Elmer William Bird
Elmer Bird, son of Charles Monroe Bird and Abby Ann Whiting, was born February 20, 1890 at Mapleton. His family lived in a small frame structure on south Main Street. Elmer acquired his education in the little red schoolhouse beginning in 1896. Helen Bent was his teacher. The irrigation ditch running by the school was the drinking fountain and Elmer recalled laying on his stomach and taking advantage of the cool water at recess.
In 1893, the Bird family moved into a new six-room home located at 750 South Main. About that time the Indians became more friendly, and many incidents occurred when an Indian named Wansett and his wife Emma came to the Bird home to beg food or visit. Elmer also helped his father on the farm, thinned and hoed beets, harvested crops, hauled wood from the canyon and later, when his father lost a leg as a result of amputation, Elmer and his brothers took over the farm and helped run the family coal business.
In 1906, Elmer attended B. Y. Academy at Provo. He also attended preparatory school and graduated from the eighth grade in 1907. In September, 1909 Elmer received a call to the Somoan [sic] Islands, but a doctor who gave him a physical examination suggested that he stay in the states. Consequently, he requested a mission in the eastern states. After two years, Elmer commented, “I never converted a soul but I had a good time preaching to the people.” He returned home on October 11, 1911.
Elmer married Lenore Banks of Spanish Fork on June 18, 1913. They lived with his parents until he purchased the Alonzo Fullmer home for $23.00. In August, 1914, a baby girl, Lillian, was born. Five years later Elmer bought his father’s farm and went into the cattle business. On June 3, 1925, a second child, Orpha Dee was born. Tragedy struck the young family two years later when Lenore got pneumonia and died May 2, 1927. Elmer was left with the responsibility of the farm and two young children. A year passed and he married Millie Smith MacDonald, a young widow with two children whose husband had been killed in the Castle Gate mine disaster.
The depression hit the family hard. Farm prices plummeted to unheard of lows and the bottom dropped out of the cattle market. Elmer was lucky to get $15.00 per head for beef, 10¢ a bushel for grain and 35¢ for a hundred pounds of potatoes. But with perseverance Elmer managed to struggle through and pay off all the bills.
Elmer served as deputy county assessor under Lawrence Atwood. He also worked for Del Monte Canning Co. at Spanish Fork. Later he worked for the Home Owners Association as an appraiser where he spent many hours on the road servicing accounts. In the meantime, three children were born to Millie and Elmer: Ann Mae, Maurine and Elmer Jr.
In 1937, Elmer gave up his other jobs and devoted himself to his own farm. He also served in numerous church and civic positions. For a time he was the manager of the Amusement Hall where he promoted dances and other social occasions for the youth of Mapleton. He also served on the water board. In 1949 he was elected mayor and served for one term. During his administration all the major roads in town were paved.
By 1953 Elmer decided to quit farming. He was tired of it and within the year sold all of his holdings in Mapleton and moved to Provo. During his last years he came back to Mapleton often. Farm life was too deeply inbred into him to stay completely away from it. He maintained a jovial sense of humer and a volatile Welch temper that often erupted over political issues. He also loved to sing, tell jokes, hunting stories and converse about the good and bad times past. His thousands of friends far outnumbered any enemies. After suffering a sudden heart attack, he passed away at Provo on August 15, 1972.