Robert Moroni Michie

Born 11 Nov 1861, Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, United States
Died 23 Feb 1912, Tabiona, Duchesne, Utah, United States

Son of Robert and Frances POTTS MICHIE
Husband of Elena Dorothy LAMBERT

Robert Moroni MICHIE, about 1910

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Robert Moroni Michie, My Father

written by

Myrtle Lizetta Michie Wilcken

My father, Robert Moroni Michie, was born 11 November 1861, in Salt Lake City, Utah, son of Robert Michie, who was born in Rubislaw, [Aberdeenshire,] Scotland, and Frances Potts, who was born in Barton, [Kent,] England.

Father was the third child, but first son, and was born shortly after his parents arrived in Salt Lake City, after crossing the plains by ox team in the year 1861. His parents first lived at Sugar House. They moved several places and finally settled in Heber where his father ran the first grist mill, he having learned that trade when a young man in Scotland. Later his father took up a homestead in Woodland, Summit County, where he engaged in Farming. It was while living here he met my mother, Elena Dorothy Lambert, who lived in Kamas, about seven miles northwest of Woodland. The Michie place was on the Provo River. Later the Michie family moved back to Heber and his father engaged in milling again assisted by father. Heber was 18 or 20 miles from Kamas so it was a long way to go in that day to see his best girl. They kept company for six years before they finally married.

This event took place in the Logan [LDS] Temple on the 7th day of January 1886, as the Salt Lake [LDS] Temple was not yet completed. It was a double wedding. Mother's brother Joseph married father's sister Alice at the same time. Two wedding receptions were given in their honor, one at mother's home in Kamas, the other at father's home in Heber. All friends and relatives attended and many useful and lovely gifts were received.

One event that transpired during their courting days I've heard my mother relate was this: A dance was given at Kamas on Valentine's Day, or evening. Father had gone to Kamas to take mother to the dance. She said that old "Hen" (Henry) Walker was furnishing the music. He was a wonderful old-time fiddler who always played by ear, but he had music in his soul and often improvised music for a waltz. People from all around came to the dance when they heard Mr. Walker would be there. He always called for the qualdrille, French Four, etc. They all had a wonderful time.

It was snowing but not very cold. At about 2:00 a.m. the wind started up and [the storm] soon developed into a terrible blizzard. Usually they danced till daylight. This time they closed [early] so people could get home. They had walked from mother's place.

When they started home the blizzard was so fierce it was almost impossible to face it. Father carried a lantern, he had to hold it under his overcoat to keep the wind from blowing it out. The road was filled with snow, so sign of a trail. Father went first, mother walking close behind in his tracks, even then she could hardly wade through the snow which was knee deep. She said she never was so tired in her life and thought she couldn't have taken another step if it was to save her life when they finally got home. Her mother was up and had a hot fire for them to get warm by. She had been worried and prayed for their safe return. Some boys got lost and took refuge in an old log cabin till day light and were nearly frozen.

Mother said they usually danced till day-light. Shortly after midnight they would go home, cook a big supper of fried beef steaks, mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits with plenty of butter, etc., eat a hearty meal and then return and dance till morning.

At this Valentine dance, mother received a beautiful valentine from father. (Each young man brought a valentine for his sweetheart.) [While they were] going home that night in the blizzard, the wind snapped up mother's valentine and blew it away. The next spring when the snow melted it was found. Mother was sorry to lose her lovely valentine, they were so precious in those days, and then father had given it to her which added to its worth, but they were too thankful to get home safe to worry about a valentine.

Father had but very little schooling, but he liked to read and became fairly well educated, especially in the gospel. He had a good memory and could relate a story read or heard in a very interesting way. He was a Sunday School teacher and a good one. For years he was a ward teacher and very faithful in his calling.

I well remember one day in spring, he came into the house and said he should go ward teaching but there was so much to do he wondered if it would be wise to go. He said to Mother, "What shall I do?" She said, "Suit yourself, you know what's right." "Yes," he said. "The Lord says, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added to you." "That's right," said mother. He went teaching. Father had great faith and was often called upon to administer to the sick.

The Bishop, who was my mother's brother, Ephraim Lambert, often called on father to visit certain families to settle difficulties or ease heartaches and bad feelings, etc. He always eventually succeeded. This same uncle once said of him, "You could travel thousands of miles and meet thousands of people and you wouldn't find one who would equal him."

Father and Mother began house keeping in a log cabin on part of the homestead belonging to his father in Woodland. He later secured the land for himself. He built a new two story house which they moved into when their third child, Genevieve, was a baby. All eight [of] the rest of the [eleven] children were born in this house. They lived in the Woodland Ward, Summit Stake, Utah. All [the children in] the family were blessed here and all but three were baptized in the Provo River.

In looking back I realize we had a wonderful home life. We were very happy. Father was so kind to us and to all children. In his spare time he often made playthings for us when he could have been enjoying a good book. He was the most unselfish person I've ever known. I think he was one man who truly loved his neighbor as himself.

On long winter evenings mother allowed us to play games in the house, such as Hide and Seek, Blind-man's Bluff, Frog in the Meadow, Here comes three Old Irishmen seeking for a trade, Pussy wants a corner, and many others. Father often played with us or looked on and seemed to take an interest in what we were doing. It was much more fun when he did this. We built houses of sticks father cut for us, and went sleigh riding on a hand sled father built for us. What fun we had with our sled early in the spring when the snow was crusted over. We would climb a hill near our place and coast clear down to the road in front of our house. We [children] had to get the wood in at night but if the weather was very stormy and cold Father did it for us.

Christmas was the day of days. We knew Old Santa would be sure to come for he always had made his visit. We got so much joy from helping Mother clean the house and do the cooking to get ready for Santa Claus. We usually hung our stocking on the back of chairs, placed in a row in the center of the large living room. Things too large for our stockings were put on the chair. Some times we had a beautiful Christmas tree.

Christmas morning we always woke early. My sister would whisper, "I wonder if Santa Claus came." "Don't know," I said. "Sneak out of bed and feel the stockings," she said. I being on the side of the bed nearest the stockings quietly stepped out of bed and gingerly reached out to feel the stockings, sure enough they were stuffed. Yes, Old Santa had come. Quickly my other two sisters climbed out to make sure there was no mistake.

Then we ran to the bedroom shouting, "Pa, Pa, wake up! Make a light! Old Santa Clause has come!" Father would say, "What?" We would repeat it. "Well, well, well! For the Land's sake! Are you sure he came?" "Yes, sure," we said. Father meanwhile was out of bed pulling on his trousers and lighting the lamp. We followed or ran ahead to show him the wonders and prove the fact. Father stood and gazed in pretended surprise and wonderment as he said, "Sure enough, he has been here, that silly old man!" "No, he ain't silly. He's a nice old man," we said. He had teased us by saying Santa would bring us a pig's ear and a stick. Father shoved us back into bed while he built the fire and it got warm enough so we could inspect the wonderful things Old Santa had left us. By this time Mother would be up and dressed and we would show her all the lovely things.

We girls often got a fascinator (a combination scarf and hood) to wear to Sunday School, also new ribbons for our hair. Each got one nice toy and a story book and all got candy and nuts. We were too excited to eat much breakfast, and mother was busy getting us ready to go to the childrens' dance. We always had a new dress for Christmas. These were worn for all occasions, dances, parties, and Sunday best all winter and until warm weather came.

Christmas Day everybody came out. All parents danced with their children and taught them how to dance. Sometimes we went to Grandma Michie's house for Christmas dinner, where all the family were assembled and we had much fun playing with our cousins and feasting on the good things Grandma cooked, including English plum pudding. In the evening at home Father would read stories to us from our new story books after the chores were done. These were indeed happy times.

Father owned a set of sleigh bells which were the largest, nicest sounding of any I have ever heard. It was such fun to go sleigh riding on the way to Sunday School. We girls didn't like it at all when Uncle Will, father's younger brother borrowed the bells when he took his best girl for a sleigh ride.

Father helped build a small school house where we three oldest sisters first went to school, ages ten, eight and six [about 1896]. The next year we rode three miles to school. Father furnished the sleigh (he built it himself) and our neighbors, the Coes [father's cousin, Rosina], furnished and drove the horses. The following year we were transferred to a school across the river which was much nearer. Father took great interest in what we were learning in school and often helped us with our lessons, gave out words for us to spell and helped us with our arithmetic. Mother also helped us when she could find time.

We were often after him to make something for us. Through the years we collected a cupboard, table, chairs, bedstead, and other things. When mother was busy he tucked us into bed and heard us say our prayers. We were punished, too, when we had been bad. We were never allowed to "sass" or speak disrespectfully of anyone or say bad words. Father always had us all gather around the breakfast table for family prayers, and again at supper time prayers were said. As we children grew older, we, too, took part in family prayer.

Father was a good farmer and always raised a fine garden which was an important part of our living. He did all his own carpenter work, also his own blacksmithing, like shoeing his own horses, setting tires on the wagon or sharpening his plow point, and repairing broken machinery. His friends and neighbors often came for his help in these emergencies. He never said no. He also repaired and re-soled our shoes. In the winter when he couldn't farm, he often went to work in the timber, cutting logs for a sawmill and hauling lumber to Park City.

Whenever he went to Kamas with a grist of wheat for flour, or to do some shopping, he called at the neighbors and his Mother's place and asked, "Do you want anything from the store today?" They usually did. He put himself out to get these items and delivered it to them on his way home. I think it could be truly said of him [that] he loved his neighbor as himself.

He owned a binder and cut grain for all the neighbors and many who lived some distance away. When a fire burned the binder along with the barn, sheds, corral, also a set of harnesses, friends and neighbors took up a donation for him. He bought a new binder and harness. He used this binder up until the time he died.

Father loved music and was a fairly good singer. He could learn a new song very quickly and would teach the new songs to us girls. The three of us [Eugenia, Myrtle and Genevieve] sang together when very young. At one time he had a violin and his Uncle gave him an accordion. He could play either one very nicely.

Father was a poor man as far as money was concerned. He could have had much more, but he always shared with others and would never over-charge for work he did. If he butchered a pig or beef, he gave the choice cuts to his mother and two sisters [Agnes and Christiane] who lived in the same ward, also to his neighbors. Mother once said to him, "I think you think more of your neighbors than you do of your own children." He would say, "I can't sit down and enjoy eating knowing others haven't got as good as we have."

Father was a man who never swore, never smoked or drank. I remember shortly before Christmas one time, he had gone to Park City with a load of lumber. The company wanted to treat everybody. The store clerk offered him an [alcoholic] drink. "No, thank you, I never drink," he said. Then this man said, "Here, have a cigar." "No, thank you, I don't smoke," he said. "Well, what will you have then? Will you have some candy?" "Yes," said father, "I'll take some candy." This clerk said, "I sure admire a man like that." He brought a big sack of candy home and we had a real treat.

One winter one of our girl friends got the Smallpox. Practically all the young folk in the ward were exposed as her family thought it was only Chicken Pox. My older sister [Eugenia] took sick first and later our whole family got them. Fortunately, mother got a remedy from an old doctor book we had which did a lot of good. I was one of the fortunate ones who started taking this remedy shortly after I began to feel sick. I and some of the others never broke out in big pox, just a few pimples which soon disappeared.

Our neighbors, (the Sizemores) were sick about the same time, and of course we and they, too, were quarantined. We were allowed to visit back and forth when all were on the road to recovery. We had such good times together. While Mr. Sizemore was down, father had all the chores to do at both places. He milked cows, fed and watered stock, chopped and carried in wood, carried water, and took care of the chickens and pigs. Needless to say, he was a very busy man.

About the next winter, early one morning in February, the Sizemore's house caught fire. We had been to a dance and were awakened by hearing someone calling. We girls slept upstairs. We got up and looked out the east window and saw a huge blaze on the roof of their house.

We called to Mother and she woke father. He hurriedly dressed, jumped on a horse and waded through deep snow one-fourth mile to the scene. We girls also dressed as quickly as we could and walked over. By then there was nothing left of the house but smouldering ruins.

The family were sitting on top of some bedding that had been salvaged and had quilts wrapped around them to keep warm. Father had gone back home and soon came with a team and sleigh and took the whole family home to stay with us. Mother had breakfast ready for us all.

Father had some bad burns on his face and his hands as he had tried to save the sewing machine. He did, but the ceiling paper fell down on top of him on his way out, yet he was glad he saved the sewing machine.

People were all so kind. They took turns taking care of this family. There was an old abondoned school house about three miles above our home. The whole community joined in a project to get this house moved down for the Sizemores to live in. The snow was deep. All men and boys who had a horse to ride came and rode through the fields breaking trails and taking down fences where needed. They were followed by men driving teams hitched to sleighs up to the house and back again. The next day a man drove a [sleigh] slowly, [carrying] a small load of hay. Others drove a herd of sheep along behind [The sheep were] enticed by the hay. A trip up and back packed the snow down firm into a nice wide road. The next day about fifteen men with big strong teams of horses moved the house down and set it up. Donations from everybody made it possible for this family to begin housekeeping right away.

On one occasion, Father had been very ill for a week. Mother wasn't sure what his trouble was. There were no doctors available. Mother thought it was a real bad attack of grippe. Some thought it was Typhoid Fever. It was not unusual when father contracted a bad cold for a seige of grippe to set in. He would have high fever, splitting headache, backache and sick to the stomach. It would get him down for about three days.

It was spring, plowing and planting time, the time when many things on the farm needed to be done. Father got no better, [he] seemed if anything, to grow worse. The worry because of the neglected farm work didn't help his condition. Mother sent for the Elders to come and administer to him. Meantime she put him in a sweat, the most effective way she knew to break up a fever. At Father's request, she also called all the family to his bedside where they knelt and offered prayer in his behalf.

The Elders had prayer together at Uncle Eph's home before they came. The melting snow had turned the Provo river into a raging torrent. To get to our place on Bench Creek from the Woodland side of the river, where the Elders lived, they had to go two and a half miles up the valley to the only bridge, with no way of traveling only with horses. It took an hour or more for them to reach our place. When the Elders arrived, they held a prayer circle and administerd to Father. He seemed better when we kids went to bed.

At two o'clock in the morning, Mother said, the fever had left him and as she hadn't combed her hair for three days (hadn't had time), she sat on the foot of his bed combing her hair, All at once Father's face lighted up. He said, "I hear beautiful music. Do you hear it?" Mother said she didn't. Father said it was like someone playing the violin, every note distinct, sweet and clear, [and] that it sounded as though it were in the wall at his right. He said, "It is the music of the song, 'Do What is Right'." Mother asked, "Does our talking interfere?" Father answered, "Yes, it makes it sound farther away." Mother whispered, "Be still and listen. It is heavenly music sent to you to give you comfort and courage in this time of your great need." After a moment of quiet listening, father began to sing with the music and sang two verses of the song, "Do What is Right," then he fell asleep and slept soundly till late the next morning. The third day after this he was out plowing.

I never hear this song without thinking of this beautiful spiritual experience that meant so much to my Father. It has deepened the meaning of the words of this song to me and intensified the lovliness of its melody.

Father never had a music lesson in his life, but picked up melodies easily. He learned to play the violin and accordion by ear. He taught us three older girls a simple little step dance. As he played on the fiddle we would dance. Seems to me the tune he played was, "Juber Here and Juber There." What fun it was to dance! I still remember the step and I am now 66 years old, 1956.

Later in life, when we older girls were in our teens, we bought an organ, sent to Sears and Roebocks for it. It was really quite a grand instrument. I remember how thrilled the whole family were when it arrived.

(The following is from Genevieve's memories:)

"My sister Myrtle, just older than I, had a few lessons. We were very poor but Father somehow managed to pay for them. Myrtle really had music in her soul so it wasn't long before she could play the church hymns and could select chords to fit most any song. We often gathered around the organ and sang and when father had time, he would sing with us." (End)

In 1905, the [Uintah] Indian Reservation was opened for homesteading. Father and his younger brother, Uncle Will [William George], went out and took up claims. The next year they went out and did some work on their places. On April 2, 1907, father left for his new home. I and a younger sister, Preal, [who had] just turned sixteen, went with him. We had a sleigh loaded with baled hay, sacks of grain, a few cooking utensils and dishes, articles of clothing, bedding and groceries.

The snow was mostly gone near home, but there was [still] much snow in the mountains. This snow would get soft about ten a.m. and the horses would step off the beaten track and sink into the deep snow. They would have to be unhitched to get them back onto the road again. We had a hard trip; took three days to make the journey.

When we got down out of the snow we expected to transfer to a [waiting] wagon, but someone had taken the front end of the wagon and only the hind wheels were left. Father was very resourceful. He took his axe, chopped down a small tree and made a wagon tongue. With this makeshift cart we were able to take most of our load and went into town [Hannah]. [It was] a nice town, just laid out with about ten or twelve families living there. It took another day's travel down the Duchesne River Valley before we reached our homestead.

Right away father began plowing a piece of sage brush ground to plant a patch of wheat. Preal and I pulled and piled up brush ready for burning. We had many bonfires every night after supper. During our days work we collected many wood ticks, not only in our clothes, but also on our bodies. We spent some time hunting them before retiring for the night.

Later in the summer, Father brought mother and part of the family out for a short time. Mother had a new baby boy, which gave us all much joy. He was the third boy among eight girls, born June 30, 1907, and named Trevor. He was the eleventh and last child of the family. In the spring of 1908 Father moved his family to the new home.

Soon a Sunday School was organized and held in the homes of the people who had settled in the upper Duchesne valley along the river, a distance of about ten miles. The people hitched their horses to a wagon and took all their family to Sunday School. Arthur Maxwell was the first superintendent and father was his first counselor. Father had been handicapped for many years because of deafness. This hindered him for occupying positions of leadership in the church and civic affairs, but good leadership in worthy men was hard to find in this pioneering situation so father was prevailed upon to help out in spite of his lack of hearing.

Later, a branch was organized and Sunday School was held in an upstairs room of Hyrum Jones' home. This was a half mile up the valley from Father's home. I had married in November 1908 and we rode down to this building for Sunday School and meetings, also for dances and other entertainments. Day school was held in this building for two years.

The winter of 1908 and 1909 was an unusually severe one. The snow got so deep and the wind blew so much it was impossible to keep the road open, so father made snow shoes for the five school agers to go to school on. No meetings were held for some time on account of the weather.

After two years of school in the Hyrum Jones house, a school house was built in Tabiona (Tabby) which was also a church house. While waiting for the house to be completed, school was held in a large tent and my sister, Genevieve, was the teacher. Of course this was very inconvenient, but they managed during the fall months until the new building was ready.

A sorrow came into Father's home in October of 1910. The little boy [Trevor], the baby three and one half years old, died of typhoid fever or a ruptured appendix. (We were never sure which, as there was no doctor available.) Father and others selected a place for a cemetery and this little boy was the first to be buried there. It is now known as the Tabiona Cemetery and is used by all the settlers up and down the valley.

About 1911 a ward was organized with James S. Jones as bishop and my father as first counselor. He was set apart for this position by Apostle Orson F. Whitney who also suggested the name of the ward be changed from Tabby to Tabiona. Apostle Whitney was a poet, [and] he said the name Tabiona had a more musical sound.

Those who heard the blessing Apostle Whitney pronounced when setting Father apart said it was a marvelous blessing. Bishop Jones was a fine man and a close, dear friend to my father. He was a good fiddler and played for most all of the dances. Later on, a Mutual was organized in the Tabiona Ward. I was present on the occasion as I was staying with my parents while my husband was away to work.

On the 6th of February 1912 my father met with a fatal accident while working at a saw mill. [He was] helping to saw lumber to make some folding doors for a badly needed partition for the church house. He accidently stepped backwards into the sawdust pit striking his back on a two by four breaking some ribs which punctured his lungs.

They brought him home. He couldn't breathe lying down, he had to sit up all the time. He suffered terrible pain. No doctor was available. [The] nearest one [was] more than 30 miles away at Duchesne, and [there were] no telephones and no cars to go after him. Father said he didn't want a doctor. He said, "The Lord can heal me." The Elders came many times. Friends begged him to send for the doctor. He still said, "The Lord can heal me if he wants me to live, and the doctor can't."

On one occasion he prayed for himself. (At his funeral, Bishop Jones spoke of this prayer and said, "O, that I had it written in letters of gold." He also said, "I feel like I had lost my right arm.") After seventeen days of excruciating pain and suffering he passed away 23 February 1912. His last act was one of service to his church and thus to his fellowman and God.

People said of him, if there ever was an honest man, Robert M. Michie was that man. His brother-in-law said of him, "He is one man in a thousand. He was loved by all who knew him. He taught by example as well as by precept. He didn't have an enemy in the world."

If we, his children, can follow in his footsteps, we will certainly be exalted in the highest degree of glory in our Father's Kingdom.

Rob is buried in the Tabiona cemetery between the graves of his baby son, Trevor, and his wife, Elena.

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Written by Myrtle L. M. Wilcken, daughter of Robert M. Michie, [more than] 40 years after his death [1956].


Related Histories:

Elena Dorothy LAMBERT, wife

Robert MICHIE, father

Frances POTTS, mother


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