Smithfield Oral History Project, 1956-1991  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Cantwell, Lawrence S.
Smithfield Oral History Project
1956-1991 (inclusive)
2 boxes, (1 linear foot)
Collection Number
The Smithfield Oral History Project contains 37 interviews with residents of Smithfield, Utah. The majority of interviews were conducted by Lawrence Cantwell. William "Robert" Thornley had the items digitized, transcribed, and printed by the Clark and Gladys Thornley Foundation. Transcriptions made possible by a generous grant from the Utah Humanities Council/ Utah State History.
Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives Division
Special Collections & Archives
Merrill-Cazier Library
Utah State University
Logan, UT
Telephone: 435-797-8248
Fax: 435-797-2880
Access Restrictions

No restrictions on use, except: not available through interlibrary loan.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Lawrence Cantwell is a resident of Smithfield Utah. In the 1970s and 80s (and 1991), Mr. Cantwell undertook this project on behalf of the Smithfield Historical Heritage Society to document local citizens. These interviews were done on cassette tape and stored for a number of years in the Smithfield City offices.

William "Robert" Thornley, director of the Clark and Gladys Thornley Foundation, early settlers of Smithfield, Utah, worked to get the interviews transcribed with funds from the Thornley Foundation and a grant from the Utah Humanities Council / Utah State History.

The interviews in the Smithfield Oral History Project, conducted by Lawrence Cantwell, focus on the early history of Smithfield. Many of his participants clearly remember World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II. Most of these interviews characterize life in Smithfield and surrounding towns in the early 1900s. This collection provides a description of small town farm life during the Progressive Era.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Each item in this collection is bound and contains a typed interview transcription, a page containing credits for those who helped compile the interviews and transcriptions, a brief summary of each interview, a digital recording (CD) of the interview (.wav file), and a digital copy (CD) of the transcript (.wps file).

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the Smithfield Oral History Project must be obtained from the Curator of the Fife Folklore Archives and/or the Special Collections Department Head.

Preferred Citation

Smithfield Oral History Project, 1956-1991. (FOLK COLL 48). Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives Department.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Allsop - NielsonReturn to Top

Container(s): Box 1

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
Allsop, Earl and Bessie Plowman - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Earl and Bessie talk about their families and the hardships of crossing the plains. They speak of Smithfield, school, and friends. Bessie talks about her aunt, a seamstress, and her uncle, a doctor. Bessie tells of her father and his LDS mission to Norway during the flu epidemic of 1918-1919. They mention the Lion's Club, family histories, and Danish genealogy.
1983 January 21
1 2
Cantwell, Lawrence - Interviewed by Milt Abrams
Lawrence mentions a variety of subjects related to Smithfield's history. He lists the prominent families of Smithfield and also the LDS and Presbyterian Church. He discusses city and street planning. He also talks about Indian affairs, the tithing office, the cooperative system in 1862, and several homes. He mentions the construction of the Utah Idaho Central and the Oregon Short Line Railroads. Lawrence reads poetry written by his great grandfather James Sherlock Cantwell. Lawrence talks about commerce, Co-op stores in Northern Utah, and competing businesses.
1978 December
1 3
Chambers, Leone Cantwell - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Leone reminisces about the people and neighborhoods of Smithfield; she talks about grandparents and early friends. She briefly talks about her time working in the Logan LDS Temple. She recalls playing the piano for silent movies. She tells of her charitable parents and the accomplishments of her children.
1980 April 21
1 4
Gittins, Marlin - Recording by Lawrence Cantwell
Marlin is the Lion's Club Spokesman and in this recording recognizes Lawrence Cantwell as "Man of the Year" for 1978.
1 5
Griffiths, Levida Pilkington - Reading by Lawrence Cantwell
Lawrence Cantwell reads from a diary and other papers written by Levida Pilkington Griffths. He thinks they were written in 1917. Levida documents when she was young, moving to a new home, and taking care of her younger sister, Eva. She recalls Eva's birth and of a wind and hail storm. She tells of her brother, Ed, and cousin, Leland. She writes of her bout with diphtheria.
1 6
Griffiths, William Harry and Dorothy - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
William speaks about being a police officer in Smithfield. He talks about many family members. He tells of his LDS mission to England. He left England in 1914 and tells what he saw of World War I. He recalls a strike in Salt Lake. He describes his sheep dog. They recall the first movies, and Dorothy mentions building the ice plant.
1977 May 16
1 7
Gyllenskog, George Oscar and Katherine Jensen - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
George, referred to in the interview as Oscar, tells of life on a farm. Oscar's first job was driving cows at age six. Katherine (misspelled in the transcript) tells of her life and education.
1977 May 9
1 8
Hansen, Julius Ed - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Julius, referred to in the interview as Ed, speaks of his father's experience crossing the plains. Ed talks about bands and orchestras. Ed and his wife, Eda Christoffersen, (whose name is never mentioned) talk about their LDS mission and their children. Ed also recalls basball experiences.
1978 December
1 9
Hill, Curtis and Ethel - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
James Curtis Hill, referred to in the interview as Curt, talks about his father and Star Valley. He tells about Smithfield's first doctor and his painless tooth extraction. Curt speaks of his occupation as a plumber. Ethel and Curtis talk about making quilts, furniture, and the things they collect.
1978 April 21
1 10
Hillyard, Royal and Rachel Tueller - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Royal, reffered to in the interview as Roy, speaks about friends and schooling in Smithfield. He recalls how his uncle was killed by farm equipment. He talks about the economics of 1924, the year he got married. He talks about the difficulties of getting old, town doctors, and fishing trips. He relates the story of Henry Hudson faking a gun shot with ketchup. He also talks about the proposed town sewer.
1986 March 21
1 11
Jardine, LaRue and Alice Merrill - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
LaRue tells of his family and schooling. He talks about work during the Great Depression and working for Del Monte cannery. He tells of his Model A Ford and other cars and travels. He speaks of three times that he almost died and his belief in divine intervention.
1985 July 14
1 12
Jones, Ethel - Interviewed by Janet Bradshaw
Ethel talks about the Great Depression, her and her husband's first car, a Tin Lizzie, and World War I. She talks about World War II and her son being the first casualty from Wellsville. She speaks about the first church building in Wellsville and the first LDS bishop of Cache Valley. She describes the first settlers of Cache Valley in 1856 and the first winter. She recalls winter hog kills and curing meat. She talks about schools in Wellsville and Cache Valley.
1 13
Larsen, Lula Rigby - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Lula tells of her trip to Europe with her cousin in 1925. She recalls places she visited and people she stayed with. Following this is a recording of an unknown girl reading from an unidentified source. This reading tells of the death of Will on the railroad and Ora in a threshing accident. General accounts of Thanksgiving and Christmas are given. There is also an account of an area wide Sunday School Jubilee.
1 14
Larsen, Vernon - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Vernon talks about his schooling and career as an irrigation engineer. He tells about his family and experiences in Kanab, Salt Lake, Cache Valley, and Manti. Vernon briefly mentions gardening, polygamy, and a new IBM typing machine.
1 15
Merrill, Osmond "Oz", and Elthura "Tory" Raymond Merrill Gossner - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Referred to by the interviewer as Oz and Tory, the two speak of their early childhood years, schooling and hobbies. They recall plays and operas performed by the LDS church wards. Oz tells of his interview with LeGrand Richards. They speak of their children and life together.
1978 March 30
1 16
Miller, Lonell and Genell - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Lonell and Genell talk about early schooling and friends. They speak of their families and church callings. Lonell talks about his LDS mission to New Zealand.
1981 April 15
1 17
Monson, Harley and Leah - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Harley and Leah talk about childhood experiences. Harley recalls his LDS mission to Germany and Switzerland. Leah recalls dancing and dating. They talk of church activities and when Harley served as an LDS bishop. They recall their trip to Europe and meeting people Harley served on his mission.
1 18
Nielson, Enos and Wanda - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Wanda recalls school friends and teachers. Enos recalls living in Emery County and talks about his family. Enos talks about his service in World War II. They talk about their trip to Mexico and Wanda reads some of her poetry.
1977 May 16

Oliverson - WoodruffReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 1
Oliverson, Glen and Francine - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Glen talks about growing up and schooling in Smithfield. He recalls his World War II experiences in the Pacific. He also talks about his football career at BYU and his coaching career at Preston and Sky View. Francine speaks of friends, her interest in piano, and her church callings.
1981 April 30
2 2
Olney, Lorin and Mona - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Lorin and Mona each talk about their early childhood and friends. Lorin and Lawrence speak briefly about dances. Mona and Lorin talk about their children and grandchildren. Lorin talks about his son Wallace and his career as a mortician. They also speak about their gold wedding anniversary in Hawaii.
1978 March
2 3
Pitcher, Ellen "Nellie" - Interviewed by Theoda Downs
Ellen, referred to by the interviewer as Nellie, tells of her life in Smithfield. She lived in Smithfield for eighty-eight years. She talks of schooling, family and friends. She recalls farm life: churning butter, drying fruit, and curring pork. She talks about her wedding day and the journey to Logan with a horse and buggy.
1974 July 16
2 4
Rasmussen, Alfred George and Emma Mildred Hope - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Using family photos (not available) Mildred and Alfred, referred to by interviewer as Alf, talk about their early childhood and schooling. They talk about how they met and their children. Lawrence reads a letter from the War Department about their son, George W. Rassmusen. Alf recalls barn building experiences.
1977 May 13
2 5
Raymond, Clayton and Ireta Pitcher - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Clayton, referred to in the interview at Clayt, talks about fishing in the canyons near Smithfield. Clayt and Ireta both talk about early childhood and their families. Clayt recalls his baptism in a creek in January. They briefly speak of their courtship and their children. They talk about doctors, dentists, homes, and mills.
1977 May 08
2 6
Read, Coleman - Interviewed by Libby Gittins
In part one, Libby interviews Coleman, referred to as Cole, about his early education and traveling to California on a coal fired train. He talks about his work experience with the railroad, then for the Blue Light Service Station, and then later he operated his own station. In part two of the interview, Chad Downs and Pete Gittins reminisce about working for Coleman, referred to as Colie. They recall what the station was like and the people they served.
1989 January 23
2 7
Read, Ervin - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Edwin talks about baseball in Smithfield. He also talks about his early life in Smithfield. He mentions squeezing sugar cane and pumping water for cattle. His first car was a model T and cost $400.
1977 May 12
2 8
Rigby, Edith, Artha, and sister - Interviewer unknown
Edith, Artha, and a third sister (name unknown) talk about childhood games like marbles, Cat and Dog, and Anti I Over. Artha recalls her mother and father and their deaths. She also recalls the death of her oldest brother. Artha also talks about the cakes and bread her mother used to make. The three sisters retell a story about their grandpa Rigby, a stake president in the LDS church and a polygamist. They recall family reunions. They talk about washing day when they were younger.
2 9
Rushton, Edwin - Reading by Grant Jacobson
Grant Jacobson reads a document signed by Edwin Rushton telling of an experience Rushton had with the prophet Joseph Smith, in Nauvoo. Rushton recalls the vision he heard which told of the constitution of the United States, a journey west, European powers, and building a society of great influence. This revelation is referred to as the "White Horse Prophecy."
2 10
Sant, Margaret - Reading by Grant Jacobson
Grant Jacobson reads a document written by Margaret Sant. Margaret was asked to speak in 1914 about those who first settled in Smithfield. She tells of conflicts with the Indians, she describes furniture and cabins, and the making of cloth. She recalls the finding of the jawbone of Pagweema, the Indian chief. She tells how Smithfield got its name and the first deaths in Smithfield: Ira Merrill and Mrs. Hodge.
2 11
Seamons, Harvey and Melbs Olney - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Melba talks about LDS ward choir productions like "The Captain of Plymouth" and "Princess Ida." Lawrence mentions gracious shop owners. Harvey recalls his time playing in bands around Smithfield. He talks about people he played with and instruments he used. Melba, Harvey, and Lawrence look at a book of old photos (not available) from Harvey's family. Melba talks about her family, the Merrills. Melba recalls shocking grain.
1979 February 16
2 12
Tarbet, Julia - Interviewed by Theoda Downs
Julia recalls early childhood activities like pulling molasses. She recalls sleigh rides and having fun as a child. Julia also talks about her schooling as a young girl. She recalls dancing in different places and visiting the dentist. Julia talks about paying ten cents a yard for fabric. She tells of her thirteen children and the housework she used to do. Five of her sons served in the miliarty and during World War II.
1974 Setpember 18
2 13
Thornley, Don and Thelma - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Don talks about the good influence his grandfather and his father had on him. He speaks about his grandparents, parents, and his children. Don talks about his great-grandfather who settled Smithfield. He also talks about his mother's side of the family. Don talks about the Depression and why his family didn't suffer as others did. He recalls cars that he drove and owned.
1991 March 15
2 14
Thornley, James and Mary Alice Smith - Interviewed by Clark Thornley and Mont Timmins
Interviewed by his nephews, Jim retells stories about his father, Robert Thornley. The stories highlight divine intervention and a faith in God. Jim talks about his parents as God-fearing people; he talks about his testimony and belief in God.
1956 December 31
2 15
Tidwell, Vernon - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
Vernon talks about his early home, family, and schooling. He recalls his LDS mission in 1919 to the Eastern States. He talks about farming with horses. He retells meeting his wife, Celia, and how he proposed to her. He talks about getting into the root beer business and traveling to and from Texas. He mentions his LDS church service and callings. He also talks about his wife's illness and her death.
1986 March 20
2 16
Timmins, Joseph and A.W. Chambers - Interviewed by Phyllis Tout
Phyllis Tout introduces four presenters at a meeting with the Smithfield Historical Society and interested citizens. Tout begins by quoting Jon Steinbeck; she then introduces Joseph Timmins, A.W. Chambers, Theoda Downs, and Hazen Hillyard. Joseph Timmins and A.W. Chambers, however, were the only ones recorded and transcribed. Timmins discusses Smithfield schools and Chambers discusses church buildings and organization of wards and civic parks.
2 17
Tuveson, James Peter and Ellen Cordelia Wanner - Interviewed by Lawrence Cantwell
James, referred to in the interview as Jimmy, tells about homesteading in Idaho. His mother was a mail order bride of sorts, except she didn't like who her husband was to be. She became acquainted with Jimmy's father and married him instead. She was his second wife. Ellen, Jimmy, and Lawrence recall schools in Smithfield. Ellen and Jimmy briefly talk about their children. Ellen recalls riding a horse to school.
1977 May 11
2 18
Winn, Jennie - Interviewed by her granddaughter (name unknown)
Interviewed for a school project by her granddaughter (name unknown), Jennie talks about the flu epidemic of 1918. She recalls World War I and the Depression. She talks about riding a street car to school, from Hyde Park to Richmond. Jennie tells of a few things she would do for entertainment when she was young. She also talks about when the Lindbergh baby was kidnapped.
2 19
Woodruff, Wilford and Afton Low - Interviewed by Theoda Downs
Wilford speaks of his grandfather, the fourth president of the LDS church (Wilford Woodruff). He also talks about his father who worked on the Logan and Salt Lake LDS temples. Theoda and Wilford speak of pneumonia which caused the death of his mother. They also discuss historical records.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Depressions--1929--Utah.
  • Farm life--Cache Valley (Utah and Idaho).
  • Farm life--Utah--Smithfield.
  • Frontier and pioneer life--Cache Valley (Utah and Idaho).
  • Frontier and pioneer life--Utah|zSmithfield.
  • Mormons--Utah|zSmithfield--Social life and customs.
  • Mormons--Utah--Smithfield--History.
  • World War, 1914-1918--Personal narratives, American.
  • World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, American.
  • Geographical Names :
  • Cache Valley (Utah and Idaho)--History.
  • Cache Valley (Utah and Idaho)--Social life and customs.
  • Smithfield (Utah)--History.
  • Smithfield (Utah)--Social life and customs.
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Oral history.