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History of George Wilson Valantine

Compiled by Ruby Potter Valantine

 

HISTORY OF GEORGE WILSON VALANTINE

 

Compiled by

 

RUBY POTTER VALANTINE

  

            George Wilson Valantine was born 15 July 1863, in registration district of Rotherham, sub-district of Maltby, County of York, England.  His parents were George Wilson and Caroline Turner Valantine.  He was the ninth and youngest child of this couple.  His brothers and sisters were: Thomas, Charles Henry, Mary Ann, Sarah Wilson, James, Eleanor, Caroline Annie and Harriet.

            George’s father was a farm laborer, his grandfather Valantine, was a cutler in the cutlery business and a farm laborer, his grandfather, Turner, was a mason.

            Little is known of the family in England.  They became converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and soon after emigrated to America and then to Utah, the land of Zion for them.  They left England in 1872 when young George was nine years old.  All the family left England except Thomas and Charles Henry.  Thomas married a widow, Mary Mattram Mullins, who had three sons and a daughter.  She and her husband, Thomas, had three sons and two daughters.  Some of Thomas’ and Mary’s descendants are now living in Sheffield, England.  Charles Henry did not marry, but nothing more is known of him.

            When the Valantine family arrived in New York, it was necessary for the parents to stay to work in order to get money to continue west.  Young George and Harriet were sent on with a brother-in-law, George Edmond Owens, husband of Sarah Wilson Valantine.  They came directly to Beaver, Utah.  George went to live with the Wildens, who were related by marriage to the family, Charles Wilden having married Mary Ann Valantine.  Charles’ sister, Caroline Wilden, later married James Valantine.

            This Mr. Wilden was very severe with George, whipping him at the slightest provocation.  One time a log rolled from a wagon and knocked Wilden down.  Poor George got the beating and he had nothing to do with it.  Finally he could stand it no longer.  He ran away to Salt Lake to see if his parents had arrived.  He had a horse and rode it all the way.  He got some money by helping campers he passed on the way.  He did find his parents in Salt Lake, and they were grieved to find their son all black and blue from the beatings he had received.  Later they all went back to Beaver where they made their home.

            As a boy growing up, George did various kinds of work; shearing and herding sheep, helping on farms, anything he could find to do in a farming community.  For a year or two before he married he traveled all through Utah and Idaho with Jim Reid, the husband of Harriet Valantine.  With roller skates, they would rent a dance hall in any large town and rent the skates to the young people, staying in each town as long as they could draw a crowd.

            He met his future wife through her friend.  He had been going around with the friend, but when he saw Eunice Ann Stewart he wanted no one but her.

            He was then about twenty-one years old, very handsome, medium height, dark brown eyes, curly black hair and an olive complexion.  To retiring, sweet, Eunice Ann, he must have seemed a dashing and romantic man.  They courted for two years and married at home, Beaver, Utah, 15 March 1885, Elder Ivory performing the ceremony.  George had been baptized before leaving England, but the records must have been lost as he was baptized again after his death, when he was endowed and sealed to his wife.

            After their marriage, the young couple went to South Creek for the summer.  Returning in the fall, they had only enough bread and fruit for a couple of days and very little money.  They had left their household belongings in Beaver and when they went for them found they had been robbed of everything they had, even their bottled fruit and jam.  They knew who had done it but had not legal proof.  It was a terrible loss.

            Eunice had property given to her by her father.  She sold her hay lot for $31 and bought the lot where the family home is located.  A cow and a calf were sold to buy shingle nails in order to put a roof on the house.  More improvements cost another $30 which she got from her sheep.  The owner of the lot had included the house standing on it, but after paying him, George found out that the man didn’t even own the land.  They had to buy the whole thing over again.  The log house consisted of two rooms but the ceiling was so low the house had to be raised two logs higher.  They put the new roof on too as before there had only been a dirt roof.

            At one time the kitchen caught fire.  A $50 set of harness was destroyed as well as the tops of their cupboards.  This was in the old house just before George was born.  Eunice picked up a five gallon can of water and threw it on the roof.  She got her sewing machine, her feather bed and all her quilts out safely.

            They sold a corner of their lot to Beakleys for $100.  They started to rebuild the house after the fire but the work went slowly as George would not build on credit or go in debt.  It was finished about the time Floyd, the fifth child was born.

            George did any kind of work he could get, often feeling lucky to make $1.50 a day.  He cradled wheat with Jim Reid the fall after he was married.  He herded and sheared sheep and worked on farms.  At that time, unless a man had his own farm or business, it was difficult for him to make a living as other types of work were scarce in these small communities.  He was industrious and a hard worker and did whatever work he could find.  He gave up shearing sheep after his son George was born.  Instead he worked at breaking up farm land.  He ran a nursery for awhile and did farming for Charley and Lew Harris.  One summer the family all moved down to a pleasant valley, twelve miles north of Milford, Utah.  Their little child, Floyd, had been, and still was, very ill.  He seemed to feel better while they were there.  The work that summer was hard on them but they enjoyed their pleasant surroundings.  Once George contracted to supply ties for the building of the Lake Railroad when Vernon was a small boy.

            In the spring, after they came back from beyond Milford, their child Floyd, died.  About a month later their baby, Mabyn, died.  George became very discouraged over the death of his two children and his financial difficulties and began to drink heavily and gamble.  This was very hard on his wife and children, especially as she had much more of the outside work to do.  She had also to provide, alone, the love, kindness and care that children need and try to keep the family together.  Drinking makes the best person unpleasant.  What money George did make went largely for liquor, and so he further deprived his family of what they needed.  He quit this bad habit when his youngest child, Irma, was about three years old.  He never touched liquor again and disliked seeing others use it.

            One time about 1898, when he was in the mill at Beaver, he got his knee caught in the belt and hurt himself quite seriously.  He wouldn’t see a doctor, but worked on his knee it from being stiff.  Another time in the mill he fell through a trap-door, and broke both his wrists.  That was just before Irma was born.  He had helped build the mill that was on the canyon road and is still standing there.  It is about three blocks from the old homestead.  He quarried rocks in the canyon for this mill and also worked getting out the lumber for it.

            George always loved the land and wanted to have his own farm.  In 1914 he bought ten acres on the South Bench near Beaver.  He bought in small parcels after that until he finally had forty acres.  He also had ten acres in North Creek but traded them for a team and wagon for freighting.  He freighted when Vernon was a boy and at one time went into Idaho taking Vernon with him.  His farm on the South Bench didn’t give him good returns because if the winters were mild with little snow or rain, there would not be enough water in the reservoir for the bench lands.  Each farmer had to take his turn and often the water would be gone before he got his turn.  It was always disheartening to see the tender green wheat die from lack of water.  Sometimes there would barely be enough hay for the animals over the winter with non to sell and wheat enough for the family flour with none to sell.  Because of these crop failures he was obliged to seek work elsewhere.

            He was put in charge of the work when Kent’s lake or reservoir was built because before that the dam always leaked.  He had them begin to build at bedrock and the dam has never leaked yet.  When the Telluride Company began building their power plant in Beaver Canyon, they had to first make a road and bridge the river.  They were having trouble all the time.  The rocks were too large for the men to move and needed to be blasted out.  Someone told the construction boss that there was a man working as a common laborer who could do better blasting.  So George Valantine was brought to blast the big rocks from the road-bed.  From then on he was the head powder man until the work was finished.  It seemed George Valantine could do anything and do it right.  He knew how to work a binder with great skill and was in demand at harvest time.

            One winter George and his wife and Irma lived in the canyon near the Telluride plant where George worked.  In the summer Vernon went up the canyon to be with them.  One night when he and another young fellow were sleeping in a tent, a large rock rolled down the hill, through the tent, killing his companion and knocking Vernon unconscious.

            George was sick many times in his life.  He was very ill with typhoid a few years after his marriage.  Nearly every winter he had sieges of rheumatism.  He had one severe and serious illness with pneumonia.  Being unable to work for long periods and also having doctor bills, it was necessary for his wife to sell her co-op shares and the property her father had given her.  Sometimes one of his many friends would come to watch him during the night when he was sick so his poor wife could have some rest.  It generally ended with the friend going to sleep and his wife watching over both of them.  Later in life he had a very severe case of shingles and was sick about all one winter.

            To return to some of the work he did.  He was a water supervisor in Beaver for many years.  He also had charge of the measuring device for water in the canyon.  He was in high favor with the city official because of his dependability and trust-worthiness.  Very often his wife went with him to the canyon when he was on duty there.  They loved to be together.  Sometimes they saw deer drinking in the river or partially hidden by the trees. 

            During the depression, after the bank holiday which Pres. Roosevelt ordered, many banks failed.  The Beaver bank was one of them.  George lost his life’s savings that he had planned to use to make their home more comfortable and to provide something for their old age.  This was a great loss to them.  They also had to kill some of their cattle on government orders because the Pres. didn’t want the country overstocked.

            March 15, 1935 was a gala day for George and Eunice – fifty years of married life.  All his family, who were able to attend, gathered at the old home.  Vernon and Ethel, living in Los Angeles at the time, couldn’t come.  Eva Woods, a niece from Parawan, came as well as all the grandchildren.  A delicious dinner was served at noon; chicken with all the trimmings, and for desert, apple pie and a wedding fruit cake of six tiers.  Three of the layers were decorated with yellow, pink and lavender roses and green leaves.  On the top layer was written in yellow – 1885 to 1935.  In the evening many friends dropped in to wish them happiness.  They played cards and visited.  The grandchildren recited and sang.  Some danced – some of the neighbors sang.  George sang the old time ballads of England and played the accordion.  A late supper was served to all.  Everyone had such an enjoyable time.  Both Eunice and George were dressed in their best.  She had her hair waved and a touch of rouge on her lovely cheeks.  Many gifts were given to them, but the best gift was the love of the children for their parents, the love of George and Eunice for each other, and the happy association with friendly, pleasant neighbors.

            George was never one for show, often seemed gruff, but underneath that rough surface, he was kind.  In spite of the many times he was sick he always kept on the job, his word was his bond, he was trusted by everyone.

            Soon after the Golden Wedding celebration, Eunice became very ill with pneumonia and heart trouble.  The following is a copy of the letter which George sent his son Vernon, in Los Angeles.

            “Dear Children,

I thought I would let you all know how Ma is.  Well, the nurse said that if she would take care of herself, she thought she would get along now.  But she has to stay in bed.  She is awful weak.  She has got an awful cough and she can’t eat anything.  The neighbors are very good to her.  Irma came and stayed a week, but we didn’t want her to keep the kids out of school.  Ma has been a very sick woman.  We didn’t know just which way it was going for awhile.  She looks very bad yet.  Well, I am setting by the window writing but my thoughts are not on this letter.  So you must excuse this scribbling.  Now you can show this to the rest of the folks or tell them.

                                                                        Love to all,

                                                                        G.W.V.”

 

            It took a long time to recover but Eunice finally got well once more.

            Soon it was her husband’s turn.  About two years later he had a stroke – 19 April 1937 and died the following Saturday, April 25.  He was buried April 28.  The funeral service was held in Beaver 2nd or East Ward L.D.S. Chapel, with Bishop Clyde L. Messinger conducting.  The services were as follows:

            A quartette: Sometime We’ll Understand

                        Sarah Mackrell, Luriel Murdock, John P. Murdock, Joseph Bakes.

            Invocation: Sam D. Hutching

            Solo: “O, My Father”              Thelma Farnsworth

            Speaker: Bishop C. Dennis White

            Song: What Voice Soothes the Startled Ear

                        Sarah Mackrell and Quartette.

            Speakers: Elder William A Miller, Bishop Messinger

            Song: “Shall We Meet Beyond the River” by the Quartette.

            Benediction: Bishop Charles Johnson of the Adamsville Ward


            Interment was in Mountain View Cemetery.  The grave was dedicated by Joseph Manzone.

            George was the last one in his father’s family.  He left his wife, two sons, and three daughters.

            Sometime after his death, his forty acres farm was sold to John Gunn, Jessie’s husband.  He was a good man with many friends.  He was respected by all.  He never cared to roam once he had settled down in Beaver, but was content with the simple life.  He loved visiting with his friends and neighbors.

            His children can learn from him lessons on honesty, thrift, trust, loyalty and responsibility.  He was the father of nine children, Caroline Ethel, George Urban, Charles Henry, Vernon, Floyd Leon, Mabyn, Jessie and Irma.  Three of his children preceded him in death; Charles Henry, Floyd Leon and Mabyn.

            May he ever be remembered for the good he did in this world.


Owner/SourceRuby Potter
Linked toGeorge Wilson Valantine, Jr.

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