WLLIAM LEWIS SHEEPMAN
Contributor: crex Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
by Ruth Brown Lewis
William Lewis was born Sep. 3, 1878 in Benchcreek, Utah. His father’s family were from wales, and his mothers were from Pennsylvania and Germany. He did not have a chance to get much schooling. His grandfather’s family built a one-room schoolhouse, and most of the students were his cousins. He said he went three years in the winter and finished the third grade. Money was very scarce and each child had to help make their own way. He chopped fire wood to earn his education. School was a few months in the winter when there wasn't much work to do, and it was cold. He would have chopped a lot of wood.
He started herding sheep on the hills above their little home until he was old enough to go to the west desert. His wages never stopped until he was married. He took a dictionary and taught himself to read and write in those lonely hours in the desert at night, so he could write letters home.
The herders lived in sheep wagons, which could be moved with horses or mules. Sheep needed new places to feed. The sheep wagons had a double bed, a wood burning stove with an oven, a table, and a small cupboard Their food was very limited. They baked their own sour dough bread. They killed a mutton as was needed for camp meat. They bought cheese and eggs.
There were usually two men to herd the sheep. They had horses. Their job was to keep the herd together and protect them from mountain lions, bears, coyotes, and wolves. At night they would get the sheep settled and then the herders could go to bad. (They didn't have electric lights. radio or television.) They would not have much light. The men shared a bed as there was only one bed. One time Bill said that one herder had such bad breath he couldn’t tell which end was on the pillow. Even with their herding they sometimes found some dead sheep in the morning. It was a very lonely life. especially in the winter.
There were three busy times with the sheep. The buck pens were opened in the late fall so that in the spring, after about six months. it was lambing time. The reason they were in the desert was because there was very little snow, so the sheep could get to grass (and what ever they eat) In the spring it was time to have the sheep sheared. The sheep needed to be rid of the heavy wool they had grown to keep them warm through the winter. Shearers were brought in to shear, the hundreds or thousands of sheep. The wool, especially in those days, was a good part of the income from raising sheep.
After shearing the sheep and delivering the lambs it was time to take them to the mountains where spring brought new growth and there was plenty of feed for the sheep. In later days when Bill had a car he often put lambs in the back seat of the car if the mothers died, and the lambs must either be given to another ewe or be fed with a bottle. You might wonder how he could take them in the car, but Bill said the sheep paid for the car so why shouldn’t they ride?
In the summer the sheep were taken high in the mountains where the food was good. As soon as Bill's boys were old enough they were taken to herd the sheep. They were taken out of school a little early for lambing and herding. In the fall they were brought to school a little late to help get the sheep to the market Bill said his kids were smarter than other kids so it wouldn’t hurt them.
When Bill married his sweetheart Pleasant (Pleasy) Maud White, they both dreaded the separation they would have to face so they decided to go to Millard County, Utah. and try another way to make a living Bill couldn’t get work so he ended up in the mines, but after all the living out doors with sheep he was very unhappy with being shut up in the mines so together they made the decision to go back to Uintah Basin to the work he knew. Bill was able to get work with David Smith. They became friends, almost like family and Bill worked for him for nineteen years. He took part of his wages in land and sheep. He also homesteaded some land in Sand Creek, Duchesne County In this way he became successful.
Bill even tried the cattle business and had his cattle up around the Grand Daddy lakes. (My husband. Ray, remembers being up around the lakes one summer and he loved it). He ran out of feed for them and his old friend David Smith let him have some until he could get the cattle sold. He decided the sheep were best for him.
The most difficult time for Bill was in the winter when he wanted and needed to get home. In 1905 they went over Wolf Creek on horses and used pack horses. Later there was a very narrow road over Wolf Creek Pass. As he was going down some of the steep roads the children would run ahead to stop any wagons to come up, as there was no room to pass some times in the early spring or late fall When there was light snow Bill would go over the mountain
in snow shoes The road was closed in the winter and the only way to get home was going around by Price. That was a long way with a wagon and horses. It was a hard life, but at the end of Bill's life he said if he could go any place in the world he would go back to Uintah Basin.
In the spring of 1920 he went in business with Joe Peterson
Each one had enough sheep to go on the desert about 4,700. For the summer they leased the land in Red Creek from the Indians. About 1925 Bill and his two sons Elvin and Cliff, bought Joe Peterson out. They trailed their sheep out on the West Desert south of Myton. The summer range was Tabby Mountain (6 000) acres. They bought the Crandall ranch (the land where Elvin and Angie live.)
In the fall it was time to separate the lambs and take them to Kansas City to be sold. They had to be herded into Heber City to the stock yards put on the train in box cars. Bill always went with them, and sometimes he took some of the boys. On at least one occasion he took Pleasy. They all enjoyed the trip, and it was always hoped the market would be up so they would get a good price for the lambs.
Then it was time again to take the ewes to the desert. Then two herders were with the sheep in the winter range.
During the depression Bill was able to hold on to the sheep and land he owned. He was a successful business man. He gave his family a good home to live in plenty of food, and all the things they needed. Although he was out with the sheep a great deal of the time he was active in church and did what he could He was a High Priest and loved his family, especially his very special wife, and he had a firm testimony of the Gospel.
Contributor: crex Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
by Ruth Brown Lewis
When Pleasy passed away December 25, 1932 it was so hard for William. She was his sweetheart. She had born him twelve children, and the care of them had fallen so much on her. He had worked hard to give her fine homes money to feed clothe, and house a large family. Now he was alone, with three children unmarried. It was so hard to be alone He married Grace Wilcken in 1935
I married their son Ray in 1933 I never knew his mother Pleasy, but Ray has talked so much about her, and from the history she wrote I know the kind of woman she was. I am very proud of the heritage our nine children have from William and Pleasy Lewis.
I met William the night before we were married, but didn’t see him again until we moved from Arizona in 1935.
William had sold their home in Provo, and he and Grace moved to her little home in Tabiona He and Elvin were taking care of the sheep. All the other boys decided the sheep business was not for them and they got other jobs where they could be with their wives and families.
For three different winters William rented apartments near where we lived, and we enjoyed having them close. By then we had two children, Rose Maurine and Wendell. They enjoyed going to Grandpa's house. William must have liked oranges because he used to have a bowl of them. Wendell would look at them and say: "I haven't had an orange for a long time, have I?" So Grandpa always had one ready for him.
While they were living in Salt Lake, Marcellas decided he wanted to go on a mission. It was quite unusual, even in those days, but he was afraid Bliss wouldn’t be there if he didn't marry before he left, so they decided to have a wedding before he left.
Right after he left Bliss found out she was going to have a baby while he was gone. So William sent Marcellas money for his mission, and when Bliss had her baby he also sent her money.
I have great respect, admiration and love for my father in law. He worked hard all his life, and raised a good family and set a great example for them. He used to talk to me and I found out he was a great man.
He was having problems and came to see my father, who was a doctor in 1936. Dad took him to a specialist July 19, 1938 and called Ray in and told him that his father had cancer and there was nothing in those days they could do for him. They never did tell William what his problem was. He went Uintah Basin until winter, and he came back again for the winter Dee was the only one home and he usually came with them.
William (Bi11) didn’t go out for lambing the next spring as he was not well enough. He told me he had never seen spring in the spring for years as that was when he was busy with lambing and their shearing the sheep.
When we took him up the canyon on a picnic he said: “I’ve been on a picnic a11 my life and didn’t even know it.”
He stayed out in Uintah Basin for a little while in 1939 than came back in June to see my father. He was rea11y suffering Dad was very sympathetic, but couldn't really help him. We moved him to one of our apartments upstairs. The only thing that could be done for him was to ease his pain which Dad did Dad would come, and give him a shot of morphine every morning. When Dad came the last morning he looked at my father and said: "You'll get your reward in Heaven." He passed away August 2 1939. He was oniy sixty one years old.
At his funeral it was very fitting that they had someone sing, "Home on the Range".
He passed away and went to his beloved P1easy.