"My Life Story" by Olive Melissa Jarvis, Edited by Great-Granddaughter, Lisa Christensen Jackson
Contributor: kevsha Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
"My Life Story" by Olive Melissa Jarvis, Edited by Great-Granddaughter, Lisa Christensen Jackson
I, Olive Melissa Jarvis, was born January 11, 1902, at Colonia Morales, Sonora, México; the oldest child of Samuel Walter Jarvis, Jr. and Olive McNeil. My father usually bossed a bunch of natives on roadwork, as he spoke the lingo fluently, also Spanish very well. My early memories are traveling in a covered wagon from place to place, wherever dad was making road.
It must have been just when I was 5 that we moved back to Morales again, as my sister, Bertha, was born there in 1907. My brother was born before we moved back there someplace along the line. A baby sister, Francis, was born and died but I don't remember her.
That summer I had the measles. I suppose that others did also, but I had to have my head shaved, as there were big sores in my head. Why I remember this so well is that mother got me a white and blue sailor suit with a cap and I was allowed to keep my cap on in church even, as I was so bald.
After that time, I stared a small fire on the south side of the hay stack where the wheat straw was piled after thrashing. It was just a play fire but it destroyed everything we had in the line of feed for the stock and made it necessary for the horses and cows to whither out and most of them were either killed or died. (Because of those things happening,) the next spring we moved to (Colonia) Dublán, (México) where later a baby brother, Charles, was born. Later, we moved to (Colonia) Juarez (México) where Charles died. We lived there until we left in 1912.
All of these towns I mentioned were church colonies or small towns not too far apart. I imagine they were between Monticello and Bluff, except, with travel as it was at that time, it was as much as a week between towns.
In the winter of 1911 and spring of 1912, a lot of talk reached us of the Rebels and the Federalists (Federalistas) fighting, but not much was thought of it. But in early July of 1912, my grandfather Jarvis (Samuel Walter Jarvis, Sr., 1855-1923) came in early one morning and told the folks that it was necessary to get all women and children out immediately, that most of the places south of us were already vacated and the last train would leave in a short time. It was about 9 miles to Pearson where we could get the train. While dad harnessed the team, mother grabbed a few clothes and blankets and what food was already cooked and we left 'pronto'. I remember that a large pan of butter that I had just churned, two buckets of milk and a pan of bread dough were left on the table. We were told it would be a week or less that we would be gone. That was 1912 and I have never been back. My sister, Ada, was about nine months old then and none of us, as far as I know, have been back; Except my father, who, after my mother's death, went to Texas with his mother and made some visits back.
We landed in El Paso, Texas, where, along with other refugees, we were permitted to live in lumber yards for about 3 weeks, if I remember right. The men had stayed in México to help harvest the crops. Along with others, my father started for Texas with a load of fruit and vegetables for food. But the train was blown up and dad always said a bottle of whiskey saved his life. He gave the whiskey to the engineers of the train and he rode as far as the train went and walked on into El Paso to join us. Soon after that, the men arrived.
The church and other charitable organizations arranged for people to go wherever they had friends or relations to help out. Grandpa Jarvis had not seen his parents (George Jarvis, 1823-1913 and Ann Prior, 1829-1913) for (many) years, so we all went to Saint George. There, all the folks treated us grand and helped in any way they could. There, we went into the home of Uncle Brig and Aunt Mary Jarvis, and they shared everything they had with us. We lived in three different places in Saint George for about a year, but dad was unable to find anything to make a living at, so he started out to hunt work and landed in Salt Lake City, where he worked making harnesses and collars for horses in a large shop. in late November of 1915, mother and we children joined him there.
I had two years of school in Old México and 5 years in Salt Lake where I graduated from the ninth grade, which was my education.
By May, 1918, with World War I on, dad decided he couldn't make a living in Salt Lake City and, as he really was a farmer at heart, we moved to Monticello, Utah, where he was foreman on the Greyson Dry Farm, about 16 miles east of Monticello. Later he filed on a homestead and that was why we lived in San Juan County, Utah.
On July 5, 1918, I went to a dance in Blanding, Utah, for men going to war, where I met Ray Christensen (1895-1945). He left soon after for the Army and I didn't see him again until he returned in the Spring of 1919. We soon started going steady and on January 7, 1920, we were married by my Uncle George Jarvis, Bishop of Monticello. Five years later we went to the Salt Lake Temple. Soon after we were married, we went to Carbon County, where Ray got work in the coal mines. We lived in Wattis about two years and Ray Leon was born there on November 24, 1920. We were thrilled to have a baby boy. Later we moved to Storrs (Spring Canyon) and there, Walter Kent was born June 6, 1922. Now we had two boys to love.
As long as the mines worked good, we were satisfied with that life, but nearly every summer, the mine closed down two and three days a week. That made it rough and hard to make a living, so we would always go back to Monticello and then back to the mines in the fall again. I don't know how many times we made that trip.
Perry Eldon was born in Storrs on April 25, 1924, and died a month later and was buried in Cleveland, where Grandpa and Grandma Christensen lived. Eileen was born June 10, 1925, in Storrs, so now with two boys and a baby girl, we were really proud. But in 1926, the mine in Storrs shut down, so we moved back to Monticello and decided to make a home there, but Ray had no formal training or education, so it was just plain hard labor for him all of the time. Farming was just that—HARD WORK!
(Jay was born May 6, 1927 in Monticello.)
In the summer of 1928, Ray was working down at Indian Creek when he came down with a bad case of rheumatism and had to have his tonsils removed. The doctors told him to go to Arizona, Mesa or Phoenix, and just sit in the sun for two years. That was easily said but impossible to do. He bucked snow all winter in Monticello to try to make a living.
On February 14, 1929, Neldon J. was born and a few weeks later, Grandpa Christensen died (Niels Christian Christensen, 1859-1929). We went to Cleveland and dad farmed that place and worked in the coal mines each winter for two years. By then his heart was giving him a lot of trouble.
In the Spring of 1931, Grandma Christensen (Elizabeth Ann Petty, 1862-1931) died, so back to Monticello we came. I said that was that—I was going to stay put now! My dad gave us a lot south of Monticello, on the creek, and daddy and Walter, my brother, got quakies (quaking aspen trees) and built us a log house. It wasn't much, but it was ours, and we lived in it for about 14 years. Norma, Sam, Cleo and Dennis were born there and the years passed and out family grew. Leon and Kent graduated from High School and went into the C.C.C.'s (Civilian Conservation Corps). Then along came Marion, Judy and Janis. They were born in the Moab Hospital. World War II came. Leon and Kent married and later went into the service. Kent was sent overseas to the Aleutians but Leon stayed in the states, mostly in Hobbs, New Mexico.
After about three years, Peace again came and heartbreak came to our family with the death of our father and husband, on October 8, 1945, in the Vet Hospital in Salt Lake City. That left me with Janis, who wasn't two months old, Judy, about 8 years, and the others, up to Jay, who had just graduated from High School. By then, Eileen had also married and had one child. I was left with 9 children at home and a small pension from the government. I got a chance to go into the Post Office as part-time clerk. By now, Jay had left to get work at Hill Field, so Neldon came home each day from school at 2:00 p.m. and I would start work at 3:00 p.m. until we were through, sometimes at 6:00 and sometimes 12:00. Norma would get supper and put the babies to bed and we managed very nicely, although sometimes I thought I couldn't take it. but with nine reasons to keep on the ball, I just had to keep going.
With the help of friends and the Elders Quorum, I borrowed money and bought two of the two-room houses the milk company was selling and the church let me use some property and I built a house and was able to live in town, which was easier for all of us. We didn't have so far to walk to school and to work. Through the years, we managed to get the place built up and a bathroom put in, so we were quite comfortable.
Neldon graduated as Valedictorian of his class and left to work at Hill Field. Norma graduated from school and married Jack Majors. Sammy left school in his senior year and joined the Marines. After training in California, he went to Korea for one year. Neldon went on a mission to Virginia for two years. (Jay married LaReta Stewart in 1945).
In 1950, my eyes got so bad I quit the Post Office and had surgery on one eye. I was not supposed to do strenuous work for some time, so I took school kids to live in, took in washing and baby-sitting and anything else I could do. Later I worked in the restaurant (Out West Café) but that was too hard. I heard that a place was vacant for a bookkeeper in the City Office. In the Spring of 1956, I applied for it and was hired. Mr. Jukes told me if I would stay with him, he would train me, as I had no experience in that kind of work.
It seemed like no time until Sammy came home, got married and then Cleo got married. My family was growing up. Dennis graduated, went part of two years to College, as much as he could manage, and in 1959, went on a mission to Finland. Marion married before she was out of school, but continued in school and graduated with her class. Then her husband was drafted. Later went to France, where Marion later joined him for two years. Judy graduated from High School and then Janis married before she finished High School. And along about then, I fell and had quite a time in the hospital and lost my position in the City Office. This was the early fall of 1961.
For 15 years, I had been going with Glen Black, his wife having died in 1946. I had known Glen since 1918. Our kids had gone to school together and it seemed natural for us to like each other. He had a car and would take all of us for drives and picnics, which was good for all of us. We talked at times of getting married sometime but I just couldn't seem to find time to do anything about it, until I found myself without a job and too old and crippled to get another, and almost alone, so on Dec. 28, 1961, we went to New Mexico and got married. I moved into his place and the kids stayed in my old place off and on.
Dennis came home from his mission. Judy got married. Now Dennis is going to school, working for a time, and trying to get an education. He has a nice girl friend. He has had others, but nothing came of any of his love affairs. Now he seems to be serious. I'll have to wait and see what develops.
For two years, Glen and I have gone to Bluff for the winter, so last fall (1964), we purchased a trailer and went to Bluff to get out of the cold and snow. Now we spend some time between the two places. We have a nice place here, but like Bluff best, most of the time. Maybe we will sell the place in Monticello or maybe the one in Bluff. Only time will tell.
Now maybe I should say something about the Church and what I have done in it (or haven't done). I have a very sincere and strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. There has never been any doubt in my mind of the divinity of it. I was born and raised in the Church and most of the time have worked in some part of it. From 1948-50, I was a Stake Missionary. Again, in 1959-61, I was also a missionary.
I have worked always in the Relief Society, Primary, Sunday School, or other places in the Ward. I was an active member of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers until we moved to Bluff and I still belong to the Monticello camp of the D.U.P.'s. At present, I am a visiting teacher leader in the Bluff Relief Society Branch and enjoy it very much.
For about 15 years, whenever I got a chance, I would go to the Temple and do work for the dead. I really enjoy this work very much, but I suppose those days are over. I have been in the Saint George, Manti, and Salt Lake Temples. I have quite a bundle of work that I did work for.
I think this should do for now. I love every one of you: children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and in-laws!
Bye for now!