- This journal begins when Mary is eleven years old. On the first blank page in the front of the book Mary has written this dated January 1949:
- "First I will say that the journal or diary writing habit was inculcated in the lives of his children by Utah pioneer John E. Bennion. His son Heber passed it on to his children. When we were given little black bound note books one Christmas, our father instructed us in their use. He said we should write in them every day, all the work we did. As we had been trained from babyhood to blind obedience to his every word, we automatically and mechanically carried out his instructions. Thus our diaries were reasonable facsimiles of his and his father's. All the most important incidents of our lives thus, live on in our memories. Our journals might be those of any of thousands of orthodox members of the Mormon Church. We didn't even record the fact that our father was a polygamist, with three wives, - our mother the first one; or that we had, throughout the years acquired eight half brothers and sisters; even though these facts conditioned our lives more than anything else that has ever happened to any of us. Births, deaths, marriages, riches, poverty, sickness, war, depression, all these things put together do not count at all, on our struggle for happiness, when compared to the fact that father was a polygamist."
- Mary's bitterness and resentment in later years is totally absent from her early journals, the first of which begins:
- "Papa has a large farm with a lot of trees. We have 14 cows to milk. I have three pet lambs. One is blind in one eye. Heber [her older brother] has three lambs too... I have three brothers and three sisters. I am eleven years old and am in the fourth grade...Papa is the bishop of this ward."
- On the following page she lists the birth dates of her siblings and in a different ink, some time later, she has added their marriage dates plus the birth dates of her half brothers and sisters, the children of her father and Mayme Bringhurst.
- April 19
- "Did chores and went to school... when I came home I milked. President George Cannon died last Monday at one o'clock in the morning. Lucile and I went to town the day he was buried which was Wednesday. We did not have any school that day. There was about sixty carrages. President Cannon had thirty-two children and fourty one grandchildren"
- In the margin she has added:
- "Mother said Susie [first child of Heber and his third wife Mayme] was born ten months after father married Mayme Bringhurst, so the wedding must have been on April 19, 1901 or near that date."
- Mary along with the rest of the family, worked hard to keep the farm going--the animals taken care of and the household chores done.
- June 13
- "I got up at five o'clock this morning and made a fire. Then I milked four cows and fed the chickens before Heber got up. After breakfast I herded the cows and horses. I fed the lambs and tended Rulon [Mary's infant brother] Charly Morris said he would give me a little duck that he had. Lucile and I did the dinner dishes. We herded the stock till choretime. Then did the chores. Heber killed a wild rabit."
- June 24
- "I milked one cow. A man came buying old rubber. We sold fifteen cents worth. My share was a nickel. I made a rice pudding. Herd cows and horses. Then I mowed a little while. Heber found a birds nest and a nest of mice in the lucern. The mice got killed with the mower. Then I did my chores.
- February 1
- "I thought it would be of little use to write my journal for the last two months because I did the same thing nearly everyday"
- September 29
- "I pealed pears for preserves and stayed with Mama. She has been sick for about a week. Emma Jane Webster [Heber's second wife] called in to see how she was. Emma Jane is teaching school here in West Taylorsville. I do not go to school this year."
- November 29
- "Cleaned up the kitchen, went upstairs and made Christmas presents and then came down and had a row with Ethel & Heber"
- Mary has inserted much later in the margin--
- "Here Heber takes over to tell the whole, the awful truth MBP" This is most likely about their father's polygamy.
- December 18
- "Papa sent for a horse doctor from town to see what was the matter with Washakee, but he said the best thing we could do would be to shoot him."
- Later Mary has added in the margin:
- "I was too tender-hearted to record that Heber was made Washakee's executioner MBP 1950"
- August 30
- "In the evening we were sitting around the fire and George, Lester and Tom came running up and said they saw a bear down the creek. In the night a mouse ran across Ad's pillow and woke her up and Ethel screamed and woke the rest of us up. In a little while one of the horses put its head in the window and some of us thought it was a bear. At last I heard a noise just like a bear growling, and Ellen was awake too, and we were so scared we didn't know what to do but a last we found out it was a mouse running around in the banjo. But anyway we got a quilt and slept in the wagon the rest of the night."
- September 3
- "Papa has gone to Mexico for his health. He has had the rhuematism so bad that he has had to use a crutch."
- She has underlined and checked the world "health" as if to imply that perhaps he went to Mexico for other reasons.
- "About conference time we had a Bennion Reunion at the meeting house. There was a large crowd."
- March 8
- "Went to school and on the way heard of the terrible explosion in the Granger Meeting House...Nellie Mackay was killed while singing a song. About fifteen or twenty others were injured. The pulpit was blown up thro the ceiling, and the roof was lifted from its fastenings. Mama and Papa went to see the place today."
- "Now that the small pox is somewhat subsiding diptheria is beginning to spread around the ward. On Friday 16th we had an elders and seventies reunion. It consisted of a program, picnic and a dance. We had a very nice time."
- Mary is now sixteen years old.
- "We decided to have a 'weighing party'. That is all the ladies are weighed and their pardners pay a half cent per pound to get admission for themselves & ladies. To make it more interesting the ladies go behind a curtain and each place a toe under the edge, then the gents chose from the display of toes and thus get their pardners for the evening."
- April 30
- "When I woke up this morning I was sobbing aloud because I thought Hazel Pixton had run away to California and got married to a villian. After I became convinced it was only a dream, however, I felt better and was about to go to sleep again when I heard the telephone ring and hurried downstairs only to find that it was the alarm clock."
- August 12
- "Papa took us down to Powells where we were well entertained by Mr. Powell and his son" [This 'son' is either her future husband or his brother].
- In January of 1907 Mary, along with her parents, her father's second wife and several others took a trip to California.
- January 21
- "It wasn't decided that I should go with papa and mama until Saturday night, so I had to do my shopping and pack up this morning. We started about ten o'clock in the morning and in the afternoon we were flying across Great Salt Lake. It was a sight to be remembered. After this all was wasteland for miles."
- January 22
- "Went through Sparks and several small cities in Nevada, then across the line into California, through Reno and into the Nevada mountains. The snow was so deep it had to be shoveled off the roofs to keep them from caving in... Then we went through forty miles of snow sheds in the very tops of the mountains. From here it grew gradually warmer and more like spring as we dropped down into the lower valleys."
- January 24
- "We all went to the Mission House. We visited Cliff House and Sutro Park. Then we went for a car ride to look at the ruins. There was one section of the city, two miles wide and six miles long where hardly one building was left standing."
- January 25
- "We went to the Mission House, then went to Palo Alto to visit the Stanford University. There has been considerable damage done here but school is in session We brought home some pieces of stone which had fallen from the front of the chapel."
- January 26
- "Spent the day roaming through Golden Gate Park. The band stand on the top of the hill was completely ruined and many beautiful imitations of nature, the artificial path, willow fences and grottoes, etc., were detroyed."
- January 27
- "We arrived in Los Angelos about five o'clock p.m.'
- January 28
- "We visited a large ostrich farm...we also visited the Church of Angels"
- January 30
- "Today we went to Catalina Island on a steamer... we went on the glass bottomed boat and looked at the queer and beautiful plants and fishes on the bottom of the ocean."
- February 3
- "By the way, we attended one of their street meetings a few nights ago. I have never been to one before. I think it must be very embarrassing to talk to a walking crowd."
- Mary lived a life of relative financial security. Whatever was needed could be charged at the local stores in Taylorsville or Salt Lake because her father had charge accounts at most of them.
- "Mama is sick so Ethel and I have to do all the Xmas shopping. We were kept busy all day and when we got through we had so many parcels that we couldn't take more than half of them home but had to leave the rest at Aunt Augusta's."
- January 30
- "We were quarantined with Scarlett Fever. Helen had been sick for a few days and that's the way it turned out... Mama stayed with Helen in a room upstairs so as not to expose the other children. Mama got sick and so papa went up too. Lucile and I had to send their meals up on trays and disinfect the dishes carefully before bringing them downstairs again... Aunt Delia came to nurse mama the next morning Mama, papa and Helen took medicated baths put on fumigated clothing and joined the rest of the family downstairs."
- "About noon papa hooked up the wagon and took all the women folks up East Fork where the boys were haying. We took dinner with us and spread it out on the grass just as we had finished eating a thunderstorm came up which lasted the rest of the afternoon. The boys got in the hay stack. Some of us got under the wagon and sat facing each other with a quilt over our laps. Soon the rain began to leak through the cracks in the wagon box so we put our hats on and it wasn't long before each of them was shedding a steady stream of water... Coming home the dugways were so slippery that we were afraid to ride and the wagon got stuck on a hill about a mile from camp so we walked the rest of the way. When we reached camp we found our beds and clothing soaking wet, and to make matters worse the pigs had gotten into the provisions. The boys brought in a pile of dead trees and sage brush and made a roaring bonfire. We moved the table outdoors and ate supper by firelight, then we sat up till eleven o'clock trying to dry our quilts etc., by the fire. George Frost favored us with a few tragic ballads."
- This was Mary's annual outing every summer when the family would do the haying and tending of sheep and vacation at the same time.
- August 16
- "Heber and Joe started with the sheep at three o'clock this morning; the rest of us followed about eight. We went careening down the canyon at great speed until Dock stumbled and fell down. We thought at first the poor horse was dead but in a few minutes he got up and we proceeded a little more slowly...We over took Heber & Joe and Hortsville and stopped for dinner at Bro Holt's. We got to Pace's ranch at the mouth of Silver Creek about sundown and got supper ready before the boys arrived with the sheep. We were so tired of pounding old Dock along that we finally made a bargain with the sheep herders. They said if we would feed the horses, watch the sheep all night, put their lunch, and call them at three o'clock they would let us take Kit tomorrow instead of Dock. Herb wouldn't think of letting us girls take our turn sitting up so we went to bed. We were soon awakened by a series of blissful snores and found our Little Boy Blue fast asleep on the hard ground. Ethel and Lucile took pity on him and covered him up with a blanket. They were just trying to get his watch to see what time it was when he woke up. His courage during the remainder of the ordeal was commendable."
- In September of 1908, Heber, Mary's brother, is preparing to go on a mission for the Mormon Church.
- September 18
- "Heber went to Taylorsville to say goodbye to his friends. We were busy till noon packing his trunk and lunch box etc. All of us but mama and Rulon went to the depot with him. There was quite a crowd there... we had made it up before hand that none of us would cry but found it impossible not to. Heber and Fred were the bravest in the whole crowd, and when the train pulled out they were leaning out waving and smiling. The parting was very hard for papa. He needs Heber now more than he ever has before."
- October 5
- "Late in the afternoon I came home and got ready for the Bennion Reunion...Papa gave incidents in the early life of the Bennion family; some of them very amusing. There were life size paintings of the two Bennion brothers and their wives, hung on the wall above the stand. There was a dance after the program where we proceeded to get acquainted with our relatives."
- November 8
- "Lucile came nearly getting ready in time for S. S. [Sunday School] but finally I had to go alone. Children were very noisy and rude. I half determined to give up trying to teach them. Ethel and I both had the blues and thought we would go to see Ina Ashton, but she had to go to a funeral. We started to think of some cheerful person who we would visit...and we talked about our childhood experiences. We laughed so hard that the blues were scattered far and wide."
- January 5
- "Papa has sold 80 acres of Cannan Farm, the part lying south of the road to President Smith"
- January 11
- "I am nineteen today. I feel quite venerable. Nineteen is so much older than eighteen."
- January 18
- "Supt. Wells of the L.D.S. Hospital is offering a course in Nursing at the L.D.S.U. free on condition that those taking it will pledge themselves to service in the hospital for the two years following. Today some of our class went with Mrs. Empey to investigate. First we went to the L.D.S. then to undergo physical examinations. Then we went to a specialist on feet. Met papa and came home with him."
- January 20
- "I have finally decided for the twelth time that I am not going to the hospital...Went to choir practice with Hennie. She is in 'liebe with Herb' remember this is strictly confidential-and he goes with another little 'German madchen'."
- August 23
- "Lucile and Ethel washed and I did the housework. In the afternoon Ethel went to the Keyster. Ivy came over to sew. I went to Dr. Richards the same day and he said there wasn't anything the matter with me. I was much relieved."
- September 22
- "I have been worrying so much lately that I don't seem to get anything done. None of us went to choir."
- November 15
- "L.D.S.U. Founders' Day. Went up to the celebration with papa and mama. A parade, an enthusiastic program, luncheon, and outdoor sports were the main events met lot of old friends."
- January 1
- "The L.D.S. closed for the holiday a week before Xmas and Lucile was home to do the work so I took out a twenty days course at the Keyster and started to make a party dress for myself. We had a very quiet Christmas. Mama and papa spent the afternoon and evening at Webster's... Ray & Wid were going on missions to England and this night was their last at home. We kissed Ray goodbye and began to feel like we did a year ago last September. I was awfully glad it wasn't Heber."
- May 6
- "Ethel, Helen, Ruby, Aunt Minnie, Genieve Horne, and I went to see Maud Adams from the box. the play was "The Girl Without A Charm, Or What Every Woman Knows", and as most of us had read it in the Ladies Home Journal we were very much interested in seeing it played by such a celebrated and gifted actress. I don't think I every enjoyed a play quite so well as I did this one."
- June 20
- "Emma J. came to stay with us for a few weeks."
- This is Heber's second polygamous wife. All the wives lived together at various times.
- June 22
- "E. J. (Emma Jane) stayed with Mayme all night."
- While Mary and her family were at Pine Cliff in July an interesting incident occurred:
- "After supper Jim Peterson, one of the hands came to buy some things and to get his pay. He was so drunk that his eyes looked glassy. He tried to get some girls to ride his bronco and finding that he couldn't do that he tried to ride his bronco and finding that he couldn't do that he tried to ride it right into the house. Mama talked to him and got him to go away. In a few minutes we heard loud talking outside. Jim was demanding $10 a month more than papa had agreed to pay him and of course papa was refusing it. Jim picked up a big rock and tried to hit papa with it. Fred Richins, his brother in law, tried to prevent his doing it and then the two of them were rolling on the ground clasped tightly in each others arms. Mama, Aunt Eliza, and all of us girls rushed to the scene of action thinking papa was one of the men on the ground. Just as we got there Jim drew his pistol and shot. Then there was silence and in that awful moment we didn't know but what papa had been killed. It was only a second, but it seemed longer until we saw things as they were. No one was hurt and papa had wrenched the gun away from Jim and we saw that it was Mr. Richins on the ground with Jim...When Jim was let loose he got on his horse and made a regular calvalry charge right into the midst of us and this time we scattered to the four wind. The last words he said as he rode away were, 'Bishop. I'll kill you tomorrow, do you hear?' What could we do with this awful threat hanging over us... Dennis was very quiet. His beard had been scorched by the bullet as it flew past him... Ethel was sitting on the doorstep with her head in her hands perfectly exhausted and the rest of us were on the verge of mental collapse when up walked Jim, hat in hand and head bowed, a perfect picture of humility. He made an elegant apology". Mary has added in the margin: "I was too modest to tell how I pulled Jim off of father and tore the seat of his pants-that was what ended the fight-MBP"
- September 2
- "Lucile, Norma and I went to Lagoon to swim in the fresh water lake. We had a jublilant time. There was a big barrel floating on the water which we tried to ride."
- September 6
- "Bottled tomatoes. About 5:00 pm Ethel, Lucy, May, Kate and I went and saw the new Deseret Gymnasium."
- October 5
- "Ethel finished Helen's dress in time for the Bennion Reunion. I went early because I was on the refreshment committee."
- October 26
- "Ruby, Laura, Lucile and I helped serve refreshment at Anna Grant's wedding reception. The time set was from seven to eleven p.m. There were about two-hundred people invited. They came and went a few at a time staying half an hour or so. First they congratulated the Bride and groom in the parlor, then they passed into the dining room where they were served with hot chocoate, ice cream, cake, candy and wedding cake; then they went upstairs and viewed the gifts and then went home. The decorations were autumn leaves in the hall, chrysanthimums in the parlor and roses in the dining room. It was a very elegant and stylish reception."
- November 24
- "We didn't expect papa and mama home for dinner so we stayed in bed till eleven o'clock. Then they phoned that they were coming so we hurriedly cleaned up the kitchen and dining room and cooked a chicken dinner. They arrived just in time to eat dinner before the matinee. We had the box but as the boys preferred to go to the football game we took Luura with us. The play was "The Three Twins" a very funny laughter provoking musical comedy. The costumes and scenery were extraordinary, the main feature being a large flower decked brilliantly lighted aerial swing carrying six pretty girls suspended in baskets."
- December 20
- "Bro Mertlich and his young bride to be from Germany came bringing our Xmas presents from Heber. They were some fine linen embrodered hankerchiefs for. mama, a watch charm for papa, a pair of gloves and a bunch of cards illustrating the Passion Play for Ethelyn, gloves for Lucile and me, a gold collar pin for Helen and ornamented pocket knives for the boys. Today Archie got fumigated out and in the evening he came over here. He is going to stay with us till Aunt Minnie gets out of quarentine. Ruby called. The first snow of the season came today.
- January 2
- Ruby, Lucille and I went to the ward dance in the evening. Ray Elsmore took Ruby but Lucile and I went alone as usual. Which was the only reason why we didn't have a perfectly grand time. There was the Xmas tree waltz, the Paul Jones two step, the Virginia Reel, the tag waltz, and all of our favorite dances. Once they had the ladies choose their partners and once the choosing was done by throwing and catching a ball, the ladies being lined up on one side of the hall and gents on the other. We didn't miss more than two or three dances and had lots of fun.
- January 12
- "Lucile and I went to a shower given by choir to Della Hooper at her home. She is to be married soon...we had lots of fun especially in the games where each person writes on a slip of paper six qualifications required in their future wife or husband. No names were signed but when the slips were gathered and read their authors were nearly all betrayed by their self-conscious looks or by a too strenuous attempt at innocence. Before going hime we had the bride elect display the gifts, which were kitchen utensils, and explain their uses."
- February 10
- "After supper we were favored by a 'cat concert' in which sixteen individual songs were sung by sixteen individual singers simultaneously to one piano accompaniement. It gave the effect of grand opera."
- March 3
- "Helen did my hair up on rags so it would be in curls for the party and when I took it down it was curled so tight that it made me look like 'Topsy' in Uncle Toms Cabin. I was so long getting it arranged that Lucile and I didn't get to the dance till about ten o'clock."
- June 10
- "On Saturday 10th Ethel and I and Helen went to the ranch. Ethel had to go early on account of the state of her health and I went to take care of her till Mama should come...About a week later papa went home and brought mama out. We were to cook for a crowd of shearers and needed her. Aunt Mayme and children moved up to Pine Cliff where Leavirs are. There were about fourteen men to cook for and they stayed about ten days. During this time we worked very hard with few conveniences and scarcely rested at all. It was too hot and the flies were tormenting. The shearers were all from Upton and Coalville and seemed to be socially inclined. Whenever the rain prevented them from working they played horse-shoe, baseball, etc. We intended to stay here half the summer and then change places with Aunt Mayme. However when the time came she did not want to move so we had to all live together at Pine Cliff."
- On the annual vacation in August Mary says:
- "Louise Hagman and Don Young came out and stayed about three weeks. They are an ideal engaged couple. I would enjoy chaperoning them. We went for horse-back rides, hay-rack rides, had dances, concerts, candy pulls, bon fires, trout dinners (and water fights) Ethel and some of the others stopped at a sheep camp as she was too tired to go on and papa got some mutton there which we cooked on forked sticks over a bon fire.
- We couldn't leave the ranch before the first of September as the haying had to be fininshed first. Papa left Aunt M. and all the children but Susie in Heber's care and brought the rest of us home and then went back a little later and let Heber come home, and brought Aunt M. home in the early part of October."
- It sounds as though Mary's father Heber spent a fair amount of time juggling his wives and families around. Financially having three wives and two large families must have been difficult. Heber's financial situation grew steadily worse with each passing year.
- "On the 20th of Sept.. Heber and I went to Logan to attend school at the Agricultural College. I was terribly homesick for the first two or three weeks but I got safely over it and then began to enjoy myself. I roomed at Judge Maugham's with Bessie Day one of Heber's friends and former classmates. She was very kind to me both at school and at our room and tried hard to make me feel at home, for which I shall always be grateful. The only times she every made my unhappy were when we talked about or when I fancied that Heber was in love with her. She was a widow, which according to our religion would prevent her from being his in the next world, and besides her views regarding spiritual things were so strange to me...."
- When I came home from Logan after school closed I found at Thorndyke besides Aunt Mayma and her family three other families. The place looked like a tenement district. Tin cans, papers, egg shells, etc., were scattered about the lawn, and dirty- oh! Mother and Ethelyn had returned from Moapa early in May and had just stopped in Salt Lake a few days. Ethelyn was much weaker and thinner than when I left here in the fall. The Monday after I got home I had my tonsils removed with the hope that this would help to cure my catarrh. Dr. Stevenson performed the operation in his office uptown Lucile went with me too and told jokes to keep up my spirits. I rewarded her by a veritable torrent of endearing epithets while I was under the anesthetic. I also gave her some valuable advice about not getting married. At this the doctors became interested and began to ask questions. I could hear them by this time but decided it was too much trouble to answer. They tried to wake me but I wanted to keep on sleeping. It nearly broke my heart to come back to this sordid world. I did try desperately to rouse myself, but in vain. They got tired of waiting and of supporting me between them half carried me down stairs and out to the automobile. I was in my kimona, bare-headed and with my hair all tumbled up. All the businessman of the building were on the elevator as it was noon hour. I knew something was wrong but I couldn't even hold my eyes open, let alone stand up straight. All I could see was hundreds of feet."
- When they finally got home she said the torture began:
- "Everything I wanted to say I had to write out. This was a great inconvenience as it often happened that a person would be out to the car or at least out of the house by the time it was finished. The next Monday after the operation I started to Summer School at the U. of U."
- "I simply can't find time to properly record the events of my young life since I have become a school teacher. After the Lehi clean-up our family betook themselves to Pine Cliff ranch. Aunt Emma came too when Helen came on the train. Aunt Mayme and family stayed at the Clark Place which papa insists on calling Pine View though there isn't a pine tree within five miles of it. The children seemed to be having a fine time, especially Richard who spent his time training the pigs and chickens to perform tricks. There was one big pig that he could manage like the circus man does an elephant. He would make it lie down so that he could get on its back and then it would carry him around the yard in great style. He is only a year and a half old and he looked simply fantastic on that big pig."
- "The Russells and Aunt M. and family had gone to Salt Lake the day that we moved camp from Pine Cliff to Pine View."
- During this summer the families shifted around from place to place as usual.
- "We had lots of fun while the poor hardworking fellows were toiling in the hay field. Nearly everyday we went bathing in the creek. We all knew how to swim, that is all but Aunt Emma of those who went in the water. Mother and Ethelyn never went in. Ethelyn though gaining a little was still very weak. She couldn't go anyplace unless she went in the auto."
- Mary writes about a friend of hers who married a man she was fond of but not in love with:
- "She cared for him, in a way, but still he wasn't her ideal. But he simply worships her and it makes me wonder if that isn't more important after all. Love is everything to a woman, and to love and not be loved would kill her. Her home is the center of her little world and here she must be queen. If this is the case and she loves her husband even only a little she has a greater chance of being happy than if she should marry a dashing, efficient briliant man who might sometime compare her unfavorably with other people, or who might neglect her or make her feel inferior."
- "A little while before Xmas Lucile went down to Salt Lake with her mind fully made up to have a final settling with Conrad, to 'quit' him, as the poet says. I told her to write it, but she ignored my warning and as result she came back engaged. Such is the way of unwary damsels. I cannot say that I wanted Lucile to get married so soon. She has never had much of a chance at the fun most girls of her class have at college and I had hoped fondly, though perhaps foolishly that she would go to the A. C. at least one year. I suggested the matter to father but it seems that we are getting poorer every year and in view of the rapidly increasing family at Thorndyke it looks quite impossible for him ever to send any more children to college. I hardly think Aunt Mayme's children will care to go beyond high school. They are being trained that it is the aim of life to marry young, raise as large a family as nature will allow regardless of the necessary knowledge or money with which to educate the children properly and that one should be satisfied with the mere physical necessities of life. Papa holds the same views with the exception that he loves literature and believes in a liberal education for boys. He thinks a girl should marry the first good man who asks her, and school for her should be of only secondary importance.
- I am afraid that father and mother think I do not care for children I would rather make a few happy and useful than to bring misery and handicaps to large number. I cannot help thinking that poor people who have large families are either mistaken as to their duty or are merely thoughtless and selfish. Nearly everyone loves a baby but is that any reason for having so many of them?"
- Toward the last of February, Homer Crabb one of my fifth grade boys took sick with acute kidney trouble. I was very busy and I expected to see him soon so I did not call at his home. The next thing I heard was that he was in a state of unconsciousness and was not expected to live through the day. I wanted to see him so much that I decided to go to the house in spite of everything, but when nearly there I changed my mind remembering that his aunt was sick with typhoid fever in the same house and I would probably only be in the way. But oh if I had only known how they really felt about it I should have gone there when I first heard of their trouble. Dona told me the next day that they were trying to get me over the phone at the very moment I decided not to go down there. That was a little after four o'clock. At six he was dead. The next morning when I came into the class room to begin school I found Homer's books in a pile on my desk. I tried to say something to the children who all knew of the tragedy and were looking up at me with sad faces But I couldn't utter a word. Vera told me that the mother [of Homer] had run away with Mr. Carson of Pleasant Grove and the four children had been motherless for about five years. They and the father had made their home with the grandmother. The next day I had Dona take me to the house. Mr. Crabb took us in to see the body. He was calm and dignified with a face as full of sorrow as Abraham Lincoln. Do you know how dear a child can be to its teacher? I never see a little empty desk without feeling a stab of pain."
- Mary went to another doctor and went through several days of tests, the conclusion being that she had a severe case of neuritis, and that if she didn't take measures to cure it she would be a nervous wreck. She began a series of treatments at the hospital.
- August 20
- "Ethelyn came back from the sanitorium in Bountiful where she had been taking the milk treatment. After arriving home she continued to take the milk treatment, drinking six quarts a day. She gained 23 1bs in two months."
- September 1
- "About the first of September mama came home from the ranch and Aunt Mayme and family moved into three rooms upstairs."
- September 14
- "Rulon took sick yesterday afternoon and today was operated on for appendicitus. I was in the hydrotherapy department at the hospital taking a treatment when Lucile came in and told me Rulon was on the operating table. I stayed with him during the afternoon. I was surprised when he came out of the ether without making a disturbance. He smiled and asked me to sing to him. When he was fully awake he said, 'My! this is horrible'. But he didn't make a bit of fuss. I screamed for hours when I came to."
- Mary had returned with Lucile to school in Logan, and one day with another friend, named Willard, she writes:
- October 11
- "We three made fudge on the chafing dish and talked till a late hour. As soon as Willard left I took a double dose of sleeping pills and went to bed."
- "The week before Xmas was so much of a strain that I had a genuine collapse after it and was in bed for two weeks. I couldn't stand to have anyone in the room and was so weak that it was an effort just to breathe. My symptoms were novel and numerous but as I am trying to forget them I will refrain from discribing them in detail."
- Mary's sister Helen told her about her experiences in Upton and three available bachelors as old or older than Mary who was twenty-five at the time. One of the people mentioned was Charles Powell, Mary's future husband, who was on a mission in England at the time.
- Mary gets a glimpse of Charles at Conference time after his return from England:
- "We were standing up at the back of the gallery when Heber drew my attention to a tall light fellow standing a few feet away. 'Isn't that one of the Powell boys?' he said; and sure enough there was the returned missionary only he was so much more distinguished looking than he used to be that I could hardly believe my eyes."
- "During the latter part of May I spent most of my time lounging on the grass in a sheltered nook north west of the pond where I absorbed sunshine along with the rest of the weeds. I could feel myself getting stronger from one day to the next which is a great feeling."
- Mary went to Pine View with her brother, sister and a woman named Vera and set up a camp. Their nearest neighbors were the Powells and it was during this summer that Mary and Charles became friends. Mary and Helen went to the Powells' home one time and she describes her impression of Charles at this meeting:
- "A man waved at us from the backyard. I had a suspicion that it was Charles as he seemed too tall and narrow to be the bishop. When we arrived at the front door there was the long lost missionary to welcome us. I was somewhat embarrassed for, although he and Helen are old friends, I couldn't be sure he remembered me from the two or three times he had seen me at Pine Cliff in my early youth. He was sadly altered since I saw him at conference. Missionaries do look so deceptively handsome when they first come home, before they have got thin and sunburned toiling on the farm. And yet it was a relief to know that he was still among us."
- One time Charles came by to take Mary snipe hunting.
- "I had heard about the snipe game but it was so long ago that I couldn't remember just what the trick was so I feigned innocence and let him lead me out into the meadow and leave me there with a big paste board mush box into which the snipes were to fly in answer to my whistle while he went around and scared them up. Of course by this time I had recalled the scheme of things. The thing to do now was to get back to the tent without his seeing me and get there first, but he had already had too much advantage over me to make this possible and he got there just in time to applaud me as I walked ignominously into camp. I can't convince him that I knew the joke before."
- Mary's health during this summer improved somewhat, but she still tired very easily. Her symptoms seemed to be psychosomatic for the most part. After a dance she says:
- "A delightful ride home. Moon absolutely tipsy. Powells wanted me to stay overnight at their place but I declined, with an eye for the cold grey dawn of the morning after. If I could just get to camp before fainting away thats all I could reasonably expect in the way of good luck. When I couldn't pretend any longer that I wasn't sick I asked C. if he wouldn't draft my will for me."
- Mary and Helen prepare to return to Salt Lake as autumn approaches.
- September 28
- "Spent the morning packing and the afternoon vainly waiting for Uncle John to appear. In the evening we went for a last stroll on the hill and lit a big bon fire up there. When he bade us goodbye we all tried to thank each other for a pleasant summer but gave it up-leaving it to the fairies to settle. Last handshake without looking back!"
- Back in Salt Lake:
- October 20
- "The bishop called and asked if we girls would join the choir and also if Helen would work in relgion class and I in the primary. Helen said she would but I couldn't make any promises."
- October 21
- "In bed all day."
- October 22
- November 18
- "Visited Websters as I was passing their house in my daily ramble (which I take about once a week) Came home fired with new resolve to take a correspondence course in place of Summer School and apply for a school next year."
- November 19
- "In bed suffering from my high resolve."
- Another potential suitor appears briefly on the scene and the following is a rather revealing glimpse of Mary's father, Heber, during these years:
- "Clifford Gerrard came here about seven o'clock in the evening to practice with Ray for a play. To get out of the way I went to Mutual with Helen. But he was still here when we got back so I just had to make myself agreeable. It proved to be worth the effort for we had a very pleasant evening with the exception of a few crowded minutes when father came into the parlor, en dishabille, and called us to family prayers, asking Clifford to pray. I couldn't listen for trying to think of something to say after he should get through. When we arose everyone was embarrassed but father and Clifford. I said 'Isn't it hot in here? Someone open the front door'; while mother exclaimed simultaneously, 'Open the drafts to the stove. This room is freezing cold'. But he [Clifford] settled himself comfortably on the couch and said in his slow, easy way, 'so when I got to my aunts house', and fininshed the sentence that he had begun before father called on him to pray. Wouldn't you say he has a pretty good memory, not to mention poise?"
- Mary ends this journal describing a chance meeting with Charles:
- "Just opposite the Hotel Utah we came face to face with Charles. I stopped to shake hands with him, told him where I had been and then hurried to catch the girls leaving him standing there shouting something after me about having phoned out to Taylorsville to find out where I was. I went home then and shall probably never see him again."
- July 22
- "Heber, Helen, Lucile, Conrad Jr. and myself to Pine Cliff ranch in the Ford."
- Charles made several visits to see Mary while she was there. Lucile has a baby now, Conrad Jr., and Mary helps to tend it.
- "As night approaches the baby begins his wails of protest against things in general and our lantern which gives about as much light as a match, wavers and smokes and shed a melancholy dimness around making the room look like a robbers cave. Then we turn to wistful reminiscences of former summer evenings on the ranch. (I must add we reminisce only on the evenings when C. doesn't come up)"
- One day when Mary was visiting at Charles' home:
- "Mrs. Powell (Charles' mother) was doing some lace which I admired. Misha said, 'Well grandma perhaps you will have one piece of lace to keep after all', and she said, 'yes, unless there is a wedding in the family soon.' She looked at me but I was the picture of blankness. It is great to have a secret and watch other people fish for it."
- August 29
- "C. came up. We talked about house plans. It is remarkable how our ideas coincide on this subject (small, unpretentious, convenient)"
- Mary's mother Susie is ill.
- October 14
- "We came home and helped mother get ready to go to the hospital. She is going to have an operation on Wed. and has to have some kind of a test tomorrow. It seems awful but we musn't be afraid. That won't help."
- October 18
- "That operation was successful but was more serious than the doctors expected, as one of the kidneys had to be removed."
- Mary went to see a friend's trousseau:
- October 20
- "Got up to Vera's about 8:15 a.m. and it took about two hours for her to show me all her things. It was wonderful. What she will ever do with them all I don't know. She worked hard for a whole year getting them ready. When I left she gave me a bottle of pickles for my trousseau."
- She lists her worries:
- November 30
- "My worries. Inability to decide whether or not to have a wedding dress; what to say to the dressmaker whom I have engaged if I can't use her, fear that I am not doing right in allowing C. to burden himself with an invalid wife. These are the most insistent ones though there are innumerable minor ones like the problem of remodeling old clothes, and the question of Xmas presents to be obtained without the expenditure of cash! My most recent one is the worry that I will worry myself into complete nervous prostration and have to be relegated to the hospital!!!!"
- December 2
- "Sick all day."
- Mary had been sick with a cold:
- December 18
- "I got up and made a fire and applied mentholatum. After reading for awhile I got tired. I put a quilt on the couch and lay down. Then I got up and put the milk bottle on the porch so that the boy who brings us a quart of milk early every morning wouldn't have to knock and ask for the empty bottle. Again I lay down this time to sleep. I was very rudely awakened by what sounded like an ammunitions factory exploding on the next block. It proved to be the above mentioned boy pounding on the door and he wouldn't stop until I put on bathrobe and slippers and asked him what he wanted. He asked me if I would please put the bottle outside every morning!!!"
- This journal begins with sewing instructions. Methods of taking measurements, standard measurements and patterns imposed over what appears to be notes from a book or class. This portion of the journal is very difficult to read. Following this is a section of notes taken during a nursing class, written over philosophical notes. Perhaps Mary lacked money for paper at this time in her newly married life. The nursing notes cover the following subjects: Emergencies, Poisons, Narcotics, Anodynes and Acro-narcotics, Fractures--process of repair, treatment, splints, dislocation, Hemmorrages--ways of arresting hemorrhages. There is a section on Surgical Nursing: Scalds and Frost-Bites, Healing of Wounds, Treatment of Wounds. Operations-preparation of room, abdominal operation, operation on limbs, preparation of nurse, sponges for operation, Children's diseases, contagious diseases, nurse for children, termination of life. General nursing, massage, nurses' outfit. Table of Antiseptics. Dr. Allen, Surgical Operation at home. Dr. Snow, Dr. Faust, Typhoid.
- Following this, Mary's regular journal entries begin again. There has been a lapse of three years between books 9 and 10. In that interim Mary had married Charles Powell on January 10, 1918 and had given birth to three children. Her life at this time was one of constant work, as is any mother's life with three young children and no help at home.
- October 18
- "Bennion kept me awake a good deal last night. [He is her second child.] I got up at 7:30 and washed yesterdays dishes, tended the baby, dressed the children, fed them, washed dishes again, swept three rooms, hung out a lot of clothes, dusted, put the children to sleep, bathed the baby, took the children out for a walk, had supper, put the children to bed, gave the baby his nightly rub, took my baththus it goes. Puzzle-when do I have time to make clothes for the youngsters?"
- January 15
- "C. to priesthood meeting. I got to talking about our business with father concerning Pine Cliff and he got angry and left the house saying that angels could not stay where there was quarreling! We could get along with father all right but Pine Cliff is in Aunt Mayme's name and that makes it different."
- January 18
- "Charles got home about noon. I was sick with fatigue & nervousness. He felt sorry for me so he cancelled an engagement to go teaching and took me to the American to see "Hail the Woman". We both enjoyed the play very much."
- February 14
- "Lucile's birthday. Helen spent afternoon with her. I called on Dr. Stevenson. He said my trouble was 'neurotic odema', nerves losing control of blood vessels, and prescribed rubbing with hot oil. Got a treat at Cozy Chocolate Shop."
- February 15
- "Father had made new offer of Pine Cliff for $7,000. Now he speaks of trading range land for Clark places."
- February 19
- "I was so exhausted that I had to go to bed for awhile. It is the nervous strain of trying to take care of the children and work at the same time that wears me out. Charles really does most of the work himself and yet I find myself growing weaker and more nervous everyday."
- Mary gets up at 5:30 every morning and works all day. Charles is a salesman of sorts canvassing the neighborhood and sometimes Mary helps out delivering things and Charles helps with the children and household chores a great deal.
- March 23
- "Reading Main Street by Sinclain Lewis."
- May 13
- "Up about half the night dividing my attention between the three sick youngsters. How much longer can I stand it, I wonder."
- Charles and Mary moved to Pine Cliff Ranch at the end of May.
- May 17
- "Bid a difficult farewell to Father, Mother and Helen and set out for our future home. Mrs. Mears next door gave us three cats and some geranium slips, Mr. Olsen ran up the street after us with a thermometer & cough medicine. He works in a drug store."
- They arrived on the twentieth of May with the children quite sick with whooping cough.
- May 21
- "Woke up this morning for the first time in a permanent, honest to goodness home."
- May 22
- "Not much sleep last night. We all have to sleep in the kitchen as the children have to be where it is warm and we have to be with them to keep them covered and to hold the wash dish when they vomit. We keep a fire and a light burning all night & C. sleeps in his bathrobe on the foot of the bed so he can get up & get the wash dish in time to whichever child coughs. If parents aren't slaves, love is the only things that prevents them from being it. Of course I don't mean rich parents who can afford help."
- The rest of the journal are notes on Primary Methods for teaching children in the primary grades. There is a collection of songs and poems for children too.
- This journal begins with notes on food, their classification, sources and uses in the body. About bread she says:
- "Bread is the most common and the most important article of diet. Absolute cleanliness is necessary in bread making. 1 slice of bread made with milk is worth 4 slices made with water."
- Recipes follow for such dishes as Currant Loaf, Eggs for the Typhoid convalescent, Potatoes on the Half Shell, etc.
- Mary's journal begins again in June 1922
- June 8
- "With C. all day while he worked on the ditch. Had to come home at noon to feed lambs. I had a good time reading my honeymoon diary that I found yesterday in the bottom of C's trunk."
- This unfortunately is missing from the collection.
- June 11
- "On Sunday I had hoped to have a vacation from baby tending today but C. stayed up on the meadow nearly all forenoon. I was so exasperated and tired that when he came back I just took my hat and left the house without a word. I went up the new road and sat down under a tree and wrote my journal. When I came back about two hours later he had got the baby to sleep and swept the house. Then he went back to the meadow."
- The journal then skips to January 1934 during the depression. Mary and Charles have five children at this time and Mary is pregnant with their sixth and last child. She writes:
- January 4
- "Dr. Sherrainian told me yesterday not be surprised if I had to go to the hospital any day now. I will have to go to the county hospital unless the Relief Society decides to let me come to the Maternity Home free. I am not going to ask them though."
- January 14
- "Charles hasn't had a days work since the middle of September and has been denied work by the people in charge of the Civil works administration who do things according to their own sweet will without any justice or reason."
- July 8
- "I asked C. to tend children while I got us & our clothes ready for the Powell reunion to be held at Ed's tomorrow. He said he would & then kept me waiting while he did first one odd job then another. I hadn't felt well in the morning by the middle of the afterward when C. was ready to take the children I was so worn out that I had to go to bed. He did a small washing leaving the crying baby with me. I cried as hard as I felt like till my face was swollen & my hair straggly & then went to sleep."
- On the way home from Church in Upton Mary and family were caught in a cloud burst and took shelter in a nearby house:
- "I looked with envy at the sparkling cleanness of the linoleum on the floors, the ruffled white curtains, the snowy bedspread seen through the open bedroom door, the colors of the new braided rugs on the kitchen floor vieying [sic] with the geranium blooms in the windows. When at last we got back to our bleak dirty little shack I just threw myself face down on my bed and shut out the sight of it. Hours later I woke up. It was dark and still. Charles had fed the children, put them to bed and was himself asleep."
- Some neighbors owed Charles and Mary money, which Charles refused to pressure them for. Mary and Charles argued about this and Mary felt angry and frustrated by the situation and Charles's weak, evasive approach. On a picnic with these people Mary writes:
- "I was constantly thinking of whether or not to ask Mishie why Ed wouldn't pay us any of the money he owed us. Outwardly I was a member of a happy picnic party. Inwardly I was a seething furnace of resentment. No wonder I felt sick when I got home."
- One day Mary, desperate for a change from childcare, volunteered to hunt porcupines in the field at night. Charles agreed but added that she would be sorry she had made the bargin.
- July 28
- "He boosted me into the saddle on old Doll, and handing me a hoe told me how to use it to kill a porcupine. He told me how to stalk a porcupine, walking slowly behind it-a yard or two away from it so it couldn't swish its body around and fill my ankles with quills; and how to strike its neck with the hoe so as to kill it instantly. It had to be done while the animal was in motion because when a porcupine stops walking it draws its head up under its body."
- She gives a beautifully harrowing description of her adventure as she reluctantly kills three porcupines that night. Getting back on her horse at one point she caught her foot in the stirrup when the saddle slipped part way underneath the horse:
- "My ankle and knee were twisted so that I could hardly stand the pain. I thought, 'this is it, this is what I have been waiting for twenty-three years.' But good old Doll didn't budge, and I breathed a prayer of thankfulness. I somehow got my foot out and leaned against the horse for a few minutes."
- "Trek to grainfield-two miles with four babies. Like a sage hen and her chicks."
- The rest of the journal are notes copied from a class or books. There are quotes from Victor Hugo, Buddha and others.
- October 24
- "He [Charles] unloaded the car and then took us and went house hunting. We found only one house that was still for rent & it was $22.50 a month & small at that. After we got home C. called up Noel Pratt and learned that we could rent his house next door for $25.00 a month. We just about decided to take it. I couldn't sleep for thinking how grand it would be to be in a place by ourselves and yet be so near mother."
- "After much consideration we all decided that it would be best for C. and me to remain here with mother and Helen. Father was forced to give up Bluff Dale, but rather than let the government foreclose on it he signed it over to the Provo Resevoir Co. on condition that thev will sell it."
- February 11
- "We sometimes like to picture what we should do if the company which has a lease on Pine Cliff should fulfill our hopes of finding oil there."
- March 29
- "C. took me to the hospital where our third boy was born. We arrived there at 9:30 P.M. and the baby arrived at 10:20 P.M. I got along remarkably well while in the hospital but suffered from loneliness and worry. If I had been sicker my mind would have been occupied with other things than nostalgia."
- "We have company everyday and all day. Inez & Mrs. McKibben and Effie and our other neighbors who are not too busy. How I envy people who have time for visiting and yet when I think how blessed I am to be the mother of these four lovely children it passes my understanding."
- May 6
- "C. & I took our darling baby to meeting and had him blessed and named Kenneth Bennion Powell."
- May 22
- "I was trying to sort clothes and the children made me so nervous that I complained about it. C. said he would have to get another wife to take care of them. Well-I went to bed without eating supper."
- May 23
- "C. says he didn't mean it!"
- June 5
- "Rest is the only thing that will make me well. And by the time you get through resting you'll kick the bucket."
- June 17
- "When Ed pays us that $450 that he has been unable to pay for the last four years we can have a car of our own."
- It is apparent that the care of four very young children so close in age is a strain on Mary emotionally and physically.
- August 12
- "I was terribly ill during the evening and part of the night. I thought I was going to die. C. administered to me & finally I went to sleep."
- August 24
- "Felt very worn & weary on waking up this morning, but remembering what Ed wrote in his letter to father about it being my fault that we are poor because I make C. do most of the housework; and remembering also that he would probably be here to dinner, I turned loose on the house in a fury of haste and made it literally shine."
- August 25
- "Was so sick from overworking yesterday that I had to lie down most of the forenoon. My trouble and griefs rose up and haunted me till I wanted to scream. The baby was cross and Grant mischievious and would not leave me for one minute. At last I started to cry and the harder I tried to stop the more impossible it became. I was really alarmed and Grant was frightened too. After about an hour I managed by a supreme effort to check my sobs. As if it was the proper moment in the fairy tale for the godmother to appear, a beautiful new car drove into our yard, the driver announcing that it was ours. Lydia Welti Crabtree, her husband & little boy, brought the car out, at Lucile's request. Lucile and Conrad have turned their old ford in on our new one, lending us the $200 it was worth till Jan. next without interest, just as a favor to us, we giving them the chance of disposing of their car by buying from them. Ed and Mishie are deservedly mystified."
- April 18
- "We are out of money and don't know where to go to borrow. Charles could not go to work because he couldn't buy a gallon of gasoline to take him there. He took the few pennies I had in my purse and went up town to seek counsel of the bishop. I am so weak & have so much pain that I find it hard just to sit up and write these few words. Well they say the darkest hour is just before dawn, so I guess we must be going to get some relief soon."
- April 19
- "Not long after I wrote the above I bro't the mail in and there was a fifty dollar check in one of the letters. A loan to Charles from a friend of his. Today he succeeded in getting another fifty dollars from a company that is willing to trust him."
- April 30
- "If I could have a genuine rest from all vexations for a few weeks or months it would amount to a cure I am sure. But that is harder to get than medicines, hospital treatment or an operation simply because it is 'agin nature' to believe that curative measures can be anything but painful. However if I don't get a good rest and a little fun mixed in very soon I will be able to satisfy the skeptical by becoming sick enough to require a disagreeable and costly remedy. But in spite of the defects of my nature I can still be glad it isn't any worse and as long as I do my best to improve it I feel that the great law of compensation will make my life a happy one after all. Even now my blessings far out weigh my miseries."
- May 3
- "I just felt desperate this morning. About 10:45 we decided to go up and see Dr. Gill Richards. We left the children at Lucile's and went. The doctor was as kind and sensible as I remember him the year I had neuritis (1915-16). He advised us to spend the summer on the ranch because of the more easy and pleasant life possible there. He said that having four babies within four and a half years and being so poor as we have been, not being able to hire help would have broken down the health of a strong woman, and that I had been in no condition to undertake even the usual amount of work in a well to do home with one or two babies."
- Seeing her unhappiness as being outwardly caused Mary says that those people who owe Charles money are spending it on themselves for luxury items but she will do her best and "try to forget and even forgive the unrepentent ones who have caused our misery." Another cause of frustration and anger is her utter dependence upon her husband, as the patriarch of the household, that leaves her feeling powerless and frustrated.
- May 11 was Mother's Day and Mary went to see her parents, getting into a discussion with her father about 'dear Aunt Mayme'. Her father told her that Mayme had a ham and some groceries for them. Mary says:
- "After we got home and to bed I lay awake till nearly morning trying to decide just what we should do about that. I know Aunt Mayme never had a kind thought toward me in all her life and never will have and I just can't figure out what her motive is this time. I don't look forward to the visit with anything but dread, but perhaps, I should go for the sake of the children, just making sure as we can that they won't have to go hungry this summer. I have worked for Aunt Mayme without any pay when her family was small, I was her nurse when John was a baby, but I didn't do it because I wanted to but because father made me, and I don't want return favors from her. Father certainly owes me help because it was thru his coercion that I overworked and broke down before I was married. He said he would give us some groceries and now he makes it appear that we are accepting charity from Aunt Mayme, the worst enemy we have in the world. Oh how horribly sordid life can be at times."
- About Charles ability as a breadwinner Mary says:
- "We have to be so careful in choosing a place, to get one where we can be sure of making a living. Charles has had so little training along money making lines that it is hard to find just what he can handle successfully."
- "Well father and Aunt Mayme have a debt to pay which will be a heavier one than any that can be paid with money. They have not only broken mother's heart and darkened her whole life but robbed her of her oldest and noblest most promising daughter, [Ethelyn who died June 7, 1919] and made invalids or almost invalids of the other children by requiring that we work harder than we were able to. They are responsible for Rulon's misfortune, more I think than he himself, because father neglected him in order to be with the other family."
- May 19
- "We made our annual trip to the ranch."
- May 29
- "Snow bound. Storming heavily all day. About 8 inches of snow on the ground. Can't keep warm in the house without wearing our coats."
- Desperately in need of money Mary told Charles to ask his mother if she would return the money that he had given her before their marriage. Reluctantly Charles goes and instead asks his mother if she has made out a will. Mary writes:
- "She [his mother] was very indignant and said she was determined not to leave a cent when she should die. She said she was going to spend all she could for her own pleasure and she thought it very greedy of us to ask her to leave any of it for us."
- It seems that Mary and Charles have difficulties with Charles's relatives as well as her own. Mary writes about a time when Charles and her father were commiserating about the fact that Mary's invalidism was aggravating their condition of poverty and that she alone should suffer and not expect any help from anyone. Mary reacted rather strongly to this, needless to say, and as she put it:
- "I was frantic with pent up emotions and I displayed it by telling them how mean and unjust they are and of course said a number of insane things that I knew I didn't mean."
- Charles provides a complete rest of nine days for Mary sans children to recoupe. How does she spend her time? She is frightened of sleeping in the house alone so invites a ten year old girl to stay with her who cried from fright. Mary comforts her by telling stories to her "till nearly morning".
- July 14
- "Spent most of the day cleaning up the house. Stayed alone at night but was too nervous to sleep."
- July 16
- "After having remained awake last night until four A.M. I dressed and got to work bottling fruit. This finished I went to Sugar House."
- On the 20th of July Mary returns to Pine Cliff Ranch with Charles and the children. In August she writes:
- "Charles thinks I am dippy for keeping a diary. I know this one is punk. But sometimes it furnishes some wanted information and may contain a lesson or two for me. I don't know. If I get real sick I will order it burned."
- April 19
- "It is now 3:00 A.M. I have to keep putting musterole on Norma's chest and her cough doesn't get any better. I am about exhausted with worry and lack of sleep. I feel greatly tired in my spirit over things that are not my fault or Charles's or the children's. I am almost heart broken with the long continued strain of puzzling problems, anxieties, and misunderstandings. I will say that it is all directly due to poverty. I am getting morbid about it. Too much repression and not being able to talk it out with anyone is beginning to break me down."
- August 31
- "I have heard so much about the beneficial effects on the body of sun baths that I got Charles to build an out door sun room for me which I entered thru my bedroom window. That I crawled out onto the ironing board which rested on the window sill and on a horizontal piece of wood in a framework of the sun alcove. The first time I used it I stayed out too long and blistered my back and it was three weeks getting well."
- This seems typical of Mary's problematical "out of the frying pan and into the fire" sort of existence.
- July 24
- "We all went to see the big 'Covered Wagon Days Parade'. But we didn't get the see the covered wagons because they all dropped out before the parade reached Sixth East where we were."
- Mary writes her New Year's Resolutions:
- "Resolved-1. To carry on a family and personal health regime. 2. To keep account of all money spent. 3. To be calm and hopeful and kind to all including myself. 4. To keep up my personal appearance and attend church."
- January 5
- "Father was worse this morning and talked about being resigned to die. I know that he could get well if he had the proper treatment."
- She remembers being sent to a "fake" sanitarium presided over by a friend [of her family's]:
- "I begged them not to send me to this place, knowing from my first glimpse of the man who claimed to be a nerve specialist that he couldn't possibly be one. But they let him and his wife carry me off forcibly and left me to their evil designs and the damage they did to my already extremely sick nerves has never been and can never be remedied."
- "I didn't get up till nine o'clock. I must rest enough to prevent a collapse but it is the hardest thing in the world for me to do. Even when I am lying down my whole body is tense and I can't relax."
- January 21
- "Father died. He had been in the hospital five days. The doctors were unable to discover the cause of his death until the very last. They pronounce it pernicious anemia. Pres. Grant was there and had his secretary take down all that was said in short hand and later had type written copies made."
- In 1933 Mary begins to make and sell braided rugs to help support her family. With this money she paid for the family's dental work, for their summer coal supply and so forth.
- "For the first time in history some of our family went to a moving picture show on Sunday. Little Women was the play being shown."
- December 25
- "The children were all happy or seemed to be with their meagre gifts."
- Mary had a sixth and final child in March of 1934, whom they named Lyman.
- "God bless them and reward them with better opportunities for gaining complete happiness than from their parents, grandparents, or great grandparents had."
- April 4
- "Our baby is six weeks old today. I had to stay in bed for three weeks after coming home from the hospital. A nurse hired by the Metropolitan Life Insurance company used to come nearly every morning and give me a bath, but the bulk of the nursing of both me and the baby fell to Charles' lot."
- In this era of depression in the early thirties, when the Relief Society of the Mormon Church visit Mary their message is:
- "A much better remedy for such distress would be to teach people that it need not be endured, but rather find ways to abolish it."
- "Ever since I read in the lives of Joseph Smith and Heber C. Kimball about their embracing the principle of polygamy I have felt terrible over it. I don't know why I should feel more so now than when I had to see mother going thru the trial of living it. Father and many seemingly concientious [sic] men wrote pages and pages of reasons why polygamy is the best form of marriage for the human race at all times."
- Mary is genuinely obsessed with how her father's polygamy has ruined her life.
- One of Mary's strongest points was her intellectual curiosity. She continued to be an avid reader and interested in many issues.
- "I organized a woman's club in Taylorsville, the first one in history, but resigned within a few months, because the other members flatly refused to take up any subject or subjects of study. I hadn't time for a purely social club. Last winter I taught the combined Senior and Adult classes of the M.I.A. here. I engaged about a dozen very fine speakers from Salt Lake and because of their visits and the fact that Dr. John A. Widtsoe wrote our lessons we had a very successful season. For three and a half years the Mormon Handcraft Society has been selling my rugs for a twenty-five percent commission."
- "If I had to choose between being the richest person (in money) in the world and being the mother of my six wonderful children, well you know such a thing as a choice between the two would never enter my mind. I am really a powerful capitalist already. My capital consists of the undivided love of a good husband, the love and miraculous unfolding into the light, of these six jewels among the young, our children."
- Mary writes about an incident that is triggered by receiving an invitation from the Naval Reserve Air Base at Oakland to attend its formal dedication in which her son Bennion will be part of a demonstration flight. She says:
- November 3
- "Remembering the indescribable thrill that came to me as I watched Lois march across the University campus in her cap and gown, I longed with all my heart to see Bennion gliding with shining silver wings over the heads of thousands of admiring spectators. Then knowing that a mere lack of money was going to prevent me from experiencing this great happiness, I picked up the phone and called Aunt Augusta's number."
- Mary was loaned the money and contacted Charles Grant and Lois and told them to make arrangements so they would leave that night for California. Mary hurriedly washed, ironed, cleaned, etc. That evening Mary had a change of heart, realizing that she would be expected to repay the money needed for this trip. She writes:
- "How could I pay her back? We were unable to pay our current bills and debts. I knew it then with a deadly certainty. We just weren't going."
- When she told her family this she says:
- "All I heard was the same muffled exclamations of incredulity from each sleepy child. Charles wasn't surprised, he was also greatly relieved. I broke into a storm of choked sobbing inspite of my efforts to keep calm. I was ashamed of what I had done. The whole thing had been crazy."
- Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor Mary who seems to have believed false rumors of attack on the West Coast writes:
- December 10
- I'm glad Bennion was called away from Oakland because the West Coast was attacked just one week after he left here for the Texas camp.
- Now I suppose both Grant and Kenneth will be drafted into training soon because it was announced over the radio that the government is planning to lower the age limit to eighteen. As long as we have to go to war, the more of us that can fight, the sooner we will win victory."
- Mary empathizes with a friend whose predicament she identifies with her own.
- "A week ago last Friday it was Mrs. Finlayson's turn to entertain the club. She phoned that she would have to postpone doing it until the following week and later said she couldn't do it at all because her health was too poor. I sympathize with her. She has to do the housework and never feels able to. And yet she is quite fat, about like I am, and looks quite well."
- It seems that Mary equates being fat with looking fit and well.
- Mary is now 58 years old. In this, the last journal of hers in the collection, there is little mention of physical illness or poverty. She does have arthritis of the spine for which she takes vitamin B, but life doesn't appear to be the constant crisis where physical and financial collapse appears imminent. She enjoys a summer visit from her grandchildren. Lyman and Daddy as she now calls Charles are the only ones left at home. She always liked to have people around, having grown up in a large and close family herself.
- October 12
- "Was elected to teach one of three courses to be given this year in the adult class in Mutual."
- She remains active in her church and intellectual pursuits.
- The final entry of her journal is:
- October 18
- "Wrote a letter to Dr. Kimball Young of Northwestern University for a bibliography on monogamy."
- The issue of polygamy versus monogamy stayed with her all her life.
- This folder consists of three portions of short stories written by Mary, two of which were obviously submitted for a writing class. Short story by Mary Bennion Powell, "The End of Childhood", is an account of Mary's realization that her father was a polygamist. The end of childhood is symbolic of the end of her innocence. She feels shattered and betrayed. She gives a beautiful description of the good life she and the rest of her large family enjoyed, spending two weeks every summer on a camping trip in the pine and sagebrush scented sunlight of the Chalk Creek Canyons where they ran wild and free and all cares faded away.
- Mary becomes aware and puzzled by the tension and hostility she senses between her parents. All is not as it used to be. One day she finds a note written to her father signed only "M". She writes:
- "Surely I knew about polygamy; that it had in the early years of the Church, been practiced by such men as Brigham Young. But I also knew about the Manifesto. We learned all about the church's history in Sunday School. Papa had not only disobeyed the law of the United States and was not on trial before that law, but he had gone against the advice of President Woodruff who had counseled all the men of the church not to practice that principle any more."
- Another short piece is a fictionalized account of incidents in Mary's childhood, involving her siblings. Once her brother was beaten for letting the cows out and once her sister had had her gums lanced to allow new teeth to emerge more easily. Mary was protective of the children and frightened by the adults in her world.
- Another beginning of a story is set in an Ogden train terminal and the speaker [Mary] is in the early stages of a first pregnancy feeling overwhelmed with nausea and loneliness, and wondering what will happen if she faints. She reads a newspaper with the Germans in the headlines. It is 1918 and the first World War is raging.
"A Utah Idyll," Chapters 1-2
- Chapters I and II of Mary's life story "A Utah Idyll" consists of 129 typewritten pages. This is a fictionalized history of Mary's family. It begins:
- "In the sagebrush territory of Deseret, two babies were born to four adoring parents in the year 1857. All four parents were members of the Mormon church, especially Brother and Sister Bennett of Stayville, who had obeyed the counsel of Brigham Young to embrace polygamy, the only principle which had the power to admit a man or a woman into the highest glory in the Celestial Kingdom."
- All the names in this piece of writing are fictionalized, but the facts seem close to the actual accounts of Mary's parents and grandparents, perhaps embellished for effect. She writes about the Bennion brothers adding wives to their small, but fast growing families.
- "The first plural wife they allowed to be chosen by their faithful companion, but the next they managed to wed with out her help. There was a calm stoicism on the occasion of the first plural marriage, which lasted until the second one was consummated, and then hysterical jealousy on the part of the first wives, from that moment onward, till old age quieted all the impulses of the mind. As the years went by many devices were adoped with varying success: marrying a group of friends, of sisters, or a mother and her daughters. Many widows and old maids joined the church, in those riotous days of freely selected husbands, partly because they were told it was the privilege of a woman to marry whom she pleased, and that Brigham Young, himself, enforced this rule."
- On the subject of Brigham Young's revelations she says:
- "One of these divine directives resulted in the tearing down of the nearly built Bennett cabins on a tract of land in the center of the valley, and their re-erection on the west side of the Jordan River. The land the Bennett brothers had settled on, God had remembered, after the land had been plowed and fenced and was known to be the most fertile soil in the valley, was meant to a 'church farm'. But God had been a little confused at the time, apparently, because it wasn't long until this farm was deeded to the private estate of Brigham Young."
- This cynicism and bitterness pervades Mary's narration. The saddest commentary on polygamy is the following:
- "Because the first wife was both so angry and influential, the younger wives were not permitted to display affection even for their children in her presence."
- Mary's father told her this story:
- "He could remember following his mother about the house, trying in vain to attract her attention. His father was always carrying Petsy, his half-sister of the same age, in his arms. He would ache all over to be held, and petted and kissed as she was. He would lean hard against his mother, to try to get her to pick him up, or just touch him, as everyone did so lovingly to Petsy. But she never even looked at him. Many years later, his mother told him that the place on her knee where he had leaned, would ache after he had gone outside to play."
- Mary recalls the myths of her childhood:
- "Don't pay a full tithing to the penny and you'll be burned in hell."
- "Eat on Fast Day, and you'll be feeding the Devil."
- "Don't bear your testimony and God will be ashamed of you."
- "Think mean thoughts about your father after he hits you hard and you'll be dishonoring the priesthood, which is the same as insulting God."
- "Disobey your parents and you won't live to be old."
Mary Bennion Powell Journals
Use photocopies instead of originals.
Mary Bennion Powell Journals
Use photocopies instead of originals.