My maternal Grandfather is Thomas Joel Bunnell.
He was born on October 21, 1887 in Provo, UT. He died on October 31,
1940. I never met him. He is buried in the Provo City Cemetary. He
lived in Vineyard Utah. He served a mission in the Central States
Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was
set apart as a missionary by Orson F. Whitney on 29 December 1907.
He was a farmer as listed on the WWI draft registration information.
He was medium height, medium build with blue eyes and dark hair. His
father is Stephen Ithamer Bunnell Jr. born in 1858 and his mother is
Mary Elizabeth Gammon, who was born in 1857. I never knew my
maternal Grandfather, Thomas Joel Bunnell. I knew my step
grandfather whose name was Earl Wall.
I knew my maternal Grandmother and I love her. Her name is Zelda Holdaway Bunnell. She lived in Orem on
1600 South and about 200 or 300 East. I remember her original home
there. It was an old two story gray house. I particularly remember
the smells of this old house. While Grandma lived there, she did so
with her second husband Earl Wall. I remember that he smoked
cigarettes and by the time I met him, he was getting pretty old and
was pretty inactive. I remember that most of the time, he just sat
in his rocking chair in the south end of the kitchen, smoking or in
the dark, dingy living room watching the Friday night fights,
I also remember their space heater in the
living room on the east wall. It was a dark brown unit that heated
the entire room. The stairs to the upstairs bedrooms were wide and
very steep. I wonder, now, how my Grandparents were able to climb up
these steep stairs at their age. I guess that she wasn't that old,
when I knew her. I believe that she died at about the age of 76 or
77. I was eighteen at that the time, and remember going to her
funeral. Before she died, Earl died and she and her children decided
to tear down the old house and replace it with a new one. It was in
this new home that she eventually died in her sleep, lying on her
Somehow, I was fortunate enough to receive a
nice pioneer vintage desk from my Grandmother's estate. The desk has
a roll top base with a slide-out work surface and a bookshelf top
with two doors that open. Several years ago, I had a friend refinish
the desk and add an oak crown molding around the top of the
bookshelf. It is now in our daughter Amie's home.
I remember finding pieces of stale spearmint
doublemint gum in the west kitchen window sill. What a treat.
Perhaps this is where I got my appetite for stale gum. Grandma would
always cook home-made bread and spread butter and sprinkle sugar on
it for us. Her kitchen smells made her home feel good. It was very
different from our home, but I liked it, except for the cigarette
smoke which hurt my eyes.
Grandma would also make her own lye soap by
rendering tallow or fat from animal fat and adding lye and cooking
the solution and pouring it into bars that would then be cut into
large blocks, which they would use for cleaning their hands,
showering, and their laundry. It always seemed weird that she would
do this, when my Mother just went to the store and bought soap and
the store soap smelled a lot better. The lye soap really had an odd
smell to it. I guess that Grandma's generation was probably the last
one in our country that made their own soap.
While walking around her back yard, one day, I heard a hollow sound.
I later found that this was where she had a buried cesspool. This
meant that her home was not connected to the public sewer system. I
remember fantasizing about what a scary, dark place this must be. It
always made me uncomfortable to walk over this unusual place. I was
always just a little worried, that it might cave in and cause me to
fall in, never to be heard from again. Luckily, I never did fall in.
Grandma had very long grey hair. She would
braid it and loop it around the top of her head, to keep it from
getting in her way. She had a bunch of raspberry plants out in the
back of her yard.
I think that Earl kept a horse out in the back
yard, also. It seems like I remember Earl and my uncle Neal rode
horses together. It seems like I remember hearing that they both
went on some kind of endurance ride together, somewhere around
Payson canyon. It was supposed to be some kind of grueling race. I
don't suppose either of them won the race. I got the impression that
the race was some kind of annual affair. I don't remember hearing of
it since. I must have been very young.
My Grandma seemed to be my connection with the
older generation and everything old. Her generation seemed to me to
be almost contemporaries with the Mormon pioneers. It seemed like
Grandma's family was pretty close and held family reunions quite
often each summer. I remember the endless conversations about
genealogy that went on and on at these events, as my Mother would
talk to other family members and want to identify where they tied
into the family tree. She would get into these discussions with
almost everyone she met, it seemed. I remember the feelings I felt
when I realized that one of these discussions was beginning. Terror!
I knew that it was going to be an eternity, before we could go on.
It seemed that the most preferred relationships would be from the "Vineyard" area of Orem. The area along the Geneva road on the west
side of the valley, just east of Utah lake, between about Center
street and 1600 south. This is where the Holdaways and Bunnells were
from. In all fairness, as I look back on these conversations, I
understand now how normal these were. But as a child, I felt like
they were never ending. I just didn't have any interest at the time
in these things. Now, as I meet people from areas where I have
lived, I do the same thing. It's interesting how we become our
My maternal ancestors were Mormon pioneers.
They were noble, honorable people that believed the story of Joseph
Smith the Mormon prophet and made their way to Utah to live their
religion. One of my ancestors on my Mother's side was named Shadrack
Holdaway. He was a member of the Mormon Battalion. That group of men
was asked by President Brigham Young to travel to California to
assist the federal government there and in exchange the government
would provide desperately needed income to contribute to the
migration effort of the Church to the Utah area. When we lived in
San Diego, I remember seeing his name at the Mormon Battalion
Memorial exhibit, which is maintained by the Church in the Old Town
area of San Diego.
My grandmother's mother is Zelda Maud Holdaway. She
was born on 17 January 1889 in Provo, Utah. She died on 2 August
1967. She is buried by her husband in the Provo Cemetary. Her father
is Marion Haws Holdaway, born in 1855 and her mother is Prudence
Eliza Peay, born in 1854.
This is her life sketch, as dictated to my
mother, Helen Weeks:
I was born in Provo, Utah on 17 January 1889,
the sixth of seven children born to Marion Haws Holdaway and
Prudence Eliza Peay. Brother brothers and sisters were Clara, Frank,
Albert, Florence, Lida, and Jennie.
Our home was located in the middle of the block
on First South, between 5th and 6th West in Provo. It was a white
frame home just across the street from the Pioneer Park. I enjoyed
playing ball games at the park and the band concerts that were held
on Sunday. We had a large variety of fresh vegetables from our
garden that Father planted each year. We lived there until I was ten
years old and I went to the Franklin School. I started in the first
grade and got whooping cough and had to stay out of school for a
long time. We used slates to write on. They were about 10 inches by
12 inches and looked like a blackboard. We used chalk to write on
them. We used coal-oil lamps for light.
We were alone most of the time for Father
worked in the mine in Eureka. Mother, Jennie and I went up on the
train to stay with him once. It must have been hard on him to work
all day in the mine and then get his own supper. He worked for ten
or twelve years in the mines. Father bought property for a farm in
Vineyard within a mile east of Utah Lake. He transformed the
sagebrush land into a bounteous farm of all kinds of fruits, berries
Father hired a rig from Victor Andersen to dig
a well. Then he planted a beautiful hedge of lilacs along the lane
in front of our home. Flowers of many varieties and grass surrounded
the two-story house. South of the house was a beautiful grove of
trees through which a creek flowed. Many native blue-racer snakes
made their home there. There was a grape-arbor leading out South to
the chicken-coop. It was a beautiful home with all the lovely
flowers, green grass, tall trees and delicious fresh fruits and
vegetables to enjoy. We had hard winters and we spent many hours of
enjoyment skating on the nearby ponds.
Sometimes we would skate on Utah Lake and some
of the Vineyard boys would skate all the way across the Lake. It was
dangerous because of the huge cracks that were sometimes several
We attended school in a one-room building
across the street east of where the Geneva Steel Plant is now
located. We had to walk two miles to and from school and to Church
which was across the street from the school.
In my courting days, I loved to dance and had
many enjoyable times at the old Geneva Resort. Trips across the Lake
on the launch on moonlit nights highlighted my courting days. We
danced and sang and had lunch before our return trip. We enjoyed our
family life together. Florence and I were particularly close. We
used to sing together. She would sing lead and I would harmonize. We
sang for many of our ward activities. Some of our favorite songs
were: Moonlight and Roses, I'll take you Home again Kathleen, Carry
Me back to Old Virginia, My Wild Irish Rose, and The Longest Way
Round, is the Sweetest way Home.
There was no schooling beyond the eighth grade
available near-by so I took the eighth grade over again. This gave
me a good background in English Grammar, Spelling, and Mathematics
that enabled me to help my children in later years.
One day, while visiting Aunt Rose, my Mother's
sister in Benjamin, I met a handsome young man; James Earl Wall. He
came to visit me several times in Vineyard. About the same time, one
of the handsome young men in the Ward; Thomas Joe Bunnell started
courting me. He came with his horse and buggy and we went for rides.
What a sight it was to see him coming in his fancy yellow buggy with
his price high stepping horse. We courted for four years off and on.
I went to Idaho Falls and worked in a candy
store for a year. I lived with my sister Lida during this time. I
stayed there about a year then I came home. Joel had been released
from the Central States Mission on 12 March 1908 because of
Rheumatism. He's had his tonsils out by slicing out a little at a
time while he was in Texas on his mission. He was sick all the time
and had to be released.
We were married about three months after I came
home from Idaho. We went along by train to Salt Lake to be married
in the Temple. We were married 5 October 1910. My wedding gown was
white satin. I kept it for many years but somehow, it got lost when
we moved up from Grandma's after Joel died in 1940. It was made in
narrow, straight lines, with long sleeves and pleats around the
bottom. The train stopped above Emma and Jim's where our friends put
us in a buggy and shivareed us with tin cans. We stayed at Mother's
that night. Joel's folks gave us a reception at their home. We lived
with Joel's folks for a few months until we built our own home. My
father and Joel, together with some friends, built our first home.
It was located about a half mile North of his parent's home up on the
hill. It was just two rooms built of white brick. Joel's father died
in July of 1911 with ulcers. Shortly after, we sold our home and
moved in with Grandma. We lived together for a few months while
Grandma's house was being built. We took possession on January 1, 1915.
My first son was born 22 November 1911. We
named him Joel Dean. He was born at Mother's house. Dr. Westwood
came out from Provo on the train. My sister, Jennie met him with the
horse and a little bobsled. My baby was born in the morning. I was
in bed for about two weeks recuperating. He was such a pretty baby
with dark curly hair and hazel eyes. He was as good baby. I had so
much milk, Joel's cousin, Ellen Bunnel, asked me to feed her baby,
Elwin, because she was unable to. They were both healthy babies and
thrived on my milk. Grace was born 17 April 1913. She was born at
the old house. Jesse Emery was born 3 February 1915 and Neal Eugene
was born almost exactly two years later on 2 February 1917. Mary Eva
was born on Christmas Eve on 24 December 1919. Lothield (later
legally changed to Margie) was born 5 May 1922, Helen was born on 17 August
1926, and Dell LeRoy on 27 September 1928.
We all had to work very hard on our thirty-acre
farm. It was difficult to do everything that had to be done. We had
three or four cows most of the time. I had to separate the milk
every morning. We raised our own pigs and chickens.
On the east part of the farm, the ground was
rocky. We planted fruit trees and berries there. We had an orchard
of Cherry trees for fifteen years and it never did bear fruit. The
old grove of trees where Joel's father had his packing shed was
dynamited out in about 1932. This gave us more land to plant berries
There was a cold spring of water in the grove of trees. I used
to keep my butter wrapped in a wet cloth near this cool water to
keep it fresh. Our house was always cool because of the high
ceilings and 52 trees Joel's father had planted around it. There
were Ash, Maple, White Birch, and Tree of Heaven.
To keep the pork from spoiling, we would put
the pork in a brine made of salt and water strong enough to float an
egg. West of the house was rich, brown soil. Joel rotated crops to
enrich the soil. We raised Tomatoes, Cantaloupe, Watermelon,
Carrots, Potatoes; all good things for a garden; Corn, Cucumbers,
Beets, Onions, String Beans, Peppers, Lettuce, Turnips, and Peaches,
Pears, Plums, Apples, and Grapes. We worked so hard. Our day would
start very early. During the berry season, we'd get up at 4:30 so as
to get as much done as possible before the hot sun. It was so cold
that early, with the cold canyon breeze, your hands would be too
stiff to pick very quickly. But before long, the kids would be
praying for rain to cool them off. One morning, Neal curled up in
the middle of a wide row of Raspberries, pulled up his old brown
coat over his ears and went back to sleep. It wasn't long until he
came screaming to the house for someone had found his secret hiding
place and doused him with water. After the fruit was all picked,
Joel would begin loading the truck. He would take a couple of the
children and head up the canyon for Heber, Park City or Kamas to
peddle the fruit; house to house: "Would you like any nice fresh
fruit today?", the children would ask. For lunch, we'd buy sweet
rolls, cheese, and milk. How delicious that would taste. We would stay
until the load was all gone.
I cooked on a coal range. It was big and black.
We polished it with a stove blackening. Every so often the soot that
collected under the oven would have to be burned out. We'd crumple a
piece of newspaper up and push it into the hole under the oven, then
set it afire. The soot would catch fire and go up the chimney in big
chunks. The ashes would have to be taken out almost every day.
Kindling and coal would have to be brought in and stacked by the
stove each night. The fire died down at night and the house was
cold. Designs of ice would be all over the windows in the morning.
New fires would have to be made every morning.
We had an unusual farm because of the different
soil of various types. The upper part, being rocky, was good to grow
fruit and berries. Around the house, the soil was rich for garden
vegetables. Down below was a sand hill where the hay completed with
the sand burrs for survival. How the kids hated to ride the wagon
and tromp the hay with all those sand burrs.
Grandma Bunnell used to say this hill, where
all the sand burrs grew, was an old Indian Burial Ground. She used
to watch the Indians in their ceremonial dances. Below the sand
burrs was pastureland. At one time, Joel tried to drain it. He
worked so hard putting in a drain down through that clay soil. He
dug it about six feet deep. It worked pretty well. He was able to
plant and raise some good celery there. He put a cement ditch all
the way down south of the pasture to carry water to the young Peach
trees he planted on the sand hill. They never seemed to get enough
water to survive. They never did produce.
The children found many arrowheads on the sand
hill. In our earlier years, we were quite well to do. We got our
first car in 1911. It was the very first one in Vineyard. My, but
Joel was proud. He was a very handsome young man. Always neat and
clean: a real dandy. We worked very hard. We would get up with the sun
and go to bed early. We lived and worked the same hours as the
chickens as it was expensive to stay up and use a lamp.
We had to pay $300 to get electricity to the
house from Vicklunds. We had a radio when they first came out.
Before that, we had an old Victorola record player. During the First
World War, prices went up on sugar and flour very high. The
depression years were hard. Even though we all worked very hard,
sometimes we'd get an early frost that would take practically
everything. We'd save our own cantaloupe seed and mellow seed to
plant the next year. Frequently we'd have to borrow to buy seeds and
plants for the coming year. For a short time, we were forced to
accept welfare assistance, although we found this most difficult to
We helped make mattresses by going down to the
old Vineyard school and pounded the cotton into the ticking, then
sewed it up with heavy cord. To pay for the kid's lunches, we sent
milk or gave potatoes for pay. Bit by bit, we began losing our farm.
We sold a little slice off to Noal Ferry, then a little more and
more, until the North property line was just twenty feed from the
Joel was in poor health at this time and was
getting sicker. We traded what was left of the farm and the house to
LaVon Vernon for the property where I live now. There was an old
station house they had hauled in from Soldiers Summit. It was a
miserable old house, cold, rickity and smelly. We moved in about
1938. It was still cold weather. It was about in March,
pleurisy from the cold draught sleeping on the floor the first
night. She sang the lead in the Jr. High School Operetta: "Lady of
the Terrace", the day we moved in. We tried planting tomatoes, but
the cutworms ate them off as soon as we planted. The soil was
run-down and poor.
Joel kept getting sicker. He filled up with
water and had "Dropsy". As the summer wore on, he got weaker and
weaker. He died on 31st of October 1940. (In his 54th year.)
I went down to live with Mother. I worked for
the school lunch for a while. Then I washed windows out at the steel
plant. I made some wonderful friends. Then I sewed slipcovers for
Dixon Taylor Russel in Provo.
Early in November 1942, I wrote this letter to
my daughter Grace: "I can't tell you how surprised I was when Earl
came to see me. My old sweetheart has come back. When I got home
Saturday night, Earl was waiting to see me and Norma had asked him
to stay Sunday, so he did. He said he was divorced a month ago. He
got up and made both fires, took ashes out and dressed Kay and
Ronald. Your mother is going to marry the most honorable man in the
world. We would have been married today on Jess's and Grandma
Holdaway's wedding day, but we'll have to wait five months. Well,
it's Thanksgiving and my heart's so full of thankfulness it's about
There's one thing I'm thankful for, as bad as I
want him that we couldn't get married. We'll have another test to
prove our strength and when we do get married, we'll know we can
trust each other to the end of the earth if need be. Another thing
I'm thankful for is that he came while Grandma Bunnell was still
here. I took him over last night and told her the most wonderful
love story she had ever heard and someday maybe I'll tell it to the
world. I told her Earl would love to call her mother if she would
let him and we were going to do all we could to make her life the
happiest she has ever known. She said she was glad I had come and
talked to her and wants us to come as much as we can, which of
course we'll do.
There's another thing I'm thankful for, and I
guess you'll laugh at it, and that is that he came before my hair
all turned gray. I guess you'll say to yourself: "What made her
think he'd come?" Well, it's this: I always felt that if I lived a
good, clean life and raised my family the same way, this happiness
would come to me. And when we shook hands, we both knew it had, but
he didn't even kiss me till the next day. He knew how I felt towards
him. Then, when I was in his arms, for which I had waited so long,
he kissed the tears away. When I danced with him the other night, I
felt like I could dance through life with him. He's only been here a
little over a week and we have been to two dances and to church.
They hold church conjointly at the Scera and there was a man there
who was the President of the European Mission at the outbreak of the
war. He gave one of the most wonderful talks I have ever heard. He
visits the camps where our boys are. One night, there was only one
left in camp and he asked where the others were? He said they had
gone to the other end of town for a night of revelry. "Why didn't
you go?" the speaker asked. He said: "I have just received a letter
from my dad telling how he believed in me and trusted me and do you
think I could go after that?" He said how important it is that we
write letters to the boys whether they belong to us or not.
We are going to church every Sunday and I am
going to pay tithing. Then we are going to another honorable man,
Bishop Gappmeyer, and ask for a recommend. How I wish that all of
you could go through the temple with us. There will be five months to
prepare and I don't see why you can't. How thankful I am that I have
been so my girls could come to me with their problems.
one in the world that has more to be thankful for that I have today.
To think that I could go through life with two handsome men loving
me and another good thing about it is that they resemble each other,
having the same blue eyes. Grandma Bunnell said so last night.
Sunday, Helen was combing my hair by the window and he had gone and
gotten in the truck. As he drove by I said "Oh, Helen, Look!" He
looked so much like Pop I had to cry.
I've made the footprints for you children to
step in and I don't think you have missed many. If this letter will
be the means of living so you can get a recommend, I will be the
happiest person in the world. How I wish I had been more pleasant
and given you the love you craved. I'm going to try to make up to my
grandchildren what I didn't give my children. And whatever time and
money I have, I'm going to use to try to make someone happy. I can't
help but feel there has been a higher power than ours that has had a
hand in shaping our lives.. . . Earl and I were married 10 May 1942.
We were happy together. We went on some nice
trips together. One we went on was to the Northwest. Earl's children
went with us. We went up the Columbia River. Saw beautiful country.
Earl loved to fish. I learned to fish with him. Earl loved horses.
He liked me to go riding with him. Earl died suddenly of a massive
heart attack on 23 March 1961. Since then, I have been lost.
Suddenly I was left alone. All my children were married and gone. I
went into shock and depression after Earl left me.
The children arranged to have a new house built
for me in place of the old one. I have tried to find something to
interest me, something to do to make someone happy. I have always
said, "If I can't do something for someone else, I don't want to
live!" I'm all alone now, Grace Nuttal has been living with me for
four years but she has gone to live in California now. I don't seem
to have anything to live for. I don't know why I can't go!
comments: Mama passed away apparently quietly in her sleep sometime
the night of 3 August 1967. We all became alarmed when we couldn't
get her by phone. Neal and Joe found her. She lived such a good
life. She worked so hard always thinking of someone else instead of
her own wants, needs or desires. She was completely unselfish. Her
wants were little. She lived as the Savior taught: "For inasmuch as
ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done
it unto me." May she be at peace and receive eternal joy and
happiness which she so justly deserves. We all loved her so.... and
cherish our sweet memories. . Her melodious voice. . . her smile . .
. the twinkle in her eye as she watched her grandchildren toddle
across the floor, or come running to her . . arms outstretched. God
bless you Mama darling and keep you till we meet again. [History
written by Helen B. Weeks as she told me (and posthumously to the
best of my ability)]