AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF SUSANNAH DALLEY ARMSTRONG
I, Susannah Dalley, was born December 27, 1868, in the small town of Summit, Iron County, in southern Utah. I must say that I was born of goodly parents in every sense of the word. My father, James Dalley, was born December 20, 1822, in Leominster, Herefordshire, England. He was the son of William Dalley and Ann Davis, who were married in Leominster in 1818. He was one of eight children: Ann, William, James, Mary, Edward, Susannah, and Elizabeth. My mother, Petrina Bertlesen was born August 31, 1840, in Staarup, Viborg, Denmark. My mother's parents were Niels Bertlesen and Maren Larsen Dam, both born in Viborg, Denmark, where they heard and embraced the gospel. It seems that I came with a snow storm as my mother told me that the snow was about two feet deep on the level that Sunday morning. She often quoted the following poem to me: Monday's child is merry and glad, Tuesday's child is sorry and sad, Wednesday's child is free and giving, Thursday's child is sometimes mad, Friday's child is loving and kind, Saturday's child works for a living, Sunday's child is wise and kind and all that is good, A blessing to all in her neighborhood. I was blessed and named when eight days old by my father in my home, as was the rule in those days. He gave me the name of Susannah which was the name of his grandmother, Susannah Powell Dalley. I was the fifth child born to my parents, there being Robert, Ida, John, James, and Lena older than I. In 1859 my father moved his family from Johnson's Fort to the town site of Summit. He dug a big hole in the ground and put a roof over it for the family to live in. At that time he had two wives, Emma and Lette, and the following children: John Edward, Emma With., Mary E., James, Eliza B., Emma B., Joseph B., and William With., so there was a family of eight to live in this cellar. On October 8, 1861, father married my mother, Petrina Bertelsen in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, and brought her to join the rest of the family in Summit. She was a sister of his wife, Johanna Bolette (Lette) Bertelsen. I can remember that old cellar some distance from the house near the center of the orchard. For years Mother used this cellar as a chicken coop. We always had to go down there and shut the door of this coop to keep out the prowling coyote, wild cat, or lynx that were always preying on the chickens. They were often seen in the evening in the orchard watching for a chance to catch a chicken. If we forgot to shut the chicken coop door while it was light, we had to go do it no matter how later or how dark the night. I remember many times going with one of the other children to attend to this chore when it was so dark we had to feel our way as the overhanging branches of the trees made it still darker. We would imagine something jumping onto our backs every step of the way going and coming. As soon as the door was fastened, we would turn and run back to the house as fast as possible. My grandparents, Niels and Maren Bertelsen, had also lived in a cellar for a short while in Summit, and then moved to Mt. Pleasant to be among the people of their own nationality who spoke their own Danish language. After living in the old cellar for a while, my father went into the mountains to cut logs so he could build homes for each of his wives. He hewed them, and peeled them on two sides to make them smooth so they would fit together. Then he chinked and daubed the cracks with clay. He built five log rooms and a cellar (which I think my mother must have lived in before her house was finished). He also built an adobe house in which Aunt Lette lived. Father's homes and orchards occupied a whole city block. There were stables and a large corral in the back where the stock was branded and marked and the sheep counted before going to the mountains. A fence enclosed the whole place made of six inch boards. For a number of years this fence in front of our home was covered with hop vines which grew and climbed to the top of our giant silver maple tree. Late in the summer they were loaded with hops which we would pick and send to Salt Lake to be sold. Sometimes the neighbors came and picked hops on shares. There was also a row of pear trees down the front fence under which were gooseberry bushes that supplied the family and neighbors with large gooseberries. There was a big gate in the front fence through which the horses were led to water in the creek across the street. When they walked by the house it sounded like they were walking over a hollow tunnel under the ground. I remember seeing Father use what was called a water witch to see if there was water under the ground there, and the indications were always favorable. I tried it myself, as I had seen him do, and it turned in my hand also. My mother's log house in which I was born consisted of one room with a roof made of logs, willows, straw and dirt. The furniture consisted of one four poster bed with a straw mattress and a feather bed on top. There was a trundle bed which slid under the four poster during the day, and was drawn out at night on which the three older children slept. The one next to the baby slept at the foot of Mother's bed and the baby slept at her side. The cooking was done on the fireplace in which there was a crane for hanging the iron kettles. The baking was done in a bake oven over the live coals. There was also a loom on which the cloth of our clothes was woven and a spinning wheel on which the yarn was spun. The wool was washed, dried, and carded onto rolls to be spun into warp and woof for cloth. There was a crosslegged table, two stools, and a bench on which the children sat to eat. There was a large rocking chair which is enshrined in my memory because of the joy we had in Mother's arms while she rocked us to sleep, singing sweet soft lullabies. I must not forget the cradle made like a long box with sloping sides and rockers underneath. Inside was a soft mattress and warm quilts which were made by Mother's kind hands. Father planted an orchard of apple, peach, plum and pear trees, but for some time we failed to get any fruit, as a frost in May and early June usually came and took it all. On one of his trips to southern Utah, President Brigham Young blessed the land and told the people they would have plenty of fruit from then on, which we certainly did. We had so much fruit, we could hardly take care of it. In fact, I saw the time when I wished I had never seen a plum or a peach, when we had to sit day after day, cutting them and spreading them on the barn and lumber scaffolds to dry. There was no market near, so they were taken to Salt Lake City where they were sold for about five cents a pound. At the same time the wool was hauled by team to Salt Lake to exchange for such things as cloth, sugar and other things. When the trees came into bearing, we became so hungry for fruit that we could hardly wait for it to ripen, but were told we must not pick it on pain of punishment until it was fully ripe. When I was five years old, the peach trees were loaded with fruit until the boughs hung close to the ground, and the fruit was just at the point of ripening. My little sister, Della, and I tried some and said, "Oh my, but that was good! Let's go and get some more!" We ran back and filled our aprons with all kinds of peaches, green or ripe. Of course there was someone to see what we had done and told Father. Mother had already told us we should not have done it, but when we saw Father coming with a small willow in his hand and a piece of rope, we both started crying and climbed up behind Mother in the big rocking chair. He put the rope around me and tied me to the bedpost and went out and left me there. Della screamed, so he never went near her. We both cried so hard anyone would have thought we were being killed. My brother, Phil, and I would sit under an apple tree for hours when the wind was blowing watching for an apple to fall. Sometimes, when a particularly nice one failed to fall, a stick or stone helped it. We would then ****** it up and rub dirt on the stem to prove, if necessary, that it had not been picked. There was a small apple tree by the end of the house that never got any water from the ditch. Father told Phil and I that if we would carry water to it every day, it would be our tree. We faithfully carried water every day from the creek across the street. The tree lived but never bore any fruit. I was a very timid child. I was afraid of the chickens, dogs, cows, horses, sheep and all animals until I was six or seven years old. Some of my older brothers used to take hold of the hair on the side of old Jack's jaws and make him snarl and growl in front of me, which terrified me. But with the wise care of my mother in making me familiar with the animals, I grew to love them all and loved to be near them. My childhood was spent in my home and in the fields and woods with my brothers and sisters. I preferred the companionship of my brothers to that of my sisters, which enabled me to be out of doors, as our house was just one log room until I was eight years old and of course it was too crowded for much exercise or romping. Consequently, I was criticized by some members of the family for playing with the boys and they called me a tomboy. Mother, thinking she might break me of playing with the boys, dressed me in boy's pants and shirt and took me out in the door yard to show some of the young people. It nearly broke my heart, but it didn't change me being a tomboy in the least. Although I was a tomboy, I enjoyed playing with dolls of my own making. I made whole families of dolls with strips of unbleached muslin rolled to the desired size. The largest doll was about six inches long when finished, with small rolls for the arms. There were no legs on the women and girl dolls, but the men and boys had legs, as they needed pants, shirts and hats. The babies were about an inch long, and had long clothes. There was rivalry among the girls of the neighborhood to see who could make the best dolls and dress them in the nicest. We would make tents for them to live in out of sticks stuck in the ground in the shape of an Indian teepee covered with cloth of different kinds such as could be salvaged from the rag bag. I had one doll that Santa brought me when I was seven years old that had a china head with painted blue eyes, red cheeks and yellow hair. I thought it could not be more beautiful, and I took very good care of it. One of the younger children found it and took it across the street and left it there. My brother, Phil, found it and called to me and said, "Here is your doll." He threw it to me and it fell at my feet, a total wreck. As children we spent most of our waking hours roaming through the sagebrush in the fields and foothills adjacent to the town. In the early spring we watched for the first wild flowers such as the grey and brown streaked peaks which bloomed close to the ground with silver colored leaves. Then there was the Indian paint brush, a bright red flower which reared it's head above the brush, the larkspur of blue, and the pink Johnny jump-ups, the sego lily, buttercups, and many others. Under the sage brush we found nests of baby jack rabbits from which we sometimes took some of the baby rabbits to love and care for. In the wild rose hedges were the nests of the saucy blackbirds which we found by the suspicious yacking of the parent birds. We never injured the birds but visited their nests every day until the birds were hatched. We tried to help the mother birds feed their little ones by catching grasshoppers to drop into their wide open mouths. One thing that gave us a thrill was the warbling of the meadow lark as he arose from his nest in the wheat field with his trilling and warbling as he rose higher and higher straight up into the sky. I was baptized on the 6th of October, 1877, by my father in what was called Orton's reservoir, the only pond near our town deep enough for that purpose. I was confirmed at the water's edge by Bishop Sylvanus C. Hulet. I wore a dress of heavy waterproof cloth, and I had to walk about a quarter mile to the house to change to dry clothes, which I assure you, was not an easy task. I learned to knit my own stockings when eight years of age, and at the age of ten carded wool into hats for quilts and rolls for yarn. My mother prepared the wool, carded the rolls, and wove the cloth for our clothes. She sat up at nights to sew by a light made from a greased rag in a plate of tallow. This was her only light until she obtained some candle molds with which to mold candles. These were such an improvement over the "*****" as we called the greased rag. Our first coal oil lamp was a wonderful thing and seemed too good to believe. Mother made her own soap with lye made from wood ashes. She also made butter and cheese for our own use as well as some to sell. The price for cheese at that time was five or six cents a pound, and this price prevailed for years. She raised her own chickens and eggs, but the only market was with William White, who went to the mines at Pioche, Nevada, and took all kinds of produce for the people that had it to sell. The price of a chicken, large or small, was twenty-five cents and eggs were ten cents a dozen. Mother milked her own cows until Robert was six or seven years of age, then he did most of the milking. As far back as I can remember we had plenty of food such as bread, meat, milk, vegetables, however fruit and sugar were a luxury and hard to get. An orange was a rate thing, so when we got one in our stockings, it was certainly a treat. The Dixie people would bring molasses to trade for flour and potatoes and things that could not be raised in the warmer climate. (By Dixie, we meant down in Washington County, south over the Black Ridge about sixty miles from where we lived.) Father bought each of his three wives a coal stove and a sewing machine. The stove was called "The New Era." It stood about two feet tall, and had four holes in the top with removable lids. The fire box had two small doors to open on the fire, and a hearth with an indentation of about two inches to receive the ashes. When I was small it was my delight to get a big spoon and dig in the ashes. The sewing machine was a Wilson which was wonderful and did good work, but it made such a loud noise when running, it was terrible. A few years later the Wilson was replaced by a Domestic, the noiseless machine, which was not all joy for us. It was such a good machine that all the daughters-in-law and neighbors came to spend the days with their sewing and kept the house in confusion with their families, until it was rather a source of annoyance to we girls who tried to keep the house in some sort of order. They would get their own houses clean and shut them up and come and open our house to the flies in the summertime and the mud in the winter. However, Mother was patient and they had no conscience. Some of Mother's sisters came to visit her and Aunt Lette and stayed with their families for months, so besides having a large family of our own, it was almost doubled. My first experience at school was when I was between four and five years old. I went, not as a student, but an extra, with my sister, Lena, to William McCarty's home where he was teaching the beginners the A-B-C's and small words. We stood with the others in a half circle in front of Mr. McCarty, who held the open book so we could see as he pointed to the letters and asked us to repeat them after him. I, not being particularly interested, was looking around for something more interesting and discovering his large pants pocket wide open. I put my hand in to explore it's contents. He took my hand out and laughed at me, and of course, the other children all laughed at me, which embarrassed me so that I never forgot it. For a while my sister, Mary Elizabeth, taught school in our log wash house. While she was teaching in this place, she started teaching Phillip and me to write. (Aunt Lette kept the post office at this time and gave us lots of the free advertising material that would come. Among things that came were memorandum books of Dr. Pierce's Golden Medical Discovery which we made use of in many ways.) Mallie (Mary Elizabeth) gave Phil and me each one of these books which had blank pages on which lines were drawn for writing, a pencil, and a copy with lines like this ///// for us to follow. This was so easy, it was just fun. After school was dismissed, we went back and got busy filling our books with the lines, using pens and ink which we were not supposed to do. We were not punished, but our writing lessons were over for some time. I attended school when six years of age in the log school house south of our home. It consisted of one long room partially divided in the center with a fireplace on one end. The seats were planks along the sides on which the younger students sat. The older students sat at improvised desks. The grades were designated by readers, instead of grades. We were called on once in each session to recite our A-B-C's or to read from the primer or first and second reader. There was a large blackboard which my father had made and painted with lamp black. Our books were mostly McCuffy's Readers or the blue-backed spelling book which we handed down from one child to another as long as they held together. The only thing on which to write were slates with slate pencils and wo betide anyone found making pictures on our slates! The punishment was standing up on the bench or sitting on the dunce stool. We were punished for whispering in the same way. I have never discovered what we were supposed to do between the times we were called up to recite. However, we learned our A-B-C's, the multiplication tables, adding, division, spelling, to copy the words put on the blackboard by the teacher, and to wait anxiously for recess so we could get outside and play. And, and I was happy to have the privilege of tending her. Little Della got scarlet fever On July 9, 1874, our little sister Della Delilah died. I was only fifteen months old when she was born. We called her Della, and she was a precious treasure of mine. I was so delighted when she could walk by holding my hand, and I was happy to have the privilege of tending her. Little Della got scarlet fever the summer after she turned four and died what we thought an unnecessary death. At that time we were forbidden to give cold water to a fever patient. (It was said it would be like pouring cold water on a hot stove.) But we will never forget how our dear little baby begged for a drink, and we didn't dare give it to her. We always felt that if we had only known how to care for her she wouldn't have died. This was the second child to die, as John James, my older brother had died at birth. In 1875, Aunt Emma died giving birth to her fifteenth child leaving a large family to be cared for. The unmarried children went to live with Aunt Lette with the exception of the baby, Melissa, who was taken over to be cared for by my mother. Mother nursed this baby for about nine months when Aunt Emma's oldest daughter asked her father if she could take the baby and care for her. Mother reluctantly consented, for she loved the tiny tot as her own. Our one room house was now almost too uncomfortable to abide. Whenever it rained and stormed, we would have to utilize every pan, bucket, and tub to catch the leaking water. Since Aunt Emma had died and her children were living with others, her adobe house was now available for us. (Had she lived we were to have had a new home on the other lot.) This house was not finished on the inside, but we thought it was lovely to have so much room and a roof that did not leak. There were four rooms and an unfinished attic, no stairway, just a rickety ladder by which one could get up there. It was open around the eaves so that the dust came into the attic with the frequent windstorms common to that locality, so an inch of dust lay on the attic floor when we moved in. When the carpenter came to put in the stairway to the upper floor so it could be used, he saw that dirty condition and swore and said it reminded him of an Irish house. Mother's health was poor, and we children were her only help, so her cousin, Hannah Petrina came to live with us. She was very neat and a splendid worker which was a great help to Mother. The walls in three rooms of our new home were plaster, and the kitchen had just the first coat of mud plaster in which state it remained for a number of years. By the time I was twelve of thirteen years old it had become so blackened with smoke that my sister and I decided we would white-wash the walls, so we got some quick-lime and put water on it to slack it. After it had cooled we proceeded to put it on the walls with a whitewash brush as we had seen others do. We labored hard at it all day and finally decided it was done. We then cleaned the woodwork, the floor, and incidentally, ourselves, and went out to wait for it to dry. When we came back there sat Father and Mother and some of the other girls, laughing fit to kill and making smart remarks about our job of whitewashing. My sister went in first and seeing what was going on, walked right through the room and up into the attic. When I came in I stood for a second or two and then started to cry and ran up tot he attic to keep my sister company. She was too angry to cry and scolded me for doing so, but it was sure a let down after our hard labor. It really did look funny. There were so many black spots that we did not get covered with the white wash. Father said it would make the crickets snow blind! Soon after our move our twin sisters, Thrine Amelia (Amelia) and Mena Tryphena (Minnie) were born. Their birthdate was June 26, 1877. Although the family was already large, the twins were welcomed with open arms and hearts. Of course we children were so delighted to have two baby sisters at the same time. When told of their arrival, we dropped our dolls and ran to see them as fast as our legs could carry us. I don't think I ever played with dolls again, as there were too many other things we children could do in caring for the twins. Nothing was too good for the twins. There was a new double cradle bought for them, as the old one that had cradled the rest of us was not large enough or good enough. The twins slept in each end of the cradle and one of the children would rock them to keep them asleep while Mother worked. They also had two high chairs bought for them, and none of us had rated that or any other chair but a bench or a stool. There was not enough breast milk for both of them, so they had to be fed by hand with a spoon. Mother made the food on which they thrived from potato starch cooked with top milk for thinning, sweetened with a little sugar, and with a drop of peppermint added to prevent colic. Mother would hold the baby on her lap with the bowl of food on the table beside her, while one of us girls would stand by with another spoon to dip the food from the bowl and pour into the spoon that Mother held in the baby's mouth. If the spoon was taken from the baby's mouth before she was satisfied, an awful wail went up, so it was the best plan to keep the supply running. It was a task to feed them both, as one would usually cry while the other one was being fed. This process for two babies several times a day kept us busy. There was no end to the diapers to be washed every day, and since I was just the right size for that job, I got it. They were all washed by hand on a board. (How about it girls? Do you have a hard time raising babies? Or do you?) Though they brought lots of work, we all loved our babies dearly. The twins were shortened when they were three months old as was the custom at that time. This means the long clothes they wore which measured more than a yard long, were changed for short ones. They looked so sweet and cunning that every child in the family and neighborhood had to have a turn carrying them across the yard.