Morse, Joseph Bennett - Biography


Father and mother came from South Wales. Father's family, the Morse people, originated in the area of Llanelly and Pembrey, Carmarthen shire. However, he was born at Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire on 22 October, 1850 to John Morse and Ann Bennett. His mother was of French extraction. My mother's parents were David Jenkins and Anna Evans. She was born at Abercanaid, two miles from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, 1 February 1845. Her father was a native of the Swansea district and her mother's people had moved to Merthyr Tydfil from Llanwenog Parish in Cardiganshire. During the great industrial changes taking place around Merthyr, people gathered from every shire in Wales seeking better employment.

April 29, 1865, Father and his family sailed from Liverpool, England on the ship Belle Wood.  There were 636 saints on board under the direction of William H. Sherman. They landed at New York June 1, 1865, and went on to Utah. They arrived in Wyoming, Nebraska June 15, 1865.

Esther Jenkins, with her brother David sailed from Liverpool, England April 30, 1866, on the ship John Bright. They arrived at New York June 6th and in Wyoming, Nebraska June 19th. They reached Salt Lake City September 4th in the Thomas E. Ricks company.

My parents were married in Utah where they met for the first time. They lived in Logan for a time and then moved to Malad Valley and settled in Samaria. My father took up a homestead and went through all the trials of pioneering. His brother William and his two uncles, William and Richard Morse, also settled in the same village. His parents remained in Hyde Park, Utah.

Both parents were active in church work. Mother was a Relief Society teacher for many years. Father was full of fun and had natural musical talent. He was in great demand for programs, at first playing the concertina and later the accordian [sic]. He always played for the village dances and those were the days when they danced all night stopping only at midnight for supper. Perhaps father would get a load of cedar posts for payment. Nobody had money. People gave produce and exchanged work to get things done in those days.

On the ranch above the village and just below what is now called "Squirrel Town" father grew many things. Besides feed for the livestock there were black and yellow currants, gooseberries, blue plums, red plums, red and black English currants and hops. Mint was also grown because the Welsh were fond of mint sauce on lamb which was one of their favorite meats. They always had chickens, pigs, cows, horses and a big garden with plenty of potatoes, corn, onions and long rows of pie plant, known also as rhubarb. Sometimes he would go to the ranch and get a load of these things and give them all away before he got home. Many of these things were also grown around our home in the village. Crops like grain and hay were grown on the land Father owned just north of the village limits and on the place known as the Malad field.

Father and mother loved to sing and some of the songs were: Wild Rover, Darting Mary, Lady Awake, See the Saints from Every Nation and The Gypsy Song. He could play all night and never repeat any tunes. He had a wonderful memory. Joe Thorpe who married Mary Mason used to play the violin. He and father played together for years. Welsh songs they liked to sing were: Mentra Gwen, The Bells of Aberdovey, I'm a Welshman Abroad from My Native Old Country, and The Mochyn Du. The last song had about twenty verses. Later I learned to play the organ and the piano and used to play for them.

Mother was like a doctor to many people. They always came to her when they were sick. She always had a bottle of camphor and potash in the cupboard. She used to remove foreign objects from their eyes with her tongue. Cousin Evan Jenkins got some brick splinters in his eye when they were building Ben Waldron's store. He came to my mother to get them out. She turned his eyelid up and put her tongue in and removed them. When the town had diphtheria, we used to tell her not to bring it home, but Richard, Anna and I got it anyway.

Dad was sort of an undertaker. He was always called when someone died. He would wash and lay them out. Mother took care of the women and Dad the men. They seemed to sense something was wrong before a death and felt they received a warning at times.

Like all the men in the village Father would go to the canyon and get out logs to burn. Then Uncle Ed. Richards would come and saw it with his horse and saw. The horse would walk all day in the tread machine. (The relationship is through my husband.)

When the Indians came from Pocatello Valley they always stopped to sharpen their knives and the women would beg in the village. People were always generous with them. Once in a while, Father would meet a couple of Indian bucks on his way to the canyon and not knowing whether they intended to harm him or not, he always offered to share his food with them, then they always went on their way.

One time Father, John Martin and Uncle Bill Morse went to Evanston, Wyoming to get work. They were broke and Dad told them to follow him. They went to the cafe for something to eat and since they had no money he offered to peel potatoes and wash dishes for their supper. He was successful in getting food for the three of them. One time he offered to cook for a railroad crew and got the job which lasted for several months. His only experience in cooking before that was at home in an emergency. He used to laugh heartily when telling about the various things he prepared for the meals.

As the years passed on, it became a custom to serenade some of the families at Christmas and New Years. Father would get a group together and practice for nights. One time they used a hay rack and we were out all night. I will always remember Esther Martin singing an old song called Those Pretty Little Dark Blue Eyes. We never missed going to the home of Lewis Williams, Uncle Dan Price and to Ben Waldron's store. At the last place, Ben would always put his candy buckets on the counter and tell us to help ourselves.

Joe Thorpe, Father, and I used to play for the children's dances. At night when playing for the adults we did it on percentage. Sometimes we made $3.00 and maybe more. In those days Uncle Dan Price and Uncle Davy Jenkins used to run the dances.

My father died 13 July 1916, and mother died 21 July 1913. Both passed away at the home of my sister Ann in Pleasant View, Idaho, which is a few miles from Samaria. They are buried in the Samaria cemetery among those they knew so well over the years and close to their kindred who shared their joys and sorrows. Theirs was a life of service to others.

- Jane M. Thomas; daughter






Morse, Joseph Bennett

Jenkins, Esther


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