Saturday, July 9, 2011



Frisco School Kids--Con just left of big boy with overhauls
Signe on back row and one place left
    In his mother's book, the Svensk-Finska Nykterbets-Forbundet Book (Teetotaler Society), published in 1907, Uncle Con's name was written as Conraud Hjalmar (Elmer) Johanson Holms.  He went by the name of "Conrad John Holmes", I have no idea how long he had been using this variation of his name, maybe from childhood.  This book was given to me by my cousin and her grandson James.  He was named after another little brother Nestor Conrad (who was born two years earlier in Eureka and lived for only two months).  Con was the last child of Johannes Eriksson Holms and Lisa Jakobsdotter Ohlis Antbrams.  He was born in Eureka 13 December 1910.  he was raised and went to schools in Frisco, Dividend and Eureka. 

                  The first photograph of Con shows him and his sister Signe (my mother) in front of the little red school building in Frisco.  He is one of the truly blonde headed boys in the front row.  Eight grades were taught here by a Mrs. Boyer and another teacher in two small rooms.  These classrooms were heated by a wood burning stove.  Con spoke both English and some Swedish.  He didn't seem to get his languages mixed up like my mother did.  He wasn't treated like an immigrant.  He always seemed to enjoy school and did well in school.

James     John    Con       Dorothy Holmes
                I have searched for stories of Con in my mother's writings but there is nothing about his early years.  Except that he was the one his mother could always count on to help her.  He was always scrubbing and waxing his mother's floors.  She always kept her house so clean and neat.  He knew that his mother was in poor health and was always there when she needed him.  My mother, Signe wrote how well Con did in school and about him when he graduated from the twelfth grade (Tintic High School) as valedictorian of the class.  He won two gold medals and a scholarship to the University of Utah.  One gold medal was for math, that he excelled in.  The other was for tennis.  But even with the aid of a scholarship there wasn't enough money to go to school.  These were hard times and his parents wished that he would just go to work in the mines and help the family.  I have heard many comments from family and friends about his love of learning and his abilities.  It seems very unfair that those with the best potential for making something of themselves never get the chance.  He was very popular in school and made many life long friends.  He loved to hike and investigate the hills of Eureka and the mountains in the desert to the west.  Childhood pictures we have show him usually out on some old mine dump with one of his cousins and always with a dog named Prince.  

Con fishing Provo River
                I have never been told about his association with the fairer sex or where and when he discovered how much he liked Dorothy.  But a cousin of ours, Norma Jones lived near them in Eureka and knew them both.  Norma and Dorothy were teenagers who belonged to a sewing club, they called themselves the SOS Gang (Six Old Spinsters) and loved to make life unbearable for the opposite sex.   They were Dorothy, Norma Jones, Georgia Griggs, May Brady and sisters Lucille and Potia Rollins. 

                A few houses down the street lived Dorothy Viertel and he was really quite fond of her.  He saved his money and bought an engagement ring.  To make sure he did everything right and proper, he went down and asked Dorothy's mother if he could give her daughter this engagement ring and she said,  "Yes."  So he went to Dorothy to give the ring to her.  "You mean you asked, Mother, before you asked me,"  she wanted to know.  "I'm the one you were supposed to ask.  My answer is,  "No"!  She sent him on his way.  Con came back many times over a period of time but the answer was always,  "No".  One day she did take his ring and in time they were married in Nephi, Juab County, Utah on the 21 September 1933.  Their marriage was later solemnized in the Manti Temple of the Latter-Day Saints of the Church of Jesus Christ.   They began their married life by either renting a house or living with Grandpa.  (still researching)

                Dorothy Helen Viertel was born in Eureka, Utah 8 May, 1912, a daughter of Therese Marie Veit and Gustav Adolph Viertel.  She had seven brothers and two sisters. 

Conrad Holmes, Emil Bodmer, Bert Chiles
fishing the Provo River
                Her parents were immigrants from Germany.  They were converts to the Church of Latter-Day Saints of Jesus Christ.  I was told missionaries had come to the Viet home in Germany and promised to help them find work and shelter.  So, the family decided to leave Germany and come to Utah to be with other members of the Church.   They came to Utah when Therese Marie was about 13 years old.  When they arrived in Salt Lake City, they felt lost and alone.  They couldn't speak the language and couldn't find the missionaries.  Needless to say they had a very hard time here and got so disillusioned that the Veits quit the Church.  The family later moved to Eureka where this 13 year old girl grew up and married Gustaf Viertel who I believe was also a German immigrant.  They were eventually the parents of ten children but Gustaf had died in the mines before their last child, Don was born.  This left his wife with all these children to raise.  Alone and very fearful of the future might bring Therese was very troubled.  Until one night she had a most wonderful dream.  She dreamed of Gustaf.  He came to her one night in a dream to let her know that he was all right and he would always be there for her.  She then knew that she and her children would make it and everything would be all right.  Gustaf  went over to the crib near the window to admire this new child.  This was Don who was born after he had died.  Gustaf then vanished never to be seen again.            

                About three years later Con and Dorothy's first son was born.  He was James Conrad who was born in Eureka 14 December, 1936 and John Eugene who was born in Payson 23 February, 1945.  James never married and now lives in Payson in the old family home.  John is married and has at least four children and lives in Richland, Washington.  Because of financial difficulties Dorothy put James in a nursery school and went to work at a store in Eureka.  She was very unhappy about this but it was something that had to be done. 

                Con worked in many mines in the Tintic District.   I remember when he was working as an assayer for one of the larger mines.   His intellect put him in to some of the better work.  At times he would work on the out side but worked in the mines as well.  After World War II the demand for metals dropped off drastically causing him to work where he could.  After many of the larger mines closed he started working for himself, (Leasing).  This was when he would enter a contract with a mining company to explore and mine their many tunnels to see if he could find pockets of ore that mine engineers had missed or ignored.  Sometimes he would quite well but other times he would make nothing not even expenses.  And if he struck a large body of ore the mining company would cancel the contract and mine it themselves.  A no win situation. 

                The family moved many times as Con would follow his trade looking for work.  I have no idea how many times they did this. 

                James remembers when his father worked for the Sandstrom Mine on the Salmon River in Idaho.  There was no running water in the house, no electricity and none of the conveniences of the times.  They had coal oil lamps for light but what James remembers best is the real candles on the Christmas Tree. 
Grandpa Holmes  Jimmy  & Con Holmes in Eureka

                Mining was a hard and a dirty work many carloads of ore would have to be loaded each day to even break even let alone make a profit.  The mines were dark.  The light was a carbide lamp worn on their hard-hat.  Some mines were dusty and if you breathed enough of it you would die of silicosis.  Others were hot enough to boil eggs, this was when the metals would be exposed to water and air.  Here they would sometimes work in water up to their knees.  There was always the danger of cave-ins and other hazards.    

                He was always careful and worked in the mines for many years before he injured himself.  I believe it happened when he and another man were cutting a steel cable.  His eye was struck by a piece of steel, blinding him instantly in one eye.  For some reason his other eye began having trouble too.  This injury caused a great deal of hardship for the family.  It also caused Con to quit working in the mines.  Eventually he got work as a custodian of the Park View School in Payson.  He did this until suddenly one day he died in his home of a heart attack.  He died 25 August, 1963 and was buried in Payson, Utah.   My daughter, Diane, a teenager at the time remembers the day.  She had walked up to visit her Grandmother, Signe Elisabeth Holmes Halverson. (She was Con's sister)   "I found Grandma out near her yellow rosebushes just a crying her heart out."   "What's wrong Grandma",  she asked?  Her Grandma said,  "Con just died."  She was quite close to him and loved her brother very much.  He died at the early age of 52 years old and it was hard for her to believe that he was gone.   

                Uncle Con was a wonderful uncle of mine of whom I have many happy memories of.  I will always remember the many deer hunting trips out into the West Desert.  We went many places and done many things.  Each time we went he would always want to try a new place.  This was how I was able learn to love the desert so well, just as my son, David loves it too.  

                Aunt Dorothy's brother, Don Viertel gave her his house (the house that we all know in Payson, Utah) for caring for him in the years before his death.  I'm sure that he will be blessed for it, don't know what Dorothy and Later James would have done without it.  But this did cause other members of the Viertel to be angry with the Holmes'.  

                Both James and his mother felt like they were alone after Uncle Con died but we did our best and we did visit when we could.  These were the years when Mother health was failing and both Lee and I were raising a family and building our houses while working at Kennecott Copper.  And sometimes Aunt Dorothy would also be working and not at home when we did drop by.       

                Aunt Dorothy lived on for many years.  I know she worked at Christensen's Department Store for many years, but their must have been other work.  She was an active member of her Church (LDS) and I'm sure she had many callings but what they were, I don't know. 

                James had never married and  he and his mother lived alone in the house that Don gave them.  They remodeled the house inside and out;  new siding outside and kitchen, bathroom and other rooms inside was made like new.  Both Aunt Dorothy and James loved to work in the garden and it showed.  It was always beautiful.  

                In time her health began to fail and one day she was diagnosed as having cancer for which she had an operation which in my opinion caused her even more pain and suffering than she already had.  After this I began to notice her to become forgetful.  She didn't like this and felt embarrassed because of it.  I will always remember her as a wonderful aunt who was always very caring and dignified.   I still remember when they lived in Eureka, I believe it was at Grandpa Holmes' house where I was also staying. (I was about 7 Years old)  I will always remember the loving care given to me by her and my cousin Helen when I was so lonely and homesick.  She also took me to Cedar City to visit someone, I never thought we would ever get there, but we did. 
                She died 1 November, 1989 at the Orem Care Center at the age of 77 years old.  She was laid to rest next to her husband in the Payson Cemetery, Utah County, Utah.  She was a widow for 26 years. 

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