Life Sketch of Joseph Spencer Burk

b2ap3_thumbnail_Joseph--Clara-Burk-1958.jpgWritten by Joseph Spencer Burk

(Picture of Clara & Joseph Burk 1958)

To all who may care to read this little sketch, I wish to say that my desire in writing this is that I might mention some faith-promoting incidents in my life which strengthened my faith and which I hope will benefit some of my descendants. I was born 14 December 1877, in Sunset, Arizona, north and east of what is now Winslow. This was the next year after the first colony of our people came into Arizona, and I remember well the primitive conditions under which we lived and labored. And I also remember that we were busy and happy.

Before retiring at night, the coals were banked in order that we might have fire in the morning, else we must borrow coals of our luckier neighbor. Wicks twisted from cotton rags and dropped down through candle moulds by us "kiddies" was our contribution to what we considered a source of good light. Another source was a cotton rag lying in a saucer of tallow. When we went to Church we sat on slab benches which had straddle legs, and I remember how thrilled I was when they sang the good old hymns, and how the singing of "The Star Spangled Banner" thrilled every nerve in my small body, even as it does today, and as I hope it always will.

I would like to write now about the United Order which the people in Sunset tried to live, which did enable them to prosper exceedingly. I will not have time or space for it here, but hope to later. (for more information on the United Order in Sunset, Arizona go to  When I was about nine or ten years old, Father moved the family to Alpine, Arizona, where he expected to find good range for his fine horses and cattle. I attended my first school here. My older brothers and sisters had gone to school at Sunset, and also a little town called Wilford, which was up among the beautiful pine-clad hills of the largest unbroken pine forest of our good old U.S.A. More especially what education I have received was attained in grade school in the Saint Johns Stake Academy, the University of Hard Knocks, and the Quorums of the Priesthood.


A few years ago while I was working at a sawmill owned by my brother Bill, I was fireman and usually oiled the machinery just before starting to run. This task I had almost finished except the oil cups around the saw cab before we went to lunch. Bill returned just before I did, turned on the power, and had gone some little distance away for something. I hurriedly took the oiler to finish before the other hands came to work. This I did without turning off the power, and while reaching way over to get the last bearing, some part of my clothing must have caught on a set screw in one of the large collars in the twelve foot steel shaft. At any rate, I felt myself caught and whirled rapidly around for a time. Then I lost consciousness and when I came to I was in a stationary position lying on my back cross-wise of this rapidly revolving shaft. I was in great pain and began calling to Will to stop the mill, but before he reached the engine I was thrown condiserable distance, landing in a pile of sawdust. Bill came and helped me up. I had no clothes on except my shoes and a part of my [?]. On going back later to the shaft, I found my garments wrapped as neatly around it as one might wrap a bobbin. Removing them, I found them not so badly damaged, but with a little patching, I was able to wear them again. My shirt and trousers were so badly cut to pieces, no attempt was ever made to make them wearable. I was not seriously injured, though greatly shocked and bruised. I have no explanation as to how this last was brought about, but I know that Divine Providence was with me.



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Comments 1

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Sheree Martin (website) on Monday, 27 May 2013 02:17

I love this story. I have told it many times.

I love this story. I have told it many times.