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Recorded by Helen M. Smith
June 20, 1938

I was born in Greenriver, Utah, July 29, 1867. I lived the more or less uneventful life of the “Mormon” child until I was nine years old, when I was crippled with rheumatism.  We wore hand-knit heavy stockings and heavy shoes to school. Someone had been irrigating and the road was under water. I sat all day in school with my shoes and stockings soaked, and have walked on crutches all the rest of my life in consequence.

I was married in Utah in 1888, and shortly after we started for Arizona, in company with other of our relatives. There were seventeen in the party in all, and two babies were born before we arrived at our destination. We traveled slowly by team with many halts along the way. At last we reached Litchfield in Arizona, our destination. There was a small—very small—settlement there. We lived in log houses, one of which my family shared with my sister’s family.

We had brought some flour with us, but the supply was exhausted long before our wheat crop could be utilized. We had a small supply of bran, which at first we sifted, using the finer flour this obtained, but we were later glad to eat the black, heavy bread made from the coarse bran left after the sifting. We really suffered for bread for a while. As soon as the wheat showed the first signs of ripening we gathered the grains and ground them in a coffee mill. There was much rejoicing when at last we really could have good bread again.

While at Litchfield—it was called Beaver Dam then—we all fell ill with malaria, which was very bad. The whole settlement suffered a great deal. In my case the only ameliorating circumstances I can recall was that my sister and I had our chills and fever on alternate days and, living in the same cabin, we managed to keep the household going and still be ill, not in comfort, but knowing that the family would be looked after to some extent even though we were not able to do it ourselves.

I remember one queer incident while we lived there, an incident which I would not believe if I had not seen it, and which I never could get my husband to accept. Both he and my sister’s husband were absent; I was doing the housework and my sister was irrigating. Suddenly she rushed into the house breathlessly, closing the door behind her hastily. She looked very frightened.

“What is the trouble?” I asked her hurriedly; thoughts of Indians in the back of my head.

“A snake,” she replied quickly. “It followed me to the house, and is after me now. It ran under the house when I ran in!”
“Well, it can’t get in. That is one consolation,” I answered.

She looked at a knot-hole in the floor. “I’m sure it will come through that hole. I tell you it was after me,” she said stubbornly.
I had scarcely got the words out of my mouth when the snake thrust its head through the knothole. My sister turned pale, I grabbed one of the babies asleep in the room and pushed her before me into the other room, closing the door firmly behind us. Here we stayed until the return of the men. We heard the snake in the other room for a few minutes, but no trace was to be found when the men searched. My sister was firmly convinced that the snake had been in pursuit of her, and it was some days before she forgot her fear.

At Litchfield bad luck seemed to pursue us. When we lost our best horse, that seemed to be the last straw. We gave our remaining foods—few, and not of much account—to my father-in-law, and returned to Utah. Two children were born to us there, but the other eight were all Arizonans. We returned to Arizona in 1892, going this time to Bryce on the Gila River. Bryce was another very small settlement. We were obliged to build our own dwelling as best we could. Our first house there was made of upright posts and poles, plastered with mud. We had a dirt roof and a dirt floor. Unappealing as this picture may seem, it was in reality the picture of a very fine home at that time in that locality, for my house had several unusual features. In the first place, I had a good stove, and a bed. I also had plenty of good respectable bedding. In the second place, I boasted wall paper! What if it was old magazines and newspapers! Most people there had nothing like it.

We had our little adventures there, too. The children slept on a pallet on the floor, which I habitually placed just in front of my trunk, of which I was very proud. One morning in taking up the pallet I discovered that, whereas the children had slept in front of the trunk, a large rattlesnake had slept behind it.

Another snake adventure occurred while my husband was irrigating. He always kept his pants legs down while irrigating, while everyone else I ever saw rolled them up. I remonstrated with him without avail, since he always said he didn’t want to get his legs sunburned. This habit of his probably saved his life on this occasion. An enormous rattlesnake struck at his leg with such violence that it required a very determined effort to ‘loose’ its fangs from the leg of his overalls. After that I never mentioned his rolling up his pants legs while irrigating.

On another occasion we had quite a scare. A mad wildcat came through the one door of the house, frothing at the mouth, clawing and scratching at everything with which it came in contact. We were lucky enough to avoid being bitten while leaving the house to the cat. We made a most hurried exodus and I got the children to a place of safety—Mr. Higgins was away from home. Eventually the cat left the house. Our experience was repeated in one or two other homes, and men finally mounted horses and rode the cat down, killing it. However, such experiences were common enough to pioneer families, and nothing to get excited about after all.

Eventually we built a little church at Bryce, and I served as secretary of the Primary there, and also taught in Sunday School. I was glad that my children could have the privileges of church and Sunday School, and we always attended in spite of my affliction.

We prospered in worldly ways too, until a series of accidents so discouraged us that we moved. Mr. Higgins had just completed enough adobes for a nice size house for us, the work of his spare time for a great many months. We had done well that year, and it seemed that we were to become prosperous and settled at last. He had many hundred pounds of grain bedded down in our big straw stack, ready to market, and which would bring him a good price. Suddenly disaster came. The straw stack caught on fire and all was destroyed. Mr. Higgins was so suffocated by smoke in his attempt to put out the fire that we despaired of his life for several hours. Shortly after this an unusual rain storm brought on a flood which washed away every adobe in our pile. Such a little time is required to bring a year’s efforts to nothing sometimes.

We then moved to Clifton where my husband worked for several years. Shortly after our arrival there—in 1900, I think—there was a big flood, in which twelve persons were drowned. Several years later there was another flood, called the Chase Creek Flood, which did a great deal of property damage. I remember that the new school building had just been finished, and was then totally destroyed.

We came to the Sulphur Springs Valley in 1905, and were one of the first families in the Webb-Whitewater District of that valley. Mr. Crawford’s family was the only other Mormon family there for some time. After our arrival he got permission from the church authorities to organize a Sunday School here. At that time there was no church nor school near. Since there was no school building available, we conducted our Sunday School in our own homes.

We lived in the home of Mr. Elmer D. Harris—his family was living in Tombstone—until we could get a well and a house on our own place, adjoining his. Our nearest store was at Gleeson, ten miles up the mountains. The grass was quite tall, and was at one time the occasion of one of my boys being lost. I was washing clothes, and decided that I should wash the shirt my husband was wearing. I sent my son across to our place where my husband was drilling a well, to tell him to come across and change his shirt. He didn’t come, and the boy did not return, but I supposed he was too busy until Will Weaver came by some  time later saying that he was returning my lost boy. I hadn’t known I had a lost boy, and was somewhat surprised. It was only a few hundred yards from Mr. Harris’ to where the well was being made, but the boy had become confused as to direction in the tall grass. The only thing he could sight was a windmill belonging to Mr. Van Meter. This was some distance away, but he made his way there and was recognized by Mr. Weaver.

However, we soon had a house of our own, and moved to our own place. We raised a garden and sold all not required for our own use in Bisbee. We used to trap cottontail rabbits also, for which Bisbee was a fine market.

I made chow and mustard pickle and got fancy prices for such canned goods. My husband worked at home when he could and away from home when necessary. His wages were a dollar a day, out of which he boarded himself. We worked and schemed in every possible way to get a start. Mr. Higgins was a good brick-maker, and conditions were better for us when he started making brick. Courtland began to boom, and then he was indeed busy. Our family was growing and growing up, and we were glad that school started up soon after we reached the valley.

The first school was called the Soldier Holes School. It was conducted in the home of two old “batches”, the Hodges. A Mr. Bartley was the first teacher. Then the Webb school was opened, quite close to our place. I was one of the first three trustees—appointed—but it was hard for me to attend to my duties, being crippled, and so I did not seek election. I felt that my church duties were all I should attempt, beside raising a garden and attending to my family.

In 1911 the Mormon Church at Whitewater was constructed. It is at present the only church building between Pearce and Douglas. I remember that one year I served as president of the Primary, Sunday School teacher, and second counselor of the Relief Society. Of course there were several Mormon families residing in the valley by that time. I used to drive our one team around every week and collect all the women I could for attendance at Relief Society. Our Primary meetings, for the children, were held in private homes. The children were often obliged to walk long distance to attend, but there was little in the way of amusement, and they came gladly. On one occasion I was to teach at the meeting, which was to be held about two and one half miles from our home. My husband was suddenly called to some work which he felt he could not refuse, and was obliged to take the team. I was determined not to disappoint the children, so I managed to catch a small burro, which I rode to the place of meeting, my crutches held awkwardly under my arms.

In 1902 one of my grandchildren, Birdie Stone, was born, and was the first baby born in this section of the valley, as far as we have ever been able to learn. My daughter, Helen, had the first wedding of this section and the death of another grandchild was the first death among the settlers. I have been widowed for eighteen years, and have lost three children, two after they were grown. I have spent seventy-one years in this world, sixty-one of them on crutches. I have suffered a great deal of pain, but am still active in my home, church, and community, of sound mind and healthy body excepting for my one affliction. I believe that my hard pioneer life is largely responsible for my healthy body, and that I still have some years left in which to enjoy life.

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