Contributor: smithc Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
I was born March 22, 1896 in Fillmore, Utah to John and Emma Bourne Nichols. I had four sisters and one brother, Jane, Carl, Lyde, Maude, Nellie, and myself.
We lived in a log house with a wood stove, table and chairs, cupboard and wash stand. A stucco bedroom was added with two big beds with feathered mattresses, fluffy pillows and warm quilts that Ma had made.
Water was piped into the front yard to a tap, so that we didn't have to carry water very far. There was a big dirt cellar in back or the house with an outhouse down the lane a piece.
We had a good sized lot, and Dad planted a lot of fruit and red currant shrubs. An irrigation ditch ran in front our place, and you had to use a wooden plank to get to the house.
Fillmore was the capital of Utah Territory. The pioneers began to build a capital building in 1851, but ran out or money. Part of the unfinished old State House was used for the school where I went. I remember going through the seventh grade, but the next year I was in and out of the eighth grade, since I decided to go to work.
My Dad used to farm and shear sheep for a living. He used to take me, and I would tromp the hay. Dad would call me Killdeer for I was tall and thin.
I would get so upset when Dad would send me to bring in the cows, and Lyde would want to go. Dad would make me take her, and I would get mad and whip her legs with a stick.
I must have been sixteen years old for I remember Dad buying me my first hunting license for one dollar and taking me to Clear Lake to hunt ducks. I had a hammer type Belgian gun. We got about 40 ducks in one day.
The last thing I remember about my Dad was going high in the mountains to chop cedar wood for winter. This was all we had for fuel, so we had to work hard to get a lot stored up. When we got home that evening, Dad became ill and became unconscious. Three days later he passed away. The doctor said he had died of Bright’s disease (inflammation of the kidneys). This happened in 1915. This left a lot of responsibility on my big brother Carol and myself with mother and four sisters and two nieces to provide for.
My oldest sister, Jane, had been married and had Alice, but that marriage didn’t work. She the remarried and had Bertha. This marriage didn’t work either, so she was living at home again. The house was full of women.
Mother would do big washings for one dollar, to help provide for us. And just when mother needed me to help, I was tipped over in a wagon and broke my leg. They put splints on it, and I would have to hold it up in the air and slide around on by bottom. My cousin, Less, would laugh and make fun of me sliding around the house like that. A week later Less was working and a cave-in trapped him. He broke his leg in the very same place.
Aunt Jane (mother’s sister who lived across the street) had lost her husband, and then she lost her four children with diphtheria.
They were digging a canal, and I was working for five dollars a day carrying water by horseback three miles for the workers and horses to drink. Then the Army drove up and said, “We want you!” So I got in the car, and they took me back to Fillmore. I had two weeks at home, and they had my teeth fixed. This was World War I in 1917.
Guy Mitchell and I decided to go fishing, before I left for the service. We only had sticks, string and a bent pin to fish with, but we were doing good and caught a lot of fish. Then Jim Jensen, the ranger, and Uncle Sims came while we were fishing, and said fishing season was over, and that we shouldn’t be fishing. Uncle Sims told Jim I was leaving soon for the Army, so he didn’t arrest us, and said it was okay.
That was the hardest thing I ever did in my life, leaving all those women crying and hanging on to me. They had to pull Ma away. I made up my mind I’d never come home on leave and go through that again.
I was stationed at Camp Kearny, California. Ray Jackson, Gene Ashby, and Eugene (Bounce) Pearson were in the Army with me. They were all from Fillmore. The largest weapon was a cannon, a heavy gun or piece of artillery, used for firing large projectiles, and mounted on a carriage or rampart.
Ray Jackson had a good job in the Army. He shined shoes for the Captain. I remember one day the Captain handing him a handful of money which looked good, for while we were in the Army we got twenty-five dollars a month. I sent fifteen dollars to Ma, and I had six dollars and forty cents for myself after I paid my insurance.
They said I could have a leave at Christmas time, but no way would I go home until it was for good.
Our camp had an epidemic of the flu. We had to wear masks over our faces, but that didn’t help much. I remember seeing about one hundred horses a day carrying the dead to be buried. I came down with the flu and had to go to the Army hospital on camp.
The Army didn’t even give me enough money to get all the way home. I just got to Delta, and talked the coachman into taking me home. Here I’d get the money from Ma to pay him.
The man that I came home with in the coach was met as he got off by the marshal. He was locked up for twenty-one days incubation period, because he hadn’t had the flu. I was all right, because they knew I’d had it. There was a lot of new snow I hadn’t seen for awhile.
My cousin Less and Ernest met as I got home and carried my bags. Everyone was so happy to see me. It was great being home again. I saw to the coachman and thanked him.
I had to begin earning money to support the family, so I began trapping. Carl was living on the west end of town, and he was working for the Government trapping coyotes. They paid him one-hundred and thirty-five dollars a month. Carl got me a job with the Government trapping too, but they only paid me one-hundred and fifteen a month. We worked for them for quite awhile, and then we decided to go on our own .
It was spring, so we went to Nevada to shear sheep. Carl was called home, because his first baby was due. They had a girl and called her Emily.
After shearing season was over, I came back to Fillmore and bought me twelve traps and went muskrat trapping. This was at Meadow Creek, and I was making pretty good money. The Government would pay me one dollar and fifty cents a pelt.
Carl was working on the header (a cutting machine) cutting rye at Cedar Mountains between Holden and Fillmore. He was only making one dollar a day. I was doing much better. I would shoot coyotes and get six dollars for his pelt.
Then I went to work at a saw mill unloading lumber with Jack McBride. One day Terry asked me if I wanted to be a Game Warden. So I thought I’d try that for a while.
I would fasten two big cans of fish on the sides of my saddle and take them high in the mountains and build rock ponds to put the fish in. The bouncing of the horse would keep the fish alive, and I’d stop often for fresh cold water to add to the cans.
One day I had to take a truck to Delta and pick up some fish that were being sent down from the Springville hatchery. When I got to Delta the truck broke down, so I had to put it in a garage for repairs. The driver from Springville was mad for he said you have to keep the fish moving. I didn’t take long to get the truck back, and the driver said to find a rough road and drive fast to keep them alive. There were ten to twelve men on horses ready to take the fish up the mountain.
In the late fall I would have to go up the mountain alone and knock open the ponds so the fish could go down stream. Now that I look back, that was a frightening thing to do alone. I was only a game warden for six months. I didn’t like it.
Down behind the apricot trees the Speechman family lived. Their son went with me to get coyotes. We went below Fillmore and dug all day, but couldn’t find any coyotes, so we decided we’d go again the next day. Speechman’s Dad said he had to go to Delta and haul oil in a big wagon back to Fillmore. The next day I went to the right spot and got six coyotes at six dollars each. I made so much more than Speechman, he was mad.
I was on a mountain trail one day when I met ten wagons coming down the mountain with wood for the winter, so I stopped and talked to one of the drivers, and he said he would only get three dollars a load. Just then a coyote crossed the trail, and I shot him with my 30-30 rifle, so I made me six dollars for killing one coyote.
Bill Swallow owned and ran a confectionery store, he was a good friend, and I liked to go to the store for a cold drink and a good talk. There were always a few fellows sitting in the store, and they would say, “How about buying us a drink Bill?” I’d say, “go earn your own”. I had too!
One day Bill Swallow got in a new fishing pole and reel. It was something new and everyone wanted to buy it, but Bill said, “No!” But then when I came in, he showed it to me, and I asked him what he wanted for it. He said ten dollars, and I said here it is. How I loved that pole and reel. I used it for ten years.
One time my horse, Outlaw, and I went out checking traps, and we ran across a big cattle drive. The river was so high the men couldn’t get the cattle across. I told them I could get them across, but they laughed. I said, “Okay, I was just trying to help”. All right they said, “Go ahead”. I sent in Buster, my dog, and he got them across. How grateful they were. They all wanted to buy my dog, but I said, “No sir”.
I traded our old heifer for a horse in Fillmore at a rodeo, but he was sure wild. Carl and I took him with us, walking everywhere and fed him good, so he would get used to us. My cousin, Wells said he could brake him, but no one could stay on him. When I finally got him broke, he didn’t like it, but he couldn’t get me off. He never let anyone ride him but me. He was always wild and mean.
Carl and I were working and camping at Meadow Creek. We were in the tent asleep when the horse (I never did name him. I just called him Wild One, because he was so mean) began to choke. He had the rope tangled around his neck. I jumped up, put on my boots and pulled the rope. The hose ran away. He jumped a four foot pole gate. Carl came out yelling. I had put on his boots, and he had tried to put on mine, but they hurt him. They were too small. I chased that horse all day, and finally that night I corralled him at the Robison ranch.
My cousin, Jess and I were hunting coyotes one day. We couldn’t dig them out, so I began poking a stick in the hole. Jess jokingly jumped on my back, and my head went right in the hole. I was so mad at him, so the next time I got even with him. I had him dig first, then I had Buster, my dog, pin him there. He never played tricks on me again.
One day we ran across a coyote and shot her. I didn’t know it, but she was going to have babies. I got six dollars for each pelt. She had six babies, so I did pretty good that day.
In between working all the time, I did find time to go fishing and hunting which I loved.
Carl, Jess and I went duck hunting a lot. One day when we went hunting there were so many ducks we just couldn’t hit them. Soon we ran out of shells. Carl, Jess and I put all our money together. I had enough for two boxes, fifty-five cents each. I jumped on my horse and rode eight miles to Clear Lake and back with the shells. We all loaded up, and I shot and got eight ducks with one shot. How we all laughed about that.
Carl and Jane had another daughter, Lucille. Carl was having a hard time getting enough money, and Lyde wrote and told him to come to Bingham. He got a job at the mine, and bought a house in the middle of Bingham right on the highway.
Jane’s two daughters were married now. Alice married George Blake who got a job at the mine. Bertha married Vard Tucker from Delta, so they made their home there. Vard ran a shoe repair shop. Jane got a job at Bingham and met and married Pete Rice.
Lyde, Maude, and Nellie were also married and living away from home. Nellie had met Edgar Hockins and married him. Edgar’s uncle lived in Oregon, so they went there to live.
Now Ma and I were alone. The girls wanted their mother to live with them, but she wanted to stay in her home.
Some of the fellows and I decided to go on a camping trip and take our girl friends along. There were about eight couples. Bill Swallow came along to chaperon. We packed wagons with tents, water, food, and all our camping gear. Some rode on the wagon and some of us rode double on horseback. Gladys Jackson was with me. We fished, hunted, had water fights, sang around the campfire and told stories. We had a great time and stayed seven days.
We planned another camp out, but at the last minute everyone backed out. I was so disappointed, then Mother said she would like to go, so I asked Rachel and her mother to go. It was quite a trip for me. I had to pack everything on two mules. Mother and Mrs. Warner rode one horse. Rachel and I road the other horse. I had to put up two tents, set up the camp, so the women would be comfortable.
I remember one night setting around the campfire and a squirrel came out on a branch above our head. I grabbed my gun and shot. He fell into the fire. How mad Ma was, and she bawled me out for killing the squirrel.
Now there was only Ma and me in Fillmore. The family had always been so close. The girls wanted Mother and I to move to Bingham.
Mother had been saving her money, so she gave me enough for the down payment on my first car, a Red Wing Overland. We locked up the house and headed for Bingham Canyon about 200 miles away. This was in 1923. I got a job at the Copper Co.. I worked on the bull gang one week, then I went on the steam engine firing for Heber Nichols.
I was surprised when I saw Bingham Canyon for the first time. It was a mining town built right in the canyon with a long narrow winding road. The city limits were actually four miles from the mouth of the canyon. From the city limits Main Street snaked it’s way up the canyon three miles to where it forked. The right road leading up Carr Fork to Highland Boy. The left continued as Main Street then curved two and half miles to Copperfield, which included Dinkeyville, Telepraph, Terrance Heights, and two suburbs known as long as the town lived, simply as *** Camp and Greek Camp. Running in levels down both sides the canyon was the open pit mine.
Milford had a big silver mine, so Lyde went there and got a job in a boarding house. She met and married Heber Nichols (no relation) in 1908. they had a son Willard in 1910. They heard about all the work at the Bingham Copper Co. open pit mining, and they packed up their wagons and moved to Bingham Canyon, Utah.
In 1914 they had another son, Jack. Heber ran the steam engine called a Dinky. Lyde wrote for Maude to come to Bingham and get a job in a boarding house. Many of the boarders were single men. Maude met Eugene (Kinky) Miller, a romance developed between them, and they were married.
In 1921 the Copper went on strike for a year. Heber and Lyde were having it hard, so they went to Mellort Quinn to find work. There was a big silver mine there, so there was a lot of people working at the mine. There was a big railroad junction. More people were coming all the time. The bootleggers were there too. They were getting six to seven dollars a gallon for whiskey.
Lyde and Heber would tell about the bootleggers distilling grain. One day it went all over the ground and pigs drank it. How funny it was to see the pigs drunk and rolling on the round or trying to walk. They couldn’t walk, then they’d jump all over and make crazy sounds. Lyde and Heber used to tell this story often.
After the strike was over Lyde Heber moved back to Bingham.
In Bingham there were many married men who left their families elsewhere while they worked in the mine to earn money to bring them there and make their homes in the canyon. They rented little shacks in the canyon and began their families.
Maude loved to cook, so she worked awhile after they were married. The price was always right at the boarding house. $20.00 a month entitled them to all the food they could eat. The plates were always piled high with food. There was on good means of storing food, so it all went onto the table.
There were shacks, shanties, homes, hotches and mansions built in every place you could build. The frame houses, unpainted without yards, were run down and unkept on the outside. It was the same houses, almost dust free and immaculately clean on the inside. They all had coal burning cook stoves in the kitchens and pot bellied stoves in the living room.
Main Street averaged only 20 feet in width. Just room enough for two cars to pass in opposite directions and was made to seem even smaller by the buildings that lined its sides. There was heavy traffic that flowed up and down reaching a peak when the shifts changed at the mines. One who was ever trapped in his car going up the canyon while the workers just off shift were coming down will ever forget the experience.
Bingham Canyon had everything and did everything in the open. In the early days there was a bar in practically every store, even the one that catered almost exclusively to women.
Gambling operated openly in many saloons. Bingham was a League of Nations for its populations came from everywhere, many sections of Utah and the rest of the United States. They came from the British Isles, Italy , Balkan States, Scandinavia, China, Japan, Korea, Greece, Mexico, Spain, and later Puerto Rico, and many Navajo Indians.
They gathered in their own districts in the narrow canyon holding on to their old world language and customs. Everyone welded together and made Bingham a great place to live.
Holidays always had a flavor of their own in Bingham Canyon. Because it was located high in the mountains, Bingham usually enjoyed a white Christmas. Families with old country ties combined old customs with new.
I missed Fillmore and Ma wanted to go home for awhile, so I took a leave from work, but there was a mix up for when I got my check there was a blue slip that said I quit. I was really upset.
While home I worked and married Bertella Robison. I brought my new wife back to Bingham, got a place to live high on the mountain, but I had a hard time getting back my job.
Feb. 18, 1927 our first baby was born. A beautiful baby girl we named Billie Jean. Bertella almost died giving birth for she was in labor for two days. Dr. Frazier stayed with her all the time. Then he sent me down to the Bingham Hospital to get another doctor and more ether. They worked with Bertella and saved her, but they didn’t know for sure if the baby would make it. They set her on the table, put cotton on her stomach and when they looked at her again she had both hands in the cotton and was doing fine. I stayed through it all, and it frightened me. I’ll never forget it.
I decided all the steps we had to climb to get to our house was just too much and with a baby to carry we better move. So we rented a house across the street from Carl. Carl’s youngest daughter used to love to play with Billie.
Billie was beginning to walk, and we were right on the highway, so Bertella wanted to move again.
Kinky and Maude had three daughters, and they had one son which was hit by a car and killed about a year ago, so we were frightened and wanted a place away from the highway, so we moved to Frog, back in a good place off the road.
I 1929 the depression hit. There was no work for anyone. I was only working 12 days a month at the Copper in the heating plant. They were still paying good money for pelts, so I went out all winter and set traps. Spring came, so I went out shearing sheep. I worked hard and fast to make all the money I could, then moved on before the sheep shearing season was over. I worked at Woodrufff, Newhouse, and Melfort.
Carl and I got a job in Nevada, so I took Bertella and Billie with me. We stayed in a tent.
One day Billie was setting watching us shear sheep. Carl was a good and fast shearer, but sometimes he would go too fast. This day he slipped and cut a sheep wide open. I grabbed it, and sewed it up. Billie went running to her mother. It frightened he so.
It was winter again, and I went back to the Copper. I trapped and killed coyotes and had money all the time.
In 1929 I became an engineer. I worked with Bounce Pearson, and I worked three different shifts.
Times were hard. There wasn’t enough work and people in Bingham with large families had it bad. I remember one day at work, I was on the dinky with Heber Buchman (the general manager of the main). Buchman told us to throw on so me extra coal and dump it off by our houses. He was always looking out after the men and tried to do all he could for them.
I took Bertella and Billie with me one day while I checked out my traps. I had to climb the mountain, and as I got close to the trap I could see I had a bobcat in it. He wasn’t dead, so I started down the mountain to the car to get my gun. The bobcat got loose. Bertella and Billie began to cry and scream, so all I had was a rock. It hit it in the head the first throw and killed it. Bertella and Billie were both crying when I got to the car.
With all the hard time, I still stayed close to my family. When we could, we went fishing or hunting together.
The Copper Company decided to build Copperton. It was blocks of beautiful homes built on the out skirts of the mountain that entered into Bingham. The homes were rented by the Copper Co. to the foremen and employees. They were maintained by the company, painted every other year. They had their plumbers and gardeners, and the rent was real reasonable.
Heber and Lyde, Maude and Kinky, Jane and Pete each got them a home in Copperton. They were beautiful homes with nice large kitchens with breakfast nooks, living rooms, dining rooms, one bedroom, and full basement. All the houses were about alike.
The three girls lived close enough that they could walk to each others house. We all did our shopping at the Bingham Mercantile Co.. It covered a city block and had everything you would need. Besides groceries there was a clothing department, hardware, etc..
Everyday the Merc would send a boy to Copperton to take the orders from the ladies and have their fresh meat and vegetables there before dinner.
Charles E. Adderly was the found and President. I think every one in Bingham at one time or the other owed money to Adderly, for he helped so many people through the strikes.
I always wanted to do taxidermy work with all the animal skins or birds I had killed and give them back their life like appearance. So no I had a little money ahead, I bought the books and all the mounting tools. It was very interesting. I began on small birds, squirrels, and weasels. I then did some deer heads. I mounted one for all my brother-in-laws and a few for some friends with the promise to pay, but I’m afraid that was all it was, just promises.
Billie was growing fast, and she was alone so much, so one day, I surprised her and brought her some a kitten in my pocket. She was so happy and just loved her pet.
Billie was getting close to six and time to begin school which was two miles up the canyon, so we moved again. This time we had a nice place. It was like an apartment built on the back of a house facing the mountain, and no yard, but it had a nice living room, kitchen, bathroom and two bedrooms upstairs. I set up my taxidermy in one bedroom.
A store owner asked me to mount him a whole deer for display for his window for hunting season. It was a big job, and I worked hard on it. I was so hoping I would get paid for this job for it ran me into money, but I got just promises again.
One cold day Carl came to my house. He was in so much pain with a bad toothache. He asked me to pull the tooth for him. I got my pliers and got a good hold on his tooth. I pulled and pulled. It was a big tooth and real hard to get out, but I decided not to let go. I pulled harder and out it came. There were tears on Carl’s eyes, but he was so thankful the tooth was out.
Billie was in the first grade now and doing pretty good. Then she became very ill with scarlet fever. I wanted to love her and help her, but I couldn’t get close to her for I couldn’t miss any more work. Bertella stayed by her side.
Then sadness hit and Pete Rice died. He had inflammation of the appendix. Now my dear sister Jane was alone again, but she had twin sons, Keith and Kenneth, and a young son, Johnny, by Pete. Jane’s daughter and son-in-law, George and Alice moved into the basement of Jane’s home to see if they could help.
Spring was coming. I knew I could make good money shearing sheep, So I ask Tom Callfield if I could have thirty days leave of absence. He was mad and just told me, “No!” Louis Buckman, the general manager of the main over heard us talking and said, “Bill, what’s the matter?” I told him I wanted a leave of absence. He told me to go and for Mr. Callfield to let know if the work picked up. Buckman was a wonderful man. He knew almost all the men at the mine by their first name.
Bertella became very ill and the doctor said she would have to stay in a mental hospital.
It was a sad time in my life. I took Billie to Fillmore to live with Ma for the summer. I moved in with Maude. She fixed me a room in the basement.
It took me sometime to get hold of myself. Then a good friend at work, Rulon Goff, introduced me to his sister and my life began again.