History of Melissa Ann Atwood Shaw
As Told by Her Daughter Melissa Ann Shaw Wardle
Story of my mother, Melissa Ann Atwood Shaw, the daughter of Mary S. Barbar and Alonzo T. Atwood. She was born 23 October 1859 at Harbor Creek, Erie County, Pennsylvania. Her father was the father of 27 children. He had two wives, having 13 children by his first wife and 14 by his second. He was a brick mason by trade. They lived in Pennsylvania until their son William was born in the year 1861. On 2 October 1862, they left Pennsylvania with the James F. Brown Company wagon train to go to Utah. Mother was only 3 years old and having no shoes because her parents were very poor, she had to walk bare footed to Sunday school and also on the way to Utah. She was baptized there in 1870 by James Gilbert.
The family settled in Salem, Utah. Mother lived with her parents until she was 12 years old when she went to live wither Uncle Walter and Aunt Adomia Atwood in Murray, Utah. Uncle Walter owned and operated a brickyard in Murray, and mother helped Aunt Domie, as she was called, cook for the hired help there. I have heard her tell how she had to work so hard for such a small girl. She did the washing on a washboard by hand. She ironed the clothing by using a flat iron that had to be heated on a stove. For this work, she was paid $2.00 a month.
She lived with Uncle Walt until she married by father Osmond W. Shaw, May 14, 1879. She had received her endowments in 1875. She and dad lived at Salem, Utah where he owned and operated a shingle mill. At Salem their first five children were born, and their oldest child died. This was in the year 1889.
While she was living with Uncle Walt and Aunt Domie she told me that she taught school for a while. How long she taught, I do not know nor do I know the age of the children she taught, but I do remember her telling about one of the students bringing an Ouija Board to school one day. The board had numbers and letters around it. It was about one and a half feet across and three yards around. There is a planchette that points to the different letters or numbers to answer any question asked it. This is one way of telling fortunes. This day they asked it a question and the table it was on started to move around, jumping up and down. Everyone was frightened and there was never another Ouija Board brought to school.
In the spring of 1889 we settled in Teton Valley. Dad went in first and found a place to settle. Mother and her children came by train to Market Lake, now Roberts. Father met them there and they came in a wagon. I have heard my sister Allie tell how she walked some of the way and she talked about the beautiful flowers they saw along the way. They settled close to Badger Creek, north of Tetonia. There wasn’t a house on the place. They had to live in a tent and the covered wagon. The deer and antelope would come right up to the door and browse around.
The first six months mother never saw another white woman. The Indians were around quite a bit then.
They had a faithful old dog. Mother used it for a watch dog. One day father was away. She and the small children were alone when two trappers came to her camp and were very rude to her. She told them that her husband was coming home any minute and they still weren’t very nice. So she spoke to the dog and he was ready to tear them apart. So they got out of there really fast.
Father then got a place from a man by the name of Nickerson. There was a two room house on it and two lovely springs where the water was very cold and good to drink. She [mother] enjoyed her home very much even though it wasn’t very nice. They had horse blankets hand at the windows and doors for curtains. There were also fie children born there.
Their first Christmas dinner in their new home consisted of deer meat and pies made out of wild currants she had picked and dried. The pie crust was made of deer fat and it was delicious. Mother could make the best pies I have ever eaten. She was a wonderful seamstress. She made all of her own clothes and also those for the children. She knit all of their stockings. I wore long loped hand knit stockings as long as I went to school that mother had knitted.
There wasn’t any doctor living in the valley, so when a baby was to be born a midwife was called in to care for mother and child. When I was born she was very sick. Neither I nor mother were expected to live. Father made a bed in the wagon, with a canvas over the top and took us to a doctor in Rexburg. At that time there wasn’t a hospital there so Father made arrangements for a lady to take us into her home and care for us. She was sick for a month at her home and six weeks in Rexburg. It was her faith that saved her life. She asked the Lord to let her live to raise her family and her prayers were answered.
They lived in that old two-room house until about 1910, when they moved into a nice new frame house that father built. Mother buried two children at birth there, one boy and one girl.
Mother was the first Postmaster in the Teton Basin and held that position for 11 years. She also carried mail from Hayden to Leigh where she lived and ran the post office. She had an old black horse named Nig. She hooked him to a cart and every day, but Sunday, she made that trip about five miles distance.
All of her life she was very active in her church. She served as a visiting teacher for the Relief Society, and also a teacher in the Sunday school. She was the president of the Relief Society for a long time. She was a very staunch tithing payer. She raised chicken, ducks and turkeys, and always milked a large herd of cows. It was from these that she paid her tithing. While mother was president of the Relief Society, she had a granary built to hold their wheat as they used to take wheat for dues and other donations. With the wheat money they were able to run the Relief Society and help the needy in the ward. It was a large undertaking for a few women, and they were successful. One year they had it almost full and they were all proud of their accomplishments.
In the year 1899 mother gave birth to another son, Earl. Jan. 25, 1901 John was born. He lived only long enough to be given a name and blessing before he died. He was 7 months premature [2 months], tiny with a lot of black hair. Father made a casket and the Relief Society ladies lined it with white silk. It was very pretty.
|Melissa Ann Atwood Shaw and her children|
(back) Alma Ray, Allie Cornelia, earl Weilding, Melissa Ann, James Albert,
(front) Rosa Eliza, Osmond Wilding (husband), Melissa Ann (self) and William Lewis
About 1916 Dad bought a Buick. They were very proud of it, but one of the boys always did the driving as Dad never did learn how. Mother bought a duster and a cap with a beak on it. She tied a scarf over the cap and tied it under his chi. She wore this outfit whenever she went in the car. She always sat in the back seat and held on for dear life. She gave instructions on driving to whoever was at the wheel, telling them not to go too fast and as she was very frightened. They would go only ten miles an hour, but she was afraid it would get a scratch on it. It was a touring car and the wind whistled through it.
Mother went to Vernal, Utah only once to visit her mother whom she hadn’t seen since they left Salem to come to Idaho. She stayed about a month and enjoyed herself very much but was happy to get back home. I stayed at home and cooked for the hay men and kept care of the house. I was about 15 or 16 years old at the time and had about 12 men besides the family to feed three hot meals a day. We were all through with the haying when Mother got home.
Mother was a very heavy woman. I imagine she weighed about 200 pounds, but her health was never very good after my birth. Her legs and feet bothered her a lot. They would swell up and look like they would burst. Sometimes they looked shiny like glass and had a transparent appearance. They gave her much pain. She got running sores from varicose veins and many times put her knees on a chair and pushed it around while she was doing her work. I used to bathe and rub legs for her which gave her some relief.
She always fed all the stray men who called on Father. No man ever called at the Shaw place and went away hungry. She would say, Melissa, put an a few extra potatoes. You know Pa will have someone come to eat dinner with us.” There was a cattle buyer by the name of Charley Christensen, who always came to our place if he was anywhere near at meal time. I’ll bet I’d be safe in saying that Mother gave him several hundred meals over the years.
Although mother had poor health in the latter part of her life, she was always cheerful and helping someone who was less fortunate than herself. She kept little treats for her grandchildren, some candy put away or cookies or apples that were hard and crisp. Father had built a cellar out of limestone rock so that it was cool and keep food well. The apples tasted as though they had just been picked, even month after month in the cellar. The cellar had double doors to keep out summer’s heat and winter’s cold.
She never let a grandchild’s birthday pass without a present. It was usually something that she had made herself or maybe cloth for a new shirt or dress.
|Melissa Ann Atwood Shaw|
About the year 1919 Mother took very sick. She was in the Idaho Falls hospital for a time. When she was better she came home but she took a change for the worse. She was too bad to take back to Idaho Fall so Father hired a nurse to come and take care of her. Father took mother to Omaha, Nebraska to see a doctor about this time. I don’t remember if it was before or after she was in the Idaho Falls hospital, nor do I remember how long they were gone. Mother had suffered a long time when her death came on June 20, 1920 about five o’clock in the evening. She was 61 years old and didn’t have a gray hair in her dark brown hair. She was laid to rest in the Cache Clawson Cemetery in Teton County. She was missed by all very much as she was loved most dearly.