Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Life Story of My Grandmother Blanche Bingham Cragun Smith


The Life  Story of


Born 20 January 1886 Passed away 28 March 1964

And the brief history of 

Wilbert Simeon CRAGUN

This account was tape-recorded by Bertha SOUTH Cragun (wife of Blanche’s son, Royal W. Cragun) and given to another of her son’s (Howard Blaine CRAGUN).    I, Ruth WOOD Cragun (wife of Howard) am documenting it as it was previously typed. The quotation marks identify verbiage quoted in the recording. Additions of fact, by both Bertha and Ruth are made and are noted.  Individual Ordinance Summary #000-6648-8974 

“I was a happy child and so was my sisters and brothers. My mother (RUTH: Sarah Rebecca GUTHRIE Bingham) was a wonderful housekeeper and cook. The house was always full of good smelling food and was always clean. That was what made our home—a mother there to greet us with love.

 Mother made our mittens and coats and we had leggings but I don’t think she made them, but she may have. When we came home from school she always had a little lunch for us and if it was winter we could go out in the snow and play fox and geese or make butterflies. We came in wet and cold and hungry. My mother knew how to make a child, or a man, happy with good food. We had three good meals a day and lunch after school, which would be whatever we wanted. We all grew up happy. When I was a little girl I used to go with Aunt Mary Farr (Papa’s sister) and the other wife of Lorin Farr when they had to help me on the seat in the Ogden tabernacle.

There was 9 of us children. 6 girls and 3 boys:  I worried over my Mother long before I should. for I was always afraid she would die. When I was naughty Mother wouldn’t let me kiss her goodnight and that would break my heart. Mother could trust me with her babies and never worry. I was the oldest child. I remember my mother telling of me, and my brother when we were just little tots, that Grandpa gave me a wax doll. Beautiful doll, and quite a big one. At that time wax dolls was the best dolls made. Grandpa gave my brother (he was not 3 yet) a carpenter set and when spring came we went out to play and he was the Dr. and he was going to make my doll well. Mother said she heard screams and she ran out just in time to see my doll’s head fall over the chopping block.

 I guess I had bad luck with my dolls because when Ella was big enough to run around, while I was at school, she had another of my wax dolls and chewed the cheeks off of the doll. I was a blonde with reddish shades in my hair and it was curly. I had 16 curls about 12 to 14 inches long and freckles on my cheekbones and over my nose.

My first date was with a boy that was my cousin. He also was a great grandson of Lorin Farr, the first mayor of Ogden. Then soon after that I fell in love with Reuben B. Grundy, and 2 years later was married to him. Mother taught me housework so when I married I could keep house and take care of my children”. (RUTH: And I believe it was also because Blanche was a devoted daughter and her mother desperately needed added help with the children).

“We had a lovely son we named Reuben Bingham Grundy (later in life he used the name Cragun - his stepfather’s name). My husband Reuben left me for another woman. My cousin fixed up a divorce and in 1 month I was a widow, which at that time there wasn’t many divorces. The grief caused me to lose twin girls at about 3 months pregnancy. I always wanted twins. After the divorce I had to leave my baby sometimes, but most of the time I kept him with me while I did house work. On 6 Feb. 1906 I married Simeon Wilbert Cragun.”

(BERTHA:‘Wilby’, as he was called, had two children (by his previous marriage to Mary Ann Clifford) still living at home at the time of the marriage. He and his brothers operated a large fruit farm in Pleasant View and shipped fruit all over the United States. The Cragun Brothers Wholesale Fruit and Produce firm was started in 1887. Wilby had his own farm and it was here that Blanche and Wilby started their marriage. Blanche was now mother to Reuben and  Hazel and Levi, Mary Ann’s children). She worked hard on the farm and while in the Pleasant View Ward taught Relief Society for a short time and was also 2nd counselor in the Relief Society for a while. Wilby was active in community work and was called on often to administer to the sick. It was said that he had ‘the power of healing’. Hazel and Levi each married and started their families, then Blanche had a daughter, Viola, born here.

          Year after year the drought continued in Idaho and wheat was about 25 cents a bushel. The ‘great depression’ was also upon them and it became increasingly impossible to continue to live on the dry farm, so the family had to look for better support. Wilby's health was also failing  so, it was decided that they would move to Payette, Idaho where Blanche was able to operate a dining room in a hotel there. Land could be ‘homesteaded’ free of cost and Wilby wanted to see if he could make a go of farming in Idaho.

          While operating the dining room in Payette, the family became acquainted - and very good friends with - Kent Smith who was living at the hotel.  Viola was old enough to help and was a great assistance to Blanche in the dining room. The dining room in such a small town, with bad times and little money anywhere, wasn’t very good for rearing a family and they returned to Pocatello, where they hoped both of them could find employment. Blanche was able to get work, cleaning offices at the railroad depot and Wilby worked occasionally for the city and for the railroad. Kent later followed them to Pocatello where he lived in a one-room cabin near them.

Royal remembers Kent bringing he and Glenn a baseball bat to play with. One time he showed Royal a picture that he treasured of a beautiful woman – Kent’s mother – with black hair and snapping eyes. His mother had died at the time Kent was born. One time, while Kent was at work, their little house burned down and his precious picture, and all of his belongings were lost.  

Kent was an electrician, but much of the time he had to take whatever jobs he could find. He worked on the American Falls Dam when they constructed that. Reuben, now a teenager, worked on cars and owned one. Kent offered to help the family with groceries if Reub would drive them to American Falls, where he was working. They went over and enjoyed a little outing with Kent, in spite of some very rough roads they had to travel to get there. When the dam was

finished Kent treated the entire family to the big celebration the town had commemorating the completion. Howard was born by then and my, how Kent loved that baby.

He became so fond of him that no matter where they went from then on, Kent kept in touch and tried to be near to help whenever he could. The family went to Shelly, Idaho and helped Kent open an electric shop where he did contracting. This venture didn’t work out and Kent was deeply in debt to supply houses. He told them he could not pay but that if they would hire him, he would work out all of his bills and he did this.  The wholesalers were in Salt Lake so he moved there and paid off every cent.  

          About 1915, Wilby decided to turn the farm over to his son, Levi, and move to Idaho and take up dry farming. In order to homestead the farm in Arbon Valley, they had to live on the farm part of each school year. This made it difficult for the children to attend at both the Spring and Fall terms of school. There was year after year of crop failure and living there was very primitive. At first, there was only a dug-out in the hillside, then a large tent and finally a small home. End of Bertha’s comments) 

          “We lived in a place called Pauline, Idaho. We got our first car there. We lived in a place close to the mountain. Church was way across the valley, so we didn’t get to it very often. We went to the city in the winters, as the snow would get so deep the children couldn’t get to school. Sometimes it was American Falls or Pocatello, sometimes we got to go to Ogden. We were there the winter my little Vera died. How terrible not to have her! She was 6 years old when she died. My Father in Heaven has answered my prayers in raising my children. Many times I was alone on the dry farm – 120 acres – and just about all the men were away working, so us mothers were alone a lot. I never felt alone because I always had a prayer in my heart for God to keep us safe. I had sick children all alone and Father in Heaven answered my prayers, also when I had any of my grand children. Sometimes they would take very sick, no phone so I couldn’t get the elders, so God knew and answered my prayers. I know He is the living God and Jesus Christ lives. I had 6 children. My little Vera went to school from Sept. to March – then in 2 weeks she was dead (typhoid). My oldest child was Reuben, then next a daughter, Ella Viola, next Vera, then a son, Royal and a son Glenn and then Howard Blaine – the baby of the family”.



1 comment:

  1. I have a photo of that first car, a copy of the homestead and a picture (wish I knew it were the same picture) of Kent's mother in my Ancestry.