Sunday, June 17, 2012

William Albert Stevenson compilation

History of William Albert Stevenson complied from his oral interview on his 76th birthday
                My father was William Stevenson, born 13 February 1855.  He came from Sussex, England; and I can’t tell here ‘cause I don’t know, but he was there for about a year or eighteen months and he met my mother, Lydia Kemp, born 12 Oct 1863 in Wellsville, Cache, Utah.  Father was working for John Woodfield in North Ogden.   And through their acquaintance, they got married. They were married in the Endowment House.  He died about eleven months after they were married- - two weeks before I was born.  I was born 14 October 1883 in Pleasant View, Weber, Utah.  And then my mother went to John Packham’s place, because he had lost his wife, to keep house. She stayed there for about two or three years and then they were married.  I was only three years old when Mother married John Packham.   I still stayed until I was about eight or nine years old, I don’t remember which it was; I then I went into a home in Willard, Utah- about halfway to Brigham City.  They left me there for all one summer and nearly all the winter.  And then I went back home and stayed there ‘til the next spring; and then they took me back up there again and then they brought me back, and I started to work herdin’ cows and everything else.  
I went to school when I was six for just a few weeks.  But that was all, we were too poor.  The only education I got was what I’ve picked up myself.  Because my parents were too poor and they couldn’t afford shoes nor pants or anything else for us to go to school in.  Now that’s the truth.  And from that time on, I never went.  And just as soon as I was big enough to put out to earn a dime, why that’s what I had to do all summer.   I weeded onions for ten cents a day.  For day after day. Brought the money home and give it to the folks.  And that’s the way it went. And as time went on as I got older I went and stayed with a family and worked for $15 in the summer time for eight months and in the winter just my board.  And then after that, why I went back home and helped Dad Packham, because he had to go to the hospital.  And I went back there, his older sons had left, gone off to their self, and went back and stayed there and run his place ‘til he got well enough to take it back over- - took him about two years.  And I worked there and took care of his place. And while I was takin’ care of that place, I’d grow’d up to be a man of 20 years old. And that’s when I met your mother (speaking of Kate Mathews), because they had moved from Salt Lake.   I met her because they had bought the Shaw Place right next to Dad Packham’s. And I her and got to goin’ with her, and we went together I guess for a couple of years.  And she became 18 years old and so then I married her.  With went to the Salt Lake Temple and was married.  And then she come to live in part of their house; and I stayed there ‘til he got back on his feet so’s that he could go.  Then I rented a little piece of ground and still did his work, but used his outfit5 to take care of mine—the place that I rented.  And we trotted along ‘til finally in 1911 I and him come to Idaho.
 I worked off and one for that Montgomery and Evanston’s for years.  But that was only in the fall of the year—gatherin’ cattle and bringing them to Rockland.  They had three or four thousand head, and they ‘d bring ‘em to Rockland to winter ‘em.  And then we’d gather ‘em and take ‘em back—then get ‘em back on the range in the there around Ogden and North Ogden on that mountain.  And then I’d go back home and stay there and help and take care of the little place that I had.  And after awhile, when the sugar factory went in, they got to feeding pulp just like they do here; and then they put a lot of these cattle in the yards there. And then I went to work for them all winter, and I worked there.  But I should have told about the two boys that we had first there. . that died at birth.  Well, we had two boys, the first two.   Joseph  ( Joseph William born 26 June 1907 in Pleasant View, and died 29 June 1907.)was the first one and Kenneth (Kenneth, born 9 December 1908 Pleasant View, died 9 December 1908) was the second boy.  And they died- - well, they lived for a few hours. And then it was quite a long time after that before Lea was born and she was born, and she was born where her mother lived in the old Shaw Place.  (Lea was born 1 Aug 1910 in Pleasant View).  And in the winter time I’d go and feed these cattle down there at the sugar factory. And then in 1911- - of course, I’ve told that once- - but in 1911, Dad Packham wanted to sell his place and come to Idaho.  And he wanted me to come with him. . .come to Idaho. And we trotted along here, and I worked on the ditchs. . . eight hours a day with a team to keep the biscuits in the home.  The work on the laterals for the Minidoka Project was all done with horses.    The canals were all done before I came.  Then had camps all down the line there. 
He (Melbourne Mathews Stevenson) was born in ’12. ( 20 September 1912 in Pleasant View).  We were living in Idaho, but went back so’s that he could be born down there so’s her mother could take care of her, see.  And then we come back in the following spring.  And then we stayed here; we didn’t go back. . well, only just for a visit.  And then we come back up here.  And then Rena come along (born 30 September 1914 in Pleasant View); she went back home.  Rena was the smallest, weighed only two pounds.  Two pounds, and they kept her in a bushel basket or bushel box up on the warming oven for weeks and weeks. When she come to, she cried for months and never quit. She did. She cried day and night for nearly two months.  And I’d come up here; then I’d go back down there, because Mother couldn’t quite take care of our little one here. She had to have help.  I would travel back and forth on the train.  Go from Acequia to Ogden; get on the train there at two or three, or four o’clock in the afternoon. And the next morning you was in Ogden.  Then you’d get on the street car- - it wasn’t a street car, it was a locomotive- - right there pretty close to the depot and then go out to North Ogden on it.  It was a steam engine outfit.  It pulled three cars up and down the track; and then finally they got electricity out there and they run on that.  It would cost six or seven dollars for a round trip ticket.   Mother did  the same  (went to her Mother’s) with Ruth (born 18 March 1917) in North Ogden ‘cause Grandma Mathews had moved to North Ogden,  she stayed for just a few weeks that time.  We made our home up here and we lived in. . . first we lived in a tent. Next we lived in a little old chicken coop affair, not much better than this one out here. . .out by Acequia. 
When we first came from Ogden, we came on the train.  We never brought the stock until the next spring.  And he moved out in April and we landed in Acequia in box cars. . . we had two box cars.  One was loaded with horses and machinery. The one thing Dad Packham forgot to pay all the freight bill; and when we got to Pocatello, they switched us off on a side line. I had to sell part of the pigs and a calf or two to get money enough to finish paying so they’d move us out to Pocatello and put us into Acequia.  I never got very much (for the pigs).  I think it was five or six dollars for the two pigs that I sold, and about ten dollars for the calf.  And we milked the cows there and give it to the railroad workers- - buckets and buckets of milk. And give it to ‘em and they packed it away. They were happy!
It was pioneer life – living her on the project.  Now, that’s what it was; and it was rough going ‘cause we had no money to amount to anything.  You couldn’t buy anything for. . . on time.  You couldn’t borrow money, no money; and if you need a dollar to buy a loaf of bread, you went out and worked for it.  And that’s about all you got for a day’s work, too, was maybe a dollar and a half a day- - but we farmed that way.  And we stayed and we stuck her out!
I bought the land that I got off the state.  And Grandpa Packham homesteaded his place.  I paid ten dollars an acre.  In those days, you only had to pay just a little down and then you paid the rest out in installments to the state, see. Dad Packham had a little money; and I got a little money off of him to make the down payment, see.  I was still helping him on his place ‘cause the boys was going to school.  The younger bunch all went to school. They got the biggest part of their education right up here in Acequia. 
Our homestead as North of Acequia, just a mile North.  Grandpa Packham sold his place or traded it to John Butler for a big place and a lot of cattle in Kamas Prairie.  And when he got up there and took the boys there- - and I won’t go because I had my little place there, and I thought I could make a living there.  And, when he got there, he found out that he wasn’t man enough to take care of all that stuff; and the kids wouldn’t stay with him.  Now, that’s the whole secret of it.  First, Al pulled out; then George pulled out;  Lawrence pulled out, and he was left alone. 
My brothers and sisters were: Henry and Emily and Bertha and Edward and Ina and George,  Alfred and Lawrence and Helen and Lucy and Alene was the youngest.  That was the Packham family.  There was an older Packham family also- the oldest one was Will, and the second one was Charles.  And my mother took care of them kids. They was just little duffers. 
To start the homestead we cleared the brush with a grubbing hoe.. . most of it.  I still got the grubbing hoe.  The other one I had, I give to Al.  Yes sir, grubbed it out with a grubbing hoe. And then finally, some of us - - and I can’t tell ya who they were, but I think Tom Whittle was in the bunch.  WE went to the railroad company and they wouldn’t let us have a rail; so we swiped a rail. And then we took it to the blacksmith and made a “U” out of it, and in both ends was holes.  And we hooked clevises in there and hooked the team on each end.  We railed it down and raked it down with a horse rake.  It wasn’t an easy matter.  It was a long process.  We’d clear maybe 15 or 20 acres and get that planted in the spring of the year, then we’d take care of that.  And then maybe we could grub off a few acres or something. .. but the next spring we had a few more acres; and that’s the way we worked it.  The grasshoppers never did bother us too bad there, but they did lots of the further out places- - further East.  The jackrabbits come in for three solid years; and we had to stay up all night to save just a little hay for the cows. . .all night and herd ‘em. We’d go around the fields with tin plates, beatin’ them together.  And you could build pens and drives and everything else, but it didn’t help a bit.  But we killed thousands of ‘em, but there still was jackrabbits- - lots of ‘em.  We drove rabbits all winter long. But the next year, they’d come back just the same.  But the reason of that was because we didn’t have anything North nor very little East, nor nothing West.  ‘cause when we come here and the rabbits was bad, Paul and Pioneer was still sagebrush- - lots of it.
We did lots of duck hunting. That’s where we got our meat. Kill the ducks- - and the sage hens was thick. Never had any pheasants, but the sage hens was thick.  And many, many a time I’ve took a shot gun out and went out into the barley fields and got down behind a shock of grain or something and killed as many as eleven or twelve ducks  at one shot. Gather ‘em up and take ‘em home and pick ducks all night. 
For entertainment, we used to hook up the old team only the old wagon and bundle the kids up and put ‘em in the wagon and go down to the school house, and that’s the entertainment we had.  Until they built a meetinghouse.  We just had little parties and plays. We never had any radios or televisions to listen to, so we acted out on the stage.  And we enjoyed ourselves that way.  We didn’t have any electricity.  We used coal, oil lamp or kerosene lamps for light.  That’s what we had. And walked the railroad tracks for miles and miles to get maybe five or six pounds of coal, because you couldn’t buy coal here in Rupert for year.   We would use sagebrush to burn to cook.  The coal was good for heat in the winter.  We would walk the tracks looking for coal because there used to be lots of it fall off. They’d load them old cars, like they put beets in- - well, it wasn’t like that, it was flat cars see with a side on ‘em, see.  And it would roll off as they rolled down the main line. And us fellers would go up there—Whittles—oh, lots of people up in Acequia- - follow them trains down, you know, pick up every pieces of coal that was the size of your fist.  Sometimes you’d get big chunks.  It was a lot better than sagebrush.  For the sagebrush, we would just go out there maybe a mile out and cut her down- - great big stuff. 
By the time all the kids were born, I had 80 acres all together.  But there was a lot of hills.  There was a lot of hills in it, and rocky, see.  But I had, I think it was 57 or 56 acres of good ground, and that was a lot of ground then.  The water came from the main canal and run out there in the lateral they’d called “E”.  The “E” Canal. It come out of Walcott Lake. 
You just went out here and work for a little on these ditches ‘cause there was lots of ditch work. You’d take your team out and you’d get three dollars a day for a team and a man a slip scraper, or fresno.  Now that’s what you’d get, and you’d get your money like that.  And it didn’t take much money to do us, because we lived on bread and milk.  We raised our own wheat and took it to Burley and had it ground.  And then we brought it home, and we’d eat bread and milk; and we’d eat beans.  And finally it got warm enough here you could raise beans in the garden, and then they’d can beans just like you do now.  But for the first three years, you couldn’t even raise beans here- - froze pert near every night in the year.  It was hard to raise a garden.  That’s the way it was.  But it’s got better.  But we stuck her out, thank the Lord.  We stayed here, and I’m still there.  The crops were fine for the first few years.  It was nothin’ to get pert near a hundred bushels of oats.   We never used any nitrogen- - didn’t know what phosphate and nitrogen was.
The Depression started in 1929.  Well, it started with me before that- - in 1918.  That’s when Mother (Kate) got the flu, and she was pert near always an invalid after that.  Hundreds of people died from the flu here.  She had what they call the intestinal flu then; and it left her bowels paralyzed, see. She had no control of ‘em or nothing; and then finally that worked on her until the dropsy set in, and then her heart went bad.  From 1918, off and on most of the time ‘til 1928, she was in bed. That’s when she passed away—September, the fifth, or November the fifth, 1928.  (Records indicate Kate died 6 November 1928).
I care for her most of the time. When she’d get right bad, I’d take her to Salt Lake; had her in the hospital there. She was in the hospital the same time Rena was in the hospital- - in the St. Marks hospital.  Rena was there for eleven solid weeks.  Rena had polio, but they didn’t know what was the matter with her. Neither here nor there.  It drawed one leg or one of her ankles ‘til she was walking in her instep- - her toes had runned right back.  We took her down to the hospital, St. Marks hospital; and they cut the cord in her heel- - straightened her foot back and put it in a cast, and straightened the cords out and sewed them together.  
Mother (Kate) was in the hospital for about three months at one stretch, and then I brought her home.  She was home for just a little while, and then I took her back; and they kept her in the hospital for a few days. Then she went out and stayed with Grandma Mathews. She had a bed, and Grandma took care of her ‘til I got the crop all harvested that time.  And then I went back and stayed there a little while, and then I come back here and stayed with the kids- - and keep ‘em there and milked a few cows.  And that’s all we could do. The kids went to school in Acequia through the eighth grade.
She was sick off and on; but I kept her home most of the time.  And I hired Pearl Cole to come take care of the house and clean the house up every week.  I paid her a dollar a day to take care of the house. She only be there just two or three days at a time. 
I’d took her (Kate) to Salt Lake along in the summer time early and she was in the clinic down there for about a week or ten days. Something like that.  And Dr. Richards wrote me a letter and told me to come and get her—that she’d be more contended to be home with you—or with the kids and me.  And so I went and get her and brought her back.  Brought her back on a Pullman car.  And Sandy went and met us with his great big old Dodge that he had.  It was a Dodge car. And this was in along the later part of September when we brought her home. And he told me that she wouldn’t live more than a couple of months; and she passed that just a little. 
There weren’t a lot of cars in the project then. Just a few people had ‘em at that time. I didn’t get a car until 1926.  It was an old Model T.  You poured water in and you cranked it to start it.  It cost $600.   I’d got well enough off and built the house and bought a car with all the. . .
We had tremendous medical bills.  I still owed nearly a thousand dollars when I married your mother (Maybell Bennett).
After Mother (Kate) passed away, I went out and herded sheep.  For $40 a month.  And done everything. . . and Mel there stayed there and done what he could do on the place in order to get some money to keep a goin’ and to pay off what notes that I had in Salt Lake and what notes I had here and everywhere else. That’s one thing, I’ll always hand it to John Murphy.  He stayed with me through thick and thin.  John Murphy was my banker.  I borrowed money to take care of my family. 

{Balance of his life history from this interview is included in Maybell Bennett's compilation- it was too hard to separate them.  -- Tammy Stevenson} 

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