At this point I think I should say something about the spiritual
side of our life. Our father and mother were of a very religious
nature, especially mother. She believed in God, that He heard
and answered prayers;and she wanted to believe in a God that had
body, parts and passion. As far back as I can remember, she
taught us these principles as near as she understood them. There
were several different denominations in and around the country.
Namely, Methodist, Baptist, Camphiltites(sic), Presbyterian and
We went to a lot of the meetings. As the different preachers
came along, some would put on big revivals, shout, and carry on.
I think we boys went more for the fun of it than anything else.
The doctrine they put out didn't satisfy mother. She was wanting
The Church of Jesus Christ. Believing they couldn't all be
right, she told us that she had prayed to her Father in Heaven
to show her which one was right. We had a neighbor family by the
name of Homer and they belonged to the Reorganized Church (We
called them Josephites), a branch of the Mormon Church. Our
folks had heard about what was called the Brighamites, but knew
nothing of either one's teachings. This neighbor, Mr. Homer,
said his church was the true church of Jesus Christ and he would
have two of the Elders come to see us. It wasn't long until two
elderly men came to our place and they were made welcome and
they gave us their message of the gospel. But after all was said
and done, there was still something lacking -- The Authority.
Dad and Mother were both well read in the Bible, so they thought
they knew the way it should be. Mother seemed to like some parts
of this church; but, as I say, it didn't seem quite right. So
she prayed if this church wasn't right that someone with the
true church would be sent to her.
I am thinking at this point, knowing the father that Mother had,
that she had without any doubt read these words in the Bible:
"Knock and it shall be opened. Ask and it shall be given." And
in James, Chapter 1, Verse 5, it sayd, "If any of you lack
wisdonm, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally,
and upbraideth not. And it shall be given you." Mother, I am
sure, believed this was for her.
Soon after, in the early part of September, 1898, Mother and Dad
had planned a trip to Ozark County, Missouri to visit with
Mother's people. We had been away a long time. It didn't take us
long to get everything ready. With a team and spring wagon, we
started on what we though at that time was a long trip -- 250
mi. All of us went except the three older boys, Ulys, Elwood and
henry. They had to stay and take care of things at home.
After we started out this day, it began to rain, and as we got
up the country further, it rained more and more. Finally we came
to the river known as Big Cabin. It was really big and
overflowing. This was close to the town of Vinita, Indian
Territory, and there were no indications of the river going
down, anyway not very soon. So we went back home.
We arrived home just after dark. When we drove up to the big
gate, the boys heard us coming and Henry came out to meet us. He
said, "We have two Mormon Elders from Utah staying with us
tonight." Dad said that was all right. SO we went in and met the
Mormon Elders. The two young men were William R. Palmer from
Cedar City, Utah, and Albert Kirby of Hyde Park, Utah. They were
both about 21 years of age. We explained why we were back so
soon. Dad said to the Elders, "Boys, after we have our supper I
want to ask you some questions." Elder Palmer said afterwards
that he knew what the questions were going to be, and that was
about Brigham Young and polygamy. They sat up to a late hour
that night, and by then we had almost learned to like them. The
next morning being Sunday, Elder Palmer came into the kitchen
and told Mother not to fix breakfast for them as it was the
first Sunday of the month and they would fast. And he explained
their belief as to that.
I might explain that before the Elders came to our place, they
had walked a long way that day and Elder Palmer had a very lame
foot. The last place before coming to our place, that they had
asked to say, was our neighbor, Mr. Webb. He told them that he
couldn't keep them, but he told them his neighbor's, McGee's,
sometimes took in travelers. You can imagine how thankful they
were when they arrived at our place and found the boys there
frying sweet potatoes for their supper and that they were made
welcome and asked to partake of the good supper of sweet
potataoes and bread and milk.
So, this Sunday morning Elder Palmer said to Dad, "My foot is
sore. What would be the chance to stay over for a day?" Dad told
him it would be fine and that we wanted them to stay. I think
the day was pretty well spent in asking and getting answers to
questions on the principles they taught. And they explained to
us about their mission and how they worked. They told us how
many Elders there were in that mission and that it was the
Southwestern States Mission, with Independence, Missouri, as
So early Monday morning they left with a friendly goodbye and we
invited then to come again. We told them to tell the other
Elders that they would be welcome when they were passing this
way. They walked away feeling happy with their stay at the
McGee's for those two nights and one day.
This same Monday we again started on our trip to Missouri. At
this point I will again go back in this story and say a little
about old Tobe and Mal, our faithful mules, and one or two other
things that happened.
I think it was the Spring of 1897, when we went out to round up
our horses, but Tobe and Mal, the mules were not among them. We
hunted the country over in every direction. There was plenty of
grass everywhere and we let our stock run out in the open
country. We would never go out but what we would hear of some
lead when inquiring for a brown and sorrel mule. I remember one
day Elwood and I had ridden amny miles. We stopped at a negro's
place and asked about the mules. "Yes, suh, I done seed them
very mules day befo ysetidy pas right heah on this very road
goin' that way." So we would hunt that down; and it went on that
way for a long time.
In our way of figuring now, we spent enough time in hunting
those mules to have bought a herd. We didn't figure in dollars
and cents in those days. It was the mules we wanted, but we gave
up. We found out afterwards the mules were stolen and driven
into Western Kansas that very night that they were found
missing. We needed another team, so Dad bought another span of
mules and we named them Zike and Ben. It was these mules that
took us back to Missouri. They could go just as many miles in a
day as we would want to ride. I remember the time when Ulys and
I were going down to Ruby with Ben, Zike and wagon. We left the
wagon, and riding the mules back home with the harnesses an,
Ulys was on Zike and me on Ben. I guess I did something that Ben
didn't like, for he started to buck and threw me off. As I fell
my foot caught in the side strap with a half hitch around my
ankle. You can draw a picture of that scene with old Ben going
at high speed and me hitting the ground every ten feet. With
the quick action of Ulys and his mule, they out ran old Ben and
grabbed him by the bridal bit and jerked him down. As luck was
with us, I managed to get my foot out, and I wasn't skinned up
very bad, either. As I have said before, we had been taught in
time of need to pray to God, our Father in Heaven, and that we
would be blessed. I'm sure I did that at this time.
Another scene I will mention was at a place called Homers Lake.
All of us boys were having a good time swimming and diving off
the spring board. We were teaching our little brother, Carr, how
to swim. We missed Grover. We knew he was there not long ago. It
was a big pond and about eight feet deep where we had seen him
last. While getting our bearings and in our excitement, we saw
him pop up (maybe for the last time) in the deepest place close
by. Quick work by Ulys and Elwood had him out on the bank. We
weren't scout trained in that sort of work, but with the
knowledge we did have and with a lot of time and work, he came
through okay. And again we were blessed through our faith. Time
goes on with other experiences.
Now back to our trip to Missouri. We arrived back at the place
of our birth, Noble Ozark County, Missouri; back to see Grandma,
uncles, and aunts. They were glad to see us. We had so many good
things to eat and had good times with our cousins and kin. We
had written the boys at home of our safe arrival. In the first
letter we received from them, they told us two more Mormon
Elders had been there. Father and Mother had told the folks
about the Mormons and Dad took the Book of Mormon and a few
other little books back there with him. But all they would say
was, "Beware of wolves dressed in sheep's clothing." Finally our
visit was over and our journey back home was a good success. We
were gone four weeks.
We were glad to get back home. We had all our corn to gather in
before school started. This being about the first of October,
school started in November. We had two thousand bushels of corn
to get in along with other things, and that was a lot of work.
The Mormon Elders came and went regularly and we enjoyed them
very much, for most of them were young fellows and full of fun.
But that was only part of it. They were very sincere in their
work. And we felt like we really knew they were servants of God.
I think that Mother knew right from the start that they were
messengers of Jesus Christ, representing the true church, as it
had been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith in the latter
In November, 1898, in the little creek close by, Father and
Mother were baptized and confirmed members of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I think it was Elder Linton
of Nephi, Utah, and Elder Hoops of Arizona that officiated in
After this was done, the next day or so the Elders went on their
way and as time went by other Elders came. I think by the time
winter and early spring were over and past, we had met and kept
every Elder in that Mission. I shall name them one by one:
Elder Wm. R. Palmer Cedar City, Utah
Elder Albert Kirby Hyde Park, Utah
Elder Heber V. Harrison Pinto, Washington Co., Utah
Elder Arthur V. Lee Bonaca, Nevada
Elder Shade Boyce Manassa, Colorado
Elder Rueben Fuller Thatcher, Arizona
Elder James H. Anderson Mt. Pleasant, Utah
Elder Hoops Arizona
Elder Samuel Linton Nephi, Utah
And by this time they had explained the Gospel in its fullness.
We were going along with our work in about the same way, but the
course of our lives was being changed. We would go and hear them
preach when they held meetings. We would take them with us when
we went wild berry hunting and on swimming trips, although the
Elders weren't supposed to get in very deep water.
We had a very good crop coming along. It was on July 3, when
Ulys and Elwood were baptized. The rest of us were baptized on
July 24, 1899. From the information that we had of the West and
of the Mormon people, we were making plans and we weren't very
long in making up our minds as to what to do.
The Elders thought it was the thing to do, too. They would sing
many of their hymns. Elder Palmer would sing this one,
especially to Dad, "Think not when you gather to Zion, that
nothing but comfort and cheer is awaiting you," and so on.
But we decided to go West and establish ourselves with the
Mormon people. Inasmuch as all of us, from the oldest to the
youngest, were of one mind as to that, we weren't long in
winding up our affairs. We sold our cows, hogs, and a few other
things. We traded our crops off in the field. The land and our
rights to it has not been explained in this story, so I will
pass that by. We had the right to dispose of the improvemnets
such as buildings, etc. Dad thought it best to leave the whole
thing, thinking maybe sometime in the future there might be an
adjustment made. With everything taken care of and saying our
good byes to the Elders as they came along, we were ready to go.
On September 12, we loaded our belongings in what consisted of
two wagons and a buggy, or a light spring wagon. We had two
saddle horses which made eight altogether. So on we went.