The Story of My Life by Fred Nuffer

Georg Friedrich Nuffer in early 1950s

Another entry from “We of Johann Christoph Nuffer, also known as: Neuffer, Nufer, Neufer,” The book was published in April 1990 by Dabco Printing and Binding Co in Roy, Utah. I will quote from the book itself.

“Being in my 80th year and inclined to reflection I have a desire to put in writing some of the events of my life.  My memory is very clear, even back to the earliest years, and consequently few happenings are left out.  For this reason I am able to go into detail beyond which might be expected.

“I was born January 20, 1864, in the little city of [Neuffen], County of Nurtingen, State of Wuerttemberg, Germany.  My mother died when I was about 2.  I have one brother, John, a year older than myself, still living (1943).  Father married against so we were raised by a stepmother.  She was a very sincere and Christian woman and a good mother.  In 1870, when I was 6, I started in school and graduated from 8th grade in 1878.  When I was 14, my father bound me over to learn the trade of glazier and carpenter to a man by the name of Christian Selter in Stuttgart, the capital of Wuerttemberg.  I didn’t learn much the first two years as I had to do all of the errands throughout the city until a younger boy took my place so I could stay in the shop.

“In 1880, my parents were converted by the Mormon missionaries and wanted to emigrate to Utah.  Stuttgart was about 20 miles from Neuffen.  I received a letter from Father asking if I wanted to go with them.  I did, but my master would not release me.  The folks had to come through Stuttgart on their way, so I started to smuggle my things away and intended to join them.  My master found my trunk empty and suspected my intentions so he offered to let me go for 200 Marks.  I told Father and and he sent the money.  I doubt if my master could have held me by force as I was under age.  Three other families emigrated at the same time from the same town.

“From Stuttgart we went to Mannheim, down the Rhine River, to Rotterdam, then cross the North Sea to Grimsley, England.  From there we went to New York and then to Logan, Utah.  Father bought a house and lot in Providence, a suburb of Logan.

Young Fred Nuffer

“The first summer I went to work for a man named Oslob painting houses for 25¢ a day and board.  All he did was take the jobs and mix the paint.  In the fall, he sent me home and the next spring he offered me 40¢ if I would come back.  I told him I had something better.

“There was a man by the name of Thomas Ricks in Logan who had a contract to lay the rails from Dillon, Montana, to Butte City on the Utah and Northern narrow gauge line.  I asked for a job, although I was only a kid.  But he took me with him and gave me a job dropping spikes along the rails.  I got 75¢ per day and board.  I learned the English language very fast that summer as I got away from the German people.

“Dillon, at that time, was the terminus of the U & N.  It was a very small village.  By fall we got to Silver Bow, 7 miles from Butte.  I grew very fast that summer and was promoted to bolting the rails together on one side, and my wages raised  to $1.05 per day.  It was late fall and winter had started, but we had to get to Butte with the track.  The last 4 miles laid we had to shovel a foot of snow off the grade.  We got the Butte on Christmas Day, and it was the first railroad to that city.

“Mr. Ricks also had a grading job on a railroad along the Jefferson River.  He sent a crew of 6 men over there with a team.  I asked him to let me go along but he said I was too young.  It was about 75 miles south of Butte over a range of mountains.  When the wagons were loaded and they were ready to start, I crawled under the tarp and went with them.  When we got out about 8 miles, I showed myself but they couldn’t do anything about it.  We had a large horse tied to the hind end of the wagon.  He broke loose and ran back toward the camp at Butte.  I, being a boy, was sent back to catch him.  They thought that would be a good way to get me back to camp.

“In fact, I was the cause of the horse breaking loose.  I chased the horse all the way back to camp, caught him, put a bridle on him without anyone noticing me, and started after the wagon again.  I had never ridden a horse.  He was quite frisky and I fell off several times and had to find a high place to get back on.  I didn’t catch the wagon, but got off on the wrong road and landed in a wood camp.  They told me the road was about 10 miles east.  I started out over rough ground and got on the right road.  At that point the road started through a canyon.  There was much snow and ice on the road as it was between Christmas and New Year’s.  It was getting late and was very cold.  I had to keep going to keep from freezing to death.

“About 12 miles further, that night, I came to the halfway house and found the wagon and men.  They had just gotten there ahead of me and were in the house talking.  They also had had a hard time pushing the wagon up the hills through the snow.  I gave them a good cussing for not waiting for me.  I guess it sounded funny in my broken English.  They said they thought the boss would keep me at Butte.  They couldn’t understand how I ever got through, it being so cold.

“The next day we came to our camp on the Jefferson River.  My job was to drive two single dump carts out of a deep cut.  I took one out and dumped it while 4 men loaded another with shovels.  The men were kind to me and corrected my speech whenever I didn’t pronounce words right.  We worked there until spring when the projected suddenly was stopped from headquarters.  The road was completed some years later.  We went back to Dillon by team from there.  With the advent of the railroad, Dillon had grown fast and had become a division.  I took the train back to Providence, Utah.

“As soon as I got home, I went to work for the Jessop brothers, Tom and Tet.  They were railroad grading contractors.  Their campe was located where Lava Hot Springs is built now, in Idaho.  I became a night herder.  My job was to take the horses and mules out on the range in the evening and come back with them at 6 a.m. in time for the teams to start the day’s work.  I got $1.75 per day and rode my own horse.  The next two years I spent most of my time in the saddle.

“I began to master the English language.  I seldom heard German spoken during this time.  This was the spring of 1882.  In this campe, I had a pal of my age by the name of Mark Golightly.  He was a nephew of Joe Golightly of Preston and a near relative of Mr. Jessop, my boss.  He was a privileged character in camp and didn’t have to do anything if he didn’t want to.  He claimed to be a fast foot racer and kept bantering me for a race.  I finally told him I’d run if he accepted my distance.  He said he would run any distance.  I named the distance between our two camps, about 2 miles apart.  I put up my saddle and $15.  He put up a new $40 shotgun.  There was a great commotion in camp when the men heard of it.  They wanted to go right after dinner so they could all see us start.  Some called me a darn fool and said Mark was a professional foot racer.  But after we got started they all bet something on one or the other.  A man went along on horseback.  I had my mind made up to win.  I made it in 14 minutes, Mark in 25 minutes.  Mr. Jessop said I shouldn’t take the gun from the boy.  I said all right, I didn’t want it, but Mark made me take it saying that I had won it fair.

“Our next move was to McCammon on the U & N coming up from the south.  The road we were working was the Oregon Short Line, starting from Granger, Wyoming, and running west through Idaho to Oregon.  McCammon was the western-most point in the construction.  We pitched our camp where the depot now stands.  I got acquainted with the late H.O. Harkness who owned all the land around McCammon and a hotel and saloon.  He had the land fenced for about 3 miles square.  He had put a gate on the further side and wanted me to drive the herd outside every night, but by the time the herd got feeding close to the fence it was time to lead them back to camp since I had to be back so early.  The land was all sagebrush and greasewood and he did no farming at all.  Harkness tried to raise the devil with my boss, insisting on me going outside, but I never did.  Thirty years after this happened, I met Harkness at McCammon.  He was sitting on the porch of his hotel in a rocking chair.  He had aged and was fat.  He didn’t know me but when I told him I was Jessop’s night herder he shook hands and was very friendly.  I asked him if he remembered when I refused to take the herd outside of his land.  He said, “Well, I ‘ll tell you, the land wasn’t mine.”  He called his man, told him to hitch up the cart and took me all over his land, showed me his crops.  It was a different place from 30 years earlier.  He treated me like a lost friend.  Invited me to dinner.  Then a year after that he died.

“I might say the way Harkness got his start was by marrying the widow of a man that owned the toll bridge across the Portneuf River at McCammon.  Before U & N was built there was much freighting by team from Corrine, Utah, the closest railroad point to Butte.  They all had to cross the toll bridge.  It was at McCammon where the Oregon Short Line met the U & N.  The railroads intended to make McCammon a division and build their shops there, as plenty of water and suitable land was about.  But Harkness owned all the desirable land.  He got too greedy and wanted to hold up the price.  The railroads refused and went through the canyon on the same grade with U & N to where Pocatello now stands and made their division point and built their shops (in 1887 – after a year in Eagle Rock).  This land was on the reservation and they got it cheap from the Indians.  McCammon is still a very small settlement and Pocatello is the second city in Idaho, thanks to Mr. Harkness.

“Our next move was to the desert between American Falls and Shoshone, about 75 miles without water.  It took many 4-horse teams to haul water for the camps.  There were dozens of camps in that lawless country.  Many horse thieves and all kinds of bad men.  Whenever one was caught in the act they would raise the wagon tongue, prop it up with a doubletree and hang them on it, dig a hole under their feet and bury them and nothing was said about it.  There were many occasions of that kind, for a man without a horse rarely lived long and for one man to steal another’s was just the same as taking his life and the penalty was also life.  The nearest authority was Boise City and they didn’t care anything about it.  The most general conversation in the camps was about horses and mules, pulling matches, foot races, riding wild horses, penny ante, and stud poker.

“When late fall came my job was ended.  About December 1st, I rode my horse home.  While riding over the desert, I had to buy water for my horse and dog at 25¢ per bucket.  Some distance from American Falls I met some tracklayers who were constantly following the grade builders.  I met several spike drivers whom I dropped spikes for the previous year in Montana.  At Pocatello I went to the section house and got a square meal.  It was the only building in the vicinity.  Not being able to get any feed for my horse, I went over to the river and turned him out and then slept out as usual.  The horse would not leave me and the dog to go very far.

“I stayed in Providence until about March 1.  This was the first time I took any notice of the dear girl who became my wife.  I was beginning to get of shaving age.

“About that time Jessop brought some more grading outfits from George Maler of Providence who was also a railroad contractor.  We loaded the outfit on flatcars at Logan and shipped them to Shoshone.  We rode in covered wagons on the flatcars.  At Battle Creek, near Preston, we stopped several hours, it being a terminal and a very tough place.  Several of the boys got drunk, especially one by the name of George Hovey.  He was continually climbing from one car to another until we missed him.  When we got to McCammon we got a message that the section hands had picked up the remains of a man on the tracks.  It turned out to be George Hovey.  Jessop went back and sent what was left of George to his mother who was a widow.  George had been working with us the previous year and was a very good boy.

“We could go to Shoshone on the train.  The tracks had been laid during the winter.  During the time that American Falls was the terminus there was a tent city across the Snake River with the usual quantity of bad men.  Several men who were known to have money disappeared.  The gamblers were under suspicion of having done the job.  They were ordered out of town and told that it would be too bad if they came back.  While they were gone the lawful citizens organized a vigilante committee.  After a few weeks, the gamblers, Tex and Johnson, came back and were seen going into a bakery.  They were surrounded in a gun battle.  Tex got his arm shot off.  Johnson wasn’t hurt.  A rope was placed around their necks and they were led out on the railroad directly over the falls.  They tied the ropes to the bridge and told them to jump.  Tex jumped and Johnson had to be pushed off.

“In connection with this incident, I happened to be placer mining in 1919 on the Snake River about 5 miles below American Falls.  One day I was walking to town and when I got close to the bridge I saw a bunch of men close by.  I went up to them and asked what the excitement was.  They had been digging post holes for an electric line to a brick yard.  They said they had dug up two men with their boots on.  I told them they were Tex and Johnson.  They had been buried there in 1883.  They asked me how I knew.  I told them I was there at the time.  They said, “You must be right because old Doc Brown, an old settler, told us the same thing.”  They had taken the bodies to town and were told to bring them back and bury them in the same place.  They were in the act of covering them up when I came upon them.  The old grave was on the edge of the rim rock with good drainage and they were in recognizable condition.

“The tent city of American Falls was now moved to Shoshone on flatcars.  While Shoshone was the terminus I believe it was the toughest and most lawless city that ever existed in the west.  There was no authority of any kind.  men gathered there from all the camps, at times about 2,000.  There were stores, gambling houses and dance halls.  Men got killed nearly every day.

“We were camped about half a mile from town on the banks of the Little Wood River.  I had a large, black, curly-haired dog, my constant companion and a coyote killer.  I rode into town one day when a large dog jumped onto mine.  My dog was getting the best of the other when a man ran out of a shack with an axe to kill my dog.  Just as the axe was being lifted I pulled my .44 and just in time.  I told the man to drop the axe or I would fill him full of holes.  He dropped it and ran.  I came within a few seconds of killing a man at that time and I believe I surely would if he had touched my dog.  And there would not have been anything done about it.  I carried a .44 Colt night and day by request of my boss as there were many horses being stolen nearby, but against me and my dog they had no chance.

“By the end of May, we got as far as Glenns Ferry, Idaho.  The first part of June we moved to Burnt Canyon above Huntington, Oregon.  During that trip I had a difficult time as I had to keep the herd out at night and then sleep in the wagon traveling over rough roads during the day.  The herd fed wherever night overtook us.  Sometimes there was very little feed.  One night we were camped where the Weiser grist mill now stands.  I took the herd out on what is now the Weiser Flats.  It was all sagebrush.  Now it is one of the best farm locations in the west.  There were a few log cabins where the Weiser Court House now stands and nothing more.

“Huntington had one store and one saloon.  It was tame to what we had seen.  We got too far ahead of the track gang which caused some delay.  At our camp in Burnt Canyon we had a China cook and a sort of person to cause trouble, it soon became evident.  Jessop’s wife and his grown daughter were the cook’s helpers.  The cook had a sore hand and wanted to lay off.  He said he had a friend in Boise that would be glad to come and take his place.  The boss told him to send for him.  In due time he arrived, about 7 o’clock one day.  The woman was in her tent at that time.  This new Chinaman went into the tent to talk to her.  She was just leaving to go to the cook tent.  She supposed he was following her out, but he didn’t.  Shortly after she went back to the tent to see where he was and caught him in the act of attempting to rape her 7-year-old girl.  She ran toward the dining tent and met me coming out.  She said, “Catch that Chinaman – he ought to be hung.”  I asked what he had done.  She wouldn’t tell me.  Just at that time her husband, Jessop, came riding in from the works.  She ran to him, told him something, then they both hurried over to me and said we got to hang that Chinaman.  He told me what he had done.  The Chinaman’s blankets that had been by the cook shack were gone and so was the Chinaman.  By that time the men had all come in from work for dinner.  No hell was popping.  The boss sent me up the road and he went down.

“There was a China camp up the road one half mile.  These men were working on a rock cut.  All the Chinaman were just coming out of the dining tent.  I ran up to the boss, an Irishman, and asked if he had seen a stray Chinaman.  He said no.  I decided he had not come this way as there were no tracks in the road either.  I arrived back at camp just as the boss did.  He said no one had been down the road so the Chinaman must be in the brush around camp.  All the men were called to hunt.  There were many acres of brush all around the camp, mostly hawthorn.  It was almost impossible to get through them.  Before long we found his blankets in the brush, it being too thick to get them any farther.  Then the hunt was on.  The only way to get him out was to burn him out and that is what was done.  There was much dry brush and it was in the dry season.  I got out on high ground on my horse where I could look over the brush and could see them waving as the Chinaman crawled through.  I directed the men to the spot by yelling the direction to go.  The Chinaman soon came out of the brush and jumped in the creek.  A bunch of men were there waiting for him and took him in charge.  From that point I took no active part.

“They abused him terribly.  One man took his queue over his back and dragged him.  The boss came running on his horse and said they had found a place to hang him.  Previously I had cut a trail through the brush to drive the herd night and morning to the other side of the creek into the hills.  There was a large hawthorn bowed over the trail and the boss had seen that so that is where they hung him.  They dug a hole under his feet and buried him in the center of the trail.  I drove the heard over his grave night and morning.

“There was a Chinaman who was the head of all the China camps in the vicinity.  He happened to be in the camp that I searched.  The fire could be seen for miles and caused some excitement.  This head Chinaman came to our camp to see what was going on.  He saw the Chinaman hanging on the hawthorn.  He had three of what he called our ring leaders arrested.  They were taken to Baker City, Oregon, for trial.  They all denied having a hand in the affair, claiming they were working on the grade at the time.  The timebooks showed full time for all, although no one had worked that afternoon.  So the case was dismissed.  During the hanging, an Irishman in our camp had pulled for the Chinaman saying that we had punished him enough without hanging him, too.  If the Irishman had not got out of their way they would have hung him, too.  That shows how crazy a mob can be.  It is not healthy to interfere.

“The country at that time was waving with bunch grass two feet high, with plenty of elk and deer and other wild animals.  Night herding was an easy job but there were rattlesnakes everywhere.  I could sleep in the grass from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., then round up the herd and get to camp by 5:30; that is if I didn’t mind to sleep with the rattlers.  But I actually did.  I found it was too hot to sleep in the tent in the daytime, so I cleaned a place in the brush and made my bed on the ground and for a week every time the dinner bell rang, I stirred, a big rattler crawled from under the blankets and got away in the brush.  When I think of it I must have been a foolhardy kid as I didn’t pay any attention to the snake.  When I told the boys about this they called me a damn fool.  One day a friend stood by my bed when the dinner bell rang and, with a forked stick, he caught the snake.  He took it to the chopping block and cut off its head.  It still kept rattling.  I cut off about two foot more and it still rattled.  I put it in m pocket with the rattles sticking out, then walked into the kitchen.  The woman folks though I had a real one and all scattered.

“One night I was sleeping in the grass when my dog by my side growled.  As I raised up, the dog grabbed a rattler from the front of my face.  He caught it too far back from the head which permitted the snake to bite the dog several times on the side of the mouth.  It was moonlight and I could see it very plain.  He dropped the snake and walked around shaking his head which had already started to swell.  I took him to camp and tied him to a wagon wheel and went back to the herd.  In the morning, his head looked like a calf’s head.  He laid in the creek all day but went out with me every night.  I chopped up some meat and stuffed it down his through to keep him from starving.  The boys wanted me to kill him.  They said he might get mad, and if I did not kill him they would.  I told them the first one that hurt the dog would be a dead man.  They took my word for it and left him alone.  On the 12th day I heard the first faint bark.  The dog was getting well.

“Sometime in November, I bought two fine large horses and told my boss I was going to ride them home.  He said I’d never get there as it was over 400 miles of unsettled country.  I told him I would get there if I started, and start I did.  I went straight south of Snowville, just over the Idaho line into Utah.  I then back-tracked some and went east to Malad.  From there I went across the mountains to Franklin, Idaho, then south to Providence, Utah, the trip taking 12 days.

“Many things happened on this trip.  I camped wherever night overtook me and bought something to eat whenever I could.  Sometimes I had nothing but jackrabbit fried on the sagebrush.  It was harder on the dog than on me or the horse.  It was warm and dusty for that time of year.  Near Glenns Ferry, Idaho, I came to a house there.  He let me put my horse in the stable and I slept in the stake yard.  During the night the dog growled and as I peeped out from the blankets I saw the man pulling hay out of the stack.  I went to sleep thinking nothing of it.  Next morning my saddle was missing.  I accused the man of stealing it.  He denied it.  He said he hadn’t been out of the house all night.  I knew he was guilty and said so.  I marched him all through the house ahead of my gun, but found nothing.  I told him I’d kill him if I didn’t get the saddle.  It had cost me $50 and I had a long ways to go.  I stayed there a few hours and then he sent his boy off on a horse.  I supposed he went to get help as there were several cowboy camps throughout the country.  I figured that I had better be going so I made some rope stirrups for my pack-saddle, which was an old riding saddle, and put the bedding on the other horse without any saddle.  I started off.  I crossed at Glenns Ferry at about 4 o’clock that evening and went on into the desert.  Next day was a warm one and the dog gave out.  He traveled with his head close to the ground in the dust.  I couldn’t do anything about it.  The horses were getting dry and dying for water.  It wasn’t long until the road went downhill and I came to Snake River again.  I had to lead the horses to water three times before I dared to let them have all they wanted.  After awhile I saw the dog crawling down the hill.  He made it to the river.

“There was a stage station there and I got a square meal.  This place is now called Thousand Springs, and the country is well settled.

“I went through Franklin because I had a letter from my brother, John, telling me that the folks had moved from Providence to northeast of Franklin.  I went up Cub River a ways as that was northeast but found nobody that ever heard of the folks, so I turned south to Providence.  I had my reason to go to Providence.  My charming girl was there.

“John found out I was in Providence and came to get me.  They were located on Worm Creek on a homestead.  I stayed with the folks until spring, 1884, when I went to work on a gravel train and sometimes on a section between Montpelier and Granger.  That fall I took a herd of sheep for George Horn to the winter range on the promontory north of Salt Lake.  The spring of 1885 I met my old chum, Abe Kneiting, in Logan, and we decided to go to Butte.  We worked in a sawmill for awhile, about 8 miles west of Butte.  From there we went to Anaconda to drive a team in a wood camp for W. A. McCune.  I worked a few months in the Anaconda smelter but didn’t like it there.  I got to know Marcus Daly who was head of the smelter.  The wages at the smelter were from $3 to $6 per shift, according to the job.  That fall Daly cut the wages to 50¢ to $1 for the same work.  The way he did it was to shut the smelter down entirely for repairs, as he claimed, and started up one furnace at a time.  In a month, the smelter was in full force again with the wages cut and Daly got a $50,000 Christmas present.  The company wanted him to do the same thing in the mines at Butte.  He said it could not be done.  The union was too strong and he valued his life.

“The mines and the smelter were owned by the same company.  They also had a railroad that ran between the two places.  Mr. W. O. Clark was the head man for the mines.  The general talk by the men around Butte and Anaconda was about Marcus Daly, W. O. Clark and John L. Sullivan.  There was a mill and concentrator west of Butte called the Bluebird Mill, owned by the company.  This New York firm sent a man out to cut the wages in the mill.  The mill and smelter men had no union at that time.  Once, when the New Yorker was strutting along this street at the corner of Main and Clark, a bunch of men were standing there and they were whispering.  All at once they closed in on the New Yorker from all sides.  A few policemen came running.  The mob took hold of the police and told them to walk on down the street and that it was not healthy for them to stop or look back.  They went.  They dropped a rope over the New Yorker and threw the other end over a telegraph pole.  He begged so hard for his life that they told him if he would go back to New York and promise never to come back to Montana they’d let him go.  He promised.  About 100 men escorted him to the depot and put him on the first train.  They say he has never been seen in Montana since.  I worked for A. W. McCune until the spring of 1887 in the mines at Lion City.  The camp was called Hecly and the mine called Cleopatrie.  It was about 15 miles from Melrose, in the mountains.

Anna Rinderknecht Nuffer, 1933 in Mt Hebron

“In the spring of 1888, I took a layoff for two weeks.  My boss said if I was back in two weeks my job would be ready.  I went to Providence and met my charming sweetheart, Anna Rinderknecht.  I had courted her for the last 4 years.  I told her I came to get married.  She said all right.  We called the local Justice of the Peace, Alma Mathius, to the house.  He married us with her mother and two neighbors for witnesses.  Licenses weren’t necessary at that time.  She was raised in the Mormon Church.  I was baptized into the church when I was 16.  We were married under the condition that she would go with me to the mining camp where my job was waiting.  She said she would go anywhere I wanted her to go and be glad of it.  We were married on April 4, 1888.  We lived happily together for 55 years and 6 days.  She passed away April 10, 1943, at 15716 Saticoy Street, Van Nuys, California.

“Now I am due to tell the story of my married life which was altogether different conditions from my single life.

“We stayed in the mining camp until November, 1888, and went back to Providence.  That winter I went to Idaho and homesteaded 160 acres adjoining my father’s place.  It was between Cub River and Worm Creek.  I got out logs and built a one-room house.  I got a team and farming implements, moved into the log house and started farming in the spring of 1889.  We had a hard going for awhile.  The Cub River-Preston Canal circled our place.  I got a job ditch riding the canal which was great help.

“There was a large cliff of grey sandstone on my father’s place.  I started a rock quarry and got out stone in dimension sizes.  It was used for trimming on the better buildings going up throughout the neighboring towns.  It was much in demand.  The Academy at Preston was started about that time, with my brother, John, as supervisor of construction.  I got a contract to supply stone for this building which called for 2,000 cubic feet at 25¢ per foot at the quarry.  The stone was used for corners, sills and watertable.  The next year I furnished stone for nearly every town in Cache Valley.  That was before the cement age.

“In 1891-92, the Agricultural College at Logan was expanding.  I made contract with Mr. Venables of Ogden to deliver about 3,000 cubic feet of cut stone.  He had tried to get some stone somewhere south of the valley but found it unsuitable.  As I had furnished stone for several buildings in Logan he came to me.  I lived near the quarry at that time.  he inspected and approved the stone.  The quarry was about 10 miles up Cub River Canyon from Franklin, on the left side slope going up the river, on a small tributary of Cub River called Sheep Creek.

“All work was done by hand.  The main ledge was about 20 feet above the ground about 20 feet wide and 400 to 500 feet long.  We used 12 foot church drills and blasted large rocks loose from the main ledge.  We had to be careful how much powder we used so as not to shatter or cause seams in the stone.  We usually had to put  second charge in the opening made by the first charge to dislodge the block from the main ledge.  The block so dislodged was from 6 to 7 feet thick and about 20 feet long.  From then on all tools used were hammers, axes, wedges, and squares.  Grooves were cut with axes wherever we desired to split the block, then wedges were set in the grooves about ten inches apart and driven in with hammers.  Then we dressed them down to the right measurements, allowing one half inch for the stonecutters to take out the tool marks we made.  Venables furnished bills for stone in dimension sizes as needed in the building.

“My brother, Charles August Nuffer, worked on the job the whole time it lasted.  I also had a man by the name of Ed Hollingsworth of Preston, also Mr. A Merrill and Mr. Abel Smart of Cub River, and Mr. Robert Weber of Providence.

“It took part of two years for the job.  The hauling was all done with wagons and horses; 30 to 35 cubic feet was a good load for two horses.  These men did the hauling, John McDonald of Smithfield, Jean Weber of Providence, and Jake Rinderknecht of Providence who hauled more than any other.  He used to leave home at 3 a.m., load up the same day and get back to Logan by 3 p.m. the next day.  It was very hard on the horses.  I also hauled a good many loads with my own team.  All loading was done by hand on skids.  It seems the miles were not so long when we traveled with horses as it does now when we travel in cars.

“I got 40¢ per cubic foot, of which 20¢ was paid for hauling.  We had a hard time handling the name stone to go on the front of the building.  When it was ordered it had 30 cubic feet in it and only one foot thick.  When the stonecutters got through with it they found it too big to be hoisted in place so they made it smaller until there wasn’t much left.

“The most difficulty I had was in not getting my pay from the Superintendent.  We overlooked a large 4-horse load at the final settlement.  A few minutes after I had signed a receipt for the final payment in full I discovered my mistake.  He refused to pay for it, although I produced the bill of lading signed by him.  He didn’t dispute the debt, but said he had a receipt paid in full.  He didn’t have anything and the government property couldn’t be attached, so I was the loser of about $15, which seemed a lot of money to me at that time.  (Mr. Nuffer wrote this part in 1938 – excerpted here – at the request of college officials; it was part of a historical cornerstone insertion to be opened at the centennial in 1988.)

“About 1895 the Mink Creek – Preston canal was being dug.  I got the job to do all the rock work for a stretch of about 10 miles.  Later on, the Utah Power and Light Company built a large canal on the opposite side of the river from the Preston canal.  I had several large jobs on that work.  I was watermaster for one term on both the Preston canals.  From 1896 to 1898 I was occupied mostly with farming, horse raising, and cow milking.  In 1898, I traded my homestead for a farm nearer Preston on the brow of the hill near Battle Creek.  I bought a house and lot in Preston and moved the family there.  I had a few hundred head of sheep and leased 2,000 more from Joe Jensen of Brigham City.  I had them two years when wool and lambs went so low I had to give them up at a loss.  One of my mistakes.

“About this time the cement industry came into being.  I went into the cement business and built the first cement sidewalks in Preston.  I also built culverts, bridges and all kinds of cement work for the city and county.  When cold weather came all cement work was stopped.  Being an old timer, and always on good terms with the village Board, they gave me the job of special police in the winter.  As I had a big family to support it was a great help.  The city of Preston at that time had about 3,000 population and at times an unruly element visited the city and its three saloons.  It kept the policeman very busy, especially at night.  I was on duty mostly at night.

“In 1905, I built the first two-story hollow cement block house in that part of the country which I used for myself.  We lived in the cement house for 4 years.  About that time I heard from my friend who was living in Mexico, near Tampico.  He was raising sugar cane and told me how we could all get rich quick raising it at $400 an acre.  I and a friend went down to look it over.  Mr. Tomlinson, the real estate man at the colony, offered me 87 acres of choice jungle land very cheap if I would move my family down.  There was a large American colony at San Diegeto.  I sold our home in Preston for $5,000 and moved the family down there.  Another mistake.

“I intended to stay 5 years and get the place all planted in cane and then lease it out and come back a rich man.  I bought a lot and built a house in San Diegeto.  The town was 10 miles from the plantation, which was on lower ground along the river.  A bunch of us Americans went down tot he plantation every Sunday evening by train to look after our Mexican workers.  We would come back Saturday evening.  I had from 5 to 15 Mexicans working the clear the ground and do some plowing.  We had to plant tomatoes or corn first to get the ground in good condition for cane.  The second year I had 5 acres in cane and 30 acres ready to plant the next year.  I would have made it in 5 years if it hadn’t been for the Mexican revolution.  We came to San Diegeto in April, 1909.  That same year Mexico had a presidential election.  Diaz was elected again which started the revolution to run him out, and trouble began all over the country.  By 1911 it got so bad we had to leave as it was not safe there any more.

“I gave an old American, name of Tigner, a contract for 5 years.  He was to have the place all planted in cane and return all the implements and animals in good condition.  He thought he could stay on.  He made very good progress for two years when Villa moved in with his band, arrested all the Americans and gave them their choice to stay in jail or leave the country.  Tigner went to Tampico and left on a refuge ship.  I got a letter from him from New Orleans asking me to release him from the contract.  We were in our home town, Preston, when I got the letter.  I couldn’t do anything but release him, so I lost all my investments and was a broke man with a large family.  By that time I was in the cement business again and made a living at it.

“About 1924, a few hundred of us Americans from San Diegeto put in a damage claim in Washington against the Mexican government.  My claim was for $30,000.  The Mexican government agreed to pay $10 million at the rate of $500,000 per year over a period of 10 years.  I was allowed $1,500 and that was cut 50 percent because there wasn’t enough to go around.  Our lawyer in Washington gets 20 percent and our secretary, Mr. Tomlinson, gets 5 percent, so there isn’t much left.  (*The script may have meant 20 years.)

“In 1920, we left Preston and went to Weiser, Idaho, on a farm.  We stayed there 4 years when I got interested in an irrigation project in Butte Valley, Siskiyou County, California.  We did quite well there for a few years until we got in several lawsuits over the water and lost some at every suit.  So we always ran out of water about June 1st each year.

“There was a large cattle ranch in the south end of the valley called the Bois ranch.  This had exclusive right to all the water in the creek called Butte Creek.  The irrigation district bought the ranch for $50,000 in order to get the full rights to all the water.  The district started to take some of the water further down the valley.  The cattlemen and settlers above the valley said if the district can take the water away from the ranch they could do the same.  So they started to put dams in the creek.  As I was the only one that could use dynamite they always sent me to blow out the dams, which I did.

“A rich cattleman defied the district and put in a dam that a few sticks of dynamite could not blow out, as it was built with logs and large rocks and was about 25 feet across.  Our president asked me how many sticks it would take to blow it out and I told him about 100.  He said he would get it, as the dame must come out.  I told him I would not take the responsibility as the man had too much money and could cause me trouble.  He said he would send an officer with me to take the responsibility.  To this I consented.  They sent the local constable with me.  I tired 100 sticks of dynamite in a bundle, put it under the dame on the upper side near the bottom.  It did a good job.  There was no more dam nor a place to build another one near.

“The owner of the ranch wanted $1,000 damage.  About that time we had another lawsuit over the water with the other fellows and this man wanted to bring his case in at the same time.  We all attended court at the county seat at Yreka.  Everybody knew who had blown up the dam.  Between the trials the lawyer asked the constable if he blew up the dam.  He said no, Mr. Nuffer did that.  The lawyer turned to me and said, “Did you blow up the dam?”  I said I did.  He asked who ordered it done and I said our district president, Mr. Snider.  The lawyer turned to Mr. Snider and asked, “Did you order Mr. Nuffer to blow out the dam?”  Snider said he did.

“That was the last we heard of the case.  But the cattleman put in another dam.  In the end, we had so many lawsuits and lost so much water every time that we could not farm successfully.  I went to milking cows and raising chickens, turnkeys and pigs, and did fairly well.

“In 1936, my son, Leon, living in Los Angeles, bought two and half acres in Van Nuys with a house and some chicken equipment.  He came to Mt. Hebron where I was located and asked me to sell out and take charge of his place.  I hesitated but my wife wanted to get away from Mt. Hebron.  I sold at a loss and moved to Van Nuys.  The place had been neglected but I worked hard and made it one of the best places in the valley.  It is now December 30, 1943, and my dear wife has passed away.  We had one daughter and many sons.

Emma Nuffer Nelson

“A short time before our first child was born we went to the Logan Temple where the ceremony was performed, our previous marriage being on a civil rite.  This was on January 3, 1890.  On May 4 our first child, Emma was born.  She married George Nelson and died in January 28, 1919, when the flue was raging.  She left two girls, Lucille, 3, and Virginia, 18 months.  We raised them until they were 4 and 5 when their father married again (Anna Rinderknecht, Emma’s cousin).  Our boys were Fred Jr., Leon, Bryant, Raymond, Lloyd, Glenn, Harold and George (who died in 1914 at the age of two).



Irwin Jonas Honored

Irwin Jonas Newspaper Article

This newspaper article regarding the funeral of Irwin Jonas was just shared with me.  I have wrote of Irwin’s life previously.  Family history is an ongoing endeavor with little nuggets appearing from time to time!

I don’t know which newspaper this article was published.  I do know that Irwin died 11 July 1944 in Saint-Lo, Normandy, France.  He was actually buried 6 February 1948 in Richmond, Cache, Utah, almost four years later.  But this article sounds like a memorial service held within weeks or months afterward, and not with Irwin’s body actually present.  It is my understanding he was buried for a time in France, then brought home years later.  I cannot imagine having to deal with this as his parent, widow, or family member.

“Memorial services will be held Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. in the Richmond South ward chapel for Sgt. Irwin Jonas who was killed in France on July 11.  Bishop E. M. Hicken will preside and Commander Neal Hillyard of the American Legion Post 33 will conduct the services.

“The program has been arranged as follows: Advance of colors; selection, The Lord’s Prayer, by the ladies’ chorus; invocation, Hyrum Hansen; solo, My Task, C. I. Stoddard; poem composed by Leona Carson and dedicated to the son of Sgt. Jonas will be read by Bishop E. M. Hicken; talk, Scoutmaster A. J. Mendenhall, Jr.; duet, Resignation, Florence and Rebecca Lewis; talk, O. L. Ballam; violin solo, J. W. Pulsipher; talk, William Jonas of Salt Lake City; and Lt. Commander G. Ellis Doty; selection, the Flag Without a Stain, Ladiers’ chorus; retiring of colors, taps, and benediction, J. W. Stoddard.

Isn’t it amazing where our society is now found?  Due to the sacrifice of people like Irwin, we have the right to fight over what we can see and how we can treat each other?  Without that freedom protected Irwin, we might all be dead, speaking another language, or without the rights of speech or equal protection.  Rather than defend those rights and use them, we would rather trample the symbol of them.  But that too is protected speech.  But let us be careful that we actually use the right so much that we divide and undermine and actually lose it in doing so.

Olaves & Hanna Jorgensen

The writing of this post comes after receiving two photos in the mail this week of my fourth great grandparents.  I supposed there were photos out there somewhere and finally found some of them.

Here is the photo I had been given of Hanna Mathea Christensen Jorgensen by one of the descendants of her daughter, Amanda.  These old photos that are a watercolor/drawing of a photo means there is a photo out there somewhere.  It was just a matter of finding it.  This photo obviously had some issues with it, like water damage and the print just bothered me for a number of reasons.

Hanna Mathea Christensen Jorgensen

Hanna Mathea Christensen Jorgensen

Well, I found a descendant of another daughter, Othelia, in the past month.  She provided me this photo of Hanna, the actual photo the print above came from.  It too looks like a print, it is of higher quality, and the eyes are.  Further, they removed some of her facial features, which I suppose they could be viewed as a defect, but they offer much more personality and flavor than the doctored picture.

Hanna Mathea Christensen Jorgensen

Hanna Mathea Christensen Jorgensen

Along with the photo of Hanna come the colored print of Olavus.  I have also seen his name spelled Olaves, Olavis, and variations of that.  No clue on actual pronunciation, but I have my guess.  But his tombstone has Olover Jorgensen.  But that we have this coloring means there hopefully is still an actual photo floating out in the world somewhere.  The ears seem a bit much, maybe they were actually like that, or maybe it is the imperfections of the artist.

Olavus Jorgensen

Olavus Jorgensen

Before I get much into the facts, I think it is important to share the story of Olaves and Hanna as told by their daughter.  Amanda Emilie Jorgensen wrote this short biography about 1933.  She married Albert Sigvard Swensen.  Her grandson, Robert Mathis, shared the handwritten story with me.

“History of my Parents

“My father Olaves Jorgensen was born in Drammen Norway 19 November 1830.

“When he was twelve years old he started working in a saw mill for Mr Kjer.

“My mother Hannah Mathea Christensen was born in Drammen Norway fourteen November 1831. She was a dressmaker when she was old enough to work. They were married fourth november 1855 in Drammen Norway. Two girls were born there. Constanse and Olga. Then Mr. Kjer transferred Father to Fredrikstad Norway to another saw mill and he worked there until he came to America in 1896.

“Mother was very religious and always went to a church but never felt satisfied. She lived in an apartment house and was talking to a lady named Mrs. Ask that lived across the hall. Religion was mentioned and mother said she wanted to find a religion that baptised people like Jesus was baptised.

“Mrs. Ask asked her if she had ever heard about the Mormon people and mother said no. Mrs. Ask said to be ready Sunday afternoon and she would take her to hear the Mormon Elders.

“As soon as mother heard the Elders preach she knew it was the true church. The Priest and other people tried to tell her it was wrong but she wouldn’t listen. The Elders had to take her to the ocean to be baptised after dark as they would be arrested and put in jail if they were seen baptising people.

“Mother was a very faithful member and the missionaries were always welcome in their home. She was President of the Relief Society for years.

Father wanted to join but didn’t dare to because he knew he would lose his job. Father was baptised just before he and mother came to Utah.

“They went directly to Richmond Utah in Cache Valley to be near their daughter Othelia. They were here four years and had never had the opportunity to go to the temple when mother died in November, 1900. Father and Othelia and Constanse came to Logan and did the work for mother and she was sealed to Father. Father died in November 1904 and they were both buried in Richmond Utah.

“Mother told me that the pastor of the Luteran Church said her parents Christen Hansen and Marie Evensen were the most beautiful couple he had ever married while he was a pastor.


Olavus Jørgensen was born 18 November 1830 according to his christening record, christened 26 December 1830 in Bragernes, Drammen, Buskerud, Norway.  His parents are listed as Jorgen Olsen and Oline Knudsdatter.

Olavus and Hanna Mathaea Christensdatter were married 4 November 1855 in Stromso, Buskerud, Norway.

On the 1875 Norwegian Census, Olaves is listed as a Skiber ved Kjos Brug at Nygaard Gulbergsiden Glemmen, Ostfold, Norway.  Not sure what that means and I could not find a good translation.  He did something with ships.

On the 1875 census and in the family history records are the following children:

Konstanse Elise Olavesen who is 18 and born in Drammen.  Her husband, Ole Kristiansen is also listed along with their oldest daughter Valborg Olsen.  Ole and Valborg listed as born in Glemminge.  It is interesting that my Constance/Konstanse’s last name is Olavesen which should give more clarification on her father’s actual name.  Valborg/Walborg Olsen, her father certainly was Ole, but it is interesting they appear to have stopped using the datter by this point.  I have written on Constance previously and you can read about her here.

Constance Jorgensen Christiansen

Constance Josephine Eliza Jorgensen Christiansen

Olga Olavesen, 15, born in Drammen.

Marie Olavesen, 11, born in Fredrickstad.

Otilie Mathilde Olavesen, 8, born in Glemminge.

Amanda Olavesen, 3, born in Glemminge.

Amanda Jorgensen Swensen

Amanda Emilie Jorgensen Swensen

With the gaps in the children, we know of at least one more child, Olav Emil, who was born 28 October 1870 in Fredrickstad and died 16 February 1871.  There may be more, but we don’t have records of them yet.

Constance married Ole Christiansen.  I have linked her history page above.

Olga married Oskar Darius Danielsen and remained in Norway.  They had 10 children together.  They were LDS but I think they struggled with activity due to the constant flow of LDS people out of Norway to Zion.

Mari Caspara married Lorenz Christian Mathisen.  I believe they also remained in Norway but I have not been able to confirm anything on this family.

Othelia Matilda married Niels Lillienqvist Eskelsen.  I believe Othelia emigrated with her parents.  She met and married Niels in Utah and married him in 1896 in the Logan LDS Temple.  She did not emigrate with her parents in 1896.

Amanda Emilie married Albert Sigvard Swensen in 1894.  I referenced her and provided a photo in a previous post.

Olaves and Hanna immigrated alone to the United States.  They departed from Glasgow, Scotland on the Circassia and arrived 17 December 1896 in New York.

Hanna and Olaves are located on the 1900 Census on 10 June 1900 in Richmond, Cache, Utah.

I really don’t know anything more than what Amanda wrote above.

Hanna died 2 November 1900 in Richmond at age 69.  Her death certificate indicates her name as Hanna Mattie Jornsen and she died from Asthma.  The certificate says her husband is Oloyes Jornsen, probably some sign of a person taking the record from a thick accent.

Olaves died 16 November 1904 in Richmond at age 74.  His death certificate indicates his name as Oloyes Jornsen and he died of LaGrippe.  I had to look up LeGrippe, which is apparently another name for influenza.  His son-in-law, Neils Eskelson provided the information and indicated Olaves was a widower.

Both are buried in Richmond, Cache, Utah.





Plain City Cemetery Incident

I wanted to share this interesting little incident that happened on Friday.

Amanda and the rest of the kids went to Utah for the weekend.  Aliza stayed because she had school and rode down with me on Friday.

As we neared Plain City I asked if she remembered Great Grandpa Milo.  She said that she did.  She then asked if we could drive past his house.  (She often asks to drive past places.)

We drove past and I asked if she wanted to stop at the Plain City Cemetery.  She said yes.

We stopped and walked over to Grandpa and Grandma Ross’ grave stone.

Aliza with Milo & Gladys Ross tombstone

Aliza with Milo & Gladys Ross tombstone

I asked if she wanted to see Grandpa Milo’s mother’s grave.  She agreed and we walked over to the grave of Ethel Sharp Ross.

I also took her to the grave of Paul Ross, 1922-1932, and I explained my relationship to him.

We then walked to the grave of Ethel Sharp Ross’ parents, Milo Riley and Mary Ann “Lillie” Stoker Sharp.

Aliza with Milo and Mary Ann "Lillie" Sharp, also Mary Ann Stoker.

Aliza with Milo and Mary Ann “Lillie” Sharp, also Mary Ann Sharp’s tombstone.

Aliza recognized the Lillie, although Lillian was only loosely named after this Lillie.  We use the Lillie spelling for her nickname based on this Lillie though.  I explained the Milo name, the relationships, and how Mary Ann on this stone is Mary Ann Bailey Sharp, Milo Riley’s mother.

We then walked over to Lillie’s father, William Edward Stoker.  In this picture below, you can see Mary Ann or Lillie Sharp’s proximity to her father’s grave.  Her mother died in England before the family could immigrate to Utah.

Aliza with William Edward Stoker

Aliza with William Edward Stoker’s grave stone

Needless to say, being related to some of the older graves in the cemetery, we are related to a number of the other families in the graveyard.  We walked around for quite a while talking about names and how they are related.

I started walking back toward the car and Aliza wanted to go back over by William Stoker.  I told her we did not have any more family graves over in that part of the cemetery.  She insisted, “we didn’t stop at the other family tombstone for a picture.”  Knowing there was no other family over there, I followed her so she could see for herself.

She then stopped at another grave.  She wanted to take a picture of it.  I told her we were not related to them and she said, “Yes we are, I want a picture.”  Rather than have a battle in the cemetery over it, I took her picture.

Aliza with William and Martha Wayment tomb stone

Aliza with William and Martha Wayment tombstone

If you look closely, you can see William Stoker’s grave behind William Wayment’s grave marker, and the Sharp tombstone right above Aliza.  I took the picture and it dawned on me, Amanda’s Great Grandfather’s middle name was Wayment and his mother had been a Wayment.  I was not sure if these Wayments were related to Amanda’s Wayments or not.

Sure enough, Aliza was right.  While not related to me, these were her relatives!  These are her 5th Great Grandparents through Amanda’s line.

I was a bit struck by the determination she had that we had another family grave I had not taken her.  Dumbfounded that they were in fact her family, and not mine!  It inspired and spooked at the same time.

Amanda’s Great Grandfather is Walter Wayment Hansen, 1904 -1995.  His mother is Martha Ann Wayment Hansen, 1877-1908.  Her father is Joseph Wayment, 1844 – 1931.  His parents are William Wayment, 1822 – 1883, and Martha Brown, 1823 – 1905, the individuals whose graves Aliza wanted a picture.  My father-in-law, Bryan Hemsley, did not remember they were buried in Plain City.

Martha Brown and William Wayment's tombestone

Martha Brown and William Wayment’s tombestone

A quick internet search located this brief history of William and Martha Wayment.  In reading, the Stokers and Wayments came to America both on the same ship, the Amazon!  Multiple linkages in history between the two families.  I corrected a couple of spellings in the biography.

Martha Brown was born May 26, 1823 in Bassingbourne, Cambridgeshire, England to William Brown and Mary Wade. Cambridge is a flat coastal plain located in the southeast part of England. The climate is moderate with much rainfall which produces much vegetation. Martha met and married William Wayment on Christmas Day December 25, 1841 in the Bassingbourne Parrish in Whaddon, Cambridgeshire, England. They both signed the certificate which seemed an unusual procedure to the clerk. William signed his name Whayment. He gave his age as 20 and was listed as a laborer. Martha gave her age as 19 and was listed as a s spinster. William and Mary made their home with h is widowed mother, Mary Rook Wayment. Several members of her family have told of this incident – “as a bride living in her mother-in-laws home”, Martha found that circumstances and conditions were not always pleasant. One stressful day Martha threatened to leave the home and her husband. She went into a small room (or a clothes closet) to get some of her things, her mother-in-law quickly closed and locked the door. There Martha was kept until she promised not to leave. Satisfactory adjustments were made and she kept her promise. Martha’s grandfather, William Brown of Whaddon has been described as a wealthy farmer. His son, Samuel, Martha’s father was disinherited after he married a servant girl, Mary Wade, who worked for his parents. He was a butcher by trade. He extended his business and it is said he became a well to do merchant. Martha had seven brothers and 1 sister all born in Bassingbourne. It is said the Browns were a family of large men, all of them being over 6 ft tall, and long lived. Martha was the only one to live to be over 80, however. Though a hard worker William, Martha father, never accumulated much wealth. Their modest home and limited circumstances was a source of embarrassment at times for Martha in England. William earning being sometimes about 8 shillings a week (about $2 in US dollars). But through careful management they were able to take care of their children as they came into the family. William and Martha had 6 boys and 2 girls, all born in Whaddon. Aaron, Joseph, Samuel, William Emily John Brown William Thomas, Martha. Seems as though it was necessary for them to come to America to develop their potential. The children hired out at an early age, working for farmers of the area. work included keeping birds out of the cherry trees and pulling poppies out of the grain fields. Often the children would leave home at 5:00 in the morning and work for 3 or 4 hours then they would be called in for breakfast. Some meals were very meager. The first missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints arrived in Liverpool, England July 20, 1837. Having sailed on the ship “Garrick” under the leadership of Heber C Kimball. Later working their way to the Whaddon, Bassingbourne area. after William and Martha heard their messages they opened their home to the missionaries. Many people of the community stirred up others to try to stop the spread of the gospel. This made it necessary to hold meetings and baptisms services at night to avoid the mobs that were a continually threat to them. The Brown family were especially bitter against the church. This caused William and Martha to delay joining the church although they were convince of the truth. Finally in 1850 William and Martha decided to disregard the threats of the Brown family. William was baptized May 1850 a few months later Williams mother, Mary Rook Wayment was baptized in 1851. The three of them continued to support the missionaries. Martha was baptized 1 May 1857 in spite of her families wishes. When her father learned of her actions he disinherited her except for the benefit o f a few schillings. All the children were each baptized into the church eventually. Joseph the oldest living son worked with his father fossil digging and earned enough money for his transportation to America. Joseph aged 19, 1863 booked passage on the “Amazon”. After Joseph left the family continued working together to meet their needs and maybe to emigrate? It took many years to reach their goal. by the spring of 1878 they were making final preparations to emigrate to Zion. They booked passage on the ship “Nevada” and sailed from Liverpool May 25, 1878. Travel was long and much seasickness. After arriving on the shores they rode west on Pullman cars to Philadelphia then changed here to “immigrant cars” which were very uncomfortable. The east was beautiful but the farther west they came the habitation vanished and scenes about them were dry and barren. They arrived in Ogden, Utah Territory June 1878 the family was met by son, Joseph and Samuel and taken to Samuel’s home in Plain City, After living here a few months they settled in the Salt Creek area close to Joseph on land he had purchased in 1872. Their home was a log house. William applied for homestead rights to a quarter section of land. They planted cotton wood trees, yellow roses, tea vines and other fast growing plants. They all continued being active in the church and received their endowments in the Salt Lake Temple. Martha was not idle as she received her citizenship papers November 16, 1885. In 1886 Martha received the property deed William had applied for Signed by President Grover C Cleveland, President of the United States of America Oct 18,1886 Martha cared for most of her needs but over the years became very overweight. The story is told: April 12, 1905 at age 82, she saw the traveling grocer coming & hastened to arrive home before him. Arriving about the same time, she told him she would have to gather her eggs for his pay. The grocer said he would go to other places and come back later. When he returned he could not find her, over exertion had brought on a stroke and she died. Her survivors were, Joseph, Samuel, John, William Thomas, Emily and Martha, 46 grandchildren and 29 great grandchildren. Her service held in the Warren church was overflowing with family & friends. She is buried in the Plain City Cemetery next to her loving husband April 14, 1905



Edith Maude Gudmundson Andra

Edith Gudmunson

Edith Maude Gudmundson Andra, 91, passed away on Monday, 18 July 2016 at her home in Stockton, Missouri, from natural causes related to age.  She was born the first of two children on 21 September 1924 in Logan, Utah, to Melvin Peter and Maude Victoria Wollaston Gudmundson.  She married William Fredrick Andra Jr 13 June 1947 in the Logan Utah LDS Temple.  Together they had six children.  William passed away in 1992.  Edith married Leland Fred Williams 10 March 1999 in Arnica, Missouri.  He predeceased her in 2011.

Edith grew up in Logan at 253 East 3rd South.  She had one sister, Shirley, born in 1928, with who she grew up.

Shirley, Melvin, and Edith

Shirley, Melvin, and Edith


Shirley and Edith Gudmundson

Shirley and Edith Gudmundson

Her mother passed away in 1931 and the family had to work through those difficult years with just the three of them.  She attended Wilson School and Logan Junior and Senior Schools where she graduated. She played the violin.

Edith Maude Gudmunson 005

Logan HS Yearbook

Logan HS Yearbook


Logan HS Yearbook

Logan HS Yearbook


Edith Maude Gudmunson 012 Edith Maude Gudmunson 014 Edith Maude Gudmunson 008 Edith Maude Gudmunson 010

She enlisted in the Navy in Salt Lake City, Utah, 21 September 1944 and served until discharge in San Francisco, California, 1 May 1946.  She trained and served as a switchboard operator for the majority of the time of her service.

Edith Maude Gudmunson 015 Edith Maude Gudmunson 016

After her military service, she attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

Edith in the BYU yearbook

Edith in the BYU yearbook

Edith 002

During this time she met William Andra, who discharged from the Marines 20 June 1946.  I am not aware that he attended Brigham Young University, but I know he was living in Orem and it was likely there that William and Edith met culminating in their marriage in 1947.

Edith and William Andra Marriage Portrait

Edith and William Andra Marriage Portrait

Greg William was born in Preston, Idaho in 1948.  Chad Fredrick was born in Preston in 1949.


Bill and Edith andra with Greg and Chad

By 1950, the family was living in Boise for a short time.

Edith in 1951

Edith in 1951

The family then moved back to Logan where Kent Melvin was born in 1954.

Bill and Edith with Marc, chad, and Kent

Edith Maude Gudmunson

The family was living in Midvale by 1955 where Marc David was born.  Then to Salt Lake City in 1956.  Troy Norman was born in Providence in 1960.

Bill and Edith andra with Greg and Chad and Kent, marc

Bill & Edith in Richmond for an Andra Reunion

Bill & Edith in Richmond for an Andra Reunion

A few years later the family moved to Smithfield.  Todd Nathan was born in Smithfield in 1968.

Greg,Kent and Marc, Chad, Edith, Bill

Greg and Chad and Kent 001

It is in Smithfield that my mother came to know the family, since she was living in Richmond.  Kent and my Mom were close in age and played together.

Larry and Mom both told me stories about William and Edith being very particular about being healthy eaters.  Larry remembers Edith washing every leaf of a head of lettuce before it could be eaten.  William tried to convince Larry of the unhealthy nature of bacon and milk.  Nobody else seemed to care, but it would really get William and Edith upset when people would not come to their way of thinking.  William was also particular about when you ate, not mixing the various parts of your food with other parts.  Larry found much of this amusing.

The Andra family was a fairly tight knit family and held reunions together yearly.  Relationships started to strain in 1965 when William and Edith learned and accepted polygamy leading to their excommunication from the LDS church.  The Andra family relationships started to strain further after attempts to convert William’s parents and some of the siblings to polygamy.  Even while William’s parents were in a nursing home late in life, there were attempts to convert them to polygamy which led to final severing ties.

Bill and Edith with 5 boys

William Andra Jr FamilyBill Edith Children 1981

I don’t know when, but the family after converting to polygamy moved to Santa Clara.  Nobody in the immediate family knows when due to the severance.  After many years in Santa Clara, they then moved to Cedar County, Missouri.

Bill Edith 1981

Bill and Edith Family 1981

Bill and Edith in SLC (2)Todd, Troy, Marc, Kent, Chad, Greg 004

Todd, Edith, and Kent Andra

My first visit to Edith was in 2001.  I was moving to Branson, Missouri for work and before I left Uncle Ross Andra told me Edith lived in Missouri somewhere.  I do not have any memories with William and Edith and did not even know she was still alive.  Ross told me I should stop and visit.  I knew nothing of the divide that had come into the family.

When I stayed the night before entering Missouri in Florence, Kansas, I looked to see what I could find in the phone book.  With a last name like Andra, it wasn’t hard to find who I thought was the right name in Stockton, Missouri.  I called the number and it was Mary Andra, wife of Kent Andra who answered.  She told me I was welcome to stop by and since their shop was a bit off the beaten path, gave me directions.

I arrived later that day and found a long lost number of cousins I never knew existed.  I saw the shop, I met a number of Kent’s children, and then I was taken down to the home to meet more of the family.  When I was introduced to his wife, Tammy, I thought I had already met his wife, Mary, but I assumed I must have misunderstood.  I met more and more children.

Kent sent one of his daughters with me to help me find Edith’s home.  I sat with Edith meeting her for the first time in my memory and chatted for quite a while.  She showed me some family history, told me some sweet stories of my Grandmother Colleen, and various conversations.  Edith did not know Colleen had passed away.  She told me of her new marriage to Leland Williams.  We parted on great terms and went back to Kent’s home, enjoyed some carrot juice, and visited.

In a funny situation, I was enjoying my carrot juice trying to keep the children’s names straight when Mary came into the house.  I sat there talking with Kent, Tammy, and Mary having a good laugh.  I kept wondering how I misunderstood and was unclear on who was Kent’s wife, so I asked.  They stated that both were.  I sat there not comprehending.  I must have looked confused because they just looked at me.  It then dawned on me and I made some comment like, “Well, we are family right?”  I laughed, they laughed, and I think any tension or misunderstanding that may have been there melted away.  That was not something I was expecting that day!

We said our goodbyes knowing that we were still family.  I quite enjoyed my visit.

It was later that week I got a phone call from Edith asking me to not share names, circumstances, or anything else regarding the family because it had caused so much trouble with the rest of the family.  I told her that we were family and it did not bother me and I really did not think it bothered anyone else.

I visited again in 2002.  When Kent passed away in 2003, I thought they were very kind to let me know.

Amanda and I stopped in 2006 on our move from Utah to Virginia.  As we drove to the boonies where they lived, she joked with me that I was going to drop her off out in the middle of nowhere.  We again had a very pleasant visit with Mary, Tammy, and Edith.  Amanda was prepped with the information and quickly found out nobody had multiple heads or horns.  I think it was the boonies that gave her more concern than the polygamy.

I visited again in 2008 driving from Virginia through to Washington for work.  That time Edith had moved to a home nearer to her son Marc.  I stopped to visit Marc and Cheryl and met them for the first time.  Edith also came over to the house and we visited with her.  Here is a photo from that visit.

Paul Ross, Cheryl & Marc Andra, and Edith.

Paul Ross, Cheryl & Marc Andra, and Edith.

I tried to call Edith every other year or so.  Sometimes it was hard to track her down, but I typically found her and was able to call.  The last time I visited with her was when Donald was sick and dying with cancer in the spring of 2016.  I asked Donald if I could let some of the extended family know.  He said yes.  With that, I called Edith and visited with her about Sergene’s passing and Donald’s cancer.  She talked about how the family was distant and she appreciated the updates.  She also indicated that life continues to pass and we all end up dealing with death at some point.  She reminded me of her age and she did not know where she would be next week either.

Now she is gone.

While I know there was quite a bit of angst in the family over the beliefs and separation, but despite all that I am glad I did not know of the polygamy issues and got to know the family as just that, family.  Their position, beliefs, and practices at no point directly affected me in any way.  I am glad I know them!

Aunt Edith, until we meet again.




In Memory of Lowell Hansen, Bryce Sanderson, and Garrett Smith

With the suicide of a dear young man, Bryce Allen Sanderson, I thought I would share these thoughts and this talk once again.  In memory of Garrett Lee Smith and Lowell Eugene Hansen.  Both of them forced the concept of suicide into my life and required I come to some understanding of the idea.  I wanted to give some memories of these two individuals and the doctrinal concepts surrounding suicide.  What is suicide?  How does God look at suicide?  How am I supposed to deal with suicide?  How does God deal with those who commit suicide?  I hope this talk will help address some of these questions as we all ponder once again this unthinkable act, that brings upon a person their own death.

Lowell Hansen was an acquaintance I knew in Paul, Idaho.  I was young enough that I knew who he was, but did not really know anything about him.  After I was charged by a bull at our house, I remembered that within days he appeared at our home and removed the charge from the bull.  I watched him shoot, hang, gut, clean, and cut the bull.  It was fascinating.  I remember recognizing the butcher truck each time when I would see it on the road or at some other location.  I knew he built a log home because I always saw the truck parked near it.  Years later after I became involved in the same congregation and came to know him a little more as Brother Hansen.  It was not until I returned from my mission that I realized he even had a family.  I moved back to home in the fall of 2002 and I was assigned as a Home Teacher to one of Lowell’s daughters.  It was only then I really started to get to know the Hansen family more on a personal level.  It was shortly after that Lowell decided to end his life much like he did that bull.  I attempted to help minister, however weakly, somewhat to the needs of his daughter and her then boyfriend.  The talk I reproduce in full below was given at his funeral and has provided much of the basis for my feelings and ideas on suicide.  I have gained my own testimony of the talk and testify openly of its principles and truth.

Garrett Smith was on a bit more personal level for me.  I first learned of him in Manchester, England when he was assigned my companion as a new missionary.  I was called as a trainer to him, although I only knew of him as Elder Smith.  We served together, 24 hours a day, for 6 weeks.  We had many a conversation and became close friends.  I had some frustrations with him due to some of his learning disabilities and my lack of patience.  He knew of this and I do not think it always helped in our relationship.  When the 6 weeks were up, we had both profoundly influenced the other.  He convinced me that I should consider leaving civil engineering and looking more into political science and law.  I think I had convinced him that his disabilities were not a very good excuse for settling for mediocrity.  I left England to return home in 2000 and he finished in 2002.  We had planned several occasions where we would get together for old time’s sake, but they kept falling through due to poor scheduling and other issues.  We finally set a date to get together on the 13th of September in 2003.  I was going to drive down to Orem, Utah where he was and spend the weekend.  Unfortunately, I received a phone call that week only to find he had hanged himself in a closet after consuming alcohol and sleeping pills.  I had a great desire to attend his funeral so a roommate from Logan drove with me to Pendleton, Oregon for the funeral.  I took a copy of the talk from Lowell’s funeral with me and gave it to Garrett’s parents.  Garrett’s mom, Sharon, later thanked me for the talk.  Our Mission President, Phil Wightman, spoke at the funeral and while I doubt he had read the talk, he referenced very similar themes as Hyrum Smith did at Lowell’s funeral (Hyrum Smith was Lowell’s Mission President too).  Sometimes I find myself wondering what Garrett’s life would be like if he wasn’t reposing at Weston, Oregon.

I lost the talk over the years and had repeated requests come to me for a copy of it.  Those asking were mostly individuals I had shared with at the time of Garrett’s funeral who were moved by it and wanted to give a copy of it when someone else took their life.  I had probably a dozen requests for the talk in 2010, so I ended up contacting Lowell’s widow for a copy.

Here is a copy of the talk by Hyrum Smith given 6 December 2002 at the funeral of Lowell Eugene Hansen in Paul, Idaho.  At the end, I will give some other thoughts I remember Phil Wightman giving at Garrett’s funeral.


My brothers and sisters, I wasn’t really sure until about 3 o’clock this morning why I was asked to be here, but somewhere around three, I knew.  The spirit indicated to me that I am uniquely qualified to speak here today, and I’ll share with you why as I share some thoughts with you.

I’m honored and humbled that Emma Jean asked me to be here.  When she called Monday, I was stunned as I’m sure all of you were.

Public speaking is not something that is foreign to me.  I do it for a living.  I’ve spoken before thousands of audiences, but never an assignment like this.  I’d like to begin by suggesting that we are met here today in the house of God.  That same God who sent Jesus here to help us.  We meet today in the name of Jesus Christ who died to save us.  I would ask that you keep that in mind as I share a few thoughts with you this morning.

I’d like to begin by sharing four scriptures with you that describe, as many scriptures do, how our Father in Heaven, and our Savior feel about us.  I think we need to be especially reminded of that.  I’d like to go first with the 29th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and read verse 5 “Lift up your hearts and be glad for I am in your midst and am your advocate with the Father.  And it is His good will to give you the kingdom.”  I would then take you to the 62nd section of the Doctrine and Covenants and read verse 1, “Behold and hearken, o ye Elders of my church saith the Lord your God.  Even Jesus Christ, your advocate, who knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted.”  Now go with me to John, Chapter 3, verse 16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.  That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world, through Him, might be saved.”  Last I would take you back to the Doctrine and Covenants, in section 18.  “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.  For behold, the Lord, your Redeemer, suffered death in the flesh.  Wherefore He suffered pain of all men that all men might repent and come unto Him.  And He hath risen again from the dead that He might bring all men unto Him on conditions of repentance.  And how great is His joy in the soul that repenteth.”  I share those scriptures with you, brothers and sisters, as a preamble to what I would ask you to consider as we have met here today.

This wonderful man, father, husband, son, brother, missionary, I knew him well as a missionary.  He was one of the great missionaries of our mission – most of the Idaho people were.  He made a big mistake the other night.  Huge mistake.  He knows that he made that mistake now.  It cost him his life.  But only his body died the other night.  His soul, his spirit, his brain, his mind are still very much alive – very active.  It’s like going into another room.

I was led to a talk that Elder Jeffrey Holland gave at a very similar funeral.  Jeff Holland and I served as missionaries in the same mission, British mission, lots of years ago.  He’s a very dear friend.  He was asked to speak at the funeral of a young man who had taken his life.  This is what Elder Holland said, and I am going to interject Lowell’s name into these remarks, because they fit perfectly today.  “We’re here to celebrate Lowell’s life, not his death.  We’re here to praise the Lord and love God for the atonement and the resurrection, but we’re also here to say, particularly to the youth in this congregation and others who struggle, that Lowell made a mistake.  Now he would be the first to say that.  Someone said, ‘A man to be good, and I would add a woman, must imagine intensely and comprehensively – he must put himself in the place of another – the pains and pleasures of the man that has become his own.  Until he can do that, he must never sit in judgment on a man or his motives.’  We need a better vocabulary, Emma Jean.  We know what we mean when we use the language of death.  But the master of heaven and earth, the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of all mankind, the living Resurrection said that, “When you live and believe in Him, you never die.”  So, we’ll let Lowell go for a while.  But he’s not dead, in any eternal sense, and you know that.  You know that now, you’ll know it tomorrow, and you’ll know it next week.  You’ll especially know it when he is spiritually close to you, whispers to you in your dreams, helps through the veil to raise your grandchildren.  You’ll know that Lowell lives.  It is important to me to bear testimony to you that Lowell lives – just as we testify that God lives and Jesus lives.  We testify that Lowell lives and spiritually and is loved of God and of us.  We miss him.  Death was an intruder this week.  We weren’t ready.  We do miss him and we are sorry, but none of that diminishes the brightness of his life.  The grandeur of God’s plans – the reality of life and the resurrection – of eternity and the Celestial kingdom.  Lowell is being buried with all the promises and symbols of his covenants safely around him.  God in his mercy will work out all the arrangements even as Lowell works out his acknowledgement of his mistake.”  Un-quote.

Those are words of an Apostle of God.  I would like to pose five questions to you now.  The first of which no one has an answer for, but I think we need to deal with it, because I don’t think there is a person in this room that hasn’t asked this question in the last five days.  The second, third, and fourth question, I came from southern Utah this morning, to answer.  Because there are answers to those three questions, and I believe I can answer them for you.  The fifth question, only the people in this room can answer.  I don’t know what that answer will be, but I’m going to pose it.

Here’s the first question, which has been on the minds and lips of probably everyone.  “What was he thinking about?”  What possibly could have driven him to make this mistake?  What’s the answer?  I don’t know.  Nobody here knows.  What sort of despair and anguish and pain causes someone to do that?  I don’t know!  He made a mistake, so we really don’t know the answer to that question.  But that’s not the important question.

The second question, the one that I think I am uniquely qualified to answer, and one of the reasons why I think I was asked to be here is, “What is Lowell thinking now?”  Lowell’s very much alive.  He thinks, he breathes; he has probably had an opportunity to walk with his Father in Heaven.  DO you want me to tell you what he is thinking now?  He’s afraid.  He’s sorry.  He’s in anguish.  He’s suffering.  He’s wishing he hadn’t done it.  I know that.  How do I know?  Several years ago, I made some big mistakes.  We all make mistakes.  Hopefully not as big as the ones I made.  Because of those mistakes, it was required that I lose my membership in the church for several years.  And after I went through the process of approaching my Bishop and my Stake President, and going through the church judicial system – which is amazing, I found myself asking the first question a lot.  What was I thinking?  I couldn’t even answer that question for me.  But I know what I thought about after.  I know about the pain.  I know about the anguish.  I know about the suffering.  It’s awful!  So rest assured, and knowing Lowell as I know him – the integrity of this man, he’s in a lot of pain.

Third question, “Will the Lord allow Lowell to repent?”  Every natural instinct in your body knows the answer to that question – Of course!  He allows everyone to repent.  There’s a myth that floats around the church from time to time.  It suggests that people who take their lives have committed an unpardonable sin.  I’m here to tell you today that’s just flat not true.  The Lord will allow Lowell to repair that mistake.  He’ll walk him through it.  He’ll help him do it.  He’s going to allow that.

Fourth question, “Will the Lord forgive him?”  Every natural instinct in your body knows the answer to that question.  The answer is yes.  He will.  He will forgive him.  And Lowell will receive all the blessings that he rightly deserves from a wonderful life.

Those are the three questions I can answer with surety.  The fifth question, I can’t.  The fourth question was, “Will the Lord forgive him?”  The answer is yes.  The fifth question is, “Will you?”  I know from sad experience that lots of people don’t.  But the Lord has asked us to forgive.  He said, “I the Lord will forgive whom I choose to forgive, but of you, you’re required to forgive all men.”  I need to talk about forgiveness for a moment.  Does the mistake that Lowell made the other night blot out all the good that this man did in his life?  No!  Elder Holland reflected on that.  He was a wonderful missionary.  He was a great father.  He was a great man.  He was dedicated to his Father in Heaven.  Like many of us, he made some mistakes, one big one.  It doesn’t blot out everything he was.  We heard of a wonderful tribute from a beautiful daughter today about the kind of dad he was.  None of that gets wiped out.

As I went through the initial stages of my repentance process, one of the major sources of the anguish was the worry that no one would forgive me.  Because I somehow got it in my mind as I grew up in the church, that to ultimately forgive someone, for a transgression, you had to forget it.  Because we were taught in the scriptures, that when repentance was real and complete, the Lord forgets.  How does He do that? He forgets!  Wow!  Can we, mortals, reach a level of spiritual maturity where we can forget what happened the other night?  I don’t think so.  Do you think that anybody in this room will ever forget that Lowell took his life?  Not in this life.  I don’t think so.  Do you think anyone, who knows me well, will forget that I was excommunicated from the church?  Nope – Hyrum Smith…business leader, great, great grandson of the prophet’s brother, Hyrum?  No one will ever forget that!  Do you think my kids will forget that?  No!  BUT, and this is one of those moments where the spirit instructs and saves, in the middle of the night, the spirit taught a great lesson.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting.  Forgiveness means remembering – but it doesn’t matter any more.  I think we can achieve that.  I think we can reach a point, as mortals, where we can remember and have forgiven to the point where, in remember, it just doesn’t matter anymore.  I challenge each to deal with the fifth question, “Will you forgive him?”  I believe you can – you must!  That’s what the Lord wants you to do.  But you’ll never forget.

I want to share a concept with you that has helped me think through a number of things.  During the Vietnam War, I was in the military during that period of time; there was a man by the name of Stockdale.  He was an admiral.  He was the highest-ranking man to spend time at the Hanoi Hilton as a prisoner of war.  And while he was in the prison, for about six years, he discovered that there were three basic types of people incarcerated in that prison.  He discovered the same thinking that Victor Frankl discovered at Auschwitz during the Second World War.  Victor Frankl wrote about it in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning.”  Then Stockdale wrote about it, and it has become known and has been written about in a number of books since – the Stockdale paradox.  The three groups of people that he discovered were these.  There were pessimists, optimists, and realists.  And this is how he defined each group.  The pessimists saw the brutal facts around him and quit.  The optimist had boundless faith and ignored the brutal facts.  The realist saw the brutal facts, but had faith they could be dealt with.

The reason I share this with you is that in this book, when he wrote about this he said the interesting thing about these three groups is that the first two groups of people died in the camps at Vietnam.  Died!  Didn’t make it back!  I understood why the pessimists didn’t make it.  They saw the brutal facts.  They were in the middle of South-East Asia.  They were 8,000 miles from help and the Marines aren’t going to get in here.  We’re going to be here forever, and they died.  And some very healthy bodies died.

The second group stunned me!  The optimists died!  How come the optimists died?  Because the optimists had boundless faith but were not willing to look at the brutal facts.  And they said to each other, “You know we’ll be out of here by Christmas.”  “We’ll be out of here by Valentines.”  Every rustle in the bush was the Marines coming to save them.  And when every rustle in the bush wasn’t the Marines coming to save them and when they weren’t out by Christmas, and when they weren’t out by Valentines, they died.  They gave up and died.

The realists survived.  They saw the brutal facts.  “We’re in the middle of South-East Asia.  We’re not going to be rescued for a long time, but you know what guys, we’ll stick together.  We can handle this.”  And they did.

A good friend, by the name of Jensen, was in our mission – Lowell knew him – served six years in that prison.  There were several LDS fellows there, and the way they kept themselves sane was they would try and remember LDS hymns.  They would tap by Morse code on the bars of the jail, and they would send what they could remember of each hymn.  They gathered lots of hymns.  And one hymn they worked on for four years.  They got the first three verses in about 18 months, but the fourth verse took two and a half years to get.  They finally got the fourth verse.  When they got back, there was only three verses.  They had created their own verse, but they survived.  Now why do I share that here?  I want to ask you the question as what are you going to do about this issue?  Pessimists see the brutal facts – Our dad killed himself.  It’s pretty awful.  Nothing so wrong, it’s awful!  And you can give up – if you want.  The optimist ignores the facts – puts on a smiley face and pretends it didn’t happen.  And the optimists live a lie.  The realist sees the brutal facts – We lost our dad, our husband, our son – pretty awful.  We’ve got to gather together and help each other now to survive financially and economically.  We’ve got to get through school.  We’ve got to do stuff that dad normally would have helped us with.  It isn’t going to be easy.  The optimist has the faith that we can do it.  And so I’m asking you today, “What are you going to be?”

On the 19th of October of last year, not this year, but 2001, Steven Covey and I, we have a business together, were asked by Mayor Giuliani of New York City, if we would come back to Manhattan and do a free, one day, workshop for the families of those affected by the 9/11 disaster.  He told that their mid-town Manhattan Sheraton had donated their ballroom.  They donated our rooms to stay.  Would you come back?  We’ve got people in some real pain.  Would you come back and speak?  We said, “We’re there!”  We got there on a Thursday night.  The seminar was to be on Friday.  I got there about midnight.  I’ve been in Manhattan many, many times.  As I flew up the East river, I was coming from Chicago, and saw the lights where the World Trade Center used to be, it was kind of an eerie feeling.  It was a very different landscape now.

At five o’clock the next morning, Mayor Giuliani had arranged for a tour, a private tour of ground zero for Steven and me.  At that point, which was just five weeks after the event; sixteen hundred policeman had surrounded ground zero, and had blocked it off.  You couldn’t get down there without a police escort.  We had to go through four checkpoints to get to ground zero.  About 5:15 in the morning, we found ourselves standing on the street in front of where the Marriott Hotel used to be. It used to be called the Vista Hotel.  I’ve stayed in that Hotel many times.  Only I wasn’t really standing on the street.  I was standing on 16 feet of compacted debris.  And as we stood there looking at this horrific hole in the ground, the policeman who had been assigned to be our guide began to tell us his story.

He said, “You know, I was here that day.  I was standing on the street right about where we are.  I heard this big bang, I looked up, and all this stuff came flying out of the World Trade Center.”  He said, “You know, it looked like paper when it all came out until it started hitting the ground.  It was fifty foot I-beams killing everyone it hit.”  He said, “I watched 34 people jump from those towers.  Four of them holding hands.  I watched eight firemen lose their lives from falling people.”  I’m not even believing this.  Then he looked at me and said, “Mr. Smith, how many computers do you think there were in the World Trade Center?”  I said, “Probably a lot.”  He said, “We haven’t found one!”  I said, “How come?”  “3,000 degree fire.  It’s still burning.”  As he was talking, a crane pulled a big I-beam out of the rubble, and the end of the I-beam was dripping molten steel.  Then he said, “You know the second plane hit and then the building started to come down – we all thought we were dead.  We got under a car, and somehow we lived.”  That’s how our morning started.

When we got back to the hotel at about 7:30, we had to shower.  We were covered with soot.  At 8:00, this meeting began.  There were 2,000 people jammed into a ballroom designed for 1,500.  People were sitting on the floor.  It started by two New York policemen and two New York Firemen, carrying the American flag in.  I will tell you, It’s hard.  And then the Harlem girls choir, sixty young women from Harlem, filed in and sang three patriotic songs, and the music that came out of those kids was amazing.  I was very grateful that Steven Covey had to speak first because I was a mess.  He spoke for two hours, and then I had to speak for two hours.  As I approached the front of the room, there were people all around on the floor.  A fireman, about half way back, in uniform, stood up, and he said, “Mr. Smith, are you going to tell us how we get of bed in the morning when we just don’t give a darn anymore?”  That’s how it started.  It turned out to be one of the toughest, and ultimately the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.  I said these words to the fireman – and I want to say these words to you – Emma Jean and the children, and their extended family, and everybody here.  If you don’t remember a think I’ve said, remember this statement.  I said to this fireman, “Pain is inevitable.  Misery is an option.”  And he seemed a little stunned.  Now what do I mean by that?  The fact is, brothers and sisters, bad things happen to good people.  They just do.  Airplanes fly into buildings.  Rivers overflow their banks.  Dams break and flood out villages.  Accidents happen – people die prematurely.  Bad stuff happens to good people.  How we choose to deal with the pain is ultimately a measure of who we are.

That’s why the Lord gave us the gospel of Jesus Christ.  To help us deal with the pain.  Some of the most serene, magnificent, wonderful people I’ve ever known have gone through some major pain in their lives.

Will the Lord forgive?  Yes!  Ten days ago, tomorrow, President Hinckley and Elder Maxwell, laid their hands on my head and restored all my blessings.  Not just some of them.  All of them.  And President Hinckley mentioned three times in the most amazing blessing I’ve ever heard, all the blessings.  I’m here to testify to you today that that will happen to Lowell.  He’ll be there.  He’ll be ready, Emma Jean.  He’ll welcome you with all his blessings.  So the challenge for us as the living – to go on.

When the pioneers came across the plains, they periodically had to stop and bury the dead.  And the scene was always the same.  There’d be a family standing around the grave, and if you looked off into the distance, you could see the wagons – and the wagons were ready to go.  The wagons had riders in them.  They were waiting for the family to get through with that funeral so that they could move on because they knew, “If we don’t move on, then we’ll die!”  They buried their dead, and they moved on.

Well, the wagons are surrounding the building, and they’re ready for us to move on.  We pulled off the highways of our lives to pay tribute to a great human being – who made a mistake that can be fixed.  And when we’re through here today, we’ll get back in our wagons and move on.  We’ll survive.  Don’t ever forget the brutal facts, but never lose faith that they can be dealt with.  I bear you my testimony that God lives.  Jesus is the Christ.  He loves everybody in the room.  He’ll take care of Lowell.  He’ll take care of us too.  I bear that witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Here are a few more thoughts from my memory of Phil Wightman’s talk from Garrett’s funeral.  The talk centered around the scripture in 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 which states, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

In essence, since I went to the funeral with Lowell’s funeral talk in my mind (in fact, my friend, Taylor Willingham, read it to me again on the drive up and I gave a copy to Garrett’s parents) the basics of the talk were the same.  Brother Smith approached it with some practical questions and answers to those questions.  President Wightman approached it from a doctrine side that we do not really know what goes on in the minds of these individuals when suicide is completed.  But we have to have charity, love them and their families, and move forward.  In the end, the Lord will sort all things out.

Rest in peace Garrett and Lowell.  I look forward to meeting up with you both again some day.  Until then, I hope we all can appreciate the suicidal act and hopefully help avoid it in the future, and work forward from those who do commit this unthinkable deed.

First published 5 Jun 2011.



With my brother-in-law entering the Missionary Training Center (and now already left for his Carlsbad California Mission) I looked through some of the photos I have from the MTC.

That morning we met with the Stake President to finalize everything before driving out to Provo, Utah, Utah.

The morning to go to the MTC with Milo Ross, Colleen Lloyd, and Jackie Melycher (aunt)

The morning to go to the MTC with Milo Ross, Colleen Lloyd, and Jackie Melycher (aunt).  My Grandma particularly liked this photo because it also gives a side profile of me as well as the front.

One final blessing and setting apart before leaving.

Gene Hansen, Paul Ross, Milo Ross, setting apart (again)

Gene Hansen, Paul Ross, Milo Ross, setting apart (again)

The first picture is at the front doors before going in.

Arriving at the MTC

Arriving at the MTC

My first companion Elder Kody Young from St. George, Washington, Utah.

Kody Young and Paul Ross, companions at MTC

Kody Young and Paul Ross, companions at MTC (the camera is incorrect, this was December 1998)

Our first snow while at the MTC.

Snow at the MTC

Snow at the MTC

One of my most distinct memories from the MTC was the heating.  I don’t know what it was, but I ended up with a bloody nose at least once a day.  I was not the only one.  Apparently it had something to do with the dryness of the air and the ventilation systems.  It made for long days where my head was not always in the lessons but often worrying about the next nosebleed and whether I had tissues nearby.  If I had to go to the bathroom, the paper towels only seemed to make the problem worse.

Elder Holland came and spoke to the MTC while we were there.  He insisted on the opening hymn as “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”  After we sang it, he wanted us to sing it again with the silly extra phrases we all know.  It was quite a bit of fun hearing an organ play the introduction and then for us to sing along.  It was also in this talk that he told us that if we had to come home before our time was up, we better come home on a stretcher.  Even at the end, we should have worn out our days as missionaries.  We were so close the the Christmas holidays that we regularly sang Christmas music.

Our MTC District attending the Provo Temple.  Four of us were going to England, the remaining ones were headed to Peoria, Illinois.  The thing I remember most about the Provo Temple were the white escalators.  Years later when I went back, they were gone!  I was a bit disappointed not to see the white escalators again.

Our MTC District, I only know four of the 11.  From l-r, #5 is Elder Olson, #9 Elder Scow, #10 Elder Young, #11 Elder Ross.  The rest were going to Peoria, Illinois if I remember correctly.

Our MTC District, I only know four of the 11. From l-r, #5 is Elder Olson, #9 Elder Scow, #10 Elder Young, #11 Elder Ross.

There were a few things in the MTC that disgusted and horrified me but I will not relate them here.  They were not becoming of missionaries and I let them know.  There were also plenty of fun and enjoyable times.

Then the five of us were flying off to Manchester, England just in time for Christmas.

Elder Olson, Elder Scow, Sister Dunn, Elder Young, and Elder Ross at Salt Lake City airport flying out

Elder Olson, Elder Scow, Sister Dunn, Elder Young, and Elder Ross at Salt Lake City airport flying out

Some good friends and family came to see us off.

Elder Scow, Elder Young, Bryan Jensen, Elder Ross

Elder Scow, Elder Young, Bryan Jensen, Elder Ross

More friends and family.  My Sister, Dad, and Great Aunt Andra and cousin Denise, all came to share.  Sadly, my Grandma was told I was leaving from the wrong gate and was not present so I did not get to see her one last time.  She made it to the concourse just as the plane was about to leave and they let her send a package on the plane to me.  Very good friends to come say goodbye!

Andra Ross, Elena McBride, Milo Ross, Elder Ross, Denise Andra, Brenna Barnes, Adelaide Andra

Andra Ross, Elena McBride, Milo Ross, Elder Ross, Denise Andra, Brenna Barnes, Adelaide Andra

Maybe I can start sharing some more photos of the mission as time goes on.  I should get out my journals to add some more flavor to these entries than just photos.