A BRIEF SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF
ROBERT JOHN WHIPPLE 1869-1954
WRITTEN IN 1933
I was born November 13, 1869 in one of the best adobe houses in Salt Lake City at that time – 564 West Third North Street. I was the sixth child of a family of nine children, the son of Nelson Wheeler Whipple and Susan Ann Gay. My father was fifty one years old when I was born and my mother was twenty seven.
Father was a pioneer saw mill man, and he had a number of saw mills at different times and places. He had one at North Mill Creek soon after he came to the Valley, as they called Great Salt Lake Valley at that time; sometime after, one at Mountain Dell in Parleys Canyon; another in South Mill Creek; and a number in Big Cottonwood Canyon where he made most of the first shingles for the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
When I was four years old I went with the rest of the family to Mill "H" in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The mills in this canyon were called by letters. I remember well a number of incidents of that move. Mill "H" was located about four miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon. It was a water power mill that was called an "under shot wheel." The farmers located in the valley close to the canyon would come to the mill for lumber. A great number of them would get logs for Father and take a share of the lumber made from them. They would stay in cabins furnished by Father.
At that time Father had a team of horses and a yoke of oxen; we also had milk cows. My first job, that I can remember, was to drive the cows to and from feeding places located in the surrounding flats and along the creeks. At that time the canyon was very wild and we (my Brother Alex and I) would often have trouble finding the cows on account of the bears, lions, and other animals frightening them. At that time there was a number of Negro farmers near the mouth of the canyon. We would often have a number of them getting out logs for a share of the lumber made from them.
My mother and the girls lived in a three room lumber house. The men and boys slept in a bunk house, as they called it. A bunk is a bed made of lumber with straw or hay in the bottom to spread the quilts or buffalo robes, as they called the skins of the buffalo tanned with the hair on. They were very good for a bed or to keep you warm when traveling. Our great trouble with the bunk houses was to keep them free from bed bugs.
Some of the logs were hauled with ox teams. The oxen were very apt in getting the logs out of the timber, much more so than horses. There were a lot of brook trout in the streams; I began catching them when about six years old. Blue Grouse were very plentiful in the mountains at that time. Rattlesnakes were also common. I used to kill them close to the house, and sometimes we would find one where it could not get away from us, and we would poke sticks at them, and they would strike the stick with their teeth, and we would throw them around in this manner.
We lived at Mill "H" in the summer time until I was nine years old. We would move to our Salt Lake home sometime in November and move to the mill in May the next spring. During the summer I attended school, first at a private home. The teacher was a man about sixty years of age. This was a very crude school. All that I remember of that school was the "A,B,C's", as we called the lessons that we had.
At nine years of age I went with my father and brothers, Alex and Gay, to another mill site about nine miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon. We made a dam across the main stream of the creek. We made a ditch about six feet wide around the side of the canyon about three hundred feet long, and made a flume with a chute at the end to take the water to the water wheel. We moved the mill from the old site and began to make lumber and shingles that summer, 1878. We built a house on a flat at the mouth of Butler Fork. It was two rooms, made of rough lumber with three layers of boards for a roof. Later we built another house across the creek from the mill. Mother never came to this mill to live, but would come and stay a few days at a time. We cooked our own meals most of the time, and Brother Alex was the official cook. Our food consisted of baking powder, bread, salt, bacon, potatoes, beans, onions, and whatever the teamsters could get at the stores in the valley. We had trout almost every day and blue grouse in the late summer, but we had very little milk, butter, or beef. We gathered quite a lot of wild berries--service berries, raspberries, and currants– that grew wild in the canyon. We bought most of our supplies from Brinton's Store in Holladay on the Hiland Drive. It was called the County Road at that time.
Gay left us the first summer that we were at this mill, and Alex and I sawed the lumber and shingles while Father stacked them and looked after the business. We were quite young to do such responsible work but, of course, Father directed us in all that we did. We would saw from one to two thousand feet of lumber per day, or three thousand shingles. One of us would act as head sawyer (that is run the machinery) for one log and change about. The tail saws would carry the lumber and slabs and slide them through the window to be carried away to the piles. We had the loggers the same as at the other mill.
We boys would spend most of our evening playing cards or checkers with the men. I became quite an expert at checkers. At that time there were a lot of mines working in the canyon, and there were wagons passing our place day and night. The roads were very rough and the broken wagons were scattered all along the canyon.
We aimed to go to our Salt Lake City home before the snow blocked the road, usually in the forepart of November. This year we had everything packed to load on the wagon that was to take us out. The evening before we were to leave, we played cards until late, and when the men tried to open the door, which opened outward, the snow was so deep that it took all of us to push the door open. The next morning the road was blocked with snow, and the teams could not get to our place. We had to wait for the snow to melt, but instead of melting it snowed more. The snow was over three feet deep and our only hope to get out now was to wait until the snow became crusted on top strong enough to hold us. We stayed three weeks before we dared try to go. We had but little food. The last week we only had flour and spoiled bacon that had hung on the outside of our cabin all summer. It was so bad that it could not be eaten. We also had some carrots but we nearly starved on that fare. We tried to make our way to a pine grove about a mile up over a ridge but after breaking trail for about four hours we came to a drift of snow that was twelve feet deep, so we had to give up the idea of getting blue grouse to eat. The blue grouse lived in the trees in the winter. Finally we decided that we would have to try and make our way out. The snow was crusted quite hard on top. We each took a pack on our backs of the things that we had to have most. We took bedding as we would have to stay at the old mill over night. We could walk on the snow as long as we kept on the road but in places we could not tell where the road was. When we would step on the snow over some small bush that was covered with snow, we would break through, and I would go down almost out of sight. We only went four miles that day and camped at the old mill. As I remember it, we only had bread made of flour without baking powder or salt. We slept on the floor of the house. Our bed consisted of the few quilts that we carried on our backs from the new mill. We had a good rest after our hard day. For the past three weeks, l had been dreaming every night of home and Mother. I was only ten years of age at that time, and my brother Anor was a babe of two or three months when we left home. I was very homesick. (When you have it as bad as I did, you are sick in body as well as in mind.)
In the morning Alex and I started to walk home and Father went back to the mill to stay until the road was opened up. There was very little snow at the old mill site. We were about sixteen miles from home; we walked nearly all the way. We had a little money so we bought some crackers and cheese at the first store that we came to, and we had a real feast. We walked along the country road, now Hiland Drive. We passed through Sugar House; the old mill was about all there was there at that time. There was a creek in a deep hollow where Twenty first South intersects with Tenth East. A man with a new wagon came along and gave us a ride to within three blocks of home. We ran the rest of the way home. When we went in the house, we found our mother sitting by the stove with baby Anor on her lap, sick. Mother looked at us, and the tears streamed down her cheeks. I suppose we looked quite rough and unkempt.
The next morning when I awoke, l thought that it was another dream. The nice bed, the white walls, and the things that go to make a woman-kept bedroom, was what I had seen in my dreams so many times. At this time I first started to go to school in a home, as I have related above, and then in a school house built by the city, I suppose. It was located on the corner of Fourth North and Second West, facing northeast. I attended school here during the winter months and went to the mill in the summer. By not getting started to school until about two months after the rest of the pupils, it was hard for me to get started or to catch up with the class, and I had some trouble with the teachers. They were not trained teachers as is required today. I played hookey quite often when I had trouble with the teachers. My Father paid for my schooling, as long as I attended, until I was just past thirteen years old.
One spring, to get up the canyon, we had to carry our things over two snow slides and even had to carry our wagon by taking it apart. The evening of the day that we arrived at the mill, Alex and I went down to the closest slide, which filled the canyon right over the creek. While we were there, we saw the snow drop into the creek and make a dam. As the water was very high, there was a small lake in a few minutes. (Just where the Arjenta Reservoir site is.) Father came and told us that our foot bridge was washed out and our bedding and supplies were on the other side of the creek. It was nearly dark so we were in a bad fix, as there was not a bridge for more than a mile up or down the canyon, and no trail on the other side of the creek. Alex said he knew where there was a tree that he could fall across the creek to make a bridge. By the time we got to the tree it was dark. We made a fire and felled the tree. It was a very narrow place in the creek and the tree reached across; however, the limbs hung down into the water and rocked the tree so that we had to crawl across hanging to the limbs as we went. We repaired the bridge the next day and all was well.
I will tell the story of the experiences of John Gay, my mother's brother: He and a number of others with their teams got caught in the snow. They broke the road as far as they could, which was about three miles above Mill "A", the nearest place to them. They had about thirty teams of horses and mules, and they were out of food for the teams. The men decided to play cards to see who would try and wade the creek to Mill "A" to get help. The lot fell on John Gay and a Negro, so they started in the morning to wade the creek. It was a very risky job as the creek ran over some very rough country and some quite high falls. They had not gone far before their clothes were wet through. Even the matches which they had placed in their hat for safety had gotten wet. When they had made it a little over half way to the mill, the Negro gave up. He persuaded Mr. Gay to go on and try to save himself and the others. After trying to make a fire and trying to help the Negro, he decided to try to make the mill. It was dark before he arrived by the mill race, which was some distance from the creek.
There was a lone woman in the mill cabin-- the men had gone to another cabin. The woman heard him call a number of times. Finally she went to the other cabin and told the men what she heard, and that they would not believe her. Finally they went down towards the stream where she said the call came from, and found Mr. Gay almost dead from cold and exposure. In that way the men and teams were all saved. They could not find the Negro the next day, but with the help of a number of men they got all the men and teams out. The flat where the Negro was, was called Dean Negro Flat until after I left the canyon. The body of the Negro was never found.
At this time we had a little black horse that we turned out in the spring. He roamed over the hills all alone all summer and became very wild, but we managed to catch him for Alex to ride home for the twenty fourth of July, leaving me alone with Father.
We had a smart shot gun. (One of the first lot of guns given to the Indians by the government. It was about a 16 gauge. It was originally intended to shoot a round ball. It was loaded from the muzzle, and had a cap to explode the powder.) I knew how to shoot a gun but had never been hunting. Father told me to take the gun and hunt grouse. We had shot, made of sheets of lead cut in pieces about the size of wheat. We carried our powder in a cow horn pouch. We would use about a teaspoon full of powder and the same of shot and would tamp paper on top of the powder and also on the shot. I had not walked far on my first hunt before I saw a big blue rooster standing by a clump of willows. When I shot his head off it gave me a great thrill. I continued until I killed five grouse. That made me feel like a mighty hunter.
My sister, Sylvia, lived with us two summers and kept our house. She was a mother to us boys. We did the work of mature men by the time we were twelve years old. I am sure that the heavy lifting was not good for us. Father sold the mill to Bub Green in 1884, and we all worked for him that summer. He boarded us, and we ate our meals with his family. We surely had a lot of experiences that summer. It was a very rough family of six young kids, mostly red-headed and dirty. We had to scrap for our food. Bub Green had a flock of sheep in the canyon, and we lived mostly on mutton during that summer. I got so sick of it, that I could not stand to smell a sheep for years after.
In the spring of 1886 I accompanied my father on a trip to Salem and other places in Utah County. He made a two-wheeled cart for the little black horse to haul us around in. We left Salt Lake about April 24, and we went to Lehi the first day. The road was very bad and we had to walk part of the way. It was almost more than the horse could pull without us. We arrived in Lehi late in the afternoon and visited with brothers Edson and Gay. They were both married at that time. We stayed for the night with Climena Evans, wife of Bishop David Evans. She was my Father's niece. We then went to Provo, passing through American Fork and Pleasant Grove. Both towns were almost as large as they are now. I remember going over Provo Bench, but do not remember seeing any houses between Pleasant Grove and Provo. At Provo we visited with a number of relatives. My Father's sister Almyra Tiffany, wife of George Tiffany, lived here. She was very old and feeble. We stayed two days in Provo and then drove to Pond Town --now Salem-- and called on a number of my cousins of the Tiffany's. While there I went with a crowd of boys to a field to play ball. Two boys chose sides to make two teams. One of them looked at me and said, "We will take that fellow with the store clothes on." I had the first tailor-made clothes that I ever had. Most of the clothes worn by boys were made by their parents at that time.
In the spring of 1887, my father began to be troubled with bronchitis from which he died July 5, 1887. My mother was left with nine children– four married and five at home. My father was a very good man; honorable, honest, industrious, and fairly well educated for a man that had not attended school but six weeks. He kept a diary from his early manhood until a few days before he died. He also wrote a complete testimony of the divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was a kind and unselfish, jovial father, and he always enjoyed a good clean joke. He was deeply interested in current events, science, and discovery. He read some astronomy books and other scientific works.
After the death of Father, I never thought of going to school, as I felt that I had to help make a living. I worked for the Salt Lake Glass Company about one year, doing all the various work that goes to make glass bottles, except to blow the bottles. That was my first job after Father's death. When the glass factory closed, which was only two runs, or two winters, I went to work on a brick yard out near the Hot Springs. I worked at various parts of brick making. For three weeks I wheeled brick to the kiln which was very heavy work. I had nine partners in three weeks, and at the end of that time my feet were so sore that I had to quit the job. I crawled part of the way home the last day my feet were so sore.
I next decided that I would learn the carpenter trade. I met two contractors on Main Street one day and stopped them and asked for work. They wanted to know how much I knew about carpentering. I told them that they could be the judge, and that I would work for whatever they thought that I was worth. My first job was on the Grant Brothers Livery Stable on West Temple, near the center of the block between First and Second South streets in Salt Lake City. Just a few days after, I was given a plan for a house and told to go and start the building, and Mr. Hodson, the contractor, would send some men to help me. I had never seen a house plan before, but I went ahead and did the best I could. I made a lot of mistakes but the house was accepted.
I worked on the first State Fair Building, now the street car barns. I worked on a number of the big buildings on Main Street and also helped to build the Garfield Resort on Salt Lake. While working there I had an experience with a tight rope walker who had come to the place to walk on the rope, and pass his hat through the crowd to make a little money. He stretched the rope from the roof of the building that I was working on, and while he was passing his hat after making his show, I took his balance pole and walked out over the crowd. It was the first time that I had tried it, but it was not hard for one who had been used to climbing high buildings. I also helped to build the first Saltair Resort.
I came to Lehi in the fall of 1890, to work on the Sugar Mill as carpenter; I worked there until the following spring. I then went to work for James Gaddie building houses in Lehi and the surrounding country. While working with H. J. Stewart, a carpenter, I was joking him about a girl by the name of Victoria. (Neither of us had a sweetheart at that time.) While we were talking, a young girl about seventeen or eighteen years of age came along the street. I asked him who she was, and he told me that she was Susie Winn. I told him that he could have Victoria, and that Susie would do for me. The joke was that he married Victoria, and I married Susie.
I well remember the first dance that I attended in Lehi. It was held in what was then Garffe Hall on the second floor above a store. When we went in the band was playing a selection called "Johnny Get Your Gun." They were dancing a plain quadrille, but it struck me that they were all professional step dancers because they were making the floor ring with the stomp of their feet. One couple standing near the door exchanged gum by the boy biting the gum out of the girl's mouth. I thought at that time that they were all bad, but I soon learned that they were a very good people, and that they were free from sin as the people in Salt Lake City.
I married Susie Winn in the Salt Lake Temple June 24, 1896. We lived in her mother's home for about three weeks and then moved to a small house on Third North and Third West streets. The year before I was married, I worked on the Rio Grande Railroad building Stations and other buildings. After we were married, I worked around town and for the Sugar Company. We built a warehouse for sugar and also some flumes for the company beet sheds. Most of the work for the Sugar Company was contracts.
Our first baby was born on May 6, 1897. We did not have a doctor to take care of her, so we engaged a midwife, Martha Featherstone, who lived on American Fork Bench. When we decided that we had to have her help, I left my wife about 11:00 P. M., hired a horse and buggy from Hanse
Hammer, and went in search of Mrs. Featherstone. After waking up a number of farmers living in that neighborhood, I finally found her. It was about 2:00 A. M. when we arrived at my home. I expected to find that the baby was born when we went into the house, but she did not arrive until the following day.
In June, when Ora was about six weeks old, we went to Salt Lake City to attend the M. I. A. Jubilee. We walked up on Capitol Hill to see the fireworks, carrying the baby for about two hours. The next fall we moved to Mercur. I worked in the mines as carpenter that winter, 1897 & 98, and in the spring we moved back to Lehi and built a small two-room house. This house was built in mining camp style. I built it myself. We also had an artesian well driven.
About this time, I was asked to be a block teacher in the Lehi Ward. I did not feel capable of doing justice to this call, but I accepted the call and did the best I could. I served as a teacher in the Twenty Second Ward in Salt Lake City for a short time. I was also called to take charge of the Priest Quorum of the Lehi Ward, which I did for a number of years, under Bishop T. R. Cutler. I also had charge of the sacrament for three years. In about the year 1900, I was selected as counselor to G. A. Smith in the Y.M.M.I.A. of the ward. S. I. Goodwin was the other counselor. I enjoyed this work very much.
We lived in our little house about three years. By this time we had a five-room brick house, 180 North, First East, which was partly finished. We moved in and finished it as we could. I did all of the carpenter work alone.
Our second daughter was born in the Lumber House. During the summer of 1902, I worked as foreman of construction installing the big irrigation pumps on Utah Lake. The lake was very low that summer. It was the first year that the water would not run down the river. I also worked as pump man one year after they were installed.
While working at night repairing one of the 100 horse power motors, l took a severe cold in my back which caused sciatic trouble. I was unable to work for about three months. Shortly after this I fell from a house and injured my back and was unable to work for another three months. That was six months out of twelve that I never had a cent coming in. We never went in debt and was not helped by anyone. We had three children at that time. We spent the last three dollars we had for wall paper for our living room. I hung the paper alone when I could not walk without crutches. It was the first and last wall paper that I ever hung.
While working at the pumps, I was selected second assistant in the Sunday School. Shortly after this, I was sustained President of the Y.M.M.I.A. and was also ordained a Seventy. After serving one year in the M.I.A., the Lehi Ward was divided into four wards. I was selected as first counselor to Bishop Andrew Fjeld of the First Ward. We took charge January 1, 1904 and shortly after, Bishop Fjeld went to Idaho to work leaving George Schow, his second counselor, and myself in charge of the ward work. We had a great many very important things to do— selecting officers, conducting meetings and funerals, ordaining and setting apart ward officers. All of this work was new to us. I was also called upon to marry a number of couples.
About this time, I went to work for the Peoples Co-op Company taking charge of their lumber yard. My wage was $55 per month. Shortly after this we bought five acres of land that adjoined five that my wife owned, paying $75 per acre. We also started to buy ten acres from my wife's mother for $100 per acre. We finally sold the ten for $1500 and finished paying for the other ten. We also bought a piano, paying cash down for it. Our daughter Ora was ten years old the day that it was delivered. We had planned and worried about getting a piano for our girls. It proved to be a great blessing to all of us. Our girls all learned to play it and were a great help in the ward with their instrumental and vocal music.
We now had six children, five girls and one boy. We had to be very careful with our money, as we had no income but my small salary. I was very fortunate to have a wife that knew how to spend our income to the best advantage. She was a real help to me in every way. She was very thorough in everything she did and was a very good housekeeper. Our children were always well dressed, and I have never known my wife to keep one of her children out of school to help her.
We had a lot of people come to our home for meals: mostly church workers or conference visitors. At that time, we had Alpine Stake Conference in Lehi quite often, and the Lehi people would take all the visitors to their homes for dinner. This made a lot of work for the women.
In March, 1914, we moved to American Fork to live. We sold our fifteen acres of land to B. C. Lott for $3,000 and our home to Guy Evans for $2500. We invested $5000 in A. K. Thornton and Sons Lumber & Mercantile Business of American Fork and Pleasant Grove. We lived in American Fork about two years and enjoyed our associations with the people there. We all shed tears when we left our good home in Lehi. The children bid goodbye to the cherry trees, the rest of the orchard, and all of those things that are dear to the home of their childhood. While we were living in American Fork, our daughter, Leath, was operated on for appendicitis by Dr. Fred Worlton of Lehi.
I worked for A. K. Thornton about eighteen months, and when they sold the American Fork Yard, I took charge of the Chipman Yard. While working for the Chipman Mercantile Company, l made arrangements to buy the W. E. Racker Lumber Yard at Lehi. We moved back to Lehi in December 1915, and opened the R. J. Whipple Lumber Yard January 1, 1916. We bought the Chas. Ohran Home from the bank.
Shortly after moving to American Fork, I was called to the Alpine High Council, which office I held for about three years. In 1918 we built a new home on Third North and Second West, and Lumber yard, First West and Third North, which was located in the Lehi Second Ward. I was called to be first counselor to Bishop S. I. Goodwin on February 29, 1920. The wards of Lehi were rearranged leaving us in the First Ward. I was selected as Bishop with Joseph Anderson and A. Carlos Schow as counselors. The Fifth Ward was organized at this time. I and Brothers Anderson and Schow worked in perfect harmony as far as I knew. We tried to do the things that the authorities wanted done. How well we succeeded I don't know.
After serving about eight years, my health began to fail, and I told President S. L. Chipman that I thought the ward was entitled to a well man for their Bishop. He said that the Stake would be divided soon and that that would be a good time for my release. The Stake was divided in 1928 with my counselor A. C. Schow as President and Joseph Anderson as High Councilor, and my clerk, Herman Coates, as clerk of the new Lehi Stake. I was released, as they all knew that my health would not permit me to continue. I would like to have continued the work, but since I could not attend to duties, it was for the best of all concerned to have a new Bishop. I was set apart as a Stake High Councilor in the Lehi Stake.
In 1927 we went to Mesa, Arizona, to be at the dedication of the Temple. We left home about October 15. My wife and I took two old ladies from American Fork as passengers. We had an old Buick car, a 1916 model. We drove to St. George the first day, to Las Vegas the second day, to Ash Fork, Arizona the third day. There the ladies left us to go to St. Joseph by train. They met us at Mesa later.
This was a very interesting trip. New scenery and different variety of vegetation was found changing all the time. As we went south into the Salt River Valley, we saw the first giant cactus we had seen. We also saw many flowering bushes, trees, and shrubs all with a thorn of some kind on them.
Our daughter, Leath, was living in Mesa at that time (Mrs. D. Ray Kleinman). The dedication of the Temple was an important and impressive affair. Leath sang a solo on the open-air program. She was the first chorister for the Temple. Our son-in-law secured tickets for us to attend the first session of the dedication services. While sitting in the Temple waiting for the services to begin, I had a peculiar experience or vision. Something told me that my father was present, and that he was pleased to see me there. While I did not seem to see anything with my natural eyes, I had a picture in my mind that showed my father standing with a group of two women and several men. They stood seven or eight feet from the floor. While they were rather shadow-like in appearance, they looked like ordinary people. My mother was not there. When President Grant began to speak they disappeared. I was not asleep but in a normal condition.
On our return trip home, we went to California and stopped one night at San Diego, where we got our first sight of the ocean. We spent one day and evening sight-seeing in Los Angeles, returning home by way of San Bernardino and Las Vegas.
On July 1, 1929, we left home for a trip to the West Coast. We stopped the first night at Elko, Nevada and spent the second night in Reno. From there we went to Sacramento where we spent the afternoon and evening sight-seeing. We left on the morning of July 4 for San Francisco through Oakland and Berkeley. We spent six days in San Francisco sight-seeing and enjoyed it very much. We then went north taking the Redwood Highway to Ureka, California. The road through the big redwood trees and along the coast was very beautiful. We visited the different cities through Oregon and Washington and went from Seattle to Victoria B. C. by boat. We returned to Portland and went by the Columbia Highway to Idaho, arriving home July 23. We traveled 3,546 miles and the total cost of the trip for the three of us, Mother, Mildred, and myself, was $183.
I was under the doctor's care for about two years. I had my teeth and tonsils taken out but did not improve in health. On December 31, 1930, after staying in the hospital for ten days, Doctors Cochran and Sharp removed two large goiters from under my collar bone. I have not improved in health as fast as I would like but have been able to attend to my work and earn a living for us up to date (September 1934).
The country is in the greatest financial depression that I have ever seen. There seems to be something wrong with the distribution of wealth and the tax burdens among the people. I am very strong for a sales tax to raise all of our state expenses. There is plenty of food and clothing for all and a great surplus, but I am afraid that there are some people hungry as there is no work for thousands of Utah people, and we are as well off as any of the states.
On August 17, 1933, Mother, Miriam, and I started for the World's Fair at Chicago. We traveled over the Old Mormon Trail most of the way where my wife's and my parents traveled with ox teams some eighty-five years before us. We traveled about 400 miles per day while they made about 20. We thought of them a great deal as we sped along the way in comfort and ease. I decided that nothing but the inspiration of God could have induced them to leave the green hills and plains of the east and travel to the new country through dry waste. Some places they would drive for two days without seeing water over a rough country without roads.
We went through Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota to Minneapolis where our daughter, Mildred, (Mrs. Ralph S. Webb) lived. Minneapolis is a very great and beautiful city. We stayed with them for eight days and then went to Rochester. My wife insisted on me going through the Mayo Clinic. After resisting her pleadings for a long time, the thought came to me that I belonged to her and that she should be considered in the matter, so I consented to go through. It took four days for them to go over me thoroughly, and they could not tell me any more than the other doctors could. They charged me $70.
We went from there to Chicago and stayed there three days visiting the Great Fair and sight-seeing in the city. We enjoyed it very much. The Fair was wonderful. We went from there to Port Huron, Michigan, where my wife's sister, Meda, (Mrs. E. G. Hunsburger) lived. We visited with them for three days. While there we bought a new car, a Studebaker Rockne. We traded our Pontiac and payed the balance of $495 in cash. We left Port Huron September 9 for Niagara Falls via Canada. We thought that a part of Canada that we saw was a very beautiful country full of prosperous looking farming districts. We spent several hours viewing the Great Falls. The Canada side was most beautiful with lawns, shrubs, and flowers. The American side of the river was not nearly as nice as the Canada side, and we felt ashamed of our side of the great resort.
We went from there to Palmyra, New York, to the home of the Prophet Joseph Smith when he received his first vision. We stayed overnight there and slept in the Prophet's bedroom. We visited the Sacred Grove where the Prophet received the visit from the Father and the Son. We also went on top of the Hill Cumorah, and we attended services in the L. D. S. chapel at Palmyra Sunday evening. We went from there to New York City where we saw a Great Big City. It was different from any city that we had seen. We spent only one day sight-seeing, but we would liked to have spent two or three weeks seeing New York. We drove our car through the city, without any trouble, leaving by the Holland Tunnel into New Jersey and through Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; to Washington D. C. We spent one day sight-seeing in Washington.
From Washington we went to Columbus, Ohio, passing through a part of West Virginia. We passed through Ohio, the state where my father spent his boyhood days. We then went to Indianapolis, Indiana, then Springfield, Illinois, from there to Carthage where the Prophet was assassinated. We visited the jail and saw the blood stains on the floor. We also saw the bullet hole in the door where Hyrum Smith, the Prophet's brother, was killed. We went from there to Nauvoo. We drove along the Mississippi River for about ten miles. The sun had gone down and the river and the surrounding country was most beautiful. We arrived at Nauvoo just at dark and were fortunate in obtaining lodgings in the Mansion House, the home of Joseph Smith. We occupied the Prophet's bedroom. In the morning we took in the sights of the city, where my wife's mother was born, and where my father and mother were driven from their homes in the most cruel manner. All that my father took with him was loaded on a common hand sleigh. He had spent several years building up a home and furnishing it, and he never received a thing for it. Mother's people were served in the same way.
From this place we went to Independence, Missouri, where the Temple lot was dedicated for the building of the Temple and for the gathering of Zion, the pure in heart. We visited the Josephite's Church and listened to their side of the story of Brigham Young leading the Saints to Utah. Their story did not sound very reasonable to us. We felt the spirit of opposition was very strong among them.
We headed for Topeka, Kansas and from there to Denver, Colorado, where we got our first view of the Rockies after leaving Wyoming going east. We visited in and around Denver, and we thought it the nearest in appearance to Salt Lake City of any city that we had seen. Leaving Denver, we went through the mountains. One pass was 11,300 feet high. We went through Vernal, Utah, and a number of towns near there. We thought that the Uintah Basin was a very dry and undesirable place to make a home.
We arrived home on September 21, having traveled about 6,500 miles.
In 1939 we sold our home on Second West to Milton Knudsen. We rented for a while. We finally purchased a building lot from our son, Byron, on 164 East 6th North Street. Here we built a very lovely rustic house for ourselves, which we occupied in July 1938.
The remaining pages of the history of R. J. Whipple were written by his wife, Susie Winn Whipple, after his illness and death. During his illness, he assisted her in writing part of this history.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert John Whipple and Mr. and Mrs. Warren Mallory left Lehi City, Utah, by automobile March 29, 1939, for a trip into the southern country, their goal being Mexico City, Mexico.
The first day we drove as far as Cortez, Colorado, where we stayed overnight. The next day we went to Mesa Verde and visited the cliff dwellings. We also went through Gallup, Albuquerque, Tucumcari, and Memphis, New Mexico. The next day we visited Fort Worth, Dallas, Forrester, and Italy, Texas. We also visited the very ancient Waco Temple. We went on to San Antonio, Texas, where we visited the San Jose Mission. We also visited the Alamo Mission which was founded in 1718 and built by the Franciscan Monks. These Monks were an ancient order of the Catholic Church. This mission was built in the shape of a cross. The Alamo Battle was fought here in 1836. At Laredo, Texas, on the U. S. side, the people were Mexican, Indian, and Spanish mixture. Here the Rio Grande River separates New Laredo from Old Laredo and we had to change our money into Mexican money and get our passports. We stayed that night at Monterrey, Texas [Mexico?], the population being 85% Catholic. Here we visited the old Bishop's Palace built in 1786.
We crossed the Tropic of Cancer April 4, 1939 at 4:00 P. M. We came into southern Mexico and passed through Forlon, an Indian Village. April 6 we passed through the Sierra Madre Mountains where we saw many Indian Villages. We visited the San Angel Convent of El Carmen Calinite, a temple built in 1615 and restored in 1894. The original pictures, floor, carved wood images, wall decorations, and tables were still there. There was bead work and hemp lace made by the nuns in the early part of the Seventeenth Century. Human bones and mummies were found in original caskets taken from under the floor of the temple. Old choir books were also found.
April 8 we visited Toluca, a famous resort, with an elevation of 11,600 ft. In Mexico City we visited the capitol building and sat in the President's chair in the Council Room. On the entrance wall there was a large mural made in 1535, which described the history of Mexico.
Easter Sunday, April 9, 1935, we visited the Floating Gardens, long winding canals, flower trees, and markets. Sunday afternoon we visited the pyramids of the Sun and Moon. The walls were about 800 feet long, 50 feet high and 100 feet square.
April 10 we visited the museum and saw the Aztec Calendar. We left Mexico City and drove through several Indian villages. We crossed the Rio Grande River into Texas. In New Mexico we visited the Carlsbad Caverns. A couple was married in the cavern that day. We came on to El Paso and crossed the Continental Divide. After going through many Arizona cities we came to Phoenix and visited with our daughter Leath and her family.
We arrived in San Diego April 20, 1939, where we visited some of our friends. We went on to Los Angeles, Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Jose, and to San Francisco where we visited Stella's brother. In San Francisco we attended the San Francisco Fair with Mrs. Charlie Ohran and Mr. and Mrs. Fred Merrill. April 27 we left San Francisco for home. We traveled 7,000 miles and arrived home May 1, 1939.
In 1940 we sold our Lumber Yard to our son, Byron John Whipple, for $6,000.
In April 1941, we drove to Phoenix, Arizona, and stayed there for two months, building a house for our daughter, Leath Kleinman, and children. I worked on the house until it was nearly finished. We left Phoenix in June. It became too hot to work. We came home by way of Grand Canyon and through the Mount Carmel Tunnel.
On my 70th birthday, November 13, 1939, my wife gave an open house party for me. About 150 of our relatives, friends, and neighbors called to wish me well.
In 1942 we sold our home at 164 West 6th North to Mr. Conover for $6,000 cash. We bought the old Lumber Yard site back from Byron in 1943 and made a modern living apartment of the yard office, which we occupied. During the fall and winter of 1943, I remodeled the old adobe sash house making a nice modern house. In 1943 we built another home for ourselves located at 435 North Center, Lehi, Utah. We occupied it in July 1944. It was a very complete five room, red brick house built all on one floor.
On June 24, 1946, we celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary in the Second Ward church in Lehi. Our friends, relatives, and neighbors helped us to make it a grand success. All of our children came home for the occasion. About 300 guests attended.
We attended the dedication of the Idaho Falls Temple September 27, 1945.
He supported all civic endeavors. He was among the first to promote the Lehi Municipal water system. While serving the first two terms on the Lehi City Council, he was among those responsible for the establishment of the Lehi City Library. He worked on the Lehi Sugar Factory and aided in constructing the Jordan River Pumping Plant. From 1903 until 1940 he was engaged primarily in the lumber business. He was manager of the People's Co-op Yard, Thornton Lumber Yard in American Fork, and later purchased the Racker Lumber Yard in Lehi. He finally established the R. J. Whipple Lumber business at Lehi, Utah, on First West and Third North. From 1940 until 1949, he was Utah County House Inspector. He built and owned eight homes in Lehi. He completed the last one in 1948 at the age of 78 years.
He was the father of six children: Ora W. Chipman, Leath W. Waddoups, June W. Jorgensen, Byron J. Whipple, Mildred W. Webb, and Miriam W. Bingley. Two of his children fulfilled missions. Byron went to Germany and June to the eastern States. All six of his children attended the University of Utah. Leath and Ora received B. S. Degrees from the University of Utah. June received her degree in California. Later, Ora received her M. A. Degree from the University of Southern California. All of his daughters taught school.
He lived a long, industrious, and useful life. He had a cheerful disposition and fondness for his wife, children, and grandchildren. He died November 6, 1954. He would have been 85, November 13. He will be missed greatly by his family, neighbors, friends, and by all who knew him. His final resting place is in the Lehi City Cemetery.
At this writing, his wife Susie Winn Whipple survives him being 81 years and 9 months old. (October 22, 1953) He is also survived by his six children and 15 living grandchildren.
(Typed by Glenna Webb)