Written by his daughter, Fern Watson Wood

In England in a Methodist Church [about the year 1869] , a handsome young man and a sweet young girl sang in the choir. The boy's name was Edwin Watson and the girl was Mary Ann Swingewood. They met and were later married. A short time later the Mormon missionaries came to their home and preached the Gospel to them. They were very happy to learn of this new church and were eager to join.

My Grandfather was the son of a very wealthy man. They were a very religious people and when this young couple wanted to join this unpopular Mormon Church, they were shocked and could not accept it. Grandfather and his new bride accepted the gospel and were baptized and their family disowned them and turned them out without a penny. They saved and finally, after about two years, their chance came to come to America. The John Isaac Heart Company was formed and they came with them. Grandmother had one little son Albert. One little son had died at the age of six months. It was a miserable journey for the little mother as she was soon to give birth to another son.

It was a cold bitter day when they landed in New York. It was now March of 1873. They started making preparations to come West and soon were on the train. A short time later Grandmother became ill and while in Marysville, New Jersey, she gave birth to a tiny son who they named John Isaac Heart Watson, after the Captain of the company. This little boy, when a man, was to become my wonderful father.

The company came to Ogden, Utah. Here they lived for two years at Woods Cross. In 1875 Grandmother and Grandfather took their little family and moved to Marsh Valley. Here they took a ranch called the Squatters Rights, but the Indians were so wicked, and ran them off . They then farmed for George Wakley. Here the little boys grew up. They were afraid to leave the house. The wild animals and Indians were always lurking close by. Many were the hardships.

When my father was eight years old, his father broke the Ice on Marsh Creek and baptized him. This was in November the 6th so you can imagine the bitter cold. These were hard years for the little family but they still remained true to their faith and loved the Gospel.

They attended church In the John Wakley home until they finished a little school house, made of logs and a dirt roof. Here they attended school on week-days and Sunday School and Sacrament Meeting on Sunday. While father was just eight years old his father sent him to take the horses to the pasture. It was evening and he had to go about a mile from home. On the way back it became dark and he heard a small bark or howl and then another and another. He knew it was a wolf pack. He followed Marsh Creek, running and crying through the water. The wolves following him. When he was near home he knew he was surrounded and the little fellow realized the danger he was in and cried for his folks. His father came to the door and opened it and the light frightened them away. Grandfather counted sixteen wolves.

It was while living here he saw the first train come Into the valley. They returned to Ogden for two years and then Grandfather decided to take his little family and move to Blackfoot, Idaho. It was now 1884 and my father was 12 years old. Blackfoot was then one street with a court house, a little Methodist Church and a Baptist Church; also, two stores, a Drug Store owned by Bailey and Sons and Parson and Jones Livery Stable; Tucker's Butcher Shop and a small Post Office. Blackfoot was a boarder town, mostly saloons and many outlaws made this their home.

There was only one well in Blackfoot and father hauled water and sold it for 25 cents a barrel. Here father attended school and took care of the school house. When they found out he was a Mormon, they expelled him. Some of the women went to the teachers and told them they would lose their jobs if they took them back, but Mack Tucker, a trustee wouldn't listen to them and had the children return and bought father's books so he could attend and receive his certificate.

The children attended other churches until Brother Joseph Dye came in the interest of the Mormon Church. He lived in Basalt, and found this little Mormon band. The Edwin Watsons, the Elisha Binghams, and John Ericksons. The Riverside Ward was now organized and was a branch of the Basalt Ward and they had these families attend the Riverside Ward. Grandfather would load all the children In the wagon and he would take them to church at Riverside. Each time they went over the bridge they had to pay $3.00 as It was a toll bridge, but this did not discourage them. Father worked in the M.I.A. and here he met Elveretta Wilson and a courtship began.

Father started work in the Drug Store and again the towns people protested because he was a Mormon. But Dr. W. H. Behle liked the boy and wouldn't listen to them and soon they became a little more friendly. He had a large dog who would always accompany him at night. One night he locked the store and started home. He got up along the railroad which was lined with sage brush. The dog started to growl and he said "get him Don" and the dog chased and caught a man who was going to attack him. Another night he heard a man say "here he comes" and the dog took after them. Many nights he slept in the store and this beloved dog slept with him, and was a great protection many times. Every time he left home for work he was in danger.

One night he was asleep in the store and the Saloon caught fire and it was coming through the window. He grabbed the soda water tank and used this until he could get further help. He used thirty gallons but saved the store.

While here he studied hard. An he worked and later went to work for Ben Furnice, another Druggist, and here he worked and studied and finally got his Pharmacist Diploma.

Grandfather had now built a comfortable home for his family. The church was organized in Blackfoot in 1895. The first meetings were held in Grandfather's home. Grandfather was the first bishop. Elista Bingham, his first counselor and Elijah Bingham his second. My father, John I. Watson, was the first ward clerk.

Grandfather bought a beautiful piano and had it shipped to their home. It was the first piano north of Logan, Utah and the first In Blackfoot . It had a beautiful tone and all the girls became fine musicians. There was a wonderful musician named Eugene Thompson who came to Blackfoot and he taught the girls to play. Later he married father's sister Lizzie. His sister Fanny was the first Ward organist and the meetings were all held in Grandfather's home the first year.

Entertainment consisted of "making our own fun", Daddy said, and many evenings were spent around the piano singing songs. The little band of Mormons were a happy one. They did much for each other and remained close indeed. Each time a member would build a new room, all would pitch in and help build. The women would provide refreshments and the building would become a party. In the winter they would gather up the young folks in bob-sleds loaded with straw, cover them with quilts and go for a ride, literally dashing through the snow, over the fields to a place where they could dance and enjoy themselves in a fine friendly way. Often the orchestra consisted of just harmonicas.

In the summer the greatest fun wax gathering in wagons and taking picnic lunches to old Fort Hall. They could pick wild berries and fish there. In those days the schools would gather at the Watson home for songs and parties and so they spent many a pleasant hour. Father was planning for the future and he had bought a small lot. The church was going to organize a Ward in Blackfoot so father gave them his lot and the Dist ward in Blackfoot was built on it. He was always so generous.

Father and Brother Godfrey Malm were set apart as the first Ward Teachers in Blackfoot in 1884. On his day off from the Drug Store, be would Ward Teaching. They would hitch their team on to a wagon, take their lunches and some hay for the horses and start out. At noon they would stop and feed the horses and eat their lunches and go on again to visit their large scattered ward, and come back home after dark. The visits were getting more frequent to take L. D. Wilson home and Elveretta and John were planning to get married.

Daddy moved to Riverside on his brother's place and he and Burt Wilson, (brother -in-law) were Ward teachers here and covered all territory which is now Rockford, Thomas, and Pingree. This all belonged to the Riverside Ward. The families were scattered and It would take the young men all day to cover their districts. They were faithful to their calling and enjoyed their work.

It is now 1899 and father and mother were making preparations to get married and on April 10 they boarded the train for Ogden to her sister's and on to Salt Lake to the Salt Lake Temple where they were married on April 12, 1899. After their return home they lived in Blackfoot in a room at the Godfrey Malm home while their home, a little white frame, was being built, on the land he had homesteaded. When the home was finished, Elva, his new bride, moved to the home alone to keep the homestead, while father trained another man to take his place in the Drug Store. Imagine Elveretta, living on this sage-brush ranch alone - ten miles from town. Father got her a buggy and horse so she could go to her mother 's when possible. The ranch was then in the Riverside Ward and just a few families lived there.

The first year there was no water on the ranch. They had to haul the water even to their newly planted trees, but they did not discourage. Daddy planted many trees, bushes and the sage brush gave way to a beautiful land of trees, both shade and fruit. He soon dug a well, a prize possession and gradually the huge sage brush was cleared for crops and ditches were built to carry the precious water to the crops. He helped build the People's Canal from which they finally got their water. This canal began near Rose and paralleled the Snake River for many miles. After the canal was built he spent much time building roads and schools and a church, the basic essentials for this new community. He built many roads in the Thomas area with horses and a slip-scraper.

When School District #48 was created In 1900, he took an active part in it. He served for four years as their first trustee and later worked for the opening of schools at Rockford as well as Thomas.

For two years the canal broke it's banks and flooded the farm and there were no crops. One morning Grandfather went out to feed his chickens and coyote had carried all 60 prize hens away, but they kept on building and planting.

The Thomas Ward was organized in 1902 with John R. Williams as bishop, and John H. Stander and Julius Nook as counselors with Griff Williams as Sunday School Superintendent and Dave Harman as Ist Counselor and John I. Watson as 2nd Counselor. A small rock meeting house was built on the hill. Father helping and hauling rock to build it. Father was later superintendent of the M. I. A. and took an active part in drama. Daddy was quite the actor. I remember when a child, I went to watch him in plays and how up-set I would be and how I would cry when he made love to other women. He has always loved his gospel and ever been true. There was never a harder working man, always willing to go when called.

He is a good kind father and so generous. He was a great leader. It was a joyous occasion when the Improvement Era came. We would hurry to get our dishes done and all ready for bed, then father would read the stories to us. I especially can remember him reading "On the Trail of the Timpanogos", a choice continued story.

Home in Thomas

Father was a Ward Teacher for 67 years and has not been released yet and is now 90 years old. He cannot be an active Ward Teacher. His Hearing is bad and it is hard for him to get around after dark. They have moved to a sweet home on the town sight. He still goes to church when possible and loves to read and wears no glasses. He has been the dearest kind, generous father and a man of principle and justice; a man without malice; and a man with a capacity for forgiveness and charity to all. He has not one enemy. He loves his friends, his church and his family and gets great joy from living. Although his hair is white, his blue eyes still twinkle with the joy of living and loving and-,reminiscing over the past, as he has an exceptional memory. It is a joy to listen to his experiences and stories from his wealth of knowledge. He is the father of five sons and four daughters. A great man, a choice one and blessed father whom we all love and respect. His sons and daughters :

Lester John born 18 March 1900
Arthur Theodore born 27 May 1902
Harold Clyde born 22 March 1906
Walter Lowell born 11 March 1909
Wendell Floyd born 1 June 1919

Fern Elvaretta born 22 April 1904
Phyllis born 5 October 1910
Ottella born 28 June 1916
Barbara born 17 June 1921

 [Elvaretta died on her birthday, 27 January 1967 in Blackfoot, Idaho. John Isaac Hart Watson died a short while after on 6 February 1967 also in Blackfoot.]


My Father
By Phyllis Watson Hale

He was a kind and loving father to all those he knew
And always a kind word to cheer you when blue.

He would give you the last thing he had
Just to make some one glad and to chase away the sad.

He had eyes of a lovely blue
And a strong body of a beautiful hue.

His hair was a soft silver gray
While we all learned to love and admire every day.