“Even He who died for us on the cross, in the last hour, in the unutterable agony of death and mindful of His mother as if to teach us that this Holy Love should be our last worldly thought–the last point of earth from which the soul should take its flight for heaven.” Longfellow
In utmost humility I undertake to write a short sketch of my mother’s life. I will have to depend almost entirely upon my memory of what she told me of the important incidents of her journey over life’s highway. I sincerely pray that my memory may be quickened and that my mother’s spirit will linger near to prompt me in what I shall write.
If refinement of speech and manner constitute a lady, then my mother was worthy of that name. I never heard her repeat a vulgar story or use slang to emphasize her speech, or even laugh aloud. Her pleasant smile was expressive of her pleasure and appreciation. She was clean and neat in her appearance and a good housekeeper.
Perhaps my earliest recollection of her was when she taught me to pray, kneeling at my bedside with me. The most vivid pictures in my memory is of her sitting in her old rocking chair knitting and singing. Sometimes she sang ballads and sometimes hymns. (How we children loved to hear them over and over again.) I think my favorites were, “Oh stop and tell me Redman, Who are you, Why you roam,” and “Come, Come Ye Saints.” There was a story concerning the latter song. Food raised in Salt Lake was brought out to meet the weary immigrants. A feast was prepared on a long table improvised from the end-gates or side-boards of their wagons. After all were seated and a fervent prayer of thanks to God was given for such a bounteous feast, President Young and his wife stood at the table and sang.
Come, come ye Saints, no toil nor labour fear,
But with joy wend your way;
Tho’ hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this and joy your hearts will swell—All is well! All is well!
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
‘Tis not so, all is right!
Why should we think to earn a great reward,
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins, fresh courage take,
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we’ll have this truth to tell–All is well! All is well!
After they had finished singing all of the verses, they passed around the table and shook hands with each one of the pioneers.
Alice Bracken Tolman was born in New Castle, England, 29 Jan 1832. Her father, Joshua Bracken, and mother, Hannah Bell Bracken, worked for a large land owner. Perhaps all the people living in the little village worked for the same landlord.
Mother told us how the overseer would ride his horse up to their little home and announce his arrival by striking the door with his riding whip. Her father would receive his orders for the day. Then the overseer would ride to the next house and so on through the village.
I cannot recall that mother told us much of her childhood. Just one little incident will show her love and determination and perhaps love of adventure. Their little home was near the landlord’s residence. It was whispered among the workman that the landlord’s wife had given birth to twin babies. Alice expressed her desire to see them; but was told she must not think of asking admission to the big house, and to presume that she might be admitted to the nursery was entirely out of the question. With this advice little five year old Alice knew she must not ask the servants to let her in so she watched her chance and slipped in unobserved. She found her way up the stairs to the room where the mother and babies were. The mother gazed at her in astonishment and demanded to know who had let her in and why she was there. “I have come to see the babies,” the child replied. The mother noted her clean, neat appearance, her soft, curly hair, and large dark eyes, and could not resist their pleading. “You may look at them there in their cradle, then hurry home as quickly as you can.” I can imagine Grandmother Bracken’s almost scared surprise when Alice came home and announced that she had seen the twins both asleep, in their lovely beds.
The Bracken family moved much on the same routine until two elders representing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints called at their door, and bore their testimonies that an angel of the Lord had visited the earth; that God and Jesus Christ had appeared to Joseph Smith; that the messengers from Heaven had restored through the Prophet Joseph all the keys and blessings enjoyed by former-day saints. Grandfather and Grandmother Bracken were bible students and had prayed that if the true Church of Christ was upon the earth, messengers be sent to them. So they readily accepted the testimony of the humble Elders and rejoiced in their newfound faith. Their great desire now was to come to America to be with the body of the Church. Every cent they could spare from their meager earnings was saved to pay their way across the ocean.
At last the great day came in the year 1843. The parting with close relatives and friends was a sad one as they would never meet them again in this life. They were six weeks on the water. Their food supply was almost exhausted and their fresh water nearly gone. It had been rationed out just so much to each family. The vegetables were cooked in salt water, so they had to be eaten sparingly or their suffering from thirst greatly increased.
Alice was now eleven years old, her sister Mary, nine. One brother was older than the girls, and two were younger. As soon as they landed in America all the children had to work. Mother helped with the milking on a small dairy farm. She washed the pans and pails and did the churning with the old dasher churn and how her arms would ache lifting the dasher up and down so many times before she was rewarded by the sound that told her the butter was separating from the milk.
Mother smilingly told us of one day when the lady was emptying the cream into the churn she discovered a mouse had fallen into it. She held the mouse by the tail and with her fingers carefully scraped all the cream into the churn. Looking up and seeing the surprised, horrified look on the child’s face, she said, “Alice, this cream will make butter to sell, what the eye don’t see, the heart won’t grieve.”
By strictest economy and by stopping to work whenever an opportunity offered, they were slowly moving westward to Nauvoo, the beautiful city of the Saints, where they would see and hear the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Prophet who had translated the Book of Mormon from the golden plates given him by the Angel Moroni; the Prophet who had organized the church with all the gifts and blessings enjoyed by former-day saints; who had published a book of revelations known as the Doctrine and Covenants, a safe guide for the Saints both spiritual and temporal. The Bracken family talked of these things and comforted each other through their little troubles, sacrifices and trials met with on their journey, one bitter disappointment when the news reached them that their Prophet had been cruelly assassinated. But soon courage came with the assurance that Joseph had accomplished all that was necessary for the growth and development of the church.
When the Brackens arrived in Nauvoo, they found Joseph’s persecutors were now driving the Saints from their homes, demanding they leave the state. We next hear of the Brackens in Iowa with the refugees from Nauvoo. During the winter of 1845 the father, Joshua Bracken, died leaving the little family heart-broken, their main support gone. But they did not linger in the valley of despair. The sweet comforting spirit of God was with them. The knowledge that this life is but a preparation for eternity, and that all must be tried to prove their worth, gave them strength and courage to struggle on.
Grandmother Bracken’s sweet, saintly disposition and her love for work won her into the best of families, and with her children working wherever an opportunity was offered, they were able to come to Utah.
We will now confine our story to Alice Bracken, my mother. She was married to Cyrus Tolman at Mt. Pisgah, Iowa, in the fall of 1846 (August 18, 1847). She was not yet fifteen years old. A woman in stature and ability to work, but a child in knowledge of requirement of married life. Father was a widower with a little girl two (three) years old, so the sweet girl wife was also a step-mother. In 1848 they immigrated to Utah, arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in September. That thousand mile trek must have been a long hard journey to our mother. She was expecting a baby; her first born. She and father came over the plains in Brigham Young’s company.
The company often met around the campfire in the evening, singing and dancing; but mother was of a timid, retiring disposition and preferred sitting in her wagon. Her baby was born at Fort Bridger, Wyoming (Cyrus Ammon, September 6, 1848). I have gone from twenty to one thousand miles to be with each of my daughters, to pray for them, encourage them, and sustain them during their first confinement. They had competent doctors and nurses and plenty of anesthesia. They were also of mature age, from twenty-one to twenty-four, but my pioneer mother was not yet seventeen. Her bed was in a wagon, her attendants were her husband and an inexperienced mid-wife. I mention this because I sometimes think that in this day and age we do not fully appreciate all that medical science has done for us.
Do we often stop to compare our mode of travel with that of the pioneers? I remember a few days ago a lady was being interviewed who came over from Germany on the Hindenburg. Instead of telling of its many comforts and conveniences she said, “It was very tiring. There was not much room for exercise and amusements.” But as compared to mother’s six weeks on the ocean with a shortage of food and water it was comfort, luxury, and elegance supreme.
Mother’s life with the pioneers was no doubt very similar to that of many others. She knew want and hunger. Once they were six weeks without bread. They lived on greens and sego roots. My older brother, William, told me that we of today who have never known real hunger cannot imagine how the children felt when mother made the first bread. With tears in his eyes he said, “We children danced around the oven feeling we just couldn’t wait until the bread was baked. If you want to know how good bread tastes just try living without it for six weeks.” Mother learned to card wool, spin the yarn, knit socks, stockings, gloves, mittens, etc. Knitters in pioneer days knitted to create the necessities, while the ladies of today do it for a pastime to create something artistic and beautiful.
Mother also dyed the yarn, first making the dye from brush or bark. Then she wove the yarn and made clothes for her family. There were no sewing machines in those days. Sewing was all done by hand. Sometimes there was not enough clothing to make the necessary changes when one set became soiled so mother would stay up at night and wash and iron them while the children were asleep. Her light was the light of the fireplace, her thread, the ravellings from a cherished piece of cloth. Mother made soap, first making the lye from wood ashes. Fortunate indeed were they when there was enough fat or rinds of some kind to make soap sufficient for their needs.
The envy of the village was the woman who could afford a real factory made wash-board. Many times it was loaned to a neighbor and sometimes it was sent to someone living many miles away by the stage driver, who kindly took it there one day and brought it back the next.
Perhaps one of the severest trials of mother’s life was when she shared her husband’s love with another woman. Father was married to Margaret Utley, June 30, 1853, just five years after their immigration to the Salt Lake Valley. As well as suffering from jealousy (that almost took her life), there was the worry of how father could provide for another family, for mother was proud and wanted her children to be well dressed, have a comfortable home, and educational advantages.
Both Alice and Margaret were good women, and each was kind and thoughtful of the other. Both were loved as mothers by the two families of children–mother’s family of seven boys and seven girls and Margaret’s family of seven boys and four girls.
Father was a pleasant, strong, healthy, hard-working man and the pioneer spirit to “push on” was always with him. As soon as he would have a comfortable home with orchards and gardens, he had the urge to move to the frontier and begin all over again. He lived in Richfield during the Indian War. I have heard mother tell of those days of anxiety and fear when they never knew what moment, day or night, they might hear the alarm and must rush mothers and children to the fort. A few men would be left there for their protection, while the young and able-bodied men went out to fight the Indians. Often casualties on both sides occurred. Mother has told me of the killing of Mary Smith and J. P. Peterson and his wife; of how the Indians stripped them of their clothing and horribly mutilated their bodies. Finally, in April of 1867, the Indians forced the settlers to abandon their homes. Mother, with a baby just three days old, her bed on a wagon box full of potatoes, started out again to make a new home. They had to leave furniture and other properties, but that was of little consequence compared to getting to a place of safety. When they were camped that night, mother took a hard chill, and new-found friends took her in. They put her in a comfortable bed, doctored her with what simple medicine that they had and the next day she was able to travel on. They went back to Tooele and built new homes. Mother’s was a two-roomed log cabin. They built up a good orchard and pretty shrubbery, and flowers. Here they lived comfortably and contented until 1881, when the spirit of pioneering was upon father again, this time taking him to Goose Creek, Idaho, where there was plenty of land and water and their boys could have homes around them. I sometimes wonder if this move wasn’t harder than any of the others. Mother was fifty years old now. Father was eleven years older and they were moving onto new land still covered with sage brush.
While preparing for this journey into Idaho, my sister, Alvaretta, became sick with a fever. Probably typhoid fever. Mother doctored her with the simple remedies she had, but she gradually grew worse. When the time came to start mother said, “We will have to delay our starting.” However, the rest of the company, my four older brothers and their families were all ready to go and they persuaded mother that travelling, even though Alvaretta had to remain in her bed in the wagon, would do her no harm. So we started sometime early in October, but sister’s condition didn’t improve and after several days she couldn’t retain anything she ate or drank. The jolt of the wagon seemed more than she could stand and father would have to stop and let her rest awhile. He administered to her two or three times, pleading with God to spare her life. One day she had been worse than usual and father had to stop more often. The rest of the company traveled on, but made an early camp to wait for father to come. It was almost dark when we arrived in their camp. Brother Alvin came quickly to inquire why we were so late and asked Alvaretta if there was anything he could do for her. She answered, “Yes, if you will go to the river and catch me a fish I believe I could eat a bit of it.” He hurriedly did as she bade him and soon returned with a trout. He asked mother to cook all of it and there would be enough for her and father too. But sister said, “No, this fish was sent to save my life. Cook just a little piece of it now and save the rest of it for me tomorrow.” Alvin went out to catch some fish for the rest of the family but he didn’t catch another fish. The whole company camped there a day or two longer so that Alvaretta could gain more strength.
I well remember the day we drove down into the Oakley valley. The weather was hot and dry, the dust five or six inches deep. There were no trees or any green shrubs. The town of Oakley consisted of a post office and a grocery store. Uncle Riblet, as he was known to all the settlers, was the postmaster. The grocery store was owned by George S. Grant, who later married my sister Alvaretta.
Our home was a two-roomed log house. To my brothers, Alex and Judson, in their early teens, it was something new and it was an adventure. To mother, it was heartache and disappointment, but mother tried to be enthused for her family’s sake and did all she could to make the little house look as pleasant and homelike as possible. It was comforting to have so many of her family near her. Her sons, Ammon, William, John Albert and Alvin all had homes within a few minutes walk of her own.
I will relate a sorrowful tragedy that happened the night we arrived and were moving into our new homes.
My brother (Joshua) Alvin’s family consisted of his wife, Jane Gorringe Tolman, their first born, William Alvin, 15 months and their baby, Owen Joshua. With pleasant anticipation they set to work moving into their little house. First the bedstead and bedding was brought in and the bed made. How thankful they would be to again sleep in a good bed. Eagerly the wife unpacked the dishes and she was so happy that none of them were broken. “Look Alvin,” she said, “this bottle of consecrated oil. I’m so thankful it carried all right as I am quite sure we couldn’t buy olive oil in this part of the country.”
Then the stove was brought in, set up and a fire built, that they might prepare their evening meal. But as tragedy sometimes stalks in the midst of pleasure, there was a terrific explosion. The stove was blown to pieces. The windows shattered. The logs between the door and window were blown out, the floor behind the stove was caved in. The father (Joshua Alvin Tolman) and mother (Mary Jane Gorringe Tolman) were thrown to the floor bruised and burned from bits of fire and iron. But in their great anxiety for their children they didn’t realize they were hurt.
They rushed to the bed where the baby (Owen) lay asleep. A hot lid lay very near his head, but aside from shock and choking from the smoke, he was unhurt.
The older boy (William Alvin) lay in a small bed behind the stove. The floor was crushed in just in front of his bed and a kitten killed that lay there asleep. The child’s face was so filled with powder that it was black. His neck from one ear to the other was burned so badly it didn’t seem possible that he could live.
The explosion was heard by the other families. My mother said, “Oh, something terrible has happened to Alvin and family.” Soon willing helpers were there and moved them across the street to John Albert’s home. Someone said, “We must have a doctor.” But where could one be found. The brave young wife and mother replied, “God will be our physician. He knows our helplessness and will bless us through the power of the Priesthood. Will someone get me that bottle of olive oil.” Someone went for it, never expecting to find it, but there it was standing upright among the broken dishes. A roll of cotton was also found. We were amazed as that courageous young mother dipped pieces of cotton in the olive oil and applied them to the suffering boy’s burns. “Now grandfather, you and brother William (Augustus) administer to him and he will rest.”
Fervently, everyone present said, “Amen” to that administration and in a few minutes the little fellow was asleep and slept until morning. Those burns all healed as nicely as though attended by the “Great Physician.”
“But what was the cause of the explosion?” you ask. As we were travelling through Corrine, father said to the rest of the company, “This is the last town we will pass through before reaching our destination. If there is anything you will need you had better buy it here, as the little store in Oakley may not have it.”
Brother Alvin thought of gun powder he would need in reloading his cartridges for his gun, that he might have a chance at the wild game so plentiful in the new country. After making his purchase he climbed upon the side of the wagon to put it away. The stove being nearest to him, he lifted the lids and laid it back of the fire box. He never thought of it again until after the explosion.
As Shakespeare says, “Men are men and the best sometimes forget.” And in this case we feel like Beecher, “God pardons like a mother who kisses the offense into everlasting forgetfulness.”
The little home was soon repaired and the family moved in and life for all of us in this new deseret country of Goose Creek, Idaho, was much the same as for Utah pioneers, except that the Indians that came begging or to exchange pine nuts for food were friendly and never went on the warpath.
Mother’s industry and love of the beautiful was the incentive for the planting of shrubs and flowers. Father made a journey across the valley to an old ranch known as the Land Ranch to obtain cuttings from some old poplar trees and to get some rose bushes. The soil was fertile and there was an abundance of water, so they were rewarded by seeing the things they planted and cared for grow and flourish.
Mother’s greatest anxiety at this time was the lack of educational advantages for her children and grandchildren. It was two years after our entering the valley before a school was built. The men, both young and old went to the canyon, cut and hauled the logs and built the schoolhouse, hewing the logs on the inside. The flooring, windows, and doors were hauled from Kelton, Utah–over 70 miles away. The dimensions of the schoolhouse were fourteen by twenty-eight feet. It served the community as church, school, and dance hall.
The next grave question confronting the pioneers was a market for their produce. There was no railroad in the valley. The grain had to be hauled by team and wagon to the mining roads that the people of today would say were not roads at all but just trails through the sagebrush and over flats.
The hauling of the grain to market was a job for my brothers, Alex (Aaron Alexander) and Judson (Isaac). How mother did worry about them for she had already lost her 12 year old son, Joseph, when he fell from a wagon pulled by a runaway team.
The road to market required the crossing of the great Snake River by ferry boat. One time the boat broke loose from the cable, drifted down the river a short distance, then in some miraculous manner, reached the opposite shore and all were saved.
Another time when the boys reached the river, on their return journey, the weather was very cold and the hour somewhat later than usual. They signaled and called, but Mr. Star would not bring the ferry boat over for them, so they had to camp at the river’s edge all night. The weather was so cold they were afraid they would freeze to death in bed in their wagons so they would go out and run up and down the road until they were warmed up, then cover up in bed, fall asleep a while only to wake before long, shaking with the cold and would have to get out and run again. The next morning the river was frozen over so they walked across on the ice and helped Mr. Star cut the ice in front of his ferry boat as he brought it over to ferry their teams and wagons across. I remember my mother’s anxiety while she was waiting for the boys to come home, and she would have to sit up until very late at night waiting for them. Sometimes she would let me sit up with her. How we would listen for the rumble of their wagons as they drew nearer. If we could hear them whistling, we knew it was our loved ones. To this day I love to hear a boy whistle.
Mother and father had an occasional trip to Salt Lake City to conference, or sometimes to work awhile in the temple. They were present at the laying of the capstone of the Salt Lake Temple, April 1893. How thrilled they were on that occasion when the thousands standing near the Temple waved their white handkerchiefs and shouted, “Hosanna, Hosanna, to God in the Highest!” How incredulous it would have seemed to mother and father had somebody told them that in the near future their children would be able to sit in their own homes and listen to the conferences, hearing every word distinctly and that the President of the Church with his co-workers would broadcast the gospel message to the world. Nor could they have believed that their children could have left the Goose Creek Valley early in the morning and arrived in Salt Lake in time for the ten o’clock session of conference. Travelling this same distance in their time took them six days with their covered wagons.
In the year 1884 all the farmers in the Goose Creek Valley suffered severe losses from the ravages of wild rabbits. With the determination to overcome the enemy, all the men and boys who could handle a gun met at a designated place. Then they divided into two companies and went out to kill the rabbits. The company killing the greatest numbers were the lucky ones and the losing side had to give a supper and dance to the victors. This bit of competition encouraged even the businessmen to take part. On the morning of January 13, 1885 more rabbits than ever before had been killed. Then they prepared to go back to their homes. But alas, fun and laughter can soon be turned into sorrow. When George S. Grant went to climb into the wagon to return home he placed his gun in first. The trigger caught on a seat spring and the gun discharged, killing George instantly. What a terrible shock this was to my mother. The grief and shock to my sister seemed to be more than she could bear. But she must live for her fourteen month old daughter and her baby yet unborn.
Another room was added to our home so that sister Alvaretta could come to live with us. Her little baby was born almost four months after its father’s death. Mother lived to see those two baby girls grow into young womanhood; and lovely girls they were too–a great comfort to both their mother and grandmother.
It was a great joy to both father and mother to have Alex, Judson and myself married for eternity in the Logan Temple. Each traveled the two hundred miles between Oakley and Logan by team and wagon.
“Sprinkled along the waste of years
Full many a soft green isle appears,
Pause where we may on the desert road,
Some shelter is in sight, some sacred safe abode.”
Father and mother were much consoled in their declining years thinking of their children and grandchildren. I remember their pride and joy when Judson, the youngest of the boys, filled a mission in the Southern States. Alex took care of the farm and of the aging father and mother. He was very good to them, never giving them an unkind word.
The testimony that God lives, that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him, was always with them. It seemed to cheat death of its sting.
During mother’s last illness, of just a few days duration, she told us she had finished her work. Her children were all married and had homes of their own. She was ready to go to rest. And when she realized that the end was very near she asked for father to come to her side so she could bid him goodbye. Father said, “Goodbye, Alice, I will soon be with you.” In less than a month we laid father to rest beside our mother. How blessed is he who knows we shall live again. Alice died 18 Aug 1901 in Marion, Cassia, Idaho.
“The stars may fade away,
The sun grow dim with age
And nature sink in years;
Yet man shall flourish in immortal youth
Unhurt amidst the ways of elements,
The wreck of tatter, and the crash of worlds.”
Dear father went to his death with a most faithful testimony of life after death. One morning when I came into his room after he had spent a very painful night he said, “Baby girl, I bear my testimony to you that I know there is life after death. Last night, when I was suffering severely, my spirit was ready to take its flight. It seemed there were two of us, my body and spirit side by side. I long……………….I am going home. I will remember the place where I used to live before I came into this existence. I hope you will always keep the faith and bear this testimony to your children and grandchildren.”
My dear mother also had a very strong testimony of life after death, but during her life she frequently longed for a home and surroundings of more artistic beauty. She longed for an education and for beautiful clothes. Once she confided to me the wish for a silk dress, a wish that could so easily be satisfied today; but one that she never realized.
“Dear sweet mother Queen, though long my eyes were dried
I hear your voice across the years and all the garner for my pride
It’s mem’ry that time endears. When days are drab and nothing cheers,
If you within my thoughts abide,
I hear your voice across the years, and peace folds down at eventide.”
These are some additional little things Aunt Minnie Pickett wrote down about her mother and father and her childhood home as she remembered them.
Mother was a woman of her word. If she promised her children a reward for good behavior or work well done, or punishment for a misdeed, we knew she would keep her word.
I like to picture my father and mother as a fine-looking couple; father, tall, well built, nut brown hair and the bluest of blue eyes that seemed to twinkle with goodwill and a kindly feeling for everyone. Mother, about five feet four inches tall, somewhat slender, girlish figure with large soulful dark brown eyes; light brown hair that formed a curly frame for her beautiful complexion. Her beauty did not fade, even though the years brought so many hardships.
Even after she had given birth to her thirteen (fourteen) children, people often told her she didn’t have a daughter as beautiful as herself. In her sixty-ninth year just nine days before her death when she was present at an old folks reunion in the Cassia Stake, Brother John L. Smith, one of the presidency, made this remark, “Sister Tolman looks like an angel today.”
I like to think that father and mother were destined to marry. Sometime after father’s first wife died, leaving a baby girl, he dreamed he was out walking with his baby in his arms. The shawl around the baby slipped off and fell to the ground. A beautiful young girl picked up the shawl and gently wrapped it around the baby. When he awoke he said, “That young lady is to be my baby’s step-mother.” When he met Alice Bracken he recognized her as the girl of his dream.
Our kitchen was a large room. One half of the room was covered with homemade carpet. Mother saved all cotton clothes of the family, then when she had accumulated enough for a few yards of carpet she would cut and tear the clothes into strips an inch or more in width and sew them together, wind into balls and take to someone who had a loam for weaving carpet and the carpet rags, as they were called, wove into strips of carpet. Then the strips were cut the desired length, sewn together then tacked onto the floor; but first the floor was covered with fresh, clean straw. That made the carpet easy to sweep; the dust sifting through the carpet and straw onto the floor. In a few weeks or months the carpet was taken up, hung over the clothesline, shook or beaten. The straw and accumulated dust were removed, fresh straw was scattered over the floor, and the carpet was tacked down. This carpeted part of the house was the sitting room. A small table or stand with a basket with her knitting, her thread, thimble and scissors ready for mending.
I can see her after a hard day of whitewashing and housecleaning; sitting down to rest, a tired but sweet, satisfied look on her face, and so tired but so glad it is all done. How good the new whitewash and clean straw smelled.
The other half of this room was the kitchen. The floor was bare but scrubbed so clean and white it was really beautiful. Near the door was the washbench and washcloth, the brass kettle, so bright and shiny full of water, the table and cupboard, and the stove. How black and shiny mother kept the stove which was an old fashioned charter oak with a hearth out in front and by opening two doors the bright fire would shine through the gate onto the clean, polished hearth.
I remember two shelves in this room, both covered with clean, white covers, edged with lace of her own making. On one shelf was the eight day clock and perhaps a vase of flowers or an ornament. On the other rested the mirror that was held in place by a heavy cord fastened to a nail in the wall.
On nails behind the door hung my father’s and brother’s coats and hats or caps. In the bedroom was the bureau with a heavy marble top. I have never seen another like it. The bedsteads were wooden, four posters, I believe they were called.
(Author’s Note: Alice Bracken grew up in the countryside of England and likely had some carefree days there as a child. When her parents heard the message of the gospel they felt compelled to immigrate to America and join the saints in Nauvoo. Alice’s Bracken Grandparents evidently came to America with them, as they both died in New York in 1946 and 1947. It was discovered in 1975 that the Brackens had come from the Quaker faith in England and Alice’s grandparents joined with that faith in New York as well. Therefore they did not cross the plains with the rest of the family. Alice’s three youngest brothers and youngest sister were born in Niagra County, New York, where the entire family had spent some time working to save enough money for the trip west. They arrived in Nauvoo too late to meet the Prophet Joseph and found the saints were preparing to leave for the Salt Lake Valley. Joshua Bracken, Alice’s father, died on the plains of Iowa but her mother and the children continued their journey to Zion. Alice met and married Cyrus and was in the third trimester of her pregnancy when she made the difficult trek from the Elkhorn River to Fort Bridger where her first child, Cyrus Ammon, was born. Such were the trials of a pioneer woman.) (Cyrus Tolman: Father, Frontierman, Pioneer by Loraine Pace, Second Edition, 2006, Square One Printing Inc, Logan, Utah, pages 75-85.