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Emma Morse Price

Emma Morse Price like Nephi of old was born of goodly parents 17 June 1865 at Logan, Cache County, Utah in a dug out on the corner of 4th North and 4th West. Her father, William Morse, was born 6 June 1830 to William Morse and Mary Thomas of Carmarthen Shire, South Wales. Her mother, Margaret Evans, was born 10 October 1836, daughter of Ebenezer Evans and Amy Williams also of Carmarthen Shire, South Wales.

William and Margaret embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wales. They withstood much persecution for their new religion. Margaret was disowned by her family. Their faith never faltered. They had been blessed with two daughters when they decided to leave their homeland and come to America. The girls were Mary Jane and Ann. Ann was an infant at the time and was later carried across the plains by her mother, who walked all the way.

They sailed from Liverpool, England 4 June 1863 on the ship Amazon. They had been booked to sail on the Ceylon and the last minute transferred to the Amazon, as found in the margin of the shipping record. They were present when Charles Dickens visited the ship to write about the Mormons. After observation and interviews, instead of writing the negative article he had planned to write, he wrote a very complimentary article.

They arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah 4 August 1863, (one account says 4 October 1864 with the Thomas E. Ricks wagon train that left Florence Nebraska the 10th of August,)) weary from their long trip across the plains. They rested a few days before going to Logan, Cache County, Utah where they stayed with the William Davis family until William was able to purchase a piece of land on which they build a dugout. Their third child, Emma, was born here on 17 June 1865. She was blessed by her father William Morse 6 November 1869 the same day as her brother William, according to Logan third Ward records. Emma was the only child to be born in the dugout.

They lived in the dugout until William was able to go to the nearby canyon and cut and haul enough logs to build a one room log cabin. The cabin had dirt floors and a dirt roof with canvas covering the window openings. (The other account calls the window covering “factory”.) In this cabin their fourth child and only son was born 31 August 1867, whom they called William Evans. The father often stood guard through the night with his gun as the Indians were sometimes hostile and stole most anything they could get their hands on. The men in the neighborhood took turns standing guard for the safety of their families.

When Emma was four years of age her father went to Samaria, Oneida County, Idaho where father obtained a piece of ground just West of where the Samaria church house now stands. He again cut logs from a nearby canyon and built a log cabin with dirt floors and roof. This time there was no canvas available for the windows. William moved his family to Samaria in the fall of 1869. There were only a few families there at the time. Emma said that she remembered her mother sweeping the floor with green sagebrush tied with a string as her only broom. The furniture was made of rough lumber with unskilled hands. Soap was very scarce. To soften the water, maple ashes were boiled, left to settle, then poured off through a cloth and the water used for household chores and washing. This water was also used to make soft soap. It was boiled with grease from animals, mostly pork, to make soap. The sewing was all done by hand. Most people had a few sheep. The wool was sheared, washed, corded, and spun into thread, then used to make hose, mittens, caps, and sweaters. Some of the thread after it had been dyed was taken to Brigham City, Utah to the woolen mill to be made into cloth that was used for men’s suits and ladies’ dresses.

There was no alfalfa at that time. The wild hay was cut by hand with a scythe. The grain was cut with a cradle, put on a canvas and beat with sticks to thresh it. After it was threshed the canvas was shook up and down by holding the corners. The wind would blow the chaff from the wheat. It was then hauled to Honeyville to the nearest grist mill to be ground into flour.

Emma, like most pioneer children suffered many hardships. There was little time for play and amusement. The only toy she ever had was a homemade rag doll that was very dear to her.

There were no wells in town. Everyone carried or hauled their water from a spring. The Morse family carried their water in buckets until William could build a water sled or slip as it was called. This slip held a fifty gallon barrel. The water was dipped from the spring with a bucket. Often one had to wait their turn at the spring. A canvas was tied over the barrel so it would not splash out when pulled home by the faithful oxen, Tom and Jerry. Wood was obtained from nearby canyons for all heating and cooking purposes. The light they had was called a “bitch”. It was a dish of oil or grease with a rag for a wick. Later they learned to make their own candles. The bed mattress was made form cloth stuffed with wild hay or straw when available.

One morning when the family was seated at the breakfast table the door suddenly opened and in walked three Indians. They spied two sharp knives that William had used to kill pigs the day before. They took the knives from the shelf and began talking in their Indian language that no one understood. How frightened the family was. When the Indians had their backs turned little Emma, who was sitting near the curtain that was used for the door to enter the leanto bedroom that had been added to the house slipped quietly into the bedroom. Kneeling by the bed with the pure faith of a child pled for her Heavenly Father to send the Indians away and to protect her family from harm. In a short time the Indians left without the knives. This was Emma’s first true testimony that her Father in Heaven hears and answers prayers. That day she gained an undying faith in her Father in Heaven that sustained her through her life. She never doubted that testimony of prayer. It was her anchor.

Emma related another experience she had with the Indians. Her mother often sent her to stay with Mrs. Elizabeth Thorp who was living alone. They lovingly called her Old Lady Thorp. One evening when they were preparing for bed aloud rap came on the door. Mrs. Thorp grabbed her butcher knife, holding it high she opened the door and there stood Chief Pocatello, Chief of the Bannock Indians. He was a a frequent visitor to the settlement and was called Old Poke. He was often drunk and when drunk wasn’t trusted. He was drunk that night. Mrs. Thorp asked,“What do you want?” He said, “nutting.” She said, “Take nutting and go”, then she shut the door, locked and bolted it. Emma was very frightened, but always thankful the old lady was not afraid of the Indian.

Emma’s mother could not stand to see suffering. If there was sickness in any of the homes and she couldn’t go herself she sent her daughters. One time Emma was sent to stay with Mrs. Thorp when she was ill. She instructed Emma how to fill her pipe. She had smoked a pipe since she had lived in her native Wales and felt she could not break the habit. She then said Emma was to light the “pip” as she called it with a stick she put in the fireplace. Then she said, “Now lass you will have to draw hard on it.” Emma did as she was instructed and began coughing and became very sick to her stomach. Her mother never made her stay with the old lady again.

School and church were held in a one room log building 16 by 22 feet. There was a raised portion at one end where the teacher sat and the presiding authorities sat on Sunday. They held school three months of the year. Emma had a burning desire for knowledge she read every available book including the scriptures. She became an excellent speller and frequently won the spelling matches that were popular in those days. Even in declining years she never forgot how to spell. Her grandchildren would say,“We don’t need a dictionary when grandma is here. She can spell anything and she always spells it right.” The school offered a fifth grade education. The readers that were used were comparable to high-school books of today.

Four more daughters were welcomed to the Morse Family. Rachel, Margaret, Sara, and Sophia. Their mother Margaret passed away 11 of August 1893. Emma and her sisters were often hired out to work for other people. The older girls received 50 to 75 cents and the younger ones 25 cents a week.

When Emma was 17 years of age she married John Evan Price, son of the first pioneer of Samaria. John came to Samaria with his father and older brother in 1867. They built a dugout that was the first home in Samaria. He had walked across the plains when he was 10 years of age. John was 10 years Emma’s senior, very industrious and a hard worker. He had a two room brick home built before they were married. It was built from brick made in Samaria. Emma and John took a load of wheat to Honeyville , the nearest place to sell their wheat. After selling the wheat they went on in the wagon to Brigham City, where they left the wagon and horses with friends. Taking the train they traveled to Salt Lake City where they were married in the Latter-Day Saint Endowment House 15 March 1883. They stayed in Salt Lake one night and returned to Brigham City the following day. With money from the grain they bought Emma a wedding ring, some furniture and a few supplies.

Emma was happy with her new home. It had a porch across the entire front with a wood floor. The floors were all rough lumber. It took a great deal of scrubbing and scouring to get the boards smooth and white. The only scouring powder was wood ashes and powdered brick. Later two more lumber rooms were added and a summer kitchen or shanty as it was called. Home spun carpet covered the two front rooms. Emma saved every piece of cloth available, mostly worn out clothing, tore it in strips, sewed the strips together and made balls that were used to weave the carpet. Her sister Mary Jane Jones was the proud owner of a carpet weaver. The carpet was woven into strips and then sewn together.

During the early years of Emma’s married life she knit all the hose for her family, made her own butter and cheese, made candles from mutton tallow and made soap. Soap was much easier to make now a lye was available and used instead of boiling the ashes. They were also able to make hard soap. It was boiled on the stove in a washtub.

John and Emma decided to homestead a piece of land three miles from where they then lived in what is now called Pleasantview. To prove up on the land it was a government requirement that they live on the land three months of the year. John built a shack on the land where they lived. There was a partition in the one room so wheat could be stored in one half during harvest. It was crowded and hot so they decided to make their bed under the stars. It would be cooler placing the straw tick on the ground. They were comfortable. By this time they had been blessed with two little sons, William and John. One morning when Emma lifted the baby, John, from the bed she was shocked to see a large scorpion on his pillow. Emma would never sleep on the ground again, so they were obliged to move their bed inside and put it on top of the grain, in the grain bin.

Returning to their home in Samaria they were surprised and saddened to find that someone had broken into their house and stolen the silver spoons that were a treasured gift, John’s watch and Emma’s wedding ring. She had had to leave it home because her hands were thinner and she was afraid of loosing it.

John planted an orchard when they were first married, by now there was an abundance of good fruit, apples pears and plumbs. They gladly shared the fruit with everyone and it was a special delight to the Indians that came begging from door to door.

Emma was often seen on a fast trot with her Welsh apron filled with fruit, garden produce or something she had cooked, off to share with someone.

Yes it was the constable nailing a sign on the door that read “Smallpox keep out.” The Price children had smallpox. When most of the children were improving both Emma and John took the dread disease. John was so very sick. Emma was truly worried and yet so ill herself that she was unable to care for him. The two older boy were doing the chores and farm work. The third son, Evan, was out of town herding sheep. Lewis Williams, a brother-in-law took pity on the family and came to take care of John who was too sick to raise his head from the pillow. While Emma was confined to her bed she gave birth to her eighth child, a daughter she named Esther Mae. The baby was covered with smallpox, every inch of her body. Her brother William who saw his new sister through the window said she didn’t look human. No one expected the baby to live. Emma always said the Lord had a purpose for the baby to live. Lewis Williams returned to his home as soon as John was out of danger, contracted the smallpox and Emma’s sister Sara lost the baby that she was carrying. Emma felt indebted to them the rest of her life.

A few years later John had an accident with his horses. They became frightened and ran away. He was thrown from the wagon between the horses and lit on the wagon tongue. He broke several ribs and injured his chest. He was never without chest pains the remainder of his life. When he contracted double pneumonia it proved too much for his weakened chest. He was in bed several weeks fighting for his life. Two days before their silver wedding anniversary, 13 March 1908 John passed away leaving Emma with 10 children, the youngest being only one at the time. [William Morse, born 25 September 1884, John Morse, born 1 November 1886, Evan Morse, born 2 November 1888, Ruth, born 9 December 1890, Elmer Vere, born 13 February 1893, Daniel Morse, born 13 September 1895, Margaret, born 24 May 1898, Esther Mae, born 18 November 1900, Edith, born 11 May 1903 and Emma, born 10 April 1906.]

John’s death was a great loss to Emma and her family. Many people said to Emma, “It’s too bad you have these little children.” She said, “Oh no, these little ones are my greatest blessing. They need me. They are my greatest comfort. They make me realize I must go on.”

The sons took turns running the ranch to help support the family. Emma was a hard worker and a good manager. She taught all her children how to work and the necessity of it. There were cows to milk, chickens to feed, horses and cows to tend, pigs to feed, gardens to weed and wood to chop and carry in. All the regular farm chores helped to make the family more united. The pigs furnished meat for winter. After the hams and bacon were cured they were hung in the cellar where bins were built for fruit and vegetables. Emma must make sure her family never wanted for food. One night Emma heard a noise in the cellar. Taking her coal oil lamp in hand she started down the cellar steps suddenly a man brushed past her carrying a ham. Emma recognized who he was, but did not tell her family. She said, “He must have needed it worse than we did. He has a large family to feed. I wish he had asked me. I would have been glad to share with them.” Emma had always trusted everyone, but now we had a lock on the cellar for the first time. She never allowed gossip in her home and always said, “if you can’t say something good don’t say anything.”

Emma was called Aunt Emma or Grandma Price by most of the town people. When she heard of sickness she was always there. The night was never too dark or the distance too far if she could be of service. Many times she walked three miles to feed her sister, Margaret’s baby, who could not live without mother’s milk. She nursed Margaret’s baby and her own for three months until Margaret was able to care for her own baby full time. She was given credit for saving the baby’s life.

Emma had a natural skill with sick people. Because she cared she became a good midwife. She brought more than a hundred babies into the world, many times with no help. For delivering the baby and bathing mother and baby for ten days the most she ever received was fifteen dollars, many times nothing. She was often called to assist the new mortician, young John Richards, to prepare the dead for burial. Embalming was done in the homes at that time.

At one time many houses in town had signs on them that said, “Scarlet fever, keep out.” Esther and Walter Bowen’s home was one of them. Esther was a niece of John’s and a neighbor. Emma offered her service and was under quarantine with the Bowens for six weeks. She had had the disease, but her children had not. When Emma came home she gave instructions for none of the children to go near her until she had disinfected herself.. The children were instructed to fill the wash tub with warm water and put it in the coal shed with a bottle of lysol, and some soap. After Emma had washed her hair and bathed, dressed in clean clothes, even wiping her shoes with a cloth dipped in the lysol water, she then put her clothes to soak in lysol over night. None of her family contracted the disease at that time. What a glorious reunion to be with her children again. It had seemed such a long time.

Emma was a good cook and cooked for the herders threshers and sheep shearers with the help of her daughters and her sister, Sophia, who was also a widow with a family to support. This was seasonal work, but was much appreciated a s money was scarce. It was a blessing to be able to work.

When Daniel was in the mission field Emma sent him money she thought would last for a month. A letter came saying the money had been spent and the missionary was in need of funds. Daniel had been sent some distance to preside at at funeral and the money ha had to be spent for train fare. Emma was worried where would she get the money. The next day it was Emma’s turn to say family prayer. She asked her Father in Heaven to guide her and help her secure the money. She had so much faith. She knew she could rely on her Father in Heaven. That very day a stranger knocked at the door and asked if she had a horse she would sell. Yes she did, but she was fearful about that one. He was a big awkward raw bone looking critter and she had no hopes of selling him. She showed the horse to the stranger. He didn’t care about looks as long as the horse was a good worker and knew how to pull. He was all of that, a big strong horse. Emma was asked what price she was asking for him. She was hesitant to set a price and asked the stranger what the horse was worth. Emma was happy and more than pleased when he gave her much more than she had hope to receive. Again the Lord had answered her prayer. What a good example of faith and prayer for her children. The testimony, not only of Emma, but that of her children as well was strengthened that day.

Emma was five foot three inches tall, dark brown hair and brown eyes, slim built. She was known for her fast walk. People who tried to walk with her said they had to run to keep up. Her children all learned to run especially if mother was in a hurry. It was a familiar sight to see Emma hurrying by with her Welsh string apron full of produce or cooking taking it to someone. The Welsh string apron was part of the Welsh costume and was worn by all good Welsh women. It was used for many purposes. Most Welsh ladies wore the traditional apron. There were white ones with wide lace that was handmade, knitted or crocheted. They were worn to church and on special occasions. Everyone was always welcome in Emma’s home. The first thing she always said,“Can I get yo something to eat? Are you hungry?”

Emma was active in church and community, serving in all the different church organizations. She worked on the Relief Stake board under Eliza A. Hall when she was president. She was called by Thomas Richards when he was stake president to fill two short term missions at the Logan temple. She did much genealogy and temple work. She spent one winter in Arizona with her daughter Ruth and one in Salt Lake doing the work she loved most in the temple of the Lord. She served as clerk of the village when Samaria was incorporated as a village. She served a s clerk of the school board, was registrar for many years and clerk of the elections.

Emma saw and enjoyed history in the making. Two of her sons, Elmer and Daniel served in World War I and several grandsons in World War II. She struggled through the Great Depression. She saw many changes and improvements in life, like electric lights, automobiles, air planes telephones, farm machinery that ran without horses, washing machines, electric flatirons and many more.

She passed away 16 March 1953 after much long suffering from cardiovascular disease from a blood clot in her leg at the home of Carl A. and Edith Evans, her daughter. She was buried in Samaria Cemetery 20 March 1953. Leaving a much loved and appreciative posterity of 10 children, 60 grandchildren and 108 great grand children.

I Bodell Barton Esplin have in my possession two copies of a history of Emma Morse Price. One of which appears to have been written by Emma’s daughter Edith. They have a few differences and some spelling and punctuation errors. I will type it the way I see best in November 2001.

When I sent this to my mother for her birthday she wrote the following:

I wish one of the stories you had mentioned was of Grandma being President of the Relief Society, and how many years it was. I remember my mother telling me, and the way I remember it, it was over 20 years, a real long time any way. Also on the story of her selling the horse when Uncle Dan was on his mission. The way I remember the story was that she would have sold a better horse, if it had of been necessary, how ever they much needed the other horses, and would of had a hard time doing without one of the others but the man said that that old nag was the one that he wanted. And the way I remember the story. He offered to pay, the very amount needed for uncle Dan“s mission and it was more than the old nag was worth. After he left they looked down the road in the direction the old man had gone and could not see any sight of him or the horse, and none of the neighbors around had seen them either, Of course, we can’t just go by my memory and by hearsay either I guess, but that is the story I was told as I grew up.