Christmas Moments: A pioneer Christmas

The following is excerpted from a history written by Daphne Smith Dalton, who was born in Parowan, Utah, in 1857. The article was published in the Church News, Dec. 22, 1948, in a series "The Salt of the Earth," by Gordon B. Hinckley.

"I do not remember much of my life until Sept. 12, 1860, when father was called to go on a mission to Europe. I remember . . . his lifting me in his arms and holding me close to him and the tears falling down my face.

"Our home was a two-story adobe house with two rooms below and two rooms upstairs. The walls were not plastered, just the old adobe walls. We did not have a cook stove and mother just baked and cooked over the open fire. We had one good outfit of two plates, bowls, knives forks and spoons. . . . The rest of our dishes were what we called Davenportware, as Brother Davenport made them there at home.

"[One Day] I was tending 7-month-old Jesse. He had on a yellow flannel dress. I had picked the yellow flowers from the sage brush to color [dye] his dress and it was very pretty. . . . The log that was holding the kettle broke and boiling water came down on us. Grandmother Smith took the clothes from off the baby and the skin came off. . . . Dr. Pendleton made a salve of sweet cream and flour, and mother put it on with a feather. . . .

"My little mother had to work like a slave to keep her children while father was on his mission. I remember how every night she would spin, and how in the daytime I would I would split fine splinters off from the pitchy wood, and at night I would sit with her and tend the baby and keep holding and lighting these pitchy sticks for her to see to spin by.

"I remember the Christmas of 1862. All of us children hung up our stockings. We jumped up early in the morning to see what Santa had brought, and there was not a thing in them. Mother wept bitterly. She went to her box and got a little apple and cut it in little pieces and that was our Christmas, but I have never forgotten how I loved her dear little hands as she was cutting the apple."

Another in a series of "Christmas Moments."

Illustration by John Clark