Mabel Terry Bryan's Autobiography
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MABEL TERRY BRYAN
I was born April 12 1904 at Terry’s Ranch, 12 miles west of Enterprise. I was the oldest child of Joseph Alma Terry and Nancy May Holt. My father was a cattleman and farmer. he had taken care of cattle all his life, and was a bronco rider. He took part in many horse riding sports and was very good with the stock.
I don’t remember much about that early life, except how nice it was to go to the barn with our cups while the men were milking, and have them filled with white foaming milk, half of the cup foam. It was delicious. One night while we were on the ranch, Father brought home a very small fawn deer which was abandoned on the range by its mother. We fed milk to the deer and raised it. It became a great pet and was very intelligent. It would fight for Durward and me if we were ever in trouble with our cousins who also lived at the ranch. They were afraid of the little animal. When it was about a year old, it was kicked by a horse and badly hurt while it was tied to the fence, so had to be killed. This was a great blow to us.
When I was four years old, we moved to Enterprise as Mother and Father thought we should have more advantages for church and school. We moved to the family home, which has since been remodeled. I was the oldest of five children, three brothers and a younger sister. My parents were staunch Latter-day Saints. They taught me the principles of the Gospel and tried to bring me up in the way I should go. They taught me faith in prayer, which has been the biggest factor in my life. I never remember sitting down to breakfast without first kneeling by the table for family prayer. We always knelt at mother’s knee before we went to bed at night to say our individual prayers. At one time I had a very small earthen baby doll, which I loved very much to dress. One day it was missing, and search as I could, I was not able to find it. I remember kneeling by my bed, and asking Father in Heaven to help me find the doll. As soon as I arose, I went to the organ, looked behind it, and there was the doll--perhaps my brother had put it there. It was such a direct answer to my prayer that I have never forgotten it. Since that time I have asked the Lord hundreds of times for such help, and He has always come to my assistance.
When I was five years old, Maud Bigler came to Enterprise to teach school. She lived at Grandpa Holt’s house across the street from us. She seemed to take a liking to me, and asked me to come to school in her beginner’s class. The children in the class were six and seven years old. I did go, and stayed with the group all through my grades. Minnie Crawford also started school early, because her sister, Marva, 7 years old, was going. Minnie and I were two years younger than the others, but we were able to keep up; in fact, when we graduated from high school in St. George, Mille was the Valedictorian for the class, and I was next in line in a very large class.
Miss Bigler taught us to sing the Books of the Bible--both Old and New Testaments. Our final program was a rendition of these songs. I was Matthew. I have been so thankful for this. I still remember most of the songs, and they have helped me so much to find the books in the Bible.
Our first school was in the old Pulsipher home on Main Street. Nelse Anderson, a boy who ran away from home in Missouri, and who was living with us at the time, was in the eighth grade. he used to take me to school, sometimes carrying me on his back when the snow was deep. Our second and fourth grades were in the rock building south of our home. I have many fond memories of those years, and the programs we put on with our dolls.
While I was in the 2nd grade, Winnie and Lafayette Terry came to live in Enterprise. They were both in the first grade, and wanted me to go back to the first grade with them. I wanted to, and my parents were willing, but my teacher, Seth Jones said no, and wouldn’t give in to my coaxing. I have been so thankful to him all my life for this.
When I was in the fifth grade, we moved into the basement of the newly constructed church building for school. I attended the sixth and seventh grades there, then went to the red brick building, (our first church in Enterprise) now the Daughters of Pioneer Hall, for the eighth grade.
At the age of 10 years, a new family moved into our town. They took a homestead on the desert. They had a boy of 14, who had dark eyes and black hair, whom I will call Paul. Although I was only a child, this boy singled me out of the many other girls in our crowd and wanted to take me to parties and dances. I went with him many times. He was a very good boy, very religious, and always bore his testimony in Sacrament Meetings. I didn’t care for him, because he was too persistent, and thought I belonged to him. He told me in later years that the first time he saw me, something told him “there is your future companion”, and he always thought this would be.
In the sixth, seventh and eighth grades I had the same teacher, a very likable young man whose wife had just died. His name was William C. Staheli, and he was a wonderful teacher, and very popular with the students. We had spelling matches and arithmetic table matches. Thelme Truman, my best girl friend, and I competed many times against each other on the table matches. Each of us won a blue ribbon for our efforts. We played jacks on the floor, and were together most of the time, although she was two years older.
When we were in the eighth grade, an epidemic of mumps and German measles came to town. Everyone got them. Many students missed many days of school. I didn’t want to miss school, so I prayed that I would not get them. Mother, my sister Hazel, Durward and Merrill all had the mumps, but Maeser and I escaped, although I slept with Hazel. I did get a light case of German Measles on a Saturday and Sunday, but I didn’t miss school - I was the only one in school with a perfect attendance record. Our eighth grade exam was given by the Superintendent, Mr. Bentley. The night before the exam, some of us girls slept together and tried to study together, but I doubt if it helped.
I started to study piano when I was in the sixth grade. My teacher was Aunt Amanda Stewart. Methods of teaching were very different then, and it took me a long time to learn to play. I think I was twelve years old when I became the organist of the Primary; my Mother was the Primary President then.
Like the other girls in my school class, Mr. Staheli, our school teacher, was my ideal. He was fourteen years older than I was, and an accomplished musician, playing the violin and trumpet. As I was just starting to play piano, he helped me, and through his influence, I was put in as Assistant Organist in Sunday School when I was thirteen. He also asked me to sing in the choir, which he directed, and if the organist wasn’t there, I played the organ. he always picked out the songs, and helped me practice them during the week. (The organist was not dependable, so I gradually took over the playing.)
When we graduated from the eighth grade, the First World War was calling men into the service. Some of the boys from the eighth grade volunteered. Mr. Staheli, our teacher, ws drafted. he became a member of the band in the 145th Division, playing trombone.
My young days were happy days. I had a good home, very wonderful parents. Father was very strict. His word meant no when he said no. I remember one time I wanted to go to Holt’s Ranch with Uncle Ivor and Aunt Dora, just after they were married. They had asked me to go. Father said no, but he went to the ranch, and mother didn’t mind if I went. However, I didn’t enjoy my visit; I knew I had done wrong. When I returned home, Father gave me a spanking, the first and only one I can remember--but I never forgot it, and tried to obey after.
The fall of 1918 I went tor St. George to attend High School. I boarded at the Emma Heaton home on First East, one block from school. In October, the influenza epidemic broke out. Everyone got sick at the same time. Schools closed, all public gatherings closed. We went home, of course; everyone was quarantined, or had to wear a mask over the mouth and nose if they went out. Every family in Enterprise, but three, were down at once. Our family escaped, even though Father was going continually to help do chores and help those in need. Eleven people died in our town during those few weeks; one was Aunt Ada Holt, wife of Amos, ,mother to Alta Truman. Four young children were left. no funerals could be held; it was really a sad time.
When schools opened the following February, I did not return to Dixie. The war was over in November, and the soldier boys were coming home. Mr. Staheli had written to both Thelma and me while he was away, sometimes in France. He had a young army friend from St. George who was a bugler, and he asked us to write to him, also. Thelma wasn’t too interested, as she was already keeping company with Mr. Staheli’s younger brother, Raymond (they were married the following year) but I did write to both Mr. Staheli and the bugler boy.
When they returned, they both came to see me. The young soldier friend thought I was his girl, and although I liked him, I didn’t think he was the one for me. He was very jealous whenever I went with another boy. He wrote to me continually and would often send letters written in red ink when he was disturbed.
When conditions became settled and churches started again, Mr. Staheli was sustained as chorister in Sunday School and Church, and I was sustained as Sunday School organist. As he came to our home to practice the songs with me each week, a real friendship developed between us. I thought I was madly in love with him, and he said he would wait ten years for me, if necessary.
I had many nice boy friends, all good Mormon boys. I never did keep company with a boy who would smoke or drink beer. One young man told a friend he would like to go with me, but didn’t dare ask, because he smoked.
When I returned to high school in St. George after the flu epidemic was over, I had to start over in the first year, even though I had kept up my lessons in correspondence courses while the school was stopped. The first year I lived at the Charles Sullivan home near the Temple. The second year, I lived at Emma Heaton’s place again. Geneva Heaton lived with me, and we boarded. The third year I boarded at the Julia Graff home and lived with Rachel Graff Judd, her daughter. I studied piano each year, and my favorite teacher was Evelyn Thurston. I took chorus each year, and took part in the light operas which Mr. Joseph McAllister put on. I was in the chorus and special choruses. These operas were often taken to different communities, so we had a chance to travel with the group quite often. I was also a member of the East Ward choir, which sang each Sunday at the Tabernacle. I took part in the piano recitals each year, and I was Sunday School organist in the West Ward one year. We held Sunday School in the Woodward Building, up stairs. We had a Sunday School orchestra.
I did some correspondence work during the summer time, and took extra classes in school so that I could graduate in three years. I graduated with the class of 1922.
During the winters, I kept company most of the time with my soldier friend. He was in St. George most of the time, but occasionally he would go to California to work. He was always giving me fruit, candy, gifts and music. He really thought I was his girl, although I had other boy friends which he knew about, and I had never given him a promise. At times I thought he might be my future companion, but there was always something that I was waiting for.
That thought had started a long time ago---when I was eight years old, my Grandfather Thomas Sirls Terry, gave me a Patriarchal blessing. In it, he said “Always pray to your Father in Heaven as you would talk to your earthly father. Satan has a desire to destroy you, because he knows of you, and will put stumbling blocks in your way; be careful. There is a companion for you. You will know him at the proper time when you meet. Many will ask for your hand, but you will know what to say. You chose your companion in the Spirit World. You will be useful in the organizations of the Church.”
When I waw (stet) 16 years old, and thought I was madly in love with my school teacher, I again went to Grandpa Terry and asked for a special blessing. I didn’t want to make a mistake. He was past 90 years old at that time. As soon as he laid his hands upon my head, and had made the necessary remarks, he said, “There’s a desire in your heart for a companion; don’t be in a hurry”. For the next few years I was undecided what to do, and was always waiting.
In the fall of 1922 I went to BYU to attend college. I stayed with Uncle Heber and Aunt Erma Holt. They had two young daughters. During the winter, their young baby, Phyllis, one year old, fell into a tub of scalding water which her mother had just poured from the tea kettle to clean the floors. Her back and shoulders were very badly burned, but she was miraculously healed by the blessings of the Priesthood. Elder Melvin J. Ballard gave her a special blessing. (Uncle Heber was attending school that year. )
While I was at BYU, my Father was chosen to be the Bishop of the Enterprise Ward, and served in that position for 15 years, which made me very happy. I enjoyed my winter in Provo, but didn’t do much in the social department because I was rather shy. I did meet two fine boys who became good friends.
I returned to St. George for the second year of my college, and prepared to become a school teacher. A two-year normal certificate was suggicient (stet) at that time to teach. Durward, who was in high school, and I lived at a home on Diagnal (stet) Street. We had a fire place to keep warm in one room, and a large coal range in the kitchen. Durward slept on the large porch all winter, and it got cold. My stove would not bake bread, so I would make my bread and take it to Aunt Roxie Terry, who would bake it for me. On Sundays we were invited to eat with the Miller family. They always had good chicken soup and very good dinners, and we really enjoyed eating at their home. They lived about two blocks from us.
I received my Two Year Normal certificate and signed to teach the 4th grade in Enterprise the following September. I continued to study piano, and always accepted every opportunity to take part. I can’t remember ever refusing to do anything when asked, and whenever I was depended upon, I was at my post on time. I was organist one year in South Ward Sunday School while in St. George.
When I was teaching school in Enterprise, I was very active in Church work. I was Sunday School organist, assistant organsit and then organist of the Ward. The organist of the Ward was very talented, and five years older than I was. She was undependable, though, and gradually lost her place because I was always there to take her place. She made several remarks about my inability, saying I would never succeed, and was jealous of me. I wasn’t as efficient as many I know, but the Lord blessed me and I was able to help considerably. We had a very good choir; Mr. Staheli was the conductor. I was the first counselor in YWMIA for two years, and then President of that organization for two years. I also taught in Junior Sunday School and in MIA.
After I taught school one year in Enterprise. I went to Salt Lake for M.I.A. June Conference, and found my whole life changed. One of my boy friends, Guy, was at the mission home before leaving on his mission, and wanted me to come visit him. Aunt Milda Murray had invited me to visit her in Tooele, and I wanted to go. However, I had just turned 21, and felt I needed to go north in order to make up my mind about what I was going to do; some of my boyfriends were getting impatient for my decision. I asked my Father in Heaven very earnestly to help me in making a decision about which boy was to be my companion before returning to Enterprise.
I stayed in Salt Lake about four days with Anina Hall, a former Enterprise school pal, then left Tuesday morning on a bus for Tooele. I had sent a card to Tooele to tell the Murrays to meet me, but I arrived there before the card did. When the bus arrived at noon, no one was at the station to meet me. I waited until 2:00 before they came, and felt like I would never go back to that place again.
On Thursday, Aunt Milda made a date for me to go to the picture show with her husband’s (Uncle Bob) nephew. He had heard her niece was in town, and needed something to do. I accepted the blind date with Alexander Joseph Bryan, and we went to the movie. It was a rainy night, but he brought an umbrella, and we walked. I was very much impressed with his gentlemanly ways, but I knew that he already had a steady girl. Sunday afternoon he came down to the Murray’s and visited with us. On Monday night he took me to a dance, and was very thoughtful and courteous. I was surely impressed with him. Each evening he took me someplace. On Saturday night, June 21, one week from the day I met him, we again attended a show. After the show, we returned to Aunt Milda’s parlor. He said, “Say you’ll be mine, all the time”, and I said “I am yours”. Before he left that night, he had pinned his fraternity pin on my dress.
I returned to Enterprise the following Tuesday, anxious to get away. Things had happened so fast. I was engaged to a perfect stranger, and yet it seemed I had known him always. From that time on, it seemed like my life was completely different. I was two persons--my life before June 1925, and my life after June 1924--Thanks to my dear Father in Heaven for His guidance, and to my dear Grandfather for giving me those patriarchal blessings.
We wrote letters regularly. In August, during his vacation from the Smelter office, Alex spent almost two weeks at our home in Enterprise. In October I received by mail a very beautiful diamond ring, the most beautiful I had ever seen. At that time I was teaching the fourth grade.
In March 1926, President Alvin Orme wanted Alexander to go on a mission, but after learning of his marriage plans, he told him to go ahead with those plans, and then go on a mission in a year or two. However, i wanted him to be a missionary, and knew he wouldn’t go after a year or two, so he decided to accept the call; I should say the opportunity. It meant giving up a real good job at the smelter office; his boss really thought he was foolish, and tried to talk him out of it.
We were married in the St. George Temple on Wednesday, June 9, 1926. I became Mrs. Alexander Joseph Parkinson Bryan. Several friends and family came down to the temple with us. Dear Father Bryan was one. Our marriage was different than other marriages, however, as we knew he had to leave for a mission to England on July 6th. It was a sad parting, but I was happy he was going to be a missionary. He went and fulfilled a wonderful mission.
I taught school the next two years and worked in the Ward. I was busy all of the time, which was very helpful to me. I was holding several offices--President of the YWMIA, Ward Organist, Sunday School Organist and teacher, besides helping in all the programs, operettas, playing for dances, etc.
In August 1928 Alex returned from his mission, and I went to New York to meet him. Durward was on a mission in Missouri, and went from there to New York with me. We visited New York for a few days, then went on to Philadelphia, Washington D.V., Chicago, Kansas, Denver and home again. A wonderful honeymoon, even if it was 2 years late.
There was no work when we returned to Tooele; Alex’ position at the smelter had been filled while he was gone, and the depression was on, and many men were out of work. He got a job as a carpenter’s helper at the smelter, which we were thankful for, and worked there a year, mostly at odd jobs when fellows were off; if any extra help was needed.
Our first daughter, Byrdenne, was born in Tooele August 1929, just one year from the date we met in New York. When she was just past one year old, we decided to go back to Logan, and have Alex finish his college, and be able to get a better job. We didn’t have much money that year in Logan--we had $200 in the bank in Tooele, but the bank went broke on January 1st, so we lost that. However, the Lord helped us. We found a small home near the college; two boys had rented it, then one of them went home. We rented the kitchen and bedroom for $10.00 a month, and the boy we rented from and another student boarded with us for $15.00 a month. That $30.00 paid our expenses for the winter.
I helped Alex with his studies; he had to make up some subjects which he hadn’t taken in high school in order to graduate. He did graduate with the class of 1931 as an Agricultural major, hoping to become a county agent someplace. However, when we returned to Tooele there was still no work; only a day or two occasionally. we went to Enterprise to stay with my parents. My husband returned to Tooele in January, and worked on the Stockton road, a very cold, hardworking job. I went back to Tooele in the spring, and we lived in the upstairs of the Bryan home. Our second daughter, Yvonne, was born July 21, 1932 in Tooele.
In September, we again decided to return to Logan so Alex could prepare to get his teaching credential and have a better chance to find work. We had saved some money from the work he had been able to find in different places. Food was very cheap--50c(ents) for a sack of flour, 5c(ents) for a quart of milk, 10c(ents) for a pound of meat. He did find some work at the college farms, which helped. He finished that year, and received his High School Teaching Certificate. But there were still no jobs. During that summer he worked at an apple orchard in Bauer for $2.00 per day, and it was hard work. It cost him 15c(ents) a day for transportation. During this time we lived in a small two room house on 1st West, and paid $10.00 a month rent.
When Alex applied for a teaching job in the Tooele School District, he was told there was nothing available, and that there were several people in line for any positions. Several weeks passed. Two weeks before school was to start, I again prayed for help. I reminded the Lord that we could do nothing without His help, and that we had done all we could. We had tried to do what was right; we had paid our tithes and done all we could to help ourselves. That night we took our two little girls and walked to the superintendent’s house. he told them there was a position open, and was assigned to teach at St. John.
We lived in St John for three years. The first winter on the tenth of January, 1934, Hazel VeNae, our third daughter was born. I had stayed with Father and his second wife, who was a registered nurse. When the baby was born, Dr. Aldous said, “He looks just like his daddy, but he’s a girl”-- (she was born on her father’s birthday-)
We had many wonderful experiences in St. John. After VeNae was born, Sister Sagers asked me to be her counselor in YWMIA. I told her I couldn’t because of our young children, and no one to leave them with, as Alex was President of the YMMIA. She felt as badly as I did. As I sat with my baby, thinking how nice it would be to work in the MIA, a voice came to me and said, “Take that job and I will look after your babies”, and He did. we left the two older ones in His care, took the baby with us, and we were able to fill our assignments. We put on the operetta the last year we were there, which was a big success. We took it to Stockton and Vernon. I served as 1st counselor in the YWMIA, as a teacher and organist in Primary, and chorister for all organizations. Since that time I have accepted all Church jobs and the Lord has blessed our family. our babies didn’t have scarlet fever, mumps or any disease when they were all around us. We were surely blessed.
Alex taught school in a two-room building; he taught grades 5-8. He was then transferred to Tooele Central School in 1936. We had a chance to buy a home at 230 North 2nd West. We surrendered a paid-up life insurance policy of $1,000 as a down payment, took over the mortgage, and paid $25.00 a month. Alex’s wages were only $87.00 a month, so we didn’t have much extra money, but we were happy to be in our own home with a job.
Our daughter, Nancy Joan was born at our home on June 11, 1938. She came just two days after dear Father Bryan died, so I could not go to his funeral. August 28, 1942 we had a baby boy who was still born (stet). He was carried the nine months, but for some reason wasn’t permitted to live. If he could just have lived one hour and received a name, I would have been so much happier. I have worried for fear I might have done something to cause this.
A year before we came to Tooele, while we were in Enterprise during the summer, a little incident occurred. I got infection in my foot through a scratch, and before I knew it, I had blood poisoning, Father said. They wanted me to go to Cedar City to the doctor, but I didn’t think that would be necessary if Father and Alex administered to me. Father promised me in the blessing I would be made well. I bathed my foot in hat salts and used crutches to get around. From Tuesday, when I was administered to until Sunday morning, I remained about the same- didn’t get any worse, or didn’t get any better. I used the crutches and kept my foot elevated, because it would swell when put down. Sunday morning, as I sat on the edge of my bed getting dressed, I was wondering what I was going to do; I wanted to go to Sunday School and church. All at once I was conscious of a voice which whispered in my mind: “If you have faith, but on your shoe and walk”. This was so forceful, I was almost stunned. I knew immediately that I had not had sufficient faith to be healed. I put on my shoes and clothes, and went downstairs. I was healed. I attended Sunday School, Church, and Mutual, and had no more trouble with my foot.
In the summer of 1944 we moved into the old Bryan home on 180 E. 1st North. The home had been rented for years, and was really going down. We didn’t have enough bedroom space, so decided to buy the house from Alex’ sisters and live there. We had the outside remodeled, and also made several changes on the inside. We added a bedroom and bathroom on the down stairs. We lived in this house until after Byrdenne, Yvonne, and VeNae were married, and then decided to move back into the little yellow brick home on 2nd West. We had quite a bit of remodelling done on that home also before we moved back. A half bath, basement room, and another bedroom were added, and a gas furnaceadded before we moved back in 1958.
I had many piano students during the years from about 1944 to 1965. They came before school, after school, and on Saturdays. Some years I had 48 students each week. I had a piano recital each spring. I didn’t charge too much for lessons --50c(ents) for several years, then $1.25 the last few years. For a number of years I went to the Central School on Wednesday afternoons to play one hour for the 5th grades to sing. The students really enjoyed the singing, and I loved to play for them. (There was no music teacher after 1951.)
I held many positions in the Wards-Third Ward, 7th Ward, and then Third Ward again as the boundary lines were changed. I organized a choir when the 7th ward was formed. We sang each Sunday. When we were put back into the 3rd Ward, I again organized a choir. Sometimes we didn’t have too many present, but we held forth each Sunday, except a short time in the summer months until 1965. I had the opportunity of Gospel Doctrine class in the 7th Ward for two or three years, then in the 3rd Ward for a few years. I enjoyed that very much, because it required a lot of study, and I learned many things. I also enjoyed teaching the theology classes in Relief Society. I served in other capacities in Relief Society as well. I was a member of the Stake Relief Society Board for 12 years as organist, and then chorister. After being released, the group still continued to meet monthly as a social group. I love to work in the organizations of the Church. The Lord has really blessed me.
My husband was a member of the Stake High Council from 1939, when president Alex F. Dunn became President, to March 1953 when the North Tooele Stake was formed. He became Stake Clerk in the new Stake, and served in that capacity until 1966. We were associated with the stake officers continually and had many lovely experiences.
After teaching 5th grade at the Central School for 30 years, my husband retired in the summer of 1965. We spent many years in Tooele--we were very busy in Church assignments and other activities.
We were called to serve as missionaries in March 1966, and left for Australia in May. That experience is one we shall always cherish. We labored in Wagga Wagga, Brisbane and other towns, and met many [ remainder missing ]