"Do not be slothful lest you become a burden to yourself. Do not loiter about, lest the hours hang heavy on your hands through not knowing what to do. Do not let your days pass away like the shadow of a cloud which leaves behind it no trace for remembrance." (Dandemis)
A woman who had spent the greater portion of her life on the frontiers grappling with the problems incident to the gaining of a livelihood in a semi desert area far removed from centers of population, where even the bare necessities must be wrung from the bosom of Mother Nature and transformed by careworn hands into usable commodities, cannot be classed as one of the slothful ones. Under such conditions survival meant toil, persistent and unremitting toil.
Such were the environmental conditions under which Dora Martha Merton Hall spent the greater portion of her mortal existence. Hers was a busy, strenuous life as she worked to build a home for her husband and children in a small pioneer community in the West.
Dora Martha Merton Hall was born in Rockville, Kane County (later Washington County) Utah, at 8 o'clock one Tuesday evening on January 8, 1878. She was the youngest daughter of John Charles Hall and Kezia Degrey.
She tells her own story: I do not know that I had a very eventful childhood. I went to the field with my father and some of the older children. The most I could do was to be the "watch dog" as I called it. I tried to see that the cows would not get into the field while I was there and if they did, I would drive them out. The reason I remember this, I suppose, is because I was afraid of the cows, but I would get a big willow stick and try to make myself think I was not afraid. For one thing, I was taught obedience to my parents. Of course, father knew the cows would not hurt me or he would
not have had me do it. Our fence was poor and father was not able to rebuild, just patched it up as best he could.
One day while chasing a calf out of our lot, I was barefooted and the water had been standing in one place, so I mired down half way to my knees and cut my foot on a piece of buried glass. My foot bled terribly. Mother had quite a time stopping the bleeding and I had to lie with my foot up in the air to keep it from starting to bleed again. I still have a scar about two and one-half inches long on my foot.
I played mostly with my brother, Arthur, he was two years older than I. We would put tiny fences around grass plots and cut, dry, rake, pile and haul the hay into small barns. We would use an old worn out hand clothes wringer and pretend it was a molasses mill. We played marbles quite a lot but I seem to remember the "farming" best.
I went to school until I was eighteen, but our schools were not graded and I never had the privilege of attending high school, as the nearest one was at Beaver, about one hundred miles away. The teacher I had most of the time was James G. Duffin of Toquerville, Utah. I think my first teacher was Alice Hall (my sister) then Henrietta Cox Stout, Levi W. Harmon and when he could not teach because of illness or something else, his brother, Melvin Harmon, substituted for him. Others who taught me were James G. Duffin, William Bringhurst, and then Mr. Duffin taught me again for two years until he stopped teaching. Our class consisted of Alfred and Hosea Stout (cousins), my dearest chum and friend, Artemesia Cox and myself. There had been a large class of us but all had dropped out for one reason or another. Brother Duffin said that he would not be ashamed for us to attend any high school and state that he was our teacher. He was a splendid teacher. It has been my observation that we were about as far advanced in the studies we took as were high school graduates, but, of course, not in as many subjects.
I am thankful to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints for giving me the opportunity for service in the different auxiliary organizations. I always attended Primary and Sunday School if I was able to get there. While still young, I was secretary or assistant secretary in the Primary of Rockville under the presidency of Elizabeth Calkin Smith, we called her "Aunty". Later I was assistant secretary in the Sunday School and Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association. I was either secretary or assistant secretary several different times. At about the age of ten or eleven years I was called to be one of the organists in the Sunday School choir, which was organized by Hosea F. Stout, and continued from that time on for about forty five years in Rockville and Hurricane either as the organist or assistant organist in the ward choirs and other organizations. For a number of years I was the only one in Rockville Ward to play the organ, hence I went to every meeting where the organ was played.
I never had a regular music lesson in my life, but my older sister, Alice, would tell me the names of the notes and help me along in my study of music and father was very particular in teaching me time, which I got more thoroughly than the reading of the music. I never could read it rapidly, consequently, I had to learn each piece of music at home.
I was sustained president of the Y.W.M.I.A. while living at Rockville on October 20, 1900, and continued until we moved to Hurricane on March 26, 1907. 1 was class teacher in the Sunday School in Rockville and Hurricane for about twenty years. I was chosen as the 2nd counselor to President Mary Reed Workman (later, Hall) with Martha J. Hastings as 1st counselor when the Relief Society was organized in Hurricane. All three of us held these positions by request of the bishop for nineteen years. Then the new presidency requested me to be one of the theological class teachers, and also the assistant chorister. These two latter offices I still hold at this writing ... 1938. (She still held these offices at the time of her death in 1940.)
I am truly thankful for the privilege I have had for development in these organizations I have mentioned and also in the ward organizations of genealogy and later as a member of the Zion Park Stake Genealogical Society for several years. I want to tell here that the most real and satisfying pleasure I have ever had has come to me through service in my church duties and what little I have been able to do for others .....
At this point, my mother was unable to continue writing her history as she was suffering greatly from a cancer, which started in the right breast. This was removed but later it appeared under her right arm making writing difficult. It is gratifying to me that she ended her writings with a very modest statement of her pleasure in serving God and her fellow men. To me, as I look back, her two greatest attributes were her whole hearted devotion to her family and anyone who needed her help and the strongest testimony and unwavering faith which I have ever been privileged to witness. She not only taught but lived her testimony and the principles of the Gospel.
Dora's daughter, Erma, continues:
At the age of eleven years she was organist for the Sunday School, and continued as such for some organization or another most of the time until the last ten years of her life when her hands went still and numb, making it impossible for her to continue. She was a member of the Hurricane Ward Choir from the time it was organized until her death.
She did not have very good health, but she could always be depended upon to be in attendance at all her meetings if she was able to get there.
About nine months after the first families moved to Hurricane, the family moved from Rockville. They lived first in a one room 15 x 15 foot, house, dad always said there was not enough room for all.
In February, 1908, dad was hauling rock from the Hurricane hill, when he had a serious accident with the team and wagon which resulted in a broken collar bone, several ribs broken, a fractured skull, flesh torn loose from the corner of his eye (next to the nose) over the cheek bone and most of his face skinned. He caught one of the horses and arrived in town before meeting anyone (about a mile or one mile and a half). He insisted on being taken to Aunt Myra Lemmon's (mother's sister). The doctor came from St. George and fixed him up. He did not want mother to see him until he had been taken care of because only a few weeks later the doctor came back again and brought me into the world.
It was so crowded the night I was born that my brother, Myron, (then almost five years old) slept on the dresser. I was nine months old when we moved into the new house. They had straw padded carpets and when I was put on the floor I could not sit up. I had always been put on a bed as there was not any floor space in the "granery" as we later called it. Dad was away most of the winters working.
The Christmas eve before I was five years old, we were going to an entertainment. When we got to Grandma Workman's place about one half block away, I began to shake. Everyone thought I was cold so dad carried me. After my parents had given their part on the program they brought me home. I was quite ill and finally they had to take me to St. George and put me under Dr. Woodbury's care. Dad and mother expected to be away from home only about a week, but they did not get back until April. I was operated on for umpiema or pleurisy. The tube which was inserted under the third rib as a drain slipped inside and the doctor worked for one hour (by the clock) probing for it. Because I had a weak heart the doctor could use no anesthetic. When Dr. Woodbury finally found the tube he pinned a safety pin in the end of it to keep it from disappearing again. No matter how green and discolored the safety pin became, it had to be kept in the drain tube.
Mother was unable to lift her feet off the floor until my brother, Cyril, was born a few weeks later. Dad has often laughed about going around a strange town with a basket on his arm, gathering baby clothes because Cyril arrived sooner than expected. It was no wonder as mother had lost a baby about two years before and then she was so worried and anxious over my illness.
I remember we spent five or six summers on Kolob Mountain operating a sawmill, i.e., George Campbell, Richards Isom and dad. Their families went up when school was out. It was very pleasant, especially for us children. I know the adults went without great many comforts, but we children did not notice such things.
Now Eldwin, youngest son, continues: In the early 1920's mother's health seemed to be failing considerably. Dr. McGregor diagnosed her trouble to be goiter of the ingrown and poisonous type. Her heart was also quite weak and it was necessary for her to go to bed for some time to build up her condition before an operation could be performed. Her operation, I had been told, was one of the first ever performed successfully and was a great tribute to Dr. McGregor, who was one of the four doctor to hold his degree and rank in the United States. The operation was not without incident, however, as mother contracted a combination of either pneumonia, laryngitis, and bronchitis. It was impossible for her to swallow more than two or three drop of water at a time without struggling. I remember mother stating many times that she had only one spot in her left lung about the size of a silver dollar or a little larger in which she could breathe. The rest of the left and all of the right lung was "solid". I know that a great many prayers were uttered and endless attention given by Dad, Aunt Myra and Aunt Ann (mother's sisters) before mother received any relief in her condition. I do not remember how long the pneumonia persisted, but I do remember being told that mother was unable to speak aloud for forty days after the operation had been performed.
The treatment for her illness consisted of, among other things, rubbing her chest and back with Mentholatum. (I know that they used jar after jar of the $1.00 size which was much larger than it is today. After rubbing the Mentholatum on , pads made of several layers of flannel and heated by placing them on the top of hot stove until they had to be handled by pinching them by the edges with only the fingernails. The pads were immediately placed on the chest or back. Mother’s body was so filled with congestion that she was unable to feel the heat of the pads. Dad always joked that it was something which he said that cured her. I have felt that it was their undying love for each other that pulled her through and kept her faith strong. Some people thought dad's ability to joke with someone at the time of their illness was mean of him, but to know him was to know better than that. I have seen him many times "kid" mother and joke with her to raise her spirits when she was in great pain, then leave the room and breakdown and cry until like his heart would break. On this particular occasion he told mother that if she died he was going to take her straight to the ice plant and have her body frozen so no one could say that he had "stepped out" on her before she was cold. Dad always claimed that mother's condition improved from that moment.
The operation had one lasting effect in that it was rather difficult for mother to sing due to the strain on the voice box. She had to sing alto instead of soprano from that time forward, however her health did improve greatly. She suffered a great deal from Sciatica Rheumatism, which was so painful and sadden that it made her cry out in pain a few times, but I want to say that I never saw anyone in my life who could suffer so much pain and not make a sound.
In about 1928 or 1929, mother noticed that a small bump in her right breast had suddenly started to grow. Within two weeks after she noticed it, she had Dr. McGregor examined it. He told her that it was a tumor, but that only after its removal could he determine whether it was malignant or not. A few days later a cancer specialist, who was stalled in Toquerville due to car trouble, also examined it and gave her the same answer. So soon thereafter, Dr. McGregor operated and took off the right breast. He accomplished this feat with only a local anesthetic. It was the first time such an operation had been completed without having, to resort to ether. Mother was afraid of ether because of her previous experience, and even though the local completely wore off before the completion of the operation, she steadfastly refused to take ether. The doctor closed up the opening without the benefit of any anesthetic, which showed mother's "grit" and determination.
In 1932, on the 8th of October, I became very ill with what was then called Septic sore throat, which lasted about ten days. One morning when I awoke I opened my eyes, I thought, but it was about ten minutes before I could see. I had an acute case of Bright's Disease. Mother worked feverishly over me following the doctor's instructions to the letter. She gave me sweat baths until I, thought seventeen years old, could not get on my feet from the bath tub. I thought she was over doing her care of me, but I regained complete health, which is quite rare in cases of such severity. I mention this to show a great and honorable trait in mother. Not only could she suffer in silence in her own pain, but she would work herself to the limit to keep any one of her loved ones from suffering even a little. She was utterly unselfish.
During the depression both mother and dad expressed again their complete devotion to their family. Dad had very little work during several years except for a few cases of trading work, i.e., doing carpenter work for a painter who in return would paint our home. So during this time we operated the farm by ourselves as Cyril and I were old enough to help when we could. Dad was at home more during that time than any other time I can remember of in my life. Mother, consequently, had a closer companionship with her husband and family, and it made a closely-knit family group. We did not get to see Myron as often but we did see Erma often. I am sure that even though we did not have to much, it was one of the happiest periods in mother's life. She worked tirelessly, bottling fruit, sewing and mending, and though we were not the best dressed in town, we were always "well dressed". About the only income we had came from the two to four cows we milked. We sold the milk for 50 per quart and the customer usually got nearer a quart and one half. The customers were urged not to bring a quart bottle or bucket because extra measure could not be given. I recall that mother received a “dressing gown" for that trait of giving extra. She would churn the extra cream into butter, and in molding it into pounds she would barely cover the pound of butter. The storekeeper flatly stated that unless she cut the pounds of butter down to actual pound weight he would not take her butter. She felt rather hurt and asked the storekeeper why he should make such a fuss. He told her frankly that customers would come in and look over the supply on hand and if the wrapper did not say "Made by Dora Stout" they would go without until some of hers was brought in. As a result he had a demand for butter while he had stale butter in stock. He also mentioned the excellent quality of her butter, but said he had no complaint about that, just the size of the pound. She did cut down on the size carefully, but never did cut to an even pound.
During this period Dad's life insurance policy was paid in full and he withdrew what was left and put in a bathroom' and built new kitchen cabinets and sink, etc. This made work much easier for mother and she enjoyed the new improvements very much.
In 1935 1 left home and went to school at the University of Utah, I had gone to school at Dixie for two years, but I had been home most weekends, so this was the first time I had really been away from home any length of time. They had not been able to afford any of my college, but mother and dad would not hear of me leaving school. It was almost impossible to get work if you did not have either a family who could help or "connections". However, I was told that I could get enough work at the college to pay my tuition. So mother and dad arranged that I live with Myron and continue my studies. I know that they sent me every bit of money that they had over enough to pay the lights and water and incidentals, but they would not let me discontinue my schooling.
About this same time mother discovered a lump under her right arm. It was immediately examined and removed by local anesthetic. At first it was difficult to determine whether the operation had been successful in removing the entire infected area. It was not long before it became evident that it had spread beyond control. It began a strangulation of the circulation of the right arm and later went inside the body to the lungs and other vital organs. It seemed that the arm was the most painful area. By occasionally putting a lot of her weight on her elbow mother was able to relive the pain to a degree. Later mild derivatives of morphine and other narcotics were used to relieve the pain. Mother would permit the use of the morphine more for the anxiety of her family, especially dad, than for the relief she received. It was only for about one week or ten days that she was actually given morphine. During all this time she was given X ray treatments with the hope of deterring the growth of the cancer until a cure could be found.
Mother's undying service to others paid great dividends the last months of her life for most of the town volunteered to help in taking care of her and dad. Erma helped a great deal and Cyril was able to help, some but Myron and I were unable to help due to the fact that we lived so far away and we both had jobs. The neighbors and two nieces and dad stayed with her in turns. She suffered tremendously but never once did her faith ever waiver.
At her passing on July 1, 1940, a family lost, temporarily, a good and faithful wife and mother, one who had reared a family of fine sons and daughters and who had given teachings of faith by word and action. At her passing the community lost a willing and helpful servant. She will be remembered for her never ending service to friend and neighbor when ever she was needed.
The inscription on the monument which marks her resting place reads as follows: "Those whom we never cease to love we never lose." Mother has gone on ahead to again prepare, for her husband and family, a home.