lLife History of Alfred E and Lilla Murdock Romrell (short)
Contributor: jeanniebug Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Alfred Ervin Romrell & Lilla Beatrice Murdock
Alfred Ervin Romrell was born Sept. 1, 1899 in Wilford, Idaho. He was the first of five children of Alfred (Fred) Romrell and Alba Burbank. When he was eight days old, his father left on a mission to Montana. His mother took him on the train to Bennington, Idaho, where her parents lived near Bear Lake. They returned home the summer before his father came home from his mission.
Alfred grew up on a farm. At first his family they shared a home with Fred’s brother Joe and his wife Esther and their family, but when Alfred was five his family moved into a new log house which his father built.
Alfred had many jobs on the farm; the first was to go out near the field and watch Fern and Dan while his mother helped top beets. Alfred jiggled Dan in the buggy and kept Fern close by. There was a big canal across from their home which was dangerous and the children were warned not to go near it.
When Alfred was six, his Grandfather Burbank bought him his first pocket knife and taught him how to whittle. He started school that year and remembered that he was sitting by his friend in a big three person desk when the teacher put a girl in between them. He also remembered getting a new brother, Earl, for Christmas and that his mother had to go to Ogden for a serious operation soon after Christmas. His Aunt Mary stayed with the children until his mother was better.
When he was seven, Alfred’s job was to crawl on hands and knees down the long rows pulling out beets that were too crowded. Another early job was to listen for the hens to cackle then quickly run to get the eggs before the magpies did. In winter he helped feed and water the chickens and gather eggs, always making sure to close the door hard so the coyotes couldn’t get in.
His father fenced the lot and planted a row of trees, lilacs and some rose bushes. East of the house fruit trees, a raspberry patch and gooseberry and currant bushes were planted. A vegetable garden was close to the house and they had a nearby fruit and vegetable cellar to keep milk and butter cool in the summer.
Alfred loved birds and could identify them by their songs. Years later he got a big bird book and over the years he identified nearly a hundred different species of birds on their farm. His father taught him how to get a young sage grouse for dinner with just the right aim of a rock or stick. Alfred told his children that frogs sing too. At night the frogs croaked so loudly it seemed like thousands were singing at once.
Alfred was baptized Sept. 1, 1907 right after Sunday School in the Wilford Canal by Alonzo Messervy, but he forgot to say his name, so Alfred had to be baptized again in the icy water. He was confirmed by Bishop Orme at the next Sacrament Meeting.
Alfred was very curious and creative and made his own fun. His father gave him an old watch to play with and Alfred took it apart and played with the inside mechanisms but never could put it back together. He later told his children that “only two kinds of people take a watch apart; a watchmaker and a fool.” The family never had money for lots of toys, but using old wooden pulleys for wheels he built a cart and made a dog harness from an old horse halter. He hooked Tobe, the dog into it and had some good rides around the farm.
When he went to the timbers with his father to get derrick poles, he cut some small poles for himself and made a miniature derrick with pulleys, rope and nets, then made a hay slip from short boards for hauling hay and a trip and trip rope. He made haystacks just like his Dad’s except his were less than three feet high. He made kites, a sailboat with a rudder that could tack against the wind and a wagon guided by his feet and pulled by a rope tied to a horse’s tail. Alfred made his own fun!
In winter he used an old beet fork to ride on the ice with and could travel as fast as his friends could run, then a neighbor gave him a pair of used girl’s skates which he enjoyed. He even made work fun by teaching the cat to stand on its hind legs while he squirted milk into it’s mouth while milking. He rode horses and swam in the canal as he grew older and helped with all the chores, learning to shock grain, bunch hay and tramp hay while his Dad loaded. He then drove the derrick team when they made hay stacks.
Because the Ward was short on deacons and he was big for his age, Alfred was ordained a deacon when he was only 10 ½ years old. He said, “they passed around a dinner plate for the bread and each deacon carried a drinking glass and a water pitcher. I must give my mother and dad credit for having me always at church; it wasn’t always my choice!”
He remembered many events from the next few years. His brother Hyrum was born, his Dad bought l60 acres in the lavas & they homesteaded it, the crickets invaded and they “herded” the crickets into big pits by a system of long boards with tin strips nailed on one edge laid end to end leading into big pits where they were quickly buried.
Alfred had learned to read by reading to his mother every night as she mended or knitted. His school teacher thought he was just memorizing the books until she had him read one of her books. He liked school but didn’t like homework until his father gave him arithmetic problems to solve using the square to measure with. He liked diagramming sentences and did well in English. He loved his seventh and eighth grade teacher, Eric Johnson who prepared students for exams in geography and physiology. Alfred scored 99% and 98%.
Not long after he completed 8th grade, the family got a telephone, which was a fun experience and saved hours of travel time. Alfred’s father had learned to play the piano and often played for Ward dances. He was a good dancer and taught Alfred a lot of steps.
Alfred spent most summers on the dry farm. Once when no one brought supplies the boys rode home and found the family quarantined because Dan had smallpox. His mother sent them back to the dry farm with fresh bread and supplies; no one else got it. When Alfred was 15 and interested in girls, his father gave him some advice which he never forgot. “Live close to the teachings of your mother; you will have several girls to choose from, but one will meet you halfway and you’ll know she is to be your life’s companion.” His father’s patriarchal blessing promised him “You shall be a seer”. Alfred realized that he had been a seer to his family.
Alfred attended Ricks Academy and the first year rented an upstairs room and cooked on a little camp stove. He enjoyed his living arrangement, school and the dances and socials. He watched others and quickly learned all the latest dance steps. He went home most weekends to see his family, do laundry and get food and cash. He only owned three shirts, but the collars were held on with collar buttons, so he could change collars when they got dirty.
He worked hard on the farm all summer and roomed with his cousins, Mark and LeGrande the next year at Ricks. He found that often one wanted to study and two wanted to talk, but he managed to get good grades. He invited his friends from Wilford up for a dance and his Dad brought them up in the sleigh. Alfred went back with them to help his Dad drive, but got pneumonia. Many people died that year from pneumonia and he got an abscess on his lungs and was sick for a long time. The ward fasted for him and the bishopric gave him a special blessing.
His doctor insisted that they open all the windows, remove all his bedding except a sheet, give him oranges every meal and eggs every day to build his strength. He missed a year of school but finally recovered and rebuilt his strength working in the fields..After Christmas the next year he returned to school.
That year a flu epidemic swept the country; his sister and his roommate got it. School was closed for several weeks. Alfred’s mother came to Rexburg to take care of Fern who recovered but his roommate died. Alfred missed his friend . He didn’t get sick, but worked hard completing his school work and projects as he was preparing for a mission.
September 3, 1919, two days after his 20th birthday he received his call to the San Antonio, Texas. He received his high school diploma, was ordained an elder and set apart for his mission before September 15th. He went to the Salt Lake Temple Oct 7th and left for San Antonio on Oct 15th. He was able to see the Temple site in Independence Missouri on the way and arrived in San Antonio Oct 22nd.
The next day he and his companion started tracting. He had the third house;, there a Catholic Priest called him a devil, rotten to the core! At a street meeting the first Saturday night he spoke on “Faith and Works” to about 30 people. His second area was without purse or script in the country. He baptized the wife of a Civil War Veteran who kept reliving the war. He consented to her baptism, but that evening, shouting, “That scoundrel”! he commanded his son his son to go get his gun. The scoundrels left! But at the end of his mission, Alfred stopped to visit them and was met with open arms. The old man had also been baptized.
Nearly half of his mission was in the country; the summers were in the cities. They baptized several families and extended relatives, Alfred loved his mission and the people!
March 19, 1922, he arrived back in St Anthony to three feet of snow.
His parents met him with the sleigh piled high with warm blankets for the happy ride home. He was surprised that the voices of the younger boys were as deep as the older ones and they were almost as tall. Alfred’s parents had sold the dry farm and most of the livestock but had added forty acres near their home. He worked all summer and returned back to Ricks in the fall of 1923 determined to become a school teacher.
He taught the next year, worked as water master, attended summer school and met his future wife, Lilla Murdock, on an end of school adventure in the Tetons.
LILLA BEATRICE MURDOCK
Lilla Beatrice Murdock was born Aug. 10, 1903 in Thomas, Idaho. She was the eighth child of Daniel Jefferson (D.J.) Murdock and Martha Vilate Wilson. Her parents had homesteaded land in Burrell Basin (today’s Rockford).
They lived in the same two room shed type house her father had moved onto the homestead in 1896 but a small bedroom and kitchen had been added. The house faced east toward the bridge over their large irrigation ditch. Shade trees lined the path to the bridge. They had apple and plum trees, raspberry and currant bushes, strawberry plants and a vegetable garden. The barns and corrals, stables and buggy house were across the ditch on the south.
Lilla’s earliest job was finding eggs. Hens often hid their nests in the garden, hay and straw stack or long grass). When they heard the hens cackle they’d run find the eggs. In the winter the hens were in a coop and she kept their feed and water trays clean and full and gathered the eggs before they froze.
Though frightened by bees, she liked to watch her Grandfather Wilson dressed in a funny wire hat getting the honey. She helped her Grandmother pick rows of blackberries and strawberries. Her grandfather had a second wife, Liza Ellen, whose home was near the river. Lilla fished, helped in the big gardens and enjoyed many kinds of fruit trees there.
When Lilla was five, her father built a new house on the east side of the ditch with walls of lava rock and a basement cellar under the house. It was higher so they pumped water up to water the lawn and gardens. In 1909 Lilla enjoyed a trip to Salt Lake City on the train. She enjoyed seeing Temple Square and visiting relatives in Ogden but didn’t enjoy having her adenoids taken out.
Another of Lilla’s jobs was herding cows and keeping them out of the neighbor’s grain field. Her father sold the northeast part of the farm to the Union Pacific Railroad for a branch line from Blackfoot to Aberdeen and gave them permission to cross his land.
Lilla remembered the train’s shrill whistle and having to chase cows off the railroad tracks
The coming of the railroad brought several new businesses to their community and a beet industry opened up. Lilla helped thin and weed beets in the summer and topped them in the fall. She also helped her mother make lye soap, butter, cheese and cottage cheese and they baked eight large loaves of bread three times a week. People liked the butter that they sold at the store wrapped in papers with “Mrs. D.J. Murdock” printed on them.
She loved the celebrations for July 4th and 24th in Blackfoot. Her mother made the girls new white dresses for it and rubbed a mixture of buttermilk cream and lemon onto their sunburned faces and arms to lighten them. Lilla had a darker complexion and her skin didn’t lighten much. She was often teased that she must be part Indian.
In the winters her father flooded the area south of the house for a skating pond which brought neighbors and relatives to join the fun. The family often popped corn, made candy and munched nuts and oranges as her father read a novel to them, one chapter a night. He would also read the newspaper to them and they discussed national events. Her mother was busy mending but participated in the discussions. They thought that Teddy Roosevelt was the best president.
Church was very important to their family and all preparations were made on Friday and Saturday. A reservoir on the cook stove was refilled many times for hot baths Saturday nights and the girls hair was curled in rag ringlets so tightly that the curls lasted for days. The family walked to Sunday School; her mother usually stayed home and had lunch on the table when they got home. At night the parents went back to sacrament meeting but the children stayed home.
Lilla’s Grandmother Mary Snyder Murdock came to live with them for the summer of 1911-12. This was the only time Lilla knew her. She ws very independent and wore pretty frilly white blouses that she liked to iron herself. She was a short trim little lady with small feet and liked high heeled shoes. She left some when she went back to Salt Lake and Lilla enjoyed wearing them and pretending to be a lady.
A new two-room schoolhouse was built across the street northeast of their house. Lilla and a boy raced in math and represented the school in math competitions in Blackfoot. The next year she got measles and was just recovering when she took the final exams. She and the boy she’d raced with were the only ones to pass the arithmetic exam.
Lilla gained a healthy respect for cars and rules of the road when a car slid off the shoulder of the road on a trip to the Logan Temple. Cars and roads were fairly new in that area. Since there were no high schools west of Blackfoot, Lilla stayed at her Grandpa & Grandma Wilsons to attend high school. She enjoyed learning more about their early lives and homesteading. Her Grandfather’s two wives got along well and Lilla felt equally comfortable with her Grandmother and “Aunt” Liza Ellen.
Her grandfather was born in Nauvoo and knew the Prophet Joseph Smith. He had crossed the plains with his father who bought property in Ogden but died shortly after buying it. Her grandfather worked and paid off his father’s debts and built a good business. He lost everything when his business partner signed his name to purchases and her grandfather had to make good on them.
In 1918, the year of the influenza epidemic, many of Lilla’s family got sick with the flu, but because her mother remembered Grandfather & Aunt Liza Ellen’s nursing training
no one in their family died, though many others did.
Lilla’s parents soon moved the family into Blackfoot and rented out the farm. She was happy to have hot running water, electricity, a furnace, a modern bathroom and kitchen and to be able to walk to seminary, school, church and town. Life was much easier for her parents in town. In Blackfoot, Lilla received her patriarchal blessing and bore her testimony for the first time.
When she graduated from High School, Lilla was surprised by a beautiful pink georgette and crepe dress with gathered ribbon and lace. Her name was also drawn from a list of all the graduating girls to receive a lovely string of pearls. That summer she worked for a piano teacher in exchange for piano lessons. She wanted to be a teacher and had planned to go to Ricks College, but she couldn’t afford the rent, so she attended Idaho Technical Institute in Pocatello and lived with her sister Hazel and her husband, LaVon McKinley.
She diligently studied methods of teaching, watched other teachers, wrote lesson plans and did student teaching. She was accepted as a teacher in Ozone up in the hills east of the bench above Idaho Falls. Her pay was $40 a month for seven months. She taught 2nd through 7th graders. It was a small school and there were no 1st or 8th graders that year.
Ozone was a little community with a “home” post office, a church and a one room school. The winters were harsh there so she took out a $50 loan to buy sturdy shoes, boots, coat, cap and warm gloves. She roomed with Bishop Judy and his wife and 8 children. They had a boy her age and a daughter getting married, she sometimes attended dances with them. On wet, cold nights she often played “Rook” with their parents.
School was closed for a couple days when the snowdrifts got over knee deep. After they froze, she could walk on top of them to get to school, walking above fences and almost able to touch the telephone wires. The older students helped keep the coal stove going. She had fun one day skiing and falling down the drifts with her students. She prepared two students to pass the geography and physiology exams and they did well. Spring brought wet muddy roads in Ozone, but green lawns and wild flowers greeted her when she returned home to Blackfoot.
Lilla attended summer school then was hired at Gibson to teach grades 1-4. She lived in half of a two room teacherage behind the school. (The principal lived in the other half). She had thirty students, half of whom were Indian. It was difficult for them to learn English when they spoke a different language at home. She brought tissues, toothbrushes, comb and hairbrush from home to teach them good health and hygiene.
She attended a circus and some country dances with the principal and her husband.
She saved money and again attended summer school at Ricks the next year. . She lived with four fun-loving girls and attended dances and activities with them. There weren’t many unmarried men attending summer school, but a man in one of her classes often talked to Talitha, her roommate. He was tall, dressed neatly and his hair sparkled with gold, auburn and brown. He invited Talitha and her friends to ride in his car to an activity in the Tetons. This was Lilla Murdock’s introduction to Alfred Romrell and the beginning of a seventy five year romance.
Life’s Adventure Together
Alfred sat her next to him in the car, helped her ford the creek on horseback, put logs across streams and helped the girls across. He showed them how to lay pine boughs to cushion their bedrolls and waited in the morning to eat breakfast with her. They had fun hiking and climbing South Peak, signing a tablet in a tiny vault on top. Alfred fixed a girl’s broken shoe and caught Lilla possibly saving her life after he fell and she slipped while they were sliding down the glacier. Lilla sprained her ankle hiking back to the campsite and Alfred put her arm around his neck, put his arm around her waist and supported her the rest of the way down. She was quite impressed!
On the way back to Ricks a bolt holding the springs and front seat together broke and the car was bumping up and down on the axle. Alfred found a haystack where the girls spent the night; he walked back to find the bolt and wired the springs back together with some fence wire. Next morning they bought some food and stopped at Pinnock’s Hot Springs (Green Canyon) to eat. They made it back to school safely.
They were too busy the next couple of weeks for socializing, but attended a dance together then dated until summer school ended Alfred came to visit Lilla before going up to school and was surprised to realize that he had dated two of her older sisters and wrote to one of them while on his mission. They had an enjoyable time with her family.
That year Lilla taught 5th-7th grades in Lava Side and Alfred taught with his sister Fern at Idmon above Dubois, 30 miles south of the Montana border. During a two week break Lilla helped her mother one week then went up to visit Alfred and his sister. They enjoyed fishing and on Sunday Alfred taught the adults in the small branch.
Alfred joined Lilla’s family for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and they danced in the New Year. Alfred surprised her on a visit that winter wearing an overcoat he had taken apart, turned inside out and sewn back together by hand. She was impressed by his many talents. For April Fools he gave her a box of candy. Luckily she offered some to friends and students first. They were flavored with onion, cloves, mustard, pepper, etc.
That year Lilla decided that she preferred teaching primary grades and felt more effective there. After school ended, Alfred and Fern came to visit her but she sensed a coolness. Alfred told her an old girlfriend was coming from Texas to see him and wanted him and Fern to go with her to Philadelphia to visit her family. Hurt, Lilla told him she didn’t want to hear from him again or see him until he found out how he really felt.
Beth Thomas came and Alfred’s family liked her. Alfred traded in his car on a new Chevrolet and they drove to Salt Lake to pick up Beth’s aunt who was going with them to Philadelphia. They went through Wyoming, Council Bluffs, Chicago and Buffalo camping out at nights. They saw Niagara Falls and rode a freighter on the Eric Canal then drove through the Alleghany Mountains and down to Philadelphia.
Beth’s parents greeted them warmly and they went to the World’s Fair, visited Valley Forge, toured submarines and old battleships with sails and went through the Museum of Natural History in New York. They drove down Fifth Avenue, climbed to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, played on the beach at Coney Island, visited Atlantic City and many more places.
Beth’s father was an Army Major and was hoping to be transferred back to Salt Lake. He decided to move his family back and they traveled together on the way home. They went to Washington, D.C. then Pittsburg, then camped in Ohio. Alfred had made up his mind and wrote to Lilla asking her to “Please write to me at Cheyenne, Wyoming, General Deliver by return mail if you’ll see me.”
Lilla was having fun at summer school with Alvin Teuscher. He was Student Body President and she was Vice President. They attended dances and activities together and she dated a few other men. When Alfred’s letter came, she was very hurt that he was still with Beth, but decided she needed to at least hear what he had to say.
After Alfred received her letter, he and Fern visited their relatives in Bennington while Beth and her family went on to Pocatello. Alfred stopped to tell Beth of his decision and left her crying. Lilla was pretty cool when he visited her, but agreed to go on a picnic at Big Springs the next day. Stopping to see Alfred’s parents Lilla saw a picture of Beth on his mother’s piano. Alfred replaced it with a picture of Lilla!
They had fun the rest of the summer then each left for their schools. Alfred and Fern were teaching in Clark, east of Rigby. Lilla was teaching in Rockford, west of Blackfoot. In February they met in Rexburg to see a play Talitha and Alvin were in. When Alfred asked Lilla what her plans were for the summer, she surprised herself by joking, “Oh, I guess I’ll come up here, rent a house and keep boarders.” Alfred grinned and said, “Come keep house for me! We’ll go to the Salt Lake Temple. Will you?” Then he added, “Let’s get married April 1st and keep it a secret and surprise everyone. Then we’ll be able to find a school we can teach at together next year.”
It was impossible to keep their plans a secret as there was a lot to do in only a month and a half. Lilla’s mother wanted them to wait until June, but could see the sense of them being able to apply for school together once they were married. Lilla found pattern and material for her wedding dress and silk for pajamas. Her sisters and sister in laws helped with the wedding dress and Lilla made out lesson plans and got permission to miss school. They didn’t tell anyone at their schools, so that at least was a surprise.
They were married in the Salt Lake Temple April 1st, 1927. Lilla’s mother accompanied them and Lilla had some special time alone with her mother who told her, “Lilla you have been such a good daughter to me. I can’t remember you ever saying “No” to anything I have ever asked you to do or saying an angry word to me.”
Everything was so beautiful, peaceful and wonderful. The sealing ceremony brought tears of happiness. They each felt so grateful to have found someone with the same goals and dreams. They walked hand in hand down the winding staircase knowing they were sealed forever. After walking around the Temple, they went to Lilla’s father’s sister, May’s house who had a lovely dinner ready. She had also prepared a room for them upstairs above the flower garden. Fragrance drifted up as they sat by the open window watching the blinking lights all over the city. Their history says, “We knelt hand in hand and thanked our Heavenly Father for each other and for so many things. We dedicated ourselves to Him and prayed for his guidance throughout our lives forever.”
There were surprise parties at both their schools when they returned and receptions with their families in Blackfoot and Wilford. They were pulled in a trailer with tin cans tied on behind a car through Wilford and St. Anthony in an old-fashioned shiveree, and felt the love and good wishes of many friends.
Both returned to their schools but they were together at one of their parents homes on weekends. Lilla had been having sinus problems for a long time and spent a few days in the hospital in Pocatello where the doctors opened the sinus passages so they could drain.
After Lilla’s treatments were finished they moved to Rexburg and rented an apartment; Lilla canned fruit and vegetables for the winter and Alfred went to summer school.
They got teaching contracts in Rose (west of Firth), Idaho and borrowed $200 from the bank to furnish their home. They purchased a nice bedroom set (which the used their entire lives), a wash tub, boiler, workbench, table and 4 chairs and some quart jars. After they started teaching they bought a new Chevy Coope for $820. Alfred’s Dad gave them a pig which they fattened and butchered and by budgeting carefully their combined salaries of $235 a month met their needs.
Alfred was the principal and taught the upper grades; Lilla taught the middle classes and Mrs. Bush taught the primary classes. They enjoyed the year teaching together. They planted a garden, bought a second hand sewing machine and Lilla made diapers and baby clothes preparing for their first child. Alfred helped by hemming diapers using the hemmer foot on the machine.
Marva was born June 12, 1928; she was much doted over by everyone. She was the first grandchild in the Romrell family and was blessed by her Grandfather Romrell. Lilla and baby stayed with Lilla’s family for a few days while Alfred fixed up a two-room house they had rented for the next school year in Rose.
Lilla had mixed emotions when Alfred went back to school without her, but she had made the decision to stay home and raise a family. She never regretted that choice.
Alfred enjoyed teaching but decided he wanted to raise his family on a farm where they could learn responsibility.
That Christmas, Alfred’s father loaned them $1800 for a down payment on 85 acres of land up the road from his 50 acres in Wilford. They mortgaged the property and wrote a check for $5000 to finish the purchase. Alfred and his brother Earl had decided to work the farm together. Earl started getting ready to put in crops while Alfred finished his teaching contract in Rose. That winter was a challenging time. Marva got pneumonia and had a very high fever requiring constant care. Prayer, a priesthood blessing and following doctor’s orders plus the memory of how Alfred’s mother had cared for him finally brought the fever down. Later that winter, Alfred fractured his hip joint in a skiing accident. (It healed but had to replaced in his later years.)
As soon as school was out, they moved to their new home in Wilford. They knelt in prayer of thanksgiving and Alfred dedicated the land for a home for raising their family and he and Lilla rededicated themselves to His service, asking His protection and guidance.
The house had been built in the 1800s out of logs and covered with weatherboard outside; inside it was papered over many times. It had three rooms downstairs and a bedroom upstairs. The large kitchen had a pantry in one corner and there was a bay window in the living room. It was a nice home with yellow and pink roses lining the walk to the road. There were lilac bushes among the trees along the road, but there was no well, no electricity, no plumbing and no telephone.
Lilla remembered that it was like being a pioneer. They used kerosene lamps and had to drink canal water or haul it from the neighbor’s a mile away. They and boiled canal water on the wood stove to wash clothes. Lilla boiled all the white clothes and used a metal tub and wash board for scrubbing. They heated water and used the same wash tub for their baths. They were happy to have their own home and worked hard to improve it.
They were given a few chickens, bought a pig and had a cow which Alfred had raised from a calf. Alfred butchered meat for winter; they bought chickens and canned them, had raspberry bushes, three transparent apple trees and a garden, and Lilla picked strawberries on shares at his parent’s home. There were fish in the canal, pheasant and ducks helped out their food supply in the fall; sage grouse and deer sometimes crossed their land in the winter. Lilla made most of their clothes and they were happy to be independent.
After the crops were planted and school was out, Earl went to work for the Forest Service. They raised a cash crop of ten to fifteen acres of peas for Northrup King Seed Co.
Alfred and Lilla and his parents went to the Logan Temple in June of 1929. (They continued this annual trip until 1945 when the Idaho Falls Temple was built.) The next month the family was stunned when Mattie, Lilla’s sister died from meningitis. They went as soon as they heard she was sick but were not allowed to see her. The disease was too contagious. Lilla couldn’t forget her mother’s heartbroken sobbing and the heavy feeling of sorrow that engulfed all of them.
That fall Alfred and Lilla moved to Taylor about three miles NE of Shelley where they lived in the teacherage, the back part of the schoolhouse. Alfred was principal and taught 7th and 8th grades. On April 16, 1930, their oldest son, Owen was born. Marva loved her little brother. When school ended they moved back to the farm and enjoyed a calling as dance directors in the ward. They returned to Taylor when school started. Earl left on his mission in November and Hyrum, another of Alfred’s brothers lived in their house and did the chores.
Though Alfred enjoyed teaching he wanted to see if he could support his family by staying on the farm so he didn’t sign a contract for the next year. The first week they were home that spring, Lilla was called as a counselor in Primary. Alfred was called as president of the Elders Quorum soon after and Lilla taught in Relief Society that fall. They enjoyed serving in these callings and felt they learned more than they taught.
Grandma Romrell watched the children in 1931 while Alfred and Lilla went with her parents to Yellowstone Park. It was the only outing Lilla remembered going on with her parents. Alfred caught fish for several meals and they enjoyed seeing Lilla’s parents rest and relax.
That year Alfred had a good wheat crop and thought about selling it early. If he had, he could have paid all their debts and had money to live on for the winter. He didn’t heed the impression and the wheat market fell. It was the worst time of the depression; many banks and businesses went broke. That winter they were so short on money Alfred cut up old trees and willows to burn to keep the house warm; they often went to bed early because it was hard to stay warm. They had an early blizzard and Alfred fixed up a sleigh to travel in.
Alfred and his father cut 18” x 36” blocks of ice out of the frozen river with an ice saw. They loaded it into the sleigh box with big ice tongs and stored it in a bin in his father’s garage and in a pit near Alfred’s home. It stayed frozen until the next September, keeping milk, cream, butter and meat cool. (They continued to do this every year until 1942 when they got their first refrigerator). Alfred wrote they often used the left over ice to make homemade ice cream for his birthday, Sept. 1st.
Alfred was very creative. During the depression they couldn’t afford a pressure cooker so he made one out of a 10 gallon milk can, a homemade relief valve and a strip of inner tube. They canned vegetables and awhole pork using it. He gave this word of advise, “Don’t try it!!! This was very dangerous!”
That same year his father suggested he borrow a wagon and they go get firewood from the timbers. After making all the preparations Alfred felt impressed to put a rod of iron about a foot and a half long and a half inch in diameter in the tool box. With both wagons fully loaded with logs they had started home when he received an impression to stop and check his breaks. He found a cracked brake reach. He took the brake stick out and used it as a pattern made a new reach. He bored three holes but didn’t have a bit large enough to make the large hole big enough. He made a fire, heated up the iron rod he’d added to his tool box and used it to burn the hole large enough.
On the way home they had a long steep hill to go down, if the brake had broken then, he would have been crushed by the rolling logs. He was grateful for the early morning prayer, the impressions he received and for the safety he enjoyed.
In the fall of 1932 he taught school in Wilford for $80 a month. Often the teachers were paid late but at least they had plenty to eat. (He continued to teach in Wilford the next three years.) That winter Lilla was expecting another baby and Alfred rode a horse to his Dad’s house to send his younger brother to St Anthony for the doctor. After a quick trip in a bouncing buckboard, this turned out to be a false alarm, and after midnight Hyrum drove the doctor back to town.
Eight days later on February 11, 1933 a big storm was expected and the doctor called Alfred’s parents with a message. “Tell Alfred to get his wife in town as soon as he can; there is a big storm brewing. You can’t depend on getting me there.” Lilla was bundled up into the covered sleigh which had a stove in it and carefully driven to her Uncle Lester Burbanks’s house in St Anthony. Delwin was born that night. Alfred had to return to teach school but Lilla stayed in town for several days until the wind died down.
In March a well digger who needed work to feed his family offered to dig an 80 foot well for $50 and furnish all the casings. If he had to drill deeper he would charge only $1 a foot more. They couldn’t afford it, but Alfred knew they’d never get that good of a price again. The well wasn’t completed for two years and was 126 feet deep. It only cost them $96. Alfred made a 5 foot long sleeve bucket from an old honey extractor, put a leather valve in the bottom and attached a 130 foot rope of binding twine. He made a pulley and winch to wind up the rope and could draw 3 gallons of water at a time. (Later he installed a cable which was used until they got electricity in 1940.)
Their oldest son, Owen got an infection in the mastoid cavity of his ear in 1934 and was operated on in Pocatello. The other children stayed with Lilla’s sister Gladys and her husband Clifford Halgren while their parents stayed with Owen. They were very grateful for the skills of the doctor when they were told how close the surgery was to the nerves around his ear.
About this time Lilla and Alfred took a genealogy class and sent for a Murdock history book which gave several generations. They did the temple work for many peope in that book over their lifetime.
From 1934-1942 they raised a cash crop of three to four acres of sugar beets each year. Because the season was short their yield was small and they decided planting more potatoes would be more profitable.
Dec. 20, 1934 their 4th child, Carol was born. She was a wonderful Christmas present for the whole family. In 1935 planting more certified potatoes paid off and twelve acres produced 300 sacks an acre. They grossed $3700 which was really good.
That year a new school trustee brought unexpected changes to Wilford School District. Alfred and another man lost their jobs. Alfred moved his family to Independence, south of Rexburg where he taught school. They lived in one room and made beds for the children on the floor. The two older children were in school all day and Lilla enjoyed making new friends. They also had callings in the new ward. When they moved back to the farm for the summer they remodeled the house working hard to finish it by fall. That year Alfred taught in Teton and they lived at home.
After a long hard delivery, their last child, Dale was born Oct. 8, 1937 in the St Anthony Hospital. The doctor told Lilla this must be her last child. He was named Dale Joy so he could be called DJ after his grandfather, Daniel Jefferson Murdock. (I don’t think he was ever called DJ though).
Dale got eczema when about a month old. They switched him to soy products and Lilla rubbed a black tar medicine all over the itchy infected areas and someone had to hold him much of his waking hours to keep him from rubbing the sores. When he was seven months old the doctor was concerned that he was on the verge of rickets. He took away the soy products and ordered milk, nourishing food and daily sun baths. The eczema disappeared and by fall Dale was walking normally.
In 1938 Alfred gave up teaching so he could care for the farm. Lilla had major abdominal surgery and was called as YWMIA president. With five children she wondered how she could possibly do it but held that calling for seven years. Alfred served in the Elder’s Quorum presidency, then as scoutmaster and a Sunday School teacher. On November 24, 1939, shortly Lilla had made a visit home, her father died. She was so grateful that she’d had that last visit with him.
In 1940 they got electricity and bought a refrigerator and an electric iron! Alfred bought plumbing from a home that had burned in Rexburg and plumbed hot water into the house. (He also remodeled the home of his parents putting in a bathroom and fruit cellar.) They got a telephone in 1941 and replaced their old car. The children were soon all in school, taking piano lessons and learning in 4-H.
Lilla had suffered with allergies for years and continued to take allergy shots. The doctors discovered that she had asthma like her father. She had to be careful of dust, flour and pollens. That made living on a farm difficult.
Alfred registered in the army for WWII but was exempt because he was a farmer. In 1943 they paid off the mortgage Alfred’s father had taken on his farm to help them buy their land. They were able to buy a milking machine, remodel the living room and put in a bathroom. In 1944 they were very happy to pay off their own mortgage and to own the farm free and clear.
In 1946 Marva graduated from High School. Lilla and her counselors after serving seven years as a YW presidency were feeling quite worn out and approached the Bishop about it. A week later Lilla was called as Relief Society President. She was shocked but read her patriarchal blessing and knew the calling was from the Lord.
For Christmas that year they bought an oil heater and a new wool carpet for the living room and Alfred surprised Lilla with a new wedding ring to replace the original which had been lost several years earlier. “He loved to surprise me!”
It had been a good year; the peas and potatoes did especially well. In the spring they put new siding on the house and reshingled the roof then ordered a tractor, plow, cultivator and scraper to level the land. One day Owen and Delwin were helping prepare the fields and Delwin’s team got spooked and ran away with him. He dropped the reins and clung onto the iron seat! Seeing the run-away Alfred ran to stop the horses praying for his son’s safety. As the spreader crossed the first ditch bank, Delwin was tossed high in the air and landed in the second ditch just as the heavy iron wheels crashed over the ditch bank. He was frightened but unhurt!
Another time the three boys were coming up from the field and Owen was batting rocks with a big stick, Alfred had been watching them and saw Dale drop to the ground. He called for Lilla to get the car and raced to meet Owen and Delwin who were carrying an unconscious Dale. It took about nine stitches for the doctors to close the long cut.
In December 1947, Alfred and Lilla bought a new Ford car and Fern and Andrew joined them for a trip to Bryce and Zion Canyons, the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. Then they headed for Long Beach, California and walked on the beach, took a glass bottomed boat to Catalina, saw dolphins, danced to a big band and toured Bird Haven in Catalina. They drove to San Francisco and visited relative in Sacramento, passed through Reno and visited more relatives in Fallen, Nevada. They drove all night and visited Lilla’s mother in Rockford then arrived home in time to wish Carol a Happy 13th Birthday.
Lilla’s mother came to spend the rest of that winter with them. After chores were done, the family often gathered to hear stories from her life. She had a good memory and made her stories live. Her stories were recorded and typed and were later read at a Daughters of the Utah Pioneers meeting in Rexburg, then were sent to the archives in Salt Lake.
When they got the new car, Owen inherited the old Pontiac and he and Delwin attended Sugar Salem High School that winter. Delwin played football and tore some ligaments in his knee. Both boys enjoyed music and went to the Twin Falls music competitions. They were handy with tools and made a bookcase and book ends and some other artistic pieces.
Thinking ahead to Owen’s upcoming mission, the family began projects to increase their income. They added to the dairy herd and built a 30’x50’ cinder block building with an attic and bought 1000 baby chickens. They also planted 100 raspberry plants, some strawberry plants, an apple tree and some shrubs.
The family pooled their earnings and bought a small baby grand piano which increased their desire to practice. Delwin took up the cornet and played in the band. Marva began to play the violin and graduated in 1948 from Ricks College. Her graduation dance date was with her future husband, William Rogers from Ashton.
Almost all of the Fred and Alba Romrell family gathered at Alfred and Lilla’s home Oct. 20, 1948 to honor their parents on their 50th wedding anniversary. A wire recording was made as the families introduced themselves and shared memories of Fred and Alba who in turn expressed their love and blessings upon their family.
That year Owen rented six acres from his grandfather and borrowed money from his parents to plant potatoes. It was a good year! After paying the rent, loan and expenses he still had $1200 for his mission. That year Alfred’s father was 77 years old; Alfred and his family took over the machine work on Grandpa Fred’s farm. Delwin rented an acre of land from Alfred and cleared $240 which he used to buy a heifer that would soon have a calf. Alfred was proud of his family an appreciated their hard work and plans for the future.
After ten years as scoutmaster, Alfred was called as Sunday School Superintendent where he served seven years. This was while Lilla was Relief Society President and they worked together to activate people, plan bazaars, dinners and dances and other social activities in the ward and stake. Alfred was also director of the Wilford Manufacturing and Irrigation Co. (In earlier years water power had been used to run a flour mill and a saw mill but by 1949 the water was mostly used for irrigation.)
Alfred was ordained a Seventy May 29, 1949 by Apostle Marion G. Romney. Alfred had been friends at Ricks with Marion G. Romney and his father George Romney who had asked him to teach his Church History class at Ricks while he was out of the state.
In late July of 1949 Alfred and Lilla took their family through the Tetons. Some of them visited Jenny’s Lake, Hidden Falls and Lake Solitude the day before. They enjoyed hiking through Cascade and Roaring Canyons and saw fields of wild flowers, bears, deer and mountain goats. They had water fights and snowball fights and enjoyed the beauty together. Lilla and Alfred felt the added years since their first trip in the Tetons, but their teenaged children made the hike easily. The family enjoyed many outings together hiking, picking chokecherries and blackberries and swimming at Green Canyon.
1950 was a big year! Owen was called to serve a two and a half year mission in France.
Alfred and Lilla accompanied him to the Idaho Falls Temple for his endowment and the reality of his leaving them became more real. The Sunday before he left on his mission, Patriarch Humphries came to their home and gave patriarchal blessings to Owen and the rest of the children. Many friends and relatives came to hear Owen speak at church on April 31th. Owen gave Delwin the keys to the old Pontiac and Delwin wrote Owen a check for $90 to help with his mission. Owen left the next morning.
Alfred and Lilla and the girls went to see Owen off in Salt Lake and attended a testimonial meeting of the large group of missionaries leaving. Owen was set apart by Elder Oscar A. Kirkham who they knew from his work in Scouting. The family missed Owen but felt his spiritual growth in his letters.
While in Salt Lake they had purchased Marva’s wedding gown. After removing the long train and fitting it perfectly they prepared for the reception at their home. In all the hustile and preparation when they got to the Idaho Falls Temple on June 30th they opened the trunk to get her dress but it was not there. Marva took it in stride and was calm and serene. Her parents were so proud of her! When they drove home there was the box containing her dress still sitting on the fence post by the driveway. She was a radiant bride at the temple and in her wedding dress at the reception.
That Christmas Lilla surprised Alfred with a new suit. When Delwin needed a suit for the Senior Ball, he wore his Dad’s new suit, tie and shoes. All fit perfectly and both men looked handsome in it.
Donald William Rogers, their first grandchild was born May 28, 195l to Marva and William. Donnie was a beautiful light haired, blue eyed baby and the center of attention. Mara came to pick raspberries for her family, Lilla canned 100 quarts and Carol sold all she picked and used the money for school. The berries had been a good investment!
That summer Lilla’s asthma had really bothered her. She went up to Yellowstone Park and stayed with Fern and Andrew during the harvest. The doctors recommended she go to Arizona and take allergy shots. The doctor had wanted Lilla to have cortisone shots but Alfred asked him about using ammonium chloride to dry up her cough. He said he could give her the shots and felt that living out in the warm open air in Arizona and eating lots of citrus would help her get better. The doctor agreed and gave them the prescription. Alfred gave Delwin power to sign checks and they left after Thanksgiving.
They found a small motel near the Temple in Mesa. Lilla rested and they attended the Temple often. One of the friends they met there invited them out to dinner and took them to an orange grove where they picked two bushel of oranges. They ate oranges every day and picked pecans and enjoyed them. When they arrived home on Carol’s birthday, Lilla felt strong and healthy and her cough was completely gone.
She was released as Relief Society President the next Sunday and called to teach the 12 year olds in Sunday School. Alfred was still the Sunday School Superintendent. On May 25, 1952 he was ordained a high priest.
Their second grandson, Lynn Rogers was born November 11, 1952. The family welcomed him and began planning Christmas vacation when Owen was coming home from his mission. Delwin was in his second year at Ricks, Carol was a senior in High School and planning to go to Ricks in the Spring. Dale was a sophomore in High school and was preparing to be an engineer. He offered to stay home and do the chores while the others picked up Owen.
Owen reported to the Church Office in Salt Lake and was released. The family arrived home late that night, the evening chores were done and Dale was asleep in the rocking chair. Christmas was a joyous time of gratitude. Crops had been excellent while Owen was gone. They had bought a new car, deep freeze, electric cook stove, electric water heater and automatic washer and had added a garage onto the house and finished the large chicken coop. Owen’s mission cost over $70 a month but the money was always there and was never missed. Both Alfred and Lilla attested to the blessings of paying a full tithing and making other church donations. They also spent money and time toward building a new chapel and felt very rewarded for their efforts.
That winter there were high winds and deep snow. A drift between the house and garage was eight feet deep. The roads were finally all opened in February.
Delwin had given up on serving a mission since the government was only allowing a few young men to serve missions a year and there was a waiting list. He agreed to join Alfred and Lilla at a leadership meeting entitled Courtship and Marriage. Only a week later he brought a girl home after a dance; though they’d never met her, Alfred and Lilla listening to the piano playing and beautiful harmony from down stairs knew that Delwin had found the right girl. About a month later he proposed. Janis Bischoff and Delwin were married April 15, 1953 in the Idaho Falls Temple and had a reception and dance at Rose Chapel. They moved into an apartment in Rexburg where they could work and go to school.
Heartbreak hit the next month! Marva brought the boys to visit Grandpa and Grandma while William was at the Temple. Donnie woke up from a nap and got into some red candy coated pills Alfred kept in the dresser by the bed. The doctor told them to give him lots of liquids and watch him closely. He soon vomited up a number of pills and they rushed him to the hospital. In spite of all efforts he died at 7:00 that evening. It was a bitter shock to Marva and William and the whole family but they were grateful that they knew they would be with him again.
Carol graduated from High School later that month. The family gave her a beautiful cedar chest and her future husband, Bill Ferney accompanied her to the graduation party. Carol had taught piano and had accompanied singing groups. She was President of Future Homemakers of America and enjoyed sewing and cooking. She was on the honor roll and received a scholarship to Ricks.
In early July Alfred, Lilla, Carol and Dale went to the Burbank reunion in Lethbridge, Alberta Canada and visited Alfred’s mother’s relatives. On the way they went through Glacier National Park and visited Fern and Andrew. They attended the Cardston Temple and came home by way of Great Falls, Montana, Lewis & Clark Caverns and Virginia City ghost town.
Carol was crowned Queen of the 24th of July parade and rode on the float with her attendants. She started Ricks in the fall majoring in Home Economics and won a prize for the wool dress she made for her mother. Dale received the highest award in Explorer Scouts, the Silver Award. The new Wilford chapel was dedicated September 27, 1953; Alfred was on the building committee.
Lilla and some of her sisters visited her mother that fall and spent many hours remembering their happy family life. Before they left, their mother asked them to sing “Oh My Father” for her. On Thanksgiving Day her mother had a massive stroke and died December 20, 1953 in Pocatello. All of her daughters sang “Oh My Father” at the funeral and she is buried next to her husband in the Thomas Cemetery in Riverside, Idaho.
For Christmas that year William installed a coal furnace with an automatic coal stoker for them. It made such a difference; they set the thermostat and it kept the whole house warm. Alfred installed an eighty gallon hot water tank and connected it to the water heater which gave them plenty of hot water.
Janis and Delwin brought in the New Year with the birth of Debbie on January 3, 1954. On June 11th, Joy, Marva and Williams’s first daughter was born (the day before Marva’s birthday). They noticed that Owen had been visiting Vella Reynolds in Marysville quite often. He proposed August 14th before he left for the Army.
Alfred and Lilla took Carol and Vella to visit him in El Paso, Texas later that year. They went through Arches National Park and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico on the way down and got to eat Christmas dinner with Owen in the army mess hall. Two days later he received a transfer to Virginia. On the way home they drove through Arizona and stopped to pick oranges in Mesa. They visited Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, Marble Canyon, Zion’s Park and Bryce Canyon. A big snow storm caught them in Southern Utah and Alfred put on snow tires. They saw many people off the road and were very happy to reach home safely.
Dale had stayed home to take care of the chores and enjoyed eating Christmas dinner with Marva and William’s family. Later that winter the snow drifted so badly that Dale was snowed out for three days. He stayed with friends in town during the week and walked through the drifts to get home that weekend. He commented, “I’m sure glad we don’t have a TV!”
In February of 1955 they bought 1600 baby chickens, the next autumn and winter the hens laid bout 22 cases of eggs a week, 1100 eggs a day! Alfred invented an egg washer which saved a lot of time and gave them cleaner eggs that sold easily. Dale graduated from High School in 1955 and rented land from Grandpa Romrell. He planted potatoes, netting $574 for school.
Owen hitched short rides on cargo planes from Virginia with many connections to get home for his wedding. He and Vella were married May 19, 1955 in the Idaho Falls Temple. Both Grandpas and William gave them money as wedding gifts, which helped them buy a used car for their honeymoon trip back to Virginia.
Dale enrolled at Ricks College in the fall majoring in electrical engineering. Carol, who had attended Ricks for two years enrolled at Utah State University in Logan for the fall of 1955. Bill Ferney completed his mission and also attended Utah State the next spring.
1956 was a very busy year! Patti was born to Janis and Delwin April 7, 1956. Owen and Vella returned from Virginia that spring and bought a three room trailer which they parked near the Romrell home in Wilford. Owen had taken correspondence courses while in the military and passed the test for French because of his mission. He helped on the farm and graduated from Ricks with a B.A. in General Agriculture.
Dale worked during the summer for the Forest Service surveying roads and campsites
in Teton Canyon east of Driggs. He came home on weekends and continued at Ricks in the fall. Bryan was born to Owen and Vella October 19, 1956. Carol and Bill became engaged that fall and were married November 21st in the Idaho Falls Temple. Marie was born Decmber 9th to Marva and William in Logan where William was attending Utah State.
Owen and Vella stayed on the farm until the spring of 1957 when they moved their trailer to Island Park where Owen worked for the Forest Service. Early that fall, Dale was called to the Southern States Mission and family gathered Oct 20, 1957 for his farewell. Just before they left for Church, Carol called announcing the birth of their baby girl, Cheryl Ferney. Dale left for Salt Lake the next day.
After everyone had gone, Lilla and Alfred reflected that Oct. 20th had been a significant date in their family. His parents were married on that date in 1898 and his father left on his mission that same day the next year. Alfred had arrived on his mission on Oct 20, 1919 and Cheryl Ferney had been born and Dale’s mission farewell occurred on Oct 20, 1957. They went to Salt Lake to see Dale off when he left for the Southern States.
Early in March 1958 Alfred’s father Fred was hit by a car in St. Anthony. He suffered a broken leg and had a heavy cast put on his leg. He was 86 years old. Alfred’s parents lived with them for the next three months while the leg healed.
Gina , Delwin and Janis’s daughter was born March 19th. She only weighed 5 pounds and had to stay at the hospital for ten days. That summer Alfred’s hip was hurting much of the time and Carol and Bill came to help them. They loved the time with them and Baby Cheryl and appreciated help on the farm and with the raspberries. In the fall Lilla helped Carol move back to Logan to get ready for her teaching position while Bill helped finish getting the hay in.
They were in Logan when Marva received her Golden Gleaner award and when Laurie Ann, Owen and Vella’s daughter was born September 29, 1958. Jeanine was born to Marva and William December 12th. They enjoyed seeing the growth in their family.
They also began to realize the doctor was right; they were getting older. He cautioned Alfred that the cartilage in his hip was wearing thin and would not allow him to do heavy farm work much longer. That winter a series of bad muscle spasms in his hip put Alfred in bed several times. Lynn helped with the chores and attended school and they hired a man to help the next spring.
Those were dark days as Alfred hobbled around on crutches, then Lilla suffered with neck spasms from helping with the heavy work. Lilla prayerfully decided to accept a substitute teaching job which turned into full time at Parker School nine miles away.
Fighting the winter blizzards was a challenge for her.
Delwin gave them their first TV for Christmas that year. It helped keep Alfred’s mind occupied while he lay in tractions that winter. Realizing the problems they were having, William quit school at Utah State and brought Marva and their family to live with her parents so he could help with the farm work. He was able to take some classes at Ricks but he and Marva did most of the chores.
When Lilla finished teaching in March and Alfred was able to get around, William urged them to go visit his parents in Arizona and recover in the warm climate. Alfred hired a man to help William plant the crops and they left for Arizona. That summer they got teaching contracts in Shelley for the next year and arranged to rent a small apartment. They took summer classes in the morning at Ricks and helped do chores on the farm in the afternoon. Alfred was still on crutches so he hired a man to do the heavy work.
When school started their apartment in Shelley wasn’t finished so they commuted from Wilford until October. Alfred’s classroom wasn’t finished so he taught in the corner of the auditorium for a few weeks. Life was challenging but they enjoyed getting back in the classroom.
Dale returned from his mission during spud vacation so they attended church in Wilford and visited with friends there, then moved Dale’s things from the farm and he left for Logan where Carol had enrolled him in Electrical Engineering classes at Utah State.
Lilla and Alfred enjoyed their new ward in Shelley and worked in the MIA then were called to teach Sunday School. Their family continued to grow. Janet Ferney was born June 19,1959 to Carol and Bill and Valene was born November 6th to Owen and Vella. Dale came home during spring break and met the girl he was going to marry during a visit to the dentist’s office. Bonita Campbell was the dental assistant. They saw him most weekends after that.
In the spring of 1960 Alfred and Lilla signed contracts for the next year, sold their cattle and some farm equipment and bought a home under construction in Shelley. Dale worked at Atomics International out on the site and they attended summer school. Dale and Delwin helped on the house that summer.
Dale and Bonnie were married August 19, 1960 and went back to school in Logan that October. Jerry was born to Marva and William September 10 and Brenda was born to Carol and Bill September 30th. and Darla to Owen and Vella February 6, 1961. They moved into their new home just before Thanksgiving and the family gathered to celebrate. Soon after that Delwin and Janis moved their family to Richland, Washington where Delwin worked for Hanford. Owen and Vella called announcing Darla’s birth February 6, 1961.
Alfred’s parents came to spend a couple of weeks in the Spring of 1961 but Alfred’s mother wasn’t feeling well and they returned to Wilford, then went on to stay with Fern in Rexburg. That summer Alfred and Lilla went to summer school in Pocatello. They stayed with Lilla’s sister Hazel McKinley and her husband LaVon during the week and came home on weekends. Dale and Bonnie lived in their home and Dale worked on finishing the basement. While attending the temple with Dale and Bonnie and her parents they were overjoyed that all of their grandchildren were being born into eternal families. Two more grandchildren joined the family that year. Linda was born June 17, 1961 to Delwin and Janis, and Dale and Bonnie’s first child, Terece was born August 1st.
Alfred’s mother, Alba passed away September 18, 1961 at the age of 85. His father joined her May 11, 1962 at age 90. Both were buried in the Wilford Cemetery and were sorely missed. A friend of the family who knew them well said, “Your parents were the most humble people I ever knew.” Alfred remembered “If they owed anyone, neither would be happy until the debt was paid”, and he gave his children the challenge his father had given him, “I want you to be better than I. Improve the race!”
Verle was born April 13, 1962 to Owen and Vella. A couple months later they left their baby with Dale and Bonnie and took Alfred and Lilla on a trip to the World’s Fair in Seattle going by way of Spokane and Grand Coulie Dam. They enjoyed going up to the Observatory in the top of the Space Needle and seeing the marvels of the Fair and the beauty of Puget Sound and Mt Rainer in the distance. On the way home they visited relatives in Westport and went ocean fishing for the first time. They had a great time.
That August with mixed emotions they sold their farm. It had been a wonderful place to raise their family and teach them how to work together. They had many fond memories of the years spent in Wilford. It was a busy fall. During spud vacation Alfred and Lilla went to Logan to be with Marva to await their coming child and William went out to Howe to help Owen on his farm. Renae was born Oct 5, 1962 and William hurried home the next day.
Alfred and Lilla were back in Shelley October 8th when Dalita was born to Dale and Bonnie who were living in their basement apartment. It was soon vacant when Dale was asked to go to Piqua Ohio to help put a reactor on line. They left in January 1963.
That year Lilla surprised Alfred by saying “Let’s buy a boat”! They had enjoyed a boat ride with friends a few years earlier and knew it would be fun for family outings. Delwin found one in Richland for them which they picked up during spring break. It was a 14 foot fiberglass boat in which they spent many wonderful hours with friends and family fishing, boating and waterskiing.
On June 5, 1963, Alfred (age 63) and Lilla (age 59) fulfilled their life long dreams of graduating from college and celebrated with family and friends. Finishing school gave them a new sense of freedom. They had no farm work and no summer school to keep them home. They had a large garden but could get others to care for it when they took trips to visit family during school breaks.
In late July 1963 they took the train from Pocatello to Chicago and joined Dale and Bonnie on a trip through Ohio and New York. They visited the Kirtland Temple, Niagara Falls, and New York City. Highlights of that trip were the Hill Cumorah Pageant, visiting the Sacred Grove, attending Radio Music Hall and the Statue of Liberty and taking in a Broadway Show in New York City,
Their family continued to grow! Dale and Bonnie’s first son, Kelvin was born March 18th in Ohio. Lucinda was born April 30th to Carol and Bill in Logan. During the summer they enjoyed fishing trips in their boat and caught and froze 108 fish on one trip with Delwin and Janis in Washington. Dale & Bonnie were transferred from Ohio to Canoga Park, California that summer and stopped for a visit and trip to Jenny’s Lake.
On October 10, 1964, Owen and Vella’s twin daughters, Shauna and Sharon were born. Sharon had health challenges and was not expected to live. They were able to be there when Owen gave her a name and father’s blessing a couple of days before she died. She is buried in Thomas Cemetery in Riverside near Lilla’s parents. What a heartache it was to lose another grandchild so pure and precious.
That Christmas Dale & Bonnie drove from California to join them for Christmas. Bonnie was expecting another child and developed some problems and had to spend most of the time in bed. Lilla and Bonnie worked on Murdock and Romrell genealogy much of the vacation while the children enjoyed the snow.
In the summer of 1965 they traveled by train from Pocatello to visit Delwin and his family in Richland then traveled in their big station wagon with them all the way down the Pacific Coast through Washington, Oregon and California. They enjoyed seeing San Francisco, visiting Dale in Canoga Park, and going to Disneyland and Sea World. Lilla and Alfred stayed at Dale’s awaiting the birth of their baby. Alfred went out deep sea fishing with one of Dale’s friends and was surprised when they announced over the loud speaker, “Alfred Romrell is the grandfather of a new 10 pound 10 oz. baby boy.” Craig was born June 29, 1965.
They often visited Owen and Vella and helped as they could on their farm, enjoying boating, fishing trips or overnight outings during slack times. Alfred was pleased to see the children working hard together and liked to attend church in the Howe Branch with them. They were far away from the city but made their own fun.
On Christmas Day, 1965 Delwin called announcing the arrival of their 5th daughter, Shelley. Alfred and Lilla’s full time teaching jobs gave them more finances. They saved their money and bought a Chevrolet Caprice in the spring of 1966 and traveled in comfort taking Carol and Bill and their family on an extended trip out to visit Delwin.
Delwin took vacation time and rented a camp trailer. They camped and boated at Lake Sullivan and traveled down the Pacific Coast to Oregon. The grandchildren had fun playing together in the sand, digging for clams and eating blackberries. Delwin’s family stayed longer at the coast while the rest drove down to San Francisco where they visited Bill’s brother Don then continued on to visit Dale’s family in Canoga Park.
While at Dale’s they spent a day at Griffith Park Observatory and enjoyed looking out the giant telescope. Another day was spent at Marineland where they got splashed by the dolphins and whales. They stopped at Knott’s Berry Farm and Alfred talked to the children about freedom as they saw the replica of Independence Hall at Philadelphia.
A highlight of the trip was when the three couples went out deep sea fishing. All of them caught fish, many of which were over two feet long. Bonnie caught one 37 inches long! It took until after midnight to get them cleaned, wrapped and frozen. They had three coolers full, one for each family and by packing them in dry ice they got them home safely. They spent the rest of the summer canning and freeing food from their garden.
The next spring Alfred was out helping Owen when he had an exciting experience. He ran Bryan to a scout meeting and stopped at the Howe phone booth to call Lilla.
Looking down he discovered he shared the phone booth with a big coiled up rattlesnake. Alfred felt safe in heavy coveralls and tall thick boots and was more curious than alarmed. The snake body remained coiled as just the head moved back and forth about a foot off the floor striking and sinking it’s fangs into his heavy boots over and over! Finally the snake began to slither out under the door; Alfred stepped on it’s tail while a man outside the booth killed it. Alfred took the rattles home to show Lilla and used them as a visual aid in his classroom.
Lilla and Alfred both enjoyed their teaching careers. Lilla taught 1st grade and Alfred taught 5th grade. They were constantly studying and trying new teaching techniques that made learning more enjoyable for their students.
Alfred and Lilla set a good example for their children always serving in church callings and helping others. They enjoyed watching their children serve in auxiliary callings and in bishoprics and elder’s quorums and were proud of all of their family. They took every opportunity to spend time with them.
In 1966 they bought William’s brother’s 16 foot fiberglass boat and a new 55 horsepower motor. They enjoyed trips up to Island Park and out to American Falls Reservoir with families when they could go.
In 1967 they joined Dale’s family for a trip through Yosemite Park. They played alphabet games while traveling and even had two year old Craig pointing to animals that had the right sounds. Kelvin who was four surprised them by how quickly he could spot letters on signs. The park had beautiful lakes and forests but Yosemite Valley with its steep granite walls and big waterfalls was especially “magnificent” according to Alfred. The children were awed by the firefalls down the side of the canyon at night and Alfred took so many pictures on that trip that Dale called him “Trigger Finger”.
After getting back to Dale’s home they took another deep sea fishing trip and each caught several big fish. Lilla caught one so big she couldn’t get it in the boat so Alfred landed it for her and they took another cooler full of fish back to Idaho
That fall they joined Carol and Bill’s family in their new three bench seat Ford station wagon on a trip to Yellowstone Park. They had room for everyone and enjoyed watching the children’s reactions to the geysers at Old Faithful and the bubbling mud pots and hot pools.
One year while visiting Delwin’s family in Washington, one of Delwin’s friends took them on a plane ride above the city. They had a great time and after that they traveled by plane when visiting him and Dale and their families.
Another year while visiting Dale in the winter they went to see Santa Claus lane where every street of houses decorated around a different Christmas theme. Bonnie’s parents also spent Christmas with them and on New Year’s Eve the adults spent a wonderful evening dancing to Lawrence Welk at the Hollywood Palladium. Carol and Bill picked them up in Salt Lake on the way home and they enjoyed a few days there.
In 1968 at the close of the school year Lilla and Alfred retired from teaching. They were both honored with plaques presented by the Shelley School District for nine years of teaching. They also received letters from Idaho Governor Samuelson congratulating Lilla for 14 years of teaching in Idaho and Alfred for teaching 22 years. But the most treasured honors were those paid by past students who greeted them over the years thanking them for being their teachers.
They were called to work with the Aaronic Priesthood Adults helping activate couples and go with them to the Temple. They loved that calling and often took couples to the Idaho Falls Temple visitor’s center. They became good friends with these couples and went with three couples to the Temple. Another couple moved away but were making good progress. When the Elders were given that program, Alfred and Lilla were called to serve at the Idaho Falls Temple Visitor’s Center where they served for five years. When released from that calling they were called to help the missionaries by fellowshipping people they were teaching.
They spent more time in the garden, canning or giving away the produce. They took up some new hobbies; the one they enjoyed most was oil painting. They took several field trips to photograph sites they wanted to paint. Both loved the Tetons which they’d seen all those years from their farm. They both painted lovely paintings of the Tetons which hung for years in their living room. They each used their own style and appreciated the other’s work. They said this hobby made them appreciate more fully the beauty all around them.
Lilla bought a new sewing machine and made nightgowns for all their grand daughters for Christmas. Alfred helped by making all the button holes. Lilla started to make bead necklaces and other jewelry and Alfred surprised her by making six beautiful choker necklaces, one for their five daughters and Lilla.
Delwin called November 5, 1968 announcing the arrival of Angela, their 6th beautiful daughter. They enjoyed being at the blessings of each child. Dale called the next summer, two weeks before they moved to Mission Viejo, California. Their son David Alfred, named after both grandfathers had arrived July 28, 1969. They went to California to bless the baby, baptize Terece and see the new home. They helped pick and can peaches then Alfred and Dale went fishing out of San Diego. In spite of getting seasick, Alfred managed to land a large white sea bass which weighed 21 pounds after being cleaned.
William and Marva called July 25, 1970 announcing the arrival of Stephen. Shortly after that Lilla became ill and had gallstones removed. She appreciated Marva spending the night at the hospital and the concern and care of all the families as she recovered.
That Christmas they flew to California and had a fun time making secret gifts with Dale’s family. They made braided bread and gave it to neighbors as they went Christmas caroling. They visited African Safari and saw a big shaggy lion put his face against a car window, surprising the lady next to the window. They quickly made sure all windows were rolled clear up. They also visited Santa Claus Land and saw Santa and his reindeer then slid on air mattresses down the hills.
After Christmas Alfred made doors and hung them for a fruit cupboard while Lilla and Bonnie made a matching shirt for Alfred and evening dress for Lilla for their upcoming trip to Hawaii. On New Year’s Day they watched the Rose Parade on TV then went to the park where all the floats were exhibited. It took millions of roses and other flowers to decorate the floats; many of the flowers came from Hawaii.
The second week in January the Hawaii trip began by all the group meeting in a hotel in Los Angeles. They quickly made friends with two couples that they enjoyed doing things with the rest of the trip. They were greeted at the Hilo Hawaii airport by dancing Hawaiian girls with beautiful leis for each of them. They went to orchid farms, Rainbow Falls, lava flows, volcanoes, monuments and fruit plantations.
They wore their new evening clothes for the Aloha Party the first night and were treated to Hawaiian music by string instruments and beautiful vocal harmony. The second evening in Hilo they went looking for swim suits and unbeknown to each other picked out suits of the very same cloth. (They never used the suits because of cloudy, stormy weather.)
The next day they flew to Maui where Alfred earned the nickname of “Webfoot”. He jumped into a children’s wading pool to save his camera from getting wet when he was waving to Lilla and lost his balance! Over the next few days they attended Church, rode on an old train past fields of sugar cane and pineapple, saw coconut trees and coffee plantations, and visited an old whaling capital known for its black coral. They saw many beautiful sites.
One of their favorite places was the fern laced grotto where the Hawaiian Wedding Song was sung from nearby hilltops. The voices came from far away but were clear and easy to understand down in the grotto. They finished visiting the four beautiful islands and ended up on the 15th floor of the Hilton Rainbow Hotel in Honolulu.
After spending a sobering visit to Pearl Harbor, they met the Honolulu Stake President who took them around the island to the Hawaiian Temple where they went to two sessions and spent until almost midnight sightseeing special places on the Island. (Pres. Moody was called as Temple President after it was remodeled in 1978).
Saturday they went with the rest of the tour group to the Polynesian Cultral Center. They were impressed with the history of the six nations represented in song and dance by students at BYU Hawaii. While there they met three couples from Idaho. This visit at the Cultural Center was the highlight of their trip.
The last Sunday in Hawaii, they were able to enjoy Church with the Polynesians at the Honolulu Chapel. They loved the sweet humble spirit felt there and the loving Alohas. They flew back to Los Angeles, spent a few more days at Dale’s then flew home to ice and snow.
All the children and grandchildren met at Island Park for fun waterskiing and fishing before the Murdock reunion in 1971 which honored Lilla. They returned to Shelley and practiced the program Carol had organized. The families sang songs, acted out and showed slides of Lilla’s life.
Each person had a part as they depicted Lilla’s birth, school days, herding cows when the first train came to Rockford, attending High School in a horse and buggy, years at Ricks, the old car breaking down on Alfred and Lilla’s first date to the Tetons, their courtship and temple marriage, the family growing years and hiking through the Tetons, making a house into a home filled with love, teaching school and graduating from college, their love for America and their trip to Hawaii.
The program concluded with the song, “It’s Always Fun When Grandpa & Grandma Come”. It was truly a loving family honoring their mother and father, grandmother and grandfather. Lilla cried and Alfred said it was the best performance he’d ever seen!
(The names of all the grandchildren were recorded at the reunion; six grandchildren were born after that: Daniel Rogers to Marva and William, Aaron Romrell to Owen and Vella, Robert Ferney to Carol and Bill and Chris, Jim and Evan to Dale and Bonnie. Then the great grandchildren started coming!)
After enjoying Christmas at Delwins, Alfred had his hip joint replaced on February 15, 1972. He was amazed with how much better it felt. Three days after surgery, he walked across the room without crutches or help. He appreciated all the fasting and prayers in his behalf as he healed quickly.
They made another trip to Delwins and one to Canada with Lilla’s cousin where they visited many relatives in Alberta and attended the Cardston Temple. They returned for Patti’s wedding November 4, 1972 to Roy Orcutt.
They enjoyed camping with Owen andVella’s family at Meadow Lake in the Little Lost River Mountains and took several trips to Yellowstone Park and Island Park where they parked their trailer in the summer. (Those memories of visiting Grandma and Grandpa and enjoying the out of doors with them are shared by most of the grandchildren!)
Soon grandchildren started leaving on missions and Alfred and Lilla were pleased that they wanted to serve. They were impressed when Marva and William’s children surprised their parents with a lovely 25th Anniversary Celebration. Later Alfred and Lilla joined Marva and William for a trip to Loveland, Colorado to visit Dale and Bonnie before they moved to Oregon.
On June 5, 1976 the Teton Dam burst and destroyed everything in its path. A wall of water 40-50 feet high boiled down the canyon wiping out their old farm and most of Wilford. Most people escaped from their homes taking nothing with them and losing everything. Houses, barns, trees, machinery and livestock were swept down the valley leaving rocks, sand and large boulders covering the land. The flood even changed the course of the river and was felt all the way down to Firth.
After attending the funeral of their neighbors, the Daw’s, they searched for landmarks to show where their farm had been, Alfred marveled that more lives hadn’t been lost since thousands of homes were damaged and hundreds were totally gone. Machinery was hanging from the branches of trees and was strewn across the barren countryside.
In 1977 the children and grandchildren planned a wonderful 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration for Alfred and Lilla. It started with a morning trip to the Idaho Falls Temple with all the children and ended with an evening celebration and program where hundreds of family and friends greeted them. The family had made a quilt made up of embroidered or painted squares depicting treasured moments shared with them and honored them in music and a display of photos from their lives. The grandchildren showered them with rice as they escorted them back to their home which had been decorated with signs of love and well wishes. Lilla said they felt like royalty!
In 1978 Lilla had both cataracts removed and though she still had to wear thick glasses, she was grateful for improved vision. Since retiring from school, Alfred and Lilla had been working on their life history, compiling facts, photos and pictures. The family helped type it and it was published in __________. It is a wonderful detailed account of their lives. (This short history was compiled from it).
Alfred was delighted when the Dead Sea Scrolls were translated and enjoyed reading, gardening and socializing with family and friends. Lilla continued to enjoy reading, picking her raspberries and caring for the flowers around the front yard.
Though they slowed down, they continued making visits to their children’s homes. Some of the grandchildren lived in their basement and helped them with the home, garden and transportation. Alfred suffered a stroke in 1981 and reluctantly gave up driving. He was diagnosed with hypertension and mild kidney failure in 1985.
Both of them died at age 87. Alfred passed away July 27, 1986 while still living in their home in Shelley. Lilla stayed in her home another two years and spent the winters with Delwin and Dale’s families in warmer climates.
In the summer of 1988 the children met together and packed up the house and all its furnishings and Lilla moved to Logan where she lived with Carol and Bill. She suffered from atrial fibrillation for several years and health needs finally required her to move to Sunshine Terrace in Logan. She died there June 30, 1990. Both Alfred and Lilla are buried in the Thomas Cemetery in Riverside, Idaho, near Lilla’s parents.
(Death certificates state that cause of death for Alfred was heart disease, congestive heart failure and ventricle arrhythmia. Lilla’s certificate gives causes of death as congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation and a cerebrovascular accident (a stroke) the week before she died.)