Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.

(This material was told by Emma Jarvis Cottam McArthur, daughter of Thomas and Emmaline Jarvis Cottam, to Nellie McArthur Gubler, eldest grandchild of the Cottams.)

Part 2:

CONFERENCE TIME WITH THE SANTA CLARA PEOPLE

The Santa Clara people had to arise very early in order to do their chores, make preparations for the day, and drive five miles to St. George --- morning. Much of the road was deep sand which made traveling slow but "--ling to conference" was a much looked-forward-to event in the lives of all.

The people of this small community have experienced several ways of travel to get to these meetings -- walking, ox-teams, and horses hitched to wagons and buggies and later on the automobiles. Now days, when the going is easier, the children are seldom taken -- especially the younger ones -- and people do not go in masses as they used to do.

Joseph Graff recalls walking barefooted through the hot sand and how their feet would get almost blistered even though they had become so callused. Shoes at that time were a luxury. Brother Jacob Frei says he can well remember riding to conference with his parents, Rudolph and Margaretta Naegli Frei, in a "Dead X" wagon with the oxen pulling, and of taking along corn fodder as feed for the animals. This was in the days before the luxury of spring seats, so his parents sat on a board placed across the wagon-box. The mother, Gretta as she was called, carried the baby, Edward R. in her arms and had Jacob and Mary sit upon a quilt in the back. He, too, recalls that at that time shoes were used only for such occasions and during the coldest winter months. His wife, Lena Reber Frei, says they have both been to conference many times before the tabernacle was built when a bowery built of green boughs was erected as protections against the burning Dixie sun. It was built somewhere near where the front of the tabernacle now stands. They both recall listening to Brigham Young and other General Authorities speak at these Conferences and deemed it a great privilege and an inspiration to listen to these men of God as they spoke words of encouragement and gave instructions to these brave pioneers.

The caravan of wagons and buggies was quite a sight. Each vehicle held, besides the entire family, feed for the horses as well as the people. A good team could make the trip in an hour. The people amused themselves by singing and visiting. When they arrived at the Tabernacle, they, with other caravans from surrounding towns, unhitched the horses and tied them to the back of the wagon where they could eat as long as the feed lasted. Outfits lined both sides of the street on the north side of the Tabernacle, from the east to the west corner of the block. John Hafen recalls that the city water there was used each conference morning to flood the city streets in order to keep down the dust. At noon some of the people were invited out to the homes for dinner, but most preferred to eat on the tabernacle grounds or while seated in the wagons.

Adolph Hafen recalls that there were two large mulberry trees on the east end of the tabernacle which provided shade for the people. Under each tree was a fifty-gallon drinking barrel covered with burlap, and attached to each was a tin drinking cup tied on with a long string. Early one morning, while the water was still cool, someone was appointed to fill these barrels from a ditch close by. The burlap was kept wet during the day and how good the water did taste in the hot summer days! Germs were unheard-of things at that time.

Frances Helen (Ellie) Wilson Hafen lived along the highway on the northwest end of St. George and can remember seeing the "Dutchmen," as the Santa Clara people were jestingly called, pass by her home. She felt, as did many people at that time, that the Swiss people of Santa Clara were sort of inferior because many of them - especially the older folks - spoke the Swiss language. She remembers sticking her tongue out at them as they passed by thinking that because most of them did not speak English they would not know what she was up to. This feel of superiority on the part of some of the St. George people caused many a dry [joke?]. The Swiss people hated to be called "Dutchmen" and that was all it took to start a good fight -- sometimes ending in a free-for-all. But the Santa Clara people could generally hold their own and even President George F. Whitehead says he took a few well-deserved punches himself to start a good fight - sometimes. As the young people of these two towns began to associate with each other more as they attended Dixie Normal College, this race prejudice gradually became extinct, and today they laughingly call themselves "Dutchmen" and say, "A Dutchman is as good as a white man if he behaves himself."

Several years later Ellie Wilson became acquainted with Herman Hafen and their courtship began. Then she began getting acquainted with the Santa Clara people and many times invited them to her home at Conference time. Their courtship blossomed into a happy marriage. Today there have been many of the Santa Clara boys that have married St. George girls and many of the Santa Clara girls have wedded the St. George boys.

Part 1: LDS CONFERENCES IN UTAH'S DIXIE
Part 3: WARD TEACHING INCIDENTS IN THE COTTAM HOME

 

Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, WPA Federal Writers' Project Collection.

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