Life History Of Peter Martin Iverson: By Grandson Elwin Iverson Jones
My grandfather Peter Martin Iverson was far removed from being loquacious. He didn't talk unless he had something important to say. I have ridden with him for miles on horseback without a word being passed between us.
Pter Martin Iverson
Martin, although quiet, had a sense of humor. He liked to joke with people. He had this in common with his father, Hans Peter Iverson. One time when he and James Bundy were working in a mine at or near Bisbee, Arizona, Martin thought they needed a cook. In his mind he formed a clever plan to trick James Bundy's girl friend into coming to Bisbee and being their cook. The plan was to call Miss Chloe Bundy on the telephone and disguise himself as Jim. The plan worked and Chloe quit her job and went to Bisbee on her new adventure.. When she got off the train there was no one to meet her. Some concern crept into her mind. She began walking up and down the streets in search of her lover, but he was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, out of an alley, appeared Martin with a grin on his face. He possibly explained the joke farther and that it was a trick. James, on the other hand, was surprised to see his sweetheart unexpectedly at the mine. Needless to say, Chloe was their cook for some time.
When I was a preschool boy, I recall my grandfather offering me and my brother $.25 if we would kiss the neighbor girl who happened to be in our home. My brother took him up on it.
Grandpa was admired for his love of hard work. He could outdo many men. On one occasion, when he was building a road up a rugged mountain slope, after the eight hour day was over, he busied himself cutting posts for his ranch while the other men dallied around.
He was called a good provider, since he was able to supply his family with the necessities of life. He had one of the nicest homes in Hurricane Valley, Arizona, and one of the most productive farms. He was raised to conserve the gifts of God, never wasting anything. He was taught well by his father, and his motto was, "Waste not, want not." When foreman on a road construction job, he made the decree that no food or water was to be wasted. The last one eating was to lick the skillet, though some of the men deeded this too Danish.
Martin did a good job at whatever he worked. If a thing was worth doing, it was worth doing well. And he was a progressive thinker and interested in current events. I remember his short wave radio on which he listened to the news every day if he could.
Peter Martin Iverson was born to Hans Peter Iverson and Johannah Christensen Iverson on November 10, 1881, at what was called The Duck Farm," which was north and east of the present site of Washington, Utah. He was the oldest (living) child of this couple and thus faced much responsibility at an early age. He attended school at Washington for about seven years (less), before his father moved the family to Littlefield, in 1891. Martin would have been ten at the time. He did not accompany his parents and. sister Doretta and Brother Willard to Littlefield at this time. This move was necessary because of polygamous persecution.
The parents and two children went to Littlefield in 1891. When they arrived. and saw the thickly covered land that had to be cleared of willows and bushes, their hearts were somewhat depressed. Nevertheless, in due time crops took the place of waste and jungles. Satisfaction and joy replaced the once depressed feelings. This was to be short lived, however. It wasn't long until the Virgin River raged at flood time, washing their home, crops and farm land away. Many hours of hard work was demanded to reestablish a productive farm and a second house to live in.
Martin and his brother Willard made snares and traps to catch quail and rabbits, which added variety to their mother's menu.
In March of 1900, when Martin was 19, he left his home on his first job away from home. He was employed on a cattle ranch by Johnny Fernan. The ranch was located in Lincoln County, Nevada. The work consisted of riding fence and wrangling cattle. He was paid $1.00 per day on this job.
Not long after Martin's arrival in Littlefield, he became interested in girls. There was a discouraging shortage of females in Littlefield, which necessitated frequent trips to Bunkerville and Mesquite, Nevada. On such trips Martin would call on a Miss Carolyn Bunker. There may have been other girls in and around Bunkerville, but their names are not known. But there was one in nearby Beaver Dam: The Bundy family had moved there from Nebraska in 1896, and Lillie Belle Bundy was a pretty, dark haired, sparkling eyed damsel. Martin called on her not a few times in the years that followed and took her home on his horse after dances and church meetings. This vas a nice distance to travel while making conversation with a sweet girl.
In 1900, the Bundys moved to Morelos, Mexico, in the State of Sonora. And in 1902, Martin bade his parents good by and went south. He stayed with the Bundy family that summer and fall, and on December 2, 1902, he and Lillie were married by Bishop 0. P. Brown. They were married again on December 22, 1902, in the St. George Temple. They got married in Mexico since they could get cheaper rates on the train when traveling as a married couple.
My grandfather labored all the days of his life in the earth. In his youth he worked for other men on ranches and in mines. He hauled lumber for a while, but most of the time he was farming and raising cattle. In later years he spent time building roads.
Great were his trials in endeavoring to raise a large family, trying to make a living from the dry earth of northern Arizona. It was here, in 1944, that the hot desert sun took his life. He died from a sun stroke in the middle of a cedar tree forest near Grassie Spring some 20 miles from home, though actually he died on Tuesday in St. George Hospital.
Peter Martin was raised in a good Latter Day Saint home by loving parents. They taught him the Gospel as a child, though as time and religion became second fiddle he became engrossed in temporal affairs. I can't remember any time when Grandpa did not go to Church, however. In later years, he became more exact in his religious thinking and began going to the Temple and doing work for the dead.
Martin was blessed by Bishop Robert B. Covington on November 10, 1881 and was baptized by his father on the 10th of January, 1889, confirmed by Bishop Andrew Sproul on the 10th of January, 1889. Shortly after arriving in Mexico he received a Patriarchal Blessing from Alexander Jameson on September 7, 1902.
Martin became a High Priest on the 20th of September, 1930 under the hands of Anthony W. Ivens shortly before his marriage,
On September 20th 1930, he was also set apart as 2nd Counselor to Bishop Roy Bundy at Mt. Trumbull. He held this position for nine years and seven months. On the 23rd of June, 1940, he was set apart as 1st Counselor to Bishop Chester Bundy, by George E. Richards, which position he held until his death August 1, 1944.
Grandfather was five feet, ten and one half inches in height, and he weighted 165 lb. His firm lips added a distinguished look to his countenance. He had blue eyes and blond hair.
Martin served as Justice of the Peace for a term in the 1930's. He dealt with cattle rustling and other minor violations. I believe he was also Sheriff for a term. He was put in charge of building a community pond for the Church, but this project never reached completion. He helped build the Church schoolhouse at Mt. Trumbull. He was interested in politics and was up to date on Arizona law.
Martin wasn't what would be called a great singer or poet, but he did possess the ability to carry a tune and to make up a poem or two. He sang songs to me when we were riding along, and sang this to his mules.
"Whoa, Mule, whoa, can't you hear me holler
Do I have to tie a knot in your tail
So you can't go through the collar?"
The "Preacher and the Bear," was another song he often sang, and he wrote a song about his boss, Johnny Kernan. This is only a small part of it as it was told to me.
"A little red bull came down the hill a long time ago.
It was butchered by Kernan and fed to the railroad men
At least a hundred or so.."
That was written at the time the railroad was being built to Las Vegas from the north.
Martin's and Lillie's children numbered nine, Vernon Martin being born at Bunkerville, Nevada, Vearl at Littlefield, Arizona, Floyd at Bisbee, Arizona, Letha at Morelos, Mexico, Eva at Douglas, Arizona, George at Moapa, Nevada, Lawrence at Moapa, Bethel at Mt. Trumbull, Arizona, and Rosaliea at St. George, Utah.
His passing took place under the following circumstances. It was late July of 1944. Some good rains had put water in the ponds at Bundyville, so now it was possible for Grandpa to bring his cattle from Grassy Springs back to the ranch where the feed was more plentiful. All of his children had left home, George being in the marines, so he asked me to help him though I was only 12 years old. He needed help to trail the stock on that 25 miles of dry dusty trail. I was thrilled at the thought, as I had played cowboy for years.
My saddle stirrups were too long, and my borrowed hat was too big, but my spirits were exhilarated as we jogged away from the ranch leading a pack animal which carried our bed and food. After several days of gathering cattle, we started the slow drive home. We suffered hunger and thirst the first day out, and the second day I suffered them alone.
Grandpa and I had become separated as darkness cooled the baked earth. I slept on my saddle blankets that night, waiting for him to catch up. But he never came. The next morning I retraced my steps to where I had last seen him. But he wasn't there and I couldn't find him anywhere. I was worried about him, and yet, thinking he could take care of himself, I decided to tend the cows until he overtook me. I was sure he had gone in search of the packhorse which had been running loose behind us.
I stayed with the cattle all that day, and at night I rode up to the ranch house alone. I didn't have the cattle or Grandpa. At this point, I was mostly concerned about my stomach. I hadn't eaten for a day and a half. I told my story to Grandma how the cows had got mixed up with another herd and that Grandpa was back on the trail someplace.
The next day was Sunday, and as Church adjourned, my Uncle Levi Iverson and Bishop Chester Bundy wanted to hear my story. I told them. They became worried and Monday morning Levi, and Melvin Whipple went in search of Grandpa. They found him in a terrible way. He was lying face to the sun in an awful grotesque position over the bedroll. He was near death, having had a sunstroke and must have spent all day Sunday and half of Monday in this awful condition. He was rushed to St. George to the doctor that same day, but by 2:30 PM the next day, Tuesday, he gave up his spirit.
I arrived in St. George a few hours after his death. The guilt of neglect and sorrow came over me in waves of depression.
Grandpa Peter Martin Iverson was a good man.. He had his faults, as we all do, but he was a good man. He died August 1, 1944, in St. George, Utah. He was buried at Mt. Trumbull, Arizona a few days later. His son George, whose cattle and ranch property Martin had been taking care of, died a few months later on Iwo Jima.