Tuesday, October 30, 2012

1914-1919 World War I. Helen Melvina "Mellie" Groesbeck Morgan worked with the Red Cross.

Someone must have said, 
“Oh, Mother, you look so nice in your uniform, let me take a picture.”

Cousin Karen M. asked me some time ago if I’d like a picture she had of Great Grandmother Helen Melvina Morgan wearing her Red Cross Volunteer uniform.  At the time I wasn't interested. As I have pieced her life together, I now understand where it fits. Her granddaughter Helen Rex Frazier recalled those years in her autobiography.

Helen wrote, “World War I was being fought in Europe at this time. Grandma Morgan [Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan] came from Salt Lake to visit [Randolph, Utah]. I remember watching her knit socks and scarves for the Red Cross and watching her and mother save the pits from peaches for use in making gas (I believe). They let Harold and I arrange them in dripper pans as they put them out to dry."  [Helen and Harold were 5 and 3 in 1918.]

Peach pits were used during World War I as filter for their gas masks. They would soak them in urine and make a special charcoal out of them that was used for the mask. World War I years were 1914-1919. Peach pits would have been available at canning time from August-September.

Presumably Helen Melvina “Mellie” Morgan was a part of the American Red Cross.

During an extremely active era beginning in 1917, the Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross saw the creation of several essential services. Home Service, the forerunner of our current Armed Forces Emergency Services, helped families cope with the problems associated with having a loved one in the military. Classes in First Aid and Home Nursing were begun and Canteen Service was started up to assist with wartime needs. The local Red Cross provided nursing services throughout the state during the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918.

During World War I, 2,000 Utah Red Cross volunteers shipped bandages to the frontlines and clothing to impoverished Belgian families.

In 1918 Grandmother Morgan’s son John Hamilton was training in the armed forces as the letter he wrote his mother that appeared in a Salt Lake Newspaper and posted here attests.

I was moved by the realization that in the course of writing her autobiography, three years prior to her passing, Helen recalled her Grandmother Morgan’s visit to Randolph, and that her mother Bessie joined with her mother’s “war efforts.” 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Helen Rex's 1937 trip to Los Angeles. Concluded.

 “Anyway I think I was pretty brave.”

You most certainly were brave Mother--you traveled alone on a bus from Randolph to Los Angeles in 1937. That’s pretty brave in this daughter’s eyes. And then you found yourself a nice hotel apartment in downtown Los Angeles to live in during your stay.

Apr 4 1937 letter from Helen to her brother Harold in Brazil, describing her trip to Los Angeles to visit Glenn Frazier.

Friday we went to Santa Monica, Ella, Mrs. Eastman, Glenn and I. We had lots of fun. We had our lunch in the nicest café. From the window where we sat we could look right out over the ocean, and we had fish. We saw Betty Davies Home there. It is right on the ocean shore. There is a boulevard goes right around the coast line. We drove around it and saw some of the most beautiful views of the ocean. Then we came out in Beverley Hills and saw Will Rodger’s Polo field and ranch. I can’t explain it to you, you really have to see it all. We will go someday together I hope.

I forgot to tell you, Thursday night, we went to the Palomar dance hall. It is hardly as large as Cocoa Nut Grove in Salt Lake, but more elaborately decorated. Ted Fio Reto’s Orchestra was there. We dance up close to the orchestra pit and watched him p[lay the piano. That was sort of a thrill.

Something else.  I saw Mary Pickford on the porch of her home, and we were driving home Friday night and saw Errol Flynn. Were we excited? Oh, no. Ela, Glenn and I all said at once. “That is Errol Flynn.” I don’t remember whether he was very popular when you left, but he has made some good shows. On Friday night we went to a theatre in Hollywood and saw Romeo and Juliet. It is wonderful. Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard play in it. I hope you can see it someday. This theatre is a Chinese theatre, and in the cement walk in front of it, are the hand marks and feet marks of the movie stars. Janet Gaynor’s Bill Hart’s, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and lots of others. It is quite the thing.

Saturday we went to Exposition Park. The Los Angeles Colosseum is there, where the University of California and Southern California play football. It is simply huge, and that doesn’t explain it. Glenn says he is going to see a football game there next fall. Then there are buildings there with plants, minerals, and all kinds of things telling of the history of California. There is the skeleton of a huge elephant unearthed there someplace. It was all so very interesting, and we had to go through it in a hurry.

Sunday I checked out and started for home, it was awful. I left there at 6 p.m. and arrived home 11 p.m. Monday night. We crossed the desert in the night and with a full moon. It was a beautiful sight.

I also saw the sight where the Mormon Temple is to be built. It is near the University of Southern California. They purchased the land from Harold Lloyd Estate. It is in the beautiful part of the city. You see Hollywood, Beverely Hills and Westwood village are just suburbs of Los Angeles.

There were lots of other things I saw, but heavens I have written nearly three full pages, and I’ll bet while you have been reading this yarn you should have been studying, so must be stopping. The folks will be writing also.

When I came through Salt Lake, I saw Winnie. We had a stop of an hour and a half there. She is fine. She is the sweetest kid. Always has a smile on her face. I would liked to have stayed longer with her, but couldn’t. She is planning on coming home soon, so we will have a good visit. She is taking her vacation in August. Wish you were going to be home, so we could have a good family reunion. Maybe I won’t be home when you come back. If all goes well until fall for us, I think I’ll be making a new home. Glenn has done fairly well so far. There are so many strikes down there, it is rather a hard pull. When you come home, I hope these things are settled up. The place he is working at, has been under strike for two months. If it goes another month, and nothing more happens, then legally the strike is supposed to be over. He will then have a chance to work steady. It isn’t hardly what he wants, but it will be something to live on until he gets into a Diesel Company. It is with the Pacific Freight Lines, but they use Diesel trucks. He wants to work into a company where they sell the Diesel tractors, and all that.

We have been having some lovely rain storms here. Everything is nice and green. There was a dance last night, but didn’t go. I’m still recovering from last week.

Well old dear, We love you heaps and do miss you. Oh, say Willard Tingey has his release and will be home next month some time. One year from now, we can be saying it won’t be very long before Harold will be starting toward home.

Love & Kisses, Helen

Two years ago Winnie’s daughter wrote about her mother and posted here on her blog a lovely picture of Winnie. That is the girl Helen greeted on her trip home to Randolph.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Helen Rex's May 1937 trip to Los Angeles, California.

On April 4, 1937 Helen Rex wrote in a letter to Harold:  "Well it has been five months since I saw Glenn last. He should be on a mission. He is fine, working most of the time. Sometimes his letters are so cheerful and other times he gets down in the mouth, but such is life. A fellow from Mississippi is living with him, and he doesn’t even have any kind of work, so Glenn does feel pretty good about his luck."

On May 29, 1937 in a letter to her brother Harold, Helen Rex wrote the following account of her trip to Los Angeles, California to see Glenn Frazier.

A week ago at this time I was in California. Now it is all memories. I was going to write from down there, but didn’t get it done. Anyway now I can tell you all about it. We surely had a grand time. I mean Glenn and I. He had to work some of the time, but got a couple of days off. I got down there the night of the 15th. Went on the bus and it was twenty minutes late. Glenn said he had nearly worn the corner off the street.

The first day I was there we went to the Forest Lawn Memorial Park. It is a beautiful burial grounds. There is some of the most beautiful sculpture work in there I have ever seen. There are two little churches there too, that are beautiful. Will Rodger’s funeral was held in one of them. Lots of the society of Los Angeles get married there.  Jannette McDonald is going to be married there in June. We took a lot of good pictures there.

The next day Helen went down town herself. I got me a hotel apartment to live in. It was surely nice and just as reasonable in price as a hotel in the center of town. I was only about three blocks from where Glenn lived. The center of Los Angeles is Broadway. On the corner of Broadway andSeventh Street is supposed to be the busiest corner in the world. The people are so thick there, that you can’t walk without rubbing shoulders, and the street is so narrow. Just barely enough room for two car tracks and two lanes for automobiles, beside the side walk. On one corner is one of Los Angeles largest theatres, Bullock’s store on another, the Bank of America on the third, and on the fourth the Hamilton Jewelry store. The Bullock department store is just immense. It takes in just one-half of the block on Broadway and one-half of the block on Seventh.
Then on Tuesday, Glenn’s cousin Ella and his Aunt Maude Eastman, (re-member her) took me to Hollywood and out to see the movie star’s homes. I got pictures of Mary Pickford’s home, Ronald Coleman’s Fred Astaire’s, Charley Chaplain’s and the estate of Gene Stratton Porter. I had some of the others pointed out to me, but couldn’t take their picture, because they were so far away. We went way up on the mountain and looked down on the city, it is a beautiful sight.

Wednesday we went to Long Beach. There I got my first sight of the ocean. I was surely thrilled. Water, water and more water, but I guess you know what that is. However, I’m not as good a sailor as you my dear. I was on the water about 5 hours and got sea sick. Maybe it wasn’t seas sick, but I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand up. We went out to a big ship had dinner and danced. It was anchored about 9-1/2 miles out. They had a big room where they gambled. Oh, I never saw so much money in all my life. You know those big wheels they whirl and every game you could think of. There were just piles and piles of silver dollars. Glenn & I kept our money in our pocket. Daddy called me tight, but I am a poor looser.

Thursday I went down town again. Glenn laughed at me, because I said I stayed on Broadway between Fifth Street and Ninth streets. My directions weren’t so good and I didn’t want to get too far from where I caught my car. Anyway I think I was pretty brave. There were enough stores between those streets for a person to go window shopping all day. There is a big furniture store called the Eastern. Glenn’s cousin Roy Eastman works there and June Tingey’s uncle. It is in a building 14 stories high. Every floor is filled with furniture. The window decorations were just beautiful. The Bus depot is on main street, Right next to it is one of the largest hotels in L.A., the Rosslyn, but other than that Main street is an awful place. Lots of foreigners down there.

Helen's account of her trip to Los Angeles to be continued.

A picture of Maud Eastman is at the bottom on this post.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Bessie Morgan Rex - 1937 Spring undated letters.

Glenn and Helen Rex Frazier, probably 1936
when she visited him in Los Angeles, California.
My dear boy,
It is Sunday evening. Helen & Daddy have been to Mutual & now Helen says we must all write a letter. I have been very negligent, haven’t I? Have been enjoying rather poor health, but am feeling better now.
Morg sits here with a book on aviation trying to show me a new type of machine with the stabilizer on the top of the rudder—get it? Well, you should be around here for awhile.
We were delighted to get your airmail letter, & so delighted to know you were transferred to Joinville. It is surely a pleasure to know you are so pleased &; we surely feel repaid when we know you are making progress. The weather has been delightful. It is warm & sunshiny during the day. The snow is melting ; blackbirds—they fill the trees.

The ward held a reunion last Wed. Everybody had a very nice time, I think. The hall is so grand. Bishop & Sis. Oluf Larson were up. Now, my dear boy, he has sent you 10$ & you have not written to thank him. Please do so right away. Their address is
216 D St., Salt Lake. They are both very much interested in you. Grace Norris told me to be sure & remember her to you. Every body of course asks about you.
Oh Helen says to tell you she & Glenn haven’t any day set yet. They have a hard time trying to get married but we must all have patience with them.
My dearie, it is morning & Helen has her letter all ready. My, I’m slow. It is cold & foggy this morning, but I think we are going to have an early Spring. You haven’t told us whether you got your garments. I can’t understand your not getting but two letters a month. I very seldom miss a week.
One year has gone. It seems an age since you left. These missionaries are in the home now. Will get those shirts to you if we can get hold of a missionary for Brazil.

Must close & get this off. Be a good boy, study hard & get all you can from your mission. That is your part my dear boy & may the Lord be with you to inspire you. Lovingly Mother.
My dear boy,
Well if I cant do any better, I shall use a pencil on type paper & sit in front of the stove. You didn’t get a letter last week, did you dearie, but really, I was sick all last week. Helen was studying to give a story at conference last night. Daddy has a new job. He is on the soil conservation committee. Everybody is so busy around here. Helen has to go to Coalville tomorrow to take an examination. Is she excited. She better get married.

We haven’t had a letter for two weeks, but if you haven’t been getting our letters, well I don’t blame you, but really dearie, this last week I believe is about the second time I have missed writing.
Yesterday was conference, and Br. & Sis Burdett were here for dinner. We had a lovely time. Then after church Clara & Afton came up to see me. You see, they held meeting in the new amusement hall & the seats aren’t comfortable, so I thot I better not go. I feel much better today though. Clara is a lovely girl, & we are all glad you got a letter to her. She seemed very much pleased too. Bro. Jos. T. Merrill was here for conference & everybody enjoyed him so much.

Evanston is crazy about our new hall. It is surely grand. Did they tell you the basketball tournament. [?] Helen says yes.
Morgan is--what would you say, girl struck—or maybe it is the girl

[illegible]  Woodruff has asked him to go to a party with her. Does that boy get razzed? He pleaded with me not to tell Maeser.
I suppose you got the news of the terrible explosion in Texas. 425 children killed in an explosion. Bro. Merrill told the people yesterday to not expect better.  It wasn’t common.

I am to give a book report tomorrow in Relief Society & I have had to study. My ambition is at a low ebb.
Don’t you get the Des. News or Sat. News. I thot they sent it out to the missions. Let me know & we will try to get something down to you.

I am so glad you are at Joinville. I worried about you at Blumenau.
Next morning. I see the family has been writing. It has snowed several inches during the night. Not a very good day for Helen to go to Coalville.

Well, my dear I must close. I wonder if you will have a strong German accent when you come home. You are having wonderful opportunities. Make the most of them. I know the Lord is helping and it is just for us to do our part.
Love & kisses my dear from all of us & I should certainly love to give you an big hug. Time is going tho; isn’t it;

Lovingly, Mother.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Brothers Double Blessing, August 9, 1894.

September 6, 2012 I visited the Church History Library in Salt Lake City to look at the Fourteenth Ward’s original membership records. I determined that if I could locate a blessing record for Mellie Groesbeck and John Hamilton Morgan’s youngest son I would be able to prove or dispel the notion that the baby’s name had been changed following his father’s untimely August 14, 1894 passing.
I had only a few hours to spend downtown so I went to the desk in the library and submitted my request for the microfilm of the earliest 14th ward membership records. I was disappointed to learn that the microfilm was in use by another patron that day, and I wouldn’t be able to use it. The librarian suggested that was most unusual, and if I searched through the catalog further I might find something else I’d like to use. There was a book version of the very record I wanted, so I asked for that. The librarian apologetically explained that the book wasn’t available for patron use. I suggested that since the microfilm was in use, and the pockets of time that I can get to the library are few and far between, perhaps the “powers that be” would permit me to use the book this one time. And they did! What a thrill!
The original Fourteenth Ward Record Book was delivered to my table in the reading room. The large 18 x 14 black leather volume took up the entire table when it was opened. Gold leafed lettering in the center of the cover read
Nineteen beautifully penned Morgan names were written in the index-- I found what I was looking for. Each numbered member’s name is followed by their parent’s name and birth and blessing dates.
# 858, Morgan, John Hamilton
John Morgan, Helen Groesbeck
7 Feb 1894, Salt Lake City
 blessed on  Aug 9, 1894 by M. F. Cowley
# 859, Morgan, M. [Mathias] Cowley
John Morgan, Mary Ann Linton
24 Jan 1894, Salt Lake City
blessed on Aug 9, 1894 by M. F. Cowley
These entries answered more questions than I’d asked. And they raised quite a few additional ones.
Both of John Morgan’s sons were blessed by Matthias Cowley on the same day, five days prior to their father’s August 14, 1894 passing.
John Hamilton Morgan Jr.’s name was NOT changed following his father’s death. I wonder what he’d been called before he was blessed and given the name John Hamilton Morgan.
Were the babies blessed in Preston, Idaho?
Family history tells us Grandmother Mellie sent her ailing husband to Preston, Idaho to recover from his illness. She must have hoped that away from the city he would have had a better chance for recovery, his wife Mary Ann would watch over him.
At some point Mellie traveled to Preston to be with her husband, only to return to Salt Lake when she received word her own baby at home had become very ill.
The train trip between Salt Lake and Preston was routine, and the trip was familiar to the Morgans. The train for Preston departed Salt Lake City daily at 5 p.m., and arrived Preston at 11:30 p.m.  The return train to Salt Lake left the following morning at 5:30 a.m. On John Morgan’s normal visits to Preston he would remain there the second day--his journal entry usually read something like, “Read and quiet today. George C. Parkinson [a community leader] called.” The next morning John Morgan would depart Preston on the 5:30 a.m. train, and arrive home in Salt Lake at 11:00 a.m.

 John Hamilton Morgan, Jr.
born February 7, 1894
Mathias Cowley Morgan
born January 24, 1894
You will find further information about these children at The Ancestor Files:

Where did John Hamilton Morgan die -- Preston, Idaho home.
And a Story of Mary Ann Linton’s cure for baby John on this blog.

Pictures of John Morgan's sons are from Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, used with permission.