MARK HURD 1863-1936


Compiled from an account by Galand W. Nield, an article from the Star Valley Independent, a history given at Mark and Sarah’s 50th anniversary by Kate and Mary Anderson and a bit from Vienna Olson Conaway

Mark was the 6th child born to Martha and John Hurd in Middleton, Yorkshire, England on 20 Apr 1863.  Vienna wrote the following about Marks youth.  “In England, when Mark was 8 years old he worked at the match factory.  Later he worked in a factory where clothes were woven and made up.  It was his job to throw the shuttle carrying the thread between the warp and then go to the other side and throw it back again.”

“Mark was 13 when he came to Utah.  He was 17 when he moved to Snowville with some of his family.  Prior to this he had worked on the farm and done other odd jobs. Mark met his first wife, Sarah Ann Green when her family moved to Snowville about 3 years later.  She was a tall slender girl and though Mark was very short (about 4'10”) she thought him to be unusually nice. According to Vienna, “Mark had brown hair and deep blue eyes.  When Sarah accepted his proposal he went to work in a sawmill east of Brigham City to earn a wedding stake.”

 They were married 6 Dec 1883 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.  Their first home together was in Snowville.  After 3 years of marriage, Mark decided "If one Green could be so nice, then two would be nicer still", so with the consent of Sarah he married her sister Elizabeth Green on 20 Jan 1886 in the Logan Temple.   Elizabeth's only surviving child was Charles Arnold Hurd.  He was born 6 Oct 1886 in Snowville.

In 1887 Mark and his two families, along with his mother-in-law, decided to move to Star Valley in the western mountains of Wyoming.  [Mary Ann Francis Green, Sarah and Elizabeth's mother, had recently become a widow.  She took her 5 youngest children ranging in age from 1 and one half years to 12 years with her.]  At that time there were no roads from Montpelier to Star Valley.  It took them 7 hard days driving the team to come the last 50 miles into Star Valley.  They had to follow Crow Creek and it was necessary to cross the stream 21 times!

Their first home in Star Valley was located on the south side of Swift Creek in Afton.  It was a one-room cabin with a dirt roof owned by George Sant.  The floor joists had been laid, but the floor had not been put in.  They had to walk from one joist to the other as they went about.  A kind neighbor gave them hay enough to fill between the joists.  They then spread a carpet over the hay, which made it much more comfortable for a while.  Eventually the hay settled and they were back to square one again so they removed the joists and had a dirt floor.

            During that first winter in Star Valley they were well supplied with food and clothing as Mark had spent all he received from the sale of his place in Snowville on supplies, except for 50 cents.  That was the only   money they saw that year.

            There were no stores in the valley at that time; hence there was no place to buy coal oil for their lamps.  When it became too dark to work, they would open the front of the stove and sit in the light of the fire and sing the evening away.  In fact, they sang the winter away. Elizabeth sang soprano, Sarah the alto with Mark adding the tenor.  Mark would set the pitch with his tuning fork and later he was able to set the pitch just by looking at the music


Their singing soon attracted the attention of their neighbors and the very first Sunday after their arrival Mark was chosen as choir leader.  He held this position for 28 years, and had a good active choir.  Among the youthful memories of a good many people of Star Valley was seeing little Brother Mark standing between those two tall wives singing in public places.

They built a two-room log house on a lot in 1889 and later Mark bought the ajoining lot and Sarah lived there.  She opened her home to the sick and also acted as nurse for the midwife who delivered many babies during those early years in the valley. 


Winters were long and hard in Star Valley.  At first there were no fences.  In winter when the women wanted to visit their mother or friends in Grover, they would start out early in the morning with their babies in hand sleds and walk on the crust all the way.  They would spend the night in Grover and return early the next day.   








No history of Star Valley will ever be written without the name of Kingston and Hurd being listed among the early prominent businessmen.  Most of the families had cows.  Kingston and Hurd conceived the idea of buying the cream and butter.  They did this in exchange for goods at their store that was located at the corner of Washington and 5th.  Sister Hurd made much of the cream into butter and some was taken to Sister Thompson to be made up.  It was then taken to Salt Lake and some to Rock Springs.  This was the first to be circulated in the valley.

Built in the late 1890’s, the store was a landmark in Afton for many years.  After a few years, George Osmond, president of the Star Valley Stake, bought Mr. Kingston’s interests, and the business name was changed from Kingston and Hurd to Osmond and Hurd.  A general store occupied the ground floor, and a dance hall was on the upper floor.  The upper floor later housed a telephone exchange and a roller skating rink.  Ed Lewis operated a store there when this photo was taken.  Mark later sold the store and it served many uses for different businesses through the years until it was torn down about 1938. 

            Mark had a contract for carrying the mail for several years.  He also had the job of reading the meters for the first power company in Afton.  In the winters this was a very tough job for him.   The snow was so deep and his legs so short that it was extremely difficult to get around.  He always said, "They ought to pass a law limiting the depth of snow in winter."

The Hurd home was located on the northwest corner of 3rd and Monroe.  Mark owned almost the entire block to the south.  All of their families used to plant potatoes each summer on the south block.  The grandkids always helped with the planting.  Each can vividly remember those long, long rows of potatoes.  The families always had plenty of potatoes to get them through the winter and with enough left over for seed the next year.


 Mark purchased a ranch in Grover, 7 miles from Afton about 1896.  Some of the money used to buy the place came from an inheritance left to Sarah and Elizabeth when an uncle died.  Sarah and her family lived there in the summer but would winter in Afton so the children could attend school.  At the ranch Sarah churned and made butter that they sold. 

            Elizabeth purchased an organ with some of the money.  She learned to play and thus passed many pleasant hours at the organ.  She also loved to grow flowers in her garden.   





             On 21 February 1905 she gave birth to her 6th child, a little daughter. Little 3-day-old Elizabeth died, as did Elizabeth the following day.   Mother and child were buried together in Afton.  This was a great sorrow to the family.  

When their son, Mahonri, got a place of his own, Mark and Sarah moved back to the Grover ranch.  They planned to live out the rest of their lives there.  Mark was still the stake choir leader at this time.  Many, many times he would arise early in the morning and walk through the snow and fog to take care of his choir duties in Afton.  

In 1928 Mark’s son Arnold met with a crisis when his wife died from complications of childbirth leaving a 5-day-old baby in need of a mother.  Sarah lovingly took little Virginia in and cared for her until she was old enough to go to school and back with her dad and siblings.


Mark and Sarah celebrated 50 years of marriage on 6 Dec 1933.   At that time they were the parents of 7 children, 30 grandchildren and 11 great grandkids.  A nice dinner, program, community sing along and dance made this a memorable event for all who attended.   Sarah, who was well known for her cakes, made and decorated the cake for this occasion with a golden wedding bell at the top and dainty butterflies and swans on the sides.  It was quite a work of art and tasted as delicious as it looked.

Perhaps no death in this valley so shocked and saddened the people, as did the tragic death of Mark Hurd.  It occurred Saturday morning, 15 Aug 1936, when his team ran away with him while on the mowing machine.



        Mark Hurd was a lover of music.  "Without a song the day could never end" was his motto for life and his purpose for living was that of lightening the task of his neighbors and gladdening their hearts with his songs and music.  One time at a meeting Mark was asked to speak.  He opened his songbook, sang a song and then sat down.  This was the only kind of sermon he ever preached.

Sarah spent the rest of her life in Grover and Auburn  with her grown children who lived there.  She lived to be 85 years of age and will be fondly remembered for the service she gave to her church and community and how she cared for others. 

It is interesting to note that Sarah died on the exact same day as Elizabeth just 47 years later. At the time of her passing in 1952, she had 27 grandchildren, 76 great grandchildren and 4 great great grandchildren.      


Mark and Sarah's family:    

                                                           1.  Sarah Elizabeth                 30 Aug 1884 - 19 Jan 1974          

                                                           2.  Leah                                   27 Nov 1886 - 22 Jun 1955

                                                           3.  Mahonri Knighton            29 Jan 1889 - 7 Jan 1970

                                                           4.  Francis Alfonzo                 28 May 1892 - 6 Oct 1960

                                                           5.  Edith Lenora                     5 Feb 1896 - 12 Jan 1967

                                                           6.  Velma Rose                       22 Oct 1907 - 5 Nov 1907

                                                           7.  Serell Green                      9 Jun 1911 –


Mark and Elizabeth's family:

                                                            1.  Charles Arnold                  6 Oct 1886 - 21 Jul 1979

                                                            2.  Luella                                 26 Sep 1888 - 19 Jan 1889  

                                                            3.  Edgar                                 27 Feb 1890 - 27 Feb 1890                                     

                                                            4.  Albert                                 27 Feb 1890 - 6 Mar 1890

                                                            5.  William Hurd                     9 May 1891 - 9 May 1891

                                                            6.  Elizabeth                            21 Feb 1905 - 24 Feb 1905   


           Dorthy Hurd Merritt sent this photo to me.  She said that this is the way she remembers her Grandpa Hurd.  She was born at their ranch in Grover and has many fond memories of her grandparents. They were beautiful singers.  She also gave me a quote from a history written about Star Valley, which said, "The Stake Tabernacle as it was originally built was dedicated the 15 Aug 1909, by church president, Joseph Fielding Smith.  Mark Hurd, Thomas F. Burton and Richard Astle were appointed as a committee to obtain the organ for it.”  Mark Hurd was stake chorister for 30 years.


            Mark’s eldest child, Sarah E. Dixon passed this coin purse on to her son, Verl, who gave it to his son Neal.  The story that has also passed down through the Dixon Family is that this coin purse with the silver dollar inside it was in Mark’s pocket on the day of his accidental death.  Neal shared this photo with us.


The Accident That Took My Grandpa Hurd’s Life  by Dorthy Hurd Merritt from an interview with Serell Hurd

Serell had mowed hay for 2 or 3 days before this fateful day.  He worked at the Creamery when he could. They had called him to come to work that day and he told them he couldn't because he was haying.  Grandpa told him he had enough cut down for a while until they could get some of it put up and for him to go on to work.

Serell said he probably hadn't been gone 10 minutes until Grandpa had hitched the team to the mower. One of the horses in this team was very hard to handle.  Serell said he could never understand why Grandpa had hooked up that team.

Grandpa was down in the meadow mowing along a ditch and they thought he might have run over a board that flew up and scared the horses and caused them to run away. Then the pitman arm had broken and flew up and hit him in the head.

Sometime after Grandpa had been thrown from the mower the team ran back to the gate.  Dean Moser from Auburn had come along and seen them [the horses] and had taken word to the family.

I asked Serell how they got him [Mark] home and he said Dick Hokanson was down there somewhere loading or unloading gravel and he believed they laid him on his truck. He said that wasn’t very clear to him because he was trying to console his mother, Sarah, and that was an impossibility.

[It was] a very, very sad day to all of us.


My family and I had the pleasure of meeting Serell Hurd, the youngest son of Mark and Sarah Hurd at his home in Grover, Wyoming on 23 Aug 2002.  He is the last living grandchild of John and Martha Hurd.  At the age of 91 years old he gets around very well.  He told me that he doesn’t do housework or cooking!  A neighbor kindly brings him a plate of home cooking each day.  He was cheerful and fun to visit with.  I asked his permission to include his photo in our book since he personally knew most of his aunts and uncles.  He was fine with that idea.  He doesn’t care much for genealogy but his wife had been more involved in that sort of thing. 

            He is proud of his father and mentioned his talent for music.  He said that his father never had music lessons.  He remembered at his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary party that his Uncle William, who was a religious person, asked for some water to drink.  Uncle Fred, who was not religious at that time, brought him some water in a pink glass.  He teased William and told him that they had added something to fancy up his water a little!  William refused the water and would not take a drink after that!

Uncle Fred told Serell that getting the photo of John (Fred’s father) was no simple task.  He kept getting up or would move before the photographer could snap his picture.    From that little story I conclude that we are very fortunate to have a picture of John Hurd!

Dorthy Merritt wrote (2005) that Serell decided to stay put in Grover this past winter.  In previous years he had stayed the winters with his sons and their families.  When Dorthy and her husband dropped by to visit Serell recently they found him with the plow hooked to the tractor and he was getting ready to go to work.  He had just turned 94!  Dorthy said, "What a man!"