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History of Olive Andelin Potter by Ruby Potter Valantine



History of

 

Olive Andelin Potter

 

by

 

Ruby Potter Valantine

 

            I imagine my grandparents were very surprised when a little red-headed girl was born to them as they both had medium brown hair.  She was born 6 Sept. 1868 in the 13th ward in Salt Lake City.  She was the second child of Olof Anderson and Maria Lofdahl Andelin.  The oldest was Olof Whilhelm, then Olive (as she was named), Herman August, Amanda Melvina, Mary Ann, Ordenia Henrietta, Cordelia and Willard Joseph.

            Grandpa was a mason.  Often his work took him away from home.  He finally settled in Santaquin, Utah Co. when Mama was quite small.  He bought a home there – had cows, chickens, a garden, and a small orchard.  Mama always remembered the luscious peaches.

            Mama had some remarkable qualities, a few of her character traits she had to overcome.  She was quite a tease – was obstinate and stubborn.  In one way that was beneficial for when she felt she was doing right, nothing could change her.  She was seldom angry.  If she found herself in a dangerous situation, she would laugh and treat it as a joke.  She was never pugnacious.  All of the family wore wooden shoes to school.  The big boys would delight in stepping on the back of the shoes causing them to fall off – they would pull her long braids and call her “carrot-top”.  She would cry but would take it.  But let any one bully her brothers or younger sisters and she would battle for them with eyes blazing with temper.  She was sensitive and never pushed herself forward.  She was very honest.  Her word was as good as her bond.  She was humble and sincere.  Mama loved the Lord and served Him gladly and willingly all the days of her life.  Because of her stubbornness she lost her first lovely doll.  Her father had brought her a china doll head and her mother stuffed a body for it.  Against their wishes she took it with her when she went to get water at the spring.  The doll fell on the rocks and was broken.  She cried for days over her loss.

            In a few years Grandfather sold his home in Santaquin for $150.00, and went to Richfield, Sevier Co., where he joined the United Order.  Mama’s memories of that time weren’t pleasant.  The children ate in the kitchen, apparently without supervision.  The big boys and girls grabbed most of the food, the timid ones had what was left.  The flies were so thick that Mama couldn’t relish what she did get.  The Order wasn’t successful.  When it was disbanded, Mama was happy.

            While the family were in Richfield, Mama was baptized in the old mill stream by her father.  She went to school until she had completed the 5th grade.  That was the extent of her formal education but she read and studied all her life.  She later taught her children to speak good English and encouraged all of them to seek for an education.

            Mama’s brothers, Olof and Herman were very self-reliant and efficient.  Grandpa had been called to Manti to work on the Temple there.  He left his family in Richfield.  The boys took care of the indoor work.  One winter when she was only thirteen, she worked for a woman who was expecting a baby.  She did all the work, even mad the baby clothes.  For her winter’s work, she received $2.50.  She spent the money buying gifts for the family.

            The weather was severely cold the first year Grandpa was in Manti.  The cow’s teats even froze.  They had scarcely any feed for them.  Through the kindness of the neighbors, who gave them straw, the cows lived, although later in the spring one died.  No doubt it died because of lack of food.

            Grandpa wanted his family near him so he purchased eighty acres of land in the farming district called Dover, which must have been to the west of Manti.  There was a small, two room house on the property, but it was poorly built and full of cracks.  The country was flat and barren, with only a few trees to be seen.  In the winter the blizzards blew snow in the house.  In the summer it was unbearably hot.  Grandpa added more rooms and tried to make it livable.  Mama never liked it there.

            In order to bring the furniture up from Richfield, a neighbor was hired to take care of it and Mama was to help him.  They made the trip several times.  It must have been in the fall as they had trouble getting through the snow, the horses got sick, one was balky and wouldn’t go.  They were days on the trip when it should have taken only two at the most.  It was really dangerous for them both but Mama didn’t realize the risks they were taking.

            Mama was sensitive about her appearance, although now some of the freckles were fading.  As I remember, Mama’s skin was clear and lovely.  She rubbed oil on her hair to darken it and keep the curl out, for her hair sort of flew out around her face.  It wasn’t curly enough to curl tightly – too curly to lie flat.  She must have been developing into a lovely, pretty woman, only she didn’t realize it, and didn’t know how to make the best of her good looks.  She was physically full grown.  She stood five feet five inches tall, was perhaps 125 pounds.  She never did get heavy, but she was large boned.  Her eyes were topaz, yellow with flecks of green and brown, and her nose was rather large.  She wasn’t emotionally mature for she had been too sheltered at home.

            While living at Dover, she met Papa.  He was eighteen years older than she and had a wife and five children.  He was of medium build – five feet ten inches in height – and had black hair and blue eyes.  It did not seem strange to Mama that he should come courting her as many people were then practicing polygamy.  Mama was flattered.  Papa was handsome, a pleasant, vivacious talker and made her feel important.  She didn’t realize that he wasn’t able to keep his one family comfortable, how then could he keep two?  She believed in the principle of polygamy, didn’t listen to the protests of Grandma, and no doubt was stubborn too.  It ended by them going to the Salt Lake Endowment House to be married with his first wife’s consent.  They were married 7 July 1884 and Mama became Mrs. Wallace Edwin Potter.  She realized too late that she had made a mistake.  She was not yet sixteen.

            Papa’s first wife was Harriet Susan Kempton.  We always called her Aunt Hattie.  She was a good woman but very jealous and there was friction between the families all the time.  Aunt Hattie blamed Mama for the poverty and hardship she had to endure which was no more than before Mama came into the family.  Because of this, Mama tried to live by herself as much as possible and make her own way.  Because of her sweet attitude, none of her children became bitter over polygamy.

            After the marriage Aunt Hattie went to Idaho for awhile.  Mama and Papa came back to Dover to care for Aunt Hattie’s children until she returned.

            Papa couldn’t make enough money to support two families.  Aunt Hattie had thirteen children and Mama seven.  Papa had a good mind and learned easily but had no talents in making money or keeping it.  Mama worked all her married life to support her children and herself by housecleaning, washing, sewing, white washing, tending mothers in confinement – anything and everything.  The wages were meager and the work long and hard.  Papa did give Mama money occasionally but not enough to count.  Mama worked beyond her strength and went without proper food.  Every year or so she would take her little family and go back to her parents, who now lived in Richfield, to recuperate.

            I remember Papa somewhat.  He was adventuresome and daring.  He would ford streams instead of crossing over the bridge just to hear everyone scream and get excited.  Sometimes the water would be high and the wagon box would start to float away.  He would take chances going down steep dugways, and we children would have our hearts in our mouths.  One time I remember seeing a black bear.  I think he did these things because he couldn’t stand his life as it was – with no visible means of changing it.  The drab future – the mounting debts – the tensions and troubles with his families.

            I was their fourth child and was born in Richfield, Utah 23 Sept. 1892 in my Grandmothers home.  I had three older sisters, Olive Pearl, Myrtle Ann, Mary Melvina, and Myreel, Wallace Edwin and Lenore were younger than I.

            Mama stayed in Richfield for about sixteen months.  She couldn’t face going back where Papa was without any means of support, especially as she had her four little girls.  She decided then to go to Salt Lake and work so she could send money to Grandma for our care.  She worked hard in Salt Lake.  At first she only made $10.00 a month.  One place where she worked was in a rooming house.  She had to wash the linen every day for about twenty rooms, clean each one of these rooms and do other work besides.  She finally got work with the Gilmore family on 9th S. and 9th E.  He was a wealthy mining man.  They had a beautiful home set in a park-like estate.  Here Mama earned $20.00 a month doing everything but the washing.  She arose at five o’clock winter and summer, made fires in the big house to warm it so the family could dress, served the meals in courses and learned what it means to be a hired girl in an exclusive home.  Yet, in their way, they were kind to her.  When she left them, they gave her trunks full of their clothes.  I wore made over Gilmore dresses almost all of my younger life.

            Myrtle Ann had been on a visit to Papa and Aunt Hattie and had stopped in Salt Lake to see Mama.  When she got home she became ill with diphtheria.  A week later she died.  Mama came from Salt Lake the day before she died.  That night she had a vision.  She saw a ship that had come to take her away.  Two little girls, her dead Aunts, were there to take her hand.  She wanted to kiss everyone goodbye, which couldn’t be done, and then said she was going to sleep.  Mama and Grandma were alone, Grandpa wasn’t allowed at home.  The two women prayed so fervently that Myrtle didn’t go with her Aunts.  She suffered agonies from then until the next night when she died by choking.  All the family had the disease, except me, and all safely recovered.  This was a severe blow for dear Mama to bear – not even her husband to comfort her.

            Mama went back to Salt Lake for a few years more.  In the fall of 1899 she went to Midway with Papa and took Mary and me.  Pearl stayed in Richfield with Grandma.  Aunt Hattie was also living in Midway.  Papa bought a house for Mama – on room and a shanty.  On the same lot he had a blacksmith shop.  We were there about a year.  My sister Myreel was born there 26 April 1900.  Later the house was sold for $160.00, I think.  In the summer of 1900 Mama moved down to Provo.  She wanted her family to have an education.  She rented a house, got furniture on credit from the Taylor Furniture Store and took in boarders to make a living.  Papa gave her the first month’s rent.

            Another tragedy soon came to Mama.  Mary got sick but with a strange malady that was hard to diagnose.  She became listless and very tired.  Mama sometimes thought she was lazy.  She kept getting weaker until finally when the doctor was called it was too late.  He said she had diabetes.  She died 4 Oct. 1900 – just four years, lacking 14 days, after Myrtle had died.  My sisters were very pretty girls.  Myrtle had brown hair and eyes, Mary black curly hair and blue eyes.

            It was hard on Mama to lose another of her children.  She was quite ill that fall.  One time for six weeks she suffered intensely with inflammatory rheumatism.  Pearl was with us then.  She had to do the work.  I just helped a little.

            After that first year we moved nearer the University.  We got a place at 674 N. 2nd E. Mama again took in boarders.  There was a big table in the kitchen and the boarders sat around it.  After supper there would be jokes, stories, and such gayety that it was difficult to clear the table and do the dishes.  There were several musical people living with Mama.  Uncle Willard was one.  We had music around all the time – piano playing, singing, exercises done over and over.  I loved it all.

            My only brother, Wallace, was born 18 Dec. 1902.  I had to stay home from school to help Mama.  Before the baby Lenore was born 18 Jan. 1906, Mama had given up the boarders and was taking in washings.  We only rented the back part of the house then.  Other people rented the front part.  I didn’t like the washings.  The house was always full of clothes – we were working early and late.  I missed the sociability of the boarders, but it seemed the best that my sweet Mother could do.

            After Lenore was born we moved to 911 E. Center St.  Here Mama continued to take in washings and also did ironing.  She was always tired, always weary, but never grumbled.  She always had a smile for everyone.

            We missed the cow that we had had.  Often times our food was most meager – not too good for growing children, nor for Mama who worked so hard.  At least when we kept boarders we had a fairly good living.  Mama began to suffer with her heart and stomach.  She was never free only for short periods from these ailments as long as she lived.

            Papa and Aunt Hattie came to Provo a year or so after we did.  They kept boarders in the building on 5th N. and University Ave.  The building is still standing.  Papa had a little jewelry shop in the building downstairs.  After they left Provo, they moved out to Vernal, where Papa took up some land.  We never saw him again.  He died at the age of fifty nine of a heart attack in Oct. 1909.  Mama couldn’t go to the funeral because of no money.  His oldest daughter, Rosetta, came up from Eureka and waited at our place for a train to start her on the journey to Vernal.  Mama took her 15 blocks to the depot at midnight in a driving rain – wheeling the baby buggy down with her luggage in it.  She came home, by herself, crying all the way.  She was now completely alone.  Even though Papa contributed very little to the family income, yet there was a tie and a knowledge that she had a husband even though he wasn’t with her.  She felt very desolate and forsaken.

            Papa loved her very much.  She respected and was true to him.  No doubt she could have truly loved him if they had been able to live a normal life.  He was a better man for knowing her.  She was gentle, kind and gracious.  She was refined.  Poverty could not take those qualities away.  Papa had a violent temper.  He was cruel to animals and whipped his other children but he was always kind and good to us.  My memories of Papa are brief but not unpleasant. 

            I found, at one time, a piece of torn letter which Papa had written to Mama (no doubt from Vernal).  “Oh, my troubles are many, My pleasures are few, Only one thing I wish, And that is to see you.  For you are in my thoughts, Both night and day, And but for thinking of you, I might go astray.  For I am fed on the thought That the day is very night.  That you and your little ones, Is all I’ll have to stand by.”  “Please keep these little verses as they are my own composing and they are also true in every word.  Please copy them in good style.”  Here the letter was torn but on the opposite side it said, “I took you in the Endowment House and I thought of the enjoyment and also the trouble and heartache that I have experienced since then, and also how it would all end if the time was close by when I could again take you to my bosom as of yore without fear of doing wrong.  It seems sometimes that I can hardly stand it, the way things is.  My children sympathize to quite an extent, with their Mother, and seem to think that I, in connection with you, is the cause of all the trouble that she has or ever had or ever will have.  You will not be surprised to lear” ---here the letter ends.

            I can feel his longing for Mama in this letter and my heart feels tender toward him.  His heart must have been troubled many times because he knew not which way to turn.

            Around 1906-7 everyone in Utah was very excited over mining.  Some rich strikes had been made and stocks were jumping.  Uncle Olof, who was generally so conservative, became interested and bought stock.  Even Mama and I bought some shares.  I had been picking berries every summer.  Uncle Olof had planned to buy Mama a home when he sold his stock.  But, alas, he waited too long.  The bubble burst and he lost everything and it was years before he paid off the debts he got through stock buying.  I’ve often wondered how our lives might have been had we got that house.

            The spring after Papa died I quit school and went to Arizona to teach.  Pearl was to be married in the fall and I had to take over to help support the family.  She was living in Snowflake.  If I remember correctly, my brother, Wallace, went back with her after she and her husband, Chase Rogers, were married in Salt Lake.

            My first year of teaching was in Lakeside, a small community thirty miles south of Snowflake.  I lived with my Aunt Manda who had married and gone there with her husband.  I had been in Lakeside one year when I induced Mama to come out and stay with me.  Her health had been constantly getting worse and we were worried about her. 

           In the summer of 1911 she came to Arizona with Myreel and Lenore, I think Wallace was already there.  Myreel stayed with Pearl in Snowflake so she could teach school.  Myreel studied at home.  Mama, Wallace and Lenore came to Lakeside with me.  We bought a tent, had the sides boarded up to the eves, had a board floor, and an extra fly for warmth in the winter.  There were cracks in the floor and walls where the wind whistled through bringing snow and rain.  It didn’t seem to bother us too much.  We had shelves put up for dishes, books and clothes.  It was quite pleasant in there when it was finished.  Mama had to get up in the cold and deep snow one time and put the stove pipe back on.  I helped what I could.  It had blown down in the night.  One time the wind blew so hard it blew the smoke from the stove into the tent.  That was worse than getting the stove pipe back up.  What a mess to clean!

            Mama loved every bit of it.  The people were friendly and sociable.  Mama got well again.  Every Sunday many people would congregate at the Potter Tent where we would play games, visit and have refreshments. 

            My Grandfather died in the spring of 1912 from an operation for stones in the bladder.  Grandma wanted Mama to come to Richfield to live with her.  So Mama had to leave Lakeside where life had been strenuous in one way but easy in another – no washing, ironing or working for others.  Now it would all begin again.  Before she left everyone from miles around came to the Tent and gave her a surprise party.  What fun everyone had!  Mama had had very few parties, in fact I can think of only one other time.  It was when all her family who were in Salt Lake gave her a lovely party for her 50th anniversary, 17 July 1934, even though Papa had been dead all those years.

            Pearl’s husband, Chase, drove all of us to Holbrook where Mama took the train for Utah.  On the way we visited the Petrified Forest.  Coming back one horse went lame and we got to Snowflake at one o’clock in the morning.  Again I can’t remember if Myreel and Wallace returned with Mama at that time.

            Grandpa had sold his big house to Uncle Herman and had begun another one on the corner.  Two rooms and a one room basement had been finished.  Grandma said Mama could have the house and lot if she would finish the house.  Again she had to work to do it.  I was sending home half of my salary but that wasn’t much as it was only $75.00 a month for 8 months of the year.  Mama did everything.  She took care of confinement cases, cleaned and pressed suits, worked in hotels, sewed at home and away and took care of invalids.  Pay was small.  She generally had a garden and a cow which did help some with their living.

            When the house was finally finished it was pleasant and comfortable but again she expanded.  There was a room put on the back for Grandma’s own – then a small kitchen and bedroom added.  That was so Mama could rent the front part for a little income, and perhaps ease up on some of the outside work.

            Pearl was in Richfield the summer of 1914 and took Myreel back with her.  She studied at home and reported at school once a month to take examinations.  That spring she graduated from the 8th grade with honors.  She tended baby Rex that winter so that Pearl could teach.  She returned to Richfield and took her high school there.

            Mama went back to Arizona again to be with Pearl who was now living in Linden on a ranch.  I think it was the winter of 1917-18.  Lenore and Wallace were there at that time.  Myreel was home with Grandma.  Wallace had been there two or three years – had been with Pearl on the ranch, had worked on construction work with Chase and had spent one year in Snowflake going to school there.  I think they all returned that spring.

            While Myreel was in High School she had a tonsillectomy and also an appendectomy but recovered nicely from both.  Lenore was still in High School when she had a ruptured appendix and was only cured by the Power of the Priesthood.  She had a draining tube in her side for about three weeks.  She suffered intensely after the operation.  The following year she had typhoid fever for almost three months.  Again it was only through faith and prayers that her life was saved.  Mama nearly lost her life too, through worry and being without rest day and night.  Pearl came from Arizona to help and left her four young children at home with a sister-in-law.  She gave generously of her time and money at this critical time.  I was unable to come as my second baby, Helen, was only about two weeks old.

            My Grandmother died in 1921 from a heart attack while in Salt Lake.  Grandpa also died in Salt Lake, but both are buried in Richfield.

            Wallace had gone to Salt Lake to work in December 1923, he married Viola (Bobby) King.  After Lenore recovered from typhoid she went to Salt Lake to visit them.  Myreel had also married and was living in Salt Lake.  Lenore wanted to stay there and work so Mama moved up to Salt Lake to be with her.

            Mama rented the home in Richfield but had poor luck with renters.  They let the place go to  pieces and wouldn’t pay their rent half the time.  Mama finally sold it for $1600.00.  I could weep when I think of it.  That house was built with courage, with sacrifice and with back-breaking toil and was sold for a song.

            At first Mama and Lenore lived with Myreel until they could rent a place of their own.  Lenore got work as a stenographer and continued this work after she was married except for short intervals.  Mama lived with her and took care of the house and children so Lenore could work.

            In 1926 Mama had a nervous breakdown.  This was before Lenore was married.  She had been with Pearl in Snowflake and the doctor told her she should go to a lower altitude as her heart was very bad.  She came to Los Angeles where I was then living.  Val (my husband) took us to Venice where we rented a couple of rooms.  I had my little girls, Lora and Helen, with me.  Val would come down on week-ends.

            At first Mama could scarcely walk to the beach.  There she would lie in the warm sand with the health giving sea-breezes blowing over her.  She grew stronger every day and was able, before we left, to get out in the water to wade.  It was wonderful to see her recovery.

            Back in Salt Lake again and with Lenore, she went through the depression.  For awhile Lenore and her husband, Clayton, had to have relief.  The welfare products given them were mostly starches: flour, rice, beans, cornmeal, etc.  They got skim milk and buttermilk at a nearby dairy very cheap so they lived on pancakes.  M-m-m delicious!

            I was in Salt Lake in 1934 when our Saralyn was born so I know about those delectable pancakes.  I can see Mama now sitting on a stool by the stove baking innumerable pancakes.  My children enjoyed them as much as did Lenore’s and also my brother’s boys who were there most of the time.  I’ll carry that picture in my memory always.  I wish I could paint her as she is in my memory: Wrinkles of care on her sweet, patient face, tiredly drawing in her breath, yet always serving – always doing for others.  How good her home-made bread was!

            Mama was industrious and saving, always making rugs from rags, sewing quilt blocks, making clothing for the grandchildren.  She was always wanting to get all the rags and pieces done up.  They worried her – they were too many and she was too tired.  When she died they were still there.

            I have always rejoiced that I could be in Salt Lake when Saralyn was born.  I rented a house just around the corner from Lenore’s and for six months I could visit with and be near my Mother.  I could see how she was failing, how tired she was.  All of us wanted her to take it more easy but that was not her way.

            Wallace had been divorced from Bobby and a second wife named Merle.  But he had married again and everything seemed rosier and better.  He had his two sons, Delin and Mauray, with him.  Before they had been boarded out or had been with Mother at Lenore’s.  Delin was with Lenore more than Mauray.  While I was in Salt Lake I had gotten closer to Wallace.  It had been years since I had really been around him.

            In the fall of 1934, I received a telegram that Wallace had died from an appendectomy.   He was only thirty-two years old.  One can imagine the shock it gave me and what it must have done to Mama.  It was almost more than she could stand.  He was her only son and she had loved him devotedly all his life.

            About eighteen months after he died, she became “too tired” to gake (?) anymore.  She went to bed, saying, “I’ll feel all right soon and be up tomorrow.”  But that was not to be.

            It was Easter vacation in Los Angeles so I took Saralyn with me and went to Salt Lake.  I stayed for one week and did what I could for Mama.  Nothing much could be done.  I would prop her up on pillows so she could get a breath of air, give her a little medicine.  I couldn’t stay longer because of school.  After I left Lenore couldn’t care for her as she was working.  Mama needed care that can only be found in the hospital.  She became some better.  She would write sweet letters to me and to Lora and Helen, saying, in part, “The swelling in my legs is almost gone.  I am anxious to be home for the weather is grand.”  She also told about the flowers and gifts she received on Mother’s Day.

            On May 15, she quietly slipped away to the great beyond where she would feel no more pain and never be “tired” again.

            From an autopsy performed by the doctors it was found that a certain muscle holding the heart had snapped at the time of Mama’s death but the heart itself was sound.  There was also a tumor on her pancreas which had ruptured and caused internal bleeding.

            Again I went to Salt Lake to bid good-bye to my darling mother.  She was in her casket at Lenore’s living room.  She looked so sweet and peaceful.  She was loved by everyone as was shown by those who came to the house and to the services to honor her memory.  The chapel was full of flowers.  Bishop George E. Wooley and Bishop Samuel T. Bennion spoke at the funeral.  One of the songs sung was “The End of a Perfect Day.”

 

            The following poem was written by Lenore.

 

A woman sits by the fireside and rocks a babe on her breast,

‘Til the little one sleeps, then lays her in her downy cradle nest.

She softly kisses her sleeping eyes, she kisses her forehead white

And whispers low, with a happy smile, “God bless my girl tonight.”

 

A Mother is reading a letter from one who’s far away,

“How can our girl go wrong,” she says, “When loving Mothers pray?”

Her daughter says, “Your prayers for me will keep me strong and right.”

I know she’s true where’er she be – “God bless my child tonight.”

 

Oh, Mother of mine, I dream of days when you were all the world to me

There in my childhood’s happy home, your smile so heavenly sweet I see.

There at your knee my prayers were said, Your voice sang songs in music sweet,

You reigned supreme in that dear place, I humbly worshipped at your feet.

Mother of mine, the years are long and yet it seems but yesterday

That I, a carefree laughing child joined in the games that children play,

Nor did I dream of the hours you’d spend in anxious prayer on bended knee

Nor thought I’d ever cause you grief – Mother of mine – but now I can see.

            I wish I could express my love for her in the language of poets.  I can only say her influence was with me always.  She was always quietly doing good – always helping others.  I know she was imposed upon by those who should have been most tender of her.  But she never complained, nor would she let any of her children complain about it.  She never spoke unkindly of those who imposed on her.  She did for people in need even though she was a widow almost thirty years and in poverty all the time.  She was a faithful Relief Society Visiting Teacher nearly all her life.  She wanted to do Temple Work but took care of duties near at hand – the care of Lenore’s children as she had to work.  Mama had a fervent testimony of the Gospel.  I have heard her express it many times.

            We, her children, can be proud of the heritage she left us.  Truly we were born of good parents.



Owner/SourceRuby Potter
Linked toOlive Andersson Andelin

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