Marrying Martha and Starting Anew
Contributor: koand Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
Besides working on his farm, Charles pursued Martha Duane Freer. Judging from the amount of letters he received on his mission from young single ladies in St. Anthony, Charles had necessarily been very overt and specific in voicing his preference for Martha. Periodically, young women wrote Charles about Martha: “How is Martha doing?” “How are you and Martha?” Charles’ answers must have been disheartening as the young women’s replies came back a bit irate, “You should be surprised to hear from me again after your last card.” Charles’ loyalty to Martha appears solid.
Martha, however, had other plans for a time. She found work as a school minister, probably tutoring Mormon children who were ostracized from the public school system. This work may have involved travel to disparate farms or colonies of Saints stashed away in the Rocky Mountains. We know that some of that time was spent teaching at Ricks Academy, a great accomplishment for a rancher girl from Wilford. While we don’t know why or where, we know that she was traveling somewhat between 1912 and 1914, spurring Charles Frederick to open his heart to her in poetry penned into his letters. One poem, which Martha kept until her death ran thus:
It is Sunday night. I am here at home.
Things don’t seem right. My thoughts, they roam.
They go to the east, but can find no rest;
They turn south, at least, and a little to the west –
And there is a place, I dreamed not of before.
They halt in their race, for contentment, as of yore.
The reason is plain, my heart will tell,
How it went with the train that took away my girl.
I will not say, it is not right;
But she’s far away and I’m alone tonight.
Absence makes the heart grow fond, they say.
So we’re not apart; Only, in one way.
Pure hearts live on love that will never die
And surely such love exists between her & I.
I will always prefer good rather than bad,
For a girl like her makes my heart glad.
With a tender heart, with eyes so blue,
She will do her part and always be true.
We will never separate, as others have done:
Our love if too great; It’s more serious than fun.
Though lonely we’ll be, while the time passes by,
The future, you see, Is for her and I.
Just to be together, is the dream of now,
Through all kinds of weather, I think I see how –
The dove of peace, fond, will linger and coo.
I’ll love but one blonde and that blonde is You.
Charles Henry was reassigned to a factory in Payette, Idaho in the fall of 1914. The family had managed two farms side-by-side for two years but now the time had come to consolidate them. Joseph Brower chose to part with Charles Henry and replant a sugar beet farm near Parker. Franklin sold out to his brother, Charles Frederick, and moved operations to the southeast, near Teton, Idaho. The youngest sibling, Ethel, had just been married in Utah to one Frank Murri. The young Murris now decided to join Charles Henry in Payette to begin a new farming operation. Charles Frederick, however, purchased the entire Parker farming plot from his father, brother-in-law and younger brother. In October 1914, $4,000 of assets changed hands to Charles Frederick, including $1,500 of mortgage loans. Now armed with land, a few buildings, crops and some animals, Charles was ready to chase down Martha Freer.
In the spring of 1915, Martha had found her way to her father’s new ranch in Kenyon, Idaho, 160 miles to the south west of Parker. Apparently ill for a time, the bed-ridden Martha corresponded with Charles by letter, until March of 1915 when Charles sent a very important letter to Martha’s father, Joseph, asking for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Joseph and Nancy Freer discussed the letter and then determined to answer the young suitor individually. Joseph’s response reads thus:
Received your letter a few days ago and read its contents very carefully and will say with regards to the proposition you ask about I have no objection providing it is Martha’s wish. Of course you will take her to the Temple to be married, Martha is a good girl and I feel in giving my consent I am entitled to ask that you be kind to her and take good care of her which I believe you will do, I shall let mother answer for herself. With kind regards and best wishes, Joseph S. Freer
Nancy also sent her response:
I’ve received your letter February 25 asking for our daughter, Martha. Now Charles if you are the man of her choosing, I have no objections. But I will earnestly make this request that you be kind and loving to Martha after marriage as you have been before. Sincerely, Mrs. N. P. Freer
In tribute to the pioneer culture of female empowerment, Joseph felt Nancy should offer her own answer, and both parents deferred to Martha as having her sovereign choice. Also an important requirement which Joseph places on his approval of the marriage is that Charles “take her to the Temple to be married”.
Charles and Martha boarded a train on July 7th for Logan, Utah. After 4 hours of staring into each other’s eyes, the happy couple walked the seven blocks from the train station to the Logan Temple where they were sealed for time and all eternity. They then walked back and caught the next train back to Idaho.
Mr. and Mrs. Barnes had discussed where they might live prior to their sealing and Charles had encouraged her to consider joining him in Parker, where they had met. Martha concurred and the two set to work constructing a new home in Parker, Idaho. For the third time since he was 17 years old, the 29-year-old Charles started a new farming operation, albeit this time with a pre-laid foundation.
In July and August of 1915 – as soon as the newly-weds had finished the walk from the train station to the Barnes farm in Parker – Charles set to work gathering supplies to construct a home and a barn for his own family farm. Charles purchased 30 lbs. of sugar beet seed on credit from the Utah Idaho Sugar Company and became a contracted beet farmer. An additional loan was needed for the construction of his and Martha’s first home.
The ambitious young farmer had leveraged himself with a lot of debt, but the future looked bright. Just a year after they were sealed, Martha gave birth to their first child, Ruth, at their new home in Parker on July 12th, 1916. Charles Frederick was now a father.
For a year or two Charles built a little kingdom for himself and Martha by the sweat of his brow. He hadn’t even begun to repay his debts, however, when in 1917, his newly built farm caught fire and burnt to embers. While no one was injured, years of progress had vanished up in smoke. The bank of St. Anthony was unhappy to hear of a complete default on so much credit and seized everything else Charles owned. Charles was now back to owning nothing, though this time he had a wife and daughter to care for.
There was little choice but join his family in Payette, on the western side of the state. Later in the year in 1917, Charles Frederick, Martha and little Ruth made the journey and resettled in New Plymouth, a village lying in a small valley that would supply the new sugar factory with raw beets for production. Once again, Charles Frederick set to work constructing a new farm.
The Murris, Charles Henry and Amelia shared a large two story house at New Plymouth, while Charles and Martha lived in a small tenant house nearby. The family now jointly constructed a large beet farming operation, enough to sustain their extended family.
This ambitious farm, however, was built to be operated by several men – a kind of cooperative farm. Charles Henry, Charles Frederick and Frank Murri jointly owned and operated the farm. That meant that everything had to be bigger, and bigger things required steeper financing leverage. Charles Henry’s good reputation allowed him access to more loan money and construction got underway.
In this part of the story of the Barnes family something strange and poignant occurs about which little detail is known. Apparently Charles Henry was reassigned yet again to the Yakima River Valley in Toppenish, Washington, which assignment he accepts. Frank and Ethel Murri, along with their two new daughters choose to follow Charles Henry, leaving the farm solely in Charles Frederick’s care. Along with the farm, however, Charles Frederick is burdened with all the new debt, of which almost nothing has been repaid after just one year’s harvest.
It seems that Charles Henry’s debts to the bank were transferred wholly over to Charles Frederick, with the promise that Charles Henry would return or that Frank Murri would stay on and help work the farm. For whatever reason, those promises were left unfulfilled and Charles Frederick was once again stacked with crushing debts that he could barely begin to repay. Charles Frederick blamed his father for this. All correspondence from 1918 forward is between Charles Frederick and his mother, never his father.
The friction between Charles Henry and Charles Frederick was only compounded by the physical distance now separating father (in Yakima, Washington) from son (in New Plymouth, Idaho). At the time of Charles Frederick’s untimely death, his father attended his funeral and said remorsefully to Charles Frederick’s children: “You probably don’t recognize me, but I’m your grandfather.”
Joseph Slack Freer Crosses the Ocean
Contributor: koand Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
From the recollections of "Uncle Ed and Mary Whitesides" about William and Martha Slack Freer and their family.
William and Martha took their young family from England to America in 1873. Their ship, the "Idaho", crossed the Atlantic Ocean from the 22nd of October until the 5th of November (a speedy voyage), 1873.
All the while little Joseph, just 10 years old, sat out on the deck of the ship and gazed out upon the water. The sunlight reflected from the endless waves lit up the boy's curious face. After two weeks of travel, and two weeks of gazing at the mysterious deep, Joseph's face became badly burned and he had to adorn a large black hat, pulled over his brow, to shield him from the sun. So the skinny Joseph came to America a boy of just 10 years old, with an English accent, a cherry-red face, a long, black cap and an entire life ahead of him in the mountains.