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Memories of Grandpa and Grandma Stolworthy

Thomas & Matilda Jenkerson Stolworthy

by Lucy Stolworthy Burnham

The memory of Grandpa and Grandma Stolworthy are the most vivid of all my life, and especially of my childhood memories and of our life in Huntington, Utah. From the time I was a very small girl I was in and out of their home as much as I was my own parent’s home. I can see with my eyes shut their little red brick house of three rooms and a front porch. It was a pleasant home, always neat and clean, and the cheerful sound of farm activity with chickens, pigs, cows and horses all making it a real farm home. The two-room log house that I can first remember later became associated in my mind as the granary, for after it was replaced by the red brick house, it was used as a store room. I remember that Grandpa was very neat about his out-door premises. Fruit was scarce in Huntington and Grandfather always stored away a barrel of apples that found a place on Christmas. They were distributed around among all the grandchildren, and how we did enjoy them.

Grandmother’s life was almost as uncertain as a doctor’s, for she never knew when she would get a call as a mid-wife. Let a team drive up and stop at her gate and she would run for her shawl and satchel. That satchel always intrigued me, and I longed to look inside of it, but never dared. I was told that she always kept a baby in it and I was prone to believe it because she seldom made a visit to the sick but a baby was left with the sick woman. Yet when one of my baby sisters arrived, while I was away to school, Grandmother solemnly declared that she found the baby in the flour bin, when she went there for flour to make some bread. Anyway, I wish now that we knew the number of babies that she delivered, it would be quite a number I am sure. No one knows better than I the sacrifices of the noble mid-wives of the early pioneer days, and the courage of the mothers, for six of my children were born without medical help. Grandmother was a natural born nurse, for her hands were gentle and sure and she could soothe me when I was ill as no one else could do. Plump capable Grandmother, and dear, gentle Grandfather, is the expression that comes as naturally to my lips as my very breath of life.

Grandfather, as I remember, was tall and rather rawboned with kindly blue eyes, with a decided twinkle in them. Grandmother had wit and humor that won her way into our hearts, but Grandfather had gentleness. He could bluster about, in a quick sort of tempery way, but always the blustering gave way to simple gentleness. There was a time that Grandmother and my mother decided to surprise him with a party on his birthday. Everything was in readiness and Grandmother couldn’t budge Grandfather from his own fireside. “Let’s go spend the evening with Tom and Lydia,” she urged. But he shook his head, “Tom won’t be back from Price,” he declared and settled himself in his favorite chair. At last Father and Mother trumped up an excuse and sent Tilly and me after him. We were to tell him that our only cow “Honey” was choking to death on a potato that she had tried to eat. Grandfather got up from his chair in a hurry sputtering all the way about Lydia never cutting her potatoes small enough for the cow. Tilly and I had a hard time keeping up with Grandfather, but we wanted to see the fun, so we arrived right on his heels. The house was poorly lighted with one coaloil lamp and Grandfather rushed through the door exclaiming, “Damit all, Lydia, I’ve told you to cut the potatoes small for the cow. Serve you right if she’d choke to death. Hand me that lantern.” The crowd laughed loudly and he sidled up to Mother and put an arm about her shoulders, “Well Lydia is a fine woman, but she don’t cut potatoes small enough,” He defended. Grandmother came panting in for we had left her behind in our hurry. She grabbed Grandfather by his coat tails and danced about the room until he was in good humor again.

Grandfather worked hard those first years in Huntington, and with Grandmother’s help, for she was more frugal than he, they soon became very comfortably fixed. They had a comfortable home, a farm well-equipped for those times, and he owned some stock in the Co-op store. In later years when Grandfather’s health began to break, he spent a great deal of time in the store. When sent to the store on an errand I would find him there, sitting on a barrel of molasses or keg of nails and at sight of me, he would begin to sing:

O, Lucy, dear Lucy, O, why in such haste,
O'er the fields and the meadows all day have I chased
Searching for a fair maid who does me disdain,
And aught to reward me for all my past pain.

I have heard the song sung by no one except Grandfather, and in my heart it is our theme song. I have always imagined that it was an old English ballad, but if it had many verses as ballads do, I never heard them. He loved to sing and we loved to hear him sing. I think most of his grandchildren remember the following song which he always sang to us, and believe me, he could make his mimic of the old tom cat in his dying words sound to perfection like such a cat.

Mrs. Gripe was so fond of tripe,
No poor soul was thinner,
In her Sunday clothes to market goes
To buy some tripe for dinner.

As she was passing along the street,
She happened on neighbor Tidy,
Who said to her, now don't you know
You shouldn't buy tripe on Friday.

You mustn't buy tripe on Friday,
You mustn't buy tripe on Friday,
No, you mustn't, indeed you mustn't
You shouldn't buy tripe on Friday.

But on she went, the tripe she bought,
She hung in on the dresser,
Her pet tom cat was standing by
he soon did make it lesser,
A large piece stuck into his throat,
Which choked him neat and tidy,
And as he died, he seemed to say,
You shouldn't buy tripe on Friday.

This is as the song lives in my memory. If anyone remembers it differently, it can be reconstructed or left as it is. I don’t think that any two people remember a song alike.

Strange today, how the memory of their goodness and faithfulness stirs within me, but I could write on and on about them. The thing that has always impressed me was their faithfulness to the gospel. Leaving England, as they did, banished from their homes and loved ones. The long, hard trek across the desert to gather with the saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, the pioneering in Southern Utah, and Nevada, the lonely small graves that marked the way of their wanderings, how could it not have left scars upon their souls? But as I remember them, there was no bitterness within their hearts, only a firm thankfulness that the gospel of Jesus Christ had reached them in far-off England, and a thankfulness that they had the courage of standing by their convictions. I remember that Grandmother told me once of a young married couple who had joined the Church and left England with them, and during their stay in St. Louis, the other couple decide to return to England, and renounce the religion, if need be. Her voice was always filled with pity as she spoke of that instance, and I knew that she was thankful that she and Grandfather had not faltered in following the path that they had chosen. And so I am thankful for my heritage and hope to be as true to the faith as Grandfather and Grandmother were. And then perhaps I shall hear Grandfather’s voice as he welcomes me to the great beyond still singing:

O, Lucy, dear Lucy, O, why in such haste,
O'er the fields and the meadows all this day have I chased,
Searching for a fair maid who does me disdain,
And aught to reward me for all my past pain.

– Lucy Stolworthy Burnham