This photo was in the pictures of my Great Great Grandmother, Martha Christiansen Coley. I don’t know why. She had brothers who worked in Washington State and perhaps they sent this as a post card if they traveled through Weiser, but there was not writing on the back or any indication it was mailed. The picture is of the train station in Weiser, Washington, Idaho.
This is from the autobiography of Ivan Stephen Coley. I recently wrote on the passing of his widow, Clara McMurdie Coley.
Since Ivan does not give much background information, I will provide some. Ivan is the sister to my Lillian Coley Jonas. Ivan is the sixth of ten children born to Martha Christiansen and Herbert Coley born 26 June 1912 in Richmond, Cache, Utah. He married Clara McMurdie on 22 October 1930 in Buhl, Twin Falls, Idaho. Ivan and Clara had four children. Ivan passed away 22 September 1994 in Buhl. He was buried 27 September 1994 in West End Cemetery near Buhl. Clara just joined him this year.
I was born in the little town of Richmond, Utah in Cache Valley. We lived up in the foothills called Nebo, about 3 1/2 miles from town. It was really pretty up there. You could see all over the valley.
The snow really got deep in the wintertime. In the spring when the snow melted, the field flowers would come up. It sure was pretty.
I was one of ten children with four sisters and five brothers. We didn’t have a car so we had to hitch the horses up to the white-top buggy when we went to church. In the winter we used the bobsleds. Sometimes the show would be so deep that you didn’t know where the road was. Sometimes I would ride skis or hand sleigh to school in the winter. We had to pack our lunches because they didn’t have hot school lunches then.
I remember in the first grade, we had a pot bellied stove and the teacher would have to keep putting coal in it to keep the room warm. The toilets were outside.
I would help the neighbor do chores and feed calves and help take the milk to the creamery. Once in a while they would give me ten or fifteen cents spending money.
My dad had an old buckboard and he said he wanted to get it over to the house. One day when my parents weren’t home, I decided to hook the horse up to the buckboard and pull it over to the house for my dad. It didn’t have any shavs to guide it so I just put a chain on it to get it to the house. I was doing okay until the wheel hit a rock and the other wheel hit the horse in the belly. The horse got scared and ran away and I fell off the buckboard. It tore out about 100 yards of fence. When I got up, the horse was down by the haystack eating hay. I was afraid to tell my dad about it for fear that I would get my butt kicked because he had told me not to do it.
Dad finally bought a house close to town so it would be easier for us kids to get to school in the winter. One day they left me and my older brother Wilford home alone. He was frying sausage and I was standing with my back to the stove trying to keep warm. He stuck the hot fork that he was frying the meat with on the back of neck. I got warm in one spot and you could see the mark of the fork tines in my neck.
I was sick a lot when I was young. The doctors said that I had liver trouble. I was ruptured and had to wear a truss for seven years. I finally got to where I didn’t have to wear it anymore.
I didn’t know what a long pair of dress pants were until I was about thirteen. We wore levis or kickerbockers pants that came just below the knees and buttoned. I also wore long black socks that came up to the knees.
At Christmas we didn’t get things like they do now. We would get a little wagon and it had to be for all of us. Our gifts were mostly clothes. We may get an orange, some hardtack and sugar candy and that was a treat for us.
Mother would take the eggs to town in a milk bucket and trade them for groceries. We didn’t know what hand soap and shampoo were then as we just used the old laundry soap and mother made most of it. About once a week we would get a little butter for our bread. We used mostly fryings from the bacon and dipped our bread or biscuits into it. It was really good. About the only time we would get cake or pie was on a holiday or birthday. We didn’t get both cake and pie together and we only got one piece when we did get it.
I used to ride about eight miles to Lewiston with my dad to take a wagon load of wheat to the mill to have it ground for flour and cereal. We brought the bran home for the hogs every fall for our winter supply as we couldn’t go to town every day like they do now. We would get snowed in sometimes and couldn’t get to town for several days. Then we would have to go through the fields as the roads would be drifted full.
We didn’t have a telephone. The only ones that had a phone were the rich people. The phones then had a little crank on the side of them and you had to crank it before you could get the operator.
I worked for Melvin Smith in Richmond milking cows and plowing for $5.00 a month. There was one time I was plowing and the horses took off for the barn. I couldn’t get the plow out of the ground. I must have plowed a furrow about 1/4 mile long. The horses didn’t stop until they got to the barn. I went to unhitch them from the plow and one horse kicked me in the leg. It made me mad and I was going to quit but I was afraid to tell the boss so I worked a little longer. I was only about 23 or 13 years old at the time.
On the days we had to spare, some of the neighbors would get together and round up some of the cattle. We would put them in a corral and have a rodeo. I rode the first one and we put a surcingle on him. The bigger boys put me on him and turned me loose. He sure did some bucking, but I stayed on. They passed a hat around and got about 25 or 30 cents and they gave it to me. I sure was ticked to death to get it.
I didn’t go to school very much. My folks would send me and I would play hookey. I would go anywhere but to school. Now I can see where I made a mistake as I hurt no one but myself.
My uncle was blind. I would lead him from door to door selling church books for several days and he gave me 15 cents.
I never did get to go to the circus. I would ride the streetcar to Logan once in a while though and see a show. It cost 10 cents to ride the streetcar and 10 cents to see the show. You didn’t get popcorn or candy to eat in the theater then.
My brother and I were sleeping on the porch and the dog started barking in the middle of the night. I raised up in bed and saw a man coming up toward the house. I reached over and got the gun and fired a shot. It hit the drain pip on the side of the house. My brother-in-law came running out of the house to see what the shooting was all about. Whoever it was took off and never came back. It sure scared me.
One time one of my friends and I rode a horse to Franklin, Idaho. That was about 10 miles from where we lived. This was in the middle of the winter and we had gone to check on some cattle. It was sure cold (about 20 degrees below zero). I rode back in the middle of the night. I came to the neighbors who had a sheep wagon. I went inside and there was a little wood in it. I built a fire and laid down on the bed springs. There was no bedding because they had taken it out for the winter. I nearly froze to death. I sure was glad to see morning come. The neighbor took me to his house and gave me breakfast because I hadn’t had anything to eat since dinner the day before.
The first time I ever tasted corn flakes was up to the neighbors. They put sugar and real straight cream on it. I thought I would founder as I had tasted nothing like that before. We didn’t know what prepared cereal was in those days and we called it mush.
I remember one time my dad made some elderberry wine and put it up in the attic in the house. Every once in a while you would hear one go “BANG” as it blew up. One time we had an old man over for supper. He was an old man with long whiskers who we called “Grandpa Andrews”. Dad went up in the attic to get a bottle of wine. He went to open the bottle and it blew the cork out and hit the ceiling and Grandpa Andrews’ whiskers. It sure went off with a bang. One of the kids ran outside hollering “Grandpa got shot!” I sure did laugh. They got another bottle and one held it while the other tried to open it and it blew the pitcher out of their hand. I don’t think anyone got wine that night.
When I wasn’t very old, I remember my dad and I went to thin beets to buy a bull. I had a dog called “Bob” once and we used to hook him to the hand sleigh and haul the milk to the neighbor’s house about two blocks away as Bob pulled the sleigh. Wherever I went the dog was with me. The neighbor gave me a calf that broke his leg and I killed it and used it for coyote bait. I poisoned some of it. I thought the dog was home but he must have followed me. He got some of the poison and it killed him.
I used to go out at night and sit on the haystack in the winter and shoot those big mountain hare rabbits with a shotgun. I would sell them for 5 cents apiece. Sometimes I would get for and five a shot as the rabbits were so thick they would undermine the haystacks.
We had homemade skis. They were about 5 inches wide. All they had to hold them on your feet were a 3/4 inch strap to go over the foot and a broomstick split and nailed on the skis to go under the arch. They turned the toes up on the skis by driving a nail in them and using a wife, twisting it and steaming the skis. They way I learned to ride the skis was to straddle a long stick and have it drag behind me. It worked really good. If you wanted to slow down, yo would pull upon the front of the stick and sit down real hard on it. It would dig in the snow and slow you down. After we learned to ride good, we didn’t hold on to anything.
When I was a kid there were very few deer and elk because people killed them for their hides. I can remember when they brought some elk, 4 cows, and a bull on a boxcar and turned them loose in the hills. They closed the season on them. You couldn’t hunt for several years. Then they got so thick that they would come down and eat the farmers’ haystacks at night.
My sister, her husband, and her husband’s family moved to Buhl, Idaho in the fall and the next summer I went to Franklin, Idaho to get a job on the highway. They said they didn’t hire kids. “I was 16 at the time.” A friend of mine and I decided to keep going the rest of the way to Buhl. We hitch-hiked all the way! We got off on the wrong road and ended up in Blackfoot so we had to go back to Pocatello. I didn’t have any money and my friend had 11 cents. A sheepherder picked us up and we slept on the desert that night. He took us to Pocatello and bought us some breakfast, which sure tasted good. He got us on the right road for Buhl. We would get a ride for a few miles, then we would have to walk again. All we had to eat were a few apricots. We finally made it after 2 or 3 days.
I sure was glad to get a job sorting some spuds. They had a mule to pull the sorter. The people would pick the spuds and dump them on the sorter and I would sort them. They sorter didn’t have any wheels under it, it just had runners. After we got the spuds all sorted out, they didn’t have any money to pay me. They said that we could have spuds for pay. We took the car out and got several sacks of spuds. I gave them to my future in-laws as I was living with them at this time.
I later got a job working for a man in Castleford for $15 a month as they would only pay a kid half a man’s wages. I would have to get up and help do chores and be out in the field by 7 o’clock a.m. and work until 6 o’clock that night. Once a week I would go to Buhl and take the whole family to a show. They had family ight once a week at that time. The whole family could go to the show for 50 cents. They all looked forward to this. A bull killed the man I worked for that summer.
I quit Claude Browns, went back to Utah, and stayed there until spring. Then I came back to Buhl and started to work for Roy Fait. I helped them tear the old livery stable down. The West One Bank is located there now. I helped them put a miniature golf course in there. I mixed the green for it from sand, sawdust, and feathers. I can’t remember what we used to make it green. Then we had to use a heavy roller to smooth it down. This is when I bought my first car, a 1922 Overland.
Rulon McMurdie and I went to the Shoshone Basin one day to hunt sage hens and on the way up my car quit so we pushed it to the side of the road. A day or two later we went back to get it and someone had pushed it down an embankment about 100 feet and we had to drive it down the canyon to get it out. I drove it back to Buhl and took it to a guy to have it fixed. He charged me $125 dollars and I couldn’t pay him so I just gave him the car.
Rulon and I were working for a guy milking cows. When we turned them out of the barn, we would grab them by the tail, pull it over their back, grab a hand full of hide on their neck, jump on their backs, and ride them out of the barn. They sure would buck. We had a lot of fun until one stepped on my leg and I thought for sure she broke it. That ended the riding of milk cows.
We were down fishing in the Salmon Canyon and my little dog was lying down just a little way from me. I heard a noise and turned around and there was a rattle snake. It had bitten my dog and a little while later he died. It didn’t take me long to get out of there. It sure did scare me.
Rulon and I went duck hunting and a man came out to tell us to get out of there. We asked him who he thought he was talking to. He said, “Who are you?” and I said, “I am the Game Warden.” He left us alone and we went on hunting. We would also stop cars for one light being out and tell them they had better get it fixed. I made a badge out of a piece of tin. They didn’t argue with me. I guess they thought I was a Traffic Cop.
Rulon and I went trapping for muskrats on Deep Creek. There was a boat there and I got in it to go to the other side. I got almost in the middle of the creek and the boat tipped over with me in it. I thought for sure I was going to drown because I had a sheep skin coat and a pair of hip boots on. Rulon just sat on the bank laughing at me. I finally got out and thought I would freez to death because it was snowing and blowing. We couldn’t even make a fire because there wasn’t anything to burn so we got in Rulon’s old Model-T Ford with no top on it and drove home. I was sure glad to get to a warm house.
We were coming home one evening and there was a truck load of apples ahead of us. I got the lariat rope and got on the front of the car. I was going to lariat a box of them and just as I got close enough to throw, they turned the corner into Buhl so we didn’t get any apples.
Every time we would go down the road passed this man’s house, a mean dog would come out after us. I told Rulon the next time he came out after us, I would shoot him and sure enough, he came out after us and I shot and killed him. That night the sheriff came and said he wanted to talk to us. He took us up to the City Hall. The guy was there that owned the dog. We knew then that we were in trouble. He said I shot the dog and hit his boy and I called him a damn liar. The sheriff said, “none of that” and he got me by the shoulder and locked us both up in jail all night. We didn’t have anything to eat all that night and the next morning. Rulon’s mother and sister, Carrie, brought us something to eat. We sure were glad to see them. They let us out that afternoon. That really taught us a lesson to be good as we didn’t want to go to jail again. They just had the old iron beds and we didn’t have any blankets. That learned us to be good kids as I thought if that is the way jails were, we didn’t want any part of them.
The government wanted me, and friend of mine, and some other men to round up wild horses, and drive them from Bliss, Idaho to Elko, Nevada. They corralled them there and shipped them out on a train. I don’t know now where to, but we didn’t go because this man’s wife didn’t want him to go. They said we wouldn’t be riding the same horse when we got there as we did when we left.
I started dating Clara McMurdie when I worked at the golf course. We had known each other in grade school in Richmond, Utah. My sister, Carrie, married her brother, Lorus. They moved to Buhl, Idaho and that’s why I came to Buhl. I stayed in Buhl for a while and then went back to Richmond. I wrote to Buhl to ask Clara’s folks if we could get married. I thought if they said no, I was far enough away from them that they couldn’t shoot me. “Ha, ha!” But they did say yes so my dad, my mother, and I went to Buhl and we got married at her parent’s home. They next morning we went back to Richmond to live.
I worked on my dad’s ranch for 2 years. I packed groceries back in the mountains to my brother and brother-in-law on pack horses as they were up there getting wood out. We would put two drags of wood that we pulled on 2 horses and we hooked one drag behind the other so the other would hold it back going down the mountain. It just took one horse to drag it down the hill then we would get the bobsled and take it the rest of the way home.
I used to drive a covered school wagon in the winter. It was a covered bobsleigh with a hole big enough to put the lines through to drive it and a little window to see through. I got a dollar a day for driving it. We had to furnish the horses, bobsleigh, and wagon.
We lived with my folks in one small room of their house. That spring, we moved into a place closer to town. We only stayed there a little over a month because we couldn’t afford the rent (it was $5.00). So we moved back with my folks again. That fall, we moved into a little 2-room log house. It cost us 6 dollars a month. It got so cold we couldn’t keep the rooms warm so we moved our bedspring and mattress out onto the kitchen floor. We nearly froze to death. You could see through the cracks in the logs. We only stayed there 1 week and we moved back with my folks again. We tried to get them to give us back some of our rent money and they wouldn’t do it.
In the spring, our oldest daughter (Sarah Colleen) was born in the same house and same room that I was born in. We had to go and get the doctor in a white top buggy as the roads were too muddy. They wouldn’t get there in a car.
That fall, I threshed the grain and got 50 dollars for my share. I also topped beets and made 35 dollars. This is when we moved to Buhl, Idaho. My brother-in-law, Lorus McMurdie, came down with his car and got us as we didn’t have a car. We moved in with my wife’s folks. They lived in an old hotel on 8th street.
Lorus and I took two teams of horses and wagons and drove them up in the Shoshone Basin and cut wood. All we took with us to eat was spuds, bread, onions, fruit, and bacon. The spuds froze. We had to scoop the snow off the ground to put our quilts on the ground to sleep because we didn’t have a sleeping bag or tent. We would get cold, so we walked alongside the wagon and drove the horses. One of our loads of wood slipped off the side of the road. We camped there that night and reloaded the wagon the next morning. It was so cold, the edge of our quilt froze to the ground. We were supposed to get 3 dollars a cord for the wood (split and cut). He never did pay us.
I went to work for Jess Eastman. We walked to work and back. I had to be there at 7 o’clock in the morning and work until 7 o’clock at night. It was four miles down there and four miles back. If we were lucky, we would get a ride once and a while. We had to take our own lunch. Once in a while after I got home, I would go back to work at Shields warehouse shoveling clover seed in bins until 10 o’clock or midnight and be ready for work again at 7 o’clock the next morning.
We lived with my wife’s folks in that old hotel. The next spring we moved down closer to our work. One night I came home and there were a bundh of people there and I couldn’t figure out why. I soon found they had a strawberry roan horse for me to break and ride. They said if I could ride it they would buy me a new cowboy hat. I put the saddle on it and snubbed it up to another horse. I climbed on her and they turned her loose. The first jump she made, my hat flew off and she tore every button off my shirt. She sure did some bucking and bawling. You could hear her for a half mile. She headed for a rock fence and Lorus, my brother-in-law, was on his horse. He tried to keep her away from the rock fence and his stirrup on the saddle broke and he fell off. When the horse got to the rock fence she turned and quit bucking. I rode her every day for three weeks and every time I got on her she wanted to buck. I won my new hat, but I sure did earn it! I bought a fat cow for 10 dollars and butchered her. We didn’t have a deep freezer at that time so we hung the meat outside and hoped it stayed frozen. Some of it thawed out and froze again and boy did we get a belly ache. We sure did run races for the outhouse (ha, ha!).
We didn’t have electricity or telephones. I finally got enough money to buy a Model T Ford for 25 dollars and we didn’t have to walk so much anymore. We finally moved ourselves down to Jess Eastman’s and I worked for him for 3 years. He didn’t have the money to hire us any longer, so we got me a job uptown sorting spuds for 15 cents an hour. We would go at 7 o’clock a.m and sometimes work until midnight nearly every night. We finally bought the old shack we were living in for 50 dollars and moved it on a lot on 8th Street in Buhl. It cost us 15 dollars to have it moved. It was the first house on lower 8th Street in Buhl at that time. The house was 2 rooms and the walls were plastered with mud and straw. We took cheesecloth and old rags and pasted on the walls then we wallpapered over that and made it real cute. We had orange crates nailed on the walls for cupboards. We bought the lot next to us for 25 dollars. We just lived there a short time. Our son, “Bud” Lorus, was born.
Then we moved to Castleford and I farmed for a guy for 30 dollars a month. He hired 2 other men to help me farm it. He paid one 15 dollars and the other 10 dollars a month and we had to board and feed them. He gave us a table and chairs for their board. We still have their chairs. We started breaking horses and we hitched them up to the wagon one time and they ran away. The lane they ran down wasn’t wide enough for the wagon as it was just a cow lane. They tore the wagon all to pieces and all they had left when they stopped was the tongue and front wheels.
We stayed here for about a year and a half and then we moved and worked for another man for about a year. He made me mad as he didn’t keep his promise to give me a couple of heifers. I was bunching clover with a pitchfork and he came and told me he couldn’t give them to me. He promised me that spring that if I would stay with him, he would give them to me as a bonus and that fall he backed out on his deal. I told him I was going to quit and he said I couldn’t. So I showed him I could and left the pitchfork in the field and walked out on him.
The next day we went to Utah and saw my folks. When we came back we moved again to Melon Valley (known as Little Country Club). We only stayed there a short time until spring. I would walk to town (about 4 miles) to sort spuds as we couldn’t afford to drive the car. Sometimes we would stay all day waiting to work and they would come tell us that we wouldn’t be working that day and to come back tomorrow.
It was cold and I was going to drive the car that morning. I couldn’t afford alcohol at that time as there wasn’t any anti-freeze in those days, so I put fuel oil in the radiator. It got hot and blew it all out, so I had to put water in it and drain it out when I got to work, then put more in it when I came home and cover the radiator with a blanket to keep it from freezing.
I bought a cow for 30 dollars and had her for a while. Then I traded her for 2 heifers that were going to freshen. I took them to my father-in-law’s and when they freshened, he milked them. Later, I bought another one and let him milk her too for the milk as we had moved to Castleford. I worked for a man out there for 30 dollars a month and he wouldn’t let me keep them. I worked there for about 2 years and then we moved to Melon Valley where we rented a place from Stan Webber.
We got 1300 dollars from FHA and bought some cows, a team of horses, and some machinery to get started with. We didn’t think we would ever pay it back as that seemed like a lot of money to us, but in 2 years, we had it paid off. It was a hard struggle and some of our horses died. One died with colic and one foundered on grain and died. Our cattle kept dying and we couldn’t figure out what was wrong. We finally found out they were eating wild parsnips. Another time we woke up in the night and saw the chicken coop was on fire. WE jumped out of bed and ran to get the neighbors. They came to help us put the fire out, but it was too late. It burned down the coop and one hundred little chicks. We had 6 hens setting outside the coop and they burned right on the nests as the dump things wouldn’t leave their nests. I had just went to town that day and bought one hundred pounds of chick feed and kerosene for the brooder as we didn’t have electricity. I had been sleeping out in the coop in order to watch the brooder so it didn’t get too hot. I decided to sleep in the house that night as they had been getting along so good. It’s a good thing I did or I might have been roasted with the chickens!
We used to go salmon fishing. Sometimes it was a lot of fun when they let us spear them. I went elk, deer, and antelope hunting as it was a lot of fun. We usually got our limit of game. I killed a big brown bear and had a rug made of it and a few years later, I got a little black cub. We had him mounted standing up on a frame.
We rented the ranch for 3 years and decided what money we were giving for rent, we might just as well be buying it. We bought the one hundred sixty acres for 10 thousand dollars. We sure did raise some good beets and potatoes. We used to have good times there. Every Saturday night, there would be a get-together of the valley people. We would take our families and have a dance and potluck. We sure did have fun and the little kids would dance. We wouldn’t have to worry where they were or what they were doing.
Our third child Clarene RaNae was born. After that my health wasn’t very good. I had to have surgery and we had to borrow $8,060 and mortgage everything we had to get the money. We bought a few more cows to milk as we figured that was the only way we could pay the money back. We had a hard struggle but we made it. We farmed and lived on that place for 21 years, then we sold it to our neighbor and moved to town where we are living now.
I got a job for the City where I worked for 8 1/2 years. I got hurt on the job and had to quit as the doctor said I wasn’t able to do any hard work again.
I always tried to go fishing and hunting every year. One time, my father-in-law and I and about 4 others went in the Selway to hunt elk. WE got snowed in for 12 days. The guy that packed the hunters in and out lost 17 head of pack mules over a cliff as they tied one behind the other as they had to follow a narrow trail around the mountain. We asked the guy that lost them if he ever found them again. He said “Yes, everyone of them came home later on”. It was about 70 miles from where he lost them to where he lived. One of the hunters that he had packed in had a heart attack and died while we were there and all we had to get him out of there was my horse and the packers horse. We left camp at 7 o’clock that night and didn’t get him to camp til about 7 o’clock the next morning as the horses had to wade in snow to their bellies. We left him in one of the camps for 2 days until the forest service could get in to get him out.
Another time we went in we rolled my two mules down the mountain. It didn’t hurt them. We got them out again. Another time two other saddle horses rolled down the mountain within about 30 minutes apart. It sure was steep, but we had a good time and would look forward to going back the next year. My father-in-law said I know I should not have came and maybe you would have got your elk and wouldn’t have got snowed in. We just laughed.
The other time, I took my father-in-law fishing and we were in the boats. I cast my line out and didn’t think I case out far enough. When I reeled in, I had a pair of glasses on my hook. I couldn’t figure out where they came from. Dad felt his eyes and his glasses were gone. He said, “How in the devil did that happen? I thought I felt something jerk on my ears”. We sure did have a good laugh out of that. He often talked about it and had a good laugh. I still don’t know how I ever hooked onto them without him knowing it. We sure had some good times together. One other time, we had been up to Galena Summit getting out corral poles. We were coming home and we had a horse in a trailer. A car was trying to pass us and she ran off the side of the road. It looked like she was going to hit a telephone pole. She swerved back onto the road and she it our car on the hind wheel and it threw the horse out of the trailer onto the front of our car. It hurt his back and he couldn’t get up so we had to shoot him.
We used to take our children camping and fishing when they were little. Then came the grandchildren. We used to take them fishing and camping. We sure did enjoy having them with us. Now they are growing up and have their friends and activities. So now we just go alone. We sure do miss them but we still have our memories of the past. Would like to relieve some of the happy ones again.
Had Ivan of lived one more month, we could have celebrated our 64th wedding anniversary as he passed away on the 22nd of September, 1994. Our anniversary was the 22nd of October. He hadn’t been well for a long time as he got to where he couldn’t see to drive a car and was going to the doctor off and on for a year or two. They didn’t seem to know what was wrong with him until it was too late. They found out it was melanoma cancer of the rectum. They operated on him on January 18,1994 and they said they got 99.9 percent of it. They thought they had the worst of it, but he lived just 8 months longer when he passed away.
We bought us a nice self contained trailer house. It had a propane refrigerator in it. It sure was nice, but we didn’t get to enjoy it very much as he didn’t feel like going. We bought it the year before.
The last month, he sure suffered. We sure had a lot of memories behind us. A lot of them were good and a lot of them were bad. We wondered sometimes if we would make it. But I guess that’s the way life is. As they say, we have to have trials to learn to appreciate the good times and we had a lot of good times together. I sure miss them and him. But we still had a lot of good memories.
I am unsure how to introduce these pictures. I do not know the occasion, I cannot really say it is a reunion. I do not know which family really pulled this together or why, I do not know at whose house the reunion took place. It seems like an impromptu gathering of the Neilson family, but yet there are Coley’s present. Maybe the Coleys came to visit so the Neilsons all gathered too? But then there is the unknown woman. Is she related to the Neilsons, a distant relative of the Coleys, or both (since Edna Neilson, Art Coley, and Golden Coley are siblings with their mother Martha present).
About all I have been able to determine at this point is the pictures are believed to have been taken in Richmond, Cache, Utah in about 1950. We venture to guess sometime in the early spring due to the snow still on the mountains.
Martha Christiansen Coley (1879-1961) is the widow of Herbert Coley(1864-1942).
Edna Coley Neilson (1900-1983) is the daughter of Herbert and Martha Coley.
Olof Alma Neilson (1891-1960) is the husband of Edna Coley Neilson.
Harold Christian Neilson (1921-1966) is the son of Edna Neilson and Gerold Andrus (1903-1984) but was raised by Olof Neilson (you can read more under the above link for Edna).
Oma Dorine (Doreen) Johnson Neilson (later O’Neil)(1921-2003) is the wife of Harold Neilson.
Charlotte, Arlan, and CarolDean are all children of Harold and Doreen Neilson (although my records show none of these were born yet, but I have not been able to validate their birthdays).
Alma Russell “Russell” Neilson is the son of Olof and Edna Coley.
Gloria May Olson Neilson is the wife of Russell Neilson. I presume some of the unknowns in the photo are their children, but have not obtained that information yet.
Arthur “Art” Christiansen Coley(1921-2004), not in the above picture but below, is the son of Martha Coley.
Mary Elizabeth Popwitz Coley is the wife of Art Coley.
Stephen “Steve” G Coley is the son of Art and Mary Coley.
William Golden “Golden” Coley (1924-2009) is the son of Herbert and Martha Coley.
Shirley May Hall Coley is the wife of Golden Coley.
Joy Ann Coley is the daughter of Golden and Shirley Coley.
If anyone has contact with any of Harold or Russell’s children, I would like for them to see the pictures and perhaps provide more information.
Above you can see Edna Neilson with the unknown lady who appears to be part of the reason the family assembled. Unfortunately, we do not know who the guest of honor is! Initially I thought it was some relation of the Neilson clan, but nobody alive in their family seems to know who she is. But then why would Martha Coley and two of her other children’s families come to visit a Neilson visitor? Perhaps a sibling or sibling in law of Martha? Who knows? Hopefully some day I can find out and rewrite this post.
Here are the boys present on the occasion.
Here are the girls present on the occasion.
Since I presume these photos were all from Art and Mary’s camera, of course there is a picture with Mary and Joy.
One last picture of part of the elusive woman with Harold and his two children, Arlan and CarolDean.
With the recent passing of Ivan Blaine Neilson, I decided to prepare a history for his mother Edna Coley Neilson. Especially since I just recently came in possession of a number of new photographs of the family. Some day I will write a history of her parents, my Great Great Grandparents, but I am hoping some more photos of them will appear in the upcoming months.
Edna Coley was born 23 November 1900 in Lewiston, Cache, Utah. She was the second of ten children, my Great Grandmother Lillian being the oldest, born to Martha Christiansen and Herbert Coley.
I don’t know much about Edna’s personality. I have been told by numerous people that Edna was the preferred child of Martha and was often doted on to the the dismay of the siblings. I don’t know that tells me much of her personality though.
Edna married Gerold Andrus (1903-1984) 17 April 1921 in Richmond, Cache, Utah. The next month, 15 March 1921, Harold Christian Andrus was born. Gerold and Edna were only married for a very short time, a shotgun wedding and a shotgun divorce.
Edna married Olof Alma Neilson (1891-1960) 23 July 1923 in Logan, Cache, Utah. They were sealed 30 July 1924 in the Logan LDS Temple. I don’t know if Harold was adopted legally or not, but Harold went by Harold Christian Neilson the rest of his life. The only father he knew was Olof and Olof treated Harold as if he was his own son.
Olof and Edna would have what appears to be ten children together. The records certainly show ten children, but I believe one of them is a duplicate, or mistakes in names leading to a duplicate child. Nobody is alive to confirm either so I will list all ten but point out where I believe the duplication exists.
Alma Russell “Russell” Neilson born 23 Jun 1924 in Richmond. He married Gloria May Olson on 9 Oct 1946 in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple.
Olga Helen “Helen” Neilson born 28 July 1926 in Richmond. She married LeRoy “Roy” Hulse Draper 25 May 1943.
Martbamary Neilson born and died 2 July 1927 in Richmond. He does not have a tombstone if he is buried in Richmond.
Hebert Neilson born 25 November 1928 and died 26 November 1928 both in Richmond. He has a tombstone in Richmond.
Aenotta Neilson born and died 1 September 1929 in Richmond. This and the next child were either twins or just variations on a name. Only a documentation exists for the next child.
Jennetta Neilson was born 1 September 1929 and died 2 September 1929 in Richmond. Jennetta also has a tombstone where Aenotta does not, you would expect Aenotta would since they were supposedly twins.
Ole Neilson was born and died 19 October 1932 in Richmond. He was buried 20 October 1932 in the Richmond Cemetery and has a tombstone.
Ivan Blaine Neilson was born 26 April 1935 in Richmond. He died 16 January 2013 in Yuma, Yuma, Arizona. He was buried 25 January 2013 in Smithfield, Cache, Utah. He married Gloria Gilgen 8 June 1954 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. They were later divorced. He remarried to Rebecca Anne Pitcher 4 September 1981 in Smithfield.
Lastly, Martha Mary Neilson was born and died 6 July 1937 in Richmond. She is buried in Richmond.
I named the people in the reunion photo here.
Olof passed away of a heart attack at about 9:30 am 13 April 1960 at home in Richmond. He died almost instantly. He was buried in Richmond on 15 April 1960.
Edna’s mother passed away 14 August 1961. The family gathered for the funeral 17 August 1961 for the funeral. The photo below was taken that day in the Richmond Cemetery.
Edna lived close to her sister, Lillian Jonas, now Bowcutt, and Lillian makes regular reference to Edna in her journals. The thing that stands out to me is how close they were in that Edna would regularly aid or stay with Lillian. Also, Lillian makes regular reference to Edna’s attending the temple in Logan.
Harold took his own life 9 March 1966 in Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona. His body was brought back to Richmond for burial.
Edna lived in Richmond until she passed away 6 April 1983 in Richmond. Her funeral was held 9 April 1983.
This photo appeared in a number of photos I have been scanning. Since there is additional information on the back of this photo that I do not particularly care to go through the effort to document elsewhere, I thought I would make it available here.
Arthur Christiansen Coley (1921-2004) is my Great Grandmother’s brother. This photo was in his possession.
The back has written for Mr. Willis. “Gordon P Willis, West Main St, Petersburg, Ind.”
I believe this is Gordon Prentice Willis (1919-1976), son of Walter and Ida Willis, husband of Thelma Willis.
The back has written for Mr. Briggin. “L.F. Briggin, R. 5, Midland, Mich.”
This is Lawrence Frederick Briggin (1924-still alive), son of Thomas and Henrietta Briggin, husband of Billie Briggin. I visited with his daughter-in-law Muriel Briggin who I e-mailed a copy of the photo. She confirmed this was Lawrence Briggin and he is still alive in Midland, Michigan.
Herbert and Martha Coley are pleased to announce the marriage of their daughter Lillian to Joseph Nelson Jonas, son of Joseph and Annie Jonas. They were married 6 September 1916 in Logan, Cache, Utah at the LDS Temple. The photo above we think was taken around 1930 or so and is not a wedding photo.
Lillian was born the first child of ten to Martha Christiansen and Herbert Coley 26 August 1898 in Lewiston, Cache, Utah. Both Herbert and Martha were Mormon immigrants to Utah in the 1880’s. Herbert and Martha both had native land accents from England and Norway respectively. Herbert was a diligent laborer who would acquire full ownership in their home by 1910. Martha was a strict and involved homemaker and mother.
Lillian grew up assisting her mother in maintaining the home, large garden, and raising younger siblings. By the the time she married, she had six younger children who were in the home (three more were yet to be born). When Lillian was born, the family lived in Lewiston. By 1910, the family had moved to Wheeler, Cache, Utah (or the 1900 Census did not have Wheeler broken from Lewiston). The Wheeler area is almost 6 miles directly to the west from Richmond, Cache, Utah as indicated by the link. We do not know where they lived in Wheeler.
By the time Lillian married Joseph, the family lived at roughly 1950 E 9000 N to the south and east of Richmond. The remainder of the cabin built by Herbert Coley was still in the middle of a cow pen in fall 2012 on the south side of the road, but was in pretty poor condition. Ellis Jonas took me there about 2002 and indicated the home to me as where they lived when he was a little boy. Martha moved in to town, Richmond, after Herbert passed away in 1946.
Joseph Nelson Jonas was the sixth of seven child born to Annetta Josephine Nelson and Joseph Jonas 19 November 1893 in or near Ellensburg, Kittitas, Washington. About 1896, Joseph’s mother, Annie, went to the Eastern Washington Hospital for the Insane in Fancher, Spokane, Washington (she is listed as Ann J Jonas). She was in and out of hospitals throughout her life but as Joseph was one of the younger children, he would not have known his mother a little better.
Annie got out of the Eastern Washington Hospital 31 October 1899 and went home to Ellensburg and continued to be a handful for the family. The family on the 1900 Census in Cle Elum, Kittitias, Washington does not include Annie though and the census that year has Joseph Sr in both Cle Elum and Spokane about two weeks apart in June 1900. Annie’s sister, Charlotte, visited in 1901. Due to Annie’s mental and emotional state, and with Joseph Sr’s approval, the whole Jonas family went to Utah to stay temporarily with Annie’s brother, Nels August Nelson. Uncle August lived in Crescent, Salt Lake, Utah and the Jonas party arrived 3 July 1901 from Washington.
Joseph Sr for one reason or another went back to Washington with the youngest child Margaret. Nels suggested it was legal issues, it might have just been the farm that needed attention. Annie’s issues were such that August and his wife, Fidelia, signed an affidavit of insanity and had her admitted to the Utah State Hospital 1 November 1901.
Joseph Sr had been raised as a Catholic and Annie Nelson had been raised LDS. Annie decided she did not like LDS men and wanted to marry a Gentile and did so. The children were raised Catholic in Washington. Now in Utah, Uncle August made sure the children learned about the LDS faith. The three boys elected to be baptized LDS on 10 January 1902 in Crescent by their Uncle August in an ice covered Jordan River. All three were confirmed 12 January 1902 by Jaime P Jensen. Rosa joined 6 February 1902, also in Crescent under the hand of Uncle August in a hole chipped in the Jordan River. Margaret did not join as she stayed near her father in Washington.
In 1904, Rosa married a boy, Christian Andersen, from Richmond. They married in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. They moved to 137 E 100 S in Richmond. Joseph and his brothers resided with Uncle August until after their mother passed in 1907, then they would regularly and for prolonged periods stay with Rosa in Richmond. The 1910 Census lists Joseph at home in Crescent. Read more of Brother John Jonas.
Joseph attended Brigham Young College in Logan and graduated with his diploma 3 June 1915. We don’t know much about his time at Brigham Young College but the story goes he wrestled with their team and did so very effectively. William, Joseph’s brother, was apparently here at school during some overlapping periods. Joseph became well known for his love of gospel conversations. He was known for regularly discussing and even arguing the gospel with extra determination. No hard feelings developed due to his ardor in arguing since others would always agree to a handshake after a good debate.
Below is a copy of a picture believed to be from his graduation at BYC. I have not been able to find the original of this photo or a copy at Utah State University’s archives where the Brigham Young College limited records are located (which are less than cooperative on letting me rummage through all the unknown photos).
In Richmond Joseph and Lillian met when Lillian’s father, Herbert, hired Joseph to help harvest hay. It was within six months, according to the story, that they were married. The two were married 6 September 1916 in the Logan LDS Temple.
Joseph registered for the draft of World War I on 5 June 1917. When he registered, he indicated he was a laborer working for Olaf Neilson, the man who would later become a brother-in-law. He indicated he was taking care of his wife and father. He also indicated that his eyes were brown and his hair was brown. He is listed as short and stout. Here is his signature from that registration. According to his family, he stood about 5’6″ and was very muscular.
Joseph’s father passed in Richmond in June 1917. Lillian gave birth to Joseph Herbert Jonas 14 August 1917 in Richmond.
In 1919, Joseph and his two siblings, Rosa and William, had all moved to Idaho. They operated a dry farm raising grain in Cleveland, Franklin, Idaho. Christian and Rosa, along with Joseph, did most of the work on the farm and lived about a mile apart. William taught at the school in Thatcher, Franklin, Idaho. The Andersen and Jonas families also kept cows, pigs, chickens, and a sizable garden. This is the only home Joseph and Lillian Jonas would together own. Joseph arrived with the cows in Thatcher on 1 April 1919. Lillian stayed in Richmond due to her pregnancy and while Joseph established the farm. Communications were slow because mail was held at Thatcher. Joseph and Lillian only heard from each other when Joseph made it in to Thatcher to pick up the mail or send a letter.
Spencer Gilbert Jonas was born 1 September 1919 in Richmond. Lillian and the two boys joined Joseph in Cleveland.
The 1920 Census found the Jonas family on 26 January 1920 living on the Cleveland Road outside of Thatcher.
Irwin John Jonas was born 2 September 1921 in Cleveland, but listed as Thatcher.
In 1923 or early 1924, the family then moved to Lewiston, Cache, Utah. The farm was not working out and he was able to obtain employment with the Utah-Idaho Central Railroad. Joseph worked on a section gang, just like his father had. The gang’s job was to repair rotten timbers, hammering in spikes, tightening bolts, and maintaining the rail line. He worked 7 days a week, sometimes all night, coming home only after a shift was over.
The family lived in a boxcar that had its wheels removed. A ditch ran under a portion of their home. Another boxcar nearby was used as a storage shed. It was here 15 May 1924 that Wilburn Norwood Jonas was born. Ellis Seth Jonas arrived in this home 6 September 1926, their 10 year wedding anniversary.
Joseph kept a tub of furnace oil in the shed. It accidentally caught on fire and and Joseph immediately announced to Lillian that the storage shed would burn down and probably their home too. Joseph, known for being a bit of a prankster, was not believed by Lillian despite his insistence. Joseph ran back to the shed and picked up the burning tub of fuel and carried it outside the shed. While he saved the shed and his home, he found himself in Ogden for several weeks with 2nd and 3rd degree burns. A 9 February 1927 newspaper mention in the Ogden Standard Examiner tells of his being brought to the Dee Hospital on Tuesday the 8th for treatment of burns to the face.
In 1927, Joseph was promoted foreman and oversaw the Quinney line through Wheeler, Thaine, and ending at Quinney (now Amalga). Later, he accepted another foreman job and moved to the railroad town of Uintah, Weber, Utah where he lived in row housing. Here is a picture taken while living there.
Joseph filed for divorce 2 March 1929 claiming Lillian had deserted him. The article in the paper indicates they had not lived together since 20 February 1928. It was during this time on 4 September 1928 that Evan Reed Jonas was born in Ogden. The divorce was dismissed on 9 March 1929 due to the party’s stipulation. Joseph again sued on 8 April 1929. He was ordered to pay $75 a month until the case was resolved. Joseph and Lillian had the case dismissed after they worked out their issues.
The family later moved into a comfortable home owned by the railroad at 102 17th Street in Ogden, Weber, Utah. It was a row house, but since he was Section Foreman, the only one with a porch. Joseph’s father, Joseph, had also served as Section Foreman. Joseph’s main responsibility dealt with the Huntsville and Plain City/Warren lines. During this time Joseph and Lillian became known as generous hosts where all visitors were always given more than enough to eat. Joseph prided himself on the vegetable garden they grew at this home.
On 6 November 1929 Lillian was hit and ran over by an automobile driven by Jack Mobley. It knocked her unconscious but she quickly regained consciousness. She spent the night in the hospital and was pretty seriously bruised and lacerated but suffered no broken bones. Joseph and Lillian admitted they were walking in the middle of the road when the accident occurred.
Joseph and Lillian continued active in the LDS church. Joseph regularly debated and discussed religion with others. He was also known to be strict in adherence to principles and expected his children to do the same. He was not afraid to “switch” his children when they got in trouble or disobeyed. One thing family members always commented about Joseph was his ability to remember and recall scripture in a conversation and discussion. Not only that, but when questioned to prove it, he was familiar enough with the book that within moments he could find the chapter and verse. His familiarity with the bible surprised many people, especially from a railroad laborer.
Lillian Annetta Jonas was born 15 July 1930 in Ogden. The 1930 Census found Joseph and Lillian at their home on 9 April 1930. The family was fairly comfortable, they could even afford some of the best appliances.
Joseph was especially glad to have a girl after six sons in a row.
Joseph and Lillian had a scare in 1931 when their son, Joseph, disappeared for a couple of weeks. He had been kidnapped by a Mr. J J Nelson and taken to Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho. He was finally recovered on 20 June 1931. The man was arrested after he beat young Joseph in public and the police determined Joseph was the missing boy from Ogden.
LeReta Mary Jonas was born 1 August 1932 in Ogden.
On Tuesday, 6 September 1932, a month after LeReta was born and on his 16th wedding anniversary, Joseph went to work as usual. Joseph knew the dangers of working on the railroad. It was near lunch time and his son, Norwood, was taking Joseph his lunch. Joseph saw Norwood and got down off a trolley near Lincoln and 20th Street, near the American Can Company plant. After getting off the trolley, he turned and walked toward Norwood and hit his head on a wire Mr. Child had strung down to do some welding. (Mr. Child was haunted by this episode the rest of his life because Joseph had warned him about the way he had hung the wire.) The shock knocked Joseph on his back unconscious and not breathing. Joseph died immediately but doctors worked on Joseph for over an hour. Lillian said Norwood was forever affected by the event. Joseph died at roughly 1:00 PM.
Here is a copy of the newspaper notice.
Here is the burial notice.
As a historical side note, here is the front of the train schedule Joseph had in his wallet at the time of his death.
The loss of Joseph dealt the family a hard blow not only with losing a family member, but it also lost them the company housing in which they were living. Lillian, at the mercy of family, moved immediately back to Richmond to be near her family. Lillian’s father, Herbert Coley, was appointed administrator for Joseph’s estate. The railroad paid out roughly $1,200 to Joseph’s estate. The funeral, transport, and burial of the family cost Lillian $150. The estate did not begin making regular payments to Lillian until 1934. Until then, Lillian wrote to the railroad for assistance and help. The railroad was happy to provide passes for the family to travel. Unfortunately, the company quit handling company coal so they could not fulfill her requests but allowed the boys to have all the used railroad ties they wanted for firewood.
Fortunately, the money from the estate was enough to purchase a home for Lillian in Richmond from a Melvin & Bernetta Smith for $500. This gave Lillian a home to raise her children and less worry about providing for her family. The home was located on the north side of the road at roughly 65 E 400 S in Richmond, Utah. Herbert and Martha, Lillian’s parents, lived across the street, but their home was a good couple hundred feet from the road.
Lillian made good effort to raise six unruly, now fatherless, boys and two girls. At Joseph’s death, the children were ages 15, 13, 11, 8, 6, 4, 2, and 1 month. The Jonas brood were known for being a bit coarse and boisterous as the years went on. Only a few years would pass before the children would start marrying.
Joseph married Hilma Grace Erickson 17 June 1936 in Logan.
Spencer married Viola “Jimmie” Amelia Cole 5 August 1938 in Farmington, Davis, Utah.
Irwin joined the army 6 July 1939 and immediately left for training. He eventually married Mary Elizabeth Popwitz 17 June 1943 in Rochester, Olmsted, Minnesota.
Evan married Lona Rae Jensen 15 March 1946 in Elko, Elko, Nevada.
Ellis married Geraldine Pitcher 17 August 1947 in Elko.
LeReta married Lowell Hansen Andersen 19 March 1948 in Logan.
Lillian married Ray Laurence Talbot 16 August 1948 in Ogden.
Lillian spent the new few years in an empty home. She knew Lorenzo “Ren” Bowcutt over the years. She accepted his offer of marriage and they were married 12 June 1953 in Preston, Franklin, Idaho.
At the time of her marriage to Ren, she had 22 grandchildren, 21 living.
Ren passed away 5 April 1966 in Logan (born 12 May 1883 in Honeyville, Box Elder, Utah). Ren was buried in Riverside, Box Elder, Utah.
She lived in the same home until the early 1980’s when she moved in with her daughter Lillian in Layton.
Lillian died 11 February 1987 in Davis Medical Center, Layton, Utah. She was almost 88.5 years old. She was buried beside her husband (55 years later) in Richmond 16 February 1987.
This photo is one that was among many in my Great Grandmother’s possessions. Since I don’t have a clue who she is, I thought I would make it available with the information that is written on the back.
“Sweet Dorothy J Gruel” (This may be Gruett, Cruett, Gruell, or some other variation in cursive writing.)
I recognize the building because it is still there and Bliss doesn’t have many buildings. I don’t know if it was all grades in one, or just a high school. Either way, I assume Ms. Dorothy knew my Great Grandmother, Lillian Coley, and sent the photo to her. There is a chance this photo was sent to Lillian’s mother, Martha Christiansen Coley, and could be a niece or something to her. I do not have her in my family file, cannot find her name anywhere, and hope this will be useful to someone. My Great Grandmother Lillian was born in 1898, so if this girl is roughly the same age, this photo would have been taken around 1912.