Jorgen and Mette Marie (Willis) Smith
recorded by Doretta C Box
Maria Smith was born April 28, 1865 at Richfield, Utah, a daughter of Jorgen and Mette Marie (Willis) Smith. She died August 27, 1954 at her home in Payson Utah, Utah County and is buried in the Eureka, Utah, cemetery. First girl born in Richfield.
"I was born at the time when Richfield was first being settled by the white men and at the time when the Indians were on the warpath and were a menace to the people.
"My father owned and operated the first store in Richfield. In addition to the general store he also sold drugs which came in handy for the settlers to use for medicine, there being no doctors anywhere in the county. My father was the village blacksmith for the whole community and for people for miles around. He also made most of the shoes for the children of his family and did this in the evening after most of the other of the days work was done.
"My mother too had her work to do to help maintain the large family of thirteen children. In addition to all this regular work (household) and helping with the farm work, she sheared the sheep, washed and carded the wool, spun it, wove it and made it into clothing for all the children - all by hand as they had no such thing as a sewing machine.
"I being the oldest daughter of the family, naturally had to take a lot of the responsibility and help my mother care for the smaller children. I helped with the sewing and the housework. When my mother had to work in the field, I would go with her helping to lug the small children and baby along. I would set under the willow and brush the flies and mosquitoes away from the babies while they slept or played. To support and rear a large family in those days wasn't a picnic by any means, so the children too had their tasks to perform, even to the youngest.
"To us now, it would be a good show of both the comedy type as well as that of the tragic, if we could but look back and see the way these people lived, worked, played and worshipped. The scene that would bring laughter to us would be that of the grasshopper battle.
"To begin with, the parents would select a large wool sack and lace it in the canal at the most opportune place, stretching the mouth of the sack open with a willow hook. Now the children armed with bunches of willows or their little pinafores would round up the outlaw grasshopper and start them for the canal and the sack, beating the earth behind them, As the hoppers flew and hopped along in a herd, the children would yell and shout in glee, and though the weeds and rocks would hurt their bare feet, they would never stop until the destructive enemy had been driven into the sack-prison and was destroyed. Grasshopper day was a great day for the children, sometimes they played the grasshoppers were Indians and the made war on them.
"A fort was one of the first things built in the town, and was located in the central part, this being where now the district school of Richfield is now located A scaffold was built behind our house and mother had to watch for the Indians. If she saw any sign of them, she would climb upon this scaffold and beat the bass drum, and all of the men would come running from the fields. A fence was put up by it so that my brother Will and I couldn't get out.
"One of the saddest and most tragic events in the Smith family's life was when my sister Mary, a girl of about fifteen years, was murdered by the Indians. She went to Glenwood with neighbors, the Petersons, to do some shopping. On their return trip, they were sighted by the Indians who came yelling and whopping out of the hills and swarmed down on the little group and murdered them. They stuck greasewood down my sisters throat and into her wounds before she was yet dead. The neighbor lady was expecting a baby soon and it was cut from her and beat to death on a wagon wheel. The man was beat to death with his wooden shoes. They also beat the oxen to death.
"At that time my father had a premonition. He lay upon the bed and said to my mother, "Something has happened to Mary. I can see her slumped on a horse and someone is hold her.' My mother put a cold cloth on his head and tried to comfort him, but it was true; Mary soon came home just as he had seen her.
"At one time I was playing nurse-maid and housekeeper to my brothers and sisters. My father and mother had gone to Koosherum and would be gone for several days. I had to take the part of a doctor also as my brother, Will, just older than me, accidently shot himself through the hand with a gun he was using. I did the only thing there was to be done. I washed the wounded hand good in hot water and homemade soap and then bandaged it with a strip off the petticoat I was wearing.
"My father rode the pony-express from Richfield to Circleville. My mother prayed all the while for his safe return. The riding was done at night.
"One time we had to meet Brigham Young in Cottonwood. This was in Wayne County too, but a long way to walk with bare feet to meet him.
"After the Smith family was sent to Koosherem to help settle that part of the country, a funny little incident happened. This was after the Indians became more friendly. My mother was outside making soap over a fire in a big kettle and some Indian women came along on horses and stopped to beg. The women got off their horses and were standing by the fire. One of the horses came close to the kettle of soap and started nosing around it. I attempted to drive the horse away by kicking at it. I only succeeded in getting my foot caught in one of the rope stirrups. The horse became frightened and started running dragging me behind. This caused great excitement, but one of the women managed to catch the horse before any damage was done.
"I remember too of my mother telling me that when I was three-days-old, we lived in a dugout. A flood came right up to the top of the bed. My brother Will was one and one-half years old. Mother put him on the bed, but she knew should have to get up and out, as the water was rising fast. She took us both in her arms and waded out and then the neighbors came to her rescue.
"We went to school and church barefoot as we didn't have any shoes.
"We were driven away from Richfield by the Indians and they took all of our cattle, so we went to Fountain Green There my sister Mary Christine was born and my brother James. Then we were sent by Brigham Young to Grass Valley Koosherum. There my father did blacksmithing. One day a band of Indians came to his shop to kill him. I had my hands in dough, but my father told me to go to a neighbor, Mr. Buhanon, who could speak the Indian language, and to tell him to come. He did come to father and the Indians, and told them he had sent a note to God, so they were not to hurt these people, and the Indians thought they could see the note going to heaven so they went away.
"One time the Indians got drunk out at Cedar Grove. Mother had to go get some matches from a neighbor as we didn't have any light. She had to go close by them. So she crawled through the brush and under a bridge and stayed in the water until the Indians left. They went right over the bridge.
"Then we were sent to Pleasant Creek to settle and then back to Thurber where my father died in August 1908. He was over eighty years old. Mother lived in Torrey, Wayne County, where she died February 25, 1925.
"The rest of our family was born in Richfield. I never slept in a bed until I was old enough to work out, which was nine years old. I was sent up to Draper to work for a family named Iverson. My father baptized him and his wife. He thought they were such good people, but they were mean to me. I worked for them for a year, then I came to Payson and worked for Mr. Schuman in his home. He had a bakery, the first bakery in Payson. I worked out different places until I was married and had five children, then I had to work at home too. Then all my troubles began.
"I got married to Alex Jensen in Kamas, Utah and then we went to Ephraim and then to Idaho in a wagon. We had our five children then, two boys and three girls. My husband was offered a job there on Joe Nelson's ranch (Daniel Tyler, Ucon, Idaho). It was haying time and he had just worked there a few days when a load of hay tipped over and a pitch-fork went through his heart. We had no money. We had nothing. The neighbors were all good to us and helped us, so we buried him there. The people wanted us to stay, but my oldest son didn't want to stay. He wanted to go back to Ephraim, Utah. So we got the wagon packed with what little we had and started out. It was a long hard trip and it took us eighteen days.
"I had to work hard to take care of my family. Eight years after Mr. Jensen died I married John Peterson in Manti, Utah. Then we went to Eureka, Utah where he worked for years.
My daughter Myrtle got married to Walter Appleton and went to Canada, where he worked in he Battalion Mine in British Columbia. They lived there in a little mining camp. They had a baby one and one-half years old and a baby three weeks old. A land-slide swept her and the two children and the house down into a river with fifty others and their houses. They were all killed. Her husband was in the mine working. When he heard the roar, he came running out but too late to save his family. When they dug them all out they found Myrtle with the two children held tight in her arms. She and the children are buried there. I never did see those grandchildren and have never been to their graves. We didn't have the ways and means to travel in those days.
"We moved to Payson where we are still living. This is January 1954 and on April 28, 1954, I will be 88 years old. I have outlived all of my brothers and sisters. I have two living daughters, Eva and Mattie. I have three grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild."