History: David William Rowley

The Pasadena Stake called me on a short term Stake Mission after I had already put my place up for sale, I did work at it for a while, though. It was also about this time that we got word that my Grandfather, Davis Peter Davis, had died in Idaho Falls. I wasn’t able to go up to the funeral and I felt bad about that.

We had written to Lillian’s (Lillian Alcorn) Aunt Jeannette (Margaret Jeanette Alcorn) who lived on the outskirts of Gridley, California and she wanted us to move right up there, so we decided to move to Gridley, California. One reason for moving in the first place was that I was temporarily out of work. The Fadel Construction man came for me to go back to work, but I was already loaded up to move.

Aunt Jeannette and her family surely made us welcome. We were living right there with her for several weeks before we finally found a place we could buy. We finally bought the Melissa E. Clement place which was about three miles west of town, through the help of W. J. Shephard, a Gridley real estate man. We made the purchase on September 1, 1948.

Right at first the boys (David Alcorn, Douglas Alcorn, Ralph Alcorn, Clayton Alcorn Rowley) and I and even Marjorie (Marjorie Ann Rowley) and Hugh (Hugh Alcorn Rowley) picked fruit together, but we didn’t do so well. I think one good fruit picker could have picked more than the bunch of us put together. We really tried awful hard to pick fast and well, it just didn’t work out so well. We picked for a month or so and then the picking was over for the year. Hugh fell out of a tree and broke his arm which added to our disillusionment about being fruit pickers!

Then I got a job up in Oroville Canyon with the Morrison Knudson Construction Company. We were building the Cresta Dam and I worked for them all winter until the following summer. Then I got a job with The Fife and Stoddard Construction Company and worked for them all the time we lived in Gridley. In Gridley we had a good garden, some fruit trees and some chickens and it seemed more like home.

On Thanksgiving day 1948, Marjorie complained of a sore throat. It turned out to be diphtheria. The family was quarantined and I boarded with the neighbors so I could keep working. It didn’t go through the family, but the quarantine lasted three months. Before it was over Marjorie and Hugh had to have their tonsils out. It was quite an experience for our family. I remember looking in the doorway at Christmas and watching the children enjoying their toys. It was really hard not to be able to come in and enjoy them with my family.

David had been discharged from the Navy and had come home and started back to school. He and Douglas and Ralph boarded with neighbors on the other side of us during the time the family was in quarantine.

On the 7th of June 1949, Grace (Grace Harriet Rowley) had a baby girl. They named her Cheryl (Cheryl Jeanette Smither), we now had a grandchild! Just after this Don (Donald Eugene Smith) enlisted in the Army. Since Don seemed to like it David decided to enlist in the Army, too. They were in the same outfit for quite a while.

To be continued on May 24th


History: David William Rowley

As far as Church callings went in El Monte, I was teaching the Sunday School class that Douglas (Douglas Alcorn Rowley) and Ralph (Ralph Alcorn Rowley) were in, I was on the genealogical committee as well as working with the welfare program and I was in the Elder’s Quorum presidency.

I got a job with the U.S. Rubber Company where Leonard (Leonard Clark Alcorn) worked. When summer came I took on other jobs also to help with the expenses of a large family.

(For details of the children’s experiences in school, see Lillian’s (Lillian Alcorn) history).

David (David Alcorn Rowley) had been having his troubles since leaving the farm and I wasn’t able to give him hardly any money. He couldn’t pick up any work that easily either. He and Don (Donald Eugene Smith) were good pals, so he joined the Navy while we were living here, but he didn’t like that very well. He later joined the Army.

We had a lot of good friends in the El Monte ward and Lillian and I would go to parties with them. We had lots of good times. One time they gave me a surprise birthday party. I was also asked to be Santa Clause that Christmas, (for details about these events, see Lillian’s history).

It was here that Douglas had his eyes operated on and the muscles changed back behind them. His eyes would cross while he was looking at you. They had tried to correct this condition in Montana with glasses, but it didn’t work very well. He didn’t have to wear glasses after the operation. The story of Douglas selling his glasses in school in Montana is told in Lillian’s history also.

In August of 1946 Grace (Grace Harriet Rowley) had a baby boy. They named him Donald Eugene (Donald Eugene Smith Jr), after his father. We were all saddened when he lived only about 17 hours. It was really hard on Grace and Don.

I went to work for the Fidel Construction Company and worked up in the San Gabriel Canyon. I worked both jobs for a while, then quit the Rubber Company.

It was while I was working on this new job that we got word that my father, Hugh Thompson Rowley, had died on 14 March 1948, I got leave from my job and I went back to Montana for the funeral, dad hadn’t been himself since he had sleeping sickness some years before. He would get disoriented even out in our backyard, and Francis (Hugh Francis Rowley) or Erma (Erma Thornton) or the children would have to lead him back into the house. It was a time of reunion, although a sad one. My Uncle Royal was there and we had a nice visit, Francis asked me if there was anything I wanted and I told him I would like Dad’s old watch since he bought it the year I was born.

I sold my place in Montana for a lot less than I should have had out of it, but with the money I was able to pay off the place in El Monte, California.

I was asked to help build the new chapel in El Monte. I worked on it for a while but didn’t get to help finish it because Lillian and I had decided to move to a smaller community thinking it would be better for the children. We had all lived on a farm most of our lives and there was so much congestion and crime in the city.

To be continued…

History: David William Rowley

When Grant (Grant Alcorn Rowley) was just 4 months old the doctor told us that he also had asthma and allergies and if we wanted to keep him we had better get him where it was hot and dry. We talked it over and thought of going to Mesa, Arizona, but Lillian’s (Lillian Alcorn) brother, Leonard (Leonard Clark Alcorn), wrote and said it was hot and dry where they lived in California and that he would rent a house for us and have a job waiting for me. We had our auction and sold the things we couldn’t take, rented our farm and prepared to leave for California.

We left Harlem in January of 1945. We visited friends and relatives on the way through Montana, Idaho, and Utah. When we arrived in El Monte, California we couldn’t rent the house for reasons beyond Leonard’s control and it didn’t seem as though there was any place to rent or buy with the small down payment we had.

After about two weeks we found a small house that an old couple had built. The husband was blind, so it wasn’t very well constructed, to say the least, but it was the only thing we could buy. We agreed to let the old couple live in one of the rooms for a month. Well, it turned out that they made all kinds of trouble for us, much as telling me that the children (Grace Harriet, David Alcorn, Douglas Alcorn, Ralph Alcorn, Clayton Alcorn, Marjorie Ann, Hugh Alcorn and Grant Rowley had tampered with their mail and other various things. They were hoping we would turn the house back to them and they wouldn’t have to move. He had come to me and said that I would never be able to make the payments on the place with the big family had to support, so I might as well turn the house back to him. I said to him, “Mister, you’ve got the wrong guy this time. I never promise to buy something I can’t pay for and you can be sure I’ll never let the place go back to you!” Finally, long after the month was up, I got rid of the trouble makers by moving them myself. They had said they couldn’t move into another little place because they had no way to do so.

Grant was still having his troubles. We took him to a doctor and to a lab for allergy tests. They found he was allergic to almost everything we were eating, including wheat, beef, and potatoes. The doctor also told us to give him all the oranges we could get him to eat. He ate a lot of them and they seemed to really help him. We had left Montana in the middle of the winter, January and I guess my blood was thickened up because it seemed so warm in California that I went around in my shirt sleeves all the time, even when it was still winter. The older residents of the area told me I wouldn’t do that next winter and I didn’t. I wore a coat.

Grace had grown into a lovely young lady, although she was still very young. It wasn’t very long before she and the young man next door, Donald Eugene Smith, became very interested in each other. Along in June they came to Lillian and me and told us they wanted to get married. They were both so young we didn’t feel like they were ready for marriage, I told them they should think it over very carefully and to watch each other and ask themselves, “could I stand to see him or her across the breakfast table for the rest of my life?” They waited a little while, but in July they came to us again and we agreed. The wedding date was set for 4 August 1945. The Bishop of the ward, Fred S. Hatch, performed the marriage in his own home and Don’s parents gave them a reception in their home. The kids then moved to San Pedro where Don was stationed with the Navy.

To be continued…

History: David William Rowley

They decided to keep her (Sharon Lee Rowley) in the hospital, but I had to go home and do the chores and get back to the rest of the family. I went up to see Sharon before I left. She put her little arms out to me and smiled and cooed and it seemed like she was trying to say, “It’s all right, Daddy, I’ll be all right.” Even though I went home Lillian (Lillian Alcorn) stayed with her. I went home feeling so much better, thinking that she was going to get well.

Two days later Lillian called and asked me to bring her some clothes. She didn’t mention any change on the phone, but when I got to the door she met me and told me that Sharon died. It shook me so bad that I walked right passed her and went to see Sharon. Her little hands were still warm, and I thought I could bring her back through the power of the Priesthood as I had done before. By this time Lillian was standing by the door and said, “Don’t do it, Dave, don’t make her suffer any more.”

So we laid our little darling Sharon to rest in the Harlem Cemetery. We were comforted to know that we would have her again in the hereafter. No matter how great our sorrow or how much we would like things to be different, life has to go on. Though she’s been gone these many years, as it is over thirty-five years ago, her sweet face comes back to my thoughts so much of the time. As also does my beloved wife, Lillian’s and David’s (David Alcorn Rowley), for all these many years. Things that made life happier and better place to live. I think my Heavenly Father for the association I had with each of them. It wasn’t all sunshine, but at least there were many lessons learned that made me happier and much wiser because of having had them in my home and in my heart. The feelings of inspiration I sometimes feel about them as I think of them is special to me. You know this is so true, “life is sweet because of the loved ones we have” The things which we share in common, not because of ourselves, but because there are those who care. You know, we’re always so much better off for having had someone who cared we may not be rich in gold and silver but we can be rich in having loved ones who care. Sometimes I feel I can almost talk to departed loved ones. They seem so close. We all need time for meditation, time to think back and we all really need a little time each day to meditate and get acquainted with ourselves. We need time to make plans to improve this precious gift of life and body that we may have joy.

Well life went on for us. I did more work in the basement, fixing a better place for the boys to sleep. I also made a fruit room and a laundry area.

One day in the spring of 1943 when the boys and I were thinning beets in the south field, Ralph (Ralph Alcorn Rowley) was playing instead of working. He was burrowing his head in the soft sandy soil. So while I was at the other end of the field where some willows grew, I chopped off a small one and put it in my back pocket and went on thinning. I thinned clear through and up to where Ralph was and he was still burrowing his head in the sand. I stepped up behind him and he never saw me at all until I laid the willow right across his tight pants. He was really surprised, but I don’t think he ever did anything like that again.

On the 26th of June 1944 our 9th and last child was born. It was another fine son. We named him Grant Alcorn Rowley, giving him his mother’s maiden name as a second name as we had done with all our sons.

To be continued…

History: David William Rowley

When Grace (Grace Harriet Rowley) was a young lady, she had a very nice complexion and was a very wonderful helper for her mother (Lillian Alcorn). She was the oldest child and often stayed home and took care of the children (David Alcorn, Douglas Alcorn, Ralph Alcorn, Clayton Alcorn, Marjorie Ann and Hugh Alcorn Rowley) and the house. She was a good housekeeper, too. One time we had to go to Havre and before I left, I told the boys to get the cows in about six o’clock. When it became time, the boys didn’t make any effort to get the cows in and Grace reminded them but they still didn’t go after the animals. Grace still tried to get them to do the job and finally she took off her shoe and threw it at the boys, but she missed and it hit the glass door in the library and broke it. She was afraid I would really get after her, but instead I got after the boys for not minding in the first place.

We had home nights part of the time and sometimes I read to the family. I read such books as “The White Indian Boy”, “Robinson Crusoe,” “The Swiss Family Robinson,” and then out of the “Instructor and the Improvement Era.” Sometimes we would go to the show, but not often because money was so hard to get.

Hugh was just a toddler when he tried to walk across a footbridge that went across the slough and he fell in. Marjorie wasn’t old enough to get him out, but she ran for help to Mrs. Wright who was living in the labor house on the edge of the slough. Her husband was working for us. When Mrs. Wright got there Hugh was crawling on the bottom, under the water, trying to get to the edge. She reached down and helped him out.

Lillian gave birth to another baby on 14 May 1942. A lovely red-haired little girl graced our home. She was born in the Harlem hospital and was the first of our children to be born in a hospital. We named her Sharon Lee Rowley. We were so glad to have another little girl. She was a frail baby and soon we learned that she had asthma, or at least the doctor thought it was asthma.

One Sunday morning, on the 27th of September 1942, the boys and I were out doing the chores when Grace came running out and said the Sharon was having convulsions. I was milking a heifer and almost done. I tried to hurry and finish. Grace came right back out and told me it was too late, that Sharon was dead. I dropped everything, spilling the milk, and went running to the house. Sharon was lying across Lillian’s arm like a wet blanket. I took the baby and laid across the foot of the bed and started artificial respiration by slowly by slowly pumping her little left arm up and down. I was praying all the time. Francis came running over too, after the boys had gone for him. Soon I saw the color coming back into her face, but her cheeks were still a little blue. I went to Bailey’s to call the doctor and to get someone to take us to Havre to the hospital. I didn’t have anything but a truck that was all open. Brother Larsen came soon and took us to Havre.

At the hospital they put Sharon in an oxygen tent and several of them started working on her. After a while they came and told us that there was mucus coming into her throat and choking her, but they couldn’t tell where it was coming from, so it wasn’t asthma.

To be continued…

History: David William Rowley

Francis (Hugh Francis Rowley) and I put in irrigation ditches and worked the land and tried to improve it. Our children (Grace Harriet, David Alcorn, Douglas Alcorn, Ralph Alcorn, Clayton Alcorn, Marjorie Ann, Lawrence Thornton and Noland Thornton Rowley) all played together and sometimes there would be some trouble, but never anything serious. Their Aunt Erma (Erma Thornton) was a good swimmer and she would take all the children swimming sometimes. I would help Erma with things at times and we always got along well and we liked each other. The four of us, Erma, Francis, Lillian (Lillian Alcorn) and I, would sometimes go dancing together and we all enjoyed dancing with each other.

I always had a big garden and from the time I used to help my mother (Grace Davis) with hers, I would work on it early in the morning, while breakfast was being prepared, then again in the evening, if I could get in from the field early enough..

I taught the Gospel Doctrine class in Sunday School, was the Scoutmaster for the boy scouts for years and was head of the genealogy work in the Harlem Branch for the last several years we were there. It seemed that no one else wanted the last two callings.

One time I was irrigating beet in the southeast field. I looked over the ditch bank at the field of grain that was nearly ready to cut and there the children were, running and playing in it again! I had told them not to play in the grain field many times because when they ran through it the stocks of grain broke and the binder couldn’t pick it up. Well, I thought I would teach them a good lesson so I climbed a tree and howled and barked. It scared the kids and they all started to run home. Douglas lost his shoes and David went back to get them. I got down from the tree and ran along the drain ditch and got to the house first and was sitting there when they came in. They said they had heard some wild animals and were really frightened. I asked them where they were when they heard it and they had to confess that they were in the grain field where they had been told not to play. I think they learned the lesson I wanted them to.

On a very cold January day, the 29th, of  January in 1939 another little red-headed boy was added to our family. This was the 7th child and my 5th son. It was 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit when he was born at 19 minutes past midnight. We named him Hugh Alcorn Rowley. He had such a cheerful, sunny and happy disposition that he added such joy to our family.

About this time we built a new chapel in Harlem. I helped with the building work. This was indeed a blessing to the whole branch. We had more classrooms and a nicer place and a better place to worship the Lord.

The children were growing fast. The other children went to school on the bus. The bigger boys were getting old enough to really help with the chores, especially David and Douglas. David was bout 11 and Douglas was about 9. Grace was about 12 and was a great help to her mother as she had been from the time she was small. She loved to help.

To be continued…

History: David William Rowley

When we went to turn the water into the ditch to irrigate, our neighbor, George Watkins, came over and told us we had no water rights. I told him we did. I went to Chinook that very afternoon to look for the copy of the water rights in the courthouse. They tried to help me and we looked through most everything there, but we couldn’t find them. I was about to leave when I saw two big books over by the door. I asked what they were and was told, “just miscellaneous things,” I opened one of them and there lay the water contract for the Murphy place, Mr. Watkins had been using the Murphy place for practically nothing and he was very put out that I had bought it. I have always felt that either he tried to hide the contract or had someone else do it. I thank my Heavenly Father that I was again blessed with the gift of discernment.

Happy day! We finally got a second daughter on the 28th of October 1936. We named her Marjorie Ann. We were so happy to have her. I delivered her myself with the help of Sister Hulse because the doctor didn’t get there in time. She was already cleaned up and asleep when the doctor finally arrived!

A few years later the big two story house I had first moved onto the place was ruined by the wind because it was still on blocks. I then made arrangements to get the buildings off the old Hesterman place and we moved them onto our property. We dug a full sized basement, ran the cement and put the house on it. The other buildings including: a granary, a garage and a chicken coop, which I gave to Francis (Hugh Francis Rowley) for helping.

We finally moved into the first real home of our own on our own place. The plot of ground where we had set the house was gumbo soil and in wet weather it would stick to our shoes so badly that we could hardly walk. The old saying was that…”after walking across the yard, if you could find a place to clean your shoes off, you would have the starting of a good farm.”

A little later I bought a big hip-roofed barn and paid $200 to have it moved onto the place. I was also able to buy a small coal and wood furnace for $15. I made a very good buy because even though it had been used a while it was in very good condition. I thank my Heavenly Father for the inspiration to go and look for it when I did.

I made a hole in the floor for a register in the center of the house and the heat from the furnace came up through it. Dad (Hugh Thompson Rowley), who was staying with Francis, would come over and sit by the register and toast himself. Sometimes the children would gather around and he would tell them stories of what he did when he was young. See his life story for some of those adventures.

I also built kitchen cabinets and put in a sink and tried to improve the house for Lillian (Lillian Alcorn) and the children (Grace Harriet, David Alcorn, Douglas Alcorn, Ralph Alcorn, Clayton Alcorn and Marjorie Rowley). We had an old log ice-house on the place. Every winter I would fill it with blocks of ice from the river, cover them with sawdust and straw chaff, and store them in the ice-house. We would keep things cold with this ice long into the summer months.

To be continued…