Wednesday, July 13, 2011




There was no electric system in Torrey.  Gas lanterns and kerosene lamps were the norm for light at night in the homes and public buildings.  The public buildings were the two stores, the school and the church.  Then something real exciting took place.  New electric technology were found in two places in town.  One was at the home of Alonzo (Lawn) King who went electrically modern.  Electricity in the home was coveted by most of the people in Torrey.  It consisted of a gasoline powered engine that turned an electric generator.  It was housed in a little shed on the south wall of his house.  It had electric wiring leading up to the attic of his house and an electric light installed in the ceiling of each room.  The King house was on the lot just west of the Church, just over the fence west of the church.  In a matter of only a short time the Bishop (Bishop Ephraim Port Pectol) and other Ward Officials decided to purchase the same Delco Electric System for the Church.  After all the Church was sort of a multi-purpose building:  Church on Sunday, Mutual and all other social activities on week days.  There were dances, basketball games, theater plays and others.  There was a large stage at the north end of the building with a full basement underneath the stage area and the kitchen.  The basement consisted of an all purpose storage room and two class rooms. 

The Delco plant system was installed in the storage room of the basement.  The exhaust was never piped to the outside they just opened the west window in the basement to let the gasses dissipate to the west.  The wiring was extended to the stage and the combination basketball and dance hall part of the building.  They then planned for a celebration dance for the great electric technological advancement of the lighting of their Church building.  So, there was much excitement in the town that night.   The orchestra arrived and started to play in a well lighted building.  Two orchestras, Sam Chidester's and Claud Holt's. 

The boot-leggers also showed up to peddle their home brewed whiskey, so, they would have money to buy their kids some shoes for school.  (normal procedure during prohibition days) Before Roosevelt repeal of the 18th amendment.  Many of those would be sure to come to Church next Sunday, needed a little bit of that boot-legged whiskey to limber up their legs so they would be right in tune with the lively music of the orchestras.  There was a variety of tunes, polkas, waltzes, fox trot, cha cha, etc.  After all, the money spent for the booze was for a good cause.  It was helping some poor kids have shoes to go to school with.

Well! Well!  Guess what happened.  A nice west breeze started to blow of about ten to fifteen miles per hour.  Which was quite normal for that time of year.  It started to blow into the open west window of the basement.  Because the people were going in and out of the rear entrance, the door a the head of the basement was left open also the door from the kitchen to the dance floor was left open.  The west wind brought the exhaust fumes right up the stairs into the dance hall.  People began to pass out left and right.  At first, some thought that the boot-legger hooch was a bad batch of whiskey.  My dad and mother were sitting on a bench right next to the door that led to the dance hall.  My mother was the first one to pass out.  My dad felt so puzzled, so he said, because he knew she had never tasted the stuff in all her life.  Then people began passing out all over the floor.  My dad passed out.  Soon, they started to evacuate the building as rapidly as possible and opened all the windows on each side of the dance hall.  As I headed for the door I felt so light headed, I thought I wouldn't make it.  I made it though and it felt so good to face that nice west breeze.  They got the Wayne County doctor there as soon as possible.  There must have been a fourth of all there passed out.  The quick action and advise by the doctor saved those that passed out inside.  The door was immediately closed leading into the dance hall to the basement and all the windows on the east and west side of the dance hall were opened.  So, the west wind blew right through the building and cleared it quickly of contamination.  Nobody died from it but many felt sick and weak for a few days. 

CARBIDE LIGHTS   by Jay C. Smith

My Grandfather Smith was interested in getting a Delco Electric plant for his home.  And would have probably been the third one in town to obtain one but after the Church ordeal, he wanted nothing to do with it.  It wasn't long until a salesman came to town selling a carbide lighting and cooking system and Granddad bought one.  A hole was dug next to the house that was to contain the metal tank for the carbide granules.  Then a pipeline led from the tank to the lights and cook stove in the house.  When water was dispensed into the tank the carbide gave off a gas that flowed through the pipe to the lights and stove producing light and heat.  It was a sensation in town and most all came to see it.  But, Grandpa and Grandma were much disappointed in it.  They well advertised their disappointment.  So, the salesman was not able to sell another unit in town.  Much to his disappointment.  He hoped to carbide the whole town. 

In the town of Torrey back in the 1920's and 1930's, especially in the 1920's, everybody had a dog, some several dogs.  No one seemed to have dog proof fences and so the dogs were free to roam the streets at pleasure.  Sometimes they would form large packs and become destructive, especially if they could get into somebody's sheep pasture.  So, those who owned sheep used counter measures of poison and shotguns.  None of the correspondence course lawyers was interested in trying to prosecute a sheep owner for killing a few dogs. 

Anyway, there were not many cars in town but the dogs started chasing and barking at these cars.  Sometimes there would be as many as twenty dogs chasing one car.  Uncle Bus always had one or more of these cars.  I don't know where uncle Bus got the idea of how to deal with these dogs, whether it was his own idea or someone told him about it.  Anyway, he would take a burlap sack and wire the open end to the spokes of the wheel, all the cars had wooden spoke wheels then.  He would do this to all four wheels.  As he would go down the street the sacks would be twilling around on the wheels of the car.  The dogs would grab at the sacks with their mouth causing the burlap fabric to twist up on their teeth.  It would roll the dogs round and round sometimes breaking the dogs neck.  Of course, dead dogs didn't chase cars any more.  Those that came lose after being rolled a few times didn't chase cars any more either.  It wasn't log until Uncle Bus's car could go up and down the streets without a single dog giving chase.  All the people of the town, even the dog owners seemed to think a good thing had happened.  Soon all the cars in Wayne County had burlap on their wheels

there was a fellow who had immigrated from Ireland.  He prospected for gold in the summer.  He panned gold down on the gravel banks of the Colorado River and the creeks that came off the Henry Mountain and drained into the Colorado River.  He was known by all as William Hay.   He became a good friend of Granddad Smith and also to Sidney Curtis.  In the winter he would come up out of the Lower Country with his pack animals, burrows and saddle horse and sort of take turns at staying at Granddad's and at Curtis's.  He always had gold that he was bartering off for money.  He was always very secretive where he found the gold and also where he kept the gold he owned.  He did not mooch off from anybody, but paid well. 

He had a real peculiar religious story where he told about this religious experience in Ireland.  And why he left Ireland.  He was training to be a Catholic Priest in Ireland when he had doubts about some of the religious doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church.  His arguments were so strong and defiant that they kicked him out of the school and the Church.  His family disowned him.  His friends deserted him.  He was penniless with no friend but God.  He gave his precious Savior all the credit for answering his prayers and leading him to America and giving him new friends who lead him to the Henry Mountains to find gold.  He hated all organized religions.  All officers of religion, Bishops, Preachers and Priests.  The whole lot.  He was tougher on the Catholic Church, and their Priests, and their Fathers and their Cardinals.  They were just a bunch of hypocrites.  His precious Savior, Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God were the only persons that counted in religion.  It was noticed when anyone would whistle the least bit around him he would get nervous and if it continued, he would get very upset.  He showed reluctance to explain why such behavior.  Finally he told the reason.  When he got kicked out of the Catholic Church and the Seminary, the Priest said,  "You will be jeered and whistled at the rest of your life."  He always said he did not want a home, he just wanted to be like his precious Savior with no place to lay his head.

He stayed quite a lot of the time in the winter in Grandpa's (William Smith) camp house.  He called it his upper room.  He was encouraged to live in the camp house with the understanding that he was to share it with passing travelers.  If it became full Billy would go stay with the Curtis family.  He also had a tent setup by the camp house that he could move into.  He was most cooperative and helpful in obtaining business for the camp house even when he was staying permanently there for awhile.  He kept the place spotlessly clean and orderly.  He was helpful in his own way but he would not be bossed.  You could not ask Billy to do anything but if  he knew of something that needed to be done, it would come up fixed in very good repair.  Billy usually wouldn't take credit but give the credit to some fairy he saw about that time.  Billy became a close friend to all the Smith and Curtis families and most of the town people.  He told lots of stories about his early life in Ireland and United States.  His Irish accent and humor made them very interesting. The bludy Irish, the durty, durty English.  The Catholic Church officials and the King and Queen of England were no pals of Billy's. 

He thought the Mormon people were the best people he knew but the only thing he wanted from the Mormon Church was to be buried in a Mormon Cemetery.  He said,  "That was the last place the devil would look for a bloody Irishman."  He died at the Curtis home while I was on my mission about a year, I guess, before my Grandfather died.  He got his wish he was buried in the Mormon Cemetery. 

It was always believed he had some gold laid up somewhere.  I have often wondered how he is making out in the Spirit World?  

Caroline and her children were one of the earlier settlers of Torrey.  Her husband was John Doyle Lee.  Caroline was his third wife.  She was the mother of four children.  I'm not sure when the Lee's settled here but it must have been after her husband had been executed for being blamed for the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  Jay C. Smith said,  "My Grandfather Smith (William) felt that John D. Lee was sacrificed to get the pressure off the Church.  He said his father, Jorgen Smith felt the same way." 

In the spring of 1857 a group of immigrants from Missouri and Arkansas were passing through all of Utah and were now in  Southern Utah and going on to California.  They boasted of having driven the Mormons out of Missouri and Illinois.  They called themselves "Missouri Wildcats".  They said they were going to return and help the US Army help exterminate the Mormons.  They were heavily armed and caused trouble all the way, finding many enemies.  The Indians called them the Mericats who shot at them  for no reason.  On their way they had poisoned an ox that killed a number of Piute Indians and poisoned a spring that killed some cattle and made some Mormon families sick.  By the time they reached Mountain Meadows they had attracted several hundred angry Indians who commenced an attack on them on 8 September, 1857.  A number of whites soon arrived on the scene.  Then on 11 of September, 1857 the whites arranged a truce where if the emigrants gave up their arms they would be safely led away.  But they were deceived and all killed.  120 men, women and children.  Sixteen small children were saved.  The Massacre was a great tragedy that Brigham Young tried desperately to stop.  The Church took the stand that the Church was not responsible and the guilty should be punished.  How Lee became the scrape goat I don't know because others were there.  He was proven innocent in two trials by Mormon juries.  But he was retried twenty years later with a Gentile jury and executed 23 March, 1877 at Mountain Meadows. 

Moving from Panguitch, Utah Caroline and her children settled in Torrey.  The oldest child, Josephine married John Hancock.  The boy's were Charles, Harvey and Walter Brigham.  Walter was born six years after the massacre.  He ordained me a teacher.  All the children remained active and devoted to the Church.  They claimed that their father told them that the Church was true and pleaded that they remain active and devoted.  They felt that Brigham Young could and should have saved their dad from the execution.  They claimed their father, John D. Lee shook hands with all of the firing squad and told them please center my heart, boys and please don't mangle my body.  He was sitting on his coffin for the execution and fell into it with no struggle at all.  Brigham Young died that same year, 1877. 

Now here in Arizona we have four descendants of John Doyle Lee who are members of the Ward.  One is my next door neighbor and first councilor to the bishop.  All are in leadership positions. 

My Grandfather, William Smith told me an interesting story about their life in Notom, Aldridge and Wayne, County.  About some of their disagreements and even lawsuits.  Seems like they had plenty of lawyers.  Many got their degree from a correspondence course but some even did better, they got their degree in law by just ordering a plaque with their name on it from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog. 
Elijah Cutler Behunin was one of those kind of lawyers and often signed his name E.C. Behunin Attorney at Law.  One time a cowman brought up a herd of steers from down around the Henry's (Henry Mountains) for sale.  When he got to Aldridge the feed was good so he left them there for a few days.  The kids had to walk to school.  Some of these steers wasn't used to seeing kids on foot and they acted a little snortty like.  This condition came to the attention of Lawyer E.C. Behunin.  So, he wrote a letter to the owner of the steers.  The cowman lived in Teasdale.  He immediately went and got the steers and thanked Lawyer Behunin for his legal attention.  He framed the letter and kept it as a keep-sake.  I saw it several times and read it.  This is the way it read, as I remember it:  This is not word for word but it is close:

Mister George Coleman:
Those steers you left here in the vicinity of our children's school are wild animals.  The steers were snorting at the school children when they were walking up the hollers and down the ridges.  I have decided to give you two days to remove the steers from the vicinity of the school.  If they are not removed by that time I and others are going out well armed to test their fighting potential, and if they show sign of fight they will be shot on the spot. 

E.C. Behunin Attorney at Law

The Cowman, George Coleman was my mother's father (my Grandfather Coleman).  My mother had been teaching at the Aldridge School.  She taught there until shortly after she married my Dad.  She was boarding at the Johnson Family home and had her own saddle horse there.   The steers were left there so my Mother could sort of keep track of them. They had to come to Pleasant Creek close to the school for water and the feed was good.  My Grandfather Coleman immediately went and got the steers and thanked Lawyer Behunin for the gracious way he handled such a delicate matter.   I think he took the steers to Green River.  They were always the best of friends. 

My Grandfather Coleman was the one who filed on South Creek, that mostly came from the West side of the North Henry and a tributary that came in to it before South Creek from the middle Henry adds to the stream, before it was ditched out on the flat to irrigate what has become the famous King Ranch of the Henry's.  Grandfather took in two partners, Ben Baker and Neal Forsyth in developing the place.  They sold it to King.  My Grandfather didn't want to sell it to King but was over ruled by his partners.   

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