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.

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.


William and Martha Fergus

William Maughan Fergus & Martha Elizabeth Peterson

married 11 April, 1910 in Logan, Cache, Utah

Wedding Day - 1910

Wedding Day – 1910

Martha Peterson and William Fergus met at a dance in Snowville, Box Elder, Utah.  William and his brother were homesteading in Holbrook, Idaho, at the time.  He was a pretty fancy fellow, a college graduate, and a good dancer, so naturally he attracted attention.  In this case, it was the attention of young Martha and her bishop.  Martha’s bishop warned her not to go steady with a “northern” boy, but Martha was bound and determined.  Holbrook, Idaho was north of Snowville, yet still in Curlew Stake.  William and Martha married on April 11, 1910, and continued to dance together for the rest of their lives, often winning prizes for their skill.

William Maughan Fergus

William Maughan Fergus

19 November 1879 – 21 November 1939

Willie - William Maughan Fergus Davidson - as an infant.

Willie – William Maughan Fergus Davidson – as an infant.

William Maughan Fergus was a very dapper man with two gold front teeth, the result of an accident with a mule.  He graduated from the Utah Agricultural College at Logan, Utah, in the field of veterinary medicine.  He was a good veterinarian but rarely practiced the profession.  He was also a great lover of horses.  Everyone always admired his horses; the way he cared for them and handled them.  One of Boyd’s earliest memories was of a team of white horses, owned by his father, that were always borrowed to pull the hearse in funeral processions.  Before taking the team out in public, William Maughan would scrub them with soap and water until they shined.

William Maughan loved change.  He tried many different jobs throughout his life, even working as a logger and sawmill man in the Pacific Northwest as a young man.  His stories and experiences made a big impression on Boyd, his firstborn son.  An impression that would later influence Boyd’s decision to move his own family to Oregon in the late 1930s.

Grandma Peterson’s Death

July 1, 1952

In the summer of 1952, Boyd’s mother Martha died.  The sad news came during milking time at the Couche Place and the loss was felt deeply, for Boyd had lost another parent, Cleo had lost another mother and the little children had lost the only grandmother they had ever known.  Grandma Peterson, as she was called, had lived with or near the little Fergus family for most of the children’s lives.  She even vacationed with them at the beach many times.  She was a very hard worker, responsible, and dependable; the one stable part of Boyd’s childhood.  The children particularly, remembered the times she would let her hair down and have fun with them wading in the surf at the beach.  It was a sad adjustment for the whole family.


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