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.

Easter Greetings from Vedia Eggleston’s Postcard Book

As Spring began to bring new life back to the earth and people prepared to celebrate Easter, festive greetings were sent through postcards to friends and family who were away. These cards from Vedia Eggleston’s Postcard Book contain Easter Greetings.

Easter Cards from Sister Lettie

This card was sent to Vedia in Afton from her sister Lettie with wishes for a good time on Easter. The postmark is smeared, but appears to be 1914 from Deweyville.

Easter Postcard Easter Postcard 1914

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This card dated April 2, 1915 and addressed to Dear Sister and signed with an L. It was probably also from Letter. She talks of plans for summer visits. Vedia was in Malad, attending school.

Easter Postcard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postcards sent to Vedia in Deweyville from Friends

This card was sent to Vedia in Deweyville, Utah from her friend Kathryn who was still in Afton. Vedia would have been with her sister Connie and husband Jesse Dewey, whose name is also by the address.

Kathryn gives Vedia a bad time for not writing “Why don’t you write have you for-gotten me. Part of this message sounds like it could be a poem:

The hills are getting bare “really don’t you know”

Papa and Mama have gone to the show

Easter Postcard Easter Postcard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This card was sent March 31, 1912 from a friend in Afton. It s addressed to Miss Vedia Eggleston, Dwey, Utah. I assume this was also when she was in Deweyville with her sister Connie and husband Jesse Dewey. How this card managed to find her is remarkable to me, and for 1 cent, even.

Easter Postcard Easter Postcard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I share these cards with you for no cost at all, with my added greetings for a Happy Easter!

Ephraim Johnson

Early Years in Eden

Ephraim Johnson and his twin brother Jacob were born March 20, 1876 in Eden, Weber, Utah to Peter Johnson (Jorgensen) and Ane Marie Madsen. Their father, Peter Johnson, an immigrant from Denmark, had a farm there. Peter died in December 1878 after he was caught in a snow storm and became ill. Thee twin boys were just over two years old when their father died. Their younger sister Agnes was just a baby.

Ane Marie Madsen Johnson, Agnes, Jacob, & Ephraim Johnson

Ane Marie Madsen Johnson with her younger children, twins Jacob and Ephraim and daughter Agnes

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Jacob Johnson

Early Years in Eden

Jacob Johnson and his twin brother Ephraim were born March 20, 1876 in Eden, Weber, Utah to Peter Johnson (Jorgensen and Ane Marie Madsen. Their father, Peter Johnson, an immigrant from Denmark, had a farm there. Peter died in December 1878 after he was caught in a snow storm and became ill. These twin boys were just over two years old when their father died. Their younger sister Agnes was just a baby.

Ane Marie Madsen Johnson with her younger children, twins Jacob and Ephraim and daughter Agnes

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Constant Ann Stephens Eggleston McBride

Constant Ann Stephens Eggleston McBride

Constant Ann Stephens Eggleston

Early Life

Constant Ann Stephens was born February 17, 1849 at Council Bluffs, Potawattamie Co. Iowa, the daughter of John Stephens and Elizabeth Briggs. She was the ninth of twelve children.

Constant’s father had a farm at Council Bluffs. She crossed the plains at the age of two, arriving in Utah October 14, 1851. Her father was a Captain of ten in the Orson Pratt Company. The family resided in Weber County. Her father built the first reservoir in Weber County in 1856.

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Vedia Eggleston’s Postcard Book – Early 20th Century Valentines

In the early 20th Century Valentines were sent thought postcards to special people who were far away. Vedia Eggleston’s Postcard Book contained several Valentine postcards.

To My Valentine

 

to my Valentine

 

Vedia’s sister Lottie was good to remember her on Valentines Day. The written messages were not very newsworthy. They were probably continuations of other conversations sent through postcards and letters. The intent was to keep in touch. A a colorful card with a message was a special remembrance.

Veda from Lottie Valentine greeting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My poor heart To Veda from Lottie

The First Christmas in Jackson Hole

The First Christmas in Jackson Hole was celebrated with elk steaks, doughnuts fried in bear grease, music and dancing.

The Wilson & Cheney Families

Sylvester Wilson had settled in Emery County, Utah in 1877 at a place that became known as Wilsonville. After almost 12 years in this drought stricken area, Sylvester Wilson decided to move and start again somewhere else.

Sylvester Wilson

Sylvester Wilson

Mary Wood Wilson

Mary Wood Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sylvester and his family left Wilsonville at the end of May 1889. The group included Sylvester and his wife Mary, 9 unmarried children (the youngest being three) and two married children and their families. Mary Alice had married Selar Cheney August 10, 1879. They had four children, but one died before they left. Ervin had married Mary Jane Davis June 26, 1888 and she was expecting their first child as they left. Their son James was born September 12 in St. Anthony, Idaho.

The family left Wilsonville with 5 sturdy wagons and about 80 head of cattle. They also had at least 20 race horses, which Sylvester had taken as partial payment on their Wilsonville property. The trip to St. Anthony, Idaho was over 400 miles. They averaged about 10 miles per day, trailing their livestock.

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Vedia Eggleston’s Postcards from Far Away Places

Vedia Eggleston’s postcards, like many of the time, were the way to keep in touch with family and friends who had moved away or were traveling. They were kind of an early 20th Century Social Media – only much slower than today. They also were a good way to let you know of places where friends were and you were not. From the commercial side, postcards were good marketing tools. Cards with photos of exciting or historic places were used to encourage tourism and pride in local sites.

Vedia Eggleston’s Postcard book contained a number of cards from various places in the United States. Sometimes the places that the cards were sent from was not the place indicated by the photograph on the card. Cards may have been purchased at one place and sent from another. Or possibly cards from some places could even be purchased at home. More postcards from places closer to home are shared in another post.

Friend Kathryn in Madison

Let’s start with Madison, Nebraska, since Vedia received several cards from there in 1912. Apparently Vedia had a friend Kathryn who had moved to Madison. Vedia was not as good at keeping in touch as this Kathryn was. She repeatedly asked why she had not heard from Vedia.

Madison

 

Postcards City Hall, Madison, NE

Madison Kathryn to Vedia

 

Madison auto Kathryn to Vedia

 

Kathryn sent this card showing a scene of Ogden Canyon in Utah from Madison, Nebraska to Vedia in Afton. Apparently Kathryn finally received a card from Vedia.

Kathryn from Madison

Ogden Canyon

Brother Asa Eggleston’s Travels

In 1916, Vedia’s brother Asa was traveling, probably on business. This card sent from Montana to Vedia in Malad, Idaho has a photograph of Idaho Falls. Asa mentions that he will be going to Belgrade this afternoon and later to Bozeman.

Asa from Manhattan, Montana

 

Idaho Falls Power Station

Asa sent this card from Helena, Montana to Vedia in Malad, Idaho. This was was sent after Vedia’s marriage and is addressed to Mrs. John Jones, Jr. Asa indicated that he would be leaving there soon, but did not know his next destination.

 

This other card was sent from Billings, Montana earlier in the year. Asa mentioned that he had just left Park City and did not know how long he would be in Billings or where he would be next. He instructed her to write to him in Great Falls, Montana.

Billings, Montana library

Asa from Billings, Montana

Asa sent this card from Spokane, Washington in June 1916. Apparently he was in Spokane in between trips to Montana.

Monroe Street Bridge Spokane, Washington

Asa from Spokane, Washinton

From Missouri

This card was sent from Macon, Missouri to Vedia in Afton, Wyoming

Cards from New York

J. C. Dewey sent this embossed postcard of the Hudson River Steamboat to Vedia. It was actually postmarked from Deweyville, Utah

Hudson River Steamboat postcard

 

This embossed card of Grant’s Tomb is addressed to Vedia in Afton, Wyoming, but there is no postmark or message.

Grant's Tomb postcard

 

This card was sent from Fulton, New York

Postcards Fulton, NY postcard from Fulton, NY

Vedia Eggleston’s Postcards from Nearby Places

Postcards were an easy and inexpensive way to keep in touch with family and friends in a time when there were few telephones and no internet. In the early 20th Century they were like Social Media, sharing bits of news and often short messages in between longer letters. They were written on postcards showing familiar scenes or with simple greetings. Vedia Eggleston’s Postcard Book contained postcards from nearby places where friends and family lived. Other postcards from places further away are shared in another post.

Some from Home in Afton, Wyoming:

Taqbernacle, Afton, Wyoming

This is the Tabernacle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Afton, Wyoming, Vedia’s home town.

Postcards Afton, Wyoming

Vedia to sister Connie Dewey

Vedia sent this card to her sister Connie Dewey who was living in Tremonton, Utah. On the front of the card, which appears to be the same photograph as the card above, Vedia indicated that this “bird’s eye view of Afton” did not show their house. The message (above) includes news from home and her hopes that her sister would come home for the holidays.

Afton, Wyoming

Postcards to and from places in Utah:

Connie sent this card from Tremonton to Vedia when she was in Salt Lake City in April 1909.

Connie to Vedia in SLC

 

Tremonton

This card showing a photograph of the Wandemere Resort in Salt Lake City. It was mailed from Metropolis, Nevada to Vedia who was in Deweyville, Utah.

Wandemere Resort SLC

to Vedia in Deweyville from Nev

This card was sent to Vedia from a friend who had moved to Hooper, Utah. Hooper was and still is a rather small town. It appears from what is printed on the back that they had postcards printed by a company that did international cards.

Postcard greetings from Hooper

Greetings from Hooper

These cards show scenes from Ogden, Utah.

Vedia from Ogden

Postcards Washington Ave Ogden, Utah

 

Postcards Weber Academy Ogden, Utah

 

 Postcards from Idaho

This card was postmarked from Malad, Idaho and sent to Afton, Wyoming. It has a photograph of the Post Office in Ogden, Utah.

Ogden card from Malad

Ogden Post Office

These cards were sent to Vedia who was in Deweyville, Utah by her sister Rae who was in Malad, Idaho. It is interesting that one has a photograph from San Francisco.

Rae to Vedia

 

Rae to Vedia 2

 

Hotel Sutter, San Francisco

 

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