Persis Josephine Laird was born on October 31, 1874 in Goshen, Utah daughter of Joseph Smith Laird and Persis Minerva McKee. She grew up and received her education in Huntington, Utah. She was courted by Charles Kimber in the winter of 1892. They were married on June 16, 1893 in the Logan LDS temple.
Charles had been married before to Sarah Elizabeth Morgan. She died in childbirth. Josie married into a family with nine children.
Josie had two children born in Huntington and ten children were born in Grouse Creek Utah.
Josie and Charles’ family consisted of Chloe, Winfred, Ray, Edwin, Vera, Jim, Oren, Mary, Florence, Junior, Elsie and Fern.
Josie Kimber, was a fun loving woman who worked hard cooking, washing, sewing and making memories for her family. She told her children many stories about things she did when she was young and those stories have been told and retold.
When Josie was a little girl, her mother was a widow and lived alone. One day, Josie and her sister Mary, saw her mother sitting on a pole fence talking to her boyfriend and behind them was a patch of strawberries. Josie slipped up and rolled the poles. Then the two girls ran just as fast as they could, as they knew they were in trouble. Josie was always joking around. Mary, her sister, was probably a lot like Josie. When their mother had gone to church one day, Mary cut off Josie’s bright red curls. It was quite a haircut.
As a teenager, Josie heard two girls talking as they walked passed her. They were talking about their boy friends and a lot of things they were doing. When the girls came back by they stopped to talk to her and she told them she could tell fortunes. Josie told them all about these boyfriends and the things they were doing. The girls thought she was really good at this fortune telling. She really had them fooled and she really got a kick out of telling them their fortune.
Joking around was not only done when Josie was young but continued into her married life. Josie saw Charles lying on the couch snoring, while she was baking and holding a flour sifter in her hand. The temptation was too great. She took the flour sifter and gently sifted flour on his face. He came up choking and for a few minutes they thought he would choke to death, but in a few minutes he was back to sleeping and snoring. Mr. and Mrs. Richins came over while Charles was lying there with his little hump of whiskers and flour all over him. Charles raised up just as they came in and Mrs. Richins, with all her many superstitions, let out a holler. “Oh! Oh! What’s the matter with Charlie?” She almost flew out of the house.
Josie was in on many fun loving events such as when she helped Cheverie Mr.(Daddy) Cook. Daddy Cook was an old man when he got married and was kind of a tough man like an Army sergeant. Josie and some others fixed the bed so it would fall down when they sat on it, fixed the chimney, put tin cans and rocks around, then hammered shut all the doors so he couldn’t come out and get them.
In her home she would look for opportunities to generate a little fun and laughter and still drive home a point. Jim and Oren, Josie’s sons, were out very late one night and Josie sliced raw potatoes in their bed as punishment. Of course the boys thought it was Elsie, their sister, that had done it and they bounced her out of bed the next morning and down the stairs. Elsie, hollering all the way down the stairs said, “It wasn’t me! It was mom.”
One night Elsie and Fern, her daughters were giggling upstairs, and they heard a chord on the organ. It was just one chord. They stopped giggling and said, “Hey what was that? It sounded like the organ.” They laid very still and listened but no other chord was played. Josie had got out of bed and played just one chord on the organ and went back to bed. The girls stopped laughing and Josie finally got to go to sleep.
Josie didn’t spend all her time joking around. She was a skilled homemaker, making crochet items for the house and treasured gifts to those who received them. She crocheted a dress for one of her children and crocheted some cute hot pads for a granddaughter, also made many doilies.
Her homemade quilts contained strips of cloth pieced together creating not only nice coverings but pleasant memories to those that felt their comfort and warmth. She always had grandchildren around when she was working and one grandchild got a little too close one day and got his finger sewed along with the quilt pieces. She made rugs by either crocheting sewed strips of cloth together or weaving the strips of cloth on a wooden frame.
Her cellar was filled with the yearly products of her hard labor, canned fruits and vegetables. But most important, she made her home a place where everyone felt welcome and wanted. She always had a house full. You might say she had more than a house full. She always had neighbors dropping by the house. If the cowboys came over the mountain to ride, they came in. She would always have them come and stay. It didn’t matter who came around, whether it was a rancher, friend or a tramp, they always got a meal. That was the way she lived all her life. Even after she was older and her husband had died, a lot of the cowboys still dropped by. She’d get to know them and they would come right into the kitchen to help her with a meal.
She carried water from the ditch for the washing and they always had a houseful of washing left but Josie always had time to go to the hills with the children and in the evening she would run foot races, play hide and seek or just be outside with her children. She had time for everything.
They didn’t have the fanciest food but they had a meal. She prepared big meals. She would bake cookies when people came and when one batch of cookies was gone she would stir up another. She would bake cookies until everyone was full and very often when all were gone so were the cookies.
The first thing she would do when you walked into her house, was to say; “Oh, are you hungry?” and then she would name everything she had in the house as an offering to her guests.
Josie did everything willingly, making pleasure out of it instead of work. Lots of people used to stay at the log house and it didn’t matter how many beds were on the floor, there was always room for another.
The Jorgensen boys brought their bed rolls one day and Josie had them sleep on the floor. In the night Mrs. Blanthorn, a nurse, came to get a little bit of yeast and she didn’t want to wake anybody so she just slipped in and slipped right back out. The men had been telling ghost stories and when she came in, dressed in white clothes, a white apron and a white cap on her head, she almost frightened those men to death.
Josie loved company and company loved her. Another time the Jorgensens came to stay, Josie had just given birth to a new baby and was in bed recuperating. The baby was unusually fussy and it cried and cried. The oldest Jorgensen, in his eighties, came into the room and said. “Oh there are sixteen in my family. I can take care of this baby for you.” This really frightened Josie as she couldn’t get out of bed and she didn’t know what to do. He picked up the baby and rocked and sang to it.
Josie was afraid of everything, with lightening and fire being the most frightening. Everyone that lived in the home knew about her reaction to lightening. When it started to rain and the lightening started she would get all the kids up and have them come downstairs to her bedroom.
She was a telegraph operator and there was a phone on the east and south wall of the ranch house. When the lightening began, the phones sent sparks across the room to the middle where they jumped and popped really loud, frightening her and everyone in the house. The lightening would often strike the trees above Grouse Creek and start fires causing great fear to Josie and all of the people in the town.
Many wanted men came through Grouse Creek. They came with horses, guns, and bed rolls. A man from the Robber Roost Gang, rode through town one day, recognized Josie and quickly gave her a hand signal to not reveal his identity. The man, now using another name had lived by Josie and her mother in Huntington when he was younger. A bunch of men were arrested in Grouse Creek and brought to the Kimber home and kept in the front room with Billy Kimber, the oldest of Charles’ children guarding the door. Josie was very frightened. One of the convicts, Cleve Blakeslade played on the Kimber’s organ, “I’ll go where you want me to go, Dear Lord,” all night.
There were two Indians that lived in the hills around Grouse Creek, who were called Indian Jack and Old Indian Jim. Old Indian Jim wore a feather in his hat and he frightened every woman in the town. One day he silently sneaked up behind Josie when she didn’t know anyone was around. He took his feather and touched her leg nearly frightening her to death. She was very frightened of him, because he was always trying to frighten her.
When Josie’s second child Mary was a baby, the Indians came and saw her beautiful curly red hair. In sign language they made the motions. “We want her.” When they left that night, Josie took all the flat irons and put them in all the windows. She would give the Indians a flat iron over their heads if they tried to break in one of the windows and take little Mary.
Josie drove a car only once. They were at the upper field when Charles got out to shut the gate and asked her to drive the car up, turn and stop. She drove up, turned, didn’t stop turning or she didn’t stop. The car went into the ditch and into the fence with her laughing all the way.
Charles and Josie were very compassionate people. They silently gave of their food supplies. Every year they would get enough flour to fill a big room, and they would share this flour with many, many people. The children can remember waking early in the morning and hearing Charlie come upstairs to get a sack of flour or sugar and give it to someone in need. Charles and Josie didn’t let anyone they knew go without, if they could help it.
Josie told Charles of a sister that had only one pair of garments and had to wash them and put them back on. Charles said. “Oh you had better see to it that she gets some garments. You send for them tomorrow.”
A baby was born without a layette and Josie quickly called the town people and soon the baby had all it needed. That is only two examples of the little things Josie did to help those in need.
At Christmas time, each child, grandchild and great-grandchild received a gift from Josie. She loved shopping and started the day after Christmas for next year’s gifts. Some found her wrapping to be amusing but in later years she had wrapping parties and everyone would sit around and wrap presents, with her making goodies for everyone. No one wrapped their own gift.
Not all of Josie’s life was pleasant. She had two of her little girls die. When Florence died, Josie was unable to attend the funeral because she was expecting Elsie. Josie stayed on the front porch of the home located near the cemetery. As the funeral procession went by she showed her grief by screaming as loud as she could scream.
She had a lot of faith. Winfred had a sun stroke when he was young and Josie grabbed him and ran with him to a man who had the gift of healing. Winfred was administered to and was healed.
Charles died in 1933. Josie stayed in Grouse Creek until 1942, when she moved to Brigham City, Utah to live to be close to some of her children.
Josie especially loved to visit, she would talk to everyone. It didn’t matter if the person was a stranger crossing the street or someone she had just met, she enjoyed visiting with them. One day she was crossing the street on a light in Brigham City when a police man yelled. “Lady, watch that light.” She replied back. “I can’t! It’s all I can do to watch my feet.” “I can’t watch the light.”
It can be truly said of her that she endured to the end. She had heart trouble and had clots go through her heart causing sweating and a great deal of pain but just as soon as she got over the pain she would take a walk up town and do a little shopping.
Josie lived a Christian life. She made her life a happy one. She lived by Marion Jeppsen in Brigham and Marion said at her mission farewell that it was Josie’s attitude and her concept of her religion and how she lived it that converted her to the church. Josie loved to do visiting teaching and go to Relief Society and was instrumental in getting Marion to go.
Josie died on October 27, 1955 at age eighty-one in Brigham City after a seven-month illness. She was interred in the Grouse Creek cemetery.