By Ida S. Verney
My history as I remember it, and as it has been told to me before I could
remember. I write this for my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and
perchance some of my friends. What I write may be criticized, why should I care. I
write not for the critic, but for those that love me and those whom I love. I know I
shall love people that are as yet unborn. This, my memoir, will be full of I and my for
how else could I write of myself.
If I may write and tell you some things that would help you to understand
yourselves better, then you might know from whence came some of your weakness,
or strength, and thereby fortify yourselves against these weaknesses. For instance, I
have been very temperamental and it has brought me much trouble, this flying off like
a jug handle, so to speak. You might train yourselves against this fault. Personally, I
cannot find any virtue in skeletons locked in family closets. Some things talked over,
aired out, understood, are much better than having to guard the secret always. If an
uncle or someone has brought disgrace to the family by drink you can fortify
yourselves by never dabbling with the filthy stuff, thereby never being a drunkard.
Some of the things that I record may seem foolish, and some are.
Nevertheless, they have taught me lessons, if I might pass these on to you and help
you to understand life better that you may live better, I shall not write in vain.
How I would value, some written word of my own grandparents. They were
young people in the days of the Civil War, living in the Southern States. My Father's
Mother living alone with her three small children, my father one of them. Her husband
off in the war, in a land at that time where no one nor any thing was sacred or safe. I
would like to know what they thought, how they felt and the description of things as
they saw them. As they did not do this, we, their descendants, will never know. But I
wish I knew some of their faults and failings, then perhaps I would know why I do
some of the things I do, not that I would lay my faults onto my ancestors. No! I'll try to
carry my own load, if I am careful and don't let it get too heavy by my own doings.
I am glad I have never been financially able to ever be puffed up in pride, for
when younger I might have used it to my sorrow, and hurt other people's feelings.
Though now at my age, I fully believe I could rightly use a little prosperity. In living life
I have learned, it is better to give than to receive and if you've ever been on the
receiving end you'll know what I mean. My motto is to share all I have or divide and
grow. You understand, plant one grain of wheat and get back a handful of wheat,
beans, corn or anything else. It is the same in love or hate, for chickens come home
to roost. You get back more then you pass out, sow the wind and reap the whirlwind,
is just as true today as it was when written in the Bible. Cast thy bread upon the
water, though don't look for it to return to you in cake.
I try not to be old fashioned, it is not how many clothes we wear, a girl can be
just as bad in ten petticoats of six yards each as she would be without any, it depends
on the girl, but I do think a few underclothes are best for our well being. It isn't the
kind of clothes that count, what they cost, but how we wear them, how we act in them,
and the heart that beats beneath them.
I spent my early childhood in the rugged and beautiful hills and mountains of
that famous old state that so many jokes are made about, Arkansas. I was born at
my grandparents home on September 22, 1891, at a place called Economy, near
Atkins. The daughter of Augustus Barto O'Barr and Lola May Peppers. They named
me Susan Idella. I've often wondered what my parents had against me to pin a name
like that to a little girl. I was always called Ida, or Idee, some-how. I always think
children should be called by whatever name their folks give them. Once I decided to
get people to call me Idella, but as my brothers got quite a kick out of me wanting
them to call me Idella, they called me Idle Eller, so I just let it go from then on as Ida.
I decided it didn't make much difference what we were called anyway, just so we were
called before to late.
I was Mother's first child, she was seventeen the November after I was born.
My Father had two living sons by his first marriage. His wife died when the youngest
was born. Their names were Frank and Joe. My parents next three children were
boys. One of them died when eleven months old. I was nine years old before I had a
sister. I suppose the folks spoiled me some. My Dad was very proud of me, he told
folks I was his best girl, also his worst. I resented the fact that I was a girl sand-
wiched in between the boys, and determined that they wouldn't get ahead of me. I did
everything that they did, I could climb trees, ride horses and work as hard as they.
We lived in a timbered country, our Dad was a farmer, the farm had been
cleared out of the forest and fenced with a rail fence. All around the fields were cool
deep thick wood. We children lived a wild and free life when we could, but our living
had to come out of the land with enough stored up to last a long time. We had hog
killing time in the winter and enough was put away for a year's supply, sausage,
hams, bacon, side meat souse and lard. Souse is called head cheese here in the
West. There was a grainery for wheat, cotton seed house, barn for corn and fodder.
Fodder was the leaves of the corn stalks, striped off green and tied in bundles to dry,
then stored away. We also put away barrel sand boxes of apples, sweet potatoes,
turnips and many quarts of canned fruit, lots of dried fruit, and always tried to have a
barrel of sorghum for syrup and sweetening. Stewed dried peaches sweetened with
sorghum molasses and eaten with ginger bread, is yet my favorite desert.
I well remember the first glass fruit jars my Dad brought home, they would
never allow we children in the kitchen while they were being filled, for fear they would
break and spray us with hot fruit or glass. I used to stay close by the door in fear that
Dad or Mother would be injured by flying glass or hot
fruit. Strange though, none ever broke. Then one day Dad came home with a
beautiful glass lamp, with a flowered chimney. All our lamps until then had been little
brass bowls with handles and a reflector in back. We were so afraid this glass lamp
would explode, we set it so far away from us we could not see any better with it then
we could without. After a long time though we decided it was safe. Sometimes we
were out of Kerosene and would twist a piece of rag into a can of grease and light it
for light or use the fire in the fireplace.
I never remember being hungry as there was always plenty. My Father was a
stone mason as well as a farmer and fruit tree agent. He dug rocks from rock
quarries and built chimneys for people for miles around. Some of these chimneys are
standing today. He went for many miles on horse or mule back taking orders for fruit
trees and went once each year to Hilltop for his load of trees. He used to tell this joke
on himself: He said he went to a place and a beautiful women came to the door. He
asked her where her husband was and she told him that her husband was plowing in
the field. Dad went to where the man was plowing and it was a colored man. He
went back and said "I found no one except a negro." "Well, that's my husband," the
lady said. Father said, "Surely a nice looking woman as you have not married a
negro!" The woman said, "Oh, that's not half as bad as my sister did, she married a
fruit tree agent!"
When Dad came home from Hill Top with his load of trees, vines and flowers to
be delivered to the farmers, I was usually close around to watch the unloading and
begging for something to plant. Dad gave me many pieces of different kinds and our
yard was a riot of flowers from early spring until frost in the fall. At one time, I planted
a purple wisteria plant by an oak tree at the end of the porch. It grew up into the tree
until when it was in bloom, it was a beautiful thing to see, long fronds of purple flowers
high up in the oak tree. We had many colors of flowers, a beautiful lilac bush with its
We worked hard in the fields. Mother went to the field with us. If there was not
a young baby or one expected soon and it was one way or the other most of the time.
When Mom went to help in the field I was usually left in the house to look after things
and the smaller children. One time I thought I would be a big help to Mother, so I
mixed up a nice pot of meal with milk adding plenty of salt and fed it to her new
top-knoted chickens. The salt killed the chickens, so my help wasn't so good -- nor
Dad usually laid out our work for us to do before he left in the morning to do his
own. Dad believed in obedience, and woe be unto us if our work was not finished.
He also believed in that old adage of spare the rod and spoil the child, so he didn't
spare the rod but used it freely when we needed it, as we were fighting Irish we
needed it often. We had many pictures on our walls, two long ones, one named "A
Yard of Pansies" the other "A Yard of Roses." There were some motto pictures:
"God Bless Our Home," "Firmly to the Cross I Cling" and "I Need Thee Every Hour".
Behind this picture Dad always threatened to keep his willows. There was always
plenty of switches handy someplace around the house and we were called to toe the
mark and really needed a licking nearly that often.
With all our work, lickings and everything we had lots of fun, and could go into
the woods and forest that surrounded our farm when our work was finished. In this
forest were all kinds of wild fruits and berries, grapes, nuts, acorns and many wild
flowers, wood violets, dogwood, black eyed Susand, niger heads and many others.
There were wild plums, huckleberries, cherries, muskidines, dewberries, goose berries,
and black berries. There were many kinds of birds. I knew them, their eggs, nests
and their calls. I knew many habits of the wild life around me.
We were wise in the ways of the forest and work, but had little schooling, about
six to twelve weeks a year. Reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic, what is often referred to as
the three R's. I never had a lesson in grammar nor saw an English or grammar book
until I was twelve years old, after we moved to Mesa, Arizona. If anyone had asked
me about my grammar, I would have told them about my Grandmother, and as far as I
would have known, I would have been right.
I well remember one lesson in truthfulness. Dad told one of my brothers and I
to hoe out a little patch of cotton that had been planted in the orchard and he gave us
each a dime. He came in that evening and went to inspect our work. I walked along
with him and he kept saying, "This row is a little grassy." and I would always answer,
"That is one of Joe's rows Dad." When we got back to the house Dad said, "Well,
being as Joe has hoed it all he'll get both dimes." I had not noticed that my Father
had stepped on each row as we had walked across the field and back. It left me a
much wiser girl. After that I claimed my own work whether good or bad.
I remember the first phonograph or talking machine, as we called them. A man
came into our part of the hills charging a dime to come and hear it, we went with other
children of our neighborhood. It was a big box-like affair with a long rod extending out
two or three feet. This rod held the horn up by a chain. The horn was a big morning
glory shaped horn painted red. We couldn't believe that a machine could talk and were
quite sure they must have a man hid in it someplace, though the box was too small for
that. The records were cylinder shaped. We all sat on boards around the walls of the
room, and wondered if we were all going to be gypped out of our dimes. Then the
man put on a record and when it started to talk, we jumped up and made for the door.
As well as I remember I was close in the lead. I never was much on taking chances.
We got our courage back and went in and listened to the rest of it.
We never had been taught to pray and did not ask the blessing at the table
except when the preachers came. We were taught of God and how so very great He
was, that He was everywhere and heard and saw everything we said or did. I have
crawled back into dark places and thought God surely cannot see me now. I still love
to believe that God is everywhere and I believe that it is his handiwork in the beauties
of all the things around me. I love sunrises over mountains, sunsets in all their
glorious colors, bright stars in the deep blue sky, white clouds that drift and change
shape as they drift. I love sunshine, rain, clear sparkling water rippling over stones in
a stream always gives me a thrill. I love deep cool forests for they always remind me
of the happy days of childhood. I love the beautiful deserts of my Arizona, God made
it all, why not see Him in the beautiful world.
There were many revival meetings going on all around us. Preachers preaching
and their members shouting, "Glory Hallelujah, I've found Jesus," and a lot of other
things, as they jumped up and down and clapped their hands over their heads and
told how Jesus had entered their souls. Well, maybe he had, but I don't know. Some
of my aunts and uncles were joining different ones of these churches. One aunt
joined a church, I don't know the name of it, but we called them the "foot washers".
The people who were joining this church sat on a long bench with their shoes off, the
minister and some helpers with long towels tied around their waist and reaching to the
floor and a wash basin filled with water went to each one that was joining, dipped their
feet in the water, wiped them on the end of the towel. They said some kind of a
ceremony and sang songs. The night my aunt joined they had the services outside
under a brush arbor. A thunderstorm came up and my aunt lost one shoe and
stocking. My dad used to tease her about it.
One old man shouting under a brush arbor caught his neck in the branches.
Someone held up a lighted lamp so they could see to get him down. The brush
caught on fire, they got him down, but the arbor was a total loss. Very exciting.
Mother and Dad often went to these meetings, but never to the mourners
bench. This was a long bench were the mourners or sinners knelt to confess their
sins. I remember one time there were three mourners benches and three preachers,
each preacher stood up in turn and preached a sermon, all the sinners that believed
what a preacher was preaching went up and knelt at his bench. When all had finished
their turn at preaching they all stood up and all began singing. Then the mourners
arose from their knees and began shouting. The congregation and preachers kept
right on singing. A good time was had by all. I used to know their songs, but now just
a part of them is all I remember. One was, "Yes we'll lay down the Bible and go home,
Bright angels await us at the door." another "We'll see Jesus in the promised land and
we hope some day we'll all get there, way over in the promised land."
Mother and Dad never joined any of these churches. Dad knew a little about
the Mormons. His aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs. Philip Coleman had joined in Alabama
when Dad was a boy. He and Mother talked a lot about religion. One day someone
told Dad they had seen two men preaching on the streets of Atkins. They wore long
tailed coats and derby hats. My Dad knew they were Mormon missionaries, so he left
early next morning to see if he could find them and bring them home with him.
Mother set to work and begin cleaning, had us rake and burn the leaves as everything
must be in order for Dad had gone after the Mormons. I had no idea what a Mormon
was, but began to realize that we were going to eat. Mother, true to the tradition of
the South, began great preparation of food. In the South the best is always brought
out when company comes. She put on a ham, dressed chickens, got out the best jelly
and fruit on the place. We did not live on cornbread and turnip greens, we liked them
though, turnip greens are fine eating, sometimes.
We soon had everything scrubbed to shinning cleanness. One of my brothers
said, "Gee Whiz! You'd think the preacher was coming, and it's not even Sunday." In
the evening Dad came back, and I had my first glimpse of Mormon Elders, from then
on there were from two to six at our house. Headquarters were soon established
there and one elder stayed there most of the time. We learned to love these men and
always watched for their coming with eagerness and usually cried when they had to
go. One Elder that stayed there a lot, was very cold natured. We being kind of wild
would always leave the door open. He would point and say, "That hole." and we
would have to go back and close the door. One day Dad and Mom left the house to
visit some neighbors. We decided we would freeze Elder Smith out. We opened up
all the doors and windows and just let the air blow through. He got up and put on his
coat and never said anything to us. That was no fun, so we close the house up.
We saw Dad coming back and we were pretty sure we were going to get a
good licking for it, which we well deserved, but Elder Smith won our undying love by
being a good sport and not telling on us. That's one thing I did in my life I'll always be
ashamed of, freezing the poor elder. I think he forgave us though. The elders were
always glad to get to Brother and Sister O'Barr's because they could take off their
celluloid collars and cuffs and really rest, That probably wasn't the only reason, but
that is what they said.
Mother and Dad were baptized shortly after they heard the gospel. We owned
our own home and had no intention of ever leaving it, but after we joined the church
the children began to make fun of us. They would shout, "Mormon, Mormon" at us.
They found out about fast day and began to sing out every time they saw us, "Hey!
You old Mormons, that don't believe in eating on Sunday." The Elders organized a
Sunday School in our home. We invited the neighbors and their children to come,
which sometimes they did, whether they came to learn something for their good or to
find something new to tease us about, I'll never know.
The Elders taught us to pray. I was seven years old before I heard any member
of my family say a prayer. I was very much surprised to learn that I was a child of
God and could kneel in prayer to Him and ask for any blessing I might desire. I had
thought that praying belonged in full to the preachers. It was a long time before I
would dare to try to pray. Them one cold night I awoke with an earache. I hated to
call my Mother and Dad out of bed to build a fire for my pain. I knelt in my bed and
in my own way asked the Lord to please make it stop hurting. I covered up and the
next thing I knew the folks were up and it was morning. I was very happy then for I
began to understand some of the things the Elders were trying to teach us.
Another time I had been left with the younger children. I decided to build a
playhouse. I stood up a stick and asked my little brother to hold it while I drove it into
the ground with the ax. I missed the stick and hit him on the forehead. He fell as
though dead. I gathered him in my arms screaming. Then I thought of my Heavenly
Father that heard and answered prayer. I screamed over and over, "Oh Father in
Heaven, don't let him die, don't let him die." In a few minutes he began to struggle
and cry and before the folks came home only a little bruise on his head was a sign of
the ordeal we had been through. I'll never forget as long as I live how happy I was.
We had to make our own soap. This was a job that was prepared for during the
whole year. Everyone had an ash hopper. It was a deep trough into which we
dumped the ashes all winter. All the old grease, fat meat scraps, the fat and cleaned
hog entrails saved from butchering in the winter all called soap grease. Water was
poured on the ashes and a vessel set at the lower end of the trough to catch the lye
that dripped through the ashes. It was a red or deep amber color. When the moon
was just right in the spring, soap making began. A big black pot with three short legs
was used for boiling the lye and grease. The soap was a strong red jelly-like mass. It
was stored in barrels or kegs.
It was never firm or cut in bars as I have seen soap made here in the West.
When we washed, we took a quart measure into the smoke house, uncovered a barrel
of soap and dipped up enough for the days wash. The children had to be watched
carefully for if they were to fall into the kettle they would not be worth getting out. This
job was assigned to me, from my earliest recollection I kept the younger children away
from the soap kettle, and any other danger that came up.
One time Mother locked me up in the smokehouse as a punishment for some
mischievous prank. I looked around for something to do to get even. I saw a barrel
of her best jelly soap, so I poured it out on the dirt floor of the Smokehouse. It didn't
spread out fast enough to suit me so I stamped it with my bare feet. Soon the lye
began to eat my feet. I began to scream but Mother thinking I only wanted out didn't
pay any attention to me. I tried to get it off with my hands, then it ate my hands. I
was crying so I rubbed my eyes with nice strong homemade lye soap.
Well then my yells did bring my Mother. She was frightened at my plight until
she got me washed and found nothing more serious than a little burned skin. Though
she hated loosing her very best soap, she did not give me a licking. I suppose she
thought I had had punishment enough. I learned that revenge is not sweet and
anyone that tries to get even will usually get the worst of the deal. So I say never
seek revenge. If you need punishment take your medicine with good grace and seek
not to destroy the hard work of others anymore than you would like others to destroy
the fruits of your labors.
My Mother says I was always good to help her with the work. The most I
remember doing was washing dishes or tending the babies. I always made rhymes or
jingles, rocked and sung them to the babies. It has been a mystery to me how the
babies ever went to sleep with me singing to them. I never knew one note from
another and always sang off key, but I liked to sing whether in tune or not. I once told
an Elder that I could sing all the songs in the hymn book. He said, "Well that's good. I
can't because I don't know the tunes to them." I answered, "Oh why bother about a
tune." I thought a tune was one of these little things singers used to get the right pitch
and I could see no need for one of them. My idea was, if you are going to do
anything, go on and do it, even singing. Maybe that is one reason I like the song
"Sunshine in my Soul" because in it is this line, "and Jesus listening can hear the
songs I cannot sing."
We never grew tobacco, but grandfather did. We went there one day to help
worm the tobacco. Large green worms get on the leaves and eat holes in them. In
those days tobacco growers had to go into their fields and pick off the worms and
throw them on the ground. If that didn't kill them then you stepped on them. It is a
tough and filthy job and I can't see how anyone could use
tobacco after seeing it growing green and getting off the juicy worms.
Of course you never see those kind of leaves pictured in the cigarette
commercials, but don't ever think that the worm hole leaves are ever thrown away.
The growers have to make it pay or at least try to, but I couldn't use tobacco if all the
growers had to grow something else. A tobacco stalk grows something like a
hollyhock. The leaves are long instead of round, more of them, and before they turn
brown are a nasty sticky looking green. Now if the tobacco auctioneer don't see this I
will be all right, but it is the truth anyway.
I was baptized February 8, 1901, by Elder P. H. Smith. Yes, the same one I
tried to freeze. I was confirmed that same evening. The mission was then called the
Southwestern States Mission.
Things were not going very good with us there so Dad decided to leave. He
sold his land and home and had an auction sale on our household goods. They went
for a song and we did the singing. My bed sold for three cents. I suppose folks didn't
want to use the things the old Mormons had used. I would like to have a bed like that
now, a tall head board, wooden with deep carvings of leaves and flowers. It would be
hard to keep dusted out here in this dusty country, so just as well it sold for three
cents. Other things went at just such shameful prices and we prepared to come to the
Land of Zion and dwell with the saints.
I do not know how it started, but where the saints had gathered in the West
was always referred to as the Land of Zion by the people out in the mission field.
Dad, after much thinking and a trip out here by train, had decided on Mesa, Arizona,
which we pronounced "Meesee, Arzonie." My uncle Bill Wright took us and our
luggage to Russelville to catch the West bound train. Our luggage was a whole day
load of boxes, trunks and half a dozen cotton pick sacks stuffed with our feather beds
and other bedding. Leave our feather beds? No sir! We might part with friend and
relative but our feather beds, never.
Finally, a train came in and Father gathered us all together saying, "This is our
train, this is our train." We were quite a bunch to gather up--Mother, Father, Frank,
Joe, Ida, Arthur, Lewis, Dora and Parley, who was the baby then. When Dad said it
was our train, I made a bee line for it, starting right on in, the conductor caught me by
the shoulder and said, "Where are you going?" I was surprised that any one didn't
know, so I said, "Don't you know? I am going to Meesee, Arzonie, the Land of Zion to
dwell with the saints of God." He said, "Do you have your ticket?" I said, "Father has
it," and turned to show him. All the rest of the family had stopped at the baggage car
to check the baggage with our tickets, so I had to get off and wait. I never tried to
come on ahead after that, but I'll bet that conductor never had a better answer to the
question, "Where are you going?" I wish I had been old enough to remember the
surprised look he must have had. I was very anxious to get here and didn't care who
We arrived in Mesa January 21, 1904. I had read so many stories and heard
so much told of how the beautiful children of the saints rushed out to welcome the
newcomers and teach them of their ways. The elders had shown me pictures of their
sisters or daughters, all dressed so nice and I had planned in my mind that I would
soon learn to be like them. I really expected to be welcomed by at least a dozen
sweet Mormon girls. I soon learned that all the stories that were printed, were just
what they were--stories.
I'll never forget my first day in Mesa school. Mother had made a lot of dresses
before we left Arkansas and Dad had got me a good strong pair of coppered tipped
shoes. My dresses were made of cotton flannel and cotton checks. I also had a nice
ruffled sun bonnet. My dresses were made full gathered skirt, so long it nearly
reached my shoe tops. They were something like the Indian girls wear. My hair was
braided back so tight I could hardly close my eyes. My legs were always skinny so
the shoetops met together, lacking about one inch all around touching my heavy
homeknit wool stockings.
Here I was all set to meet the welcoming committee, I walked up to the steps
of the school house where there were a group of children and said, "Well, here I am."
I was greeted by a burst of merry laughter and some began to call to others to come
and look at what's here. I soon realized I was being laughed at. This was kind of
hard to take under the circumstances. I resented it very much. I don't know why it
was easier to be called "Mormon, Mormon" by those at home that had been my
friends, than it was to be called "Arkansayer, Arkansayer" by those I wanted to be my
friends, but it was.
I went home that evening, sought out my father, and in tears told him, "This is
no land of Zion, but a land of Hell and the children were imps of the devil." He took
me in his arms and I cried out my bitterness on his shoulder. He assured me that
none of the children could be the children of the Saints. This was a little comfort until
I went to Sunday School the next Sunday morning and there they were.
Some of the girls were very nice, but had their own crowd. Others were just
indifferent, didn't notice if I was or if I wasn't there. Some never gave me a minutes
peace for a long time. The way they treated me brought out all the old fighting Irish
spirit I had in me. The folks had told us before leaving Arkansas that we must be nice
out here, act like ladies and gentlemen and while we had nearly always settled our
difficulties with our fists, we were told this was not the proper thing to do. I finally got
my Irish temper so stirred up I started in, then I did get into trouble. I spent nearly as
much time in Professor Loper's office as I did in my school room. At first I went to his
office scared nearly to death for fear he was going to tie me and beat me, but he was
always very kind until I began to place him in my mind with Abraham Lincoln. He was
tall, not so good looking, but kind and understanding.
One day I was sent to his office, he looked up and said with a sigh. "You
again? There are some problems on the board. Work them out, I have to go to the
South Building now." The problems on the board were long ones of higher
mathematics and I didn't know a thing about it. I stood there looking at them and
George MacDonald came into the office after a book. He smiled and said. "The
answers are in the back of the book." I found the answers and copied them down.
When Mr. Loper came back he said, "Have all the answers so soon. Well, now
explain them to me." All I could explain was where I got the answers. Then he said,
"Ida, why can't you get along? Why are you always in trouble? Can't you behave?
Why do you always have to be sent to my office?" "Oh" I answered "the teachers just
send the wrong one up here, "taint my fault." After that when I was sent to his office
the one or the half dozen that I was fighting were sent with me and it wasn't long
before they left me alone, especially at school, for Mr. Loper got after them instead of
me and they didn't like that.
One time I was complaining to my mother about how I hated these few Mormon
children and that those that didn't give me any trouble were just too stuckup to notice
me. I told her I wasn't going to church anymore and would go back to Arkansas just
as soon as I could. She questioned me about what I did when the children mistreated
me. Of course, I had given them back as much as they sent with more thrown in for
good measure. Mother said, "Why, you are worse than they are, You know better
and maybe they don't. You ought to be ashamed of yourself." I was then, not at what
I had done to the kids, but the idea of being as bad as they, was something else
because I thought they were the worst ever; here was a dawning light from my
Mother, I was as bad or worse. I promised myself I would try to do better, which I
finally succeeded in doing by never speaking to any of my tormentors. I didn't speak
or let on as though I saw them. If any of them got a job in any store, I just quit going
into that store. I thought I was being wonderful in not having trouble any more. My
light was all right, but its rays didn't have the right slant. I didn't like to go to church
so only went when the folks made me.
I liked Arizona, the different fruits and figs, pomegranates, seedless grapes and
all such things. Mother used to send us on errands barefoot in the hot dust of the
road. We used to run from weed shade to weed shade and cool our burning feet in
the little shade that the weeds made. I remember one old Indian squaw who used to
wash for people around town. She was called old Hosibe. One day Mom got her to
wash for us. She got hungry about eleven O'clock. She took a little sack out of her
pocket and mixed up something out of it into water and drank it. I asked her if I could
have some. She gave me some of it. It was ground parched corn mixed with sugar
and cinnamon. Tasted pretty good too. A person could carry quite a supply of food
My father then went into business in Mesa. He and Will McBrayer opened up a
grocery store and called it the Mercantile. It paid well and they did all right for a while
until they took in some more men as partners. Through someone's
miss-management, or too many fingers in the pie, it soon went into receivership. All
my Dad got out of his investment was an old spotted cow. We named her Mercantile
and kept her until she died. She was a fairly good cow, but always bloated in the
spring. Dad would stick a hole in her side and it never healed up until fall. She would
eat then the gas would blow the green feed out of the hole. She went around spewing
like a volcano all summer.
I started running around with a group of outside people and we got along fine
together, but I always referred to the Latter Day Saints as "stuck-up Mormons". We
were all soon grown into young people. I began to try to act like the lady my folks had
wanted me to be. One day my crowd and I were going along the road when I saw a
tall, dark handsome fellow, a stranger to me, but he was known by some of my
friends. He was just the kind of fellow I had always dreamed of. I began to ask all
about him. Some of them chided me and said, "You don't need to get excited. He's
one of the stuck up Mormons and would never give you the second glance." Well, I
wasn't so sure about that. I would never give up without trying, at least. His folks
were people from the colonies in Old Mexico that had left there on account of the
Mexican War. This young man's name was John Verney and I have been Mrs. John
Verney since March 28, 1909.
After I was married I began to go to church and really liked to go. But I still
had hatred in my heart for the ones that had made my school days so tough for me.
And it is almost impossible to grow and do things with hatred in your heart. After my
children were born, I was glad then that I lived here in this wonderful land of the West.
I resolved I would never move them around to be made fun of and have to go through
the things I had, a stranger in a strange land.
One day I wrote this prayer or poem.
"Lord, now help me try to keep them
and to make their pathway bright.
I am glad they were born among Thy people
To be saved those wasted years.
Then Methinks I hear a whisper
And to me it seemed to say,
"Wasted years? Oh No! My daughter
Just a melting pot of life,
All to teach to you life's lessons.
Now is your examination,
Have you learned your lesson well?"
No! For in my heart is bitterness.
Was it? Could it have been to teach me
to be loving, kind, thoughtful and forgiving?
Yes! Of course, it was to teach me.
I must cast these hates aside.
Never put upon another, things that
I have suffered by-
Why, I'll strive with all my effort
All these grudges I shall shake.
Then His spirit will be with me.
Yes! I'll learn my lesson well.
I found this though quite a trial, but to me came a great happiness. When I met
the people that I had not spoken to for years, I would speak with a smile. In a little
while they were smiling back. soon we were shaking hands and laughing about our
foolishness when we were all mischievous children. Today, I can say that my heart
holds no bitterness against anyone. I could not blame the children for laughing, for
now I have to smile when I remember for I know I must have been a very funny
looking little girl.
I have found happiness among the Latter Day Saints, or Mormons as folks call
them. I love them all. I love the Gospel
of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and try to live it as I understand it, the best I can. And now
Mesa to me is a land of Zion, and all the people I know, whether Mormons or not are
the very best folks there are. I know no one that there is not something good about, if
I'll look for it.
I have sent my son, John Jr. back to the Southern States Mission. He filled an
honorable mission and so in a measure I've tried to pay to those that helped me by
helping others. And now in this year of 1941 at the age of fifty years I close this part
of my history, but if I live another fifty I will write again. It's a Promise.
Susan Idella Verney: Some of My Own Sayings:
- If you are looking for perfect folks, go to the cemetery. For live folks talk back,
are yet human, with human weaknesses.
- Instead of judging people by something you know they did once, that you didn't
think was right, try now to understand their efforts in trying to do what is right.
- It is more sportsmanlike to help one up, than to push him down. I am sorry I
did not learn this great lesson earlier in life.
- As a twig is bent it will not grow, unless you bind and hold it so. It will begin to
grow straight up again, as soon as you stop bending it.
- Another good thing to remember is, People can't chase you, if you don't run.
- I'm glad I'm stubborn, It is a good trait when you are right, A bad one if you're
- Get right: Our hearts are meant for God And are restless until they find their
rest in Him. (copied this one)
- Get the Gospel for yourselves. You cannot borrow knowledge of any kind.
Remember five Virgins were foolish.
- Don't let the doings of others drive you from the Church. Anymore than you
would want your doings to drive other out. None are perfect.
- The Church is God's. By its study and practice We become better people.
Memories of Ida O'Barr Verney
By Her Sister, Alice Sliger.
Ida was the oldest of my mother's children. She had married and left home
during most of my school days. Mother and Ida have both told me how she took care
of me when I was little, while my mother worked.
(Written in 1996)
After I was married and lived in the desert, east of Mesa, I had good
associations with my sister, Ida. She and her husband, John Verney, lived just three
miles away. They had a little ranch, six acres I think, at the corner of University and
Lindsey Road. Ted and I had established our "Buckhorn Mineral Wells" on Main
Street, between Higley Road and Bush Highway.
John and Ida were both good cooks. Ida made the best chicken-n-dumplings
you ever tasted and John was good at "out door" cooking. We enjoyed many lovely
dinners with them.
When Ida's Ward was building a new chapel (It was Mesa's 10th Ward, I
believe) she was always thinking of ways to make money for the building fund. They
would fix good barbecue dinners at their place, and Ted and I would tell the guests in
our motel about it, and would have quite a crowd to take to Ida and John's barbecues.
Then Ida would contribute the small fee she charged for these dinners to the building
fund. They did this many times. They would fix a big outdoor dinner and Ted and I
would bring the customers. These barbecues not only served a good purpose, but
they were very enjoyable events as well.
Once John and Ida planned to have a good joke on Ted and me. Some
relatives of John's, who I had never met, were visiting them. One was a very
attractive woman. They all came to visit us, but only John and the woman came
inside, and John acted like he was drunk. He staggered around and almost fell off the
stool, as they sat down at the counter. He really put on a good "drunk" act and I was
very embarrassed. I didn't like what I was seeing, John drunk with a strange woman,
and I told him what I thought of the situation. After a few minutes I was called to the
front of the service station to wait on a customer, and as I looked around the corner of
the building, I saw Ida and the others laughing and having a good time. Then John
and the lady (Who was his niece, I believe) came out of the store laughing too. John
had really fooled me, and they had a lot of fun over this.
In later years, after John had died, Ida married again to a man named David
Francom, and moved to Pocatello, Idaho. There, among other church duties, she
served as President of the Relief Society.
When she came back to Mesa, she became a widow again, and lived with her
daughter Bertha. She had a lot of illness during her last years, and died April 10th,
1983. I sat by her bed the night she died, and finally had to say "goodby" to a dear