Part 3: Nephi’s Ute Stampede

In this 1936-ute-stampede-mtg1last post about celebrations in Nephi, you will see the beginnings of the annual rodeo that is held in that city to this day.  I don’t know where the name came from, but here is the first article I found that calls it the “Ute Stampede.”  This first meeting in 1936 was held in February to gauge interest in holding another rodeo in their city later that year.  Enough interest was shown that they held a second and a third meeting to set the course for another successful celebration!  They determined that this celebration would be even bigger and better than the Blackhawk Encampment from the previous year and they bumped the dates forward to mid-July; however, you will read that they called it their 2nd annual Ute Stampede.

Many components of their previous celebrations were preserved such as: competition of bands, rodeo contract with Colborn & Sorensen, carnival contract with Monte Young, and voting for a “queen.”  Again, they appointed committees to carry out the various activities and this year they even selected a “slogan” that encouraged all to wear western clothing and return to the times of the Wild West.  In a few short months, they had a program and all was made ready for the big event.  As their organization developed, they selected Preston L. Jones as chairman for the Ute Stampede.  He had chaired the celebration the year before and was one of the main drivers influencing the city to invite the Blackhawk Encampment to Nephi.

All their efforts paid off as they held an even bigger celebration than the year before, despite some challenges with rain.  (Because of the rain on Saturday that they feared may decrease attendance, the committee had hurriedly made a decision to add one more evening for the rodeo on Sunday.)

Unfortunately the newspaper from the week of the rodeo was missing, so I don’t know if the queen was LuDean Wade or Rosemary Belliston!  However, this later article mentions the visit of Utah Governor Blood to the rodeo and his commendations to the Nephi citizens as well as the results of the baseball games, boxing matches and band competition.  Within a few weeks many businesses and citizens had pledged their support for another rodeo in 1937 (and declared that holding the rodeo on a Sunday night was not an option).

1937-ute-stampede-3These were exciting times for Nephi!  I had to hold my own excitement in check as I hurriedly scrolled through the next few months in the newspaper.  Sure enough, even earlier in 1937 the city had elected a corporation consisting of nine directors to “put on” the Ute Stampede.  They joined the Rodeo Association of America and locked in Colborn & Sorensen Rodeo Co. for future events;  later (1956) Cotton Rosser would buy out that company to form The Flying U Rodeo Company.

At right is an article listing preparations for the 3rd annual Ute Stampede to be held in 1937.  If this is true, then those pioneer citizens of Nephi counted the Blackhawk Encampment held in 1935 as their 1st annual rodeo.  This means that the most recent Ute Stampede (held in July 2016) was the 82nd rodeo to be held in Nephi, Utah.

Part 2: Nephi’s Blackhawk Encampment

If you read my last post you’ll know that Nephi was thrilled to be selected for the Blackhawk Encampment!!  The celebration dates were set for the second week in August 1935 (which means they had only 4 months to get ready).  And, they almost immediately received a telegram from Colborn & Sorensen to consider holding a rodeo for the celebration.  During the next several weeks a central committee and other sub-committees were put together.  Then, they got serious about a rodeo!

In the meantime, they were busy making plans and sending postcard invitations to family from out-of-town.  As I scrolled through the weekly newspapers, I noticed many articles about the need to clean up yards!  They held their annual 4th of July celebration which seemed almost an afterthought as they focused on the Blackhawk Encampment.  Front page news on the 4th of July was the voting procedures for their Blackhawk Queen.  The top vote-getter would be the queen, 2nd place Miss Nephi, 3rd place Goddess of Liberty, 4th and 5th place would be attendants to the queen.  Talk about an over-the-top celebration!

By the second week in July, they had decided yes to the rodeo!  They were almost ready for the celebration scheduled in just four weeks.  Their program featured many things that they had previously incorporated in other celebrations, including a mammoth pageant highlighting the first settlers in Nephi and a mammoth parade with participation from surrounding cities as well as baseball games, boxing matches, horse-racing, dancing, their annual hike up Mt. Nebo and of course, the rodeo!  Even the Governor of the State of Utah, Henry H. Blood, was there.  The town was finally ready and the Queen, Florence Chapman, had been selected.


1935 Blackhawk Ad

Part 1: Nephi’s Pioneer Day

1934 Pioneer DayThe inhabitants of Nephi had a strong Pioneer heritage.  Every year on July 24th they celebrated the settlers of Nephi.  I cannot do justice to the intensity of their celebrations!  So, check out this 1933 Pioneer Day article, which describes in detail the entries for their parade.  These celebrations were typically sponsored by the MIA and supported by the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.  Nephi took their celebrations seriously.  At left is an invitational article for the celebration that was held in 1934.  The activities appeared to increase every year including baseball, boxing and dancing.  I loved reading the follow-up article listing the winners of the “whiskers” contest among other awards.  My GG-Grandfather, Thomas Bowles’s family won first place among the “handcart” floats!

1934 Blackhawk -charter night (page)The great success of the 1934 Pioneer Day resulted in an immediate desire to hold an even bigger celebration the following year and a committee was formed to invite the Blackhawk Encampment to Nephi for 1935.  (Pioneer veterans had been holding reunions, which came to be known as “Blackhawk Encampments” named after the Black Hawk War.)  Preston L. Jones was selected as President of the Nephi post of the Sons and Daughters of Pioneers and Indian Wars Veterans.  They learned they needed to increase their membership in the group and a couple of drives were held.  Then, a banquet was planned and held (in December 1934) to show off their more than 300 members, making them the largest post in the State of Utah at that time!

The work to attract the Blackhawk Encampment to their town was often headline news (example at right, above) and there were weekly articles detailing all their efforts.  Finally, in February 1935, 40 citizens showed up in Springville along with President P.L. Jones to convince the directors to hold the Blackhawk Encampment in Nephi.   Although up against Cedar City… Nephi was selected for the annual encampment!!

1935 Blackhawk -Nephi selected


Summer of Bereavement

My summer diversions came crashing to a halt last week with the start of school, which means that I am back to work now.  Throughout this past summer I have spent one day a week at the BYU Family History center.  Downstairs in the Harold B. Lee Library is a cozy little genealogy center full of rows and rows of microfilms.  Several hundred of these microfilms contain the old newspapers from small towns in Utah.  Since my ancestors are all Utah Pioneers (literally), and since many of them settled these small towns, I have been able to find mention of them in their hometown newspapers!

In particular, I have been searching for obituaries.  Yes, I know that I could go to Utah Digital Newspapers and let them help me find obituaries.  That is a great website; however, there is something very satisfying about the hunt through the pages of a little newspaper to find your ancestor’s name.  And there is so much more to see!  In that day, the deaths in town were front page news and that is where I have found all my obituaries… alongside whatever other meaningful activities were taking place in that town.  This is how I came across the tragedy that befell the Gowers family of Nephi, Utah during the summer of 1921.

Gowers, Clyde Earl

Gowers, Deltha Bowles

I am not related directly to the Gowers family, but have an indirect connection through my great-great auntie Deltha.  Those that have followed my blog may remember my three-part series on the life of Deltha and her tragic end.  (Here is part one, part two and part three.)  For a quick refresher, Deltha Bowles (at right) married Clyde Gowers (at left) and then both were killed three years later in an automobile crash during June 1921.  I found Clyde’s & Deltha’s double obituary on the front page of the town newspaper in Nephi.  “All Nephi mourned” for them and their parents were left to raise their two sons.

Gowers, AJ and Family

*Photo above says it was taken in 1921.  Must have been taken just after the death of Clyde & Deltha since Clyde is not included in this picture with his siblings and father.  However, Clyde’s & Deltha’s two sons (Don & Jay) are included in this picture.  Left to Right Seated: Elmer, AlfredJr, Don (lap), Ronald, AlfredSr and Mont.  Left to Right Back: Jay (baby), Eva, Clarence, Bernell, Eugene and Laura.

Gowers, Nello Ray

Then, as I continued to scroll through the weekly newspapers that followed, I was saddened to see that the Gowers lost another son, Ray, just two months later.  His body was shipped home from France where he had been killed in the world war.  The Gowers were forced to hold another funeral that summer in August 1921 and again the town rallied around them, this time with full military honors for their son Ray Gowers (at left).  Subsequently, imagine my shock to find that only one month later in September 1921, the Gowers’ 15-yr-old son Elmer died from complications due to an appendicitis attack.  The town newspaper announced the funeral for Elmer Gowers saying, “Mr. and Mrs. Gowers have the heartfelt sympathy of the people of this city in their latest bereavement, as it is felt that the present summer has been filled with sorrow and trouble for them.”

Gowers, Elmer Irving

Check out this news article describing the interesting ‘health crusade’ to honor Elmer Gowers (at right) and the manifestation of love from the entire town for the Gowers family in their multiple losses over the summer of 1921.  The town newspaper said, “Every available seat in the North ward meeting house was occupied Sunday afternoon at the funeral services of Elmer Gowers, while a large number were unable to get inside of the building, all of which bore silent testimony of the sympathy that was felt for the parents and family of the young man in their latest bereavement.”

I was a Pioneer, once

Pioneer Trek Pix1a

For one week, during the summer of 1980, I had a very small glimpse of what it means to be a Pioneer.  We pulled handcarts a total of about 12-miles through the canyon near Springville during that week, with most of the travel occuring on the first day and late into that night.  At one point, we stopped and prayed for a good place to camp.  Some people were crying and we were all very sleepy and worn out.  I remember sitting there with my friend and I asked her if she could stand up and dance… then I did it.  Even with blisters on my feet, I felt that I could still find enough energy in my spirit to overcome the physical exhaustion.  I guess I had to prove it to myself.

The next morning we pushed our carts another mile and then camped there for the rest of the week.  We cooked and cleaned and played and danced.  We had the opportunity to wash our hair in a very cold spigot one day, and then danced up a dust storm that night.  This news article gives a good outline of our itinerary.  It mentions that I was the only one to hit the target with a shot gun.  I was just very lucky!  The target was an older watch attached to a tree.  I aimed… then closed my eyes… and pulled the trigger.  The “leader” (from BYU) was shocked that I had hit it.  Then, he gave me the metal ring around the watch because that is what I hit.

Pioneer Trek Pix2a
This pioneering experience was 35-years ago and before “trekking” had become as popular as it seems to be now.  The most important thing I learned was something about myself… that I could, if I would, tap into a source of inner strength to get me through tough times.  I think the source of that kind of strength is the Light of Christ.  I want to have that kind of inner strength to help myself and others.  My great-grandmothers had that type of strength.  As mothers, they traveled with their families to ‘Zion’ with the Willie & Martin Handcart companies.  My heart is turning to my Pioneer ancestors… See Malachi 4:6

Tribute to Jane Haynes James

Tribute to Mary Penfold Goble

The Original Chain Letter?

News- Scary PrayerI ran across this news article recently and had to share!  I was looking up obituaries in my hometown newspaper, The Times News of Nephi, Utah.  Actually, the paper was called the Juab County Times from 1909 – 1917.  This fun article was on the front page of that newspaper for February 10, 1911.  Who knew “chain letters” had been around that long?!

I had just found the marriage announcement for my great-grandparents, Leo & Bertha Bowles, in the November 18, 1910 issue.  I then continued to scroll through the microfilm just to see what was “front page” news in Nephi after their marriage.  I don’t know if Bertha was one of those “frightened” women, but she almost certainly saw this article in the newspaper 😉

I love how the editor shares the exact wording, grammar and spelling of this letter that “originated from some ignoramus crank!”  Can these letters ever really be traced to their original source?!  I did a little bit of googling and found one article, The Curious History of Chain Letters, that suggests these types of letters have been around since as early as 1888.

Who is John Kelsey Erikson?

Newborn John“Baby John,” as he is known in our family, was my nephew.  He was born to my sister and brother-in-law, Shellie and Bill.  Today is the 17th anniversary of his death.  He was born 3-months premature and only lived 8-months.  The best description of John’s short life was given in this Eulogy by his father during the funeral.

John only weighed 1-lb 5-oz at birth.  My family was living in California and my sister’s family was living in Utah.  I never saw John alive.  My husband did see John while on a business trip to Utah.  He said you could put a wedding ring over John’s hand and all the way up his arm to the shoulder.

Tubed JohnJohn spent almost his entire life in the hospital, with the exception of two stroller rides.  When he was finally able to go home to his family, he lived there only one week before passing.  It’s almost as if he was hanging on to life for just that chance to live with his family for one brief, happy week.

Despite his health challenges, he did have a happy life… and was definitely well-loved.  He seemed to adore his older brother, James.  Elder James Erikson is currently serving an LDS mission in Ecuador.  If John were still alive, he would likely be preparing for his own mission before his 18th birthday in October.

JohnJamesI first saw Baby John in person the night before his funeral.  I helped my sister dress him for burial and held him for the first time.  I was astonished by my sister’s strength when she stood to bear testimony at the end of the funeral.  She said she knew she would have the opportunity to see John again and raise him as his mother.  When she said that, I also knew it was true!  Her tears were due to sadness for the long separation ahead.

John is buried at Vine Bluff Cemetery in Nephi, Utah.  Gone, but not forgotten.

Funeral Program (inside)             Funeral Program (outside)            Obituaries

Headstone- Erikson, John K

5th & 6th Grades 1972-74

My family moved from Springville to Nephi, Utah over the summer of 1972 and we lived in the old home that my grandfather Bowles had built.  It was located across from the city park at 645 North 100 East.  That fall, I began attending Nephi Elementary at 380 East 200 North.  The student body included all elementary students from the cities of Nephi, Mona and Levan.

Lorrie -grade5Top Row – Mr. Bracken, Mr. Sperry, Mr. Ockey, Tammy Marshall, Doyce Olpin, Lorrie Kelsey, Gordon Jenkins, Patricia Montague, James Memmott

2nd Row – Wayne Dodd, Diane Wilkey, Val Jones, Jill Covington, Brett Sampson, Diane Bender

3rd Row – Ellen Steele, Richard Winsor, Kelly Rae Warren, Craig Van Ausdal, Carolee Menlove, Kelly Ingram, Melanie Yates, Kevin Fowkes, Michelle Kendall

4th Row – Carl Anderson, Ruthann Dailey, Ricky May, Lisa Park, Russell Belliston, Mary Smith, Jens Mickelson, Debra Prisbrey, Blair Kay

5th Row – Shelly Garrett, Wade McPherson, Shelia McPherson, Bart Wankier, Maria Harmon, Ed Lee, Carla Sherwood, Bill Motes, Tammy Palmer

6th Row – Pat McCaffery, Natalie Christensen, Leslie Keyte, Julie Wright, Craig Bateman, Julianne Spencer, Steven Bosh, Lori Lunt, Daniel Jumbo

7th Row – Michelle Jarrett, Alan Taylor, Connie Kay, Kevin Ockey, Susan Kay, Lynn Worwood, Rose Gee, Melvin Palfreyman, Louise Bowers

Bottom Row – Molly Painter, Larry Zamora, Donald Lowrey, Shawn Trauntvein, David Chase, Darin Sampson, Jeff Pay, Rusty Hall, Mary Nielsen



Lorrie -grade6Top Row – Mr. Winn, Mr. Ockey, Mrs. Anderson, Mary Nielsen, Ricky May, Michelle Kendall, Craig Van Ausdale, Jill Whimpey, Wade Smith

2nd Row – Diane Wilkey, Rusty Hall, Tammy Palmer, Natalie Christensen, Richard Winsor, Rose Gee

3rd Row – Jens Mickelson, Michelle Jarrett, Wade McPherson, Julianne Spencer, Bart Wankier, Debbie Prisbrey, Brett Sampson, Jill Covington, Ed Lee

4th Row – Susan Kay, Craig Bateman, Carolee Menlove, Kevin Fowkes, Lisa Park, Jeff Pay, Susan Jones, James Memmott, Connie Kay

5th Row – Val Jones, Ellen Steele, Kerry Lynn, Louise Bowers, Gordon Jenkins, Diane Bender, Shawn Trauntvein, Molly Painter, David Chase

6th Row – Carla Sherwood, Steven Bosh, Shelia McPherson, Alan Taylor, Kelly Rae Warren, Melvin Palfreyman, Julie Wright, Pat McCaffery, Blair Kay

7th Row – Russell Jones, Maria Harmon, Russell Belliston, Melanie Yates, Carl Anderson, Mary Smith, Kevin Ockey, Shelly Garrett, Daniel Jumbo

Bottom Row – Bill Motes, Doyce Olpin, Lori Lunt, Bret Belliston, Lorrie Kelsey, Darin Sampson, Tammy Marshall, Leslie Keyte, Kelly Ingram


The Graduates

Grad- ACrandall14a


Congratulations to my youngest daughter, Amelia, for her graduation from Lehi High School on 30 May 2014.  She graduated 2nd in her class of just over 600 students!  She has a scholarship to Brigham Young University, which she will begin attending in the fall.  She wants to study Accounting.  Also, she will be submitting her “mission” paperwork in the fall.  We are so proud of her.  Watch out world, here she comes!


Amelia comes from a long line of graduates… as shown below:

Grad- ACrandall14c


Grad- SCrandall12





Amelia receiving her diploma in 2014… and sister Sarah receiving her diploma from Lehi High in 2012.


Grad- DCrandall07Grad- DCrandall11







Older sister, Darci, graduated from Lehi High in 2007 and from BYU-Idaho in 2011.


Grad- LCHeidbrink06Grad- LCHeidbrink12








Oldest sister, Lindsay, graduated from Lehi High in 2006, then served a mission to South Dakota before graduating from BYU-Provo in 2012.


Lorrie -High School GradLorrie -BYUgrad2b

Lorrie -BYUgrad1a

I graduated from Juab High School (Nephi, Utah) in 1980, from BYU in 1986… and again from Brigham Young University in 2006.


Dean -KgradDean -High School GradDean -BYUgrad2Here’s a picture of Dean when he graduated from Kindergarten!  Also, his graduation from Santa Maria High (California) in 1979… from BYU in 1985 (no picture)… and again from Brigham Young University in 1987.



Donna -Graduation (2nd row 3rd from R)2.

This old picture is in front of Juab High School when my mother graduated from there in 1959.  Here is her high school diploma and her seminary diploma!  Below is  a picture of her graduation from Stevens Henager College in 1960.

Donna -College Grad2.

Also, I have no picture, but my father graduated from Payson High School in 1959.  Here is his jr. high diploma, his high school diploma and his seminary diploma!


Lastly, below is an old picture of Dean’s father when he graduated from dental school and a picture of Dean’s mother in her nursing uniform!

Fred -College Grad

Gwen, Nurse



In her Easter Bonnet

Donna & Nona -EasterI love this cute picture of Donna Jean (left) and her best friend, Nona!  It was taken in the early 1950’s.  She grew up in a home across the street from the Nephi City Park.  It looks like this picture was taken in the park.

Below are two more ladies all gussied up and ready to go somewhere!



At left is my great-grandmother, Annie Elisabeth Elder Kelsey. She was born in Utah in 1869 and died in Utah in 1958.






At right is my 4th great-grandmother, Harriet Hales Ellis.  She was born in England in 1824 and died in Utah in 1910.




Claybourne M Elder - Hat.



Lastly, here is a handsome picture of my 2nd great-grandfather, Claybourne Montgomery Elder.  He is the father of Annie Elder above!  He was born in Tennessee in 1827 and died in Utah in 1912.

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