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Incidents In The Life of Chastie Ellen Covington Chamberlain

Written by her daughter Reta E.C. Carroll

Mother was born in Washington, Washington County, Utah, March 5, 1867. She was the second child of John Thomas Covington and Johanna Lundblad Covington. Before she was two years old the family moved to Beaver, Utah. Another daughter Mary Emily was born there. Within the next two years they moved to Adamsville, Utah, where they made their home until Chastie was twelve years old. During this time with her grandmother Lundblad at Beaver, Utah. (sic) Chastie was hoarse most of the time during the cold winter months and therefore could not attend school regularly. She spent many pleasant hours watching her grandmother weave carpet.

She was swinging on the gate at her grandmother’s home in Beaver when the soldiers passed with John D. Lee taking him to Mountain Meadow for execution.

Sometime during the year 1879, the family moved to Orderville, Utah and joined the United Order. Each family had a home or rooms of their own but the community ate together in one large dining room. Chastie was chosen to help a number of other girls to wait on the tables. In early spring she and her friends would often arise at day break and gather wild flowers from the hillside to decorate the breakfast tables. Usually the prettiest buds were kept to deck the hair of the lovely little waitresses. Among names mentioned as her best friends at that time were Lovina Carroll and Ellen Meeks.

She helped care for the family because her mother was crippled with rheumatism. She enjoyed listening to her father play the violin; he played for most of the dances then.

Her father’s work in the Order was usually with the sheep. He herded on the Kiabab and several times was called to settle disputes with the Indians.

It was the custom then for girls to be married young. It was also an honor to be chosen by a polygamist, because most of them were the best managers and most respected men of the town. They were also living their religion as they had been commanded.

One young unmarried man asked Chastie to marry him but she did not care for him and wouldn’t promise. He went away to work and before he returned she married. She became the fifth wife of Thomas Chamberlain, October 26, 1883 at the St. George Temple, St. George, Utah. The wedding trip was made with team and wagon.

On their return he took her to live with his mother, a sweet little lady who lived at The Factory Farm, where several of his other families lived. Soon after that she went to share the home of Ella, his first wife. Ella and Chastie agreed very well. They never had a cross word between them. Chastie and Ella’s oldest child Elsie, who was then just a little girl spent many happy house together. Chastie was only sixteen years old and they were very companionable. Elsie wanted so much to learn to sing and Mother had a good voice. During their long walks she taught Elsie to sing.

Life was not all fun though. The United Order Woolen Factory was situated on this farm and the people living there worked in it. There they made yarn and cloth with which to clothe the people belonging in the Order. Chastie did her share. She learned to spin the wool and to weave the cloth.

Her first baby, a boy, was born September 2, 1886, at the Factory Farm. A midwife, Harriet Bowers came from Orderville to take care of her. The joy she had with her new son would have

been quite complete had it not been for the “Deps.” That was the nickname given the U.S. Marshalls who were sent out by the government to “get” the men who were practicing polygamy.

Many incidents have been told of how the men kept away from the “Deps”. One day Chastie was ironing when the signal was given to hide. She started out the back door to go hide out in the nearby hill when she saw the “Deps” climb out of their black topped buggy at the front of the house. Fearing she could not make it without attracting their attention and imperiling the others, she returned to her ironing. She had barely tossed her sunbonnet in the corner and picked up the iron when the “Deps” came to the back door. He asked her several questions. Her answers were short. He finally said, “Are you Thomas Chamberlain’s daughter?” She answered with plenty of spirit, “No, Sir, I’m not.” The “Deps” left, never even noticing the sleeping baby in one corner of the room. These persecutions kept up for a number of years. When her second boy, Hans (named for his great-grandfather, Lundblad) was six months old her husband had to serve a six month term in jail for practicing polygamy. her father was in the same jail at the same time and for the same reason. It was the only time in the life of either man that he had to serve time for any reason.

Sometime during the early years of Chastie’s married life the United Order at Orderville had been broken up at the advice of the Church presidency. Before that time Thomas had been holding important church offices. He continued to do so throughout the rest of his life both in the Church and Civic affairs. Chastie and the other wives acted as hostesses on many occasions to high Church officials during that time.

In addition to the regular work of caring for a home and babies, Chastie found time to work in the factory, make soap, braid straw and fashion the children’s hats. She also knitted the stockings for the family and made all of their other clothing except shoes. They were made at the Tannery in Orderville. The women of those days even made the lye they used by burning the roots of the Yucca plant, putting the ashes in a barrel and covering them with water. The lye would soon settle to the bottom and could be drained out through a hole in the bottom of the barrel. The water used in the homes at the Factory Farm had to be carried from the lake ditch or the spring.

The third baby, a boy named Arthur, was born at Lake Farm or Factory Farm. The seam in the roof of his mouth hadn’t grown together. This made it impossible for him to nurse and almost impossible to take any nourishment at all. The parents took him to Salt Lake City for an operation when he was 8½ months old. The trip had to be made with a team and buggy. It required two weeks. The baby died before they reached Circleville on the way home.

Chastie then moved to Orderville. The last seven of her children were born there. Not in one house however. It seemed to be her lot to moved a great deal. Four different houses in Orderville were the birth places of those seven children. When Hugh, the fourth child was eight years old they learned definitely that there was a very grave cause for this apparent languidness. He had leakage of the heart. During the next eight years of his life he was a constant care and worry, though he tried not to add to the many tasks Mother had to do.

Mark, the fifth child, was born on Christmas Night. That was without doubt the most precious Christmas gift this mother ever received. The boys were rather pleased when the next baby came, because this time it was a girl. They gave her the name of Reta Ellen. The seventh child was also a girl, Chastie Vilate. She died when she was but 8½ months old. Heber Lamar and Leola came next, he in 1904 and she in 1907. In the meantime Chastie’s mother had passed away and after he sisters had all married, the youngest brother Heber came to make his home with her.

Conference time was one never to be forgotten. Some weeks before the time set, the house cleaning would begin. Every room must be scoured from one corner to the others. The rag carpets had to be take up, new straw put under them and then the awful stretching began. The last few days were spent in doing extra cooking for the company coming. Conference lasted two days. People from the adjoining towns came Friday and stayed until Monday because the trip had to be made with team and wagon. Mother’s house was always filled to the bursting point and extra guests came for dinner. She always made twelve pies Friday morning and usually had to make more before the weekend was over. She could always find room for one more person and everyone was welcome.

Harvest time was always such a busy time at our house. Mother canned fruit for use at the sheep herd and the cow camps as well as for the use of her family. One year she filled one 40 gallon barrel with peach preserves and one with pear. It was made with molasses in place of sugar. There was a corn husking to be seen to also. The bed ticks to be filled with fresh new corn husks, ready for winter. New wool socks to be knitted for the boys and little ones. There was no time for a Mother to loaf. The children were always kept busy, too; made to feel they all must help.

Often one or more children from other branches of the family stayed at Chastie’s home to help with the farm work or just for a visit. Once when Elsie was staying for a while gypsies came to the home. John and Elsie decided to have their fortune told. Elsie was told that she would have a large family and John was to have but two children and die young and rich. That fortune teller must have missed her calling for Elsie has but two children, John has a large family and is still living and past fifty.

Thomas bought the “Carey” fruit farm at Provo Bench, now Orem. Ella and Laura, his first two wives, went to the farm to cook and care for the children from all branches of the family who went as fruit pickers. Mark went from Chastie’s family.

For several years, Chastie lived at Factory Farm most of the year, returning to her home in Orderville for a month or two of the most severe winter weather. One year the threshing was not completed until Christmas. Another time snow fell before the larger crop of apples were gathered. Most of the apples were saved, but oh, how cold the hands and feet of the pickers became and how weary the Mother was. She had superintended the work as well as cooking and caring for the babies. Another time when the older boys were in their early teens, a heavy snow storm caught the family unprepared. Father was away and the fire wood very low. The snow kept piling up until it covered the fences and reached the eaves of the sloping roof at the back of the house. The boys with the help from their mother dug trails to the barn to tend the stock and gathered up what they could find for fuel. Several days passed and no help could get to them. When the wood was almost gone, the two older boys decided they would have to get to the hills nearby someway and get a tree. They took a horse to help break trail and drag the wood back. It was a long, hard task. They finally came back with one good sized limb from a green tree. Mother decided some piece of furniture would have been to burned to keep the green wood burning. Furniture wasn’t easy to get in those days but her precious children must be kept war, at any cost so the fire was kindled. The fuel supply was almost exhausted when help arrived. Father knew how low his wood supply was and how badly he was needed. He had been fighting the storm for days to get back to his wife and children. Chastie’s father was with him and they had a few large pieces of precious wood with them.

Thomas hired Mr. and Mrs. Lane Hodges, Mormon converts from the Southern States, to stay at the Factory Farm to take care of things. Chastie soon spent her summers at Currant Canyon Dairy Ranch. She made butter and cheese to sell and supply the large family. Butter sold for 10 cents per pound and cheese for 12½ cents per pound. The boys in the early teens did the milking with help from Chastie very often. One boy from another branch of the family came to help during the summer. It was usually Lloyd or Leo. They and Mark did most of the milking. Hans was the cowboy and spent most of the summer on the range looking after the dry stock. John had married Amelia Heaton of Orderville on May 30, 1906. They spent most of the first year at Factory Farm.

Thomas let Howard, one of his oldest sons, have Chastie’s home in Orderville. She lived in the old Order Seed House while her new home was being built.

The best carpenters in the country were hired to build the new house. Thomas and the boys did all they could to help. Chastie was so pleased with her new home. It was a large bungalow type, made of native lumber. It contained a large living room (parlor then) large dining room, a kitchen, three bedrooms, a pantry, bath and two porches, our was one of the first bathroom’s in town.

During this time, Hugh’s health was growing steadily worse. Many nights were sleepless for both he and his mother. In june 1906 Leola took pneumonia. For two weeks she hovered between life and death. Hugh was very ill at the time also and no one could please him but his mother. Kind neighbors and friends came to help with the work and care for the sick. At last the baby, Leola, was better, but Hugh didn’t improve. After another winter of intense suffering he died, March 15, 1909.

Ours was always a deeply religious family. The parents were glad to send Hans to “The Murdock Academy” at Beaver, Utah to take a Missionary course. The winter he was there he tried to break himself of the candy-eating habit. When he’d feel that he had to have candy he’d put away a dime or quarter. When he returned home in the spring, he bought Mother a dinner set with the candy money he’d saved. He was always thoughtful of Mother in those days, trying to fix up the house and make life easier for her. One time he persuaded her to go out of town for a few days visit. While she was gone he had gas lights installed in her home. On another of those rare occasions when Mother was away, Hans bought a set of new dining chairs for her. The other have helped in many ways, too, to make her life more pleasant.

One incident that occurred while we were living at Currant Canyon I shall never forget. Hans and a friends of his, Howard Spencer were planning a deer hunting day. That was before the government and state laws prohibited deer hunting except at given time.s We’d eaten supper and were sitting around the table, appreciating the fact that we had a visitor. Hans excused himself and went outside to clean his teeth. Our talk was interrupted by his request to “Listen!” We could hear a baby calf bawling as if it were in terrible pain. the sound kept growing fainter and fainter. Howdy said, “I’ll bet it’s a bear!” The two boys grabbed their guns and ran, scarcely hearing Mother’s plea to “be careful.” We could hear the cattle running down from the canyon pasture to the corral. Mother went o open the gate, you can bet we children were right behind her. It was a clear moonlight night, the trees and shrubbery grew thick making large shadows. We waited, hardly daring to breathe, until a shot rang out on the clear night air! We children fully expected the boys to come back dragging some huge animal. We were rather disappointed when they returned without it. The shadows were so thick and dark they had wisely decided not to venture past the pasture gate until morning. They had shot to frighten the animal. All thoughts of the deer hunt were forgotten. At day break next morning the boys began the bear hunt, for it proved to be a large grizzly that had attacked and killed one tiny calf and slapped another one, taking the flesh and skin from its side. Men from town came and hunted but “Mr. Grizzly” was too smart for them. He met with “WaterLoo” some time later at a ranch about fifty miles from ours. We were all rather nervous for a while after that.

One day Father came up to the ranch. He looked at Mother and said, “What makes you look so different today, you look older or something.” Mother began wondering what was wrong, then he told her she was a Grandmother. John and wife had a baby girl.

The last summer spent at Currant Canyon was hard on Mother. She was expecting a baby in October. Pregnancy had never made much difference in her work, but this time she over-did. During the latter part of the summer she became suddenly ill in the night. mark who was then bout fifteen was the oldest member of the family home. There was no phone, no car, the horses were somewhere loose in the pasture. Mark was plenty frightened. He climbed the mountains west of the house and roused Israel and Lloyd, brothers, who were at the sheep came there. Israel stayed with Mother because he was older and could be more help there. Lloyd and Mark ran three miles to Factory Farm for help. Someone went from there to Glendale and brought back a midwife, Mrs. Rachel Jolley. Mother got some better but it was thought best for her to move to town. She had to spend the remaining month in bed. It was harvest time but Hans came home from the roundup and helped with the work both in the house and field.

With so large a family there were plenty to catch contagious diseases. That fall Lamar had scarlet fever quite bed. He had recovered, the house had been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, the flag taken down one week and Leola came down with it. She was very ill. Ella, the first wife of Thomas, came to help out. It was during this troublesome time that Robert, the fifth-fifth and last child of the Thomas Chamberlain family was born.

It was no surprise to the parents when Hans was called to fill a two year mission to the central states. They were proud to have his go to represent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Thomas enjoyed his family so much, he decided to have reunions to bring them all together. At first they were held on his birthday at the old home Factor Farm for one day. Once we held a three day celebration 85 members were present. WE had contests in racing, basketball, singing, reciting and story telling. The third day of our reunion we all went to Orderville and challenged the town. The day was spent in sports of all kinds and at night a free dances was given to everyone during which a grand march was given led by our father and his wives with only members of his family participating. At intermission, the Chamberlains had a program. The most interesting number being several songs sung by Thomas, the father of our large and happy family. His favorite song, “Shun the Broad Road,” was one of the songs he sang.

Mother always cake, pie or something in the pantry, especially on dance nights. We young folks always visited the pantry before going to bed. It was expected. Mother loved to give big dinners. One Christmas we served the Covington family Christmas Eve and the Chamberlain family Christmas Night. She and I loved it.

Mark was married September 16, 1915 in the St. George Temple to Sally Heaton, a sister of John’s wife.

On June 28, 1917 Hans was married to Mercy Blackburn of Orderville, a very talented pianist and seamstress.

When the United States entered WW I, ten sons of the Thomas Chamberlain family were in the first draft age. Two of them were called and another volunteered. Hans went into the service. His first son was born a very short time before he was called to France.

Three months before her son was sent into active service, Chastie and the four other wives of Thomas had to say goodbye to their husband. One wife had preceded him in death. He died March 17, 1918 at Kanab, Utah after an illness of several years, having suffered from diabetes.

Now added to the worry of having a son in the armed forces, Chastie was left with the entire responsibility of raising four children. Thomas had died without leaving a will and though each wife had her home and there was plenty of property, it had to go to court and ready cash was hard to get.

Reta was married September 26, 1918 to Edward Giles Carroll of Orderville at the St. George Temple, St. George, Utah.

The winter of 1919 and 20 the dread disease flue swept our part of the country. As soon as Chastie’s three small children were well enough to go their married brother’s and sisters, she went to care for her brother John Covington and his family. They were all ill. They lost three grown children in two weeks. A short time after a baby boy was born to them.

Leola married Delbert Brinkerhoff of Glendale, August 24, 1923 at Kanab, Utah.

Chastie homesteaded land at Mineral next to some her son Mark was proving up on. It was hard for her to stay on the homestead and leave her two boys in town to work, only the thought of having more property to help them out kept her there nine months of each year for three years.

On October 14, 1925, John’s wife died of pneumonia. She left seven children, the youngest just one year old. When their home burned down about three years later, it was to Mother’s house they were taken and made welcome until they could build again. Those motherless children have been just as dear to her as any of her own.

On his nineteenth birthday, October 24, 1929, her youngest son, Robert, was married to Lasca Hamblin of Kanab. The next spring he was working as an oiler on a rock crusher for the State Road construction. His hand was crushed so badly it had to be taken off. How her heart ached for him as she tried to help him through the suffering, both mental and physical, for her was very sensitive.

LeMar married January 24, 1931, a girl who was teaching school in Orderville. She was M(?)argie Talbot of Oak City, Utah.

Mother had always longed to travel but limited means and so much to do had prevented her from taking many trips. Occasionally she went with one of the boys to Salt Lake, St. George or to visit her daughters who had moved away. During the summer of 1939 she accompanied her niece Chastie Esplin on a trip to Kirtland, New Mexico to visit relatives. They went by bus. It was her first real pleasure trip of any distance. She and Chastie had been next door neighbors for several years and gained so much enjoyment from each other’s company.

Mother felt it her duty and pleasure to help wherever there was sickness among her family or folks. She was present at the birth or shortly after of every grandchild, helping with the work and the nursing. Whenever there were broken bones or contagious disease epidemics, Grandma was on hand to help. She worked as hard as any of her children until she was pass seventy, then her health began to fail fast. She had probably not been very well for sometime but she was never one to complain of think of herself.

She had gone to Beaver to attend the funeral services of her half sister, Lydia, home and to Junction to see her youngest daughter Leola. She didn’t stop to rest, it seemed she didn’t have time to do all of the things she felt she must. She returned from Leola’s only to come to Fillmore to help Reta. She had been there about three weeks, mending, helping make quilts and rugs and had insisted that the pig be butchered so that she could help care of the meat and grease while there. If Reta suggested that she and Reta do some visiting she always answered that she’d rather stay and help get things done up. She must have know it would be her last chance to help.

On the morning of December 9, she suffered a slight stroke on her left side. The doctor said it was caused from her age and the hard work she had done in the last forty years. Reta wondered if the war which had just broken out had something to do with it. It was two days since Pearl Harbor. Perhaps the thoughts of the last war and the worry and suffering it had caused and the knowledge that now she’d have several grandsons as well as sons who might have to go, was too much for her. She wanted to go home so the children came for her. She regained that use of her arm and leg but her nervous system would not relax. She could think of nothing but herself now and her afflictions. She was entirely different than she had ever been before. Where she had always been easy to please now nothing suited her. She seemed in constant dread of another stroke. Her health grew worse. Thinking a change might do her good she was taken to the home of her brother John she became weaker and would rather remain in bed. She stayed there of her own choice until two days before she died. She requested to be taken home. There she died June 17, 1942. One of the best mothers God ever made.

At her death she was survived by seven children and 42 grandchildren.

She had always taught her children to live clean decent and useful life.

Her’s was not a life of public service, although she did work in the Primary Association for some time and was a Relief Society Visiting Teacher for years. She was also Captian of the D.U.P. for a while, but she was happiest when helping her family and many friends. She was “Aunt Chastie” to most of those who knew her.