JOHN HURD  1861-1945


This story is taken from accounts written by a son, Reuben and his wife, Eva Hurd,  Hattie Hurd Dayley, a daughter and Ruby Hurd Hansen, a granddaughter.

                John was the 5th child born to Martha and John Hurd in Middleton, Yorkshire, England on 12 Mar 1861.  He was just a few weeks old when the British 1861 census was taken.  At age 15 he settled in Brigham City with his family.

After his mother moved to Snowville, John served as chorister for the MIA for a time.   He became a carpenter by trade.  He helped build a third of the houses in Malad City, Idaho and about half of the houses in Snowville, Utah.   Since the Hurd and Babbitt Families were both living in Brigham City in 1880, John and Amelia might have met there but she would only have been 11 years old.  It is more likely that they met in Snowville since the Babbitts lived there between 1881-83 and then spent the next two years in the neighboring community of Stone. (It is also interesting to note that the Babbitt’s lived as neighbors to Arnold Goodliffe and his first wife, Mary, in that same census.) 

Amelia was very young and John thought she was the prettiest girl in town.  She was just barely 15 when they were married on 21 Apr 1884.  She was born 13 Apr 1869 in Brigham City, Utah.  She was the first daughter of Richard and Fidelia Chapman Babbitt. They started their married life in Snowville. Their first child, John James, was born just 10 days after Amelia's 16th birthday.  She was so glad to have him because he filled so many empty hours while her husband was at work.

               In 1886 they moved to Afton, Wyoming where John was employed in building houses.  They lived there for four years and it was there that they lost their three babies, first a set of twins and then two years later they buried another baby. (One of Reuben’s accounts mentions twins but another lists 3 separate births.)  

            They moved back to the Snowville area where they took up a farm about six miles north of town.  Reuben describes the home as “A little two room log house, which had a dirt roof and two outside doors.  One room had a floor in it and the other had a dirt floor.  The door between the two rooms was a quilt hung up.  We could always tell when the wind was blowing as the quilt would whip back and forth and in would come the dirt and the dust.” It was here that Martha was born.  She was six years younger than John James.  Reuben and Rosetta were also born in Snowville.  They lived there for 5 years.  Hattie was born in Malad, Idaho in 1896.

           John provided well for his family but he didn't treat them very well.  He seemed to be jealous so he always moved his family way out away from everybody and everything.  They came into town only when the babies were born.  He wouldn't let the children go to school.  He said he didn't want his children to be "educated fools".  Amelia spent many hours teaching her oldest son to read and write from the Bible.  John was only a small man, being about 4' 11" tall and he had a very quick temper.  One day when he caught John James playing the violin he grabbed it and broke it all to pieces and said that he didn't want John wasting time with that thing.  John James always remembered this because his Grandfather Babbitt, a violinmaker, had made it for him and he loved music and his violin. 

It is not clear just when John decided to move the family to Cardston, Canada where his brother, Albert and Wego, a brother-in-law had moved with their families.  (John Hurd family version)  It is certain that Albert, Wego and families moved the summer of 1898.  Their family’s account is that John and family had gone prior to this.  Reuben did state that he was 5 when they made the trip.  He turned 5 in October of 1897 so it could be possible that they made the journey earlier that same summer of 1898. They might have left Snowville first.  With all their belongings in two wagons they made the journey.  John drove the lead wagon and John James, the other.  Reuben said that he always rode in the wagon driven by “Johnnie”, his brother.  He remembers spending the first night of the trip at Grandma and Grandpa Babbitt’s home in Malad.

Reuben wrote,  “I remember camping at Horse Prairie.  We stayed a month.  Dad and John James got a job working putting up hay on a big hay ranch.  While we were there one of our horses died, so Dad bought another horse from the man he worked for.  The morning we were ready to leave the horse wasn’t.  Try as Dad could, the horse wouldn’t move.  Dad finally gave the horse the ‘hot treatment.’  We had baked some potatoes on our campfire and there was one left.  Dad got the hot potato from the fire; gently raised the horse’s tail and placed the potato under it.  The horse clamped his tail down and immediately changed his mind about going.  Away we went, wagon and all.

“We camped on the bank of the Milk River.  Here the water looked like milk.  There were so many white rocks in the bottom of the stream that the water looked white.

“To cross the border into Canada, we had to cross St. Mary’s River.  There was no bridge there so the outfits had to ford the river.  To do this, logs had to be secured to each side of the wagons so the wagons would float and keep from sinking.  There was a pile of logs on each side of the river for this purpose.  Although Johnnie was just a boy, he drove the wagon safely across.”

They first rented and lived in a house in Cardston.  Later, John rented a farm north of town.  Reuben wrote that it was another 2-room house.  He said his youngest brother was born while they lived on this ranch.  This is also where they were residing when the Canadian census was taken on 17 Jan 1901. 

Reuben had a vivid memory of washdays.  “I will always remember the ‘water parade’.  All the water used at the house was carried from a spring around the side hill one half mile from the house.  The day before washday most of the day was spent carrying water.  The washing was done the hard way, on the washboard.

“In the summer we used to gather wild strawberries that were grown among the meadow hay.  Mother would bottle and make preserves of some of them for winter’s use.  Fruit was very scarce.  The folks used to buy a few apples occasionally.  One apple was always divided 5 ways for us kids. The farm was mostly meadow grass hay, although Dad used to raise some grain and had a small garden.  The turnips grew as large as any I have ever seen and still tasted good.  They got as large as milk pans.  We also had pigs, chickens, geese and milk cows.  So our living was about the same as all farm families in those days.  It was here that I got to taste wild geese.  They were plentiful.  Dad also helped dig wells for other people.

“We were so far out of town that we never got to school.  Winters were severe.  One winter a storm came up and drifted 32 head of cattle over.  They all suffocated.  We had some snow!”

John was quite abusive to Amelia at times, so when John James got a little older he would take his dad down and sit on him until his temper cooled down.  John would also leave home and not bother to tell Amelia where he was going or when to expect him to return.  All these things were a real disappointment to her.  Things were getting to a point that Amelia could no longer tolerate. 

Here the two accounts differ.  Ruby stated that John James brought his mom and five younger brothers and sisters back by wagon to their Grandpa Babbitt's in Malad City, Idaho.  The church in Canada helped outfit their wagon with food and other supplies for the journey.  It may be that both accounts are right.  The Anderson family in Canada told me that at that time the train would have ended in Shelby, Montana.

            Reuben states that in the spring of 1901, during one of his father’s absences, his mother sold all of their furniture to get enough money for tickets to travel by train to Idaho.  She was 25 dollars short so the storekeeper gave her that amount.  Amelia had packed all their clothes and keepsakes in a trunk that apparently got lost in Butte, Montana so they arrived at her folks place with only the clothes they had on their backs and whatever they may have been carrying.  Imagine John’s surprise when he returned to the farm and found his family gone!  They stayed with Amelia’s parents for about a year.  Babbitts lived 7 miles from Malad in an area called Devils Creek.  Hattie wrote that her mother worked as a cook on a cattle ranch that first summer that they were in Malad.  She also stated that they rented a house in Malad that winter.

           Amelia took in washing, ironing and sewing to support her family.  John James went to work herding sheep to help his mother.  They put the younger kids in school.  Amelia's younger sister, Anna, stayed with her and helped with the children and kept her company.  This only lasted about a year because Anna got married.  Anna said that Amelia was a hard worker.  She worked late into the night and that is partly what brought on her death, 6 Aug 1907.  John James said that his mother was always so kind and gentle to her family.  She always wanted her children to go to school and she was quite artistic.  She had a deep feeling for her religion even though she didn't have much opportunity to go and even though they moved a lot his mother had a knack for fixing up the house and making it a real home.  She died at the age of 38 from typhoid fever. Hattie spoke of her mother in the same manner; “Mother passed away when I was nine.  I remember her as always sweet and smiling at us, giving us lots of love.  I know she worked hard at all times.”

            From the time they left Canada, the family never saw or heard from their dad until 5 years later when their mother died.  The day before the funeral John came into the house and raised the sheet and looked at Amelia and then he turned around and left.  He didn't attend the funeral.  John James and his Grandpa and Grandma Babbitt had paid all the expenses of the funeral and did what they could to keep the kids in school. Hattie helps us understand how this was accomplished when she wrote, “I lived with an uncle and aunt for a time and later (at ten years of age) I lived with Mrs. Eva Richens who had several men boarding there.  I took care of her 2-year-old son and went to school in the winter.  I also learned to scrub floors, wash dishes and make beds.”  When their Grandma Babbitt died just 2 years later, John James became responsible for his younger brothers and sisters.  The extended family helped.  Hattie said that she would have loved to go to high school but needed to work. 

            Another difference in accounts is noted when Reuben writes that his father visited them 3 years after they left Canada and that he attended his mother’s funeral.  He wrote that after staying with their Babbitt Grandparents for a time they moved to Portage, Utah where he got his first schooling.  From there it was back to Malad where they lived for 2 or 3 years. 

“Mother sewed for a living with what little help John and I could do to help out.  I chopped wood for neighbors, sometimes I got vegetables, sometimes I got a little money, sometimes nothing.  A lot of our meals were bread and water gravy.  Mother tried out the fat of the pig heads for the grease, so sometimes we had grease and flour browned and spread on our bread instead of butter.  The only butter we ever saw was some that Grandmother Babbitt would bring us after she churned and came to town on business.  We surely enjoyed the butter.”

               John married Cornelia Wood Kelley on 3 Oct 1907 in Brigham City.  She had eleven children and had been recently widowed when her husband collapsed while working on a dugout in Holbrook.  John gave his residence as Snowville.  N.J. Valentine married them.  They lived in Utah when their son Leonard F. was born in 1908.  They moved to Nampa and that is where I found the family on 18 Apr 1910.  John and Cornelia’s oldest son Henry were both doing odd jobs.  John was 49 and Cornelia 36.  All of the children were living with them except Cornelia’s oldest daughter, Eleanor, who had married Lorenzo Hurd, a nephew to John, just 3 months after her mom had married John. 

The family was in Holbrook, Idaho when their little daughter, Lula, died from pneumonia.  She was just 2 months old.  John and Cornelia later divorced though I don’t know just when this occurred. Cornelia was married to Reece Shirts on 23 Oct 1914. (It is interesting to note that Reuben knew nothing of his father’s second marriage until after his death.  He said that his father never spoke of his past.)


It was another 7 years before John James saw his father again.  He came to his home in Pocatello, Idaho in 1913.  John wanted to take his youngest son, Alvin, who was about 15 at the time, with him.  Alvin didn't want to go so John James refused to let him go.   Reuben writes that his father lived in the Hagerman area for about 15 years.  He worked for a man named Ed Thompson.   I found record of John in the 1920 LDS census.   He was a member of the Hagerman Branch, Blaine Idaho Stake. 


John wrote a letter and sent a picture of himself to John James, who was living in Arco, Idaho at the time.  Three years later he wrote and asked John James to move his family to Hagerman, which they did for three years.  During that time they had family get-togethers to celebrate John James’ birthday.  At these family parties John really seemed happy to be near the family and he was good to his grandkids, telling them stories and giving them candy.                                                                     

  Until he was quite old, John continued to do carpentry work.  In his later years he would go stay with each of his children. Reuben wrote that at one time his father was staying with his sister, Martha, in Glenns Ferry.  He took a trip to Elba to visit Reuben’s family for a few days.  He found out that Reuben did not have a car so when he got back to Glenns Ferry he sent him a 1917 Ford pickup.  It had a homemade bed and one seat and no cover but Reuben really appreciated the gift and made good use of it.   

John’s granddaughter, Ruby, said that they used to quite enjoy his stays at their house.  She thought that in his later years he regretted the way he had treated his family.  When John James almost died from a broken appendix, John told Ruby's mother, Ida, not to worry. He would take care of the family if John James died.  He said it would only be fair that he should, because John James had raised his family.

            Ruby remembered that he always had a cane and when he wanted one of the kids; he'd reach out and hook them by the leg and that usually stopped them until they found out what he wanted.  Her Grandpa spoke Old English quite a bit.  One time when they were making donuts, her sister, Opal, dropped the fork into the hot grease.  She was wondering how she would get it out when grandpa came in.  He asked what all the excitement was about and when she told him he reached right in the hot grease and took the fork out.  All of us kids were so surprised!  Grandpa said, "Oh that wasn't 'ot.  Why I could carry that all the way to 'agerman!"  We found out that he had no feeling in his right hand because that arm had been broken 13 times.  

           One day John and his son Alvin arrived in Elba.  Rueben said that, “This time he brought his trunk, all his carpenter tools and all his possessions.  He had been living with the Sorensen Family in Glenns Ferry.  When Martha’s husband, Pete, decided to take a job in California they invited her dad to come along but he opted to have his son Alvin drive him to Elba.  He lived with Reuben’s family the rest of his life, which was about 4 years.  

                During that time he took it upon himself to split the wood that was used in the cook stove.  He worked at it almost everyday as the weather permitted.  On his birthday Eva, Reuben’s wife, made a nice meal to celebrate the occasion.  She had invited her parents and Rosetta’s husband and two sons.  When the company arrived John was out splitting wood.  They couldn’t get him to leave his task until the dinner was ready and just as soon as he finished his meal he jumped up to head back outside to his task.  Eva said, ‘Grandpa, today is your birthday and you have company.’  He said, ‘Hell yes, and I’ve got work to do!’ and away he went.


“Reuben’s boys got a kick out of watching their Grandpa eat.  He used his knife instead of a fork or spoon.  They were impressed that he could balance more peas or beans on his knife than most people could on a spoon and he never spilled any!

            “In Elba there was a picture show one night a week at the church house for all the community who wanted to attend.  Grandpa Hurd never missed a show.  If he got ready before the rest of the family he would grab his cane and start walking to the church.”

John remained active and was able to get around right up to the last.  He had a stroke and only lived three days after that.  He was 84 years 7 months and 3 days old.  He had 33 grandchildren (29 living), 11 great grandchildren, a brother, Fred, and 5 living children.  He was buried in Elba Cemetery on 19 Oct 1945. 




John and Amelia's Family:

                                                            1.   John James                      23 Apr 1885 - 9 Jan 1960

                                                            2.   Eliza Ann                          abt 1887 or 8

                                                            3.   William W.                        abt. 1887 or 8

                                                            4.   Clarence                           abt 1889 - 1889

                                                            5.   Martha Elizabeth             26 Jul 1890 - 5 Nov 1972

                                                            6.   Joseph Reuben                24 Oct 1892 - 7 Aug 1979

                                                            7.   Azuba Rosetta                  22 Dec 1894 - 30 Oct 1917

                                                            8.   Hattie Fidelia                   29 Dec 1897 - 18 Dec 1991

                                                            9.   Richard Alvin                   12 Nov 1899 - 16 Apr 1977

  John and Cornelia's Family:

                        1.   Leonard                            1908

                                                            2.   Lula                                   25 Jun 1911 - 22 Aug 1911

Note:  I can’t find a death date or place for Leonard Hurd.  He was not with either parent in the 1920 census.  We need to find Leonard.