“Good morning, children,” said Judson’s school teacher from the front of the classroom. “Good morning, Teacher,” replied the students. “Time for roll call,” the teacher announced. “Alice Augustus?” “Present,” said William. “William Augustus?” “Present,” said Alice. From the back of the Tooele schoolroom in about 1878, Judson could recognize nearly all of the children from the entire valley. Judson’s parents, Cyrus Tolman and Alice Bracken, had settled the Tooele Valley in Utah at the instruction of Brigham Young nearly 25 years ago. Many families had moved there since then, but all the children could still pack into one classroom. And even with them all together like this, little Judson thought he knew them all. “Emerett Bates?” continued the teacher. A new girl jumped to her feet and corrected, “My name is not Emerett Bates; it is Phoebe Emerett Bates!” Little Judson immediately looked up at this spirited little girl. All the other students looked up, too. This Phoebe Emerett Bates was brand new to the valley and everyone very quickly learned her full name. Judson later wrote about that moment: “All eyes were upon her and I suppose mine never turned away.” Very soon thereafter, Judson’s family left the Tooele Valley for Oakley, Idaho, leaving little Phoebe Emerett Bates and her free spirit behind. Much to Judson’s joy, however, his family was serendipitously followed by the Bates family, resettling from Tooele to Oakley just as they had done. Here the two children became reacquainted. They discovered they had the same birthday, though Judson was three years older. Phoebe Emerett Bates let Judson call her “Emerett”, and Judson let her call him “J.I.” They began courting when Emerett was 13 and J.I. was 16. They were allowed to attend dances with their parents accompanying them. They were always welcome in each other’s homes. Emerett said that “no gathering was just right for me unless he was there.” After five years of courtship, they decided they were old enough to be married. To prepare for their life together, Emerett made a trousseau of sheets, quilts, rags, and rugs. J.I. built a house in nearby Marion, ID of pine logs which he cut himself—so straight that they seemed to have been sawed with a machine at a mill.3 Finally, when J.I. was 20 and Emerett was 17 they took a long trip in a wagon to Logan, Utah and were sealed in the Logan Temple on October 15, 1890. On their way home, they made a couple quick stops in Ogden to pose for a photograph and to purchase some home furnishings for their new life together. Emerett wrote, “These were loaded into our wagon and we were soon on our way home, the proudest two in all the world.”
For the next few months, J.I. worked on a goat farm for a dollar a day. In the next three years they had two healthy boys, Ivan (born 30 Sept 1891) and Royal Clifford (born 3 Nov 1893). In the spring of 1895, the 25-year-old farmer and father accepted a mission call to the Southern States Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. J.I. had two months to prepare for his departure. He sold and traded animals and other farm items to get enough flour and supplies for his family to survive during his absence. He chopped, hauled, and stacked against the house enough cedar wood to last his family the entire three years he would be gone. Then J.I. left Ivan, Clifford, and Emerett, who was expecting a third child. Gratefully, Emerett’s younger sisters were close by and assisted immensely with her household duties and with the children. The Bates sisters often sang to the children beneath the bedroom window while playing their mandolins and guitars. During one particularly ferocious storm at night, Emerett gave birth to Alta (27 Aug 1895). During that winter, Emerett slept with Ivan at her feet, and her babies on either side. At midnight, she awoke to rebuild a strong fire to keep them warm. Spring finally came and they planted a garden and sold eggs and butter to survive.
After 37 months, Judson returned home to three much older children who had grown “hard as nails” as they survived his absence. Judson took up tending sheep with his brother Ammon. It began slowly and their losses were great, but after a few years they got ahead and became quite successful. This business led J.I. and his family on many long journeys through the valleys and the mountains with the grazing sheep. The older children were out camping with the sheep so often, that they received very little formal schooling. They ate mostly fish and wild chickens on their journeys.9 During this time two more sons were born to Emerett and Judson, but both lived only a few months (Erroll 4 Jan 1899, and Judson 4 Aug 1903). Emerett beautifully said about one of them, “He was only loaned to us for nine months, and then was taken sick and one evening closed his lovely eyes in sleep only to be awakened when the trump of God shall come forth.
Visit FamilySearch to learn more about Phoebe Emerett Bates, Judson Isaac Tolman, and other ancestors. Also visit the Thomas Tolman Family Organization to find out how you can get more involved in family history.