Saturday, December 7, 2013

A Toll of Six

Mendenhall gravesite
Dayton, Franklin, Idaho

This story was sent to me a couple weeks ago by a dear cousin, Ella Calhoun.  It is a most sobering story of pioneer life, one I had never heard before, although Calvin Boyce/Boice is my great-grandfather.  The strength and endurance of these great pioneers is never to be underestimated.  Indeed we believe, Families are Forever.

As you travel along Highway 86 in Franklin Co., Idaho, and come to a bridge on the West Cache Canal, stop.  There, on a sagebrush hill above you, you will see an abandoned cemetery.  A few crude headstones stand out in the bunch grass and wild sunflowers, marking the graves of some of the noble men, women and children who settled in the valley along Bear River.
The George Mendenhall family, pioneers of 1852, was among these hardy pioneers.  They built a log house at the foot of the little hill, had a family of six and were happy among relatives and friends.  They lived a typical frontier life-- plowing, reaping, weaving and spinning, and trusted in the Lord for his protecting care.  There was no need for a sheriff or a lawyer among this little group along the river bottom, then known as Franklin Meadows; a man's word was his bond, and if a neighbor needed help, it was freely given with no thought of getting something in return.
The long winter months passed by, and then on the last of March, with the return of spring, diphtheria broke out.  The Mendenhalls were stricken.  "George," called a neighbor from a safe distance outside the house.  George appeared at the door and the neighbor continued, "How many are down with diphtheria to day?"  George answered in melancholy tones, "there are two that are very sick.  We were up all night with Valerie and now Leslie has taken a turn for the worse."  "Is there anything we can bring you?"  "Yes, the wood is getting low, burning a fire night and day, and we need a gallon of kerosene before night."  The neighbor, backing away a step each time she spoke, called, "I'll bring it."  Horror was on her face as she thought of diphtheria germs that might be flying about the yard, and as for the wood she'd have her husband go to the hills and cut some, not in George's yard.  In late afternoon, a sister put a package of food over the fence, and was almost out of hearing distance before she dared call the family.  As George came out to get the package, she ran faster than if he had aimed a six-shooter at her.  This was diphtheria and deadly germs were lurking everywhere.  "Valerie and Leslie are worse" he called as he took the package of bread and dried apples into the house.
The word spread to Dayton, a little town three miles west, that the Mendenhall children were dying.  This was more than the kind heart of Aunt Sarah Phillips could stand.   Aunt Sarah was a widow with a large family but she was blessed with a divine touch of healing, and never refused to help anyone who needed her.  "Lizzie," she called to her daughter, "the two Mendenhall children and dying.  I feel I must go to them.  I know the Lord will spare me from the disease and from bringing it home to my children.  Will you take care of things while I am gone?"  "Yes, mother," replied the faithful Lizzie, "and I'll pray for you an the Mendenhalls."  Aunt Sarah alighted from a wagon in front of the Mendenhall home which brought tears of relief and joy to the family.  Help had come at last!  She tied on her white waist apron and began to work swabbing the swollen throats with drops of turpentine, and trying to get the two little ones to swallow oil and sugar.  Dark-haired Leslie, just five years old, grew more limp and blue each hour.  There was no time to be lost, but what could they do? With a final weak, choking spell, he lay lifeless in his mother's arms.  There was not time for tears; Valerie must be saved.  They worked tirelessly, but it was no use.  In a few hours Valerie, age seven, too had passed away.
Aunt Sarah bathed the little bodies and laid them on some rough boards beside an open window.  Someone brought a sack of snow which was placed in bottles and put around the bodies to keep them cool until buried.  When Cal Boyce heard of the double tragedy, he said, "It aint right for a father to have to nail a coffin lid on his own children.  I'm going in and help them,"  and the next morning Cal was there.  The neighbors made a rough box big enough to hold the two little bodies, and Aunt Sarah and Brother Boyce wrapped them in blankets and laid them side by side.  Then they drove to the new cemetery on the hillside and buried them.
Spring came early with all her natural beauty.  The willow trees along the river began to bud, and the hills grew fresh, bright green with June grass.  Then tragedy struck again at the Mendenhall home.  This time, three-year-old Leroy fell a victim to the disease, friends came again with wood, kerosene and put packages of food by the fence.  "Be of good cheer," they told the Mendenhalls, "Surely God will not ask more of you."  But man's judgment is not always correct.  On March 27th, Leroy died and buried beside his brother and sister.  Two weeks later, the wagon of George Mendenhall stopped again on the graveyard hill.  This time the father and Brother Boyce lifted a box out of the wagon containing the body of little George, age nine, and laid it to rest beside the other three children.  That left the Mendenhalls with only Elvira, age eleven and a babe in arms.  Through this crushing experience, these pioneers had no time for bitterness.  There was work to do, and there was always hope in the future. 
Sustained by their religious belief that death is not the end, that we will meet our loved ones and live again, they were able to go on. After being tried like Job of old, God blessed these faithful parents with other children.  Of course, none ever took the place of those they had lost, but there was music and laughter again in the Mendenhall home.  Times grew more prosperous.  Hunger and want were driven out, but then diphtheria struck again.  There were doctors now, but nothing could be done to save two beautiful Mendenhall girls.  Zella was taken first, and in six more days, Elsie followed her.  This was in 1902.  Diphtheria had taken a toll of six from the Mendenhall family.
I stood on the hill and looked at the graves of George and Celeste Ann Mendenhall and their children.  A feeling of reverence overwhelmed me as I thought of the courage and stamina of these people and in my heart I was proud to say that I live in a valley made possible by such pioneers as these.  Whenever I pass this cemetery, the headstones stand out like lonely, beacon lanterns, telling me to face my problems, and the future as bravely as they.
---Ann C. Hansen

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Story of Alpharetta Boice - Adopted Indian Baby

Ute Mother and Papoose 1893

On October 26, 1968, Delila Boice Asay related the following Indian and Pioneer stories to Sharon G. Blackburn.  They have been compiled and typed as near to the exact words as possible that Grandma used for the enjoyment of those who will read them.  All of the stories are written about the actual happenings of relatives and friends of Grandma Asay.

This is a story about Grandma Delila Asay's grandparents, Mary Ann Barzee Boice, and John Boice.  It took place at Spanish Fork, Utah, in 1854, the year that "Uncle Bert" was born.

Mary Ann Barzee Boice
Mary Ann Barzee Boice and John Boice were called to Spanish Fork, Utah, by President Brigham Young to start a settlement there.  Because Grandma Barzee spoke the Indian language she could communicate better and be friends to the Indians.  She had been asked to be an interpreter between the pioneers and Indians.  One day in 1854 a young Indian buck came and said to Grandma Barzee, "My squaw died and I have no one to help me.  You take care of my baby?"  She said that she would have to talk to her husband about this and instructed him to come back at noon for his answer.  Since the Indians often times pulled tricks she was afraid maybe this was a trick.  When he left she went straight to her husband and told him the incident.  He told her to go see Bishop Markham and "We will do just as he says".  The bishop told her to take the baby and she told him that she hesitated to because she already had 5 children and the one baby "Uncle Bert" was just about a month older than this Indian baby.  The bishop said "Take the baby and raise it and someday you will be blessed for doing so."

When the sun was high in the sky at noon, the Indian came back with the baby to hear the answer.  Grandma told him that she would take the baby and for him to go and bring all that his squaw had prepared for the baby.  Of course this was a meager amount of things.  She prepared some warm water on the stove and bathed the baby and scrubbed it clean.  She also cleaned the few clothes that it had.  The family simply fell in love with it.  Grandma nursed both babies and raised them as twins.  The Indian father made regular trips to check on his baby.

After awhile both babies fell ill.  Uncle Bert seemed to respond to the medicine that she was giving them but the baby girl got worse each day.  Finally the baby Indian died and the father said that her mother wanted her to be with her.  The church prepared a funeral for the baby just as though it was one of their own, and they invited all the Indians to come to the funeral.  So many Indians came that there was an overflow crowd.  After the funeral the father disappeared and no one knew where he had gone to.

John Boice

After awhile the Boice family was called by President Brigham Young to go up to Camos, Utah, to make a new settlement.  This is just out from Heber City.  Two families prepared to go to the new settlement.  When they stopped for the night they put the animals to graze.  Next morning they hitched up to leave and found themselves surrounded by Indians.  John told the Chief that they were just friends and didn't come to harm them but the Chief said, "No, you come and fish all the fish from the streams and use up all the Indian food."  John turned to Mary Ann to tell them that they were friends.  When it looked like all was useless one Indian broke from the crowd of Indians and rode right up before the Chief.  He said, "Chief, these people are friends.  They took my baby to raise when my squaw died.  Please let them go free."  He even got on his knees and begged the chief.  The chief decided to let them go but first they had to form a treaty and give the Indians a sack of flour and a beef.

After the Indians rode off, John got on his horse and rode to President Brigham Young in Salt Lake and told him what had happened.  Brigham Young instructed them to come back to Spanish Fork, that it was not yet time for a settlement there and that they didn't want any trouble with the Indians.


Once while Grandma Asay was in Mesa, Arizona, a lady asked her if she knew alot about Wyoming history.  When Grandma said that she didn't know so awfully much this lady explained that on September 26, 1886, thirteen men from a freight outfit were taking supplies to Salt Lake City.  They camped at the head of Antelope Creek on South Pass.  A freak Wyoming storm came up and during the night all thirteen men were frozen to death and so were some of the oxen.  All the men were burried in one grave.  One of the thirteen men was this lady's grandfather.

Source:  History 27a 
Grandmother Asay's Book of Remembernce

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Somewhere There's A Mountain - A Pioneer Day Tribute

With grateful and loving memory of Sarah Goode Marshall (35), Lavina (12), Selena (10), Tryphena (8), Louisa (6), George (4) and Sarah Ann (2), and Sarah's sister Mariah Goode.  Sarah, a widow with six small children, had a deep desire to "Come to Zion" to be with the Saints.  She worked two years making kid gloves and as a ladies maid to afford the journey from England to America, and to purchase a handcart and the necessary supplies to join the handcart company.  Sarah and her young family were members of the first Handcart Company, led by Captain Edmund Ellsworth.   Lavina, the eldest and only 12 years of age, helped her mother pull the handcart.  Selena, age 10 was in charge of making sure the children were dressed and fed for the day, and to watch over them.  Selena shared her meager food rations with her younger siblings to encourage them along, and she prayed that she "would not feel the pangs of hunger" so she would be able to do so.   Tryphena (8), frightened the group when she became seperated from the company after falling asleep along the trail.  She found her way back, following the lights of the campfires.  Selena, Tryphena, Louisa (6), and George (4) walked barefooted all or most of the 1400 mile journey.  Sarah (2) was the only one  allowed to ride in the handcart.   

As the journey neared its end, the company camped, making repairs to the handcarts, and waiting for the 2nd handcart company to join before entering the Salt Lake Valley together midst a great celebration that was planned.  It was easier for Sarah and the children to start out earlier as the heat of the day made traveling much more difficult.  After receiving permission to leave the company for an earlier start, Sarah dressed the children in their best in preparation for entering the Valley.  When they tried to put their shoes on, they found they would no longer fit.  They pulled their handcart, and were on the crest of a hill when they saw riders in the distance shouting and waving their hats.  The frightened children huddled around their mother, crying.  They all were afraid these men might be Indians.  As the riders got closer, they realized they were frightening the little band of travelers.  They quieted their shouting and rode up to the small family.  They told Sarah they were scouts sent by Brigham Young to bring back news of the whereabouts of the company.  A couple of the riders picked up the smaller children and put them on their horses to ride back to Salt Lake with their report, while the other riders rode on to the main body of the Handcart Company. 

They took the children to a place that may have been a Relief Society building.  One of the women was holding Louisa on her lap, and was sobbing as she saw the skin hanging from her little arms as the sunlight shone through the window.  Another of the children, saw some tomatoes ripening on the window sill.  They were the most beautiful thing the children had ever seen.  The women, noticing their interest, asked if the child would like one, and of course they nodded yes.  One of the ladies encouraged the children to take a bite, "It's good!"  However, to the children, the tomato was far better to look at than to eat.

The rest of the Handcart Company came in with great pomp and circumstance, a band and parade and "the first to enter" were heralded and undoubtedly greeted by Brother Brigham and other dignitaries.  The little group that had arrived a day earlier, arrived in a much quieter fashion, but they did arrive.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Cherokee Morning Song

Chief Washakie Northern Shoshone

 The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon (Another Testament of Jesus Christ)

The Stick of Judah and the Stick of Joseph
The world's oldest multiple-page book - in the lost Etruscan language - has gone on display in Bulgaria's National History Museum in Sofia. And something about that book has particular interest for Latter-day Saints. As is evident from the photograph, this book was created on metal plates that are bound together with metal rings similar to the original source documents that became the Book of Mormon.

The book of Mormon tells of the people who came to the America's in 600 B.C.  The Book of Mormon was translated from plates made of gold, held together by three metal rings.   The original plates were written in  reformed Egyptian characters by prophets living in the Western Hemisphere between 600 BC and 421 AD. 

Found in Hebrew Cave

Los Lunas Stone - New Mexico
Thirty- five miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico is what is known as the Los Lunas Stone.  An  80-ton boulder engraved with the Ten Commandments in Hebrew centuries ago.  The Hebrew form was used for an approximate one thousand-year period, ending about 500 BC.  Harvard scholar, Robert Pfeiffer, and expert in Semitic languages, concluded that the mysterious inscription was written in a form of Paleo-Hebrew and paraphrased the Ten Commandments.  "I am Yahweh thy God who brought thee out of the land. There shall not be unto them other gods before Me."  Historian Steven M. Collins points out that the "Las Lunas Stone" inscription in archaic Hebrew was written in the Hebew letters of the style of the Moabite Stone, dated to about 1,000 B.C.  Interestingly, beside the boulder is a Tamarisk, a tree species native to the Middle East and supposedly the type of tree planted by Abraham in Beersheba when he called upon the name of the Lord.

In 1885, missionaries went to the Wind River Shoshone Indians carrying a Book of Mormon and a letter of friendship from Brigham Young.  Chief Washakie accepted the gifts, telling his subchiefs that their "Father above the clouds" told Brigham Young to send the missionaries.  This was the beginning of a long friendship between Washakie and the Latter-day Saints.

Chief Washakie with Council 1883-1885

A great-great grandson of Chief Washakie, told my brother Rick the following (it is paraphrased according to my memory). When the Book of Mormon was first introduced to Chief Washakie , he did not believe it.   The Book was passed around the circle and the third time the Book of Mormon passed around the tipi, and hearing what it contained, Chief Washakie declared that it was true.   He told those present that they were once a great nation.  He recognized the history of his people as contained in the Book of Mormon and believed it to be true.

Many artifacts have been found in America that were written in an  ancient Hebrew text.  One was stored in the Smithsonian museum, and had been thought to be an ancient American Indian writing because it had been found in "Indian country".  However, when helping move some boxes, this item was "rediscovered" by a gentleman fluent in ancient languages, and discovered the artifact had been mounted upside down.  It was not ancient American Indian, but rather, Ancient Hebrew. 

Cherokee Morning Song

We n' de ya ho, We n' de ya ho,
We n' de ya, We n' de ya Ho ho ho ho,
He ya ho, He ya ho, Ya ya ya

Translation - We n' de ya ho

Freely translated: "A we n'" (I am), "de" (of), "Yauh" --the-- (Great Spirit), "Ho" (it is so).

Written as: A we n' de Yauh ho (I am of the Great Spirit, Ho!).

This language stems from very ancient Cherokee

Arranged by Rita Coolidge and Robbie Robertson.

Translation by David Michael Wolfe who is an Eastern Virginia Cherokee and a cultural historian. Thanks to Maurizio Orlando for providing the translation.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Story of Bill and Carl

Five-Springs Falls
Big Horn Mountains Wyoming

In 1936 money was short for everyone nationwide.  Family vacations were not in the plans for many.  However, my Grandparents decided to call their family together for an over-night on the Big Horn Mountain at the Five Springs Saw Mill that held so many dear memories from their early married life.

Although I was only 5 years old the events of this family 'mini vacation' in the mountains will always hold a special place in my reservoir of memories. 

Flowers on the Big Horns
My cousins and I picked billiant mountain flowers; we waded in icy mountain streams and stood under the sparkling waterfall streams and stood under the sparkling waterfall as it cascaded down over jagged rocks.
Five-Springs Falls
Dinner was cooked over an old fashioned camp-fire; the mountain air had given us huge appetities.  Corn on the cob and hot dogs had never tasted so good. 

We sat around the dying fire roasting marshmellows and singing all our favorite songs.  Then Grandma told us the story of "Bill and Carl."  It was the first time I'd heard it, and I will never forget that story as long as I live - perhaps it was the location where it was told - or the warm glow of the families' closeness that made it so memorable:

Bill and Carl
(as told by Grandma Asay)

The story I'm about to tell you is true.  It happened to a family in Idaho when my mother was a young girl.

A long time ago the little boys had to learn to work just like men.  They were taught to plow the fields, chop the wood, and drive the wagons just like their fathers.  Everyone worked so they could survive.

Bill and Carl, ages 8 and 12, were to go with a group of men and boys to the canyon to get wood for winter and logs for building houses.  Their mother prepared a nice lunch box for them and their father helped hitch up the wagon.  The boys gathered their bedding and were soon ready for the journey.

They were to meet the others at a certain place in the canyon, but as the boys reached the crossroads they weren't sure which fork to take.  Finally they gook the one that appeared to have the freshest tracks.  They headed their oxen up this canyon and rod all day going up and up.

When evening came the oxen were tired and they hadn't found anybody; they were still all alone.  So they decided to make camp and wait for the others to catch up.  The oxen were unhooked and fed.  The boys then built a small fire, spread out their bedrolls and ate their lunches.

Soon Bill said, "Carl, are you scared?"  Carl answered, "why no, of course not."  Bill said, "Do you think Ma and Pa will pray for us tonight?"  Carl convinced Bill that they would.  More times passed.  Bill said, "Carl, do you think Heavenly Father would hear us if we prayed to him?"  Carl assured him that He would and they knelt together by their dying fire praying to Heavenly Father that they would get home alright.  They thanked Him for the blessings that they had come that far safely.  They then prayed that the other group would soon catch up with them.

Bill went right to sleep, but Carl lay there wide awake.  Suddenly a loud war hoop was heard, and two huge Indians, jumped out from behind the pine trees.  They quickly tied the boys' hands, picked up their guns and other equipment - and made them further and further up into the mountains.  Finally when they couldn't go another step, camp was made.  Though they were terrified Bill and Carl knew they must act brave. 

During the night the boys were able to free themselves as the Indians slept.  They quietly found their guns, and twisted the oxens' tails until they got up and quickly headed right back the way they came. 

After while they stopped and Carl climbed to a look-out point ... Bill was to shoot if the Indians showed up.  As Carl looked down into the valley below, he heard a gunshot.  Could it be the Indians?  He hurried back to find Bill clutching his gun, and there were drops of blood on the rocks.  Bill proudly told his big brother he had scared the Indians away.

Horses were coming in the distance now, and the boys were so afraid it was more Indians, but as they got closer they recognized their father at the head!  He soon had his boys in his arms, and what tears of graitude were shed.

A few years later the pioneers invited the Indians to their 24th of July Celebration.  As Bill and Carl stood by their father, an Indian walked up and began telling them how brave they were.  But it wasn't until he showed them the gash on his face where he had been nicked by Bill's bullet that they finally understood.  The Indian explained how they admired the 2 young boys for their bravery on the mountain that day years ago.

After Grandma's story we knelt in family prayer and slept out under the stars on old mattresses covered with heavy quilts.  How safe I felt with my parents on either side and all my strong uncles and grandparents to protect me from whatever unknowns the Big Horns had to offer ..... Indians and bears were my big concern!  But it was the elements that finally zapped us - a midnight shower complete with thunder and lightning sent us scurrying for shelter in cars, under trucks, and trees.  To me this made the whole thing an exciting adventure to be brought out and savored from my treasure chest of childhood memories in the years to come.
Source: "Till We Meet Again" by Joy Marostica

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Two Indian Stories

Martin Calvin Boyce

Grandma Asay told this story to Kenny Blackburn, age 5, October 26, 1969. 
No changes have been made, type as originally written:

When my father was just a young boy possibly 9 years old the cattle from the fort had been driven down on the willow bottom and there was grass there that they could find plenty to eat and grandfather had a lovely big cow and she had been sent down to remain there until she found her little calf.  My father was just a little boy and grandfather said, "Calvin, go get on the workhorse and go down and see if you can find her.  If you can and she hasn't found her little calf just leave her there and come on back without her."   So father went out and looked at the workhorse and then he looked at the little race mare.  He had prayed to Heavenly father to guide him to do the right thing so that he would be sure to get back home.  So he looked at the race mare and put the bridle on her and fixed her up and he got on her back and away he went to find that cow.  He went down on the willow bottom and the trail wound around and around the willows.  He just kept going and going.  Finally he found the great big lovely cow and she hadn't found her little calf yet so he turned around and started back.  He hadn't gone far when his attention was drawn behind him.  He looked and there were 5 big Indian men on horses whipping those horses trying to catch father.  Father just kicked the little mare in the ribs and loosened the reins and let her go.  She took off just like that.  He had presence of mind to know that he didn't dare to let her run too long or she would loose her wind and he had about 5 miles to go.  So when he seen he was ahead of them far enough he would pull the reins in and slow her down.  And that is what he did.  He would hold her down until he saw that they were gaining on him and then he would let her go.  He would run real fast for a little ways and the he would hold her down again.  The Indians came just as fast as they could.  As they got in sight of the fort the Indians could see that they could not catch him and every one fired a shot at him.  He could hear the bullets whizzing past him on each side of his head, but not a one hit him.  They swung the big gate open and my daddy rode through into the fort and his life was spared.  It was only a few days before that that the Indians caught two of the herdsboys, about the age of 10 and 14, down on the willow bottom and the Indians took one of the boys and unjointed every joint in his body.  They took the other boy and skinned him just like they would an elk or something.  And that was what frightened my daddy so, but daddy got home alright, but the two blessed boys died.

Publisher's Note:  Based on the approximate age of Martin Calvin, this incident must have occured either at Fort Palmyria or the fort in Spanish Fork, Utah.   Families from the Palmyria Fort were encouraged to move into the Fort at Spanish Fork when hostilities between the pioneers and Indians increased around 1852.  Since it was so far for Martin Calvin to travel to find the cow, they must have been in the Spanish Fork fort.

This story is about Christianna Dolbell Riding, daughter of Christopher Lister Riding and Lisa, when she was 18 months old. It happened March 25, 1859, in Santa Clair, Utah. 

Christianna Dolbell Riding

Little Christianna had been ill and as it was rather hot in the house, her father laid her on a quilt under the boughrey. The boughrey was a frame porch affair covered with boughs or vines which was cooler than in the house.

Her parents checked her every so often to make sure that she was alright; however, this one time they checked just a little too late and their baby was gone! Christopher ran outside and looked all around. In the distance he could see two figures galloping on horseback just going up over a hill. It appeared that one was carrying something cradled in his arms. He quickly sounded the alarm and soon a dozen men answered the alarm and gave chase. They chased the two for about 8 miles before finally catching up with them and baby Christianna. They were just outside the Indian camp and had they gotten to camp they probably never would have seen the baby again.

The men asked why the Indians had stolen the baby and they answered "To scare white squaw." The men were so angry that they whipped the two Indian men good and told them to let that be a lesson. If it ever happened again they would kill them. The men returned home safely with little Christianna. When they returned to the house they discovered a new baby brother waiting to greet Christianna and her father Christopher. Her mother said this was the happiest day of her life.

They later discovered that that same day a little Heap's girl had been stolen and they never found her. It was a custom for the Indians to steal white baby girls and raise them as Indians. They would later become wives for the chief's sons.