Emma Jenkins and William Cole, Jr. were the parents of
fifteen children. I, Mary Ann Cole, was
their eighth child born 17 February 1871 in Nephi,
Father and Mother also raised three other children. Needless to say, our home was a busy one and also a very happy one. I was always busy as a child. Never in my life, until I was married, did I have ten minutes to lie down to take a nap. I must admit though, that some of my time was spent in playing tricks on my brothers and sisters and the neighborhood children. I used to mix flour and water, roll it thin, and then put it on my face. The result was quite frightening to my younger brothers and sisters.
I remember one neighbor boy who everyone called “Fatty”. We had been making valentines to send our friends and had run out of material by the time we thought of him. I said, “Come on! I know how we can send him a valentine.” I took a piece of chalk and crawled on my hands and knees up to his front steps. Then I drew a valentine on the top step. I crawled back down the walk, threw a handful of gravel on the door, and hid behind a bush with the other children. “Fatty” came to the door, looked down at the step and called his Mother to come and see the valentine. When his Mother saw it, she knelt down to pick it up. Of course she couldn’t and we all started to laugh. I laughed so hard I couldn’t even run away when the others did.
One time my two brothers, Will and Jim, were working away from home on a ranch. They came home on April Fool’s Day and said they wanted coffee for breakfast. I said I would make it. I got a handful of hops and steeped them real good. It was yellow and I knew they would suspect something, so I got some sorghum and stirred that in it to make it dark. I poured it in their cups and put cream and sugar in it. Will came in first and as soon as he sat down he picked up his cup and took a big swallow. He spit and sputtered and was ready to tear into me when I heard Jim coming in. Is said, “Sh-sh, Jim is coming.” As soon as Jim took a swallow and I saw his reaction, I took off fast.
Mother was jovial and full of fun, but Father would never let us joke with her even on April Fool’s Day. He felt it wasn’t showing her enough respect and reverence. When Father wasn’t there Mother was like a child with me, and we always had such a good time together. She was a short woman, rather plump and always busy. Whenever there was sickness or an epidemic in the town, she was always on the go from one place to the other helping all she could, even though she had a large family of her own to care for. One year between February 1 and April 15 Mother had ten cases and measles and nine cases of diphtheria to care for in our family.
Father was a small, thin man and very quiet. The children were very obedient to him, but
it was Mother who disciplined us. He was
a liberal giver to all donations and always picked the most
choice item when he paid his tithing.
Father came to
I was baptized in the creek that runs through Nephi by Thomas
Crawley on 3 September 1879. I remember
it clearly. There must have been a
hundred immigrants from
Our family home in Nephi was located one block east of the tabernacle. Because we were so close to the tithing office, store, etc., we often had pioneer friends of my Father from out of town spend the night with us.
I went to grade school in Nephi and also attended one year
My hair was cut for the first time when I was twelve years old. Father always wanted my hair long and I remember one time when I had it cut, I wore a bonnet all the next day so he wouldn’t see it.
When my sisters and I were old enough to go out with fellows, we were allowed to go to only one dance a week. We had to be home at 9:00 o’clock in the winter and 10:00 o’clock in the summer. We could never stand at the gate and talk to our boy friends, but we could ask him in the house.
During my teens I always went to Mutual, taught a Sunday School class, and for years I sang in the tabernacle choir
and Sunday School choir in Nephi. My
cousin, Henrietta Henroid, and I also used to sing
duets in various meetings, dances, etc.
While living in
I remember the first time I heard anyone talk in tongues. I was very curious and asked Mother about it. Later I heard one of our neighbors speak in tongues. He prophesied that the Lord would bring a scourge on the people that would start in the House of the Lord. As the scourge would spread it would get worse and people would die so fast that there wouldn’t be enough coffins to bury them in. I saw that fulfilled. It was reported in a Chicago newspaper that people were dying so fast from the flue in that city that they weren’t able to bury them because they didn’t have enough coffins.
I also heard Sister Frees, who was on the General Board of the MIA, speak and sing in tongues. If you ever hear someone speak in tongues, the spirit you feel will stay with you for a long time. It has been a testimony to me. So much was said about people who had the gift that I believe that is why the Lord took it away.
When I was sixteen, I had another experience which strengthened my testimony a great deal. Grandfather Jenkins wanted to go to the Manti temple to do work for the dead. My cousin, Margeret Jenkins, and I went along to tend the children. One night Grandfather woke up and called to his son, Jim. He told him to get a paper and pencil and to write down the names that had just been revealed to him. He gave Jim eight or ten names and all the information necessary at that time to do their work.
I only worked out of the home once in my life and that was for only four weeks. I cared for a sick lady and earned $6.00. I gave half of my earnings to my sister, Cora, and bought me some shoes with the other half.
I don’t think anyone had more fun out of life than I have. When I look back on my life, I don’t regret one thing that I have done. I only wish I had taken more of a public part in the church. I told the president of the MIA once that she could ask me to sing any time, any place, but not to ask me to talk. I was self-conscious in that respect and afraid of criticism. Once I thought I would make a break and bear my testimony in Levan. A girl got up in front of me and was bearing hers. Two girls in back of me criticized everything she said, so that stopped me.
I was engaged to Hyrum Smith’s grandson, Frank Harris, at one time, but my feelings changed. After that I met Dad at a dance and started going with him. He had to ride a horse from Levan to Nephi to see me, and so when we would go to a dance he would bring his suit with him and change his clothes at our place. One night after a dance, he changed his clothes and left the trousers of his suit hanging on the bedpost. My brother, Wilford, came out the next morning and said, “I sure hope Joe gets home before daylight. He left his pants on the bedpost.” They teased me about that for months.
Dad’s full name is Joseph William Francom. He was the second child born to Martha Heaton
and Joseph Francom on 7 October 1869 in
He was baptized in
Dad went to school in Levan until
he was ten years old, then he went to school in Payson and plowed for his Uncle
Sam. The school house (
When Dad was fourteen he had to help support the family because of his father’s health. He and his brother, George, always took the sheep to the desert during the summer. Dad was twenty-one when his Father died on 23 July 1891. Just before his death, he called Dad to him and told him that it was his responsibility to care for his Mother and the other children, and Dad did just that.
Dad and I went together for a year and half before we were
married. It was on 6 February 1895 in
I can’t help but say that I have had a happy life all the way through. We never had a serious quarrel or difference. When I married Dad I married him for eternity, and I always felt that nothing justified me feeling any other way. I don’t’ think anyone could have had a happier life together than we did, and I wouldn’t trade my married life for anything.
Dad never teased me in any way, shape or form before we were married, but from the time we walked down the hill from the temple, he started in and never let up. He said, “Well now, remember that you have promised to obey me.” I said, “I never promised anything of the kind. I recall that it said obey in righteousness, and so when I consider it righteous, I’ll mind.” He would say, “I’m the boss.” I would answer, “That’s all right with me as long as I don’t know it.” He would tell me, “I’m the head of the house.” Then I would retort, “I’m the neck and you can’t move without me.”
We lived in Levan when we were first married. There were only three English families in the whole town. The rest of the people were Scandinavians of Danish and Swedish origin.
On 9 August 1896 our first child was born. It was a girl and we named her Myrle Dean Francom. She weighed seven pounds.
Ten weeks later on 26 Oct 1896, Dad was ordained a seventy
and set apart for a mission to the Northern States by apostle Heber J.
Grant. He labored in South Illinois and
When Myrle was six month old I had her picture taken and sent it out to Dad. The other Elders got it first and put I on a shelf in Dad’s room. When Dad came home, they had him look at the picture and he didn’t know his own child. They had quite a joke on him.
While Dad was in
Before Dad went on his first mission, his mother wanted a new front room and the back part of her house torn down and built up again. It was the first carpentry work Dad had ever done, but he worked 15 and 16 hours a day to finish it before he left.
The president of the Stake, William Paxman, came to our home just before Dad went on his mission and said he wanted to give me a blessing. He knew every thought and worry I had about Dad leaving and blessed me accordingly. He gave Dad a blessing also and the same thing happened.
Dad was released from his mission on 21 December 1898. He had been gone twenty-six months, and when he came home we were almost broke. Before he went on his mission he sold his sheep and bought cattle from his uncle. He sold the cattle to finance his mission and then we had a little money from the crop. Dad’s father, Joseph Francom, had divided his farm among the boys, so Dad had his part and was also running his Mother’s part prior to going on his mission.
In 1899 Dad was ordained a high priest and set apart as a high councilman in the Juab Stake by Francis M. Lyman, who was ordained an apostle by his father, Amery M. Lyman, who was called and ordained an apostle by the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon.
That same year we bought a farm from a neighbor, George Larsen, that was located just through the block from our house. Our second child, Joseph Edgar Francom, was born 10 October 1899.
Martha Gladys Francom, our third child, was born 21 November 1901.
In March, 1902, we moved from Levan
to Midway in
I had a doctor for the first time when our fourth child,
Vivian Eugene Francom, was born in Midway on 15 Sep 1903. I had a midwife engaged, but two weeks before
The smallest child I had was Glen. He only weighted 9 pounds and
We left Midway because of my health. I had to move to a lower altitude. In May 1906, Dad was released as Bishop of
the Midway Ward and we moved to Elwood,
The next month on 25 June 1906, Delma Francom, our fifth child, was born.
Dad had built a two-room lean-to without a partition on the farm we bought in Elwood the fall before we moved. It was just a shell of a house. In front of it he built a corral. Machinery fenced off the corral in front, and the house was the fence in back. The farm was all in sagebrush. That spring Dad cleared part of it away and planted grain. He hired Henry Reid for half a day to plow and did the rest alone. After he had harvested the grain, he built two rooms in front of the lean-to and later built two rooms in front of that. He was going to have it all veneered with brick except the lean-to, but when the architect came I told him I wanted the lean-to changed also. So they used old bricks to build it up the necessary two feet and veneered that too.
In 1908 Bear River Stake was organized and Dad was set apart as a high councilman in that Stake. He served in that capacity for 22 years. In 1909 he was also set apart as a member of the Bear River Stake Sunday School Board and filled that position for 19 years.
Our sixth child, Glen Cole Francom, was born on 26 May 1909.
When President Grant called for voluntary six-month
missionaries, Dad volunteered and was called to labor in the Southern states in
November 1909. He labored in
As a rule we never showed affection for one another in front
of the children. When Dad was leaving to
Our seventh child, Wayne LaVar Farncom, was born on 24 February 1911. Two years later on 3 April 1913, Wilbur Dee Francom was born. On 20 May 1915 the Lord blessed us with another son and we named him Mark Virgil Francom.
On 1 March 1916 Myrle married John
Wilkinson Kendell in the
On 13 December 1921
Dad bought a dry farm in
There was quite a lot of lava rock on the farm, and it was just filled with snakes. The bachelor that we bought the farm from didn’t believe in killing animals and wouldn’t kill even one snake. We were just moving when John and Myrle came out to visit us. I remembers they wouldn’t sleep in the house for fear of rattle snakes. They made their bed on the hay rack.
There were also coyotes on the farm, and while we were living out there a deer was killed in the mountains by a wild cat. The men hunted for it, but couldn’t find it. One day Virgil came to the house proud as a peacock because he had just killed the mother cat and one of her kittens. It nearly scared me to death.
Dad acted as a ward teacher in the Snowville
ward for two years. In 1928 he
volunteered for another six-month mission to
In 1939 we moved back to Bear River Stake and he was called
to do Stake Missionary work there. He
also labored as a ward teacher in Elwood until 1943 when we moved to the Center
For two years during the winter, Dad and I lived in a
trailer house and worked in the
Dad and I were both blessed with good health throughout our lives. I only had one operation and that was for gall stones. The doctor told me after the operation that I hadn’t used my gall bladder for 20 years. He found one stone just a little smaller than a hen’s egg and several other ones.
Dad’s nose was operated on for skin cancer in
As I said before, we have had a happy life. I have been blessed with so much and I am very grateful for all the Lord has given me. I only hope that my children have been, and will be as happy as I have been and that they will live the gospel and keep the commandments that the Lord has given us.
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The history written above was told to me, Donna Vee Cornia, by my grandmother, Mary Ann Cole Francom, in August 1953.
At 83 years of age Grandmother still enjoys life to the
fullest. She loves to laugh and joke
with everyone she comes in contact with whether it is someone in the family or
a clerk at the store. She is a little
woman with dark flashing eyes and short, naturally curly hair that she combs
back in soft waves. She lives alone in
an apartment in Tremonton,
Her mind and hands are always busy. She loves to read church books, good novels
and the newspaper to keep abreast of current affairs. Her favorite form of handiwork is crocheting,
but she knits, sews, and embroideries.
During the last two years she has crocheted three afghans
and is now thinking of making another one.
I couldn’t begin to estimate the number of doilies, hot pads, pillow
cases, and miscellaneous items she has made throughout her life. I do know, however, that she has crocheted an
alter cloth for the
Another interesting hobby that Grandmother has is collecting salt and pepper shakers. To date (December 1953) she has over 90 salt and pepper shakers. She keeps them all in a glass china cupboard where all can be seen and where she can enjoy them. She can tell you where each pair came from and who gave them to her.
She also loves flowers, unusual pieces of wood, rocks, nick-nacks, lamps, etc. She has many such articles that she has collected over the years and which she treasures highly, but only a few are displayed at a time. She has very good taste and rotates her things so that she might enjoy them all.
Grandmother is very well learned in the principals of the gospel and lives them as best she can. Even though she isn’t always able to hear the speakers, she attends Sacrament Meeting every Sunday. Her life has always been centered around the church. Five of her six living sons went on missions, and as stated above, Grandfather went on three foreign missions and three stake missions after they were married.
She and grandfather have given their posterity a wonderful heritage; one that we all can be justly proud of. They have not only preached the gospel to others, but have lived it themselves as best they could and have taught it to their children. May we all follow their wonderful example.
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When Grandmother was unable to live alone, she took turns
living with her daughters, Myrle, Gladys, and Delma, a month or so at a time. Finally, when they were no longer physically able
to care for her, she lived in a nursing home in
She was 97 years old when she died on 8 December 1968. At that time she had six living children (Myrle, Gladys, Delma, Wayne,
Virgil and Farrel), 39 grandchildren, 68
great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren. She was buried in the
History of Joseph William Francom & Mary Ann Cole, as told to Donna Vee Cornia by Mary Ann Cole, Aug 1953. Retyped 22 Nov 2005 from the original by J.F.