Friday, November 6, 2015

{History of Mapleton} Charles Monroe Bird (1856-1926) and Abby Ann Whiting Bird (1858-1944)

This was found in The History of Mapleton, by Ralph K. Harmer and Wendell B. Johnson, on page 118-119.

Charles Monroe Bird

Charles Monroe Bird was born June 15, 1856, in Springville, Utah. His parents, Richard Bird and Emeline Crandall, were among the first pioneers sent by Brigham Young to settle the Hobble Creek area. Charles grew up in a typical Mormon manner. He was required to do his share of the work on the family farm located in the west fields below Springville. He loved to play along the banks of Hobble Creek and in later years he spent many hours hunting and fishing along the stream where it entered Utah Lake. Charles acquired the equivalent of an eighth grade education. He excelled in penmanship, mathematics, and reading. His favorite pastime was getting into mischief and thinking up practical jokes and stunts with his friends. Most of the time it was harmless fun, but occasionally got him into trouble or ill-favor with his father or neighbors. When that happened, it was discipline time. Charles assumed more responsibilities when his father was called on a colonizing mission to the “Big Muddy” in Washington County, Utah. Richard took his second wife, Laura, and her family on the assignment, leaving Emeline in Springville. Charles became the head of the household in his father’s absence.

After Indian troubles subsided in 1876, a number of Springville men tried a farming experiment on the Union Field, or what is now central Mapleton. Richard Bird was among the group who fenced the original site. Years later, under the homestead act, he exempted a section of land where he settled and began farming. Charles, in his late teens, began freighting farm produce to mining towns in Nevada. The freight route ran through 300 miles of rugged, treacherous desert country. There were hair-raising tales of desperados, robbers and hostile Indians along the route so the teamsters traveled in groups for protection. Charles had a wealth of tales about his freighting days which he loved to relate. After nearly seven years he quite the business and soon afterward was called on a mission to St. George to work on the temple. He returned to Springville in 1875, after serving one year on the building project.

On July 15, 1878, Charles married Abby Ann Whiting in the Endowment House. They spent their honeymoon clearing sagebrush on their land in Mapleton where they intended to build a home. They moved to the bench permanently in 1880 and settled on 80 acres of land located on section 14 (850 south Main). For ten years they lived in a frame home with a slab roof and a lean-to on the back. This structure was replaced in 1892 by a larger brick home. By 1895 the family included the following children: Bessie, Hannah, Jennie, Emmogene, Elmer William, Freeman Crandall and Merrill Whiting. The first-born son, Charles Monroe Jr., died of diphtheria at 10 years of age.

The first ten years were extremely hard. The land had  to be cleared of sage brush, water was scarce, crops dried up or were destroyed by grasshoppers, and irrigation system had to be dug, winters were severe and food supplies were nearly depleted. What the spring frosts didn’t kill the summer drought did. The diet consisted of potatoes (boiled, fried, baked, roasted), “lumpy dick”—a floury gravy, corn bread, meat now and then, dried fruit when it was available, and more potatoes.

While hauling wood from the canyon, Charles re-injured his knee. It had been kicked by a mule during his freighting days. The knee abcessed, became infected with blood poisoning, and his leg had to be amputated above the knee. He suffered tremendously, both physically and emotionally, from the ordeal, but he never let his handicap defeat him. During his convalescence the children and neighbors worked the farm and harvested the crops. After he sufficiently recovered, Charles was fitted with a wooden leg which enabled him to perform his regular farm work.

Charles served in many civic and church positions. He was both ward clerk and town clerk for many years. He was a member of the school board and numerous committees for civic improvement. He advocated culinary water for Mapleton, the cement ditch project in Maple Canyon, and worked hard to secure the Strawberry water for irrigation. He was always in favor of new advancements which would help the community.

Charles built a new home in 1919 and sold the old farm to his son Elmer. He lived a full life and always applied his religious principles in his dealings with his fellow men. He died June, 1926.

Abby Ann Whiting Bird

Born in Manti, June 13, 1858, Abby was the first child of Edwin Whiting and his fourth wife, Hannah Haines Brown. Edwin had completed a large adobe home west of the temple for his four wives and growing family. The home was spacious and well designed. Each wife had her own private sitting room complete with large fireplace. Just as they were beginning to enjoy their comforts, Edwin was asked to give it up and move to Springville.  Following orders, he moved the family north in 1861. They occupied a lean-to built against the old fort wall until a new home could be constructed.

Abby was educated in a one-room school on the family property and taught by Mary Cox Whiting, Edwin’s third wife. She grew up as most other children, doing her share of household chores, washing wool, cording and spinning, sewing, cooking and cleaning. During the summer, she and her mother lived in a log cabin in Hobble Creek canyon, on a tract of land homesteaded for cattle raising. They returned to Springville during the autumn and winter. Being the only daughter, Abby and her mother were very close. Hannah came from Quaker origins and Abby was influenced greatly by her mother’s ideals.

When Abby was 12, she learned telegraphy and became one of the first operators in Springville. In the meantime, she was continually being bothered by an obnoxious prankster named Charlie Bird who teased and cajoled her unmercifully. Naturally, it turned into a romance, and after Charles gave up freighting, they were married eight years later. They made their home on Union Bench were [sic] the drama and drudgery of pioneer life provided them with a wealth of experiences, from the optimistic promise of crops growing on soil once overgrown with sagebrush only to see them destroyed by pesty insects; raising a son only to stand by helplessly, heartbroken after diphtheria had caused his death; to witnessing a young man’s dreams of a large, successful farm ruined by the grim reality of leg amputation and the resulting handicap. Life was not all failure, disappointment and adversity, however. There was enough happiness interspersed among the woes to make life in Mapleton worth living. It was all made possible by an undefeatable sense of humor, good neighbors, Welch songs, community outings, Whiting reunions, and an occasional argument about water or when the millennium was coming. The main stabilizing influence, other than the church, was the close family unity. On special evenings the Bird family would sing, pull taffy, tell stories, play games or listen to Abby play a Jews harp.

Abby was active in church and civic affairs. She was a secretary to the Women’s Retrenchment Society and served as first president of the YWMIA in the Mapleton Ward. She was a devoted mother and taught her children lofty principles, among which were honesty, respect, obedience and reverence for Diety [sic]. She also appreciated music and the arts. She lived a full, rewarding 86 years. She passed away May 24, 1944.

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