Clarence Charles Richins was born on June 22, 1884 at Henefer, Summit, Utah to Lorenzo and Lissey Barber Richins. He was the sixth child born in a family of eight. Five boys and three girls.Clarence moved to Grouse Creek when he was twelve years old. His family moved in the spring of the year. When they came down Weber Canyon the river was so high they couldn’t see the path where the one wheel would go because the water was so deep. It was a frightening experience, but the Lord was with them and they had a safe journey.
Ann Eliza Toyn was born at Grouse Creek, Box Elder, Utah, on January 1, 1884. She was the sixth child of David Harry and Martha Jane Davis Toyn. Seven girls and five boys. It was here atGrouse Creek that Clarence and Eliza grew up and were friends. Eliza’s father bought a knoll of ground just north of Uncle Charles Toyn’s house, between there and the John Hadfield place. It was on the west side of the present road. He bought the ground from an Indian who was known as “Indian Jack.” He made a dugout or a large cave in the hillside, and it was here that Eliza was born. Eliza attended school in Grouse Creek, formerly known as Cooksville.
In 1878 the residents built a log tithing granary, fifteen feet square, which had a rock floor and a dirt roof. This building was used for a schoolhouse. Mr. Phillip A. Paskett, the first teacher, received $35.00 a month. A little later, Clara Shaw (married name Frost), taught a summer school in the tithing granary. On April 14, 1884, a school district was organized and teachers were employed by the trustees. They were Annie Gregerson, and Etta Madsen of Brigham City who taught for salaries of $20.00 and $25.00 per month, according to the number of students. Grandma Eliza could remember of going to a school also, which was located just south of where Ted and
Hadfield’s home stood, about one-half mile north of the cemetery. Church was also held in this building for a time. She told of how one day she swallowed a slate pencil, and the teacher had to take her home because she was so afraid this would be the end of her.
Grandmas’ best friend was Louie Paskett (married name Ballingham). They had many happy times together. Later in life when they were each married, they lived neighbors to each other. One of their school teachers was named Henry Blackburn. He expelled Eliza and Louie from school one day because they were playing with the boys and throwing snowballs with them. Grandma walked home from school and when she got there her father was working in the yard. “Is school out early?” he asked. “It is for me!” Eliza replied. She then told her father what had happened. He walked to the corral, saddled his horse and rode off. He soon returned and told Eliza she would get ready the next morning and return to school. And this she did, and continued to throw snowballs. The schoolhouse that is still being used was built in 1912.
As a young woman Eliza worked Summers helping Mrs. Sam (Isadora) Kimball cook for the hay men. She received $1.50 a week. She also worked for Annie, Mrs. M.E. Wakefield (my other grandmother) at the time her children were born.
Eliza was an active member of the LDS Church. She especially enjoyed working with the children, and always worked in the Primary. (In January 1981 I went to the Genealogy building in Salt Lake City and went to the Historical Section and read through the Grouse Creek records. It had on record there that the Primary Associations of the Latter-day Saint Church Presidency was changed in 1900 and Elizabeth Simpson was sustained as President with Sara Betteridge as first counselor and Miss Ann Eliza Toyn as second counselor, and Miss Ellen Kimber as secretary.) This quality makes her a very special grandmother, and all the children find it easy to love her.
Clarence Richins asked Eliza for a date one day, and Clarence’s friend, Frank Paskett, wanted them to find a date for him so they could all go together. They went to get Kate Lucas. She told them she wouldn’t go with Frank, but she’d go with Clarence. So they traded and Grandma went with Frank and Clarence went with Kate. This is only Eliza’s true nature. She always helped look out for those around her. I suppose this is one of the reasons Clarence fell in love with her. One of the things they used to do for dates was attend basket dances. The women would pack a lunch and put it in a decorated basket or box. At the dance all the lunches were put on a table and they were auctioned off. Dances were held then for all occasions and everyone would go. They would turn the benches backwards to the wall so the children and babies wouldn’t fall off, and make a bed so the little ones slept while the dancing was going.
The grandchildren never called Clarence grandpa. We always call him Dad Richins. In lots of ways he seemed too young to be called grandpa. You could always find Clarence in the middle of the kids whether he was playing marbles, or any kind of ball or mumble peg with a pocketknife. He was always whittling something with a pocketknife and was really good at making whistles out of willow trees. I don’t remember hearing him called Clarence either. Everyone called him Robin. I wondered about this and upon asking found out. He, as a boy, had a favorite grey sweater and a red bandana, and he wore it all the time. It gave him the nickname “Robin” because he looked like one. This nickname stayed with him all his life.
On December 24, 1902, Eliza and Clarence Richins were married. They were married in the old rock house that was Clarence’s home. Phillip Paskett married them, and Jenny Gilbert and Frank Paskett were the witnesses. Her wedding dress was made by Emm Gilbert. It was princess style and made of Hepatica. It had a large flounce on the bottom and was cream color. It had long sleeves and a high collar with a bow on the side. Her trousseau consisted of homemade quilts and things she had made. They hosted a dance that Christmas eve and what a wonderful time was had by all. The custom of giving presents didn’t exist then and although Clarence hosted the dance, no presents were given.
Following their marriage they lived with Clarence’s folks in the old rock house. Clarence and Eliza built their first home on the hill just west of the rock house on the east side of the road. It had two rooms. After living here for a while, they homesteaded a place up Pine Creek canyon. They moved the two room house up to Pine Creek. Many happy times were had in this home. There was plenty of water, and they raised a garden and had corn so high it was to Grandpa’s head. They also raised turkey, red wheat, and grain.
They now had four children: Roland Charles, Lorenzo (Lois) David, Hilda Arvilla, and Ina Vilate. Working together they fenced their ground. All too soon the children were ready for school, so Clarence built a one room home across the road from where their two rooms used to set before moving them to Pine Creek. This home was on the west side of the street, south of George Blanthorn’s corral. Here they stayed in the winter during school and lived Summers in Pine Creek.
In 1913 smallpox broke out in Grouse Creek. There were seventy-four cases but not a single death occurred. Uncle John Hollinger nursed them. He helped others, too, but would come every evening and catch up on whatever needed doing.
They could not take food, bedding or anything from one house to another because of spreading the disease. When the stage came one day, it dropped off three cases of whiskey. The people used it for medicine and it helped save their lives. The Uncle John mentioned was the one who chose my mother Hilda’s name when she was born.
One of Clarence’s prize possessions was a black monarch rooster. He used to like to chase or fight anyone around, especially grandma. One day after fast meeting, Grandma Eliza was busy peeling potatoes so as to get dinner ready in a hurry for her hungry family. All at once she heard a loud commotion and run to see what was going on. The kids were up a tree yelling and the rooster was on the ground squawking.
One day as grandma was hanging out clothes, the rooster approached, ready for a fight. She said, “You ol bird, I’ve had enough,” and she grabbed a wet towel and popped it at him. Well, she did a very good job. She wrapped around his neck and rolled him over and over. The old rooster decided he’d had enough and retreated.
One time when they were visiting in Wendover, a friend gave LaVon a billy goat. He was such a cute little kid. Cute he was until he became older, and his whole disposition changed. Whenever he could catch anyone, he’d lower his head and butt them. Finally they locked him in the big corral. The only thing wrong with this arrangement was that the chicken coop was also in the corral, so whenever you went to gather the eggs, two of you had to go. One of you had to go around to the west side of the corral so billy would run to chase you, then the other could run and get in the chicken coop. One day a man was visiting and wanted to buy billy. Grandma was so glad to get rid of him, she “gave” him to the man.
Eliza used to tell us about when Grandma Francis Harriet Toyn used to come for a visit. They would do the usual cleaning for company, but never made up the bed. She loved her own feather bed so much that no matter where she went to stay, she would always take her own feather bed with her. It was said about Grandma Toyn’s mother (Sophia Adams Toyn) that she was a true Yankee, so I guess she brought up Grandma Toyn to be a real lady, and real particular.
I will mention a few of the things about early Grouse Creek that Grandma mentioned to me as we talked one day about the things she remembered. She said that Uncle Albert Richins was the first store keeper. It was part of the house across the lane from the old ball park. There was once a store located where Bill Mateas’ house now stands. It was owned by Jorgensens. He had fourteen beds upstairs for people to rent. This store burned down in 1927. There was a Betteridge store where Bishop Merlin Tanner now lives. This store also burned down. Jim Betteridge was also ward clerk and when this store burned all the church records burned. Also at one time Charlie Lucas had a store where Martha and Ted Kimber lived. Eliza told of at one time there being a log church built where the present church sands. They held dances and theaters here. George Blanthorn (Kids’ father) was the one who put on the theater. Aunt Francis Cook was the leading lady, and Jim Cook was the villain. Aunt Francis said, “If Jim persists in taking the part of the villain, I’m going to divorce him.” Jim took playing this part so serious she was afraid he would carry it over into real life.
Grandma told us that she was baptized in the Big Pine Creek. This was the main creek that ran through Grouse Creek. It was the old wash that I remember as a kid, but at that time it was empty. She said Louie Paskett Ballingham and Frank Paskett were baptized at the same time.
In 1915 a salesman came to Grouse Creek. He hired Clarence to take him around to the towns surrounding Grouse Creek. When he was ready to go home, he had become so fond of one of Clarence’s teams of horses that he wanted to buy them. This team was called “Jim and Dick” and he paid $400.00 for them. With part of this money Eliza and Clarence got their family ready to go to the temple. They with the four children boarded the train at Lucin and road into Ogden. They stayed at the old Broom Hotel that used to stand on the corner of Washington and 25th Street. They rode on the old Bamburger railroad to Salt Lake City to the temple. That night when they returned from Salt Lake City they were robbed of all the money they had left, $51.00. They had their return train tickets home. So they caught the train home that night.
Nevertheless this was a wonderful experience for which they were very grateful. Their three girls that followed in birth, Martha Lissy, Louella Ann and Mary LaVon, were born under the covenant, and they would always have their children in this life and the life to follow. Luella Ann was born on March 17, 1921 and died on March 26, 1921.
When LaVon was a baby and Martha was four years old they moved into Eliza’s father’s home. LaVon was born in August of 1925 and Grandmother Martha Jane Toyn died in October. Eliza felt she was needed to take care of her father, and brother Dave, who was living at home. This was a large sandstone house, with four large rooms, a pantry and a washroom. It had a full basement under it. On the west end a wooden addition had been built with one large room and two small rooms. Uncle Dave lived in this part of the house. David Harry Toyn died on May 29, 1938, and they continued to live here. This is the same home located directly to the west of the school. Some of the happy memories of living in this home follows:
One day Aunt Harriet Toyn came to visit them. There was a large crowd of relatives and friends who had come to visit also. Aunt Harriet decided to walk up to the potato cellar and get some apples to eat. When she got there, she noticed someone had left the door open. This had been noticed by someone else, also. As she was going down the slope into the cellar, a large pig decided he’d better come out. He was so fat that when he tried to run through Aunt Harriet’s legs, he got stuck. All of those visiting had a great time viewing the results. Here was Harriet riding backwards around the yard on the pig. She had hold of his tail and didn’t dare let loose for fear she would hurt herself by falling off. The pig was squealing at the top of his voice. She rode until the pig was so tired he stopped, then she calmly got off.
The things I remember best about this beautiful old home was the big lawn, the green gage plum trees, the curved bed of Cosmo flowers and the vegetable garden. The lovely shade trees that bordered the north side of the lawn next to the road were the home for many beautiful blue birds. I have not seen any since my childhood there and will always remember them. I remember the first vegetables of the garden. Tiny little carrots, potatoes, and peas, scraped very carefully and creamed in a special white sauce that no one else could make as good as grandma. I remember Dad Richins using the old one wheel cultivator to make the rows so straight, before the seeds were dropped in, and the big wooden wheel barrow that was used for everything from hauling milk cans to helping with the gardening, and sometimes a ride which was lots of fun. I guess I was privileged to spend a great deal of my time here because LaVon and I were the same age (a year and a half difference).
I never have creamed vegetables, smell cosmos, see a picture of a bluebird, or taste the first green gage plum of each year that I don’t recall memories of this beautiful old home and feel the lovely warmth of Grandma’s and Dad’s love.
Eliza was a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother. Everyone was always welcome in her home. She loved the work she did and her home showed it. Everything was always in its place. She had a big old black shiny stove with a warming oven on the top, one cupboard, and a separate pantry that held dishes and everything she used in the kitchen. She never owned a washing machine, all her washing was done on a scrub board, but I never ate a meal at her house when there wasn’t a clean tablecloth on the table. She made clothes for her family by hand for many years, and then got an old treadle machine. When her youngest was fifteen she got a new treadle machine and dearly loved it. She was well known for her fine meals, as Leona Carson once said she prepared from almost nothing to taste better than banquets. Her sugar cookies were heavenly. She measured all the dry ingredients, cut in the shortening as if making pie crust, beat the eggs and added with the milk and baked them a golden brown. They were stored in the pantry in a large silver colored tin, which at one time contained marshmallows. This must have been the secret to them being so fresh and always being there when you wanted one.
We went on many outings gathering choke cherries, and had fishing trips. We had many special dinners cooked in dutch ovens over an open fire. Dad Richins would always make us tomato duff. He would put a large can of tomatoes in and mash them with a potato masher; then add sugar, cinnamon and cloves, and bring to a boil. He would then make biscuits and drop them by a teaspoon on the top, put the lid on and cook them. We all looked forward to these outings and special times.
Their first car was a Model T Ford. They bought it the year Martha was a baby, in November of 1917. But even after the car arrived Clarence never lost his love of horses. His famous Charlie horse was invited to ride in the Brigham City Peach Day Parade. He always took pride in the way his horses looked. One of the families favorite horse was Dobbin. Grandma would put the kids on his back and go to do her visiting or wherever she had to go. He saved her lots of work. One of the grandchildren’s favorites was Benny. He never cared how many children rode at once. We have a picture with six at a time on his back.
Clarence was made County Deputy Sheriff in 1929, and held this office for twelve years. He drove the mail from Lucin for many years, and through the winter months would have to use a sleigh. He was also water master for many years.
He always helped with the school and community sports. He loved working with the young people and had the ability to show the children how to improve their sports. He always attended the track meets between the county schools and was always willing to help with coaching or umpiring.
One of his greatest assets was that he was proud of what he had and his possessions were treated as such. He was looked up to by everyone. He took charge of parking cars at all the funerals. Just a short time before he died, he helped coach his twin grandsons Dick and Bob Wakefield when they played ball at Washington Terrace and Weber High School.
When his health became bad, they moved to Ogden, where he died on September 25, 1950. He was interred in the Grouse Creek Cemetery. I will always remember him riding “Old Benny,” with his little green willow in hand.
After Clarence’s death Eliza had a hard time finding things to do with all her time. She lived with her daughter LaVon in Salt Lake City for a time. Here her eye sight was pretty good and she spent many hours making hairpin lace shawls and baby blankets.
She spent time living with Hilda in Roy. She loved the grandchildren and great grandchildren around her. She lived for a time with Rhea Toyn and Myrtle Toyn who were both very kind to her. She also lived with her daughter Ina in a home they shared in Roy. Finally as her health became quite bad she went to live at the Weber Memorial Hospital in Roy. Here she met Florence Browning and they became very good friends. She made other great friends here. Her granddaughter Fay, living in Roy, visited her daily and was a great blessing to her. Fay’s daughters also visited and took her pictures they had made in school and extended much kindness and love to her.
While grandmother was staying at the Weber Memorial Hospital in Roy, Utah, I had many good visits with her. Her mind stayed alert and she loved to visit and reminisce about the past. One afternoon as my mother Hilda Wakefield and my sister Fay were visiting with her, we took notes, and other experiences I had written in my diary and letters; I decided to write this tribute. All of the above information and dates are documented on my best knowledge.
To celebrate her 91st birthday, the Wakefield grandchildren hosted an open house in her honor. It was held in the large reception room at Weber County Memorial Hospital. Many relatives and friends attended. Birthday cake was served with ice cream to the large crowd. Leona Wakefield Carson entertained on the piano and played a lot of Grandma’s favorite old songs. Leona used to play for the dances held years ago at Grouse Creek. I took my accordion and played the songs Grandma liked to hear. Grandma really enjoyed visiting with all those present and their attendance was a wonderful tribute to her.
In all of her ninety-two years, I have never heard her say an unkind thing about anyone. She has always been considerate of the nurses around her who wait on her, and those who visit. It would truly be wonderful if the world could use her example and do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.
Eliza died on Monday, October 18, 1976, in the Weber Memorial hospital in Roy. She was interred in the Grouse Creek Cemetery.
Arlene Wakefield Munns
Brigham City, Utah