Sunday, August 5, 2012

Byron Crookston

  • Name: Byron Crookston
  • Born: June 22, 1893 Logan, Utah
  • Died: June 9, 1976 Logan, Utah
  • Related through: Dan's grandfather Lynn Crookston

I, Byron Crookston, was born June 22, 1893, at Logan, Utah. My parents were Robert Crookston, Jr. and Rosabell Pitkin. I was the sixth child in my father's family of ten children, six boys and four girls.

My parents were very poor. Father worked in Logan Canyon in the timber, getting out logs and sold them to the saw mills for very little money. We never owned a home, but always had to pay very little rent. We didn't have much furniture and our food was mostly home grown, as father had a large garden. We always had a cow, so we had our own milk and butter.

When I was about eleven years old, my father bought a lot on 434 West 2rd South in Logan. My father and older brothers got the logs from the canyon and had them sawed into lumber and built a four room house with two bedrooms upstairs and two rooms down. There was a large shanty attached to the house. There was a dirt covered near the back door. In those days very few had bathrooms or city water. We carried water from a ditch by the front gate.

I attended Logan City schools. My first teachers' name was Miss Rose Jones. I liked school but thought I had to stay indoors too much.

When quite young, I used to go thin beets for fifty cents a day. On Saturdays and in the summertime I used to work at Bordens Condenced Milk Factory for a dollar a day. It was located close to my home. I also worked there when I attended the Agricultural College, for 35 cents an hour. The summers of 1909 and 1910, I worked in Thatcher's Flour Mill for 1.75 a day ten hours a day. I earned my own way through school. The registration fee was from $11.00 to $15.00 a quarter. I first took carpentry, and later subjects leading to forestry.

The summers of 1911 to 1914 I worked for the Cache National Forest, mainly in Logan Canyon, on roads and trails, telephone lines and bridges. In the spring of 1915, Charley Goodman and I went to San Francisco and the San Diego Worlds Fair. We went on the train. The winter previously we had run a shooting gallery and saved our money for this trip.

Later in the summer Charley and I made a trip with team and buckboard from Logan to Burnes Oregon, looking for homesteads. Early in 1916, Charley Goodwin and I moved to San Juan County in Utah and filed on a homestead near La Salle while I worked for the General Land Office Survey, surveying the Utah-Colorado border.

In the fall of 1914, I took an examination for forest ranger and passed. In the spring of 1917, I got a job as forest ranger on the Caribou National Forest in Idaho with headquarters in Montpelier. This district included Montpelier, Red Mountain, Wells Canyon, and Georgetown.

I used to stay at the Alleman Ranch on Crow Creek overnight. The Alleman’s ran a dairy, milking 75 to 80 cows, and made Swiss cheese. The place became quite an interesting spot for me as there was a young girl who kept house for her father and two brothers.

A married brother, Abraham, and his family lived just across the creek from their house. Emeline milked about 25 cows night and morning and was a good worker. She was also a clean housekeeper. Whenever they worked out with the animals in the corral, they would change to old clothes, and Emeline would wear a man's old hat since they lean their head against the cow as they milk. She never wore jeans or pants, but an old dress. She was too timid to let me see her in these old things, so she would get dressed in them, and then crawl out a back window and beat it for the corral. I never liked to milk cows, so I usually managed to stay away from the corral. One time I was going to be nice and help her. However, I was so slow that she milked ten cows while I was still on the first one. This was enough for me.

Since there were very few cars at that time, it was hard for them to get away from the ranch. I had two saddle ponies, so we would often go for a ride. Our love for each other increased rapidly.

The first part of September in 1917, I left the Forest Service and joined the army. On October 13th Emeline left for a mission in the Northern States. I went to Washington, D.C. to the American University and took military training there for about three months. On New Year’s Eve, I sailed for France with the Tenth Engineers Battalion.

There were 10,000 soldiers on that ship. This was the largest ship at that time, it was called The America. It took 11 days to cross the ocean and arrive at Brest, France. I stayed in the harbor 3 or 4 days, then went on the train to Blois, France. We camped there for about a month, then went about 50 miles south of Bourdeaux. A saw mill was set up and I worked in the timber for about a year. On New Years Eve of 1919, we left by train for Brest, France, and camped there for a few days before sailing for the United States.

When we first heard about the armistice, it was a week early and a false alarm. There were no radios, but passed from one fellow to the other. At the news we all quit working and went back to camp. But we didn't just sit around talking as there was plenty to do. We had over a 100 horses to take care of. The next day we all went back to work. When the real armistice was announced a week later, we didn't believe it, but just went right on working.

On the way home, we stopped at the Azores for two days to take on coal. Then we went on to Newport News, Virginia. We stayed at Camp Funston in Kansas for a few days where I was mustered out of the army February 14, 1919. My train was delayed a few days on account of deep drifts of snow. I arrived in Logan the 20th of February. The severe epidemic of influenza was raging in Cache Valley, and everything was closed for public gatherings except the Temple.

On Mar 12, 1919, Emeline and I were married in the Logan Temple by President Joseph R. Shephard. We lived at Brigham City at Aunt Mary Farmer's two room house for several months. I had a job there as a guard for the railroad. I was paid $4.00 a day. Later we moved to Logan and rented a house on 5th North for $13.00 a month. We went to the temple often.

Our first baby was born January 4, 1920 on a Sunday afternoon about 4:00 P.M. We were so happy and proud to be parents of such a darling baby boy. We named him Lynn Byron.

In May of 1920, we bought a shabby little place on 340 North 3rd East where we are still living. We worked hard to clean up the lot and fix up the house so it was fit to live in. We always had a nice garden of all kinds of vegetables and beautiful flowers.

Our second baby was born the same year as the first, On December 30, 1920. His name is George Warren. Lynn didn't walk until he was 14 months old, so they were almost like twins, since George walked at 11 months.

My brother Bob and I worked together as plumbers. Bob owned a small truck, and we made barely enough to exist. There wasn't much building going on at that time so it was all repairs.

On June 29, 1922, our third baby was born, another son. We named him Ray Benjamin. He was such a good little baby.

Our two rooms were getting too crowded for our family, so we built on two bedrooms and a bathroom. We did most of the work ourselves. My wife was a good worker and she helped me with everything. I also helped her with the house work. When our house was finished, we were quite comfortable and happy.

Our fourth baby came and we were so happy to have a little girl. We named her Lola. I remember Lynn said one time to his mother as she was holding baby Lola, "Aren't you glad no one else got her?" She was born August 24, 1923.

On January 17, 1927 we were again blessed with a lovely baby boy. He seemed to be very healthy. Our other children had the measles and we think he got them and it affected his heart. He died when he was 12 days old. We were very sad, as we surely all loved him dearly. We had a little funeral here at our home. Uncle Nick gave a comforting talk.

Two and a half years later, on June 29.1929 on Ray's seventh birthday our sweet little girl Donna came to bless our home. We were very happy to have another little girl. My wife had all our babies at home. Dr. Eliason was our doctor. The cost was $35.00 each time. Her sister Sarah took care of her the first few days. Mrs. Bird was with us when Donna was born. Along in March, our children had Scarlet Fever and we were quarantined. I went to a Veterans Hospital in Boise, Idaho for a hernia operation, and was gone two weeks.

In 1933, I went to work in a Civilian Conservation Corp Camp in Logan Canyon from April 1 to November. In 1934, I went off to Mt. Nebo district for the CCC works for #30.00 a month, plus board and clothes. My wife and children managed to live on the small sum without going into debt, with a good garden and groceries that were much cheaper then. We bought our milk for 5 cents a quart, margarine for 16 cents a pound, and peanut butter for about 15 cents a pound.

From November of 1933 to April of 1934, I worked in Black Smith Fork Canyon for the Forest Service, making camp tables and guarding the place. I was paid $75.00 a month. Then I worked with Bob about two years, and took out my own plumbing license. Later when my boys were old enough, they helped me and we had enough work so the boys didn't have to look for other jobs. In April 1941, I started to work for the Agricultural College. I worked in the boiler room for five years, then started to do plumbing repair, heating and other pipe fitting jobs. I worked there for fifteen years.

In 1955, I had two major operations. The one was for the prostate gland, and the other came two weeks later when a tumor was removed inside the spinal cord. I was in the Verteran’s Hospital in Salt Lake City for about three months. My folks came to see me quite often; even Ray and his daughter Gail came from Independence, Missouri and were here for Thanksgiving. I suffered terrible pain at times, but was always helped when administered to. Since my operation, I haven't been able to work.

When a young boy, I would go ice skating on the canal near home, and skiing on the foot hills. In the summer, I would go fishing in the river. When I was seventeen I shot my first deer. In 1922 they closed the season for five years to build up the herd. I didn't go hunting until about 1925, but haven't missed hunting except two or three years since. I usually shot a deer and it supplied us with winter meat. For about twenty years I worked in scouting. For many years I went with the Bridger men on trips to the Salmon River, Yellowstone Park, and the Windriver Mountains. The group numbered from 35 to 100. I always enjoyed the trips, especially when my sons could go along. In 1957, my grandson David went along. We went to the Windriver Mountains. We had buses take us as far as Pine Dale, then by truck to higher elevations. This is the first time I used a saddle horse on these trips. In 1952, I went with the College Summer School to Yellowstone. We camped on the southeast arm of Yellowstone Lake. There were about thirty six of us.

All my formal schooling was in Logan, Utah where I grew up and lived most of my life. The first were grade schools, the Woodruff, Ellis, and Ballard. There were no junior high or high school as we have now, but the grade schools were about eight years. Then we went on to the Agricultural College. I would register in the fall and pay my tuition each quarter, but about April each year I would run out of money to live on, and go out and get a job. The only ones who certified to get a diploma were usually the school teachers, anyway. Most of my classes were leading up to forestry. When I did get a job with the Forest Service, I took the Civil Service examination and passed it. I did go to the college most of four years, but never got a degree. Most of my life I worked as a plumber after I left the Forest Service.

My first position in leadership was as a counselor in my Deacon's Quorum in the 2nd Ward in Logan. Then I became a Ward Teacher, and did this along with other jobs for over fifty years. In the 5th Ward High Priest's Quorum I was Assistant Group Leader, and was on the Genealogy Committee. For many years I worked in scouting and went on many trips with my sons and their friends. For forty years I did temple endowments each year, then after I retired in 1962 I did more. The summer of 1962 I became a Temple worker, checking the men’s rolls.

I have been in France, Canada, Mexico, Hawaii and 36 of the states. Since we were married, we have been on several nice trips together. In October, 1944 Lynn drove Emeline and me to Sioux Falls, South Dakota where Ray and Marvel were stationed at the air base during World War 11. There we saw our first granddaughter, Marnita, who was a year old and just learning to walk. We stayed there about a week and came home on the bus, since Lynn drove on to Ann Arbor, Michigan where he was attending dental school. The bus went to Sioux City, Iowa, Omaha, Kansas City and Independence, Missouri where we visited Marvel's parents.

In July 1951 we went with George and his wife Virginia to Yellowstone. In 1952 we went to Grand Canyon and Las Vegas and Manti. In August of 1953, we went with a group of temple workers to the Palmyra Pageant in New York for a 19 day trip by bus. We visited Lynn at Tohatchi, New Mexico where he was in the Public Health Service doing dental work among the Indians. In September 1955 we went with the temple workers again on a tour of the temples in Manti, St. George and Mesa. We visited Clem and Carl, my brothers in Mesa. It was extremely hot. We also had a wonderful trip by plane to Hawaii with the temple workers and toured the islands there. We have many pages of interesting reading about our trips with the temple workers.

Emeline died August 11, 1975. Grandpa was lonely but kept the home so nice and tried to keep it a welcoming place for us. One morning Grandpa didn't show up at the temple for his assignment. He was never late so the workers were concerned. They called his grandson, Gregory Jenkins who was living in the basement. He went up stairs and Grandpa was in bed, he just peacefully slept and had joined Grandma in death, June 9, l976, just eight months after she had gone.

Thanks to Grandma Melva for providing this history for us.

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