Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Alfred Lorenzo Hall (1858-1934)
The first child born to John Charles Hall and Kezia DeGrey was a son who was blessed and given the name of Alfred Lorenzo. He was born in Sugar House Ward, Salt Lake City, Utah on November 15, 1858. He was born about one year after his parents had reached Utah and they were still quite destitute for food and clothing. Their arrival had been in the fall and they had been without any finances, so the progress, materially, was slow.
At the time of Alfred's birth, the family was without bread, so just three days after his arrival, his mother was found, sitting up in bed, making a dress for a neighbor in exchange for some flour. Under such privations, his childhood was anything but exciting and expensive.
Three years later, the parents, in answer to a call for volunteers to go to the Dixie Cotton Mission, moved to Rockville in Southern Utah, about 330 miles from Salt Lake City, with the hopes of doing better, financially, while doing the Lord's work.
Most of the saints who chose to go to Dixie were of the sturdy type, who loved adventure and freedom, who were industrious and who never knew defeat. Under such environmental conditions, the children of Dixie experienced much the same hardships as their parents, but they lived to see fruits of their labors. Building roads and homes, farming, freighting, and stock raising were some of the occupations they followed.
Alfred's father was not adapted to farming. His life in England had been patterned to that of a gentlemen and scholar, so he experienced many hardships and disappointments. Irrigation of the barren land was still in its infancy. It had been started by the Church, under the leadership of Brigham Young, only after the arrival of the first Saints in 1847.
There were steep side hills along which the irrigation ditches had to be built, then breakwaters and dams had to be fashioned before the water would run into the ditches. Floods, a frequent menace to the settlers in the spring of the year, washed out the dams and filled the ditches with mud and rocks, just at the season when the crops most needed the water.
For plowing the land in preparation for seed planting, a wooded beamed plow and an oxen team were used. Horses were very scarce in the early days in Dixie, so the work was slow and tiresome. Wagons were not made of steel and hardwood as they are made now, consequently, it was necessary to soak the wheels at every stream of water whenever on a trip.
After the crops were harvested in the fall and molasses was made, the next event of the season was to travel north through the state "peddling", as it was called, which meant trading molasses, dried fruit, and other products; for flour, potatoes, and other commodities not successfully grown in Dixie.
Much of their clothing was made by the skillful hands of the womenfolk. The cotton was harvested, then spun, woven, and dyed; ready for the process of making it into clothing. Dyes were made from certain wild and domestic plant roots. The Saints of necessity became very accomplished in making the necessities of life from the materials furnished by the generous hand of Mother Nature.
Alfred never had a pair of shoes to wear until he was fourteen years of age and then they were "homemade". For many years money, either currency or silver, was extremely scarce. What money the Saints did manage to have was used in the purchase of such clothing as could not be made from leather or home grown, homespun cotton, and wool. The shoes Alfred wore until he was nearly a grown young man were all made by his father from the home-tanned hide of the old ox which had died or been killed for beef.
Times were so busy and every man, woman, and child of age was required to work in the fields during planting and harvesting season. Then there were always daily chores around the home and the corral, so the young boys and girls had little time for actual playground activities. So many times, Alfred and other boys of his age had their fun while herding cows on the ditch banks or river bottom.
It was not uncommon at such times for a band of little Piute Indian boys to come swarming out of the nearby wigwams to play with them. As the play of children often follows in miniature the serious activities of their elders, this play usually turned into a sham battle between the Whites and the Reds. The ammunition consisted of a ball of stiff, well-mixed mud. The machinery was a willow stock about the length of the boy. The battle lines were drawn, each army taking refuge behind a convenient shelter of trees, rocks, or the ditch bank. All was quiet until a small warrior poked his head above his shelter, looking for a victim. He was observed by an opponent, who fixed a mud ball to the end of his stick, stepped quickly into the open, gave a quick swing and a jerk and "spat" the victim who received a neat spot of mud on his body. Immediately the assailant became the target for half a dozen of his enemies, who as they stepped from their concealment ready to aim, also became targets. The Indians had the advantage as to agility and accuracy, but they suffered because of being unclad.
Because Alfred was small and thin, most everyone called him "Skinny". At the age of twenty-one he weighed only a little over 100 pounds. Though he was skinny and unimpressive in appearance, he had amazing strength. What he lacked in size he more then made up in aggressiveness. No problem looked too large to him and he usually won his battles through his determined resoluteness.
Alfred did not attend school except for about three months, all total, so his education came more from the school experience. His aim in life was to lead a practical and well-balanced life, both spiritually and temporally. He never learned to write more than his name and did not do much reading until after he was sixty-nine years old. Then he spent much of his time studying the Gospel until his death.
The parents of Alfred were very strict in their discipline and teaching of their children. However, Alfred had his own ideas and he did not forget them easily. He was always faithful in most of the fundamental principles of the Gospel as taught him at home, although there is some evidence that he sought his pleasures without the counsel of his parents. For instance, at the age of eighteen years he went to Salt Lake City in the company of Tom Reeve, an eighteen year-old boy from Virgin. By way of acting smart both boys started smoking. His parents were greatly displeased but were never able to induce him to drop the habit. He smoked for thirty-six years then quit after he was married.
Alfred's father raised tobacco for a number of years. He had his hot beds for the tobacco plants on the south slope of a small incline. John C. never smoked, however, and never allowed his sons to acquire the habit, so he was much distressed when Alfred started smoking.
Alfred was shy and awkward in public, especially in the presence of ladies, so when he started courting Julia Hanson, who was a very popular girl, the entire village was surprised. Perhaps even he himself was a bit amazed. So sometime later he and Julia traveled to St. George from Rockville by wagon, taking two or three days to complete the journey down and back, and were married in the Temple on January 18th. They started on their married life with three cows, two horses, and a small farm. During the first fifteen years they lived in several homes and owned several farms. He felt he could take a very poor start and by applying a great deal of hard labor, make a good thing of it. In later years, he changed his mind in this respect. He placed his work where it showed most results in later life.
In working his farms, he gave his sons plenty of work and responsibility. His sons learned, while yet young in years, how to make do. In 1893, two of his sons, Roy and Merrill, were given the task of herding the sheep. In the words of one son, Vern, in speaking of his father, we see Alfred's plans for his family, "Mother always worried about the work the little fellows had to do, but don't think she said much about it. Dad's aim was to furnish plenty of work for his boys, put them at it and see that it was done. I don't think he ever really dreamed of being wealthy, but he surely had a clean reverence for hard work."
Stock raising was always a source of income to Alfred and his family. In 1896, there was a severe drought. Many of the watering holes dried up and thousands of head of cattle died for want of water. Alfred, at the time, was working for Mr. Kingsbury, foreman of the Cattle Company at Short Creek and Caana [sp?]. Mr. Kingsbury told him to take all the orphan calves of which he could take care. He took about forty calves and in this way started his own cattle business.
In 1902 he bought the Crystal Spring Ranch on Kolob Mountain, where he moved during the summer because of his wife's health. They lived there each summer for eleven years until 1912 when the ranch and cattle were sold. He and his sons farmed and raised their stock. The family also did some dairying, some years they had as many as twenty-five to thirty cows. They made enough butter and cheese in the summer to last during the winter months, besides selling quite a supply to neighbors on Kolob.
He raised wheat and oats, which were harvested by a cradle and bound by hand. It was hauled in and thrashed, usually without stacking it beforehand. The grain was thrashed out by having their horses trample over it on the ground. The chaff and grain were then run through a fanning mill which cleaned the chaff from the grain. Sometimes Alfred and his sons could thrash out 100 bushels per day.
Soon after dreams of getting Virgin River water onto the fertile but barren mesa of the Hurricane Valley began to take shape, Alfred knew he wanted to help in the project. He was one of the faithful supporters of the vast program. Unlike many of the old settlers in Rockville, he had to be busy at something during the long winter months. He would not content himself to just sitting in front of the store down on Main Street, whittling sticks and talking. He was a man of action rather than words and the records concerning the Hurricane Canal show that he was one of the largest contributors to the project in actual labor performed during its construction.
So many of the farms in and around Rockville were washed away by the unpredictable Virgin River, so when the canal, one of the largest irrigation projects ever undertaken in Southern Utah, was started, it was intended that the rich soil of the Hurricane Bench could be irrigated, safe from the floods of the Rio Virgin.
Alfred and his boys spent twelve long hard winters on the canal work. He had no regrets, however, and considered it one of his greatest accomplishments. He was superintendent during six years of the construction of the canal.
The canal was started in the year of 1892 by a company of about seventy-five men from surrounding towns of Rockville, Grafton, Springdale, Virgin, and Toquerville. Before the completion, however, about two-thirds of the original number had dropped out. The few who were left and who remained to the finish, faced many setbacks and discouragement, but were rewarded by the completion of six miles of canal, which started at the Hurricane dam site and reached to the Hurricane bench.
When the canal was nearly finished it seemed doomed to failure, but a delegation (James Jepson and Jim Ballard were two of the group) was sent to the Church headquarters to get financial aid. The church purchased $5,000 worth of stock, and with renewed faith and hopes the workers labored more diligently. Then soon families began to move into the valley and started building. It was a joyous occasion for those faithful workers when the first soil was plowed, planted, and irrigated.
In 1910, Alfred sold his property in Rockville and moved his family to Hurricane. Besides his farm in the valley, he took up a homestead about twelve miles east of Hurricane, where he began to dry farm. He was not backward nor hesitant in accepting new trends in progress. He bought farm machinery to suit his purposes. He owned one of the few cars in Hurricane when in 1917 he bought a new Ford.
His aggressiveness made him the leader in promoting the Hurricane State Bank. Arnold Dixon, cousin to Alfred, had the original idea and the two of them succeeded in stirring the interest of Dave Hirschl, who was the logical man to head the bank, because of his shrewd business ability and keen foresight. They were successful in their endeavor and Alfred was a director from the time the bank was organized in 1917 until 1933, and was the largest stockholder until just prior to his death.
Alfred had been reared in a fine religious home and he strove to give his own children the same teachings and discipline as he had received. Each Sunday was observed in attentive reverence by the entire family. All the children went to Sunday School and everyone went to the evening services whenever possible. The conduct of the children was closely watched and any problems of discipline which arose in church (there were not many) were thoroughly handled at home.
In the home, both Alfred and his wife set up a fine procedure. There was always something good to read and not only were the children encouraged to read it, but their mother always found time to read to her children. All of the children read The Book of Mormon and at the completion of it, each child was presented with one. Everyone enjoyed the quiet evenings at home, listening to their mother read, even Alfred welcomed this period of relaxation after a hard working day.
Family prayers, both night and morning, brought the family together and each child was given his turn in offering thanks. The parents tried to lead their children by living good clean examples. Their home was always a welcome haven to those in need. Alfred and Julia willingly assisted others even when they were having a difficult time during the beginning of their married life. In 1893, Sam and Caroline Larson lived with the Hall family, while their father was on a mission. Later, Mary Dalton, an orphan, lived there two or three years and Della Wright lived with them for eight years. On these occasions, their own family was at its largest number, but they never complained.
Alfred's health began to fail. He suffered a severe attack of sciatic rheumatism, then one type of sickness bothered him until October, 1930, [when] he was bedridden with a stroke. Dan Crawford was called in to administer to him. He was blessed and given a promise that he would get well and perform a great work. He was well enough that within one week's time he and his wife were continuing their temple work with more fervor. They started going to the temple regularly in about 1927 and then after his stroke they continued to make their twice weekly trips to St. George Temple for four years, regardless of the kind of weather.
On January 4, 1934, Alfred passed away after a very eventful and full life of hard work and service to family and neighbors. He was blessed with a loving and faithful companion and ten fine sons and daughters. Alfred Lorenzo, Jr., born on April 1, 1883, died February 18, 1886; Lester Leroy, born February 25, 1885, died April 29, 1908, in Lexington, Kentucky, while fulfilling a mission in the southern states; Charles Merrill, born January 25, 1887; Lafayette, born December 31, 1888; Alvin, born on October 17, 1890; John Harvey, born on February 16, 1893; Hilda, born April 21, 1895; Clinton, born September 23, 1897; Henry Vernon, born on April 4, 1900; and Nora Crystal, born on August 5, 1903. Four of the children (Leroy, Lafayette, Harvey and Hilda) filled missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. All of the children were married in the temple.
Alfred lived a good, religious life, He observed the Sabbath, paid a full tithing and contributed whenever asked and held the highest Priesthood. He, to the best of his ability and knowledge, had done a good work and he seemed ready to die when the end came. He set up a useful plan for his life and then lived up to that plan and offered no excuses.