Joseph and Bertha Bevan
Our Mama..., Anna Bertha Sterzer Bevan
- written by her daughter, June Bevan Garrard -
Anna Bertha Sterzer was born October 24, 1895, in Cedar City, Utah. She was the daughter of John Konrad Sterzer and Berth Widmer Sterzer. They had come from Switzerland as converts to the LDS Church a year or two before, and had been married in the St. George Temple.
The family lived in a frame home when Mama was small. Grandpa had a big garden and they all worked hard on the place. They had a cow and were thrifty with their money. I think I remember hearing Mama saying they rented a spare room to someone and boarded them. Grandma made real good soups and stews.
Mama was 8 years old when she started to school and didn't speak English hardly at all. Her mother and father could barely speak it. Mama said she couldn't understand the other kids and they couldn't understand her, and teased her. She was shy anyway, and this really gave her an inferiority complex, so she swore she would never speak German anymore. She learned to speak English at school by listening to the other children, and I imagine some made friends with her and took pity on her and helped her learn. She refused to talk German even at home and almost literally taught her mother and father English as she learned it.
She soon made a lot of good friends and the people at church were friendly with them. However, there were some who took advantage of Grandpa, John Konrad Sterzer, who was extremely honest, and because he trusted them and was not able to understand English too well, was cheated a number of times.
Grandma had two baby boys and [a] girl in the years following, but they all died as babies or small children. One of whooping cough, one of typhoid fever and one of the boys would have had pneumonia. Their little graves are in the cemetery at Cedar City. Grandpa's parents and other members of the family came when Mama was small. The Grandmother, Maria Katharina Woern Sterzer, died while they were there and is buried there also. The others in the family, Grandpa's brothers, sisters, and their father, Konrad Sterzer, went on up to Eureka and Silver City and worked in the mines. The girls went to Salt Lake City. The grandfather, Konrad Sterzer, ended up in Payson and died there. He is buried in a grave in Payson that has recently been located.
Grandpa, John Konrad Sterzer, had been the oldest son in the family. The family pooled their money for him to come to the USA. He then worked and saved to send money for some of the others to come.
Mama made a lot of friends and she was starting high school at the B.A.C. when the smelter started up in Tooele and Grandpa came up to get job there. They sold out their property in Cedar City and bought a home in Tooele from John W. Tate on West Vine Street. Mama enrolled in High School for 1913-1914. She had an autograph book she got in 1907, when she was 12 years old, and many of her friends wrote in it. Then the Tooele friends wrote in it starting in 1914. (The autograph book is in the possession of her daughter, Emma Lou.)
Mama, Bertha as she was called, was active in the Oracle staff doing art work, writing stories, playing basketball, but she especially enjoyed art classes. She made some special friends, Gilda Pocock was one, and Dora Bevan was another, although they were both a little younger than she was. Aunt Dora tells that she had a picture of Bertha on her dresser and when her brother Joe came down from Canada to see the family he asked about her and said he'd like to meet her. Aunt Dora arranged the meeting and he claims it was love at first sight, especially on Dad's part.
Dad, Joseph Elkington Bevan, started courting Bertha. Since she was so shy, (I don't know if she had done any other dating, and her social life had probably been on a group level), she wouldn't go out with Dad unless Aunt Dora went along, so Dora got included in everything. I'm not sure what year this was, probably 1915 or 1916. There was a black man in Tooele called Eddie the **** who had a limousine, one of the first cars in town in those days, and he would rent out his car and himself as the chauffeur. So Dad would hire Eddie and they would go to Salt Lake to the theatre and they would get a bunch of friends together and go to Saltair to swim and dance, and they would go for buggy rides, etc. When they decided to get married and engaged, eventually they must have dropped Aunt Dora from their dates.
Mama worked at a lunch stand while they were dating. Dad used to come in and have a piece of pie and hang around talking to her. She asked him what kind of pie he wanted and he said, 'what kind do you have?' She said they only had apple that day and he teased her for asking him which kind, when there was only one kind.
I don't know if this was before or after she graduated from high school in 1916. Hers was the second graduating class of Tooele High School. The first one in 1914 and none in 1915.
They got married on March 14, 1917. Mother did not want to live in Canada, it was too far from her parents. So Dad went up to Canada and sold out what they had on the homestead that he and his Dad, Joseph Shields Bevan, had up at Waterton Lakes, and came to Tooele for good.
If I remember right, Mom and Dad were married in the Salt Lake Temple. Dad had to quit smoking, as he'd acquired a slight habit with his cronies in Canada. He was six years older than Mama, so he was 28 when he married and she was 21, turning 22 in October of that year.
They went to Brighton, Utah for their honeymoon. I imagine it was cold there in March, so I don't know if they went then or waited until the weather warmed up.
They moved into the Bryan farm in Erda and lived there and worked for Fred Bryan helping with the farm work. When she got pregnant with me, June, she said she had a lot of good milk, homemade butter, and eggs and fig weed. That was why I had good teeth growing up,.
Dad was also working on a house which he built with some help, as I'm sure he didn't do it all alone, but it was in the same lot on West Vine where Grandpa and Grandma Sterzer lived. It was a 2 room white frame house with a basement where there was room for storage (fruit and food storage.) They had moved into it by June 23, 1918 because that's where I was born on that day, with Dr. F. M. Davies as attending Physician.
The US had gotten into World War I in 1917 but Dad was turned down from the draft because he had a crooked arm, having broken it in Canada when he was thrown from a horse. He had tried to enlist in Canada a few years before and they wouldn't take him unless he became a Canadian Citizen. He decided against it as he didn't want to give up his US Citizenship.
Dad went to work on a road construction job, building a road from Cedar City up to Cedar Breaks, but I'm not sure when it was.
In the summer of 1918 Dad went to work in Idaho when I (June) was 1 month old and he was gone until November. I think he worked for the Byrans at Dubois and Spencer, Idaho.
To celebrate the end of World War I, November 11, 1918, Aunt Alice and Uncle Will Anderson came and took us for a car ride over to Stockton, Utah.
The next spring, 1919, Dad went up to Idaho to herd sheep and in June 1919, Mama took me on the train from Salt Lake to Dubois, Idaho, arriving about noon on June 10th. The next day we rode by buggy or wagon out to the sheep camp of two tents and a wagon. We stayed there ten days. On June 23rd, my first birthday, Mama and Dad celebrated by taking me to Pautages Theatre at Butte, Montana and saw a movie or a play. She said I was enthralled and never fussed or went to sleep. We had ridden a train all day from Spencer, Idaho. We spent a night at Great Falls and then to the Canadian border for baggage inspection, stopped overnight in Cardston, and then on the Twin Butte, Alberta, where we stayed with Uncle Lyde and Aunt Sadie Christensen. We were there from June 26 to Sept 2, 1919. We camped in a tent for a week at Waterton Lakes, went fishing and boating, and had a really fun time.
The Christensens came down to Tooele in September and stayed with relatives, with us, and with Grandma Bevan. Lillian was born on Grandma's kitchen table Jan. 14, 1920. In March 1920, everybody got the flu except Dad so he was the nurse. Aunt Sadie had a goiter operation and Wanda broke her leg on April 29, 1920. They went back to Canada in June 1920.
Norman was born January 3, 1921. On October 9, 1921, Mama, June and Norman went to Tetonia, Idaho on the train. Dad had leased a farm or was working one on shares. Aunt Rea Bevan and her family lived in the area and the Higley family were neighbors. We went over to Aunt Rea's for Sunday dinner and I can remember riding over there in a wagon or buggy. Also, I remember riding one of the work horses with Dad to round up the cows for milking, even though I was only 3 or 4 years old.
While we were in Idaho Mama was riding in a buggy with Norman on her lap and Annie Bevan was driving. The horses were starting to run away with buggy and Mama panicked. While Annie was trying to get control Mama jumped out of the buggy with Norman in her arms and she landed so hard that she broke her ankle. She had to lay around the house with her leg in a cast for 6 weeks. I remember her lying propped up on the bed and Dad hired Eliza Higley to come and cook and take care of Norman and I and keep the house work done up and wait on Mama while he was out working the farm.
Aunt Dora came and visited while we lived there and so did the Christensens, Aunt Sadie and kids. Harold made mud and plastered the side of the barn and teased me about the bloomers I wore. Wanda, Rose, and Lillian and I made mud pies and had a good times. We tried eating some of them. Thelma Anderson came up and stayed with us for a while, too.
Mama and I went down to Tooele on the train September 16, 1922 and J. Bert was born on September 29, 1922. We stayed in Tooele till January 1st 1923 and went back to Idaho until September., As Mama, Norman, J. Bert and I were traveling on the train back to Idaho after J. was born, Mama said that Norman got diarrhea and she ran out of diapers, but had a pair of rubber pants to put on over the diapers. She had resort to washing the rubber pants, drying them with talcum powder, and putting them on him with no diaper, until his diarrhea let up and the diapers she had washed in the restroom of the train could dry and she could use them again. She also had the new baby to care for, and I don't imagine I was much help being 5 years old, but I guess I watched one baby while she tended the other.
We moved to Tooele and Lincoln, Utah, where Dad leased a place from Grover McBride. In the fall of 1924, I started school at Lincoln (Pine Canyon). That summer, there was a grass fire started by sparks from the train and it came right up to our field. Some older girls took us children to an orchard above our place away from the fire. The adults, including Mama, fought the flames with wet gunny sacks until the Tooele Volunteer Fire Department could get there. Mama's eyebrows were singed and her face and arms were blistered from the heat. What a day that was!
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