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Pioneer child grew to help Tooele area evolve

Our family remained in Salt Lake a few days and were then sent out to the Government Reservation in Rush Valley. We lived in the barracks which were built into the sidehill by soldiers. The winter was a hard one with not much to eat. The flour was so black with smut that we could hardly eat the bread. Father and Alex Frazier, a young man who had come with him from Scotland, one day ran down a rabbit, as they had no gun with them, and furnished the food for our first Thanksgiving dinner in Utah.

Mother had no nurse for me (was not able to nurse me). I was only drawing blood from her breasts. So she walked nine miles to Tooele, carrying me and some clothing which she wanted to trade for a hen which would lay eggs so that she might wean me. She stayed in Tooele all night and the next day when on our way home a blizzard came up, she sat down, exhausted, on the road and covered me with her body in an attempt to protect me from the storm. Father, becoming anxious, got a horse somewhere and rode to meet us. Mother and I were put on the horse and Father walked, leading the horse.In the spring of 1856 we moved to Tooele, as Rush Valley was not very safe, the Indians being hostile. In Tooele we lived in the log schoolhouse until Father could get a place. He found out there were two lots for sale with an unfinished log cabin on one of them. He arranged to buy the lots and he and Grandfather got busy and fixed the cabin so we could move in. (These events happened while she was still very young, she wrote, but were told to her later by her parents.)

One day two young men by the name of Lee came to our place in Settlement Canyon to kill a large dog which we were taking care of for Zachariah Edwards. The hide was wanted to make a bass drum. They shot the dog right there by the house, in view of us children, and it would be hard to tell who felt the worst, Mother or us . . .

Grandmother and I used to go along the ditch where the willows grew to gather nettles to eat. She would tell me to grip them hard, then they would not sting. I can remember sitting down to eat nothing but greens. We used nettles, pigweed and redroot. Also, we dug and ate the sego lily roots, which were considered a delicacy.

I remember the first tithe I paid. Mother gave me a hen and I could have all the eggs she laid. I got an egg every day and put each one in a box where Grandfather kept his bran. When there was a dozen, I gathered them in my apron and took them to the bishop for a tithe. After that I never gathered any more. I thought my duty was done.

The first school I went to was located on Main Street. William B. Adams was the teacher. School was held three and four months during the winter. The next school was located on north First West. A Mr. Bowering was teacher. I took my lunch while attending that school. Lunch consisted of bread and bacon grease, which I enjoyed.

The mud wall was built around three sides of Tooele for protection from the Indians. There were three large gates, one at the south, one at the east and one at the west of town. On each side of the south gates two bastions were built with three sides and port holes for the men to stick their guns through and shoot in case of an attack from the Indians. In these bastions we, as little girls, used to play house. As we did not have any dishes, we would get adobe dirt, make dishes and put them in the sun to dry. They would last a long while if we were careful.

In 1864 when I was nine years of age, Father had a chance to drive a team and wagon East loaded with freight. He left with the company that was going East to meet the Mormon emigrants. While he was gone, my two eldest brothers died, Hugh on the 21st of May and Robert the 31st of July. Mother wrote to Father, but the mail service was so poor he never knew they were gone till he got back.

He brought Mother a new Era stove, my brothers a pair of boots each, a pair of shoes for me and a box of candy kisses. These were my first pair of store shoes. Mother would make my shoes out of cloth and Benjamin Clegg, Tooele's first cobbler, would put on a sole made of leather. Mother gave the boots (bought for her deceased brothers) to the neighbor's boys. I was very proud of my shoes. When we walked up to the cemetery to see the boys' graves, I wiped the dust off my shoes with my handkerchief.

Father asked me one morning to herd the oxen up on the hills. Another girl was herding calves. We got so busy hunting flowers and giving them names that I forgot all about the oxen. When I thought of them, they were gone. I could not find them, and Father walked three days carrying the yoke before he located them. It was my first and last time as a pioneer herd girl . . .

When I was sixteen, Emily Warburton and I went to Salt Lake City to learn telegraphy. We batched and our parents sent in provisions. We were in Salt Lake three months being taught in President Young's office and we saw him every day. We celebrated Pioneer Day in Salt Lake City in 1871.

On July 24, 1876, I was married to Benjamin L. Bowen in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City. . . . In August 1878, the lightning struck our home between 6 and 7 o'clock. We were eating our supper. The sun was shining; there were no clouds, but it did sprinkle a little. Ben's brother Tom was staying with us. The last I remember I took my knife to get butter for my bread. We had hot bread. The next I knew was Ben calling me. I could not speak, I could not move. I felt that I was burning black. Ben crawled to where I was and pushed the cupboard off me as it had fallen on top of me. They both thought I was killed. I got up and walked around. I couldn't speak yet. Ben asked me to look at his feet. The blood was running on the floor from them. I did not seem to realize anything only I knew I was black. As soon as I could, I slipped into the front room. The looking glass was on the floor. I looked in and was glad to know I was not black.

By this time Ben's brother was suffering from the shock he had received. Ben asked me if I could harness the wild horse and hook the team up on the wagon. I went and harnessed them all right. The wild horse never moved. I was bringing them out to the wagon when Ben came down to the wagon on his hands and knees and climbed in. He could not walk. He drove over to our nearest neighbor to get help to assist him in lifting Tom into the wagon to take him home where he could get needed care. It was dark when we left him.

(All three recovered and she had a baby a few months after this incident. Her husband was called to serve several missions. She kept the home and family going while he was gone and became involved in church and civic work.)

I had long been interested in establishing a public library in Tooele and finally wrote to Andrew Carnegie about it. (Carnegie, a rich philanthropist, financed many libraries in the early 1900s.) I received no reply, but did not cease working for it. I discussed it with several people of Tooele and some time later I was elected as a delegate from Tooele to meet in Salt Lake with representatives from other small towns in need of libraries. Howard Driggs was chairman of this meeting and gave instructions to the delegates as to how the libraries should be arranged for the various towns. As soon as Tooele had voted to sustain the library, the necessary funds for erecting the building were forthcoming from Carnegie. My father was just as much interested in this enterprise as I and worked hard to get it established.

(Bowen died June 3, 1942 after a lifetime of service to her family and community.)