Elsie Robertson Warner Autobiography
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Elsie Robertson Warner
I was born December 7th, 1889 in a red brick house which still stands at the corner of Fifth East and Second South Streets in Spanish Fork. This section of the city has always been called “the Bench” because it is located on a terrace, or bench of land, above the western, or more central part. My father was Heber Thomas Robertson, and my mother Rosetta Caroline Jex, both natives of Spanish Fork. Both were member of pioneer families. My father’s father, William Robertson, came to Utah in the early fifties with five of his brothers from Scotland. My mother’s parents were from England. They heard the Gospel in their native land and emigrated in 1854. Their names were William Jex and Eliza Goodson.
I was the sixth child in a family of twelve children, but two of my older brothers, and an older sister, died before I was old enough to know them. My oldest brother, Heber William died before I was born. My brother, John Thomas, and my sister, Emma Jane, died early in the year 1891, of diphtheria, and it was thought for some time that I, too, would succumb to the ravages of that terrible disease.
My earliest recollection is of another disease of childhood, Mumps, which “went around” the summer that I was six years of age. Dr. W.E. Warner, our family physician, laughed at me because of my swollen face, not in derision, I think, but rather to cheer me up.
My schooling began in the fall of 1896 in the Snell School in First ward. My schooling was often interrupted by home duties, such as taking care of my younger brothers and sisters, and in helping my father with the farm work. My father often claimed that I was the best beet topper he had, and he did not hesitate to keep me out of school during the entire time of the beet harvest. In spite of these interruptions, I was able to complete the twelve grades which constituted the public school system of that time, and graduated from the Eighth grade in the spring of 1906.
Our home was always a religious one, and so I early learned to take part in religious activities. Baptisms were performed in the mill race during the summer when the water was warm enough. I was baptized by Henry Tilley on the 3rd day of July, 1898.
On October 20, 1909, I was married to Elisha Warner, a member of another pioneer family. The marriage was solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple, John R. Winder, First Counselor to President Joseph F. Smith of the First Presidency, performing the ceremony.
Within a few days after our marriage, we set up housekeeping in the two south rooms of the Thomas Llewellyn residence in Fourth ward, and it was there that our first child, Bernice, was born, July 21, 1910. We moved in April of the following year to the old Browne home at the corner of Eighth North and Main Street and lived there for a year and a half. This move caused us to pay more rent, but we had a whole house and lot to ourselves. At the Llewellyn home we were paying $4.00 per month, but the Brown home cost us $5.00 a month. Max was born in the Brown home on September 15, 1911. In July of the following year we built a home of our own on the Warner lot on First West Street in Second Ward, and in this home all the rest of our children were born.
The children came so fast that it now seems incredible. Clifford was born March 28, 1913; Heber James on November 12, 1914; the twins, Leo and Leone, on September 15, 1915; Ross on December 21, 1916; Reed on January 14, 1920; and Evelyn February 13, 1925.
The first death in our family occurred on December 23, 1914 when Heber James succumbed to acute endocarditis after an illness of only one day. The twins were victims of pneumonia and whooping cough, Leo passing away on November 20, 1915 and Leone on December 1, just eleven days later.
I served for a number of years as a block teacher in Relief Society and as a teacher in the Religion Class of Second ward, of which Mrs. Rena Andrus Ludlow was president. This group of religion class officers and teachers made several trips to the Manti temple to do work for the dead. Shortly after my husband became Bishop of the Second Ward in November, 1924, I was selected by Mrs. Edna Brockbank, president of the ward Relief Society, as her second counselor. Later I became first counselor. I was released a few years later to accept a position as counselor to Mrs. Randa Swalberg, president of the Y.W.M.I.A. of our ward. Later on, when Mrs. Swalberg found it necessary to retire because of ill health, I was chosen as president of the organization. At various times I have served in the M.I.A. as Gleaner Leader and as Bee Keeper.
When it became necessary for us to leave Spanish Fork, early in 1942, because of selling our interest in the Spanish Fork Press and buying the Payson Chronicle, I found it a trial to tear myself away from my associates in Spanish Fork. I determined, however, to make the best of it and try to become acquainted with the people of our new home city.
I joined the Relief Society of the Payson Third ward, and it was but a few weeks until I was selected as a block teacher. When the Relief Society was reorganized in the summer of 1942, Mrs. Irma Henderson, the new president, selected me as secretary. It was a difficult position for me to fill, because I was not yet acquainted with the sisters who were members of the organization, and I continually found it necessary to ask the names of certain sisters. I gradually became acquainted, however, and everything was going along nicely, when Sister Henderson died very suddenly of cerebral hemorrhage. The Relief Society was then reorganized with Viola Madsen as President. I was retained as Secretary of the new organization and held that position until August, 1944, when Edna Andrus Hill was selected as President. She selected me as her second counselor. Mrs. Elizbeth Manwill, the first counselor moved away, and I was chosen as First Counselor with Mrs. Isabelle Millett as second counselor.
Another change in our home city occurred in June, 1947, when we moved to Salt Lake City. My husband had been named as a state tax commissioner.
I soon found my accustomed place in Relief Society as a block teacher in the Capitol Hill ward. The presidency of the Relief Society, Agnes Barton, Eleanor Miller and Gladys Winter, chose me as the Secretary of the Capitol Hill ward Relief Society and I was set apart on November 7, 1948. I also served as secretary-treasurer of the Relief Society during the incumbency of Mabel Burgoyne as president, with Mary A, Tanner, Susan Fish and Rhodora V. Young as counselors. This situation continued until the ward was divided on January 10, 1954.
The new ward Relief Society presidency consisted of Rhodora V. Young as president; Karine Kiepe, first counselor, and June Gardner, second counselor. I was retained as secretary-treasurer in the new organization.
On March 17, 1950, Elisha and I were set apart as ordinance workers in the Salt Lake Temple. I was set apart by Charles R. Jones and Elisha by Robert I. Burton.
History found in the Treasures of Truth book of Elsie Robertson Warner