Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Lizzie Mulford Mott

BY VERAL D. MOTT, her son

Who is Lizzie Smith Mott
Lizzie Smith Mott was born in Richfield, Utah on the 14th of November, 1877 to her parents, Jorgen Smith and Mette Marie Villardsen.  She was born in a rock house with an upstairs attic being used for sleeping.  This home was built in 1865, twelve years prior to Lizzie's birth.  I knew my mother only by the name "Lizzie", for it was a nickname given to her early in life.  She used that name to sign school report cards and other correspondences.  All her family and friends called her Lizzie and seldom was she known by any other name. 

She lived in Richfield until 1884 when at the age of 7 years she moved with her parents to Koosherm in Grass Valley.  They lived for a year or less before going to Pleasant Creek, Wayne County;  later known as Notom.  As she grew up in Notom, a town called Aldridge was being settled.  The Aldridge School District was established on 8 December, 1891.  The three trustees appointed for the school district were David Coombs, James Idle and Jorgen Smith.  By this time Lizzie was 14 years old, yet it is not known if she attended this school. 

When she was living in Notom, at the age of 15 or younger, she met a young man named Jed Mott who was herding cattle on the east end of Boulder Mountain which included the Henry Mountains.  On 1 January, 1893 she married Jed Mott, who was 8 years her senior, in Notom.  The wedding was performed by her father who was the Justice of Peace at that time. 

A Primary Association was organized at Pleasant Creek on 22 January, 1893.  Marie Smith as president, Ann Crowther and Vilate Killion were the Councilors, and Lizzie Smith was the Secretary at the age of 15. 

Lizzie and Jed lived about 6 miles north of Notom on the Dirty Devil River in a town called Aldridge.  They moved from Aldridge to Thurber where their first child was born, Lulu Luvern 14 September, 1895.  Then they returned to Aldridge for a year and Adelia was born on 19 September, 1997.  Next they moved to Teasdale and had to bury Lulu Lavern who was only two years old.  After a couple of years they went back to Aldridge where Julia was born 12 February, 1899.  Orval was born 2 February, 1901 in Vernal, Utah.  Then they moved to Thurber for another six years and Lizzie gave birth to Loren 30 August, 1903, and Nelda on 15 December, 1908.  From Thurber they moved to Fruita where they lived from 1909 to 1912.  Torrey was the next place they moved to and Clarence was born there on 14 February, 1912.  Veral was next coming on 12 April, 1918.  Vern was born 6 February, 1920, and Doris was the last to be born on 27 December, 1923 but he died at birth. 

the year of 1918

1918 was the one single year of her life which illustrates her unselfish love and devotion to her family.  By the year 1918 Lizzie was 41 years old and had been married for 25 years, 1 January was her 25th wedding anniversary.  It was a cold wintry day in Torrey on January 1st, with lots of snow and wind.  Lizzie was living in what was the old Mott home, a log house, which would become the Lee Pierce home two years later.  Jed was delivering mail from Torrey to Cainsville once or twice a week using a team of horses and a buggy for transportation.  Orval was a help in delivering the mail and doing the chores.  Loren at age 15 was a big help with the home chores such as milking the cows, feeding the pigs, and other livestock.  He also helped occasionally with the mail contract.  At this time Lizzie was 4 1/2 months pregnant with Veral, who would be her 8th child.  Living at home with her were;  Orval 17, Loren 15, Nelda 10, and Clarence 6 years old.  Adelia 21 had been married for four years was not living with them.  Adelia was four months pregnant with her 2nd child, Claire, who would be born on 30 June, 1918.  Julia had been married for about 8 months and was 7 months pregnant with her first child, Don Rue.  The Mott family lived in the old Mott home until 1919.  Veral at eighteen months remembers when they moved to their new house on the main street of Torrey.  He remember being carried by Nelda over the stream and over the fence.  The home was purchased from the Hickmans. 

Lizzie not only took care of her children, but she was the caretaker of her mother, Mette Marie Johansesen Villadsen, who was 71 years old.  Mette Marie lived in a house by herself within a few hundred feet east of the old Mott home.  Mette Marie lived until 22 February, 1925 when she died at the age of 77, in Torrey, Utah.  She died in the new Mott home under Lizzie's care. 

1926, running a boarding house in Park City
It was 1926, Lizzie, Jed, Nelda, Veral and Vern left Torrey with Loren in his Essex Automobile to go to Park City.  Loren had been working in the Silver King mine and got a job for Jed.  They rented a house halfway up the canyon between the city theater and the mine shaft at the top of the canyon.  The house was located on the north side of the canyon.  To get to the house one would leave the road, go through a wooden gate, which was part of the white picket fence.  One would walk over a wooden plank bridge over the creek, in doing so would pass by the privy (outhouse) which was also built over the creek.  This creek was named "Poison Creek" for that reason. 

The first electricity the Motts had in their home was when they were renting in Park City.  They never had electricity again until eight or ten years later when electricity came to the town of Torrey.   

Lizzie took in one or two miners and provided their meals, their lunches and gave them a bed.  This provided some additional income which was used to help pay the mortgage on the new property they had bought 7 years earlier.  There was not enough room in this house for everyone so Nelda, 17 stayed with relatives.  Lizzie, Jed, Veral, Vern, and the miners all lived in this small house for those summer months, somehow.  The family left in the fall and went back to Torrey.  The roads were all dirt roads except through the cities which was paved.  250 miles on graded dirt roads was a very long trip.  

Jed would haul freight from Richfield to Torrey occasionally.  This required a trip of many days by wagon from Torrey to Richfield and back.  Veral remembers one of these trips.  It was at the time of the Sevier County Fair.  The most vivid part of my memory was the breaking of camp in the morning and when the campfire was being put out.  There were three large stones which had been heated by the fire, they were wrapped in blankets and placed into the covered wagon.  The conserved heat from these rocks were used to keep our feet warm while traveling. 

the new home in Torrey
At the new home was a cistern, for drinking water, a well for watering the livestock,  a barn with attached corals, a potato storage cellar and the outhouse.  There also was a log camphouse with a built in fireplace.  Travelers on horse back or trailing sheep or cattle could stay over night as a stop over to where they were going.  They could cook meals and sleep in their own bedding in this shelter.  It was used very frequently up until about 1930. 

1928--1938, Lizzie operated a "board and meal" house
Lizzie had a sign hanging on the telephone pole in front of the house on the street, in black letters on a white background, it read "MEALS and BEDS $1.00".  She took in boarders, some would stay for weeks and others would be transients staying for a meal or a bed or both. 

Among the people who stayed there was a dentist who set up his foot peddle drill used to grind teeth for filling and he also pulled teeth.  He would come to Torrey once a year and provide dentistry for the town people.  He would stay for one or two weeks. 

Another regular customer was a merchant in a full bodied truck loaded with candy, cloth, shoes, cooking utensils etc..  His name was Ike Wax.  He would come in about two times a summer.  He sold these goods or traded them for animal hides or scrap metal which he hauled out of the county. 

Another, a one time customer, was a lady who was a professor of botany at a Chicago University.  She was gathering information on the types of plant life in Wayne County.  She had a twelve year old daughter along with her and she was chauffeured by a driver of their large Buick automobile.  They stayed about ten days. 

Another customer was three men running a survey of the elevations and distances of the terrain from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast.  They stayed about ten days while working through Wayne County from West to East.  They left bench marks about every mile or two.  They were numbered and some gave elevations. 

making soap
Lizzie would save scraps from the fat of animals and all the grease rendered through frying and cooking on the stove.  For a year this was all saved until the Spring which was the time for making soap.  She would fill the #3 wash tub with this grease, add some water, and lye, which was very caustic.  Lizzie would bring this greasy liquid solution to a boil with the tub sitting level on three well placed rocks with a wood fire underneagh it.  She would stir this solution continuously, and occasionally checked the consistency by lifting the stick from the boiling soap to see how stringy the soap was.  It would take several hours of feeding the fire with wood and checking the consistency before the soap would be finished.  The boiling solution should be stringy enough to form a long string so it would never separate from the pan to the stick.  When it reached this consistency and she was satisfied by it, she would ladle out the contents into large pans or sometimes special wood crates to a depth of about four inches.  After setting a day, the soap would harden and then would be cut into square cube bars of about 3 to 4 inches. 

washing clothes
The same tub and fire arrangement outside the house used for soap making was also used for washing clothes.  The fire was lighted to bring the water to a boil and the tub was filled with a load of dirty clothes with a grated bar of homemade soap.  The clothes were lifted one piece at a time from the tub and put in a double broiler filled with hot water.  This was the rinse water to remove the soap from the clothes.  Each piece was scrubbed on the scrubbing board and rinsed again in warm water in another tub.  These clothes were hung on a clothes line in the sun until dried. 

Clothes which needed ironing were taken inside the kitchen where there was a folding iron board.  Flat irons were heated on the kitchen stove cooking surface until they were hot.  The temperature was tested with a drop of water which would "sizzle" when placed on the iron.  Shirts, dresses, sheets, pillow cases, and handkerchiefs when ironed were folded and put away. 

making vinegar
Lizzie had a 3 gallon wooden barrel with one end knocked out.  In this barrel was large, quart size mass of a substance called the mother of vinegar.  It had the consistency of quivering jelly.  To this barrel was added water and sugar, but honey was added the most.  A very strong vinegar developed from this arrangement.  It was covered with several layers of muslin cloth and a wooden cover that floated on the liquid.  Veral, as a young boy would dip into this vinegar with a glass and he would drink small quantities.  It was better if he added a spoonful of baking soda to make it fizz and bubble up and it wouldn't taste to bad (popularly called fizz water).  Vinegar is a germicide and a sterilizing substance.  Its true name is acetic acid and was one of the main preserving substances the early pioneers had, for it would not spoil and it would keep its characteristics. 

keeping a continuous supply of yeast on hand for bread making
On top of the warming oven of the kitchen stove Lizzie had a quart bottle of yeast solution.  This was a continuous process of making yeast.  To make bread she would take half of the bottle of yeast and use this in making the bread.  She would cook a pan of potatoes on the stove and use this potato water solution to replace the liquid yeast she had taken from the bottle and replace the yeast she had used for the bread. 

carding wool to make wool yarn for cloth
Lizzie would take the shorn wool from the sheep and soak it in the #3 wash tub in water that was warmed over the outside fire pit.  She would wash and rinse the wool  many times until all the grease and dirt was removed.  The cleaned wool was then dried in the sun and stored for future use. 

To use the wool to make yarn she would use two carding boards.  These were boards with many short wires coming out of one surface.  She would put small amounts of wool between the two boards and brush the boards together, massaging the wool  until it became separated into individual threads all running in the same direction.  She would then roll these threads between her hands to make long threads of wool yarn.  Later these threads were woven into gloves, caps, jackets and sweaters.  Other wool was used as a filler for making quilts. 

a tribute to Lizzie
Lizzie was a very energetic, industrious woman and she knew how to get the most out of so little.  Though she had very little formal education, she learned very fast and was able to manage the demands put upon her by the requirements of daily life.  She insisted that her children would acquire a good education. 

Lizzie died at the age of 60 years, 9 months and 3 days.  This was from an appendix operation performed in the Salina Hospital.  The operation was successful but a blood clot developed after the fourth or fifth day and this was fatal. 

Lizzie's son, Clarence had his appendix operated on when he was 6 1/2 years old.  His operation at the time also seemed successful but as the surgery healed he developed a curvature of the spine.  It was believed at the time that some muscles were cut incorrectly and as they healed these muscles shortened and thus curving his spine.  Later it was thought that he had polio, a disease that very little or nothing was known of at that time. 

Veral's last good visit with his mother, Lizzie was when he graduated from Richfield High School in May, 1936.  Mother came to Richfield for the occasion and stayed several nights.  She stayed with him in a rented apartment on south main street.  This was where Veral, Reed and Clair lived this school year.  While walking to school mother pointed out the house she was born in and it was still quite well kept.  She and I visited the City Cemetery but failed to find the graves of her folks.  She knew they were here somewhere.  Years later Veral learned that these graves were under the Parade Ground and the football field where he had been playing football with the Richfield Team..

These graves were moved off the playing field to the west and there is now a permanent Marker there.  This marker gives the name of those buried in this early cemetery.  This was where Mother's half sister, Mary was buried.  She was killed by the Indians seven years before Mother's birth and is among those buried there.  She at 16 and an older couple was traveling by buggy between Glenwood and Richfield was ambushed at the Sevier River and the three of them were killed.  

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