JOSEPHINE FOREMASTER SAVAGE
By daughter, Clara S. Abbott
In the year 1848 Grandfather Foremaster answered the call to come to America. He finally settled in St. George, known as Utah's "Dixie." The town is huddled in the northwest corner of a square valley protected by four hills -- a vermilion sandstone on the north and black lava covered hills on the east, the south and the west. The fields were in the south end. Between the town and the fields there was a great deal of waste land covered with sage brush and mesquite bushes.
A meandering silver ribbon, glistening in the bright sunshine, ran along for a distance and then disappeared through a gap in the south hill. It was the Rio Virgin River, which gave life to the green fields in the south end of the valley. In flood time the small stream became a wild boiling terror which covered and ruined the fields, taking dams, fences and bridges in its wake, it was a good thing the semitropical climate gave several crops a year, otherwise the settlers would have starved to death. The water from the river was carried through the fields in irrigation ditches, while the water for the town came from the melting snow of the distant, towering mountains on the north.
Grandfather, an expert stone mason, built his two-story stone house from blocks of black lava stone, put together with white mortar. When Mother was a young girl she took two weeping willows and put them in the damp ground near tile edge of the well at the front of their home. They grew into two beautiful trees which shaded the house and yard. The long feathery branches waved in the slightest breeze; birds visited in them and sang their sweet songs. Long before dawn, the insect symphony began. When the morning light broke, the birds joined in the chorus, later, the meadow lark answered the call from the distant fields. This was the setting of mother's early life.
They had close neighbors who were very dear to them -- the Everetts, the Brigham Prisbreys, the St. George Wells’, the Atkins, the Charles Walkers, well known Dixie families. Most of these people had large families and the children played together doing things that come naturally to pioneer children -- there were no expensive toys. Mother was a happy child and well liked by them. She loved to wander among the rocks on the black ridge, seeking shiny stones and wild flowers. The sego lily and Indian paint brush were her favorites. There was a cave near her home which was cool and inviting on blistering hot days. This was her special place to play and she often talked about it.
In those days children had their work to do -- simple tasks at first, but harder as they grew older. Mother's parents believed that "idleness was the devil's workshop." Grandmother, true to her German heritage was a scrupulous, exacting person, a perfectionist in the true sense of the word. She drilled this into her young daughter until it became part of her very being. One time she made her do a task over ten times before she was satisfied.
The pioneers worked very hard; they had little time for frills and fancy things. How Mother longed for something pretty! Once she coaxed for just a ruffle around the bottom of her dress. Her mother said, "I do not have time, when you can sew you can do as you like."
When Mother was thirteen she made her first dress and she put a ruffle on the bottom. From then on she made all her clothing and she became an excellent seamstress; she cut and fitted her own patterns and designed her own dresses. I remember her pattern charts always hung on the "little room" door.
Though Grandmother and Grandfather were very strict with their children, they loved them very dearly; they wanted them to be true Americans and they would not allow the younger ones born in this country, to speak the German language. Years later Mother
regretted this for it was considered a mark of culture to speak foreign languages.
During the time when the Church practiced polygamy, Grandfather had three wives. I know nothing about the second wife (Mary Rich), but Caroline, the third wife lived with them in the old home. I have heard the family say that all was not harmony in the home; she was younger than Grandmother. When the Manifesto was issued against polygamy in 1889 Grandfather went to Arizona and took Caroline with him. Grandmother and Mother remained in the old home.
The girls had married and lived in other towns. The boys -- Albert, Ephraim, and David were cattlemen and had remained in St. George. They were very kind to their Mother and sister -- a close knit family.
As there was no money coming into the family budget, Josephine had to go to work at a very early age. She was given a job by a friend of the family, Brother John Pymm. His home not only housed the post office, but was a stopping place for travelers. Josephine worked in the post office, but when she use not busy she helped in the house as a favor.
One day a traveler was seated at the table. Josephine came in and took her place. The man jumped to his feet and exclaimed, "I do not eat with servants!" "Josephine is no servant; she works in the post office, but when she is not busy. she sometimes gives us a helping hand, Brother Pymm explained. The man apologized and sat down. Mother was embarrassed for she was proud, but she laughed when she told us about it years later.
In those days the town was small and everyone knew everyone else. Josephine was well liked by young and old. She was a very friendly person. As for beauty, the styles of the times did not lend to beauty. Josephine had beautiful brown hair she could sit on. It was parted in the middle and combed straight back -- no curls or waves to flatter the face; no makeup. Hers was an inner beauty -- a spiritual beauty that made her eyes and face glow and sparkle, a humorous quirk was almost ever present.
A friend and neighbor wrote of her:
You asked about your mother -- she was born in the early days of Dixie and knew of its privations and hardships, yet in spite of it she grew into one of the most splendid woman I ever knew.
She was a wonderful dressmaker and she looked lovely in her best clothes. I like to remember her best in a lovely white dress, full skirt, deep hem, tucked from hem to waist. A wide blue ribbon belt and a large box with a lovely white hat trimmed with blue flowers. her fan hung on a blue ribbon completed her costume. She looked lovely. I know her heart was as pure and beautiful as the white of her costume.
She was not a public woman -- never sang or recited, but she did work in primary, Sunday School and M.I.A. She worked in the post office, but she was always ready to help the sick and the suffering.
She was low spoken, never stooped to gossip or used unbecoming language. She had a keen sense of humor and a perfect faith in her Father in Heaven.
Sincerely with love, Aunt Zadie Niles
Though Josephine had many friends, she had two very special girl friends -- Lucy hatch and Lucy Sanders. Their friends called them the three graces. I remember their picture in the old family album; they were all dressed in white and wore corsages. Mother always talked so much about them. I do not know what happened to Lucy Sanders but Mother and Lucy Hatch were lifelong friends.
One day in the fall of 1888 a new guest came to live at the Pymm house. He was Nephi Miles Savage from Payson, Utah. He was the youngest son of Henry Savage, formerly of London, England. While (the Pymm family was ) living there ( in England) Brother Henry Savage had baptized the Pymm family and they ( the Savage family ) became fast friends, later they (all) emigrated to Utah. The Pymms were overjoyed to see Nephi and prevailed upon him to make his home with them. When Nephi's parents died he went to Grass Valley to make his home with his sister. Here he taught a country school for two ten week periods; this inspired him to go to the Brigham Young Academy in Provo where he came under the influence of Dr. Karl B. Maeser and they became fast friends.
President Woodruff wrote to Dr. Maeser and asked him to recommend someone to open and be principal of the new St. George Stake Academy. Dr. Maeser answered, "Of the young students I know, I recommend Nephi Miles Savage who graduated second among the top ten last spring. He is a very spiritual young man and would do a good work there. Nephi was accepted and if everything was favorable he was to make his home in St. George.
It was thrilling news to the young lady in the post office that the new principal was to live at the place where she worked. She had thought she was love with I neighbor boy, Joseph Atkin, whom she had been going with but now she knew it was not really love. How she wished she could attend the Academy and continue her education!
Nephi met a Brother George Jarvis whom his father had baptized in London. He welcomed Nephi warmly and took him home to meet his family. He had a lovely talented daughter named Josephine or "Josie" who was a great attraction. She was refined, gracious and well educated and she was one of the best teachers at the Academy. It was only natural that they would be attracted to each other, knowing his family was another bond. He spent a good deal of time at her home and they were seen together at social functions.
All this did not make Josephine very happy, but she didn't believe in parading her feelings; she would bide her time. She felt her chance would come and she would take advantage of if when it came -- she dreamed her dreams.
When Nephi arrived, St. George had a social hall fully equipped with a stage, a beautiful drop curtain, painted in Europe, and four back curtains depicting various scenes. The main floor had a slope of four feet with an orchestra pit in front; there were dressing rooms and kerosene footlights. This was the hub of all entertainment which was sponsored by the various wards and organizations of the Church. Everything was free to all.
I have a small diary Nephi kept the second year as principal of the Academy. The first entry is dated Jan. 1, 1890. It begins with a Grand Ball at the Social Hall. "Josie" was his partner and Mother was with her friend Joseph. They danced two new dances -- The Mrs. McLosed's reel and the Tempest, both were group dances. I am sure Josephine was her charming self whenever she was near Nephi.
Early that year there was a great deal of illness among the students and Nephi became gravely ill; the Authorities and the students did everything they could to help him to better health. Great faith was exercised in his behalf. He did recover and returned to school. It was decided that the basement of the Tabernacle was an unhealthy place for the Academy.
During Nephi's illness “Josie” did not once go to see him, but after his illness they attended balls and parties together. When he was able to take nourishment Josephine saw that he was supplied with tempting dainties.
One night after a walk in the moonlight, Nephi stopped to talk to Josephine who was working late. He offered to walk her home. She was surprised and thrilled beyond words, but she tried not to show her elation. The walk that always seemed so long was all too short tonight; the block-long row of tamarack near her home which was always passed at the speed of a deer held no terrors tonight .
They neared her home. The two story house silhouetted, against the night, was lent magic by the two great rasping willow trees that draped one end of the house. The long sweeping branches moved slightly in the breeze as moonbeams played hide and seek among them. Not far away, the Black Ridge stood sentinel over the night. The two lingered a moment by the gate and then they were gone. Had their hearts been touched by the magic of the night? They both felt something they could not understand.
The next few days "Josie" was cool and unresponsive to Nephi's greeting. He was independent and "Josie" was proud. Had the underground been working overtime? The maid in the post office seemed to have a new fascination for him and she made good use of her time. Finally Nephi suggested to "Josie" that they be sweethearts no longer -- just good friends.
After a time a reaction set in, he missed "Josie" more and more and he tried to win her back, but she was proud and unforgiving, he went to Pine ValIey to teach summer school and he wrote to both girls. After his return in the fall he was still on friendly terms with "Josie", but he realized their love was over and Josephine was always his partner. The embers of his love for "Josie" were slow in dying, but they were now spent. He had found a love that was sweet and satisfying -- one that would last throughout all eternity.
On Sept. 28, 1890, they became engaged and they were married in the St. George Temple on May 7, 1891. Josephine made her own wedding dress and trimmed it with some plaid silk woven by Nephi's father in London; he was a silk weaver. Nephi was very pleased and happy. Sister Macfarlane cooked and served them a lovely wedding dinner for their family and a few close friends and a reception was held that night in the Foremaster home. They received many lovely wedding presents, many of which I remember. They were happy and very much in love. Just to stay at home at night and enjoy their home life and Josephine's good cooking was wonderful. The diary now ended.
After Henry was born they went on their one and only vacation to Fish Lake to see Father's relatives. Mother never tired talking about it.
They lived in the old home until the school board bought then a home on West Temple St. (200 E), two blocks north of the Temple. George Woodward put up the money and they paid him back in monthly installments. They wanted to insure Father’s remaining in St. George.
Media was born when Henry was two years old and I came along on her second birthday. Mother called us her jewels. When I was nine months old, Father received a mission call to the Southern States. Father said, "This is a life long desire." Mother said, "I always wanted to marry a missionary. I will make my living by serving for others." In those days missionaries traveled without purse or script. Father asked for a delay until his home was paid for; it did not take long.
The Lord blessed them abundantly. Mother cared for us children, the house and the garden during the day and after us were tucked in bed, she sewed for others until the wee small hours of the night by the light of an oil lamp. When our watering turn came, day or night, she had to leave everything and take care of it for water was such a precious item. It meant our livelihood for the gardens would die without water.
Her brothers used to bring us meat when they butchered an animal. Mother was given a load of wood or hay occasionally otherwise she would have to buy then. Members of the Priesthood would sometimes chop her wood or work in the garden. Her cows, chickens and pigs had to be take oars of; her brothers and their families were wonderful to her.
Grandmother became very ill and had to have constant care day and night and she was ill for such a long time. Uncle Albert used to come for us every morning end bring us home at night. Mother felt better having us in our own beds at night. She was always cheerful in her letters to Father she did not want to worry him. Once she was almost at the breaking point; she wrote, "I can't stand this much longer, Mother must be administered to it least twice a day; so many in and out, no set time for meals or prayers; the children are away all day. I just can't stand to see Mother suffer so much!"
All the missionaries in Father's district prayed and exercised their faith in her behalf and she was finally taken, then Mother missed her so. The sisters of the Relief Society came and made her clothing, but Mother had to oversee everything to the smallest detail; she felt that that was the last thing she should do for her.
Father wrote of her letters, "I am always pleased to see your ever recognizable messenger of love, hope, and faith which comes as refreshing dew on a thirsty field."Bits of her humor:
"In watering the cow she refused to go through some weeds and grass which has grown up in the lane, (but I forced her) thinking there might be a snake there, I undertook to climb over the fence; when I got astride it, I came down with my full weight. I did not know whether you had one woman or two for about an hour. I am all right now, but stiff and swollen. Don't tell it. Ha, Ha!"
"I have run ashore for news and I think I hear you say 'I haven't time to listen to all the gossip.' Now don't you miss my endless tongue or are you like Job Candle and can still hear it vibrating."
"I hope the Lord will not let you get hatless and shoeless to test your faith."
"Tomorrow is your birthday and I feel worse every day that I could not send you something. You will be 32 and I will be 29 the 5th of December. Yes, five milestones have past and the hopes of our youth are crowned with gold; the harvest has ripened through storm and shine.”
The letters Mother and Father wrote while he was on his mission were beautiful letters; also beautifully penned. Mother once won a prize for her penmanship. Their letters were kept in an old trunk in the granary. As I was growing up they were my favorite reading material. Even though the boiling Dixie sun beat down on the roof and I was bathed in perspiration, I read on and on, especially when they said things about "their darling baby Clara" Father was a true Victorian; he was not demonstrative like Mother in words or actions, but he showed his feelings in writing.
Mother was always concerned about her husband and children before herself. Once she wrote; "professor George Brimhall was here and spoke in Sacrament Meeting on ‘The Need of Education.’ How I wished -- well, it's too late for me, but I want it for you and the children."
Father filled a good mission and baptized many worthy souls into the Church. When he was released and ready to come home, Mother wrote, "I wish you could stop at Provo on your way home and investigate the possibility of furthering your education. I am sure we could get along."
Father continued as principal of the Academy for one year after his mission, but the public schools came into existence and lack of money closed the Academy doors. Father was then elected to the offices of City and County Treasurer, offices he held for twenty-seven years.
Seven more children were born to them -- Josephine, Karl G. Maeser, Albert, Joseph and Mary (twins) and another pair of twins who died shortly after birth. (These latter children knew very little of Mother and they are looking forward for this history).
When the first set of twins were born, we had had a great deal of illness that year and doctor bills had mounted; Mother and Father had felt the strain financially. When the door was opened the next morning there was a hundred pound sack of flour on the doorstep and a $10.00 bill was in the top of the sack -- no name was attached. I saw tears in Mother's eyes; she was proud but very grateful.
Father's salary was small as salaries go today, but it was cash -- real money and Mother was a genius at stretching it to its limit. We had a good living -- three cows, chickens, a couple of hogs (slaughtered each fall) and a large garden which gave us plenty to eat. Each fall after harvest, Father bought a year's supply of wheat and had it ground at the grist mill. It was stored in the granary along with the long-necked squash and the onions, which had been dried and placed on a shelf on the wall. Potatoes, carrots and root vegetables were stored in a ventilated pit under ground. Mother canned hundreds of quarts of fruits and vegetables each fall. We always had wonderful corn and Mother always dried some for winter use. her pickled grapes seem to be a lost art; she put twigs of grapes in a large wooden barrel, poured a sweet, sour, spicy syrup over them and let them stand to pickle. She served them with hot buttermilk biscuits and they were cut of this world.
The odor of fresh baked bread and in the fall, the odor of pickIes and chili sauce perfumed the neighborhood. Mother was an artist in her cooking, I remember the Thanksgiving and Christmas plum puddings. Father was English, hence his love for plum pudding. Mother always brought it to the table on a platter, always perfect in shape, never soggy. It looked good but you should have tasted it!
Her pies were a delight -- they were cut according to age; Father received the most generous slice; the little ones, well, they received a sliver; pie wasn't good for little children anyway. At Christmas time she always made a stack of pies and put them in a swing cupboard out side under the arbor. Henry, the oldest, loved pie; one day his desire got the best of him; he knew if he took a piece it would be missed, so he took a whole pie, It was not missed, but his conscience got the best of him and he confessed the theft. Mother did not punish him; she felt he had punished himself. She was secretly amused.
Because of the warm Dixie climate, we had a great number of misfit drifters who came to St. George and stayed; their names are familiar -- Chandler, Huey Cousins, Francis Morse, old Ben Poke, a negro and others. The Piute Indians and beggars must have had our gate marked. Mother gave food handouts to all of them. Chandler was the only one that came into the house he came every Tuesday and watched Mother iron and bounced the little children on his knees. He was always sure of buttermilk biscuits and milk before he left. He vas allergic to soap and water so I didn't enjoy his visits but Mother was kind to him.
Young students beat a path to our door on winter nights for Father to help them with their math and other subjects. Often Father was not home from the court house and his dinner would be drying out in the warming oven. Mother was glad the young people needed him and loved him.
Budding dressmakers came for Mother to fit a dress or cut them a pattern. She always found time for a treat to the sick or homebound. Others came for cheer and comfort which she gave in rich abundance -- Mother was truly a Christian in very deed.
She did all these things for others, but Nephi always came first with her; she made special treats and things he liked, he always whistled on his way hone; as there was not public transportation he either walked or rode a bicycle and by his whistling we knew when he was near. Everything had to be quiet and orderly when he came in for he had had a hard day and he was very nervous. Mother's love was beyond understanding.
Father had contracted arthritis as a young boy and had suffered a good deal all his life. I was surprised when I read his diary that when he came to St. George that he danced, ran races, played ball and even rode horseback. I remember each morning she would massage his stiff joints so he could get about his work. In spite of his arthritis he built our barn, outbuildings, fences, etc., and worked in the garden and kept our home in repair.
One of the arts of pioneer days was the homemade rag carpet. For months on winter evenings Mother could cut or tear old clothing or sheets she had dyed into strips and than she would sew the strips together and wind them into balls. At house cleaning time in the fall she would take them to the weaver who would weave them into panels on her loom. The warp was new in varied bright colors. Mother would sew the panels together to fit her room; when the room was all cleaned and fresh straw from the threshers was scattered evenly on the floor she would tack the carpet down firmly. It took a great deal of stretching and pulling on ones knees to make it tight. They had wall to wall carpet in those days.
I remember one time when Mother had just finished tacking the carpet down and was sitting on the floor resting, I came in and it smelled so clean and sweet, and the straw crackled as I walked; it was music to my ears. I sat down on her lap end almost smothered her with kisses. She playfully pushed me away only for a new onslaught on my part. I looked at my father across the room after a hard days work at the office; he looked so tired and worn. I wanted to do the same to him but I was afraid. I know now that he would have loved it.
As our family grew our house was bulging at the seams. An arbor of ivy and honeysuckle and large trees were wonderful for outdoor living in summer because of the intense heat. The arbor made a good bedroom. Often we would pull our beds out so we could gaze up into the star vaulted heavens. Then again we might be awakened by a loud clap of thunder; there was a mad dash for the house, dragging bed clothes behind us before the rain came. We weren't always lucky.
In winter an upright folding bed and a trundle bed did wonderful disappearing acts during the day. Later the Postmaster house was sold and Mother's share went into two new bedrooms.
Those were happy days even though they were pre-electric, pre-gas, pre-house plumbing, in fact pre-everything that made life easy and comfortable. The water had to be carried in from the street early in the morning before the sun was up. The drinking water was placed in a large wooden barrel, covered with wet burlap end placed in the shade. Two large barrels were filled with wash water which was "settled", heated on an outdoor furnace and cleansed with lye. The clothes were washed by a hand washer, boiled, rinsed in two waters and hung on long lines to dry in the sun -- colored clothes were hung in the shade; later they were dampened and stored in a basket over night.
Tuesday was ironing day. Mother loved to iron and her fresh ironed clothes were a joy to behold. No electric irons -- just "sad irons" heated on the back of a coal range. The clothes were hung on a large wooden clothes horse until the next day.
I must not forget the homemade soap which sometimes had to pinch-hit for toilet soap. It did not produce "a skin you love to touch.' And the Saturday night baths! Mother had to see that the zinc tub was lugged in by the kitchen stove, but it was not large enough for an oversized person, somehow they had to manage. There was no refrigeration in those days. In summer a homemade "swing cupboard" hung in the shade with burlap "wicks" dropping from a zinc receptacle on top filled with water kept things surprisingly cool. In winter a similar cupboard, hanging from the ceiling joist in the cellar served the same purpose. Everything had to be scrupulously clean.
Well I remember the look on Mother's face as each labor saving improvement came into the house -- a beautiful range, nickel plated, with a warming oven, reservoir for hot water and an oven control -- no more guess work in baking. Then followed running water in the house.
Our carpenter, Charles Cottam, a perfectionist, was given the job of doing the cabinet work in his spare time. It took a year. Mother said with a twinkle in her eye, "Well Charles, people will ask who did it? not how long did it take')" He chewed his tongue; as was his habit and looked pleased.
Electricity came next -- no more sad irons; no more smoked lamp chimneys to wash!
Mother loved beautiful things, though she never had enough money to realize her desires. She did her best to bring beauty into everything she did. When she canned fruit every bottle was arranged as if it were to go to our county fair. One of her quilts won a blue ribbon at the fair; every stitch was perfect. She had no curtain stretchers so she pinned her curtains to a sheet on the floor; each scallop was perfect. Her crisp curtains will always stand out in my memory.
Our flower gardens always received tender loving care; they were famous for their long rows of sweet peas. Father would put up chicken wire for them to climb on. The seeds were planted in the fall, covered with leaves when the frost came; the first warm days saw them climbing the wire and suddenly they were a mass of multi-colored blooms filling the air with their sweet perfume.
Mother and Father had many friends when they married; however as the years passed their dinner guests narrowed down to the Woodbury and Hatch famiIies and, of course, Mothers brother's families. Brother Woodbury was a teacher in the Academy and later as County Clerk with an office adjoining Father's in the court house. We used to exchange dinner visits "en family" with them until the families became too large; then our parents had the older children exchange visits. We became very close to both families. The Woodburys used to take us to their summer home in the Washington fields to visit.
The Hatches had a store on their lot which always seemed so dark and mysterious to me; they had everything from silk to bacon and iron bolts. They always gave us "goodies" when we went in. One day we were invited to see their new home; they had done away with the store. Lucy took Mother on a tour through the house and I tagged along. They came to the kitchen last; Lucy opened the cupboard doors and I heard a little gasp from Mother. There were four sets of fine china -- four huge turkey platters! (They raised turkeys). I am sure Mother's gasp was not envy, but sheer delight and perhaps a little desire. When they closed out the store there was no sale for the China so Lucy inherited it. How I wished Mother could have just one set. We raised big fat hens not turkeys, but Mother could serve more than one on a platter.
Even though Mother and Father had little money and lived on the edge of civilization, they wanted their children raised with culture, love for books and education was born and bred in us. They bought an organ when money was hard to come by, and they started the three older children on music lessons. Mother helped Father make tax notices in the spring and fall at home and we could not practice so our musical talent died aborning; we all loved music and some very fine talent came into the family through marriage. They bought an Edison phonograph which we played for hours.
Mother and Father subscribed to the Youth's Companion for many years; we children loved it. The Companion began to offer remarkable prices for new subscriptions, especially fine books. The books were what broke Father's resistance; he asked a few friends for subscriptions; then people began to go to him. he carried a copy to the court house and put it on a table; as people were wanting to pay their taxes, they examined the magazine and left their names and money for subscriptions. They came from all over the county. It was exciting for we all loved books -- both current and the great masters.
There were so many prizes for Mother; a twelve place setting of lovely china; a twelve place setting of 1847 silver, the sterling of pioneer days. There was one long pure Irish linen table cloth and twelve linen napkins which Mother hemmed by hand. There ware silver salt and pepper shakers, crystal stem ware, soft all wool blankets and bed linens. Mother was in her seventh heaven. With some choice wedding presents that had survived the breakage of growing children, Mother could set a beautiful table.
Mother used to sew the strings of our sunbonnets together so we couldn't untie them; she didn't want our complexions to be burned by the hot 'Dixie' sun. She made us nice dresses and even the boys suits.
We were pretty healthy as a rule though we ran the gamut of children's diseases. I was a skinny kid and usually caught the diseases. I came home with scarlet fever and Father had to live away from home so he could go to the court house. After three weeks the quarantine was lifted, but we had to fumigate our house and clothing. We pasted strips of newspaper on all cracks in the windows and doors or any outlet. Quilts, blankets and clothing had to be hung on clotheslines cris-crossed about the rooms. Everyone had to be bathed in a germ killing solution and put on germ proofed clothing. The brunt of everything fell upon Mother as Father couldn't come home until this was all done.
Mother packed our lunch in "lard pails" and sent us to the black Ridge to find the cave she used to play in as a child. We were not to come home until sundown. We gathered flowers, but could not find the cave though we searched all day. A great deal of black rock had been used for building purposes so the cave must have been destroyed. Mother was sad that her cave was gone.
When the doors were opened our black cat burst out like a streak of lightening; however he was none the worse for his imprisonment. We could not sleep in the house that night, but the big problem was to wash all the paper and paste from the woodwork.
One time Lucy Hatch came to visit Mother; I saw their carriage at the gate and went into the house. They were in each others arms sobbing as if their hearts would break. The doctor had told Lucy that she was in the last stages of T.B. -- a deadly killer in those days. I slipped out to my hideaway under the pomegranate bushes and cried for both of them.
Tragedy was an unwelcome visitor in our home for a long time, it looked as if he had come to stay. One day I became very ill with typhoid fever. My sister Media caught it too, and here turned into pneumonia and she passed away. It was I terrible blow to Mother. She said, "I felt terrible when the twins were taken, but it was only a drop in the bucket compared to this." Media was fifteen years old; I felt I had caused her death and I was a long time getting over it.
Sixteen months after Media died the sunshine really went out of our home. Mother underwent an operation that could no longer be postponed. It was the second operation she had undergone to correct a condition that had happened when Henry was born with
only a midwife in attendance. Having no doctor to remedy the condition at the time, she had suffered all her life. She had a dreadful premonition about this operation, even now the thought of that day overwhelms me.
It took brave hearts in those days to undergo a major operation. No hospital -- a major operation performed on a kitchen table. The doctors left before she regained consciousness she began to hemorrhage internally. No telephone in the house. Only a
practical nurse in attendance. A quick dispatch for the doctors, but life's blood was ebbing away.
I can still hear my father's pleading for her not to leave him; the terrible unconscious struggle mirrored in her face. An eternity passed as I ran back and forth from her bedside to the street to see if the doctors were coming. At last the black, one-seated buggy turned the corner two blocks away, almost lying flat as it turned, but it righted itself and came on. The doctors jumped out of the buggy before the lathered horses could stop, but it was too late for Mother -- the struggle was over. For those left behind it was just begun.
We never could have made it if it had not been for Uncle Albert and Aunt Ida Foremaster's family, especially Mary; they were wonderful to us. God bless them!
Father was so wonderful, he never remarried he said. "No one would take on the responsibility of a large family. I could never find another like your mother." He sacrificed everything for us and gave us all an education. Surely the windows of heaven were opened and she was able to give him spiritual help. I am also sure we have all felt her presence in time of need. We have such an incident written in his own words:
'In the summer of 1911, my children were all stricken with diphtheria. Before antitoxin could be obtained, the disease proved fatal to my little eight year old boy, Albert. he was wrapped in a sheet and put in a pine box and hauled away to be buried without any funeral; in fact the man who took him away was the only one who dared to come near. My wife had passed away just one year previous, and now it looked as if the dread disease would wipe out my entire family. I had four others down at the time. I felt lonely and prayed to the lord that I might have a manifestation that her spirit was watching over me and my family. Almost immediately I seemed to be sitting in a chair with my children kneeling about me in prayer. I knew that the presence of my wife was there. She stood by my right side with one hand over me and the other raised to the square in an attitude of protection as if to ward off an unseen enemy. I was greatly comforted by this manifestation and no more of my children died."
My sources of information:
1) Mother's and Father's mission letters.
2) Father's mission diaries.
3) Small diary Father kept his second year at the Academy.
4) Things I heard Mother and Father say.
5)Things I, personally knew.
6) Father's history that his father started and my Father compiled.
Back to Top of Page
Back to Josephine's Page