My Life Story

by Joseph Wilcken Pratt


On October 21, 1980, Daddy wrote a letter to each of his children. The first paragraph of this letter was as follows:

“I have decided to write my life story in a series of letters to my (our) children weekly, so if you are interested, file these letters, and if I live long enough you will have my life story. This will get a lot of people off my back..”

He then proceeded with the first in a series of letters that continued nearly weekly – with the last such letter being dated June 16, 1983. This letter was the special one which dealt with Don Luis Terrazas.

Some of the letters were rather hard to read, so I decided to transcribe them and print them so that the grandchildren can more readily read them and appreciate his life more. With only two exceptions, this story is taken directly from his letters. In one spot we have enlarged on one of his experiences with a little more detail, and this is enclosed in parentheses. The other exception is the account of the last couple of weeks of his life and of his passing.

Carl D. Pratt

My Life Story


Chapter One –

I was born January 10, 1905, to Healaman (sic) Pratt and Bertha Wilcken Pratt in Colonia Dublan, Chihuahua, Mexico on a windy day (or night). The wind blew the south gable to our adoby house in, in protest. I then got pneumonia and should have died, but was too honery (sic).

Of my life until I was about 5 years old I remember little but have been told a lot. I was my father’s and mother’s pet, so became very spoiled. My brother Ira told my mother, “Aunt Bertha, if you carry that boy up to bed every night you will still be able to when he is 21.”

I had my own saddle horse, but no saddle, before I was five. Had to use a mounting block or have help to get on him. We had a big broad-backed work horse. My big brothers used to lay me down on his back when I was small, and I couldn’t get up.

End of Chapter One.

Love to all, Joe


Chapter 2 –

My father died when I was four years old. Mother and Aunt Dora lived in the same house. Mother worked and Aunt Dora kept house. I didn’t hardly know which was my mother.

In 1912 we were forced to leave Mexico because of the revolution. The women and children went to El Paso, Texas. The men came later overland. My family did not stay in tent city as many did, but stayed at Dr. Jay’s home a short time. Grandfather Wilcken sent money for us to come to Salt Lake. There we lived in Grandfather’s home on 7th East and 6th South. Grandfather lived with Aunt May, mother’s sister, next door. I went to school at the Webster School. We marched in every morning to the tune of Stars And Stripes Forever every day. Mother taught in Kaysville or some little town near there. Aunt Dora kept the house. My single sister also taught and helped keep the family. I learned about winter sports in the snow that winter.

The next year [1914] Aunt Dora and Harold went back to Dublan. Mother taught in Clinton, up near Ogden and the lake. She rented a house in a field planted to tomatoes. We were allowed to pick all the tomatoes we could use until frost. That winter us boys would get a boy on a horse with a long rope, get on our ice skates and go all around on the hard packed snow holding on to the rope – 10 or 15 boys on the rope. After school was out in the spring, Mother, Emerson, and I moved back to Dublan and lived with Aunt Dora and Harold in the old home. I was baptized in the tabernacle [in Salt Lake City before we went back to Mexico].

Love to all of you, Joe


Chapter 3

By the time we got back to Dublan, the revolution had deteriorated. Madero had been assassinated, and his generals each wanted to be head man. Their armies were ununiformed rabel (sic). The story, true or false, illustrates. The red flaggers (Oroszco) captured a Chinaman and asked for the pass word (“Quien vive?”). The Chinaman [answered,] “Vive Villa.” Wrong. They whipped him and turned him loose. Another day Villistas caught him. (“Quien vive?”) “Vive los colorados.” Wrong. They whipped him and turned him loose. Another day another party caught him. “Quien vive?” Chinaman: “De tu primero” (you say first).

My life was uneventful, going to school and an occasional fight with my good friend, Waldo Call, my nephew and my age. Neither of us ever won a decisive victory.

Villa had his army in Dublan and vicinity getting ready to move against Agua Prieto, just across the line from Douglas, Arizona. Our school house and church was on the north-west corner of one block, just across the street was the tithing office, behind it was a grainery (sic) and in the middle of the block a large hay-barn. Villa had ammunition and explosives stored in the grainery. The gard (sic) had a fire in front of the grainery door. Our Bishop warned them that the fire was to (sic) close to the door. His caution was disregarded, and one wintry morning about 6 a.m., it blew up. The grainery disintegrated, the tithing office damaged, all the windows in town broken, and about 50 soldiers killed, and a large no. [number] wounded. If it had happened 2 hours later we would have been in school jus (sic) across the street. As it was no Mormons were hurt, but 13 of our horses that had been confiscated were killed. A short time later the army left and left the horses dead in the middle of town. The men and boy of town found a light wagon and hould (sic) straw and wood in to burn them. The town smelled of burning horse meat for days. There were no horses to pull the wagon [so we had to pull it ourselves].

Love to all, Joe

P.S. I am okay. The Project is doing fine. I love you, Joe.


Chapter 4 –

Villa’s defeat in Agua Prieta and his flight to his old mountain haunts left Dublan without any law for three days, until Caranza troops came in. Looting by soldiers and natives was the thing to do, as there was no law. The colonists in dublan gathered three or four families in the larger homes and prepared to defend themselves as best they could. The Robinson home was destroyed by fire. The people who were in the home came through the fields to other occupied homes. Fortunately no one was hurt phisicaly (sic). The Cardon home was set afire but was not destroyed. After three days Caranza troops came in and things calmed a bit. There were three families in our home and we had armed ourselves as best we could. Fortunately, we were not molested.

After the explosion at the tithing grainery (sic) there were lots of bent up rifle shells scatered about, bent up but not exploded. In the middle of the block where the school house was, was a building that had been started, but the basement and walls up about 4 feet was as far as the work got before the revolution. Us boys would gather up a bucketful of bent shells, build a fire in the corner of the basement and dump the shells over the edge and into the fire, and a barrage of exploding shells would result. This went on at recess, at noon, or after school. The Caranza troops in near by Nueva Casas Grandes, hearing the explosions, thought Villa was surely coming and made a hasty retreat a time or tow (sic) before they found out what was hapening (sic). When they did, the Bishop had a hard time keeping us out of trouble.

Love, Joe


Chapter 5 –

It was about this time we bought a burro, there being no horses to ride. That burro threw the first person to get on him, so we named him Satan. He would throw a person and then try to kick him but wouldent (sic) run off. One holiday the town was gathered at the town square. I was going there on Satan; he threw me off about 12 times in 4 blocks. I got down to the square and the older boys wanted to show off for the girls. They got an old saddle from some place, put it on Satan, and one of them got on him. Satan threw him, saddle and all, right in front of the girls. We thought Satan needed a rest so we put him out to pasture. Someone stole him. Good riddance.

About a year after Villa’s defeat at Agua Prieta he raided Columbus, New Mexico, Burned the town and took supplies, guns, ammunition, etc., and headed back south to his old haunts. His route would take him right through Dublan, where 30 or 40 families of Americans lived. He had 3 Mexicans hung at Corralitos, just north of Dublan, because they worked for an American co. [company]. He knew the U.S. Army would be after him, so he approached Dublan about 2 a.m. Knowing he would probably be coming that way and we were defenselless (sic), the Bishop advised the people to go home [pray,] and go to bed as usual, and all would be well. Villa got to within 1/2 mile of town, when he changed his route and went east of town instead of through it. Some say he thought he saw the town lights and armed men patrolling the streets. In any case it was a miracle that saved Dublan that night. Villa coudant (sic) see how a person could be an American and a Mormon at the same time. That may have saved us, but anyway it was a miraculous deliverance.

The next day we saw a dust at the point a Pajarito Mountain and a group of us boys on burros or on foot went down to where the road crossed the river and met a company of U.S. soldiers. All negroes except the officers, who were white. (Segregation). One soldier came over to where we were and ask, “Do you all know Pancho Villa?” Someone replied yes. Soldier: “If I see him I am going to shoot him.” One of the older boys replied, “If you catch Villa, you will be like the nigger that caught the bear. You will be hollering for someone to help you turn him loose.” The negro got real mad and said we don’t even use that there name among ourselves.”

These were the first of General Purshing’s army who spent about a year chasing Villa and never did catch him. The only fight they had was 2 companies of cavalry and some Caranza troops.

Love to all, Joe


“We started at the border and charged to Parsal. We were after Pancho Villa and Lopez, his old pall (sic). Our horses were starved and dieing (sic), and we lived on parched corn. Oh, it’s damn hard living in Chihuahua, where Villa was borne.” This soldier-poet analyzed the U.S. Army punitive expedition into Mexico quite right. Villa’s horses and men could, and did, live off the land. The U.S. depended on transport for both. The truck convoys we (sic) [were] always breaking down on the dusty durt (sic) roads. The four mule teams on high wheeled army wagons were more reliable, but slower.

I was just a kid, 10 or 11 years old, but I remember going to Aunt Theresa Call’s (the Bishop A. B. Call’s wife) to Sunday dinner with the Call boys when General John J. Pershing came to dinner as the bishop’s guest. They became close friends.

A good many Mormon men were drafted into scout service with the Army because they knew the country and Spanish language. My brother Ira was one of them. When he reported to the captain, the captain said, “Go over to the quarter masters and get your army clothes.” Ira: “Thanks, I will wear my own clothes. I am not going as an inlisted man.” Captain: “You will be given an army horse and saddle.” Ira: “I will take my own horse and saddle, also a pack mule.” Capt.: “No pack mule.” Ira: “I won’t go then.” He finally got his way, including pack mule. Most of the other scouts reacted the same to Army regulations and equipment. A good many horses which Villa had taken came back, given out and sore backed, and we bought them back cheap.

Columbus, N.M., which Villa had raided, realy (sic) came to life, being the main entry-way for the U.S. Army. The saying was Columbus discovered America, but Villa discovered Columbus.

The Army’s main camp was located just north of Dublan. Some of the first areoplanes the Army had were sent down. There the first 10 all cracked up – eather (sic) landing at Dublan or wherever they tried to land. Navigation was crude. They later had 6 two-seaters, which gave fair service.

More later.

Love to all of you, Joe.

I’ll see you in January. You know you are always welcome at Carl’s. Joe


Chapter 6 –

I take time out to honor my mother. Mother was a well educated woman. She held a Bachelor’s degree from the U. of U. [University of Utah] and had many years of experience teaching, all the way from first grade to college – over 50 years all told. She had a beautiful reading voice and used to read us boys to sleep, often far into the night, as we loved to listen to her read. The town allso (sic) loved to hear her. Adrian Wagner, a diamond in the rough, said after he was mature, “Aunt Bertha Pratt is the only teacher I ever had the (sic) [that] taught me a damn thing.” Mother polished a small part of a rough stone. Mother taught us to pray, pay our tithes and offerings, honesty, etc. I love her dearly. Allso (sic) her sister, Aunt Dora, the homemaker, house keeper, cook, etc. They raised us well. Our faults are not their fault.

Most of the colonists especially Dublan had been involved with the U.S. Army. When they were withdrawn in January 1917, most of the Dublan people and many of the others, including Mexican nationals who had worked for the army, came to the U.S. right along with the Army, fearing reprisal from Villa who was still loose and very active. There was a wagon train more that [than] a mile long. Mother and Aunt Dora went to El Paso via train. The rest of us went overland by team or horseback. I was just a kid, not yet 12 years old, with the reputation of being a mama’s boy, spoiled and expecting to be waited on. That trip to [took] that out of me. I learn[ed] to buck the chow line with the best. The first night out we camped in a grove of cottonwood trees down by the river. The wind was blowing 90 to nothing. We didn’t know what a sleeping bag was. Our bed was quilts and blankets spread on a canvas sheet then the other end of the sheet drawn up over the top. The wind kept blowing the canvas and covers off in spite of saddles, sand, etc., piled around the edges. About 2 a.m., after no sleep, I got up, got a shovel, and, clearing the hot ashes away from the last evening’s camp fire, I made a nice warm hole where I was comfortable for a while.

More next.

Love to all, Joe


I had two saddle horses to take care of on this trip, both had saddles. One was a nice easy-gated (sic) mare called silver bell and the other was a bay gelding, a pacer and very rough. He would twist a person half in two and jolt him an inch shorter in a day. his name soffentater [????]. I had a 22 caliber rifle and plenty of bullets. I would get some kid my age to take the rough one, and we would go rabbit hunting, catching up with the others at meal-time and night. I would never get the same kid to (sic) successive days–the horse was too rough.

Joe Memot had some turkeys in a crate, and they got out that first night and got high up in a cottonwood tree. The men shot them out the next morning, so we ate turkey all the way to the border. We traveled about 10 to 12 miles a day. One evening I was catching up with the wagon train when I saw a wagon with a Mexican family broken down. A rear wheel had broken. It was pulled by a team of burros. Those people thought surely they were left, when the Army rear guard came along, lashed a post under the hub, tied ropes to the end of the tongue with six cavalry horses pulling. They gave those people a rough ride into camp, with the burros skidding their feet in protest.

We left the Army at Columbus, [New Mexico,] and traveled east to Meciller Park [????] on the Rio Grande. We left the horses and wagons there at Corralitos Ranch and went on to El Paso, Texas.

I don’t remember why, but my brother Rey was there and had just bought a new 4-cylinder Dodge touring car and was returning to Manasas, Colorado, where he had the mission home. He was president of the Mexican Mission, which included all of Spanish-speaking America. The revolution had stoped (sic) all missionary work in Mexico, so the USA was his field of operation. I remember it was January and still winter. We bucked snow from Santa Fe to Manasas. The car had no heater, and I liked to froze on that ride. I spent the rest of the school year at Manasas. The only thing I remember learning was diagramming sentences, which I learned poorly and have since forgoten (sic).

After school was out and we had planted a patch of potatoes for Rey, we got in the Dodge and started for El Paso. The weather was much milder. There was Rey driving, his sons Rolph, Carl, and Trucy and I riding. I was in the back seat Rolph on one side and Trucy on the other. The road was just dirt and not very smooth. Rey had found a little smooth road and gotten up to about 30 mph, when he hit an unexpected bump. We all went up. Rolf landed where I had been, I where Trucy had been, and Trucy outside the car. It took us some time to get Rey’s attention. When we got stopped here came Trucy, screaming wate (sic) for me; wate (sic) for me! He wasn’t hurt, just frightened.

Ira had rented a hay farm at [Shambrino], New Mexico, and Mother, Emerson, and Harold were with him. I spent the rest of the summer there. that fall we went back to Dublan. Mother taught school again.

Love to all, Joe.


Before I leave Chamberrino (sic), there are a few things that may be of interest. The 22 rifle which I carried from Dublan had become leaded (a lead from a bullet had lodged in the barrel). Emerson devised a method of getting it out. He took the powder from a .30/.30 shell and put it in the barrel, took the lead from a 22 bullet and used the cap in the gun, tied the gun in the crotch of a tree, tied a string to the trigger, got behing (sic) a wall and pulled the string. The explosion got the lead out OK, also the breach, handle, and trigger guard blown off. The gun was no longer of any value.

I joined the Boy Scouts of America as a pioneere (sic) scout with the El Paso Council.

Aunt Dora was with Amy in Kaysville, Utah. Emerson went up there to be with them and go to school. Mother, Harold, and I went back to Dublan in the fall – Mother to teach school again. The old school house church house had burned down, so we held school and church in the tithing office until the men completed the Relief Society building out across the railroad on the edge of the flat. It had been under construction at the time the colonists left in 1912. The men finished it, then it served as church house and school for years. It wasn’t adequat (sic) but was the best we had. On cold winter nights it seemed a long way out, especially on foot to a party, dance or some other activity. We had to make all our own recreation. It was here that Mother taught Adrian Wagoner a few things.

We had not been back long when they had stake conference in Colonia Juarez. Brother Oscar Kirkham of the Seven Presidents of the Seventy and MIA General Board was there and wanted to get scouting started. He had found out some way that I was a registered scout and made a big thing of it.

Love to all, Joe


1917. We were back in Dublan that fall – Mother teaching, Harold wanting to farm but no horses – me just going to school. Ira had taken some horses to Verden, Arizona, and Harold went there to get some. He came back with Cropy, Gacho, Mollie, and Chula. The day he got back the rumor that Villa was nearby and would probably come in was rampant. Harold decided to take the horses to the horse camp in the mountains for hiding. About 10 p.m. I was leading a team around the corner of the barn when I walked into it seamed (sic) 6 or 8 rifles pointed at the vicinity of my belt buckle. I thought it was Villistas, but it turned out to be a patrol of Caranzistas who stoped (sic) to see what was going on. They told us not to leave town with the horses and went their way. As soon as they were gone, Harold disregarded their warning and took the horses down through the fields then on to the horse camp.

Emerson had gone to Kaysville, Utah to be with Aunt Dora and Amy and go to school there. I was ordained a Deacon. I don’t remember the date or by whom. The certificates of all my ordinations are in the Book of Remembrance which is at Kathy’s at present. After school was out in 1918, Emerson came home, and Harold joined the U.S. Army and went into training at Utah State Agri [Agricultural] College at Logan, Utah. Emerson was the farmer at home and he made a deal with the troops at Nueva Casas Grandes to get three mules. Two of them were little line-backed duns and would run every time they were hooked to the wagon. Emerson would get them hooked to the wagon and I would stand at their heads while Em got seated on the wagon and gave me a signal. I would step aside and try to catch the rear of the wagon as it went by. This went on as long as we had them. That fall of 1918 the epidemic of flu occurred and many people died of it or its sequel, pneumonia. It nearly got Harold in Logan. Aunt Dora and her expert nursing pulled him through. The Armistus (sic) was signed the 11 of November of that year, and Harold was mustered out without having gone overseas. All our family that were home had the flu except me, but none were seriously sick.

About this time or a little before, all the folks except me were over in Juarez to something or other. A man named McLaughlin came to town, and there being no hotel, gravitated to our house. I made him as comfortable as I could and more or less nursed him until the folks got back the next afternoon. He was ill. He had sold the colonists two stallions, a French coach and a Perchon on joint notes and was there to try to collect. By that time the revolution had taken the horses and the people on the note [were] scattered all over the southwest. I don’t know if he got any money or not, but he canceled the Pratt part of the notes. I guess he kind of liked me, as he wanted to take me back with him, offering to keep me and get me through college. Of course Mother would have none of that.

I worked quite hard on scouting and got up to Life scout, then lost interest or other things became more important to me.

Love to all of you, Joe.


By present standards our life in the colonies was primitive. Water came into the house via water bucket from an open well or pitcher pump outside the house. Lighting was coal oil lamps whose chimneys had to be cleaned dayly (sic). Heating and cooking fuel was wood chopped and carried in from the wood pile. Bathing was a no 2 tub in front of the kitchen stove in the winter or any room in the summer. Hot water came from the kitchen stove. Some stoves had hot water reservirs (sic). Flat irons heated on the stove for ironing. Clothes washing was a rubbing board a clothesboiler over a fire outside and home made soap. Potty was a Chick Soles [shanty] in the back corner of the lot – usuley (sic) a two-holer. None of the electrical gadgets for the housekeeper. Yet Aunt Dora and Mother kept the house clean and plenty of good food on hand. Aunt Dora used the evaporative cooler to keep milk and leftovers cool. She had a box frame made with open sides which she covered with flannel, with a pan of water sitting on the top and blotters filtering water onto the flannel. There was always cold milk from it and cookies or pie from the cupboard ready for us to snack on. We were happy, perhaps because we didn’t know any better.

It was about this time I went on my first duck hunt with Emerson. I had borrowed an old 10 g [gauge] shotgun with a hair triger (sic). The ducks were on a recently irrigated alfalfa field. We crawled down a ditch to within range of the ducks. Emerson had told me, “When I get up, you get up and shoot.” We did that, except when I got up my gun went off before I sighted. Emerson was standing legs apart, and my shot went between his legs, riddling his pant legs from knee to foot. We were grown before Mother found out what happened to those pants. Boy, it scared me and does yet to think of it. I usualy (sic) went hunting alone after that.

Dr. Gay was an MD who had contracted consumpsion (sic) and came to Mexico to see if the pure air and high country would help him. After considerable time roughing it in the mountains, his TB was arrested, and he came to Dublan to set up an office and practice there. He became a very good friend of the Pratts and boarded with us for many years during the revolution. He and O. P. Brown went duck hunting one time and took me along as retriever. They weren’t very good hunters so I didn’t do much retrieving. Dr. Gay after the revolution became head of the medical department for A S & A Co., with smelters in Chihuahua City, Monterey, San Luis Potosi, and other locations in Mexico.

Our school principal, W. Ernest Young, went to the Academy in Colonia Juarez as a teacher, and Mother was Principal in Dublan. (Chico) Albert Jones, a bachelor farmer also boarded with us. We had about 8 cows to milk and it seemed that I did more than my share of milking. Chico promised to help me one time, then didn’t come at milking time. It made me very unhappy.

I also had to get the cows off the flat east of town when the feed out there was good – usually in the later summer and fall. Sometimes they were hard to find, especially if I was on foot.

My love to all of you, Joe.


Yesterday I turned 76 so I am old enough to know better than to write my life story, but here goes.

In the fall of 1919, I started in the Juarez Stake Academy. Aunt Theresa Call (Bishop A. B. Call’s first wife) moved to Juarez, renting a house, and Emerson and I boarded with them. There was Anson, Charles Gaius, Waldo Call, and Emerson and I that first year. Aunt Theresa treated us all as she would her own. In fact she became as another mother to me. There were no school buses at that time so we had to board out.

Lucian Mecham was Principal. It was his first year of teaching and he seemed very young, but we soon learned that he was a no-nonsense man and a good administrator and teacher. Brother Ernest Young taught Spanish, Maggie Gamel taught piano and English, Reed Gamel taught music, chorus, voice, etc. This was the Gamel’s first year teaching after graduating from BYU. They had us all thinking we were musical. They staged a light opera each year they were there, culminating with “The Bohemian Girl,” which was quite heavy for a high school. They trained Viva Skousen and she served as accompanist for all their coral (sic) music.

I don’t remember any other teachers that first year. I used to walk home once in a while. It was 15 miles, quite good exercise. The next year Arthur Pratt was added to the faculty. [He] played the violin beautifully. I remember we used to beg him to play something at recess or noon or after school. His usual response was “My violin has a cold so I can’t play it”. We persisted so he made a noise on it just like a kid with a cold. I don’t remember anything in particular that happened that first year so I will go on to the next year in next letter.

Love to all of you, Joe


My second year at the academy was about the same as the first. I again boarded and roomed with Aunt Theresa Call. The local cowboys, Mexicans, had two cow ponies they thought were quite fast, so they staged a race. They scraped out a half mile track down below Juarez on the flat land, made their wagers and trained their horses. The race was scheduled for a Sunday afternoon. We found out when it would be and went down there kind of quiet because it was Sunday and kind of no-no anyway. They ran the race and one horse won easily. The wagers were paid off and everything was peaceable.

Oscar Bluth had a thoroughbred mare that didn’t look like much but was of racing stock. A Mexican who worked for Bluth borrowed her and rode her up to the race. After the ponies ran he said, These ponies are sure slow. I have an old plow mare that can beat the winner.” He talked up a race and a bet. They ran and the mare beat easily. A cowboy, realizing what the deal was, got quite angry, rode up to this guy from Bluth’s and hit him over the head with a six gun. He had to go to El Paso to get his head fixed.

Reed Gamel staged the operetta “Pauline” that year, as well as having a chorus, girls chorus, mens chorus and starting a band. I, like most everyone, thought I could sing and was in all the music except girls chorus.

Scouting was not well organized so Vilan Call and I made several overnight hikes into the mountains west of Juarez. We took a burro to pack our things instead of a back pack.

The third year I did not go to school, but stayed home to do a little farming, etc. My brother Ira and Dave Brown went out to the Ojitos Ranch and bought 30 overgrown and unbroke saddle horses and brought them into Dublan to break for work horses. They were all mean and hard to handle. We broke them all out and sold them, except one team, High Tower and Scaffold. They never did get over their meanness. Never could be trusted, but were tough and good workers. High Tower had been ridden a few times and called broke, so I picked him to ride over to the field where the horses were pastured and take them to water. He gave me a bad time. I walked as much as I rode because I couldn’t get on him and sometimes couldn’t stay on him if I did get on.

Take care. I love you all, Joe.

[missing this letter from our files]

I forget the sequence of events or the dates thereof. I was plowing the 30 acre field across the river from Dublan. It was quite distant from home by team and wagon, so I was camped in a narrow lane near the field. I had a covered wagon and was parked close to the fence on one side of the lane. It was Saturday afternoon and I was to go home that evening. I don’t remember what horses I had except for one line-backed dun mare, a mustang Harold had acquired somewhere. She was mean as sin and tough as a boot. A thunder storm was coming up so I unhooked from the plow and drove one team to the wagon, leaving the others to follow. I had just gotten the team hooked to the wagon when the storm broke, so I got into the wagon where it would be dry. One lightning flash was so near that it shocked me, even in the dry wagon bed. It jolted the team but didn’t hurt them much. After the storm the other team hadn’t come in so I went back to find them. About 50 yards back they were both dead. They had turned tail to the wind, which left their heads over the fence. The lightning had apparently struck the fence and charged it, killing both horses. The dun mare was one of them.

That fall I went back to school. Having made up some work during the year I was out, and taking a heavy course that year I was able to graduate with my class in the spring of 1923. The school year was about the usual – walking home or bumming a ride now and then. Aunt Theresa was the usual good mother.

One Sunday afternoon I was sitting on the back porch of the Ivins home, which the Calls had rented. Lorna Call was with me and I was cleaning my 22 rifle when a mongrel dog came out of the barn with an egg in his mouth. I threw a shell into the rifle, shot and hit the egg-thief, but he ran off, went across the street to Miles Romney’s house and died on his front porch. Miles some way found out who had shot his “thoroughbred dog” and raised a big fuss about it. In the first place a thoroughbred is a breed of race horses, anything else would be a true blood if he rated a proper ancestry. I doubt if this dog had any such. Anyway Miles made such a fuss about it that I finally got him another dog of equal lineage or better and the thing was settled except for the rumblings.

I had decided to go to college. My sister Amy was librarian at the Utah State College of Agriculture at Logan, Utah. So I decided to go there. Amy thought she had the promise of a job for me at the college dairy so I went to Utah right after school was out. Went up with Rey and family, went to Dill Young [S. Dillworth Young] and my sister Gladys’ wedding in Salt Lake, then on to Logan to find I had no job waiting.


I had a good five days with Florence, Eric, and girls. Last week’s letter found me in Logan. My promised job wasn’t there and I had the summer was before me and no job was waiting. I don’t remember how, but I got a job as a laborer at Alexander, Idaho so I went up there. Utah Power and Light was building a power plant on the Bear River and this job was at the dam in the river to get water power. About 8 of us were back-filling against some concrete. We would load dirt on a flat car that ran on rails, push it up to the concrete then shovel it off. I was just a big old country boy and didn’t know the score. I was doing more than any other two on the job. We were working night shift. After several nights I got fed up with doing most of the work so I said “I’m going to rest while you guys unload this time” and went off to the side and sat down. About this time the foreman came around and got on me for sitting down. That made me angry as I had been doing more than my share so I told the foreman about that. He said, “We don’t sit down to rest.” I said, “I do.” The foreman: “You want to quit?” Me: “No, you fire me.” Foreman: “No.” Me: “Well, then, I’m going to whip you if you don’t.” The foreman wrote my check out. I did know that if I quit I would have to wait 5 days for my pay. If I was fired, they had to pay me at once. Well, I was out of a job. I went to McCamon Junction and got a job thinning beets. The first half day I stooped the second half I crawled, and the third half I quit. I was sitting in the park in McCamon wondering what to do when a young fellow on a motorcycle stopped. We talked a while, then he asked if I knew where he could get a job. I suggested thinning beets but he wanted a ranch job. So we went over to the hardware store and asked the man there where we could get a job on a ranch. He said “Call A. J. Knolan, Idaho Livestock Company, Pocatello.” We did and A. J. said Sure. Go down to Soda Springs, find our ranch and tell Jim Hansen that I sent you up. So we did and went to work. This boy on the motorcycle was named Rubideau if I remember right. He had just got out of the Navy at Seattle, Washington and was going back to his home in New York or someplace back east. He didn’t even know which side of a horse to get on, but Jim was patient and I taught him what I knew. Before the summer was out he became a good horseman and a fair cowboy. After we had been there a while Jim put me to irrigating. There was a spring on the place and they had a large alfalfa field to water. Later I was sent out to move camp for their sheep heard (sic). Jim drew me a map on a slip of brown paper on how to get there and I found the herd without any trouble. They were on the Caribou National Forest east of Soda Springs.

My love to all of you, Joe.


Life moving camp for the sheep herd was not hard. All I had to do was keep the camp wagon clean, cook for the herder and myself and move the camp every few days. The herder would butcher a yearling weather about every two weeks and I would take half of it to the ranch, get supplies for the camp and return. I would listen to the beaver down on their pond and try to see them, cook and eat mutton – half a mutton every two weeks for two men. (ug). [Ugh] The latter part of August when they started to move the herd from the forest Jim sent me down to the Blackfoot River pastures to feed some bucks. There were about 100 cotswold and Lincoln bucks and 25 hamshire buck lambs. The old buck were always fighting. The lamb[s] would want to fight them but would [lose] courage just before the head bump, and turn and run. Every tow (sic) or three days I would have to go out and move the camp for the herd. They didn’t move very fast as the feed was good and they wanted to get all of it they could.

The first part of September I went back to Logan to start school. I registered with a math deficiency, as I hadn’t taken any math in high school. I was supposed to make it up, which I promptly forgot to do. (More about this later). I got a job sweeping floors in Old Main at 15 cents per hour. I swept the halls and some offices, sweeping around furniture and sometimes professors. Later that year I got a job in the Jim [gym], checking out and in baskets of Jim (sic) clothes and equipment. This paid 25 cents an hour. Some raise, no. I got the six o’clock hour and this developed into a six to closing time shift, which would be from 8 o’clock to 12. When we closed I would check things over and lock up. Clubs and Boy Scout troops would rent the jim (sic) and pool and I had to be a kind of life guard and watchman for them. I held this job for the rest of my time in school.

I lived with Aunt Dora and Amy. They had one other boarder, Filford [Wilford] Hansen from Richfield. We became very good friends.

The UAC is a land grant college, therefore two years of ROTC is required and all of us hated it except those taking the four year course. One winter day we were drilling on the quadrangle. We were in a column of squads and the cadet officer gave us double time to warm us up. When we got to the end of the field the officer gave us column left without slowing us down. There was a light snow on the ground (very slick). Filford and I were one and two man in the first squad. When we tried to turn we both slipped and fell, piling up the most of the columns.

My love to all of you, Joe.


I spent last weekend in the Gila General Hospital with a kidney stone they said. Anyway it hurt like ( ). I got out Monday everthing is all wright (sic).

Last letter I had just related about piling up the platoon in ROTC drill. That happened once more downtown. He gave us collum (sic) left and headed us towards a big building, then couldn’t remember how to stop us or turn us. We finally had to stop, as the building was too big to go through its wall.

Wilford Hansen and I became good friends, but the second year he went on a mission to Great Britain and I was gone when he got back. He came back, majored in forestry and worked for the forest service for a long time. I saw him briefly some 35 years later in Willcox, Arizona.

About this time I became interested in wrestling, read all the books the library had on the subject. I did better studying them than my regular school work. I allso (sic) started to work out in the jim (sic). There was a fellow named Victor Terry who knew the game quite well and he liked to work with me. He would use the most punishing holts [holds] which I did not know the defense fore. He realy (sic) gave me a bad time. When I was a Senior he came back to school and I got it all back on him, with interest.

After the first year Aunt Dora went back to Mexico. Amy and I had various apartments and finally ended up on 6th East, across the street from the Mortician Lundquist. Verna Lundquist and Amy became good friends and were together a lot. They used to try to doctor me when I had a cold. I never did like to be doctored except by Doctors and sometimes not even then.

All my love to all of you, Joe


In June 1924 I went back to Soda Springs, thinking I would have a job with Idaho Livestock Co. They had gone broke, so I had no job and could find none there. In Logan we had a Jim Bridger day coming up and all the men were wearing some kind of whiskers. I had a set of sideburns that were quite imposing. I started down the street in Soda Springs. A little boy fell in behind me, then another, then more. Suddenly they all began “Bah, Bah,” taking me for a sheep herder, I guess. Anyway I was quite embarrassed and shaved them off as soon as I could. The skin underneath was untanned and sunburned in the June heat.

I went on down to Kokeville, [Cokeville] Wyoming where sheepshearing was in progress and tried to get a job moving camp or herding. (No job). I had enough money to ride the train back to Montpelier but not for hotel room and meals. I decided to ride my thumb and sleep in a room. I got a ride and came into town in a slow rain. Got supper and a bed and some prunes and had 3 cents left.

The next morning I got up, ate the prunes and started toward the railroad yards. I met a man with very large feet, a switchman from the railroad yards. I asked him where I could find a job. He said “Go down to the stock yards and ask for Jean Stewart. A man quit yesterday and you might get on.” They had just finished loading a string of cars with sheep. I saw a man coming out of the alley and asked for Mr. Stewart. “I’m Jean Stewart. What can I do for you?” I said I needed a job. He said “Do you know anything about sheep?” I answered I can’t hardly tell a sheep from a goat. He said “Hired. $65 a month and board and room. Have you had breakfast?” I said yes. Mrs. Stewart heard me and knew I had not had breakfast, so she took me to the kitchens and fed me. I worked there until [I] left when school started again.

Love to all of you, Joe.


The stock yard at Montpelier did mostly feed-in-transit work – unload, feed, water and rest the stock, reload and send them on east to market. We handled mostly sheep or lambs from the northwest U.S. I soon got the hang of the work and got along fine. There were 10 to 12 of us. We worked when the stock came – be it 2 or 36 or 40 hours. We put in some long shifts. Jean Stewart was with us all the way. One shift we handled 145 double deck cars of sheep. Jean had been a cowboy on the Arizona strip. He knew, rode with, and became a good friend of Zane Grey, the writer of westerns. Jean had a cowboy’s dislike for sheep, which he had to overcome when he got into the stockyard business. He was one of the best sheep counters in the country. A. J. Nolen took first place counting at a national livestock show, but he said after watching Jean count that he wouldn’t even get in the alley with Jean. That first summer was hard, but I liked it. We handled over 3/4 million head of sheep.

Sometime during the summer a carnival came to town and two of us went to see it. We were watching the show, acrobats or something, when a vender came by with peanuts, chewing gum and candy. A little kid on the bench just below us bought 10 cents worth, gave the man a dollar which the man pocketed and started off without giving the kid his change. The kid hollered for his change but the man just said “Shut up” and started off. My buddy and I got up, cocked our fists and told him to give the boy his change, which he did when he saw we meant business.

My love to all, Joe


About the first of September I returned to Logan for another school year. The frost had nipped the vegetation on the mountains and they were ablaze with autum (sic) colors – very pretty.

I learned the year before that it was cheaper to be a Utahan as for as tuition, so I registered from Logan, Utah. I still had my job in the jim (sic) 6 p.m. to closing every night except Sunday at 25 cents per hour. My evenings you see were quite well filled, so I didn’t do any dating. Didn’t even want to very bad. I really got into wrestling, but got beat by Butch Knolis, the football star for the team. However, I liked the sport. I had tried football, but not having had any training in high school I didn’t do very good. Anyway it took up more time than I had to spare. I was still after a major in An. [Animal] Husbandry, minor in Dairy Manufacturing. Amy rented a rather large apartment and two girls and another boy (Joe McClellan) lived with us. Joe was quite musical and the son of a carpenter and builder. He bought a musical saw and used to make music on it.

The college had two stalions (sic) – one thoroughbred (race horse) and one gaited horse. The dean got a boy from Arizona to exercise the gaited horse and me the thoroughbred. The Arizona cowboy would put the little English saddle on his horse and ride up through the campus where all the girls (people) could see him. I would take to the back roads and up the canyon. One day Arizona cowboy had his horse all saddled and ready to go and had his foot in the stirrup ready to mount when a team of geldings hooked to a manure spreader came around the corner of the barn. The horse took after them, leaving Arizona cowboy on his seat on the ground. By the time we got the horses untangled they had knocked the pigpen down and turned a pen of pigs loose. Arizona cowboy didn’t do any more riding on campus after that.

Love to all of you, Joe.


I have lost track of where I was in my account, and I don’t have a copy of the last installment at hand, so I will plug in on my second year at Utah State. I was still interested in Animal Husbandry and Dairy Manufacturing. I worked in the jim (sic) 6 p.m. to closing. Still interested in wresting and worked out every day. I was beaten for the team by Butch Knowels of football fame. Some time during the year I heard students tell how well they did selling knit goods during the summer, so I decided to try it the coming summer. I got lined up with a knit goods house in Salt Lake and was given South Dakota to sell in. Come summer I got my sample case and took of (sic- off). By the time I found I was not a salesman I was in Mitchell, South Dakota, and broke. I sent my sample case back to Salt Lake COD and was in the park near the railroad station wondering what to do when a group of section hands (all Mexican) came into the park. I talked to them in Spanish. They were quite surprised to have an American talk to them in their language. After a while they asked where I was going. I replied “Back to Lead, S. D., to try for a job in the mine there, but I’m broke.” The foreman said they were going that way and he had a pass for 10 men and only had nine men. Come with us. There were 10 of them when he was included, but I had nothing to lose so I said OK. The train came in and we all got on the chair car. They all talked English. The conductor came in “Who has the pass for these men?” Nobody could understand him. He couldn’t even find the pass so he went out, sent a brakeman back. The brakeman, after much trouble, found the pass. He said “Every man on this pass please stand up.” No one understood. He came over to me and said “Are you on this pass?” I couldn’t understand him either. Finally he said “Oh the hell with it” and went out.

When we got to Chamberlain on the Missouri River there the train was stopped because a flood west of there had washed the track away in places. My benefactors were sent right on out to work in the water to restore service. I was stranded in that little town. I got to talking to a young fellow on the freight dock and asked where I could get a job. He told me that a bridge contractor was just finishing a bridge over the river, had moved most of his steal (sic – steel) workers to another job, and was hiring men to clean up and that I might get on there for a few days. I thanked him and started off, when he said “Have you got any money?” I told him no and he handed me $5.00 and said pay me back when you get a check. I didn’t even have a job yet.

I went down to the bridge contractors office and got on. The job only lasted a short while, but I was able to live and pay back the $5.00 and had a little left. When it was over I decided to ride the blind baggage instead of buying a ticket. I got on the baggage car right behind the tender and thought no one had seen me. After a while we stopped at a water tank to take on water. The fireman got all ready to take on water, then said “You had better get off while I take on water or you will get wet.” I did, and when he was through I got back on. I rode that train to Rapid City, from which a branch went up to Lead.

That is all for this time.

Love to all of you, Joe


I have been asked to stay on here and help develop the recreational area so I will still be here for a while.

I was in Rapid City, South Dakota, and wanted to be in Lead, S.D. so after getting something to eat and cleaning up a bit I went walking down the road in that direction, hoping some car would pick me up. I wasn’t smart enough to use my thumb, so I just walked. It was about sundown when I started walking and nobody seamed (sic) to want my company. About 10 p.m. a Dodge touring car, the four cylinder car made by Dodge Brothers, passed me, then stopped abruptly and the driver waved to me to hurry up, which I did. He took off at a violent speed for the old car. The lights of a car comming (sic) towards us showed up. My driver pulled down a side road, stopped and turned his lights off. As soon as the car had passed he got back on the highway and speeded on. This happened several times. When we got to Deadwood, South Dakota, he pulled down a dark alley and into an old barn. I got out, thanked him and started off. He said “If anyone asks you how you got to town, you walked. See.” I said, Sure, I walked into town. I suppose he was a bootlegger, prohibition still being with us in this country.

The next morning I got on over to Lead, applied for a job and got on mucking in the mine. Mucking is hard work and the quota was 16 cars a shift. The first shift by noon I had 3 cars out and felt whipped. About 1 p.m. a fellow came over. “Need some help, buddy?” [I said] yes, so he helped my [me]. Then another man came over and helped. By 2 p.m. we were all through. I thought, that is fine, but what about tomorrow?

Love to all of you, Joe.

[unreadable date]

I wondered what I would do to get my quota of muck out the next day. The same men came over and helped me again. And every day I was in that place. After 3 or 4 days a new man came in and he was given the place I had and I was moved to a place where I could get my quota out in a hurry, so I went and helped the new man every day like I had been helped. I did not like working underground, so I wrote to Jean Stewart at the stock yards asking if I still had a job there. As soon as I got word that I did have I got on the train and went back to Idaho. I rode the cushions this time. I had had enough of bumming. I finished the summer at the yards then went back to school at Logan. I still worked in the jim (sic) from 6 to closing time.

At the start of spring quarter the Dean called me in and wanted to know what I had done about my math deficiency. I told him I had forgotten all about it. He said I would have to make it up and that I had better get at it. I went to Prof. Egbert who taught beginning college math and asked what I should do. He said, take a correspondence course in algebra this summer, then register for my class next fall. I went back and told the Dean what I planned. He said I couldn’t do it. The college math was too hard without having high school math. I went ahead as Prof. Egbert had said. I never finished the correspondence course, but made “A” in college math. In the spring I went to see the Dean again. He asked what I had done about the math. I showed him my report cards from Math 1 and 2. He shrugged and said “All right, you made it.” More about my fun 3rd year next week.

Love to all of you, Joe


My third year at school was uneventful except that that year I made the wrestling team. I won all my matches, made my letter and was given an “A” sweater. On account of my math deficiency I decided to go to summer school between my third and fourth years. I kept my jim (sic) job, milked a string of cows at the dairy and did odd jobs about campus and the farm. Result: I was too busy to complete my math correspondence course.

I was working out in the jim (sic) every day – boxing, wrestling, etc., as I had to be in the jim (sic) anyway. The 24th of July was coming up and Coach George Nelson was sponsoring a boxing and wrestling card for it. About a week before the 24th a man booked for the semifinals fight hurt his foot. George came to me and wanted me to take his place on the card. I told him I was not going to get beat up for nothing and if I took any money I would not be eligible for the wrestling team that winter. He said “Go get measured for a suit of clothes and we will pay for them.” I don’t know [if] that it was right or wrong, but I did it anyway. Come the 24th the boy I was to fight, who I hadn’t ever met, was a light heavy weight, a little lighter than I was but a professional. The fight, he came out of his corner punching like he wanted to get it over with. About the end of the first round I got through with a left hook and knocked him down. He was down when the bell [rang] for the end of the round. Come time for the second round he didn’t come back. I was given the match on a technical knock out. I am left handed but lead with my left. He didn’t know that. I suppose that he thought if I could knock him down with my left he didn’t want to meet my right.

Love to all of you, Joe

[letter missing from our files]

I got a suit of clothes, tailor made, out of that 1 and 1/2 minute fight – not bad. Victor Terry, the man that gave me a bad time on the mat came to summer school that summer. He lined up for a 24th fight at Tremonton, I think. He wanted me to work out with him. As I was in the jim (sic) anyway I did. I had the reach on him and knew more about boxing than he did so I had no trouble keeping him off. When he couldn’t get to me he would get angry and wouldn’t even stop for rounds. I would have to whip him to get him stopped. Sweet revenge for the torture he gave me on the mat a year or two before.

I was loaded with work besides my lessons. I had the jim (sic) job, milked a string of cows at the dairy and was called on to do other odd jobs about the campus and farm. Come fall and the first quarter I just kept my jim (sic) job and concentrated on making good in my math class. I didn’t want to go back to high school as others were doing. As I said before, the Dean let me go with it when I showed him my grades in it.

We lived in an apartment on 6th South and the Lundquists lived just across the street. Amy and Verna Lundquist were good friends. They tried to take good care of me and medicate me when I had a cold. I didn’t like their treatments so I gave them a bad time. This was my second year on the wrestling team and I was captain. I won all the matches up to the western division match. By fall when the western division match came up I had had bronchitis and didn’t feel so good, but the coach decided to put me on anyway. I won by a decision over the BYU man. The next week we went to Boulder, Colorado, to the conference meet and I lost by a decision – the only loss I had in two years.


Some time during my junior year my sister Verdi Cardon and her husband C. P. went to the colonies in Mexico to visit. They left their oldest son Wayne with Amy and I. He was about 16 years old. One night we had sauerkraut and wieners for supper. Wayne was not well and didn’t eat much. During the night he got real sick and we took him to the hospital. He had spinal meningitis and nearly died. Amy wired C. P. and Verdi and they came home immediately. When Wayne could come home they had to get a special nurse to take care of him. She was a very pretty girl and I half fell for her. I would have fallen all the way, but she was engaged to be married. Even at that we went to a few shows (plenty of vadovil [sic]) together. She was very good with Wayne and I think he fell for her a little too. She and his parents did all they could for him, but he always had trouble getting around after that.

Amy married Gaskell Romney and moved to Salt Lake so I stayed with Verdi and C. P. my senior year. C. P. arranged for me to get a loan from the bank so I lightened up my work load my fourth year. In June 1927 I graduated from Utah State Agri. College with a major in Animal Husbandry and minor in Dairy Manufacturing – not with honors, but no dishonors either. I had applied for a scholarship at Penn State so I went back to the stock yards in Idaho to work until I heard from them.

Love to all of you, Joe


In late August I heard from Dean Ihler. I did not get the scholarship at Penn State, but he had a job for me with Carnation Stock Farms at Seattle, Washington. I was to be their lab man. Butterfat test, bacteria counts, etc. It turned out to be just etc. I took pullman to Portland, Oregon, and chair car on up. It was raining when I got there. I was put to washing and sterilizing

buckets, strainers, cans, bottles, sanitary pipe, etc. I did that for 6 weeks, never saw a lab. still raining. After six weeks of the drudgery and it still raining I had had enough. I quit and took a bus for El Paso, Texas. (The sunny south)

I went by San Francisco and L.A. The bridge from Oakland to Frisco was not even dreamed of yet so we crossed from Oakland to Frisco on the fairy (sic). Quite a ride for a landlubber. Just before we got to Yuma, in the sand hills we had a flat tire. I saw a bus driver really sweat it out. Phoenix was a furnace. Air conditioning was not used yet. On to El Paso. My brother Harold lived there; also Rey L. had the mission home there. I got a job with Price’s Dairy at Vinton, about 30 miles above El Paso. Half the farm was in New Mexico, the rest in Texas. The boundary was in dispute. When it was established Paul Price’s (the manager) house was in New Mexico. He did not want to live in New Mexico so he built another about 100 yards distant in Texas. I had charge of the milk room, bottling, refrigerating the milk and loading it on the truck for El Paso every night. Allso (sic) cleaning up. I had 2 men working with me. The dairy milked about 120 cows – by hand. The milk was graded – grade A raw. I liked the job. The herdsman was a Mr. Holms, a man about 40 years old and a bachelor. We roomed together and hired a Mexican girl to cook for us.

More later.

Love to all, Joe

[unreadable date]

One afternoon I went over to the rooms where we slept. There was Mr. Holms on his bed groaning and doubbled up with pain from a strangulated heryna (sic). I went to the phone and called Dr. Tucker at near by Anthony, New Mexico. He came right over. He had me stand Holms on his head and turn him every which way trying to reduce the heryna (sic) but it was to (sic) swollen so Dr. had to take him to El Paso and operate. that put Mr. Holms out o fthe way for several weeks. Paul Price had planned a trip to the west coast. He came to me and ask me to take over. I hadent (sic) been with them a week yet, so i had all of the dairy part until Holms got back. That meant the feeding, mixing of the grain and doctoring any cows that got sick and helping them if they needed help when calfing.

Our help was all Mexican. One of the milkers loved to sing and had a good voice and sang to his cows as he milked. As he started at 3:00 in the morning and milked a string of cows in the certified barn close to Paul Price’s house and sang rather loud it sometimes woke Paul up and he dident (sic) like it not being a music lover. The cows loved it and owuld stand dreaming as they were milked. Paul ask me to tell the boy not to sing. I tried but only got him to sing softer.

When Mr. Holms got back on the job I went back to the milk room but felt a little bit let down after having had the whole show. About this time I met Frank Rogers (the cow tester) for the cow testing association. He tested about 1200 head in diferent (sic) herds up and down the valley from Hatch, N.M., to Tornillo, Texas. A cow tester took composit samples of milk from each cow over a 24 hr. period then tested it for butter fat then figured the daily fat produced and projected it for the month. The fat produced was figured. Fat x [times] wighed (sic) milk x [times] days in the month. Profit or loss [=] this figure less feed cost. Frank became a good friend of mine. He had been testing for about a year and wanted a change. A Mister Roades, a banker in Anthony had a herd of dairy cows and wanted frank to take care of them. he decided to do this and I decided to try for the cow testing job.

Love to all, Joe

[unreadable date or undated]

Bob Price was the main wheel of Price’s Dairy. They had a plant in El Paso and distributed milk from there. Bob sent two different experts out to Vinton to get the cream line lower. This was before homogenization and the cream line in the milk bottle sold the milk. The cream line stayed the same. Bob came out to see about it himself. I said “Bob, do you really want to get the cream line lower? I can tell you how”. Bob brightened up. “How?” I said put a little cream in the milk. Penny-pinching Bob didn’t like that idea.

Frank Rogers was quitting the cow testing job so I put in for it and got it. I did not have a car and did not drive very well. I bought a used 1925 Model T Ford coupe, and wrecked it the first day I had it. Boy, was I blue. I was about ready to give up and go some place else. Harold talked me out of that and arranged to get another body put on the car. It was not hurt mechanically.

The herds I tested were scattered up and down the valley for about 80 miles. I had to stay where the herd I was testing was, so I seldom was at any one place more than 24 hours. I usually stayed with the family that owned the herd. Part of one family had been to El Paso and saw a group of “Mormons”. They went to great detail describing them. I listened until they ran down a little then asked “Do you really think you could tell a Mormon if you saw one?” “Yes, sure.” Then I told them I was one. They wouldn’t hardly believe me.

I tried to be in El Paso on Sundays. The ward met in the Odd Fellows Hall. They had to sweep the sigarette (sic) butts out before Sunday school and put the empty beer bottles in the garbage. It was at Sunday school there that I was attracted to a young lady, secretary to the Sunday school. I was with Trucy Pratt, my brother Rey’s son and asked him who she was. He said “Vilo Williams”. Trucy was dating her sister Louisa so he arranged a meeting of Vilo and I. My heart fluttered.

Love to all of you, Joe


Cow testing took one day per herd per month, so if I didn’t miss any days I would have several free days at the end of the month. Vilo and I went to shows, car riding up and down the valley, got stuck in the sand or in the mud, had flats, had a good time being together. We were good friends only. One month I had several free days so I wanted to go home to Dublan or rather the colonies.

One morning my niece, Melba Pratt and I got in the Model T Ford and started for Dublan. Just before we got to Deming, New Mexico, there was a pop bang in the engine, then it was only hitting on three of the four cylinders. We got to Deming and I went to the garage. They weren’t busy so got right on it. A valve had broken and the head had gone through the top of the cylinder. They put a new piston and valve in it and we went on to Dublan. We wanted to go out in the mountains. There were plenty of saddle horses available but none were shod. So I shod four head, road (sic) one and led three the fifteen miles to Juarez. Boy, was I sore. I hadn’t done any work heavier than pushing a pencil for some time. Melba had gone on over to Colonia Juarez and was staying with Bernice Turley. Owen Skousen, Melba, Bernice, and I had planned a few days in the mountains west of Juarez. We got a chaperone to go with us and went up to the Stairs to camp. It was very pretty up there. Grama grass knee-high, a beautiful little stream and timber here and there. It was a favorite place to go camping and we enjoyed it. I and Bernice were riding up a little valley when a covey of fool hens flew up almost from right under us. One lit on a rock about 50 feet off. I had a .30/.30 rifle and without even getting off my horse I took a shot at it, not expecting to hit it, but I did. I did not do any more shooting that trip. I had established a rep.

Love to all of you, Joe

[unreadable date]

The third day at the Stairs Melba had an attack of appendicitis or we thought it was. We decided to get back to Col. Juarez. The pain in Melba’s side was so bad that she couldn’t stand the jolt of her horse, so I almost carried her the 15 miles to Juarez. The good practical nurses there put ice on her side and got the pain partly relieved and then we got her to El Paso as soon as possible.

Bernice and I had a temporary infatuation for each other. Thank goodness it didn’t last. I started thinking of proposing to Vilo, but a cow testing job was no job to get married on. I quit that job and went to Mesa to try to make something of the little place Emerson and I had there. It didn’t work out. Harold had the Oakland Pontiac dealership in Mesa. I tried collecting for him but didn’t like that. Vilo and I were writing to each other all the time I was in Mesa. Vilo kept all my letters. I still have them, rather silly love letters they were. I finally went back to Texas and went to work as herdsman for Gillette’s Dairy in Canutillo, Texas. Vilo and I soon became engaged. The details are very private – hers and my business. She set the date – June 5th, 1929. My job was very confining so we didn’t see each other as often as we would like to have.

When I started with Gillette the laborers (milkers, etc.) did not pay much attention to what the boss (herdsman) wanted and this made it rather hard on me. I decided to get their attention. The cows each had a place in the barn and as there were three strings and each string of cows had its rotation they were penned each string in a separate corral. The men that fed the hay in the corrals had the habit of leaving the gates all open until they came back out. Naturally the cows got all mixed up and had to be separated according to string before milking time. One day I watched them feed hay. Sure enough they left the gates open and the cows mixed. I said “Well, boys, lets go get them back in the right corrals.”

More next time.

Love to all, Joe


The big Mexican feeder said “We are through for the day”. I said No, you are going to help me cut the cows. He said “Oh, you want a fight do you?” If that is what it takes, yes. He came at me with a long hay hook in his hand. I took the hook away from him and threw it into a nearby drainage ditch and clobbered him one, knocking him down. He never touched me. The other man was coming at me but when he saw his partner on the ground he changed course abruptly and got away from there. The first man had lost all his fight so it ended there. As soon as Idus Gillette got home I told him all about it. Later the feeder went to him and said he was going to town and file a complaint. Gillette said “Good, that is the thing to do. The judge will fine Pratt $10.00 and he would pay that to get another crack at you.” The man “You think so.” Gillette said “Yes”. That was the end of that. I had got their attention and had no more disciplinary problems.

We had milking machines all set up but didn’t want to use them unless we had to. They were not too practical at that time. My job at the dairy was to supervise all things connected with the production of milk – figuring rations, feeding the silage and grain, keeping records of feeding, breeding and production, and doing minor veterinary or medical treatment. At that time a herdsman didn’t get much sleep if he kept up with everything. The cows that were milked twice a day came in at 3:30 p.m. and a.m., the three time cows at 2, 10, and 6. Just when a man thought he would get some sleep a cow would get sick or have trouble calving or something to keep him up.

Love to all of you, Joe


Vilo Williams and I were first attracted to each other, then infatuated, then in love – a love that we have kept ever since and has survived many trials. She is gone but I still love her and hope that she still loves me.

Clarence and Babe insisted on our taking their car (a new Graham Paige four door) and we drove to Mesa to be married. We had gotten our recommends from Bishop A. L. Pierce in El Paso, Texas. We went to Phoenix and got our marriage license, then stopped at a field where a man was taking people for a short ride in his aircraft. It was a two-cockpit open air plane. We were jammed into the rear cockpit, which was all right with us. It was the first time in the air for both of us. We enjoyed the ride. That evening – June 5, 1929 – we were married in the Mesa Temple by David K. Udall, after going through a session. Harold and Anna were with us. Who else I do not remember. Harold had arranged for a nice room in the El Portal Hotel and we spent that night there. After a day or two I had to get back to the herd. A Sister Anderson, sister to Bishop Pierce, asked us to take one of her daughters back to El Paso with us (goodbye to any honeymoon). The kid got car sick several times on the way. We put her in the back seat and ignored her as much as possible. We went back to the dairy and into an adobe house out in the field, far from anyone else.

Love to all of you, Joe


The old adobe house among the big cottonwood trees was a long way from the dairy. I had to go to work at 1:30 a.m. so that left Vilo alone about half the night. Someone had broken into the house while we were gone some place, so I was worried about Vilo being alone way out there. So when I was in town one day I bought a 38 caliber six shooter, took it home, and was going to teach Vilo how to use it. I set some cans up against a tree, explained in detail how to shoot, took a shot at a can, and missed it. Explained some more, took another shot, and missed. Vilo said nothing. I asked her to shoot. She didn’t want to. Finally she did and hit the can right in the middle. Boy, did I blush. No more shooting lessons. Her father, an old time cowboy, had taught her well.

We soon moved into a remodeled harness house near the dairy. Carl was born on May 21, 1930, in this little house under the care of Dr. Tucker of Anthony, New Mexico. Prenatal care, delivery, and post natal care cost $25.00. Vilo’s mother, a practical nurse, was with us until Vilo could get around again.

I worked for Gillette Dairy about two years. We had two vacations during that time. On the first we went to Hurricane, Utah, where Grandmother Susie was living. We went with Clarence and Babe in their Graham Paige. Carl learned to be a good traveler, which he still is.

Love to all of you, Joe


Clarence, Babe, and Vilo and I went from Hurricane, Utah, to Los Angeles and did a little sight-seeing. One afternoon Clarence said “I need to get back to the farm. Let’s drive out a ways into the mountains, spend the night and get a good start in the morning”. Clarence was driving and I went to sleep. I woke up when the car stopped. Clarence said “This looks like a good place”. It felt kind of hot to me, but we rented some rooms, but couldn’t sleep. It was too hot. We had come into Indio – quite a bit below sea level. We had gone clear through the mountains and down near the Salton Sea one of the hottest places out of doors or indoors for that matter. We got up and went on, not even waiting the night out. This was before air conditioning.

On our next vacation when Carl was a little over a year old we took another vacation, about a week. We went in our 1928 Cheve (sic) coupe. We went up through Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N. M., down through Roswell to Carlsbad Caverns. We walked through them as the elevator was not finished yet. It took us 7 hours to go down and back out, but it was very interesting. At Rock of Ages they had us all sit down, mostly on the ground, then turned all the lights out so we had total darkness for a few minutes. Then a quartet of rangers sang “Rock of Ages” as the light came back gradually from way back up the trail.

At Albuquerque we went to see Hicks Dairy as I was a dairyman. They had a nice place. About 120 cows milking. They sold raw milk, buttermilk, cheese, etc. The place had been started by an older man. He had scrub cows and didn’t do very well. His son had made money with J. C. Penny Company stock and was manager of J. C. Penny store in Albuquerque. He had bought his father out and brought in some purebred Holstein cattle from Colorado. They were good stuff and had not become infected with any disease.

With love, Joe

Thanks Margaret and Bonnie for the pretty pictures. Eric, if you are not using and don’t figure to use the diamond hone please send it to me at Cathy’s.


The scrub cows the dairy had started with had contracted contagious abortion and had become partially immune to it. The purebreds from Colorado had not and were very susceptible. The younger Mr. Hicks had learned of my visit to the dairy and came to the cottage where we were staying. He wanted to know all about me and my background, then he told me of the situation at the dairy and asked if I thought I could help if I took the herd. I told him I thought I could but that it would take a long time and that I had a good job and was not interested in changing. He made me an offer. He would give me more money than I was making, would build me a house at the dairy and furnish all the dairy products I needed. I told him I would think it over, but if I took the job I would have to have a free hand, no interference from any one, and that there would probably have to be some severe cutting. We went back to Gillette Dairy and I talked to Idus Gillette about Hicks’s offer and he advised taking it. I wrote a letter of acceptance to Hicks and gave Gillette two weeks notice.

When the time came to move we stored what little furniture we had in El Paso. I went to Albuquerque and Vilo and Carl to visit Clarence and Babe. Things started of (sic – off) smoothly at the dairy but nothing was being done about quarters for my family at the dairy. I complained to Hicks and he leased an apartment for us in town, about four miles from the dairy and Vilo and Carl came up. Things at the dairy were a mess. The cows were loosing calves, the bulls would not function being overfed and under-exercised. I cut the bulls’ rations and rigged exercise for them. Hicks thought I was being too hard on them, but I persisted and soon had them working again. I started testing to find out how badly the herd was infected.

Love to all, Joe


I had to know what cows were infected and which weren’t so I had to get blood samples to send to the lab. The vet was a rather timid man, so I had to get most of the samples from the cows and all of them from the bulls. The vet wouldn’t get in the pen with a bull even after he was securely snubbed. Hicks had promised no interference. After I had been there about six weeks I went out one morning and found that old man Hicks (the owner’s father) had come out before me and fired every milker on the place then went back home and to bed.

I had to talk like a Dutch uncle to get them back to work. As soon as I figured Hicks (the owner) was available I went to town to talk to him about it. I told him what had happened and reminded him of the promise of no interference. I was quite angry and told him either the old man or me had to go. He said “I can’t hardly run my own dad off.” I told him I appreciated that and therefore I was giving notice that I was leaving in ten days.

After ten days I got Vilo and Carl and we went back to El Paso. Gillette owed the bank and it had closed, as many banks did about that time and he had to sell his cattle to keep from losing his farm. So there I was back in El Paso without a job and the depression bad and getting worse. I had a friend from Canutillo working for the fire department so I decided I would apply for a job there. Capt. Dykes, the secretary took my application then told me there were about 200 ahead of me. We got in the car and went down the valley to Ft. Hancock to visit Clarence and Babe.

Love to all, Joe


When we got to Ft. Hancock, there was a phone call waiting for me. It was Chief Sullivan of the El Paso Fire Dept. He wanted me to come in and talk to him at 9 a.m. the next morning. So we got up early the next morning and went back to El Paso. The chief asked me a few questions then told me to go to no. 11 fire station at 2nd and Santa Fe and report to Lt. Davis. I would draw pay from 8 a.m. that morning. How I had priority over the other 200 I will never know for sure, but I had done business with a hardware and dairy supply store just across the street from no. 1 fire station and the owner/manager kind of liked me. I learned later that he was a good friend of the chief. I had used his name as a reference on my application. He knew that I didn’t drink and drinking was a problem on the department at that time. So I figured he had helped me to get on.

The most important thing about firefighting is to get there fast. In the day time of course we were already dressed, but at night if there was a hit, we had to dress and come down the pole from the dorm on the second floor and get on the rig. To do this quickly we used the quick hitch which was a pair of stiff-topped rubber boots with canvas pants, each leg rolled down over a boot top. The pants had suspenders and a flap in front fastened with a harness snap. To dress one just swung out of bed, put his feet in the boots, stood up pulling his pants with him, suspenders over the shoulders, then hit the pole. The coat and helmet were on the rig. We could clear the door with the rig in less than a minute. One new man got left in the house one night. When the captain got on him about it he said “Hell, I didn’t even have my socks on when you all left the house”. There were eight men in each fire company – four on each shift. We worked 24 hours on and 24 off.

Love to all, Joe


I got left in the fire house once, but it wasn’t because I didn’t get dressed in time. The pumper had developed a gas leak in the carburetor so we had to turn the gas off at the tank and it was my job to turn it [on if] we had a go. Hawkshaw Pierce worked on the ladder company on the other shift. He was sleeping at the station. It was a rule that if someone was sleeping at the station on his off shift and we had a run he was supposed to go. One night we had an alarm. I turned the gas on and as I started to get on the back of the truck I bumped into Hawkshaw, who had decided to ride the engine. It threw me off balance and I missed the hand rail. The truck was in motion. I took a step forward for another try and stepped on the back grease pan and slipped, recovered and took another step and hit the front grease pan and fell. By that time the truck was gone without me. I had got the location of the fire. It was just one block and a half from the station so I took off running, got over there in time to take the hose in. My pardner, Paddle Foot McGee, had hooked up the water. But we didn’t need water. It was a grease fire on the stove. We put it out with foamite, sprayed the stove liberally and surrounding area. By the time Coffee Joe got that all off he had the cleanest kitchen on South El Paso Street fore (sic) some time.

With the consent of the chief I took the cow testing job on my off days. This meant that I wasn’t home very much, as I had to get samples of milk over a 24 hour period, then work at the station 24 hours.

Love to all of you, Joe


The depression did not seam (sic) so bad. I was making $115.00 a month and [with] what I got from testing we were getting by very well. Rent was cheap. We moved three times and finally got a small house on California Street for $15.00 a month. Jewel B. Walton, a friend from Ft. Hancock, roomed and boarded with us. Vilo was born there on 5/19/32, another home delivery – total cost $35.00.

As a fireman I helped in the rescue of a baby (baby doll) in an apartment on 7th Street. Several of us rescued that doll that night. We would pick it up and head for the door before realizing it was only a doll, then tuck it back in its crib to be rescued by someone else. We went to a fire on Suthern (sic) El Paso and so many spectators were about that I couldn’t move the hose. The chief came by and I asked him what I should do. He said “Turn the water on them”, which I did and then had plenty of hose free to move. We fought a basement fire in Grant store for fourteen hours on a second alarm. I was lying on a wet hardwood floor on the nozel (sic) of a 2 1/2 inch hose from a pumper (about 120 lbs pressure). Dutch Traxler was supposed to be behind me. When I felt myself slipping I looked back and Dutch was gone – had left without even telling me he was going. I had a nozzle which screwed shut. By the time I got it shut, it had moved me about considerably on that wet floor. If I had turned loose to get out without shutting it off, it would probably have whipped me quite bad. I also had a hose push a ladder away from a wall, and I had to shut off the nozzle and tie the ladder down before turning the water on again.

Love to all, Joe


I had been working on the fire department of El Paso a little over a year when the depression caught up with the city fathers and they reduced the fire force by 65 men. As that size cut had to be by seniority I was laid off. No job. No jobs available. The cow testing wasn’t paying enough to carry us, so we packed our stuff onto a two-wheeled home-made trailer, put it behind our 1928 Sheve (sic) coupe, and went to Mesa, Arizona, and into a little house Emerson had built for Mother. The only job I could find was bailing hay. I worked at it for about six weeks. Summer time in the valley of the sun. To save the leaves on the hay we had to bail at night. We had to move about so camped with the rig. It consisted of a power bailer handfed and tied – with a hay pick up loader attached to the side and the whole thing pulled by an old truck. The feeder had the hard job so I was it. I couldn’t sleep in the day time for the heat and flies and we worked at night with lights from an old generator. I soon burned out at that job but couldn’t find another. I even went up into Utah but couldn’t find anything. Harold had quit Ford Motor Co. in Mexico City and moved to Dublan, and started a small dairy herd and hay and grain business and was farming Mother’s fifty acres. He invited me to come down and join him so I traded what interest I had in Emerson’s small farm in Mesa for whatever he had in Mexico, loaded my stuff on the trailer and family in the car and we went back to Mexico – Vilo, Carl, wife Vilo, and I. There was plenty to do there but very little money. But we had a place to live and enough to eat. So we were weathering the depression without the bread line, PWA, or whatever.

Love to all of you, Joe


Mother, Harold’s family, and us all lived in the old home in Dublan. Mother and Vilo taught school, Harold traded in hay, etc. and I took care of the cows, helped on the farm, etc. We were getting by.

The cheese factory was run by Ara Call who had studied dairy manufacture and was making processed cheese from cheese they made blended with cheese they bought from the mountian colonies. This they sold to Mexico City. Louis Lara was the agent doing the marketing. The cheese factory had an old Frigidair plant to cool the cheese room. It was powered by electricity generated at a small hydroelectric plant owned and operated by Taylor and Bowman. The supply and voltage was unreliable and the plant gave lots of trouble. I had had a five ton York plant at Gillette’s diary at Canutillo, texas and knew that Gillette had sold his herd. So I contacted him about the plant. He offered it for $500 as was. The directors of the cheese factory decided to buy it and wanted me to go out and dismantle it and ship it down and install it. Quite a project. Lots of pipe work. It all had to be cast iron or steel because the refrigerant it used was amonia (sic) and copper couldn’t be used with it. The joints had to be made up with litharge and glisern (sic). I got it all made up including brine tank for making ice. There was not enough elect. to operate the plant so we had to get other power. We got an old boiler and steam engine, installed them and were ready to go. We had cooling coils in the cold room and in the brine tank. We needed salt for the brine and the board found some local stock salt which they thought would do. We made up the solution, started up, and the whole brine tank froze up. We had trouble getting the ice out. Then they bought calcium chloride as recommended.

Love to all, Joe


The cheese factory had the only refrigeration in town so Ara Call kept a supply of soda pop cold to sell by the bottle. One day he was opening a bottle of pop and the bottle exploded and a piece of glass got in his eye. His wife took him to the doctor at Casa Grandes. The doctor said he could see the glass but was afraid to try to get it out and suggested he go to El Paso. The only way to get there quick was by auto. He sent for me and wanted me to drive his car out for him. There were two routes out, both bad by Deming, N.M., and by the Amargasa. The Deming route was all-weather road but twice as far. The Amargasa road had a ridge of sandhills and sometimes it was hard to get through. I asked Ara which way and he said by the Amargasa. “This eye is really hurting.” So we took off about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Sure enough we got the sandhills and got stuck. Ara couldn’t drive so he had to push and the back wheels kicked his face and eyes full of sand but we got through and on to the Chihuahua highway. Ara said his eye felt a little better. We got into El Paso about 2 a.m. and got rooms at a turist (sic) camp, later known as a motel. The drs. office opened about 9 a.m. and Ara was there but his eye didn’t hurt so bad. The doctor checked and could find nothing in his eye but could see where it had damaged the eye. We told him about the sand and he said the glass must have come out with the sand. I told Ara I could have thrown sand in his eye at home and saved a long hard drive. Well, such is life.

Love to all of you, Joe

[no date]

Dear Eric and Florence

I am going to Idaho for Frank’s wedding and may drop around your place if it is OK with you. I will be driving the bug so you won’t need to meet me at the airport. If I can’t find my way out I will call you.

Kathy is doing all right, in fact better than expected. Alan’s knee is not doing so well.

With love, Joe


When we moved to Dublan, Harold’s kids and later ours got ringworm from playing with stray cats. Dr. Still was treating the ringworm with nicotum which made the kids sick each treatment. I had had ringworm in the cattle when I was dairying so I got some of the medicine I had used and got rid of the ringworm on the kids and declared open season on stray cats. They say it is 7 years bad luck to kill a cat. If so, I still have several years to go.

Harold was called to be Mexican Mission president and moved his family to the mission home on Ft. Boulevard in El Paso, Texas. At that time the mission included all of Spanish-speaking USA as well as Mexico. I couldn’t handle the trading part of the business in Dublan but had the farm and dairy. Under doctor’s orders Vilo went to El Paso to be near the doctor before Amy was born. She stayed with Harold and Anna.

That summer there was lots of rain and the grama grass on the flat and in the foothills was very good. Jay Robinson and I took our cows out on it. We had to camp with them. Jay and his boys stayed with the cattle in the daytime. I and Carl would go out in the car in the evening in time for milking, milk, stay the night, milk them in the morning, then take the milk in to the cheese factory, spend the day at the farm, then go back out in the evening. Carl slept in the car and didn’t do any milking. He was too young but a good camper. One night we were camped in the foothills south of Dublan. We had run the cows up a little canyon so they wouldn’t scatter too much. About dark an old prairie wolf up the canyon where the cows were bayed the moon in a most mournful voice. Jay Robinson said find a tree, boys. Those cows are comming (sic) to camp. Sure enough they did, but were not stampeded, but they stayed close to camp all night.

Love to all of you, Joe


The feed on the flat matured and the cows didn’t milk very good on it any more so we took them in.

I bought the old Merrill home and moved in. Amy was born September 4, 1935, in El Paso, Texas. Vilo, Vilo Jr., and Amy came home to the Merrill house.

One morning I got up with a bad neck, stiff and sore. I went to Dr. Still. He said it was stomach flu and gave me some pills, which I took and felt worse than ever. About 10 a.m. I told Vilo that I was going to see the Mexican doctor at Nueva Casas Grandes. He looked at me and said “Take off your shirt” which I did. He looked at my stomach and said, “You get home and to bed. You have a severe case of typhoid fever. I will be right down and go to work on you”. He gave me a shot of something the Germans had perfected but wasn’t yet on the U.S. market. Then he put me on strictly fruit juice. That is all I had to eat for about six weeks. They say I nearly died. I don’t know. I was out of it part of the time. When I did get well enough to get up I was still weeak (sic). That Mexican doctor saved my life, I am sure. I was too weak to do anything much so Vilo went back to the schools, this time as elementary supervisor. She was away from home almost every night except week ends. I took care of the kids, including Amy. I got to be a pretty good housekeeper, nurse, and cook. At least everybody seemed to get along all right. I even made pies, cakes, and cookies.

By this time Harold had moved to Mexico City. The mission had been divided into the Mexican in Mexico and the Spanish-American Mission in the USA.

Love to all of you, Joe


We were just getting by in Dublan so we decided to try the interior. At San Marcos, about 85 miles north of Mexico City, Harold had a friend who had a store and a farm. His name was Bernabe Parra. Harold made a deal with him to put our cows on his farm and buy alfalfa from him. So I and Chalo, our hired hand, drove the cows from Dublan to Villa Humada, about 80 miles, on the Mexican Central Railroad. It took us several days. When we got there we had to wait a few days for a car. It came and we loaded for San Marcos. We had to unload the cows for a rest at Leccatexas during the trip. When we unloaded we had to drive the cows several miles to the farm. We were dirty and unshaven, hardly presentable. There was a nice shed and walled-in corral to put the cows in and a room for storage.

We found a new house for rent in Tula, where we would be selling the milk. It hadn’t been built long enough to have become infested with fleas yet. Fleas were a real problem down there. The house was on a hill just a block south of the passenger depot on the railroad. There was a cobbled footpath down, but it was too steep for cars or wagons. There was a room on the path side [of the house] and it had casement windows reaching to the floor. The floor was about 3 1/2 feet higher than the path. There was a low steel grill. It made an ideal place for dispensing milk. We set up an enamel-topped table with a liter and a half liter measure and started to sell milk we brought in from the farm on an old Ford pickup. Lots of women of the poorer class came to buy milk. They would buy up to 10 liters each and had cash for it. We wondered what they would do with that much milk. Come train time we found out. They came running down the cobbled path with cups of hot milk, coffee, chocolate, etc., to sell at the train which stopped there for about 15 or 20 minutes.

Love to all of you, Joe


I have taken about six weeks vacation on these letters. Please forgive me. I don’t remember where I was and my file is at the ranch, so I will just break in anywhere and get on with it.

We weren’t getting rich, just getting by and Carl was old enough for school. We didn’t want to put him in a public school in Tula and couldn’t afford to send him to a private school. What to do?

One evening as I was bringing the milk into Tula the kids in the area climbed all over the pickup truck when I slowed down for the hill. This they did every day and I couldn’t brush them off. This evening one fell and the back wheel ran over his leg, breaking it. I took him home, got my family doctor to take care of the fracture and went on home to take care of the business. About sundown a policeman came and took me down to the comandancia. When we got there the Presidente and the comandante had gone. The policeman said he would have to lock me up for the night. I said “No way. I am not going to stay in your buggy jail. The kid hurt himself, but I got him to a doctor. I don’t think that I am guilty of anything. I will be down in the morning at nine o’clock to see the comandante and the Presidente”. Then I walked out – the policeman shouting for me to come back – but I just walked on home. I was down there at nine the next morning. They admitted that it wasn’t my fault and thanked me for having my doctor take care of the kid.

Love to all of you, Joe


It was time to get Carl in school. Harold wanted to sell the cows to members of the church. I arranged to rent a farm in Clint, Texas. Clarence made the deal for me. The cows got out of the pen into an alfalfa field. Several bloated and I had to stick one to save her.

I just thought I was through with the case of the kid that broke his leg. His parents decided my doctor wasn’t doing enough for him and they wanted to hire a curandero – witch doctor or whatever – and wanted me to pay him. The kid was doing all right so I told them I would not pay a curandero. They hired him any way (sic) and he wanted me to pay him 50 pesos. I told him “No.” I had not hired him and had no obligation to him. He went to the Presidenty (sic) Municipal. The Presidente called me in and so it went back and forth it seemed for a long time. I couldn’t get anything done for having to go down to see the Presidente. Finally I told him “I am tired of all this. I don’t owe this curandero anything, but I will give him 25 pesos just to get him off my back”. The Presidente was pleased and said that would end it. It didn’t.

Love to all of you, Joe


We sold the cows and I was all packed up and had things loaded on the pickup truck. The curandero came around in the evening and wanted his money. I offered him 25 pesos as I had agreed with the Presidente. He refused and said it was 50. So I put the 25 back in my pocket and reminded him of the agreement with the Presidente. He still wanted 50 pesos so I told him goodbye and saw that he left. Which he did, talking to himself. The next morning before sunup we were on the way to the USA. Later I learned that the Presidente got after Bernabe Parra about the curandero deal and Parra told him I had offered the 25 pesos as agreed, but he still wanted his 50. I guess Parra got through to him because that was the last of it.

That was a rough trip – fog, rain and lots of tire trouble. Once or twice the Mexican highway patrol stopped to see if they could help me. We came through Laredo, Texas, and up through Texas. We had another flat. I got off the shoulder of the highway as far as I could and while I was working a young patrolman pulled up and started to get on me for cluttering up the highway. After he had gone on for about 20 minutes I got angry and told him “I have come home from Mexico. Down there they even helped me. Now I get out to my own country and a smart two-bit patrolman like you gets rough with me. It kind of burns me up.” I thought he would at least give me a ticket, but I guess I got through to him. He got in his car and drove off.

Love to all, Joe


We got to Clarence and Babe’s place near Clint, Texas, on Christmas Eve and in the next few days got moved into a new house on the farm we had rented. It was nice and modern. The farm was powered [worked] by horses. There were four good draught horses- one team of four-year olds. One of the older team was a big white horse and it seemed he always had a sore shoulder or neck, which required frequent doctoring. I and a negro boy I had driving for me were doctoring old white one day and he was really giving us trouble, as he always did, and as we worked I told the negro “Old white has a tender skin just like a blond woman.” A few days later we were doctoring old white again, my teamster, the negro, said “I bet old white wishes he were a nigger horse”.

We got the crops planted and up in good shape, and everything looked fine until August, then the wilt hit the cotton. Great patches of it just wilted and died. Some bolls matured on it but the total crop was way below what it should have been. The feed was good but I figured I needed some stock to eat it, so I bought fifty head of old cows with calves. They did fine but I had to sell them too soon as I wasn’t keeping the place for another year so they didn’t make me very much. That fall Harold was released from the mission. He was convalescing from a kidney operation so he and Anna and family moved in with us. When the cotton, cattle and feed were all sold we sure didn’t make anything. In fact we lost some money.

Harold and Brother Widtsoe got wind of a large estate down in Barstow, Texas, that was for sale cheap and had looked at it. We decided to do some checking. Harold and Brother Widtsoe’s desire was a kind of colonization set up.

Love to all of you, Joe.


Brother Widtsoe was a member of the Quorum of 12 Apostles, held more scholastic degrees than anyone I know and was a specialist in irrigation. He got Carl Harris, a former student and at the time an irrigation specialist with the state of Arizona to go to Barstow to check the soil on the estate. He came by and I went to Barstow with him. We spent four days taking soil samples and looking things over. On the way back we went up to Red Bluff Lake that stored the water for the land. Carl was impressed, but didn’t like the spillway because the rocks below it hadn’t been sufficiently cleared away. The builders claimed that in case of flood the water would clear them out.

After that Harold and Brother Widtsoe decided it would be well to rent part of the estate for a year to check it out. Miss Monroe, the administrator, was agreeable so we rented about 200 acres of it and soon after the first of the year started to move down. We moved with the old pickup and a home-made trailer. Thank goodness the roads weren’t so congested as they are now.

Joe was born January 9, 1939 in Hotel Deau Hospital in El Paso and I brought them to Barstow when we had barely got moved in. Joe had gotten infected with impetigo at the hospital and we had quite a time getting it cleared up. Harold, Anna, and family moved into the King house and we into a smaller home near by. They were not modern, in fact just shelter and we had to haul our drinking and kitchen water. The place didn’t need two bosses, so when I was offered a job as water master I took it. The ex-school teacher who had been water master was afraid of snakes and there were plenty of them in the grass along the ditch banks where one had to walk.

Love to all, Joe


We made the 1939 crop and did OK but decided not to buy because of the shortage of water and the quality of it. The next year Harold moved to the Hot Creek Ranch in Nevada on about the same deal. He took about 12 dairy cows we had bought. When he was gone we moved into the King house.

Before we moved our neighbor Jim Maldin who lived about 1/2 mile from us had been a drunk. The doctor had told him if he kept on drinking it would kill him. He didn’t take a drink for over a year. One morning he came in drunk after being out all night. His daughter who lived in Pecos was in the house and his wife was out feeding the chickens. Jim asked the daughter if she had ever seen a man shoot himself and took a hand gun from his jacket. She tried to get to him but was too late. He shot himself through the heart, turned and sat down in his favorite chair and was dead. The girl came to our house and said “Dad shot himself”. I thought it was an accident. I went with her and when I saw him I knew he had deliberately killed himself. I told the girl and her mother to go to town, get the daughter’s husband and notify the sheriff. Jim was a good man and a good friend. He was on the water board at the time, but he let the booze get him.

Benito Carasco, our top hand, was a better farmer than I so after Harold left I kept the water job and Benito ran the farm. That water job was a challenge and a pain. The Red Bluff water district measured the water into our canal and I had to distribute it to the farmers. The Red Bluff engineer was not qualified to run water. He had had my district build a flume up by the dam in the river [to] measure the water in for our canal. It was 10 ft wide, 4 ft [deep] and 30 feet long. They were trying to measure the flow in this box with a current meter. The cross-currents in the flume made it impossible to get an accurate reading with a current meter.

Love to all, Joe


A fellow by name of Estes was engineer for Red Bluff and he didn’t know beans about running water. He had had the district build the flume. I got him to check the water in the box with his meter, then I measured with mine. They didn’t check so we did it again. The measurements didn’t check with each other or with the first try. We decided the flume was not a good place to measure. Estes soon left and a man named Anderson got the job. He was a mechanical engineer, graduate of Texas A and M. He knew how to run water. We took the flume out, put in a concrete over shot weir and a recording clock which recorded the depth of the water over the weir for a period of two weeks. Then we measured the flow in a good smooth section of canal below the weir at different levals (sic) and then built up a curve that showed the discharge at any depth over the weir. Our ditch loss had been about 85%. With the new system it dropped way down, and by being careful that none went to waste I got it down farther. The flume was built of Louisiana cyprus lumber, mostly 2 inch stuff and clear. I used the lumber to build head gates.

We had no LDS church. After Harold and family left we went to the Methodist Church in Barstow. One day some Mormon missionaries from Monahans stopped at the co-op store in Barstow and asked if there were any Mormons in the area. Buck Burkholder, the manager, referred them to us. Result – we organized a branch in Monahans with Loyd White of Ft. Stocton (sic) as branch president, Dr. Miller of Monahans as first councilor and me as second. Ft. Stockton was 65 miles from Monahans. Barstow was 40 miles. The members were scattered around over the whole area. We totaled about 35 people. Because of the distance people had to travel we held the meetings consecutively. We would usually take box lunches and have a kind of picnic.

Love to all, Joe


The water master job is not conducive to harmony, especially if the supply is short. Bud Maldin had the reputation of being a mean man. He had killed two Mexicans in a squabble. He had been tried but got out of it some way. Mexicans weren’t very popular at that time in Texas. Bud came to me one day and said that I had shorted him on water. I told him I thought I had been fair with him but if he wanted to present his claim to the board of directors I would do what ever they wanted. When the board meeting convened he was there. Miss Cynthia Monroe and her rep Mr. Wray sitting in. I gave the board my version of the story and said I would make any adjustment they would recommend. Bud presented his case. The board ruled in my favor. Bud got his knife out saying just how he was going to carve me up. I didn’t like this idea so I hit him. He lost his knife and I threw him to the floor and sat on him till he cooled off a little. When I let him up he went to his pickup saying he was going after his gun. Also that he would never let me deliver water to him again. Some of the board members wanted to fire me so that I wouldn’t get hurt. The majority said they would stay with me if I wanted to stay. I did. Later John Burkholder, a member of the board, asked me if I had a gun. I said no. That night he brought me one. I told him I did not want to carry a gun. He said that I should because Bud was a vengeful man. I later got a gun from Harold. I kept it in my car but it was too heavy and got in my way when I was working so I left it in the car. I would have been safer without it. One day I was over to the neighbors and said I was going up to the dam. A friend of Bud’s was there and had nothing to do so he wanted to go with me. On the way a jack rabbit jumped up in front of us, ran off about 100 feet and stopped. I stopped the car, got out, and aiming over the car shot at the rabbit and darned if I didn’t hit it. I didn’t do any more shooting while that man was around. It was pure luck, but I didn’t want him to know that. As soon as Bud’s cotton started to get dry he ordered water from me. I delivered and we got along all right after that.

Love to all of you, Joe


The year 1941 started out dry. There was just enough water in the Red Bluff Lake to get us planted out and keep the fish alive. Then in May it started to rain all over the Pecos River watershed and it rained and rained. In about one week it filled the lake and was going over the spillway and it still rained. The spillway which was partly blocked by rocks below it was not taking care of the excess water as Carl Harris had said it wouldn’t. They had to get out there and blast them loose to keep the water from going over the dirt spillway, which would have soon washed away. The Pecos River, normally a narrow channel, got over a mile wide in places. The USGS measured or estimated over 12,000 second feet going by the highway. It washed great sections of my canal away. When the flood passed I couldn’t get water to my farmers because the canal was washed out. I got Armstrong to send his D4 Cat and dozer up and we patched enough to get some water through, then went back and repaired it all.

One day while the cat was working and I was watching Carl and Vilo come to watch and then had to go swimming. The water was deep and swift. Carl did all right but Vilo panicked and I had to help her out. She thought she could do anything Carl could, but after all she was two years younger.

The river flooded the same way in September that same year. Ann was born the 11th day of November (sic – October) 1941 in the hospital in Pecos. The doctor was in the hospital but had an emergency case and didn’t deliver the baby. The nurse had to, but there were no problems and everything was fine.

Love to all of you, Joe


At that time it was usual for a woman to stay in the hospital a week with a new baby, so Joe and I took off for California as soon as Ann was born. Harold wanted to look at some land near Salina. We drove to Phoenix. Emerson decided to go with us. Then we drove to Hot Creek, Nevada, picked up Harold and Ira, left Joe with Anna then the four brothers went on to California, looked at the land, went to Monterrey and had a fish dinner which no one enjoyed, back to Hot Creek via Yosemite Park. left Harold and Ira and picked up Joe, then to Phoenix and left Emerson and back to Pecos, got Vilo and Ann and took them home.

The next day, a Monday, I had been called to Monahans for jury duty. I was sure I could get off because of the new baby. I was selected for the jury and the judge wouldn’t let me off. It was a murder trial so they locked us up for the week. Thanks to Benito Carrasco and his good wife, Vilo and Ann were well taken care of, but I was worried about them all week. The sheriff took us out to meals and let no one near us and kept us locked up the rest of the time. He played poker with some of the jury members every night until about 12 p.m. (sic – midnight) The trial was over and we found him guilty and sentenced him to life. Boy, was I glad to get home.

Miss Cynthia Monroe sold the ground we had been farming so we had to find some place to go. I went to our finance man, J. C. Wilson. He told me that a Mr. Anderson, whose mother owned a lot of range land, wanted to clear some of it, put in wells and farm part of it and would need some one to run the farm. I saw Anderson and we got together in case he could finance the deal. After checking around for about two weeks he couldn’t get financed. He was alcoholic. He said that I could pick out any half section I wanted and he would take a second mortgage on it. J. C. Wilson said he would finance the clearing, well and crop. So I took it, but it was after New Year’s and I needed a lot of fast work to get a crop in that year.

Love to all, Joe


I bought, with the finance company money, a D4 caterpillar tractor ($2800.00) and a bulldozer ($500.00) and went to clearing. The land was covered with scrub mesquite, more wood underground than above. I hired two operators and they kept the tractor going day and night. We pushed the stumps and roots out with the dozer, then I had ax men trimming, then men piling the wood along where the ditches would be. I cleared about 150 acres that year and got my allotment of cotton in plus some maize. By the time I got the crop grown I had about $10,000 in it – well, pumping, motor fuel, etc. The crop was a little late as we got a late start but it looked good.

In October it was ready to start picking. I had lined up a crew to start picking the next Monday. It was Saturday afternoon and a sudden hail storm came up. Hail stones as large as small eggs. When it quit all my cotton was beat into the ground. Even the branches of the cotton plants were stripped off.

On Monday I went to Pecos to see J. C. Wilson whose company was financing me. He ask me “Do you want to go ahead or quit?” I said I wanted to go ahead. He offered to continue financing me if that was what I wanted. I finished clearing the half section, put in another well and pump, planted my allotment of cotton and put the rest in maize. I kept up with my annual crop loans, but couldn’t reduce the carry over from the bad year. I tried to get some alfalfa started but the water was too bad. I would sow and get a good stand up. Then it would get dry and I would have to water it. Then the gypsum in the water would kill it all.

On December 7, 1941, the Japs brought the U.S. into the war by their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. I had to register for the draught (sic – draft). I decided not to seek deferment but not to volunteer either. I got up to A-1 twice but was cut back because of my age. We struggled along until after the 1947 crop was in. There was a land boom on and I decided to sell.

Kathy was born 9/21/47, at the Pecos Hospital. The doctor didn’t make this one on time eather (sic).

Love to all of you, Joe


Dear Florence,

This weekend was stake conference and I saw Dora and Rodd Kamalu and Brother and Sister Burt Hancock. They all asked about you, where and how.

With love, Joe


When we bought the farm south of Pecos there was nothing on it but mesquite brush so we rented a house in Pecos and moved into it. It was infested with bed bugs we soon learned. I had to disinfect it with cyanide which is very dangerous but very effective. Later when we got a little time Carl and I built a small house on the farm – four rooms and a sleeping porch. The lumber man that sold us the lumber showed us how. It had a tin roof guttered so that we could catch the rain water in a tank. Soft rain water was a luctury (sic). The water from the irrigation well was very jippy (sic – full of gypsum). In fact we had to haul all our kitchen water from town and that wasn’t too good.

World War II was on, with its draft, rationing, etc. We didn’t lack for anything except tires, and by using cotton trailer tires on the car we got by. Coffee stamps we could trade for other things. The farm gasoline allotment and car allotment kept us mobile. We tried reclaimed rubber tires but they were not too good.

The Army built an air field just out of town and had a pilot basic training base there. Quite a few Mormon boys were cadetts (sic) there and we had open house for them. I was service mens coordinator for the area under Hugh B. Brown. The boys held church services at the base so we went there for services. Sergeant Grant Stevens was the Branch President. He and his wife Ilene became very good friends of ours. My draft status got up to A-1 twice then I was deferred because of my age, I guess. I was about 35 or 36 – an old man for the army.

I was chief engineer for Red Bluff for about two weeks before I bought the farm. Mr. Anderson, the engineer, was drafted and Mr. Shaw, the manager, called me in. Anderson had recommended me for the job. Shaw hired me but after about two weeks Anderson got deferred and wanted his job back. I told Shaw I would step down as Anderson was a much better engineer than I.

Love to all of you, Joe


I hired Pilar Dominguez to run the wood gathering crew. After the crop was in I kept him on to help with the farm and I got a job as range inspector for the US Equalization and Conservation Service. They paid part of the cost of building spreader dams, tanks, contour terraces, deferred grazing, etc. My job was to see that things were done right and measure the structures. I made some friends and some enemies on this job, but it was interesting work. I later got a man who had a travel trailer to do dams and tanks. He stayed right with each job. When he quit I quit my job and built dams and tanks myself.

One day we were going to Monahans and an oil line in the Ford broke and ruined the engine. I don’t remember how we got back home, but Carl and I put another engine in. The war was on and parts were hard to get. We couldn’t find anything except an engine out of a boat that had sunk in the Red Bluff Lake. I had a friend that worked in the power plant at the lake and he had fished this engine out of the lake. He sold it to me and we cleaned it up and put it in the car. It was the same as the original and ran a long time for us.

Carl was valedictorian of his class at Pecos High School in the spring of 1947. He didn’t like the farm but wanted to get a job in town, so I agreed and he worked for the Butane company for some time before graduating – part time during school and full time in the summer. In the fall of 1947 he insisted that he wanted to go to Rice University [Institute] in Houston. Just about Thanksgiving we got word that he was failing in his studies. He had been top of his class at Pecos High so I figured something was wrong. Kathy was a baby so Vilo and Kathy stayed home. I, Vilo Jr., Amy, and Ann went down to see what was wrong. We got down there and found that he had asthma so bad that he couldn’t sleep or study. The climate was getting him, so we took him home and then I took him to Logan, Utah, to Utah State where he finished that year.

I still hadn’t been able to pay J. C. Wilson’s first mortgage on the farm and I needed to deepen the wells and put new pumping equipment in. There was a land boom on so I decided to sell rather than go on in deeper.

Love to all, Joe


In September 1945 Little Joe died. We surely missed him for a long time. He was buried in the Pecos City Cemetery. We had a Rock of Ages marker placed at his grave. I sold the farm in the fall of 1947, paid J. C. Wilson off and the second mortgage to the Anderson estate and had a little over $20,000 left. Automobiles were still hard to get but we had to have one. I bought a Kaiser four door sedan. It was a good car for about 40,000 miles then it wasn’t much good after that.

We decided that we wanted to gather to Zion so I took the new car and went looking for a place to land. I wanted to get another farm. I looked around central Utah but couldn’t find anything within my price range. Before Christmas when the school let out for Christmas I got Carl from Logan, Wayne White and a James girl from Provo, and my niece Gerda Pratt from Salt Lake and we headed south. Gerda was going to Chihuahua City so would ride to El Paso with us. With Carl and Wayne driving we went right through to Pecos, just stopping for fuel. The boys did a fine job of driving and we got there without any trouble and not too tired.

Just before we left I started from Logan for the Bear Lake country to look at some dry farm land southeast of Montpelier, Idaho. I got up to the top of the pass between Logan and Bear Lake early in the morning and it was cold. I met a car that was headed for Logan but was stalled up there. It was a family from Star Valley and they were getting cold. Depending on the heater they weren’t dressed very well for cold weather. I stopped but their car would not start so I got every one in my car (I had a good heater), except the driver. We bundled him up the best we could and I pushed him down to Logan to a garage. They found [that] some water had gotten into the fuel line and frozen, cutting the fuel off. They tried to pay me for helping them. I told them no, to pass it on to some one else in trouble. They thanked me and I thought that was the end of it. I went on and looked at the land and decided I didn’t want it.

When I got home to Pecos I went to the post office and my post office box was stuffed full of Swiss cheese from Star Valley, Wyoming. It was surely good.

After Christmas I and Carl went back to Utah, Carl to school and I still looking for a place. I found a place at Riverside, Idaho, near Blackfoot which I thought I would like and could afford. bought it then went home and the moving started.

Love to all, Joe


I don’t remember all the details of the move to Idaho, but Carl got back to Logan for the second quarter. Vilo, Ann, and Kathy first went to Kanosh to visit Martha and Alvin. Amy, Vilo Jr., and I went with the International truck I had gotten with the farm sale. We had all our household on the truck. We went by way of Albuquerque, N.M. Just before we got to Albuquerque I got stomach cramps so bad I couldn’t drive and the girls weren’t old enough to drive. A highway patrolman and a Catholic priest stopped to see what the trouble was. I asked the patrolman to get the girls to a room somewhere and the priest took me to the hospital. I just had severe constipation which they were able to relieve and I got a good nights sleep. The next morning I wanted out of the hospital to find the girls and the truck. The nurse said I would have to wait for the doctor’s release. I said “Get him. I need to get out of here.” I found my clothes and got dressed when the nurse was out and went down to the office and asked for my bill. They said I couldn’t leave. I said I was going so take my money or I will go without it. Then they got busy and came up with a bill. I paid it and walked out. I don’t remember how I located the girls or the truck, but I did and we went on our way. We parked the truck at the farm. The house on the farm was still occupied and needed some work done on it anyway. So I rented an apartment in Blackfoot and got the girls in school. Then I got the rest of the family except Carl. I don’t remember how. This was all in January and it was cold.

I fixed an old two story house that was on part of the farm a little and we moved into it temporary (sic). I bought a used electric cook stove and when they hooked it up they wired the 110 outlet to 220 [volts]. I plugged the iron and the radio into it and burned them both out before I discovered the trouble. The man I bought the stove from fixed it and had the iron and radio fixed. I learned in that house what it cost to heat an uninsulated house in an Idaho winter. As soon as I could, I fixed the other house up – put in a bathroom, kitchen cabinets, heater, etc.

Love to all of you, Joe

[letter missing from our files]

The farming venture in Idaho was a mistake. I didn’t know Idaho farming. It was different from Texas farming. The black valentine beans got wet during harvest and all were called culls, the potatoes were not too good, the grain was all wild oats and there wasn’t enough hay. At the end of the first year I couldn’t pay the bank what I owed them. The winter was so cold that the dairy cows didn’t do too well.

After the crops were in I got a job with Les Williams operating a 14 foot self propelled combine cutting dry land barley. Les had been a sheep man and had bought some 2500 acres of range west of Riverside towards Arco. There was plenty of ground water under it and not too deep so Les was developing it. He would clear the sage brush by plowing the land 3 or 4 times, put it into dry land wheat or barley the first year, then lay out farms, put in wells and pumps, then either rent or sell the irrigated farm. It was good land but had lava outcroppings here and there. As soon as spring came I started to plowing or clearing with a D6 caterpillar tractor. Les had two track-type tractors – the D6 and and an International TD 18. Larry Thomas drove the TD 18. We would start plowing around a section of land. After plowing around the lava spots we were soon traveling maybe 6 or 8 miles instead of 4 miles around the section. That fall I drilled all the land we had plowed into dry land wheat. I pulled 4 drills with the D6 tractor, later with an International D9W tire mounted tractor. The drills were hooked to a cart pulled by the tractor then two drills then the other two behind them. It made a rather mean outfit to turn around. If you turned too short the back drill would climb up over the front one. I drilled some at night. One night I dozed and got too close to the highway at a corner and had to pull across the highway to make the turn. Lucky there was very little or no traffic.


I am not going to date any of the following events. They all happened in Idaho between ’48 and so [1948 and 1950]. I drilled about 2500 acres of dry land wheat before it froze up. We parked the tractors at the head of a field and winterized them. I made a trip to the northwest trying to find a place to move to. I went as far as Grand Cooley Dam, checked over Moses Lake and Pasco, Washington. I liked Pasco but their cash crop was mint and as I still had farm in mind and was afraid of mint I went back to Riverside without deciding anything. That was pretty country and Grand Cooley is really something. About Christmas time the family went to visit Grandma Susie and I went to Phoenix via Los Vegas. I got to Las Vegas and it was snowing. I spent the night there and the next morning I called the highway dept. and they said all roads were blocked out of Vegas. About 10 a.m. I decided I was going on anyway so I started south through Searchlight. The snow kept getting deeper and deeper. After a while I met a snow plow coming from Searchlight. Then I could go right along, but I soon met a car coming from that way and there wasn’t room to pass. I jammed the Kaiser into a snow bank and let the other car pass, then backed onto the road again and went on. I got to Searchlight and almost everything was closed and there was about 32 inches of snow on the level. It was past noon and I was hungry. I went into the only cafe that was open and asked the one man in there what he had to eat. He said white fish was all he had. I said “Give me some white fish.” He brought it and it was good. I said “That was very good. The first white fish I ever ate.” He said “I’m glad you liked it. It was the first white fish I ever cooked.”

Love to all, Joe


Back in Idaho we sold the farm and the cows and moved into a house belonging to Les Williams. I worked for Les and Aunt Jenny Williams showed us how to raise a garden in Idaho. I drove the D6 cat mostly with the dozer on leveling land and getting it ready for irrigation. When the spring thaw came we had to get the starting engine fixed. The tractors were parked in a snow bank at the head of a field. I went out there and scraped the snow off the top of the D6 and pulled the starting engine, put it on the tractor hood, which I had inverted, and used it as a sled to get out to the road. Les took it to Idaho Falls and had it overhauled. When he brought it back and put it in the cat it was still cold at night. I started the tractor and bucked snow banks all day. Antifreeze was not used at that time in tractors, so I drained it before I went home. The next morning I tried to start the starting engine, but it locked, wouldn’t turn over. Les said to find out the trouble so I drained the tractor again and took the heads off the starter. The combustion chambers were full of ice. I found the head gaskets had been installed wrong and water had leaked into the combustion chambers, frozen and thus locked the engine. Les said to go ahead and fix it. Nothing was broken so I just had to put the gaskets in right.

That spring and summer Larry Thomas on the TD 18 and I on the D6 worked getting farms ready for irrigation. I got fairly good with the dozer and Larry was good with the carryall behind the TD 18. Come harvest time Les got three more Massey-Davis combines to go with the one he had. I was given the job of keeping them running – quite a job with all the sage brush stumps in the new ground. But I managed to keep an average of 3 in operation all the time.

Love to all of you, Joe


About the time harvest was over Vilo and I decided we wanted to teach school. Vilo applied for an elementary school teaching job and sent for her credentials and references, which were many and recommended her highly. I applied to the Blackfoot High School. They had an opening for a math teacher and said I could have the job if no one better qualified applied. I had never taught school and had no recommendations except my BS degree from Utah State and it wasn’t in education. Before school started some one else applied who was better qualified so I was out. We told the board if I didn’t teach Vilo didn’t teach either, so that was that.

In August Les sent me and four boys to Iland (sic – Island) Park to get out timbers for spud cellars. We had a good outfit, including tents. Almost every morning two elk would come into camp early to wake us up and see that we got to work, I guess. Les wanted the logs pealed (sic), but the sap had quit running and they wouldn’t peel very good. One Saturday Les, Aunt Jenny, and their son Bill came up to peel logs and show us dumb boys how easy it was. They found that it wasn’t so easy. They brought some drinking water in clear glass gallon jugs. Bill opened one to get a drink and it tasted of coal oil so he put the cork back in and set it down by an old dead log.

Sunday was cloudy. Monday morning our friends the elk got us up and to work early. It was a nice day – no clouds. About 10 a.m. Carl, who was with us, said to me after I had felled a tree “Dad, there is a fire over there.” Sure enough, the old dead log where Bill had dropped the water jug was burning. We got shovels and trenched around the fire, then cut the limbs off and threw them into the fire, thus making a fire lane around the fire.

Amy was at the girls camp in the park and was seeing the look-out tower that morning. Looking through the telescope she spotted the smoke from our fire and reported it.

Love to all, Joe


Amy spotted the fire and reported it. The forest service came over in their four wheel drive jeeps and were quite put out because we had the fire all under control. They found the broken jug by the dead log and said the sun’s rays through the clear glass and the water had been magnified enough to start the fire. They really gave Les Williams a bad time over it. We finished getting our quota of logs out, loaded up and went back to home base.

Jack Williams, Vilo’s brother, had bought some land at Willcox, Arizona, and wanted me to come down and help with it. He was still living on his place at McNary, Texas, and his brother J.M. was at Willcox and I was to help him. So that fall after doing some more leveling for Les, we loaded up the truck and pulled the Ford behind it. Vilo drove the Kaiser and I the truck and we went back to the sunny south. I never had liked Idaho, especially after loosing some money there, about $10,000.

I didn’t work for Jack long. He had rented a place from Fred Mellor and wanted me to take it for $2000 a year cash rent. It was a half section with one well on it – about one hundred acres in cultivation and the rest uncleared but fair pasture land.

There were about 30 LDS people in Willcox. It was a dependent branch of Pomerene Ward. Franklin East was bishop. We held Sunday school at Dean Bennett’s place on the edge of Willcox. Dean taught agriculture and shop at the high school. We held Primary in the old Stewart District school house. It wasn’t used for school but as a kind of community club house. Vilo was President, I think. Anyway she almost ran the Primary.

Love to all, Joe


We hadn’t been in Willcox long when we started to hold Sunday meetings in the Willcox Woman’s Club house. Then Dean Bennett moved away after being Branch President for a short time. President Jared J. Trejo of the Southern Arizona Stake had made Willcox an independent branch. Dean was branch president and I was a counselor. When Dean moved, President Trejo asked me to take the job. We rented the Woman’s Club house for Sunday meetings, but still used the Stewart District School house for Primary and MIA. At MIA nearly everyone learned to square dance and we had a lot of fun.

It wasn’t long until we decided to build a small church house. I went to Salt Lake at conference time and talked to the Presiding Bishopric and the Building Committee. The building department at that time was run by one man – I don’t remember his name – and the Presiding Bishopric. I got permission to go ahead and got plans for a small building which could be expanded. The next thing was to get real estate and building money. A Mr. Dunlap had some lots for sale in a good location. We got enough money together to buy them with church participation 50%. By everybody cooperating we got enough money together to start and hired two jack leg carpenters from Safford to supervise the work. They had done some work for Jack Williams and he recommended them. I as Branch President felt that I had to keep the project going. We got the footing and stem walls in and decided to use colored concrete blocks for the walls. There was an outfit in Benson that made them. Then we had to find someone to show us how to lay them. The carpenters said they couldn’t do it. So we found a retired bricklayer living in Benson who said he would help us and show us how.

Love to all, Joe

[letter missing from our files]

I was branch president and felt that I had to keep the project going. David Noble was a counselor in the branch presidency until President Trejo called him to the High Council. He was a good counselor and I hated to lose him, but the Stake needed him and I wouldn’t buck the Stake.

I am writing this chapter strictly from memory, as I have no other source of information so most dates will be indefinite. President Trejo ordained me to the office of High Priest. We finished the chapel and moved in. It was good to have a place of our own. As a welfare project I let the branch work some of the cotton on the Mellor place which I had rented (cash rent). The proceeds went to the welfare fund. I had planted the cotton with my four row planter and had a four row cultivator. It was necessary to put the cultivator over the same rows as the planter had made. If you didn’t some cotton would be plowed up. David Noble, who had never worked cotton, wanted to run the cultivator so I showed him how and explained about following the planter rows. He got off a row or two and when I got back he was plowing up quite a bit of cotton. There was a good stand and we were thinning anyway so it didn’t hurt much, but we got a laugh at David. Carl and Vilo were in school at Idaho State in Pocatello, Idaho.


Florence was born October 15, 1952, at Willcox Hospital – no complications thanks to Dr. Havermire who took special interest in the case. We finished the chaple (sic) and moved in. Vilo graduated from Idaho State, came home, and taught school in San Simon. She became good friends to Uncle Jess and Aunt Verla Williams who lived in San Simon at that time.

For family details I refer you to your mother’s account in our Book of Remembrance. I was ordained a High Priest by President Jared J. Trejo.

I got a job on the new Willcox school buildings. To get it I had to join the Carpenters and Joiners Union. My dues were paid in installments so the higher wages more than offset the cost.

After one year of teaching in San Simon, Vilo went on a mission to Mexico. By pre-arrangement she went to Chihuahua City where Harold lived and was called from the mission because she was not old enough for a call from a ward.

Amy graduated from Willcox High School, got a scholarship from the Willcox Woman’s Club for nurses training and went to Rexburg, Idaho, for training at Ricks College and LDS Hospital in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

I worked at Kearny, Hayden, Ft. Huachuca, Sierra Vista, and other places around the state of Arizona in construction, mostly concrete form work. The Willcox branch was made a ward with Dale King as Bishop. I was released as Branch President and called to the Stake High Council.

All hiring was done through the union and at times it was quite slow. In 1960 I got a job with Agri. [Agricultural] Commodities, an association that contracted Mexican Nationals under the Bracero program. My job was to see that the farmers who hired the men complied with the contract and that the braceros did too, that the camps where the men were housed were properly run. In other words I was right in the middle of everything.

Love to all, Joe


I am not going to try to list all the family happenings. Your mother has done that very well in her history of the Joe Pratt family. I haven’t said much about her, but she was a big part of it all. Always beside me, never pushing but I allways (sic) knew where she stood on any issue. I loved and still love her dearly and hope she does me. We have lost contact for a time, but I hope that I can be worthy of renewing our relationship some time.

The bracero work was seasonal and in the off seasons Agri. Commodities paid me a retainer and I got work in construction, which worked out very well as I was always able to find something.

The governments of the U.S. and Mexico decided to discontinue the bracero program and I could see that my job with them would soon end. The Presidency of the Tucson Stake offered me the job of operating the stake farm at Marana and I accepted. I had to build a house to live in as there wasn’t any on the farm. I built a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house on the corner of the 160 acres and got water from a neighbor, planted and harvested one crop of cotton and maize and started another. The stake Presidency decided to rent the 160 acres out, so that put me out of a job. They planned to build a stake center in Tucson and offered me a wage during construction and the job of custodian when it was finished. But the project was not ready to start.

Rulon Goodman offered me a job of general farm work on his farm in Rillito. He had a nice house for us. I worked there for a while but Rulon and I didn’t get along very well and he finally asked me to move. The stake center project wasn’t ready to go yet and I didn’t know where to go. Goodman wanted his house, so we loaded all our household things on a cotton trailer I had and were trying to decide where to go when David Anway offered me a job raising calves which he bought from dairies around the country. He had about 8 milch cows to feed them with. Most of them had been neglected before he got them and it was hard to get them started right again. We lived in a mobile home which he furnished and left our stuff on the trailer under a shed.

Love to all, Joe


My dates are confused but it must have been in the spring of 1966, Bishop Accord called and said they were ready to start building on the new stake center and wanted me to move into Tucson to work on it on a salary and when construction was over to stay on as custodian. Vilo was in California with Ann who was ill.

Florence and I tried to find a place to rent but could not find anything we liked. Finally we passed a place with a “for sale” sign. It was 5937 E. 30th St. We went to see the real estate people who had it listed and found we could buy it and the mortgage payments wouldn’t be as much as the rent on an apartment. We had enough money for the small down payment and closing costs so we bought it. Terms: $10,500, a 35 year mortgage at 6% interest and monthly payments around $100 a month. This varies slightly year to year. It has been as high as $104 and as low as $93. We brought our trailer load of stuff in and moved into the house immediately by special permission before the deal was closed.

Ernest Clothier and I built the forms for the stem walls, the first work done on the [stake] building and I continued to work on the project until it was completed, all the way from form work and concrete pouring to finish carpentry. I like the work and the association with the people who came to work there.

The custodial work was a chalange (sic). I had never done any of that kind of work before. Reed Thurber was to help me on a part time basis. He started telling me when and how to do things. This I didn’t like and told him so. He said I could do as he said or leave the job. I told him I didn’t think he had the authority to fire me. I asked Bishop Accord about it and couldn’t get a positive answer.

Love to all of you, Joe


[according to the date of the next letters Papa Joe skipped some in his writing then went back]

Bishop Accord was released and called to be a counselor in the Tucson Stake [Presidency]. He never had given a definite decision on who was boss at the church. Leo Johnson was the new bishop. He finally said he guessed Reed Thurber was head man. By that time Reed and I had learned to work together without either being boss and there was no more conflict. Reed and I became good friends. His sewer line got stopped up and I dug and probed until I found the obstruction and pulled it out – a six foot long mass of roots. Then he helped me put a new roof on my house. Mostly I did the inside work and he did the outside.

The Tucson North Stake was organized and temporarily housed in our building. For a while we had four wards and two stakes in the building.

About this time the church building maintainance department was [formed] and they hired a regional super. [supervisor]. I don’t remember his name but it is just as well because I have nothing good to say about him. He tried to get me fired right from the start, saying I was too old for the job. Bishop Johnson and the stake supervisor Ken Mattingly wouldn’t buy it and I stayed on until I was 65, then retired. So he never did get me fired. He tried to get Bill Luke fired too, because he held a job with the city, but he never made that either. Bill’s wife and family did most of the janitor work on the 3rd and 4th ward chapel and did an excellent job, so the good man could do nothing but try.

Florence graduated from Palo Verde High School and that fall went to Provo, Utah, to live with Vilo and Gill and go to BYU.

Love to all, Joe


As my 65th birthday approached I checked with those who hired me. They said that I could stay on until I was aged 70 if I wanted to. I also checked with social security and after using a pencil on their date, found that my s.s. benefits plus Vilo’s as wife and Florence as student totaled about the same money I was making and it was tax-free. I wasn’t paying much income tax but it was a factor to be considered. So we put in for s.s. about 3 months before my birthday and it worked out about the way I had figured it would. So we decided to retire on my 65th birthday and make my good friend of the church maintenance department happy.

Carl and family had moved to San Manuel, and Ann and Steve were teaching in San Manuel so we decided to buy a mobile home and move up there.

The Tucson North Stake Presidency offered me part time employment on the stake farm and the house I had built there to live in. I accepted and went up to Marana to check with Dan Post, the farm manager, and see about the house. Dan Post had been agreeable at first but now said he didn’t see how a part time man would be much help. I went back to President Peterson and told him what Dan had said and that I did not want to work there if he did not want me. It put the Stake Presidency in an embarrassing position, but President Peterson [appreciated] that I had let them off so easily. So we went on with our plans, found a nice 10 x 55 ft mobile home and had it moved to a mobile home park near San Manuel.

Love to all, Joe


We moved into our trailer at the San Manuel Mobile Home Park. We took care of Joe Stevenson while Ann taught school. She would leave him in the morning and get him in the evening.

My sister Amy Romney wrote that she was in a rest home and wanted out, could I do any thing about it. Vilo and I went to Salt Lake and arranged for her to go home if we would stay with her for a while. We spent the summer of 1973 with her at her old home. Vilo and I used to take long walks about that part of town. The one we liked best was a foot path up the canyon behind Genevieve Romney’s home [which was next door to Amy’s]. From the path one could hardly tell we were in the city.

Amy’s health improved and by September we figured she could make it alone with the help of the Relief Society and the Bishop so we went back to San Manuel and resumed taking care of Joe Stevenson while Ann was in school. We had Christmas, New Year’s, and my birthday. Vilo’s birthday, 23rd of February, was coming up. I had bought her a battery powered watch for her birthday. She magnetized all winding watches so that they wouldn’t run. On February 20 she had a massive stroke and after about 20 hours passed over to the spirit world. I hope I can be worthy to be with her some time. She was a wonderful companion and mother of our children. I won’t try to describe her – she was the best. Left alone I tried to take care of Joe, but it wasn’t the same. How I missed her and still do.

Love to all of you, Joe


Vilo Sr.’s funeral was very impressive. Conducted by Bishop William Bingham. Invocation by Reed Thurber. Song “Beyond the Sunset” by James D. Cornia. Obituary by Barton Pratt. Speakers were Herbert Hancock and S. Dilworth Young. Song “Unanswered Yet” by Marilyn Cooper and Lois Reay. I am sure all of you have the program.

Florence had been in Spain on study tour and got back about the first of the year. She had finished all requirements for a BA degree from BYU and had done her practice teaching at an American school in Spain. She went to the school district office in Provo to see about a teaching job for the next year. They offered her a job teaching Junior High for the rest of the year. She took it and found that teaching Junior High was not too pleasant but she stayed the term.

She met Eric Ashby at Gill’s and Vilo’s house and after a not too long courtship they were married. Gill and Vilo did every thing they could to make it a happy and memorable occasion. They had open house for them. My sister Amy Romney and brother-in-law S. Dilworth Young and his wife were at the open house.

Gill wanted for me to see his and his brothers farming operation in California, so at Christmas time 1974 I drove up and got a room in nearby Selma and called the farm. Vilo, Gill and family were there and Vilo came over the next morning to lead me to the farm. They had 40 acres there and 40 over near Carruthers about 10 miles from one to the other. Gill wanted me to build a place to live on the Carruthers 40 and do the irrigating of it to save so much traveling back and forth. I decided to do it, so I irrigated that 40 and built a small house to live in. I enjoyed the work and think I helped out a little.

Love to all, Joe


After the irrigating was over for the crop, I went back to Tucson to see my Dr. I was having pain in my hands, arms and shoulders and the doctor at Carruthers didn’t seem to help any. Dr. Oiler (Oyler) in Tucson had X rays taken of my upper spine and decided the trouble was a pinched nerve in my spine and had me get a rig to put traction on my neck. That seemed to help, so I went back to California and helped around until the grapes were all picked and laid out in the vineyard to dry into raisins. Before they were dry enough it rained, then a few days later it rained again. The crop was a total loss – all they got out of it was the insurance.

Eric and Erin were planning on building a place for their John Deere business so I decided to go to Chattanooga to help. I started out in my bug and got well on my way when my car quit on me (bad valves). I couldn’t get any one to fix it in less than a week and I couldn’t afford to wait around that long. I found a mechanic that had a bug with a rebuilt engine in it which I could get for about what my repair bill on the old one would be, plus the old car. So I made the trade and went on. I helped Eric and Erin until their building was about ready, then started back to California, via Arizona. I wanted to see Doin (Doyne) and Louisa at Little Rock, Arkansas. I spent the night in Little Rock. Louisa was out at the cabin at Marblehead. The next morning I went out to start the car and it wouldn’t run. I got a VW mechanic to look at it and he said that the engine was shot. He had an engine that he said would fit and said he would put it in for $350.00. I told him to do it, then called Louisa and she came and got me. The so-called cabin was a very expensive and well built home in an exclusive area. There was a guard house at the entrance to the area and one had to have a pass or a resident with him to get in. I spent three days with them then Doyne was taking the plane for a cotton convention in El Paso, Texas. My car was ready so I went into Little Rock with them, got my car and went on. Doyne had misplaced his plane ticket and finally had to buy another.

Love to all, Joe


I got to going too fast and passed up some things that should be in this record. During the summer while I was irrigating and building on the Carruthers 40, Ann and Joseph came over for a short visit. They left Steve in Flagstaff with a heavy schedule at Arizona State University, Flagstaff. Ann and Steve had just bought a new Chevy Nova and Ann was driving it. Gill was at Fowler. The four of us went to San Francisco in Ann’s car. Vilo and her family got there just ten minutes after we did. We spent a day or two with Gill’s brothers in San Francisco. We all took a ride on Bart (Bay Area Rapid Transit) just for the fun of it. Those cars really move along. When we left Frisco every one except Ann, Vilo Kay and I wanted to go to the beach south of Frisco so we let Joe go with the Gills and took Vilo Kay in his place in Ann’s car and went ahead of the others back to the farm. We really enjoyed the trip and getting to know Vilo Kay.

Ann, Joseph and I took another day off and went to see the big redwood trees out in the Kings Canyon National Park east of Fresno. Those trees are really something – thick and tall. Their bark alone must be a foot thick. While we were looking at the trees and other things Ann had locked her car. When we got ready to leave we found that the car was locked with the keys inside. We went over to a camper parked nearby and borrowed a coat hanger, bent it around in the proper shape with a hook on one end, inserted it in between the window glass and the rubber gasket, lifted the lock ketch (sic) and the car was opened – time consumed about 10 minutes. No problem.

Love to all, Joe


I left Little Rock. All seemed OK. Got to Pecos, Texas, that evening and the starter was promising trouble. I stayed in Pecos that night. I went to see Joe’s grave. Everything seemed all right. The next morning the starter wouldn’t work. I located a VW mechanic and he said he fixed it. I went on to San Manuel and it still started the car, but didn’t seem right. I went on over to California to my little house on the Carruthers place.

I had my church membership in the Selma Ward. I liked the people there. They had a special interest group that was quite active but it was all female. There were six or eight women divorcees or widows. I was the only man. The regional and stake special interest put on a three day deal – classes or lectures on various subjects ending with a dinner dance the last evening. The dinner was good but the eight women from Selma Ward wanted to dance and gave me a bad time trying to keep up with them. I am not a good dancer and don’t especially like to dance. The starter on my car quit again that last day and I put it in a VW shop in Fresno and hired a car to drive while it was being fixed. The ring gear and starter pinion were of different models and didn’t mesh exactly. They put in a new ring gear and that solved the problem. I had the rented car for one day only.

The special interest group in Selma ward (all women) met once a week and had dinner together. I went to two of them. I had decided to go back to Arizona because of a shakeup in the farm situation. I had told the special interest group that I was leaving, so that last dinner they gave me a tie to remember them by. I think they all had marriage in mind, but I did not.

Love to all, Joe


I had decided to move back to Arizona, but I had too much stuff to carry in the bug. I called Carl to see if he would lend me his van to move with. Instead he came up to get me. He brought a tow bar with him so we just piled everything in the van, put the car in tow and came back to sunny southern Arizona. I had enjoyed being in California and had learned something about grapes and raisin cultivating and about Indian culture and food. I really like their food.

Some time after I got back to San Manuel I went to Tucson on a very windy day. On the way back near Oracle I lost control of the car and rolled it. It stopped squarly on its top. Luckily the back window popped out and left an exit which I used right quick. I was not hurt but shook up a little. A deputy got there soon, then a highway patrolman. They both said the wind had caused the wreck. They didn’t even give me a ticket. I don’t know if it was the wind or my sleepyheadedness but I did not argue with them about the cause. I let the wind take the blame. The patrolman called a wrecker from Oracle to pick up the wreck, then took me in to the store in San Manuel. Thus ended my association with the little red bug. I sold it to the wrecker man for towing charges plus $25.00 and I was a foot.

I had completed a course in locksmithing while in Salt Lake with Amy Romney. It was offered by Belsaw Institute. The San Manuel ward had key problems – too many people had keys to the chapel. Bishop Downey asked me to rekey it. I changed the combinations on all the locks, master-keyed the building and had three or four change keys for different parts of the building so leaders could get into the building and certain rooms, but not all. It was a big order for me, but I got it done, and everyone was happy except those who had keys that wouldn’t open the doors any more.

Carl and Dolores bought the place up in the Aravaipa Canyon and moved up there. Gayle and Randy also moved into the little house on the place.

Love to all, Joe


Amy, Paula, Shauna, and Todd came to see us. They wanted to go to the colonies in Mexico so I made all the arrangements at the Mexican tourist bureau. Then Janet decided she would like to go too. I figured that if she took her birth certificate there would be no trouble getting a tourist pass for her at Palomas, Mexico. When we got there that certificate had vanished. The Mexican officers were not going to let her in without it. After considerable arguing I said we are not going to leave her here alone so we just won’t go and started to get everything into the car. Mexico likes the tourist dollar and saw it getting away, so the head man said “Let us talk about this a little”. (five dollars under the table would have cleared the air at this point), but I was a little angry and not about to give him a bribe. Finally he said we will make an exception this time and made out the necessary papers. We all got in the car and went happily on our way. We got rooms in a Roadway Inn at Nuevo Casas Grandes, very near to Colonia Dublan. I found that things had changed in the old hometown and I had a hard time finding my way around at first, but then I got wright (sic). I found the old home and Bishop Call’s old home. We visited a little with Charlie Call’s widow. She was living in a new modern house near the old one. We spent two days and two nights there, went to the grave yard, on out to the lakes, over to Colonia Juarez, saw the academy where I had gone to school. The girls took pictures of everything. Todd worried about the car on the rough road down there, but we got by without any trouble. It was good to have been there, but it was better to get back on the American side. We brought back several quarts of vanilla extract made by my old friend Dr. Shell, a German chemist who had been my pharmacist when I had typhoid fever years back. He was old, but still active.

Love to all, Joe


Carl wanted to send a pickup truck up to Ross, and Janet and I took it up. Janet had a learners permit to drive, so with me and my license she could drive. She did not drive through Phoenix as she did not like the traffic. We went through Mesa so we didn’t get on the freeway until we were about out of Phoenix. She drove most of the rest of the way. We stopped and watched lumber being sawed in a mill near Fredonia, got rooms and stayed in Carmel Junction that night and got to Provo about noon next day.

Gill tried to give me the VW Vilo Kay had been driving. I said I would give him $500 for it, so I got me another VW. They are cheap transportation.

I decided to go to the 5 day sharpening school given by Foley at Minneapolis, Minnesota. I took the plane back there, reported at the motel where we were to stay. The receptionist asked if I would like a non-smoking room-mate, which I did. He was a Mormon from Utah County and a very nice fellow. The school was very interesting. Naturally they wanted to sell Foley machines. I bought a Spartan grinder which would sharpen either steel or carbide tipped blades and had it sent to San Manuel. Then I flew to Chatt., Tenn. (excuse the abbreviations). I stayed there for a while then took a plane back to Tucson. My connection from Dallas was late so the captain made up time on the Dallas-Tucson run. By the clock we got to Tucson five minutes before we left Dallas. Pretty fast, no. Of course we crossed two time zones.

I got my Spartan grinder, took it to Carl’s ranch and set it up. It is a good machine, but there isn’t much grinding business up Aravaipa Canyon. After checking with Eric I decided grinding and sharpening would be a good addition to Eric’s shop, so in the early spring I loaded everything in the bug or on it. I had the sharpall tied on a rack on top of the car.

Love to all, Joe


When Carl’s family and I moved into Kearny Ward too many people had keys to the chapel, even a local minister had a key and would come into the library and run off stuff for his own use on ward paper, using ward equipment. The Bishop found out somehow that I knew something about locks, so he asked me if I could do something about it. I said “Sure. Change the combinations on all the locks, outside and inside too.” He said to go ahead so I changed the combinations on all the locks, master-keyed the whole building and set up various areas with change keys. When I got through I suppose there were quite a few people unhappy (the minister) because their keys would no longer open the doors. However nobody ever complained that I know of.

In last letter I was all loaded up to take my sharpening machines back to Chatt., Tenn. The sharpall was tied on top of the car. This load on top bothered me all the way because I couldn’t see it without stoping (sic). I got down close to Little Rock, Arkansas. The road was narrow, it had snowed a little, thawed, the water running across the blacktop then freazing again. I skidded some and the trucks which passed me would almost blow me off the road. It got dark and I got nervous so the first motel I came to I got a room and shut down for the night. The next morning after the sun was up for a little while the ice melted and I went on with no problem. I went by Memphis, Nashville and on down to Chatt., but by that time it was dark again and I got lost. Had to call Eric to come and get me. I wasn’t too far from the store so we pulled the car in there and left it for the night and went home in Eric’s car.

Love to all, Joe


When we went back to the store the next day to get the VW I found a knot the size of my fist on the left front tire. Lucky it hadn’t gone out on me the night before. Naturally the tire had to be replaced. I unloaded and set the machines up in Eric’s shop. I stayed with Eric and Florence for about two months, then my feet started to get the “go” itch. While I was there the VW pulled a prank on me. One night Dad Ashby heard it cranking, but it soon stopped. He told me about it, but I thought that he must have heard something else because I had the keys in my pocket. The next night I heard it cranking and got up to see what was happening. Sure enough, it had cranked itself about thirty feet across the patio and stopped against a concrete wall it couldn’t push over. It was still cranking when I got there. I had to take the ground off the battery to get it stopped and the keys were in my pocket all the time. The next day Eric found an electric relay that had malfunctioned. Someone had just put it in for some reason. It didn’t belong there. I had it taken out and the car wired the way it was supposed to be.

When I left Chattanooga I went by Kansas City and went to see what Belsaw Equipment had. They had just come out with a carbide tip grinder they called the 20-20. I impulsively bought it. It would sharpen either carbide tipped saw blades or steel – just used different grinding wheels. When I got back to Aravaipa I had to have some other equipment to go with it so I bought a bench grinder and a belt grinder from Sears mail order place in San Manuel and a saw setter and a circular blade grinder from Belsaw and I was back in business, but no business up in the canyon. But I still had the machine to play with and sharpen my own blades.

Love to all, Joe


The Globe Stake was to build a Stake center. They made arrangements with Brother Ralph Burton, the general contractor to use volunteer labor as much as possible. When I heard that I sent word to the brouthern (sic) that if they would find me a place to stay that I would help for the duration of the project. They borrowed a nice little trailer with butane stove, etc., and got a refrigerator for me. Hooked up to a septic tank, got water and lights into the trailer and I was fixed up. All this on the sight (sic – site). Then I learned that they wanted me to be watchman too which was fine with me. I didn’t have to lose any sleep, just be there. Brother B. J. Cecil was the man in charge of the volunteer labor and the equipment for exacvating (sic) and filling. Later for grading and paving the parking lot. He could really get the job done. He either had or could get on short notice the equipment needed. Brother Burton and Brother Taylor, his superintendent, were very cooperative, so it all worked out nicely. With the credit from the member labor and assessment colextions (sic) the building was all paid for before the work was all done. I helped set concrete forms, built forms, did general carpenter work and formed and helped finish side walks and curbs. Brother Lynn Taylor of the Stake Presidency helped a lot, especially the painting. The women, with his supervision, did almost all of the painting and did a bang up good job.

I liked the work and made a lot of friends, solved some problems, and stayed with it until it was finished. I also had my sharpening equipment up there and kept the saws and cutting tools sharp.


Eric Ashby and Rogers Jordan were good friends and room-mates when Eric met and married my youngest daughter, Florence. Rodger (sic) did not marry for about eight years. Then he met my granddaughter, Paula Christensen, at Vilo’s home, fell for her and after a short courtship, married her. So Eric married my daughter and Rogers my granddaughter.

I was in Idaho. Paula and Rogers were there and had reservations on a flight back to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Vilo and I had planned a trip back to Chattanooga to see Florence and Eric. I was to take Rogers and Paula to Salt Lake, then go to Provo to get Vilo. Just before we got to McCammon the transmission on my car failed. Paula and Rogers hitchhiked to Shauna’s father-in-law’s place in McCammon and one of their boys took them on to Salt Lake. Someone called Chris and he and Dodd (sic – Todd) came down to take Rogers and Paula on down. When they found they were already gone they took me back to the car. We decided we couldn’t move it with their car so we went back to Firth to get a pickup and tow bar. Then we went back and got the car and towed it in to Mitch’s place of work. Mitch called the VW agent in Idaho Falls about a new transmission. They wanted nine hundred dollars for one. My car only cost $500 so I couldn’t see putting $900 into it. I called a VW place in Provo and they had a used one [a transmission] for $150. I borrowed Chris’s Chrysler and went after it. While I was gone Chris found one for $100 but that was too late. I had already bought the one in Provo. I took it back to Shelly and Mitch and I put it in. I had about decided not to go to Chattanooga, but Vilo was ready and willing to take a chance. So we decided to go.

Love to all, Joe


Vilo and I decided to go to Chatt., Tennessee. The second night out we stopped near Ft. Smith, Arkansas. Vilo called Louisa and Louisa told her of a short cut to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and for her to call from there and she would come and lead us out to their place. We got on the road about six of the clock and were in Hot Springs by 8:30 and called Louisa, then had breakfast. Just after we ate Louisa came and we all went to their place which we might not have ever found without Louisa to guide us. We were there for a day or two. Louisa didn’t think that the VW would get us to Chattanooga, but we started with confidence and the bug justified our trust. We got to Chattanooga before dark and with Vilo’s help I found our way to the Ashby’s without any trouble. Vilo had planned on taking a flight back after a few days visit with Florence and Eric. So we took her to Atlanta to her flight.

I stayed on and Eric had my VW painted a John Deere yellow, a really professional job. I had thought of a fire engine red, but they had John Deere paint on stock, and so we decided to make it yellow. After the paint job, Eric and Erin decided to overhaul the engine. They really went to a lot of extra work to make it the best – balanced the piston assemblies, put in a new oil pump, had the heads checked and the valves and seats ground. I let them furnish the labor and know-how and I paid for the parts. Eric balanced the carburetors and my VW ran like a new one. After they got through with it I had to ring it out so I took off for Arizona via Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. I liked the southern route and it seemed shorter than the other way. I stoped (sic) the second night in Pecos, Texas, and went out to see Little Joe’s grave. Everything seemed to be all right. I ate a hamburger and went to bed. The next morning I got up feeling bad, so I left without eating. The farther I drove the sicker I got. I had planned to stop in El Paso and visit some friends, but I was too sick. So I just kept on driving until I got to Kathy’s in Tucson. I stopped then. I was sick for several days. Stomach flu, I think. [Carl is fairly certain that that “stomach flu” was really heart trouble.]

Love to all, Joe


Come summer of 1982, I went to Utah with Carl. We went by Barfield, Colorado, to see Alan who was working there at a big resort lodge – elevation about 9000 feet. I had to move slowly and rest often to keep my heart calm. It bothered me until we got to a lower elevation. I really didn’t even know I had a heart until I got up there.

We got to Provo and the Gills were going to Tennessee to visit Florence and Eric. Paul couldn’t go – he had too much to do. Gill was to come later by air and Chela [Sheila] was to go back on the round trip ticket. We visited a museum in Denver, spent a night in Kansas, the second night in Van Buren, Arkansas. The next morning we tried to find Parley P. Pratt’s grave and monument. We couldn’t find it on our own but after asking several people we were directed to it. It is an impressive place. The church has bought the entire graveyard – about one fourth of an acre. They have a chain link fence around it and the sod has been mowed. The place looks nice – someone is taking care of it. The monument is about 5 feet high and 4 feet square. The girls took pictures of it. Nothing else in the plot is impressive.

From there we went to Hot Springs, Arkansas, and called Louisa to come and lead us to her house. We stayed there for two days and nights. We had a good visit with J. R. and Louisa. The kids had fun with the intercom, calling each other from all parts of the house. We went on from there and got to Eric and Florence’s in the late afternoon. We found their place without any trouble. I am getting to know that country better all the time. After a day or two we went to Atlanta to get Gill and put Sheila on the plane back to Utah.

Love to all, Joe


We left Tennessee going back to Provo – Gill and Susan driving. We went by Manhattan, Kansas to see Gill’s brother – the botanist. He is working with wheat to get better and higher production. We got back to Provo all right – a little tired of traveling and Stephen saying he was bored. Vilo’s and Gill’s boys and I built onto the garage to make a shop with work bench. It seemed the kids each had a bike for each hand or maybe their friends had theirs there too. Anyway they all moved from the garage into the shop. One had to move bikes to get even into the shop. Gill wanted to buy my shop tools, but I told him I would not sell but put them in his shop so they would be there when I didn’t need them any more. So I fired up my yellow VW and went to Tucson, loaded everything in the car. There was barely room enough left for me to get in to drive. Then I went back to Provo and moved the bikes around so I could get the shop equipment in. I hope they will get some good from it. Then after staying there for a while I came back to Arizona. I don’t like to stay too long away from there. My grandchildren keep getting married one at a time. This time it was Karen. I drove my VW up so I would have transportation. I was having trouble with the starter. I first thought it was the battery, so I got a new one in Winkleman and put it in. Before I got to Provo it wouldn’t start except by push. Then I thought it must be the generator. I put it in the shop in Provo and asked them to check the generator. They put in a new voltage regulator. I had both batteries charged and thought it was fixed. After the wedding and a stay of two or three weeks at Vilo’s I decided to go up to Chris and Amy’s. I hadn’t driven my car much around Provo and it started ok when it was cold. When I stopped for gas in Pocatello it wouldn’t start. I had to get a push to start it. I got on up to Idaho and Mitch thought it was the starter, so we put in a new starter.

Love to all, Joe


The new starter Mitch put in the car was reluctant to start it. The next morning it wouldn’t start at all. I told Chris “I think the car parts people gave Mitch a twelve volt starter to go in a six volt system.” We called Mitch and he called the parts house and sure enough, they had sold him a twelve volt starter. We pulled the car to start it and went back to Shelley and put the six volt starter in. It still didn’t seem just right, but I thought I was just to particular. I went on to Provo. It started reluctantly when I stopped for gas.

The next morning I left for Arizona. It started all right while it was cold. I got to Panguich and stopped for lunch. When I tried to start the car it was locked in fourth gear. I could not get it into neutral to start it. I found a mechanic but he didn’t know anything about VWs. There were no VW mechanics in town. The man who had tried to fix it had a service station and a wrecker truck. He suggested towing it to Cedar City where there was a place that specialized on VWs (Al’s Bug Hut). They worked on it for some time before quitting time – no luck. They got me a ride to town where I got a room in a hotel. The next morning I walked back to Al’s Bug Hut, several miles. About 11 a.m. they finally got it fixed. It started but didn’t seem right, but I went on anyway. Every time I stopped for gas I had to get a push or wait for it to cool off before it would start. [He had left Cedar City at about noon that day – the first part of May 1983 – so he kept on pushing toward home instead of stopping in a motel. He was traveling a different route than on his other trips to Utah. His overnight stay was always the Twin Pines Motel in Kanab. We did not know that he was traveling homeward so we had locked the doors and gone to bed. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning Dolores thought she heard something at the back screen, but didn’t hear anything else so went to sleep again. Then at 4:30 a.m. she heard noises downstairs. She asked Carl to go with her and they discovered Papa Joe wearily making his way in the hall to his room. We decided to get details after he had rested. Next morning Dolores mentioned to Dick that Daddy Joe had arrived at 4:30 a.m. He said it was 2 a.m. when the dogs woke him up barking at someone on the bridge. He saw that it was someone bent forward carrying a suitcase, so figured it was Papa Joe. He watched him go around the house and figured he had gone in. When we were able to ask Papa when he had arrived he said he tried the doors and then sat in the pickup and dozed off so he had been there two hours – then woke up and decided to try the glass door. It was open. We felt that he had truly been watched over during that rigorous trip.] I got back to San Manuel, put a new starter cable in it, still the same only worse. I took it to John Dicus, a friend and mechanic. He pulled the starter and had it checked. It had a short in it – a new starter – 80 some dollars worth. John put another starter in and everything is fine now.

Love to all of you, Joe


I have caught up to the present time with my life story. Nothing left but the day to day trivia which is seldom very interesting. I can’t wright (sic) finis to the story because it is a life story and that life still goes on. Someone else will have to write finis or just let it go. I won’t be able to.

I hope that the story has been of interest to some of you. Anyway it is up to date. Much has been left out, but I have tried to put in the most interesting. Your mother was the crown of my life. I love her dearly and hope I will be worthy to be with her again some time. You are all dear to me and I appreciate all that each of you do for me. I do not like to write so I may continue these common letters to keep in touch with each with a minimum of writing – letting the duplicator do most of the writing. I am sending a better copy of the last installment. The other I could hardly read myself.

Love to all, Joe


This is in answer to Vilo’s request for information about Don Luis Terrazas. I thought is might be interesting to all of you.

Don Luis Terrazas had been governor of the state of Chihuahua under the Diaz administration. He owned or controlled more than 50% of the land area of the state. He had a good many haciendas about the state – one of which is described by Millie Hatch in her book (Colonia Juarez) page no. 161. Two of these were near the colonies – San Pedro near Colonia Juarez and San Luis east of Colonia Dublan. Each estate controlled a large amount of grazing land and farm land. The administrator lived in a palacial (sic) house, two story and many rooms, mainly of rock construction or brick. Then there was a long one story adobe house with rooms opening on each side – one side was rooms for the vaqueros, another for the field hands. The corrals and barns near by.

The story is told of a cattle dealer in Chicago writing to Terrazas wanting to know if he could furnish 10,000 head of two year old heifers. His reply “de que color los quere?” What color do you want them?

Father had some range west of San Pedro but no cattle. He made a deal with Don Luis for three years – the original number plus a percentage of the increase. There were three bad years and father couldn’t gather the original number. When Don Luis came to settle up father said “This is all I can gather. I will get the rest as soon as I can”. Don Luis said “No, Pratt, las cortamos una para ti, una para mi”. (One for you and one for me). Father kept that stock – his half – for many years.

Love to all of you, Joe

These last pages Carl added to Papa Joe’s life story.

Daddy Joe’s car had been giving him a fit. When the motor was cold it would start right up but after it had run a short time it would begin cutting out. This represented a real problem to Daddy Joe. His car represented his independence and when it wouldn’t run right he couldn’t seem to rest until it was going again. On Monday July 18th he had brought it in and left it at Dicus’s service station to be checked over. He put in a new condenser and coil and checked the fuel pump and everything seemed to be in order. Daddy took it home Monday evening after he got back from Phoenix and it cut out again. So he just stopped and left it at a garage in Mammoth to see what they could find. They decided it was a fuel pump so Tuesday he took one in and they put it in on Wednesday morning. He came in with me and picked up his car and took it in to Tucson to a VW garage to be carefully checked over. They told him it would take all day so he called Kathy to see if she could pick him up. Alan was out at the golf course with the truck, so Daddy just hung up the phone without telling Kathy where he was and began walking the 7 miles from the garage to her house. Kathy worried about him from 10:30 in the morning when he called until 4:30 in the afternoon when he finally arrived. That night he was nauseated but he came on home on Thursday. Friday and Saturday he did a lot of resting, trying to recover. He told Dolores, when she arrived home from Utah on Saturday evening, “I did a stupid thing in Tucson Wednesday. I should have taken a cab.” He thought he just picked up a stomach flu bug.

The next day, Sunday, we went to church in San Manuel. When we arrived home he ate lunch and 30 minutes later he asked Dolores for milk of magnesia – said he had a bad heartburn. He was perspiring and sick to his stomach. Dolores called Carl in Globe without Daddy knowing. He suspected heart attack. She asked him after seeing how ill he was if he wanted to go to see a doctor. He said “No”. For three days he continued to be nauseated and could eat only broth and 7-up until Friday. He slowly increased his appetite during the week. We had thought he would be better off to stay home Sunday, but he got up and was ready and went with Dolores and Diane. The car was parked across the creek because of the rains and Dolores said she would go across and bring the car back to get him but he insisted on walking, saying he guessed that’s what was wrong with him – he needed to walk more. By the time they arrived at the car he was really pale and weary. But Monday morning he got up and got ready to make the Phoenix run. [Every Monday Papa Joe would drive to Phoenix to pick up supplies for Carl’s drug store.] I told him that I was pretty sure that he hadn’t had the flu, but that it was his heart and that I didn’t think that he should make the trip to Phoenix that day. On Thursday he was feeling much better and was able to eat well. In the afternoon he had shaved even. About 7:30 p.m. Dolores was talking to Eileen on the phone. (I had gone to Globe to a committee meeting) when he came out of the bedroom with his suit pants and a white shirt on and told Dolores that he thought that I had been right and that he wanted her to take him to a hospital because he was feeling nauseated again. She called me in Globe and I told her to take him to the Kearny hospital. Dick wasn’t home so she called Kip Gambee and he started up the canyon to meet her. He drove her on to the hospital in Kearny and Daddy was admitted and they immediately diagnosed it as a heart attack, put him to bed and started IVs and medication and put him on the heart monitor. I got there at a little after 10 p.m. He was alert but very nauseated and in pain. President Scott Norby and I gave him a blessing, they gave him a shot for pain and for nausea, and about 11 p.m. he drifted off to sleep. Ann arrived at a little after 11 p.m. but he didn’t respond when she spoke to him. Dolores and Diane went over to the Norby’s house and went to sleep on the couch and Ann and I stayed at the hospital until a little after 3 a.m.

His condition seemed to have stabilized so we went home. Dr. Von Pohle called at about 9 a.m. and said he was about the same and they wanted to send him by ambulance to a larger hospital in Tucson. I assured him that they had the facilities to do all that he would want done and that we would prefer that he remain there. I called at noon and he seemed slightly improved, although he had not regained consciousness. About 4:45 p.m. Dr. Ehrmann called the house and told Dolores that he had passed away about 15 minutes before. His heart had simply quit beating and he had quietly slipped through the veil to the other side. He died about 4:30 p.m. on August 5th, 1983.

His funeral was held in the Kearny ward chapel on Tuesday, August 9th, with Bishop Thomas Hall conducting. He was buried beside Mother in the LDS Cemetery on Alvernon and River Road in Tucson. We went through one of the most severe rain storms in recent history to reach the cemetery. So after a separation of a little over nine years he was reunited with his wife and sweetheart whom he had missed so much as the years went by.

He will be sorely missed by his family and the many good friends that he had made over the years, but he had lived a good, full life and was ready to go on to other responsibilities.