Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jesse Newton Lemmon (1871-1956) Biography

Jesse N. Lemmon was born April 2, 1871 at Parowan, Iron County, Utah. At the time of his birth, the family consisted of his father, Alumbee Lemmon, who was 48 at the time; his mother, Lydia Ann Applegate Lemmon, who was 41; A brother, Isaac, then 18; Mary Alice, then 15, and Frances Marian, then 6. There were three other children who had died in infancy or early childhood, Alfred, Minnie Jane, and Alumbee James.

Jesse was the youngest child, with his brothers and sisters being practically grown when he was born. The family had much the same background as most pioneer settlers of Southern Utah. The Lemmons were of Scotch Irish Protestant ancestry. They first came to America from Scotland via Ireland and settled with others of the same persausion, in North Carolina. Jesse's grandfather, John Lemmon, Sr. was the first Lemmon to join the church, in 1831. His father and Grandfather, with their families went through all the trials and persecutions of the Saints in Missouri and Illinois. With the march of the Church westward, the Lemmons followed also, and eventually made their home in Southern Utah.

Jesse's Uncle, James Lemmon, had settled at Northop, a settlement between Rockville and Springdale, Utah. Jesse's young days were spent at various times in Parowan, Rockville and other towns in the surrounding area. Jesse says that he can remember being baptized in the Virgin River by his Uncle James, when he was eight years of age.

Jesse's father, Alumbee, was a carpenter and builder, and of necessity followed jobs from one place to another. One of the most vivid memories of Jesse's younger days are the years spent in Silver Reef, Utah, where his father had a carpenter shop and was the town undertaker.

In his early young manhood Jess and his mother lived at Rockville. It was here he met and married Myra Hall, and here he made many close friendships which have endured over a long lifetime.

Jess and Myra were married January 24, 1891 in Rockville, Utah, the ceremony being performed by Joseph A. Smith, then Bishop's counselor, in the home of Myra's brother, John Hall. The marriage took place at noon, with the dinner all ready and table set, and the bride and groom with their friends then celebrated by having a feast together with their friends and relatives. Jess says that he invited only one special guest, Jim Jennings, who was his best friend and confidante. Jim brought to the wedding as a gift a set of tea cups and saucers.

Their courtship was much the usual one of the times, with the young people meeting at dances and church programs, etc. Jess was always full of fun and delighted in playing pranks on his friends and acquaintances. He was well known for his quick wit and humor, his songs, and efforts to entertain and amuse people. I

Shortly after his marriage Jess went out to Cane Beds, on the Arizona Strip, to work for Benjamin F. Saunders, a cattleman. Saunders had come out west from Missouri and brought up the herds around Pipe Spring and Cane Beds. He brought in the first Whiteface Hereford bulls to this country in 1896. Jess worked as a cook for the cowpunchers, who rode for Saunders in handling this big herd.

This job was the beginning of many for Jess who like his father, traveled many places on various jobs he was able to get in order to provide for his little family. The first year after their marriage, Myra gave birth to a girl, Elvia, who lived only four days, Another girl, Eldona, born in 1893, lived about 18 months. A boy, Claude, born in 1895 lived about eleven months.

During these years Myra and Jess lived at Rockville mostly, but did make trips or moved to various places when jobs 'would take Jess elsewhere. One of these moves was to Monroe, Utah where Eldona was born. Another time, around 1908, they moved to Pocatello, Idaho. They had three more children by this time, all born at Rockville. Maude, born January 8, 1898; Arnold DeGrey, born January 10, 1900; and Ferra Alumbee, born November 29, 1901. By May of 1905 they had moved back to Rockville, where Frank Eldon was born, May 12, 1905.

Jess followed two types of work in his life, one the work out on the range as cook and cowhand for the various owners of herds in the area. The other was carpenter and builder, the same as his father. He helped build homes in Kanarraville and Parowan. Built the Toquerville school house, and like other settlers of Hurricane worked on the Hurricane Ditch and Canal, and helped build many of the homes in Hurricane, including his own. As history records, the Hurricane Ditch was contracted to various groups of men to do certain sections of it. Jess and Joseph "Dode" Petty were given the job of putting the ditch through part of a particularly rocky section known as "China Town." An old tramp named Jake Miller also worked there that winter. Thus, the ditch was worked on in winter, and in the summer Jess would go away on other jobs to earn enough to see the family thru' another year. He went to Long Valley one summer and earned enough to obtain and cut the lumber for a house in Hurricane. He built one room and brought his family down to live at Hurricane.
During the day he worked on other people's houses, and would then go home at night and work on his own place by lamplight.

He was always anxious to have the best for his family, and early tried to furnish the house with what conveniences were available at that time. He built a cistern for water for culinary use, as it was necessary to haul water in barrels from the river for such purposes.

By 1915 the family was pretty well settled at Hurricane. On the 23 of May, 1915 their last child, Norene, was born. Jesse then was helping to build a shearing corral at Gould's Ranch, the largest such corral in the world. Jess was in charge, of the corrals for 9 years with 2 wranglers and 2 wool jammers working under him. At one time, he made $2400 in thirty days, by catching strays and keeping them penned up, waiting for the owner to call for them. When the shearing was finished he had quite a few owners from Cedar and Kanarra who had not claimed these strays, so he had them
sheared and sold the wool.

Jess made many of his trips away from home in connection with the marketing of cattle from the big herds in the area. This was generally done through buyers contracting to market them. The stock was driven to the nearest railroad station, it generally being Modena, or Lund. The stockmen would put their marketing cattle together and drive them in large herds. Often with as many as five hundred to one thousand in a herd. This became quite an art with some of our cowmen, as it required good organization to handle it properly. After the cattle were delivered to the railroad, it was generally necessary for some of the men to go along to the unloading destination. Many of them did not like to go that far away from home, but Jess was always willing to volunteer to go on these trips. Thus, he went with many trainloads of cattle into Nebraska and Missouri and other marketing points in the country.

As the cattle and sheep business began to die out, due to lack of range, etc. Jess turned to other jobs. Automobiles were beginning to come into the country, and he bought one of the first ones in Hurricane. This could be obtained on a business transaction from Wilts Imlay. By this time, his boys were grown, and he and the two younger ones made a trip to California, via Nevada. They worked for a time in the mines at Ruth, Nevada, and then continued on to Los Angeles. The boys obtained work and eventually remained there for several years. Jess stayed awhile and finally returned home,
where Myra had remained with Noreene. Arnold, his oldest boy had married a girl from St. George, Sarah Worthen. Maude, the oldest, was on a mission in the Eastern States. Soon Arnold's boys were added to the family circle. Jess found that on getting older it was harder to obtain jobs, and the hard work was beginning to take its toil. He did work for various road contractors, in building up the roads in this area, since the adventure of the automobile had brought on a demand for good roads. The work was done then with teams, and not with the machinery which is used in modern
roads building today.

As his days of hard working came to a close, the boys began to follow in his footsteps. Arnold and Elden became excellent patrol or grader operators, helping to build up the fine roads which we have in the country today. Ferra became a skilled mechanic, working on the machinery which has been developed since Jess' early working days. Eventually, the whole family except for the youngest, Norene, had established homes in Hurricane. For the past several years Jess has had to be content with the reports of adventures, travels, and exploits of his sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters.

The last big event in his life, during the past year, has been the loss of his sight, due to cataracts. This was a great loss, as he had wanted to spend his time visiting about town with his various friends and acquaintances, and the loss of his sight compelled him to remain practically bound to his chair. A few months ago, however, he was operated on by Dr. Aiken, of Kanab, and his sight restored. The resulting change in his mental outlook and cheerfulness, has been phenomenal. He now looks forward to many more years of interest in what the future may bring forth. (June 1951)

NOTE: June, 1952. Since the above sketch of the life of Jess M. Lemmon was written he has also suffered the great loss of his life companion, Myra Wall Lemmon, who passed away at their home September 4, 1951. He is now living with his oldest daughter, Maude Lemmon Naegle, in Hurricane.


Anonymous said...

Jesse is my grandfather, I had no idea about some of these details. Thank you

Anonymous said...

I am not related to the Lemmons, but was looking for info. on Alfred Lorenzo Hall...only to find out I was off a generation. Interesting that they were married at the house of John Hall. He was my great-great-grandfather.
I have admired your web site in the past and always find the stories fun to read.

I'm working on my mother's book about the pioneers of Hurricane, Ut and her growing up there in its infancy.
Merridy in Maine

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