A History of Nathan James Thornley
Colaborador: sueshoffner Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Written by his wife, Melvina Weeks Thornley, shortly before her death on March 2, 1970. Transcribed with corrections in spelling and punctuation.
Nathan James Thornley was born February 7, 1895 to Samuel James and Hilda Holjeson Thornley in Smithfield, Utah. He was their first child born in a small log house in the south part of Smithfield. The home was about one block south of the pea factory and it is where he lived most of his life. Granny Thornley lived with this family, and Nathan was very fond of his grandmother. He loved to help with doing things for her, as she could not get around much. He had two brothers and one sister. His brother Archie died very young.
Nathan had many childhood playmates, as the neighbors all had large families and most of them were relatives as well as friends. They also had a large pasture and we would all gather there in the summer to play all kinds of games such as baseball, so we did not have to play on the streets as some do now. In winter evenings we would go to his home and pop some corn and make candy and open up the big table and play cards, tell jokes and enjoy our evenings very much.
Nathan started school when he was six. The school he attended was on the corner of 3rd and Main. The teacher was not of our faith, but was very kind and good to them. She taught them reading, writing and arithmetic. This school was much closer than our newer school, so he attended it for two or three years before going to Summit School.
Nathan always loved sports. When he was quite young his folks bought him a shot gun, and he could shoot with the best hunters in the valley. They used to practice target shooting one block west of his home. They also did blue rock shooting. Then when he got started hunting wild birds, he nearly always got his limit. He worked on the farm with his father all his life. He was taught at an early age to drive horses and he was a very good teamster. His father, having lost one eye, could not see well enough to drill beets and other row crops. So Nathan had to plant and also cultivate all the row crops when he was just a boy. He was very good at this job. He not only did it for their own farm but for many other farmers as well.
Nathan loved ball games and other sports, dancing, shows and parties. He always loved to be with friends. When Nathan was sixteen, we were going to parties in different homes and that is where we met each other. It was at the home of Viola Collett, the house where Glen was born, that we first met. He told me many times that the first time he met me, he knew I was the one he wanted. We started seeing much of each other from that time on. We went to school at the same building. And he started dating me very soon after. We would go to dances, shows and parties and he would bring me a box of candy at least once a week until his sister Ruby told him that was all I wanted--the candy, and that I did not care for him. So he quit bringing me candy for about a month to see if she was right. When he found that I still would go with him, then he brought candy again.
We had to walk almost everywhere that we went. Once in a while some of our friends would have a single buggy and another couple would take us for a buggy ride on a Sunday afternoon. We enjoyed this very much. He kept on coming to our home and we had a courtship which lasted almost three years. Then on January 14, 1914, we were married in Logan Court House. We had to go to Logan on the street cars. The tracks were not laid up through town so we had to go just below town and get on the car.
When we came home that day, there was a group of our friends there to meet us with plenty of rice, which they threw at us. Our clothes were filled with rice. Mother Weeks had a wedding supper at her home for us that night. We got many nice presents and we dressed Nathan up in ladies clothes, put a black wig and glasses on him, and he was at the shower—the only man there. Asa was on a mission in the Southern States and we said he had sent this sister home to visit us and all the girls believed he was a woman until the party was almost over.
Nathan worked very hard to make a good living for his family. In the fall of the year, he would help get their own crops harvested, then he would plow for other farmers then haul beets from the beet pile to make a little extra money. When Nathan was around forty years old, he had quite a bad sick spell. Doctors put him to bed several times for different kinds of fever. He would have a temperature every day and would become ill each afternoon and have to come home from work. It seemed as if the doctors could not get to the trouble until one day we took him to Salt Lake to a Dr. Tyrdale. He found Nathan had undulant fever. It had run almost five years and had damaged his heart very much. The doctor gave him some shots that seemed to help him, but he never was well from that time on.
Nathan was always backward and did not dare take part in any church activities, but he went to Priesthood meetings very faithfully in the Second Ward when Lorenzo Toolson was bishop and also when the Third Ward was first organized. When they built the third Ward chapel, he helped with digging of the basement and other hard work. He and Milo Cantwell hauled all the sand and part of the gravel for the whole church. They had to go to the river with a team and wagon and shovel it all on by hand, so it took many days of hard work.
Nathan did a lot of irrigating. One day he had gone to irrigate in the east fields. It was in the afternoon and he had set the water for a long set. Some Hyde Park men came along the upper road and asked him if he would like to go to the ball game, so he went to town to the game. Then he went back out to the field and did not come home for such a long time that I thought he had become ill, or maybe he had fallen into the canal. So I got one of the neighbor men to go with me up to the canal to find him. It was really quite a long walk and all uphill. We did not find him, so on our way back, there he was with the men, after a good ball game. At first I was really angry, then happy to see that he was OK. The man that walked with me said, “I didn’t know you were so in love with Nathan until now.”
Nathan was not very well after he had that fever for so long a time, but he went on trying to do his share of the work on the farm until June. On Friday, June 13, 1951, he met with a serious accident. His right arm was broken and he was bruised badly. He was taken to the hospital for two weeks. They could not set his arm for a week. It was swollen so badly. Then when the doctor got it set, they put him in a cast, which was on for eight months. But it did not heal. Then a year later, he had to have another operation. They took a piece of bone out of his left leg and cut his arm and put the bone in it. Then there was another type of cast for about seven months. This was a very painful operation. He suffered very much as his heart and lungs were in poor condition and he had a very bad cough for several years before he passed away on November 1, 1956 at the age of 61.
He was a good husband, kind and loving and a good father who always provided very well for his family. He set a good example before them. He was always honest and fair in his dealings with his fellow men.
The last year or so of his life, he became so tired and discouraged that he felt he was not going to be here much longer, so he had all his property fixed up so at his death it would be for me to live on. He also gave me much advice as to what to do if I was left alone. In August of 1956, we took him to several doctors who were specialists in their fields of heart and lung diseases, but they could give him no relief. He just got weaker and weaker each week until the last few days it was so hard for him to breathe that we put him under oxygen. That made it better for him.
I am trying to follow out his wishes to the best of my ability. It is very lonesome without him. Sometimes I find myself thinking I will have to get his advice on problems that come up in my everyday life. Some days it seems as if he is very near. And then there are times that it seems he has been gone for many, many years. But that is life for us who are left.