Tuesday, July 12, 2011




"This is my life story as I remember it.  I was born April 14, 1890 in Mapleton, Utah in a one-room rock house with a dirt roof, so I have been told.  My father was Andrew Halverson - my mother was Mary Peterson.  My father and mother moved many times as I remember - from Mapleton to Palmyra, Lake Shore to Redmond, to Mapleton, to Idaho and back to Mapleton.  The first job I had was to tromp hay.  I was about five years old and bare-foot.  The hay didn't bother my feet, but my legs were scratched and bleeding at times.  The hay stubbles hurt me between my toes.

"When I was ten and eleven years old, my brother Chris and I herded cows at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon.  We walked two and one-half miles to Mapleton Church house to get the first two cows.  Then we had to get three cows (ours) and drive them another mile and a half to herd for the day and then we had to take them home again.  At times we gathered up to thirty-two cows (to herd to the Canyon).

"I learned how to handle a hand plow when I was eleven when we lived in South Mapleton.  My father would hitch the horses on the wagon.  I would drive them to where the Powder Plant is now, hitch them on the plow and plow until about noon.  I would feed the horses hay that father put in the wagon box.  I would eat my lunch, then take the horses down to the river for a drink of water and let them eat a few minutes before hitching them on the plow again.  I would work until about five o'clock and then drive them home.  I did this day after day many times.  I had shoes when I was plowing.  I would like to have that little old twelve inch plow now.
"My sister Myrtle and I thinned sugar beets for fifteen cents a day for Bob Watson in South Mapleton.  We had to work!  Mr. Watson was there to keep us going.  I think I was ten years old - Myrtle was one and a half years younger."Then in 1904 in March we were off to Ucon, Idaho with three horses on the covered wagon.  We were fourteen days on the road.  Along the way we kids would walk on the railroad track when the track was close to the road.  In places the mud was up to the wagon hubs.  Old Watch, the long haired dog, walked all the way; sometimes he would walk under the wagon tongue to keep out of reach of other dogs.

"We lived in a two room house with a dirt roof for two years in Ucon.  Then we moved to Rudy, five miles east of Rigby.

"While in Ucon I learned to use a four-tined Jackson hay fork.  We had about thirty acres of hay to cut, haul and stack.  I used the hay fork.  I was about fourteen years old.

"In Rudy, father rented a farm with one hundred acres of hay.  I loaded and unloaded every other load.  I was on the wagon with two men pitching hay on the wagon.  When the wagon was loaded, I  drove to the hay stack and unloaded it with the Jackson fork.  I think Chris handled the horse to pull the hay on the stack.  We had ten acres of beets and about thirty acres of grain.  It was all work and no play.

"We were there (in Rudy) for two years.  Then we moved to LaBelle.  We did fine the first year, then the next year ten acres of sugar beets froze in the ground as did five acres of potatoes.  We had three good milk cows.  It was my job to milk them.  I worked around here and there on the farms when I had a chance.

"Then in the winter of 1909 father sold everything he had and came by train to Spanish Fork and Palmyra for I think two years.  Then he moved to Mapleton, live there and farmed and he worked in Magna. 

James bought a very fancy rig (carriage) and a pony to pull it.  He was very proud of it.  We have no pictures of the rig but we have pictures of the horse.  His name was Pinto, and he was a lively and spirited horse, everyone just loved him.  When work was done, you would see Jim all dressed up in his very best clothes heading off to visit the girls.  Jim loved that horse even though was kind of small.  The horse was fine pulling small carriages and loved running along the roads. 

            Well one day his father, Andrew hitched him up to a hay-wagon to climb Billie’s Mountain.  The road was steep and the load was too heavy.  So he just stopped in the road refused to move.  Andrew decided that the horse was useless so just took an axe and killed Jim’s horse and left the poor horse alongside the road.  .

"I came down from Idaho to visit when the folks lived in Palmyra.  There I met Mary Vincent.  I went back to Idaho and worked on different farms and came to Utah for part of the winter.  Then Mary and I started to go with each other.  In 1911 I worked in Sugar City Sugar Factory twelve hours a day for 18 cents an hour.  I stayed in Idaho until the fall of 1912 when Father wrote me and said he could get me a job in the Magna Mill, so I came down from Idaho and got a job beginning January 1, 1913.

"On December 2, 1914, Mary and I were married.  We lived in Magna until 1919 when the mill closed down.  I came to Spanish Fork and bought the home I still live in and own.  Donna was born in Magna.  Earl, Wells and Lynn were born in Spanish 'fork.

"I worked on different farms and at the Sugar Factory and work there while it was running and in the summer I worked in an orchard for twelve years.  I worked thirteen and a half years at the Ironton Steel Plant and then retired in April 1957.  I haven't worked since that time.

"My wife died January 24, 1965.  We were married fifty years, one month and twenty-two days.  In June I drove to Idaho to see my sister, Mary Bowen, and visited with some of the ones I knew while living in Ucon, Rudy, and LaBELLE.  I always liked Idaho.  I spent about a month there, then came home.

"In 1966 I flew to Los Angeles with Earl - a very good trip.  We were in Yucca Valley where Charlie Barner was building his home.  Yucca Valley is a nice place to live.  I stayed in Yucca Valley about a month then came home and went fishing in Scofield and Strawberry and had a good time.

"In 1967 I took the bus to Palm Springs the first part of April and stayed about a month.  I enjoyed it very much.  They are all old people there and very friendly.  Then when I got home the first thing was a fishing trip to Strawberry and Scofield.  I caught some fish too.

"The first part f April 1968 I took the bus again for Palm Springs and arrive there at 11:30 p.m.  Donna and Mrs. Barner met me and we went off to Yucca Valley, about a thirty mile drive.  We had a good time -  about a five or six weeks stay.  They took me to the Valley of the Moon for my birthday dinner.  It was a very enjoyable day.  Roland Boyd took me to the Los Angles bus depot.  Then I went to Los Gatos.  Myrtle, Lee and Tom met me there.  They sure did take me around at different places.  That was very good - down to the ocean and the 17 Mile Drive which I will never forget.  I was there about three weeks.  Tom took his vacation and they brought me home by car.  I enjoyed it very much.

"Then in April 1969 I visited again in Yucca Valley for about a month or more.  Then I flew from Palm Springs to San Jose.  Lee, Myrtle and Tom took me to Los Gatos.  We all enjoyed it all for about three weeks.  They took me to San Francisco Air Port and I flew home.  Harvey and Beth met me and brought me home.  Everybody is sure good to me and I thank all."

My parents were going to pick him up at the Salt Lake airport the next day upon his return to Utah and take him to Spanish Fork.  He seemed eager to get home.   I called my parents and asked them to talk Uncle Jim into staying overnight rather than going straight to Spanish Fork.  When they greeted him, he didn't seem to be well and they were concerned about leaving him alone.  They stopped in West Jordan to visit and eat and Chris came from Salt Lake to see him.  Jim was making out his shopping list and would drop his pencil a few times - then he said that he thought he should stay over night.  Chris was going to come out in the morning and they would all go to Spanish Fork together.

My father got up early in the morning and checked on him and he seemed to be sleeping soundly.  A little later he heard a something which sound like Jim was clearing his throat.  When Dad checked on him later in the morning, Jim was in the same position - lying on his back, but he looked different and his mouth was open.  Dad went over to Jim and found he wasn't breathing - it was a real shock.  Dad called Chris and Wells and the rest of the family to let us all know that Jim had died in his sleep that morning.


The "J" in my name is for James; I was named after my grandfather.  I was always proud that I was named after my grandfather because I liked and respected him very much.

My grandfather “Jim” took care of the church orchards in Spanish Fork. My father Earl told me that Grandpa would bring home branches that were trimmed from the fruit trees. The trimmings were used for fuel to keep warm. There was a Dr. Stark that came to the orchards to instruct Grandpa about taking care of the orchards. I believe that Dr. Stark taught Grandpa to graft branches from different types of trees together. Grandpa had a tree in his backyard with grafted branches. As I remember this tree would bear three different kinds of fruit apple, peach and apricot. I remember that one of the grafted limbs had grown long and Grandpa had built a support to hold it up.

I think the life was hard for the family in those days. My father told me that sometimes all he got for lunch was a piece of bread with lard spread on it. This doesn’t sound very good to me but I’m sure it was nutritious. My father also talked about wearing bib overalls to school. It was all they could afford, it was a sign of poverty and Dad was aware of it. As a boy dad wanted a bicycle but they didn’t have the money for a bicycle.

I am not sure if I was told the following story as a safety warning or a point of humor it certainly seemed out of character for my grandmother: My Grandmother kept a vegetable garden, at one point someone’s cow got loose and was eating the garden. My grandma got the BB gun and went to shoot the cow to make it leave. She was in such a big hurry she forgot to close the lever on the gun. When she pulled the trigger the lever slammed shut injuring her fingers.

Grandpa (Jim) came to Sunday dinner at our house many times while I was in my teens.  He told a story about when he was living in Idaho.  He had a toothache and had to go to a dentist.  The nearest dentist was in another town.  Grandpa had to ride a bicycle to get there.  The intention was to have the bad tooth pulled out; but when the dentist had looked it over, he said he could fix it.  The fix was to fill the tooth.  It seemed that tooth filling was a new procedure in those days.  So Grandpa let him go ahead.  As Grandpa described the drilling I think I could still hear a twinge of pain in his voice.
The drilling was done in three sessions.  That meant Grandpa had to ride the bike all the way to the next town three times.  He said the road was so dry that the dust was a foot thick.  His clothing would be covered with dust when he got there.  The drilling was done with a treadle powered drill.  Grandpa described the sound the drill made as a rurr rurr rurr sound.  I think he had that sound etched into his memory.  Grandpa did not talk about getting any anesthetic; it was before the use of novocaine.  Grandpa went on to say that the tooth was saved and it seemed to still be quite to his amazement.  The tooth lasted until he got his false teeth many years later.  From the number of times he told this story I could tell that the experience left a lasting impression.  It may have been easier to have had to tooth pulled.

My father Earl Halverson told me how his father had taken care of the church orchards for many years.  A Dr. Stark had been to the orchards and instructed Grandpa in pruning and tree care.  Grandpa had fruit trees in his backyard and had done some grafting.  The apple tree had, I think, a peach limb on it.  Dad said that during hard times grandpa got into the care of the orchards to get the twigs to burn for fuel.

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