Chapter 9: Dora O'Barr Smith
The Augustus Barto O'Barr and Lola May Peppers Family
HTML Version 2.0
copyright 1995 by Gerald L. O'Barr
There are two sections, the
was written in October 1995 by Dora's
sister, Lola Frances Clevenger White. The
second section, written
by Dora's granddaughter, Sandra Sue Smith Power, daughter of George Lewis
Section 1. (By Lola Frances Clevenger White)
Will try as best I can to write a little about my Sister, Dora O'Barr Smith. Dora was
born 13 Aug 1900, in Atkins, Polk County, Ark. She married George W. Smith 18 Jan
1920. Dora was baptized 3 Aug 1909, endowed 24 June 1964 (I believe Ida did this for
her), sealed to parents 29 Apr 1915, St. George Temple. I do not know the date of
sealing to her husband.
Dora moved with her family to Mesa, Arizona, when she was four years old. She had (at this time) five brothers: Frank, Joe, Arthur, Lewis and Parley, and one sister Ida. There was a baby born back in 1895, a brother John William, that only lived 11 months. The family made the choice to join the Mormon Church 21 June 1899. There were no Mormons living in Atkins, and the persecution was bad, so somewhere about 1904 the family made the move to Mesa where her father had relatives.
They came by train, the whole family, suitcases, boxes, trunks, and feather beds, so I was told. Dora's father was a very industrious man, made a good living for his family. He sold fruit trees and farmed. Soon he had a home and some acreage for his family. In February, 1905, another child was born, Bertha Ann. She only lived 14 months. The following December 24 (1906), Alice Anette was born. Three years later, 21 Dec 1909, Augustus Barto (Gus) was born. The family was very happy and doing real well financially and in the church also.
The worst tragedy that could ever happen to a family, Dora's dear father passed away after a short illness. 6 Mar 1910. Dora was nine years old, her baby brother was only 3 months old. I can just imagine how lonely and afraid this dear family must have been, Ida was the only one married, she married John Verney 28 Mar 1909.
The children helped Mother all they could, they did the best they could. Dora being the only girl besides Alice, and the oldest girl, her duties were many. She had to work very hard taking care of her little brother and sister, while Mother worked where ever she could, doing washing, ironing and house work for other people.
Mother had a few men interested in her and her big family. She met Andrew Benton Clevenger and they were married 23 Jan 1913. Mother was 39 years old, my Father was about 60 years old. My Father was a strong man, already quite grey haired and mustached, very handsome. Much different in looks than Brother O'Barr. Brother O'Barr being with dark hair and black mustache, and dark brown eyes.
Dear Dora was 13 years old, still being big sister to a large family. About a year and 2 months later, Mother gave birth to a baby girl, Ruth, on 31 Mar 1914. Ruth only lived a few hours. Dora was almost 14 now, her duties were hard helping Mother through these trying times.
My Father had been to the Temple a few years before he and Mother were married. Mother wanted to go so very bad, as the children were getting older. My father said he would help her every way he could, but with such a large family and very little money, how could they? Mother decided to sell her homestead and rent the home and acreage out for two years, so they did. They found two other families wanting to go: The Kayes and Merril families. So they bought a good wagon, a new buggy and pony, and three families started to St. George, Utah.
It was a long, tedious trip. Dora kept a diary the whole trip. But somehow the diary got lost years later, and we have nothing about their trip. I believe it took 6 weeks, break downs, sickness and such. One of Dad's mares that pulled the wagon was with colt. She had her babies several months early, the heavy load and the colts were twins, so she lost them. They had to wait for her to recuperate.
April of 1915, they went through the St. George Temple. Arthur was 21 years old, so he had to take out his own endowment, before being sealed to Mother and his Father. Mother's two step sons by Bro. O'Barr was not with them. Somewhere in Utah the children went to school and Dora went to College. She was so smart, only 15 or 16 and in College.
Not finding anything in St. George that Dad could make a living at, they spent some time in Cedar City. This was where I was born, 1 April 1916. Dad heard of land to rent in Laveen, Arizona, so wanted to come back to Arizona and put in a cotton crop. So the family moved to Laveen as the home was still rented.
They moved an old house onto the rented property, and with all the family helping, put in a cotton crop. They hauled drinking water, but used the ditch water for bathing, dish washing and such. Our dear Dora and her brother three years older than her, Lewis, got Typhoid Fever. They were so terribly ill. Dora had such a high fever for days, it seemed for sure they were going to loose her. Her dear brother Lewis did die. This was so hard on the whole family, Dora especially as she and Lewis went every place together and were like twins.
They made a good cotton crop and moved back to the home place. Dora was seventeen now. I must add right here, she was so sweet and kind to all the children, and in her family, she was loved by everyone. She was just as beautiful as she was sweet, with dark hair and brown eyes like her Father.
The boys began to come around, many of them as she was so beautiful. My Dad even ran some of them off, with his gun in his hand. He loved Dora very much, and wanted her to make good choices for her friends. Dora was about nineteen when George Smith began coming calling on our beautiful Dora. I was four years old. George always brought a box of candy, so I told my sister to always go with sweet George as he always brought chocolate candy. I might add he wasn't the only one to bring her chocolates. As a little child I can remember chocolate boxes stacked in her bedroom almost reaching to the ceiling. It was a big fad in those days to win "Kewpie" dolls at the carnivals for your girl. She had many of these also.
On the 18 January 1920 she married George Smith. I can remember how my little heart almost broke to have my sister move away. Dora stayed till Mother had her last child, Ernest, born Dec 25, 1919. He wasn't quite a month old when Dora was married. About a year latter I believe it was on New Years Day her first child was born. She named him Lewis after her dear brother she had lost. In about a year or a little over her second child was born, Jack. They lived a few miles from us, but Gus and I got to ride our bicycles to her house a few times, before George got a job on the border, as a patrol officer, and they moved to the border.
Their little boys grew up talking Mexican before they talked English plain. We always looked forward to every August when Dora and George took a month off. Dora and the children always stayed with us, George in Tempe where all the Smiths and his Father lived. We had wonderful times together. Dora loved to bake cakes we enjoyed so very much. I can almost taste those three layer chocolate cakes, with walnuts on top. The spice cakes with maple icing and pecans on top.
Our dear sister Alice graduated from teacher's college and spent two years on the border living with Dora and George one and a half years. They got transferred at Christmas time, so the last half year Alice lived in the school house. She taught Lewis and Jack in school and had many wild experiences while living on the border, especially while living alone in the school house.
Dora and George soon moved to Douglas where both Lewis and Jack graduated from High School. Both boys stayed with their Aunt Marg Smith in Tempe and graduated from Tempe College. They came to Mesa many times to visit us. Lewis graduated with a teaching degree. Jack went to the service two years, and got a job as a border patrol officer. His Father, George, had retired and he and Dora were now living in Gilbert where they had purchased 40 acres and a small lumber house.
I was married, my husband was a building Contractor, Ezra Geddis White. They hired him to remodel the little lumber home and make it real nice. It was so good to have Dora where we could visit her often. She always came two or three times a week to visit Mother.
Alice had married Ted Sliger, they had built the Buckhorn Mineral Bath, seven miles East of Mesa. Dora, Ida, Mother and I went many times and had mineral baths, picked up Alice and all went to lunch together. Ida and Dora went many times without me as I was working. Mother did love these times with her daughters.
Lewis got married and had two little girls. His wife, Lila and he had problems. Lila and the two little girls came to live with Dora for awhile, even though Lewis was accusing her falsely of seeing a man friend. My dear sister Dora befriended her. This shows what a wonderful person she was. She didn't go against Lewis, neither did she turn Lila away, and her two little girls. This was my sister Dora. I never heard her say one harmful word about anyone in my life.
George got a part time job with Tovrea Meat Packing Co. as a Cattle Detective, out on the ranches where they raised their cattle. Much poaching was going on and they needed him.
Dora wasn't feeling real well one day and went to the Doctor, a rare thing for her, as she was seldom ill. She told him she got very tired easy. They made a cardiogram of her heart and found it greatly enlarged. The Doctor asked her if she had ever had a high fever for any length of time. She remembered back in 1917 when she was so ill with Typhoid Fever.
Somewhere around a year after this, Dora got up with her chest hurting. She called this same Doctor. He could see her at one o'clock. She baked a cake, fixed her evening meal, called Mother and said, I will be by to see you when I get out of the doctor's office. She also called Ida and told her, she would be by and pick her up after she got out of the Doctor's office and they would go visit Mother.
Ida waited, Mother waited. About four o'clock George called Ida. He had come home about three o'clock and found Dora dead. She was sitting in her big chair in the living room. She was in her slip with one hose on and one in her lap. Bathed, her hair combed so pretty in a french roll, just laid her head back on her chair and was gone.
George did not know she had ever been to the doctor. He had to look in her check book to find the Doctor to sign her death certificate. They called me and together we went to Mother to give her the sad news. This was 8 May 1963, one of the saddest days of my life.
The funeral was in Meldrum's Mortuary, May the 10th I believe. She was buried in Nogales, Arizona, the next day, where Jack was working on the Border Patrol, and George planned to live. Not only did I lose my dear sister, I also lost one of my best friends.
Section 2. (By granddaughter Sandra Sue Smith)
Since Grandma Dodo died when I was only thirteen, I didn't
have many years to make memories with her. Not knowing her better
and not having the opportunity to learn from her are two things I
will always regret. I know she would have made even more of an
impact on my life than she did.
I remember driving up the driveway in Chandler (Chandler and Gilbert border each other) to the little white house surrounded by lush green fields of corn, alfalfa, or whatever the crop might be. A tall, heavy set woman with happy, loving brown eyes, and a big hug would meet us at the door. She was the stereotypical grand- mother from her actions to her appearance. I never felt so excited, warm, and loved as I did when we went to Grandma and Grandpa's.
The aroma of food cooking or something baking greeted us before we even went in the house. She loved to cook and always had enough food in the refrigerator and the freezer to have fed ten unexpected guests if they had dropped in. She fixed the ultimate best fried chicken EVER, and her lemon meringue pies were picture perfect and delicious. She generously dished out candy and sweets (which we didn't get much of at home.) There was always ice cream with Hershey's syrup. I ate enough once that I got sick, and I haven't been an ice cream fan since.
It seems like Grandma never threw anything away. Their house was cozy, welcoming, and FULL - magazines, knick-knacks, and pictures everywhere. There were patchwork quilts, and delicate crocheted doilies, tablecloths, and pillows that she had made. There were handmade dolls and doll clothes. I treasure the few of these mementoes I still have, made by the skillful hands of the grandmother who didn't get the chance to teach these skills to me.
Grandma was interested in the work of Dr. Steinke, a professor at ASU, who was studying scorpions and milking them for their venom to make the anti-toxin. When we knew we were going to see grandma, we kids would go out and catch dozens of scorpions in jars and take them with Grandma to ASU. I remember how impressed I was watching them milk the scorpions.
Grandma loved to spoil us. My mom and I both recall one of her most frequently used lines, "Oh, Lila, it won't hurt them...." She used to take us to a pool (I think it was called Tempe Beach) and sit patiently in the sweltering Tempe summer sun while we paddled around in the pool. Once I wanted to ride the big, black horse Grandpa had for us, and I didn't want to wait until Grandpa got home to saddle him. Of course, Grandma let me talk her into trying to saddle him, and because neither of us were strong enough to tighten the cinch, I ended up on the ground under the horse's belly with the saddle. I waited to ride.
Grandma was a very thrifty woman. She and Grandpa raised their own vegetables along with chickens, turkeys, and beef. I remember collecting eggs with her and trying to learn to tell the good eggs from the ones that stayed in the nest. I recall, more times than once, playing in the barn in the hay and having to go in and explain how I ended up in some poor old hen's nest.
I heard this story from my mother: In the early 1950's when Grandpa was a custom's official, Grandma and Grandpa lived in Nogales in the custom's house. One day some custom's officials came to the house on routine business, and one of the men came in and asked Grandma who planted the plants around the outside of the house. Grandma proudly said that she had done it. He then informed her that she should consider planting some other plants in the yard. It just didn't look good to have marijuana plants growing all around the custom's house! Pretty embarrassing.
Poor Grandma. It must be Murphy's law that most stories we remember about people are the embarrassing ones! Once when my cousin, Steve, was about five he found Grandma with a facial mudpack on. He asked her what she was doing, and she said, "I'm making myself beautiful for you, Steve." Later when the mudpack came off, Steve walked up to inspect the results. With a child's honesty, he blurted out, "It didn't work, did it, Grandma?"