My parents were Hyrum Smith
Phelps and Mary Elizabeth Bingham Phelps. I was born August 26, 1877
at Montpelier, Bear Lake County, Idaho. I was just sixteen months
old when the family reached Mesa. The first house Father built was
on the east side of Hibbert Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues.
Among my first recollections of this place was the first Sunday
School I attended, It was held in the school house, a one-room
adobe. Hannah Peterson (Miller) was the teacher. We recited the
alphabet from cards. We were seated on a low bench in front of the
room. I attended my first Primary with my sister Lucy. We were very
devoted to each other. One never went without the other. Each week
we listened anxiously while the secretary read the program for the
following week, but we were never on it.
When I was nine years old, the school put on a program and every
child in the room was given a part but me, I felt disgraced, and I
never even told my mother. I always remembered the feeling I had and
in the sixteen years I presided over the Primary I always favored
the backward child and never slighted anyone to my knowledge.
Father built a long room on the back of the house to accommodate the
growing family. Grandma Bingham lived
us awhile before moving into a house on Broadway just east of Mesa
Drive. We children were staying with her after Father was taken to
Yuma to the penitentiary. The officers came there one night looking
for Mother; they had a warrant, and Grandma wouldn’t take it, so
they threw it on the floor. I thought she wasn’t very polite.
When I was twelve years old, Mother gave me an accordion for
Christmas. I soon learned to play it. A few years later, she and
Lucy gave me a larger one which I kept until after I was married.
One time Father went to Tempe and bought a bolt of cloth called
Zephyr gingham; it was a beautiful plaid. As I remember, five of us
girls had dresses alike. Lucy and I always dressed alike. Most
people thought we were twins.
The first M.I.A. I attended had only one class for everyone. Pres.
Charles I. Robson told the story of Joseph Smith’s first prayer.
That was the first time I had heard it, and I have never forgotten
how it impressed me. Soon after this Lucy and I were asked to sing
at one of the meetings. We sang, “Write Me a Letter from Home.’
After that I think we were asked to sing at every public
entertainment held in Mesa until after I was married. Lucy and
Grandma Phelps bought us an organ which I learned to play by ear.
Father and I played for the dances at Lehi a few times. I earned
$2.50 over the Christmas holidays playing out there. I left my organ
there during that time so I wouldn’t have to carry it back and
Lucy and I joined the choir when I was sixteen, and I sang with them
for twenty years. I memorized 200 hymns besides the anthems we sang.
I well remember the first dress I made; it was a real pretty blue
and I wore a blue ribbon around my waist. Mother’s sister, Anner
LeSueur sent me the ribbon because they told her I looked so much
like her. In the summer of about 1891 there was a conference held at
Pinetop, and Mother and Aunt Clarinda in company with quite a large
group of saints, attended. Brother William took them. It took six
weeks to make the round trip. Amy was about four years old. While
they were gone, I made Amy a dress. I made it a plain tight waist
with a full skirt that came nearly to her ankles, and it was so
tight I could hardly fasten it. She had it on when mother came and
when mother saw her she began to cry, and she said Amy looked like
we had starved her.
One night at a dance, John S. Allen, known as Seymour, came into our
lives. He rushed across the floor, came up to me and said, “Come on
, Caddie, let’s dance.” Then he saw his mistake, and after an
apology, asked me to dance. From then on he never failed to dance
with Lucy and me. Later on he began making regular visits to our
home, but we did not know which of us he was most interested in. We
had a lot of good times together. One night he asked if he could
take me home. Up to this time he had never taken us any place. He
had a lady friend and we were just side issues, but after this night
we knew which was his favorite.
John S. and I kept company for about nine months and were married on
Oct. 2, 1895. We had a quiet wedding at our home on the corner of
Hibbert and East First Avenue. Only close relatives were invited.
The ceremony was performed by Bishop James Malen Home. We stood at
the head of the table, and the guests were seated around it, ready
to partake as soon as the ceremony ended. Mother and Lucy had cooked
a very fine dinner. When we went through the kitchen to be married,
Mother and Lucy were standing by the stove. Mother was crying and
Lucy looked sad, but I couldn’t see anything to feel sad about. One
week after we were married, we started in company with Eli and
Medora Openshaw for the St. George Temple. It took six weeks to make
the round trip.
When we returned home we started housekeeping in a two-rooms of the
house built for Warner and Fannie Allen. It was here our first
child, Charles Ashael, was born July 31, 1896. At this time the
monthly fast meeting was held on the first Thursday of the month,
and he was blessed by Grandpa [Charles H.] Allen.
We moved into a 2-room lumber house with a lean-to on the back that
Father had built on 20 acres Grandpa Allen had given Seymour at the
corner of Broadway and Stapley. On Feb. 15, 1898, Blanche was born.
When she was four months old, J. S. was called on a mission to the
Southern States. He left in June and I milked eight to ten cows
while he was gone. Esther stayed with me and cared for the babies
all the time. Mother was very good to me. I used to wonder how I
could get along without her. I did all the sewing for the six girls,
Lucy, Hattie, Amy, Esther, Clara, and Gertrude. At this time Lucy
was working in Johnson’s store and did a lot to help the family.
I was blessed while I. S. was gone. We all enjoyed good health. When
it was time for him to be released, I went to Utah in company with
my parents, Father Allen and his wife, Annie. Uncle Perry Bingham
met us at Price, Utah and took us to Vernal where I stayed until I
heard from John S., then I went on to meet him in Cove, Utah.
After we returned home, Seymour and Warner went into partners and
bought eighty acres on Baseline. Hyrum Loren was born Oct. 7, 1901
and Barbara Oct. 5, 1903.
John R. was born Oct. 29, 1905 and was just a few months old when
Seymour sold the 20 acres and bought 60 acres two miles east of Mesa
on the Apache Trail from Mr. Lamb. This was where Gove Liahona was
born July 26, 1907. Then John Seymour was called on another mission,
this time to the Eastern States. President Ben Rich was his mission
president both times. I was left this time with more work and more
responsibilities. Ashael was a big help to me. One of my sisters
stayed with me most of the time and helped.
I. S. came off his mission June 1909, and Mary was born Sept.
1,1910. On March 27, 1912, Eldred Phelps was born, but lived only
six weeks. This was the first real sorrow to come to us. July 8,
1914 Russell Hoopes was born. In the Summer of 1915, we moved to a
320 acre ranch four miles south of Gilbert.
Seymour had gone into partners with his olderbrother Warner and
acquired a 320-acre farm four miles south of Gilbert. This was
entirely alfalfa at the time but was later planted to cotton.
December 2, 1915 Ashael left for a mission to the Southern States
and June 5, 1916 Ben Rich Allen was born, and November 5, 1917,
Joseph Seymour was born. Two babies were born while Ashael was away.
When Joe was about eight months old, I took a little motherless
baby, Robert Southers, four months old, to raise. I kept him nine
months , then his aunt, Mrs. Ellingbow, wanted him so badly that J.
S. told me I shouldn’t be selfish and keep him, so I let her have
After several years the depression came on and we decidedJ. S.’s
brother, Benjamin, should live with us for a couple of years. J. S.
sent him on a mission. Chancy, Seymour’s older brother, lived with
us a lot. October 11, 1920, Della, our twelfth and last child
was born three days after Loren had left for a mission. He labored
We struggled along for several years. The depression came on and we
decided to rent. The boys wanted to finish school. As J. S. couldn’t
run the ranch alone, he decided to rent it out. We bought us a home
in Mesa at 48 West Second Street and lived there for a year or more.
J. S. and his brother Jim took ajob building fence along the
railroad. It was at this time that the next great sorrow came when
Della died of mastoid infection Nov.
We sent Gove on a mission to the Eastern States and in February 1935
we sent Russell to the Samoan Island to fill his mission. Before he
returned home, we sent Ben in March 1938 to Argentina.
All our family have very fine companions. We are very proud to have
them to associate with. In all our family gatherings, they are with
us one hundred percent. We are very proud of our family and their
families, and always pray for their success in righteousness.
October 29, 1945, we held our Golden Wedding Anniversary, the first
time all the family had been together for a long time. For the
reception, Ashael came from the Spanish American Mission, Ida from
Los Angeles, Russell from Kirtland, New Mexico, and Mary from
Vallejo, California. We had a dinner at the ranch home. All ten of
the family and twenty-seven of the grandchildren were present. We
all had a lovely time. After this gathering Ida was called to labor
with Ashael in the mission, taking George with them.
My mother was very strict about us attending our duties and being
punctual. Because of this, the Sunday School Superintendent called
me to be a substitute teacher when I was quite young. When I was
seventeen I attended Conference and they reorganized the Stake
Y.L.M.I.A. and I was surprised when they sustained me as secretary.
I served in that capacity for twelve years underfive presidents, Ann
ElizaLeavitt, JannettJohnson, Lulu Macdonald, Fannie Dana and Mary
Hibbert. Soon after I was released, I was chosen stake secretary for
the Relief Society. I held that position for about six years. I was
released to be president of the Mesa First Ward Relief Society. I
served about a year and we moved to Gilbert. There was no Gilbert
Ward then, and we were in the Chandler Ward. After this I served
about sixteen years as president of the Primary for Chandler,
Gilbert, and Mesa Wards. I was superintendent of Religion Class in
Gilbert the same time I was President of the Primary. At this time
John R. was attending high school in Gilbert and he assisted me with
We rented our ranch and bought us a home in Mesa, but stayed only a
year or so. At this time I was president of the Primary in Gilbert
and Bishop Haymore asked me to preside there until Barbara came home
from vacation, and before she came I was made president of the Mesa
First Ward Primary. I presided over both of them for about six
weeks. I have been president of the Gilbert Relief Society two
different times, second counselor to Grace Nielson and then
president in the Mesa First Ward Relief Society, second counselor to
Adelaide Peterson in the Stake Primary, and I held several other
positions. Now at the age of seventy-four, I am a Relief Society
district teacher and a Guide teacher of four boys in the Primary of
the Mesa Ninth Ward. I am very thankful for the many opportunities I
have had to serve.
March 1942 was the Centennial celebration of the Relief Society, and
the General Board requested that pioneer stories be brought before
the public as much as possible. I was president of the Gilbert
Relief Society at that time. I read several good stories and decided
to put them into a pageant. I had fine cooperation, and it turned
out to be a success. We played it in six different wards. I also
wrote two other pageants which were very successful, an Easter
pageant and one on the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood. In
doing this work I received some of the greatest joy of my life.
Another thing that I enjoyed a lot was putting on entertainments
with the Primary children. I found a lot of work doing these things,
but when it was all over, there was unspeakable joy that came to us
seeing the happiness that came to the children.
The Lord has been good to me for which I am grateful. We have been
relieved of pain through prayer and being administered to many
times. My first relief came when I was first married. I had an
ulcerated tooth which was so severe I didn’t think I could stand it
any longer. John S. administered to me and relief came instantly.
Another time when I was alone on the ranch with the little children,
I became very sick. My head pained so badly at times I wasn’t
conscious. John was nine years old. He went off by himself and
prayed for me. All at once a quivering feeling went through my body
and with it went the pain. I couldn’t account for it until he told
me he had prayed for me. John had been instantly relieved twice when
his father administered to him when he had gathered ears.
One time when we had been helping the Chandler Ward top maize to pay
off on their piano, we came home after dark and found Loren crying
with pain. As he drove the cows around the haystack, they loosened
the derrick fork and it swung around before he knew it, striking him
on the leg and puncturing the bone. The pain was so severe he
couldn’t stand to have us walk across the floor. He immediately
called for his father to administer to him, which he did, and the
pain left as he took his hands off, and it never returned. For these
and many more blessings too numerous to mention, I am grateful.
Barbara Phelps Allen
row: John Seymour Allen, Barbara Phelps Allen, (child)
Esther Phelps Whatcott, Gertrude Phelps Wilson, Lucretia
Phelps Pomeroy, Clara P. Robson, Harriet P. Miller.
Second row, kinda going up and down, Charles I. Robson,
LaVell Whatcott, ?Bessie Whatcott, (child) Dorthy M.
Kellis, Wanda M. Reilly, (between) John Edwin
Miller, (child), Jean M. McAtee Parker, (front) Zelma
Crandall Miller, Rebecca Allen Phelps, Elizabeth Phelps
White, (back) Ruth Ann Woods Crandall, Paul L. Crandall,
(front) Lorna Miller Larson, Elwood Larson.
Third Row: Barbara Allen Crandall, Morris Coleman,
Orwell Vance, Lucy Fryer Vance, Wendel Miller, Lin
Miller, (one of the
Reillys?) Orson Allen Phelps, Amy Jo McLaws Sawyer,