A Schoolmarm All My Life
Joyce Kinkead, editor

Chapter 14
Vilate Elliott

[p.141]Dividing her time between making handkerchiefs and buying Navajo rugs in Bluff, Utah, it is a wonder Vilate Elliott had time for school. Teaching thirty-two pupils for thirty weeks left her “lonesome and blue,” homesick for her family in Provo. Bluff might be called a hardship assignment even though Vilate recorded in her daily journal of the winter of 1899-1900 a multitude of social outings and religious meetings. Situated in the southeastern portion of the state known as San Juan country, Bluff had originally been settled around 1880, no mean feat considering that the entire band of settlers, wagons, cattle, and horses had to be lowered 400 feet down into Glen Canyon at a placed called Hole-in-the-Rock (Arrington and Madsen, 96-97). This outpost received few hassles during the days of polygamy persecution by federal officials. They simply could not get to the offenders to bring them to prison.

Twenty years after its settlement, Bluff could still be called “frontier.” Admittedly, the road was easier to traverse by that time, but Vilate noted that after taking the train from Provo to Thompson Springs, she and her Aunt Cornelia, her companion and chaperon, had to resort to a “poor old tumbled clown rig.”

Vilate provides numerous details of her life as a teacher: she paid $3.25 weekly for board while her salary was around $200 for the academic year September to April. Those eight months were long ones for one used to the bustle of Utah’s metropolitan areas. In one entry she noted that she had not “done anything but teach school today.” Her pupils were not [p.142]budding scholars, and she contended with disease and absenteeism throughout the year. Her tone turned petulant when she found that she had to take the teacher’s examination even though she already had a certificate (5 Nov.); three weeks later, she wrote, “I have been taking the examination today. I don’t know how I will pass nor do I care much” (30 Nov.).

Vilate’s constant letter-writing to family and friends indicates her homesickness and youth. She frequently wrote to Alice Reynolds, who had taught her at Brigham Young Academy. Although she disliked the loneliness of Bluff, Vilate taught there twice with an intervening five-year stint in the Provo schools. Her second assignment in Bluff was to teach its first graduating class; according to her obituary, 100 percent of that class enrolled the next fall at the B. Y. Academy. Her other teaching assignments included the Franklin School in Provo in 1905 and the Summit Stake Academy in Coalville.

She later followed Reynolds’s example, broadening her education and travelling. In 1922 she lived in Chicago with Reynolds and a Miss Barber. She and the professors from Brigham Young University toured Europe, Asia, and Africa for “a year and a week” in 1924-25, one of two “around-the-world” trips in her lifetime: “We will arrive in Salt Lake tomorrow morning, it does not seem possible that a year has gone since we left, our dream year, it has been a wonderful year, we have traveled through 21 countries, the rest of my life will be greatly enriched by this year’s travel. I must take up my responsibility and get to work” (Elliott, 2:193).

For thirty-one years Professor Margaret Vilate Elliott taught home economics at BYU, having received her clothing and textiles training in 1907-1908 at the Pratt Institute in New York.

DIARY, 1899-1900
BLUFF OCT. 29, 1899.

On the 13th of September Aunt Cornelia Clayton and I left Provo for San Juan County, Utah. We arrived at Thompson Springs on the morning of the 14th, arriving at Moab the same day. The wind blew all day and we were very uncomfortable most of the time. When we [p.143]reached Pres. Hammond’s we were very tired. The next day Friday Aunt Cornelia held three meetings with the women and Young Ladies of Moab, I spoke in all of these meetings. Aunt Cornelia was traveling in behalf of the Young Woman’s Journal.1

The next day, Saturday the 16th, we started for Monticello, driving ourselves in a poor old tumbled down rig. A young man by the name of Charles Robison traveled along with us horseback, he wasn’t much of any good, except to unhitch and do little odd jobs, but he charged us $7.00 for the privilege of riding along by us.

Sunday we arrived at Monticello we stopped there until Monday evening holding two meetings Aunt Cornelia getting many subscribers for the journal.

Monday evening, Sept 18th, we went over to Verdure in our tumble down buggy. I was driving and I thought a number of times one of the wheels would give way, but it did not, we had no escort this time. We held meeting that night in Verdure. We had a splendid meeting. Aunt Cornelia spoke in tongues. We spent the next day at Verdure resting most of the day. We started to Bluff, our destination, on Wednesday the 19th arriving here that night. We stopped at Sister Leona Nielsen who treated us very kindly. I am boarding with her now and expect to all winter.

Thursday, Sept 21st. This was the day of the Navajo Fair, we went to see it. It was very interesting. Some fine blankets were there. Aunt Cornelia held two meetings that day. She had intended going on to Mancos, Colorado, the next morning but the people would not let her go, they paid the extra fare to the mail boy. She remained until the following Monday. We were feasted every meal she was here. Sunday, she and I both spoke in afternoon meeting, the first time I ever did such a thing. Sunday night we held a Fast meeting,2 it was grand. Aunt [p.144]Cornelia spoke in tongues. While she was here she gave nearly everyone a blessing.3

Monday morning she had to go. How I hated to see her go, no one will ever know but me.

School began that day the 25th of September. I expected to teach thirty weeks or three terms. I had 32 pupils4 the first day. At the close of the first week I was so lonesome and blue I did not know what to do. On the 17th of October I paid Leona $6.50 for two weeks’ board. Five weeks have gone now, last week I had examination, my pupils did not pass very well in Arithmetic. Friday night Nettie Nielsen, Lettie Stevens [and I] went for a horseback ride. We enjoyed it very much. Saturday 28th Leona had a candy pulling we had a very pleasant time.

Sunday Oct. 29th, I went to Sunday school but stopped at home this afternoon to write letters. I wrote seven—to mama, Kate, Gennevieve, Isabel, Barton, Nora Young, Jennie Knight and Alice Reynolds. I am very tired. After this I will try to keep a daily journal.

Monday Oct. 30.—I have been sleepy all day, the [Nielsen] children kept me awake last night. School has been fairly good today. I must introduce percentage tomorrow, to my eighth grade. I dread it. Only eight weeks until Christmas.

Tuesday Oct. 31.—It has been cloudy today all day, turned off quite chilly. I went to Sister Eliza Redd’s5 for supper tonight. Then [p.145]Hattie and I went to Young Ladies meeting, I gave the lecture on Church Organization.

Wednesday Nov. 1st I did not receive any mail today except a paper. Hattie and Herbert Redd came here tonight. Hattie wanted me to help her with her grammar.

Thursday Nov. 2nd. We have started to prepare for an entertainment for Thanksgiving, the 30th. No mail again today.

Friday Nov. 3rd. I haven’t done anything but teach school today, the teacher came from Monticello and Verdure tonight. They came to take the teachers examination. I am not going to take it. I have my certificate from Provo. Bro. Decker said I need not take it. He is the trustee.

Saturday Nov. 4th. I have been thinking of that old examination all night. I am very glad I don’t have to take it. I received a letter from Alice Thuesen today. I haven’t had a letter from home for a week. I thought sure I would get one today, but I didn’t. It is Ward conference here tomorrow, the whole town is in excitement over it. Maggie Baily, Bro. and sister Rogerson have come to stop here, they are from Monticello. Bro. and sister Hammond have come too.

Sunday Nov. 5th. I went to Sunday school this morning and gave my lesson in the Theological class. Elders Golden Kimball,6 Seth Taft, Pres. Hammond and wife were there, besides some other visitors. After Sunday school in connection with some others we went over to Eliza Redd’s to visit until meeting time; as it was fast day we had no dinner. Miss Christersson, one of the Monticello teachers, was there. I like her very much. After meeting we went to Grandmama Adams to supper, we went from there to conjoint meeting after which I went home with Hattie Redd where I stayed all night. We talked until nearly midnight.

Monday Nov. 6th. It is my dear mother’s birthday today, I wish I was home to spend it with her. I have been to meeting all day, school being dismissed until conference is over, Leona invited the Monticello teachers here for supper, Miss Christersson and Mrs. Candland. We went to meeting again last tonight. After that we went to sister Mary Jones. The two trustees, Evelyn Adams and Bro. Decker, met the [p.146]teachers where discussed about having Institute. Miss Christersson, Mr. Candland and Mr. Mortensen were appointed as a committee to make out a program for an institute. I suppose it will be held in Monticello. I dread it. The guitar and mandolin club were at sister Jones, they played a number of fine pieces, after which we went over to Bro. Joseph Nielson, where Bros. Kimball and Taft were serenaded. We had a very pleasant time. I had a letter from Helen Basham and Mildred Ward today, it was so nice.

Tuesday Nov. 7th. No school again today, on account of conference. I went to Relief Society conference. We had a very good one, Bro. Kimball has given excellent instruction all during conference. I am not going this afternoon; it is primary [children’s] meeting, we are invited to Joseph Nielsen’s to supper tonight. We had a splendid meeting tonight, Bro. Kimball spoke all the time. I received a letter from mamma and Hattie today, I have answered mama’s already.

[Parts of the entry for 9 November are too faded to read.]

Thursday, November 9th. Bro. Kimball spoke to some extent on round dancing, said wicked and licentious, men ought not to be allowed to dance. … I forget to say that we had no school yesterday, but we will hold it Saturday instead. I received a letter from Aunt Cornelia yesterday.

Friday Nov. 10th. I haven’t done anything today but teach school. I am very tired, some of the boys acted so mean today when we were trying to practice a piece for our entertainment for Thanksgiving.

Saturday Nov. 11th. We are going to teach school today until I o’clock to make up for time lost Wednesday. School is over and I am so tired it does not seem like Saturday because of school. I received a dear good letter from mama today. Bro. Walton, Leonia, father and Bro. Brunson are here. They have come as home missionaries.7

Sunday Nov. 12th. I went over to sister Eliza Redd’s yesterday afternoon. I stayed all night. They treat me so lovely when I go over there, so does everybody in Bluff for that matter. I am not going to [p.147]Sunday school this morning. I am going to write letters. My letter from mama had some pressed pansies and violets, they were lovely.

Monday Nov. 13th. I have had the poorest day in school today that I have had since I started, nearly every class was in part unprepared. I stayed to the school house until after dark, even lit the lamp waiting for some of the children to finish their lessons. I came home feeling very much discouraged and blue. I received a letter from Ovena today, she told me all about her class.

Tuesday Nov 14th. School has been much better today. The boys and girls have tried to redeem themselves from yesterday. We had practice tonight for the entertainment for Thanksgiving. I received a long letter from May today.

Wednesday Nov 15th. I have been sick all day today but I have been in school, it is very stormy, blowing and raining all day. My 5th and 6th grade had geography examination today. All of them passed. I finished one of my handkerchiefs tonight.

Thursday Nov. 16th. Stormy again this morning. I have a boil on my face, it has swelled the right side of my face up horribly. Bro. Jones has gone to Mancos to conference. I am on the program for the Institute to be held in Monticello Dec. 1st, that is Friday. I received a letter from Miss Kellogg today, also one from Mrs. Willes; Mrs. Willes sent me photos, also one of the baby it is so sweet. I have first written to Ovena. My head aches terribly tonight. I am going to bed now although it is only seven o’clock. It is Hazel’s birthday today.

Friday Nov. 17th. It was religion class this morning. We had a very good class. I have felt so miserable today, hardly able to teach, but I got through somehow. I have started my classes in science and drawing this week. I received a letter from Farr tonight, also one from Lucile and Leona, and a long one from Jennie. My face is swelled worse tonight.

Saturday Nov. 18th. I washed my head today. I have finished my handkerchief and started another. I have had the blues all day. I received letter tonight from Kate, Hazel, and Nell. Kate sent me some stamp pictures of herself. They are pretty good. Sister Mary Jones came tonight and spent the evening.

Sunday Nov. 19th. I did not go to Sunday school this morning but stayed at home to write letters instead. I have written to May, Jennie, [p.148]Kate, Hazel, Nell, Farr, and Leona and Lucile today. We were invited up to sister Wood’s for dinner today; after that we went to meeting. I got so tired. Bro. Adams and Bro. Allen and the bishop spoke. After meeting Sister Redd, Mary Jones and I went up on the hill. Thus ended one more Sunday.

Monday Nov. 20th. I have been to school all day. I hemstitched a handkerchief tonight.

Tuesday Nov. 21st. Five children were absent today. Sister Lyman8 came to school this afternoon, said she believed Lucretia had the measles, she wanted Mary to come home. I received a letter from mama today. I answered it and sent for some lace for my handkerchiefs. I hemstitched another handkerchief.

Wednesday Nov. 22. The measles are breaking out among the children. I don’t know what we will do about it. I have worked on my handkerchiefs tonight. Mr. McDermott from Monticello called to see us tonight. I received a letter from Leah Pyne tonight.

Thursday Nov. 23. Have felt poorly all day, almost unable to teach. I went over to sister Eliza Redd’s for supper tonight. Mama sent me some beautiful chrysanthemums. I received them today, also a letter from Mr. Rawlings. I worked on my handkerchiefs.

Friday Nov. 24. Feel very miserable again today. The children are still coming down with the measles, no mail today.

Saturday Nov. 25th. I had a letter from mama today, also one from Jennie, have been sick all day today. I went over to sister Redd’s for supper.

Sunday Nov. 26th. I have written to Miss Kellogg, mama, Leah Pyne, Mrs. Willes today. I am going to meeting now. We had a very good meeting; after it was out, Leona and I visited the sick. Mr. Thompson came to see us a few minutes tonight.

Monday, Nov. 27th. I have been ill all day today, did not receive any mail [p.149]today. Sister Adams and Aggie went down the river to meet Fred Adams who is ill with typhoid fever.

Tuesday Nov. 28th. I have paid nine weeks’ board today ($29.25) that pays up to Dec. 10th. I feel better today than I did yesterday. No mail again today.

Wednesday Nov. 29th. I received a letter from Amelia today. An indian came up the river on a horse to tell us Fred Adams was dead. He died Tuesday morning at five o’clock.

Thursday Nov. 30th. Thanksgiving day. This morning at daylight Wayne Redd and Jesse Thornell took teams down the river to meet the folks with Fred’s body, also to bring Aggie and sister Adams back. They arrived here today about noon. The funeral was held this afternoon. Poor Aggie and her children. I have been taking the examination today. I don’t know how I will pass nor do I care much. I am very tired tonight. I went over to Sister Redd’s to dinner today.

Friday Dec. 1st. I have only 21 pupils in school today, the rest are down with measles. I received a long letter from May today. Evelyn Adams and Parley Butts came down from Verdure today, also Peter Allan. They thought they would get here for the funeral. I have Finished my last handkerchief tonight, that is the small ones. Last Tuesday Bro. Decker paid me $60.00.

Saturday Dec. 2nd. Sister Evelyn Adams has been here nearly all day. I have sewed the lace on six handkerchiefs today. Mr. McDermott called to see us tonight.

Sunday Dec. 3rd. I went to Sunday School this morning with sister Adams, but when we got down there, there was not any on account of the measles. I went to Fast meeting this afternoon. There were only a few there, everybody spoke [gave testimony]. Sister Evelyn Adams and Mr. McDermott ate supper with us tonight. I have written to May, Jennie and Amelia today. Mr. Thompson spent the evening with us tonight.

Monday Dec. 4th. Sister Evelyn Adams went home this morning. I have taught both Lettie’s and my room today. There were only eleven in all, everybody is down with measles. I went over to Sister Redd’s after school was out, also up to Stevens. I received a letter from mama tonight, also the lace I sent for. I have written to mama tonight.

Tuesday Dec. 5th. Only eleven pupils again today. Bro. Decker [p.150]came at noon. We decided to close school for some time. Leona and I visited the sick this afternoon. I will sit up all night at Sister Eliza Redd’s tonight.

Wednesday Dec. 6th. I sat up all night last night until 5:30 this morning. I have finished sewing the lace on my handkerchiefs. I received letters yesterday from Farr and Alice Thuesen. I went to visit the sick again today.

Thursday Dec. 7th. I have written to Farr today. I went up to Sister Wood’s this afternoon, then she and I went to see the sick.

Friday Dec. 8th. I went up to see Lettie today. She is getting better. I went over to Sister Eliza Redd’s this afternoon, also up to Rachel Perkins. Sister Perkins made me stay for supper. I finished my handkerchiefs tonight. I will send them home Monday. Every body is getting better of the measles.

Saturday Dec. 9th. Leona and I went over to Aggie Adams this afternoon. I received the drawing book from home today, also my guide.

Sunday Dec. 10th. There was no Sunday School or meeting today on account of measles. I have started to read “Thelma.”9

Monday Dec. 11th. I have been working at my battenberg10 work today this afternoon I went over to Sister Redd’s. I received a letter from mama today, also one from Kate and Virgie Bean. Mr. McDermott called to see us tonight.

Tuesday. Dec. 12th. I received a letter from Alice Reynolds today, I expect to start school tomorrow.

Wednesday Dec. 13th. I have taught school today. There were 21 pupils I sewed some last night.

Friday, Dec. 15th. The children seem to be coming down with the measles. No mail today.

[p.151]Saturday, Dec. 16th. I received letters from Miss Kellogg, Owena and Aunt Lydia today, I wrote to Miss Kellogg tonight.

Sunday, Dec. 17th. Lisle and Gennevieve have the measles. They are quite bad today. I wrote to mama and papa today. I have been to Sunday School and meeting today and young ladies meeting tonight. I have Finished “Thelma.”

Tuesday. Dec 19th. I received letters from May and Jennie today. We practiced for the entertainment today. I guess we will have it next Tuesday the 26th. Beatrice Perkins, Annie Bayles and Lettie Stevens called in a few minutes tonight. The children are almost well again.

Wednesday, Dec. 20th. I went over to Sister Redd’s tonight. I finished my battenberg while I was there. Sister Redd and I came back to the store. Bro. Redd treated us to candy.

Thursday Dec. 21st. I have started to make another piece of drawn-work. I received a beautiful calendar from Nell today, also some of Dave’s birthday cake.

Friday Dec. 22nd. I have been reading the “Birds’ Christmas Carol”11 to my school this week. I received Christmas presents from mama and all the girls today. They are just lovely, a beautiful gold band from mama, handkerchiefs from Hazel and Gennevieve, ribbon from Hattie, a Christmas card from Kate. Pearl cuff buttons from Farr, handkerchiefs from Leonia and Lucile. I received a letter from Farr today.

Saturday, Dec. 23rd. I received a letter from mama today, also from Aunt Lydia. Aunt Lydia sent me a pretty hair-brush but it was broken when it got here. May sent me a copy of Aretta’s poem, entitled, “For Christ’s Dear Sake,” it is very pretty. Leona received her organ today. It is just lovely. Sister Rachel Perkins’ baby died this morning. It has always been sick and has had measles then lung fever. It is one year and a half old.

Sunday Dec. 24th. I went to Sunday school this morning and to the funeral this afternoon. Four missionaries came from Colorado today to spend holidays. Their names are Elders Pert, Ashton, Gertsner, and [p.152]Crawford. I met them all at meeting tonight. After meeting I went over to spend Christmas with Redds. I stayed all night. Sister Redd gave me such a nice comb for a Christmas present.

Monday Dec. 25th. I stayed at home this afternoon with Floyd as he has the measles, while Leona took Gennevieve and Lisle to the children’s party. I went to the dance tonight. I had to recite. Hattie came and stayed all night with me. Bro. Ashton brought us home.

Tuesday Dec. 26th. Yesterday I received a parcel from Jennie, a lovely pair of silk mittens, and a handkerchief. I received letters from Jennie and Miss Kellogg today. Jennie sent me a Christmas card, Miss Kellogg a beautiful calendar. The school entertainment is tonight.

Wednesday Dec. 27th. We made $6.20 last night at the entertainment, everybody seemed to enjoy it quite well. After it was out, they danced a while. Bros. Ashton and Pert called to see us this morning. Lettie and I went down and straightened up the hall today. I bought four Navajo blankets. Leona has gone to the ball game. I am taking care of Floyd. I have written to Jennie today.

Thursday Dec. 28th-Sunday Jan. 7th, 1900. I have been so busy, that I haven’t had time to write in my journal.

Thursday. Dec. 28th. I was invited up to Bro. Larson’s to dinner today. After that we all went to the party.

Friday I was busy all day making badges for the old folks party. Friday night they had a cap party, we made our caps out of paper. I drew Henry Wood at the party. Saturday I was busy all day getting ready for the “old folks” dinner and party. I gave a reading that evening, “Nearer My God to Thee.” Elder Crawford played the music to it. Sunday was the Sunday School jubilee. Sister Redd doctored me up as I had a cold.

New Year’s Day we all went horseback over to the ruins, the missionaries went with us. We had a jolly time. After supper Elder Ashton took Leona and me to the dance. I went home before it was out.

I began school Tuesday morning [2 January]. The children were not very well prepared. I have been having examination this week. Some of the children did not pass very well.

Saturday I worked at the school house all day finishing my papers. I have received letters this week from Jennie, mama, papa, Nora Young. I have written to mama, papa, Ovena and Aunt Lida. I have [p.153]been staying with Sister Redd ever since last Tuesday. Gennevieve got caught on fire in the fire place and Leona burned her hand putting it out. She was not able to do anything. I have enjoyed staying here very much. They are getting better now so I guess I will go back soon.

Monday Jan. 8th-Thursday Jan. 11th. My school has been much better this week than it was last. I haven’t received any letters this week. I owe so many. I guess there is no one to write to me. I am still staying with Sister Redd. I am not feeling well tonight. Last Tuesday, Jan 9th. Bro. Decker paid me $100.00 on teacher’s salary, that makes $160.00 they have paid me.

Friday Jan. 12th. I paid $17.50 for Navajo blankets today. I am still at Sister Redd’s.

Saturday Jan. 13th. I have spent the day at the school house, writing letters and studying. I have written to Miss Kellogg and Alice Thuesen. I have not had any mail this week. It has not come yet today.

Monday. Jan 15th. I did not receive any mail last week at all. I wrote to Jennie, mamma, Aunt Cornelia, Nell, and Nora Young yesterday. I went to meeting yesterday, but my head ached so badly last night I had to go to bed so I did not go to young ladies meeting. My school has not been very good today.

Tuesday, Jan. 16th. It has been so warm today. We have had the windows up nearly all day and no fire this afternoon. I received letters from Farr and May today. I have written to May tonight. I guess I will go back to Leona’s tonight. Jennie has been married a year tomorrow.

Wednesday. Jan. 17th. I paid Leona $9.75 last night on my board. That pays up until Jan 15th. I kept all of my children in tonight until 5 o’clock, on account of whispering.

Thursday Jan. 18th. Lillie Decker and Jennie spent the evening with us last night. Sister Redd and Jones called a few minutes tonight. I haven’t felt well for two or three days.

Friday Jan. 19th. There isn’t anything occurred today. I am feeling better.

Saturday Jan. 20th. I have been patching all day. I received a letter from mama today. I went down to Sister Redd’s a while tonight. Hattie came home and stayed all night with me. I wrote to mama tonight.

Sunday Jan. 21st. I have written to Hattie, Kate, Hazel and Gen-[p.154]nevieve today, also to Farr and Aretta Young. Ellen Young died a week ago. We are invited up to Decker’s for supper tonight.

Monday Jan. 22nd to Thursday Jan. 25th. After young ladies meeting last night we all went over to Armetta Nielson’s because Jesse Thomell, a young man that has been staying there, was going away.

Tuesday I received a letter from Rose Young. Wednesday I kept my children in for an hour on account of being disorderly. Thursday I received letters from papa and Miss Kellogg. I kept the children in again tonight. Sister Jones came and spent the evening last night. As I came home from school today at noon there were a number of Indians shooting with their bows and arrows. They were laughing and joking and having a fine time. There is a lecture tonight but I did not go.

Friday Jan 26th. My school has been pretty good today. Sister Wood invited me up there tonight after school. I stayed and spent the evening. I received a letter from mamma today. Hazel has been sick, but she is better now.

Monday January 29th. My children have been poorly prepared today as a result of it being Monday. I was invited over to Aggie Adams tonight but did not go I had so many lessons. Lettie has gone to Monticello to visit schools so Lillie is going to teach the rest of this week.

Wednesday Jan. 31st. I have written to May today. I am introducing square root to my eighth grade today. No mail except a paper came today.

Thursday Feb. 1st. I received a letter from Ovena today. Tonight after school was out I went over to Sister Redd’s.

[The entries from 3-12 February are illegible.]

Tuesday Feb. 13th. It is just five months today since I left home. There has been a sand storm today.

Wednesday Feb. 14th. Today is Valentine Day. I came to school this morning at 7:30. I had some lessons to get. It has been a terrific sand storm here all day.

Thursday Feb. 15th. I received three pretty valentines last night. One of them is a beauty. My fifth grade sent it. The wind has blown all day. Fletch Hammond and wife, Hannie, are here for conference. I received a letter from Nell today.

[Diary illegible. Conference begins Saturday, 17 February.]

[p.155]Monday February 19th. It is a relief conference this morning, but I am not going. I am down to the school house working now.

Tuesday Feb. 20th. We have held Institute this morning and will have another session this afternoon; my subject is “School Incentives.”

Wednesday, Feb. 21st. Last night I recited the “Ruggles.” This morning every one is going home; by night Bluff will be quiet as though we had never had a conference.

Thursday Feb. 22nd. Today is Washington’s birthday, we will hold school until 11:30 and then have a school program, then dismiss for the day. My grades are having examinations this week.

Friday Feb. 23rd. Examination in geography this morning. The wind is blowing terribly again today.

Saturday Feb. 24th. Today is Gennevieve, my sister’s, birthday. She is eleven years old. I have been examining papers all day. Some of the children passed very well indeed. Others did not. I received letters from mamma and Miss Kellogg today. The Young Ladies of our ward [in Provo] made $519.00 at the bazaar. There is some little expense attached to that. I don’t know how much yet. Bro. Booth sent me a roll of daily papers from home with different accounts of the bazaar in. I went up to see James Decker today. He has quinsy [sore throat]. I received a letter in regard to my 8th grade diplomas. I went over to Sister Redd’s after going to Deckers. Then I went home and wrote to Nora Young.

Monday Feb. 26th. Just eight more weeks of school. I am going to begin to teach history to the 5th and 6th grade today. I bought three more blankets today. They cost $4.00, $3.00, $7.50. That makes eleven I have bought.

Wednesday Feb. 28th. Tomorrow is the first of March. Spring will surely come for those who wait.

Thursday March 1st. I have a bouquet of cliff flowers on my desk; Eddie Nielson brought them last Monday. They have been in bloom on the cliffs for nearly a month. I am so fat, I weigh 158 pounds.

Monday March 5th. I have been ill all day but have taught school all day.

Tuesday March 6th. I have felt so sick all day today. I have received letters today from Farr and Sam Brown. Sam wants to get the school here if they would pay him enough.

[p.156]Friday March 9th. My children have not been very well prepared today. I am almost homesick today.

Sunday March 11th. Bro. Decker spoke to me about coming back to teach next year but I don’t think I will come, not for any less than I am teaching this year.

Friday March 16th. Only five more weeks of school. I am so anxious to go home.

Monday March 19th. I believe I have got the lagrippe [similar to influenza], I ache so. My children have tried to be so good today.

Tuesday March 20th. I received a letter from mama last night. A number of my children seem to have la grippe. Ten are absent today. I went to see some of them after school closed.

Wednesday March 21st. The children are still ailing.

Thursday March 29th. My eighth grade practiced their little play last night. I came to the rehearsal. My book, called the “Normal,”12 came today.

Saturday March 30th. I have made out my grammar examination questions today. Tonight I went to a rehearsal of the eighth grade. James Decker wants to resign his office as president of the class but I don’t think he will.

Sunday April 1st. I went to Sunday school this morning. After it was out, the whole school went up to see Bishop Nielson who has been very sick. Elder Ashton brought me a book to read called, “Helen’s Babies”; we read some of it, and it is quite funny.

Monday April 2nd. My 5th and 6th grades have been unprepared in everything this morning. It makes me so discouraged.

Friday April 6th. Just two more weeks of school. It is twenty years today since the people of Bluff came here, they are going to have a party tonight to celebrate it.

Thursday April 12th. I haven’t heard a word from the certificate yet.

Saturday April 13th. I mended the flag today, it was torn on Washington’s birthday. The girls have been decorating the hall today; it looks very nice.

[p.157]Sunday April 15th. I did not go to Sunday school this morning. I made out my reports.

Monday April 16th. I am having examination in geography and arithmetic today.

Tuesday April 17th. I am having examination in science and history today. I did not get the certificate today, but I got a card, so I think they will be here Thursday.

Wednesday April 18th. We decorated the hall last night. It looks very pretty. Bro. and Sister Jones came up last night and baled my Navajo blankets up for me. This morning I packed my books in my box. From all appearances, I will leave here Saturday.

Thursday April 19th. My certificates came last night. They are all O.K. My school is out now. Tomorrow is the picnic.

Friday April 20th. My graduating class had their exercises last night. They were splendid. Every body enjoyed them. Most people want me to come back next year, but I don’t expect to. I would rather teach at home a year. My school went for a picnic today. We went to Sand Island. Went in the buggy.

Saturday April 21st. I am very fired today. They had a dance last night. Bro. Redd took my box of books and my Navajo blankets to Monticello today; then he will send them on to Thompson on a load of wool. Hattie and I will go next week in the buggy.

Wednesday May 16th, 1900. I haven’t written any in my journal since my school closed in Bluff. After school was out I was so excited about coming home that I could do nothing else. Hattie and I left Bluff Wednesday morning. It had rained a great deal so the sandy roads were better than usual. We stayed at Verdure with Sister Adams that night. The next day we went over to Monticello. Hardy had to get the horses shod so we did not go any further that day. We stopped at sister Maggie Bailey’s while we were at Monticello. She was very nice to us. We saw Bro. Redd while we were here. Friday morning very early, we started for Kane Springs. Hardy drove us. We got there about sundown. We were treated kindly. Mrs. Foy gave us a bed. Saturday morning at 4 o’clock we started for Moab, arriving there at 10 o’clock. Bro. Redd needed the team so badly that we hired a rig to go to Thompsons Springs. We would have gone with the stage but it did not go until Monday. We hired a rig from Hammond & Co. for $9.00. We [p.158]got to Thompsons 10 o’clock at night. We arranged our baggage, had it checked, then tried to sleep on the benches in the station room. The agent was very kind to us. I suppose he knew we wanted to change our dresses so he went out while we did it.

We took the train at three o’clock in the morning. It stormed nearly all night. Toward morning it turned to snow.

We arrived at Provo at nine o’clock Sunday morning. It goes without saying that I was very glad to get home.

We had callers most of the day. Monday, Mrs. Knight and Jennie came up to see the Navajo blankets. They bought seven, paying me $71.25 for them. Bro. Amos Holdoway was buried on Monday. He had a leg amputated and died from the effects.

Tuesday the great explosion at Scofield took place.13 It killed many people, seven of them were from Provo. It was an awful thing. Saturday night we went to a play called the “Confidential Clerk.” It was gotten up by the elocution class at the B.Y. Academy. It was not worth much.

I have been cleaning house ever since I came home. Today May 16th, I have been teaching school for Mr. Rawlings. I have a prospectus for a book called the “Queen of Republics.” I am going to canvass for it. Aunt Amelia Coplan is here. She came on May the 4th. Hattie Redd went to Salt Lake last Saturday. She will stay a week or more.

Thursday May 17th. Nell has been up here today. I went up to May’s this afternoon to fix up Alumni invitations. I paid my alumni fee of one dollar ($1.00) today.



1. Susa Young Gates began publishing this journal for the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association of the LDS church in 1889; it continued publication until 1929 when it merged with the male version, the Improvement Era. From that time on the Improvement Era “represented both the young men’s and young women’s associations” (Arrington and Bitton, 269).

2. Mormons commonly went without two meals and donated what they would have eaten to the poor during fast meetings; the local bishop collected these food items in a storehouse. Fast meetings were one spoke in the Mormon welfare wheel.

3. During the early days of the church women were encouraged to speak in tongues and give blessings. By the 1940s, however, they had been “pushed back into the domestic sphere” (Jan Shipps, “Foreword,” in Sisters in Spirit, ed. Maureen Ursenbach Beecher and Lavina Fielding Anderson [Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987], ix, xii).

4. Assimilation for Native Americans was not always easy. Gulliford notes: “Because schools in southern Utah refused to admit Native Americans, the Episcopal Church established St. Chrisopher’s Mission in Bluff, Utah, to help the Navajo. The mission set up a small country school and tried to maintain two teachers because the pupils ranged in age from one to 85” (100-101).

5. The Redd family, fleeing anti-polygamy attacks, was one of the first to settle Bluff and participated in the Hole-in-the Rock adventure.

6. J. Golden Kimball was often called the “Will Rogers of Mormondom” (Arrington and Bitton, 330), best remembered for his colorful and sometimes slightly off-color anecdotes.

7. Home teachers visited families monthly to assist with spiritual and temporal needs (Arrington and Bitton, 295).

8. This may refer to the daughter-in-law of Eliza Maria Partridge Lyman, who was a teacher in Fillmore in 1868 but lived with her son Platt in Bluff in 1881. Eliza Lyman led an eventful life: she was sealed to Joseph Smith in 1843 and married Amasa Lyman later—as did her sister. Her husband was eventually excommunicated for his involvement in spiritualism. In 1879 she was a delegate to Anti-Anti-polygamist Ladies of Utah.

9. A story about a Norwegian princess, later translated into operatic form by Edward Steel.

10. Named after a village in Prussia, battenberg lace is used for curtains or dresses. Also called Renaissance lace, it is made by basting tape to heavy paper in a design of the maker’s choice. Then the tape is used to anchor various stitches sewn with a needle and thread. When the design is complete, the paper is cut away, leaving the lace, which is then joined to tablecloths, placemats, or clothing.

11. Written in 1885 by Kate Douglas Wiggin of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm fame, this story focuses on the life and death of an ethereal child, Carol Bird. Wiggin also was a teacher, setting up one of the first kindergartens in the United States in San Francisco.

12. A music book for singers (J. W. Suffern, 1872).

13. The Scofield disaster was an explosion in the Winter Quarters Mine (coal) that killed 200 people.