Strangers marveled at the dignity with which my womenfolk did this work. Very soon the hotel was known for its homelike atmosphere and good cooking and it became very popular. Many "drummers" as well as tourists stayed there overnight or for a few days. Holbrook was a commercial center and the main point from which to visit the Petrified Forest. Ella ran the hotel for the year and it paid well. It made it possible to refurnish our home with carpets and furniture and many needed things. During that year in Holbrook our family naturally did missionary work in allaying the prejudice against the Mormon people, and Ella accomplished the primary object of making a home for our mail-driving sons.
[ Note by Pearl: I cherish a memory of childhood about father's drawing plans for a home to be built on our lot in St. Johns. It was a little pastime of his and we edged in on it. One day especially, when a March wind was raging in Round Valley, we all stayed home from school and father didn't work. As we sat around the big center table in front of our corner fireplace, father drew plans to order--"a big living room with a fireplace and bay windows, plenty of bedrooms for all of us and our Conference company, every bedroom with a fireplace in it, and porches galore!" Yes, through many years before 1912 we built many houses on paper for our loved lot in St. Johns. ]
THE ELMS AT ST. JOHNS, 1912--NOW A HOTEL-MOTEL
and stained shingles. A Los Angeles architect furnished the plans and specifications. The family agreed that the house must be large enough to make us all comfortable and to take care of visiting friends from time to time; also that it must be modem and substantial--a "monument," the children said, to our efforts in pioneering.
We arranged with contractor George W. Williams of Thatcher to supervise the construction. Our four older boys were at liberty and anxious to help in every way possible. It was necessary for us to import the building material and for many months one or more of the boys with freight wagons were on the road between Holbrook and St. Johns hauling cement, lumber, shingles and hardware. It was a tremendous task. The boys under Brother Williams' direction made all the cement brick on the ground near the building site; they "tended" the mason and the plasterers; they helped with the carpenter work and laid most of the shingles and the floors. That summer Pearl had come from Thatcher where she had been practicing osteopathy and took over the cooking and management of the household, for neither Ella nor Ida was equal to the job and the other girls were married and living in homes of their own.
In the autumn Ella underwent a serious operation in Los Angeles. Pearl went there to be with her mother at the time and was permitted by those in charge to stay with her day and night. This happened at Conference time and the people of our stake voluntarily fasted and prayed for her on the day of the operation. The Lord heard our prayers and Ella made a good and rapid recovery under the good care of her surgeon and of Dr. Garl H. Pace and Luella, who were living in Los Angeles.
We moved into our new house in the spring of 1912 and it has been home to us ever since, even when circumstances have taken us away from it. It is comfortable, spacious and beautiful. It has been my cherished dream to have the house free from debt and I am thankful to say that we do not owe a dollar on it now. The home truly stands as a "monument" to our years of effort in building up St. Johns, and what I deem more important, it bespeaks the solidarity of our family circle.
I think no one in the family enjoyed the new home more than Ida. She appreciated being near the Academy where the younger sons were in school. Almost every morning at the assembly hour she sat on the porch or by an open window and listened to the music of the band or the choir in which her boys were participating. Her love for all the children recognized no apparent difference between her own and Ella's. This was exemplified the night following an election in 1914 when her son, John H., and Ella's son, Levi, had awkwardly been placed as opponents on different tickets, each running for the same office. (Clerk of Superior Court.) I came home in the early morning hours after the election count had been made and going to Ida's room said, "mother, your son is elected." Rousing herself she sat up in bed and asked, which one, father?" When it proved to be John H., she was so glad that Levi was only a few votes behind.
Ida lived only three years after the new home was completed. On April 26, 1915, she passed quietly to the "Great Beyond." She was visiting at the time with Pauline and Asahel in Hunt. They had cared for her tenderly at intervals throughout her years of affliction. At various times during these latter years she admonished her chil
dren to live the Gospel and always to appreciate their birth in the holy order of marriage and to honor me as their father and a servant of God. She told them to love each other and all their brothers and sisters and above all to be kind and ever grateful to Aunt Ella who had been so untiring and so unselfish in her care of them and their afflicted mother.
Fervently I thank my Heavenly Father for the companionship and love of my dear Ida and for the splendid family which she bore me--one faithful daughter and five stalwart sons. I thank Ella for being true to me and Ida and all our children. In the realm of family affection Ella and Ida stood the major test that plural marriage has to offer. Each mother gained and held the love of the other's children. Each one was loyal to me and taught our sons and daughters to love and honor me as their father and through their training our children seemed to yield obedience easily.
Certainly there were trials and sorrows in those first years of plural family life, but the richness of our compensation overshadows all the heartaches, even of those days when I was in prison; Ida on the underground, and dear Ella alone caring day and night for our little sick Mary for months before she died.
About two weeks before Ida's death the Lyman Dam gave way and our country sustained a terrible tragedy. Six lives were lost. Some Mexican people were left homeless. St. Johns and vicinity were Once more high and dry with only alkaline water running through the Little Colorado River. The reservoir represented a fortune in capital that came from the Denver interests and all that our own
had to give in labor and money over a period of years now became a total
Within a month after Ida's death we were called upon to mourn again. We lost Ruth (Kimball) Udall,
John H.'s beautiful young wife. She left one little son, Nicholas, who was less than two years old. John H. rented his own home very soon after Ruth's death and he and his baby came to live with us.
The next important event in our lives came in connection with the World War. Our sons, David and Jesse, my brother Joseph's son, Gaius, and our son-in-law, Dr. Garland H. Pace, went into the service. We visited our sons while they were encamped and before they went overseas--David in San Diego and Jesse with Gaius in Camp Cody, New Mexico. Garland was a lieutenant in the Medical Corps at Camp Fremont, California. He contracted influenza and for weeks lay at death's door. The Armistice was signed before he recovered. We can say but little about those dreadful days except to voice our gratitude that our boys were preserved to return safely to us. Our three Udall boys were in France for one year; none of them had to go to the front. David remained another six months with the Army of Occupation in Germany.
We succeeded in sending only three of our boys on missions; the two older boys, Grover and David, and our youngest son, Don. The fact that all of the other boys did not have this chance is still a source of regret to us, for everyone of them desired a mission. Had there been fewer dams wash out I think each son would have had that opportunity. As parents we are not unmindful of the fact that all of our children are rendering service in the Church and in civic capacities. We bless them for it.
In April 1922, Apostle Rudger Clawson, President of the Quorum of Twelve, reorganized the St. Johns Stake of Zion. I had often told the presiding brethren to release me at any time they might see fit. It now seemed
good to us to be relieved of the complicated responsibilities we had carried so many years.
Our son, Levi, was called to succeed me. We were very happy in this opportunity that came to him for we knew that it would be for his development and we felt that he would fill the position with honor. I have watched the growth and work in our stake with great joy.
After some thought I decided to see what I could do in dry farming our land west of town. Those who have had public responsibilities realize the difficulties of readjustment to private life. I am honest when I say that I was happy to be released from my public work. I am honest also when I say it was difficult to adjust myself to the change. I felt a loneliness--a lostness for something definite and important to do. My work on the farm "saved the day" for me. With the help of Joe Salazar, during several seasons I planted shade trees and alfalfa, and several crops of sugar cane from which I made some very good molasses. My girls called it "Sunshine Sorghum." Very often during all those busy days mother would say to me in the evening, "well, David, how have you been today?" and usually the reply would be, "as happy as a lark for the alfalfa is growing and the farm looks fine."
Poor, dear Ella! One night as we were returning from the farm she was thrown out of a Ford car and her right arm and wrist were broken in several different places. After a short period of extreme suffering she went to Salt Lake City where Garl and Pearl could look after her. Good surgeons there told the family that from a study of the X-ray plates there seemed to be little hope that she would have good use of her wrist and hand again. Thanks to our faith in the blessings of the Lord, to Ella's courage,
and to Pearl's patience in treating her for many months, she made a very good recovery and has had the use of her hand for these many years.
Reservoirs had to be built to maintain the Mormon people in Arizona and farming was primarily my vocation in life. In those early days in the northern part of the state, with no engineers and in our own way--for we did most of the work by ourselves--we stopped the water from going to the sea. We had no government help and but little Church help. The government did not want to put its money into a proposition as uncertain as impounding water in a country subject to such extremes of droughts and floods. The building of the reservoirs in Apache County, by which means the reclamation of land was made possible, forms one of the most interesting chapters in my practical life. In St. Johns, first came the Little Reservoir, and the Padre Reservoir, as we first called it, built in the early and middle 1880's. Then the "Big Reservoir" at Salado Springs, completed about 1900 was washed away in 1905. Then the rebuilding of that and selling, or merging into the Lyman Reservoir in 1909-1910. Then the loss of that dam in 1915, and the rebuilding of it again.
At one time, the Church made a gift to the saints of St. Johns of $2500, with which we bought wheel scrapers. Later, when the Lyman Irrigation Company was organized, we received credit from it for the moneys thus expended.
During the years we lived in Round Valley a portion of each year was spent with men and teams working on
irrigation projects on the upper reaches of the Little Colorado River. Near Greer will be found the cluster of small lakes known locally as the "Bunch Reservoir," the "Tunnel Reservoir" and the. "River Reservoir" (or Number Three), which we aided in constructing or rebuilding under the able direction of Bishop George H. Crosby.
Our Gentile friends from Denver came to the country in 1909 intending to turn Hunt Valley into a reservoir. They approached me on the subject of selling our prop-
erty in Hunt for that project. I told them of the reservoir possibilities above St. Johns in connection with the St. Johns Reservoir. After an investigation they decided to spend their efforts and money oil the St. Johns proposition and organized the "Lyman Land Company" and the "Lyman Irrigation Company," giving our original company stock for our holdings in the latter company, and our
people contributed labor. The Denver capitalists owned three-fifths of the stock and the local people two-fifths. It first cost $250,000. It was rebuilt after the dam washed out in the flood of 1915, by loans aggregating $750,000 from the State of Arizona. Half of the indebtedness to the state was ultimately cancelled by legislative action upon the theory that the state, having taken over the management of reconstruction was responsible for the excess cost. (Udall v. State Loan Board, 35 Ariz. 1.)
After moving to Hunt at the turn of the century, we, in company with our associates, materially aided in building and rebuilding the "Udall Reservoir" (commonly called Zion's Lake) on the Little Colorado River, some ten miles above Hunt. The breaking of the reservoir above St. Johns in the wet years of 1905and 1915 washed out this dam, leaving our farming lands high and dry.
Ventures Sheep Business:
In 1886, a few weeks after my return from Detroit Prison, Sol Barth greeted me one morning with this question, "Bishop, how would you like to go into the sheep business?" I replied, "Sol, you know I am broke and could not consider such a thing because I have no money." He said, "It won't take any money. You can get them on time--8,000 head at $1.75 per head for old sheep and $1 per head for the young ones, with interest at six or eight per cent."
I made the bargain with him and was reminded of President John Taylor's promise to me in a letter received in prison saying that because of my imprisonment I would not lose the confidence of people. I wrote John and Tommy Stewart (Ella's brothers) about the deal. They came from
Kanab to investigate the matter and we formed a partnership and took the sheep. A little later, not liking the country, they took two-thirds of the herd to the Buckskin Mountains. Then my brother, Joseph, came into the business with me.
Soon after that, our prospects were ruined when President Cleveland's low tariff lowered the value of wool and sheep.* We had one extremely annoying experience after Barth Brothers sold our notes to Lowenthal and Myer in Albuquerque. Through unscrupulous sharp practice the latter brought us into litigation which hung fire for years. It was very expensive for us, but was finally settled by the court in our favor.
In 1888 we turned over our interest in the sheep to Henry Huning as first payment on the old Mill Farm near Springerville. Eight or ten years later I tried the sheep business again in partnership with John P. Wimmer. The seasons and other things were against us, and again the sheep business proved unprofitable to me.
Carrying the United States Mail:
1881, Miles P. Romney and I took a U. S. mail subcontract from Sol Barth,
to carry the mail from Ft. Wingate, New Mexico to Ft. Apache, Arizona,
a distance of two hundred miles, two trips per week at $5,000 per year.
During that year we had the heaviest rains and the deepest snows ever known
in our country. Mother reminds me that it rained forty days in succession
in the autumn. The route was from Ft. Wingate by the Zuni Village to St.
Johns, then by the Romney Ranch, the
*Incidentally, this financial reverse may have been instrumental in making staunch Republicans out of the "Udall Brothers."
Mineral and Cooley's Ranch to Ft. Apache. The trip was made on horseback and we were delayed by the roads, and often could not get through on time. There was a strong anti-Mormon feeling in the country. This was manifested by the postmasters at the government posts who recommended unfair fines on us. We lost heavily in the deal, $1,000 each, but the experience started me in the mail contracting business and for nearly forty years thereafter I had mail contracts with the government.
My second contract was from Navajo Springs to St. Johns and another at the same time from Holbrook to Snowflake. Thereafter, beginning about 1896-1897 the contract was from Holbrook to St. Johns and on to Springerville. For a brief time we carried the mail to Alpine from Springerville, and also from Springerville to Lee Valley, now Greer. Until about 1910, when we tried White trucks and just before we began using Fords, the mail was carried by buckboard from the railroad to St. Johns and from there over several years' period, the mail was carried in a two wheel cart drawn by one horse from St. Johns to Springerville. The man who stayed with us longest as a driver was faithful Isaac Thomas, who drove from Navajo to St. Johns and from Holbrook to St. Johns and back for nearly twenty years--always prompt, always loyal. We could scarcely have carried mail without him.
As soon as my own boys were old enough (and at times we had to stretch a point to let them help before they were sixteen), they did much of the driving between Holbrook and St. Johns. Grover, David, John H., Levi, Jesse, Gilbert, and Don, each in his turn was a "mailpuncher." We did not make big money, but it was money and the business kept us in closer touch with the Outside
world than would otherwise have been possible. It gave my boys work and splendid training in dependability and resourcefulness, it encouraged initiative in them too, and played a part in developing their characters. They carried the responsibility of men while they were only in their middle teens. At times our neighbors criticized us for bidding so low on the route from Holbrook to Eager, but we had to bid low in order to get the contract. We could afford to bid lower than the others because we grew the hay and grain for our horses most of the time and for many years had Hunt as our halfway station.
The securing of bondsmen for the heavy bonds required gave us much anxiety, but we lived up to our contracts by carrying the mail daily and, as much as possible, on schedule year after year, thus giving satisfaction to our bondsmen and to the government.
I think I am safe in saying that few citizens in this United States have had an experience in the mail-contracting business that would match ours--so many years, such extremes of long, continued drought, making horse feed scarce and expensive, and like years of floods and washouts and dangers incident to crossing swollen streams, wallowing through deep snows and often spending many extra hours in making a trip. When these dangers came to our young sons and other drivers employed by us, the mothers had much to worry them. Often it was very trying to the whole family, especially when the schedule required day and night work seven days a week. Sunday driving was always a trial to us as parents, for we believed in observing the Sabbath, but we had to meet government requirements. Thank the Lord, in all our maildriving experience we had but few accidents. We lost by death David Padilla,
a Mexican driver, on a dark stormy night. Apparently from the tracks of the man, the horse and the cart--the driver had lost the road and driven to the edge of a volcanic cliff near Walnut Grove (Richville) when the horse stood still and would not go on and the boy got out of the cart and walked around to the horse's head to lead it and fell off the cliff to his death. This accident led to daytime service, a thing we had often requested of the government.
Some of our contracts ran too low in price, this being especially true during the world war, when horse feed was very high in price. The government always held to the rigid rules though these rules permitted leniency if the postmasters reported our efforts favorably. After my first contract, the postmasters were friendly and made true and fair reports.
Along with the mail business we carried express and passengers. This brought us in contact with the traveling public. Over the line passed lawyers, judges, politicians, schoolteachers, government officials in many lines, traveling salesmen and last but perhaps most important, Church officials. This gave our boys an opportunity to become acquainted with many of our leaders and occasionally to meet ministers and priests of other Churches. The Catholic Priest at St. Johns had an annual free pass over our lines. In the main, the boys were thrown with high-class people. Often we were able to assist, comfort and cheer the sick and needy among us by transporting them without charge to and from the railroad. For some years we kept a home-hotel in Hunt where passengers stayed with us overnight. The money received from them helped
the family bank account to the amount of hundreds of dollars annually.
Ella and Ida did their full part in maintaining the mail driving, the passengers and express business. Without their cooperation we should have failed. They kept the little boys on the job of feeding and watering mail horses, and that was not easy either in St. Johns or Hunt. They cooked for passengers and provided clean and comfortable beds for them. They assisted with making up monthly statements and bookkeeping. Day after day they provided lunches for their sons. One year, 1906-7, Ella lived in Holbrook primarily to provide a home for our lads who had to spend the night in that town which in those days was none too desirable an environment for growing boys. My dear wives worked too hard and I grieved over that fact throughout all those busy years. My callings in the Church took much of my time. Ella and Ida were always loyal to the cause and encouraged me to discharge my Church duties honorably, even when the burden fell most heavily on them. I hope and feel they understood and forgave me for letting them carry such heavy burdens. I think they knew I did all I could to carry my share of the load.
Over a period of fifteen or twenty years there were frequent goings and comings in our family. Going away to school, coming back, going on missions and returning. (How I have regretted that we could not have sent every son on a mission.) Then came the wedding trips to and from Salt Lake City, for all of our eleven children were married in the Temple there. These trips, with my own regular visits to the General Conferences and occasionally trips made by Ella and Ida to Utah as well as to Cali-
fornia, brought into good use and with no extra expense to us our buckboard or auto service to and from the railroad. It was some compensation to us for the sacrifices we had made in keeping the mail-line going.
Much may be read between these lines. An analysis of our mail-contracting business would reveal the inner feelings, the ideals and motives of our hearts. At some future time someone else may add to this little chapter. I have sketched only a background for much that might be written.
Nebo Electric Light and Power Company:
I enjoyed establishing it in the years of 1911-12. We--John P. Rothlisberger and my sons and I purchased an old building put up years before and known as the "Excelsis Roller Mill" site. It is on the bank of the Little Colorado in the northeast corner of town. We put in some good machinery which was run by water power conveyed from the Little Reservoir through the St. Johns Irrigation Company's canal. To make the water power greater we raised the dam of the Little Reservoir, improved and straightened the canal and put a concrete dam in the river at a point above town. This was to our advantage and it also improved the irrigation system and has been of lasting benefit to the community.
We wired a good many of the homes and delivered electricity to them at certain hours in the evening. All lights went off at 11:30 p.m. It was a difficult piece of pioneering, not very popular at first. In 1915 the Lyman Dam broke and interrupted operation, and broke many of the people in town. Then came the war with its problems and economies. Again one of my projects failed,
and in 1922 I sold out to Brother Rothlisberger for $3,000, taking a loss of an equal amount.
[ Pearl's comment: On one of my summer visits to the folks, father proudly took me over to "Nebo" (how be loved that name), to show me the electric plant. For a year or two most of the time he attended to the running of it and stayed there nights to save walking home about midnight in the dark after the lights were turned off. His couch-bed was made up and the Church works and some magazines were on a stand beside it. I remarked on the tidiness of the place and he said, yes, he had always liked things tidy and had tried to teach his boys that way in their camps and bunks on the road or reservoir, but he thought he had not done too good a job. To this day father is very proud of the arc light he placed near the old home which he liked to call the "Elms." I said, "Father, dear, you are true to yourself--always endeavoring to give your people light." He smiled. ]
Previous Chapter: VII My Years
as President, St. Johns Stake
Next Chapter: IX Miscellaneous Items of Historical Value
Main | Contents | Book Cover | Title Pages
Published by Arizona Silhouettes