THE LIFE OF MARY VERENA BRYNER REDD compiled Jan. 2000, by Merne L. Livingstone from histories written by Verena’s daughters, Lura Redd, Jessie Ursenbach and Fern Laycock
Mary Verena Bryner did not know until she was a teenager that her name was not “Franey” as she was called by her family and friends, but “Verena.” In the Swiss dialect, spoken by her family, this is how it was pronounced.
She was the daughter of Hans Ulrich Bryner and Anna Maria Dorothea Mathys who were among the first converts to the church in Switzerland in 1854. They came to America as soon as they were able. Ulrich had been blinded in a butchering accident, so it was a difficult journey. They obtained a wagon and driver, and crossed the plains to Utah. Their company caught up with the ill-fated Martin-Willie handcart company, and joined up with them, getting caught in the terrible snowstorms we have all heard about. They arrived in Salt Lake City 24 Dec. 1856, going on to Lehi to join his brother and sister who had emigrated a year earlier. After a short time there, they moved to Ogden, then were called to settle in St. George, and moved to New Harmony just north of St. George a little later.
Franey was born there 3 March 1866.
Her oldest sister, Mary Magdalena who was born 23 June 1851 in Zurich, Switzerland, had died at the age of 12 from injuries sustained in an accident while crossing the plains.
Henry Gottfried was born 17 July 1853, and remained with his grandparents in Switzerland for a year after his parents emigrated, then came with his grandparents a year later.
Paulina was born in Oct 1855 in Zurich and died as a child.
Paulina Dorothea was born 2 Dec 1857 in Lehi, Utah.
Elizabeth Ann was born 30 May 1860 in Ogden, Utah.
Albert, born 5 Feb 1863 in St. George, Utah.
Casper Franklin, born 8 May 1870 at New Harmony, Utah.
We don’t know much about Verena’s childhood, but can assume that she did the same things as other children, washing dishes, weeding gardens, helping with the housework and the farm animals, etc. besides which the Bryner children had to learn to lead their blind father about and help him do his work. They always had to have the furniture in exactly the same place in the house, with nothing littering the floor, so that their father could walk around without bumping into things.
She had a little friend across the street, Caroline Redd, just a few days older than she. Franey’s mother helped Ulrich in the fields and orchards a lot of the time, and left the housework for Paulina and Elizabeth to do. Franey spent many happy hours at the Redd home, playing with Caroline and taking part in the “work bees” which Keziah Redd organized for her children and their friends. They learned to sew
quilt blocks, to knit and crochet, and to sew perfectly straight seams with the smallest stitches possible.
They even took their knitting with them when they went to play hopscotch, marking the place where they began and checking to see who could knit the most while waiting their turn to hop. They cut potatoes for planting, shelled corn, peeled apples for drying, sewed carpet rags and learned many other skills.
In the Bryner home, they all had their tasks to do in the evening, learning to spin and weave, etc. One would read from the scriptures while the others did their tasks. Even the blind father made their shoes, and wove fine willow baskets, whole wagon loads of them, which were accurate bushel and half-bushel baskets and which sold readly throughout the area.
Franey and Caroline liked to follow Caroline’s big brother, William, who was five years older, and his friends around, but of course the older ones tried to get rid of them. One day they were going up on the hills, and had to cross a stream that was swollen by the melting snows. The big boys had their high boots on, and carried their friends across. When the little girls wouldn’t leave, William picked up one under each arm and carried them across. They were not too happy with this undignified solution.
Franey was baptized 23 May 1875 by Lemuel H. Redd, Caroline’s father and her future father-in-law. She attended the one-room school for her first grades, then went to St. George for one winter and stayed with her Uncle Casper and Aunt Settie. She had knit herself a pair of fancy stockings, which she had dyed purple, but she was allergic to the dye and her feet and legs swelled up so badly that she had to prop them up on a chair.
When she was about twelve years old, she dried fruit all summer and saved her money to get a new dress. Someone had come to New Harmony with a very pretty dress made of dotted Swiss, a pretty sheer material with small polka-dots on it. She dearly wanted one like that. The men of the town took turns going up to Salt Lake at Conference time. This fall it was Benjamin Brubacher’s turn. She took her money to him and pointed out the dress material she wanted. He wrote it down very carefully in his little notebook, and said he would do his best. But he couldn’t find the kind she wanted, so he had to pick out some fabric himself. She was dreadfully disappointed with the dark color he chose, but there was nothing she could do about it. She made the dress herself, as her sisters were away.
There were no printed patterns in those days, but she found a pattern for a larger person and tried to make it fit. She cut out the material and sewed it up, by hand, of course, as they had no sewing machine. The neck was too high, so she trimmed out the neck, and got it too low. Now she had to take up the shoulder seams. By the time she got the neck and shoulders right, the waist was too high, so she had to set in a wide belt, and then put in the lining. They never made any dresses without lining them. She finally got it finished, and sewed the braided trim on by hand.
She was going to have her picture taken in the dress, and wanted to have some very fashionable pantalettes to show beneath the hem, but she didn’t have any. However, her mother had a nice embroidered bed jacket she wore when she had been “confined,” so she put Franey’s feet through the sleeves, folded and pinned the rest up around her underneath her skirt, so she had some lovely embroidered ruffles showing, and she was pleased. (After her marriage, she became the proud owner of a “White” sewing machine, which was a tremendous help in making the family clothing. This machine is now in the possession of Marsha Livingstone, the wife of one of her great grandsons in Provo.)
William Alexander Redd was ordained an elder before he was 16. Soon afterward he went to Arizona with his brother John to do freighting for a couple of years. They wore big felt hats to shade them from the hot sun, and their hair began to fall out, so when William came back home and began to take notice of Franey, he was nearly bald. Her friends teased her about her “old” suitor, but they took it in good spirits.
He worked for a sheep man, and took his pay of $1.25 per day out as 25 cents cash and $1.00 credit for sheep, which is how he got his herd started. When Franey was 18 and William 23, he asked her to marry him, and when she said “Yes,” he said he “whirled her around and kissed her quick.” They were married in the St. George temple on 27 Feb. 1884, and went to live in his mother’s home. Franey had spent so much time in the Redd home when she was younger, that she felt right at home.
Keziah Redd, William’s mother, had taught her almost everything she knew about housekeeping. The Redds had come from North Carolina and loved southern cooking. She had taught Franey to cook southern foods which William loved. He always wanted a big breakfast with hot baking powder biscuits. The Redds also loved watermelons, and hominy (a dish made with ripe corn kernels that had been treated with lye to remove the outer skin), among other things.
Their first child, William, was born the next year, and Grace a year and a half later. Then William Sr. was called on a mission. He arranged for his 17-year-old brother, Wayne, to help Franey while he was gone. Wayne was to see that she had wood for her stove, cut the alfalfa and put it in the barn for the cow, take her wheat to grist and bring back flour as well as bran for the pig. He’d plow her garden and help her plant it, help her harvest the vegetables and store them, and butcher a pig when she needed it. She had many friends and relatives who were anxious to help in any way.
William left on 10 Feb. 1887 for the Chatanooga, Tennessee, Mission. The missionaries walked throughout the country, carrying their valises, asking at homes for their meals and for overnight lodging, and preaching the gospel to all who would listen. Sometimes they walked as far as 23 miles in one day. He was in many places, including Augusta, Georgia, and South Carolina. When he was released, he didn’t have enough money for his fare home (the Church did not provide it in those days), so a friend, Mr. Black, a non-member, loaned him $50, saying he knew that William would pay him back.
When he returned he went back to raising his sheep, and grazed them on the surrounding hills during the summer, and in the valleys in winter, much of the time in what is now known as Zion’s National Park. They could see these beautiful hills, the Kolob Mountains, from their home. He would go to the herd for several days, then come home for Sunday.
One day in 1888 he came home from the herd, and his two little sisters ran out to meet him, shouting “Hello Bishop Redd! Hello Bishop Redd!” He thought they were teasing, but it was true, in his absence he had been chosen to be the bishop of the ward. The Stake President had left word that he was to choose his counsellors and bring them to St. George the next Sunday to Stake Conference to be set apart.
He was rather disappointed about this, as he had been planning to move away from New Harmony. By that time, he had seen all his father’s family move away to make better homes in more progressive places. He was the last one left in the old home town. When he went to St. George, he said to the Stake President Ivins “Antone, you knew that I was planning to move away and find me a home somewhere else. Why did you choose me?” Apostle Cowley, the visiting General Authority, put his hand on William’s shoulder and said, “Brother Redd, the Lord wants you to take care of this part of his vineyard. This is your responsibility.” William replied “Is that a call?” Brother Cowley said it was. Of course, he stayed to fill the calling.
About this time, Verena was released as secretary to the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association (Y.L.M.I.A.) where she had been called as a girl of 17, and now sustained as the first counsellor.
William began to plan a home of their own. The first one was a little frame house across from the meetinghouse. About this time Verena missed Willie and Grace—they were aged four and two. She began hunting them, and someone said they had been seen heading for the farm. She ran frantically, with a prayer in her heart, all the way to the farm, where she found them safe. They had had to cross a deep creek, over a long narrow footbridge with no railing. All out of breath and through her tears, she asked, “Willie, how did Grace get across that long bridge?” He said “Oh, mama, I took hold of her hand and led her across.”
They had a happy home, and soon three little triplet daughters arrived. But there was an epidemic of membranous croup. Myrtle and Belle passed away at the age of one week, while their father was away on a short trip. The other baby, Verena, died four weeks later, and in another month and a half, their older sister Grace, 3 ½ , was gone too. What a heartbreak for this young mother of 24 years! She was thankful that Will was spared. Family members and friends rallied around and did their best to comfort them. Soon after this, she was released as counsellor in the Y.L.M.I.A. and made president.
Their daughter Lura came along in 1891 to cheer them up. She was followed by Fern in 1893, Jessie in 1895, Paul 1897, Lyman 1899, Vilo 1901, Pauline 1902, Mary in 1905. Kay was born in 1907 after they went to Canada. They raised ten children to maturity, all faithful members of the church and pillars in their communities.
In 1895 she again became a counsellor in the Y.L.M.I.A. William’s mother, Keziah, who had cancer and had been living with them for several years, passed away. Franey had a new baby three months later. Besides all this, she was the bishop’s wife. She must have been very busy, but she did have some help. Four of William’s sisters lived with them at various times, but still it was very generous of them to have all these people in their home. The little girls loved to have their aunts come—they usually brought presents, and they kept the girls’ hair done in ringlets while they were there. Ordinarily, their hair had a braid on top of their heads. Their Aunt Sarah was helping them get ready one Sunday, trying to pin their hats on with a long hairpin without sticking it into their heads. One of the girls said “Oh, mama just pins it right to our heads.”
Verena gave a surprise party for William once, and only once. He was at the sheep herd, and she had a dinner party all prepared. When he came back, she sent Will out to tell him to butcher the mutton he was bringing home, before he came in. He did so, and came in all dirty from the butchering. He wasn’t very pleased to see the house full of guests with him in that condition. She never could surprise him again.
With a large family, and three church meetings to attend on Sundays, Verena told him that she could not prepare the big breakfasts he loved, get the family ready for Sunday School, then prepare another meal and go to two more meetings. He was willing to help in any way, and suggested that the family go without breakfasts on Sunday mornings. This became a tradition in the Redd family, and some of the descendants still make this a practice.
They built a fine red brick home with four rooms, livingroom, parlor, kitchen and bedroom, with porches front and back and a cellar underneath. The bedroom had two large beds and a child’s bed, the livingroom had a lounge that could be made into a bed, and the parlor also had a large bed. Later a new kitchen was built on, and the old one converted to another bedroom. When visitors came, and they often did, some of the children slept on the floor on the lovely quilts Verena made. They were very hospitable, and invited many people for meals, or to stay overnight. Many of the General Authorities were welcomed into their home. All this made a lot of work for Verena, but she did not seem to mind. The children were very helpful.
Relatives often came with their whole family and stayed for several days. The cousins had a wonderful time playing together. Friends of the family knew they were welcome to come without invitation, and would often pull into the yard, put their horses in the barn and come to the house. Strangers, though, usually did ask for accommodations, and were welcomed.
The home was one of the most substantial homes in the town, and was surrounded by their beloved Lombardy poplars, locust trees with their sweet blossoms, rose bushes, etc. They dearly wanted an evergreen tree in the front, and transplanted several but could not get one to live. They had a garden, and an orchard at the farm which was two miles from the town, so they had an abundance of vegetables and fruits of all kinds. There was also an apple tree in the front yard, and the children had a wonderful time climbing it, turning somersaults in it, tying swings on its branches, and their mother even built them a playhouse nearby where they had lots of fun.
The farm had been purchased by William’s father from John D. Lee when he moved away. It had a lovely orchard and William always planted watermelons between the trees. Everyone in New Harmony knew that they could come anytime and help themselves to watermelons. But apparently this didn’t extend to cherries. Verena and the children went to the orchard one day to pick some early sweet Royal Anne cherries. They climbed the trees, picked the cherries and dropped them in the grass below to gather when they came down. They heard voices, and watched to see what would happen. Some teenaged boys arrived and thought themselves lucky to have cherries already picked for them in the grass. Just as they started to gather them, Verena spoke, and away they went!
The children drove the cows to the farm to pasture every day, and went back in the evening to bring them home. They had to carry stout sticks to guide the cows if they wandered, and to kill the rattle snakes and blow snakes that inhabited the rock fences around the fields. The fences were usually overgrown with weeds, and the warm rocks made an inviting place for snakes to curl up.
How the children loved to go to the sheep herd with their father! They loved his sourdough pancakes and biscuits. The sheep wagon made a wonderful playhouse for them. Every year after the sheep were sheared, the wool was packed into large gunny sacks, loaded on wagons and hauled to Salt Lake City to be sold. This trip would take about six weeks. In Salt Lake, William would buy supplies for another year—coats, hats, shoes, bolts of cloth for Verena to make into dresses, underwear, nightgowns, bedding etc., wool for knitting stockings, sweaters, etc. The girls always had dresses, pettticoats, and underwear alike, so they often got them mixed up.
Near the farm was a huge pine tree. It was much larger than any of the trees in the whole valley, and could be seen from a great distance. It seemed to be a lone survivor of an ancient forest. Its top had been broken off, probably in a storm. Sometimes several of the children would try to reach around its trunk by holding hands, but it was so big they couldn’t.
(Perhaps this excerpt from the Institute Manual “Church History in the Fullness of Times,” page 400, will explain the lone pine tree. “Joseph H. Ridges, a convert from Australia, brought with him to Utah a small pipe organ he had built. President Young, upon learning of his ability, appointed him to construct the first Tabernacle organ. But finding the proper wood was a major problem. Finally the desired timber was located in the Parowan and Pine Valley Mountains of Utah, three hundred miles south of Salt Lake City. Chopping and hauling the heavy logs for this project was no small task in the 1800s. Roads had to be built and canyon creeks bridged. And almost all the labor had to be done by volunteers. Sometimes as many as twenty teamsters with three yoke of oxen on each wagon journeyed to those distant mountains to chop and haul logs. The organ was completed sufficiently for it to be used at October Conference of 1867. The newly organized Tabernacle Choir, under the direction of Robert Sands, provided the music for the Sunday services.” Perhaps their lone pine tree was saved from this fate by having had its top broken off, and this would explain why there were no others of its kind when the children played there.)
Verena always had carpet rags for the children to cut or tear into strips for a carpet. They sewed them together and wound them into balls. The balls were taken away and woven into strips, which Verena sewed together to make a room-sized carpet. The children liked rolling on the new carpet, which was tacked down at the edges and had new straw underneath. It made a nice crackling sound which they liked.
They also milked the cows, tended the pigs, weeded the garden, picked the fruit, helped cut and pit it for drying, helped dry the corn, etc. One year they had a plentiful crop of plums, which had to be prepared for drying. Their aunts, Vilo and Alice, happened to be home from teaching school, and made a plan. They carried chairs, knives, tubs of plums and dishpans out into the front yard, then Vilo got her guitar and began to play it while the children joined in singing the songs. Soon a crowd began to gather to hear the music, and each one was given a pan of plums and a knife. It wasn’t long until all the plums had been pitted, all ready to be dried. Everyone had enjoyed the evening. The fruit was laid out on every flat place, roofs of sheds, lean-tos, the new kitchen etc. so that the sun could dry it. They had no way of covering the fruit to protect it from flies and dust, so after it was dry and stored in cloth sacks and hung up somewhere in the house, the fruits had to be washed thoroughly and soaked all night before cooking.
There were no refrigerators, so food was kept in the cellar under the house. They had barrels of molasses from Dixie, barrels of sauerkraut made by Grandfather Bryner, bins of vegetables, winter apples, raisins from Dixie, almonds, big sacks of pine nuts purchased from the Indians, butter, cheese, milk, cream, dried and preserved fruit, pickles and jam, flour, corn flour, home-cured hams and bacon, jerked venison, etc. Potatoes, carrots and beets were stored in pits and covered. Cabbage and cauliflower were pulled up by the roots and buried in a trench upside down with the root sticking up. When needed, the root was uncovered and used as a handle to pull out the head. They made their own yeast, and baked their own bread, a big batch every day. The girls had heard of bread-mixing machines and coaxed their father to buy one, but he said “Why should I buy one when I have four or five daughters who are bread mixers?” So they continued to have to knead a big batch of bread every night. It took them half an hour of kneading to make bread to suit their father.
Finally canning jars were introduced. One lady tried to bottle green beans, but she didn’t have the proper directions and they all spoiled. She was so disgusted that she threw out bottles and all, and went back to drying her food. Verena’s first bottles were hand-made, with lids that weren’t very true. She would have to try several to get one that fit well enough.
They subscribed to all the church magazines. These were kept in the attic above the new kitchen, and they had to climb a ladder to get up there. The children loved to go there and read. When their mother couldn't find them for a task, she always knew where to look. They wondered how she knew!
At mealtimes, the plates were always upside down and the chairs had their backs to the table until after family prayers. They enjoyed Family Home Evenings around the big open fireplace in the livingroom--popping corn, shelling pine nuts, making honey or molasses pull taffy, eating figs, raisins and nuts, and listening to gospel stories. Other treats they loved were “cooked ice cream” where a custard was made instead of just freezing milk, cream, eggs and sugar. And they loved to chew “pine gum,” the sticky sap that ran down the trunks of the pine trees. They would pull it off and chew it. It tasted terrible, but they liked it anyway.
Not too far away was the mining settlement of Silver Reef, where they found ready sale for any produce they could spare. One of the men would take a wagon over there, and all the townsfolk would bring their meat, fruit, vegetables, grain, chickens, a dozen eggs, a couple of pounds of butter, a side of bacon, a couple of chickens, a calf or a goose or rabbit for him to sell in Silver Reef or Dixie. Sometimes the children would have made a quail trap out of thin strips of wood, and had a few quail to send for a little spending money. The quail sold readily. This was about the only way they could earn any money.
People paid their tithing in “kind,” butter, eggs, potatoes, etc. Some of this would spoil before it could be sold, so William, as bishop, replaced a lot of it out of his own pocket. As bishop, he had a telephone in his home furnished by the church, so that the authorities could communicate with the distant wards. At election time, the polling booth was in their home, and numerous people stayed around for hours to hear the results brought in on the telephone.
They had an organ in their home, given them by Grandpa Redd when he went to Mexico. Some of the girls learned to play it. When the church sent musicians to the outlying areas to teach the hymns to the people, the singing lesson was at their home. The children were sent to bed so they wouldn’t disturb the singers. Bro. Coslett had them sing up and down the scale—do, re, mi, fah, so, lah, ti, do. The children thought they were singing “Don’t let me fall I love you so.”
Verena had a nice singing voice, and led out in Relief Society. William could not read music, but had his sisters teach him the bass part by singing it over and over with him. He had some comic songs the children loved to hear.
Water for drinking, cooking, etc. came from the springs and streams. Three of the children came down with typhoid fever and were very sick. Dr. Middleton came from Cedar City to teach Verena how to care for them and prevent it from spreading. After the family left New Harmony, there was an epidemic and several people died. The townspeople then had to install a water system to replace the wells and springs.
The whole town celebrated Christmas with a huge tree and presents for everyone from Santa Claus himself. The Fourth of July was also a big celebration, with a “cannon” being shot off at sunrise. One charge did not go off soon enough to suit Will, so he went up to investigate. Then the gunpowder went off and it peppered Will with black gunpowder all over his face, neck and arms. He had to be taken to the doctor to have it picked out from under his skin. At the celebrations there were races too, where everyone won a prize.
On May 30th every year, Decoration Day, the children carried the tubs of flowers they had been picking for days. They put some in cans of water and spread the rest over the graves of their four little sisters, Grandmother Redd, and some of her children. They would wander the hills and farms for days searching for sego lilies, red bells, bluebells, Indian paintbrushes, lady slippers and others whose names they did not know.
William went to St. Louis once, and came home enthralling the children with tales of the circus, the clowns, the 5 and 10 cent store, and other wonders. Verena often went with him to Stake Conferences in St. George and to General Conference in Salt Lake City, when she had someone big enough to tend the baby. When they were transferred to the Parowan Stake, it was easier to go as it wasn’t as far.
After a conference meeting, William took Bro. Cowley to Toquerville for the next lap of his journey. Bro. Cowley asked him how long he had been bishop, and the answer was sixteen years. Then Bro. Cowley said that was as long as the Lord wanted him to serve, and if he still wanted to go to another part of the country to make a home for his family, they would give him an honourable release and he could serve in the new area. So William decided to make the move. This was in June 1904. He went home and told Verena that he would go start looking as soon as the 24th of July celebration was over—the bishopric had big plans for Pioneer Day that year.
But the next day there was a big cloudburst which caused a bad flood. It washed through the town but no one was hurt much. Boys on horseback went around the town collecting people who were stranded and bringing them up to the Redd’s hill where they spent the night in the schoolhouse. The water ruined their garden, washed away their pig pen and pigs, and filled the cellar with water and mud. So instead of starting out to find a new home, William had to empty the cellar. Friends helped him take out buckets full of dirty water, then mud, and empty it into the yard. It spread like lava, slowly covering the yard. Then they had to get a scraper and scrape it into the lot. Fruit bottles, barrels, boxes, bins all had to be separated from the mud and cleaned, but they couldn’t save the flour which mixed with the mud and went sour. It was a week before he could get on his way to find a new home.
He went to Salt Lake planning to go to Teton country and to Oregon. There he met Bro.Cowley who told him about an excursion leaving the next day for Canada. Bro. Cowley advised him to go there first and see the other places on his return journey. He wrote Verena than he was going to Canada to look around. When she received the letter, she cried all day and would not tell the children what was the matter. Later she said that when she read the letter, she just knew that they were going to Canada. All she knew about Canada was that it was in the frozen north and she didn’t want to raise her children in a frozen country. Well, she was right, for he did not even look anywhere else. He came back directly and said he had decided on Canada. They said nothing about it until about Christmas time, when he announced in church that he was resigning as soon as he could get the tithing records in order, that they were going to go to southern Alberta, Canada. They had been having a drought there, but he said it still was better than any other place he had ever seen.
In Feb. 1905 he and Will went to Canada. They bought some land and horses, and started to plow. He left Will there to put in the crop and plant a garden, while William came back to get the rest of the family. They spent a lot of time getting ready to move. An old friend he saw there told him to bring everything they had, even the swill bucket. So they started to pack, trunks and boxes were brought out and things not needed right away were packed in them.
Their aunt Sarah helped Verena make new dresses for the girls. The night before they were to leave, some of their friends were having a party for them. Fern and Jessie went to the party, wearing their new everyday checked gingham dresses, but were unhappy because all their friends were all dressed up. They went home and begged their mother to unpack their new Sunday dresses from the trunk. She was reluctant, but finally consented, and they went back to the party happy.
William brought home $300 in gold to pay for the train car they would rent to take their possessions to Canada. It was in a little bag, and the children were curious about it so he let them lift it to see how heavy it was. The box-car was divided in the middle, with the trunks and furniture in one end and the horses, pigs, and cows in the other end.
They went to Lund by wagon, camping overnight on the way. It was the first time the children had seen a train. At first they were frightened of the big puffing engine, but soon got used to it. They took a big lunch in a clothes basket. Mary was four months old, and everyone thought she was such a good baby. The train conductor thought Fern and Jessie were twins.
They arrived at Stirling, Alberta on the evening of Dominion Day, July 1st, 1905, the day that Alberta became a province. They stayed overnight with the John Adams family, whom William had known in Utah. Their new friends told the children all about the big time they had had celebrating Dominion Day, but they were not impressed—they were thinking about the 4th of July celebrations they would miss in Utah.
The next day, Will came from Raymond with a wagon and took them to Raymond where he had rented a home for them on Main street, near the canal. They lived there for eight months while William built their new home, a large home made of cement blocks made by John W. Taylor who was building an immense one across the street. This first home on Main street was not insulated, none of the homes were then, and got very cold in the winter nights with no furnace. In the mornings, the top ten inches of the quilts would be wet and frozen from their breathing, and would have to be thawed out. When they moved to the new house, the yard was very muddy—a real trial for Verena, with the children running in and out all day.
Raymond seemed such a big town after New Harmony. It even had a sugar factory. School was held in the old Second Ward chapel. The classes were large and the work harder than the children were used to. They had to work hard to get caught up, but then they stood at the head of their classes. The teachers then were imported from eastern Canada.
William always said that the Lord wanted him to go to Canada, and that the flood in New Harmony wasn’t an accident. When they went back to New Harmony for a visit later, Verena said she was thankful that they had moved so that she didn’t have to rear her family in New Harmony.
The youngest son, Kay, was born in Raymond in 1907. That same year Verena was made secretary of the Taylor Stake Relief Society, a position she held for 25 years. The stake included Lethbridge and Taber as well as the other small towns near Raymond. They made many visits throughout the stake, travelling by horse and buggy, stone boat, train and finally in Model T cars.
William became Second Counsellor to Heber S. Allen in the Taylor Stake presidency. Like he had done in New Harmony, William was always inviting people home for dinner after church services. An elderly brother from Magrath was invited once, and kept returning each Stake Conference as long as he lived, without any further invitation, and he was warmly welcomed. There was always a big crowd for meals around their table. William was proud of Verena and her cooking. He said that if you gave her a bacon rind and an onion, she could make a tasty meal out of it. (I just finished talking to Kay, still living at age 93, in Raymond. I said “Your mother was a good cook, wasn’t she?” “She sure was!” was his unqualified reply.) There was no running water in the town, but they had a well beneath the house. Of course, they still used coal cook stoves, and heated water on top of the stove for wash day.
During William’s term as chairman of the school board, a decision was made to build a new school. Others wanted to build only eight rooms, but William held out for twelve, and this proved to be a good decision.
William returned to New Harmony and sold his sheep and land, investing the money in land around Raymond and signing notes for some others. At first, things went well and they felt they were prospering.
They celebrated their Silver Wedding anniversary in 1909. Many of their friends called to congratulate them. William’s widowed sister, Ellen Bryner, had come to Raymond to be near them, and she helped with the baking for this celebration. She lived across the street with her four children, and operated a nursing home.
After less than six years in Raymond, William died in Jan. 1911, from pneumonia, the morning after holding his last school board meeting which he had insisted on holding in his sick room. Fern said that she felt he willed himself to live until she had returned from Normal School. It was a real shock for the family. Will had been away at medical school, but gave it up and came to help his mother and the family. Will, Paul and Kay operated the farm for her. Times were hard, crops were poor and there were difficulties. William had left some debts on the land. Verena just did not know how she was going to be able to manage, she often cried when she went to bed at night, but the children tried to comfort her.
Several of the children, Lura, Fern, Jessie, Paul and Pauline, went to Normal School in Calgary to take teacher training. The older ones studied for three months, then went out teaching in the schools, where they were not much older than their students, for example Fern was only sixteen when she first started teaching. Often they taught in country schools, but some taught in Raymond. At one time Lura taught in Magrath. The way she said “Magrath” made her little neices and nephews think she was saying “My grath,” so they called it “Aunt Lura’s grath.” The teachers didn’t make much in the way of salaries, but they all willingly helped their mother and younger brothers and sisters.
Verena took in boarders to help out. Eventually they all got sick. When they were finally well, Paul and Lyman enlisted in the Canadian Air Force during World War I, but Armistice was declared before they saw any action. Lura went on a mission to eastern U. S.
Verena was artistic, and loved to paint, but did not have much time to devote to this hobby. She wanted to play the piano, and did take a few piano lessons in her later years, but was shy about performing for fear people would laugh at her. Her hands were always busy—spinning, knitting, doing embroidery work, sewing for her family. In fact one of her friends said to her, “Verena, you are going to wear your hands out!”
After the children were grown and left home, she lived alone in the big home for a few years, but often had family visiting. Fern and her family lived with her for two or three winters. Will and his wife Irene Smellie lived next door, Paul and his wife Grace Brandley lived across the street, Kay and wife, Velma Nalder were also across the street, Jessie and Octave Ursenbach in Lethbridge, and Fern and George Laycock were on a farm ten miles from Raymond before they moved to Lethbridge. The children and grandchildren visited often.
She loved to have her family visit. Often on a Sunday afternoon there would be a crowd of grandchildren playing tag on her big front lawn, walking the top rail of her fence, tapping out their names on her typewriter, or building snow caves in the huge drifts between the trees and her home. We all loved having cousins to play with while our parents had a good time visiting inside the home. Sometimes we would ask Grandma to “yodel” for us, we loved this. This was a Swiss type of singing and very distinctive to the Swiss people. There was always a crowd of young people there with Pauline and Mary.
Pauline and Kay also went on missions, Vilo took nursing training in Utah, and Lyman went to California where he worked for the telephone company. He married Jeanette Wride. Mary also went to California where she became an excellent seamstress and married Sterling Snyder. Pauline married Mel Burt and they moved to Salt Lake City where he built homes. Lura taught art in the High School at Brigham City for about forty years. Lura and Vilo never married. They lived together in a small home in Murray, Utah. They all came back for visits whenever they could.
While Verena was living there in the big home alone, she became sick, and one night felt so sick that she thought they would find her dead in the morning. But she had a choice experience. She saw William walk into the room, as she had seen him do so many times. He took a bottle of consecrated oil from his pocket and administered to her. This was a great comfort to her, to know that he was watching over her.
She had rheumatism for many years, and probably other ailments. Eventually her health broke and she went to California to try to recover. Lyman and Mary and their families lived in Los Angeles, where the weather was nice and warm. She had a good visit with them and their families, but she had a slight stroke while there. She recovered enough to start home. However on the way, she had another stroke in Salt Lake City. Will and Fern drove down in Paul’s car to bring her back to Raymond where she had an apartment in the big home, which Will now owned. She lived with each of her children for a time. While she was in Lethbridge with Fern and George, she was not able to walk unaided, and got her exercise by walking round and round the dining room table, holding onto it with her good hand.
When Fern got pneumonia, Verena thought she was well enough to go back to her apartment, and was preparing to do this when she passed away in Raymond, 30 May 1934 at the age of 68. She had been a widow for 23 years. Several of the children were still living in U. S., and the immigration authorities would not promise that they would be re-admitted to U. S. if they crossed the border, even though they had been born in U.S. (There were no birth certificates when they were born, so they could not produce proof that they were born there.) So Lura, Vilo, Pauline, Mary and Lyman were denied the opportunity of being at their mother’s funeral service which was held in Raymond, where she was buried beside her beloved William. A daughter-in-law once asked her why she had never remarried. Her answer was that she and William had such a perfect love that she could never think of anyone trying to take his place. She simply could not do that.
The brothers and sisters in Canada, along with their families, went to Babb, Montana, a tiny settlement at the border of Montana, to visit with the others for a few days. It was wonderful to see them all, even though it was a sad occasion. It rained a lot of the time, and the kids had to stay indoors, but they had a good time together.
Her daughter, Jessie, paid her this fine tribute. “She inherited the best of all the wonderful virtues of her parents. She will never have a chick nor child to match her, and her crown is secure and her reward happy for eternity with her beloved William.”
Here is a copy of her Patriarchal Blessing, given in Raymond 27 Dec. 1906:
“A blessing given under the hands of James Kirkham, patriarch, upon the head of Mary Verena Redd, the daughter of Ulrich and Maria Mathys Bryner, born the 3rd of March 1866 in New Harmony, Utah, U.S.A.
Sister Redd, in the authority of the Holy Priesthood and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the order of the Patriarchs, I seal upon you a blessing. At thy birth, the heavens rejoiced, for the Lord knew thy destiny and blessed thee with that great gift to become a mother of nations unborn, for the fruit of thy loins shall rejoice in thee and thy name, and with honor thy name shall be remembered from generation to generation. Thou art of the tribe of Ephraim, a daughter beloved of the Father, and for thy faithfulness unto thy covenants shalt thou be blessed with inspiration and become as one endowed with wisdom, to be honored with authority in the midst of thy sex.
I bless thee with strength of body and mind, to run and not be weary, and in the midst of the sufferers to be as a ministering angel whose words shall be like the balm of Gilead and whose counsel shall be a healer unto the troubled mind.
Remember the poor and turn not the stranger from thy gate, but speak to him and it shall be made known unto thee whether or not he be a Nephite of old. Faith shall be among thy gifts, and from thy loins shall come forth a mighty one in Israel in whom thou shalt acknowledge the hand of the Lord, and like Sarah of old, thou shalt give the honor unto the father.
Thou shalt see thy sons and thy daughters become noble men and women, and in thine old age they shall bear thee up and thou shalt bestow upon them thy blessings, for thy name shall be recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and thy prayers shall be recorded in the archives of the heavens to come forth in blessings upon the heads of thy posterity.
In connection with thy companion in life, thou shalt set thy house in order. As a token unto the Lord of His loving kindness unto thee and thine, may thy basket and store never want for the bounties of the earth, and may the blessings of heaven provide in thy habitation. May every righteous desire of thy heart be granted thee. Pray for these blessings, dear sister, to come to pass, and the words of thy mouth shall not fail.
I seal thee up to come forth in the glorious resurrection of the just, to be crowned as a queen to sit at the right hand of thy companion, to reign through all the millenium, for ever and ever, Amen.”
William A. Redd, scribe.