THE LIFE OF LUCY DEAN WILSON
by Lucy Wilson
I was born in Woodruff, Utah, the third child of a family of eleven of which ten were girls. I think Father was disappointed in my being a girl. He was so sure I would be a boy. This disappointment lasted through life.
Woodruff was 32 miles from a railroad or large town. It had no doctors or telephones. We just got sick and did the best we could. It was made up of people who were tradesmen, carpenters, blacksmiths, weavers, or miners from the old country and knew little of farming. Their means of living depended much on each family being self-sustaining or meet defeat.
At first their homes were made of logs with sod roofs. In one of these, I was born. Father built an adobe house-two rooms down and one large one up. This was never finished. Just why all the adobe houses presented a half-finished appearance, I never could learn, unless it is because adobe always looks cold, but really they are very cool in the summer and warm in the winter. At any rate, the unfinished adobe blended with the desert background, and sometimes one would look twice to see if the house was a house or just another mound of the landscape.
Course bread or boiled wheat was, literally, what we lived on, with dandelion or pigweed greens as a variation. We were seldom sick. I guess the reason was that we got our vitamins the straight way. We children grew up through childhood much as all children did from the poorer class of farmers. We were taught to work very young. The endless, sage-covered desert lay everywhere. Sage, greeswood, rabbit brush, and other native plants were all one could see- no trees. The gray covered hills, covered with small brush was where we as children, barefoot and poorly dressed, would herd cows. The sage was so tall, we would often get lost and would follow the trails made by the wild animals until we came to a clearing.
One of the first jobs we had was that of brush piling and burning. We loved it. It always thrilled us to watch the red fire leaping and the pale blue smoke twisting up and down through the wind. The piles looked like fire-headed dragons. With smoke in our eyes and hot cinders down our backs, with our faces cooked from the heat, our shoulders and backs aching from the forking in the ends of the brush, we would try to sneak off. Then Father would say, "Come on, I'm trying to get this cleared before frost."
Then came time for school. How I looked forward to it, but what a heart ache. In the fall, Father would go to Evanston and come home with yards and yards of outing flannel. Then Mother, without a pattern, would cut out each of us a dress, all the same in color and shape. The only difference was in size. Aunt Ellie once asked why he did it and he said, "It cuts to a better advantage." The year I started to school Father bought some boy shoes for us with metal caps on the toes. I was so proud of my new shoes and dress, but when we got to school the boys and girls circled us and sang, "Have you seen my, have you seen my new shoes, with a cap on the toe, with hooks and bows." The love for my new shoes was lost.
Somehow we got through school and oft times led our class. I was one of the first to graduate from Ricks College. Then came the struggles to go on. My sister Tillie and I were very anxious to go to college. Father flatly told us we could take the field and do a man's work and go, or we would have to study home. So we took the field-pitching and stacking hay, running the binder, shocking grain, irrigating, plowing, planting - doing all the work a man does on the farm. It was hard; but we had our fun with it. Father always felt the early hours were the ones that counted on a farm, so we would be up early and at it long before sun up.
One day Julia was on the binder with six head of horses and Tillie and I were irrigating. We had taken our shoes off and placed them on the bank and pinned our dresses between our knees to keep them out of the way. We were giggling and splashing water on each other. The soft mud was oozing between our toes, and we were feeling fine when Father, out of nowhere spoke. We looked up, expecting to catch the dickens when we saw a stranger with him. The stranger turned out to be Professor Linoford from B.Y.U., coming to check up on us as future students for college. What he thought, I never knew. After all, we entered college at Logan. We were branded from the "sticks" but we got by. We knew we had to make good, so we worked hard, often leading the classes; then teachers examination and then to work. I loved teaching and have done much of it. I came to Idaho in 1903 and here I met Joe. This changed my life.
We were married in the Logan Temple February 28, 1906. After we came out of the temple, we had our patriarchal blessings. Then having a few pennies left, we wanted something to remember the day as we had no wedding ring. So we bought a copy of the Pearl of Great Price. Of all our books, and we have many, this means the most to us because into it was all our love. And we found through the years that the most humble life and the meanest task can become glorious if done with love. We both desired a family and were blessed with eight. Three died soon after birth. Five we have still educated and in their own homes with families.
The one thought we had was to live and give a richer life to our children than we had. Oft times we had little, but we made the best of it and were happy. To be sure, we have had our cloudy days, our share of unhappiness and sorrow. Many nights our bodies have been too tired to rest and our pillows would be wet with tears. But morning would bring a new hope and strength to carry on. We have worked in the field side by side with a determination to obtain those things we were working for.
Next to my family comes work in the church. I have loved it always, and it has helped me so much with the problems of life. I started as secretary of Primary when I was twelve. Then Sunday School teacher, which I have been off and on all of my life, until the last few years. Teacher of the Gospel Doctrine for 20 years, religious class, teacher trainer instructor, member of the Sunday School stake board, president and class leader of the Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association, class leader and councilor in the Relief Society. These positions gave me more knowledge, pleasure, and contentment than I ever expected to have.
One of the first testimonies I had was when my brother died. I was about eleven years old. Father and my two oldest sisters were in Bountiful when he took ill. Mother did all she could for him, but he grew worse. Finally she called the Bishop. After they had administered to him, he continued to grow worse, so Bishop Call told Mother the best thing to do was to give him to the Lord. This was very hard to do as he was their only son and Father was away. She took me and we left the house, went to the back and knelt down and she prayed. A voice from somewhere spoke and said, "He is needed." We both heard the words, but saw no one. With tears on her cheeks, Mother said, "Thy will, not mine be done." We went back into the house, he smiled, put out his arms. She took him and he passed away. I have had many testimonies but this always stays with me.
Another was when Darrell was three years old. He was very ill. They told us we could not keep him with us at the time. Grandpa Wilson was very ill, so we had the visiting Brother from Salt Lake, who was here for conference, and Brother Duckworth, our Stake President, come out to administer to Grandpa. Joe had them come over and administer to Darrell, but while they were coming, we went to the bedroom and prayed to the Lord, if it was his will, to spare us our boy. They blessed him and told him he would get well and grow to manhood. He would go on a mission and be a leader in Israel. This has been fulfilled.
Now, dear children, I wish to give you my testimony. It has been many years since I took upon myself the responsibility of giving service to our church-many years of joy, many years of listening to and walking in the footsteps of the leaders of our church. I have been acquainted with and worked, in a way, with all the leaders of the Riverside Ward. I loved them and want to testify that all leaders are called of God and have divine authority to guide us. Our greatest satisfaction and joy comes from our manner of life. Do we testify with our work that we know the Gospel? Be that knowing it and living it will bring in to our lives and souls satisfaction and joy that cannot be found elsewhere or in any other way.
We now look over the past with satisfaction. We would not turn the page down on any chapter of our life. We have given freely of our time and talents and what means we have been blessed with, both to our children and to our church and we have been richly repaid. You are grown, in homes of your own, all clean, pure, faithful, with a purpose in life and a devotion to the church. What more could we ask? Only carry on.
Sometimes it will not be easy, but remember; "That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do. Not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased.
Some are hardened and embittered by the experience of life. Others
grow nobler and sweeter. It all depends on how we look on the hardships,
anxiety, and sorrow that comes into our lives. If we look upon these obstacles
as stepping stones God has placed in our way to make us stronger in service,
and richer in experience, we will forever be learning and growing until
we will have comfort and safety in our lives. Our lives are made up only
by coming in contact with the lives of others, either as they live or the
history they have left for us. They have taught us many lessons-one, that
we never grow too old to find a way to help others.
The Joe & Lucy Dean Wilson Family
Front Row - Lucy, Joe & Rhea
Back Row - Zula, Eleatha, Darrell & Nola
Joe & Lucy Wilson
Lucy & Joe Wilson
Darrell & Gwen Wilson