Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bertha South? Salinas? Cragun

by Larry Cragun

Bertha is my mother. She was born in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho on August 24, 1916. Through our childhood years only small pieces of her story came to light. For example, she told us her maiden name was Salinas. Then when I was about  17 years old she said her maiden name was South. That was confusing to me, but what the heck, South it is, I guess.

Curiously, my best friend Calvin McOmber had cousins that were Souths. They were from Salt Lake City and came to spend vacation time with my friends the McOmbers in the summer. We became good friends over the years and this summer, having a South grandpa I told Mary Ann that my grandpa was a South. Mary Ann jumped all over that and insisted we go tell her dad. "Dad, Larry's grandpa is a South". "What's his name he asked?" "I don't know I answered." So with all of us curious by now I called home and asked my mom my grandpas name. (I insert here that only one of my grandparents lived long enough for me to know them, my dads mom.) I said out loud that my mother said my grandpas name was Edward Rich South. Agast, Mary Ann said that's the name of her grandpa. "Dad, he has the same grandpa we do!" Mary Ann's father quickly took over the phone to talk to the half sister he never knew that he had. We only lived a short distance from the McOmbers and he went an met my mother. I don't remember how long he was there but I do remember how good they treated my mother and us from that day forward.

Treating  her good was knew to my mother. Her mother had her out of wedlock it seems. The story is a story attached to Nancy Salinas Porter in family tree. It is different that we as kids assumed, that my grandma was a slut.  Her story is actually very different. Grandma Nancy died at age 44 and of course mother didn't talk about it. We have only bits and  pieces to explain my mothers internal gremlins.

We can get a glimpse by these facts and a story. Grandma Nancy Porter grew up in Porterville, Utah.  Her dad had been Bishop of the Porterville Ward for 17 years. Nancy was the Stake Young Womens President when she got pregnant with my mom. Her dad had passed away prior to the pregnancy. Four stories makes obvious the shame grandma Nancy brought to Porterville. The first is that mother was having fun on a  hay wagon ride with the kids in Porterville. At least it was fun until a parent stopped the wagon and told my mother she couldn't ride with the other kids. This cruel moment left a permanent indelible mark on her self esteem. Second, her Uncle Arch Rich was the Bishop at this time. My father told me that he was so cruel to her that she couldn't stay in Porterville, thus the move to Burley, Idaho where she died a young age. Thirdly, I remember being about ten years old and driving to Porterville with my mom to visit a relative. The picture of the house is clear in my memory. I think it was John President Porters home, as I have returned to Porterville to try and find it. Mom didn't tell me why she went to the house only that I must stay in the car. She was only in the house a short time when she came out sobbing.

Fourth is the story of how she met Thomas Salinas. Mother was about eight years old living in Burley now. She was out in the yard eating a piece of dirty bread. Thomas walked by and asked why she was eating that. "It is all we have she responded". Thomas lived next to her Aunt and asked the Aunt if this could be true. "It  possibly is she responded". The next day Thomas was at grandma's door with a bag of groceries, meat and potatoes. He told her that he was from Mexico, working at the potato processing plant. He said he hadn't had a good home cooked meal since he left Mexico, and if he provided the food would she do the cooking? This began a courtship where over a year later they were married in the Logan LDS temple.

I am sure it is my mother that sent into the LDS church records that Nancy Athena Porter and Edward Rich South were married in Salt Lake City. I find no proof of that. The letter of Nancy's story implies that either she was persuaded to an illegal polygamist marriage or that she was persuaded to a future marriage. I lean towards the later, that they were never married. Mother always called Thomas daddy. Because of these facts I choose to select Thomas as the grandfather I follow in family tree. It his he whom my grandma really loved. It was he who treated her well.

I guess this story is not unique, that many of our trees have things about them our parents or grandparents want kept in secret or not talked about. As for me I want the true story. I am thankful that at least Nancy had the foresight to write part of it down, or have someone type it for her.

I would say that my mother carried her complexes throughout her life. I wished that she had been a  happier person. Perhaps things are better for her now. Perhaps those in Porterville whom have gone on have had a chance to make things better. I hope so.

You might notice in the fan chart above that the Salinas line is sketchy. I am hoping my Spanish speaking children and grandchildren are able to research this line.

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