A SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF
MYRTLE OLIVE BLACK PALMER
Written by me – Hilda Palmer in 1949
Grandma Palmer was born in Circleville, Utah, July 20, 1865. She was 84 years old last July.
Her father’s name was William Morley Black and mother’s name was Maria Hansen Black.
When grandma was very young the family moved to St. George where her father ran a grist mill. One of her earliest remembrances was of a pet blow snake her father kept in the milk to keep down the mice.
Grandma’s father had several wives and was the father of forty children. Her mother, Maria Hansen Black had ten children. Grandma was the third child. She learned to help her mother wash wool, cord and spin it, and weave it into cloth on a hand loom. Then helped make the clothing for herself and brothers and sisters.
It wasn’t all work, however, for Grandma often told of the young folks having parties such as molasses candy pulls, swinging parties and such.
One of Grandma’s girlhood friends was Amanda Hatch, who was part Indian.
Great Grandma Black was quite strict and wouldn’t let Grandma go with the boys much.
Her first boyfriend was a Hoagland boy. Another [of] her first boy friends was a Ferry Young. Ferry’s boy chums told him they would give him a sled if he would get a date with her. The other boys waited outside. When she gave her consent to go with him to the dance, he opened the door and called out, “I won the sled.”
Grandma later moved with her parents to Orderville, where they livied during the time the United Order was practiced there. She often helped wait on tables in the big dining hall where they all ate.
When she was only 15 years old she went with her parents and others of the family to [the] St. George Temple and received her own endowments. And then helped do work for the dead.
She went with two different Palmer boys. James William soon became her favorite. He went with Grandma and Aunt Alice Baldwin Black at the same time. He would take turns calling for them for he wanted to be fair with both of them. When they decided to get married Grandma wasn’t yet 17. Grandpa planned to marry both Grandma and Aunt Alice at the same time. But Aunt Alice’s father refused to let Aunt Alice be married. They all three felt very sad about this. It took them 3 days to go from Orderville to St. George. Where they were married in the temple Dec. 7, 1881.
Grandpa Palmer had 3 wives: Aunt Mary Ann Black was first. She died when her first child was born. Grandma was second. Then Aunt Eva. The 3 women were all sisters.
Grandma’s oldest child, William Zemirah, was born in Orderville Dec. 3 1882. Then they moved to Snowflake, Ariz. Here James Acel, her second child was born Oct. 12, 1884.
They lived here only a year. Then Pres. John Taylor at a conference there advised all polygamist families to go to Old Mexico to avoid the persecution they were then receiving. So along the first of Feb 1885 they started for Old Mexico and arrived the last of March. Grandma and Aunt Eva’s family went in one wagon drawn by mules.
At first they settled near Casas Grande. They had to buy food from the Mexicans until they could raise crops of their own. At first they had to grind their corn in an old fashioned coffee milk to make corn meal for bread. Grandma often told the children how she fished in the Casas Grande River and how she usually got more turtles than fish.
From Casas Grande they moved near Juarez and stayed about 2 years. There Oct 14, 1886 her their child Ellis was born. They then moved to the mountains on Corrales Ranch near Pacheco. Here they lived the rest of the time. Here all but one of her nine other children were born. Joe was born in Juarez where her parents lived.
The Mexicans were not very friendly and often stole their cattle and anything else they could lay their hands on. The women folks and children were often frightened of them.
One night noises outside awakened all of Grand’s family. Grandpa was away from home. They were afraid it was Mexicans on horses. Grandma quietly dressed and got her small pearl-handled six shooter. She crept to the door and to their happiness found it to be a herd of wild horses.
Another time they had hired a young Mexican to work for them. He slept in the barn loft and ate in the house. One day when Grandpa Palmer was away Grandma noticed a ribbon hanging out of the closed trunk. This told her someone had been snooping. She discovered that some money she had hid in the bottom of the trunk was gone. The young Mexican was also missing. Grandma sent Will on a horse to a nearby saw mill to tell Uncle Dave Black and others there. Uncle Dave was a deputy sheriff. These men soon tracked the Mexican to the river and on up the road towards Casas Grande. They noticed a large rock by the roadside that had been moved. Under this they found the stolen money. A few minutes more and they overtook the young Mexican. He finally admitted taking the money. Tey make him return the money to Grandma. This made him very angry and embarrassed. Grandma was cooking and had her back to the door. She was prompted to turn around and saw this Mexican with a large knife in his hand. He had intended to stab her in the back. She of course was frightened but could still remain calm. She dared not turn her back and run so she talked to him and sent back word out of the door to where Uncle Dave and others were. The men soon had him under control. They took him out of the neighborhood and frightened him so much he never did return.
While in Mexico Grandma took nurses training from a doctor name Olive Moffitt. From then on she was kept busy helping all who needed her. She was given a promise that if she would ask the Lord for help in her work she would never fail.
When Ellis was 14 he ---- in a giant cap explosion. --- affected his eyes and hand. A Doctor Shipley helped Grandma care for him. She also helped Grandma in her nurses training.
Another great sadness which came to Grandma was when her son, Jim, died. Jim, Will and some other young men went to work on a railroad several hundred miles away. Jim took sick and wished so much that he was home with his mother for he just knew she could help him. They started for home with him but he died in a little Mormon settlement and was buried there. It was a week afterword before they arrived home to tell the folks. He died July 4, 1901. He died of appendicitis.
Another sadness which came to her was when she lost her young son, Loren, with the whooping cough. Loren was born May 2, 1897 and died Aug 14, 1898.
Various contagious diseases which spread there in Mexico made her nurses training of great value to her own family. The Typhoid fever in her family almost claimed several of her children, but her untiring efforts saved them.
In 1912, after they had lived in Mexico about 27 years, their troubles with the Mexicans increased. Word was sent on July 24th by the Presiding Church Authorities in Juarez, for them to leave Mexico for a short time until the trouble could be settled. They took with them only what was needed on a camping trip. They left their homes all cleaned up ready to go back to in a few days. They never did go back. Besides their good farms, home, and furniture and other household supplies they left about 20 cows, 30 horses and a large herd of pigs. The Mexicans probably enjoyed these later.
They left Pacheco in organized companies. Dave Black was in charge of their company. Only one man was allowed to six wagons of women and children. The rest of the men had to stay behind and fight.
On their way to Juarez they met ninety Mexicans called “Red Flaggers”. They swooped down on their wagons like wild Indians and took everything they wanted including the guns. Again at Juarez they were raided. They had to wait several days at Juarez for their turn to ride on the freight train. The natives blew up all of the bridges after the train they were on passed through.
When they got to El Paso, Texas they had to camp in a lumber yard. Five hundred people were crowded under a few small sheds. Here they had to stay for nearly three months.
From El Paso they went by train to Farmington, New Mexico. Here Acel Palmer (Grandpa Palmer’s brother) met them and took them to his home in Fruitland. Here they stayed about two weeks.
Grandpa and Aunt Eva Palmer had left Mexico a year or so before and had settled in Blanding. Grandma and her unmarried children went to Bluff where they lived for about five years. Then they too settled in Blanding.
Grandma took up her nursing work again and has helped deliver over five hundred babies, besides aiding many other people. It has only been about 10 years since she handles her last case alone.
She went in all kinds of weather, sometimes on horseback, or by slow team, but mostly on foot. She could always be depended upon. She has truly earned the name of “Aunt Myrtle” to most of the people in Blanding and Bluff.
The promise of success in her work was truly fulfilled.
Her husband was born Sept 22, 1860 and died Feb 20, 1931 in Blanding.
She had her first serious illness in 1941, eight years ago. She had pneumonia then and once since then. The last ear she was in bed most of the time. She was always so patient during her long illness, so considerate of others always worrying for fear she was a burden to those who cared for her.
She passed away Oct 19, 1949 very peacefully to her rest
She leaves nine living children, seventy-six grandchildren and 110 great grandchildren. (note: now only 2 living children)
Her calm even temperament, patience, endurance and service to others were character traits worthy for anyone to follow.