written by Elaine Olds Hagelberg
It would be fitting now to give a few more details of Jane's life which have not been included in her husbands history.
Eliza Jane Hunt was born at Deseret, Millard County, Utah on 24 December 1866. the daughter of Levi Hunt and Pheobe Louisa Fellows. She was the second of eight children born to this couple. Both of her parents had been married before, losing their mates in death, and each had three children by this previous marriage, thus making six step-children in the home.
Jane was born at Deseret, but the family soon moved to Paraganah where her father supported the family by farming and raising livestock. It was quite a struggle with so many mouths to feed and never did the family know prosperity. Each member worked as hard as they could to help out.
In the fall of 1877, the Church Presidency called a number of people to go settle on the Little Colorado in Arizona. Jane's parents answered this call and took their family and settled at the community that later became know as Brigham City. Here the United Order was practiced during all the time this town was inhabited. There was a fort 200 feet square, surrounded by a 7 foot wall of rock. Inside were 36 buildings, 15 x 13 feet; a dining hall, 80 x 20 feet with two rows of tables that would seat more than 150 persons. Adjoining was a 25 x 20-foot kitchen with an annexed bake house. There were 12 other buildings, a cellar and a storehouse. 274 acres of land were farmed and 142 cows furnished milk, cream, and butter. There were two good wells inside the fort. The settlers were kept busy with grain crops, a sawmill, and pottery making.
Living under the United Order taught Jane, when very young, to share what she had with others less fortunate -- a lesson she never forgot throughout her life.
The children living under the United Order were required to do their share of work, so Jane worked hard to help her mother with the house work, caring for the smaller children, and working in the gardens. Pioneer children learned at a very tender age to be strong and to do hard work. Jane's strength - both physical and character - became evident at a very young age.
(See history of Phoebe Louisa Fellows Hunt for more detailed information about their life in Arizona.)
Jane was 15 years old when her family returned home from Arizona and settled down in Richfield, Utah. Shortly after their arrival in Richfield, Jane's mother gave birth to her 11th child, and the rigors of pioneer life had truly made their mark. She contacted milk leg and suffered very great pain for about ten days until she passed away on 14 March 1882. Jane was only sixteen years old and there were six children younger than herself, including the tiny baby, Wilford, who was left without a mother to love and care for him. Jane pitched in and took over the care of this family, being the oldest daughter at home and lovingly cared for the infant Wilford for nearly two years.
On July 29, 1884 Jane married Thomas Olds at Scofield, Emery County, Utah and set up housekeeping in Joseph City, Sevier Co., Utah, where their first child Levi Emanuel was born. In Levi's baby picture it shows a most elegant handmade dress that Jane had prepared for her darling baby.
Naturally, Jane's life from this point on was closely connected with that of Thomas, and we have already related the places in which they lived during their married life. I should like to now give a mental picture of the character of Jane Olds, for she truly had a strong and determined character.
Jane was a slim woman, extremely neat and very quick in her actions. She always wore a corset, a black skirt, a white shirtwaist, and a tie apron. Her clothes may at times have been shabby, but they were always clean, mended, and neatly pressed. She would never let anyone catch her not properly dressed. She loved to sing to her children and while she carried on her housework. Her home was always very clean and her boys well kept.
Jane made sure that Christmas and Birthdays were fun times. She had little parties for the children. She usually made little cakes and decorated them by hand. They would have a Christmas tree and make their own ornaments, popcorn to string, and hang apples on it. One son said as he thinks back on it now -- he thinks they had more fun decorating and preparing than they did actually eating.
Jane worked hard to make their living conditions better in any way that she could. She always had a few ducks and two or three times a year she would pick them and make very fine pillows. Each of her children when they married received a pair of these pillows for a wedding gift. She raised turkeys, chickens, ducks, lambs and she dried corn, fruit and vegetables to help out in feeding her large family of boys who had such tremendous appetites.
Jane took time to teach the boys to help with the work. They knew how to knit, they all knit their own stockings. They would card the wool, twist the wool into yarn, then put it in balls and put on the spinning wheel. The boys could all help put on a quilt. They would card the wool until they had a pile about three feet high, then they would tack the lining of the quilt to the frames, carefully lay the carded bats all over the lining; cover with the top which was usually made of pieces of all colors pieced into a delicate design. At that time they tied quilts very close together, and each boy had his own needle and they could do their part equally as well as their mother. Each of the boys could cook up a meal as tasty as any chef. They could make bread - delicious yeast, sour dough, and baking powder biscuits.
Being a perfectionism herself, Jane insisted that her boys do things well. She trained her boys to make their own beds and hang up their clothes. She was very strict in her discipline because with Tom away so much of the time most of it was left up to her. Even though her boys were all much taller than she, she had only to speak and they would obey immediately. At times several of them would get to wrestling and boxing in the house, and Jane would pick up the broom and start toward them and they soon scattered. I'm not sure if any of the boys were actually frightened of that broom, but at least they paid her the respect of letting her think they were.
Jane was an excellent cook. She had the ability to take nothing and prepare a banquet from it. She made a very delicious soup which every one thoroughly enjoyed. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas she would make every one of the children in her home and in the neighborhood and individual peach pie with her own dried peaches. She was never idle a moment. She made all their clothing, including the boys overalls with double patches on the knees to make them last longer. She always had time to teach young girls how to make quilts and to sew and cook if they just expressed a desire to learn.
It seems that every woman has a luxury that she sometimes becomes extravagant in, and Jane was no exception. She loved flowers and whenever they moved, one of the first things she did was to plant a few flowers. She loved pansies and usually had a lovely bed of them which she shared with others. It has been said that because she shared with others that hers grew so well. She always had a fine garden and when the boys were hoeing it she would see to it that they were careful where they put their feet. She loved to experiment with seeds and whenever she got her hands on any she would plant them. In those days, when you bought rice it was not so welled cleaned as it is today, and Jane would pick out the strange seeds very carefully and plant them. If they proved to be weeds they were pulled up, but off times she would find a lovely new plant. She had a lovely rose garden and usually two rows of roses on the path coming up to the front door.
Jane was usually of the calm and easy going disposition, but she was strict and her children were well trained to obey when told to do so. As she grew older she was dearly loved by her grandchildren, but if they were told to set down and behave themselves or she would give them a thimble pie, they did not hesitate to set down and behave, as her grandson Lewis can verify. She wore a thimble so much of the time and a thimble pie consisted of a thumping on the head with the thimble if she felt you deserved one.
As stated earlier in Tom's story, Jane became very ill and passed away on 21 May 1917. Her funeral was held in Toquerville. Her sons served as pall bearers, and when the sons arrived at the church with the body, they were not ready for the funeral, so they had to set the casket under the trees in the church yard until the church was put in readiness. Her own sons dug her grave, and then careful covered it, performing their last loving deed for their mother.
Jane was a hard working woman, but she was denied the privilege of raising two sons to adulthood. Melvin was only nine and Carl was twelve when their mother was taken away. This was a great loss indeed to all the family but especially to these two youngsters who were at the age when they needed their mother so much. She was only fifty years old when she was taken and why she was not permitted to remain for a few more years we can not understand, but can only hope that the example and teachings will remain to guide those who were looking to her for guidance. Another very choice spirit was taken from her earthly home.
I am indebted to many, many people for the information contained in the stories of Thomas and Jane Olds. This is the result of thirty years of interviewing and collecting notes from those who knew these people. I have tried to obtain all the details as completely as possible so that I might report it accurately, but this is a very difficult undertaking and if I have failed to do this then I apologize. Some of the incidents were reported by several different members of the family and their would be a variation in their stories, so I tried to make this difficult task as accurate as I could by combing the facts to the present the story. In the interest of not having so much repletion there are events that happened in the lives of these people but that will be contained in the life story of the child who was connected with the event. I am so grateful to the sons of these good people for the help they have given me, but I especially must express my gratitude to Levi, my father. It was his insistence that started me on this most pleasurable task. Also my thanks to Will, Andy, and Carl. They were most patient when they saw me approaching with my notebook and I was never once thrown out of their homes. I have received help from the other sons, the Theobalds, the Turners, and numerous friends who just knew these people. Without this help I could never have completed this record.
Elaine Olds Hagelberg
5 June 1968
This history is
copyrighted and is offered for personal use and
It is not to be reprinted or used for commercial purposes without written permission.
Copyright ©2000 by Elaine Olds Hagelberg
Return toWashington County Biographies Index
There have been visits to this page.
Copyright ©2000, 2009 by Cynthia B. Alldredge (Page design and coding)