Harriet Mabel Hunter Richins

Harriet Mabel Hunter Richins was born at Oakley (Cassia County), Idaho on February 10, 1886.  Her father’s name was Rosel Hyde Hunter, born May 27, 1859 at Kaysville (Davis County), Utah.  His father was Edward Hunter.  Her mother’s name was Effie Eliza Bates, born November 4, 1861 at Farmington (Jefferson County), Wisconsin.  Her father was Cyrus Wakefield Bates; her mother’s maiden name was Harriet Eliza Matthews.

I was the third child of ten children—7 girls and 3 boys.  I was baptized August 2, 1894, at the age of 8 years by Loran J. Robinson, Sr.  I was confirmed a member by Dorr P. Curtis in the Oakley Ward, Cassia Stake.

My early days were spent in my home town.  I can remember what a wonderful thing it was to go to Grantsville once in a great while to visit our grandparents and to see the fruit on the trees and pick up baskets full off the ground.  There was just the smell of apples in the air and to pick ripe peaches and pears was a treat I’ll never forget.  At Grandma Hunter’s was and Indian girl named Zade, or Sadie (whom she had raised from a baby) that would break walnuts for us under a high front porch.  They made molasses on his place, also had bees and lots of honey.  This girl would make molasses and honey candy and let us help her stretch it.  She would also swing each of around holding to our hands, till our feet were off the ground, then let loose of our hands and we were so dizzy we couldn’t stand up.  It was lots of fun!

I was what you would call a “tom-boy”.  I did all kinds of jobs that are usually done by the boys, such as pitch hay, unload hay with a derrick fork, cut hay with a hay knife, milk cows, feed pigs, and all farm animals.  All of we girls could harness and hitch up and drive a team of horses.  How I remember standing on a box, the manger, or anything so we could buckle the horse collar.  Some horses were so easy to bridle while others would hold their heads so high we would have to stand on the manger or fence, then they would hold their teeth shut so we could not get the bit in their mouths, then we would have to get someone larger than us to do the job.

I loved to chop wood and make a nice big pile.  One day a neighbor was going by.  He stopped to talk to father.  I was at the wood pile chopping.  He said “Rosel, that girl can chop wood better than you can”.  Father said, “She ought to, she does more of it than I do.”

I loved to play baseball.  We had some real good players in our neighborhood.  I really did like to dance, too.  My folks would not allow us to go to anything but church dances.  When our parents were using tea and coffee, we children were not allowed to have it, and it has never been a temptation for me and I have never had it in my home.

While in Mother’s home and in my home on the farm, I churned and sold many a pound of butter.  First, I used round molds then the oblong molds were used.  The price for butter was from $.20 to $.50 and it has gradually gone up in price.  The last pound I bought was $.79—it has been more.  How we would have loved to have received that price!  We have sold milk for $.08 a quart and have bought flour for $2.00 for 150lbs.  Now it is $3.29 and up to $4.00 for a 50 lb. sack.

Before I was married, I used to go out and do house work for a week or two.  Mother never liked us to, but once in a while she would give her consent.  I would work much harder than if I had stayed at home.  The going wages were $2.00 a week.  One time I worked at Dr. Oldhams home.  His wife had had a new baby.  At the end of two weeks, mother wanted me to come home.  They offered to double my pay if I would stay longer.

My first school was in an old log house owned by Uncle Saul Hale.  It was close to his orchard.  How we did enjoy climbing to the top limbs to get an extra big red apple.  My teacher was Miss. Maude Worthington.  Our desks were long rough board tables, and the benches we had to sit on were long and had no backs on them.  It was quite common for one of us to miss the end of the bench and sit on the floor.  Then some little girl or boy would put their feet up and push on the table leg, and the whole bench of kids would take a spill over backwards.  Miss Worthington drove a two wheeled cart and sometimes a small buggy and often she would ride her white horse named “Joy” to school.  She had a side saddle and a long flowing dark riding skirt.  My next teacher was Estella Elison.  We were still in a log house.  This one was 3 miles from town on her father’s land (the Elison farm).  It had the same type tables and benches.  It was also quite a ride from her home.  Some days when we would get our lunch pails out of the back room, our lunches were frozen hard and we would put our sandwiches on the heater to either burn or toast them.  There weren’t many in our school—perhaps 22.  My next teacher was my cousin, Lula Bates, from Grantsville, Utah.  Father hired her I think to help them out.  Her mother was a widow with 3 girls.  We had one of our upstairs rooms fixed as a school room.  She was a very good teacher.  I also had James Rowberry as a teacher in the Elison School House.  He had a wooden hand but how he could run and play ball!

The district finally built a one room school house on the far corner of the District.  My teacher there was Sylvester Lowe, who later became a lawyer.  I went to the Cassia Stake Academy—my first year in a graded school.  Before this, it was first, second and third reader and so on.  Now I was in the sixth grade.  My mother had a large family and a large house to take care of, so it seemed necessary for me to miss school for days at a time and finally near the end of the term in the 7th grade, I quit altogether.  At the end of the term the teacher sent me a diploma, or certificate, stating that I had passed the 7th grade.  How happy I was!  I did not take the examination.

My sister, Lois, and I sang together, she the lead and I the alto and often were on the program for the Monday morning student body assembly.  Our older sister, Effie, would play the organ for us.  Later on, Lois, Alma Richins, Frank Paskett and I sang in quartets.  My teachers there were Prof. Joseph Peterson, Ed Craner, Lou Lewis and Mrs. Pierce.  We didn’t have the convenience the youngsters have now such as school buses, hot lunches, etc.  We lived 3 miles from school and we went there in a cart pulled by our horse.  We would put a little hay and oats in the cart to give to the horse at noon.  Oh, how cold we would get!  One morning I will never forget.  The road went close to the canal.  It had frozen over causing the water to run over the bank onto the road.  There was no way to go around.  The road was like a patch of glass.  We got the horse, with lots of coaxing and whipping with the lines, to try the ice.  She was really afraid.  We had gone but a little way, when all four feet went out from under her.  She was afraid of falling again so she wouldn’t get up.  I suppose we were late for school that morning.  Then another time, when we were coming home from school (there were four of us—Effie, Cyrus, Mabel and Lois), Swanty Nelson’s milk cows were lying in the road by his corral.  They were waiting for the bars to be let down.  Cyrus said, “I’m not going to turn out for them every night”, so he drove the horse right through the center of them.  Just as the wheel was on one of the cows back, she jumped up and over went the cart, spilling kids, books and all.  Cyrus just rolled on the ground laughing while we girls got the cart straightened up and everything back into the cart.

I was married to Orson Chester Richins, of Grouse Creek (Box Elder County), Utah in the Salt Lake Temple on April 8, 1908.  His brother, Wilford, married Lillian Paskett on the same day.  We four lived in the same log house the first year.  Orson and I went into the pines, got out logs and took them to the saw mill where they were sawed into stockade.  Later on, he hauled them from the mountains and we had our first house which was the second year after we were married.  It was built by Joseph V. (Jode) Lee.

We had our first four children while at Grouse Creek, but they were all born at Mother’s home in Oakley—two boys, then two girls.  The second boy died at 25 days (Harold Dwaine).  Dr Earnest Oldham brought them into the world.  Dr. A. F. O’Neilson delivered the other two boys and two girls after we moved to Oakley.  While in Grouse Creek, Orson worked with his father and brothers.

In either 1917 or 1918, we sold our home and homestead to Tom Thomas and bought my Mother’s farm and home.  She had bought a home in the town of Oakley.  Things were quite difficult while we were on the farm.  Orson worked on construction jobs with a four horse outfit.  Also, he did some freighting to the Vipont and to an oil well drilling project on Goose Creek.  He was always more interested in work other than farming.  After 10 or 12 years, we found we couldn’t make it on the farm, so we moved to Oakley.  After a short time there, we moved to Declo, where Orson worked with his brother Wilford.

While in Declo, Orson received an offer from the Wright Ranches to work for them.  His work would be mainly taking care of their horses.  He had always loved horses, so he left the family in Declo, where the children were in school and went to Deeth, Nevada.  I made two trips to Deeth after school was out for summer vacation.  The last time I was in Deeth, I helped cook for the hay men.  Most of  the time we cooked for the regular hay crew which was around 18 men.  On occasions, there were more.

I had a very nice experience working with a young married Indian girl.  She was very kind and considerate.  It seemed she couldn’t do enough for me.  I came back to Declo after haying and put the children in school.

Martell was married and lived in Salt Lake City, Claire in Oakley, and Effie in Magna.

Times now were very difficult.   Orson and I were divorced soon afterward.

Wendell got married about this time and also moved to Salt Lake City.

We, (Louise, Rachel and Austin and I) were on our own and were determined we could make it by ourselves.  The children took part time jobs while still in school.  After graduating from high school, Louise and Rachel both worked in Burley for a time, then left for Salt Lake City, Utah to work in the ammunition plants.  Austin and I lived in the Simplot Apartments.  He worked so hard at anything he could find.  He worked early and late hauling coal, grain and beans for Bob Pence.  He also sorted and loaded potatoes.  He worked in the Declo Drug Store, too.

It was a lonesome time for me when he was drafted into the armed services.  He left Declo December 26, 1944.  He served in New Guinea.  Wendell also served in the armed forces.  He was in Italy.  I stayed on in the apartment and worked at different things.  For a time I worked in the W. P. A. Sewing Room, driving from Declo to Burley.  I also worked in a potato plant in Burley where they were canning potatoes for the armed forces.  The next job I had was cooking in the Declo school lunch room.  I was an assistant at first, then made head cook.  The war was on and we had to have food stamps for the school lunch program as well as individuals.  We could not get half the meat, butter, milk, sugar, eggs we could have used.  We received lots of oatmeal, cornmeal, honey, grapefruit, grapefruit juice, some white flour, lard, powdered eggs, canned milk, dried prunes, lots of cheese from the government.  I quite enjoyed this job but most of all the checks.

The next thing I worked at was baby sitting and I had more calls for that than I could possibly do.  Some mothers were still having their babies at home and I would go there and be nurse, cook, and the whole works.  This was hard work but I quite enjoyed it.  Later, when mothers went to the hospital, I would go to their homes and take over their other children and home duties.  The pay was $1.50 per day.  It finally grew to $5.00 a day.  I always tried to do my best.  I got along well with the children.  I always seemed to win their love.  They enjoyed the stories and incidents I told them, about when I was a little girl.

During my life, I have helped at the birth of 14 babies, washing and caring for the baby the first time.  Two little babies were stillborn when I was present.

I have taken over in the homes while the mothers were in the hospital 6 or 7 days at least 23 times that I can definitely think of.  I have also gone to many homes to care for the children while the parents were away on trips.

In the early years, while raising our family, we took many contract jobs putting up hay and shearing sheep.  Sometimes tents were put up out in the meadows where I cooked for large haying crews.  On other jobs, our cook shack would have dirt floors and roofs.  All the laundry for the family was done with a tub and wash board.  The bread and other baking for the crews was a job in itself.

I felt I could not remain in the Simplot Apartments in Declo any longer.  They were raising the rent from $15.00 to $30.00 a month and the children were not close by and I had no reason to remain in Declo.  I had the feeling now that we had “made it” through hard work and the help of our Heavenly Father.  We had never forgotten our prayers during these difficult times.  When I had bad moments, I had these lines to help me:

1.      “Prayer is like a pathway between God and man.  A wise mankeeps the path constantly open through daily use.  If the pathway becomes overgrown through disuse, men may get lostand when his needs are great, be unable to find God.”

2.     “Supposing today was your last day on earth—the last mile of the journey you’ve trod.  After all of your efforts how much are you worth?  How much can you take home to God? Don’t count as possessions, your silver and gold.  Tomorrow you leave these behind, and all that is yours to have and to hold is the service you have given mankind.”

3.     “Each is given a bag of tools.  A shapeless mass and a book of rules, and each must make ere life is flown, a stumbling block or a stepping stone.”

In the fall of 1951, I completed a small house in Oakley next to Claire and Orvil.  Orvil had secured a carpenter by the name of Mr. Winks to build it.  All the family came to a painting party and painted it inside and out.

In my lifetime, I have had some very wonderful trips.  In one year, I saw both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.  Louise and Charles have lived in many different places in the United States, which has made it very much fun to travel to visit with them.  I love to travel by car, bus, train, or airplane.  I enjoy every minute of it.

While Charles and Louise were stationed in Spokane, Washington, I made a trip there.  While in Spokane, Rachel and Bill Moss’ baby was very sick in Simms, Montana, so I left Spokane to go to their place.

When Mike Tennant was a little boy, Louise and I drove to Alabama.  Charles was attending school there.  It took us 5 days to make the trip.  I came back on the bus.  It was a thrill to see the Mississippi River and part of the south land.  While they were in Southern California, I made several trips there, then I would usually go up to San Francisco to see Eff and Pete.  One time while in California, Eff and Pete, Louise and I  went to Tijuana, Mexico.  This was a fun experience to see how they live and do business.

Charles and Louise moved to Dayton, Ohio in 1957.  They lived in a place called Fairborn.  I was lucky to get to go back there also.  On that trip I went by bus to Pocatello.  Martell, Dora and DeAnn came to Pocatello from Salt Lake City to see me off.  I went on the Union Pacific Dome Liner City of Portland.  I left Pocatello on a Monday morning at 9:30 (April 12, 1958) and I arrived in Dayton on Tuesday at 10:20.  I stayed for about 8 weeks.  While there we went to Washington D. C., New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania and so many of the historical places I had heard of but never dreamed I would ever get to see.

In 1966, Martell and Dora took Claire and I to Atoke, Oklahoma to see Rachel and family.  We had a most enjoyable time.  We came back through Texas.  We stopped in Dallas and saw all the places concerning the assassination of President Kennedy.  We also visited the zoo there.  We visited the Grand Canyon on the way back.  Also the Glen Canyon Dam.

Another trip Martell and Dora, Claire and I went on was to San Francisco to see Eff.  It was in the winter.  Martell had to put chains on at Donner Summit.

Another trip was to Rapid City, So. Dakota when Louise and family were there.  I stayed several weeks with them.

I have made several airplane trips, the latest being in 1969 to Virginia when Charles was stationed there.  I left Salt Lake City February 22 and arrived back here May 13.  Again, I saw more of this historical country such as the White House, the Potomac river, Pres. Kennedy’s burial place, Pres. Eisenhower’s farm at Gettysburgh, the grave of the unknown soldier and many more.

When I returned from this trip, it was to a strange situation.  Claire and Orvil had moved to Burley and Kyle and Laurell were my new neighbors.

The summer of 1969 was a sad one for all of us.  Effie had a mastadectomy in December of 1967.  In June of 1969, they were afraid it was re-occuring.  They came to visit us in July, and in August she called to tell us there was no hope of arresting it.  In October, Bill Larson’s wife, Lucy, flew to San Francisco and brought her back to Magna.  She stayed there for about 2 weeks then Pete and Gene and Joel came from San Francisco and brought her to Burley to Claires.  I stayed there also to be with her.  She passed away November 10, 1969.  She had been in the hospital only one night and died there the following morning.  She was buried in the Oakley Cemetery.  I was happy she was back in Oakley.

I have made many quilts, some appliqued, at least three cross-stitched ones, crocheted bedspreads, yards and yards of pillow case lace, doilies.  I have knitted several sweaters, etc.  I quilted some quilts for sale, but most of my work I’ve given away.

I have had some rewarding church assignments, and felt I have been blessed and benefited by them.  I have worked in the M. I. A.; been Secretary of the Sunday School; also, held positions in Primary and Religion Class.  I was president of the Oakley Fourth Ward and Marion Ward Relief Society.  I was also a counselor in the Relief Society in the Oakley Second and Oakley Fourth Ward.  I have been a visiting teacher most of my adult life.

In my father’s family, we were always taught to attend our meetings and to have family prayers.  My father did not like us children to make slighting remarks about anyone, especially those in authority.  He would say “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all”.  Father was counselor to John L. Smith in the Oakley Ward, then they divided Oakley into four wards—first, second, third and fourth—and father was Bishop of the Second Ward until his death on October 28, 1909.

In general, I have been blessed with good health, but I have had several operations.  Dr. Rich removed my appendix in Ogden in 1915.  Dr. B. F. Robbins did an amputation of the cervix in L. D. S. Hospital on September 26, 1939.  Dr. B. F. Robbins operated on me for goiter on June 21, 1943 in the L. D. S. hospital, also.  Then in June 23, 1944, he took out my tonsils.

In October, 1959, Dr. Davis of Burley discovered I had carcinoma of the Uterus.  After radiation therapy at the old Cottage Hospital in Burley, it was decided I should also have surgery.  Martell made arrangements for me to see Dr. L. R. Cowan in Salt Lake City.  Claire and I first saw Dr. Cowan in November.  After a couple trips to Oakley then back to Salt Lake City, I was finally operated on January 28, 1960.  I was released from the hospital February 8th.  The Doctor was hopeful of a complete recovery.  I stayed in Salt Lake City until March 9th when the Doctor released me to go home.  My sister, Lois, and I returned to Burley on the bus.

I reported back to Dr. Cowan every 3 or 4 months until the 5 year period was up, then I went every 6 months.

In February, 1966, Claire and Orvil had an open house party for my 80th birthday.  All the family was present except Louise and Rachel.  Lois, Effie and Edward came.  Guina was not well enough to come.  Many of my old Declo neighbors came, along with well wishers from Burley and Oakley.

As of this writing, I have 31 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren with 5 great-grandchildren expected soon!

In November, 1970, Louise and Charles came from Colorado Springs (where they now have retired) to Oakley and took me back with them where I spent the winter.  In May of 1971, Janice and Mary, Orvil and Claire came to Colorado Springs, and took me back to Oakley where I spent the summer in my home there.  I took care of myself—watered the lawn, etc.—at the age of 85!  After some protesting, I was talked into using a walker since I had lost my sense of balance to quite a degree.

Harriet Mabel Hunter Richins died March 16, 1986, at the age of 100 years and 34 days.

History submitted by Alene Richins Reynolds