02 April 2017

History of Martha Jane Johnson Taylor

Written by her oldest daughter Elma Taylor Haws, June 1979

My mother, Martha Jane Johnson was born to Benjamin H. and Sara Jane Tidwell Johnson on June 5, 1875 in Scipio, Millard County, Utah. She attended school there and when she was 18 years old, she went with her sister, Ida to Juab, Juab County, Utah to work for my grandmother Taylor, who ran the hotel there. Juab was a railroad center at that time and there were 35 or 40 families who lived and worked there. It was while she and her sister were working at Juab that they met my father, Theodore Thaddeus Taylor, and his brother, Nephi Martin Taylor, and married them. Father ran Grandfather Taylor’s store and was paid $35 a month, but when he got married, his pay was raised to $40 per month. They were very frugal and were able to manage on this small amount. They lived in a little apartment that my grandfather owned. When I was only 1 year old, my parents went to the Manti Temple [27 Jan 1898] and were married, and had me sealed to them.

When my brother, Theodore, was just a baby, father was called on a mission to California [21 Oct 1899]. He became very ill and was sent home after about a year [20 Mar 1900]. We lived in a two-story house, and a family named Carter lived in part of it.  Mr. Carter worked in the round house where the engines and railroad cars were repaired. They were a very musical family.  Mr. Carter played the violin, Jim played banjo and mandolin, and a daughter, LaReal, played organ or piano. They played for the dances and entertainments in all the towns around. We had a large living and dining room combined that took 40 yds. of homespun carpet. When the neighborhood wanted a dance, up would come our carpet and mother made all the arrangements for an evening of festivities. Everyone brought something for the for the lunch and they would put all the children to sleep on the floors. How I remember those big thick meat sandwiches and homemade ice-cream and cake. They would sing and dance for hours and when the Carter’s needed a rest, father would play the harmonica. He would put a frame over his head and sometimes he would play the mandolin. What wonderful times we had, as we had to make our own fun.

Besides the large room that we used as dining room and parlor, our house had two small bedrooms and one big bedroom upstairs. On the west of our house we had a large summer kitchen we used in the summer. In this kitchen was a trap door, that went into a big cellar. This is where mother put her fruit, butter, milk, cream, vegetables, and eggs, or whatever she had to store. She was a good wife and mother, an excellent housekeeper, and a wonderful cook. We always had hot biscuits, some kind of meat, fried potatoes, she had boiled the night before, and some milk and jam for breakfast. None of us liked milk very well. She was very particular about her bed and stove. She always got up before anyone else to polish her stove, which was done with a black polish clean and then brushed until it would shine. Her bed was always spotlessly clean and had a pretty spread and shams on it. No one got into this bed unless they were sick. She always used a big drawer in the book case where the baby clothes were kept. We always had our clothes washed and ironed neatly, mended and the buttons sewed on. We knew that our Sunday clothes were to be changed after church and neatly put away.

A large family by the name of Stephenson lived across the street from us. Brother Stephenson was the railroad foreman who kept the tracks in order, and was also our bishop. When the railroad moved to Lynndyl most of the people went there also. When they left, my mother and father took over the hotel from Aunt Mame and Uncle John Nighton. 
We cooked for the freight crew, when they would call from Nephi and tell us how many to prepare for. We had to have the meal ready by the time they arrived in Juab. We also cooked for Mr. Clinton, the Station Agent. It was very hard for my mother to take care of a big family and have so many other jobs to take care of, too. The hotel was located between two railroad tracks. You could touch the trains as they passed by. The children were taught to run for the house whenever the train was in town. People from all around the area would stay with us when they were taking the train to Salt Lake City or Calif.

Mother was always happy to help out whenever anyone needed help. Mrs. Hoover told me today that she never could have raised her family if it hadn’t been for my mother. The Hoover’s lived across the street from us in Provo, Utah and we have always been real close and good friends of the family. Mrs. Hoover is still living near me and is in her nineties. Mother was a very unassuming person and never talked about people. She liked to be seen, but not hear, and never liked to be on the front seat. Father was a good provider and tried to help mother with her large family by getting new and useful things for running the house. We had the first gas lights, water in the house, record player, radio, and washer that run by water. When we were young, mother hired a Mrs. Shepherd in Levan to make out best dresses. I remember going with her to take material for all of us, and to get measured. When I grew older, I did the sewing for the family. Father would go to the Knight Woolen Mills each summer and get material for all of us a coat, and then I made them up for winter. Father was a good buyer as he had worked in the store for such a long time. He went to Salt Lake City and bought our shoes, and often sent away to England for materials.

One of the saddest things in mother’s life happened on December 8, 1908. A little son, Ralph, was accidentally shot and killed by his playmate after school. They had taken a gun from the teacher’s desk, that an older brother brought to school, and the teacher had taken away from him. This was a terrible shock to the whole family as he was such a sweet, loving child. He looked a lot like out brother, Grant, and was not quite eight years old. Mother was never well after this, as the shock was so much for her.

Father, and the whole family, mother, me, Theodore, Mabel, Lucy, and Emma were called on a mission to the Hawaiian Islands in the Fall of 1910. This was a great sacrifice for my parents and especially for mother. The sold their furniture and belongings, or gave away to relatives or friends. Aunt Loretta got mother’s prize stove and book case, Uncle Will got our organ, and I don’t remember where all of our things went. We left for our mission in Feb. It was so cold and we knew not where or what we were going to and mother was expecting her next child in April. She had a strong faith and was willing to go wherever the Lord called her. She was the Mission Mother and father was in charge of the mission store in Laie. 
Theodore T. Taylor can be seen in the back of store on the right.
Whenever Brother Wooley, the Mission President, was away, father was put in charge of the mission. At conference time, there would be 52 Elders and Sisters at the Mission Home, and it was mother’s job to take care of them. Cook their meals, change their beds, and even see that their laundry was done by the Japanese laundress. Oh, how I hated to iron those pleated white shirts and big dusters that brother Wooley wore. We had to use charcoal irons and they were a big job. If any of the missionaries were sick or needed help, mother was there to do her duty, even though her health was getting quite poor. She often carried meals to the sick or listened to people who needed advice. She was a peacemaker at all times.

In 1911, we were released to come home as mother was very ill and the doctor said she should go to a cooler climate. We came to Provo to live, as our parents wanted us to go to BYU. We rented a house belonging to a Sperry family on the corner of 4th North and University Avenue. Later, father built a house at 593 North 1st West. We all attended BYU from kindergarten to high school. One year, nine of us attended. Mother felt better back in Utah and her health improved. She became the mother of twin girls, and also had another boy. This completed her family of nine children, two boys and seven girls: Elma, Theodore, Mabel, Lucy, Emma, Laie, Fay, Fon, and Grant.

The flu was raging over the country in 1919 and while father was away in Juab, mother and all of us children were stricken at once. Mother was not very strong and therefore unable to withstand the disease. She died on April 4, on her 25th wedding anniversary. Grant, the youngest was only 2 years old, and since father had to be away on the ranch in Juab, Bruce and I were married on April 16, and immediately took charge of the big family. It was quite an experience for us, but I had had training from my mother and Bruce was a big help. He never complained about the many tasks as was so willing to help out. I had to do all the sewing, cooking, washing, and ironing to keep them going. I have always been thankful I was able to stay in the home and take care of my brothers and sisters so as to keep them all together. Mother was very fond of Bruce and all during her sickness, she would ask to have him come and be with her. He had already contracted the disease while in the Army in France so was able to come in where all of us were so sick. He was with her when she died. Her back bothered he so much all the time, and she fought so hard to live and be able to take care of her husband and raise her family.

We were all blessed in having such wonderful, good parents and such a sweet loving mother. God bless her memory, always.
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These words were written by her son-in-law, Wilford BruceHaws, who knew and loved her so much:
I write these few words in eulogy to one of the dearest little mothers I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, Martha Jane Johnson Taylor. She was a dear friend to be possessed by anyone.

She was small of stature and plain of face, yet possessed the virtues only to be found among those proven Saints who had been driven into the West, where the worship of God and the living of an honest life could be enjoyed.

She was the mother of my wife, Elma, and having known the mother, bore a living testimony that if the daughter followed in the footsteps of the mother, she couldn’t help but be a choice spirit.