JOSEPH HENRY HUNT
Contributor: BeHappy1030 Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
A FULL HISTORY OF JOSEPH HENRY HUNT AND MAYBELL SHAW NIELSEN HUNT
WRITTEN BY AGNES JONES HUNT, ASSISTED BY HER SON PAUL LORRAINE HUNT
Maybell Hunt kept a daily diary the many years I knew her, but regrettably, after she passed away, we were never able to locate that priceless record. Her diary would have been extremely valuable in compiling this history concerning the events of her life and her family; events which many of us have forgotten. Her innermost thoughts, her dreams, her hopes and her interesting experiences would have added significantly to this effort.
The bulk of information compiled for this history was gleaned from numerous family records and from several beautifully written autobiographies. Whenever possible I have attempted to use the exact words of those who offered their assistance. With a heartfelt thanks to the many wonderful people who aided me in this nearly insurmountable undertaking by sharing their personal memories of The Hunts, I would especially like to acknowledge and thank, with a profound and humble gratitude, the following dear people who submitted written information, willingly answered my urgent questions, and fondly recalled their cherished memories: Jake and Clarissa Jones, Johnny Hunt, my husband, Wilma Leavitt, Roma Staheli, Ivan Hunt, Milton Hunt, Walt and Ferona Pulsipher, Lula Waite, Aunt Mary Leavitt, Arthur and Rose Barlocker, Frank NIELSEN, and Ann NIELSEN Hawks.
As is often the case in compiling a family history, the many sources assembled for research will produce many inconsistencies and obvious errors in relation to important historical dates; therefore, I have selected those that and birth dates (and the locations of each) from the sources I felt were more obviously correct-many of which have been authenticated from church records.
Furthermore there was revealed in my research duplicity of spelling for the family name of Nielsen (i.e., Nielsen, Neilson, Neilson). Using the most reliable authority available, and after careful consideration, I have elected to employ throughout this history the spelling, which I consider to be undoubtedly accurate: Nielsen.
NOBILITY WITHOUT A CROWN
With an unflinching courage and undaunted determination, backed by an ancestry of gallant pioneers, Henry and Maybell Hunt accepted the challenge, the hardships, the disappointments and the promise of establishing a legacy of spirituality and diligence for their posterity.
Despite their limited circumstances and constant labor, there remained adequate time for happiness, pleasure and love. For they were enamored with a devout faith in the truthfulness of the Gospel, a respect for life, and an appreciation of their family and friends.
Together they shared the miracle of birth with the coming of their children and the agony, which comes with the death of, loved ones. The memories they shared offer an insight into the nobility of two brave people who achieved the respect of their posterity.
JOSEPH HENRY HUNT (UNCLE HENRY)
Joseph Henry Hunt was born on July 11, 1874 at Hebron, Washington County, Utah, the fifth child of Jonathan (b. September 25, 1845-Mulingbery, ? , Kentucky) and Clarissa Ann Leavitt Hunt (b. December 26, 1845, ? , Hancock County, Illinois, D&C. April 14, 1879-Gunlock, Washington County, Utah). Hebron, located in the extreme southwest part of the state, was once a surprisingly active little town; but today a lonely traveler would pass by the place and never know that a pleasant village once stood there.
Although information pertaining to Henry's childhood is very scarce, a look at the background of his family reveals inherent compulsions, which must have greatly influenced his youth.
His grandfather, Amos Hunt, was one of the first volunteers responding to Pres. Brigham Young's call to settle Utah's Dixie (St. George, Utah). Brigham Young's ambition was to establish settlements throughout the west and in thus doing utilize the vast resources available for the benefit of the Saints. Those called did so without hesitation and with a minimum of preparation.
Later, the heat of southern Utah still fresh in his mind, his grandfather was called to settle in Clover Valley, Lincoln County, Nevada; where he discovered that the Indians were hostile and unpredictable. Eager to ensure the safety of his family and his stock, Amos met with the tribal chief and together they reached an agreement. It was decided that from time to time Amos would give the Indians a cow with the understanding that the Indians, in return, would not steal from him nor harm his family. Nevertheless, uncertain about the extent to which he could trust his red friends, Amos would gather his cows and horses in a corral and post one of the boys to guard them throughout the night. They were told to immediately shoot anyone who might venture out into the night and attempt to enter the corral. Bradford (Jonathan's brother), Henry's uncle, was on guard on one such evening when, at about midnight, an Indian climbed up the bars and started to open the gate. Without hesitation, certain of his aim, Bradford shot the Indian. He went directly to the small camp where he found the chief and bravely admitted what he had done. The old chief assured Bradford that the straight Indian was not a member of his tribe.
But us the problems persisted and the tensions grew, Amos became more distrustful, and as a result moved his family to Hebron, Utah and, later, onto Gunlock, Utah. It was here in this peaceful little village where his son Jonathan, met and married Clarissa Ann Leavitt (December 11, 1864).
Jonathan took his new wife, a smile still be on his handsome square jaw face, and settled in Hebron. It was here that Henry was born. Amos Marian (born May 17, 1876-Gunlock, Washington County, Utah), another son was born after the new family returned to live in Gunlock.
Henry's mother died when he was about five years old, therefore it became necessary for him to be raised by his father's other wife, Mary Ann Hughes (born February 19, 1863-Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah: died January 11, 1895, Blue Valley, Wayne County, Utah) and his big sister, Mary Jane (born October 11, 1868, Hebron, Washington County, Utah: died March 11, 1933-Enterprise, Washington County, Utah). Years later, Henry would recall only one occasion that he could remember when he had seen his mother. They buried her in the Gunlock Cemetery, and a massive void was left in young Henry's heart.
But there was little time for prolonged moments of prolonged moments of challenge and adventure, humanity constant attention; and this was a time for exploring and growing and learning the importance of the Gospel.
Henry had been baptized and confirmed September 7, 1882, by his father, and suddenly his world expanded beyond the limited horizons of this strange valley his father had moved them to.
It was after his mother's death that his father received a call to assist in colonizing the Wayne County area of Utah. Undoubtedly it was a painful move, leaving his family and friends, but Jonathan answered the call gave his home to his son, John, and moved his family to Blue Valley.
So the young boy dreamed his dreams, assisted his father in the task of obtaining this harsh, demanding country, and learned to appreciate the love and support of his family. In a land where neighbors were few, themselves busy with the constant labors of providing for their own families, there were many moments of loneliness, of small defeats; but there were always the fond memories to soften the unfeeling blows to his young mind.
Henry, his preoccupied mind recalling happier times and old friends, never forgot his years in southern Utah. With a young man's determination, he persisted in his attempts to convince his father that he should be allowed to return to Gunlock, Utah. His father patiently explained that when he was old enough to make the trip alone, he would allow him to return. So when Henry was 17 and his brother, Amos, 15, Jonathan gave his permission for them to go back to where their mother was buried-where they could live with their brother, John.
On the day of their departure, Jonathan gave the boys three choices: they could follow the road, which would make the trip longer: or they could wait and catch a ride; or they could take the route through the mountain passes and thus make the trip faster. They chose the faster approach. Carefully, concern obvious in his voice, their father informed them that if they would walk directly west that they would reach Gunlock. "Watch the mountains; where the sun sets, you'll know that is west and in this manner direct your course." They took a 45-60 rifle, one horse, a frying pan, a jug for water, a sack containing flour, baking powder and salt, which had all been mixed together; thus the task of making bread was made much easier; they could simply add water and bake. Along with a couple of quilts, they had a bag of cookies, which their stepmother had provided. Young men, being what they are, are not always concerned with the future, so it was that they consumed the cookies the first day on the trail. Later, as they attempted to live off the land, and on those nights when they were hungry, they could not help but remember the taste of their stepmother's gift.
Their father walked with them until the first night, showing them how and where to make camp, and reminding them of the importance of climbing the hills in the evening to watch for the sunsets, which would direct their way.
Carefree and eager, alert to the uniqueness of this land-the ever-changing beauty of the mountains and valleys-the young men hurried along their way. Following a westward course, watching as the red of the western sky faded softly into a violet rainbow, they studied the majestic mountains, which were faintly visible in the distance.
One evening, tired after a long hard trip, the thrill of adventure only slightly overshadowed by the persistence of their nagging hunger, they came to an apple orchard. Most of the fruit had been picked, but a few remained in the topmost branches. This was just too good of an opportunity to allow to pass. The boys decided that one would stand guard while the other boy climbed the tree to fill their bag. Busy at his task the boy in the tree was not aware of any trouble until he heard a husky voice below him. "What in the world are you doing up there?" the voice questioned with a frightening outburst. The culprit was paralyzed, panic exploded in his eyes. He was caught red-handed, and he knew that he could never deny his actions. "We were hungry. We have walk a long way today and these apples looked mighty tempting" he finally managed to stammer. With a thoughtful nod of his head, the farmer waited for the boy to reach the ground. "Before you eat those apples," he said with a firm tone of voice, "I want you to come to the house with me.” Amusement sparkled in his eyes. Without a second thought the boys followed him to the house where the kind farmer fed them a delicious hot supper and furnish them with a comfortable bed. The next morning they were fed a nourishing breakfast and supplied with a bag of food. They went on their way rejoicing.
When they arrive at capitol wash, the boys saw a beautiful meadow ahead and decided to stay there for the night. As they entered the peaceful valley, they discovered an Indian camp, so they quickly passed by and hurried on to locate a suitable site. They selected a small hill, a short distance from where they had seen the Indians, and prepared for the evening. In the glow from the campfire, here in the call of the night, they watch the moonrise and heard the yipping of a coyote. This sky was literally jumping with stars and a peace floated through the fresh evening air. The longer they talked, the more convinced they became that this was a perfect opportunity to have some fun. They crept to the top of the hill, being careful not to alert the unsuspecting red men, and gleefully fired three or four shots into their campfire. Indians started to scatter in all directions. Panic struck the peaceful camp. And the night was filled with the laughter of the young men. But laughter gave way to logic, and Henry and Amos realized what they had done could very easily cost them their lives. Frightened and alone, they hurriedly mounted their horse and fled into the night. Not until their horse became too tired to continue did they stop to rest. All the time, as they ran, they thought for sure that the Indians were in hot pursuit; but as it turned out, the Indians started to track them only to find out the boys were just passing through and so they did not pursue them farther.
Throughout the weeks on the road, the boys killed rabbits, squirrels and other small game for food. Living off the land, as they were, they became quite hungry at times; but they were young and determined.
As they neared the end of their long journey, they came to a small town where they were told to go directly west and they would come off the mountain to Cedar city. When they reach Pinto Henry remembered the road; so, being in familiar territory, they hurried confidently on their way.
It took them three weeks and one day to travel from Blue Valley to Gunlock, but it was a trip filled with memories and important to their futures.
At Gunlock they lived with their brother, John (Johnathan Reed: born June 30, 1872-Hebron, Washington County, Utah: died May 21, 1914-Gunlock, Washington, Utah), and soon went to work for Franklin O. Holt.
But now Henry was a young man, and suddenly his thoughts would stray, filling his idle moments with the gentle warmth of romance.
While living in Gunlock, Henry was "keeping company" with a girl everyone expected he would marry. Her name was Mary Ellen Holt, and for a time they shared the joys which came with the first awareness of love. But in the little village there lived a strange little lady who some thought was prophetically inspired. Mrs. Leavitt had been raised by Joseph Smith, which added to her mystic.” Henry," she said one day, her voice gentle with understanding, "you are going to marry a girl whose name starts with' M' but it won't be Mary Ellen." Among her other startling observations was a prediction that a straight line would run down the black ridge east of Gunlock, and that someday wheeled vehicles would come down that ridge. Today the power plant pipe runs where she said the straight-line would be, and a road has been constructed on the ridge, which has a regular traffic of automobiles.
Amos, during those happy times in Gunlock, married Frank Holt's daughter, Mary Ellen (December 8, 1896); the girl who might have married his older brother
Those were good years and Gunlock, years of good honest work, good friends and a promise off romance. But soon it was time to move on. Amos remained in Gunlock, but Henry returned to Blue Valley. The return to that savage, little country-
so filled with challenge, so eager to defeat every aspiration, so breath-taking beautiful. He oftimes remarked, after enough time had passed to allow him to remember without fear or regret, how they almost starved to death while living in that peaceful little valley.
But he had returned… And the future held a special moment, one that would give a lasting meaning to the remainder of his life.
MAYBELL SHAW NIELSEN HUNT (AUNT MAY)
Maybell Shaw Nielsen Hunt was born on March 14, 1883, at Cameron, Clinton County, Missouri, too Minnie Schiller Shaw (born May 10, 1862-Weston, Platt County, Missouri) and William Carlos Shaw. Information pertaining to Maybell's biological father has been lost with the passing of time; and only a brief record remains, along with a few memories, which Maybell's mother passed on to her. (William Carlos Shaw: born August 21, 1849-Madison,?, Missouri: died January 11, 1888 or 1886-somewhere in Missouri; baptized by proxy-July 3, 1888 in the Manti Temple: Endowed-February 11 1892). Maybell's only knowledge of her father and the type of man he might have been was that he was known as a great hunter. Also, it was said that he had a keen ear which enabled him to lay his ear against a train rail and in thus doing predict how soon the next train would arrive. Scant memories to content a young lady over the years, but it was all she had. And although she attempted many times to reach back into her past to locate her father, efforts were without reward.
Shortly after Maybell's birth, Minnie divorced William Shaw, maintaining that the man was lazy. Those were unpredictable and troubled times for the mother and her new baby; times when starvation seemed an honest and constant threat. So with that enduring determination which had always been a part of her personality, she went her separate ways.
Minnie's mother, Johanna Betha Hiderbock (Born January 16, 1827-Wenersdorf, Prussia) have also divorced her husband, Johanna's Ferdinand Schiller (Born about 1828-somewhere in Prussia: died date unknown in Prussia) and so the two women lived together. Grandma Schiller, as she was so affectionately called by their loved ones, cared for Maybell while Minnie worked. There grew a love between the granddaughter and the grandmother, which, over the years, caused Maybell to frequently reiterate what a wonderful woman grandma Schiller, and how she would always hold a deep affection for that dear lady.
By 1884 Minnie had taken her child, along with her mother, and located in Denver, Colorado. Once again Maybell was left in the care of her grandmother while Minnie worked in a hotel. In a strange new land, among people she did not know, struggled to provide for her family. It was a beautiful city, this mile-high city, nestled in a pleasant valley, high in the Rocky Mountain Range; but the most important event to occur here would be her exposure to a new concept and way of life. For it was here that she met and married Niels Joseph Nielsen (born March 11, 1855-Ovard-Holbrok, Denmark: died November 30, 1939-Manti, Sanpete County, Utah) on April 12, 1855, in Trenadad, Colorado. Minnie later learned that Niels, whom she had first met while they were working together at the hotel, was a Mormon.
This new religion attracted her attention, caused her to develop a profound desire to learn more about this new way of life, which gave such devout faith and dedication to her husband. As her respect and admiration grew, so too did her desire to travel to Utah to investigate Mormonism and, above all, to hear the elders preach increase. Eventually Niels was able to scrape together enough money and provisions to enable Minnie to make the trip. She and her daughter, Maybell, whom she had brought along for companionship, were met at the train station with cordial acceptance by Neil's family. Almost immediately she began her study of the church and was soon filled with a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel and a respect for its ultimate purpose. So on July 11, 1886, with a feeling of contentment and happiness warm in her heart, she was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Her new religion would offer her and unfaltering strength and they lovingly gentle support from His tender hand, but it would also bring a rigorous responsibility and a concentrated dedication to the requests of the leaders of the church. This was not a religion for skimmed milk Saints; her faith would be challenged, and at times it would seem impossible to respond to the "calls" to serve, but she would be required to stand firm and faithful in her belief.
Preceding the year of 1888, Maybell's family was together in Fairview, Sanpete County, Utah, where Neils-who had joined them-became a carpenter, and built then a nice eight-room house. These were special times for this brave family, and Maybell would often recall the happy events involving their many dear friends and their relatives, who shared those years in Fairview.
On August 1, 1888, Niels and Minnie traveled to the Manti Temple where they received their endowments and were sealed for time and all eternity. At the same time Maybell, James Williams (her new baby brother) and their little sister, Anna Rosa, were sealed to them. Rosa (born January 21, 1879-Osborn, Decalb County, Missouri; died January 25, 1879) was the daughter of John Ellis (birth and death dates unavailable), Minnie’s first husband.
Minnie never had very good health, so as a result Niels (who loved to dance) would take Maybell to the Elder’s dances where he taught her the two step, waltz, polka, Spanish Waltz, schottische, plain and tucker quadrille. Of course, Maybell did not object; she loved to dance. Throughout her life, whenever she would hear music played, she would tap her feet and move to the sound of the rhythm.
Entertainment, scarce as it was, was provided in many inventive ways. Niels built a nice two-seated sled, which allowed room for Maybell and Jim (James William Nielsen; born August 20, 1887-Fairview, Sanpete County, Utah; died ?, Downey, ?, California) in the backseat, and room for Niels and Minnie in the front. They owned a beautiful black horse named Nick, who was full of life and ready to go. On the day Utah became a state (January 4, 1896) Niels loaded the family in the sled and drove up and down the street with Niels yelling yip-e-e-e-e and waving his hat. When Nick would start running too fast, Niels simply drove him out into the deep snow and the horse would slow down.
The years passed into fond memories, and Maybell became a young lady.
On one occasion, Maybell’s sister, Mary Euphrasia (born August 1899-Giles, Wayne County, Utah) recalls: “Jim took us two girls in his buggy and put us on the train. Mamma had given us strict instructions to not talk to strangers. The train was so crowded that Maybell had to sit three seats back from me. I sat with three young men around seventeen and eighteen years old. They turned the seats to face each other and ate bananas, cookies and etc. most of the way. They offered me some, but when I looked back at Maybell she shook her head ‘no’. I imagine the boys thought I was a little dumb or unfriendly. Certainly no one wanted to kidnap me. But we didn’t trust any strangers. I remember one thing: I suffered great embarrassment. I also remember our trip home to the ranch. We ate around a campfire; had bread, bacon and fried rabbit.”
Some compelling drive, forever present, seemed to possess Maybell; a yearning need to explore, to vent her youthful exuberance, to experience every aspect of life. Her greatest pleasure was to travel; the destination nor the purpose was not immediately important. She simply loved the freedom and the excitement of seeing new locations and meeting new people.
Aunt Mary recalls another experience: “On our way to Gunlock one time we found to our dismay that we had to stop over night in Provo. We found a room for 50 cents, bought six doughnuts, and then lacked 7 cents to pay our train ticket. Finally the ticket agents let us go and took Maybell’s I.O.U. and she actually mailed that 7 cents to him when we got home.”
From Maybell’s brother’s history comes a fascinating glance into the nature of her personality. Jim writes: “Aunt Levy said I was the homeliest kid she ever delivered. Father, who was homelier than I was, sure was proud of me (his first son) and was sure I’d be President of the United States. Mother who was really beautiful, had to tolerate me; and my sister, Maybell, took me over. She was my mother’s daughter by a previous marrage. She could whip any kid in Fairview. She and I fought all of the time, which kept her in trim, but let no one else bother me unless they wanted trouble. As long as Maybell lived she retained the feisty characteristic. If someone stepped on her toe or the toe of a friend she would come up slugging.”
In the fall of 1897 the Church called several families to assist in establishing a settlement in the lower part of Wayne County. This area seemed so remote from the gentle, friendly atmosphere of their small-town home; so absolutely different when compared to the inviting green hills of northern Utah. For this was a land where sultry heat and immeasurable distances reluctantly greeted forlorn and emotionally exhausted pioneers. They would call it Blue Valley because of the unique blue hills, which surrounded the sandy flatland where they would build their homes and bravely learn to endure the isolation and the hardships.
Niels and Minnie received their call in 1898, and quickly prepared to move. With such short notice, eager to comply rapidly with the request of the Church, Niels attempted to sell his home and was forced to accept what Niels called “chips and whetstones”—a dishearteningly low amount. In only two wagons they packed all their “worldly goods”, leaving behind many priceless possessions, which might have made life more bearable in their new home.
Upon arriving at Blue Valley, bedraggled and melancholy, they drove up to the front of a small one-room shack. This forlorn little shanty, crudely constructed of rough boards—which allowed light to pass through the many cracks—must have been a frightening sight. “Well, we’re home, Minnie!” Niels said light-heartedly, trying to ease the doubtful expression from his wife’s concerned face. At first Minnie refused to believe him—but the helpless expression on Niels’ face caused her the shed bitter tears. As her husband gently placed his arm around her heaving shoulders, she wondered why the Church would ever ask its members to come to such a forsaken, barren, unfeeling place. “Don’t try to swallow the whole situation at once, Minnie,” Niels explained tenderly, squinting against the brightness of the blinding glare of this harsh, raw land. “Just take one thing at a time.”
The idea of living here with her children, among the bugs, snakes, lizards and flies, was so disheartening, so discouraging to Minnie that she honestly did not believe she could stand it. They were at least one mile from their nearest neighbor; isolated from family and friends.
However, with a heroic determination and inexhaustible strength, she finally adjusted, and revealed that she was truly a courageous pioneer. So she made a home for her family. There was one bedstead for Niels and Minnie—the children would sleep on the floor—and a few used boxes to be used for chairs and a trunk for a table. For a time they had a small tent which helped house the family until the day the hot desert winds blew it to pieces. The tiny dilapidated house swayed in the brisk winds, which blew sand through the cracks, coating everything with piles of gritty dust. And when the sky would turn an angry black with heavy clouds, emptying a flood of rain down upon the defenseless little shanty, the roof would leak, and every pot and pan available would be hurriedly placed to catch the tiny waterfalls. There were no screens on the door or windows, so one of the family had to “brush” the flies away while the family ate. The mosquitoes, multiplying by the thousands on the swampy shores of the river, became obnoxious menace to those struggling, vigilant people; the mosquitoes, always there to torment and to bring a constant threat of illness.
Wayne County was a land of fertile soil, inviting to a farmer’s eager hands, and strangely beautiful scenery. It was through this valley that the Fremont River wended its way past blue shadowed mesas, multi-colored bluffs and stark, clay-textured hills. This river was known by the pioneers who settled on its banks as the Dirty Devil River. A treacherous river, with flash floods and quicksand, it reluctantly afforded an uncertain water supply to the determined, struggling Mormon families who had been called to tame that intolerable valley. During the hot dry summer months, the river would diminish to a frighteningly small sluggish stream. But with the coming of the spring showers, the river would become a wild, uncontrollable monster.
Here in this valley of challenge, Maybell grew and was soon a young lady with rosy cheeks, a lean, brisk-moving frame, and eyes that sparkled mischievously. Her profound love of adventure and travel and her passion for dancing remained. If there was a dance, Maybell was sure to be there.
It was at one such dance when Maybell first saw Henry Hunt, and in that wonderful moment a special, beautiful excitement flashed in her eyes. He was a handsome young man, “kicking up his heels” and flirting outrageously with all the young ladies. As Henry returned to the bandstand where his violin helped to provide the music, Maybell asked, her voice filled with half amusement and half interest, pointing indifferently towards the young man, “Who’s that green cheese over there?”
Nevertheless, despite her outward display of apparent calm and the resistance revealed in her dispassionate smile, she had found the man who would soon be her husband.
HENRY AND MAYBELL
Henry and Maybell were married on March 14, 1900, at Giles (Blue Valley), Wayne County, Utah, by Eligah W. Mayhew. Considering the privation of the time, it was a grand wedding. Friends and relatives came, some traveling long distances, to offer their congratulations and to enjoy a feast of the finest food available. Everyone ate their fill, a rare occasion in a land where food was frightfully scarce. There was a nice wedding dance, at a small log church house, and it was generally agreed that the seventeen-year-old bride and the twenty-six year old groom made a mighty handsome couple.
In a beautiful clump of cottonwood trees, the newlyweds built a lowly frame cabin, crudely constructed on a stone foundation with hard-packed dirt for a floor and a rough plank roof.
Henry would carefully, lovingly plant his crops, building dams to turn the water from the river to irrigate, only to face defeat, as the devilish river would go on the rampage. Suddenly, with a strength, which mocked Henry’s many hours of hard labor, the dams, the crops, and often his animals would be swept into the selfish, greedy stream. The men, driven by panic and fear would take long handled pitchforks or long poles and carefully pull the melons and squash and other pieces of property to the shore. It must be remembered that these people were fighting for their life’s sustenance.
Two boys were born to Henry and Maybell while they were living in Blue Valley: Jonathan Amos (born May 11, 1901 – Giles, Wayne County, Utah) and Joseph William
(born July 5, 1903 – Giles, Wayne County, Utah). Isolated in this sparsely-populated area, without benefit of doctors or experienced midwives (the nearest doctor was over seventy miles away), Maybell gave birth to her precious sons. When Willie was born he was turned the wrong way. Maybell was in labor many long agonizing hours and in very serious condition; but through the mercy of the Lord and the administering of the Elders, the lives of both mother and child were spared.
Times were lean while the Hunts were living in Giles. One can hardly imagine what those stalwart people endured as they struggled to raise their family and to adjust to this barren land. It was a constant battle for mere survival. Johnnie often recalls how his mother would take ears of corn, scrape them over the rough bottom of a tin pan (made rough by driving nails through the inside bottom of the pan). In this manner she would make cornmeal to furnish bread to feed her family. There were times when they would suffer the queasy pain of diarrhea from eating an excess of this cornmeal.
With the ever-present longing for travel and the pleasure of visiting with old friends still stirring in her veins, there must have been a dull ache in Maybell’s stomach when she was forced to spend months, usually never less than a year, without escaping the desolation of Blue Valley.
For years Henry smoked cigarettes, and although he had a deep single-minded desire to quit the habit, the task seemed completely impossible. Only when a “healer” from Provo, Utah, James E. Hall, who had heard of Henry’s problem and offered to give a blessing, did Henry find relief. Mr. Hall promised Henry that if he would not touch a cigarette for nine days straight, he would never have the desire to smoke again. Faithfully following the advice, Henry, who was thirty-one years old, never smoked another cigarette.
On July 19, 1905, Henry and Maybell traveled to the Manti Temple and received their endowments, and were sealed to each other for time and eternity. At the same time their two boys, Johnnie and Willie, were sealed to them.
The young couple bore the hardships, the poverty and the challenge of Blue Valley for four long years; but it was not all bad times. They had dances, socials and church to divert them away from their problems. Along with the six other families who shared the valley, they would be joined by friends from other locations to attend these functions. Henry played the violin for the dances and sometimes, Maybell would play the organ. They would take their small children on their horses and ride four or five miles from their ranch to furnish music to those pleasure-starved groups. When the children became drowsy, a bed was made on the “stage” and they could sleep peacefully until it was time to return home. Later, after the last dance had been enjoyed, the two tired parents took their two sleepy boys, held them onto the horses, and headed slowly back to their farm.
Maybell, unhesitatingly opinionated, never cared much for her father-in-law, Jonathan. He was a jealous man, unassailable in his approach and concept of proper conduct, and frequently tried to make trouble between Henry and Maybell. Henry played for the dances while Maybell, who was an attractive young woman and a graceful dancer, willingly danced with the other men of the valley. Jonathan adamantly explained to Henry, his voice forceful and cynical, that Henry should not allow his wife to seeing so freely, so gaily, around the floor with these other man; her place was sitting here at his side. Maybell’s resentment of her father-in-law’s meddling and harassment brought her to the end of her patience. In a sudden explosion of rage, she rapidly kicked Jonathan on the shins with all her strength. The next day she saw Jonathan coming down the road towards their house, and the bitterness of his insinuations flamed anew her eyes. Quickly she grabbed a full bucket of water, and when Jonathan entered the door she let him have the liquid attack full blast in the face. No one stepped on her toes without feeling the sting of her fiery temper.
Many of the fondest memories of Blue Valley that the boys would remember would be the times they spent with their parents. Johnnie recalls the pleasure he received from the fun times he and his father had trapping red and gray foxes at the base of the Henry Mountains.
In the summer of 1902 the people of Blue Valley raised an especially abundant crop, and with the fresh memory of the hunger they had battled the preceding winter, they tried to save everything they raised. Without bottles or freezers, they employed the next best method: they put up barrels of cucumber pickles, sauerkraut, and molasses. Most of the fruit and vegetables, including slices of tomatoes and muskmelons, were dried on the flat roof of their cabin, out of the reach of hungry children and the thievish chipmunks. Grandma Schiller, hardworking as always, did most of the work involved in the drying process. One day, as she scurried up the ladder to the roof with another batch of fruit, she fell and like a broken doll to the ground. The fall almost killed her. She was never really well again. As a result of the accident, she had a crippling stroke and became helpless. She died on July 3, 1903. Dear old Grandma Schiller, who never turned out for any of the snakes, mice, rats, scorpions or brush animals. They just “lost their heads” when they came within her reach. She fearlessly slaughtered a massive population of these pesky creatures over the years. That dear, beloved lady, who had fought so hard and so long to provide for her posterity, and who had been so dearly loved by Maybell, was laid to rest. Niels, Minnie, Maybell, Henry and some of the neighbors built a simple coffin and lined it with the best material available. After the services, she was buried in the Giles’ cemetery—“high and dry”—at the foot of a gravel bench. A marker was placed at the head of her grave made from a large cedar stump, smoothed on one side, with her name, birth and death dates written with hails driven into the smoothed surface of the stump.
After Grandmother Schiller died, Henry and Maybell brought Maybell’s parents and the other members of the family to Sunnyside—a small mining town in Carbon County—where Henry obtained employment. Grandpa Nielsen bought a large tent, which he “boarded up to the square”; here the family ate their meals. A dugout was carved into the side of a mountain, which served as a bedroom.
While living at Sunnyside, Maybell’s brother, Joseph August (born September 26, 1893—Fairview, Sanpete County, Utah: died January 18, 1962—St. George, Washington County, Utah), came to live with them. He soon learned that he was allergic to the coal dust, which clouded the small town with a thick gray haze. Maybell was extremely happy to have Joseph with her, for he always had a special place in her heart.
The family resided at Sunnyside until December of 1903, when they moved to Huntington, Emery County, Utah. It was in this small farming town where their third child was born. Clarisa May, their first daughter, was born on September 8, 1905.
Henry worked at many types of employment. For a time he bought produce from the Huntington farmers and hauled the load to Sunnyside where he peddled to the citizens who were eager to get the fresh fruit and vegetables.
Their second daughter was born while they were at Huntington. They named her Ella Jane (born August 26, 1907)
Imagine, if you can, the heartache and the terror of this brave little family when it was decided that they should move back to Giles. With the haunting memory of Blue Valley forever burned into her mind, Maybell was reluctant to return. Her daughter, Clarisa, reports that she heard her mother say many times how she had shed buckets of tears on that day in 1908 when they packed and traveled once again into the arid sandy wastelands which had ushered so much suffering into their lives.
For months they would have nothing but cornbread and water gravy to eat. All the old fears and hardships returned, and the future offered little hope. On rare occasions someone would get a piece of fat bacon, and they would generously share it with their neighbors to make a “greaser.” The greaser was a piece of bacon rind, which hung from a string behind the cook stove. To a community without benefit of cooking oils, this valuable piece of bacon was used to grease the bread pans and other pans for baking.
About 1910, after years of heroic efforts by these courageous pioneers the impoverished condition of the Saints in Blue Valley became a matter of grave concern to those Church leaders who were directly responsible for the welfare of the settlers. Word was sent that the people were released from their calls to settle the area and were free to make their homes elsewhere.
Despite their valiant attempts to conquer and subdue the Dirty Devil River and to bring a peace to this wild, unrivaled valley, Henry and Maybell decided they had fought the elements of this savage land to the end of their endurance; so, on March 15, 1910, the loaded their earthly possessions onto a wagon, tied their milk cow behind, and with their four small children began the trek over a rutty, road less, barren wasteland towards Enterprise, Washington County, Utah—far down in the southwestern part of the state.
With the exception of Jonathan Hunt—show shared a loyal faith in the ultimate potential of this imponderable valley with his son, Henry—everyone departed from Giles. Henry, eager to complete the task he had begun, would have willingly stayed; but Maybell’s health had progressively deteriorated and he felt that the move might lift her spirits and restore her strength. Otherwise he could possibly lose her.
Maybell had never been able to fully adjust to this monotonous, incredible valley; she often said that she was certain that Blue Valley was cursed, ruled by the devil, because so many terrible things had happened to them while they lived there. After she finally escaped, she never again desired to return and stubbornly refused to talk about those haunting days.
Since Henry had lived in southern Utah—remembered the sweet scents of rich earth and leafy trees and colorful flowers of that peaceful locale—it was decided that they would settle in that area. So on March 10, 1910, they carefully loaded every pound the teams could pull and began the long journey to their new home.
Johnnie’s Uncle Jack Nielsen (John Henry: born August 24 1901-Giles, Wayne County, Utah: died, July ?, 1977—Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah), whom he had played with when they were young boys, rode along with them for the first few miles. When he jumped down from the wagon and turned to tell them good-bye, his emotions overcame him and he threw himself, face down, onto the ground and cried as if his heart would break. His dear friend was leaving and the thought was too painful to accept. His friend with whom he had trapped squirrels and chipmunks. Perhaps he was remembering how Johnnie’s little sister (Clarisa) would tag along, despite the fact they boys were not too happy with her company—but she had followed anyway.
The Hunts traveled for three exhaustive weeks to make the trip from Giles to Enterprise; three long unnerving weeks in which they experienced severe storms which would slow their progress to four or five miles per day. On those first few days, the rain would pelt down with frightening force, turning their path into an unexpected quagmire, and the wagon wheels would bind with caked mud until they would refuse to turn. Nevertheless Henry was patient, brave, as cheerful as possible—setting an example for Maybell and his children to keep them from worrying—and they pushed forward. There was a good wagon cover which helped to protect the bedding and the family, and the appeal of their destination gave them strength and courage. One night, after a long tiring day, they camped in a majestic, peaceful canyon where the dancing flames from their campfire reflected on the craggy ledges, creating a beautiful, spellbinding scene. As was customary before retiring for the evening, Henry went to check his animals, but he soon returned with the disastrous, terrifying news that one of the horses was down and foaming from the mouth. Quickly, panic driving him, Henry did everything he could think of to save the horse. “I’m afraid she’s going to die,” he whispered, putting his overpowering fears into words.
Can you imagine the plight of those weary travelers? The chances of anyone coming along this desolate rarely traveled road to offer assistance should the animal die, were very remote.
Henry returned to the wagon, carefully washed his trembling hands, and asked Maybell for the consecrated oil. He felt that he might have given the horse too much cold water, too fast, while it was still hot from the long pull of with the heavy load. Hurrying back to the sick animal, Henry’s eyes filled with compassion, he promptly applied a small amount of the oil to the horse’s head and reverently gave the afflicted beast a blessing. Very shortly the horse got to its feet, and by noon the following day was able to travel. God had come to the rescue of the Hunts. The power of the Priesthood shined forth.
They traveled until dark one day, hoping to arrive at Lund, Utah before nightfall. It had stormed all day, the air was cold, and the team gave out. The trip from Giles had taken longer than they had anticipated, and their food supply, for both man and animals, had become dangerously low. Aware of the pressing need for food, Henry decided he would leave the family and hurry on to Lund on horseback. Carefully explaining to his family, a tone of demand in his voice that they should stay in the wagon he rode off towards the west and was soon lost from view in the shadows of the storm. But Lund was farther than he had estimated, and he was gone for more than three hours. When he did not return, Maybell became worried, concerned for the safety of her husband; so, she gathered her children around her, and with a fervent prayer she prayed for Henry’s safe return. Again and again they prayed, pleading for the comfort of their father’s smiling face. Maybell peered out towards the south through a thick veil of falling snow, but the visibility was poor; and she felt the loneliness of isolation and the seething terror of the unknown. After what seemed endless hours, the family heard from an immeasurable distance the wonderful sound of Henry’s loud familiar whistle. A calm came over Maybell and the children shouted their greetings.
The next morning, the Hunts saw a lone horseman riding towards them with deliberate speed. As the man approached closer, Henry suddenly recognized the ride. “Billy Truman, you old son-of-a-gun!” Henry yelled and grinned widely. Billy had married Henry’s sister, Jane, and the familiar face was certainly welcome to these lonely travelers. Henry had called Billy from Lund, and of course Billy had responded. Later Maybell would say that she had never seen anyone she was happier to see. Billy had come to welcome them and had brought a fresh horse to enable them to speed their journey. The Hunts ended their exhaustive and seemingly interminable trek at the Truman home in Enterprise. Here they would remain for several weeks—working, and resting from the tensions of their harrowing trip.
The following May Day, Uncle Billy made the suggestion that they do go to Gunlock to spend the day. One can easily imagine how quickly Maybell must have agreed—and, of course, Henry, eager to bring that special sparkle to his sweet wife’s eyes, complied. There is not place in the world, which spends May Day, as did Gunlock, Utah. The entire town turned out, willingly taking their families up to Dudley’s Grove or down to Box Elder Grove for a picnic of all kinds of delicious foods. Throughout the day there would be games and sports and contests—with sacks of candy for the winning children. For many years Gunlock made this a special day—truly a holiday—but traditions change and today May Day does not inspire a celebration to match those special days of the past.
The friendly people, the subtle fragrance of the roses, and the gentle, lush green of the vegetation—such a welcomed change from the bitter cold winds, the snow and mud of Enterprise—captured Maybell’s attention and she immediately asked Henry if it might be possible for them to move and settle here. Thus it was that they returned to Enterprise, packed their belongings, and once again traveled to a new location where they would make their home.
Maybell’s baby brother, Frank (Isaac Franklin: born May 9, 1904—Sunnyside, Carbon County, Utah), wrote this beautiful description of Gunlock in his picturesque, fascinating book, “Reminiscences”: “Late in the autumn when the crops were in, and the last of the sorghum was drained from the vats the time for mutual recreation was approaching.
“The cattle were driven down from the summer range. People moved into town from the outlaying ranches. The old fashioned cellars were stocked with a bounteous supply of food.”
“In the evenings everyone gathered before their cheerful stone fireplaces and the town just cozily tucked itself in to wait for spring.”
“When the Christmas holidays drew near exciting things started to happen. Matched team pulling matches, horse racing, jumping matches, parties, dances and chicken suppers.”
(This is a perfect description of Gunlock in the twenties and thirties. Thank you, Uncle Frank, for giving me your permission to use it in this History.—A.J.H.
Originally Henry planned to run his brother John’s farm, but they had been settled only a short time when Amm Truman relinquished his homestead rights and offered the ranch to the Hunts. Henry quickly accepted, and gave Mr. Truman a wagon as a down payment. The ranch was located on the Magutsu Wash, north of Gunlock. They were about halfway between the Bigelow Ranch and the Albert Truman Ranch. Located in a pleasant valley between two ridges of vermilion-toned sandstone and glossy black lava, the ranch had two springs and a small water right to the creek, which ran through their land. There was much work to do before the ranch would be productive; but Henry, grabbing a grubbing hoe and an axe, quickly attacked the snarled patches of bittersweet sagebrush. Soon the air was clouded with a pungent aroma of burning tumbleweeds and greasewood and sagebrush. With dedicated labor and long hours the land was soon cleared and the planting begun. They worked continuously, vigilantly, and utilized the full potential of the rich soil. If the water was available, Henry found something to plant. With many endless hours of energetic labor, they made the ranch into a splendid place of quiet peace and lovely, green fields, which Joe Nielsen once described as “The Garden of Eden.”
In the beginning the Hunts lived in a small board shack; but Henry, Joe Nielsen and some of the boys built a large rock home. It must have been accelerating to their spirits to have such a sturdy, well-built home after so many years of living exposed to the bitter strings of nature.
Life on the ranch was demanding, requiring a constant, unflinching labor, for they were just beginning and the crops had just been planted. Once again hunger became an unmistakable, terrorizing threat, and Maybell would remember those first few months with haunting memories of Henry crawling on his hands and knees to the house from the fields, because he was weak from lack of food. There were times, more than Maybell cared to remember, when Henry would get the “trembles” as a result of working too hard and too fast and too long. He would stagger to the house—his eyes wide with panic and his lips white and drawn with tension—quickly eat a piece of bread spread with sugar, and then determinedly return to resume his work.
Maybell could make a tasty meal from practically nothing; she would take some dried venison jerky, cut it into tiny bits, and serve it smothered in smooth, flavorful gravy. On one occasion when Henry invited a man to dinner who had stopped at the ranch, Maybell was caught without anything in the house to eat except a small piece of bacon rind. Without hesitation, eager to provide for her guest, Maybell boiled the bacon, added what seasoning she had available to the watery broth, and made a batch of egg noodles. Needless to say, the man enjoyed the meal.
Every spring the ranchers from Santa Clara—a small community further down the canyon on the Santa Clara River—would drive their cattle from the winter reserve through Gunlock and up the canyon past the Hunt ranch on their easy to the summer reserve. One spring morning, after the “cattle drive” had passed, Henry, who had gone to change the water, found a cow and her newborn calf in the lower pasture. Aware of the rightful owner of the animals, Henry watched for the ranchers to return; but he missed them when they passed by. In the meantime he corralled the cow and penned the small calf. The milk was soon good to drink and the family truly enjoyed the fresh, nutritious addition to their scant food supply. After confirming the owner of the animals, Henry sent a letter to Mr. Hafen of Santa Clara and explained the situation. Two weeks later, Mr. Hafen, who was happy to find his missing animals, stopped by the Hunt ranch with the intention of taking the animals with him to the summer range. Torn between disappointment and restraint, finding it difficult to forget the consequences should the milk supply be withdrawn, Henry managed to find the courage to ask if Mr. Hafen would consider allowing him to keep the cow and the calf for the summer. Understanding the importance of having fresh milk, Brother Hafen, his voice filled with kindness, explained: “Brother Hunt, if you will take good care of the cow and her calf, you can keep them until we return the herd to the winter range.” They marked and branded the animals, and the two men parted with a feeling of warmth and friendship between them. That cow was a lifesaver for the Hunts that summer. They would take the milk, skim the rich cream to be made into butter, and store it in a small bucket in the cool spring water where it rushed from the mountainside. Henry always said that the Lord had a hand in bringing that cow to his alfalfa field on that bright spring morning. Along with the abundant, crisp watercress, young onions, and bread, the milk added that extra touch to complete the meal.
Henry’s alfalfa field was only five acres, but nonetheless that small acreage produced more hay than any other such field around. When Henry cut the hay, his children—always ready to assist—would carry large sticks, and as the rabbits, who had been feeding on the luscious green leaves, became frightened by the mowing machine and would run out into the clear ground, the children would chase them down and kill them. The meat was tasty either fried or baked with dressing, and added significantly to their scant larder.
Life on the ranch was not all hardships and endless work. Henry and Maybell did all they could to make their children happy and contented. While their parents stayed on the ranch to do the daily chores, the children traveled to Enterprise to attend the rodeos on July 24; or they were permitted to have parties for their friends. Maybell and Henry were always welcomed by the young people, and they would join in to make the parties memorable occasions. Henry and Maybell not only taught their children how to work—and work hard—but to also enjoy life and friends, and to love and respect their fellowmen. There was always time for education and to attend the functions of the Church. The Spirit of God was always present in the Hunt’s home. There was time for prayers; time for studying the scriptures; time for offering a helping hand.
There was at the ranch, when the Hunts first settled there, an abundance of chicken hawks which posed a menace to Maybell’s fowls. Her chickens were a very important source of food, and any attack was quickly revenged. One clear morning a huge hawk dived from the cloudless sky and pounced down into the front yard and seized one of Maybell’s prized chickens. Without a second thought, unafraid and determined, Maybell raced out, grabbed the hawk by the legs, forcefully smashed her foot down on the helpless bird’s neck, and with a single jerk pulled the hawk’s head off.
Approximately five or six years after Henry and Maybell moved to the ranch, Maybell’s father and mother purchased a small ranch about a mile further up the canyon from the Hunts. How happy Maybell was to be reunited with her family again.
(Niels and Minnie later moved to Gunlock and opened a small general merchandise store. Sometime in the 1930’s Minnie went blind. They sold their possessions and moved to Manti where they would be near the temple. Niels was so kind and gentle with his ailing wife. On November 28, 1939, Minnie, who was dearly loved by all who knew her, completed her life’s duties and passed away (Manti, Sanpete County, Utah). Shortly after, November 30, Niels—who had shared a unity with Minnie for so many wonderful years—once again, joined his dear wife. Niels died peacefully and unexpectedly. How kind God had been to allow them to go together. Two noble people had gone to their eternal reward. Maybell, Jack, Joe Nielsen and Clarissa went to Manti to attend the double funeral. The Nielsens were buried in the Manti cemetery.)
Gunlock, where the Hunts would spend the winter months, was like heaven to the Hunt kids. The Santa Clara River furnished delightful swimming holes; there were horses to ride; dancing was almost a way of life; and squaw bush gum to be found on the nearby hillsides. Anyone who has not chewed a “glob” of squaw bush gum—that white, pungent gum—has never truly lived
During the Christmas holidays there was a dance every night except Sunday, much to the delight of Maybell. They Henry and Amos Hunt families furnished the music; the men folks playing the violins, and the women taking turns on the piano. But there was more than just dancing. Every day there were horse races in the streets, basketball games and many other sports.
Meantime! Back at the ranch . . . the Hunts were busy planting fruit trees, grapevines, building a barn for the hay, a chicken coop and run, pig pens; and working day and late into the night to make the ranch productive. Wherever Henry settled, his first concern was to begin a garden. With a passion for hard work and the excitement of watching his plants grow, he soon had a fine garden of vegetables, an orchard of various fruit trees, and a field of sugar cane. Maybell and the girls canned, dried and preserved the fruits and vegetables, and stored them in a rock cellar, which Henry and the boys had built. The cane was made into molasses through a long, hot process of pressing and boiling, and was later canned and stored.
Henry was always proud of the fact that he was able to raise the largest, fattest hogs in the area. It was said that his hogs were so fat, so large, that they had to sit on their haunches to eat. Although his hogs did not produce much “eating meat” they provided a massive supply of lard, which resulted in some of the flakiest piecrusts and many pounds of homemade soap. (Maybell always claimed that soap made by the light of the moon was the best soap.)
Because the Hunts had made their ranch such a beautiful, inviting place, many visitors from surrounding towns would come to spend a friendly, pleasant day. Early each morning Maybell, who loved to entertain, would sprinkle her entire yard to make it cool for her friends when they came to visit.
There were two ponds on the ranch—a small one near the house and a larger one in the upper orchard—and Maybell kept a flock of tame ducks on the smooth, clear water. Someone, at sometime, had hung a hammock between two leafy cottonwood trees at the edge of the small pond, and many people over the years enjoyed a peaceful evening sleeping in the fresh air in that grand old “swinging bed.”
What a warm and wonderful welcome Henry and Maybell’s friends always received whenever they came for a visit at the Hunt ranch on the old Magutsu.
At long last the Hunts were able to produce adequate food to keep starvation at a reassuring distance and enable them to share in their bounteous harvest. Two or three times each week the people from the neighboring ranches came to the Hunt ranch for a friendly visit and a refreshing swim. After a pleasant afternoon, these friends always returned home stuffed to the ears with slices of sweet, red, juicy watermelons, butter-soaked roasting ears of corn, sliced tomatoes, and peaches and rich cream. No one ever left the Hunt ranch hungry.
The abundant harvest of Henry’s flourishing, profitable gardens won him several first place ribbons at the annual County Fairs. Under his watchful care, he once grew a fifty-two pound Cluckly Sweet Watermelon, which he entered at the fair. Each year, when the orchards and gardens began producing, Henry and his children would pick the fresh fruit and vegetables, load the produce on a large double-bed wagon to be transported to Enterprise, Modena or Lund—at times to Nevada—to be sold to the eager residents who waited impatiently each year for the cherished flavor of his southern Utah harvest
Henry was a hard worker, but he had a unique method of making work appear to be fun. When the family met to pick fruit, he would throw out a challenge and the task became a contest; hoeing weeds became a competitive race. Of course, he was a perfectionist; therefore the quality of the work was as important as the quantity.
There was a new excitement, a feeling of good will and contentment at the Hunt ranch; for suddenly there was enough to eat, good friends, and a pleasant, peaceful home where they could escape the dehumanizing entrapments of their pasts. Their children were growing towards adulthood, and were now able to assist with the many tasks required in maintaining their home and ranch.
Aware of his mother’s passion for travel and eager to give his father a much-needed rest from his continuous labors, Johnnie took his parents for a visit to Green River, Utah. For two weeks they stayed with Henry’s brother, Elias Franklin (born February 23, 1878—Gunlock, Washington County, Utah: died January 26, 1961—Green River, Wayne County, Utah). While they were gone, Willie, Clarisa and Ella, who had remained on the ranch to do the chores, planned a surprise for their parents. With a youthful exuberance, driven by a resurgence of love, they worked untiringly, picking fruit and vegetable. Wilie would make a long haul to Enterprise where he would peddle from door to door—always asking for cash—while Clarisa and Ella hurried to prepare another load. There were other chores to do, but they worked faithfully making every minute count. The surprise and joy in their parent’s proud faces, when they took the small box of cash from behind the organ pedals, was worth every muscle-straining minute of their hard work.
Each fall, after the work on the ranch was completed, the Hunts would move to Gunlock where their children could attend school. With the coming of spring—when the snow melted and the hillsides were brushed with a fresh touch of green—they would move back to the ranch and the hard, grueling work would begin again. Soon after their return they would be joined by the families from the Bigelow Ranch, and almost immediately the men would form a gang to clean the irrigation ditches, which brought the water to both ranches. The women and girls would prepare a tasty lunch, and at noon they would join the men to share a refreshing meal.
Throughout the summer the work continued relentlessly, for the harvest season would soon pass. On into the fall months the Hunts labored. Until the work was completed and they could return to Gunlock, the children would hike or ride horses over the steep, lava-strewn ridge to the east of the ranch, and on to Veyo where they attended school.
Near the year 1919, the Hunts bought a small, two room house in Gunlock from George Huntsman. This humble, quaint house, elevated away from the main street on a small hillside, would be their home for as long as they lived.
Occasionally Henry and Maybell would ride horses up through the enchanting, flower-spotted, majestic mountains north of town to Ox Valley and on to Enterprise to visit their relatives. This was a beautiful county; a land of many subtle colors and alive with wildlife; a land of unspoiled air and superb scenery.
In 1921, Henry and Maybell moved to St. George, Utah to spend the winter months working in the temple. Shortly after arriving (January 15, 1921) Henry was stricken with smallpox; and thus they were forced to return to Gunlock where they were quarantined. The girls went to live with Grandpa and Grandma Nielsen; and Johnnie and Willie lived with Uncle Amos Hunt. The townspeople, remembering the kindness and generosity of the Hunts in the past, took turns taking meals to the confined couple. Henry was frightfully ill—weak from his struggle to combat this dangerous enemy—but through the devout faith and urgent prayers of the concerned community, he recovered. After three long weeks of fear and loneliness, they were permitted to remove the quarantine sign. Their clothes and bedding were boiled, the house fumigated throughout, and once again they were reunited with their family and friends.
On August 20, 1922, Henry’s father, Jonathan Hunt, died in Blue Valley (Giles, Wayne County, Utah); but Henry did not hear of the death until September 4, 1922. That brave man had held out to the end, fighting to subdue that enchanted, primitive valley, which he had battled so relentlessly, strenuously, for so many years.
Times were changing, and with these changes came many new and exciting products. Perhaps because they had had so few “store bought” presents, on March 19, 1923, they bought a graphanola. Walter Bowler took them to Modena to get the exciting new invention, which had arrived by train. Many wonderful hours of musical entertainment was offered to them as they sat and listened with steady attention. One can easily imagine the wide smile on Maybell’s face and the nervous tap of her foot. It was not long until someone at the number two power plants—across the Santa Clara River, east of town—bought a radio, and it soon became the center of attention for the whole town. It seemed absolutely impossible, incredible, to hear music and programs over the airwaves from so far away.
Henry and Johnnie worked on the ditch at the number two power plant for a time. They were paid $3.00 per day for long hours and backbreaking work. Henry had rheumatism, making it impossible to wield the sledgehammer, so Johnnie, who was a husky young man, used the hammer while Henry ran the twist drill. Henry was an expert with that drill, and certainly earned his pay.
How quickly the years slipped by—each day adding new memories and a fresh entry into Maybell’s daily diary. It seemed only yesterday when they had been small children—Johnnie, Clarisa, Willie and Ella—racing rough life with joyous yelps of excitement and facing each new day with appraising smiles as if the day would last forever. But now they were young men and ladies; filled with the gentle love of all young people, confident in their visions of their futures, eager to pursue their own destinies.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE CHILDREN GONE?
Ella, the youngest Hunt, was the first to leave the home nest. Love had captured her heart, and the handsome young man had offered to share his life with her. She was married to Richard Truman Bowler (born July 3, 1904—Gunlock, Washington County, Utah), son of John Henry and Lusina Truman Bowler. They were married on September 16, 1926, in the St. George Temple.
Hardly had the thrill of seeing their baby daughter married been experienced when a new, strange, haunting emotion was ushered to the lives of Henry and Maybell Hunt. On November 30, 1926, a brutal, unbearable tragedy struck.
Joseph William Hunt (Willie) had been mossing the power plant ditch above Veyo, Utah; and as he was returning home, the team he was driving suddenly broke into a wild, uncontrollable charge. Apparently frightened when the singletrees slammed against their hind legs, the team raced into Veyo with a death-defying speed. Clarisa and Ella, who were standing on the steps of Albert Bunker’s store, saw the team coming but were not overly concerned for it appeared that Willie was getting the horses under control. But rather than traveling straight down the road, the horses suddenly turned right, and the wagon flipped high into the air, tossing Willie against a fence. He was knocked unconscious. His battered body lay helpless and forlorn amongst the weeds. The frantic sisters ran screaming to where their brother lay. Despite Lern Leavitt’s insistence the Willie was dead, the girls adamantly refused to hear his chilling words. Desperately they screamed and begged for Willie to speak to them, as their minds filled with unspoken prayers. Willie was not dead, and they felt his life had been spared for a few days to help prepare them for their parting. Willie was taken to the McGregor Hospital in St. George, but he had a massive hemorrhage of the brain and spine and never regained consciousness. The doctors did everything they were capable of doing, and the Elders were called to give him a blessing; but the damage could not b healed. Willie lost his fight for life on December 4, 1926, at 4:45 in the morning. He was buried in the Gunlock cemetery. Willie’s endowments were done on December 14, 1926 in the St. George temple by his father, Joseph Henry Hunt.
Maybell was unconsolable; the loss was too painful, too defeating to accept; so sudden and brutal; so extremely unfair. For weeks she struggled against the tears, which flooded her pain-filled eyes and trembled when the sweet image of Willie’s young handsome face would creep out of her memory to pester her mind. But one calm afternoon, as she rested on the swinging bed in the cool shadows of a large apple tree, Willie came to her—as plainly and real as he had been in life—and gently asked her not to mourn for him. Tenderly, softly, he explained that he was very happy, but his happiness and progress was being impaired by her unhappiness. With a fresh courage, gritting her teeth against the pain in her chest, she made an honest attempt to accept the loss of her darling Willie.
Marriages and births . . . and life hurried forward.
On June 23, 1927 Clarisa May and Jacob Mica Jones (born July 11, 1908—Pine Valley, Washington County, Utah), son of Hyrum E. and Mary L. Truman Jones of Gunlock, were married in the St. George Temple.
The Hunts welcomed their first grandchild, a beautiful baby girl, on August 15, 1927. Wilma, daughter of Ella and Dick, was born in St. George, Utah.
Johnnie, their eldest son, was married in the St. George temple on December 1, 1927 to Agnes Jones Hunt (born October 25, 1908—Enoch, Iron County, Utah), daughter of Arthur Pidding and Edna Hulet Jones of Enterprise, Utah.
The Hunt's first grandson was born on August 15, 1928, at Enterprise, Utah. John Reed, son of Johnnie and Agnes, was welcomed with joy into the family.
On September 11, 1928, a darling baby girl, Gloria Jean was born to Clarisa and Jake in St. George, Utah.
Once again the cruel, bitter grip of tragedy reached out to hold the Hunts in a painful state of anguish. Ella was never completely well after giving birth to her second daughter, and by September of 1929, she had become extremely ill. Weak and defenseless as she was, she was unable to struggle successfully with the attack of rheumatic fever. Many hours and weeks—weeks when prayer circles and fasts were repeatedly held—we stood by helplessly and watched with tears in our tired eyes as Ella suffered terribly. Unable to do much to ease her pain, we turned to God with our prayers and called the Elders, frequently, to administer to her. She was so sweet and patient throughout her entire illness. She endured intense pain, especially the last weeks of her mortal life. Dick took her to three different doctors seeking help, attempting to avoid the inevitable, but they offered little hope. For several days she had lain unconscious in her parent’s home. One afternoon, while a large crowd gathered around her bed, Ella miraculously opened her beautiful, warm-brown eyes and slowly turned her head towards the front door. Distinctly, lovingly, a calmness in her voice, she called out: “Hello, Willie, darling.” Slowly her sparkling eyes moved across the room as if she were watching someone coming towards her bed. A peaceful, pleasant smile touched her pale lips. I (Agnes Jones Hunt) turned to study Maybell and saw that she was frantically searching to see her precious son; but her expression of ecstasy soon faded to one of bitter disappointment. Willie was there for only Ella to see. Ella had fought so hard to live, holding to her life with a desperate passion; but suddenly, after Willie’s visit, she turned to her husband and carefully explained that she would have to leave him now. Perhaps Willie had returned with a message, which told her that it was time for her to end her brave struggle. Ella died on May 12, 1930, in Gunlock, Utah. The family grieved over her parting; but, nonetheless, Henry and Maybell felt certain that Ella was happy with her brother, and that she was resting in peace—free from pain, at last. She was buried beside Willie in the Gunlock cemetery. People of Gunlock, and their many friends and relatives from throughout the area, were so kind, so understanding, so helpful to the Hunts as they suffered the terror of their loss.
I (Agnes Jones Hunt) kept tiny Roma while her mother was so ill, and I became very attached to that sweet little girl. After their mother’s death, Maybell and Henry kept Roma, and Dick’s father and mother kept Wilma. When Dick Married Helen Chadburn, Maybell and Henry were granted the rare privilege of raising the two precious little girls.
CHILDREN OF DICK AND ELLA BOWLER
Wilma Bowler: born August 15, 1927—St. George, Washington County, Utah
Roma Bowler: born May 31, 1929—St. George, Washington County, Utah
CHILDREN OF JOHN A. AND AGNES J. HUNT
John Reed Hunt: born August 15, 1928—Enterprise, Washington County, Utah
Billie Marion Hunt: born September 28, 1932—Enterprise, Washington County, Utah
Valdean Hunt: born April 22, 1936—Enterprise, Washington County, Utah
Amos Burnell Hunt: born May 30, 1938—Cedar City, Iron County, Utah
Paul Lorraine Hunt: born August 18, 1941—Caliente, Lincoln County, Nevada
DeAnna Lee Hunt: born May 4, 1944—St. George, Washington County, Utah
CHILDREN OF JAKE AND CLARISA JONES
Gloria Jean Jones: born September 11, 1928—St. George, Washington County, Utah
Blaine Ross Jones: born June 16, 1932—St. George, Washington County, Utah
Roberta Jones: born April 15, 1936—Pioche, Lincoln County, Nevada
Jerome Marrell Jones: born April 13, 1944—Cedar City, Iron County, Utah
A SENSE OF TIMELESSNESS
Recalling those special years with their grandparents, who had become their adopted parents, Wilma and Roma had this to say: “Grandma was a very good mother to us. We are sure she spoiled us a little too much. She taught us how to cook, sew, how to keep house and above all she taught us the principles of the Gospel. While we were little, before we went to bed, she would recite the Articles of Faith, the names of the Twelve Apostles, and she taught us to always have our prayers and to pray about everything. Grandma helped us to sit up with the sick and the dead. She helped make clothes for the dead. She took meals to the sick and she always was there to do their washings, which she did by hand. She would clean their houses; she was happiest when she was helping someone. She helped to deliver her sister Mary’s babies.”
“Grandma made hundreds of pounds of butter and sold it. She didn’t own a churn. We shook the cream in a two-quart jar until it turned to butter. Everyone loved her butter. She always made her pounds round so she wouldn’t cheat anyone.”
“Grandma was always very clean. We mopped our floors, and then waxed them with separated milk to make them shine. Our wall in the kitchen was prepared with newspapers. Our two-room house didn’t have a ceiling in the kitchen, so Grandma hung factory on the rafters. Every spring, she took it down and washed it. It was a real job to put it back up. The ceiling leaked. When it rained it would leave big brown spots on the factory. We girls slept in a bed in the kitchen. We would lie at night and watch the mice run across the factory.”
“Grandma would get a white clay, make a paste to whitewash the walls in the kitchen.”
“We didn’t have water in the house until we were quite old. Then Grandpa took old used pipes and the water always tasted like rust. Before we got the water piped into the town we used to dip it from the ditch or carry it from the creek. We would have to let it settle before we could wash with it.”
“We remember the big watermelons Grandpa grew on the ranch. How good they were! There was always a crowd there to help us eat them.”
“Grandma made many, many quilts, quilt-tops, crocheted rugs, and gave them to her loved ones.”
“We remember Grandma writing letters to all the Gunlock boys who were in the service in World War II. Every Sunday after she had attended all of her Church meetings, she would write letters.”
“Grandpa and Grandma were very faithful and spiritual in the Church. When there was any sickness in the family we relied upon Grandpa’s priesthood. Many times he laid his hands on our heads and gave us a blessing and we would get better.”
“We loved to hear Grandpa play his violin. When the family was younger, they used to play for the dances.”
“Grandpa whistled everywhere he went. He would throw his shovel over his shoulder, take off at a half trot, and whistle . . . no tune . . . just whistle. He was deaf and couldn’t hear himself. He never just walked.”
“Grandpa once told us that he used to dream about his own father every night. He was always mad at Grandpa. This worried Grandpa because he didn’t know what his father wanted and why he was always angry. After talking with quite a few people he decided that his father wanted him to do his temple work. On September 8, 1940, he went to the temple and did the endowments for Jonathan Hunt and he never dreamed about his father again.”
“Grandpa and Grandma and we two girls would move to St. George every winter so they could work in the temple and we girls could go to school. Grandpa would walk and drive our milk cow (Buttercup) From Gunlock to St. George. It was not unusual for Grandpa to walk to Gunlock in the spring, prune the grapevines and fruit trees and then walk to St. George the next day.”
“Grandpa used to pull teeth for all of the people in Gunlock and anyone else who wanted him to. They had nothing for pain. He just pulled the teeth out.”
“We remember Grandpa cutting wood. He made it look so easy. He always had a neat, even pile of wood. Whenever he trimmed a limb from a tree he would cut it up for firewood. The larger logs, sawed into small stumps, these he would split into small, stove-sized pieces. He always had a large pile of wood in the wood box behind the black cook stove in the corner. We never saw Grandma chop or carry wood into the house.”
“We remember grandpa always ate bread and milk with fresh grapes in it when grapes were in season.”
“We remember turning the grindstone while grandpa sharpened his hay knives and axes.”
“We remember how we couldn’t wait to get home from school to see what Grandma had for lunch, because she always had a surprise for us. Oh how we loved her pig-leg soup, poor man’s soup, and the biscuits and water gravy for breakfast. She could make pie that would melt in your mouth; made from pig fat renderings. She was famous for her Koho cakes and jelly rolls.”
“We lived out of the cellar where Grandma kept the many bottles of fruit of all kinds, jellies, jams, and preserves. She dried all kinds of fruit, bottled pork sausage, deer meat, chicken, and she made the most delicious mincemeat from the pig’s head. She never wasted a thing.”
“We were so poor that when they started bringing picture shows to Gunlock, Grandma talked to the man and he let us take a pound of butter to pay our tickets.”
Looking back with fond memories, Clarisa recalls: “After all of us children were married, Mother could not stand to live on the ranch alone with only Father to visit with, so they turned the ranch over to Johnnie and Agnes in 1938 (?) and moved to Gunlock to live. This is the first summer they had lived away from the ranch since 1911. In 1937 (?) the folks sold the ranch to Clyde J. Knapp. Then Johnnie and Agnes bought Jack Nielsen’s home in Gunlock.
“Mother had a nervous breakdown. Jake and I were living in Pioche at that time. Mother and Father moved in with Johnnie and Agnes so Agnes could care for Mother. She was very ill. We would come to Gunlock and stay with Mother for a week at a time. When her health permitted, we took her to Pioche. Johnnie and Agnes took her a lot of places. She was very restless. She finally got to feeling better, but her nerves were bad until she died.”
“I took Mother and Father on several trips: a couple of trips to California to visit Mother’s sister, Pat Davis (Patience Hope: born October 27, 1897-Fairview, Sanpete County, Utah) and family. It was the first time Father had seen the ocean and he would say, everyday: ‘Clarisa, will you take me to the beach again?’ He would sit for hours and watch the waves come in. He loved the ocean.”
THE GOLDEN YEARS
Maybell wrote the following in a brief history in her Family Record Book: “This summer of 1939 is unusual. Something is working on the cottonwood tree’s leaves and they are falling off fast. The weather is dry and hot with lots of wind. It’s beginning to look serious. It seems like nothing is going as it should. No rains in July for the first time in years. Germany has conquered Poland. Czechoslovakia and France are warring with England at present. Earthquakes, floods, fires, murders, suicides and every evil is turned loose on earth. For the first time the President of the United States will run for a third term. Men’s hearts are surely failing. Heavenly Father, Help us to do right; I pray from the bottom of my heart . . .
“March 18, 1941, I was operated on for a poison goiter in the St. George Hospital by Dr. L. W. McGregor. I had a nervous breakdown the last of May or first of June and have been sick every since and this is February 18, 1942
The intense, irrepressible sun of their lives sank rapidly towards the mountaintops of their destinies, lingering for a few precious moments, floating briefly above the horizon, for there were yet memorable events to occur before the final nightfall would arrive.
By the winter of 1943-44, Maybell’s health had improved sufficiently to allow her to spend that time with Henry working in the St. George Temple.
But once again illness reached out to challenge their strength. Henry was about seventy years old when he was forced by his failing health to undergo surgery in the Cedar City hospital. With that triumphant strength which had seen him through the onslaught of so many perilous crises, Henry survived the ordeal. But there was yet another challenge to defeat. At the hospital, a few days after his surgery, Henry had taken a Sitz bath witch caused him to become covered with perspiration. Upon returning to his bead, a cold breeze from the open window smashed against his moist, frail body. The fellow in the bed next to Henry continuously had his window open, and despite Maybell’s urgent request for him to close it while Henry dried his body, the man—rude and indifferent—coldly refused. As a result, Henry contracted pneumonia, weakened by his new threat to life other complications grabbed out at his fragile body. Eager to obtain the best possible medical help, the family rushed Henry to Salt Lake City; but their hopes were soon smashed when the doctors came to Johnnie and Clarisa and informed them that their father would surely die; at best, he had no more than three days to live. It was suggested that the family make arrangements with the mortician to come for his body; they should select a casket; and that other funeral arrangements should be complete.
During thus haunting, desperate, defeating hours, while Grandpa Hunt (Henry) lay in critical condition, I (Agnes) sat at his bedside and watched as he struggled to hold to his life. He was unconscious. His tongue hung from his mouth, swollen and dark—a general appearance of death hanging over him. Ugly bedsores, the size of pie plates, festered on his hips, exposing his hipbones and spine. With unspoken words, I was saying good-bye to Grandpa when two young Mormon Elders came to the door and inquired if anyone would like a blessing. After I had invited them into the room and asked them to administer to Grandpa, they gave him a beautiful, spiritual blessing. They promised Grandpa that he would recover and return to his home to complete his work her upon this earth. Feeling that Grandpa had only a short time to live the “goose pimples” tingled my flesh as they spoke, I thought of his emaciated body and I sat there in the hospital room that lonely, apprehensive night and thoughtlessly denied the power of the priesthood. Grandpa began to improve from that moment on. Despite the dire prognosis from the doctors and my own lack of faith, Grandpa returned to his home to do over five hundred names in the temple. The events of those days revealed an important lesson to me: never again will I question the power of the priesthood.
On March 14, 1950, Henry and Maybell celebrated their Golden Wedding at their home in Gunlock, Utah. Together they had traveled through fifty years of unity; sharing their dreams and hopes; raising their children to adulthood; supporting each other through those turbulent days of hunger, defeat and heartache; and holding together with an enduring, gentle love. Although Henry was very ill at the time, he managed to put on his suit to pose for a few pictures and to receive their friends and relatives. Despite an attempt to keep the crowds small, in deference to Henry’s health, and a request that there should be no gifts, these two dear people received many lovely gifts and cards of congratulations and best wishes.
THE FINAL NIGHTFALL
They are gone now—those gallant, noble souls—but they will be forever remembered with reverence and respect by those who had the privilege of knowing them.
Clarisa recalls those last few months: “Father and Mother lived in St. George every winter after Father’s illness. They were living at Sister Chastain’s home when Father took sick. He became weaker and weaker. On the morning of the fourth day, he passed away. Mother took it real well until we went to Gunlock. I guess it made her realize that he was really gone. We took her over to the Power Plant where we lived. She was pretty good for a while and then she got to running away, over the creek bed to visit friends. I was afraid she would fall into the creek when crossing so I had to watch her real close. I would take her over to town each day to visit. Just as soon as we got home she would want to go again. She moved to Enterprise that summer. She had many friends and relatives up there. She lived in a small trailer house near Bert’s and Roma’s. I could never find her home when I’d go up to spend the day with her; she was always visiting. Sometimes it would take me an hour or two to catch up with her.
“Bert and Roma brought her down to Gunlock in the fall, I kept her for several weeks and she got real restless. So Johnnie took err to St. George to live with them. Johnnie was hauling hay to Nevada at that time and he would take her in the truck with him sometimes. She loved that.”
“She became a constant care. She had to be watched day and night or she would strike out and go knocking on doors to visit. So Johnnie and I got together and decided it would be best to put her in the Cooper’s Rest Haven where she could get the proper medication and be watched constantly. She settled right down. She had so many people around her to visit with all the time. She was real content. I went down twice a week and took her for a ride, but she was always anxious to return to her friends.”
“Mother was only sick four days before she became bad. I called all of the family. She had always dreaded death. In fact she would never talk about death or permit anyone to talk about death in her presence. I will always be thankful that she had an easy death. She just quit breathing. No struggling at all.”
“Father died on the March 23, 1958. Mother died on September 12, 1965. Both died in St. George, Washington County, Utah, and were buried in Gunlock, Washington County, Utah.