to me and my partner while we were going to work. We went back and told our wives goodbye and went to help those men that were in the mine, if we possibly could. We could not enter the #2 Castle Gate mine until much of the debris was removed. Another Bishop and I were assigned to call on all the families of our Church and many others to give what help and comfort we could. Then when the rescue work began, I was appointed to help identify the men and place them in caskets and show the relatives their dead. We had more than 100 men in that large amusement hall at one time. Much more could be told, but it was too terrible.
I moved my family to Provo into our own home. At that time I owned 13 acres of land at 896 North 5th West. We had a good home, school, church and neighbors. I boarded or batched until on the 27th day of November 1927, I was injured in the coal mine. While I was running a coal cutting machine, the large pipe jack fell and hit me on the leg above the right knee. I was in the LDS Hospital in Salt lake City until the next April. I was released as Bishop at Kenilworth on July 15, 1928.
We were in our home at Provo almost two years when Gladys Elaine McPhie, our ninth child and third daughter was born on March 2, 1930. The Depression hit hard here in 1931; we had two cows and raised most of our own food on the 13 acres of land we farmed.
Very little work was obtainable during the Depression. One evening in 1933, Bishop H. A. Dixon came to our home and asked for a missionary. Hazel had finished her normal training and was qualified to teach school but could not get a contract anywhere. Francis had two years of college and had graduated from Seminary, so he was called to go on a Mission to Germany. We didn’t know how we could ever keep him on a mission for two years, but my good wife, full of the kind of faith it takes, said as Nephi did in the Book of Mormon, “The Lord doesn’t ask us to do anything except He will provide a way to do it.” So Francis went to Germany on his Mission. No sooner did he reach his field of labor than Hazel got a school to teach, and I got a good job at Spring Canyon, where I was appointed a member of the Carbon Stake High Council. Francis served on his mission for three years.
I took the examination for Mine Foreman and obtained work as Fireboss and Faceboss at Castle Gate. Here I had charge of the machinery and men who produced the coal for truck and railroad shipment.
In July of 1944, the United States Steel Company opened the steel plant at Geneva. Because of my having experience on a locomotive, I was hired as engineer and I worked there until I was retired in the fall of 1953. Since that time, my wife and I have traveled quite a bit. We went to New York with a group of people who were active in church work. We visited places which are mentioned in our church history. It was very interesting to go on the top of the Hill Cumorah where Joseph Smith received the gold plates from the Angel Moroni. We visited the prison where Joseph and his brother Hyrum were shot and killed by the mob.
At this writing, we are living in our own home at 459 North 1st West in Provo, Utah, and hope this will be of interest to all of my family and some others, too.
**This account is believed to have been written in 1957**
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 15, 1965
Utah County, Utah
James M. McPhie
PROVO MAN DIES OF LONG ILLNESS
James Muir McPhie, 80, 459 N. 1st W., Provo, died Tuesday evening at the home of a daughter, Mrs. Viola J. Ostler, 640 N. Beverly Ave., Orem of a lingering illness.
He was born Oct. 8, 1885 at Grass Creek, Utah, a son of John and Margaret Ann Muir McPhie. He married Josephine E. Jensen, on June 17, 1908 in Salt Lake City.
As a young child he moved from Grass Creek to Almy, Wyo., where he received his education. After his father’s death he quit school to help his mother support the family. He homesteaded in Ft. Bridger, Wyo., where he met and married his wife, moving to Provo in 1920 where he had maintained a home since then.
He was an active member of the LDS Church, serving as bishop of the Kenilworth, (Utah) Ward for four years; and was on the High Council in Price, Utah.
He was employed at Geneva Steel as a railroad engineer from 1946 until his retirement. He also did farming and mining.
Surviving are widow, Provo; three sons and three daughters, Mrs. Elmer (Hazel) Williams, Renton, Wash.; Francis J. McPhie, Salt Lake City; George S. McPhie, Yakima, Wash.; J. Marvin McPhie, Ogden; Mrs. Boyden J. (Viola) Ostler, Orem; Mrs. Arthur T. (Elaine) Harrison, Spring Valley, Calif.; 28 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; two brothers and two sisters, Mrs. Sara Bushnell and Mrs. Jane Murdock, both of Salt Lake City; Martin McPhie, Martin, Utah and Andrew McPhie, Ogden.