A Brief History of the Life of Thomas Elmer Hunt

as told by him to members of his family
Thomas Elmer Hunt was born December 17, 1882, at Rabbit Valley, near Thurber, Wayne County, Utah. He was the fifth child in a family of nine children: three boys and six girls. His parents were Jefferson Hunt and Celestia Terry Hunt.

Jefferson and Celestia were married Oct. 10, 1871, and lived at Hebron, Washington County, Utah. Their first four children, Effie, George, Tacy and Mary Ann were born there. They then moved to Cannonville, Garfield County, Utah. After a severe winter there, which caused the loss of nearly all of their cattle, they moved back to Hebron. About 1881, they moved to Rabbit Valley where Thomas Elmer was born. They were only there about a year or two when they moved back to Hebron to find a grazing place for their cattle. One more daughter was born at Hebron, named Elva. Also their last three children, Amos, Geneva, and Amanda.

The family home in Hebron was a three room brick house. Here the family lived and went through the hardships of this small pioneer town. During the summers they lived at the Calf Spring Ranch in a one room log house. The water spring there was boxed up about two feet above the ground. This was where they got their drinking water. Elmer's father rented Bennett Bracken's cattle and cared for them on this ranch, by so doing he obtained another start of cattle. After selling the Calf Spring Ranch they lived at the Terry Ranch during the summer for a few years.

Elmer hauled lumber from Grass Valley and Pine Valley to Pioche when he was but eight years old. He had his own team and wagon to operate. He also freighted merchandise from Milford to Pioche when nine years old. There was no railroad at this time further west than Milford.

On a cold winter day March 6, 1891, Elmer was baptized by George Laub. A creek that came down the canyon was scooped out into a big hole in one place and used for baptizing. On this day it was frozen over, the ice was broken and Elmer was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As a boy Elmer experienced some frightening moments with the Indians. One day when he and a group of his cousins were in swimming in a pond they looked down the road and spied a band of Indians coming up the road toward them.There were about 25 Indians in the group. The boys were really frightened, even though the Indians were friendly, they didn't know it. They grabbed their clothes from the bushes and fled up the ravine and hid behind the bushes until the Indians had passed by.

Another time, before Walter Bowler's ranch was fenced and it was all covered with brush, Elmer and his cousins saw Indians coming as they were taking the cows home to Hebron. It hadn't been too many years before that the Indians had been hostile. The boys were still afraid of them from that time. These two Indians were friendly and were coming over to talk to the boys but they had run and hid. They had a dog with them who kept wanting to bark. They talked to the dog and almost held their breath for fear he would bark and give them away. They were greatly relieved when the Indians passed by.

Elmer's father took squatters rights on the High Burgess Spring Ranch up toward the Enterprise reservoir, where they cleared seven or eight acres and raised corn. Elmer would walk up every day from Hebron to water the corn, a distance of about two and one half miles. As their pasture was scarce they turned their horses out to graze on the end of Flat Top Mountain during the nights. Elmer and his brother Amos had them to get every morning. They had no shoes and their feet got so hard and calloused that when they would stub their toe the sparks would fly.

It was about this time that Elmer had an accident. He tells how he used to play around a ledge of rock on the east side of the canyon about 2 miles south of Hebron. One day while playing there he fell off the ledge and broke his ankle.

The first day of May 1893 Elmer's Mother died, he was but 10 years old. After her death his father and the three boys spent most of their time in Delamar, Nevada (freighting). The girls of the family remained in Hebron. Effie became one of the first telegraph operators.

The celebrations for July 24th in Hebron were ushered in with serenaders or a string band, on a wagon with two gunners on the rear, who shot a shot after each tune that was played at each home. The little bay team belonging to Elmer's Father was used each year to pull the serenading group. They would stand and prance until the gun went off then they would take off for the next stop. After each number on the program in the 10 o'clock meeting the gun was fired also.

Elmer attended school at Hebron. All the classes met in one room under one teacher. About every fifteen minutes classes would change and those who weren't being instructed would study. His teachers were Zera Terry, James S. P. Bowler, Will Shopman, and Mary Ward. He completed the 7th grade and part of the 8th.

He worked at Delamar hauling lumber until he was about 17, then freighted from Modena, Utah to St. George, Utah.

When about 20 he went north to Peoa, Utah where his sister Tacy and her husband Seth Barnum lived. He found a job on a ranch at Echo Canyon where he worked putting up hay, for two years for one dollar day. He and another fellow would pitch off a load of hay, in five minutes. One day as they were coming in with part of a load of hay, basket type rack, a small hurricane came up and took the rack off the wagon up side down without loosing hardly any hay.

The last winter he was there he went to Woodruff and it was in this country that President Woodruff camped under a tree and was prompted to move his team and wagon.

Soon after he did so the tree blew over. While here at Woodruff, Elmer received a very bad sprain in his right ankle from a horse falling on him. During the time he worked up north he found a girl named Eleanor Reese, whom he fell in love with, or al least he thought he did. On his way back home to Enterprise he bought a stove and bed expecting to go back soon and marry her and bring her to Enterprise to live. But the girls mother would not let her daughter move so far away from her so the marriage never took place.

Elmer returned to Enterprise, Utah which was just being settled. Here he worked on the canal which was to carry the water from the reservoir into the valley. The first winter after coming back to Enterprise, Arthur Huntsman, Emery Huntsman, Walter Bowler, Ralph Hunt and Elmer went out on Hogs Back Mountain on foot and caught some mustang horses that they had never been able to catch before.

Orson W. Huntsman filed on 30 acres of desert land in 1891. This is where Enterprise now lies and sold lots to anyone who wished to settle. Elmer bought his present lot, which was one fourth of a block, for $10.00 in 1905 while he was yet a single man. Emma Day and her friend Tilly Winsor walked past this lot which was high with rabbit brush and never thought that some day she would live there.

It was at a town dance held in the little red brick church, that he and a few of his friends standing together decided they would go and ask a few girls standing on the other side of the hall to dance. He picked out Emma Day to be his partner.

Elmer went to work out on the Railroad for some time. He and Emma wrote letters to each other during this period of time. Those letters are still available in the family.

One fall evening Elmer went down to the Pratt Canfield home and got Emma Day to go to the school dance with him. This led to a continuous courtship. Elmer and Emma were married September 11, 1908 in the St. George Temple. The wedding party went to Dixie several days before the wedding and attended the Washington County Fair. On their way to Dixie, they stayed over night at the Cottom Ranch which is located 8 miles south of Veyo. While in Dixie they stayed at the home of Tilly Winsor who was a good friend of Emma's.

For several months after they were married they lived with Elmer's father, Jefferson Hunt and his second wife Aunt Rose. In the spring of 1909 they went to Modena and lived in a tent where Elmer sacked wool for Will Hall. B.J. Lund and Company would sheer 100,000 head of sheep for all the sheep men around this part of the country. They hired hands to do this work every spring.

The summer of 1909 Elmer and Emma went up to work on the Dam that was being built for the Enterprise Reservoir. They pitched their tent by the honeycomb rocks. They spent from May to September working on the dam for the large reservoir. There were many families living there that summer. On Sunday the group would hold church among the white rocks. Whenever Apostle Anthony W. Ivins, who held a very important interest in this Dam and also owned stock in the reservoir, came down from Salt Lake he would meet with them in their meetings and their evening camp fire programs. In the evenings the group would all gather around the camp fire while Milo Canfield would play the guitar and everyone would sing.

Elmer always had a good team of horses. He seemed to have a good way with animals. While working on the dam of the large reservoir, his team was used on a large derrick which hoisted the large rock up and set them in place. NO other team could do this like his. When they had the cable fastened on the rock, then the horses were to pull it up to the height of the dam, then back up slowly while the derrick was rotated and the rock put exactly in place. The horses had to be of the right temperament and easily controlled. This team was the best there was there.

In the fall of 1909 Elmer had Johnny Jones and Frank Winsor built a one room home on his lot. This room is now the living room of their present home.

On November 21, 1909 this union was blessed with their first child, a daughter who they named Ollie Philena. Emma stayed at her father, John Day's home for several weeks during this time.

In 1910, at the time the cement block church building was being built, Elmer hauled lumber from Parowan, Utah and cement from Modena, NV to help with the completion of this church house.
The summer of 1911 Elmer and Emma homesteaded some land up the canyon about 10 miles west of Enterprise. They staked out 120 acres, paid the fees, built a one room cabin out of railroad ties and moved in. Through long hard work and much patience they developed a small meadow ranch. Then on October 21, 1911 a second daughter was born to this union. They named her Geneva.

They acquired a nice herd of cattle and a permit right on the Dixie National Forest. They raised grass hay on the meadow ground, and grain and corn on the higher ground, which was mostly dry land. Elmer milked about 15 head of milk cows night and morning and shipped cream. He also had a field of alfalfa in Enterprise which he cared for during the summertime. He would get up early in the morning, milk his cows, then ride horse back the ten miles to town, water the hay or harvest it, then ride back to the ranch at night and milk the cows. At one time while thrashing a board broke on the thrasher and hit him on the leg and chin, cutting a piece of flesh off clear to the bone.

During the summer of 1913, Emma moved back to Enterprise because she was expecting their third child. On 15 Sep 1913 their first son was born to them. They named him Clair.

This schedule of living in town in the winter and to the ranch in the summer continued for several years. During this time of moving back and forth there were six more sons born to them; Elwin, Ellis, William, Floyd and Ivin.

On 3 June 1926 Emma's stepmother Aunt Sarah, passed away leaving her father alone. In 1927 and 1928 the family left their little one room home and moved to Grandfather John Day's home to care for him. It was while there that Preston was born. In 1929 Grandfather Day went to live with his son's and the family moved back to their home. That fall Elmer bought a three roomed house and back porch down on the desert. They jacked it up and put large timbers with wagon's under it and with his horses moved it to Enterprise and put it close to their one room home. This was very much needed with the large family they had.

As the family grew older and the boys became old enough to help at the ranch, they would milk cows, pack water with buckets in each hand from the spring on the north side of the meadow, haul the grass hay, hoe mouse ear weeds out of the corn and etc. When the family stayed at the ranch, they had beds made out under the cedar trees and slept there. Boxes, wrapped in burlap and kept wet, were hung in the cedar trees as coolers for milk and butter. A well was dug for water and many times the milk was lowered down in it so that it would stay cold. Each spring this well would need to be cleaned out and allow fresh water to come in. A "Dela Valve" cream separator was obtained for separating the cream out of the milk. This was placed in the leanto porch adjoining the house which was also used as a bedroom for family members. A cellar was dug east of the house and food supplies were kept there.

On 23 March 1933 a little baby girl was born. They named her Larilla. It was a sad day when this little one passed away just five weeks later, on 2 May 1933 with Spinal Meningitis.

It was on 20 April 1934 that the eleventh and last child was born to this noble union, a son, they named Lorraine.

Elmer was a hard worker and cared for the ranch, cattle and the farm 3 miles out from town until 1956. His eye sight had been gradually failing and now had become so bad that something had to be done. In March he went to Salt Lake to see the eye specialist. On March 23, 1956 he was operated on having a cataract removed from one eye, the other one was to far gone to have anything done for it. He now had good sight in the one eye.

It was a sad day when World War II broke out in 1951. During this conflict he saw five of his son's drafted into the Service of their country. Elwin, Ellis, William (Bill), Floyd and Ivin. He never said much, but he was proud of his country and that he had son's that were able to defend it. He and Emma were proud to have a banner in their front window with 5 stars on it. A lot of faith and prayers were exercised during those years. It was a great day when all five of them returned home safe and sound. During the Korean War, Preston served four years in the Air Force and later Lorraine served in the National Guard.

Elmer was a man that never said much, but when he did it was worth listening to and one ought to follow his advice. It can truthfully be said that Elmer set the proper example for his children to follow. He has always kept the Word of Wisdom strictly, has never used a swear word or bad language, nor ever told a falsehood about anyone. He was one to never complain no matter how rough the going. He was always loyal to the church. He served in the Elders Quorum Presidency of the Enterprise Ward with Amos Holt as President. He came up through the offices of the Aaronic Priesthood, received the Melchizedek Priesthood and was ordained an Elder and High Priest. He was asked frequently to give prayers in meetings. He seemed to have a gift in talking to his Father in Heaven. He was one who never liked to make a big show or be on the front line, but one who was dedicated to the right and to the Gospel. During the eleven years that his wife, Emma, was President of the Relief Society he gave her his constant support, always keeping everything well under hand at home as good as any woman. He was a good baby tender. In the evenings you could find him in his favorite rocking chair by the stove, rocking and singing with one or two of the children on his lap. Some of his favorite songs that the children would love to hear him sing were, Red Wing, Red River Valley, the Letter Edged in Black, and Tell Her I'm a Soldier.

During his earlier years Elmer took the leading part in many of the dramas presented by the people of Enterprise. One of the most important one was "Black Canyon". Emma played the part of his sweetheart in this play. There were many others which he acted in.

Elmer was a good dancer. He and Emma made a great dance couple and were very smooth on the dance floor. Music seemed to tickle his feet. When the old string band would strike up it would only be a matter of minutes until he would be on the dance floor.

He kept a milk cow just as long as he could walk to and from the corral. He loved to have something to do. He always said that when people didn't have anything to do, that was when they died.

As he grew older his ankle, that he had sprained and injured so many times, bothered him so much that it was hard for him to get around. His favorite place was in his rocker with his feet crossed, possibly to help ease the pain in his ankle.

In 1964 Elmer didn't feel well and it was decided that he would go to Salt Lake and have a good physical examination. Preston and family were living there at this time. It was determined that his Aorta was enlarged and he had a prostate problem. He hesitated, but decided to have a prostate operation. He went through the operation all right, but during recovery that night, he had a stroke.

This was devastating for all. He left the LDS hospital a few days later and went to Preston's home. He couldn't talk or get out of bed. Through our talking to him and his eye movement we could tell that what he wanted most of all was to be home. After Christmas was over with, it was decided that his family would try to move him. Bill brought his station wagon and we fixed a bed in it so he could be taken to the place he loved most - home. He was there only a day when it was determined that he needed to be taken to St. George Hospital where he died on 4 January 1965. This giant of a man was laid to rest in the Enterprise Cemetery on 7 January 1965, leaving a great posterity to follow after him. It is hoped that they will catch the glimpse of what he was and what he stood for and the sacrifices he and our Mother went through and gave to each of us.

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