Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tanner 7: Margaret Godfrey Jarvis Overson

7 MARGARET GODFREY JARVIS OVERSON
b. 22 November 1878 St. George, Washington, Utah
m. 8 October 1896 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
d. 8 December 1968 Phoenix, Maricopa, Arizona
b. 11 December 1968 St. Johns, Apache, Arizona
Husband: Henry Christian Overson
Father: Charles Godfrey (DeFriez) Jarvis; Mother: Margaret Jarvis

Margaret Godfrey Jarvis, eldest child of Charles Godfrey DeFriez Jarvis and Margaret Jarvis, was born 22nd of November, 1878, at St. George, Washington Co., Utah, in the home of my grandparents, George and Ann Prior Jarvis. At age one year, my parents were in Snowflake, Arizona, in answer to a call by President Brigham Young, to help in colonizing Northern Arizona. Our home there was a one-room hewn log house with shakes roof. Most of the settlers had similar places.

My grandparents came from St. George to visit us in 1882, and while there Grandpa took us to Holbrook to see the first train that crossed the continent on the Atlantic-Pacific tracks. Father was there working for the Company.

We moved to Nutrioso in February 1883, where father, uncles Sam and Heber engaged in farming, stock raising, and also started a small store. Here our first home was in the old fort, a one-room log, with dirt floor and roof, one small pane of glass set in the logs for light, and a corner fireplace for cooking and warmth. Later father built a larger log room on a lot to ourselves, with a lumber floor and dirt roof, and some grain bins in one end.

We next moved to Woodruff, where father had work in the store. Our first brother was born there in May 1885. When he was two weeks old, father, Annie and the baby all took typhoid fever. It was months before they were all well, and when father was able, he worked a few months to settle his accounts, then went back to Nutrioso. Here an epidemic of scarlet fever was raging. It seemed to be all over the valley, in serious form, and many of the young children died. We all had bad cases except the baby, and it was summer before we were all well again. Thirteen young children died in that small town that winter and spring.

Here I hunted cows in the hills, gleaned wheat in the field, helped mother in the house, sewed quilt blocks and carpet rags, and when school opened, walked three miles each way, morning and night, to school, often in the snow and bitter cold. Here father baptized me in the river near our home, on the 6th day of April, 1887, under the direction of our bishop.

Our next move was to St. Johns, Arizona, where our home was for the next sixty years. I attended district school two winters, then the St. Johns Stake Academy was opened, and I attended part of three seasons, when father took me as his assistant in the Court House, where he was County Recorder. I was taught to record the different documents that came into the office in the proper books, was taught filing, record keeping, accounting, letter writing, etc. Thus ended my school days, and association with schoolmates.

Next father bought a photo outfit and set up a studio, and I was taught photography. This work was pleasing and agreeable, and I took to it with all my heart and energy. I have made it a pleasant and profitable lifelong business and hobby.

When in my teens, mother hired a dressmaker to come to our home two or three weeks each spring and fall to make our clothes for the season. I was always allowed to stay home from the office and help do the sewing, thereby getting a fairly good insight into general sewing and dressmaking. This has been a useful thing in raising my family, and helping in the community. After our marriage I always did all our sewing, and often earned a little by helping others with theirs.

My love and understanding of the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by the Latter Day Saints first came when I attended our Academy, and I have worked in the Sunday School, Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association, Relief Society, and the Genealogical Society, and studied our Doctrines all through the years, and have always had joy in performing my duties wherever called to labor. Have become acquainted with many of our Church leaders, and know them to be sincere and God-fearing men and women. I love this Church, and know that is the only true Church on the earth, and that the Priesthood of God is directing it. That Jesus Christ visited the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him, and that this Church was organized according to those instructions, and the pattern He gave.

Since all my family are on their own, and my husband was called home, I have moved here to Mesa, and my sons have built me a home on the lot Henry got for me twenty-two years ago. I am thankful for my children and my home, and am hoping to finish this book [George Jarvis and Joseph George DeFriez Genealogy], and if it may be a small benefit to any of my kindred, the purpose of the work will be fully realized.

Margaret Jarvis Overson. George Jarvis and Joseph George DeFriez Genealogy. Mesa, Arizona: Privately printed, 1957.

Sometime when you're in St. Johns take a visit to the little museum there. Many of the photographs were taken by Margaret Jarvis and her father Charles.

Mormon Trees

This is a picture from St. Johns in 1994. I thought I would share a few lines from Wallace Stegner's Essay "Mormon Trees" from his book Mormon Country (1942).

These are the "Mormon Trees," Lombardy poplars. Wherever they went the Mormons planted them. They grew boldly and fast, without much tending, and they make the landscape of the long valleys of the Mormon Country something special and distinctive....They give a quality to the land so definite that it is almost possible to mark the limits of the Mormon Country by the trees....There are not as many Mormon trees as there used to be...their age and possible heart-rot made them a hazard.

Perhaps it is fanciful to judge a people by its trees....Probably it is pure nonsense to see a reflection of Mormon group life in the fact that the poplars were practically never planted singly, but always in groups...Perhaps it is even more nonsensical to speculate that the straight, tall verticality of the Mormon trees appealed [to the] sense of order of the settlers, and that a marching row of plumed poplars was symbolic, somehow, of the planter's walking with God and his solidarity with his neighbors....

Nonsensical or not, it is not an unpleasant thought. Institutions must have their art forms, their symbolic representations, and if the Heavenward aspirations of medieval Christianity found their expression in cathedrals and spires, the more mundane aspirations of the Latter-day Saints may just as readily be discovered in the widespread plantings of Mormon trees. They look heavenward but their roots are in the earth.

Tanner 6: Henry Christian Overson

6 HENRY CHRISTIAN OVERSON
b. 9 July 1868 Ephraim, Sanpete, Utah
m. 8 October 1896 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
d. 8 March 1947 St. Johns, Apache, Arizona
b. 9 March 1947 St. Johns, Apache, Arizona
Wife: Margaret Godfrey Jarvis
Father: Ove Christian Oveson
Mother: Mary Kjerstine Christensen

Henry Christian Overson, first child of Ove Christian and Mary K. Christensen Overson, was born July 9th, 1868, in Ephraim, Sanpete County, Utah. The family was called by President Brigham Young to Arizona, to assist in making settlements on the Little Colorado River.

They went first to Brigham City, now Winslow, then on to St. Johns, where Henry helped put shingles on the first house shingled in St. Johns. Ploughing, planting, irrigating, freighting, riding the range and building, all had to be done, and Henry was ever ready to help at anything necessary.

He took up a farm, and planted alfalfa, and did well financially, by having a feed stable for travelers, so that from 1903 to 1905 he was able to go on to a Mission to England, and pay his own expenses. This was the period of his whole life that gave him the most joy and satisfaction, and he never tired of telling his children incidents of that happy time. He later sent three of his sons on Missions and was happy to do so, and gladly paid their expenses, that they might have a similar blessed experience.

During his married life he was a steady and hard worker, preferring to stay where he could be with his family at night, but doing anything he could get to do for a livelihood, or help his neighbors. He was alternately President, Secretary, Water Overseer, and Member of the Board of Directors of the St. Johns Irrigation Company, for more than thirty years, and it was largely due to his foresight and careful planning that all of the permanent improvements in the Company’s system were installed. These included cement dams in the river, blasting in rock to make part of ditches to avoid washing out in flood times, using culvert pipes with built up piers for the old wooden flumes, changing the location of ditches to avoid the run-off of summer rains, installing steel headgates for all main ditches, etc. All this was a blessing to the residents, who most all depended for much of their living on the products of farm, garden and orchard.

Another important thing was piping the water of the McIntosh spring into town, and distributing it to individual homes. Henry Overson had entire charge of installing the pipes from the spring to town, and to each home, and also the upkeep and extension work for several years. W.W. Berry did a great part of the teamwork, digging and covering of trenches, etc.

Henry was a good carpenter and builder, and was overseer of many of the substantial homes, public buildings, business houses, and the Church, Academy Building, etc. all of which were noted for solid construction. He served as secretary of the 104th Quorum of Seventy for many years, and was Counselor in the Bishopric of the Ward for about seven years. He was a kind and indulgent father, a good neighbor and friend, and a loving husband.

Overson, Margaret Jarvis. George Jarvis and Joseph George DeFriez Genealogy. Mesa, Arizona: 1957, ii:107–08. The pictures of Henry are from his wife's book. The other pictures are the Overson house in St. Johns in 1994. I just love his woodwork and I would love to have a front door like that! Henry's father was a Danish woodworker and also did beautiful work. Wallace Tanner was born upstairs in the Overson house.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Henry Tanner and the Hashknife Gang

Henry Tanner did not care for farming but he enjoyed working with cattle. In 1880 Henry became superintendent of the stock herd for the United Order in St. Joseph (Joseph City). Under his care the herd increased and was the only profitable business in the St. Joseph United Order.

When the United Order was "reconfigured," the herd was left intact under the direction of Henry Tanner. He received a share of the cattle in return for his work. This went on profitably until the Aztec Land and Cattle Company came to the Little Colorado Region in the mid 1880s. You can read elsewhere about the Aztec Land and Cattle Company, also known as the Hashknife Gang, but in short, it almost killed the settlements along the Little Colorado. Besides the impact on the grazing land, the off-duty cowboys were known to prey upon the horses and cattle of the settlers.