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Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Generations Project- Goshen, Utah

I'd like to introduce you all to the home of Everett and Winona Okelberry of Goshen, Utah.  They are the grandparents of my grandmother Leta Rae Adelman Lauret.  That makes them my great-great grandparents.  Isn't it beautiful?  Well, I'm pretty sure it was more beautiful when they lived in it.

It was at Steve's family's reunion back in June that I noticed that the town of Goshen was only a few miles away from Genola (where the reunion was held).  Goshen?  That's where my ancestors are from!  As a nerd for all things family history, I cooked up a plan to take my family on an adventure to discover the land of my ancestors that weekend.
So, first stop was the Okelberry home.  We didn't have an address, but I remembered that it was 200 something and it was on a corner.  That's good enough, right?  Well, in a town as small as Goshen, that's all you really need, so we drove around until we figured out where it was (took us less than 5 minutes).  I recognized the brick home from the pictures I've seen, plus my grandma pointed it out to me in person a few years ago when we were in Goshen for her Aunt Mabel's funeral.
So, anyway, we found the house.  The place was thick with weeds both inside the fence and out, but at least the ones inside the fence were mowed down at some point.  I was leery about knocking on the door and asking if we could take pictures of the house, mostly because a mean old dog was barking like heck at us from the backyard.  I noticed he was tied up, but he was lunging hard enough against his fraying rope that I didn't feel safe at all.  Soon, all the commotion alerted the occupant of the home and I saw a man's face peek out the curtains at us.  Not wanting him to pull a gun on us or call police, I decided I had better knock and explain myself.  Family history shouldn't be this frightening.

So, I opened the iron gate and knocked on the door.  I'm not even sure that front door had been opened in years, the structure of the porch was a little "iffy," and it didn't appear that too many people actually went to the front door (can you blame them with the furious beast tied up in back?), but I ventured anyway.  

It took the man over a minute to open the door, I think he had to move furniture or something, and when he finally opened it, he only cracked it about a foot.  His unshaven face and bare chest had me wondering if he had just thrown on some pants to answer the door, and by the look on his face, I knew I was intruding upon his time and property.  I wondered if he was holding a rifle in his hand behind the door because he had such a distrusting look about him.  

I told him that I was in the area doing family history and wanted to take some outdoor pictures of his house because my grandma was born in it.  He looked at me like he didn't believe me, and asked who my grandma was.  I told him her name.  He said, "No.  I don't think so.  This home has always belonged to the Whites."  

Surely, he doesn't know this family history, I thought.  I responded, "Yes!  The Whites!  That's all a part of the same family.  Again, he shot me a look of disbelief.  I continued, "John Watson White... and the Okelberrys..."  I guess the name Okelberry was the keyword because he nodded his head in agreement and said, "Alright.  Go ahead."  And waved me off.  With that, I thanked him, he closed the door, and that was the end of it! 
So, I stood with my girls in front of the iconic iron fence and Steve snapped our pictures.  Below is a photo of my great-greats in front of the same fence, only their backs are to the mountains, not their home.
Winona White Okelberry and Everett J. Okelberry
I must admit that I had hoped that the current occupants of the Okelberry home would find my family history search compelling and invite my family in for a tour and tell me all they knew about the home, maybe even offer the kids some cookies.  However, once I arrived I felt unwelcome and I was just happy to get a few photos of the exterior.

So, like I said before, my grandma was born in this home, although it was actually her grandparent's home.  Her parents were in between homes as they were in the process of moving from Flin Flon, Canada to Dividend, Utah (a few miles from Goshen), and it was at this time that they were staying with "Grandma and Grandpa Okelberry"that my grandma was born.  Shortly after, my grandma's dad got more hours at the mine, and the family moved to the company town of Dividend.

I loved finding out that the Okelberry home was a gathering place that brought friends and family together, building bonds and molding memories.  According to my grandma, the whole Okelberry family loved to sing, yet she feels that talent never came naturally to her.  A neighbor of the Okelberrys reminisced that after church on Sundays, the Okelberrys would come home, open up the windows, sing and play the piano, and all the neighbors would gather and sit out on the lawn to listen and sing along and be together.  If I ever get to time travel, I'm going to back to that time and place to witness the unity and friendship that home provided. 

There was an instance when the Okelberry family were entertaining company in the parlor, talking and singing, just having a great time.  Their youngest daughter, 3-year-old Mabel, was one that never wanted to miss out on any of the fun.  She was busily playing on the floor, then she suddenly got up brought her potty pot into the center of the living room (this was before the home had indoor plumbing), dropped her bloomers to her ankles, and with all eyes on her, she did her business in the middle of the party.  Everyone had a good laugh.  I wonder what other stories the walls would tell!

My grandma related to me that Goshen didn't have much in the way of shopping, so they would often travel to Payson to do their shopping.

After Aunty Mabel's funeral in July 2011, I was able to see the following antiques that used to be a part of the Okelberry's daily lives.   They are in the possession of my grandma's cousin, Susan Egan, that lives in Spanish Fork.

The butter stamp Winona used for the butter she made and sold.
This recipe book is a treasure!  I wrote another blogpost about it here.
Winona's handwritten recipe book

A lovely chest.

Their bed and rocking chair.
While at her home, Susan showed me a picture of the old farm that belonged to Everett and Winona.  If this farm was in their backyard, it's sure not there anymore.  But, here's the picture:
At my grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary, I interviewed them, and my grandma spoke about her grandparents~
Question: When you were a child, who were the oldest relatives that you knew, and what can you tell us about them? 
Leta: I guess that would be my grandparents, Everett and Winona Okelberry in Goshen, Utah.  Grandpa was a sheepherder, he ran sheep.  It was really exciting to be down to their place when, they take the sheep up in the mountains in the summer and raise them and everything, then they bring them back in the fall for harvest.  And it was really exciting to be there with all the sheep in the barnyard.  I was only 8 or 10 years old, I just watched.  I got to help ___ once in a while.  Grandma she ran the household and Grandpa ran the yard.  They had a, well, if you’re ever in Goshen, if you go up Main Street about 2 blocks and I think it was there around their house, the house is still there, a little older than them.  Big yard for a garden out in the back of the house by the barnyard.  I think at that time my dad was working for Tintic Standard Mining in Dividend, Utah, which is no longer there.

Before we left the Okelberry home, I had Steve take a few pictures of the backyard.  I intended to show it to my grandma when I went to visit her this summer, but I didn't bring the pictures with me.  But, here is what the house looks like now.  I'd like to ask my grandma how things have changed.
Here's the back corner of the property with a shed.
A wider view of the back of the property:
After our photoshoot of the Okelberry Home in Goshen, we went visit the Goshen cemetery to see the burial places of many of my ancestors. 

Before we headed out of town, I snapped a picture of this old building.  Again, I intended to ask my grandma about it, but didn't get the chance. 
Perhaps it was a dancehall or a city building?

It's all boarded up now.

On the main street in Goshen, you see this unattractive apartment. 
But it wasn't always an apartment.  It was a general store run by my great-great-great grandpa, Peter Okelberry, and his family.  I believe the store was known as "Okelberry and Sons."  And it was more than a store, if I remember rightly.  I think he did dentistry and even cut hair, too.  You can kinda see the old advertisements that have been painted over on the side of the building.

Paint peeling on the side of the building

front corner of the store, now an apartment

The store was that 2 story orange building on the right.
As you drive out of Goshen back towards Santaquin, you see the remains of the mining industry on the mountainside. 

Just below this structure on the mountainside,  there are natural pools where my grandma remembers going swimming with her daddy.  He would swim around with her on his back when she was just a little girl. 

I loved getting to know my ancestors a little better by visiting the town they called home.  I hope you enjoyed getting to know them a little better too!


Amanda Lauret said...

Thanks for sharing! I did enjoy reading the stories you shared about your family. :)

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon this post while looking for Okelberry history. The building you pcitured was a dance hall and it originally had an upper story. It functioned as an apartment building in the 30's and I've heard it was a store too. But I can't verify that. I love Goshen, thanks for the great pictures and story.

Eva said...

The building was a dance hall and before that an apartment building. The basement was a confectionary. Later the hall was a Veteran's Hall and the basement was a senior citizen center.
The store you picture was actually Curley's Market, owned by Evelyn (Curley) Kirk and was across the street east of the old Okelberry Store.