A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LIFE OF LAURA CHRISTINA BASTIAN VAN ORDEN
Contributed By Wood,NormaJean2 · 25 marts 2014 · 0 Comments
By her daughter, Martha Van Orden Parks
My mother Laura Christina Bastian, was born 28 November 1862, the eldest of 12 children born to Jacob and Kirsten Hansen Bastian. Jacob Bastian was a polygamist; grandmother was the third wife, and the families lived in the little town of Washington in southern Utah, called at that time, Dixie.
Whenever my mother spoke of her girlhood days she spoke of her mother as the peacemaker; she never allowed her children to cause any trouble among the families. Mother said, at one time she had crocheted or knitted enough lace about three inches wide for pillow slips for her trousseau; when the lace was completed she washed and starched it and hung it out to dry before sewing it to the pillow slips; when she went to get the lace two of her half-brothers had the lace tied to their arms for lines and were playing horse. The Lace was ruined and mother had to make more but grandmother never allowed her to say one word about it to the boys or their mother.
Mother worked in the cotton factory started in Washington by Brigham Young. She said they took lunch each day, and one day when she asked her mother what there was fore her lunch, she was told bread and lard; as mother didn't like lard she took a slice of plain bread.
I remember two pieces of cloth we had in our home that mother had woven in the factory. One was red with a fern leaf pattern woven in the material and one was a green and white check about one inch square, which was also woven in the fabric. As I remember this material it had more the appearance of wool materials of today; it was soft yet firm, did not fade and was fairly heavy. We used these cloths as a table covering between meals. The tablecloths we ate on was always white, either cloth or oil clothe, but always white.
When mother was bout eight years of age she fell into the spring and would have drowned but a man, Israel Nielson by name, rescued her. As she grew to womanhood he told her mother she should be his wife as he had saved her life. This irritated mother somewhat, especially after she married father, and every baby boy born he said should be named Israel.
Mother was married to Peter Edmund Van Orden 14 January 1880 when 17 years of age. Mother and father lived in Washington on a small farm. The country was dry and hot and about forty miles from the nearest railroad. The farm was across the river from the town. The river was named the Virgin, but why it was given this name I'll never know as it was full of quick sand and very dangerous to cross especially at flood time. I've heard my brothers tell stories about riding the huge waves of the river and what fun they had but what a worry to their mother. The farm raised hay and grain and a good variety of fruit and vegetables.
Mother said there was lots of sickness. I especially remember her talking of the Chills and Fevers; I think it was a form of Malaria. Then they had a siege of Typhoid Fever. Mother's first two children were girls, Julia the oldest, then Clora; the next five were boys, Edmund, William Joseph, Jacob Louis, Charles and Artie Knight. When Artie was the baby the children all had typhoid and Clora the second child died when only ten years of age. All the children were very ill and brother Will was so ill he was unconscious; when he was better and conscious he looked around the room and seeing his sister's empty bed said, 'Ma where's Clora.' Mother had to tell him that she was dead and buried.
When Gertrude, the ninth child, was only one year old Father was called on a mission for the church to East Kansas. Brother Edmund, the oldest boy, was only thirteen years old. Mother and the boys did the farming, kept father on a mission, and brought a new wagon. Mother made butter and could sell it for cash so the family went without butter on their bread in order to get the cash to send to father.
One year the wheat was smutty and would not sell without a big dockage in price so mother and the boys made a box with a screen bottom and washed their wheat at the mill stream, dried it and took it to market. The man, who bought it said, 'Well, you're the smartest hard-working woman I know; no man would kink of doing a thing like that.' With all this had work mother taught her family the gospel and never missed an opportunity to teach by practical example. At that time the tithing was paid in kind. Mother had Edmund take the first load of the choicest squash to the bishop for tithing, telling him the Lord's tenth should be the best. I remember of my mother. The gospel truths were not just for Sunday but were to be applied to our every day living. How well I remember her saying, 'What is worth doing is worth doing well', or ' If a task is once begun, never leave it till its done,' or 'Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.' Many time when I was tempted to be careless with my work it seemed I could hear my mother's voice repeating this gem.
When I was old enough to gather the eggs I remember mother kept track of the number of eggs gathered by writing it down on the calendar so one-tenth could be given for tithing and the Sunday eggs were given to the Relief Society.
Though mother had a large family of her own she was always sharing her home with others. At one time father's half-brother lived in our home. Mother said he was a young man who liked nice clothes. At a Friday night dance some one took his new hat. On Sunday morning following mother was having a hard time getting Uncle John Mills and her own boys out of bed in time to go to Sunday School, so mother's sense of humor came into play. Mother called, 'John there's a man down here says if you'll meet him one block down the street he'll give you your new hat.' Of course Uncle John was up and waiting on the corner in no time. After 30 or 40 minutes he came back to the house and asked, 'Laura, who was that, and where was I to meet him?' Mother answered very casually, 'Today's the first of April John.' Uncle John wrote to Mother April 1, 1925, three months before her death and said, 'never an April Fool's Day came around but he thought of mother.'
Mother made the clothing for her family; much of it decorated with hand embroidery and crocheted or knitted lace. Under clothing and almost everything had to be made. Mother said she took a course in pattern drafting and after that she could cut and design the dress patterns for herself and the girls. Before mother had a sewing machine she said she crocheted lace for a neighbor to get her to sew the longest seams on her dresses. I don't know how much lace mother had to make, but when she told me about it I thought it a very one-sided trade. When death came, mother said the women made the burial clothes, and father often made the coffin even for their own family.
In June 1904, father and Brother Ed came to Idaho and purchased a 160-acre farm. While here he was called home as he received word his daughter Melva was seriously ill; she died November 1, 1904.
The next spring, March 1905, the family moved to Idaho. I remember my brother Art telling how they prepared for the trip, how exciting it was for the boys but what a lot of hard work for Mother. They had to go to Milford, the nearest railroad, where father had a railroad car in which to take the horses and what machinery they owned, a wagon, walking plow, the harness for the horses, etc. But mother had to leave her furniture; there was no room for that. Father was a carpenter and had made most of the furniture for the home and promised to make her some more when they reached Idaho. This promise was never fulfilled, as farming in Idaho was a full time job, and mother got along with bare necessities. My brother Art said the day they left they only traveled seven miles; as far as a little town called Leeds. How hard it must have been for mother to make camp, prepare food and beds for ten people: brother Ed and his bride of two or three weeks, the four other boys, my sister Gertrude seven years of age, and I was just past two.
The farm they bought was one mile south of the Thomas store; the home was a three-roomed log house ¼ mile farther south of the county road. From Blackfoot they traveled in the wagon and on arrival found that the family White had not moved, so for two or three months both families lived in this little log house full of bedbugs. I believe the boys slept in the straw stack and in the loft of the granary, but where the rest found places I'll never understand.
In September of that year our sister Roetta was born. Father always called her his Idaho girl. I remember a sister Crawford, the mid-wife who cared for mother lifting me up to see the new baby.
The first winter there was no school closer than Rockford, which they called the Basin, no work available, and a big family to feed and keep warm. Mother taught her four boys to knit, and they each knit themselves a pair of gloves. Mother used to say, ' an idle brain is the devil's workshop', so we were all taught to keep busy. She used to tell us to have something to do with our hands while we were resting, as a change was as good as a rest. Mother had very little schooling and the lessons she taught her family she called, just good common horse sense. I learned years later when I went to school; these same lessons which were then called psychology.
It seemed to be Mother's lot to live in an over-crowded home. She was continually called to share her home with others. In December 1907, the family of Brother Ed's wife stayed with us for two or three months. There were four of them, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, daughter Pearl and son Ben. Mother lived in this little house for four years. Then the family moved into the large house father built on the northeast corner of the farm on the county road. This home is now owned by our brother-in-law Andrew Wood. The home was not quite finished when we moved in but what a joy to have room enough for us all; ceilings high enough that the boys did not have to stoop to go through the doors, and bedrooms for everyone.
In January 1910 our Sister Julia's husband, Angus Sproul died. Father and mother went to Washington and brought her family of four children to live with us. Mother gave her the parlor for her room but all our meals were eaten together, what a large group to cook wash and iron for, 14 in all. They lived with us for about two years.
Mother started to work in the Relief Society in March 1909, as counselor to Sister Annie Coleman. March 6, 1913 she was made president and held this position for a little over four years. It seemed to me mother was always doing Relief Society work of some Kind. She was continually going somewhere to help those in need. The welfare system we have now was not in effect then and many times I have seen mother take a sack of flour, a jar of liquid yeast, (she had made herself) canned fruit from her shelves, sugar, honey, butter or whatever she thought the family was in need of; sometimes it was clothing or bedding.
At the time mother was president the sisters used to store wheat. There was a Relief Society granary a little west of the church house. In the spring some of the farmers would get their seed wheat from the Relief society, then return two sacks for one at harvest time. I went with mother several times to hold the sacks and help fill them.
Mother was called to care for the sick for miles around, especially cases of pneumonia, when death came she washed and laid out the dead, made the burial clothes and all necessary preparation for the funeral. One woman, Mrs. Ed Parsons, told mother she had been in their home to assist the family five different times when death came.
During the 'flu' epidemic of 1918 and 1919 mother and father went almost every day for weeks caring for people where even their own families were afraid to go. When death came people were really frightened, but mother assisted the undertaker and saw that an appropriate burial and services— which was held at the graveside— was carried out. Mother always wore a mask and was careful to sterilize her hands and all utensils used around the patient. Mother did not take the 'flu' and she felt this a special blessing from her Heavenly Father. She always said, 'where there's a will there's a way'.
When Dr. W.W. Beck came to Blackfoot— he was the first Mormon doctor in this neighborhood— Mother helped him get established here, encouraging expectant mothers to have the services of a doctor. Mother acted as nurse when the babies came. (She had taken Red Cross Nurses Course given through the Relief Society.) She often stayed the full ten days the mothers were required to stay in bed, taking care of the mother, the new baby and the home. Mother did this for her own family without exception until her death.
Once when Dr. Beck was called to a child suffering with pneumonia he told the parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dave Broadhead, if they could get Mrs. Van Orden she could do more than he could. Of course he knew if mother came she would stay day and night, keeping constant vigil until the child responded to treatment. I do not want to imply that all those mother cared for recovered but she said if death came 'The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed is the name of the Lord'.
One time I remember we were in the midst of springhouse cleaning and a call came for mother. Gertrude and I thought mother should say she was too busy to come; I'll never forget the answer my mother gave! 'That woman's little girl may be dying and if I can help a little it's far more important than house cleaning.' (The woman was Sister Stander, mother of Howard and Jess.)
'Waste not want not' was a slogan of mothers and very little food or clothing was wasted around our house. We were never allowed to burn anything; food scraps were to be fed to hogs, cats, or dogs but never burned. Mother made most of the clothing for the family; all kinds of quilts, and when the clothing was worn it was torn into carpet rags and woven into carpets. Rag carpet was about the only floor covering my mother knew. The kitchen floor was not covered and the scrubbing wore the boards more than the walking on them. I believe I was twelve years old when mother got the kitchen floor covered with linoleum.
Mother made butter for our own use and to sell. For about two years she supplied Frenchy's café in Blackfoot with 20 or 25 pounds twice a week. There were no refrigerators and mother always did the churning and molding of the butter into pounds early in the morning, about four o'clock while it was cool. On delivery day the butter was placed in a flat box on wet paper and towels covered with more wet paper. Sometimes father gathered alfalfa while it was covered with dew and laid this over the wet paper to help keep the butter firm while making the journey of ten or eleven miles to Blackfoot with a horse and buggy. They received 20 or 25 cents a pound for the butter.
In the spring of 1912, April 23, I was home from school ill. Father was churning the butter when Brother Ed came running to the house saying the horses had run away killing our brother Charles who had been harrowing in the field. I do not remember ever seeing my mother cry before, but she cried so hard that morning that she collapsed in the yard and, I, a little girl, nine years old, tried to comfort her. It seemed mother was very sad for such a long time after this.
One of the tings I love to remember is mother reading to my sister Roetta and I from the Children's Friend. The church magazines were always in our home, though there was very little money for picture shows or entertainment of any kind; these things father and mother thought could very well be done without. The mailman came just after noon and when the Children's Friend arrived once a month Mother would take the time out to read us the stories; usually there was one continued story that we especially liked. We were given time off to listen to mother read before doing the dinner dishes. Mother planned the work so we girls took turns doing the dishes and the cream separator and milk buckets. Plans were made so our clothes were always ready for Sundays, and we were all taught to attend church meetings on the Sabbath. I was never forced to go to church but in some way mother instilled in me a desire to attend, and it was a punishment if I was told I could not go.
Following four years as president of the Relief Society mother was called in 1917 to work as theology leader on the stake board under Sister Signe Davis. Mother felt ver humble in this position and felt the lack of education very keenly. She had had very little schooling but she took every opportunity to study and learn throughout her life. I remember she took one of my old spelling books, which had the words in print and also in writing. This she used to help her improve both her spelling and penmanship. She kept this speller, the standard works of the church, and one book she especially liked, Jesus the Christ by Talmage in the south window of her bedroom; there she spent some time almost every day in study, especially when preparing the Stake Relief Society lessons. Mother held this position until her death.
In October 1916 our brother Ed's wife, Rhoda, died leaving a little baby girl two weeks old. Mother brought her home and raised her as her own. This was quite a strain on mother at her age but she cared for her for eight years until the sickness, which caused her death, made it impossible to do the job longer. This history would not be complete without mention of mother's devotion to father; his very wish was her command. She made his shirts because he liked the way they fit better than the one he bought. She always kept his clothes clean, mended and ready for him. Not more than four weeks before her death when I went to visit her she was mending father's socks. Until three or four months before she died she still churned the butter because father liked the homemade butter best and liked the buttermilk to drink.
Mother lived without electricity or any of the modern conveniences. In the winter she was the one to get up first and make the fires so the house would be warm for father and we children. In fact mother was always the first one up; she was our alarm clock. If we wanted to get up early she always told us to get to bed early and she would call us. This she would do whether we wanted called at four, five, or six o'clock. Mother always said she could work better in the morning and that one-hour in the morning was worth three in the afternoon.
In May 1925, though mother was almost too ill to sit up, she made a trip to southern Utah as her father's family was meeting to erect a stone at grandfather's grave. Father drove a big Chandler car and mother put her feather bed in between the seats so she could lie down, but she was so very ill she said that several times when she could not stand the movement of the car she would have father stop and let her lie down on the feather bed by the side of the road. They stopped in Salt Lake City to see Dr. Ralph Richards, and he told father to get her home to her family as fast as he could. I don't think the doctor thought she would make it home alive and the way mother suffered I marvel that she lived six weeks longer. She had a saying, which truly symbolized her live: 'Its better to wear out than rust out.'
Mother passed away July 19, 1925. Truly my mother had worn out.