Life history of Mary Elizabeth Phillips Call
Contributor: BarbaraLeishman Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
On a summer day in July -- July 8, 1876, to be exact -- Mary Elizabeth Phillips was born in Clifton, Idaho, to Thomas Joseph Phillips and Sarah Boden Phillips. Mary Elizabeth was the 4th child in a family of 10 children. The family are as follows:
Thomas Joseph Phillips -- born 15 October 1871
Sarah Lottie Phillips -- born 25 November 1872
Hannah Annorah Phillips -- born 15 January 1875
Mary Elizabeth Phillips -- born 8 July 1876
William Boden Phillips -- born 9 April 1878
Ellen Jane Phillips -- born 5 November 1879
Martha May Phillips -- born 17 September 1881
James Phillips -- born 25 November 1882
Emily Phillips -- born 14 April 1884
Vernon Moroni Phillips -- born 9 February 1886
We don't know a lot about Mary Elizabeth's childhood. We do know that some time between her birth, and the birth of her brother William in 1878, the family moved to Dayton, Idaho, where she grew up and lived the rest of her life. There was also tragedy in her young life. Soon after her youngest brother Vernon was born, her father died. He died on December 1, 1886. That left her mother a widow until her death on December 5, 1926. Mary Elizabeth never strayed far from her mother and some of her brothers and sisters. Even after Elizabeth's marriage, her mother lived just down the street from her and they saw each other pretty much every day. She also had sisters living on the same block.
We don't know exactly when Mary Elizabeth and James Henry Call meant, but we do know that James came down to the Dayton area from Soda Springs, Idaho, to find work on the farms. Elizabeth's younger brother, James Phillips, was also working on neighboring farms and he got to know Jim Call. He thought that Jim was such a nice fellow that he introduced him to Elizabeth. At the time of their marriage, Jim was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that was upsetting to Mother Phillips. But her brother James (that introduced them), said that Elizabeth couldn't find a better man than James Call. They were therefore married on December 16, 1903, in Dayton, Idaho. James was 25 years old and Elizabeth was 27. They were always referred to as Jim and Lizzie, and it was done with much love and affection.
James was later baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 24, 1923, the same day that twins Glenn and Gwen were baptized. James and Elizabeth were sealed for Time and All Eternity in the Logan Temple on March 9, 1933. From this loving union came 7 sons and 2 daughters.
Clyde James Call - born 11 February 1905
Clarence Phillips Call - born 18 December 1906
Lester Thomas Call - born 23 August 1908
Reta Call - born 4 August 1910
Sylvan Verl Call - born 17 February 1913
Glenn P. Call - born 20 March 1915
Gwen Call - born 20 March 1915
Max Phillips Call - born 15 December 1916
Fred Phillips Call - born 1 January 1919
Lizzie's mother, Sarah Boden Phillips, was a midwife and she helped deliver Clyde, Clarence and Lester. A doctor delivered Reta, Sylvan, Glenn and Gwen (twins), Max and Fred. All the children were born at their home except for Clyde who was born at Grandma Phillips home. Reta remembers the night Fred was born. It was New Years Eve and Jim was having to help with the plumbing at the school house was they were having problems. Lizzie fixed dinner for them all (her family and the plumbers family). She didn't feel good but she didn't say anything about expecting a baby. In those days they didn't tell their children when they were expecting. During the night Fred was born. After the birth of each of her children Elizabeth had to stay down in bed for 10 days. It was hard with a growing family, but Jim would cook the meals and Grandma Phillips and Lizzie's sisters would help.
Elizabeth never had much as far as the size of her home was concerned. Their home was a three room house. The boys slept in the North bedroom (the only bedroom), Reta and Gwen slept on a cot in the living room and Jim and Lizzie slept on a bed there too. Even at meal times everyone had their assigned seats at the table. Fred sat between his mother and dad, the rest of the boys sat down one side of the table on a bench, Gwen sat next to her mother and Reta next to Gwen.
The washing was done in tubs with a scrub board. It was nothing to have 35 work shirts a week (between Jim and 7 boys) plus Sunday clothes. In time Jim put a motor on the washer and they washed outside by the water hydrant attached to the house. Finally Lizzie got an electric washer. All this washing, cooking and everything was done with Lizzie only having cold water in her home -- she never had hot water. All the water was heated on the stove and in the water jacket on the stove. They had to make their own soap to use for the washing of their clothes and for all washing purposes. It was made out of lye, lord and Borox powder. It had to be made outside and therefore it was made every summer. After the clothes were washed they needed to be hung up to dry. From the house out to the old toilet they had 5 or 6 lines strung to hang the wash on each week. Also they would hang the wash on the fence from the house out to the old toilet as there was always a lot of washing, (bedding and clothes) for that many people. Once the washing was washed and dried, then came the ironing which Lizzie and her daughters would do with old irons heated on the coal stove. The Sunday shirts would have the collars and down the front starched. Lizzie always washed on Monday, ironed on Tuesday and then they were able to go visiting or have company.
For many years the bathroom was an old outhouse out back. Then in the early 50's Jim put in a flush toilet but they never did get a bath tub.
The children had cats and dogs as pets. Elizabeth would feed them but would not let them in the house. She was good to the animals and she often stirred up some flour, also bread for the dogs.
Elizabeth wasn't much for yard work and so Jim took care of the outside while she took care of the inside. A granddaughter Karon Kirkbride, remembers the flowers in their yard. There were Hollyhocks up the back of the house that they used to make dolls out of. The front yard had red Poppies and yellow Rose bushes.
Lizzie's worldly possessions were very humble but she had a heart of gold. It seemed that Lizzie and Jim's home was everyone's stopping place. For awhile Nellie lived on one side and Mattie on the other. Their homes were bigger but when anyone come, they were taken to Lizzie and Jim's where the table was always loaded with food and always a fable full of people. Their earthly wealth was in having family and friends around them. Lizzie had so much "love" for others and she could make you feel of that love rather you were a grandchild or a daughter-in-law. Granddaughter's Marilyn and Vivian Call remember always getting a love, something to eat and hugs and kisses. Daughter-in-law Ruth Call, said that she was always loving and kind to her. She always gave her a love when she came and when she went home. Ruth wasn't used to that and she appreciated the love she felt from her mother-in-law.
Elizabeth never seemed to complain or nag because she didn't have a new dress or a big house. Neither did Reta ever hear cross words between Jim and Lizzie. It seemed that they felt their greatest accomplishment was to raise a large and wonderful family on such a small income. Jim was a man of all trades--carpenter, put in cement sidewalks, hauled milk, worked at school as a janitor, had a candy, ice cream and soda water stand out front (until his children ate all the profits). He also had an ice house that people could come and buy ice to keep their food cold. Their greatest worldly treasure was their family. They were always home when the children got home and always stayed awake until they got home. If they stayed out front too long the lights would come on and they knew it was time to come in.
Elizabeth's love and kindness extended to more than just her family. She would always feed the hobo's that came into town. They used to mark the gate posts and then they would know where to stop to get food. She always fed them outside though and never let them come into the house.
Jim and Lizzie used to go visiting a lot and was friendly with other young couples in the ward. As a family they would go up to a "Schvaneveldt" family that lived up Weston Creek and sometimes stay the night. They would play games and the kids would play around, then they would stay the night.
Evenings when company would come, they would go into the cellar outside and get a dish pan full of apples, pop a dish pan full of popcorn and eat popcorn and apples.
Whenever anyone talked about Elizabeth, they always mentioned what a great cook she was. It didn't seem to matter rather she was fixing fried potatoes or a big Thanksgiving dinner, it was always delicious. Not only was it delicious but she cooked everything on a coal stove. Even though she had a large family and not a lot of money, she always fixed great meals and used the best ingredients. She truly loved the art of cooking. Granddaughters Vivian and Marilyn Call remembered her lemon tarts. They said that they usually always went to see Grandpa and Grandma on Sundays and that Grandma would always have tarts made and put up in an old closet (or food pantry). Grandma would have one of her Grandchildren sit on her lap and she would whisper in their ear, "There are some tarts on the shelf, go get them and bring everyone a tart". No one knew how she chose the one to bring the tarts but you always felt so special to be the one to bring them. Another Granddaughter, Karon Kirkbride, also remembers her tarts. She said that one Thanksgiving she, Pauline, Janet and Ronnie were in the back room sitting at a small table sneaking some tarts to eat before dinner. Grandma caught them and was fussing at them and told them they were going to grow upside down because they were eating their dessert first.
A daughter-in-law Atha, was always impressed by her big Sunday dinners. She would always have a big variety of food so there was something for everyone to like. If she had a roast, she would also have chicken. If she had soup, she also had chili. If she had cake, she also had pie. You could also bet that there would always be a big crowd to eat. Seems like people would just drop in around dinner time.
Her daughter Gwen, also remembers her cooking and meals. She says,"When we were growing up we would all go to Church on Sundays, then we would bring friends home. They loved it at our house. Mother would fix a big dinner for everyone no matter how many there were, there was food for everyone. No one left the table hungry. The folks never had much but mother could always fix something nice to eat. Then I remember mother always kept a large can of red salmon in the house for company. They never had a place to keep fresh meat so she would open a can of salmon and fix a big meal. She'd add home canned vegetables and home made bread. She always made around 12 to 15 loaves of bread at once".
Daughter Reta, remembers baking 13 loaves of bread at a time, often every day. Reta said it was nothing for Glen to bring 6 boys home with him on Sunday evening and mother would feed them before Sacrament meeting. One of Lizzie's specialties was Chocolate Cake. She never measured when cooking. She's just put ingredients together, even when making pie crusts. She made her pie crusts out of lord, flour and water. She made fruit cakes and also a Suet pudding (especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas) that was really good. It was like a Carrot Pudding. They also had homemade ice cream often.
They often canned 25 bushels of peaches, and in those days there were flies that would gather on the screen door. You'd have to can on the coal stove and boil in a boiler. It would take days.
Lizzie in her later years often cooked for groups of men that came in to work in the fields. They were supposed to pay her so much for each meal, but sometimes they would skip out without paying her.
Although Lizzie loved to cook she also loved to do handiwork - crochet, embroidery, quilting, braided rugs and sewing. There were many family members and friends that enjoyed her handiwork. She spent time teaching her daughters to sew, crochet, cook, embroidery and quilt. She would work side by side with them. Another thing that Jim and Lizzie loved, was to listen to the radio. They never missed Art Linkletter.
Holidays and traditions were a big part of Jim and Lizzie's life. Birthday's were a special time and with Lizzie's love of cooking, she always made a birthday cake. She had her own tradition with the cake as she would put money and a button in the cake. If you got the money, you would marry someone rich, if you got the button, you would be an old maid or a bachelor.
On Easter she always made biscuits and she would put cotton in one of the biscuits. Jim always seemed to get the biscuit with the cotton, and it always tickled Lizzie for him to get it.
Christmas was also a very special time for the Call family. Reta remembered one Christmas when the boys got up and came into the living room to see what they had gotten in their stockings. They told Reta that she had gotten a doll, when all of a sudden they noticed Santa in the rocking chair. Jim had taken and stuffed a Santa and had put boots on him and had him sitting in the rocking chair. Later in the day, after Grandma Phillips had come for dinner, they took Santa for a ride in the sleigh around Dayton.
The 4th of July was a time of celebration for the little town of Dayton. On the 4th of July Jim always set up a stand and sold popcorn, drinks and stuff. When he would go down to pay the bill at W.F. Jensen's in Logan, Utah, he'd have to dig money out of his pocket to pay for it. All this after the family had worked all day long on the 4th to make money. He was so big hearted that if a little child came along and wanted something and didn't have money to pay for it, he would give them a drink, popcorn or anything they wanted.
Another special time was dinners at Grandma Phillips. At her parties her grown children would eat first, the adult married grandchildren would eat next, leaving the little children to eat last. Some of the little children would use their parents dirty plates (without washing them) to eat on. But Lizzie would always wash the dishes and make sure her children had clean dishes to eat with.
Elizabeth had a poem that she used to say to her children and grandchildren.
I had a little pony his name was Dapple Gray.
I let him to a lady to ride a mile away,
She whipped him and she lashed him,
And she rode him through the mire,
I wouldn't lend my pony again
For all the ladies hire.
Each winter Jim would take the sleigh into the canyon to get a load of wood. He would wrap their legs in gunny sacks to keep them warm as they didn't have boots to wear. He usually took the boys Clyde, Clarence and Lester with him. He had so much patience. Now people would say, "I don't have time, stay home with your mother."
When Jim was hauling milk he would take cream to Franklin, Idaho. It was an all-day trip with the horses and wagon. He would often take Clyde, Clarence, Lester and Reta (or some of the other children - usually 4 or 5 at a time) with him. It helped Lizzie as then she didn't have quite so many children at home to take care of. He would also stop in town and shop for the neighbors. He would pick up material, thread, groceries or whatever they needed.
Jim and Lizzie never traveled far from home. About the only places they went was to Salt Lake, Pocatello, Lava, Soda Springs and Hamilton, Montana. Mostly to see family. Reta remembers one trip to Soda Springs, Idaho, where Jim's parents and family still lived. This trip was to go to the funeral of Jim's younger brother Fred, who was killed in World War I. They had quite an experience. They took their car that had a top and bottom with wheels but no windows and 2 seats. They loaded all the family from Clyde down to the youngest in the car. They had so many flat tires that they finished their trip on the rims. Reta remembers that one time when they stopped to change a tire it was in front of a home. Some kids came out and was staring at them and Clyde and Clarence started calling to the kids, "Gawpsie, gawpsie sitting on a fence. Trying to make a nickel out of 10 cents." They arrived in Soda Springs around midnight and found Jim's family standing on the front porch waiting for them. Everyone was really worried about them. When they were ready to go home, Jim Atkinson came and got them as he had a bigger, better and faster car. They went home so fast it nearly scared them to death.
Elizabeth was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She taught Primary and also after her daughter Reta was married, they became Visiting Teacher partners and remained Visiting Teaching partners for a long time.
Elizabeth had really dark brown eyes and her hair was also dark brown. She had only a little gray on both sides. She was about 5 feet 3 inches tall. Her favorite color was "orchid" and Jim always tried to get orchid colored flowers as that was her favorite. Lizzie's education only went through the 8th grade. Her most distinguishing mark was a protruding mole on her neck. Her grandchildren loved to sit on her lap and play with that mole as it would twist around in their fingers. Elizabeth wouldn't let the doctor take it off because her mother had one just like it. Elizabeth's granddaughter, Karon Kirkbride, also has a mole on her neck. Karon says that, "Grandma willed it to me and so I will not have it removed as it reminds me of Grandma."
Elizabeth's advice to her girls - Reta and Gwen - was to always act like ladies. To the boys - Clyde, Clarence, Sylvan, Lester, Glenn, Max and Fred - to always treat their girl friends like they would want their sisters treated.
Jim was always so kind to his Lizzie. He always helped her into the car, never leaving her to open the door and get in by herself. In all the years of their marriage, that never changed. Karon said, "Grandpa and Grandma never fought. The closest they came to it was when Grandma would fuzz at Grandpa over something, and Grandpa would say, 'Oh Lizzie!!!'
Some other memories that Karon had of her Grandmother, "Grandma tended me for a year while my mother worked. I would spend my days with Grandma and sit on her foot stool by her rocker while she wound up her balls of yarn or rags. Or I would curl up on her lap and look at her watch that she wore like a brooch upon her dress." Karon remembers when she did start school, she'd run over to her Grandmothers house as soon as school was out. By that time she was in the bed in the back bedroom. Karon would get up into bed with her and curl up on the bed and tell her all that she had done that day. Karon remembers sleeping over with them and Grandma would have a rock or hot iron at her feet keeping them warm.
Barbara Kirkbride, a granddaughter, thinks she had the best childhood. She lived just a couple houses South of her grandparents, and so she had both her home and her grandparents home to grow up in. She never remembers Grandpa ever getting upset with the children. She remembers always going over to Grandpa and Grandma's to listen to the radio. Barbara's birthday was in December and so her mother Reta, always got her to celebrate in the summer. One year she came home with about 8 little girls and said she'd invited them for her birthday party. Her mother said they couldn't have a party as she didn't have anything fixed for them. Grandma Call was there and said, "Oh yes we can. We can stir up a cake and make cupcakes and punch". Barbara had her birthday party!!
Tragedy struck the Call family on the night of December 9, 1931, when Lizzie and Jim's eighth child, Max, died. Max seemed to be a healthy child, at least no one knew he had a problem, until he went on a scout trip. On the scout trip they had to run and walk (Reta thinks it was about a 5 mile hike). By the time he got home he could hardly move. He was out at the corral and could not even walk into the house, so his father had to carry him into the house. They took him to the doctor and he was in bed for the rest of his life. He never walked on his own again after the scout trip nor was he again able to go back to school.
Max was so kind and quiet and yet he loved to visit with others. He never complained and he would keep himself entertained by playing with a little car or anything he could find to do while quietly staying in bed. Reta and Earl would take him for rides in the car until he got too sick, and then they were unable to. Max was as white and pale as the sheets on the bed. When he was laying in bed you could see his chest rise and fall with each beat of his heart and with each breath that he took. Finally his heart gave out, and he died during the night of December 9, 1931.
Elizabeth had a hard time coping with Max's death but in time she seemed to be able to handle it. Lizzie was a worrier though. Her son Clyde told her once that if she couldn't find a family member to worry over, she would go out into the street and look for someone out there to worry about. Everyone's problems were her problems.
When anyone in the Ward died, she would feel worse than the dead persons family members. Because of her nerves, Elizabeth spent about the last 6 years of her life bedridden. She took to the bed about the time her son Lester went into the Army and had a couple of bad setbacks when he was wounded. They put her bed in the parlor and she hardly ever left that bed.
Along with her nerves, she suffered with heart problems and high blood pressure. In January of 1951, she had a stroke. On the night she died, they could tell she was getting worse and so her sisters Emma and Mattie, came over and slept on the cots. Reta was also there and she slept with her mother in the bed. Elizabeth got up about 1:00 AM to use the chamber pot. Before they could put her back to bed she had to have all the buttons done up down the front of her garments. This even though she was so weak. They finally got her to lie down while they finished buttoning them. She died around 3:00 AM on August 1, 1951. She was at her home in Dayton, Idaho. She was buried on August 4, 1951, in the Dayton Idaho Cemetery.