Americana Collection

BX

8670.1

.T2138

2016

L. Tom Perry Special Collections Harold B. Lee Library Brigham Young University

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY

97 23997 4691

Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2019 with funding from Brigham Young University

https://archive.org/details/wordsworksautobiOOtayl

Words and Works

Autobiography

George Terry Taylor

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter

Page

Introduction

iii

1

Seeds and Roots

1

2

Dreams and Reveries

49

3

My Home on the Hill

55

4

Our Home in the Canyon

71

5

Reading

85

6

History

93

7

Sports

99

8

Music

113

9

Drama

125

10

Science

139

11

Numbers

149

12

Philosophy

159

13

My British Mission

165

14

Education

217

15

Scouting

245

16

Work

261

17

Sweet Religion

273

18

The Missionary Training Center

287

19

The Priesthood

309

20

Debra Sue Wagstaff

319

21

A Mission to Las Vegas

335

22

Pets

355

23

Hiking

359

24

My Homes

381

25

A Mission to the Philippines MTC

389

26

Holidays and Special Days

439

27

Women in My Life

445

28

My Boys

461

29

Death

475

30

Last Words

487

ii

Introduction

I visualize and review the seasons of my life: springtime, summer, autumn, and winter. I am now approaching winter’s moods and moments. My body, my plot of earth, will become cold and fallow. As I look back upon events, I am astounded, if not startled, by the swiftness of the passing years. Where did they all go? Life is so short, especially in retrospect.

This thought, reminds me of undergoing a surgery a few years ago. I thought to myself, “Hmmm... I think that I shall observe and experience the full effect of this medical experience. What will it be like to experience going to sleep under the anesthetic which will put me out my mind! Can I consciously watch what happens to me during this brief moment of pain?”

Well, I started the count-up to 10. “One, Two, Thr . and I was out

cold! Three hours later, I wake up in the recovery room, and ask myself, slapping my face, “WHAT WAS THAT?!” I had missed it all. The time had gone in an instant, and now, becoming groggily awake, I wondered what had really gone on, or gone by? I was definitely changed whether for the better or worse, I was not quite sure.

Perhaps birth, life, and death are like that. The prophet says, “...the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream...” (Jacob 7:26). When I wake up on the other side of “the veil”, will I say to myself, “WHAT WAS THAT!” Life went by at “an instant suddenly!” It was over before I really began to realize what it was all about. I hope I can apply these ancient words:

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. (Hosea 10:12)

I begin my personal history with referencing my fore-bearers who planted seeds of faith and devotion in the soil of Utah and in the soil of my own soul!

The seeds of their toil and endurance through times of trial, even great tribulation, have sown in my life, growing roots of faith and trust in the Lord

in

Jesus Christ. This root-structure, first planted by my ancestors, has engendered what I desire to be a lasting legacy of love and devotion to the restored gospel.

Each of my chapters provides another window to peek into the home of my soul. I hope that I will not be too embarrassed by those who may gawk or guffaw at my silly and ridiculous whims. I am already ashamed of the personal braggadocio and self-aggrandizing of my egocentric words.

What I would want is that each chapter demonstrates the cutting of another facet in the gem of my personal life. I trust that the Stone of Israel will continue to crush, cut, shape and polish the rough-hewn hardness within me, Perhaps someday, I may come forth gleaming with all of my facets smooth and complete. Perhaps, someday, my joy will be full when I rise up from the dust and dirt within me, on that hopeful, joyful resurrection morning!

IV

ONE

Seeds and Roots

Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, ...and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God,

...and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up.

Mormon 7:5

I have read some of the history of my ancestors. At times I have been flooded with emotional feelings of love and awe for their lives their childhood, their romances, families, their dreams and sacrifices, and their intense sufferings.

I cannot write about my own life without referencing and remembering the enormous blessings I have inherited because of them. I briefly survey the lives of the sets my great-grandparents. All of them listened to the message of the restoration of the gospel, were baptized, joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and committed themselves to lives of devotion and fidelity to the Church and to their families. I also briefly reflect on the lives of my grandparents and parents.

Tears of gratitude, of joy and of sorrow, have rolled down my cheeks from time to time as I have read of their lives. I hope in that coming world, to fall down before them with my expressions of thanks. I have feelings of guilt and fear for being unworthy of their examples and for not measuring up to their expectations.

1

Seeds and Roots

My Great-grand Parents

George Taylor, Sr.1

The name of “George” is a family name. It has been handed down in the family for four generations. John Goodall, Registrar in the sub-district of Duddeston and Echelle, in the County of Warwick, England, recorded that a boy by the name of GEORGE was bom on March 25, 1838, at Windsor Street in the Parish of Aston, to Thomas Taylor and Ann Taylor, formerly Hill.

I remember my father, Lynn among so many brothers and uncles, saying that when one might get confused with somebody in the family, they would just refer to each other as “George.” “George, come here, George, go there! George do this, or George do that!” I am unsure as to where the saying came from, but, “Let George do it!” is a fitting application in our ancestral family.

At the early age of eight, my great-grandpa George went in search for work and when asked what he could do he answered, “I can leam if I may try.” His formal education was for only a week. He wanted to work, rather than remain in school. Yet, he had a strong desire for accumulating knowledge. In his first job, as an errand boy, his weekly wage was one shilling, which he gave all to his mother Ann, except for a penny which he saved for himself. With his savings, he bought a dictionary, an arithmetic and a spelling book.

While on his errands, he would see the advertising signs posted on the buildings and would puzzle out the words, thus he taught himself to read. In his spare time, he would leam music and art. Later in his life, by reading magazines, he became a superb photographer, one of the first professionals in Utah, building a relatively successful business.

As a young man, he and some friends became interested in the messages of Elder Joseph Howard and other Utah missionaries for a new church in the area. On March 3, 1 855, in the latter part of his 1 6th year, George was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints. He and his friends formed an orchestra in the small branch. In the Ashted Branch Choir in Birmingham, England, he met a refined and attractive young woman of the same age, Eliza Nicholls. Both were members of the Church, and at age 19, they were married on July 5, 1857 in the Edgbaston

2

Seeds and Roots

Parish Church in the County of Warwick, England by I. Spooner, Vicar of the Church of England.

George was ambitious and “high-minded.” He married an unselfish and devoted girl who loved him and worked with him. They worked and saved and skimped and struggled for six years until they finally had enough to pay for the ocean voyage and then to somehow make the long arduous journey to Utah. George said often to Eliza, “If only we can get there by the skin of our teeth, I will sure be happy.”

And it was literally by the “skin of our teeth.” As they passed over London Bridge on their way to the London docks, they had only a tuppence (4 cents) left to make the rest of the way. “What they lacked in cash was made up in courage and determined faith.”

They arrived at Castle George Taylor, Sr. Gardens, New York City in July

1863. Their friend Joseph Harris loaned them money to continue their trek west. It was a rough and perilous trip. They were stuffed in a box car like cattle with straw for their bed at night.

On June 4, 1 863, George, Eliza and their three children, Harriet Clarissa (5) Mary Ann Emma (3) and Parley George, (10 months) left London, England on the sailing vessel, Amazon for a 7-week voyage to America. It was on this dock and this ship that Charles Dickens boarded the Amazon and made his now famous observation and report of the Mormon passengers, “the Pick and Flower of England.” Great-grandfather and Great¬ grandmother George and Eliza and family being among the passengers.

3

Seeds and Roots

Little Emma, the frailest of the three children died. When the train stopped, the undertaker was waiting and took the body of the little girl. After efforts to find where she was buried, she was never located.

From St. Joseph to Florence, they traveled on the Missouri River by boat. George and little Parley G. became intensely ill. The child died three days out from St. Joseph, was taken off the boat and buried in Florence. Gratefully for Eliza and her faithful prayers, George recovered. The rest of the trek westward, George drove a wagon and yoke of three oxen to help defray the cost of travel. They arrived in Salt Lake City on October 4, 1863.

Leaving mother and daughter in Salt Lake City with friends, George traveled to Provo to establish their home. He did odd jobs, one of which was that of hod carrier for the brick masons working on the Provo Tabernacle.

After a month, he secured a one room log house, with no doors, windows or wood floors. Later he traded a valuable soldier outfit in his possession, including gun and sword, in exchange for a two room, adobe house, earlier used as a sheep pen. It had a dirt roof, dirt floor; the windows had to be covered with a blanket to keep out the storms. The dirt roof had to be continually repaired to stop the leaks. They were now in Provo, Utah, “by the skin of their teeth!”

As approved by Church leaders, on March 5, 1864, George took a second wife, Henrietta Sawyer, a beautiful and good girl of 1 8, to the Salt Lake Endowment House where she, Eliza, and he were married and sealed together.

In this little two-room adobe home, four more of Eliza’s children (George Thomas, William, who died 14 months later, Thomas Nicholls, and Arthur Nicholls) and three of Henrietta’s (Joseph, who died two years later, Henrietta, and Mary Ann-“Polly”) were bom. These two wonderful, choice women shared equally their resources and household responsibilities, endeavoring to live in support, peace and harmony in their home. No doubt there were enormous emotional, financial and spiritual challenges to the young growing family. They became the mothers and grandmothers of future stalwart leaders of the Church and community.

4

Seeds and Roots

Day-by-day and year by year, George’s creative spirit and industrious nature developed economic growth through many and varied enterprises. These are described in greater detail in George Taylor, Sr. and His Family.

Through trial and tragedy, the families grew and suffered, prospering at times and enduring many tests of faith.

Throughout his life, George was known and respected as a hard and honest worker, teaching his family principles of exactness and integrity in keeping labor and financial commitments. Two very familiar adages attributed to him were, “His word is as good as his bond,” and “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Some of the family characteristic and dominant traits of his life were thrift and frugality, traits planted in the lives of his posterity.

George became embittered towards local church leaders who could not support his efforts to sustain his depositors and to keep his bank solvent during a financial crises and panic. As an original stockholder and director on the board of the First National Bank of Provo, he said he was “kicked out because I would not consent to unnecessary extravagance in Bank building and other doings”.

For these, and perhaps other reasons, he withdrew from church activity and developed ill feelings towards others, even members of his own family. He eventually separated from his wives. He married three other women over time. In his later life, he was aloof from others, angry and despondent with his circumstances. Yet, several of his children and grandchildren saw a vein of goodness and a remnant of kindness within him.

I have anticipation and every expectation that all such discordant feelings and relationships, may be swept away in the due time of the Lord. The Lord’s atoning mercy for the repentant spirit, is like the morning sun melting away all darkened feelings, and illuminating with hope and love, life’s disappointments and distractions.

I believe after the bufferings (which we may all face in some measure), that Grandpa George will rise up from his soured, discordant and cankered attitudes. Through receiving our “stripes” and further learning obedience, we may shed them like the butterfly sheds the chrysalis.

5

Seeds and Roots

I believe that in the spirit world and before the resurrection, we can have time and opportunity to reconcile our wrongs and overcome our blunders through obedience to the ordinances. I know that we must pay dearly for our sins if we do not repent it will not be simply a matter of receiving “a few stripes and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 28:8). But, the Lord does not forget His promises and covenants with His children, even when we may forget. There can be a new day of love, forgiveness and hope, to move forward into eternal life, for those who choose to do so.

On the south side of his granite monument in the Provo Cemetery, his inscription reads:

George Taylor, Sr.

March 25, 1838 September 4, 1926

“He earned his rest

Eliza Nicholls Taylor2

My Great-grandmother Eliza’s own mother, Harriett Ball, after the death of her first husband John Patterson, married Thomas Ashford Nicholls. Thomas served in the British Army as a gun furniture polisher, moving from one garrison to another. They soon had three children Mary Ann Emma, Elizabeth, and Frederick. Both Elizabeth and Frederick died before reaching maturity. Never settling long enough to own a home, they were stationed in Dublin, Ireland; Portsmouth, Dover, Chatham, and Birmingham, England.

Eliza Nicholls, the fourth child, was bom on April 29, 1838 in Portsmouth, South Hampton, England. Following Eliza’s birth, probably in Dover, between 1840 and 1843, Harriett, Eliza’s mother, gave birth to daughters Harriett, and Phoebe, and a son, Thomas. Both Phoebe and Thomas died as children.

In 1845, in Chatham, Harriett Ball Nicholls’ gave birth to William. Harriett’s youngest child, John was bom, probably in Birmingham, where he also died as a child.

By the time Eliza was eight years of age, her family had moved back to Birmingham, where her father had been pensioned from Her Majesty’s service.

6

Seeds and Roots

Eliza was a beautiful child. At the age of five or six, she learned the alphabet in school, but it was not until she came to Utah where she leaned to read and write by copying from Church publications.

Eliza’s father and mother were strict, religious people, active members of the Church of England. The touching story of Eliza’s conversion and commitment to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is told in George Taylor, Sr. and His Family.

Wanting to assist with the finances of the family, Eliza went to work in the local button factory during the day and hoped to go to night school to continue her education. By age fifteen, she had been put in full charge of covering buttons with silk, satin, velvet and other cloth fabrics. For this work,

she was receiving a grown woman’s wages. During this time, her father Thomas died on June 1 7, 1 854. Her mother died just seven months later on February 12, 1855.

I try to imagine the struggles this young woman endured. Her mother had experienced the loss of five of her children and two husbands. Now Eliza as a teenager along with her older sister Mary Ann Emma, younger sister Harriet Nicholls, and younger surviving brother Eliza Nicholls William Nicholls, were left

alone as orphans. She took upon

her the responsibility of providing for the remaining family members.

Eliza’s acquaintance with her future husband in the Ashted Branch of the Church in Birmingham and their endeavors to travel to Zion in Utah is tragic and inspiring. Almost losing her husband George, and losing two of

7

Seeds and Roots

their three children, Emma and Parley in the journey. Such a trek must have been daunting and overwhelming to Eliza. It was a prelude to her difficult, poignant future life.

Later, in answer to her fervent prayer, about the principle of polygamy, she had a remarkable spiritual vision and visitation from the Prophet Joseph Smith. In her thankfulness, she prayed, “O Lord! Help me to do unto others as I would be done by.” The Lord gave her strength. She made this prayer her life’s motto.

As a mother of seven sons, and three daughters, Eliza was revered and honored. She loved and helped “Aunt Mary” raise her noble family as well. During times of great family challenge, her sons stood by her and raised her up, providing security and honor for her. She was made president of the newly formed Taylor Brothers Company, by her sons.

One of Eliza’s grand-daughters, Delenna T. Taylor summed up some of her many wonderful qualities:

“Faith in God Willingness to work

Tolerance and understanding of other people Cleanliness and order A sense of humor.

Her fifth son, Arthur Nicholls Taylor, my Grandfather, married Maria Louise Dixon, the only daughter among eight children of Henry Aldous Dixon and Sarah DeGrey Dixon. Eliza became close friends with Sarah and her family. Later in life, the two Grandmothers stayed together in Wildwood, in the grandmother’s spare room, in Provo Canyon. They would often sit together in their two wicker rocking chairs, brought in by Arthur, on the porch observing passer-bys, singing and teaching their many grandchildren. It was a most sweet relationship for the Dixon and Taylor families joining together in bonds of love, industry, and charity.

Promises of eternal joy and wealth are given to her in her patriarchal

blessing:

8

Seeds and Roots

“Thou art a blessed woman and all that know thee love thee; the righteous shall always honor thee and thousands of children shall grow up to maturity and remember the council thou hast given them... Thy name shall be recorded as one of the saviours on Mount Zion. Holy men and Prophets shall bless thee. ”3

Henry Aldous Dixon4

Among the 1820 settlers of South Africa, were John Henry Dixon of West Ham, London, and Judith Boardman at Newberry, Lancaster, England. Their second child and first son, Henry Aldous Dixon, was bom March 14, 1835 at Grahamstown, Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

Henry’s older sister by eight years, Anne Judith Dixon Hartman, was very fond of her younger brother. They were close in their affections throughout their lives, even though separated by large distances and religious differences. Henry also had four half-sisters and one half-brother, all older and matured by the time he reached school age. His mother Judith was the daughter of the Reverend William Boardman, the first Colonial Minister of the Church of England. Henry was reared in a pious and loving household.

“As a young lad, Henry loved nature, spending much of his time on the open veldt watching the trees, admiring the flowers and foliage, and studying the habit of the many and varied birds and animals.” From the records, it appears he had a happy family, childhood, and a productive youth.

At age 14, Henry became an excellent penman and worked as a copying clerk and a collector. He was equally proficient in writing with either hand. The only way to tell the difference was the slant of his words. When he tired with one hand, he would switch to the other. He also worked in a retail and wholesale store and for a few years at blacksmithing and wagon-making.

At 15, he volunteered in a British expedition beyond the confines of British territory, under the direction of the Governor of the Cape. The volunteers consisted of 7000 men, a motley group consisting of former English Regulars, volunteer Dutch Boers, friendly Kaffirs, Hottentots, Fingoes, and a rough crowd of mounted sailor lads named as the “awkward squad. “I was subjected to many temptations to drink, swear, etc. In consequence of my aversion to such practices I was at times forced to sleep out of the tent.” 5

9

Seeds and Roots

With his companions, they helped in capturing 10,000 head of cattle. He saved his share of the prize money which allowed him to defray his expenses in his immigration to England and America.

In later years, he would draw pictures of animals, birds, natives, trees, houses and other things on the nail of his thumb for children all over the neighborhood. He would tell fascinating stories of Africa. Two stories he told his children were about: 1) a boa-constrictor snake who swallowed a goat and then would go into a torpid stupor. 2) The selfish monkey who would put his little fist into a hollowed out squash gourd to retrieve the grain inside and then refuse to release his hold, thus getting caught. My father Lynn also told me this story when I was a small boy.

In 1854, as a young 19-year old, and as “a staunch Episcopalian” Henry received the teachings of the first missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I quit going to church and attended regularly the meetings of the Saints. [I] was subject to taunts and jeers of my companions; [I] was called names... I continued in this condition for about two years, assailed by ministers and members of nearly every sect.”

His father prohibited him from joining the Church with the threat that he would be cut off without a shilling of inheritance. Respecting his father’s wishes, he waited until reaching his majority, the day of his 21st birthday, March 14, 1856.

He was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints at Uitenhage.

“My father was a stern man, just as most of the patriarchs of that day were. We, my brothers and sisters, and I were bound by his word. My Mother, who interceded when father attempted to inflict punishment, was devoted to her family.

There was a bond of love existing, especially between my mother, my older sister, and I, that gave us peace.

Following Henry’s conversion, his father’s words to him were, “This day you have chosen between your family and the filthy Mormon lot. You will leave this house for it is no longer your home.

10

Seeds and Roots

His father left the room in a rage, with his mother following, weeping and pleading to Henry’s father to not to be so harsh.

It was very difficult to leave his family and the land which he loved. “Yes, the ties were strong, but with the decision my father had rendered, I felt that I could no longer be happy there but had to be severed in my search for something greater and far more enduring.”6

After earning passage on the sailing vessel, Unity, he traveled first to London, and then on to America on the ship George Washington, arriving in March 1857. A few months later, he joined Captain Jesse Martin’s company, arriving in Salt Lake City, on September 12, 1857. In the company, he saw a pretty little 12-year old girl, Sarah DeGrey from Dudley, England, who would run alongside the wagons. Little did Henry know that she would become his future bride.

“I journeyed across the 1500 miles to Salt Lake City by ox wagon, following the path of the exodus of modern Israel escaping from bondage. All along the way were the graves of men, women and children that had died in the great trek for freedom of worship. ...I stopped long enough to assemble ...outside of the Valley, that were ready to protect this hard earned liberty, even if it meant death, from the armies of the United States that were on their way to exterminate their faith...

Sometime after arriving in Salt Lake City, Henry was called by Brigham Young to return to London to serve a mission and then on again to South Africa. “My mother received me with open arms;” my father was more friendly to me but his friendliness soon faded and he returned to his anger.

Henry had many trials and dangerous life-threatening encounters on his mission. Again, Henry had to leave his loved ones, for the last time. “I took my leave and departed... never to see my family again... I felt that I had done my duty to them so I served my mission honorably and returned home, with the spirit of testimony burning within me.”7

11

Seeds and Roots

After several years of faithful missionary service he returned to Zion, married now 20-year old Sarah and then a second wife, Mary Smith, also from England. He served as the Clerk in the Tithing House in SLC. They finally settled in Provo, Utah, finding employment in the Provo Woolen Mills.

Henry served in several responsible positions. In 1871, he moved with his two wives and families From Salt Lake City to Provo to a newly constructed adobe house. On October 9, 1879, in rather poor health at the time, he answered the call to serve another mission to Great Britain, leaving his two wives with five children each. It was a great sacrifice for him and for his family to make. They were left to support each other in his absence.

On the passage on the steamship Arizona , they hit an iceberg which left a gaping hole in the ship just above the water edge, shearing both anchors. Four thousand gallons of water poured into the bulkhead. Two or three sailors were buried in the ice in the forecastle.

I called the boys together during the excitement and prayed the Lord to enable us to avert the calamity that it might be no worse. We exercised our Priesthood, prayed for a calm and we might live, all on board, get to our destination, also the vessel. We went below to our cabins, prayed frequently according to the

Henry Aldous Dixon

Henry Aldous Dixon n , 7 ~ 7

Priesthood, jor a calm

sea and no wind, as this

is apparently our salvation temporarily. During the night I went on deck and... rebuked the winds and waves. We have

12

Seeds and Roots

a calm sea. [Our] Prayers [are] answered. ...I promised no lives would be lost or ship either, in the name of the Lord. ”8

No lives were lost. The ship limped into the port of St. Johns, Newfoundland. The passengers transferred to the ship Nevada, and Henry went on to fulfill and serve his mission.

The captain and crew members said their survival was nothing short of a miracle. Word of the accident was taken to the owner of the ship. He asked if there were any Mormons aboard. When told there were four, he went back to bed and said he knew the vessel would land safe. “For forty years, they had been carrying Mormons. No ship was lost. It paid them better than insurance.”

Henry returned to his home in November 1880, gained employment and began to prosper with his families. When his father died, Henry did receive his full inheritance. A brief summary of his remarkable life

He served in the fight against Johnston’s Army

He was appointed as the Bookkeeper in the Provo Woolen Mills

He was the Utah County Treasurer

He was the first manager of ZCMI in the Provo store.

He owned two farms in Provo.

He served four missions, two to England and one to South Africa.

He was a missionary and a pioneer to Santa Clara, Utah.

He was a wonderful husband and father to a large posterity

Brigham Young said of Henry Aldous Dixon,

“Of all the men I know and trust, Henry A. Dixon is the one man I could trust with all my wealth and with all wealth of the land, knowing full well that it would be all accounted for, in detail, when I desired.

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Seeds and Roots

Dixon Family Crest

My cousin, Anthony Hansen Taylor,

(“Cousin Tony”) a fine artist, a great story teller and a wonderful humorist prepared a “Dixon Family Crest” for the amusement of the family.

In the top left hand comer is a lion representing the King of Beasts of South Africa the birthplace of my Great grandfather Henry Aldous Dixon.

In the top right hand comer is the sailing ship “Unity” in which he sailed to come to America in 1856.

In the bottom left hand comer is the covered wagon and ox my Great grandfather drove across the plains.

In the bottom right hand comer is an elm tree he planted at his home site in Provo which was still standing 100 years later.

In the center of the crest is a distinguished looking gentleman with a full crop of red hair a Dixon “trademark,” as so many of Great¬ grandfather’s posterity inherited this characteristic.

This same gentleman is attired in a suit of long red underwear the course Woolen Mills factory material worn by the Dixon children and in abundant display all up and down 5 th West in Provo on the Dixon drying lines on washday.

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Seeds and Roots

Around the edges written in black lettering is the following motto:

“Be Pretty if you are; be witty if you can , but be cheerful if it kills you!”

I have thought often about that motto. I am not one of those people of great wit. It’s difficult for me to tell a joke in good humor. I would like to think that I have tried to be cheerful during my life. I have failed many times! The Lord teaches that we should let our light shine before others.9 I have liked and sometimes applied the following quotation from a wonderful old book, The Secret of Achievement., published in 1898, the same year my father was bom:

“We can make life largely what we wish , through education and control of the will. The bright, cheerful man makes a cheerful world around him. The melancholy, morose, fretful, disjointed, sarcastic, critical dyspeptic, bilious, gloomy man creates a world around him which is the reflection of his own mood. Some people have the power of making summer wherever they go. They infuse light and joy and happiness and beauty into everybody they meet. If you meet one of them on the street, he will throw a stream of sunlight onto your soul which will light up the whole day. Others carry discord, gloom, and despair everywhere. If they talk with you but a minute, they will manage to cast a dark shadow across the whole day, and send a chill through your body. One has the power of making the best of everything, of not only looking at the bright, but the brightest, side of things. He finds peace and comfort everywhere. 10

David O. McKay, who called me to be a missionary to England, said,

There are seeds of happiness planted in every human soul. Our mental attitude and disposition constitute the environment in which these seeds may germinate. There is as much need for sunshine in the heart as for sunshine in the world. Today as perhaps never before, mankind needs encouragement and cheer.

15

Seeds and Roots

It is a duty to seek and acquire the art of being cheerful. “A cheerful spirit is one of the greatest gifts ever bestowed upon humanity by a kind Creator. It is the sweetest and most fragrant flower of the spirit that constantly sends out its beauty and fragrance and blesses everything within its reach. ”u

No wonder, they called 5th West in Provo, where the Dixon children all grew up, “Sandy Alley!” Their red hair and red woolen underwear strewn along the clothes lines were indicative of the extensive Dixon family. Their good will and good cheer is the legacy of their great family.

On the other hand, making a show of “positive mental attitude” (PMA) is hardly a good exercise, which I will reflect on later in this book.

On May 4, 1884, at age 49, tragedy struck the Dixon families. Henry Aldous Dixon passed away having been stricken with pneumonia and leaving his two wives and 16 children without their husband and father. Hardly a time for good cheer! Great challenges lay ahead for his family.

Sarah DeGrey Dixon

In the town of Dudley, Worcester, England, a small girl was reared. Sarah DeGrey was bom on January 27, 1845, the youngest living child of John and Maria DeGrey. She had four older sisters (Selina, Kezia, Maria and Charlotte) and one brother (Alfred). The family had lost three of her older sisters in death (Sofia, Ann, and Elizabeth). She also lost her younger brother, 1 lA years old, John Jr. to death.

She, along with her older sisters, played upon the neighboring green rolling hills of England and upon the walls of the nearby Dudley Castle. Her father, a tailor by trade, was always busy endeavoring to make a living for the family. He soon passed away widowing Maria and leaving their surviving children.

Sarah’s widowed mother, Maria Brooks raised the remaining daughters in a loving home. Impressed with the message of the gospel, Maria and her five daughters joined the Church. At eight years of age, Sarah, on a moonlit evening, was carried in the arms of John Charles Hall, a missionary, down to a nearby small pond and into the waters of baptism.

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Seeds and Roots

The widow Maria and four of her daughters, Kezia, Charlotte, Maria, and Sarah, scraped together what little money they could, and assisted by John Hall (who had married the oldest daughter Selena) paid for passage on the ship, Well Fleet, bound from Liverpool for Boston, in June 1856.

After arriving in Boston, as strangers in a new and strange land, among foreign people, without funds, they struggled to adjust and manage their lives. Each girl was placed in a different home. Young Sarah became so homesick for her sisters and mother, that she was put to bed and finally returned to her mother, employed by a Mr. Coburn. Sarah became a companion to the Cobum daughter. The family came to love her so much; they offered to adopt her, give her the finest of clothes and education, and make a fine lady of her.

Maria thanked Mr. Cobum for his generous offer, but explained that they wanted to live together as a family out in Utah in the West. The family lived in Boston for nine months to save enough ($112.00) for their journey west. The Bostonians tried to persuade them not to take such a dangerous trip. There were wild Indians who roamed the plains and Johnston’s Army was to be sent to destroy the people in Utah.

Their little company started on their westward journey in April 1857. They joined the main company, under the direction of Captain Jesse Martin, in Florence, Nebraska.

Sarah, a young girl of twelve had a very pleasant nature. There not being much room in the wagons, she along with a young companion would do much of the daily journey by walking.

Running ahead, they would gather flowers and have a good time. Captain Martin, invited them to ran alongside his horses, while he searched for a new campground. After arriving, they would pick up “buffalo chips while waiting for the company to arrive. They would sing to him and join in singing the songs of Zion at night around the campfire.

Along the way, there were scary encounters with Indians. They would hear the wailing cries of the wolves and coyotes. They would form their

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Seeds and Roots

wagons into the shape of a horseshoe to provide protection against any kind of invaders.

Sarah often told pioneer stories to her children and grand-children and related that she had walked the entire route to Salt Lake. Years later, above her bed, in her special private room, she kept a map of the route, which is now located in the Daughters of the Utah Pioneer Museum in Provo.

Coming down Echo Canyon and seeing the Great Salt Lake Valley, they had quite a different view from what they knew of the green lanes of England. A few years after their arrival, the older sisters married and moved on with their husbands to help colonize Dixie Country. Sarah was alone with her mother in their humble Utah home. They became very close.

As reviewed earlier, Henry Aldous