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Mary Elizabeth Bingham Phelps
by Barbara Ann Phelps Allen, her daughter
 

Mother was born on Christmas day, 1853, the daughter of Calvin Perry and Lucretia Thom Bingham. Her early life was as useful and busy as were her later years. She worked out some, and also helped her grandfather Ashael Thorne make butter and cheese plus other work to be done on a farm.

When she was a young lady, she earned money to buy herself a nice yellow calico dress with black dots in it and thought it most beautiful. She, like Father, loved to dance and said often after they had danced until after midnight, a crowd would get into a sleigh and ride until daylight.

She had quite a number of boy friends, one in particular she liked real well, It was while she was keeping company with him that she married Father (Hyrum Smith Phelps) as a plural wife. She said she didnít know why she did it, but supposed it was meant to be that way.

At the time she married they lived in Montpelier, Idaho, but the winters were too severe so they moved to Mesa, Arizona after three daughters had been born, Laurett, Lucy and Barbara. Laurett died of diphtheria before they left Idaho.

The journey to Arizona was a long hard one, especially for mother, as she was in her last months of pregnancy. The company laid over three days at Leeís Ferry because of her condition, and on the third day, Dec. 2, 1878 her oldest son, Gove Edward, was born. They arrived in Mesa Jan. 17, 1879. Mesa was practically a desert when they arrived and they lived in tents the first three months until Father and his sons could make adobes to build a house.












 
Seated:  Hyrum S., Gertrude, Amy, Orson, Mary Eilzabeth
Standing: Harriet, Gove, Ester, Wilford, Lucy, Barbara,

The first one was a long three-room house. Mother lived in one end and Aunt Clarinda the other. The center room was used for awhile to store corn and grain, and later Grandma Bingham lived there awhile. While she lived there, he son Ashael died.

In 1881 Father built a home on the corner of First Avenue and Hibbert Street for Aunt Clarinda. This house was a T-shape with a porch on two sides, had a shingle roof and dirt floors. It still stands today [1953] but has been improved. Mother had the long house then to herself.  It was here that Hattie, Orson and Yuma were born. The federal officers had been after Father and Mother for plural marriage, and Father was arrested. He was sent to Yuma, Arizona Penitentiary for three months. Mother was taken to the home of Ed Jones in Lehi. She stayed there until just before Yuma was born, then went to her mother.

Father bought or traded and got eighty acres one mile east of town and built another home for Aunt Clarinda who had a family of boys and moved mother to the home on First Avenue and Hibbert because she had mostly girls. Here Grace, who lived only a few weeks, Amy, Esther, Clara and Gertrude were born.

After Aunt Clarinda moved to the ranch, Mother was allotted a few cows for her support. It was Goveís job to drive the cows to and from the pasture, and he often rode a cow called Puso. I remember we had a lot of grief because the cows would often get out of the corral and get into Brother Hibbertís place at night, and he would come and awake mother and say ugly things to her. We milked some of the cows that were brought from Montpelier. When Esther was a few months old, Father went on a mission to the Southern States.

Mother lived in this home until 1895 when Father sold it and built her a nice brick house on the eighty acres. Wilford, Motherís fourteenth child, was born here. He was the pride and joy of the family. Father used to call him the little prophet. He is four months younger than my oldest son, Ashael. Mother practically raised him with Wilford. They were like brothers.

While living in this home Motherís greatest sorrow came when Lucy died. At the time she was confined to her bed with a sore leg, and couldnít go see Lucy during her sickness. Lucy had developed blood poison after the birth of her fourth child and namesake, Lucy. Brother Calvin was surely good to mother during Lucyís sickness; he would come three times a day to keep her informed of Lucyís condition. Sometimes he would call at midnight. Lucy died Jan. 6, 1905. Mother took little Lucy and raised her as her own.

Because of Fatherís age and the boys married and gone, he found he couldnít do the work on the ranch, so he sold to a Mr. Fraser and moved onto twenty acres on Home Lane. He built mother the nicest home she had had and built two houses in town on Sirrine, one for Aunt Clarinda and one to rent. As age kept creeping, he found he had to stop work altogether, so he sold the twenty acres and moved Mother in the house he built to rent. Here they spent their last days. Father died April 23, 1926, after having been gored in the belly by a bull. Mother died 17 November, 1933 from the effects of diabetes.

Mother was a wonderful mother to her family, a typical Bingham, the most unselfish and generous person to be found. She always went without for her family. Iíve seen her many times skim the cream off the milk and give it to father and she would use the skim milk. She didnít go out very often, having 14 children, two babies most of the time. One May Day she sent us on ahead to a picnic. Amy was the baby. Lucy and I took her and the other children on; Mother came later. When we took Amy to her, the baby didnít recognize Mother and began to scream. It was the first time she had seen Mother in her dress-up clothes. Amy cried with hunger, so Mother had to go home and change her dress so Amy would nurse.

Mother had inflammatory rheumatism while Amy was a baby. At that time there was an epidemic of some kind of fever, and Aunt Clarindaís oldest son, Hyrum, had it. Father had to be with him until he died. Lucy and I, with Grandma Sarah Phelps had to take care of Mother and the baby. She suffered something awful. Her legs were swollen twice their size, and she couldnít bear to be moved. After Hyrum died and Father came to help take care of Mother, he and Grandma decided to get her up on an open bottom chair and steam her. They got her on the chair, but it was cruel what she suffered during the ordeal, and the sad part was that no good came from it. She finally got well.

Mother was quite spiritual. A number of times things happened and it was made known to her before hand. One time she was troubled and went into the bedroom to pray. As she came out, she said just above the door she heard the sweetest music she had ever heard, and as the music died away, a peaceful feeling came over her and she was comforted.

Very few people suffered as much as Mother. One time she and sister Annie went into the field to glean wheat, and they came in contact with poison weeds and their legs broke out with sores. Motherís was the worst.  Both her legs were solid sores from her knees to the soles of her feet. It took weeks for them to heal. Every summer for several years at the same time, her legs would break out with the same kind of sores, but each year they would he more mild. This was a few weeks before Grace was born; after that her legs caused her a lot of misery. There were quite a few other things that caused a lot of suffering that Iíll not take time to mention, besides giving birth to 14 children without the aid of a doctor or having something done to ease the pain.

Mother was a good Latter-day Saint. She always donated liberally, paid her tithing and fast offerings. When she began paying, she saved all her statements from the dairy so she would know how much she owed, and at the end of the year, she owed a few cents more than ten dollars. I donít know how she managed to live. She had a few hens, but they didnít lay any eggs until the price went down to ten cents a dozen. Lucy was the main stay of the family. Hattie and I worked some. When either of us earned any money, it was turned over to Mother. Not a cent did we use for ourselves without her telling us to. She would shine our heavy shoes with stove soot. We were quite large before we could afford dress shoes. We werenít the only poor people, however; most everyone was alike

We had a happy home, Mother made it so. Our home was a house of prayer. We had family prayer night and morning, and I think that had everything to do with the spirit of our home.
I know I speak for all of the family when I say I am thankful for wonderful parents and what they did for us.