WILFORD HATCH TOLMAN
25 Mar 1906 – 29 Sep 1997
Son of Jaren Thomas and Lora E. Hatch Tolman
I was born on the 25th day of March, 1906, to Jaren Thomas Tolman and Lora E. Hatch. I was the fifth child in a family of twelve. The first remembrance I have as a child is being up on a railroad where Dad was working, and we lived in a tent. I don’t remember too much about it, but I remember a few incidents of being there and being in the tent, having a dirt floor and things like that.
The next remembrance I have is living in the Bishop Jolley home with Dad and Mother and Uncle Judson and Aunt Pauline’s family. We all lived in the same house. It was a big house. How long we lived there I do not know. Then we moved up on the bench where I lived for some time. Dad bought a farm, 40 acres of sagebrush, and built a log house and broke the ground. Water was brought to us by a canal in this part of the country. We had a farm there, and I lived there until I was over eight years old. Then we bought the farm below us of 40 acres which gave us 80 acres, and that was on the main road. Dad built a house. It was a log house too, but it was trimmed logs and had a shingled roof where the other house had a dirt roof. We lived there from that time until we left and came to Utah.
One of the incidents I remember, and it is a testimony to me and to all who remember, is my little brother Newel having a bad abscess and unable to get better. Our doctor was Dr. Croft. He was a Stake President in that stake in that part of the country. He said there was nothing we could do and if anything could be done, it would be through the Lord. He and others administered to him and nothing happened. One morning at family prayer Dad knelt down and asked the Lord that if it be His will that he should bet better, that he would so do, and if not, that he would be relieved of his suffering. We all left and went to school and hadn’t been there an hour until they came and got us and brought us home and said that he was passing away. Around 5:00 that night, I was standing by the crib watching him. Just before he died, he had a frown on his face like he was in pain and then a smile came upon his face as he passed away. At that time they didn’t do like they do now. They didn’t have a mortuary. They built a casket and had a funeral. I don’t remember anything about the funeral, but I remember Mother holding the casket on her lap and taking him to the cemetery. Newel was born on the 11th day of June 1916, in Lovell, Wyoming. He died the 26th of March, 1917, one day after my birthday. To me that was one of the testimonies of the gospel that has stayed with me the rest of my life, that I was able to remember that occasion when Dad asked the Lord for his help in this ordeal and that his prayer was answered almost immediately.
Some other things I remember—the closest telephone to us was about five miles. When someone was sick and we had to have a doctor, I would have to get on a horse and ride that distance and telephone Dr. Croft who lived about nine miles away in the town of Cowley, and he would come by horse and buggy and attend to the sick. If there were times that he knew someone was sick and he was in the town of Lovell, he could come up to the house and see how they were doing. He never charged for those things when he would come on his own to visit and look after the sick. He was not only the Stake President in that area, but he was the doctor who looked after all the people in the three towns for a long time. He was a good man, and I looked up to him all my life.
The first bishop that I remember was Bishop Carlton. He was our bishop for all the time I can remember. The first Sunday School class I remember when I was a young boy in Lovell was going to his mother’s, Sister Carlton, and she taught us in Sunday School. The thing I remember most was when we sang “Little purple pansies growing in the garden of old.” That song to me was one I have always remembered, and I have had quite an attachment to pansies from that one thing.
I went to school in Lovell. It was the only grade school, and we lived better than a mile from school. The first year that I went I got pneumonia and was sick and out of school for a long time. I was really sick. I stayed there in bed and I guess had nothing to eat for a long time. I remember my Uncle Truman coming to see us. He came in to see how I was. I knew they were there and I tried to get out of bed. I was so weak that I couldn’t stand up and couldn’t get back in bed. When he came in he said, “You’ve got a boy on the floor here.” Mother came in and put me back to bed. The first thing I can remember having to eat was a piece of bread with hot water poured on it and a little salt and pepper. That tasted to me like the best food I had ever eaten. I tried it some time later on my own to see, and it didn’t taste the same. I guess I wasn’t as hungry then as I had been at the time. When I had recovered enough that I could get out of bed, I was unable to walk and had to learn to walk all over again with the help of brothers and sisters and Mother holding onto me.
The year I was in the fifth grade I quit school two months early to work on the farm. Dad said if I would help on the farm, he would buy me a bicycle. I was happy to get a bicycle. That was quite a deal. From then on I went to school about four months out of the year.
There was one thing in my school that I remember when they were having a contest. My teacher brought a girl down who was two grades higher than me and we had a contest in adding. I guess she figured that I was pretty good in arithmetic. She gave us a long problem and the girl beat me by just a second or two; but when they were checked, her problem was wrong and mine was right. So I actually won the contest. I never was very good in reading and spelling and English and those things, so I was a poor reader.
The last year I attended school, due to my size and all, I helped get the beets up and then went to work at the sugar factory and worked there until I went to school and then left so I could be at the sugar factory to work from 3:00 until 12:00. Then I went home. We only worked there a short time and went to school maybe two or three weeks. Then we left and came to Utah. That was the end of my school and as far as I got. I never got any further, only to the eighth grade, and part of that was on my size. So actually I never went to school after I was fifteen years old.
I remember a few incidents that impressed me throughout my life. One was when we were up in the hills gathering the cattle and some of the boys there wanted to smoke and didn’t have any matches. I went in to my Aunt Pauline’s and got some matches for them so they could smoke. They wanted me to, but I said, “No, I don’t do that.” They said, “Oh, you’re too close to home, that’s all.” And I said, “No, that isn’t the reason.” But anyway, I didn’t smoke and I have never taken a cigarette in my life. There was one time that impressed that on my mind more than anything else. It was when I was quite young on a spring trip from school to the river bottom. A lot of them were smoking this “punk wood” they called it. It had holes in it and drew good. I was trying it too. My older brother came down to get me on a horse because it was time to go home. He caught me smoking that thing, and I was so ashamed and asked him and made him promise that he wouldn’t tell Mother. And I was his slave for two or three months. Whether he ever told her or not, she never mentioned it. But that bothered me so much that I never did have a desire to have anything to do with smoking.
Another incident I remember was when I was about twelve years old. We were looking for some cattle. Dad sent me, and the rest of the fellows were older men. We went to a place down on the Big Horn River. It was just a whistle stop for the railroad and they had a place there where people could go in and get a bed and something to eat. That night when they fixed our supper, they asked me if I wanted coffee and I told them, “No, I didn’t care for any.” They asked if I wanted milk, and I said, “No.” I never was one for drinking milk so I just had water. They were quite surprised. They couldn’t believe anyone who didn’t drink coffee; they had never heard of it. The people I was with, one of them especially, he told them that I was a Mormon and that they didn’t believe in those things. He said he wasn’t a Mormon himself, but he had a lot of respect for those people. The next morning when we had breakfast, everybody drank coffee for breakfast. I told them, “No, I didn’t care for any.” They could hardly believe it. There I was, a boy of twelve years old, away from home for about three days with this group of men. They had a lot of respect for me to think that I was able to withstand those temptations. That was one incident.
Another incident was when we were up in the hills looking for the cattle and a man stopped me and wanted to know if I had a match. I said, “No, I haven’t. I don’t have any use for them.” He said, “Well, young fellow, keep it up. It’s a dirty habit and one not to be proud of.” So that made me feel better to think it was coming from someone who was using tobacco and didn’t try to get me to take it.
The summer before we came to Utah, my Uncle got a contract building a road up in the Big Horn Canyon. They were building a road down that canyon where there had never been one. So I went up there and drove a four horse scraper team for Dad working for my Uncle for about two months. Dad was home taking care of the farm and the other boys. I had to work from the time I was small. I remember running the mowing machine when I was just a young boy. I wasn’t big enough to get on the seat. They put the seat down as far as it would go and I still couldn’t sit on the seat and touch my feet. So I would just get up on there and lean against the bar that went up to the seat and drive and mow hay. We had what they called bullrakes and stackers at that time, and I ran the stacker team for awhile. When my next brother got old enough to run the stacker team, then I got on a bullrake. I was only about twelve years old at the most running one of those big machines, but they were so constructed that I was able to handle them. We worked with Uncle George Saxton for one year putting up hay, and we had enough hay that we were all summer long putting up hay. We would just get through with the first crop and then have to start on the second and then the third. I remember running that mowing machine with Uncle George up on the place at Bishop Jolley’s farm. Dad and he had rented it. So I was taught to work from the time that I was young.
Uncle George was quite a playful man and a likeable fellow. There was one trip when we had two big stacks of hay up and we had stopped for lunch. I had crawled in between the two stacks to take a nap during the noon time. All at once I heard a rattling them and hollering whoa. He thought that would be a good way to get me up and get me going, which it was! I was up on my feet and ready to go after he got through. But that was the type of fellow he was. He was playful and an enjoyable man to be around.
We raised beets a lot and had hired help to thin them and hoe them and top them. So I was elected to help haul them. Dad would have a hired man—sometimes it was my Uncle or sometimes just a hired man. But I would have to take the wagon and be throwing them on by hand. I was too small to use a beet fork. When he would get his loaded, he would come and load mine and then we would take them to the dump which was about two miles from where we were farming. In the fall I would have to get up around 4:00 in the morning. We had the horses up about a mile from where we lived up on another farm that didn’t have beets so they were able to pasture them out at night. I would get the horses and bring them home. We would get them hooked up and ready to go by 7:00 in the morning so we could be down to the beet dump when it opened. Sometimes they wouldn’t have enough cars to haul them so they would stack them in piles. One fall Dad took a contract—they paid so much a ton to haul them up and load them in the cars at the dump after the beets were done. Well, he had some of the Mexican fellows load them and we took two wagons down there. I would pull one wagon up to the beets and they would load it. Then I would hook the horses on the loaded wagon and take it up and empty it and bring it back and hook the horses on the other one. I did that all day. It made pretty good money. They got so much for loading and we got so much for hauling. I was just a young fellow at the time. Nowadays you see young boys of that age and wonder if they could do it.
One trip Dad left his coat down at the beet dump and told me to go down and get it. I said, “Well can I drive the car?” We got a car in about 1918 just before the Fourth of July, which made me twelve years old. This was in the fall. My older brother had always driven the car because he was seven years older than me. He asked me if I knew how to drive it and I said, “Sure, I know how to drive it.” I had never driven by myself. He had let me do it a couple of times on my own with him there, but that was all. So I went down and didn’t have any problems. In those days you didn’t have to have a drivers license and there was no restriction on age or anything that way. From then on I drove the car whenever it was needed. Dad never did drive the car. He had an accident one time when a little boy jumped out in front of him from a school bus. He wasn’t hurt, but Dad never drove the car after that so when he had to go somewhere, one of us would have to take him.
I can remember the first car that came to our town. I was just a small boy. We went to Byron to a Fourth of July deal, which was about nine miles. We went there in the buggy and a car passed us, a touring car. They passed us and the next thing we knew we would see them up the road with a flat tire and we would pass them. We kept doing that all the way to town. I don’t know which one got there first. I know they had to stop four or five times on the way, so they didn’t get there much quicker than we did. We used to have those celebrations for the three Mormon towns, Byron, Cowley and Lovell. They would take turns having celebrations on the 4th and 24th. All of the people from the three towns would go there for the celebration. They would have parades and rodeos and everything else that pertained to the 4th and 24th of July celebrations. It was quite a deal.
Our farms up there had the alkali all come up on them so that you couldn’t raise anything. The depression hit. Dad bought a bunch of sheep for around $10 or $12 a head, and they went down to where they were only worth $3, o in 1922 it got to where a lot of the farmers up there lost everything they had and had to move out without anything except their furniture and things, maybe a team, and turn the rest over to the bank. In the first part of November, 1922, we left—Mother and Dad and all of us but Perry and Garnet. They stayed there to kind of watch over things, and we came down to Utah. Uncle Judson and his family stayed there too. About two months later, they rented a car and put their belongings and a couple of teams of horses and a cow and shipped them down to Utah. We had come down to Bountiful and lived with my grandmother and grandfather, O. P. Hatch. He was building a house at that time. I was quite handy with things so I helped him work on the house at that time. I was only 16. He showed me how to wire it. He taught me some of the best joints at that time to make on wiring. They were real solid and stable. I helped him and wired, with his instructions, most of that house and helped him finish building it. We lived there until along in January when we rented a place down in Lehi which had two houses on it and a bunch of chickens. It was a big farm, and we rented it for us and Uncle Judson.
Then in about February or March, Uncle Judson, Garnet and Perry came. We drove from Lehi to Salt Lake to meet them. We drove a team of horses which took us about eight hours. We got to the railroad depot. They were supposed to be there that next morning, and they didn’t show up. The train didn’t get in until that afternoon about 4:00, so we had to stay there until the train came in. When we got ready to unload, they wouldn’t let us unload the car because it was a little overloaded and we owed $10 on the shipping of that car from Lovell. Uncle Judson didn’t have any money on him and Dad didn’t have any, so we went over to my Uncle Spencer, Mother’s brother. He was a barber, and Dad borrowed $10 from him and brought it back so we could pay the railroad the rest of the money they owed on this shipment. Then we unloaded the stock and furniture. By that time it was dark so we stayed there that night, bunked out on the ground. We got everything loaded and left about 4:00 in the morning from 1st North and about 4th West and headed for Lehi. It was around 2:00 by the time we got to the Point of the Mountain. We stopped and had some lunch and went on from there. We had the cow following along behind the wagon. When we got about two miles from the ranch, she gave out and couldn’t go any farther. So we left her there and went on to the ranch. It was about 10:00 that night. We went back the next morning and got the cow and brought her to the ranch. It was Uncle Judson’s’ cow. We didn’t have a cow at that time. We had the chickens on the ranch to help bring in a little bit of money to help live on.
The rest of the kids went to school in Lehi that winter, but I didn’t go to school at all. I helped around the place, taking care of the chickens and things like that until along about March of 1923. I went down to my Uncle Truman’s who worked at the railroad. He said there were a couple of men who got fired for fighting and that they had two openings. So my brother and I went to the railroad. He was seven years older than me. He was old enough. It was the 7th of March and he asked me how old I was. I said I was 19 and he said that that wasn’t old enough. So he gave my brother a job and we turned and walked about 50 yards away from there. I turned around and went back and I asked him again for a job. He said, “You’re the guy who was just in here, aren’t you?” I said yes. If I had said no, he would have jumped right over the desk at me, knowing what he was. He was an old Welchman. But, by telling the truth, he said he would give me a job but I would have to have a minor’s release. I figured that was all right and I went over to the master mechanic’s office. He asked me how old I was and I told him which I had raised up two years in about 20 days then. But he said I’d have to tell them I was 21. So I went on up to the doctor’s for an examination. He wanted to know how old I was, and I said 21. I came back with my papers and took them over to the first man, the car foreman. He started cussing a little and called up the other office. They told him it was okay, so he swore a little more and told me to go to work that night at 8:00 at the coach yard. And that’s when I started my railroad career. I worked from 8:00 at night until 4:30 in the morning. My brother and I got a room up on Richards Street just a little south of the temple, and we stayed there for a month and a half. I don’t remember what we did for eating. We ate out somewhere. When we got home the room was cold because everybody else was asleep. We would just get to bed and get sound asleep. By that time they would turn on the heat and it would get hotter than you could imagine. So we would have to throw the covers off to keep from cooking. We stayed for a month and a half and then our cousin, Marinda Kitchen and her husband, Landrum Kitchen, moved into a place on 3rd South and about 3rd East. He was going to a jewelry school and they didn’t have much money, so we decided to pay them for the room and the board and we would go up there in the morning and wait until they got up and we would go to bed while they were up during the day. That way we helped them out as well as having some place to stay. We did that for a couple of months. Then my brother quit the railroad, so I went up and stayed with my grandmother Hatch in Bountiful and lived there all summer long. I went back and forth to work on the old Bamberger. They lived right close to the Bamberger depot and it worked out very good. I found that it was easy to make peanut butter sandwiches, so most of the time I had peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. I lived there until along in the fall. I don’t remember just when, but it was kind of late in the fall. The folks moved to Sandy, bought a place there. Shortly after we had been there, along about the first of November, my sister Nancy made a blind date for me with a young lady who turned out to be Donna Boulter, my sweetheart. We had a long courtship and enjoyed being together. We used to go to the theater for entertainment. My brother Perry got acquainted with her girl friend, Delores Alsop. The four of us used to go together to the entertainment. He later went on a mission. I traveled back and forth on the bus from Sandy to work. We had planned to get married in November of 1925, but Donna’s mother wanted us to wait until April of 1926. So we planned on getting married in April. The date was set for the 14th of April at which time we were married in the temple and moved to 27th South and State Street and lived in a little duplex there for a few months. Then we found a home on 2720 Edison Street and paid $25 for a man’s equity which he had paid on the place which was around $152. We gave him that money for his equity and moved over there and lived there.
Our first child was born the 9th of June, 1927, which we named Cleon Boulter Tolman. He was born in Murray, Utah, in a maternity home there. We enjoyed him although he was a noisy or crying baby from the time I got home from work until the time to go to bed. We would take him for a ride. When we took him for a ride, he was good.
Our next son was born the 12th of January 1929. We named him Don Boulter Tolman. They were not too far apart, so we had two young children. I worked at the railroad. In 1924, I left the coach yard and went up to the car department at the rep track and worked up there in the car department which I enjoyed much more than I did the coach yard, which was cleaning cars, cleaning windows, and things like that. I was doing mechanical work at the rep track.
On the 17th of November, 1933, our third son, Max Boulter Tolman, was born. He was a nice baby too. My sister Nancy and Grace said they would like to adopt him. He was the most pleasant baby that you could find, and they really enjoyed him as their nephew.
Our children were the first grandchildren my parents had and also Donna’s parents, so they got a lot of spoiling from their grandparents.
I worked seven days a week at the railroad until 1930. The depression started coming and I was cut back to five days a week and finally went to work at the depot on an afternoon shift and worked there for a long time from 4:00 until 12:00. I didn’t mind the work, but it cut into the evenings so that Donna was pretty much alone at that time.
On the 2nd of June, 1937, our fourth boy was born. He was a wonderful boy too. We named him Gale Boulter Tolman. We enjoyed our family and grew up with them. We spent our time and money, what little bit we had, with them. I was working for around $3 a day and five days a week. That wasn’t very much money. During the depression I was laid off from the car department and had to go back to the coach yard for about a year and a half. At that time I was making $2.95 a day and working six days a week in the coach yard. My total income was around $70 a month take home pay. We got by some way and kept our heads above water.
In about 1933, I went back to the rep track which I enjoyed, as I said before, very much more than I did the coach yard. We worked there five days a week for a long time. Finally, in 1941, I was advanced to a mechanic. Sometime during that time I received my first check for $100 for two weeks’ pay. We though we had the world by the tail end to be getting that much money.
In 1942 we got our first vacation. We took Max and Gale and went to San Francisco on the train and had an enjoyable time with them. It was all new to them and new to us to have a vacation. We spent five days in San Francisco and then went to Los Angeles and visited Donna’s sister Erma and her husband and family and then came home.
Shortly after that, I went to work in the round house and there our job was to work on the tenders of the locomotives and I had several experiences that were quite interesting. One of them was where we had a tender that was leaning to one side so far that it was knocking the doors off in the round house when it went in. The foreman told me to fix that up some way if I could so it could make one more trip and then they would put it in the shop for annual repairs. I told him to get me the center castings for that and we would see what we could do with it. He said that the other man had been working on that engine for 15 years fighting it, and it would give them trouble all the time. They’d shimmed the one side up as far as they could get it and would keep trying to lean it over and it would still have that problem. So we put it in the back shop and took out all the shims and welded up the worn parts on the back end of it and we set the center casting one inch to the side that it was tipped on all the time and put it back together and welded everything up in shape. We took it out on the turntable and measured it, and it wasn’t out a sixteenth of an inch from one side to the other. The turntable was level so you could tell by that how it was. The foreman was so happy about that that he commented on it several times and gave me a little praise on the fact that they had trouble with it for over 15 years ever since it was new. I checked it several times in the year that I worked there, and it was still running perfect when I left the round house.
I went back to the car department and worked there out in the train yards inspecting cars and working on that, some of it night shift. Then I got back on days and worked on the repair track at different jobs and did different types of work. Then finally I was doing steel work on the cars, fixing up cars that were broken and torn down. Then I got a job going on the road repairing cars that were broken down on the road and doing that type of work. I had quite a lot of experiences on those things, getting out there not knowing what we were going to get into. We would have to makeshift different things to get by and get them back into the shop. And never once did we have to return home without the job done so that they could be moved to the next point. We had a tool car with a boom on it we used to change the wheels and lift them, and that was in such bad shape that you could hardly get the wheels back on the car. So my boss said, “Can you make a boom that will hold up on that thing?” I said, “Well, I don’t know. I will see what I can find.” I went and talked to a couple machinists, one of them was our bishop in Central Park Ward, Glen Stoker, and told him what I had in mind. Then I talked to the machinist who was doing the repairs on the machinery. He was an outstanding machinist. They said they figure it would work. So I went over and found some angle iron that I wanted. It was 4” x 8”, a half inch thick. They had two pieces, so it was just long enough that I cut it in two and put the 8” and 4” together and made it so it was a 12” box and had that welded. Then I built a circle around the box and first had it turned and fit so we could put ¾” rollers in it, top and bottom, so that it would turn. It turned out to be a real good job. One man could push it around with the heaviest wheels we had and put the wheels back on the car without any problem. I worked it for two or three years myself and was real happy with the way it turned out.
One day the general car foreman for the Union Pacific System came and was looking around and asked the boss where the blueprint was for that tool car. He said that was the best one that he had seen on a Union Pacific system. He said he wanted one built for Ogden. The boss said there was no blueprint, that the man who built it had the blueprint in his head. He said he would come down and get some measurements and have one built. So I thought that was a pretty good compliment. Union Pacific was a pretty good sized railroad and had a lot of shops. When he said that was the best one he had seen on the Union Pacific system, it made me feel pretty proud of myself to think that I was able to construct something like that.
I worked at different jobs doing different steel work and making different things to improve and help make the work easier for the men that were working there.
I will now go back to my Church activities. I was ordained a deacon July 7, 1918; a teacher October 17, 1921; a priest December 7, 1924. I was ordained an elder March 14, 1926, a month before I was married. I was ordained a seventy February 6, 1942; a high priest March 21, 1954. Those were the times I advanced to each position in the priesthood from a deacon to a high priest.
After we were married we lived on State Street for two months and then bought the home on Edison Street and went to church a few times. Every time we would go, the Bishop would ask us if we were new members for some time because I worked Sundays a lot and then we would go out to Sandy. Finally, one Sunday morning I went to Priesthood Meeting. We had been married aobut five years I guess, and Brother Livingston was over the Aaronic Priesthood. He came and asked me if I would help in the Aaronic Priesthood. I wasn’t a teacher and couldn’t do much at that, but I worked at it and did the best I could. He left after awhile and Bishop Fox, who was our bishop then, came to me and asked me if I wanted to take the job which was called then I think Secretary of the Aaronic Priesthood. I told him no, I would sooner do what I was doing. He accepted that very easily. He was happy that I really didn’t want the job as head of the Aaronic Priesthood. So he got another man to take over. After about six months, he never came and did anything towards keeping up the records or anything.
Six months later, the bishop came to me and asked me this time in a way that I couldn’t say no. I didn’t have a chance to turn him down. It was kind of interesting to me the difference in the way the two calls were made. I worked with the Aaronic Priesthood for about 15 years. We had the Aaronic Priesthood day once a year, and I had boys and everything lined up to be on the program. We got up there at the time we were supposed to have the program. A couple of them didn’t show up and it was a flop. I made up my mind the following year I was either going to have a good program or I wasn’t going to stay in any longer. So I started in February getting the boys together. We got a quartet, four boys, and I took them to Sister Walker’s and she helped them to sing. I assigned the talks out to the boys and we promised to take them up to Timpanogas if they all turned out. That night at Sacrament Meeting there was only one boy who was not able to be there. He was the bishop’s son, but he got someone else to take over his talk, so we had a good turnout. Everybody was there and it was a success. I felt like I had accomplished something. I had started in February, and that was in May. Every week we had something doing towards getting that going. We promised them a trip to Timpanogas and had about 75% of the Aaronic Priesthood out to that meeting that night so it was really a success. Later on, Bishop Stoker was put in as bishop. He asked me to be one of the counselors in the Young Men’s Mutual. I worked in that for a year or a little longer. The man who was president wasn’t able to be there very much, so I was left more or less in charge of that. The next year when they reorganized, he came and asked me to be the president of the Mutual. I didn’t want to be, but couldn’t say no. Knowing my weaknesses, I was unable to do the job that I was really satisfied with, but I tried to do the best I could when I took over the job. I worked in the Mutual for about two years.
Then we moved to Bountiful. I was working nights when we moved to Bountiful and was building my house. That was February 22, 1949. Don had been called on a mission and been set apart and ready to go. We came up to Bountiful on the 22nd of February, and he left for his mission on the 23rd. So he really didn’t live at home in Bountiful until he came home from his mission. We bought a basement house which was owned by Uncle Leo and proceeded to finish that house. We worked on it, me and the boys, Gale and Max, during the winter and put a subfloor down. I talked to a lot of the oldtimers about the east wind. We had lots of east wind that winter. They said there weren’t any east winds after June, so June 2nd, which was Gale’s birthday, we proceeded to jack up the roof. We got it jacked up and set down on the studs when the east wind started to blow. It blew for three days. Aunt Carrie called up the first morning after it started to blow and wanted to know if the roof was still there. I said, “Well, I guess it is. I haven’t heard any crash.” The neighbors around said that they knew that that roof would blow away. I think we were blessed by the Lord. The fact that Don was on a mission and we had done all we could in our power to keep it from blowing away. I think that the Lord helped us from that point on. We completed the house and moved from the basement to the upstairs in 1950 and rented the basement to Mr. Hibler and his wife and son and their two sons. They lived there for some time.
After coming to Bountiful, I was approached in about 1952 to be in the Mutual again with Brother Roy Miller. I worked with him for two or three years and enjoyed it. He was a fine man to work with, and the Young Women were very good, too, to work with. I had an enjoyable time.
Don came home from his mission in 1951. He and Hazel met over at the ward in Mutual and started courting and were later married.
I worked in the Mutual until the ward was divided. Then they came and asked me to be the president again. I said no, that I didn’t think I would like to take the job. So they got someone else to be president of the Mutual. Shortly after that, they put me in as a Ward Teacher Supervisor over a district. They had three districts. I worked at that until 1958 when they divided the ward again and called me to be the High Priest Group Leader. I tried to get them to get someone else and I would help, be one of the counselors. President Miller was president of the High Priest quorum, and he said no. He said, “I want you to be the group leader.” So I finally consented, knowing my weaknesses. There were lawyers and doctors and all those in the group and me with a limited education—I felt inadequate to take over the job. But I worked together with my counselors which were Mel Campbell and Harold Chambers to start with. Then at the time we started building our new chapel, they put in Harold Chambers as the building committee secretary and I had to find another counselor. So I had a neighbor I had become acquainted with through ward teaching. His name was Alvin Kimber. So I asked President Miller about getting him for one of the counselors. He said it would be fine, I could go talk to him. He hadn’t been too active up till then. We talked to him and he was more than happy to work with us and was a very good worker in the group. We worked as a group and did most of the visiting, the three or four of us with our secretary which was Loren Hayes at the time. We met at my place every Wednesday for about six years. There were very few times, only when we were on vacation, that we missed. We went to the temple as a group one day a month and had the respect of most of our members in the quorum.
I was then released in June of 1964, having had problems with my arm. I had a lump and they operated and found it was cancerous. I was released. I had several operations on the arm and on December 7, 1967, I had my arm removed. I thought the bad part would be getting along without the arm, but I found out that was a small part of it, but the main part of it was the pain which they call “phantom pain’ which was almost unbearable. I have had that throughout my life up until now, which is April of 1979.
I worked at the railroad until the time that my arm was removed and then was retired on disability on the count of having only one arm. I later went to work at the Deseret Industries for two and a half years, not knowing what I was going to do. I had a very understanding foreman. He put me on repairing lawnmowers which I found I could do very adequately with one hand. I did lots of things that I didn’t realize I could with my handicap. I even got to using the welder and was braising different parts. I got to where I was braising sewing machine parts before I left there. They put me in charge of the mechanical department. With the help of one of my men who was of Mexican descent, who was a very nice man and a good helper, who was willing to do anything that I asked him to do-— called him my “right hand”—and we were doing most of the repairs on the machinery and things that were there in the plant. I worked there until April of 1971 when I turned 65, on March 25, and I had lived all of my life to be able to retire. I worked at the railroad for 45 years as it was and then two and a half years at Deseret Industries, so I figured I was able to retire.
Mother said that I could go to the temple and do temple work, but I couldn’t see how I could do it with one hand. She said they would make provisions for it if I would go, but I didn’t go. I went and witnessed sealing a lot of times and also baptisms. In 1972 we had a Tolman reunion and went to Ogden with the Tolman family on a reunion at the temple. I went through and had my son Don with me, so I figured he could help with what I needed. I found that the workers were more than willing to do the things that were necessary and help me dress, so from then on I started going to the temple. I went a lot of times twice a week, two sessions at a time. I went there until November of 1977 when I had troubles with my heart. It wasn’t working as good as it could, so I had to quit. I didn’t go very much in 1978. The tail end of 1978 I was feeling better and thought I was really back and I was going good, went to Ogden and got three and then came back to priesthood session and did one, which made four that day, and went the next week. By the 9th of November, I had done ten endowments for that month, one more than there were days in the month. But in the middle of the month I had problems again and wasn’t able to go. I didn’t go in December and went once in January and once in February. I have now started again going. I went to Ogden the last two weeks and got two a week and, if I get to feeling better, even more.
I will go back to some of our vacations. As a mentioned before it was 1942 before I had a paid vacation and that was two weeks at the time. From then on we started to get vacations. Even though it was during the war when it was hard to go places, I arranged to go somewhere during that time. The time we went to San Francisco with Max and Gale you could only get a hotel room for five days. That was why we stayed only five days. We would get up in the morning and go out on the bus to the different places of interest and come back at night and really enjoyed ourselves. We saw a lot of things.
Then we went to different places. Don had gotten married and gone in the service and was down in Houston, Texas, so we went down there and were there when the twins had their birthday. We had an enjoyable time with them, being our first time in Texas. After we left Texas, we went up through Mississippi and Tennessee and over across the river and into Nauvoo and visited with the Wickers at the John Taylor home in Nauvoo. We saw Nauvoo at that time and then came home from there. That was one trip that I remember.
Later on, in 1958, we took Grandma Boulter and Donna and I and went back across the Mormon Trail. That was pretty much the way we went, to Fort Bridger and on up to different places, to Adam-ondi-Ahman and Nauvoo and Liberty Jail and Carthage Jail. Then we went back east to New York City and spent a few days there, then to Washington D. c. and back through Virginia and Kentucky. We saw a lot of pretty country and things and came on home from there.
Since then we have been back twice more, once with our friends, Orville & Helen Hall. We took practically the same route that we did the first time. In 1964 we went back with Lester Catmull and his wife Ada and went some of the places. We went to the pageant that time. The other time was in May so the pageant wasn’t on, but that time I had my vacation so we could go to the pageant. We saw the pageant and then went on to Kirtland, Ohio, to the temple and had a visit there and then went to New York where the world fair was at the time. We visited the world fair and saw the church exhibit they had there and saw the play. There was a colored lady that came out and said, “See, you have got to make your own happiness. It doesn’t come by itself; you have got to make it for yourself.” It was quite impressive to me. There were different ones. There was a lady who married a Tolman. Her husband and none of his family were members of the church, but she visited the fair in New York and joined the church and came out here to Utah and lived in Orem and has done a lot of research work and temple work for her family and other families. She has done more work than most of us who have been born in the church just in the time that she has belonged to the church.
With the Catmulls we went on up through New York up into Boston and then on up through the New England states into Canada and over to Quebec which was very interesting. Most of the people there, over half of them, speak French. We got guides and took a tour through that ancient town which was built and controlled by different ones. The last was France. We left there and went down to Montreal and to Ottawa and back into the states through North Dakota, Montana and on home from there.
Later we went with this same couple, the Catmulls, to Mexico. We went through Eagle Pass and traveled through the desert for the most part of one day and then went over and stayed in Monterrey that night. It was really an interesting town. Then we followed the gulf side which would have been from 50 to 100 miles from the coast, but we didn’t see the coast at all. We went on down to Mexico City and stayed there for some time. Then we went down to Veracruz which is right on the gulf which was about 500 miles. We kept our motel at Mexico City and stayed there another night. Then we went down to Acapulco which is really a tourist town. We stayed there for a night and then headed towards home. We had some interesting experiences along the way. We saw where they were thrashing grain the old way as they did during the Savior’s time by putting the grain out and driving the horses over to thresh out the grain. We also saw them cut the grain with sickles and dig up the ground with hoes and a wooden plow with a couple of oxen, no metal on it at all. It’s unbelievable in this time and age that they would be doing that so close to the United States. That was about 1960 or 1961, I don’t remember exactly which year. We had an enjoyable time. It was one of the most interesting vacations that we have taken.
We have been across Texas two or three times. We went to Florida and didn’t go very far in. We went to Tallahassee, and Donna wasn’t able to do very much walking. We looked to see how far it was down to the lower end of Florida. It was about 500 more miles we would have to have gone. Grandma was sick and was in the rest home and we though we had better start heading towards home instead of going away from it farther. We went to Georgia where Erma’s ex-husband Carl Holcomb and his wife Virginia were living on an old plantation and visited with them for about three days and then started for home. That was in 1969. We went across Tennessee. There were two states in that part of the country that we hadn’t been in, Arkansas and Oklahoma. So we went and stayed in Arkansas one night and then crossed Oklahoma. We were going to go north from Oklahoma City, but there was a tornado warning for a certain district through there from 1:00 until 7:00 that night, so we decided we had better head straight west. We went over to Abilene, Texas and stayed there that night. While we were listening to the radio, they said that a tornado hit. On the way down we stopped and saw Cliff and Lea Goodfellow who were on a mission in Temple, Texas. We had a nice visit with them and spent Friday night and Saturday and went to church with them Sunday, went out to dinner and then left and went on our way. We checked a map and the tornado was about 100 miles from where they were. It wasn’t too bad there, but one man got killed in it and it blew down several mobile homes. According to the news, it went right up through where we would have been if we had gone north, so we were glad we went west. We came home and had an enjoyable trip and found Donna’s mother about the same, no worse than she was. She had a sister, Ada Dooley, and her husband who were good about looking after her and seeing that she was taken care of.
We then went on about our business. Donna was working at the hospital doing cooking for the patients. I was still working at the Deseret Industries.
In 1967, the Catmulls and us went to Hawaii. We started making arrangements in February. I had a major operation on my arm in June. I got out of the hospital the 30th of June. I just got home and called the railroad. Virg Catmull answered the phone and I told him not to bother calling me because I was going home. That night at 6:00 his son called and said, “Dad took your place in the hospital.” He said he had a nail hit him in the eye and they didn’t know whether he would lose his eyesight or not. So that was the condition we were in, but we went ahead and left in September and went to Hawaii, me with my arm which had been operated on which was in pretty good shape then. It didn’t hurt. I hadn’t gone back to work. He had his eye problem, and he hadn’t gone back to work either. So we went to Hawaii and had a real enjoyable trip. They arranged it so we could have our rooms next to each other and we had our seats together on the plane, so we were real close together on the whole trip. We went to four different islands while we were there and went to the temple and went through one session in the Hawaiian Temple while we were there which was a nice experience. When we got home, we found that Grandma had been pretty sick. She had had some problems before we left. It caused Donna not to enjoy the trip as much as she could, but she was all right. We brought her home again. She had been out to her granddaughter Joann’s. We brought her home and she was living in our basement. We were looking after her and helping her, taking her around and doing things for her.
In 1967, the same year after we got back from Hawaii, Virg Catmull and I both went back to work on October 3. I told the doctor before I went back that I thought there was a problem on my arm again. He said no, that he thought that was just where the stitches were. I said, “Well, I don’t know. I don’t feel right about it.” He tried to convince me it was the stitches so I went on about my business and went back to work. I worked October, and just the Tuesday before Thanksgiving I went to the doctor again and showed him and he decided then that there were some problems. So he took me up to Dr. Broadbent who had operated on me in June and done the skin grafting. He wanted me to go right to the hospital then, but said to wait until after Thanksgiving to go up and he would operate the next day. I told him I would get paid for Thanksgiving if I worked the day after, so if I could do that it would help out that way. So he said I could go to work and then come up Friday and we would operate Saturday. That’s what I did. It was a major operation again. They took all the muscle and everything out except the nerve column and the bone off from the arm above my elbow. Then they took a test of the nerve column and found that it was infected too, so then they came and told me that the only chance I had was to lose my arm. I had been considering that for some four years and figured it would have to happen sooner or later, so I said I guess if that’s it, that’s it. My doctor, Dr. Winget, came in to tell me about it. He had tears in his eyes and he couldn’t. I said, “Well, doctor, I know about it. You don’t have to tell me. I have already talked to Dr. Broadbent and I understand what has to be done.” On December 7, they took me in and operated on me and removed my arm at the shoulder right at the socket. When I came out of the operating room, my arm was hurting so bad that I asked the nurse to put a pillow under it and pleaded with them before I really knew what I was saying. They told Donna that I didn’t know what I was talking about, but that wasn’t true. It hurt and felt like I needed something to hold it up, it was hurting so bad. As I said before, I lived with that from then on until now with that phantom pain, which at times is almost more than I can bear.
The last vacation that we took was in 1973 when we went down to Texas where Vickie, our oldest granddaughter, and her husband live. They had adopted a baby boy in February, and we went down there in May and visited with them to see their new baby. We had a good visit with them and stayed about five days and then came home. Donna had just got out of the hospital a month before for some tests for some things she was having problems with so we felt good to think that we were able to take the trip.
That same summer, we took two trips to California. One was when Nancy’s oldest daughter Janice was married. We went down and went through the temple with her to see her married. Then again in the fall, Grace and LeGrand and Donna and I and Glen went down again and had a visit with Ivan and Flora and Nancy and all who were down there. Then later on, Tommy, Nancy’s boy, was married in the Provo temple. We went through the temple with him and then went in to see him married. They had the reception in a little town south of Price. I don’t remember the name now, but we went there and had a breakfast in the church and an enjoyable visit and then came home from there. He married a girl whose grandparents lived in that little town.
Going back a ways, in April of 1976, it was our 50th golden wedding anniversary. We had made arrangements a year ahead of time so Cleon could get his vacation so he could come home. Hazel and Don and the others worked and prepared for this occasion. We had it set for April the 14th, but that didn’t work out. So we finally set the date for the 17th of April. In February, Donna got the shingles so bad that we had to take her to the hospital. They were half way around her body, half way in front and half way in back in a strip as wide as four inches. It was continually sore from one spot to the other. We didn’t know for sure if we were going to make it or not, but she finally got so she was up and around and able to go. She wasn’t all healed when we had it; there were some that still had the soreness and scabs on them. But we went to that reception and I think she was blessed and was able to do more than she had done for two months. We had all our family there and in line. Hazel had prepared a family tree and had it there and unveiled it there at the reception. It was the first time we had seen it. It had all of our children and our grandchildren and was really a surprise to us. We were glad to be able to get together on that occasion and had lots of friends and relatives who came and visited with us that night.
I will now go back to our family. Cleon was our oldest son. He was the first one married on August 8, 1945, to Verdean Robinson. They later had a child named Vickie. She was our oldest granddaughter. When she was about three years old, they were separated and got a divorce. He came home and lived for awhile. Then he married LouDell Shafter and they moved to California. He has lived there ever since. After some time, they got a divorce and he married Madelyn Tensa. She had two children who are living at home. He isn’t doing anything in the church, which is one thing I would like to see him do.
Our next boy, Don, married Hazel W. Rasmussen on September 11, 1952. The next year they had two beautiful twin daughters, Kristy and Kathy, and we enjoyed them very much as they lived in our basement and were here to enjoy right close to home. Later on they had a son, Mike. He is now on a mission in England. He left in January, 1979, 30 years after his father went on a mission. Kristy and Kathy are married. Kristy has three fine boys. Kathy has two boys and two girls. So we have eight great grandchildren now.
Max was married on November 1, 1958, to Glenna LaRae Dunn. They have four children—Jill Tolman, who is going to be married in June, and then Jack, Caroline and Jenny. Jenny is our youngest granddaughter, and we are proud of all we have.
Gale was married on August 24, 1956, to Marian Mann. They have three beautiful daughters, Julie, Sherri and Tracy. That makes eleven grandchildren that we have and eight great grandchildren to the date in 1979. We enjoy our family very much and hope that sometime they will all be active in the church.
An incident in my life that helped to strengthen my testimony was the power of the priesthood manifest in the healing of Cleon. He was only five years old at the time. He started out with a sore throat and a stiff neck, which developed into nephritis, and he became very ill. Donna called the doctor, Dr. Quick, and told him the symptoms. The doctor apparently was very concerned for in less than an hour, he was at the house. His office was in Midvale, and we lived on twenty-seventh south in Salt Lake. He started treatment immediately.
But even with all of the doctor’s help, his condition was still the same and even became worse. He was so swollen from head to foot that no one would recognize him. Brother Sanders, a neighbor and a counselor in the Bishopric, came over and helped administer to him. He came every evening to administer to him but one, and that night none of us got any rest. Brother Sanders asked the Lord to help us that we might be able to know what to do to help him.
One day a different doctor, Dr. Lindsy, came to see Cleon. He told us several different things to do for Cleon. As he left our place, some of the neighbors stopped him and asked him how Cleon was. The doctor told them that he was so bad that he doubted he would ever make it.
Cleon fully recovered from this sickness and is now 52 years old. I do believe that it was through faith and prayers and the power of the priesthood that he was made well.
I would like to bear my testimony for my descendants and say that I know Jesus is the Christ and that we were put here upon this earth for a purpose to be able to progress and do the things that the Lord wishes us to do. I know that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God; and I also know that Spencer W. Kimball, our present prophet, is also a true prophet of God, and all those who have gone before him. If we will live as they instruct us, we will be able to do the things and carry on through our lives as we should live. Without the gospel, I don’t know whether I would be able to stand my pains sometimes or not. I feel like the testimony I have of the gospel is what helps me carry on and to be able to do the things that I do. I appreciate the testimony I have and all the things that I have here, realizing that it is God’s plan to put us here upon earth to do His will and someday return to Him.
(Taken from a tape recorded by Wilford Hatch Tolman in April of 1979.)
Some Additional History of Wilford Hatch Tolman
Wilford Hatch Tolman was the fifth child in a family of twelve. His father worked for the railroad. When Wilford was young his father bought an 80-acre farm in Lovell, built a log house and began farming sugar beets.
The closest telephone in the area was five miles from Wilford’s home. Wilford can remember riding a horse to make a call to the doctor who lived nine miles away in Cowley, Wyo. This Dr. would then come by horse and buggy to help the sick. He cared for all the sick in the area and charged very little.
Wilford attended school in Lovell that was just a mile from their home. His first year in school he got pneumonia and was in bed for a long time. When he was in the 5th grade he quit school to work on the farm. From then on he only went to school four or five months out of the year. Wilford felt badly that he didn’t have more education but he actually was far better educated than most people because of his special gift of seeing and doing what needed to be done and devising ingenious ways of doing things. Few people have this gift.
Wilford remembers running the mowing machine when he was just a young boy. “I wasn’t big enough to get on the seat. They put the seat down as far as it would go and I still couldn’t sit on the seat and touch my feet. So I would just get up on there and lean against the bar that went up to the seat and drive and mow hay. We had what they called bullrakes and stackers at that time, and I ran the stacker team for awhile. When my next brother got old enough to run the stacker team, I got on a bullrake. I was only about 12 years old at the most when running one of those big machine, but they were constructed that way so I could handle them. I was taught to work from the time I was very young.
When he was 15 he drove a 4-horse scraper team up Big Horn Canyon working for his uncle.
“I can remember the first car that came to our town. I was just a small boy. We went to Byron to a 4th of July celebration. We went there in a buggy but a car passed us. They passed us and the next thing we knew we would see them up the road with a flat tire and we would pass them. We kept doing that all the way to town. I don’t remember which one got there first. I know that they had to stop four or five times on the way and change tires, so they didn’t get there much quicker than we did.
In 1922 his father bought sheep for $10 or $12 a head and they went down to $3 each so it got to where a lot of farmers lost everything they had and had to move out without anything except furniture, maybe a team. Everything was turned over to the banks.
“In 1922 we moved to Bountiful, Utah, and lived with my grandparents, O. P. Hatch. I helped my grandfather build a house thus developing more skills. It was a good experience learning the building and electrical trade.”
At 17 Wilford went to work for the Union Pacific Railroad. He became a mechanic in the car department where he designed and built work-saving devices that more educated workers could not visualize.
“The good Lord blessed me with the ability to see things that needed to be done, and to do them.” He explains.
His family moved to Sandy, Utah, when he was 20 and there he met Donna Boulter on a blind date. They were married April 14, 1926 and moved to a duplex on State Street. They have four sons, Cleon, Don, Max and Gale.
Wilford worked for the railroad for many years. During the depression he made $70 a month and the family just managed to survive. In 1941 he was advanced to mechanic and made $100 per month.
Wilford has always been active in the LDS Church, serving and teaching the young men. He has been president of the YMMIA and served as High Priests Group Leader for years.
He built his beautiful home in Bountiful, Utah, in 1949 and has spent many happy years there.
He and wife have done much traveling and love to see the world with their friends. They have been to Texas, New York City and all states in between, california, Canada, Florida, New England, Hawaii, Washington D. C., Mexico. They have found great joy in seeing this beautiful country.
Wilford and Donna celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary April 17, 1976. It was a joyous occasion with all of their friends and family.
Perhaps Wilford’s greatest challenge came in December 1967 when he lost his right arm to cancer. In characteristic fashion he declared, “I only have one hand, but I can do a lot with one hand.”
When his wife, Donna, became seriously ill before her death on Nov. 15, 1985, Wilford took care of her—with only one arm. “I am thankful I could take care of her,” he says.
With only one hand he has helped friends repair plumbing and has attached wheels to walking frames to help the handicapped people walk easier.
“The Lord gave me talent to use my hands,” he modestly observes.
In 1979 his son Gale, who is produce manager at Dick’s Thriftway in Centerville, gave him some tomato plants. Wilford saved seed and started 200 to 3— plants, giving most of them away. He set 50 to 55 plants in his well-kept garden, as he has been doing ever since. Some of his tomatoes have grown as heavy as three pounds. These tomatoes were given to the elderly in the Three Fountains Condominiums.
He has done all this while often suffering from “Phantom pain” intense pain in the arm and hand that are not there. Often he feels that his absent hand is in a clutched position.
Perhaps his most selfless accomplishment has been in doing temple work. Since 1972 he has performed more than 1,800 endowments for the dead. All these have been voluntary; he has never been called to a temple mission.
For a time he arose early and took the bus to Ogden where he did four sessions before returning home about 4:00 p.m. Later he attended the Salt Lake Temple three days per week for most weeks.
In 1987 cancer struck again. He underwent a series of radiation treatments that apparently were successful.
“I thought I had beaten cancer twice,” he said. But it was not to be so. In late May this year his doctors advised Wilford that he had bone cancer and that it was inoperable.
“I live like I was going to live forever and prepare to die tomorrow,” he says, without complaint.
With a strong testimony of the gospel, Wilford says: “I can’t teach it, but I try to live it the best way I can.”
–And thereby teach it as the Savior did, by example. Wilford is the son of Jaren Thomas and Lora Hatch Tolman, gs Jaren and Emma Briggs Tolman, ggs Judson & Sarah Lucretia Tolman.
His mother worked with Aunt Myra Tolman Patterson on family genealogy.
Wilford was magazine chairman from April 1968 to 1978.