Abstract: This is an oral history of Laree Jesup Elmer Shurtleff. It was conducted February 12, 2007 and concerns her recollections of the history of the Marriott-Slaterville area.
LS: My name is Laree Jesup Elmer Shurtleff because I was married twice. I was born in Wilson Lane in Weber County. My parents moved from Ogden to Cache Valley. We lived in Millville and then in Logan. In 1927 we moved to Franklin County, Idaho, where my father had bought a forty acre farm. There was nothing on it except forty acres of hay with a fence around it. We lived outside in the open the first summer we were there. We took our baths in the irrigation ditch. The Clifton school wagon would not come down to get us because we were so far out, clear on the outskirts of Clifton. We were closer to Dayton, so the Dayton school wagon came within about a block and a half of our house. We went to the Dayton school the first year we lived there. I was in the sixth grade. The next year, Clifton decided they wanted us so they sent their school wagon down after us. I went from seventh grade through twelfth grade at Clifton. The school was a high school, and there was no junior high there. The elementary was on the first floor and the high school on the second floor of the building. We had two classrooms and a long, narrow gym in the high school. I graduated from there in 1934.
I was married on the 2nd of November of 1938, then came to Marriott on the 1st of December 1938. We lived with my mother-in-law and her youngest daughter, my husband’s younger sister who never married, until my second child was about five months old and then we moved into a little two room house on the same lot. We had no water in the house, no bathroom fixtures, and we lived there in that little house where we had five children until the winter of 1948 when we had built a bigger house in front of the little one. My youngest daughter was born in the new house. The house that my mother-in-law lived in was built in 1897 and she moved into that house when she had two little boys. Her first daughter was born there in 1900.
My youngest son now owns the old Elmer home where we first lived when we got married. I now have three sons and a daughter and a granddaughter. I did have two grandsons that lived on the same street, and that is why they called it Elmerville. Anyway, my husband worked at the First Security Bank as a night watchman. He worked there when the prisoners of war were stationed at the Depot. When we decided to build our new home we bought the mess hall from over there after the prisoners were released. They tore it down and hauled it over to our yard and we had to build a house according to the shape and the size of the rafters that were on this building. We lived in that house until 1972 when we moved into our new house across the street and just a little bit East.
My husband’s mother was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and joined the church there and came over here when she was about eighteen years old. She worked for a farmer as a housemaid and one day a young man came in to bring in his mother’s produce, eggs, butter, and so forth to exchange in the store for the things that they couldn’t make themselves. As he saw this young lady back in the kitchen of this store he asked about her and was told that she came from Denmark and he says to the man, “That is the girl I am going to marry.” Well he didn’t speak any Danish and she didn’t speak any English so when they started going together, her older sister who had come here earlier had to go with them to be interpreter for their courtship. They were eventually married in the Salt Lake Temple.
My husband’s grandfather, William Elmer, came across the plains and settled out here and farmed in this area somewhere. Later he lived with his family in Bingham’s Fort. One time before the Pineview Dam was built when the river overflowed, he lost five acres of grain overnight. It was just washed away and he had to start over. Then he also lived up in Ogden City, and he had a big barn that was up there torn apart and hauled down to the area where we lived and put back together again. Later we had a fire in the barn and it burned to the ground. We live in the area between the railroad tracks and where the Ogden and the Weber River join right back of our place. My husband was a farmer most of his life. His father had poor eye sight and so he stayed and was the last of their family to be married. The rest got jobs and went away, so the farm reverted back to him. That is where I have lived ever since I came here.
My oldest daughter lives in Denmark and has done since April of 1969. We have been over to visit her a time or two. One time there was a couple that came from Denmark that wanted to come and visit us. They tried to find us and never could because they were looking for Elmersville. There was no Elmersville on the map.
I guess my fondest memories are right now. I am still here. The ward was a pretty good sized ward when we first moved here. Then the IRS took a lot of the Depot property and a lot of the people had to move out. We had ward reunions, we had Relief Society bizarre, and one time the church was invaded by a transient. He went down in the basement where the Relief Society had their things and slept and ate what he could find down there and left. He took a quilt with him – we made a lot of quilts back then. James Ritchie was the bishop for thirty-two years and then they moved to Idaho. His son-in-law LaVell Butt became our bishop. Over the years we have had Carl Hodson, Grant Hodson, Delbert Hodson, Bishop Eto, and Del Funk, Clarence Buck, and our present bishop is Danny Brown. We have quite a few ex-bishops living in our ward now.
When they went to the block meeting schedule I had been on a mission in Arizona. When I came back they had combined part of one of the Slaterville wards into Marriott and the other part into the other Slaterville ward. It was just like I had come back to a new ward. There were a lot of people that I didn’t know because I wasn’t acquainted with the people in Slaterville. Now we have three Marriott-Slaterville wards. Technically all the ward members were there to the ward reunions. People who had lived here came from other places to be at this ward reunion. We just had a good time, ate together, played games, socialized, had a dance, and whatever came up we had. It was fun!
My husband worked long hours because he worked at the bank as a night watchman and he farmed in the daytime. When he would have an irrigation turn sometimes he never even had his shoes off between jobs. It was a lot of hard work. He used to raise sugar beets and tomatoes. It got to where a small farmer was just pushed out. You have to have a big acreage and big machinery now to be a farmer.
After I was married I thinned beets and topped beets for my husband. We used to have to go out to—I think it was Cainsville or somewhere out there to pick up migrant farm workers to come and help in the farm work when it was beet crop time. I had also done that before I was married for my dad. My dad used to call me his best beet thinner.
All my children went to school in Weber County. First, Wahlquist was an elementary school and then they built the Pioneer school so the elementary went to Pioneer, the junior high went to Wahlquist, and the high school kids went to the old Weber High School up on 12th and Washington. They all graduated from there. There has been a few of them go to college at Weber State. At one time or another, my children have all moved away. But most of them have come back and live right by me. I have a son and a daughter on each side of me and two sons across the street, a granddaughter in-between me and my daughter, and I did have two grandsons down the street a little ways. One has moved to Layton and the other one is still there. Another grandson around the corner on 1200 West and now he is moving to Tremonton. But that is why it is called Elmersville, it has always been a big part of my life and my family’s life.
My husband and I filled a mission in Alabama. After he died I went on a mission to Arizona and I have had several grandchildren go on missions. My great-grandchildren are not old enough yet but they will be sometime. I have had several different positions in the ward as teachers. I was Beehive Teacher for seventeen years and I was Junior Sunday School Coordinator for nine years which I quit to go on a mission to Alabama. I have been Relief Society Counselor, Primary Counselor, and I have played the piano for Relief Society and Primary for I guess sixty years. I am still playing for Relief Society at the age of 91 almost. I am also a Temple Ordinance Worker and have been for fourteen years now. I will continue to stay close to the church that is the big thing, staying close to the church, obey the commandments and stay out of debt. I have thirty-nine grandchildren, ninety-seven and four on the way great-grandchildren. Most of them are under the age of nineteen. One step—I don’t know how many steps—great-great-grandchild.
Back in the ‘70’s, to help supplement our income off the farm which was not enough to support all of us, I worked for the State of Utah as a driver for a blind rehabilitation teacher. His name was Lynn Cruiser. There is nothing I can say about him that is not uplifting. He would try anything. He was legally blind and he was born that way. But there was nothing he would not try to do. If he couldn’t do it—okay, he would go on to something else. That is something else that we all need to do. Do what we can do and forget about what we can’t do. Be happy with what you have got.
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