William Thomas Tew, Jr. was born in Springville and spent several years in other localities—but he always considered Mapleton his home. He entered this life January 2, 1885, the first child of William T. Tew and Clara Elizabeth Snow, with four brothers and two sisters joining the family later.
When he was about six months of age, William moved with his parents to Mapleton, where they settled on a 20-acre farm on the east side of town. His father engaged in brick-laying and farming to provide for the physical needs of the family.
Of his early years in Mapleton, William recorded in his autobiography: “We had no amusements, only visiting our friends and relatives. These were days when all the “Union Bench” or Mapleton was without fences; roads followed the course of least resistance. I remember that the main road to Springville took a diagonal direction from the old school house towards the Barlow Hill this side of Springville. A baseball diamond was laid out on the east part of Richard L. Mendenhall’s farm. Here, on the Fourth and Twenty-fourth of July, all the citizens assembled and sat around under the cedar trees to watch the baseball games.”
These conditions soon changed and social life was centered around a small school house. This building was used for religious gatherings, socials, plays, road-shows, etc. It was in this school house that William and his family saw their first Minstrel Show, a real thrill in those days.
William attended school in Mapleton a few months each winter, progressing from reader to reader, as was the custom. In the fall of 1901 he and another student, John Bent, decided to complete their education, even though they had to travel on horseback to Springville for instruction. Final examinations were conducted in Spanish Fork and graduation exercises took place in Lehi. Ninety-two students obtained certificates from the Grammar School of Utah County on May 23, 1902.
Brigham Young Academy provided the next educational step, but this was interrupted in 1905 when William was called to serve as a missionary in New Zealand for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He remained there three years and it took another two years after his return to accumulate sufficient funds to continue his education. He enrolled in Brigham Young University, then passed his high school examinations, making himself fully acceptable. In June, 1916 he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree in Agronomy, with a minor in Chemistry. During his college years, he had the good fortune to be asked to teach part-time at the university, receiving a salary of $25.00 per month. Low as this salary was, it made his education possible.
William T. Tew, Jr. married Jennie Houtz on June 18, 1913. She was the daughter of Christian Watson Houtz and Mary Esther Waters, early residents of Mapleton.
After teaching two years in Manti and Springville, William moved his family to Lost River, Idaho, where he hoped to use his knowledge of agronomy and become a full-scale farmer. However, a badly-broken leg contributed to severe financial reverse and he re-entered the teaching profession in September, 1920 at the Butte County Junior High School in Moore, Idaho.
The following year a Church Seminary was opened in Fillmore, Utah, and Mr. Tew was given the privilege of pioneering this new venture. He taught four years in Fillmore and was then transferred and became Principal of the Springville Seminary, where he taught until he was called with his family to preside over the East Central States Mission, with headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky. He served faithfully for three years and in September, 1940, he returned to his assignment with the Springville Seminary, continuing his work until his retirement May 24, 1953. Much of this time he also served as a member of the Kolob Stake High Council, and during the summer months he was frequently employed as a carpenter.
Being civic-minded, Mr. Tew was a member of the Mapleton City Council, one year as councilman and one as mayor. During those years the groundwork was laid for the installation of a culinary water system. Successive mayors carried through on the plans and the completion was celebrated Aug. 23, 1919.
Mr. Tew and his wife were parents to seven children: Merlene, Naoma, Helen, Thirl William, Roy Eldon, Dean Leon, and Ronald Kay, all of whom are living at the time of this writing.
Well-versed in the scriptures, Mr. Tew was an influential missionary, a gifted speaker, a capable instructor, and a natural leader. He possessed vigor and vitality and expended it freely in instructing the youth of this area. He was rewarded with the devotion of students, missionaries, friends, and family, and has left an enviable mark upon the lives of his fellow citizens.
On January 24, 1954 Mr. Tew passed away quietly at his home in Mapleton, having suffered for some time from Hodgkin’s Disease. His wife, Jennie, survives him and is living in Springville, now in her eighty-fourth year.