The Family Nest Chipped Off By Marriages
A normal family is formed by marriage, children are born and
raised, and they, in turn, start the cycle again by marrying. The
Blacker family proved no exception. Prior to the turn of the
century, in fact five years prior, the two eldest, George and
Sarah Ann, actually, Sarah Ann first by a month, married and
started homes of their own while the family yet was living in
Almy. Perhaps, at this point a marriage chart could be formed
showing what the family status was at the time of the move from
Almy to Star Valley. This covers the few years before, and
including, a very few years following the century's change. Also,
additional marriage dates for the entire Edward Blacker family. A
simple chart, at times, can show much more actual history than
can be shown in any other manner. The three eldest did not go to
the Valley. Mary eventually did.
Edward Blacker (Cwmtillery, Monmouthshire: 10 September 1851) = Marintha Althera Loveday (Pontypool, Monmouthshire: 3 January 1852)
- George = Mary Bailey (Married 31 July 1895)
Sarah Ann = Archibald Nisbet (Married 30 June 1895)
- Marsena (Almy: 21 May 1896-1914)
- Althera (Almy: 5 April 1898)
- William John (Almy: 30 January 1900-1916)
- Edward George ( Spring Valley: 5 February 1902)
Mary = Edmond Wilkes (Married 10 June 1903
Thomas = Hettie Wilkes (Married 10 June 1903)
Maria = Brigham Gardner (Married 7 April 1904)
Isaac (Died 24 July 1886)
William = Ella Kinyon (Married 23 February 1913)
Marintha = George Williams (Married 25 October 1911)
Hyrum = Elva Cazier (Married 23 January 1915)
Fannie = Earl Cazier (Married 28 June 1917)
Kemuel = Marie Hill (Married 30 June 1921
- William (Almy: 16 January 1896)
- A Edward (Almy: 23 October 1898)
- John P (Diamondville: 6 October 1899)
- Marintha A (Frontier: 28 Feburary 1900)
Ed Wilkes and Thomas Blacker
Let us again quote from a previously written history of the family:
"It seems Mother Nature provides a way for a family to provide
room in a home as well as to provide necessities. With daughter,
Mary, and Grandpa Isaac Loveday coming to live with them,
something had to give to make room, for the family was still in
the enlarged log house of four or five rooms. This meant eleven
in the dwelling, and of this number at least six were adults or
"We don't know that this situation speeded up a romance, but
there was a twenty-four year old bachelor in the small community,
and a twenty-four year old girl moving into 'town' to live with
her parents, and with this, one will have but little guessing to
do to figure what might come next.
"Also, son Tom, the oldest son at home was now of marriageable
age - 22 past - he had had his eye on a younger sister of the
bachelor just mentioned.
"Whether Grandpa and Grandma Blacker had anything to do with
'clearing' the house of some of the occupants so there would be
turning around room, we don't know, but it happened. Ed Wilkes,
the eligible bachelor and Mary Blacker started keeping company,
and Tom and Hettie Wilkes continued keeping company until their
double wedding in the Logan Temple on the 10th of June 1903.
Grandma Blacker, as most mothers do, questioned the marriages of
any of her children, so she questioned these marriages. Usually,
in any mother's questioning, it simmers down to the fact that she
doesn't want to lose a son or a daughter, but uses as an excuse
the question as to whether the intended companion is 'good'
enough for her son or daughter. According to the reports handed
down, it seems Grandma approached it from still another angle,
"Why did two of her children have to leave home the same time and
most seriously, why did two of her children have to pick their
intended companions from the same family?" It was but a question
in her mind to which she had to give voice, but the foursome knew
she wasn't serious enough for them to consider postponing the
wedding." (Born of Goodly Parents; p. 12).
Back in Almy, the two married children, George and Sarah Ann
who had married Aunt Polly (Mary Bailey) and Archibald D. Nisbet,
respectively, remained with the coal pits. As previously stated,
Uncle George and Aunt Polly, lived in the house his parents had
moved into years before and in which he was raised until they
As with most young couples, their families started with Aunt
Sarah Ann providing Edward's and Althera's first grandchild, son
William. Within four or five months Uncle George and Aunt Polly
presented the grandparents their first granddaughter, Marsena.
The order of their respective second children was changed and
another little girl came, this time to George and Polly with the
young Nisbet family having another little boy in October of 1898.
In Uncle George's family the little girl was named Althera
(Allie) and Uncle Arch and Aunt Sarah Ann named their little boy
after his father, Archibald Edward.
It was earlier stated that as the years passed, coal in the
mines ran out and the miners, with their families, were forced to
go elsewhere for work and this became the problem to Uncle Arch
and Aunt Sarah Ann for by June of 1899 when their next son, John,
was born they were in Diamondville over near present day
Kemmerer. Sadness came to the family in August prior to
John's birth in October, for ten month old Archibald passed
Uncle George and Aunt Polly remained a little longer in Almy
than the Nisbets and had their first boy and third child, William
John, in Almy in January of 1900. However, by February 25th 1902
when Edward George was born, they had pulled up roots to never
return to Almy and had moved to Spring Valley, a desolate little
valley east of Evanston with its only supply of water so
sulfurized that it could not be used for drinking purposes.
Barrels of drinking water were shipped in by rail and sold to the
families for twenty-five cents per barrel. The mining company had
constructed a few houses for their Spring Valley employees.
Two and one half years after the birth of young George, when
their new baby, Mary, was born, they had moved to Cumberland,
where they remained thru the years until their entire family was
completed - ten children. Sadly, little Henry T., two and a half
years of age had passed away in 1913, followed by his older
sister Marsena, age seventeen, in 1914. Their youngest baby,
Grace, was born, on the 8th of November 1915 and passed away on
the date of her birth. Son William John passed away in 1916 when
sixteen years of age. All were buried in Cumberland.
Uncle George and their older sons remained with the mines,
however, Uncle George, during a goodly number of his later
working years, held executive positions and, for a number of
years, served as Wyoming State Mine Inspector. After Cumberland
closed down in the neighborhood of 1928 to 1930, the family moved
to the Rock Springs and Superior and Reliance areas where coal
was more plentiful.
Of the three boys of this family who reached maturity and
married, George, Ephraim and Hyrum, only George lived to raise
their families. Ephraim passed away when his first and only
child, Eileen, was six weeks old. His wife, Lena Perner, then
only twenty-six years of age eventually remarried to a Mr. Lenzi
and, by the end of 1982 was living in Rock Springs. Ephraim was a
young man of twenty-eight years at the time of his passing, on 16
Dec 1936 at Cumberland.
Hyrum married a young lady, Margaret States, and their little
daughter, Sherry, was under two years of age when her father
passed away at the age of, also, twenty-eight, in 1941. Margaret,
with Sherry, moved to Laramie where, thru the years, Margaret
taught school from the approximate date of her widowhood to and
thru the decade of the 1970s.
With apologies to Sherry, this writer hopes she will not mind
that I copy a most welcome letter we received from her. It is
self explanatory, but Sherry's account should become a very
important lesson to all of us.
March 25, 1975
Dear Loyn and Mabel,
I wanted to thank you for answering my letter. I'm sure you
were very surprised to hear from me. I haven't had any contact at
all with any of my father's family the past several years. I've
been wanting to contact them. I don't know why my mother hasn't
had any contact with any of them for all these years. I wonder if
it was because of the Mormon religion. She sent my son, James, a
couple of Blacker news letters for a project he was doing at
school and there were three names with addresses. I wrote to all
of them. I got a very nice letter from Earl Cazier. He suggested
most of my immediate family would be around Rock Springs and gave
me George Blacker's name and address.
I received the history of your parents yesterday. I've started
reading it and it is very interesting. That will be wonderful for
the children coming up. I've had to tell my children I don't know
anything about their grandfather or his family except he died
when I was three. That doesn't seem fair to them.
I enjoyed hearing a little about my grandparents. I have one
picture of them and only four or five pictures of my father. I
wish I could remember my father but I just don't remember him at
My mother never remarried and she has been teaching school in
Laramie, Wyoming for the past 32 years. She was selected Teacher
of the Year for the state of Wyoming in 1972.
I'm 35 years old. My husband, Rene, and I were married when we
were both very young but we have always been very happy together.
He teaches school in Denver. My son, James, is 16 and his life is
basketball. He is 6' 1" now and he is hoping he will take after
his grandfather Blacker's family and grow at least five more
inches. Carrie is in the 7th grade and Scott is in the 5th grade.
We belong to the Methodist church.
Thank you again for taking the time to write and thanks
especially for the history of your parents.
Sherry B. Shaffer
We had started our correspondence with Sherry as can be
learned from the date of her letter which had followed our first
letter to her. The above letter was received just a month prior
to our call to the Leeds England mission, which apparently
interrupted the frequency of our letters to her, however, there
was a limited amount of correspondence.
A subsequent letter from Sherry which followed our mission is
15 June 1978
Dear Loyn and Mabel,
I guess you are home from England by now. Time passes so
I wanted to write and thank you again for sending me your book
"Born of Goodly Parents". I was reading it again today. You
mentioned once you were planning to write some more. Have you
been able to do any more?
My daughter, Carrie, who is 17 is on a trip in Utah. She is in
Salt Lake now and wanted to look up some information on our
relatives at the Mormon temple or where ever it is they keep all
of that information. I gave her names from your book. I'm anxious
to know if she will find any thing. Where do they keep that
information and can anyone get it? We don't belong to the church.
Why do the Mormons feel it's so important to trace their
ancestry? It's really interesting and I would like any
information available, but I was wondering why it's so important
How is Earl Cazier? He was so helpful when I wrote to him. I
feel very badly that I haven't written to any of you for so long.
Uncle George wrote a couple of letters to me. I didn't know he
had died until I got your letter of Jan. 1976. (We were in
England at that date. L.B.) I felt then that I had waited too
long before I tried to get in touch with any of the Blackers. I
realize today that was no excuse for not writing to the ones who
had been so helpful to me. I am writing to Earl today. I hope all
Is there going to be a family reunion this year?
Sherry Blacker Shaffer
Shortly following this above last letter from Sherry, - it was
probably longer than 'shortly' but, certainly, within a few weeks
or a couple months her letter was answered and mailed, but the
letter was 'returned to the sender'. Apparently they had moved.
There has been no contact between us since but this one thing is
sure, before this day closes, two letters will be prepared, one
to Sherry's mother, Margaret, to the last address we have of her
which has been several years. The other letter to Denver
superintendent of schools to make inquiry as to where Rene B.
Shaffer, Sherry's husband, might be located. The process may be
long, but an attempt is going to be made to again locate Sherry
and family. And while we wait the result we must continue and, at
this point, back to Uncle George and Aunt Polly.
To all of us nephews and nieces, this uncle and aunt, were
live storybook characters. While they lived apart from all other
families of the Blacker clan, it seemed to be the nature of their
employment which made it possible to have an annual vacation
period - probably two weeks - during which time they would visit
relatives. Most of us of other branches of the family were
farmers and we but read of people having vacations, but we were
never either smart enough nor ever had finances sufficient to
have vacations. Too, the nature of the vocation - with farming to
be done and animals to provide for - vacations never became a
part of our social diet.
The writer's memory included the fact that miners fared better
than farmers. Particularly did this appear so after labor unions
became powerful enough to demand better working conditions,
better hours and better pay which situation became effective
following World War I which ended in 1918. It seemed that the
remaining miners of the Blacker family always had beautiful,
stylish cars. Invariably it seemed the Cumberland Blacker family
took delight in big black sedans. Earlier Uncle George and Aunt
Polly made their visits alone - that is, without children -
however, of later years, their son, Hyrum, became their regular
chauffeur on trips to their relatives. The shiny, black limousine
was an attraction anywhere and seemed very much out of place when
it was driven into a farmer's back yard and along side his buggy
or wagon or even his Model T, but we kids loved the recognition
and distinction that came with it.
While farm work had to go on despite the visiting dignitaries,
we found however, that particularly the milking chores could
always be done in just a little less time in order for us to join
with the visiting guests in the evening's family
Both Uncle George and Aunt Polly were larger than normal folk
- just a little on the plump side and in whose-ever company they
were a part of, there was a lot of conversation and laughing. We
knew in advance that by the time bedtime would come around our
sides would be aching because of laughter. It was a thing out of
this world to listen to Aunt Polly's laugh. In our experience, no
one in all the world had Aunt Polly's laugh. One had to hear it
to know what it was like and Uncle George seemed to have a
faculty to keep her laughing. It has been said that movie- house
operators would invite her to their shows in order for their paid
customers to hear her laugh, for oft times, more interest was
engendered from hearing her laugh than from the show itself. If
people who knew her knew that she was going to be at an
entertainment in which there was an element of comedy there would
be nothing that would keep them away. It has been reported that,
after an evening out and in the company of Uncle George and Aunt
Polly, she would become the universal topic of conversation that
evening and the next day with none of it being criticism in any
Without fail, before Uncle George and Aunt Polly left, at the
conclusion of their visit, he would pass to every child in the
home, a shiny silver piece, usually at least a half-dollar. All
of our cousins reported that he did the same thing in their
homes, and in case of an older bashful girl, he would exchange a
dollar piece for a kiss, after considerable teasing. Indeed, a
visit from Uncle George and Aunt Polly which, for years, was
annually, was like a story experience from Grimm's Fairy
Uncle George and Aunt Polly sang beautifully together and he
was in demand as a public speaker, both in politics and in
church, and became known as a great funeral speaker. Even on
those occasions, the discomfort of his celluloid collar (this was
during the period when men's white dress shirts had detachable
collars of celluloid which took care of the 'ring around the
collar' problem) it was not al all uncommon to see Uncle George,
half way thru his sermon - if it were a church talk or funeral
talk - to reach up and untie his tie and remove his collar and
put them on the pulpit or in his pocket and proceed with his
talk, all this seemingly automatic, without disturbing his chain
of thought or talk.
As earlier stated, the George Blacker family moved from
Cumberland - closed down from diminishing coal supply - and moved
to the Rock Springs area about 1930.
The George and Polly (Mary) Blacker family of Cumberland, about 1919
Aunt Polly and Uncle George, Cumberland, 1930
Ina and George Jr., Rock Springs, Wyoming about 1936
George Jr and Ina's children William, Kent Dean, Maxine, Keith
George Jr. and Ina on their 50th wedding anniversary, 3 December, 1974.
Let us return again to the Nisbet family, after leaving their
story. At this time their third son, John, was born about six
weeks following the death of their second little son, Archibald
Edward, he having been named after his grandfather, Edward
Blacker. They had already moved from Almy and found work in the
mines in Diamondville just neighboring Kemmerer.
The Nisbet family in 1896: Uncle Arch, Aunt Sarah and William
Their stay in Diamondville was brief for by the time of the
birth of their first little girl, Merintha A., they were living
in another little neighboring camp called Frontier, just to the
north of Kemmerer with Diamondville being to its south. Whether
or not the mines in Diamondville belonged to the same coal
company as those in Frontier, this writer does not know. Such
could have been very possible just as the coal company in Almy
had several mines along the eastern hills of the Almy valley.
In this life we are not given all the answers for a seemingly
overabundance of life's problems to fall on some families.
Already mentioned was the passing of little Archibald Edward and
but six months later, baby Merintha Althera passed away when but
a few days over one month old. William and John remained the only
two children of the family until in August of 1903, baby Dorotha
was born and became the family's only living girl, for as
mentioned, her two older sisters had passed away. Over two years
later, as the family was preparing to welcome another arrival,
Irene, and but six days before being born, the only living
daughter, Dorotha, passed away. The family's living span in
Frontier was indeed fraught with discouragement and whether such
discouragement had anything to do with a move we are not prepared
to say. However, within three or four years the family moved to a
newly opened mine approximately six miles further north than
Frontier to Sublette where, on the 3rd of May 1909, a pair of
twin boys was born. Could it have been thought by the family that
Mother Nature was going to make up for some of their past losses
of family members? They certainly would have had every right to
have such a hope when, but six days later, the youngest of the
two, Durie, passed away. Downs was permitted to remain with the
Two years and two weeks later, another little boy, Clinton,
was born. With all the disappointment the family had to this
point it would appear the law of average would have favored him
to remain with the family, but again, not so. He succumbed
shortly after birth, this on the 14th of May 1911 nd the
sorrowing family found it necessary to take him, in his little
casket, back to Diamondville some probably ten miles away, for
him to rest at the side of his two little brothers and two little
sisters - five in all having died within the twelve years between
1899 and 1911. Out of a family of nine children, but four were to
In Sublette, and possibly Frontier, Uncle Arch's employment
brought him up out of the mine, for he became what is called in
mining terminology, a tipple foreman, whose work is to oversee
the unloading the coal conveyers as the coal comes from the mine.
During those years, undoubtedly, most of the coal was brought to
the top by, originally tubs or cars on wheels drawn from the
shallow veins by man power to where the tunnels were large enough
that horses or mules could be used, but later by cables operated
by steam engines from the outside of the mouth of the mine. When
electricity became more common, it replaced other forms of
energy. The unloading of these tubs or cars was done, usually,
into railroad coal cars at the local rail siding at the site of
the mine. Certainly there would have been some advantages doing
this type of work rather than work deep in the mines but, too,
one can think of some disadvantages. Certainly it was not without
an element of danger.
On the 11th of October 1912 another little girl arrived in
their home and she was named Elva Adelia. It seems most likely,
by this time, Uncle Arch and Aunt Sarah Ann had already made or
were soon to make plans to leave coal mining for good. We do not
know what brought on the final decision but, by the time of the
birth of their next little girl, Olive Annice in Sugar House,
Utah, near Salt Lake City, they had already had spent several
months in Ogden where Uncle Arch worked with the railroad.
As we look back from today we wonder if his work as tipple
foreman in Sublette could have brought him in contact with
railroad people - he was emptying coal into the railroad cars,
who knew of work in Ogden. They could not have stayed in Ogden
long, for the family, especially Aunt Sarah Ann, was waiting for
Annice's birth fifty miles south of Ogden in the thriving little
town of Sugar House.
Actually, Uncle Arch had two brothers, Tom and Will Nisbet,
who were operating a business in Sugar House in which they bought
and sold feed, mostly for animals - a hay and grain business. And
here it was that Annice joined the family on the 22nd of October
The Nisbet family in 1948. L to R: William, Uncle Arch, John and Downs. Back row: Annice, Elva and Irene.
By this time, the family was growing up. Son, William, was 18
years of age, John was 15, Irene 9, Downs 5 and Elva 2, and
lastly now, Annice.
During the next three or four years, the family continued to
have great concern for Aunt Sarah Ann's health. While in Wyoming,
particularly at Sublette, a sore on her forehead developed, which
even with the aid of doctors, seemed unwilling to be healed.
Subsequently, it was declared cancerous, but in those days, such
a malignancy proved an enigmatic unknown, which even the doctors
feared would be spread by surgery. A living death proved to be
ahead for Aunt Sarah and how fortunate for her that she had an
usually caring family, particularly, her husband.
With the hope she might find assistance in the fresh air of a
higher altitude, the family succumbed to the persuasion of a
purchase of a ranch or farm in the clean air of Bernice, Idaho, a
ranching area of the Lost River country of central Idaho.
This venture did not prove helpful nor practical. It was from
this locality that son, William, was inducted into the armed
services, for World War I was being fought. The family then moved
into the Rupert, Idaho area, where Uncle Arch found employment,
first with the railroad but soon, more to his liking, a job with
the Minidoka County Highway Department, where he worked for
All thru the years, Aunt Sarah Ann was worsening and after
ever so much suffering and all the kind care her family and other
could give her, she passed away on the 26th day of August
In the meantime, William returned from the Service and found
himself up in the Wasco, Washington area where over many years he
successfully operated a lumber and hardware business.
John successfully operated an oil distributorship at Rupert
until retirement. Irene married and remained in Rupert, Downs
worked for many years on the railroad from Rupert. His wife
passed away but a few years following their marriage and he has
remained a widower thru these many years. Elva married Fred
Blacker. They found themselves in the furniture business nearly
forty years ago in Ontario, Oregon and ended up in their present
business with their family in Willard, Utah. Annice became a
schoolteacher soon after graduating from school and has remained
in the lucrative profession thru all these years starting first
in the Twin Falls, Idaho schools and has spent the most of the
remaining time in the Portland, Oregon area.
Following Uncle Arch's retirement, he, a professed Democrat,
was appointed by the local Republican administration of the time
to serve as Rupert Justice of the Peace. At the time, his duties
involved him in serving as the judge of traffic violators. This
portion of his work was later transferred to the County Probate
Judge, however, he continued with his assignment of Justice of
the Peace, where he served with distinction for several
The Nisbet family was talented musically. When just a young
man, William became proficient with the violin. John's voice was,
literally, one of a kind. His singing thru the years has been
greatly in demand. It probably is not often that a man's voice is
classified as a sweet voice but his has been just that. Thousands
of people have been thrilled to tears as he has sung,
particularly, at funeral services for all religious denominations
of the area.
Irene has spent practically a life time at the piano, as also,
has Elva. These girls were and are both gifted as to 'touch' at
the keyboard when serving as accompanists to others. The writer
never remembers John singing when he was not accompanied by his
family, earlier, of course, by his sisters and then subsequently
by his daughters, Phyllis and Coralee.
And Elva's and Annice's duets with Irene accompanying!! If
angels can sing more beautifully, they will have to come from out
of this world. Their singing-together-years, naturally, were
while they were yet girls at home. It would be hard to conceive
of anyone, or pair, or group, who were more in demand, and while
their singing seemed so effortless on their part, surely their
schedule was demanding. And none of them ever hesitated when they
were wanted or needed. All of them blessed the lives of many
people, and in doing so, they will be the first to say that their
lives were also blessed. They have shared their talents freely.
See the Nisbet family chart in the family chart section of this
Of the Edward and Althera Blacker children, next in line
following Uncle George and Aunt Sarah Ann is their daughter,
Mary's health was not of the best during her entire girlhood,
yet, she remained up and doing. As has been mentioned on more
than one occasion in this history, it fell to Mary's lot to live
most of the time as a girl with her grandparents, Isaac and Mary
Mary was born in Mountain Ash in Wales in 1878 and was but a
little girl of five, when she with her mother and older brothers
and sisters, came to the states. Already her grandparents had
raised their children to adulthood. It is true, one young Isaac
Loveday, had not yet married, but he was an adult of 26 or 27
years of age when the Lovedays reached Almy. Otherwise, the
grandparent's children had long been raised. Too, Mary's moving
in with her grandparents provided a little more room in her
parent's home. It is not to be pre-supposed here that the latter
was the reason for her assignment with her grandparents.
As has been cited elsewhere, Mary remained with her
grandparents in Almy until her grandmother, Mary Danks Loveday,
passed away on the 14th of April 1902. At this point Grandpa
Loveday and Mary came to Star Valley to make their respective
Following her marriage to Edmond Wilkes in 1903 she and Uncle
Ed moved to the Guy Dakin ranch where he was employed. Uncle Ed
had previously been employed thru a mail contract with the post
office service for eight years delivering mail from Afton to the
Lower Valley, a distance of approximately twenty miles. He, with
his brother, Johnnie Wilkes, had a contract for these years and,
particularly during the winter months had many narrow escapes
with his life.
Following his marriage, for several years, Uncle Ed hauled
freight for the Burton Mercantile Company between Afton and
Montpelier. On March 23rd of 1905 a little girl came to live with
them whom they named Arvilla. When Arvilla was just a small baby,
her parents moved to the little log house just north of the Swift
Creek bridge on the road between Afton and Grover - just at the
edge of the Afton city limits. The farm belonged to Uncle Ed's
parents, but they were living in their new home in Afton just
across the street from Burton's store.
While living at this home, on the 26th of May 1907 a son,
Howard, was born.
Sadness seems never to be confined to the few. It has been and
always will be a part of life. It is true some seem to have more
than others, but by great odds, the majority of people face it
somewhere or sometime. The occasion came to the Ed and Mary
Wilkes family all too soon, for after less than six and a half
years, wife and mother, Mary Blacker Wilkes, on the 28th of
October 1909 passed from this life leaving a very saddened
husband and little 4 1/2 year old Arvilla and 2 1/2 year old
Howard. She was buried in the Afton cemetery on the other side of
The Wilkes family in Afton suggested and invited their son,
Uncle Ed, to take his two little children, and with them, return
to his parent's home. He also, felt was the wise thing to do, for
his employment had to go on, for life for him and his little
family was still to continue.
Just barely within a year's time he had persuaded Elizabeth
Moffatt, the single young lady of the same age as Uncle Ed and
Aunt Mary - actually the three of them within three weeks of each
other's birthday - to marry him and assist with the care of his
two little children which she did on the 28th of September 1910.
To this union four children were subsequently born, three of whom
lived to maturity, Mary, Lanore and Murray and each of them has
had a loving brother and sister relationship to their
half-sister, Arvilla and half-brother Howard. Indeed they were
every bit as close to each other as any family could be.
When Arvilla reached the employable age, she found work and
worked efficiently and most satisfactorily for many years as a
telephone operator at the Afton telephone switch-board. She
married Glen Humberg of Ovid, Idaho. For many years they resided
in California and eventually returned to Salt Lake City where he
Howard married Lola Allen and was employed in the grocery
business in Pocatello, Idaho, where their daughter, Myrna, was
born. Howard passed away when but 25 years of age.
Click here to see the Edmond Wilkes - Mary Blacker family chart.
To the Thomas and Hettie Wilkes Blacker:
Following their marriage, this couple moved to a little log
house just a few hundred yards from his parent's place.
Undoubtedly he assisted on his parents' home place. If he was not
already, he was soon to become employed by the Burton brothers on
their meadow ranch across Salt River from the Blacker farm where
he was to spend his full time. Uncle Will, the next Blacker boy
in line to operate the farm was now about 17 years of age, a
little young for full responsibility, however, we must remember
that Grandpa Blacker was yet very much alive and would be for
another seven years, so despite his failing health, it would seem
the Blacker operation could continue on reasonably well without
the full-time help of Tom, as he was known by the family.
Whether first son, LeRoy, was born during the time the young
couple was living in the little log house at the end of the lane
a few hundred yards from the old home or whether he was not born
until the couple moved across the river into their second home,
another small two room log cabin, we do not know. We are aware
that the actual birth took place at the Wilkes home in Afton,
where the new mother chose to have her confinement.
They did not remain with the Burtons long, for within two or
three years an opportunity afforded itself for them to purchase
40 acres, again with a two room log house, over on the
Afton-Grover road one mile to the east and one-fourth mile north
of the older Blacker home. We are not informed of the price and
terms of this 40 acres, however, within an additional two or
three years they purchased an adjoining 40 acres to the north of
the first forty for $800. This last purchase would have been
about 1907 or perhaps 1908. It was known as the Howland Forty
stemming from the fact that a Mr. Howland was the previous and
possibly the original owner. On this forty there was also a two
room log house which remained empty and/or was used for storage
Prior to this time a second son joined the family, Theordore,
who later succumbed to the then dreaded disease of whooping cough
when but a year and half old. Less than six months later third
son, Loyn, was born and a few months over another two years
fourth son, Fred, came to claim habitat with the family, this in
It was just six months prior to this date that Aunt Mary
Blacker Wilkes passed away and back in the Edward and Althera
Blacker home the angel of death had marked the day when Grandpa
Isaac Loveday, Althera's father, was no leave mortality - the
11th of May 1910.
On a Saturday afternoon of late August of the same year, out
of a non-consequential looking cloud in an otherwise, nearly
clear sky, came a bolt of lightning, instantly killing a pet dog
which was walking between two little urchin-appearing boys
returning to the log house from their search for eggs in the
barnyard. Their mother, (Hettie), was kneeling in the open
doorway with her pail of water and her scrubbing-brush doing a
Saturday chore in preparation of a clean house for Sunday.
After a moment's hesitation, which must have been attributed
to shock, she arose to her feet, waved her two egg-hunting errand
boys back from the already dead body of the faithful dog and
further away from the house. She then hurried to the already
burning bedroom where hot cinders were falling on the face of the
baby, Fred, now four months old, who was sleeping on the bed of
the only bedroom in the house.
Father Thomas, was binding oats in a field near Afton two
miles away. How he got the message that his home was afire and
his family had been endangered we don't know. Perhaps his first
intimation was hearing and seeing the crackling of the lightning
with the accompanying thunder, and then seeing for himself that
it was his own home from which the tell-tale smoke was swirling
up from the orange-red of the flames from the house.
To unhitch a three-horse team from a grain-binder, tie two
horses to the binder, pull the harness from the remaining horse,
get astride it and race to his burning home nearly two miles away
- not knowing of the welfare of his wife and three children - to
say the least, must have been traumatic. It must have seemed a
forever-trip and all the time, naturally, fearing the worst.
What a relief it must have been when, as he neared home, he
could see that the concerned neighbors who were much closer than
he, had already arrived to give what assistance could be given.
It had to have been one continuous prayer in his heart, and
probably, audibly from his lips, as he persuaded the horse to
maintain its fastest speed, for the safety of his family. What a
relief it must have been as he saw them all mingling with the
neighbors as the burning roof fell in onto every article of
furniture and clothing they prided themselves of having. It
wasn't much, but it was their all. Only the clothing, which was
on the family's backs, was saved. but by good fortune, the family
An old wives' tale has it that when death strikes a family the
grim-reaper does not leave the environs until three are taken. In
the case of the overall Blacker family on this series of visits
by the Reaper, he had a 'hey-day'. Before he left the Blacker
environs there were taken Aunt Mary B. Wilkes, and Grandpa Isaac
Loveday in October of 1909 and May of 1920, respectively. Grandpa
Edward passed away on the 27th of November 1920, and one day
later, little Harold Edward Gardner died, the three month old
baby of Aunt Maria Blacker and Uncle Brig Gardner, whom we will
introduce as our next-in-line family. Grandpa's and Harold's
funerals were held as one.
As the reader will note, the Thomas Blacker account has been
interrupted by one paragraph in an attempt to relate an
observation in sequence of time of the overall Blacker family.
Now we return to the Thomas Blacker family review:
Loyn, Fred, Afton, Hyrum, Alma, Merintha (center), George, Verl, Earl. About 1924 in Rupert, Idaho
Afton, Merintha, Marie. About 1928-9 in Rupert, Idaho
Their account in this history will be kept as brief as
practical. A much longer account of this couple and their family
was written by this writer well over ten years ago - 1971 - and
is available in the family.
While Thomas and Hettie remained in Star Valley operating
their 80 acre farm and a good-size herd of Holstein cows, their
family continued to grow. Alma, the fifth son was born in 1912,
Hyrum, number six in 1914, and following him in 1916 came a
little girl, Afton, and then in 1919 another boy, George.
The short season of summer and the cold of the long winters,
to a man who was particularly interested in crops from the soil,
needled Dad to become attentive to the farming stories of the
Minidoka Irrigation Project of south-central Idaho. After
investigating, a move was made during the last two or three days
of 1919 and the 1st of January of 1920, when the household goods
arrived in Rupert, Idaho.
The inflationary prices of the World War I economy came to a
close by the severe depression of the 1921, 22 and 23 years, and
the new investors of high cost farm land were drastically
affected by the economic reversal. The Thomas Blacker family was
not alone in the painful experience, but their total investment
plus previous holdings were 'gone with the wind'. There was
nothing by way of choice to do but to throw their shoulders back
and attempt a new start.
The experience was traumatic, but people had made adjustments
before under like situations and so adjustments were possible
again - not necessarily without concern and a degree of pain.
There became a part of the readjustment and the family survived,
in fact was enlarged. Following George's tour of being baby of
the family in 1919, he was required to relinquish that status to
a new arrival, Merintha, who made her debut into the family on
the 8th of Dec 1920. Two and a half years later, sons in the
family, eight and nine arrived to complete a threat Tom had made
during the period in Star Valley, when he managed the Afton
baseball team. He said then that he would produce a team of his
own. Numerically, his threat was realized, but in the writer's
memory he doesn't recall our father ever teaching us which end of
the bat one is to take hold of when swinging at the ball.
On the 17th of Jul 1923, the twins, Earl and Verl, arrived.
Whether it was purposefully designed that a family should not
stop at #11, we don't know, but in this couple's case they
concluded that an even dozen should round out the number of
children, which was done when on the 17th of September 1925,
third daughter and last of the twelve, a little girl, Marie,
Over the years the family's economic conditions improved.
Actually, there was no other direction for them to go, for during
the early 1920s, they were at bottom.
The temptation to return to Star valley was a reality, but
just when the decision was to be made to do just that, an offer
to lease an eighty-acre farm from the Amalgamated Sugar Company
was accepted. That farm, located three miles west of the Minidoka
County courthouse in Rupert, has, at this writing, been in the
hands of the Thomas Blacker family for the past 60 years.
In the meantime, all we children grew to maturity and have
gone our separate ways. Marriages and family results are shown on
the family charts in connection with this history and will be
found starting in chapter eleven.
Hilda and Roy Blacker
LeRoy started, after leaving the nest, with employment at such
places as the creamery, the sugar company, the Minidoka
Irrigation Company etc., but by the latter of the 1930s, returned
to farming where he continued until retiring - at a reasonably
early age - and then spent several years as the Minidoka County
probate judge, which subsequently, had its nomenclature changed
to judge of the Magistrate Court. This position, at the time of
his retiring, was changed by the state legislature to having only
attorneys at law as possible candidates.
Church-wise, over the years, Roy has been active in many
assignments including several years as bishop and since 1966 has
served as a stake patriarch. All of his sons (2) are presently
serving as bishops. Daughters are doing just as well.
Ever since the passing of our father, Thomas, in 1957, Roy has
gently and faithfully assumed the responsibility of
‘watching over’ the Thomas Blacker families which
charge he inherited thru the principle of primogeniture or
patriarchy as well as by direct assignment by our father as a
part of our father’s final instructions just hours prior to
No one could have been more anxiously engaged in such an
assignment and now that he, LeRoy, just yesterday – the
20th of February 1983 – left mortality, his
‘report’ to our father cannot help but be well
received, not that he had perfected the family in his charge for
we, seemingly, remained about as human as when his assignment
commenced, but throughout he kept in touch. He knew what we were
doing and knew where we were and often gave encouragement. Never
a year passed but that he presided over the family reunion. Not
all of us were present – there were those of us who
preferred doing other things and going other places, but Roy
could not be held accountable for others had the right of choice.
He did with us and for us all that we would permit him and what
more could have been asked.
He loved his family, those who shared his heritage, and if
there were any who failed to love him, it has not been made
known. Thanks so very much Roy. It will be hard to go on in your
absence but, with the Lord’s help we will.
Funeral services were held Wednesday afternoon at one
o’clock on February 23rd in the Rupert 1st, 2nd and 7th
ward building known as the Minidoka stake house located on the
corner of 8th and G Streets. The life sketch was presented by
daughter Arlene Koyle and two sons Royal, released as a bishop of
the Hazelton ward after over six years service but three days
previous, and Leon bishop of a Nampa, Idaho ward, spoke tenderly
and lovingly of their father. The guest speaker was Roy’s
and Hilda’s former mission president, Elder M. Russell
Ballard of the presidency of the Fisrt Quorum of Seventy
COOL HEAD AND SKILL BRINGS NATIONAL RECOGNITION
P. S. As this now goes to 'press' we have just now been advised by Fred's father (12 June '83)
that Fred will be called to Washington D. C. on 29th of
August '83 to receive the Cheney Award, a meritorious award which will
be presented by the Air Force General.
Fred Wilson, husband of Louise Blacker Wilson, daughter of
LeRoy and Hilda Blacker became a subject of acclaim thru the news
media - - national TV, radio and newspaper - - on 8 April 1982.
One year later, less one day, a similar but not so dramatic
Fred, with Louise, was invited to Washington D. C. on 13
September of that year for a special national presentation. That
we might be accurate in our reporting we invited Fred and Louise
to briefly present further details which was done thru his
personal secretary, Louise. She wrote:
On September 13,1982, Fred received the Earl T. Ricks Award
‘ for superior airmanship and demonstration of the
highest standards of crew co-ordination while flying an
RF-4C, in successfully recovering from a night in-flight
emergency that included aircraft damage and bodily
Louise continues, "This award was given by the Air Force
Association at its annual convention at the Washington D. C.
Sheraton Hotel. We were guests of the association for six
"On April 10th, 1983 Fred was awarded 'The Distinguished
Flying Cross’ for 'heroism while participating in aerial
flight' as a Weapon Systems Officer near Mountain Home Air
Force Base on 8 April 1982. He received this medal at ceremonies
held at Gowen Field, Boise, on Sunday of the above date.
Fred was also involved in a second bird strike on 7 April 1983
one day short of a full year following his first encounter with a
bird, the second time with a duck rather than a swan, near the
City of Rocks some thirty miles south of Rupert. This time a duck
came through the right front quarter panel of the canopy striking
the pilot in the right shoulder. He was bruised badly, with
lacerations, but no broken bones. Fred flew the aircraft the 15
minutes from there to Mountain Home and then the pilot, Major
Dave Hudlet, was able to land the plane in spite of his
We are thankful that Fred, again, escaped injury. He’s
making a nervous wreck out of me, though.
Thanks, Louise, and to you, Fred, be careful with your
driving. Perhaps those air-lanes are for the birds'. (Did we hear
correctly, 25,000 feet?)
Fred and Louise live in Boise with their four children.
Following in age sequence, the children of the Thomas Blacker
family: Loyn spent several years farming, which were interspersed
with eight or nine years in teaching school in the Evanston,
Wyoming area, three of which were spent in the Almy school
district, the old home area of the previous two generations.
Eleven years were spent in the furniture business in Ontario,
Oregon with brother Fred, and subsequently the next nearly
twenty-three years in the same business in Rupert.
Loyn's and Mabel's immediate family, not including in-laws,
have spent over eleven years serving on full-time missions and the
two of them a total of ten years on stake missions. She has
served as a stake Relief Society president and he, many years on
seven separate stake high councils in five different stakes. For
the past twenty years they have served in the Burley Regional
Genealogical Library and, in addition, the past three years as
extractors at that library.
This news article appeared on the front page of The Minidoka
County News on Thursday, July 3, 1969 and is self
Paul returned from Russia by jet plane to Salt Lake City
airport Monday, July 21, 1969.
In the early 1970s, Paul obtained his doctorate, and for the
last several years has been employed as a senior scientist by
Ford, Bacon and Davis Engineers, Inc., a world-wide engineering
company. Stationed near the University of Utah complex, Paul
heads his companies Environment Department, worldwide.
Paul’s and Lynn’s family, by February 1983, totals
four girls and two boys with one granddaughter. Their home is in
Alpine, Utah in Utah Valley
After two or three years in the service station business, Fred
became employed as a clerk with Union Pacific and in 1945 got
into the furniture business in Ontario, Oregon. By or before the
mid 1960s, they moved to the Willard, Utah area where they made
their beginnings in the large furniture operation they, and the
next generation, are presently operating.
Fred served as second counselor to the stake president in the
Weiser, Idaho Stake and when the Nyssa, Oregon Stake was
organized, he served for several years as first counselor. After
moving to Utah he was called as the bishop of their Willard ward
where he served for a number of years.
After marrying Edith Jensen on 5th of April 1933, Alma moved
to a rented farm two or three miles southwest of Rupert. They
then purchased their own farm in the Emerson area - three to four
miles west of Heyburn - where they eventually enlarged that
80-acre operation to include two additional 80-acre plots. Other
than row crops,they had dairy cows and veered off into a small
feed lot operation with beef cattle.
Alma and Edith sold one of their farms and purchase a nice
home in Burley, where they have now resided for several years
excepting spending at least four months of the year at their
trailer home in Yuma, Arizona. Alma served in the Emerson Ward
bishopric for several years.
Son, Hryum, early became a grocery store clerk and department
manager in the grocery business in Ogden, Utah, where he worked
for a number of years. He returned to Rupert and ran the old
family farm for a couple years during and following World War II.
He and Jessie and two daughters then moved to the Vernal, Utah
area where they purchased their own grocery business. The entire
family was greatly saddened with Hyrum's sudden passing away in
1948. Jessie and the two little girls continued with the business
for a limited time and eventually they moved to Arizona, where
the girls long since have married and have their families.
Daughter Afton married Horace Hatch, a local young man, who, following their
marriage, farmed his parent's farm near Rupert for a number of
years until they purchased one of their own three miles east of
Rupert. During these years their four children, Myrna, Larry,
Karen and Lorin grew to maturity and married. The two girls are
gifted with music in voice and piano. The two boys have
abilities, particularly in baseball and basketball, which has
brought them local recognition. Karen reigned as Minidoka County
beauty queen for a year while a senior in high school. Horace
suddenly passed away about the middle of the 1960s and Afton has
been alone for a goodly number of years. Her home is in
George, Thomas' and Hettie's number eight, married Louise
Hammer of the Idaho Falls area. For the first number of years,
George worked for the local laundry and dry-cleaning
establishment, among other jobs. Louise's mother had operated the
Osgood Grocery store (four miles from Idaho falls) and persuaded
George and Louise to take it over. They lived in the adjoining
house to the store for many years, when a few years ago, they
built a lovely home in Idaho Falls proper. Since then, while
still operating the grocery store, George has been serving as a
floor maintenance specialist at the Idaho Falls Hospital. He
retired from this position at the end of 1982. Their son and all
three daughters graduated from the Brigham Young University. A
couple of their girls distinguished themselves on the BYU
Next in line, Merintha, married a local farm boy. Naturally,
these marriage events for all of the children of the family were
many years ago. Even Merintha by this time, has a head of nearly
white hair to show - her husband, Carl, has kept his hair color a
little better, but they are not kids anymore. One apparently had
it easier than the other.
They have farmed and dairyed here in Rupert all their married
lives. They don't stay home as they used to have to do when their
children were at home. During the past year or two they have
tripped themselves thru the Holy Land and have recently returned
from a beautiful cruise in the Caribbean area of the world.
Their family is likewise musically inclined - a lot of talent.
Oldest son, Terry is a master on the organ - pipe or electronic.
Oldest daughter, Karlene, was a ballerina dancer since she could
walk. Twin sons, Dennis and Doyle, have had a couple of seasons
with the BYU talent troupes and have toured the U.S. and Europe.
Their youngest, Shanna, equally shares in the family talents.
Carl served for several years as bishop of the Rupert 2nd
Ward. Merintha has practically run the full gamut of LDS Church
Earl, while yet single, found himself in Japan with the U.S.
occupational forces - not old enough to catch early action in
World War II. Returning, he married and settled down on the
family farm, where they operate that and neighboring farms and
also operate a sizable grade-A dairy. His wife, Margene Hunsaker,
passed away in January of 1974, with four of their six children
still at home between the ages of the youngest, 11 and 19, ages
where a mother's help is vital.
As though angels were watching and preparing, Margene's
sister, Ruby, had been a widow a short time and her children had
reached maturity and married. Ten months following Margene's
passing, Earl and Ruby married. No set of motherless children
have ever had a better step-mother. She loved them and they loved
her. Ruby has been one-of-a-kind. Within the week of this writing
they have taken youngest son, Greg, to the temple and on to the
Missionary Training Center on his way for a mission in
Front: Earl and Verl, Middle: Roy, Marie (Green), Thomas, Hettie, George,
Back: Afton (Hatch), Fred, Hyrum, Alma, Loyn and Merintha (Garner)
To Verl, a favorite brother: Verl was drafted into the armed
services when little or no attention was given to health
qualifications. Vertebrae problems have followed him all his life
and the period of basic training caused a total breakdown from
which he has never been able to fully recover, despite weeks and
months in and out of veteran hospitals. Being of such a nature
that he cannot be idle, he found work with the railroad and got
along reasonably well for a few years, but, despite consideration
on their part, he reached the point where he could not
Verl married Doris Evans Moon, who had a few small children
and a son, William, was born to this union. After three or four
years she sought for and was given a divorce. Verl purchased a
comfortable trailer home and has resided there ever since and is
located near Paul, Idaho. Son, William, who is now 20 and
unmarried, has stayed close to his father thru the years.
Still industrious and very independent, Verl has as large a
clientele as he wishes for the care of flower gardens, shrubbery,
painting and other light yard work, particularly, during the
spring, summer and fall seasons.
And on to the Thomas and Hettie youngest: Marie, the only
red-headed girl, but accompanied by three of us boys. The Lord
gave the best he had to the few. Marie married Derald Green, a
son of the then stake president. Marie and Derald, likewise, have
a family of musical talent - two boys, a girl and two boys and a
girl again. All married with families excepting Donna who is a
high school senior.
Derald and Marie started on a farm and still own it, but he
has served as a rural mail carrier for many years. Several years
ago they moved to Burley where they have a nice home.
The Thomas and Hettie Blacker family has stayed close to the
Church. They had three sons serve what we classify as foreign
missions as well as two daughters-in-law. They have had 18
grandchildren serve missions and of these 9 of their spouses have
likewise served and the great-grandchildren coming of age with 7
of them already have or are serving. Included in the above
figures were 'couple' missions by LeRoy and Hilda to the Canada
Toronto mission and Loyn and Mabel to the England Leeds mission.
Conservatively figuring the time spent on these combined - all
foreign missions totals 79 years. Numerous stake missions are not
No attempt has been made to seek this same data from the other
branches of the Edward and Althera families, however, it is well
known that a great deal of missionary work has been done. A grand
total would become amazing!
Aunt Maria's turn: She was the fifth of the Edward Blacker
family to leave the little and crowded log cabin, she becoming
married to Brigham Delos Gardner on the 7th of April 1904. The
following excerpt is from son Delos' history of his mother, which
he presented to a family reunion several years ago - in 1966. His
account starts at the time the family leaves Almy:
"Maria was the oldest girl at home at this time and she
assumed her share of the housework. She had attended school in
Almy to about the fourth grade and this was the extent of her
schooling. She never attended school in Star Valley.
"Maria started working out at and early age and says she
remembers crying at nights because she was homesick and wanted to
be home. Her wage was $1.50 per week plus her board and room. She
was a fast worker, a good cook, pleasant and willing and was much
sought after to do house work though out the Valley. She had a
beautiful soprano voice and can remember, as a young girl,
singing in the choir and assisting with programs in church and in
"Mother first remembered Brig (Brigham) Gardner as quite a
roust-a-bout. She says that when Brig and his crowd came into a
dance the folk held their breath and figured things would soon
start popping and they generally did. However, they met and went
together once before he went on his mission, corresponded once or
twice in the two years that he was gone and both were anxious to
see each other when he returned in 1903. The courtship began and
on April 7, 1904, Maria again became 'Queen for a Day' when she
and Brigham D. Gardner were married in the Salt Lake Temple. Mama
tells of the trip to Salt Lake. They traveled by sleigh to
Montpelier, Idaho (50 miles) and from there took the train to
Salt Lake City. They stayed at West Jordan with the Gardners.
Mama admits she was a little afraid and was timid about their
teasing, but the 'Queen' in her coy, lovely way and with her
pleasant, witty disposition assumed her role.
"The couple set up housekeeping in a small one-roomed house
just north of the Blacker place. (Probably the same house Thomas
and Hettie had first used the year previous. L.B.) If her days
had been busy ones before her marriage, they really started
humming now. Her first child was born January 13, 1905 and her
13th was born on May 14, 1925. Thirteen children in twenty years!
There were seven girls and six boys. Harold Edward died on
November 30, 1910 of pneumonia when but 3 1/2 months old. Grandpa
Edward Blacker had passed away just three days before, on
November 27, 1920 at the age of 59. A joint funeral was held and
they were buried near each other at Afton, Wyoming.
"Mother has ever been a homemaker. She assisted Father in the
building of a lovely, spacious new home in 1915 on the old place
north of Afton. (Their home was on the Afton-Grover road 1 3/4
miles north of Afton on the east side of the road and at the
point the road takes off to the west toward the first Blacker
home situated one mile west of that point). The family moved to
Rupert in 1921 where Maxine was born in August. The family moved
back to star Valley in the fall of 1922 (into the same house they
left). Until I, (Delos) was married in 1928 this family of twelve
living children lived together with their parents under trying
and humbling circumstances.
"Father's health had started failing but through it all, this
wonderful mother played her part well. The last few years of
Father's life mother was always at his side lending aid and
comfort that was so badly needed. Father passed away on July 23,
1936. Within a period of a little over 12 years children had all
married and mother had assisted in establishing 12 new homes
giving aid and assistance as needed.
"For the past 20 years (this account was read by Delos in
1965) she has had her home in Afton and spends the winters,
generally, in Utah with her children who live there, but is
always happy to return to her own home. (At the 1965 family
reunion Delos reported that, at that time, Uncle Brig and Aunt
Maria could boast of 68 grandchildren and 32
Gardner brothers and sisters about 1976. Back, Delos, Vern, Kenneth, Darrel, Lincoln.
Middle Elna. Front, Genevieve, Maxine, Dorothy, Marguerite, Allie, Cumorah
Perhaps this compiler of this particular family history can do
no better than to quote a Salt Lake Tribune story of the boys of
the Gardner family which was written by a professional sports
writer, Bill Coltrin, for his Sunday's contribution for 8 Feb
1970. Twelve years have passed since this article was published
and no attempt will be made here to supplement the described
activities with that which has transpired since that date to the
end of 1982 - the final date of this Blacker history. Certainly
the five family represented by the boys of the family plus the
seven families represented by the girls of the family, will have
already completed this story and it all will be found in the 12
family histories resulting therefore.
This news article is the titled: "Gardners Like Work, Sports
and Each Other". A prelude declares the objective, 'The Family
That Plays Together - They all believe in their religion and in
hard work, play and study. They take pride in belonging to this
kind of family'. It may be suggested that the reader refer to the
family chart commencing on page 240. The news article starts
Everyone knows that Kenny Gardner is a star basketball player
for the University of Utah.
But did you know that a cousin, Greg Gardner is on the Ute
frosh team? That cousin Mike Gardner is head coach at Davis High
School? That cousin Joel Gardner is head coach at Spanish Fork?
That cousin Gary Gardner is head coach at Tooele High School?
That three more cousins, Scott Gardner, Terry Gardner and Mark
Gardner are on the Clearfield High School team?
That ex-basketball playing cousins, Delworth Gardner and
Harold Gardner are doctors? That ex-basketball playing cousin,
Kem is an attorney?
And very few know that Kenny's little brother, Steven, is in
the 7th grade at North Davis Junior High School and is as 'rough'
as they come"?
All of this became possible when five brothers, who with seven
sisters were raised on a 60 acre farm in Star Valley, Wyoming,
migrated to Utah and settled in the Clearfield area.
Now a 60 acre farm is not exactly a gold mine, but all of the
five brothers went to college, all are wonderful citizens, and
all can be proud of the way they've raised their sons and
There are a lot of sons and daughters - when the mother of the
five brothers died two years ago she could county 67
grandchildren; that is the she could count them if she could get
the boy grandchildren in off the basketball court long enough to
stand up and be counted.
The five brothers who came down from Star Valley are Delos,
Lincoln, Kenneth, Darrell and Vern, known all over the nation
back in the 1940s as Big Vern, All American basketball player of
the University of Utah.
And now, to end the confusion here are the sons of the five
brothers - Dr. Delworth, Dr. Harold and Joel are sons of Delos.
They played their high school ball in Wyoming where Harold was
all state as a prepster for two years and playing for the
University of Wyoming.
Joel was an all-stater, came to BYU where a leg injury slowed
him down and he is now coaching at Spanish Fork.
Lincoln's sons are Gary, the Tooele coach who played on the
Weber Junior College team which went to the national finals. He
also was all-state at Davis; Kem, now the lawyer, who played at
Davis and is still playing M-Men ball.
Then there's Danny, who played everything at Clearfield and
won the state high jumping crown; Greg was an all around star,
best in basketball and baseball at Clearfield, now a Ute Frosh;
Phil is on an LDS mission on the east coast.
Scott is a senior, playing for Clearfield and Rulon is playing
on the 8th grade team at North Davis Junior High.
Kenneth's sons are Kenny, the great Ute cager who was Mr.
Everything at Clearfield a few years ago; Terry, on the
Clearfield team this winter and Steven, the rough and ready
Darrel's sons include Mike, now coaching at Davis, who had a
great athletic career at Davis high school, all-state in both
football and basketball. He was a three-year regular for Brigham
Young University. Mark, a junior on the Clearfield squad this
winter, is Mike's brother.
Vern's best cager is Allen, who plays 9th grade basketball
even though he is only in the 8th grade and he has three
brothers, Vernie, Fred and Shane. Shane is still in kindergarten,
and even for a Gardner that is a little young for a basketball
So that's the list of the sons of the five migrants from
Wyoming. They have been fine students and athletes in basketball,
football, baseball and track and field.
Aside from Vern, their fathers all were best known as boxers.
Darrel even fought professionally and pretty good, too. Linc was
an Intermountain AAU champion and so was Ken.
Linc's battles with his friend and fellow BYU student, Jack
Stringham, are among the fabled fights in Utah amateur
The fighting fathers discouraged their youngsters from boxing
and in between the homes of Darrel and Linc in West Point, there
is a basketball court, lighted of course, so the kids could play
late at night.
Here it was that the sons started playing - after they had
done their chores around the 'farm'. With the big families and
the farming background in Wyoming it is natural that the Gardners
raise a lot of their own food.
Work is an important thing in the lives of the Gardners and no
one could accuse them of being lazy. In Clearfield, a couple of
service stations and a drive-in hamburger stand keep the kids
busy when they are not playing some sport.
They may have been great heroes in high school and in college
but on Saturdays and during the summer they were greasing cars or
frying hamburgers in Clearfield.
On the other hand, the businesses had to sort of take care of
themselves when a game was or is on involving one of the kids.
All of the Gardner tribe go to all of the games. Darrel recalls
missing only one game while Mike was at BYU and Kenneth has
missed seeing Kenny play at Utah only once. He had a fair excuse
- he was in the hospital.
So the next time someone tells you that it isn't possible to
pull yourself up by your bootstraps, tell them the story of the
They all went to college, but they worked their way through.
Vadal Peterson, who coached Vern in college, says that all Vern
got was a job - he didn't have the so-called full ride, but he
was All America.
All of these five fathers have held more than one job at a
time to keep the family going. If you are waiting to hear anyone
of them complain, forget it.
And what is their secret for raising fine families?
They believe in their religion, hard work, hard play, hard
studying, good personal habits and the pride of being a member of
a fine family.
Gals, you must appreciate that to keep this yarn on one page
of the Tribune, the story had to be confined to your brothers and
their offspring. But after talking to the brothers for some
hours, one thing is certain - they think you're great.
The five Gardner brothers of Clearfield whose sons are changing the name of basketball to Gardner-ball are,
from left, Lincoln, Darrel, Kenneth, Delos (in front) and Vern.
Maria Blacker Gardner in her mid-family years. Probably 1915-1920.
And so ends a family story as seen thru the eyes of a
professional sports writer. After all, it seems the most
important theme of the printed dissertation was 'family
togetherness'. Win or lose, the family-member participant always
became the family hero and with such sideliner fans how can any
boy or girl feel neglected to the point that he or she would not
have the will to do his or her best.
The girls of the family were as equally endowed as have been
the boys. Were their story told it would be just as amazing as
the story of the boys, perhaps more so. What an achievement it
would be were one of their number, perhaps a son or a daughter or
a grandchild, compile the experiences of each of these daughters
of this particular family and let each, in turn, become the topic
or subject of a chapter and combine the seven under the title of
"The Seven Sisters".
May it be suggested that the reader turn to the family charts
to assist in determining the accomplishments of the daughters and
daughters-in-law - co-creators with God, and as one great man has
said, "The greatest good one will ever do will be within the
walls of his or her own home."
Church and church activity has been the importance to all in
the Gardner family. The full story is not in the hands of this
writer, but mention should be made of the many years Delos served
in the Star Valley stake presidency before he moved to Utah. He
and Lorean were called to serve a two year mission in Australia.
Approximately six months prior to the regular release time, his
mother, Aunt Maria, passed away and the missionaries were
permitted to return home for the funeral and were assigned to
Indiana to later complete their two year assignment. Their final
release came in 1968.
Lincoln and Phyllis were called to serve an 18 month mission
in New Zealand in the spring of 1981 and were released and
returned home just prior to the 1982 Christmas season. A few
years prior to their mission, Lincoln was released as a counselor
in the stake presidency and called as a stake patriarch - this
two or three years prior to their mission call. Naturally, he was
not released as a patriarch when called to their mission, but
still retains that assignment.
Daughter, Cumorah, was called to serve a mission and, at the
close of 1982 at this writing, she is still servicing in the
Washington, D.C. temple.
In 1933, daughter Allie married Hillary Hyde and to them have
been born two sons and two daughters. Their home has continuously
been in Afton where, for many, many years, Allie taught school
until her retirement. Hillary has farmed and has been employed in
Afton until, also, his retirement.
The other girls of the family have served as secretaries and
general office work in Utah and at Hill Field, such as
Marguerite. Dorothy has been a nurse most of her adult life both
in Afton and the Veteran's Hospital in Salt Lake. Elna, likewise,
has raised a family and has been a school teacher. Cumora was a
long time high school teacher of English and Speech in Clearfield
and, like her sisters, has raised a family. Maxine has
specialized in secretarial and office work and Genevieve is a
long time employee of Hill Field. Vern, the youngest son, has
been known as "Big Vern". He followed school teaching and is
currently teaching math in Bonneville High School in Ogden. Also,
he has spent considerable time coaching. We must not overlook
mentioning that Lincoln is a former school teacher, having taught
in the Big Horn area in Wyoming. He, as with most of his sisters,
taught in Afton at one time or another.
It should be noted that the Gardner Brothers' enterprise with
the Big Vern oil stations was eventually purchased by Vern and
JoAnne and family. This transaction took place during the early
Now we will turn to the next in line of the children of Edward
and Althera, Uncle Will.
With the previous accounts of these children, the accounts
generally commenced with their marriage. As the reader will
recall, we have had a taped interview with Uncle Will and some of
his pre-marriage history should be related prior to our account
of him after he married. At this point we will intercept the
account where he is relating of the construction of the new home
on his parent's farm in Afton, this, following the passing of his
father, and several years following the last two marriages of the
family, Tom's and Maria's. We had just left him telling of the
deaths of Grandpa Loveday and Grandpa Blacker, both from the old
log house. and both in the year 1910. The initials, "L" for Loyn,
and "UW for Uncle Will are the same as when we were transcribing
his tape earlier.
L: That was in 1910 when they passed away?
UW: Yes, in the fall of 1911, I went down to Willow Creek
canyon and I cut saw logs and in the winter would go down with
the sleighs and haul them back. I had met Ella during this time and I was engaged to her to be married. Instead of
building a house for her I got this timber out and built a house
L: That would be the present house standing there now? Of
course even that is an old house now.
UW: It's an old house now, but it was a nice house when it was
L: Yes, I remember when the house was new, before it was
finished. It was a nice house.
UW: I remember when we were up there logging - there were
seven of us up there. We were pretty near through hauling our
logs down to Turner's mill down in Turnerville. We had a big
snowstorm and it happened this night - we used to go up on the
side of the hill where the logs were piled and we would take a
log down to the mill in the morning. We would return and load up
in the evening and would drive out to the point of the hill where
we would leave our sleighs. We had out camp back in the canyon,
up where the spring was. This particular night it snowed and
snowed and I had a dream. I dreamed that I was in a snow slide.
It was so real that when I came to I was out of my tent
L: You scrambled away from the imaginary danger.
UW: Yes, I was, maybe a block away from the other camps
because I had been up there with Elias Michaelson (a neighbor)
who had got thru with his logs and he had left for home. I woke
up and went up and woke the other fellows up - it was four
o'clock in the morning and I told them that I thought we out to
get out of there for I dreamed that I was in the snowslide.
Skinner (the leader of the crew from the Lower Valley) was what
you would call a 'jack-Mormon' and he swore at me and he said,
"You Mormon - censured - go back to bed".
Well, I went back to bed and in a few minutes he hollered down
to me and said, "Blacker, we'll take you at your word and we will
get ready now and hitch up and take the logs down. I'll have one
of my boys stay here in camp and he will have breakfast for all
of us by the time we get back", so we harnessed up the horses and
got out on the point of the hill. All this snow had come and we
just couldn't get our loads started because of the depth of the
snow and the loads were heavy. It happened that, at this time,
Skinner had two outfits, one of his sleighs on the lead and the
other behind our loads. The rest of us were in between, so we
decided that he should take his team off the rear load and put on
the first sleigh with the other team and break a road for us.
Well, they finally got started and we got down about a quarter
of a mile or a half mile below where we made a turn in the canyon
and a snow slide came right in behind us. We just got around this
bend and a big wind came and hurled snow until we couldn't
breathe. We all stopped and got down by the side of our sleights.
Skinner said we might as well go back, 'the slide is in now'.
When we went back we saw that every tree, every piece of
timber was all gone. Skinner's last sleight which was left behind
was found the next summer in little bits of pieces. My tent was
just knocked down, but it hadn't been moved. The edge of the
slide had just touched the edge of the tent. If we hadn't gotten
out early or, if we had waited until breakfast and had been out
on the point of that hill, none of us would have lived through
it. There wasn't a thing left - it just took everything.
L: What a remarkable manifestation that came in the form of a
UW: Yes, and several years afterwards, after I had left Star
Valley and went back on a visit, I met Skinner and he told me -
he came up and shook my hand and put his arm around me and said,
"Will, I have often thought about your dream and if we hadn't
have done it, we wouldn't have been here today".
L: What an interesting experience. I haven't heard you tell it
UW: I have never told it too much. You know it says that "Old
men would dream dreams and young men visions". If it hadn't have
been for that dream we would not have been here now. Now, to go
on - I got enough logs out for lumber and the next summer we
built Mother's house.
In 1913 I got married - on January 23rd, and we lived in part
of Mother's house.
L: This was in the new house?
UW: Yes, until I bought the forty acres - the old Anderson
L: You and Uncle Hyrum had been running the farm on the old
UW: Yes, Hyrum was not too well, for he had a bad heart.
L: You were married in Logan?
UW: In Salt Lake on the 23rd of January.
L: You picked the winter time.
UW: Yes, Archeso Corsi drove us out the morning we went
L: You went to Montpelier and then took the train?
UW: Yes, we went from there on a train. We stayed in
Montpelier all night.
At this point in the interview Uncle Will gave a little
history of Aunt Ella and her girlhood - that she had lived with
Aunt Luella Wilkes - no relation - from the time she was about
twelve until they were married. After missing some of the
interview we here return agin to the interview to the subject of
early Star Valley.
L: As the Edward Blacker children were growing up: Afton had
grown from a little town - of course Afton has always been a
little town - but it certainly increased for people moved into
the Valley and it developed during these years. About your early
social life and activities - were they handled by the church? Of
course, there was the Afton ward.
UW: All we knew at that time was home parties and dances
because we didn't have movies. Maybe once in a while there would
be a traveling troupe come in such as Tom Cutler had a dramatic
troupe which traveled around the country and they used to come
over to Star Valley once in a while in the winter time. That's
all we knew excepting some home talent once in a while.
Practically all we did was dance.
It would have had to have been during the last of 1917 or
early in 1918 that Uncle Will and family moved from Star Valley
to Paul, Idaho, where they partnershipped a farming season with
Aunt Luella Wilkes and son, Edgar. By the next year, the summer
of 1919, they had contracted for the purchase of a farm in the
Big Bend district south of Rupert some four to five miles. There
they farmed for a couple years when the severe depression of
1920-21 became a catastrophe to farmers due to rapid price
decline of farm produce, which wrought havoc with the more recent
purchasers of farm property. This not only affected Uncle Will
but also his brother, Thomas, who in the fall of 1919, purchased
a farm in Rupert as previously described, and, also, Uncle Will's
brother-in-law and sister and family, the Brig Gardners who had
purchased a farm in Rupert in 1920. All three families lost their
After losing his farm and all that he had, Uncle Will,
fortunately, found employment with the railroad on the section.
They moved to Heyburn into a railroad section house for a while
and later into another residence which they leased.
Uncle Will's and Aunt Ella's first three sons, Roderick, Kem
and Worth were born in Afton. Blair, Rowene and Arlo were born in
the Rupert-Heyburn area. All six births were within the period
from 23 June 1914 and the 11th of September of 1924.
Will and Ella Blacker's daughter. Buried in the Heyburn, Idaho cemetery.
After three or four years on the section, Uncle Will and Aunt
Ella concluded there were little prospects ahead for their
family's future. Word reached them of prospects for work at the
new Manache, Washington Dam. With three or four other men of the
area, Uncle Will went up to find employment, which he did for a
while, but ended up with employment on a canal project in
Ellensburg. It was here that the family joined him, and it was
from here that Roderick graduated from high school.
One dream they had always had, and especially Aunt Ella, was
that their children were going to be given an opportunity for
college. Considerable history could be written of their next
move, this time, with Uncle Will remaining with his employment at
Ellensburg. Aunt Ella and children went scouting for a home in a
college town and ended up in Corvallis, Oregon, the home of
Oregon State University.
For a year or more, Uncle Will continued with his employment
in Washington for they were now into the 1930s and the great
Depression had hit hard. The older boys were attending Washington
State which was an agricultural college and each - Roderick and
Kem - found part time jobs on campus. On one of Uncle Will's
visits to his family, he found employment on the college farm. He
took the job, but he then developed a problem with his feet,
which, he reported, was related to rheumatism. This completely
crippled him to the point he couldn't walk, except, at times, on
crutches. This condition lasted for about three years.
In the mean-time, and soon after reaching Corvallis,
enterprising Aunt Ella decided to take in boarders - students,
boys only. First she provided mainly sleeping rooms, and soon
thereafter, board and room. She soon got more business than she
could handle, even with the help of the boys, so she did some
hiring and later had an opportunity of getting hold of improved
While attending college, Roderick and Kem joined a unit of the
national guard and Kem graduated as a Second Lieutenant. Roderick
graduated with a degree in forestry and made that his life's
work. In the meantime, Uncle Will recovered from his foot
disability, and obtained work for five or six years as a
custodian at the college. Worth graduated with a degree in
agriculture and made his life's work in that field. By the time
Arlo and Blair finished school, World War II had started. Blair
was but 20 when he completed the university and received his
degree and loved flying. His one desire was to fly the big
bombers overseas, but Uncle Sam had other work for him. He was
assigned to an air-force base in Arizona as an instructor and it
was on one of his flights in connection with that assignment,
that his plane crashed. His body was brought to Corvallis where
he was buried. He died 20 Jul 1942.
Kem made his career with the U.S. Military and was stationed
in Hawaii at the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He achieved
positions of distinction during the military career, making
several secret missions to the War Department in Washington D.C.
He served in Australia and went up to New Guinea, Lai, and the
Philippines with the title of Major Lieutenant Colonel. His
assignment was with the most difficult of the U.S. invasions in
that area of the Pacific and was he closely associated with
Rowean assisted her mother while they were in Corvallis, and
undoubtedly attended school there. She married Lawrence (Bud)
Amos on the 18th of February 1942 and had three children. Rowean
and Bud lived in Long View, Washington, where he was employed in
the timber related industries and it was here Uncle Will and Aunt
Ella moved to make their home near Rowean in their last
It is with regrets that we report so little data on Arlo. He
was born in Heyburn on the 11th of September of 1924.
Undoubtedly, most of his schooling would have been in Corvallis.
He married Irene Carroll, 30 September 1947, in New York City and
was divorced in 1958. He remarried, this time to Avril Dunson in
Ocean Beach, California. Arlo had no children, however, they
adopted a boy and a girl, Rocky and Sherry.
Arlo also, followed the military and lived in the San Diego,
California area for several years and was last transferred to the
Island of Guam where he suffered a fatal heart attack and passed
away on the 22nd of Oct. 1975.
Following their family leaving home Uncle Will and Aunt Ella
did considerable traveling from Alaska to Mexico and to most of
the states within the U.S. Uncle Will claims they became known as
the "Blacker Gypsies". They enjoyed this touring period of their
years until in about the year 1950, when Roderick's wife, Martha,
became seriously ill at their home in Durango, Colorado where
Roderick's forestry work took them. Uncle Will and Aunt Ella sold
their home in Corvallis and moved to Colorado to assist with
Roderick's family. However, Martha passed away in 1950. Later
circumstances took them to San Diego to be near Arlo and while
there Uncle Will obtained employment at a military site as a
janitor and Aunt Ella purchased and operated a small cafe for a
few years, until such time as she was stricken by a stroke -
partial at first but sufficiently severe that she had to retire.
They then, returned to be closer to their daughter, Rowean, who,
with her husband, Bud or Lawrence Amos and children, were living
at Richland, Washington. Due to a transfer in Bud's work in the
timber related industries, they moved to Longview, Washington
located in the almost extreme southwestern part of the state just
across the great Columbia River from Oregon.
Her health condition gradually deteriorating over the next few
years, Aunt Ella passed away on the 18th of July 1970. For the
next nearly eight years, Uncle Will lived alone. but under the
watchful eye of his family. Quite regularly he made his
pilgrimage to the annual reunion back in Wyoming, Utah or Idaho,
as the case may have been.
He was never one to complain and even when his frail body
became considerably stooped and his mobility became very much
impaired, whenever inquiry was made of him as to how he felt he
would invariably respond with his unique chuckle and turning his
head upward for his eyes to look into the eyes of the inquirer,
would again repeat what he always would say, "Fine, I'm just
Seven additional weeks are all that he would have had to have
to have reached his 92nd birthday but his literally worn-out
physical body needed rest and so he succumbed on the 18th of
February 1978 in Longview, Washington.
Both he and Aunt Ella were buried in Corvallis, Oregon in the
plot they had previously arranged as their final resting place.
The Edward Blacker family and descendants have never been the
same since uncle Will's passing. The time came when he was not
physically able to make the long trips to the reunions, and it
seemed the family no longer retained the same incentive to meet.
The enlarged Blacker family had scattered itself over several
states, particularly western and cousins who knew each other had
their own respective families. Second cousins - and sometimes
first - did not know each other and seemingly failed to sense an
obligation to maintain any type of family relationship, which
their parents and grandparents had so hoped could be
For several years Uncle Will served as president of the Edward
Blacker Family Organization. There has been no reunion by the
overall family since. It is true, several branches of the family
have organized and are holding regular annual reunions. Certainly
this is good and most proper and, possible, sufficient. An old
cliche has it that 'blood is thicker than water' which, perhaps,
explains the natural interest for folk of the same 'roots' to
keep in touch with each other. After all, we are what our
ancestry made us and so each family is quite unique from another
family. That which we have in common provides a natural
inclination to family association and it is good.
Chronologically in the Edward Blacker home, Aunt Merintha
follows Uncle Will, but she had married and left the family nest
well over a year prior to her next older brother. Fortunately we
have a copy of a brief history written by herself, Merintha
Althera Blacker Williams, which was mailed to us by her son,
Grant, in the early spring of 1965. A copy was originally
included in a family letter of 1 May 1965, which was mailed to
approximately 100 family member homes. We thanked Grant for the
valued account and thank him again at this time. Aunt Merintha's
account is as follows:
Merintha Althera Blacker Williams - born July 7th 1888 at Almy
Wyoming. I went to school in Almy for just two years. During the
years in school and prior to that time, I did a lot of singing at
church, at school and at various other social functions.
My mother was a lovely seamstress and I can always remember
the pretty dresses she made for me. When I was nine years old
Father and Mother and the family moved from Almy to Afton,
Wyoming and I lived there until I was married. Our first home in
Afton was a very small two room adobe and I really don't know
where Mother put all of us. There were Father, Mother, Tom,
Maria, Will, Hyrum, Fannie and myself and later Kem was born. My
mother always worked hard and her 'pet peeve' was cleanliness.
She once said, "Never be ashamed of patches as long as your
clothes are clean". We always had plenty to eat and we were
taught to work and to enjoy our labor. We were all active in the
Church. I sang in the ward choir and taught a class in Sunday
School and, of course, I loved to dance - even though the music
was sometimes terrible. Will and I won several prizes for our
I met my George in Frontier, Wyoming. I was visiting my eldest
sister, Sarah Ann, and her husband, Archie Nisbet who, at the
time, were living in Sublette, Wyoming, about seven miles from
Frontier. I was waiting for a stage coach to go to Sublette when
along came a locomotive and a nice young man who was the engineer
who asked me if I wanted to ride on the engine with him. So up I
went into the cab with the young engineer and away we went to
Sublette. In the mean time I learned that his name was George
That was the beginning of a long and true romance. The summer
before we were married George went with me to Afton so my family
could see what kind of a man I had 'fallen' in love with. I guess
every one approved, as we were married in Afton at Mother's home
on October 25th 1911. Bishop Osborne Lowe married us. When we
were married, George did not belong to our Church.
(A personal excerpt, by her son, Grant, was written in his
letter referred to the above, interrupting his mother's story.
Speaking of his father long after his parents had married: "Dad,
upon awakening each morning would make his coffee as Mother would
not, as she did not believe this to be right. One morning the
coffee pot had not been put on the stove and Mother wondered why.
The reason: Dad had finally decided to become a Mormon. I don't
know whether the conversion was due to his beliefs or whether he
got tired of making his own coffee.) We again continue with Aunt
George Williams did become a member of the L.D.S. Church and
was baptized by John McPhie on August 3rd 1918.
Richard Grant was born May 2nd 1913 and Ella was born August
6th, 1917. Our two children were born at Kemmerer, Wyoming.
George and I were both active in our ward. George was in the
Sunday School and he was Ward Clerk for many years. I was
president of the Primary in Kemmerer, later holding the same
presidency in Salt Lake City. I taught boy's junior seminary and
was the chorister in Sunday School. I have always been active in
Relief Society work and was a counselor in this work.
We lived in Kemmerer for 21 years. Grant had finished high
school and was in Salt Lake City attending the University of
Utah. He was staying with Marie and Kem (Aunt Merintha's brother)
but the winter of 1931-32 Kem became very sick and I went to Salt
Lake to be with Marie from December until death took Kem on June
10th 1932. After the decease of Kem we decided to live in Salt
Lake where George worked until he was pensioned at the age of 70.
(A working life time with the railroad.)
Marie and her young son, Kay, lived with us and Ann was born
November following the death of Kem. The morning Ann was born,
George took Marie to the hospital and stayed there until the baby
arrived. We certainly did love Marie and her two children - they
were just like our own. Before Marie died she said to us, "Oh,
Uncle George, you and Auntie have been so good to me and my
children." (she used our names as the children had for years).
Marie was a fine woman and was very good to George and me and I
can't express how much we have missed her.
Ella's husband was killed in a car accident and she and her
daughter, Ann Caldwell Cannon, came from Reno, where they had
been living, to stay with us. George and I love those two girls,
Ella and Ann, and our little great grand-daughter, Rebecca.
During my long illness I can't express how wonderful Marie and
her daughter Ann and son-in-law, Ron Astle, were to me and the
great help they were to my George.
Grant had left the fold early and after receiving his doctor's
degree decided to remain in California. Although we see little of
him we hear from him about once a week and he has a fine family
and really don't know how people get along who don't have
On the 25th of October George and I celebrated our 53rd
wedding anniversary. (This anniversary was in the year 1964). How
I prize those years we have spent together. What a blessing it is
to have your sweetheart for so many years. George has taken such
good care of me throughout our lives that I wonder how I could
ever go on without him.
Living in Salt Lake since 1932 has given us a chance to make
an abundance of good and true friends. Even though we are now
growing old (she was 78 and he was 84) I cannot but feel that my
life with George and my family has been full and beautiful.
Ella Williams, four to five years of age.
Grant Williams, seven to eight years of age. Picture taken in Kemmerer about 1921.
Aunt Merintha, Ella, Grant and Uncle George Williams with dog Tippy. About 1923 in Salt Lake City
Joseph H. and Ella Caldwell about 1938, parents of Ann Cannon.
Harry and Ella Empey in Santa Rosa, California, Christmas 1982.
As the family chart will show later in this history, within a
year of when aunt Merintha wrote the above account, she passed
away on the 7th of March 1966. She was buried in the Salt Lake
Uncle George Williams remained alone at their home on 12th
Avenue in Salt Lake City for several years until it became
advisable for him to go to daughter, Ella's and Harry's home in
Santa Rosa, California where he spent the last few years with
their loving care. In fewer than another 5 months he would have
reached his 96th birthday when he passed away in Santa Rosa. His
body was brought to Salt Lake City for burial at the side of Aunt
Merintha. His death occurred 31 Mar 1978.
A SHORT HISTORY OF GEORGE AND MERINTHA BLACKER WILLIAMS
By daughter, Ella Williams Empey
"My account of my Mother, Merintha Althera Blacker and Father,
George E. Williams will start in Kemmerer, Wyo., where Grant, my
brother, and I were born. Dad built a house for Mother (Dad was
so handy, he could do most anything with tools) which consisted
of a living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, one bedroom and
a closet with ground for a little garden and chickens - - way at
the back. Dad loved flowers and we always had a beautiful
manicured lawn and flowers of every description that would grow
in Wyoming. Grant went through high school in Kemmerer, played
the saxophone in the school band, played basketball and was
student body president. I always did lots of singing and was
chosen several times to do plays, both in the community and
school. Mother was always active in the Church and she loved the
young people. She directed young people's choirs, worked in
Mutual and the Primary. She always said, "If I had a million
dollars, I would give it to the Children's hospital in Salt Lake
for all those wonderful children."
"As we grew up Dad wanted to move to a community where we
children would have more opportunities and when Grant was ready
for a university education he decided on the University of Utah.
He went ahead of the family for his freshman year, and lived with
Aunt Marie and Uncle Kem Blacker while attending the U. The time
had come, and Dad had enough seniority with the railroad to ask
for a transfer and we moved to Salt Lake in 1932. (Just a side
comment), When Uncle Kem took sick in Dec. 1931, Mother went to
Murray, Utah and stayed with Aunt Marie to help her with Uncle
Kem and baby, Kay and was with her until Uncle Kem passed away in
June of 1932. Dad, Grant and I were in Kemmerer and Dad took care
of us while Mother was away -- he never once complained nor would
have had it any other way.
"We moved to a home on 9th East and 5th South in Salt Lake and
Aunt Marie, now a widow, moved in with us. Mother and Dad were so
happy to have them, and I know Aunt Marie thought of them as her
parents. Mother took care of Kay while Aunt Marie taught school.
Then Ann was born (Dad took Aunt Marie to the hospital to await
the birth) then Aunt Marie and baby, Ann Marie, carne to our home
and Mother took care of the two children until Aunt Marie wanted
her own home and moved to Murray, Utah where she was teaching
"Then Mother and Dad bought a home on Third Avenue in Salt
Lake and lived there for the next 40 plus years. Aunt Marie and
Kay and Ann were just part of our family. In all the years we
were in Salt Lake they spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas
with us (until Kay and Ann became a little older and wanted to be
with friends, particularly at Christmas, but always had dinner
with us) and Marguerite Gardner was with us, too. Marguerite
lived with Aunt Marie and helped her for years while the children
were small. After each get together, when the children were
little, Dad would carry them to the car, tuck them in and Aunt
Marie would chug and jerk away (she was not a very good driver)
and Dad would always laugh and say he would be thankful when they
got home. Then in about an hour, Aunt Marie would call to report
her safe arrival. This was an arrangement they had agreed on, so
Mother and Dad knew Aunt Marie and children had gotten home and
were alright. We loved Aunt .Marie and family so much and I mow
Kay and Ann loved Mother and Dad, as Kay paid a wonderful tribute
to them at Dad's funeral in Salt Lake in 1978.
"Grant graduated from U of U, married Marjorie Erickson and
during their marriage found it necessary to move in with Mother
and Dad. Once again, our parents opened their home and Grant and
Marge stayed with them a year or so.
Marge was a nurse and this was when Grant decided to get his
doctorate in optometry and went to Los Angeles to school. Marge
stayed with Mother and Dad and once again they were parenting
their family. Marge, too, loved my parents for their goodness to
her. This separation was bad for the marriage and Grant and Marge
were divorced. Grant got his degree, moved back to Salt Lake and
became an optometrist with his first office on Main street and
later married his nurse-receptionist, June Mackey, and they had
"During this period, I (Ella) graduated from South Hi School
in Salt Lake, was always active in all things musical and went to
the U of U where I met Joseph H. Caldwell. We were married in the
Salt Lake Temple after a two year courtship, spent two years in
Ogden, Utah then sought our fortune in Reno, Nevada. It was a
good move for us. Joe was made General Agent for Occidental Life
Insurance Company. We had a daughter, Shirley Ann, born in Salt
Lake in 1939. We were active in the Reno Ward. I worked in MIA,
Primary, very active in choir and all ward music and Joe was in
the bishopric and held many ward and stake positions. Our lives
seemed so perfect in every way, then on June 13, 1952, Joe was
driving to Carson City, Nevada to do some lobbying for the State
Insurance Ass' n, when an intoxicated truck driver hit the car
head-on and instantly killed Joe and two other very prominent
Nevada insurance men. Needless to say, things completely changed
for Ann and me and once again Mother and Dad came to our rescue.
We sold our home in Reno and moved in with Mother and Dad for one
year until I got my 'feet on the ground'. I can't express the
gratitude I feel for the love and help they gave Ann and me
during this year - - and always. I don't think a grandmother and
granddaughter ever had a more wonderful relationship than my
Mother and my daughter, Ann. What special memories for all of
"Dad retired from the railroad, after 45 years, in 1952, at
the age of 70. He was compelled to retire - - R. R. Policy, and
he often said he didn't kow why you couldn't work as long as you
wanted to and were able. But he never stopped building, doing his
own yard work, cooking and housekeeping, when Mother was so ill,
until he came to Santa Rosa in 1973 at the age of 90.
"Ann and I moved into our own home in Salt Lake after the year
with my folks. Ann went to high school in Salt Lake and graduated
from the U of U with a BA in English. She met Anthon Gannon at
the U, finished her education and waited while Tony served a
mission in Australia.. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple
in June 1962, moved to Cambridge, Mass., where Tony got a law
degree from Harvard University and then lived in New York for the
next 10 years. Then, much to our joy, they moved to the west
coast, LaCanada, California. They have three beautiful daughters,
Rebecca, Elizabeth, Jennifer and a powerhouse boy, Anthon S.
Back row, 1 to r: Anthon S. Cannon, Rebecca and Elizabeth
2nd row: Jennifer and Shirley Ann Caldwell Cannon.
Bottom center: Anthon S. Cannon III.
"After moving to our home in Salt Lake, I (Ella) got my life
together. Worked 5 years at KSL Radio and 5 years for Western
Airlines. During these years I sang with the Salt Lake Tabernacle
Choir, first under the direction of J. Spencer Cornwall and,
after he retired, under Richard Condie. Such wonderful
experiences I had in those years. Went with the Choir to Europe,
sang the Messiah in Carnegie Hall in New York City, made
recordings with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra and
had many spiritual and grand experiences those ten years. My
daughter, Ann, also sang in the Tabernacle Choir at the same time
I did and so we have many beautiful memories to share.
"In 1962 I met and married a wonderful man, Harry C. Empey. We
had been high school friends and some 30 years later decided to
marry and make our future together. We moved to Santa Rosa,
California where we still reside. I could never have hoped for a
better mate - - at this writing, 1983 - - we have been married 21
years and hope this is just the beginning. Mother did not know
Harry, as she was so sick when I met him, but when Dad lived with
us from 1973 to 1976, he learned to love and appreciate Harry who
took such good care of Dad, night and day.
"'Back to Mother and Dad. Mother's last years were sad, as she
was very ill and Dad took constant care of her. What a wonderful,
caring companion he was. Still taking care of his lawn and
flowers, all the cooking and house work and his dear Merintha. I
was with Mother and Dad on March 7, 1966, holding Mother's hand,
when she passed away at the age of 78.
"Dad lived alone in the Third Avenue home for another seven
years. We wanted him to be with us in Santa Rosa, but he wanted
to be independent and live alone as long as possible. Then in the
fall of 1973, when Dad was 90 years old, we insisted he give up
the home and be with us. He did so begrudgingly, but I'm sure he
realized the time had come when he needed someone to care for
him, after all the care he had given others..
"Dad passed away on March 31, 1978, just 5 months before his
96th birthday and we returned his body to rest beside my mother,
Merintha Althera Blacker Williams. My love and gratitude to my
wonderful parents, who made all things possible for me."'
Returning to our story of Grandma Blacker and her family
living on their farm north and west of Afton and following Aunt
Merintha's and Uncle Will's marriages, Uncle Hyrum became the
senior son, now just 21 years of age and who now had the full
responsibility of managing the farm - this probably in 1915 - for
Uncle Will remained on the farm with Aunt Ella until after their
eldest son, Roderick was born in June of 1914.
About this time a war-scare with Mexico had fronted, and a
unit of the Wyoming National Guard was organized at Afton and a
call for volunteers was sent out and young men - young married
men as well as singles - were encouraged to join. Two of the
Blacker boys - both married - Tom and Will, found themselves
drilling to the martial music of the Afton town band on frequent
occasions. How well the writer of this account remembers his
going with other members of the little family, in the white top
buggy, after milking time in the evenings, to witness and thrill
with the sound of the music and the waving of the flag as the
small guard team went thru its drill formations called out by an
out-of-town military man by the name, I think, Major. Such could
have been his rank. Of this I am not sure, but what a spark of
excitement the entire Star Valley 'military' created in the,
otherwise, monotonous events of daily living in the quiet
The war scare became very real during this particular summer,
for a call came that the Star Valley National Guard unit was to
report to a man in, as can now be recalled, Cheyenne. It would
seem very possible, and quite likely, that Uncle Brig Gardner may
have also been included in this group. Due to a heart condition
Uncle Hyrum was not included.
What a sad morning it was when the families of Star Valley
took, particularly, their husbands and fathers to Afton in their
buggies and/or wagons only to return home without them and, in
most instances, to a herd of milk cows which had to be chored
night and morning, as usual. It was summer time and both the
Blacker families involved had water in the irrigation ditches
which had to be cared for, for there were growing crops in the
It would seem from this later perspective that the local guard
officials, with their enthusiasm in their efforts toward national
security quite overlooked the fact that in any national emergency
the 'home' front, likewise, had to be maintained. The latter
could not be supported by taking heads of families from their
homes, herds and farms.
Sufficient protests of various descriptions, and from
sufficient sources, reached a higher echelon of command After the
Star Valley unit had reached Cheyenne, a second look was given
the newly arrived fathers and farmers with children and herds and
crops, and within a week's time there was a reversal of
assignment, and among others, Will and Tom Blacker returned home
with honorable discharges.
Hyrum Blacker and Elva Cazier married 23 January 1915.
As earlier stated, Uncle Will purchased the Anderson forty,
one half mile east of the original Blacker home, which was
approximately the time of which we are referring to the National
Guard experience. Most likely, Uncle Will's move made possible
another important family event. With Uncle Hyrum next to have the
responsibility of becoming the man of the farm as soon as Uncle
Will left, there came an opening in the new house for him to
introduce a wife to the family. With the type of situation
existing so far as living room as concerned, it is quite possible
Uncle Hyrum, now well over 23 years of age, had already had to
postpone marriage until a vacancy was brought about. Of this we
are not sure, but it seems very plausible, nevertheless, be that
as it may, a marriage between Hyrum Blacker and Elva Cazier took
place on the 23rd of January 1915.
Grandma Blacker's family of the unmarried portion was getting
smaller. There now remained Aunt Fannie, a gal who had to play an
important roll as milk maid and general chore girl on the farm.
She was now 21 years of age herself. She had seen a lot of
service in caring for the farm animals and working in the hay
fields in its harvest as well as, during the snow seasons,
distributing the hay to the animals at feed time. Also, at home,
was youngest son, Kem. Kem, as so with his brother Hyrum, had not
been well since childhood. He, more so than his brother Hyrum,
seemed not to have been meant for the farm. Due to a heart
condition and lameness in his feet, he was limited when it came
to exerting work. He was, at this time, the only one of the
family attending school - high school in about his junior year,
for he was 17 years of age and he was a good student. The
handwriting had been on the wall thru the years that, of
necessity, his future would have to be off the farm.
Whether it was a year or two before, or approximately the time
of Uncle Hyrum's marriage, that the following occurred, probably
prior to. One fall, Uncle Will and Uncle Hyrum, as many families
did in Star Valley, took their team and wagon out to the Bear
Lake country, possibly even over the mountain from Bear Lake to
Cache Valley in Utah. They made the trip for their winter's
supply of foodstuffs, such as potatoes, perhaps wheat, onions,
cabbage and other storable vegetables, apples, pears etc. etc.
and/or any other needs which the 'outside world' could offer,
which were scarce in Star Valley.
While on this trip, these two young men were approached by an
apparently deserted mother with a family of children. She was
searching for help in caring for her children. The result was
that Ivy, a young girl of about 12 years of age, came with them
to their home to be provide for. Her mother did not have the
wherewithall to keep her.
Ivy became endeared to all of us of even the enlarged Blacker
families. Whether by design or not, Ivy became very much an
outdoor girl. During the several years she made her home with the
Blacker family, she served as well as any hired man. This was her
nature and her choice. As she grew older, she was able to handle
cattle and horses as well as any man. It seemed nothing to her,
as she was to mount a bare-back horse, to throw her right leg
over the horse's back in order to straddle it, and off she would
go with the horse on a run.
For several years, Uncle Hyrum sponsored a milk-carrying route
by horse and wagon - or in winter time by sleigh, and as Ivy
became older, it became her chore to drive the milk wagon to the
creamery at Grover, a distance of five or six miles total from
her place one way. There were milk cans - eight and ten gallon
size cans - placed by the side of the road on milkstands by
individual farmers. These stands were elevated to the proper
height for transferring to the wagon without the milkhauler
having to make the initial lift. Rather often some of us older
kids - 10 or 12 years of age - would have the assignment to go
with Ivy to assist. (Usually not more than one helper on a trip).
The milk route commenced at Uncle Hyrum's and going east along
the first mile stretch, milk would be picked up from the two
Mickelson homes, Uncle Will's, Oz Gardner's, and coming to the
Afton-Grover road, pick up the Kennington's, Uncle Brig's and
traveling north toward Grover, the Tom Blacker's four or five
cans, to the Will Gardner's, Ad Jensen's etc., and to as many as
had contracted to have their milk hauled and to the creamery
about one mile west of Grover, back toward Salt River.
We kids used to love to take our turn going with Ivy, not only
for the ride and the conversation ,but also, when at the
creamery, we never failed to go to the big cheese vats where the
attendant would permit us to take a handful or more of curd
which, even to this day, is the writer's choice of cheese
products. Some of the farms who may have had pigs would buy back
from the creamery, the liquid residue from the creamery
processes, the whey or, as we called it, swill, for the feeding
of pigs. Cans of this were delivered to the proper places as well
as the empty milk cans on the return trip.
Ivy remained with Grandma Blacker for eight to ten years. She
eventually returned to the Cache Valley area and married and
raised a family.
Back to Uncle Hyrum and Aunt Elva: This writer remembers Uncle
Hyrum very well, with, perhaps one of my earlier memories being
of the time the folk arranged previously with Uncle Hyrum to stop
at the house while on the same milk route as described in
connection with Ivy, but before Ivy had joined the family. This
stop was for the purpose of giving me my first haircut. Uncle
Hyrum held the distinction of being the family's barber. I had
reached five years of age and due to my auburn colored hair being
inclined to curling had been kept in ringlets. Dad's ill kept
promise before any of us were born was that if he had any
red-heads, their heads would be kept shaven. The first of the
three of us who had red hair proved his lack of full intent, for
it took five years to get as much as a hair cut. The writer can
remember well the sunshine morning when Uncle Hyrum stopped in
with his barber scissors.
Uncle Hyrum was popular and a friend to everyone, young and
old alike. He had a beautiful singing voice and was very much in
demand for entertaining purposes, as well as being constantly in
demand for funeral services. He and his neighbor, Arling Gardner,
of about the same age sang beautifully together.
It was Uncle Hyrum who loaded his sleigh with household goods
of the Thomas Blacker family and assisted in their moving from
Afton to Montpelier on their move to Rupert - this on the 29th
and 30th days of December 1919.
Previous to that, the writer remembers well his spending
several days of a couple summers assisting with the derrick team
during haying seasons, as well as one monotonous chore of one
summer spending a few days along walking back and forth thru a
large oat field south of their house pulling up yellow blossomed
mustard plants. It was customary for Uncle Hryum, following
dinner, to take a short nap on the living room floor before going
out for the afternoon. There was nothing for me to do but to
accompany him, but I was at the wrong age. Too old for babyhood
naps and too young for daytime oldster's naps. These have always
remained dear memories.
The young couple - Uncle Hyrum and Aunt Elva - opened their
home to two babies, each in their turn, Alberta and Talmage, the
latter name due to Uncle Hyrum's high respect for one of the
general authorities of the Church at the time, James E. Talmage.
While yet a young man Talmage suggested that he become known as
Uncle Hyrum was not permitted to remain long with his little
family for on the 22nd of January 1921, actually one day less
than six years following their marriage, he passed away, leaving
a heartbroken wife and mother with two small children, Alberta
then just past her fourth birthday and Talmage not much over a
year and a half.
Following Uncle Hyrum's passing, Aunt Elva returned to her
previous employment in Afton, as a telephone operator. Within a
short time, her parents had moved to the Kimberly, Idaho area and
to be near them she secured a position in the Kimberly telephone
office where, for many years at that place and subsequently in
Twin Falls, even to her retirement age, she worked at the
In the mean-time, she met Lee McCrackin and married him in
Twin Falls where, for many years, he served on the city police
force. To this union was born a son, Ronald, who grew to maturity
and married and has a lovely family. Their home is also in Twin
Aunt Elva, as of the year's end of 1982, is at an advanced
age. After living alone for several years following the death of
her second husband, she lived with her son, T.C., and wife, Lily
and family, until it was concluded that a rest home, where better
help could be given, would become her home and it is there that
she presently resides - in Caldwell, Idaho.
T.C. and Alberta Blacker, who with their mother, moved to Kimberly, Idaho 1924-25
Right: Alberta Blacker Buckman, Lily Cook Blacker, T. C. Blacker, Lee McCracken,
Elva Blacker McCracken, Ray Buckman
Alberta grew to maturity under the care of her mother and
later stepfather and she also, worked as a telephone operator.
After marrying Raymond (Buck) L. Buckman, they had three
daughters, Marian, Barbara and Vicki. Buck's work required much
moving about until they arrived in Ontario, Oregon, at the time,
also, the writer's home town, and Mabel and I became close to
Albert. She was an admirable person - quiet with a pleasing
disposition. One had but to know her to love her. It became
necessary for her to obtain a divorce, which left the
responsibility of caring for her family to her.
With the encouragement of her big, but younger brother, she
obtained a teaching certificate by graduating from the Boise
State College. She obtained a teaching position back in Twin
Falls, the home town of her mother. In the mean time, her
daughters matured and the two younger ones married, while Marian,
the eldest, found good employment in nursing.
In 1972, Alberta married William McCauley of Twin Falls, but
continued with her teaching. Her new husband, Bill, was an
employee of a trout farm in the neighboring town of Buhl. His own
car was in the garage requiring service, so on the morning of
10th of April 1973, just eight months after their happy marriage,
and prior to school hours, she took him to Buhl to his work.
While returning at approximately 8 o'clock, she collided head-on
into a 10-wheel potato truck and was killed instantly. Her burial
was in the Twin Falls cemetery.
T.C. grew up with his sister in their mother's home as has
been alluded. His school days were in the Kimberly and Twin Falls
schools. He married Lily Cook and they became the parents of two
girls and two boys. In turn, Eileen, Jim (James) and Kyle C.,
have married and each have a family of four, six and five
children respectively. Youngest daughter, Janis, still maintains
her freedom as of the end of 1982.
Through the years T.C. has become one of southern Idaho's most
successful and influential business men, with presently, large
furniture outlets in Nampa, Idaho and Ontario, Oregon. After
serving as a Mormon bishop in one of the Caldwell, Idaho wards,
he was called as stake president of the Caldwell stake. From this
position he was released approximately a year ago after a term of
approximately ten years.
From somewhere, surely Uncle Hyrum has been permitted to look
down on his small but accomplished family and say to himself,
"They are mine". His grandchildren, both Alberta's and T.C.'s
children, are proving that their generation are "people of
quality", as were the generation ahead of them, and the
generation before that.
Again we return to the first Star valley Blacker home where,
at the time of Uncle Hyrum's marriage, the remaining children
with Grandma Blacker, were Fannie and Kem.
Aunt Fannie had reached an advisable age for any girl to have
prepared herself well by first getting her feet squarely on the
ground, and to have gained the foresight to determine whether her
intended husband had his head on straight. As their children and
the rest of us, from our present vantage point at the close of
1982 can all wholeheartedly confirm, this has become a proven
fact after now they have both become deceased and, in time, some
sixty five years since their marriage we can challenge, "By their
fruits ye shall know them".
Fanny Blacker's and Earl Cazier's courtship was fraught with a
concern which none of the others of the family had encountered.
World War I had broken out caused by a distasteful incident in
Austria. Western Europe was engulfed in deadly warfare and things
looked bad here in the U.S. despite the fact that we had a
president who had promised that Americans would never have to
Such proved not to be the case, but due to underhanded
intrigue on the part of the Kaiser of Germany, who encouraged the
revolutionary movement in Mexico. We already referred to this
movement, headed by 'Pancho" Villa, purposely to direct Woodrow
Wilson's attention from the European theatre of war, with the
sole intent on continuing U.S. neutrality on that front. The 1914
affair with Mexico petered out, but at one time - 1914 -
four-fifths of the U.S. Army was directed toward the Mexican
situation, which very much pleased the perpetrators of the German
thrust to conquer the world. As has been recognized, two if not
more of the Blacker family were touched.
With the climax of the skirmish with Mexico reaching its peak
and becoming settled, the next several months saw the German
efforts destroying the trans-Atlantic cables which, quite
directly, affected the United States. Coupled with this threat,
the commencement of unrestricted submarine warfare in the
Atlantic again stepped heavily on U.S. toes. During these
intervening months, which actually ran into more than a year or
two, U.S. national sympathy bent very much in favor of western
Europe, which was being attacked so viciously by German
Democracy was seen to be threatened and this subject became a
discussion subject by many Americans. Victory on the part of
Germany could be seen as a possibility, and it became a national
concern when our president, Woodrow Wilson, personally sensed the
situation. After feeling the pulse of the citizenry of the
country, he gradually changed his concept of what he previously
had felt and what he could see it might lead to.
With such an impetus, the president could see the that it
would be necessary for the U.S. to offer the western European
countries more than verbal aid. So the motto, "Make the world
safe for democracy", became a moving influence in the minds and
hearts of Americans.
Diplomatic relations with Germany had been severed. With over
a half million tons of shipping going to the bottom of the
Atlantic every month because of German submarines, great concern
was aroused. Much of this loss consisted of war supplies badly
needed by the allied countries and, particularly, by France and
England. The begging for help by the already toppling nations of
western Europe, convinced the U.S. government to do something,
but their real cry was for manpower.
"Never mind the guns, never mind the transport - we'll provide
them. Only bring your young soldiers over to fill our thin ranks.
The fate of France and of the war is at stake", was the message
Seemingly, the need for the good of democracy here at home as
well as elsewhere in the world, was sensed by the people of the
United States as well as the president, so when President Wilson
appeared before Congress and told that body of senators and
representatives that the success Germany had already achieved
was, in fact, nothing less than war against the U.S. government.
He said, "It is a fearful thing to lead this great, peaceful
people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all
wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. The day
has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her
might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and
the peace which she has treasured. God help her. She can do no
Following the President's remarks, the vote to support his
declaration of war was 82 to 6 in the Senate; 373 to 50 in the
House - not unanimous, but convincing. The date was April 2,
It is not the intent of this family history to further pursue
the account of World War I, excepting to mention that among more
than two million troops which the U.S. sent to France and other
embarkment places, was the newly
adopted-to-the-Blacker-family-bridegroom of the 28th of June
1917, Earl Cazier.
There had to have been concern on the part of the families
involved in this marriage, and particularly, deep concern on the
part of Uncle Earl and Aunt Fannie. In this case, as we are all
well aware, after his service with Uncle Sam, Uncle Earl did
return. Such was not the case in at least one of their to-be
sons-in-law, Doyle Draney, who was called to offer the supreme
sacrifice in the Pacific theatre of World War II in 1945 while in
Okinawa, another great war to 'Make the world safe for
Uncle Earl and Aunt Fannie were married at Kemmerer, Wyoming
as stated above, on the 28th of June 1917. Perhaps the fact that
Kemmerer is the county seat for Star Valley where a marriage
license could be obtained, but also, the fact that Aunt Fannie's
sister and husband were, at the time, living at Kemmerer,
undoubtedly affected the decision to be married at that
While Uncle Earl was in France with his military assignment, a
pair of twin girls arrived to Aunt Fannie at Grandma Blacker's
home, where she had arranged to stay until Uncle Earl's return.
Whether the little girls, Dona and Dora, were officially named
before Uncle Earl participated in the selection, which would have
been by slow boat and train mail, we don't know.
Their arrival brought to aunt Fannie a great responsibility.
While they were perfectly normal in every other way, their feet
were somewhat twisted, which required early correction by
particularly, braces. These naturally, caused discomfort and,
undoubtedly, varying degrees of pain and, for weeks - perhaps
months - the little girls required a lot of personal care.
This writer remembers the reports of the long nights Aunt
Fannie spent in their care during which she could get little
rest. She became exhausted, and otherwise run down to the point
that it became essential that family members, neighbors and
friends saw fit to relieve her, particularly at night, so she
could get some rest.
In the meantime, the war was going on and there was great
concern for Uncle Earl, for he was very much in regions of heavy
conflict. The writer's memory serves him well of the anxiety all
America felt about the welfare of "the boys over there". Personal
and private conversation, plus a then very popular song referred
to the "dough boys", as the soldiers of that war were termed.
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918,
came the long-looked for moment. Peace came to war-torn Europe
and the war-affected world. On that day, President Wilson said,
"Everything for which America fought has been accomplished". What
hopeful thinking! As we are all aware that intent did not prove
to be a reality, for within two decades, the next generation
fought an even more devastating war to pursue the same purpose. A
lesson has come clear to all of us that war will not end war, it
never has, nor itever will.
Just how soon following the armistice Uncle Earl returned home
to his beloved wife and his daughters, whom he had never seen,
this writer does not now recall, but that he did return we need
no further confirmation.
Farming, dairying, sheep and cattle raising became their
pursuit after eventually establishing a home of their own, and to
them came, in addition to the twins, Dona and Dora, six
additional children consisting of Ireta, Paul B., Marveline,
Quinn B., Lue Dean and Billie Renee.
By the end of 1982, Uncle Earl and Aunt Fannie can boast of
four grandchildren and seventeen great-grandchildren thru
daughter, Dona; four grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and
four great-great grandchildren thru daughter, Dora; six
grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren thru daughter,Ireta;
four grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren thru son, Paul B.;
five grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren thru daughter,
Marveline; six grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren thru son,
Quinn B., two grandchildren thru daughter, Lue Dene; and six
grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren thru daughter, Billie.
This reveals above and beyond their six children, a total of 37
grandchildren and 94 great-grandchildren for a grand total of 135
direct descendants. These numbers, naturally, do not include the
sons-in-law and daughters-in-law. What a marvelous family!
Front: Dora, Uncle Earl, Aunt Fannie, Dona, Back: Paul B., Billie Renee, Marveline, LuDene, Ireta, Quinn
This family has been and remains outstanding in
"family-togetherness". To describe Uncle Earl, he would have to
be described as very quiet and unassuming. Not unassuming in the
sense of not assuming responsibility to his family and community,
but unassuming so far as forwardness toward any limelight. He was
always exceptionally reserved.
His companion was different. Vivacious, but not to the
extreme. She loved life and was exacting. She exemplified and
loved action. She was a doer and was not content until she had
others doers with her. No drone could be comfortable with her.
She loved adventure and nothing pleased her more than to be
seated in the front row at a sports event whether it be boxing,
basketball, baseball or a footrace. It could hardly be farfetched
to say that it is very possible that sports fans would have been
happy to purchase a ticket to the game, not necessarily to their
interest in the game nor even its outcome, but to witness and
hear the excitement of one, Fannie Cazier. She, with sports, was
much like Aunt Polly Blacker with comedy in a show house or with
a group of friends. And so it was such a pleasure to be in the
presence of Aunt Fannie when there was reason for excitement.
Regardless of the winning or the losing, one could be assured of
comments from Aunt Fannie. A ticket-selling impetus was surely,
"Fannie Cazier will be there" and when she was, no one could say
they didn't get their money's worth. This writer wonders whether
they even produce Aunt Pollys or Aunt Fannies any more. They were
respectively, one of a kind.
As to loyalty to the Church, Uncle Earl's and Aunt Fannie's
family have been and are, the epitome of well-grounded
faithfulness. Their goal has been "stay close to the Church for
safety". After all, there is no greater protection a family can
have if the goal is exaltation. No other heritage can be left to
a set of parent's posterity than this one principle whichUncle
Earl and Aunt Fannie left, and it hasn't been in a pretentious
Uncle Earl served a short-term - 6 months - mission to Iowa,
and served as a branch president. Their son Paul served two years
and eleven of their grandchildren and nine of their
grandchildren's spouses have served and, now, reaching into their
great-grandchildren, two have served for a family total of 44 1/2
years in the mission field. Uncle Earl and Aunt Fannie, as a
stake missionary couple, served two years each. As one looks at
their posterity, one can see that family missionary service is
just beginning to bud.
Eldest daughter, Dona, married Vincent Tolman on the 8th of
June 1939 and they became the parents of two girls and two boys,
and have inherited seventeen grandchildren. Other than servicing
as a telephone operator at the Afton exchange, Dona has had
considerable clerking experience in local businesses, however her
mother and household activities have been her joy. She has had
many years experience as a teacher in Church auxiliary
organizations and in the ward Relief Society presidency.
Cazier twins Dora and Dona
Cousins, from left: Ireta, Dona or Dora, Loyn Blacker, Dora or Dona, Marvaline. The girls all Cazier, 1930.
Dora, twin sister to Dona - identical twins - and what a
problem to relatives, friends and teachers. As an example, when
they were in high school they were selected to take the part of a
character in the play, Huckleberry Finn. Dona took the part in
the first and third act and Dora, the same character, but in the
second act. The average viewer never knew but that it was all
done by the same member of the cast. Even to this day, this
writer, when meeting them after normal long absences, always,
when approaching either of them each, 'Dona or Dora', how are
you? Dora married Yates Perry on the 17th of Sep 1937. Dora and
Yates have three sons and a daughter, ten grandchildren and six
great grandchildren, with one deceased.
Dora is to retire in October of 1983, after having worked for
the Lower Valley Power and Light company for 25 years. Both the
twins graduated from the Star Valley High School. Dora has had
many years experience with the auxiliary organizations of the
Church and particularly likes teaching positions.
Next daughter in line, Ireta: She grew up assisting
particularly with outdoor chores which included milking cows and
helping at lambing time, particularly when her father was away
from home shearing sheep. Ireta graduated from the local high
school and on the 8th of June 1939, she and Neal Kennington were
married. This wedding in the Salt Lake Temple was of particular
interest due to the fact that her twin sisters and husbands had
their marriages sealed at the same time in the same temple. Ireta
and Neil have six children and presently have fifteen
grandchildren. Ireta, like her two older sisters, has been active
in several of the Church auxiliary organizations, including on
the M.I.A. and Sunday School stake boards. Her husband, Neal, has
been occupied with such church positions as a bishop, member of a
bishopric, as a high councilman and counselor in the stake
presidency. He is the stake genealogy coordinator, while Ireta is
serving as a stake genealogy librarian and serving as an
extractor in the Church extraction program.
Comes the first son of the Cazier family: Paul grew up on the
farm, and naturally, contributed by assisting with all types of
farm work, winters and summers. He graduated from the Star Valley
High School and Seminary, as did his sisters before him. He
served a mission in California and attended a barber school,which
occupation he followed. He married Lois Call on the 30th of
January 1947, and they have four children and thirteen
Like his parents and sisters and later brother, Paul has been
active in the Church all his life, which included, while yet in
Star Valley, stake M.I.A. and stake clerk. After moving to Salt
Lake, he served as 2nd and 1st counselor - separately - to the
Whittier Ward bishop and eventually became bishop of that ward.
Subsequently he has served as a stake high councilman and a
counselor in the stake Sunday School. His latest assignment has
taken him back as a counselor in the bishopric. They still reside
in Salt Lake City.
Another girl for the Earl Caziers, this time Marveline.
Marveline is most enthusiastic in her appreciation for her good
parents and the good home-life she had with her brothers and
sisters. She likewise, graduated from the local high school and
reports that, during the years, she has served in every auxiliary
organization of the Church and favors her assignments in the
M.I.A. (Mutual Improvement Association).
Marveline happened to have been born during the years which
perhaps, became affected by World War II more than any other age
group. She married Doyle F. Draney on 21st of September 1942. To
them was born son, Eugene. The writer does not presently have the
full story, but Doyle was required to become a part of Uncle
Sam's military and was given assignments with the Pacific theatre
of war. It was while the U.S. forces were attacking the island of
Okinawa, only 325 miles from Japan, in order to gain an
additional strategic foothold on their drive toward Japan, that
the Japanese forces spent its full fury in the island's defense.
The U.S. forces were not to be denied, despite the fact that the
enemy's forces took a toll of some 5,000 American sailors and 130
ships. This was on the 9th of April of 1945, and Doyle was one of
The war was nearer an end than Doyle or anyone else of his
comrades had realized. The Americans did succeed in taking
Okinawa, despite the cost, and continued preparations for a great
final invasion of Japan itself, which never took place.
Approximately four months later, two atomic bombs were dropped in
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which brought the Japanese warlords to
surrender before General MacArthur on September 2, 1945.
And we continue to ask, "Why wars?" Whether in this life or
not, the time will come when their uselessness will be agreed to.
This family loss became real to the Cazier family, and
particularly, to Marveline and her young son. Time helps to heal
and after another nearly three years another good, young man came
into Marveline's life. On the 31st of January 1946, they were
married and to them have come four children, three boys and a
girl. Their home, like all the other children of Uncle Earl and
Aunt Fannie excepting Paul and Lois, is in Star Valley.
Next in order of age in the Cazier family is Quinn. He, like
the other children, grew up on the family farm and completed his
school work by graduating from the Star Valley high school and
the seminary program. His favorite and, at which he was good, was
Quinn married Elayne Turner on the 15 September 1945, and to
them have come three boys and three girls, all now married with
children of their own, making a total of fifteen
Quinn, for their livelihood, has farmed, is serving as
president of the valley's creamery board and has worked with the
Social Security office. In the Church, he has served a stake
mission, was a counselor to the Elder's quorum presidency, served
as a ward clerk, and was very active in the church auxiliaries as
president of the M.I.A. and Sunday School. He served as scout
worker in the stake, was 1st counselor in the Afton 3rd Ward
bishopric and as a high priest group advisor.
Another daughter, Lue Dene who shared in growing-up
responsibilities in the home and on the farm excepting she was
'denied' - probably by circumstances - the privilege of learning
to milk cows. Lue Dene also graduated from the local high school
Lue Dene married Ruel Jenkins on Christmas Day, 25 Dec 1947,
and to them have been born son Lynn who is to graduate from
medical school 22 May 1983, and daughter Joy who is a sophomore
in the Star Valley high school. As with the others of the family,
Lue Dene has served in all the church auxiliaries and as a 2nd
counselor in M.I.A. and had the responsibilities of Speech and
Drama. Her husband, Ruel, has been a worker in scouting, a
counselor in his Elder's Quorum and has been president in the
Ruel is a war veteran, having served his country, has farmed
and seen a lot of service station service. For many years Lue
Dene has been employed at Aerotek, where she is still working.
Aerotek is in the business of making airplanes.
The youngest of the family is daughter, Billie. It seems each
daughter in turn of this family participated in doing farm chores
as well as regular house work as they were growing up. "I had a
very enjoyable home life. Mother and Dad were wonderful parents".
The gist of these words were repeated by several of these
children of this family. What a tribute to a parent!
Billie was interested in F.H.A. and served as president of the
chapter. She also graduated from the Star Valley high school and
seminary. Seemingly, each of the children of this family
graduated from seminary, which certainly played a great part in
the fact that each of them have been active in church work to
this point in their adult lives. Billie has listed, "I have been
a Sunday School teacher, Primary teacher, 1st counselor in
Primary, MIA Maid-Laurel teacher, Mother's Education Leader, 2nd
counselor in Relief Society and president of Relief Society".
Unquestionably, prior to the previously listed church
activities, Billie and LaRoyce Nield were married on the 1st of
November 1950, and to them have been born six children, their
eldest having passed away when nine years of age. Billie and
LaRoyce have 6 grandchildren. LaRoyce has had considerable
experience with the church auxiliaries, having been a teacher and
in the presidency of the Sunday School and the M.I.A. He has
served in the Elder's Quorum presidency and served as a Deacon's
Billie reports, "We have lived in Star Valley milking cows and
farming excepting for nine months when we lived in Murray, Utah,
where Royce worked as a plumber.
And so we leave a successful set of parents, Uncle Earl and
Aunt Fannie and now return to the Blacker family nest now
presided over by Grandma Althera Blacker. Following Aunt Fannie's
leaving home due to their marriage, there remained Uncle Kem, the
youngest of the eleven children. We must not overlook the fact
that Ivy, the young lady who came to make her home with the
Blackers was still very much a part of the family at the time
Aunt Fannie left - she probably sixteen or thereabouts. Too,
let's not overlook the fact that Uncle Hyrum and Aunt Elva are
living separately from Grandma. They are in the "new house", as
we were all prone to call it, for it was not over four years
since it had been built, and even less than that since it was
completed. Uncle Hyrum was directing the affairs of the farm.
Uncle Kem, by this time, had undoubtedly completed high school
for he was now 20 years of age. Uncle Kem had never been a
robust, rowdy type boy during his growing up years, in fact, he
like his brother Hyrum, had health problems. He was restricted in
what he could do on the farm, and by his very nature was not
inclined to be a "tiller of the soil" nor a laborer with animals.
He wanted none of it, but with that lack of interest it did not
mean that he had no other ability nor inclination. He had early
accepted his health problem and early saw the need for an
education, and this became his goal. The physical condition of
his body was such that if he had a future - which he did - it had
to be in another field than farming.
He loved the Church and he loved people and he loved teaching.
How early he started university work this writer does not recall.
We are aware that he received a mission call in 1919, and that he
was 21 years of age at that time. It is entirely possible that he
had at least a year of university work prior to his mission to
Los Angeles, California.
With his two year mission completed, he returned to the
University of Utah to pursue his education early in 1921, if not
even as early as the fall quarter of 1920. Whether he had become
acquainted with what proved to become his life's work, the Church
seminary program, before he left for his mission or whether he
became aware of it while on his mission we have no way of
knowing. The program was relatively new by the commencement of
the 1920s. At the time of the commencement of the seminary
program in the school year of 1912-13, it was a revolutionary
concept of education. Even in wholly Mormon communities, there
were school patrons who felt religious teaching should not be
given in connection with regular public high school work, even
though the promoters of the program suggested a period of, what
they called, released time, and that the seminary teacher and the
housing facilities be separate and apart from the public school
By the early 1920s, progress had been made, particularly in
solid Mormon communities. The prospect of becoming a seminary
teacher appealed to Uncle Kem and it was to this end he directed
his university work.
While serving in the California mission, he met a young lady
missionary from Salt Lake City, Marie Desmond Hill, a daughter of
a retired or near retiring sheepman, Nephi Hill, formerly of the
Big Piney, Wyoming area. They had moved to Salt Lake City for his
daughters to be close to a university.
Within months of the return from their missions, these two
young University of Utah students, Kemuel Blacker and Marie Hill,
were married in the Salt Lake Temple on the 30th of June 1921,
and continued with their university work. Upon graduating in
possibly 1923, his career as a seminary teacher commenced by his
accepting Monroe, Utah, a little town in south-central Utah as
his first school. If memory serves correctly, Aunt Marie taught
school during these same years. She was an accomplished person
with talents which set her apart from the average. She was superb
at the piano, with which she often accompanied her singing Her
talents would bring to a standstill all other activities in her
home. Aunt Marie was one of the finest persons one would ever
meet. She certainly was far from being forward. Her quietness and
dignity of demeanor had to be recognized, and yet she never
placed herself on a pedestal of any description. It was easy for
her to make herself one of the family, and respect for her was
not hard to come by. The better acquainted, the deeper the
With a semblance of regard for sequence of time in this family
history, let us permit Uncle Kem and Aunt Marie to continue with
their teaching in Monroe, while we return to the Blacker home in
On the 3rd day of January 1924, Grandma Althera Blacker
commemorated her seventy-second birthday, but she was not well,
in fact, had not been in the best of health for the past several
months. For nearly fourteen years, she had lived as a widow. Her
mother had passed away twenty-two years before, and she, Althera,
had made the long, hard trip of approximately 125 miles by buggy
to their old home in Almy. There she had assisted in her mother's
burial, and a stood by the side of her grandmother's grave. Ann
Powell Danks, whom she knew and loved very well, had been at rest
for eleven years. Also nearby, was the spot where she, with
others of her family, had placed the little body of her 2 year
old baby, little Isaac, this in 1886.
Undoubtedly, it was on her return trip, that she took her
daughter, Mary, and her father, Isaac Loveday, back to her
log-house home in which she, with the others of her family, had
been living the last six years. What a dutiful daughter to be
intent on the care of her aged father, who was at the time - 1902
- 81 years of age.
Grandma Althera was well aware of their conditions back in the
little rebuilt, at least, added-on-to log house with not more
than a total of four or five rooms. There are those who then, and
certainly those in our modern day of 1982, who would have said
that she would have been justified in saying, "No, we don't have
room." Grandma Althera was the type of woman who would never have
given thought that her father was not to return with her. She was
one who would have said, and probably did, "He took his turn
caring for me, and it is now my turn to take care of him."
The decision was not hard as to what she should do, but a real
problem existed. She had already endured much. She was small of
stature, probably 5 feet 4 inches, and after eleven children, she
was now 51 years of age. Her husband was 52, and the following
children were now to be in the home, Mary, age 23; Tom, 21;
Maria, 19; William, 16; Merintha, 14; Hyrum, 11; Fannie, 9; and
Kem, the youngest, 5 years of age.
Grandma solved the problem - we don't know how, but this we do
know, that she neglected no one. She was not that type of mother.
It has been suggested earlier in this story, that marriages of
the older children relieved the situation, but it was more than a
year before Mary and Tom became part of a double wedding. It was
two years before Maria was married, and then there was respite in
marriages for a period of six to seven years before Merintha left
In the meantime, and a year and a half prior to Aunt
Merintha's marriage, as it comes to all men, using an old cliche,
Grandpa Loveday, nearing the age of 90, passed away on the 11th
of May 1910. While details of his last illness are not now
recalled, certainly there would have been a longer period of
deterioration than would have been pleasant over the long haul.
Already, some of us older ones are beginning to realize the
difference between youth and 'the golden years' as someone has
drummed up the courage to call our later years. It seems quite
likely there would have been a period of bedfastness for Grandpa
Loveday, but we must also be cognizant of the fact that, even
though he was, almost to the day, 30 years younger, Grandpa
Edward was in such poor health, that he probably was more
impaired in health at 60 than his father-in-law was at 90. The
little log cabin had to be serving as a hospital.
Just six months following the burial of daughter, Mary Blacker
Wilkes, which was on the 28th of October 1909, the body of
Althera's father was taken by buggy and team to the Afton Ward
meeting house for the funeral service of Isaac Loveday.
In little log-cabin-hospital-home, another six months later,
on the 27th day of November 1910, Grandpa Edward completed his
term on earth. Surely, as with the previous passing, they were
not surprised. Grandpa Blacker had become old before his time for
getting old - not 60 for yet another two months. Most likely it
was the same team of horses and buggy making this second trip the
two and three-quarters miles to the same meeting house for
services and thence to Grandpa Edward's final resting place.
To return to the home of grandma Althera, 58; William 24;
Merintha 22; Hyrum 19; Fannie 17 almost and Kem just passed 13
and there had to be sadness to accompany them. It will probably
be remembered that little Harold Gardner, a grandson of Grandpa
Edward and two year old son of Uncle Brig and Aunt Maria passed
away one day following his Grandfather and a duel funeral service
And so, time passed and some of the events which it brought
have already been reviewed in this account. Care will be taken
not to do an overly amount of repeating, but we shall suggest
that Grandma Althera was a part of all that transpired to any of
her children. Please overlook my mentioning again the fact, that
within another three years from the passing of Grandpa Edward,
the family who were remaining, moved into a new house. I mention
it again because it did mean so very much to Grandma. For
approximately 17 years she had been so very patient, under often
trying circumstances, due to her crowded living conditions. This
move brought her a deep sense of pleasure - even joy. I will
mention another account which has already been refered to, but
which cannot go by without comment
A life-time dream of Grandma Blacker came true on the 14th of
June 1916. Althera had been taught from childhood, the glorious
principle of temple marriage. However, due to the fact of her
being raised in an isolated area, and also that she had married a
man who was not a member of the Church, she was not able to
conform to that principle so necessary for eternal happiness.
Even after her husband's conversion to the Church, they lived far
away from a temple, which situation caused them to postpone being
sealed together as a family.
Grandma knew that her family could be eternally hers only by
going to the temple that she might be sealed to her husband and
have her children sealed to their parents, In the ceremony by
which they had been married, it was specifically stated "till
death doth you part." The minister who married them in the St.
David's church, of the parish of Llanwonno, near Mountain Ash,
did not claim to have authority that his marriages would be
binding for the hereafter. The authority for such eternal
marriages was restored when the Prophet Elijah, whom the Bible
promised would return, brought the keys of the sealing power of
the priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland
temple on the 3rd of April 1836. No where else in all the world
are these eternal promises given, other than in the temples of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
ALTHERA BLACKER FAMILY
Picture taken in Salt Lake City in mid-June 1916. Temple family sealings was purpose of the trip.
Uncle George and family were then living in Cumberland, and Aunt Merintha and family in Kemmerer, Wyoming.
Aunt Sarah Ann and family were living in Sugar House near Salt Lake City. All others were living in Afton.
Front row: Merintha, Althera, Fannie. Middle row: Maria, Sarah Ann.
Back row: William, Kemuel, George, Thomas, Hyrum
On the above mentioned date, 14th of June 1916, all members of
the Blacker family who were eligible to enter the Salt Lake
Temple, met together. The ordinance of sealing Grandma Blacker to
her deceased husband was performed over a sacred alter of that
temple. Following this, the children knelt around the same alter,
and by the authority of the restored priesthood, were sealed to
their parents. The blessings of such sealings are predicated upon
proper observance of the laws of the gospel so long as one
And so, providing that each individual who was present remains
worthy, the great blessing of this family unit being bound
together as a family - parents and children - will be assured.
Only those who fail to comply will be denied this forthcoming
blessing and that will be due to personal choice.
Such becomes the crowning principle of the gospel of Jesus
Christ, the most glorious blessing offered to mankind for this
provides an opportunity for mankind - only those in family units
- to progress to become as God is.
The assurance brought to not only Grandma Blacker, but to each
of the children involved, remained with her for the balance of
her life. She lived for another eight years and her family was
good to her. While she, to her dying day, demonstrated her
independence, nevertheless, her children saw that she wanted for
nothing. The last part of her life became somewhat easier for
her. She had experienced many of the vicissitudes of life and her
life was not easy, but she gloried in the goodness of her family.
She experienced periods of concern for a sufficiency for her
family's needs but, overall, these periods came to an end. This
writer remembers well a sage statement by her, as several of the
family were sitting about the room in an hour of visiting. "I
have no desire to be rich. but I hope I will always have enough
to buy what I need." And are any of us any different?
Seventy-two years and twenty-five days passed since she first
saw the light of day on the 3rd of January 1852, in Pontypool,
Monmouthshire when, in her own home, surrounded by most of her
family, she closed her eyes for the last time on the 26th of
January 1924. Perhaps no better can be done at this point than to
copy her obituary as published by the local weekly newspaper in
Afton, "The Star Valley Independent".
"ALTHERA BLACKER IS CALLED BEYOND"
'Passes Peacefully Away Last Saturday After Long Illness'
The many friends of Mrs. Edward Blacker will be grieved to
hear of her death which occurred last Saturday at her ranch home
in Afton. Practically all of her children were at her bedside
when the end came.
Mrs. Blacker has been ill for a long time and while we are all
grieved to hear of her passing, we are comforted by the thought
that she is now past all suffering and laid at rest.
Funeral services were held in the North Ward Chapel
Funeral services of Sister Althera Blacker were held Monday,
January 28 at 1 p.m. in the Afton North Ward Chapel. The services
were presided over by the Afton North Ward Bishopric. The
speakers were Bishop Osborne Low, Bishop Charles Peterson, of
Smoot, President Arthur F. Burton, and her oldest son, George
Blacker. The choir rendered some favorite hymns, sympathetically.
Sister Lois Wilde and Edith Hurd, whom Sister Blacker always
enjoyed hearing, sang "I Come to Thee".
Bishop Low, the first speaker, told of Sister Blacker's
remarkable devotion to her family, especially when they had
sickness in the home, and how she seemed untireing in willingness
and bodily strength to aid those who were in trouble. Bishop
Peterson spoke of her as he knew her with her family in Almy,
Wyoming thirty-nine years ago. How she was always on hand there
in case of trouble. Brother Burton spoke of her desire to live
and work in the Temple and, also how when he was called to
administer to her he felt inspired rather to bless her than to
promise her life. Although it was very hard for George Blacker to
control himself, yet he conquered and paid a loving tribute to
his devoted mother.
Mrs. Blacker was born in Wales on January 3, 1852. She is the
mother of eleven children, eight of whom are living; they are
George Blacker of Cumberland, Wyoming; Sarah Ann Nisbet of
Acequia, Idaho; Thomas Blacker of Rupert, Idaho; Maria Gardner of
Afton, Wyoming; William Blacker of Rupert, Idaho; Merintha
Williams of Salt Lake City; Fannie Cazier of Afton, Wyoming, and
Kemuel Blacker of Salt Lake City. All of her children were
present except one who was ill. She has sixty grandchildren and
is survived by her youngest brother, Kemuel Loveday who was
present at the funeral services.
Grandma Blacker was laid to rest in the Afton cemetery in a
grave at the side of her companion, Grandpa Blacker on the 28th
day of January 1924, two days following her decease.
Again, returning to the account of Uncle Kem and Aunt Marie
where we left them teaching in Monroe, Utah. How long they
remained in Monroe we do not recall, nor is it of such importance
that we need be so exact. We can be assured it wasn't overly
long, perhaps a year, two years or three. We are aware that they
were back in Salt Lake City and were continuing some university
work, possibly toward a Master's degree. As has been written in
Chapter 3 of this work, my father, Thomas and I drove to Salt
Lake City in 1927. After meeting Uncle Kem and Aunt Marie, they
in their Model T coupe and Dad and I in a Model T four-door
touring car, began a trip, driving to Cumberland to visit Dad's
and Kem's brother George and family. We stopped at Evanston to
visit with their cousin, Ted Blacker, having recently arrived
from Abertillery, in Monmouthshire. As I recall, the roads were
all surfaced with gravel excepting near Salt Lake. Mention of
this trip at this point is solely to confirm the fact that Uncle
Kem and Aunt Marie were then living in Salt Lake on 13th East and
not far from the University of Utah.
They were at this same apartment on the 20th of January 1928,
on my entry in the Mission Home on Monday, January 23rd for my
mission to Great Britain. Upon my return on the 3rd of April
1930, Aunt Marie met me at the D. & R.G. depot, and their home
was then on State Street in Murray. By this time, Uncle Kem was
teaching seminary at the Jordon High School. Whether he was
teaching there at the time of my departure two years earlier I do
Uncle Kem and Aunt Marie made a wonderful couple and they were
beautiful together. Uncle Kem was fun-loving. Teasing by him
became a delight to the one being teased, as well as the
lookers-on. It was for fun and he did a lot of it. For many years
they were without children, but their front and back yards were
often full of neighboring children.
His success was early noted in his seminary work. He was a
"born teacher" and was early recognized as such by the Church
Department of Education. The Jordon School District was one of
the larger districts of the state. At the time he taught, the
seminary was being held in a wooden frame building near the high
school and it became my pleasure to be invited by him to spend
Friday morning (the 4th) with him in his classes. One could see
that his students admired and loved him.
It was with much regret to all of us, that Uncle Kem's health
was not good. But he continued on with his seminary teaching.
There can be no question, but that the arrival of a little son on
the 25th of November 1930, was an answer to years of yearning and
many years of prayer. They wanted children but seemingly were to
be deprived of this great blessing. They were people of great
faith, particularly, Aunt Marie, and it seemed as though there
was nothing the Lord would withhold from them because of that
proven faith. Such just had to be in the case of her late- coming
little boy. It was as if the Lord said, "Daughter Marie, because
of your great faith I can no longer withhold this child. You have
waited sufficiently long." They named him, Kay Hill Blacker.
Interestingly, from the time Aunt Marie joined the family, we
became aware that she was not overly fond of her husband's given
name. Each of us have peculiarities and idiosyncrasies peculiar
to ourselves. Without any particular reason they affect us in one
form or another, so Aunt Marie's preference of not fully liking
Uncle Kem's given name, never became a matter of criticism on the
part of the family. She, undoubtedly with Uncle Kem's consent,
used the letter 'K' which, in and of itself, seemed to require
another supportive letter so she added - and again Uncle Kem
accepted - the second "K" so in the later years of his life, he
became known as K.K. Blacker. Could it have been that the sound
of the letter 'K' was of such an affinity with her that it had a
bearing on the name 'Kay' which they gave their firstborn? We
early learned to highly respect Aunt Marie - what a lovely person
Uncle Kem's health deteriorated. Their little boy became a
year and a half old, under the watchful, and so very proud
parents, when Uncle Kem was forced to bed. Too many things were
wrong with him for him to be able to counter them all. Due to his
long-time suffering, he resigned himself to the fact that he
would never recover, but he lingered. It seemed his mission was
nearing an end, but we all had hope, and especially so did Aunt
Marie. She felt it was hardly right for her to give up - she
simply couldn't give up. Her prayers were uttered with faith but
seemingly, despite her hold on her husband, it appeared that the
Lord was needing a super seminary teacher in another place.
Perhaps it would be timely to now turn to another portion of
our taped life story of Uncle Will Blacker. As previously in the
dialogue to follow, the 'L' is for the inquirer, Loyn, and the
comments by 'UW:', Uncle Will. The date of the taped
conversation, 27 July 1965:
UW: I'll have to tell you a sad experience when Kem died (his
brother). He died in Murray, you know, my brother Kem.
L: He died when - 1931? (We were speaking as we were
remembering after more than 30 years and we were both wrong, for
it was in 1932.)
UW: Yes, in 1931. He had always said he was going to get
better, he was going to get better. They had a very great friend
down there, Bishop Miller, who was the bishop of their ward in
Murray. He (Uncle Kem) was sick and I went down and was there
this morning when Brother Miller came in to see how Kem was
getting along. When Brother Miller came in that morning, Kem
said, "Brother Miller, I want you to pray for me to die. I want
you to administer to me and pray for me to die, for", he said, "I
know I am not going to get well." Brother Miller tried to talk
him out of it, but Kem said, "No, I just want you to administer
to me and pray for me to die." Brother Miller didn't want to, but
Kem said, "Brother Miller, if you won't, I'll get somebody else
to." Brother Miller said, "Ok, if you insist, I'll administer to
you and I'll pray for you to die." and he did.
That was in the morning and about noon or right after noon,
Kem called Marie - his wife-to him. He wanted Marie to kneel and
pray for him to die. If there was ever a sad thing, that was it.
To think that he wanted his wife to kneel and pray for him to
die. "Oh", she said, "Kem, I just can't do that!" He said, "I
want you to", so he insisted and Marie finally did. Two or three
hours after that, the boy passed away. (He was 34. L.B.) He said,
"Marie, I know that you are the only one who is keeping me alive.
You give up and pray for me to go." So she did, finally. That was
the sad part.
L: It was surely a big loss to the family when Uncle Kem
passed away. He meant so much to all of us.
UW: Yes, that was the saddest thing I think I ever saw in my
L: But there seemed no chance at all for Uncle Kem to ever get
UW: No, there was no chance and Bishop Miller was so surprised
for Kem had always told him that he thought he was going to get
well until that morning. I guess he got an inkling or something
during the night. Brother Miller would always come in every
morning. He was a wonderful man.
Uncle Kemuel's obituary.
Aunt Marie with Kay the afternoon following Uncle Kem's funeral. June 1932
Uncle Kem's passing occurred on the 10th of June 1932 and he
was buried on the 13th in the Elysian Garden Cemetery near
Uncle Kem was highly regarded by his peers, as was indicated
by the fact that a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles,
Joseph F. Merrill, who was, at that time, Chairman of the Board
of Education for the Church and was the director of the seminary
program of the Church. It would seem appropriate to say, with
little fear of contradiction to the contrary, that no other
member of the Blacker family has had such a distinction, as
having a member of the Quorum of Twelve to be the guest speaker
at a funeral service. Indeed it was, that Uncle Kem was a great
and good man and a master teacher.
Five and one-half months following Uncle Kem's passing there
came another little spirit into Aunt Marie's home to help fill
the vacancy of her father, whom she never had the pleasure of
knowing in mortality.
Aunt Marie was not the kind of woman to have considered the
new arrival to become another hardship. There may have been tears
- many tears - but they were not from fright of the challenges
ahead. Rather, if there were tears, and we know there were, they
would have come from the thought of how much Uncle Kem would have
loved to have been a part of helping her raise his little son
and, now, his newly arrived daughter, whom Aunt Marie chose to
call Ann Marie. The baby's birthday was the 30th of November
Blacker family members following Uncle Kem's funeral. Aunt Marie is between Uncle George and Aunt Polly on left.
The fact that this home became a one-parent home was different
from many one-parent homes because these two little children had
a parent with the capacity to provide a double portion of love.
Aunt Marie's full purpose with her son and daughter was to do all
she could to prepare them for the time when the family unit would
unite with her husband, and the little children's father, in a
place where death would never bring a like experience of
separation as was experienced on the 10th of June 1932. To Aunt
Marie, this was not just a belief in the eternal nature of the
family - it was confirmed knowledge - and knowing Aunt Marie as
we do, we cannot doubt but that from that date to this - the fact
that she has long since left his mortal life, notwithstanding -
she has not yet ceased kneeling and praying that the good Lord
will watch over and influence her two beloved offspring, and even
their children, that when their times are announced that it will
again be her pleasure to share them with her eternal husband in
an even larger family unit from which there will be no further
Kay and Ann became the beneficiaries of a good home life
throughout their growing-up years. Both had married and were well
on their way with their respective families - Ann, first, to Ron
Astle in 1953 and Kay to Joyce Ricks in 1954 - prior to their
mother's decease on the 21 February 1962.
For an overall account of Aunt Marie's life, and to maintain
brevity, the Deseret News obituary will be considered timely:
"MARIE BLACKER, EX-MURRAY TEACHER, DIES
MURRAY - A former Murray educator, Mrs. Marie Desmond Hill
Blacker, 67, 4889 Wasatch St. (250 East), died Wednesday of a
cerebral thrombosis in a Salt Lake hospital.
Funeral services will be conducted Saturday noon in the Murray
First Ward chapel, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint,
180 Vine Street.
Mrs. Blacker, a teacher for more than 30 years taught at
Liberty School in the Murray District from 1928 until her
retirement in 1959. She also taught in the Granite School
District from 1914-1928.
An active member of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers and the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she served a mission
and had been a former member of the Salt Lake Tabernacle
She graduated from the University of Utah in 1918, where she
was active in drama.
Mrs. Blacker was born May 17, 1894 in Big Piney, Wyo., a
daughter of Moroni Nephi and Anna Sanuelson Hill.
She married Kemuel K. Blacker June 19, 1919 in the Salt Lake
Temple. He died June 10, 1932.
Survivors include a son, Dr. Kay Blacker, Mill Valley, Calif.;
a daughter, Mrs. Ronald (Ann Marie) Astle, East Millcreek; seven
grandchildren and a stepmother, Mrs. Edith Hill Cook, Salt Lake
Friends may call at 4760 S. State Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. and
Saturday one hour prior to services. Burial will be in the
Elysian Burial Gardens.
Aunt Marie with son Kay, and daughter Ann in 1953. She passed away 21 Feb, 1962 in Murray,
Utah following many years serving as a school teacher, by which means she provided
for her family. All four members of this family graduated from the University of Utah.
Upon reviewing the above obituary there was immediate concern
about what had been written earlier in this history and the above
given date of marriage. Family records confirm Uncle Kem's and
Aunt Marie's marriage date as the 30th of June 1921, thereby
disagreeing with the above marriage date.
Attempts for personal correspondence with Kay for data for
this history have failed, due to outdated and non-current
addresses. Also absence from home on Kay's part, and knowing he
would not be back home in time to meet our schedule, has dictated
Reliance on his sister Ann's appraisal of Kay's and Joyce's
family's lifestyle will, undoubtedly, prove to be more complete
than were Kay and Joyce to offer their own, for it has been well
said, "A modest man never talks of himself'. This may prove to be
unfair, but thanks, Ann, and we shall quote directly:
Kay got his M.D. in general medicine and then went on to
specialize in psychiatry and then specialized even further and is
one of the select group of analytical psychiatrists. Joyce
already had her degree in elementary education, but the past few
years she went back to college and got her degree in music. She
has also been studying voice and sings beautifully. She directs
her ward choir, as well as directing a choir of another
They have four children. Their oldest, Kem, is married and
working in New York City in economics. Kerry is a junior in
medical school at the University of San Francisco. Rick just got
married last month, and both he and his wife are graduating from
college and going on to law school next year. Roan is attending
UCLA. I forgot to mention that Kay works for the University of
California Medical School at Davis and also does private practice
in his home. He has the opportunity to present his papers
throughout the country at different universities and psychiatric
Thanks Ann, for an all brief, but interesting resume of your
brother's family. Now let's review Ann's family. We continue to
Ron (Ann's husband. L.B.) has been practicing dentistry in
Carmichael, California, for the past 18 years. He served as
bishop of Murray 1st Ward when we lived there and also served as
counselor to the bishop a few years. He is now counselor to the
Stake Young Men's president.
Besides my normal duties as a mother I have been taking some
classes at the college and institute and have been actively
involved in the PTSA at school. As far as church callings, I was
Relief Society stake chorister for a few years; Stake Young Women
Camp Director; Stake Young Women Beehive leader; Stake Young
Women president; ward choir director; and now I am the ward
We have six children, but had a foster Apache Indian son for
four years while he attended high school here and graduated. Our
oldest son, Ken is married and has twin daughters and a son and
is working for Price Waterhouse in San Francisco as a CPA. Our
daughter, Judy, attended BYU majoring in music education for
three years and then got married and has two lovely daughters.
Their family is living in Riverton, Utah.
Clint fulfilled a mission for the Church in Taiwan and is now
attending BYU. His hobby is performing musically. Daughter,
Marie, is a junior at BYU and also majoring in music education.
She is in the acappella choir and had the opportunity to tour
Israel with them last summer. The year before, she was in Young
Ambassadors and toured Russia with them. Son, Alan, is a senior
in high school and is being recruited heavily for a basketball
scholarship to University of Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, Utah
State, Boise State, Idaho State, University of Washington,
University of California at Berkeley, etc. He is an excellent
student and performs in a musical group and plans to go on his
mission after his freshman year in college. We found it
interesting that all these schools are willing to let him go on
his mission. He wouldn't go there if they wouldn't.
Son, David, is a freshman in high school. His main interest is
also basketball. He is 15 years old and already over 6'5". He too
is hoping for a basketball scholarship when he is old enough and
also is a good student and likes music. (A postscript at the end
of Ann's letter tells of their eldest son). Ken also served a
mission in the Denver, Colorado Mission.
Ann, thanks for your summary of your family's activities and
for a vision of what they will become. It goes without saying,
your parents will be pleased.