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.



In Snowville, Utah during the 1930s it didn’t take much money to have a good time with friends.  Cleo and her girlfriends would usually take walks, and then when they got tired, they’d go home, eat deviled ham sandwiches with cocoa, and play Rook.  A loaf of bread and a can of deviled ham were only a nickel each.  They also loved to ride horses up into the nearby woods that they called The Cedars.  They would ride, talk and sometimes race their horses.  Cleo had an old horse named Tony that could never be beat.  Going to dances, school functions, church and so on were all excuses to be with friends.  Cleo’s brother taught her to dance and would escort her.  He would tell her, “Sister, when you’re dancing hold yourself up straight and dance nice.  It looks lots more graceful that way.”


Love at First Sight?

valentine-1930sBoyd Fergus and Cleone Cutler fell in love at a dance in Stone, Idaho, on New Year’s Eve in 1935.  Boyd was 23 and Cleo was 17 years old.  Cleo noticed a friend dancing with a really handsome fellow named Boyd Fergus.  She definitely knew who he was, but he didn’t pay any attention to her so she coaxed her friend into introducing them.  Cleo liked him right from the start and they danced and danced for the rest of the evening.  He offered to bring her home, but she had come to the dance with one of his cousins and didn’t feel right about ditching him.  They arranged to meet the next night however, at a dance and chili feed in Snowville, Utah.  Their favorite tune that night was The Waltz You Saved For Me.  Whenever that waltz was played, no matter who they were with, Boyd would come for her and they would dance together.

Click here to listen to a version of the song: The Waltz You Saved For Me

Between the two of them, they were related to most of the people in the Snowville, so they had a wonderful time talking with friends, dancing, and eating chili.  When they finally arrived home late that night, he kissed her.  The tender moment was interrupted by Cleo’s father who stepped out on the porch and said, “Sister, it’s late enough.” Cleo quickly got out of the car.  Boyd swept her off her feet and carried her across the bridge and ditch.  Then he told her, “I’ll see you tomorrow.”  From then on, Cleo could think of nothing else; she was in love.  Everyday after that, Boyd and Cleo found an excuse to be together, whether it was walking around town and talking, or just being with friends. The couple got engaged February 15, 1935.

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.

Mobile Home

049012096 (2)


13550 NE Roedel Rd., Newberg, Yamhill, Oregon

In 1978, Boyd decided to retire.  Mr. Patton had always told the Fergus’ that they didn’t need to worry about their retirement because it was taken care of.  Unfortunately, all he meant was that Social Security would be available.  It was very hard for Boyd and Cleo to accept this after all the time they spent working for him.

One day, on the way to Salem, Oregon, they saw a beautiful mobile home for sale, sitting out in a yard.  They bought it for $6000.  Their daughter Dorothy offered to let them site the trailer by her home and a special variance was obtained from the county.  After moving from the big house on the Patton farm, they felt a little discouraged because their new home was so much smaller, but they did look forward to more relaxing days with no farm chores.

Retirement turned out to be filled with ups and downs.  Boyd suffered with chest pains a great deal of the time, but he also had the time to relax, go along on fishing and hunting trips, and work-related trips with his boys.  He occasionally rode along with Monty on appliance repair visits and worked on several remodeling jobs with his son Gary.

Boyd always enjoyed a new car.  He didn’t usually buy himself a lot of things, but every five years or so he would splurge on a new car, typically a Chevrolet.  The Chevrolet dealer was a good friend of Boyd’s so he felt like he got a good deal.  Boyd also liked to have a nice suit and hat even though he didn’t dress up a lot.

049012095 (2)Boyd and Cleo enjoyed visiting the Seattle Temple more often and taking trips together.  Many of the trips were just short visits to the Oregon Coast.  They also visited family in Utah, and went to Yellowstone National Park together.  It was while on this trip that Cleo jumped out of the car to take a picture of a bear, causing Boyd great anxiety.  She quickly jumped back in though, when the bear started towards her.

After Boyd’s death in 1983, Cleo continued to live in the mobile home next to her daughter Dorothy.


Mobile Home

The property is now owned by Eloheh Farm, a sustainable, organic teaching farm.  2016.

Strawberry Place

Strawberry Place - 2015

11905 Dudley Rd. Newberg, Yamhill, Oregon

While living at the Patton place, Boyd and Cleo decided to invest in some property relatively close by.  They had always wanted a piece of property of their own; a place to go when they retired.  The farm was about 13 acres, 5 of which was planted in strawberries, hence the name.  The family raised pigs here and the land also had cherry trees.  Darwin and his wife Barbara lived here for a time shortly after they were married.  Everyone helped remodel the existing house for them.  Boyd and Cleo sold the land after owning it for six to eight years.  All that is left on the property is a cleared plot of land in the fork of 2 roads, (northwest side of both the drainage and the roads) near a cluster of fir trees.