Enterprise Stories-The First Family in Enterprise
Last month, our little town was bursting at the seams with people who traveled to attend the Cornfest. Many of us most likely breathed a sigh of relief when our town returned closer to its normal size at the end of the day. While we enjoy our slower paced life here in Enterprise, there was a time when it was even slower. A time when just one family climbed out of their wagon and built the first home in the middle of the valley below old Flat Top.
Ben and Sarah Morris and their children were the first family to settle in Enterprise in 1896. Sarah met Ben in Orderville, Utah. After a year of courtship, the couple was married. The following are Sarah’s memories of the early days of Enterprise.
“…Our first baby, John Bernard, was born…Sept. 10, 1894. When he was about three months old we decided to move to another place. Ben had been out in the country which is now Enterprise. He felt that it was a place that would be good for the family. It showed promise with good land and a reservoir soon to be built. We left in December and people thought we were foolish to take a baby on such a trip in the winter. Ben had made arrangements for us to live at the Holt Ranch during the winter. Brother Holt and his family lived up at Hebron. I can remember how my mother cried when I left. She seemed to feel that I was really going out in the wilderness. My sister Libby and her husband accompanied us on the trip from Orderville to the Holt Ranch; it took us seven days to get there.
We stayed at the Holt Ranch and Ben worked for Brother Holt the following summer. The first winter we lived out at the Meadows or Hamblin, as the Post Office was called. I taught school in a rock building that winter; school closed for Christmas holidays and Mary Jane was born Mar. 14, 1896 while I was still living at Hamblin. We moved out to the home Ben had built on the desert, the first home in Enterprise. He had hauled the logs from Pine Valley. Mary was just two weeks old when we moved to our new home. Libbie Canfield took care of me when Mary was born; she thought it was foolish for us to move when she was so young but we moved and the baby thrived and all was well. There was no worry about formulas and prepared baby foods, natures way of feeding babies was all we had in those days and it was a very satisfactory way.
Ours was the only house in the new location. The road to Hebron, Piocha and Delamar went right by our door and that summer all kinds of people came through the country. There were tramps, men seeking work at the mines and all sorts of men going through. Hyrum was a boy of eleven and when Ben had to be away he would hire Tracy Hunt (Barnum) from Old Hebron to stay with us. It was six miles to Hebron and six miles to the Holt ranch from our place. While Ben was building our house he hauled water from one place or the other. After the house was built he dug a well for culinary purposes. The men going through always stopped to get water from our well. Ben went down 35 feet for the first well. In the stormy weather the water would come up in the well and there was always plenty water for all.
Now we began to get some neighbors; Perry Winsor and his family took up their summer residence out where the Winsor’s still live. Lige Adair and Lucy, Cyrene and Lillie Fackerell, all old friends from Orderville, came out here to live; the William Hall family also moved into this area. The whole country was covered with tall sage brush and coyotes were always within range; our dogs were always fighting off the coyotes and they would come into the yard and steal the little pigs or anything they could find. Once when I was feeding my hens one coyote was so brave it came right up and tried to get a hen and I chased it off with a stick.
Ben used every spare minute clearing away the sage brush. The first land to be cleared was the five acres in front of our house. He worked building fences and there was so much to be done. We planted corn and raised a fair crop of roasting ears with only the rain for water. Snakes were everywhere, most of them rattlers. My baby was sitting on the floor in the kitchen and a rattlesnake crawled right past the baby; I grabbed the baby and the snake curled up under the stove. I called the men and Ben came in and shot the snake. One day Sister Winsor came to call on me; she stopped and called for me to bring a stick to kill a snake, so I took a stick and there curled up in the path was a big rattlesnake so I killed it and she came on up to the house.
The first child born in Enterprise was my second daughter on June 7, 1898 and we named her Margaret Deseret… Building material was hard to get in our desert location. Cyrene Fackerell brought the lumber for his house from Orderville. Those first brick houses were built of brick made right in Enterprise. All the water used in the brickmaking for those first homes was taken from our wells.
We held Sunday School around in the different homes and sacrament meetings were also held. We were not organized into a ward until the folks from Hebron moved down. We built a bowery type of shelter with tall poles for uprights and willows piled all over the roof and this was used for dancing. Young Job Hall played the violin for us to dance; he was only twelve but he played well enough for us to dance. We occasionally went up to Hebron for a dance or meeting. Before the Hebron folks moved down they would have the 4th of July celebration in Enterprise and the 24th of July celebration in Hebron. The first flag raised in Enterprise I raised on the corner of my house on July 4, 1897 with a flag I made myself.
We were building up our home and our family. Our daughter Tessa Elizabeth (Libbie) was born Aug. 26, 1900…When Libbie was about a few weeks old we moved up to Grass Valley on the Burgess Ranch. We stayed on the ranch and cared for the stock that was left on the ranch. The next summer Ben raised a good crop. We had been there a year and we moved to Pine Valley to send the children to school…We had good crops, milked cows and made cheese. Rose was born on July 16, 1902.
We moved back to our home in Enterprise and it was about this time that the big earthquake came. The women were alone in Enterprise and when the quake came it was a frightening thing. The old logs in my house creaked and made terrible noises. The women got together the next night in Aunt Tess Canfield’s brick house. The men told us when they returned that the brick house was the most dangerous place we could have chosen.
I will break away here for just a paragraph to tell about my experience of early days when we first moved from Orderville to the Holt Ranch. That first year we were in on a big rabbit hunt staged by the Indians. The weather was pleasant and the young people from the Holt Ranch went down on the desert between Enterprise and the ranch. There the Indians gathered after a big day hunting jackrabbits. They built a big fire then buried the rabbits in the coals; they didn’t bother to skin them or clean them in any way, just tossed the rabbits into the coals, fur and all. Then the Indians danced; some of the young folks from the ranch joined in the dance and I was one of them. One of the big old bucks seemed to be master of the barbecue. When the rabbits were done to suit his taste he dragged them out of the coals, a rabbit to each Indian. How eagerly they waited their turn for a rabbit. When rabbits were tossed to them they would hold it up and peel off the skin and the flesh would show up white and smooth. The ears came off with the skin so it was a funny-looking piece of meat. They began to devour it and how they seemed to relish that barbecued rabbit.
Federal surveys had been made of the land around Enterprise and the settlers bought what they could from the Government. We raised good crops of dry land corn before the water was brought down. It was more than we could get shucked and other things around us. We began to prosper and get stock and other things around us. The water was brought from the reservoir and we soon raised plenty of hay. It was wonderful to have plenty and not feel so poverty pinched. Our son worked very hard to build that big ditch or canal to bring the water down to Enterprise.
The Hebron people began moving down to Enterprise; their brick houses had been badly shaken by the earthquake. As more people moved into town the time had come for us to be organized into a ward. Brother George Holt had moved his family to Enterprise and he was our first bishop…
When Rosa was two years old another precious baby girl was born to us on Dec. 22, 1904. Aunt Nora Gardner came over from Pine Valley to take care of me. Our baby was a pretty little thing with long dark hair and we named her Vera. She took cold and it developed into pneumonia. Aunt Millie Fackerell and Elma Johnson had babies die within a week or two of my own. I had a strange dream one night before either of the babies took sick; I dreamed I saw a knoll with three little mounds on top of it–my husband, Cyrene Fackerell and Fritz Johnson were plowing around the knoll. When the babies became ill I remembered my dream and it made me feel very queer.
…I shall always remember my very first experience with a car. I had been up in the south of town visiting the sick, it was about 1:30-2:00 A.M. and I was walking home. When I got out on the road I saw a car stopped; some men were in the car and they called out to me and asked where they might find a place to spend the night. I tried to direct them to Sister Barnums but I made a poor job of it. I finally told them that I would walk along and show them the way. The car at its slowest could travel much faster than I could walk so the men suggested that I ride with them. I was more than a little bit worried as I stepped on the running board and told them that I would ride there. They said that I would be more comfortable in the car and I decided that I might as well try it. When I sat down I asked them where they were from and they told me Texas. I had a second of panic–I had an idea that Texans were a pretty wild bunch, but the fellows followed my directions and I went safely home. Imagine a good Relief Society sister riding with wild men from Texas at 2:00 o’clock in the morning in a newfangled automobile. What an experience!
Another time I was coming home late. One of our cows had come home late, too, and was lying outside the corral on the walk. As the darkness was very thick I stumbled over the cow and jumped up again. I have no idea which was the most frightened, the cow or I.
We had to look out for each other in those days. Doctors were far away and sitting up with the sick was a common experience.
An incident occurred one Sunday morning up at the reservoir that was quite impressive. A group of young people had gone up there on an outing instead of going to church. For some reason the Bishop felt impressed to go up to the reservoir instead of going to church himself. Bernard was in this group of young people. The girls were over near the dam getting ready to go swimming. Bishop Holt was standing talking to the group of boys when a girl came running up and said that Amy Turman was drowning. She had stepped off the rock ledge into the very deep water. The boys and Bishop Holt hurried to the spot and the only one among them that could swim was Bernard. At first he got in with his clothes on, then he climbed out, threw his clothes off and dived in again and brought Amy out of the water. Bishop Holt gave artificial respiration to the girl who was nearly gone and she was soon breathing again. This was the only accident I ever heard of at the reservoir.
My husband had worked over at Delemar; one of the worst features of that type of work was the dust. We called it Delemar dust and it would go into the worker’s lungs. This dust made him very susceptible to other diseases. It seemed like he took every disease that came along. He was an ambitious man and sitting around taking care of himself was very hard on him…My husband coughed all the time and was bedfast three or four weeks before his death…Ben’s death in 1917 left us in sorrow and loneliness, but now we were well provided for. There were pigs to kill, grain in the bins and seventy acres of land that belonged to us. We were really in good circumstances. Bernard was twenty-two years old and he managed everything well. He was truly an arm to lean on…In March of that year, 1919, Bernard took the flu and died…When the flu struck our little town there was sorrow in many homes. Bernard went from house to house helping to take care of those that were stricken. He was the last to take the disease and his was the last death from the dreadful epidemic…
By 1921 there were quite a few people living in Enterprise. In a letter I wrote to my mother, dated April 19, 1921, I had this to say, “Last Sunday in Sunday School we had one hundred and ten parents and the officers and teachers extra. There were from seventy-five to ninety out to Priesthood meeting and over three hundred out to Sacrament meeting. This is a sample of what we have every Sunday. There are 683 belonging to this ward.”
…I took over the work as central operator for the People’s Telephone Company in about 1922 or 1923 and had the office in my home. I had so many messenger calls and had no way to take the calls except on foot. Lynn Peterson, then a little boy, often came in and played the organ for me. One day he came to take me for a ride. He had his older brother’s buggy and team of horses. I decided to go with him up to Tom Robinsons on a messenger call. Lynn was too little to hold the horses and they ran away with us. We were both thrown out of the buggy as the horses finally ran into a telephone pole and were stopped. I had two or three broken ribs and had to go up to Hi’s for awhile until I could get around again. Verga tended the phone as best she could and Deseret lived near and could help. During the following years I did many things, in fact, I tried everything that came my way to make a living…
…I am at present in Utah’s Dixie, not so full of pep as I used to be, but happy with my family and friends. It seems to me that I am about the last one of the first group of settlers who came to Enterprise.
************************** Note added to the history by Sarah Deseret Morris: …A committee of Enterprise sent me an invitation to be there on the 24th of July, 1954 for the morning program as I was to be honored as the last living pioneer of the town. I hadn’t been well so the evening of the 23rd we drove to Enterprise and spent the night with my grandson, Kent Simpkins and wife. The girls dressed me up on the 24th and I walked across the street to the new church house. During the program a tribute was read in my honor. At this time they also pinned a corsage of beautiful flowers on me and played an old favorite tune of mine (they said I had lived up to it all my life), “I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight.” Then they had my daughter Deseret stand up as the first child born in Enterprise. I did enjoy the program so very much. Then I went over to Kent’s house and so many friends came to see me; it was a day I will never forget. We didn’t stay for the dance, but went back to St. George and got home at 11:00 P.M. that night. I enjoyed the trip very much and it didn’t hurt me at all. I began to spend some time in bed, my appetite failed and I grew weak and tired. My girls all came to be with me and I received so many nice cards and letters and so many of my friends came to see me.”
Sarah Deseret Meeks Morris passed away Sept. 9, 1954 at 5:00 P.M. in St. George, Utah. Funeral services were held in Enterprise and burial was in the family plot in the Enterprise Cemetery.
Story Source: “Autobiography of Sarah Deseret Meeks as told to Marilla Cook.” https://familysearch.org/photos/stories/3457242
Photos: Family Search and “A Century of Enterprise,” by W. Paul Reeve