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History of Eunice Ann Stewart

From personal recollections told to Ruby Potter Valantine

History of

 

Eunice Ann Stewart

 

from

 

Personal recollections told to

 

Ruby Potter Valantine

  

            Where the new school house now stands in Beaver, Utah, there once was a large adobe house.  It was here where Eunice Ann Stewart was born on August 31, 1868.  The house consisted of four rooms downstairs and a large upstairs.  It had a spacious yard full of sheds and fruit trees.  Here a little girl could spend many happy hours playing house with her dolls under the cool shade of an apple tree.

            Eunice Ann’s mother, Elizabeth Luck, was a wife of Urban Van Stewart.  He was the husband of five wives whom he married in polygamy.  He was a kind and thoughtful husband to his wives and an affectionate father to his thirty-one children.  They all lived happily together, often several families in the same house.  The women loved each other and weren’t jealous of each other.  Urban Van was a good provider and shared equally with each wife.

            Eunice Ann said in her later life that she was a cross baby until she was three months old.  It must have been colic for she has always seemed a most cheerful and happy person in her later life.  She grew up in these peaceful surroundings, loving everyone and being loved by all in return.  She clung to her mother always, hardly wanting to leave her side, especially as her mother was in poor health.  Eunice was shy and withdrawn within herself.  She was frightened of school, particularly if she was called to recite her lessons.  She first went to school in a neighbor’s house.  One of her sisters was her teacher while in Adamsville, another teacher was Anie Gunn.  Eunice finished 8th grade but never overcame her dread of reciting before people.  Even after she was married and asked to sing a song which she knew very well at a wedding, she became so frightened when she heard her own voice that the words and music of the song left her completely.  She never again remembered it.

            One Sunday after Sunday school, when Eunice was about twelve years old, her married sister, Sadie, and her husband wanted her to go with them to Indian Creek.  Her husband wanted his camp bedding.  Eunice started with them but only went about two miles when she insisted on getting out of the wagon and going home to her mother.  She knew her mother would worry.  She ran all of the way home.  When she got there her face was flushed, she was hot and dusty, but so happy and her mother was relieved.

            That same day she heard that baptisms were to be held as soon as the afternoon meeting was over.  She had always felt a fear of water and would not consent to being baptized, but on this day, September 28, 1880, she overcame her fear and, with her father’s consent, was baptized in the Beaver River.

            Eunice’s mother suffered greatly with headaches.  Her son would rub her temples and seem to transfer the pain to his own head.  At any rate, he was always able to relieve his mother.  She was in poor health for years.  Erysipelas and gangrene was the cause of her death after suffering for many weeks.  Eunice was then fourteen years old, just the age she needed her mother the most.

            Eunice went to live with her father and his wife, Ellen, who lived in Adamsville.  Ellen loved Eunice and was good to her.  Eunice loved her in return and did what she could to help her Aunt Ellen, carrying younger children around on her back until it became detrimental to her health.  Her Father wanted her to stay in Adamsville until she finished her schooling.  She was discontented, restless, and couldn’t adjust herself anywhere.  Her mother’s death had depressed her.  She felt like the props had been taken from under her.  She went back to Beaver for a short time, staying with her married sisters, Rose and Sadie, then back to Adamsville.  Her she cried herself to sleep every night until her father sent her back to Beaver.

            Sweet sixteen, an age of romance, secret longings, a blooming into womanhood, just the time for her future husband to meet her.  He had been dating one of her friends but after they met, it was always just Eunice and George.

            George was handsome with his black curly hair and brown eyes.  He was of medium height and slight in build.  It wasn’t long until friendship ripened into love.  They were married at home in Beaver in 1885.  Now as Mrs. George Wilson Valantine, she was happy and content.

            Eight children came to bless their home; Caroline Ethel, George Urban, Charles Henry, Vernon, Floyd, Mabyn, Jessie and Irma Irene. 

            Eunice’s father had given each one of his children property and shares in Co-ops and sheep herds.  She didn’t come to her husband empty handed.  Even with this dowry, her married life was full of poverty, sickness and hardships.  It did not take long for her various properties to be sold for some crisis in the family or unexpected sickness.  Soon everything was gone.

            George and Eunice first made their home with her husband’s sister, Hattie.  Next came South Creek.  At the latter place they kept Sadie’s girls, Lula and Eva, with them.  On returning to Beaver they found they had been robbed of everything they possessed.  Most of this time and later, George herded sheep, traveling with them from the mountains to the lowlands, anywhere there was pasturage.  Often Eunice went with him.  He had many experiences.  At one time, during a severe storm, he lost nearly all of the sheep.  George also helped men clear land for farming, worked on farms on shares, and worked in a nursery.  He always was a conscientious worker and everyone liked him. 

            When they purchased the property where Eunice still lives they paid for it twice because of the dishonesty of the man who claimed he owned it.  Eunice sold her hay land to help pay for it.  There was an old two room house on the lot, the roof so low the whole house had to be raised the width of two logs.  The family lived in it for several years.  Ethel and George were born there and perhaps three other children.

            Eunice had determination and grit.  She worked most of her life beyond her strength.  Many times after working hard all day, she was up most of the night caring for the sick – at home and at her neighbors.  Even when she was pregnant, she was expected to be on the job with no special privileges, extra care, tenderness, or love.  She had one miscarriage after George was born and one after Jessie – I think it was.  She almost lost her life the last time.  She was never one to say much about how she felt.  She lost her baby in September and hemorrhaged from then on until November.  She even had company to care for.  Finally she was so ill she went to bed.  Because of a party at a neighbors, the doctor wasn’t sent for immediately.  When he did arrive, he said it would have been too late in another hour.  Eunice had blood poisoning as well as everything else.  After months of care and nursing she finally was able to be around again.

            In the spring after Charles Henry was born she had erysipelas.  Her sister, Sadie and her daughter were with her until she recovered.  Soon after baby Charles started to have convulsions and in fifteen hours he was dead.  What sorrow for the poor mother to endure.

            Floyd, her fifth child, contracted a very strange disease where the bones turn to gristle.  He was stricken when only six weeks old; from that time he almost always was in his mothers arms both day and night.  The doctors knew no cure for this strange malady.  When Floyd was two years old, the family moved to a place twelve miles north of Milford.  Eunice cooked three hot meals a day for a camp of men even though she was pregnant at the time.  The change seemed to help Floyd for a while but when they returned to Beaver he was no better.

            The following January of 1898 a little daughter, Mabyn was born.  One little soul came and one was called home to his Heavenly parents – dear little Floyd.  Soon after, baby Mabyn had pneumonia and was called home by her brother Floyd.

            The agony that Eunice suffered at this time can only be told but never be realized by others who have never been called to suffer.  Her poor empty arms that had carried so lovingly he little Floyd now had nothing to hold, no little head to nestle against her breast, no pain-filled eyes looking so trustingly up into her own.  Before she walked the floor at nights to calm her baby, now she walked the floor to try and assuage her grief.  Because of milk fever, she couldn’t even attend the funeral of Mabyn.

            To grieve Eunice still more, her husband began to drink very heavily and constantly.  She had always done her share and more in the outside chores – milking, feeding and caring for cows, chickens, pigs, in chopping wood and keeping a garden.  Now this was increased.  The burdens of home, inside and out, pressed down upon her as well as the shame to see her husband thus, and to be without proper food and care.  It takes a strong spirit to bear up under such adverse conditions.  Eunice had it.

            After Irma Irene was born, George left off this vicious habit and never afterward would touch a drop of liquor in any form.  New happiness now came to the family and especially Eunice to see her husband restored to her once more.

            It was a happy time for them when they got a new home.  It had been long in the building as George would not go into debt and so could build only as a few dollars came in each month.  The new house contained three rooms and a pantry and seemed so much more roomey than the old home of two rooms.  It must have been finished before 1900.

            About 1914 George began buying farm land on the south bench.  He loved the soil and dreamed of a farm that would produce enough for his family and some to sell so that they might have a few comforts in their old age.  The farm finally consisted of about forty acres.  It didn’t prove a good investment because so often there was no water for it.  If the winters were mild there was not enough water to go on their land – other places getting preference.  Often they only got enough hay for their own use and wheat enough for their own flour.  But hope was always there saying, ‘Next year it will be different.’

            During the first World War Eunice and George worked the farm themselves.  Their oldest boys, George and Vernon had volunteered to serve our country and give their lives if necessary for our preservation.  George enlisted in the Navy and Vernon was in Co. A., 25th Engineers and spent nineteen months in France.  When Vernon came home to get his parents blessing before leaving, his mother wanted him to stay with them.  He said, “What shall I tell my son when he asks, ‘Daddy, what did you do in the great war?’  Shall I say ‘I was tied to my mothers’ apron strings.’”  Naturally they let him go.

            Later, after the death of her husband, the farm was sold.

            Eunice was always nursing and helping someone, either her own children or relatives and friends.  Her home was small but it was always a place of refuge for anyone who needed it.  Her husband had rheumatism nearly every winter, he had pneumonia and a sever case of shingles.  Her son, Vernon, had pneumonia when only one month old.  He had such a severe case of diphtheria when a boy that nothing save an extremely large dose of antitoxin saved him.  He also had a severe case of blood poisoning.  Eunice’s niece, Eva Woods, had her knee in a cast.  Eunice cared for her three children until she was well.  She helped neighbors and her own girls during childbirth, she nursed her brother-in-law, James, during a long illness.  Eunice also cared for her sister’s-in-law, Caroline and Mary Ann.  Both were with Eunice when they died.  Before they came to her place she would go to theirs, nurse them and stay at nights.  One wonders when she ever slept.

            Even though Eunice was blessed with a strong body, she suffered from sickness because she never cared for herself properly.  Around 1935 a combination of lue, bronchitis and pneumonia, complicated by trouble with her heart kept her in bed for weeks.  Her daughter, Jessie and daughter-in-law, Vina cared for her.  A few years later she was down again for months.  Both of these times her life hung by a thread.  During this illness her son, Vernon, came from Los Angeles to be with her for a few days.  For years also, she had been a cripple because of trouble with her right leg and hip.  It seemed to begin from a fall she had when she slipped on the ice while doing the barnyard chores.  Soon after that she felt pain in her hip, her ankle and her foot.  In order to walk without so much pain, she first used a cane, then one crutch and later two crutches.  X-rays showed that the ball on her hip joint was breaking through the socket of the joint.  Her bones were so brittle that the jar caused by her fall had pushed the ball through the socket and it continued to push through.  The doctors in Beaver suggested she have the bones of her hip immobilized so that cartilage could grow around this break and the whole joint would become solid.

            Her son, Vernon, was living in Los Angeles at that time.  Eunice came to their place in the summer of 1925.  Her son and his wife took her to doctors and to the hospital.  She was put into a cast from her breast to her hips and down her right leg to her ankle.  She had it on for two months.  After it was removed, she wasn’t able to bend her right leg at the hip.  In sitting she had to use a high stool and only sit on the edge of it.  Her leg and hip still gave her pain but somewhat lessened, however.  She was expected to and did everything that needed doing in the house and out, mostly cheerful and happy.  She rarely complained and was always on her crutches.

            As time when on other of her bones began to stiffen, she developed arthritis in her arms and shoulders.  She wasn’t able to get in a tub to bathe or to wash her hair or bend to her feet.  Her legs swelled because of lack of circulation and became hard and of a purplish hue.  Her hands began to shake so that she couldn’t control movements and her head shook too.  With all these bodily woes she kept her keen and clear mind and worked around in the house, keeping busy and occupied.

            After her husband died, her daughter, Ethel, who had been living in Los Angeles and was divorced from her husband, came to live with Eunice.  Ethel gave up her work, her friends and all she enjoyed to take care of her mother.  She has faithfully performed her self-appointed task.  She was a hard worker and very ambitious.  Ethel immediately began to remodel the old house.  The pantry was made into a bedroom, part of the other bedroom was made into a bathroom.  A cess-pool was dug, water was piped into the house.  She worked like a man, digging, cutting trees, building the fence, knocking out walls.  Beside the physical part of remodeling, she also used most of her savings.  The place is very lovely now; green lawns, flowers, freshly painted house inside and out, new sinks, new stoves, a refrigerator, the walls covered with wallpaper and new rugs.  Ethel worked too hard.  She has had several heart attacks and a stroke.  Her right leg drags and it is difficult for her to talk clearly.  She never lets up anyway.  The house is always kept clean and she cares for her mother tenderly.

            George had been left also, as his wife, Vina, had been divorced from him.  He came home to Beaver with his sons, Virgil and Carlos, and began living with Eunice and Ethel.  She had her hands full doing the extra work that came with this added family.  Ethel has a caustic tongue and scolded many times but she mothered them none the less; worrying when they were out late, washing, ironing, cooking for them.  Virgil accidentally shot Carlos in his neck.  Ethel took care of the bills and cared for him.  Carlos recovered through the power of the Priesthood. 

            George helped financially in keeping up the home, but the greater burden fell on Ethel both in work and money.  She has done and is doing a wonderful job and all thanks should be given her.

            Eunice had never been very active in Church affairs except in Relief Society.  She carried it’s motto of Charity with her always for she ever was good to anyone in need, especially in giving of herself to help.  She taught her children all Christian virtues.  She didn’t follow up with the requirements of the Church so Ethel, George, and Vernon were never baptized while children.  But she always had faith in the goodness of God and He blessed them many times during sickness and when the need was great.

            Though their home was humble, neighbors were always welcome.  Her husband could play almost any instrument slightly but loved the accordion.  He would play and sing the old ballads he had heard in England.  Eunice, by her humble and sweet spirit, made an influence for good for her children.  She is still living and will be eighty-nine on her next birthday, August 31, 1957.  May we all pattern after her virtues.

            Eunice’s children were; Caroline Ethel, married George Allgood and (2) Roy Appleton; George Urban, married Mary Dalton (2) and Vina Jones; Charles Henry: Vernon married Ruby Potter; Floyd Leon; Mabyn; Jesse married John A. Gunn; Irma Irene married John Banks, (2) and Ted __________.


Owner/SourceRuby Potter
Linked toEunice Ann Stewart

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