Diamonds in the Field
A good father, Walter Johnson, lay dying of cancer in a Salt Lake City Hospital, the early months of 1915. His family of eight children and the young wife, Hettie, lived in Lynndyl, Utah, where they had moved from Leamington, to be on the new farm.
The youngest child, a baby of about a year old, was also dying of a birth defect, an open spine, and required constant care.
The mother was torn between the needs of her family and the desire to be at the bedside of her husband.
They both knew well, there was not much time, maybe a few weeks, filled with pain and anxiety. Walter knew the mother’s troubles. He had been the breadwinner and could no longer keep his job, working on the railroad crew, and fill his place as the provider for the family. The doctor and hospital bills were piling up, and the family’s needs continued.
One day Hettie got on the train and went to be with Walter. He was in great pain. Hettie could see that he was under medication but grateful to reach out his hand to the woman that he loved. She sat beside him with tears dripping to her jacket. He said to her, “There are diamonds buried on that farm. You find them and they will provide plenty of money.”
The mother knew that in his drugged mind, and pain filled body, he had found a way for the family to get along, and all the needs to be met.
The baby died and was buried on a Leamington hillside. Two days later the father died. His body was brought home and he was buried beside the baby.
The Family lived in a small home of three rooms, for the seven growing children. The home had been moved to the new farm, north of the railroad tracks near Lynndyl. The oldest, Mina, a girl of about 15, Lester, Effie, Mary, Bert, Max, and Alice, the youngest, about two and one half years old looked to their mother for comfort and support.
The mother gathered her children around her, “Your father said there are diamonds buried on this farm. If there are, we will have dig them out with plowing and planting, irrigating and harvesting.”
Hettie knew how the work on the farm would have to be done. She would have to do it with the help of the young children.
She worked in the fields. She helped the young boys reach to fasten the collars and the harnesses on the horses. She helped the young boy hook the horses to the plow, the mower and the rake. She carried the lantern and helped the children irrigate in the fields at night. She bargained with other farmers, to sell the harvests of the fields.
She hitched the horses to the wagon and took her children to see her mother and their grandmother, in Oak City. It was a time of recreation, of support of her brothers and sisters. One day her mother said, “how can you do all that you have to do and take care of baby Alice? Let me keep her for a while. I will love her and take good care of her.” So, little Alice was left with the good grandmother and Aunt Ida in their good home in Oak City.
The girls were taught to keep the home, to cook the simple meats, to plant a garden, to sew the family clothes, on the foot pedal sewing machine. They went out to work in other homes when there was an opportunity. Hettie went to help in homes where good nursing was needed, or where a new baby was born, wherever there wan an opportunity to help someone and to make money to help her family. They learned the value of all working together, for the common good. They learned the important values of living. At the end of the day, they knelt together and thanked the Father for all blessings.
Walter’s brother, Peter, came to help the family. He and Hettie soon were married. He was a great help to the family. He worked on the railroad and gave his check for the family needs and was a good father to the children.
The family of seven children grew to nine when two girls, Helen and Muriel, were born.
The grandmother got old and the little girl was able to come home to live with her brothers and sisters.
The children grew up, all good faithful people, taking their place in the world and meeting the vicissitudes of life with courage, knowing how to work and make a place for themselves. They all reared good families and passed the values of their good heritage on to them.
Alice said, “I was not able to live with my mother when I was young, now that my mother is old, I will live near her and take care for her,” and she did.
All the children came and said, “When you were young, you cared for us, now that you are old, we will care for you and Uncle Peter.”
The father was right, there were truly, “diamonds in the field” in the courage of the good mother and Uncle Peter, and the lives of nine resolute children.