Earnest Alva Fowlke

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Life History of Earnest Alva Fowlke

As told by him in person to Lola Hacking Fowlke  (Jan. 4, 1952 & Jan. 12, 1956)


Earnest Alva's Parents

Earnest's Grandfather, John Fowlke and Grandmother, Harriet Rainer came from Nottingham, England and brought Louise, Frederick, Clara and Sara with them.  Two other sons, who were engineers, remained in England and refused to have anything to do with their Father after he joined the church.  They were strong men.  One of them whipped the champ of England in a fight in a public house (saloon).

Earnest's grandparents crossed the ocean, from England to the United States.   They came to Utah with the Horace S. Eldredge Company September 17, 1861.  They made their home in Pleasant Grove (now Lindon).  They lived in an adobe house, (just behind (west) and a little north of the brick home built by Earnest Alva.  Earnest filled up their old well, which was only a few feet behind his house, when he built his home).  John and his wife Harriet were buried in Pleasant Grove.  He may have had two wives.    

While still in Nottingham, England, Earnest's father, Frederick went to work at "his house of business" before daylight and returned after dark.  He and Elizabeth were both from the "city" and not prepared for the hardships which lay before them!  Elizabeth Cook, Earnest's mother told about how it took them six weeks to cross the ocean because sometimes, when the wind wouldn't blow, they would drift backwards.  They also knew nothing about caring for and driving oxen, and the rigors of crossing the plains.

Frederick drove an oxen team across the plains then was sent on a mission to return east and help bring another group of saints across the plains (that was three trips across the plains).  It was on his second trip across when he met Elizabeth.  He told of their crossing the rivers by holding on to the oxen on the upstream side.  Sometimes they would be swept by the current one to one-half miles further downstream than they had anticipated.  He said the only thing he ever lost was a buckskin string out of his back pocket.

Because of the threat of Indians, it was necessary to herd the cattle at night.  The men in the company would take turns doing this, two at a time.  The Indians would come about two or three o'clock in the morning and "whoop it up" to stampede the cattle.  The men on guard would fire shots to wake up the company.  Frederick said it would chill him to the bone and curdle his blood to hear the War Whoops!  

Large herds of Buffalo were encountered along the way and at times it was necessary to cut the train of wagons in two, allowing these herds to pass without stampeding the oxen.

When they reached Utah they were married in the Salt Lake Endowment house and made their new home in Pleasant Grove.  Because of the threat of Indians, they first lived in the Rock Fort (Ash Cabins) in Pleasant Grove.  When the men went to look for wood, they would always go in groups.  They were frightened because the  Indians had killed a man near Lehi and brought his head on a pole to Dry Canyon (east of Lindon), where they held a "War Dance".

Frederick said that when they first came to Lindon, the Provo River reached from cliff to cliff, at the mouth of the canyon.

The crossing, from England to the United States and from the east coast to Utah, had taken all the money and resources they had.  By the time they arrived in Utah they had little left!

The Fowlke's lived the "United Order".  When the twins were babies, Frederick went to the men in charge and asked for sugar to put in the tea and bread they were feeding the sick babies.  The men refused to give him any, so he quit "The United Order".  The word soon got around, and the leaders made sure he got some sugar!  When a "beef" was killed the choice steaks went to "certain parties" and Frederick got the worst "bell" steaks off the neck!  They seemed to have difficulty getting food!  Often they went to Keetch's Hollow to dig sego lilly bulbs to eat because they were so hungry!  They endured many hardships but Frederick and Elizabeth never complained!  They had come for their God and their religion and that's all that counted!  They weren't the only one's that were hungry, Earnest remembers when he was a little child the Indians coming to his Father's house begging for food!

Frederick was a carpenter by trade.  He helped build the Provo Tabernacle, which was in his stake.  Later, after his stake was divided, he helped build a new stake building, the American Fork Stake Building.

Frederick was also a farmer.  He had acquired ten acres, where he built his house; and five more acres in the basin.  He farmed all of this property.

Earnest's Youth

Earnest A. used to love to go on trips with his parents.  They traveled to Fort Herriman, Taylorsville and Salt Lake City to LDS General Conference, always traveling in style, since they had one of the first surreys to come to Utah.  One day after Conference he ran away from his mother, so she had a Police Officer get him.  Later that day when they went to his Aunt Mary Cook and Uncle William's in Taylorsville he was chased into their house by a giant turkey gobbler who didn't like his red hat!  He had quite a day! 

Ernest had to go all the way to Provo, with his parents, to get their pictures taken.  On the way there he saw his neighbor Billy Grant plowing up the sage brush to clear his land.  (Earnest said that Billy became a rich "Sheep King" and lost everything he had during the Depression when the price of wool dropped)!

When Earnest was about sixteen years old, he took bushels of potatoes to Salt Lake City to sell.  He took his father's new Shetler wagon, and his team of horses.  He made ten to fifteen cents a bushel and had about fifty bushels in his wagon.  That was about $5.00-$7.50.  Those were the days when State Street in Salt Lake City was made of stones and covered with hitching posts and watering troughs!  He always watered his horses in front of the City and County Building.  He always went alone, went to shows in the evening, and then spent the night in the livery stables.  He had his own bedding which he put on the hay for his bed.

When Earnest was just a kid he earned thirty cents a day working for the neighbors, thinning beets.  Finally, he worked up to fifty cents a day.  (That was about $4.00 per acre).

Earnest Alva later left home to work herding sheep for William Kirk and three other Kirk boys who were cousins.  They had their sheep in Rush Valley.  He herded for fifteen dollars a month.  He thought that was tops!  He bought a sheep for $1.50, kept it for a while then later sold it to Lish Bowlely, a butcher, for $2.50!  He made a $1.00 profit.  He was ready to go into business! 

Earnest worked several times for three brothers, Jim, Sam and Walley Kirk, herding sheep.  Each time he went back to work for them, they would raise his wages by $10.00 a month until he got up to $40.00 a month!  That was as much as school teachers received at that time!  (They paid him, for his time, from the time he left his home until the time he returned).  He liked them, especially "Big Will Kirk" who would say, "Earn, you get in bed.  I'll take your turn tonight".

"Earn" was the only sheep herder Will Kirk would allow to go to the store for mince meat and other supplies.  Earn "could cook them up better than Will's own mother!'  While he cooked, he rendered out mutton fat so Will could take it home for his wife to make soap with.

Earnest was always on the job taking good care of the equipment.  He made sure the horses didn't chew up the blankets and that the dogs didn't tear up any sheep pelts.  When the horses came into camp he made sure that the snow was melted so they could drink.  In the morning, he would slip out and put on the horses' nose bags so they would be finished eating by the time Will needed them.  No road was too long, or hill too high for him to walk up and see if there were any stray sheep.  It was because he was so diligent in taking care of Will's interests that Will was so good to him!

Earnest trailed sheep from their winter range:  which was as far west as Fish Springs, into the shearing pens or corrals west of Fairfield; to their summer range:  in Provo Canyon, then up to the south fork of Daniels Canyon to "lamb"

Courtship and Marriage

When Earnest Alva was young man, he took a load of peaches up to sell in Charleston.  That is when he was introduced to a young woman by the name of Esther Mariah Hanks, "Etta" for short.  He must have liked her because he later decided to go back up to Charleston and take her to a dance in Midway!  He took his friend, Tom Spears, his father's fine buggy, a bay team of horses, a new double harness and a double set of rings.  It was the best buggy in town! 

While Earnest and Etta were dancing the night away, someone stole the new rings of harnesses and the rawhide buggy whip!

Earnest courted Etta in Charleston for two or three years.  Sometimes, in the winter he would go up on the train to see her.  Once, while on the train, another young lady tried to get him to take her to the dance.  (Earnest said, she was "plenty tricky")!  Earnest had to hire an "outfit" from the livery stable to pick Etta up in Daniels Canyon, where she was helping her brother Corey sell sandwiches and coffee to the travelers and sheep herders going through the canyon.  He brought her down to Heber to the dance and he stayed at the hotel that night. 

Their relationship grew and they decided to get married!  In the meantime, Etta had moved to Lone Tree Wyoming, fifty miles from Carter on Horace Hyde's Sheep Ranch, with her family. Earnest busily made many preparations for marriage.  He saved $300.00 from his wages of $40.00 a month.  He cured a pig, he obtained 500 pounds of flour, and his sisters canned fruit for him.  He put it in the corner of the room.  He said, "He never did get the other corners filled". He bought a new suit and wore it when he went to Wyoming to get Etta.  He said, He looked so sharp his neighbors didn't recognize him"!

Earnest went by train from Salt Lake City to Ogden to Carter Wyoming.  He arrived in the middle of the night to a very chilly station which was a contrast from Utah's hot July weather.  He waited there until morning and went with the mail carrier into the little town.  On the way, they crossed an old road which was part of the "Mormon Trail". 

When they arrived in town, the post man picked up the "Hanks mail" and in the group of letters was the one telling the Hanks Family of Earnest's arrival.  He had arrived before his letter!  He was al dressed up in his suit and everyone else in the small town was playing baseball.  He said he might as well have gone in overalls.  Earnest asked around town if someone could drive him the other forty miles to the ranch?  He was shown some large man with a large white hat and windjammer.  That man said he would do it for $8.00 (more than he had made all year) and that they would go "the short route".  He promised to get them there that night, (this was in the afternoon).  So they got into the buckboard and took off over the hills.

The men soon came to a place in the trail where they needed to cross the river.  The river was so high that the small saddle horses had to swim across it.  The water came into the buggy up to the seat that Earnest was sitting on and he had to hold his legs and suitcase up to prevent them from getting wet.  After they had crossed the river the man turned to Earnest and said "Last week there was a man drowned here"!--I guess it was a little scary.                 

Following a cow trail, over small and round hills, they finally arrived at the ranch about seven or eight o'clock; just as the sun was going down.  Etta's folks were rather surprised to see Earnest, his driver and the buck board!  The driver stayed all night and Earnest stayed for two days while Etta packed her belongings.   

Thank goodness, Etta's brother, Ave, drove the pair to another train station and hotel on a different trail.  It was higher on the river so the crossing was much easier!  The train to Ogden stopped near the hotel, in the middle of the night, and they boarded it.  They arrived in Ogden at dawn and changed trains to head for Salt Lake City.  They arrived there at about ten in the morning, went to a hotel, had breakfast, rested and got ready to get married.  In the afternoon of 3 July 1907, they were married in the City and County Building "for keeps"!  (Sixteen years later they were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple, on  7 March 1923)!   After their marriage they went to Pleasant Grove, where Earnest's brother, Fred met them and took them to his house.                                                                                                        

Earnest and Etta stayed with the Fowlke Family until they had time to buy furniture and rent a house.  They rented from Alf Harper.  This is where the excitement of having a first child took place.  Lucille Fowlke was born, 13 May 1908.  She was a beautiful baby girl.  When she was still very small she became sick; having convulsions.  Etta had to wrap her up and run her over to Grandma Fowlke's house for help.  Grandma called the doctor and helped Etta with Lucille.  Earnest wanted to buy Lucille something better and different than any other child possessed.  He walked all over Salt Lake to find a special present.  He bought her some little velvet shoes with velvet tassels, and a cute little teddy bear outfit! 

After living at the Harpers they moved to Will Greenwoods where Ernest worked for day wages.  He worked from eight in the morning to six in the evening for $1.50 a day.  He also planted orchards for Jim Kirk.  He did this until his mother died and his family wanted him to live with them in the two front rooms of the family home.  Rene, Rose, (twins), Nettie and Fred were there at that time. 

While living at the family home on State Street in Lindon, Ernest built a new, beautiful brick home for his family just a little ways down the street.  They paid for it as they went.  It was lovely with a big front porch to sit on and look up at the mountains, a sidewalk in front and big poplar trees. It had plenty of room for his family.  Ernest remembered that he got his new saw stolen when the power company cut down those trees.  The men cutting the trees let them fall all over the place and broke the pickets on his prized fence.  He cut up the felled trees with his saw and let the neighbors have it for firewood.  Sadly, one of them stole it from his house.

Earnest and Etta were blessed with two more little girls, Flora on 25 January 1910, and Eunice Mae on 21 November 1911.  The little girls had quite a scary experience riding in their Uncle Fred's buggy coming home from a funeral one day.  One of the beef steers broke one of the shaves off and frightened their horse!  The horse broke part of the buggy and Fred got the little girls out just before he ran down the street, dragging the shaves!  Etta was pregnant with LeGrand, but still ran out to "head" the horse off. After the horse fell down in a pile of beet pulp Earnest caught the horse and held its head down until some of the blacksmith's men from across the street could come and help.  They unhooked the shaves from the pawing, struggling horse and he jumped up!

Earnest loved his little girls and used to ride a horse to Sunday school pulling them on a small sleigh with a long rope behind him.  He was always very careful not to let the horse throw snow on them with his feet!

After the three girls, Earnest was blessed with a little son who he named, "Ernest LeGrand".  When it was time for LeGrand's birth, Earnest rode his horse to town to get the obstetrician, but he was at Geneva Resort fishing.  The employees put a red flag out so the doctor would come off the lake.  The doctor saw it and was at the Fowlke home in seventeen minutes.  Earnest said "It took one to say here he comes and another to say there he goes", he was driving his red car so fast!  After LeGrand's birth the doctor held him up by his heels and said. "That is the most perfect baby I have ever brought into the world".  Earnest was so proud of his first son!

The winter of 1916-1917 was the winter that Mildred was born on the 21st of February.  It was very cold and snowy!  Earnest had to make eleven trips to Bingham on a bob sleigh to sell produce.  He and Roy Greenwood would leave American Fork at three in the morning, with two teams of horses on the sleigh and arrive in Bingham at eleven PM!  They tipped over three times!  The food was packed up to the bows and was tied on.  Earnest had to take the leader horses off to make a trail for the runners of the sleigh. The drifts were so high there were no roads to be seen--the only thing you could see were the fence posts sticking out of the fields!

The people in Bingham were snowed in and begged Earnest for his food.  They asked, "Could you let us have a case of eggs or a box of apples"?  (The train couldn't even make it through the snowy conditions).  The point of the mountain was so bitter cold, the roads were so bumpy with snow drifts, and the wind was blowing so badly that Earnest thought he was going to freeze to death!   Fortunately he was dressed with warm silk and woolen underware, leggings, boots, bear hide gloves, and woolen mittens, under his bear skin gloves."

On one trip Earnest came upon a man stuck in the snow who begged him not to leave him there to die.  So as soon as his team had pulled ahead enough to avoid getting stuck he unhitched the team and returned to help the man.  He took him on further to a service station where they got warm.  The man reached into his purse with cold fingers to take out some money.  He asked how much he owed him.   Earnest said, "Nothing, but the next time you see someone in trouble help them out and that will repay me."  The man said he always did!

The spring was not a fun time for the horses either!  When the snow started to melt and the crust broke, the horses were up to their bellies in snow and floundered.  Earnest had to take their harnesses apart so the horses could get loose.

The summer was a much better time and sometimes on his way home from Bingham, Earnest would stop, just before he reached Bingham, on top of a hill and gather mushrooms. This spot was an old sheep-bedding ground. It was a nice place; sheltered from the wind; a good place for sheep.  It was especially prolific with mushrooms after a heavy rain in the fall of the year!  Earnest would fill his feed bags full of mushrooms for his family to enjoy!

In 1918 the flu epidemic hit Lindon!  Earnest had been in Bingham and didn't know that his family had been infected.  He came home one Saturday night. Etta put her head out the back door and told him not to come in because they had the flu!  Earnest told her that as soon as he took the harnesses off the horses he was coming in!  He put the horses away for the night and came into the house.  Dr. Gruea had been there, prescribed medicine and gave instructions to the family.   Everyone except LeGrand was in bed as sick as could be!  The next morning Earnest paid Mrs. Harris $1.00 a day to take care of everyone during the day and he took care of everyone at night.  Every day he would chart their temperatures and give them their medicine-no faces allowed!  Mildred would cry out like "an old setten hen".  Flora started with pneumonia and Earnest put "mustard plasters" on her faithfully!  (He didn't tell Etta how sick Flora was).  Dr Gruea came every morning and went over the charts with him.  He told him the mustard plasters were the right thing for Flora.  He made the plasters one part flour to four parts powdered mustard for the children.  The adults he made one part flour to six parts mustard.  He and Mrs. Harris made all the meals and he slept in the day. 

One day Earnest and LeGrand were taking water over to their beautiful new $150 cow when LeGrand said, "Daddy I'm getting dizzy in the legs".  Earnest picked him up and packed him across the road.  He washed him and put him in his little bed and started to give him his medicine.  It wasn't long before he was delirious and talking about the spiders going up the wall! 

Thankfully, after about a week, they all started getting better!  Mrs. Harris stayed with them until they were all well.  Earnest never "took the flu" then, but a year later he came down suddenly while milking the cow!  He was really sick!

Dr. Gruea was one of the lucky doctors in the state, he lost only two patients.   One was an Ellsmore and the other a Chipman.  One got out of bed too much and the other was under a drafty window and got pneumonia.

Earnest completed his large family of nine children with one more son, Durmont H born on 1 September 1919, and three more daughters, Winiferd Hattie, born on 16 Feb 1922; Lois Elaine, born 12 Nov 1924; and Ola Jeneal, born on 24 Sept 1927.  He and Etta worked hard to keep their children clothed, fed, and educated!  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was very important to them and they tried very hard to keep the principles!

The Depression

Times were very hard during the depression; money and jobs were very scarce!  During this time the road in front of Robert Wrights was being graveled, men were needed for the job.  Earnest went to Provo to apply for the job.  At the employment office there were thirteen men doing very little, some lounging around with their feet up on their desks.  Earnest asked for work but they said that unless he had been on relief the government had given them orders not to hire.  He said he and his family had worked hard to keep things going for their family.  He was sent to two other agencies to apply for work, but with the same results.  Unless he was on relief they would not hire him.  By the time he had been told this three times he really let them know how he felt!  A lawyer whom he did not know, had never seen, put his arm around him and said "Thank God we still have an American left".  Needless to say, Earnest never got the job.

Earnest had mortgaged his home to purchase a 20 acre piece of very fertile property located east and south of his home.  He rented it the first year and made $200 on it but when the depression hit and crops sold at such a ridiculously low price he couldn't make any profit on them and his family lost their home!  It was taken by the Federal Land Bank of Berkley, California in 1936 or 1937.  It was devastating to say the least!

*LeGrand and H helped Earnest build a basement home on State Street and 1200 North in Orem.  It wasn't as nice or as big as his brick home in Lindon but it was clean, cozy, comfortable; cool in the summer; warm in the winter.  It had a beautiful view of Mt.Timpanogus, a cool canyon breeze, acreage with a beautiful cherry, plum, and apricot orchard; fields of alfalfa, potatoes, hay and other crops; and he had his family and his church!  He lived here in beautiful Utah Valley until his passing.

*During the year of 1958 Earnest became very ill.  The immediate members of the family were called home.  All feared it was the end!  Lucille, a registered nurse, tried to find a pulse and couldn't.  Legrand and his brother-in-law, Richard Larson administered to him at his whispered request.  His response was immediate and within one-half hour he was sitting out of bed.  It seemed like a miracle!  Legrands' Patriarchal Blessing promised that he would have the power to heal the sick and it was certainly manifest that day!

*Earnest died 28th of June 1959, leaving a wonderful, large posterity and a legacy of dedication and service.

*Added by the typist, Earnest's granddaughter Keren Fowlke Morton Sept-2006.

P.S.    *I, Keren Fowlke Morton, remember when my Grandfather died, he stayed in our living room the night before his funeral.  It was a little scary for an eight year-old but there was a peaceful feeling like he was being watched over by angels. 

*There are several things I remember about Grandpa Fowlke (Earnest).  One is he would take us on his knee and we would listen to the ticking of his pocket watch.  Second, whenever he would take the water turn, on our lawn, he would lovingly chase me and splash water on me with his shovel.  I also remember him putting the grandchildren on his huge draft horse for a ride.  He was a good, loyal, honest, gentle, loving man!  We love him and miss him very much!    

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