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Chapter 8: Arthur O'Barr

The Augustus Barto O'Barr and Lola May Peppers Family

HTML Version 2.0

copyright 1995 by Gerald L. O'Barr


I am Alice O'Barr Sliger, sister of Arthur O'Barr. Jeana, Arthur's daughter, asked me to say a few words regarding my memory of Arthur. I remember him as being my "big brother", as he was 12 years older than me. He was out getting jobs and helping us younger ones. I remember him as always being helpful to our mother, too. Long after others had gone to bed, I remember Arthur still helping mother with the chores until she could go to bed too.

He worked on construction jobs, building the dams above the valley on the Salt River. He would come home on days off or on weekends. I have a history book that shows Arthur in a picture with Teddy Roosevelt when he dedicated Roosevelt Dam. My older sister, Ida, says she remembers that he bought a new suit for that occasion.

As we all had a difficult time, financially, in those days -the days of the great depression- Arthur often helped out with things that were needed at home. After High School I wanted to go on to college, but of course, couldn't afford to stay in a dorm. I had saved some money, as I raised and sold rabbits and worked in the fields during my high school years, but didn't have enough for college. However, I was able to get a job in Tempe to take care of my board and room and Arthur helped me get my books and supplies. I only had one week-end off a month and Arthur would nearly always manage so that he could come and get me and take me back. So I was able to graduate from Tempe Normal School and get a teaching certificate. When I got my first job in Sasabe, Arizona, on the Mexican border, Arthur was the one who took me there.

He took us younger kids to many social affairs and dances, and he always looked after us, too, made us behave ourselves and brought us home at a reasonable time. Once he took my girl friend and me to Prescott to see the Rodeo on the 4th of July. He had a boy friend with him. Julia Brewer (my friend) and I rode in the little "rumble seat" in back of the little Ford Roadster. We had a lot of fun, but Arthur had to calm us down sometimes. While driving around Prescott, Julia and I were singing "Hey Mister, Have you seen Rosie's Sister?" and flirting with some boys who kept passing us. Finally Arthur stopped the car and asked us if we wanted to go with them. "Oh no", we said, "We didn't want to go with those strangers." Then he told us that we had better stop singing and flirting. So we did and all went on to have a nice time at the Rodeo. We were high school students at the time.

Another time, (about 1923) during the hot summer months, Arthur took me, my brother Gus, and sister Dora, on a camping trip to a beautiful cool place near Globe, Arizona. He always managed to have a car, and taught me and my brother Guss, how to drive; He had a hard time teaching me to shift gears, which I thought was quite complicated.

One night Arthur had a bad accident on his way home. A horse ran in front of his car, He was badly hurt. In the hospital the next morning they told us that one eye would have to be removed, as he had lost the sight in it. I wouldn't allow them to remove it until I sent to Phoenix for a specialist to come and check it. The specialist charged me a lot for the trip, but there was no way I would let them remove Arthur's eye if there was any way to save it. But, there was no way, and he did lose the sight in one eye. This was a sad time for all of us, especially for Arthur.

I remember him as being so faithful to Mother during the long illness she had before she died. I don't believe there was a day that he didn't go to see her. It has certainly enriched my life to have a brother like him, and I know he has been a faithful husband and father, too. But the memories I have of him, of course, are when we were young and all living at home. So because of my dear brother Arthur we all had a easier and happier life.
Dec. 1986

Gerald L. O'Barr's memories of Uncle Arthur and Aunt Ruby O'Barr

My memories of Uncle Arthur's family are mainly centered at the time when I was a kid back in the late 1940's and early '50's. At this time, Uncle Arthur and his family lived in Mesa, Arizona, on the South-East corner of Alma School Road and 4th Avenue. (4th Ave was then known as Creamery Road, and then as Broadway.) This corner was all part of the original O'Barr's "homestead." Their house faced 4th Ave, with a field actually located on the corner.

The Clevenger place faced Alma School road about one block south of 4th Ave, and I lived in a house more than a block East of Alma School Road on the South side of 4th Ave. We originally had about 4 acres. I assume that Uncle Arthur had about 8 acres. These acres were all watered by irrigation that arrived by canals and ditches. Our water arrived by a ditch along the south side of 4th Ave. and we had a large cottonwood tree in front of our house on the bank of this ditch. These ditches were not covered when I was a youth and they were great to play in whether they were dry or full of water.

Since Uncle Arthur's home was so close, there were at most only two or three homes between us, I spent a lot of time at their place. Since they had such a large family, I seemed to fit in as if they didn't even know that I was there. I got many a free haircuts at Aunt Ruby's. All I had to do was to stand in line just like the rest. I am sure that Aunt Ruby knew that I was not one of her's, my hair was not quite as red as the rest.

Uncle Arthur's place was much more developed than ours. I saw the beginnings of our home, a prefab wooden "room" placed on a few concrete blocks in the middle of a cotton field, with the stubble still in place. But Uncle Arthur's place had fully developed fig trees, and grape vines everywhere, and all other kinds of good things.

At one time Uncle Arthur allowed his kids to set up a store on their corner lot. They sold candy bars and soda pop. I'm sure that they sold more than this, but as a kid, I only noticed the important things.

I remember associating mainly with their oldest son, Joe, and oldest daughter, June, and next oldest daughter, Jeana. She was my age. I remember attending church firesides in their home. June, being older than I, was sometimes in charge, and she taught us some good songs. One I remember was:

  I know how ugly I are!  My face ain't no shinning star,

     But I don't mind it,  Because I'm behind it.

        It's you folks in front get the jar!

This was sung to the tune of "How Gentle God's Commands."

I remember that this was a happy family. There was much intelligence here. My cousin Joe was always keeping me busy with what was the newest and Jeana could always run circles around me in school. These were fun times.

Arthur and Me
Memories of Aunt Ida,
Recalled at the time of Arthur's death
July 24, 1978

From my earliest recollection Arthur and me were pals, seldom had a fight with each other. We stood together in everything and looked after each other. We shared things, too. We called the step-father of Dad's, Grandpa. He was good to me. He would slip me a piece of candy but said boys didn't need candy, so he wouldn't give them any. I'd share mine with Arthur.

Arthur had a funny little way about him. Where ever he went to sleep, he wanted to stay sleeping there. So we had to see that he was in his bed to go to sleep. If we would sit on the porch on summer evenings and he went to sleep, Dad or one of the bigger boys would carry him into bed. He'd get right up and go back and lay down where he had fallen asleep on the porch.

He fell asleep at a revival meeting once. Dad took us to one of these meetings. After awhile, Mom got tired and told Dad she wanted to go, the crowd's singing and shouting was getting louder and louder. So, we all left, Mom carried the baby and Dad carried Arthur, who had fallen asleep where we were sitting. We all got in the wagon, on quilts spread over straw in the bottom. Arthur was laid in and Dad went to untie the horses. He was climbing up on the seat next to Mom when I noticed, Arthur wasn't there. I called to Dad, "Arthur isn't here!" He gave the lines to Mother and ran back. Sure enough, Arthur was sleeping on the same bench, in the same place. Dad just got him out the door of the church when they all started shouting again, and jumping up and down and singing. Dad got Arthur to the wagon, got the lines, and the horses took off. Mother said she didn't think the spirit of God would make people act that way, Dad said she'd make a good Mormon.

After we joined the Church, only one other family joined. They lived about 25 miles away. So, after awhile we decided we'd leave. Dad's mother had two sisters who, with their families, had joined the Church in Alabama. They had gone to Mesa, Arizona. Dad got ready to come visit them and look into the country. Arthur wasn't feeling good when Dad left. The Elders had gone from the area and Arthur got worse. Mother called for a neighbor, who went after the doctor. Arthur had typhoid fever, he was very sick. Us children helped Mother all we could. He had a long siege of it, but got better and was able to sit up by the time Dad got home. He stayed thin and weak for a long time.

We made preparations to come to Mesa. Dad had rented a place in with one of his cousins, so we had a place to go. We landed in Mesa in January, 1904. The people in Arkansas didn't want us because we were Mormons. Out here, we started to school and found out the kids didn't want us, because we were 'Arkansaurs'. They teased us nearly to death. Made fun of our home-knit stockings and copper-tipped shoes. It made our school life quite miserable. We'd fight them like wildcats. They knew how to stand around and call you names, but they didn't know a thing about fighting. We'd let them tease us awhile, then we waded in. Hitting right and left with head, both hands and feet. We'd have some on the ground, some on the run. It wasn't long, though, till they called us to come play. Then we got along okay, and were always respected. It made a good life for us, to have friends. It's sort of wonderful to win respect and influence people.

We liked this old Arizona. The place we lived was just west of a new canal, called the Consolidated. No water was in the canal unless it rained and the Salt River was in flood. Across the canal was the desert. We were told not to go over there, for the desert was full of rattlesnakes. We didn't go for awhile, but Arthur and me were not afraid of much of anything. So, one day, we decided to take in the desert and away we went. We saw cactus, chaparral and mesquite trees.

Then, we saw a bunch of Indians on horse back. They had bows and arrows. They got closer to us and we could see blood on their horse's legs, and what looked like scalps, dangling down from their saddle backs. We hid under a big bunch of bushes, just scared to death. We knew we'd be scalped if they saw us. One Indian stopped his horse near where we were hiding, put an arrow in his bow and pulled the string. The arrow flew past us, the Indian running after it. He picked up a rabbit and tied it with some others. Then we could tell, it was rabbits, not human scalps tied to their saddles. He rode to catch up with the others. We made it as fast as we could run back across the canal. It was a long time before we told Mother about it.

Rattlers were plentiful out there. We found a big one in our barn one day, and killed it with rocks. Arthur got the pitchfork and stuck a tine through the snakes head. We took it across the canal to throw it away from the house and barns. We started back to the house and Arthur was slinging the pitchfork around, up and down, when a tine struck his leg, just above the ankle. We went in and told Mother. She looked at the fork and his leg, she was very scared. His ankle and leg were swelling fast. Dad was working at a place between us and Mesa, so we hitched up the buggy and Mom raced him to Dad. He was getting pretty sick so they took him on into town to a doctor. He said it was nearly as bad as a snake bite, but not as much poison. He disinfected it, cut in a little and let it bleed. He gave Arthur some medicine to take and some poultice for the leg. He began to feel better and in a few days was alright.

We rented another place south of Mesa. Then, Dad bought some acreage on what was called Creamery Road, [now Broadway] just west of the Creamery. We grew sweet potatoes, all kinds of vegetables, and had fruit trees set out and bearing. This is where we were living when Dad died. Arthur and me had a wonderful childhood. When we teamed up against a bunch of teasers, they better watch out! I'll miss him.

Memories of Daddy
Dianna O'Barr Quist

Daddy was 62-years-old when I was born. Old enough to be my great- grandfather. On the day I was born Daddy called into work and told his boss, Alfred Baker, that he had to take his wife to the hospital for a "minor operation". He had never mentioned that they were expecting a baby. The news made it to Mrs. Baker first, but Mr. Baker couldn't believe it without seeing it. The couple made a visit to our home to see if it was true.

Daddy worked for 20 or so years as a maintenance electrician at Williams Air Force Base. This after surveying the base during the construction, and helping to build it. He retired at age 70, when I was seven and a half, providing an opportunity for us to spend a lot of time together. I am grateful for this, since he died when I was 21, never knowing much of my adult life. Daddy enjoyed taking me to the bank or hardware store, where someone would always ask, "Is that your little grand-daughter?", "Nope, she's my daughter", he would proudly reply. We enjoyed bike riding, fishing in the big ditch on Extension Rd. and horse-back riding a few times at DeWitt's stables. When riding the horses he would tell me about a horse he had once named Chico. He rode Chico on a cattle round-up, I believe it was when the family lived in Cedar City, Utah. At the end of the round-up, Chico was either let go or got away somehow. He began running with a herd of wild horses. When he was tame, Daddy would call to him, "Here Chico, Chico", and he would come. Daddy found the herd a few weeks after Chico got away and called to him. The horse perked up his ears and came close, but something startled him and he ran off for good.

Even before I was born, Daddy liked to have a lot of fruit trees; apricot, orange, pecan and fig. He continued this, even after we moved from the corner of Alma School Road and Broadway to 451 N. Cherry St. [where I still live]. He always wanted his family to have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Today, my family helps me take care of several fruit trees he planted and many of us still enjoy the 'fruits' of his labors. It seems that his favorite fruit was fig and anything made out of figs; fig cake, dried figs and fig jam. My mother must have canned thousands of quarts of fig jam, much of it on a wood cook- stove. Aunt Ida wrote a story, at the time of Daddy's death, about how much he and she loved figs. I will relay it in her words.

We rented a place just south of Mesa. A neighbor there had a row of fig trees on a ditch bank. The big trees were loaded with figs and we sure liked them. The owner was a cranky fellow, he told us to let them alone. He bawled us out, if we touched one he'd chase us. He didn't pick any, wouldn't sell any.

They just fell on the ground, or into the ditch and the water would wash them away. We loved them raw, we loved the preserves Mother could make. But, this fellow wouldn't let us have a one, no way.

The Johnson grass had gotten pretty tall when the last crop of figs was right ripe to eat. So I told Arthur I knew a way we could get some figs. I told him to slip through the grass and climb the tree. I'd take buckets down to the bridge across the next road south, a half a mile down the ditch. Arthur said okay. He'd pick the figs and drop them into the ditch water. They floated down to me. I'd catch them out of the running water and put them in our buckets. We had a little wagon to haul them home. After he had picked a lot, he slipped out through the Johnson grass and came down to the bridge. We would lay some grass over our wagon and come right by the old fellow's house and fig trees. We'd say to Mom, "We've got some figs!", and she'd make the best preserves out of them. She thought the neighbor had given them to us, she would've blistered us if she had known the truth. We did this three or four times until Mother had put up all the jam she wanted that year. Maybe I shouldn't tell this one, but we never could believe we stole the figs. They were just falling in the ditch, on the ground drawing flies and going to waste.

Daddy's stories from his younger days always fascinated me. No one else's father had been born in the 1890's or done so many things. He went from the horse-and-buggy age to the rocket-age. He was a real wild-west cowboy, a farmer, a WWI soldier and a mule-skinner.

He helped his father and older brothers haul wagon loads of their fresh produce up to the construction of Roosevelt Dam, to sell to the workers there. He then got a job driving mule teams pulling wagons full of other supplies to the site, and eventually helped with some of the actual construction of the dam. During this time he would stay in a work camp near the river. Early in the morning, the path leading from the camp site to the work site, would be crawling with tarantulas. He would step on all he could, until a large one jumped up on his pant leg and began to crawl up. He decided to give the spiders the right-of-way from then on and didn't step on any more.

When the dam was completed, President Roosevelt came to town to dedicate it. There was a big parade planned as his motorcade passed through town. Never one to miss a parade, Daddy bought a new suit for the occasion. He went to the parade and saw a photographer setting up his equipment. He positioned himself across the street from the camera so when the picture of the president was snapped, he would be in the background. That picture can be found in at least two editions of the book, 'Our Town--Mesa, Arizona'.

He worked at the dam again, a few years later, learning to be an electrician. He helped erect the big towers that carry power from the dam northward. He climbed a utility pole in a storm once, as it swayed back and forth in the wind, he decided he didn't want to be a lineman anymore. My nephew, Mark O'Barr [Joe's son], worked on the reconstruction of the same dam about five years ago. In a room beneath the dam, he found the signatures of many men who had worked at the dam long ago, including his grandpa's. It read, B.A. O'Barr, July 4, 1922.

Daddy and his friend, Del Stapley [who later became an apostle], built probably the first 'hot rod' Mesa ever had. We have a picture of Daddy sitting in it. When I was about 10, Elder Stapley was visiting our Stake Conference. He saw Daddy, Mom and I come in and sit down. He got up and came down from the stand and shook our hands. It was the first time I ever heard anyone call Daddy, "Red".

When the family went to St. George, Utah, Grandma asked Daddy to stand as proxy for his Father's temple work to be done and for the family to be sealed. He grumbled a bit at first but agreed, after Grandma convinced him of the importance of the work. He had been deeply affected by his father's death and this came as a great honor and comfort to him.

After the family returned to Arizona, he and his brother, Lewis, planted crops. Lewis was going to return to Cedar City, as soon as his crop was harvested, and marry a girl he had met there. But, Lewis became ill, after drinking irrigation water, and died. Daddy then worked both crops. It was at this time that he was invited to join the army. World War I was going strong and more soldiers were needed. Daddy didn't want to go before harvest, but Uncle Sam had other plans for him. Someone was sent right out to the field to escort him to duty. He was stationed at Fort Rosecrans, CA. I have never learned what happened to the crops.

A flu epidemic among the soldiers kept Daddy from being shipped overseas. He was in the hospital on the day he was supposed to leave. He did have an opportunity to serve sentry duty along the California coast. It seemed to him hours on end he watched the sea. He carried a rifle that had not been fired since training. One day, boredom got the best of him. When a big pelican landed on a rock down the shoreline aways, he couldn't resist, he aimed the rifle and fired. Too late, he remembered he was not to shoot unless it was an emergency. Three shots meant there was a fire. He quickly fired two more shots and set the brush on fire, putting it out almost immediately.

Daddy had a terrible accident one night. A horse ran out in front of his car and he hit it, throwing it up onto the windshield. Shattered glass flew everywhere, some of it into Daddy's eye. The doctor had to remove the eye. While he was recovering from this accident, at his mother's house, he met my mother. She had become friends with Aunt Lola at school, and had come to visit her. Mom must have found him quite dashing in his black eye patch.

Daddy took good care of his health, with all the fresh fruit and vegetables he grew. He had Mom cook him fresh cracked-wheat cereal, with honey and milk, for breakfast everyday. He would crack the wheat in a hand grinder. He ate very little candy, but his favorites were candy corn and Big Hunk candy bars. He would never eat chocolate, peeling the coating off of Dilly Bars, to eat only the ice cream. If I begged long enough, he would finally give the coating to me, but lecture me about how bad it was for me.

Daddy faithfully fulfilled all of his church callings and duties. I remember that he took Grandma to the temple, every Friday night, for as long as she was able. He continued to attend the temple often, even after Grandma was gone. He had a dream once that he was walking in a grove of trees. He came to a clearing where there was a large, beautiful meadow. There was a large group of men gathered there. One of the men saw him walk up and began calling to the others, "O'Barr's here, Brother O'Barr's here!" The men all ran towards him and began shaking his hand, thanking him. Amazed, he asked them, "Who are you? I don't know you. What did I do for you?" "Why, we're the men whose names you took through the temple."

He greatly enjoyed the calling of High Priest Group Secretary. He went Home teaching every month, up until about six months before his death. I am so thankful for these examples that he set for me and thankful that he was my father.

An incident that occurred when my parents had five young children, let Mom know that the Lord truly does hear and answer prayers. Daddy had a job, through the WPA, surveying the streets of Mesa for paving. One day a man walked up to him on the street and offered him a surveying job at Castle Dome mine. It would pay $50.00 a week, compared to $12.50 every two weeks. He took the job. He would be gone all week long and come home on weekends. Mom single-handedly took care of the children, the milking, irrigating, the chickens and picking and preserving fruit. Though they were enjoying the much needed income, Mom began to get very tired doing all of this work alone, plus, hauling water and chopping wood for cooking. One day, Mom prayed very hard that Daddy would find a job closer to home. Late that afternoon, Daddy came pulling into the driveway. He said that he had gotten along well with his boss until that very day. His boss awoke that morning in a bad mood and had fired him for no reason. He soon had a new job, surveying Williams Field. That job led to him being hired as a maintenance electrician at the base, where he worked until his retirement.

Typed copy of letter received by Lola May Peppers when Arthur was honorably discharged from WW I. (Dianna Quist and Aunt Ruby sent a copy of the original form. Signature was not totally readable.)


                          (Organization)  BTRY E 25th ARTY CAL
                          (Place)         Fort Rosecrans, CAL
                          (Date)          DEC 13, 1918

  Mrs. L.M. Clevenger
  Mesa, Ariz.        
  My dear (Mr. or Mrs.) Clevenger:
     In a few days your soldier will receive his honorable
  discharge and start for home.
     He is bringing back many fine qualities of body and
  mind which he has acquired or developed in the Military
  Service.  The Army has done everything it could do to make
  him strong, fine, self-reliant, yet self-controlled.  It
  returns him to you a better man.
     You have been an important member of that great Army of
  Encouragement and Enthusiasm which helped to make him and us
  all better soldiers.  You can now be a great help in keeping
  alive the good qualities he is bringing back from the Army,
  in making him as good a citizen as he has been a good
     His fare and necessary expenses to his home will be
  paid by the Government.  He will receive all pay due him. 
  He may, if he wishes, wear his uniform for three months from
  the date of his discharge.  The Government will also allow
  him to keep up, for the benefit of his family, his insurance
  at the very low rate he is now paying.
     His return to civil life will bring new problems for
  you both to solve.  The qualities he brings back will help
  you now as your encouragement helped him while he was away,
  and in your hands and his, rests the future of our country.
     As his commanding Officer, I am proud of him.  He has
  done his duty well.  I, and his comrades, will bid him good-
  bye with deep regret, and wish him every success after he
  returns home  -  that spot in every man's heart no other
  place can fill.
                      Sincerely yours,
                           (Signature) Ralph H. Enchols
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