THE STORY OF MY LIFE
By
CLARA SIMS McBRIDE

My parents, Samuel John Sims and Mary Susan Oyler Sims had 11 children, seven girls and four boys. They were Elizabeth, Susie, Lucy, Amanda, myself, George, Maud, Amon, Albert, Nancy and Oscar.

I was born in Brigham City, Arizona Mar. 22, 1880, a small town near Winslow which was settled by my folks and a few other emigrants from Utah.

This little town no longer exists. I was still a very young child when we moved from there to the Gila Valley to the little town of Eden. There my father farmed but he was a carpenter by trade, which he worked at later. Our first home there was a log house.

One day while all the family was away the house caught fire and burned to the ground and we lost everything. I was just old enough to remember the big bed of red-hot coals. Right away father built us another house, this one being a lumber house. While living in Eden I have some memories of things that happened. Most vivid in my mind as a child is about the Indian scares we used to have. The Indians were quite bad in those days and were seen at times by some of the men along the river bottom, and were known to steal horses from some of the people. The people were afraid they might raid us sometime, so whenever they were heard of near, the people were instructed to all get together in one certain place, which was at Lige Hancock's to stay all night. This I remember very plainly we did several times. I remember of beds being made all over the floor for the women and children while the men stood guard. I remember very plainly one evening of someone riding horseback up to our yard calling out, "The Indians are coming. All gather at Lige Hancock's." Father was away at the time and I remember how scared mother was. She gathered us children up as quickly as she could and took us to Hancock's. Father came later and found us there. We had some pretty bad scares but nothing worse happened. The Lord was surely watching over his people.

The real early settlers built a log fort there for the protection of the people. This I was too small to remember, but my father and mother and my four sisters older than I lived in the   old fort. I was the baby.

My folks moved from Eden to Pima when I was 10 years old. There Father built us a big two-story brick house. I well remember when he was building it and when we moved in. In this house I grew up and spent my girlhood days. Our closest neighbor was the Weech family. Pearl Weech being about my age we became close friends and grew up together.

We still now and then heard rumors of Indian trouble. When I was about 15 years old, a girl friend of mine, Eliza Merrill and her father, while making a trip to Clifton by team and wagon where he peddled produce, were raided and killed by the Indians near Solomonville, Arizona. My father and John Nuttle worked 'all night in father's workshop making both coffins. They were buried the next day in Pima.

In those days we didn't have much for recreation, but still had good times. At our home we had a big tall swing that father built from heavy timber in our yard under the trees. Our place was quite a place for a gathering place for the young folks and we had lots of fun swinging and doing other things. The boys would take a long rope, with one holding each end and swing us way high. Our main recreation was dancing and plays. Our only transportation was team and wagon. When we would go to different towns to dances and other gatherings, the boys would provide spring seats for the wagon, which was a little better than riding on board seats put across the wagon box with folded quilts to make it a little softer. If at any time we had a chance to ride in a buggy, we thought we were really riding in style.

Buggies were very scarce in those days, but some few had them. Bishop Taylor owned one, and Frank and Will Taylor, who were some of our crowd, and once in awhile their dad would let them take the big buggy and they would take us for a ride.

For some years we danced in the old Nuttal hall where we had many good times. Then Will Webb built a dance hall over his store, so later we danced there. This is where we had our wedding dance. Frank and I, Howard and Elsie, and Jim and Ada Morton had our wedding dance together. In our day when a couple got married they were supposed to give a wedding dance, so we three couples went together on ours .

Frank and I started keeping company about the year 1897, and we ganged together with several other couples who were our closest friends. They were Philemon and Pearl Merrill, Will and Laura Taylor, Howard and Elsie McBride, (Franks brother) and Frank and Lucy Taylor. We were all married about the same time. Frank and I were married Aug. 16, 1899, at my old home in Pima. We were unable to go to the Temple in that day as we didn't have cars and it was hard to make the trip to Salt Lake,

But some of the apostles came to Arizona and did sealing work, and we were sealed home by Apostle Clawsen in 1900, in the old Charley Layton home in Thatcher. Our first baby, Gladys, was born June 23, 1900, and we were sealed about three months before she was  born.

We built our first little home in Glenbar, a little town just below Pima. It was a little two-room house made of board and batting. Frank built it himself. But we had quite an experience getting the lumber to build it. Frank's father and mother and Uncle Jacob Burns and family had moved to the mountains for the summer where the men were working cutting and hauling logs to the sawmill owned by the Cluff Boys there. Soon after, I was able to go with the baby about the middle of July. Frank and I moved up and he worked with  grandpa and Uncle Jacob at the logging to get lumber for our house. It got quite late in the summer before we left to come down and was getting quite cold. Grandpa and Grandma McBride and all the mill hands left a day or two before we did. That left us to come down alone with our load of lumber on our wagon. Before we left the mountain it was beginning to freeze. Gladys was a baby in arms not more than two or three months old. I rode on top of the load with the baby while Frank drove the team.  While up on the narrow road of a high and steep dugway this little accident happened to us. The bolt that couples the wagon together underneath, gave way and broke in two. Frank felt the wagon give and was able to stop the team before anything happened, but it was necessary for him to unload every stick of the lumber so he could fix the wagon, which took some time. I don't remember if Frank had an axe with him, but I remember that he whittled a limb from a tree and made a bolt to hold the wagon together, and we reloaded and come the rest of the way down the mountain. We stayed all night with Moses and Rettie Cluff and came on home to Glenbar the next morning. We felt grateful that the makeshift bolt held and we got home safe.

We lived with Frank's folks until we got the house built. As I remember, Gladys was about six months old when we moved in. We lived in this little home about a year when Frank was called on a mission. After he left on his mission, (Nov. 14, 1901) I moved in with my folks in Pima. Gladys was a year and six months old. Frank went to the Southwestern States Mission (Texas) and labored there for two years and five months. Prior to leaving he received his endowments in the Salt Lake Temple on Nov. 20, 1901 and was set apart on the 26th by President Seymore B. Young.

When he left I was on my way with my second baby. Floyd was born June 18, 1902, six months after his father left. As I stated, I was living with my folks in Pima. Father was working in Morenci, so when Floyd was about three months old I went there and kept house and cooked for father. Mother stayed and kept Gladys. I don't remember just how long I stayed there, but when I came back, mother moved to Morenci with father. I stayed in mother's old home with the two babies and took care of things.

Well, time went by and there were good times and some not so good. We had some sickness. I took typhoid from waiting on Lizzy's family who were down and were sick for several weeks.

I had quite a struggle, not having much to go on, but I made out and never felt to complain. Mother and father were good to me, and I feel like the Lord blessed me and watched over me and the babies, and I don't regret the sacrifices I made that Frank might fill his mission.

After serving his allotted time Frank was released Mar. 30, 1904 and arrived home April 5, 1904. Now for the first time he saw his cute little curly-headed boy, Floyd. Gladys now was four years old. It was a happy reunion.

We moved back into our little home and lived there about a year when Leonard was born on Feb. 24, 1905. Our next move was to Globe, Arizona. Leonard was then going on two years old. By this time father and George had work there contracting and building, and father gave Frank work. We moved in one of the new houses on the hill that they had just built. George and Dora (Sims) shared the same house with us. They lived in two rooms and we had two rooms. I had three children and Dora had two, Beatrice and LeRoy.

When it came time for Orlando to be born I came home to Pima and moved into father's old furniture store that had been fixed for living quarters. There Orlando was born Nov. 23, 1906, his father not being present for the occasion. He was coming back to be with me but things were happening a little sooner than expected. When Orlando was six weeks old he became very sick and we nearly lost him. It was through our faith and prayers and the administering of the elders that he was spared. Bishop Taylor and his father administered to him.

A few months later Frank moved me back to Globe where he still had work. This time we lived in a place by ourselves. A little incident happened while living there. A family by the name of Coffee lived near us. The mother took real sick and was sick for several days when one afternoon her husband asked me if I could come over and stay with her while he went to town. They didn't seem to have any help. When I got there I could see she was a very sick woman. She had a high fever and was delirious He asked if I would sponge her off every so often, which I did. I was there alone with her for about two hours. That night in the night she died. The

next morning we heard she had smallpox. Of course that gave us quite a scare, and there was no vaccination for smallpox, and I had been right over her all that time. However, nothing happened to any of us, and I feel that the Lord must have been with us. Right away the family moved out, and I heard later that the man had smallpox and they had taken him to the pest house.

After living at this place for some months we moved to another house on the same street, just a little farther up on the rise of the hill. The Gardners lived right beside us. They were a Mormon Family from the Valley (Tom Gardner). We also lived quite near Howard and Elsie. They were getting ready to go to Salt Lake to the temple and I helped Elsie with quite a lot of her sewing. I made several suits for the little boys. As near as I can remember we lived in Globe all-together, around three years. Our next move was back to the Valley where Frank built our home on the farm. It was a three-room house with a big screened porch on the front. Though we moved in before it was quite finished it was good to be in a place of our own. We papered and finished it after we moved in. At this time we had four children, and Darvil was our first baby born in our new house. He arrived Dec. 28, 1908. As near as I can remember we lived in this place for about eight years. Darvil, Ruthie, Bruce, Stanley were all born there. Life went on as a family life usually does. We had our sorrows and our joys. We had quite a lot of sickness. When Darvil was five years old we had diptheria in the family and we nearly lost him, but with the Doctor's aid (Dryden) and our faith and prayers, his life was spared. He was the first to take it and it got a good hold of him before we realized what it was. The other children were vaccinated in time to ward it off. We had about all the diseases that came along, such as the scarlet fever, chickenpox, mumps, whooping cough and measles. Leonard at one time had a bad spell of blood poisoning.

After moving back from Globe Frank worked at different things. He went to Phoenix and served one term in the legislature. That was when Darvil was a baby. Then he worked for several years riding the range. (Cattle Inspector for the county) Later he served as deputy sheriff. He served one term of two years under Tom Alger in 1915 and 1916. Later he ran for sheriff and was elected. He took office Jan. 1 1917. His work took him away from home a lot and I was left alone a big part of the time with the children, which made it very hard and lonesome. He was away from home on deputy work the night Stanley was born. He was born Sept. 29, 1915. He was one and a half years old when we had a bad seige of the measles in the family and we lost Stanley, the only one we lost of the nine. He died Mar 2 5, 1917. Frank had been in office only three months when Stanley died, and right away after his death we moved to Safford. In April of 1917 we moved to a house in the lower part of Safford that belonged to Kane Wooten. We lived in this place nine months. Then the first of Feb. 1918 we moved to a place in Layton owned by a Mr. Welker. We just got moved in and about settled when Frank was killed. He and his two deputies, Kane Wooten and Martin \ had to make a trip to the Galiuro Mountains to arrest some slackers. They were two Power boys, brothers, who were avoiding the draft. (World War One) In an attempt to take them Frank and his two deputies were killed. In the skermish, the old man Power, the father of the boys was killed. The boys and an older friend by the name of Sisson escaped. This took place Feb. 10, 1918. The death of these three noble men was a great shock to everyone and a heartbreaking sorrow to their families. Twenty children were left fatherless.

Frank was just 43 when he was killed and I was just 38. I was left a widow with seven children and a baby soon to be born The baby girl was born two months after his death on April 13, 1918. Two months to the day after he was buried. We named her Frankie, after her father. It seems this was the name all the family wanted her to have including her Grandfather and Grandmother Sims. So with the arrival of the baby I had eight children to raise. The oldest was 17 and the youngest an infant in my arms, five boys and three girls.

Right away after Frank's death, the 25th of Feb. we moved to Thatcher. My father and Mother lived there, plus two of my brothers and three sisters. It made it better for me living near my folks. We lived in my brother Oscar's house for a few months until I could find a suitable place. He was away at the time. Frankie was born while we lived there, and soon I was able to get a place of our own. We moved into our own house about the middle of October 1918, when Frankie was about six months old.

When Frank was taken from us I was left with a very little to get along on, but I was allotted a little help from the State, and that helped to buy us a home. The place I bought was the old home of President Christopher Layton, a large brick building owned at the time by a Mrs. Robinson. It was located on the main street of Thatcher, a convenient location to town, school and church. I raised all my children in this home.

Gladys, the oldest, got a job at the Big Six store to help support the family.  The store at that time was owned by W. W. Pace. The other children got jobs whenever they could to help out. I took care of Dr. Platt's baby all one winter while Mrs. Platt went to school. My house being quite large I was able to rent some of the rooms during the winter to college students, and also take some boarders at different times.

All of my children attended Thatcher schools and also entered Gila Jr. College, and most of them to higher education. Gladys and Floyd got their early schooling in what was then the Academy,. a church school, before it became a college.

Right after I bought our home in Thatcher, Mother and Father bought a lot just joining mine, to build a home. While building it Father took sick suddenly and died Feb. 2 6, 192 0. He was 70 years old. My brother Oscar finished the house and lived there with mother for several years. The home was sold later to Dave Phillips. It is owned at the present time (1959) by my son Darvil who married one of Dave's girls, Josephine.

Gladys married within two years after her father's death. She Married Martin L. Stewart, Feb. 21, 1919. They were blessed with four children, Freeman, Leva Gene, Lyle and Carma Rae.

Floyd was married in Los Angeles, Ca. June 8, 192 7 to Christine Owens. One son, Robert Phil was born to them April 27, 1928. Christine died March 13, 1941. Two years later, March 17, 1943 Floyd married Elizabeth Harrison. They were blessed with three children, Sarah Beth, Richard Franklin and Denise Lynn.

Leonard was married to Olive Spafford March 12, 1932 and made his home in Thatcher where he built a home next to us. Later he moved to Safford where he built a nicer home. They were deprived of having children.

Orlando graduated from Gila Jr. College in 1929 and was awarded a scholarship to Columbia University in New York. He enrolled there in the Fall, but after the first year he and two other boys hitch-hiked to Provo, Utah and enrolled there at B.Y.U. feeling much better about being back in the West. He went on a mission to the British. Isles from 1937 to 1939. Before going he taught in the Pima schools, becoming the principal there. After his mission he taught in the Thatcher High school. He married Evelyn Watson the 2 6th of March, 1941 in the Arizona Temple. Shortly afterward he entered the service of his country as a Chaplain with the rank of Lieutenant and later attained the rank of Captain while serving in Panama, mostly in the Canal Zone. After three years, because of ill health, he was granted an honorable release and returned home. After regaining his health he was made Director of the Institute of Religion in Thatcher where he taught for a couple of years. They were blessed with two children, Evelyn joy and Orlando Watson.. When the little boy was two years old they went to B.Y.U. to attend a summer session and complete Orlando's Dr's Degree in Religion. While there only a month he took suddenly ill and passed away July 23, 1947, at the age of 40. That has been twelve years up to this writing. His wife and children are living in Safford in the house he built before his death.

Darvil received his education at Gila Jr. College and then at the Flagstaff Teachers College. He married Josephine Phillips, Aug. 18, 1933. Theirs was a home wedding on the lawn at her parent's home in Thatcher. They went to the Temple the 15th of March, 1940. Having received a Master's Degree in Education and a Teaching Certificate from Flagstaff, Darvil taught his first year in Solomonville where after his second year there he became Principal and was there for eight years. He then taught three years in Safford under Lafe Nelson and then one or two years at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher in student counseling. The following year Darvil was made Principal of the Thatcher Elementary School where he served for seven years. Three children were born to Darvil and Jo, Darvil David, Jon Robert and Sally Josephine. They are all married now. (1959) Ruthie also received her education at Gila Jr. College. Being a very efficient girl in all her studies she was able to work in different offices in Safford as a stenographer and secretary, which helped with the family living. She left home to work in Phoenix where she got a job with more pay. She became a top secretary, even in legal work and was liked and respected by everyone. Jess Udall called her "the best" After working there eight years she married Edward Russell Cochran Aug. 1, 1936, and resided in Phoenix thereafter. Two children were born to them, Ella Ruth, and Charles Edward, who they nicknamed Pete. Ruthie died June 2, 1955 with the terrible disease, luekemia.  Bruce attended Gila Jr. College also, and entered the University of Arizona for a year. In Oct. of 1935 he went on a mission to Texas and served until Nov. 23, 1937.  He was married to Velda Norton Sept. 19, 1938 in Central, Arizona and went to the Temple Dec. 5, 1941. So far four children have blessed their home, Patricia Lane, Steven Bruce, Leora To and Robert Kane. Bruce worked for several years for the Louie Long Theatres in Safford, then went to Superior to manage there and then to Ajo as manager of the theater there. While there he quit the theater business and went to work for the mines. Later he moved to Wilmington Ca. where he and Darvil had a small business together.  Stanley Gage was born the 29th of Sept, 1915 and died in infancy with measles.

Frankie received her education at Gila Jr. College and the Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe. After working one year in Safford she married Zachariah Phillip Farr in the Salt Lake Temple Aug. 15, 1940. Seven children so far have blessed their home, Clara Sue, Phyllis, Jerald Phillip, Dennis McBride, Lana Jeanine, Robert Franklin and Betty Ann.

During the period of raising the family in our big house many trials and struggles came to me and I sacrificed many material things for the sake of my children, but we were all happy together and the Lord certainly was with us and blessed us with good health and the necessities of life, and I have no regrets with the sacrifices I have been compelled to make.

Our religion always played a main part in our lives. The children have served faithfully in the Church. My own services have been mostly in the Relief Society. I was the organist in Thatcher for seven or eight years and am now serving as a Relief Society Teacher. Until late years I always sang in the ward choir in both Pima and Thatcher, and was organist for the Pima choir a few years, and also played for the Pima Sunday School. I have sung with many small ensemble groups and took part in many contatas in my early days. I have gone many times to give my services to the sick. In the early days they didn't take the sick to the hospital as they do now, or the dead to the mortuary, but called in some of the sisters to sit with them. On many occasions I have gone and helped with the sick and have sat with the dead in times needed.

  When my mother in her old age began to fail in health, it fell to my lot to care for her. When she was no longer able to stay in her own home, which was next door, I took her in my house and cared for her during her last years. Mother passed away May 11, 1933 at the age of 78.

I am grateful for my grandchildren. I have always enjoyed them and it has been a pleasure doing things for them, as remembering them on their birthdays, at Christmas time and other occasions when I have been able. I have always tried to do a good part by them. At the present time, Aug. 31, 1959 1 have 26 grandchildren and 16 great -grand children. I think they are a wonderful bunch and am very proud of them. They are all smart and ambitious and are living their religion

I have developed quite a hobby of making quilts. After getting my family raised I have pieced and quilted lots of them by myself, and have divided them with my children and grandchildren. I am 79 years old, nearing 80.

Life has brought its sorrows and its joys. At the present I have been a widow for 41 years and have had to be both mother and father to my children since their father's death, and my oldest was 17 years old. Aside from then my greatest sorrow was when two of my grown, married children were taken from me and their families. I have tried to understand, and I know the Lord has blessed me and my efforts to raise my family, and my faith in God is unshaken, and my testimony is yet strong and true. My greatest hope is that my children will live to be worthy of their wonderful heritage and be good upstanding citizens before God, and be the individuals that I know that I, as well as their father would want them to be.

First copy typed by Frankie McBride Farr, June 6, 1961. Second copy typed by Darvil B. McBride, June 1, 1990.  Scanned to text from Darvil’s original typed copy by Greg Porter November 16, 2001.

At first mother didn't think she was capable of writing the story of her life, but what a wonderful keep-sake she has given us. We should all be very proud of her and cherish these 11 pages. It has been an inspiration to me in typing her story and giving her the little assistance that I did. Mother had a very keen memory, and we should all take example after her and do the same for our children that she has done for us.
----- Frankie Farr

Mother passed away a little more than two years after this writing, Nov. 30, 1961 in Thatcher. Jo and I took her to the hospital in Safford where we held her hand as she peacefully slipped away with a smile on her face and a look in her eyes as though she had seen and recognized a loved one.
----- Darvil McBride

Today Grandad Darvil told me that his mother came with him, Josephine, and their 3 children to the Mesa temple.  There Darvil, Jo, and the children were sealed.  Clara’s sealing to Frank was repeated with Darvil acting as proxy for his father because the records of the original sealing had apparently been lost.  Darvil said sealings done outside the temple happened as Clara noted, but were not that common.  He also recalled that his mother was soft spoken and wasn’t self-promoting, serving those around her quietly from the background.  Lastly, he mentioned that while holding his hand at the hospital, she looked straight ahead and seemed to recognize a loved one, then peacefully said “Darvil, I’m dying” and passed away.
----- Greg Porter  November 16, 2001
 

greg@porter-az.com