Life Story of Leah Chloe Taysom Peterson, written in her own hand, transcribed by her granddaughter, Cassie Astle
Contributor: crex Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Life Story of Leah Taysom Peterson
I was born the night of February 14, 1909 the second child, first daughter of Joseph Taysom and Chloe Allred Taysom. My parents were living about 2 miles west of Afton, Wyoming in a log house on “Nield String”.
They didn’t have a telephone and when mother told my dad the baby was coming, my dad hitched up a team of horses to a sleigh and went to bring his mother and to call the doctor from Grandma Taysom’s home. Mother was left alone with my brother Carl who was two years old.
Things moved along faster tan they expected and I was born before help arrived. I remember mother telling me that she was afraid I was dead because I didn’t cry at all.
She had a hard time to keep Carl from trying to take hold of me and as mother looked down at me, she saw two black eyes looking around. She knew I was alive.
When Grandma Allred came in she quickly washed her hands and with the boiling water sterilized the scissors and soon had me all wrapped in a blanket as the doctor arrived to take over.
I remember our Thanksgiving days. Always Mother’s family, all seven sisters and uncle Legrand and their families had Thanksgiving together. One sister Aunt Maud lived in Salt Lake. My what a jolly day- all the aunts, uncles and cousins mad a huge crowd. Everyone brought food and I remember one Thanksgiving after dinner I wanted to go to a cousins house to sleep. Dad said touching the back of a dining chair, “If you can jump over the back of this chair you may go.” I quickly jumped upon the chair seat and jumped over the chair - everyone agreed I had jumped over the back!
I guess I was a tomboy. Always climbing, trees, barns etc. I must have started young as mother tells that before I was two at Christmas, I got a doll and little red chair. Mother walked into the dining room to find me sitting in the middle of the table holding my doll. She just couldn’t believe her eyes and quickly lifted me down. In a little while I was right back upon the table. She lifted me down, then watched me pull the little chair up to a chair, climb onto the chair, pull the little chair up, put it on the table and climb up.
My son Jack was just such a climber!
When I was in third grade, I had to stay in at recess for giggling. I was supposed to sit in my seat with my head on the desk. In just a few minutes someone came running in the room screaming, “Leah, Leah, your house is on fire.” I ran out of he room and down the steps. My brother Carl and sister Maud were standing on the steps. Maud was crying. Carl and I grabbed her hands and ran for home. It was 2 or 2 1/2 miles. Most of it through fields but we ran watching the flames in the air. When we got nearly there people were just standing watching - the roof and walls had all fallen in! Our parents met us and tried to comfort us. We didn’t have clothes or anything, only what we were wearing.
At the time, Grandpa and Grandma Allred lived about a half block down the street from us in a big old house with a large “parlor” almost never used. We moved the furniture out of that room put up a stove and moved in there until a new house was built where the old one had stood.
We hadn’t been tin the new house very long when Carl became ill and my sister Mae was born. Carl died soon after of sugar diabetes. My parents were heart broken and seemed unable to cope with losing their first born and son. It was a hard time as Mother withdrew and used to sit for hours alone with the door closed just rocking the baby (Mae).
They didn’t want to stay in that house and soon bought my Grandpa Taysom’s house and farm down on “Nield string”.
I attended Star Valley High School in Afton and loved to memorize and give readings. I gave a reading as a very little girl and in high school was in many school plays. We traveled to other towns and schools with our plays and speech contests. Some of the plays I remember were “The Blimp”, “The Whole Town’s Talking.”
I was also in church activities and worked in Primary when I was 12. And held positions in the church from then on.
I graduated from Star Valley High School in May 1928, and at that time they had a normal training course at the High School. I wanted more schooling so decided to take Normal as my parents couldn’t send me to Logan to college.
Just after graduation from Star Valley High School in June, four girls, Mary and Martha Gardner - sisters, their cousin Olive Gardner and I decided to take a horse back
trip up to the “geyser”, a cold water intermittent spring east of Afton, high in the mountains. The only way to get there was either walk or on horseback. Mary and Martha had to borrow horses from a relative in Grover, about 7 miles from Afton- north. Mary was leaving to work in Logan, UT and we were to have a last day together. We left in the morning with only a sandwich for our lunch as Mary and Martha were to have their horses returned to Grove by 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
It was a beautiful day and we didn’t take coats. Olive wore a sweater. We took our time, laughing, talking and enjoying the spring flowers. We arrived at the “Geyser” and ate our sandwiches and watched he water recede down into the deep, deep rock cave. Then in about 20 min, a roar would start then the icy cold water came shooting up and poured over the rocks making a large stream of water.
We decided we must be on our way to get the horses back to Grover on time. We started down the narrow trail and after a while we saw a trail going to the north and a sign which said 9 miles to Grover Park. We stopped and talked. “That looks like a really good trail and that’s lots closer than going back home then to Grover.” So we took the trail. We hadn’t gone far when our trail was very narrow and dim. Sometimes we couldn’t see a trail at all and soon it gave out completely. We kept going for some time hoping to find a trail. There wasn’t a sign! Soon we stopped and I said, “Kids, we are going the wrong direction.” Two of us agreed but two wanted to o the same way. We looked ahead to a high mountain and Mary said, “Let’s ride up there and look around/” The timber became so thick and fallen trees so big we could hardly get through and all we could see was more mountains and very thick timber. We started down and soon came to a very high steep shale mountain. No way to get over. We knew we were lost. At the base of the mountain we found a beautiful clear stream and we knew the stream would come out in the alley somewhere so we started to follow the stream. Soon it became so rugged and steep and rocks on both sides of the stream. Our horses would not follow the stream. We had led them part of the way.
We took the bridles off the horses and tied them to the saddles and started on down, following the stream on foot. It was very steep, rocky and narrow in lots of places and we jumped from one side to the other. We were bruised, and dirty. We didn’t dare to leave the stream. We had no idea where we were.
The sun went down and it grew dark very fast. We were cold and hungry. We came to a little ledge, quite flat above the stream and decided we had better stop until we could see again. Olive felt in her sweater pocket and found 2 matches and a sheet of notebook paper with a poem written on it. We gathered as many sticks and twigs as we could without leaving our little spot.
We gathered round and tried to light a fire. The wind blew the first match out and with a prayer in our hearts, we struck the last match. The paper started to burn and carefully we sheltered it from the wind and had a fire. We sang songs and gathered wood until daylight began to break. Our wood was gone and our fire out. We started again down the stream bruised, dirty, smoky and very tired and hungry.
Before the sun came up we came to a trail and could see where logs had been drug from the mountains. How good it was to walk on a path! Soon we came to a road and the canyon widened. We followed the road and came to a logging camp. Horses were tied up and some wagons and two tents. No one was stirring and we quietly slipped by the camp.
About the time the sun began to peek over the mountains we came onto a bench and below us was a valley! Just a small little village and we didn’t know where we were. We walked down to someone’s house. No one was up and we walked a little further. A man came out of a house and we asked if we could use their telephone. He sleepily looked at us and said, “You must be the four girls lost in Swift Creek Canyon! The whole valley is out looking for you!” He told us there was no telephone in Turnerville, our first time to be in Turnerville. We asked where the nearest telephone was and he said the Bedford Creamery. Another fellow, a Mr. Merritt came along and said he would take us to the creamery. We piled in his old Ford and when we got to the Bedford Creamery, the manger was just coming to open the building. We decided to call Olive’s folks, they lived just by the mouth of Swift Creek Canyon. We got the operator and she called. We said we were alright and had gathered there for word.
Mr. Merritt took us in his car to Grover Park where a group of hunters were. Our parents came there and we were all safe. Hunters had found our horses and feared that sheep herders in the mountains had taken us. It was 3 o’clock int he afternoon when I got home!
Had a good meal and a hot bath and slept - went to a dance that night- we were the center of attraction!
After Normal training that year and summer school in Logan at Utah State, then called Utah Agricultural College, I signed a contract to teach 1 and 2nd grade in Thayne. I was also to teach sewing to the Junior High School girls who were all larger than I and not much younger. Roscoe Titmsor was the principal and LaVern Handy Anderson taught there. Vere Handy and I both “roomed” at the Charley Stoker home. What wonderful people they were! We had a great time. One day about noon, Mr. And Mrs George Hale came in their car from Afton with word that they had permission to take me to Afton for a parade and the Lincoln County fair. I had been chosen as “queen” to represent Star Valley! The queen was crowned at the Saturday night dance.
Two years in a row I was Lincoln County Fair Queen. Each year each ward chose a girl to represent the ward, like Gold and Green ball. Then at the stake ball at Welches Hall in Afton, the one who got the most votes was Stake queen. And I was chosen from Afton South Ward 2 or 3 years and was Stake Queen. It was exciting and fun. We had such fun - dancing. We went from one end of the valley to the other - always dancing with everyone. What great times we had and what wonderful friends.
I went to Laramie the next summer to summer school. Ann Wolfley and I roomed together. George L. Bruce and his wife Winona went there for summer school also and they were so good to Ann and me and took us many places . We went to Denver one weekend. To Cheyenne, Snowy ridge etc.
That fall I taught 1 and 2 grades at Smoot, Wyoming and George L Bruce was the principal there. I taught 2 years there and stayed at George L and Winona’s place with Winona’s sister Rowena.