05 October 2014

Sarah Jane Tidwell Johnson (1846-1931)

SARAH JANE TIDWELL JOHNSON, as remembered by her granddaughter, Elma Taylor Haws. [Annotated by Mat Trotter October 2014]

My grandmother, Sarah Jane Tidwell Johnson, was born August 26, 1846 in a small camp named Zarahemly, Nebraska, [actually Zarahemla, Iowa named in Doctrine and Covenants 125:1-3] as her parents, John and Jane Smith Tidwell were crossing the plains. They had left Nauvoo with a company [The John Tidwell Company] of the Mormon Church, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley Sept. 5, 1853 [1852]. They moved to Pleasant Grove, Utah in June 1859 and then went south to Sanpete County, where they acquired enough land to  make a sufficient living.

Grandmother was the 9th child of the Tidwell family. She married Benjamin H. Johnson on April 10, 1865 and they moved to Scipio, Utah. Her husband was also married to her older sister Mary. They had two sons, Dan and Will, and four daughters, Loretta, Ida, Martha, and Rose who died as a small child. They had a cute little house built in the center of Scipio. There were three big rooms and a summer kitchen. Grandmother loved pretty dishes which were displayed on a shelf in her dining room and in her cupboards. She had a long shaped heater stove, which had a which had a hearth in front and a door you could open to put long pieces of wood into. She often used this stove in winter for cooking as there were lids on the top. Her living room had a pretty carpet, a stove, a platform rocker, a marble top table, and a beautiful china closet full of her precious dishes. There were two small bedrooms. The beds were high wooden beds with ticks so full of straw that we had to use a chain to get in them. The walls were white-washed every year and fresh straw was put in the ticks often. There was a long porch on the west side that grandfather always sat on in his wooden rocking chair.

Uncle Dan and Will, her sons, were very good to her and grandfather, but money was hard to get in those days. Grandmother never bought many grocery items with cash as she had to be very saving and her buying power was eggs. She would often give one or two to us when we came for doing errands for her and we would run to the store and spend them. My grandfathers big barn was always full of hay, horses, a cow, and chickens that laid eggs in the hay and the mangers. I also remember the big yellow and green squash that were stacked in the barn in the fall. At one time, he owned half of a block in Scipio. I think their house is still standing.

When my grandmother did the laundry she put a big black kettle out in the yard and filled it with water from the ditch. It was then put on a wood fire to heat. She would scrub the clothes on the wash board and then boil them, scrub them again, rinse, and hang them on the line to dry. It would take all day to do this. She had the first sewing machine in Scipio and everyone was welcome to come and use it.

Aunt Mary has two sons, Ben and Jim, and three daughters, Ann, Rose, and Etta. I cannot ever remember going to Scipio that all of these girls didn't come to grandmothers to visit. She would put chairs out under the trees, or if was stormy we all went inside the house. All of the children were very friendly and kind to each other. Grandmother was just as sweet to Aunt Mary's children as her own. In fact, I was a grown woman before I knew they weren't all grandmothers children. I never knew Aunt Mary as she died before my time.

I loved to go to Scipio and visit. I had many cousins and friends there. Dad would hitch up the horse, Old Jane, to the little one-seated buggy, and with the unbrella [sic] over our heads we would spend a whole day driving over from Juab. Uncle Dan lived next door to my grandparents and was always there to take care of the horse and buggy and get them ready for us to drive back home again. On every Fourth of July there was a parade and the band rode on the big hay wagon. There was also a program and entertainment in the upper part of the school house. I remember one Fourth of July I took my sister, Emma, with me and she was on the program and sang "Old Glory", while I played for her on the piano. She was about 7 or 8 years old. She looked so cute in her "Marthy Washington" dress that I had made for her, and she sang so sweet she pleased all the people very much. The road by my grandparents house was blocked off for the Fourth of July celebration so that Don Probert could ride the wild horses. The high board fence around their lot was lined with spectators and their lawn and porch was always full of people who came to Ben Johnson's corner for the occasion which was always a big event.

My grandmother was a sweet, kind, understanding, and humble person who loved life and people. In her older years when she would go to the dances, everyone had to come and say "hello" to Sarah. They all loved her, especially the young people. She never missed going to the town dances to visit with friends and watch the dancers. She often made cookies or apple pie and invited the young people over to her home to have refreshments and a cold drink of water that she had carried from the Thompson well. There was a long handled dipper everyone used. In her younger years she had a pair of shoes that she wore to the dances and after wearing them for the dance, they were loaned out to anyone who wished to wear them. She was a very generous person and I loved her dearly.

She lost her eyesight to cataracts and suffered kidney problems. I don't suppose she ever want to a doctor for proper care. She died on Feb. 28 [25], 1931, at the age of 84, and was buried in Scipio cemetary [sic].