Childhood Memories in Tropic, Utah of Leland Dwight Jolley

Typescript of Childhood Memories in Tropic, Utah of Leland Dwight Jolley

In the southern part of Utah, county of Garfield, is a pretty little valley and the little town of Tropic nestled a little east of those beautiful colored ledges of the Bryce Canyon. There is a ridge running north and south which divides the valley into two smaller valleys.

On the west side of this ridge about ¾ miles east of the little town of Tropic my father had an eighty acre farm. They had a two room house, with 2 small bedrooms in the attic and it was in this home I was born on October 18, 1918.

My mother had three other boys and three girls, so now she had seven of us to care for. Dad did farming but was gone most of the time to make a living for us all as he did not get enough from the farm. So much of the ground was just pasture land. This left mother to take care of everything at home alone so us children all had to help a soon as we were old enough.

The fall I was born, dad was going away with the sheep for the winter so he rented a house in town and moved us up there before he went away. We had to burn wood for fuel in the cook stove and heater so mother hired a neighbor boy to chop wood while dad was gone. He left when I was about a month old.

Mother always went with us to church as much as possible so on Dec. 2, 1918 she took me to church and I was blessed by my grandfather William J. Jolley, Jr. and given the name Leland Dwight. Mother chose the Leland and dad chose Dwight.

In the spring dad came home and moved us back to the farm. He did some farming and worked with his team in the summer.

There was a wide and deep creek bed run through the land of our farm, and in the summer very big floods came down it caused by quick heavy rain storms in the mountains north f our home. There were little meadows along the creek bed where my older brothers herded the cows to keep them from getting into the fields.

When I got old enough to go with the other children out to play, my oldest sister (Jewel) would take me with her. We all liked to play along the banks of the creek. In some places the banks were 25-30 feet high.

One day we followed the bank quite a long distance, and I began to get tired. Instead of telling Jewel I wanted to go back to the house, I said “momma will wonder where her darling baby is” so she took me back then.

The winter I was two years old, dad went with the sheep again and we lived up in town. Every morning Jewel would get me in bed with her and she taught me all of the nursery rhymes and a little song, (Come Little Leaves). I could sing it all through by spring and I was just 2 ½ years old.

When spring came dad came home and we went back to the farm again. We had only been back home about a month when my oldest sister Jewel died with appendicitis, May 17, 1921 which brought much sorrow to mother. I was too small to remember about it, and mother says it is too bad that I can’t remember Jewel for she took care of me so much and loved me so.


It was very hard on mother that summer. Dad went to hawling freight from Marysvale to Tropic with his team for Uncle Jessie Jolley as he had a store. Mother would take me up in field to help Malcolm and Cecil with the water as they were only little boys 6 and 8 years old, but with mother’s help, they would water the grain and hay.

On day mother missed me and went to see where I was and found me sitting with my feet hanging over the 30 ft. bank of the creek bed. She was so frightened for fear I would fall when I turned around, or before she could get a hold of me. I could not see anything to be afraid of then. I was not hardly 3 years old.

We all liked to see the big floods when they came, and each year they changed the banks some. Mother said they saw the banks cave off in as large a piece as our house and when it fell into the flood you could not see where it went. In time it had made a big bank of sand in one of the turns of the creek and us children did have a lot of fun play in this sand.

There were lots of springs of nice clear water in the bottom of the creek bed, and that is where we got our water to drink. It was so nice and cool, but we had to carry it up steep bank to the house. I could not carry much but I would go with mother or sometimes the older children and take a little bucket that would hold about a qt. But we all worked together down on the old Lizard Ranch.

On Sept. 21 after Jewel died in May, my brother Kay was born and I was 3 years old in Oct. Dad still did freighting that year. He would be gone about 7 days and then home for 3 or 4 then go again.

That winter about Feb. Malcolm got the Scarlet Fever, so we were all exposed. They came and quarantined us in so the children could not go to school. The health officer came down and brought books, paper, pencils, and chalk and mother gave the children their lessons so all passed their grade. I did not have the fever very bad but some of the children were quite sick. We were quaratened in or 11 weeks.

Well another winter and spring had gone and summer had come. The children from town use to come down to our place and play along the banks of the creek. One day there were some of our cousins down there, and we were all down in the bottom of the creek bed playing in the sand and making ditches. Mother could hear a big roaring sound. At first she did not think of a flood as it had not rained at our place, and then it came to her it was a flood so she ran to the bank and called quickly to us to get out, and we had just got to the top of the bank when the flood was right where we had been playing.

What a wicked looking thing. The head of it was about 8 ft. high thick with mud, rocks, logs, and trees. It looked like a big black serpent crawling along. It always took several hours for them to go down. Lots of times people would come down from town to watch the floods.

The fall I was 5 years old and dad was going again with sheep so we moved into town. My brother Curtis was only 2 months old and mother did not want to stay down on the ranch.

Dad stayed with the sheep until Christmas and came home. After Christmas he went with some other men to get work. He stayed until the first of March, and on his way home he stopped at Elberta to visit his brother (Uncle Bill).

Uncle Bill told dad if he would come back, he would give him the job of foreman on the Knight’s Co. Ranch. He came on home and he and mother decided to go to Elberta so he could work and be at home with the family too.

So on the first of April, 1924 they loaded the wagon, packing every good so they could take us much as possible. They sold the chickens and turkeys, also some of the furniture and what machinery we had. We had a big white top buggy, so they put our food, bedding and other things we would need to get to on the way. Mother and us children rode in the buggy so we had shelter from the sun. We had 5 cows and a little calf. Dad made a box on the back end of the wagon for the calf to lay down in as it was too young to walk so far. Malcolm and Cecil took turns riding a little pony and drove the cows, but by the third day the cows were so sore footed they could not travel. We camped at Circleville and the next morning dad sold the cows and calf and the pony and saddle to a man on a farm there. We had a good big team both were gray. We called them Queen and Prince.

Those days there were no hard surface roads, just narrow dirt roads with deep ruts in some places made by the wagon wheels in wet weather. There were no cars on the road down that way. There was camp houses and places to feed the horses along the way. We had brought a tent in case we would need it but only had to pitch it twice. We stopped at grandma Jolley’s in Monroe, and to Uncle Mac’s in Gunnison. We were on the way 10 days; you can go that distance now in 4 ½ hours.

Well we reached Elberta on the 12 of April about dark. All were quite tired and weary from the 10 day trip and needed to bath and clean up a little before eating and going to bed.

Uncle Will and his children lived there. We moved in with them and mother cooked for all as well as the hired men who worked there. She cooked for seventeen most of the summer. What a summer lots of hard work and sweat, lot of serious sickness, and lots of fun. I was rather small but was there mist it all.

The men that came there to work brought diphtheria, measles, and mumps to us. I had my part of the measles and mumps but was not as sick as the others. Mother said she could hardly hold me in.

Written by Leland Dwight JolleyTyped by his daughter  Diane J Adams


This is the PDF file in the handwriting of Leland Dwight Jolley sharing his recollections of growing up in Tropic, Garfield, Utah 1918 - 1923.  Feel free to upload this document written in his own handwriting.


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