Saturday, December 25, 2010

History 101 - Calvin Buck Smedley

The following history is about my grandpa. I transcribed it from a Ditto copy that I believe was written by my grandmother even though it reads like he wrote it.

History of Calvin Buck Smedley
(Written by Grace Ellen Poulsen Smedley)

I was borned June 4, 1897 Paris, Idaho to Ida Buck and Thomas Joynes Smedley. My Father was a brick maker. He had come from England when a young man with his wife and settled in New Jersey, later he came to Paris, where his wife’s sister lived.  He raised a family of six children.  After they were all married and his wife had died he returned to England to do some family research work.

There he met my mother, she was around 28 years old, the oldest of ten children. My father was around 65 years when he married my mother. He came back to Paris to make brick and start another young family which was very hard at his age.  He worked hard and it seemed like so many people took advantage of him, he trusted people too much. At the time of his death, he still had a book of accounts that people had not paid for their brick. (never did) This made it very hard for my mother she struggled along the best she could, took in carpet weaving. There were six children myself, Lillian, Irva, Ella, Gertrude, and Arnold.

I was the oldest, when small my father would take me to the brick yard.  But I never did much there, never was interested in brick making.  When about 14 years of age, I started helping Heber Smedley my half brother, haying in the summer and feeding in the winter time.

My father was getting old, had a mortgage on the field, I had these five younger brothers and sisters.  Mother wove carpet, and I did not go to school like I should, as I worked to help with the family expense, stayed out too much and got discouraged. Father was not well for several years, he had a slight stroke, which changed him very much. About a year after I was married he died with pneumonia.

While growin up I worked at many different jobs. I had a team of horses, did some construction work. The summer before I was married, I worked at the mine, also did some logging.

In Oct 7, 1920 I married Grace Ellen Poulsen, Bishop Poulsen’s daughter from across the street. After about two months the mine closed down. So for a while, we never had much.  I milked four cows and this was our income for a few months. At this time, we moved home and lived in one room of my mother’s home. At this time we had one baby our oldest daughter Violet was about one year old.

Later we moved up the street and rented 2 rooms in the old Eborn home. We lived there a while, then we bought a little home log house on the corner, at present this is owned by Edna Law. Bur at that time there were just two rooms, this is where Cloree and Darrell were borned.  While living here I worked off and on at the mine for a few years, they did hire a few men, and I was one of them. I got hurt a few times, was gassed once, got my leg and arm hurt another time.

Later we got a chance to buy the house across the street next to Grace’s father. It was a little larger, this is where we lived for several years. James, Beverly, Garna, and Tom were borned while we lived here.

I still milked 3 or 4 cows, run the Smedley field.  After Grace’s father died, we bought his house and field from Aunt Lou. She bought a smaller house and we moved into hers, where we still live.
Calvin in front of the house that Grace's father built

When James was a few months old I took a job feeding cattle for J. Pugmire, this was during the depression years. That winter I fed cattle, for 40 dollars a month. Grace cooked for 3 or 4 men for our board. Some days I would go from 5 a.m. until mine or ten p.m. They fed some cattle in a feed lot, I would have to go up before breakfast, then again at night, besides I had cows to milk night and morning and haul hay the rest of the time. The children would walk two miles to Wardboro to school. Darrell started the first grade there. About ½ way was Camp Stewart, where th Humphrys lived. They had children too, so Sister Humphrys would have them come in and get warm on their way to school, which  made it good for the children. In some ways it was plenty hard but we got by. Grace had to wash on the board, we had the four children when we first went down. We were there back and forth until Beverly was about three years old. We were blessed with good health those years we were there.

After we moved back, we got more cows. Later when we got the Poulsen field I had about all I could do. Darrell was good to help until he joined the Navy for four years.

By this time James was able to help some. During the haying season I changed work with George Hulme and others to get our hay up. Started building up a good bunch of milk cows, horse, etc. and farming. Although I had to do it the hard way.

In 1969 we were called to go on a mission to the North Carolina Virginia Mission. Had been asked two years before, but felt like I could not go. I had been as active as I should have been when the children were growing up. Anyway I thought maybe I would not pass the physical as I had some heart trouble, but I passed alright. I have always been thankful that we went was a wonderful experience for us. We had many interesting things happen to us. Grace kept a diary, which will tell all about it.

A few years after our return, we sold the Poulsen field place to him (Darrell) and Beverly. As I just could not do the work. Darrell also bought the stock. The Buck lot we sold to Tom hoping he could come back someday and build a home. So now all we have is our home here in Paris I am not able to do much work.

On the 16th of November we were driving to Franklin, got a ways up the canyon, when I hit some black ice and the truck rolled over. Other than bruises, and all ahook up, I was okay. But Grace got a fractured leg, broken pelvis and is still in a wheel chair. In time she will walk.

At present time we are here in Buena Park, California with Garna and Douglas, they have done so much for us. Our whole family have been good to us. Hope it won’t be long before Grace can get around better.

We have also been guides in the summer time at the Tabernacle one day a week for the past twelve years.

Also in 1970, we had our golden wedding anniversary. The children gave us a party which was very nice. We are very thankful for our children, grandchildren, also great grand children. At present we have 16 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren including Deby’s.

The summer of 1928 had been a bad drought here in Bear Lake and very little hay was raised in the valley. The government had shipped in cottonseed cake to help feed the cattle the following winter.

That winter I went out to Proverty flat in the east hills to feed Pugmires cattle cottonseed cake and straw. This was the first winter I worked for them. I went out after Christmas, stayed a few weeks, then rode a horse in one night to go to a Relief Society party. I had decided unless I could take Grace back, I was not going to go back.

I made arrangements with her uncle George Price to bring her and the children with him, as he went out once a week to feed his horses, not too far from where I was. 

Violet was in the 1st grade so got mother to keep her. Cloree was around 4 years old, Darrell 17 months younger. The day he brought them out there was a bad blizzard after they left Paris but George had lots of quilts hot rocks in the slay. The horses seem to know the way, and they got there to his house and stayed over night. The next day he took them up to where I was feeding. Was a beautiful cold clear morning. We were there about 7 or 8 weeks, then trailed the cattle in to Wardboro. 

One night that winter it went to 50 degrees below zero, but we did have a good 2 room house, and coal to burn. We were blessed and kept well.

Leslie Ann


  1. Oh my, what a tough life your grandpa had, but very interesting stories :-)

  2. What a wonderful piece of family history. Amazing what the generations before us went through. We think it is bad if we don't have batteries or internet, but to work so hard all day for so little and to have your wife do carpet weaving (not easy) and cooking for men, my goodness. Reading these types of letters, papers, family reports always makes me look around and realize how blessed and "rich" we are.

    Thank you for transcribing and sharing with us.



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