Announcing Delbert and Barbara Roach's book on
William and Violate Burgess and their family
OUR FATHER --
When I was visiting with my sister, Thelma [Jones], and her husband, Alvin, she let me read a short account of my Father's life - written by my sister, Mame -up to the time she was married and left the family home.
It seems like I remember more events in our Mother's life, than I do my Father's. I think it was because we were with her more, and because of Father's work, we saw him only a short time in the morning and evening.
Father and Mother had such a large family raising twelve children, losing one small baby, William, at birth. Father said he had such a great desire for his children to obtain a good education that he sold his interests in the Mountain Meadow Ranch, and moved to St. George, Utah.
I'm sure it was events in his own life that made him feel that a good education was so precious. So I would like to relate this story about my grandfather, Harrison Burgess, and his wife, Sophia:
Grandfather Harrison Burgess's first wife was a school teacher, and she begged Grandfather to take a second wife because she was unable to bear children. Aunt Sophia said, "It isn't fair that you have no one to carry on your name, and have no children of your own." She told Harrison, "If you promise me you will do this, I will educate your children."
Father said she never forgot that promise. He would always try to hade from her, so he could go play with the other kids, but she always found him and Grandpa supported her about this schooling.
Later Dad told me what having a good education meant to him. He said, "My life has been so rewarding. I can read - and understand what I read. It's not only to be able to read for enjoyment, but to know what's going on in the world, to understand the scriptures, and to follow political events in the governing of our country."
In the Doctrine and Covenants we are told to gain all the knowledge we can about everything. So we can see how badly Father would have felt if he had kept the ranch for material gains and deprived his children of an education he valued so highly in his own life.
In St. George Father bought a home by the Black Hill, [the southwest corner of 400 West Tabernacle Street] and twenty-six acres of farming land in the Santa Clara fields. He also bought many acres of range land, and leased acres of range land from the federal government.
He told me many times in the first years of purchase, the feed in the hills was so good it reached to the bottom of the stirrups on his saddle. Then as the years went by the climate changed. The Dixie country became - most of the time - a hot, dry desert wasteland. Just imagine those faithful pioneers trying to reap a harvest from that dry, parched soil.
Father tried to farm and raise cattle. When those dry years came he lost so many head. In those days one couldn't obtain a loan from the government to purchase feed for their starving animals. I can imagine our father with a heavy heart watching his cattle die one by one. Then every day feeling that hot wind blowing in his face, and wondering if it would ever cease.
It seemed like at the time of my sister, Diantha's death, we were down at the farm, and I remember everyone crying and all of us going to her home and Father lifting me in his arms that I might look down on her still, quiet face. After I was much older, I was told my sister had a miscarriage and lost the baby. She was in bed, and seemed to be recovering when death came. Diantha was smiling at the time, and there was still a trace of that smile on her lips after her life was gone. Death came to her so quickly. We know now that many people die from a blood clot to the brain or to the heart.
I think father's legs and knees bothered him most of the time. He was always getting them hurt. I can remember seeing him sitting on the lounge [that] Grandfather Rogers made, his face white with pain, and the doctor pulling gauze from an incision he'd made in father 's leg, to rid him of infection or blood poisoning caused by a bruise to the bone.
In a tape I recorded a few months after my own husband's death, I told about Dad liking to have us children go with him on trips to the ranch and to the farm in the Santa Clara fields. Thelma and I would sit in the back of the old white top buggy with our feet and legs dangling out at the back and on going through the creek bed. Dad would trot the horses and we would sing to the top of our voices we were so happy.
Another thing I remember about father was his love for flowers. On his rides in the hills he would get off his horse and gather wild flowers, that we might enjoy them too. It seemed like we always had a vase of wild flowers in our home. Seemed like Mother liked to place the flowers on the back of our big flour box, so she could see them as she spent a great deal of time in the kitchen.
When I think of that huge flour box, and how happy Dad and Mother were to get it filled in the fall so would have our winter supply. It brings back lots of happy memories. I remember dad as he emptied the last sacks of flour in the bin, he would push his hat to the back of his head and smile in a strange happy way at us kids.
Father said he hated to be so reserved, and wished he could talk more, and let people know just how he felt. I remember many nights I'd hear Father and Mother talking in bed until I would go to sleep. If they every felt like quarreling they didn't do it in front of us children. It was always peaceful and orderly in our home.
I know we came to this earth to obtain a body, also we know that we will be tested in various ways. It is how we respond to this testing that the Lord will judge us. So we need to grow in faith and in hope and love and charity, and be filled with humility - it's so important, these are such wonderful attributes, I think my father and mother were such good examples of how they accepted these tests in the right spirit.
In the last years of Father's life they'd had good rains and a little more water to irrigate with. The alfalfa hay did good and father had a large haystack for his share. In the haystack yard, there were three or four large stacks of hay belonging to others. In late summer a bad storm swept through the valley, and lightning struck father's haystack and completely destroyed his crop. The other stacks of hay weren't even touched, although they were only a few feet away. A while before that a Mexican boy burned Dad's barn and corrals, and he never had the money to replace them.
I can't remember him ever feeling sorry for himself and protesting to the Lord. Even though he needed the money and he and David were very poor.
When Mother was killed he really suffered so much. [She died in an automobile accident in 1926.] He said it was terrible to feel her grow cold and stiff in his arms. I realize more what he went through now, having lost my husband. It's hard to face life alone. It's just like part of you is gone.
Father was so independent. During the Great Depression many people accepted relief from the government. Father didn't believe in it. He felt like as long as you could work, you should strive to take care of yourself. (He had the same philosophy as Brigham Young.) So he started raising chickens to sell, and he also kept laying hens.
He died [in 1936] suddenly one evening while doing chores. When they lifted him to bring him into the house his little worn wallet fell from his pocket. In that little purse they found enough money for all his burial clothes. So even to the end he was strong and wise and independent. What a wonderful example for all of us.
In this short sketch of my father's life, I've tried to show what a noble and honest person he really was. He loved his family; and Mother and Dad brought much happiness into their home. There were many joyous occasions we shared together.
In material things our needs were many, nevertheless, we realized they did the best they could for us. Times were hard, and we accepted what they could give us, and were grateful for their sacrifices.
Our parents had a strong influence for good in our lives. Their great examples and good teachings became a part of our lives. We loved them dearly for they bestowed upon us the greatest gifts.
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