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Marriage of Ralph Cutler and Virginia Louise Burton

Written by Alice May Cutler, contributed to Familysearch by Ted Walker

Ralph and Virginia Cutler: Marriage

Marriage to Virginia Louise Burton Written by Alice May Cutler, 1976 Ralph Cutler returned from his mission to Salt Lake City a very sick young man and collapsed at his Aunt Eliza's home. For several days his life hung in balance and the family and close friends gathered around him. During the critical hours of his illness, the well known Salt Lake photographer and member of the 20th Ward, C. R. Savage, remarked, "Brother Ralph won't be with us very long." Little did he know of the Lord's mission for Ralph Cutler. Though he passed through a severe siege of sickness during November, December and January, "through the kind providence of the Lord" and the loving care of his sister and aunt, he gradually recovered. By springtime, 1901, Ralph had regained much of his strength and made a wise decision to engage in the Market Gardening business with his brother, Frank. Whereupon, he transferred his church membership to' the Farmers' Ward (since renamed McKinley) and boarded with his brother Frank and wife Mary at their rented home on the corner of 3rd East and 17th South. Of his first experience in the Market Gardening business, he wrote, "We are both green but ambitious and had a lot of experience to gain in growing vegetables. Frank had about three acres of good garden land where he lived and we rented another piece on State Street south of Husler's Mill, part of it in meadow hay. The first year we got a lot of experience, experimenting on growing different things such as cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, spinach, green onions, dry onions, beets, carrots, potatoes, etc. At the end of the first year we found we had made expenses, paid the rent of the land and bought a team and wagon and paid for my board but that was the extent of it, but we found out that we could make money if we could just grow the stuff. “As our experience increased and we got to better understand marketing and growing of garden stuff, we gradually increased our income and improved our financial condition. We gave up the Husler Mill land and rented the old Pioneer Nursery property at the corner of State St. and 21st South which we farmed one year but gave it up as poor garden land and rented five acres on West Temple from Brother Twiggs which we farmed several years and did very well because it was good land. We also rented five acres from Van Cotts between Main and West Temple and did well because it was good land. "It was at this time I was appointed Superintendent of Religion Classes for Farmers' Ward which I conducted during the winter of 1901-2 and it was a difficult assignment as it required leaving my farm work early in the afternoon and going home, washing up and changing clothes and going to the Ward Chapel and supervising the exercises of the Religion class organization. It was finally abandoned and emerged into the Seminary method of teaching Religion on week days." While attending the meetings at Farmers' Ward, Ralph Cutler met a young, shy but good looking school teacher, Virginia Louise Burton. He saw her singing in the choir one day and remarked to a friend, "That is the girl I am going to marry!" The courtship started in the fall of 1901 when he took her home from Stake Conference. "I was attracted to Virginia by the fact that she was a devoted and active Latter-day Saint, that she had the glow of health in her rosy cheeks, a sensible girl with a motherly bearing and that she came from a highly respectable and prominent Latter-day Saint family. “What more could I ask than being loved by such a girl, especially when I told her she was marrying a sick man, but she was willing to take the risk. For over 50 years of married life she has proved a loyal and devoted companion and a wise and prudent counselor and wonderful mother to our eight children." Virginia Louise, known to family and friends as "Genie," was the youngest daughter of General Robert T. Burton, 1st counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church and Sarah Anna Garr. She was living at the family residence at 2406 South State Street on a 90 acre farm and had been teaching at the Jackson School (7th West and 1st North) for approximately three years. Each Sunday for three years she had also instructed over 50 primary students in Sunday School in the Farmers' Ward. There she met the handsome, eligible, returned missionary, Ralph Cutler, when he moved into the ward. His brother Frank had been a member of the ward for several years and taught the Theological class in Sunday School so that he was very well acquainted with Virginia Burton. Because Ralph Cutler had little money to spend courting, he frequently bicycled the mile and a half to the Burton farm home to visit Virginia Louise Burton. Once he tried to teach her the art of ice skating but gave up the sport when he found that her legs absolutely refused to cooperate. Another time feeling rather affluent, he took her to see the Salt Lake Theater performance of Julius Caesar. As the courtship progressed she became hesitant about marrying him (Ralph Cutler recalls it as being very "uppity"), possibly due to the stigma, prevalent in those days, of the mental condition of his mother. He stopped courting her for a month. Virginia's very dear friend, Clarissa Alice Beesley, with whom she taught school, said of Ralph Cutler, "He was a very happy young man, a very kind, good man and a hard worker." She urged Virginia to "marry him for he comes from a very good family." By the time Ralph Cutler resumed the courtship a month later, Virginia was more than eager to continue the romance. They were officially engaged on April 18, 1902 and immediately started making plans for a September wedding. [Although Virginia was officially engaged on the above date, she did not receive an engagement ring until (it is believed) their silver wedding anniversary September 24, 1927. Ralph Cutler presented the diamond ring to her in front of all their children as they were seated around the kitchen table eating their supper. The Cutler farm by this time was prospering very well.] The young couple pooled their resources and designed a one bedroom, four room cottage to be built on a 50 foot lot Ralph Cutler had purchased on 20th South and Main Street. Virginia Louise had some Zion Benefit Building Society Stock on which they borrowed $1000 and with some savings Ralph had accumulated, they were able to hire Whitman and Eardley to build the home. Two years later it was completely paid for. In the ensuing months, Virginia Louise Burton obtained her endowments in the Salt Lake Temple (June 13, 1902) and added some very fine items to her trousseau; a complete set of twelve silver plated, place settings with some very fine linen table cloths and napkins all inscribed with the initial "C" and bed linens and pillow cases beautifully embroidered by her sister, Ada, with the initial "C". Her wedding dress, made by the family dress maker, Mrs. Kunsler, was of beautiful, white transparent organza-like material trimmed in lace; a border of tiny pleats completed the skirt and the front panel of the blouse and sleeves. A wide satin ribbon surrounding the waist with a wide bow in the back completed the gown. Four days before the marriage took place, Robert T. Burton met his wife, Sarah, in town to select some furniture for the young couple; six oak dining room chairs with leather seats, a small round oak side table, an arm chair and rocking chair. Virginia selected her mother's birthday, September 24th, for her wedding day. It was a family wedding, Clarissa Alice Beesley being one of the few guests other than Burton and Cutler family members invited. Since both the bride and the bridegroom were from polygamist families, a family wedding was by no means a small affair. Nearly all of the 27 sons and daughters of Robert T. Burton, by his three wives, and their families attended the wedding reception in the Burton home. Her sister Ada prepared all the refreshments. Her father recorded a brief glimpse of the events of this important day in his daily journal. "Wednesday Sept. 24, 1902: At the office at the usual time this morning and at 9:45 sent a carriage to bring my wife Sarah and daughter Virginia Louise to the temple. I repaired there with Mrs. Burton at 11 a.m. At 11:30 Virginia was married to Ralph Cutler. Ceremony performed by President John R. Winder. At 12:30 p.m. I came to the farm with the bridal party and remained here the rest of the day. In the evening all my sons and daughters and their companions came to the farm house with some near friends and we had a most enjoyable time together until 12 at night. Very warm indeed." Virginia remembered the day years later with a chuckle, though somewhat chagrined, for Ralph Cutler forgot to bring his bride flowers for the reception. Nevertheless the Deseret News reported the event the following day as a most happy and festive occasion: Married In The Temple Yesterday Sept. 24, Ralph Cutler and Virginia Louise Burton were united in the bonds of matrimony, in the Salt Lake temple. Prest. John R. Winder performed the ceremony. The bride is the daughter of the well known and esteemed veteran, Robert T. Burton, of the presiding bishopric of the Church and his wife Sarah. The groom is a son of the late John Cutler. These two young people are a most estimable couple. A reception was .held in the evening at the family residence, 2406 South State Street. The gathering was quite large. Among the guests were Prest. Winder and wife, Lewis S. Hills and wife, Mrs. Thomas Cutler, Miss Jane Beamer, niece of Bishop Burton from Los Angeles, California; Bishop Heber J. Cutler and wife, Frank Cutler and wife, Mrs. Kimball and many other relatives and intimate friends. Three sections of Bishop Burton's family were fully represented. Among this class of the company were 15 of his sons, the remaining two of the 17 being detained by sickness. The occasion was one of great enjoyment. There was no cut and dried program, It was a social gathering in the genuine sense of the term. It was characterized by perfect freedom, and the time seemed to pass with unusual rapidity. The rooms were decorated with exquisite taste and the refreshments were all that could be desired. Among the features of the occasion were a number of delightful performances on the piano by Miss Maria Hills, granddaughter of the Bishop. The bride and groom were, as a matter of course, the center of attraction and congratulations were in order. They enter upon their marital career under favorable conditions, among which is the possession of a recently erected handsome home, situated on south Main Street." The marriage of this "most estimable couple" was the beginning of great blessings for the large posterity that followed as a result of this union. Among the treasured wedding gifts received by the young couple was a unique, solid oak rocking chair, the back of which was carved with monk-like characters seated against a Gothic style background drinking wine, a gift from Ralph Cutler's Aunt Eliza, hand painted china plates, cut glass bowl and water jug, sterling silver spoons, gold plated ladles and pie knife, a blue wedgewood plate and etc. Ralph and Virginia B. Cutler moved into their new home the day following the wedding. The dining room and kitchen were the only rooms finished. They had so little furniture that their tin bathtub served a dual purpose; turned upside down it became the kitchen table. Thus began a new life and challenge for the young couple. Virginia continued to teach Sunday School in Farmers' Ward until their first child, a son, was born on July 9, 1903. He was named Ralph Garr after his father and his maternal Grandmother Burton (Sarah Garr). Two years later, on April 26, 1905, another son, Douglas Burton, was born. He was named after his father's Uncle Hadley Douglas Johnson. Virginia's father always visited her after the birth of each child and again eight days later to name and bless the new little one. This same ordinance was performed again the following Fast and Testimony meeting in the Farmers' Ward. During those early married years, Ralph and Virginia Cutler occasionally entertained her family, particularly her father and mother and the remaining unmarried children. They remembered seeing their first automobile at this time (about 1905). Only the wealthy could afford one then. On his way home from his office, Robert T. Burton occasionally picked up his daughter, Virginia and her children in his carriage, driving them to the farm for a visit with her mother. Ralph and Virginia celebrated their first wedding anniversary at the farm in conjunction with her mother's birthday celebration which was also attended by all the posterity of Robert T. Burton and his wife Sarah, approximately 45 in number at this time. Their Sunday afternoons or evenings after church were spent at this beloved farm. On one such occasion, "thieves" took it upon themselves to ransack the new home of Ralph and Virginia Cutler while they were at the Burton farm home. It was reported by Robert T. Burton in his daily journal that they took "very little." On festive occasions such as Christmas day, the young couple joined the rest of the posterity of Robert T. Burton and Sarah Garr at the farm house for a "splendid time together. . .with music and singing until 10:30 p.m." Every year they attended the annual birthday celebration in honor of Virginia's father held October 25th. Soon after the first two sons were born, Ralph Cutler again fell very ill. The doctor who attended him, told the young wife and mother to prepare herself for "you will soon be a widow." Ironically, Ralph Cutler outlived the doctor who dared to make such a statement. Little did he know of the moral and spiritual strength of Ralph Cutler, who consistently disciplined himself to eat carefully and to avoid the rich and tempting foods which disagreed with his sensitive digestive system. Little did he know either of the determination and faith of Virginia Louise Burton Cutler, whose ever watchful care of her husband kept him alive and improved his health over the ensuing years. In 1904, Ralph Cutler was appointed Ward Clerk of Farmers' Ward and served under the direction of Bishop Henry F. Burton, his brother-in-law. The records of this ward were in such disorder when he took over the position that he had to work long hours to get them into proper condition. As to the progress of what turned out to be a good gardening business, Ralph Cutler wrote in his diary. "My brother and I gradually made progress in our garden business and as we increased in experience our income increased likewise... we finally built a greenhouse on my brother's property on Kensington Ave. 100 feet long and 28 feet wide and tried raising lettuce under glass as there was good demand for it at that time and we did very well for two seasons until the railroad was completed between Salt Lake and Los Angeles in 1906 and they began shipping head lettuce from the coast to the Salt Lake market which completely destroyed the demand for our leaf lettuce." In 1906 Ralph Cutler's brother, Frank, was called to preside over the Tahitian Mission and took his family with him. Ralph Cutler rented his own home then and moved into his brother's house in order to be close to the greenhouse to raise the plants, care for their team, do the marketing and generally run the market gardening business alone. Their eldest daughter, Geneve, was born in this home on June 5, 1908. In the meantime, Ralph Cutler looked for new land further out into the country. One day at the market, according to his own account, he met Sam Cornwall marketing strawberries and asked him if he knew of any land for sale. Brother Cornwall invited him to see his own land south of the city. Ralph Cutler liked the location and type of soil very much, so made a bargain to purchase 10 acres on 11th east and 39th south. His son, Douglas, remembered more details regarding this land purchase. "Father and Mother grew tired of renting land because every time they would get a piece of ground, improve it until it produced right, the owners would want to take it back. They had a piece of ground down by Husler Mill on State Street and 39th South which they had improved until it was "ship shape." Then the landlord wanted it back so father became very disgusted. One day Jimmy Lawrence came up on the market with some nice cauliflower. Father asked him where he lived that he could raise such nice stuff. Jim Lawrence told him where he lived on 11 East and Millcreek area. Father asked him if there was any land for sale out there and Jimmy Lawrence said, "Yes, there is twenty acres right south of where I live that belongs to Sam Cornwall and he says he wants to sell it." So father and mother hitched up a buggy the next Sunday and took a ride out to look at it. They liked it very much and were impressed with the good soil that the Millcreek had washed down onto the property. Father and Uncle Frank agreed to buy it. Uncle Frank took the south ten and father the north ten and started to build his house." Frank Cutler's health failed during the winter of 1908 after two years in Tahiti and he returned with his family sooner than expected. So Ralph Cutler moved his family next door to a home he rented from a neighbor, Frank Free. In the meantime they sold their first home on Main Street and planned a new home which was built in the spring and summer of 1909 on the new 10 acres they purchased. Ralph Cutler started the foundation of the house in February of 1909. In July they were given a farewell party in the Farmers' Ward and soon after moved their family into their new home. This home became the family residence for more than forty years. While raising their large family, Ralph and Virginia Cutler spoke fondly of the good times they had shared in their early married life in Farmers' Ward. The memories of their association with friends and family in this area never faded.


Owner/SourceAlice May Cutler
Date1976
Linked toRobert Taylor Burton; Virginia Louise Burton; Douglas Burton Cutler; Ralph Cutler; Ralph Garr Cutler; Sarah Anna Garr

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