John William Gardner (1906 - 1959)

My husband, William Gardner, passed away early in life age 53.  I will attempt to write what I know and what has been told about him.

He was the last child born to Elnora Robbins and Brigham Edward Gardner at Teton City, Idaho on September 25, 1906.  He was only one year and 6 months old when his mother died.  Donald Porter, a cousin, was born the same day.  This was fortunate for Bill as his aunt nursed him after his mother took sick and passed away.  His mother had a tooth pulled; she got an infection and went from the doctor to the hospital.  She also came home from the doctorís office, went out and cleaned the front porch, as she was a very meticulous lady, perhaps caught cold, got infection.  They didnít know at the time if it was blood poisoning or even cancer.  She died in April the next spring.  He lived with Mrs. Porter and she nursed and cared for him for nine months.  Then his father took care of him all winter.  From there he stayed with his Grandma Robbins until she had a stroke.  They tell me she was paralyzed for 15 years.  His sister, Esther, cared for the family, she was only 13 years old.  She was his oldest sister, also the oldest in the family.  Nora, who was one or two years younger helped.

I regret not asking them while they were alive more about his childhood.  Esther left when she was 16 years old, to live with her motherís sister, Aunt Della.  She married soon after and didnít come home again.

In his early years, he stayed with everyone.  He was found many times asleep on the ground in the empty small garden ditch.  He told me he liked garden vegetables raw, cucumbers, cabbage and etc.  I suppose he would get hungry and there was no one to cook for him, as his father had to work on the farm to keep food on the table.

When he was 9 years old, they went to the timber and his father put him behind a tree and told him to stay there.  He didnít listen and ran under it.  When it fell, it fell on his leg and it broke up in his thigh.  They took him to the doctor on the running gears of the wagon.  Nora, his second oldest sister came and took care of him.  They put rock weights on it and he was a year in a cast.

When he was 12 years old he sold salve (Watkins) called Rose salve.  He loved to visit neighbors and friends.  They told him to sell the salve, as they knew everyone would help him out.  Every place he went they bought it.  They perhaps felt sorry for him.  He couldnít keep in it.  They began to tease him and told him he didnít have a guarantee it would grow hair and such things.  His cousin, Tom Gardner, told his father he bought it all and wouldnít let him sell anymore.  They began saying vulgar things to him.

In 1920, March of that year, they went to Canada.  His father wanted to try raising cattle up there and farming.  Bill, was what they used to call him, didnít like it up there so he ran away.  He made it 50 miles before he decided he couldnít make it alone.  A ditch rider found him.  He remembered he had seen him before, having been to his ranch with his father.  He made several attempts to come home.  One time, the Canadian Red Coats called and helped to get him home.  His dad sent money finally to get him home.  They finally sent him a ticket and put a tag on him on the train. 

Grandpa Gardner, his father, worked on the railroad and bought his farm at Teton City where he spent the rest of his life.  Brigham, his father, and two Uncles, Fred and John, came to Idaho and homesteaded.  Lorenzo Christensen, Estherís husband, bought his place in Canada.  He was a seed and potato man from Shelly, Idaho.  They couldnít seem to make it in Canada; such sever winters.  The cattle froze to death, and only Floyd stayed up there to run things.  He was only a few years older than Bill.  While in Canada, they bought a cow and chickens.  Floyd went to work for a minister.  He wanted them to go to church.  Bill went once in a while.  When the minister found out they were Mormons he fired Floyd.  He needed Floyd so he called him back to work.  He was a good worker and he really needed him.

They also homesteaded a 640-acre farm called Grassy Ridge and had about 80 head of cows (part were milk cows) and 300 sheep.  It was north of St Anthony.  Bill and Floyd would sit out at night and yell at coyotes and have them yelling all over the place.

Bill was strong and an excellent worker.  He worked for his brother-in-law, Estherís husband, on his seed and potato farm; later he trucked seeds to Caldwell, Idaho; worked in Dubois at his uncle Auto Robbins, also in Humphrey, Idaho.

He was working in the sugar factory  when I met him on a blind date.  His cousin was going with my sister, so we double-dated until we were married on the same day.  They each died within a few years of each other later.  They played together when they were small.  They set Grandpa Gardnerís straw stack on fire, went up on the ditch bank and watched it burn.  They really got their hides tanned.

He lived a happy life, had many friends and had a wonderful personality.  He helped people in need.  One of our neighbors was a widow.  Her house needed roofing.  One morning he arose early and roofed her house.  When she found out about it later, he wouldnít take any pay.  He was a friend to everyone.  My mom lived with us every winter for 17 years after my father passed away and he was so kind to her, as kind as he would have been to his own mother.

He may have had more worldly possessions if he had stayed home and helped his father.  Floyd and Steve, his brothers, were always around to help, so I guess he felt he wasnít needed.  He didnít inherit anything but a nice family and many blessings.  Together we made our way; acquired a nice home and the things we needed.

After we were married he worked a year helping his father farm.  It wasnít profitable, so he began trucking for his brother-in law, Ren, then contracted sugar beets to harvest.  He had a crew of men; I cooked for them and we made out very well.  Then things became slow.  The depression came and he worked for the WPA, which kept us going.  My Mom and Dad owned a service station and store; they would bring us groceries on weekends.  We were so grateful to them.  By this time we had six children.

My Mother and Dad sold the store to my brother, Mark, and moved to Rexburg.  They lived there a number of years until my father contacted diabetes.  So they moved up next door to my sister Hilda where they lived until they passed away.

In the meantime we moved to Ogden.  He worked for the government one year and didnít like it so he went to the railroad as a carman.  He went back to trucking for Gresham roofing days and worked at the railroad at night.  He worked on the railroad until he passed away.  He started a roofing business of his own which all the boys except Ben, who lives in Tacoma, still work.

We did sealings in the Temple and when he passed away, he was helping with the Senior Aaronic Priesthood program.  He was a high priest.  I am certain he is active and busy in the spirit world.

We lived in a tent with six children, when we first came to Ogden; finally we bought a trailer home and lived in it the rest of the summer.  Then we bought a small home on 17th street, where the children went to Mount Ford School.  Carla later went to Ogden High.  While living there we met some lovely people, the Petersons.  She was a nurse and he worked for the government.  One time they planted a garden next to ours, then went on a trip.  It was their first garden.  While they were gone on this trip, Bill took some of our large cucumbers and put them in their garden.  She almost had a fit when she saw them.  She found out later they were planted and she laughed and had such fun to think Bill would fool them.  He was always playing jokes on people.

We decided it would be better to move farther out of town, so we bought a place on 5th street ; which had a barn, chicken coop and two-quarters of an acre of orchard.  So we raised chickens and had a cow, which we kept until one fell down the hill and was killed, so we sold everything.  We remodeled the house.  It was a large home and we added a fireplace and we enjoyed it very much.

Max used to bring home all kinds of animals - owls, pigeons. The girls thought he was great walking home from school with them because he would fight with the kids who bothered them.

Bob and Ben worked hard fixing up old cars and always had the yard full of them.  Out in the orchard it looked like a junkyard.  They learned a lot about mechanics.

Carla married soon after we moved up on fifth; she was so helpful to baby-sit the children while I worked.  The girls did all the work.  I paid them a small sum of money.

They did a lot of strange and fun things while I was away at work.  They told me later how they cooked pigeons in the barn, and while mopping the floor; they skated on the soapsuds just before I showed up from work.

Bob and Ben joined the Army and Navy.  Bob the Navy and Ben the Army.  Bob was in 4 years and Ben was in 2 years.  Ben was on the front lines a while before the Armistice.  He was lucky to come home without a scratch, while some of his buddies werenít so fortunate.

Then Mike came along.  We lived by a canal.  He fell in and his little friend and neighbor boy helped him to get out; he was 5 years old.  When he was about 2 years old, he toddled outside one morning, walked across a plank on the canal, and then walked on down the hill for about two blocks.  I went out to look for him and when I got to the canal, I was petrified, because I just knew he had fallen in.  I turned around, prayed, and then I said to myself, ďWell I guess he has gone in the canal; I will have to get help.Ē  A car drove in the yard and the driver said, ďIs this your little boy?Ē

When Carla was about 2 years old, we were living in Shelley by a canal.  We missed her and thought she had fallen in the canal.  We found her in the car asleep.  So the dear Lord helped us so much.  The twins, Bob and Ben, had a brush with death.  They were so terribly sick with diarrhea, they were so thin and frail, and when people came they would say behind my back, ďthey canít possibly live much longer.Ē  Good old Doctor Rich gave them some medicine and they were soon well again.

I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for his watchful care.  Then the sad passing of Bill was such a shock to all of us; again the dear Lord helped us in our time of need.

                                                                                                        Written by Rose Lutz Gardner

Last updated Saturday, November 21, 2009yy