Kenneth Merrill & Uarda Mendenhall Webster
Contributor: Turpinca Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
by Uarda Merrill and family
Kenneth Merrill was born April 25, 1907, at Groveland, Bingham County, Idaho, the son of Joseph Harris Merrill and Grace Emma Hale. He lived in Groveland until he was nine years old, at which time he moved with his parents to the Thomas area, about nine miles west of Groveland. As a boy he helped his father with the farm work and with the cattle and sheep that they also raised. He attended grade school at Thomas and part of his high school at Moreland. He graduated from high school at Rexburg, Idaho. He then attended Ricks College from 1928 until 1930, going home during planting and harvesting time to help his father with the crops.
One day in early April 1930 his father came to Rexburg to get him to help with the planting. At that time Kenneth introduced his dad to the girl of his dreams, Uarda Webster. They had dated for two years and he wanted to marry her after fulfilling a mission for the Church. He returned back to school after the planting was complete and graduated that May 1930.
This was during the Great Depression and everyone was having difficult times. Kenneth’s dad was struggling and could not make the bank payments on the farm. He was to lose the farm in a foreclosure. Alma and Kenneth went to the bank and agreed to take over the debt and pay it off. Kenneth said his mission would have to come later.
When he couldn’t serve a mission at this time, he wanted to get married and he asked Uarda M. Webster if she was willing to marry him even if it meant living in only two rooms in the farmhouse, with Alma and his wife, Arvella, living in the other part of the house. She agreed and they were married in the Logan Temple on September 24, 1930. She recalls how Kenneth had to borrow $40.00 to get married. After a honeymoon to Salt Lake City, they returned to their small quarters in the home his folks had lived in. His parents moved to Logan, Utah after Alma and Kenneth took over the farm.
They raised potatoes, sugar beets, hay and grain, milked cows, and raised sheep, pigs, and chickens on the farm. It took many long hours and hard work to keep up with the farm and they never did have much money, but they were happy, and proud of their home and farm.
In the summer of 1934 they bought a railroad boxcar and had it moved to the north side of the 80 acres they had after dividing the farm with Alma. They fixed up the inside of the boxcar by painting and papering. They divided one third of it into a bedroom with a couple of small closets. The larger half was the kitchen and living room area. They used a small wood stove for cooking and heating. They made it very cozy and as comfortable as possible. Even though it was small, it was theirs alone. They moved in with their two children, Maurine, born June 23, 1931, now three years old, and Leon born October 12, 1933, about ten months old.
While living in the boxcar they were blessed with another son, Clendon, on June 17, 1936. In the summer of 1936 Kenneth began digging the basement for their new home. He built most of it by himself and it took him two years to finish it enough to move into it. It was a log home on the outside, with a full basement and two bedrooms upstairs. The home was heated with a coal oil stove and a wood stove on which Uarda also did all of her cooking and baking. On 28 May 1938 another baby girl was born. They named her DeVota, and another daughter, Elaine was born on February 25, 1941. They were both born in the new home.
All the children were born at home and the doctor would come there to deliver them, if he could get there in time. A mid-wife was hired to help in the home until the mother was back on her feet; usually ten days were spent in bed after a baby was born. The mid-wife’s name was Emily Olsen. Maurine remembers how sweet and good-natured she was and we loved having her come to help mother at the time of her deliveries. The doctor bill was $75.00 to deliver a baby in those days, and that was a lot of money.
After 1940 the years got better, the crops were good and the bank was soon paid off. They were able to put brick on the new home and put in a coal furnace and central heating system. They also enlarged the dining room and living room at this time and finished them. This made the home larger with plenty of space to raise a family in. In 1941 they built a large log granary at the cost of $275.00. In 1942 a sheep shed was built for $175.00. It cost $2,500.00 to build the cinder block milk barn in 1947; and in 1948 they were able to tear down the old straw shed and build a hay and feed barn for $1,500.00. They also bought a new two and one half ton truck that year. Kenneth continued to raise potatoes, sugar beets, hay, grain, and corn for silage for the cattle. Kenneth built up a large herd of registered Holstein dairy cows. He was proud of his cattle and he with the help of Leon and Clendon, would take them to the State Fairs to show and won many prizes with them.
All the children worked on the farm all year round, helping with the chores, milking and planting and weeding the crops. Uarda also worked out in the fields along side Kenneth and the children. It was a lot of hard work but they built a family unity as they worked together. Through the 1940’s Kenneth usually had two or three hired men working for him also. One lived in the old boxcar and another in the basement of the new home.
Kenneth and Uarda both served in many positions in the Church and community. From 1946 to 1949 Kenneth was school trustee for District 48, was a 4-H leader in 1947 and 1948, and served as president of the Bingham County Beet Growers Association in 1947 until his death in 1952. He was also director of the Idaho Holstein-Friesian Breeders’ Association from 1950 until his death in 1952.
In the Church he was scoutmaster in 1931 and 1932 and counselor in the Sunday School superintendency from 1932 to 1939. He was a home teacher for a number of years, secretary in the Elders Quorum, and a member of the ward genealogical committee. He served as stake missionary in the Blackfoot Stake from August 26, 1945 until May of 1948. He was a home missionary in 1951 with Brother Robert Kerr.
Kenneth was injured on July 13, 1952 while showing one of his prized bulls to a man from Burley, Idaho. Kenneth kept his bulls in very strong pole pens so when the bull pushed him into the fence it did not give and many of his ribs were crushed and his back had been broken. He was not paralyzed from the injury but died suddenly two weeks later, on Sunday, July 27, 1952. The doctors felt that emboli had gone into the lungs or heart. His death was very difficult for everyone. He was only 45 years old at the time. Uarda prayed often for strength to go on and raise her family. With the help of Leon, Clendon and the family they were able to continue on with the farm and get the harvest out that fall.
Uarda, the daughter of Samuel John Webster and Ada Louise Mendenhall was born June 5, 1909 in Glendale, or Worm Creek, in Oneida County, now known as Franklin County, Idaho. She had four half brothers and one half sister and five brothers and three sisters. She was also raised on a large dry farm in the mountains east of Preston, Idaho, so she knew how to work and help on the farm.
She was always active in the Church and served in all the organizations of the Church, as a teacher and in the presidencies of the Relief Society, Primary and Young Women’s as the organist at times. She was a member of the genealogical committee and she served as an officiator in the Idaho Falls Temple as an officiator for 12 years after her children were raised or had gone off to college.
Uarda and her family kept the family farm after Kenneth’s death and continued both the dairy and raising crops. She completed her LPN training and worked the night shift at Bingham Memorial Hospital for 19 years. She was a good nurse and many families sent her a gift or a card thanking her for the kind and loving care that she gave to a family member who had been under her care in the hospital. She was loved and respected by all who worked with her.
Uarda has raised five wonderful children and she devoted her life to them after Kenneth’s death. Uarda loved having her grandchildren come to visit and was always more than willing to tend them every chance she got. She even tended many of her great-grandchildren up until her death in 1998.
Uarda passed away peacefully at her home on May 5, 1998, from a massive stroke. She died one month short of her 89th birthday. After 47 years of being alone we know that there was a great reunion as she went to meet her sweetheart again.
Mother was always a very hard worker and was still driving her car to visit friends or neighbors. She mowed her own lawn and was planting and weeding her flowers up to the time of her death. She was a very special lady. She always kept her home spotless and she enjoyed working out of doors and always kept a garden and lots of flowers. A day won’t pass that Grandma isn’t baking bread or cookies just in case someone would come to see her, or making a meal to take to someone in need. She visited families that had lost a family member and always took food to them when she visited. Those who knew her and worked with her have always loved her. She taught her family the joys of hard work and never expected them to do something that she would not do herself.
Kenneth and Uarda were both hard workers and they taught their children well. They would attend the temple often and they both had a very strong testimony of the gospel and they instilled these same virtues in their children and grandchildren. They were loved by all who knew them.