Birth & Childhood Pt. 2 – Cleone Cutler


Joseph J. Cutler family.  Parents in back, children from left to right are: Norm, James, Cleo, and Wanda.

Cleo did more work outside with her father and brothers than she did inside the house, mainly because her father needed the help.  The work was hard on the children physically, and sometimes they would lay down in the furrows and sleep.  One day, since their father wasn’t home, they quit work early to go to a ballgame. Just as they had taken the harness off the horses and were ready to leave, their father came home.  When he found out they had not finished the rounds, he made them hook the horses back up and finish the job.

Another time, Cleo and her father were driving home after spending the day cutting grain.  As they came to the creek they noticed a group of boys jumping off the bank, swimming without their clothes on.  Her father jumped down off the wagon, went down the bank to where the boys were and yelled at them to put their clothes on.  Then with a stern bishop’s warning to never let the girls look at them that way again, he drove on home.


Lucy Cutler with three of her children: Cleo, James, and Wanda (left to right)

The Cutler family had milk cows, chickens, and horses to do the farm work with.  They also kept a few pigs for their own use, killing them as needed for food  They would hang the meat in the granary during the winter, freezing it.  Eggs had to be sold to buy sugar and other necessities they could not produce themselves.  Cleo’s mother bottled fruit and other produce from their garden.  The family had two cellars, a cement one for food and another for root vegetables like potatoes and carrots.

Snowville was a beautiful place with big poplar trees, green grass everywhere and lots of water.  Beautiful, but not very big.  There wasn’t a lot of money in Snowville; most of the people farmed their own land or raised milk cows.  The two main farm crops were wheat and rye and the farmers did all their work with horses; plowing, drilling, and harvesting.  There was a creek west of town, just off through the fields, close enough for the children to walk to.  They would go fishing for crawdads or suckers.  And when they were really feeling brave, they would swim in it.  Cleo once cut her foot on a piece of glass in the creek.  The kids took her home and in the time it took for it to heal, they decided it was easier to swim in the muddy irrigation ditch.


Birth & Childhood – Cleone Cutler


Baby Cleo with her mother Lucy Jane.

Cleone Cutler was born October 9, 1917 to Joseph Jonathan Cutler and Lucy Jane Stokes.  The eighth child in a family of eleven. She was born in a three-room farmhouse on the family dry farm located between Tremonton and Snowville in Box Elder county Utah.  This farm produced grain and was dependent on the rain a it had no source for irrigation – hence the name, dry farm. The farmhouse had two bedrooms and a big kitchen.  She lived in this house until she was almost six years old.

As a child she would go with her mother to a spring about a mile away to help carry the buckets of water back up the hill to the house where they lived.  Grandpa Jonathan Corkins Cutler lived near the spring and owned a herd of big red razorback pigs that were penned nearby.  They were mean pigs and would grunt at Cleo and her mother, scaring the little girl very badly.  She didn’t like to go there, yet she did not want her mother to go alone either.  Normally the water from the spring was tapped up to the house, but when the spring got too low it couldn’t make it through the system.

Just before Cleo turned six her father bought another farm called the Torgason place, located near the Snowville school.  It was August or September of 1923, the year that she would start school and she was so excited to help her mother clean house and get it ready to move into.  Her mother, sensing Cleo’s eagerness to help, yet knowing the limitations of her young age, asked her to clean behind the stove.  This was very hard for Cleo to understand.  She felt that more responsible tasks were in order.  This new home seemed like a palace because the family did not have to carry water anymore.

Birth & Childhood – Boyd Fergus


Boyd Fergus with his father William Maughan.

William Boyd Fergus was born March 18, 1911 in Garland, Box Elder, Utah.  His parents were William Maughan Fergus and Martha Elizabeth Peterson.  He was their first child.  From his own life history, he writes, “I had a normal birth.  I was named after my father and one of his best friends.”  He was later blessed on June 1, 1911.

Oddly enough, his mother always celebrated his birthday on March 20th.  It was not until the age of 65, when he sent for a copy of his birth certificate, that he found out his recorded birth date was March 18th.  Despite this unexpected bit of information, he continued to believe that his mother had known for sure what date he was born on.

Martha Fergus and Lucy Jane Cutler were close friends and neighbors, living about a half mile apart at the time of Cleone Cutler’s birth (Boyd’s future wife).  Martha took her children, including Boyd, down to see new baby Cleo when she was only a week old.  Match-making?  Perhaps.  It made a great story for later years when grandchildren would ask when Grandpa and Grandpa first met and fell in love.

The Fergus family lived about twenty miles from grandpa Anton Levi Peterson’s place in the Snowville, Utah area.  Boyd remembers riding in a shiny, black one horse buggy with his mother back and forth to his grandparent’s house.  Once on the way home, a man on a motorcycle frightened the horse into running away with them.  Martha said a prayer and finally got the horse stopped.  She told Boyd that she knew the Lord would help them.  He was small, but the lesson of faith was learned and always remembered.

Boyd’s mother was a self-sufficient woman who taught her children to work hard and accomplish much.  Whenever Boyd was not needed outside for chores, he helped his mother indoors.  The washer had a handle on it that needed to be pushed back and forth in order to wash the clothes.  Boyd’s job was to push the handle.  He also helped to carry and heat the wash water in a boiler on the stove.  Wash day was also bread baking day in order to conserve the oven’s heat.  Boyd also helped his mother milk the cows daily.

Boyd’s father despite his college education and stable upbringing could not settle down to any one job for a given amount of time.  As Boyd later described, “the pasture was always greener somewhere else for my father.” He kept the family moving around a great deal.  Many times the children would come home from school to find the wagon loaded and ready to move. It was this transitory upbringing that influenced Boyd in his adult life.  He wanted a place with a home for his family to settle and stay, so each farm job he accepted needed to meet that requirement.

Boyd learned how to work horses early on and loved to drive them.  He helped plow, seed, and harvest crops.  He liked to run the header, a machine that cut and thrashed grain.  He also helped haul coal for the church and school, from the railhead 30 miles away in Promontory, Utah.  It was very tiring work for the horses and they had to take it slow.  Hogs also needed to be driven to the railhead in Promontory and Boyd helped with this many times.  This was typically done on foot with many stops for water, which they hauled along with them in tanks.