Friday, October 28, 2011

Winifred Rex Andrus 1918-2011.

In 2009 Winnie met for lunch with her Morgan cousins in Salt Lake City.

Last Wednesday, October 19, 2011, my Aunt Winifred Rex Andrus passed away. She was born in 1918 to Percy Harold and Bessie Morgan Rex. I was vacationing with my family in Virginia and Florida and wasn’t here for her funeral. I extend my heart’s deepest sympathy to my cousins and their families.

I visited Aunt Winnie in her Marion, Utah home not long before I left. As I left her room, she said, “Good bye, Bessie,” and meant it. While visiting with her she added more details to her story of the P.H. Rex family’s yearly move from Randolph, Utah to their Bear River Ranch. She’d evidently been remembering and rediscovering those years further.

The effort that P.H. Rex and his family took to transport their large upright oak piano from their Canyon Street home in Randolph to their ranch house on the Bear River each summer has fascinated me ever since Aunt Winnie first told me of it.

At the beginning of each haying season (sometimes as early as April through September) the family moved. In addition to bedding, clothing, and necessary household items, they took their piano with them. Aunt Winnie described how Grandpa would pull his horse driven wagon up beside the front porch. They would lay planks from the porch to the wagon bed, and with the help of other men, slide the piano into the wagon. It was tied down and secured near the front of the wagon, behind the driver’s seat.

She recalled wanting to sit in the seat nearest the piano, so she could keep a hand on it in case the piano began to slide [smile].

She added the detail that the bridge built over the Bear River in her youth would never support the piano loaded wagon and team pulling it. Her father drove his team through the river to cross over. He would carefully follow the curve of the river until he found the perfect spot, and only then turn the team into the river. When they returned to the town after each season, they repeated the exercise. The years the Bear River flooded, like this year, P. H. used careful timing.

Aunt Winnie is the last of my parent’s generation to pass away.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Groesbecks encountered buffalo on their 1856 trek to Utah.

The account of Nicholas and Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck’s trip from St. Louis, Illinois to the Salt Lake Valley is continued from here.

After securing the release of their son Nicholas Harmon from prison, Nicholas and Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck and family began their journey to Utah on June 3, 1856. They spent a few days with relatives in Schuyler County, Illinois on their way to the old Winter Quarters of Florence, about six miles above Omaha on the Missouri River, where Nicholas had sent all of his wagons and cattle. Their children, who traveled with them, were Nicholas Harmon, 14-years old, William, 12-years old, seven-year-old John Amberson, Helen Melvina (Mellie), four years old, and three-year-old Hyrum.

Their trek wasn’t without its share of blessings and disasters. Twenty days after their group left Florence they had to make a dry camp. That entailed digging wells to obtain enough water for culinary purposes. Their efforts provided very little water for their stock. The following morning as they started out, two of their teams became unmanageable and ran away. An eight- or nine-year old boy in one of the wagons attempted to jump from the front of the wagon, slipping. He fell in front of the wheels and was killed.

One night they camped by a shallow stream-let. A heavy rain fall during the night to the north turned the stream into a raging torrent of water six to eight feet deep. All were spared, however, they were required to continue camp until that night when the waters receded enough for them to cross over. When it rained again the next night raising the waters five or six feet, they considered themselves fortunate for they had camped on the south side of the river. They continued their journey, and camped on the south side of the next river. Unexpected deep stream waters weren’t cause for further delaying the Groesbecks’ journey.

The caravan saw their first buffalo on July 27 and some of the men took their guns and went out killing two or three. They brought in the first meat they’d had for some time which everyone enjoyed. The following morning, soon after they began their travel, they came upon some sand hills that were literally covered with buffalo. Two of their horses became frightened and ran into the midst of them. In the course of recovering the horses they came to the top of the hills and looked down on the valley below where, “we there saw the sight of our lives, for as far as the eye could see west, north and south it was a heavy mass of galloping buffalo.”

As the train proceeded they sent some men ahead shooting blank cartridges to scare the buffalo out of their way, and they traveled that way for a couple of hours. A row of buffalo traveling two abreast from the north then broke through their train separating the travelers. And it was with great difficulty they were eventually reunited. They traveled until reaching a bend in the Platte river where they stopped to camp for the night, turning their horses and cattle into the bend, and guarding the north side so their stock could not get our during the night, and the buffalo could not get it.

“It was a terrible night for all concerned for we were surrounded by those wild animals whose bellowing was like the roaring of the ocean.”

The following morning the company captains agreed to lay over a day to get some buffalo meat and jerk and dry it. During the day there was an accident that took the life of one of the Groesbeck teamsters. Solomon Hall was shot through the thigh, severing an artery, and causing him to bleed to death. They “buried him that evening in a very deep grave to keep the wolves from scratching him up.”

Four-year-old Mellie forever remembered her encounter with the buffalo, and for the rest of her life she recalled and retold the story of running into buffalo on her way to Utah.

They continued their travel for another ten days without incident, until they came upon a village of about three thousand Sioux and Cheyenne Indians who demanded a toll of provisions from the company. Through the course of a few days they experienced fear, they shared provisions, exchanged services, traded some and continued on their journey peacefully.

After they arrived west of Fort Laramie, Wyoming, their company split into five companies, each going on by itself. They crossed the Platte River--twice--and on September 4th they were in a great alkali bed where they gathered enough crude soda to last for years.

The day they camped east of Independence Rock, was the warmest they’d experienced on the road. The next morning they woke to six inches of snow on the ground and about “thirty head of oxen had been chilled to death. Fortunately there were some Indian traders there who sold us what cattle we wanted at a very reasonable price.

Notes: From Nicholas Harmon Groesbeck’s August 1916 autobiography. The copy in my possession is from cousin Karen M. Information about the John Banks Company may be seen here.

Thank you to cousin Nancy for the picture of "Brigham Young's Arrow." She took it three weeks ago about thirty miles east of Evanston, Wyoming, when she revisited the site where she'd walked on Pioneer Trek fourteen years earlier. She said there isn't a marker at the site. The rock arrow is fenced, and when she was on trek she was told this is the arrow President Young left, pointing the way for those who followed him. I assume the Groesbecks passed by that way also.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

1942 letter from Percy Harold Rex to his descendants. Pt 3

(Continued from here.)

(page 5) We named her Flora Elizabeth Rex after one of her Auntys. Now she is just blooming into young women-hood and I hope she grows into a loveable woman such as her Mother and sisters.

In October of 1929 I was again called into the Bishopric of this ward to be the First counselor to Bishop Lawrence B. Johnson and served for a little over 10 years.

Your Grandmother was very active in church duties singing in the choir in the Y.M.I.A. both in the stake and ward and in the last years of her life she taught in the Relief Society with her very dear Friend Sister Vera H. Peart.

In the cold Bleak days of Nov. 1938 Our Father in heaven saw fit to call your angel Grand Mother home to him and while writing this My eyes fill with tears and hope and pray that when our time comes we will all be as well prepared to meet our Maker as

(page6) she was. She was so sweet Loveable self-sacrificing and such a noble and grand Mate. May we all meet her sometime I pray.

In Aug. 1941 the 25th day I married Mary E. Herbert in the Salt Lake Temple for time and eternity and she is doing a wonderful job in filling the space that was made by the death of your Grandmother.

I may not be here when this is opened or Aunt Mary either but if she is and I am not will you all please be kind to her in her last years.
I pray that you will all live lives worthy of a kingdom in our Fathers Mansion when you have finished your labors here on earth.

Signed, Percy Harold Rex

Flora Groesbeck Morgan posts are here and here.

From Granddaughter Susan Frazier’s Journal: January 12, 1979. Aunt Mary died tonight. I was glad I was there with Richard [Lamborn]. Even though she might not have known we were there—she might someday. I was praying so hard for the Lord to take her home, and for Grandpa to come get her. I told her a few days before it wouldn’t be long before she would see her parents and brothers and sisters and grandpa and be out of pain. I told her it had been 2 years since she had seen “P.H.” and she said, “Oh no it hasn’t, I saw him the other night.” I cried after because I really will miss her.

The picture is from Helen Rex Frazier’s collection. Notice Maeser’s hand hanging onto his father’s—which may have been steadying Maeser for the picture. Remember part 2 of Percy Harold’s letter; “Now he is like a young Robin that thinks he can fly.” This picture was probably taken about 1939. Flora is wearing a Spring dress, and they must be outside at Randolph; L-R back row, Morgan, Harold, Winnie, Percy Harold (P.H.), in front Flora, Maeser.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

1942 letter from Percy Harold Rex to his descendants. Pt 2

(Continued from here.)

(page 3) to the bottom of the ocean with a great loss of lives.

Your Uncle John H. Morgan served in the war as had Both of your great grandfathers did in the Civil War: your grand uncle John Morgan Rex is doing at Present or has given his life for his country so you see he is the third generation to fight for this flag and country of ours.

I had to register then as I have done now and my number was called out but did not have to go.
On April 23-1918 we had another cup of Joy added to our home in the form of another little girl and we called her Winnifred after a very dear neighbor girl that lived next to Grandmother Morgan on 359 Bryan Ave. Salt Lake City, Utah.

June 1920 we moved to the Home we now live in on Canyon street Just west of Main Street.
In February of 1918 I was called to

(page 4) be second counselor to /Bishop Geo. A. Peart Jr. of the Randolph Ward and served for about Six years.

On December 28-1920 our home was again filled with the Joy of a fine big baby boy and we named him John Morgan Rex, the Hero in our eyes today he grew to be a noble and loveable son.

We went to Oakland, Calif. Last Nov. and spent Thanksgiving with him and Helen Frazier and said Farewell to him at Hamilton Field, as he was assigned to foreign duty.

On May 9-1924 we had another young man come to make his home with us and we named him Maeser Morgan Rex. Now he is like a young Robin that thinks he can fly and is preparing to go to Washington D.C. to meet his big Brother Harold who is there going to school and making a home for his family.

Six years later on April 7-1930 our family was increased again by the coming of a sweet little daughter. She surly had a welcome reception as her mother use to say that she would have a daughter to help for a long time.

(To be continued.)
Picture of the corner of Main and Canyon Streets, Randolph, Utah, August, 2011.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

1942 letter from Percy Harold Rex to his descendants. Pt 1

(The following links will be added after they are posted.)
In 1942 some citizens of Randolph, Utah decided to write letters to their descendants and place them in a “time capsule” to be opened fifty years later. I can’t remember just where the “time capsule” was deposited, but it seems like it may have been on a shelf, or in a closet in the city hall, or ward house. A few years short of the fifty years the “capsule” was discovered and opened. Many interesting items were in it.
This letter from Percy Harold Rex to his descendants was among the papers, and a copy made its way to me. I honestly cannot remember how. I believe it may have come via Aunt Flora Rex Lamborn, because my mother, Helen Rex Frazier, passed away in 1982.
Thank you to my granddaughter for typing part of it for me while she visited this past conference weekend. I added a few notes and some punctuation to make it easier to read.

Randolph Utah
May 26 1942
To John Morgan Rex, My first Grandchild, and those who come in the Future.

I was born here on Sept. 30, 1889 and lived here all my life. In June of 1911 your great Uncle John Osland and myself went to Salt Lake City to June conference or Mutual Improvement associations. And while there I met one of the sweet[est] and grandest persons that I had met in my life, your grand Mother Bessie Morgan. We courted for a year and on June 12-1912 we 
were married in the Salt Lake Temple for time and all eternity.

We made our home on the ranch that your Uncle Sam Rex now has and spent nearly all of the first two years of our married life there. And how happy we were together because no one will ever have a sweeter wife than I had at that time.

On March 31-1913 our joys and

(page 2) and happiness was added to greatly so we had a sweet little Black headed daughter come to our home and we named her Helen and today she still has that sweet Loveable nature that she was born with.

She expects to become a mother in the next few months and I hope that her joys will be as great as ours was.

We were getting along just Grand and on July 24-1915, Pioneer day at 4-30 A.M. a little boy appeared in our home to add more happiness to our little nest that was one half block east of Main Street on Canyon Street. And we named him Harold Morgan Rex.

He grew quite fast and when he was four years old he had a saddle and horse we called Nell and was following his father almost ever where he went.

I had a ranch at that time 3 ½ miles S.E. of Randolph with a number of cattle and he would help me with them as he grew up.

In April of 1917 our good old U.S.A. declared War on Germany as one of her U. Boats had sent one of our ships

(To be continued.)
Picture of the Randolph Ward taken February, 2011.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck. April 11, 1883.

Guest Post by Karen Matthews

The Dress made for a Wedding

Elizabeth was very fastidious about her clothes and wore clothing that was distinctive. It was at Emigration Square that she met Mary Hansen. Mary was an excellent dressmaker who made many of the dresses for Elizabeth. One particular dress was made for the wedding of Priscilla Paul Jennings and William W. Riter, which took place April 11, 1883. Elizabeth and daughter, Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan, assisted Mary Hansen in its completion.

The material was mainly heavy black satin over a foundation of heavy black lining. It was a two-piece costume, with a caught-up bustle effect at the back of the short train skirt. The skirt was decked with two draped flounces of satin trimmed in black velvet, and edged with jet bead and chenille fringe. The back of the skirt was draped and caught into the side seams to give a tucked draped picture across the back. There was a short train which was lined with black lining laid into wide box pleats to hold the velvet train away from the feet and the floor.

The jacket was made with a shirred V-shape vest which extends to the waistline. It was edged with wide black lace. Open reverse of the jacket below the waistline was trimmed with a facing of black velvet. It was also edged with black lace around the bottom of the jacket.

The velvet was purchased by Nicholas Groesbeck while in England. He paid $25.00 a yard for it. As Elizabeth always wore a watch and chain, there was a small velvet pocket placed at the left front side on the waistline for this purpose.

It was a custom with Elizabeth to wear lace caps as so many women of her day did. With this dress she used a black one. It was made of the same lace as trimmed the dress. It had back ruffles which came down over the back of the neck. Between these ruffles she always wore a few dainty flowers.

B. H. Roberts said of Elizabeth, “She was a quiet, calm, dignified, splendid pioneer queen—no less!”

Thank you cousin Karen for your wonderful account.

Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck

Helen Melvina "Mellie" Groesbeck Morgan

John Hamilton Morgan

John Morgan would have missed this wedding because on April 1, 1883 he arrived Pueblo, Colorado with Southern States' Emigrants. And On April 10 he recorded, “assisted to plant some walnuts around my lot”

April 13, 1883 he was traveling home to Salt Lake, "Slept all night soundly and had late breakfast at Pleasant Valley Junction. Arrived at home at 2:30 p.m. and found all well."

John Hamilton Morgan Journal, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.