Martin Nathaniel Marble
Contributor: Ted L Jensen Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
Martin Nathaniel Marble
Excerpt from: Marble, Max B. 1991. The Marble Family History.
Most of his contemporaries called him "Tan," Although he was called Nathaniel as a boy, this was later shortened to "Than," and when the great influx of immigrants from Denmark arrived in southern Utah, suddenly many people couldn’t pronounce that name properly. Danes pronounced the "th" combination of consonants as English-speaking persons would pronounce a "t." A large number of Danes called him "Tan," and all of his acquaintances adopted it as a nickname.
He would surely qualify as an "unforgettable character," once the title of a regular feature of the "Reader’s Digest" magazine. He had an assertive personality, a razor-sharp wit, a passion for hard work, honesty, and truth. It seemed that everyone knew him as a "man of his word"--someone who could be trusted to faithfully keep a promise.
He had the worst temper and the quickest rejoinder of anyone I ever knew. Once he was angered, he did not cool off promptly. He always wore a brown felt hat out-of-doors, and elastic arm bands on his biceps to hold the lower part of his sleeves in place. The hat had a broad grosgrain brown band with a two-inch brim. He dented the crown for-and-aft, tipped the front part of the brim over his eyes, and the back part of it turned up at sort of a rakish angle that betrayed, to some degree, his truly spirited personality. This headgear was usually battered, but he sometimes acquired a new one during a visit to Salt Lake City, while he was staying with Uncle Frank.
Upon his return from the city his grey beard was nicely trimmed to a distinguished "Van Dyke," but he allowed it to grow out during the time he spent in the country. It is only fair to say that he usually wore a full beard.
His non-descript black or brown trousers were secured by suspenders--he never wore a belt. In summer, he wore a vest over a long-sleeved blue chambray shirt, rolled down and buttoned at the wrists. The top button of the shirt kept the collar snugly closed in summer, winter, spring, and fall. His black, high-topped shoes were laced from ankle to toe and tied in a bow at the top. They were slightly scuffed, and of a soft enough leather to conform to the bone structure and furnish him with a modest degree of comfort.
He had been rather tall, compared to the young men of his own age, about six feet, but became slightly bent with age during all of the years I can remember him. His grey, pointed Van Dyke beard gave him a distinguished look, especially when he was dressed up in a new suit and tie, topped off with a hat of more recent vintage. His gait was lively and quick, as were all of his movements. Whenever he set out on foot, he put a respectable distance behind him in a relatively short time.
He was a man of wisdom and keen judgment. There was nothing about farming that he didn’t know, particularly before the onslaught of the automated machine age, when horseflesh, iron-rimmed, wooden- wheeled wagons, and a great deal of arduous hand labor were the latest methods in agriculture Even before the advent of modern machinery, good farming required keen judgment, vast knowledge, and a variety acquired skills.
I can remember seeing him take a small sample of yellow, bearded barley heads out of a ten-foot stack of sheaves, rub them around carefully in his hand for a few moments, study them intently--concentrating briefly, then slowly open his hand to allow the breeze to whisk away all of it away in a long stream of dust. With a twinkle in his eye, he then rendered a judgment of the net quantity of barley that would be produced--accurately, within one-quarter of a bushel. My father told me that Grandpa often estimated the “exact” net contents of a stack of grain.
Grandpa was lean, but tough and strong. He handled an axe with the skill and expertise of a brain surgeon plying his trade with a scalpel. He worked fast, accurately, and had incredible endurance. He went to work with a will, even up to the decade of his seventies. He could work harder and faster than men in their twenties and thirties.
His independence was manifest by his ability to live alone in his own house until he was nearly ninety years of age. He kept his garden meticulously weeded, showing only neat mounds of brown earth and lush green rows of carrots, peas, squash, beets, onions, corn, and radishes. The vegetables were of the finest quality, tantalizingly rich and fresh. He never attempted to preserve the food he raised in his garden, but gave it away freely to neighbors and passers-by.
Every day he would rise at dawn, tend his garden, and walk to our house about one and one-half blocks distant. Ruth noted that he would not only walk to our house at this early hour, but on to the river, or our hayfield, another couple of miles, then arrive at our place about five-thirty in the morning.
The clarion call from Grandpa each morning was: "Are ye goin’ t’ sleep all day?" My father was frequently too ill with asthma to rise at such an early hour, especially after he had struggled in agony all night just to get his breath. He could have easily used more sleep at' such times, but he would never try to explain that to Grandpa, and Dad never complained about it.
Uncle Eal (Ealum Sylvester Marble), Grandpa’s brother, usually arrived at our house with Grandpa, and the two of them would usually remain until after breakfast, although they did not regularly eat with us.
We children often read aloud novels, magazine stories, "dime westerns," and other material of mutual interest, to Grandpa and Uncle Eal in the evenings. The practice undoubtedly had a great influence upon our highly developed love of the printed word, and the use of our eyes in the dim glow of the kerosene lamp did not seem to have any deleterious effect whatever. He never learned to read for himself; although I have seen him sign his name.
Stories of western romance and adventure were among his favorites, such as those appearing in a type of magazine that disappeared long ago. The "dime western," mentioned already, was printed on inexpensive pulp paper and sold for ten cents per copy, but its popularity kept it prominently placed on newsstands in drug stores for many years.
The lighting used for our reading was a single kerosene lamp with a tall glass chimney, called a "hurricane" lamp. A wide fabric wick rested in a reservoir of oil at the base and protruded up through the center and through a slotted metal hemisphere at the bottom of the glass chimney. A control on the side determined how much of the wick extended into the flame, and regulated the amount of light shed by the device. Too much flame produced too much smoke, which caused soot to collect on everything in the room at a much faster rate than was desirable. The soft, yellow flame radiated sufficient illumination for reading at close range. It also seemed to cast a warm, friendly glow that contributed to the cozy feeling. The atmosphere was slightly tinged with the smoke from the lamp, and intermingled with aromas from the wood-burning stove, all of which have etched a pleasant, comfortable scene forever in my memory.
The house had been wired for electricity at one time, but my grandfather never used the electric current for anything that I can remember. The wires led from the utility poles in the street to a disconnected meter at the side of the house, but there was never any electric service during the time of which I am aware. My brother, Harvey, told me that Grandpa just didn’t "like" electricity.
Uncle Eal was always present during these reading sessions, in fact, he and my grandfather had been constant companions throughout their entire lives, with the exception of one year that Uncle Eal spent in Holbrook, Idaho. Although they once tried living together in the same house, each one was so keen on his own independence that they could not make a success of it. They were never far from one another--their homes were less than one block apart. We all enjoyed the reading activity immensely-the children as well as the adults.
During a winter, that Grandpa was in Salt Lake with Uncle Frank, Uncle Eal’s daughter, Dora, made a supply of pies for him. I often read stories for him, and anticipated a generous slice of spicy squash pie during the evening.
The house where Grandpa lived was small, about twelve by fifteen feet (not including the lean-to), with a semi-smooth exterior. It may have been painted brick-red at one time, but was then nearly bereft of color in spots, and showed up as a sort of admixture of red and white.
There was an unpainted lean-to behind this, which covered a bedroom and an adjacent kitchen. The whole structure formed an "L" shape. Inside the main part of the house was the living room, which also doubled as a bedroom during the cold months. It had a wainscoting of smoothly-planed pine painted chocolate brown, and came up to a height of about five feet off the floor ending in a narrow ledge three inches wide.
Above this wainscoting the wall was decorated with a faded wallpaper, traces of its rose pattern still visible, long since smudged by the smoke of many nights with the kerosene lamps and wood fires. The walls were further decorated by calendars of commercial establishments; the advertising enhanced by the pink, curvaceous forms of comely young maidens in brief attire. These wall decorations appeared after Grandpa lived alone in the house.
Grandpa and the Beets
My grandfather Marble must have been the hardest worker I ever saw in my life. The only one I could even nominate as his equal would be my father. Grandpa could swing an axe from daylight until dark, with no more than a thirty-minute lunch break at noon. After six or seven hours of back-breaking toil, he often came into the house for lunch, ate the heavy meal that was prepared for him, lay flat on his back on the bare wooden floor afterwards, falling into a deep sleep for ten minutes--ten minutes only, then strode away once more into the field and swung away with a will for another six or seven hours. He didn’t just "tolerate" hard labor, or perform it because it had to be done. He loved his work, hard manual work, and he ran to meet it with the ardor and passion of a young lover. He could work harder and faster than most young men in their twenties, even after he reached seventy.
After the brisk chill of autumn was in the air, and the red, golden, and yellow leaves had fallen from the trees, the time was ripe for the harvesting of sugar beets. This was difficult work, requiring not only a sturdy back and an arm of iron, but a sharp knife with a twelve-inch blade and a three-inch, curved hook on the end of it. Sugar beets were grown in rows about fourteen inches apart. They grew to sizes of four to six inches in diameter, and weighed as much as eight or ten pounds each.
Every beet had to be lifted up by hand and topped with a knife, then placed in rows convenient for wagons to pass between for loading by hand on either side. A worker struck out with his beet knife, sinking the sharply pointed hook firmly three inches into the upper part of the fleshy root, lifted it up high enough to rest it on his knee, held it there with his other hand while pulling the hook free and decapitating the crown and leaves with a sharp, swinging stroke. Accuracy was essential in order to prevent serious injury to the lower leg by perforation with that menacing curved hook, or by slicing the fingers with the razor-sharp blade. A fast worker produced a rhythmic sound of double raps: Chunk- Thwack! Chunk-Thwack! Chunk-Thwack! A steady, rhythmic sound of long duration was sure to indicate a proficient beet-topper!
Grandpa was a wizard with that instrument, and widely renowned as an indefatigable laborer. It occurred that he was working in the field with a much younger man, Guy Porter. At the beginning of the day, Guy remarked that no old man could beat him, and that he would retire from farm work altogether if such an ancient one as my grandfather could demonstrate greater ability.
They began working at the heads of their rows at the same time (I conjecture the starting line of runners at the Olympic Games), and with the same degree of progress, but Grandfather advanced relentlessly with a more accelerated rate, and steadily widened the distance between them. At the end of every row, he was farther ahead of him than he was at the one before. Long in advance of the time scheduled for the midday meal, Guy proved true to his word. He slammed his beet knife to the ground angrily, stood up to straighten his tortured back, and announced to the others in a loud voice that he would never work on a farm again. I understand that he worked as an insurance agent in California for the rest of his active career.
Grandpa made a great fuss over his granddaughters, especially Opal and Emily. Opal observed that she had to step aside for Emily when she came along. Perhaps the older girls were treated in this same manner, but this was not apparent to me.
Opal liked to sit on his lap and curl his beard, or try to curl his hair, what little there was of it. She pinched up the loose skin on the back of his gnarled hand, where it had lost most of its elasticity, because it fascinated her that it did not snap back to its original conformity as it would have with a younger person. His skin was weathered and leathery, so her treatment didn’t hurt him at all. He was extremely patient with her, but it would be a misrepresentation to characterize him as altogether patient. When Emily came along and became Grandpa’s little princess, Opal had achieved enough maturity to understand.
Ed Larsen was courting Opal in the 1940’s. He drove a little 1934 Ford that he had cut down and came to call for Opal in it. Grandpa sat out on the railed porch of our house on Monroe Boulevard in Ogden, and carried on conversations with Ed when the little car came chugging into the driveway under the big cottonwood tree.
"Well, Ed," he’d say, "it’s too bad you ain’t got no rumble seat. I could go get the widow and we’d double date." This was typical for Grandpa. He had a tremendous sense of humor.
Lifesketch of Martin Nathanial Marble
Contributor: Ted L Jensen Created: 3 years ago Updated: 3 years ago
Martin Nathanial Marble was born 31 January, 1857 at Manti, Sanpete, Utah. He was the second child in a family of ten children which were 7 boys and 3 girls.
When Nathanial was only 6 months old his father answered the call to go with the Militia to Salt Lake to keep the Johnston's Army from invading Salt Lake City. this was from late July till in December.
Nathanial remembered the big Fort there and a big drum that they sounded if anyone saw an Indian. It could be heard for a good mile, and people would hurry to the Fort when they heard it. As a child Nathanial lived in fear of the Indians.
In the spring of 1867, because of the Indian uprisings President Brigham Young deemed it necessary to abandon the city and go north for better safety. It was at this time that the family moved up to Salem in Utah County. Here the family lived until the spring of 1874 when the family moved to Central which is located 3 miles south of Richfield. Their first home there was a shack or dugout, til they could provide better.
In 1876 the two settlements of Inverury, later call Central and Annbella were combined into one ward. In 1877 a small crude log house was built which served as an all purpose building. It was used for church, school and all community purposes.
The early residents had a hard time finding good water for culinary purposes and tried digging wells No doubt Nathanial being 17 years old helped with a lot of these projects.
Nathanial met Eunice Sibley Kelley and courted her. They were married on February 28, 1882. Nathanial was 25 years old and his bride was 19. They also made their home in Central.
Nathanial made a living farming. He had a great love for the soil and seeing things grow.
Natanial was a drummer in on of the first bands in Utah. They played at 4th and 24th of July celebrations and things like that. One time they played at Fish Lake.
Nathanial was sick one time for 5 years or more. It was called "stomach trouble." He was right down in bed for 3 years and when he got well it took a year to get his strength back. It's said he only weighed 90 pounds at that time.
Nathanial was about 5 feet 9 inches tall. He had a stocky build and always grew a beard that hung down to his chest. He had the prettiest china blue eyes. He was the father of 8 children.
In 1911 his brother Ealum's wife died (Alice Kelly) and in 1913 Nathanial's wife, Eunice, dies. She was only 50 years old. Nathanial remarried, but things didn't work out so Nathanial and Ealum were close champions through life. Nathanial lives 37 years after his wife died.
With the children being married and after being sick himself and then losing his sweetheart, his zest for life seemed to drag. He lived in a little cabin out behind his daughter Hattie and John's place under some plum trees for a time. He slept in the cabin but ate his meals with Hattie's family. He always encouraged the grandchildren with their studies and was a good listener. Later he moved across the street and a little to the North and lived with his brother Ealum. Nathanial and Ealum would go over to John and Hattie's and he played a Jew's harp and they'd sing and have baked squash. A granddaughter, Rosella remembered he liked molasses on his cereal. They had an old hand-crank phonograph and Nathanial and Ealum loved to hear the records and get everyone to sing along.
Nathanial helped his son-in-law John haul hay and top beets or whatever needed to be done. He would usually go see the grandkids take part in plays or when they had to give talks. Later he moved about a block north of John and Hattie's and was on the west side of the the street. His granddaughter, Thelma recalls how she and Ethel would run to meet him and he always seemed to favor Ethel and would pick her up and carry her and hold Thelma's hand. Ealum noticed this and tried to favor Thelma. Perhaps Nathanial felt closer to Ethel as she had had Saint Vidas Dance and some of his own children had died of it.
From looking at the interior of his old home years later, I would say he loved the color of blue for the many layers of wall paper peeling off were all a pretty blue color.
Some of his grandchildren remember gifts he gave them. If he went to Salt Lake City, when he came home, there was always a treat for them. He had a great love for children and they loved him. Rosella, a granddaughter, remembers the pretty beads he bought her one time and another time some china dishes. Even today, I Connie Annetta Sorensen Rausch, a great-grand-daughter, still have a little doll he gave me.
He always wanted the children to sing songs and say a poem or read to him. A quality most lacking in homes today. When the children would sing, Grandpa Nathanial and Uncle Ealum would take their turns along with them and oh, how they all loved it. He was always a good sport. One time his grandson had a pocket knife he wanted. Martin said he had just skinned a rat with it and if he'd lick the blade off he could have it. You can be sure Grandpa got the knife.
He was a good fast worker in the beets, he was racing with his grandson until he was quite old. His life was one of activity and even when past 70 he still raised a fine garden. I remember the beautiful big squash and i don't believe I've ever seen any finer anywhere.
After he was 80 when he was at his son Frank's he decided to go for a walk. Frank decided to go with him. It was at least a 10 mile hike. When they were almost home again, about a block away, he said to Frank, "I can outrun you home yet."
If anyone needed something he had had he was only too glad to help out. Even the young boys that needed a dollar so they could take a girl to a dance found a willing friend in Nathanial and were good to pay him back. Nathanial was a farmer all his life. He never became rich but was a friend to all who knew him.
Material for this story was gathered from his children and grandchildren and compiled by a great-granddaughter, Connie Annetta Sorensen Rausch