Family History of Oliver Taylor
Oliver was born January 23, 1893 in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England. He was the eldest of four children born to Fred Taylor and Mary Parkin. As was the custom in those days, he was born at home. He started school at the age of four, which was the usual thing in England. As a child, he had good health, having all the childhood illnesses without any complications.
The town of Barnsley had a population of about 40,000 in 1900. Oliver was well acquainted with all parts of the city as he as a very inquisitive and adventuresome boy and did a lot of chasing around. There was a big park just about three blocks from where he lived. It had a big high tower, about one hundred feet high. This tower had a winding stairway inside, which led to the top of the tower from where you could see for miles and miles, all around the surrounding county side. Oliver never had the courage to climb this tower but he liked to visit the park to see all the beautiful flowers and plantings around the grounds. He would walk over to this park quite often.
There was a market place right in the center of Barnsley. It was arranged in a triangle shape. They used to set up their tents and shops there every Saturday. Everything imaginable was sold there. Oliver remembers one big fish hanging there that was about seven or eight feet long. It hadn’t been cut yet but would be when someone wanted to buy some. This market was open until eleven p.m. Saturday night when everything was taken down and moved off before Sunday. These markets were called “The Town Market” and in those days most every town had one.
When Oliver was young, one of his chores was every Saturday he was to gather up all the shoes and get them shined for Sunday. There was a staircase that led up into the loft of a little stable that was at the back of his home. A fellow kept his horses there and he had a little delivery wagon that he could put one horse on. The man worked it all week like that. Oliver and some of his friends liked to play up and down that staircase and that is also where he would take the shoes to shine them every Saturday morning.
The kids in those days played a lot of marbles. Each kid had quite a few marbles. When they played outside, they would scoop out a hole at the side of a building, and then each kid would take a handful of his diamonds (a certain kind of marble) and throw them in the hole. Each one would put in so many and if they came out even, the kid who threw them in won the pot. There were several other marble games that they liked to play such as shooting them out of a marked circle on the ground.
In Oliver’s youth, the boys all dressed in short knicker pants. The English kids all had a white celluloid collar that buttoned onto their shirt. They all had a little cap to wear on their head, something like a skullcap. His mother was quite strict and as a youngster he was made to behave himself.
Oliver’s mother, Mary Parkin Taylor (called Polly) had dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. She was about five foot six inches tall and a little on the heavier side. She joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he was about five or six years old. She had opened up some rooms for boarding and rooming to help with the family finances as Oliver’s father was a coal miner and didn’t make much money. Mormon missionaries (Elders) were the only boarders she ever had living with them The Elders must have converted her as she didn’t know anything about the Mormon church before her contact with them.
His mother ran the boarding house for two or three years then they moved to 106 Park Road still in Barnsley, where she didn’t have room to take in boarders. Oliver’s parents did not own their own home. The biggest part of the lower class rented their homes. There would be whole city blocks of just solid buildings. Each house built right up against the next. Your neighbor was just through the wall. These houses usually had slate roofs. That’s the same material as the slates were that they used to write on in school.
The district where Oliver lived was a great coal mining area. There were several coal mines between Barnsley and Wombwell. A lot of the men living around there followed that trade, as that was one of the main jobs available. Oliver’s father, Fred Taylor, was one of these coalminers though his father, Thomas Taylor, worked as a farm laborer. Fred worked in the mines six days a week. The pay was very poor. He had a good singing voice and his wife Polly also had a good voice. Fred belonged to a miners club where there used to be a lot of singing activities. Fred would take Polly with him often and Oliver remembers going along to listen to the music. Oliver’s father often would set Oliver on his knee and sing to him. Oliver liked that. Fred would take young Oliver to visit his grandparents Taylor. They lived about six miles away. His grandmother always had something good to eat when they went there.
When Oliver was about six years old, he went to visit his grandparents Taylor and stayed for about a week. He recalls there were four homes built on the farm. They were all joined together as was usual in England. His grandparents lived in one of these houses. Oliver remembers going out through the fields one day and there were about half a dozen men with sythes cutting the hay. That’s how it was done then. There was a little girl, about his age, that belonged to one of the other families on the farm and they played together during his visit. He was frequently taken to visit his grandparents Parkin as well as they didn’t live too far away.
Though Fred Taylor never joined the LDS church, he never objected to Polly joining nor to her church activity. Likewise he never objected when Oliver was baptized. Fred Taylor died November 17, 1905 of dropsy and high blood pressure, leaving his wife with three young children to support. She had quite a job doing it by cleaning houses and doing laundry. Fred Taylor had dark brown hair, blue eyes and stood five foot ten inches tall. He was fairly well built weighing about 160 pounds. At the time Oliver’s mother joined the LDS church, there were not any regularly scheduled meetings held, just the meetings that the Elders held.
Oliver tells of going to a meeting with his mother one night in Barnsley. It was in an upstairs room of some ones home. There were about six other ladies besides his mother and himself. The group sang the song “High On The Mountain Top.” He recalls that there was a big screen setting to the back of them that was covered with pictures of all kinds of colored snakes. Ever since that occasion, whenever he sees pictures of the devil, imps and snakes, he can visualize being in that room at that meeting.
He also recalls a time he and his mother went to Sheffield (England) to conference. They got in town late at night. His mother walked up to a policeman and asked for directions of where to go to find lodgings. Instead of sending her somewhere, he took them to his own home. His wife fixed them something to eat and gave them a nice bed for the night. The next morning the policeman showed them the way to get to the conference meeting.
To attend another meeting, Oliver recalls going to a place called Hiam. It was about four miles from Barnsley. He and his mother had to walk through the fields to get there but there was a well-beaten footpath that went through the fields to where they held Sunday school, which was in a private home. There were about four families that belonged to the church that lived in this area. When they went into the home, there was a little girl lying on a bed motionless. She was very sick. The Elders were there and after Sunday school they anointed her with oil and gave her a blessing. The people in attendance at Sunday school went right back into the room they had been meeting in and held Sacrament meeting. After Sacrament meeting, when they went out, there was the little girl sitting up in bed smiling and playing with her doll. Her mother was sitting on the bed watching her. That occasion really impressed young Oliver and he was never forgotten it.
Oliver was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on March 9, 1901. He was eight years old. His father did not attend his baptism though he had no objection to this action. Oliver was very excited and happy to be baptized. The baptism took place at an indoor swimming pool in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England. There were two ladies baptized the same day as Oliver. At the same time as the baptism was being held, there were two fellows in swimming, kitty-cornered from where the services were being held. The fellow quit their swimming and sat up on the edge of the pool in order to see what was going on. When the baptism was over, the fellows started swimming again.
Oliver had a younger brother named Nelson who was two and a half years younger than himself. The Elders used to have a lot of fun tossing Nelson from one to the other while standing in opposite corners of the room. Oliver didn’t want them doing that to him as he felt he was too big so he kept out of the way.
At the time Oliver was baptized, he had no idea that he would be going to America to live. Matthew Forster from Mendon, Cache County, Utah was one of the missionaries who had boarded and roomed at the Taylor home. When he was released from his mission, he went back to visit them, Matthew asked Oliver’s parents if they would let Oliver go to America and live with him and his family. Oliver was real anxious to go.
His parents finally gave in to his coaxing and said he could go even though they never expected to see him again. In those days, when a missionary was released, he was allowed to travel around the country he was in for two or three weeks before he returned home. Matthew wanted to do that. He went up into Glasgow, Scotland as that was where his father and mother had originated from and he wanted to see that area. From there He went over into France for a few days. He was gone for what seemed a long time to Oliver so he thought Matt had gone to America and left him behind. He really was feeling pretty blue and then Matt returned to get him. Oliver’s mother quickly got his clothing ready for him. Elder Forster and Oliver went to Liverpool, England on a train. This was where they boarded the ship for America. It was in the evening during the last week of May in 1901. They were aboard the ship a week during which Oliver was seasick the whole time. They landed in Boston, Mass. And there boarded a train for the trip to Utah. There were no sleepers on the train so they rode sitting up all the time. Oliver was still seasick when he arrived in Mendon, Utah June 6, 1901. Matt had had to stop off in Salt Lake City to report his mission. Oliver continued on to Mendon with two converts (late teens) who were on their way to Wellsville where their sponsors lived. They were riding the Bamburger train, which stopped down below the town of Mendon. No one knew when to expect them so they had to walk all the way up to Forsters. The next day, the Forsters took the converts to Wellsville in their surrey, as the train did not go that way.
In America, Oliver expected to find all kinds of wild animals and everything in the rough stage with lots of wide-open country. He was quite surprised when he arrived and there were not any bears or lions or tigers or other wild beasts chasing all over. He really liked the cows and horses though.
At the time Matt brought Oliver to America, Matt was 41 years old. He had never been married. He had four sisters and a brother. They were all fine people and treated Oliver as if he were one of their own family. They never hand any trouble with each other and got along fine. Oliver wrote fairly often to his parents in England keeping in touch and letting them know how things were going for him.
He stated to school in the fall on 1901. The schoolhouse was red brick. It was three rooms. The back room was old and built of rock. The two red brick rooms in front were built on, in about 1899. There was a potbelly stove in each room for heating.
When Oliver left England, he was in the fourth grade. When he started school in America, they put him in the first grade. He went from first grade to third grade the next day and finally ended up in the fourth grade. He was held back the next year. They would not let him advance because he was too young.
Peter Marshans was his teacher for the first two years of his schooling in America. Those grades were held in the back rock room of the schoolhouse. Mr. Marshans was a very good teacher. The 6th, 7th, and 8th grades were held in the south front room of the brick part. Jesse T. Reese taught Oliver for all three of those years. He graduated when he was 13. There were six girls and Oliver in the graduating class. Instead of giving them their examinations in Mendon, the students were taken the Brigham Young College in Logan. The tests were given in the college library where there were lots of tables. The school board sent all the kids in the valley who were graduating from the 8th grade, to the college for their testing. There were teachers all over the place watching to see that you did not copy from some of the other students. Oliver was always a good student, above average and was usually at the top if the class in the spelling matches.
Some of his friends that he chummed around with in town were Bradley Whitney, who lived neighbors to the Forsters, John O. Hughes and Leon Willie. After graduating from the 8th grade, if you wanted to continue your schooling, you could go to either the Brigham Young College or Utah State Agricultural College, both of which were in Logan, Utah. In college he enjoyed his woodworking class and thought that someday he would like to get into carpentry but he never did though he was always handy with repairs around the house. In his woodworking class, there were a few electrical tools, but mainly hand tools. He made a tool chest, which has always been used as a cedar chest and has always been kept nice in the house. He also made a nice adult size rocking chair, which has been in use in his home for over seventy years. He also made a child size cupboard and little table. It was kept over at the Forsters home. To save trouble among his four sons, Oliver sold the cupboard and table at the same time as he sold all the household furnishings in Forsters house to an antique dealer in about 1970.
Oliver did not like his blacksmithing class and after one year he dropped that class. He just could not get Algebra into his head and knowing he could not graduate from college without that class, after two and a half years of college, he quit. While going to college, Oliver rented a room in Logan. First he lived at the home of old gentleman Pierson and his wife. He stayed there through the week and then would go back to Forsters in Mendon for the weekend. He was charged $4.50 per week for his room. The next year, he bunked with Leon Willie. Their room was at 2nd North and 5th West. The following year his room was in a big old rock house on 1st South and 3rd West. Right straight across the street from Will Worleys place. Lizzie Forster came and stayed part time and cooked for him. The rest of the time he batched.
At Forsters, some of the chores Oliver had to do were letting the calves in to suck after the cows had been milked. He also took care of chickens and several pigs, having to pull weeds for them. The Forsters taught him how to work hard. In the early days people used to cut hay with mowers. Forsters had an old Champion that they bought in 1873 and a wagon bought the same year. That mower was still in good working order when Oliver arrived in 1901. He ran that mower on and off for several more years. After that Forsters bought a Jones mower that was five foot cut and the Champion was a four foot cut with the cutter bar on the rear of the machine. They used to take the two mowers out to get the job done. You were doing pretty good if you could cut ten acres a day with the big mower. When they had just the little Champion mower, they would take turns in order to cover the fields. One would go out early in the morning and work until noon when the other one would bring a fresh team down to the field and hook on the mower and he would go until late in the afternoon. They would do pretty good to cut ten acres a day. They used just a team of two horses to pull the mower.
One of the first summers Oliver was in America, the Forsters bought a hay loader. They had previously had to load all the hay by hand with a pitchfork. With the loader, they would windrow the hay then hook the loader behind the hayrack to be pulled along. The loader would pick up the hay and drop in the back end of the hayrack. Oliver would drive the team and either Robert or Matthew would throw the hay to the front of the rack, then the other one would spread it around and tromp it down. They would get the hay piled up about three feet above the rack. There was a little stake that was up at the front of the rack, which was used to tie the team’s lines around. Oliver would sit astride of the stake and the men would sometimes get the hay packed and tromped in so solid around him that he could hardly get out so they could drive home. Usually no summer vacation was taken as that was haying time.
When it was time to harvest the wheat, a lot of the wheat was bound with a binder and the wheat that was not bound with a binder was cut with what they called a header. Four horses were hooked on to the header. The cutter bar was in front of the horses so the horses could not tromp down the wheat. There were three header boxes and they were made out of tongue and grooved flooring so that no wheat would be lost in between any wide boards. The men would cut around until they had filled those headers boxes. When one was loaded, it would be pulled out and then another header box was driven into place until they were all filled. The one that was filled would be pulled into be unloaded at the stacks. They used to build the stacks by hand then a few years later they got to using derricks. They put wheels on the derricks so they could move them from one field to another and they got so they could put up some good sized stacks with the derricks, from the grain that was cut by the header.
After the grain was stacked, it was left to dry and cure for about two to three weeks. There would be weeds or a little green wheat and that could cause it to sour or go through what was called “The Sweat” and they did not want that until they started to thresh it. In 1901 people had the old horse-powered threshing machine. There were six teams that were hooked on and they just went around and around pulling to create the horsepower. There was what they called the tumbling rod that was hooked on to the separator and back to the horsepower. As the horses went around, that turned the tumbling rod and that ran the threshing machine. The horses had to step over that rod when they came to it. They had to learn how to get around there and had to keep the ring going around by keeping their speed up on the thresher to do the threshing. There was one steam engine thresher in Mendon at that time and that was the first steam thresher that came into Cache Valley. That was quite a thing at the time to see a thresher run with a belt from the engine to the separator and that was what ran the thresher.
The Forsters bought Oliver his own horse, soon after his arrival. They bought it from a schoolteacher who was being transferred out of Mendon. Forsters paid $10.00 for the horse. Oliver learned to ride it by going up in the hills to the pasture to get the cows, which were pastured there. He would take the cows up in the morning and go and bring them back at night. This horse soon got wise to Oliver and would not go any further out than to what was called “Seventeen Pasture Gate,” without Balking. Sometimes the horse would balk and sometimes he wouldn’t so Oliver got to riding one of the other horses that Forsters had. He chose a tame one, a horse that Jemima drove on the surrey. Oliver got along fine with that horse.
After the hay was off the field below town, and it had some re-growth, the cows were herded down there. One day, Oliver was riding this old mare to take the cows down, this was after school season had started and the cows were to be left down there. The old mare started to run away with Oliver when they got up to the road to make the turn. This mare was going pretty fast and Oliver did not make the turn with her. He went off. That old mare stopped and turned right around and went back to him. Oliver’s hands were spread out on the ground and she stepped on his fingers. He figured she had come back to pick him up.
At about the age of nine, Oliver and a bunch of his chums were down below town herding cows. They all decided that they wanted a drink of water. There was a nice flowing well down at the lower end of the field. They all got on their horses and headed for the well. They got their horses galloping and when going over a small knoll Oliver’s hat flew off. He instinctively pulled back on the reins of his horse. This made it stop quick and Oliver went off. Right over the horses head and he ended up with a broken arm. Either Robert or Jemima drove him over to Logan in the surrey to Doctor D. C. Budge to get his arm set. With a good team of horses, it would take about forty-five minutes to drive to Logan.
Oliver recalls that there were no wild Indians around Mendon but there were Indians who used to come around to the homes in town begging at the back doors for food. The Indians would also come around at threshing time and clean up the grain from the floor after the threshing had been done. The wheat used to be stacked out in the fields to dry. The threshing men would come with their equipment. With all the pitching of the bundles, quite a bit of the grain would get shelled out on the ground. If the farmers did not get busy and clean it up, the Indians would come along and gather it up, then they would take it down to the river where the squaws would have their sieves. They would but the wheat in the sieves and hold it over the river where there was usually a breeze, which would blow the chaff away and leave just the grain. That was how the Indians cleaned their grain.
Oliver and his friends used to head cows out in what was called “The North Field.” The boys had their ‘camp’ down near the river. There were a couple of big haystacks with a space between. The boys used to take willows and make a shed in this area so they could get out of the sun and play their games and have fun. One time, when the kids were down there herding, there were some Indians who were in another area a short distance away. The kids watched the squaws cleaning the wheat while the bucks just sat in the shade and watched them. The bucks sure knew when a critter got in the alfalfa and foundered. They would go and dress out the animal and take it and make jerky out of it by cutting the meat into strips and hanging it out in the sun to dry. The Indians never seemed to steal any cattle. Probably with the people feeding them there was no need for stealing. Brigham Young had advised the people that it was better to feed the Indians than to fight them and by doing that there did not appear to be any problem with stealing.
When Oliver was quite young, he heard a story about an Indian that he never forgot. This incident took place in the early days when Mendon was just being settled. The Indians gave the people some trouble by trying to steal some of their possessions. There was that trouble when Mendon was first settled. Something happened, Oliver doesn’t remember quite what, anyway there were these two men who were out in the fields herding cattle. An Indian came along and there must have been an argument or a fight. One of the men had a knife and he stabbed the Indian, killing him. (Another version tells of a gun shooting the Indian.) The men were given orders to bury the Indian, then they took their hand plows out and plowed the ground up so that it would not show that anything had been buried there and hoping to not get into trouble with some of the other Indians and probably someone else might get killed. Brigham Young predicted that the person who had done the killing, his hand would wither. There was an old fellow in town, when Oliver arrived in America, who all he did was go down fishing everyday when the weather was good. His name was James Hill. Not too many years later, this old fellows hand withered up so everyone felt that Brigham Young’s prediction had come true.
Upon arrival in America, Oliver started attending Primary and Sunday school regularly. He rarely ever missed a meeting. John H. Anderson was the Bishop. He and his family lived in Logan but he ran a store in Mendon. In 1903, Bishop Mormon D. Bird was called and he was the Bishop for seventeen years. There were about three or four hundred people living in Mendon at that time. A lot of the old families were still living in town then buy later some of them moved out into Pocatello Valley and Blue creek areas. Some also moved up into Snake River country and settled up there. The church meetings used to be held in an old rock house in the middle of town. In 1912 a new chapel was built just south of the old rock house. The new one was constructed of light buff brick. It was built by William Worley and his partner. His partner was the brick layer and Brother Worley was the carpenter. They started holding meetings in this chapel the first Sunday in 1914. The basement of this chapel was used as a dance hall. The first dance held here was Christmas night of 1913. Oliver sold two hundred tickets for this event. In 1964-1966 a new and more modern chapel was built to replace the buff brick one which was torn down and the new one was built on the same spot of ground. Church meetings were held at the schoolhouse.
After the buff brick chapel was built in 1912, the old rock church building was fixed up and it was used to put on dramatic productions. The Mendon ward had a drama club for quite a few years. The ward started to put on plays soon after Mendon was settled about 1860. In the beginning, the people put on their own plays in the old schoolhouse, which was made of pine logs. When the rock chapel was built, they included a stage along with scenery, to used in their drama productions. Oliver participated in several of the shows that were produced. During Oliver’s courting of Ethel Ladle, most of their dates consisted of attending or participating in the MIA activities, which included the plays. The plays were mainly done in the wintertime for the entertainment of the town’s people. Lynn Wood was the director. He got the idea from his father who was in show business in the early days. Lynn would organize a group each year and they would put on about four shows each winter. One play Oliver remembers was a three-hour production entitled “Up Vermont Way.” He took the part of the country Hillbilly in that play. The charge to attend these plays was twenty-five and thirty-five cents, which was a lot of money in those days. This money that was collected, was turned in to the Bishop to help finance the ward budget.
At this time in history, tithing was paid by whatever means the members had and the Bishop had to accept whatever it was. It was supposed to be a tenth of what you produced whether it was hay, chickens, and potatoes, whatever. Robert used to dig his potatoes and every tenth row went into sacks for tithing. Forsters also gave their tenth of wheat, hay, cows, calves, chickens, eggs, butter, etc. Considering there was no refrigeration or freezers, the Bishop had quite a job to keep things from spoiling. He would put the perishable items down in a cool cellar and then take it to Logan as soon as possible.
Oliver never had an opportunity to do baptisms for the dead. These baptisms were done in the Little Muddie River. After the temple was built, baptisms for the dead were done there but the wards continued to use the river for their initial baptisms. Oliver never had the opportunity to go on a mission for the church either. Oliver always enjoyed sports, especially baseball. He started playing ball when quite young, with a team of grown men. Some of the men were married and some came from Petersboro to play ball. He was a very good player and played with this team for several years before he got married.
As well as baseball, he liked to play basketball. The kids would put the hoop up on a telephone pole and they would shoot away. When the game was first introduced, there were basketball hoops put up in back of the schoolhouse and the games were played there. The kids also liked to play pomp-pomp-pull away. Sides were chosen, and then the kids would try to nail each other and try to hold them from going from one side of the playing area to the other. They would try to catch as many as they could, then the ones that were caught would have to be on their side. The game continued in this way until one side or the other was all captured. In the wintertime, Oliver and his friends would go down to the slough and ice skate. They would also sleigh ride down the hills into town.
As a child, on Sunday afternoons, Oliver and some of his friends would gather out to Louis R. Birds, that was in the north end of town where a lot of Oliver’s chums lived. Brother Bird had one of the first phonographs in town. It was a cylinder type that you slipped on the arm. They sounded pretty good. Finally two or three more families got them. When Amenzo Baker, nearer Oliver’s home, got one, Oliver would go there on Sunday afternoons and listen to the music. That helped to pass a lot of time.
The scouting program was not in effect when Oliver was young so he did not have an opportunity to be involved in this program. There were usually parties held at school. When birthday parties were held you would play games like spin the bottle or post office. You did not take gifts; you just went and had a good time.
On Halloween, Oliver never was involved in tearing down the out hoses or tipping them over or switching cows and or horses to different corrals or putting wagons or buggies up on top of sheds. That was done by a bunch of the big strong guys that had a lot of fun and got away with it.
When Oliver was sixteen he got a shotgun and started hunting ducks and pheasants and prairie chickens. He also had a .22 gauge. Robert had a 40/60 caliber rifle. That gauge is not made any more but it was a real good gun. He always enjoyed guns and later taught his family of boys how to use their guns.
The first airplane Oliver saw was when a fellow came to the valley on Sunday afternoon. It was a biplane. The pilot was Wylie Post. He took off from a field over toward Benson Ward to do some demonstrating.
The first telephones came into Mendon in the early 1900’s. The fellows that were doing the installing boarded and roomed at Forsters. Forsters had a telephone put in and one was put in for Bishop Bird and one was put in for the town mayor, one in each to the two stores and one pay phone. It cost about $3.00 a month at that time to have a telephone.
Until the water system was installed in 1912, everyone drew their water from their private well. The B. Wright Construction Company from Ogden, Utah was the contractor. Mendon city took out the bonds of $10000.00 each and that put the water system in. That system was in until about 1974 when the biggest part of the pipes in the city were replaced. The main pipe came down through the cemetery and down to the corner below Oliver’s home (1978). That was a six-inch pipe.
Electricity came into Mendon about 1912, during the building of the new buff brick chapel. There was a lot of excitement about this utility. In the old chapel, they used to light it with hanging chandeliers. About six of them. Each with six or eight coal oil lamps burning to light up the chapel so when electricity was installed in the new chapel it was quite a thing.
Soon many people were having electricity installed in their homes. Most of them would just run a line in and put one light hanging down in the center of the room with a string hanging to pull. This would turn the light on and off.
In 1911 or 1912 the first automobiles came into the town of Mendon. There were about four Fords. Abraham Baker, Bill Bust and William Buist had three of the four cars. Lon Wood got a car about two years later.
Forsters bought a car in 1916. It was a Haines that a doctor in Salt Lake City had used. It was a pretty good car as well as it was quite large for a car in those days. You had to crank all the cars then to get them started. Oliver was too young to have the opportunity to drive this car.
In 1913, the Forsters added on to the old home they had been living in. The front two rooms were built of rock. The roof was torn off of the whole house and a new addition was built on top of it. When completed, there were about seven bedrooms on the new top floor. Each Room was furnished with bedsteads that hand high headboards. Each had a hand crocheted bedspread that either Isabella or Jemima had made. There were marble top washstands complete with china washbowl and water pitcher. Under each bed was a china chamber pot.
This addition was made with the intention of being a hotel as Forsters often used to take in roomers or boarders such as the drummers passing through and some of the theatre people when performances were being put on. Two years after the addition was completed, the electric railroad line came through town and went around through Wellsville, Hyrum and over into Logan so there was not much need for this service any longer, as travelers would usually continue on the railroad into a larger town. Also the automobile was soon available and the salesmen who used to come around to take orders for merchandise for the stores and then deliver it in horse drawn rigs no longer had to depend on the horse and slow transport so Forsters did not have much business after that. They did continue to board and room some of the train’s men though. The men lived in Mendon to run what was called the ‘school train.’ They boarded at Forsters until the train was done away with and school buses were used.
Until the city water system was installed, Forsters got their water from their own well, which was about 75 to 90 feet deep. This well was hand dug and then walled up with rock. It was a real good well, cool and tasty. You could not pump it dry. There must have been a good stream of water going through. Also there was a big stream of water that came down through the corral, which was about 400 feet behind Forsters house. In the earlier days, before the area behind the house was used as a corral, women in town used to go there to wash their wool and clean it in this stream.
The Forster family as Oliver knew them, was composed of:
Robert Forster, who continued to live in Mendon, Utah all his life. He worked the farm. He never married and died in 1946 at the age of 93.
Margaret Forster, who helped cook at a boarding house in Montana. She never married and died in 1942 at the age of 86.
Matthew Forster, who after returning from his mission to England when he brought Oliver to America, continued to work on the farm for a couple of years then he moved to Salt Lake City, Utah where he worked for years as a motorman on the old trolley line. He married at the age of 42 to Caroline Sorensen. They never had any children. Matthew purchased a home in Salt Lake City at 711 East 7th South and that house remained as part of the estate for many years after he died. Family members would stay there when they make trips down to Salt Lake City. Matthew died in 1935 at the age of 75.
Elizabeth Ann Forster (Lizzie), worked in Salt Lake City, cooking for lawyers at the Bamburger Company. She married George F. Reid when she was 51 years old. They had no children. They returned to Mendon and lived in the Forsters home. Lizzie died in 1933 at the age of 71.
Isabella Forster, continued to stay at home in Mendon taking care of the house and her brother and sister. She was always busy crocheting and making quilts out of worn out clothing. She did beautiful work. She never married and died in 1956 at the age of 92.
Jemima Forster, also continued to stay in Mendon and live at home. She clerked at the Coop Store and later clerked at the store of Bishop John H. Anderson. Both stores were in Mendon. She was the Postmaster in Mendon for several years. She never married and died in 1968 at the age of 101.
The Foster home remained decorated, as their mother had decorated it as long as any of the children were alive. Nothing was changed. The house was literally full of antiques. The Forsters parents had died in 1893 (father) and 1898 (mother) so Oliver never knew them.
After Jemima’s death in 1968, the Forster home sat vacant. On discovering about 1970, an apparent attempted break-in and knowing the store of history contained inside, Oliver decided he should sell this property. In order to get the Forster home ready to sell, he needed to dispose of all the many items of furniture, dishes, linen, clothing, newspapers, bottles, etc., which had been saved over the years by all the Forster family, Oliver had antique dealers make bids covering all the contents of the house and barn. There really were lots of items, as it appeared that nothing had ever been disposed of for years if ever. Oliver then sold the house and surrounding lot as well.
Oliver’s mother came to America from England in the fall of 1912. He was 19 years old. His mother stayed with Forsters for a couple of months then she went over to Logan to the college and cooked for a fraternity. She only stayed there a week then she quit and went down to Salt Lake City to work.
When Oliver’s mother arrived in America, she brought with her a brother and a sister that Oliver had never seen. John Percy was born May 11, 1902 in Barnsley, Yorkshire, England and Phyllis was born March 14, 1905 also in Barnsley, Yorkshire England which made John Percy ten and Phyllis seven when Oliver saw them for the first time. Nelson by now was seventeen years old.
Phyllis and John Percy stayed with Forsters but Nelson took off for the coal mines down around Price Utah. Nelson was drafted into the army in 1918. He stayed in the states as the war ended in November of that year. Working in the coal mines in Utah, gold mines in Colorado and in Arizona where some of the mines were pretty damp, Nelson contracted TB. When he got quite bad he went into a Veterans Hospital. He was in two such facilities in Arizona and then he was sent to the Veterans Hospital in Fort Baird, New Mexico. He was there for a couple of years before he died from this illness in November 1940. He never had married.
After Oliver and Ethel were married, Oliver’s brother John Percy lived with them for a while. When they remodeled their house, there was no longer any room for him so he moved in with his sister Phyllis and her husband. John Percy worked for several years for the Utah Idaho Central Railroad, the Union Pacific Railroad and the Utah General Depot in Ogden Utah. He served with the U. S. Army during World War II Being involved in several campaigns overseas. He spent a period of time while in the army, in Africa. He never married and died December 28, 1963 at the age of 61.
Oliver’s sister Phyllis married Ethel’s cousin, Charles Duane Baker. They lived for a while in Mendon, Utah and later moved to Logan, Utah where Phyllis still lives. They had one daughter. The daughter, as well as her husband have passed away.
Oliver’s mother’s health remained good until later in life. She died June 3, 1922 at the age of 47 of heart trouble and dropsy.
When Oliver was about sixteen years old, he started noticing the girls. Because he was attracted to her beautiful dark hair and brown eyes, he asked Ethel Ladle if he could walk her home from church. This started their courting, which lasted about four years. She was about the only girl he ever dated. The first night he took her home, Oliver told her he thought he could learn to like her a lot. Oliver had dark brown hair and blue eyes and stood about five foot ten inches tall and was of medium build weighing about 170 pounds.
Oliver and Ethel’s dates consisted mainly in attending or participating in church activities. There were lots of dances held in those days. Your dates were usually things that you could do in town, as you needed a horse and buggy to go any place else. Ethel loved to dance but Oliver never learned how, nevertheless he saw to it that she got to attend most of the dances and she always had a good time.
They were not engaged very long before they were married on September 19, 1913. This marriage took place at the Court House in Logan, Cache County, Utah. Oliver was twenty years old and Ethel had just turned twenty-one when they were married. A year and a half later on March 25, 1915 they were married and sealed in the Logan temple.
Their first home was on about First North and Main in Mendon, Utah. There was an old rock house built there. Bishop Hughes owned this house and had lived there with his first wife. Cliff Watkins was living in the house at the time Oliver and Ethel moved in. They rented the front room on the south side and lived in it the first winter. As they were living in just one room, that meant they ate and slept in the same room though it was a good sized room. They had to buy their own furniture for that room. They paid $65.00 for the stove. They also bought a table and six chairs and a cupboard to put their dishes in. They also purchased a bed. That was about all they needed to get along with then. Their first home had a well for water, and old wood stove and a coal cook stove. No electric stove or refrigerator. They bathed every Saturday night in an old metal tub in front of the stove. Their laundry was done with a tub and a washboard. They made most of their own laundry soap from animal fat and lye but they would buy the soap they used on their face and hands.
Ethel was a very good cook and a neat housekeeper. Her mother had taught all her girls to cook and clean house when they were young. Most of their meals were plain but good. Meat, potatoes, fresh vegetables in season. She had a real light hand with a jellyroll and we always enjoyed those. Everyone raised pigs in those days and they would butcher their own meat. They would grind the meat down and cure it for summer. A lot of people would also kill a beef. They prepared that for winter, canning some but often the weather would be cool enough to keep the meat from spooling without extra care. Oliver was always on hand to help Ethel with her canning.
Several of the young married couples liked to get together for parties and go to the weekly dances that were held at the church These dances were always well attended. There was a hometown orchestra that played for these dances for years. It consisted of Elmer Hancock, Herbert Whitney (Oliver’s neighbor), Annie Hughes, Lon Wood and John Gardner. They played piano, coronet, clarinet, fiddle and drums. It was a real good orchestra.
There was a red brick house that Uncle Joe and Aunt Alice Sorensen were living in with Bill Longstroth having the front two rooms. In the spring of 1914, Bill moved out and went to live on his ranch so Oliver and Ethel moved over there. They lived there from 1914 until 1917 when they bought the place that was called “Little Matts Place” which was just a half block north of Forsters, on the corner. Little Matts place had two rooms. It had running water inside but no electricity.
Things were quite rough during World War I (1914-1918). You had to get a permit to get anything you needed or wanted in the machinery line. Food was rationed. You had to get ration cards and present them to the store to buy certain foods. The US government got close to drafting Oliver to go and fight in World War I even though he was an Englishman, married for five years and had two children. This possibility of draft was because of the Allied Agreement between England and America to support each other in wartime. In 1918 when he was twenty-five years old, Oliver applied and received his United States citizenship papers.
In 1922 Oliver built on an extra room at Little Matts Place. In 1923 a larger house in town was put up for sale so Oliver and Ethel sold Little Matts Place and bought the larger one. They revamped the whole house. Made a bathroom out of an old pantry, lathed and plastered the kitchen and made a regular room out of it as if had been being used as it had been being used as just a summer kitchen. It sure made it nicer for Ethel when she canned all their fruits and vegetables. They always grew a large garden of vegetables. They would drive a horse and buggy or wagon and team to Brigham City, Utah for their peaches and other fruits. They had electricity installed when they revamped the house. They heated the house with a big coal stove in the front room. In the kitchen was a cook stove that had a reservoir on it for heating their water.
Oliver stayed working on Forsters farm with Robert until he and Ethel were married at which time he got a job working for the railroad. He went to work for the Oregon Short line. In those days you worked ten hour days, working 26 days straight, every day of the week. They were paid every two weeks. Oliver drew $42.00 for a whole month, which figures to be about $1.65 for a ten-hour day or sixteen and a half cents an hour. The work involved keeping the railroad track in shape by putting in ties when needed and raising the track. In the summertime the job included weeding out for four or five feet from the ends of the ties to prevent grass fires.
After the first two years, he went to Pocatello, Idaho and took an examination to be a section foreman. He worked one year as an extra foreman or relief foreman. The company planned to send Oliver up to Virginia City, Idaho to run a gravel pit for the summer but they changed their mind and sent the foreman from Cornish, Utah instead so Oliver ran the section from Cornish for about six months and then he was sent to Richmond, Utah for a week. Then he was sent to Oxford, Idaho for two weeks and then on to Swan Lake, Idaho for three weeks. Oliver and Ethel’s first child Fred was just a small baby at this time so Ethel stayed at home in Mendon with him and Oliver returned home on weekends, catching a train back out to his job on Sunday afternoon.
After he had the regular assignment of Oxford and Swan Lake, he was able to take Ethel and baby Fred with him for six months one time, as there was a vacant section house. After that assignment he was sent down t Deweyville, Utah for a week during the holidays.
After about four years with the Oregon Short line Railroad, a new electric railroad called Utah Idaho Central was installed through Mendon. They were paying better wages so in 1917 Oliver quit the Oregon Short Line and went to work for the UIC. He was given the foreman job in 1920 and had that responsibility for 14 years at which time the UIC Railroad ran into financial difficulties. They tried to solve his problem by cutting off every other section and Oliver’s section was one that was dropped. That was in December 1934. His family of young boys was running Robert Forsters farm so Oliver stayed at home and started farming again with them. In addition to Forsters farm, Oliver bought some land that connected with theirs and then he also bought forty acres up on the hill above town.
For several years while he was working for the railroad, Oliver did not farm but when Fred and Lester got big enough to harness the horses and hook them up he started farming again. They bought their first tractor and that was a little old model T Ford. They ran that for a year or two and then they bought a 22 Cat and used that for quite a few years. When it got worn out they bought a new Cat. That was about 1945. It was during World War II and they had to get a permit from the Cache County Farm supervisor in order to buy one. Equipment was hard to get and you had to really need one in order to get your purchase approved.
The boys always had lots of chores to do. There were always cows to be milked and calves to be fed. They kept a couple of pigs all the time that had to be fed. While Oliver was still on the railroad and leaving early to go to work, the boys always had to get up early themselves to do the chores before they caught the school train or bus which was at 8 a.m.
The boys always minded. They never had to be whipped. A good talking to usually kept them in line. They realized the work had to be done when their father was away and they got busy and kept it done up.
Ethel’s health had not been too good during her youth with her name often being on the alter at the temple, requesting a health blessing in her behalf, nevertheless she seemed to get along alright having her babies. Oliver and Ether were both sadly disappointed when their first child, a girl, was born prematurely, March 14, 1914, at six months and was dead on delivery. All their children were born at home. Doctor Hayward and his nurse would come from Logan when you called. He was with Ethel for all her deliveries then her mother Susanna Ladle would come and stay for nine or ten days when Ethel would take over.
Frederick Oliver was born February 23, 1916 in the red brick house. Lester John was born November 4, 1918 in Little Matts place. Ethel discovered she was going to have twins about two months before Ralph and Ray were born. She had gotten quite large during her pregnancy and she wasn’t a very large person normally. She carried them full term and on August 6, 1921 Ralph Alvin was born weighing eight pounds four ounces while Ray Orvin, the last born weighed seven pounds four ounces. As usual grandma Ladle came and helped out for ten days with the twins then when Ethel was up and about Oliver hired a daughter of George Muir’s to come and help out for a couple of months.
Oliver’s health was always pretty good. He was operated on for appendices in 1930. He took sick one night. Had a terrible stomach ache that lasted all that night and through the next day. It was so bad he had to stay off work. By the afternoon he felt his side getting sore so he had Ethel call the doctor in Wellsville and have him come down. Doctors made lots of house calls in those days. Oliver pretty well diagnosed his own problem so he wasn’t surprised when the doctor confirmed it. The doctor telephoned over to Logan to the hospital to let them now Oliver was being brought in. The doctor was already for him by the time they got there. President Shepherd came over to the hospital from the temple and gave him a blessing. He was promised he would not be sick from the ether and he wasn’t. He got along fine. He also had operations for a growth on a testical, a hernia and prostate gland.
Ethel had visited Lottie Richards in about 1927, when they had small pox and she contracted it. She was very sick. Their boys all caught it and were quite sick as well. Oliver did not catch it so he stayed at his mother in laws. This way he could continue to go to work. He would visit Ethel and the boys daily to see how things were going for them and if they needed anything. Of course he did not go inside, he just visited them through the doors or windows. They were sick or quarantined for about six weeks to two months.
Oliver started losing his eyesight at about sixty years of age. He quit driving his car when he was sixty-five after he nearly got hit when driving a tractor. He had pulled out of Fred’s yard onto the highway apparently right in front of a car, which really had to swerve to keep from hitting him. He did not want to get killed or have anyone else get hurt so he hung up his car keys.
His left hip started hurting and giving him a bad time in his early sixties but he figured he could live with that by resting it often rather than have it operated on and perhaps not being able to use it at all. Oliver and Ethel both got false teeth in their early sixties. Oliver lost his sweetheart companion on July 7, 1973.
Oliver was always active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He advanced through the Aaronic priesthood, fulfilling his duties. When eh became an Elder, He was a ward teacher and then he was in the Elders Quorum Presidency with Joseph Sorensen and Elmer Hancock.
In 1925, he was called to be ward Sunday school superintendent. That was a big surprise to him and he felt it was to everyone else in town. W. I. Sorensen had been the Sunday school superintendent for fifteen or twenty years. He was the chorister and everything. People liked him and he did a good job. The Stake Superintendent came down to have Oliver sustained. It was the very first Sunday of the year. There were six of the older ladies of the town that came and sat right on the front bench. When W. I. Sorensen was released these ladies, all raised their hands but when Oliver’s name was read for sustaining, they just sat there. When it as asked, “If there were any Opposed?” all six of them raised their right hand. That’s a very unusual situation. The authorities just let it go as majority rules. Even though their hands went up, they never quit going to Sunday school. Oliver did not feel they were against him its just that they did not want Brother Sorensen releases. They were always some of the best workers and always participated in class.
The Stake Sunday school superintendence gave a big banner every three months to the ward who produced the best record in Sunday school attendance and activity. The first year Oliver was superintendent; his ward won all four banners. At that time, all the towns in the south end of Cache Valley were combined into one stake, which was the Hyrum Stake.
In March 1926, after being Sunday school superintendent for a year, Oliver was called to serve in the Mendon ward bishopric as first councilor with Bishop Henry C. Sorensen and Elmer Hancock as second councilor. The three of them served together for a full fifteen years.
While they were serving, the Church Welfare Program was instigated. That was in 1935 or 1936. Apostle Harold B. Lee was at the head of that program. It was a big job to get that going in the ward but they had good turnouts. The City had twenty acres that they rented to the church. The Church is still (1978) renting that same property 45 years later ad continuing to grow crops.
Especially when he was in the bishopric, Oliver was active in temple work. At that time you did the complete endowment work, which took quite a while for each session. In later years, he continued doing temple work when possible and has always been a worthy recommend holder.
Also when in the bishopric, he was often called on to help administer to the sick. He recalls when Ethel Sorensen Walker was seriously ill for about two months. He was called on several times to assist with giving her a blessing.
After he was released from the bishopric, Oliver served on the Stake Genealogical Committee for a few years and then he was called to be ward High Priest group leader. He held that calling for about twenty years. Once while he was serving s the High Priest group leader, the ward had a special temple day appointment, Oliver and his councilors had twenty-two High Priests in attendance, which was quite a record. Oliver was called upon to speak in front of the audience in the chapel that day.
Oliver enjoyed singing and had a good tenor voice. He probably developed his music appreciation from his parents as they both had good voices. When he was in the bishopric, he sang in the choir for all those fifteen years. He cold change his voice and sing along with the women just as well as he could sing with the men. After he was released from the bishopric, he was so busy in farming that he did not like to take the time on Thursday night to go and practice. The choir sang in Sacrament meeting every week. Ethel Walker was the organist for quite a while then Ellen Ladle also helped at the piano and organ. W. I. Sorensen was the main choir director for many, many years.
In 1918 and 1920, Oliver served as a city councilman for the city of Mendon. During that time, Henry Stauffer applied for a permit to open up a pool hall in a building that used to be used for a dance hall. The permit was issued but it got so that after the pool hall closed at night, some people would stay and play cards, gambling so the city revoked the license and shut him up.
In 1932 and 1933 he was again on the city council. At this time there was a new reservoir installed and the water system enlarged. Oliver was also instrumental in getting the road from Wellsville through Mendon to Valley View Highway hard surfaced (oiled). That was about 1935.
The day the twins were born, August 6, 1921, Oliver bought his wife her first electric washing machine. It was a wooden cylinder with a wringer on it. The afternoon that the twins were born Oliver went to Logan to Evertons store and bought the washing machine. They delivered it promptly. It was after all the boys were grown and had left home that Oliver and Ethel got their first electric range and refrigerator.
Oliver bought his first car in 1932. It was a 1928-1929 Chevrolet. He had never driven a car before. The fellow he purchased the car from, taught him how to drive and take care of the car. You did not have to have a driver’s license in those days. Gasoline cost about 25 cents a gallon. In 1935 he traded in his first car and bought a new self-starting Chevrolet. That year, Oliver, Ethel, Fred and Lester along with Jemima and Isabelle Forster in their 1932 Plymouth, as well as Ethel’s mother Susanna Ladle and Ethel’s younger sister Clella Ladle, another sister of Ethel’s, Alice and her husband Joseph Sorensen, they all got in the two cars and drove up to Sugar City, Idaho where Ethel’s brother John Ladle lived (Ralph & Ray stayed home and took care of the cows and other chores). They all stayed at John’s overnight. In the morning, John along with his two sons Ralph and Eldon, got in their car and went along with Oliver and his group. They traveled over the mountain into Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Going over the mountain, the clouds were so low they could hardly see where they were going. From Jackson Hole, They traveled on into Yellowstone Park. They stayed in the park for a couple of days and then headed back for their homes. Oliver looks back on that trip as the best one he was ever on as they had so much fun.
Once in a while Oliver and Ethel would travel to Salt Lake City either to attend a church conference or to attend the State Fair. In 1941 Oliver traded in his 1935 Chevrolet and bought a Plymouth. In 1950, he traded that Plymouth in for another new Plymouth. He kept that car until he had to quit driving. He gave that car to his grandson Blaine Taylor who still has it in 1984.
In 1930, Oliver purchased a Philco radio. That was considered a pretty good item in those days. He liked to listen to programs like “The Squeaking Door,” “Amos and Andy” as well as the prize fights. If there was a championship fight to be broadcast, Oliver made sure he and the boys had their farm work done so they could be home in time to listen to it. That same radio is still in Olivers possession (1984).
In 1950, Oliver and Ethel made a trip to England to visit some of Oliver’s relations that he still had kept in contact with. There were some sisters of Oliver’s father in particular that he wanted to look up.
In making preparations for the trip, Oliver went into the Missionary Headquarters in Salt Lake City where they make the travel arrangements for the missionaries. Oliver talked to the man in charge. He happened to have four vacancies that he did not have enough missionaries for. Oliver tried to talk his sister Phyllis and his brother John Percy into going along but they could not arrange it, nevertheless Oliver and Ethel went along with the fifteen or sixteen missionaries who were traveling. The group traveled from Salt Lake City to Chicago in a special car on the train. They changed trains at Chicago and proceeded on to New Jersey where they changed to a ferryboat to travel to New York. A fellow joined them in Chicago. He helped all of them get on the ferry boat and he stayed with the group right into New York seeing that they got to their hotel. The hotel was twenty stories high. Oliver and Ethel were on the eleventh floor. The hotel was right in the center of New York City.
The next morning, the group boarded a ship for England. It took five days to reach England from New York. They sailed on the “Queen Elizabeth” which was the largest passenger ship afloat at that time. There was very little motion. They had taken their motion pills so they did not get sick. They disembarked at South Hampton and made their way to Barnsley where a relative met them. They traveled and visited relatives for nearly three months.
While in England, once he met up with a cousin, he discovered she was the little girl he had played with at one time when he had been visiting with his grandfather Taylor at the farm where he worked.
Along on this trip to England was a lady from Salt Lake City. She had been converted to the gospel in England twenty years before. She was going back for a visit. The first Sunday night they were in England, this woman talked Oliver and Ethel into going to church with her. She had two friends she was hoping to locate. Oliver, Ethel and the woman went to Sacrament meeting at the nearest chapel. Low and behold there were the ladies two friends who exclaimed that they rarely went to church but were surely glad they attended that night. That was quite inspirational to all of them. Quite a coincidence.
Oliver and Ethel stayed at a hotel in London for four days and visited around the city. The first night, they went to the stage play of “Oklahoma.” It was really good. There was a surrey and real horses right on stage during a lot of the singing.
The next day, they went on a tour that took them up to Buckingham Palace where they saw the Changing of the Guards. Every year they change the King and Queen’s guards. They had the Royal guards there and King George came out and went through inspecting them; then they were retired and the new guards marched in and took their place. It is a special ceremony every year and it just happened that Oliver and Ethel happened to be there at the right time to see this special event.
During their trip to England, they got acquainted with lots of Oliver’s relatives and he corresponded with several of them for many years after.
On their return trip, Oliver remembered to take his seasick pills but Ethel thought she could bet along without hers but the last two days on board ship, she really got sick. The nurse worked with her and got her feeling better by the time the ship arrived at New York harbor. They had had a good time but were very glad to get back to their own home. In England very few had any of the everyday conveniences such as refrigerator or washing machine so daily life was quite different.
When Oliver retired from farming, he turned the farm over to his eldest son Fred, who rented the land and later purchased it. Oliver enjoyed gardening and always had a large garden. The garden area progressively got smaller when his eyesight started to fail and he could not see well enough to tell the plants from the weeds. Family friends and neighbors all used to look forward to enjoying the corn he raised each year.
Oliver’s enjoyment of baseball continues. At the age of ninety, when there were ball games being played in the ball diamond across the street from his home, he would go over and join his brother-in-law, Jay Jensen in watching the games and eating hamburgers.
As well as his eyes will allow, he enjoys watching television. He especially likes to watch the news each night just before going to bed.
Oliver regularly attends church each Sunday. He only misses if the weather is bad or he has a bad cold. Usually he goes over to his son Fred’s home for Sunday dinner. Until his health got bad, his son Lester and his wife Bernice came over each Sunday afternoon to visit and they would bring him a loaf of homemade bread, which he enjoyed.
His health remains good in spite of his “Bum” hip, his failing eyesight and his poor hearing. He continues to live alone at the age of 91, doing his own housework and cooking with occasional help from his son Fred and his wife Melba. For several years, when needed, he would dog-sit Fred and Melbas poodle Bridget while they went fishing and or camping.