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Sarah Clarinda Bingham Phelps
Written by her daughter, Sarah Lucretia Phelps Pomeroy


Sarah Clarinda Bingham Phelps, daughter of Lucretia Thorne and Calvin Perry Bingham, was born in Pottawattamie County, Iowa September 6, 1850. Her father was a blacksmith by trade; he was very neat and particular. He enjoyed dancing more than anything else and continued to go to dances until some of his children were grown. He was of a roaming nature and moved many times during his life.

On May 27, 1883 while freighting between St. David and Benson, he was killed instantly when his wagon tipped over on him. He was found by strangers who were preparing to bury him when his folks in St. David heard about it and his brother Alonzo came and retrieved his body to bury it in St. David. Her mother was rather large, with brown hair and dark eyes. After Grandfather’s death she was left to the care of her eldest son, Perry, who was also of a roaming nature and made several trips to Mesa. At the time of her death, she was living in Vernal, Utah with her daughter. She had prepared dinner for Alice and she sat down in a rocking chair to wait, and when Alice came, she found her mother dead with a sweet smile on her face. (November 28, 1903). She was never known to complain when trials and hardships were heaped upon her.

When she was a small child, Grandfather moved to Cache County, Utah. Clarinda was the eldest of eleven children and was willing to do her part in taking responsibility of the family. The thing she learned early in life was economy. When her mother would buy muslin to make them gowns, petticoats, and pantlets, she would tear the selvages of the muslin to unravel thread to be used in sewing. For her brothers’ pants, she would unravel threads from canvas.

When she was fourteen years old, her father moved to Montpelier, Idaho. Here she met her future husband, Hyrum Smith Phelps, with whom she fell deeply in love. Her nearest girl friends were Caroline LeSueur Mallory and Harriet LeSueur Warner. One winter they each had a new dress, and they exchanged dresses to appear to have more dresses than the other girls.

At the age of sixteen she became engaged to Father, and when they asked Grandfather for his consent, he refused, saying they were too young. He immediately made plans to move to Cache County again with the idea of separating them. On the evening of September 26, 1866, while she and her brother Perry were in the corral milking, father came and proposed they go see Judge Turner and get married, She reluctantly consented, gave her milk to Perry to take to the house, and they went to the home of her friend Harriet Warner and were married. Her bridal costume consisted of a calico dress with ruffled pantlets. Grandfather was furious for awhile, but soon reconsidered and made them welcome at his home.

Their first home was a two-room adobe, without a back door. Clarinda found it rather inconvenient and asked Father to cut a door. He was busy, which put her off, and she decided to cut one herself, He came home from work one evening and found her sawing and said, “What in hell are you doing?” She replied, “I’m making a door.” He took the saw and finished it. This was not only a house but a very happy home.

September 26, 1878 sorrow came to their home with the death of their four-year-old son Perry. At this time they had six children: Lucretia, Hyrum, Calvin, Annie, Perry and William, then six months before they left Montpelier, Guy was born.

They disliked the long cold winters and decided to move to a warmer climate. On October 3, 1878, father and his two families, mother and Aunt Lib, Uncle William, I. T. LeSueur, Uncle George and Charles Dana, Charles Warner, Mallory and John Hibbert together with their families left for Arizona. They arrived in Mesa on January 17, 1879 and lived in tents until adobes could be made to build their houses. In April of the same year father had adobes enough to build a house, it was two large rooms with a hall between called the bath house, with a dirt floor and roof. Mother lived in the north room and Aunt Lib the south. Father had a corn crib in the hall and the children used to spend the evenings parching and grinding corn. At this home Joseph was bom. In 1881 father built another house for mother on the corner of Hibbert and First Avenue. This had a shingled roof. Here Lottie and Oscar were born. Father planted a large vineyard east of the house.

April 2, 1885 Father was sentenced to serve three months in the penitentiary at Yuma for having two wives. That same day mother fell from a box and dislocated her wrist which gave her trouble the remainder of her life. Father was gone three months and on his return there was great rejoicing, friends and relations were home to meet him. He was brought home in a covered wagon and was under the cover.

We lived in this home until 1885 then we moved to an 80-acres farm that father bought. We lived in a tent while the house was being built. While living here mother’s youngest daughter was born. The house was an adobe with shingled roof and real lumber floors. After moving to Arizona the families were given their share of the cows to milk for their support. Mother often did washing and ironing and also mended gunny sacks that the mill used for sacking grain. She worked very hard to help support the family.

In 1888 mother’s eighth son, twelfth child, was born and in February Hyrum, her oldest son, died and in December the baby, James Wallace died at the age of eleven months. It was terrible for mother to lose two so close together, but she stood up under it as best she could, for she knew they had gone to meet Heavenly Father. After this time mother was called to work in the Relief Society as a counselor to Alice Richins. She was very faithful to her duty although she usually had to walk to attend her meetings. She was loved by her coworkers, and those who knew her best loved her most.

In April 1894 another sorrow came to her when her daughter-in-law Annie, Calvin’s wife, died leaving two small children under two years of age, and mother took them and raised them, giving them all the love that a mother could give. People who didn’t know the family wouldn’t know that Morris and Hazel didn’t belong to her.

It wasn’t until Dec. 21, 1905 that the next great sorrow came to her. Minerva, the youngest daughter, went to Salt Lake City Hospital to become a nurse. She was stricken with typhoid which took her life. Oscar was up there at the time so he brought her body home.

Many joys and sorrows came to mother while living in this house, and she longed to leave it and move to town where she wouldn’t have so much work and responsibility. In 1908, Father sold the 80 acre farm and bought a large lot on south Sirrine Street. He built a nice home for mother, and she was very happy there until 1915 when Lottie died in childbirth leaving three children and in 1917, Annie, who had a large family, also died at the birth of a baby. This was her last great sorrow until 1926 when father was gored by a bull and he died eight days later. Mother was like her mother, never complaining when trials came upon her. She was a real and true wife and mother, very devoted to her children. She often said as she looked back over her life, that she found her happiest hours when her children were small and she could tuck them in bed and do things for their comfort and happiness.