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

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