Cherished Memories of my Father – Joseph Albert Gagon
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
By: Margaret Gagon Carter; written in October, 1976
(This is complied through excepts of Margaret Gagon Carter’s history)
I was born March 10, 1918, to Godly parents, the sixth child and fourth daughter of my father and the first daughter and second child of my mother.
My father was born December 15, 1879, in Vernal, Utah; the son of William Highland and Lydia Ann Taylor Gagon, who named him Joseph Albert Gagon. He grew up in the Uintah Basin, which is the eastern part of the state of Utah. He married Emily Finch in 1901. She bore him four children; Leo Hyrum Gagon, Mary Genevieve Gagon, Twila Gagon, and Roseafton Gagon. After eleven years of marriage Emily Finch Gagon died on March 3, 1912, leaving my father with four young children to raise. Approximately one and one half years after her death, he was called to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which he was a devout member. He left his four children in the care of his wife’s family and in October of 1913 left for Scotland to serve his mission. While in Scotland he met my mother, Margaret Lister Gagon. When his mission was over she returned to Utah with him where they were married in the Salt Lake Temple on March 17, 1915. She bore him nine children; Joseph Albert Gagon, Jr., myself-Margaret Gagon, Glen Scott Gagon, Isabell Lydia Gagon, Ira David Gagon, Lillian Gagon, Ronald Eugene Gagon, Patricia Rae Gagon, and Thomas Richard Gagon. As of this date, October 1976, all nine of my mother’s children, except Glen, are living. Glen died at the age of 49 years old after surgery for a brain tumor. At the time of his death he was a world renowned educator and had held many important positions in the L.D.S. Church.
My mother was born July 10, 1891, in Cambusland Lanarkshire, Scotland, the eldest child of Thomas Glen and Isabell Crombie Glen. I remember my mother as a soft spoken, happy woman, with brown hair and eyes. I used to like to listen to her life in Scotland. She told us of being left an orphan at the age of eight years old, and how she never got to live with her sister Lily, as most sisters do. Her mother died giving birth to Lily when mother was only two years old. Her Grandparents on her mother’s side took the baby to raise and my mother went with her father. They lived in boarding houses most of the time. One day her father left her in the care of the woman who operated the boarding house. She told mother to get her little boy dressed. He kicked and cried so much Mother couldn’t get him dressed so the woman picked up a walking cane and beat mother with it leaving welts all over her. When my grandfather returned and saw the welts on my mother, they left and went to stay with one of his sisters. When my grandfather died, mother lived with some of her aunts and uncles on her father’s side of the family.
I remember her telling us of how she met Dad. She had met a girl at the laundry, who belonged to the Church, and she kept after mother to go out with some of the young men she knew, but Mother always had some excuse not to go. Mother told her friends that she wanted to go with someone who had high ideals and neither smoked nor drank and who belonged to the L.D.S. Church. One Sunday Mother and her friend went to church to hear two new missionaries speak. When they entered the church Mother saw Dad and said to her friend; “There is the kind of man I would like to marry.” Mother and Dad became acquainted and when Dad was released from his mission, Mother came to the United States on the same boat with him and other missionaries returning home. She told us of how seasick Dad got and how he was not able to leave his cabin during the whole time they were crossing the ocean.
I can remember her singing or humming around the house. When she didn’t I knew that she and Dad were on the outs with one another. I never did hear my Mother and Father argue or quarrel in front of the children. Mother never raised her voice or screamed at her children.
Both my parents were very tender hearted over other people’s troubles and also towards animals. I have seen Mother cry when she saw our dog get hit by a car and she cried with the rest of us when Dad sold the family cow because it was so old.
I remember a time shortly after moving to Provo when Mother and Dad were having quite a struggle financially and it was just about a week before school was to start. There were several pairs of shoes needed as well as other articles of clothing and money needed for books and school supplies. On top of this the power company had sent Dad a notice that they would turn the power off if the bill wasn’t paid. At our family prayer that night Dad prayed that he would be able to solve these problems. The next morning he decided to sell one of the cows. When he came home with the money, he told Mother to get ready to go to town. But instead of going to town she said she thought they had better go and pay their tithing first. After doing some figuring, they found if they paid tithing they would not have enough money to buy the other things needed and pay the power bill too. This time Mother and Dad went into their bedroom to pray for guidance. When they came out they both got ready and took their tithing down to the Bishop’s home. This took place on a Friday. On Saturday morning as we were eating breakfast, a knock came on the door and Dad got up to open it. It was someone from Eureka who Dad had given credit to when he had the dairy. The man had come to pay what he owed and thanked Dad for being so good to him and his family. Before the day was over, several families from Eureka called to see us and all brought tomatoes, vegetables, cantaloupe, and watermelon from off the farm. At the end of the day Dad had the money needed. I remember Mother saying “If you just have faith and do the things we are told to do, everything usually works out.”
Many times the Elders were called in to help Dad administer to us children when we were sick, and we always recovered. I especially remember when Dad administered to me the night my son Floyd was born. I was in so much pain and having such a hard time giving birth. The doctor had been there and said I could not possibly have him until the next morning. Pete (my husband) had called by Mother and Dad and they both came to the house to see me. When he told them what the doctor had said Dad came into the bedroom and administered to me. Shortly after that my baby was born. The doctor just couldn’t understand how he could have been so wrong.
I remember Dad as a tall, slender, handsome man with blue eyes and brown curly hair which later turned to silver gray. He was a very patient, easy to get along with sort of person and very seldom did he ever lose his temper. He did expect obedience and respect for both him and Mother.
As far back as I can remember, never did Dad every spank or hit me. He did discipline me in other ways. I know sometimes I needed a good spanking. One time when I was in about the fifth grade, Isabell and I had been told to do up the supper dishes. Just as we were about to start them, one of by friends called and wanted me to come out and jump the rope with her. I talked Isabell into coming so she could be a turner. About half an hour later here came Dad to get us. Pointing to me he said, “You get to the house and get busy,” but he picked Isabell up and she got a spanking. I don’t believe Isabell has ever quite forgiven me for we have laughed and talked about it several times. Another time was when we still lived in Knightsville. Mother used to send some of us with hot bread, biscuits, or cake to a Swedish bachelor by the name of John Stromberg. He was a convert to the church and Dad had befriended him. Usually Mr. Stromberg would give us something in return. When he didn’t go to his cupboard, I just stood there waiting. After several minutes and Joe (my brother) asking me to leave, I finally asked Mr. Stromberg what he was going to give us. He laughed, as though he knew what I had been waiting for, went to the cupboard and brought out a jar of candy and handed it to me telling me to be sure all the family got some. Joe was so mad at me he scolded all the way home and as soon as we got in the house, he told Mother and Dad what I had done. Mother scolded me and Dad took me aside and tried to explain why it wasn’t nice to ask people for things and that we shouldn’t expect to be paid for being nice to people for running errands for them. Mr. Stromberg continued to give us children gifts as long as he lived.
When we moved to Eureka, Mr. Stromberg also moved but to a different part of town. He always came to see us and was often asked to come have Sunday dinner with us. One Sunday, when he was there for dinner, we were about half through with the meal when I opened by big mouth and said, “Mr. Stromberg, why don’t you marry Twila?” Everybody was so quiet for a few minutes. I looked up and thought for sure I was going to really get it this time, but I didn’t. I do believe Twila felt like strangling me and poor Mr. Stromberg about swallowed his false teeth and turned forty different colors. He did not come back for sometime.
Only once did I ever see or remember of Dad getting so angry that he lost control of this temper and gave Joe and Glen a beating. It was after Dad had gone into the dairy business and on this one particular night he had told Joe to deliver the milk as quick as he could and to be sure and come straight home as both he and Mother had important meetings to attend. As the time drew closer and closer for them to leave and still Joe and Glen did not come, the more worried Dad got. He called a neighbor to take Mother to her meeting and then he set out to find the boys. After looking around town for them for about an hour, he found them wandering around a carnival that had pulled into town. He brought them home, took them to the milk house, and really gave them a beating. The whole family was upset about it and I know that later Dad felt bad about it.
Dad was faithful to the Church and its teachings. He always tried to live and keep the commandments at all times. He held many high positions in the Church such as Bishop, President of the Young Men’s Mutual, Stake Superintendent of Religion Class, High Priest, and High Councilman. He worked and helped get the Church welfare program organized in the old Fifth ward in Provo. He gave much of his time to his duties in the Church. He was sometimes called on to speak in other wards and he often took Isabell and me to Mammoth and Silver City with him. He always introduced as his two young daughters. When it was his turn to speak, I always tried to sit up a little taller and show how proud we were of him.
He was always a hard worker and tried to give his family the best of everything. It was his desire that all his children get a good education and encouraged us to study and do the best we could. He was proud when Glen and I both got on the honor roll when we were in high school. He was always kind and patient with us.
When I was 13 years old, I went to my first Gold and Green Ball. Mother worked so hard to make my dress so that I would look just right. When we got ready to leave (Mother and Dad took me) Dad said, “Peg O’ My Heart (his pet name for me), you are really growing into a young lady.” He made me feel so grown up. When we got to the recreation hall all the kids my age were standing in a corner in two different groups, the boys in one and the girls in another, each eyeing the other up trying to get up the courage to dance. The music had been playing for awhile when Dad came over and asked me to dance with him. At first I was embarrassed, but we started dancing and it wasn’t long before other fathers were doing the same with their daughters. When the dance was over, Dad thanked me and walked me back to my friends. It had broken the ice so that the young kids all got to dancing and had a good time.
Another time when I was still thirteen, I wanted a pair of high heeled shoes (spikes as we used to call them), but Mother told me I was too young so I went to Dad feeling sure I would get them, but he gave me the same answer as Mother. I begged and pleaded, but it didn’t do any good. I decided to go on a hunger strike, thinking it would only take going without one or two meals before I would get my shoes. After going two days (Oh, was I getting hungry), Mother told me not to leave for school without eating breakfast. I just ignored her and went off to school. When I went home for lunch, Dad told me not to leave without eating and again I ignored him and went to school. About five minutes after the bell rang and everyone was in their seats, there was a knock on the door. Mrs. Echloff, the teacher, opened the door and there stood my Dad. He spoke to the teacher and then came into the room. He told all the kids he had to take me home for a little while. He told them about the hunger strike. I started to cry as we walked out into the hall. I said, “Oh Daddy, how could you embarrass me like that?” He looked at me and said, “Margaret, how could you disobey me and your Mother as you did, as well as endanger your health by not eating as you should?” He took me home and sat down at the table with me until I had eaten the lunch Mother had prepared for me. When I had finished eating, he told me to go wash my face and go back to school. I begged and pleaded and cried and begged some more with him not to make me go face my teacher and friends. I was teased by my friends for two or three weeks before they let me try to forget it. I didn’t get my high heeled shoes, but I sure did learn a lesson on obedience. I got the shoes, or some like them, about a year and a half later, and they were the most uncomfortable shoes I ever walked in and couldn’t wait until they wore out so I could throw them away.
I remember taking Dad his lunch when he worked up at the mines. Sometimes I would go with Twila and Rose, and later with Isabell, Joe, and Glen. When we got there, after hiking into the hills, Dad would let us go down to the pump house to splash around in the warm water. We always had a great time and Dad was always happy to see us and to show us all the machinery he took care of.
I liked to hear him tell us stories of his boyhood or about some of the Indians out in the Uintah Basin, or of Robber’s Roost. Many times all the kids of the neighborhood would gather at our place, often sitting around the dining room table, to listen to Dad tell us stories and some of his experiences. He took us as a family on trips and outings. In the summer, on a Saturday afternoon, we would all pile into the car, along with lunch baskets, and go to Arrowhead Resort for an afternoon of swimming and picnicking. Sometimes on our way home we would stop in Goshen and stay overnight with Aunt Lizzie and Uncle Rob Boswell. We would spend the evening visiting and getting reacquainted with cousins. We would go to Church with them on Sunday morning then go back and have dinner before going back to Eureka. Dad took us out to West Tintic and into the mountains pine nut hunting. We always seemed to know when the pine cones were ready to pop open and then we would help pull them out and show us how to shake out the nuts.
At another time he took us on a trip that lasted about two weeks. We went over into Price and stayed a few days with Aunt Leona and Uncle Earl Shumway then over into Strawberry where we camped in tents and went fishing. I’ll never forget the terrible roads. They were so narrow, only wide enough for one car and so bumpy. I thought the car was going to tip over. After leaving Strawberry, we were going to go out to Roosevelt to visit Grandma and Grandpa Gagon. We had just left Strawberry when it started to rain. It rained and rained and the further we went the muddier and slicker the roads got. Cars slipped off the road and couldn’t move and finally Dad got stuck. The harder he tried to get out the worse it was. He finally gave up and had to be pulled out by a team of horses. We had to turn back and go home.
Dad was always glad to have his family visit us. I remember most of them coming and how I enjoyed sitting and listening to them talk of old times. What good times they were.
Dad always made our friends feel welcome in our home. He encouraged us to bring them home so that he and Mother could meet and get to know them. I have had friends tell me how much they liked coming to our house because my parents were so friendly and made them feel welcome. After moving to Provo, it seemed like our life changed. Probably because we were all getting older but I think mostly because Dad was so busy trying to make a living and his health was starting to fail. He wasn’t able to go on the trips or to spend the time with the younger children as he did with Joe, Glen, Isabell, and I.
I can remember one time when we still lived in Eureka and I was not too old (about 8 years old) of Dad taking us to conference in Salt Lake. We stayed in a hotel and ate in restaurants (the first time I ever did either). He took us around the Temple grounds and then the meetings in the Tabernacle. But I remember the restaurants best. When I heard bananas and cream was on the menu that was all I wanted. Each time we went to eat Dad would give me a smile and would always tell the waitress to also bring one bowl of bananas and cream. I still like them.
After I was married and before Dad became too ill to go out, hardly a day passed that he didn’t come to see me and to see if everything was okay. He always had to play with Floyd and Wayne and to take them with him in the truck. Wayne was very little, but still remembers going with him.
I don’t believe I ever realized just how much Dad suffered or just how ill he was, for whenever I went home to visit he always seemed in good spirits and always asked about and wanted to see Floyd, Wayne, and little Margaret Ann after she was born. I guess I thought he would always be around for me to talk to and to take my troubles to. When he died I thought my heart would break. At his funeral one of Mother and Dad’s friends, President Frank Birch, spoke and he said that Dad was one of the God’s noblemen, a prince among men. A man admired and respected by all who knew him.
As I have been writing things I remember about my life and Mother and Dad, there are many other things I remember also like the many Christmases and Thanksgivings, parties, sharing our thoughts and treasures with each other, of Mother and Dad seated at the head of the table and having family prayers, of family home evenings with even the small children participating, the good times and the hard times after the depression hit. I feel that I really had a good life while growing up.
I know that my parents had their faults and made mistakes, as everyone does, but I know that they both tried their best to live the “Golden Rule.” They tried to teach us what was right, to love one another, to honor and obey the laws of our great country and to always have respect for other people and to have pride and respect for ourselves.
I have tried in a small way to try and show you, my children, the wonderful heritage that you have in the grandparents that you have been blessed with. I am sorry that your grandfather did not live long enough for all of you to have known him. I know that some of you do remember your grandmother and hope you remember her love for you and all that she did for us as a family. Dad died on May 5, 1942 and Mother died September 11, 1957.
A Sketch of the Life of Lydia Ann Taylor by Venice Durfee
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
A SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF LYDIA ANN TAYLOR
Compiled by granddaughter, Venice Durfee
Lydia Ann Taylor was the 4th child of Jane Lake, who was the second wife of Joseph Taylor, who came to Utah with the pioneers in 1850 and settled in Harrisville in Weber Co.
Lydia Ann was born the 25th of Oct 1858. We don't know much about her girlhood days, but we do know she was a very beautiful young woman. She married my grandfather William Highland Gagon on the 17 of Dec 1876 in Ogden, Utah. He was born in New York on Aug 22nd, 1850. They settled in Harrisville where their first son James William was born Nov 3rd 1877.
A year later on the 14th of Nov 1878, William and Lydia Ann and her sister, Clarissa, and two or three brothers moved to Ashley Valley in Eastern Utah to homestead. This is where the city of Vernal is now located. William farmed and worked in a store part time.
There little son James William passed away when he was 18 months old on April 28, 1879. He was buried in the Rock Point Cemetery northwest of the settlement. The following Sept 10, 1879 this couple was sealed in the Endowment House by President Joseph F. Smith and on the 20 of Nov 1879 they had their little son sealed to them.
They went back to Ashley Valley where another son, Joseph Albert, was born on Dec 15, 1879. William and Lydia were among the first 13 families to settle in the valley. They built 13 log cabins 16 x 16 ft with a 16 ft wall between each cabin to form three sides of a fort. This fort was in the area of Vernal Main Street and where the center of town is now. The Gagon cabin was approximately where the Bank of Vernal is now located. This fort was to protect them from the Indians and was jovially referred to as ‘Jericho.’ A 60 ft well was dug in the center, but they failed to get water, so they had to haul water in barrels from Ashley Creek. Two of Lydia’s brothers lived in the next two cabins west of the Gagon’s, and her sister Clarissa Jane also lived in this fort.
Clarissa Jane was born in Nauvoo on July 4th, 1845 and came to Utah with her parents in 1850 when she was only 5 yrs old. She married Teancum Taylor Aug 15, 1860 in Ogden. He was the son of John Taylor who was a body guard to the Prophet Joseph Smith. She was the mother of 14 children. She died in Vernal at the age of 80 on Nov 29, 1925. Many of her descendants are still living in the Uintah Basin.
1879-80 was a very hard winter. The people of the valley went through some of the most trying times of their pioneer days. The grasshoppers had devoured their crops during the summer. They actually went hungry and lived on daily rations. There were no vegetables or fruit. There were a few deer but they were so poor that not a globule of fat would rise in the pot in which they were boiled. The deep snow and cold winter came early and there was no way out for supplies. The cattle huddled together under ledges or anywhere nature provided shelter from the old and storm. Several hundred head of horses and cattle perished so that by spring there were only a very few left. Milk was luxury of high order and many people died from hunger and exposure.
It became so serious that some of the more valiant and brave men undertook a trip with the best horses and wagons they could get, and went out east of Vernal, over the mountain via Browns Park, fording Green River to Green River City in Wyoming, where they obtained flour and other necessities. They took all the money available in the community with them. As they were returning and came to the river late at night, most of the men wanted to camp. But one man said, “We better ford the river and get on the other side before the spring runoff makes the water any deeper.” They spent the night fording the river and by morning the water had risen so high that it would have been impossible to cross. As they were nearing the Valley, the people could see them coming and three teen-age girls went to meet them. One girl’s father asked her who had died since they left, and when she answered “no one” he broke down and cried uncontrollably. The girls couldn’t understand why he cried when one had died. The flour and provisions were rationed out to each family.
As more families came and the population grew, they went out on homesteads and other communities such as Maeser, Naples, Jensen, and Ashley were started. The center was called Vernal. In 1881, the first school was organized in a one room log cabin where the present Commercial Hotel is now, and for awhile William Gagon taught school there. In 1882, the Fort was torn down and the people moved out on homesteads to farm the land.
In July 1880, right after the hard winter, several men including William Gagon were called to go on a mission to Arizona. They sold all their possessions and went in wagons as far as Ogden. Owing to a terrible accident to one of the company the whole party of colonists was released in August 1880.
William got a job as a contractor for building the Oregon to Salt Lake railroad in 1881 and 1882. Another baby boy, Ira David Gagon, was born to this couple March 17, 1882 in Harrisville. Soon after his birth, William and Lydia Ann returned to Ashley Valley and settled about two miles south of Vernal in Merrill’s Ward, which is now called Naples. Here William served as a counselor in the Stake Sunday School.
According to a file in the Church Historian’s Office, at a conference held in Ashley Stake on Sunday May 20, 1883 at which Apostle Francis M Liman was present, William H. Gagon, along with six others, was blessed and set apart to fill a mission to the Lamanite people. They had much success and baptized over 100 when the Indian agent at White Rocks became angry and drove them out. The Indians, fearing they would lose their government allowance, said they did not dare have any more to do with the missionaries. However, during the year 1883, the missionaries assisted the Indians in making a canal about 15 miles long below the present sight of Ft. Duchesne to Randlett. It was a great success and by 1892, there was a large Indian settlement with many homes and farms. This canal is still in use to this day.
The Gagon’s had their first baby girl, Marzella Jane, born the 3rd of October, 1884 in Merrill’s Ward, Uintah Co. Another son, William Highland Gagon Jr. was born in the same place on January 28, 1887. (He was my father.)
At the organization of the Uintah Stake, William Highland Gagon Sr. was ordained a High Priest and was set apart as a member of the High Council by Samual R. Bennion on May 9, 1887.
The next spring, his lovely wife Lydia Ann was stricken with Typhoid Fever and died 18 May 1888 at the age of 29 leaving four little children, Joseph Albert 9, Ira David about 6, Marzella Jane nearly 3, and William Highland Jr. a little over 1 year old. She had been a devoted wife and mother and was devoted also to the LDS Church. At the time of her death, they were living on a farm nearly two miles south of Vernal. There was a round hill overlooking the whole Valley. Grandfather had his wife buried on this hill and later they deeded it to the city for a cemetery. It is now called the Vernal Memorial Park and many thousands are buried there.
In the fall, William took his two youngest children Marzella Jane and William Highland Jr. to Ogden to live with their grandparents Joseph and Jane Lake Taylor, Just a year later the little girl, Marzella Jane, at the age of 4 ½ went to join her mother and brother in death on May 20, 1889 in Harrisville. The little William continued to live with his grandfather Taylor until he was a teenager when he ran away on his bicycle and peddled it to Eureka to join his father and stepmother and the rest of the family.
William Sr. kept the two older boys, and two and a half years later he married Mary Augusta Goodrich in the Logan Temple on Nov 20, 1890. She was a wonderful Mother to William’s sons and to this couple was born eight other children.
daughter of William Highland, Jr and Albie E. Glenn