Memoirs of Susannah Rose Snyder Curtis as recorded on cassette tape in 1968
Contributor: Dan Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
My grandparents settled at what is known as Snyderville, Summit County, five miles north of Park City, [Utah] where they raised a large family. They had many acres of hay land and also a dairy. All the boys worked together until they started families of their own. As my father was the oldest boy he brought his wife there to to live and this is where I was born January the 4th 1894 to Ephraim George and Lillian Ashcraft Snyder, They were the parents of six children, two boys and four girls, one boy and one girl dying at birth.
I was the oldest child and my earliest recollection was the day my youngest sister was born. I remember the nice long walk that we took, the lady that was staying with us, and how amazed we were when we returned and found we had a new baby sister. My parents were married in the temple and were good workers in the church. My mother was Relief Society secretary for twelve years and a practical nurse in the community for years and took care of many new babies.
The amusements were church activities and dances. Father called for the dances for years. My father ran a dairy for years and helped support his younger brothers and sisters as his father was dead. Father had freighted from Salt Lake City since he was 14 years old, so he was always used to hard work and so much of the responsibility for the family. I had a little carefree and happy childhood. Father made us big swings and a slippery-slide and many other things for amusement and so our place was a gathering place for all the neighbors children.
I went to school in a one room school house with one teacher for eight grades. I passed the sixth grade year and when we moved to Mapleton in August, and when school started I only went for two weeks and then I took sick with inflammatory rheumatism so did not go back until after holidays. I did not walk for ten weeks and did not lay down to sleep for seven weeks. My teacher was Mr. Bushman, from Provo, and I passed the seventh grade in half a year. The next year I graduated from the eighth grade; my teacher that year was R.L. Woodward. I could not go on to high school as the long sickness I had was such a drain on my parents, so I started doing housework for an elderly couple in Springville.
I worked there for nearly three years, doing work in the fruit orchard in the summer. At that time wages were three dollars a week. I went out with several fine boys, went to a dance one night with my cousin and that night met the man I later married, James Curtis. We went together for a year. They owned eight acres of land and he was the only one to do the work because his father was an invalid with heart trouble. So he worked the farm in the summer and worked on the railroad in the winter. But most of the land was in fruit so that meant a lot of work.
When our first baby was one and a half years old we went to Nevada for the winter, for his father’s health, down in _______Valley. We took two teams and wagons. In March his father took so sick we sent him home on the train and that left a team and a wagon for each of us to bring back. One wagon had a -----bed in it, so I drove this one with the horses and James drove the one with the mules. Elmo was not yet two and I had him sit on a little box at my feet, and when he got tired I would put him on the bed to sleep. I only weighed a hundred and five pounds and it was the first time I had driven a team. The first four days we were out my muscles were so sore I could hardly move.
When we got to the Virgin River we stopped for the night, then the next morning he took a wagon with both teams on across, then tying the mules to my wagon and went back for the other wagon. This was a dangerous river of quicksand. At the next crossing there were some men working, rocking up the bank, as the sand shifted every few hours and it was hard to tell where it was deep or shallow. So we drove right in and I had to follow with my heart in my throat all the way. My team stumbled once, but did not go down. This was a very wide crossing and we crossed this river four times in one day. I was surely glad when this ordeal was over. We were on the road two weeks with no good roads or highways as we do now. As we came to the town of Mesquite we went into the store for groceries and as we did not stop to visit they said what funny people we were. This was in the spring of 1915. His father recovered and lived until July of 1916.
December the 2nd 1916, we were blessed with a baby girl, Sylvia Rose. The next summer I would take her down by the berry patch and put her in a basket and hang it in on an apricot tree, in the shade while I picked berries. That fall a nephew came to live with us, Bill Gogarty. He lived with us for three years and went to high school. Our next son, Carl was born October 1918, and I would’ve been alone if my mother would not have come while Jim went for the doctor. He was out on a case and sent Jim to Springville for a lady doctor, Mrs. Millie Martin, as she was a doctor and I had her for my next four babies.
All this time I was canning all our fruit and I was canning for his mother as she was running a hotel and we sent her a load of fruit and vegetables and flour from the farm every fall. I did all of our families sewing. In September 1920 a baby girl, Muriel Fay, was born. We were going to take care of Jim’s mother’s home in Springville until she got ready to move into it, we lived there nearly two years and while we were there we built a new home out on the farm.
We had a baby girl born May 1922 and moved back out to the farm in August of that year. We still had a lot of fruit so that meant a lot of work. Then every fall we had deer meat to bottle. One year we bottled 60 chickens and that was some job after cooking and boning them before bottling. One year I canned 1500 quarts of fruit, jams jellies, meats and pickles, many years canning one thousand quarts. In 1925 we had a baby girl, Virginia, who only lived 18 hours. Life went on as usual and in 1927 we had a son, Vernon, when he was one and a half years old I had a big and serious operation from which it took me several months to recover. In 1931 we had a son, Kenneth, making eight children, Seven of whom we raised to maturity.
They are all married and have wonderful families. As I am writing this in 1968, I have 21 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren. All the while I was having my family I helped all of my neighbors in sickness. I started working in Relief Society in 1915 when my first baby was two. I started working in Daughters of Utah Pioneers in 1924 when it was organized in Mapleton.
My mother came to live with us when Ken was 5 months old and stayed with us 8 years, or until she died. When Ken was 2, Jim’s aunt who was 72 came and lived with us for 2 years and at that time we had 11 in the family. That meant a lot of washing , ironing, and cooking. Sometimes in the summer Jim’s sister and family would come to visit us and we would go up the canyon on picnics. When Elmo was two we and his sister’s family and a neighbors family all went to Strawberry on a fishing trip in covered wagons. Elmo was sick all week with chicken pox and I never got him out of my arms all week so that was a delightful trip. I don’t remember how many fish we got.
When Sylvia was small we raised turkeys and we have a picture of her sitting in a flock of turkeys. When we moved back out on the farm we lost Carl one evening and the neighbors were wading the irrigation ditch to try to find him and we were afraid he had drowned. About dark I went back in the house and he had rolled over against the wall and he had slept so sound he did not hear us call. When Carl was born without the aid of a doctor and when he came he said well, you don’t need a doctor so we did not have him again as we had Dr. Millie Martin then and for our next four babies and a very wonderful person she was.
Muriel Fay was born on September the 10th and the day before she was born her father went and got 5 bushels of pears to can. I said to him, “go and see if you can find someone to can this fruit”, but he said, “We will manage.” My mother was on crutches but she would sit and peel, and he did the bottling. They did 300 quarts the 10 days I was in bed. He always helped me at canning season after finding out what a job it was, and he would bring the nicest fruit for me to put in the jars.
We always had a nice yard as he liked flowers and would help me plant and arrange them. About once a month he’d help trim and clean around them and I’d sprinkle and weed them. We had many compliments on our yard, and people would go miles around when going to town, to come and see our beautiful yard. And in our vegetable garden we had a few rows of flowers. They sort of made the vegetables taste better, so we had a little beauty and good times along with hard work.
One funny little prank that was played on us at Halloween that gave several people a good laugh, the kids took a front wheel and put them on the back of our buggy, or in other words just changed them around. We never noticed until we saw so many people staring at us and called our attention to it. Well, anyway a few laughs along the way are good for us.
I had five children in school, and a baby one and a half years old when I had my big operation, and it was two months before I was able to go home and I was not able to work for some time. I stayed at my mothers home after 11 days in the hospital. My family would come down there to see me. We fed sheep that winter and as luck would have it we made enough to pay for this operation and the hospital bill. We fed sheep again the next year and went broke. We lost another 8 acres of ground that we owned, so we did not feed sheep again. That left us with only eight acres which was not enough to support our family, so my husband did trucking for other people. One summer he worked for the Springville Canning Company and sometimes worked 18 to 20 hours, so my table was always set, as his hours were always so irregular.
I remember one incident that happened when Muriel and Velma went to a dance one night, and we had an irrigation ticket and was out turning the water. It had flooded over and was running down the road. Here came the girls, they didn’t like the boys they were with and so they were walking home carrying their shoes as they could not get across the water.
There are so many things happen when raising a family and there is never a dull moment. Such as, after Elmo was out of school and could not get work as it was during the depression, he would practice on his guitar every spare hour he had, for which I was thankful instead of him just loafing around. I appreciate having the farm to raise our family on as there was chores and it helped them to know the value of work. They are all good workers and my girls are good cooks and good housekeepers and all have good families. Besides raising seven children of our own we made a home for twenty four other people, all the way from eight weeks to eight years. So you can see why I’m not blessed with too much worldly goods.
One summer before my mother died my brother and family, seven in all, came to visit with us for 10 days and we had our own strawberry patch and milk, cream and eggs, and did I ever make the shortcakes, set two tables for seventeen three times a day. Baked 50 loaves of bread and still had to buy some.
I forgot to put in what good times we had with our music. We had a piano and banjo and my husband bought a tenor banjo and there were five or six boys in Mapleton that brought different instruments and they’d come to our place to practice. I would chord on the piano while they changed around with their instruments, and sometimes it would be two o’clock before we knew it.
Ken was five years old when he broke his arm, and he was the only one in the family which had this misfortune. Carl fell on the ice one morning when they were running to catch the bus and hurt his hip. We did not realize at the time that it was so serious but it has always bothered him. I’ve seen my mother very ill several times and saw her healed many times by administration. She was an invalid about 25 years with arthritis. My youngest sister took care of her until she married and then is when mother came to live with me. She was with us 8 years and died in 1939. Sylvia was with me when her first two first babies were born and Muriel when her first baby, Ross, was born in 1940. And when he was 10 days old he took the measles and was not very sick for three or four days but he ate some bananas and started with convulsions and had them for twelve hours. He was unconscious for 16 days, and was out of school for 9 weeks with meningitis. This was when he was 9 years old so his health was not very good for several years. When he was 24 he married a nice girl and had two lovely children and has done very well with his music, though he has never taken lessons. The guitar is his favorite.
I also had Muriel at my home with her second boy, when he was born, so I took care of four of my grandchildren in my home.
Elmo is very musical, being able to play about 17 instruments. His three girls are all musically inclined. Elmo was a chemical engineer at Geneva Steel for many years, worked in many government positions in Provo City, he is now doing work for Mountain Fuel Company. Carl is a supervisor for the city of Springville after working many years at Geneva and construction. Ken has worked several years at Geneva Steel.
In the last few years for adult birthdays and they have all enjoyed these gatherings. It has made more unity in the family. Vernon plays the guitar and is an expert paint mixer. All the girls are musically inclined and Sylvia’s oldest boy was an excellent drummer in high school. All of these grandchildren have sang in the acapella choir in high school. Carl played the Hawaiian guitar at one time and his daughter Patsy took dancing and elocution and performed for many groups. Carl is an expert with heavy equipment. Muriel has two boys who are musicians. One boy works at Geneva steel and the oldest one teaches school. Velma has a nice voice and sang in many ward choirs, her son Jimmy played the Violin.
I had all of my babies at home as we did not go to the hospital in those days. I helped many of my neighbors in confinement and any sickness that came along. Even through the depression we had an abundance of food, as we raised most of it on our little farm, and though it was lots of hard work, we were grateful as we had a living in our home at this time. In 1942 I had a bad strep throat that lasted a long time and was not able to do my work for about six months. All that winter Vernon kept the floors all scrubbed as well as going to school. I surely did appreciate this. We had two boys home at that time as the five older ones were married.
While living in Mapleton I was Relief Society teacher for thirty three years and joined the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers in 1924. We moved to Springville in 1947. I lost my husband in 1950 so I took up practical nursing as I had been a practical nurse all my life. I took care of two elderly people before I was married. In 1952 I took care of an elderly lady with pneumonia and I was with her for 7 weeks. This same year I met another good man and married him. We have traveled quite a lot the first ten years. In 1952 we went to Los Angeles in ‘54 Los Angeles and San Francisco, in ‘56 to Los Angeles and San Diego, in ‘57 Colorado New Mexico, Wyoming, Nevada, Idaho, and went Yellowstone later that summer. In 1958 to Los Angeles and on up the coast to Port Angeles, then down the coast to Bremerton and on to Gig Harbor, Tacoma, Seattle, Portland, Pendleton, ----, Idaho and home.
Here are a few things I have forgotten to mention as it is hard to remember everything unless a diary is kept. I was baptized July 26, 1902. My sisters names were Addie Elvira Snyder Simmons, Amy Lilian Rose, Josie Francis and my brothers were George Francis, they were twins, and James Ephraim; James and Josie dying at birth. My sister Addie died November 1950; Amy died Julie 1945. That leaves brother George and myself in 1968.
My first Husband worked at Geneva and then he worked at the state hospital for seven years. I have had wonderful neighbors every place I have lived, and one family we met in 1916 have been lifelong friends. Both of them have passed away now.
Another thing I remember of my childhood: my mother and we children would go down to Springville in the summer, where her parents lived, and pick and can fruit and dry apples. And then in the fall my father would come down and get us. I remember the long ride, and especially the long hill between Heber and Park City, it was called the Deer Valley Ridge. At that time there were no peddlers with fruit and so this fruit was really a treat in the winter. I remember vividly going to my grandparents home and picking up the apples as they fell and cutting them up and putting them out to dry. So after I was married we had a fruit farm and it came in handy to know to how to take care of the fruit. We dried apples, peaches, plums, prunes, apricots and pears. All of the neighborhood children would gather at our home and would eat this dried fruit like the children of today eat candy.
Another thing I remember is the candy pulls we had, and mother reading to us. Father liked her to read in the evenings, so we spent many evenings like this as a family. There was no school bus, so my father would hitch the horse to the buggy and take us to school, as we lived one and a half miles from the school. He would gather up all the kids along the way and then finally he took the team and wagon and would have a load by the time he got to school. I think that’s what started the school bus system at Mapleton and Springville.
I forgot to mention the many batches of homemade soap, so nice and white, it would float. When we sold our farm my husband made me leave my soap-making things and cherry pitter and many other things I could’ve used since. I also braided and crocheted many throw rugs. In 1961 I had an eye operation for cataracts, and in 1964 I had a big cancer operation. Since I lost my husband I have had our temple work done and went with each of the children when they had their work done and had them each sealed at that time. I went to the temple with my oldest granddaughter and also with two grandsons when they went on missions. I have five grandsons who have been on missions.
Some of my later hobbies are ceramics, needlepoint and a few lines of poetry here and there. Here are a few of my activities: worked in Relief society since 1915 Teacher for Teachers message, Visiting teacher, secretary and treasurer, first counselor and second counselor, and now visiting teacher again. Taught the Beehive class in Mutual one year. I have been worked in Daughters of Utah Pioneers since 1924. Class leader, secretary and treasurer, registrar, first vice captain, second vice captain, parliamentarian, captain, secretary and treasurer.
In 1968 I have 21 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren, so I can really count my blessings. I’ve probably had many more things along the way if I had taken time to put them down. In 1970 I have 21 grandchildren and 27 great grandchildren. I later married James Clarence Nielsen June 29, 1952.
Following is a list of my children in birth order: James Elmo Curtis, 1913. Sylvia Rose, December 2, 1916. Louis Carlyle, October 25, 1918. Muriel Fay, September 10, 1920. Velma , May 18, 1922, Virginia, July 9, 1925. Vernon Lyn, May 13 1927. Kenneth Max, April 4, 1931.
Here are a few of the things I have seen in my life that I have forgot to mention.
“At this point mother begins to repeat some of the things she’s already told us. (This is Elmo) She’s had quite a little bit of trouble with her voice, it doesn’t sound nearly like it did when she was younger. She had a good singing voice. We enjoyed to hear her sing many songs to us. There are many other things that I may be able to tell you later on.”
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