Joseph Jonathan Cutler

Joseph Jonathan Cutler

Joseph Jonathan Cutler 1884-1950

Joseph Jonathan Cutler was the oldest of ten children.  When he was fourteen years old, his father Jonathan Corkins Cutler was called to serve in the Northern States mission.  This placed a great burden of responsibility on Joseph.  He was a great help to his mother at this time and missed many days of school while helping to care for the farm and the family.  He was a hard and fast worker whether chopping wood or pitching hay.  He went at every task as if there wasn’t another hour in left in the day to finish it.

He also learned the lesson of “making do.”  This would continue to manifest itself throughout his life as he would wear his clothes until they weren’t fit to wear.  He would rotate his suit coats from Sunday, to farm work, wearing them over his overalls until they wore out; a symbol of his childhood sacrifices to support his father on a mission.

He also developed strong leadership qualities.  These qualities continued to develop throughout his life as he served as bishop for twelve years and as a member of the high council of the old Curlew Stake for thirteen years.  At that time, bishops took care of cleaning the church, starting a fire in the stove to warm the building up, and other building maintenance tasks.

One morning Bishop Cutler was late getting over to the church to warm up the building, so he threw some coal oil in the furnace, lit it, and it exploded.  He was badly burned.  After he was bandaged and given a blessing, he used the experience to warn his children to never use coal oil to start a fire.  Remarkably, he healed without scars, a result of the priesthood blessing he was given.

Bishop Cutler loved to talk and visit with people.  So much so, that his children often grew tired of waiting for him after church.  He played catcher on the Snowville town baseball team which played every Saturday afternoon and competed with different towns.  He also used to build bonfires out in the road where all the neighbors would come and sit, roasting potatoes or pine nuts brought from Black Pine.  He truly loved people and would go out of his way to socialize with them and help them.  Many times his own work went neglected while he and his sons helped someone else.

Cutler Brothers - J J on far right

Cutler brothers (left to right) Lowell, Delmar, Newell, Bealy, Joseph

He was a farmer, initially homesteading in Snowville, Box Elder, Utah, with his brothers, and a mail carrier for most of his life.  He delivered the mail on horseback until acquiring a Model T Ford.

Physically, he was a thin short man, about 5’3″, with black hair and blue eyes.  His disposition was very calm and easy-going.  He very rarely got upset and when he did it was usually at his mules.  One of his children’s earliest memories of him is that he would get up early each morning to start the fires and get the house warm.  Then he would read aloud from the scriptures.  He loved to read aloud because he absorbed it more easily that way.  He also loved ice cream, which the family would make every Sunday night and clabber milk (milk left out more than 2 days) with sugar on it, which he ate every night with his supper.

He was married three times, first to Lucy Jane Stokes on November 30, 1904, in the Logan Temple.  They lived in two rooms at the south side of his parent’s home until their first child was born.  Then they moved to Snowville.  When Lucy died, leaving him with a young family to care for, he married Martha Jane Harmon from Idaho Falls, Idaho, on December 5, 1928 in the Salt Lake Temple.  She worked very hard to take care of all the children from his first marriage as well as raising three boys of her own.  She died May 6, 1945, after which Joseph married Eleanor Stoker from Malad, Idaho on July 30, 1945.

Joseph died September 18, 1950 in Snowville of a heart attack.  He had gone out to feed the chickens some grain when he felt ill and returned to the house.  He told Eleanor that he didn’t feel well and went to bed.  By the time help came he had passed away.

Cutler Family Activities

dear-old-family-bibleThe Cutler family spent a lot of evenings at home that they called family home evenings, a practice the Mormon church would later recommend to its members.  Joseph Jonathan Cutler would read Bible stories to his family out of the big family Bible.  He would read and read as long as the children kept prompting him for just one more story, which prolonged their bedtime.  Years later, his children recall with fondness and clarity the stories he shared as well as the sound of his resonant voice. He would also lead them in family prayer both in the morning and at night.

The family also spent many nights gathered around their mother Lucy’s pump organ, with everyone having a turn to play.  Young  Cleo would have to stand on the pedals in order to play, pumping her feet the whole time.  After Lucy’s death, the family traded it for a player piano on the advice of a cousin who only knew how to play the piano and didn’t appreciate the value of the organ.

There were also many father and son outings and mother-daughter outings.  And, if the family couldn’t think of anything else to do, they would take their beds up to the reservoir and sleep out all night, arguing over who would sleep with their father.  They loved to fish, catching mostly suckers.  Suckers were not good eating fish because of all the bones, but they ate them all the same.

The Cutler family loved to go to the fairs too.  Peach Days in Brigham City, the fair in Tremonton, and carnivals where it only cost a nickel to ride everything. Cleo especially loved the Ferris wheel but hated the merry-go-round because she would inevitably end up  sick.  They had a lot of fun times.  One year, Cleo and Wanda, her sister, planned to go to a Valentine’s Dance.  Their brother Doyle’s wife Amanda made dresses for them out of crepe paper and old sheets.  Feeling like queens, they went to the dance and had a wonderful time.

Every Sunday and sometimes during the week, the family would make ice cream in the big ice cream freezer from the ice that was packed in sawdust in the ice house at Grandpa Cutler’s place.  Sunday nights were also a gathering time for family and friends with singing and talking.  There was always plenty to do.