My name is Joseph Reuben Larsen, born May the 22nd, 1887 in Cove, Utah My mother and father were John Christian Larsen and Susannah Titensor Larsen.. Father was a hard working man and he taught us to work - one thing that I appreciate him for more than anything that I know of. He was very firm. When he said, you know he'd done it. He never made promises that he didn't keep. He was very well respected in his community. He lived in a scattered ward that was about ten miles from one end to the other. There was no automobile service in those days. He had to ride a horse or go in a wagon. We didn't even have a buggy when I was a small boy. We had to go in a wagon. He was the first Bishop of Cove Ward and the Presiding Elder before he was put in as Bishop. I remember him when I was a small boy. I thought so much of him that he would allow me to go up on the stand where he was sitting at the rostrum and sit on his knee while in church and I thought that was very wonderful to be able to be that close to my father.
My mother was a very sweet, loving person. She cared for her children. She would give rather than have for herself. She would go without things to give it to her children. She was a very well read woman and self-educated. She had very little schooling, but she was very well read. She knew things about different subjects that would surprise everyone. It seemed like she would know it through her self-education and reading. She was very kind, very loving and I honor her and love her very much.
They were married and first lived in Logan and then moved to Cove. We lived on a hill which was the corner of Grandfather Titensor's homestead. He gave it to my mother and father and he built two homes on it. This hill comprised of the approximate vicinity of ten to twelve acres of land. When we would want good cold water we had a spring that came out the side of the hill down at the bottom of the hill - a wonderful spring. We always had good cold water if we had ambition enough to go down the hill to get it.
He had a very fine farm on what we called the Weber River, raised hay and had pasture. He had a farm in Lewiston, a very good farm joining on the property where the sugar factory was built. We raised grain, hay, and sugar beets. My father was quite a speculator on land. He rented what we called the Cutler Ranch and bought a big ranch of 100 to 160 acres of dry-farm wheat land. My brother and I used to hoe tumbleweeds on that ground. believe me we didn't have shoes and the sand would burn our feet. We sure had to have tough, thick skin on the bottom of our feet to be able to stand it. He sold the Cutler Ranch and bought what we called the Pitkin Ranch from a man by the name of George Pitkin - a big place that was dry-farm in Millville, Utah.
In my youth when I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, I'd have six or eight head of horses, hire a kid to go with me, and I'd go out there and take food to last me for a week or two and we would batch it - cook our own meals. We'd have to go two or three miles to water these horses and carry our water that we cooked with and drank. He finally sold that ranch which we were all very thankful for. It was so far away and it was across the valley near Weston, Idaho.
He was a great stockman. He had a very wonderful dairy and that was where I learned to work. When I was five or six years old I learned to milk a cow. Until I got older I'd always have two or three cows to milk. We knew them all by name. When I grew older I'd milk more cows.
When I grew to be fourteen years old my mother moved to Logan so my older brothers and sisters could go to the B.Y. College to school. They all had an opportunity to go to school. My father always said his children could have all the education that they wanted and he'd give them all the help that he possibly could, but it was entirely up to them. They could not come back on him and say that they didn't have a chance at an education because he made it possible for them to have an education.
My father was a polygamist. He had two wives. He married sisters; my mother and Aunt Elly as we all called her. She was a very fine woman. I had to live with her in the winter months, for nine months. My mother moved to Logan which is a distance of sixteen miles from Cove. My Aunt Elly's children would go and live with her and I had to live with Aunt Elly, and I resented it very much. I didn't think it was right then and I don't think it is right now. To think that I was at that age taken away from my mother and had to live with an aunt who was very good to me. But I toughed that out for four years and then it finally came my turn to go to the BYC after I was old enough and was admitted. I didn't graduate from the eighth grade. In those days we had to go to Logan and take a final examination to graduate from the eighth grade. I was very much unprepared because I had to work until late in the fall and quit school early in the spring to go to work on the farm to keep the others in school and help my father out.
As I grew older I worked on the sugar factory and helped build it. I went to school in a little school house on the side of the hill up what they call the upper school house. That was the north part of the ward. It was a little old frame building. And believe me, we towed the mark. I had a teacher by the name of Joseph Thomas. I never will forget it. If we were caught whispering we sure got the lash laid to us. I remember once that I was talking to a boy by the name of Clyde Day. He called us both up. We had to hold out our hands. He had a long ruler and he just reached out and rapped that around both of our hands just for merely whispering. That was how strict they were in those schools. We would walk a distance of a mile and a half to school and back. If the weather was bad we were allowed to ride a horse, my older brother Lou and I. We would tie our dinner bucket on the throat latch of the horse so we could hang on and away we'd ride to school. We had to be there by 9:00 and before I went to school there had to be about twelve or fifteen cows milked and fed. Then we would have our breakfast and get on the horse and go to school and be there at 9:00. Then we would stay there and get home around 4:00 every day.
I liked to fish and my father would allow us to go fishing but the work came first. And I said, Dad, if I pull all these sunflowers on this ditch from here up to the top, can I go fishing ? He said, Yes, you can go fishing if you pull all those weeds up to the road. I started in and the sunflowers were very light, but they got thicker and taller and harder to pull. When I got to the end of the road, why I was exhausted and all in. My father had to build a shade of weeds and sunflowers for me to lay down and I didn't get to go fishing because I had overdone myself in the hot sun.
I had to herd cows when I was a kid. I had to be alone, start out early in the morning and I was put on my own. That was one thing my father did. He would give us some responsibility. While herding these cows I'd have to put them in an alfalfa field and move them out before they got foundered. They'll bloat up and founder and there was danger of loosing one so I had that responsibility to tell when those cows had had enough alfalfa before they were moved into a grass pasture. Believe me that was a lot of responsibility. I worried and wore myself sick about it.
One time I was raking hay and I had a mean mare. Old "Clo" her name was. And I wanted to get that hay raked. I was dumping that hay right and left, had it all hand worked. It wasn't a self-dump. I hit this animal with a willow so she'd go faster and she kicked both feet. I was right close to her and both of her feet came right up - one foot on one side of my head and one the other. Had I been in the way of one of her hooves, there would have been no J. Rube Larsen. The Lord has watched over me many times and preserved my life.
We had cows and some of them were mean to kick. They'd put their foot up in a big, fine bucket of milk and then we'd have to go and empty it and feed it to the hogs. Milk was all we had to live on. We'd take it to the creamery and get our butter and bring the skim milk back and feed to the hogs. And we lived on bread and milk. One night we had what we called "Old Kicker", she was a kicker and my brother Lou got mad and threw a rope around both of her hind feet and threw it up over a pole that was in the top of the barn and we both pulled her up; pulled her right off her hind feet and she couldn't move. Then he went to work and milked her and he sure wasn't very gentle with her.
It seemed to be my job to take the cows to the pasture. We had to go about three miles to drive those cows to the pasture and I had to walk. I had no horse and I'd get so tired. One day he had me herding some sheep to keep them out of the garden. There was a cold north wind blowing and I laid down in the ditch to keep the wind from hitting me. It was very cold. It was in the spring of the year and I went to sleep in the ditch. I never will forget it. My father never said a word to me but walked over and he stood over me and I looked up and there he was. He said, "That's a fine way to herd sheep. They're all over the garden." I said, "I'm cold." That was all he said to me. He was very kind. He had a great deal of wisdom and he had a lot of problems that he had to solve and he never raised a hand on us. I never did see him hurt any of them. He might have given them a little willow or little stick or something, but it didn't amount to much.
One time I thought I was smart enough that I could run away from home and take care of myself. I unhooked the horses off the plow and turned them in the field. I crossed the river bridge, got to the top of the hill and looked back and I began to get cold feet like all kids do that run away from home. When I came back I hooked the horses up, finished the plowing and went home at night. I forgot about running away from home.
Dad was very poor. He had very little. He had a large family and two wives; thirteen or fourteen children. They all were educated and all had a chance and they all went to college. Some of them graduated and some of them didn't I did. I graduated from B.Y. College - four year course. Then I went to school after that at the A.C. It's USU now - Utah State University. I had one semester there. Then I went and talked to George Thomas and John A Widtsoe because my boss wanted me to take charge in one of his big feed yards feeding cattle. They both advised me to take the job and go on and didn't feel it was worth it unless I wanted to go on in education., to take that extra three or four months to get the degree.
So I went back to my old boss, whom I worked for after I got married, and I accepted the job as manager where I got a valuable experience with a man by the name of Lars Hansen - a wonderful experience. He gave me a lot of privileges and a lot of responsibility and I certainly appreciated it. That's how I got into big business; which I call big business when you borrow and handle money to feed 1500 to 2000 cattle. You had to have the experience which I got working for Lars Hansen because he was a big operator. He operated at three or four sugar factories. He bought all the wet beet pulp and fed it to cattle, which was very good cattle feed in those days. They didn't feed but very little grain. They would fatten them on hay and wet beet pulp. I was made manager of the yards at Logan, which I ran for two or three years. He finally got so big he owned a packing house and big feed yards and then he finally went broke.
I quit him at one time and went to Idaho and bought a ranch - not a very big ranch. I ran that for two years. Lars Hansen came in there on a train. They didn't have automobiles, as I said before, that early. He came in there on the train to see us. I had my wife with me, Charlotte. We had him to dinner and he wanted to go out and see my ranch and the cattle that I had. He put a very good proposition up to me. He wanted me to go back to work for him and he'd give me most anything I'd ask for within reason. He gave me a half interest in a ranch that he had in Blacksmith Fork Canyon which ran 720 head of cattle. He'd furnish the money and I'd manage it.
Of course when I had that, after I got the cattle placed on the ranch, why he used me for other things. He'd send me out to buy cattle. I remember I went into southern Utah, into the extreme southern part, what they used to call the "southern Ute cattle long-horn" - thin, emaciated cattle, very poor quality. They didn't have good quality cattle in those days. He sent me in there to buy a string of cattle after I had gone back with him in this business and then he paid me a wage while I was away from my own business looking after his cattle in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. I went down and looked at the cattle and I could hear their bones and hock joints crackle as they went through the brush. They were that thin, running down through a trail. I was very fortunate I was able to see them. At that time I had an automobile. Another man took me in there to see these cattle and I turned them down. I came back and told him I wouldn't buy the cattle because they weren't the kind he should have.
He used to hire a lot of men to buy cattle and he'd give them a dollar a head. One of his dollar-a-head men went in and bought these cattle and that was the thing that broke Lars Hansen. He went broke and lost a lot of money. I guess close to a million dollars when he went broke. He lost his feed yards too. He had borrowed his money from what they called the Portland Cattle Loan Company. I had been feeding a few cattle before, when I had cattle in Idaho. I borrowed mine from Portland Cattle Loan Company and after Hansen went broke the president of the Portland Cattle Loan Company called me in and said, "Are you going to feed cattle this year" ? I said, "Yes". He said, "How many" ? I said I planned on feeding about like I had been feeding - around three or four hundred. Well he said, "Why don't you feed a bunch" ? I said, "What do you mean, a bunch" ? He said, take over the Logan yards which had the capacity to feed 1500 to 2000 cattle - a yard that I had been running for Hansen.
I had the whole responsibility to buy the feed and buy all the cattle. It was turned over to me entirely. I only saw my boss, Lars Hansen, once or twice a year. I used to advise with him on the telephone. He lived in Ogden and I lived in Logan. Mr. Dickey, president of the Portland Cattle Loan Company, wanted me to go into it. "Well I haven't got the money to buy the feed". "Well", he said, We'll arrange the money for that". I said, "I've got a partner now and I've been in feeding and had a little success. I could feed quite a number but I cannot feed what the yards would hold". So he says, "We'll arrange to loan you the money". And I said, "Well, I don't want to go in that big". "Well", he said, "I'll be your partner. We'll make it a three-way partnership"; which we did. The three of us went in on a partnership and borrowed the money from the Portland Cattle Loan Company to buy the cattle and buy the feed.
Well I immediately went to buying feed. I bought feed - hay for $18 a ton which was cheap at that time. It happened to be a dry year. I bought two car loads of corn on the market, on the future, so that I would be protected to have enough feed. It was right after the war and after we got to feeding and got in towards the middle of the winter, Christmas time, the bottom dropped out of the market. We bought cattle for 11 cents a pound. After they were fattened out and ready for market, I had to sell them for 8 cents a pound which was a big loss. But I had had quite a success in turning some land and had made some money and I had in cash around $13,000. When we got through feeding we had lost right close to $50,000 - the difference in what we got for the cattle and the feed and what they were sold for. I was 31 years old when I went into this deal with Mr. Dickey and Actin Lynn; when I bought all these cattle and would up loosing $50,000. I had already put in better than $13,000.
It went on, and the next summer Mr. Dickey called me into Ogden again and wanted to know what I was going to do. "Well", I said, "I think we could pay this debt off. We could all clear ourselves." The depression was on right after the First World War in 1918-1919. I said lambs are selling around 4 cents to 5 cents a pound. I said, if they loan me money to buy 30,000 or 40,000 lambs, I'm sure we'll be able to get out of this in good shape. He said, "all right, you go to work and make the arrangements". I immediately went to Cache Valley and made arrangements to buy sugar beet pulp through Radamon Beet Fields. I had to have herders and camps. And I made arrangements for that. I had it all lined up. Then I left to go to Soda Springs. They had good lambs there. Lambs could have been bought at that time for four and a half to five cents a pound - not too steep. I stayed in the hotel at Soda Springs waiting to get an answer. He said he'd get an answer and to go ahead and make arrangements and I'll let you know. But I'll have to take it up with the company. I waited there and finally I wired them and I said I'm waiting here to buy lambs. They're moving out and they should be bought. What shall I do ? They wired back and said there's a letter at home. You'd better go there and read the letter. I went home and there was a letter there stating that the Portland Cattle Loan Company had quit doing business. It was a slip set-up and it was not loaning any money on livestock. So I wasn't able to do that. Had they let me gone, in six months time, lambs that were selling for four and a half to five cents a pound - the sheep market straightened out to where they were selling for 15 cents a pound. It would have made me not only the $50,000 but another $100,000 on top of it - had I been allowed to go on that deal. But I was broke and I had no money so I couldn't do it. But they did afterwards loan me a little money to feed a few cattle.
I fed some cattle at the Lewiston Feed Yards which had been closed up after Lars Hansen had gone broke. I made enough money, practically enough money to pay off between $13,000 and $16,000 which I owed. So I made enough on those cattle to pay them off. Then they wanted me to pay off the loss of Actin Lynn and I refused to do it. So I did business another way. I went to raising sugar beets in Lewiston. I bought a ranch in Lewiston next to the sugar factory. It was a pretty big ranch for sugar beets. It was in cultivation and I raised beets and we sold them for $4.50 a ton. I put a lot of hard work and money in raising these beets. I wound up in the fall - I didn't have enough money left out of my crop to pay my hired help. So I went to Ogden to see if I could get a job with some commission firm.
A man by the name of Del Hampton said that he would furnish the money if I wanted to go to Colorado and buy cattle and we'd go 50-50. I said I can't afford to. I said if you want to give me $150 a month and 20% of what I can make, I'll go. This was the finest thing that ever happened to me - that I had gone broke and I had to go out in the world. I was just past 30 or 32 and I had never had such a shock and a loss as I had taken in feeding cattle and then trying to pay it back by farming - which I knew I never would be able to do. So I went in to Colorado and started buying cattle. I landed there the middle of November. Bought some cattle, moved them, and I was keeping close touch with the man I was working for. Then he said, go on, buy some more, keep buying them. I had another man with me from Grand Junction, Colorado - from there down to the New Mexico border on the western slope of Colorado where I bought these cattle. That was a wonderful experience for me. One that I'll never forget. It was really the turning point in my life to show me what I could do when you are thrown on your own and you have the responsibility - and these responsibilities were given to me by my father, which I appreciate very, very much. Gone broke as bad as I had, I came home at Christmas time and I had to draw my $150. The accountant figured out my account and they handed me a check for $375 which was 20% of what I had made while I was in Colorado up to that time. Then I went back into Colorado after the holidays.
My Grandfather Larsen was a very fine gentleman. He was a very intelligent man, a man that I admired. He spent his early days teaching the gospel in Denmark and Norway - that you can get from his history. When he moved here he went to Sanpete County and farmed there for several years. I don't know how many. Then he moved to Logan, Cache Valley and he had a farm there. From somewhere in his life I've been told that he went into Nebraska and did some contracting. I remember him when I was a small boy, going and staying with him, he and my grandmother. She was a very queenly woman. I remember the fine, beautiful, clean home she had. I could always remember that she had and kept it so spic and span. I was always glad to go there. I remember one time when I had broken my arm. My father took me to the doctor and then he took me there and they laid me on a beautiful reclining chair and I thought, oh my, this is heaven, because I was a poor kid living in Cove on a farm and we were very poor people. My grandfather had a small farm and I would stay with him and I would walk up what they called the "hollow". He had his farm up at the mouth of Logan Canyon. He owned I guess 160 acres in there. He was cutting hay and I would walk up there to see him and I would help him and watch him. I was a small boy but I remember him as a very fine man. He gave a lot of patriarchal blessings and he gave me one. He enjoyed it. He used to go around and give them to his relatives. He would always make a trip to Sanpete County, to Spring City. He'd give blessings down there and a lot of those people were his brothers' children. He was a very fine man. I remember when Berneice was born he came to the house. He found out that mother was so sick and that poor man walked up and down the sidewalk for hours, all the rest of the day, just worrying and praying that everything would be all right for her. Berneice was born on his birthday, the 21st day of March. He named Berneice, which we were always very glad for. But I remember him as a very fine gentleman and my Grandmother Larsen was a queenly woman. She was a wonderful cook. Her mother had been a cook for the king and she knew how to cook - and cook beautiful food. She had a very fine home and that's the way I remember my Grandmother Larsen.
My Grandfather Titensor was a master mechanic. He came from England here, and Brigham Young sent him from Salt Lake to Cache Valley to build mills. He was a millwright and he put in all the fine machinery for grinding grain in High Creek Mill and the Muddy Mill which was on the Muddy River. Then he was the first master mechanic on the Utah Northern Railroad and he knew his business. He built a miniature engine when he was a boy in England. That was part of his training when he was an apprentice. This has all been told to me. I don't know too much about it. Then he worked for the railroad after they had taken the Utah Northern and it was the Union Pacific and went into Pocatello. He went to Pocatello and worked for them on all their technical and engineering work. He would make trips home to the old homestead. He would come home and I seemed to be a favorite of his grandchildren. He was always giving them a little money, but mine would always be a quarter and the others maybe would get a nickel or a dime, but I always got my quarter. My grandfather would get me on his knee at the breakfast table and give me a sip of tea once and a while out of his cup. He was a good man. He was a very wonderful man. He was quite an inventor. After he retired from the railroad they were raising sugar beets and he invented a sugar beet topper. It would work very good - the first sugar beet topper I had ever heard of. It had to be operated by hand but then he had it so it would go. He put it on wheels and he'd wheel it down the row and he'd turn a handle and it had a knife on it and it would come down and chop the sugar beets. But it was too slow. I don't suppose it was profitable to run, but he did invent that and he invented a lot of things. If there was anything wrong at any time with any machinery, he could always fix it. I used to spend many hours in his old blacksmith shop watching him doing work mending things and fixing things. He was a high-classed man, a very fine man.
My Grandmother Titensor went to see him one time at Pocatello. She was riding the train and when they called out Pocatello she thought they were there. She got up and went to the door and fell off the train before they got in, before it was stopped. She was injured and she never did get over that injury. She died in a wheelchair. The wheelchair was a rocker. She was a very lovely woman. She had been a president of the Relief Society. She had done a lot of good. She was a very fine woman. They were very high class people and I'm very proud of my heritage.
My dad claimed he was in the Blackhawk War. They tried to get a pension for him but they couldn't quite make it. He said that he carried water to the soldiers in the Blackhawk War but he wasn't eligible for a pension. Some of them got pensions that didn't do as much as he did. If he would have had the right kind of connections and the right people handling it, he no doubt would have got one. But he was a small boy. He was on a load of hay at one time when they lived in Sanpete and the Indians took after them and they shot the lines off between my grandfather's hands and the horses. So he dropped down on the tongue between the horses to guide them. He told my Uncle Brig and my father to crawl down in the hay so the Indians wouldn't hit them with their arrows. They made it into town without any accident.
My father lived in Logan when he was a young man. He used to chop ties. When they first went up Logan Canyon they had to furnish ties to the Utah Northern Railroad. They hired my father to fish for them. He used to catch fish for the men who were working when he was a boy. Fish were very abundant in those days I guess. He used to catch an awful lot of fish that way. And then of course he chopped ties. That was the way he made his living, chopping ties - hard work, tough work to go up there and chop ties and hew them off.

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Dennis Larsen

10890 Bohm Place
Sandy, UT 84094
United States