Our Family Legacy
I have drawn together all the information I could about my grandmother, and I present it here in my dad’s memory. I have taken from several sources, and give those credit for being faithful to the commandment to keep journals, write life stories, seeking their ancestors. They have been dedicated historians. I relied heavily on the works of my father, Lyle Whipple; my cousin and adopted aunt, Rowena Flake Dalton Rogers; and grandmother’s friend Roberta Flake Clayton. Without the writings of these extra-ordinary people, this record could not have made. I have used other sources as well, but I give these three special recognition for their writings and memories of a notable woman in Arizona’s History.
I dedicate this story to the memory of my father and to my two daughters, Ruth Ann and Mary Elizabeth. I love them both, and want them to know and remember and pass on to their children the memories herein presented. To my children I seek to pass on my love and adoration for all of my predecessors. --- DJW"
Rowena Celestia McFate was born in Toquerville, Washington County, Utah on November 14, 1867 to Joseph “Joe” Smith McFate and Olive Eliza Tenney. Her father and mother, my great grandparents, were both children of notable Mormon colonizers, faithful in the practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (herein referred to as the Church). My grandmother Rowena was born a third generation member of the church. Her father had left Nauvoo with his family as a two-year-old boy who his mother called “Little Joe”. Her father had met her mother while in the employ of Nathan Cram Tenney, near the community of Short Creek (now Colorado City), on what is called the Arizona Strip.
My great grandparents, Joseph and Olive McFate were married March 1, 1863 in Rockville, Kane County, Utah. He was 18 and she was 14. Their first home was a log cabin he built on the Tenney ranch at Short Creek. From there, in 1864, they moved to Virgin City, Utah to start their family.
On March 5, 1865 my great grandparents’ first child, Lucy Olive was born. She lived only twelve days. At the same time, a young couple by the name of Hopkins also lived in Virgin City. Sister Hopkins had given birth a month earlier to a baby girl whom they named Emily Jane. When Sister Hopkins passed away from complications of childbirth, Mr. Hopkins felt he could not care for his two daughters. He asked Joseph and Olive if they would take the daughter Adeline and the infant Emily Jane and raise them. Having lost her baby girl, Mother McFate was more than happy to take the girls into her own home to raise as her own. Emily grew to maturity in the McFate family and was loved by all.
From Virgin City, my great-grandparents moved twenty-five miles west of Rockville to Toquerville where my grandmother, Rowena Celestia, was born on November 14, 1867. Grandmother learned to walk and romp and play as any normal three year old child would. Her best friend and pal was her adopted sister, Emily. She was always a sister to Grandmother, and the two girls would watch out for one another..
When Rowena was born her father operated a grist mill. When the mill was idle, he did finish carpentry and built furniture. He spent a lot of his evenings keeping his young family in shoes, which he made himself. He built violins and played them as well. As most pioneers did, he worked long hours each day to provide the necessities for his growing family.
Grandmother’s first three years were normal and uneventful. On January 30, 1870 her brother Joseph Nathan was born. Shortly after that, young Rowena was taken ill. She was diagnosed with Inflammatory Rheumatism. Many years later, some wondered many years later if it was not, in fact, Infantile Paralysis (later known as Polio). At that time, Inflammatory Rheumatism often would lead to death because of the lack of medical expertise. However, this was not the case for my grandmother.
Her parents called in Church leaders for a special blessing. The Area Authority at the time was John D. Lee. He and others responded to the McFate’s request, traveling from Kanarraville. They pronounced a blessing upon Rowena. During the course of the prayer, Grandmother was promised she would live a long live. She was told she would raise a family and that she would be a righteous mother in Zion.
Her father and mother went to no ends to get her restored to good health. Traveling to Salt Lake City, they sought attention for Rowena. To be closer to the doctors, they relocated the family to Fairfield. While there her father worked as a contract freighter, hauling coal for the smelters and later, hauling ore from the Tintic mines to the smelter in Lehi. They were in Fairfield when Rowena’s brother, Ammon Mishic, was born.
Having been unable to help with Grandmother’s health problem, the doctors in Salt Lake City sent them to San Bernardino, California to see a doctor there. By this time, Rowena’s condition was so advanced, her knees were drawn up to her chest. The doctor’s recommended an iron brace be made to apply pressure to her legs and back. With the doctor’s direction, Joe McFate made an iron brace with screws at the knees, hips and back, which went from below Grandmother’s knees to just under her shoulders. When the screws were tightened, the brace really hurt. When her father applied the brace, the pain was so intense that Rowena would cry out in pain. Being unable to endure her daughter’s cries of pain, her mother would leave the home and go to the fields and orchard where she could not hear Rowena’s suffering.
Shortly after the brace was made they returned to their home and business in Toquerville. There they lived near hot mineral springs where they could bathe their daughter. Father McFate would take his daughter to the hot springs to bath on a daily basis. The combination of the iron brace and the hot mineral water baths improved Rowena’s condition; however, one leg remained several inches shorter than the other and she was left blind in one eye. These after-effects of her childhood experience with the Rheumatism were to be lifelong.
Grandmother, after months and months of this therapy, finally got to where she could walk again. She had to relearn this basic life skill, but did it well. The faith of her parents, and the perseverance of everyone in the family combined with little Rowena’s determination she overcame the worst of possible effects of her crippling disease.
She used crutches, which her father made, for some time, and her crutches were always near by. As she grew, she used the crutches less and less. By the time she was a teenager she very seldom, if ever, used her crutches. When her father would make her shoes, he always allowed for the limp. Between his craft, and Rowena’s determination, she could walk without even a limp.
Nine days before her eighth birthday, she was able to walk into the creek and be baptized. Brother William Johnson, a life long friend of the Tenney family, baptized her. Her parents must have been thinking of the special blessing she had received earlier in her life.
Shortly after Grandmother’s baptism, Joseph and Olive moved to Kanab, Utah. Their family now consisted of Emily, their adopted daughter; Rowena Celestia, my grandmother; Joseph Nathan, their oldest son, Mary Mariah, and Ammon Mishic. While living in Kanab, another brother and sister were born, James Smith and Olive Eliza,
Grandmother lived in Kanab for about four years. Although she spent her early school- age years there, Rowena was unable to attend school. In those days, education was not free. Students had to buy their books and supplies in addition to paying tuition. The McFate’s had several school age children, and on a ranchhand’s meager wages, schooling was a luxury. Rowena’s mother spent some time each day teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic to her children.
Late in the fall or early winter of 1889, the family began a move to Arizona. Joseph had been caring for his father-in-law’s cattle heard on what is now referred to as the Arizona Strip. His in-laws had been called by the Church to help colonize the Little Colorado River valleys in Eastern Arizona. They had first helped in the settling of Woodruff, Arizona and then further up the Little Colorado to St. Johns. It was time to get Tenneys’ cattle to them and so they made preparations for the move. They disposed of their Kanab property more quickly than anticipated so, for the winter, spring, and summer the McFate’s “made do”.
That winter they moved into a cave just north of Kanab in an area now known as Cave Lakes. Living conditions were not the best--certainly not what they were use to, but the cave was adequate. Other people lived in some of the caves on a more permanent basis. The caves were more an out cropping of wind blown red sandstone rock. McFate’s cave was divided down the middle with a spring. They kept their horses, chickens, and milk cows on the opposite side of the spring.
While living in the cave, an event happened that Grandmother never forgot. She and her older adopted sister Emily were very close. They did everything together. Mr. Hopkins decided he wanted his daughter’s back. He sent for Emily with instructions that they were to bring her back even if they had to forcibly tale her. Naturally, the whole family was upset. Emily was almost 14 now and she had lived with the McFate family all of her life. After much prayerful persuasion, Mr. Hopkins finally consented to the McFate’s keeping her.
Grandmother was able to revisit the cave when my parents were married in the St. George Temple. Both Dad's Mom and my Mother’s mom went to the wedding – all in one car. Grandmother recalled that they kept the household livestock in the cave away from the spring by building a fence. They took the cattle to a pond that the spring to feed and water. It was a hard winter, but when summer came, they were anxious to get started to what is now Arizona.
As they prepared to leave southern Utah, they rounded up the Tenney cattle and headed east along the Mormon Wagon Road. They had two wagons with horses pulling one, and oxen pulling the other. Others in the traveling party included those who were needed to help with the range cattle, and wagons for their support.
Grandmother was now on her way to live in Arizona. They joined the wagon trail in the vicinity of Fredonia, Arizona, and then headed east on the rutted wagon road. Driving the cattle made it difficult to travel as far as they would have liked to each day. At only 10 to 12 miles a day, they didn’t reach the Paria River for several days. Near the old town of Paria, they turned south and followed the river crossing into what is now Arizona.
About twenty miles inside the Arizona Territory, the wagon trail leaves the Paria River and winds down to the western side of the Vermillion Cliffs. One of the problems with this stretch that slowed them down most was the sharp branches of the scrubby trees that would catch clothing, tear canvas covers and scratch bare skin.
Traveling south on the Kaibab and Paria plateaus, they followed the Paria River and left the river when it dropped into the Paria River Canyons, which are narrow and impassable, except on foot. They continued in their southerly direction. It was now late Fall so it was cold. The wind blew a lot in that area and it blew hard. Dust would fly big dried weeds would roll all around them.
Before arriving at Lee’s Ferry, they crossed the Colorado River, where there were numerous springs and natural camping sights that provided protection from some of the elements. Among these were Pierce Wash Springs, Soap Springs, and House Rock, and the springs at Cliff Dwellers, many with a lonely homesteader. Coming off of the Kaibab plateau, they traveled south for days and then went around the south end of the towering Vermillion Cliffs. Then, they turned north on the eastern side of the cliffs and headed for Lee’s Ferry.
The wagon road hugged the Vermillion Cliffs winding through canyons, washes, spring-fed creeks, sand dunes and huge rocks that had fallen from the 3,000 foot cliffs. Traveling was extremely slow. Rowena walked all the way, herding her younger brothers and sister. Her youngest brother at the time was James, whom everyone called Jim. Many years latter, he recalled that trip. About all he could remember was how tight his sisters would hold his hand so he couldn’t get away from them. Grandmother would hold one of his hands and Emily the other. Olive, the families youngest child at the time, was just a toddler. She got to ride in the wagon, while everyone else walked most of the way.
Lee’s Ferry provided a welcome, but brief, resting period. Early settlers who arrived there found an oasis. There were orchards, gardens and people who were actually established in nice homes. This was a welcome sight after the high-desert traveling the McFates had just gone through. The Warren Johnson family was managing the Ferry for the Church. The Fort and Trading Post provided an opportunity to replenish basic items that were in short supply.
When it came time to cross the river—a much anticipated event--everyone had their own assignment. Emily and Grandmother were given the task of keeping Ammon, Jim, and Olive together, and out of the way. Joe was given his assignment with the men. The first task was to get the cattle across. They felt that $0.25 a head was too much to pay to ferry them across, so the men decided they could swim the cattle and other livestock across.
Grandmother and Emily latched onto the young kids and hiked to where they were swimming the herd across. They spent the day watching. Anticipation and excitement grew as the time came closer to board the ferry. The family rested for the night. Then, the next morning, bright and early, they went to the ferry.
Crossing the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry was a very strenuous task. The Ferry itself was difficult enough, but the mile and a half immediately after the Ferry ride was the most difficult part of their long, arduous journey to their planned destination of St. Johns, Arizona. The mile and a half, Lee’s backbone, had to be a test in itself. Uncle Jim’s memory was quite vivid. The custom was that, after crossing the river, the men folk would take the wagon and begin scaling of Lee’s backbone”. In the McFate’s instance, this involved two wagons. The mile-long trip up generally took a day to a day and a half per wagon, and then the half-mile down the other side took another day of moving only inches at a time. Only one wagon at a time was allowed, just in case a wagon would unexpectedly roll backwards.
After resting up, they started out again, heading for Moenkopi, which was about three miles south of Tuba City, and seventy miles to the southeast. Upon leaving the Colorado River, it was customary to travel a full seven miles to Navajo Springs on the first day. The seventy miles from the Colorado River took them much longer than they had planned. They followed the wagon road that zigzagged to avoid the many canyons in the area. It wasn’t unusual for the trip from the River to Moenkopi to take three of four weeks of rigorous travel.
After leaving Moenkopie they traveled southeast. They joined the Overland Mail Route and then followed the Little Colorado River to the settlements that were around present day Joseph City. Here, they met friends that had left southern Utah prior to the McFate’s when the communities created by the Cotton Mission began to fail. A period of reunion was held for sure!
Remaining on a more easterly course, they headed out, passing through numerous Painted Deserts, and the Petrified Forest, where they saw fallen trees turned to stone over thousands of years. After being on the trail for two and a half to three months they finally arrived in St. Johns at the home of Grandmother’s grandparents, Nathan Cram and Olive Tenney, on December 23, 1880. What a joyous day that must have been, parents uniting with daughter and son-in-law, and grandparents meeting grandchildren they had never seen.
Rowena’s father bought a city lot in the southeastern part of town, near where the court house currently stands, on the Company Ditch. He built them a small L shaped house. It was probably the typical three-room house. It was built with logs and lumber.
When Grandmother was not busy helping her mother with chores, she found time to swim. Their home was near the Little Colorado River, and there was a good swimming hole. She would also take some of the younger children to wade in the Company Ditch.
Grandmother started her formal schooling in St. Johns. Her first term was with Mr. Edmond Richardson in a one-room, adobe school which was also used for the Church House. She also attended her second term in a one room school with Mrs. Annie Romney. The benches were logs cut in half with wooden pegs for the legs. There were about 100 students, half being of Mexican descent.
This is the only formal education that Grandmother had. In those days an education was a luxury that would get set aside for other responsibilities. Consequently, education for the children came second to helping at home. Rowena learned through the experiences of life and from parents who taught their children both in the principles of the Gospel, and in the necessity of learning the value of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Grandmother learned at a very early stage in her life how to read and write.
One of the fun things Grandmother remembered about living in St. Johns was the wedding of Joseph Peterson and Emma Richie. Although the ball room had a hard compacted dirt floor, the music of Joe McFate’s fiddle playing provided enjoyment for all. Grandmother remembered the gala affair throughout her life.
The family wintered in St. Johns when Grandmother was 13 years old. Then, her father got a logging contract in Flagstaff in the spring of 1881. He took his family with him and they lived in a tent and a wagon box for the duration of the contract. He cut timber and hauled it into the famous Riordan Flagstaff Mil, where the logs were made into railroad ties and then, he would haul them to where the railroad was being built.
On the way to Flagstaff, Rowena met a dashing young man. The McFate family spent some time at Winslow, Arizona, while they waited for her father’s brother-in-law, Ammon Tenney and his party to join them. Traveling with Ammon’s party was Edson Whipple, Jr., an eye catching young man of 24, who had jet black hair and deep blue eyes..
Her sister’s boyfriend had come along to help Grandfather McFate, so Rowena had been left alone a lot of the time. But, with Whipple showing up and fate as it is, they were soon paired off and having a good time together. Grandmother was so attractive she couldn’t have been alone long. With her deep brown eyes, full of excitement and her long braids of auburn hair that looked like shimmering, fresh spun copper; it would have been hard for Edson Whipple not to notice Rowena.
It wasn’t long before Edson and her sister’s beau had Rowena and her sister in the wagon for a ride. The wagon was made for hauling logs, so it had no seats. Edson, wanting desperately to impress this new-found friend, placed a couple of wood plank across the sides of the wagon box and made seats for himself and Rowena, and her sister and her beau. So the four of them climbed in, and took off on a ride, all sitting on two makeshift seats. The boys planned on taking turns driving the wagon.
After Edson took over the reins, he and Rowena were seated in the front and her sister and her beau were behind on the second plank. Edson, trying his hardest to really impress this beautiful new friend, started going faster and faster. After he had built up considerable speed, he hit a rough spot in the road. The planks slid off the edge of the wagon box and crash the two couples were all mixed up in the bed of the wagon amid squeals and giggling. This thrilling ride was long remembered. A true friendship was formed that didn’t take long to ripen into love,
Following the families stay at Flagstaff, they returned to St Johns and a very short time later moved to Forestdale, just west of Show Low, Arizona. Here the family was confronted by the Indians living in the area. When the boundaries of the Apache Reservation were extended to include Forestdale, the small community of Mormon colonizers was forced to move, leaving their crops and homes. The McFate’s returned to St. Johns, where they were right at home among the Tenney family.
In the summer of 1883, Grandmother’s father moved the family to Bush Valley (now Alpine, Arizona). Alpine, located about 75 miles south of St. Johns, and five miles from the New Mexico state line, was to be Rowena’s home until she exited from her father’s family. Grandmothers father operated the first small saw mill in Alpine.
The romance between grandmother and her young man, Edson, continued to flourish. He came to Alpine whenever he could and he even took a job in the McFate sawmill, just to be closer to his intended. Their courtship continued and on January 1, 1884,“just to start the new year right,” they were married in Alpine, the first couple ever married there.
Grandmother remembered every detail of that special event. Her mother made her wedding dress of gray wool trimmed with blue satin, according to the latest fashion, with Basque, pleated skirt, over skirt, and lots of puckers. All the people for miles around were invited. A huge supper and dance followed the ceremony. They made thirty gallons of beer for the occasion. Many years later the bride of fifty three years rapidly added “lest you get the wrong impression, they could have drank the entire thirty gallons and not got drunk.”
Following the wedding, Edson took his bride to Show Low to introduce her to friends and relatives. They remained there about a month. After visiting with everyone, they returned to their first home in Alpine. Edson built a one room log cabin out of Quaking Aspen logs and they moved in. They lived there for about a year and a half. During this time, the Whipple’s first child, Lucy Olive was born on February 21, 1885.
Rowena’s own mother gave birth to her sister Clara while the Whipples were living at Alpine. Grandmother enjoyed living near her parents. Edson worked in the sawmill and raised potatoes. After about a year and a half, Edson’s father was planing to relocate to the Mormon colonies in the country of Mexico, so Edson and Rowena moved to Adair to assume his fathers home, farm and cattle.
They moved into the old blockhouse that was known as Whipple Hall in about 1886. Show Low Creek crossed the Whipple Homestead, which provided water. The block house was located above the creek on top of the ledge that crossed the homestead in a northeast/southwest direction. They maintained a small cabin by the creek that was used to take care of the milk and do canning as well.
Whipple Hall was not only a home for the Whipples, but it was a gathering place as well for anyone who needed a place to stay. This was to be Rowena’s home for the next nineteen years. Here she gave birth to most of her children. It remained their home until they purchased property in Show Low in 1903.
The town of Adair was a small settlement of eleven families, with a total of 63 individuals. By 1894, the little community had dwindled to four families who lived near the small schoolhouse. Eight other families lived within just a few miles of the school. Edson and Rowena’s home was a couple of miles from the school, central Adair. The children walked, or rode a horse to school.
Granddads farm was a non-irrigated farm, as were all the farms in Adair. Grandmother would spend days down on the creek canning and drying produce so they would have sufficient for the winter, until the next crop was harvested. She bottled lots of beans and corn and other vegetables that Edson raised. The produce was grown below the bluff close to the creek. The land above the bluff was used for the cattle. That area was quite rocky, but the wild grasses grew well and the livestock were all well fed.
Many times whenever Grandfather would go out to work away from the farm, Grandmother would go with him so he would have a hot noon meal. She always fixed for everyone working in the area. One of her great attributes was that she always cared for and looked out for others. She often said she never ran a hotel, but many nights the floors of their home were covered with beds for those who needed a place to stay. She never turned anyone away.
When they moved into the block house on the ranch, there were port holes cut into the walls for defense against the Indians. However, Grandmother never remembered an incident when she thought defense might become necessary. Once she was down by the creek enjoying some time with the children. She needed something from the house so she sent her right-hand helper, Lucy Olive, up to the house to get it. When Lucy opened the front door, she heard a loud “bang!” She went running and screaming to her mother, very pale and frightened. She thought there were Indians in the house. Grandmother had to get up enough courage to leave the children and go back to the house to check it all out. After sneaking up to the house so as not to let the intruders know she was coming, she opened the door ever so quietly. To her joy, she found that, as the door had opened, a hammer had fallen from above it, nearly hitting Lucy and making the loud noise.
The Indians who came by on occasion were never hostile. They were just looking for food. Grandmother never turned down a hungry man at the door. She would share the last food in the house with those who needed it. Often, the native Indians would bring “fixings” along with them, knowing that Grandmother could cook anything. She would sometimes clear the cupboard of food just to be sure her guests had sufficient. They would often repay her by doing up the woodpile, or help Granddad on the farm.
As mentioned before, Grandmother never ran a hotel, but many times the floor was covered with beds, with her own children giving up their comfortable beds for a guest. Grandmother said she never charged for a room or a meal, but once. A hungry Mexican came by needing something to eat. He offered her fifty cents. Since the cupboards were bare and Granddad hadn’t brought the garden harvest in yet, she accepted the money and sent one of the children off to the store to get makings for biscuits and gravy. Many times that’s all she could offer, but it was always the best eating they ever had.
While living in Adair, Grandmother was called to serve in the Relief Society Presidency. On May 20, 1894, she was set apart as secretary by Brother M. P. Cordon. It is reported that, on many occasions, the meeting was held at Grandmother’s place because it was large enough to do quilting and other projects at the same time. This was the era of the Church when the members of the Relief Society had to pay dues in order for the organization to function. Many times Grandmother paid with three eggs, a pound or two of rug rags, bottled food, and dried meat. Anything that could be used by the sisters to accomplish the goals of charity for which the Relief Society is noted, was acceptable.
It’s interesting to note that the Adair branch was very small and only a few attended regularly, and Grandmother’s name appeared in the records as often as anyones. On one occasion the sisters were discussing a project that some of the presidency felt they should do on a continuing basis. Grandmother spoke in favor the task. Reading on in the minutes you find that the project was to make burial clothing for those needing them. The Adair Relief Society took on the task and grandmother volunteered to supervise the project.
During the 19 years the family lived on the ranch at Adair, Grandmother learned to rely on her eldest daughter, Lucy Olive. Lucy and her mother were very close. They cleaned together, cooked together, later on went to Relief Society together. They were truly mother-daughter friends. Relying on Lucy was easy as she had a pleasant personality and was always so willing to help. Lucy was 15 when they moved from Adair into Show Low.
My grandmother gave birth to nine of her children while living in Adair. Lucy had been born at Alpine.. Those born at Adair were Lavinia Goss, Joseph Edson, William Mickel, Levi Lisk, John Lowell, Columbus, Ammon Mishic, Rowena and Reed Yeager. Edson and Rowena purchased their property in Show Low in 1903. They moved the old block house from the ranch into their newly acquired Show Low property a piece at a time, reconstructing it to serve as home while the built a nice new home to live in.
They started building the new home in 1903, but it was not completed until late 1912 or early 1913. They moved in about the time Dad was learning how to walk. Grand mother was proud of her new home, and enjoyed many conveniences that were not available in the old block house. After they moved into the new home the blockhouse was used as a barn, a black smith shop, a spare bedroom when company would come, and for many other uses.
On May 18, 1916 Grandmother’s own mother, Lucy Olive, passed away in Salt Lake City. My father was only 5 years old when this happened. Her grandfather was killed many years earlier while Grandmother was still a child. She remembered that incident throughout her life.
In 1918, World War I broke out. Grandpa and Grandmother sent four sons to that war, and had a fifth already enlisted and waiting for his assignment when the war ended. Their oldest son, Joe (Joseph Edson) was in the Artillery, Will (William Mickel) was a sailor, John Lowell was a marine, and Columbus served in the Infantry. Grandmother was extremely proud of her military sons, as each one of them took on their patriotic duty in serving in the war.
Each one of her sons that served with the military had a special place in Grandmother’s heart, but for Will it was the last of his earthly life. Grandmother received a wire from the Navy saying her son Will was to be operated on back in the states, at the Navy Hospital in San Francisco, and would be returning home as soon as he recuperated. He died during surgery. His brother John Lowell was allowed to escort his brother’s body home, accompanied by a cigar box full of pennies and nickels given as a love token from Will’s comrades.
Grandmother always walked with a limp, but as her children came each birth crippled her more and more. On one trip her father made to see them he built a pair of crutches for her. Finally, she would never again walk without the aid of crutches. Her father could see that crutches were necessary. Granddads father came from Mexico and my dad remembered him making crutches for his mother also.
1920 brought new learning experiences for Grandmother. In October, a cataract formed in her only good eye. From May 1921 to October 1922, she was totally blind, which created very few problems for her. She attacked life with her usual positive nature and continued to care for her family as best she could. He daughters, Ecco and Walrade were a great help and comfort to her.
She sat down with each one of her children who were still at home to explain that she was going blind and may never be able to see them again. She expressed her love to them. In Dad’s case, she lovingly stroked his hair as he knelt by her in her favorite rocking chair. Dad was nine years old at the time, and he still loved to have his mother stroke his hair.
During the time she was blind, she was not idle by any means. She continued to take care and waited upon herself in her traditional “can do” attitude. In addition to waiting on herself, she washed dishes, made the beds, and did her other normal household chores. She braided twenty-eight rag rugs, crocheted hundreds of yards of lace, some of which were very intricate designs and with very fine thread. She pieced four Wedding Ring quilts (one each for her four unwed sons) during her blindness. She continued knitting socks for the boys and Edson, a task she learned to do before she was sixteen. She never stopped doing until all the men folk had left home.
One of Grandmother’s favorite sayings while she was raising all her boys was that she could patch jeans with her eyes closed. Little did she realize she would have to do just that, while actually blind instead of just closing her eyes. Grandmother had taught her children, even the boys, how to take care of the house, wash and iron their own clothing, cook, and so on. She continued doing what she had always done, taking care of her Edson as best she could.
Again, a time in her life came that a special blessing was in order. This time Apostle James E. Talmage was in Arizona visiting the scattered stakes in Arizona. The family prevailed upon him to give Grandmother a special blessing. This he did. During the blessing he promised her that in due time she would receive her eyesight back.
At this time, most of the boys were still at home and they helped out. Columbus was the cook. Grandfather spent his spare time digging pottery on their place in Show Low, while everyone pitched in and made their mother as comfortable as possible. Each one of Grandmother’s children had great love and adoration for their mother. This experience in her life surely did much to further foster this love. They were taught by their father, mostly by example, to care for her, tend to her desires, and to treat her with all the honor and love that he demonstrated toward Grandmother throughout his life.
Throughout Grandmother’s life she was never able to dress and care for her own feet. Her children grew up seeing their father fold his legs under him and sit on the floor at her feet to dress and care for them. He always felt honored to do this for his wife. Taught to them by their father’s example, the children throughout the years all had the same opportunity and considered it a privilege and an honor to do this for their mother.
Columbus got married in September 1922. In October, after Grandmother had been totally blind for 18 months, Columbus and his wife Bessie took his mother to Salt Lake City to see specialists. They decided while there to go ahead and have the surgery the doctor recommended done while they were there. She was in the hospital for ten days and after that she could not use her eyes for 30 days. She remained in Salt Lake for about 45 days.
Returning to Show Low, grandmother continued to care for her family and Edson. Uncle Reed was the oldest child still at home and my dad, the youngest, was going to turn eleven years old. The other children still at home were Forest, almost 20 years old, Hugh, 18 years, Waldred, 16 years, and Ecco; 14 years old.
1923 stared a new era for Grandmother. Her children started leaving home and the responsibilities would get passed on to those left at home. The oldest living child, Joseph, “Uncle Joe” and his wife Violet lived in Mesa and had then moved to Globe. Her son Ammon married Libby Olsen in February of 1923 and moved to Superior.
Granddad was a collector of Indian relics. In late 1927 he decided he would sell the collection as there was a lot of interest in it. Considering the size of the collection and the demand, he decided to ask $ 2,000.00 for the artifacts. No one ever thought he would get that price. In fact, there were those who thought the collection was worthless.
A man came along and offered them $ 1,500.00 for the entire collection. It consisted of clay pot, some of which was reconstructed piece by piece, stone tablets, stone hammers, bone needles, bracelets; rings, earrings, beads, turquoise, and many beautiful ollas. This was a great deal of money to them, more than they had paid for all the property they owned, or had ever owned.
Selling the collection presented the problem of what to do with the money. The family got together to help them decide. Grandfather and grandmother couldn’t make up their minds whether to either spend it on themselves, or on the family. It was decided that the money should be used to go on a trip. Grandmother had lived with her husband in Show Low since 1884 and had only taken one trip together, to Thatcher in 1913 for her parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Grandmother went to Salt Lake for her cataract surgery but no other trips were made out of Show Low.
Selling the collection gave my grandparents the opportunity to purchase a new car, a brand new 1928 Model T Ford. Neither Granddad nor Grandmother could drive but their sons were always willing to chauffeur them anywhere they wanted to go. With this money, they were also able to take a touring trip back to Washington DC.
The family met together and decided that Joe would be the one that would drive them on their trip. He had been on his mission in South Carolina and had made many friends in the southern states. They got ready, loaded up in their new car and headed east.
There trip took them through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and as far south as Jacksonville, Florida. They then turned north into Georgia, and on through the Carolinas, Virginia, and into Washington DC. They took a more northerly route home. The trip took weeks and grandmother talked about it the rest of her life.
Following this long trip, Grandmother’s life began changing quite dramatically. Her Edson tried to run the farm, but found he could no longer do that. Granddad got diabetes and in those days it was always devastating. Grandmother started to care for him with the same love and affection that they demonstrated to each other all their married life. Granddad always wanted his hot cakes and coffee for breakfast, and she fixed them faithfully, even after he became bed ridden.
Grandmother had always depended on her daughters Walrade and Ecco for lots of help. As she aged she found it necessary to rely on them for more and more. Her Edson was getting sores on his feet most of the time and she continued to care for him.
Granddad passed away on April 4, 1933. It wasn’t unexpected as he had suffered a while, but still that left grandmother alone. The family missed their dad, but none more than Grandmother. Both Walrade and Ecco both married and living with their husbands, but they helped whenever they could. Forest and my dad were the only children left unmarried and both of them were out of the house.
Under these conditions Grandmother could no longer live alone in the house that Edson had built for her. So she divided up her property sold the ranch to their dear friend, Jim Stratton. She also sold the cattle herd. Uncle Joe, who lived right next door, was able to purchase the town property with the big home on it for $500.00. She was able to give each of the living children $ 100.00 and still save some for herself. She received a small government pension for the rest of her life.
She moved in with Aunt Ecco and Uncle Don Tanner. He was the postmaster so he purchased property adjacent to the post office and was able to be very close to home. They built a new modern home with bath, and pumped water in the house. The Model T was old so Grandmother purchased a new car so some of the boys could drive her places. By this time, it was getting very difficult for her to hop around on her crutches.
Grandmother had crocheted all her life and by now she was considered the expert of the community. By June 20, 1941 she had crocheted eight bedspreads for each of her living children, and made numerous dresses, dresser scarves, dollies, and handbags. She kept her hands occupied all the time. During May of 1941, she crocheted a beautiful white silk dress for her granddaughter, Josephine. Grandmother always made her own patterns for the dresses and this dress was no exception. She used a pineapple motif throughout the dress. Josephine received many compliments on it.
While raising her children she, taught the girls to crochet. Ecco became proficient at the art and carried on the tradition of her mother. Grandmother taught several of her grandchildren. Today many of grandmother’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren have prized crocheted pieces made this grandmother and those she taught.
Grandmother went to Superior, Arizona to stay with Uncle Forest and Aunt Zelma during the winter of 1941 and 1942. She felt much better at the warmer, lower altitude. She said she would like to spend each winter in the valley if she could, but she did not get that opportunity. Upon returning from Forest’s home, her health became very poor. She could no longer stand and she became bed-ridden.
In May and June of 1942, she suffered a great deal. Aunt Ecco took care of her every need and did if with such great love. Violet May, Uncle Joe’s daughter, was there to help too. In the last couple of months, Grandmother had to be lifted whenever she needed to move.
Grandmother knew that she would soon be reunited with her eternal companion. The last part of June, she was in such pain she felt she needed to see her loved ones one last time. Her brothers Joseph, Roy, and Don all come with their wives to Show Low. She had not seen Joseph in years. They all talked and reminisced for hours. Her children were all scatted, but each one came at their mother’s request. My dad and mother came from Kingman, Arizona. Joe was working in Mesa, Arizona and his family was in Show Low. He came early in June. Reed started up from Ajo, Arizona. Walrade and family came from California. Columbus came from Ogden, Utah. Hugh and Dorothy lived in White River, Arizona and came home to Showlow. Forest and Zelma had moved back to Show Low. And of course Ecco and Don were there all the time. Her eight living children came home to bid their mother onward into a new birth and a renewed life with her eternal companion.
Grandmother always did for herself whatever she was physically able to do. This remained true even with her funeral plans. She let it be known who should be asked to speak, sing and pray. Jim Stratton, a longtime friend of the Whipples, and John L. Willis, another friend, teacher, and bishop for twenty years., were to speak and pray. Violet May and Josephine were to sing “Mother Macree”.
Having seen her loved ones, some who needed to return to their jobs, on the evening of July 7, 1942, Grandmother told those remaining around her bed that they should not feel bad if she did not wake in the morning. Another friend, Jesse Jarvis came by later that evening. When he heard what she had said, he wanted to leave that night to get ice. He left for Mesa then and said he would bring Joe back with him.
They were up most of the night. Then in the morning, at about 5:00 a.m., as the sun was coming up, she quietly passed away in her sleep.
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