Talitha Cuma Cheney Eggleston

My grandmother, Talitha Cuma Cheney Eggleston died at a young age. At least from my present perspective it seems a very young age. I never had the privilege of knowing her. When I was compiling histories for the Cheney Wilson Family History Book, I realized that she was the only member of that family no one had written about. So I set out, as one who had not known her personally, to write a history of her life. This is taken largely from that account, with some additional photographs.

Early Life in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Talitha Cuma Cheney was born May 3, 1893 in South Park, Wyoming. She grew up as on only daughter, with several brothers, all but one older than her. Her parents, Selar Cheney and Mary Alice Wilson, had another daughter Mary Ellen, but she had died as a child in Wilsonville, long before Cuma was born.

family of Selar and Mary Alice Wilson Cheney

Talitha Cuma is sitting on her father Selar’s lap. To the right of her is her grandmother Talitha Cuma Garlic Avery, whom she was named after. Other family members are Howard, David, Mother Mary Alice holding Fleming, and Selar Sylvester and Ralph standing in the back.

Talitha Cuma was named after her grandmother, Talitha Cumi Garlick Avery Cheney, though she went by the name “Cuma”. In some places it was written Cumi or Cumy, though her daughter Alice said she preferred Cuma to Cumy.

Fleming, Talitha Cuma and Howard Cheney

Cuma with her brothers Fleming and Howard

At the time Cuma was born, the South Park community consisted mostly of her extended family, so her childhood would have beenspent with her brothers and several cousins.

Education was very important to this family. The first school was organized in Jackson Hole in 1896. Cuma was too young to attend when the school first started, but was privileged to have this available from the time she was ready to start school. A 1899 souvenir card of School District No. 37 in Jackson lists 16 pupils with Cumy Cheney listed last, as she was probably the youngest.

 

Marriage to Joseph S. Eggleston

Cuma met Joseph Smith Eggleston, the son of Orson H. Eggleston and Annie Christine Johnson, who had been raised in Star Valley, Wyoming. Joe and his uncle Jacob Johnson homesteaded on a place called “Mormon Row” in Jackson Hole. This area is now within the boundaries of Teton National Park. The first land grant there was made in 1896. According to the Homestead Act, they were able to purchase 160 acres of land with the requirement that they build a dwelling, improve the land, and remain there for 5 years. After that time, a title to the land could be obtained.

By 1910, Joe and Jake had built a cabin and an irrigation ditch, known as the Johnson/Eggleston Ditch.  They later built a 100 foot well for drinking water and Joe built a two story home. Joseph Eggleston received a title to this land January 5, 1916.

Talitha Cuma Cheney and Joseph S. Eggleston

Wedding Picture of Cuma and Joseph Eggleston

Cuma was married to Joseph S. Eggleston, January 15, 1914 in the Salt Lake Temple. That would have been quite a journey to the Temple at that time, in a sleigh pulled by horses.

Life on Mormon Row

After their marriage, Cuma moved in with Joseph at Mormon Row. Joseph became Postmaster and for a time the Post Office was in their home. When the application was made for a Post Office, the name of Grovont was given to this community. The store was across the street from their home.

Grovont, Wyoming Post Office

Grovont Post Office. This may have been the Eggleston home

A branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized and the Church was also right across the street from their home. Cuma was called to be Relief Society President. Though the flock was small at that time, they were also quite isolated, so Cuma would have had a great deal of responsibility to care for the needs of these families through sicknesses and deaths as well as organizing activities. Cuma also played the piano and lead music at times. Joseph was the President of the Sunday School there.

Grovont Sunday School. Cuma Eggleston standing second from the left holding baby Aice. Joe Eggleston is standing 3rd from the left.

Four children were born to Cuma and Joe at Mormon Row: Alice Christine was born November 20, 1914; Joseph Wesley was born April 26, 1916; Lola was born December 15, 1917 and Selar Orland was born May 5, 1919. Alice remembers being in the Post Office (one room in their home) while her mother took care of the mail, and being outside with her while she hung out the clothes to dry.

Though Mormon Row is a beautiful place, life was not easy there. Irrigation was necessary for any farming and the growing season was very short. Winters were very severe. Alice remembers the snow reaching their second story windows. She recalls her father shoveling a trench out to the barn and one time when he hitched the team and they sank in the snow. They were almost buried and he had to dig them out. There was an Elk reservation just north of Jackson. Joseph worked feeding the Elk there. The elk did not stay confined to the reservation however, and during the winters they would often feed on the hay these settlers had grown for their livestock.

After Joseph’s father died in February 1917, he brought his younger brother Theron to Mormon Row to live with them. Theron was about eleven years old and stayed with them for a few years, before going back to Afton to live with his sister.

Move to Eden, Utah

Joseph and Cuma decided to move to Eden, Utah where he had been born. They moved in 1919, traveling on a train, and bought a farm on Middle Fork. Joe bought a herd of cows and feed, but the next year the bottom fell out of the market and the value of cattle dropped. It took a long time for them to get out of debt. They had 20-30 milk cows as well as chickens, pigs and rabbits.

Joe and Cuma in 1930 with what appears to be the barn in the background

They lived in a small one story house with outside plumbing. Joe eventually dug a basement, dug a septic tank and a well, and installed indoor plumbing. Transportation then was mostly by horse and wagon or sleigh. Joe later bought a car, which they rarely used, and a truck for use on the farm.

While living here Cuma had four more children: Laura was born November 20, 1920; Melvin was born April 7, 1922; Dale was born May 19, 1925; and DeLoss was born July 10, 1926. All of her children were born at home, except DeLoss, who was born at the Dee Hospital in Ogden.

Cuma continued to serve in the Church while living in Eden. She taught Primary. Alice said of her mother:

“Mother was always active in the church. She had a strong testimony and love for the gospel. I think she was as near to a lady as any woman could be. Her language was correct and she used no profanity. She was a good example for her children. She did not send us off to church, she took us and made sure we behaved.”

Eden Ward records show that July 24, 1925, the Relief Society work day was spent sewing clothes for Sister Cuma Eggleston’s children, as sister Eggleston was ill at the time and the children needed the clothing to start school. (History of Eden Ward p. 239) Dale would have been just two months old at this time.

Cuma had some difficulties in bearing children, resulting in scar tissue. She did go to the hospital to have some surgery after Dale was born and could have still been recovering at this time. She was advised not to have any more children, but 13 months later DeLoss, her last child, was born. There was a need for further surgery later, but because money was scarce, she put off having this surgery.

Grandmother

Cuma in 1937

Grandma did live long enough to become a Grandmother, but Alice lived in California with her children. Other grandchildren who lived closer in Utah were born not long before she died. She did not have much time or opportunity to enjoy her grandchildren.

Cuma with her grandson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cuma and Joe with grandson Fred

Her Final Days

Alice recalls that her mother went without many things for her children. Cuma finally went to the hospital for surgery in the fall of 1940. There were complications, including pneumonia in both lungs. She died November 4, 1940 at the age of 49. The day Cuma died was election day and Alice recalled her being concerned about voting. Lola recalled that on Sunday her mother was sitting up in the bed crocheting and on Tuesday they got word that she had died.

Talitha Cuma Cheney Eggleston was buried in the Eden Valley View Cemetery.

Joseph Eggleston’s Postcards from Jackson Hole

A handful of postcards from Jackson Hole give us a glimpse into life on Mormon Row a century ago.

Joseph S. Eggleston grew up in Afton, Wyoming. In about 1910 he went to Jackson Hole where he homesteaded in a place known as Mormon Row. He sent these postcards from Jackson Hole during that time. There are no addresses, stamps or postmarks indicating when and to whom or where they were sent. They may have been inserted into packages sent back home to his family in Afton. Or possibly, since Joe carried the mail on a postal route in Wyoming at that time, he did not need to address them. He could have carried them himself to Afton or included them with other mail.

Cousin Don shared these postcards with me. They had been with boxes of photographs he inherited from his mother, Evelyn Barbara Stock Lee. She got these from her mother Mattie Mae Eggleston Stock, who was Joseph Egglestons’s sister.

These cards were produced showing scenes from the area. Joe may have purchased a number of these. We had another one of this family skiing, but there was nothing written on it. The view from Joe’s homestead would have been very similar. He apparently knew this Sheffield family.

Sheffield family Moran, Wyoming

 

skiing Jackson Lake

Weather in Jackson Hole ranged from harsh and cold but beautiful winters to hot and dry summers. From this postcard we gain some idea of what Joe’s daily life was like on isolated Mormon Row.

J E postcard

 

Jackson Hole

 

Tetons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J E postcard Tetons

Apparently by the time this postcard was sent, Joe was settled on Mormon Row. Jacob and Bell would have been his Uncle Jacob Johnson and his wife. Jacob homesteaded on Mormon Row next to Joe. Bro & sister Eccles would have been Bell’s parents who had come from Jackson to visit them.

J Eggleston postcard

Yours with wild geese

J. Eggleston

 

Family Reunion 1952

I inherited photographs of an Eggleston Family Reunion which I did not attend. These are dated 1952 and are of a gathering of the family of Joseph S. Eggleston.  I assumed the occasion was Grandpa Joe’s Birthday and/or the Fourth of July – they were celebrated together. We have come a long way with photo-documenting such events, both with the number of pictures we take as well as the quality. These photos are poor quality and identifying people has not been easy. I have not been able to identify everyone and may not have the ones I have identified right. It does look like they all enjoyed a good meal.

Wesley and Margaret are sitting on the left then Lola. Grandpa Joe is sitting on the right back. It might be Phil standing with the child. Joan and DeLoss are standing in the back. Stella is standing on the right side of the table.

 

Another shot with Stella busy preparing things on the table and others moved around.

 

These three are harder to identify individuals.

 

 

This photo is much better quality than the others, but appears to have been taken that same day. DeLoss and Joan

 

DeLoss, Grandpa Joseph S. Eggleston, Melvin and Wesley

 

 

Doc’s Memories of Melvin Eggleston

Melvin Eggleston was born April 7, 1922 in Eden, Utah, the son of Joseph S. and Talitha Cuma Cheney Eggleston.

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Melvin at age 6

Melvin Eggleston was born and raised in Eden and went to the same schools as the others. Melvin’s special talent was his personality, almost everyone liked him. He did have one fight, but that person became a friend. When he was going to Huntsville he tried to get Dale and me involved with his girlfriend’s sisters. He was active in sports.

01-22-02 - Melvin Eggleston fourth from left, DeLoss Far Right

Melvin #7 with a basketball

Dale Melvin orchestra

Melvin standing on the right with his tuba

He played the tuba in the school orchestra. After school he was pretty much on his own. He tried many things including driving a Taxi. I never figured that out because of his age.

01-23-02 - Melvin (Navy)

Melvin in Marine Uniform

During World War II, Melvin enlisted in the Marines. After boot camp he got involved with the orchestra and played a little with them but there was too much competition. After a major problem, he got a job as a driver for the Colonel in Hawaii. After another problem, he was sent to New Zealand and was trained for Island hopping. While there he got a jeep and drove over the area naturally finding friends or making friends. From there he was involved in taking three islands. Then on Guam he got hit. The shell tore the skin off his back and left shrapnel in his leg. The medics took one look at him and decided that he was gone so they left him. His companion and friend picked him up and put him in the ambulance. When he got to the Doctor he said it probably was good that the medics did not treat him. They would have done more damage. His back was still solid and the skin could be stretched over the bones. He had shrapnel in his leg for the rest of his life. He received a Purple Heart.

SOE Photo Journal page 44 of 58 (5)

Melvin married Maxine Ann Ewaldt on April 21, 1946 in El Monte, California.

Mel & Maxine's Wedding Day

Mel & Maxine’s Wedding Day

01-23-07 - Mel and Maxine

Maxine & Mel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mel and Maxine made their home in Montebello, California, where they raised their sons.

Mel & Maxine's home in Montebello

Mel & Maxine’s home in Montebello

After his recovery from his war injuries, Mel tried to do the work Leon had been doing, but that did not work out. He got a job driving a delivery truck for an appliance manufacturer. He worked for the same company but it changed several times. One day David had been along the beach in Southern California and told him there was a small trailer park across the road from the beach in San Clemente. He told him he should get a small trailer and park it there. That is what he did and we enjoyed visiting them there. They later bought a double wide mobile home with a view of the ocean. After they retired, they moved from Montebello to the trailer park in San Clemente.

Melvin passed away peacefully in his sleep on May 2, 2016.

Doc’s Memories of Alice

babyAlice

Alice was born on Mormon Row and was still a child when they moved to Eden. She went to school in Eden and Huntsville and graduated from Weber High School in Ogden. She was a good student and made many lasting friends. As a young lady she babysat for several families. Because our mother was not in good health after I was born Alice did a lot of raising me and we were very close. A friend of hers moved to California and invited her to come down there and be a nanny for a family. She thought that would be interesting, so she went to California. While there she enjoyed many things including dancing. Continue reading

Doc’s Memories of Lola

Senior

Lola was born on Mormon Row and was just a baby when the family moved to Eden. My first recollection of her was that when I was born she wanted a little sister and treated me like I was. She curled my hair and treated me like I was Shirley Temple, who was my age. She went to the same schools as her brother and sister – Eden Elementary, Huntsville Junior High and Weber High School. She was friendly and was well liked in school. I don’t really remember how she got acquainted with Phil. But I do remember them getting together at the house. They were married and moved in to a house just to the west of his parents place. I was so busy with my own life that I do not remember a lot about them growing up. I do remember the joy she had when after three boys she got a girl(a beautiful girl)the prize of her life. Continue reading

Doc’s Memories of Orland

Selar Orland Eggleston was born May 5, 1919 in Grovont, Teton County, Wyoming, the fourth child of Joseph Smith Eggleston and Talitha Cuma Cheney. These are some memories of Orland by his brother.


F049

Orland was born on Mormon Row, but the family moved to Eden that same year. Orland went to school at Eden Elementary, Huntsville Junior High and Weber High School like his siblings and he was the first to go on to College. Weber was a two year College at that time so he got an associate degree. Orland was a good worker and was closer to Dad than the rest of us.

Orland cowboy

As a boy he had an experience that affected the rest of his life. Our kitchen stove had a stove pipe the came up from the stove and then made a bend to go into the chimney. That flat part collected soot and had to be cleaned out. Orland and Melvin were cleaning it out and they were very dirty. Orland got a handful of soot and blew it into Mel’s face and ran outside and hid behind the granary. Mel came out after him and picked up a flipper(sling shot) and picked up a rock. Orland peeked around the side of the granary to see where he was when Mel shot the rock which caught Orland in the eye, cutting a hole in the eye. At that time they could do nothing about that. That is why he never was in the army. While WW2 was on, he served a Mission in the eastern states and did a good job.

Orland postcard front Orland postcard back

When he got back he went to Weber College and graduated in engineering(I think). I talked with a fellow student who thought a lot of Orland. He went to California and stayed with Alice and worked in one of the Airplane Factories(Douglas I think). When the war ended Veterans wanted their jobs back and because of his eye he was let go. Orland and some of his friends opened up a sheet metal shop. They were doing very well making all kinds to things even bending tubes for airplanes. I worked with them before I went on my Mission. Then the great steel strike made it impossible to get material so the company went broke. Then he became a barber and got his own shop and was doing very well. He decided to invest in Real Estate and bought a complex in Watts. The Riot in Watts changed that. They move into a town by Whittier.

01-25-06 - Orland's wife Arva

Arva Williams Eggleston

 

 

 

Orland & Arva wedding

Arva and Orland on their Wedding Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somehow Arva heard about Orland while he was on his Mission. She moved to California to find him and they got together and married.

 

They were both very active in the church and it became important in their lives. (After I repented he financed, with the help of Elders Quorums, my mission to which I am very grateful.) To help finances and get in shape he got a paper route, part of the route was a circle of houses. One Sunday morning after he had run the route he did not feel too well but he felt he had to go to Church. While getting ready he had a heart attack and passed away. A great loss to all of us involved. Arva later remarried but she had a bad liver, which eventually took her life. They left a wonderful family.

 

01-24-08 - Orland's House

Doc’s Memories of Wesley

Life Sketch of Joseph Wesley Eggleston, born April 26, 1916 in Grovont, Wyoming and died June 15, 1968 in Ogden, Utah.
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Wesley cowboy

Wesley was born on Mormon Row and came with the Family to Eden in 1919. Being the first son, he worked from childhood on the farm. He went to  school at Eden Elementary, Huntsville Junior High and Weber High School. He did not get any more education except as a mechanic on the Southern Pacific Railroad. During the depression, jobs were not very available. His first real job affected his life forever. He got a job with the WPA or the PWA. The area of Snow Basin was being developed. A shorter route to the Basin would be up Wheeler Canyon. Wheeler Canyon is the Canyon just south of the Pine View Dam (the Dam not the lake). As you start up the canyon there is an outcropping of rock that almost blocks the canyon. They decided that outcropping should be removed. No one of the group really knew any thing about dynamite and fuses. They proceeded drilling holes straight into the rock and putting charges in the holes and tamping gravel in to hold the charges. The timing of fuses is determined by putting a thread in with the powder to control the speed of the fuse. If the thread gets broken then you have a hot fuse. After they got the holes drilled and the charges in the told Wesley and Wesley Wilson to go down and warn the workers below that the charge would go off in five minutes. The Wesleys left and they set the fuses off. When the Wesleys were about 100 feet down the trail the charge went off. The gravel in the holes came out like a gunshot. Wesley Wilson dropped to the ground, a few rocks hit him in the back and neck killing him. My brother reached down to check him only to find that his hand had been shredded. The skin peeled off his hand and the fingers broken. I remember seeing that hand. They put a wire out around it to hold the fingers straight. He did get limited use of that hand. He was able to get a job at the Union Pacific Rail Road Round House on 29th street.

MarWesley

Margaret and Wesley

Wesley married Margaret Wood and they were going to live where Grandma Johnson lived in Eden. Dad wanted him to run the old Johnson farm but he never did. After they moved into the Johnson house, Margaret wanted a new kitchen stove. They had to move the old one out and put in the new one. When they started to move the old one it was so heavy that they had to get help. After they had it out side for some reason I opened the oven and found it was full of bricks. Margaret had put bricks in the oven to get them warm so they could put them in the wagon in the winter to keep their feet warm.

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Margaret and Wes

Wes and Margaret did have some problems but they had some great kids and I have a great deal of love and respect for them. Working in the round house at that time exposed them to a lot of carbon monoxide which effected Wes’s heart which was eventually the cause of his death.

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Wesley & Joe

Wesley with his father

Grandpa saved this letter written by Margaret  in 1946, when they were living in Cheyene, Wyoming.

 

Margaret letter p2 & 3

Margaret letter p1

 

Margaret letter p4 & 5

 

Joe and Stella saved this letter sent from Cheyenne in 1946.

Wes letter p1Wes letter p2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mormon Row Homestead

I first became aware of the existence of Mormon Row in 1996. I had done genealogy research for some time and knew that Grandpa and Grandma Eggleston’s first four children were born in Grovont, Wyoming. I had no idea where Grovont was – I don’t think it is on any current maps – just somewhere in the Jackson Hole area. In 1996, my Dad was invited to a Mormon Row Centennial Celebration for descendants of the original homesteaders. The first homestead was granted in 1896. Eventually there were 21 homesteads there.

1918 Mormon Row Map

1918 Map of Mormon Row – Joe Eggleston homestead in the center

Continue reading