Mary Emily Barlow Tanner

Life story of Mary Emily Barlow Tanner as told to her daughter Amanda Tanner Paskett on March 12, 1955

I, Mary Emily Barlow, was born on February 8, 1875 at Fairfield, Utah County, Utah being the third child of Joseph Smith Barlow Sr. and Amanda Morgan. I had one older brother, Joseph Smith Barlow Jr., born on January 27, 1870, one sister, Alice Ann Barlow, born on September 24, 1872, and one younger brother, Jesse, born on January 11, 1877. He was born after my father died. I do not remember my father as I was only about eighteen months old when he died.

We lived with grandfather and grandmother Morgan for a while after my father’s death. Our family was always in poor circumstances while we were young as money was scarce and food was high, flour being $20.00 per 100 at one time. I remember my grandmother made yeast to sell to help out. Some folks would bring a cup of flour or sugar to trade for the yeast. She also made fancy work to sell.

My mother went out washing, house cleaning, sewing or doing any work she could to support us, and we were left in the care of grandmother. I can remember going to the Josephite meetings with my grandmother when I was very young, and sitting on a little stool by her feet. Grandmother left the LDS Church and joined the Josephite church. The meetings were held at the Thomas home (they were the wealthiest people in Fairfield.)

I started school in Fairfield. My first teacher was John Carson Jr. We had no pencils or paper but wrote on a slate. I remember having to stand on a bench and hold some books out on my hand for whispering. It only happened once.

In my childhood days my playmates and amusements were limited, Edith Carson my cousin being the only playmate I had except at school. She and I were real tomboys. We usually had work to do at home but when we did get away our main amusement was jumping the rope around the block, climbing fences and haystacks and sliding down the stacks. When we went to Sunday School, both adults and children met in one room. We would separate in two groups for classes. Each one in the class would read a verse from the Bible, and that was the extent of our lessons.

I was six years old when my grandmother Morgan died. Then the family moved to another house, the Beesinger house. There mother set Alice and I to sewing rug rags to keep us at home. We all went out in the fields to glean wheat while the men were harvesting. At one time we had a large seamless sack of wheat. We took it to the mill and had it made into flour.

When I was almost ten years old, mother decided to move to Grouse Creek where her brother Jesse Morgan was living. He came to Fairfield and helped us move. We packed up all our possessions except a long tin bath tub which we had to leave behind as there was no room in the wagons.

The first day we went to “Slagtown” and stayed with Uncle Llewellyn Morgan. Then we traveled on north for about a week over the desert; in some places the mud would roll up on the wheels. It was so bad we walked most of the way, and across the last desert, we walked in four or five inches of water. We had to leave one wagon on the desert and put all four horses on the other one to travel. They returned and got the other wagon the next summer while it was dry.

We arrived at Grouse Creek on February 4, 1885 about 5:00 p.m. I was ten years old four days later. We only had one room to live in. My first school teacher here was Helen Stark of Brigham City, Utah.

We went to Sunday School in the old log schoolhouse. James Simpson was the superintendent. He would stand before the meeting and say:  “Stand oop, put your ‘ands be’ind you, bow your ‘eads and we’ll ‘ave prayers.” Of course we kids had to laugh at that.

At the age of twelve and one-half years I was afflicted with what they thought was dropsy. I was bedfast for over a year. For nine weeks I had to be turned over on a sheet. A doctor who came from the East told us I would never walk without crutches. But I was spunky enough to want to show them so I threw my crutches across the room and walked over and picked them up. My illness made one of my legs smaller and shorter than the other. I have been told by doctors since that it is almost a positive fact that my illness was polio.

When I was sixteen, the Stake Presidency came from Brigham City and Mr. Kelly one of the counselors, took the measurements of my foot and made me a special cork soled shoe, which enabled me to walk much better. I was never able to dance but I could ride horse back and I loved to run races.

The Fletcher girls, Hattie and Jennie, were my chums and when I was about sixteen I went with their family on a trip to Idaho where I saw many of my old friends from Fairfield, Utah, who had moved up there.

We made the trip in a covered wagon as that was the mode of travel in those days. We camped at night and cooked our meals over a camp fire. We had to ford the Portnuff river which was very exciting. On the way we crossed the Snake River bridge, and when we got across we could see the bridge was on fire. I have never forgotten this trip for I enjoyed it so much.

While we were in Idaho, we visited with friends at Lyman, Idaho. They were the Thomas Atkinson and Charley Breezee families. We also visited with my aunt, Agatha Carson from Fairfield, Utah. I remember I was afraid to stay with them because her husband, George Carson, said he was going to keep me, so I wouldn’t stay there. I went and stayed with the Fletchers.

When we were coming back home, the ferry boat crossing the Snake River was stuck out in the middle of the river. Mr. Fletcher left us sitting in the wagon and he helped the man that was running the ferry get it loose. We were there for hours. There were no highways at that time, only rough dirt roads.

June 20, 1894 I was married to Allen Newman Tanner in the Salt Lake Temple by John R. Winder. We made our home at Grouse Creek, Utah living in a three-room log house. My husband’s mother, Ann Newman Tanner made her home with us until her death. Here four of our nine children were born.

This large family made much hard work, planning and scheming. I have helped in the hay field and have helped to stack the hay by leading the derrick horse. While doing this, the horse stepped on my foot, causing me to have an operation to remove the toe nails from my big toes.

Our first child, Amanda, was born on January 20, 1896; our second, Allen Raymond, on February 11, 1898; the third Joseph Thomas, was born on January 3, 1900, and died with yellow jaundice on February 23, 1900 and was buried the day he was six weeks old. The fourth, Leslie, was born on June 9, 1901. At this time, we had worked and saved to build a new home. It was a two-story red brick with eight rooms. My husband’s mother died before the house was finished.

Here our family increased but we always had room for friends and relatives and I have cooked many meals, serving from fifteen to twenty persons. Our home was a gathering place for relatives on Sundays and holidays as they had to travel several miles to church and celebrations. Although I was handicapped, I did most of my own work, made lots of braided rugs, did sewing and found time to do considerable reading and visit my friends. My husband was very good to help me with any extra work and always hired help for me when it was needed. Our twin sons were the first to be born in our new home. They were Delbert E. and Herbert A., born on October 5, 1904.

My husband was called on a mission to Australia on October 27, 1906. This left me with five small children and another one expected. This was quite a trial, for the first year he was gone our twins both had pneumonia and three of the children had whooping cough. Our seventh child, a girl, was born on April 22, 1907. We named her Alice Evelyn. As I had four boys and only one girl, I welcomed her coming.

The next year Delbert had pneumonia again and I was afraid I might lose him, but with the help of the Lord and our good midwives, Mrs. Mary Hadfield and Ellen Blanthorn he recovered. Mrs. Hadfield nursed him constantly for some time.

After twenty-seven months in the mission field my husband returned on January 9, 1909. Our eighth child, Bertha was born on December 1, 1909. Our ninth child, David Edwin, was born on September 7, 1912. In the spring of 1918 I was operated on for appendicitis.

I was appointed Secretary in the Relief Society on July 13, 1910, a position I held for twelve years. I attended Sunday School and Mutual very little, but we hardly ever missed Sacrament Meeting. Allen and I seldom missed the general conferences held in Salt Lake City. I have met and shook hands with President Lorenzo Snow, President George Albert Smith, and several of the Apostles which gave me a thrill.

On April 25, 1924, we had the misfortune to lose our son, Leslie. He was called on a mission but before it came time to go he was stricken with appendicitis. We rushed him to the hospital at Ogden but before we reached there it had broken, taking his life in a short time. It seemed it was meant for him to leave us as the doctors could find nothing to help him.

We moved to Ogden, Utah living there several winters to put our last two children in high school. I was operated on for goiter in February 1930.

The following year my husband was operated on and they found he had cancer. He suffered for four years and passed away on January 8, 1935. It was a great chore to take care of him as he was so helpless.

All of my children were married by this time but Edwin. We moved to Ogden again for several winters for him to finish school. He then went on a mission leaving on July 8, 1940.

Herbert and his family lived in part of my house but they soon moved to a home of their own leaving me alone in the big brick house. I went to Ogden during the winter months for several years and back home during the summer. It was impossible for me to take care of the big house, so in the spring of 1949, I moved into Raymond’s little tie home across the road. I have spent most of the winters in Ogden since that time, except two when I lived with my daughter, Amanda.

It has been the practice for some time for members of my family to honor me on my birthday with open houses or parties. I have enjoyed them very much.

As I had been afflicted with arthritis for some years and had seemed to get worse, I was told to go to Dr. Floyd N. Barker at Brigham City, Utah. I went to him all during the year of 1958, that is off and on when I could get there. He helped me very much.

When my daughter’s husband, George passed away in May 1959, I felt that I should go and live with her in her time of sorrow, so I did.

I was so far from a doctor and I got so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed alone, since my arthritis was so bad and painful. On July 19, 1959 my son Ted and family took me to Ogden again and I stayed with them and went to Dr. Barker twice a week. He said I would have died had I stayed in Grouse Creek three more days. My family thought I wouldn’t make it to Ogden, as I looked and felt so bad. I hadn’t been able to eat anything but a dish of cereal for a couple of weeks as my blood was so very low and I was so weak. Dr. Barker pulled me through and I got so I could get up and dress myself and with my cane I could walk around in the house so I went back to stay with Mrs. Greenwell in August.

I didn’t get out of the house only when I went to see the doctor at Brigham City. I had a very nice Christmas; everyone was so kind and helped me so much. My daughter Evelyn used to come every week and bath me and wash my hair and do all she could for me.

After Christmas I got bad again and couldn’t walk. Someone had to help me every time I moved. The children decided I must be where I could have the attention of trained nurses that could help me.

Story Continued by daughter Amanda.

Sarah Tanner, Mrs. Greenwell, Emily Tanner, Ray Tanner and Harvey Tanner – 1968
On January 3, 1960, Shorty and Evelyn Betteridge and son Ted took mother from Mrs. Emma Greenwell’s home to a rest home called Park View rest home, in Ogden, Utah.

Mother was not very happy about it at first, but after she had been there for a while and they were so good to her, she liked it and said she was very much at home there. However, there was not a day passed that some of her family and friends didn’t call to see her.

On January 8, mother had a terrible cough so Ted called in Dr. Moesinger to see if she had pneumonia. He gave her some shots and cleared up her cold. She felt quite well again for a time.

Mother said, “If I could only live till after my 85th birthday, I would be ready to die.” On Sunday, February 7, 1960 one day before her birthday, her daughter Evelyn and husband Shorty Betteridge went to the home to get mother and take her to their home, for an open house. When they arrived, mother was having a mild heart attack, and they thought she was not going to come out of it, but she did and went with them. There were about thirty-five relatives that called to see her. Again mother was happy as she was surrounded with her loved one, and she enjoyed every minute of it.

Sunday night, February 7 her son Herbert and wife Vera and her daughter Amanda went on the train to be there for her birthday. She was glad to see them and said now she was ready to die. Little did she know that before the week was over, she would be in the hospital in a critical condition.

However, it was the case, and Dr. Moesinger, with the advice of several other doctors decided that there must be an operation as there was a stoppage in the stomach.

On February 17 they took mother in for surgery and the poor old soul never did regain consciousness again to speak to anyone. On Friday, February 19, 1960, at 5:00 a.m., with Herbert and Delbert, her twin sons at her bedside, she closed her eyes in death. She had gone to join others of her family and her husband who had gone before.

She left as survivors, seven children, thirty-five grandchildren, forty-eight great grandchildren, one great, great-grandchild, two brothers and one sister.

She was buried in the Grouse Creek Cemetery.