by Ruth Hammond Barrus
Eighteen ninety-seven! The Golden Jubilee! Just think, thought father Hale, it has been nearly fifty years since Aroet, Rachel, Sol and I came over that dusty trail into Salt Lake Valley with our four tired oxen and two cows pulling our two wagons. The constant pressure of work to be done had made the time slip by quickly. And yet the picture of a saddened people leaving a burning Nauvoo and crossing icy rivers was as vivid to him as if it had just happened. Even though only ten at the time, he could still see his mother lying in a wagon box in the rear of their tent in far-away Council Bluffs, the family kneeling around her in prayer, pleading for her health and the life of the newly-born baby sister. Hundreds of the saints were dying of chills and fever, and the family were fearful that the mother in her weakened condition would also take the fever. It was a severe shock to the family when the father suddenly became ill. His father had called the children around him before he died. "Stand by the faith," he urged, "and continue on with Brother Brigham and Brother Heber to the Rocky Mountains. Do not be persuaded to turn back, even though our relatives insist upon it. Go with the church, and God will bless and preserve you."
Almost immediately after the burial of his father, his mother, the infant baby and a year and one-half old baby sister contracted the disease. His mother exacted a promise from her older children that they would carry out the wishes of their father. After they promised, she smiled sweetly and said, "I can now go to Jonathan" and passed peacefully into death. The tiny sisters soon followed in death, and all were buried in a common grave. That September of 1846, four children were orphaned with the words ringing in their ears - "Stand by the faith! God will bless and preserve you!"
They had been blessed and preserved, gratefully acknowledged father Hale to himself, and this Golden Jubilee was somehow a way to show the Lord that they appreciated these blessings. Father Hale walked into the kitchen and stated conclusively to his family, "Ma! We are going to be in Salt Lake City this July 24th to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Pioneers in Salt Lake Valley!"
Retta and Viola were speechless from the shock of such a statement from their father. In the past no amount of coaxing could induce their father to travel far from home because of the ill health of their mother. The teenage girls were dancing with excitement. "Can we go?" they sang. "They say the streets are lighted with electricity in Ogden and Salt Lake. Oh! Can we go?"
"Yes, you can go," their father returned.
Typically, the girls' thoughts next turned to what they could wear, and, typically, they didn't have a thing that would be appropriate for such an occasion. All smiles, mother Hale suggested, "We might make up that black voil." As the girls' faces clouded a little she hastily added, "We can put white stand-up collars and cuffs on them, little white buttons down the front, and have a pretty white belt." Gloom was expelled immediately, and the dresses soon began to take shape under the expertly trained fingers of mother Hale.
Father Hale had more important matters to consider than clothes. The only time he ever had anything to say about clothes was when his wife threatened to buy him some store clothes. He hoped he would never have to come to wearing store clothes. Yes, he had more important things to attend to - horses! If father Hale had a pet pride, it was his horses. He liked to own beautiful horses and he kept them shining and well fed. The significance of this trip seemed to call for an especially fine horse. As he looked them over he was attracted to one dapple-grey. She was young, strong, intelligent.
"Come here, Lark," he called. At mention of her name, Lark raised her head high and trotted over to father Hale to get the affectionate petting she was used to. "You aren't trained at pulling a surrey, but I'll bet you can learn, and I'll bet you can safely take us to Salt Lake and back." Lark may not have understood all that was said to her, but her confident stance gave sufficient answer.
The double-trees on the surrey were replaced by a single-tree, and Lark was harnessed to it. Each day she was given training in pulling the surrey until all felt certain that she was the horse for the trip.
Before dawn one morning Lark was brushed and hitched again to the surrey, this time to the accompaniment of the gay voices of Retta and Viola, as they piled food boxes, bedding and luggage in the carriage. They cushioned mother Hale against the jolting trip.
The journey took them through the same canyon they had traveled ten years earlier when the family had first moved to Smithfield. Retta remembered it had taken two wagons to hold their family then. Now Johnnie was on a mission, Katie had married and gone on a mission to Samoa with her husband, there sadly to die with her new-born baby. Grace and all the others were married, and only she and Viola were at home now, and she wouldn't be there long, for she was going to enter Brigham Young College that fall. Ten years can bring a lot of changes in a family, she thought.
Noon brought refreshment, rest and reminiscence. "How could you possibly have crossed the plains without your father and mother?" Retta asked her father, for looking at her parents she was filled with the realization of her dependence on them.
"We couldn't have," he answered, "if it hadn't been for the faith our parents instilled in us, and for the help of Brother Heber C. Kimball. He helped us get our equipment together and encouraged us all along the way. Rachel drove one team of oxen and Aroet drove the heavier wagon drawn by two oxen and our two cows. I was always glad when we would come to the smooth places or when Aroet would hunt buffalo, because then I was allowed to drive the oxen."
Mother Hale teasingly said, "Your Pa is never happier than when he has reins in his hands."
"Are we sure going to stay in a hotel tonight?" broke in Viola. Mother Hale again assured her that they would. The hotel belonged to a well-to-do relative whose daughter used to visit them in the summer on their farm. "Please, Aunt Sarah," she would beg, "let me play in dirt - real wet dirt!" This girl came to them dressed in such finery that mother Hale had to put one of Retta's old dresses on her before she could play in "real" dirt. Retta and Viola hoped they could shed some of their country dirt before staying with these relatives.
Improved roads made travel easier and faster than the trip ten years before, but it was dusk when the party approached Ogden. They had been in Ogden before, but this trip they were to see the miracle of electricity for the first time. A pinkish hue gathered above the city as light fought with the lowering dusk to push its way upward.
"The city almost looks afire," suggested Retta in awed voice.
The sight of bright lights atop tall polls illuminating a large circle cast a bewitching spell on everything. Objects, which in the day time were drab and commonplace, took on excitement in this new light. It set a new, faster tempo, and people responded to it with sparkling eye and eager gait.
Lark fell under its spell also, and he walked up to a pole and stopped, looking up at the lights, oblivious to the bit sawing in his mouth.
"Giddup, giddup!" called father Hale, slapping the reins. Lark paid no attention, but stood there looking up. The noise of a passing trolley next attracted Lark, and she started across the street toward it. Nothing father Hale could do would alter her course, and several drivers had to pull their horses quickly to a stop to avoid crashing into the Hale surrey.
By this time mother Hale was pulling on the reins too. "She'll kill us! She'll kill us, Pa, for sure!" she cried desperately.
It looked as if Lark were going to run right into the trolley, but within a foot of it she stopped and eyed it until it had passed. A bright object in front of a store still further across the street next attracted her, and she aimed for it, still across traffic. Father Hale was standing up in the surrey, calling loudly at Lark. Mother Hale was clinging desperately to the surrey frame, and Retta and Viola were poised ready to jump out if necessary - all of which attracted much attention. The deep gutter was all that prevented Lark from pulling the surrey up on the side-walk. It stopped with a jar. Father Hale jumped out and jerked the reins near the bit. It broke the spell. Lark looked down at father Hale as if to ask what he was so angry about.
"Now don't get excited, Ma! I'll lead him to the hotel, and you can bet he'll go where I want him to this time!" and father Hale jerked the reins again. The people attracted by such unexpected antics were laughing now, and it was a very red-faced father who led the now down-cast Lark to the hotel.
"We'll have to go home in the morning," said mother Hale as they were later discussing their problem. "We could never drive her in Salt Lake."
The disappointed cries of the girls caused their father to try to seek a modification. "I'll get up very early and go home and get another horse," he said. We'll miss one day of the celebration, but that would be better than missing it all."
Father Hale was quiet for some time, then he startled everyone by loudly saying, "I'm going to harness that darn horse again and take her out on those lighted streets and show her who is boss!"
"Not tonight," mother Hale pleaded; "she'll hurt you for sure!" (Mother Hale was always alert to danger as she was still suffering from her run-away accident which happened years earlier when a cart had been thrown on top of her, crushing her chest.)
Father Hale would not be delayed, and he went to harness Lark. An hour later he returned to the hotel, chuckling. "You don't need to worry anymore, Ma; Lark's a city slicker now. You've just got to give us country folks time to adjust to city life. Lark went through the city with his head high and proud this time. We'll go to Salt Lake in the morning!"
An early start the next morning and an obedient Lark got the Hales in Salt Lake in time to see President Woodruff unveil the imposing statue of Brigham Young. Tears stood in the eyes of father Hale as he thought of the many things this great man had done to shape his life. Turning to his two daughters he explained, in a quiet sincere voice, "It was President Young who helped make it possible to come to Salt Lake . . . He called me to act as an advance guide to the many incoming saints . . . He called me to help settle Grantsville . . . He sent me to Skull Valley to stop an Indian uprising . . . He made me a captain in the State Militia to contend with Johnston's Army . . . He called me on my two missions for the Church." Then father Hale paused long and added humbly, "And I was the least among my brethren."
There were four days of glorious celebration. Camps were set up all around the city where old friends could be together. It was wonderful meeting friends and relatives from Grantsville. Even mother Hale lost most of the weariness and pain caused by the trip in this wonderful reunion. The spirit that filled the air flooded it with memory, and the exchanged stories of those early days echoed from camp to camp. At night, young eyes peeped shyly above wagon boxes (where they should have long been closed in sleep) and gleamed with the light of a past life. Large groups of Indians, dressed in full paint and color, were camped on the fringe of the city, and their wanderings fully impressed the youngsters that these stories were real.
One morning Retta and Viola took the hands of their father and persuaded him to show them where his cabin was built when he first came to Salt Lake. The father took them two blocks west of Temple Square, on the north side of the street.
"It was agreed," father Hale explained, "that Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball should allot to the people their inheritance and apportion the city lots. Uncle Henry Harriman was assigned the south-east corner of this second block, and we children were assigned the one next to him on the west."
"How old were you then, father?" asked Retta.
"I was twelve than, Sol was nine, Aroet, twenty, and Rachel, nineteen. Just your age, Retta. Lucas Hoagland was with us too. He married Rachel soon after we finished the cabin. They were in love at Nauvoo before he was called to go with the Mormon Battalion. After he was released from the Battalion, he met us on the plains and helped us come into Salt Lake Valley."
"Was the cabin awfully hard to build?" asked Viola.
"Yes it was! said father Hale. "Materials were needed by everyone and were scarce. We hitched our four oxen to one wagon and went to the canyon for logs. We got more than we needed so that we could exchange some to pay for having lumber made at the sawmill. We were only allowed enough boards for one window frame and one door frame, as the demands for boards were so great. We took the end-gate of one of our wagons to make an adobe mold for bricks for our fireplace."
"What are adobes?" asked Viola.
"It is a clay mixture," explained father Hale, "that we put in the mold and dried in the sun. It took quite awhile to make us enough bricks from this one mold."
"Did the cabin take a long time to build?" asked Retta.
"We didn't have much time," said father Hale. "It was late September when we got here. But before the winter had closed in we managed to get a small one-room cabin built with a dirt roof and a dirt floor. We couldn't get a door or window, so we hung canvas to these openings."
"Was it awfully cold?" asked Retta.
"Rachel kept the fire burning brightly, but the cold crept in on us. Each morning we would sweep the snow out that had blown in through the cracks during the night. I think we felt the cold so badly because we had so little to eat. Everybody was short of food that winter. I used to herd cows on the hillside and if I got anything to eat at all, I had to dig through the snow and frozen ground for thistle roots and sego roots. For someone as hungry as I was, they tasted pretty good."
Retta and Viola thought of their boxes of delicious food in the surrey and wondered how it would feel to be that hungry. "How could you ever live on that?" asked Viola.
His thoughts were far away, he seemed not to have heard the question, and continued, "Real cold nights the five of us would huddle together close to the fireplace and wrap what quilts we had around us to keep from freezing. They were long nights, and we were glad for morning. Daytime, we kept busy finding feed for our stock and getting firewood."
Then father Hale, shaking off the unhappy memory of that first winter, added, "But the next summer we built a two-story home of adobes and put real windows and doors in."
Preparation along the street for the final parade of that memorable week brought them back to reality. "We must get Lark hitched up and mother driven where she can watch the parade," father Hale hastily reminded his daughters.Horses were not allowed along the five blocks of parade because of the congestion caused by 50,000 people gathered there. Father Hale, therefore, drove to the end of the street where the parade turned; he stopped Lark on the corner opposite so mother Hale could view the parade while sitting in the surrey.
What a thrill it was to the Hales to look up those five blocks, strewn with flags from every nation, and lighted with colored electric lamps, two stories high, spread from pole to pole on both sides of the street. President Wilford Woodruff led the mammoth parade this July 24, 1897. All hats came off at his appearance. Each county in Utah had sent its float, drawn by oxen or beautifully matched horses, with a queen atop, and decorated to show what industry was practiced in each county. The Indians were there, dressed to represent the old days. And the pioneers were there to acknowledge this time of rejoicing.
Lark enjoyed the parade as much as the family did. His head turned from side to side, following its movements. Suddenly coming toward them was a fifty-foot, hideously painted dragon, with smoke shooting from its eyes and mouth. Every few seconds, in accompaniment to its gyrations, its fanged mouth would open and close. All eyes were fixed on this hideous monster as it twisted and coiled toward them. As it approached the corner where the Hale surrey stood, instead of making the turn in the direction of the parade, it pointed directly toward Lark. Horses all around were rearing and stampeding in every direction. But Lark just stood there and faced the dragon! As it came closer to Lark, she leaned back in her traces, stiff-legged and breathing hard.
"Steady, Lark! Steady there!" father Hale pleaded.
Even when the dragon opened its mouth a foot from Lark's head she didn't move, though quivering in every limb. Barely avoiding disaster, the officials were finally able to direct the man-propelled dragon back into the parade.
It was a grateful owner that drove his dapple-grey back to camp that day.
In the afternoon, all the pioneers were to sit in a special place in the tabernacle. Retta and Viola in their freshly pressed black voils sat in their seats in the tabernacle and gazed gratefully at their parents in their special place for the pioneers. At an arranged time in the program, five thousand young children came forward and gave each pioneer a gold medal. The Lord wanted to show his appreciation for this people too, for a glorious spirit filled the tabernacle. There were few sitting there that day whose eyes were not rimmed with joyous, grateful tears.
The climax of the whole celebration was to take place that night when a grand display of fire works was to be set off high on Capitol Hill. Mother Hale's physical condition prohibited walking, so father Hale sought permission to drive up by the State Capitol. The authorities warned him against the advisability of it. Father Hale assured them that Lark was a proven horse. They consented on the condition that he would accept full responsibility if anything serious happened. Father Hale, unafraid, drove Lark up by the Capitol. There, horse and family thrilled to the last big tribute of the Golden Jubilee to the great pioneers who founded this state armed with faith and courage.
Above them the air was filled with bursting, sparkling lights and sound; below them stood the temple, the first time to be illuminated from the highest spire to the lowest visible bulwark by the miracle of electricity. The temple - a bright symbol that had motivated their past actions and which was now pointing the way for all future actions.