How I Remember the Lofgreen Families

by
Ruth Goodman Tilton

I first met Bishop Peter Andrew Lofgreen as I came into the world. He delivered me. Aunt Rhoda Merrill, our local midwife and nurse, assisted him. Although not a licensed doctor he had studied and practiced medicine and care of the human body. No doctor today, even with the help of x-ray can set bones better than he did. He had no anesthetics nor short cuts to give his patients relief, but his faith in his Heavenly Father just helped him succeed. Brother Lofgreen was always where and when he was needed. He knew a great deal about use of drugs and these he used skillfully whenever he could obtain them. There was no law against these medications, but we were so far from stores that carried them.

Many times Brother Lofgreen would lay his hands on the heads of the sick and administer to them through the power of the priesthood which he held. I remember several occasions that he administered to me and other members of our family.

He was an excellent diagnostician. He seemed to know the symptoms of many illnesses, as well as the cause of these. I especially recall one thing to mind, that has always impressed me. A small girl in our school, named Ruth Oman, had severe epileptic seizures now and then, while in school or on the playground. She was a lovely little girl and did well in school. One day she happened to have a seizure while Brother Lofgreen was there to see one of his boys about something. We all knew how to treat her when these came and laid her out on the floor when he came and helped us, or rather did the job for us. No one knew about epilepsy except that the patient had terrible seizures and was always ill after one, but he told us not to be afraid to help these people as it was caused by the blood not being pumped through a certain channel fast enough and the person would naturally pass out. He said that some day there would be a cure. Well, this same girl is now 84 years old and lived a full life since she was 26, due to a barbituate which caused the heart to pump slower, thus giving the blood a chance to go through all the channels at a slower pace. I often wonder if Brother Lofgreen didn't have something to do with that even tho he was "over there."

Brother Peter A. was a very smart man. So much of the history of St. David is tied up with him. He was bishop, then patriarch. Also school teacher, my first, Justice of the Peace, postmaster, besides a "father" to us all, as well as his 18 children. He was kind, yet you couldn't call him gentle. He was too firm for that. Yet how we loved and respected this great man.

Sister Lofgreen was a homemaker. Her family came first, last and always. She raised all thirteen of her children, also her step-son, Ed, to grow up and marry. She also had other step children which she cared for until they were grown. However, they drifted away, but Ed stayed by and never lived too many miles from where she lived. In fact he was the only one of the fourteen who didn't leave after they married. I guess that is about the average in every family. It seems to be the way life is to be lived.

I remember so much about Sister Lofgreen, or Aunt Zipporah as she was called by everyone. She was so very clean in mind as well as in body. I never saw her with soiled clothes, nor with clothes unmended. That goes for all of her family. She worked day and night in order to keep this large family comfortable as well as fed and clothed. Every one of them was where he or she belonged. She had very little education, but she saw to the schooling of her children. They were always at school or any church function on time and well dressed. She never spoke ill of anyone, nor would she listen to harmful gossip.

She was a very retiring person. Always at her meetings or social gatherings, but would never sit in the front row. Rather than that she would sit as far in the rear as possible. Yet she kept a sharp eye on every one of her children. They had better behave! I remember one occasion when Willard, then a deacon, was sitting in the front row with the other boys who passed the sacrament. She was at the very back of the chapel. These boys were whispering and she stood on her feet and loudly said, "Willard." He quit talking and so did the rest of those deacons. That was the way she reared all her children. She didn't constantly scold, but they got corrected when they needed correcting.

When I started to school at six years old, Brother Lofgreen was the teacher. It was a large one room school house and kids had to sit together, as the seats were made for two or three students. All of the Lofgreen family attended this same school except Ed who had finished and attended the church academy at Thatcher that year. I think it was the last year that Emma, Anna and Jesse attended this school. Nellie, Sarah, Paul, Eva and Mary continued on until they too had completed their studies. The younger ones, Lawrence, Roscoe, Willard, Meta and Seymour came along afterward, of course. I don't know how much schooling they obtained, but I do know it was the best they could get at that time.

Eva was a grade ahead of Mary and me, yet we were very close. When I was about twelve years old, the school made some changes. Three years before Ed Lofgreen taught the first three grades. (Peter A. only taught me one year.) Then they re-graded all of the school. Even though we only had three school rooms by then, they divided us into our proper places.

Now Eva's class and ours merged and we were in the same grade. This was the "middle" group. The older members were in the "high" group. So when it came time to graduate from the eighth grade, Eva, Mary and I along with the rest of our age group graduated together.

Mary and I were never apart more than we could help and Eva was there with us much of the time. I had more fun with Eva. I don't think Sister Lofgreen approved of our friendship much. I think she liked me OK, but she didn't think girls should play boys games and those we liked best. We played ball, marbles and all sorts of hyperactive games.

Eva's best friend was Viola Owens. They paired off just as Mary and I did, but never grew quite so close to each other as Mary and I. However, the four of us were most often found playing games and enjoying so many happy hours.

Viola was a quiet girl, so was Mary, so it was up to Eva and me to take the lead, which we did very well. Now don't think we did anything bad, for we did not. We just dared the other two girls to do something reckless, like jumping off the river bridge or climbing trees and swinging on the limbs and challenging some of the boys to a game of guinea or marbles, etc. etc. Eva was a good sport. If she lost she didn't cry about it. But we beat more games than we lost. In all, Eva (and the rest of us) were good clean kids.

When Rural Free Delivery of the mail was first established in the Valley Jesse Lofgreen was the mail carrier. He had quite a distance to cover, about 25 miles. This was done by a two-seated buggy and a team of mules. It took the better part of a day and he made the run six days a week. It wasn't against the law then to carry passengers, so he often had one or two people in the buggy.

I don't know how long he carried the mail, but it was more than two years. I was about 14 or 15 years when he went on a mission and turned the route over to Paul, who kept it for many years.

Eva, Mary and I sometimes rode with Paul on the route. We had friends who lived several miles from us and sometimes we would stop and visit while Paul continued with delivering the mail. As we grew older and were allowed to go to dances and parties at night, we would meet somewhere along Paul's route and organize a dance or party, to be held the following Friday night (always on Friday). Paul was two years older than Eva, so he was just the right age to help us along. After he married Rachel Judd, he continued to help, but not nearly so much. He had to give up some of his lovely ways. At least "lovely" to us. However, he and Rachel often rode on the route together, and sometimes we got to go too.

I remember one real snow storm we had (we always had snow several times a year). This was really heavy. Paul made a cart (or sleigh) with runners, which he used when needed. This time he and Rachel and Eva and I took the mail. Did we have fun. We were warmly dressed and enjoyed the beautiful ride. I don't know where Mary was. Sick I guess. She got sick easier than Eva or I.

When Mary was eighteen she married Joe Judd and that ended our close association. Viola had married and moved to Bisbee, so it was up to Eva and me to carry on the good work. Eva still had her younger brothers and Meta at home and as I was mama's oldest I also had many brothers and a sister at home, so we had to help at home and that meant work. Yet we found time for fun. I married a short time before Eva did. She went to Utah and we corresponded for years, then it stopped. As Mary once said, "We may not see each other for 20 or 30 years, yet that love is still with us."

Brother Benjamin Lofgreen, Peter A.'s brother, lived about one-half mile from his brother and family. He and his wife, Anna, and their family, Pete, Tory, Levi, Anna, Niels, Fred and Hattie were very active in the community. Hattie was near our age and Fred near Paul's age so they were always included in everything.

Oh, there are so many things I could tell you about Eva and everybody with whom we associated. Eva was a beautiful dancer and never sat one a dance. She was jolly and people just naturally liked to be with her.

We often put on plays and other forms of recreation as well as dances and parties. We had to make our own good times. Most of us took parts in those plays, and weren't half bad as actors. Eva could be the heroine or villainess or grandmother. She was equally good in them all.

She and I taught the same Sunday School class and also the same Primary class. It was the custom to have two teachers to a class then. If I hadn't loved her before that I'd have grown to love her then.

The Lofgreen family entertained young people a lot, such as birthday parties, Sunday afternoon dinners, weddings, and any other reason that they could find. All of my teenage years were enoyed there more than anywhere else except in my home.

Of course we all gave parties now and then, but there were ten to one more given at the home of Peter A. and Aunt Zipporah Lofgreen. They didn't have too much of the world's wealth, but they shared what they had and always seemed to have plenty. They were taught good manners and were gentlemen and ladies wherever they were, even as tiny tots. They took care of what they owned, hence were always well dressed and very clean and neat.

I remember that Brother Lofgreen always sat at the head of that long dining table and Sister Lofgreen at the foot, then the rest of the diners would fill in along the sides and corners. I used to think it was the longest table ever. Everyone would sit quietly until he called on someone to ask the blessing on the food. Then it was quietly passed to each one. There was plenty of chatter and a lot of laughter during meals, but never any sort of rowdy behavior.

If I were to tell all of the lovely thoughts and memories I have of my acquaintance with this family, it would fill a large book. Never a day passes that some thought of them comes to mind. How could it be otherwise since we were more than friends. We were just part of each other.

When one of the family married there was always a crowd. Everyone of the age group of the bride or groom were invited, as well as many other friends of the family. I don't think I ever missed one of these because of my friendship with Paul, Eva, Mary and Lawrence. There would be a dinner and large wedding cake, the latter baked weeks before the wedding. It was a fruit cake.

I remember when they were making Sarah's wedding cake, about a month prior to her wedding and Lawrence asked why it was made so early. They explained that age improved it. He said, "Make mine now." He was about fourteen. It would have been well aged as he was in his 30's or maybe more when he married.

Oh, those were the days. I thank my Father in Heaven for sending such fine people and hope one day I can meet them once again.

Written at St. David, Arizona, 4 November 181