Chapter 13: Andrew Benton Clevenger
The Augustus Barto O'Barr and Lola May Peppers Family
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copyright 1995 by Gerald L. O'Barr
Andrew Benton Clevenger was Lola May Peppers' second husband. The
following article was written in 1995, and early 1996, by Maxine Cooper Haws, a daughter
of Gertrude Laveda Clevenger Cooper, who was a daughter of Andrew Clevenger and
Sarah Jane Odell.
by Maxine Cooper Haws
I was almost 17 years old when Grandpa Clevenger died in 1938, but being the self-centered child that I was, I did not know him well. I let the opportunity pass. I lived with my parents John and Gertrude Cooper about ten miles from the Clevenger home, and we visited often, but I never sat down and talked with my Grandpa. It was about six years ago while I was doing family research that I made a time line of Grandpa's life, and then I realized what an exciting part of history he lived, in settling this country and in bringing the blessings of the gospel to his children and grandchildren.
For this history I have used U. S. Census records along with writings by my mother, Gertrude Clevenger Cooper, Aunt Lola Clevenger White, and Aunt Malinda Clevenger Guthrie, and interviews with Uncle Ernest Clevenger and my father, John Henry Cooper. Information from Lola May Peppers O'Barr, Grandpa's fourth and surviving wife, was also used.
Andrew Benton Clevenger went by the name of Benton, or Andrew, or Andy, Pa, Papa, Daddy, Father, Mr. Clevenger, Brother Clevenger, Grandpa, Grandfather. For this history, to keep his identity clear, I will call my Grandpa, Andrew.
He was once a child, a youth, a strong robust farmer, blacksmith, hunter, a builder, a gardener, bee keeper, and most of all a very caring husband and father. In his lifetime of over 80 years, Andrew married four times with lonely years between marriages. He fathered five daughters and three sons, of which four daughters, Malinda, Mary, Gertrude and Lola, and one son, Ernest, survived to adulthood. He lived in Missouri, Arkansas, Nevada, Texas and Arizona. He was taught the gospel of Jesus Christ in 1900 while living in Arkansas and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had a strong testimony of the gospel, especially of temple work and the sealing ordinances.
Family records show Andrew's birth as 11 Dec. 1850, Green Co., Missouri. Through a study of the U.S. Census records we find that he was most likely born in 1853, Taney County, MO. because the family is listed there between 1840 and 1870. In 1850 the family is listed: B. Clevenger 21, and J. Clevenger 19, with children: J.W. Clevenger 4 and E. Clevenger 2 (Spelling not as shown.) In 1860 there was: Brackston Clevenger 30, Joana 28, with John 14, Elizabeth 11, Mildred 9, Benton 7, Joshua 5, and Sally 1. (Benton is assumed to be Andrew.) In 1870, Andrew, age 16, is listed with his wife, Nancy E. and child, Malinda, age 7 months.
(The records at the St. George Temple and T.I.B. card list his birth as 11 Dec. 1853, Ozark, Green, Mo. Overton Ward Records list his birth as 11 Dec. 1847 Green Co. Mo. In 1870 Taney Co. Mo. his parents are listed: Braxton Clevinger 36, Joanna 30, with Joshua 13, Sally 12, James McD. 6, Braston 3, and Missouri A. 1/12. His sister is listed with her family: Charles B. Lake 28 and Elizabeth 21 with Missouri A. A. . His other sister Frances is listed with her family: John H. Payton 25, Frances M. 19, and Braxton M. 1.)
German AncestryGertrude wrote: "My father was born in Missouri of parents who must have been of German origin as Father said they spoke the language in the home." Lola White wrote, "My father seldom mentioned his own family unless I asked him a question. He told me his mother never learned to speak English. I don't really know if his father spoke German. I just took it for granted he must have. I did ask my Father how he communicated with his Mother. His answer was, 'she could sure let you know what she wanted all right', leaving me to believe that she was very strict."
According to some of the records Andrew left for us, he was under the impression that his mother, daughter of Joshua Hodge, was born in Germany, but the census records give her birthplace as Illinois. At any rate, Andrew had enough knowledge and perhaps a love of the German language which led him to choose a women of German descent for his third wife. In 1905 he married Julia Carl, who was, as Gertrude expressed it, "not too long from Germany." (Probably less than a year.) "She spoke very little English," Gertrude wrote in her life story.
Home in Missouri (Before 1840 to 1860)Andrew's parents, grandparents and other relatives moved to Taney County Missouri sometime before 1840. The families of James and Rueben Clevenger settled in Marion township and other relatives went to Swan township not far away. There were George and McMillion Clevenger, and the families of Joshua Hodges, Ambrose and Willis Keithley, Charles Lair and Peter Lair. Rueben was Andrew's grandfather and the others were uncles, aunts and cousins. According to a note left by Andrew, Joshua Hodge was his grandfather, the father of Johanna Hodge.
There were few roads in the 1830's and many of the early settlers came to the upper White River Valley by way of the rivers which was difficult and dangerous at times. It was a long hard journey and took a lot of courage and faith to follow the dream to a new and better land. Taney County is in the enchanting Ozarks of Southern Missouri with beautiful rolling wooded hills and clear streams, with abundant rainfall, plenty of grass, and lots of wild game. The early settlers obtained much of their livelihood from the forests and streams. It was a good place for a boy to grow up, with trees to climb, numerous caves to explore, fishing and hunting on the hunting grounds of the ancient Osage Indians.
Harold Bell Wright wrote about this land in his book, The Shepherd of the Hills, which was published in 1907. On page 11, he has Preachin' Bill saying "When God looked upon th' work of his hands an' called hit good, he war sure a-lookin' at this here Ozark country. Rough? Law yes! Hit war made that a-way on purpose. Ain't nothin' to a flat country no how. A man jes naturally wear hisself plumb out a-walkin' on a level 'thout ary downhill t'spell him....Tain't no wander 'tall God rested when he made these here hills; He jes naturally had t' quit, for he done his beatenest an war plumb gin out."
The Civil War (1861-1865)Andrew was a boy of 8 to 12 years old during the Civil War. The family lived near Walnut Shade in 1860 and near Forsyth in 1870. The war was in 1861-1865. It has been described as a peculiar horror in Missouri with the people divided in their loyalties-- with brother fighting brother, neighbor against neighbor. Armies of both the Union and the South moved along the roads and on the rivers near the Clevenger home. There were battles fought at Ozark, Beaver Creek, Prairie Grove and Forsyth. The town of Forsyth was burned as well as other towns and many homes in the area. Families fled from their homes and went North, or to Texas, or hid in the heavy brush or in caves. How did the Clevengers with all those little children survive? It would be interesting to know.
Andrew As a Youth (1850-1867)Andrew's parents, Braxton and Johanna Clevenger, had a large family. Those older than Andrew were John Wesley, Elizabeth, and Francis Mildred. Next was Andrew Benton, then Joshua Carrell, Sarah Marigot, James Mcdonald, Braxton or Brackston, Missouri Ann, and Matilda or Jane. In his genealogical record written in pencil in 1927, Andrew listed another brother, Siegels, with a note that he lived 8 years.
Gertrude wrote that the Clevengers raised corn, cotton, cane and tobacco. In an interview with Ernest Clevenger, he said he was told that Andrew's father believed that adults and children alike were "born to work". The family all had to work together. It was a way of life. On the other hand, Gertrude related a story that was told to her to indicate that they had fun too. It was like this: "On the farm they raised sheep for wool and for food. There was one buck sheep that would bunt anyone who shook his fist at him. The boys would tease the sheep and then they would run and quickly hide behind a big log on the edge of the pond. The sheep running in hot pursuit, would go over the log and fall into the water. Braxton, the father, had watched his sons do this little trick and he decided to try it himself one day. He was not quick enough and both man and sheep went into the water." The boys must have had a good laugh about that if they dared.
In Stanford's book, "America the Beautiful Missouri," a visitor wrote about young Missourians this way: "They begin to assert their independence as soon as they can walk and by the time they reach the age of fourteen, have completely learned the use of the rifle, the arts of trapping beaver and otter, killing the bear, deer,and buffalo, and dressing skins and making leather clothes." It seems to me that this describes Andrew's childhood training.
Ernest said, "Father got his first job when he was about 14 years old, working for a blacksmith, horse trader, farmer. He lived with the man's family and learned the trade of a blacksmith. He worked and earned a pair of bullocks and he made a two wheeled cart and a yoke to work them."
"Andrew was a capable hard worker," Ernest further said, "strong and determined. He was skilled in farming, black-smithing, rustic woodworking, and logging. Like other frontier men he had to hunt for food. He had an 8 gauge shot gun loaded with big steel beebe. When he shot an animal, a deer, for instance, he always went for the legs so as not to damage the meat. One time he went into a cave and found two bears sleeping and shot both of them. Every bit of the animal was used, the meat, the hide, the fat, the bones. Bear tallow was good grease for wagon wheels and other things on the farm."
Bear tallow, bear bacon, beeswax, honey, furs and hides were good items to trade for things brought in by the river merchants: such as flour, salt, whiskey, gunpowder, coffee, calico, and hardware, pots, pans, knives, farm machinery, etc. Those who lived along the river banks also cut and sold firewood to the steamship owners for fuel for the boats.
Andrew's First Marriage (1867-1880)On 6 Aug 1867, Andrew married Nancy Emeline Peyton. They had three children. Malinda Ann was born 4 Oct 1869 and Mary Frances was born 25 June 1872. Their son, John Wesley, died the same day he was born, 20 Oct 1874, at Van Buren, Crawford County, Arkansas, and Nancy passed away also leaving Andrew with two small girls to raise. Gertrude wrote, "He kept them with him most of the time, doing the best he could to send them to school. The youngest one, Mary, had a bad hip which kept them out of school a great deal. Part of the time Malinda carried Mary to and from school."
In 1880, according to the U.S. Census, Andrew, Malinda and Mary lived for a while with his brother Wesley and family in Ozark county Missouri. Wesley's family included him, his wife, Alice, and their children, Sintha 10, and John 7. Malinda was reported as 10 years old and Mary 6.
Also in 1880, according to the census, Braxton was living in Ozark Co. with his second wife, Orenna and the children: James 16, Baxter 12, Ann 9, Matilda 7, and Rufus 4 mo. Gertrude said that she had been told that Orenna was the sister of Nancy Emeline Payton, Andrew's first wife, and that she had only one child, Rufus.
In 1946 Gertrude wrote to her sister Malinda asking about the family. Malinda named her uncles and aunts in order of age including Andrew's half-brother, Rufus. She wrote, "I almost growd up with the last six and been with them a lot except Uncle Josh but I remember him as a young jolly fellow."
Andrew's Second Marriage (1884-1902)Lola May Peppers O'Barr Clevenger wrote of Andrew: "He never married again till Linda and Mary was almost grown. With the help of his folks he kept the girls together. Linda had to cook and keep house when very small, with the help of her father and he was gone from home a lot of the time leaving the girls alone. So he decided he had better get married."
In the winter of 1884, Andrew and his daughters were living on the North Fork of the White River. Malinda wrote that it was 7 miles west of Pottersville. She wrote, "Well the first time I ever see your mother (Sarah Jane Odell, daughter of Martin Odell and Mary McDodle) now she had bin working as a cook at a sawmill in the pine timber 25 miles east of us, I think it was, and your ma needed a rest. So she com by our house one evening walking caring a suit case. She stopped for to get pa to take her across the river in a canew boat. Well a Mr. Collins and his wife an little boy was going to stay all night. Your ma was tired after walkin' 25 miles that winter day so we all insisted she stay all night. So she did and the next morning went on to her friend about 5 miles farther on.....So som folks had a dance in that direction so I and pa an my girl friend and her brother went to that dance. Well the next thing I knowd Pa got him som glad rags and tha he and your ma was married. I was glad of the arrangements."
A.B. Clevenger of Dora, Ozark County Mo. and Sarah Jane Casey of Ambrose, Ozark County, Mo., were married 13 March, 1884 in Gainsville, Mo. She was born near Pocohantas, Ark. 23 Sep 1858, the daughter of Martin Odell and Mary McDodle and was previously married to Mr. Casey.
Malinda's letter to Gertrude continues: "It wasn't long, not many weeks till Pa went to a saw mill, took a contract of seeing that the logs was got to the mill. We moved to the mill and we ran a boarding house. I mean we boarded the hands Pa needed. Well I married one of the hands and we went to his homestead in a few months but your brother Edward was born in April 1885 before I was married that September.....I and your Ma had good times together. We had time to fish, hunt wild berries the first summer before Edward come."
Edward was born 4 April 1885 in Douglas County Mo. and died in Aug 1887, of what was thought to be worm fever.
Quoting Malinda's letter to Gertrude further: "In the winter of 1886 Pa gave up the mill job and moved on the first bench or level place on the Boston Mountain and bought a good rich farm if it was pretty sloping. He made a good living on it. He built another house and went to near Ozark Mo. where Grandpa Braxton lived with his wife, Orenna, and Jane and Rufus, and moved them in the new house. But Orenna wouldn't move there for Pa to look after them. So Grandpa didn't stay long till he went back to his old home. Yes, it was on that farm that I never seen such tall corn and big potatoes and your ma loved to live there better than anywhere she ever lived. You was borned there. Pa cut down enough black walnut trees to have made him as rich as a Jew, but he hated to climb that hill so he sold the place and traded it for one down on the level and got a bad title so lost it all."
Gertrude wrote, "I was born 29 April 1894 in the Ozark Mts of Arkansas. My earliest rememberance is of living near Aunt Mildred Peyton, on a small stream with malinda and her family living near by."
Frances Mildred Clevenger, Andrew's sister, had married John F. Peyton and in 1900 were living in Marion County Arkansas which borders Searcy County. The Peytons family included Lucinda, and Pearl Peyton, Malinda J. Butler, their daughters, a son, John, and grand-daughters Cricket Butler 6 years old, and Alta Davis 6. Gertrude was the same age as these grand-daughters. (See U.S. Census of 1900 Marion County, Prairie Township, Arkansas, and the 1900 Census of Mt. Pleasant Township, Searcy County, Arkansas. The families were in separate counties but may have been close because the boundary between the counties is a river.)
In her story, Gertrude added, "We later moved to another place and I met Mary's two girls, Roxie and Minerva. they were living with their father, Ross McGowen. I don't remember ever seeing Mary." Mary had married Ross McGowen and they had two girls and a boy. Mary left her daughters with Ross, and took her son and the family never saw or heard from her again. Andrew's tender heart was sad. He was heard to say that he thought she must have been killed or died, otherwise she would contact him. Mary's children were Roxie, Minerva, and Albert. They were born in Searcy Co., Ark. between 1891-1893.
Malinda had married William Addison Guthrie 20 Sep 1885. They lived for some time near Oakmound in Ozark County, Missouri, where her sons, Levi (1890) and Ernest (1893) were born.
Gertrude wrote: "My mother was a small woman with light brown hair and blue eyes. I was the only other child born to them. Mother spun yarn for my dresses and knitted my hose. She thought they were warmer and more fireproof. We had an open fireplace for heat, and as well as I remember, she did most of the cooking there too."
The Clevengers are Baptized (1900)Gertrude wrote: "I was about 5 years old when the Elders came to our house. We lived in a two room log house. The only light we had was a rag rolled up tight and soaked in grease laying in a saucer with grease in it. It was either that or the fireplace."
"It was while we were living here near Witt Springs that the Elders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints first came to our place. Father (Andrew) was at that time an Elder in what was then known as the Campbellite Church (now the church of Christ). After reading the books and tracts the elders left and having the gospel explained to them, Father was convinced that he had no right to preach the gospel since he didn't have the priesthood authority. So he and Mother were baptized in a little stream near our house."
The Arkansas District conference, Central States Mission Record of Membership early to 1929, Member Number:
#204 Andrew Benton Clevenger baptized 4 May 1900 by George E. Wilkins confirmed 4 May 1900 by George E. Wilkins emigrated to Nevada #205 Sarah Jane Clevenger baptized by George E. Wilkins confirmed 4 May 1900 by Crayton Johnson
Move to Nevada (1900-1902)Gertrude mentions also Elders Mendis Diego Cooper and Mendenhall. She continues: "As feelings was still quite bitter toward the Mormons, Father decided to go west. We were going to Overton, Nevada, where Elder Johnson and Elder Cooper lived. so we started out with a team of mules and covered wagon and two dogs. It was getting late in the fall and getting cold. When we got to Oklahoma, we picked cotton for a while, then sold the wagon and team and gave the dogs away and got on the train and went as far as Fillmore, Utah."
"We stayed a few days with some people by the name of Tanner. Then Father rented a house and got a job. We later got a ride to Panguitch where we were met by M.D. Cooper Sr. and another wagon and we went with him to his home in Overton. We stayed a few days in their home and moved into a tent on the Cooper place."
The Overton Ward Record of Membership states that the Clevengers were received as members of the ward May 1901. This was a happy time for the Clevengers. They had a home with garden, fruit trees, a flock of chickens, the honey bee, friends, the peace that the gospel brings, the privilege of living in Zion. They continued to be good friends to the Coopers and the Johnson family. Gertrude was baptized on her eighth birthday, 29 April 1902. by Crayton Johnson. But sadness came into their lives soon afterward. In October 1902, Sarah Jane had pneumonia. Crayton Johnson's mother, Susannah Veater Johnson who had been sent to Overton by Brigham Young to be the community's doctor/mid-wife, was called in to care for her. Sarah was very sick, and Sister Johnson had a stroke while she was caring for her, so there was not much help to be had. Sarah passed away 17 October 1902.
My Daddy (Andrew's future Son-in-law), John Henry Cooper told this account:
"Sister Clevenger had been administered to before. Then someone said, 'Let's get Brother Cooper.' Mendis Diego Cooper Sr. was known in the community for his faith in healing. So he was sent for and prepared to go. He asked his son, John, age 20, to go along. As they entered the room, Brother Cooper observed the sick woman's color, breathing, her temperature. He hesitated. Someone suggested that they go ahead with the ordinance of administering to her. Brother Cooper replied, 'That's all wrong. Her ears are black. She is very near death.' Tenderly he straightened her arms and legs and body. Then he placed his hands upon her head and by the power of the Priesthood he said: 'Sister Sarah Jane Odell Clevenger, by the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood which we hold, I dedicate you unto death....'
"When he took his hands away she was dead. He sent for the sisters to prepare the body and then he did what he could to comfort Brother Clevenger and his daughter, Gertrude. Brother Cooper and John took Brother Clevenger and Gertrude to the Cooper home and the body was taken to the church house to await burial the next day."
A pine board coffin was made by some of the men of the ward and she was buried up on the hill in Overton Cemetery. Sarah Jane passed away the 17th Oct. 1902, and Andrew was alone after a happy marriage of 18 years.
A Time of Healing and Change (1902-1905)Gertrude wrote: "After Mother was gone, Father left me part time with the Coopers and would be gone for a few days to several weeks. He got a house in Overton and we lived in with a family for a while before they moved out. Then we were alone. I tried to cook and wash dishes. I don't remember about the wash."
"In November 1903 Dad took me with him and we went to St. George, Utah, and he got Martha Prince to help him and did some of his temple work. We stayed with the Princes in Washington. I was baptized for quite a number of people." Mendis D. Cooper and Sophia Prince Cooper were the parents of ten children, 4 or possibly 5 of whom were still at home at the time Sister Clevenger passed away. It was to Mendis' sister Martha Prince that Andrew went to for a place to stay and for help to do temple work. Martha was married to Sophia's brother Richard Prince. Sister Prince, Andrew and Gertrude worked for perhaps a week and did the work for Andrew, his wives, and his parents. that was in Nov. 1903.
After Gertrude and Andrew got back to Overton, Andrew decided to go to Oklahoma to visit his daughter Malinda. they went by train to Elk City and were met by Malinda's husband William Addison Guthrie. He took them to their home near Guthrie. they visited about four months, then went back to Overton, Nevada.
Andrew's Third Marriage (1905-1908)
Gertrude wrote: "Father decided I needed someone to look after me better so he started looking for a wife. He started corresponding with a German woman living in Salt Lake City. She was a convert almost direct from Germany, with two boys, both older than I."
They were married by a Justice of the Peace before they got home from the train Station. This was the 27 June 1905. Her name was Julia Carl, and her two sons, Adolf and Willie. Andrew took them to St. George and had them sealed to him in Oct 1905. The boys were 13 and 15 years old and found other places to stay soon.
Julia was dissatisfied so Andrew sold his little place and the family moved to East Texas to a little Mormon town of Kelsey. You will not find Kelsey on the map today because there is no longer a school or post office there. The town site was on Kelsey Creek about 5 miles west of Gilmer, Texas.
The first L.D.S. settlers in Upsur County were Jim and John Edgar who had left their home in Alabama because of persecution. They found thick forests, rolling hills, good soil, plentiful rainfall, and a mild climate. The Edgars wrote to their friends inviting them to come join them. In 1900 President Duffin of the Southwestern States Mission suggested to the General Authorities in Salt Lake City that Kelsey be a gathering place for the Saints of the Southern States. the colony was known and publicized throughout the entire Southern States and Central States Mission. Mormons were being persecuted and driven from Southern areas of U.S.. Kelsey provided a welcome haven.
According to my calculations, the Clevenger family went to Texas some time in early 1906 and stayed a little over a year. In 1906 Kelsey was a thriving community of 70 families, 400 people, all church members. There was at least one saw mill, a shingle mill, a cotton gin, 2 stores, and a grist mill. A fine school had been established with the Elders laboring in the mission in charge. One of the Elders taught school and the community paid for another teacher. Kelsey was the center of church activities for N. Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
Gertrude wrote, "We lived a few months in Kelsey, then moved to a saw mill and lived in a company house. Father worked all winter driving a team and hauling logs." In the spring, the family moved to a farm where Andrew raised a crop of corn and cotton. Gertrude recorded: "I didn't get along well with Julia so Father got me a place to stay in Kelsey. I went to stay with the Cude family to go to school. Before school was out I went to stay with a Campbell family and to be nearer Father. I stayed with them all summer, but before school again Father sent me to stay with Malinda in Oklahoma. I made the trip alone and rather enjoyed it."
I think this was an unhappy time for Andrew, to have to have Gertrude live in someone else's home and not be able to look after her, and then in desperation to have to send her alone by train on that 400 mile journey to Elk City, Oklahoma. Gertrude was 13 years old. She had ridden the train before and seemed to have no fear. The train that went by Kelsey was a short line, so Gertrude had some transfers to make. She started out on the Missouri and East Texas line, commonly called the 'Misery and Eternal Torment Line' because the service was so poor. The scheduling was informal and the tracks rough. The passengers would have to get out and help the crew gather wood for fuel to make the trip. There were no dinning cars and the train would stop at watermelon and cane patches and gardens, and peach orchards, and every body would get out and help themselves. I don't know, that may have been common with all trains in that day.
Malinda attended the Church of Christ and was very firm in her belief. While Gertrude was living with her, she went to church with them, but Malinda told her that she was not to get interested in that faith, The Church of Christ. "Pa wants you to be a Mormon," she said.
Julia and Andrew moved to Oklahoma and according to my calculations, in the spring of 1908, Andrew started a crop on the place owned by Malinda's husband. Before the crop was harvested, Julia left and the family never saw or heard from her again.
Texas (1908-1909)Gertrude wrote: "Father got the address of one of his brothers that he hadn't seen in over forty years, so decided to go to Texas and see him. We got there sometime in November. At least Uncle Joshua was still picking cotton so we helped. Uncle Joshua rented a place with two houses and some farming ground and Father was going to farm with him and his boys."
"One day Father started to town driving Uncle Joshua's mule team. The team ran away with him throwing him out against a tree breaking his leg in two places below the knee. The doctor came out from Albany and set his leg and put it in a cast, putting some holes in the cast to pour in alcohol to keep infection down. The skin was broken in several places and must have been very bruised. He was in bed quite a while."
Gertrude continued: "After father got so he could get around pretty well on crutches, we went to where Jessie Clevenger, son of Uncle Joshua, lived. In September we started out with Jessie and his family and his brother, Sam, and his wife to go to Arizona. The trip was made in wagons and was very tiresome. Father and I hauled the water for all of us. Some times we had to make a dry camp. some of the water wasn't fit to use but we had to use it or do without."
Arizona (1909-1913)"After about six weeks we arrived in Duncan, Arizona, in October 1909. Father hunted up the bishop whose name was Nation. He found us a place to stay where I looked after an old lady in her 80's and her son. I did the cooking, washing and such as was to be done. Father got a few odd jobs around and got us a tent to move into. I did washings, ironings and anything I could get to do. We later moved to Mr. Wilkins' place and Father raised a garden. We stayed there until Oct, 1910 and arrived in Mesa about the tenth. Father found us a little house to live in on a place Orson P. Cooper had rented. I washed, ironed and did whatever I could get to do and still be home nights. Father would not allow me to stay at night." (Jessie and Sam Clevenger went back to Texas.)
Orson P. Cooper was brother of Mendis Diego Cooper Jr, the missionary who taught Andrew and Sarah Jane Clevenger in Arkansas. Their brother John also lived in the Mesa area. It was a happy reunion for Andrew and Gertrude to see these friends again. John had perhaps not noticed Gertrude earlier, but seeing her again at the age of 16, she looked pretty good to him. They were married on the 8th of March 1911. They moved into a little one room house. Andrew got a job taking care of the horses at Weeks Cattle Ranch near Superstition Mts. Later Andrew moved to Mesa and lived with John and Gertrude, sleeping in a tent in the back.
Fourth Marriage (1913-1938)Andrew met Lola May Peppers O'Barr through some friends he had known in Kelsey, Texas. She wrote in a biography she wrote for Ernest: "We saw each other at conference. I was pointed out to him by friends. These friends were staying at my place, so they told him where I lived and he came out to my place. We had just got home from conference. They introduced him to me. I guess it was love at first sight for we began to go together. The children did not like him at first. They played all kinds of tricks on us, such as, changing the buggy wheels, putting the hind wheels in front. We drove to church and back. They laughed at us when we got back. Mr. Clevenger just said, 'Well boys, you have had your fun. Now come and help me change them back.' So they did."
Sister O'Barr had been a widow for three years when she met and married Andrew Clevenger. She was a good looking woman of 36 with seven children of her own and two step-sons to care for. She faced the future with faith and courage and hard work. She washed and ironed and did housework for neighbors, raised vegetables and peddled them and raised chickens. She had eight acres of land and big sons to help her. She must have been a beautiful sight to Andrew's lonely heart, hungering for a wife and children.
Andrew went courting in his buggy pulled by his horse "Old Slocum." One Sunday while he was in the house waiting for time to go to church, the boys changed the buggy wheels. The back wheels were larger than the front wheels, so they put one back wheel on the front of the buggy and the little front wheel on the back. The buggy rocked from side to side. The story is told that on another occasion the boys put Old Slocum backwards in the buggy shafts, and had him waiting thus in the dark when Andrew left the house to go home one night.
Andrew Clevenger and Lola May Peppers O'Barr were married 23 January 1913 by Bishop John Riggs of Mesa Third Ward. The Wedding was performed in Lola's home and a supper and party was held afterwards. John and Gertrude Cooper with their little son Alton were among the guests, so Alton has always told it with pride that he attended his Grandpa's wedding.
Lola O'Barr Clevenger wrote: "He (Andrew) said he thought it would be a blessing to help raise the children... They soon thought he was a pretty good fellow." She continued: "I was having a hard time making a living. I had 8 acres of land so Mr. Clevenger farmed and gardened it for a few years. Then we decided to make a move. I wanted to go to the temple before any more of the children got married." (Ida had married John Verney in 1909) "I rented the place out and sold my homestead out on the desert about 10 miles from Mesa. We bought a new wagon and a team. We had a wagon and a team, a pony and a buggy. We fixed up a pretty good outfit for traveling and set out for the St. George Temple."
Two other families went with the Clevengers to St. George, the Kaze family and Rialdo and Pernie Merrill and their children. The temple work was done for Brother Augustus Barto O'Barr and his first wife Sarah. Lola got her endowments and Andrew was proxy for Brother O'Barr and Lola and Brother O'Barr were sealed. The O'Barr children were sealed to their parents and Andrew's and Lola's daughter Ruth was sealed to Lola and Augustus. This was all done in the St. George Temple in April 1915. Arthur was 21 years old, Lewis 18, Dora 15, Parley 12, Alice 7, and Gus 6.
Lola later wrote: "Well we could not find what we wanted in St. George so went to Enterprize, Utah, and made a crop there. It was a beautiful place but we were not satisfied, so went to Cedar City, Utah, to where the Kaze family lived. We bought a lot and a log house on it. It was where Lola was born. It was so cold there, we did not want to stay another winter. So we decided to come back home.... When we got back to Arizona the place was still rented so we went to Laveen, down on the other side of Phoenix on the river. The place was good farm land with plenty of water for farming but had no house on it so Mr. Clevenger and the boys moved the little house that was on the Mesa place down there. We had to haul our drinking water."
"That is where the children had typhoid fever and Lewis died. Dora and Parley both had it all at the same time. They got well. I had a hard time of it with Lola just a baby beginning to walk. Mr. Clevenger put up a fence to keep her from the ditch. Well, we made pretty good. Cotton was on the boom. We got a good price for it, paid off all of our debts and came out with a little money."
"Mr. Clevenger bought our first car and the fun began. The boys wanted to drive it and he didn't want them to so he soon sold it. I was glad."
"We got the home place back and moved back here by the ice plant soon after Christmas where we lived when Ernest was born and where we lived for some time, till after Ernest started school." (The Ice Plant - and dairy - was at 532 West 4th Ave. on the north side of the road.)
Writings of Lola Clevenger WhiteLola Clevenger White wrote: "I can remember how very happy Dad was when Ernest was born. He had lost a baby son by his first marriage, another by his second marriage. So he was very happy to have a son again. Mother always said, 'You are spoiling that boy rotten, you better make him mind while you can; he will be too big soon.'
"Dad always laughed and said, 'He is all right.'"
She continued, "I can only remember a spanking from my Dad twice. One time when I was real young, I jumped over the open well, before they got the windless on it to dig it deeper. Again when almost four, when Ernest was born, the Dr. came and wanted to examine Mother. I was reluctant to leave, wanting to know what was going on. So when the Dr. left I said to Dad, 'Ha Ha, I looked in the window.' So I got awell deserved spanking."
"I can remember Dad carrying me on his shoulders, running, laughing and having a big play. I can also remember a game we used to play. We all put one finger on Dad's knee, as he would point to each finger saying, 'Wire brier, limberlock, two geese in a flock. One flew East, one flew West, one flew over the coo coo's nest. One, two, three, out goes she.' One of us would leave the room, and call to be carried home. So Dad and whoever else was called found us and folded their arms like a chair, and we got to be carried home."
Lola White continued: "I remember Dad was one of the witnesses in the temple when Geddis and I were sealed. We lived with Dad and Mom for almost two years after we got married. Dad cried when we moved and asked Mom if she had asked us to move or said anything to make us mad. Of course she told him she had not. Dad said: 'Then why do they want to move? We have a big house, and I want them to stay.'
"We had a little son, Raymound and Dad loved him dearly. We moved less than a mile away so everyday Dad and my old dog Buster came to see us."
"Little Raymond got drowned when only eighteen and a half months old. It was truly a tragedy of my life. It was in the morning, dozens of people came. The police were there, everyone was running here and there praying as we was, he wasn't in the canal. When a little shoe was found on the bank, neighbors began going in the water, through culverts and any place he might have gotten lodged."
"I looked down the road and saw my dear old Daddy and buster coming. It broke my heart to tell him. I think I would rather have died, than to give him that message. Bless his dear old heart. It almost killed him."
"That was Sept 23, 1934. A year later, my daughter Lela was born. Dad was still making his walks to our house but not every day. Our summers were hot, and I was pregnant with Lela. I was sitting out under the trees in my front yard, embroidering on a little dress, when down the road came dear Dad and Buster and he was carrying a little electric fan, as I had no cooler. Lela was born Oct 22, 1935."
"Dear old Dad's health was failing him fast now. His walks came less and less. Lela was three years old when Dad passed away. Seemed he got weaker and weaker. He was tired and rested on the bed more and more each day. One day he just didn't feel like getting up at all. My sister Gertrude Cooper and husband John, came in a few days. I don't believe he even opened his eyes. That same night about dark he just passed away, went peacefully home to Heavenly Father."
"Dad was a hard worker. He plowed the fields with a one horse, walking plow hour upon hour. He usually had a large garden. He and mother worked together. We had a cantaloupe shed and packed cantaloupe to market. Dad and I would take a truck load of melons, corn, and any kind of vegetables we had, and go peddling. Dad had bees. Maybe twice a year Dad would rob the bees of their honey. He had a honey extractor you turned by hand. When I was old enough I took my turn along with Mom or any of the family we could con into helping. The honey was strained, put into 5 gallon cans and sold."
"Dad had a blacksmith shop out under the Chinaberry trees. He could make most anything with iron; fire dogs for a fireplace, a shovel, a hoe, a horse shoe, you name it, Dad could make it. Dad could tan hides also, but mostly he bought his leather I believe. This was for half soling shoes. Neighbors came for miles around for Dad to put a heel or sole on a shoe. I guess you could say Dad had many trades. He never had a lot of money, but many friends enjoyed his many free services. Dad was always busy, never lazy. He worked as long as his poor old body would let him."
Lola White continues: "Did Dad have a testimony of the gospel? You bet he did. We always had family prayer, every morning before we all left for school. Dad didn't always attend all the meetings, but always to Quarterly conferences. He loved to hear the authorities from Salt Lake speak."
"A question: How many men in their sixty's would marry a widow with nine children, take her by wagon train with three other couples, traveling three weeks to St. George Temple? Then stand proxy so she and her children could be sealed to her first husband along with the one child he and Mother had, that died shortly after birth?"
"This was my Dad. What a wonderful heritage he has left for all of us. With all my love, Lola Clevenger White."
Ernest Clevenger said: "He (my father, Andrew) never bet except on his own skill. He would lie on the ground and challenge any two men to hold him down. He always got up and won the bet."
He had little schooling but he loved to read. The family always subscribed to the newspaper. Ernest looked forward to the evening paper every day and his Dad read the continued story to him. He remembers "Brer Rabbit" and others.
"Andrew worked for the stage/freight line out east of Apache Junction during the construction of Roosevelt Dam. It was called Wicks Station. He took care of the horses and mules."
Lola May Peppers liked to camp out so the family made many trips to the Verde River and to the Superstition Mountains and various places. Ernest said that while Andrew was working as a horse wrangler for Wicks some of the horses got lost in the mountains and that while searching for them Andrew found a cave and went back years later to explore it. They camped out a few days and somehow Andrew ate some spoiled sardines and became very ill. Ernest had to drive the Model T back to town. He was about 9 or 10 years old. It was his first attempt to drive, and Andrew was very sick. It was quite a trip.