Friday, June 29, 2012

Story about William Jordan Flake Following the Prophet

From "To the Last Frontier," written by Lucy Hannah White Flake, William Jordan Flake's wife

    In the winter of 1873 William (Jordan Flake) was asked by Brigham Young, the Great Western Colonizer, to go with a party of twelve men on an exploring trip to Arizona. They had pack horses to carry their bedding and provisions and each one was mounted on a good saddle horse. They crossed the Colorado at Lee's Ferry, traveled south, passed the San Francisco Mountains and into the Upper Verde Valley. They passed through the vicinity of where Flagstaff is now located. They encountered deep snows and extreme cold weather. The snow in one place was so deep it was up to the shoulders of their saddle horses. The men took turns breaking the trail through these drifts. The lead horse would make six jumps then drop behind to catch his breath while the second horse would take six jumps. In this way they traveled all day.
     When Brigham Young sent the party out, he told them that they would have grass for their horses every night. The men had great confidence in his word and faith in his promises, but on this day it looked impossible for this promise to be realized. About four o'clock in the afternoon they looked down into a valley and there saw a small patch of green grass where the wind had blown the snow away. They headed their poor tired horses for it and that night they had the promised grass.
     After about two weeks of this intense cold and hardship, the men decided they had had enough of Arizona and started to return. At a certain place Adam Greenwood and William turned off to come to Beaver. Provisions were scarce and as they were only two days from home they gave what they had to the others who still had several days travel ahead of them.
     By night William and his companion were pretty hungry. Brigham Young had also promised the company that if they would not waste game which was plentiful in those days, that they should have meat when they needed it. They hadn't seen any game for two or three days and were getting hungry for meat.
     The two men had camped for the night. Had unsaddled their horses, built a campfire and were wondering how they were going twenty-four hours more without food. As they sat there warming and resting their tired limbs Adam said, "Bill, President Young promised us meat when we needed it, didn't he? Well, we need it now, if anyone ever did."
     "We will get it," my husband answered, confidently, "I never knew of one of Brigham Young's promises to fail."
     "Well, this is the one time when his promise will fail to the ground," said Adam.
     The two men were hovered around the fire. The sun was setting. Suddenly they saw at a distance a big white hare standing in the snow. William said, "Well, Adam, there is your meat."
     Adam remarked, "Bad as I want meat, I wouldn't go that far through this snow after it. If we are to have meat tonight, it will have to come to us."
     I have heard William tell many times how that big mountain hare came as direct to their fire as an arrow could fly. When it got near enough he hit it with a hard snowball he had made; it gave one jump into the air and was lying there in the snow kicking when he went to it, picked it up and wrung its head off. They had plenty of meat for supper and breakfast. They reached home that night.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Red Flaggers Reenactment

This is a reenactment of Ray Lot Richardson's experience of being captured and held hostage by Red Flagger bandits during the Mexican revolution. Film directed by Jorth A. Richardson and produced by Randy Richardson.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Tribute to My Mother

A Tribute to My Mother
by Miriam Richardson Beck

My dear mother had a birthday!  I wanted to take this chance to pay tribute to her.  My mother is my hero!  Her beloved companion of over 50 years (my daddy) passed away a little over a year ago.  They were such a team and Mom hasn't skipped a beat in carrying on and keeping that team strong.  She has such a passionate testimony of forever families and knows that she will be with my Dad again and works hard to keep our forever family strong so that we can all be together again.  Here are some attributes that I love about my mother: 

 I love to tell her any accomplishments of my children or grandchildren and she is so excited and interested about each one of them even though she has a huge posterity!
For years she's kept her journal and she works hard to keep us all connected by keeping up her blog and her "Richardson review" so we know all that's going on!
--great missionary!--
**** Mom will always look for ways to share her testimony of the gospel and loves sharing that testimony each week in the Conference Center! 
--passionate testimony!--
****  Mom will never let us down.  She's always been a rock and we all know that she will always be a rock in her rock-solid testimony of Jesus Christ and his gospel.
--making us feel special!--
****  Growing up my mom never missed my events, even though I was the oldest of a very large family.  I knew that she was always praying for me and with me for any big test or anything else coming up.  She has a huge posterity, but we all feel like we are #1 to her and very special to her.  She makes each of us individually feel valued and loved. 
**** My mother gave my dad the most wonderful gift.  When he was so sick, she sacrificed so that he would be able to stay home.  She gave him the greatest gift of all, herself.  We know that dad would've been very uncomfortable anywhere else and his stability in life was his dear companion.   When we need something, we always know that my mother will never hesitate to serve us and others. 
--brave/carrying on--
****Even though her dear companion is gone and she misses him each and everyday, she is brave and is carrying on.  She keeps busy and active and continues to love and serve everyday of her life! 
****My dear mother is such a wonderful example to me and has a huge capacity to get a lot done and to not miss hardly a thing!  She is very healthy and is able to go go go and it is truly hard to keep up with her.  I so admire that in her! 

My mother is my hero and I work everyday to be just like her!  Thank you for your tremendous example of love, service, and perseverance.  I hope that I can be half the person you are!  Know that you are loved and cherished and so respected and admired for all that you are and do.  I thank the Lord everyday that I was born from a wonderful mother and father who reared me to have a strong testimony and a strong conviction of forever families.  It guides me each and everyday.  That is the guiding principle in my life is to not be a weak link in the chain of the Jay Richardson family and the Tony Beck family. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Best He Can

         THE BEST HE CAN

The checkout line moved slowly, and I could scarce contain
My great impatience with these folks—the waiting was such pain.

At last the man ahead of me moved up to take his turn--
His groceries on the counter placed as if he’s time to burn.

All bent with age, and shaking, this feeble, gentle man
Turned, smiled.  A tear told me, “I’m doing the best I can.”

I melted, and I felt remorse at my impatient heart.
I walked a moment in his shoes and pushed his grocery cart.

Oh Lord, help me have patience—help me to know each man
Is doing just the best he knows, or even the best he can!
          --Jay M. Richardson

Monday, June 18, 2012

Letter from Joseph Smith to his Uncle Silas Smith

Letter from Joseph Smith to his Uncle Silas Smith
(Silas Smith is our Great Great Great Grandfather)

Kirtland Mills , Ohio , September 26, 1833.
Respected Uncle Silas: — It is with feelings of deep interest for the welfare of mankind, which fill 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 they have done, and not for the things they have not done. Or that all the light and intelligence communicated to them from their beneficent Creator, whether 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 out of the mouth of the Lord.
Seeing that the Lord has never given the world to understand, by anything heretofore revealed, that he had ceased forever to speak to his creatures, when sought unto in a proper manner, why should it be thought a thing incredible that he should be pleased to speak again in these last days for their salvation? Perhaps you may be surprised at this assertion, that I should say for the salvation of his creatures in these last days, since we have already in our possession a vast volume of his word, which he has previously given. But you will admit that the word spoken to Noah was not sufficient for Abraham, or it was not required of Abraham to leave the land of his nativity, and seek an inheritance in a strange country upon the word spoken to Noah, but for himself he obtained promises at the hand of the Lord, and walked in that perfection, that he was called the friend of God. Isaac, the promised seed, was not required to rest his hope alone upon the promises made to his father Abraham, but was privileged with the assurance of his approbation, in the sight of Heaven, by the direct voice of the Lord to him. If one man can live upon the revelations given to another, might I not with propriety ask, why the necessity, then, of the Lord's speaking to Isaac as he did, as is recorded in the twenty-sixth chapter of Genesis? For the Lord there repeats, or rather, promises again to perform the oath which he had previously sworn to Abraham; and why this repetition to Isaac? Why was not the first promise as sure for Isaac as it was for Abraham? Was not Isaac Abraham's son? And could he not place implicit confidence in the veracity of his father as being a man of God? Perhaps you may say that he was a very peculiar man, and different from men in these last days, consequently, the Lord favored him with blessings, peculiar and different, as he was different from men of this age. I admit that he was a peculiar man, and was not only peculiarly blessed, but greatly blessed. But all the peculiarity that I can discover in the man, or all the difference between him and men in this age, is, that he was more holy and more perfect before God, and came to him with a purer heart, and more faith than men in this day.
This same might be said on the subject of Jacob's history. Why was it that the Lord spake to him concerning the same promise, after he had made it once to Abraham, and renewed it to Isaac? Why could not Jacob rest contented upon the word spoken to his fathers? When the time of the promise drew nigh for the deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt , why was it necessary that the Lord should begin to speak to them? The promise or word to Abraham, was, that his seed should serve in bondage, and be afflicted, four hundred years, and after that they should come out with great substance. Why did they not rely upon this promise, and when they had remained in Egypt , in bondage, four hundred years, come out, without waiting for further revelations, but act entirely upon the promise given to Abraham, that they should come out?
Paul said to his Hebrew brethren, that God being more abundantly willing to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, he confirmed it by an oath. He also exhorts them, who, through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Notwithstanding, we (said Paul) have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us, which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast and which entereth into that within the veil, yet he was careful to press upon them the necessity of continuing on until they, as well as those who then inherited the promises, might have the assurance of their salvation confirmed to them by an oath from the mouth of him who could not lie; for that seemed to be the example anciently, and Paul holds it out to his Hebrew brethren as an object attainable in his day. And why not? I admit that by reading the Scriptures of truth, the saints, in the days of Paul, could learn, beyond the power of contradiction, that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had the promise of eternal life confirmed to them by an oath of the Lord, but that promise or oath was no assurance to them of their salvation; but they could, by walking in the footsteps, continuing in the faith of their fathers, obtain, for themselves, an oath for confirmation that they were meet to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light.
If the saints, in the days of the apostles, were privileged to take the saints for example, and lay hold of the same promises, and attain to the same exalted privileges of knowing that their names were written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and that they were sealed there as a perpetual memorial before the face of the Most High, will not the same faithfulness, the same purity of heart, and the faith, bring the same assurance of eternal life, and that in the same manner to the children of men now, in this age of the world? I have no doubt, but that the holy prophets, and apostles, and saints in ancient days were saved in the kingdom of God; neither do I doubt but that they held converse and communion with him while they were in the flesh, as Paul said to his Corinthian brethren, that the Lord Jesus showed himself to above five hundred saints at one time after his resurrection. Job said that he knew that his Redeemer lived, and that he should see him in the flesh in the latter days. I may believe that Enoch walked with God, and by faith was translated. I may believe that Noah was a perfect man in his generation, and also walked with God. I may believe that Abraham communed with God, and conversed with angels. I may believe that Isaac obtained a renewal of the covenant made to Abraham by the direct voice of the Lord. I may believe that Jacob conversed with holy angels, and heard the word of his Maker, that he wrestled with the angel until he prevailed, and obtained a blessing. I may believe that Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire with fiery horses. I may believe that the saints saw the Lord, and conversed with him face to face after his resurrection. I may believe that the Hebrew church came to Mount Zion , and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem , and to an innumerable company of angels. I may believe that they looked into eternity, and saw the Judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant. But will all this purchase an assurance for me, and waft me to the regions of eternal day, with my garments spotless, pure and white? Or, must I not rather obtain for myself, by my own faith and diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord, an assurance of salvation for myself? And have I not an equal privilege with the ancient saints? And will not the Lord hear my prayers, and listen to my cries as soon as he ever did theirs, if I come to him in the manner they did? Or, is he a respecter of persons?
I must now close this subject for the want of time; and, I may say, with propriety, at the beginning. We would be pleased to see you in Kirtland; and more pleased to have you embrace the New Covenant.
I remain, yours affectionately,
Joseph Smith, Jun.

Post note: Lucy Smith recorded in her Early Notebook that sometime in 1836 (after this letter from Joseph to Silas) “the Lord gave Hyrum Smith a revelation commanding him to visit his Uncle Silas, for he was ready to be baptized... When he found him he said, ‘Uncle Silas... the Lord has sent me to baptize you, for the Lord has seen the integrity of your heart but knows your fears with regard to your family, but you need not suffer any anxiety about them, for if you embrace the gospel it will be the means of saving them.' He answered that he had no doubt of the truth of the work and the only thing that hindered him from embracing it was that he was afraid that his family would be so much opposed to it that it would ruin his peace. However, upon receiving this message he was baptized, but through much tribulation, being much opposed by his neighbors as well as his own family.” (Early Notebook, pp. 41-42.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Be Clean

              To my Sons, Grandsons, and Potential Sons-in-Law


The time has come in life’s short span for your old Dad to give
Advice to all his sons to help them live as they should live.

Now this I know that there’s advice on every hand each day—
You cannot follow all of it, but please, just hear me say:

If you’d succeed both here and in eternity’s big scene,
Give heed to this and learn it well— be clean, dear sons, be clean!

For cleanliness in person can help one feel his best,
His public and self-image enhanced by how he’s dressed.

And cleanliness in speech will show he’s cultured and refined,
For what comes out tells what’s inside his heart and in his mind.

His mind? Above all keep it clean—allow no rubbish there;
For what we think and dwell upon, that’s us—our character!

We cannot let bad movies, TV shows, magazines,
Vulgar stories, any trash invade a mind that’s clean.

Especially when it comes to girls—treat them respectfully,
Till one day one clean, virtuous maid you’ll wed eternally.

Dear sons, you are outstanding boys—choice spirits every one,
With great potential for a life that’s really just begun.

Oh, please keep your life so sweet, with conscience innocent, serene,
So God can say one day, “Dear son, come here, for you are clean."

                                             --Jay M. Richardson

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Testimony

My Testimony
by Lavona Flake Richardson
(June 2009)

      I want my children and grandchildren to know that I know that God lives and hears and answers our prayers. I know that Jesus is the Christ and our Savior and Redeemer and that through his Atonement, we can again return to live with our Heavenly Father as an eternal forever family if we live worthily. Dear children and grandchildren, you are all remembered in my prayers several times each day as I ask that you will be able to withstand temptation and live the teachings of Jesus Christ. I bear my testimony to you that this is the only way you can find happiness. I pray that each of you will be worthy to fulfill full-time missions and be married in the temple, and that for your entire life you will strive to build up the kingdom of God wherever you are. I pray that you will surround yourself with good friends and that you will be in tune to hear the promptings of the Spirit in directing His work.
      I am so grateful for my testimony that Christ’s Church has been restored in these latter days and for my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am grateful that we can live at a time when the gospel is here in its fullness and with temples dotting the earth where we can receive the many great blessings that the Lord is anxious to give us. I am grateful that we can all receive personal revelation to guide us in our lives and that we have a living Prophet who lets us know the mind and will of God to us at this time in the world history. I am so blessed to have a worthy Priesthood holder as my eternal companion and I am so grateful for a righteous posterity. Thanks to all of you for the great choices you are making in your life.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ray Lot Richardson

Ray Lot Richardson
An Oral History by Jay M. Richardson
(Transcribed from an interview in March, 1998)

     My father, Ray Lot Richardson, was born on August 6, 1896 in Colonia Diaz, Mexico.
His father, Charles Edmund Richardson, had four wives and thirty-five children among the four
wives. Ray was about the middle child of the first wife, Sarah Louisa Adams. She had fifteen
children, though only about half of them grew to maturity, and she and her children lived in their
own house, while each of the other wives lived in different houses. In general, the wives loved
each other like sisters, got along very well and cared for each other’s children.
     My father was always telling us stories of his childhood. One that we remember most was
set around the time of the exodus, when he was about 14 years old. He was captured by Red
Flaggers, one of the rebel groups in Mexico. They stopped and camped for the night around a
fire. He told his captors that he was going to unsaddle his horse for the night. Instead, he went
and saddled his horse and was far enough way that he just led his horse away. As soon as he
dared, he jumped on the horse and galloped away just as fast as he could. In the dark, they
couldn’t find him. He traveled all through the night and into the next day to reach one of the
colonies in Mexico.
     He also tells an interesting and frightening story [of events leading up to the capture]. He
and his father were bringing some belongings up into the United States as part of the exodus and
were captured. He was taken away and escaped, and the last he saw of his father, his father was
in front of a firing squad, about to be shot. He didn’t know until later that his father had not been
     For a living, my grandfather was a lawyer for the Church in Mexico. He had studied law
by himself, and I think he took a few classes. He was often in Mexico City working on legal
matters for the Church, and was an excellent lawyer—they say that he never lost a case—and a
brilliant man. He was a speedy reader and could read a page in just a few moments. He was a
doctor and treated a lot of people medically. He was also a cattle man, built and operated a mill,
and did a lot of different things.
     Grandfather depended on my dad a great deal in taking care of his cattle because he had a
large ranch and a big herd of cattle, and my dad was kind of a specialist in that. He knew cattle
and could recognize them and remember who they were. One thing he would do: when he would
hear a cow bawl, he would copy that. He could mimic that cow’s bawl (the noise the cow made)
and got to where he could recognize a cow by the sound it made when it bawled. His father often
asked him what cow that was bawling, and he could tell him what cow it was, where it came
from and who its parents had been.
     Though he had formal schooling in Mexico, it was interrupted by the problems they had.
There was a revolution going on in Mexico in which several different factions rebelled from the
government. They said the government wasn’t doing things right, and so they tried to take the
law into their own hands. The Mormons were just caught in the middle. The rebels would come
and visit the Mormon colonies and rob and plunder them, taking horses and their guns and
ammunition and their provisions. Sometimes they were very mean to the Mormons. They killed
some of the people, frightening them and making life pretty miserable. It got so bad that the
Church said to leave with the hope and intention of returning in a short time. It happened that a
goodly number of them did return, but probably the majority never did. They had lost everything
and didn’t care for that kind of unstable life, so they stayed in the United States.
     My grandfather lost everything in the exodus from Mexico. He was gone a great deal on
various business ventures, trying to recoup and get back on top financially. I’m not sure what his
occupation was at that time, but he was in several different things. In those dealings, he suffered
financially and wasn’t able to care for all of his wives and their children. One of the wives moved
to Salt Lake City and another wife moved to California and supported herself with what help he
could give them after his health and his finances failed him. As long as possible, however, he
took care of them, was a good provider and was loved by all of them.
     My dad’s family moved to Thatcher. There, he went to Gila Academy for a couple of
years. I think that was just a high school, and I’m not sure that he ever graduated. After my Dad
finished going to Gila Academy, he went to Globe and worked in the copper mines there. He
began courting my mother, however, and went back to Thatcher where she was living.
My mother, Verna Nelson, was born in Colonia Garcia, another Mormon colony in
Mexico, but it was up in the mountains. If I remember correctly, it was southwest of the other
colonies, Colonia Juarez and Colonia Dublan, and it was up into some high and rugged
mountains. There were two or three colonies there. She spent her entire childhood in Colonia
Garcia and Colonia Chuachupa. Her family consisted of eight girls and one boy, but her father
died when she was about eight years old, leaving her mother as a widow with these nine children.
She never remarried until after her family was all grown. She supported her family and
eventually moved them in the exodus to Thatcher and continued to raise her family by herself.
     I don’t know the exact incident when my parents first met, but it was at Gila Academy.
He had a Model T Ford, and he liked to take her for rides in it, which she enjoyed a great deal.
She thought she was in love with another man and didn’t take the courtship seriously, but he
persisted and finally won her over. They were married June 10, 1919 in Thatcher. They didn’t get
married in the temple because the Arizona Temple wasn’t built until 1927, eight years after they
were first married. I think it was 1929 when they made the trip and were sealed in the temple
with their four children.
     Their early marriage was a happy marriage. They moved back to Miami, and he worked
there for a time. He was getting relatively good wages at the mine, but they then had an
opportunity to start farming in the Duncan/Virden area on a farm owned by his father, and they
moved up. Two children were born in Duncan while they were there. My oldest brother was
Chad. He was born in 1920, but died of diphtheria when he was about 15 months old. He died
before Acel Bernard, the next one, was born in December of that year, 1921.
     Unable to make a good living on the farm, they decided to move up to Red Rock, New
Mexico. That’s also on the Gila, farther up the river, and my dad thought it was an opportunity to
get some land, get established farming and make a good living. My mother was opposed to it.
She said it's too far from the markets, too far away from everything, we won’t have good
transportation, and we don’t have enough money to get a farming operation going. She became
very discouraged and left, taking my brother, Bernard, and moving to California where she lived
with some relatives there. A few weeks later, my dad went to California and persuaded her to
come back, and he gave up the Red Rock venture. They went back to the mine in Miami for
economic reasons, and that was where my older twin brothers, Edwin and Erwin, were born in
     But then they got another opportunity up in Virden and moved there, and that was where
my sister and the rest of the family were born. Once they moved to Virden, they started farming.
Before long they had an opportunity to rent a farm that was owned by Harry Day. He was a
rancher, and had a big ranch out on the flat between Virden and Lordsburg. Incidentally, he was
the father of Sandra Day O’Conner, who’s our Supreme Court Justice. He owned about a
hundred acres, and agreed to let my father rent it for one-third of the crop, that is my father had to
give a third of his crop to pay the rent on the farm. Also in the agreement was that my father
would get to purchase part of the land as time went on. I remember growing up that he owned ten
acres of that farm, and that he could keep all of the crops from those ten acres. He often said that
he raised “cotton and corn and cows and kids.” He kept a herd of milk cows and several horses to
pull the farm machinery and lived on a house that was on the property. It was a big adobe house
with a tin roof and four big rooms. That was where we grew up.
     My sister Elaine was born in 1927. My twin brother Jorth and I were born in 1931. Cecil
Roy was born in 1937, and Chester Ray, the last one, in 1941. I don’t know specific reasons for
our names except that I know that my twin brother, Jorth, was named after a character in a novel
they had read, called The Last of the Jorths. Middle names for Edwin and Erwin were for the
names of our two grandfathers: Charles and James. Mine and Jorth’s middle initials, “M” and
“A,” were for the maiden names of our grandmothers, which were “Adams” and “Mortensen.”
Of course, Chad’s and Chester’s middle names were both “Ray.” We had a teacher, Roy Paine, at
the school that was kind of a family favorite, and I think that may have influenced the selection
of Cecil’s middle name, “Roy.”
     When I was about four years old, the family moved to a little homestead just across the
highway from the Harry Day farm. A homestead is a piece of land made available by the
government, and it encourages people to develop the land. If you get in on that, you must live on
that property for a certain length of time, and then eventually, you are given title to it without
having to pay money for it. So they homesteaded that property, and there was a little two-room
adobe house on the property where they lived. After they moved there, because the family was
really too big for it, my father purchased a house in Morenci, Arizona that was being torn down.
He got the lumber materials from that home and built on several rooms to add on to that little
house. The family lived there for, I think, two full years. I went to school during first grade when
we lived in that house. But then we moved back down to the farm and lived there continuously
until I was a senior in high school.
     That home was an adobe farmhouse on the Harry Day place: it was made of four fairly
large rooms. It had a living room and kitchen/eating room and my parents’ bedroom and then the
boys’ bedroom. For Elaine, they partitioned off one corner of the kitchen area and made a little
bedroom for her. Each room was about twelve feet by twelve feet. Our home was not fancily
decorated—it just had the pretty bare minimum. There weren’t a lot of decorations, maybe a
picture or two on the wall. There was linoleum on the floor in the kitchen and in the living room,
but the other rooms were just a wood floor.
     We didn’t have electricity or running water until I was a teenager, so for our water supply,
we had a pump in the backyard. My memory is of pumping this water out of the ground by hand
with a hand pump into buckets, and then we would take those buckets, lift them up onto a
platform and empty them into a 50-gallon barrel that was mounted up on a little platform. From
that barrel, there was a pipe coming down to serve the kitchen sink and the bathroom, though we
didn’t have a bathroom until the end of my teenage years. Before that we had an outhouse, and
our baths were done on Saturday night in a Number 10 tub with water heated on the kitchen
     The town of Virden was comprised almost entirely of the Mormon people who had come
out of Mexico. There was a school and also a church, and the church was one of those they built
in phases. When I was growing up, most of the time there wasn’t a chapel—just a big cultural
hall with a stage and then classrooms built around it. Every Wednesday night, there was a movie,
usually a double header—a Western and then another kind of movie. If we paid our budget to the
ward budget fund, we had a right to go to that movie, so our recreation was to go to the movie
every Wednesday night. My entire family would go. The movies I remember most were the
cowboy movies with Gene Autrey, Roy Rogers and Tex Ritter.
     My father was a real cattleman. He loved horses and he loved cows, and was very good at
training them, taming them, getting them to work, and speaking to them, getting them to come to
him. He also liked to tell stories, mostly the stories of his life when he was growing up. Several
of us children and our parents made a trip into Mexico one time during the sixties. Lavona and I
once got the opportunity to ride with Daddy in a pickup on that journey, and from the minute we
entered the area where he had lived, both in the United States and in Mexico, until we reached
the end of that territory, he was telling one story after another. Every bend of the road seemed to
remind him of another story (we often wished we had recorded that somehow). Then when we
left Colonia Juarez and started up the road to the mountains where my mother lived, it was just
like turning off a faucet. He didn’t have any more stories because he hadn’t experienced that
country; he’d never been there. It was a great experience to be with him and to hear his stories. I
think the purpose of his stories was to teach his boys. On the farm, he’d often work with us
whenever he could get away from other duties like hoeing, irrigating or putting up hay.
Otherwise, he was with us and would use that time to tell us stories of his life and teach us
principles of the Gospel.
     Whenever it was cold and stormy and we were out in the fields or the corrals doing our
chores or our jobs, he would say, “You know where I would like to be right now? I’d like to be
up on the mountain, hunting deer.” That’s when I want to be in the house by the fire, staying cozy
and warm, but he wanted to be out hunting deer. That’s something he dearly loved to do. They
had a favorite hunting spot, several miles north of where we lived, and he liked to take his sons
hunting there. They’d gone there so many times that he took an old bedspring and left it there,
putting it high up in a tree where no one could see it and take it away. When he’d go up there
hunting, he go up there and pull it out and sleep on it. I went hunting with him once, but not
there, and just for part of an afternoon. I didn’t like it at all, and I never went hunting with him
after that. All of my other brothers liked hunting and went with him probably several times. He
was a fair shot. A neighbor named Hyde Pace was an excellent shot and would always get his
deer, whether anyone else did or not. My dad got a deer probably half the time. My mother didn’t
like deer meat, but she’d cook it for us.
     Besides hunting, the one trip that we made every year was to the Richardson reunion in
Mesa. Transportation was difficult and we never had really good cars, but he always made every
effort he could. He loved to be with his family, brothers and sisters and cousins. He never
stressed to us children our heritage and that “you are a Richardson.” I think that came on with his
taking us to the reunions and meeting relatives. We seldom missed a Richardson reunion, and at
the reunions they would always tell stories of our ancestors, and we’d gain an appreciation for
     I don’t remember ever having help on my schoolwork. School was always very important
to me and to all the family, but I don’t remember our parents ever having to encourage us. We
just always had an interest. It’s just part of our heritage, just as I never pounded into my children
to get good grades “or else.” We always liked studies and liked to do well.
     He was very devoted to the church and bore his testimony often. He wasn’t really
“sanctimonious,” but he paid his tithing faithfully, attended his church meetings and filled his
callings. I don’t remember him being involved with the youth a great deal, but mainly with the
older people in the ward. He liked to teach, and taught priesthood lessons and in Sunday School a
great deal. He was head of the adult Aaronic priesthood, like the prospective elders group we
have now, and helped reactivate some people. He then served as high priests group leader for
years and years. He worked hard at that. He really was a kind-hearted man, and tried to give
service and help people out. Whenever we would harvest potatoes, he’d always take several
sacks around the ward and give it to widows and those who were a little less fortunate. He was
involved in genealogy work quite a bit. My mother was Primary president for a while, but her
chief callings were pianist and organist for the ward. She taught herself to play the piano and then
learned to play the organ. We had a piano in our home, and one of her pet projects was to teach
teen-age girls to play the piano and organ. She gave lessons to many of them and brought them
along well.
     I think my father was about 5’11”. He was red headed, but he never had any red-headed
children. Our son, Vernon, was the first grandson that had red hair. My father was quite robust.
He wasn’t extra heavy, but well filled out and a strong man. He enjoyed good health all the time I
can remember, and was always a hard worker, though he did like to take a little nap at noontime
after dinner for half an hour or so, lying on the living room floor. He always got up real early and
went out and did his chores. He worked every day of his life.
     For most of the time, his relation with his wife was very good. At times he made what she
thought were some big mistakes economically. She didn’t think he used his money wisely and
was never a wealthy man. Especially when he went to Red Rock, she left him because she didn’t
feel that there was any future in doing that. I think that taught him that he needed to pay attention
to her more. My parents were both kind of shy and stoic. It wasn’t the thing to do to show
emotions in our home. I remember my mother crying one time. She was disappointed with some
financial loss or failure, but I don’t remember any great show of emotions other than that. They
were not flowery, not showy, not really expressive.
     At one point, my father needed help on the farm. There was a chance to get some people
from Mexico to come and work on the farm for him, so he went down to the border and got
them, not knowing that it was illegal, and got picked up. I don’t know that he got put in jail, but
when he came home he was very emotionally wrought because of his financial problems. He
usually didn’t act like he had a big financial burden on his shoulders or seem to worry about it a
lot. My mother worried a lot about it, but he was always pretty optimistic that whatever he did
would turn out well (though it usually didn’t turn out well). We were never very well off
financially because we didn’t own the land and had to pay a third of the produce, the farm
products for rent, and what was left just barely paid for the costs. There wasn’t too much left for
     When I was in my early teens, he bought a hay baler from Hugh Pace, and this baler
required six people to operate it. One would drive the team of horses or the tractor pulling it, and
two would lift the pile of hay up onto a little table. Then one would push that hay into a hopper.
Two more would sit towards the back of the baler and put the blocks between the bales as they
were formed, and then tie the wires that wrapped around the bale. One more would follow the
baler and retrieve the block that came out and place it up ready to put into the hopper again. He
had that baler for probably four or five years, and during that period, he prospered. He was
probably the most well off of any time in his life, because he had both sets of twins to help run
the baler, and we were able to do custom baling for all the different farms in the valley. Times
were good, and we really did quite well. We were able to buy a nice car and get a better tractor.
Things really looked up for us then and they were able to send some missionaries into the field.
But then someone got a new-fangled hay baler that didn’t require six men to run it. It was
automatic, and our business kind of dwindled off.
     During World War II, he liked to listen to the radio in the evening and would comment on
it. I remember him saying many times that it didn’t matter who won the conflict between
Germany and Russia, but that the United States would have to fight against the winner anyway,
whoever it was. He had definite opinions about things, and it was interesting to talk about it.
My father was very athletic and a good baseball and basketball player. I think he loved
baseball more, but he loved basketball too. He played basketball for Gila Academy, and though
he wasn’t the tallest player, he played center and was a great jumper and helped them win lots of
ball games. He had a buddy named Bill Mortensen that he’d known in the colonies. They were
together in the Gila Academy, and I remember also seeing a picture of them in baseball uniforms.
When we kids were going to school and would play basketball on the high school teams, he
never missed a game. He was always there, always standing about the middle of the court
opposite the side where the players were, shouting out to them, encouraging them and
commenting on the events of the game as it went on. He could outrun his sons until they got into
their late teens and he kept very active his entire life, as long as he could.
     I think the last fifteen years of his life, my parents were at peace and really enjoyed each
other and got along very well. He built her a new home, and by that time, the family was raised
and gone, so their costs were down and I think that they enjoyed life. They were a very
compatible couple and accomplished a lot together.
     They always welcomed us and treated us well. When I was married, I was in Chicago for
four years, then Pennsylvania another year and then in Tempe, Arizona, so we never lived close
by them and gave them an opportunity to come see us. But whenever they did come to Mesa,
they would come to visit and we’d have a great time. Whenever we’d visit him, he’d nearly
always disappear when it was time to say good-bye. He’d put on his hat like it was time to go out
and do the chores or something like that, and you wouldn’t see him. He didn’t like to say goodbye.
He never did retire, just kept on working. He died of a massive heart attack. It wasn’t
expected at all—I don’t know if he’d had symptoms prior or not. He had cancer on his hand and
lost a finger because of it, just a few years before he died. But that wasn’t the cause of his death.
There isn’t a history of heart problems in his family. He died in 1970, when he was 74 years old.
     One of his pet themes throughout his life was to be modest in your dress. He was really
concerned about girls wearing immodest dresses, and he preached about that a lot. At one
reunion, he preached on moral cleanliness and modesty and one statement he said was, “I want
you to look at me and know that I am a virtuous man, and my greatest wish for you is that you
would be morally clean and be virtuous.” I think that was his legacy, the theme he has passed on
to us—that we need to keep our bodies covered, our minds clean, and our actions morally
straight. I think that’s the greatest thing he was concerned about.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bruce Merlin Flake



Bruce Merlin Flake was born January 27, 1907 in Snowflake, Arizona to James Madison and Martha Amelia Smith Flake.  Snowflake was still a pioneer town, having been established only thirty years before.   Bruce began doing chores and caring for livestock at an early age. He associated closely with his father and grandfather in their work on the ranch.  They were great outdoor men.  His father lost his eyesight when Bruce was young so Bruce rode by his side during his growing-up years and was his eyes.  He learned about livestock, patterns of nature and native grasses from his father.  Most of all, he learned the traits of hard work, honesty, and concern for others.  When he wasn’t “riding the range,” he hoed weeds in the corn, tromped loose hay on the wagon, and helped irrigate.  
Bruce didn’t start school until he was eight years old but caught up by taking two grades in the same year.  
Bruce received a mission call on Thanksgiving Day, 1926 to the Mexican Mission to report to Salt Lake City ten days later then arrived in his first assignment in Laredo, Texas on Christmas Eve.  At first he didn’t want to learn Spanish and wished he had been called elsewhere.  However, becoming accustomed to the faith and the humble attitude of the Mexican people, it wasn’t long until Bruce was very grateful that he had been sent to that mission.  This began a lifetime of love for the Mexican and other Spanish-speaking people that culminated in years of service as a temple worker in Mesa, Arizona. 
 Bruce recorded, “I took me on a partner (Irene) in 1930, 11th day of August.  She has helped me very much through the years with her resourcefulness and economic way of getting along.  I don’t believe we have never been extravagant or wasteful.  We are grateful for our family and for their families, for the love and respect they show us and for their devotion to the family and the Church.  Each one has been worthy to go to the temple and each one has filled a good mission.”
 Life was busy with lots of hard work, family and Church activities.  Bruce served as bishop of the Snowflake Ward during World War II when over 120 from the ward were away from home in the military.  He later served for many years on the stake high council.   When Snowflake was incorporated, Bruce served as its first mayor.   He was a natural and respected leader. 
Bruce was a successful rancher with other diversified activities that included buying and selling cattle and owner of a general mercantile store.  He and Irene kept their accounts up to date and knew their financial situation.  He knew how and when to take a risk.  The family was blessed because he was a good provider. 
Bruce worked hard but then knew when diversion was needed.  He liked to travel taking several trips across the country and always visited his children wherever they were located.  He enjoyed basketball games, a carom board tournament, shelling peanuts and telling stories, or going to a movie.   Christmas was special.  He could be witty and fun.  
Above all else, Bruce had as a priority raising a good and righteous family.  He placed an emphasis on the family unit.  There was no question what was most important to Bruce and Irene.  Being self-employed gave Bruce’s children the opportunity to be with their father many hours.  There were many lessons taught and that were learned just being with him.  Bruce commanded respect.  His children had an intense desire to please him.  There were high expectations of conduct. 
Bruce was unwavering in his loyalty to the Church.  He was honest in his dealing with his fellowmen.  He was firm, fair and consistent.  His actions were always louder than his words. 
          Bruce passed away in May 1971 at age 64.  He left a desire with his children and grandchildren to have had him longer as a part of their lives.  However, they have felt his spirit and his influence.  Irene helped them to never forget as she continued on alone for 31 years. Someday, he’ll know and enjoy the grandchildren and great-grandchildren that didn’t have the privilege of being with him in this life. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Girls Camp Miracle

Girls Camp Miracle
by Marlene Ellingson

It was the first night of Girls’ Camp at Taylor Ranch, Pinedale AZ and all was going great! It was a wonderful theme this year, “Be Loyal to the Royal within You” and I was excited to be there, with four darling 1st year girls, and Emily as their YCL!  But when the sun went down, it got cold!  I was planning to try out Dad’s idea of filling a water bottle with hot water, to put at the foot of my sleeping bag and warm my feet through the night. 

I went to the tea kettle, delighted that water had been heating for hot chocolate. I reached out to grab the handle, not realizing that the handle had fallen down to the flame on the gas burner, and Sister Loar, our camp cook, had just pulled it back up with leather gloves, which had been burned from so doing.  Several around me heard the sizzle of my flesh burning.  I cradled my hand and went to find ice that I covered in paper towel and pressed over my burnt fingers, then went to find the camp nurses. 

It took me a minute to find them, then opened my hand to show them.  There were two rows of thin blisters down every finger of my right hand.  The nurses, Sister Haws and Sister Whyte had me remove my “princess ring,” telling me to expect quite a bit of swelling.  They talked to me about the pain and gave me an ibuprofen for it.  Then, they suggested a priesthood blessing.  It was quite late and most everyone was asleep.  I had been looking for vinegar, as it had eased the pain of a burn before, but no kitchen at camp would have that.  However, Young Women President Carol Stahle found someone who had a key to the Taylor’s home where we could search for some.   

We drove over to where the men were camped, and Sister Stahle woke them up.  Brother Gray of the High Council and Brother Gardner didn’t know me, but were totally willing to get up and give me a Priesthood blessing, with the consecrated oil.  In it, I was told that my hand would heal. 

Then we went to the house nearby, searching for vinegar.  My thumb felt like it was still burning, and I realized I had not been cooling it along with the fingers.  One of the nurses, Sister Nancy Whyte, remembered an old-time remedy that her mother had used on her, that took away the pain of her burn.  It was baking soda, and we found some in one of the cupboards.  So she made a paste of baking soda and water in a little paper cup and painted it on each of my fingers.  So I closed my hand over the paste and we made our way home. 

Everyone in our camp was already asleep, oblivious to what had happened to me.   It was a little comical trying to go to bed with one hand.  I couldn’t really change, nor put on new socks (as my pack was in a different tent).  Nor could I really even brush my teeth, and it took a long time to even take off my shoes, so I lay down to sleep as I was.  I prayed to thank the Lord for the Blessing and the Help and the freedom from pain at present.  I told Him that I so wanted to be able to do my camp duties as Tent Mom, and do the whole experience with my 1st “Years, and to please bless me to be able to.

Though I woke up during the night with the cold, I did not wake up to pain!  And when it was light enough to see, I opened my hand to look.  There before me was a normal hand with absolutely no blisters!  “I have had a miracle!” I exclaimed to myself, totally in awe and gratitude. 

I shared my story many times, and even with the whole camp at a devotional and our ward too.  I wanted to give them tools to face a similar situation with the healing remedies the Lord has provided us, combined with the wonderful Priesthood of God.  “I believe in miracles,” I told them.  “And I believe in Jesus Christ, who suffered every pain we feel and gave us the Priesthood to heal us.”  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Remember Who You Are


“Remember who you are, dear child,” a mother’s thought and prayer,
As off to school or evening out goes daughter, free of care.
“Remember who you are, my son, “ says dad and shakes his hand,
As off to war or mission field goes son to foreign land.
“Remember who you are,” we say, and this our constant plea—
Why is this important to remember who we be?
Who are you really, children, “John Doe,” with ID card?
Or resident of Happy Street, in house with pretty yard?
No, that’s not what we really mean, remembering who you are—
We’re thinking of some deeper truths, revealed from God afar!
You, my sons and daughters, are choice, of Ephraim’s seed,
Fulfillers of a promise to Abraham in his need.
A generation chosen to come when time was best,
To have, to share the gospel, all nations to be blest.
Furthermore, dear children, your special heritage
Began in worlds premortal, of divine parentage.
And you are in the image of those celestial kin—
Literal sons and daughters of Deity, children!
Remember who you are, for lo, the world is watching you,
Taking note and pondering the things you say and do.
You see, you’re representing not only you, “John Doe,”
But family, nation, church and God, are shown where’er you go.
Remember who you are, we say, a child of God each one,
Remember, oh remember, and live worthy, till life’s done.

                                                           -- Jay M. Richardson