(Nettie) Jones Phillips Autobiography
The Early Years (1882‑1903)
My home was a log house of two or three rooms with a peaked slanting roof making a large room above, with a ladder for a stairway. There I was born on October 2, 1882. My parents' names were John William Jones and Josephine Cluff. My only brother Wallace was born October 30, 1884.
A large creek ran back of the house where wild roses bloomed and chokecherry bushes grew. There were wild roses growing at the bedroom window. Having no screens, the breeze used to blow the rosebush limbs inside the window in summer. How I loved those roses!
My mother was an excellent housekeeper and manager. She always kept a lovely rag carpet on the front room floor (which was a luxury at the time). We call it the living room now. When spring came, she would take the carpet up and hang it on the clothesline, and she and my father beat it very hard to clean it. After the floor had been cleaned and the dust removed, clean straw was placed all over it. Then, the good clean carpet was carefully spread from wall to wall and tacked down. This made the carpet puff like a pin cushion. How joyous I felt at a seemingly new room. Wallace and I would romp on it in a child's abandonment of joy.
My grandfather, Benjamin Cluff, was the son of David Cluff, Sr. There were twelve sons and one daughter in that family. It was a large family, most of whom remained in the East from Maine to Rhode Island and never joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They have a beautiful family book that connects with the Cluff Family Journal. These people spelled their name Clough.
When Grandfather David joined the Church, he claimed that his conversion was the greatest and most important event of his life. He was converted by Martin Harris on his way to Ohio while traveling on a canal boat through New York. It was while crossing the plains that he decided to change the spelling of his name to C‑L‑U‑F‑F. So all of the Cluffs of the West are related.
Benjamin Cluff, my grandfather, was born in Durham, New Hampshire, on March 20, 1832, being the third son. Our Cluff Family Journal tells of the lives and travels of these twelve staunch LDS men, as they knew the Prophet and traveled with the Saints through their trying years coming to the West.
My grandfather was always on a mission or laboring for the church. He spent many years on missions. He opened up the first church sugar factory in Hawaii (refer to Cluff Family Journal). We lived a short way from Grandpa Benjamin when I was born. He was the Bishop for years and years.
All my childhood I was supplied with lovely big dolls to play with. I played with dolls, dishes and toys until I was twelve years old. I loved them always. Mama, being wise in my education, supplied me with good books. First, there was a big, beautiful book of Grimm's Fairy Tales. I have never ceased enjoying thoughts of Rappunzel, The Seven Dwarfs, Snow White, etc. I lived in a dream world with every story. There is a certain age for certain books as a child develops mentally and morally. I had books for each age level of my life, thanks to an educated mother. I loved school‑‑I loved the school children. I can think of so many girls at every age that I loved dearly.
My father's father was Richard
Jones. My grandmother was Mary Jane
Cummings Jones. Grandfather was sheriff
of Wasatch for fifteen years. There were
many relatives of Jones and Cummings in Heber, Utah, and I loved them
all dearly. They were so kind and
affectionate, and they
loved all their grandchildren. But
Wallace and I had the inroads, I believe.
Nettie, age 3
About the first thing I remember is being taken by my parents to our small church on Christmas Eve and Santa Claus handing me a beautiful china‑headed doll from a big Christmas tree all lit with candles. (We burned coal oil lamps, as we knew nothing of electricity.) I was afraid and would not take the doll, but my father carried me all around the tree and pointed out toys. Then, Papa held me very tight and I gathered the lovely doll in my arms, but I was still afraid of Santa Claus.
Next morning, Papa woke me early, wrapped a big wool shawl around me and took me into the front room where I saw a cute table and two chairs, all painted red, from Santa. On the table was a set of earthenware dishes with pink birds painted on. The teapot was large. It held two ordinary cups of water. How I loved those dishes! And how I spilled water on the floor pouring it into the teacups! I think I still have one plate and the teapot in a box of dishes packed away.
Mama and eight of her family were educated enough to teach school. She taught before she was married and would not give it up. After the two children came, she still continued to teach. She kept a girl to do work and tend Wallace and me.
One day, a band of Ute Indians came, making noise enough to warn her. She hurried and locked the house, pulled the blinds down and took us upstairs, worrying for fear one of us would make a sound. And we did not! Those Indians banged at the window and door and tried every way to get in. They wanted food and would steal anything they found; but, luckily, they did not stay too long and left.
Papa, one rainy afternoon, brought home a watermelon; another time, he brought peaches in a tub. These are the first fruits I remember. Then my mother's oldest half brother, Benjamin, Jr., came from Hawaii and brought the first banana I had ever eaten. This brother graduated from Ann Arbor, Michigan, and later became the president of Brigham Young University.
Mama was a quick, nervous little woman with more ambition than strength, though her health was good, and she was very practical minded. My father came of Southern parents. He was just opposite in disposition‑‑slow and quite a dreamer. I think he had inclinations of art. With not much education, he was a laborer. But he loved parties and good times. I often wonder what fate it is that draws people of such incompatible natures into marriage. Anyway, I loved them both, and they loved us very much. My brother Wallace was a cute, fat little boy.
My father took us to the mountains in September 1885. The Wasatch Mountains are beautiful in the autumn. All the trees were brilliant hues of gold and red. I was very fascinated with the beauty of it and scuffed along in the noisy and dead leaves. I got tired and Papa carried me, pointing out beautiful trees. We found birds' nests and sang songs, at least, the grownups did.
My father loved circuses. One morning, before daybreak, I was given a warm breakfast and wrapped in a blanket. Papa rode a horse with me in the blanket and my clothes in a package tied to the saddle from Heber to Park City for a big circus. The snow covered the ground, and it was quite cold. I remember as he galloped along he would open the blanket to see if I were sleeping. He always smiled and asked me if I were warm and comfortable. It was such fun to arrive and have my relatives "oh" and "ah" over me. I had to be tucked in for a sleep. Then they dressed me up, and we went to the circus. Papa carried me everywhere and was anxious that I might not miss seeing anything.
When I was a little older, Mama decided to go to Brigham Young University at Provo. She wanted to have better teaching credentials. Grandma Jones kept us children, and Mama left for Provo. Then, the second year, I went with her to her aunt's home, and I later started to school there. Provo was a city to me. Brigham Young had the pioneers plant apple trees along some sidewalks. Those apples were so good. There was so much to interest a curious child. I was spanked for going to see the big millrace and watch the bubbling water as the Provo Woolen Mills machinery threw it back into the big canal again.
My parents were growing apart (I unconsciously knew this). After Mama graduated, I was taken to tell my father's family goodbye. My mother borrowed money at the bank and took my brother and me on the train. We had a large basket of food‑‑there were no dining cars on the trains. We sat in our chairs all night, but it was fun. The trains didn't have good connections. We had to wait for sometimes twenty‑four hours. I once had my fingers pinched by a car window falling on them. And once I got myself locked in the car rest room. The conductor rescued me at the next station by climbing a ladder to raise the window from the outside. He crawled in and unlocked the door. Mama was very sympathetic with me over it all.
After arriving at Bowie Station, Arizona, we had to stay at the hotel for three days until my Uncle Foster came out in a covered wagon to get us. He had to carry a large barrel of water on each side of the wagon, for the trip was over desert country. We traveled, and on August 29, 1889, we arrived at his ranch below Pima. They were such poor people, but were so sweet to us. We ate shortbread with some bran‑‑we saw very little butter. The supper was bread with molasses and a cup of milk, which would have been all right, but I loved butter, especially with molasses. As a little child, I really missed the nice things and comforts of Utah. Arizona was a raw, wild country.
Mama was a praying woman and, during this struggle for our very survival, would take Wallace and me out among the mesquites. (She had a mortal terror of rattlesnakes, centipedes or scorpions biting one of us.) But we would clear a small spot of ground and kneel to pray. She needed work so badly.
Our aunt had five children, and the seven of us had measles. The last of October, Aunt Rhoda had a new baby. I was thrilled and happy. This was my first experience around a sweet new baby.
My mother worked very hard. Later, we spent two months or more at Bishop Hyrum Weech's home in Pima. He owned the only store in Pima and right by it was his home, a lovely two‑story brick house. He had, I think, nine children. His wife was a lovely person. It seemed she possessed every virtue, with patience and kindness with children thrown in. They begged Mama to come and help her, for they all had measles. Since I'd already had them, I enjoyed every sick child in that house. They, too, enjoyed us and, when we left, everybody cried, even the Bishop. Mama had done a good job during her stay. That Weech home I loved, and the girls in it. Pearl was nearest my age. We have always been friends. My oldest daughter, Eleanor, married Walter Scott Merrill, one of her sons.
The Sims family lived just next door to the Weeches. Brother Sims owned a furniture store and was a cabinetmaker and builder. He had a large family of girls and boys. They also had a fine, two‑story brick house. Their daughter Clara and I were near of an age, and Pearl, Clara and I were always good friends. Clara's son, Darvil Burns McBride, later married my second daughter, Josephine. This seems quite a coincidence to me.
Mama got a school the second winter, 1890, in Central, a small town between Thatcher and Pima. This was where Mama's Aunt Jennie and Uncle Alfred Cluff lived. His brother, Joseph, and Aunt Phoebe Cluff also lived there. Uncle Joseph was the bishop of Central Ward. He owned a small commodity store and ran the post office. He had lots of land in orchard, hay and grain. These two places were always home to me. I loved these people more than my own grandfather Cluff. My grandmother Cluff died at the age of thirty‑nine, before I was born.
Uncle Joseph, while kind, good and patient, was quiet and dignified. Uncle Alfred was opposite, always a good joke and a laugh, making life fun for everyone around him. He and Aunt Jennie were musical and owned the only organ in the place. He kept a nice choir, for that time, and when Mama went to church, she had me sit in the choir because I talked so much. The choir sat very dignified around a table. Since I could carry a tune, I was allowed to sing with them sometimes.
I could write chapters of my childhood joys and sorrows. I had too many relatives who expected too much of me, but I still love them all. When I leave this earth, I hope I will meet every one of them again.
Mama bought a lot in Central near the one‑room building which was church, schoolhouse and dance hall, where I enjoyed so much of my young life. On the newly purchased lot, she had an orchard and small cow pasture planted. Later, she bought a two‑roomed frame house and put it on the lot. Those people in Central all seemed to have a part in helping her. They built a front porch and a brush shed on the back, where we had our beds during the hot summers. How we loved that home and all the people that lived in the town. They respected us very much and took us in as a mother or father would fold a family in their arms.
Sometimes Mama would take us to Utah when school was out in the spring to visit her three sisters, Bessie, Eliza and Maggie. It nearly killed them to have her in the "wilds" of Arizona so far away from them. So, when we would get off the train in Ogden, I was quite resigned to watch my mother and her three sisters collapse into each other's arms and shed tears of joy. My brother and I enjoyed our cousins, too. We all got into mischief very often but never quarreled.
Not too far from the back of Aunt Maggie's lot in Ogden, the railroad ran. One day, Ventner (her son that was my age) and I wandered out back to where freight cars were switching. We waited till the engine pushed cars, then went in the opposite direction. We hung on the back of the receding car or cars hanging by our elbows to have a ride. Such fun! But a yardman saw us. The jig was up. Our mothers came with switches that stung mighty bad.
My mother was such a talented small person. She could sing very well and, of course, sang in the church choir. Her readings were such treats at the socials, dances and programs of every sort. She taught and drilled me also in the readings, which I gave from the time I was a very little girl in Primary and at many socials. I learned "Seven Times One" and recited it when I was seven years old. Those people were hard working pioneers, just "salt of the very earth." They had not much education, but most had an inner refinement that had graced them in connection with our dear church. It occurs to me now that the grace of our Heavenly Father and their utter humility had refined them. I could write pages of their lives and sweetness to my mother, brother and me.
At our new home, Mama bought a croquet set. Everybody loved to play croquet. My brother and I were quite companionable and had fun hunting eggs. Our hens preferred to steal away their nests in haystacks, the wood pile or under sagebrush outside the lot. For a Christmas present for Mama, we had chosen a set of beautiful china plates with roses on them, in our little country store. So we hunted eggs but had no success. Suddenly, a hen flew out of the woodpile, cackling loudly. We ran and found a hole between the light mesquite logs of wood. Quickly we tore these old dry pieces of wood off and, after working steadily, we could see to the ground but not reach it yet. And there, before our eyes, lay a great nest of eggs. I ran for a bucket while Wallace threw wood in all directions. At last we piled not quite three dozen eggs in our bucket. We ran to the store and got a "due bill" for the precious things. The day came when our last due bill with eggs was handed to the storekeeper. We took home our precious lovely china plates and hid them until Christmas morning, when our mother gathered us both in her arms and cried and smiled and said with such tenderness in her voice, "Thank you, my darlings." That repaid all our worries over her Christmas present that year. My youngest daughter, Jean, has the plates.
Just about that time, 1895, the railroad came. The right‑of‑way took a corner of our lot. The adjuster had a real time to settle this claim, but Mama got her money for it. It was such fun to swipe the railroad handcars that the workers used. After working hours, the kids living along the track would swipe the handcars and ride on the finished track. This was when the work train had taken the crew back to their camp or out to the nearest railroad town of Bowie.
The engine was fired with mesquite wood. Thus, the land began to be cleared of those thorny trees. And many boys and men earned a good living by cutting mesquite wood in about four‑ or five‑foot lengths. For long distances, sometimes miles, this wood was piled in neat cords along the track six feet high in double rows.
Nettie, Age 14
At the age of fourteen, we spent the summer in Utah again. I went to Heber City to see my grandparents Jones. They were all so nice to me. Grandma could not bear me out of her sight. In her bedroom, she had my baby high chair, cradle, little cupboard, table and chairs. I remembered regretting being so grown I could not play with them anymore. The beautiful garden of flowers and the fuchsias were still there. So many remembered loved things and places, houses of loved uncles, aunts and cousins I recognized. It seemed like a dream for me to be among them again. Grandpa Jones' goatee (a short pointed beard) was white and his hair was gone on top of his head. But he would smile and his blue, blue eyes would send glints of merriment at me the same as ever. Papa was somewhere else. Busy with mining and minerals or cards and horse racing, but he never married again in his life.
When I returned to Logan to Mama there, I had more relatives‑‑such fun, and how I enjoyed the beautiful flowers, lawns and parks of those cities. The streets were so different from Arizona's. No one could say one thing to me derogatory of Arizona that I did not defend it to my utmost.
Mama decided to leave me with Aunt Maggie in Ogden so that I could go to school for the winter. The parting with Mama was sad, too, knowing how much we would miss each other.
I enjoyed the big Madison School and everyone I became acquainted with. I adored my teacher, Marian Burton. The girls and I got along extremely well. At Christmas time I went to Aunt Eliza Merrill's at Oxford, Idaho. Her oldest son was about two years older than I, but I had loved him and every cousin I had on both sides of my family. The family had a general store at Oxford. I got acquainted with lots of nice young people.
We had coasting parties on sleds down snowy hills and bobsled rides with hot bricks or rocks to keep our feet warm. We all sat around in the sled with our feet to the center where the warm rocks were, then had scads of quilts and blankets over us. We would sing and tell stories while the boys took turns driving. Every inch of us was bundled up but our faces. The sleds were cute, stylish cutters with buffalo robes. I remembered that my father and mother had one when we were together. It was such fun with the sleigh flying silently over the snow and the sleigh bells bouncing and tinkling as the horse trotted fast. Some cutters were for two horses.
Everyone knew how to skate but me. So, one afternoon one of the boys took me to a big pond. He put my skates on and held on to me, but I finally went down. I never will forget the hurt in my head. I've always felt that same sensation when I have tried to roller skate. So, I just never learned to skate.
That Christmas I went to candy-pull parties with lots of fun games. I went dancing, too. That was really for me! I am an old lady now but I still love it; I have danced a lot in my life. But I was sorry when that Christmas fun came to an end and I had to board the train back to Ogden. I made life‑long friends there and hated to leave them when spring came. Uncle Sam and Aunt Maggie had been so good to me, but I was overjoyed to go home to Mama. How I did enjoy those train trips! I came home with a very old friend of the family who brought a boy from Provo named Arthur Jones (no relation).
Train service had improved and we arrived four days after leaving Salt Lake City. We had gone by Denver, Leadville, Colorado Springs, through Pueblo, Albuquerque, to Lordsburg, New Mexico, to Bowie Station, which is a Southern Pacific railroad town about forty miles south of Safford. Our railroad is a branch line through Gila Valley to Globe and Miami. Patronage of people traveling on trains was splendid until automobiles and buses came. People traveled in their own automobiles, and freight was shipped in big freight trucks. Eventually, the last passenger car was taken off this valley line. Nothing but freight cars run through Gila Valley now. Passenger buses are plentiful, so we are supplied with public transportation.
What a joy to be with Mama and Wallace again! Wallace had just recovered from a serious bout with diphtheria and had almost died. So, when I contracted it, Mama felt very concerned; but, luckily, it was a light case.
Mama had a great surprise for
me. She had bought a piano.
I had been very ambitious with piano lessons
all winter in Ogden. I think she expected
me to play better than I did, but she did not realize the time a person
practice to become a real pianist. So I
continued with music under my Aunt Melia Cluff. I
loved my piano very much so I practiced well. This
was the second piano in the Valley. Everyone
in our small town was very excited
when she announced that the school dance this spring would be next
night. She asked if some of the big boys
would help move the piano over to help the music. They
did have an old organ there for Sunday
services and all amusement that the public attended.
I was very jealous at that dance. One
family supplied the music. A
sixteen‑year‑old boy played the piano, with
his father and brother on violin and
guitar. I liked this boy very much, but
I hated for him to grin at me while he played my new piano.
I was nearly sixteen years of age when I attended school at Safford. I stayed with Mr. and Mrs. John J. Birdno. He was owner and publisher of the Graham County Guardian, the only paper in our county. The next summer I learned to set type. They called me the "Guardian Devil." (Every paper nicknames the youngest flunky in the company a devil.) I enjoyed my year very much. I went home to my mother and brother every Friday night, if I did not go to a dance. How I loved the Birdno family, because Mama and two brothers and a sister, Ella, who was married to J. J. Birdno's brother George, were very close.
For years this group, with others, had been a great source of theatrical entertainment for a great part of Arizona. Most of them had studied elocution. They were gifted and were not amateurs. Some had traveled in summer stock theaters. The theater was so exciting to all people, and I was in my glory when I was with them. They all seemed to give a part of their lives to me. All were educated, many of them early‑day teachers. If I ever made an error in my grammar, I was corrected on the spot. Oh, how I loved them every one. I was one little girl among grown people who were interested in my welfare.
The old Robinson hall in Thatcher was very large. Most of the valley theaters were presented on that stage. All of the prominent dances were there. We had a beautiful five‑piece orchestra, the leader of which had played in John Philip Sousa's band at one time. He was a Castilian named Pazaro. We danced sometimes till daylight. The Robinsons served delicious suppers at no great price, so after midnight we all very much enjoyed the suppers we bought.
I had a "crowd" I was always with at dances, candy pullings, etc. They were such clean, good young people. But I fell in love with a boy not of our faith, very handsome and charming. He knew cattle and could cowboy for his uncle. He was to come into some money at twenty‑one. I almost ran my mother and our relatives and close friends crazy over this. Everyone fought it. But I really was in love and intended to marry him. No matter what boy I went to a dance with, I always kept certain dances for him‑‑the Mazurka and most sets of the Lancers (now they know nothing of such dances). I always had plenty of nice dates, but I liked him best of all. Opposition does so much with young minds. I know I nearly killed my dear mother and, because of her, I did not marry him. How right Mama was!
All of this began in Safford when I
went to school there. S. Patterson was
principal of grades and high school studies, a nice young man from the
east. How the girls at school kidded me
because I went to dances sometimes with him. He
was so nice and danced very well, but I did not care
for him too
much. I could write chapters on the fun
I had that year and about all my lifelong friends, many of whom I met
the Spring State Reunion of Pioneers at Phoenix about 1950.
My brother was with my father in other parts of Arizona most of the time, now, so Mama and I were alone. My father invited me to visit him in Globe when I was sixteen. I had friends I wanted to visit also, so I went down in August of 1898. This was a nice trip. I stayed two weeks and did so enjoy older friends of my mother's who were very sweet to me. There was a couple I liked who did all they could to make my stay pleasant. My father visited at both places. He had his own room at a hotel where he stayed, but took us out to a nice supper several times. He introduced me to the manager of the mercantile business owned by the old Dominion Mine Company. His name was George W. P. Hunt. He and my father were fast friends. I was told to come to this store and buy whatever I wanted and to go to the office. Mr. Hunt would charge it all to my father. (Mr. Hunt later served six terms as Governor of Arizona.)
I bought two beautiful pieces of changeable silk for dresses, and a white cashmere which Mama trimmed with black satin baby ribbons. It really was a lovely dress for evening. (One night at a supper during a dance in Safford, I spilled beet pickle juice in my lap. Pride must fall‑‑that night I had outwitted a lovely girl and a boy I sometimes dated and had been just too smart in a quiet sort of way. I often think of this with a good laugh, too. The joke was on me.) Back to that shopping trip! I bought fine leather shoes, lovely shirtwaists, a beautiful black skirt and fine red cashmere for a blouse. It was beautiful when Mama made it with large full sleeves and cuffs.
How I loved my clothes! In fact, I loved everybody and everything. I was sort of envious of two girls who played piano music better than I, but consoled myself with giving many good readings, a lot of them musical. I was always grateful when people told me they had enjoyed them. I was encored very often. This gift I inherited from my mother and her sisters and brothers, for they made up the core of all elocutionary and theatrical work in this part of Arizona until late in their lives. However, they all loved the teaching profession, too, which love I must have inherited also.
The next year I attended the L.D.S. Academy at Thatcher‑‑more fun there. I will admit I did have a lot of dates and associated with the nicest boys of the school, as well as some not attending. One of the nicest and best looking of them, a church member in good standing whose family needed his help of support, was killed in a mine cave‑in at Dragoon. I had a letter from him that came in on the train that brought his body. The man I later married brought the letter to my home after he had closed the post office. This affair was a saddening experience to me and I never have forgotten it.
But with all the country parties and dances, I really was a fair student. My grades were good, my teachers liked me, I was well respected and I did enjoy studying and classwork. This was the year I gave many readings and helped in school plays. Life was so good to me in every way, and Mama was proud of me.
This year I boarded at my future husband's home in Thatcher, the home of Charles and Selina Phillips, though I had no intentions of him in any way at that time. He was very nice and good looking and knew how to wear clothes well. I had known him since childhood. Many times he asked me to go places, but I refused. He was engaged to a girl who was a faculty member, a piano teacher from Utah, and she and I were friends, too.
There was a pretty girl from Mesa, Jennie LeBaron, whom I met at school. She came to room with me at the Phillips' home. We have loved each other from then on and, at seventy‑eight years of age, we spend time together each year, just like sisters. She has four sisters and three married brothers living. They all took me into the family like a sister and I love every one of them. I think even more because I had no sisters of my own.
It was about 1898 that Benjamin Cluff, Jr., Mama's oldest brother, became president of the Brigham Young University (it was then an academy). Our Cluff Family Journal, No. 8, page 125, gives a letter he wrote from La Luz, Mexico, which is very interesting. He formed an expedition of worthy men at the school, along with a German professor, Paul Henning, who taught foreign languages and spoke eight different languages. Also included were several other scientific teachers who would be useful in going into Mexico and Central America. The purpose was to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon by studying writings and drawings on rocks, together with ancient cities being excavated all over our North American continent. The expedition proved to be too large and too expensive for too long an absence from the school, but it was worthwhile. Prof. Henning wrote me many long and interesting letters describing their venture and findings. Then he wrote me a proposal of marriage. I thanked him for so honoring me but refused.
I obtained a teaching certificate
from a church school, specializing in "kindergarten" under Emile
Maeser, whose father was the instigator of that wonderful school that
become Brigham Young University. Germany
is the home of "kindergarten" where Pro. H. G. Maeser and son, Emile,
were born. So I taught this in the
summer. I had loved it in the training
school, but our schools could not afford kindergarten.
The public school in Thatcher had eight
grades. I studied and passed the
Territorial school teachers' examinations and was given a school in my
hometown, Thatcher. I asked for first
grade but was placed in fourth grade. In
two weeks' time, Miss Pearl Udall asked if I would change grades as I
preparatory work for the first grade. I
gladly changed grades with the consent of Superintendent Cloyd Jones
three trustees. I taught two years and
enjoyed it immensely, then did substitute work occasionally.
Sister and brother
Mother and daughter
My life changed. Now real life stared me in the face. On December 30, 1903, I married David Dee Phillips. He was born in Layton, Davis County, Utah on January 5, 1882. He had brought yellow roses to school for me as a little girl. In the first year of our Eastern Arizona Junior College (then known as St. Joseph Stake Academy), David and I, the youngest children in that school, stood holding hands. The college moved from Central to Thatcher the next year. Mama retained her grade school at Central, so David and I did not see much of each other for a few years.
His grandfather, Christopher Layton, was then president of St. Joseph Stake and owned Thatcher townsite, where he had improvements going always--orchards, cattle and many hired men. He carried an English aristocratic air of a man born in England. Grandfather Christopher came to America when a very young man, and, being a shrewd business man, amassed a fortune in America, but could not write his own name. He even owned the stage coach line from Bowie Station on the Southern Pacific Railroad about forty miles. Life gave him nine wives and sixty-four children. The story of his life is very interesting, written and published by my husband's mother, Selina Layton Phillips.
married at 7 p.m., December 30, 1903, at my home with about fifty
were invited to a reception and supper at 8 p.m. Mama's
brother, Uncle Will and Aunt Emma
Moody Cluff, lived next door to us. Long
tables were set up there and filled with roast turkey and all the good
we could get. In the middle was a big
wedding cake which Aunt Cynthia and Mama had made.
In fact, they cooked the whole supper, taking
days to do it. My little mother and my
brother cried all through the ceremony, which did dampen my light heart
much. My wedding book only registers
part of the guests, for which I'm sorry, too.
My brother preferred to be with my father always after this. Mama was called on a mission to the Eastern Central States with headquarters at Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri. She was to be in Salt Lake City mission headquarters for April conference, so we lived with her for three months while our adobe home was being finished--just two very nice rooms. When we moved, Mama sold her home and rented a room near us but was with us for a time.
David graduated from LDS Business College in Salt Lake City. As a bookkeeper, he ordered the dry goods and was very interested in merchandizing for W. W. Pace in the country store called the "Big Six," where he became a partner in the business after a few years. We had added a kitchen on back of our house. We invited Mr. and Mrs. Pace to dinner about a year after this, and the chicken was so tough (not cooked long enough), we could not eat it. I was very humiliated. Mr. Pace was a joking, congenial man and laughed for years about that dinner. I had to learn a lot of things I had neglected because I had had no occasion at home to have to cook much or sew. But I learned, after years, the what and how of the kitchen and sewing machine.
Our oldest child, David Dee, was born September 30, 1904. Dee was a handsome child with yellow curls and twinkling brown eyes, full of personality and such winning ways. Everyone loved him and spoiled him, too.
On April 6, 1906, our second baby, Elmo, was born. Beautiful as my Dee, but he took membranous croup and I shall never forget his suffering. All night long I prayed for him to recover. Then, as I saw he was worse, I ran to the kitchen at daybreak and asked our Heavenly Father to take him and relieve his suffering. I asked Sister Phillips to let me take him. As I cradled him in my arms, he knew me and he wanted to say something--I know he did--but he died without a struggle, only a month old. All my life he has been an anchor of comfort when I felt like life was lost. One Sunday, David took Dee and me for a drive in our shiny black rubber-tired buggy, pulled by our beautiful bay horse. He took us to the cemetery, where he had had a nice stone placed at Elmo's grave to surprise me. How I appreciated his thoughtfulness!
David had an English temper. Mine was Irish. I could forgive and not hold feelings. So our lives were not altogether one of peace, sunshine and roses. Because my temper would flare, I could say what I thought and it was not always kind, but I never pouted or held feeling. So things could not always go happily on. It was hard to settle down as a wife and mother, for I had been so free of responsibility. I suffered severely at times. It took many years to adjust myself to the routine role of wife, mother, housekeeper, etc.
David was always home for the noon meal, but in those early days, the Big Six supplied many large sheep and cattle outfits and carried their expense accounts for six months and longer, entailing a great amount of bookkeeping which he headed. And when these busy men came into town at night or on Sunday to buy supplies or settle bills, it kept him very busy. Drummers (salesmen) brought samples of their wares and often supplies of hardware, home equipment, dry goods, boots, shoes, camp supplies, tents, ducking, etc. were ordered at night, so this left me and the children at home without David. Many samples of lovely petticoats, shoes for both the children and myself, even corsets, lovely lace, ribbon and purses were sent to me by the salesmen. I did have many lovely gifts.
Mama had returned from a very enjoyable and successful mission of two years. During the World's Fair at St. Louis, she maintained quite a responsibility in a booth for the L.D.S. Mission. She and Janette McKay, sister of Pres. David O. McKay, were missionary companions who loved each other like sisters. She reported to Salt Lake City as required of all missionaries at that time. During her visit, Pres. McKay's father, about twenty years her senior, asked Mama to marry him. She just could not. After her arrival home, we were crowded for room. She rented a place across the street and kept her furniture and everything there for sleeping, but ate with us.
On June 8,
1907, my mother and President Andrew Kimball were married in the Salt
Temple. His eldest daughter, Clare, was
my age and she married about the same time. Then
there were Gordon, Delbert, Ruth, Alice, Spencer,
Helen and little
Rachel, who was stricken with diphtheria and died that day. It dampened our pleasure, for we all were
pleased with this marriage, for it was a good marriage and we were all
about it. My mother's diary is wonderful
to read. Her life was quite exciting. She lived just a block away in a large,
comfortable home. Pres. Kimball was
extremely careful of her always. We all
got along fine and enjoyed each other, too.
The next October 4, 1907, we went to the Salt Lake Temple. What a beautiful picture our little Dee was as he came into the temple room to meet us--a cute little white suit and his beautiful yellow curls and his smiling deep brown eyes. We enjoyed the whole trip. David, always so immaculate in his well tailored suits and fine cloth overcoat, was a very attractive man, well bred and cultured. I was very pleased to be with him. I had a trunk full of stylish dresses, too, so I was even proud of my own appearance.
As both of
us had been born of pioneer ancestry of the L.D.S. faith, I was
to know that we were eligible, if faithful in this life, to be united
our children and all of our family with us in eternity forever and
every child we had or would have was sealed to us.
I could claim my little Elmo after death.
That has been a guiding light to me
throughout my life. I have tried all my
life to live a good and righteous life, but I have made so many
mistakes. I look back and regret so many
now I would never do again, not sins, but thoughtless and wrong things. I hope that I will be given charity and
forgiveness by my Father in Heaven. I
pray often for it.
Dee and Virgil
On April 5,
1909, David left for Salt Lake City to be present at General Conference. From there he went to New York, where he
sailed to Liverpool, England, then on to Cape Town, South Africa, where
headquarters for the African Mission for the L.D.S. Church was located. He filled a good mission.
At the end of two years, the mission was put
in David's charge, as Pres. Hendrickson's health was not good. He felt he needed some responsible and strong
man to help him home, so he chose David, who was released to come home,
too. He was so ill that David had to
carry him off the ship. David arrived
home on May 4, 1911. His parents and the
rest of us were so proud of him. He
brought home some nice things from South Africa given him by the
some he had bought. He had gained in
weight from 128 lbs. to 202 lbs.
months after David went to Africa, on November 11, 1909, Eleanor Eliza
born. Such a dainty baby and tiny! I had never had a sister, and this baby girl
was very welcome. She sort of filled a
lonely spot, for I missed her father very much. But
Mama was a prop in his absence, and Grandpa Kimball
good to me and my three little children. They
loved him, too. Grandpa
Edward Charles Phillips and Grandma Selena Layton Phillips were both
June 8, 1912, our little Josephine was born. David had gone back in the Big Six store again. A few years later, we owned a store of general merchandise in our new building on the south side of Main Street in Thatcher across from the Big Six.
Up to now,
I had worked in our church organizations since before I was married. I sang in the choir, and was a teacher in
Sunday School and Primary. As a Stake
Aid in the MIA and as a school teacher, I had taught in our religion
too. I thoroughly enjoyed my work as
president of Ward Mutual.
Rodney Kimball Phillips was born August 5, 1915. I was very busy, but my health was pretty good. Most of the time after Virgil was born, I had help in my home. I must have had at least 12 girls aged 12 to 14 to help with the children. They went to school in the winter, and we loved every one of them like our own. One little girl, Marie Williams, made her home with us for seven years. She went one year to high school. When her mother took her away from me, it was like a funeral to all of us. She was unwilling to go and was sorry afterward, too, for her life grew unhappy. But she finally married a good man and had a family.
I was released after one year as Ward President of the MIA. It was very much against my will, but Pres. Kimball wanted me in the Stake Relief Society with Mama. She would not try to drive an automobile. As Stake Relief Society President, a lot of traveling was required, and I had to drive her car for her. I drove it to El Paso when she did not go by train, also north to Miami-Globe District and all ward Relief Societies between El Paso and Miami. Now I really was busy but enjoying life. My time was divided in thirds: first, in my attention and work in my home and my lovely growing family; second, to help at the store; and third, my responsibility to take Mama in the car when she visited Relief Society, anytime Grandpa was too busy. It was a real trial to love Relief Society, but I finally did. Rodney was too young for school and grumbled about going to "Lareef Society," as he called it. Rodney was a very clean, well-behaved little boy, and it was a pleasure to take him anywhere.
One night, David brought home a cute tiny puppy in his pocket. He proved to be Rodney's playmate, and we all loved "Brownie" for fifteen years. He was a beautiful little brown and white dog who considered himself to be part of the family. We also had a good, safe horse called Bruiser that the children could drive around in the buggy. Many times he took the bit in his mouth and drove the children and Marie home. They would come down the driveway crying about it.
So many sweet things about my babies and growing children I could write, but I am almost 79 years old and getting nervous and tired. They were all nice looking, and I could write chapters about their young lives, the things they said and did. I nursed them through measles, chicken pox, diphtheria, croup, etc. I brought home small pox and exposed my five children. Very luckily, Dr. Haywood recognized it in time to inoculate them and not one took it. David had his inoculation years before. I was dreadfully ill until the pox came out. There were more than three hundred on my face, but the doctor treated each one so not a scar was left.
David was a good provider. When we burned wood, he always had the biggest pile all cut or sawed. He was opposed to my washing clothes. Aunt Sophy Barney did my washing for twelve years. He would not buy me a washer but cheerfully paid for washings and child care in the home.
When I was forty years old, I found a gray hair in my head. Such a shock!
David took occasional trips to Los Angeles to buy for the store--yardage, shoes, in fact, all dry goods. So many times I would go unless a new (or unborn) baby compelled me to stay at home. I always liked to go to Los Angeles. David was a seasoned traveler, and we always traveled first class--a state room or a Pullman reservation, the meals in the diner, of course.
About 1913 we bought our first automobile, a J. D. Case, for nineteen hundred dollars from the store he was in. The steering wheel was on the right side of the driver's seat, while the steering gear was on the outside, to be handled with the right hand as a wagon handles a brake. It had a top with a leatherette curtain that would button on to the frame when the weather was bad. As cars improved, we bought others, of course. Complications arose, however, when Dee, Virgil, Eleanor and Jo, besides David and myself, were driving our one car. The, when Rodney arrived at the age to drive, that was all we needed.
One weekend, Rodney drove the car to San Diego, California. We found out when he returned home. There he visited Janice Smith, whom he later married. She was attending beauty school, from which she later graduated. She was a pretty girl, and is now a beautiful woman.
All my life
I have been a person to pray. I have
made so many mistakes in my life, and I pray our Father in Heaven to
me. I tried to set a proper example for
my children. I taught them to pray, to
ask the blessing on the food. I went
with them to Primary and Sunday School and, as a teacher, I gave them
books and Bible stories to read. But I
guess I should have done more, for I grieve over some who are not
much to obey the gospel and be diligent in the work of our church. And though I worry and grieve over them, some
of my descendants are faithful and give me encouragement, for which I
thankful. In 1929 we sold our seven-room adobe home and bought a lovely
house just a block from our store on Main Street. Of
course, the family was thrilled.
A year after we moved, a sweet baby girl was born to us. I was forty seven years old. Josephine, 18 years of age, was thrilled over her and helped me so devotedly with her. [Josephine (Jo) says she prayed her into the world, for she so wanted a little lister.] I soon regained my strength. I so appreciate Josephine for her faithful help. She named our dimpled blond baby Arnetta Jean. The whole family just loved her so much. Rodney was nearly fifteen years old and was very bashful around her. We could not entice him to be seen with her in his arms, and he is still not much for babies.
Eleanor was in college in San Diego, but she, too, was interested enough to send lovely silk crepe to make a carriage robe. After being away a long time, it was so nice to have her home again. After graduating from Tempe, she taught school in Thatcher for two years. During that time, she helped Josephine and me to a lovely trip to the Coast. We took Jean, and we never got on an escalator or elevator that she did not scream, little as she was.
On July 19, 1931, Eleanor married Walter Scott Merrill of Pima. He had a splendid mentality and later became a registered civil engineer. Eleanor has succeeded in almost everything she has ever tried. She was Sunday School organist at 13 years of age. She graduated from Tempe Normal School (now Arizona State University) and took summer school at San Diego in 1929. That summer, she flew to Los Angeles for the first time. We then did not feel flying to be a safe transportation, so she said nothing to me about it.
On August 18, 1933, Josephine was married to Darvil Burns McBride at a home wedding and reception. Jean was then three years old and insisted on a wedding dress of white satin, too, so I made one for her. She stood close beside Jo during the ceremony and considered it her party, too.
On the 4th
of February, 1934, Dee Married Lillian Melissa Lucas of San Bernardino,
California. Dee was 31 years old. Lillian, I think, was one year younger. She was a fine substantial woman, and we all
loved her. She was gifted in
sewing. Neat, nice looking and friendly. I loved both my daughters-in-law.
For years we had such good times together.
In 1934, David closed the store. Those were our hardest days financially, and my poor husband's heart was broken. He had had a hernia operation that failed because of his weight. Then he pulled through another operation. In August, 1941, while we were both working (he as Postmaster and I as assistant), he took a severe heart attack and never fully recovered. Another seizure occurred on November 30 and he died December 1, 1941.
His funeral services were held December 4, 1941. A large number of people attended the service. Even though it was bitterly cold, there was a large truck of flowers sent beside the hearse, which also contained many. How kind and thoughtful my family was! Oh, how I love them when I think of how they treated me. I think if I had not had them, I would have died. I am now and have always been thankful to the Lord for the fine six youngsters I reared. Dee, Virgil and Rodney moved a bed into my bedroom the night before the funeral services and slept there all night. I made some sound after I went to sleep, and Dee held my hand all the rest of the night. But we all four cried and visited most of the time. How I did love my three good-looking sons.
No son could have loved a mother more than Rodney all his life. He had never been anything but a perfect son. I admired and loved Janice. They married March 2, 1936. Janice has had a hard fight for any health and strength. She had an injured leg when a child which has never quite healed. Her love of life and her ambition has been quelled to a severe point. She is so good looking and has always been a good daughter.
Rodney had a bad heart when he was six years old. He was required to spend nearly two years very quietly. No sports at school and a few quiet years overcame this trouble. He was a good scout and deacon in the Church. In 1945 he went into the Navy and had served one year when the war ended in 1946. He was in San Diego, then at a college in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, then to Hawaii. They have made their home in Safford, where Rodney has held a responsible business position.
Jean, my youngest, missed her father very much; perhaps I was not as affectionate with her as he had been. She was eleven years old and really missed him. But she will never quite forget how very much he loved her.
He left me with that same good home and business property on Main Street, a little property in Safford, an insurance policy, and a charge book from the store to collect if I could. But no one ever paid me a cent on those old debts.
I wanted to go to California anyway, so I closed my home (which Rodney rented later). I stayed with Jo and Darvil. They both worked at Douglas Aircraft - Jo in an office and Darvil as ground teacher for the Air Force. Jo and I went out in Balboa and found a lovely old beach home, eight rooms, done all in brown wood and brown leather furniture--so comfortable, both upstairs and down. It lay right between the bay and the ocean front. This was a miracle place--the Lord provided it, I know. We expected the rent to be $150.00. The landlord was a pleasant and good man and we got it for $45.00 a month, with utilities!
How we enjoyed it! We felt like it was our home. Mac, Jon , Sally (Jo’s children) and Jean went to school. Jean graduated from the 8th grade there. I could write such interesting things about our lives but time will not permit. In three months, rent was soaring. The World War II was on. The rents were frozen, and no landlord could raise his rent in Balboa. Things like a trip in the bay on a yacht all one Sunday with picnic and games was an experience. Gas, nearly all food, some clothing, etc. were rationed. Everyone got ration cards. We did not taste beef of any cut for nearly six months. Lamb, fish, chicken, and turkey were not rationed so tightly. We learned all over again how to ride bicycles and it was fun at times. I enjoyed life, but was still lonely for my husband.
Jean insisted on coming back to Thatcher for high school. She had grown into a dainty, beautiful and intelligent girl. I was permitted to teach in the public school again. I taught for several years in Central, my childhood town. Those who knew me, along with their families, welcomed me so heartily. I was really loved and respected.
Jean, in her second year at Thatcher where our home was, had many friends, both students and teachers. She was very busy as her musical education had not been neglected. I was very proud of her piano work in school, church and the college. Also, they were so glad when she went into the college. She was needed.
During these years, we spent many of our vacations in California. Dee and Lillian were there. Lillian relieved me of the worry of Jean’s wardrobe for winter school. Dee always went to help Lillian choose the material for Jean’s dresses. Lillian was a gifted seamstress and made all clothes to fit perfectly. I had to write and tell them they could not make a clotheshorse of her--not to send a thing till we asked for it. Dee gave her a chip diamond for her graduation from high school. All the family gave her a perfect shower of lovely gifts, more than they should have. Jean had nothing to combat in life, and her disposition was very nice. She had many fine young men date her, but there were not any I wanted her to marry. Besides, she was too young.
When the Trustees from Klondyke asked me to teach over there, I felt like I was doing them a favor, too. They needed a good teacher just then and paid me splendid wages. It is a wild, rough country, where cattle raising is the chief industry. There are some good copper mines and holdings, but after copper went so low, they were closed around 1950 to 1955. The Trustees were fine men, and the school, though just two teachers for eight grades, had fine supplies and careful attention for safety. I stayed with Kirrilla Lackner, a widow with two teenage sons. She managed her ranch very capably. I will always have a spot in my heart for them, for they were so nice to me. Their home was the nicest one there, but it was a lonesome ranch in the mountains five miles from school. I drove my own car to school, with Eddie Lackner with me. I really love those people, but I refused to go back and teach the second year, and I regret it.
Jean had met Glenn Dowdle in Safford. His grandparents and his parents I had known since 1900. They each had owned fine cattle ranches at Klondyke, which had been handed down. Glenn had just begun in college when he went into the Air Force. Then, his father died, leaving his mother alone on the ranch. At that time, during the war, cattle management was an essential industry, so he was released to carry on at the ranch. He was the youngest son. Jean got acquainted with him and, seemingly, it was love at first sight for both of them.
In 1949, Jean and I attended the first summer session at the college in Flagstaff, I for a teacher’s refresher course. We came home in July, and Jean and Glenn were married on July 27, 1949. Eldon Palmer performed the ceremony in our home. Jean looked sweet in her white satin and lace dress Lillian had made, with a fingertip veil held by a pearl crown. Glenn had given her a most lovely bride’s bouquet of white orchids and knotted satin streamers with small white orchids on the ends. Glenn was perfectly elegant in his suit. He is good looking, dark and tall. They looked stunning and completely happy. We wished Dad could have been there.
We had about 150 guests and a lovely reception, together with a high wedding cake and a lime drink for refreshments. Eleanor and Jo worked so hard at hostessing and managing the refreshments. There were many beautiful presents. It was I who packed them away after Glenn and Jean took off in his car for their honeymoon. What a time they had getting off safely, but they did, among rice, old shoes and the “Just Married” sign. They went to Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Grand Canyon--almost four weeks of it.
Virginia, Virgil’s oldest daughter, and her fiancé, Curtis Neilson, came from Los Angeles for the wedding. They left for Logan, Utah, the next morning, where they were married on July 29, 1949, that being the only LDS temple open in midsummer. They went to her parents’ home in Long Beach for their reception on August 3rd. Then they, too, left on a honeymoon. I had cleared the wedding disorder at home, packed Jean’s presents and hurried to Long Beach to help on my oldest grandchild’s wedding reception. Virginia had a beautiful reception at the Church social hall. Her dress was white satin with a train and fingertip veil. I was so proud of her temple marriage.
She has all her sweet life been a busy girl in church as well as school. Curtis Neilson was a fine-looking man, who in military life was a lieutenant, later captain of a Coast Guard weather ship. They were stationed in Hawaii for two years. My first great-grandchild, Steve, was born in Honolulu. But Virginia has had tragedy and sorrow in her life. Her husband was killed in Alameda, California, on May 4, 1952. She is now happily married to a fine LDS man, Arvid Lavell Webster, and they reside in Sandy, Utah. She has been a comfort to me. I visited her frequently at her home in Norwalk before she married Arvid.
Glenn is a sweet and good man. He has no bad habits, neither tobacco, coffee or liquor. And I do not know one man as completely dedicated and thoughtful in every way to his four children and his wife as he is. He has one grave, grave fault. He thinks because he is big and strong, he can do any kind of hard work on his ranch, but he punishes himself. Sometime he will find that his overdoing will punish him more than it has already. He has too much ambition. He says someday he will listen to me, but he is too busy now. I pray always that he will listen to our religious way of life sometime, for I know ours is the right way to be with our loved ones as a family group in eternity.
Jean is not too keen about ranch life, but she tries to be contented. Their home is happy and they come over to town at least once a week. But I have others besides Glenn to worry over. Virgil and Toots are trying to prepare themselves to go to the temple. Their family are all in line to be sealed to them. Eddie, their oldest son, converted his wife, Mary Ann. I do love Eddie for his convictions and his ambition in every way. So I worry over Rodney, who is well respected. He and Janice have a world of friends, and he has a lovely family to look forward to in Eternity. We all have to pass on from this world. We might be wise enough to prepare for our happy future there. It is stupid and wrong to neglect it here.
When Jean left me, I was stupid. I thought for six months I could not live. I could not endure it, and it is hard at times now to see her drive away, but Glenn’s sweetness has helped me so much. Then I love their little brood with a passion. They help me to feel that a grandmother is necessary in a child’s life.
When Jo, Darvil and their children moved back from California, I eventually sold them my home. I have not had to move or become accustomed to new surroundings, and I have my same room with new furnishings. The provision was made in the sale. I could not take life too long away from Josephine.
Darvil has been good to me. He is quite a man. He was elected to a State Senatorship. As this is election year again, I am quite sure he will run again. His education has been a great help, too. He was bishop of Huntington Beach Ward in California. He is at present first counselor to Bishop Farrell Layton in College Ward in Thatcher. I like to be with them. They are faithful to their church and always attend.
Mac, Jon and Sally are all married and I love their families. They all are working in the church. Mac is in dental school in U.S.C., Los Angeles, California. Before he was married, he departed for a mission to Uruguay, but his health compelled him to transfer to the Spanish-American Mission in San Antonio, Texas, then to Pecos for the dry, hot weather. He helped superintend [the building of two fine modern (though small) LDS meeting houses in Pecos, Texas and Las Cruces New Mexico. He served as branch president in Lubbock and Las Cruces.]
Jon graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in [entomology] and received a fellowship to Idaho State College. Having trained in R.O.T.C. during college, he then went into the Air Force and is now a 1st Lieutenant and flying the large airplanes with a promotion in sight. When he was at a San Antonio, Texas, Air Force base in April, 1959, his fiancé, DeNell Crismon of Phoenix, wanted me to chaperon her for a week’s visit with Jon. Eleanor’s daughter, Suzanne, went with us. Jon rented us an apartment, as he lived at the base. We used his car and everyday we would meet him at the base, then he would take us to some new part of the city.
The best park had a beautiful sunken garden with bridges, two small islands of flowers (a great deal of them tropical), and a Japanese tea house. The water reflections of the colored flowers were unique. This dreamy garden was constructed from a sump hole where the first Portland Cement Company had made cement years before. The large, fine zoo reminded me of San Diego Park Zoo. Besides animals and snakes, there was a large apiary and a yard of beautiful pink flamingoes. The San Antonio River runs crooked as a snake through this beautiful city. I counted eleven curved artistic pedestrian bridges. The banks are entirely covered with well-kept flower beds and lawns. There is a theater stage on one curved bank, backed by a lovely building. The seats were in tiers on the opposite bank. San Antonio rates high among the cleanest cities of the United States. The Alamo stands in the center of the city. Tradition, history and art are written everywhere. I enjoyed myself more every minute of the week. The last day came. We took the bus west to Arizona, and Jon drove his car east to Moultrie, Georgia. I was impressed with Texas--its cattle, oil, purple sage, and beautiful streams and rivers.
In July of 1959, Jon had asked DeNell to come to Moultrie to marry him. She had her shower presents and all her possessions packed in her car. She brought her Grandma Elsie Markley to Thatcher, where I joined the two and we left for Georgia.
Once again we crossed that enormous stretch of country, Texas. I like Texas--its southwestern corner bare of all growth except sage brush, and thousands of acres of desolate, bare land. But this part of the state was wealthy with little fires like stars everywhere on this land. On inquiry, we learned that oil seeped out of the ground and had to be burned. One small blaze was carried on the breeze to ignite close seepages, so the fires spread. The eastern half of Texas was beautiful in summer. Large rivers and streams of clear water ran through the rolling hills which were covered with grass and trees of many varieties. It was lush country for cattle. We saw oil wells, but many were nearer the south coast and different parts of the state.
I thought we would never get out of that state, but before many days we were crossing the Mississippi River. Such a big stream. What a thrill! We spent one night in New Orleans, but DeNell could not linger. She wanted to get to Jon. We arrived at Moultrie and the night was black as pitch. She followed driving instructions and drove straight to the rented place he had waiting. We placed all of her dishes, clothing, etc. in the furnished cottage. Two days later, on July 31, 1959, Darvil and Josephine, together with DeNell’s parents, David and Nell Crismon, arrived. That evening at six p.m., Jon and DeNell were married at the home of the head elder of the LDS Mission Branch. DeNell’s parents took us all to a wedding room in a big hotel for a delicious supper.
We two grandmothers and four parents felt regretful to leave these sweet, young things so far from home. We six traveled by car about 150 miles to the Atlantic coast and on to Jeckel Island to see beautiful old mansions built 100 years ago or more. Everything was so interesting. We waded in the Atlantic Ocean, ate dinner and drove to Jacksonville, Florida, which was beautiful lighted in the night. It was a great pleasure to me to stand on the bank of the Swanee River. I thought of Stephen Foster’s lovely southern songs. The river flowed from Georgia south into Florida, a lovely, deep, clear stream which seemed in no hurry to race along.
We crossed the Florida state line north into Alabama. Frequent summer rains in all the gulf states create a fresh green look of continued spring. Hundreds of picturesque old southern mansions had lovely iron grill work that was painted white, giving them the appearance of being trimmed with white lace. These colonial mansions sat always in a green grass acreage, either on a green knoll or a slight hill with large scattered beautiful shade trees. No artist’s painting could exaggerate such a peaceful or beautiful picture.
We also saw the squalid poverty of the crowded Negro homes. One large Negress, with a straw basket of clothes on her head, went up the sidewalk of a small town dancing a jig to a song. A young Negro, driving home on a flat wagon bed, was happily dancing to harmonic music. His horses seemed unperturbed. There were many beautiful women and girls, large and small, of mixed white and black blood. The southern cooking was usually delicious. Very few meals were served without cornbread and ground cooked hominy (grits). The Southern whites were very courteous. As you passed along sidewalks, men touched, if not lifted, their hats. Very unobtrusive kindly smiles were given us in Moultrie, Georgia.
I enjoyed the stop at Biloxi, Mississippi. A very nice beach on the Gulf of Mexico lured us to a dip in the warm waters. It was an interesting drive toward home for miles along the beach. I never saw such beautiful old beech trees, trees of the south. There were beautiful blooming magnolias, too. Going over, we had spent a night and a morning in Vicksburg, Mississippi on the Mississippi River. The city has a Civil War monument, landmarks of iron statues of the southern Civil War heroes. There was also a fine old cemetery of their dead heroes. Vicksburg stands on a bend of the river. I saw one of the large boats that ply the river go by. I waved and they waved back.
Then down to New Orleans, which was another exciting two days. We had lovely motel rooms, where I scalded my left arm severely when I leaned in to turn the hot water off in the shower. Elsie Markley, the other grandmother, was a nurse and I did not suffer with it much, but it was a bad scald anyway. It was fun having our own car, which we had named the “Lavender Lady.” It was David Crismon’s car. We went to the shopping center and spent hours in the Old French Quarter. I cannot take time to describe it, but we were all very interested in its historical features. We stopped at El Paso and Juarez, Mexico. I had been there several times before.
I had thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the trip. I often wish that I could travel more. Now that family ties are broken and my interests and responsibilities very few, sometimes I heartily wish my income would allow much more travel than it does. But I have nothing to complain of. I am and must be happy, contented and thankful for all of my many blessing.
Josephine is so patient, generous and utterly thoughtful of me in every way. Darvil, of course, is a very busy man in his own grocery business, church responsibilities and political issues. As a State Senator from Graham County, he is a radio commentator on Senatorial procedure. He is very thoughtful of both Josephine and me. I do not think I would be as happy anywhere else, except, of course, as I visit at the ranch with Glenn and Jean and their children. Then, I take off to Phoenix or Los Angeles occasionally.
I enjoy being with Jennie Brooks and her sisters. She visited me in October, 1961. I have not been to California or out of state for two years. A little duodenal ulcer has reduced my activities, strength and nerves to quite a degree. The doctors and druggists have reduced my financial status also.
I find comfort in my studies of our faith as a Relief Society teacher and as a member of our Genealogical Committee. The Sunday School Genealogy class helps us all, too. I love to read our church work and, if I had not a firm belief in our faith, the church and its many good, true books and a true testimony of this gospel, I would be lost for, at eighty years of age, one needs to look forward and depend on an after-life for comfort.
I have lived through the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II. I remember so well the beautiful bright May morning when the United States got word of the Spanish sinking our big war ship, the Maine, and then our experiences and sacrifices of World War I. I knitted socks and sweaters, and sewed many baby clothes and hospital gowns for the Red Cross. During our stay in Balboa with Josephine and Darvil during World War II, I watched hundreds of lovely young soldiers who were lonely and homesick, put in time that was wasted by ruthlessness and drinking because they were sure they would be killed when they were shipped overseas--and many were. Those were hard experiences and sad, perilous times, but life has been fair to me, for we all face trials and temptations.
I am thankful for my beautiful, uncrippled body and my mentality. I cannot live too many more years and have no desire to, because a loss of strength means much to an ambitious person. Physically, I am a restless person and work fast. Now, I have to reserve my strength. But this is a beautiful old world. I love what it can grow, the beauties of its many splendored faces--the mountains, fields, parks with trees, lawns, and especially the gorgeous flowers and plumed birds. I will never forget our glorious sunsets and bright glittery moon that is always a glory at night and a help and comfort to me. And when I leave this world of life, I will think as the song says: “Goodbye, Sweet Day.”
Nettie passed away on July 31, 1964, at the age of 81. She was in her beloved home in Thatcher, with Eleanor and Rodney by her side. There was a struggle for the release from mortal life to come, ending with what must have been a joyful reunion with her loved ones on the other side of the veil.
Transcribed and edited by Suzanne Merrill Peterson,
daughter of Eleanor Phillips and Scott Merrill
FUNERAL SERVICES HELD FOR ELIZA ARNETTA PHILLIPS
services for Eliza Arnetta [Jones] Phillips, 81, were held in the
services were in the Thatcher cemetery where Darvil McBride gave the
prayer. Bearers were Max Phillips, David [Mac] McBride, Arvid Webster,
Porter, Kenneth Lindner and George Windes. Honorary bearers were Dee
David Russel Phillips, David Byron Phillips Jon McBride, Edward
Elwood O’Dell, Edward Peterson and Steven Webster.
(See “Nettie’s Autobiography” on this site.
It includes the
history found in this newspaper article.)
The article continues:
loved children and they love her.
She is survived by her two sons, Virgil and Rodney and her three daughters, Eleanor, Josephine and Jean, 18 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.Out of town relatives and friends who came for the services were Mr. and Mrs. Virgil Phillips, Draper, Utah, Mr. and Mrs. [Virginia Phillips] Arvid Webster, Sandy, Utah, Mr. and Mrs. [Vicky Phillips] George Windes, Norwalk, California, Mr. and Mrs. [husband of Pricilla Phillips], Howard Standage, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Standage, Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Standage, and Mrs. George Standage and Pricella Lamb of Mesa; Mr and Mrs. [Linda Larson] David [Mac] McBride, Pasadena, California; Mrs. Suzanne Petersen, Mr. and Mrs. Vera Foster, Harvey Foster, and Mr. and Mrs. Nelsen Phillips of Phoenix, Mr. and Mrs. Elwood O’Dell, Phoenix; Mr. and Mrs. Philip Pace of Chandler; Mr. and Mrs. J. Pace of Mesa; Della Smith?, Mesa, Mr and Mrs. Kenneth Lindner, Douglas; May Dawson, Klondike, Belva Birdno Rainey, Phoenix, and Mr and Mrs. Kent Layton, Solana Beach, California. [Virtually all of the attendees above are close relatives of Nettie and her husband, David Dee Phillips.]