John Rowley and Sarah Wright Family Messenger


In the spring of 1925 the Alcorn family moved to Harlem, Montana to thin beets and work for the season and then go back to Utah, but when the season was over they rented the Amos Everett farm 4 miles east of Harlem. Lillian worked in the field thinning, weeding, and topping beets besides preparing the meals, doing washings and taking care of the home and needs of the entire family. Having a small eight years old sister, Melva, to care for she had many other responsibilities as well. After they rented the Everett farm of about 160 acres, and a large chicken plant, Lillian took care of feeding the thousand chickens. Her brothers took care of cleaning the coops, and the care that Lillian didn’t have time to give them, along with her other work.

It was while living here on the Everett farm that they attended the Harlem Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She taught Sunday School, and was a counselor in this TWMIA. Lillian was a very good singer and was almost always picked to sing on various programs they had and they always enjoyed listening to her. They had many socials and dances through the era.

She became very popular with the young people of her age and due to her high standards was respected by all. It was also while living here that in the spring of 1926 and attending a dance in Zurich, Montana that she was introduced to a young man who was later to make up such a large part of her life, David Wm. Rowley. Dave’s brother Francis and sister Verda also attended the dance from Lohman, Montana. On seeing Lillian at the dance, Dave asked her for a dance and was told she wasn’t acquainted with him and refused. So he got a mutual friend, Bert Murphy (who later married Dave’s sister, Verda) to make them acquainted. Then they danced several dances together. That night after the dance, Dave told another brother, Emerson, that he had met the girl he was to marry.

However, Dave and Lillian didn’t see each other again for several months as Dave was working back in the hills on Clear Creek on the Butler and Morrison farm.

A short time later Lillian had occasion 90 to meet Dave’s father, Hugh Thompson Rowley, who was traveling with a Mr. Barnes, looking over the beet crops, (Mr. Barnes was an agricultural advisor for the beet growers). They had dinner with the Alcorn’s and Lillian inquired until she found out that Hugh Rowley was the father of Dave Rowley, and so she inquired until she found out all she could about him.

Lillian had a lot of responsibility in caring for her mother’s family and she learned to be a hard and fast worker in whatever she did. It was while living here cooking and caring for the family and their hired help that one of the men made the remark in town that all they had for breakfast at Alcorn’s place was prayer and cereal. Well, the next morning, after she had told what he had said, all Lillian put on the table was cereal, and of course they had their prayer. He inquired if that was all they were going to get, and Lillian reported to him what he had told people the night before. That man learned a mighty important lesson, not to exaggerate in telling things to others. Anyway, they all got a good laugh and let it go.

In the spring of 1927 the Alcorn family bought the old Sam Taylor farm 3 miles west of Harlem on the banks of the Milk River. It had an old log house on it, with a dirt roof. It was a hard house to keep clean as the dirt kept sifting down from the roof. They lived in that house for two years. They then built a new frame house and a large potato cellar.

They raised lots of potatoes, beets, grain, hay, and etc. in the fall of 1927, after the potatoes were in the cellar, the cellar burned to the ground causing a loss of everything they had. It was quite a blow to the family as they were just getting started buying this large farm.

Dave got through working for Morrison and Butler in the fall of 1926 and helped his folks harvest their crops. Then in the spring of 1927 Hugh Rowley bought the Jake Everett ranch across the road from the Sam Taylor farm the Alcorn’s had bought. They farmed as neighbors several years. The L.D.S. Church had bought a large recreation hall from out in the North Country and moved it onto the corner of the Jake Everett place and the Branch held all their meetings, gatherings and socials there from 1923 until 1953.

They were a family that worked hard, but the Alcorn’s played and had good times together. They lived in the banks of a dead river, in which they would swim. Most of the neighborhood would come there to swim, too.

It was the winter of 1926 and spring of 1927 that Lillian became much better acquainted with Dave Rowley. They both liked to dance and the Branch had many fine socials and dances and they hardly ever missed any of them.

Not having talked about marriage previously, but out of the clear blue sky, Dave told Lillian one January evening, 1927, that He had thought they could be married that month, but he had to pay his tithing, and that took all his extra money. They finally did set the date for mid-July, the 14th. When they were going to be married, Lillian’s father, Clark Alcorn, and her sister Melva, and Dave’s father, Hugh T. Rowley drove to Chinook, Montana with them where the Branch Clerk was going to marry them.

After the ceremony they backed out of the door so they could tell others they had backed out. The Branch was having a farewell party that night for the Will Southwick family and Lillian sang the song “I Wish I Had Someone To Love Me”, in pig latin. Very few understood it, but got a good laugh out of it.

Dave and Lillian farmed the first year with Dave’s folks, and then also farmed a dry farm on the Indian Reservation, where two families lived in a small two-room log house, Dave and Lillian and his brother Francis and his family.

In the Spring of 1928 Francis and Erma Rowley bought the Lee Morgan farm in Paradise Valley for which Dave signed a bank note, to help things get started. Then in 1932, they lost all their material possessions when the mortgage was taken over by the bank in the heights of the depression at that time.

Lillian worked hard and expecting their first child in September (1928) worried a lot about anything happening that might impair or hurt the new arrival. The baby was born 20 September 1928 a beautiful little girl weighing about 4 pounds, but very alert and spry as she grew. They named her Grace Harriet Rowley, after both of her grandmothers. She grew very fast and her parents were never too tired to show her to friends and neighbors.

The farm work was hard and oft times required long hours away from home, so Lillian had to spend much of her time alone with the baby and Dave’s parents. Though her own folks lived only across the road, and she saw them quite often, but it still meant many lonesome hours alone with little Grace.

On 27 August 1929 another little bundle of joy blessed the home of this couple, a little boy which seemed to increase the joy and happiness of this couple beyond words to express. They named him David Alcorn Rowley (his middle name was Lillian’s maiden name).

Dave taught a Sunday School class and was the Boy Scout leader. Lillian taught a Primary class and worked in the Relief Society.

Dave and Lillian hadn’t yet been married in the Temple and it had been their foremost desire to have their marriage consummated in the Temple, to be sealed in this matrimonial alliance for time and all eternity, and not just until death should take one away. And that the two lovely gifts of our Heavenly Father should be theirs forever. So in September 1930 they made arrangements to go to the Temple with some other friends in Cardston, Alberta, Canada. On 24 September 1930 they were sealed for all eternity and Grace and David were also sealed to them. This great opportunity and blessing has been one of the greatest sources of joy and security in knowing from then on through all time and eternity they needed never be parted, but remain as a family group tied under the bonds of the eternal covenant of marriage as instituted in the beginning, ever to our first parents, Adam and Eve. That they too should part no more, but be as one flesh.

The winters were very severe, with blizzards and very cold weather to endure, and sometimes blocked in by high drifts so no one could get into town or anything. The weather often got down to around 40° below zero most every winter, and sometimes much colder. With heavy winds it was difficult to feed stock during these bad spells of weather. It was also hard to keep many of the homes warm enough and people have been known to freeze to death in their sleep, so life wasn’t pleasant in the wintertime.

On December 14, 1931 this home was once again blessed with a baby. A curly haired little blond boy, whom they named Douglas Alcorn Rowley, also bearing his mother’s maiden name.

The family continued pretty much the same as usual, farming, working hard and active in the local Branch of the LDS Church.

Not too many months later, another boy was born into this family, this time a redhead. He was given a common Rowley family name, that of Ralph Alcorn Rowley.

As they grew up together, Douglas and Ralph were very good pals. If you wanted Douglas, just find Ralph, or if you were looking for ralph, all you had to do was locate Douglas.

Things again progressed as usual, having success and failure in their crops and their farming activities. They found however that living on a farm with a famarily boys, was a blessing. It provided ample room for romping and play and all those boyhood antics.

Then on October 6, 1934 still another boy was born in this household. Thus making four boys and one girl. This fifth child was named Clayton Alcorn Rowley. Clayton was a frail little fellow. In fact in the first several months they almost lost him. Bur through the power of the Priesthood in the home, he was spared and is now a very husky, healthy man of 25.

Well, after these four boys straight in a row they had pretty well resigned themselves to a basketball team when it was discovered that another child was on the way.

Then, after Lillian had attended an auction sale all day on a cold October day, 28 October 1936, she went home completely exhausted. However, after being home only about four hours she gave birth to a… a… that’s right, a girl!

You can imagine the excitement in the home, when this little girl came along. They had decided to name her just Margie, but when Dave was giving her a name and blessing on January 3, 1937, he named her Marjorie Ann Rowley. Thus the spell was broken and Grace who was then eight, finally had her long prayed for sister!

It was a short time after this that 91 the family moved to another farm, which they bought. The boys were now getting just about old enough to help a little.

Lillian’s greatest joy and pride was in her wonderful family. She truly felt blessed and fortunate. Their family was a very close knit family unit from the very first.

The farm life was rugged, but Lillian never complained. During the summers she cooked for hired help besides caring for her own little family of six. She found great comfort, also, in her Church activities and she instilled in the hearts of her little ones a desire and want in attending their church meetings.

On a cold, cold January Day, at about 10 minutes past midnight, (January 29, 1939) Lillian gave birth to another son. They had their basketball team at last. This son was named Hugh Alcorn Rowley. All the other children were sleeping when Hugh was born, and when he made his first small cries, Douglas awoke and cried, “Mom, who’s pulling that cat’s tail?” He didn’t realize that at that moment another new life had just breathed his first breath of life!

All of these first seven children were born in a farm-house, and most of them without the assistance of a doctor. Again indicated the hard life Lillian lived.

Time passes until in May 1941 Lillian took Marjorie and made a trip to Utah to be with her only sister, Melva during the birth of her first child. While she was gone little Grace, then 12 years old, took complete charge of the house and preparing the meals for all those hungry boys. Lillian was gone for about two week, or so.

Then on May 14, 1942, a sweet little red-haired baby girl blessed their home. She was named Sharon Lee, and again the family rejoiced for her appearance. This little girl however, wasn’t to live long. And on September 30, 1942 one of the great tragedies occurred in Lillian’s life. This sweet little girl, who was a quiet content, happy baby, was called back to her heavenly abode. She suffered from asthma.

After this doctors had warned Lillian against having any more children. But the loss of that sweet little girl was something she couldn’t forget. Her arms ached for another baby to fill them. So against all doctor’s orders she found herself with child once again. This time she was in the hospital for about two or three weeks before its birth in anticipation of expected trouble. The baby, a boy, was born on June 26, 1944 and was a perfect baby in every way, and the longing in Lillian’s aching heart was filled and she was grateful beyond words. She had her healthy son to hold in her loving arms,

It was discovered, however, when this new son, Grant Alcorn Rowley, was about five or six months old, that he too, had asthma. The doctors told the parents that the only possibility to save him, was to move to a warmer dryer climate. Thus, they sold their farm equipment, and rented their farm, and headed out for Arizona, with a planned stop in Southern, California to see Lillian’s brother. This was the last of January 1945. Lillian’s father, who had a big van, helped them move their household belongings. It took them about ten days to make the trip. When they stopped over in California, they decided to stay there in El Monte.

They bought a home and settled down. Grant was taken to specialists and examined and tested. Several times during the next couple of years his small life was almost snuffed out by his asthmatic condition. But again through Priesthood in their home, he was spared as other members of this family had been, through this power.

Dave went into construction here in California, and they worked hard to establish a pleasant home atmosphere. However, they decided that for the betterment of the family they would make another move. So in August, 1948 they moved up to Gridley, California.

While they were still in El Monte, however, Grace married, and David enlisted in the Navy. So they made their move to Gridley with seven of their nine children.

While living in Gridley they experienced another tragedy that left it’s mark on Lillian. Their son David, who had been discharged from the Navy, and had rejoined the Army, had been stationed in Japan in 1949. When the Korean conflict started in June of 1950, his company was one of the very first to be called into action. Later his death was reported to have occurred on July 16, 1950, he was killed in action. His parents received the Purple Heart for him, because of his conduct in action.

Shortly after this the family moved again, in July of 1951, to Eureka, California on the Northern California Coast. The children adjusted well, and enjoyed their new home. In August, 1951 Lillian suffered a severe heart attack (Cornea Thrombosis), which put her in the hospital for six weeks. After her release from the hospital she spent several months in bed. Grace came home from the East Coast with her two daughters to be with her mother and care for her.

While living in Eureka, Dave and Lillian had the honor and privilege of sending a son, Ralph, on a mission to the Central States Mission with headquarters in Louisville, KY.

Shortly after this, their other daughter, Marjorie married Dwain E. Judkins in the Manti Temple, on 7 April 1954. Lillian and Dave accompanied her back to Utah for the wedding ceremony.

In June of 1955 the remaining members of the family, Dave and Lillian, Hugh and Grant moved back to Utah. Douglas was in the Air Force and Clayton in the Army, and Ralph on his mission.

They settled in Salt Lake City after a couple of months in Provo. Clayton was discharged from the Army in October, 1955 and Ralph received his mission release in December of 1955. Douglas got a leave and the whole family was together for Christmas again for the first time in a long while. Douglas was discharged from the Air Force in March of 1956.

Douglas married Vonna Ensign of Salt Lake in September, 1956 in the Salt Lake Temple. However, just prior to that Clayton received a call to labor in the Northern California Mission Field. He left in June of 1956.

Dave and Lillian were active in Temple work while they lived in Salt Lake, and enjoyed doing their genealogical work.

They moved to Bountiful in September 1957 and there they lived until the time of her death in January 1960.

Ralph married in the Salt Lake Temple in August 1957 and Clayton returned home from his mission in June 1958.

Lillian thrilled as she saw her third son to be called as a missionary leave by plane to New York on his way to Argentina on February 10, 1959. This was one of her greatest joys, to see her sons called as missionaries representing the Church which she loved so dearly.

Her death on January 2, 1960 was a great loss to all of us and especially to her family.

Truly her life was hardly her own but dedicated to the service of others and those she loved so dearly. She was an accomplished genealogist, having graduated from three different classes.

We, her children, owe so much to our dear mother, that it is beyond our ability to express. To her and our beloved father, we owe our lifetime of happiness our eternity of joys.

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