The Life Story of Eliza Ann Riley Tolman

(In her own words)

I was born August 12, 1869 (the 6th of 8 children born to William Lockton and Mary Ann Clark Riley) in Bountiful, Utah (The same year the Railroad was completed in Ogden, Utah in May) in a one room log house with a dirt roof. The day of my birth it rained so hard that they had to put a pan on the bed to keep my mother and me dry. That day mother had the threshers and they had to eat outside in the shade of a tree. As long as William Parkins lived he teased me about driving the threshers out of the house the day I came to town.

When I was five years old my parents moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. Father worked in the Valley House washing dishes. The Valley House was something like a hotel. We lived in Salt Lake City for a year and while living there I was sick with whopping cough and have been afflicted with a bronchial cough ever since. When I was six years old we moved back to Bountiful. While we were living in Bountiful I was sick with Scarlet Fever. I went to school for three months in Bountiful and was taught by Sister Alice Farnum. The school was held in one of the rooms of her home. We wrote mostly on slate with slate pencils. There was a long table which we used when we had to use paper for writing material. School cost $.25 a week and was paid each Monday morning.

When I was seven years old we moved back to Salt Lake City where father went to work in Henry Dinwoody's Furniture store. He worked there for 21 years. I continued school in Salt Lake City but because of my mother's poor health I advanced only to the third reader. During my childhood I was sick with measles and diphtheria. When I had diphtheria I almost lost my speech and my eyesight, and because of these difficulties I missed nearly two years of school.

When I was 14 I was caring for my sister Emma in Bountiful and one day when I was walking past Tolman's house Wallace and Cyrus Tolman were cutting wood on the other side of the fence. Wallace started to talk with me but Cy interrupted him saying, "Shut up, you don't know her." For some time after that I thought Wallace was quite all right but one night, sometime later, one of my girl friends and I were standing in front of my sister's place, Cy and another young fellow came along and after talking for a while we decided to draw cuts to see whether we went with the boys or if they went with us. My friend and I won and the boys took us to Bliss Hall where a group of men were gathered. On the way to the hall Cy gave me a picture of him and his brother Wall. Upon arriving at the hall and seeing that only men were inside we left the boys and ran down the street toward home. Cy lived in Bountiful and while he was courting me, he rode a horse to Salt Lake and took me to the circus. After the circus he asked me if he could call on me again. Our courtship was in the budding stage. One time when Cy called on me in Salt Lake City I was standing on the stove blackening the stove pipe. He came in, stood by the door, and watched without saying a word. When I saw him I jumped off the stove, disappeared into the bedroom. I was wearing a house dress and had a towel tied around my head.

I was only allowed to stay up 'till 9:30 unless I was at a dance, then I could stay up until 11:00. I've sneaked out the back door of the house several times when I've been to a party so they wouldn't know I was leaving and gone home. Father was always waiting for me to come in. I lived in the 17th Ward from the time I was six until I was 17. House #333.

Cy and I were sweethearts for two years. On September 16, 1886 we went to Logan and were married in the Logan Temple. Apostle Marinus W. Merrill performed the ceremony.

My mother was very sick for one and one-half years before she died. She had three paralytical strokes and was afflicted with heart trouble and dropsy. She passed away soon after her third stroke when my first baby, Sarah Lovenia (Vinnie) was about two months.

We lived in Bountiful for seven years. My first two children were born while we were living in Bountiful and the first home in which I lived was a two story concrete building with four rooms and a pantry. My husband built this home the summer before we were married.

I drove a one horse buggy from Bountiful to Chesterfield. We were on the ride eight days. We arrived in Chesterfield on Sarah Lovenia's sixth birthday, August 27, 1893. My son Fred was born the following October, making it all the more difficult. I have had ten babies, and never had a doctor for any of them. I was cared for by a midwife. Sister Anna Wilhelmina Peterson moved into our town before Olester was born. She cared for me. He was an eight month baby. He had turned so blue she thought there was no hope of saving him. I asked Cy to bless him and give him a name. He asked, "What shall I name him?" Sarah Lovenia said, "Olester". This was the name of a former sweetheart who had been accidentally shot in the leg. Poison set in and he died. Then when Leonard was born this same mid-wife brought him into this world. His was a breech birth and Cy administered to me. I was very ill. Sister Peterson came and cared for him until I was well enough to take over. Cy was blessed with the power of healing and was called on real often.

I did all of my own sewing as well as sewing for several other women of the community in which I lived. Retta Tolman, my sister-in-law, would often buy materials for the girls dresses and the boys shirts, then give me half of it for doing the sewing. I knitted mittens, socks and stockings for both families.

We had long cold winters with lots of snow but we had goad times at parties in various organizations. I was a Relief Society Visiting Teacher and worked on the Stake Relief Society Board with Stake President Mary Call. I was MIA Counselor to Vinnie Nelson for seven years and when released they presented me with a silver cup and saucer. I was Relief Society Counselor to Columbia Loveland and later served as Relief Society President for nine years. During that time we prepared all the bodies of the dead for burial and worked with Bishop Carlos Loveland. During this time I attended women in the birth of about 40 babies without the help of a physician. Nine of them were my own grandchildren. I also helped the doctors with about 70 children, 29 of whom were my grandchildren. We usually had fruit cake or something on hand so the doctors could have a snack before returning home. Even though I helped with one hundred and ten babies, only one of them died and that was a premature birth. Several of these babies were born in my own home.

I paid tithing with butter and eggs. At first we would take it to the Bishop, then later we took it to the store where the Ward Clerk would give us credit for it as tithing. The Ward Clerk was the owner of the store. We gave flour or potatoes or some other produce, each month when the deacons made their call for fast offerings. When the Relief Society needed extra funds they would call on all the women in the ward to save their Sunday's eggs. For Relief Society donations we would give a spool of thread, a bar of soap, eggs, a dime, or most anything of that nature that could be used. The Relief Society Teachers took a basket along with them when they made their visits. The first donation I ever made was a bar of soap and a spool of thread.

The conditions were quite different then. There were no modern homes. They had to draw and carry the water from the well, then boil it on a wood or coal stove and add lysol or carbolic acid to sterilize the instruments; the scissors, basins, hands, etc. I doctored pneumonia with mustard poultices and by a hot bath in a wash boiler with mustard added and a wool blanket over it to hold in the steam. I also used onion poultices on the bottom of their feet to draw the fever out.

When Elden was about one year old I was called out and was gone all night and part of the day. Elnora went home to care for him and the rest of the family. That was when Elden was weaned. I went from one home to another during the flu epidemic of 1918 and 1919. It was a terrible thing to hit our little community. Many lives were lost, especially young mothers. Schools, churches and everything were closed down. The funerals were held in the open, usually in the church yard. They cared for the dead by sitting up all night to keep ice packs on the face and jars of ice around the body, changing them often. I watched and nursed many children during and after operations.

I also worked in the Religion Class in Chesterfield with Alice Anderson. In Bancroft I was counselor in the Relief Society, to Barbara Eliason and also to Jennie S. Gilbert. When I was released they gave me a combination Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price with my name engraved on the cover in gold. I worked on the Idaho Stake Board of Relief Society for several years.

When Myrintha and Al were married in 1925, my husband and I went to California with them. We stopped in Los Angeles and witnessed their marriage then went to San Francisco. From San Francisco we crossed the bay to Alameda where my sister, Clara, was living. This trip lasted about ten days and we had a very enjoyable time.

In October of 1935, my husband and I moved to Logan to work in the Temple, which I have so enjoyed. I performed 462 endowments for the dead during the first two years we were in Logan. (I have now done over 3100 endowments.)

On September 16, 1936 my husband and I commemorated our Golden Wedding with our children and grandchildren and their wives and husbands. We attended one of the sessions of the Temple on that day and were proud to have our ten children with us. There were 22 of our family in that session. After that we returned to the Girls Camp in Logan Canyon where we spent an enjoyable evening with 66 of our posterity. Other relatives and some close friends joined us and a hot dinner was served to 88. A fine program was rendered. We spent three days at this gathering, had our meals all planned, played games, etc.

We held these reunions each year until the Second World War when gas was so hard to get and many of the boys were in the Armed Forces. Father thought it best to postpone them. Then father passed away the 20 of October 1942 at Soda Springs Hospital and was buried in the Bountiful Cemetery.

I lived with Elden until he married, then I had two rooms at William's home for a while, then moved back to Bancroft in 1946 and lived in two rooms at Leonard's home for six years. This same year I received the Good Neighbor Award.

On my 80th birthday my children held open house for me at Olester's home at Bancroft. One hundred and seven friends called. That evening we all met at the school building where a banquet was served to 168 of my posterity including one great, great grandson age one year, and other relatives and friends. We enjoyed a nice program and the young folks enjoyed roller-skating. Next day we met at Lava Hot Springs, where swimming was the recreation and all enjoyed a nice lunch, barbecue the main dish. Each of my ten children presented me with eight dollars all wrapped in a gift package, a dollar for each of my eighty years. I feel I just can't thank folks enough for kind words and deeds.

William died August 5, 1951, of cancer.

In September of 1952 at age 83 I broke up house-keeping, divided my belongings, moved what I needed to Pleasant View, and am living with my daughter, Sarah Lovenia. Here I lived for five years and then moved back to Leonard's where I had my own room, eating with the family when I was there, but spent much of my time with others of the family.

Elden died October 6, 1952.

In June of 1959 I left Boise and went to Nevada with Nancy. The next morning I fell and broke my kneecap. I was operated on and had it removed. I was in the Rose-DiLima Hospital at Henderson about the 24th or 25th of June 1959. I wouldn't go to the doctor for about three weeks because I didn't think it was broken. One Sunday, however I nearly fell coming down some steps from sacrament meeting. It hurt me so all night that I decided to let them take me to the hospital. Nancy and her family went out each day to visit with me.

By August I was well enough to return to Bancroft where we celebrated my 90th birthday anniversary on the 12th of August. The recreation hall at the Church was rented and a large group of my progenitors and close friends gathered to honor me. I really enjoyed the day. Lunch was served and a program followed where my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren entertained me. A beautiful cake, in the shape of an open book, with the names of my children was given to me.

Alta Gooch Jenkins, a granddaughter, wrote the following lines:

Grandma dear, we love you so and now is the time to say,

We shouldn't wait until you're gone to give you that bouquet.

Your hair is like the sparkling snow, your eyes are so kind and true,

Your heart is made of purest gold, no wonder we all love you.

You are such a good example, for us to follow each day.

If we could all live to be like you, then part of your deeds we'd repay.

Among my childhood memories that stand out most in my mind,

Was Christmas time at your home at Chesterfield, better ones you'll never find.

I remember all those pies and cakes, on the shelf in your flour bin, When one came out missing a nut or two, I was really chagrined.

I remember drawing water in a bucket from your well.

And all those blooming hollyhocks, made it a lovelier place to dwell.

I think that I was a lucky girl, to be able to sit on grandpa's knee, Those of you who are born today missed a lot of things you see.

Grandma, you didn't have things easy, as we have today,

You couldn't turn a switch and dial, and bake the bread while you're away .


I remember all the days you've spent helping those in need.

Someday you'll be rewarded, for all those precious deeds.

You made everyone feel welcome, when ever they entered your door,

Things like this we shall never forget and there are hundreds more.

At times I know you are lonely and feel that you don't belong,

Then you go to a family reunion and you know that you are all wrong.

May the Heavenly Father bless you and may we all take the time,

To thank our Heavenly Father, for the Wonderful Mother of Mine.


In September she had two nose hemorrhages and had to go to the hospital, then to Myrintha's where she was cared for by Myrintha, Lovenia and Nancy.

Mother went to Nancy's in Las Vegas in 1961 to spend the winter. Our family reunion was held there on December 30th, with Nancy in charge. There were 78 attending, with six of her children; Fred, Elnora, Nancy, Judson, Olester and Leonard. She seemed to thrive on these reunions, even though she was tired. She was happy and looked brighter and sweeter at the end of the day, so pleased that we had made the effort to go, and at that time of the year, it was an effort, but we were grateful for our associations and for the good time we had.

While mother was at Nancy's at this time, she had her first airplane ride, on January 14, 1962, a Sunday. Dean, Howe, Mother and Nancy went from Las Vegas to Tempe, Arizona in Dean's plane. Oary, Rose and their children and Lynn were flying along too in Oary's plane. Mother didn't know that Oary was flying down at the same time and each time Gary flew very close, Mother wondered if it was an enemy plane and was quite nervous. Nancy had tried to explain that Oary would be going too, but due to mother's poor hearing she hadn't understood. The next day she asked Nancy about it and that is when Nancy learned that she hadn't understood.

Nancy phoned Bishop Glen Yest for a Temple recommend for mother so that she could go through the Mesa and the St. George Temple with her. They went through the Mesa Temple on Thursday, but because mother was so tired after the first session she waited in the children's room while Nancy went through again. At this time she was 92 years old and as far as is known this was the last time mother went through any temple. This was January 18, 1962. The next day Dean came back to fly Nancy and mother home to Las Vegas and this time mother really enjoyed the ride. She asked Dean questions about flying and when he demonstrated how to make the plane rise and fall, mother said, "That's enough, Dean. I'll be glad to just ride along."

Mother stayed with Nancy until word was received on February 22, 1962, of Olester's

tragic death. He was killed instantly by a power-take-off on a tractor while working with Gerald, his oldest son. It was a great shock to everyone. Olester had been the main-stay of the town during the flood on February 1lth, helping people get dirt around their homes. Due to the weather conditions, the family had to bring mother by way of a car. The service was on the 24th of February. They didn't tell her until she was on the outskirts of town. The service was held up for 30 minutes and then she hardly got to see him. There wasn't even a minute for her to rest or even to comb her hair and she had been traveling all night and most of the day. She was very tired and the shock, along with the trip was almost too much for her. It was very sad to see her reaction to this terrible happening.

Donna tells of the trip from Las Vegas to Bancroft. "We were going to Salt Lake to get mother, (Nancy), and go on to Bancroft for our Uncle Olester's funeral. Being winter time and all, we had to travel through snow and blizzards to get there. The snow and all slowed up our travel quite a bit. There were cars off the road along the way and Grandma Tolman was riding with Dean, Dora Jean, Russell, and Rhema when their car left the road and traveled down a 30 or 40 foot embankment and Russell carried her up to the road and put her in our car. She said, "I don't know why they moved me. I was perfectly comfortable in the other car.

We had to drive 25 miles to Nephi to get a wrecker and follow them back to pull Russell and Dean out of the snow bank and when we got back it was daylight and grandma said, "it looks like someone went off the road. But grandma was 92 and didn't realize that they had gone off the road. If the Lord lets us live as long as she did, and lets our bodies function as hers, and if we all could live our lives with a portion of the goodness and fine example our dear grandmother set for us, we would be so much better off.

In April Rosco and Elnora went to Bancroft and brought mother home with them to Boise. While there she finished lace for two pair of pillow cases. Then she said, "That's the last crocheting I can do, my eyes are just too bad to do any more." She was then 92 years and 9 months of age. She had done so much beautiful crocheting and made so many lovely quilts.

Dollies made at the age of 90 years entered in the class of over 60 years received blue ribbons at the Caribou County Fair in 1960.

The last of May we took her to Portland to Judson's. Betty Jean and Harry Service brought her back by train Tuesday, June 26th. They left at 5:30 Wednesday morning the 27th. She passed away at about 11:00 that night at my home in Boise, 1504 Columbus, very peacefully. I awoke at midnight and couldn't hear her breathing. I jumped up and went to her room. I called Rosco and he came and said, "She's gone!" Her hand was on the pillow. She had gone in her sleep without a struggle. She lived to have 308 descendants and another great-great grandson born the next day. There are 405 with the in-laws. Twenty of this number were deceased. Seven of her children filled missions: William, Olester, Leonard; Elden and Elnora filled foreign missions. Fred and his wife Ella served 3 1/2 years as Stake Missionaries in the Minidoka Stake at Rupert, Idaho. Judson served 16 1/2 years in Portland as a stake missionary. Now, he and his wife Velva are on a full-time mission in Canada. Sarah Lovenia has averaged about 200 Temple endowments a year for several years.

She saw and remembered all the Presidents of the Church except the Prophet. She went to the Tabernacle when President Brigham Young lay in state. He died August 29, 1877. Aunt Ann, Grandmother's sister, took Aunt Clara and mother to see him. Mother was eight years old at the time. Aunt Clara was so tiny she had to be lifted up to see him. She has never forgotten how she felt. The Tabernacle was draped in black, the casket was black and she was frightened and had such a creepy feeling.

She was a wonderful mother and lived a full and very useful life. She dressed herself and combed her hair the day she died and set up for about 1 1/2 hours, but only ate a spoonful of food. She was so tired, but just would not give up.

She was honored at Bancroft on June 30th at her funeral and was buried later that day at Bountiful. Because of the travel distance from the place of her funeral to her final resting place beside her husband in Bountiful, it was necessary to hold her funeral at 10:30 A.M. Saturday morning. Many of her family and close friends traveled with her body to Bountiful. She is remembered with many loving memories by all who knew her and missed very much by those closest to her. We are proud to be her posterity and are grateful that she and father lived worthy to be joined in Heaven. We are sure that they are together and happy at the reunion with their three sons who preceded her in death: William, Elden and Olester.

May she rest in peace, until we meet again.

Sedgwick Research's Thomas Tolman Family History Site

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