Our Dear Children,
We are introducing to you by word and by picture, the little home we were forced to leave in Mexico. Some of you “at the time of leaving,” were too young to remember much about the little home, others were born after we came out of Mexico, but you boys and girls who were grown, must have many sweet memories of the little home and community, so dear to us, your parents.
Your father’s brother, uncle Bowen, had lived in Mexico many years, and craved the companionship and comradeship of some of his own family. He urged your father off and on for several years, to sell out and move to Mexico. He said there were more advantages than disadvantages to living in Mexico.
They came together while on their missions in England, your father saying farewell, to the Norwich Saints and Elders, over whom he presided for several months, at the same time introducing Uncle Bowen who was just coming into the mission. They discussed the Mexican situation thoroughly, and I know your father intended to move to Mexico, as soon as he could after returning to Bountiful, but the Lord had other work for him to do. He was called into the Bishopric with David Stoker as Bishop, Henery Rampton as first Councilor, and your father as second Councilor. He served in this capacity about six years, and while thus engaged, the Spanish American war broke out, and as we have previously written, your father enlisted and went over seas to assist in conquering Spain.
He was gone almost a year, and when he had only been home five weeks, he received a very pressing invitation from Uncle Bowen, to come to Mexico on a visit. When he had been gone a month, I received a letter saying he would be home a certain day, and a certain train, which arrived in the evening. As usual, everything was made ready, even supper, all but setting the table. I thought I would go to the post office and see if there was any word to the contrary. I received a letter saying your father would not be home for another month. Now that was the straw that broke the camels back, also my heart. I hurried home, and into my bedroom, locking all the doors behind me, but presently one of the children came to my bedroom window, saying Grandma Call was in the kitchen. She said, “aye, my lass, dry your tears and meet me tomorrow morning at eight o’clock at the Bamberger depot, and together we will go to Conference.” Grandma thought the tears were because your father had failed to mail a check, which he had said in his letter he was enclosing. What do you think?
Well, the next thing Uncle Bowen did, was to secure a job for your father as bookkeeper, for the Consolidated Copper Co., in Naco, Arizona. This time he took Willard Jr. with him, leaving him with Uncle Bowen’s family in Mexico. During the summer, your father got a few days absence, and sent for me to meet him in El Paso, Texas and together we went down into Old Mexico to visit with Uncle Bowen and family and our young son Willard. Now all this time, your father was getting better acquainted with a young lady down there. I think he wanted me to meet her.
His job in Naco lasted until fall. He came home leaving Willard Jr. at Uncle Bowen’s. We began to earnestly make disposal of our home and property and prepare to leave the land that was so dear to us, to make a home in a faraway Mexico, under a foreign flag, and with Spanish speaking people.
It was late in the spring when we finally made the riffle. Before leaving Bountiful, your father sent for his nephew, Anson V. Call, who was a furniture dealer, to come and bring his catalogue. We ordered from or through him, enough furniture to furnish a six room home. It was shipped direct from the factory to us. We went to Uncle Bowen’s house where we remained a short time until we could locate a piece of property on which to build a home. We finally purchased a lot two blocks north of the Dublan meeting house and two blocks east of Uncle Bowen’s hone and a little south.
This lot was a rock bed, covered with hills and hollars, old scrapers, plowpoints, and everything a railroad man would need in his work. The only green thing on it was an apple twig with two branches, one about l4 inches high, the other about 8 inches high, which we cultivated and at the tine of leaving, had grown to a tree and was bearing fruit.
The house on this lot was an adobe shack or shell being void, of windows and doors. We proceeded at once to convert this into a home, and as you see in the picture, we did not do so badly. The house as it stands now in the picture consists of a large kitchen, three bedrooms, hall, parlor, sleeping porch, pantry and a brick summer room at the back. The kitchen faced the south and is covered with a beautiful madero vine, in the north side of the kitchen stood a 20 foot table, which comfortably seated the whole family. From the northwest corner of the kitchen, we enter the bedroom, and going east out of that room we entered another bedroom and still another which we will speak of later.
From the first bedroom, going north, we enter a beautiful hall, which is entered from the outside by way of a neat little porch, which was suspended by stone pillars. In this hall was the organ, a hall rack, and a most wonderful glass fronted book case, about 10 feet long. It had adjustable shelves, and was filled to overflowing with every kind of good books, ancient and modern histories, church works, a set of Britannica Encyclopedia of Useful Knowledge, magazines of every sort, bound volumes of the Juvenile Instructor and others too numerous to mention.
From the east end of the hall, which is just an archway, with a bric-a — brac at the top, we enter the parlor, a beautiful room, well furnished and carpeted, beautiful curtains and drapes and upholstered davenet, nice rockers, a china cabinet filled with china dishes from Japan. Also curieos from different parts of the earth. As you know you father has been three fourths of the way around the world.
From the southeast corner of the room, we enter through folding doors, a very nice large bedroom, the prevailing colors in the wallpaper were blue, hence we called it the blue room. The paint was salmon color. In this room we had two beds, a large wardrobe, a dresser, heater, sewing machine, “For this was our sewing room also” and a wash stand with a picture and hand bowl. The floor covering was a nice homemade rag carpet, which we took from Utah with us. Several of our children were born in this room. Liberty and I were, isolated from the rest of the family for two months because she had a bad case of smallpox. It was in this room little Afton died.
From the southwest corner of this room, we enter a sleeping porch, which by stretching canvas both ways, made a very comfortable bedroom, winter and summer. From the south corner of the house, a grape arbor led the way to an outdoor lavatory. We built a framework, and had every variety of grapes covering it with first beautiful vines and then luscious fruit. The sun scarcely penetrated so dense were the leaves.
In fruit season, out friends always knew where to find us as we prepared most of our fruit for canning and preserving under this arbor. West of the arbor and south of the house was a Thompson seedless grape vineyard, trellised up to give the grapes plenty of sunshine and at the time of leaving, we gathered bunches measuring 21 inches long. South of this, was our store and warehouse, from which we made a living for several years. North and east of the house, we had an orchard laden with fruit, pears, peaches, plums, apricots and apples. East of the orchard were the corral, the sheds, the windmill and the hen house. We let down the bars releasing the cattle and horses, took a board from the pig pen and propped the door of the hen house open, that all might have their freedom.
Quarts of fresh fruit, (mostly blackberries which grew along our fence) were hidden so many paces west and so many places south of the southwest corner of the cow shed in a lot which we had recently purchased and planted to grape vineyard. That fall Willard Jr. made a trip from El Paso, Texas, “where he was living,” to the spot where we had buried the fruit, and found it all in good shape. They recovered enough fruit to last them a year.
Our outdoor surrounding, at the time of leaving, was the best in town. The original picture from which yours is a copy does not do justice, as it was taken about four years previous to our leaving.
On our front lawn, were thirteen Texas umbrella trees. Your father kept all the under foliage trimmed off, leaving an umbrella shape at the top, with all the foliage over the top. On either side of the path, leading from the gate to the house, were catalpha trees arid coffee trees. A low hedge accompanied by a rustic seat, also led the way from the gate to the house. At the right of the kitchen, was a large swing which your father had made for you children. A little further to the right were some beautiful weeping willow trees, which were waving and drooping over the kitchen at that time. The pump was also in that vicinity. In front of the house on the outside of the fence, were some beautiful palms, also some black walnut trees and other shade trees.
We had only lived in the house a short time when all of our furniture came. We had matting and packing scattered all through the house, when all of a sudden the lightning came down the kitchen chimney. The stove pipe and lids flew in every direction, the elbow dropping at my feet, at the same time I dropped. This was one month before little True came to live with us. The shock put me to bed for a few days.
We next had a two months stretch of typhoid fever. Harold was the first to have it. He was recovering when Rettie came down with it. It was about this time, or a little before, that Aunt Leah came to live with us, and while Rettie’s fever was at it’s height little True was born, but with Aunt Leah’s tender care, and the blessings of the Holy Priesthood, we came through this ordeal with no bad results, and in this little home, we lived peacefully and happily for several years. Five of Aunt Leah’s children were born there and five of mine also. The only disturbing element, which came to us later was that just around any corner, for there were a lot of them, might be lurking mischief, for the Mexicans were in a state of rebellion and were preparing to fight for supremacy, one faction being Federal and the other Rebel. But we were advised to keep neutral and join with none of them. Which of course we did. Ws were law abiding community, honest in our dealings one with another and with our Mexican friends, always placing before them a good example and extending the hand of friendship, we were industrious, progressive, dependable citizens. Our religion was very dear to us on weekdays, as well as Sundays. We observed the Sabbath, kept the word of wisdom and attended to all of our church duties. We loved our neighbors as ourselves, and lived in perfect harmony with them.
Our social activities were all of a high class nature. We had our picnic parties, our house parties, our lawn parties, our dancing parties, and our dramatics.
We staged some of the best plays there that I have seen on any stage, in any country our dramatic companies were the very best. Each community had their own talent, and we used to travel back and forth with our plays. We had no picture shows and no public pleasure resorts, hence, we were forced to make all of our own sports and entertainment. Ball playing was common, horseback riding also, canyon parties were quite frequent, also fishing trips and hunting wild game.
East of our town, which by the way, was Dublan, were five natural lakes, which centuries ago had been cemented and used by a prehistoric people to husband the water, cultivate this same land which we had now purchased and were conveying the water from the river through a canal which our people had excavated and built, on prehistoric canal site. One of the most thrilling experiences of my – life was the raising of these big head gates by our people, which would release the water and carry it on local ditches on the thirsty land which by the way was hundreds or thousands of acres. Or people turned to in mass to witness these ceremonies We had speaking, singing and feasting. Our Harold did the barbecuing for the whole company. –
Later in the season, I think July, on a Saturday afternoon, as we were preparing to eat our dinner, a messenger came to our home with the startling news, that we were going to be disarmed, and must be ready to leave our homes at a moment’s notice, if necessary, as there were cannon trained on two sides of our city, and 500 armed soldiers within two blocks of is. Our Bishop, Jainais Pres. Romney, and a few of the brethren, counseled together and decided we would be unsafe, in a hostile country unarmed. The authorities had counseled our brethren to keep the situation in hand and act accordingly. –
We began our preparations at once, washing, ironing, sewing, cooking, darning and patching, were all done in one day and at 12 midnight, messengers were sent to each home, asking them to be at the depot in one hour, or on the ground in front of our Coop store, as we had no depot. Our children had to be taken from their beds and dressed, our bedding and trunks lashed and tied, ourselves made ready. But 1 A.M. found us at our destination there to sit around on our bedding until 8 A.M. when we were ushered into charred box cars, as there were only two or three coaches, which we gladly used for our aged and those who were ill.
Imagine if you can, our cheering when we arrived at the depot in El Paso, Texas in the U.S.A. a cosmopolitan city, of only 20 years. When we came crawling out of those charred box cars, and were ushered through a marble white station and into waiting automobiles1 where we were conveyed to three long sheds, which had been used to store lumber.
The two side sheds were not only roofed, but were boarded at the back and ends. The people of El Paso, Texas did all in their power to make life pleasant and sanitary for us. They laid flooring down. Each family had their own compartments which were separated by hanging blankets. They installed electric lights and sanitary lavatories. They furnished a large hotel cook stove. Fresh meat was given to us daily. They furnished all kinds of good wholesome food daily as well. They furnished all kinds of reading material and offered assistance in various other ways. Several families of us joined together and rented a row of tenement houses. They brought in large cook stove also, and we took turns cooking in the kitchen for the whole company. They also brought us fresh meat daily and it generous supply of good fresh food. Our government by now, had made us $20,000 appropriation to feed us until we could scatter out here and there among our friends and relatives. Your daddy was in charge of the company until Pres. Ivins gave us permission to leave and join our people in Utah. Our fare being paid by the church, your daddy was very tactful and efficient in handling the affairs of the community of People. He was busy every moment. I must forget to mention the fact that most of our strong men and boys stayed behind for a couple of weeks to determine whether or not, there might he prospects of returning to our homes, but no such good luck. Our men folk had to leave in the middle of the night to insure themselves a safe getaway. Well, so here we are and you folks know the rest of the story.
This writing is entirely from memory and could be a little faulty, but I have carefully considered all of the data and I think it is quite dependable.
Since beginning our story, we have buried Uncle Israel, last Sunday, November 27, 1936, at the age of 33.
There is one more event we must record in this story: Dora’s mission to England. We are all so thrilled about it. She goes into the mission home on the third of January, and leaves for her mission on the 12th of the same month, 1939. Another very important event is recording the loss of your father’s eyesight which came to him a year ago. It is a very great handicap to him, but he can see more than most men with two good eves. His health is also quite poor at times, but his family are all so kind to him that he enjoys life and is very happy.
Salt Lake City, Utah
(From Ray walker’s Book of Remembrance)