Gove Edwin and
Effie Ellsworth Phelps
Children: Villa Maxine,
Wayne Ellsworth, Worth Lovell, Rex
The family of Hyrum Phelps and Mary Elizabeth
Bingham Phelps was among the first to be sent from Idaho to Arizona
to help settle the Salt River Valley. On the cold winter night of
Dec. 2, 1878 this group of travelers had stopped at Lee’s Ferry to
await the arrival of Mary Elizabeth’s new baby, Gove Edwin, then
proceeded on their way the next day towards the valley where they
established their first home on south Hibbert Street between First
and Second Avenues.
Gove was a happy youngster. He was always obedient and respectful to
his father and mother. He loved all his brothers and sisters dearly.
When he was little he loved to jig. Some of the Burnett brothers
used to get him to dance for them, for he was very adept, keeping
time with his feet to the bones which he rattled as he danced.
On the homestead was a very large swing which the children took
turns using. Gove loved to swing but he was often provoked by Jack
Hibbert and his brother who would “pants” him or take him down to
chew his ears.
When he and Guy were small, they used to go out on the desert on
West Broadway and drown out squirrels which they took home for pets.
One of his duties in the family was to go afterthe cows.
Heusedtoride oldPuss. On one trip he lost the old blue coat which
was sorely missed by the family, for it was one of the warmest they
owned. During the summer months, he and his brothers worked on the
header to earn money to go to school
He first attended school at the building which stood at Center and
Second Avenue. After he graduated from the Mesa schools, he went to
Provo to the Brigham Young Academy from which he graduated in the
school of commerce. To earn money to go to the Academy he used to go
to Cove, north of Logan, to work for Uncle Levi Allen on the
thresher. He was working there at the time his father came home from
his mission in 1900.
During his early manhood he went with Belle Coleman and Deborah
Allen. Aunt Barbara used to trade him her buggy for his cart so that
he could take out the girls.
While he was going to school, he was very short of funds, for one
summer after the harvest was over he had made no profit but his room
and board. He used to sew cuffs to the sleeves of his coat and wore
a dickey, which looked like the best of shirts of which he had few.
He was the most jovial of fellows and was always well liked by his
school mates. He never missed an opportunity to joke, tease and have
a good time. One time during his schools days at Provo, he and
Elijah Allen were dared to run around the block in their underwear
in the snow. They both obliged, clad only in their winter longies.
At graduation time his sister Hattie sent him money which she earned
sewing for Fannie Allen, to buy his class picture.
While away at school he renewed his acquaintance with Effie
Ellsworth whom he had known in Mesa. They fell in love, became
engaged and were married Dec. 21, 1904. Effie’s mother gave them
apart of her lot for a wedding present. Gove borrowed money, built
the house which still stands at 122 North Macdonald, They moved in
the night of their wedding.
After he was married, Gove worked for the Standard Oil Company, the
0. S. Stapley Company, and North Hardware. In a building which stood
on Main Street he opened a bicycle shop. During an election year,
after the returns were in, he made a cemetery in the vacant lot next
door and “buried” the losing candidates with appropriate epitaphs on
He decided to build a building for his own business, borrowed money
and built the Rex Hotel building. In the back was a warehouse where
he operated a hardware store. The family lived upstairs and managed
the hotel. In the front was a garage. Later, the front was made into
a lobby, apartment and more rooms for the hotel and the back part of
the building was added. During the depression years, when the hotel
was going badly, the grocery store was added. The latter part of
Gove’s life he spent in managing the hotel, repairing its many leaky
faucets, bad light switches, and innumerable odd jobs which
constantly consumed his time.
At no time during his life did he ever neglect his church duties. As
a small boy he was very conscientious in all of the duties required
by the office that beheld. He never neglected paying an honest
tithe, not doing anything for his family or for those who were in
He and Effie were the parents of five children, Kenneth, who died
at birth, Maxine, Wayne and Worth, who were all born at the home on
North Macdonald, and Rex, who was born after they sold their home
and moved to the hotel.
Gove spent a great many hours in the building of the First Ward
Church. He was councilor to the bishop of the ward for fourteen
years. He had a beautiful tenor voice and faithfully sang in the
choir all his life. He made many trips to the desert for wood for
the church. When he was asked why he didn’t take credit for the wood
on his tithing, he remarked that he didn’t believe in letting his
right hand know what his left hand was doing. The countless deeds he
did for the poor, the widowed, only he knows. He never missed an
opportunity to do good when and where he could. Many times when his
wife asked him where he was going with a sack of groceries under his
arm, he was on his way to visit some unfortunate family. His
generosity knew no bounds, even if it meant sacrifice and hardship
for himself. He denied his family nothing, but asked only the
necessities for himself.
His greatest pleasure was in the hunting trips he took with his
brothers, friends and sons. He was the most devoted of fathers.
There was nothing to big or too small for him to do for his children.
His grandchildren, the ones who remember him, adored him. He spent
countless hours making swings, teeter totters, and a swimming pool
for them. He always carried Blackjack Gum in his pockets for his
grandchildren- No matter how many things needed to be done, he found
or took time to ride them piggy back or wrestle or play with them.
No grandfather was more loved or worshipped than he.
Gove had extremely good health. Only one time in his life when he
ate grapes and drank a lot of ice water was he ever seriously ill.
After some strenuous lifting, he complained of a pain in his side.
He thought he had better see a doctor. After the diagnosis, he went
to the hospital for an appendectomy. He seemed to know that he was
going to die and begged to be taken home, for he feared dying alone
in the hospital. He suffered several heart attacks, both in the
hospital and at home which finally took his life when he was 64
years old, July 23, 1941. He was buried in the Mesa Cemetery, loved
by thousands for his generosity, his thoughtfulness, and his loyalty
to his friends and family.
Villa Maxine Phelps, md. Earl Milton Lines
Wayne Ellsworth Phelps, md. Mary Zee Hill
Worth Lovell Phelps, md. Grace Naylor(div), md. 2nd Nancy Pennington
Rex E. Phelps md. Elaine Spilsbury