MARY ELSIE TERRY BUNKER (1881-1844)
For an adult to attempt to write their life's story, to me seems a very difficult task, especially when they have never kept a diary. I undertake this with regret in my heart, for not having had this wonderful little Book of Remembrance, something or some one to have encouraged me to have kept my life's history from early childhood to the present time, as there are many things that would be of interest to write here in this book that have gone from my memory. I realize now what a wonderful blessing it would be to me and my children after me had my parents and grandparents kept their Book of Remembrance to have handed down from generation to generation. So, it is with a feeling of gratitude and thanks to those that have made this work interesting enough to me to undertake to write a sketch of my life.
I, Mary Elsie Terry Bunker, the daughter of Thomas S. Terry and Hannah Louisa Leavitt, was born the 15th of August, 1881. I was born on that blistering August night among the hills of the Rocky Mountains in a little town called Hebron. The second child in mother's family of six and the 26th of father's family of 30; father having three wives, mother being the third and last wife.
My first recollection of life was in that home where I was born, which was a very good home in those days and I was very happy there. As a child about the earliest and the most I remember of those days, are of playing under the large apple and cherry trees that grew in the northeast corner of the lot. (How I loved those threes and of . hiding from the other children in our play of Hide-and-Go-Seek in the currant bushes.) There was a long row of these currant bushes and the best currants in the world grew there. Of course, there never has been any other currants quite so good to me as those were.
I remember too, of taking my little bucket and going with my mother down to the Creek for water, for there were times then, - when people there had to carry all the water they had from the Creek. Which was only a short distance from our home. Mother had to do all such things, as father was not home much of the time having such a large family.
Then too, at this time he was Bishop of the Hebron Ward which also included as a branch, Clover Valley. This was a little place about 30 miles West of Hebron just across the line in Nevada, where a few families lived. He had to visit and look after their welfare as well as take care of his large family which took a great deal of his time. He had to make the trip to Clover Valley by wagon or on horse back. Of course, I thought I was helping mother a lot carrying that bucket of water, about a glass full. The first real experience in my life, came to me when a baby only six weeks old. Of course, I'm not expected to remember things that came into my life quite so early. It was a terrible experience for my poor mother to go through, she is the one that really suffered the most. For although my life had been spared and I gradually improved until I was out of danger, and was finally well, she was the one that suffered in her feelings.
The kind suggestions of neighbors and friends were very trying, that if her child did live, her mind and her intellect would be gone forever. What a terrible thing for a mother to look for-ward to when she had and was working so hard to save her baby's life and doing everything in her power for her to think of her baby being left in such a condition. I'm sure death would have been sweet to that. This is what mother told me: -
This is what happened to me -- Mother had bathed and fixed me up so nice, made me a little bed in a large rocking chair"'(her cradle having a broken rocker and had been sent away to be re-paired). She drew the rocking chair up in.front of the large open fire place, as the weather was real chilly that morning. She had a big pine log on the fire. As I said before, she had her own chores to do. She had her cows and chickens to tend to that morning after putting me to sleep. just before going out of the house to do this work she went to see that her baby was alright, took a stick of wood and put it under the front of the rockers of the chair so that it would not tip forward and spill me out. Then she went and pushed the burning log back to the back of the fireplace. Had she not done this, I suppose the blaze would have set everything on fire, but there was a bed of live coals left where the log had been.
She then took her milk pail and chicken feed and taking my older sister, Maud (for which she says she will always be 'thankful), went to do the chores. She had not finished her work, when she felt a very peculiar feeling come over her, felt impressed to hurry to the house, which she did. She rushed into where she had left me so snuggly tucked up in my bed in that big chair. There she found me lying on that hot hearth with my head in that bed of live coals. She picked me up and I looked up at her, gave one scream and was gone, apparently dead. She rushed to the door and called her neighbor a block away, saying, "My baby has burned to death."
Her neighbor - Aunt Zina Tylor -- came running, then went back for her husband who was a lame man and had to walk on crutches. While he was coming, she ran for another Elder. When they came they administered to me, but I showed no signs of life. They then knelt down and prayed to the Lord in my behalf, got up, administered to me again and I was brought back to life by the power of the Priest-hood.
Doctors were very few in those days; the only one in the country was in St. George, a distance of 60 odd miles. They sent immediately for the doctor, but could not get him, so mother had to be doctor, and nurse. A very good one she made. She never undressed and went to bed for six long weeks. She was certainly blessed with strength to care for me. She gave me the care that restored me to health.
The whole top of my head was burned and so deep that there were seven small pieces of the bone came out which leaves quite a dent in my head. The hair has never grown there or on quite a large spot on the side of my head where I rubbed my head back and forth on that burning hot hearth. I also have deep scares on each of my cheeks and also low down on my forehead which I think is very prominent. Most people do not seem to notice them for which I am very glad.
Just how a baby six weeks old could ever get out of a chair like that and be thrown in the manner I must have been to have had my head in such a position, no one could ever understand or will ever know. Some seem to think that the Evil Spirit which prevailed at that time in that section of the country near the Mountain Meadows was trying to destroy me. Father had to combat with it so much at that time. But I do not like even to think or write about that. Father had so many harrowing experiences in connection with the Evil One those days and I have heard him tell about it-.so many times, until I never want to hear of any more such experiences.
When I grew old enough to want my hair combed and fixed in the way the other little girls had their's, I felt terrible over my afflection. I would cry and tell mother that "I wished I had died". She would always comfort me in some way, she would tell me she knew I was saved for a purpose. I often think of what she said to me when I look at my family of children.
One thing I do remember that happened before I was five years old, was the fear I had of a young man who delighted to scare me by threatening to cut my ears off. He lived with his brother, who was our neighbor, Uncle Dan Tylor. My sister and I loved Uncle Dan and Aunt Zina very much. (We called them Uncle and Aunt although they were no relation to us.) We had to pass their home on our way to school, but we would cross the street, take hold of hands and run as hard as we could to avoid seeing him and I have never forgotten about it.
It seems that the comforts of a good home, the. privileges and opportunities that one enjoyed even in a small town like Hebron such as school, church and all that go to help make life worthwhile was not to be had by mother's children. Before I was five years old, father was forced to take mother and her four little children away into seclusion as the United States Officers were determined to catch him and send him to prison. They had done this to so many other men on account of their belief and living one of the laws of God, that of plural marriage. Father would not turn his family of little children away as they would have him do.
Our first shelter there was a tent like place although not so good as tents usually are. Our bedroom was a wagon box. After Grandfather Leavitt's family moved away, we moved into their house, which was one big log room, with a dirt floor and roof. Our heating plant was a fire made right in the center of the room on the dirt floor, with a hole in the center of the dirt roof for a chimney. But father's refined character would not let his family live thus very long. Just as soon as he could, he chopped the logs, hewed them until they were very nice to look at, then with only the help of mother and we small children, he built us a very respectful two roomed house, with a nice fire place in it. We were real happy in that home in spite of the fact that we were so alone.
We soon had beautiful flowers of all kinds until that log house was nearly hid from view with flowers and vines. I was a child of Nature, I guess, for I was never. happy unless I was out of doors roaming in the forest or over the hills. I knew all the birds and their names and their habits. If I did not know their real name, I always gave them one to distinguish them by. I was called a Tom Boy a good many times, as I could climb the tallest tree, steepest sides of the cliff like mountain that was just across the creek from the house.
I was never so happy as when I could saddle our little riding pony and go for a long ride, which I usually did all by myself as my older sister, Maud, did not care for the out door life as I did, so she did not care to go with me. The boys, all younger than I, usually had other things to do.
We-first went to Mesquite a little town in Nevada, where mother's people lived. Here we spent most of the time during the next few years, where my brother, Edward, and sister, Exie, were born.
NOTE: A few extra papers were found among her papers concerning their Christmases, especially the one when Edward was born. It would be fitting to put it in here.
Christmas in our home was always a happy event, as a child I always looked forward to that wonderful time. That beautiful time in every child's life. Although we did not have the beautiful Christmas trees, toys and everything that go to make up a child's Christmas today. We enjoyed our Christmas as much and sometimes I think we enjoyed them more than the children now days do. The first Christmas I remember much about was at my Grandmother Leavitt's home. (Mother having to be kept sort of in hiding). The winters there are very mild, snow seldom, if ever, falls in that part of the country. Many of the children did not really know what a snow storm was like.
The happy times had by the children of the northern climates during the winters, such as sleigh riding, skating, all the pleasures derived from the beautiful snow, the children of the warm climate know nothing of. The stories of Santa coming with his sleigh and beautiful reindeers is not for them, but they do look forward to Santa's coming, nevertheless. He would come down the big broad chimney with his pack. So our stockings were hanging in a row by the big open fire place for Santa to fill. Christmas trees were never seen in a home, only at the children's party given in the town hall, which was usually a wonderful event.
That Christmas, mother and grandmother were busy two weeks or more before Christmas getting ready for Santa. de children were so happy for we Knew the goodies our dear grandmother could make for .us even if Santa couldn't find us away down there. We were just sure we would have cookies, popcorn balls and raisins, nuts, pommogranates and maybe a big red apple, which was a luxury in those days.
Just a morning or so before Christmas, the 21st of December, to be exact - we children had a big disappointment. When we awoke that morning our Aunts and Uncles of which there were quite a number, had quite an exciting time to see who would be the first to tell us the news that Santa had been in a hurry and came that far ahead of his usual time and left us only a baby brother. What a disappointment. We might like babies alright, but didn't know why Santa couldn't leave that job to the Stork and tend to his own work of making little children happy. But we wouldn't be cheated out of the pleasure of hanging up our stockings anyway, which was full to the brim, for we still had faith in Santa Clause, although the dear Aunts and Uncles tried so hard to shatter our faith.
We moved from place to place. Finally we went to see my grandfather Dudley Leavitt, mother's father,. who was living on a ranch in the mountains 30 miles west of St. George on the Beaver Dam wash, 20 miles north from where it empties into the Virgin River. The Indians name for that place was Hotaqua, meaning "always shady" due to the many large trees there. Here father decided was a safe place to. leave us and where he could make his way back and forth, not to be molested by the officers. After a year or two, grandfather sold his interest there to father and moved his family away.
That left us alone so far away from civilization. Here we children grew up as I said before, without the opportunities of the other children. What little schooling we did get was at a big sacrifice on the part of our parents, especially mother, as we children were sent away for what schooling we got, but that was not much. Ye would get in school one winter for three or four months, then have to miss a year or two, sometimes more, before we could go to school again. So, it was very little schooling we received. We had no neighbors, no playmates, just we six children. It really was a lonely life. . We children had to work most of the time.
In June of the year 1902, Ezra Bunker returned from a mission in the Southern States and during the first days of July, came to see me at our home in Beaver Dam. While visiting me there, he pro-posed marriage and I, of course, accepted and later on that same year we traveled to St. George where we were married in the Temple on December 12. 'We began our married life in Bunkerville, Nevada. It was there that the first of our eleven children whom we were blessed with, came to live with us. I loved and respected Ezra's mother very much for her goodness and care for me while carrying my first children. I was comforted to know that she would take care of me when the time came that I should have my child, but due to her--illness and the fact that she told me I was going to have twins, it was advisable that we go to St. George where I could have medical care. It was fortunate that we did, as I suffered much before our first two arrived. They were born on August 21, 1903, and we named them Elvin and Elfine, being a boy and a girl. It wasn't long until I made another trip to St. George where Nathan LaVer was born on February 11, 1905. Meanwhile, Ezra had gone to Beaver Dam and had made arrangements to take over his brother, Stephen's farm. We had some misfortune come upon us there as the Dan: broke and flooded the farm and destroyed all that was there. We again moved to Bunkerville and then on to Logandale, Nevada. At Logandale, we were blessed with our fourth child, a daughter, on February 16, 1907, and we named her Mary Alta.
While at Logandale, Ezra secured a freighting outfit and did a lot of freighting from the mines there to Iioapa, Nevada. I was left alone a great deal of the time we lived here and was happy when once again we moved back to Bunkerville. While in Bunkerville, our fifth child was born, December 6, 1908, and we named her Virginia.
The next year, Ezra joined a group who were going to Burtner, later called Delta, to settle that area. During that same year, he moved us there where we lived amid the hardships of pioneering and settling the land. It was here in Delta that we stayed and reared our family, having our last six children in the thirteen years we lived there. Neil Terry was born the year following, on December 18, 1910. Then came Ezra Keith on February 21, 1913. This baby lived only until June 7, 1913, when he died after becoming ill with the measles during the epidemic that struck Delta and which affected our entire family at the same time. This death brought much sorrow in-to our lives, but we were thankful unto the Lord for sparing the rest of the children. Robert Evan was born August 28, 1914. Eddis LaRae was born July 1, 1916, Walden Rich on July 6, 1919, and Carl Ellwood, April 7, 1921. I was always a little disappointed that my youngest wasn't born one day earlier which would have been the anniversary of the organization of the church. These were our children, seven boys and four girls.
During our stay in Delta, many hardships were suffered and many great experiences came to us. We lived as close to the Lord and His teachings as we could and through our faith and prayers endured the pioneer life together. I spent many sleepless hours during the terrible flu epidemic of 1918, caring for the sick and comforting those who had the misfortune of losing their loved ones.. During. this epidemic with all my close contact with those affected, I never contracted the disease and was able to help and comfort many. The Lord truly blessed us and helped us through all the trials and tribulations during our stay in Delta.
During the year 1922, Ezra moved us to Provo, Utah, where we settled on a farm on the Vineyard Bench. This farm 'we worked for two years and then moved to Salt Lake City, where we rented a house on 5th South and 2nd West. We didn't stay long in this house as it proved to be too small for our big family. We then moved to a big two story house in Sugarhouse where we lived approximately a year. This place was too far from Ezra's work, so we once again moved and this time to the north side of the city to a house on Quince Street. It was here that I began to realize my Patriarchal Blessing coring true in respect to my future work in the church and in my children growing up to fulfill their missions in life. I was called to serve in the Presidency of the Relief Society in the 19th ward and for two years enjoyed this work immensely. My children were all in school now, Carl Ellwood beginning shortly after moving here. It was during this time that a spark of interest in Genealogy -prompted me to attend classes at the Genealogy Library. I was able to do this because of the good assistance of my sons and daughters at home in helping out with the housework as well as daily work to help financially. I became a life member of the Genealogical Society of Utah on June 25, 1826, and thus began my work on the Terry lines. The Lord blessed me in this work and although I spent hours, days and weeks. in which I neglected my family I felt that I was justified and that I was called to this work through my blessing I had received from my father, Thomas S. Terry, Patriarch of the Church.
Our second son, Nathan LaVer, was married in the Salt Lake Temple to Harriet Angeline Welker on July 22, 1926. Our oldest, Elvin, left to fulfill a mission to the Southern States on June 29, 1928. This was the beginning of our family really growing up. They were now beginning to leave home to make their own way in life. We were greatly thrilled to have a son on a mission and were blessed abundantly while he was gone. This was a great experience in our lives. I had been promised by my father that some of my sons would go on missions and this was the beginning of the fulfillment of this blessing.
As the years passed, I continued my work in the Library and also did much Temple work in helping to get the work done for those whom I had found on the Terry lines. My children grew and were married. All but three were married in the Temple. We made two more moves in our life. The first, just a short distance from the home on Quince street and still in the 19th Ward. Then we bought a home on West Temple and Tenth South. I was disappointed that more of my sons had not been called to the mission field, but was comforted in the fact that three of my daughters married returned missionaries. I was thrilled when my youngest son, Carl Ellwood, received a call to also fill a mission in the Southern States. This I was sure fulfilled the blessing I had received and which I had made such an important part of my life. It was in November, 19410 that Ellwood left and this saw the last of our children leave home. We were once again thrilled and blessed with the experience of having a son in the mission field once again, but also felt, as I suppose all parents did, the anxiety of Bowing some of our sons would be called into the Armed Forces to participate in World War II. This, of course, happened and we saw our sons Neil Terry, Robert Evan and Malden Rich enter the services. Upon completion of his mission, Ellwood returned home and was married and then he too was called into the service. Neil was sent to the Pacific and Robert and Ellwood to Europe.
I carried en with much zeal and perseverance in the pursuit of my calling as a Genealogy worker and spent many long days and nights working over records, books and correspondence searching for my ancestors, This work brought me much happiness and joy and the Lord blessed me and my family hundreds of times through my efforts to serve Him and keep His commandments. Of times, Ezra, I am sure, felt very neglected and even jealous of my fervent work at the Library and at the Temple, but he was ever patient and long suffering through it all and I loved him for it.
During the year 1944, I traveled to Los Angeles and there helped Rich's wife when she returned from the hospital with her second child. I enjoyed my stay there and when it came time to return I went to town to secure reservations to return home, but upon getting off the street car I hurried in front of it to get across the street and in doing so was hit and docked to the ground by the streetcar. This was a terrifying experience in my life and - at my age it did me a great deal of harm. My collar bone was broken and I was terribly shaken up. I lay in the hospital for two weeks and then went to my son, LaVer's home there in Los Angeles, where I stayed two more weeks. My greatest desire was to get to my home in Salt Lake and I was very happy when Virginia came from Salt Lake to accompany me on the train home,
(History completed by family)
Mother and Virginia arrived home during the day of the 15th of November and those of the family who were in and around Salt Lake were there to assist her and make her welcome and comfortable. A letter from Robert was awaiting her and the family read it to her. He had been sent overseas and this had caused her much worry, but this, his first letter since arriving in Europe, reassured her of his well-being. She seemed thankful and comforted upon this news and after the children left that evening she and Father were alone and she got up to go to bed, but upon doing so, Father said that she seemed to falter and had trouble seeing her way. He helped her to the bed and there she suffered a stoke and before help could be summoned she passed on from this life. It was a very quick and peaceful death, and she was laid to rest in the Salt Lake Cemetery after a wonderful funeral in the 30th Ward Chapel.
It was said of Mother that she had truly filled her earthly mission and would receive her glory in the Celestial Kingdom and there would be a great welcome for her as she met the many hundreds of souls that it was her pleasure to bring into the Church and Kingdom of God through her many years of tireless research-and Temple work accomplished and causing to be accomplished through her work on the Terry lines. We always remember Mother for her wonderful faith and her diligent work and for her love for her husband and children.
At this writing, she has twenty-eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Due to the death of one of her daughter-in-laws in childbirth, she also helped to raise one of her grand-children.