Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sylvester Silas Hulet 1857 - 1950

Note: This is the twin brother of Sylvanus Hulet Jr.

By daughter Mary Coburn
My father, Sylvester Silas Hulet, was born in Springville, Utah, 17 April 1857. He
was a twin, and the fifth child in a family of ten.

His grandfather, Charles Hulet, was an early convert to the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints, and his family was one of the first four to settle in Springville, Utah.
It was here that his parents, Sylvanus Cyrus Hulet and Catherine Stoker, spent the first
years of their married life. Both his grandfather and his father were thrifty, industrious,
clean living, God fearing men, and their children were brought up with the same ideals
and habits.

In 1861, when Father was four years old, Brigham Young called three hundred
families to settle the Dixie Country and Grandfather’s was one of the families chosen.
They sold their home at a great loss and prepared to respond to the call.
Grandfather purchased a very large wagon and a team of mules called Tom and Jerry,
which had once been used by Johnston’s Army. This wagon, with one that Grandfather
had made, they loaded with their household goods. With three ox teams on one wagon
and a horse team and a mule team on the other, they set out for Dixie.
The company traveled for a month before reaching their destination. They found a
desolate looking sage-brush and alkali desert, but they were not dismayed. They had been
called by the priesthood of God, and with the energy and determination characteristic of
LDS pioneers, they set to work and in a comparatively short time had laid out a town site,
built homes and a tabernacle, and laid the foundation for a temple. They named the place
St. George after George A. Smith.

Grandfather was promised that if he accepted the call to Dixie and filled his
mission, neither he nor his family should ever go hungry.
Grandfather and his family worked hard to start a new home for themselves. The
climate was warm, and they raised cotton, sugar cane, corn, grapes, and other kinds of
fruit. The children went barefoot in the summer, and father says he will never forget
trudging through the hot sand to and from his work in the fields and orchards. The field
was about five miles from the house and used to get very hot. If they saw a bush, they
would make a dash for it and stand in its shard long enough to cool their burning feet.
Their first house was a small one built out of cottonwood logs with a dirt roof.
The boys slept in the big wagon-box at the end of the house. They soon built a big house
of blue adobe, nice looking and comfortable. Grandfather made all their furniture; in fact,
he made some furniture and wagons to sell.

Grandfather had bought some land in Summit about eighty miles north of St.
George, and they farmed in both places for a time. Grandmother liked Summit because
the cooler climate was better for the children, son in 1872, when Erastus Snow released
Grandfather from his mission, he sold his property in St. George and moved his family to
Summit permanently.

Summit is a small village consisting of a few houses built on either side of an
irrigation ditch that carries water from the mountains. Most of the early homes were built
of adobe.

Grandfather, with the help of his sons, built a fine house of red brick that were
brought by team from a brick kiln twelve miles away.

Father was about fifteen years of age at the time they moved to Summit. He was
quiet, bashful, and retiring, seldom joining in their little dancing parties, but fun loving in
his own way. Mother says he danced with her only once in his life. Father told me he fell
in love with mother when he first saw her and used to ask God to help him win her.
Grandfather, with all his virtues, was very parsimonious with his family. In spite
of the fact that his sons had worked for him during all the years they were growing to
manhood, as each one in turn reached his twenty-first birthday, Grandfather would appear
at his bedside before he arose in the morning and present him with a five dollar gold
piece. After that, he was on his own.

After Father reached the age of twenty-one, he rented a piece of land from
Grandfather and with his share of the crop, bought himself a team and a wagon.
Father and Mother kept company during all these years except when Mother was
away at school. 22 Oct 1879, they were married in the St. George temple. They made the
trip to St. George in a covered wagon in the company with Father’s older sister Barbara
and William Smith, who were married also on this date.

A few days after their return, Father and Mother, according to plan, loaded their
possessions in their covered wagon and started for Snowflake, Arizona, where Father’s
oldest brother, John lived. Uncle John had come to Utah after some cattle, and he and his
brother-in-law, Joseph W Smith, made the trip to Snowflake with my parents. Mother and
Uncle John drove the team, and Father and Mr. Smith drove the cattle. The weather was
good, and they had no mishaps on the way. Some of the scenery was very wonderful, so
it was really an enjoyable honeymoon trip. Father and Mother made their home with
Uncle John and Aunt Josephine, his wife, for the first eight months, when father bought a
lot with one log room “half way up” on it. He completed the room and covered it with
shakes or hand hewn shingles. There was no floor at first, and the house was built in a
low place so that when a heavy rain came they were wet, but they were very, very happy
when they moved into it. They also bought forty acres of land, by their combined
industry and economy soon had it paid for.

Their first furniture was homemade and very crude. The first table was a huge
chest which my Grandmother Dalley had brought from England. I remember this old
chest very well. Mother used it as a sort of treasure chest for her finest quilts and
outgrown baby clothes and her many keepsakes. We children always crowded around
eagerly whenever Mother had occasion to open the “big box” for a glimpse at the

After a few years, they were able to buy furniture that was considered very good
in those days. They had no candles the first winter, and Father read the Bible through by
the light from the kitchen stove.

They had to haul their wheat seventy miles to have it made into flour. In between
trips, they sometimes ran out of flour and had to grind their wheat in a small hand mill.
The result was a very course, rough meal. But it was probably healthful.
Snowflake was a typical pioneer settlement. The people were industrious,
friendly, kind-hearted, always ready to lend a helping hand to a neighbor.
The climate was very much like that of their old home. The snow fell deep in the
mountains in winter. The men used to haul wood for fuel. At one time, Father went after
wood. While he was cutting and loading the wood, the horses wandered off and he was
unable to find them. The snow was knee-deep, but he struggled along and got out of the
hills before dark, but was soon caught in a heavy fog. He didn’t know which way to go,
when suddenly he saw a dim light on the other side of a creek. In crossing the creek, he
slipped in and his boots were filled with water. The air was cold and raw, and he almost
froze, finally he reached the dwelling, which proved to be a dugout where an Indian
named Lei West, with his white wife, lived. The woman was very kind to him and helped
him dry his wet clothing and gave him something to eat. When he got out on the road
again, he met Uncle John coming to look for him.

There were occasionally exciting times such as the time when a bunch of young
Apaches broke out of the reservation and went on a rampage through the country near
Snowflake. They killed a beef, and when a man riding along happened to see the beef and
got off to investigate, they shot him in the back and took his horse and saddle. The people
in Snowflake were terribly excited. Father was at the saw mill, and they sent a messenger
to tell him what had happened. The men folks patrolled the town until the soldiers who
had been sent for arrived and took the Indians back to the reservation.
Their first two children, Sylvester Silas and Mary, were born in Snowflake. In the
fall of 1882, Father and Mother went back to Summit to see Grandmother Hulet, who
was very ill. She died 8 Nov 1882.

Grandfather was lonely, so he persuaded my parents to sell their possessions in
Arizona and make their home in Summit. Father bought a large lot and built one big log
room on it with a fireplace at one end. He farmed and took care of Grandfather’s sheep
on shares for a living.

Soon after they were settled in their new home, Mother gave birth to another
daughter, whom they called Emma. Fifteen months later, Katie was born. Just nine days
before Katie’s birth, my brother Sylvester or Vettie as he was called, was accidentally
killed. My parents were broken-hearted over the tragedy. He was Father’s pride and joy,
and it was a long time before they could reconcile themselves to the loss. Vettie was
playing in the manger of the barn, as he was crawling though a hole where the hay
dropped down, a board dropped down and choked him to death.

The people of Summit were getting more milk cows than they could feed and
pasture at home, so some of them acquired dairy ranches up in the mountains. The ranch
my father obtained was called Camp Soakum and the ranch nearest it was called Deep
Canyon. The houses and milk houses were built with bunks along one entire side of the
large room to spend the hot summer months, with trees all around the house and grass
and flowers everywhere and cool spring water to quench ones throat. To furnish
occasional excitement bear came down to the corrals where the cows and calves were
kept at night. The cows would bellow and charge around the corral and Father and
Mother would rush out and build bonfires to frighten the bear away. Father spent part of
the time in Summit.

20 Sep. 1885, Father was ordained bishop of the Summit Ward, succeeding his
father who had been bishop ever since the organization of the Ward.
A short time after this, Father courted and married Sarah Ann Dalley, Mother’s
half-sister, ten years younger than she. From this union, there were three daughters and
two sons. They were in order of age, Sarah Pearl, Moses Arthur, David Willard, Lette and

In the fall of 1886, Father went to England on a mission. About five months after
his departure, Mother gave birth to her fourth daughter, whom they called Lenora May.
An interesting sidelight to her name—Father, when asked in a letter what to name the
new baby, said Lenora, may God bless you, evidently there wasn’t a comma there so
mother thought he wanted her named Lenora May.

Father enjoyed his mission and received some remarkable testimonies. He related
this instance to my sister Emma and me the other night. A number of elders were staying
at one place. Father and the President of the mission were sleeping upstairs. During the
night they heard one of the Elders downstairs groaning as if he were in terrible agony.
Father jumped up stating “We’ll have to go down and see if we can do something.” When
they entered the room, the suffering Elder immediately asked them to administer to him.
He told them the pain was very bad. They did so, Father being mouth. His groaning
ceased and he went to sleep. He told Father the next morning, “Just as soon as you started
to pray the pain vanished completely.”

Among the friends Father made while on his mission was the Harwood family.
There were several children in the family and they were very poor. They lived in a little
hut with a thatched roof. He often visited at their home and heard them express their
strong desire to have their children move to Zion. Grandfather Hulet sent money to pay
passage for one of the Harwood boys, and George, a boy about eight years of age, went to
Utah with Father when his mission was completed. He was brought up in Grandfather’s
home, and when he became a man he went to England on a mission and was the means of
bringing his whole family to Utah. A few years ago, George came to see Father and
thanked him for the part he had played in bringing the Harwood family to Zion.
Father’s family at this time consisted of five girls, Mother’s four and Aunt Sarah’s
daughter, Sarah Pearl, whom we called Sadie. He was not all satisfied. He wanted more
sons, so he was very happy when Arthur (Moses Arthur), Aunt Sarah’s oldest son was
born 16 Feb 1890, and a month later, Mother gave birth to another son, who they named
Marion Cyrus. Both these boys died in early manhood. Modie (Moses Arthur) was killed
in World War I, and Marion was drowned at the age of 19 in a mountain lake while
herding sheep.

Mother gave birth to three more sons in succession, Francis Edgar, Oscar Phillip,
who died when only a year old, and Albert Franklin. Aunt Sarah also bore another son,
David Willard.

In the spring of 1896, Father decided to move his family to Teton Valley, in
Wyoming, which seemed to be sort of a refuge for polygamous families. We made the
long trip in two covered wagons. Mother drove one and Father the other. We were about
a month on the way, making our beds on the ground at night and cooking over a
campfire. To us children, the trip was a glorious lark, and we enjoyed every minute of it.
We reached Teton Valley on 4 of July. Aunt Sarah and her family had gone earlier by
train, so now we were all together again.

Father bought a farm in Pratt Ward, later called Alta, close to the foothills. There
were a couple of log rooms with a dirt roof on them, which was our home for a few years.
Aunt Sarah lived in another small log house nearby. There was a clear cold mountain
stream called Spring Creek running near the place form which we got our water.
It was too late for Father to plant any crops that year, but there was some hay and
a nice patch of potatoes on the place. Our neighbor’s pigs began to visit the potato patch
and although Father and his dogs bravely fought to defend the potatoes, but row by row
the pigs finally cleaned out the patch. That year and the following few years we always
refer to as the “Dark Ages.”

We struggled on trying to cultivate our farm. The boys were not old enough to
help much at first, so the girls helped Father as much as they could. Owing to the change
of climate, all of the horses we brought with us from Southern Utah, except our riding
pony, old Warfield, died one by one. Father bought a few cows, but they were not very
profitable. There was no sale for milk, cream or butter. Mother even made soap from
some of her delicious looking butter. He finally sold the cows and bought a few bands of
sheep and the boys herded them by and on the foothills.

When Grandfather died, Father got 200 head of sheep as his share of the estate.
This gave us a fiar start in the sheep business, and we were able to buy a few more of the
comforts of life, and Father began to prosper and accumulate quite a number of cattle and

Leonard Merrill, my mother’s last child, and Aunt Sarah’s two youngest girls
Lette and Lillian were born while we lived at Pratt Ward.
Father served seven years as Superintendent of the Pratt Ward Sunday School and
later on became a member of the Ward Bishopric.

The older children were obliged to go to Rexburg to attend High School, but this
was very inconvenient and expensive. Later, a good high school was established at
Driggs, a progressive little town a few miles west of Pratt Ward. For his reason, among
others, Father decided to sell out and buy a home in Driggs.

Father bought a large farm and several hundred acres of pasture land near the
town. By this time, he had acquired a large band of sheep and he was obliged to be away
much of the time taking care of them. Therefore, he was not able to take part in church
work, but he always paid his tithing and donations. He taught his family the principles of
the Gospel and the value of keeping the Word of Wisdom and living a clean life.
Their first home in Driggs was an old store building, formerly known as the “Star
Commercial”, partitioned and made into two comfortable apartments. Here Aunt Sarah
and Mother lived for a few years until the building caught fire and burned to the ground.
They were able by this time to build two modern cottages and furnish them well.
Mother and Aunt Sarah had the milk checks for their living expenses. They raised good
gardens and Mother always had a coop full of chickens. Everything looked rosy, and it
seemed as if they were well established for life when World War I broke out.
Modie, David and Albert were inducted into the army. Francis didn’t pass the
physical and Leonard was too young for military service. Modie didn’t come back, David
was gassed and contracted tuberculosis, so he was obliged to live in Arizona most of the
time since.

After the war was over and the depression came along, Father, like thousands of
others, lost practically all of his property. Hoping to better their conditions, he and
Mother and Leonard and Francis and his family went to Montana. They stayed there for a
few years, but were glad to get back to an LDS community.
In 1930, Father and Leonard moved to Firth, where they farmed not too
successfully for a couple of years. They were quite discouraged with conditions, so they
finally went to Dayton and rented my sister Emma’s farm, where they are living at the
present time.

Father has always had remarkably good health, due I am sure, in part, to the fact
that he inherited a good constitution from clean living ancestors and has always lived a
temperate life himself and kept the Word of Wisdom and also because of his work with
the sheep keeping him in the open air. He is eighty nine years old and is still straight and
strong. He always was and still is a fine-looking man. He is a man of strong temper and
in his earlier years it was not as well controlled as it is now. As he grew older, he grew in
patience and tolerance.

He has served faithfully as Ward Teacher for the twelve years he has lived in
Dayton and has won the confidence and respect of the people with whom he has worked.
He is very interested in temple work and goes to the temple. There are forty-nine living
grandchildren and twenty-four great-grandchildren.
Father was very kind and thoughtful to mother during her last years. They found
much joy and comfort in each others company and hoped when they passed they would
go together, but it was not to be. Our dear mother died 4 May 1944. She and Father had
lived together for almost 65 years. For the last year of Mother’s life, Father devoted
himself entirely to her care, and during the last month he hardly left her side.
He is still well, but he is very lonely and looks forward to the time he can join
mother and his four sons on the other side. He has given us, his children, a wonderful
heritage from a father who is honest, full of integrity, wisdom and faith in God. We
honor, respect, and love him.
Conclusion written by Francis E. Hulet, his son:
After mother’s death, Father lived alone for about six years. Then Emma sold her
home in Dayton and moved to Preston—it necessitated a change on his part since he was
living in the back of her house. So from then on he spent most of the time visiting around
with different ones of his children.

There was an interesting happening about this time. When he was ninety, he
joined other members of his stake in the beet field on the Welfare Farm and helped with
the hoeing of the beets. He was quite proud that one of the stake officers made mention of
the fact in the Priests Quorum meeting that no other man his age has ever done such a
thing in that stake.

While staying with his daughter, Katie, in Murtaugh, Idaho, he slipped and broke
his ankle. They took him to the Twin Falls Clinic, where they made a pretense of setting
the bones. Katie phoned me and informed me of it, and I went and brought him home to
Wendell with me as we knew he would be bedfast fro some time. The doctor said he
would never walk again. He was bedfast for about a year. I took him to the hospital in
Wendell and Dr. Holsinger examined his ankle and reset it. From that time on his ankle
began to mend until he was finally on his feet again. He used a cane, but got around quite

On Feb 6, 1950, he had a cold, and it was hard for him to breathe. He ate a good
breakfast that morning and then went into the living room and sat down. He didn’t feel
good, and I couldn’t get him to go to bed. He said he couldn’t breathe if he laid down. I
was worried and called the doctor and described the situation. The doctor said he couldn’t
do anymore for him than was being done and thought there was a possibility that he
might go any time. We then called Katie and told her if she wanted to see him alive again
she had better come quickly. A short time later he gave in and asked to be taken to his
bed. Katie came just as we were on our way with him. She took one arm and I the other,
and by the time we reached the bed he was taking his last breath. He suffered very little
in passing.

After the funeral in Dayton, he was buried beside Mother in the Dayton cemetery.
I shall always be grateful that I was able to do what little there was for me to do at this
time. I believe he appreciated it.

Sarah Ann passed away 29 Sep 1954 at Driggs, Idaho, where she is buried. 

Left to right: Frank's brother Albert, father Sylvester Silas, brother Leonard, Albert's wife Vida, Frank's wife Ella, Frank's sister Lenora Dees, Frank, and Frank's sister Katie Perkins.