Lois Elnora Black Wright

by Mable Wright Hurst

My Mother's story begins at Orderville, Utah, on January 1, 1878, in a small room in the home of Margaret Banks Black, who's seventeen year old daughter-in -law, Theressa Elnora Cox Black, was waiting for the birth of her first child. The young husband, John Morley Black, was taking a leading part in the New Year's play and was having a hard time keeping his mind on his part. The mid-wife, Margaret Ruth Banks, was doing all she could to encourage and assist the Mother-to-be. The young man arrived just in time to witness the birth of his tiny first daughter.

The baby was very small and weak, and it took all the skill of these pioneer nurses to keep life in the frail body. The mother also became seriously ill with what was called "milk leg" or "child-bed fever". The blood clot settled in the elbow of the new mother, causing her to go through the rest of her life unable to bend her arm. The baby rallied and on January 8, 1878, was blessed by her grandfather, William Morley Black, and given the name of Lois Elnora. She lived for seventy-three years, and became the mother of nine children.

Mother was born of "goodly parents", in the Everlasting Covenant of marriage. Her progenitors were people of faith, courage, ingenuity, thrift, honesty, and self reliance, loyal to the church and it's leaders, going unquestioningly where-ever they were sent to help build up Zion.

Mother well remembered the life in the "order", the big kitchen, large cooking vats, the wool washing, carding, coloring, weaving and knitting, of which she learned to do her share. She helped her grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Cox, feed the silk worms and participated in all the activities of the "Order".

When Mother was eight years old the "Order" broke up. Grandfather was given a team and a cow, and with his two families left Orderville, and the next few years were spent in Huntington, Salina, and Gunnison, Utah.

She was baptized at Huntington, Utah, during July or September, 1887, by Victor Cram, and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by her father, John M. Black.

In September, 1888, John Black took his first wife, Theressa, and her children and went to Mexico because of the persecution of the polygamists. They travelled alone by way of Lees Ferry. It took two months to reach St Johns, Arizona, where a brother, William Black, lived. The family was weary and needed provisions badly. "Uncle Will" told Grandfather of a Brother David K. Udall at Springerville, Arizona who needed a miller. The family moved on to Springerville where grandfather received employment from Brother Udall and the rest of Mother's girlhood and young woman hood was spent in and around Springerville, Eagarville,and St Johns, with the exception of one year in Mesa, Arizona.

Mother does not remember going to school until after the family moved to Arizona and then her schooling was not regular, only at times when she could be spared from work in her own home, or while working for the Udall family. She completed the fifth reader, which was quite an education at that time, and the subjects were the three R's: reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic, with a bit of geography. The teacher she remembered most was John W. Brown.

One thing Mother remembered best about her school days was that one of her classmates, Will Wiltbank, had had the very rare privilege of going to Salt Lake City. On his return he brought home some store gum and took it to school with him. Being a very unselfish young man, each school girl and boy was given the privilege of chewing that wonderful gum for a given number of "chews". Mother told how she hated to have to give it to the next in line, and how she chewed as slowly as possible.

When members of the General Board of the Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association went down to St. Johns Stake to organize the association there, they met in the tithing office of the St. Johns Ward. Mother was present at the meeting. She told of one of the ladies who spoke in tongues and another one giving the interpretation. She said it was one of the most memorable occasions of her life.

It was customary for the young people of Eagarville to go into the mountains on fishing trips. It was on one of these trips that Mother met Sam Wright who was herding sheep there.

At the time the family moved down to St. Johns, Mother was engaged to be married to Gus Gibbons, but as soon as she was away, one of her best friends felt sorry for him, so on the very day that Mother was to have been married to Gus, he married one of her girl friends. About a year later he was killed by out-laws.

About this time, Sam Wright came back to town and a friendship that began in the mountains blossomed into a courtship and on April 7, 1898, Bishop Charles P. Anderson performed the ceremony that made Samuel Franklin Wright and Lois Elnora Black man and wife.

The wedding picture shows them as a handsome pair. Mother was truly a beautiful bride in her dress of white wool cashmere and lace, the long lace veil and orange blossom wreath, white half golves (a glove without fingers or thumbs) and white kid shoes. Carlie wore her orange blossoms at their wedding reception, as did Velda and Flora Johnson. For years Mother's wedding clothes were her most cherished possessions until ----- but that is another story.

There was the wedding dinner, dance and gifts; then, the next day, the young husband went away for six weeks shearing sheep while the bride lived with her mother-in-law.

Their first home was at a saw-mill where Dad worked and Mother cooked for the mill crew. Then they went back to St. Johns. The next move was at a mail station about halfway between St. Johns and Holbrook. Mother was left there alone every other day, busied herself with making quilts and baby clothes until just before their first child was born.

Dad was away from home shearing sheep, April 27, 1899, when Mother knew she was soon to be delivered of her child. She sent for Grandmother Wright, Dad and the Doctor. Grandmother got there, also the Doctor, but Grandmother didn't send word to Dad and when he got anxious and came to town two weeks later he found his daughter, Elnora, waiting for him.

The next move was to a big ranch in a canyon between St. Johns and Springerville. Many outlaws roamed the country and this canyon was quite a hide-out for them. Grandfather Wright's family lived there with them. Often the women were left alone while the men were working elsewhere. On one such occasion Nora became ill and Mother felt she must take her to the Doctor in St. Johns. So she bundled up a few clothes, wrapped up the baby and started up the canyon to the road to meet the mail. It was a long hike, several miles, and she waited alone by the side of the road until the mail came along. The mail was carried in a two wheeled cart, one horse affair. The driver moved over and made room for her to go on to town.

Mother's people had moved to New Mexico and in 1900 Dad and Mother also went to Fruitland. Dad moved an old granary on to Grandfather Black's lot and moved Mother into it. It was here that I (Mable) was born. My arrival made it possible for my mother to help feed and care for her twin brother and sister, Paul and Pauline, who were six weeks older than I.

From here we moved back and forth from New Mexico into parts of Colorado, Mancos and Cortez, from one farm or sawmill to another. Frank was born in Fruitland, Lawarence was born on a ranch in McElmo Canyon, near Cortez, Colorado. Nellie made her appearance in Mancos, Colorado. During these Colorado, New Mexico years, Mother was acting as a teacher in Primary.

It was June, 1909, that Grandfather Wright made the trip from St. Johns to Fruitland, New Mexico, to take us to Arizona. Dad had gone several weeks earlier.

We were in St. Johns for six years this time. It seemed we were always on the move from one house to another. Mother was a good homemaker and house keeper. The sorriest kind of old place she would tackle, paper the walls with old magazines, scrub with lye and strong soap, polish windows, hang curtains, wash dishes, and put the nick-nacks in the corner cupboard, patch the roof with tin cans and we would be home. We lived for two years in the old Relief Society building, one large room, no toilet of any kind.

Dad was gone a lot, shearing sheep, playing for dances, or just gone, and Mother did everything to feed and clothe her children, from sewing to cleaning chicken houses.

Mother was frugal, thrifty, ambitious - was never idle. I remember seeing the smaller chldren bring her crocheting to her and she would crochet, teach poems, little songs, tell stories, while she sat nursing her babies. Give her some flour sacks, thread and a crochet hook and she would make anything from pillow cases to boys shirts. Diapers, sheets, underwear, table cloths, quilt linings, ----everything she made of flour sacks. I could write a book about flour sacks, carpet rags, chuck ticks, and raw wool.

She was scrupulously clean in her habits and speech, her home and her children. She was a splendid cook; no mater how simple the meal, it was well prepared and nicely served.

There was no selfishness in her nature. The story of her beloved wedding dress proves this. She abhored debt of any kind, there were never unpaid bills.

Nora was attending the Academy as a Freshman. The school chorus was scheduled to go to Snowflake to put on a concert. Nora had no dress good enough to wear, nor was there any way of getting her one. So Mother went the the bottom of the trunk, brought out the wedding dress, carefully ripped the seams, dyed it a beautiful blue, and Nora went to Snowflake as grand as anyone.

About this time Grandma Wright went to paper a kitchen for someone and Nora went to help. They tore out the old lining and hung a new foundation. The old lining was brought to Mother. We carried water to soak off the half-dozen layers of paper and found --- gray calico. I think the only dress I ever had that I hated was the one made from that calico. It also became boys shirts, aprons, etc.

Three more children were born in St. Johns; Earl, Otis and Ila. Mother almost lost her life with blood poisoning when Ila was born. I remember it so well. Nora and I were washing out in the "summer kitchen", a wagon cover stretched between the room where Mother's bed was and the back of a room joining our room, to keep off the sun. The children were playing under some trees on the sidewalk. Grandmother Wright was there. A Mexican was dressing out a sheep in the yard joining ours. We heard the baby cry, and Dad rushed out and over to the Mexican, took the knife the Mexican was using, and hurried back. That was the knife they used to cut the umbilical cord that almost took Mother's life.

During the first part of February, 1915, Grandfather Black sent Mother's sister Millie and her husband, Ernest Steiner, who were just married and neither 21 years old, to bring us to Grayson, Utah, now Blanding. We left St. Johns with four horses and two wagons loaded with what household furnishings, clothing, etc. we could pack in. On February 8th, we left on what started to be one weeks journey to Fruitland, but stretched out to two weeks. We drove through blinding blizzards, camped in abondoned Indian hogans, and even spent one night in an old house with a herd of pigs. We were lost in the desert, stuck in quick sand, and had no way of reporting where we were or how we were.

A weeks rest at Kirtland with Aunt Ella Thurland and we headed for Utah -- a four days journey. But again the storms hit and the mud made day travel almost impossible. We would have to wait for the mud to freeze, then go until it thawed. About four days out Otis became very ill. The next day one of the horses gave out. Both wagons were unloaded, the most necessary items piled into one wagon, and the other things left in the second wagon on the side of the road.

We arrived in Grayson on March 8th, 1915. Within two hours little Otis died of pneumonia. Dad arrived a month later.

Our first home in Blanding was an old log house built stockade style on Uncle Edson's farm about one half mile East of town. It was two rooms and an open shed affair, dirt roof, one room boasted a wooden floor. We got unbleached muslin and made ceilings with it. Water came from wells in town, in barrels. We grubbed brush and planted a garden. Aunt Martha Allen loaned Mother some hens and we raised a nice flock of chickens. when winter set in we lived in two rooms of Annt Martha's house and then moved back to the farm in the spring. We were there when Carlie gave warning of her arrival and Mother went to Grandma Black's to be delivered of her last child.

Coming to Blanding brought many changes for Mother. Grandfather built her a two room frame house the second fall we were here. Uncle Ben Black gave her some odd adobes from the brick kiln, and were hauled for a mile in a child's wagon and a wheel barrow. Mother mixed the mud and I laid the adobes and we plastered it with mud with our hands. We did a good job. It is still intact. Later, Dad built a small lean-to kitchen which was replaced by a large bedroom donated by Uncle Edson Black. It was unfinished, but it was the first home she had and although she still followed Dad around to Moab, Sego, and Sunnyside, she still had her home to return to. She planted flowers and trees and carried water to keep them alive. Her family had grown older and were better able to take care of the younger ones and to improve her home. She became active in Relief Society, acting as a work day director, as assistant Theology class leader, and as a visiting teacher.

It was in April, 1926, that Mother received her divorce from Dad because of desertion and non-support. It was not contested. That same year on May 26, 1926, she went to the Salt Lake Temple and received her endowments. From then on she went to the temple as often as she could. Grandmother Black died in July, 1926, and Mother and her five unmarried children went to live with Grandfather. She stayed there for a few years and then moved back to her own little home. Home was not home to Mother without a small flock of chickens. She knew her chickens, made pets of them, gave them names such as flighty, friendly, and talky.

Mother loved the out-of-doors, the mountains, streams, and forests. She lived to fish and camp out under the stars. In her younger days she lived to ride horses and could handle a team beautifuly. In later years she liked to go for a ride in the car, preferably to the canyons. She even enjoyed a ride in an airplane. She loved flowers, especially roses and gladiolus, and always had fresh ones in her home if they could be found. Early morning, before sunup, she would go to her garden to say "good -morning" and always her last evening activity was to "mosey" among the flowers.

She loved to read: magazines, good fiction, and Church literature.

About this time her health began to fail quite rapidly. She was taken to Price, Utah, and underwent a serious operation for female trouble. All of her children had married and moved away; and because of her ill health and because she was alone and so far away from help and dangerous to leave her alone and impossible for any of us to go stay with her, she was persuaded to sell her home and build a new house on my lot, close enough that I was within calling distance yet she could be alone. She had every necessity of life, yet she was never happy in her new house; she yearned for her home.

Mother passed away on April 19, 1951, of a heart attack. She was active to the very end of her life. Although failing eye sight had made hand work and reading almost impossible, she still used every possible bit of vision and time to the best she had. She died as she lived; quietly, patiently, serenely, beautifully, and alone, as she had often wished it.

Mother was indeed beautiful when she was laid to rest. Her last clothes were made and put on her by her daughters. Her sons placed her in her casket. Funeral services were held April 22, 1951, in the Blanding Ward Chapel. She was buried in the Blanding cemetery on our lot.

She has left a posterity who truly have raised up and called her blessed. At the time of this writing, August, 1957, she has eight living children, forty three grand-children, and forty two great grandchildren.

All children and grandchildren who are married have been married in the temple and are active in Church and civic affairs. Most of therm own their own homes. Yes, surely by their fruits shall ye know them.