Mormon Literature Sampler:
Home Reminiscences of Uncle Will Brooks
I was born April 23, 1881, in St. George, Utah, the fifth child and
second son of George and Emily Cornelia Branch Brooks.
My father was a stonecutter by trade; he had been trained by his
foster father, Edward L. Parry, who was the master mason for both the
Tabernacle and the Temple.
My mother was a skilled housewife and a sweet-tempered, cheerful
person. Her hands were never idle. When she sat down to rest after
cooking or washing, she would pick up a piece of mending, or
fancywork, or knitting. In the evening she often read to us, or played
My parents were comfortable in the new rock house on the hill,
although its two rooms were already becoming crowded.
I was the third child to be born in the new house. My sister
Josephine (Dode) was first, then came my brother George. Emma and May,
the two older girls, had been born in rented homes downtown. On the
day my brother George was born, December 21, 1879, Father brought home
two locust saplings from where he was working away down on 165 West
Fourth South and planted them in honor of the birth of his first son.
It was a long hike uphill at the end of a day's work, even without the
extra load. In telling of it later, Pa always said, "They were about
six feet long and as big around as my middle finger." This same tree
is now 12 feet in circumference, and a plaque labels it an historic
These trees were important to us, and also were the mulberry trees
that were put in a few years later when the people were counseled to
raise silk worms. Each tree was planted beside a solid cedar stake to
which it was tied with a wide denim string, and woe to anyone who
disturbed it in any way.
The Tabernacle steeple and spire with the bell and clock, also had
special meaning for us. Our top step was on a direct line with the
ball on top of the steeple. We often had our friends look along the
top of the stone to prove it, and to show how high our house was. We
could read the Town Clock easily, and we always checked our own to see
if it was running right. In the quiet morning hours we could hear the
big clock strike, if we were out of doors. The same was true at night.
Besides ringing for all of the regular meetings, the bell was
tolled for funerals. Mostly that just meant that it was rung very
slowly, but when Old Brother Pymm died, it was struck with a hammer,
slowly, waiting for the sound to die, one stroke for every year of his
long life. I thought they would never get through.
No matter what went on outside, our home was a pleasant place in
which our mother's sunny disposition colored everything. Evenings
during the winter were spent before the fireplace in the living room;
in the summer we played in the yard. As each new baby arrived every
two years, we all rejoiced and loved it and moved up one notch to make
room. I have no memory of any special preparations beforehand or any
talk about it. When the day arrived, we were all sent down to Aunt Pal
Miles' house just off the hill and across the street, and when we came
back there would be a little new brother or sister.
My little world soon extended to the corral and to all the farm
animals. I remember especially the large stone pig troughs, cut wide
and deep enough to hold several buckets of water or slops. There were
two of them, one in each pen, for the pigs were very important in our
economy, and the brood sow must have a special place away from the
growing or fattening pigs. These stone troughs could not be pushed
around or turned over. Some people thought them expensive, but lumber
was scarce, and Father's business was cutting stone. The horses also
had scooped out, hollowed stone feeders from which they ate their
The corrals and sheds were a challenge to a climbing child, for in
this hot climate the pigs must have a shelter of cottonwood boughs
covered with straw, beneath which was a "waller hole." The horse shed
was high and covered with cane bagasse. Only the cows had no shelter,
for they were turned out each day to the pasture or to the herd's boy.
So the horses, cows, pigs and chickens, and the garden beyond the row
of fig trees along the east fence were my little world. On the front
it was bounded by the ditch. Father had built the ditch in a series of
falls, one of them high enough to put the big water bucket under for
filling the barrel. This fifty-gallon barrel had to be filled every
day for drinking water and for our culinary use. It was a task so hard
that as soon as we were large enough to lift a bucket to the top, we
all took turns filling the barrel. Father's real reason for the fall,
though, was that he liked to hear the sound of running water. He
called it part of "the music of the spheres."
For the first four or five years of our lives we were kept
consistently on our own lot. Only those past five years of age went
down the hill to Primary and Sunday School. Mother would stay home to
keep the younger ones and have dinner ready when the others came back.
The Tabernacle bell would ring out loudly a half-hour before the
service was to start as a reminder to all the people in the valley
that it was time to be on the way. The strokes of the Town Clock
announced the beginning of the service. During the half-hour between,
the older Brooks children would start down the hill, all washed and
starched and ironed, shoes soot-polished, hair beribboned or greased
Our nearest neighbors across the street and out the lane a short
distance were the Samuel Adams family. I remember them especially
because I wore Nell's shoes when we had our family picture taken.
Mother did not want posterity to see me dressed up and barefoot; it
was better to have borrowed shoes though they were girl's shoes.
Our first visit unattended came when Mother let George and me go by
trail over the hill west and south to the John E. Pace home on Second
West. Here was a large family of children in what seemed to me a very
large house. One mother had died, and the other had taken in all of
the children along with her own. As we came near the fence, we
hesitated, for we were strange, and several boys on the other side
were eyeing us closely.
George, always quick to rise to any occasion, took me by the hand
and said, "Come and see!" As they drew near, he held up my left hand
with the third joint of the little finger cut off.
They were all held by this strange sight--a short little finger
without a nail. Then George told them the story of how, before I was
even two years old, I had dragged a chair up to the table, which
during the summer had been kept in front of the fireplace. I climbed
from the chair to the top of the table. By stretching hard, I could
reach to the top of the mantel piece, where I could barely touch Uncle
Henry's razor. It was in a case, which I opened. Then taking the razor
out, I opened it, looking at the sharp blade like the one I had seen
Father scrape over his cheeks. Father always wore a mustache, and in
telling the story later we were always careful to say that it was
Uncle Henry's razor. This fact relieved our father of any guilt of
carelessness. But George warmed to his story:
"He was just going to try to shave himself, when he heard someone
coming, so he hurried to close the razor and put it back into its
place. But that sharp blade shut exactly in the top joint of that
little finger and WOOPS! it fell to the floor, and blood spurted all
over the place."
Later the story became embellished to add that the severed little
joint bounced and wiggled on the floor, like the end of a snake's tail
that has been cut off. The real story was better. After the doctor
arrived post haste to dress the wound, he wanted the missing end to
bind back on, in the hope that it might grow into place. It was not to
be found! They looked everywhere, and after the wound was dressed and
the doctor left, Mother found it clutched in her own palm, held
securely by her middle finger.
Told by George on this warm afternoon, the story held the listeners
captivated, and I felt a sudden sense of importance, of being
different. This stubby little finger was something no one else had,
and often in my early years I would show it as a sort of conversation
piece. It was my one claim to fame.
Actually, it meant nothing. I was just the fifth one of a family of
twelve, taking my place and my little responsibilities as I grew up
and sharing my experiences with those older and younger than I. Always
there was a kind, understanding Mother to turn to, and a firm, just
Father to follow about and work with as I grew up.
Some of our happiest evenings were during the winter when Father
would have a big sheet of paper on the table--heavy paper like butcher
paper--and would be trying out designs of lettering or decoration for
headstones. We would all coax him to draw us a "story." It became a
game. He would put down a little mark here and a few others in another
place and still others in different parts, and we would try to guess
what he was going to make. "A tree," "a horse," "a dog" we would call
out. Then with two or three heavy strokes, the picture would be
finished. He worked with charcoal for many of these, so they were
large and plain. The story of Farmer Brown and his pig was done so
often that any of us could do it. It began with Farmer Brown, who
lived in a little three-cornered house with a window and a door. He
searched up hill and down dale for that lost pig, thinking he saw it
here, but it was something else, thinking it was there, returning home
discouraged, looking out of the window, and going directly to the
place, where "he cracked his whip, and started it home," and the tail
went on with a curl and a flourish. That would end the entertainment,
and we must all go to bed so that Pa could go on with his serious
Often Mother would read to us from our Bible Stories book the
stories of David and Goliath, the Three Hebrew Children, and others,
or she would drill us in little verses. In summer we would play on the
grass in the front yard, or play running and hiding games. On
Saturday evenings, after he had taken his bath and had supper,
Father often got out his fiddle, moved the low, rawhide-bottomed chair
out under the trees--we had mulberry trees now, besides the locust,
and a plum tree--and played his fiddle. He played only by ear and he
played the old country tunes, but it was real music to us. Now we did
not play noisy games, but lay on the grass to hear the music. We all
knew the story of how as a boy, he had traded his pony for that
violin, when it didn't have a single string on it, so we sensed how
precious it was. I think no music has ever sounded better to me than
some of those "concerts" on a summer evening under a high moon,
especially at the nesting time of our little bird, when the father
bird sang along, too. We always claimed these birds as our special
ones, and they came back year after year. Even to this day Ed and I
will note their return. "I see that my bird is back," Ed said to me
this spring. "What do you mean, your bird," I answered. "That
has been my bird for as long as I can remember." We make a joke of it,
but we both know how many memories that night-singing bird brings
We learned early that while we could not go down town except on an
errand from which we had to hurry right back, the youngsters of town
came to us. That is, the boys in their teens came. Too young to be on
regular jobs, they often wandered in the hills to the north. The Sugar
Loaf was a favorite place, and right on the trail was the Brooks pond,
formed from the spring on our lot. Often their trip ended right there.
The pond was emptied twice a day, morning and evening, to water the
garden. By mid-afternoon it would be deep enough to swim in, and by
sundown it would be a real challenge. During the hot months it was a
favorite gathering place.
Father saw to it that we learned to swim soon after we could walk,
for that open pond was a real hazard. Some told the story that he
threw each child in on its second birthday, and forced him to swim or
drown. That, of course, was not true, but we could all swim well when
we were quite young. Only a few months ago (October 1968) I went to
visit my old friend, Athele Milne, at Washington. When I introduced my
wife to him, he said, "You see, Mrs. Brooks, I've known Billy Brooks
all his life. He's the kid that damn-near drowned me the first time I
went to the Brooks Pond to swim. I was older'n him and bigger, but I
hadn't been where I could learn to swim, and as I walked out into the
pond, he jumped at me from the bank and rode me under. I had a bad
time gittin' out-a there alive."
I didn't remember the incident, myself, but it was likely true, for
we enjoyed introducing new kids to our pond. I do remember how, when I
went to be baptized at the Temple, Mother got me all ready in the
regular outfit and sent me out. I climbed the high steps up to the
edge of the font, and when I looked into that big clear pool, I just
dove right in and started swimming about. Poor Brother Granger he
stood beside the steps with his hand out ready to help me down, and
coax me in, as he had to do with so many of the little
eight-year-olds. He thought I had fallen in, and was catching about
frantically trying to save me!
I did stop and he baptized me properly, but not before I had made a
round or two in the font. What I started to say was that our pond was
a drawing card that brought lots of boys up the hill. Many little girl
groups came, too, but not to swim. They would bring lunches and start
on a hike up the hill. Some would go on up to the Sugar Loaf, but to
others, by the time they reached our place the shade and grass looked
so inviting that they often ate their lunch right here. The water
barrel and tin cup was another advantage over drinking from a stream.
So from May through September we had many callers. No matter what age
they were, we had Brooks children the same age, all ready and willing
to play at any games, or to just sit and visit. Quite often the
callers would help us finish our jobs--pulling so many rows of weeds
from the garden or cleaning up the yards or cutting wood--do that then
we could play.
Dode was our chief entertainer during our early years. She loved to
dress us up, put on programs, tell stories. She ordered us about and
we obeyed her gladly. If it was only to make paper caps and get stick
guns, we marched and sang and counted off "hay-foot-straw-foot" around
the yard. But her real genius lay in story telling. I can still chill
a little at her "Sister Annie, Sister Annie can you see them coming
yet?" Of course there were the "Three Bears" and "Little Red Riding
Hood," but there were also impromptu tales in which witches and
goblins and especially "Old Shiney Eyes," held us spellbound.
Stories of Dode and her doings always entertain family gatherings
to this day, for as long as she lived she meant the unusual, the
surprise, the joke on somebody. Although the tale of her narrow escape
from being drowned has been told so often, I must include it here.
She loved to visit, to go to one home or another with a girl of her
age and get to playing until she would forget the time. Suddenly she
would realize that it was after sundown, which was her deadline for
being home. It was actually dark. She would hurry up the hill, running
across the yard to fall breathless in at the front door. Again and
again she had been scolded and warned and threatened. Always she
promised solemnly--"cross my heart and hope to die"--that she would
get home right after school. And for a while she would keep the
promise, but it was usually because she had persuaded some friend to
come up with her.
Then came the unlucky night when she was even later than ever.
Supper was over, the dishes washed, the littlest baby in bed, and the
three or four others of us ready for bed. The days were so short now;
dark came too early. Dode came in panting and crying a little, to meet
a very stern father.
"Well, Dode," he said, "Your mother and I have decided that you are
not worth raising. You lie to us all the time. You say that you will
come home before sundown, but you never do. And here it is past
bedtime." Dode's cries raised to wails, but Pa was unmoved.
"We've talked it over and decided that it would be better to drown
you now than to raise you up to be a person that no one can believe or
depend on. Don't bother about getting yourself any supper. You won't
need any tonight. We'll go right up to the pond now and get it over."
Now the whole family of children burst into tears. Emma and May
began to promise that they would help Dode and remind her and see that
she did get home. But Pa was unmoved. Taking Dode firmly by the hand,
he started up the path to the pond. The dismal crying procession
followed behind, while Dode's cries wakened the echoes.
He did not stop until we had reached the edge of the pond, when he
made a quick move, picked her up and stepped back as if to toss her
in. Now the shrieks of all the others joined in. Pa set her down. For
the first time he seemed to listen, to pay any attention.
"Well," he said at last. "If you will all help Dode, and if she
will remember herself, maybe we can give her one more chance. But we
just don't want to raise a girl who can't keep her promises."
Instantly we all felt better; the three older girls turned and
hurried back, Dode way ahead of the others, lest Pa should change his
mind. George and I followed, while Pa picked up Zillie and carried her
back. All the time this was going on, Mother had not said a word or
stopped her knitting. It was so good to run back from the threatened
disaster to the warm room, the fireplace, and Ma there busy and
cheerful. It was always like this. Pa had different ways of managing
and disciplining the children, but she never interfered once.
At another time he used a novel method of learning who was guilty
of cutting down a young almond tree. This tree was the one he had
purchased especially because it was a softshell and valuable. He had
taken great care in planting it and putting a protective stake beside
it, and here it was, whacked off clean. Naturally he was angry. He
called the whole crowd around him, and asked each in turn if he had
cut down that almond tree, or if he knew who had. George and Sam and I
were all there, and five or six neighbor youngsters. No one would
admit he had done the deed; no one would say that he had seen someone
else do it. Yet it had been done within the last few hours for Pa
himself had put a bucket of water around it just at noon.
Father walked away to something else for a few minutes and then
came back by the tree and called us all together again. Now he had a
round rock about the size of a hen's egg. "Look here, all of you. Come
here and line up against the wall. Do you see this rock that I have in
my hand? It is a magic stone. I call it my 'true stone,' because it
will not hit anyone who tells the truth, but it goes straight to the
one who is telling a lie. Now you all stand right still. Don't move,
and you'll not be hurt. But the one that cut that tree down had better
look out! He'll get it! He'll get it sure!"
He stepped back twelve to fifteen feet and began winding up his
arm, still cautioning us all not to move. As he raised his arm to
fling, one little fellow dashed out and ran for home as fast as he
could go, bawling at the top of his voice. Now we all knew who had cut
the tree down.
We all loved our father, but we knew enough to obey him promptly.
We each had our chores, and while we might bargain with each other as
to whose turn it was to fill the barrel or cut the kindling or carry
in the wood, these tasks must be done, and done on time. I don't think
he ever whipped one of us further than a cuff that would send us
reeling, or a swift kick, or a cut with a willow. But we never dared
him or defied him or talked back to him. We did as we were told at
once, and then later made explanations or protests, for we knew that
he would be fair with us.
My first trips down town were with the older girls and George to go
to Primary on Saturday afternoon. Primary was really just a
preparation for Sunday, for it meant that we would all be run through
the big wooden tub in the middle of the kitchen floor. Mother would
oversee the scrubbing; from the shampoo of our hair down to the
toenails, we were scoured and dug out and trimmed up. Then with clean
underwear, we put on our best every-day outfit to go to Primary. It
was only for children under twelve, but it was good training.
These Saturday afternoon excursions were wonderful for us. We went
leisurely, and explored as we went along. At the bottom of the hill we
cut across Diagonal Street to Johnson's corner where the printing shop
was, past Croft's Trunk Manufacturing Company, then Morris's Store, to
the Riding Tin Shop on the corner. It occupied the site of the Big
Hand Cafe today, and was a most interesting place to get into, for tin
pans and tin cups of different sizes, wash dishes, candle molds,
colanders--there seemed no end to the things Brother Riding made from
tin, and he didn't mind if you came in and looked around.
The center of most of the business in St. George was the Wooley,
Lund & Judd store, which had been built for the first Social Hall in
the valley. Across the street to the east was the Big House, three
full stories high and awe-inspiring it was so grand. There were always
horses tied to hitching posts, or an occasional wagon stopped by the
sidewalk. We often peeked into the St. George Co-op because its
double-doors were flush on the sidewalk and the screens a little ajar.
The Tithing Office was always a busy place, but no children ever
got into there unattended, and from there on down to the corner and
all across the bottom of that block was a high stone wall. It looked
terribly high to us, though it was only six feet. We knew that it
enclosed the Tithing Office yard, the storage for grain, and hay, and
all the other things people brought in.
Across the street was the Tabernacle safe inside its white picket
fence that went all the way around the block with trees on the outside
edge of the sidewalk all the way around the block too, like a double
edge of decoration around the building. I liked to rub my hands across
the stone as we hurried around to go in at the back door, for Primary
was held in the basement. This is the house Pa built, I always
thought, though perhaps a few others helped.
So it was week after week during these early years. From my home to
the Tabernacle and back became a regular pattern every Saturday
afternoon and Sunday morning.
I was only six years old when Sam was born, and was with the other
children down to Aunt Pal's house, when word came that we had a new
little brother. I have heard the story many times of how at his birth
Sam was Mother's largest child, weighing 13 pounds and 8 ounces.
Sister Church, the midwife, had a hard time managing the delivery.
Though Sister Church was still busy with her, Mother could see at once
that the child wasn't breathing.
"Look, George! The baby! He isn't breathing! Get the doctor, quick!
Do something, somebody! The baby needs help!"
Pa ran from the corral to get old Bonnet and ride for the doctor,
when by the grace of the Lord, there was old Dr. Higgins coming down
the road in his little buggy. Pa ran out, stopped his horse, and told
him to hurry to the baby. He would take care of the horse himself.
Dr. Higgins immediately started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and
soon literally breathed the breath of life into Sam's limp, quiet
body. From that instant Sam seemed to thrive. A large baby at birth,
he had a prodigious appetite; all food agreed with him. He loved the
world and everything and everyone in it. With five sisters and two
brothers to pay attention to him, he had a happy babyhood. He fairly
glowed with good health and good spirits. He seemed the eternal
But he was clumsy; he would fall down. When he was just cleaned up
and started down the hill, Mother always admonished us to, "Keep hold
of Sam's hand. Don't let him fall down and get all dirty." Rare was
the time when Sammy reached his destination unsmirched on the front.
Dode took over Sam as her special charge. One day she persuaded Ma
to let her take him to school. There was to be a program after recess,
and school out at noon, so she could manage fine. Ma consented
reluctantly, but Dode insisted, so they dressed him up in kilts with
braid trimming, and Dode set out with him, his gold-blond hair smooth
as silk, his fair pink skin shining. Sam always wore a smile, for he
looked out upon the world with the highest expectations. Dode took him
down in the little wagon; she knew that his chubby little legs could
not negotiate that hill, either down or back. He was not yet two years
When they reached the schoolhouse, Dode lifted him out and brushed
him off. She was more than gratified with his reception. He was a
beautiful child; everyone, even the teacher, said he was a beautiful
child. So for a while things were rosy. Dode was having such a good
time that she neglected to notice certain signs in Sammy's behavior
which would have prevented the disaster. She was brought back to
reality with a start when a big boy at the back of the room stood up
and called out in a loud voice, "P-H-I-E-WOO! Let me outta here!" And
out he charged, followed by another boy, and another. Sammy, innocent
of offense, stood in the midst of the evidence and smiled.
Poor Dode! There is no way to measure her humiliation. We shall not
go into detail, but the teacher dismissed the group for a short, early
recess, and one way and another Dode managed to get the baby into a
condition where she could put him into the wagon and take him home.
The teacher was kind, though not very helpful. She did give Dode
access to the janitor's bucket and some cleaning rags for the floor.
For a while after that Dode did not offer to take Sammy along when
she went anywhere, but she soon forgot. Later when he was so trainable
in acting the part of the bear in a little stunt she put on again and
again, she became all the more attached to him.
About this time there came to St. George a man who called himself
Professor Manseneeta. He had a small display of various animals, but
his prize actor was a dancing bear. He would have it do a few little
tricks, and then pass the plate for contributions. Dode, always a
mimic, put on his identical act with Sam as the bear. She dressed in
some of George's things--shirt, pants, coat and shoes. Then she
stuffed her hair up under a little hard-boiled derby hat, pasted on a
small mustache, got her long, sharp stick, and assumed the same poise
and tone of voice. Little rolly-polly Sam was willing to try anything;
he enjoyed this business as much as she did.
With a coverall suit, stockings on his hands, and his hood
arrangement boasting some pinned-on ears, he made a good little
imitation bear. At least he was always a pleasant one. "Professor
Manseneeta" would give his initial announcement in a loud voice, and
then proceed to show off his world-famous bear. She would begin with
him on all fours and then order him onto his hind legs, with some
poking and prodding.
"Roll over like a drunken man," she would call out, at which he
would fall down and roll onto his back with all four feet in the air.
"Stand up tall. Smile at the folks," and Sam would do the perfect
grin. "Now dance in a ring, jig-a-te-jig," and he did a good imitation
of a bear's shuffling, after which he passed the plate in all
seriousness and expected something to be put into it, if only a button
or marble or bit of rock.
A family joke was the story of his being sent to herd the cows, and
not to bring them in until the sun was in the Devil's saddle on the
black hill. He got very weary. "I cried three times, but the sun
didn't move," he reported. At home one cry usually got him what he
I remember well the time of the polygamy raids, when the two
federal officers, Jim McGeary and Johnny Armstrong, came to town. They
always traveled in the same little one-seated, black-topped buggy and
put up at the Big House at the bottom of the hill. We didn't have to
worry about them because Pa had only one wife, but we knew that some
of the families were pretty concerned. Everyone in town recognized the
outfit and the officers in it, and all were curious to know which men
they caught--if they got any. It was like a grown-up game of
hide-and-seek, and all of us were interested in the ones who had to
hide. Most of them were our church leaders.
I knew that some of the families on Swiss Block down near where I
herded the cows on the Rodd Lots were plural wives of men who lived in
Santa Clara. They would be far enough away so that the officers would
not know who they belonged to. The plural families in St. George had
their own special hideout places for the father, places that even
their own children did not always know.
One thing was certain. Every polygamist in St. George was warned
before the officers got here. They had to stop at Silver Reef to rest
and feed their team. That would take several hours, and the trip from
there down would take four or five hours longer. Well, as soon as they
drove into Silver Reef, the boy at the telegraph station would wire to
the one in the St. George Tithing Office to "send me up two chairs."
That was the code to say that there were two officers on their way, or
if there would be another man along on horseback, as there often was,
the order would be for three chairs. Word would be sent out at once to
every family where the father had more than one wife so that he could
plan his get-away.
I remember one time when I was playing with Stephen Whitehead down
in front of the Co-op Store. The officers drove up and got out. As
they passed us, McGeary stopped and took hold of Stephen's arm and
asked, sharp like, "What is your name?"
"Stevie Wells," he answered promptly and clearly. Stevie had been
trained what to tell strangers. His mother was a Wells, and he was to
use her name.
I remember, too, a song that the youngsters would sing about the
officers. It was a long one, with a verse for several of the local
men. D. D. McArthur was our stake president, and his verse went like
"McGeary searched McArthur's house
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye
And all he could find was the tail of a mouse
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye.
Bye-lo, my baby.
Bye-lo, my baby.
Bye-lo, my baby.
Goodbye, my lover, goodbye."
Many stories were told of how the officers had been outwitted. One
man rolled up in his bedding under the springseat, and had his boys
drive the wagon right through town and down to the field. Dudley
Leavitt was at the Washington factory when the black-topped buggy
drove up, and the officers got out. One of the clerks said to him,
"There they are! McGeary and Armstrong! Run, Brother Leavitt! Quick!
But it was too late to run, and there was no place to hide. Dudley
just jerked off the cap of one of the employees and put it on, took
his oil can, and proceeded to oil the machinery, climbing up a ladder
to get at the intricate parts. The officers were not hunting for him
especially, but for whoever was there that belonged to the wagon
stopped outside. They looked everywhere in the cotton bins, behind the
stacked sacks, around the house, but did not suspect the busy employee
who was oiling the machinery.
We heard the story of Brother John S. Stucki at Santa Clara. He had
not gone into hiding at all, for it was harvest time, his fruit was
ripe, and he must save his crop. The officers drove up to his place in
the late forenoon, as he was coming in with a bucket of grapes. He
went up to the buggy, greeted them, and of-feted them a bunch of
grapes. Then he invited them to the orchard and told them to help
themselves to the peaches that were ripe, giving them some to take
along with them.
"I think the girls have dinner ready," he said at last. "Would you
like to join us?"
The officers were glad to accept. Both wives were there, the
youngest with a small boy. They served a good nourishing meal. The
visitors talked about the weather and crops, but did not mention their
real business. At the end, they thanked them all, Brother Stucki and
his family, and went away without any mention of arrest. Nor did they
ever trouble Brother Stucki again.
They did arrest and take Doctor Higgins soon after Sam was born,
and took him to court at Beaver, where he was sentenced to two years
in the state prison. I remember well when the doctor came home in the
fall of 1888. All the town went out to meet him, for he was one man
that everybody loved and trusted.
Pa took us in the wagon--the older girls went with friends, I
think--and we drove out to the east end of town where the band was and
the choir and all the town officers. They had their wagons arranged,
and waited until some horsemen, carrying flags, came with Brother
Higgins' outfit. The band played before and played again after; the
choir sang a number or two, the leaders made short speeches, and Dr.
Higgins responded. Then he went through the crowd shaking hands with
The next Sunday Dr. Higgins made a report in the Tabernacle, and
the Brooks family down to and including me, was present. I think Dode
stayed home to tend the younger ones, for there were four, and Edith,
the baby, was just three months old.
I don't know how many men from our town served time in the "pen"
for polygamy. The other one that I remember going out to greet was
Brother Hardy, the man with the carpenter shop and turning mill at the
east end of town. He made our toys, too, and had worked with Pa on the
Tabernacle and Temple. This time was about like the welcome home for
Doctor Higgins, only that this time I was horseback. That meant that I
was more free to do as I pleased. Brother Hardy waved at us and called
out our names, and I was surprised that he should remember us. He
himself looked so different with his beard shaved off, that I don't
think I would have known him if I met him alone on the street.
Since I have grown older and my wife has done some research on this
subject, I have become interested in the hiding places of these
brethren, and in their code for keeping in touch with each other and
warning each other. I think an interesting study could be done on this
*Juanita Brooks (1898-), a well-known historical scholar and writer
of remarkable charm, is the mother of a large family and is a pioneer
of sorts. She is the author of Mountain Meadows Massacre and
biographies of Dudley Leavitt and John D. Lee. She also edited the
diaries of Lee and the journal of Hosea Stout. A frequent contributor
to local and national journals, she has published most recently
Uncle Will Tells His Story (1970), a biography of her husband,
from which the above has been excerpted.