Old Mexico History of
Olive Myrtle Black Palmer
Daughter of William Morley Black
And Anna Maria Hansen Black
Born July 20, 1865 at
Circleville, Piute County, Utah
Written as a History for
The Daughters of Utah Pioneers
July 24, 1953 at
Tucson, Pima County, Arizona
By Chloe Amelia Palmer Nelson
Daughter of Olive Myrtle Black Palmer
Mother kept no diary of written account of her life therefore, this history or story is based on experiences and incidences I remember of hearing mother relate and also on childhood and teenage memories of my own.
Mother left Snowflake, Navajo County, Arizona the 1st of February 1885 for Colonia Diaz, Sonora, Mexico arriving there the 31st of March 1885 and after staying about a year moved to San jose, a little Mexican town near the Casas Grande River. This was her first introduction to the Mexican people and their way of living.
From San Jose she went to Stringtown where a group of pioneers had camped. Stringtown was located about a mile south of Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
At this camp they built forts or stockades in which to live. Each stockade had to accommodate eight or nine families. Mother had just moved in her part of a stockade when her third son was born October 14, 1886.
In March or April of 1887 a minor part of the Mexico earthquake gave the little Stockade Village a good sound shaking and scared a year’s growth out of its inhabitants.
During the latter part of April 1887 mother and family pioneered their way up the steep, rugged San Diego Dugway and to Corrales, a picturesque little valley located near Colonia Pacheco, Chihuahua, Mexico.
Corrales was only forty miles from Stringtown but it took ten days to make the trip because the earthquake had torn the road up so badly they had to rebuild it as they went along.
At Corrales mother lived in a wagon and the shelter of pine trees while the little log cabin was being built. And regardless of the fact that she was expecting her fourth child, she helped build the house, clear land, dig an irrigation ditch, plant and care for a garden, raise chickens with an old setting hen and eggs she borrowed from a neighbor, dig post holes, build fences and build shelter for the mule team. Yes, she done all of this besides taking care of her family, and yet she was never too busy to do a daily kind deed or to help a neighbor in need.
Mother was as proud as a queen on a throne the day she took possession of the new home which to her seemed a palace even though the roof and the floors were mother’s contribution. But, believe me, those dirt floors were kept as clean and smooth as possible.
How Mother longed to make rugs for the floors, but could not afford rags for rugs. She made and re-made clothes and handed them down with patch upon patch until when they had gone through the family complete, there wasn’t even a patch left for Pete.
Mother was the family carpenter and with hammer, saw and butcher knife made furniture for the home with old boards, logs or anything she could get hold of. But regardless of how rough and crude the furniture it was scoured to a gleaming cleanliness with white sand and clear, pure water from one of the two rivers near the house.
Each day they tried to add attraction to the home with a finishing touch here and there. But the most beautiful attraction, the one that really added the finishing touch was the love, understanding and co-operation among the inmates of the humble, little home where both of father’s families lived until it was as crowded as sardines in a can. The families’ average increase was two babies every two years.
One by one, I should say two by two the children celebrated their sixth birthday and must go to school. So mother moved to Pacheco. They all stayed with her and attended school at the little one-room log school house where all eight grades were taught.
Father bought a little general merchandise store and moved it near mother’s Pacheco home because she was to be president, manager, sales lady and all the personnel needed for the upkeep of a store.
Besides caring for the store, her family and home, mother had the opportunity nearly every day to give some Mexican or American mother a remedy for her baby’s stomachache or earache, John’s stubbed toe, sister’s sore eyes, Grandma’s or Grandpa’s headache, or what to do for the measles, whooping cough or chickenpox. And if these remedies failed to ease the pain she would take time out to go to the home and give assistance.
Mother’s natural instinct was to be of service to others, especially in time of sorrow, sickness and accident. She often wished she would take a course in nursing so her services would be more valuable.
In 1888 after helping a Mexican woman in confinement, her desire to become a nurse was strengthened and literally fulfilled about ten years later when mother completed a nurse’s course in 1899 and immediately started the career of nurse and midwife. She faithfully followed this career until ill health forced her to retire in 1937.
In order to assist the sick and help bring babies into this world, mother would go anytime of the night or day in all kinds of weather, on horseback, by slow team and wagon or on foot; mostly on foot
Besides giving birth to and raising twelve children of her own, mother helped bring five hundred other babies into the world. Out of the five hundred she lost only two babies and no mothers. The first baby was delivered in 1888 and the last in 1937.
The success of mother’s career can be attributed to her humble, prayerful spirit, miraculous power of endurance and her great love for people.
While living in Mexico mother suffered all the hardships of pioneer life. No one except brave, God-fearing pioneers who felt that no sacrifice was too great for the sake of their religion, could have endured such trials.
Mother experienced the heart-ache of burying two sons, the terrible ordeal of seeing her children suffer from hunger and cold, the strain of fear and uneasiness caused by the unfriendly Mexicans and the wild Apache Indians, wild animals and the terrifying electrical storms.
Several people were brutally murdered by the Indians and Mother narrowly escaped death from the sharp dagger of a young Mexican man father hired with the farm work.
Mother also had happy memories of her Mexico life such as the good old friendly quilting and corn husking bees, the molasses candy pulls and celebrating Pioneer Day with a big community feast of wild onions, corn bread and buttermilk and sheep sorrel pie. Dancing bare-footed on the dirt floor of the little log school house which was also the Church house and recreational center.
After twenty-seven years of sacrifice and hard work mother had just started to enjoy the necessities of life when the 1910 Mexican Revolution started and by 1912 the rebels became so dangerous that President Woodrow Wilson advised all Americans to leave for a while.
The Corrales and Pacheco people left early Tuesday morning July 30, 1912 taking with them only what would be needed on a camping trip, thinking they would soon return to their homes and property. But they never did return.
Although mother had lost all the financial gains of twenty-seven years, she was much richer spiritually and morally because she had laid up for herself “treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust doth consume and where thieves cannot break through and steal.”