Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Myra Hall Lemmon (1872-1951) Autobiography

On March 14, 1872 at Rockville, a tiny, round baby girl was born to John and Kezia, and was the eighth child to come to the young couple. She was christened Myra, and she tells her own story:

The house in which I was born was a large rock house, surrounded by giant, lofty mulberry trees and stately poplar trees. Along the path leading from the friendly swinging gate to the front door with the ever-welcome greeting were rows of red, red American Beauty roses. lf was a lovely old house wherein love and companionship did abide. Small as I was I immediately felt that love as I gradually became a permanent part of that household.

My childhood was a happy one as I was petted and pampered by my older brothers and sisters. I romped and frolicked in the warm summer air, finding every nook and crevice a new adventure to be explored. Rockville, my birthplace, was a lovely little community, and will long hold many happy memories for me.

As I grew older, my favorite amusements and sports were dancing, horseback riding and baseball. I became quite skilled in these particular pastimes because our recreation was somewhat limited. Nature furnished most of our entertainment because there were no supervised playground equipped with the necessary items to entertain us. The nearby hills and canyons and the old 'swimming’ hole were our favorite haunts. My special playmates and friends were Sarah Farns, Mae Petty, my sister, Adelia, and Densie Terry. Many were the happy occasions when we congregated for our secret sessions, as young girls often do, and our creative pastimes.

Our home was a happy and companionable place where each evening, at the close of the day, the entire family would gather to visit and discuss their respective problems and pleasures. My father and mother were both very religious. Their every act had as a basis, the principles of the Gospel. We, as younger members of the family, were taught from early childhood the importance of prayer. We were taught honor and respect for the Gospel as well as for our parents. My father was very strict concerning the holiness of the Sabbath Day. He would insist that the entire family study the scriptures all day Sunday and attend all the services. I think that one teaching and regulation kept our family closer together, because we learned to work as well as play together, and respect each others rights.

On one occasion while I was yet a young girl, my sister, Adelia, and I were across the river working in one of the potato patches. We were weeding the sweet potatoes when I suddenly felt something bit my toe. Not noticing what it was because of the thick foliage of the potato plants, I tried to kick the object away with my foot. When it persisted in clinging to my foot I then noticed that it was a large rattlesnake. I was frightened and immediately cried out to my sister to help me. She dashed over and beat the snake off with her hoe until it was dead. Young as we were we realized the necessity of speed in getting medical care for my foot, and we were quite a distance from our home.

Adelia was wearing her new bonnet, but without hesitation she tore it up and tied the strips around my leg to keep the poison from spreading. In my haste to mount our horse, I frightened the horse and she bucked me off. We finally succeeded in getting on our horse and then home. My mother sucked the poison out of my toe and doctored it to the best of her knowledge. I was very ill from the effects of the poisonous snake bite for quite sometime.

I was baptized on my eighth birthday on March 14, 1880 at Rockville, in the Virgin River. It was a chilly day in March for such procedure, nevertheless, it was a happy and memorable day for me. I was then confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints in the afternoon on the same day. I tried to realize the significance of my baptism and confirmation and I secretly vowed to live as I had been taught by my mother and father.

My schooling, like that of all young children living in Rockville in those early days, was very limited. There was a scarcity of classroom space and the necessary books. All the children met for class work in one large room in the old adobe schoolhouse. The building was built as a school and church house combined. Those early pioneers desired scholastic training for their children but because of the distance between Salt Lake City and the many outlying Mormon communities, suitable and necessary school books and equipment were hard to secure. Many of the youngsters had to work in the homes and the fields alongside their parents and older brothers and sisters as soon as they were old enough. Their school training was cut short for this reason as well as the lack of advanced texts. The children who were naturally more talented and skilled in the 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 with only one teacher to serve all ages and grades.

My teacher for all subjects was Henrietta Cox Stout. My studies consisted of arithmetic, reading, writing and grammar. I progressed far enough in my school studies to be able to write a picture story in grammar, which shown the extent of the average student's learning. Any further training and learning I obtained was through personal endeavors and practical experience secured during my advancing years. My parents urged study in the home as much as possible, but our home library was small and inadequate.

My associates during my younger days were Bob Slaughter, Alonzo Dalton, Walt Scott, Ben Farns, and Jesse Lemmon, the latter was one day to become my husband and life companion. As a group of young boys and girls, we had some happy times together. During my courtship with Jesse Lemmon, this particular group of young people met often to put on plays and dance as part of our recreation.

My father was a very strong willed man and he disapproved of my serious thoughts towards Jesse Lemmon. Whenever I would "date" Jesse, I had to wait until my father left the house before Jesse could come in and see me. Then our crowd would gather for an evening's entertainment. If the parents of any of the other young people left home for the evening, there we would all congregate and dance and sing.

When I was nineteen years old, Jesse Lemmon and I were married on January 24, 1891 at John Stout's home by Joseph A. Smith. Despite my father's objections, I was a very happy young girl on that particular day and I was determined nothing would mar the happiness I felt.

We made our home in Rockville and to us were born eight children. Our first three children died in infancy. Elvira died when only four days old, Eldonna, who died when one and one half years old and Claude died at the age of one year. The other five Maude, Arnold, Gerra, Elson and Norene have married and now have families of their own. At the present time (March 1949) 'Jesse and I have eight grand children and three great grand children.

We have had our sorrows and pleasures in our married life, but we feel that the deaths of our first three children were the only real tragedies to overshadow our home. If a person should ask us what comedy we had in our home, Jesse would more than likely reply: "Hmm, nothing funny happened after I was married." Nevertheless, there were happy and joyous times of which I have fond memories, We have some fine sons and daughters who have helped make our home a pleasant one.

When Eldon was but a small baby, I had to go to Salt Lake City to undergo a serious operation on my leg. I was required to stay quiet sometime for treatment and when I returned to our home in Rockville, my baby, Eldon, had almost forgotten me. It was not long, however, before my son recognized his mother's arms, into which he trustingly nestled. Even in sickness a mother's thoughts are with her family, especially if there be a baby there. So it hurt me to think that I had to be gone away from home so long that my baby forgot me.

My mother, Kezia, was the only midwife in the vicinity of Rockville for as long as I can remember. She willingly and faithfully assisted and cheered all who were despondent and sick. So my desire and knowledge for nursing came to me instinctively and naturally. Because of this natural knowledge I have always felt that I should never neglect any opportunities to serve and relieve the suffering of others. I never let myself get too tired to sit with those who needed comfort. The Lord blessed me with this particular talent and I have always felt that I should go whenever the call came. I liked to doctor and relieve the suffering of others. Because of my own illnesses in later years, I realized what a helping hand meant to one who was of ill health. A word of cheer, a warm handclasp always put courage into the heart of the most feverish patient.

When my sister, Adelia, was ill, just prior to her death, I felt the inefficiency of my medical knowledge. In later years I was urged by doctors and friends to take a course in nursing. We were living in Hurricane at the time of Adelia's sickness. She had had an operation for cancer. (While living at Rockville.) It was unsuccessful, as the technical knowledge concerning cancer was limited at that time. She was ill for quite sometime. Hurricane was just a newly organized community and telephone service had not been installed, so I had to ride horse back to LaVerkin, two miles away, to telephone the doctor in St. George for advice and instruction in behalf of Adelia. In this way, I was able to relieve the suffering of my sister. But when her child was born she died nineteen days later and was the first one to be buried in the new Hurricane Cemetery. At such times I fervently wished that I had had more training in nursing.

We moved to Hurricane soon after the first settlers moved there. Again 1, like the many other young wives and mothers, had to help my husband build a new home for us and our children. It was a new experience for me but I determined to make a success of our endeavors. Along in the fifties when President Brigham Young called colonists to settle Utah's Dixie country, some of these strong and faithful men and women found their way to what are now known as the upper settlements of the Virgin River. Both Hurricane and Rockville were just such settlements. New settlers kept coming, families were growing, until finding new land or moving out of the country were the only alternatives.

These people loved their families, their homes and their heritage, so new lands must be the answer. As early as 1863 4 a number of men began to explore for the purpose of finding new places for settlements, and surveys were made to determine the feasibility of getting water from the Virgin River onto what is now known as the Hurricane Flat. After much work and discussion, it was decided concerning the canal to carry water to valley It was not until after the canal was completed that families began to move to Hurricane with the purpose of building a home. Through necessity those early pioneers were able to accomplish what seemed to some as the impossible. We, like many other families, left our home in Rockville and willingly accepted the task of helping build another community. The influx of saints to the permanent home where we have lived and reared our children to maturity.

I attended church regularly all my life as my health would permit. The training I received from my parents was indelibly patterned on my live, so I served whenever the call came and I was well enough to do the work well. It was always a joy to work in such a way because I felt that I benefited even more than those who listened. On November 10, 1932 1 received my own endowments in the St. George Temple.

I have never done a great deal of traveling, but what I have done has been very enjoyable and profitable to me. While some of my children lived in California, I made several trips to Los Angeles. We also lived in Pocatello and Newhouse, Idaho and Monroe, Utah. Each time we made a new home, I was able to acquire new and lasting friends, so I am happy that I have had these experiences.

No comments:

Where Are You?

Visitor Map
Create your own visitor map!