Life Story of Hyrum Parley Oviatt and Effie Maude Simpson

Life Story of Hyrum Parley Oviatt

& Effie Maude Simpson

Parley Hyrum  Oviatt Hyrum Parley Oviatt and Effie Maude Simpson were married on August 14, 1901 at the home of Effie’s parents, Henry and Rosella Simpson, in Parker, Freemont County, Idaho.  They were married by Bishop E. J. Carbine at a very large wedding with a lovely wedding cake.  Effie wore a lovely wedding dress which her mother had made for the occasion.  After the wedding they, along with their cousins who were married about one week earlier, held a wedding dance.

Effie Maud 1881On October 1, 1901, after living with Effie’s parents for about two months, they left for Salt Lake City.  On October 9th they attended the Salt Lake Temple to receive their endowments and to be sealed together as Husband and Wife for all time and eternity.  They then returned to Parker, Idaho where they continued living with Effie’s parents.

They continued to live here for about another six months while Parley worked first for his cousin and then for Will Carbine.  In April 1902 he left for Montana to work as a sheep shearer and while he was away their first child was born dead.  Parley returned to Parker and to his wife, but was forced to return to Montana after about one week to continue with his job.

Maude Oviatt and 3 Daughters Maude Oviatt and her daughtersAfter about two weeks back in Montana he got homesick and came back to Parker.  He then worked for his father-in-law helping build a school house and continued working there until the fall when he returned to work for Will Carbine.  Effie worked cooking meals for the men building the school house.  On April 2, 1903 their second child, Henry Kenneth (Ken) was born in Parker.  When Ken was about three years old, Parley took a job away from Parker ploughing meadow land.  His family came with him and in the fall of 1904 along with Frank and Lucy Oviatt, Parley’s brother and his wife, and Will Winegar, they started for Alberta, Canada in a wagon.  Parley had a team, a wagon and $100.00 to complete the journey and after twenty days they landed in Cardston about the time the site for the Cardston Temple was being dedicated.

5_Oviatt_GirlsJack Oviatt, another one of Parley’s brothers, had come to Canada before them and he met them in Cardston where Parley rented a house for his family to live in until he found work.  The men all went to Calgary to see about getting work but were unsuccessful and returned to Cardston.  Parley and his family then moved to Claresholm to work on the J.M. Workman ranch, he as a farmhand and Effie as a cook for the men working there.

In September of the same year he started work at a sawmill in the foothills and Effie again worked as a cook for the men.  She earned 75 cents and he earned $1.00 a day.  On March 24, 1905 they moved by team to R.W. Bartlett’s ranch on the creek bottom west of Stavely and two months later on May 24th their second son Ralph Floyd (Ralph) was born.  They worked here for three years and for Christmas in 1906 they returned to Parker where their third child, Effie Geneva, was born on December 16th.  She died in Parker on January 11, 1907 and was buried in the Parker Cemetery.  They returned to work on the Bartlett ranch where their fourth child, Lester Leland (Leland) was born on October 29, 1907.

In 1908 they took up a homestead about six miles west of the town of Stavely and became member of the Pine Coulee Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It was on this homestead that the remaining eleven of their fifteen children were born.  They are (in order of birth), Dee Albert (D), born November 10, 1909; Stella Maude (Stella), born October 28, 1910; Freman Herman, born February 15, 1912, died May 12, 1913 and buried in the Stavely Cemetery; Mattie Rose (Mattie), born April 2, 1913; Lillian Josephine (Mickey), born May 22, 1914; Veda Luella (Luella), born June 16, 1916; Parley Odell (Parley), born October 2, 1917; Dolena Irene (Delena), born October 9, 1918; Doris, born November 28, 1920 and Vennice Idonna (Donna), born August 29, 1923.

Life was not as easy as most of the pioneers who opened the west found, but there were many happy times.  These were the times of the quilting bees, corn popping and pull-taffy sessions, local stampedes, community fairs and ball games, and Christmas programs when everyone in the community could perform.  Santa Claus would be there too, and though his sack was somewhat smaller, the Christmas spirit was always there.

How exciting it was when President E.J. Wood, President Hugh B. Brown, President Jacobs and company came for Stake Conference which was held in the small schoolhouse.  Everyone would contribute to the sumptuous meals served from long tables which would be loaded down with fried chicken, baked beans, potato salads, apple pies, chocolate cakes and real homemade ice-cream.  Very few people went home without some fear and trembling for their salvation as a result of the sermons pounded out by Nunham Stanford who could be heard in the next county.

Oviatt brothers and SistersOne of the highlights of our lives were the visits of mother’s family from Idaho who would come laden with dried apples and boxes of clothing giving one of the other children their first new dress or first pair of pants, even though they were still hand-me-downs.  There were also the big parcels that came from Robert Simpson Co., Timothy Eaton Co., and Williams Brothers, which came with new shoes for each one starting school after wearing hand-me-downs until that age.  Catalogues from Simpsons and Eatons were our store windows and ordering by mail made the catalogue even more exciting.

Six_Oviatt_Sisters_at_Rice_Farm__ClaresholMother and Dad were active in the Pine Coulee Branch as mother worked in the Relief Society and Primary and Dad traveled miles via horse and buggy to the Starline and Brant Wards to attend conference.  The visits of the home teachers were events to be remembered when every child was expected to stand behind their chairs and bear their testimonies.  Then there were the religion classes held in the homes when all members would come when we took our turn hosting them.  This was one of the special times when the gas lamps were lit up to replace the small kerosene lamps ordinarily used in the homes.

Family prayer was never neglected in the home and as children whenever any crisis arose we would all gather for prayer.  There were the special days set aside for fasting and prayer for rain and the welfare of our crops in the wake of grasshopper plagues or hail.  Each of the children, from the youngest through to the oldest, were expected to fast for twenty-four hours and each one knew from the example set for us that the answer to our prayers would hinge on our faithfulness.  These spiritual experiences strengthened our testimonies and increased our understanding of the gospel.

Even though there were fourteen hungry mouths to feed from the often meager stores of whole wheat mush, beans, potatoes and homemade bread that we were raised on, no stranger was ever turned from our door hungry.  There was always room for one more at our table.

There were the happy days of family and neighbourly fun such as the times we took the school teacher snipe hunting; when neighbours gathered for dances and parties at each others homes to the sound of the mouth organ, violin and accordion by whoever was available; when the threshing crews came in and all joined in to help each other harvest; or when the gypsies came and while the men pretended to trade for horses the gypsy children stole the chickens.  Uncle Jack and Aunt Mary’s family and the Bill Lucas family, both of which had children equal in number and age to ours, the Leonard Jones’s family, Manson Campbell, Jessie Stanford’s family, Nunham Stanford, Joe and Dave Brown, Jim Oliver, Harry Smith, Vance Miller, Ole Hustad, Tom Clancy’s family and the Cochland’s, Caron’s and Bartlett’s all shared in this neighbourly fun.

Oviatt Sisters 1992There were the hard times such as when one of he babies was about to be born.  There were no comfortable hospitals then so the babies had to be delivered at home.  On one such occasion when Delena was born Dad fetched the drunken Doctor Auld, only to have him pass our before the birth after administering the chloroform, meant for mother, to himself.  Dad jumped on a horse and rode a mile and a half to get Edna Stanford, a neighbour, to assist with the birth.  The baby was delivered successfully and the doctor was paid his undeserved fee.  On the way home, however, the doctor ran into a ditch and had to summon a neighbour, Manson Campbell, for help.  When the Doctor asked Mr. Campbell how much he owed him for the help Mr. Campbell asked how much he had received from Parley Oviatt.  The Doctor replied and the neighbour agreed to take that, promptly tearing up Dad’s cheque.

Family_Gathering_at_the_Rice_Farm_in_ClaresholmThe time came when the children were older and needed to be close to a high school so in November 1924 we all moved to Claresholm, a distance of about twenty miles, where we bought a five room house one block west of the present Church site.  Dad was one of the men who helped move the Hoosier Church into Claresholm where we continued our church activity with mother in Relief Society and Dad busy in the church when he wasn’t traveling to and from the homestead caring for the stocks and crops.

On June 23, 1925, just eight months after the family had moved to Claresholm dad returned to the farm near Stavely to check on things even though he was not feeling well.  Shortly after his arrival he died of heart failure brought on by high blood pressure.  This was quite a shock for all of the family as well as for everyone who knew him.

The funeral was held on June 27, 1925 in the Pine Coulee Schoolhouse with a large crowd of friends and family attending.  The main speaker was Hugh B. Brown, then a member of the Lethbridge Stake Presidency and later to become the Prophet of the Church.  In his remarks President Brown stated that although Parley was not a success financially he was wealthy in the number of friends and relatives who loved and respected him.  He was never to busy to help a neighbour or listen to their problems.  Dad was then buried in the Stavely Cemetery.

Oviatt_Sisters_and_FriendsOn June 28, 1932 Idonna, the youngest child, was at home studying for school.  She had gone into her room on the instructions of her mother and thought it very strange that shortly after that her mother was calling for her to come out.  When Idonna came out of her room her mother asked if she had a red mark on her neck.  Idonna said that she did and her mother then told her to go and get her sister Delena and tell her to call the doctor.  She did and she returned to the house with her sisters Delena and Lillian.  She was told to go to school and not to go into the bedroom where her mother had gone before collapsing on the bed.  After the doctor arrived they took her mother to the hospital.  When Idonna arrived home from school that day she was told that her mother had died for hemorrhage resulting from a bee sting.  Effie had carried on the burden of looking after the welfare and schooling of her children for fifteen years after the death of her husband.  During this time she was actively involved in the church and was at the time of her death acting as Relief Society President.  Her funeral was held in the Claresholm chapel on July 1st and she was buried beside her husband in the Stavely Cemetery.

At the time of her death she had fulfilled the promise given her in her Patriarchal Blessing, which says:

“Thou hast been blessed with a posterity wherein the Priesthood shall forever remain and God designed to make of thee a holy mother in Israel.  Thou will be one of the invited guests who shall sit at the table with the Saviour and hear him bless his Zion in the Earth.”

The example of Parley and Effie Oviatt has influenced the lives of their children for good and we love and honor them for the great heritage they left us.Parley & Effie Oviatt Marriage CertificateParley & Effie Oviatt Marriage Lisence


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