Frank Milton Johnson 1881

History of

Frank Milton Johnson 1881

— Compiled by Jennie V. Johnson Harding

Frank M JohnsonFrank Milton, son of Aaron and Louisa Meletiah (Whiting) Johnson, was born in Springville, Utah, 25 October 1881.  He had seven brothers and two sisters.  One sister was buried at an early age, somewhere near the Grand Canyon of the Colorado.  Her name was Winnifred.  His living sister was named Claudia (Toss).  His brothers were Wayne, Willis, Elmer, Hugh, Louis, Leland and Bryan.

Franks mother said he was very slow in talking and he was very shy.  One time when he was perhaps, five or six years old, he attended a primary dance.  He didn’t have any shoes of his own nor any other respectable clothes, so his mother and sister, Claudia fixed him up with some of his older brothers clothing, which were woo big for him and this made him feel worse than ever, he wore Claudia’s shoes, (and they were too big).  He definitely did not want to go, but his family got him ready and sent him anyway.  I guess he suffered until shame and embarrassment, and then to add to his discomfort, some pretty little girls tried to get him to dance.  He refused and his face was as red as a beet.  The girls were quite insistent and tried to pull him on the floor.  After this experience he avoided girls whenever possible.

At the age of nine years, Frank was kicked by a horse, and lost the sight in one eye.  In later years it caused him to have a lot of pain and problem with it.  He was chopping a tree down in Little Diamond Canyon and a chip flew and hit his blind eye.  He couldn’t see it coming with his blind eye, so it hit him squarely in the eye.  It caused him so much pain and infection set in.  he finally had to have a specialist, in Provo operate and remove his eye.  He wore a glass eye for the rest of his life, and that was very miserable and painful at times.

As a young boy his family lived in Springville, Hobble Creek and Mapleton.  His father built a rock house up in Hobble Creek Canyon.  As a boy he probably enjoyed playing in that beautiful canyon.  (I was never able to find out much about his childhood.)  I do know that he had to fend for himself a lot as a young boy, because his Father never made much of a living for the family, because he was always putting on plays, for which he turned the proceeds of the play over to some worthy charity or church, so his mother was away a lot trying to earn money for her family.  She was a very literary woman.  She was a telegraph operator, schoolteacher, and canvassed with books during the winter months.

(This is what was said about Louisa Melita Whiting Johnson.  She was correspondent for the Deseret News for 30 years and was well known as a writer of description and humorous verses, was an earnest worker in the Primary, Mutual and Relief Society organizations.)

About 1900 or 1901, Frank’s father Aaron Johnson gathered their belongings together and put them in a freight train car, along with cattle, horses, etc. and since they were too poor, he put his boys in that freight car also.  Frank was one of the boys.  They all came to Canada that way.  Aaron rode in the passenger car.  I will add what Uncle Elmer put in his history about that trip.  This is how he described it.  There were four of the boys, Frank, Elmer, Hugh and Louis.  All their horses and cows were put in a railroad car along with machinery and household effects etc.  They put one wagon bed down, then turned another one, bottom side up, over the first one and so it made a nice little room.  The boys rode in the wagon.  It says in his history that their father rode in the caboose.  (I guess it was quite a common thing in those days, that when a family was migrating to Canada that they put their children in the chartered railroad cars to save fare, since most families could not afford the fares anyway.)  Uncle Elmer states that it was January when they started for Canada and the weather was warm and beautiful when they got to Idaho Falls they run into a terrible story.  It was way below zero.  Everything froze up including the boys.  They covered themselves with quilts, but the cold penetrated.  They traveled for three days to Great Falls, Montana eating their frozen bread.  Aaron was very concerned about his boys.  When they got to Great Falls, they had to transfer to a narrow gage railroad.  While the boys got out of the car, their legs wouldn’t support their bodies, after having to sit in such a cramped position, in the cold, for so long.  Lewis the youngest seemed to be the worst, he couldn’t walk and he rolled down and embankment.  They went to town and went to a restaurant for a good meal.  While they were waiting for the meal to be served, Elmer points out, that the waitress brought them some glasses with water and cubes of ice.  He said he would never forget the sound of tinkling ice in the glass.  What they needed was something hot, not cold!  They did get a nice hot dinner and stayed overnight in a hotel.  That night another terrible storm hit and so they had to crawl back in their car again and brave the cold and it was bitterly cold.  That is how they came to Canada.

When they arrived at the Canadian line at the customs office, the customs man asked Aaron, “Who is Frank Johnson, Elmer Johnson, Hugh Johnson, and Louise Johnson?”  Aaron said they are my boys.  “Well, said the customs man, bring Frank here.”  Aaron had to go back and get Frank.  They found out that Aaron was smuggling his boys in, so they got the boys and put them in the passenger car, and so they said they would have to get off at the next station, which was Stirling, and that is where they wanted to go anyway.  Will Knight met them at the station.  He invited them to go to his home in Raymond and get warm.  He also invited them to make camp in his yard, and they also gave them supper.  When they were unloading the car, the horses took a beeline back to Utah.  Some of the neighbors went after them and brought them back all except two colts.

Elmer stated that Canada was a nice farming area, and that first year was a wonderful year, they had rain when they needed it.  The next year wasn’t so good, it was dry and they didn’t raise very much.

They found out that they could homestead at Woodpecker Siding, (Now called Barnwell) Frank and Willis took some land there, Aaron and the other boys settled on a homestead one mile west of Taber and was called Johnson Addition (and still goes by that name).

They had to take out citizenship papers to be able to homestead.

Franks mother and two younger brothers came to Canada when his father and brothers were settled on their homesteads.  His younger brothers were Leland and Bryan.

At this time, according to Elmer, there were only six or seven homes in Taber, and also at this time Taber went by the name of “Tank 77”, and a barrel of water cost 25 cents.

Taber grew with the new farming and homesteading operations, and then because great coal mine veins were discovered.  The big Canada West mine was built at a cost of one million dollars.  There were many other little mines around the country so Taber became a booming little town by 1906-1907.  There were five hotels and twelve “Real Estate offices” as well as all the usual things that go with booming towns.

The mine supplied the town with electricity.  A few years later a better coal discovery was found in Drumheller, which started taking the business away from Taber.  By that time Taber had signed up with Calgary power for electricity.  The old Canada West mine was of no use anymore, so a Mr. Carmichael put some dynamite under the base of this beautiful C.W. smokestack and this was the end of the mine, but many homesteaders pioneers worked in this mine and were able to make a living to supplement poor crops and bad years.

Frank worked in the mines and later delivered meat for J. B, Jett in a little flat buggy.  His route took him one mile west of Taber, right on Johnson Addition.  Many people lived there so it was a profitable place to go.  When he arrived all the dogs would smell the meat and would follow him.  He nicknamed this place Dog Town, and it still goes by that name.

Frank had a good sense of humor, and was also a good actor.  He liked to perform and entertain.  Whatever he did in the form of entertainment he would do it in all seriousness, never once cracking a smile.  I can remember the comic readings he used to give in programs, and also how much people enjoyed listening to his stories.  He didn’t like to hear malicious gossip and would always come to the defense of the accused.  I never heard him say an unkind thing about anyone.  He was very good at mimicking anyone in his or her own dialect could do that to perfection.

In a crowd he was very quiet and shy, he didn’t do much talking, he was the kind of man that never let his left hand know what his right hand was doing.  He helped so many poor families in Mapleton and was always doing for others.  I feel sure that he was the same as a young man.

Frank met Rose Hannah Francis and I am told that they both fell for each other almost as soon as they met, and I understand that right soon Aaron Johnson put on the firs play in Taber, entitled “Kathleen Mauvarneen”, where Frank took the part of the hero and Rose the heroine, and that was where they both fell in love with each other.  They probably had a very interesting courtship, but since I don’t know anything about it, I can’t tell it.  I do know that Rose had very high ideals and she would not talk of getting married unless they could go through the temple.  She also wanted Frank to go on a mission.  The story I hears was that she made him promise that he would go on a mission after they were married.  Apparently they left for Salt Lake City on the train to be married in the Salt Lake Temple, but when they arrived, they couldn’t go through the temple just then because Rose was sick so they went to visit relatives a few days and when they got back to the temple it was closed for the holidays so they came back home without getting married when Grandma Francis heard that they weren’t married, she said, “Well, I have the reception already and so you will have to get married right here in Taber.”  So they were married on the 8th day of May 1907.  That same year in December they went down to the Salt Lake Temple and were sealed for all time and eternity.

On July 7, 1908, Jennie was born.  On this same night John Henry Russel left for a mission.  He was the husband of Josephine, Roses beloved sister.  They had a little baby, Norma, who was 8 or 9 months old.  John Henry Russel’s mother was the midwife for Rose.  The cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck, so that there was little life left in the baby.

Rose and Frank must have purchased a small home on the north of town.  It had board sidewalk around it and it must have been a cozy little place to live.  It was close to Roses family home.  Frank worked in the mine and delivered meat for J.B. Jett.

Rose and Frank performed in many of the plays that Aaron Johnson put on.  They both loved this and I am sure that they had a lot of fun.  They used to travel a lot from town to town.  Someone would always go ahead to pass out flyers and advertisements in the next town about their play.  In this way it was well advertised before they got there.  They would stay overnight in a hotel.  Plays were so popular at that time an Aaron Johnson put on some splendid plays by the way that was his love of life.  He himself was born to be an actor and it was passed down to his family.  Frank dearly loved to act in plays, in fact he was right at home.  The best of his acting was in comedy; he could do it so well without ever cracking a smile.

Aaron Johnson’s troop traveled as far as British Columbia at times taking their plays from town to town.  Frank was always on these trips.  They had to have little skits in between acts to keep the audience entertained.  Frank and his friend Milt Scott put on a little skit that went over big with the audience.  Their skit was called, Sullivan the Slugger.  They were to come on the stage in a boxing match.  One night Frank told one of his friends that he was going to put Milt in the orchestra pit that night.  During the fight Frank maneuvered him to the front of the stage and worked him over until he finally slugged him into the orchestra pit, then Frank got down on his hands and knees and peered over first, one side of the stage, then the other side of the stage.  This brought hilarious laughter from the audience, and was so successful they wanted it repeated.

They used to really enjoy themselves in their hotel rooms.  Charley Edwards was telling me of such an incident.  Frank was playing the clarinet and Charley was doing a jig.  (The floor in this hotel room was very flimsy and there was a chandelier hanging on the ceiling of the room just below their room.)  The chandelier began to dance and swing and so the landlady hat to rush upstairs to save her chandelier.  They were ordered to have their fun in a quieter way.  They were playing the tune, “Turkey in the Straw”.

One time when they were on tour with a play, Rose was with them this time.  They were driving through Magrath.  As they were driving through the main street, the townspeople came out and were watching them, so my father got his clarinet out and was playing for the people and bowing low to everyone on each side of the street.   His companions were always laughing at his antics, while he would never crack a smile.

With a group of their friends they took a trip to Waterton Lakes one summer.  They all went in wagons so it took a long time to get there.  On the trip Frank got ahead of them and gave them all a big scare, when he ambushed them, but of course they all had a good laugh.

When Rose and Rank were married they received a very beautiful China lamp for a wedding gift.  One night as they sat in their cozy little home, they lit their lamp.  It started to sputter and act up, Frank grabbed it and threw it out the door, and then he ran for his gun and shot it to pieces.

Frank played the clarinet very well, and he loved hand music and was always in the band of the town he was living in.  I believe it was the Lethbridge band he was in, while he was there in Taber.  (I see that there is a picture of that band in the museum in Lethbridge and sure enough my Father is in that band.  They had very smart uniforms.)  He loved the clarinet and I believe his favorite was Mendelssohns, “Spring song”, also another one of his favorites was “Kathleen Mavourneen”.  He liked to sing, “Asleep in the Deep”.

Frank and Willis (my fathers older brother) used to go duck hunting and this is one of their catches for one day.  He was a great hunter and also loved fishing.  I imagine many of his friends enjoyed some of these ducks also.  (I guess there were a lot of ducks and no restrictions on the amount a person wanted.)

Frank worked on a construction project one summer, building the McLean Bridge over the river.  He took Rose and ‘Little Jennie’ as he called me, and we lived in a sheep wagon with a covered top.  There were probably a lot of families living down there at that time, a little girl named Della VanOrman said she used to come over and play with me.

Frank left for his mission, probably in the fall of 1909.  I understand I was about one and one half years old.  He filled his mission in West Virginia and he went without purse or script, but he must have had some money because another place I read that he had sold all of his holdings, and had saved some money from his work.  Rose took Jennie and went to live with her Parents.  Her sister Josephine was living there also with her little girl, her husband was still on his mission.  Rose did take in sewing.  Josephine worked in a store.

Frank started to keep a diary on January 1, 1910.  These missionaries had very little money to get along with, so they had to rely a lot on the people to give them entertainment as they called it – anyone who would invite them to meals and to stay overnight.  They had to walk everywhere and they usually followed the railroad tracks.  They depended a lot on cottage meetings.  When they had to attend missionary conferences they would sometimes have to walk the full length of West Virginia for it.  They never seemed to mind all the walking, but it must have worn out a lot of shoes.  He seemed to enjoy the work and according to his diary he worked very hard and really tried to do his best.  He seemed to see the funny side to things and I guess you have to have a sense of humor to be able to take all the hard knocks of missionary life.  He and his companion helped these poor mountain people to harvest their crops, or build on their homes, or whatever they had to do.  This probably helped them to do more missionary work with these people.  These backwoods people very simple and they all seemed to be poverty-stricken and maybe they were a bit lazy.  Many of their homes were so dirty, and were infested with many insect pests such as bed bugs, cockroaches’ etc.  One night Frank and his companion slept in a house that was so full of bed bugs that they could not sleep.  He said he would raise the covers and whistle and the bed bugs would run like sheep.  Many of these mountain folks would have some of their livestock living right in the same house with them, (chickens and pigs, so it must have been very uncomfortable staying in these homes._  One old man had a know hole in his floor and he was very expert in spitting his tobacco juice and hitting the mark every time he spit.

Often they had to sleep under the stars; they always tried to be near a river or stream so they would have some water to clean up with in the morning.  They would hang their mirrors on a knot in the tree, so they could see to shave and comb their hair etc.

One night when Frank and his companion were traveling though the forest, they had to stay and make their bed on the ground.  They kept a campfire burning all night for two reasons, one was so they could keep warm, and the other to keep a mountain lion away, it circled most of the night screaming, so they took turns sleeping, while the other kept watch and also kept the fire going.

He also had a bad itch, to add to his discomfort and misery.  He called it the ‘Mange’.  This itch plagued him a great deal; he said I have the habit of tracting all-day and scratching all night.

The last year of his mission, he spent in the office.  I don’t know what he did, he never said, but that year of 1911 he finished his mission.  One thing he did do before his mission was finished, he and his companion walked all the way over the Allegheny Mountains, over in to the state of Virginia to Shenandoah Valley, and their they caught the train into Washington D.C so they could see the sights there, but that was a tremendous walk, because I went over that same distance on a bus it is a long way.

In 1911 Frank finished his mission and he had arranged beforehand to meet Rose and Jennie in Salt Lake City.  It must have been a grand reunion.  Apparently Frank did not want to go back to Canada, so he had arranged for his Father, who was in Mapleton now, to purchase a five acre piece of land for him in Mapleton, Utah.  That is where we went.

Frank made arrangements with his brother Hugh to live in part of their home, until he could get a house built.  He built a four-roomed house with big windows in the front and a big long cemented porch in the front supported by big pillars.   We soon moved into this nice home.  Rose made it very elegant by putting lace curtains in the windows and we bought a Persian rug for our living room, a dining room set and brass beds.  Rose was a marvelous housekeeper and cook, everything that she cooked tasted so good.  Frank was a good carpenter because he made our home so beautiful.  Soon after we moved into this nice home Rose had another baby boy, but it was still born.

The following spring Frank and Rose planted trees, lawn and many varieties of nice shrubbery and flowers, and fruit trees of all kinds, raspberries, gooseberries, and currants.  They put cement sidewalks around our house; indeed it was a little garden spot.  Later he built a nice big barn and he purchased some more land, he was often hired out on carpenter jobs.

Two years later Rose was expecting another baby and she had been so homesick and blue for her family, so my Father decided that we would all go to Canada for the winter.

This was a great thing for Rose, she could spend the winter months with her dear parents and see her sisters and brothers but she was not well and on December 15,1914 Leo Frank Johnson was born.

They came back to Utah in the early spring.  Frank purchased some more land in Mapleton, ten acres of land that he used primarily to plant hay and we had at least 4 cuttings a year. He also started building up a herd of cattle.  It was about this time that he and his father and brother, became interested in a ranch up in Spanish Fork Canyon, mountain about Thistle where crops could be raised and a good place for cattle to graze in the summer.  I believe they must have taken it over in the Homestead Act because the land had to be grubbed before it could be used for farming.  I know we had to clear the land of sagebrush, willows and trees before crops could be planed.  This was really a good place to run cattle so every spring Frank would take his cattle to the ranch and every fall bring them back to the home place in the valley.  That is why he needed so much hay.  This ranch took him away form home so much of the time.  It was ‘Billie’s Mountain’, our beloved “Billie’s Mountain”.  They raised grain, hay, potatoes, etc. and all the Johnson family loved that place and had some very fond memories of it.  Robert Redford bought it in these last years.  It had a red and yellow soil covered with sage brush, the big strong sage, that grows to be more like trees, with cedar trees and occasional oak trees.  It had a magical attachment to it and everyone that lived there loved it dearly forever.

Lightening struck our beautiful home one time when my Father, Frank, was away, tearing a big ugly hole in our kitchen ceiling in front of our kitchen stove, right where Rose would be standing in a few more steps.  It was a frightening thing and so Rose immediately gathered her children around her, and knelt down to pray.  She was a very devoted woman; she loved Jesus Christ so deeply, and her great faith radiated from her very being.  I was very aware of this, even as a young child.  She talked to her children many times about the love she had for Jesus Christ.  I could never forget the great lessons she taught us.

On the 28th of May 1916, Rose had another baby, a little girl, Myrle.  We were all just delighted with her and she has been a delight ever since.

Frank liked to read and we always read together as a family.  We read church books, and the Bible and Book of Mormon and sometimes novels.  Reading time was a very special time in our family.  I can see us now in our beautiful home, my Father sitting in his easy chair that he had built himself, my mother sitting there with maybe some sewing or fancy work in her lap, and we children laying on the floor or sitting in the little rocking chairs our Father had made for us.  It was a very happy time.

Frank played in the Springville band, and we used to attend all the band concerts, usually in the park and the members of the band would go in the band stand and play those rousing numbers as we all sat around on the grass.

In April 1918, Rose received word that her Father was very ill, so she took Myrle and Leo and left he home with my Father, and went to Canada.  She stayed there for a month after her father died; I know she needed to visit with her family.

Frank had been taking the lead part in a play and he was the lover of a very lovely girl.  It really worried me, and it seemed to me that he had forgotten all about my Mother, so I wrote her a letter and told her that her husband was falling for this girl.  Well that brought her home promptly.  We were so glad to see her and the children; we had missed them so much.

At different times her sisters had come with their families and visited a while.  These were special occasions for all of us.  Sometimes Grandpa and Grandma Francis came also.  They were very special times.  Grandpa was so interesting, because he had a full beard and when he would sit in my fathers easy chair, he would be reading the paper and pretty soon the paper would begin to slip down on his rolly poly stomach and then he would begin to snore.  That was always so much fun to watch what happened with his beard.  He would suck it in his mouth hen he breathed in, and blow it out when he breathed out.  He was a tease so I always had a lot of fun with him.

Rose had another baby boy in June 1919.  they named him Samuel.  He only lived about a week and died on the 4th of July.  We were all broken hearted. The Dr. said he was born with a wear heart and so he said the baby couldn’t live very long.  It was very sad.

Rose and Frank used to plan to visit the temple sometimes in Manti, and they took the children along.  They would pitch a tent in the park cross the road from the temple, and then it was my job to take care of the children while they were in the temple.  Sometimes I would take the children and we would go and play on the steps of the temple.  Rose had an Aunt in Manti also, Aunt Elizabeth Braithwaite.  We children used to enjoy these trips very much.

Frank was one of the first ones in Mapleton to buy a car, and it was wonderful.  We were so proud of it.  Frank used to invite someone to go riding with us on Sunday afternoons, and so everyone enjoyed our car too.  We used to go to Lake Shore to visit Roses Uncle Joes’ family.  Frank used to say, “Let’s go to the Lake Shore and hear Uncle Joe laugh.”  (No one could laugh like him.)  Uncle Joe and Aunt Annie had such a big family, and most of them were married and had big families, so when we went to dinner down there, it was like joining the multitudes.  Aunt Annie would have this big long table set with just enough room for the adults, and the children would always have to wait for the second table, and everyone would be talking at one time.  One time Frank asked for someone to pass the bread, and no one heard him, so he asked again.  He asked about three times, so finally he got up and climbed up all the rungs of his chair and then onto the table and crawled clear to the end, got the bread and started back, and crawled quietly down in his chair, by this time everyone had stopped talking and sitting there aghast.  He was a good actor and was very agile and he was very able to do things like that, never cracking a smile, acting like it was a very serious thing he was doing, even though everyone around the table were acting hilarious with laughter.

Now that Frank and Rose had a car, they visited relatives often.  We went to Eureka to visit Roses Aunt Hannah Fields and her family, and also to American Fork to visit Aunt Rose Hannah (Francis) Grant, and her large family.  She had 18 children, (no twins or triplets).  Sometimes Rose prepared big feasts and invited some of them to our place.

The car was so wonderful we could get to our destination in half the time.

Rose used to have dreams about her Father.  In her dreams she talked with her Father and he told her of the great urgency of the work on the other side, and how they needed more help there and that he would come for Josephine very soon, but as it happened my Mother was called first to go because it wasn’t long after that, that my mother passed away.  She knew she was going to die because she was expecting another baby, and she was not well.  She talked to me one day and said she didn’t feel like she was going to make it.  It made me feel very badly, but she talked to me and told me many things she hoped I would do as I grew up, such as safeguarding my virtue, and living righteously.  Especially she asked me to take good care of my brother and sister.

My mother was very affectionate; she seemed to love us all so much.  She used to tell me many times about the Second Coming of Christ and how she looked forward to his coming.  She loved the Gospel so much.  As I talked to my Mother I could sense the great concern she had for leaving her children and how she hoped they would love the gospel.

On may 27, 1920 Rose gave birth to a little baby girl (still born) and then she also passed away, she had been so very sick.  This was a terrible blow to our family.  It seemed to me that when my Mother passed away that part of my Father died with her.  It just seemed that something was missing from him, but he did try very hard to keep our family together and teach us right principles.  Frank was so broken up that all he could do at first was to walk up and down the road and he was so sad.

Grandma Francis, Uncle Ted and Uncle Jack came for the funeral.  Grandma wanted to take Myrle back with her but Frank could not let her go, she was the sunshine of our family and we needed her.

We tried very hard to get along without our Mother, and it was very hard because I had never worked in the home with my Mother.  I had always worked outside with my father so I didn’t know how to do very little cooking.  Aunt Alice came over to help me learn how to make bread etc.  So Frank decided to go over to Uinta Basin where Grandpa and Grandma Johnson were living and bring them back to Mapleton.  I think they wanted to get back anyway.  We brought Grandma back with us.  Grandpa followed later.  Grandma was not at all well.  She was 70 years old at that time.  She could not stand to work very long; she had to lie down so Frank built a bunk bed in the kitchen.  Her potato soup was delicious.  She had funny ways of cooking and we were so used to my Mothers delicious cooking.  I soon learned to do things, to cook and take care of the home and my brother and sister.

Frank soon built a home for them the other side of our orchard, so they could go and live peaceable lives, as they should, Grandma made it beautiful with lovely flowers.

I learned to take care of the home and cook and Frank said we could buy some new linoleum for the kitchen floor, it was a pretty blue checkered and it was so much fun to keep it clean.  We used to have chocolate ice cream a lot, Frank loved it and he always made it.  We always shared it with someone, either by inviting someone in or taking the freezer to someone’s place.  We used to go to a lot of shows and vaudeville in Provo, and there again Frank always invited someone to go with us; someone who was lonely or too poor to pay their own way.  Sometimes he would take our last dollar to brighten someone’s life and he was always taking groceries and needful things to the poor people and laving it on their doorsteps, then he would run so no one knew who gave it.  I guess that was the great joy he got out of life.

Every summer we left Mapleton and went to work either in the timber or on Billie’s Mountain.  It was like Frank could not bear to be in Mapleton.

Frank was a real artist in many ways, besides acting and giving readings and loving band music, he had an orchestra in Mapleton and he used to take the orchestra and play for dances.  I guess he taught many young men to play the clarinet.  He used to whistle just like a bird in programs.  He was very good at that and he used to whistle to the tune of “The Mocking Bird”.  It sounded just like a real bird.  He also loved to play Santa Claus.  He always did that service for the town in his Santa suit.  There was no doubt that he was completely at home on the stage.

Frank took great pride in keeping his yard to look nice and neat, with always a nice pile of neatly stacked wood for fuel.  He dept the church in fire wood too.  Some of the last years of his life he was the Sunday School Superintendent.

In 1924 he didn’t go into the timbers that year, he stayed mostly in the valley.  He seemed very discouraged but we did take a trip to the timbers where his brothers worked.  I think he longed to be in the mountains again.

One more thing that he loved to do was sing in barbershop quartets.

There was a mine disaster in Castle Gate, Carbon County, Utah, and many men were killed including his youngest brother Bryan.  He and his Father went down to get his remains, and bring him back home as well as his widow and children.  Frank then built a home for Aunt Hazel right by Grandpa’s home and his other brother Leland brought his family to Mapleton and Frank let them live in one room of our home for a year, then he built them a home.  He loved to help them not just with necessities, but also things that would bring them pleasure.  He was indeed a friend in need.  He was always so kind to his children.  I think he loved us beyond reason and he loved to make us happy with surprises.  He always made a big thing of Christmas.  He was always the town Santa Claus and then he played Santa Claus in so many ways that no one ever knew about.  He visited his own family in the role of Santa Claus and brought joy to our hearts.  The last five or six years of his life he was the Sunday School Superintendent.  He seemed to love this work.

Frank became very ill in January 1925.  He had been cutting trees, so when he finally came in the house he was already groaning with his legs paining so badly and he couldn’t seem to get warm.  We guilt up the fires and tried to give him some comfort, but he seemed to be getting worse, so we had to go for help.  We had the doctor come and he said he had double pneumonia and he was very sick.  Aunt Alice came over to nurse him and another Aunt Alice came to stay at night and Uncle Lewis did the cores.  Everyone was so good to us, but he didn’t seem to get any better.  The morning that he died he asked for me to come in and he had something he wanted to tell me.  He took my hand and told me that his whole life had passed before him just like a movie picture, and he had seen bands marching by, and he really felt that his life had been a failure.  I didn’t agree with him about that, but I didn’t know what to say, and then he told me that he didn’t think he was going to make it and so I felt terrible.  He asked me to take good care of my brother and sister and to remember what my Mother had told me, but I still believed he would get better.  A short time later, January 28, 1925 Aunt Alice came in and said that he had passed away.  We sure grieved over the death of this good man and I thought later that how can a man be a failure when all his life he went about doing good for his fellow men, oh how I wish I could have convinced him of that, but I hope I can tell his some day.

Grandmother Francis came and got my sweet little sister Myrle, and I went to Aunt Ella’s and Leo went to Aunt Alice and Uncle Lewis.  It was a hard life, but we did have good relatives that helped us and were good to us and as I look back over it now, I know we were blessed.  I knew that Frank and Rose were wonderful parents and we did know a lot of happiness in the short time we had our parents.

In a little booklet called, “Taber – Yesterday and today”, it states that “in July 1904, R. A. VanOrman was chosen as assistant Sunday School Superintendent and Josephine and Rose Francis were appointed to the Sunday School staff.”

Another entry in the same book was, “The first YMMIA was presided over by some Bennet.  Several other men succeeded him, then Frank Johnson was one of them.

One story I forgot to put in my Fathers history was one time when my parents had gone to visit Uncle Jo and Aunt Ann, there were a lot of cousins and friends.  The table was very long and everyone was talking all at the same time (as only family can), and my Father asked for the bread and no one heard him so after he had asked several times, but to no avail, he stood up crawled on his chair and then onto the table, and crawled down to the end of the table, got the bread, crawled back down on his chair, and calmly started eating.  Everyone had stopped talking and sat there aghast.  He was always an actor and was very able to do these things in such a way that people never forgot them, and they were always amused at his antics.


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