Attention: This site does not support the current version of your web browser. To get the best possible experience using our website we recommend that you upgrade to a newer version or install another browser

John Squires Bowker Life Story

John Squires Bowker - Autobiography Since entering the afternoon of my life, my thoughts have increasingly turned backwards, and I find myself reviewing and reliving events long since forgotten. I was fortunate to have been born in an era during which the Western United States was settled and populated by hardly pioneers, and I became one of them My past was as befitted a pioneer full of adventure, hardships and struggles for the establishment of law and order to protect my home and family. However, predominating over all else, and under the guidance and protection of God, I was given the health and strength to accomplish many things through hard physical labor, and I write not of them in vanity. I was born of goodly parents April 4, 1871, in American Fork, Utah County. My father, John Brotton (or Broughton) Bowker, was born April 19, 1839, in Lancaster, England. The Bowkers were landowners in England, and my father was a blacksmith. He was one of several children. Accompanied by a brother, they migrated to America, arriving in New York approximately 1865, near the end of the Civil War. The two brothers separated in New York, one going to California, and my father stopping in Salt Lake City. From that time on, the two brothers and their progeny were lost to each other. My mother, Mary Emily Squires, was born August 14, 1849, in London, Essex County, England, the second daughter of Henry Augustus Squires and Sarah Minnie Cattlin. Henry Augustus Squires was born February 22, 1825 at Hartford, England, the son of Thomas Squires and Sarah Patnoster of Herefordshire, England. Sarah Minnie Cattlin, the daughter of William Cattlin and Sara Bigg of Wellin, Hartfordshie, England, was born November 16, 1826, at Wellin, Hartfordshire, England. Henry Augustus Squires and Sarah Minnie Cattlin were married in 1847 in Wellin, Hartfordshire, England. Henry Augustus brought his family to Utah in the Edward Martin Handcart Company, arriving in Utah November 27, 1856. My mother, Mary Emily Squires, was seven years old when she made the trip across the plains with her parents. Her younger sister was born while camping in Echo Canyon, Utah, and they named her Echo Levenia. My mother’s father was a merchant in Salt Lake City for several years, but due to ill health, he returned to England. In the meantime, my mother had met my father, and although she was only fifteen years of age, they were married in Salt Lake Cuty, Utah, so that her father could see her settled before he left for England. I was the oldest son and the second child of a family of four children – two boys and two girls. As a child, my sister, Emily, and I used to gather hops and sell them; and also go out in the fall and gather ground cherries, scald them and dry them to sell, as people were usually poor in those days. I can remember going out and husking corn and getting every seventh bushel. It was very tiring, but I stayed with it, and got 15 bushels for my share, which was enough to fatten our pig and supply us with meal. My parents made their first home at American Fork, Utah, where my father operated a blacksmith shop for a livelihood. Four children were born to them: Emily Lovenia on January 25, 1869; John Squires, April2, 1871; Clara Hartley, June 10, 1874; and August Theodore, April 17, 1875. I was five years old, Emily (7), Clara (3) and August (1) when on May 12, 1876, accident snatched our father from us. He was returning home after dark one night, and while crossing a narrow footbridge, slipped and fell into the stream. He must have struck some object that stunned him, for he drowned. My mother was 27 years and inexperienced, with for small children for which to care. However, my father had been a very good blacksmith and there were many accounts owing money for work he had done for them. My mother collected on these bills, and by doing sewing and other jobs, kept the family for three years. In 1880, she married Jerome William Kenny from Bountiful, Utah. Shortly after her marriage, she sold her house in American Fork, bought a team, wagon and small farm in Charleston, Wasatch County, Utah, about twenty miles north of Provo City on the banks of the Provo River. In the hills along the Provo River were dear, antelope and bear. Along the river and streams were ducks and geese. There was a law regulating the killing of large game, but it was open season on fishing and small game such as ducks, sage hens, and geese. Since my stepdad liked to hunt and fish, we had plenty of fish and small game to eat. I had four half brothers and sisters: Lesslie Josephine, born in 1880; William J. in 1882; Florence in 1884; and Fredrick Kenny in 186. They were all born in Charleston, Wasatch County, Utah. When I was nine years old, I started to work out at different things, such as herding cows. When we were moving to Charlestn, I remember staying until they got moved and returned for me, and I got so homesick! After we moved, I was kept very busy helping in the neighborhood doing such things as a boy of ten could do. I was always willing and anxious to help in any job there was to do, and it’s surprising the jobs I was asked to do. Wages were very small, ranging from $3.00 to $5.00 a month, plus board. It took most of it for shoes and clothes. I was privileged to attend school during the winter months until I finished the eighth grade. I worked for a year or two on a farm in Provo. Because of my keen interest in education, I completed high school in Provo in 1890. In 1891, I registered for a commercial course at Brigham Young College at Provo, and graduated in 1892. After graduating, I got a job at the mental hospital in Provo, working as an attendant in the male wards. These men were turned loose all together, and it was the attendants’ duty to keep them from fighting among themselves. The first month, I was so scared I didn’t know whether I would ever get used to it. Since I was quite young and inexperienced, the patients would keep following me around. There was one certain patient, who was a freak of nature, and followed me everywhere I went, and every chance he got, he would try to climb on my back and scream like a young tiger. A tiger wouldn’t have been much more fierce, since this man would bite and scratch when he succeeded in getting on my back. He tried this several times, and it was a terrible experience since those men can be very strong. After this terrible experience, I thought I would see if I could make him fear me, instead of my being afraid of him. At that time, I was very active ad strong. I made up my mind to see what I could do about the situation. I watched my chance and slipped quickly behind him, grabbed his jacket by the back of the neck and jerked him back and let him drop to the floor. This scared him as badly as he’d been scaring me. I kept up that practice for about one week, and by that time he was so scared of me he kept out of my sight as much as he possibly could from then on. I wasn’t afraid of him anymore. I worked at that job for one year. Then I applied for the job of taking care of a dairy herd. That was a strenuous job, but I made more money. There were about twenty cows to milk night and morning, grain to chop, which was chopped by using a purebred Jersey bull to pull it around. This bull was shipped in from Wisconsin. He had a pedigree record as long as your arm, so he was a valuable animal, even though he had killed one man, and had to be watched constantly. The chopper was a treas mill affair, and the bull had to keep moving to keep it going. Besides taking care of the cattle milking, keeping the barn extremely clean, I had to set the milk in the vat of ice water, the ice having to be gotten out of the icehouse. The ice was packed in sawdust, so it took extra work. The milk had to be skimmed twice a day, and I had to churn everyday, which provided the butter for those in the institution. The patients drank the skim milk and buttermilk with their meals. I had to start milking about 4:00 A.M. and milk again at 4:00 P.M. If I worked hard and fast I could manage to get about four hours every day to catch up in lost sleep. I got one-half day off every week; I went to town two to three times a week and had an enjoyable time. The wages were good and I liked my job. I was always happy while going to Brigham Young College. I got acquainted with many fine young men and women. The six years I spent in Provo were among some of my happy days. While taking care of the dairy herd, I had one inmate to help me milk. He milked the cows well but was very slow. One particular morning, I had to go to the men’s ward to get him. I noticed he seemed different, but there wasn’t any choice but to take him. He didn’t seem to want to milk, but I finally got him started. All of a sudden, I heard a commotion, turned around and saw him coming at me with a pitchfork. Being quick, I jumped to one side, and just missed getting pierced through my body. Before taking over the dairy herd, I had taken boxing for one hour a week for two years, thinking I might enter the ring as a boxer, but I changed my mind and am sure happy I did. Haven taken this training possibly saved my life, for I had learned to move very quickly. I was able to knock him down, take away the pitchfork, and straightaway I took him back to the male ward. I then had to break in another man, but I had to be constantly on the alert. He had threatened to run away if he got the chance, but since he was partly sane, I could help a lot by talking to him. When I went to town I would bring him candy, which also helped. I was baptized November 26, 1883 at Charleston, Utah, by Emmanuel Richman and ordained a Deacon at Charleston. I was ordained an Elder by Andrus O. Inglestrom at Basalt, Idaho; and a High Priest, February 5, 1898 by R.L. Bybee at Iona, Idaho. While working at Provo, I bought me enough clothes to last about eight years and saved $250.00. I was 22 on April 4, 1893, and just a short time afterwards; I suddenly got the urge to leave this job. I didn’t understand the reason, since jobs were hard to get in those days. But in the latter part of June, on a clear sunny day, I gave up my job, and taking the $250 that was my life’s savings until that time, I went to Salt Lake City. I stayed there for about two weeks visiting with my mother’s people. Without any particular reason, I decided to go to Idaho. I arrived in Idaho Falls about July 1893. I had two uncles living in Iona, Idaho, so I decided to visit with them. I found a man who was going to Iona, and he gave me a ride to my Uncle Preston Free’s place. Uncle Preston Free and my mother’s sister, Aunt Lessie, were very happy to have me visit with them. Uncle Preston’s health wasn’t very good at this time, so I used my stored-up energy to help them get their hay cut and into the stack. He had a single brother about the same age as I helping him. Findley, his brother, stacked the hay, and I pitched it onto the wagon and to the stack. We finished haying about the 22nd of July. Uncle Preston promised us that when we finished the haying we could go to the headwaters of Willow Creek for two or three days. The whole family would go along and we would celebrate the 24th of July. My aunt had a nice-looking girl, about 18 years of age, helping her in the house. It seemed to me that she came every day and willingly helped in the house, staying until dusk so that Findley could walk home with her. Findley was a fine-looking man, with large, dark eyes and a sympathetic nature. He wasn’t very talkative, but he was madly in love with this girl. Evidentially, she had been coming over everyday for sometime before I arrived on the scene. She had no charms for me at all, and I treated her like any other member of the family. On the 23rd of July we were filling a double-bedded wagon box with hay to last the team on our trip. Findley was throwing the hay up to me, and I was tromping it in the wagon bed. Because he hadn’t been too sure of the girl, and was so in love, he thought she might be falling in love with me, and he was getting jealous. When she came out that evening and asked him if he was ready to walk home with her, instead of asking her to wait a few minutes until he was ready to go, he asked her who she wanted to walk her home. She spoke up and pointed to me in the wagonbox. I was terribly surprised, and being inexperienced also, I found myself walking her home. We had an enjoyable evening with her family, and it was about 11:30 when I got back. Findley was out in the road waiting for me, and worried and unhappy about the situation. I never felt so sorry for any one in my life as I did for him because he was such a fine person. He told me he didn’t kow what he would do if that girl failed to care for him. I knew, by the way she treated him, that she only went out with him because she wanted someone to go with, but he didn’t understand. The next morning, bright and early, we left for the mountains. My uncle and aunt had three little girls, ranging for eight to twelve years of age. We traveled about forty miles into the mountains and arrived at our journey’s end about 5:00 in he afternoon. We took plenty of angleworms with us, and since I had done a great deal of fishing when I was a boy, by dark I had caught about 20 pounds of nice salmon trout. We had a wonderful time in the mountains, since the fish were plentiful, and we had lots of time to explore the country. Finley was very broken up about this girl whom he felt was the only one in the whole world for him that he could love and cherish, and she didn’t act very interested in him. I told him to try and make up with her, but whether anything happened I don’t know. He died less than a year from that time. After that trip, I decided to stay in Idaho and make my home in the Snake River Valley. I helped my uncle the rest of that summer and fall. I worked very hard for him, and all I got was my board. But I did still have in my possession in the neighborhood of $20.00 that I had earned in Utah. My uncle said if I would loan that to him, he would reimburse me with interest a little later. This happened in the year 1893, and that much money at that particular time represented a fortune. He never repaid a dime of that money. He had the name of not being a very good paymaster. I think the main reason was that he didn’t have the ability to make money, and he was the kind that always wanted more than he could pay for because he was always in debt. He treated me so fine that I never had it in for him, and thirty years before he died, I told him to cross it off his books. During the time I helped Uncle Preston Free, I was very attentive to my Church duties because after all, the Gospel of Jesus Christ meant so much to me. I loved it with my heart and soul. With my uncle and his family, we took many nice trips, meeting some fine young men and women. I must confess I did step out with some very fine Latter-day Saint girls. Of course, I wanted to meet some fine young lady that would suit my taste and desires, always having in mind a girl of my faith so there wouldn’t be any discord in the home. I also wanted to marry an L.D.S. girl, so I could be married to her in the temple for time and all eternity, which I did, and I am well-pleased and happy with my choice. I made two trips to Blackfoot, Idaho, before I made a homestead filing on a 120-acre piece of land in January 1894. I was first to make a filing under the Homestead Act in the state, according to the local newspaper. I met the girl I finally married at the district school about the first of March in 1894. I had met her father, and he was a swell guy; also, her mother was an exceptionally fine woman. She lived to be 86 years of age and passed away in February 1942. The girl’s parents arranged a surprise party, and I was invited. When we young people arrived at the place where the surprise was to be, out host and hostess came out and told us to put our teams in the barn, and made us feel so welcome that we were very happy to have come. One of the many pretty girls I had met in Provo was visiting with relatives and she was there, so all in all we had a most glorious time. In the course of the evening’s program of old-fashioned games, we played one called “Post Office”. Of course, I was called to the post office. I was to call some girl to redeem the letter that lacked sufficient postage. I didn’t know just how many stamps to call for because the one you called had to deliver a kiss for every stamp you called. So I said I needed one stamp, and I told the announcer to call the girl that is now my wife. In her sweet voice, she said that it was hardly worth coming after, but she came. From then on, she dated for time and all eternity. After playing games, singing and dancing, we ate our very sumptuous lunch, and the party said goodnight to the host and hostess, thanking them for their hospitality and they, in turn, thanked us for coming and begged us not to be too long before we returned. In1894, I rented my uncle’s farm for one year. I started out by getting ready to work the ground by greasing and repairing the harnesses, and checking and repairing the machinery. As soon as the frost went out of the ground and it was dry enough, I started broadcasting the grain and harrowing it up into the ground. After the grain was in, I started cutting potatoes for planting. I would get up just as son as I could see, and since the days were getting longer, I could get a lot done. The team could only stand eight or nine hours in the field, so I would cut potatoes and get the ditches in shape before and after I would take them out to work. While the horses were having about an hour’s rest at noon, I would spend fifteen minutes eating and the rest of the time cutting potatoes. It took me about two weeks to have the ground ready and the sets cut fir about ten acres of potatoes. I also planted 60 acres of wheat, oats and barley, and had ten acres for sugar cane. There were about twenty acres of pasture, forty acres in alfalfa and about fifteen acres in Timothy hay. When my crops were all in the ground, a friend of mine, whose brother wanted a a horse brought to Ogden, Utah, for him, asked if I would like to ride it down. He told me his brother would pay me $10.00, so I started from Iona and went as far as the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, about fifty miles the first day, which was about as far as a fresh horse could travel. On the second day, I had to get the horse sod, and I didn’t have any money. Since the country was more-or-less wild in those days, and you didn’t know whom you might run into, I took my six-shooter with me, and I was glad to have it in my possession. I told the blacksmith if he would shoe my horse and give me $2.50, I would give him the gun. He didn’t especially want the gun, but since it was a good deal, he accepted. The first night I stopped at Fort Hall. The agent sent an Indian to put my horse in the barn and see that it was well cared for. The agent slept in a little room in the U.P. depot. He told me he didn’t know where he could sleep me, unless he took some of the new blankets he had for sale in is store and made me a bed in the store. This he did, and although the bed was hard, it certainly answered the purpose. The agent bid me goodnight, went out of the store, and locked me in until 6:00 the next morning. He took me to breakfast in a little lunch counter in the depot room. I asked the agent how much I owed him, even though I was broke. To my astonishment, he said, “you had such a hard bed there is no charge for the breakfast.” I thanked him kindly and went on my way. The second day, I made about sixty miles before I stopped at a stock ranch. The old gentleman who owned it put my horse in the barn and fed him grain, and then he gave me to meals and a bed. The next morning when I was ready to go, I asked him what I owed him, and he said, “If you have 50 cents that will be o.k.” I thanked im and rode on my way. This was the beginning of the third day and since the horse was shod traveled much better, and I made 65 to 70 miles that day, and stopped at a little hotel in Callistan, Utah, 20-25 miles north of Ogden. I was so sick when I arrived in Callistan that I could hardly hold up my head I told the landlady that I was ill and would very much like to go to bed. She showed me to my room, and soon after I got in bed, had a severe chill that shook the bed. I called the landlady and asked if she could bring me something hot to drink. She brought be ginger tea. I drank one pint as hot as I could, and soon after I started to perspire, Finally, I went to sleep and woke up the next morning feeling fine. It cost me $1.50 for my meals and bed and 50 cents for my horse, so I was broke again. I arrived in Ogden about 10:30 A.M. and found Miles Jones, the man I was bringing the horse to. I told him that his brother had told me to collect $10.00 from him for bringing the horse down. He told me he had written his brother and told him to send the horse right away. Since the horse got there too late, he could only give me$5.00 but that it wouldn’t cost me anything for my board and room as long as I stayed in Ogden. I hardly knew how I was going to get fair to Charleston, Utah on the $5.00, but luck came my way again. When I went to the ticket agent to see about getting a ticket to Charleston, he had one for Park City that would run out the next day, so he sold it to me for half price, which was $1.50. I was as pleased to get the ticket as he was to get rid of it. Park City was a mining town and the outlying towns or districts brought produce there, such as eggs, butter, pork, mutton, beef, etc. I had worked for a butcher when I was about fifteen, and had been sent several times to Park City with produce, so I was somewhat familiar with this small town. I arrived there about 4:00 P.M. At that time, there wasn’t any transportation from Park City to Charleston, so I looked around and finally got a ride to the home where my folks lived. The little town where my mother, stepfather, brothers and sisters lived was about three miles south of Heber City, situated three miles south of Heber City; situated on the banks of the Provo River, about 20 miles north of Provo City, Utah. At that time I had one full brother. Augustus T. Bowker; and two fill sisters, Emily L. Peterson, and Clara H., who were also married, and two half-brothers’ and two half-sisters’ living there. At this time, I had a homestead of 120 acres, and another 200 acres, which I had filed on under the desert entry. So I made a bargain with my brother, Augustus, who was four years younger than me, just turning 19, on April, 17, 1894, that if he would add his one span of small horses and a new harness, one saddle horse and saddle, and about ten head of cattle to my 320 acres of land on which I had filed, that I would go 50-50 with him. We thought that would be a good deal for both of us. We didn’t have a wagon, so when we got a chance to get a fairly good old wagon for about half the price of a new one, we took it. We knew we were paying more than it was worth, but we couldn’t afford a new one. Bright and early on the morning of April 20, 1984, we started out. As we had cattle to drive, we couldn’t go faster than about 2 ½ miles and hour, and sometimes the cattle would dodge into an open gate, and it would take five or ten minutes to get them rounded up and going again. We had between 200 and 250 miles to go from Charleston to Iona, which is situated about seven miles northeast of Idaho Falls, so it was slow going. The first night, we camped about four miles southeast of Park City. We managed to stop at a spot where the grass was very luxuriant, so the horses and cattle were well filled for the next day’s travel, which happened to be a Thursday. We always tried to get started by 7:00 A.M., but sometimes it would be later because the cattle would be hard to find. Thursday, our second day, was a most beautiful one, and we got along fine. On the third day, we came to a little village called Croyden, where our uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Toone, and family lived. From there we traveled to Ogden Canyon, camping on the Ogden bench about five miles east of the city. We managed to get as far as Bear River on Saturday. The grass wasn’t good, but since the next day was Sunday, and we didn’t want to travel then, we stayed there and got a good start on Monday morning. We reached Malad City that night and were making very good time. Monday evening, we drove our cattle up a canyon where the feed and water looked better than any place else we had seen. On our way back from driving them up the canyon, a man stopped us and told us that particular canyon was reserved for them. Since it was government land, we felt we were entitled to feed there as much as he was, so we left the cattle and horses there. However, the next morning when we went to gather up the animals, one of our best dark red heifers was missing. My brother rode for four hours trying to find the animal, but to no avail. We decided it had been stolen. We reached Downy on Tuesday; McCammon on Wednesday; Pocatello on Thursday; Blackfoot on Friday; and by getting an early start, reached Iona Saturday morning. We didn’t get back too soon, since I had rented my Uncle Preston Free’s place, and it was time to clear ditches and start to irrigate. However, it started to rain and rained for twenty-four hours. It soaked the ground so thoroughly that we didn’t have to irrigate for 10 days, so we went down to our homestead and dug a cellar about 24 X 14, six feet deep, and hauled rock to rock it up. By the time we got back, everything needed watering. My brother was a swell young man, a pusher and hard worker, as well as very kind and generous. He was the kind of person who felt badly he couldn’t do more than he did. He kept the Word of Wisdom, never swore, and was a good Latter-day Saint, and everyone who knew him loved him. But he wasn’t with us very long. After he had been with me about two months, his health began to fail and he started to complain of his back hurting him. About a month after that, he came down with typhoid fever. Although he seemed to be getting along fine, he passed away August 11, 1894. It was one of the most grievous and heart-rending experiences the Bowkers and Kennys ever had to accept. He was living as perfect of life as he knew how. I did his temple work for him. If I can live as well as he did, I need not fear to die. If we keep the laws of God, as explained to us by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have the promise that we will receive exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom of God. I believe with all my heart that Augustus was a fit subject for that glory. Besides renting my uncle’s farm of over 100 acres, I had also agreed to cut, rake, bunch and haul 70 acres of hay on the Howard farm located about five miles north of Blackfoot. This I did, and after it was in the stack, it measured out about 150 ton. It kept me working night and day, but I was very strong and healthy and got along okay. After the crops were in the latter part of October, I made a bargain with a young married man, Stephen Bolinger, that if he would come to Blackfoot and help me do a lot of canal work, and other work I wanted done on the place, I would give him 40 acres of and the water with it. He accepted my proposition, leaving his wife in Iona. The first thing we did was put a good dirt roof on the cellar my bother and I had built in the spring. After that was completed, we got our teams and scrapers together, and with John V. England, another Youngman by the name of Draper, and another team or two, we broke the first furrows for the People’s Canal. We worked for $4.00 a day for the man and team, but had to feed our horses and ourselves. It was very strenuous work, and in those days, a working day was from sunrise to sundown. As time went on, several more men and teams came on the ditch to work. Many of the men who worked at that time would have gladly have sold their ditch stock for fifty cents on the dollar, and many did when they could get a buyer. As for me, I had 300 acres to get water for, so I was working and looking out for the future. We worked until about December 20, 1984. By that time, it was getting so cold we had to quit as the ground froze up as soon as it was plowed. I want to say a few more words about my hired man, Stephen Bolinger. He was from Nebraska and didn’t know anything about the L.D.S. religion. After he had it explained to him, he was baptized into the church and married a nice Mormon girl who was on a visit. She was anxious to be married in the temple, but he had used tobacco from his youth. While we worked on the ditch, I talked to him and persuaded him to stop smoking for one week. We worked about ten hours a day, and it was twenty miles to the store in Blackfoot. Of course, I had never used tobacco, so I wouldn’t give him as much sympathy as the situation should have had. Although he had an optimistic nature, he seemed to be out of sorts and didn’t want to talk. We went to town on Saturday afternoon to buy our weeks supply of groceries – mostly syrup, bacon, flour and baking powder. When I had finished making this purchase and was ready to leave the store, I saw that he had a parcel in his hand and asked him what he had. He told me he was ashamed to own up, but he didn’t feel he could endure another week of such torture. I knew something had to be done about the situation, so I said, “Now, look here, Stephen, are you going to let tobacco keep you and your lovely wife from going through the temple and being married for all time and eternity. You’re a strong man and should have will power to quit the use of tobacco. Figure out in your own mind what you mean to your wife. Please don’t use the stuff any more, and I will help you all I can. And if you will ask your Father in Heaven to help you, I know He will.” He gave his tobacco back to the clerk. He made up his mind and it wasn’t long after that until he and his wife were married in the temple for all time and eternity. Steven was a swell guy, and I thought a great deal of him. Instead of giving him 40 acres of my homestead, I bought a claim consisting of 160 acres of good land joining the Thomas town site, and gave that to him, but his wife wanted him to sell it and go to southern Utah to live. Later, he did sell and went to Utah, where the last time I heard of him he was in the bishopric. In the year 1894, the same year I rented my uncle’s farm, he raised 10 acres of exceptionally good sugar cane. It grew to be ten feet in height ad made lots of molasses. I, with Stephen Bolinger and his wife, moved down on my homestead about January 10, 1895. They took the cellar that we had built as a place to stay until I could build a home. I had a wagon box with a wagon cover over the top where I slept. There was about one foot of snow on the level at that time, and as I remember I sent word by another fellow to ask Miss Wilson, who is my wife now, if she would go to a party with me of the twelfth of January. I never received any answering word, and since I had only seen her about twice before, it worried me. Nevertheless, I went with the crowd. We had a large bob sleigh with straw in the box, and quits over the straw to use to cover up. Not knowing whether or not she had accepted my invitation, I sent her brother in to bring her out. I wasn’t too sure of myself for she was a most beautiful girl. She came out, got into the sleigh and sat down. In about one second, I was sitting by her side. I started talking to her and, of course, she was very cheerful to talk to, so I took it for granted that everything was all right. The party was a grand success and everyone seemed to be enjoying himself or herself very much. It came to an end about 11:30. On the way home, when we came to the river bridge, everyone had to get out and walk across the river, so Miss Wilson and me stayed in the rear out of hearing distance. I had fully made up my mind that I wanted her for my wife, so without wasting preliminary words. I came right to the point. I asked for the privilege of her company for a month or so until we got better acquainted. In the meantime, if either one of us wanted to quit, all we had to do was say so. She agreed with me, and we understood each other. At this time, I didn’t have much of a place to keep our horses and stock, which consisted of five horses, one colt and two milk cows. Only three of the horses belonged to me – the others belonged to Stephen Bolinger. I established a rule when I started to work for myself to never put off until tomorrow what I could do today. I can truthfully say I tried to live that way. Since we had corrals and sheds to build, we would get up early and go down to the river to get out poles, posts and brush sufficient to complete them for our stock. We also had about 40 ton of hay to haul from Mr. Howard’s place, which was about eleven or twelve miles distant. We would take two teams and haul two loads daily until we got all the hay unloaded. We also had to haul more poles and posts so we could fence the hay. At that time, there was an L.D.S. ward in Riverside. They didn’t have a meeting house, so the meetings were held in the Riverside schoolhouse, which was located on the bank of the Snake River about four miles due west of the River Bridge. Since meeting Miss Wilson, I attended Sunday school every Sunday. Afterwards, she would ask me to her hone for dinner. We would then go to Church at 2:00 P.M., and then back to her place, which seemed to be the place where the young people gathered because everyone made you feel so welcome. Miss Wilson’s family was lovely people, as fine as anyone could find any place. They were kind-hearted, generous and naturally had love in their hearts for everyone. Miss Wilson had two brothers and three sisters. Her father was Lewis Dunbar Wilson, Jr., and her mother was Eliza Ellinor Hunt. They were married March 10, 1873. I was made very happy when I married into the Wilson family. However, I had a lot of work ahead of me. The winter was severe and cold, and on top of having to work all day in the zero weather, sleeping in the wagon box with juts a thin, skimpy cover, without any heat in it, was sometimes very unpleasant. I could manage fairly well, except when I would be working until 12:00 or 1:00 A.M. I would be almost frozen anyway, and by the time I would undress and get under the blanket and quilts, I felt in a stage of frigidity, which even a comfortable bed could not change quickly. But that was the way it was. Notwithstanding what I endured, I wasn’t sick one day and never caught cold. For one whole year, 1984 – 1985, I don’t remember sleeping in a house, and I indifferently followed the plan I had started of never putting off until tomorrow what could be done today. It was about the middle of March 1985, and my hay was all home and I had it fenced. I had also built a makeshift corral and shed that would do until such time as I could build one that would be better. The snow was all gone and the frost was out of the ground. I was anxious to get forty acres cleared of sagebrush so I could plaow. Stephen Bolinger was still with me. We borrowed a heavy drag, which was made of Union Pacific steel rails and put together in the shape of a square eight-by-eight feet. A team could then be hitched to the two front corners. We would drag this over the sagebrush one way, and then come back the opposite way. This would break lots of the brush off, so that we could pile it for burning. It took two teams, four or five day, to break the sagebrush and another week to pile and burn. After this, we went to Mr. Golenger’s homestead and dug a cellar 12X18. We also hauled rock for the walls. He finished this before selling out. By this time, it was the middle of April, so I started to plow the forty acres we had cleared in readiness for crop planting the next year. All I had was a 12’ hand plow, and that was about all my three horses could pull. I plowed very day, except Sunday, which I spent going to Sunday school and Sacrament meeting. I paid my tithing and served the Lord to the best of my understanding, and I have always felt as if the Lord blessed me in many ways. It took me about a month to plow the forty acres of sagebrush ground. I needed to get ditches ready for the following yesr when they hoped to get water through the People’s Canal to my homestead, a distance of about four miles, but this had to wait for another year. Since I was engaged to marry Miss Wilson, I had to build a house. I decided on a stone house, since there was plenty of stone suitable for building about four or five miles away. So I started hauling rock. I averaged two loads day, and brought over one hundred loads of stone before I felt I had enough. Builders told me if I was going to build a house of stone, I should get a pile of stone larger than the house I expected to build. It took e about two months to get this much. I knew a man who lived in the mouth of Wolverine Canyon by the name of Jones who had a limekiln. I bought about 150 bushels from him at ten cents a bushel and hauled it down to my place. So with the stone and lime on hand, I was ready to build. It must have been about the first of August when we got started on my house. Of course, in order to cut expenses in building, I would get up at daylight and face building stone, and by working all the daylight there was in August. I managed to get enough stone faced to keep the mason lying. Since I was going to get married the last part of November, I had to have some money. A man named George Warden bought a new threshing machine, and hired me and my team to work with him oiling, greasing and feeding the machine This was a strenuous and dirty job, but it lasted until about the first of November. After that, I hired out to bring back silver-lead bullion. I took my team and wagon and hired Mr. Herbert Bron’s team and wagon. I trailed the wagons one behind the other, since it was easier to go up the hill with the four horses pulling the two wagons this way. If the going got too rough, we could always unhook one wagon and pull them up by themselves. I took this trip to a big operating mine about 120 miles above Mackay right up in the high mountains. The roads were in excellent condition, but it still took close to 23 days to make the trip. I made it in twenty. I had not written to my betrothed during my trip, so as soon as I delivered the load of silver-lead bullion to the company and the hired team and wagon to their owners, I hurriedly prepared to go to my girl’s place. We planned our trip to the Logan Temple. We went to Logan with a team and wagon. Miss Wilson’s aunt, who was about the same age, went with us to visit with her mother. We left Blackfoot on the morning of the 23rd day of November and went fifteen miles south of Pocatello where we camped on the Portneif River. I made my bed under the wagon, and Miss Wilson ans Miss Hunt made their bed in the wagon. The next day was beautiful, but since there were no road signs, we took the wrong road and went to Lewiston instead of Richmond. When we discovered our mistake we had to go back. We traveled all day and practically all night. The next morning, we borrowed a one-horse buggy from one of Miss Wilson’s uncles to make the trip to Logan. We were rebaptized for ourselves, and were baptized for about thirty names for the dead. After that, we went to Richmond. The next morning, we left Richmond about 6:00 A.M. and got to the temple about 7:30 A.M. There, on November 27, 1895, we received our endowments, and shortly after, a servant of God, our Eternal Father, united us in marriage for all time and eternity. We knew if we lived true and faithful lives and kept all of the commandments of God, we would be exalted and receive an eternal exaltation in the Kingdom of God. When we returned to Grandmother Hunt’s place in Richmond where we were staying, they had a delicious meal prepared in honor of our marriage, which we greatly appreciated. Uncle John and Aunt Gadie and their little family of three boys were also there. However, since we were very anxious to get home, we started back the next day, and arrived there on the 30th of November about 2:00 P.M. There my wife’s folks had a big meal prepared, with a wedding cake, and many relatives and friends were present. It was a happy and glorious occasion. Since our stone home needed some more work done on it before we could move in, we lived with my wife’s folks for about two weeks. Soon after we moved into our own home, and I went to work on the People’s Canal with a team and scraper. I received $4.00 a day – one in store pay and $4.00 in ditch stock. That dollar a day surely helped out, as money in those days was just as scarce as hen’s teeth. At that time, you couldn’t get a job, and when you did, $1.00 a day is all you got. We were glad to work on the canal, since we needed the water for our land. As soon as spring weather came, I stopped working on the canal and went to farming. Since I had plowed all the land in the spring of 1984, I was ready to sew wheat, which I did by hand, and harrowed it in with an old harrow I had. After that, I began work on my own private ditches. One of my neighbors was a surveyor and for $3.00 I got him to survey the ditches I needed. I worked on them for over a month, and had them all ready when the water was turned in. I worked nearly night and day getting the water over my crop, since this was the first time it had ever been irrigated, and it was a very difficult and strenuous job. Since I didn’t have the money to buy boots, I had to water bare-footed. It wasn’t long until my feet became very sore and scratched up with sagebrush and stumps and prickly plants. Sometimes, I would leave bloodstains on the ground. My wife made me some moccasins out of old overalls. They helped as long as they lasted, but they soon wore out. However, I managed until I could afford to buy some boots. We had a very good crop that year, but wheat prices were so low – about 45 cents a hundred pounds, after paying for the binding and threshing and other expenses, there wasn’t much left. That was the way it was year after year. If you ever got in debt you could hardly get out, and the bank charge 10% interest on the dollar if you borrowed money. It wasn’t until about 1914 that times started picking up, and farmers commenced to live like the rest of the people in the United States. In 1898, we bought Mrs. Pile’s place, which joined our place on the East, consisting of 40 acres. She was a widow, her husband having passed away two years previously. Shortly after buying the place, we sold the improvements with three acres of land to a family by the name of Blackburn for a very small consideration, as they were a very needy family with one girl and four boys, ranging in age from about three years to nine years. It was hard for them to get enough food to eat. He was a good man, but a poor provider. We gave him all the work we could to help them out. While Mr. Blackburn was working for me, I decided to put up some ice for summer use, since we didn’t have any electricity or refrigeration. It was about the middle of January of 1898. The winter had been very cold, without much snow, and the ice on the river was about two feet in thickness. We had been cutting ice and had about what we needed for our loads. I was just finishing with the shovel when it slipped out of my hand and landed in the river. It was seven or eight degrees below zero, but this was a borrowed shovel, and I didn’t have the price of a new one. We laid a plank over the opening, and I stripped off my clothes, tied a rope around my body under my arms, and told Mr. Blackburn to be sure and hold on incase I had trouble getting out. I dove into the water. The first time I couldn’t get it, but the next time I managed to get hold. I was a very good swimmer at that time and being in the best of health, I was no worse for the plunge. In the year 1898, at the age of 27 years, I was called to be Second Councilor to H.P. Christenson in the Bishopric of the Moreland Ward, a position I held for about three years, or until Bishop Christenson was called on a foreign mission to Denmark for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While in the Bishopric at Moreland. A very fine man by the name of O.N. Lilinjenquist, who was in the Moreland District giving patriarchal blessings, gave my wife and myself a blessing. Many of the things he promised us have come to pass in our lives. As our lives are getting less in length, we appreciate the Gospel of Jesus Christ more and more. About the 10th of October 1899, when I was digging my potatoes, I became very ill with a severe pain in the back part of my neck. It pained and ached, and no matter what we did to ease the pain, it kept right on. It kept up for at least a week or ten days. We tried everything we could think of to cure it but to no avail. Finally, they got Dr. Pointer, a young doctor, but a very efficient one, to check me. After a thorough examination, he decided it was the typhoid Fever. They were in much trouble, since the fever seemed to hang fire no matter what we did. I was getting weaker and weaker and at one time I lay unconscious for thirty days, and all the nourishment I received was through my nose. On the night of December 31, 1899, my wife gave birth to our third child, a little girl. We named her Veda Elinor. At this writing, she happens to be the wife of Milton Priddle, an architectural engineer. They live in San Francisco, California. The night Veda was born, I was all bloated up with the gas that was in my stomach, and the doctor was afraid I might burst, so he taped and bound me up as a preventative measure. The doctor had given me up. Everything looked exceptionally bad to have to break the bad news to my wife, who had just given birth. We decided to get the elders as soon as they could get here. The elders were Brother A.C. Jensen Sr. and Brother Swinson. They administered to me, and from that very moment, I took a change for the better. When the elders came out of the room, and the doctor went in to look me over, he could not understand how I had taken such a change for the better. He was a very conscientious doctor and made a thorough examination. When he got through, he was elated. He said, “There is a power higher than mine. It makes me happy to state that he is going to get well.” After five months of severe, grave and distressing illness, I was again well and able to take up again with the toils of life. It was about thirty more days before I felt like doing a full day’s work. When I got into the field to go to work, about two dozen of our neighbors and friends came with teams, plows and equipment, which gave me a big boost with my work. I want to say that we greatly appreciated the help we received through our neighbors and friends. During the month of December 1900, I started to dig a well. Up until this time, we had had to use ditch water, and since the small irrigation ditch that ran through our farm practically always froze up during the winter, we had to haul water from the Danskier Canal. We dug a hole 4 X 4 feet down 38 feet in the dirt and gravel, and curbed it up was we went with lumber. When we struck lava at 38 feet, we used a 31/2 drill with a spring pole, and since I weighed 180 pounds, I worked the spring pole. I would throw my weight on the spring pole and that way the drill bit would hit the rock and cut into it about thirty times a minute. With that arrangement, we would average about four feet a day. We put in a pump and have had very good water ever since. In the year 1902, I bought the Blackburn place back, after he had lived there for four years, and paid him double the price he paid for it. In the spring of 1903, after I had leveled and fixed about 21 or 22 more acres joining the Blackburn place, and had it all sowed to grain, a man came along and wanted to buy a small place, consisting of 15 acres, so in a weak moment I decided to sell to Henry McMullin the 24 acres in the southeast corner of the 160 acres. If I had waited one year longer, I could have gotten twice as much for the place. But one can make a great many mistakes as they go through life. I’ve always been sorry I that I sold that corner out of our 160 acres. When the branch railroad line was put in from Blackfoot to Mackay about 1902, the people of Moreland asked the railroad company to put a station in for the convenience of the people that lived in the Moreland town site. They agreed to do this if the people would do the grading for a siding and fix the ground for a depot. Some of the people of the ward, including myself, turned out with teams and plows and scrapers and got the job done. I have found out, by long experience, that it pays to lend a helping hand whenever we can. By so doing, it makes life more worthwhile for those that follow after. In 1903, at the annual People’s Canal Ditch meeting, I was chosen as President of the Riverside Canal Company, and remained in that position for many years. During that time, our canal was not carrying the water we were entitled to, so we made a contract with a company that had a large bulldozer to widen our canal from one end to the other. Also, while I was President of the Riverside Canal Company, a man by the name of John Hart came to see me and wanted me to buy a block of water stock for our canal company that he was offering for sale at $13.00 per inch. He was an agent for the Long Island Canal Company. It sounded like a good proposition, so not wanting to take a chance of losing out, I closed the transaction. It proved to be a wonderful investment for the canal company, since we didn’t have any reservoir water. During the time I held that office, I made a survey of all the land that came under the People’s Canal Company, or that might be irrigated by that canal. We had that done so that when the floodwater was apportioned to the various canals on the Snake River, we would get our share. Sometimes, I would be appointed to help settle claims made against the canal company. Many times, I have been asked by the board of directors to supervise certain pieces of work, although I felt I just didn’t have the time. Up until 1904, the house we lived in consisted of two rooms, one large, all-purpose room and a bedroom, with a basement cellar on the back, where I lived before we were married. Now, as we had three children, we needed some more room, so we decided to build three brick rooms on the back of the two stone rooms. That gave us a rather large, five-roomed house, with one basement room, which we used to store our canned fruit and vegetables. When my wife and I got married, we were situated one mile and three –forth miles from the Rose School House. It was just a small one-room school. I wasn’t living in Idaho when it was built, but I would judge it was built about 1890. As we were married in 1895, we didn’t have any children old enough to go to school until the fall of 1904. At that time, I was a member of the school board, and one year later was put in as chairman. Edward Swensen and A.R. Edwards worked with me. Our schoolhouse was getting too small to take care of the situation, and there were too many pupils for one teacher to teach all eight grades. It was a small district, and we felt the need of a grade school. In talking to the County Superintendent of Schools, I found out that our district was too small to be able to bond for enough money to build a larger schoolhouse and support more than one teacher. I took around a petition to the people to dissolve our school district, turning part to the Groveland, Riverside and Moreland School District. The required number of taxpayers signed it, and the district was divided. That put us in the Groveland School District. AT that time, we belonged to the Moreland L.D.S. Ward. About three years later, in 1910, the Groveland and Moreland Wards were divided on the school district lines. We had been trying to get the bishop of the Moreland Ward to let us join the Groveland Ward. It would make it so much more convenient, since we could always arrange our trip into town so as to be back in time to pick up the children who were going to the Groveland School. There were no school buses to take them to and from school as there are today. In about the year 1912, my sister, Emily, was living in Salt Lake. She was one of the finest women I ever knew. She looked after the needs of the whole family in health, sickness and death. She married a man by the name of Andrew Peterson in January 1893, and they lived together until about the first of October 1894, when they were divorced. She gave birth to a baby girl on October 26, 1894, after she was alone. She was a beautiful little girl, and they named her Vera. She died at the age of 26. I want to say this much for my Mother. She was the most beautiful woman in looks as well as being a true Latter-day Saint. She had a beautiful soul and was pure in heart. She had great faith in God, and when she was sore in need, she would pray mightily unto the Lord to give her wisdom that she might be opened so she and her four little children might get along somehow. She taught her children to pray and have faith in God, our Eternal Father. I was called on a mission the latter part of 1913. I told them I would gladly go, but it would take me about one year to put my affairs in shape. My wife was a very nervous type, and I couldn’t leave her with the children on the farm, so I bought 2 1/2 acres of Bishop Adam Yancy’s place, and I told them I would rent my farm and build my wife a house to live in while on my mission, and when I came home I could sell or rent it. After I had bought the lot and was making arrangements to build, President Duckworth came down to see me about 7:00 P.M. I was out in the cow barn milking. He stopped at the barn door and called in. I asked him what brought him out that way. He said, Young man, I have to talk with you.” I got in the one-horse buggy with him and we drove a short distance and stopped. Then he said out of the clear, blue sky. “We want to put you in as Bishop of the Groveland Ward.” If I hadn’t been sturdy, rugged, healthy and hardy, I believe I would have passed out. I said, “President Duckworth, you can’t do this to me. You know, you called me on a mission.” He said, “Brother Bowker, you have been chosen to be Bishop of the Groveland Ward, and this is your mission. The Stake Presidency and the High Council have all been in agreement with the Presidency of the Church in selecting you for that office.” I said, “In that case, I will accept and try to do the best I can.” And that I did. I was put in as Bishop of the Groveland Ward May 24, 1914, and served in that capacity for 16 years, or until May 4, 1930. Apostle George F. Richards ordained me a Bishop at a quarterly conference at Shelly, Idaho. I felt very humble and submissive to those that were in authority over me. And with the help of our Heavenly Father I tried, and learned to have love in my heart for the people of the Groveland Ward. As far as I know, I treated them all the same. At the time I was put in as Bishop, the country was new, and the people were mostly farmers. The outlook for them was not very encouraging. There were no enterprises for them to turn to make a few dollars on the side. What the farmer produced did not sell for enough on the market to start to pay the expenses of raising it. We had a very difficult time disposing of what we did raise. Potatoes sorted in good sacks and delivered in Blackfoot, brought from 25 to 35 cents per hundred, if you could sell them. Wheat brought from 50 to 64 cents per hundred. One year, I had a very good crop of wheat, but it had a trace of ball smut mixed in t, and I only received one-half price for it. It was very tough, but you had to keep going. I want to say more about my sister, Emily Elevina Bowker Peterson. When her little baby girl was about one month old, and when she felt strong enough to get a job and go to work, she went from Park City, Utah where she had lived since she married Andrew Peterson and got a job. She had to work long hours, but she kept that job until she died. She got the job in about the year 1897. Times were not very prosperous, and she helped her mother and her stepfather with means from time-to-time until the Kenny family were all married and gone for themselves. Dad Kenny depended on my mother more and more for support, and it got harder and harder, until he decided they had better get a divorce, so that was done. He went to live with his children, and my mother, being an ambitious type, moved to Salt Lake City, rented a house and took in roomers. She had enough saved to take care of herself in her old age and she lived to be 86. My sister, Emily, sent her stepdad a little money as long as she lived, and the rest of the family whenever they needed it. Everyone missed her when she passed out of this life. In the year 1915, in December I took a lunch and went out to the lavas to get a load of cedar wood. I got a big load of wood and started back about sundown. But it started to snow and became dark, and I could not keep on the road. So I unhitched my team, and tied them on the side of the wagon where the wind would not strike them so much. I hunted around to find a place where I would be more or less protected from snow and cold. I found a hole to crawl into and toughed it out until daylight. I got out as early as I could and got home all right. My dear wife, as the years went by, overcame some of her intense anxiety when I couldn’t get home from the lavas by nightfall. Up until 1919, the water I used on my place came from the People’s Canal Company. When I bought the Pile place November 21, 1898, I received a one-third interest in the George Warden Ditch, running from the Riverside Canal to my place, with 25 shares of stock in the Riverside Canal Company. I had sufficient water stock for my place in the People’s Canal Company; so I sold the Riverside stock to George Warden, and 23 years later, bought it back from Mr. Concklin and enough more from the others to give me 82 shares of stock in the Riverside Canal Company. I then had to make arrangements with J.H. Augustine, Garfield Bond, Mr. Woodward and Mr. Walton to widen the lateral large enough to carry the extra water. I did this to their satisfaction, and always did my share on the upkeep of the lateral. In 1930, I was absolutely broke. I couldn’t get anything worthwhile for anything I had to sell, and I owed the bank $10,000, so I tried to get a Federal Land Banl loan for that amount. They appraised my property, and all they would loan me was $8,800 on a 20-year loan at 4%. I wrote back and told them I would have to have a loan of $10,000, so it hung fire for about thirty days. Again I wrote them of the urgency to have $10,000. This time, they replied and said, “In your case. We’re suspending the rules and are going to let you have the money. It will be forthcoming as soon as we get it processed.” In a few days, the money came to the bank. They made out a personal note for me to sign for 41,200,00, payable in five years at 4% per annum, and a mortgage on my property for the balance of the $10,000. When I got everything fixed up, I had $500 left, and as it was about the middle of November, I left everything in charge of my hired man and went to San Francisco for the winter, where I went to school for four months. We came back about the first of April 1931, and started all over again. In 1940, we had the Federal Land Bank all paid in full, and all of our papers returned, paid in full. In about 1940, when Herbert Hoover was still President of the United States, times were so bad that I knew something had to be done. Up until now, I had always been a strong Republican and helped out in a political way, but times were getting worse day0by-day, so I thought maybe a change of political party was what the country needed. So I joined the Democratic party, and was made chairman of the Central Committee of Bingham County, a position I held until I sold out and moved to Idaho Falls. In November, 1943, I sold my farm to a man by the name of Becker, and about four years later, he sold the contract to Maurice C. Benson, who still holds the contract at this writing – May 30, 1952. We hope the Bensons keep the place as long as they live, because it would be a miracle to find nicer people than the Bensons, and we wish them good luck and lots of it. I want it to be known that I am a full-pledged Latter-day Saint, and am very pleased with that fact. I have received many direct blessings by believing and having great faith. I was ordained and Elder in the Church November 1895 by Bishop A.O. Inglestrom at Basalt, Bingham County, Idaho. I was ordained a High Priest by R.L. Bybee, February 5, 1898. On the 26th day of November 1949, I was so crippled with rheumatism that I was in critical condition. I knew, unless I could get the help I needed, I would be confined to my bed. My wife wasn’t very well, and she needed my help. It was Saturday, and they were holding a special Priesthood meeting prior to the stake general conference, I was sitting in the kitchen, when all of a sudden, I told my wife I was going to that meeting. She was amazed, and said they would have to carry me in and out, Joseph Fielding Smith was going to be the main speaker, and I wanted to hear him. By hanging onto chairs, I managed to get to the bedroom. I called upon my Heavenly Father by the authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood that I might receive a blessing so I could go to that special Priesthood meeting. All of a sudden, every bit of pain left me. The feeling I received was so much greater than when you feel your very best. It was so wonderful, and I never thought I was worthy of such a blessing. Nevertheless, I know this much, that my Heavenly Father lives and can, and will, answer our prayers if we have the faith of a ‘grain of mustard seed”. By receiving such a wonderful blessing, it helped to make me a better individual. I received a very strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All that have a complete testimony are very much blessed and should be very thankful for the same. We should pray evry day to our Heavenly Father that we might live so that we can receive His blessings whenever we are in need of a certain blessing. (Written by Marjie Ririe Smith eldest Granddaughter of John Squires Bowker

Cancel

Views:
x

Select a language