Thursday, December 21, 2017

Christmas Memories

 By Bertha Malvina Thurber Butler

The first Christmas I remember very well was when I was a small child in Grass Valley, Utah. I knew there was something in mother’s trunk for me, and one day when she was away I removed the lock and found a pretty plaid piece of cloth for a dress. (I was a naughty child, but doubt if she knew it). It was about this time that I received a doll – it was about ten inches tall, a cloth body stuffed with sawdust, and a china head with black painted hair. The only real doll I ever had.

After moving to Richfield in 1889, we lived neighbors to Nebeker’s. Norie (Lanoria) Nebeker was about my age and we became very close friends. One Christmas eve, she wagered that she would be first to say “Christmas gift” the next morning. So, on Christmas morning very early I went cautiously to their door and called my greeting, and was much chagrined when she presented me with a small pair of china statues (dolls). I had not expected any gift of that kind.

One Christmas in Richfield, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus had arrived and were presenting gifts from a beautiful tree lighted with candles. Suddenly Mr. Santa caught his clothing on fire. He got outside and the fire was put out without any serious damage.

The Christmas of 1898 was a different one for me. My cousin, Vina Bushnell, of Meadow, had been living at our home and attending school. Her father came to take her home for the holidays, and I went with them and had a very lovely time visiting with my Aunt Elizabeth Bushnell and her numerous family. I was gone from home about two weeks. It was this Christmas time that my dear John was doing missionary work in Minnesota and his father died December 30th. I was away from home and did not know of his death at the time. He had been in very poor health for a long time, had dropsy. The family were practically without funds and had a very meager Christmas. Jane tells of how the children fixed up a tree of some kind, putting spools of thread, scissors or anything available on, to distribute as gifts. Happy children they were and enjoyed the fun, but the dear father, who was so ill, shed tears when he saw their efforts. He loved his family and knew he was about to leave them.

The next Christmas, 1899, we had been married about six weeks and were at a mine about two miles over the mountains from Kimberly on Gold Mountain. John and Jack Gilbert were contracting there. We were snowed in, and isolated. No way to get to town except on snow shoes or skis. I think we were very much alone for Christmas as the other men working there had gone to the Valley.

The Christmas of 1901 we were still at the mines, but now living at Kimberly and working at the Anna Laura. We all went home to Richfield for Christmas, where the entire Butler family met together and had the family picture taken. John and I also had our first picture taken together.

We moved to Idaho in 1904, and there we had our children growing up in the home. We always had our Christmas tree, as the men would get one from the mountains very easily, while hauling wood. One Christmas (about 1911) we had a family gathering at our home with a nice tree in the kitchen. Most of the folks had been there overnight, staying at our home and Grandmother Butler’s, across the lane, so Christmas morning we surely had a jolly time, distributing gifts for all, visiting, eating, and enjoying the day. As I remember there were present John’s mother, Grandma Butler, and her unmarried children, Jane, Taylor, Eva and Lee Tom--, Horace and Ida and their children, Erin and Caroline and children. There may have been others. This was the last Christmas that Grandma Butler was with us. The next year she was in Utah, and died after returning to her home in Idaho, April 21, 1913.

The Christmas of 1912, Jess and Olive Smith were living  in Grandmother Butler’s home, and there we had a nice Christmas party, the Butlers and Smiths all joining together and the next morning, December 26, Horace Smith was born. I was present.

The Christmas of 1914 is one I shall never forget. Our dear father was very ill. He had left home the 2nd of December, going to a Salt Lake Clinic and from there he was sent to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, where on the 8th of January 1915 he underwent a very serious operation, having a papilloma or tumor removed from his bladder. He was in very critical condition, but through having a good clean body, uncontaminated with liquor or tobacco, tea or coffee, his blood was pure and soon he was on the way to recovery. We felt that the blessings of our Heavenly Father had been with him. He was never very well after this time, but lived 22 ½ years longer, caring for his loved ones. This Christmas day we at home had all received gifts from our dear one. Mine was a nice warm robe which I needed as the weather was severely cold – the thermometer registered 20° below zero for many days at a time. My brother Erin came for us and took us to his home for Christmas dinner. The next day Grant had his arm broken by a horse falling on him. Taylor was caring for the place and he took us to Soldier, 7 miles, to the doctor. This was an added worry and one we did not tell father about until he came home the 2nd of February.

We moved from Manard, on Camas Prairie, to Acequia in September 1917. Our Christmas tree this year was a big sagebrush, as we had not been able to get an evergreen. This substitute was pretty when fixed up, but the odor of sage permeated the house. It was this Christmas that we got our second Victrola, a portable square-shaped box which we enjoyed very much. Our first Victrola was an Edison with a large horn attached to it and was the first, and about the only one, available to our many friends while we lived at Manard. Our home was a place where relatives and friends were always welcome and this music was especially entertaining to all of us. It was at this 1917 Ward Christmas program that Donald contracted whooping cough, so for the next several weeks we were all at home either sick or caring for those having whooping cough, as all seven of our children had it during this time. The next Christmas we had a player piano brought to the house to try it out. We decided we did not want a player piano so returned it and got another one which we had a long as we kept our home. The three older girls became quite efficient in playing it. Edith now has this piano in her home.

We moved from Acequia to Twin Falls in March 1922, living in a nice home on a ten-acre lot north of town. After two years here we moved into town and lived on Adams Street. We had lost our home and practically everything we had owned, so now were renting. The Christmas of 1925 was indeed a trying one. Father and the boys had been farming a place at Filer, about seven miles away. They had had a very hard year; the bean crops they were raising were almost a failure, barely paying expenses of the summer. Very much discouraged, father left on the 20th of December for contact, Nevada to get work in the mines. He worked here for two months, earning $100 per month, and was cheated out of three-fourths of this amount. Christmas, with father gone, was lonely. Gladys was clerking in Wright’s store and did all she could to help us. Uncle Lee came to visit us during this winter and found our coal bin about empty and us, hoping to get money soon to get our supply. He bought us a ton of coal, for which we were grateful. Uncle Lee was surely a Santa Claus, though a little late. Delta Duffin was with us for awhile.

We moved from Twin Falls to a farm near Hollister, 18 miles south, in September 1926. This farm was leased from E.J. Hunt and Sons of Buhl, Idaho, and was known as the Beatty farm. We were there seven years. Each Christmas brought its joys to us. Grant, Edith, Donald and Gladys were all married and we had our family gatherings as often as we could, the grandchildren coming to brighten the day.

The Christmas of 1930 Gladys and her boyfriend (Ervin) came from Lyman, Wyoming, where she was teaching school. They announced the marriage of Donald and Marie Bosch in Salt Lake. We had expected Donald to come home for Christmas, but he did not get home until the next Christmas, then brought his wife and baby Donna Marie.

The Christmas of 1932 we had dinner at Edith’s home, 336 6th Avenue North, in Twin Falls. It was the last Christmas that my mother was with us, as she died the next Thanksgiving day, November 30, 1933. I had had an operation in the Twin Falls Hospital the latter part of October 1932, so was feeling too well at Christmas. Glenn was attending college at Caldwell, Idaho. Etta and Ross were both working for Hunts at Buhl. At Christmas time Ross had received a five-dollar bill for his work, and when he reached home it was gone, no place to be found, which was a great disappointment to him.

In 1933 we moved from Hollister to the Gettert farm (80 acres) three miles west of Eden and thirteen miles northeast of Twin. Here we lived until August 1937, when I made the move to Shelley, Idaho, where I bought a home. My husband had died the month before and we were not in a position to continue renting the farm, so considered it best to make this move. Grant’s home was at Shelley, and the other boys were in school. Glenn and Ross were at the U. of I. at Moscow. Each Christmas brought its joys and remembrances. The boys usually came home from school and the married children and their families came when they could.

I think it was the Christmas of 1935 that Glenn and Ross were coming home from Moscow to be home for the holidays. They did not have enough money to buy their tickets on the train so were going to hitchhike, and against regulations they chose to ride the cars that were bringing students home. They would get on top, or underneath or wherever they could find a place to ride. The train officials discovered them and put them off a time or two, but when the train started again they would be on it. Finally, before reaching Boise, the train officials phoned ahead and had some officers on hand to arrest them. They tried to escape by running but were caught and taken to the lock-up. They were so dirty, covered with coal dust, smoke, etc., that they did not look like white people. At the jail they washed up as best they could and were given a very good meal which they needed and relished very much. The keepers had taken things from their pockets, among which was a letter from their father, telling them of his hopes of having them home for Christmas, also enclosing some money for them. After about five hours in jail, some officers came and talked to them, and in asking questions found that they were not criminals, but just two homesick boys trying to get home for Christmas. He gave them some advice and released them to go on their journey. We had a very happy reunion.

The Christmas of 1937 I spent at Grant’s. I had my home in Shelley and had four lady boarders who had gone home for Christmas. Agnes was at home and Jack was completing his high school. The Christmas before that, 1936, Etta came from Salt Lake with Horace. Glenn and Ross also came from Moscow.

For Christmas of 1938 I made the trip to Moscow, Idaho, to spend it with my four sons. Donald was working at Spokane, Glenn at Lewiston, and Ross and Jack were in school. Margie was there also. I got a ride from Jerome with a Mrs. Jenkins. Melvin took me from Twin to Jerome and we started about 3 a.m., December 20th. It was a very foggy day, and hard to follow the road. Mrs. Jenkins was going to Moscow to bring her son and some other students home for the holidays, then take them back for school, and bring me home again. We arrived safely in Moscow about 5 p.m. and surely enjoyed meeting my dear ones again. Margie made the trip to Boise to visit her parents, so I spent most of the next two weeks there very much alone. The four sons were all there with us for Christmas dinner.

I went to a dentist and had my only nine bottom teeth drawn, and got a full set of new teeth made. It was rather a painful ordeal, but a job I needed to have done. Glenn was the one to settle this account. It was a fine Christmas present for me. It was also this Christmas that I received my Parker fountain pen from my children. It has done me a lot of service and I am writing with it now.

Mrs. Jenkins came back to Moscow in due time and we were to go home the next day, but a snow storm had started and she was afraid that the road over the Blue Ridge Mountains would be blocked before morning, so we decided to start that night. We left Moscow about 7 p.m. and had a very disagreeable time, all night. The storm was a bad one, rain, hail, wind and sleet taking turns. As we reached the top of the divide we met a man driving a big oil truck. He put the chains on our car, which helped some, as we were having trouble keeping on the road. This driver said if we had more trouble he would be along and give us help. We went a short distance and found our engine radiator was dry. We stopped and waited for the oil truck, but he passed us by without stopping. We would go a little way until the engine heated up, then stop to cool it. We kept this up until we reached a highway station where we got water and continued on our way. Mrs. Jenkins had been without sleep for a long time and her eyes became so inflamed and sore that she could hardly see. When we reached Emmett we went to her cousin’s place and stayed a couple of hours, resting and bathing her eyes. We reached Boise about 5 p.m. where I stopped for a few days.

Christmas of 1940 was in Logan. Agnes and I attended early pageant.

The Christmas of 1941 I was living in Logan until September. I rode to Twin Falls with a neighbor (Mr. Smith) in August. Went to Twin Falls from Salt Lake for Christmas with Edith and family. Jack came from Moscow and met me there. We had a fine dinner and a generous good time. Melvin took Jack and me to Acequia after dinner, where we stayed with Uncle Horace and Aunt Ida. Melvin came for us on Saturday morning and took us to Shelley where we visited with Grant and family, also went to Idaho Falls and visited with Agnes and Roland. Jack returned back to Salt Lake with me where he visited Etta and family. Gladys and family came while he was here. They stayed just a short time.

I moved to Salt Lake to be with Etta in September 1941 and here I was for Christmas, but went to Twin Falls to meet Jack and visit. Etta was working and I was keeping house and caring for her children. We had a very nice Christmas tree and many nice presents. I received many cards and tokens, also several dollars in money from my children.

The Christmas of 1942 was spent in Salt Lake with Etta and family. Jack did not come home this year.

Now it is nearly Christmas of 1943. I am here at Hill Field working. I have a very comfortable little room where I am able to do some of the things I like to do. This day (Monday, December 20) has been my day off and I have spent a lot of time writing about Christmases I remember. I have remembered a lot of things I am glad to get recorded so our children will know about them. I have had photographs of father and myself made and sent to the nine of our children. Hope they will enjoy them. Jack is far away from the rest of the family right now, but we hope he is well and happy.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lessons in Partnership

September 1, 2017

Fifty years ago today I walked into Charlie Swan’s office located above Flying Realty in Vale. I was dressed in a rather dapper suit wearing a white shirt with a skinny tie, which was the fashion in 1967. I told him I was ready to go to work and we began practicing law together as Swan & Butler.

Bob Butler just a few weeks after starting to practice law with Charlie Swan 1967

I had completed moving Sandy and our three sons from Eugene into the Quisenberry house next door to Bob Harrod on Clark Street. Jared was then about two weeks old.  I didn’t know whether I had passed the Oregon Bar exam or not but I did know that I was unemployed and had a wife and three children. We had a little money left from the sale of our home at 863 E. 22nd St. in Eugene. We had used a bunch of it to buy some furniture and appliances and to move to Vale. I hoped we could survive until I could start making some money from the law practice.

Charlie and I agreed that whatever money we made from this new law firm, we would split it equally, half and half. He and I visited about some legal matters that he was working on and I think our first “new” client was a lady wanting a divorce. Even though I had graduated from law school and taken the Oregon Bar exam, I had absolutely no idea how to practice law. Charlie had to mentor me every step of the way.

It was a couple of weeks or so later that someone mentioned to me that the Bar exam results were in the Portland Oregonian newspaper that morning. I ran down to the drug store and bought an Oregonian. I searched through it until I found the list, ran my finger down the list until I found my name. I don’t recall that I was particularly surprised that I had passed as I hadn’t given any thought to what would happen if I didn’t pass. I just knew it couldn’t happen because I needed to take care of my family.

To me, it doesn’t seem like it was all that long ago this all happened. Fifty years have flown by and many changes have taken place. Lots of water, good and bad, has flown under the bridge and here we are, two old people with lots of health issues but happy and still in love. We consider our family as our greatest accomplishment and treasure. We thank our Heavenly Father daily for each of our posterity and we pray for their happiness and success.

Bob and Sandy

The Malheur Enterprise Newspaper published the following story about Bob Butler, Charlie Swan, and Cliff Looney...

Legal Eagles: Vale lawyers build successful partnership

Legal Eagles: Vale lawyers build successful partnership

VALE – He was a former candy salesman turned lawyer.
In 1927, Charles Swan set up a law practice in Vale and a half century later his partners remembered his efforts as they looked ahead for what is now known as Butler & Looney P.C.
Bob Butler and Cliff Looney on Nov. 18 welcomed clients and friends to a celebration of 50 years the law firm has served eastern Oregon, Idaho and beyond. The get together was a testament to two individuals with differing views on about everything who walked into the office each day, building a successful law firm while making friends.
“We differ on politics, the recent election and what cases we choose to take,” said Looney. “But we can start a sentence and the other one can finish it we know each other so well.”
The two came into practice differently. Butler joined Swan in 1967. Looney, after serving one term as the Malheur County district attorney, joined the two in early 1970s.
“We are probably the only firm that has ever taken on the state on level of care at nursing homes and that is one I am extremely proud of,” Looney recalled. “It was a case that was important to the people of this community.”
In that case, Looney argued doctors servicing nursing homes around the state were better qualified to determine what a patient needed rather than a state official in Salem. The court ruled for Looney’s clients.
Even with more than 50 years of practice and a new home in Boise, Looney isn’t ready to step down.
“I have come to the point where I can be picky on what cases I take,” he said. “I plan on going at least one more year. I have clients who are now coming here that are fourth generation. We have taken care of their great grandparents and they still trust us enough to deal with their issues. That says something about the trust we have built through time and the relationships we have in this community.”
Looney takes his profession seriously.
“The law has been here for over 2,000 years,” he said. “Law is absolutely necessary.”
“The law involves personal things with people,” said Butler. “You very often see people at their deepest, darkest moments.”
Like his partner, Butler sees the relationships built through the years as the greatest accomplishment for the firm.
“It is the association we have made with people that is the greatest thing,” said Butler. “Sometimes, we meet people and the chemistry is just not there and we understand that. People come to us when they are desperate and need help.”
Both credit their success to Swan, a friend and colleague until his death in 1994.
Swan was born March 24, 1900, the oldest of six children. When he was 14, his father left for a mining venture in California, never to return. The family farm was foreclosed and the family evicted.
Swan quit school in the eighth grade, taking a job selling candy for the Idaho Candy Company. Travelling to mining towns throughout Idaho, he supported the family.
At age 21, Swan returned to school in Portland after meeting Dr. William Judson Boone, the founding president of the College of Idaho while hitchhiking. Paying his tuition in installments and living in the local YMCA, Swan took two newspaper routes to pay for school.
After completing high school, Swan moved to Salem and enrolled in Willamette University. While there, he met and married Marguerite Fay Spaulding, his wife of 66 years.
After obtaining his law degree, the couple moved to Newberg. With the nation entering the Great Depression, Fay moved to Crane to teach with Swan visiting as often as possible.
In 1927, Swan and his wife moved to Vale as he went into practice with Robert D. Lytle.
In the early 1940s, Swan accepted the position as district attorney, a position he held until 1954. Butler, who grew up next to Swan, joined the practice with Looney entering a few years later. Swan continued to practice law until he was 88. He continued to go to the office with his Irish setter.
“Since I was five, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer,” Butler said. “I used to go to Charlie’s office with my dad and it was always warm and smelled good.”
“Looking back, if I was not a lawyer, I would have been a history professor,” Looney said. “I was always afraid though I would never be as good a professor as those I learned from. I made the right decision in going into law.”

Sunday, April 2, 2017

My Grandmother's Clock

I wanted to share a recent experience of mine. One of those life moments when we realize it is time to change directions and slow down and pull the 'inner' strength needed to continue on. My family will remember the old mantle clock we grew up with and it's special sound.
Molly (Aultz) Vanorden
On a cloudy day when winter’s grasp was releasing spring, she came. 

Fragile and worn, she was delivered from a place I had never been, a time I had never known, a thousand miles and a century away. She was born in a time before electric lights, modern conveniences, television, and twitter. An ambassador of a gentler age, her embellishments were now faded, dark wood patina softened, small inclusions in green marble, a testament to her resiliency. Her work continued day and night. With loving care she marked the passage of time, events large and small, a birth, the return of a loved one from work, time to release the cares of the waning day as the sunset announced the dusk.

Even across the expanse of time and distance, I remembered her. She was a sister to one given to my great grandparents on their wedding day. Growing up I had fond memories of her gentle sound. Marking each minute her gentle tick-tock would beat like a heart, never failing. A low resonant sound marked the hours as her pendulum gently struck. In her sound, I could hear and feel loved ones and homes now passed. The sound was familiar and peaceful. 

Her original face, burnished mechanism, pendulum and winding key came carefully packaged. I gently freed her from the cocoon of paper and bubble wrap. I was too young when I had seen her last to remember exactly how to initiate the tick and the tock. With several turns of the winding key and pendulum adjustment, she came to life for me. I marveled that she could keep perfect time just as she had for over a century, no electricity, no batteries, no digital signal. 

With the television in the background, and the finishing of the dishes for the day, a thought occurred to me – the clock must be broken? She wasn’t making any noise. No tick-tock was discernable. The deep gong of the hour I could hear but it seemed so far away.
And then I realized…..
I finished my work and turned off the TV. I sat quietly. I listened and as I listened she became louder and louder ‘tick-tock, tick-tock’. I closed my eyes and memories washed over me. In the forgotten stillness of all those years, she was the same. cheerfully marking the minutes and hours. There were no TV’s in my grandmother’s house, no cell phones ringing, no overwhelming sounds to diminish the profound silence. 

And in that day, I remembered the beauty of quiet and a simpler time, a slower time. 

I pondered how much of life I had missed because of the noise, the chaos, the endless banter. Voices are louder, life is faster, families do not sit down together when the pendulum resonates the sacred hour, we are too busy, we are all in different places, but in that evening, in a quiet home, the clock’s pendulum resonated. Her beautiful sound penetrated me, and for the first time in years, I could hear my soul.

~In loving memory of my Great Grandparents Dot 'Dear Mom' and Ezra Josef Werry

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Missing My Grandma...

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ezra Joseph Werry

Margie Werry Butler's father, Ezra Joseph Werry, born in 1894 and named after his two grandfathers, Ezra Carr and Joseph Werry. Joe, as he has been called, was one of four children of Harry Cobbledick Werry and Lillian Mae Carr. A sister was stillborn in 1889, Mabel Clair born in 1890, and a brother Max born 1908, who died at 12 years of age in 1920 from complications of a flu. The accident that took Harry's eyes sights happened five years before Joe was born, thus he grew up only knowing a blind, crippled father. In 1903 when Joe was 11 years old, Harry and Lillian left Colorado and moved to Idaho to be near the rest of the Werry family. Joe from then on grew up in the Wood River area of Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum, Carey and Sun Valley, Idaho.

Ezra Joseph "Joe" Werry

Margie, fifteen when her grandfather Harry died, remembers that he always had to have his food arranged on his plate like a clock face, such as meat at 6 o'clock, potatoes at 3 o'clock, etc. "Grampa would hold me on his lap and sing English songs to me such as "Mr. Mouse would a wooing go' and many others." Once she went into a dark room and found her grandfather there. "Grampa," she said, "turn on a light." He would replied, "I don't need it, Darlin'! I'm blind."

Harry's Clock

Harry Chopping Wood

She told of having ropes stretched from the main house to the outhouse so he could hold on to them and easily find his way to the outdoor toilet shanty that featured one hole and a catalog or corn cobs for wiping. He "built the board walk from the house to the woodshed and the barn. He chopped and sawed wood for the kitchen and front room stoves and I always marveled that he never cut himself," wrote Margie. The numbers printed on the family clock's face were faded from Harry's constant fingering of it to tell the time. Harry, though blind, could take care of the cows, chop wood, deliver the clean laundry and perform many other chores while Lillian took in boarders and did laundry to support the family. "Harry must have been very bright. He was labeled a math whiz. He could carry figures and solve algebraic equation in his head. He helped everyone, including the teachers at Bellevue High School." (Harry Marrick in "The Werry Family, the Early Years")

Harry Cobbledick and Lillian Mae (Carr) Werry

Harry C. and Lillian (Carr) Werry & children, Ezra J. and Mabel C.

On September 21, 1887 in Boulder, Colorado the oldest son, twenty-three-year-old, Harry Cobbledick Werry married, twenty-year-old, Lillian Mae Carr. Only five weeks after their wedding bliss, Harry had been working in the mines when a terrible accident occurred. The local Colorado newspaper, The Weekly Register Call reported the following story:

Harry Werry and his first cousin who are working in the Clayton mine on Gunnell hill, south of the Masonic cemetery, met with an accident this morning in drilling out a miss-shot hole. Harry, it appears, in working out the tamping, struck the cap attached to the stick of giant, and the explosive exploded. His right hand was badly lacerated and both eyes badly damaged. Drs. Davidson and Richmond are in attendance on Harry. His fellow workman is not badly injured.
LATER---since writing the above the Register-Call learns from Drs. Davidson and Richmond that they amputated the third and fourth fingers of the right hand of Harry Werry down to the wrist. The force of the explosion of the miss shot hole was such as to throw sand and rock into his face, lacerating his eyes. Doubts are entertained of his ever recovering his eyesight. This accident is a very sad one, the victim having been married about four weeks ago to a daughter of Mr. Ezra T. Carr, a former Gilpin county commissioner and resident of Russell, now a resident of Boulder County. Werry is receiving the best of attention at his residence on Nevada Street.
On November 4, 1887 one last notice appeared in the paper:
Harry Werry, the miner who was injured in the Clayton mine on Wednesday of this week, is being cared for by the members of Russell Lodge No. 40 I.O.O.F., of which he is a member.
I.O.O.F. stands for the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. "While Odd Fellows is not a religious institution, many of its principles and objectives are based upon the teachings of the Holy Bible and many of the rites and ceremonies, secret passwords, signs, and counter-signs have a Biblical origin or significance. One of its primary aims is to provide its members with aid when suffering because of illness, unemployment, or other misfortunes. The relief of members, of their families and close relatives, of their widows and orphans in case of death, appears to have been the chief purpose of the organization of Odd Fellowship in its beginning. These aims and purposes have been consistently and faithfully maintained throughout the history of the Order." (2010 Internet Search)

Harry C. & Lillian M. (Carr) Werry's Wedding Photograph (ca. 1887)

Werry Children, Mabel & Ezra Joe

In 1936 twenty-year-old Marge Werry, while studying at the University of Utah, wrote an English paper about her grandfather Harry Cobbledick Werry's accident. That story was previously used as a blog post.  Click here to see it.  However, it will be added here again to complete the full story.


It was early fall in the year 1887. Central City, Colorado, was a little mining town, just beginning to prosper from the vast amount of gold which its mines were producing. Some of the mines were so rich that when a rock containing the ore was broken apart, it would hang together by threads of gold, which was called "wire gold." Miners and their families were prospering, since gold was abundant and it sold for a fair price. Men came from long distances, staked claims, built homes among the foothills and in the valleys, and settled their families in this remarkable section of the country. Thus the fame of Central City continued to travel, bringing men and women, young and old alike, to its vast mountainous section, rich gold mines, gambling halls, smelly saloons, crowded dance halls and its variety of humanity. It was indeed a thriving little town which would someday develop into a city.

Harry and Lillian had met, had loved, and had married in the town, and a happier couple could not be found. Their love was beautiful, the kind that develops and becomes more firm and abiding as the years pass. They were devoted to each other; nothing could part them, ever. The couple moved into their new home which was built among the foothills, a short distance from the town. It looked just like any other little house in Central City, but there was something, an indefinable something, that made it dear to the two who owned it.

Harry and his Uncle Jack owned a mine called the "Emperor," which was only a mile from the young couple's new home. Harry would leave early in the morning and walk to work, carrying the lunch which Lillian had prepared for him. He would work far underground all day, digging shafts and tunnels farther into the earth and working on rich veins of gold in the walls of a drift. Often in the evenings before he went home, he would drill innumerable holes, insert the dynamite, light the long fuse, and hurry home in the dusk. A miner always waited until he was ready to go home in the evenings before he inserted the dynamite in the drills and lit the fuse. In the morning the fatal fumes from the exploded dynamite would have disappeared, and the miner could resume his work in safety. Harry would go home in the evenings, tired but happy, for didn't he have the sweetest wife in the world waiting for his return? Oh, it was good to be alive! It seemed impossible that anyone could be as happy as he was.

Days came and went, and the couple was blissfully happy for five short weeks, when the inevitable happened. The morning had begun in the usual manner. Breakfast was over and Harry had brought in an extra supply of wood and coal for his wife. Lillian put up her husband's lunch, kissed him goodbye, and watched him until he turned to wave to her before disappearing from view. Had they thought of it, they would have laughed at the idea of impending disaster. Nothing could impair such a passionate devotion they felt for each other. It would have seemed incredible to them had they known 

Harry would never see his wife again. It was too unreal. Fate couldn't be so cruel to them. Harry was joined by his Uncle Jack at the latter's house, and shouldering their pickaxes, the rest of their tools were at the mine, they walked along the path leading to the mountain. The younger man was extremely happy. Life was good to him; he had everything a man could wish for. There was nothing he lacked. Wouldn't Uncle Jack come over and help them make candy tonight? Yes, Uncle Jack would be glad for an excuse to get away from his lonely house. His wife had been dead a good many years, and he enjoyed the frequent visits with his niece and nephew.

They laughed and joked and were in high spirits when the mine was reached, then they went seriously to work. Harry descended into the excavation to resume the digging of a drift in which he had drilled dynamite the night before. A considerable amount of the bedrock had been blown into small particles, and every drill had exploded except one. It was a common occurrence for a drill not to explode, although when the miner "spooned" the dirt out and inserted dynamite again, he had to be very careful. It was so easy for the explosive to go off by the slight pressure or friction of removing the dirt which covered it. Harry decided he would drill again before he went home that evening, so he proceeded to another task. The day passed in much the same manner as a day passes in the life of a miner. In a short while, it was time to drill and go home. Harry was kneeling on the floor of the shaft scraping the dirt from the drill which had not exploded.

No one will ever know how it happened; it was all over in such a short time. When the dynamite exploded, the force was so great, it threw Harry down, but he was not knocked unconscious. Stunned and bleeding, he crawled on his hands and knees back along the shaft. But the darkness! And the excruciating pain! It must have been terrible. He will never know how he could tell where he was going, nor how he could crawl, maimed as he was. And the dangerous, stifling fumes from the explosion added to the torture. His lungs felt as if they must burst, and he lost so much blood that he would never have lived if Uncle Jack and two other miners had not heard the report of the explosion and found him in the shaft. They carried him home, three of them, for he was a large man. He was unrecognizable with his face blown half away, the empty, staring sockets where his eyes should have been, and one-half of his hand and arm dangling by a fragment of skin. Such a broken, bloody piece of humanity to take back to a woman married but five weeks! No one will ever know the torture, the agony, the intense suffering, both physically and mentally, the two people felt during the long months 

Harry lay in bed, close to death. He wanted to die, prayed that he would, but his wife's prayers were answered. She couldn't lose him; he meant so much to her. In his pain, discouragement and sorrow, her love had seemed to grow, not with pity, but a tender, protective affection as a mother for her child. She did everything she could to make his days of agony and suffering less painful. Her hours with him were a torture to her; a mental and physical anguish, yet she bore her pain in silence.

At last, after a year, he had improved enough to get up and feel his way ever so slowly around his once perfect home. After another six months, he was taken to Chicago to one of the best eye specialists in America. Nothing could be done. Harry's eyes had been blown completely away; only emptiness remained. His features were those of a stranger. Inside his cheeks and around his jaw and cheekbones, were particles of rocks which had become imbedded and the skin had grown over them. He carried horrible scars on his face all his life. Three maimed fingers remained on his right hand, the other half of his hand and arm were gone. Yet he could thank God he had been spared. Yes, he thanked God he was almost whole. More than anything, he thanked Him for his wife. She had remained faithful to him during every hour of his need. She loved him devotedly, a love which grew more beautiful through the years.

Two healthy children, a girl and a boy, were born to the couple, who dearly loved their son and daughter. Soon after, the family moved to Idaho, where they made their home. A few years later, the couple was blessed with a second son, who lived only twelve years. Harry was brave. He endured his affliction in silence, never aggrieving others and above all always cheerful. He was hurt intensely whenever he thought of his wife having to support the family, and he did everything he could to help make the journey through life easier for her. The things he could do were marvelous, and yet one would sigh in thankfulness for one's physical perfection. Harry lived for forty-four years, inspiring others with his cheerfulness and courage. (Margie Dawn Werry, 1936)

Joseph and Elizabeth Ann (Cobbledick) Werry

The Cornish people were a hardworking and resilient people but never seemed to get ahead and lived with one foot always in poverty. For that reason in 1863, eighteen-year-old Thomas Werry crossed the ocean from England to America looking for new opportunities for himself and his siblings. Finding United States locked into turmoil of a Civil War, and unable to find work, he returned to England. Over the next eight years, Thomas and his Werry siblings spent many hours conversing about getting out of the mines of Cornwall, and trying their luck again in working across the ocean in the United States. There was land for them to claim. It was a country with much to offer. They did not want their children and grandchildren to live out their lives as Cornish miners.

Finally in 1871, Thomas' brother Joseph Werry, and his wife, Elizabeth Ann Cobbledick sailed to America from Cornwall, England bringing three children with them. The family traveled from Liverpool on the ship "City of Antwerp" arriving in New York City on May 2 covering a distance of 3,300 miles in about three weeks. The ship's passenger list shows their names and ages: Joseph Werry, 28; Elizabeth, 26; Harry, 6; Joseph, 2 and Nicholas, an infant.

Joseph and Elizabeth Ann (Cobbledick) Werry & Sons

The steamship, "City of Antwerp," was built in Scotland in 1866 for the sole purpose of making transatlantic voyages. It was 332 feet long by 39 feet wide. After hitting an iceberg in 1890, the ship sank, taking 43 lives. Like most immigrants of little means, the Werry family traveled either in "steerage" or "tween-deck." Normally, this area was used for cargo, so the passengers were actually in the cargo hold. The cargo ceiling height was usually around 6 to 8 feet high, and bunks of rough boards were set up along the wall sides. Each open bunk could hold several people and had straw or seaweed-filled mattresses where lice and fleas thrived. The immigrants were expected to bring their own pillows, blankets or animal hides for comfort. Wooden ladders were used to climb up to the hatch on the main deck from the narrow passageway below. The only ventilation came from that same hatch which allowed people in and out of the cargo-hold. In rough weather, it was closed causing the air to get very fetid, and turning the holding area dark as night. The food was poor, but edible and each person had to keep and wash their own dishes after each meal. Bringing extra food was advisable. The Werry family probably paid about 5 pounds (English currency) for each of their tickets . . . a small fortune. In England their last name was spelled Wherry. But in America, the "h" was dropped simplifying their name to "Werry."

Elizabeth Ann (Cobbledick) Werry

Upon arrival in the United States, Joseph Werry's family began their move west. Joseph had never worked in coal mines because coal was not native to Cornwall. But, he had worked in the mines in Maryland and Ohio before taking his family on the train to Neva-da and the western boomtown mining camps. In Nevada, they worked in the silver and lead mines, then moved on to Colorado's gold and silver mines, and finally to Idaho's silver mines. Five of the eight Werry siblings eventually immigrated with their families to the United States. Each family worked in the mines in many states before meeting up together in Idaho to mine, farm or raise sheep. While Joseph and Elizabeth Werry and family traveled westward, several children were born to them. A son born in Maryland, he died shortly after birth. A daughter was born in Ohio, follow by three more children who were born in Nevada, though two had died in infancy. An-other son was born in Colorado, and the last child, a son, was born in Idaho where the family finally settled. Eleven known children were born to Joseph and Elizabeth Werry, one died in infancy in England. It took the family seventeen years to make their way from the immigrant ship to their final destination in Idaho.

Werry Brothers: Harry C. and Joseph

After their arrival in Nevada in 1875, the family lived in tents at a rough mining camp. The dry desert area had no water and no trees. In order to have water for cooking and drinking, it was packed in from the mine where it seeped from deep within the earth as pure, natural goodness. Joseph Werry had made yokes to fit the backs and necks of his sons, Harry (11), Joseph (6) and Nick (5). They would carry a five gallon bucket of water on each end of the yoke. Elizabeth being a pioneering woman, she was rugged and strong. The family eventually had rented a home so Elizabeth could keep a lodging house. She cooked for twenty men besides taking care of her own large family. Eight years later in 1883, the family left Nevada for Colorado, where the men worked in the Champion Mine at 10,000 feet elevation. Three years later, the family was persuaded to move to Bellevue, Idaho to work in the Minnie Moore Mine where they made $4 a day, good wages for those days. The Werry decided they liked Idaho and settled there per-manently. Their oldest son, Harry, had gone to Idaho before the other family member, but came back to the Colorado mines after they came to Idaho. He had a sweetheart in Colorado, and did not want to leave her.

Joseph and Elizabeth Ann (Cobbledick) Werry & Children