George Benjamin Wilson

Autobiography of George Benjamin Wilson compiled in 1962
Marriage and family

Uncle Bert Lamoreaux, seeing me in need of a job, took me in partnership with him. He went into the towns round about selling dress patterns and fine dresses. I liked Uncle Bert and I don’t remember of anything but good feelings between us. We went to the closer places selling and then to Orderville, where I met Miss Susan Cox. She was mopping the kitchen in the other room. Her mother, being in the front room, called at the kitchen and said softly: “Susan, come in.” She came in and claimed relationship as she was a cousin of Aunt Adelia’s.

She liked the dress, but it took some time to get one to fit, and we took plenty of time to trade. I met her father. He was a man of jovial nature, and his line of business was the same as I had been into: farming and bee-keeping. He was a lover of song. He led the choir, etc., and had a family of musicians. Susie had a nice voice and could read good and was willing for me to linger for she took my hat. Then she had to do her chores and milk two cows. She told me which cow I could milk. She wanted to know if I smoked. I didn’t think she wanted a smoke, for girls didn’t smoke then. I told her no. I stayed to supper and spent the evening and I enjoyed it all. And when we selected the last song she proposed we sing “God Be With You Till We Meet Again”. I liked the song and the singers. We wrote some letters, and we did meet again. Susie was working taking care of her grandmother for which she had an allowance. (Susie’s grandmother told her that the Wilsons at Hillsdale were of good stock and it might be good if she could get one of them.) Susie had been attending the Beaver Academy, as she had in mind to become a teacher. I asked how old she was, she said “25”, then I asked her how many years could she teach and still have a family. She said she never thought of that, I gave her to understand that some gal has got to have me pretty soon. I said: “I’m 31, what are you going to do about it?” She said: “When you get your license, get me one too.” I would have agreed readily to it, if she had needed one. I told her all she needed was to get a wedding dress. She said she already had one that she had made in sewing class while she had been attending school. Then I said that I was going to get a recommend and go to the Salt Lake Temple. She said she was going, too. Then, teasing her a little, I asked her who she though she was going to marry. She said: “Mr. Hanks or you.” After we were married she hunted Mr. Hanks up and said to him: “I am married now and don’t you wish you had married me when you had the chance.”

We went to the Salt Lake Temple on April 3, 1912. We took in April conference and stayed in the Wilson Hotel.

Just 50 years ago, I was in Hillsdale, very much unsettled. All I owned was in Morelos, Sonora, Mexico, and Mexico was at war. Porferio Diaz was a great statesman, and favorable to American people. But many Mexicans were jealous and they had a rebel leader, Poncho Villa, a ruthless black killer who did a lot to oust the whites. Every home in Colonial Diaz was burned to the ground in 1912. With them was our big adobe house, with a big front room for song and socials. Mexico may never again be the country it was when there were seven Mormon colonies with their thrift and industries. All my possessions wiped out, I had to seek a new place in life.

The first job I asked for was to dig trench for Panguitch City water pipe line. I had been married four days. I was a man of a family and had to work. If any one knew how to work, I did. My Uncle Bert Norton who was the city plumber gladly gave me the job of digging trenches in the yards and under the homes. This job lasted a month. My cousin Seth and I took a contract about 2 miles out of town to dig a space in the pipeline that others had given up because it was too rough. I remember one big round boulder too big to roll, so I commenced to drill. I pounded and pounded and got the hole in the rock about a foot deep when the rock commenced cracking right through the middle. Then by using a bar and working, we got it out one piece at a time and saved the powder. Susie came out and camped with us a few days. She wielded the mush stick but not the pick and shovel. My young brother Iddo came out to dig a few days and also Seth’s brother Dee came out. These boys could do the campfire work better than rolling rock and wielding the pick. We had a lot of fun and jokes. I remember one thing, Dee put a little coal in my hand as I had my hands behind me warming. It was a good thing that he was a fast runner, and boy he used his feet. He stayed out of camp until things cooled down. When the contract was completed, the officials pronounced it good, and they were very pleased to have this rough job done. Yet they said it wasn’t quite as deep as specified, and we could take a little less money or do more digging, so we took a little less and that pleased them.

When the job was near completion, my Uncle David and John Wilson and Cousin Jim Johnson took a contract in Marysvale to put up hay on a large ranch and I went with them. Also cousin Paul went. Paul and I were the younger ones so we took the first hay as it came up the elevator, and we threw it back to the middle of the wagon where two others loaded and tromped it. It took about ten minutes to load a wagon and ten minutes to unload with a derrick. I didn’t like haying very much. The farmer had the hay put up too green. I thought, too much rush, too careless, and too much waste. I don’t like the words “good enough” when a thing can be done better. The rest of the group from Hillsdale returned home, but I now had another job in and around the mine near Marysvale.

The name of the mine was Bullyboy. I got a job with the Bull Gang, whose work it was to do all the heavy work around the mine. After a week or so I took a shift or two in the mine. One day I was to carry lumber out of one place to another through a narrow tunnel. When I was about ¼ the way through here came a little car load of ore. It seemed there wasn’t room for the car to pass with the long timber I carried, but when I heard the car coming I hastily held the timber close to the wall. How thankful I was to escape injury. It was now five weeks since I left Panguitch. I had done my own washing and hadn’t been to church for 5 weeks. I spent part of Sundays writing letters and I must have written some after shifts, as one of the men asked me if I was writing a diary, and I replied no, I was writing letters. This Bullyboy mine was a rugged old spot and, when some checks commenced coming back from the company marked “No Funds”, I commenced to think no fun either, so farewell to the mines forever.

When I got to Hillsdale I found Father very sick with mastoid. Dr. Clark of Panguitch said he wouldn’t operate. He told me that he and other doctors had operated on Dr. Clark’s mother and she soon died. Father had been suffering for two or three months. He was run down through moving and his work and worry. He had been in and around Hillsdale nearly a year. Although Father was very low, he could still joke. Aunt Adelia brought him some broth and when he tasted it he said: “Its as hot as love”. He was propped up on his bed slightly when Aunt Adelia passed the foot of his bed with their baby, Joseph Hyrum. When he saw the baby he clucked at him as he had done to all his babies. He loved children and they could be assured of good, kind treatment when they were with him. I stepped to his bedside and asked him if there was anything I could do for him. He said: “Where’s Julia?” That is the last I can remember him saying.

When I wrote Mother and told her about it she said: “If I had known I would have been there of course.” It was sad for them to be so far apart. It was about 500 miles. Father had 3 most outstanding qualities. They were reverence, patience and kindness. He spent his life pioneering. He walked across the plains barefoot, driving cattle when he was 12 years old. He gave all he owned, which was a lamb, for the building of the Salt Lake Temple. He died 19 Sep 1912. Hillsdale was a branch of the Panguitch Stake, so Panguitch brought song, music, and speakers for the funeral. It was a nice funeral and a lot of relatives and friends attended. Father was laid to rest in Hillsdale cemetery where his father George Deliverence Wilson was buried.

It was now getting late in fall and as there was no work in Hillsdale, Susie and I moved to Orderville. We enjoyed it there very much with her father and mother and the younger three who were unmarried; Amy, Clarissa, and Orville. Orderville was always noted for its fine people, who had been tried on the Muddy and in the United Order. Henry Esplin, the bishop, was good to me when I helped him thrash his wheat. He had me fill my sack full, and there wasn’t that much wheat coming to me. I was so tired after Father’s death, and I had a severe cold. I even fell down on the bench as I was listening to Alma Esplin give the lesson in mutual. Alma laughed so hard. Well, people have to laugh. Susie wasn’t there or she might have kept me straight, as she tries to now.

Susie liked the hills 20 yards from their house where she picked pine gum and strolled to her father’s hideout from the marshal. In the mornings before school she used to drive her cows on the hill.

I worked on the road, sometimes single handed, sometimes with a team. One job I had was to help build a culvert about 6 miles up the Long Valley Creek. We came home weekends. I camped with Joe Jorgenson. He was a jovial man and we had a lot of fun quoting our German boss the state hired to oversee the job. The road jobs were so much shifting and losing time, that I took a job lambing a herd of sheep. I went out on the winter range and helped with the big herd, the first I had seen, and when they were all in a bunch it looked like all the land was sheep. The owner of the sheep was Miren Hogate. He asked me what I had learned today. I said that if you want them to go one way you drive them the other. Sheep think if they go where you want them to go they will get sheared again so they try to go opposite. Isn’t that the way of women?? Well, so much.

We got to the lambing ground before dark to scare off the cougar cats. The first night the three lambs born were all eaten by the cougars, and about half or more were eaten by cats for a week until the cats were full. We only got about 5 hours of sleep, and a lot of walking. I still got my $2.00 a day and we needed it very much. The lambs looked so innocent it seemed like they came to teach us meekness.

My wife informed me that I would have another job, but without pay. So July 28, 1913, our first son, Carlyle was born. I think that he weighed about 7 pounds, dark hair and eyes. Vira Blackburn was the doctor and nurse. I said to her: “It looks so small.” And she said: “It may surprise you how big he will be when grown.” I found that he kept me up late hours just as much as the lambs at the herd. The first night after Carlyle was born I heard voices below our upstairs window, and a chorus sounded in unison: “Abboo Ben Wilson with his tribe increased, awoke one night in a great dream of peace.” Now this chorus was the young folk of Orderville celebrating Carlyle’s birthday. The crowd vanished as quickly as it came. I never saw them and they never saw Carlyle.

When Carlyle was a few days old, I thought I would take him on a little walk. I went out to the corral and told Carlyle that there is where his mother used to milk the cows. I was eating a little piece of melon, and Carlyle was smacking his lips as if he wanted a taste. I gave him one drop of the juice; he smacked his lips and wanted more. I gave him one more drop and said: “Now this is all.” Carlyle soon got the colic and I had to go to his mother and she said: “That isn’t the kind of food a baby should have, and anyway you mustn’t give a child everything they want”. I found that I was just beginning to learn. Anyway, Susie and I commenced to think we were somebody now we had a son.

At this time (1913) wages were small and I had lost about all my property in Mexico. I did the very best I could to save to buy some land and get a home so I worked the year around with sheep. Once I stayed 7 months without coming home, yet I was not more than 40 to 90 miles from home at any time. The first winter (1913-14), I herded John J. Esplins’s herd of 3500. I learned the sheep fast, and the men had confidence in me, so the second year, I was given the job of over-seeing two herds and moving each camp every 3 days. Once three herds mixed together in the rain, and the sheep in the wrong pens all had to be legged out and put in its owner’s pen. Men who herd sheep dread of the sheep running mixers, smelling water, smothering on salt, getting in poison milkweed, leaving camp at night and getting lost, or Cougar cats getting them. This causes one to have nightmares of sheep tragedies.

One thing I did the first winter when I herded was to read the Bible through, first the New Testament, then the Old Testament. If I didn’t understand it I would read it over and the same if my mind was not on what I read.

Thanks for the job of shepherding, I had been able to save a few hundred dollars to make the first payment on land, and a lot to build on, in Hurricane. In March 1914 we brought the sheep to the big shearing pen where I think more than 100,000 sheep were sheared some years. It was said that more sheep were sheared there than any other pen in the world at that time.

Our second boy was born June 13, 1915, while we were still in Orderville. Now we had 2 boys, a farm of 7 acres, and 2 lots about 3 acres in all. I sure felt rich. I always wanted two boys to come, either twins or two years apart, so they could be company for each other. My brother was 8 years older than I so I just played and worked with my sisters, and sometimes made them unhappy.

When Vere was 2 weeks old I hired a team and loaded our belongings, with springs for Susie and the baby to ride on. She got Cleesa Cox, her cousin, to go with us, making 5 of us in all. Susie was anxious to go to Hurricane to make our home. Cleesa got acquainted with my friend Maurice Hinton. It was the best move she ever made—they raised a family that anyone could be proud of. We brought our cow and heifer. It took 3 days for the trip, and we got in Hurricane July 24th at 11:00 AM. We looked like pioneers leading our cow after us. We made straight for our lot, pitched our tent, and made ourselves a home. Our worst trouble was now over, we arrived all well, and ready to start. We no more than unhitched until neighbors came over to see us, Ab and Frank Stratton, and George Wood. Frank showed me a pasture and said: “Put your cow in it”. This friendship has endured.

The trial that was hard to endure was the flies. James Stansworth, seeing our situation, offered us his room at the back of his house. We lived there one month. Then we moved back on our lot and lived in the tent. I traded a heifer for the lumber to build a room with. Joseph Campbell, a very fine carpenter, helped me put up a room on the upper lot. I bought half interest in a team with him, and we worked together for years.

My wife and two sons were left to plan and make it the best they could while I went back to work with the sheep. In April 1916, they stayed at the sheep herd about two months then returned home to bottle fruit. Vere got burned very badly but being administered to, he healed quite readily. Even his hair grew back except in one spot. When they were up on the mountain, I made Carlyle an Indian bow, then decided it ought to be longer, so I made Vere’s longer. Carlyle threw his down and said: “I want a ga big o bow” so I had to make him another. Vere, when 10 or 11 months, was holding the reins and kept drooping the lines and going to sleep. I would go to take them and he would wake and would insist on holding them.

January 1918 was my month off again on furlough, lambing again in the dead of winter. A little girl baby was born to us on 13 Jan 1918. We named her Ruth Elvira. She weighed 9 or 10 pounds and was good natured—a perfect picture of health with blue eyes, light brown hair, and fair skin. How happy we were now to have two little boys playing and singing their little songs, and a baby sister to smile at them. Aunt Nancy, as we called her, was the midwife for Susie when Ruth was born. Zelma, Cleesa’s sister, worked for us a week or two.

Ruth was born 8 months before mother passed on, and she was happy that we had two sons and a daughter to carry on the Wilson name, as my older brother never had children and he and I were my Mother’s only sons.

After Ruth’s birth I left Hurricane the first of February for the herds. These visits were always too short, but I had to go back. Bob Creek, where we lambed the sheep in the spring, was in a deep canyon, with a clear stream of pure spring water with some meadow land and some land for gardening. There were a few wild strawberries and bull berries, an excellent Indian camp, and as it was open for homesteading, I filed on it. In order to prove up and get a clear title we had to live on the homestead 3 months out of the year, so I brought the family out the summer of 1918, and when I came back to the herd from taking them home, there was a letter edged in black, telling of my mother’s death.

Then it was I knew what it was not to have a mother to write to, and to council me. A short time before, I had written her. I wanted her to know that I love her and that I was saddened by her sickness. I told her in the letter that I was trying to live a good life by using good language and reading good books. I remember also of telling her that, though I owned a few sheep in the herd with my mark on, I had never marked a sheep dishonestly. Mother underwent an operation for a tumor and for some time she lay in a coma. My letter got there as she regained consciousness. My sister Esther read the letter to her. She listened to the letter and roused slightly and said: “He loves me.”

Mother’s admonition to all of us children was to do what is right, do your duty, attend your meetings. I never knew mother to miss her Relief Society meetings. At one time she was president of the Relief Society. She even went when it was held two miles away. She rode a horse in her younger days, and used a cart and horse when she was older. Mother was a beautiful singer, and I am happy that she got me to play the guitar while she sang. My fingers were nimble then, and I could play right along with her. Mother died 9 Sep 1918. I have seen her grave. She was buried in Mesa, Arizona, beside her father. She always adored her father, Benjamin Franklin Johnson. She was his 3rd child. My Father was buried in the same cemetery in which his father was buried, in Hillsdale, Utah.

My sister, Rose, was next to leave us. She was born Jun 11 1884—died Jan 27 1919. Prior to Mother’s sickness, Rose had been working as a nurse at the Miami Hospital in Arizona. Her care and anxiety for Mother got her run down, so she took a leave for rest. She went to California to Uncle Albin Johnson’s, Mother’s brother, place for rest. But before she got much rest, a letter came asking if she could come back to the hospital as the flu had come, killing in its path. She quickly returned to the hospital, and quickly took the flue and died in a few days. She was alone, away from us all, except one of my sisters got to her bedside just a few minutes before her passing. It all happened so suddenly that it was all unlooked for. Some of Rose’s last words were: “Why didn’t they tell me I was dying?” She was loved far and near, and so much missed by us all. Here is a verse Mother taught Rose to say at Father’s and Aunt Adelia’s wedding reception:

How fair is the rose, that beautiful flower,
The glory of April and May
It gladdened our hearts with beauty and charm,
But withers and dies in a day.

The next year about May 1919, Susie wrote me she would like me to come and work here on our land awhile, and then take her, Carlyle, Vere, and Ruth, (now about 1 year and 5 months old) back to the sheep herd for the summer, as it was very hot in July. Before she could get a reply or I could get there, she got George Hinton to take her to Toquerville. She and the children got on the mail truck and went to Alton, where her eldest brother, Will, lived. Alton was 20 miles southeast of Bob Creek, where I had been herding. On her earlier request to come home, I got a leave from Mr. Esplin for a month and came right on to Hurricane. I got here the same time she got to Alton, 100 miles away. When I got here, it seemed so lonesome in the house without the wife and children. It was a joke and people gave me a big ribbing about it, and I think she (my wife) thought it was funny too.

It was spring and my fields, land, and twin lots needed my care so badly that I stayed here alone about a month, and worked very hard plowing, planting, and irrigating, adding to the grape patch of about 500 vines. After about a month working here alone, I went to Orderville and my boss had a good laugh about all that had happened to me, but I didn’t mind because I always thought it was good for a person to laugh. My boss proposed I take a buggy and team to Alton and get my family and take them to Bob Creek. I was glad to do this. I was glad to see Susie’s brother, Will. He was a surveyor, and played the violin, and was a schoolteacher. He was a deep thinker, and I enjoyed being around him and his family.

I had such a little time with my family that my children had to get acquainted with me each time I came home, but I always knew them by name. We all enjoyed the ride to Orderville, and then up in the north mountains to Bob Creek. We went to the steep jump off, where the camp was about a mile below us. There were no roads up here for us to follow so we walked or rode horses on down to camp. I spent my time tending a camp at which Clint Hall was the herder. I was also allowed time and wire to make a fence. John J. Esplin furnished the wire, as his sheep were grazing the land. It commenced to be a question whether advisable to try to homestead with children out in the mountains without doctors care, church or the friendship of a neighborhood. We caught the kids strolling out of camp a time or two. Susie says once Carlyle got lost for a few minutes! Then Carlyle fell off a horse once and cut a gash in his skull. I shaved around it and cleaned it good, then drew it together with pine gum or something. Pine gum is very healing. Anyway the wound got well very quickly. Susie was disappointed that we didn’t have potatoes or vegetables. Potatoes is one of the main articles Susie was in need of in the camp fare, along with good, healthy foods.

June and July were two very busy months and we had a lot of experiences and travels during these two months. I let her know that I was displeased about losing one month’s pay, and her hasty trip around to Alton. I know she must have had many lonesome days struggling on this wide out of doors in Hurricane, though. There were all kinds of little animals, up to coyotes. Yes, it was truly an open range for all. Then in the summer the heat was very trying as there were no shade trees, except two poplar trees just started on the lot in 1919. Who could blame her for going to Alton, about 4,000 feet higher than Hurricane, where it was much cooler. She has had to put up with my mistakes. Where we have fallen short our fine boys and girls have made up for it during these past 50 years.

About August 1, 1919, we all enjoyed the cool weather in Bob Creek and Susie reminded me that it was time the Alberta peaches were getting ripe, so we rounded up the kids and all our belongings and saddled up two horses and we all rode about 5 miles to the top of Cable Mountain. There I tied up the horses for another man to get and take back to camp.

While going home with the family, down the steepest trail in Utah, I carried Ruth and Susie hung on to the boys. They sure did hold hands good. I was kind of playful, and with Ruth on my back I would go to the edge of the ledge, and she would say: “Oh, don’t do that”. It took about one hour to go down to the foot of the mountain, to Zion National Park. The head man of the Park was very good to us. He told us not to pay any extra tips to the man driving who took us to Hurricane on the mail wagon. He must have thought we were not very rich. Well, I felt pretty rich with all my family around me and away from the herd for a few days. This was about the 10th of August and the peaches hung ripe on the trees.

We were home again and it was like a jubilee to see our neighbors and friends, this time with no joke on me. I stayed in Hurricane just a few days, then went to Orderville with Bishop Henry Chamberlain who was passing through. I rode when going was easy, but walked 8 to 10 miles through the sand on Kane beds road. I went right on up to Bob Creek and resumed my work. Then in the forepart of September I got a letter from Jessie Gibson telling me that my wife had typhoid fever and that I should come home quickly. I took off on foot, the same trail I had gone before with my family, but this time not so jubilant. It was about a 40 mile jaunt. I started early in the morning, getting home about dusk and found my wife in bed. She was feeling awfully sick. She was under Dr. Wilkinson’s care, with Miss Russell as nurse. Susie was having the best care that could be and kind neighbors who called often. One neighbor said: “I prayed constantly that those little children would not lose their mother”.

Aunt Mina Hinton did all she could to help us. She took Carlyle and Vere while Jessie Gibson took Ruth. The children had such kind care, we will never forget the kindness and friendship that was shown. Bishop Isom with such faith and a kind heart kept us in council, and his wonderful administration was of great solace to me. He also called upon Joseph Wright to administer. He said to me that Brother Joseph Wright is a strong man with great faith. The fever lingered on very persistently. The doctor allowed very little food and that specified liquids, and to bathe her body all over with salt water every hour. Susie was losing weight very fast. Then Uncle Bennie LeBaron came and administered to her. He told me she must have more nourishing food. He said that she could have grape juice; he brought some grapes. We had no phones then, so I had to go on foot to the Dr. and ask him if she would have some grape juice. I was happy when he said yes. Then John Sanders told me to help myself to all the grapes I wanted as he had a large patch. The grapes did her a lot of good. They also helped me as I had to work night and day, and after a week with these baths I told the Dr. that Susie was not getting enough rest. Bathing every hour was too much and I didn’t want to rouse her or wake her, and then he said to bathe her only while awake, which was only half as often.

The fever never let up, then one day the doctor told me that we had but one source to turn to. Of course I knew what that was. Then in a couple of days the crisis came. Then in haste I went to the Dr. and told him that a crisis was on and I’d like him to come. He said: “I don’t want to see her die.” I hastened back and there was Bishop Isom doing all in his power for her. I could see in Susie a great change for the better. Then Bishop sent some to the doctor to come. He came and injected in her veins a clear liquid but it set her back for three days.

Soon, though, I could see that the Lord had spared her life. She began to pick up, and got the fattest I had ever seen her, and grew back a new head of hair. We got our children back all okay and Susie’s mother came and helped her to regain her strength.

I bid farewell to Bob Creek and have never been back, but I have fine friends in Esplins.

October 20, 1919, saw all of us happy to have our wife and mother well and happy again. I saw Leo LeBaron and he said to me: “Ben, you look like you have been pulled through a knot hole.” But now after seven weeks of sickness, strain, and worry, I was able to eat, drink, and live on.

Now in a world depression, without a job, I was just very thankful to have a little farm and a job on the ditch. We had plenty to eat. We raised grain, milk, honey, vegetables—and some to sell, plenty of fruit including grapes. I pride myself in saying that we had the biggest variety of food of anyone around during these two depressions.

The summer of 1920 was quite uneventful, though I did enjoy working on the farm, on the Hurricane canal, hauling wood. One early morning the team, May and March (the mares I had bought half interest in with Joe Campbell) were hitched up, hay on wagon, for a night feed. Ax sharp, all ready to start for wood cutting. I hopped off the wagon to kiss the wife and children good-bye, and the children all commenced saying: “Let me go, I want to go, Papa can I go?” I hastily took the lines and said good-bye, and in my haste I left the grub-box by the wagon on the ground and I never noticed it until I was seven miles out of town. Then I met a friend, Mr. Perkins. I told him I had left my lunch and asked him if he had bread left over from his lunch. He gave me a little left-overs. Then I found others getting wood and got along.

I often went up the ditch to work in the day time, and then sometimes watched the ditch all night as the ditch was still unsettled and subject to break and wash out on the mountain side. One day I took my team and worked all day with them and then watched the ditch all night. All together that day and night I made $10.00, the most I had ever made in one day. We got double time for night watching.

For some time the stream in the ditch seemed low or didn’t get to the farms. In checking they found a sinkhole in the bottom of the ditch just above Sulfur Springs. It made the hillside slippery from soaking. I think it slipped 2 or 3 feet, so we had to put a flume across to take the place of the hill that had slumped down. I watched the hillside one night and every little while I could hear an inner murmur and often rocks would roll. It made me feel very unsafe. After working all day in the field until almost sundown, William Ruesch came to me and said: “I’d like you to go up to the new repair job and watch all night.” It was stormy and lightening was cracking. I had no more than got to the place for watch when there came that ever dependable Billy Ruesch on his little sorrel horse all sweaty, and said: “Your wife has been struck with lightning.” Again she was protected and could still care for the little ones. The lightning had hit the company’s transformer about 30 yards from our house and the whole place was lit up and had electricity all around. Susie had her hand on the corner of the house when the lightning struck and the shock caused her to be speechless. As she tried to call Carlyle, Susie’s jaw was knocked out of place. Vere, a very small boy about 4 or 5, quickly knelt by his mother and said: “Heavenly Father, Bless Mama.” Her jaw popped back in place. Susie’s arm was still lame, but she recovered quite rapidly for having such a bad shock. It is like our great Patriarch said: “God has bountifully restored our lives that we might behold this glorious day.” So let us all be on His side. We couldn’t do much without Him.

Billy Ruesch, as we all called him, was a man of fortitude, a preacher. He was our ward teacher, very jovial, and all who worked on the ditch under him liked him. One time there was a fad, trading pocket knives, and one of the men had cheated him pretty bad. So he went to the store and bough a new pocket knife and broke all the blades out of it, then only showed the new handle. With it he got back a good knife again. He carried out the motto: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Billy Ruesch and I sincerely claim the same treasures. His great-grand children are my grand children. One other night on the ditch Billy asked me if I would watch a break that was very hard to hold. All went fine until about two in the morning, when a bank of heavy, black clouds rolled in from the south. The lightning was displaying the fury of the storm. Then the torrent of rain came, and just a little swelling in the ditch caused the newly repaired break to leak. I jumped the leaks as the rocks were tumbling, ran up the ditch ¼ mile to a spill gate and let all the water out of the ditch. When I got back to the leak, ½ of the new repair had been washed out. This rain run just soaked me through. My wife had seen an advertisement for the sale of strawberry plants for $10.00 with a rain coat as a premium. I had that coat on and it let all the rain through—that is the reason why they call it a rain coat; and the strawberries were so dead that they wouldn’t start. We had such a little money and yet so many ways money was misappropriated. Men know how money comes, women know how it goes. I worked on the ditch both before and after Rose’s birth.

Fall was nearing to an end and with Susie’s help we were planning lambing again, this time at home, with Dr. Baker to help. He was a fine man. He told us from all indication he thought we were going to have a bouncing big boy, but when it came on the 25th of November, Thanksgiving evening, just a month too early for Christmas, she was a little jewel. She was always happy and never rebellious. I’ve always loved Rose ever since the first day she came into our lives.

From 1920 until 1922, my work was about the same. My sister Esther and her son Malin came and stayed a while with us and built a little house on a little piece of land just across the street from our home. As a family, the Wilson’s had stuck together, and the bonds of friendship weren’t often surpassed. Yet since I was married and settled in Utah, I was away from all my immediate family for many years, and I was most happy to have Esther again with me. She was just two years older than I and was as good of company as I ever had.

We also had another newcomer. It was (King) David Delaun Wilson, named for his two grandfathers. He came a bawling. My wife said she felt like she was going to have a baby and I must hurry and get Dr. Wilkinson. I got on our family mare, Queen, and lost no time in getting to the doctor’s. I asked him if he would come right up, and he said: “I’ll make a call to another place then come right up.” Then I said: “If you make another call first, it will all be over.” I hurried back and as I was tying Queen up to the fence by the house, I heard a husky bawl and I thought “It’s a boy!” Sure enough Aunt Mina Hinton, the mid-wife, was dressing him. David didn’t seem to know me then, but two or three years later he followed me around trying hard to keep up with me. David was always good to help me all he could, and when he was 16 he budded pecan trees, and the buds grew!

We are thankful to our Father in Heaven for our lives, and for the great blessings which have come to us as a family. On our return from our Salt Lake Temple marriage, I well remember some of our thoughts. We both wanted a large family of ten boys and girls. I smile at it now for Susie was 25 and I was 31. We wanted 2 boys, then two girls, as boys like to play and work together, and so with the girls. This desire was granted in our having Carlyle and Vere, then Ruth and Rose. David then came, making five children, one half of the number we had set out for, and 12 years had passed since our marriage. David was born May 12, 1922. I worked around the home in 1923, such as work as hauling wood. I hauled about 3 loads of wood to Harvey Dalton for boiling sorghum. For part of the price of the wood he agreed to pay Mira Lemon as a midwife when Nola was born. I asked her if she would just as soon take Harvey for the debt, and she said yes. He was her nephew.

I had been keeping myself close to home for I never did miss one of these birthday advents any more than if a queen or a king was coming to town. For a time I couldn’t figure out why Nola put off her birthday for so long. She came on the 29th of February, 1924, Leap Year. She just wanted to draw attention. Well, I fell in love with her and decided to keep her always. They needn’t say that babies don’t smile at you when a few days old because Nola did, and I know they do because that is the way they express their love and appreciation. They say that a mother’s love is the greatest, but I think a father’s love is close up to it. Of course, Mother’s love is the greatest. Then think of children’s love for their parents.

Nola was born during a depression and I remember I took in only 30 cents in a month while on the farm. Things change. The grape vines began to bear and I sold grapes to school teachers and people who had cash jobs. As Nola got a little older she was worried about her birthdays as she was born on Leap Year Feb. 29th. I told her that she would have a birthday on the 28th. I am most happy that my family is so friendly toward each other. When Nola was about four she said: “Papa, I’m afraid you will forget my name”. I said to her we wouldn’t call her any more pet nicknames, so Nola was Nola after that. Before she was two years old she had a most severe case of baby flu. I was at Zion Park working for John Murdock caring for the teams. On arriving home the first sight was that of Nola and David playing outside. They were sitting on the ground and I thought she was better, but she soon got much worse and her breathing even made the baby buggy move slightly. We gave her castor oil, and Mrs. Wood, a nurse helped. From then on Nola made good progress, and was well again. We exercised faith and once more gave thanks to our Heavenly Father for his protecting care.

From 1920 to 1935 our nation had gone prohibition. No liquor was to be produced or sold or bought. David, Nola, and Julia were born during this prohibition period. Some people made liquor on the sly. Many stills were set up in the mountains. About 1925 there was a big celebration held at Lee’s Ferry in September. Indians and all people who had crossed the Ferry were urged to attend. I rarely went on vacation, but I went even though Susie didn’t go because we had six husky boys and girls to care for then, and we expected another loving guest to come to our family in the spring. I enjoyed this celebration very much. There were high Church officials there. I have in mind that President Grant was there, yet this has been questioned. I went to the celebration with a car or rather a truck with seats of plank or chairs. There was a meeting where all those who had crossed that dangerous Colorado by ferry could tell their story to be taken and retold. I felt too shy to tell my story, but I have it written down. If I had a chance to tell the story now, I could do it, since I have had experience on a mission, and was class instructor in our High Priest group. I saw my sister Esther and her husband Walter Lewis. I was very happy to see them. Walter was a prohibition agent for the U.S. to keep liquor from the Indians, and to keep peace. While all were enjoying the program, two Indian women had a terrific fight and did a lot of hair pulling. Walter, being an officer, especially for the Indians, separated them by pulling one arm each way and pushing them apart.

When Julia came into our home, I knew that each of these souls had been sent from Heavenly Father to us to love, to nurture, to teach, and to develop into fine men and women.

What we call love never ceases to grow and when we grasp the law of reverence, righteousness, and virtue, the bond of family tie is still stronger. When Carlyle was born, three of us shared the love. When Julia came it was nine of us. She made it another holiday, May 7, 1926. Julia was born at a choice time. From April 3, 1912, (our wedding day) until the last child came to us, each one born was the greatest celebration I could think of, a new member in our family. After Susie lay at death’s door after having typhoid for a week, it was God’s will that she got well and bore 4 more children; Rose, David, Nola, and Julia.

Many people came to our 500 vine grape patch. It was mostly “visit and pick ‘em yourself.” I told our county agent that I had enjoyed producing and marketing grapes more than anything else I had ever done. I’ll just mention the many things I have worked at: making sorghum in Mexico when 12 years old, helping make brooms at 13, produced honey nearly all my life—I still raised bees and produced the honey at 83—worked with sheep for 7 years—long enough to get Rachel and read the Bible all through, packed on mules poultry and other supplies to Tigre mine in Mexico, worked in a flour mill for about a month, and with making whole wheat flour for a number of years, raised cattle in Mexico and some in Hurricane, my own small farm in Hurricane, traveling salesman and traded a dress to my wife and she was thrown in for part pay, freighting—the work that was least loved.

In 1925 or 26 I was called to work with the scouts. I tried to make good but I had to work so hard in those days of depression that I didn’t do justice to the cause. I did my best, though, and took trips and camping and attended meetings and all.