Life Sketch of Zerviah G Smith
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Sketch of the Life of Zerviah Greene Smith
Written by Zerviah Greene Smith
October 1859 in beautiful Cache Valley, Smithfield City was founded. Summit Creek, which ran down through the city, was a fair sized stream of pure clear sparkling water, fed from the snows of the lofty mountains to the east. The mountains were covered with virgin forests. The streams were well stocked with trout, their banks covered with tall cottonwood trees and willows, also violets, buttercups and wild flowers grew along their mossy banks. Wild chicken, deer and other game were plentiful. To the west stretched the natural meadows. The higher ground was covered with a sturdy growth of sage brush.
It was here on the 28th of January 1874, when everything was covered with snow drifts, a new little twig appeared on a limb of the Greene Family Tree. It was frail and tender at first but it finely grew and developed until it was an individual branch and now it has become a limb with many branches.
I was the second child of Evan M. and Susie Platt Greene. My brother, Joseph, was two years older. I had brown eyes and long black hair which my mother spent a lot of time brushing and curling around her finger. Joseph had light hair and blue eyes. My father gave me the name of Zerviah Susie, but I was always called Vira.
When I was one year old my father was called by President Brigham Young to go on a mission and take his family to Dixie in the southern part of Utah. He was called to preside over the Saints in Springdale, Iron County, Utah. At this time he was well located in Smithfield. He was the postmaster and City Recorder, owned two homes, a large barn, horses, cows, chickens, an orchard, a garden, and some of the best farming land in the south field. It was not easy to sell property in those early pioneer days and he could only take the necessary things that would go in the covered wagon. After traveling over rough, rocky roads for several weeks, we arrived at our destination, Springdale, Utah. It is located just where the dugway starts up to Zion’s Canyon.
My first recollections go back to this place. I remember the mountains, the high cliffs and sand hills with the beautiful colors of rose, red, burnt orange, brown, tan, blue and lavender which are so picturesque in Southern Utah. The bright sunshine would come over the mountain peaks about 9 am and would set about 4 pm leaving long summer twilight. There had been settlers before, but they had trouble with the Indians and had moved. We lived in one of their cabins. It was a one room log cabin. There was no foundation under it which made it convenient for snakes, lizards, horny toads, and all creeping things to crawl around under the floor. Dixie was alive with all kinds of creepers. There was one door to the cabin. It swung on leather hinges and opened with a wooden latch and string. There were two windows. A fireplace provided the means for cooking which was done over the coals in a bake kettle. A bed stead was built in one corner of the room. The springs were made of heavy rope fastened criss cross over the frame, a tick stuffed with straw was covered with white sheets and a patchwork quilt, and a white valance went around the bottom of the bed and hung to the floor. My brother and I slept on a trundle bed which could be pushed under the big bed in the daytime. A little cupboard stood by the bed where the clean linens were kept. On the cupboard stood a black, lacquered tea box that had come from China. In this box mother kept handkerchiefs, collars, lace and a few English ornaments. The cupboard was a few open shelves nailed to the wall. It had a curtain hung around it to keep the dust and flies from the dishes. Mother had a few choice dishes that had come from England. There was a table made of rough lumber, and two homemade chairs with rawhide bottoms. Under one window there was a wash bench which held a brass water bucket, a wash basin, a soap dish which held a bar of homemade soap. A gourd dipper hung from a nail and was used for a family drinking cup.
A rock fence stood about three feet high along the front of the house. A large stream of water ran along beyond the fence. Back of the house was a large peach orchard. I will never forget the flavor of those delicious peaches. There were also a few apples, apricots, pears and fig trees. Grape vines climbed up over a trellis, bearing large juicy grapes. We had no sugar or cans to take care of the peaches so they had to be cut and put in the sun to dry. After they were dried there was no place to sell them. Father brought a small brass bucket home from Salt Lake City in payment for mother’s dried peaches which she had spent the summer in drying. We had sweet potatoes, beans, peas, cucumbers and a large abundance of big juicy watermelons. Mother boiled down some of the watermelon juice until it thickened and could be used for syrup. We called it watermelon molasses. I remember of picking white fluffy cotton from the pod on the brown dry stalk. The Virgin River coming from Zion’s Canyon, with its muddy water, flowed lazily along beyond the orchard and on to the valley below.
I remember distinctly when my brother Molbourne was born on the 26th of October 1876. He was a beautiful baby with lots of black hair and big black eyes. My baby sister, Bessie, came to us on the 28th of April 1879. I was very happy to have a sister. I wanted to carry her around and play with her like I did my doll. Mother said I could not carry her, but that I could sit in my little chair and rock her to sleep.
I was four years old when Santa brought me my first doll. It was a wax doll with blue eyes and flaxen hair. I was so thrilled and happy with it I spent many hours dressing the doll and rocking it in my little rocking chair. The chair had a rawhide bottom, and a pretty cushion mother made for it. While sitting in this chair, I had my first sewing lessons, making a quilt for my doll.
I remember when neighbor children came to play, we played hide and go seek around the house, under the grapevines and down in the orchard. We liked to run back and forth from the doorstep down the path, through the opening in the rock wall fence, across the bridge, over the canal, and then out to the road. We ran laughing and trying to see who could run the fastest. One day quite a large group went up in the hills on a picnic. It was Lannie Homer’s birthday. We found a large flat rock for a table. A cloth was spread over it. We unpacked the lunch and had a jolly good time. Sometimes the neighbors got together and had Sunday school and meeting out in the orchard. We were frequently visited by Indians asking for biscuits.
It was very hot in the summertime. I remember Joseph and I lying on the bed in the daytime with a wet cloth over our eyes to protect them from the heat.
I think I was never more frightened than the day mother was cooking dinner over the blaze in the fireplace. A spark flew from the fire onto her and began to burn the back of her dress. If father had not been there to smother the blaze, she would have been badly burned. I was so frightened I could not speak.
We had ice cold water that was dipped from a spring that bubbled up from the bank of the ditch that ran down through the orchard. This water contained malaria germs. All but Mother and Joseph contracted malaria fever. Father was not able to work, therefore Pres. Young sent him a letter that released him from his mission. When I was five years old and Bessie was just six weeks old we said a goodbye to neighbors and friends and started on a long journey to make our home in Escalante, Garfield County, Utah. I had a chill every day, Father had one every other day and Molbourne had one every third day. We traveled 3 miles down to Rockville where we stayed all night. There was a box fastened on the back of the wagon. It contained a few chickens and the can of watermelon syrup. The jolting of the wagon had rubbed a hole in the can which caused some of the syrup to leak out. We left the chickens of the remaining syrup at the only store in Rockville. Was a disappointment to leave the syrup. While at the store mother stepped on the scales with Bessie in her arms; they weighed 100 pounds together. We started our journey again. When father’s chill started, mother would take the lines and drive the horses with the baby in her lap until we came to a camping place. Then we would stop until a father was able to drive again. I spent most of my time on the bed in the back seat the mother had made for me. I distinctly remember the jolting of the wagon over the rocks and rough roads, I also remember the dust. Mother cut my hair short for the trip. She told me once when she looked at me that all she could see with my eyes, the dust was so thick in my face.
When we got to Cedar City, we stopped at the home of Brother Jones, a friend of Father’s. Father had been wishing all morning for a cold drink of buttermilk, Sister Johnson had churned that morning so Father had all he could drink. We had dinner with them and stayed all night. Before we left Sister Jones gave me a set of quilt blocks, cut already to sew together, they were pink and green calico pieces. I saved them and had them quilted to go in my trousseau when I was married . Was a beautiful quilt and we used it for years.
When we started on our trip again, we had to go over a high mountain with a 15 mile dug way. The mountains were covered with pine trees. The road let us into a beautiful canyon. In this canyon father and other members the family had rented dairy ranch for the summer with a large herd of cows. We lived there that summer and made butter and cheese. There were about 14 of us to live there. We lived in a one-room cabin with a large battery for bedrooms and a dining room.
It was a beautiful place to live and the fresh mountain air seemed to be just what was needed to cure the chills and fever for everyone, except me. My body was in such a weakened condition that no matter what we did it had no effect. The children would go out in the early morning and gather pretty rocks, shells and wild spring flowers. If I joined them a chill would come on and I would have to go to bed with my teeth chattering and my body shaking from head to foot. Mother would give me ginger tea, a quinine pill and a hot iron to my feet. In about one hour my temperature would rise to fever heat with the terrific headache and backache. I would tumble and toss until nearly morning. I would then be too weak and tired to get up.
One day a storm started suddenly. Rainwater rushed down the mountain sides in torrents, the canyon road was like a river. There was a cellar under the cabin were mother’s boxes and a tin trunk were stored. In a few minutes the cellar was full of water and the boxes had to be fished out. When the storm passed the boxes were open and the contents unpacked and put on the line to dry. My little wax doll was soaked, its hair came off, the paint and wax were washed from its face, in fact, it fell to pieces. My heart ached with disappointment. It was about two years before I had another doll. Father brought me one from Salt Lake City. The doll had a china head with black hair, blue eyes and pink cheeks. It was a beautiful doll, but I did not enjoy it long because my little sister got it and dropped it on the rock art in front of the fireplace. Its head was broken in tiny pieces. Mother had pieces of lace and yards of ribbon she had brought from England, they were all water stained from the flood.
When fall and cool weather came, it was time to move into Escalante. The house that was being built for mother was not completed, so we had to remain in the canyon until it was finished. It was quite lonely after the others left, and it got cold and stormy. Joseph and I would go up the hillside together dry branches that the phone from the trees. We would carry them to the cabin to burn the big fireplace. This would give form to light in the evenings. We didn’t have lamps are candles, but sometimes mother would put a little fat in a dish, then place a little piece of cloth or string in the fat and light one end of it with a lighted stick from the fire. This would give a flickering light for little while. We had very few matches.
One day we heard the bleating of a little lamb, we found it and brought it to the house. It was a tiny little thing that had been too weak to follow the herd. We gave it milk and tied it near the house so would not get lost. As the days went by it grew stronger and we enjoyed playing with it. One day though, a large herd of sheep, that were being moved to winter pastures, came down the canyon. We untied the little lamb and let it go with the herd.
Early one morning we were out gathering wood when a deer with big antlers came running towards us. When it saw us, it stopped, looked at us for a minute, then turned and ran away. It was so graceful as it ran out of sight. I remember the birds in the canyon, there were so many different kinds. The bird that appealed to the me most was the blue jay. It was a large bird that had a topknot of feathers on its head.
Snow had fallen, Christmas was near. Joseph and I had talked and wondered if Santa would know where to find us. Late Christmas Eve father came, he placed a large log on the fire. The blaze warmed and lighted the room. We had supper and went to bed. The next morning, to our surprise, Santa has found us and left a gift. We each had a beautiful linen picture book. Joseph’s was a story of a little boy from the city visiting his grandparents on the farm. There are beautifully colored pictures of the farmhouse, the red barn, and the animals, the pasture, the Orchard and the lake. It also showed the train bringing his father to take him back home. My book contained Bible stories with pictures of baby Moses in a basket among the bulrushes, the boy David with his harp and the sheep on the hillside, Daniel in the lion’s den and others. Our grandmother Platt had mailed the books to us from England. They had crossed the ocean, the plains, over the mountains and they come to us in the canyon in the southeastern part of Utah. They arrived just in time for Christmas. As I think back now I am sure my mother’s prayers had been answered. On Christmas Day, 1879, we went to Escalante to live.
The winter was cold, the millrace froze over and the mill was closed for several weeks. We had no flour, but there was plenty of corn, that had to be ground in a coffee mill. The bread made from this course meal was all we had until spring when the fire mill could be operated again. When the first flower came, mother made biscuits for dinner. I will never forget how good they tasted.
I was sick all winter. One day a lady called on mother to visit and was surprised to see my condition. That evening she sent address chicken, a loaf of white bread, some butter, a cup of sugar and a glass of jelly to me. I drink some of the chicken broth, but was too sick and weeks to eat anything. She was a kind sympathetic lady, and was always a dear neighbor.
When warm weather arrived, my health improved and I was able to play with the other children. I wanted to go to Sunday school but I had nothing suitable to wear, therefore, mother made me a pretty dress from some English lawn that grandmother had sent for my birthday. Also she made me a new hat. She made the hat by using a little pan the size of my head. Over the pan she molded several layers of white muslin dipped in thick starch. Then she cut some pieces of material the shape of a hat rim and placed them flat on the table around the pan. When it was dry she re moved it from the pan and it fit nicely. She trimmed the hat with blue ribbon. I had grown during the winter and my shoes were too small. There were none in the store that would fit me, so mother cut a pair of shoes from some homemade material she had left after making some trousers for father. They were high top shoes made with eyelets. When I put them on and laced them up the front I thought they were the nicest shoes I had ever seen. When Sunday morning came, I was proud and happy as I strutted to Sunday school. I could see the blue streamers blowing out behind me in the breeze and my shoes were soft like moccasins, but when I was seated in a class of little girls, I was a stranger. None of the girls knew me and I did not know them. They all stared and one noticed my shoes, she whispered to the girl next to her and pointed to my feet. They whisper some more and giggled. Soon the entire class was looking at me. The pride and joy vanished and I was embarrassed. I did not hear the lesson or the stories and when I got home I cried and told mother the little girls had made fun of my shoes.
I was lonesome until school started. I was now six years old and ready to go to school. I soon became acquainted and had some very dear little friends. I loved my school teachers, Sister Schow and Sister Jane Coleman. They were middle-aged ladies and were very kind and considerate of the children. During the time I went to school I learned to read and write, and also to knit and crochet lace. I still have a little red songbook for primary and a Sunday school lesson book that my father gave me.
I remember some of the apostles visiting and Escalante. They sent word that they were coming, so great preparations were made to welcome them. On the day they were to arrive we were dressed in our best close and mad at 10 o’clock. Sr. Schow had the primary children practice songs for the occasion. We stood on the street for hours waiting for them. They drove into town about 3 o’clock., We started to sing but they drove right past and did not even look at us. The horses kicked up so much dust that perhaps they could not see us. We were covered with dust. No doubt the visitors were tired.
In the summer 1881 my mother’s sister came from England and married Thomas Blake. Thomas had come over from England first, and had waited for her to come. He went away to work during the summer so Aunt Betty came to Escalante to visit us. We greatly enjoyed Aunt Betty. She was full of fun and would play games with us and was always ready to go to Sunday school with us or join whatever we were doing. While and Betty was with us, on June 15, 1881, my brother John Platt was born. He had blue eyes and light hair. We were proud of our baby brother.
In the fall, father take Aunt Betty home, then he went to Elba, Idaho, where other members of the family had purchased land and were making their homes. He stayed all winter then went to Smithfield to visit mother’s parents who had just come from England. He visited a few days in Salt Lake City and attended April conference. Then he started for Escalante, with his team and wagon. Father took a cold that settled in his lungs, because the weather was stormy and he had to camp out at night. When he reached Clover Flatt, he stopped at his friend’s home, Isaac Riddle. He did not feel like traveling the next morning, so he decided to stay for a while. There were several of his friends who desired a patriarchal blessing. Soon people were coming from all over the valley to receive a blessing. His cold became more severe and these dear friends put him to bed and cared for him. He grew weaker so they sent for mother. The mailman brought the letter to Escalante at noon, mother showed the letter to the Bishop, who advised her to go back with the mailman. The mailman drove a span of horses hitched to a buckboard. Mother took the 10-month-old baby and 10-year-old Joseph. After mother kissed me goodbye, I ran around the house so she would not see me cry. My father sister, Aunt Eliza Decker, lived in a dugout at the side of our house. I think I spent most of the time on top of the dugout or on the pole fence watching the road to see if a covered wagon was coming.
Mother arrived at the ranch at father’s bedside just two hours before he died. She was there among strangers, 40 miles from home. There were no telephones, telegraphs, or trains. She could only write a letter to reach them. She knew that arrangements had been made for her to move from Escalante, therefore she decided to bury father at the ranch where he died. She found a bolt of white cloth in father’s wagon which was used to make his burial clothes and to cover a rough board coffin.
A young Swedish lady gave him her temple apron because he had given her a blessing. The lady died a short time after and when mother heard of her death, she wondered what apron would be used for her. I have heard mother speak about it several times. A nice funeral service was arranged for father, and the people were kind to mother. They did everything they could to make it easy for her. One of the Riddle boys drove the team home. Mother was so brave through it all. Father’s death was a great disappointment to all the family, we had not seen him since the summer before and now he would never come back. The last thing he said to mother was, ”Have prayer with the children”. Mother always did.
We stated Escalante until July when Danny, my half-brother, came for us. He baptized me in the Escalante River, along with several other children. I had waited since January 28 to be baptized by my father.
Our home and everything that could not be put in the wagon was traded for cows and horses. There was not room for my little rocking chair, that father had brother Gifford make for me, while we lived in Springdale. I gave it to my dearest little friend, Caroline Schow. When the wagons were loaded we said goodbye to our neighbors and friends, and started on the long trip.
We camped the first night on top of the mountain. The view was beautiful for I was able to look for miles and miles in every direction. The odor of the pines was exhilarating, the moonlight made long shadows of the pine trees. The next morning the bedding was folded and put in the back of the wagon. Mother put the pillows on top of the wagon cover while she arranged the quilts. She forgot about the pillows and when the wagon started the pillows slid off the back of the wagon. No one saw them fall. No longer did mother have pillows on which to rest her weary head.
Danny was called D.K. He and analyze a road in the first wagon, the extra horses were tied to the back there wagon. Mother drove the other team and I sat up in the front with her and held the baby. I would get very tired holding onto the baby and bracing myself so I wouldn’t fall down on the horses while jolting over the rough roads. Molbourne and Bessie rode in the back of the wagon on the bedding. Joseph, and a young man who was traveling with us, rode horses and drove the cows.
We camped one night at Clover Flatt, near the Riddlel ranch. Mother took us to meet the family and express her gratitude for their kindness to her and for the tender care they gave father during his illness. We had to leave early the next morning so we did not get to visit father’s grave on a rocky hillside. One day my half-sister Nancy Young and her family met us. We camped and visit with them. A trade was made and we left the cows with them. One night we stayed at the home of uncle John Y. Green, my father’s brother, who had passed on some years before. His family was very nice to us. Before we left, Olive, their youngest daughter, gave me her doll. It was as large as a baby, but was dressed as a lady.
It took us three weeks to reach Salt Lake City. Here we stayed a few days with my sister, Lula, to visit and rest. Father’s first wife, Aunt Susan, was there. Mother told her of the sad experience she had passed through. They both wept together and tried to console each other for they both love the same one who had passed on. It took us nearly another week to reach Smithfield where we are going to stay. D.K. went on to Idaho.
Grandfather Platt had bought a city lot with one log room. During the summer he had built another room, so he let us move into the new room and we lived there that winter. I was happy not to be jogging around in a wagon, and it was nice to get acquainted with my grandparents and applies Hannah and her family. Her children and ours were about the same age, so we had fun together. Mother got work, a lady wanted her to go to her home and do her washing. Mother was glad because she needed the money to buy clothes and shoes for us for the winter. She talked to me and said, “if I take this work you will have to take care of the little ones and the house”. I was then nine years old. As I remember, I took complete care of the baby from that time on. She had to be to work at 7 AM I had to wash, dress and combthe younger children’s hair, fix breakfast, wash dishes, make beds, sweep the floor, keep the fire going, fix lunch and rock the baby to sleep for his afternoon nap. When the baby woke up I would take the little ones for a walk. We go to Aunt choose Hannah’s and play out in the orchard, or out in the barn where there was a big swing. I had great fun play with my cousins. They had an orchard with early and late apples, raspberries, gooseberries and currents. When the fruit was ripe I would help the girls pick it. I used to take Bessie and John out to feed the chickens for grandmother. They thought it was fun to throw the golden grain and watch the chickens crowd around each other to pick it up.
If I had trouble of any kind, grandmother would come and help me. She would bring things in for us to eat, she made English tea cakes, cookies and tarts which we were all very fond of. Grandmother was sweet and patient with us, sometimes she would help me start the fire or help me was something I was having trouble with. That I would get the little ones to sleep I would help her by curing water, bring in the word, sweep her floor or run errands for her.
Joseph helped a neighbor with chores and was way most of the time. Sometimes he would take Molbourne with him, which was a relief to me, as he was such a little mischief.
Mother got more opportunities to wash and clean, so it seemed she was away most of the time. She was able to bias new close and we went to Sunday school. For Christmas that year I got a pair of elastic garters, some hardtack candy and some nuts.
Mother sold father’s horse that was left with her for $60 and bought a piece of land on the hill on the eastern boundary of Smithfield. She also bought a cow and new sewing machine. The next spring some of the neighbors moved a log home room on this land and we moved into it. We took the stove, table, bed, and mothers tin trunk which she brought from England. Grandfather made a cupboard and a large chest for us. We had a little rawhide bottomed rocking chair and two other chairs. Some shelves are built on the wall over the table. There was a wood box and a small keg that we made vinegar in. A nice eight stream of water ran through the lot. We planted some shade trees and some fruit trees and started the garden. The house was on a little hill above the ditch so we had to carry water up the hill.
That summer Joseph went away to work on a ranch in Idaho. He helped take care of a dairy herd where they made butter and cheese. He earned 50 bushels of wheat and a new suit of clothes. I think that was the longer summer I ever spent. Mother was away most every day and Joseph and I had never been separated before. Joseph had always been so nice to me and we never quarreled. The hill was covered with sagebrush and there were no close neighbors. I would hear the trains whistle off in the distance and it would make such a lonesome feeling come over me.
When mother was home we had our washing, ironing, sewing, preserving and churning to do. We sold butter for $.10 per pound and eggs for $.10 per dozen. With this money we bought groceries from the store.
The Indians used to canvas the town and beg for bread, flour and sugar. An old squaw would put her head in the open door and say biscuit. We did not have the bread to spare but I would give them something because I was afraid of them I wanted them to go away. One morning I hung some quilts on the line to air and the Indians made a call, so I gave them some bread. Then the squaw saw the quilts and wanted them. I shook my head and said she could not take them, but she started after them. I took the two little ones by the hand went out. She’d taken one off the line but I took hold of it and pulled it away from her. I quickly took the others from the line, ran into the house and lock the door. I was so frightened. They stayed around to see if they could find something they wanted and then went on their way. We always had family prayers before mother went to work and I’m sure that we were protected by an unseen hand. I have often thought of how mother must’ve worried that stood us when she was away from home.
Mother kept molasses cookies baked for us to eat while she was away. After the morning work was done, often I would put some cookies in a clean cloth in a brass bucket and go to grandmothers for the afternoon. I would hang the bucket on one arm, pick up the baby with the other, go out and lock the door. We would have our cookies to eat when we were hungry. Grandfather was not very well. He sat in his big armchair most of the time. They had a grandfather’s clock that stood on the floor that they had brought from England. I thought it was most beautiful and wonderful thing that was ever made. Grandmother had a cupboard full of English dishes that I was never tired of looking at. She would tell me where she got them, some from Oldham, Blackpool, Rochdale and some were gifts from friends in England. Grandmother was one of the most wonderful persons that ever lived. Years later I made a new dress for her and trimmed one of her English bonnets over. The dress fitted her nicely and the bonnet was very becoming. She was thrilled with them and when she received compliments on how well she looked she told everyone that Vira Greene made them for her.
When mother was through work at night we would go to uncle George’s to milk our cow. Then we would do evening chores, have supper and get things ready for morning. Those were hard days for mother. Some days she worked from 7 AM until 7 PM. The close had to be scrubbed on the washboard, the water carried from the creek and heated over a wood fire in the stove. She had to scrub and mop up the wood floors after the washing was done- all this for $.50. Even though she worked hard for her money, she was always careful to pay a tenth of which she earned to the Bishop for tithing. One day late in the summer she was planning to go to town to do some shopping. She owed five dollars for tithing and she was going to take it with her to the Bishop. As she was ready to leave she looked through the window and noticed her little three-year-old boy who was playing in the yard. His little bare feet were bruised and sore from walking barefoot all summer over the gravel and in the hot sun. She debated about the tithing and some little new shoes. She went to town with a prayer in her heart that she might have the courage to do the right thing. She first went to the tithing office and gave the Bishop the five dollars. Then she went to the store and traded some eggs for some groceries. Next she went to the post office and received a letter which she put in her little English basket and went home. The letter was from a dear relative and when she opened it a crisp five dollar bill dropped out. As she took it in her hand she felt ashamed to think she’d been tempted to use the tithing money. She knew the way would always be opened to her to get the necessary things for children if she trusted our heavenly father. She was grateful for this wonderful testimony.
We went to school the next winter. Joseph made fires in the big old stove to pay for his schooling. He would have a roaring fire and the stove red-hot by the time school started. I swept and dusted the schoolroom to pay my way. I would do the dusting while Joseph was making the fire. I would nearly freeze before the fire was warm. After school I would sweep. We had to pay for our schooling and by our own books. I had to stay home from school on the day’s mother went to work so I did not receive very much schooling. They did not graduate from school, so we had no special goal to aspire to. When we’re old enough we were promoted to the next grade. I had a reader, a grammar, geography, arithmetic, and a copy book to practice writing. Arithmetic was my hardest subject.
We had no daily or even weekly newspapers to read about the happenings in the outside world. We did receive the juvenile instructor once a month, but that was all.
One summer I worked for a neighbor lady and she paid me $.75 a week. I had the housework to do, milk two cows, take care of the milk, churn, wash, iron, feed chickens, carry water and carry wood. She was away from home most of the time and left her three-year-old boy for me to care for.
When I was 15 years old I went to Salt Lake City to help my half-sister Lula Green Richards, with her housework and her four little boys. The boys were Lee Greene Richards, Evan G., Willard G., and Heber G. Richards. It was a new experience for me to catch the train and ride alone to Salt Lake City. In fact it was the first time I had ever been on the train. Mother and I had worked night and day to get my clothing ready for me to make the trip. I was to take the train at 8 AM October 1889, at the Smithfield depot. The train was late and when it came it was the freight train. There was quite a crowd waiting for me. After the train had switched and backed around to pick up more cars, we climbed in the caboose and went to Logan. From Logan we went to Salt Lake City Junction where we met the passenger train. We stopped in Ogden for some time and then arrived in Salt Lake City, after dark. Brother Levi Richards met me and for the first time I wrote on a streetcar. I soon became acquainted with the family and their ways and I enjoyed being with them.
I was 16 years old January 28, 1890. I went home the next September for a visit. In October I returned to Salt Lake City and lived with my father’s sister, Dr. E. M. Van. She was away from home most of the time so I did the housework, answered the phone, and took care of her calls. The doctor had a daughter about my age going to college and her son and his wife lived with her part of the time. I was with them for over a year and that I lived with a Mrs. Chambers for several months. Next, I was an apprentice at a millinery shop where I learned to line and trim hats. I was thrilled with this work. When I was through I was given a certificate and recommendation but there was a depression so I could not find work of this kind. I went home on a visit, and then returned to Salt Lake City and spent one year in the home of Dr. and Mrs. James E. Talmage. I enjoyed being with them. They treated me as one of the family. During that year Prof. Willard Done held a class once a week to instruct the young women mutual officers in giving lessons to their girls. Sister Talmage arranged for me to take the course. I appreciate this privilege more than I can tell.
I attended several young family reunions during this time I lived in Salt Lake City. They were usually held on Pres. Brigham Young’s birthday on the first of June.
When I was young I was of a retiring disposition. I did not dare to take part in Primary unless it was with the group. I did not like to be noticed. When I was in Salt Lake City and I went to church I would hear someone whisper “She is Lula Richards sister”, and when I went home to Smithfield, I was known as Bessie Green’s sister. No one seemed to know me for myself.
After living with the Talmage family, I went home for the summer. I attended M. I. A., and we decided to write a paper as part of the summer program. I was voted to be the editor. I arranged the articles in the paper and wrote news about the girls, their beaus, and their parties. I wrote a continued love story and the girls were always anxious to read the next installment. We had a lot of fun that summer.
On October 1, 1894 my cousin, Hannah Hind and I rented a room in Logan and commenced a course in dressmaking. It was a three-month course and were to learn to draft patterns and cutout dresses.
There were several young ladies working there. One of them we will call Janet. She was stepping out with a young man from Smithfield, George Smith. He used to call at the shop to make dates with her. I knew him, but had never met him until then. He dated Janet during October and November. When Christmas tree near Hannah and I were through with our course and sewing. We both passed with good marks.
One weekend when I went home, mother asked me if I had seen George Smith lately. I said “No, why”? She hesitated a moment and then said, “He called to see me about a week ago and he asked me if I have any objections if he dated you. I said not if it were agreeable to you”. We had a nice talk. He seems to be a nice fellow”. Well I was very much surprised and wondered what about Janet. The next time I came home he called at the door and asked to see me. He invited me to go to the mutual dance with him the next evening. I accepted the invitation and we had a very pleasant evening. On the way home I asked him about Janet. He replied, “She is a nice girl, but not my type. I would like to get better acquainted with you”. We had fun during the Christmas holidays. After the first of the year, my brother Joseph received a call to do missionary work in the Southern States Mission. There were farewell parties and we were busy getting Joseph’s clothes ready for his departure. George was very helpful during this time. It was lonesome after Joseph left, so when George called during the evening, he helped to fill in the vacancy.
One Sunday afternoon we heard sleigh bells and there was George in a beautiful painted cutter with a prancing horse. He called, ”Come go for a sleigh ride”. I tied a pink scarf on my head, put on my black coat, turned the fur collar up around my neck, got my mittens and away we went. He drove through town and then to Logan. It was a perfect day. The snow glistened in the sunshine, the sky was blue, the road smooth as glass and the tinkle of the sleigh bells all made a very romantic setting for a proposal. He reached over and took my hand in his. He told me how much I meant to him and asked if I would marry him. I did not know what to say. I liked him and I like to be in his company. I admired his ways and he was always nice to me, but I was not certain that I loved him. I told him I would have to think about it. I lay awake for hours wondering what I should do. I still could not imagine how he could want me instead of Janet. She was popular and well thought of. George was five years older than I and had been on a two-year mission to Scotland. After two weeks I still could not decide so I decided to go to Salt Lake City for a time for April conference. George did not want me to go but I told him I had to get work so I could help Joseph with his missionary expenses. He took it for granted that I was giving him up and I did not tell him but what I was. I found work after that and after I had been there a few weeks I received a letter from him asking me to write. I answered his letter in just a friendly way. Late in the summer he came to see me and I let him go back home without giving him any encouragement.
I went home in October to take care of Mrs. Kerr’s home and two children while she taught school in Lewiston, Utah. When school began she had more pupils than she could manage so the trustees asked me to help her teach them. I took over the beginners and first grade, along with the housework. I went home weekends and George and I got together again. I knew then that he was in love with no one but me. At Christmas time when he again asked me to marry him, I said “Yes”. That he took me in his arms and told me how happy I had made him and said,” I have never loved anyone but you”.
We made our plans to be married in September. During the following months George bought a four room house on Main Street, and had it painted and redecorated. Everyone was talking about the coming wedding. After I got through at the school in Lewiston, I came home to make preparations. I sewed rags and had a carpet woven, quilted, and made new clothes, bottled fruit and made jam and pickles. I made my own wedding dress and a four layer wedding cake. George I went to Logan and bought furniture, a carpet for the living room, a nice range and a little heater. We had the house are ready to move into. It was a cozy little home.
Apostle M. W. Merrill performed this marriage ceremony in the Logan Temple September 9, 1896. We also helped do some sealings for George’s grandparents on the Smith and Forkinhorsen lines. There was a wedding breakfast prepared for all the relatives at my brother, D. K. Greene’s home in Smithfield. We received many beautiful gifts.
We moved from our little house in Smithfield to Preston Idaho in 1898. There we opened a men’s clothing store. We had a struggle at first, there was so much competition. We made many friends and trade came our way so the business proved very successful. We built a store building and lived in part of it. We are very crowded and had to leave part of our furniture with my mother is Smithfield. As the business grew the entire building was needed for the store, so four additional rooms were built on the back for us to live in. The rooms were nice and we were comfortable and happy.
We moved back to Smithfield in 1903. Here we built of light brick home. It was a dream come true. There was a front and back parlor, dining room, kitchen, pantry, and four large bedrooms with spacious closets. There was a wide hall, and artistic stairway and a playroom at the top of the stairs with the children could play unmolested. Beautiful furniture and rugs were in each room. The home had electricity and plumbing fixtures were ready when the city waterworks was completed. The hot air furnace was installed in the basement. Such comfort we had never enjoyed before. We had a telephone which all the neighbors used, the yard was beautiful with green lawns, flowers and trees. There was a hedge along the driveway leading to the garage and an iron fence across the front and west sides of the lot. An umbrella tree graced the East lawn under which hung a hammock and a high swing was on the back lawn where neighborhood children swarmed. In this home we entertained for numerous dinners and birthday parties. We entertained several of the church authorities while George was Bishop, which we considered a great privilege. My mother lived in a small home just east of ours. We were very happy and comfortable in our home while the girls are growing up. We had many friends and we hated to leave.
We moved to Logan in 1920 and build another light brick home at 47 N. 200 E. The living room and dining room wood work was finished in French gray and the walls are hand-painted to harmonize. The drapes, curtains, rugs, and furniture blended with the beautiful colors on the walls. The basement contained one bedroom, fruit room, laundry, furnace room and garage. The house was built on a hillside so it opened out level on the ground. The girls grew to womanhood, finish school and were married while we lived there. Next we moved into a smaller home in Logan. At this time my mother was living with us.
Our first little daughter came to us on November 16, 1897. She was a beautiful baby with large brown eyes and dark curly hair. We were thrilled when she learned to walk and talk. When we were living in Preston Idaho, there were a lot of children living in the neighborhood and she was friends with all of them. One day a lady came in the store and said “I hear you are having a children’s party this afternoon, your little girl has been inviting all the children to a chicken dinner”. I called Brenda and asked her about it, she said, “ yes, all my little friends are coming to my birthday party”. Her birthday was several months away, but I decided not to disappoint her, nor the children. I bought ice cream, cookies and candy, and prepared games so the children had a wonderful time. As she grew up she was always planning parties and having her friends around. She made friends everyplace she went. She graduated from grade school attended high school for three years in Smithfield and when you’re at the Brigham Young College in Logan, then took a course in nursing at the Budge Memorial Hospital. She had many beaus, but finally settled down with Ervin T. Hawkins who had just returned from an LDS mission to the eastern states. They are a nice family with one boy and two girls and nine grandchildren.
Brenda was nearly 6 years old when Bessie came to us on May 22, 1903. She was born in Preston, Idaho but we moved back to Smithfield so she grew Up there. She was a very lovable child, with brown eyes and light hair. She was bright in school so she was advanced twice to a higher grade. She loved music and played the piano beautifully. She was organist in primary while very young and was good at reciting on primary programs. She spent four years at the Brigham Young College in Logan and graduated in music. She was organist in Sunday school and secretary on the Sunday school stake board. Bessie fulfilled a mission in the eastern states. She worked in the Budge clinic and did bookwork at the Budge hospital. She also is kept books for an automotive business. She was always so good inconsiderate of her parents. She married John W. Hubbard and went to Idaho and also Montana to live. They have one boy and three girls and four grandchildren. The two oldest girls are married.
Johann was a tiny 5 pound baby with black eyes and hair. She was a Christmas child, coming on December 24, 1906. She was a precious gift and grew to beautiful womanhood. While very small she insisted on combing her own hair, buttoning her dress down the front, and choosing her own hats. I was often embarrassed at her appearance when she was ready to go out. She was engaged to Leroy S. Mitten before he went on a mission. She graduated from the Brigham Young College while he was away. They were married soon after he returned. Roy works for the Borden milk company. They have lived in Illinois, Arizona, Utah, California, and Oregon. They have two boys and one girl. The two oldest are married and there are three grandchildren.
Vira came on June 13, 1909. She was a darling baby with dark eyes and hair, we all adored her as she grew into girl and womanhood. She graduated from Logan high school with lots of friends. We did not have the money to let her go to college, the depression was on and she couldn’t find work. Therefore she went to Arizona to visit with Joanne and help her care for her two little ones. While there she met Alma Jacobson who fell in love with her. He came to Logan to visit her after she returned home. They corresponded for some time, then they were married in the Mesa Temple and went to Tucson Arizona to live. Later they moved to Utah and have lived in Salt Lake City, Midvale and Murray, where they have a very nice bakery shop. Alma is an excellent baker. They have three boys and three girls and 11 grandchildren. The three oldest children are married.
While the girls were growing we took many pleasure trips. We used to spend a week every summer camping on the shores of Bear Lake. We often took trips to different parks and canyons. We made two trips to Yellowstone National Park. When Daddy had to make a visit for the church we would always go along in the car. I would prepare a lunch and we would play games as we traveled along. We did a great deal of entertaining in our home and had many pleasant times.
MY CHURCH ACTIVITIES
In 1901 the Preston Ward was divided and I was made president of the Y. W. M. I. A. in the second Ward. The mutual girls were sweet and nice in helping me so I got along well and had some wonderful times. We had to raise money to buy a minute book and some songbooks which was quite a struggle. The girls presented me with a beautiful little book with their names in when I moved to Smithfield.
Shortly after he returned to Smithfield I was asked to be the president of the mutual in the first Ward and was set apart June 1913 by Bishop E. R. Miles previous to this I taught a group of little boys in a religion class. The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers was organized and I was secretary for four years and for a while was captain of the Sarah Woodruff Camp. I gave lessons in Relief Society and was their treasure for a number of years.
September 9, 1917 I was set apart as an aid on The Mutual stake board in Pres. Merrill’s office in Richmond, Utah by Bishop George Y. Smith. I worked in the stake until we moved to Logan.
The Logan fourth Ward was divided just as we were preparing to move to Logan, the area where our new house was located being included in the newly created 11 Ward. I was called to be first counselor YW MIA with Lila J. Satterthwaite as president and Sadie Jenkins as second counselor. We worked together for 11 years and helped to raise money to build the girls camp in Logan Canyon. I was also a relief Society visiting teacher during that time.
When we moved to the seventh Ward in Logan, I was asked to teach a dozen Trailblazer boys in Primary. I struggled along with them for several months then asked for a change. I was given a class of 18 Seagull girls. I was thrilled with these girls. At this time my husband was very ill and I felt so lonesome and blue. I need the company of these girls. I did Relief Society Teaching in the seventh Ward also.
My husband had diabetes for a number of years but we had kept it under control until about 1930. The Depression came, business conditions were terrible, many people who owed money to my husband took bankruptcy. Through worry, his health failed, so that he was not able to work. He became an invalid and I had to wait on him. We lost our nice home and had to move. When he passed on in 1936 I was left without anything. I felt so humiliated and crushed I did not know what to do. I could not find work. I was living with Brenda and Ervin and they were so good to me. At this time I was called as an officiator in the Logan Temple. Being in this financial position, I wondered if it was the right thing for me to accept. Brenda said “Oh mother, except it”. Then I remembered that my patriarchal blessing it said “You will become an officiator in the house of the Lord, and you will do a great work for your kindred dead”. I had often wondered when the privilege would come to me and now it had come. With a prayer in my heart I accepted and was set apart for this wonderful work in September 1936. I continued with this work for 19 years and the way was opened for me to live comfortably during this time. This wonderful work meant so much to me and it helped to take my thoughts from other things. I’m grateful for having this privilege.
I had a wonderful manifestation one evening while following through the temple with the company. It was a large company and there were no places for the followers to sit. There were three of us standing in the doorway when we were not busy. After we had moved to the Terrestrial room, three folding chairs were passed to us and we sat in the doorway while the prayer circle was being conducted. I sat with bowed head and closed eyes. It seemed like the West half of the room went dark while the other half remained lit. I could distinguish people standing side-by-side close together. There appeared to be hundreds of them, but I could only see their backs. Suddenly a brilliant circle of light appeared in one part of the room and my brother Joseph was in that light. Immediately another light appeared in the other part of the room and there stood my husband. The light was so bright that they looked transparent, it did not reflect on the people in the dark. Neither of them looked at me, they seem to be very busy working with these people in the dark. This vision stayed with me until I opened my eyes at the close of the prayer, then it vanished. I did not feel afraid or excited, it just seem so wonderful to see my husband and my brother. They look so happy and so busy.
I thought about it for a long time, and prayed to know its meaning. Finally the answer came. I was preparing names for the temple. I had received names from Scotland on our Smith line and I had been fortunate in getting a large printed book containing over 4000 names on our Greene family line. This book was a record of one of my seventh great-grandmothers from the northern part of England, up near the Scottish border, who in 1640 settled in Cambridge Massachusetts.
While was preparing the names here on earth, my husband and my brother were doing missionary work, teaching the gospel over there. They were helping these people in the dark to be ready to accept the temple work when it was ready for them.
I have felt reluctant to relate incident. I have thought people would think I was asleep and dream it. Had my eyes closed but I was not asleep. It has been a thrill to me to know that my brother and my husband are really working with me in this very important work.
AND EXPERIENCE IN THE HOSPITAL
One evening in January 1958, I lay in my bed in the Logan LDS hospital. The nurse came to see me and asked if I wanted the Elders to administer to me. I told her that I would be glad to have them. When they approached my bed I thought how young they looked . They told me they were from Newton Ward in the Smithfield stake I told them I knew Mrs. Mina Griffin from Newton and that she and I were neighbors when we lived in the hotel. One spoke and said, “She is my grandmother”. The other said, “ she is my aunt”. I told them I had many pleasant memories of the times we had together before she passed on.
When one of the Elders began to anoint me, I closed my eyes and I could see a large brown colored man standing behind the elder. He had a very worried expression on his face and he kept his eyes on the elder. When the prayer was being closed tears came to his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. He wiped away of his hands and stood defeated. I open my eyes and saw no more of him. The Anointing was sealed with a beautiful prayer for my recovery.
After the Elders left, I kept thinking of what I had seen. I could not take it from my mind so I prayed about it. The thought came to me that the dark person was an evil spirit spirit, and that he was rebuked by these young Elders who held the priesthood and had the authority to stop him in his evil designs. Then the thought came to me that if all the young men who hold the priesthood realized what power they have over evil and if they would be true and faithful and use their power in united effort to bind Satan, peace would soon come to the earth.
I commenced to improve from that time on.
I have seen all the presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints, except the Prophet Joseph Smith and I have never doubted that he was a true prophet of God. He was chosen to come forth in this dispensation to organize the church.
Pres. Brigham Young came to our home and spent the weekend once when I was a little girl about four years old. It was at the time of the dedication of the St. George Temple. My father and most of his family went to the dedication. Pres. Young was a brother of my Grandmother Greene. The two families did some temple work for their families who had passed on while they were in St. George. On his way back to Salt Lake city he stopped at Springdale and stayed with us. I remember that he was not feeling well and that he spent most of the time on the bed. One of his wives and little daughter were with him. The little girl and I played out in the orchard. We had chicken, custard pudding and sponge cake for dinner.
I remember when Pres. John Taylor died. The United States deputies were hunting for him to take him to court and try him for polygamy. He was ill when they found him and he did not live to go to court.
I was at the meeting in Salt Lake Tabernacle when Pres. Woodruff read the manifesto. I saw and heard him speak on several occasions.
President Snow visited the Oneida stake conference at Preston while I was living there. He promised the Saints if they would pay an honest tithing the church would be free from debt. His snow white hair and long flowing beard made him look like a heavenly being. I was very impressed with him. After the close of the meeting he stood and shook hands with all of us. Brenda was a little girl and he bent over, took her hand and smiled at her.
We entertained Pres. Heber J Grant in our home when he was apostle. He was a visitor at the Benson stake quarterly conference. He slept in our home in Smithfield.
We also entertained Pres. Claussen, Apostle Talmage, Joseph Fielding Smith, George Albert Smith, Orson F Whitney, church historian Andrew Jensen and others. Pres. David O McKay dedicated our new first Ward Chapel when he was an apostle. I have a great love and respect for him. He truly is a man of God. He is performing such a wonderful working direct the building of temples and churches. The missionary work that is being done is marvelous. I am certain he receives revelation from our Heavenly Father and he is guided by the holy influence of the Lord in all things. I felt the influence of the Holy Spirit. My prayers have been answered and I have been healed through the power of the priesthood of God. I have had manifestations of the temple work being divine and have experienced the wonderful satisfaction that comes from working in the house of the Lord, for those who have passed on, who did not have the opportunity of doing the work for themselves. I know the Gospel is true and that if we are faithful and keeping the covenants of Lord and are faithful and keeping the covenants have made with Him, we will be saved in His kingdom.
I would like to express my appreciation for my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know it is the true church. I’m grateful for my parents and the training which I received in my youth. I’m also grateful for my husband and my girls and their families. My work as an officiator in the temple has meant so much to me. The contact and association of wonderful people there has been an inspiration.
At one time I was unable to go to the temple because of ill health. After being under the doctors care for several months he decided in operation was necessary. I was taken to the LDS hospital in Salt Lake City. Sister Mitton sent me a message saying she had put my name on the prayer roll at the Logan Temple. I was grateful to her. It was a comfort to know I was being remembered. The day I was taken to the operating room, as I was being placed on the table I noticed the clock on the wall said 12 o’clock. The thought came to me that was nearly time for the prayer circle at the temple. There was such a comforting peaceful influence that came to me. I thought how blessed I am to belong to such wonderful group of people, people who hold the Holy Priesthood and have power to heal the sick. People who pray with faith and no their prayers will be answered. I can testify that the prayers were answered on my behalf at that time. It was several months before I was able to go back to the temple to work. I worked many years after that time. I do know that we can enjoy the blessings that are promised to the faithful if we live for them. The Doctrine and Covenants section 93 we read, ”He that keepeth His commandments shall receive truth and light until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things”. May we all be true to our covenants and live for the wonderful blessings that are promised to the faithful, is my prayer the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Great Grandmother Smith passed away in January of 1970 at the age of 96. At the time she was residing in the home of Truss and Mary Lou Butterfield -a granddaughter. I was 13 at the time. I have very fond memories of Grandma Smith. She was an amazing lady. I have transcribed this history from her original text. I have made some spelling and grammatical corrections. – DeAnn Butterfield Oliekan- great granddaughter.)