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By Amy Carroll Stark
Also found at http://carroll.cjb.net
The wagon was piled high with furniture, a team of bay horses standing patently by. The door of the small shanty stood open and busy adults carried small last items to be tucked here end there. "A11 ready" Father called as he lifted me to the spring seat beside my mother, I waved good-bye to the group of folks and neighbors and thrilled to joyful expectancy as the horses responded to "Git up, Dick, Pomps" and we were off to the Section.
This is my first memory. It was May, 1906 and I was three and a half years old. My second is of Amelia and me running through all the empty, echoing rooms, soon discovering a door that opened to a long flight of stairs leading to the attic, climbing to the top, tripping over my own chubby clumsiness, and falling back down. The Section house was a large one for those days, the largest dwelling house in the Valley. It was built for the convenience of the farmers of the United Order who worked the lower valley and cove fields. Two or three families lived in it at the same time, my sister Kezia and brother Charley being among them. It was named the "Section House" for no other reason than that it was built on a certain section of land, which one I never learned.
There were six rooms on the ground floor and three large unfinished ones in the attic. In the center was a large living room, with an adobe fireplace and a convenient closet close by for wood. In back of this room was the kitchen, long and not so wide, with two windows and an outside door. The rooms on each end of the house were used for bedrooms, four in all.
And were we lucky, for Father brought eight of his thirteen living children when he moved to the farm. It must have seemed like a palace to him and Mother, moving as they did from their small United Order shanty. Their home in Heber, too, was small, only three rooms, a hall, and a summer kitchen, yet it was in this small house that ten of their children had been born. The first two, Kezia and Charley, were born in Provo. Irene, the ninth in number, died of whooping cough when three weeks old. This made a family of eleven when they moved from Heber to be objects of interest and curiosity as they were unloaded on a warm May day in 1878 to become members of the United Order at Orderville. By the time Amelia and I came along, the five oldest members of the family were married, and we in no way ever felt we over crowded the family living space.
In order to be nearer his several pieces of farmland, Father made a trade of other property for the Section House. It was a mile south of town; set back from the road about two rods. It faced southeast, for that is the way the valley lies. There was an acre or more of fenced enclosure, ample room for garden plots and the orchard Father was soon to plant.
A flower garden graced each side of the wide path leading from the front gate: first a row of flags; then spicy carnations; colorful snapdragons; yellow and orange French marigolds; vari-colored zinnias; tall, white cosmos and, flanking each side fence, a row of hollyhocks--oh the bees and bumble bees we have caught in them! Below the porch there was a low terrace where we planted our morning-glories and watched them climb to the roof on evenly spaced and tightly-stretched strings. The thick row of fragrant four-o'clocks below them were of all hues and colors, and as evening came on we often picked a profusion of them to make our many petty-coated party dolls. There is really no end to the variety of "original" costumes we created. What fun and what memories To this day the smell and sight of four-o'clocks transports me back to childhood and the Section; and through the years in each of our separate gardens, there could be found a row of blooming four-o'clocks.
Two tamarack trees were planted, some distance apart, by the front fence, south of the flower garden. They were started from twigs Brother Pugh of Kanab had given Father just as he was ready to return home after a March conference. Each spring we thrilled to their feathery leaves and flowers, the latter a delicate lilac-pink. These two trees struggled bravely for survival long after all other signs of human occupancy had been obliterated from the scene. Before it was too late, I provided for their continuance by rescuing a slender limb and transplanting it in a corner of our lot in town. It is still alive and blooms profusely each returning spring.
May and June never come, but what I see and smell the roses at the Section. They covered the front fence on each side of the gate: large pink ones; two white, including a moss rose, and a deep, deep red one, the blossoms small but thickly doubled; then the yellow roses which were the first to bloom. We watched them from the tiny bud until they showed color, then gradually burst into full bloom making the heavily loaded bushes thick with a fragrance I can still recall any time, any place.
We thoroughly enjoyed the flower garden, for many of our summer evenings were spent on the large front porch, Father and Mother sitting in chairs, the breeze was cool, I would snuggle close to Mother to be gathered into the comforting shelter of her ample tie apron. We could look across the valley over green fields or fields ripe for the harvests across the willow lined creek in the distance, over to Sugar Knolls and to the tree-fringed crest of White Mountain, where it etches its uneven line against the blue, blue sky. A quiet, peaceful contentment was all about us, in the atmosphere and deep in our hearts. This was our home and we felt happy, contented and secure.
From the very edge of the back door yard there was a rather steep incline to the Cove irrigation ditch, for the part of two hills were fenced inside the ample lot. It was a whole world of fantasy for four imaginative young girls with time on their hands. Trees were domiciles for "Brother Farmer" and "Mr. Meredith", living the width of the lot apart. Each home was swept clean by sagebrush brooms, rock chairs were provided for comfort, and the rooms were decorated with Wild flowers. Nature also arranged shrubs in handy convenience for houses with several rooms, even spaces left for doors. In these we spent many hours playing with our china dolls and our large families of homemade rag dolls. We journeyed them over rough unbroken roads from one fence to the other in shoebox wagons pulled by a long cord. We took them on picnics to vacation spots where green grass formed an Oasis of tall rushes, meadow grass, scented mint, daisies and dandelions. These flourished in level spots by the side of the small ditch from which we carried water for household use. The water came from the big ditch, and when we were not using it, we turned it off to increase the flow of the field stream.
Above the ditch we built the two doll-sized mountain cabins made with new shingles. Each had a front door and one end window. There were boat-riding facilities for our "doll rags" just at the dooryard's edge, the boats being scraped out halves of water melon. They served well, too, except when occasionally they were drawn into the rapids; then it took expert maneuvering to keep them right side up. I don't remember any fatalities.
Two large cottonwood trees grew near the head gate of the little ditch running down to the house. Under their shade we sat and talked or read or played, our slatted or stiffly starched gingham sunbonnets lying on the ground near by. We made milkweed flowers, caught donkey-devils, or watched blue bottles skim lightly over the surface of the slowly moving stream. Almost every summer afternoon as soon as dinner was over, especially if the grandchildren were there, we coaxed to go in swimming but we had to wait a full hour before permission was granted lest it interfere with our digestion.
In springtime the hill blossomed gaily with hosts of yellow sego lilies, wild onions, sweet Williams lady's-slippers, and flaming fire posies. Across the ditch, to our delight, redbells and bluebells ventured through the fence growing straight and tall by the wild crab apple bushes that blossomed so pungently fragrant in their pink and white loveliness. Squawberry and serviceberry bushes, weeds and wild roses enlivened the more prevalent sagebrush that grew so thriftily all about us.
The Living Room
Each spring we gathered these early blossoms for a large table bouquet, the last touch to our spring house-cleaning. First Emma, then Ella, took active charge of this spring ritual, but we were all conspicuously in the act from de-nuding the room, to scrubbing the woodwork and floors to a sparkling finish, polishing the windows and all the glassware, taking a sheet to the straw stack at the barnyard and filling it "full" with the cleanest straw available, "and be sure you shake off all the Chaff!" Ella and Julia tacked down the edges of the homemade rag carpet over the straw padding, but Amelia and I did our full share of pulling and stretching. When we first moved to the Section we had only bare floors all through the house, but we carpeted the front room as soon as possible. A newly-stretched carpet over straw is the most enticing place imaginable for an after-dinner nap.
About the time we got the carpet, we also afforded long, lace curtains. They were easily washed, stretched and hung, and were, oh, so elegant. A light calico curtain camouflaged the "goods-box" dressing stand, the top covered with a scarf of white cambric edged with wide, knit lace. Above this hung the mirror with the comb case underneath. This was a familiar spot for Amelia and me, for daily we stood by -- patiently or impatiently--while our long, thick hair was unsnarled, brushed, braided and be-ribboned by Mother or Ella.
There were pictures on the wall and a motto, "What is Home Without a Mother". The cupboard, with glass doors and painted gray, stood in a nook between the fireplace and the front window. To me it was a colorful decoration with all our best dishes on display. In the center on the top shelf was the larger blue willowware platter brought from England in 1854 by Grandfather and
Also in a conspicuous place was a tall-stemmed fruit dish with a lid to cover, knobbed and scalloped and etched with frosted leaves - a gift from Aunt Betsy, Mothers oldest sister. Thin china and glassware were to replace the thick earthenware as time and Mother's birthdays and Christmases rolled by -- beautiful painted plates, cups and saucers, glass pitchers, butter and honey and fruit dishes, novelty hen and rooster sets of bronze and white glass. Mother's cupboard was always a delight to me, both by sight and smell. She kept her spices in the lower part, and every time the doors were open, we got an elusive whiff of the far-away Orient from whence they came.
The mantle above the fireplace was centered by the dependable clear-toned clock. No one but Father was allowed to wind its and he was very particular to do it with split-second timing -- at 9:10 A.M. every Sunday morning. Like milking the cows, it did better when attended to with punctual regularity. Next to the clock, on each side, were tall, matching vases, with smaller ornaments in orderly arrangement -- the red and white earthen dogs, engraved cups; small vases, green and white, containing bouquets of paper flowers.
A fireplace in a room is the natural focal point around which the family gathers. Our's was a generous one, and in the cool weather of spring or autumn, or the biting sting of the long winter months, the pine logs fed the bright yellow flames, filling the room with light and warmth and cheer.
We circled its hearth in prayer every morning, and Father's well-remembered words still linger in our memories. He gave thanks "above all for the Gospel and for a home in these peaceful valleys." He asked for God's blessings "on the labor of our hands, upon the fields and gardens, the flocks and herds; especially upon the authorities of the Church, the missionaries, and those honorable men who represent us in the halls of congress." He prayed for the "poor, the needy, the sick and afflicted, the earth and the elements and all that pertains unto us." He never rushed his prayers, as some are tempted to do, and as we school children often wished he would. We had a mile to walk to school and would have felt scandalized had we been late; so I hope it won't discredit our record of piety if we often glanced surreptitiously at the clock on the mantle to note the slow passing of five long minutes before the final "Amen".
During the winter evenings there was always someone to say, "let's parch corn." So when there was a deep bed of hot coals devoid of flame or smoke, George or Ed did the honor wielding the long handled black fry pan. We girls would shell a panful of carefully selected ears, sweeping up the waste kernels for the chickens. This was Father's idea, "waste not, want not", was all he needed to say. The one-fourth Irish (or was it one-half) in Father slyly placed potatoes or an onion into the bot ashes or hollow andirons; so Father ate potatoes while we children made way with the corn. After the orchards started to bear, a large pan of apples--pearmains, Jonathans, Ben Davises, and greenings--was brought down from the partitioned bins upstairs.
These diversions in no way interfered with our studies. Each one of us took his own responsibility for preparation of the lessons for the following school day. Amelia and I liked to study our spelling and reading before dark. We had to go over our reading lessons five or ten times aloud, or until we could read it "word perfect." They were not long assignments, one or two pages, or if it were a poem, we had to have it memorized for the next day. I seem to remember Emma studying the longest and hardest but, of course she was the oldest of the eight children that moved to the Section. Our official bedtime was 9:00 P.M., but Emma often sat up until eleven or twelve and seemed to enjoy it. Not so George--he would rather tease the rest of us than to study.
We also had some time for games -- blind man's buff, pussy wants a corner, pretty bird in my cup, and button, button, who wants a button. Father enjoyed a game of checkers with the older boys but I don't remember Mother ever joining in our play.
Father was a prodigious reader and often read aloud some interesting thought or episode. Jane remembered that while living in Heber, he took the New York Ledger and read stories aloud to those who cared to listen. She was always one of them.
Father often reached for the almanac hanging on a nail at the end of the mantle. He studied it thoroughly: the household remedies, the zodiac, the location of the Big and Little Dippers, the Milky Way, the Pleiades, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and Venus, and which were the morning and evening stars at a particular season. He would take us out at night, summer or winter, to point out to us what was "going on in the heavens above us." He noted and commented on the changes of the moon, the sun, the equinox, the seasons, and acquainted us with the fact that the moon made four trips north each year and the sun but one. To this day I thank him for this brief introduction to astronomy.
He sometimes related his past experiences about his home in Canada--the farms that his father, his brothers, William and Patrick, and himself had established on the outskirts of New Hampton in New Brunswick. It was called Carroll's Ridge. The best description of those early memories is found in the Journal of his oldest son Willard. From this I quote:
I was born May 10, 1840 at a backwoods place called Carroll's Ridge, British Province of New Brunswick, Canada -- Post Office, Fredericton. My grandfather, Patrick O'Carroll, with his wife Ann Negus and his sons William, Charles Negus, and Patrick cleared farms adjoining each other.
There I was born and there I remained till I was six years of age. On May10, 1854, my birthday, we took the Steamer "John Warren" on the St. John's River for our start to Utah. Father was presiding elder of the branch in South Hampton and was put in charge of a company of fifty-seven converts on their way to Zion.
I have slight recollection of our home, except that it was a large log house with an upper room reached by a ladder, a large porch facing East with a woodshed. The stable for stock was north toward Grandfather's place. A meadow surrounded the house, and a path led to the spring at the foot of a hill close by.
The recollections I have of home are of seeing men shovel roads through snowdrifts, which, when a pole was laid across, a load of hay on a sled could be driven under the pole; of seeing my father and my mother's brother, James McInelly, mowing in the meadow and hauling hay to the barn on a sled; of seeing a bear killed by grandfather and Uncle William; of being spanked and put to bed by my mother for taking my little brother George upstairs to swing while she was away and had told me not to do so; of being sick and lying in a lumber cradle, and my mother, as she passed back and forth doing her work, teaching me the hymn, "Come All Ye Sons of Zion." I have never forgotten that hymn. I cannot remember When I learned to read.
I remember going aboard the steamer, and of being sick. I remember landing at St. Louis, Mo., and the camp ground at Ft. Leavenworth, where my mother died of cholera, also my brother, Frederick, and my sister, Emma, they three being buried in one grave.
I remember that start by ox team, but not much of the Journey across the plains, as I was very sick. My brother, George died two weeks after we started the westward trek by team, leaving my father and myself as the only survivors of our family of six. I was so sick and wasted I could not sit up. The days were hot and sultry, and I had no energy, not even enough to brush the flies from my face.
Father was so worn out with loss of sleep and grief and sorrow, that he could scarcely care for our needs and those of the oxen. He often crawled into camp on his hands and knees being too exhausted to stand up and walk. All the long and weary way across the plains he had to lean heavily on the yokes of his oxen for support.
The above extract from Willard's Journal gives the only bit of local color to Fathers first family and home--now, over a hundred years from the writing of this sketch. I treasure this brief backward glance into their home, their lives, their struggles and sorrows, their faith and courage. There is much more we could have learned from Father as he reminisced around the family hearth, had we only realized then how interesting and valuable his experiences would be to us; and how much we would want it when it was too late.
While Father talked to us, or read, and we children listened or studied, Mother sat on the opposite side of the hearth, with her mending basket filled with clothes to be mended--socks to be darned, and stockings and mittens to be knitted. Knitting all the hosiery for a family of ten was, in itself a major project. We girls learned young to give Mother helpful assistance for "idle hands are the devil's workshop". Father's equally potent advice to the boys was, "Find something to do. It is better to dig post holes and fill them up than to lie around wasting your time in idleness". We were not always convinced.