Carrie Pratt Robison Despain Biography (1885-1973)
Carrie Pratt Robison Despain Biography (1885-1973)
|Born:||15 Oct 1885 Fillmore, Utah|
|Died:||17 Jul 1973 Salem, Oregon|
|Father:||Franklin Alonzo Robison|
|Mother:||Isabella Eleanor Marden Pratt|
|Siblings:||Alonzo Franklin Robison
Parley Proctor Robison
Joseph Alfred Robison
Herma Lucretia Robison
Belinda Pratt Robison
Ruth Pratt Robison
Isabella Pratt Robison
Carrie Pratt Robison
Alma Pratt Robison
Harmel Pratt Robison
Parker Pratt Robison
Olea Pratt Robison
|Half Siblings:||Willis Nephi Robison
Lois Hattie Robison
Herbert Alonzo Robison
Ella Adelia Robison
Ancil Platte Robison
Addie Florence Robison
Bernard Thorpe Robison
Nolan Frederick Robison
Homer Franklin Robison
Eldred Vickery Robison
Loran Culbert Robison
Lindon Wells Robison
Alda Leona Robison
|Spouse:||Alvin Augustus Despain|
|Married:||4 Jan 1911 Salt Lake City, Utah|
Joseph Marden Despain
Orin Alvin Despain
Parker Robison Despain
Parley William Despain
Sarah Melba Despain
Carrie Faye Despain
Carrie Pratt Robison Despain Biography (1885-1973)
Carrie Pratt Robison in Fillmore
Excerpts from Her Journal
I was born in the town of Fillmore, Millard Co., Utah of goodly parents. My father was Franklin Alonzo Robison, son of Joseph Robison and Lucretia Hancock Robison.
My mother was Isabella Eleanor Marden Pratt Robison, daughter of Parley P. Pratt and Belinida Marden Pratt. I was born Oct. 15, 1885, Thursday at 11 p.m. and blessed 4 Feb. 1886 by Christian Anderson.
When I was old enough to remember anything, I found myself in a comfortable home surrounded by a house full of brothers and sisters and the sweetest-voiced mother.
I must have been 2 or 3 years old when I remember her rocking me and singing sweetly the song “Mother’s Voice,” her favorite cradle song.
My mother called me a “Daffi-down-dilly” I suppose you will find out why by the time you finish reading my history.
I was born in a very historic rock house, the first house built outside of the old fort in Fillmore, Grandma Robison used to tell us how when she and Grandpa Robison planned to build a house, she wanted a rock one and he was satisfied to build an adobe one.
She reasoned with him and tried every way she could to get him to build a rock house, but he was determined and had the adobes hauled, big rain storm came and washed the adobes till they could not be used.
Then Grandma said, “Hurrah! Now I’ll have a rock one.” So they hauled the rock and built four rooms and a cellar, two rooms upstairs and two down. The walls downstairs were two feet thick and upstairs one and a half feet thick, making the windows and doorways very deep. The windows were small, making the house quite cool and dark.
Three of the rooms had fireplaces. My father traded his house of two or three rooms to Grandma for hers when she was old. He gave her $10.00 difference on the trade, so all of Mother’s children were born in the rock house but the first son, Frank.
The house was on Main Street, straight across from the State House, a rock building now very historic… We had a big lawn on three sides of the house and a brick granary where Father stored his wheat, a few feet away on the south side. Father, after he bought the house from Grandma, built a brick addition of three rooms and later a frame addition of three rooms, making a ten-room house, with two porches, the front porch being both upstairs and downstairs. Railings were all the way around upstairs and we quite often slept out on the porch in the summer.
We had a large barn corral, orchard, and garden in the back, generally a big swing, and also a big cedar wood pile and carriage house in which Father kept his big white carriage. We generally had one or two pigs in a pen, and some calves, cows, horses, and chickens in the barn or corral. We also had a big shed for the cows to stand under. The barn was generally full of hay.
We called one room upstairs the girls’ room, It was large, with a fireplace, mantle, and shelf It also had the stairway that came up from downstairs, and a door going out onto the front porch, both east and west windows, two beds, a dresser, and a rag carpet on the floor. This was my bedroom. We used coal oil lamps.
We had no conveniences as people have today (1930). Our coal oil lamps, of which we had two or three, had to be washed and filled with coal oil about every other day; then the light from them was very dim. We would set the lamp in the middle of the table. Those away from the table could not see plainly.
There were no street lights or lights of any kind outside. In the meeting house, lamps were placed in brackets on the walls so all could see.
There was no piped water. A water master turned water down in the ditches that ran in front of everyone’s home in the street for one hour every morning.
Everyone had a barrel of two setting just inside their gate. These they would fill up with buckets (from the ditches). The water was often muddy. We had to wait for the water in the barrel to settle, it was so full of dirt. After floods, etc., when it was extra muddy, we stirred an egg into it, which settled it better.
When we needed water we went to the barrel and brought in a pail at a time. The pail was kept in a convenient place in the kitchen and Mother kept a dipper hanging near so we could drink or dip water for other purposes. On wash day we had to hustle out and dip up more water than usual to fill the boiler and tubs.
We had rag carpets on all of our floors. Very few people had boughten carpets. I heard Mother say before she died that she had been married forty years and had a rag carpet made every year of her married life. We children had to sit for hours at a time sewing and cutting carpet rags and rolling them up into balls.
Every spring, Mother weighed the balls and sent several sacks full to the weaver, along with red and green warp she bought for weaving it. Mother always dyed the white and dull light rags before winding them up into balls.
When the carpets was finished it would be in long strips about three feet wide. Mother would measure the room and sew the carpets together to cover all the floor.
When the carpet was ready, we would have house cleaning. We would take down all the draperies-, pictures, etc., and with a tack lifter take all the tacks out of the carpet already on the floor.
With one person at each corner, we would lift it out on the lawn without scattering any more straw than we could help. Then we would take up the straw that had been under the carpet all winter and carry it to the corral by tubs full.
The air would be full of fine dust and the floor would cover with fine dirt. This out, we washed everything in the room. When it was clean, we would bring clean straw and put it down on the clean floor.
Then, with one person holding each corner, we spread the new carpet. We had a carpet stretcher; the carpet had to be stretched to reach the mop board on every side, which took a lot of strength and tugging and tacking by the whole family, Mother always doing the heaviest part.
We would all go out and beat the carpet that had been taken up, and after taking up another dirty carpet in another room, we would put the cleaned carpet down. We went through the house every Spring and Fall in this way ’til the house was all clean with freshened or new carpets and clean straw.
Every spring one old carpet was discarded and a new one put down. Sometimes the walls were freshly papered and other necessary repairs made, quite often Mother doing the papering and repairs herself. After all the cleaning was done, how refreshing it was with the mountain breezes filling the house with fresh air and the fragrance of plum and locust blossoms in the spring.
There were no cement walks or pavements or oiled roads in those days, and clouds of dust blew up in the road, and in the winter the mud was so deep you could hardly get through it.
In the spring we tried to make a garden; sometimes we succeeded and sometimes not. We had a goat and quite often lambs, which ate everything, even the currant and rose bushes.
Mother endured it as long as she could, but at times we would get rid of our extra animals so we would have a garden, if the chickens didn’t take it all. Of course they always ran loose-no one ever heard of shutting up chickens. It was a “necessary evil” to have chickens scratching up everything.
If you could get any vegetables or flowers with their scratching, it was fine; if not, you just had to get along. It was one of my jobs to herd the mother hens and keep them off the garden and away from the neighbors. At times I would spend hours herding, feeding,and hunting up the baby chicks.
I generally had a lot to do with the garden. I always tried to dig, plant, and raise a flower garden and I spent a lot of time irrigating and weeding the vegetables, trees, and shrubbery. We had several rows of currant bushes and it was mine and Isabell’s job to pick the currants, which took us several days in the summer.
Our orchard was mostly peach and apple trees. We had a big swing in an apple tree and spent many happy hours swinging. Uncle Joseph had a big walnut tree that overspread a section of our lot, and we spent many happy hours under it. In the fall we had all the nuts that fell on our side.
With all of our work and hardships, we had much fun too. We were always building play houses of boards and old pieces of carpet in a grove of locust trees north of the house. Then our dolls and sewing doll clothes and carpet rags kept us busy. We quite often read stories out there too.
We never did see coal. Such a thing was rare in Fillmore Father and the boys hauled loads of cedar wood from the hills about ten miles west of town, and in the summer we went up the creek for flood wood.
We had to wash, iron, cook, keep warm, and heat water from the heat of the wood stove, which made lots of work and litter. Mother always washed on Monday, rain or shine.
Father had other property called the Warner lots, and after the cows were milked, we would chase them up the road to the lots and go and get them at night.
Quite often we had to stay and herd them if the fence was down to keep them from getting out. We spent most of the day playing in the sand and building houses and other things with it while we watched the cows. Mother always carried the pans of milk out on the steps to skim into ajar, in which she kept the cream.
My father was a large man, very proud and straight, and also very strict and firm at times, though he was very jovial and enjoyed a good lot of fun and jokes. From my childish point of view, he was almost unmovable, with not much sympathy or consideration for his children, but from my later view, when I was more mature,
I better understood and found him to have a big sympathetic heart. He was away quite a lot of the time, having three families and lots of sheep and cattle and a farm to look after, and also being “on the underground,” that is, chased around by U.S. Marshals. He spent a lot of time in hiding [because he was a polygamist.]
Father was a great fellow to arise early in the morning if he stayed at our house, he would generally get up and go away after he had called the family up. If he stayed somewhere else he would come in at about five a.m. and call upstairs and all through the house, “It’s morning! It’s time to get up.” Then Father would go out and work or go o on to one of his other places and call his family there.
He didn’t swear, nor break the Word of Wisdom- and in looking back- it’s remarkable how kindly he did treat his children, having so many and so much responsibility. He was really firm and steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments.
On one, occasion, Father asked me to come and carry water while he planted trees on one of his lots. I carried panful after panful of water from across the street, trudging back and forth with the bucket. I was bareheaded and barefooted. He called me “Pet” when he was instructing me about turning the water.
I was very much elated over this and could have worked myself to death for so much attention. He only said “Pet” to some of his children, sometimes.
If I ever asked Father if l could go anywhere or do anything, he always said, “Ask your mother,” so I seldom ever bothered to ask him unless he came to take the buggy out of the carriage house.
Then every one of us would grab a sunbonnet or a hat and go running out, saying, “May I go? May I go?” Once in a while he would let some of us go, which was one of the greatest pleasures of our lives.
Every summer there was a big flood or two in Chalk Creek. Great boulders, logs, brush, and mud would come down the creek with an awful roar right after a storm. A few days after,
Father would get his most able-bodied children in the wagon and go after a few loads of driftwood. We would go up the creek where the pieces had been lodged by the water and pick up a load that didn’t have to have much chopping. It would be covered with mud. Mother hated it. It was quite often soggy and hard to burn, besides being covered with mud, so as to make the kitchen dirty.
Every fall, Father took us down to the farm to pick up potatoes. He would plow them out and a bunch of children, about two children for every bucket, would follow along the furrows and pick up the potatoes and empty them into a big wagon box.
We would sit on the banks of the streams in the willows and eat our lunch. When the wagon was full, we would all pile in and go home. As we had seven miles to travel each way, it took all day working as hard as we could.
Father was a man of great faith. Whenever any were sick, he administered to them and they were healed. On one occasion I had the rheumatism very badly.
My hip and all the way down my leg pained me until I could not endure any weight on it. I could only lie on my back or my other side. Father came upstairs to my bed and administered to me, and while he was praying,
I felt the pain lift and go out of my leg, and I never had any more pain. I was completely healed. When he administered, it was generally that way. People from all over town sent for him when they had sickness. He had the gift of healing.
On one occasion some sheep were lost. The herders and the menfolk hunted everywhere. It seemed as though they couldn’t be found. Father prayed about them and in the night he dreamed he saw them, bedded just as they would be in the night.
He saw exactly where they were. Early the next morning he got up and told the herders where they were, and they went and found them just where he saw them. He had many such experiences.
Father always paid his tithing. He had family prayers with his families and held many offices in the church. He had many friends and lots of company. People who came from all over the county on business or to conferences.
Priesthood meetings, or other things, came and stayed with us so that we generally had company. Father’s gates and doors were always open to his friends, which were numerous, and he enjoyed entertaining them.
No words can describe the beautiful and superior character of my mother. She was as though an angel had been transported from heaven. She willingly, kindly, and sweetly raised eleven children. She had twelve, one died at five years of age. She had six of each, I being her eighth child and Father’s tenth.
She worked unceasingly from early till late feeding, clothing, and teaching us, and trying in every way to make us comfortable and happy. She was very affectionate and kind, hardly ever spoke to us without a pet name, and always gave us praise and appreciation.
Mother was very bright and well informed and was continually teaching or reading to us beautiful lessons in life. She loved nature and would take us for walks and hunt for pretty rocks, flowers, birds, animals, moss, and other interesting things, From my earliest recollections, she was in demand by the public, always presiding, teaching, instructing, helping the poor, and especially saying words of kindness and encouragement to all she came in contact with.
People everywhere looked up to her and loved and respected her and confided in her. She used good English and good language, never allowing us to swear or use slang. Our music and literature were also of a very high class.
In the winter in the evening we gathered around the stove in the living room or around the cheery fire in the fireplace and sang, read, told stories, or studied our lessons. From my very earliest recollection I attended Primary every Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the old adobe meeting house in Fillmore.
Aunt Susannah Robison, Sister Partridge, and Sister Annie Bishop were the presidency and only teachers. Aunt Susannah said she never missed a Primary for 25 years and I believe it, as she and I were always there.
They used to have Volunteer Primary about once a month, in which each one would volunteer to do something. My older sister Josie and I were very young. We said we would sing so we got upon the stand.
She never could carry a tune and neither of us knew the same songs if we knew any, but we started to sing about some little chickens that went riding in a boat, and what one of us couldn’t think to sing, the other one could. We sang for quite a while, until Aunt Susannah said that was enough and had us sit down. I guess we would have sung all day.
Before I was old enough to go to school, I used to go to religion class with Mother. She was the teacher and would arrive at the school just as school was out to take charge of the religion class.
Mother called me her errand girl and I was always on the go. I was very sociable and not afraid of anyone. I called on lots of people and visited with them, especially old ladies. I couldn’t bear to have my mother go off without me.
I came in and said “Where is Ma?” If I couldn’t find her at home, I started right out and went to every store and to the neighbors till she was located. I went to all meetings of importance in town, to all funerals, special programs of any kind, celebrations, or whatever went on.
I started in school in a little, old, rock, one-room school house when I was nearly seven years old. I looked forward to going to school. I could hardly wait. The new teacher who was coming to teach the first grade turned out to be Miss Dillon, one of the dearest teachers.
She came from the East and there was something about her personality different than anyone I had ever seen before. We all loved and respected her and thought she was beautiful and sweet.
I was left handed. It being hard far me to write on paper, she sent me with 2 or 3 others to the board to write. I wrote on the board easily with my right hand, but on paper it was different. I, to this day, write on a blackboard with my right hand and on paper with my left.
Arithmetic was extremely hard for me. I could not understand anything about it. Other subjects were very easy and I progressed rapidly, going into the third grade at the end of the year. Miss Dillon taught us many songs and stories and also physical exercises.
The teacher always asked me to remain and dust and straighten up her desk and clean the boards. She always said I could do that better than anyone else. All were eager to help her.
Christmas came and a Christmas program was being arranged. I was elated over having to recite. I learned the piece well. It was “The Night Before Christmas.”
Christmas eve came, the happiest time of all the year. All of my brothers and sisters both little and big went to the Christmas program. The Christmas tree, a big pine, was loaded down with toys, etc. Santa Claus would be there. My turn came to recite.
I did not feel one bit afraid, although the meeting house was packed to its fullest, a good many standing up. For being such a crowd and I being so small, they stood me upon the pulpit so all could see me.
I shouted “It was the night before Christmas” etc. When I came to the part “And he had a broad face and a round little belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly,” they laughed so hard. I had to stop reciting till they were quiet again. The piece was new. It had just come out and hadn’t been heard before in Fillmore.
Soon bells were heard and Santa bounded out from behind the tree with a present for each child in the house. I received a very unusual doll, a kind I hadn’t seen before, although I had looked through the stores… This doll happened to have been sent by my grandmother Pratt from Salt Lake. Each Christmas she and Aunt Lynn … sent a box of things, something for each child.
After finishing my first year in the little rock school house, I went to school in the State House, which was straight across the street from my house… I attended school there many years.
I very well remember when we all went to Sunday School and meeting. Mother used to go and take every child. We would form a line across the sidewalk and wheel a baby before us in the buggy.
Mother was librarian and also a S.S. teacher and we never to my remembrance ever missed. a Sunday. Sister Powell, a Scotch lady, was my teacher. She taught me “it is a sin to steal a pin, much more a greater thing”… She also taught us the song “I think when I read that sweet story of old…” That song has always been very near and dear to me.
As I got older, Brothers Turner and Fortie were my teachers. They were very pious and strict. They had a Bible they passed from one student to another and had each read a verse. Later on I had Brother Jesse Giles, a sort of jovial fellow who told very interesting stories and showed pictures of the stories so that all the children were delighted.
He had me recite once in a S. S. Conference the song “Behold the Great Redeemer Die,” all four or five verses. I never have forgotten it and that song has always been an inspiration to me since.
A little later, my own mother and Sister Olson were the teachers. They taught the life of Christ, gave us leaflets to prepare our lessons, and made the lessons very impressive. Christ’s sermon on the mount and other things in the life of Christ I have never forgotten.
I was baptized July 5,1894, by Thomas C. Callister and confirmed at the same time and place by Nelson S. Bishop. I was baptized down behind the old mill in the creek. I felt so good after and like I never wanted to do another mean or wicked thing.
On June 12,1895, when I was 10, I had a patriarchal blessing by Patriarch John Ashman. Here is what Brother Ashman said to me in the blessing: “Thou hast been blessed with great faith.
Even in thy child hood thou hast prayed secretly unto God, thy father. When you have seen your mother in sorrow and weeping you have prayed to God to bless her and she has been comforted. This is your calling to pour the oil of gladness…. Wherever you go there will be sunshine and joy.”
My grandmother Pratt died. Of course my mother, her youngest daughter, mourned, and felt very badly. when she read the news. I went upstairs and kneeled down and prayed for the Lord to comfort her, imagining how I would feel should my mother die.
About a year later the patriarch told it to me in this blessing and not a living soul knew anything about it, not even my mother at the time.
When I was 13, I started in Mutual and was the Secretary for a year or two… One day [ met Sister Olson, President of the Y.L.M.I.A., down by the old meeting house… She said “You are old enough now to go to Mutual” I said,”Na, I’m only 13,” and she said,”You are tall enough and you can come now,” so I started and never missed a Mutual for years.
I was very diligent in all of my church activities, never missing a meeting of any kind. I know when I was about 14, 1 didn’t have a suitable hat and the folks tried to make me stay home on that account, and I tied a fascinator on my head and went anyway. It would have been an awful punishment to have had to stay at home.
Fillmore was a town of about 1200 people. I was very well acquainted with them all, both old and young. Some of them were a great curiosity to me. Living right in the center of town, I saw nearly everyone pass about once a week.
Up to the time I was thirteen years old, I had never been more than ten miles outside of Fillmore. Deep down in my heart I had an intense longing to go to Salt Lake. I felt lonely and out of place and homesick in Fillmore.
At times I had such an urge to go that I would start out and go as far as the edge of town then realize the impossibility of going away and would reluctantly go back home feeling lonely and sad never could tell why I so much longed to go; the desire seemed to have been born in me.
When I was thirteen, one of my cousins sent Mother the money to come to Salt Lake. Oleo was two years old, so Mother took her and took me to take care of her while she visited with her relatives. I had never seen the train, nor any of the other modern things we have…
My school days were very happy ones. I had many ambitions. I loved to write History, English, literature, and singing were my favorite subjects, as well as botany, geography, and physiology. Art, such as drawing, and arithmetic were very distasteful. I always arose very early in the morning and it was in these morning hours that I accomplished much of my education.
I had a great desire for learning. I remember one spring crying because school was letting out for the summer. I always had in mind that if I could only get an education I would help my dear mother, who never did seem to have enough money to buy the necessities for a large family.
I had a good voice for singing, or at least, I had lots of praise when I had sung on various occasions. One night, when I was fifteen years old, I sang in a school entertainment. The house was filled and I received much applause. One Dr. Hinkley patted me on the back and said, “There’s a wonderful voice walking around here.”
Most of the young people were not congenial to me, especially the boys. There was not a single prospect of a nice mate for me in Fillmore. Only one ever tried to take me out in that town and I ran away from him. He was about a fifth cousin and very undesirable.
Carrie Pratt Robison Despain Biography (1885-1973)
Some incidents in Carrie’s life
as recorded by Carrie
I sent this piece to Alvin 60 years ago when he was on a mission in the Eastern States.
You ask me: will I love you always, dear?
Oh heart of mine that cannot answer clear and sure.
I cannot tell, yet this I know,
That now I love you best of all below.
I know but this, that with thee by my side,
The moments set to sweetest music glide,
and when thou art away I only know
I live far thinking twill not long be so
I know but this that if I had to choose
Twixt all the world and thee, the world I’d lose;
yet losing all the world and gaining thee,
I’d win the whole, Thou art the world to me
you ask me will it always be so strong;
1 cannot tell, yet it has been so long,
so long dear heart, I think t’will always be,
Thru life, thru death, Aye thru eternity
Oct. 6, 1910 1 met Alvin at the October General Conference, I had known him then for about a year but had not seen him very often.
He had a team of horses he worked with hauling oar and other freight from Sandy to Alta. The road to Alta could hardly be described for its roughness, all up hill over rocks and high places so rough a person could hardly stay in the wagon.
When he rested at night and Sunday he felt obliged to have those horses rest too or they would not be fit to go again next day.
I was employed as a nurse in Dr. W.H. Rothwell’s office in Murray Utah. Must have been about 10 miles from where he lived in Granite, on the bench East of Sandy so seeing each other was few and far between.
One day I met Lauretta on the bus coming from Salt Lake and she invited me to come out to Granite some time, to let them know when I could come and they would meet me in Sandy and take me up those steep hills to Granite.
It was 4 July 1910 when I decided to go up there. Up to that time I did not know Alvin from his brothers. He was the oldest of the bunch. I had met about the whole family when I was Lauretta’s nurse in the LDS Hospital when she was operated on for Appendicitis.
4 July 1910 Alvin met me with a horse and buggy in Sandy. When we arrived in Granite, the folks were so busy. The girls had to pick the raspberries before they could go any place.
So in time Alvin with his work horse and buggy took Lauretta and me up the canyon a ways. It was beautiful and cool up there. We ate a lunch by a rippling little stream. Sister Sanders had made me a lovely Nut cake to take on my trip. I boarded at Sanders on Vine St. in Murray.
After crating our lunch Lauretta decided to stay right there and read a book. Alvin decided to take me away up on a hill side over great boulders, hopping from one to the other all the way, he helping me at times. We found up there a lane tree on which we carved our names.
So on Oct 6, 1910 I had seen him very little. He came in once, brought Lauretta and Seda and we all went to a show.
On this date Oct. 1910 when I met him at Conference he invited me to take a walk with him. We walked down to the city and county Building grounds about 4 So. And State Street.
We sat on a bench there and he asked me to marry him. He was 33 years old and I was 25. Many questions were asked and discussed from both sides. I discovered that he was a very faithful L.D.S. he honored his Priesthood, was then one of the presidents of his 70’s Quorum, also a member of his stake MIA board. He had worked hard all his life and tried to gain an education. Been to the schools as circumstances would permit, inc. The L.D.S., for part of one year.
From the time he was very young he had worked in the Granite Quarry at times, worked into the canyon; at Alta in the Mines, had been out to mining camps working.
The biggest thing he had done was to go to helping the Mormon colonization of the Big Horn country in Wyoming where he went thru many experiences and hardships, succeeding in acquiring for himself a farm and a nice city lot.
He had acquired the skills of a rock mason, not only quarrying but laying up rock houses. He had become a good farmer in fact had become skilled in many hard working jobs, had hatched in a sheep wagon living on much baking power bread and fried potatoes, etc.
All this time he had worked faithfully in the church being the lst Sec. of the S.S. in the Big Horn Basin. Uppermost in his mind had been to help his father and mother in raising and schooling their big family. He being next to the oldest of 13 children. His oldest brother Robert had married and gotten on his own when very young.
I was of marriageable age and could see no reason for not accepting his offer. We both had the same ideals and standards. He asked such questions as could I make bread; did I desire to have a family, etc.. All of which. I could answer in the affirmative.
Told him had poor health,(at that time I was extremely nervous from the effect of a big goitre growing in my lung along my wind pipe) He did not seem to think that would matter.
He wrote a sweet little letter to my father, which I still have, 1971 . He asked my father for “my hand in marriage. Father replied. “If you are an honest man and a thorough Latter Day Saint you may have her. He did not say if you are tall and handsome.”
So I arranged to leave the Dr’s office in Murray, Utah where: was employed, so we could go to Fillmore and meet my folks at Christmas time. Then we planned to come back after new years and be married.
While in Fillmore he received a letter from the church called the “Box B” calling hire on a mission to the Eastern States, He accepted the call with out hesitation.
Said to me “shall we be married before I go or after I come back,” I said we have our recommends- I have quit my job, we will go on with our marriage.
I certainly admired and loved him for his faithfulness, many would have put off the mission. So we went back to S.L. and were married in the Salt Lake temple Jan 4, 1911 for time and for all eternity. We stayed with his parents and their big family while he made preparation to go.
Feb. 8, 1911 he went to the Eastern States Mission in New York, labored mostly in Penn. Had arranged for some one to drive his team up and down the Canyon hauling Oar, the earnings, above the expense, to be sent to him to keep him on his mission. It amounted to about $25.00 a month.
Carrie Pratt Robison Despain Biography (1885-1973)
The Life of Carrie Despain
by Fern Belnap
After Alvin left for his mission, Carrie went to Fillmore to spend some time with her family. During this time her mother, Isabella Eleanor Pratt Robison passed away.
She had a stroke and she passed from this life 23 April 19 12, She was only 57 years old. A big funeral was held with everyone in town almost attending.
Also during this time she attended the delivery of many nieces and nephews . As her sisters needed help she went to give her assistance. When Alvin arrived home from his mission they moved into their own little house they had built across the road from Alvin’s parents in Granite. The first year, Birdie was born October 30, 1913.
Since Alvin had taken a farm in Cowley, Wyoming during the time he was pioneering there and felt he needed to further develop it they moved. It was on a very cold winter day that their oldest son was born. Joseph Marden Despain was born 27 Jan. 1915.
The farm was poor having turned to alkali. Alvin and Carrie sold out and moved back to Granite, Salt Lake Co Utah
Their intention was to find another location on which to farm and move as soon as arrangements could be made. The calling of Bishop of the Granite Ward came before they made further plans so they settled in Granite. Alvin serving 10 years as Bishop of that ward.
Those years were hard because there was some there was some jealousy on the part of relatives who thought they should have been called. The babies came in fast procession of Orin, Parker, Parley, Melba, Onita and Fay. In a short eight years Carrie had six children.
Alvin and Carrie intended to have a large family so they were happy and rejoiced over each one. However, they had not planned on Carrie’s health breaking which it did.
When Fay was born the children were taken to relatives to care for them because Carrie was so ill. She had a goiter growing deep along her wind pipe-causing her not to breath well or not to sleep good.
The ordeal had to have been very trying as Alvin in later years said he did not want to think about that time or talk about it.
Carrie told me (Fern) that when she had her operation, her sister Herma came and attended her. Afterward. Herma said, as Carrie went into the anesthetic she repeated over and over,”The Lord is my Shepherd.” Mother always had lots of faith and that confirmed to me that even in times of bad illness she still relied on the Lord.
The illness took a long time for Carrie to recover. She had some hired help but sometimes not the greatest. The story is told that one time the children kept spilling milk, quite by accident of course.
The girl there helping said the next one to spill milk would have to have a nap. The next one to spill the milk was the girl herself who promptly retired for a nap.
Fern doesn’t remember when Aunt Fernie entered the picture but she came occasionally and helped mother catch up on her work. Aunt Fernie had married Carrie’s cousin and later left him.
She was a dear friend to the family and to mother all the time that the children were growing up- She came for weeks or months at a time.
She got a needle and thread attached to her dress. Each time she found a tear or a button missing here was her needle and thread at work. In this way she collected long chains of safety pins. Words cannot express the angel she was to a big and happy family.
Carrie states in her journal in 1918 that they were among the first families to own a car. They took 2 or 3 trips to Kaysville to see Herma King.(Carrie’s sister) They went up Big Cottonwood Canyon all the way to Brighton one day.
Another time they took four days and traveled all the way to Fillmore and Richfield to visit Carrie’s people. They found them well and doing; fine.
Also during the summer of 1918 she put up 500 quarts of fruit. Dried quite a bit of fruit. Also dried 22 pounds of corn. She raised 500 chickens that summer. With four children and one small baby what an accomplishment. I think at this time she probably did all the laundry on the washboard.
Alvin was released as Bishop so they bought a farm. After selling their place in Granite the family moved. While in Jerome, Idaho the big depression hit. Times were hard, after finding she was pregnant again, they sold out and moved back to Salt Lake City. Carrie felt they needed her former doctor to bring the baby. They named the baby Fern.
They moved to Scott Avenue and later bought a house on Cordelia Avenue. The depression was very hard. It was hard keeping a large family of nine children fed and clothed.
They couldn’t keep up the house payments. The bank allowed them to live there and pay rent–about $9.00 per month. Employment was very scarce. Carrie got a job fixing school lunches at 35 cents an hour. She earned $7.00 a week. Most of which she bought food for the family. She was very thankful for that.
In 1934, she was actively engaged in doing genealogy work. She went to the Genealogy library once a week and was successful in searching out her grandma’s Belinda Marden Pratt’s lines.
She had two very impressive dreams about her genealogy work. One of the dreams is the following in her own words. The other dream I dreamed just before wake up this AM. I was about my work I heard the most exquisite music, heavenly music. I wanted to go where it was. It was so touching I was shedding tears.
I tried not to let others know I was crying. Someone said you want to go and sing and play and I said yes but I could not. I had to work. I then went out and entered another place in which.
I saw very beautiful flowers. They were of beautiful shades common earthly. I went thru there to where someone was holding a genealogy meeting. I saw coming in from the other side a large crowd of people led by soldiers dressed in blue uniforms. They the whole crowd mixed up with the audience that was already there and listened intently to the speaker.
There were many men and women both dressed in dark clothes. All of a sudden I could not see them only the ones already present. I thought how strange. I knew they were there but they had disappeared to my view. Then soon when the speaker was thru I saw them again and saw them go out the way they had come in,
I followed them aways then remembered I was not supposed to go with them and turned around and went out the other way. These people mixing right up with the audience with out any disturbance or causing any notice from those present. All were standing. Is it possible that these were spirits, those in blue fought in the rev.
Fern remembers, as a preschooler, mother and I would walk a mile or so to the City bus where we would ride up town. We would go to the city library, check out some books for me, then go to the genealogy library where we would spend the day.
Mother would always bring us a sandwich of dry bread and cheese to eat for lunch. Sometimes we would go to the tabernacle for the noon recitals but mostly, we would stay at the genealogical library all day.
Then we would ride the city bus as far as it went and then walk the mile or so home. Mother must have been worn out but 1 never realized it if she was.
Life was pretty hard back during the early 30’s. In 1934 they bought a home on Lincoln lane where the family moved to. It was an acre of land a house and chicken coops. They raised beautiful gardens there and lots of chickens. Also there were some apple trees, A lovely lawn, roses and many flowers.
The family soon was welcomed into the Winder Ward where we all took part in serving. Carrie was soon called to the S.S. Stake Board. She visited a different ward every Sunday. It was a big responsibility as she not gave lessons but was frequently called on to speak. The following copied from her journal:
In the spring of 1936 the church started a Relief Society program. All were called to help. We did all we were called upon to do such as helping to tend 8 acres of beets raised in this ward and raising some beans on a piece of land furnished by the ward. We paid tithing on all my bottled fruit being 54 quarts. We also paid tithing and offerings. About Sept 1st, Bro Mark Austin, one of the church Security Central Committee, came to see us. He said the church had called him to find farms for the people of the church and he had traveled at his own expense from Canada to Mexico hunting suitable locations where land and water could be gotten reasonably. He predicted that according to the prophets very perilous things were to befall this nation and our government and large families like ours would be safer on farms and advised us to get a farm.
Dad and Parley went to Nyssa, Malhuer Co. Oregon looking at land. Later Dad took Parker and Orin to Ontario, Malhuer Co. Oregon. He finally located and purchased 40 acres of bench land 6 miles N. W, of Ontario.
They purchased it from the State for $470.00 $94.00 down and 5 years on the balance. It was all sage brush land under the Owyhee government irrigation project. The water was to be paid in 40 annual payments without interest, The property was purchased 4 Jan 1937.
This date was Alvin and Carrie’s 26 th wedding anniversary. There were 10 people living at home at that time. Alvin, 59, Carrie 51, Marden 24, Orin 20, Parker 19, Parley 17, Melba 16, Onita 13, Fay, 12, and Fern, 6. Edgar and Birdie McMillian and son Edward Eugene McMillian lived on Flowers Court.
Dad and the boys took the farm out of the sagebrush, planted crops and got the farm producing. They hatched 3 years. One year they lived in a tent. (where they declared the blow snakes were big enough to blow the tent down). Dad and the boys built a small one room house to live in the next summer.
Dad and Parley worked on the farm the summer of 1939. Parker worked on Church Welfare to support the family that summer. When all the folks decided it was too hard to try to keep up two places. So the home in Holiday, Utah was sold and we moved in Nov 1939 to Ontario, Oregon.
Carrie and Alvin went with the truck loading with furniture, fruit, mother had bottled and all our personal possessions. There was no place to put the things as the house was not yet built an no other buildings was on the place but the one room granary the men had lived in, during the summer.
So a rug was spread out on the ground. Everything unloaded on it. Then another carpet was spread over everything, (This was before the days of plastic and visqueen so this was the best available cover). Marden, Orin and Birdie staved in S. L. as they were married at this time.
The children, Parley, Melba, Onita, Fay and Fern came by car a week later. Our new basement home was still being built. Alvin and boys mixed all the cement by hand and poured it into the forms.
Then they put the roof on top at a small pitch. It was finished enough for us to set up our beds and build a fire in the heating stove and cook stove on Christmas eve. If Fern remembers right. The wood floor was laid soon after we had officially moved in.
Mean while, we had the small house with one bed. One small stove and a small make shift table. The one room was full. We also had a cellar with 2 full beds made up in it.
Even at that there was not enough space for all 8 of us to sleep so 2 of the girls stayed at the home of a neighbor, Jim Stills until the house was built. Dad was so proud this must have been very trying for him.
Dad bought 7 cows. Carrie records in her journal that they borrowed money for them but they were bringing in $1.00 a day from the sale of cream.
She also recorded in 1940.”That the crops were a near failure due to a break in the Canal in the summer which took a full month to fix. However they were doing nicely since we had lots of milk and cream.
We are not very well fixed for farming. The driveway and the yard are like a sea of mud. The cow’s sheds are like a sieve and the manure is bad and it has rained since early fall, off and on, most of the time.
We traded one old can in for a better old model 1933 Chev. We manage to get to Sunday School and to a few other places of necessity.
In Jan 1941 she wrote that the place was looking nice and that. Dad and the boys had made the farm already to “Blossom as a Rose”.
World War Two begun in Dec. 1941 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. It was a big shock to everyone. Parker had taken a job with the weather bureau and was drafted into the Navy.
Also Orin went into the Navy. Parley was drafted also into the Army. Carrie prayed constantly for the safety of her son’s and also worried about their spiritual life and prayed they would keep themselves clean and wholesome.
She spent many long hours writing letters to her absent children. Marden who was married and living in Salt Lake, Birdie who had moved with her husband and son was living in Galveston, Texas and the three boys in the service.
Melba married Evan Garner on Sept 23, 1940. Parley married Iris Bahr 29 Sept 1941.
Melba and Evan lived close by but the other children was of great concern to Carrie who many times daily prayed for the safety and well being of her children.
Then, too, with the boys gone into the service the farm was left in the hands of Alvin and Carrie. They were not as young as they once were. The girls were drafted into helping.
Fern’s main job was to herd the cows but she also pitched hay, picked potatoes, corn, fed the calves, chickens picked the berries, and anything else that needed to be done on the farm. Onita, Fay and Fern helped all we could.
Carrie loved the chickens and she took special care of them and made certain that they each one laid eggs or else they were butchered.
During this time she taught a Sunday School class of teenagers. She surely loved that calling, She also continued on with her genealogy work as she could.
On Thanksgiving day 1943 the day was very cold and blizzards. Onita and Fay had jobs at Nyssa, of course, they needed to come home for Thanksgiving. The old family car had a window broken but while Carrie cooked dinner,
Alvin and Fern went to Nyssa to get the girls. They wrapped up well and was sort of warm while the car slipped and slided all the way to Nyssa. Onita had just met Irvin so the glowing reports of this fellow made the way home a little quicker and less tedious. We had a nice Thanksgiving that day.
On Sunday’s during this time we always got ready for church. The car didn’t always start so Alvin would park it on a little hill then we would get in the car. If it didn’t start we’d get out and give it a push down the hill.
Then it generally started. If the ground were frozen we would be happily on our way avoiding the deep ruts as we went. If the ground were not frozen the mud would be very deep Alvin very skillfully drove the car thru the mud while Carrie prayed that we would make it.
Sometimes we got stuck then we would get the shovel out of the trunk, gathered sage brush and put under the wheels. Then we would all push but the driver. If you wasn’t careful where you push you’d find yourself covered with mud.
Onita married Irvin Callahan in the Salt Lake Temple Feb. 18, 1944. Carrie went to the wedding and stayed over a couple days to do genealogical research. Word came that Birdie needed an operation to have her diseased lung removed so Carrie instead of going home, went to Galveston to take care of Birdie during that time.
She stayed several months. One night while she was in Galveston, a storm arose that woke her up, realizing that there were clothes hanging up to dry outside she jumped up and ran to get the clothes off the line. Birdie’s house was up a flight of stairs so in her haste she stumbled and fell down the steps.
She was badly shaken and hurt and bruised all over, because it was war time she didn’t receive much medical treatment. She did have several broken ribs and a badly hurt shinbone which bothered her the rest of her life.
The war ended and was a happy time in Carrie’s life to see her boys return from war clean and wholesome as when they had left. Parley soon took over the farm so Alvin. Carrie and Fern moved to town of Ontario.
Alvin and Carrie took care of the church, keeping it clean ect. A small house was furnished for them to live in next door on the church property. Carrie and Alvin was on the ward genealogy committee. Carrie helped many people trace their family trees as well as keeping, up her own genealogy and research.
In January 1948. Birdie wrote that she was very ill with morning sickness so Carrie once again went to Galveston to help her through an illness. This time a pregnancy (Birdie was very ill with her pregnancies at times even being hospitalized because she couldn’t keep any food down) Carrie was with her about 5 months. She returned home in time to attend Fern’s Wedding, in the S.L. Temple June 2, 1948.
Alvin and Carrie lived by the church in Ontario until about 1954. Alvin had a small stroke and they decided to settle close to Mac and Fern in Meridian, Idaho. They built a large chicken coop and filled it with chickens.
They sold eggs by the case. Carrie thought they would need some Social Security to help them through their retirement so she took several jobs, nursing, baby sitting,, cleaning ect. until she earned enough money to receive the minimum Social Security $40.00 per month.
Soon after this on a bright summer day, Alvin went out to mow the lawn. (They had beautiful lawn, garden and berries) Alvin got over heated and out of breath.
He started choking and coughing. The Doctor came ordered oxygen for Alvin, and said he probably couldn’t last more than 24 hours. The oxygen was such a relief and help that he lived another 17 years. The 17 years was very hard Carrie was well trained to care for him which she did.
Fern and Mac moved to Salem, Oregon to educate their blind children but worried about Alvin and Carrie and how they were getting along. The spring of 1963, Alvin and Carrie both caught the flu and was sick in bed several days before telling anyone. Mac and Fern went down to Meridian, rented a trailer, packed it full and moved them to Salem to live with them.
They had a room to themselves. A typical day went as follow: They listened to the news before arising. Then they would get up and come to the kitchen for breakfast about. 830 AM. Carrie always made a cup of hot cocoa for Alvin so he could break up the Flem in his chest. Then they would eat breakfast.
The morning was spent by sitting in the living room sometimes, but most of the time Alvin needed to have his oxygen so they would go to their room. There Carrie did lots of writing some genealogy, and they read lots of books aloud. Carrie did the reading as Alvin didn’t have the breath to read aloud. Alvin laid his chest over several pillows, face down, to allow the Flem to drain out.
They always ate lunch and supper with the family Carrie liked to make bread so she baked most of the bread. She liked to putter around the house when she was able but her main concern was her dear Alvin.
She looked after his every need. One day the doctor came, he examined Dad, on the way out he said to Fern,”you need not worry about whether your Dad is getting the good care he needs. your mother has been well trained in her nursing and is giving him the best care available. She is doing a very good job.”
Alvin passed away Nov 11, 1969. We buried Alvin in the Salt Lake Cemetery after which Carrie stayed in S. Lake with Marden and Orin for awhile. She stayed some with each of her children except Birdie and Fay who were so far away. She mostly felt at home with Fern and Mac, that was where she stayed most of the time.
Carrie’s history would not be complete without mentioning a few things about her and her character.
At age 20 she had typhoid fever. She spent a whole year recuperating part of the time she was so ill that she couldn’t remember the happenings of the day. After six weeks she sat up. However she was so weak she couldn’t walk far or climb steps without feeling lame. A year later she started nurses training. It was very strenuous working 12 hour shifts.
At the times she was on night shift she was so high strung and nervous she couldn’t sleep. Finally after awhile her health broke completely so she had to give up her nursing before she received her nursing certificate.
However she was a very good practical nurse. Her health was never good after that. She had to work hard because in her day there were no modern convenience’s all the laundry had to be done on washboards.
Sometimes the water had to be hauled in and out and water was heated on a coal or wood cookstove. Electricity was unheard of in her young life.
She married and had her family fast. They had eight children under 11 years of age. When Fay was born her health broke again. It was found that she had a ingrown goiter growing along her windpipe. For many years she gasped for breath and couldn’t sleep. It was removed surgically when Fay was a baby.
Never again did her nerves completely heal. Her nerves didn’t allow her to hear lots of noise, loud music ect. She could not stand to hear anything that had repetitive tones or words.
She turned to the scriptures for comfort and solace because of her wonderful memories, singing ability and her brain that refused to turn off, she memorized many scriptures. She could quote many scriptures. Many verses in a row and sometimes whole chapters.
She was a woman of great faith many times daily she would retreat to her bedroom to pray on sometimes when that was not possible she would pray to herself. Many times her prayers were answered in marvelous ways. She always acknowledged the hand of the lord in all things.
One night Parker had the car out late with some of the children she had a feeling that they were in danger. She prayed that they would be safe. She then, heard the sound of a car motor in her ears and listened for a long time as the sound seemed to get closer and closer.
However for awhile no car was in sight, finally it came home all safe and sound. Parker said they had almost hit a cow and the Malhuer River Bridge but came right on home safely. She said the Lord had immediately answered her prayers.
That was only one small incident in her life when she received an answer to her prayers. She had many such incidents happen to give her a firm knowledge and faith in the Lord and the gospel.
Having nine children was quite a challenge to her. She taught us to pray and to have faith in the Lord. Often she would ask a child who had a problem, “What would Jesus do?” Another time she might quote a scripture or tell a story to prove the point she was trying to teach. She knew that repetition taught well, so often she would repeat in different ways 3 times a principle she wanted to put over.
If the children got to fighting or arguing (which was not allowed) she accompanied the ones involved to the bedroom to pray. If you didn’t feel like praying she would ask you to repeat after her a prayer. Always, always she was loving and kind. A joy to be with.
Besides the gospel, there were 4 things she especially loved.
- 1. A love for high class literature. She knew poems and literary things as well as the scriptures she could quote poetry by the hour. Things by Long fellow, Shakespeare, know a few short poems but she knew things like the Preamble to the Hiawatha, Snowbound, the Wonderful one Horse Shay and many others.
- 2. She loved Classical and Semi Classical music. She loved to sing, When she lived in Salt Lake before she married she sang with the Tabernacle choir and took vocal lesson from Evan Stephens, who was the choir leader and wrote many of our Hymns. She learned many lovely songs and sang for many occasions. She had a very high clear soprano voice could reach high C. She sang very beautifully, received many compliments on her voice.
- Carrie made friends easily. One of her dear friends when she was with the Tabernacle choir and taking voice lessons was none other than Jessie Evans Smith the wife of Joseph Fielding Smith.
- 3. Carrie had a great love for nature. She appreciated the out of doors. She loved the little animals, She loved flowers, trees, ect. Often she would pick a leaf or flower a press it in a book. She taught her children to love the things of nature also. Fern can’t remember a time when we went near a forest when she didn’t quote from the preamble of Hiawatha. “‘his is the forest Primeval.”
- 4. Last but not least she loved to Write. She owned an old fashioned fountain pen that no one was allowed to use but her. She being left handed had it trained to write her way. So if anyone else used it she needed a new point. She wrote genealogy, letters, histories, and anything else she felt appropriate at the time. She always wanted to write a novel about her life which she started but never got too far because of other responsibilities. She felt great frustrations because she wanted to write and other things always took her time and attentions.
I would like to end this by saying. She was loved by all. She had many friends and a big family who all love her and miss her even yet.
Carrie Pratt Robison Despain Biography (1885-1973)
- Despain, Carrie Robison and Garner, Melba Despain. History & Genealogy of the Franklin Alonzo Robison Family, p. 27, 57-62.
- Day, Stella H. Builders of Early Millard, p. 604.
- LDS Family Group Record Collection [Patron Section]
- Submitted by: Albert William Despain
- Family of: Parley William Despain & Lola Iris Bahr
- Belnap, Fern Despain and Callahan, Carrie Fay Despain and West, Ralph & Alice “The history of Alvin Augustus Despain and Carrie Pratt Robison Despain”