Colaborador: jdeanhagler Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
(A story of the life of Daniel Gilbert as related to his grandchildren by him before his death.)
I now wish to give to you, my grandchildren a glimpse into the story of my life.
I was born in Willshire East Grafton, England, in 1858, the fifth child in a family of thirteen. My father, James Gilbert, and my mother, Sarah Choules Gilbert were born, raised, and married in Willshire East Grafton where they reared most of their family.
My mother, Sarah, was the first one of our family to join the Latter-day Saint Church. She joined it in 1870, my father joined about 1879, and now we all belong to the church.
I attended school for several winters but because of my intense dislike for it, my parents allowed me to discontinue at the age of eight and go to work. My first job was herding cows for which I received fifty cents a week. I later worked on a five hundred acre farm owned by an English Lord.
In our home we made beer twice a year as was the custom. We kept our glasses and decanters of beer on the table the year around. We thought if we should drink cold water it would kill us. Mother steeped our tea, cooled it, and we used it along with beer to quench our thirst. I drank very little water before coming to America, since arriving in this country water has been my chief drink. It hasn’t killed me as yet and I don’t believe it ever will. The well-to-do people in England made a barrel of beer whenever a son was born and kept it until the son became twenty-one years of age at which time it was considered a very fine beverage with which to quench their thirst.
Although we worked very hard we still had time to celebrate. In order that we might get off in the afternoon we had to be up at three o’clock in the morning and do our days work. Then to the hills we marched. The hills were covered with trees with the exception of one little spot which had been cleared to make room for wooden tables. It was here that we used to buy tea, lump of sugar and fruit cake for a sixpence (twelve cents in American money). Some of the boys tried to sneak pieces of lump sugar and fruit cake but the police always caught them and made them put it back.
We all looked forward to Christmas when mother would cook us a big dinner with a large roast of meat and a big plum pudding. This food was all cooked over an open fireplace. I had never seen a stove until I came to America. The day after Christmas we called Boxing Day. On that day we all went down to the store where mother and father traded and received a present.
I surely liked to go with my friends to celebrate Jack and Green Day. We would dress in green costumes and go into every home and recite: “Here comes Happy Jack, with his wife and family at his back. Out of nine I’ve got but five, and half of them are starved alive.” All the children would go with Happy Jack and when all the houses were visited, Happy Jack too us to the hills where we gathered flowers and played games.
Whitsuntide was another of our holidays, one of the biggest. It was celebrated during the first part of June with a large party and dancing in the open fields. Tuesday was called salt Tuesday, on this day mother made all the pancakes we could eat.
Another holiday was Good Friday on the Friday before Easter. On this day we worshipped Christ because it represented the day He was crucified. We always ate hot cross buns on this day.
Mother always went to market on Saturday morning with her eight passenger van drawn by one horse (the horse was blind but that did not daunt her spirit.) Some passengers would rather go with her than the regular train cause she would take them where they wanted to go. Everyone from the little street urchin to preacher liked her and called her Aunt Sally. She took vegetables to sell in town and after selling them she took her money and bought little things such as newspapers and meat and sold them to the people along the road, as she returned home. The farmers were waiting at their gates with their pennies for the news from town. It was this ability as a financier that made it possible for her to send money to Zion to help build God’s temple in Salt Lake before she came to America.
Mother was a very good church member and she loved to attend church, but there was no way to go other than to walk. At one time she walked ten miles to a Mormon meeting. She had a small boy and had no one to leave him with, so she carried him in her arms all the way there and back. She knew when she left she would have to walk all the way because no one ever stopped to give a pedestrian a ride. That tiny boy, my children, was your Uncle Jim Gilbert.
Mother was very anxious to get her family to America. However, it was impossible for all of us to go at once due to our lack of money; therefore, one of us came at a time, each helping the other.
In 1876 when I was seventeen it was my turn to come to America, of course, I was very anxious and excited. I made ready and started on my way traveling as far as London the first day. I had no place to stay that night, my only alternative was to stay at the station but then some Mormon missionaries came to my rescue and took me to the mission home and gave me a good bed and food. The missionaries knew me by the blue ribbon mother pinned on my shoulder. When I arrived at the mission home there was twenty-five dollars waiting for me from my brother, Elijah. I stayed there that night and started for Liverpool early the next morning. I boarded the steamship “Wyoming” about dusk that night and set sail for America. There were other Mormons sailing on the same ship. Our ship could only travel from ten to fifteen knots an hour (a nautical mile is 2,025 yards long.) We stood on deck with a homesick feeling watching dear Old England disappear from our sight. We knew we would never see our dear old land again as we rode away sadly but happy.
While on the sea there was a very dense fog during which ever-one was shut down below not knowing whether they would see light again or not. The whistle blew every two minutes to prevent wrecking with another ship. A wooden bucket was let down into the water every little while to test it to see if we were approaching an iceberg. When the fog cleared we were allowed to come on deck again.
I couldn’t afford to ride first class so I rode in the steerage. My bed was alive with bed bugs. I drank coffee made from water in which dirty potatoes had been boiled. Dry bread was given me with the coffee. Meat was given me but twice during the whole trip. Finally, after nine days of hard riding and suffering we could see that we were approaching the shores of America. I, along with the rest of the crew gave some hearty yells, all aboard! New York! I was certainly happy to set my feet once more on solid ground even though it was a strange land.
Left alone in a strange country I wandered around to see what I could. I came upon a place where a minister was speaking. I listened to him for a time. He said “I feel sorry for those people who are going to Utah.” (But how I know I wouldn’t have changed places with him for the world). I didn’t have a place to go so I went to Castle Garden, a place where most of the Mormon immigrants stayed. They had had a large fire and were just beginning to rebuild, we just threw our blankets down anywhere and stretched out to sleep. It was here that I expected to get money from my folks to take me to Utah but I was disappointed. I waited five days for it and when it didn’t come I decided to go back home, working my way back on the ship. However, the church came to the rescue. My ticket to Utah and my meals which amounted to fifty-six dollars was paid by the Perpetual Emigration Fund.
There were five days on the train from New York to Ogden. There was vast flocks of turkeys on the way across the plains and some of the men got off the train to kill them just for pleasure. The railway was on an upgrade and went so slow that men could easily catch it again if they wanted to get off.
When the train stopped for everyone to get lunch I had to go without because I didn’t have the price. I sat and waited in the car while the rest ate. When I got off the train at Ogden, I still had no money to take me to Logan. The railroad agent gave me a fare to Logan and kept my trunk as security which I later claimed for three dollars. From Logan I went to the church farm which is now the college farm at the Utah State Agricultural College. My brother, Elijah was working on this farm which was owned by Brigham Young.
A little while before Brigham Young died he and his apostles traveled in carriages from Salt Lake to visit all the settlements. When they came to Richmond we were lines up on both sides of the street waving our handkerchiefs and throwing what few flowers we had. Soon after he arrived in Salt Lake after this trip he died and President John Taylor was made head of the Church.
In the summer of 1876 when I was eighteen years old President Young asked everyone to get baptized again because the church records had been lost. The ditch was dammed and everyone was baptized again. On this occasion I was baptized for the first time by Albert Monson and confirmed by Thomas Moore. Bishop Merrill (who later became an apostle) ordained me a deacon and also made me President of the deacon’s quorum. I was ordained an elder by Lars C. Johnson about 1880 and was ordained a high priest by William Kirkup of Franklin.
The only reason I came to America was because my mother wanted me to. I cared nothing about religion, but after hearing President Young and other church leaders speak I became very interested and did all I could to help the church. Because of my lack of education I was unable to accomplish as much as I would like to have done. I knew whatever I put into the church would come back to me one hundred fold.
In 1878 father and mother with most of the remainder of the family left their home and set sail for America. My brother and I sent money amounting to $500 to bring them. My brother, George never did leave England but was baptized into the church by my brother, Elijah, who went back to England to fill a mission and also to gather genealogy about the year 1910. He also baptized George’s wife, Ellen, into the church. When father and mother came they settle in Richmond where I had been for two years. They arrived here in the fall of 1878.
I went to work for a Mr. Halversen who was later to be my step-father-in-law. It was in this home that I met the woman who later became my wife. And bless her soul she is still by my side the same sweet girl. She has shared with me the dangers, trials and privations of pioneer life. No other has, or ever can, take her place. (Since this was written my wife has passed away.) I was working in connection with the tithing office in Richmond where Mr. Halverson was the clerk. He asked me to work for him on his farm which I did. While working I was paid my wages in livestock. I received three cows which I drove to Logan to pay the church emigration fund. I was very thankful to get paid. When I took Amelia, your grandmother to a dance we had to ride horse back because she lived about a mile south of Richmond. Sometimes we would walk but more often she rode in the saddle and I would ride behind. We paid fifty cents for a ticket and danced quadrilles and waltzes from eight o’clock until midnight. We always went early to get our money’s worth. Everyone told me I had the finest girl in Richmond and they were right.
When we went to conference in Salt Lake City we traveled in a covered wagon. It took us two and half days to go and the same to return.
Before I was a member I worked for the L.D.S. church and received one bushel of wheat a day for pay. The church always kept one bushel out of every ten for tithing. I am happy that it was made possible for me to pay tithing before I joined the church.
My brother, Elijah, and I bought an acre and quarter of land in Richmond, Utah, with a log cabin on it the second year I was in this country. I later bought Elijah’s share. It was in this cabin my father and mother lived when they came to America.
I would like to tell you a little experience we had out in Montana. If the Lord had not blessed us we wouldn’t be here to tell the story. After the railroad was finished one of the men from Richmond, Peter Christensen, hired myself and three other men to drive the mules with several wagons and horses to Montana. When we left Beaver Canyon we thought we were off for a lark, the weather was nice and warm and remained so until the second day of our journey homeward. We stayed over for a couple of days before beginning our homeward journey. On the first night out it began to snow and the weather turned very cold. There was no place to stay out under Go’s great canopy, so we built a fire out in the open and tried to get warm before we took our bed in the wagon. When arising in the morning our boots were so frozen it was almost impossible to put them on, despairing of trying to get into them each morning, I decided to wear mine night and day. Despite the wet, cold quilts, the frozen food, shivering mules, and other hardships we encountered during that trip, we arrived home safely from our five-hundred mile trip by wagon.
When I was twenty-three years of age I felt that I was now old enough and capable to supporting a wife. I had knocked around so much I wanted to settle down and have a home with a wife and children. I had lived in the same home with Amelia, your grandmother, for some time and we had become very dear friends. During bad weather I always took the horse and went to the school house to get her after school.
As our friendship grew into love we planned to make a home for ourselves. We were unable to get married for sometime because had nothing to put in our house.
A man by the name of Hyrum Watson asked me to join him on a trip to take supplies up into the Mackay country to some mining districts called Monanza and Custer. We were the first to bring supplies; therefore, we made good money. My partner wanted to spend his at the saloons but I had definite plans for mine so I went on to bed while he played pool.
In July 1880 Amelia and I made the two-and-a-half day journey to Salt Lake City and were married in the endowment house. It was a small house in the northwest corner of the Temple Block. It was about the size of two small rooms, most of the temple work with the exception of the work for the dead was carried on in this house before the temple was built. Now we have a temple much closer. I am happy I was able to work on the Logan Temple. I hauled a lot of gravel and rock, brought seventy two loads of rock out of Green Canyon. I put in close to six months labor on the temple I was told my donation amounted to about five hundred dollars if paid in cash I was able to send fifty dollars in cash to the Salt Lake Temple.
My wife, Amelia, came from a well-to-do family of sturdy pioneers who lived in Denmark but they left the old country and most of their wealth to come to Utah for the gospel. Your grandmother came to me with a dowery any bride would be proud of. She brought to our home a cow, some pigs, and chickens, a feather bed, and several quilts. These things meant a lot us. I had one hundred dollars, a log cabin, and an acre and a quarter of land on which my mother and father were living. We also purchased a quarter section from the government; this was the land where Uncle Elijah used to live. There was a little log house where Mrs. A.H. Harding’s store now stands in Fairview, Idaho. It was in this little log house where your grandmother and I started our married life. We lived here during the summer but returned to Richmond the first few years for the coldest winter months because we couldn’t make a living. This quarter section being in Uncle Elijah’s name would legally be his so I decided to homestead the quarter section where we now live although it was a worthless piece of land. I was offered a span of mares for it. The man told me the land was not worth much and I answered him “Neither are the mares”. However, I homesteaded the quarter section but it was to keep the land. I didn’t know where we would get the money but the Lord did provide.
You know there was settlement in Franklin before any other place in Idaho, that remained a permanent settlement. It was in this town that we went to make the necessary purchases to begin our housekeeping. We went to Franklin with a team and wagon. We bought a stove, a wooden candy bucket to use for carrying water and for milking, four chairs, some dishes and milk pans. After they were loaded in the wagon I happened to think I didn’t have a pitchfork. Knowing I didn’t have any money left with which to buy one, we took a chair back and traded it for a pitchfork. Brother Robert Lowe was the clerk and he understood.
Just a few years after we were married in fact just the day before your Aunt Carrie was born, your grandmother’s folks in Denmark sent her two hundred and fifty dollars. That was the day our ship came in. with part of this money your grandmother bought a sewing machine and made our shirts and lot of things we weren’t able to have before. She knew I needed a harness so what did she do but buy one for me. She paid fifty dollars for it. Can you beat that. We should have made good with that kind of team work. She remembered the Lord’s tenth and wanted it paid immediately, so I walked two miles to the home of the Bishop and paid him $35 tithing. The rest was used for different things we needed in the home. Be this time we had built a little log house on our own land. I had to camp in Willow Flat over night every time I brought a load of logs for the house. All of the logs came from Willow Flat for our large one-room log house. Some of the logs were sawed into boards for the roof.
We didn’t know for a long time whether we would be able to make it on the Fairview place or not. the winds blew so hard, the grasshoppers were so thick, the land was so dry, and there was no way of irrigating it. For four or five seasons the Bishop William Lewis prayed the Lord to bless the land between the two rivers, (Bear River and Cub River) that the frost, would stay off. After this blessing had been granted us, we began to prosper a little in the land, out of which our tithing was always paid and the Lord continues to bless us. At this time we belonged to the Lewiston Ward.
On one occasion President Heber J. Grant who was then an apostle of the church attended a meeting in Fairview following conference in Preston; he was unable to make the trip to and from Salt Lake City in one day, he stayed over night at our place. In the morning just before train time your Aunt Erma, who was then a tiny girl of six years asked President Grant to sing for her. He remarked he always had time to sing. He sang to her and as a result he missed his train. Your Uncle William had to take him to Richmond later to catch another train. President Grant said he didn’t want to catch that other train anyway.
During the summer of 1905 your grandmother and I were on our way to Franklin to do some trading, we had a span of ponies on a buggy and a case of eggs in the back; the team was hard to manage and it made your grandmother nervous, so when we reached the top of the steep hill just this side of Franklin she climbed out and walked down the hill. At the top of the hill the buggy tipped over the horses became frightened and started to run. They dragged me over a hundred yards then the horses stopped. A neighbor who saw the accident reached me soon. Your grandmother tried to help me stand up but I couldn’t because I was hurt too badly. They brought me home in a white top buggy and tried to get a doctor for me but I wouldn’t have one because I didn’t have any faith in them. I was in bed for a month then I gradually got so I could stand and walk but I have been lame ever since.
I remember when I was driving my first automobile, I was coming back from Lewiston, Utah, and your Uncle Chris was in the car he said, “Turn, turn”. But I didn’t realize it was a corner so into the ditch I ran, I said to your Uncle Chris. “Let’s hurry and get out of here before somebody sees us.”
Did you know your grandmother and I had fourteen children and eight of them are still living. We have fifty-seven grandchildren and forty-seven great grand children.
I shall never cease being grateful that my mother insisted on us coming to this country and accepting the gospel. I believe the church will yet achieve many wonderful things. There is nothing on this earth I appreciate as I do the gospel. Because of this blessed gospel I know that when I cross the bar I’ll meet your grandmother who left us June 7, 1939.
At the sunset of my life, I often sit in my rocking chair reflect on the many changes that have taken place since we first viewed this unclaimed and untamed homestead of ours. To the south I see vast acres of tall waving sage sprinkled with wheat grass. To the east I see ant beds two and three feet high, masses of thorny cactuses sheltering huge blow snakes. I hear the lonely call of the hoot owl, the undefiled howl of the wolf and coyote. There are no trees, no irrigating ditches, no fences, no neighbors, just barren waste. Worm Creek was the only stream of water between the two rivers, the location of which was too low to be of any use. We were young, strong, and full of courage. We were very poor and had little except a trust in the Lord and in each other. We had a strong determination and had come to stay. Thank God for the advantages of poverty. Poverty has taught us to more fully appreciate the blessings and the bounties of life. From that uninviting beginning we have struggled and labored and put forth every possible effort to fulfill our earthly mission. We are thankful for the things we have been able to accomplish.
We have been privileged to help build four temples, five churches, one church school to send two boys on missions, and help with temple genealogical research work. I was able to serve as a home missionary and also as a ward teacher.
I was able to establish the Lewiston State Bank and was a director until I resigned because of old age, was instrumental in securing the Low Spring for the Fairview water system.
The Lewiston Cub River Irrigation Company called me to serve on their board for several years. We obtained water from Bear Lake then changed the name to Lewiston Bear Lake Irrigation Company. We leased one hundred second feet of water from the Utah Power and Light Company who was glad to have the water come this way instead of letting an eastern company take it over into the Portneuf River at Soda Springs. In order to get water out of Bear River it was necessary to have pumps which cost us around $100,000. We pumped the water up an embankment eighty-four feet high. We assessed the stockholders in order to pay for the pumps.
We had to dig a canal fifty rods longs from Bear River to where the pump et, then a large culvert eight-four feet long and large enough for a man to walk through was built up the hill. A big canal was built to take the water into Lewiston canal. It was impossible to get the water into our ditches, so we installed another pump, to pump the water out of the Lewiston ditch into our ditch, and now we are having to dig drains to get rid of the water.
We owned one-half interest in the Fairview Mercantile Company, also had interest in the Richmond Sego Milk Condenser, Cache Auto in Logan, Stanger Implement of Preston, Utah Power and Light Company and the Morning Milk Company.
Yes, my grandchildren, I still hear the call of the land, but now it comes from loaded trains running up and down the valley from passing automobiles and commercial trucks. Every morning I hear the whistle of two milk factories, and every eight hours during the beet harvest season I hear two sugar factories calling a fresh crew of men to relieve the weary workers departing for their various homes. They are fighting to claim their place in this world as we had to fight to claim ours.
This entire valley has undergone a great change. It seems to be another world with a different civilization, its people speaking to each other casually over wire instead of carrying messages through wind and storm; touching buttons for light and heat, turning radio dials for music, song and speech, tractors turning the yellow soil, trucks hurrying over paved highways. Truthfully this desert valley has blossomed as a rose.
My grandchildren do not allow yourselves to grow old. When you feel that you cannot do a thing get up and do it. Your mothers and fathers have urged me to have someone live with me since your grandmother left us but I would rather die than be an old man with a nurse.
I remember as a child around the fireplace mother used to say:
“Wash your children clean and white;
God may call you any night,
“Still me thinks I wait in fear,
For that wonder. . . glorious year—
“I will wash me clean and white
God may call me any night:
When I pass away I should like to have everything just like it was when your grandmother left us. I should like to have those twelve stalwart grandsons of mine bear my last remains.
(End of own story)
On the morning of November 22, 1940, he arose and went about his daily routine as usual. For nearly a week he had been watching the process of new happy grinder being put together. In his mind he worked along with the men putting every part in place. After putting in a full day at the grinder he retired at ten P.M. He rested until 2 A.M. when he was awakened by a pain in his heart. He gradually grew worse until Sunday morning when the children were all summoned to his bedside some friends were also present, George L. Stanger, a business associate and very dear friend was with him when he bade us all good-bye and told us that his wife had come for him and it was time for him to go. At eleven A.M. his spirit passed on to God’s keeping.
When he left the home for his last resting place he was borne by those twelve stalwart grandsons: Otis, Armond and Douglas Hall of Inkom, Idaho; Lamont and Adrian Wilcox of Thornton, Idaho; Orval and Glenn Smith, Delbert and Virgil Knudsen, Demar and Barlow Gilbert and Martell Rawlings all of Preston. The children who survived him are Carrie G. Knudsen, Nellie G. Smith, William D./Gilbert, Etta G./Hobbs, Ada G./Hall, Frank J. Gilbert, Amy G. Hyde, and Erma G. Rawlings.
Queer that human emotions can be as strong as prairie fire and then die down to smoldering embers, turn to white ashes and scatter to the four winds of the past, but there is one gift handed down from our pioneer parents that still remains. It is immaterial but never the less existent. It is something typically and sturdily American, which has not been entirely extinguished by their leaving us. It is a remembrance of them to carry on – A most wonderful heritage.