Sunday, June 17, 2012
George Henry Smith
George Henry Smith
I was born Lehi, Utah, April 23, 1860. My father was Samuel T Smith born in Nottingham,
England. My mother was Jane Dean born in Derbishere, England.
I remember an incident which happened when I was three years old. I suppose the reason it stands out in my memory so vividly is because we were so frightened. My father and mother drove to Salt Lake with an ox team to get their endowments. They were to be gone a few days so they arranged for a Danish woman to stay with my sister, who was four years older than I, and myself. The woman went and left us alone all night. I remember the next day my sister climbing on an old chicken coop to see if she could see our folks coming home.
My father never had his hair cut short and he liked us boys to wear ours long too. One day when I was just a little fellow and our parents were at church, my brother, who was older than me, cut my hair. It looked like it had been cut with a knife and fork. Weren’t our folks angry when they came home. Mother made me wear a red handkerchief on my head all the time because she was afraid that I could catch cold.
I started school at the age of six years in a one room school room. Our course of study consisted of the three R’s. For punishment, made me stand in a corner on a stool with a dunce cap on my head. I was compelled to stand there until I saw someone else whispering, then they could take my place. I happened to see a certain girl talking so I said, “That Gerney girl is talking.” And the teacher said, “You stay there until you can say, ‘Mr. Gurney’s girl is talking.’” I didn’t attempt to tell on anyone else. I quit school at the age of 18 years, when I was in the fifth reader.
I was baptized when I was 8 or 9 years old, and then at the age of 16 was re-baptized and ordained a priest. It was in November and they had to cut the ice to baptize us. I well remember one of the boys ripped out an oath and said the water was cold. The man officiating, who was elderly and very serious, at once doused him in the water again.
When I was nine years old, the grasshoppers destroyed nearly all the crops. My father raised two bushels of wheat from thirteen acres of ground. After the grasshoppers had left my father planted corn on the land that had been cleared and sold it for one cent per ear of corn. I remember buying a slate for ten ears of corn. I used that same slate all during my school life.
When I was about nine or ten years old, I went with my father to Salt Lake on a load of wood drawn by an ox team. The wood was used for a subscription to the “Deseret News”. It took three days to make the trip. I remember Main Street in Salt Lake was lined with pole fences. While there we saw the first train come from Ogden to Salt Lake. The train was composed of an engine, a mail car, and two passenger cars.
When I was about twelve years old, a very sad things happened to our school teacher, William Thurman. He and my sister were sweethearts soon to be married. It was Christmas Eve and Mr. Thurman was in the school house decorating the Christmas tree and making other preparations for the school program. They had some trouble with a boy by the name of Jed Woodard, who was a regular bully, and had expelled him from school. The boy came to the door and tried to get in. Mr. Thurman tried to make him go away, and the boy shot and killed him.
When they made the cut through the point of the mountain, just north east of Lehi, wheelbarrows were used to move all the dirt. This cut was made so the railroad could be built to Lehi. Before the railroad came, the wagon road was only wide enough for one team.
In 1878, I started my courtship with Mary J. Harwood. During the winter of ’78-79, I cut ties in American Fork Canyon for the railroad. In the spring on ’79, I went to Ruby Valley, Nevada. I drove a herd of cattle out there for Ira D. Wines. The day I left my best girl tried to drown herself, by accident, however. We were twenty three days on the road. One night we camped late, and made our beds on the sandy spot. The next morning when I took the covers from the ground, I found two scorpions. That summer I worked for a man by the name of Gedney. One night I was in the bunk house with the other men when the boss and some man who was buying cattle for a California market came in. During the conversation this man from California asked me where I was from. I was almost afraid to tell him because of the opposition against our people but finally told him I was from Utah. “Are you Mormon?” He asked. I answered, “yes, perhaps not a very good one though.” He said, “young man, you never need to be ashamed of being Mormon; I have bought cattle from one end of Utah to the other and have found them to be4 the most honorable people I have ever met.” While in Nevada one night, we saw a sign in the sky. The word W-A-R was spelled. This same thing was visible to many people in many different states. I returned home that fall and spent the winter burning charcoal in Rush Valley, which was used in smelters and blacksmith shops.
In the fall of 1880, I fished for trout in Utah Lake with my brother Ted. The lake was about 12 feet deep. We would take small rope which we brought by the coil and attached this to poles which were driven into the lake about 40 rods apart. We would tie fish lines to this rope about every twenty feet. These lines were baited with minnows, and the men would go out in the boats to get the fish and rebait the hooks. One morning my brother Ted was out on the lake taking care of the lines when a fierce wind came up. The waves were very high and it was impossible for him to get to shore. A man by the name of Ned Darling was on shore and knew of my brother’s plight. He was almost crazy. My brother hung to the rope and bailed water out of the boat. The wind subsided for a very short time, and my brother made for the shore as quickly as possible. He arrived safely and almost at once the wind commenced again and blew unceasingly for twenty-four hours.
I worked on the railroad from Lehi Junction to Tintic. In the fall on 1880, the D R & G railroad was built through Lehi. W S Evans and I had the contract.
December 24, 1881, I was married to Mary J Harwood. In the spring of that year we moved on the old place in the field. We lived in little room (it was so little that if we came out face foremost we had to back in.) We built a little canvas shanty at the end of the house which we used for summer kitchen. Mother had some small ducks in a little pen at the west of the house. One morning, one little duck was running about alone peeping. I lifted up the cover to look in the pen and found mothering in there but one big skunk. I got him out and he ran into the canvas shanty. As he came out I hit him with a stick killing him. I’ll leave the rest for you to guess. We had a copper coffee pot that we used for heating water. Try as we might we never could remove the odor.
In 1889, we experienced quite a serious drought. There was no water in the ditches, and many of the wells went dry. The river was so low that the people of Salt Lake conceived the idea that if flowing wells were drive, along the banks of the Jordan River, so that the water could flow into the river it would help them considerably. They had forty wells driven, twenty of which I drove myself with some assistance. Charles H Wilkins was water master of Salt Lake and had this project in charge. My well driver was home made and very crude as compared to the others, but was a member of the army at the time they came to Utah, and became so thoroughly disgusted with the soldiers and their threats to the Mormon woman and girls, that he left the army. Later he became a Mormon and a highly respected citizen of Salt Lake.
I had the honor with the assistance of Israel Evans of driving the first flowing well in Lehi. It was driven for Father Harwood on his place. We used a sledge hammer to drive the pipe. It was such a curiosity that people came from all over the county with their buckets to taste the water.
In the winter of 1890, I hauled rock to build the sugar factory in Lehi. The spring of that year we built two large adobe rooms on the front of our house.
Father and Mother both passed away that year. Father March 10, and Mother the following August. They were living with us at the time. I should like to state now in memory of them that they were the best parents a boy ever had, honorable, loving and kind. They came to Utah for the gospel and endured many hardships as a result. They lost their three oldest children on the way and buried them in St. Louis, Missouri. As they crossed the Platte River with all their possessions, the wagons were tipped over and everything was lost excepting a small trunk. They arrived in Utah with practically nothing. Father didn’t have shoes to wear and mother told of making his underwear out of sheets.
One summer I had taken my wife’s three brothers, Jim, Don, and Fred, up the American Fork Canyon. I had left them there and was on my way home. My wagon was equipped with two spring seats. I had just come down a dug-way and used my brakes. As I came to a little steep hill and went to put on my brake, I discovered a bolt had come out of the brake rod thus making my brakes useless. I stopped the horses and went back a few rods to get the bolt. While I was gone my team started I ran and jumped in the wagon box. I realized that without the lines I could do nothing so I jumped out of the wagon. By this time the horses were running down the canyon like lightning. Near the mouth of the canyon a wagon with two cords of wood was standing in the road. The owner had unhitched his team and had taken it to water. My team and wagon was making straight for the wagon, because the road was so very narrow. When they got to the wagon they turned out just enough to catch the hind wheels of both wagons, breaking the axle off right near the wheel of the load of wood and the double tress of mine. This of course freed the horses from the wagon and they continued in their mad race. Just out of the canyon, a man on horse back caught the team and brought it back. By this time I had reached the wagon and ground the owner of the wood very much concerned bout things. We unloaded his wood and put in on my wagon and then hitched my team to his wagon after wiring the axle as best we could and I followed him to his home in Pleasant Grove. I told the man to get the axle fixed and I would pay for it if he would send me the bill. When the bill came, I sent him the money, and he wrote me thanking me kindly. In this letter he said, “I am glad to fine one man who believes in doing to others as he would be done by.”
I had a very close call once while driving cattle in the hills west of Lehi. I was driving two cows and two calves. They kept going in opposite directions. I had chased them for hours until my horse had become tired. All at once the horse stepped in a badger hole and fell. I fell from the horse but one foot was caught in the stirrup. I tried to free myself but couldn’t so I sprang for the saddle and caught it with one hand. I kept calling to the horse until it finally stopped. But I’m sure that the fact that it was so tired was all that saved me.
In March of 1902, we lost a baby, Flora. She lived one a few hours.
Once while in west canyon for wood I had the misfortune of spraining my ankle. It happened that I had a team hitched and the wood all ready to start home when the accident happened. I managed to get on the wagon and drove home. When I reached home my foot was so swollen and painful that I couldn’t get around. It was some time before I could get around without some assistance.
In 1903, Salt Lake County installed a pumping plant at the head of Jordan River for the purpose of pumping water from Utah Lake into Jordan River, thus increasing their water supply. I assisted in installing this plant. Except for small jobs on the side, I spent about twenty-four years running a farm in Lehi, Utah.
I served in the Lehi City Council for one term.
In August of this year our first great sorrow came to us in the death of our oldest daughter, Grace, who was 21 years old.
I obtained a job with the Sugar Company in 1904 and spent the summer and fall in Idaho as field man for Sugar City and Idaho Falls Factories.
In January 1905, George was married to Christie Sharp and within two weeks left for a mission to the Northern States. Our second daughter, Annie, was married to Eugene Webb in February of this year and the following summer they lived on the farm and Eugene managed it. Our little boy, Sammie died in April and Fern was born in August of the same year.
In 1905 the Sugar Company purchased the factory at Blackfoot making me assistant Agricultural Superintendent. I moved my family to Idaho in December of this year and located the Sugar Company ranch in Riverside. I was later made the Agricultural Superintendent of both Blackfoot and Shelley factories. My son George acting as my assistance for two years. While acting in this capacity we made a trip to Denver, Colorado in the interest of the Sugar Beet Industry.
In the fall of 1907 we lost our little girl Clara.
Within the next two or three years our three daughters, Stella, Rose and Mary were married. Stella to Hyrum Wray, Rose to Ed Taylor, and Mary to Ray Taylor.
In 1902 my wife and I made a trip to Old Mexico to visit my sister, Lizzie, and her family whom we had not seen for years. This was a very pleasant and interesting trip. We also visited place of interest in California.
In 1914, we sent our daughter Zada on a mission to the Central States. Soon after her return she was married to James A. Peterson.
In 1915, I was made Bishop of Riverside Ward and held that position until 1918 when we purchased a home in Blackfoot and moved there.
In 1920 Jane and I with our daughter, Rose and her husband spent a week in Yellowstone Park.
In 1923 Fern our youngest child was married to Fred Gurney leaving us alone again.
In 1926 George moved with his family to Lehi and I became the owner of his home in Blackfoot. I had a chance to sell my place in 1929 so I let it go, and moved over to the place where George had lived.
I served two and one half terms in the Blackfoot City Council. I was a member of the High Council in the Blackfoot Stake from 1917 to 1933. I’ve traveled all over the stake in a buggy and when cars became popular I drove a car. I’ve talked in every meetinghouse from Jameston, a little ward northeast of Shelley, to Aberdeen and Fort Hall and in the Lost River wards before they were taken from the Blackfoot Stake, and I only missed one appointment in all that time, and I felt that I had a very good excuse. My appointment was to Aberdeen about 40 miles. It was winter time and at night. I was seventy years of age and my eye sight not too good especially at night.
I’ve had many pleasant times especially on trips in the mountains. Almost every summer we used to take our family accompanied by some other family and spent several days in the mountains, either in West or American Fork Canyon. One time in particular when we were living in Lehi, there were ninety people in the West Canyon at the same time. We spent the evenings around oe big campfire singing and making merry.
After coming to Idaho, we had many splendid fishing trips on Lost River. One time while out there with my son, George, and son-in-law, Ancel Peterson, I had a very narrow escape from a bull. We were fishing in Lost River near Arco. Ancel was fishing up the river and the bull had tried to attack him but he had escaped by means of a cement dam. The bull was very much enraged and when he came down the river and saw me, he was fighting mad. I was right in the open and could see no possible way of escape. There was a small bunch of willows, however, I got behind it. The bull could see me all the time and every move I made he pawed the ground and shook his head on which was the longest meanest looking horns I had seen. I tried in my fear to reason out some means of escape but it seemed impossible. It had always been a habit of mine to call on the Lord when in trouble. At this time I silently asked the Lord to help me out of this difficulty. I was them prompted to run and jump in the river keeping the bunch of willows between us. I did this gradually making my way to the other side of the stream, and into the thick willows. The bull never knew where I had gone. He looked about, pawed the ground and went away.
Now at the age of 74. I am well satisfied with life and all in all I have been extremely happy. I realize that I’ve made some mistakes and may have accomplished more had I done differently, but then again I may have done much worse.
I’ve had one of the best wives and helpmates a man every had and our greatest comfort and joy is in our family of which we are very proud. We have had 11 children, 7 of which are living; 42 grandchildren, 38 living; and 16 great grandchildren, 14 living. (In 1934)
I’m still well and happy, except for the fact that I’m deaf in one ear and can’t hear out of the other! And we are struggling along through this financial crisis in much the same way as other people.
Editor’s note- This was taken from an old typewritten autobiography of George H. Smith. With one addition from another manuscript of this life. Additionally, the following sentences were added by a family member by hand to the last page of the document.
In 1935 he and his wife moved back to Lehi, Utah. They had a nice home and were happy for four years later his companion passed away. Annie and her family went to live with him and took care of him for one and a half years. Then he came to Idaho and took turns living with his daughters there. He passed away December 9, 1942 at the home of his daughter, Mary Taylor Halverson. He was buried at the side of his beloved wife in the Lehi City Cemetery. “Father died at the age of 82. He was a kind loving Father and a friend to everyone.”