Saturday, July 16, 2011


Life in the Early Days
Thomas W. Busenbark

One early settler, Thomas W. Busenbark,(a boy at the time)  arrived in America from Scotland in August 1914.  He came to Torrey where his mother and her new husband lived.  He wrote about his arrival in Torrey… “Few people, houses few and far between.  I thought it all resembled another western silent movie scene.  Had bread and milk for supper which was a standard meal for that area on those days.” (but something he had never eaten)

As typical of youth of that day he writes, “My first job was helping my older brother herd cows, sheep and pigs to keep them out of the hay and grain fields; that was a tiring and monotonous assignment.”

He speaks of a temple trip to Manti, which must have been usual for that day.  “Left Torrey early in the morning in our covered wagon (March 1915) arrived at Taylor’s farm just above Loa near night fall.  We made it to the 'tanks’ the second night in a snow storm.  The next night we camped at Burrville. The third night we bedded down at the Willow Patch. On the fourth morning roads were better and we made it to Salina for the night.  The sixth night we arrived in Manti.  Our temple work was completed in about a week.  We had such a pleasant environment in the house of the Lord, it renewed our faith, calmed our feelings and our trip home seemed more pleasant, rewarding and satisfying.”

In Aug 1915 the Busenbark family moved from Torrey to Grover. Following are some of the boyhood memories of Thomas as he grew up in Grover.

Grain threshing: “It started in October and lasted into November.  Six teams of work horses pulled and tugged to turn a series of gears that were connected to the thresher to make it operate.  The horses just went around and around doing their work, but going nowhere.  The thresher itself was always breaking down and nothing pleased us kids more, because that gave us a rest from pitching straw, and some time to fool around and play games.  Other nice benefits about threshing other than the wheat and the oats, was the straw. The straw was not just for feeding the livestock in the winter, but filling our tick mattresses on which we slept.  When you first filled the ticks it was like sleeping on a rubber ball; but after a few nights the straw settled down.  This mattress arrangement had its good “points” and some not so desirable.”

The Grist Mill: “Every fall after threshing our grain we would load up our wagon with wheat and take it to the Syrett Grist mill for processing into flour and germane.  This mill was between Teasdale and Bicknell and about 12 miles from Grover.  It was a full day to make the trip that time of the year, because we had a heavy load.  If Syrett was busy it might take him two or three days before he could get to grinding our grain.  So we couldn’t get too excited, just relax and take it easy and hope for the best.  But we were prepared, we had a grub box and bedding.  Camping out was just part of Wayne County life.”

Stores:  “There was no store in Grover when we arrived.  The closest stores were in Torrey or Teasdale, nine miles away.  That took all day to go in a wagon or a buggy because you always visited someone when you arrived and generally had dinner (noon meal).  No one was in such a big hurry.  In later years Sidney Rymer and his family ran a store near their house for a while.  It had limited supplies, but for what it had, it was very useful.  We didn’t depend on the store for much in those days.  We tried to raise or trade for most of our supplies and then, too, we had very little money.”

There was a store in Teasdale and one in Torrey.  Teasdale people usually went to Teasdale, but did go to Torrey for something different.

At one time Teasdale had two stores.  During December 1887 Sylvester Williams, George Coleman and Fred Noyes joined together and started a small store in Teasdale.  This was later taken over by Jane S. Coleman.  About 1900 she sold the goods to George and Willard Brinkerhoff of Thurber.  They built a two-story adobe structure and stocked it with goods.  Besides the Brinkerhoff’s several other people had a little stock in the store and it became known as the Teasdale Co-op.  Until 1896 all freight for stores and other purposes was hauled by team and wagon over rough roads from Nephi.  Ten to twelve days was required for the round trip. When the railroad came into Sevier Valley, the time and distance was cut one half.

The store had advantages for the children, too.  One fun activity was to jump on the wool bags.  In the spring after the sheep were sheered, the wool was put in huge bags, weighing between 500 – 600 pounds.  These would be stacked by the store until they could be taken to market. As a child, Sister B loved to play with the other children on these bags of wool; play on, in and around, and hide and seek.

Many of the businesses in Torrey have come since Highway 24 was paved and the Capitol Reef Park became a tourist attraction.  The predecessor of the Chuckwagon was first built in 1910.  George H. Crosby, Jr. opened the first store in December 1898; however, it appears to have closed sometimes before the second store was opened.  About 1912 when the Pectol’s had ownership of the store, they named it “The Wayne Umpire” and sold about everything imaginable: groceries, lace, washtubs, horseshoes, bullets and even dynamite.  A 55 gallon drum of kerosene stood just inside the front door and there were barrels of bulk goods in front of, and behind, the counter—sold by the pound, gallon or portion thereof; not the individual packaging of today.  On the counter was a big wheel of cheese, purchased from the cheese-makers of Bicknell; a large knife was used to slice off a piece the size the purchaser wanted. 

For many years the store was also the place where caskets were hand-crafted of wood by Leo Holt and Walter B. Lee.  They were “trimmed” at night by Dot and Rena Holt and perhaps others.  The caskets were padded, covered and trimmed by the talented and loving hands of these ladies, who also took turns, nervously lying in the caskets, to assure the fit was right for each corpse.  The viewing usually took place in the parlor in the front of the Pectol’s home. (This was probably because Port Pectol was Bishop of the Torrey ward for 16 years.)

Thomas Busenbark continues:
Crops:  “What kinds of croups were raised in Grover?  Wheat, oats, alfalfa hay, wild grass hay, most kinds of vegetables, such as carrots, beets, onions, potatoes, cabbage, string beans and peas.  Sometimes they could raise corn if there wasn’t an early frost, which often happened.  Melons were off the list due to frost and fruit trees were not successful due to the short season.   People used to trade wheat or oats for fruit which they could get in Fruita.”

Meals:  “What did people eat in those days?  Thomas remembers:  “We ate about anything that was eatable.  There was no such thing as you didn’t like this; you didn’t like that, you ate what was on the table and thanked the Lord for it.  Breakfast generally consisted of Germane mush with plenty of cow’s milk or cream.  In the spring when the chickens started laying, we had eggs.  For dinner (noon meal) we had some kind of meat if available.  If we didn’t have meat, we had beans, potatoes with gravy and there was always lumpy dick.  In summer, as an extra treat, we often had pigweed greens, dandelion greens, or water cress.“As there was no refrigeration, meat was hard to keep in the summer.  Folks who raised sheep would sometimes kill one in the summer and it would last a week.  In the fall we would have deer meat and in the winter pork or rabbit.  We seldom had beef, as that was one of our few means of getting cash. 
The big problem mother had in cooking those days was keeping a supply of grease, because it was used in so many ways.  Grease was used to cook but also to make soap and homemade candles.  Every fall we would feed one or two hogs extra good just to get extra lard.  This was the only time my mother had enough grease to make doughnuts and how we kids liked them. 

“For supper (night meal) the standard dish was the easiest to prepare; bread and milk and fruit.  Fruit was a prized food at our house; you had to put up enough in season to last the whole year.  When you consider a big family of ten or more who could eat 4-6 quarts of bottled fruit a day, it was almost impossible to have enough on hand.  Then, too, for supper we would eat as many as six big loaves of bread or more and gallons of milk.  I mentioned in arriving that I didn’t like bread and milk, but I got over that; I had no choice, you have to eat to live and that’s what I did.

“Until the 1930s there were no electric lights in Grover.  We used coal oil lamps.  Gas lamps gave out more light, but were more expensive and somewhat dangerous.  Generally, gas lamps were used at the meeting house.  Sometimes, at home we ran out of coal oil, then we lit up our homemade candles if we hadn’t run out, or sat around the fireplace and watched the logs burn which was always fascinating.”

A Teasdale resident remembers having carbide light.  Carbine was mixed with water and put in metal tank, that would form a gas and it would come through pipes and burn light in the house. It was only used for a few years, it was dangerous because the fumes could explode.  After the carbine system, they had electricity from the power plant which was in Torrey; Torrey was where the power plant for the whole county was. It was a stock company and everyone contributed. 

Again, Thomas writes, “One family had a Victrola phonograph and lots of records and the Grover kids used to love to go there and hear the music play.  Often we would have ice cream and cake and play games.  Making your own ice cream took a united work. Different people brought the ingredients and everyone helped turn the freezer handle.  When it was finally frozen, which seemed hours, we appreciated it very much.“Fishing was more for food than for fun, as was rabbit hunting.  Cottontail rabbits taken in the winter months and dressed properly made a tasty dish.”

One Notom resident wrote of their “refrigerator.”  To keep things cool in the summer many had a burlap cooler.  It was a box that stood on legs about two feet from the ground.  It had shelves and one side was hinged for a door.  This frame was covered with screen to keep animals and insects out.  A large metal pan was placed on top and filled with water. Burlap was placed in the pan and hung down all sides of the cooler.  Water dripping down the burlap kept the inside quite cool. At least the milk wouldn’t sour over night.

Another type of cooler was made by placing a tight wooden box in the side of a ditch.  The dirt around it was damp and on one side there was running water.  Every container in there had to be closed tightly.  Usually food was put in bottles with tight lids.

About twenty Teasdale and Grover residents did find a way around the no refrigerator problem. These families went together and formed a Beef Trust.  They started out in March or April and went for 20 weeks. They would kill one beef a week and cut it into 20 pieces.  Every family would get a different cut each week.  During the 20 weeks the combined families had eaten one beef a week.  Everyone enjoyed it.  The thing that made it good was the beef was fresh.  In the summer, not many people had fresh meat. 

Childhood play:   A sister in Notom tells of games she enjoyed playing as a child.  They liked to make boats by scooping out summer squash and sailing them in the creek with hollyhock children in the “boat.” Sliding down the sand dunes was another fascinating activity.  In the hills east of Notom there were petrified dinosaur bones, petrified wood, agate and other pretty rocks and some Indian artifacts.  The young children frequently went horse back riding looking for and collecting these rocks. Children often spent the afternoons playing games like jump the rope, hopscotch, guinea, steal stick, Annie-I-over, horse shoes, jacks and ball games.  A brother in Torrey remembers as a child playing kick-the-can; he liked bon fires where he and his friends would often roast chicken over the fire.  They like hunting and fishing.

A Teasdale resident commented that boys and girls played games like many other rural areas: marbles, mumble peg, fox and geese in winter, jacks, hop scotch (draw in dirt with stick) and Annie-I-over. (One side threw the ball over the house, if you caught it on the other side, you ran around the house and threw the ball at a person to hit them.  So the person throwing the ball would throw and wait, if it did not come back he would know it had been caught and he had better run, but which way?)

For basketball an old bucket with its bottom out was nailed to the side of the house or shed. They used a rubber ball to play “Twenty-one.”  In Teasdale, before the cultural hall had a ceiling, there were just rafters to the roof.  The high-light of basketball practice was to throw the basketball and hit the top of the building.  If you could do that, you were great!

Fencing was an activity of working and playing together (this is not the fencing with swords)  Miles of fence, it seemed, were built.  One son remembers: father would determine where to place the posts, the two sons would help dig the holes and stretch the wire and the two daughters would pound in the staples to fasten the wire to the posts.

Today’s “older” people remember that as children they played with each other in the family.  They always remember working more than they played.  All children had chores to do after school.  Chores were things such as feeding the chickens and pigs, chopping or bringing in wood; many, many things to do.  In summer there was always the garden to take care of; every one had cows, pigs, and chicken. The goal was to have enough to eat!

Many families had a ranch outside the main town and also a house in town.  Families would live in the house in town during the winter so the children could attend school and in the summer they would move to their ranch house to take care of the livestock and have a garden.  The ranch was often only three to five miles from town, but that was a long way when one has to walk.  So the children didn’t play with other families much in the summer. Birthday parties were the big thing. 

Men would understand about the ranch house outside of town; it was just a “make do” home.  But one sister, when she married one of these ranch men and moved to her husband’s  family ranch, was surprised to find there was running water to the cattle but no running water to the house.  It didn’t take her long to have her father put in a water line to the house!

The typical house of the day had no plumbing.  Drinking water came from a well near the house.  The privy was out by the wood pile, some distance from the house, and a good old Sears Roebuck Catalogue was the favorite and “only” toilet paper. When electricity came to town most houses had inside plumbing and lights, but these conveniences weren’t available on the farm. 

School:  Torrey – Sister C, who grew up in Bicknell, remembers as a child each town had their own school.  On Armistice Day all the children came to Torrey for a “celebration.” She remembers that she liked the celebration but the big trees leaning over both sides of the road were scary to her.  But as a grown up, she thinks they are great.

In the 1950s all of the little schoolhouses in the communities were closed and everybody was transported either to Bicknell or Loa to school. 

Activities:  In the summer the annual rabbit hunt was fun for everyone. Torrey and Teasdale teamed up against Bicknell and Lyman for a hunt. They killed many rabbits (the rabbits were destructive to the area) the team who lost put on a dinner for everyone.  But it wasn’t a rabbit dinner.  A few men had dogs to hunt the lions and cougars that were sometimes in the area.

In the winter skating on Coleman’s reservoir was a popular activity.  Often when it snowed it could be two or three days before the road grader came, snow would be well packed by then.  That is how one Grover resident said they learned to skate, on the ice-packed roads. 

Brother B in Torrey remembers getting up early some summer mornings to walk up Boulder Mountain to go fishing.  Other boys liked to go to the canal and go swimming under the bridge.

Brother W remembers one Indian tribe would come asking for food.  As a child he would hide under the table because he was afraid.  The Navajo would come in the fall to hunt and get meat.  They would bring blankets to trade for horses.  People were not afraid of them.

Brother C remembers when school was out, his job was to drive the cows up to pasture in the morning, higher up the mountain where there was good grass.  One cow had a bell around its neck to make it easier to locate the herd, because in the summer when the grass was tall, the cows would go crazy for the grass and go all over the place. The job was to go around the herd and keep them together.  Also, the bell was important because if a boy got playing and forgot to keep track of the cows, he could find them by listening. At night the cows were driven home.  It was usual to leave after breakfast and the cows had been milked, stay until afternoon time and then start for home.  It was a lot easier to get them to pasture than it was to get them home. When they were grazing there was time to play; things such as make bows and arrows, go fishing with a willow, a string, and a grasshopper for bait, making a flipper or sling shot, design roads with rocks, sometimes play cards and learn to track…because if one did not watch the cows close enough they got away and you had better be able to find them!
Brother W remembers in his youth a milk cow was anything that looked like she would give milk.  She was caught out of the herd of cattle and brought in to the corral and then she was broke to milk.  As the cow would come to her calf, “all we’d have to do is open the gate and she’d go in.  Then we’d let the calf suck for a second or two, then take it away and sit down on a three-legged stool and milk the cow in an open bucket, then pour the milk through a strainer, and take it to the house where mother used it to make cheese.  We had a separator we would run the milk through. A rich cream would come out of one spout and skimmed milk would come out another spout. The skimmed milk was fed to the pigs and the cream was sold to the Creamery.” Usually, these cows were kept on the farm in the summer and turned back to pasture in the winter when the family moved to town so the children could go to school.

Valentines Day – was a fun day.  A valentine game was “snatch/grab.”  The big thing was to leave a valentine on the door step of friends.  Sometimes one valentine would have a string on it and the “deliverer” of the valentine would stand behind a bush.  When the receiver came to the door to pick the valentine up, the string would be pulled, and the valentine would move away.

Easter was also a major event as it was the first spring holiday of the year.

July 4th and 24th  - A big day of celebration, parade, parties.  Before car transportation, each town had its own celebration, but as people could travel more easily they would go to different towns.  Teasdale residents usually had a small parade on the 4th of July.  Also, a formal program, races, games and separate dances for children and adults.  Orson W. Allen operator of the Teasdale harness and shoe shop organized a small band consisting of a bass drum, snare drum, and flute.  They played for patriotic events.  In Torrey there was a big rodeo that many participated in and others came to watch.  There was an air show at the Torrey airport, after which the pilot would take people for a ride.  In the past several years, the principle celebration has been in Torrey.

In Grover, before Sis. Hale died, there was always a parade by the residents; everyone was in it, so no one to watch.  They would have a pot luck dinner in someone’s front yard. Everyone brought something to eat and Sis. Hale would organize a program on the spot.  The Hales were a very talented family so it was always fun.

Horse races were popular as were foot races, parades, boxing, and a pie eating contest.  One year a fellow put pie in another fellow’s face and that started fight then the two had a boxing match.

Brother C remembers the snowball fight they had one year on the 24th of July.  He and his friend went to the top of Boulder Mountain, found snow still left from winter and filled two 50-gallon barrels full of snow, brought them down in the truck, put them in the garage, and covered them with blankets.  After the program on the 24th, the snow balls started flying. The kids had a great time.

Some in Teasdale wanted to be sure everyone was up early on the 4th so at 4:00 am, they went around town and set off dynamite sticks. Sis. C remembers they would load a piano on a truck and go around town playing the piano for the celebration.

Halloween:  An older sister in Teasdale remembers they didn’t do much for Halloween, maybe put out a pumpkin.  Though she and others did take the gate off the fence of Uncle Walt’s field.  He had a gate that would lift off its hinges and they would take it off and set it down further along the fence line.  This was their big event.J  After she was grown and had children of her own, they did learn about trick or treat.  A new family moved in and brought the idea of trick or treat with them.  The first year this sister had a hard time finding something to give the children who came, but the next year she was prepared.

One brother remembers that as a young teen, one Halloween he took a gate off the post and took it up the road.  His conscience bothered him so bad he had to go get the gate and put it back on.

In Torrey the youth did a little more tricking on Halloween.  They would often put big things on top of the school house roof, such as a mower or outhouse.  One year a group took a wagon apart, carried the pieces to the top of the school house and put it back together. The comment now is that it was a lot more fun putting it up there than it was getting it down! Sometimes they let the cows out or tipped over an outhouse or two, which wasn’t appreciated by the adults.

Christmas:  if people wanted lights on the tree, small candles were used.  Girls received dolls, boys, a truck.  There were few toys, but often a book was received.  Usually there was a Christmas party at the church, Santa Clause would come and bring peanuts and chocolates.

Other Activities:
There were dances all the time. The county had two full orchestras. Peterson and Sam Chittester. 
During the week of Christmas to New Years there was a dance every night. Around July 4th there were four days of dancing.  When young men went on missions there was a dance and when they came home there was a dance.  They had dances for no reason over at the Big apple in Torrey.  Cozy Cove (also known as Dance Hall) located in Cigareete Hallow (just west of Teasdale) – was a popular open-air place for dances for a time.  It had a cement pad and raised place for the orchestra which was covered.  It was used for three or four years, but it was very cold so it did not last long. The “Bonny Wayne” was a dance hall by the fish hatchery between Loa and Fremont. 

Dancing was as popular in Torrey as any other town in the County.  The original meeting house was small and men had to take a number and wait to be called in to dance.  Ten couples would fill the dance floor.   When cars became more common, (1939) the Big Apple outdoor dance pavilion was built by two of the town residents. It attracted more dancers than ever to Torrey during the summer time.  It was an open air dance hall, some people with cars came from further away, big bands came to play.  Dancing was the entertainment of the day!

No comments:

Post a Comment