Sunday, February 28, 2010

Emma Elizabeth Robertson Creer

David Russell Creer's Paternal Grandmother

Emma Elizabeth Robertson Creer

Emma Elizabeth Robertson Creer, wife of Willard Orson Creer, pioneer, was born April 9th, 1854, in the Old Fort at Palmyra, west of Spanish Fork. She was the eldest daughter of William And Eliza Woodyatt Robertson, who crossed the plains in 1852. Their eldest son, John, was born October 6, two weeks after their arrival in Salt Lake City.
The following year, Emma’s parents moved to the Old Fort. In March 1856 the Old Fort was abandoned and the families were instructed, by Pres. Brigham Young to move to a location three miles east, now known as Spanish Fork.
Her father drew property on the corner of Main Street and Second North Street. A dugout was provided for the family where they spent the first summer while adobes were made and a two-room house was built by James Miller.
This property was owned by the family until sold to the government for the building of a United States Federal Post Office. When the corner stone for the building was laid the following statement was enclosed. “Bought by William Robertson from the Government and bought back by the Government.”
In this home the family, consisting of nine boys and two girls were reared. As years passed, additions were made to the home until it consisted of eight rooms. In this home they family enjoyed the pleasures afforded in those days and endured courageously the hardships.
For years her father had charge of the sacrament. Her mother with her assistants made the bread and took care of the sacrament linen. Their Sunday evening meal consisted of crusts from the bread used for the sacrament.
Emma’s health was not the best during her girlhood, so she was spared the heavier home duties. She enjoyed sewing, so she took care of that part of the family needs and her sister Jane, who preferred housework, helped with the household tasks. Many are the reminiscences of her girlhood, such as shopping at the Rockhill store, a block building on the corner of the Rockhill block on Main and First North streets. The building was also the dwelling place of Mr. and Mrs. Rockhill, its owners.
The goods were kept on shelves on each side of the mantle place. There she purchased bleach at one dollar a yard, calico at 50 cents a yard, and 25 cents for a spool of thread. She and her sister Jane were happy owners of shoes. The tops and buttonholes were made by their mother and the soles by Charles A. Davis.
Emma and Jane helped their mother glean wheat each year from their twenty- acre field. The wheat sold for four dollars and fifty cents. Their mother liked to see her girls dress as well as circumstances would allow and with part of the money from a years gleaning she bought each of them a pair of shoes.
Emma had a weak back so she was allowed to wear her corset or stays as they were called, on washdays as well as Sunday. Hairnets were worn on all occasions.
Wool comforters were the headdresses for winter and she bought a comforter for $1.25, she earned from sewing for Mrs. James Miller.
Material for her dresses was made of linsey, for ordinary wear and delain, lawn, calico, and alpaca for special occasions. In one photograph she wore a dress made of black and white check. At one time she and her sister Jane had dresses made from their grandmother’s wedding dress, an English print with a green background, also a dress made from their mother’s wedding dress of violet English print.
Among the many things sent to them by their grandmother Thomas from Salt Lake City, was a brown alapa dress for Emma’s mother. The dress was trimmed with black velvet and a hat of black tucan straw with bead trimmings around the edge and a velvet bow in front. This outfit was the envy of her girl friends.
Emma split the straw, her mother braided it and Margaret Bjarinson sewed it for her hats. Her mother trimmed them with ribbon, some of which was attached to the front of the crown for her to hold to keep her hats on her head.
She wore her hair in braids also other styles except bangs. Some of the hairstyles called for circle combs, back combs and hairpins as long as five inches with bangles on them.
In her declining years she had permanents and often visited the beauty parlor. The first gold piece of money she saw was shown her by a peddler passing through to Camp Floyd.
The scriptures, especially the New Testament, were studied in her home and in Sunday School where verses were memorized or read by the class members. Once in a contest held for finding the most names used for Deity, Emma and her sister Jane found the most names, fifty. Jane remembered all the references and won the prize.
Recreation consisted of fruit cutting bees, wool picking, sewing and spinning, also dancing. On several occasions she carried her large spinning wheel to the Morrison Hall for spinning bees sponsored by Jane Warren. Dances were held in this same Hall. The music was furnished by John Murray playing the fiddle and Fred Lewis the delcimor. Private dances were held in homes for small crowds, mostly in the homes of Joseph Chapple and Captain Davis, with room for two sets of quadrille.
Mrs. Butler was Emma’s first schoolteacher. School was held in a one-room house located on Second West Street. Silas Hillman was her second schoolteacher. The schoolhouse was a one room building located on the east corner of the City Park.
Mrs. Mary Jones, mother of Jane and Mary Bradford, taught school first in her own home then moved to the little one room school house located where the Thurber school is. Later Emma returned to the Hillman school located in a small house located where the Rees schoolhouse now stands. That concluded her schooling until the fall of 1871, when she with Mary Elizabeth Miller Bowen and Eleanor Bowen Thomas, her girl friends, entered school in Provo, which held forth in the William Lewis building on Center Street.
It was the first brick building erected south of Salt Lake City. Their teachers were Wilson Dusenberry and John E. Booth. The curriculum consisted of reading, writing, arithmetic and geography.
The school is now known as the Brigham Young University. The girls boarded with Mrs. Simms, the mother of Mrs. Mary Nuttal of Salem.
When the girls came home for Christmas holidays, Emma decided to get married to Willard Orson Creer. The event took place on the 15 Jan. 1872 in the Salt Lake Endowment House. They were five days making the trip of team and wagon.
The first night they stopped at the boarding house of Mrs. Lucy Andrus, located just north of the point of the mountain. The following evening they arrived in Salt Lake City. Emma spent that evening with her grandmother Thomas. The next day they were married in the Endowment House having previously had their endowments.
Emma’s parents being in moderate circumstances, her father gave her a dollar to spend the morning she left home. The morning after her marriage she went with a friend to Z.C.M.I. store to spend her money while Orson attended to some business. The clerk must have thought she wasn’t a very prospective customer because he didn’t seem anxious to serve her, in fact he was snobbish. She finally decided on a pair of vases.
When Orson came to do shopping, she told him about the incident. He resented such treatment, so they went to Walker’s store. There they spent $6.00. The bill was paid in twenty dollar gold pieces. At that time Orson freighted to Pioche, Nevada by mule team.
Among the things purchased were feathers for a bed and pillows, a clock and a lamp, the only ones in the store. They also bought a bed room set, a cupboard, a set of plain white dishes, a stand table, cook stove, enough three ply state carpet for one room, sheeting in two yard widths, the first she had seen.
She made the sheets, feather bed and pillows. Ready-made articles were not thought of at that time. The feather bed, dresser, cupboard and table are still in use.
Emma and Orson started house-keeping in their home, one half block east of Main street on Second North. The following summer she bought her first sewing machine.
She sold peaches she dried and bought kitchen chairs, a heater, and a bolt of factory. She also made sacks for the Co-op store and a bolster for the Flourmills. With the proceeds she bought black silk material also fringe for trimming for a dress. Aunt Grace Matley took it to Salt Lake City to be made and was fitted for it.
She made her own soap of saleratus and maple ashes, dried corn etc. The first musical instrument in the home was an organ from Mrs. Mary Angel, a cow was given in part payment. This was later traded in for a piano.
Emma carried all her babies, not owning a baby buggy.
In 1882, Orson built a brick two story house on the corner of Main and 2nd North, where she live until after Orson’s death June 6, 1917. Later she sold the corner and built a home at 44 East and Second Street.
She was head of the quilting committee also was in charge of the burial work. She and Orson were members of the Old Folks committee for twelve years. She was a member of the Genealogy committee and was actively engaged in Temple work.
In 1938 she decided to keep a record of the names and dates of those for whom she had done work. The records show nearly four hundred names, for two years, part of which were for charity. She also has a record of names she paid to have done.
Her needlework has brought her renown, which may be found in many homes as wedding, shower, birthday and Christmas gifts. Her work has been displayed in fairs. She won a special prize at one of the Utah County Fairs for holding the largest premiums at that Fair.
She has worked many Temple aprons, presented to her sister, brothers, and wives, in which to be buried, also some sister and brother-in-laws and close friends.
During the influenza epidemic she was called to prepare burial clothes for victims of that dreaded disease.
During World War I, she spent a great deal of time at the Red Cross room as head of bandage making. She also knitted a great many sweaters and pairs of socks.
In her second home she had lived within a radius of one half block for sixty-three years.
In her declining years, she always had a piece of fancy work on hand to occupy her casual moments. At the age of eighty-eight she finished a beautiful tablecloth.
She was the grandmother of 33 grand children and twenty-two great grand children.
Emma experienced the various modes of travel except the airplane. She also experienced the electric iron over the old rod iron heated over willow fire or coal fire and a furnace over the old fireplace, the electric light over the glow of the candle, or fireplace, the cement pavement over the mud and dusty path. The papered walls over the lime white washed walls. The electric sewing machine over the little steel needle and the treadle machine.
For many years Orson sold his grain and made an annual trip to Salt Lake City where he and Emma purchased a year’s supply of groceries, a bolt of factory, bleach and calico.
The material was made into shirts, drawers, nightgowns, aprons, dresses, pillowcases and sheets. Among the groceries was a box of raisins, tomatoes in gallon cans, syrup in five gallon barrels, sugar by 100 pounds and a large bucket of candy for the holidays, a box of soap, currants, and sacks which had been washed and dried ready for use.
Coats for the boys, also suits, shoes and material for Sunday dresses were also purchased. The things were sent by freight. On the day of arrival, it was a holiday to the family to watch the unpacking.
Six of Emma’s children also her husband, preceded her in death. She died 27 August 1943.

Willard Orson Creer

David Russell Creer's Paternal Grandfather

The Life History of my Father, Willard Orson Creer
Written by Emma Creer Hitchings

A brief synopsis of his ancestry immediately preceding the generations of Willard Orson Creer, my father, may be helpful in identifying, and be the means of keeping alive those traditions and memories of our people. It is well to pause in life’s busy course and recount the deeds that constitute their mission that we may keep nearest our hearts the ideals and standards so vital in their daily conduct that it may promote our welfare and kindle in us the hope which enables us to meet life’s problems with optimism and courage.
We find on the Isle of Man, the personage of John Creer, the great grand father of Willard Orson Creer, who earned a livelihood on the Isle by fishing and shoe making.
In the year 1790, he emigrated to England and evidently became a resident of New Haven, Sussia Cumberland County, England, for at this place his son Mathias was born Oct. 15, 1791. Nearly twenty years later, Oct 3, 1810, Mathias married Nellie Greenhalgh. To this union was born eight children: Jane, Edward, Nancy, Elizabeth, Catherine, Robert, Margaret, and Phoebe. Edward, the oldest son, Willard Orson’s father was born in Bolton, Lancastershire, England, Nov 3 1813. The date of this birth may well be remembered coming at a time when England allied with the Continental Nations in a supreme struggle against Napoleon Bonaparte. The war of 1812 was also raging between England and the United States of America. It was a period of great trial for the inhabitants of the British Isles, and the Creer family was called upon to carry a part of the burden of the War.
For years Edward Creer was a factory worker where he learned the construction and operation of woolen and cotton mills. This knowledge was later of material assistance to him and his associates in the installation of the first carding machinery in Utah.
He was employed in the construction work of the Provo Woolen Mills for a period of three years. The following nine years he worked as a spinner in the factory.
When Edward was twenty years old he married Miss Ann Morris of Preston, England. She was born Dec 27, 1813 in Chorley, Lancastershire, England, the daughter of William and Mary Hargraves Morris. Her grandfather, Thomas Morris, was born at the same place in 1751. His parents were toilers of the soil, which occupation he followed for fifty-three years. His wife, Nancy was born at Chorley in 1765, and died at the age of eighty six.
As a child, Ann Morris worked as an apprentice in the silk and lace trade. While working as a glazer in the silk and lace factory she met Edward Creer. They were married and both worked in the factory until motherhood and family responsibilities necessitated Ann to resign.
Fifteen children honored this marriage. Twelve children lived to enrich the lives of this devoted couple.
In 1837 the missionary work of the L.D.S. church was started for the first time in the British Isles. The Creer family was one of the six families to greet the Elders in their home. Following their conversion and baptism, their relatives and friends turned against them. At this time Feb 2, 1841, Willard Orson Creer was born. At that time opposition was great and the bitterness of their family doctor was so intense, Ann feared his services. Not knowing what to do the Elders were consulted, they were Orson Hyde and Willard Richards, who were staying at the Creer home and for whom they held the highest esteem. Elder Richards told her if her faith was strong enough they could set apart a sister to care for her and no medical assistance would be necessary. Ann consented without delay and in due time and with faith in the power of the Priesthood, Willard Orson Creer was born and to his family he was justly called a child of faith. It was a testimony to all, one that carried down through all his life and the lives of his descendants. When he was blest he was given the name Willard Orson, after the two Elders.
His mother was blest by Elder Richards and told she could go to Utah and perform a great mission in ministering to the sick and afflicted in Zion. The results of this promise record the deliverance of over one thousand babies besides the services given among the sick. Through the assistance of Dr. Richards, Ann was taught the things that qualified her for this great mission. She learned the secrets of the herbs and of nature. The attic of their humble home in Utah contained herbs that were dried for the use of the sick. The attic of dried herbs was a picture her children never forgot.
After Ann and Edward joined the L.D.S. church, they were anxious to come to the Promised Land. In the fall of 1847, they and their family of seven, Edward’s four sisters and his mother set sail of their voyage of eleven weeks. They landed at New Orleans and by steamboat went up the Mississippi River to St. Louis. Edward obtained work in a coal pit and his sons William, 10 years old and Willard Orson six years also helped to pile coal as it was brought from the pit. Thus the two boys helped very much to earn monies to journey westward to Salt Lake City, which was their earnest desire. Finally three yoke of oxen was purchased to make the trip.
Mormonism was very unpopular in the town of Gravi, where they were living, it also was in the surrounding vicinity. It was not always wisdom for Mormons to make it known that they were members of the L.D.S. church. One morning when Orson’s father entered the mine he was met by John Sharp, later a prominent resident of Salt Lake City, who addressed him by saying, “I think you are a Mormon.” The reply was, “I think you are too.” The Creers soon discovered that a number of Mormons were working there and soon a branch of the Church was organized and they were permitted to enjoy more privileges and blessings from their religion. Among the members were the Miller, Davis and Morgan families who later became prominent citizens in Utah localities.
Aside from Orson’s mother’s services among the sick, she took boarders during the gold rush in Calif. One of them as he bade the family farewell promised he would send her the first gold nugget he found. He kept his promise and it was made into a pair of earrings, a brooch and a ring. These heirlooms are still in the possession of the Creer family.
After living in Gravi seven years, they joined the Independence Company led by William Fields. Edward Creer was appointed captain of a division of Camp called “A Ten”.
Orson only thirteen years old drove three yoke of oxen from St. Louis to Salt Lake City. He was considered one of the best drivers in the company.
The family arrived in Salt Lake City, Sept 27, 1854. Soon after their arrival he went to work driving the teams hauling from Red Chute canyon to the Church in Salt Lake City. He hauled some of the capstones used on the north side of the temple. He also hauled rock for the Beehive House, Lion House, Sugar House and for the Penitentiary. This work was during the fall of 1854 and the spring of 1855.
Promising opportunities were foreseen for Utah Valley. Edward Creer and his eldest son, William left Salt Lake City, March 3rd and went to Palmyra, the first camping grounds for the Spanish Fork Settlers. Orson worked for Mr. Banks herding cows and doing farm work. The settlers built a mud wall from the river to dry creek, a distance of four miles. He did Mr. Bank’s assessment work on the wall and Mr. Bank’s received credit for a man’s wages. He worked all spring and summer for an acre of wheat. In 1855 he and his brother William walked to Salt Lake while his arm was mending after being broken a result of falling from a mule. The families living consisted of corn meal mush and roots dug from the ground.
On Feb 1857 when Brigham Young instructed the people to move south, Orson and his brother returned to Spanish Fork to complete preparations for the family to come. Upon arriving there the boys purchased a lot and built a dugout, secured a team and returned to Salt Lake for the family. It was their home for five years. Then a house of sun-baked adobes was made by the father in which all the family participated. Orson’s brother Edward age nine, and sister Ann, age seven, felt the responsibility of turning the adobes to dry. Even the mud roof was looked upon with admiration and pride.
He (Orson) hauled wood from the Spanish Fork Canyon, facing the cold winter breeze with only buckskin pants and a shirt made from curtain hangings brought across the plains. He hauled straw across Utah Lake on the ice to Camp Floyd, with the money he bought his first coat – after coming to Utah.
He was married to Barbara Ferguson, Nov. 13, 1862 in the Salt Lake Endowment House. She died Aug. 2, 1868, leaving two children, Barbara Catherine and William Orson, A son Willard Edward having died.
Orson freighted to Pioche and owned a team of large gray mules and two teams of brown mules. He was very successful in this occupation. He owned a house of two large
rooms, well equipped for that time. It was located one half block east of Main Street on second north. It still stands and is occupied. Later he purchased a threshing machine which he operated for a number of years. It was run by six span of horses and turned out seven hundred bushels of grain per day.
He was married to Emma Elizabeth Robertson, daughter of William and Eliza Woodgate Robertson. Her father was of Scottish decent and her mother English. She was born 9 April 1854 at Palmyra, the original settlement of Spanish Fork, Twelve children were born to this union, six of which have passed on. They were:
Emma Elizabeth
John William
Mary Jane
Eliza May
Roy R.
Christy Dell
When the Union Pacific railroad was being built in 1869, a contract for grading at Promontory Point was bid to Orson, his father and Lewellyn Jones. He was present when the first train arrived in Ogden. He worked on the extension of the railroad to American Fork, also from there to Provo.
He was employed by John Young, a brother of Brigham Young when the railroad was extended from Provo to York. He bought farming land and invested in cattle which continued to be his source of revenue throughout his life.
In 1876 he accepted the position of Superintendent of the Spanish Fork Co-op store, in which capacity he served for three years. He resigned to again supervise his cattle, farming and other interests.
He later served as President of Spanish Fork Co-op store board of Directors.
Shortly after his second marriage an addition was built to his home. The home was well furnished for those days.
In 1868 a large, two story house was built in which he spent the rest of his life.
Orson took a very prominent part in the civic affairs of the city. In Feb. 1883, he was elected City Marshall and the following March he was appointed the Chief of police and served for eight years.
Although prohibition was not practiced at that time, the citizens were greatly molested by the so-called bootlegger. So Orson’s ability to discipline the City was really tested. He was successful in fulfilling the duties and resigned with the full confidence of the citizens whom he served.
A forceful incident, while he was police chief, happened. While the family was eating dinner he was called to arrest a man, who had insulted a lady in a store. The proprietor ordered the man out, but he refused to go, but was removed after being handcuffed and put in jail. Orson returned home with his face and hands scratched and bitten by the prisoner. When his wife (Orson’s) cooked a Thanksgiving dinner, the prisoner was reduced to tears when he was served.
Orson was elected a member of the City Council in 1891 and in 1893 a councilman. During his term of office, the Spanish Fork main street was graded under his supervision. Lumber boxed flumes were placed down the side of each sidewalk to take care of the irrigation stream.
The East Park was leveled and used for a ballpark. These two projects were a big improvement to the City.
In 1890, he built a two story brick building near his home with the intention of establishing a grain. The upper floor was used for a schoolroom for sometime because of a shortage of classrooms. Later it was rented for mercantile purposes and later sold to the Farmers Co-op association.
He for sometime bought and sold grain for the Salt Lake Brewery Co. He as a firm believer of making a practice of paying as you purchased. His word was as good as his bond and honesty in his dealings was an outstanding characteristic of his life.
The United Order was tried for a while, but was unsuccessful. When Orson was asked about it he always said, he thought the people were not ready for it.
He was an advocator of good schools. He served two terms as a school trustee. During this time, the Central School Building was erected and dedicated in 1896. Later he was re-elected for a term of three years. He was instrumental in getting a high school started with Joseph A. Rees as instructor.
The services Orson rendered in the irrigation of the community were outstanding. He served as water master for several terms. In 1903 he resigned to accept a missionary call to England. He had advanced in the Priesthood quorums and was ordained an Elder in 1862, a Seventy in 1868, and a High Priest in 1906.
On his arrival in England, news soon spread that a Mormon Missionary, who had lived in that vicinity over 50 years before was making a tour of the streets.
He was not adapted for public speaking, so his best success in delivering the messages of Truth was gained in fireside conservations with his investigators.
He met his ninety-four year old aunt, his mother’s sister, Peggy. She and her bachelor son were friendly with him, but did not approve of Mormonism to be discussed. However the three of them had tea together every Tuesday afternoon.
The son was a highly paid singer in the Church of England where Orson’s mother sang as a girl.
Orson took a prominent part in Politics. He belonged to the Democratic Party and served as a representative to the 2nd State Legislature in 1897. He was a member of the irrigation committee. He drafted an irrigation Bill which failed to pass. That bill was later acknowledged by irrigation authorities as that would have bettered the irrigation system and would have prevented many of the disputes that later arose.
Orson took pride in raising the standard of fine stock, especially horses. He always drove fine looking teams, well cared for. He received many prizes at the State Fair.
One year, he won a sweepstake on a mare and her colt. For this he received a gold medal the size of a twenty dollar gold piece.
He was and Indian War Veteran. January 24, 1894, the first Reunion of the Black hawk Veterans was held in Springville. He was instrumental in securing pensions from the Governor for the War Veterans and also for the widows of the Veterans.
Although he was deprived of school education, only having six weeks of school, he took every opportunity for self-advancement. He was a great reader and kept in touch with current issues of the time, both national and state.
Orson had a strong testimony of the Divine mission of the Church and of a future life. He was a faithful Latter-day Saint.
After he returned home, he retired from public life. He was appointed presiding teacher over the Ward teachers and a Sunday school teacher in the Parent’s class. Because of failing health, he resigned both offices.
He underwent a very serious operation at the age of sixty-eight.
He died June 4, 1917. The day previous to his death, his widowed sister, Jane Skinner, whom he had looked after called to see him. She remarked that she didn’t know what she would do without Orson. She contacted pneumonia that night and passed away the day after he died. His funeral services, with a packed house of relatives and friends bore testimony to a long life of service he gave to this community.

Morris Creer

David Russell Creer's Father

Biography of Morris Creer
By Mary (Mollie) B. Creer
(Mother was 85 years old when she wrote this)

Morris Creer was born Feb 10, 1881 and was the sixth child of Emma Robertson Creer and Willard Orson Creer. He was baptized Aug. 1, 1889 by A. E. M. Beck. He attended the Spanish Fork public schools.

Morris was especially gifted in mathematics and enjoyed working with figures. His ability in this respect was so useful to himself and his family and helpful when he was a bishop.

He attended the Latter Day Saint Business College and expected to follow a business career. However because that work required such close confinement, he gave up the idea and decided to be a farmer. He worked with his father, who owned a rather large good farm south west of Spanish Fork (about 4 miles) in Leland (a farming area and there was and LDS ward there).

When Morris was seeking a farm of his own, he went to Idaho where his older brothers, William O. Creer and Ralph Creer were farmers. Morris expected for file on land there. After living there almost a year, with his brother Ralph and family, Grandpa Creer was called on a mission to England and asked Morris to return home and take care of the farming, which he did. After Grandpa returned home, Morris and I (Mary Ann Bowen) were married June 6, 1906 in the Salt Lake Temple. We lived in a rented home in Spanish Fork where our first son, David Russell, was born April 1, 1907.

Grandpa gave us several acres of land in Leland. We built a frame house, which consisted of a bedroom, living room, kitchen, pantry and a large closet. We dug a flowing well and planted fruit and shade trees. We also dug a cellar and had outside buildings.

Our second son, John Willard, was born Nov. 4, 1910 and a third son, Clare M., was born Sept 25, 1912.

Now we had three children and Eleanor and Roy had three. Roy was working on construction with his brother William O. Creer. Grandpa Creer was in declining health so Morris and Roy did the farming. The farm was not enough to support three families (Grandpa’s, Roy’s and ours) so we moved to Idaho in the spring of 1914. Grandpa and Morris went to Idaho to buy a farm. They bought one, which consisted of somewhat more than one hundred and sixty acres. It was located four miles south east of Bancroft in the Lund Ward. The house contained two rooms below and two above which were built of logs. The kitchen was built of lumber and lathed and plastered. The cellar was built of lava rock and convienently located near and north of the house. What a blessing the windmill was, nor only for ourselves but also for three of our neighbors. One of them hauled water from our well for culinary purposes and for watering their chickens. He brought his cows and horses to the watering trough. The light in his home and in one more than a mile away were the only lights we could see from our home. The farm had a blacksmith shop with a few tools, a granary, a stable and some machinery. We also had a share in an old-fashioned threshing machine.

Our first girl, Afton, was born Jan 9, 1915. During that winter Morris and his cousin, Reed Creer, hauled logs from the nearby mountains. They sold them to a man who owned a sawmill. They also hauled mahogany wood for fuel as it made a very good hot fire. In the spring Morris was busy plowing and planting grain. In August there was frost so our crop was poor. One of our neighbor’s horses had distemper and he watered them in our watering trough, consequently two of our mares took it, which resulted in their deaths and the loss of their increase. Morris had to hire his uncle’s horses to do the harvesting and fall plowing. After doctoring a large gray horse for several months this horse did also.

Had we not borrowed $500 from Grandpa Creer to make the down payment on the farm, we would have moved elsewhere, we were so discouraged. However we were determined to repay grandpa. In 1916 we had another frost but by being conservative we somehow managed to survive the loss.

Our second girl, Jeneve was born Jan 9, 1917. There were two feet of snow on the level and four miles away from a doctor. Neither Jeneve nor I got along well.

For a few years our crops were good. July 2, 1921 ninety acres of fall grain was frozen. There was not even grain to thresh for our year’s supply of flour. When Morris came into tell me the grain was all gone. I’ll never forget the expression on his face. I told him I was very sorry but could not worry about it because I had something greater than bushels of grain to think about. If we have a strong healthy baby and we both get along well we will manage somehow. Our third girl, Mary, was born July 21, 1921. We both got along very well. We got along financially quite well considering conditions. My dear parents sent us $100, which we very highly appreciated and it was such a big help. They were truly friends when we were in need.

During the depression of 1930-31-32, the crops were poor and the price poorer. Grain sold for 15 cents a bushel and cows for $10 a head. My mother came to visit us. It was doubtful that there would be High School in Bancroft. Mother suggested that Afton and Jeneve go home with her to Spanish Fork, saying that it would cost nothing for room and board. However before she left it was decided to have High School. Jeneve went with mother but Afton stayed because she expected to graduate the next spring.

Apostle Melvin Ballard attended one of our Quarterly Stake Conferences. Some farmers were leaving their farms. He advised them to stay on their farms and raise all the food they could and keep the commandments of Lord and the windows of heaven would be opened and our crops would be so bounteous our granaries would not hold them. We lived to see the prophecy fulfilled. Morris had to prop the granary walls to keep them from bursting. In another meeting he prophesied that in the next ten years there would be more inventions, more discoveries, more research, etc. than there had been in the last one hundred years. This prophecy was fulfilled.

Mother’s account ended here except for his line of priesthood and setting apart as Bishop and Bishop’s counselor, which will be noted on another sheet. I (Jeneve) added the following comments.

Father was a devoted and loving husband, father, son, brother and a good friend and neighbor. He was a respected member of the community and as active in church and civic work until he became ill in 1945. He did temple work whenever he could arrange time away from the farm work. He served in the Sunday School and Mutual for many years and was Bishop of Lund Ward for about 13 years. He served on the school board in Lund and later on the consolidated district board for many years. He was active in politics and other civic activities.

Father was an industrious hard-working man and taught we children the value of work well done. Whenever possible he took time to take us swimming at Lava Hot Springs, ball games the boys participated in, local celebrations, movies, etc. I remember seeing him play marbles with the boys – sometimes we girls played also – on the kitchen floor. Many evenings were spent with him playing fish, checkers, Pollyanna and other favorite games.

In 1945 he found it necessary to give up farming because of poor health and moved to Salt Lake then to Spanish Fork, Utah where he passed away June 19, 1946. He was buried in the Spanish Fork Cemetery.
Survived by:
Wife, Mary Ann Bowen (Mollie)
Sons, David Russell
John Willard
(Clare M. died June 16, 1923 and was buried in the Lund, Idaho cemetery)
Daughters, Afton (Mrs. Delton Ward)
Jeneve (Mrs. Ernal P. Galbraith)
Mary (Mrs. Dean D. Gray)
And ten grandchildren. (now 17 and many great grandchildren)

Afton made the following comments:

I feel that Father was a kind and helpful husband and father. I remember that when we were small, in the wintertime especially, that on Saturday nights he used to help mother to wash and dry our hair, have our baths and get to bed. We used a round #3 washtub so bath time was a little more of a labor than now. I remember many times when we girls were tired after supper Dad would say, “Mollie, let them go to bed and I’ll help you with the dishes.” Father always helped mother on washday – carrying water and seeing that the gasoline powered washer kept working. He always helped with the spring and fall house cleaning and painting, too. In later years during the winter father often helped mother to tie quilts. He wanted us to do well in school and was always willing to help us with our lessons.

I’m glad father and mother taught me to love the Church and the Gospel. I’m glad, too, for the feeling of love and security that they gave to me as I was growing up and even after I was married.

Morris Creer was ordained a High Priest – November 17, 1929 by Joseph Fielding Smith.

Ann Morris Creer

David Russell Creer's Paternal Great Grandmother

Ann Morris Creer

Thomas Morris, paternal grandfather of Ann Morris was born in Chorley, Lancashire, England in 1751. His parents were farmers. He followed that occupation for fifty-three years. He died in 1846. Nancy, his wife was born in Chorley, Lancashire, England, in 1765, and died at the age of eighty-six in the year 1850.

William Morris father of Ann Morris Creer was born in Chorley, England in the year 1790. He also was a farmer by occupation, but he spent considerable time in the employ of a cotton manufacturer. He married Mary Hargrave, who was born in Orage, Lancashire, England.

Ann Morris, the daughter of William Morris and Mary Hargrave, was born in Chorley, England, December 27th, 1813. As a child she worked as an apprentice in the silk and lace trade. After several years of service in this vocation she accepted employment as a glazier. This work required skill and experience. She became expert in glazing the costly articles of trade. Her experience in fashioning silk and lace patterns rendered her services of special value in decorating and designing dishes for the high class trade. While employed as glazier her acquaintance with Edward Creer developed into intimate courtship. Just prior to their marriage she returned to the silk and lace factory, where her experience as designer in the lace trade proved of unusual worth to her and to her employer. She continued as skilled designer of the laces and silk products until her marriage to Edward Creer, June 21st, 1835. She was twenty years of age at the time of her betrothal. The following year their first child, William, was born February 18, 1836. The second child, Ellen, born May 7, 1837 in Preston, England, died in 1845 as a result of burns sustained in a singular accident.

The year 1837 marks the opening of a very eventful period in Ann Creer’s life, the arrival of the first Latter-day Saints Missionaries in England to open a mission. Ann and her husband were among the first to hear and to embrace the Gospel. She told with pride how deeply she was moved by the sermons of Orson Hyde and Willard Richards. After listening to one of his first addresses, Ann invited Orson Hyde to take supper with the Creer family. From that time on her home was open to the Elders. Orson Hyde, Willard Richards and President Brigham Young were numbered among the numerous missionary guests of Ann and Edward Creer. It was in the Old Rag Shop in Preston that Ann and Edward first heard the Gospel message proclaimed. It was in the Old Rag Shop that they heard Brigham Young expound the message of the restoration of the Divine Will and the mission of the Latter-day Saints. The following year, 1838, Edward and Ann were baptized into the Mormon Church. Because of this action, the young couple were severely ridiculed and denounced by both friends and relations. The Morris family even denied them privileges of the parental household. The Morris prejudice is illustrated by the following incident. Edward Morris, builder of the first railroad in England and uncle to Ann, came to their home just prior to their departure to America in 1847. He did not know they had joined the Mormon Church, but had learned indirectly that she and her family had intended to migrate to the United States. As contractor he had become very wealthy, and being philanthropic in spirit, he came to offer Ann material assistance on the trip. She often told how well he treated her upon his arrival at Preston. But the story changed after his visit with the oldest sister of the family, Peggy, who was a pronounced enemy of the Mormons and lost no occasion to poison the mind of any who approached her upon the subject of Mormonism. Uncle Edward was no exception. Evidently, he too was influenced by the highly colored tales of Peggy, for he never returned to carry out his promise of assistance for the emigrants. Nor did she hear about or from him again until after his death, when the report come to her that she had been made heir to part of his estate. But this good fortune never materialized. It may have been true that Ann had inherited part of the wealth of her uncle, but she never realized anything to substantiate the report.

For a considerable part of the time, 1838-1842, Willard Richards, a physician of some repute, lived with the Creer family. From him, Ann learned the things that qualified her for the great mission, which she performed in ministering to the sick and afflicted in Zion. In the meanwhile the family treasury was sufficiently strong to permit the Creer family to sail for the promised land of their dreams. The father and mother had gone into the factory to make the way possible. The parents of the husband had been kind enough to care for the children during the working hours, thereby making it possible for them to go into the factory.

It was truly an eventful day when they left their old home to go to the docks. There were no old friends there to say goodbye, to bid them God speed on their perilous voyage. Of her folks she saw little or nothing. They looked upon her with scorn. Her sister Peggy was the sole relative there at the boat to bid her farewell. And she ridiculed, she argued, she criticized and warned, but to no avail. The kingdom of God with its powers and its blessings was worth more to the emigrants than all of those untrue relatives and friends who frowned upon her and her adopted faith.

It was in 1847 that the eleven-week voyage took place. In the party were Edward Creer’s mother, his four sisters and the family. The mother, seeing that the son and his family were determined to carry out their plans decided to join them and throw her lot with theirs. Edward’s father continued in his old course (being an addict to the use of liquor) and declined to follow the others. At this time the family of Edward and Ann consisted of six children. The seventh member, Ellen, the oldest daughter, died prior to their sailing.

The emigrants went directly to St. Louis. While at sea the measles epidemic broke out on board. All of the Creer children contracted it and suffered considerably. Mathias, the fifth child of the family was very ill when orders came from the officer in charge that the children should be dipped in the sea. This measure was adopted for the purpose of disinfection. As a result the child grew seriously ill, the contracting of the muscles of the leg as a result of the immersion, causing severe rheumatism and lameness. He was a cripple the rest of his life.

The party, as stated before, settled in St. Louis, where the father took employment in the coalmines. During their seven years residence they were called upon to pass through a severe cholera epidemic, which was eventful in the lives of so many St. Louis emigrants. It was here that Ann received much experience as a nurse and doctor. In St. Louis, Edward’s mother and one sister, Margaret, died. In addition to this loss two children, Ellen Ann and Robert succumbed to the terrible malady of cholera. Fortunately, however, two new ones, Alice and Edward were sent to grace the fireside of the severely tested parents.

The various scenes while crossing the plains need not be repeated here. It is pleasing, however, to recall the incident of the brown medicine chest, which Ann prized so highly. She had brought it from England with her. Late in the journey across the plains, when the oxen became weakened and tired, the captain of the company issued orders that all surplus articles be left. The men went through the wagons and unloaded all the things that could be possibly spared. The old brown medicine chest was unloaded with the rest. A prompt protest was registered with the captain. When he insisted that orders be followed, Ann balked. If that chest could not be taken to the mountains then she would be obliged to stay with it. Needless to say, they were both taken on the journey. This chest was instrumental in saving lives after the arrival in Salt Lake City in September 1854. From this time forth Ann ministered to the sick in accordance with her blessing, and succeeded in getting into the homes of the leaders of the community. Her practical knowledge of herbs and medicines made her the friend of the people of the city. Many have borne testimony to the service, which she rendered to the poor and needy. For her services she generally took whatever the patients could spare. Some gave flour; some food, some cloth and others were able to give her only their blessings. But that was sufficient for she was in the service of the Master and material things were subordinate to that dedication and purpose.

It is of special interest in family history to recall an incident connected with the reception and accommodation of the first handcart emigrants. News was spread that the train of handcarts was nearing the valley. Among those valiant pilgrims were many friends of Ann and Edward. Mary Riley mother of Tom Riley and grandmother of Mrs. Morris Martell, was in the company. Mrs. Riley was baptized in to the church the same time as Ann Morris Creer. Being baptized together, and having worked in the lace factory together, the arrival of the handcart company was of special concern to Mrs. Creer. Fired with enthusiasm, and sympathy, Ann and Edward went out to meet the newcomers. They met the historic train in Emigration Canyon. Warm greetings were exchanged. Among the emigrants still other acquaintances were found. Sixteen altogether were taken to the Creer home for care and shelter. Among these were the
following: Tom Dobson, Alice Dobson, Henry Dobson, Thomas Riley and his mother, Marjorie Summer. The Dobson’s were among those converts who entered the church when Ann Creer was baptized. Truly there was a happy reunion of the saints from Preston. As the emigrant train moved down the slopes of the valley of the Great Salt Lake, those merry Englanders sang with spirit and thanksgiving.

Edward Creer

David Russell Creer's Paternal Great Grandfather

Edward Creer

Edward Creer was the second child and oldest son of the family of Mathias and Nellie Greenhalgh Creer. He was born 3 November 1813 in Bolton, Lancashire, England. For years Edward was a factory worker where he became acquainted with the construction and operation of woolen and cotton mills. This knowledge was later of assistance to him and his associates in the introduction of mills into the territory of Utah.
At twenty-two years of age he married Ann Morris, 21 June 1835 in Chorley, Lancashire, England. She was born 27 December 1813 in Chorley, Lancashire, England. They were the parents of twelve children.

After their marriage, Edward and Ann accepted employment in the factory at Preston, he as a spinner and she as a weaver. In this way they were able to equip themselves for home keeping. They labored at the mills until motherhood and family responsibility necessitated that Ann resign.

In 1837, the first missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came into their life. Among the early converts were Edward and Ann Morris Creer. They were baptized at Preston, England in 1838. Edward and Ann opened their home to the missionaries. In spite of ridicule, persecution and severe denunciation by his wife’s parents, Edward stood by the Elders. In the early church records at Preston, Lancashire, England, Edwards name is found baptizing many people into the Church. His family felt the spirit of the Gospel and offered encouragement to their children. To provide means for a voyage to Zion, Edward and Ann went to the mills and labored at the old trade while his parents cared for the children.
In the fall of 1847 the family had sufficient funds to cover transportation expenses. They sailed for America together with Edwards mother, four sisters, his wife and six children. For eleven weeks the sailing vessel in which they took passage battled with the winds and the sea.

Edward led his family to the coalfields of St. Louis. He took employment at the mines at Gravois, a coal-mining district near the city. While here, two of his children, Ellenor Ann and Robert died. Two new ones, Alice Ann and Edward, were sent to comfort and bless he and his wife. Edward dug coal and the boys, William and Orson hauled it to market.

Edward’s family endured hardships working to pay for transportation to Zion. During this time, Nellie Greenhalgh, Edward’s mother and Phoebe, the youngest sister died.
The family joined the Independent Company led by William Fields and started westward. They arrived in Salt Lake City 25 September, 1854.

The first year Edward and his two sons, William and Willard Orson, worked for John Young, a brother to President Brigham Young, taking provisions for their pay. During the critical years, when the grasshoppers and crickets wrought destruction to the fields, Edward worked in the “Temple Quarry.” He labored here until 1857 when the call came to obstruct the advance of Johnston’s Army into the Salt Lake Valley.
Edward, accompanied by his eldest son, William, joined the forces of Lot Smith and went forth to burn the wagons and stampede the cattle of the approaching army.

In 1858, Edward and his family took up residence in Spanish Fork. They located on the corner of 6th North and 1st East. Their first house was a “dug-out” Though it was only one room with a cane and mud roof, it sheltered the parents and five children for several years. Three of their children, William, Mary and Willard Orson moved to Spanish Fork before Edward brought the rest of the family. Soon after the move, the two oldest, William and Mary were married and Willard Orson went to work for William Banks.

Improved conditions came. Edward made by hand sufficient sun baked adobe to erect a two-room house. This “elegant” structure was regarded with high esteem by those who had risen from the subterranean dwelling to the surface of the earth. Even the mud roof was looked upon with admiration and pride.
An early sawmill owner, Archibald Gardner came with shingles, and to the family’s delight, the first roof was removed, the adobe walls raised and a shingled roof added to complete a superb edifice.

During the Indian troubles of the early sixties, Edward Creer, served as a home guard while his sons volunteered for active service in the Black Hawk War. Shortly after his arrival in Spanish Fork he had taken an active part in erecting the adobe walls which serve as a defense fortification against the Indians. These mud breastworks were located on the outskirts of the city. Here, detachments of men were stationed to protect the inhabitants from any surprise attack. Behind these walls, Thomas Matley and Edward Creer spent many wakeful hours guarding the city.

Edward Creer worked with the construction of the New Survey Ditch. He and his neighbor, Thomas Matley worked together to complete the project that was to make possible the reclamation of the district known as Leland. Later, Edward served as councilman and justice of the peace for the city of Spanish Fork. As a builder, he will be remembered in connection with the installation of the first carding machinery in the mill at Springville, owned by Mr. Houtz. Later he worked with his sons and son in law, Llewellyn Jones, in the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad near Promintory, Utah. The ties used for railroad building were hauled across the Great Salt Lake by ferryboat.

Edward Creer assisted in the construction of the Provo Woolen Mills and in the installation of the machinery in that plant. The knowledge gained in the factory at Preston, England, proved valuable for this work. For twelve years he was employed as a spinner in the Provo Woolen Mills. He took shares in the factory as part pay for his labor.

On 18 December 1877 his wife, Ann Morris Creer died. At the time of her death they were living in Provo, Utah. It was the close of a wonderful companionship.

About a year after the death of Ann, He married Mary Nixon Radabough, A weaver in the Provo Woolen Mills. They worked together in the factory after they were married.

After several years of service at the mills he and his new wife returned to Spanish Fork where he sold his land to his son, Edward Creer, and his home to his grandson, Joseph Creer. The couple then moved to Beaver where his wife owned a home. During his years in Beaver, he and his wife did many hours of temple work at the St. George Temple for his departed relatives.

On 12 January 1886 Edward Creer died at Beaver, Utah. His body was brought to Spanish Fork for burial beside his wife in the city cemetery. He lived 72 years, 2 months and 9 days.

During his life he advanced in the Priesthood to the office of a High Priest in which capacity he served faithfully in every community where he lived. He was proud of his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. His testimony was genuine. He never wavered in his determination to serve the Lord. He was an ardent advocate of the restored Gospel, paying his tithes and offerings with honesty and regularity. His life of unselfish service is a testimony of his character. He was an artisan, pioneer, colonizer and community leader. The crowning contribution of his life is the flourishing strong posterity that bears his name. Hundreds who now enjoy the blessings of the valleys of the mountains and of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ may justly bow in reverence and gratitude to the man who made their temporal and spiritual prosperity possible.

William Christmas

David Russell Creer Maternal Great Grandfather

William Christmas

William Christmas was born at Llandilo, Carmarthen, South Wales on May 30, 1818. He married Elizabeth Roach on December 14, 1847 in Wales, and to this marriage six children were born – two boys and four girls. William Christmas’ family belonged to the Church of England. William was well educated and he always attended Church regularly. He was a Sunday School teacher for many years, teaching a class of boys as he loved boys and was very happy to work with them. It was the joy of his life and he often said it was not what he did for the boys but what the boys did for him. “They teach me many good lessons – youth is so wonderful,” he often said. William never came to his class but what he was very well prepared. He was a great reader and had a wonderful memory. He loved to read the Bible and had read the Welsh Bible through several times and could quote many scriptures. If a person would quote a scripture, he could tell you just where it was found. William Christmas was an engineer by trade. He liked this work very much and worked in the same factory for several years or until the family moved to America. In Wales, William got good wages. They owned four homes, three for renting, so they were fixed comfortably. They lived in a well-furnished four-room house. The furniture was very highly polished and was always kept that way. They had beautiful china dishes and when they sold everything before sailing for their new home in America, they kept some of their choice china which they brought with them. They also brought some very nice clothing with them. On June 1, 1869, the Christmas family left Liverpool, England on the Guion and Company’s ship “Minnesota” with 338 Saints under the direction of Elias Morris, father of Nephi L. Morris. They had a a very hard trip across the ocean as the ship was very old and in bad condition. The next year, this ship sank. They arrived in New York on June 14, 1869. When they arrived here, they were met by some of their Welsh friends who made them very welcome, and did everything they could to make them happy. They did not stay long in New York, however, but came on to Ogden, Utah on the first train, arriving Friday, June 25, 1869. Here they were met by Walter Roach, a brother-in-law of William Christmas. They were all very tired and homesick as the voyage had been a hard one, but Walter was so happy to see his sister and her family that he did everything he could to make them happy. He had his wagon and a good team of horses all ready to bring them to Spanish Fork. They arrived in Spanish Fork on June 29, 1869, and lived at the Roach home until they could build a home of their own. It was hard to adjust themselves to this new country and new ways of living. William had been a machinist and had run an engine for so many years, and there was nothing like this for him to do in his new surroundings. The country was new and farming was about the only industry. There were only Indians, sagebrush, little log houses, and the people were so poor without much food to eat. If you had the money, there was no food to buy. You could not buy clothes to wear, so they had some very hard times for a few years. The first two years, William said he did not have anything to eat except cornmeal mush three times a day. They grew their own corn, ground the corn into a course meal and made the mush. He often said the third year they had molasses to put on their cornmeal mush. After a few years, things changed – the children all got work and William went to the Tintic District and was employed there. He built the first engine ever built in the Tintic District and ran this engine for many years. He was prepared to do this kind of work and liked it, and always had a good job as longs as he could work. When his health failed, he had saved enough money to live comfortably. William Christmas often said he was glad he came to America for the children’s sake. They all had more opportunities here than they would have had in Wales, but he would often say how he loved his native land and how dear it was to him, but he was happy here. He thought if he taught his children to be good workers, they would always find opportunities for work here in America, and this he did. William Christmas died April 9, 1904, in Spanish Fork, Utah at the age of eighty-six, and was buried in the Spanish Fork Cemetery.

William Christmas was born in 1818 in Wales.
The family came to Utah under the leadership of Elias Morris, being the first company of Saints to come on the newly completed transcontinental railroad. They arrived in Ogden on 25 June 1869, making their final home in Spanish Fork.
The First Company
The first fruits of this year’s immigration from Europe reached Ogden last evening at five o’clock. They left Liverpool on the steamship “Minnesota” on the 2nd instant, under the charge of Elder Elias Morris, late president of the Welsh district, the greater part of the company being form the Welsh principality. A little more than three weeks has brought them the whole distance of the weary way that once took the best part of the year to travel. This being the first company, which has come all the way across the continent from the Atlantic to Utah on the Great Highway, their journey will long be remembered as inaugurating an epoch in our history. Early this morning the greater portion of the immigrants had found homes, numbers leaving to settle in the northern counties of the territory. (Deseret News, June 28, 1869)

Elias Morris, pioneer of 1852, was called by his church in 1865, to return to his native land as a missionary. In 1868 he was appointed to preside over the entire mission of Wales, a position he filled with honor for one year. After receiving his release in early June in 1869, he was placed in charge of over three hundred saints who were emigrating to Utah. Arriving at Omaha, June 23, 1869, President Morris telegraphed President Young as follows: “Will take the cars for the west at six o’clock this evening; we expect to be in Ogden on Friday.” This was the first company of Saints to travel over the newly completed railroad.

Following is a list of passengers in the Morris Company:
…….William, Elizabeth, Elizabeth, Luther, Jemima, Mary A. and Rosetta Christmas

William Christmas age 50
wife, Elizabeth Roach Christmas age 40
daughter, Elizabeth Christmas age 17
son, Luther Christmas age 14
daughter, Jemima Christmas age 13
daughter, Mary Ann Christmas age 10
daughter, Rosetta Christmas age 7

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mary Ann Christmas Bowen

David Russell Creer's Grandmother

History of Mary Ann Christmas Bowen
As written by her eldest son, John E. Bowen, Jr.

At last, by sheer will power, I find myself able to cast aside the sin of procrastination and comply with the request of my sister, Mollie Bowen Creer, and my brother David B. Bowen, to write the story of the life of our beloved mother. I feel it an honor to be asked to do this task, but must confess a feeling of inadequacy to do justice to the person who has been my guiding star throughout my life. I express gratitude to sister Mollie and brother David for their contributions, and will use the same as I proceed with the story.
The lyrics of a song I heard while visiting in South Wales in 1911 portrays a spot held in my memory of my dear mother, Mary Ann Christmas Bowen. The title of the song was, “My Mother’s Prayer”, which was about as follows:
I never shall forget the day I heard my dear old mother say:
You’re leaving now my tender care
Remember son, your mother’s prayer.
When’er I think of her so dear,
I feel her angel spirit near
A voice comes floating through the air
Reminding me of mother’s prayer.
2nd Verse
I’m sure I never can forget
These words of love, I hear them yet.
I see her by the old armchair,
My mother dear in humble prayer.

O praise the Lord for saving grace,
We’ll meet up yonder face to face
Our home above together share
In answer to my mother’s prayer.

According to the records, mother was born in Llanelly, South Wales, 4 July 1858. She was the fourth child born to William Christmas and Elizabeth Roach Christmas. Her parents were both of Welch extraction and were converts to the L.D. S. Church. When mother was ten years of age she accompanied her parents to America and to Spanish Fork, Utah. She learned to speak and understand the Welch language while a child in Wales, and this acquisition remained with her throughout her life. I recall that when she and her sisters and other Welch people would assemble out our home it was a regular gala day. Whenever the subject was of a nature deemed to be unsuitable for young ears, there was an automatic shift into the Welch vernacular. We children always enjoyed a visit from a Welch woman we referred to as Ann Gay. She was witty, full of fun. Words rolled off her tongue in a perfect stream, and she could switch from English to Welch language with out the slightest pause.
Mother had an ear for music and was somewhat partial to the music of the Welch harp when played by an artist. Sister Mollie relates that mother belonged to a children’s chorus in Wales and during the Christmas season they would go about singing Christmas carols. As I write this I recall a little ditty, tinctured with a dash of humor, that mother used to sing to entertain us mischievous kids. It went about as follows.
“If you’ll listen to me I’ll tell you a story.
About the worst woman that I ever saw.
And when you have heard it you’ll say,
It’s a pity.
That ever I had such a mother-in-law.

Now, she is so ugly she frightens the children
Whenever they happen to meet on the street.
They all run away whenever they see her,
Knowing her temper is not very sweet.

Mother was united in marriage to my father, John Evans Bowen, 15 September 1879. This marriage was solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple 22 June 1928.
Many hardships were endured by the early pioneers of Utah. Mother learned early in life the necessity of and the benefit of honest work. As a small girl she worked for room and board while attending school. In her teenage years she found employment in Salt Lake City with a well to do family by the name of Hill. Mr. and Mrs. Hill were from Illinois and were so pleased with the services she rendered at their home that they wanted her to go with them on their return to Illinois. Of course, her parents would not approve of her going so far away from home. At this point I wish to relate some first hand information as to mother’s integrity and dependability as a servant girl. When Hannah and I moved to Carey, Idaho in August of 1915, we met a Mr. Davis who owned and operated a grocery store at Carey. I learned from him that mother worked at his home when he lived in Salt Lake City. He held mother in the highest esteem. He told me she was a good worker, was tidy and clean, a wholesome, high-minded girl.
When I think of the hard work, adversities, and periods of sadness, and constant struggle required of mother in the rearing of a large family there keeps popping into my mind the following poetic words:
“The greatest battle that ever was fought
Shall I tell you where and when?
On the maps of the world you’ll find it not
It was fought by the mothers of men.”

I recall an incident in mother’s life, while she was a young girl, that was a very horrifying and frightening thing. She related this while she was gleaning wheat with other girls of her age in a field west of Spanish Fork, they were startled by the appearance of some Indians on horseback. One of them rode up to mother and showed her a large knife. Imagine the chilling terror and fear such an act would inflict on any young person. Mother related to me that the thought of never seeing her dear mother again was the most agonizing and disheartening feeling she had ever experienced. The Indians did this to merely scare the girls. They rode away with laughter and, I imagine with Indian “whoopee” and rushed to their Indian teepees to tell the story to their squaws.
I can think of no woman who was more concerned for the welfare of her family than was mother. There are few teenagers who don’t cause tears and anxiety to their parents. Dr. John Furbay, in his lecture on “The Four Dreams of Man”, makes the dedication that most parents, if they could have a desired wish, would wish: “Oh, Lord, please do shorten the period of adolescence.” As I reminisce on my early life I realize that mother spent many sleepless nights wondering where I was and what I was doing.
Often when coming home at an unusually late hour, I would tiptoe through the kitchen, quietly open the door to the living room, stealthily attempt to ascent the stairs to my bedroom. However, I was always frustrated with a feeling of guilt by the piercing, but loving words of mother: “Is that you, Johnnie?” She had not enjoyed the blessed oblivion of sleep until she knew that I was safely home. There were many other incidents during my tender years, due to my negligence and penchant for adventure that tried the patience of my parents. For example: I used to like to go down to Uncle Will Flavel’s home in Palmyra, northwest of Spanish Fork, to play with my cousin, Elias. There was nothing wrong with that, but the fact that I would run down there barefooted and without telling my mother and getting her approval was entirely wrong. One such event caused my father a trip down to Uncle Will’s home, about 2 ½ to 3 miles, about 10:00 at night. I was taken out of bed and placed on the horse behind father and taken back home. Surely such a prank was deserving of a good spanking, but because of the patience and compassion of my parents, I was “spared the rod”. Another runaway trip to play with Elias brought its own punishment. We were gathering eggs from sparrow’s nests under a shed of my uncle’s. I was hanging underneath the shed by my feet and hands and was suddenly seized by a cramp in my toes and fell on a hay rake below, resulting in a broken right arm. Uncle took me home in a buggy. My arm swelled a great deal and I suffered a lot of pain until the broken bone was set by our good family doctor, Dr. Warner. Again mother displayed her usual sympathy and willingness to do everything in her power to alleviate the pain in my broken arm.
In my opinion, mother possessed the virtue of the Good Samaritan. She was always ready and willing to render help to those who she saw in need. This characteristic was apparent in the following story contributed by sister Mollie. There was an elderly man by the name of Thomas Evans, a friend to the Bowen family, who became afflicted with what the doctor diagnosed as a felon on one of his fingers. It was swollen, inflamed and very painful. The doctor recommended amputation. Mr. Evans was reluctant to submit to surgery. Mother and her sister, Elizabeth, had been caring for injuries for some time by the application of a homemade remedy. It was a poultice made of a mixture of lard and soot. The old man preferred to continue with this simple treatment, and the finger was eventually cured.
For a number of years mother cared for her own father, William Christmas and after moving to the new family home, where my sister Eleanor now resides, she cared for Grandfather Bowen for 27 years. For a few years, during the winter months, Jones Bowen, a cousin of mine, lived at our home. Besides, there was a relative by the name of Sam Myler who was a boarder and lodger under mother’s care. Also Aunt Elizabeth spent the last years of her life with mother. I don’t even remember hearing mother complain that her lot was too hard to bear.
When one realizes that when mother was rearing her family there were no modern conveniences, like indoor plumbing, hot and cold running water, electric stoves, and refrigerators, automatic washers, electric irons and other appliances that are so prevalent today, one is really amazed at the capacity for work and endurance possessed by this patient little woman.
Mother was a firm believer in the primeval, God given mandate that “man should earn his bread by the sweat of his brow”. Someone once told me that she never walked while doing her work, she trotted. She seemed to feel that it was somewhat sinful to be found sleeping or lying down in the daytime. If she did any sleeping during the daytime, it was usually while sitting in her rocking chair.
An incident related to me by cousin Jones Bowen points clearly to mother’s attitude toward work. One day when mother was in town shopping she observed a group of men standing on the sidewalk near the Coop Store; It was a lovely day, in the fall of the year, and in mother’s eyes these men were wasting valuable time. Jones was among them. As mother passed by, Jones went out of his way to speak to her. In their conversation mother asked him if he had his fall plowing done. His reply was “no”, and she remarked by way of admonition, “well, then, you had better get busy and get your fall plowing done while the weather is good.” Jones and others who heard what was said were, at least, provoked to laughter.
I wish, at this point, to incorporate in my story some thoughts contributed by brother David. He relates that mother was very understanding and sympathetic with her children. For example: and I quote his words, “When Foster and I were beginning to go out on dates we wanted by buy a rubber-tired buggy. Dad said we could not have one. We had some cattle of our own to sell in the fall to pay for it, but he still would not give his approval to the purchase of the buggy. So we talked the matter over with mother. Within a few days we were in possession of the new buggy. It proved to be a source of comfort and enjoyment to myself and Foster, as well as the rest of the family.”
Mother and Father encouraged their children to strive for an education. Eight of their eleven children lived to reach maturity. All of the eight graduated form the eighth grade. Mollie received a Normal Diploma from the B.Y.U. at Provo. John E. and David graduated from the State Agricultural College at Logan, receiving a B. S. degree. Rosetta attended Henager’s Business College at Salt Lake City. The other children were encouraged to seek higher learning, but they did not choose to do so.
Most of the letter writing to the children away from home was done by mother. Her letters were always uplifting, full of encouragement, good counsel and advice, and neatly written with pen and ink in a legible hand.
On September 14, 1929, mother and father celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary at their home on 2nd East, 5th North Street in Spanish Fork. Their children, near relatives and close friends and neighbors were invited, and a buffet supper was served to 70 guests at 7:30 pm by daughters and daughters-in-law. After the repast the following program was enjoyed:
1. Address of welcome by David B. Bowen who acted as M.C.
2. Reminiscences and poems “Mother and Dad” by Mollie (Mary Ann) Bowen Creer, a daughter.
3. Accordion solos by Millie C. Schofield accompanied on piano by Mary Williams.
4. Talk by Bishop Isaac Briggs.
5. Solo, “Mother McCree” Ed Williams, son-in-law.
6. Reading, jokes and poems, Deana B. Bowen.
7. Solo, “An old fashioned Couple”, Elizabeth W. Hansen.
8. Solo, Donna Creer, granddaughter.
After the program, wedding cake and punch were served. Children of mother and
dad present were: Jane, Mollie, Eleanor, David, Foster and Grace. John E. was living in Idaho and found it was not possible to leave his home at that time. A gift of $40 in gold was presented to mother and dad as a wedding present by their children.
The above was written by son David.
At heart Mother was a deeply religious person. When there was sickness in the family she would often call on the Elders of the Church to administer to the ill member. She had faith in the healing power of the Priesthood. She had considerable faith in the gift of healing possessed by Robert McKell and William Stoker, neighbors of the family. Grandfather David Bowen was often assisted in the ordinance established in the L.D.S. church. Mother was a Relief Society visiting teacher for many years. She enjoyed attending Sunday School, Sacrament Meeting and Relief Society.
Mother was familiar with a number of passages of scripture. One passage she frequently quoted to me has left an indelible impression on my mind. Whenever I was a bit stubborn, saucy and disobedient, she would point her index finger at me and quote the fifth commandment, “Honor they father and mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God Giveth thee”. Those words have rung in my ears many times while raising our family and observing the disrespect shown by many young people toward their parents today.
A true mother’s love for her children never wanes with age. This attribute was exemplified by Mother by the following story: After I was married and moved to Carey, Idaho, during the summer of 1915, Mother and Aunt Rosetta Flavel came to Richfield, Idaho by train, where her sons, Will and Elias lived. Elias brought mother and his mother to Carey to visit me and Hannah. They came in a buggy a distance of about 24 miles. They approached our ranch along the west side. The west channel of Little Wood River ran through the west side of the ranch; as a result there was a healthy growth of willows in that area that obscured a view of the area of the ranch which produced good crops of alfalfa and grain. Of course, there was considerable growth among the willows which made the area pretty good pasture. It also furnished an ample supply of big willows to be chopped into stove length pieces for fuel during summer months, which was preferable to coal during warm weather.
As our guests were coming through the gate toward our house I happened to come out of the house and observed them approaching. Mother rushed to me and we embraced, and then she uttered these memorable words, “Oh, my boy, you have come to the end of the world and have lit on a willow patch”. She showed anxiety and was disheartened at the apparent poor outlook of our ever prospering on such a ranch. I realized that the long ride on a dry dusty road at horse-trot speed in summer heat did not create an atmosphere conducive to feeling of hilarity or optimism.
After a drink of sparkling cold water and some palatable refreshments served by Han; and above all, by the happy, joyous welcome evidence by both of us, mother seemed to relax and feel much better. As a matter of fact, Han and I were very happy with our set up, and we showed them through a little orchard of several varieties of good apples, a nice raspberry patch, a small strawberry patch, a good garden; after we showed mother about 100 acres of good grain and alfalfa, the sight of which thrilled her, she was somewhat reconciled to our moving to Idaho.
There are few mothers who rear large families who escape periods of deep sorrow. Mother was no exception. She seemed to feel that she had more than her share of trouble and sorrow. I recall the first deep sorrow she experienced. It was the sudden and violent death of my brother, Willie. He was next to me in age; was a blue-eyed boy with blonde hair still worn in ringlets. By cruel accident he was run over by a loaded wagon. Several other boys and I were on our way to gather asparagus in the west field. We were all riding on a load of fertilizer. We older boys got off the stopped wagon at the canal just west of town. Willie was to remain on the wagon with the hired man. In his anxiety and desire to go with us he attempted to descend from the wagon while it was moving. He slipped and fell beneath the right rear wheel and was instantly killed. This calamity was such a shock to mother, that to her dying day the sight of asparagus or the mere mention of it was sufficient to bring tears to her eyes. But, fate seemed to have designed that mother would be called on to suffer additional, almost unbearable sorrow. Mother lived to see the passing of six of her eleven children in addition to the death of her sister Elizabeth. The passing of three grown daughters and youngest sister Rosetta all happened within a few months time.
It was very difficult for mother to be reconciled to such a terrific loss of her loved ones. It might have occurred to some people that mother mourned to excess, but it seemed to me that she had so much sorrow in such a short period of time that is was beyond her power to control her emotions.
It is my sincere hope that those of mother’s descendants who may read the above story may find much in the life and character of Mary Ann Christmas Bowen that is worthy of emulation.
Mother died 7 April 1939 at Spanish Fork, Utah and as buried in the Spanish Fork Cemetery.

John Evans Bowen

David Russell Creer's Grandfather

Biography of My Father, John Evans Bowen
By John Evans Bowen, Jr.

For the last several years my sister Mollie and brother David have insisted that I, the oldest son, John Evans Bowen, Jr., am the logical one to write a sketch of father’s life. Being the prince of procrastinations I felt time was running out for me, and so by force of will I begin this task.
Father was born at Minersville, PA, July 12, 1855. He was the fifth child and the third son of David and Jane Foster Bowen
In order to get a proper and true setting and picture of his life and background, we shall have to cross the Atlantic Ocean and get a glimpse of an industrial city of Llanelly, South Wales. It was here that his parents spent the first years of their married life. The Bowen family is one of the oldest of the city of Llanelly and has played an important part in its industrial development.
While serving as a missionary in the British Mission from 1910 to 1912, it was my privilege to have visited Llanelly and made the acquaintance of a number of descendents of grandfather Bowen’s parents. I learned that William Bowen, my father’s grandfather was an expert blacksmith and mechanical engineer. His son John, after whom my father was named, was an outstanding engineer and inventor. He was a consulting engineer and traveled considerably throughout Great Britain. He and his father William did the engineering and blacksmith work for the shipping docks at Llanelly, as well as the engineering and overseeing of the construction of the Copper Works and The Old Castle Tin Plate Company. These were the most important factories of the town when I was there. Llanelly was then a city of about 30,000 people.
The Bowen family was of good sturdy Welsh stock, respected and honored in the community.
Jane Foster Bowen, mother of my father, was born at Dowlas, South Wales but later moved to Llanelly and was married to David Bowen in 1844. She was also of Welsh blood, and was a very charming, modest, refined and sympathetic personality. To those who knew her best she was the embodiment of those virtues that constitute true womanhood.
David and Jane Foster Bowen became converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and patiently endured the jeers and ridicule of those who joined the unpopular faith at that time. Although they were in comfortable financial circumstances, they decided to leave their native land and migrate to America and thence to Utah.
They sailed form Liverpool, England in April of 1855. During this voyage an incident happened that detained them from going directly to Utah. It seemed a great misfortune at the time but turned out to be a blessing in disguise. While at the docks at Liverpool, Grandfather Bowen lost the bag containing all his money. So on landing in America he was without money to continue westward with the rest of the Saints. He was, therefore, compelled to seek work. Being a skillful blacksmith he was soon engaged to make chains and sharpen tools for a coal mining company at Minersville, Pennsylvania.
It was while living here that father (John Evans Bowen); their first American child was born. Had it not been for the incident of losing their money, the family would have gone directly to Utah. Had they done so they would have arrived there during the summer of the severe war against the crickets that caused so much suffering and sacrifice among the Saints.
During the summer of 1856 father’s parents made arrangements to go west with the Saints. They were well equipped with a four-ox team and wagon. The gathering place was Iowa City, Iowa, the railroad terminus at that time. They were under the leadership of Captain Dan Jones as far as Newton, Iowa. From there they were led by John Hunt. They began the long journey across the plains a few days after a handcart company led by Captain Martin had started westward. Their progress could have been fairly good had they not been purposely held back of the handcart company in order to encourage them and to render aid in case it was necessary.
The approach of winter brought with it the usual vicissitudes and hardships, especially for their livestock. The grass was snowed under, and it was necessary to cut down trees as provender to keep their oxen alive. As winter progressed, however their stock became poorer and weaker. It as not long before the four-ox team was reduced to one surviving ox. Another man of the company, John Lewis, also had one surviving ox from a six-ox team. The two surviving oxen were hitched together on Brother Lewis’ wagon and the two families traveled on to Fort Bridger. All of grandfather’s supplies and wagon, with the exception of bedding and personal affects were left at a place called Devil’s Gate. The families were met by better-equipped outfits sent out from Fort Supply and Salt Lake Valley by President Brigham Young. Their weak, worn out cattle were left at the Fort and the families were brought to Salt Lake City by the new outfits.
Later on grandfather and family moved to Spanish Fork, which place became their permanent home. Grandfather followed his trade, but also acquired land in several areas surrounding Spanish Fork. It was quite natural that father should become interested in farming and livestock raising. That schooling he had was received in the public school system available at that time in the community.
As a young man he was required to aid his father in the blacksmith shop and became somewhat proficient in many phases of that trade. He learned to weld, to sharpen and point plow shears, to make and fit horseshoes. In fact, I’ve been told he used to shoe most of the racehorses of the area for a period of time. He made clevises, chains and the metal parts for the traces on harnesses. He learned to set tires. He could build hayracks, beet dump racks, and do all the necessary repair jobs of ordinary farm machinery.
He was what might be called a “handy man”. He was handy with carpenter tools, and built such needed buildings as cow sheds, horse stables, chicken coops, blacksmith shop and garage. Physically he was very agile and excelled in some of the games and sports of the day, such as baseball, standing broad jump, running broad jump, a game called “form and raiser”, and the common “catch as catch can” wrestling.
Father married Mary Ann Christmas at Spanish Fork on September 15, 1879.
From this union were born eleven children, five girls and six boys. The girls all lived to maturity. They were Jane, Mary Ann (Mollie), Eleanor, Rosetta and Grace. All except Rosetta were married and reared families. Mary Ann (Mollie) and Eleanor are the only ones surviving today.
Of the boys, John E., Jr. and David B., and George Foster are still living. Willie, who was next to me in age met with a tragic death by being run over with a wagon on the way to the west field in company with a hired man. This was a blow to mother that seemed to sadden her throughout her life.
My earliest recollections of my father were connected with life in a small light colored brick house that stood on the northwest corner of the lot where Sister Mollie and brother David now live in Spanish Fork. This house belonged to my grandfather Christmas. His wife had died and grandfather lived with our family, or perhaps it would be more correct to say we lived with grandfather. I have a feeling of nostalgia when I recall the luscious fruit that was grown on that lot. There were apricots, sweet bow apples, Early Harvest apples, winter pear main apples, large damsel plumb, and plenty of grapes in season.
As the family grew father and mother found it quite urgent and necessary to have a larger home and plans were made to build the house my sister Eleanor now lives in. In this project father exhibited his ability as a handy man. I recall he built a rack that was handy on which to haul rock for the foundation of the new home. The rocks were hauled form the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon along the side of the canyon road. With a sledgehammer and crowbar father hued the rock form the quarry, loaded them alone, and hauled them to the area where the house was to be built. I frequently accompanied them on these trips.
Father was a hard worker, industrious, patient, and always had a job for me to do. He tried to teach his children thrift early in their lives. There were children in our neighborhood, who seemed to have no particular chores or jobs to do after school hours, and they got into the bad habit of congregating and playing cards, and some of them began using tobacco. This was very repulsive to mother and father. To direct my attention away from this environment father made a deal with me. He promised that if I would come home after school and help haul manure, and other jobs that needed to be done, he would give Eleanor and myself the returns from an acre of sugar beets. This was an incentive to be industrious. He had previously promised that if I would save half the price of a calf he would contribute the other half and I could buy a calf. This I did by thinning beets for an old gentleman, by the name of “Dad” Gay. I thinned fourteen rows of beets somewhere over in the Leland area and earned $1.40. I had to wait till fall when Mr. Gay received his beet check. When he paid me I begged my sister Jane to sell me a calf for $2.80. From this meager start I acquired a few cattle that helped keep me in spending money when I was in high school and college. When I got married and moved to Carey, Idaho, in 1915, I sent Father $500 in February of 1916, and asked him to buy calves with it. This he did and with the cattle I already owned at Spanish Fork added to those he bought; he brought me thirty-seven head of cattle. These added to those I got when I bought the ranch set me up with about 100 head of range cattle.
Father was a lover of good livestock, especially horses, and during this active life he owned some very good draft horses. In fact, he was at one time in partnership with his brother, Uncle Bill, in the purebred Percheron horse business. They imported stallions direct from France. These horses cost considerable money for those days. They proved to be too costly and did not pay off financially. I recall one outstanding individual named “DeVose” that father admired very much. Father used to care for him and groomed him for the Utah State Fair. He was a blue ribbon winner many times. Father also at times exhibited at State Fairs samples of chains, clevises, hammers, etc., for which he won prizes.
I cannot refrain from relating an incident that showed the prowess of “Dad”, as I always called him. It happened when we had moved to the new home. It was not completely finished and the room that was to be the parlor was used as a sort of storeroom. One-day mother had finished churning the butter with the old-fashioned dasher churn. After taking out the butter, buttermilk, and was washing the churn she said to me, “Johnny, take the churn in the other room.” Not paying much attention to what was said, I took a chair near by in the other room. Mother said, “You stupid boy, I said the churn.” I remonstrated, “You said the chair.” This went on about twice more when father spoke up in a voice positive and declarative, “She said the churn.” By now I was near the door ready to run, but before doing so with down right Welsh Juvenile stubbornness I finally said, “She said the chair!” and dashed out the door. Before I reached the middle of the road toward Oliver Swenson’s house Dad had me by the collar and gave me a couple of good lashes across the buttocks with a razor strap and convinced me that mother must have said churn.
By nature father was quiet and reserved. He was not a show-off nor was he bombastic. Yet he had a sense of humor and was good natured and friendly. He was devoted to mother and his family and was anxious that they live right and succeed in life. He did his best to give his children the advantages of an education.
He was interested in good government and was a “dyed in the wool” Democrat. During the fall of 1893 father was elected as a city councilman and served for two years. During this period the city pavilion was built. It served the city for many years as an auditorium for public gatherings as well as a public dance hall.
Father took considerable interest in the management of the West Field Irrigation Company. On February 5, 1902, he was elected a director of the Board and served for four consecutive years. He was then elected as vice president and served in that position for twelve consecutive years. The records, as shown by the minutes of this period, indicate that he was very much interested in improving the company’s system of distributing water equitably by installing adequate measuring devices and proper head gates. He favored penalizing any person who took water out of turn thus depriving someone else of his rightful use of water. He showed a spirit of cooperation in helping to bring water from Strawberry valley into the Utah Valley. In 1903 he was appointed to work with the state engineer to supervise construction of their gates in company ditches. Records show he spent eleven days at this work and received $2.50 per day for his services.
Father enjoyed good health. He told me when he was in his seventies that he never had been in bed with sickness till he was taken ill with the shingles. This disease was a very painful and weakening experience for him.
Although Father was never very active in the church, he was always interested in seeing and encouraging his children to adhere to the program of the church. At heart he was religious and saw the value of the basic principles of Christianity.
He passed away at the age of eighty-seven on March 24, 1942 at Spanish Fork, Utah and was buried in the Spanish Fork Cemetery.

Notes by Jeneve Creer Gailbraith March 1979:

At this time all Grandfather’s children are dead except Uncle John. I will list the children and their birth dates and death dates of those I have available at this time. All the children were born in Spanish Fork, Utah.

Sex Name Birth date Death date

F Elizabeth Jane 9 Feb 1881 2 May 1938
F Mary Ann (Mollie) 18 Nov 1882 22 Oct 1973
F Eleanor 22 Sept 1884 4 Dec 1967
M John Evans 23 Mar 1887
M William Christmas 3 Dec 1889 10 May 1894
M David Byron 31 Jan 1893 21 Oct 1975
M George Foster 25 Dec 1894 9 Sept 1970
F Joyce Rosetta 5 Dec 1896 7 Feb 1928
M Dewey 5 Nov 1898 24 Dec 1898
F Grace 5 Nov 1900 28 Dec 1938
M Milton 13 Oct 1903 13 Oct 1903

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mary Ann Bowen Creer

David Russell Creer's Mother

Mary Ann Bowen Creer
(Written by Mary Ann Bowen Creer with additions by family members)

I was born November 18, 1882 in Spanish Fork, Utah to John Evans Bowen and Mary Ann Christmas Bowen.

Well do I remember when my mother taught me to pray and when I was very young I learned its value.

My brother David was a young baby when he was very ill. Mother and Aunt Elizabeth were in the bedroom caring for him. David had a convulsion. Mother told me to tell grandpa to come and administer to him. I did so but grandpa told me to go and get Robert McKell, Aunt Hazel’s grandfather, to come and help him. Mr. McKell and grandpa administered to David and before they finished he was out of the convulsion and asleep and soon recovered from his illness. This incident made a lasting impression on my young mind.

The 24th of July was next to Christmas in looking forward to. As now days, the 24th of July was always celebrated with a big parade. The float called the “Car of Beauty” was one that rather young children rode on and I was chosen once to ride on it. The day before the celebration, my mother told me to be sure to be home early in the afternoon so she could shampoo my hair. I was happy to be home on time. The next day as I went to ride on the float a neighbor, Mrs. Darger, put powder on my face which pleased me and with the pretty blue dress mother and Aunt Elizabeth made for me I really felt dressed up.

I was a clumsy little girl. My sisters, my playmates, and I used to climb trees for fun and sometimes to shake down the fruit for mother to dry. More than once I fell from a tree. Once we were jumping from a low shed and I sprained my ankle. When I was older I learned to ride a horse but not as well as my sisters. Once when I asked father if I could ride the pony he said, “you will fall off.” I insisted and I rode the pony. Sister Jane had a bicycle and she and Eleanor learned to ride well. I tried to learn but I fell and hurt myself and I never learned to ride. Someone accused me of being a sissy; however, it took more courage to leave our first home after marriage and our loved ones and make a new home in Idaho than it did to climb trees, ride horses, or to ride a bicycle.

My sisters, Jane and Eleanor, and I often helped our father with farm work until our brothers were old enough to help. In our day all the grain was cut with a binder. One-day father took Jane and me to a patch of grain and taught us how to shock it. We had to put several bundles together and stand it up. Well, it almost took my breath for the bundles seemed almost as tall as I was. Jane and I did our best and finally completed the job. Father was always kind and patient with us when we tried to do our work well.

I was anxious to go to college but I didn’t know whether or not my parents could afford to send me. To earn some money for college I got a job in Mapleton picking fruit. Sometimes one of my brothers would take me on a horse up there and sometimes I went with friends. It was cold in Mapleton early in the morning when the canyon wind blew hard. We walked home after work, which was four or five miles. I earned enough money to buy my clothes and some books. Father paid my tuition for some of my books, the $1.00 rent on the room, which was my share. Katie Wilkins and Hannah Christensen and I lived together.
The dress I wore when I started to College only cost about fifty cents. My mother and Aunt Elizabeth made it of calico, which cost three yards for twenty-five cents. It was trimmed with white lace.

After attending college and a summer school at the BYU, I took the teachers examination and passed it.

I started teaching in Santiquin, Utah at the age of eighteen. I went back and forth on the Union Pacific Train when I wanted to come home. The stationmaster must have thought I was a little girl because he sold me a half-fare ticket. I wore my hair in two braids but when I began to teach I did it up in a bob thinking I would look older and more mature. I weighed less than a hundred pounds.

Morris and I had a long, happy courtship. I know such is not advisable but in our case it was necessary and we were separated much of the time. I attended BYU two years and several summers. I taught school in Santiquin one year, Morris attended the LDS Business College and he spent almost a year in Idaho where he filed on land. Then Morris’ father was called on a three-year mission; so he asked Morris to come home and take care of the farm work and the family. We could not afford to get married until Morris’ father returned. I had taught school one year in Spanish Fork so I taught there for three more years.

Our happy courtship culminated in a wonderful marriage in the Salt Lake Temple June 6, 1906. It was a dream come true and the most joyous experience of my life. Our wedding reception was a small and quiet one. My wonderful parents prepared a delicious turkey dinner for the Bowen and Creer families and a few friends.

In early spring, April 1, 1907 David Russell was born and I was very happy when I realized the marvelous experience of becoming a mother. I was thrilled beyond words to express.

John Willard was born November 4, 1910 and deprived me of voting that year. I was too happy to worry about that. The realization that Russell had a brother added joy to John’s birth.

Clare’s birth was very exciting because he was born before the doctor arrived. Mother was so worried and called two neighbor women in. None of them would do what needed to be done. Finally the doctor came and considerable talk ensued. Finally I said, “When are you going to take care of me, doctor?” He was astonished that none of the women, each of whom had large families, hadn’t taken care of me. Clare was born Sept 24, 1912.

When Clare was a year and a half old, Morris went to Idaho and bought a farm. He rented a railroad car to take our belongings to our new home. These belongings consisted of household items, horses, cows, pigs, chickens, and farm machinery.

To help us pack our things and load the car, came my parents, grandma and grandpa Creer, Roy and Eleanor, Aunt Emma Hutchings and my sister Rosetta.
Morris went with the car. The children and I went a week later on the train. It was really a sad experience to leave our loved ones and our first home in Leland and go to a new place to live, which at that time, seemed so far away. Aunt Mary Sophia Creer and her three small grandchildren went with us. They spent the summer near Bancroft on a farm.

Our new home was about four miles southeast of Bancroft.
We left Spanish Fork, one beautiful, afternoon in April. We had to stay in Salt Lake City until midnight. Then we journeyed into Idaho. We reached McCammon the next morning about dawn. It was raining and seemed so dreary. The children were asleep in the station. I went out on the platform and looked down the railroad and thought, “Oh how far away I am from loved ones”. Aunt Mary Sophia came to me and said, “Don’t feel so badly, you will be alright.” I was crying and couldn’t talk to her, but I thought, “You don’t know how I feel, you haven’t left your brothers and sisters, your parents, and other relatives like I have.”
I felt better when I reached Bancroft and Morris was there to meet us.

We had breakfast with Reed Creer and his family. Reed and Morris were cousins. We went to our new home. It was the dirtiest house I’ve ever been in. After fumigating with sulphur and scrubbing with hot water, soap and lye, the house was fit to live in.

When we went to Idaho, the house was in terrible condition. Part of the plaster was off from the walls in the kitchen. The paper of the ceiling was so black and dirty that the pattern of the paper couldn’t be detected. Morris thought we would be able to have it repaired in the fall; however, our crop was so poor we couldn’t afford to do it then nor two or three years later. I felt I couldn’t stand it any longer; so I took old pieces of sheets, old oilcloth, and old corrugated paper and patched the walls. Morris white washed the ceiling and I did the walls. At least the kitchen now was white and clean and we were pleased with it. With all the other work I had to do it took one week to do this work on the kitchen.

The first fall we were in Idaho our crop was poor because we had a bad frost; however, we managed and all of us kept well.

Morris had ten or twelve horses and cows to buy hay for; so he bought some water stock. This was a mistake because he had to work so hard to irrigate our unlevel ground.

We had a good well and pumped the water with a windmill. One of our neighbors, whose horses had distemper, watered his horses at our watering trough. Our horses took distemper and two of the best of them died, just when we needed them badly in the harvest. So Morris had to rent horses.

I shall never forget the look on Morris’ face when he entered the house, on our first New Year’s morning in Idaho. He said, “Old Dick is dead.” I replied, “I’m so very sorry, but if we have a strong healthy baby and we both get along we, we will be happy and manage as best as we can.”

During the holidays and in times of sickness I felt keenly being deprived of the association of our loved ones in Utah. In my mind is a vivid memory of our first Christmas in Idaho. Santa paid thirty-five cents for a storybook for Russell and for John and Clare each a fifty-cent toy automobile. Of course they had candy, nuts, and apples and gifts from relatives in Utah.

Afton was our first baby girl, born Jan 9, 1915, and if she had been a boy we would have been just as happy and thankful; however, we were glad to have a little girl and she was such a good-natured baby.

When Afton was only a few months old, I said to Morris, “I wish we could have another girl in two years.” My wish came true when Jeneve was born two years later, January 9, 1917, on Afton’s birthday. It was midwinter with two feet of snow on the level. Morris went to get a neighbor woman to be with me while he went to get the doctor. The neighbor advised him to phone from a store close to her place for the doctor to come. In the meantime Reed Creer, Morris’ cousin, and his wife came to visit. Reed went out to look at the animals but soon came in and said the doctor was coming. I was on my knees trying to finish mopping the kitchen floor when Reed brought the doctor in. The doctor said, “The idea of a mother mopping the floor and expecting a baby in an hour or so.” When he stepped near the stove he said, “and you even have bread to bake.”

I went to bed and Jeneve was born and got her first and only spanking. It was from the doctor. Because of birth complications Jeneve’s first cry was like music in my ears. She was a cross baby because I didn’t have enough milk to satisfy her.

Our crops were good for several years until 1921, the year Mary was born July 21. We had the worst frost we had ever had. It froze 90 acres of fall wheat, which we had to cut for hay. I’ll never forget the day Morris told me the wheat was all frozen. I told him I was very sorry thy I could not worry about it because I had something more important to think about and that if we could have a strong, healthy baby, we would manage somehow. Mary was strong healthy baby and a blessing and joy to our family.
July 21st was an exciting and eventful day. My mother and Aunt Grace Creer came to be with us when the blessed event of Mary’s arrival happened. Morris went to town for the Doctor who arrived before Morris did because he was in a car and Morris in a white top buggy.
When the doctor told Morris he had a fine baby girl, and she and the mother were doing well, Morris said, “Is there only one?” “Yes,” replied the Doctor, “Did you expect two?” The answer was, “We surely did.” After knowing that Mary was fine, I said: “Afton and Jeneve will be so happy to have a baby sister.” She was a happy good-natured baby. I shall always owe a debt of gratitude to my dear mother and dear aunt Grace Creer for the splendid care they gave me and my family. Grace also did some sewing for which I was grateful and appreciative.

One cold winter evening, I went out of doors to look around. The snow glistened in the light of a full moon and twinkling stars. I heard the howl of a coyote. A mile or more to the west, I saw a glimmering light in a log cabin on a hill.

Just a short distance to the south on a hill was a small house in which was a light. They were my nearest neighbors. I had such a feeling of loneliness, so I hurried into the house. The lonely feeling was soon replaced by a feeling of gratitude because the entire family was well. We had plenty of food, plenty of clothing and bedding, and plenty of wood to burn in the cook stove and heater.

We traveled in a bobsleigh, sometimes three months, and more out of the year. I made a large warm quilt out of old worn out clothing for the top of it and for the back, I used pieces of old overalls. Morris always put straw in the bottom of the sleigh, then the quilt with the overall back on the straw. Then, we had warm quilts over us.
Some years later, Morris bought a wagon cover and small heating stove to put in the sleigh, which made our winter traveling more comfortable. When traveling long distances, large rocks were heated and put in the sleigh.

Sometimes, we invited neighbors to spend holidays with us, especially Mrs. Miller and her son, James. In winter, at times we had blizzards and the weather was unsafe to be out in. Those were the days we popped corn, made candy and ice cream.

Morris and the boys played marbles, making a big ring on the kitchen floor. Of course, they played other games too. The kitchen was large and long and the boys took turns riding their tricycle.
In the early springtime, boys and girls often went hunting for ground squirrels. One Sunday afternoon, Jack and Afton and six other girls and boys went hunting squirrels near our farm, so they came to the house. It was suppertime and of course, I wanted to prepare a good meal. However, one of the girls, Afton’s best girl friend, said, “Oh, no, don’t do that, all we want is strawberries, bread and butter and cream.” Fortunately, I had a crate of strawberries, plenty of homemade bread and butter and cream. I tried to apologize for the meal and not having cake. One of the boys said, “This bread and butter is better than any cake.”
During the depression of 1929 and 1930 Morris sold grain for 15 cents a bushel. Many farmers gave up their farms and went elsewhere to live.

At this time Apostle Ballard spoke at one of our Stake Conferences and advised the people not to leave their farms but to stay and raise all they food they could. He promised us that if we would keep the commandments of the Lord the windows of Heaven would be opened and our crops would be so abundant that our granaries could not hold them. Many of the church members became more active in the church, our family included. I remember Morris marked on the calendar the amount of eggs we gathered each day so we could tell the amount of tithing we should pay on them.

We had plenty of food during the depression. We had pork, beef, chickens, milk, cream, butter, eggs and flour. We bought apples and potatoes for winter. It was food such as oranges, grapefruit, banana’s, nuts, and pineapple we couldn’t afford to buy. We couldn’t afford many clothes so I had to do considerable mending and making over of old clothing.

We lived to see Apostle Ballard’s prophecy fulfilled because one year our crops were so large that Morris had to prop part of the granary to prevent it from bursting.

Morris held many responsible positions. He was assistant superintendent of the Sunday School in the Third Ward in Spanish Fork in our early-married life and also later in the Lund Ward. He was a counselor to Joseph E. Wilson, Jr. in Lund and after which he was bishop there for several years. He was a School Board Trustee for many years and also Democratic Precinct Committeeman for many years. With honor he held these positions. I always did my best to sustain him and so did the children for we were all proud of him and that he was worthy of such positions.

Once I attended a meeting of MIA Stake Board, which I was a member of. Some other members and I were rather early so we talked about various matters. One woman said she got her husband ready to go hunting that morning and then went back to bed. Another woman said she spent most of the morning reading. I said, “If you husbands were bishops you would be up just as early on Sunday morning as any other morning getting ready for Sunday School.” One woman said, “I’d stay up all Saturday night preparing for Sunday if my husband would go to Sunday School and other meetings.” I was exceedingly happy that Morris was active in the church.

A Brief History

Mary Bowen Creer was born in Spanish Fork, Utah, November 18,1882, to John Evans Bowen and Mary Ann Christmas Bowen. Her brothers and sisters were Jane, Eleanor, John, William, David, Foster, Rosetta, Dewey, Grace and Milton. The home in which she was born was located on the lot where the Rees school now stands. She attended the following schools; the little white school where the Thurber school now stands, the Bell School on 5th East and Center, Dalley School, 4th North and Main, Ideal, Central, B.Y. Academy and University.
She married Morris Creer, June 6th 1906 in the Salt Lake Temple. They had six children: David Russell, John Willard, Clare Morris, Afton, Jeneve and Mary.
For five years she taught in the public schools; one year in Santaquin and four years in Spanish Fork. Her church positions were many and varied. She was president and counselor in Primary, Mutual, and Relief Society and was Stake Board member in Primary and in the Mutual Improvement Association. For many years she was a visiting teacher in Relief Society. After their marriage, Morris and Mary B rented rooms in the Lew Banks home and then in the John Morgan home before living in their own home in Leland, where Morris farmed.
In April 1914, they moved to Idaho where they lived until the autumn of 1945. Mary B. built her new home and moved into it in 1949. Mary B. Creer has done extensive Temple work in Logan, Salt Lake and Manti Temple. She has visited in addition, the Mesa, Los Angeles, St. George, and Idaho Falls Temples.
Several long trips have been a social and educational privilege for her; 1) a nineteen day trip to church and national historical spots enroute to the Book of Mormon Pageant held at Palmyra, New York. 2) Trip to Florida. 3) Visited with relatives and a friend Mrs. Van Slooten, in California. 4) She has visited her children in the Northwest by car, by bus, by train and by airplane.
November 18, 1962, Mary Brown Creer, lovingly nicknamed “Mollie” by her father is still attending Church and her duties regularly. She trips around to relatives and neighbors with a bowl of vegetable soup, a rice pudding, a loaf of homemade bread or a glass of jelly. But above all she carries a beautiful spirit of love, interest, and optimism wherever she goes.


Mother was a very kind and gentlewoman and always interested in the welfare of others. She was generous with her time and loved to share what she had with others less fortunate than she. She like people and made friends easily.

Mother could be and was frugal when necessary but liked nice clothes and home furnishings and bought the best she could afford. It was her theory that it was better to have a few really good things than an abundance of cheap things. She took pride in keeping herself, her home and yard neat, clean and orderly.

Mother enjoyed reading and tried to be well informed. In later years as her eyesight dimmed and she had difficulty staying awake when she relaxed, she relied on TV news and the radio to keep her informed. Good music and drama always pleased her.

Family and strong family ties were important to her. She was in her glory when she could gather her loved ones around for a big family dinner and remained a good cook until she became too ill to take care of herself. She enjoyed cooking tasty, nutritious and appetizing food.

Mother was a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother and friend. She was the peacemaker. She was proud of her children their families and their accomplishments.

Mother was always grateful for her membership in the church and had a strong testimony that it was the true church of Christ. She had tried with all her might to live it each day. She was a good example to all who knew her. I’m grateful to have had her for a mother and friend.
--Jeneve Creer Galbraith

To me mother was an outstanding example of devotion – devotion especially to her husband, children, grandchildren, and the church. I’m sure she loved her husband just as much when he came in from the field sweaty, unshaven and dirty, as when he portrayed the handsome man he was when he was well groomed. By the same token I feel sure dad loved mother equally as much as when she was heavy with child; working hard over a hot stove baking bread, cooking, or bottling fruit; or when she was tired and weary from caring day and night for sick children.

At one time for months before and after Jeneve was born, due to illness and severe winter weather mother never left our home for five months and then it was just to go to the neighbors about a mile away for a short visit.

When I was about four years old, all of our family but mother were ill with the flu –dad and I were very near to death. Finally a neighbor lady who had nursed her family through the flu and Aunt Myrtle and Aunt Grace from Spanish Fork came to help. About then mother got the flu but luckily she had a very mild case.

When Clare, Russell’s boy, was about eight months old, Russell got scarlet fever. He and his family were living with us. Mother carefully took full responsibility of his care hoping no one else would get the disease. After we were out of quarantine and Jeneve and I had gone to live in Bancroft to attend high school, Genevieve (Russell’s wife) came down with scarlet fever. One night Genevieve was so ill that mother feared for her life and hardly left her bedside. During this time Clare was so ill with a cold and cutting teeth that dad held him all night. When mother told me about this I wished Jeneve and I hadn’t been allowed to go back to school yet and had been there to help her. Mary was only a fifth grader but had to stay home and was a big help.

Mother came to our homes to help when we had babies. This she did for daughter-in-laws as well as daughters.

One thing I remember so well is that in the winter time when we would come home late at night from dances – traveling by sleigh – mother would have warm bricks and hot water bottles in our beds and our pillows out in the living room to be warm and also something for a snack.

When dad was so helpless for months before he died Mary was a registered nurse, so she left her good job in Salt Lake and came to help. Mother never left her house the last six weeks of dad’s life and in the six weeks before that she had only left twice – once to go to the bank and once to go across the street to talk to Uncle David.

Mother loved the church and held many responsible positions. When I was young mother was called to be MIA President. She held this position for twelve years during which time she attended her meetings whenever it was humanly possible. She went the extra mile to accomplish outstanding work in the MIA. The bishop publicly said this in a meeting at one time.

These are only a few of the things I could tell but I hope these will help all of us to appreciate mother for her unselfish devotion to her family.

--Afton Creer Ward