Health and Sickness

Douglas D. Alder, “Health and Sickness,” in Dixie Saints: Laborers in the Field, ed. Douglas D. Alder (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2017), 151-186.


In the early twentieth century, people who lived in southern Utah, nearby southern Nevada, and northern Arizona had to cope with heat, and they did it with moderate success. The one thing they could not control with hard labor was sickness. They did not know what later generations discovered about how illness spreads, and they had few medications and very limited health care. When the Mormons arrived in southern Utah, they encountered American Indians, especially the Paiutes, who the Mormons often turned to for help with herbs. Even though the Mormons lived in villages, they had no access to doctors. Eventually a few professional doctors set up practice in the larger population centers, mainly St. George and Hurricane; for instance, a private hospital with two doctors and ten beds was established in St. George about 1912. Mostly the people had to rely on their own resources, as the stories in this chapter detail.

Herbal medicine was the mainstay. The tradition of Thomsonian doctors in nineteenth-century United States traveled with the many settlers to the West. These herbalists were medical practitioners who gained their knowledge from traditions and a book, New Guide to Health, written by a Samuel Thomson (1769–1843) from New Hampshire, detailing his herbal remedies. They did not attend medical schools; instead, they obtained copies of his book and got a certificate from him. In Utah, Thomsonian practitioners were initially favored over so-called surgeons, who did go to medical school, perhaps because one of their treatments was to draw blood from the body in large amounts, based on the hypothesis that disease was spread through the body by circulating blood. Thomsonians treated illnesses with herbs; they did not cut into the body. Brigham Young, for instance, favored the herbal doctors over surgeons. However, by the early twentieth century, doctors practicing a modern version of medicine were gaining more respect, partly because more advanced medical schools in that field had been established.

In between these two practitioner traditions were midwives, best known for helping in the delivery of babies, but people often turned to them for help with illnesses. Later in the 1900s, some public schools employed nurses, and they often served whole communities, especially in attempting to limit the spread of communicable diseases.

The other theme in this chapter is the story of coping with health problems by turning to religion. A common practice among Latter-day Saints was to have elders give blessings to those who were ill. This was often done by the fathers because they held the priesthood. Sometimes a bishop or elders were sent for to give that blessing. On rare occasions, if no priesthood bearers were available, women gave blessings.

An interesting scholar who dealt with this subject of pioneer health was Dr. Wesley P. Larsen. Following a career as the dean of science at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, he retired to Toquerville, Utah, and devoted himself to studying various aspects of “the history of southern Utah, northern Arizona and eastern Nevada,”[1] such as Thomsonian doctors and local Indian medications. In his book Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, he stressed the Mormon pioneer distrust of surgeons, quoting a Deseret News article from 1855 titled “Let the Doctors Alone.”[2] He then gives a short biography of Samuel Thomson and his impact on American medicine in the 1800s:

Thompson [sic] made a successful cure for his wife in the difficult birth of their third child. About this same time, Thompson tested the emetic Lobelia again, this time on a farm laborer. The usual vomiting resulted, followed by a rapid improvement in health, and the man felt better than he had for a long time. These successes caused much talk in the neighborhood, and he was called to attend several more cases, gradually propelling him into a large practice. . . .

His success became legend, and soon Thompson had a practice so large it was impossible to give personal treatment. Thus, he devised a system so that every family could practice for itself. This system [he] sold to individuals and groups[,] giving them . . . [a] license to practice his medicine ($2.00) and an 800 page manual ($20.00). Thompsonianism [sic] spread like wildfire over the entire American south and west. . . . Thompson claimed to have sold more than 100,000 licenses over his lifetime.[3]

Larsen tells about Priddy Meeks, an herbal doctor who moved to Parowan in 1851 and had a wide impact in southern Utah.[4] Larsen then listed many medications these herbalists used. For example, he tells about Brigham (or Mormon) tea or ephedra, a plant made into a tea that was often called mountain rush. The pioneers may have originally learned about the medicinal properties of the plants from Indians.[5] Other plants were also used; for instance, cayenne pepper was used to save frozen feet. It was a long process, but it brought heat back into the legs and feet, and after three weeks of daily treatment, the patient could avoid amputation and walk again.[6]

Larsen includes drawings of many plants in southern Utah that both Indians and Mormons used for medications and describes the Indian use and the pioneer use for each plant. For example, Mormons used horsetail to heal cuts and wounds and stop bleeding.[7] A patient would steep juniper berries for fifteen minutes and drink the juice every day for urinary tract infections.[8] A tea made from mountain mahogany was used as a laxative.[9] Oil made with mullein was often used for healing.[10] Tea was also made from pinyon pine as a diuretic.[11] Plantain leaves were ground into a juice as a remedy for burns, insect bites, poison ivy, and bleeding.[12]

By the turn of the century, medical doctors were becoming professionally educated in conventional medicine and began appearing in southern Utah. A small book, History of Health Care in Utah’s Dixie, was released by the Dixie Regional Medical Center in 2003 as part of the dedication of the new IHC Hospital in St. George.[13] It briefly surveys herbal medicine and midwives. Priddy Meeks’s practice is described in Harrisburg, John Steele’s in Toquerville, Silas Higgins’s in Silver Reef, and Israel Ivins’s in St. George. Midwives are mentioned, including Mary Ann Hunt Nielson, Caroline Baker Rogers Hardy, Ann Hess Milne, Mrs. William Ellis Jones, Dinah Davies Vaughan, and others.

Then the book turns to doctors that practiced what we consider conventional medicine. Dr. J. T. Affleck came from Pennsylvania, where he was trained as a medical doctor, to Silver Reef and then to St. George. In 1891, Frederick Cliff arrived, and soon after that came Frank Woodbury. These doctors were mainly in St. George but were sometimes called to villages as far away as Grafton. In 1925, Dr. George Russell Aiken established a practice in Hurricane, and Dr. Wilford Reichman came to St. George as a family doctor, specializing in births.

The big change in medicine was caused by doctors Frank Woodbury and Donald McGregor. In 1913, they established a modest hospital in St. George. Known as the McGregor Hospital, it continued to 1952. Initially, it had ten beds, two doctors, and three or four nurses. This modest medical system continued until 1952, when Washington County built the Pioneer Memorial Hospital with seven doctors and twenty-five beds. Thus conventional medicine became a parallel to herbal medicine; however, most people in the villages continued with the herbal option because St. George was too far to get to quickly. These limited medical services are mentioned by some of those interviewed below.

Nurses became a key factor in the practice of medicine. Their assistance was needed especially in births and surgery, but in recovery and treating diseases, they were essential. Some became school nurses and community aides in fighting epidemics like the flu.

Susan Arrington Madsen’s article “Growing Up in Pioneer Utah” gives an account of the dangers children faced:

When J. Martin Allred was fifteen years old, a severe drought forced his father and him to drive their livestock from their home in Wallsburg, Utah, to winter on the Uintah Reservation. After a long winter of sometimes lonely cattle herding, Martin was anxious to see his mother and siblings. Returning home a few weeks before his father, Martin experienced this reception: “We hadn’t heard one word from home all winter and when I got within about one mile from home I met an old neighbor by the name of John Purcell. He began telling me of the children that had died in [Wallsburg] during the winter from diphtheria. I thought every second he would tell about some of my brothers and sisters dying, but thank the Lord there were none of them seriously sick with that dreaded disease. When I got to our front gate Mother met me and said, ‘Martin, you mustn’t come in as some of the children are in the worst stage of the disease.’ Then Mother told me there had been 32 children die there during the winter, as many as five in one family. I was only fifteen years old, hadn’t seen Mother all winter long and was so homesick to see the rest of the family. I wanted so much to take her in my arms and hug and kiss her, but she wouldn’t even shake hands with me for fear of leaving a germ and I might be exposed. You can imagine my feelings at that moment and also hers.” Martin’s mother decided he should go away and work for another two or three months. She did not let him return home until the rest of the children were well.[14]

Jill Mulvay Derr wrote “I Have Eaten Everything Imaginable,” in which she emphasizes that families were often very short of food. These people were the generation in Utah’s Dixie prior to those interviewed in this book, but their stories give a good background to what their parents faced growing up.

Harmon Gubler recollected eating pigweed and lucerne [alfalfa] during his childhood in Santa Clara. “We would walk for miles to find some of the lucerne so that we could have it to eat,” he said. One St. George family lived for six weeks on nothing but boiled lucerne “without even salt or pepper.” Others remembered gathering dandelion greens, lamb’s-quarters, wild mushrooms, rose hips, turnips, onions, and artichokes. Isaiah Cox, whose family was among the early settlers of St. George, ate “wild cane which grew along the stream.”

“The Segos we children gathered and ate just as a delicacy,” recalled David H. Cannon Jr., noting that “some people ate them at the table, prepared into some very tasty dishes.” Isaiah Cox dug sego bulbs and remembered that “another choice wild delicacy which we dug along the river bottom was the grass nut,” similar to the sego bulb but larger.[15]

Elliott West authored the book Growing Up in Twentieth-Century America: A History and Reference Guide.[16] He dealt with the whole nation, and the insights apply to this region. He said, “Children were in danger, first of all, because medical authorities were remarkably ignorant about the causes, nature, and treatment of diseases. Many advances in medical knowledge had been made during the previous half century, but far more still lay ahead. . . . Scientists previously had believed that diseases could be traced to such causes as ‘impure blood’ and deadly mists and vapors. . . . By 1890, scientists had identified the microorganisms—the ‘germs’—that caused cholera, pneumonia, diphtheria, tuberculosis, typhoid, and several other maladies. This was a discovery of immeasurable value.”[17] For people in Utah’s Dixie, these developments still required access to doctors and the hospital. Most villages were a long way distant from both.

The people who were interviewed in this study told mostly about medicine before modernity and mostly from the village viewpoint, in which blessings and herbal medicine reigned because doctors were far away. Sometimes emergencies drew doctors to the villages, but generally this is a story of premodern health care.

Here are the words of a score of people interviewed between 1968 and 1970 when they were in their seventies or eighties. They give their memories of the period early in their lives, between 1900 and the next three or four decades, about how they and their families dealt with the issue of illness and even death.


Verna Mae Isom Gifford

Verna Mae Isom Gifford was born in Mountain Dell near Virgin, Utah, in 1894. She grew up wanting to be a nurse. She worked for Dr. Wilkinson in Hurricane as a practical nurse and hoped to go to Salt Lake City to get formal nurse training. When the flu epidemic came in 1918, she contracted flu on a trip to Salt Lake and came back to Hurricane: “I went home and went right to [Dr.] Wilkinson’s the next day to work. [We] hadn’t been home only just a day or two and we had a very bad case of appendicitis there. It [had] ruptured. I helped [during the] operation. I was coming down with the flu. . . . I had the flu and had to assist the doctors [while they] were operating on this man, Brother [David] Dave Hirschi. Dr. Wilkinson came down with the flu. We had to put him to bed. Oh, I was sick! I was sick the next day. The doctor’s wife was in bed. She had a new baby [and] was in bed. I took sick, so there was nobody there [who] could take care of me. There was nobody there to take care of this patient. They finally found a woman to come in and help take care of Brother Hirschi. But I had to go home. . . .

“Finally my uncle, Samuel Isom, heard about it. He was the bishop in Hurricane. He came up there and went right to my sister-in-law and said, ‘I heard Verna has the flu. Where is she?’ ‘She is upstairs.’ He said, ‘I will tell you something. You get the boys to put a bed in the front room, get the heater going so she can come down in the front room where there is heat.’ I had two sisters younger than me there, Ida and Reeta. He said, ‘If you don’t do that, I will take her home with me and take care of her.’ I said, ‘I won’t go down to his place.’ I told him right there, ‘I can’t go down to your place Uncle Sam, because you have had pneumonia two or three times and you have a bad heart. I wouldn’t go down there for a million [dollars]. I would die first before I would go to your place. I appreciate what you want to do for me [in] helping me.’ He made her fix me up in the front room. He said, ‘If you don’t want to go near her, just stay away and let the girls wait on her.’

“I was there in that room, and the girl [who] had been working in the house with me over at the doctor’s got [the flu]. She didn’t want to go home to her folks and give it to them. I was good enough to let her come in and stay with me. I was getting over the flu, and some of the [others] were coming down with it. My two little brothers [Waldon and Rulon Wright Isom] got [the flu], and I had to help take care of them. Then my two sisters [Ida Mary and Reeta Vernell Isom] got [the flu] and I had them all down. I was weak and coughing, and I had to take care of them and get them over it. This girl came in with me to stay, [and] she got over it. When she got over it, she went home. She never even stayed there to help me. I will never forget that. She left me [as] my youngest sister [Reeta] was coming down with [the flu]. She went outside and talked through the window to my brother’s little girl and gave [the flu] to her.

“I was so weak I couldn’t wash a dish. I couldn’t sweep a floor. I couldn’t do anything—only cough, cough, cough. They would keep coming down with it. Then my brother [Andrew] came down with [the flu], and he had pneumonia. My sister-in-law [Jacosa] got [the flu]. She was pregnant and lost her baby. I had two of them down and their little girl. My brother and sisters were in the other room, and nobody to help me. . . . I was so weak and tired. . . . But I got over that, and I had a chance to go all over the town and help because I had had the flu.”[18]

Matilda “Mattie” Talbot Kokerhans

Accidents caused many injuries that required medications. Those who were away from doctors either had to travel by wagon long distances to get help, or use local options. Nancy Matilda “Mattie” Talbot Kokerhans lived in Panguitch, and on 9 August 1969, when she was elderly, she related this story from her memory, still able to remember the details: “The boys were digging holes in the ground [to] make [holes for] burying corn cobs for [the] Indians. [The] girls were sitting around with their dolls, watching them bury [the corn cobs]. I looked over to see how deep the [hole] was, and I reached over [as] my brother came down with the axe. [It] hit me right on the crown of the head [and] split my head open. It kind of numbed me, [and] I didn’t know I was hurt until the blood began to run down my face. I [started] to scream, and the [adults] all came a running to see what was wrong.

“There was not any doctor, and it was too far to come to get a doctor, so the men went into the hills and got [some] sticky gum. They shaved my head around the cut, stuck it together, and bound it up with this sticky gum [pine gum]. It wasn’t undone [removed] until it was healed. [I] never had any infection. And I don’t have much of a scar.”[19]

Alvin Carl Hardy

Alvin Carl Hardy grew up in St. George, where he was born on 15 August 1902. He tells a dramatic story of surviving an accident: “We were coming home down over the mountain into Toquerville, loaded with about 3,800 [pounds] of freight. That was a wagon box and a pair of bows [with a] wagon cover, because we had flour and sugar, to keep it protected from the rain. We had a bundle of ¾ inch pipe right along the top of the wagon box, which struck out the front end over the dashboard. It had worked its way forward [as we were] coming down over the Black Ridge to where it was almost touching one of the horses. She was a very flighty animal. As we came through Toquerville, a number of boys came out and followed the wagon through town. They would hang on these pipes that stuck out behind. As they hung on them, they ran [the pipes] up and hit this animal, [and she] lunged. Just as they hit this animal one time, she lunged [as] we were crossing one of the [small] rock ditches. All of this seemed to be timed perfectly; I don’t know why the timing was so perfect, but just as they swung on the pipe, the pipes hit the animal [as] we crossed the ditch. Father had told me to ask the boys not to swing on the pipe. I stood up on the dashboard, holding [on] to the bows, and stuck my head around to call to the boys; all of [these] things occurred instantaneously. As the horse lunged, they hit the ditch, it threw the wagon, and I was thrown off. I went down between the singletree and the heels of the mare, and the front wheel ran across my left hand. I feel it and see it as I think about it [now]. It just ran over me, and I turned to pull myself from under the wheel. The hind wheel hit me on the right hip and ran up across the front of my body, over my shoulder, turned me over, crossed my back and came off on the left hip on the back, which crushed the life out of me.

“Father saw me fall and threw the lines over the other horses’ back, jumped and hollered, ‘Whoa!’ Those horses were better to mind than his children; they stopped immediately. He ran to the back of the wagon, and I was under the wheel. He drove the horses off from me, ran back, and picked me up in his arms. He said I was as dead as he had ever seen anybody. But [as] he looked into my face, holding me limp[ly] in his arms, and [not] knowing what to do, here came a lady out of the house that we were right in front of, Sister Duffins, a very fine old midwife. She ran out and grabbed me out of Father’s arms and put her mouth over my face and blew like a bellows. I vomited and began to breathe just slightly, and that was all the breath I could get. She carried me in her home, and Dad called Dr. Woodbury from St. George. [He] told him what happened. [Dr. Woodbury] said, ‘Brother Hardy, there is no need of me coming. If that wagon went over that boy with that much weight on, he will be dead before I can get there.’ He told him what to do, how to poultice me. [He] said, ‘I won’t try to come tonight because I will have to come with a horse and buggy, which will take me three or four hours. But, if he is still alive in the morning, you call me and I will come. But you can rest assured, if he is alive in the morning, you are mistaken; the wagon didn’t run over him.’ Father said, ‘I know it ran over him; I had to drive the horses off from him.’

“The next morning, he called the doctor and said, ‘He is alive, and I have additional proof to prove the wagon ran over him. I have a wagon track this morning across that body.’ He came and [said] it was a miracle. He said, ‘I can’t understand how you are alive.’ I still couldn’t breathe, and I laid there for two weeks. There was not a broken bone in my body, but I had been crushed, and life had been crushed out of me. I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t get well. I would go into spasms and go out of my mind at times, and then I would be rational. The priesthood was demonstrated there time and time again. Every time he would call the elders—my father had lots of faith [that] I would get better. But I would have relapses occur constantly.

“It was only a short time after that until I seemed to fade and [became] weaker. Father felt that probably his petition to the Lord was going to be answered, that I would not live. My mother’s sister was there, Aunt Mary A. Gubler; she was very devoted in helping [with my care]. On this particular night, after they had [the] prayer circle for me, I passed away. Father says I died as natural a death as my mother had died, and they prepared to lay me out, or they did lay me out, pulled the sheets over me, and pronounced me dead. My aunt went to the kitchen and drew the water. In those days [it] was the custom to wash the bodies in the home, lay them out, pack ice around the bodies and hold them for burial. She got the cloths and the necessary equipment to wash my body and lay me out. As she applied the wet cloth to my face, a nerve twitched in the corner of my eye, and she stopped suddenly and called my father. She said, ‘Willie, come here quick.’ Father was in the kitchen, feeling bad to think I had died, and yet he had not shed a tear up to this point. He came running in. She says, ‘I don’t know whether this boy is dead, or whether he is just unconscious. He has been out so long, I’m sure he is dead, but I saw a nerve twitch in the corner of his eye. Maybe there is life in that body yet.’ Father burst into tears and wept. He said, ‘If there is life, there is hope. Call Brother Naegli, quick.’ Brother Naegli, who was the patriarch at the time, came over, and the two of them administered to me again. [They] pled with the Lord that if it was possible, could I be made whole, and not be a cripple; if it was not against his will, to please let me live. I immediately came to, choking and gasping, and I vomited. A lot of corruption [mucus] came [from] my lungs and down in my stomach. Immediately, my breathing was restored to normal. That night, my younger brother came to visit me. I sat in the bed and he stood by my bed, and we sang [the] song ‘Three Little Babes Lost in the Woods’ all the way through. The next day, [I] got out of bed, dressed, and went home. [I was] well and strong. I have never felt any ill effects of that accident to this day, and I am now sixty-six-years old.”[20]

Edwin M. Hiatt

Edwin M. Hiatt was born on 20 June 1913 in Jensen, Uintah County, near Vernal. They later moved to Moapa, Nevada: “The fall before we left Moapa Valley, Father was plowing a piece of ground. He [was] moving from one field across to another. There was a large irrigation ditch that he had to [cross] and a gate that had to be opened. He figured that he would pull his team down into the ditch and then get off the plow and open the gate. I told him I wanted [to get] off. I didn’t want to ride across the ditch. He told me to sit still. As the horses started down into the ditch, one of the horses jumped. Just as the horse jumped, I jumped! I [landed] right down against the bank of the ditch, and the horses jerked the plow. [The plow] was a big double disc plow, [and it went] right over the top of me. It cut both legs. One leg [was] cut almost completely through the bone. The tendons in my toes were cut in my other leg.

“At that time, [the] closest doctor [was in] Las Vegas. [It] was a two-day ride with a buggy and team to get to Las Vegas. The only person was a midwife, a Mrs. Lee. She was summoned. She took a needle and sewed the cords back together and strapped me to a board. My folks [had to] keep me right flat. I was flat for almost three months while my legs healed. Then I had to learn to walk all over again. A sister just younger than me would push me. I had a little red express wagon, and she used to push me after I got so that I could [be up]. She pushed the wagon, and I would guide it. That was the way I got around until I learned to walk again. Today the only time that you [can] tell where the scar is, or where the cuts were, is if I get real dirty. No dirt sticks to these scars. You can’t see the scar tissue [by] just looking at my legs. It is surely a miracle. It left my toes pulled down so that when I walk, instead of my toes being out straight they are doubled back. I walk right so that the toenails are in the bottom of my shoes. I have to keep my toenails trimmed close all the time. [I] can’t let my toenails grow long at all.

“The winter Father worked [at] the sugar-beet factory in Delta, there was so much influenza. He and one other man were the only two men in the whole town of Delta that didn’t have the flu. They went from home to home doing chores, taking care of [the] sick, and helping bury those that died. It was almost six weeks that our whole family, other than Father, was down with the flu. None of our family died; we all survived the flu.”[21]

Cora Haight Cox

Cora Haight Cox was born on 15 January 1894 in Cedar City. She also lived in Orderville, Cane Beds, Rockville, and Salt Lake City. She gives further light on medical treatments: “I was a very healthy baby until I had scarlatina [scarlet fever] when I was five years old. It was not known that there was scarlatina in the country [area] then. About a week after we [had] visited in Cedar City, I had a rash break out on my chest. Carpenters who were working there said, ‘It could not be scarlatina.’ They never had [seen] it in that light. My mother let me go out and play. I took [came down with a] cold and was sick at that time. Mother had a hard time [trying] to save me.

“I was sick two weeks. After that, I was left with complications. I had St. Vitus Dance. That same year there were two or three others in Cedar City [who] were afflicted with St. Vitus Dance. Mother said the two children who died were not as bad as I was. She took very good care of me. She would not let anyone in the room to speak above a whisper. . . .

“My youngest sister [Lillian Bell Haight] was very ill with typhoid fever. I stayed home from school quite a bit. I was in the eighth grade and I should have been [at] school, but I stayed home and sat by her bed and took care of her while she was ill for three weeks. My mother was so busy. She had another one with typhoid fever, and there was another one just about to come down with it. She said, ‘Sarah, we cannot afford to have you come down with typhoid fever, too. We have to break it up.’ Three children with typhoid fever would be a terrible thing. She gave her something that broke it up and put onions on her for a poultice to draw the fever out. My sister Sarah was even delirious with the fever and had the brown stripe on her tongue that was indicative of that disease. She was cured of it in three days.

“That was quite an experience. My sister [Sarah] nearly died with the typhoid fever. When she [became] so bad and bloated, the doctors almost gave her up. They called in the elders and she was administered to. Her fever left soon after that and never did rise again. That was certainly a testimony that the administration worked.”[22]

Julia May Williams Wilkinson

Julia May Williams Wilkinson was born on 9 May 1890 in Kanarraville, Iron County, near New Harmony, Washington County. She tells a story that could happen as easily today as then: “When my oldest son was a little boy, he swallowed a shingle nail. I was very worried. He was about six when he swallowed [it]. I don’t know how in the world he came to it, unless he put things into his mouth. I don’t know what else. I prayed and prayed and the doctor said to give him whipped potatoes. He lived on potatoes until he [was] rid of that shingle nail.

“I was very grateful for my blessing [and] having my prayers answered. When he was a young boy, he went to Mutual one night. He was playing outside with the youngsters. It was the fall of the year, and they had some pine nuts, [and] they had given him a few. He was laughing and cutting up with the rest of [the youngsters]. He came home in a little while. I said, ‘Lex, what are you doing home so soon?’ He said, ‘Mom, I hate to tell you this, but I’ve inhaled a pine-nut shell [in] my lung.’ I said, ‘Oh, no!’

“I was so frightened. I called the drug store to ask my brother-in-law to see if my husband happened to be there. He used to go down there and talk to him quite a bit. My brother-in-law, Mike McCormick, said, ‘Julia, Percy wasn’t here. What is wrong?’ I told him and he said, ‘I’ll [go] right out and find him, and I’ll send him home.’ He sent Percy home. When he came, I said, ‘What will we do?’ He said, ‘Get a doctor.’ We called Dr. Prestwich. My husband had a brother living in Cedar [City] who was a doctor, but he happened to be in Salt Lake on business, so we called Dr. Prestwich. [He] said, ‘We can’t operate here. We don’t have the [equipment] to do [it]. I would advise you to get in touch with your brother, the doctor, in Salt Lake. You have a lot of confidence in him, and he will do all he can for you.’ He said, ‘Have this boy develop a cough, and one of you give him a right-smart slap on the back when he coughs, and that will probably jar [the shell], and he might [cough] it up.’ So that is what we did. He said, ‘You [should] get [in] touch with your brother right [away], Percy. If there is anything I can do, I’d be glad to do it.’ He left, and we called Dr. Wilkinson in Salt Lake. He told us to be sure this boy developed a cough and slap him on the back when he coughed.

“I stayed right there with my son all night and lay down on the bed by him. Every time he coughed, I would give him a smart slap on the back. The next morning I was up early, and my husband went to work. I couldn’t keep off my knees. I felt like I had to be on my knees praying every minute. We didn’t have a big home, just a few rooms. I would kneel down in our dining room. Finally, my son called and he said, ‘Mom, come in here to pray. I want to hear you pray.’ I knelt down by his bed and did my praying. I fasted and prayed all morning long.

“At noon, his father came home for his lunch. He said, ‘How is Lex?’ I said, ‘[He] still has the pine-nut shell.’ He said, ‘What should we do, should we call the doctor?’ I said, ‘I would call Dr. Wilkinson and let him know how he is.’ While we were talking, Dr. Wilkinson called us from Salt Lake. [He] said, ‘I want you to put this boy on a bus and send him to Salt Lake. I was coming home today, but I’ll stay over and meet [him] at the bus [station], and I’ll take care of him. I’ll take him to the clinic, and we will do all we possibly can for him. I’ll do for him just like I would my own son.’

“We were talking about it, and Lex started coughing. I ran into the other room to give him a slap on the back. He looked up at me and smiled and said, ‘Mom, here is the pine-nut shell.’ I said, ‘Thank [you], Heavenly Father for that.’ I ran to the other room and said, ‘Daddy, Lex got rid of his pine-nut shell. I’ve never seen anything work out quite that fast.’ We were all very grateful.”[23]

Jessie Helen Jennings Gibson

Jessie Helen Jennings Gibson, born on 30 April 1887 in Rockville, gives this short memory: “I had pneumonia when I was around ten. That winter was a wet winter, and we didn’t have enough money to buy all the [overshoes] and things that we needed for the family. My feet were wet most of the time, and that is how I [came down with] pneumonia.

“I don’t remember any part of it except the first day and then toward the [end] when it was about the last of it. I was unconscious a lot of the time. I remember that first day. I came home from school early and [had] my lessons ready for the next day. Around sundown I was tired and decided I would lie down and go to sleep [so that] when it was time to get supper, I would be ready to help. When I woke up, I had a high fever, headache, and pain in my lungs. That was the first of the pneumonia. I didn’t remember any more until [I was] nearly [over it]. We didn’t have doctors. Most of the doctoring was done by handywomen who had families of their own and learned a lot of [information] that way, practical nursing. My side was sore where they plastered it. They used plasters. I don’t know what they put in them.”[24]

Chloe Geneva “Gennie” Van Lowen Bundy

Here is a story not likely to be heard today. It is about the Arizona Strip and the well-known Bundy family. Chloe Geneva “Gennie” Van Lowen Bundy was born on 12 July 1888. She lived in Douglas, Arizona, and the Mormon colonies in Mexico before moving to the Arizona Strip, the high-cattle country immediately south of Utah, near the Colorado River. She married James Bundy in 1909 in Arizona, and they moved to the strip. Her story is one of many births—fourteen of them. “I was happy to be pregnant each time because [when] my first boy [was] born, the doctors told me that I could never have any more. [They said] that I must not have any more if I wanted to live. They told my mother and my husband [these things]. I did not know anything about [this] for three or four months. When my mother told me what they had told them, that I was not to have any more, I just laughed at them. I said, ‘Do you know that the Lord wants me to have a lot of babies? I am going to have a lot of babies. . . .

“We did. We had this other baby coming, and we were very happy about it. We came down here to St. George to be where there was a good doctor. He was born on the same day that my last baby was born on. William Fay was [born] on February 12, 1916. This [baby] was born on February 12, 1918. [It was] the day that [the previous] baby was two years old. I said, ‘His name is to be Lincoln.’ His name was Lincoln Delmar.[25]

“As time went on, I was pregnant again in another two years. Each two years I had a baby coming. This time it was another baby boy. [His name was] Denven Lavar. I had been very miserable all the way through [this pregnancy]. My husband thought he should get us into St. George, where we could have a good doctor. I kept telling him that I could not stand to go, but he said that I would have to try. He fixed up springs and mattresses and pillows, and he got me onto them. We went four or five miles, and I said to my mother, ‘I cannot go another step. Have Daddy turn around and take me back home.’ She insisted that he do that.

“He turned around and started back when I said, ‘Mother, get me off of here. The baby is coming and I cannot stand it. I cannot take it.’ My husband threw off a mattress and got me off onto it, and the baby came. [It came] with a heavy profusion of flow and some terribly large chunks. [I] passed out. I did not know anything more about it. I was inspired to have a bundle fixed. Being a nurse like I had been, I had everything fixed. My mother took care of the baby. My daddy sent one of the children on a horse and across the valley to get Martin Iverson. He had always been a horse doctor, and he came and helped Mother to fix me up. He fixed the baby up and wrapped it up. Then they put the lines or ropes right around the mattress and hoisted me, mattress and all, right up on the wagon. Then Mother told Daddy to take us home and do it fast. There was a heavy thunderstorm coming up. Daddy got those horses into shape and took off. [He was] lashing them every step of the way to go [faster]. Mother held my hand [and felt] my pulse all the time. [She] was very much worried because she could not feel a pulse. I did not know anything about this.”

After her fourteenth baby was born in 1932, she made these comments: “We knew that would [be the] finish because I was past forty-five years old. That had been a good many years that I had put in having [and] raising babies. I am just seventeen years and six months older than my oldest child, and now I was forty-five [years old]. That had been a good many years [for] babies. During the time of having my family, I had acted as midwife to a good many others. I had brought a good many babies [into the world] while nursing. [Also, I was] taking care of different accidents and hurts and all, [and] it had taken me in all different ways. [I had gone] by horseback and cars. One time my husband had to put me in the back of the truck because the snow was so heavy and deep that it would not track . . . This was not a money-making job. I never [received] anything. I never made any charge. Sometimes, some of them would give me something, but it was just a help [to them]. We went on living there.”[26]

Lucinda Estella Hall Reidhead Jackson

Lucinda Estella Hall Reidhead Jackson was born on 17 February 1890 in Washington City. She lived in several other towns. She tells of a childbirth situation: “When my first baby was born, he went into colic convulsions when he was two weeks old. He [would] just go from [one] convulsion [to] another. He had two hard convulsions and the midwife that I had, she gave up. She said, ‘If he has another [one], he will never live through it.’ She had done everything she could for him and nothing did any good. My father was there, so my father and her husband administered to my baby and named him. He seemed to be better, but only for just a few hours, and then he [became] sore again.

“She spent all of her time with him. I was sitting in my chair by the bed, and I had my baby on the pillow. He was a very little baby. I said that I had some [of this solution] that is already prepared. But she didn’t want to give it to him because she was afraid that she shouldn’t. I said that it wouldn’t hurt him. My mother raised us on that from the time we were born. It won’t hurt. So she said, ‘If you want to be responsible for it, why go ahead.’ So I had her bring me a half a cup of water and a little bit of sugar. I put this appetite in it. I had cut it in brandy. I put a little bit in that water and fed that to him with a spoon, as much as I could when I found him aroused so he could swallow. From then on, he got better. I was forty-five miles from a doctor, and I didn’t have a cent of money to send for a doctor.”[27]

Hannah Elizabeth Heaton Roundy

Hannah Elizabeth Heaton Roundy was born on 29 December 1894 in Orderville, and also lived in Alton and Panguitch. She had thirteen births and many of them died. Her husband, Myron Ervin Roundy, ran sheep and farmed. She tells of a wagon trip that was nearly a disaster: “It was when my second child was just a baby in arms, and he was taking us back and forth so much. He came to me one day and said, ‘Hannah, would you like to go to Moccasin and help put up your mother’s fruit?’ They had fruit out there. ‘Take some bottles [jars] of your own to fill. If you do, I will take you out, and you can fill some for yourself and help with your mother’s.’ We went out and got our bottles all filled. My sister, Clarissa [Amy], went with us. When we [were] ready to come home he brought [us] back [in] two wagons. One of our cousins was out there, a girl, [so] my sister, Clarissa, and this girl drove one of the wagons with just one team. Daddy had loaded it up with melons, fruit, and [items] like that to bring back to the people in Alton. The outfit he drove was a double-bedded wagon and had two teams, one lead team like they have. He had it quite heavily loaded. One of the horses in the lead team wasn’t broke right good. They had to handle him a little [more] carefully, but we got along just fine until we stopped at Yellow Jacket [Kane County, Utah] at noon. Father said, ‘Hannah, you sit still with the children.’ We had my little baby brother in the wagon with Areta. ‘You sit still and keep the children in the wagon until I get the horses undone so we won’t scare this new horse.’ We just sat there and kept quiet.

“He undid the tugs and the snaps to the reins, then stepped back and went to pull the line over that lead horse’s back. It scared the horse [and] he just whirled and kicked Father. He went in the air and came right down on his chest and neck. [The horse] broke and ran loose from the other horses. The other horses just stood there. Father was lying there, unconscious. The girls, when they drove up, saw it, and they came running up [to] where I was. I jumped out and laid the baby down beside my little brother and Areta and told them to watch him. We worked with Daddy all we could—did all we could think of doing. [We were] out there in the hills and timber and wilderness [with] no help whatsoever. [With] that fractious, unbroken horse, and Daddy in that condition—I said, ‘The thing to do is to pray.’ We just put our arms around one another, stood over Daddy and just talked to the Lord the way I am talking to you. We told him our condition, [that] we were out there in the wilderness, miles and miles from anybody, [we prayed] for him to overrule for our good, [to] give us the wisdom to know what to do and what was for the best. We begged for assistance the best we could ask in those conditions.

“We worked with him awhile. Finally, one of us went out around the horse, worked it back to the other horses, and got him standing there kind of calm by the horses. We decided that we would try to get them hooked up again. We hadn’t eaten a bite, hadn’t given the horses a drink, or a bite of hay. We traveled all before noon in the hot weather and sand country. We finally got the horse turned around like it should be with the rest of the horses. One of us stood without hands holding his bits, while the others checked him up, hooked up the tugs, and got the line all back in shape. One of us stood there and held that, while the other two of us got Daddy up in the wagon. I can’t understand it to this day, [but] I think it was the power of the Lord. We knew Daddy was unconscious [and] didn’t realize a thing, but he would not lie down. He was going to sit in that seat. I just left the little children in the back of the wagon, and I sat there with my arms around him. He insisted on holding the lines. We drove along exceptionally good, but every once in a while he would say, ‘Where are we going? I can’t see any; we are out traveling this time of night. Where did we come from and where are we headed for?’ [He asked] different questions like that, all the way along the road.

“When we came to the Mount Carmel dugway, the old-time dugway from Kanab down into Long Valley—I guess you don’t know anything about what it used to be like—but it was just a one-wagon, rough road. It was just wide enough for a wagon to go along; that was all. When we were going down the hill, Father would always adjust his brakes, tighten his brakes and the brake blocks so the wagon wouldn’t roll onto the horses and cause trouble. I knew Daddy always did this, so I just sat there, almost shaking and praying that things would turn out alright. I had planned on all I could. If I could get him to sit in the wagon, to stop the horses and then get down myself, because I had watched him do it, adjust the brakes myself, but he wouldn’t let me, not on your life. He got down out of the wagon, crawled under there, and adjusted those brakes himself. He got up and drove the horses down that dugway just as good as he ever did.

“We crossed the creek, and just after we crossed the creek, a man on horseback—and it was dark—came off a side-hill, greeted us and we knew him. I told him what had happened. He said, ‘I will get around by the side of your daddy.’ He turned and went around the wagon and rode right along the side of Daddy until we got to the Green, a little ranch just up on the [Virgin] River from the dugway. His brother lived there, and they happened to be threshing, with an old-time horse-powered thresher. They were four or five men there with their teams. They had stopped there for supper when we drove up. This Brother Allred, [who had] come along with us, got off his horse, ran in the house, and told them that he needed some help, that Brother Heaton had [been] hurt. Half a dozen of them came running out there, picked Daddy up and took [him] into the house. He just went—just like a dead man. They didn’t think he would live until morning. Uncle Alvin [Heaton], Father’s brother just younger than him, said, ‘He is alive, but I don’t know how long he is going to be alive.’ He was that way all night, but in the morning he rallied. How we got down that dugway with him like that, and then going off completely just as soon as he got where there was help—I just can’t understand, unless it was the power of the Lord. He had answered our prayers.”[28]

Oren Ruesch

Oren Ruesch was born on 29 December 1894 and lived in Springdale, Virgin, and Mount Trumbull. He tells about the many floods on the Virgin River in Springdale: “It was terrible. They didn’t have a way to build dams to make them stay. Usually every flood that would come would take out the dam. We would have to build it again. I helped build a lot of them.

“I had one experience when we were working on Mt. Trumbull. We had a boy [Jay Ruesch] who wasn’t well when he was born. He had a growth in his throat. We administered to him. He had twenty-four convulsions in one night. He had this growth or something in his throat; we administered to him and he bled. [When it was over,] his ears bothered him awfully bad.

“When we were out on the mountain, he was two years old. We got up one morning and my wife noticed swelling on the back of his ear. I told my boss, ‘We have got to get this boy to a doctor.’ The car’s gas tank had a hole in it. The gas had leaked out. There wasn’t any other car on the mountain. The only thing [available] was a team and wagon. [It] would have been a three-day journey. We said, ‘We can’t wait three days. That [swelling] has to be lanced.’ We felt his head and there was a soft place on the back of his ear. Brother Stout and his wife and my wife and I went into the house and wrapped up the boy on her lap. Walter [took] a hold of his hands, and his wife [took] a hold of his feet. They just held him so that he couldn’t move. I had a good sharp pocketknife; I never carried any other kind. This one had a blade about that long.

“Yes. I wrapped the knife in cloth so there was only about that much of the blade showing, so that I couldn’t make a mistake and injure him. I also used a razor to help cut it. We lanced it and [the swelling] was green when it opened. The stink was terrible. We cleaned it out, [put] a piece of gauze into it, and it never did close up again. It healed like that, only he had ear trouble from then until he died.

“Another [fellow] came out on the mountain after a load of lumber. He had his front-load wagon loaded and was going to pull a back wagon. He had a four-horse outfit. He [was] down guiding the shoe over the winch on the front wagon [and] he missed the winch. His horse pulled it, [and] he broke his collarbone. He was eighty miles from nowhere. Walter Stout and I took him to the house, and we set his shoulder and bound him up [with] tape. He stayed there until we [went] home so he could get his outfit home. We had two other fellows that had quinsy or throat trouble, and we lanced both of their throats. Anybody who had it couldn’t breathe.

“One of my boys, Clair [Ruesch], who is next to the youngest [of those] that [are] alive, was living in Virgin. [He] was walking around on stilts. He attempted to kick a hoop off from the gate out in front so he could get out. He missed it, tipped over backwards, and broke his wrist. I set his wrist and told him I was going to take him to the doctor. He said, ‘No. I don’t want to go to the doctor. You and Uncle Alma [Flanigan] can administer to me.’ We set it and when he took [off] the splints, he was getting along [well].

“He went out to a party one night, the girls pushed him over, and broke it again. I said, ‘This spells a trip to the doctor.’ He said, ‘No, I won’t go to the doctor.’ He was eight or ten years old. I said, ‘This is going to hurt this time.’ I got a push-stick board, and [the wrist] was bent down like that. I [found] a pretty stiff board and put it along that one wooden bend, and another one on the other side. I said, ‘We are going to have to do this up good and tight,’ and we did. He is all right.

“I have had both of my wrists broken. We had an old fellow in Springdale who set [one of] my wrists. For the other one, I went to a doctor, but it is not straight.”[29]

George Champ Henrie

George Champ Henrie was born in Panguitch on 12 April 1912. He gave a brief report about recovering from pneumonia: “In my sixth year I had typhoid [fever] and pneumonia together. They told my folks they did not think I would ever make it. But I did. I was probably stubborn enough. When I went to school, they would make me come home and sit on a chair. It went on that way for a couple of years. Father and his two brothers—one brother was president of the stake, and the other brother was a bishop—[were] talking about it. They [thought] I was so weak, and I was not any good anyway. They decided to have me take exercises. They had me get up early in the mornings and walk around the house. This went on for years. When I quit, I was running around the house thirty-seven times.

“I think [exercise] is what happened. I carried that weak heart for a long time, and I outgrew it. I always thought it was the exercise [that strengthened] it more than anything else. It was decided among the three brothers. They thought something had to be done, and that is what they decided to do, which was against the belief of the doctor. But it worked.”[30]

Neucile Boyter Henrie

Another account of self-treatment is from Champ Henrie’s wife, Neucile Boyter Henrie. She was born on 26 December 1917, also in Panguitch. “After Champ and I had been married about five years, we were expecting our third baby. We had two little boys [Jerold George and James Carl Henrie] and while they were [very] dear to us, we really wanted a baby girl so much. Champ’s only sister [Fern Henrie] died when he was a young boy, and he could not remember her. We wanted a little baby girl so badly. When our third baby was born, it was a little girl [Florence Henrie]. She was a little angel. She had a lot of black hair and was so cute. But she had a little twisted foot, which took a lot of the [joy], not the joy, but you could not help but have feeling for it. The doctors told us not to feel too badly about it and not to worry about it because lots of things could be done [to correct it]. As soon as she was old enough, [the] doctors would put her little foot in a cast, and she would soon be able to walk. But we still felt bad, and I can remember, as I lay in bed, I would rub [her] little foot and hold it. We did not go to hospitals. We had the elders and we prayed about it. By the time she was able to walk, she was like any other child.”[31]

Joseph Hills Johnson Jr.

Joseph Hills Johnson Jr. was born on 25 July 1891 in Johnson, Kane County. He lived in Tropic, and he went to school to the eighth grade there. He reports on the problems he had riding to school: “I was working for my board. I had seven cows to milk, thirteen horses to feed, pigs and [other animals to care for]. We had to be at school at 8:45 [in the morning]. On a cold morning in December, I went out and milked [the] cows and got ready to go to school. I tried to move the buggy, but it had been a cold night. I hadn’t greased the wheels of the buggy, and the wheels wouldn’t turn. I had to pry them off and get some grease on so the wheels on the buggy would turn. I had to take two girls to school. When I [arrived] there, I tied the horse up and [went into] school just as the class was commencing. I ran up to the stove [because] I felt so cold. The teacher came along and I said, ‘Mr. Snyder, I won’t be able to do very much English this morning.’ He said, ‘What is the matter?’ I said, ‘My hands are so numb I can’t hold a pencil.’ He looked at me and jerked me away from the stove and took me outside of the building. [He] called someone else, and they rubbed my hands in the snow for nearly a half-hour, it seemed to me. They were frozen, just frozen stiff. That was about December 17 or 18. My hands were frozen. I suffered with that more than any particular suffering I have gone through, I guess.

“One hand was just [white]; there wasn’t any color in it. It was completely frozen. I had a glove on that hand. The hand that was uncovered I had been using more, and it wasn’t quite so frozen. I went to the doctor with those frozen hands, and he fixed them up as best he could. [He] put them in oil and wrapped them in cotton, and I was required to hold my hands above my head to ease the pain. I had to hold them up over my head for two or three days. I stayed with the family, my sister, and her family up at the fort. I sent the horse back to [the person] he belonged to, and I stayed there at the fort for two or three days. I went to the doctor several times, and he would treat my hands again.

“There was about three feet of snow on the ground at that time. We were about eighty miles from home and were rather homesick. George Graff, who was from Cannonville [Garfield County], and I decided we would like to go home. We arranged for horses and he saddled my horse for me. I [mounted] and hooked the reins over my arms [with] my hands up; I had to hold my hands up for any relief at all, and we went single file over those miles to Panguitch [Garfield County]. [It was] nearly forty miles, I guess. [It] was just a narrow trail in that snow. We [arrived in] Panguitch that night and stayed in the hotel. The next morning, we [mounted] our horses and went on to Tropic. [We were] within about a mile of Tropic and met a delegation that was coming out to meet me. They had heard that I was coming. They had been calling Panguitch [and] knew that we had been there. [They] told me that [my] father had died. It was a shock. I didn’t know that anything was wrong. I had never heard of anything. When he was on a mission in the Southern states, he had contracted malaria. Just as regular as the spring months would come around, he would have a relapse.”[32]

William Nutter Hinton

Here is a really short account by William Nutter Hinton, who was born on 4 October 1889 in Virgin and reported from an experience in Colonia Morales, Mexico. “A wagon must [have] run over my foot and smashed it while I was in Mexico. There were no doctors. [We] just put salve [on it]. [We put] wagon dope on it [and] kept it bandaged. I guess [we did that for] two or three weeks. It [was] all right. My mother took care of it.”[33]

Joseph Woodruff Holt

This is a brief account of self-treatment by Joseph Woodruff Holt, who was born on 25 August 1885 on Holt Ranch near Gunlock. “I was at summer school up at Mountain Meadows. The next year, I was back with Arlo Higgins again. I had a teacher by the name of Shockman. He was [of] German nationality. He was another very well-educated man, I thought. He was kind of musically inclined too, but he didn’t try to get me to sing. He was also kind of a doctor, setting bones and so forth. I had one wrist broken while he was there, and he set it for me. I also had what they call a carbuncle right on my arm there. The first one came on the back of my neck. I got the blood out of that some way or other. I had another one come around the back of the neck. It was the darndest place to lance. But he lanced it and did a very good job of it. The next one I [had] come on after school; [it] was out right on the arm here [and was] about the size of a hen’s egg. My father had to lance that.” Joseph also said that he had several broken bones, and some were not set because no doctor was available.[34]

William Vaughn Jones

William Vaughn Jones was also born on Holt’s Ranch and lived in Hebron, Gunlock, Pine Valley, Grass Valley, and Veyo. He was born on 7 January 1900 and says, “I suppose that I had a touch of the same disease that my mother had. At least I remember that up to the age of six and maybe past, I used to carry a bottle of cough medicine in my pocket all the time. I had a bad cough most of the time, and I would have to take a swallow of this cough medicine often. I might mention that one of the things my stepmother did for me was one of the best things that could have happened to me. We were limited in space in our living quarters, and quite often it was necessary that we boys would sleep out in a tent or some place in the open. I think that was the best thing that could have happened to me, and I overcame the cough.”[35]

John Matthew Hunt

John Matthew Hunt was born also in Hebron, but two decades earlier, in 1878. He described the health of a young boy: “I was very fortunate in accidents most of the time. While I was growing up, I used to break wild horses when they were two or three years old. I used to do a lot of riding. In fact, the boys around Old Hebron [had] me break the horses so they could ride them. One time after our fields opened up, we used to turn the horses in the fields above Old Hebron, there was [one] horse [that] was kind of a dogey, [a bad-looking] horse. Three of us boys were going up there after the cows. We were walking up there, talking, and this horse was standing still. We noticed it standing [there] sound asleep, and he didn’t know we were there. I told the boys, just like all other boys would do, ‘Just watch me. I will get on him before he wakes up.’ I jumped up onto him, kind of on the stomach, just threw my leg over. He thought some animal had him, and he started to buck. He threw me up in the air. I came back and kind of threw a little bone out on this leg. It has never been put back, and I can’t bend it now like I should.

“I had measles when I was about seven or eight years old and got through that okay. That was about all the sickness I had, outside maybe chickenpox and other diseases that didn’t amount to much in [those] days. I had typhoid fever when I was twenty years old. That really about got me. It left me with big veins in this leg. I have always had to wrap my leg, [from] my ankle up to my knee, to keep the veins from swelling and [giving] me [pain]. The doctor over in Cedar wanted to operate on [the veins], but I didn’t let him. The specialist came down from Salt Lake and examined my leg. He said it was a good thing I didn’t because mine was the type that an operation would injure it more than do [any] good. So I never [had] it operated on.”[36]

Gwendolyn Bryner Schmutz

Gwendolyn Bryner Schmutz was born in 1898 and lived in Lund, Nevada. She gave another brief experience: “After Papa died, this was still in Lund, Nevada, Mother was out chopping wood, milking cows, and taking care of the outdoor chores. She brought in an armful of wood. Usually, she took care of those things on Saturday. But something had happened, and she didn’t get to do it Saturday and had to do it Sunday morning. As she brought in the wood, I was sitting on the floor getting dressed. I went to the door screaming that something was biting me. Mother came running in. A scorpion had been brought in with the wood that morning. This was wood that had been brought down from the hill. I remember she got a heavy towel and actually pulled [the scorpion] off of my foot. It had bitten me. I can still remember the swelling that came up on [my] foot that [the] scorpion [bit].

“It was very painful. We happened to live next door to a neighbor, John Whipple. Mother called him and he came over the fence. They called a group in and administered to me. I was unconscious for three days. They held a prayer circle. It was in the wintertime. They had a tub of ice water and a tub of hot water, and they moved me from one to the other to try to overcome the effects. I remember they gave me brandy. They had to do something to counteract the poison. I[t] was like I was drunk. I remember feeling that Mother always regretted it, but they had to do something, and finally, I awakened. They had tried for three days and had someone sit right over me constantly. I don’t know how many times I had been administered to. Everyone in the town had held prayer circle for me.”[37]

Mary Jane Morris Truman Holt

Mary Jane Morris Truman Holt was born on 14 March 1896 in Hamblin, near Mountain Meadows. She lived at Holt’s Ranch and in Enterprise, Pine Valley, and Grass Valley. She went to the eighth grade in Enterprise and later went to Salt Lake City for a year’s training to be a nurse. She gives some insights on health from a nurse’s view in southern Utah.

“Holt’s Ranch is between Enterprise and Mountain Meadows. Mother went there to teach school [the] winter of 1896. Papa went to Pine Valley and bought a log house and tore it down. As he was tearing it down, he marked every log so that he could remember [how] to put it back [together]. He hauled it to Enterprise. He rebuilt the house that winter while Mama was teaching school. He took the money that she made to buy the nails, the windows, and the doors [for] the house. He finished it up [as] school let out on the last day of February, and I was born on March 14, 1896.”

In her interview she also described her schooling and then her life as a nurse in Enterprise: “We didn’t have doctors, we just had midwives. I delivered more than 200 [babies]. I kept track of [over] 200, and then the doctors started to [deliver babies]. Doctor Graff and Doctor Prestwick from Cedar City would come over and deliver the babies. I would take care of the [baby and mother] afterwards. At that time, the mother stayed in bed ten days. You had to bathe [the mother for] ten mornings and bathe the baby [for] ten mornings. So it was a big job after the baby was born. . . . There used to be a lot of trouble with milk leg, a painful swelling of the leg soon after childbirth due to thrombosis of the large vein. The mothers were weak when they started trying to get around. Now there are different ways to take care of the mothers. We didn’t know anything [then] if they started hemorrhaging. Nowadays, they don’t worry about that because they can stop [it], or give them a blood transfusion if they need it. All we knew [then] was to keep them lying quiet.”[38]

Mariah Delila Van Leuven Alldredge

Mariah Delila Van Leuven Alldredge was born on 11 November 1882 in Aurora, Sevier County, Utah. She married Isaac “Ike” Alldredge from Deseret in Millard County, and they roamed Mesquite, Hinckley, and several other places. Ike wanted to farm, but he also did blacksmithing and mining, always looking for employment, but he always wanted to get back to Deseret to farm. They went back there, but didn’t have a place to live. She said they moved every month. She tells of the illness of her son Verl.

“The [children caught] the whooping cough in school, and he was subject to croup. When he [caught] the whooping cough from them, he also had croup with it. He went into acute pneumonia. Three different doctors said it was impossible for him to live. I sat up in bed with him up over my shoulder for three weeks. I never lay down. I was just sitting up with him over my shoulder. If I laid him down, he would go as black as black. He couldn’t get his breath at all. I lived under prayer constantly for him. He couldn’t eat anything. He was eighteen months old at this time. He had forgotten how to walk. He [was] so weak he couldn’t walk. His little eyes were just set back in his head. It just looked like it was impossible for him to live. There was a man [who] went by in his wagon [with] a load of hay. He went home and told his wife, ‘Sister Alldredge’s baby won’t live tonight. I can hear him breathing clear out in the street.’ He was breathing so hard. We had him out under the tree where he could get more oxygen, more air.

“That night, the ward teacher came. He came alone that night. I don’t know why he didn’t have a partner with him, but he was alone. He was a wonderful man. He said, ‘Sister Alldredge, is there anything I can do for you?’ I said, ‘Yes. I wish you would administer to my baby.’ So he did, and while he administered to him, the baby opened his eyes and smiled. That was the first change he took for the better. His name was Charles Woodbury. Verl began to get better from then on. That was the first night that he slept normally. For weeks he hadn’t slept, hardly a bit. I just held him constantly in my arms. I didn’t dare lay him down.

“My husband’s sister [Susie Alldredge Theobald] was a first-class nurse, almost the same as a doctor. She put him in what they called a creosote steam. She put him under that two or three times to bring him back to life. He went right off as black and dark. She put an umbrella over him, covered this up with a sheet, and put the creosote steam under it, and that would be [like] an oxygen tent. In those days they didn’t [have] oxygen like they have nowadays. That was his oxygen tent. That would bring him back to life again. She brought him back three times that way. Oh, if I didn’t have something to go through! I went down until I weighed 112 pounds. People can’t believe it. Like my sister, she finally took a picture of me as I was working one day. It was so horrible! I was just hysterical, but I was going through something to make me that way.

“Verl became better from then on. It left him with hard breathing for months. My brother Ed and his wife [Dorothy Van Leuven] came over from Eureka to visit me. He said, ‘Oh my land, Sis, I would take that [baby] to the doctor right now.’ I said, ‘He is well. He is well now.’ ‘Well and breathing like that?’ I said, ‘Yes, it is getting lighter. I think eventually he will come out of it. His breathing is getting better, and that sound is getting less.’ It did, and after a few months he could breathe naturally. But he had that for a long time.

“That was a great testimony. Because I tell Verl now, ‘You were saved for something. You have eight lovely children. You performed a wonderful mission.’ He had a boy on a mission and just now sent another one out. They are living the gospel as near as they can. He was faithful.”[39]

Milo Golden Campbell

Milo Golden Campbell was born in Escalante in 1910 and later lived in St. George. His wife, Alporta Allen, gave birth to twelve children. He tells of a memorable experience about the birth of his oldest son Milo Kay: “I have a sad and great experience to tell about Kay. When it was time for him to come into the world, my wife was unable to have Kay. So my good doctor told me what the deal was [with her delivery]. We were in my brother’s home in Richfield. He said, ‘Milo, we can’t save them both. Now which one do you want?’ I said, ‘Of course, I want my wife if that is the case.’ He said, ‘Let’s you and I go into this bedroom and kneel down and have a word of prayer.’ We went in there, and he took the lead in the prayer. He told the Lord that we wanted help.

“We came out, and I rolled my sleeves up with the nurse and the helper. We had a real scrap to take Kay. She did not dilate. When we finally got Kay into the world, we thought he was dead. [It] looked like we had pulled one eye out [and] pulled one arm out [of his socket]. His head was flat and he was a pitiful sight. The doctor started to work with him. I said, ‘Oh, Doctor, don’t save him. Don’t save him. I don’t want him to live as an invalid. There is no other way out.’ He turned to me and he said, ‘Milo, shame on you. Do you know we asked the Lord to help us? And that is not the half of it. I am a doctor. Where there is life, there is hope.’ I said, ‘There is no life.’ He said, ‘I don’t know that yet.’ He worked with that boy one solid hour before he [could get] a cry out of him.

“As that boy grew into manhood, he was a perfect specimen of a healthy athlete today. You can see his scars just a little.”[40]

Alporta Campbell

Milo’s wife, Alporta, also born in 1910, gives her version of the same story: “Milo Kay Campbell, our oldest son, was born in Richfield at [John] Larvin [Campbell], Milo’s oldest brother’s home, [on] September 4, 1932. The doctor was Otto L. Anderson, an osteopath physician in Richfield. When I started labor, they administered to me. Dr. Anderson was one of them that put his hand on. When they were trying to get the baby, they turned him three times, trying to get him and couldn’t. So the doctor said, ‘It is either the mother or the baby.’ They would try [to] save one. So Milo said, ‘For sure, I want you [to] save my wife.’

“They had the instruments laid out, sterilized, and ready. They were going to take the baby in pieces so they could save my life. The doctor said, ‘Let’s try once more.’ He stood up on the bed, and Margaret and Milo held me down. This time they got the baby, but in doing so, they were afraid they injured an eye. It was so swollen and bloody, and [they] had pulled his little arm out of place. By the time I saw him, he was quite dark and swollen. His little head was all out of shape. He was really quite a sight.

“When the doctor [delivered] him, he started dipping him in warm and cold water because there seemed to be no life. [He gave him] artificial respiration [and] said, ‘Milo, there is one thing sure; he can’t be normal. He has to be mentally retarded. We have simply injured him too badly.’ Milo said, ‘Why try to save him?’ The doctor looked at him and said, ‘Milo, we administered to your wife before we started. Not only my doctor’s profession tells me to keep working, but my priesthood [does] also.’ To Milo that was a very humbling experience. [Now] to see [Milo] Kay [today]—I guess he has been our very healthiest child, as normal as could be. To see him has been a real testimony of the power of the priesthood and what it can do for us.”[41]

Joseph Aurelius Haslam

Joseph Aurelius Haslam was born on 28 December 1902 in Cedar City, but lived in Kanarraville. He tells of the impact of working in mines: “I got to where I needed a steady job, and I had to get out and look for work. I had a few cattle of my own and was mainly working to pay the fee bill for them. I couldn’t work fast enough to do that. I leased them out and went out to Yerington, Nevada, and found a job in the Anaconda Copper Mine. It was an open-pit copper mine. I stayed there for about seventeen years. It was a pretty good job. They retired me from that job, and I came back to here to Kanarraville.

“My lungs are no good. Being in the rough dust gave me emphysema. There was quite a bit of quartzite in the mine. You run a drill and create a dust like that and that dust, raw and fresh, is the very worst kind. You are working right in it, and you have to breathe it. It is very hard on you. Since I retired, I am just no good. I can’t do anything. I have a hard time to breathe all the time.”[42]

Vialate Leavitt Webb

Vialate Leavitt Webb was born in Gunlock on 6 July 1903. She recalls: “I remember quite distinctly after having had scarletina [scarlet fever] that my ears were so infected. They were running [discharge] for a long while after that. The doctors said that probably caused my eye and ear trouble all through life. It was not so much that my ears were hurting, but I can still remember [they] were running. After the folks moved to Las Vegas they took me to two doctors to see if they could stop [the discharge]. [That] was about 1907, I think. The doctors said that was probably the cause of my eye trouble. For a long time, my folks didn’t seem to know what was my trouble. I can remember not getting as good marks as they had expected. I can remember being at the back of the room, and all at once the teacher invited me to come up to the front of the room, and I got along so much better. I could hear and see better. When I was about eight years old, [my parents bought] me some glasses. I wore glasses until I was grown, and then I decided they didn’t look so good, so I went without them for a good many years. But when my sight began to get worse, I [wore] glasses again.”[43]

Anna Crawford Isom

Anna Crawford Isom was born on 7 August 1881 in Virgin. She married George Howard Isom and they had eleven children, two of whom died at childbirth. She tells about her mother and her son: “Mother had St. Vitus’ [Dance]. It left her badly crippled, so she could not sew or write or do anything like that. They sent her to school [when] they thought she was over it. When she would take a pencil and start to write, it would flip across the room. She could not control it. She never tried to write after that. She [had] me do her writing sometimes when I was old enough. When she started to get better, she begged her father to pray for her to die. She did not want to go through life like this. He said, ‘I cannot do it, now, you will get well.’ She said. ‘I will try.’ So she tried, but she would soon be back praying to die again. Finally, he said, ‘I am going to dedicate you to the Lord. Let him do as he pleases about it.’ He placed his hands upon her head and was going to ask the Lord to take her. He said he was surprised when he put his hands on her head. The first words he said were, ‘You will get well.’ She began to mend from there.”

After she married, her son had muscular dystrophy. She said, “There are very few who have died from it. They live through. He [was ill for] twelve years. George wanted the boys to stand him up on his feet. He said, ‘I believe if I could get onto my feet, then I could stand.’ So the boys took him on one side and one the other and lifted him up. But he could not stand at all. He said, ‘It is twelve years since I [have been] on my feet.’ That is one trial this boy has had to go through. Wayne had that proud spirit that his father had. He hated to give up. When he found he had to give up, then he [did] it in the right spirit. I think Wayne has really done wonderfully to try to accept what he could not avoid.”[44]

LaVon LeFevre Jones

LaVon LeFevre Jones was born on 12 October 1909 in the Uinta Basin, but moved to a farm in Washington Fields with his family. He told of his little brother, who was a year younger: “When he was twelve years old, he had appendicitis. Of course, we always blamed it on the pomegranates. We had a lot of pomegranates around the place, and he ate lots of pomegranates. We thought maybe the seeds got caught in his appendix. That was the story we heard from Father. Nobody knew how to operate, and he got gangrene, and it killed him.”

After LaVon married, he moved to Bundyville on the Arizona Strip. He recounted an accident while cutting down trees to build his home there: “As [the tree] went down, it forced the bottom of the trunk around, and it broke loose from the one I had cut, and came towards me. I backed up, and it stood me right against the one that had been cut before and pinned me in there. [It] broke my leg; broke that bone right off above my ankle and pinned me there. It didn’t hurt at the time because it was so numb. I could reach the axe—I still had it close—and I took the axe and pried and prayed, and prayed and pried at the same time and got free. I hopped on my horse and unhooked the tugs. Just as soon as I stepped on my foot, it just went like that, and I knew it was broken. I hopped over and made the tugs on the horse, jumped on him, and went down to where I had the other horse hobbled, down by the wagon. We had him hobbled [and] grazing. I turned him loose so he would tag me, [didn’t want] to leave him up there alone, and then I headed for civilization. I had to go up a hill half a mile or so before I [could] start down to the closest sawmill.

“The pain started to show up and it was getting so that I passed out and could feel that I was going to black [out]. . . . I got to the top, and it was steep from [there] down for seven miles or better. The horse would walk [and] throw [jog back and forth] him like horses do. Every time he threw it, that was hitting [the] bone, and I was about to fall off a dozen times and crawl in, but I knew I couldn’t get there that way. So I stuck it out. I went down to the sawmill where LaVon Stout was working. He went down and got Ervin Woods, [who] had an old 1929 model Chevy, which was a good car in those days. He came up and took me down to Bundyville, where we lived. I had a 1929 Ford Coupe down there. My wife [drove us] to St. George. It took us seven hours to come in because she had to go slow [because of the] pain. They laid me on the table at the hospital. Mary didn’t think they made [plans] to touch anything, I guess. Anyhow, she shaved my leg while [the doctor] was getting ready to set it. [They] didn’t give me an earthly thing! I had to hang [on] to keep from passing out.”[45]


These Saints’ biggest obstacle was maintaining health. The death of children, and sometimes mothers at childbirth, was common. Living in the small villages placed them out of reach of the few doctors most of the time. Accidents were a major problem, several involving horses. Many of them came from driving or riding on a wagon and then being thrown off and run over by a wheel. The result was a broken leg or shoulder, or worse. These were among the more severe problems, but most were dealt with without a hospital. There were also times when someone was accidentally shot by someone wielding a gun, but survived with intense family treatments. Snake bites were common. Usually, people were confined to bed and given various ointments and survived, but others died. Working in mines caused serious lung diseases. Homespun surgery such as lancing carbuncles sometimes worked, as did setting bones. Using natural smoky gum sometimes worked to heal severe cuts. Rubbing frozen bones with snow was better than using hot coals.

Birthing was a highlight in virtually every family, yet it was anticipated with some anxiety. Most children were born with the aid of a midwife. Midwives were also often sought out to help with ailments and accidents. Diseases were also common. The most dramatic was the flu epidemic of 1918. Knowledge about how diseases were spread was not available. It was natural for children to be infected with measles, whooping cough, scarlet fever, diphtheria, or pneumonia. Medical help was definitely limited. Almost everyone reported that they sought spiritual blessings for the sick. They told many tales of amazing recoveries which they attributed to priesthood blessings.


[1] Wesley P. Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants (Toquerville, UT: privately published, 2004), 163.

[2] “Let the Doctors Alone,” Deseret News, 24 October 1855, quoted in Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, 71.

[3] Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, 71–72, 91.

[4] Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, 75–77.

[5] Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, 84.

[6] Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, 91.

[7] Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, 22.

[8] Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, 26.

[9] Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, 38.

[10] Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, 40.

[11] Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, 44.

[12] Larsen, Indian and Pioneer Medicinal Food & Plants, 46. Dr. Larsen also published Paiute Scrapbook, 2001, a collection of essays and quotations from such people as John Wesley Powell, William R. Palmer, Alva Matheson, John Steele, Frederick S. Dellenbaugh, Thomas Moran and several more about the Native Americans in the Mojave Desert and their medical experiences.

[13] Douglas D. Alder, History of Health Care in Utah’s Dixie, ed. Terri Draper (St. George, UT: Dixie Regional Medical Center, 2003).

[14] Susan Arrington Madsen, “Growing Up in Pioneer Utah,” in Nearly Everything Imaginable: The Everyday Life of Utah’s Mormon Pioneers, ed. Ronald W. Walker and Doris R. Dant (Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 1999), 324.

[15] Jill Mulvay Derr, “I Have Eaten Everything Imaginable,” in Nearly Everything Imaginable, 228.

[16] Elliott West, Growing Up in Twentieth-Century America: A History and Reference Guide (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996).

[17] West, Growing Up in Twentieth-Century America, 55.

[18] Verna Mae Isom Gifford, VOR File 68-060.

[19] Nancy Kokerhans VOR 69-146.

[20] Alvin Carl Hardy, VOR File 68-126.

[21] Edwin M. Hiatt, VOR File 68-069.

[22] Cora Haight Cox, VOR File 68-135.

[23] Julia May Williams Wilkinson, VOR File 68-023.

[24] Jessie Helen Jennings Gibson, VOR File 68–137.

[25] A book was recently written about Lincoln Bundy, a fighter pilot who was shot down in World War II. It is by Lyman Hafen, titled Far from Cactus Flat: The 20th Century Story of a Harsh Land, A Proud Family, and A Lost Son (St. George, UT: Arizona Strip Interpretive Association, 2006).

[26] Chloe Geneva “Gennie” Van Lowen Bundy, VOR File 68-039.

[27] Lucinda Estella Hall Reidhead Jackson, VOR File 69-139.

[28] Hannah Elizabeth Heaton Roundy, VOR File 68-051.

[29] Oren Ruesch, VOR File 68-002.

[30] George Champ Henrie, VOR File 69-184.

[31] Neucile Boyter Henrie, VOR File 69-184.

[32] Joseph Hills Johnson Jr., VOR File 68-027.

[33] William Nutter Hinton, VOR File 70-011.

[34] Joseph Woodruff Holt, VOR 68-009.

[35] William Vaughn Jones, VOR File 69-163.

[36] John Matthew Hunt, VOR File 69-113.

[37] Gwendolyn Bryner Schmutz, VOR File 69-158.

[38] Mary Jane Morris Truman Holt, VOR File 68-008.

[39] Mariah Delila Van Leuven Alldredge, VOR File 68-035.

[40] Milo Golden Campbell, VOR File 68-109.

[41] Alporta Campbell, VOR File 68-115.

[42] Joseph Aurelius Haslam, VOR File 69-192.

[43] Vialate Leavitt Webb, VOR File 69-160.

[44] Anna Crawford Isom, VOR File 69-178.

[45] LaVon LeFevre Jones, VOR File 69-103.