A Letter Detailing the Death of Frank Johnson

A lettter to Gramma Emma Francis who must have been visiting Uncle Jack Francis in California.  The letter was addressed to her and Uncle Jack.  It came from Mapleton, Utah from Gramma Louisa M. Johnson.  Uncle Jack’s mother is calling him John.

Mapleton, Feb 24, 1925

Dear Sister Francis, John and all;

I thought you might like to hear some of the particulars of Frank’s death and burial.  He had cut the tops out of the shade trees, west of the house Wednesday; cut the branches in lengths for firewood, and must have got sweaty; then he fed the stock, milked five cows, and then went to a band practice in the evening.  The snow was deep and packed with cold nights.  At 11pm, he woke with a severe chill, called Jennie who built a fire, but could not get warm.  Acute pleurisy set in but he didn’t call me until 9am.  I had hot cloths put on his side.  We gave him quinine pills, but it was a severe and sudden attack of the flu.  He wouldn’t have a doctor; said they had bankrupted him.  Then we gave him a sweat but it went into his right lung.  We kept mustard plasters on continuously every 2 hours front and back.  He finally let us call Dr. Hughs of Spanish Fork who said our treatment was alright, only we couldn’t keep him in bed.  But when the doctor told him to go to bed and stay there, he obeyed him.

Leland’s Alice would care for him for 24 hours.  Then Louis’s Alice the next 24 hours.

I cared for Leland’s children and Jennie for Louis’s children.  They were faithful, never

left him a minute.  We also had watchers to stay with the girls, the two Alices at night, but the doctor told us to keep all out of the room.

We knew it was very serious from the very first, but the doctor didn’t want anyone out of the family there.  Frank said it was wonderful, their care of him and he would remunerate

them when he got up.  Of course, they didn’t want anything and said so – but he told them that they were two angels.  He didn’t eat much and struggled for breath almost continuously, yet the doctor and all of us thought he would rally when the crisis had passed, but it seemed it was not to be for he fell into an infantile, natural sleep on the 9th day shortly after the doctor gave him a hypodermic, but kept turning over quietly this way and that and while Louis’ Alice and I sat looking at him and rejoicing over his rest and happy look, he died and we didn’t know it.  For there was no change of countenance, no gasp, no movement of a muscle –just didn’t breathe.  We thought he must of fainted, but he was gone.  It was a dreadful shock!

Jennie had come home and had been helping all night so she went to bed to get a little sleep.  When we woke her, she screamed terribly.

We sent for Leo and Myrle from school and it was awful to watch Myrle’s sorrow.  She just clung to me and cried aloud.  Leo felt it seemly too.

Wayne came up to see him, didn’t know he was sick, got there 10 minutes too late.  In a few minutes, the house was full of kind friends to help.  Mrs. Davis and Mrs. Carrick just cleaned the two rooms thoroughly taking the curtains home and doing them up.  Toss sent her new rug over for the floor and the undertaker did all he could.  Many, many said they had never seen such a handsome corpse, so smiling and happy.  But with all sympathy the tears from all, the banks of lovely flowers, the band gave a large harp, the brother “the Gates Ajar” – but could not comfort the orphan’s grief.  As his six brother’s carried him, the band played softly Frank’s favorite piece.  The home was packed, all standing with grief with every face.  In the funeral at the chapel, the music was lovely, and the speaking all heartfelt praise.  We wish you could have been there. During Frank’s sickness, he seemed despondent all the time and we tried to cheer him continuously.  He called Jennie to him and asked her to be kinder, and to be a mother to the little ones.  She has treated them alright so far but she stays at Ella’s, Leo at Louis’s and Myrle with me.

We have rented the house for the summer, 3 rooms, and have put the furniture in the north room.  Hugh may come there this winter.  Jennie is attending Sunday School, and also Mutual with Lenore.  She will work in the fruit and beets this summer, and go to high school in the winter.  She seems changed, I am pleased to say.

Uncle Joe and his folks, Aunt Rose Grant, one of her sons and wife came to the funeral  Jennie lost your address and we couldn’t even send a telegram.  Then we had so much  croup and flu right away –nearly lost Toss’s baby.  Louis’s Norma, Leland’s Mary had it and then it was my turn.  I am just convalescing and write in an arm chair.  You may send this letter to Josephine if you will.

Frank’s financial affairs are in bad shape, taxes not paid, $150 due on the car.  We sold enough stock for the funeral expenses, a memorial stone, and there will be a guardian over the children; Elmer or Hugh, I think.  Leland tends the stock, does chores, milks. and has rented the farm.  The stock will be put on the mountain in April where Elmer and Hugh will look after them.

We have had oceans of letters from friends and relatives from Idaho, Nevada, over the state, and a piece of lovely poetry – a tribute from Mrs. Mary Kendall which I will read to

you if you stop over on your way home.  Hoping all is well with you in that land of sunshine and flowers.  I remain your friend, Louisa M. Johnson


PS  The snow is gone.  It was two feet deep all winter, very cold.  Bryan’s wife is home again


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