Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Julia Elzina Hanson Hall (1860-1935) Autobiography

A sketch of the life of Julia Hansen Hall
Written by herself in 1934

I was born near Glenwood, Mills County, Iowa on January 28, 1860. The following year I came to Utah with my mother, brothers, and sisters in the David H. Cannon company.

An older brother, William Crawford (son of my mother by a former husband), a young man then of about 18 years, shared the responsibility of bringing the family across the plains with our team.

My father, Nils Hansen, having left the Mormon church, went to California, taking with him a brother, Andrew Jackson (A. J.), a boy of 10 years which nearly broke my mothers heart. She never heard from him again until he was grown. He came to visit mother and the rest of us in Rockville in the year 1879, after he was married and had a little daughter 10 months old. He was very anxious to take me to California with him where he would give me a good education, but I declined as I thought too much of mother and my religion. In fact, it caused me to think more of my religion than I had ever done before. I have never seen him since, now a period of 53 years when I am 74 and he is nearly 84. His daughter, with her husband, professor Etchavarry, called on me recently, however a fine appearing woman of 54 years.

On arriving in Utah, we settled in Draper, Salt Lake County. My mother's family consisted at that time of brothers William, Sister Amy, Brother Lafayette, sisters Sarah and Hannah, and myself. Brother Lafay died in Draper at age eight years. The rest all came to Dixie and shared in the hardships of pioneer life. In due time they were all married. William married Cornelia Gifford, to whom a large family of sons and daughters were born. He was honest and upright no better man ever lived.

Amy married Almond Draper. She was the one most like father. A hard worker and good manager. She had nine children. She died in Springdale of pneu¬monia when quite young.

Sarah, our peace loving, patient sister, married Alpheus Gifford. She had a large family of children, reared in poverty. Her husband died quite early in life. She lived a widow for years and years, then she moved to Delta and after her children were all married, she married Nelson Terry, when she was 71 years old. They were very happy together. Her last days were her best days. She also died of pneumonia. ¬

Hannah, the sister with the congenial, affectionate disposition, made friends of everyone. To know her was to love her. Her friends were numbered by her acquaintances, which were many. She married Cyrus Jennings and, like the rest, had a large family of children. They moved to Arizona where she died after a number of years. Her husband also died a few years later.

And last, I was the scrapper of the family. If anyone tried to impose on me, they had a fight on their hands right now but I overcame that as I grew older. The first thing in my life that I remember was when I was about three years old. There was a log lying in the yard. I would climb on it with difficulty, raise my hands as far above my head as I could reach and say, "I’m as big as anybody and I suppose I kept on thinking that until I was older and got some of the conceit taken out of me. However, I still think I have as much right on the earth as anyone else be they rich or poor. This is a characteristic that has gone with me through life. My slogan has always been to speak the best you can and never repeat gossip.

I was the youngest of a family of seven children; never very strong or robust. I was naturally spoiled as the youngest usually are but my mother was very firm with us that we be strictly honest and truthful. We would be punished for telling a lie quicker than for almost any other offense. We were also taught the principles of tithing, which she carried out to the letter.

The chances for education were very meager in those days, but the people did the best they could under the circumstances. Sometimes teachers were employed who knew but very little more than the children. Schools were not free or compulsory in those days. Parents would be required to pay about $3.00 per quarter (12 weeks), two quarters would usually be held. Although in poverty mother would manage to send us to school each winter. Our school¬ing did not amount to much however, until I was about 18 years of age and my sisters were all married. When David Stout married and brought Henreitta Cox of St. George to Rockville then we had a real teacher. All that I ever learned in school was due to her wonderful ability. I always loved school, would be glad in the fall when it began and sorry in the spring when it closed. I kept on going to school until the winter I was 22, when I was married and a school of a different nature began that of helping to make a home and raise a family.

But I must go back to a few of the things I remember of my childhood. One time when I was quite a small girl, my aunt Clarrisa Terry told me if I would get lucerne for her pig all summer; she would weave me a dress. Every day when I would go to take the pig feed I would torment her by asking, "is that my dress?" She kept me waiting until the last of the piece, then came out a many colored-stripped cloth for a dress. Was I proud? Well, I think that was the first thing I ever earned.

There was another circumstance that happened in my life that made a lasting impression on me, and I am sure has been a great lesson to me. One time when I was quite a good sized girl, one of our neighbors had a job to be done. I think it was pulling weeds. He told me if I would help his children do the work, he would buy me a circle comb, which in those days was considered quite
an ornament. So I pitched right in working with all my might. But I never heard any more about the circle comb. It certainly taught me a lesson that has gone with me through life never to make a promise, especially to a child that you don't expect to keep. You may forget it, but the child never will.

Another lesson I learned from a dear Old Danish lady neighbor of ours was about borrowing. She said, "always see that your supply of groceries, etc., are replenished, just before you get out; it will cost you no more and will save you the trouble and time of borrowing and your neighbor the inconvenience of getting it for you and putting it back when you return it. I have tried to remember that and put it into practice.

All my life I have been blessed with the gift or ability to make friends, which I consider one of my greatest achievements, as good friends go so far in smoothing down the rough places through the journey of life. I do truly appreciate good friends and neighbors, of course, there are always those who don't like you, but I am leaving them out of the picture.

In my early life I never did things by halves in my work as well as in my play. I put all my energy into the things I was doing. At one time bishop Smith remarked that I put more pep into dancing than anyone he had ever seen. Mother often said I was either away up or away down. Full of fun and gaiety or down at the mouth with the blues. I have tried hard though to keep the up
grade and cut out the blues as it is a waste of time and nobody likes to be around one that is down in the dumps.

So much has been written about Indian raids in early days. I will just say the Indians around Rockville were mostly friendly, bringing berries, pine gum, pine nuts, and other things to exchange for food. President young always advised the people it was cheaper to feed them than to fight them. However, there were Indian raids occasionally of a very serious nature which kept the people ever on the alert wondering when or where the next outbreak would be, but when we consider that they were being crowded off their hunting grounds, one can hardly blame them for retaliating.

Probably the most serious thing the early settlers of Dixie had to encounter, was the irrigation problem. You will know, it was then as now, nothing could be raised without irrigation. The people had emigrated from different countries where irrigation was unnecessary; many of them knew nothing whatever about farming. They had no engineer to survey their ditches in order to get the necessary fall to bring the water onto their land, but they went to work trusting in the Lord and using their own best judgment, until finally they got their ground watered and crops planted.

Even so, there were difficulties to encounter. When the summer showers came, the chances were the head of the ditch would be taken out, besides floods would pour down the side washes, filling the ditches full of dirt and rocks which must all be cleaned out before crops could be watered again. There being so few in number, it worked a real hardship on them.

Then I remember one summer it looked like the crops were all going to be destroyed with grasshoppers. They came in swarms and settled on everything green – fields, gardens, orchards, and everything. Everyone men, women and children turned out to fight them. Trenches were dug and we drove what we could into them, where they were either burned or covered with dirt. But it looked as if everything would be destroyed. Then one day when there was a celebration being held in the old bowery, I think it was the 24th of July, we noticed what looked like a cloud over the sun. On looking closer we found it to be the grasshoppers taking their leave, and what rejoicing there was, for the crops were saved.

Then finally there came better times for Dixie. Fruit trees began to bear fruit in abundance of the very choicest flavor, which were dried and shipped to Salt Lake City and other northern parts by team and exchanged for clothing, groceries, hardware, etc., until Dixie began to be on the map. It required four or five weeks to make the round trip to Salt Lake City and back, and now the distance can be covered in less than twenty four hours.

Our time was not all spent in tilling the soil. We had our amusements such as social gatherings, 4th and 24th of July celebrations, dances, spelling matches, debating teams, and many other forms of amusements, besides Sunday School and meeting, with an occasional visit from our church authorities from St. George or Salt Lake City.

The style of dress in early days was very different from now, no glove¬ fitting dresses in those days. Ten yards of material, 26 inches wide was re¬quired, six widths being gathered into a tight fitting waist. One could stand straight, take hold of the hem of the skirt and raise it to the top or above the head. Large hoops were also worn at one time. Then later, we had the long train where the skirt dragged about six or eight inches on the ground, picking up dust and dirt from the street. This style was short of duration however, and was followed by tight basques and plaited skirts which were very pretty the back being draped in folds. A great amount of work was put into these dresses as the pleats were sewed onto the lining. Buttons were sewed all down the front of the basque only one inch apart, with a buttonhole worked for each button. That was in my time when I made dresses for $.50 each

I was married to Alfred Lorenzo Hall, January 18, 1882, in the St. George Temple. Our start in life consisted of him having a small farm across the river from Grafton, where he raised lucern hay, sugar cane, and other crops. He also had a little plug team. I had a cow that mother had given me when it was a calf, also 12 quilts that I had made, having begun to make quilts when I was only 12 years old, a 20 pound feather bed costing $420.00, a good supply of dresses and other clothing, all of which I had earned drying fruit, sewing for people, and working in their homes.

We both went to work with the determination to get the necessities around us. We both worked very hard, were careful in our expenditures and lived within our means. We always made it a point not to spend out last dollar, but keep a little in reserve in case of sickness or other necessity, although there were a great many things we deprived ourselves of, we seldom spent out last cent.

Our first baby was born April 1, 1883. We named him Alfred Lorenzo for his father. He was an extra bright child, and brightened our home with his childish prattle and cute sayings. He was only permitted to remain with us a short time; our heavenly father took him away. He died the 19th of April 1886.

Other children were born to us, ten in all, which grew to man and womanhood. Roy, the second son, died in Lexington, Kentucky, while filling a mission, on the 29th of April 1908. He was a good boy and a hard worker always on hand to help lighten my load when he could be spared from the farm work. His body was shipped to Rockville where it was interred in the cemetery. The inscription on his casket read "In memory of Leroy Hall, who died with the harness on."

We were blessed with a good family of children with whom we took a great deal of pleasure. We tried to make home attractive for them by reading a good interesting story or book to them at night so that the noise of children in the street would have no attraction for them.

Our neighbor's children too, the Jennings, who were early left without a mother, took pleasure in coming to our place to play with our children and listen to me read. Having no mother of their own, I tried in my weak way to be a mother to them. I still look upon them as next to my own, and they have not forgotten those days, showing their appreciation by calling upon me whenever convenient and often reminding me of the lessons taught them in their early life and the fact that no relative seems nearer to them than aunt Julia.

In addition to our own we took an orphan girl to raise, Della Wright. We took her when she was 10 years old and she stayed until she was 18, when she wanted to see more of the world, and went to Cedar City to work. After staying there for some time, she went to California, where she got married. She was a very bright intelligent girl and a good student, always getting high marks in school. She was well respected and we thought a great deal of her. When she heard of uncle alf's serious illness, she came at once, but too late to see him. He had passed away before she arrived.

Our children were all married in the temple to good honorable companions. They in turn are raising families that are a credit to them. There has never been any criminals or lawbreakers in our family. Not one was ever arrested on the slightest charge. Four have filled good honorable missions have each filled responsible positions in the organizations at different times and altogether looking through a mothers eye, I feel that we have raised a family of which we can be proud.

I think the most happy and enjoyable time in our married life was spent at our summer mountain home at Crystal Ranch where we had our family together, Nora crystal our youngest having been born there. To be sure, there was plenty of hard work to do as there always is in making a new place but we enjoyed it and was one with our children in their amusements.

That was before they started going away to school or on missions. Then we came to Hurricane where we helped pioneer this place and build a new home, and our children began to be scattered. Some were married, some went to St. George to school, and others were going on missions. And one, Harvey, went into the army in the 1st World War.

Until now I am left in the big home alone, my husband having passed to the great beyond on the 4th of January, 1934. We had spent fifty two years of married life in love and devotion. I am now waiting the call to come where I can meet him with my children and other loved ones that have gone on.

In the latter years of our life we have done considerable work in the temple for the salvation of the dead. We have enjoyed the work greatly, his whole soul being thrilled with the work. We kept it up together as long as he could stand the trip. I am still going once each week, accompanied by our good friends brother and sister LeBaron.

Note: Mother passed away very peacefully of heart trouble at Hurricane, August 12, 1935.

1 comment:

Isaac said...

Thanks for posting this. Julia Elzina Hanson Hall was my great great grandmother. Very interesting!

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