Saturday, February 13, 2010
The Way was Opened for Us: Harriet Betsy Cook Teeples, part 2
Harriet Betsy Cook Teeples only actually lived in Arizona for five years. She and her husband, William Randolph Teeples, settled in Pima, Arizona, which is south of Snowflake. Here is where my GGGrandma Eunice Rosella Teeples was born. While there Harriet took charge of a small store and post office that William built. They kept her very busy and often she had to stay up most of the night to receive the mail.
"After we had been at Pima nearly four years, my husband was taken dreadfully ill with an abscessed liver. After a long illness he died June 5, 1883 at the age of 49 years. His death was a heavy blow to me. I was left alone with five small children. The oldest being a boy of 13 years. [her daughter Beatrice had married by this time]. I was then appointed postmistress and kept it nearly a year, trying very hard to get out of debt and collect from the people who owed us, but made small progress in that direction. I turned the books over to my creditors in the spring of 1884 and they collected; I was very happy to know I was out of debt.
I decided to go back to my parents and friends in Utah. I resigned to post and prepared for our long journey, although I did not know how we were to go as we had no money to go on the train, which was 44 miles from Pima. However, we packed up our wagon and were all ready to start when a young man came along and said, "I will drive your wagon and furnish my own food if you will haul me and my bedding." He was from Utah and was there on a visit. His name was James McClellin, and thus the way was opened for us to come.
My son sold our cow for $40 and we started on the 28th day of April 1884. We traveled four days. In the Magillan Mountains we came to the Black River, which is very deep. As the ferryboat was on the other side, the boys tried to swim a horse across, but the horse and mules all refused to go, so we camped there for four days waiting for help. About ten o'clock on the fourth morning we saw some soldiers coming at the head of 500 Indians who were moving to another reservation. One Indian, who was an excellent swimmer, swam the river and brought the boat back and they helped us across.
We traveled on ten miles to Fort Apache and camped near the Fort that night. Then the next morning we traveled on to Woodruff on the lead of the Little Colorado where my oldest daughter lived and here we rested a few days. Then, leaving her, we started on again and I did not see her again for 10 years. When we came near the Holdbrook Railroad Station we drove into a stream of water and stopped to let our horses drink. When we tried to start again the team could not pull the wagon out of the bottom of the stream as it proved to be quicksand and in trying to get out we broke the wagon tongue. The boys rushed to a farm nearby and got a farmer's team and pulled the wagon out backwards. The young man went to the station to see if he could get a wagon tongue. There happened to be just one tongue there and it fit our wagon. He obtained it and put it on the wagon and we started on our journey again."
Here is a link that includes a virtual walking tour of the current Fort Apache site.
"As we came to Sunset, one of our wagon wheels got out of order. This town had broken up and all the people had moved out except one man and he was waiting for someone to come back after him and his blacksmith tools. He repaired our wagon, but if we had been just a little later he would have been gone.
...We had to go over "Lee's Backbone" again, but I didn't drive this time. When we got over the big mountain and down the river, the ferryman told us we were taking our lives in our hands by crossing the river. There was only a small rowboat to cross in. This the two men rowed and my son held the halter rope and the horses had to swim. They took the boat upstream about a mile and started across, but the river was so rough and the pitching and tumbling timbers frightened the first horse so badly that he snorted, leaped, plunged, floundered, and pulled the boat downstream even with the wagon. I watched all this take place way out in the middle of the river and was so frightened it made me feel ill. I went out a little way from the wagon where I could not see them in the angry waters and I earnestly prayed that Father in Heaven would help us cross this river safely and be permitted to carry on our duty to him. When I arose and went back to the wagon I saw my son on the other side of the river holding his horse by the rope and swinging his hat to me. One fine horse refused to swim and almost drowned.
The river calmed down until the floating timbers were sliding along without a splash. When they came for the wagon I had dinner prepared for them. As they sat down to eat, the ferryman said, "Do you notice how calm this river has become? I have lived here 20 years and I have never seen this happen before. I can't account for it." But I knew why it was. We took the wagon apart and crossed the river nine times in moving our little outfit. The ferryman said he couldn't cross another outfit until the high water was over. But we were across and we went on our way rejoicing."
They continued into Utah, parted ways with James McLellin, and traveled until they were stopped at the Sevier River because of high water and stayed with friends.
"We heard that the bridge at Selma, 20 miles below, would be fixed the next day, so we unloaded our wagon and went there. The bridge was not fixed, but the bridge gang helped us across. We walked across two long logs, which had been put there for a footbridge. Over these the men carried our trunks and bedding and led our horses making them swim. They tied a long rope onto the wagon and pulled it across, then carried my two younger children over. They wouldn't take a cent, shook hands with us, told us good luck and we again went on rejoicing. We stopped at my husband's cousins' home that night and when he saw us coming he threw his cap in the air and shouted, "Hurrah for you! I didn't think you were so lucky!" and I said, "Well, when I make up my mind to do anything and ask for the help of the Lord, I generally do it."
The next day's travel included the incident where Eunice, age three, was thrown from the wagon and badly hurt. You can read about this in an earlier Story Apples posting, Bump in the Road: Eunice Rosella Teeples.
Harriet and her family traveled on and eventually re-settled in Garden city, Utah, where Harriet lived a long life, never again marrying. She lived the last four years of her life in Sun River, Montana, with her daughter Eunice McCann. She died at the age of 89.
It really shrinks history's time line for me when I realize that I knew my great-grandma LaRue McCann Ely who lived near us, and LaRue knew Harriet, her grandma, an honest-to-goodness, called-by-Brigham Young pioneer, crossing the plains as a child and then settling various areas as an adult. That's only two degrees of separation!
I've found that in my life, when things start to get into a really panicky situation but I've done everything I can do, then is the time to sit back and watch the fireworks--the Lord's hand in my life making things way better than I could have imagined or expected. This account really illustrates the fireworks concept for me. Harriet must have had great faith for the Lord to bless her so much and for her to see so clearly "by whose hand [she] was led." This could have been the worst, saddest time in her life, but in this journey alone I count seven separate miracles or obvious blessings from the Lord. Go back again and see if you can find them, then look back in your own life and see if you can find a few more. I bet you will.