Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jay Richardson family 2012 Christmas update


December 2012


Dear Family and Friends,


I value the friendships made over the years. I want you to know at this Christmas time my love and appreciation for the positive influence you have made in my life and the lives of my children. I am still trying to adjust to life without Jay. It helps to keep busy with family and church. I have enjoyed this past year serving as a missionary at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. I have standby flying privileges from my years of working for an airline so fly up every Wednesday morning and usually fly back to Arizona that evening. If any of you are in Salt Lake on a Wednesday afternoon I would love to give you a tour of that beautiful dedicated building. The auditorium has 21,000 seats with no obstructions and throughout the building there are over 50 original paintings plus a six acre roof garden with a beautiful view of Temple Square. Each week I have many wonderful missionary experiences giving tours to people that come from all over the world. Besides being a Conference Center Missionary I also serve as a spiritual care volunteer at the hospital here in Mesa and I have set a goal to go to the temple at least once a week. I am also the Mesa Alma Stake Historian and Keating Ward Canning specialist. This keeps me busy along with keeping up with my 11 living children, 64 grandchildren and 19 (plus more on the way) great grandchildren. I love to travel and enjoy invitations to travel with my children and families.


I miss Jay writing in rhyme about our family. Let me give you a quick rundown. Miriamand Tony live in Council Bluffs, Iowa where Tony is serving in the Stake Presidency and Miriam is a seminary teacher. They just opened their 10th Papa Murphy Take Home Pizza store. They have six of our great grandchildren. Kasey and Emily live in Provo and expect their second boy in February. Skylerand Rebekah and their two children live close to them in Council Bluffs, Carrie and Bret and their three children live in Bremerton, Washington. They are moving to Washington, DC for six months to work on a special project with the government. Dallas, Colby and Jamie attend BYU. It looks like they will have at least two weddings this year. Kayla, their youngest is the only one still at home. She is a junior in High School.


Marlene and Mark and their thirteen children live close by me here in Mesa where Mark is director of the Church Cannery. Melanieand Nate recently moved to Provo and are expecting their 4thchild, Bonnie and Spencer and their five with one on the way are in Mesa. Jordan and Kaitlin are completing his master’s degree at BYU and moving to Houston with their baby. Dallinand Laura are attending podiatry school in Des Moines and are expecting their first in March. Carl graduated from BYU and planning on going to medical school this fall. Garyis up at BYU. Rebekah is serving a mission in Guatemala and Jaron a mission in North Carolina. Emily graduates from Mesa High this spring and is excited to be one of the ten virgins in our Easter Pageant. I have an extra room if any of you want to come to Arizona for Easter. Quinn just turned 16 and is excited to drive. Their youngest three boys are Kyle, 13, Tyler, 11, and Ryan 8.


Rauna and Fred will have all eight of their children home for Christmas. Adriannejust graduated from BYU Idaho, Erin and Dantley have two cute little boys and are here in Mesa , Carinnefinished her mission in Argentina, Parker is at BYU, Nathan just returned home from his mission in Chile, Chelsea is attending BYU Idaho, Jamie is one of my four grandchildren graduating from High School this year. They have all applied to BYU and hope to get in. Their youngest Dale is a freshman at Mesa High. They provide plenty of entertainment for me because they all like to be in school and other musical and drama productions.


Joann and Robert live in Ohio where he is the Civilian Chief Engineer at the Dayton Air Force Base. They have nine children. Robert also serves in the Stake Presidency and Joann is the Primary Chorister. Camille and Jason live in Boston with their two little boys, Travis graduates from BYU this year and is planning a March wedding, Braden returned from his mission in Bulgaria and attended a semester at BYU Jerusalem. Derek is on a mission in Brazil, Janae graduates from High School this year, Evan is a High School Freshman,and Levi is in middle school and nine year old twins Spencer and Preston keep them busy.


Vernon and Connie live in Arkansas where Vernon is Dean of the Accounting Department at the University of Arkansas. They have a busy household of twelve children. Alison and Robert will finish at BYU this year, Alison with a bachelor’s degree and Robert with his masters. They expect their first baby in May. Their next two children, Melissa and Hyrum are also at BYU. Rebecca, Benjamin, Rachel, Bethany, Matthew, Daniel, David and Mason keep things busy at home. Their youngest is four.


Ray works in Chandler at Intel. He is still not married but we all have our hopes that it will happen soon.


Kenneth and Jenni enjoy living in Provo and all of the activities around BYU. Kenneth works as a doctor caring for the newborns at Utah Valley Hospital. They have five children. Betsy has two older brothers and two younger brothers. She enjoys Irish Folk Dancing competitions. Jaredwill graduate from High School in the spring, Marcus and Jared both play in the high school band. Adam was baptized just a year ago and Andy two weeks ago.


Margie and Russ are in the Air Force. Russ is currently training pilots in Del Rio, Texas. Margie is President of their Relief Society. Lucy started kindergarten this year and Jay (named for his Grandpa) keeps his mother company at home.


Melvin and Tami live in Farmington, Utah. Melvin is an anesthesiologist at the Davis County Hospital. They have three girls and then three boys. Kaitlin started Junior High this year. Ashley and Kaitlin are great violin players. I love hearing them perform. Lauren is a third grader. Their three little boys are about the same size. They were cute Three Musketeers for Halloween. Tanner is in Kindergarten, Carter turned four this month and Logan had his second birthday last week.


Dean and Jennifer live in Tacoma, Washington. Dean baptized Jennifer and they plan to be sealed next month. Jennifer is a wonderful homemaker. Dean’s two girls are Devyn in 4thgrade and Brielle in the first grade.


Amy is so good to stop by and help me. I don’t know what I would do without her. She enjoys fixing up her home. She has as great job as the program planner for the Arizona Hospital Association.


I hope this didn’t get too wordy for you but I didn’t know what to leave out. They are all so special to me. In summary ten of my 64 grandchildren were married in the temple with a good possibility of five or six more this year. I have 15 grandchildren that attended BYU this past year, four graduating from high school in the spring and three grandchildren that were just baptized. They all bring me lots of joy. I am attaching our family picture taken July 2011 at our Utah Family Reunion. All of Vernon’s family were in Europe except for Alison and Robert and missed the reunion.


For years Jay wrote a poem for us to include in our Christmas greeting. This is one of my favorites.


CHRISTMAS IS COMING
The Christmas season's upon us--
That "magical" time of year,
When the world's in a better mood,
With charity, hope, and cheer!

When we're commemorating,
Celebrating Christ's birth;
And all the things He's done for us,
From heaven and on earth,

The miraculous nativity;
His life of service and care;
But most of all His atonement--
It's blessings which we share.

We feel a little more "peace on earth,"
More "good will towards men"--
His spirit really does touch us,
As Christmas comes again.

Oh--one more thing--a suggestion,
For a more special Christmas view;
Think not "How much do I need to spend,"
But "How best can I serve you"!

The Christmas season's upon us--
That magical time of year!
May your Christmas time be happy--
Brim full of Christmas cheer!
--Jay M. Richardson

My love and wishes that you will have a lovely Christmas with your families and a New Year filled with the greatest blessings of our Father in Heaven.


Love, Lavona Richardson

Indonesia Christmas miracle

OUR INDONESIAN CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
By Lavona Richardson

It was coming to the end of our mission in Bogor, Indonesia in December 2004.  We could have come home in time for Christmas but Jay and I decided that we wanted to spend Christmas with our friends in Indonesia to help them have a good Christmas.  Many of them were from Muslim families so what we could help provide would be the only Christmas they would have.


We were very busy finishing up all of our Humanitarian projects but scheduled a Christmas party with all the new members in Jasinga.  Jasinga was quite a distance from where we lived in a very remote area.  The day before the party we received a Christmas package from Miriam.  We opened it just enough to see that it contained things for a Christmas party and took it with us to our party.


When we arrived at Jasinga and looked into the package the first thing we saw was a string of Christmas lights.  We told our new friends that we needed a Christmas tree.  They took an axe and went out and cut a tree down and brought it into the member’s home where Church services were held.  Someone brought in a bucket of sand to set up the tree and we strung the lights around the tree.  They didn’t have electricity but had a generator that they set up to plug the lights in.  The lights were American lights and different than the electricity in Indonesia.  It was a miracle that they lit up. 


I will never forget the smiles on the children and the adults alike as they saw a Christmas tree for the first time all lit up. 


We pulled out of Miriam’s package some other decorations for the tree and gifts for everyone.  We sang Christmas carols around the tree.  I felt the Christmas spirit as we celebrated Christmas with these good people who had so recently found the Gospel of Jesus Christ and fully embraced it.  I know that Heavenly Father provided this miracle to let us know that he was pleased with what we were doing in this far off country and how we were celebrating his birth.  I enjoy lights on the Christmas tree and each year when we  string the lights around the tree and turn them on I remember this miracle of how the lights lit up in Indonesia  when they were not suppose to because it was t he wrong current.  I remember that all things are possible with our Heavenly Father when we do our part.  This was also a confirmation to me that he would continue to bless his children in Jasinga as they strive to live the teachings of their new Church even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Princess Agnes Story -- Part 3


Part 3

One night, young Sarah had been sleeping in the wagon box on the ground, in camp outside the new house.  She woke in the night and cried out that Liz had pinched her.  Liz denied it and Sarah got settled down.  Later it happened again, until Green told her he’d lay down close to the wagon box by her to make sure Liz didn’t pinch her.  All went back to sleep until they awakened by another scream, this time from Green!  He jumped up and chased away a coyote!  In the morning, one shot from James’ gun and there was no more coyote!

James and Agnes’ family set up the household and life was good on the farm in Utah.  It wasn’t the same as a tobacco plantation that had provided them such luxury before, but here they could worship as they wished, and grow with the Saints in their new faith.  The hurts from the past had begun to heal and they settled down with their three children William, Charles, and Sarah, and of course Liz and Green, members of the family too. 

It was a bright Sunday in May of 1849, and the Flakes were all dressed up in the best Sunday clothes they had, sitting in church.  From the pulpit, Bishop announced new missionary assignments from the Brethren.  Agnes held her breath, but yes, James was called.  This time he was to go to California to scout out a place for the poor Saints who would come by water to the West Coast.  Once again, James was to be a colonizer and a friend to the poor and needy, as his son William would also become.
 
 Agnes encouraged James to go on this mission and do his duty, though it had been a shock for her. She felt like she should be used to James being away from her.  But he had tenderly stayed back from the original treks West, to care for her and the babies.  She had so loved his help and watchful care.  How great it had been here in Utah at last to farm together.  Agnes focused on enjoying every day that they spent together, working the farm. She knew there were poor Saints arriving on the West Coast that needed his expertise.  She tried once again to put her trust in the Lord.

October came, and then, the day of her James’ departure.  Just before he left for the barn, to saddle up Molasses, the mule he’d be taking (he’d left the best of the animals to help work the farm), James called over William. He was now almost 11.  “William,” said his father, “I am counting on you, son.  You are to be the man of the family for now.  Watch over your mother and your brother and sister.  You know how to farm, and the Lord will bless you while I am gone.”   James said a tender good-bye to Charles and little Sarah, not quite 3.  Then he pulled Agnes close.  “Lady Agnes,” he whispered, “my lovely bride.  How I love you.  How good you are, and true.”  Tears streamed down both of their faces.  They had been through a lot together.  He had had so many assignments to help the Saints with their trek.  But this seemed different, so final.  Their embrace was extra long, and extra sweet.  At last, Agnes pulled away.  She knew she must be strong, and send her darling on this mission.

Then, crickets came to Utah in the winter of 1849-50, hundreds and thousands of them in a big dark cloud.  Agnes and her family along with everyone else, were out fighting the crickets, trying to save their little crop.  If they lost it, they would starve.  But James was gone, and 11-year old William in charge.  He had everyone, Agnes, Charles, and Sarah, and Liz whacking at those crickets as hard as they could, while Green kept the awful smoky smudge pots burning.  As she whacked at those crickets as hard as she could with her hoe, while more kept coming, some even crawling up her dress, she suddenly started to laugh!  “Mother, are you all right?” asked Charles.  She had thought back to how as a little girl, she had tried to pick up a hoe in the backyard.  Father had been furious!  No daughter of his would handle a hoe!  And Agnes had been sent inside to sit with the ladies and learn needlework!

The saints fought and fought until the people were falling from exhaustion and yet the crickets seemed to be increasing.  At this point, the Lord sent another miracle.  “Although it was a bright day, a shadow fell over the fields, and a noise of wings came nearer; they wondered if it was a new calamity.  They looked up and the sky was full of gulls.  For a moment they stood in wonder.  Then the birds lit right at their feet, paid no attention to the people, but began picking up the crickets.  The people stood in awe, and witnessed the salvation of the Lord.”  The tame seagulls “filled their craw, flew to the stream, drank and disgorged and went back to their work, and never quit until the fields were cleaned.  Then they flew away.” Agnes and her kin dropped to her knees in gratitude for this wonderful miracle, and they knew the Lord was watching over them.  Today there stands in Temple Square, a seagull monument, the only monument built to honor a bird.

During his trip out to California, James and his company had their own trials.  When they  passed through what would later be called Death Valley, both the men and the animals were without water for a long time.  When they couldn’t go any further, they unsaddled the horses, and lay down on the sand, thinking they would soon die.  One man, Brother Rich, knelt down and told the Lord of their desperate condition and how much they were depending on Him.  After his prayer, he went back to the other men, aroused them, and told them help was in sight.  “They looked up at the bright, clear sky.  He told them to spread their canvas out prepared to catch water.  They looked at him, and he pointed to the West.  There they saw a small cloud, so small it could hardly be seen.  It grew rapidly, and they had no more than made their preparation, than the rain fell, and they caught all the water they needed for themselves and their horses.  They prepared a meal and went on their way rejoicing in the great blessing the Lord had showered down upon them.  The cloud had quickly disappeared, and the sun beat down on them as before.  Only a few rods from their camp, there was no evidence of the life-giving rain.”  (Osmer, p. 14) 

It was later on this trip that one of the men lost the cinch for his spirited horse.  James gave the man his, as he thought this man needed it worse, and went without.  But later, his own mule got spooked and James was thrown from it.  He called out “Brethren, lay hands on me!”  But these were his last words; he died of a broken neck.  It was a terrible tragedy, and Agnes was left a widow at age 30, with her three remaining children to raise.

Word reached her three months later, as she lay sick with tuberculosis.  Agnes was stunned and heartsick with this terrible blow.  Yet the Spirit was once again there to comfort her.  Agnes knew of the great reward to one who gave his life for his friend, and she took comfort in the greatness of her James.  He had given his means and his whole life since joining the church to helping his fellow men.  With time, she picked herself up and determined to endure.

With the memory of the struggle with crickets still fresh in her mind, and recovering slowly from her TB, Agnes decided to leave farming.  A group of her friends—converts from Mississippi—were leaving to go settle in San Bernadino Valley, CA.  The weather was mild and the ocean air would be good for her lungs.  So in 1851, Agnes and her children sold their farm and took yet another journey to California.  It was another long, hard journey, this one across the desert.  The family suffered greatly many times without water.  Once when she stopped to have the wagon repaired, the family who had also stopped, who she had planned to travel with, gave up and turned back.  But Agnes would not quit, and rushed to catch up with a group. Once when William was going for the hobbled mule, he was chased and nearly killed by a large pack of wolves.  At first, he threw rocks at them, but soon there were so many that he couldn’t turn his back on them and had to back up to the mule, jump on it unhobbled, and race for camp. The other mule followed and would grab a wolf and throw it, then stomp or kick another.

Arriving near San Bernadino, going in on the purchase of lands took most of their means, but Agnes kept the wagon and mules to help make a living.  At first the family lived in a fort with the other families.  School for her kids was held under a sycamore tree.  But her boys William and Charles set to making adobe bricks—in fact, their small adobe brick home was among the very first in the new community.  Agnes was proud of her boys, and she made her kids a dried apple pie to celebrate!  The house was great--except for the sand that blew in the cracks and drifted inches deep on the floor.

The Gold Rush brought many adventurous young men to the West Coast.  Among them was one of Agnes’ brothers, Augustus.  From Los Angeles, he heard of his sister being in San Bernadino, and came out to see her.  He knew nothing of her since she had left Mississippi.  At first, it had been a joyous reunion.  “Gus!” she had exclaimed, so happy to see family again, and hear all the news.  When he found that she was a widow and living in poverty, Gus begged her to return with him to the old home.  They all had plantations of their own, and now that their parents had died, she could have all the land of their plantation, the home and all the slaves she needed to work it with.  They would all be glad to welcome her back.  She could live as a lady, raise her children as gentlemen and lady, give them all good educations, and never again know want or hunger or trouble.  ‘All I ask of you,” he said, “is to give up Mormonism, and have nothing more to do with it.”  For a small second Agnes remembered her old life, but then she looked Gus in the eye, ‘You don’t think you are asking much, do you?’  ‘No,’ he said, ‘very little.’  She replied, ‘It’s more than my life’s blood.  I would rather wear my nails off over my washtub to support my children, than to take them away from the Church, for I know it is true.’  He asked, ‘Agnes, is that your answer?’  ‘Yes’ she replied, and he turned and walked away a few steps then turned and said, ‘Agnes, if you ever change your mind, write me and I will come for you at once.’  She answered ‘Brother, you will never get that letter.’  She never saw nor heard from any of her kin people again.   

Agnes rejoiced as faith and testimony grew in her children.  She knew her own health was bad, however, and didn’t know how long she could live.  So she found a good family, the Lyman’s, who promised to take in her kids if she were to die.  And she wrote as much in her will.  She felt at peace knowing they would be in good hands with this family, strong in the gospel.

If I had to live with sand blowing in my home, or scrub filthy clothes all day in scalding water, I am afraid that my thoughts may have wandered to all I had given up for the gospel.  Think of it:  she gave up her life of luxury, her beautiful clothes, her jewels, her servants.  She had left her family, had lost four sons and her husband.   She had lost her beauty and her health.  But not Agnes—according to William’s account, she refused to complain.  She did not murmur, but remained faithful and true to her convictions.   

What had she gained instead?  Agnes did not get her Happily Ever After in this life, but her riches were of the heavenly, eternal kind. When she died a year or so later, just 35 years old, her dying words to her children told them of her strong, treasured testimony of the restored Gospel.  She would be a Queen forever, with her beloved James.  She gave her all, so that her children would also have those lasting blessings.  D & C 132:19 tells of thrones, kingdoms, principalities and powers, and dominions promised to those who receive their temple blessings, and a “continuation… forever”.  Generations honor her, as they would a queen.  And look what she has given them--Us, who now number in the thousands and 10’s of thousands.  The same eternal blessings, world without end, of being Kings and Queens forever, are also ours if we are loyal to the royal within us.



  
References:

Family Group Record of James Madison Flake and Agnes Haley Love.

Osmer D. Flake, William Jordan Flake:  Pioneer, Colonizer.  1933.

Roberta Flake Clayton, To the Last Frontier:  Autobiography of Lucy Hanna White Flake.  1923.

Illustrated Stories from Church History stories. Promised Land Publications. 1973.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Christ at Christmas

Christ at Christmas

Last night I dreamed that Jesus came to our house Christmas day!
He watched us celebrate, and go about our merry way.

He smiled as gifts were given out from underneath the tree,
And thanked us for some presents we had wrapped so carefully.

He sat down at our Christmas feast and quietly dined with us;
Spoke calmly when some milk was spilled, and when kids raised a fuss.

In every way he fit right in, just one of the family—
We felt at ease, for he was kind and gentle as could be.

I asked him, when the day was done, if there were some way He
Would wish for us to celebrate our Christmas differently.

He said, “Dear friend, I’m pleased that you would celebrate my birth,
I’ve made no laws to govern how you keep this day on earth.

“But just hear this—avoid excess, in mirth or spending spree.
Give to those who are in need, and do remember Me.”

Last night I dreamed that Jesus came to our house Christmas Day.
Since then I’ve prayed, “Lord, help us keep a holier holiday.”
                                                      
                                                                             --Jay M. Richardson

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Princess Agnes Story -- Part 2


Part 2

    Lady Agnes Haley Love Flake loved it in Nauvoo.  James had built them a beautiful brick home, right next to the new temple.  The family could step out on the porch and watch it’s progress.  The people were kind and friendly.  The peace and the Spirit were strong.  A new baby was on the way, due the next October.  Agnes loved the sisters of Relief Society and the sewing circles, where the ladies gathered to sew shirts for the workers on the temple.  She loved the new friends and the faith they all shared.   James so enjoyed helping to finish building the temple.  He gave every possible minute to that wonderful cause.  And soon, December 23rd, he was ordained a member of the 8th Quorum of the Seventy by the same Brother Clapp that had baptized him in Mississippi.

    One day, shortly after their arrival in Nauvoo, Green and young William Jordan returned from bringing a lunch to James at the temple together.  Green had carried William, now 5 years old, up the winding staircase inside the uncompleted temple clear to the top, where he let William gaze upon the sights below in every direction.  They saw hundreds of houses and buildings, with trees and gardens, and streets that stretched out to the surrounding farmlands and the curving Mississippi river bank.  It was an awesome sight, one that William Jordan Flake was to remember his entire life.   

    The Winter of 1944 was bitter and cold.  The Flake family had not been used to frost, snow and biting winds, in mild Mississippi.  That winter, 5-year old William had taken a handful of gun powder from  his Father’s powder horn and thrown it on the fire to see how it would burn.  As a result, he saw nothing for weeks!  Agnes helped fashion a black cloth mask with eye holes to go over her poor boys’ face for two or three months til he got a new one, the old face having burned off!  She tried her best to help him through the pain.  The winter also brought sickness, and young Richmond, just 2 ½, died in early 1945.  It was sorrowful, yet easier to bear with the Saints beside them through the ordeal and then the burial.  Words of truth and love were preached at the services, and their baby had a proper grave in the community cemetery. 

    For a time after the Prophet’s death, the community was left alone in peace.  But when the enemies of the church found that his death had not stopped the growth and prosperity of the Mormons, they began anew with their persecutions.  William, now 6, would later remember looking out of the window many times on awful scenes:  mobs of angry men, their faces painted, shouting in throngs down the street, and robbing and looting the nearby homes.  William would dash from the window and hide, shaking with terror until the noise finally stopped and the men had gone.  Once again, Agnes had been grateful for Green and his faithful protection, while James was gone so much building the temple.  She had been in frail health, mourning Richmond and then giving birth to little Samuel in October of 1845.   

    Brother Brigham and the other brethren rushed to finish the temple enough to give the Saints their temple blessings.  Day and night they labored until finally the glorious day came that James and Agnes entered the beautiful temple, and each received their endowment, towards the end of 1845.  Strength from heaven seemed to fill them, and they knew that with this extra endowment of power, they could face the uncertainties ahead.  How they rejoiced to receive their temple blessings. 

    It became evident that the happy times in Nauvoo were soon to end.  That Agnes would have to leave her new beautiful brick home.  James was always ready to help with poorer of the Saints, both with his might and with his means. Edie and her family had not cared for the cold Northern winters they were not used to and were homesick for the South, so James took them back home.  While he was in Mississippi, he sold his plantation at a loss and got many mules in partial payment, in order to help the Saints with their exodus.  The first groups had had to leave in February, but James and Agnes’ assignment was to stay to help til the last ones were outfitted and ready.    

    Soon, they too loaded up their wagon and left behind their beautiful city and home and crossed the Mississippi, numb at the thought of leaving their temple.  When they had journeyed from the South two years earlier, it had been summer.  Now it was late Spring, and very cold.  William, now almost 7, and Charles, going on 4, and teenaged Liz walked along behind the wagon, driving their loose cows and stock.  Agnes rode in the wagon with the new baby Samuel, knowing that another was on the way to be born shortly after Samuel’s first birthday.  She hoped and prayed that these babies would thrive despite the rude conditions. 

    It had been a rainy spring that year, and the trails were always muddy.  Often when it rained hard, and there was so much mud, the kids crowded into the wagon with her, and she would wince at the mud their feet brought in, but try to occupy them with stories and songs.  But if the mud got deep and the oxen could not pull they would have to wait for James and Green to pull them out, and sometimes, they had to lighten the wagon. One day when the hems of her dress was mud-stained, and her cheeks were sunburned despite her bonnet, James took the baby from her, handed him to Liz, and caught her up in his arms to tell her she was beautiful!  It was his way of saying,“You are still my princess!”  She would then have to laugh despite everything!  

    The sisters tried to lighten each others’ loads.  Agnes herself held pans to catch rain water so it wouldn’t drip on the more than one woman giving birth in a wagon.  “If mother could see me now!" Agnes would silently exclaim!

    Finally the family made their way to Winter Quarters.  The home they could procure there was a rude dugout:  uncomfortable, cramped, and smoke-filled, this was like nothing they had ever lived in before, yet it was warm and safe.  Once, after the Saints had barely made it across the Mississippi, the Lord had provided them with a whole flock of quail.  Now, He made available to them a large field of corn and a huge herd of pigs.  They were grateful for the cornbread and pork, and for the fish her expert fishermen James and William could catch for variety.  These tasted as good as a Southern banquet!

    The Brethren tried to lift the Spirits of each other.  They planned dancing parties and songfests to cheer them.  Agnes loved to dress up as best she could, and venture out with James for a nice evening together.  She was still his sweetheart, and, he insisted, the most beautiful lady there (even with her very large pregnant tummy!).  Agnes also spent time during the long winter months teaching her boys to read using the bible. 

    It was there in Winter Quarters, in their smoky dugout with a fire for warmth, on November 3rd, 1846, that Frederick Flake was born, then died the same day.  How it hurt to lay her baby in his tiny grave in the wilderness cemetery, covered with stones to protect it.  And then, she had to leave it too, for the government required the whole settlement to move back across the Missouri river, since it turned out they were on Indian lands.  So in the middle of winter, the family had to squeeze in with another family as best they could until they come up with a rude dwelling of their own, in Kanesville, later called Council Bluffs.  Disease hit the encampment, due to conditions and lack of proper nutrition.  Little 17-month old Samuel followed Frederick in death the next March and he was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery.  Poor Agnes was shaken with grief and sorrow.  She had lost four of her precious sons, and this one at a time when many were dying and not much attention could be given to each one. Still she endured, turning again to the Lord for help, and longing for Zion, the promised community where they could live in peace and prosperity.

    Many years later, a sculptor Avard Fairbanks was asked to create a sculpture fitting for the front of the Winter Quarters Cemetery.  He was acquainted with the Flake family of his generation and he graciously affirmed that his statue of a mother and father standing in the wind over the new grave of their baby could represent James and Agnes, and their sacrifice.  Baby Fredrick’s name is engraved on the plaque as one of the first who died and were buried in this cemetery.

    When the first group of wagons was to leave for the West, James knew that Agnes was in no condition to go.  How he wanted to lighten her load and give her happiness and peace.

    As plans progressed for the first trek out West, James approached Brigham Young one day, “Brother Brigham,” he began, “My family is not in a position to go with you this time.  My wife is not well.  We do not have the money left for more supplies.  But I do have a fine sturdy wagon, Prairie Schooner, with my fine white American mules, that brought my family from North Carolina, then from Mississippi, and you know Green—he’d be willing to drive it and serve as your bodyguard, sir.  I’d consider it an honor if you would take it on your journey, if it could be of help.”  “I’d be much obliged,” replied Brother Brigham Young, “Thank you for your kind offer.”   The plan was for Green to carry supplies on the trek, scout out the new settlement in the West, and then begin a homestead for the family, before sending the team and wagon back for them.  This faithful Green did.  In fact, as the Saints first entered the Salt Lake Valley, it was in Green Flake’s wagon that Brigham Young lay sick, before he raised up to exclaim, “This is the Right Place.  Move on!”  Years later, Brigham Young himself told this and more about his father James, to William who accompanied him as body guard on a trip to Southern Utah.

    After a time, Agnes longed for one more baby.  Of her six sons, she had lost four, and she felt that there was one more child to join their family.  She begged James for a blessing of peace, comfort, and health.  Then, when she had healed sufficiently, and felt her health return, another baby did join the family.  And to her disbelief and great joy, it was a girl!  Sarah James Flake, her darling little princess, who was hers to teach the womanly arts.  And it was Sarah, along with Charles and William, who lived to adulthood.  

    The family did make the trek to Salt Lake in the summer of 1848, with James elected as a Captain of 100 wagons. The Saints depended  on James for fresh meat—sometimes from the herds of buffalo along the route—and to take up the rear and watch over the slower of the pioneers.  William’s job each day was to use a bull whip and throw the lash over the wagon covers to awaken everybody for the early start of the day’s journey.  William turned 8 years old along the way and was baptized in the Elk Horn River by his father. When the family arrived, there was a log house Green had begun for them in the Cottonwood part of the valley.  Here they were there among the Saints in peace, with the brethren at the head, and with the promise of another temple they would one day build.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Princess Agnes Story -- Part 1

Princess Agnes -- A Fairy Tale
based on the real life of Agnes Love Flake 

 Researched and Written by Marlene Richardson Ellingson 

Forward: I was given the assignment, for girls' camp last summer, to come up with a Bedtime Story for the girls.  It was a Princess theme, and as I searched for a princess story, it occurred to me that a real-life story would be ideal.  So I read all I could find about Agnes Haley Love Flake, and wrote a story.  It is all based on fact, but of course I added details to make a historical fiction.  I used the dates from the family records and other church history information to round out the story.


Part 1 

     Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful princess, and what’s more, this was not a fairy tale princess, but a real-live princess. Her name was Agnes Haley Love. She had everything she could want, luxury, food, friends, family. She had a servant to dress her in the mornings, and pull her corset strings tight, to give her a very tiny waist. She had a dressmaker, who would come and design the most beautiful dresses, worn usually with a large hoop skirt. And a servant to do her hair and to add the finishing touches of jewelry and perfume.

     Agnes’ life consisted of her morning toilette, doing her studies with the best of tutors her family could employ, trying to make her four younger brothers to act like civilized gentlemen, and dressing for the delicious meals served each day on her family plantation. She loved making social calls with her mother Agnes and sisters Rosa and Mary, in her family’s handsome carriage, and attending dances and events expected of a southern belle in the North Carolina community where they lived. Agnes resisted the tendency that she observed in the other belles to become selfish and spoiled, however, as best a princess could. Her family attended church regularly, and although she attended dressed in the finest of gowns and hats, she thought often about God and wondered if he expected more of her than just this pampered life.

     In time, Agnes met a fine young man, her older brother Charles’ friend James Madison Flake. He was tall and handsome (4 ½ years older than her), and she knew she had caught his eye. Soon he was walking her home from church and calling at the Love’s manor house. Agnes was delighted to be the envy of the other princesses—or belles—at church, being seen with this charming Prince. With time, James spoke with her father William, a respected tobacco plantation owner with a high standing in the community. He received her fathers’ permission to begin to court her. And Agnes was beginning to fall in love. When she could focus on more than her fluttering heart in his presence, Agnes began to notice some deep qualities of character in James, different from the shallow young men she had acquainted. He was a man of principal, one with integrity and honor. What’s more, she and James shared a tendency to ponder on spiritual things.

     After months of courting, James asked her to be his bride! First came the elaborate party thrown in their honor, to announce the engagement. Then came the flurry of activity to order the gowns, the sumptuous refreshments, and the garlands and flowers to fill the church for James and Agnes’ lavish wedding! And so they were married, a month before Princess Agnes turned 19 (James was 23). It was the 2nd of October, 1838. The couple planned a honeymoon trip and James negotiated for them to settle in one of the homes on his parents’ manor, the Flake family plantation not too far from her parents. One of the wedding gifts she received from James’ mother, Faithy, was a young slave girl of her very own named Liz to wait on her. James was given a 20-year old slave as well. His name was Green. Agnes adjusted to life with the Flakes, and she and James were very happy.

     Soon, a baby was on the way! Agnes had grown up as the 7th of 11 children and she and James wanted a large family too. And so they were delighted when 9 months after their wedding, a new little prince was born, and they came up with the perfect name for their darling boy, William Jordan after her father William and James’ father Jordan! Agnes had Liz for a nursery maid to help care for the new baby.

     A little over a year later, a second little son was born, another little gentlemen prince who they named Charles Love, after Agnes’ favorite brother. And the next year, a third son arrived, little Thomas. Agnes, with plenty of help from their trusted slaves, enjoyed her little men. The family was happy, yet James began to be restless. He longed for a plantation of their own, and heard reports of land available out West, so as soon as the family could, he secured a prairie schooner to take them out West. It was a huge adjustment for Lady Agnes, as she could only bring two slaves along, and only one trunk of her dresses. It would be rough in the West. Agnes had never worked before. In fact, Liz liked to boast that “Missus had never as much as washed a pocket handkerchief. I would have died before I would have let her work.” But Agnes was willing to sacrifice for James’ and her dream of a plantation of their own. And he tried to provide every convenience possible to make the move comfortable for his Lady and the young Gentlemen, the oldest of whom was just 3 years old.

     She made it through the trying trip, and soon, she and James found a beautiful spot in Kemper County, Mississippi, with pine trees and gorgeous flowers. James procured land near a small stream with the Indian name, Ptictfaw, for a new plantation. Crops were planted, and a beautiful manor house and the other buildings of a large, prosperous plantation were built. Life was rich, sweet and peaceful. They focused on building their fine home on their new plantation, and raising their little men, giving them every opportunity money could buy. And soon, another baby boy arrived, little Richmond, their first child born in Mississippi. How the family rejoiced when kinfolk from North Carolina soon joined them in Mississippi, starting plantations nearby. A relative Henry Flake was the first to move close by and settle next to James, then his brother John Flake. Agnes was delighted when her family eventually moved there as well, and set up not far from the Flakes. She had had a hard time leaving her mother, for although she was the 5th daughter, she was the one who had received her mother’s name, and they had always been close.

     As they became acquainted with the area and its people, Agnes and James were treated well, but gradually began to observe some narrow-mindedness of many of these Westerners. Word of mob violence occasionally in the area troubled them, and rumors about an evil religion Mormonism. So one day when a Mormon Elder knocked at their door, they were wary. Of course they let him in, as that was the expected Southern hospitality for all. If someone is traveling without purse or scrip, as this young man was, of course you offered him a meal and an overnight stay. Elder Benjamin Clapp was unexpectedly intelligent and refined, and he carried a bible and another volume of scripture that he claimed was delivered by an angel to a prophet. James and Agnes were skeptical of his claims, until Elder Clapp kindled their interest by explaining that he preached the very same gospel taught by Christ and his ancient apostles. Carefully and prayerfully, the Flakes began to investigate this new religion.

     As soon as neighbors heard that the Flakes had opened their home to a missionary, they harassed and even threatened the Flakes. Still, after several weeks, James and Agnes became convinced that they had found the true Church of Jesus Christ. And they were baptized the Winter of 1843-44. William was 4 ½, Charles was going on 3, and the little ones were still babies. They and the few others baptized that night were ridiculed and defamed. A year before they had met Elder Clapp, a group of 80-90 Latter-day Saints had emigrated to Nauvoo because of persecution. Now, this new little group formed a tiny branch, called Running Water Branch. Though some of the teachings had been new and strange, the Word of Wisdom had particularly rung true to Agnes. She had watched her family—tobacco growers and users—die early, many of them, and she had always attributed it to their tobacco use. She had long felt that tobacco, alcohol, coffee and tea usage were particularly bad for her people’s constitutions (only 3 of the 11 survived to adulthood). Much later in her life, right before her death, Agnes told her children, “If you want to live in this World, you must leave tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor alone. These are death to our people. Our constitutions can not stand them, and all who indulged, died young.”

     Though Elder Clapp left for a time, he returned in early Spring and brought Elder Brown with him to ordain James Flake to the office of Elder. Agnes was so proud, and though it was dangerous, she encouraged her husband to go ahead and share the gospel with a few others who they felt might be open to it. Agnes grew close to the Lord as she knelt often in prayer to thank Him for the gospel, and to beg him to protect her husband from the violent threats. Agnes was grateful to a couple of faithful slaves that helped run their plantation. Green Flake and Allen Flake were dependable slaves, who were also interested in the missionary’s message, so James had arranged for them to be taught. They had joined the church shortly after she and James. Agnes felt safe when they were nearby.

     When Elder Clapp and Elder Brown returned a couple of months later, Agnes was so proud that James had two converts ready for baptism, and the tears flowed when they asked him to perform their baptisms, there in the creek. They had to conduct the baptism in great secrecy, and the opposition seemed to make the occasion sweeter. James was asked at times to accompany the Elders on their journeys and once, he attended a Conference in Alabama representing their branch, which now consisted of “fifteen members, one Elder all in good standing.”

    As James’ activity in the church increased, so did the condemnation and even wrath from their associates and their own families! Oh what sorrow this brought to the young couple. But the Spirit whispered that they had done the right thing. Still, realizing that there was no peace for his family, James and Agnes decided they would have to move to Nauvoo. During the conference in Alabama, James had been struck by the words of Elder Clapp about the gathering and the building of the Temple in Nauvoo. Still, their young boy Thomas was gravely ill, and the baby was so young. James wanted to ascertain the conditions in Nauvoo, out in the wilderness of Western Illinois, so like a courageous knight, he set out on mule back, the latter part of May, 1844, to ride the 700 miles to Nauvoo, leaving Agnes and the boys in the able care of Green and Allen and Liz, and the other slaves. Agnes again turned to prayer for the Lord to protect her husband, alone those many miles.

     James found the city of Nauvoo and the surrounding farms beautiful. There near the river, the gleaming white limestone walls of the temple were rising, a true castle. Mingling with the Saints, he felt friendliness and peace. One that he met was Hyrum Smith, the Prophet’s brother and the Patriarch. James was privileged to receive a blessing from him, a choice experience. A copy was given him, and he was soon on his way back with the joyous plan to bring his young family here. But sadness hit him hard, when the news came that just 15 days after that blessing, Hyrum and the Prophet were both martyred. He recalled the words from his blessing, “You have been wrought upon by the Spirit of inspiration and have come up hither, For this cause you are blessed.” So he made immediate plans to move his family to Nauvoo.

     When he ran up to embrace his Agnes, he noticed at once the sorrow etched in her face. Little Thomas had succumbed to death in his absence. Agnes was worn out, having cared for him day and night, until he had taken his last breath. To further their grief, the words of the local minister had come to their ears, the ranting and raving of what wicked parents they had been to leave their child unbaptized, and that their child was now burning in hell fire forever. What’s more, they had not been allowed to bury him in the church cemetery, but Green had just dug a tiny grave under a favorite tree on the grounds. She, her little boys, and the servants had been the only ones to mourn at a little service for Thomas.

     James was filled with grief and sorrow, and he visited the grave of his young son, whom he had loved dearly, and used his Priesthood to dedicate the little grave. The family knew they had to leave for a better place.

     The next thing James did was to follow the counsel of the Prophet Joseph, to “Break the shackles from the poor black man, and hire him to labor like other human beings, for an hour of virtuous liberty on earth is worth a whole eternity of human bondage.” This was undoubtedly tough for James and Agnes, as they had grown up with slaves to constantly serve them. But it felt right, with the help of the Spirit, so they immediately freed all their slaves. Many of them left, rejoicing. But Green Flake, the large, husky man, who had watched over the family, refused to leave the family. Liz, too, who had grown up in their household, would not leave, but both became members of the family. Also wishing to go North with them was Edie, a young black mother of four. The group was joined by three other convert families who upon hearing James’ enthusiastic report, wanted to go to Nauvoo as well.

     While James readied the ox team and wagon, and the pair of white mules to lead the caravan, Agnes tried her best to be brave. She knew how hard was wilderness travel was, with three young sons. Further, though her family seemed to hate her now, she loved them and hated to leave them. She had hoped they would one day join the church too. Would she ever see them again? Agnes went to try to see her mother and father one last time, and several of her siblings who still lived at home. Her father and brothers only exhibited contempt, and outright derision that she would be going to the devil. Despite their rebuffs, she kept her composure as best she could, and expressed her love for them. And at last, her mother relented and gave her a tender embrace of farewell, which was a great comfort to Agnes. James’ family too was cold and hostile toward them, thus making it a sad farewell.

     The journey was long and arduous. As the family pulled out away from their wonderful plantation, Agnes thought her heart would break, to leave her little son’s fresh grave under the tree. She knew she would likely never see her dear family again. As she jostled along day after day, still exhausted from her care of her sick boy night and day, and worn out with grief, there were two voices that vied for her attention: the one voice reminded her of her old days as princess, beloved and pampered by her parents, the servants that attended her, the parties and balls. Further, the voice whispered of all that she had given up for this church. She had enjoyed her nice home only a very short time. She had been forced to give up friends and family, security and peace, her husband gone so much, and even her young son. She would recall the words of the minister. Had she lost Thomas forever by becoming a Mormon?

     But the second voice in her head, the one she had to fight to keep foremost in her thoughts helped her realize that the storybook princess life and the fine things that used to matter so much to her, mattered little now. She knew her James would build her another home. She remembered how pleased she had been as he became such a fine church leader in the new branch. As she continued her prayers, her mind was able to turn to the truths of her new religion, that told her son was not lost, but was with God in heaven. That her husband had the Holy Priesthood, and that the Temple that he would help finish, would hold great blessings for them. Through her sorrow and loss, her faith began to grow ever stronger.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Dad and Mom: 1982, 1983

For a few years, Provo was their "home away from home."  Here's a great picture of Dad and Mom up at Sundance in 1983 and at a birthday picnic (I think this is the front yard of 409) in 1982.  My favorite is the picture at the top. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thanksgiving poem, by Jay R. Richardson

Dad said he wrote this in about 1943, when he was in the 7th grade.

THANKSGIVING:
For homes and friends and foot to eat,
For parents and teachers, kind and sweet,
For sun and rain, and pure fresh air,
For flowers and trees in beauty rare,
For this great nation, grand and free,
For rights to be what we want to be,
For freedom from want, and alike from fear,
For power to see and speak and hear,
For men to lead in this land of ours,
For work to help us pass the long hours,
For minds and bodies with which we are blest,
For all these things and all the rest,
    To our Father we give thanks.
--Jay M. Richardson

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Give, Not Take

Give, Not Take
October 2012

To lift or lean, to give or take
What of our lives are we to make?
Is it to tackle or cheerlead?
What is it that our world doth need?
To make all others carry us
Or allow us to carry them, yes?

At the judgment day, God will call
Did you love me or take it all?
Did you bless another’s life?
Or did you just give others strife?

If we love God, we choose to give
Have neighbors to bless, poor to give
Children to protect, truth to defend,
Wrongs to make right, a hand to lend.

Total love to Him we present
Keeping every commandment
Giving to Him our thanks and our will
Devoted discipleship fills that bill

Make your mind now from the bottom of your soul
Lift not lean is what will make you whole.
We cannot make any mistake
When “we give more than what we take”.

--Vern Richardson, inspired by Jeffrey R. Hollands conference talk, October 2012

Friday, October 5, 2012

3 short family history stories

3 short family history stories:
1.  Edmund and Mary Ann Richardson were asked by Brigham Young to settle in Manti.  Crops had been eaten by grasshoppers.  One day Walter Cox (friend) was so hungry and saw a new weed growing.  He tasted it and it was good!  He knew it must be an answer to their prayers to feed the people of Manti.  What did they call it?  "Manna weed".  Everyone in town carefully picked this manna weed every day and by the enxt day there was just enough more that had grown.  In the spring the weed was gone.  It was no more needed.  It was the miracle of the manna weed. 

2.  In the winter of 1859, there was a heavy snowstorm--18 inches!  William Jordan Flake couldn't find his oxen.  He'd been looking for 10 days and couldn't find them.  He saw a man who pointed toward a hill and said he'd find them in a clump of trees.  He thanks him and started along the back tracks from which the man had come, but to his surprise there were no tracks beyond where he first saw the man!  Also the man disappeared and he realized he had seen one of the three Nephites!  He walked on, soon found his oxen, and returned to camp. 

3.  Green Flake was an African American and was a member of the advance pioneer company who first arrived in Salt Lake City.  He was given as a gift (as a slave) to James Madison and Agnes Flake when he was 10 years old.  The James Flake family got baptized in North Carolina and moved to Nauvoo with the Flake family when they joined the Mormon church.  He was baptized in the Mississippi river in 1844.  From the memory of a grandson and from family diaries (verified in the Church news!), it is believed that Green drove the carriage that Brigham Young rode in when he entered the Salt Lake Valley.  (see blackids.org/flake)  He is one of 3 blacks immortalized on the back of the Brigham Young monument in Salt Lake City. 

Joseph Smith's Letter to Silas Smith


Silas Smith, Joseph Smith’s uncle then living in Stockholm, New York, knew of his nephew’s claims of visions and revelations. Joseph Smith wrote this letter to express his own belief in the biblical record and to persuade his uncle to consider God’s work of the “New Covenant.” He also invited him to come to Kirtland, Ohio.
 Silas’s son, Jesse Nathaniel Smith, included a copy of the letter in his autobiography.

Respected Uncle Silas
It is with feelings of deep interest for the well fare of mankind which fills my mind on the reflection that all  were formed by the hand of him who will call the same to give  an impartial account of all their works on that great day to  which you and myself in common with them are bound, that I  take up my pen and seat myself in an attitude to address a few though imperfect lines to you for your perusal.
I have no doubt but that you will agree with me that  men will be held accountable for the things which they have and  not for the things they have not or that all the light and intell igence communicated to them from their benifficen [beneficent] creator wh ether it is much or little by the same they in justice will be  judged, and that they are required to yield obedience and  improve upon that and that only which is given for man is  not to live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds

Monday, October 1, 2012

MY Snowflake Home, by Minnie Stratton

MY SNOWFLAKE HOME

Oh, home beloved where'ere you wander,
On foreign land or distant sea,
As time rolls by, my heart grows fonder
And yearns more lovingly for thee,
Thou fair be nature's scenes around me,
And friends are ever kind and true,
Thou joyous mirth and song surround me,
My heart, my soul still yearns for you.

Ye valleys fair and snowcapped mountains,
Ye peaceful hamlet mid the trees,
Ye murmuring streams and crystal fountains,
Kissed by the cool, soft balmy breeze.
Words cannot tell how well I love thee
Nor speak my longing when I roam.
My heart alone can cry to heaven,
God bless my own dear Snowflake home.
                 --1953 by Minnie K. Stratton, paraphrased from "God
                 Bless Our Mountain Home"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Children of God


Children of God

In primary each week we all have sung
“I am a Child of God” since we were young.
That song teaches us to whom we belong
And how God loves us as one of His throng.

Wow, the divine heritage from being His child
Instead of inexplicably coming from the wild.
And having God as our Heavenly Father
Helps us realize that Christ is truly our Brother.

This knowledge can help you understand
How you fit in to God’s salvation plan.
And that you’ve got royalty in your lineage
And that you were made in His very image.

God loves you and watches over you,
Just like a dad loves you ‘til he’s blue.
God cheers when you triumph over wrong
And cries with you when you’re not so strong.

This knowledge helps you also see
Others as His child also, knowing He’s
Blessing each one of his children
Though they number in the billions.

Just like we sang in primary each week
“I am a Child of God” since we were young.
That song teaches truth to whom we belong
And how he loves us as one of His throng.

Please always remember to hold onto the rod,
And just as important, That you are a child of God!

                                  --- Vernon Jay Richardson

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dad's obituary


Richardson, Dr. Jay M.
Dr. Jay M. Richardson, 79, loving husband and father, passed away peacefully on May 30, 2011 in his Mesa, Arizona home. Husband to Lavona Flake Richardson for over 51 years, he was loving father to 13 children: daughters Miriam Beck, Marlene Ellingson, Rauna Mortensen, Joann Hancock, Margie Reese, and Amy, and sons Vernon, Ray, Kenneth, Melvin, Dean, and deceased sons, Donald and Dale. He was born on September 18, 1931 in Virden, New Mexico to parents Ray Lot and Verna Nelson Richardson. He is survived by his twin brother Jorth as well as brothers Bernard, Cecil, and Chet. Jay was an active member throughout his life of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dr. Richardson practiced as a dentist in Tempe for almost 40 years. He was deeply loved and respected for his firm testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and his love of teaching, especially through writing original poetry. He served the church in the Western States, Indonesia Jakarta, and the Nauvoo Illinois missions. Jay led his family in a patient and compassionate, always loving, manner. He is also survived by 64 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. A viewing will be held at the Mesa West stake center at 2300 W. Javelina, Mesa, on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and also on Thursday morning, June 2, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., with funeral services at 10:00 a.m. Interment will be in the Virden, New Mexico Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the LDS Church's humanitarian or missionary funds. Online condolences can be given at www.obits.azcentral.com

Runaway Horses


RUN AWAY HORSES
by Jay M Richardson
On the farm we used horses to do the cultivating, plowing, etc., and we learned quite early how to handle a team at most of the farm jobs.  One summer, however, we got our first tractor, a small second-hand “John Deere.”  We used it just enough that our horses decided they didn’t like to work so well, and whenever we harnessed them their cooperation level was quite low.  One young horse whom we called Dock seemed especially rowdy and was sometimes a little difficult to manage.  Within a period of about a month when I was about twelve I had three run-aways with these horses and narrowly escaped serious injury or being dragged to death. 
One day I was driving the team of Dock and Bird, cutting hay in the field above the house.  Something happened to frighten Dock and he started running.  In trying to control him, I broke one of the reins and so had to jump off the mower to escape injury as the runaway team headed for the field gate with the mower bouncing along behind them.  As they hit the closed gate, harnesses, mowing machine and wire became broken and tangled, the horses fortunately receiving only slight injuries.
A couple of days later, the hat cutting having been completed by a borrowed mowed pulled by the tractor; the hay was ready to be raked.  Daddy felt the horses should be worked again to keep them disciplined properly and so again I was the driver with Dock and Bird hitched to the dump rake.  After only a short time Dock started acting up again, and stepped on the tongue of the rake and broke it.  Of course this frightened the horses again and they started to run.  By all physical laws, I should have been thrown forward form my seat atop the rake when the tongue broke, and then raked to death, but somehow I managed to fall of behind the rake as the runaway began again. Well, again the horses were stopped with no serious injuries.
Daddy was still determined to work those horses, and decided to hitch them up to the heavy old hay baler, thinking they couldn’t run away with that and guess who was the driver.  I felt that I was spookier than the horses by now, but dutifully6 took the reins, and for the third time in a week was trying to control a team of horses trying to run away.  Only with the help of Daddy and Erin running alongside was another serious accident avoided.
That night Mother said, “Jay,  you must be careful.  The devil is trying to get you.”  I was frightened enough to be careful and didn’t drive these horses much more.