I was born on September 26, 1897 to James Douglas and Mary Elizabeth Jackson Toyn, in a little log cabin at the north end of Grouse Creek, above the Hadfield place. I was the third child of a family of six, four sisters May, Jennie, Ruby and Pearl and one brother, Dick.
I don’t remember anything of my first home where I was born, as we must have moved when I was quite small.
My Dad and Uncle Dave Douglas bought the Eager Parson Ranch, which now is where Ross Warburton lives. We moved there shortly after I was born. The first house we lived in was part of the old original house. About three years later Dad built a log house with a dirt roof. This house had three rooms. I can remember our family was very happy here. We had our health and what we wanted to eat of the common foods.
An insert by Eva Mortensen, daughter, from notes taken from Mother in 1969:
(Mothers’ recollection of the log house Grandpa built). The house was cold. There was one wood burning cook stove in the kitchen. The family would set around the stove to keep warm. The oven door would be open to let the heat into the room. I remember burning my leg on the oven door and Dad carrying me from the bed to the table to eat, so I would not have to walk.
There would be from three to six hired men at the ranch most of the time. Dad had 800 head of cattle to care for and there would be haying to do. The hay fields extended from the ranch north to Warburton’s fields. The hired men would eat in the main house, but had a little cabin or bunkhouse to sleep in. Most of the hired men came from Nevada. One of the cowboys who came to the ranch was Ross Rytting, who married my sister, May. My sisters and I always helped with the housework, cooking, washing dishes and other chores. I worked for wages at age fourteen away from home at Mary and Lehman Jorgenson’s, as a housekeeper.
I started school when I was six years old, in the little rock schoolhouse at West Grouse Creek, now known as Etna. Jennie, May and I had to walk back and forth from the ranch to school which was about three miles one way. We did this for about three years, then the Board of Education furnished a horse drawn bus to pick up the children of the scattered ranches. My first teacher was George L. Johnson, second, R.D. Peters, third, Kathryn Conway, fourth, Charles Smith, fifth, Mr. Cox, sixth, Mr. Ingram, seventh, Miss Margaret Latimer, eight, Miss Wanda Hawks. The last year of school I attended at East Grouse Creek and Mr. Lloyd G. Beech was my last teacher.
The school consisted of one large room which contained the first to eight grades. There was a stove in the middle of the room to keep us warm. There were wooden desks, one for each child, and each desk had an ink well with a bottle of ink. Often Val Tanner and some of the other boys would dip my long braids in the inkwell where I was sitting.
George Johnson, my first grade teacher was my favorite and I felt I was the teacher’s pet through most of my grades. Olive Tanner was my best friend and we played together. Blanche Jones was also a best friend.
The games we would play at school was usually ball, played with a homemade yarn or cotton ball. I was considered the tattletale of the school because I always kept the teacher informed of the doings of the other children. I would stand at the door while recess was going on and run and tell the teacher what the other children were doing. Val and the other boys would catch me and wash my face in the snow for tattling. The boys would usually play ball or marbles. A big girl named Viola Brezzee was teased by the boys and one day they washed her face with ashes and snow. Val Tanner, Tom Warburton, Mark Warburton and Ralph Tanner did it and she threatened to kill them. Other games we played not at school were gathering of lilies of the valley. We would pick a whole kettle full of the lilies and Indian paint brushes. We would go barefoot in the tracks made by the hay wagons, then we would have to be bathed from top to bottom in the wash tub, but first wash our feet and legs in cold water. We would go to the big ditch and catch polliwogs and put them in cans and wait for them to turn into frogs.
I went to school until I was ten. All of the teachers boarded at Grandma Tanner’s house. (She was Val’s mother).
I remember May, Jennie and I got a bicycle, and we would go get the mail at the Lucas place close to the corner by the schoolhouse (where Tom Warburton lived). Then later we would get the mail at the Warburton rock house. (Where Dell Warburton lived). Bill Burrington brought the mail from Tacoma or Lucin. He was the first mail man. There was a little house between the school and the Lucas place, where Marian and Charles Lucas were the Postmaster and Postmistress. The mail was delivered every other day. The Deseret Newspaper came from relatives from Grantsville.
When we rode the bus to school, it was called the Band Wagon, which was a horse drawn wagon, with a front seat driver separated by canvas curtains. Ten kids rode the wagon. They were Tom Warburton, Mark Warburton, Ross Warburton, Dell Warburton, Carl Warburton, Pauline Warburton, Amy Warburton, Jennie Douglas, May Douglas, Hattie Douglas, Roy Barlow, and Emma Barlow. Val and Olive Tanner walked.
We would order our food from California because it was cheaper to come by freight on the train from California than it was from Ogden.
The medicines we used when we would get sick would be cough medicine, Mentholatum, or rubbed our necks with lard and turpentine paste and put it on a flannel cloth and put it on our chest for a plaster for the croup, sore throat or cold. We would have cough medicine made of essence of peppermint and honey. We would use onion poultices to draw out the infection from sores.
Uncle Dave and Aunt Maggie lived on the ranch with us. Uncle Dave lived there first and when our family moved in we all lived together in the log house. Uncle Dave was a cattleman and also had a mining business between Montello and Lucin.
Peddlers would often come to the ranch selling wearing apparel, shoes, boots, and other items. One was named Levine, who would come in a wagon covered with canvas and driven by a team of horses from Ogden. He would often stay at the ranch. When we would have our family prayers he would never join with us, but would go outside because he was of the Jewish faith.
Ruby, Dick and Pearl were born while we were living at the Parson ranch. Shortly after Ruby was born, she became very ill. I remember Dad administering to her alone, and she was soon well again. Dick was born on May 18, 1906, and baby sister, Pearl was born on April 12, 1912, the night the Titanic sunk.
The year of 1913, Dad and Uncle Dave sold the ranch and 800 head of cattle to Miller and Lux and moved back up to Grouse Creek. We bought a home from Joseph Lee, now known as the “Green house.” Uncle Dave and Dad bought the Shaw ranch and Uncle Dave and Aunt Maggie lived there.
When I was fifteen years of age, I worked at the Thomas ranch doing housework, cooking and cleaning. Heber and Sam Simpson had the first car in Grouse Creek. I was scared of cars. I had my first ride in a car from Heber Simpson while I was working at the Thomas ranch. When we went to get married (Val Tanner and I) Val’s mother went with us. We rode to Lucin to catch the train with George Ballingham, who had the mail job. It was a car with a white topped canvas over the top.
Every fall the Indians would pass through Grouse Creek. In the fall they would go south and in the spring they would come back. The Douglas ranch was a stopping place for them to gather pine nuts. They would camp at our ranch and give us pine nuts in exchange for hay and flour. I always thought it was quite a novelty, but was also frightened of the Indians. I always liked to see them come, but when they would come into the house, I would crawl under the bed to hide because I had such raven black hair that I thought the Indians would think I was one of them and they would take me away with them.
One day Captain Indian Jim came to the house, my two sisters, May and Jennie, and I were in the yard playing and mother was lying down. (Mother always had headaches) It was summer and the door was open. He had a long willow in his hand, as he stood in the doorway. He poked Mother with the willow to awaken her. She woke with a start and was frightened when she saw the Indian. Captain Jim knew he had frightened her, and he threw back his head and laughed very loudly. We three girls came in about that time and we, too, were very frightened. Mother gave him something to eat and he went away. I was only four years old at the time, but remember it very vividly.
My favorite boy in school was Valison Tanner Jr. He would tease me in school, even though I was six years younger than he was. I knew he liked me. The first time I ever dated Val, we went to a Masquerade Ball commemorating Washington’s birthday. I didn’t go with him because I liked him, but just to get to the dance. The more I went out with him I liked him more and more. He would come to see me from the ranch in Etna and leave his horse at Grandma Tanner’s, who lived in Grouse Creek. Sometimes he would come in the buggy and we would go for a ride. We would go to the ranch and one time as we were driving from Grouse Creek to Etna, we drove up over a hill where we could see the ranch nestled in a little valley. This is where he proposed to me. He asked me if I would like to live there. Of course, I said yes. We were married on October 4, 1917. Our wedding trip was rather unusual. We went to Salt Lake to be married in the Temple. Grandma Tanner (Val’s mother) and Olive, his sister, and Val and I all went on the train. Because of the conference there was a shortage of rooms so after we were married, we went to the hotel and Grandma Tanner and Olive had to stay in the same room with us. Grandma Tanner slept on a couch and Val and Olive and I slept on the bed. I was so darned mad. Then we went to Bountiful to Zara Sabin’s house to spend our honeymoon. Val came down with the flu and was in bed for two weeks. We didn’t have much of a honeymoon, but was able to laugh about it later.
We lived in a little log cabin on the ranch between the main house and Hart’s house. It had one room and a tiny kitchen on the back.
Val gave me a little sorrel mare and I would go horseback riding with him in the mountains to gather cattle and everywhere he went I would go with him. I did this up until the time our first son, Mervin LaMar was born on August 5, 1919.
When Val and I were married it was during World War I. He had received his orders to go to the Army. He, Dave Paskett and George E. Ballingham had received their orders at the same time. He had packed his bags, and kissed me goodbye and left by the mail car to go to Lucin. When he arrived in Lucin a message was received that the Armistice had been signed and he would not have to go. Dave Paskett had already left and had gone to England, but Val returned to Grouse Creek and I had heard of his coming. I started walking down from the “Green house” to meet him and met him just as he was coming around the dugway. We were so happy that he would not have to go to war.
Mervin was born at the ranch in the little log cabin where we lived. I was attended by Mrs. Ellen Blanthorn and Mrs. Mary Hadfield, the two midwives in Grouse Creek. Mrs. Blanthorn stayed with me for ten days. Sarah Roberts did the cooking and cleaning for $2.50 per day. Mrs. Blanthorn was a registered nurse and charged $100.00 and Mrs. Hadfield was paid $35.00. Mrs. Blanthorn had a special surgical kit with the necessary instruments she would bring with her.
Max, the second son, was born at the Hales place which we had bought at the time. He came earlier than expected. It was a cold and rainy night. Ralph was sent to get Mrs. Blanthorn. We waited and waited and they didn’t come. Val became worried and went to the woodpile and got two blocks of wood to put at the end of the bed to make the bottom higher than the top. Max was born, without Mrs. Blanthorn. Val found a big roll of cotton batting used for making quilts and when Max was born he wrapped him in the cotton batting and laid him on the bed by me. When Mrs. Blanthorn came, she stumbled over the blocks of wood and the batting was stuck to Max so tightly that she spent most of the night picking the cotton off him. Both Mrs. Blanthorn and Mrs. Hadfield stayed the night. This happened on March 20, 1923.
I really liked living at the Hales place with the tall poplar trees surrounding the house, the green meadows, and the hills close by. Several times we could hear the screams of a mountain lion in the rocks above the house. Mervin was three and one-half years old when his baby brother Max was born. He really liked his baby brother. They were inseparable. When Max was one-year-old, we sold the Hale’s place and moved back to the home ranch where we lived in the old Hart house. Val and his brother, Ralph, owned the ranch together, and they also had bought the Hales place together, and that is why Val and I moved there. After we sold the Hales place, Val and Ralph dissolved partnership. Ralph took the Death Valley ranch and the Meadow ranch and we kept the home ranch. Ralph moved to Grouse Creek.
On January 8, 1927, our daughter, Fern was born at the ranch. Mrs. Hadfield and Mrs. Blanthorn were there to deliver her and everything went well. This same winter a heavy snow storm came one night and covered the ground with eight inches of snow, caving the shed in, nearly killing our stallion.
Two years following, our daughter, Eva was born on March 7, 1929, in the McGregor apartments on 21st street in Ogden. Mother, Dad, Pearl, Aunt Maggie and Uncle Dave were all living there in the apartments. We took Mrs. Blanthorn with us. Val stayed home with the boys and Fern came with us. We arrived at night, the next morning I was in labor and Dr. Leslie F. Merrill had been called, but the baby was born before the doctor arrived so Mrs. Blanthorn delivered her and when the doctor arrived he said everything was fine.
Eva was born during the depression, and it wasn’t unusual for tramps to come over the hills from Nevada. Shortly after Eva was born, two tramps came down from the hills in the west stopping at our home, begging for food and a place to sleep. We gave them blankets and food and they went on their way the following morning. Other tramps came by too. I remember an old man with no shoes. He was wearing rubber tire pieces tied to his feet. We asked if he would like to sleep in the shed or granary, but he said no, he would just like some food. We gave him food and he went just a short way into the upper field, built a fire and camped there.
It was about this same time, three bank robbers, who had robbed the Twin Falls bank and had stolen a car came down an old road from Idaho, drove past our place and on toward Death Valley. When they reached the head of Death Valley they poured gasoline all over the stolen car and set it afire and sent it down the side of a mountain with the fire blazing. Another car was waiting for them and they drove down past our house again. We did not know they were bank robbers at the time, but found out later they were.
Our third son, Delmar Lamont (Monte) was born in Ogden on July 27, 1935. We all went to Ogden to the 24th of July Celebration which we would sometimes do and would stay at the Broom Hotel on the corner of Washington Boulevard and 25th Street. Monte was born in the Dee Hospital on a hot July day.
Our third daughter, Margaret Fae was born in Ogden on March 17, 1940. This was our sixth and last child. All other five children stayed at home with Val. Monte was almost six years old.
My father, James Douglas passed away on January 1, 1948, in Ogden, Utah and was buried in Grouse Creek. Mother became an invalid shortly afterwards and was confined to bed with congestive heart failure. Jennie, Ruby and I took turns going to Ogden to take care of her. On December 28, 1951, we were at her bedside when she passed away. She also was buried at Grouse Creek.
On January 23, 1954, a cold snowy day, Monte and Max had gone to Death Valley to feed cattle. I had a premonition all day that something was going to happen, but didn’t know what. About dark Max come rushing home with the news that the tractor that Monte had been driving had tipped over in a deep wash with Monte pinned underneath. He was critically hurt. He was immediately rushed to Ogden to the hospital where he had a collapsed lung. He was given Priesthood blessings and by the will of the Lord he was spared.
Another spiritual experience, when Fae was about three years old, she was eating a piece of cheese and it caught in her throat and caused her to stop breathing. We tried everything to dislodge it. Her Dad knelt and gave her a Priesthood blessing, then picked her up and held her by her feet and gave her back a strong pat, the cheese became dislodged and she began to breathe, and the blue color of her face began to be pink again.
After Max was married in 1954, we retired from the ranch and moved to Ogden, selling the ranch to Max. Neither of us were satisfied living away from Grouse Creek, so we moved back in 1956 and bought the home of Joseph Kimber, where we are living now.
Val and I did many things after we moved back to Grouse Creek. Val was the water master for the Etna reservoir. We also worked at the Airport near Lucin, and were custodians of the church house in Grouse Creek. I was a teacher and President in the Primary, Sunday School teacher, and Relief Society Visiting Teacher.
Val had a series of strokes when in 1971 we lived in Sandy, Utah during the winter to be near a doctor, coming back to Grouse Creek in the summer. Then in 1973 we went back to Sandy in the fall and Val died of a massive stroke on December 17, 1973. We were living at the time with our daughter, Eva, and her husband, J.D. Mortensen, in an apartment in their house.
I came back to Grouse Creek to live. Max had sold the ranch and lived just up the street from me. I lived alone, took care of my house, planted a garden, mowed my lawn. I was very self sufficient for about eleven years. Then due to a few small strokes and arthritis I could no longer live alone. In January 1985, I went to live in Sandy, Utah with Eva and J.D. Mortensen. I lived there for seven months and fell and broke my hip and could no longer walk and was confined to a wheelchair.
By Eva Mortensen
After Mother had fallen and had surgery on her hip, she never walked again. She needed twenty-four hour care and it was recommended by her doctor that she would be better taken care of at a convalescent care center. We decided, as a family, the Clearfield Care Center would be a good place, as her sister May was living there also. She was unable to walk and was becoming quite senile. We visited her twice a week, did her washing and took care of her needs. She thought she was home most of the time. She was there from August 1985 to September 1988 when she was transferred to Manor Care Ogden in South Ogden. She always seemed happy and everyone loved her who took care of her, because she was grateful for their help and always said thank you.
On January 6, 1989, I had visited her, curled her hair, and she looked so beautiful. She was happy, laughing and joking. On Friday, January 7, 1989 she was put to bed, went to sleep and passed away in her sleep between 3:45 and 4:00 a.m. She went to sleep in this sphere of time and awakened in the sphere of Eternity with those people waiting for her after years of separation. Burial in Grouse Creek Cemetery.
The four and one-half years we cared for her was a time that I would never trade. The love I felt for her was worth every moment of the time I spent with her.