1st Grade, Park Elementary, Richmond, Utah

Top (l-r): Oral L Ballam, Flora Allen, Leslie Smith, Barbara Housley, Kirt Hatch, Ann Bair, Shanna Bullen, Jimmy Johnson; 2nd Row: Zan Christensen, Jane Robinson, Sandra Jonas, Jeffery Theurer; 3rd Row: Barbara Watts, Reed Webb, Susan Jones, Faye Housley, Molly Lulwyler, Beth Cartwright, Gary Andersen, Johnny Durney; Bottom Row: Peggy Plant, Kim Christensen, Fern Housley, Pamela Bun, Roland Hobbs, Debbie Day

This picture is from the 1960 – 1961 school year at Richmond Grade School (the name given in the photo). I only knew it as Park Elementary.

Playground to the North of Park Elementary, see the Benson Stake Tabernacle on the far left.

I had to do some research and talk to a few people.  Originally the site of Park Elementary was the old Richmond High School.  Richmond High School was built in 1911-12.  North Cache High School was built in 1920.  Richmond High then became Richmond Grade School.  In 1939 an addition was built and it was named Park Auditorium.  Richmond Grade School was always called Park Elementary, but nobody knows when it formally changed or adopted the name.  Cache County School District just recently abandoned the buildings and donated it to Richmond City.  The students now attend White Pine which is now an elementary school.

I understand the 1911-1912 high school portion has been torn down with the 1939 Park Auditorium addition the oldest portion of the complex.  The Auditorium and other newer additions are still present, but will now house Richmond City offices.

1959 Jonas Reunion with Park Elementary in the background with the auditorium addition.


Mr. Oral Lynn Ballam (1901 – 1993).  He was both the Principal and 1st Grade Teacher.  He has appeared in other posts as teacher and also as student!
Flora Greene married Allen (1906 – 1996)
Gary Anderson (? – living)

Ann Bair married Downs (? – living)

Shanna Bullen married Gibbons (? – living)

Pamela Bun (? – ?)

Beth Cartwright (? – living)

Kim Christensen (? – living)

Zan Leonard Christensen (1954 – 1996)

Debra Lynn Day married Pursuer (1954 – 2010)

Johnny Durney (? – ?)

Kirt Hatch (? – ?)

Roland Hobbs (? – ?)

Barbara Housley married Sharp (? – living)

Fay Housley married Purser (? – living)

Jimmy Johnson (? – living)

Sandra Jonas (1954 – living)

Susan Jones (? – ?)

Molly Lulwyler (? – ?)

Peggy Anne Plant married Ivanyo (? – living)

Jane Robinson married Larsen (? – living)

Leslie Smith (? – living)

Jeffery Theurer (? – living)

Barbara Watts (? – ?)

Reed Leon Webb (1954 – 1992)


Meta Marie Jones

Meta Jones' grave

Meta Jones’ grave

I recently took a trip to American Falls for work.  After I completed the appointment, I stopped at the American Falls Cemetery to pay my respects.

Meta was born 2 July 1952 in American Falls, Power, Idaho and died 25 October 1998 near Kasota, Jerome, Idaho.

17 years ago today my mother, Sandy Jonas, took the life of Meta Marie Ringe Rupp Jones.  That day obviously changed Meta’s life, but it also changed the life of everyone else even distantly linked.  I dare not say how different life would be if Mom had not taken those actions.  I frankly have no idea how life would be.  I can only imagine.  Some would likely be very welcome, others likely not.

I am not the Judge in the eternal scheme.  I do not know the outcome.  All I know is that events come in life that rock us to the core.  This was one such occasion for many people.  The ripples likely flow throughout eternity, positive and negative.

Williams-Davis Wedding

Here is another life sketch I want to share.  This time of John Haines Williams and Sarah Jane Davis.  John is the father of David Davis Williams and Mary Jane Williams Davis.  He is the brother to my David D Williams.  At some point I hope I have more history to write of David D and John Haines’ parents, but at this point there are far too many questions.  In all honesty, it seems that their parents John Williams and Frances Henneys have had their history confused, merged, and corrupted by some other Williams lines.  Until we can sort the real information on our line from the rest, I have delayed writing to keep from perpetuating mistakes and confusion.  For example, it appears John Williams died in Ogden, Weber, Utah in 1867.  But some have him merged and combined with John Williams who died in 1876, 1870, and 1867.  On with the already written history.

I will offer more family information after the life sketch.  I do not know who wrote this history.


“John Haines Williams was born February 1, 1829, at Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, Wales, a son of John Williams and Frances Hennys.  He was the fourth child of ten children: Frances, Elizabeth, Catherine, John, Mary, David, Sarah, Richard and Joseph.  His father was a collier by trade and worked hard to sustain a large family.

“Sarah Jane Davis was born 5 July 1830 at Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales, the daughter of William and Margaret Davis of Kidwelly.  She was the youngest of the nine children born in this family: Margaret, Mary, Ann, William, Eliza, John, David, Lewis, and Sarah Jane.

“After their marriage, John and Sarah Jane made their home in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales, where he worked in the coal mines.  Here two sons were born, William and David.  Upon hearing the gospel and the advantages of life in America, they worked, saved, and made plans for a new home there.  Those who emigrated in their party were: John, Sarah Jane, their sons, William and David, his father, John Williams, then a widower, and his two brothers,  David and wife and Richard.  They took passage from Liverpool, England with a group of Saints in the year 1855, spending eight weeks on the water.

“Landing in New York, they went to Scranton, Pennsylvania to make their home.  While living there, the men worked in the coal mines.  At Scranton, two more children were born, Thomas John and Ann.  The family lived in Scranton until 1859 and then came west, making their home in Ogden, Utah for several years.  There Eliza Bell, Sarah, John, and Mary were born.

“When a group of Saints were leaving for southeastern Idaho, John and Sarah Jane and their eight children went with them and settled in Malad Valley.  At first, they lived in Woodruff where George and Frances were born.  Later they moved to Malad and took up a homestead of three hundred twenty acres at Gwenford.  There they worked hard clearing the land of sage by hand to prepare it for planting.

“John Haines was a lover of fine horses and cattle.  Many people of the valley bought animals from him.  They built a three-room log house and were happy in their new home.  Here Joseph, the eleventh child, was born.

“Desiring the best in education for their children and having a desire to share their happiness in the truths of the gospel, Thomas was sent to Europe and labored as an L.D.S. missionary in England and Wales.  After his return home he attended school and taught school for many years.  This privilege could not be afforded the others after the death of their father.

“Sarah Jane was a very proud, cultured and refined woman, a wonderful homemaker, seamstress and cook.  Many enjoyed her delicious home-cooked meals.  She had to make bread nearly every day.  The Indians were prowlers at that time.  They came to her home often, but she believed in the admonition of President Brigham Young; It is better to feed them than fight them.  This she did.

“John Haines died on January 20, 1882 at the age of fifty-three.  Sarah Jane worked very hard caring for her family.  Her daughter, Frances, lived with her until her mother=s death on August 4, 1892.  They were both buried in the Malad City Cemetery.”


Some more family history information.

John Haines Williams born 1 February 1829 in Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, Wales and died 20 January 1882 in Gwenford, Oneida, Idaho.  He was buried 23 January 1882 in Malad, Oneida, Idaho.

Sarah Jane Davis born 5 July 1830 in Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales and died 4 August 1892 in Samaria, Oneida, Idaho.  She was buried 7 August 1892 in Malad.

John and Sarah were married in 1849 in Kidwelly.

Their children are:

William Davis Williams born 20 June 1850 in Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, Wales and died 10 May 1916 in Malad.  Buried 13 May 1916 in Malad.  Married Hannah Maria Thomas (1849-1900) 10 April 1871 in Samaria, Oneida, Idaho.

David Davis Williams born 19 June 1852 in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, Wales and died 27 June 1927 in Samaria.  Buried 30 June 1927 in Samaria.  Married Rebecca Price Williams (1857-1936) 31 December 1877 in St. Johns, Oneida, Idaho.

Catherine Williams born 4 April 1854 in Llanelli and died 27 March 1856 in Pennsylvania.

Thomas Davis Williams born 3 August 1856 in Hyde Park, Westmoreland, Pennsylvania and died 24 January 1900 in Woodruff, Oneida, Idaho.  Buried 27 January 1900 in Samaria.  Married Mary Ann Davis (1860-1895) 20 January 1881 in Samaria.  He married Agnes Ellen Bowen (1868-1943) 18 May 1897 in Brigham City, Box Elder, Utah (married by Rudger Clawson, later LDS Apostle and member of the First Presidency).

Ann Ellen Williams born 11 April 1861 in Scranton, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania and died 26 August 1936 in Malad.  Buried 28 August 1936 in Malad.  Married Joshua “Jessie” Lewis Thomas (1857-1928) 26 March 1888 in Malad.

Sarah Williams born 3 May 1862 in Ogden, Weber, Utah.  We don’t know anything more about her.

Eliza Bell Williams born 4 June 1963 in Ogden and died 15 September 1941 in Samaria.  Buried 19 September 1941 in Samaria.  Married William Lewis Jones (1857-1889) 19 January 1887 in Logan, Cache, Utah.

Mary Jane Williams born 8 April 1864 in Ogden and died 20 March 1903 in Samaria.  Buried 24 March 1903 in Samaria.  Married Samuel Deer Davis (1859-1923) 10 October 1882 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah.

John Haines Williams born 18 February 1866 in Ogden and died 9 August 1956 in Malad.  Buried 11 August 1956 in Samaria.  Married Rebecca Morse (1869-1938) 14 February 1886 in Malad.

George Haines Williams born 15 October 1867 in Woodruff and died 26 December 1950 in Woodruff.  Buried 29 December 1950 in Samaria.  Married Sarah Elizabeth Morse (1872-1908) 20 September 1890 in Samaria.

Frances Williams born 10 April 1870 in Woodruff and died 18 July 1948 in Woodruff.  Buried 20 July 1948 in Samaria.  Married Samuel John Williams (1865-1943) 14 December 1898 in Samaria.

Joseph Davis Williams born 15 January 1872 in Malad and died 5 November 1943 in Samaria.  Buried 9 November 1943 in Samaria.  Married Rachel Morse (1872-1937) 18 August 1896 in Samaria.

Mr. Mendenhall’s 1992 Class

Back (l-r): Merila Paz, Eldon Wright, Ramona Moss, Larry Story, Sara Ferguson, Andra Ross, Audrey Grant, Leslie Patterson, Brad Shockey, Jose Sanchez, Oscar Leos. Middle: James Mendenhall, Russell Parker, Melissa Alvarez, Jolyn Jones, Julianne Greer, Kristal West, Alissa Jolley, Anthony Knopp, Shane Murphy, Dean Elison, Chris Anderson. Front: Matt Albertson, Seth Woodland, Kim Hilterbrand, Mark Kniep, Barry Hall, Juan Solarez.

Mrs. Rue’s Class

Back (l-r): Larry Weitzstein, Becky Kuhlman, Jane Garcia, Donald Bodily, Allen Llewellyn, Kim Maier, Kirk Carpenter, David Hill.  Middle: Mrs. Rue, Val Patterson, Randy Harris, Jenny Ford, Kim Barlow, Trudy Mills, Todd Anderson, Robert Fairbrother.  Front: Faye Smith, Jeanette Bellafullin, Bruce Harper, DeeLon Jones, Mark Bonner, Pam Draper, Kathy Larson, Jackie Jonas.

Here is another class picture of my Aunt Jackie.  As the sign tells, this picture is from Southwest School in Burley, Cassia, Idaho taken in April 1970.  The names were written on a piece of paper inside.  If they are incorrect, please let me know.  I would be happy to update the information.  First, a copy of letter from Ms. Rue.

Larry Weitzstein

Becky Kuhlman

Jane Garcia

Donald Bodily

Allen Llewellyn

Kim Maier

Kirk Carpenter

David Hill

Margaret Jane Daven Rue (1914-1985)

Val Paterson

Randy Harris

Jenny Ford

Kim Barlow

Trudy Mills

Todd Anderson

Robert Fairbrother

Faye Smith

Jeanette Bellafullin

Bruce Harper (1959-1975)

DeeLon Jones

Mark Bonner

Pam Draper

Kathy Larson

Jackie Jonas

Mr. Heward’s Class

Back Row(l-r): Debbie Kay, Tammie Beason, Bruce Harper, Mike Hansen, Jack Jones, Dawnette Jolley, Cris Davis, Tamara Quast, Cindy Church, Mr. Heward. Third row: Kim Maier, Kerry Hines, Jeff Holland, Jody Anderson, Marilyn Baumgartner, Steven McDaniel, Chip Jones, Rodney Hansen, Keith Barnes, Robert Murphy. Second Row: Curtis Holmes, Norman Dayley, Janie Harris, Katherine Ringel, Wendy Lambert, Jackie Jonas, Delia Castilla. Front Row: Charles Elliott, Ruben Soto, Mark Bonner, David Hill, Gary Miller, Daniel Green.

This class photo is one of several in my Aunt’s photos that she gave to me so I could scan them.  Since there is not really a great way to keep all the names on the photo with it, I thought this would be the best way.  This picture was taken at the old Miller School located in Burley, Cassia, Idaho.  I believe this photo was taken in March 1972.  Jackie has written on it that she was age 11, and the broader photo has St. Patrick’s Day items on the walls. If anyone has more information about people in the picture, please let me know.

Debbie Kay

Tammie Beason

Bruce Harper (1959 – 1975)

Mike Hansen

Jack Jones

Dawnette Jolley

Cris Davis

Tamara Quast

Cindy Church

Gerald Heward (?-?)

Kim Maier

Kerry Hines

Jeff Holland

Jody Anderson

Marilyn Baumgartner

Steven McDaniel

Chip Jones

Rodney Hansen

Keith Barnes

Robert Murphy

Curtis Holmes

Norman Dayley

Janie Harris

Katherine Ringel

Wendy Lambert

Jackie Jonas

Delia Castilla

Charles Elliott

Ruben Soto

Mark Bonner

David Hill

Gary Miller

Daniel Green

How to write an Obituary

I have done genealogy long enough that I have read thousands of obituaries.  Let me give you an idea about a few things you should include in an obituary and some things you should not.  This is my idea on how to write a proper obituary.

First and foremost, an obituary is a public service announcement.  You will say good-bye, or bid farewell, to your loved one at a funeral or grave-side service.  But an obituary is not just for you, it is an opportunity to put the public and creditors on notice about the death of an individual.  Next, it is an opportunity to invite friends, community, and distant family to grieve with you.  This is not just for people to come to the funeral, but for the community and others to rally around and give some service, emotional or pecuniary, to the deceased’s estate and to the family.  I have noticed the western United States tends to do better at their obituary writing where the east skimps on this important information.  Additionally, the more famous, the less vital information that is shared (I am unconvinced by their reasoning, but may be for good reasons).

Each week I roll through the obituaries of a half-dozen newspapers looking for names that catch my eye.  I am fortunate enough to have some fairly rare family names.  But I do have some family who marry into more common names so I often will look at an obituary to see if the individual is related or not.  Then I scan to see if they really are related, or just a similar name to an individual I know.

I also worked for a law firm at one time that had me keep an eye on obituaries to see if a client with a will had passed away.  Another firm dealing with public relations had me search the obituaries for family members of clients and we would send cards to the client if one appeared.  Lastly, in a service position, I often tried to track members of an organization who had disappeared and I looked first for the older people in the obituaries of the state in which they last lived before attempting other means.

I am just indicating that obituaries have a valid purpose beyond some sweet, potentially selfish, family reason to share their love of the decedent with others.

Therefore, here are a few items to include in every obituary.  These are the items the disinterested public wants to learn in an obituary.  I have included a copy of a good obituary below.

  • What is the individual’s full name?

Please include the full name, spell out the middle name.  You do not need to put the maiden name as the name will be listed with the parents.

  • What is the individual’s parent’s names?

Please include the full name of both parents.  This is where you do want to include the maiden name of the mother.  Usually, I will write the mother’s name first as a maiden name, and then the father’s name to not worry about determining what the real last name is.  Hence, something like, “Richard was the second son born to the marriage of Jane Ethel Jones and Harvey John Smith.”  Mention the marriage if it exists.  If one of the parents are dead, put ‘late’ in front of the parents name (if both are dead, you will mention that farther down and can drop the late).  If the deceased was adopted, please state this in the obituary.  You do not have to give the biological parents, if you know them, but just show, “Jane Ethel Jones and Harvey John Smith adopted Richard when he was 17 months old.”

  • What is the individual’s birth date?

Please include the entire birth date of the deceased.  This is especially important if it is a common name like John Henry Smith.  Even if it is not a common name, include it because uncommon names tend to repeat names in their families which could still muddy the waters.

  • Where was the individual born?

It is not uncommon for individuals to move in our society.  This is even more true of couples who retire to Florida or Arizona.  An obituary is published in Queen Creek, Arizona and not in their home in Montana, and the next thing we know we are searching for an obituary for someone and an apparent match appears in Arizona but we having nothing to confirm the connection.

  • Who did the individual marry?

I completely understand if you want to maintain some privacy to the spouse of an individual, especially if they are still living.  If so, just list the first name.  No matter how much you might hate that first wife, list them.  If you really want to spite them, put their whole name.  Just make a reference to their divorce and put the next marriage.  But please list it, some states still leave property to a spouse after death, even after divorce.  Do not cut yourself short.  If there are other children from such a marriage, list them.  This is a common courtesy if you are not on speaking terms to let them know of the death.  If a spouse has predeceased, just write something like, “Jim married Belinda Carlisle on 4 February 1920, she predeceased him on 23 March 1984.”

  • When and where did the individual marry?

These items too can be useful for genealogy and legal research.  If married in a community property state, or even a state where family does not know of additional property, there can be implications.  An obituary may be one of the only ways this information will be out in the world on a free basis.  Working from obituaries, if a marriage date or location is not given, then a presumption arises that they were not or the family does not even know this information.

  • When did the individual die?

You would think an obituary might make this obvious.  However, let me tell you where this can become a problem.  Imagine you cut out an obituary and place it in a book somewhere.  20, 30, or even 100 years later someone is looking for that death date.  They do not want to walk down to the local library in another part of the world where the newspaper was published to spend a long time to find the exact page on which the obituary was located to figure out when exactly “last Friday” was on the calendar.  In our day and age with government records, it is much easier to ascertain the day that someone died.  But if you have John Henry Smith, with a hundred or so born in the US in a given year, that obituary with a date will be much more pleasing.

  • Where did the individual die?

This one might sound odd, but it also applies.  Let’s say I am a 2nd cousin who has not been in contact with Uncle George since 1978.  The last mailing address I have is in one town but I do not know if they still live there and I would like to search for their current address or a phone number.  Well, if they moved over just a few towns I will not find them, if they have a common name.  Most people die at a location fairly close to their home.  This will make it easier for the lawyer, governmental entity, or family member to contact you should they want to.  They will find you, but not listing it will just delay the inevitable.  Also, government entities often will list the location of last benefit, but that is not the same as death location for genealogical purposes.

  • When and where is the funeral?

This is one that many obituaries do not forget.  After all, we want people to come bearing love, condolences, and love.  Some even measure how great a person was by the number of individuals at a funeral.  However, I make mention because a few obituaries do not list this information.  I have read an obituary or two that I am left wondering where the funeral is at to send flowers or a card.  I only find out on the day of the service when the newspaper publishes it.  By that point it is too late to send flowers.  While cheaper for me, some people probably would not have minded attending the funeral.

Lastly, I do not mean to indicate that other things should not be included.  Military service, favorite hobbies, and special thanks should probably be included.  If a person has dedicated their lives to the Masons, a community, a church, or employment, that should probably be listed.  Please do not spend too much time on it though.  Some newspapers charge over a certain amount of lines too.

One last item that I would highly recommend, but understand for privacy reasons if you do not wish to do this.  List all the children of the decedent.  A little hint about the daughters, list them with the husband (if still alive) and married name.  Hence, “Jim is survived by 2 children, Molly (Kevin) Jenkins of Sacramento and Richard (Karen) Schmidt of San Francisco.  Jim was also predeceased by his daughter, Diane (Gary) Warner”

It is also common to list out the number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Please do not name them.  Usually it takes space and the usual reader cannot tell which child belongs to whom, so it is just type we skim over.  Close family know who they are, the less-interested public will skim.  I read an obituary once that had like 11 children and they listed out all 42 grandchildren!!  They did not even give the last name of the grandchildren so even a person who does family history would have found the list useless (and if all the same last name, still just as useless).  List them in the funeral program, not the obituary.

Here I have to put in a note regarding our current society and identity theft.  The theft of a decedent’s information is somewhat limited in use.  First and foremost, report to the government immediately the death so that the Social Security Number and other relevant identification routes are stopped and that the government will be put on notice if someone attempts to use it later.  The probate court should take care of the rest.  Even if the hospital or funeral home is supposed to take care of it, make sure you check it out and report it yourself to both the state and federal government offices.  The information is not often independently valuable unless the government benefits are available.  Too often the family does not report it in time and the next thing they know someone else is using the information and even filing taxes under the decedent’s name and government identification numbers.  If you want closure with your loved one, do what you can to keep others from perpetuating their identity!  It will save you loads of heart ache to do a little effort immediately, like when you are writing the obituary!

I hope this helps some on how to write an obituary.  Keep it simple and do not put too much affection in.  After all, most of the public just wants the facts to determine if we know the person.  If we want sappy, we will come to the family, or send a card/flowers.  Or, if we have business, we now know we need to watch out for the probate notice.

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