A century of incredible challenges

Mary Anorah Perkins was 4 years old when her native Idaho territory became a state. Now, at 104, "Aunt Polly," as she is called, is helping to celebrate the Idaho centennial.

The oldest of 13 children, she was born in Dayton, Idaho, Sept. 23, 1885, and spent her early years helping on the family farm. After "grubbing sagebrush," during the day, she would bring home the cows each evening from the surrounding mountains to be milked.She was baptized in the Dayton Canyon reservoir in 1893.

An avid student, she could outspell most of her classmates. She could also outrun most of them.

She married John Ole Taylor in 1907, just a month after graduating from the Oneida Stake Academy. In a stake outing a short time later, she won a race and collected a prize for her ward.

The Taylors became parents of nine children. The firstborn son, Lavon, died of pneumonia just three days before the third son was born. Although this proved to be a difficult ordeal for them, the realities of rearing a young family kept them moving forward.

With her husband away during much of the harvest time, she ran the homestead. She would harness the team of horses, take the small children, and drive a half-mile to the nearest well. There she would fill several large barrels and haul them home. In the evening she'd bring the cows in from the hills. Once, when she and her two small boys were on foot, a coyote attacked and chased her right to her doorstep. Her fleetness of foot saved the day as she outran the animal while carrying a boy tucked firmly in each arm.

In 1933, her husband died at age 49. While she was never a stranger to hard work, the difficult economic conditions made an incredible challenge.

"I had to exercise a lot of faith and trust in the Lord," she reflected. "Each day I prayed for strength and guidance to carry the burden that was mine."

Carry on she did, earning money as a midwife, school cook, and cannery supervisor. But the challenges kept coming. In 1956 her daughter and her daughter's husband were killed in an automobile accident, leaving six small children. At age 72, she quit her job and went to live with them for a time as another daughter and her husband took the children in.

"Aunt Polly" lived alone until she was 101. She cooked her meals on a coal stove and heated her home with coal and wood.

During her life, she taught Primary, Sunday School, and Relief Society. Reading the scriptures is still a daily activity, and she attends sacrament meetings.

She has an alert mind and enjoys discussing current affairs. One current event - the 100th birthday party of her younger counterpart, the state of Idaho, has been particularly enjoyable.

After all, to her, Idaho is practically family.

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