I was born May 1, 1871 in Mt. Carmel, Kane County, Utah. My father was George Albert Goodrich, my mother Harriet Maria Taggart Goodrich.
Our first home was a dugout in Long Valley but when I was six weeks old my parents left there and rode in a covered wagon to Salt Lake City. For months, home was this covered wagon.
My earliest recollection was of the beautiful Stoddard farm on Weber River. There were acres of meadow land, wild grass and grain surrounding a two-room frame house. It had a batten roof consisting of boards nailed on top of one another instead of shingles. It was extremely cold in winter and excessively hot in summer. We lived here a while with Aunt Eliza, Father's first wife, Mother being the second wife.
Soon Mother and her children moved into a square log house of one big room. This house had shingles on the roof and rough wide boards on the floor. There was a black stove, also a wash bench. On the bench stood a wash basin, a tin bucket, and a tin cup for drinking. The table and chairs were homemade.
One time I stayed all night at Aunt Eliza's place. A wild wind came up and tore a board off the batten roof. I was in bed in the attic and this was a disturbing, alarming event for a little boy. I greatly preferred Mother's log cabin after that scare.
The main building in Morgan had a sign UNION PACIFIC DEPOT. This railway company paid considerable taxes. Therefore, our school district had a substantial schoolhouse of two large rooms. In the room where Rhoda Slade taught a table-leaf extended along two walls. Upon this table we could rest our slates. Of necessity we sat facing the walls. In the middle of the room stood a pot-bellied stove with a drum around its top to circulate the heat. Windows extended along two walls of the room. At recess time we played ball, our balls being homemade and covered with buckskin. What a happy diversion! I was very fond of Miss Slade. She later became Father's third wife.
During my second school year I was enrolled in Richville, four or five miles from North Morgan on Canyon Creek, a clear mountain stream running down from Hard Scramble Canyon.
Grandpa Taggart owned a grist mill on Canyon Creek. Soon Mother and her family moved into the mill house. It belonged to Grandpa. It had shingles on the roof. It also had a fireplace and a stove. We were comfortable and Father had a job for he was the miller.
Shoshone Indians often passed by our mill house. We often noticed a couple of slender poles with one end fastened to the sides of an Indian pony and the other ends dragging behind in the dirt. These made the sides of a conveyance for bedding and supplies or a litter for carrying a sick Indian. They pitched their tents on the banks of the mill race.7
The squaws would go from house to house begging flour, molasses, matches, bacon and sugar. One time when my sister Rachel was in bed with measles a squaw poked her head through the crack in the slightly open door and exclaimed, "Heap smallpox!" Away they all ran!
I took a boy's interest in the wooden flume of the mill, and in the penstock and the big wooden wheel.
I also had other interests. That year in school the pupils of North Morgan contested against the pupils of South Morgan to find out who could draw the best map of the U.S.A. I won the prize--a book by Samuel Smiles entitled SELF HELP.
One day Superintendent T. R. G. Walsh came to our school and gave us a two-minute sermon on the importance of being accurate. He told us to dot the "i" and cross the "t" and mind the "p" and "q". He cited the case of an inaccurate man who wanted to buy a couple of monkeys. In writing out an order for the same he wrote "too" instead of "two". In his hurry he forgot to cross the "t" and so his order asked for 100 monkeys instead of two.
School was easy and pleasant for me in contrast to the hard tasks assigned me on the outside. When I was eleven years old I drove a team of oxen from Richville to my father's sawmill, a distance of fifteen miles. Father took it all as a matter of course. Not a word of approbation did I receive from him. He loaded the two wagons with lumber. He drove the first one and I was to follow him down the canyon in the second wagon. About half way down, the tongue of my wagon slipped through the ring. I started to pull the tongue back into place but it was hard work--too hard for a small boy. The oxen broke and ran! Father came up in a temper shouting, "What in hell's the matter?"
I held my Grandpa Taggart and his workmanship in high esteem. The timber that went into his grist mill had been hewn out with his broad ax. The boards were smooth and straight and the traces were fastened by mortised pegs. The water wheel was of turbine style with wooden paddles. The shaft was made of a red pine log about fourteen feet long and ten inches in diameter standing upright with iron gudgeons fastened in each end. The cogwheels were made of wood, the cogs of native mountain maple.
The two millstones were about forty inches in diameter made up of pieces of hard stone imported from the East. All were fitted closely together and held in place with a heavy iron band. Plaster of Paris was used to give weight and strength.
The top stone weighed about two thousand pounds. The grinding surface of the stones was corrugated or furrowed, each furrow about one and a half inches to two inches Wide running from the center to the outside. There was about one and a half to two inches smooth surface between each furrow.
The top stone, as we said, weighed a ton. Occasionally this stone had to be "roughed up". Using a strong steel point it would take a week, eight hours each day to do the job Every now and then these corrugations had to be deepened.8
At Taggart mill one-tenth of each bushel of flour belonged to the mill as payment for grinding the grist.
My boy friends and I would swim in the mill race two or three times each week. On Saturday afternoon we played ball. I was very fond of this sport. Now and then I'd arrive at the mill a little tardy. Father would be upset. He had quite a temper. Once in awhile he would get drunk and occasionally he'd get into a fight. Too bad, but that's the way it was.
Grandpa Taggart's name is enrolled as a member of "The Mormon Battalion". He enlisted under Brigham Young at Council Bluffs, Iowa. He had experienced hardship and he knew better than to let his temper flare. That 1500-mile march had been a discipline never to be forgotten.
If you'll go to the grounds of Utah State Capitol and stand in front of The Mormon Battalion sculptured in stone by Griswold, you'll begin to appreciate how vivid were the scenes Grandpa could relate from the storehouse of his memory. We can feel justly proud of the name George Washington Taggart.
Two of my favorite friends and playfellows were my uncles James (Jim) and Henry Taggart. This friendship was lifelong and although transportation and communication were difficult, we never missed an opportunity in later years to meet and reminisce over old times.
When I was fourteen years old I had steady employment in Clark's Mill. Father moved Aunt Eliza and her family out to Vernal. I stayed with the mill and was Mother's main support.
Charley Clark was a considerate employer who could understand how a growing boy feels. He woke me early each morning, but after I'd started the mill he allowed me short snatches of sleep until the farmers began to arrive with their grists. Then I would carry in sacks of grain, weigh each one and record the number of pounds. After that I'd sack flour and bran and wait on customers. Out of every bushel the owner of the grist would receive thirteen pounds of bran and thirty-six pounds of flour. The residue belonged to the mill. Each customer was very intent upon receiving only the flour that came from his own grain. Once in awhile a farmer would get his flour ground on the same day that he brought it to the mill and take it back with him. This was exceptional luck. As a rule the customer would leave his grain at the mill and return for it later in the week.
Clark's sole aim was to run his mill profitably and give satisfaction to the farmers as they came and went. The mill had come into his hands from his father, Ezra T. Clark.
Once in awhile on a Saturday Charley would let me shut down the mill and play ball with my friends. I enjoyed playing ball better than any outdoor sport at that time. The other boys thought me fortunate in having such a fine job with such excellent wages. I was paid 75¢ the first year and $1.00 a day the second year. I established a record for thoroughness.
Some farmers never failed to bring in clean wheat. Others brought dirty wheat mixed with cockleburs. The bad wheat had to be cleaned and run through twice before it was ready for grinding. In handling clean wheat there was absolutely no waste for the owner. At the mill I carried a weight of responsibility that would have been suitable for a mature man.
Once, during severe winter weather I was sent on an errand from North Morgan to Chalk Creek above Coalville. My wagon was loaded with a ton of flour which I had to trade for coal. My traveling companion was older than I. His wagon also carried a heavy load of grain. We started out early in the morning from the mill. When I reached Weber Canyon I found out that I had a team of balky horses. My wagon contained twenty sacks of one hundred pounds each. It had to be emptied. This was a task I accomplished alone. The team was now willing and able to pull the empty wagon to the top of the hill. On the summit the team rested while I carried the sacks up and loaded them back into the wagon sleigh.
By the time I was ready to resume my journey, my companion was completely out of sight. Naturally I aimed to overtake him in due time. He had my food and bedding in his wagon. So I drove three miles until I came to a railroad track. Here as bad luck would have it, the steel shoe of my sleigh broke in two. (My wagon box was placed upon steel runners.) It was no fun to be stranded on a railroad track with a ton of flour. I was in front of a big black tunnel through which the train might come crashing against my wagon. So I unloaded as fast as I could. I was taking out the last sack when I heard the loud whistle of an engine hurrying along the tunnel. My team had energy enough to yank the sleigh off the track in time for the passenger train to emerge from the tunnel.
At length my tired horses reached the mine but to my disappointment, my traveling companion had gone on. He hadn't even left my bedding, not to mention my lunch. Having no quilts, I went to the furnace room of the mine and slept on the warm floor until morning. Says Shakespeare, "Industry can slumber upon the rock while resty sloth makes the down pillow hard."
Early next morning I delivered a sack of flour to a home in the neighborhood of the mine. The woman of the house plied me with questions until she found out the story of my missing lunch box. I sat in her warm hospitable kitchen while she prepared an excellent breakfast for me.
The friendship that existed between me and my employer lasted throughout our lives. Forty years after I'd left Morgan, Charley came to Roosevelt on a business trip. From there he rode over to Vernal and stayed all night with us. Once again he told me what a pleasure it had been for him to write out a statement certifying that I was a first-rate miller. I had received that certificate at the age of sixteen.
That ensuing spring, about May, I took sick and wasn't able to work. Mother suggested that I should go to Logan and visit my sister Fanny whom I hadn't seen for some time. A friend of Charley Clark's named Joseph Stevenson happened to be in Morgan at that time. His farm was on Bear River Bench. He asked me to drive his team as far as his farm. He pointed out that a free ride in his wagon would bring me nearer Logan.11
I started out quite early next morning. By nightfall I came to a small settlement named Uinta. By noon the following day I reached another small place where I unhitched the horses and fed them oats. Late that afternoon I crossed Hampton's toll bridge over Bear River. What a fine strong bridge! It saved me miles of extra travel. That night I delivered the team and wagon to Stevenson's ranch. I stayed over night and had breakfast early next morning.
From the ranch I struck out afoot to Collinston, a distance of five miles. From Collinston I walked seventeen miles to catch the train. After nearly four hours of walking I started to run for I could hear the train. I ran faster and faster but I missed the train by two minutes! I didn't know what to do so I kept walking. You can bet I was hungry but I had no sandwich to eat. I walked on and on until at last I had a view of Logan Temple on a hill. This fair sight gladdened me.
My footsteps now traced a dim wagon road that led me to Logan River. Here I took off my shoes and bathed my feet. In walking along the river I found a place where the overflow of water had formed a shallow pond. It was too wide to wade so I walked along the river hoping to find a more suitable crossing place. Not finding it, I had to return to the little pond. I took off my shoes, rolled up my trouser legs and waded half a mile until I reached a slough of clear water. Here I found an islet--only a clump of willows. I went into the willows and took off my Sunday suit. I wrapped my clothes in a bundle which I carried on my head. First the water came to my knees. A little later it reached as high as my waist. Soon it was under my armpits. Very soon it was over my chin. I reached the bank in a black swarm of mosquitoes. I lashed at them left and right but it didn’t help. They drove me wild but I had to stay on the bank and dress. After that I soon ran away from them.
It was dusk on the landscape. I had only two more miles to go. Suddenly a couple of skunks came directly into my path. I went around them in a wide circle and escaped a lot of trouble.
Suddenly I lost my strength and fell to the ground. I soon got up and walked a rod or two when I again failed through weakness. While lying there completely exhausted I thought I saw a buggy approaching. A few minutes later the buggy stopped and the driver was inquiring concerning my destination. I gave him the name of my sister.
"Get into my buggy," said the man, "for I'm going right past the place."
My sisters, Fannie and Carlie, received me with glad welcome. I visited four days with my sisters and one day with my cousin, a boy about my own age. I never did see Carlie again. She died quite young.
As you've been told, North Morgan and South Morgan were rather antagonistic toward each other, North being Dutch and South being English. Among the teenage boys there was often a fight between a Hollander and an Englishman. One night after a dance an English boy escorted a Dutch girl home. My gang took special notice of Alf and Maggie as they passed by arm in arm.
"Halt!" shouted Dave Rock to the young pair. “I'm John Sullivan. One blow from you, Alf Hemingway, and you'll land in jail for six months." It was now my turn. I assumed a big overpowering voice and declared, "I'm the County Sheriff from Coalville and I demand your arrest."12
At this, four of us seized Alf and held him securely while Jim Rock took Maggie home. We had our fun and the next day we were all on friendly footing with Alf Hemingway. The incident was closed.
But wait a minute. Maggie had a nimble-tongued aunt, a meddler. She hated South Morgan and she told an amazing tale to Maggie's father concerning Dave Rock, Jim Rock, Isaiah Stewart and myself, North Morgan boys who had "assaulted his daughter". The father consulted the Justice of the Peace. The marshall came and took four teenage boys of my gang off the threshing machine. I heard about it and I closed the mill. I soon overtook my four friends on their way to the court house to appear before the Justice of the Peace.
But before we reached the court house the five of us had an exciting experience. A fellow from the railroad station came toward us yelling and gesticulating concerning a crazy man in the depot who had nearly killed the telegraph operator. So we all went toward the depot to help the marshall subdue the crazy man. By the time we arrived the insane fellow had been to the butcher shop and he came into the depot brandishing a big knife. We enticed him out into the yard. Here one of our number on a pony tried to lasso him for the police. At last the sheriff had to shoot the man in the shoulder. Afterwards he took his victim to the doctor and had the wound dressed. Then he sent him to Ogden on the passenger train.
Having helped the officer dispose of the wild man, the five cf us appeared in court. We had no trial because there was no one to speak for us. Each of us was asked to say a few words. Mine were questions addressed to Maggie: “Did I harm you?" No," was her reply. “Did I offend you?" "No," came the answer.
As a matter of fact there was no damaging evidence against any one of us. The Judge soon brought the meeting to a close. He fined each of my friends $4.00. He fined me $1.00 plus the cost of court which was $4.00. I paid my court expenses on the spot. The others were given time in which to pay. Mother was very much upset over my experience. Father was in Vernal or Uintah Basin selecting a new location for his large family.
A new assignment in addition to my usual duties was now given me in Clark's Mill. I was to dispense tithing flour to the Indians whenever they should ask for it. The Shoshones and Bannocks would come in bands from Malad, Idaho. They rode on the platform of the train between cars. They always rode without buying any tickets. The conductor treated them kindly and bore with them patiently. He could do no less.
Quite frequently the Indians camped near the mill race. "Little Joe" was the interpreter between white men and Indians. During their stay "Little Joe's" wife, Sally, always asked Mother to sew her a nice new dress. Of course she never thought of paying and Mother never thought of charging.13
The Indians used Jamaica gin because they couldn't buy strong liquor in our town. But one day five of them got drunk. Two of them sat on the bank of the railroad track but two of them straddled the rail. Although they saw the puffing steam engine approaching, they were much too drunk to move. "Little Joe" was killed. It was pitiful to see the squaws gathering up the pieces. That night the Indians held a pow-wow to scare off evil spirits. They wailed and sang and danced. It troubled me. Was that any proper way to show respect for the dead?
Personally I never had any trouble with the Indians. I distributed to them tithing flour as long as it was the rule of our miller to do so. When this allowance was discontinued they'd come and buy flour. I'd trust them to pay me later. I was never cheated by an Indian. One of them borrowed my draughting knife. It was costly and precious and I prized it highly. I warned him not to lose it. I also told him to be kind enough to bring me a piece of venison for the use of it. After several weeks he came with the knife and also a piece of meat. The Indians kept their promises to me.
And now came our big move from Morgan to Ashley Valley as Uintah Basin was then called. Father sent Aunt Eliza's two sons George L. and Lew to take us to our destination. They came with two teams and two covered wagons. We couldn't travel very fast because it was rude wilderness road. It took us two weeks to get there. The weather was fair for November. The two wagons were crowded as there were eleven of us: George L., Lew, Mother, Fanny, Rachel, William, Louisa, Hyrum, Wallace, Vilate, and myself. Often the little ones grew weary but nobody complained.
In Ashley Valley we settled in Merrell Ward. We dwelt among the Merrells, Perrys, Packards, Schaeffers, Gardners, Birds, McCurdys, Karrens, and Caldwells. Among my first personal friends were Waldamer Lybbert and Will Merrell.
During the Christmas holidays I went with my brother Lew down to the meeting house. One of the teenage girls was scrubbing the floor. James M. Schaeffer made a jesting remark to her and she, in swift retort, threw a bar of laundry soap at him. But she missed her aim and the soap landed straight on my chest! That was my introduction to Merrell Ward.
Aunt Rhoda, father's third wife, lived eight miles from Merrell Ward in the mill house.
Aunt Eliza, Father's first wife, shared her home with Mother whose family numbered: Fanny, Albert, Rachel, William, Julia Louisa, Hyrum, Wallace, Vilate, Leona and Parley.
I helped build Aunt Eliza's house. After that I was always awaiting the chance to build a house for my mother. As often as I could be spared from other work, I went to the mountains and cut timber for Mother's house. I hoped to build it very soon.
During mid-winter I attended school in Merrell Ward. We had a good teacher and I was very much interested in my lessons.14
We young folk had our good times. To aid St. Nicholas on the Christmas program we made a gigantic sock for Waldemar Lybbert. We filled it with novelty gifts and we placed it inside of a gilsonite ore bag. There was fresh laughter from us all every time he took out a funny parcel and opened it.
Uppermost in all my thoughts was my desire to build a house for Mother. This wish was with me day and night.
It was nearing the Fourth of July. Merrell Ward was planning a grand celebration. Waldemar Lybbert and I were on the committee for the celebration. The parade was arranged and the program planned. Everything was going along fine when Aunt Eliza's elevenyear-old daughter, Esther, took down with diphtheria. There was but one doctor in Ashley Valley and he didn't have access to anti-toxin for this dreaded malady. Little Esther died. My turn to have the disease came next. I was very sick. As soon as I was strong enough to stand on my feet I went to the mill to take Father's place as he was needed by Mother and Aunt Eliza. It was necessary for me to go by night to avoid frightening the neighbors who feared lest I might carry it to them.
Fanny next took the disease and died. She was age twenty-one and was engaged to be married to a fine young man. Will was age fifteen, a good-sized boy. He took sick and died. Louisa, age thirteen, and Hyrum, eleven, died the same day and were buried in the same grave. Soon Wallace, age nine, died. Thus five of Mother's children were carried off. Three of the deaths and burials occurred while I was at the mill and I didn't know about them. When I finally did hear, it was a blow that nearly broke my heart. And now after sixty-six years it's a most painful memory.
Mother didn't sink under all this hardship. During five weeks Parley was extremely sick and of course she was with him night and day. Mother's remaining children were Albert, Rachel, Vilate, Leona, Parley. Later she had one more child, Lucy. I now was occupied hewing and hauling timber which I processed at the sawmill. With these materials I built a two-room log house. I put into it everything of skill and workmanship that I'd learned from Grandpa Taggart. This was the first home Mother had ever owned by herself.
I was now considered to be a first-rate carpenter by folk far and near. I built another house just like my mother's house. This was for Aunt Rhoda, my father's third wife. She was grateful indeed. She had a high regard for me and her children were very fond of me as I was of them. It was Aunt Rhoda's desire that I should preach her funeral sermon. I lived to fulfill her request, with a feeling of pride and honor for having been chosen to do it.
When I was twenty-one years old I filed claim on one hundred and sixty acres of land in Merrell Ward. Eighty acres went to Sister Rasmussen and eighty acres went to my father. They were not able to file upon a claim for themselves. I deeded the land to them with the full knowledge that I was forfeiting forever my right to lay claim to a homestead for myself. The first land I ever owned was ten acres for which I paid cash.15
Will Merrell and I became close friends and I often visited at his mother's home. Will had an attractive little sister named Lydia. I think she was eleven years old when I first saw her. She had bright eyes and she wore her long black hair in two braids. That was when I was sixteen. When I was nineteen and Lydia was fourteen I started to pay attention to her. We went together until she was sweet sixteen. We were married April 12, 1892. At our wedding my mother said softly to me, "She's the best looking girl in town." I felt fortunate in my choice and I've felt more and more grateful with each passing year.
My wife and I made us a temporary home by building a good-sized room onto Mother's house. It was fourteen by sixteen feet. I made shelves on the wall for a cupboard. Table, bedstead, and chest were homemade.
About this time Father went on a mission to Tennessee. I was the provider for Aunt Eliza, Mother and Aunt Rhoda during his absence. I furnished wood, wheat and flour for Aunt Eliza. She lived about a mile away. Her two sons, Lew and George L. were married. Her younger sons were too little to help. They were even too young to herd cows.
Aunt Rhoda was very appreciative of what we were able to do for her. She worked hard and so did her children.
Father remained on his mission one year. Then he returned home and stayed three weeks. After this brief visit home he went to Salt Lake City to assist his two sisters with genealogy. He was gone a duration of six months. I, with the help of my two younger brothers, took care of the farm.
Lydia and I had been married a year and a half when our little daughter was born. We named her Fanny for my beloved sister. But our little one lived only two weeks. What a sad bereavement!
President Wilford Woodruff now called three young men from each Stake in Zion to attend the Brigham Young Academy in Provo for six months. His purpose was to train young men in educational methods and administrative procedure in the Sunday School organization. The call was equivalent to a field mission of the same duration. From Uintah Stake were called: Thomas T. Bingham, J. P. Rudy, and Albert G. Goodrich, myself.
Between us and the B.Y.A. in Provo there extended one hundred and sixty miles of wilderness road. Will Merrell, my wife's brother, offered to take us, by use of my team and wagon, as far as Price, Utah. J.P. Rudy and Thomas T. Bingham furnished flour and bacon. When we were half way between Vernal and Duchesne we picked up President Samuel R. Bennion on his way from his sheep camp headed for Salt Lake City.
Our first stop was at Fort Duchesne. Here we met Will's sister, Mary. She was working as a hired girl for $2.50 per week, a big wage for those days. She gave Will a five-dollar gold piece and this seemed like a fortune. Money was scarce and we had to plan on getting along without it, paying our way by exchange of goods.16
That night we stopped at Lunt's cabin in the canyon. There was four feet of heavy frozen snow all around it. Finally we forced open the door and went inside. Very cold, twenty degrees below zero. We unrolled our bedding on the floor. There was barely space enough for four beds. It being too cold to undress, we slept in our clothes.
First thing in the morning, Will discovered he'd lost his gold-piece. We'd already rolled up our bedding but we unrolled it again. We searched everywhere. We knew Will needed that money for his homeward trip. At last Samuel R. Bennion gave Will two and a half dollars for his three-day ride with board and bedding free.
In parting with me at Price, Will said he intended to go to Lunt's cabin and find that gold piece. I wished him good luck. He reached the cabin, entered, and made a careful search but no gold piece could he find. As he came out he saw a round hole in the snow. And there, at the bottom, was his gold piece!
We reached Provo all right and found a boarding place with Charley Bingham. His mother-in-law was keeping house for him as his wife had died.
On the first Monday in January we were enrolled as students of the Brigham Young Academy. The members of the faculty: President Walter Cluff, George H. Brimhall, N. L. Nelson, Joseph B. Keeler, Prof. Wolf, and Karl G. Maeser. Our course: psychology--George H. Brimhall; English--N. L. Nelson; business--Joseph B. Keeler; ancient history--Prof. Wolf; Sunday School Methods--Karl G. Maeser; architectural drawing--Jos. L. Townsend; penmanship-- Jos. L. Townsend. We were allowed one elective subject and I chose to study architecture and building, a study that proved to be invaluable in all my life to come.
We had six months of intensive schooling. Not a moment did we allow to go to waste. We were up at five o'clock each morning studying and we always left the house at seven a.m. for school. Brother Karl G. Maeser had written our text book titled Latter-Day Saints Sunday School Methods. He often lectured to us on that theme in student assembly. He was enthusiastic. We could feel his earnestness.
Brother George H. Brimhall gave inspiring talks and he also supervised our studies. His teaching was dynamic.
Brother Joseph L. Townsend was versatile. He was a taxidermist, a landscape artist, and a composer of poetry. His song, “Kind Words Are Sweet Tones of the Heart", has been translated into fourteen languages. He was also a pioneer druggist, the first in Utah County, Utah.
Despite my interesting studies at B.Y.A. I felt out of place and I was as homesick as could be during the entire six months. It wasn't easy for my wife to be left out there in Ashley. Naturally I was concerned for her welfare.
As soon as I returned to Merrell Ward, I was at work on a coffin. A neighbor had died and his brother was having a sorry time of it trying to make the coffin, so I completed it free of charge. That was the rule with me. I did the carpenter work and my wife did the trimming. I felt lucky in this case that I didn't have to furnish the material at my own expense.17
Now, after three years of homesteading, I was granted a government deed on my quarter-section of land. I promptly made out two deeds, one for Mrs. Rasmussen and one for my father. I bore the expense of filing and making of abstracts which was, I recall, $25.00. Mrs. Rasmussen was immensely pleased. Father took it as a matter of course. Just the same he had acquired through my efforts eighty acres of good land for the support of his three wives and their children.
I now purchased twenty acres of land from Uncle Joseph Remington. I paid him $20.00 per acre. I secured a job in a sawmill on Taylor Mountain where I earned lumber for our first home. I built a log cabin sixteen by eighteen feet. It had shingles on the roof, screen doors, and window screens. It was a nice, new home.
The name Merrell Ward was now changed to Naples Ward. Brother John Evans was chosen as Superintendant of Naples Ward Sunday School. I was sustained as his first counselor. But it was hard to get him to use Sunday School methods such as those I'd been taught in the Academy. To each and all of my suggestions he'd say, "We tried that out in Mona and it didn't work."
I was now toiling so strenuously during six days of the week that it was a treat to honor the Sabbath in God's own appointed way. On my farm I set up a combined blacksmith and carpenter shop. I was busy all the time.
One Saturday afternoon while Will Merrell and I were on our way to Green River we saw in the distance a group of women beckoning to us. We found that a wheel had come off their wagon. We gathered greasewood, made a fire and heated the tire red hot. We carried water from the creek which we poured over the wheel to make the tire shrink. Next we whittled wooden wedges which we fitted between the felloes of the wheel where the spokes were fastened. For our help in this emergency we made some lasting friends, for these women were L.D.S. Primary officers and teachers on their way to a convention. They thought we were very good scouts.
Whooping cough spread through Naples Ward during a certain foggy, dismal winter. I made coffin after coffin, thirteen in all. My wife added the trimming to each little casket. It was a sad time for all. We made it a rule never to charge a penny for our work. Folk were usually poor. But here and there an exception occurred wherein a man might just as well have paid us. A certain person afforded eighty dollars worth of material for his father's coffin. He kept saying, 'The best is none too good." We did a handsome piece of work for him without remuneration. It was well within his power to have paid. My wife and I were grateful when an undertaker established himself in Uintah Basin. It spared us much time, energy and labor. But we didn't regret the good we had done.
We had been married almost three years when our daughter Elma was born.
When Albert was a year old I received a letter from Box B in Salt Lake City. I knew at a glance that it was a mission call because all such came from Box B. President Wilford Woodruff had my name spelled Abraham instead of Albert.18
In late September I started on my way to the Northern States Mission. My wife and I, Grandma Merrell, her son Frank, age thirteen, and our two young children almost filled my covered wagon. In Will Merrell's wagon were Will and his wife, Grandma Remington and Nettie Lybbert. The first twenty-five miles was a narrow, winding canyon road named "The Twist". There was danger if two wagons from opposite directions were forced to pass each other on that narrow road.
In preparation for this journey l'd traded with my brother Lew for a small team. But when we came to our first hill my team balked. Will Merrell, like a good scout, took the team back from Fort Duchesne to Lew, riding one horse and leading the other. In a couple of days he returned with Rodney Remington's good and willing team. It seemed nice to get going again. We'd been cultivating patience a long time. But the road was so muddy and slick that we made little headway.
Although it was late September, Lake Fork River was a raging torrent. An Indian and his pony had drowned in it the day before we arrived. The bridge had been washed away and it was hard to decide where to cross over. So Will, Frank and I began to explore. Will went above our wagon. Frank went below it. I stayed between the two. While I was crossing, my horse plunged into a deep hole. I clutched his mane and clung. When we reached the bank I was wet to my ears.
We had to cross this river whether we liked it or not. It was hard for my wife to consent because she was concerned for our two little children. Grandma Remington took a calm view of our situation. Nettie Lybbert also was brave. Finally I called a vote and the group agreed to take the risk of crossing in the most likely place of safety for horses, wagons and all. In midstream the neck-yoke came down and the wagon tongue dropped into the swift current and pressed against the front legs of the horses. I got out into the stream which was well up to my waist. I made my way along the side of the excited horses, secured the wagon tongue and neck-yoke, put them back into place and climbed back into the wagon.
That night when we camped at Red Gap we found that the wheels of our two wagons were solid with mud. We dug it out with case knives and we scraped for hours. It had been hard on the horses to pull with wheels that could barely turn. When we camped at Currant Creek we made a fire and cooked a meal. What a treat! Our little ones were well and this made us all feel glad. Albert was only a year old.
It took us nine days to travel from Vernal to Park City. Here our two wagons separated. Will Merrell went to Salt Lake City. My wife and I went to Morgan, traveling through Coalville, Echo Canyon and along Weber River. We visited friends in Morgan a day or two.
In Salt Lake City, Aunt Hattie Hardy listened eagerly while we told her about our adventuresome trip. She herself had driven a team of oxen all the way across the plains.19
My wife and I spent two days doing temple work. Our minds were at ease regarding our two little ones, Elma and Albert, because Grandma Merrell and Grandma Remington were looking after them.
I was set apart for my mission by Elder J. Golden Kimball. He said, "Don't expect the Lord to put words into your mouth." By his admonition I was prepared to study diligently and work to obtain my blessings from the Lord. I'd received a Patriarchal blessing from Patriarch Nelson Merkley before leaving home. It promised me that friends would be raised up to minister to my wants and that I shouldn't lack for means with which to carry out my labors.
During my mission I traveled without purse or scrip. That was the mode for Mormon elders. I walked an average of six miles each day. The longest distance for a day was twenty miles. One time when my companion and I had walked fifteen miles, a woman came out of her house to us with a loaf of bread and a pitcher of milk.
The houses were far apart in that sparsely settled Michigan district. Once the drizzling rain lasted all day. We were heading toward Mr. Pleasant, a beautiful but unfriendly little town. Before sundown we started asking for a night's lodging.
"We're too crowded," was often the answer.
“My wife is sickly," was another excuse.
“It isn't far to the next house," was often suggested.
We had asked for a night's lodging at eighteen places and it was now ten p.m. Our clothes were soaked with the dismal rain and we were cold and tired. At the last place the man of the house said, "No, we're not prepared." I then asked him if he would permit us to sleep on the kitchen floor. He answered, "I'd want to do better than that." So I asked, "How about your wood shed?" for by this time I was willing to let him suppose that I didn't know the meaning of "No". He replied quite promptly, “My dog is in that wood shed and he doesn't like strangers." This seemed final so we back-tracked to a home where we'd had a meal at noon. Here we came again and it was past midnight. The woman and her husband went up into the attic and they gave us their bed. And in the morning they made us welcome to a good breakfast.
That area of Great Lakes Stake was hostile and unfriendly fifty-five years ago. Today it has several branches and seven wards.
During the ensuing winter we arranged for a place to lodge. Three pair of missionaries rented a room. We did our own cooking. Our bill of fare consisted of oatmeal, potatoes and gravy, and bread and milk. In Bay City with a population of six thousand we found one convert. She had been baptized, and for that reason her husband had left her. Although she did not know much English, being Dutch, she managed to converse with us. She was pleased to have us call as we were the first Mormon elders she'd seen in years.20
Although she was living in a good home, she was destitute for money. We sang for her the hymns of Zion which she enjoyed to hear. At Christmas time we brought to her a duck which she dressed and cooked, German style. A year later we spent another Christmas with this dear sister. Then we didn't see her again. Twenty years later two lady missionaries visited this same convert. They found her old and feeble and sick in bed in a little room in the back of the house. Her eyes brightened to see them. She sat up in bed and told them of the hymns that Elders Spencer and Goodrich used to sing for her. The young women came again and held a little meeting in her room. After it was over the dear old lady asked, "Will you kindly hand me that dish on the mantel?" It was her tithing money; she paid four dollars. The next morning she died.
The Smith family, consisting of Dell, his wife, child, and mother-in-law, were friendly from the start. As missionaries we kept in touch with them and visited them often. At length we baptized them all. A couple of months later while they were working in the field their house caught fire and burned to the ground. The word spread in the community that this was an instance of God's judgment against the Smith family for having joined the Mormon Church. The mission president wrote asking me to take my companion, go to their farm and build them a home. We went. We stayed there several weeks and built a frame house with full basement--three rooms on the main floor and a couple of bedrooms upstairs. This home, in contrast to their former shabby little house, made them very happy. News spread that the Mormons had built a house ten times better than the one that had burned down.
I can never forget my first day in Reed, Michigan. Elder Miller and I were in the railroad station waiting for a train. They freely discussed five chosen topics, or shall I say favorite themes: the Adam-God theory; destroying angels; blood atonement; polygamy; the Mountain Meadow massacre. We bruised our patience listening to their loud harangue. Finally the station master requested them to pipe down.
Michigan seemed to be plentifully supplied with Josephites. I determined to qualify myself for intelligent discussion by diligent study, fasting and prayer. One day I met Mr. Beckley in a Josephite home. He had piercing eyes, black hair and was dynamic in personality. He listened while we explained to him something he should have known, namely: that the church reorganized by the Josephites came into being sixteen years after the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
I dreamed one night that I was in town waiting for my missionary companion while he was in the post office getting our letters. On his way out he met a man who said, "I'd like to talk to Elder Goodrich. Bring him to me." My companion and I went along with this Josephite and he invited us into a large, light, comfortable room. On the table was The Bible, also the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. By way of introducing himself our host explained that he was a member of the Reorganized Church. Said he, "I've heard about you Mormons and I'd like to hear your side of it." I explained or reviewed the events that took place after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith until the Josephites were organized into a church sixteen years later. I stressed in detail how Sidney Rigdon came from Pennsylvania and called a meeting at Nauvoo. I went on and explained how Brigham Young received the unanimous sustaining vote of the church because it was manifest to each and all the members present that he was the one to lead it, not Sidney Rigdon.21
At this point my opponent inquired, "How does it happen that the Reorganized Church has no apostles?"
I answered, “All of the apostles followed the Mormon Church, with the exception of William Smith and Lyman Wight. Later William Smith went along with the Josephites and the Reorganized Church came into existence."
Here Mr. Beckley came into the room and the young man introduced me to him.
"I've met Mr. Beckley," said I.
“You believe in Brigham Young," said Beckley.
A feeling of calm security came over me and that was the end of my dream. A few days or weeks later my dream was fulfilled to the very letter. After that I enjoyed meeting Josephites. I made friends among them but never a convert. My dream was a great personal testimony to me. It came in answer to prayer and fasting and study.
Elder Louis Peterson came into the Northern States Mission from Loa, Utah. He was so new and inexperienced that my heart went out to him and I did all I could to strengthen and qualify him for the labor that loomed ahead. The two of us had headquarters in a place called Cadillac. It was a logging camp of fine houses. We always started out tracting from that place.
I always wore a Prince Albert coat. I pressed, darned and patched it until it was threadbare in many places. I did the same with the trousers. One day a convert, a member of our L.D.S. branch made me a present of twenty dollars. I hesitated about accepting that much money but he prevailed upon me by saying, "Elder Goodrich, you are a poor man. I want you to accept this money and thereby let me earn a blessing." So I accepted the money and with it I purchased a nice suit of clothes.
I had commenced my mission in the fall of 1897. I was released to return home in January 1900. The total cost of my mission was $380.00. Twenty-five years later an elder laboring in that same mission field would pay out @1,500.00. Today (1955) the amount would be $2,000.00. I mention these items merely to point out the contrast between then and now.
I returned to Utah, made my report to the L.D.S. office in Salt Lake City. From there I went to Price and called at the post office. There was no letter. Seemingly there was no telegram either. The station master said so. Meanwhile I called to see the president of Carbon Stake. He welcomed me into his home. I then returned to the railroad station to procure my luggage in order to avoid having to pay for storage. Suddenly the agent became alert and he asked, “Are you the missionary from Vernal?” I told him yes and he handed me a telegram five days old. It contained the good news that my stagecoach fare was paid to Vernal.22
I had a good turn supper in the home of a friend, then I stayed all night at the Stagecoach House. The stage left before daylight. We reached Myton about breakfast time. The owner of the inn came out to the coach and asked me why I did not come into the house with the others. I told him I was traveling without money. He said, "Come right in and eat your breakfast just the same."
At Halfway Hollow I was partially acquainted with the Mormon family who were in charge of the eating place. I told this Mormon man that I was broke. He said, “You can send me fifty cents after you get to Vernal." This was amusing to me because I'd been traveling without money among non-Mormons during two full years.
Home again! How sweet was my welcome. Albert was three and a half years old. He said to his mother, “Make that man go away." Elma rejoiced to have me home. She was six years old and had been anticipating my return.
During my mission my wife had sent me fifty dollars of her own earnings. This was indeed a big offering. When I came home she had surprises in store. There was a new carpet on the floor. My wife had cut the rags, sewed them and wound dozens of balls. At last she hired a weaver. It was a beautiful carpet. She had accomplished other things by taking in washings for the price of fifty cents each. She had sold six pounds of butter each week at the price of twenty cents per pound. She had supplied fresh butter to a family in Vernal who owned a furniture store. Vernal being five miles from Naples, it hadn't been easy to get the weekly ride in order to deliver the butter, but by hook or crook she did it. The family let her take her pay in furniture from their store. By this means she had earned a new bedstead with springs and mattress. Besides, she had maintained herself and two small children during my absence. As we had no fences, she herded cows. She also took care of chickens and pigs. In order to secure pig feed she husked corn-on shares During winter she carried snow from the gulch and stored it in a forty-gallon barrel. On wash day she melted the snow for water. This exposure to cold brought on a spell of neuritis. Once in a while, one of Aunt Rhoda's boys would haul her a load of wood. Despite these hard tasks accomplished by her willing hands, I found her well and happy and dearer than ever to me. It was good to be home.
At the time I received my mission call I had felt inclined to say, "I'm needed here at home to help finish the meeting house." But it was a call that I respected and so I went. When I returned home, Naples Ward House had been erected. The plastering also had been done but it lacked all of the inside woodwork and finishing. The front platform had to be torn down. I did so and built it up again. I did window casings, wainscoting, and I constructed a pulpit and sacrament stand.
Wages? I received $3.00 per day. Out of this pay I donated $1.50 per day. I had to collect my earnings from tardy ward members who were slow in paying their assessments. From a certain member I collected a load of potatoes. I afterward hauled them to Duchesne where I sold them for $13.00. When I returned with the money, the bishopric wanted to use it for the needs of the ward. My wife, however, convinced the brethren that they were by duty bound to keep their agreement with me. Later I handled a load of cedar posts and a load of poles for members who were unable to pay their assessments in cash. It wasn't easy for me to turn these materials into cash but I needed the money for the sake of my family. I worked six months finishing Naples Ward chapel. I had no competitors. Weeks before the end of this project I was receiving seventy-five cents per day instead of the dollar and a half.23
When Uintah Stake tabernacle was being built I was called to assist with the inside finishing such as window casings, cabinet of the gallery and railings. The plan for the tower I drew on the rough floor in an octagon. I also estimated the size and shape of rafters that formed the dome for these octagon dimensions. This tower was built up from the roof and was entirely of wood. Will Merrell and I finished it together. There was neither bell nor stairway. The tower is standing to this day and it gives me a thrill to pass by and see it.
For my labor on the tabernacle I was paid regularly by Uintah Stake Committee of which Will Siddoway was chairman. Once he had me credited with four days more than I had worked. Of course I had him correct the error. Had I not mentioned it, no one would have been the wiser.
Uintah Stake was now making plans to build an academy for the education of its young folk. It was a much needed step to promote the progress of Ashley Valley. We had heretofore sent our young men and girls to the B.Y.U. in Provo which was a lengthy journey with team and wagon. So I boosted for our academy night and day.
Naples Ward, of which I was now bishop, was assessed to make 100,000 brick valued at $10.00 per thousand. I gave my word that we would furnish that amount. The Stake officials asked me to sign a contract but this I refused to do. My word was as good as my bond.
There was gypsum lightly scattered through the soil in our settlement. We were aware that gypsum wouldn't do in a brick. A match-head of gypsum in a brick would explode it. So we sampled clay and sod, and we explored and experimented until we found a suitable place where the material was good. This was on Ross Gulch.
We put Dave Manwaring in as overseer of our project. There were one hundred thousand brick to be made and there were only twenty men to do the work. I was assigned to construct twenty molds (five bricks to each). Waldemar Lybbert and another man made the pug mills in which to mix the mud by horsepower. Dave and others helped to build the brick kilns. There were certain men in our community who refused to turn a hand to help. On the other hand there were willing men who brought their teams.
At last we had three kilns with ten thousand brick in each. Jacob N. Lybbert, an enthusiastic worker, stayed up all night to fire the kilns. The quality of our brick was superior to that of other brick. Therefore the committee paid us $11.00 per thousand instead of $10.00. It was a day of triumph when we delivered the last of our 100,000 brick on the school ground in Vernal where the academy was to stand. Naples Ward wasn't better equipped than others to accomplish this assignment but its members on the whole were more willing than those in some of the other wards.24
Albert was ten years old when I was sustained as Bishop of Naples Ward. My wife explained to our boy that there had been instances in which a bishop's son didn't turn out well, his father being called away from home much of his time. Albert spoke right up and said, 'You'll never need to be ashamed of me. I shall always do my best." From childhood he was upright. He never had a tardy mark against his name in school He and his sister Elma set a good example for our younger children. In due time they numbered: Elma, Albert, Karl, Pearl (she died, age two years), Ruth, Frank, Merrill, O'Donnell.
Elma was the first of our children to graduate from Uintah Stake Academy. When she was seventeen she became the wife of Jacob N. Lybbert. He was a teacher in the Academy. They became our neighbors and this was nice for every one of us. Elma was an excellent housekeeper. She was esteemed by friends near and far.
About this time my father, George A. Goodrich, died. He was very sick when I called on him and he told me that he had decided to deed the farm to his first wife, Eliza. I had misgivings but it was too near the end of his days to remonstrate.
I made my father's casket according to his own specifications. It was his wish to have his body return to mother earth as fast as possible. I furnished the lumber; my wife did the trimming. Trimmings, breastplate, handles were paid for out of the estate.
Aunt Eliza's son, George L., became administrator of Father's property. He charged fifteen percent of the estate for handling the property. He deprived the Second wife and the third wife of any part of the estate. The children of my father's large family each received a small portion of the property because they went to court and demanded it.
I moved Mother's house onto twelve and a half acres of land that I'd sold to my brother Parley. In a few years she had a new house which she liked very much.
Aunt Rhoda and her family moved to Bluebell. Her six sons toiled strenuously and they prospered. This enforced move redounded to the benefit of Aunt Rhoda and each and all of her children.
George L., my half-brother, held a family council in his home on his deathbed. Each of his children signed an agreement to have me act as administrator of George's estate. But as soon as George L. passed away, they seemed to forget about the agreement. They began to lay their hands on everything that was loose. They didn't furnish me with a list of assets and liabilities such as stock, machinery, cattle, and sheep. I very soon found it necessary to call a meeting in which I resigned as the appointed administrator of their father's estate. I felt that to resign was better than to enter into confusion.
Our lovely daughter Elma died at the age Of thirty-two years, leaving five children: Glenn, Lois, Louise, Bernice, and Forest. It was a blow to all of us. Elma's beautiful, long hair had been cut off during her last illness. Her mother has kept it as a memorial all these years.26
Shortly after he graduated from high school, our son Karl went on a mission to Tennessee. He was healthy but not husky. The elder who set him apart told Karl to ask President Callis, his mission president, to send him as far north.as possible. But to this suggestion President Callis responded, "I shall send you where I please."
Karl had a very hard time with his health during his mission. He had to undergo an operation for fistula. Besides suffering that ordeal he contracted tuberculosis in the three lower vertebrae of his spine. He stayed the full mission and made the best of it.
Karl returned home a very sick man. He had to wear a plaster-of-Paris cast that extended from his hips to his armpits. Every three months he went to L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City for a new cast. A huge abscess formed and the doctors had to repeatedly drain off pus from his system. After a year and a half the doctors removed the cast and replaced it with a steel brace that Karl could manage nicely.
His clean young body responded to sunshine, fresh air and wholesome food. Despite many obstacles he won back his health. His clinic of doctors rejoiced exceedingly to note his progress. In due time they pronounced him hale and sound.
For years Karl prospered as a merchant in Naples. His grocery store was always busy.
Ruth attained a B.S. degree from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. She became a teacher, esteemed by young and old. Her avocation is art. She appreciates beauty and expresses her feelings with brush and water colors. Her taste in home furnishing is excellent. She could excel as an interior decorator.
During many years I served as clerk of Uintah County School Board. The problem of school consolidation was an ever-uppermost theme. We were always comparing the assets of different counties in Utah. Granite County was the first in the state to adopt school consolidation. Granite County was rich in taxes from Magna smelters. It could raise more money per capita on a five-mill levy than Uintah County could raise on a ten-mill levy. Park City was a district by itself and the richest in Utah. It had high property valuation in contrast to a small school population. Rich County and Kane County had low assessed property valuation. Ashley School District was well-off due to cattle and sheep. Daggett County had only thirty pupils. This district didn't need all the money it was enabled to raise. By way of contrast, Naples and Maeser had large school populations with very little money. The gilsonite mine at Dragon paid nearly a third of the taxes of the county. The small district of Randlett had plenty of revenue. Vernal City itself was well off, having corporate property in the form of hotels and stores to rely upon for taxes. There were twenty-two small school dlstricts widely scattered over Uintah County. Each district had three trustees who hired the teachers, decided the salaries and determined the duration of the school year. The schools were poorly housed. Some of them occupied tents.28
Superintendent Earl Thompson made several trips to Salt Lake City in the interest of our schools. He met with the Utah State Legislature and proposed a bill for state-wide consolidation of schools. The wealthy counties opposed it but all the poorer counties favored it. Many fairminded men in Salt Lake City boosted for Uintah County. Granite County was first in Utah to adopt school consolidation. Cache County was second and Uintah County was third. The State Legislature, of which Don B. Colton was a member, now made it mandatory for all counties to have consolidation. Don B. and I were boys together. He lived in Maeser Ward and I in Naples. He was a Democrat and I a Republican, but we didn't ever quarrel over politics.
Earl Thompson was our first superintendent after consolidation. He stood for progress. Close upon the heels of consolidation came equalization of state funds. This money enabled the poorer districts to let their schools run nine months each year the same as did the richer districts. They were also enabled to hire excellent teachers and pay them the salaries they wanted.
The building program next claimed our attention. We floated a bond of $130,000.00 to raise funds but at bond election we were defeated. Mr. Siddoway, Jacob N. Lybbert, and J. N. Davis, with untiring exertion acquainted the people with the actual need of money for school houses. Another bond election was held and we won our cause by a majority of votes.
In order to raise revenue Uintah County officials sold bonds to a bonding company in Denver. We were ready to send our bonds to Denver by insured express but the railroad company stipulated a sum of $1,600.00 insurance fee. We applied to the stagecoach company but it refused outright. So W. H. Siddoway and I packed the bonds into a couple of suitcases and started out for Denver. We each had a suitcase but one was far more weighty than the other. We journeyed by stagecoach to Watson. From there we traveled on the narrow-gauge railroad to Mack, Colorado. From Mack we traveled on the Rio Grande Railroad to Denver. We kept an eye on our precious luggage every moment. In case Siddoway wanted to doze, I kept awake and alert. When it came my turn to catch a little sleep, Siddoway watched. We kept constant vigil. At length we reached our destination and deposited our bonds in the Bank of Denver.
I was now furnished with a car in which to travel throughout Uintah County in the interest of our school building project. Some of the citizens began to resent my use of an auto furnished by our county. To their point of view it seemed a needless luxury, but it saved time and its use was of benefit to the schools.
During this time I corresponded with architect Pope of Salt Lake City. He said he enjoyed my letters because my explanations were simple and clear without the use of technical terms. He asked, "Where did you study?" I told him I had studied architectural drawing under J. L. Townsend at B.Y.A. and that it had always been useful to me.
My circle of friends grew larger week by week. Some of them were: Dr. Gowans, Francis Kirkham, Supt. Child, L. John Nuttal, and architect Monson.29
The new Presidency of Uintah Stake was sustained with Don B. Colton, president; Ernest Eaton, first counselor; Albert G. Goodrich (myself), second counselor. We served together until Don B. was called to go to Washington D.C. as a state representative for Utah. Wallace S. Calder now became Stake President and he kept the same two counselors. Later I became first counselor in the Uintah Stake. I served eleven years in the Stake Presidency. When I was called to this position, I declared to President Smart that I'd rather go on a mission to Japan which was considered a difficult assignment indeed at that time.
During the financial depression of 1931 the W.P.A. became very popular in Uintah County. It seemed as if the younger the man and the more unskilled in a trade, the better the chance for him to obtain employment. The well-trained carpenters of long experience were left out. Although I could stand up to any man in my trade as carpenter, it was hard for me to get my name on the payroll. This was a new and novel experience for me.
I was aware that Ashley Ward and Davis Ward needed new chapels. I went to Salt Lake City and had a talk with architect Young of our L.D.S. Church. I presented to him a building plan of my very own and it won his approval. In substance my plan called for:
- 1. The estimate of the cost of a chapel by the architect
- 2. The plan to be carried forward under a first-class supervisor
- 3. Local labor and some materials donated
This plan eliminated the hiring of outside contractors.
From architect Young, who approved my plan, I went to the Presiding Bishop. He was away so I talked with Elder John Wells. He was willing to let me try my plan with the consent of Uintah Stake Presidency.
The Davis Ward chapel was not built according to my plan. The building of it went to outside bidders. The shoddy workmanship of Davis Ward chapel soon became known. All the plastering crumpled, came loose and fell. The work had to be done over again by the ward members themselves. My son Merrill could feel for the people. He had hauled all the brick for their chapel. He had furnished his own truck, paid his own expenses, delivered the bricks from a long distance. He slept out many a night in his truck. On that job he lost $300.00. The Bishop would say, "See the contractor about it." The contractor would say, "See the Bishop." This seesaw between the two continued until at last Merrill gave up. There was a grain of consolation for Merrill--"He who works for Zion shall stand." My son Merrill is particularly clean in all his business relations. He can show figures on every financial transaction within his Jurisdiction. He files important letters in readiness for future reference.
I was now hired to supervise the building of a small chapel for Bluebell Ward. Architect Don Carlos Young came out to Bluebell from Salt Lake City and he gave the Bishop an estimate of what the proposed chapel was going to cost the ward. I secured the "Go ahead" from Elder George Ashton, also the consent of the Presiding Bishop, Elder Wells, and also the approval of President Murphy of Moon Lake Stake. There was no advertising for outside bidders and contractors.30
The men of Bluebell Ward went to the hills and sawed out timber and hauled it to the building ground. I had a number of inexperienced carpenters to direct. Week by week these strong, willing workers became more skilled and more thrilled. When we were ready to nail the lathes, the women came and helped. They brought a home-cooked meal for the men from time to time. When at length we were ready to paint the woodwork the women came and assisted.
On Christmas Eve there was arranged a grand celebration for the people of Bluebell in their newly completed meeting house. All were assembled in happy anticipation. Into the main room came a man carrying a huge armful of cedar wood. He filled up the stove, for he wanted everyone to feel comfortable. But alas! There were sparks flying toward the ceiling. Soon there was a blaze.
"Fire! Fire!" came from the people. But there was no water, no fire hose, no available help of any kind. It was hard on the people to watch their new chapel burn to the ground. I had an idea that our L.D.S. Church carries blanket insurance on its chapels. So I walked across the street to a telephone and I inquired of the Presiding Bishop if this was so. He affirmed that Bluebell Ward had been insured against damage by fire. This was consoling to the ward as a whole.
Very soon I was asked to supervise the building of another chapel for this unfortunate ward. Once again I received the consent of the Presiding Bishop, the Stake President and the local Bishop. As I made preliminary observation I found the ground soggy with quicksand. Twelve cement abutments had been ordered. I sent for twelve more. Hearing of this order, Elder George Ashton of the building committee for Mormon chapels, sent a man from Salt Lake City to find out what I was doing. I explained to him that this building was to be twelve feet longer than the first one. I also described the condition of the ground under the foundation. He knew at once why I had doubled the number of piers to go under the building. He was reasonable in his reaction and stated, '“ A builder can see farther than an architect."
But Elder George Ashton wasn't pacified. He had to know how it had happened that we had decided to add twelve more feet without having consulted him. I answered that he wasn't in his office on the day I called to see him. Furthermore, I explained that I'd been told to go ahead by Elder Wells, President Murphy and the local Bishop.
Elder Ashton now requested me to make a sketch specifying each and every detail that was to go into the building. I made out a clear and accurate sketch which I mailed to him very soon. But he didn't acknowledge receipt of same. Weeks later I had occasion to call upon him in his office in Salt Lake City. In an upbraiding manner he asked, "Why did you not send me that diagram I asked for?"
"I sent exactly what you asked for," was my reply.31
"I didn't receive it," was his positive reply. So I looked around a bit and said, "There it is on your desk." (Sometimes even a steer has to draw in its horns.) The men at work on Bluebell chapel did all the wiring and plumbing. They weren't plumbers, and there wasn't a certified electrician among them, yet they did the needed work and it passed inspection.
When the chapel was complete, Superintendent Ashton asked for a detailed report. My report included the following items of construction:
- 1. Excavation
- 2. Concrete
- 3. Footing
- 4. Frame construction
- 5. Roofing
- 6. Mill work
- 7. Carpenter work
- 8. Painting
Later, in the L.D.S. Church Office Building, Superintendent George Ashton came toward me exclaiming, "Brother Albert Goodrich, you're just the man I want to see. I want to compliment you on the way you managed the building of Bluebell Chapel. You actually kept the cost below the estimate of the architect." Naturally I was pleased to hear these words. He invited me into his office and added, "I have to confess that at first I was opposed to your plan. However, the Council was on your side and I had to let you try it out even against my personal opinion. You've proved to me that a chapel can be built without going beyond the architect's estimate of its cost." From that moment he became a booster for me. My plan for building chapels has been adopted throughout the church and is in force today (1955). Superintendent Ashton, Bishop Wells, and President Calder have all passed on, but architect Don Carlos Young is still alive and he can verify the truth of my words.
I now supervised the building of Myton Ward Chapel. All the willing ward workers came out and helped. Give people the idea that they can do it themselves and it's surprising what can be accomplished.
From the Presiding Bishop's Office in Salt Lake City I received contracts for the building of Talmage Chapel and Mountain Home Chapel. Just as we were preparing to start Mountain Home Chapel, the second World War commenced. The U.S. Government now prohibited the erection of buildings not essential to warfare.
Our son Frank now went into the Army Engineers. While in charge of men, machinery, and trucks, his duty was to follow the army and repair bridges. At first he was stationed near San Luis Obispo. From there he went to Hawaii. From Hawaii he went to Virginia where he remained three months for officer training. Then he went to Louisiana for another three months, where he earned the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. While in New Guinea, Frank was advanced in military rank to Captain. He had the respect of his men and he didn't have to yell at them. Once a soldier engineer got drunk and landed in jail. The culprit's face brightened when he saw that it was Captain Goodrich who had come to get him out. This unfortunate soldier later met sudden death in a car collision. Frank spoke at his funeral by request of the boy's mother.32
At this point I would like to insert a brief account of a small incident in my own experience which relates to my father's reputation as a builder.
I was teaching art in Chief Moses Junior High School in 1955 or 1956. One day the principal brought two distinguished-looking men into my room and introduced them as well-known architects from Salt Lake City, Utah. (Sorry, I do not remember their names.) Chief “Mo" was the show-place among schools in Washington east of the Cascades, and Mr. Hunt was giving them a red-carpet tour of inspection.
When they heard my name, one of the visitors asked me if I was related to, or knew A. G. Goodrich of Vernal, Utah. I was proud to answer that he was my father. Then they told me that he was a fine contractor and builder and one of the best men they had ever known.
My personal stock took a sudden upward curve" with my principal, who was somewhat of a social climber. I'm sure Dad didn't need the praise, but it did me a lot of good.
Only those who have worked together to create their own chapel can fully appreciate the value of my father's building plan. Ingredients such as love and joy and pride produce a unique mortar.
Our dear friend, LaVell Manwaring, told of an experience in New Zealand, where he and his wife had gone on a building mission. LaVell was supervising a group of sincere, dedicated, but unskilled Maoris. As the work progressed, one of the most diligent workers seemed to be getting weaker and weaker each day. Apprehensive, LaVell inquired about his health. With a big smile, the man assured him that all was well - he was fasting and praying that the Lord would bless him with the ability to lay brick as Brother Manwaring did. And the Lord did bless him - all of them. Their proficiency developed at an incredible rate. When the chapel was finished, their joy was beyond description. And that large group of men had attained new skills which would be a means of livelihood for the remainder of their lives.
My brother Frank and Elma's son, Glenn Lybbert, bear similar testimonies of the efficacy of this very workable plan.
Although I've never claimed to be much of a public speaker, my words have carried weight in council meetings, in conference sessions, and in funerals. On occasions of mourning I've been favored by the spirit of the Lord in added degree. This statement has been confirmed by the people at the funeral of young Berto Merrell. Berto was sixteen years old, another victim of the depression of 1929, when the tragedy occurred that ended his life. He was good-looking and as well-behaved as many young men who could find no work. He had been keeping company with a girl of his age whom he loved. Suddenly a young man with money and a car took his sweetheart away from him. One night when Berto was returning home, afoot and alone, he swallowed a strychnine capsule such as the sheepmen used to destroy predatory animals. As soon as he reached home he became violently ill. I was called in to help the family. Berto said, "Uncle Abe, I took the poison and as soon as I'd swallowed it I was sorry."
In Berto's funeral I was guided by God's Spirit to make a brief, straightforward talk. I didn't minimize the lad's wrong-doing, yet my words brought consolation to that griefstricken family called to part with their handsome, lovable son in the prime of his youth. Months after the funeral I could have written that sermon word-for-word, for it had come to me by the dictation of the Spirit. I was most grateful for having been enabled to give comfort to that family in their utmost need.
I've spoken at the funerals of three suicides. At the funeral of a "fallen" woman I experienced difficulty in bringing words of comfort to her parents and brothers and sisters who loved her dearly even though she had not followed the teachings of her youth. Again I received the prompting of the Lord. After the funeral her common-law husband thanked me for my kind words. This definitely proved to me that hearts are hearts the world over.
In 1944 my sons Albert, Karl, and O'Donnell moved to the Columbia Basin in Washington to develop farms under the Grand Coulee irrigation system. In the following spring, 1945, my wife and I sold our old home in Naples, Uintah County, Utah, and followed them. We rented a small house in Moses Lake, about eighty miles from the Grand Coulee Dam. At that time the population of Moses Lake was about three hundred and eighty persons. At present there are nine thousand. To give an idea of how the place has grown, ten years ago Merrill and I paid $80.00 for two city lots in the center of town. Two years later we sold these same lots for $3,000.00, This made it possible for us to build a new home without running into debt. World War II was still on and materials were hard to get, so we finished the basement first, making it into a comfortable apartment so that we wouldn't have the expense of renting. (Later we were able to rent this basement as separate rooms to construction workers who came here with the Boeing Airplane Company.) A year later, 1947, we were able to get materials for the rest of the house which makes us a very good home.
Moses Lake is only a thousand feet above sea level. This is good for Ruth's heart and for my wife's general health. Personally, I enjoy the location and the people. This is a vast area with only a dim rim of the Cascade Mountains visible in the far-distant west. It is quite a contrast to our old mile-high home in the great Rockies with craggy peaks surrounding it on all sides. But we are growing accustomed to our strange new home and I'm sure we acted for the best in coming here.34
Soon after our settling in the Basin, many other Mormons came for the purpose of getting farm land. Like us, many of them built basement homes, and the early settlers of the area were very curious and a little disturbed at this new style of “Mormon architecture". In fact, many of them were quite concerned when they began to realize the extent of the Mormon influx, for they had heard of our reputation for colonization. Some of them were a little frightened and some were even worried when they saw seagulls following the plows of these new Mormon pioneers.
I was soon called to supervise the building of a new chapel on Rose Street, the largest church structure in Moses Lake. By this time, however, the townspeople had accepted us and were very interested in the progress of this fine edifice. It was built by the members, just as those in Bluebell and Myton were built. It is up-to-date in every detail, with sliding doors between the chapel and social hall so that seating capacity can be provided for large gatherings such as conferences. With the members doing the major part of the work, we were able to build a larger and better church than we could have done with only cash donations. Then, too, each member took greater pride in its development, because each felt a personal involvement.
When Naples decided to build a new church, my wife and I were asked to go back to our old ward where I again supervised the building. The ward members seemed pleased to have us with them again, and of course we enjoyed it. That church is also modern, convenient, and in every way up-to-date.
Back in Moses Lake we sometimes reminisce over the few months preceding our moving into this undeveloped country. Most of our friends advised us against such a move. They thought us much too old to be "pioneering" a wilderness again. Perhaps this was reasonable advice, for I was seventy-four and Lydia was sixty-nine. But we both feel that it has given us a new interest in life, with a more forward outlook. Furthermore, we did not leave "Zion" as so many of our friends had feared. Our first year in Moses Lake, when there were only a few members (most of them Goodriches or Lybberts) the president of the Northwestern Mission spoke to us. He predicted that this land would develop rapidly, and that many of our fellow members would come here to take up farming. His prediction came true faster than we could have imagined. We are now part of the Grand Coulee Stake. Moses Lake has three wards and we have built a large, beautiful stake-center building where two of our wards meet and where hundreds of stake members meet for conferences.
Thus, since I was too old for pioneering, I have supervised the construction of two large churches, and my wife and I have completed a new home in which we find comfort and satisfaction. We enjoy keeping up the lawn and flowers.35
Albert, Karl, "Doc", and Merrill are still farming here, and Frank is enjoying work with a lumber and building supply company. All have built fine homes. It has taken hard work, courage, and faith to accomplish what has been done, and it has been very interesting to help open up a new frontier. Best of all, we have our sons and their wives and children near us.
I wish to digress for a little while and go back to a time during the depression years to relate an experience that taught me to be cautious regarding finances. I had some years before purchased stock in an enterprise known as General Steam Corporation and which operated in the mountains near St. George, Utah. There were eight hundred stockholders. My wife and I moved to St. George for nearly one year while I built a large machine shop and worked at developing ore claims in the mountains. While there I met Floyd Bekins of Bekins Truck Lines of Los Angeles who had invested $60,000 in General Steam and George R. Hill of railroad fame. He had invested $30,000. Other than experience, all I got out of that deal was an interesting cruise in Mr. Bekins' yacht. While I was trying to get iron from the hills, Mother was doing work in the St. George Temple. So our sojourn in Dixie benefited some of our ancestors.
When I first joined this ward the bishop asked me if I would feel let down to be called to fill the position of ward clerk. I replied, "I shall deem it an honor to be your ward clerk."
During the last few years I have been serving as Patriarch of Grand Coulee Stake. It is both a demanding and a rewarding position.
As of this writing I am eighty-four years old and my wife is seventy-nine. It is the summer of 1955 and we are in Salt Lake City, Utah, spending most of our time in the temple. We rise at five o'clock each morning and we're in the temple by seven. We are attending two sessions a day. It is not easy, but we're accomplishing our aim of doing work for the dead. Albert is paying our expenses.
As a parting word I should like to leave with my children and grandchildren my testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel as restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Your strength is in our Lord Jesus Christ and in His sustaining grace. This testimony is your key to success here and hereafter. It can make you rich. Without it you will be poor no matter how large your bank account.
Albert G. Goodrich 1955
ALBERT GARDNER GOODRICH