Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Alonzo Dalton (1867-1925)

Alonzo Dalton was born at Virgin, Utah, November 14, 1867, the fourth child of John Dalton and Mary Ann Gardiol. At the time of his birth the Indians were still quite unfriendly and resentful toward the early Mormon settlers and at times went on the rampage against the pioneers. Because of the uncertainty of the times and fear for their lives and the lives of their children, John and Mary Ann lived in the fort at Virgin. Alonzo was born while the family was living in the fort.

Alonzo, being only a baby and young child, little realized the fear and anxiety experienced by his parents at the times the Indians ravaged and burned in their efforts to drive the white man out of what they considered their territory. So his young life was more or less sheltered and protected from such experiences.

His father owned a farm at Dalton's Wash, a few miles east from Virgin. The wash had been named for this father, John Dalton. Here the young Dalton boys loved to romp and play in the newly plowed ground and help their father in any possible way that little boys could assist.

Later his parents moved the family to Zion Canyon where his father, John, owned some property in the lower part of the canyon. Alonzo, at this time was older, and soon accepted his share of the family responsibilities. The children born to those sturdy energetic pioneers were of vigorous stock and had to learn to do the work of their elders while yet quite young. It was a fight for survival and existence and all hands were needed to build and harvest for the desperate times in winter.

Alonzo was just a young boy when he first started to ride their old white oxen to help his father and older brothers cultivate the corn, which was planted in Zion Canyon.

On one occasion, Alonzo went with his mother and elder brothers in a wagon to Rockville for supplies. On their return to their home in Zion, they stopped at Crank, a small settlement between Springdale and Northrup, to water their horses. When they had stopped they noticed a Mountain Lion standing a short distance away, intently watching them. Frightened as they were, Alonzo and his brother moved slowly and cautiously as they unhitched their horses from the wagon and led them down to the stream to drink. They knew that they must not make any suspicious or unnecessary motions, so the lion would not be excited to attack them. The lion seemed unconcerned and eventually moved silently off into the trees and undergrowth. There were many wild animals in evidence in the hills and mountains near the pioneer settlements and communities, and much caution had to be exercised by those who traveled alone between the small towns or rode the range with their flocks and herds.

The Dalton family moved to Rockville when the older children were of school age. Alonzo attended school until he reached about the fourth grade. The schoolhouse was a small adobe building, insufficient in size to accommodate all the children, as it should. There were no separate rooms to house the different grades so all the children, regardless of age, were congregated in one large room. There was much confusion as the teachers, in their effort to teach the children, tried to still the young voices during school hours. Books for the school were scarce so that most of the children were unable to advance only through the first few grades. The children who were naturally more talented and alert in certain school studies were handicapped as were those who had a tendency to be a trifle slow in learning because of being grouped together in one large classroom.

Alonzo was one of those unfortunate children who was deprived of complete schooling. His advanced knowledge was acquired through practical experience. He showed brilliant talent in arithmetic during his short school term. In later years, with out further training, he became very efficient in blue print reading as he worked at the trade of a carpenter.

Alonzo's father was about fifty six years old when he married Mary Ann Gardiol, so he was on old man when his children were growing up. Alonzo was compelled to leave school to help his mother with the farm work, as his father was to old to carry on efficiently with the extremely hard pioneer life. Because of this reason beside the lack of sufficient advanced tests, Alonzo was denied that early training and the joy and happiness which comes to children during their school days. There was not a great deal of time left over after the chores were finished for marbles, basketball and baseball or any of the other traditional school sports and activities.

While his father rode the range, Alonzo remained at home to take care of his mother and the farm. Alonzo, with some of his best pals, Bob Slaughter, Dave Terry and Jesse Lemmon, managed to invent their share of mischief and nuisance. One of their favorite games was "Fox and Geese". He also lived with his half brother, Edward, who lived in Parowan. To be allowed to go away from home alone was quite an experience for him. Edward was the son of the first wife of John Dalton and Alonzo was the son through the last wife, so Edward was old enough to be his own father.

As Alonzo grew older he began to show his musical talent. He was a beautiful whistler, and in later years after he had married, he and his wife would whistle and sing in duet. He owned the first guitar in Rockville and learned to play both the guitar and the organ without any instruction. He always played at the dances held in the community, either the quitar or the organ. He loved music and he thoroughly enjoyed playing and singing.

When he was twenty two years old, Alonzo approached the girl of his dreams and asked her to be his bride. She said "Yes", so on September 17, 1888, he and Adelia were married in Rockville. It was a happy day for them both. Adelia, pretty as a picture in her new dress, saved for this special occasion and Alonzo, handsome in his new trousers and boots. They had known each other from childhood and had spent many happy times together.

They made their home in Rockville and their first child was born December 12, 1889. The son was blessed and named Edwin. Two, more sons were born to the young couple, and then a daughter came, namely: Harvey, born on November 2, 1891; Calvin,born on December 6, 1893, and Marguerite, born on January 11, 1895.

Rockville was still much of a pioneer community. Work was both hard and inconvenient in the home and in the field, even though the Saints were beginning to feel the affects of the outside world in certain respects, especially in dress and travel. Utah did not long remain a territory in the wilderness. The gold rush in California brought money and travelers into Salt Lake City. The; building of the railroad meant progress, economically, but it also brought vice and temptation to the valiant pioneers.

Even in far away Rockville, the Saints were being tried. To many, the grass seemed greener on the other side of the fence. Many problems came to the parents even in the most remote communities. It took a heap of righteous living to overcome the problems.

Alonzo and his family were of the faithful who spurned the call to brighter land marks where they might gain material wealth. They had volunteered through their parents to develop and build and if possible, gain their wealth through honest, hard work. Rockville became a haven for such plans and dreams.

Alonzo and his father continued to farm together at Rockville. He also worked as a carpenter and helped build many of the new homes and barns there. He also became skilled in making molasses barrels and staves. The barrels were made of pine lumber brought down from Zion ledges. The boards were carefully planned, tongue and grooved by hand then bound by thongs of black willow. They measured about eighteen inches in diameter at the bottom and fifteen inches at the top and stood two to three feet high. At completion, the barrels were charred inside to prevent the molasses or whatever else was to be stored in them from tasting of pitch.

Later he worked in the northern part of the state on the telephone lines, being installed throughout the state.

Several times Alonzo took his family and went to Hinckley to live. He was suffering with Bright's Disease and had been told that the water at Deseret would be good for him. Their fifth child, a son, Orin, was born on May 8, 1898 during one of the stays at Hinckley.

Two more children were born to Alonzo and Adelia while they were living at Rockville. LeVern, born on August 7, 1900 and Lucien, born on January 21, 1903, but who died in infancy. The eighth child Lyndon, was born on April 8, 1905 while the family was on its way to Long Valley. Before Alonzo and Adelia reached their destination the tiny son arrived and was born unattended at Kanebeds, Utah. The baby was sick from birth and never was very strong even to his death six years later after the family was living in Hurricane.

Soon after their daughter, LaVern, was born in 1900, Alonzo borrowed John Terry's old white top buggy and took Adelia to St. George where they were sealed in the temple.

There were many happy occasions at the Dalton home. Mother and father loved to perform together and the children, both theirs and the neighbor's children, enjoyed the musical interludes. Sundays were rare occasions for them, especially during the summer, as there were always baskets of cantaloupes and watermelons for everyone to eat.

In 1907, Alonzo moved his family to Hurricane, where new and young blood was needed to build and develop the settlement. He and his wife were happy at the prospects of a new home and busied themselves with plans for the future.

However, their happiness was short lived. Nineteen days after their daughter, Adelia Arvilla, was born, January 11, 1908, Adelia died. She was the first one to be buried in the new Hurricane Cemetery. Prior to her confinement with her baby, Adelia had an operation for cancer. It apparently was unsuccessful in that the entire infection had not been removed. Her death brought much sorrow to the family and friends, as she was but a young woman, and she left a young family. She and Alonzo had plans for a new home, but the building of it had not been started. Alonzo did finish the home later.

He did a great deal of carpenter work in Hurricane. He helped build nearly all the buildings there. He was working on the first school house to be built there at the time of his wife's death. Adelia urged him to continue with his work so that children would soon have a building in which to attend school.

With the passing of his young wife, all the sunshine seemed to go out of his life. He never sang again after her death. He was always sad; no one could get him to entertain with his music again. He had had so many plans for his wife and children, so without her he could not adjust himself to a life alone. His children were the only threads from the past. He worked hard trying to be both a father and mother to them. His one desire was to keep them together and teach them as he thought Adelia would have. It was hard for him to continue with his work and mind the tiny children. Kind friends assisted by caring for the tiny baby, but he would take the little sick boy, Lyndon, with him on the job and care for him as best he could until school hours were over when the older children would take him. In the home, he disciplined his children with patience and love. They performed their chores without murmur, because they seemed to understand their father's feelings.

He worked hard and tirelessly in effort to sustain his family. One son, Calvin was kept in school for quite a long time. Another son, Harvey, was sent to the Southern States Mission, and another, Edwin, went to the Eastern States Mission. Both made their father proud by the work they did while laboring as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.

Alonzo was very religious and had been quite active in the Church while living in Rockville. Then after the death of his wife, he did attend church services but was never active again. He lived a good life and taught his children the fundamental principles of the Gospel.

After his children were all grown and able to take care of themselves, Alonzo married the second time. He married a widow with three children by the name of Becky McConnel. He realized his mistake soon after they were married. He tried to make a success of it and was always good to his wife, but soon had the marriage annulled.

He then lived alone except for his youngest daughter, Arva, who was still quite young. He sold the big home (now the Hirschi home) and bought another home up the lane from the first home. He had plans to build again but never fulfilled his plans. He did not seem to have the heart to build without his companion.

When Arva was seventeen years old, he became ill and was afflicted most of the winter. He was never sick enough to go to bed; his body just seemed to be worn out. During his life he had not been ill very much and at the time of his death he had all of his teeth except one. He thought he was just coming down with the flu, so did not worry much, but it developed into pleurisy pneumonia. He died within four days on January 25, 1925.

He will long be remembered by his descendants for the good man he was. He was highly respected and esteemed by all who knew him. Those who had business dealings with him knew him to be an honest man and a "square shooter". Even though his measure as a father by rearing a family of fine sons and daughters. He passed away after a job "well done".

2 comments:

Darwin said...

I loved reading about my great-grandfather, Alonzo Dalton, and my grandfather, Harvey Dalton. I really appreciate your hard work in collecting, compiling, and posting these histories. I am wondering where you got your information, as I would love to have copies of everything available. Darwin Gifford...email me at gifford@dixie.edu. Thanks!

The Farmer said...

Very interesting and well written. My family owns a farm in the Dalton Wash and we are still growing those wonderful dryland watermelons.

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