Tuesday, July 12, 2011

SMITH CHRISTINA HISTORY of ARTIE JANE SMITH TAFT by ARTIE

PERSONAL HISTORY
of
ARTIE JANE TAFT
by ARTIE JANE TAFT
BICKNELL, UTAH 1964

Sarah Sariah & Jack Smith
I was born 17 March, 1893 in Thurber, Wayne County, Utah to Jorgen Smith (John or Jack to most people) and Sariah Durfey.  I was the fourth in a family of fifteen children.  I was born in a two room frame home at the South end of Saddle Knoll.  The trees that framed our home are standing there yet. 

It was no easy mater for Mother to keep us clean for the closest water was a half a mile South of us from the river and this had to be brought to the house on a horse.  But in spite of this, "Keep us clean she did."  Our home was always neat and clean even though she had to paper the walls with newspaper when it showed signs of being soiled.  "Oh" how I remember when we got our first real wallpaper with flowers and pretty designs on it.  We were so proud of it.  Pa thought he might like to add his touch to it all and pasted a big picture of Aunt Jemima right in the middle of the ceiling.  Everything we did Aunt Jemima watched.  We kids just thought it was just the greatest.  How did mother feel about it?  Well that's another story.  Our home was clean all right, but sometimes just a little airy, especially when the wind blew.  I can still remember how the carpet would rise up in the center of the room, settle down and puff up again.  Our carpets weren't as they are today.  They were woven in three foot  strips and sewn together to fit the room.  On the floor, we'd put straw for padding and then carpet over it.  Every few months it was necessary to take up the rug, remove the straw and clean the floor of all the dust that filtered through.  The rug would be taken outside and beaten until not another puff of dust could be pounded out, then new straw went into the house and the fresh clean rug on top of it.  We were all set for another few months. 

Sarah Sariah on Alma's lap
Pa had only one team of horses up until after I was married.  This team was steel gray and were known as Pet and Net.  In their old years they became pure white.  This team was very precious to us for it was our only means of transportation and much of our entertainment as well.  One day we hitched up the team and went for a ride.  On the way home, at the upper end of the Taft's farm, the team got frightened and away they ran.  Being a young strong team, it was almost more than Pa could do to get them stopped.  To us kids in the rear of the wagon, it was great sport bouncing around.  Our laughter and squeals of joy only made the team run faster.  We seemed to have no fear of the large boulders along side of the road or the switching of the wagon.  But to Mother in the spring seat up front and a small baby in her arms, it was far from a joy ride. 

At this stage of my life, our Thurber Town was down near the River.  It seemed the Taft Farm was seated in among most of the homes.  There were homes East, West and North, but none South of it.  This little town of Thurber had a schoolhouse and a store.  But the very life line of a city, this little town didn't have.  Good clean culinary water.  Their water was run to them in ditches and had to be dipped up and put in large barrels to settle.  In the Winter, it was still another problem.  During the freezing weather, they would go to the river and chop blocks out and haul them home where they would have to be melted for cooking, drinking and washing.  This was an extremely hard way to live.  Along with the unsanitary conditions it caused, much sickness and disease was known among the towns people.  Apostle Francis Marion Lyman suggested they move their town about a mile and a half North and pipe their culinary water out of Cottonwood Canyon which lay to the North of the new town site.  This the people agreed to do. 
Frank Haws   Jack  Smith

We stayed on the farm until my oldest sister became old enough to go to school.  Then Pa moved the little frame house to the new town site so Amanda could get her schooling.  The following year I was to start school.  We called it our little red school house.  It stands today on the Southwest corner of the High School  block.  It has since been stuccoed gray but was made of red bricks which were made and then burned on our farm.  This was only school building in the new town.  One morning I went to school, my fingers were frozen and aching.  My teacher, Mammie Meeks, put my fingers in her hair to draw the frost out.  It worked. 


My little school mates and I sat on the floor by the stove with our slates.  They were like small blackboards.  We wrote our lessons from a large chart with numbers, words and letters.  The chart had several large leaves.  As we learned the contents of a leaf, our teacher turned it back over the top of the rack and went on to the next leaf until we learned all the words and letters to the last leaf.  This was our first grade work.  From then on up, the grades had books.  All the grades were taught by one teacher until I was in the 6th grade, about 1902.  Now we had two buildings for school.  The other was the second story of the Stringham's Store (Alta Brinkerhoff owns it today).  The steps leading to our room were on the South side of the old store.  The town also used this building for recreation. 

One day I decided not to go to school, just as many a young child thinks.  My father didn't think along the same line as I.  I was lingering along the new picket fence thinking they would forget.  The little willow in Pa's hand reminded me that he had not forgotten.  I quickly decided the place for me was in school.  I never wanted to play truant.  My school mates were Annie Torgerson, Lula Durfey, Ethel Bullard, Effie Smith, Johnnie Torgerson, Ivan Taft and Lester Smith.  I always loved my teachers and felt they were the very best.  For this feeling, I owe my parents.  They lived the rule, "If you can't say something good about someone, don't say anything at all."  They lived a great example for their children. 

 Amanda Melvina  & Artie Jane Smith
My two older brothers died soon after their births.  This left Amanda and me as the two oldest children in the family.  Because of this, it left much of the responsibility of helping with all that was needed to raise such a large family up to her and me.  Amanda helped Mother inside, I was "Jack Smith's Little Tomboy".  This remark was teased to me from Jimmie Nielsen.  He ceased to tease me after I called him, "Nielsen's Little Girl" (Maren Catrina's son).  I was truly a big help to my father.  From the time I was eight years old, I milked cows.  We had no pastures so we put our cows on the bench lands and hills to graze.  It was my job to find them.  This was not always an easy mater.  It seemed their feet worked as hard as their mouths and many times they would be miles away.  I always left home early because it usually was necessary to hunt for them.  When luck was with me and I found them easily and close to home, I would stay with them until milking time.  When Winter came, we tried to keep our cows in the coral and feed them.  Old Curly would somehow get out and I always found her in a field about three miles away.  I would walk all that way to get her so one day I took my girl friend, Annie with me to get her.  I let Annie ride, this time I was trying to hurry Curly along.  I picked up a rock to help things along and instead of hurrying Curly, I hit poor Annie in the back.  It didn't happen to hurt her to badly.  When we got home I cooked us some supper.  She says lately I was so quick getting it ready she was surprised but I don't remember this part. 

I also helped in the hay.  While my father pitched it on the wagon I'd tromp it in tight.  Can you imagine my joy when Pa got me a pony to ride after the cows!  I tried to learn how to ride like a lady, sideways, but every time I got her on the lope, over backwards I'd go.  I seemed to always catch myself by putting my left arm around her neck and she would stop quick.  I never missed landing on my feet.  I so wished to ride like my mother but decided it was no use so I went back to the old way "stride".  I named the pony, "May" and she was my pride and joy. 

Artie  & Melvina Smith
When I was thirteen (1906) my sister Amanda had a severe accident and got her shoulder broken.  There were no doctors here so Brother Cuttler Behunin, (Dean Behunin's great grandfather) tried to set it and couldn't do much for her.  This left her helpless for sometime.  Mother wasn't well either so I took over all the heavy work, washing and cleaning, doing all I could do in a day.  One day, I was sorting clothes, getting ready to wash, this was done with a washboard and tub, it sure looked like a big job for a girl of thirteen to wash on the board for twelve people, this being the size of our family at this time. 

My mother came to the door and said, "Artie , What if we have twins?"  This puzzled me and I said, "Well, I guess I'd say just which one are we going to drowned?"  I had heard this story about the kittens.  After those two darlings were born, she said to me again, "OK Artie, which one shall we drown?"  My reply, "We'll keep them both."  Our joy and happiness with them was just double and so was the work they brought.  With Amanda's lame arm and Mother still not to well, it was all they could do to cook, iron, and do the mending.  There was indeed plenty for us all to do.  Now when the twins were eight months old, my father moved our little frame home back to the farm.  We wanted to go back to the old place South of Saddle Knoll but Pa said, "No, We'll move down close to the river."  So where the Harwood home stands today and just a little to the West is where he put our home.  But we were still too far from water anyway, a block to carry it in buckets.  It was still a hard job getting what water we needed up to the house.  Some people said my father moved his little frame home to town in the Winter and back to the farm in the Spring, but this is not so. 

Money was hard to get, so I went to Teasdale to work, from 1909 to 1910, for my mother's sister, Jane.  I was there all Summer and Winter doing housework and working in the store.  George Coombs bought it from them and now Prime Coleman owns it. 

Sarah Sariah and Jack Smith family
My parents always tried to teach me to live truth and right.  I was organist in the Primary when I was about 16, always went to Sunday School and Mutual on Tuesday night.  This was also the age when young men became of interest to me.  "OH, how I loved to dance."  Many's the dance we danced in the little red school house and the upstairs of the Stringham's Store with William Chidester, Jim his brother, Ivan Taft, Lester Smith and others.  Then I met Luther Dee Taft.  I really hadn't known there was such a fellow, being three years older than I was and he was the oldest boy at home in his family.  His father had been killed, leaving him the father's place to fill.  I suppose this kept him to busy to play around like some of the other young men of the area.  But then it seemed to me, there he was one day.  My Mother was very fond of him and felt this was the young man for me.  I didn't know.  As time went on, my mother's feelings became mine.  What fun we had  riding in the buggy with Bill and Amanda.  Our main interest was singing with one another.  We sang for many gatherings.  At home, I'd play the organ and Dee and I sang songs like, Pony Boy, Red Wing and Wild Rose.  Then on 13 June, 1911, we were married at Loa by the president of the Wayne Stake, Joseph Eckersley.  My mother, Sarah Sariah Durfey Smith and his mother, Olive Ethel Lyman Taft, were our witnesses.  We had a wonderful evening following the wedding.  Many of the towns people came down to the farm and gave us a grand reception.  I can see yet, Amanda dancing in the pig trough, which was the custom if the younger  daughter beats the older one married.  I didn't beat her far, but just far enough.  The following February 14th, 1912, we went to the Manti Temple were we were sealed for time and all eternity by President, Lewis Anderson.  Witnesses were Moses M. Mechan and William Bench. 

On 26 September, 1912, our first child was born.  "What a darling baby!  We chose to name her Myrtle.  She was born in the old rock room standing there on the Taft farm yet.  There was a small frame lean-to on the North of it which was used for the kitchen.  When Grandmother Taft came back to the farm to live in the Spring of 1913, Dee and I moved into a little log room just to the East of the main rock home.  Dee was still doing the Taft farming because the younger boys were not yet big enough to handle it alone. 

Dee got the crops in that Spring and then went to Fish Creek to work for John Chidester in the sawmill.  Dee worked for lumber to build our first home in town.  While in Fish Creek, Dee made Myrtle a play table much like the ones they have now.  We have laughed lately saying we have patented it, maybe we could have been wealthy.  It was just a small table with a hole in the center large enough to stand her in.  She could play with her toys and not have to be down in the black dirt.  We came home to the Taft farm and continued to live in the little log room.  The same Fall on the 20 November, 1913 Ruth was born.  Our second child another daughter.  She looked so much like her grandmother Taft.  This was the same year the Thurber townspeople accepted a libray from Mr. Bicknell in exchange for naming the town after him.  This came through George C. Brinkerhoff while he was on his mission. 

The following Summer, August 1914. we moved into our own home.  What a thrill this was  to move our two little daughters into a home of our own, even though it was not yet finished and wasn't to be for several years later. 

Even though we had food from the farm to eat, it seemed there were just to many things we needed money for.  Dee went to the mountain herding sheep to earn the necessary money.  Our little family seemed to be coming so fast it was hard to keep everything going as it should.  On the 22 August, 1915, our first son, Kay was born with the Lyman red hair and flashing disposition.  With a heart so large it seemed to consume his whole body, his life has been spent doing for others. 

Then we moved down to my father's farm while they went to Duchesne County to live for a while.  There 8 September, 1916, Lynn was born.  Such a pretty baby with dimples.  The following Spring we moved over to the Taft farm again.  This time to run the farm while Milton, Dee's brother filled a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Both of our parents were very religious and tried to install it in their children.  As each child turned eight years of age he or she would be baptized into the Church. 

In the Fall of 1917 my health seemed to fail me.  I had a large abscesses break into my stomach.  Grandmother Taft (my mother-in-law) was an angel of mercy in those months to come.  She faithfully nursed me and cared for my four small children, our oldest being barely four.  On the 18 February, 1918, Mack, our second son, was born.  Truly a child of god, he certainly was meant to be here for how I carried him through all my sickness I can hardly understand.  Even after his birth I couldn't seem to get better.  Dr. Nielsen finally got me back on my feet with the help of Mother Taft.  Bless her heart.  Then when Mack was ten months old, a large abscess appeared on my shoulder.  The doctor lanced it but it had already destroyed some of the bone in my shoulder.  I had to be taken to the hospital in Salina where Dr. Thome operated and removed some dead bone.  It seemed I would never get home to my little family.  My heart ached to spend Christmas with them.  Everyone was so grand to them while I was away.  The neighbors to the North of us, John Kyhl made the little girls a table and stools.  Olive, Dee's sister, saw to it that they each had a doll.  Dee took home to them a phonograph and records.  The first one the children had ever seen.  The girls speak yet of what an exciting Christmas it was.  In a community and family like Dee and I came from there seemed to always be a dear friend or family member to help out when there wasn't a way to do it for yourself. 

While I was away, the children all had the Asian Flu which took the lives of so many in the community.  We were very fortunate not to lose any of our loved ones.  Little Mack just didn't seem to get over his bout with it, and when he was just one year old he took pneumonia, had inflammation of the bowels, spinal trouble and water on the brain.  It looked as if we were to lose our darling baby after all.  Dr. Weaver came to see him but didn't give us any hopes for him.  Mother Taft and Aunt Mary Hiskey nursed him.  I was home by this time but my arm wouldn't let me do all the things I felt needed to be doing.  This precious boy lay at deaths door for three weeks.  It was conference and our Bishop, Anther Meeks, asked Samantha Baker to stay with us during the meeting.  As soon as it was over, he and the Elders came down and Dee administered to him asking our all wise Father in Heaven to let his will be done.  If this child could not get well physically and mentally to take him.  This was the wish of his parents and those who loved him so dearly.  In less than thirty minutes, he opened his eyes, held out his weak little hands to his grandmother Taft and called her Mama.  She was the only mother he had really known.  Because of my ill health I hadn't been able to care for him as I would have liked to.  From that time on, he was well.  This was a wonderful example of God's wonders to perform.  A great testimony to me. 


Due to my illness and Mack's terrible trouble, Dee had to sell the cattle and he had to mortgage the farm to pay for our doctor bills.  This left the farm in mortgage and no cattle to help pay it off.  Hard times were ours in these years to follow. 

Then our luck  was to change.  2 October, 1922 our third son, Don was born, a happy healthy baby.  Our neighbor, Florence Khyl, expressed it well when she said, "He looks so pleased to be here."  He seemed to be just that.  Always a happy child, many is to I've taken him to Relief Society and rather than make a disturbance, he would lay down on the bench beside me and go to sleep. 

When Don was nine months old, Dee got a job with the government, trapping.  This left a lot of farm work up to Kay even though he was still quite young to take on this kind of responsibility.  It seems we just what we have to do and he was no exception.  With the trapping job, we were soon to have better times.  The children didn't have to go with out so many things as before and we were starting to pay off that big mortgage on the farm. 

In the Spring of 1929, 4 March, Mother Taft slipped away.  God had need of her.  It was fitting that she go while busy for her hands had not known many idle moments in her entire life. 

Then, seven years, seven months and seven days after Don was born, on 9 May, 1930 we were to get our fourth daughter and last child.  Don said he believed grandma Taft went up to heaven, picked her out and sent her to us.  We named her after her grandmother, Olive Ethel Taft. 

This same Spring 11 March, 1930, Myrtle chose Howard Teeples to be her husband.  Six months later, Ruth took Charles E. Wilson to be her companion.  When a child married I never felt I lost a child but gained one instead. 

My mother had been ill and crippled with tuberculosis almost all of her later married life yet she had managed to raise a large and warm friendly group of children.  These last few years had seen her flat on her back in bed.  She became exceptionally worse and the children were called home, many of them being married by this time.  After the children arrived, she had a dream in which a heavenly being clothed in white came to her and said, "Sariah, here I have two bodies, one is crippled with disease and microbes, the other is whole and pure.  Which body would you have?  Mother answered, I've been crippled and felt a burden to my family for so long, I think I shall take the whole pure body." 

Thinking Mother was to get well, some of the children went back to their homes and families.  A short time later, 14 April, 1932, I was sent for.  Mother had almost reached the end of her journey her on this mortal earth.  Her sister, Jane and I were with her that last day.  I'm content with the thought that my being there may have made it easier for her somehow.  Suffering so, she looked up at Aunt Jane and me and asked us if we would please let her go.  She needed to so badly.  We agreed.  As she started to slip away, Aunt Jane started to sob softly.  Mother rallied.  "Please Aunt Jane, you promised," I whispered.  She dried her eyes and mother slipped into that beautiful new body God had offered her.

On 24 October, 1934, Lynn was to marry H. Vern DeLeeuw. 

My father had lived in our home much of the time after mother died.  He had spent some time in California and Wyoming.  I was always glad to have him return home each time.  He was such a patient man, he seemed to never be any bother, never cross with the children.  Ethel still remembers how he held her on his lap and told her stories for hours and the patient hours and days he spent teaching her how to get her shoes on the right feet, lacing them and just how to tie the knots.  He seemed to attract people.  They enjoyed talking to him.  It seemed almost more than a coincidence that his two sisters, Lizza Mott and Rena Holt from Torrey and a distant cousin, Mellie Nebeker Blackburn from Loa, my daughter and her family from Salina as well as all the family here in town felt it necessary to come and see Pa.  The day was 24 June.  Such a house full.  I took Ethel and went to the neighbors to (Lula Browns's) to sleep that night.  Pa was in very good health and sprites and seemed to enjoy them all a great deal.  He cracked pine nuts with the bottom of a fruit bottle and fixed all the little ones shoes.  He was tired from the busy day he had spent and went to bed fairly early. 

The next morning, while I was fixing breakfast, Kay went to call Pa.  It seemed strange to have to call him as he was usually the first one up, but he had been tired from the previous days activity.  Kay peeked in and said, "Breakfast is ready Grandpa."  Later when he still didn't get up Kay went back and found his grandfather unable to hear him.  He slept himself into glorious new surrounding.  This was 25 June, 1938. 

In 19?? I was to gain a new son, not by marriage or birth but by choice.  One afternoon, the front door opened and in slipped a suitcase and then another and a smiling red head appeared.  "Where should I put them, Mom," he said.  Clifford Olsen had come to our home to live.  His pleasant disposition made it easy to feel  as near to him as a son.

And then a dream every mother dreams was to come true. One of my sons was to fill an LDS mission.  Mack spent most of his time in California and Messa, Arizona from 1941 to 1943. 

On 7 December, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and our nation was at war.  Meat, sugar, gas, rubber, nylon and many other items were rationed.  This seemed hard to try to get along without some of these things, but then my sons were To go into the service of their country and rationing seemed to lose it's sting.  There was in me a pain so large, seeing four boys and one leave the protection of their home to serve their country is a heartbreak that can not be explained.  One must experience it to know the hurt.  Kay could see nothing else but the Air Force and he served it well.  He was an engineer on a B 17.  On his 13th mission over Germany his plane was hit by enemy artillery.  Five of the ten men aboard got down alive.  Our Kay was one of them.  He was taken prisoner and treated very badly.  They were march for hundreds of miles, many of the boys lost their lives along this march.  The end of the war liberated him.  Any sickness or hurt I've ever had can not compare with the feeling inside me the day that government letter came stating, "Kay S. Taft missing over Germany while on bombing mission."  I never knew for many months whether he was alive or not.  Then the letter came from the Red Cross with our old Post Office Number on it.  The number Kay would have known.  Maybe someone else could have written that short note, "I'm all right and well, Kay".  No one but Kay would have used that old box number which had since been changed. 

Mack naturally chose the Navy.  His love for the water made it an attraction to him.  If he must serve this was the place for him.  Many the times down at the old swimming hole in the river he would dive down and bring up boulders heavier than his own weight, the buoyancy of the water making this possible.  He too served well, becoming an officer and trained young men in Farriggate, Idaho until the end of the war. 

Clifford Olsen, the boy I mentioned earlier, chose the Navy Air Force.  He became an officer and never had to see actual combat, but helped to win the war from here in the States.  He too came home to us after the war ended in 1945. 

Jay, my brother, was to serve his country and give his life for it also.  He joined the Marines.  He was to young to join without a guardian signing for him so Norman, our brother who was living in California, signed for him.  He was sent to the Hawaiian Islands before the war started and was on a ship returning to the USA when word was received to return to the aid of Pearl Harbor.  He was taken prisoner one of those first few terrible days and was marched with the other prisoners in the Baton Death March.  Several escaped and made their way to the hills where they hid out and made guerrilla attacks on the Jap at night.  Women in the villages hid food for them under small dirt mounds.  Knowing the men were getting food from somewhere, the Japs started torturing the women of the village.  As a result the gorillas gave themselves up, Jay being one of them.  On 14 October, 1944 these prisoners were put on an unmarked prisoner of war ship and were being shipped to Japan when one of our own planes strafed the ship, sinking it and all the prisoners as well.  This was 24 October, 1944.  

Young, handsome men, it was natural for them to start to marry now.  Don met and married Patricia Alice Burke in California 2 February, 1944.  She however was from Spokane, Washington.

Mack was the next to take a wife, Hazel Fowers on 24 May, 1945.  She was a Wave in the Navy.  Her native home was Hooper, Utah. 

Then Clifford married La Rae Maxfield of Lyman, Utah on 17 December, 1947.  She was an identical twin. 

Kay married Berta Taylor on 3 August, 1947.  She was from Fremont, Utah. 

Then Ethel married Marvin G. Petersen 9 July, 1949.  Marvin was born and raised in Glenwood, Utah. 

I'm very proud of the way our family grew up and chose good companions.  They have given Dee and I a wonderful posterity with 30 grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren. 

far left Jack Smith   Jorgen & Mette Smith Jed Mott Black Hawk Reunion
Shortly after Ethel married, Dee and I bought Harvey Mangums home, one lot East and across the street from our first home.  It's a comfortable home and we are enjoying it very much. 

During my married life I worked in the Stake Primary, was taken from there and placed in the Stake YWMIA with Beta Meeks as president.  After this I was councilor to Beatrice Brinkerhoff in the Stake Relief Society for five years.  I have been a Relief Society teacher for 40 years, this position you hold with your other offices.  I am still a teacher and probably will be the rest of my days. 

The Lord has truly been good to me.  He has given me loving kind parents, a faithful husband and seven plus Clifford, wonderful children. 

I have never knelt to pray that I have not felt that I have been heard.  Each year I live, my testimony of his great goodness grows. 

Dee and I are both in reasonably good health and are enjoying our sun-down years together.  Happy with the thought that our children are such a fine group of men an women.  Maybe my motherly pride is showing but they seem to be blessed with many talents.  It seems that what ever anyone of them take upon themselves to-do they succeed. 

ARTIE JANE SMITH TAFT
May 8, 1964

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