A BRIEF HISTORY OF PETER EDMUND VAN ORDEN JR.
Contributor: Mptothill Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Written by his daughter, Martha V. Parks for Van Orden Reunion 1966 and 1974
Peter Edmund Van Orden, son of Peter Edmund Van Orden and Martha Ann Knight was born January 7, 1856, at Kaysville, Davis County, Utah, the third child and only son.
Father and his parents lived in Kaysville about seven years then moved to Provo, Utah, just before father's sister, Ellen was born in the year 1859. While there his father worked in a blacksmith shop for a brother-in-law, Edwin Peck. Not feeling able to provide for his family properly at this work, he left to prospect for gold; he stopped and panned gold at the Sweet Water River and later went on up into Montana; He said at one time he stopped at a stream in Montana to water his horse and also get himself a drink. While drinking from this stream, he saw small gold nuggets sparkling in the creek bed. He picked up four of these nuggets: one he gave to his brother Everett, one to Dr. John M. Bernhisel, one to his son Peter Edmund and one he kept for himself. He tried several times to find this place again but never succeeded.
While the family was living in Provo, father worked for a Dr. Riggs from the time he was ten years old until he was sixteen. Father told me that Dr. Riggs had no son of his own and took him as a protege to teach him a cure for cancer which had been given Dr. Riggs as a special blessing or revelation from the Lord to be kept in the family. Father told me of several instances where he helped in preparing or administering the medicine to some of the patients. Of course father could not be adopted by Dr. Riggs as he was his mother's only son then and as time went on, she relied on him a great deal for support.
My father's father was away prospecting for eight years and grandmother was left alone with a family of five children. There was no means of communication in those days and his wife gave him up for lost. When grandfather returned, he found his wife married to Martin M. Mills.
Grandfather returned with a quart-sized buckskin bag full of gold dust; with this he was able to send father and his sister Mary to the University of Deseret-- the beginning of our present B.Y.U. They stayed with an aunt, Mary Peck, first wife of Milton H. Peck, who lived just across the street from the university. Here they received what was considered an average education for those times. President Heber J. Grant who was ten months younger than father attended the university at the same time. Aunt Mary became a schoolteacher and taught school for two or three years at Richmond and Lewiston, Utah.
Father's mother and her husband, Mr. Mills, moved to southern Utah. His father in company with his brother Everett, John M. Bernhisel and a man by the name of Robert Wall traveled north and settled at what is now Lewiston, Utah. Grandfather was the first to settle and build a house in Lewiston; this was the summer of 1870.
In the fall of 1874 father went with his sister Mary and her husband Hyrum Bair to visit their mother now living at Washington in southern Utah. Seeing his mother needed his help and care, father stayed in Washington and worked in the cotton factory which had been started there by President Brigham Young. He had charge of the work in the finishing room and also assisted at the dryer when needed. I think it must have been here in the cotton factory that father met Laura Christina Bastian, a sweet young Danish girl about sixteen years old who also worked in the factory. They were married January 14, 1880 and had a family of eleven children, five boys and six girls.
Father also worked as an apprentice to Mr. Joe Judd, a carpenter and learned the carpenter trade and made his living this way for some time. He made most of the furniture for their home after he and mother were married.
About 1887 he was made superintendent of the Co-op store at Washington. He was able to put the store on a paying basis and was manager until he was called to fill a mission for the Church in eastern Kansas.
Father was always active in both Church and civic affairs. He served as Justice of the Peace, as a City Councilman and at one time was Mayor of the city. He was superintendent of schools and also a member of the Board of Directors of the Utah Field Canal. In the Church he was a ward teacher, Superintendent of the Sunday School, President of the Twenty-ninth Quorum of Seventy and Superintendent of the M.I.A. and a Home Missionary. Father was a man who discharged all duties with honor and was very zealous in all assignments. He had been superintendent of the Sunday School for seven years and was serving in this capacity when he was called on his mission. He left
Salt Lake City for the East Kansas Mission November 9, 1898, the day his ninth child, Gertrude, was one year old, leaving mother with a family of eight children to care for--their second child, a little girl named Clora had died five years before.
Father filled an honorable mission and was chosen to be conference president. He said missionary work was very difficult in Kansas as many people were still very bitter and remembered--perhaps even took part in persecuting the Saints in Missouri. While on this mission father had a very bad eye infection. His eyes swelled shut and then during this time he came down with smallpox—the worst kind called at that time black smallpox. He said he was so very ill and since his eyes were swollen shut with infection, he asked his companion to help him get one of his eyes open so he could see the sores that covered his body and were causing so much suffering. When he saw the sores, he said to his companion, "It's smallpox all right." This was considered one of the worst and most frightening diseases a person could possible have at that time and no one would give aid because they were so afraid of catching it. Father became so very ill he lost consciousness for a time, I do not know how long but he said his companion sat by his bedside all one night thinking he was dying or perhaps already dead knowing nothing to do [but] pray. In those days anyone dying from smallpox was not allowed a funeral or even a decent burial; his body would never be allowed to be shipped home. They would have to get two colored men to come in with a rough box, place the body and all contaminated clothing in it and rush off to some deserted place for burial. His companion said about daylight he saw father's eyelid quiver and he knew he was still alive and he thanked God. I do not know how long before father completely recovered but he told me that while he was unconscious his spirit left his body and never had he felt so peaceful and happy; his spirit was allowed to see his wife and children at home, they were all kneeling in a circle with arms stretched toward heaven, their heads lifted upward and with such a pleading expression on their faces he knew they needed him and that his mission on earth was not yet finished.
Father filled an honorable mission and returned to his family in the spring of 1901.
In June of 1904 he and his oldest son, Edmund, came to Idaho and purchased a farm of 160 acres. He was called home as his daughter, Melva, was seriously ill; she died November 1, 1904. Father moved his family to Idaho in March 1905, with the exception of his oldest daughter, Julia, who was married. Times were very hard for people pioneering new territory. But father wanted to raise his family where his sons would learn to work and by hard work could make a living; places were small in Dixie and grapes were grown and grape wine made available and a temptation to the young boys. I believe it was the first winter the family moved to Blackfoot where father and the boys worked in the sugar factory and mother cooked for several others working there.
Soon after coming to Idaho the three older boys, Ed, Will and Jake (I'm not sure about father) helped in building the American Falls and the People's Canal. Brother Ed and Jake were ditch riders on the American Falls Canal for several years.
In October 1906 father was made a member of the Stake High Council, a position he held until his death twenty years later. Father was very devoted to his church work and always put it first in his life. In the winter of 1907-08 he and Brother Griffith Williams, a brother of our beloved bishop and neighbor John R. Williams, filled a mission to the Lost River country. He filled another mission to the Springfield-Sterling area and one north of Rose at Woodville. I think part of these missions was seeking out inactive church members. When father had a church assignment he would sometimes walk as far as twenty miles to keep it. At that time the high council had two ward or home mission assignments to make each month. One of these appointments was to the Kimball Ward and as sacrament meeting was always at two o'clock in the afternoon father had to leave very early to make it on foot, then it would be dark when he arrived home, the roads were only dusty wagon roads at that time. When father mentioned these and similar trips he always said, "But your mother was always waiting up for me no matter the time." He used to sing a song which fit these occasions, There's a Light in the Window For Me. The boys used to think their father should ride a horse but one of the first winters in Idaho father was ill all winter with rheumatism and it hurt his hips and back to ride horseback. I was a very small child but I remember mother giving him steam baths by sitting him in a tub of hot water on an old fashioned rawhide-bottomed chair with a blanket tight around his neck. As the water cooled, mother had rocks heating on the stove and she would drop them in the water to create more steam; when spring came father was able to walk but with the use of a cane.
One of the things I remember was father's singing. He used to sing to my sister, Roetta, and I while holding us on his lap in the one and only rocking chair of our home; he rocked us to sleep after we were good-sized girls and always held us on his lap when we were ill, when very ill father administered to us and I can still remember the feeling of his hands upon my head. One of the songs I remember well was Work in God's Vineyard, Jesus Has Called Thee. He sang so many of the church hymns to us but he knew and sang many humorous songs too. I thought he really knew a lot of songs. One father especially liked was Say Not I Journey Alone. A year or so before he died while in Washington he found an old hymn book with this song in it and so father went to quite an expense to have I believe one hundred copies made. He gave one or more to each of his children and several copies to the genealogy committees of each ward in the Blackfoot Stake (now three Stakes). He and mother were serving in the Stake Genealogy Committee at that time.
When father wasn't singing, he was whistling, usually a church hymn. We lived close neighbors to our bishop whose pet name for father was Brother Van; I remember Bishop's wife, Aunt Marie (we always called her) used to say she always knew when father went to work in the field as they could hear him whistling. Several neighbors remarked about father's whistling and one asked mother if it didn't annoy her or get on her nerves. "No,” answered mother, "I'd much rather he whistle than cuss and swear."
As I was number ten in our family, I remember father only in his mature years. He seemed to me a very even-tempered and reserved man; some of my brothers said he mellowed with the years as seems to be quite natural. Father usually kept the Bible, Book of Mormon and several other church books in the windowsill of our large rock home. He was a student of the scriptures and when he sat down to rest it seemed to me he was always reading.
Father was very stern on things of honor and on the behavior of his children. I don't remember ever hearing him raise his voice in anger but when he corrected me his voice was as firm and strong as a whiplash. I often said I'd rather he'd strike me than to begin, "Martha, my girl - - -."
When the first Thomas church was being built, father was the carpenter in charge; he always built things to last and stand forever. When he built our rock home he said he built it to stand throughout the millennium. Father's carpenter work also included making coffins for the dead. I used to watch him build them and felt very helpful when I could hand him the small white-headed tacks he used to hold the cloth covering. The inside was lined with what father called artificial silk and the finished coffin was beautiful. I remember father saying he had made five coffins for members of one family over a period of years. Seldom did he ever receive payment for this service, not even for the material he had to buy. Father was generous to a fault, if he knew anyone in need; he'd give his last dollar to help them out. And many there were who took advantage of his generosity.
Father was called to serve as Bishop at Rich, a small ward or branch between Thomas and Pingree; the church house was just west of Don Carter's home. He served here for two or three years, I think, 1917-1919. He was trustee of the Thomas School District #48 for many years. He was chairman of the Blackfoot Flour Mill and Elevator, and traveled to various towns to sell their flour. About 1912 he went into the implement business in Blackfoot called the All-Cut Implement Co. Father was always interested in progress and at one time he and several other men started a canning factory on West Bridge Street (later made into a Greenhouse, now abandoned). When the business began to fail, all the men dropped out, but not may father. He had started something and his determined stubborn nature struggled on until he lost several thousand dollars.
In the spring of 1915 father purchased a Studebaker car; it was the third car in Thomas and I believe about the sixth or seventh in Bingham County. He homesteaded a ranch in the hills east of Blackfoot near a small creek called Nigger Creek. I believe three years were required to homestead the ranch and many were the trips taken to this homestead. Father would go each Monday morning, stay all week and return on Saturday or sometimes Friday to be home and ready for the Sabbath. Mother usually went with him but if she was unable to go Gertrude, Roetta and I took our turn going to cook for father. Once when I went along with him and learned quite a lot about preparing meals from a very limited supply of food and also how my father loved and watched over me and things he had never said much about before.
Church work always came first with father; he used to say the three most important things in a man's life were his priesthood, the love of a good woman and his family.
One of father's favorite saying was "pride goeth before a fall." He wanted his children to take pride in work well done, but never to be proud or haughty. I remember when I was in high school two or three of us girls would rent a room and do our own housekeeping. One time we were moving to a different location and father came to Blackfoot in our old white-topped buggy to move our stove, table and a few things we kept house with. I wanted him to take a back street so that none of my school friends would see us. Pretending not to hear me and with a twinkle in his eye, he drove down Bridge Street and straight through the center of town. When I told mother about it, she said, "Oh yes, it makes quite a difference who is being proud. Many a time your father has stopped in the foothills just east of Blackfoot when coming from the ranch and waited there until dark so people wouldn't see him all dusty and unshaven from a weeks stay in the hills. You came by your pride honestly, my girl." Father was overseer in that end of the county and built many of the roads to and through the hills.
Modesty was another of father's virtues; he was firm about the length of our hemlines, the sleeves of our dresses and the neckline could never be much below the throat. He always sighted our mother as an example to us in modesty and as a properly dressed lady, both from her pictures of early life and as she was at that time. How styles have changed - - -.
In the summer of 1917 father was visiting his mother who was staying with his sister Mary Bair in Richmond, Utah. He became seriously ill and was taken to the hospital in Logan. Five doctors pronounced it a ruptured gall bladder and doubted if an operation would save his life. This necessitated a stay in the hospital for six to eight weeks at that time and father insisted on mother being his nurse. Father's health was never very good after this and he sold the farm to brother Art about 1920. Mother died in July 1925 and father died June 28, 1926, and was buried in the Riverside-Thomas Cemetery.
Retyped from typed copy by
Norma Jean M. Wood
8 January 1991
Peter Edmund Van Orden Jr.
Contributor: Mptothill Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Peter Edmund Van Orden, Jr. was born January 7, 1856 at Kaysville,UT , the third child and only son. His family moved from Kaysville,Utah to Provo, Utah. His father, feeling that he could not provide for his family properly, left to prospect for gold. He was gone for eight years. There was no means of communication in those days so his wife gave him up for dead. When Peter Edmund, Sr. returned he found his wife married to Martin Mills. He returned with a quart size bag full of gold dust. With this money he was able to send his son, Peter Edmund, Jr and his daughter, Mary to attend the University of Deseret. Heber J. Grant was 10 months younger than Peter and attended the university at the same time.
Peter went to visit his mother who was living in Washington, Utah. He started working in the cotton factory. It must have been there that he met Laura Christina Bastien because she also worked at the factory. They married and had a family of 11 children(5 boys and 6 girls). He apprenticed with Mr. Joe Judd, a carpenter.
He served as Justice of the Peace, City Councilman, and mayor. In the church he was ward teacher, Sunday School Superintendent, and president of the 29th Quorum of the Seventies. He served a mission to the East Kansas Mission.
Church work always came first with Peter Edmund; he used to say that the three most important things in a man's life were his priesthood, the love of a good woman, and his family.