The Story of the William Barnard & Augusta Swenson Gibson Family by Wilma G. Kunz
Contributor: trishkovach Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
[Please compare with An Account of Anna Thomasen (Thomasdatter) Nielsen and Her Family, Augusta’s maternal grandmother]
On the morning of Monday, May 4th, 1981, I was awakened at 4:25am by a Voice telling me, “Since you remember more of what you have been told of the family history than anyone else you had better get busy and get it written.” As I became fully awake I seemed to know that it was my Dad’s family the Voice had been referring to, so as soon as my husband Ivan was off to work I sat down and started to write down everything I could think of that had been told to me by any member of the family because I had talked at times to all Dad’s brothers and sisters, as well as his mother.
As I thought of things about Dad I put them down, too, as I had kept wishing someone would write Dad’s history and had now decided that Heavenly Father had given me a good memory for a purpose, and that was to write histories of my own and my parents families.
This is the second time the Voice has told me to write a history. The first time I was told to write the Sandy First Ward Relief Society history and I said, “Oh, no, I’m not the historian. I’m only a teacher and not even the Secretary, so forget it; I’m not going to do it.” After all, I had been released as Relief Society President because of my heart, and the pressure of trying to do a history may prove to be too much. With that I settled down to go back to sleep as the clock beside my bed said 2:30am. Every time I started to get settled down to where I could sleep, the Voice very quietly and patiently said, “You had better get busy on it,” and I said, “It’s not my responsibility,” and settled down to sleep.
After three no sleep nights after 2:30, I held out until 4:00am then said, “Ok, you win. Maybe you can get along without sleep, but I can’t.” I arose and took the book from my closet shelf where it had sat gathering dust for about 5 or 6 years. I went into the kitchen and closed the door between there and the living room so I wouldn’t waken the rest of the family and then I took the book and went through it to find out what had to be done to it. It didn’t take long to find out there was a 16 year gap where all I knew about the organization was that the President was Pearl Shaw and that was all I did know about it. Through the help of my Heavenly Father I was able to get the material that was missing from a former Secretary who had kept her notebooks and was thus able to complete the record. Less than a year later this dear sister had a heart attach and died, so then I realized why it was so important that I get the history up to date then. Because of this I didn’t argue about doing Dad’s family history, as I knew it would do no good to argue, anyway.
Also, through the inspiration which He has given me, I have been able to remember much more than I thought I ever could. Sometimes I have awakened in the morning feeling like someone has been sorting things out in my brain all night and I am sure this has happened many times or I’d never have remembered what I have.
--Wilma Gibson Kunz
THE GIBSON STORY
My grandfather, William Barnard Gibson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on the 8th day of September, 1859, a son of John S. and Jennette Barnard. His father was born in about 1838 in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland; and his mother was born on the 22nd of April, 1840 in Clackmannon, Scotland. William was the oldest of the seven children born to them.
The other children and their mates are: James B. who married Sarah Jane Grant; Jeanette Barnard who married James Elijah Malin; Eliza Jane, who married David B. Smith; John S., who married Annie Cunnington; Alexander, who married Elizabeth Brown; and Thomas Nathaniel, who married Annie Cunnington, after the death of his brother.
Grandfather was an uneducated man, but was a very honest and hard worker. He also was, unfortunately, very hard of hearing, a trait, which apparently comes from the Barnard family as I recall hearing Dad tell how he and some of his cousins teased their Uncles Jamesy and Joey Barnard as they were deaf and dumb, as he used to say. I also remember of him saying they would run after the kids making funning noises as they ran and the boys thought it was great sport until they got older and began to realize that it was because they could not hear that they could not speak, they were mutes who in those days had no chance to learn to talk. I’m sure they were very sorry for their actions when they realized their fun had been at the expense of dear uncles they really loved.
Grandpa went to work in the mines and rock quarries around Park City area at a very young age. During his off hours he played baseball, which he loved very much, and was very good at as well. He played with the Park City Miners team and they many times came to Salt Lake City to play teams and I suppose that is probably where he and grandma met.
According to the newspaper clippings which Grandma and Aunt Florence or Mattie had, grandpa was known on the ball team as ‘old hard-hand Gibson’ because he never wore a glove and could throw just as fast and just as far with one hand as with the other. Also, no matter how hard the ball was coming he could catch it with his bare hands. I can’t imagine catching a baseball barehanded as I remember how hard the softball was to catch when I played ball.
Grandpa and Grandma were married in Salt Lake City on the 16th of July, 1881 when he was 22 and she was 21 years of age. Augusta had been born in Randers, Denmark, on the 13th of November 1859 to Mogens Svenssen, formerly of Borbye, Kristianstad, Sweden and Anna Larsen of Agersta, Hjorring Amtlt, Denmark. They had five small daughters when they joined a group of Saints on the way to Utah. The children were: Laura Johanne - born 28 November 1857; Augusta Elise Frandsine - born 13 November 1859; Ane Christine - born 6 July 1861; Olive Amelia - born 4 November 1862; and Tomena Elizabeth - born 25 January 1864 or 65. (Randers Branch records list both dates but town records list 1864.)
Somewhere along the way the Company on the way to Utah became divided due to a cholera epidemic and Uncle Lars Nielsen, who was also in the party, along with his wife and family, were delayed but Grandmother Nielsen came on with the Swensons.
One night in October 1866, near Big Mountain, Wyoming, the cattle started to stampede and 38 year old Mogens Swenson who was on watch duty, was trampled to death by the stampeding animals. A few weeks later his widow, Anna Larsen Swenson died at age 42 years. Augusta remembered of seeing her mother wrapped in a sheet and being placed into the ground along the trail in Echo Canyon.
Grandma Augusta didn’t remember too much about the trip across the plains except that she was terribly tired all the time from walking and sometimes the men would carry the children to rest them as they only had hand carts and they all had to walk. Even when they stopped to rest for the night the children had the job of gathering buffalo chips to burn before they could sit down and rest. Grandma said she really hated to pick up the buffalo chips but that was the only way they could have warm water for cooking and washing along a lot of the trail so she did her part. (I know how she hated that job as I used to help my friend Ruth Steed pick up cow chips for her mother to burn and I hated to touch it, too.)
After their arrival in Salt Lake City the baby sister died so the girls were told by their Grandmother Larsen and Uncle Lars, but the girls don’t think so as there was a family who wanted a small child who came to see Tomena Elizabeth and she was alright then, but later she was gone and she hadn’t been sick so Grandma said. So who took her and where they went with her noone has any idea, but she was gone.
The grandmother and Uncle Lars also arranged for some people to take care of the other four girls. They were adopted by a polygamist by the name of Henry W. Naisbitt, who had four wives. Each of the wives took one of the girls, Lizzie the first wife taking Augusta. They were supposedly adopted as daughters but were more like servants. Henry Naisbitt is the same man who wrote many of the LDS hymns, like “For Our Devotions Father”, “Rest, Rest for the Weary Soul”, “This House We Dedicate to Thee”, and “What Voice Salutes the Startled Ear”.
Aunt Lizzie Naisbitt was very good to Grandma but she had to work hard, yet she loved her very much so it was a terrible blow to Grandma when Lizzie died while still very young. Augusta was left alone again. By this time a well-to-do family by the name of Paul or Poll wanted to have little Amelia, for they had lots of sons but no daughters, so Amelia (Millie) went with them and Grandma Augusta then went to live with the 4th wife of Mr. Naisbitt.
She was kind to Augusta but Augusta was more of a servant than a daughter now and remembered well how tired she used to get from climbing the hills in the avenues with her arms loaded with groceries. Laura, Augusta and Annie were apparently near the same size as Grandma said the three of them shared a common dress for school and each went to school for a week at a time, so that they only were able to attend every three weeks. Grandma didn’t remember what grade she attained but remembered she did get to and through the third reader. She said it seemed like her week to attend school would never come and the other girls felt the same way as they all longed to learn. Grandma must have done a good deal of reading in her life as she was a good reader and I do know she read the scriptures a lot and enjoyed it. In fact her very favorite reading material was the standard works of the Church.
Her teen years and early life, Grandmother didn’t like to talk about as there was so much unhappiness in them so we really don’t know too much of them. When and how she and Grandpa met I can only surmise, and that would be that this handsome ballplayer was in Salt Lake City and she must have gone to the games when she was able and they met. I’m sure she was a beautiful young woman as the pictures I’ve seen of her and her sisters they are all beautiful, so it is easy to see why a young man would really make a play for her.
As I said before they were married in Salt Lake City on the 16th of July, 1881. I don’t know where Grandpa & Grandma lived in Salt Lake City, but I do know they did live there until after John was born and they then moved to Snyderville, near Park City, Utah. At this time they had 2 children, Mattie Mae and John, both of whom were born in Salt Lake City. On the 10th day of September, 1884, in the little log home where the family lived, their 2nd son Morgan was born. This was a small cabin of either one fairly large room with a lean-to or else 2 small rooms, I’m not certain which as what Aunt Florence says in her story is different than what I thought Aunt Mattie told me. At any rate it was a log house with chinks of mud in between the logs to keep out the mountain breezes. The windows were of waxed muslin drawn tightly on the windows and then smeared with hot wax to seal out the cold of the winter. Grandma used to have her hands blistered by the hot wax, Aunt Millie said.
Before going further I’d better state that Mattie Mae was born on the 29th day of June 1880 and John William on the 23rd day of August 1882. So the little group became 5 in number with my Dad’s arrival. With 2 adults and 3 children I’m sure it was a hard deal to keep them all fed and clothed, but though Grandpa was an uneducated man he was a hard worker and wise in the ways of the labor world and hauled wood for others as well as themselves in order to help to keep the little family going. He worked in the rock quarries of Red Butte and Topliff mainly.
As Aunt Mattie told me, “We were poor but we didn’t notice that as there was a lot of love in our home and we children were given the best our folks could provide.” In one end of the one room or the main room was a big rough rock fireplace, with a big black kettle hanging in it, in which Grandma heated all the water she needed for her little family. The water she carried from a near by creek when Grandpa was at work. They had a rough wood table and benches which Grandpa had built for them and a rough board cupboard. Their beds were large rough boxes set on the floor and filled with straw or clean grass to make them soft and comfortable. This made a very good mattress and could be shifted about anywhere you wanted it to make you more comfortable. Mattie, John and Morgan shared the same bed after the twins were born. This big event in their lives was on the 25th day of July 1886.
The children were normal children who played hard and who also had been taught to work hard as soon as they were old enough to do so. Aunt Mattie told me it was hers and John’s responsibility to see that the mud chinks in the walls where they could reach were tamped tight with mud in the summer so it would be warm in the cold wintertime. This was good training for the children and also gave them a chance to make their mud pies, which most children like to make, and something of great worth to the family as well. They were a busy family but there was always time for the play time each day as well as working in the garden which Grandma and the children cared for as it was almost their sole food supply in the winter as Grandma dried what food she could. This was also their main source of food during the summer along with the berries that used to grow wild in the area. Even ‘pig weeds’ now called lamb’s quarter and dandelions were used for greens in the early spring and the children helped to gather them and Mattie spent many hours helping to wash them for the family meals. They were taught to do their fair share which would certainly nearly kill our kids of the 1980’s, but it was for all of them and little Grandma could not possibly do it alone with Grandpa gone long hours in the rock quarry.
Grandma did all her own sewing by hand, as she had no machine to use. Aunt Mattie said, “Poor little mother never sat down even to nurse her babies but what she had some sewing in her hands,” either something she was mending or remaking, as she made all her boys pants and shirts as well as the girls dresses. The boys pants were made from the back of the leg of their Dad’s pants and the shirts from the back or tail ends of his shirts so Grandma was really kept busy. Grandma had made a few paper patterns which she guarded zealously as she always had a guide and could take up a little here or add a little there to make them fit. She always saw to it that the family had one nice outfit to wear to church and crocheted lace to go on the dresses which Aunt Mattie wore. Aunt Florence used to have a dress which Grandma had made to have Ray blessed in which had row upon row of small tucks, then some set in lace, then some more tucks and then more lace. Each stitch, though done by hand was as perfect as if done on a machine. The entire dress would have been at least 4 feet long, with a wider lace hem, all of which Grandma had done in addition to her other work.
Besides the garden, Grandma and the children took care of a cow and pig and at times they would get a bummer lamb which the sheep ranchers would give away. The calf pig and lamb became their winter’s meat, along with some of the chickens which they also raised for their egg supply. Thus the family always had plenty of food. It was not fancy but was the most nourishing that could be had and they were in good health because of the way they ate. Grandma also baked her own bread, made her own butter and made her own ‘lye soap’ for the family to use. As one can see she never spent any time on herself except what she absolutely had to do in order to keep clean and fresh as she always was. Yes, the children and Grandma worked hard all summer long with the raising of a garden, picking berries as well as the regular work, but the little family would never have survived the winters without the food that had been provided during the summer.
In the winter when Grandpa was not working so much, he used to whittle clothes pegs which Grandma used to hang clothes and which he also sold to others. This he did on the days when it was so stormy that he could not snake logs out of the mountains to cut up and sell for firewood around the Park City area. They were a self-sufficient little brood and my heart swells with pride whenever I think of them and all they accomplished. Winter days were long, but the children picked the weed seeds out of the wool which had been collected from the fences under which the sheep had gone. Grandma carded the wool with the help of Mattie who was a very good helper. She was not very big in stature, but came by it honestly as neither one of her parents were either, but she was surely a worker. I don’t think there was a lazy bone in her whole body. But then, neither was there in Grandma’s. I didn’t know Grandpa.
Sometime after the birth of the twins, Grandpa and Grandma decided it was too far for Mattie to walk to school so the family returned to Salt Lake City to live. I don’t know exactly where they lived at this time but it was a small house just below 11th East.
Grandma still washed the clothes on the washboard, boiled them, rinsed them at least twice and wrung them by hand and then hung them on the line to dry. The children helped when they were around but it was mainly her job and what a job, to wash on the board for 2 adults and 5 children—it makes my back ache to think of it. As Aunt Mattie told me, she at least didn’t have to carry the water into the house now as it was piped in so that was a blessing in disguise. In order to supplement the family income Grandma’s ability to wash clothes had her washing for others, too, so they could provide better for their children. Of course this also meant doing up the ironing with irons which were heated on a stove, summer or winter. From our early days in Canada I well remember how horribly hot a house can get when you are baking which was usually the time the ironing was done as you don’t build fires in a house in the summertime unless you have to.
Not long after the family had moved back to Salt Lake City, Raymond was born, which was the 9th of November, 1889, now making six children in the family. Mattie was now 9, John was 7, Morgan was 5 and the adorable twins were nearly 3½. I’ve already told about the dress Grandma made by hand for him to wear to Church to be blessed in. Grandpa didn’t go to Church and wouldn’t let Grandma take the boys all the time as he was taken to church when he was growing up and being a bit of a rebel he quit going as soon as he could. He didn’t want his kids to do the same, so he didn’t want to make them go. Grandma told me it was a mistake not to take them as they don’t form the habit and then they miss the teachings they should have, so she admonished me to be sure I took mine to Church with me.
Now that the family were back in the City, the avenues for making money opened up for them. Mattie was frequently called on to baby-sit or to help other women with their work at home as Mattie was a very good worker. John was able to get a few pennies from pulling weeds and as they became older the boys mowed and trimmed lawns as well. Uncle Ray once took me on a long walk way up above 17th East (when there were practically no houses up there) and showed me the area where he and the twins used to herd cows, after taking the job over from John and Morg who had graduated to other things, such as hauling rock. It was a really nice walk as it was not too hot and he kept up a constant monologue of whose cows they picked up where and then he would tell me about some of the people they herded for and some of the funny things that happened. He’d also point out the places where they used to go when they went Hallowe-ening and told of the pranks they had pulled. They were taught no to be destructful, but just have a good time. He was a great guy, that Uncle Ray!
He pointed out the area where an ornery old fellow lived in the Sugarhouse area who gave them a bad time about paying for having his cows herded so on the next Hallowe’en night the boys with the help of their big brothers went to his place and dismantled his wagon, carried it piece by piece up onto the peak of his barn and there reassembled it and left. You can probably imagine his consternation the next morning when he went out and saw his wagon on top of the barn. Uncle Ray was full of such stories and I really had an enjoyable time that day. I just wish I had a photographic memory so I could remember all the things I have been told, especially the first year I was down here, which was 1937.
To get back to my story, on the 27th of September, 1891, Pearl Robina was born and oh how happy Aunt Mattie was to finally have a little sister after so many brothers, 5 in all. Of course there was 11 years between the 2 girls so they would never be as close as the brothers were but it was a nice change to have. By this time Morg was also in school at age 7 and the twins were next to impossible 5 year olds. Grandma said what one couldn’t think of the other one could until she nearly lost her mind at times. As she said though, there was one good thing about it. Even though they looked quite identical to a lot of people, they were not, and where Clarence was a dare devil type and quick to do things without considering what the consequences would be, Lawrence was one who looked first and leaped later so he was able to keep both of them out of a lot of trouble which they would surely have had if both had been like Clarence. Yes, Lawrence was a wet blanket to Clarence many times but he kept them out of a lot of trouble and also saved Grandma’s sanity.
On August 6th, 1896, Annie Florence arrived to bless the home, making 8 for the Gibson family. Mattie was now 16, John 14, Morgan 12, Lawrence & Clarence 10, Ray 7 and Pearl almost 5 so little Grandmother was a really busy woman with such a large family to care for. By this time, too, Mattie was working as a “hired girl” for more richly endowed families in order that she might make some money for the things she needed and Grandma knew it was best that she do this as her needs were now greater as she was old enough to go to parties and on dates. So Grandma did without her help a lot of times when she really needed it so that Mattie was able to feel more free of home ties.
John and Morgan had each found school a bore, and even though Grandma would have liked them to go to school, Grandpa saw no need as he did not suffer too much from a lack of any education, he figured if the boys wanted to work it was all right as the money was sorely needed to feed and clothe such a large family. My Dad (Morgan) only completed four grades of school, though the boys did attend some in the winter when there was no other work to do. For the amount of education they had had the boys all did very well in their lives—not that they were wealthy, but they had good heads on their shoulders and knew how to use them.
Grandpa had now bought the house on Princeton Avenue and had added on to it so the family felt almost prosperous, but it had taken united effort to get it. Both Grandpa and Grandma still worked long, hard hours and so did the family so they were able to have a pretty good life. Grandma now had a treadle sewing machine which certainly made her work easier, but she still washed on the board and ironed with the old hot stove irons for her large family. As she said, “The Lord gave her the strength to take care of her family and do that which had to be done,” and she never complained of her lot, either, as all her children have said.
Mattie Mae was married on the 16th of November to Alfred Shiner Tracy and they lived in Salt Lake City for a time. Then on the 28th of August 1900, Clifford was born to Grandma and Grandpa, making 9 children in all. This was a large family even in those days and I’m sure Grandma missed having Mattie around in the evenings to help out. Then on the 23rd of November, 1900, Mattie gave birth to her first and what was to be her only child, George LeRoy Tracy. This was when his Uncle Clifford was just 3 months old. Shortly after this, John began to work with his father in the rock quarries and Morg went to work hauling rock from Little Cottonwood Canyon to Salt Lake City, the same type the Temple is built from, for the foundations of some of the buildings which were being built at that time. Dad once took me on a guided tour of downtown Salt Lake City showing me some of the buildings he had hauled rock for, but as I really didn’t know my way around the business district that well, I can’t remember which ones they were, but it seems to me that the Paris Company was one of them. It may have been known by another name then and I believe it is not called The Paris Company today.
As Dad and I walked around he told me how heavy those rocks were and that they hauled them on a skid they called a stone-boat. It took all day to bring one from the canyon into Salt Lake and they had to stop and rest the horses every little while as they would become so tired. Another thing he told me was that if the stone-boat tipped too much to either side the stone would roll down the hill and there it would stay as they were too heavy to pick up just anywhere and put them back on. For this reason the ones driving the team had to really keep their eyes open for any rocks that may be jutting out of the ground that could throw you. He walked by the side of the team a good deal of the time because he felt sorry for them having to haul such a heavy load. When Dad was not hauling rock he was doing farm labor or yard work as they were an industrious family, even if they were not well off.
With the family all doing their bit they were able to have a few of the good things of life which they had gone without for so long. The twins were around home part of the time and it fell to them and Ray to take care of the garden, which was to include keeping the rabbits and the neighbors chickens out so the family would have something to eat. One day when the chickens were being extra pesky, Clarence asked Lawrence if he was game to help him get rid of those chickens once and for all time. Lawrence agreed to help him, anything to get rid of those chickens, as appealing to the neighbors made no impression upon them.
Grandma had to go somewhere that day and the neighbor lady was away, too, as were all her family. As soon as Grandma was gone, Clarence went into the house and got some of the hard bread which Grandma was saving for bread pudding or stuffing and out he came with it. He sent Lawrence after a ball of string and the two of them sat and tied string around the hard bread, left an end about six feet long and then threw the bread into the yard. In no time at all the chickens were grabbing the bread and swallowing it and the boys would then take the other end of the string and lead the chickens home and tie them to their own back fence. It didn’t take long for them to have about 3 dozen chickens tied up in their own yard and the twins were free to play as they wanted to do.
The neighbor arrived home about the same time Grandma did and poor Grandma heard a scream, “Mrs. Gibson, come over here and see what your blasted twins have done!” Poor Grandma hurried over there expecting to see all the chickens with no head lying on her porch as the twins had so many times threatened to do, but they were all standing by the fence with a silly look on their faces and a string in their mouths. Grandma wanted so badly to laugh it was terrible and she nearly split with laughter when she and Ray told me about it. Before she started to laugh and make her neighbor more angry, Grandma said, “If you don’t like the way the twins tend your chickens I guess you had better keep them home,” and she hurried home herself before she split. After a few hours unfortunately, the bread became soft and the string pulled out of the chickens mouths and they were soon back in the Gibson’s yard as usual.
This time, Lawrence pleaded with Grandma to let him try his scheme and she finally agreed to let him as there was nothing wrong in it. The next morning, long before the neighbors had come outside, Lawrence had hid eggs all over the yard and as soon as the neighbors appeared outside, he yelled, “Mother, look, here’s an egg, and here’s another one,” and another, and finally another one until he had picked up about a dozen eggs in his hat and taken them into the house. Of course, the kids told their mother that Gibson’s had found eggs which their chickens had laid and taken them into the house. In a few minutes the angry woman was at the door telling Grandma she wanted her eggs which Lawrence had picked up in the yard and Grandma laughed and said, “Those were not your eggs, they were mine.” The poor neighbor, thinking she was being swindled, said, “My chickens laid those eggs so they are mine.” At this Grandma told her, “Any eggs that are laid in my yard are mine.” The woman said, “Well, we’ll see about that,” and away she went for home. That night when the neighbor’s chickens went to roost the chicken coop was locked and the Gibson twins never had to chase chickens out of the garden again. This little story was told to me by each of the twins, Ray, Grandmother, and Aunt Mattie.
John, by this time was working with Grandpa in the rock quarry at Red Butte which I believe is in either Emigration or Parley’s Canyon and was a good worker as was his dad. One Sunday in December 1903 Grandpa and John went up to Red Butte to fire a missed shot. John had been injured in the head the year before from a similar situation so was taking no chances of getting hit in the head again. He knew it was a ticklish situation and that his brothers and sisters needed to have a father so he wouldn’t let Grandpa go after the shot, but insisted on going and taking care of it himself, as he said he knew exactly where it was. Instead of coming up from below it he decided to go down to it and as he did so a rock rolled and hit the shot and it went off and blew John up badly, so badly that he was dead immediately. Poor Grandpa picked up his dead boy who was taller than himself and walked all the way home with him on his back.
Aunt Mattie said they had just gotten home from Church and they heard Grandpa’s voice and went running outside to see what was the matter. Some of the neighbors were beside him trying to get him to let them carry his burden, but he would not. As Grandma and Aunt Mattie came running up he turned to Grandma and said, “I’ve killed your son, I’ve killed your son.” He walked like a dazed man which I’m sure he was. Aunt Mattie said at first they thought it was Grandpa who was hit as he was covered with blood from head to foot, then they saw that he had John’s arms around his neck and had carried him for miles as they lived at 1145 Princeton Avenue and it is a long way from any of the Canyons around. Poor Grandma, who had so much tragedy in her life and Grandpa who would have liked to shelter her from it, now felt that he was the cause of it. It was a sad time for the family as John was very dear to all of them and was just 21 years old at the time of his death.
Poor Grandpa was a very sad and distressed man as he blamed himself for John’s death, but John had known where the shot misfired so he could much easier have found it. Aunt Mattie said there was such distress in Grandpa’s voice that they could hardly tell it was him but he was calling Grandma. He kept telling the ones who tried to help carry him, “No, I’ve got to take him home, I’ve got to take him home.” Grandpa had been far enough away that he was not injured in the least by the blast, but terribly so by the great loss of his first son. Dad (Morgan) helped to take care of things then and bought the grave lots in the City cemetery, high on the hill at that time, as they were not so costly, but by the time Dad passed on these were the expensive lots where a lot of the Church leaders are buried, so Grandpa & Grandma are buried among some of the great people who once lived in Salt Lake City, which is very fitting as they, too, were great.
Little Grandma had had more than her share of tragedies in her life, but in spite of them her faith never wavered in the least. She had a firm testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel and nothing could make her waver. She was a very tiny lady and every inch a lady, too. In spite of all she had gone through, there was more to come for on the 31st of December Grandpa was run over by a carload of rock at Topliff, Utah and killed instantly at the age of 48 years. This left 47 year old Grandma with 8 children to finish raising, the youngest being just 7 years of age. Ray and Morgan had been working with Grandpa at Topliff and he had sent them home to spend Christmas holidays with his family so Grandma wouldn’t be too disappointed. He promised them he would be home on the 31st of December to spend New Years day with them.
Yes, he was home for New Years Day but not in the way he had planned or his family had wanted it to be, but he was home as he had promised. Two days after the New Year, Grandpa was buried in the lot Morgan bought for he and Grandma. With all the things that had happened Dad decided to be sure they had enough lots, so he had bought 5 of them higher up than where John was buried. Grandma was a proud woman who wanted to care for her own and didn’t want even her own children to be tied to her responsibility. She worked harder than ever to provide for them. Pearl had been starting to Business School, which Grandma wanted her to finish, but she knew she could not watch her mother work so hard so she secured another job herself and gave up the Business Course, even though she wanted very badly to take it.
With all the family doing what they could they managed to survive and Grandma did almost anything she could to make ends meet. She was the ward custodian for a great number of years because she would not take help from others. She believed in working for what she received and did so to the very end of her life. When I came down from Canada Grandma was in charge of the sacrament service for two wards which met in their building and she washed and boiled all those little glass cups between meetings so they would be ready for the next ward to use. I wanted to dry them for her but she would only let me stand and watch as I waited for her, as she said, it was her responsibility and she wanted to know it was done right, so I watched her and waited for her until she was through.
Aunt Florence said, when Grandma heard that our home in Canada had burned she fussed and cried for weeks because she was in no position to help us. She sent what she could by mail, even her best winter coat and she wore her old one or else a sweater.
Grandma saw all her children except John, married and with families of their own and some with grandchildren before she left this life. She was always kind and sweet to everyone and we loved her dearly. Grandma and a Sister Gustaveson in her Ward were Relief Society visiting teaching partners for many years and never did miss a month of getting their teaching done. They were honored at a special luncheon when they had both been teachers for over 43 years and I believe it was 21 they were together. Grandma was still a visiting teacher many years after that, too and loved the work. She also went to the Temple every chance she had to do so and loved doing work for the dead. She had been one of the outstanding quilters in her ward for many years, too and was usually the first to take a stitch and kept on until she could take the last one, too.
One day when Leah and I were down town in Salt Lake City on our day off, we were walking down the street when Uncle Ray honked the horn and yelled at us. We went over to the car and he invited us to get in and go for a ride with him as he was killing time waiting for Grandma. He had taken her to an Old Folks’ Party several hours before and she had said he was to come and get her in 2 hours. He had come back in two and they were just starting to dance and someone she knew had asked for the first dance. He told her to dance to her hearts content and he’d see her a bit later so he had been driving around town seeing the sights as he said and waiting for her to get tired of dancing so he could take her home. We then drove all around the city for at least an hour or more before he went back to see if she was ready and this time she said they were only going to have a couple more dances and she hadn’t missed one yet and she hated to go home yet so he told her he would take Leah and I back uptown where he’d found us and then maybe by that time she might be ready. She talked about that dance for weeks and had really loved every minute of it, and had not been the least bit stiff and sore from dancing for so long as Ray told her she would be.
When I was there for a few days between jobs she awakened me early one morning and said, “Hurry and get up or we will be late for the parade,” so I hurried and got out of bed and we did the work up in a hurry, she and Aunt Mattie and I and then away we went to catch the old street car that went along 11th East and then on down town to the Labor Day Parade. It seemed that not many people went to that parade so she saw to it that she attended every year as religiously as she attended the 24th of July parade and also I was told the Christmas parade. Her theory was that if people were willing to go to all that work to put on a parade, the least that others could do was to arrange to attend it and support them. Uncle Ray said he would be freezing to death at the Christmas parade but Grandma would be happy and smiling and having the time of her life watching the children around her, and was probably wishing her children had had things like this to bring them happiness when they were young.
Grandma had a great sense of humor even though there are some who may not have seen it that way. One summer day in 1937, when Aunt Mattie’s son Roy and his wife, Francis and children, Audrey and Kenneth were visiting in Salt Lake City I had gone up to see Grandma, not knowing she had company and so she decided I should stay and get acquainted with my cousins, so I stayed. Aunt Florence invited us all over for the evening and we went over to 1000 McClelland. They talked for awhile and then Aunt Mattie suggested they have a song fest, which didn’t do much for Quen and I, nor for Uncle Prestley and Grandma Gibson so we all went out on the porch and started talking and reading the evening paper. As soon as we were outside the neighbors wee kitten decided to come and visit as it was all alone. Uncle Prestley hated cats with a passion, small or large and kept telling Quen to get rid of that cat and he kept taking it home, only to have it back in a few minutes. Uncle Pres didn’t want it there so Quen finally became tired of taking it home so he started to throw it over the street onto their lawn and pretty soon it was back again.
I said to Quen, “Did you ever see a cat with a string on its tail?” and he said he hadn’t. So we got some string and put a long piece on its tail and all had a good laugh as it went in circles trying to catch up to it. The others meanwhile were having a great time singing. We thought the kitten may get tired of going in circles and decide to stay home, but no such luck. Then, like a meany I remembered a kitten we had put syrup on its feet and then a piece of paper and watched it shake them one by one trying to get them off. We asked Uncle Pres if it was OK and he said he didn’t care just so we got rid of it and didn’t hurt it. With that we put the syrup on its feet and it shook first one foot and then the other and we about laughed ourselves silly, even Grandma. Aunt Mattie decided to see what a show we were having that made for so much hilarity out there so she came to the door. She took one look at the cat and came out and whisked it into her arms and started to bawl us out. She told us we were all a bunch of boobs to do such a terrible thing to a little kitten. Grandma told her she had never seen anything so funny in ages, but Aunt Mattie failed to see the humor in it and really gave us the dickens. She took the poor kitty in the house and washed the stickum off its feet and ruined all our fun. Grandma said she had never seen such a stick-in-the-mud in her life, that wouldn’t let anyone have any fun. We didn’t get rid of the cat, but Aunt Mattie took care of it so we couldn’t hurt it. I think the only time I ever saw her laugh so hard before was when she told me about the twins and the neighbors chickens. She was a wonderful little woman and in spite of all the tragedies she had had in her life she never allowed them to make her cross or ornery or any of the other things it sometimes does to people. She was loved by all who knew her and had a lot of friends and loved ones throughout her life.
When Grandma came to the time of life that the Doctor felt she should no longer go on with her temple attendance and her visiting teaching, she declared she may as well be dead if she couldn’t do the things she loved to do. She now had 4 great grandsons and 2 great granddaughters besides all the Grandchildren, of which there were 18, 10 girls and 8 boys. Grandma was very proud of her posterity and had a very good rapport with them. She loved to have them come to visit her as often as possible and in the cooler weather when the furnace was on she would suggest to Uncle Ray that he pop some corn for them before they left. This he would do by taking the old screen popper down the basement and popping the corn over the hot coals in the furnace. It only took a few minutes for him to be back with a dishpan full of corn and Grandma had the butter ready to pour over it so we could all enjoy it. I loved to go down there in the evenings to see them when I was working on Laird Avenue and also on the corner of 15th East and Princeton Avenue. Both were within walking distance and as Leah and I were not too far apart we used to go down as often as we could. Leah, of course had an ulterior motive, as she was getting a bit of information for an autobiography on Grandma. However she has only the life story of Grandma that was signed by Grandma, I believe.
One night when I had gone down to see them alone, Uncle Ray was showing me a lot of pictures he had taken through the years and many of them were of him. I told him I’d like a picture of him and he told me noone had one nor were they going to get one as long as he was alive. I said, “If I can get one without you seeing me get it can I have it?” and he told me I could, but I’d never get it as he was going to make sure I couldn’t pull it off. I went on looking at the pictures of him and various men he had worked with and when he came to one of himself and Aunt Laurel’s cousin Herb Gay, I slipped it up my sleeve and Grandma saw me do it but Uncle Ray didn’t. I asked Grandma if I should keep it and she said I should as he had plenty and there was nothing wrong with it as he had given me permission to keep it. He wanted to know what we were whispering about and neither of us would tell him. A few years later when we lived in Salem and he was working on the Payson High School, he came to see me and was shocked when he saw I had a picture of him among others, in a frame on the wall. Grandma got a big charge out of it when later on I saw her. As she told me, I could have it if I could get it without him seeing me and I did.
At the time Ivan and I were planning to get married, I told her we were planning to get married in the Salt Lake Temple and she was very pleased as her other grandchildren she had not seen married. Roy was not a member of the church and my sister Vera was married in the Cardston, Alberta, Canada, Temple, so even though little Grandma was tickled to death to have her married in the Temple she had not been able to see her married. We talked about it and yet I had not asked her to go with me to the Temple so she became worried for fear I didn’t want her. One morning I had the feeling that I should call Aunt Florence and ask she and Uncle Prestley and have her ask Grandma if she would go too, especially as my own parents could not go with me and I wanted some of my family there.
Aunt Florence then told me she had been to see Grandma the day before and she was crying because she didn’t think I wanted her to go with me, so she would go up there immediately and tell her she was very definitely wanted. Not many people had telephones in those days so it was hard to get in contact with them if you didn’t know a neighbor to call, and I didn’t. The night we were married happened to be East Jordan Stake Temple day and so there were a lot of people from the Stake who knew Ivan and his family and so they decided to stay for the wedding. Poor little Grandma was so upset because they wouldn’t go home as she said she had seen some brides get so nervous they were almost sick by the time the marriage took place, but she had nothing to worry about with me as I could only see the guy across the altar and the sealer. As far as I was concerned we were the only three in the room. When I told Grandma afterwards why so many had stayed to see us married she understood and decided it was a nice thing to do after all.
Aunt Florence told me that night that Grandma had cried as hard or harder to know I did want her to come with me than she had done before when she thought I didn’t. Poor dear, she was such a choice little lady and was every inch a lady, too. She made me some beautiful pillow cases and insisted I was to use them and not put them away, which I did. However I planned to keep them even when they were partly worn out but somehow they disappeared during the years when someone needed a rag I think and I do not have them now, I’m sorry to say. The first Christmas after we were married I was making Christmas gifts for as many as I could in the family and I found some beautiful material which reminded me of Grandma so I bought some and made an apron for her and she was really tickled with it as she loved the material so much. It was a dainty print with a blue flower and a white background. She was a person who appreciated whatever was done for her and made you feel like it was really special.
When we were expecting Jeanette Grandma kept hoping it would be a girl. As far as I was concerned I didn’t care except that I wanted a healthy baby. Grandma was so happy the first time we brought Jeanette to see her she cried for joy, and then when we told her we were naming her Jeanette she cried even more as that was her dear mother-in-laws name and even the way we spelled it she said, was the way my great grandma Gibson spelled hers, even though the state and church records both spell it Jenette. Each time we came to see Grandma she would take Jeanette and cuddle her and love her and tell me how sweet she was and how wonderful it was to see a baby always so sweet and clean smelling. She said she couldn’t stand to hold babies who smelled sour and so she really went overboard loving her as she was sweet.
On Jeanette’s first Christmas she got a little red rocking chair and she’d sit on it and rock back and forth singing “Ock abye don’t oo ky” and when Uncle Ray brought Grandma and Aunt Mattie down to Mom & Dads where we were staying as we were just moving back from living up in the timber for the summer, Grandma really got a kick out of her and her singing to her doll. It was cute, especially when she was only 11 months old at the time. Grandma was so happy to be around her—great grandma’s namesake. Shortly after this Grandma took sick again and this time she didn’t get well as the Doctor said she had lost the will to live so she wouldn’t put up any fight to do so, so she just went downhill until she was gone. Like she told him they wouldn’t let her do any of the things she loved to do so she may as well be dead. She was buried the day before Jeanette’s first birthday, way up on the hill in Salt Lake City cemetery beside the husband who had been waiting for her for well over 34 years. It was sad to lose Grandma, but then we know there was a lot of rejoicing going on over there on the other side because most of her family were there awaiting her return.
She had lived a wonderful life and raised a large family during very trying times so she has been a stalwart in all she has done in spite of trials and tribulations. She was a wonderful Mother, Grandmother and Great Grandmother and was loved by all who knew her. Regardless of what happened she never lost her testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel and I’m sure her Heavenly Father will have said, “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into my rest.” She was exactly that. A good and faithful servant.
At the time of her passing she had all but John and Pearl still living but at the time I am writing this they are all gone, now, as this is August 1982.
My Dad, Morgan was the next to go after Grandma and he passed away on the 25th of June, 1955; then Lawrence on the 31st of October 1960; Mattie on the 25th of October 1962; Clarence on the 2nd of November 1967; Raymond on the 25th of December 1969; Florence on the 28th of December 1970; and Clifford on the 2nd of August 1971. John had died on the 13th of December 1903 and Aunt Pearl on the 5th of May 1936. Grandpa had died on the 31st of December 1907, so the whole family are now together over there hopefully. If they aren’t it is through no fault of their mother because she did all she could possibly do to get them there with her and with Grandpa.
To add more to the story of the Gibson family I asked for help from the families of all Dad’s brothers and sisters but the response has not been very good so what I have to report is not much in some cases. I asked for information on the spouse as well as the brother and sisters but even part of what I have I received from my own sisters rather than the children of Dad’s brothers and sisters. Of course I realize now that I should have started this story when the originals were alive and gotten it 1st hand, but hind sight is better than no sight at all so here goes, and if anyone knows of any mistakes you are too late in telling me as I asked for it and didn’t get it.
--Wilma G. Kunz, August 1982
Mattie May Gibson born 29 June 1880 in Salt Lake City was married on 16 November 1899 to Alfred Shiner Tracy. To this union was born a son—George LeRoy Tracy, on the 23 November 1900 in Salt Lake City, Utah. This marriage ended in divorce but the date I do not know. I do know that Alfred Shiner Tracy died in Los Angeles, CA on the 18 September 1954.
Mattie later married Albert Barton and still later Samuel West. As far as the places and dates I do not know them. I believe she was married to Sam West at the time he died but that her marriage to Barton also ended in divorce, again I do not know anymore about it.
Mattie’s son was married on the 12th of April, 1925 in San Francisco, Calif. To Frances Lorena Hixson, who had been born on 19 November 1905 in Oxnard Calif. To Elmer (Bud) Hixson and Elsie Dannenberg Hixson of Sutter, California.
To George LeRoy (Roy) Tracy—a postman, and Francis Lorena Hixson Tracy were born 2 children: Audrey Aileen who was born on 28 January 1926 in San Francisco, and Kenneth LeRoy, who was born 14 May 1927 also in San Francisco, California.
Audrey married Emil Kornides on the 1 September 1951.
[Re-typed as originally written at the request of the author’s son Marvin G. Kunz, by Tina Allen Nielson]