Dortha Roxana Rollins (Madsen)
|Also Known As:||"Dortha R. McKinney"|
|Birthplace:||Bloomington, Bear Lake, Idaho, United States|
|Death:||Died in Simi Valley, Los Angeles, California, USA|
|Cause of death:||Stroke|
|Place of Burial:||Safford, Graham, Arizona, USA|
Daughter of Christian Jacobson Madsen and Roxana Louisa Welker Madsen
|Occupation:||Married 9/23/1885 John Henry Rollins, Jr. He died 1889. Then Joseph Thomas McKinney 4/15/1897. She had 6 children, 2 with John and 4 with Joseph.|
|Managed by:||Della Dale Smith-Pistelli|
Historical records matching Dortha Roxana Madsen Rollins
About Dortha Roxana Madsen Rollins
The above photo was probably taken about 1890, since Dortha Roxana's daughter, Dortha Evelyn Rollins, would have been about 3 or 4 years old then and her son, John Delbert Rollins, would have been about 2 years old. Dortha's husband, John Henry Rollins, Jr., passed away on Christmas Day, 1889, in Arizona, after a tragic accident involving the wagon in which he was riding. The above photo was taken in Ogden, Utah, according to the writing at the bottom of the photograph. Perhaps Dortha was in Ogden visiting family members at the time. She had been living in Arizona since 1883 when some of the Madsen, Welker, Dustin, Jacobsen, Stevens, and Greenhalgh families moved from Bloomington, Bear Lake, Idaho, to Safford, Graham County, Arizona Territory. Her father's family, the Madsen's had lived in Utah before moving to Bloomington. Her father, Christian, came to America from Denmark in 1853 with friends of the family at the age of 9 years old, and his parents came a few years later in 1857, after joining the Mormon church in Denmark.
There are other photos of Dortha under the Media Tab above, including one of her on the front porch of her home in Bakersfield with her grandson, James Rollins Eubank,(my uncle) taken in about 1920, when he was about 4 or 5 years old. Another photo shows Dortha when she was living in Los Angeles, probably about 1930, wearing a long black coat with fur around the collar. There is also one with her son with her second husband, Dan Carroll McKinney, which may have been taken sometime around 1915 or 1916. There is another photo of her in her older years, most likely taken when she was living with her daughter, Thelma McKinney Riess in the 1940's in Santa Susana, the Simi Valley of suburban Los Angeles. And the last photo shows her gravestone in Safford, Arizona, where she was buried in August of 1953. Following is an obituary for Dortha, and then parts of a diary she kept in the late 1930's and early 1940's.
OBITUARY: Dortha R. McKinney....."SAFFORD -- Funeral services for Mrs. Dortha R. McKinney, 84, will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Rawson Mortuary in Safford. Mrs. McKinney died Friday at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Thelma Riess in Simi, California. Mrs. McKinney was born in Bloomington, Idaho, in 1869, the eldest child of Mormon Pioneers, Mr. and Mrs. Christian Madsen, who in 1883 moved their family by overland wagon train to Safford. Survivors include two sons, Delbert Rollins of Barstow, California, and Dan C. McKinney of Tucson; three daughters, Mrs. Evelyn Eubank of Los Angeles, and Mrs. Riess and Mrs. Gladys Beals of Mesa. She is also survived by three sisters, Mrs. Bertie Branch and Mrs. Zettie Bingham, both of Safford, and Mrs. Sylvia Elledge of Phoenix."
Below are parts of a diary that Dortha wrote beginning in the late 1930's and continued into the early 1940's. In her diary she talked about the move her family made from Bloomington, Bear Lake County, Idaho, to Safford, Arizona, in 1883 when she was just 14 years old, and also about her family, including her father, Christian Madsen, and her mother, Roxanna Louisa Welker Madsen, who was born in Iowa in 1851 while her Mormon parents, John Welker and Roxana Mahala Dustin Welker, were getting ready to cross the plains going to Utah. The diary also talks a little bit about her grandparents on both the Madsen and Welker sides of the family during the time she was growing up in Idaho.
I really wish my great grandmother would have written about her first husband, John Henry Rollins, Jr., who died in a tragic accident at the age of 24, when their daughter was just three years old and their son one year old, but sadly, she did not. My mother told me stories about my great grandfather Rollins, indicating he worked on an ox or mule team that hauled borax out of the mines in Arizona or California. Supposedly, he fell off the wagon, his head was crushed by the wheels of the wagon, and he died on Christmas day in 1889. At the end of her diary there is a bit of information about the 20 Mule Team that hauled Borax out of Death Valley, California. Maybe there was some connection between Dortha's former husband and this little story, about the 20 Mule Team, but I'm not certain.
"Fragments of the Past by Dortha Roxana Madsen Rollins McKinney", dated Sunday, January 3, 1937:
On September 23, 1883, with my parents, brothers and sisters, in company with our grandparents and several other families, we started from Bloomington, Idaho, for Arizona. We crossed at a spot on Lee’s Ferry, arriving at our destination November 5, 1883. Here is the route taken by the Madsen, Welker and Dustin families from Bloomington, Bear Lake County, Idaho in 1883 to Safford, Arizona:
From Idaho to Utah, Logan, Provo, Nephi, Johnson, over Buckskin Mountains, House Rock Spring, Saap Creek, Lee's Ferry, Bitter Spring, to Willow Springs, Limestone Tank, Moan Cappa Wash (also known as Moan Cappy or Moenkopi), Holbrook, Woodruff, Snowflake, Concho (then Springville), Bush Valley, Luna Valley, toward Sucarro, New Mexico, then down the Frisco in New Mexico, Ash Springs, San Jose, Solomonville, and Safford. We traveled down the Gunnison River. We crossed the lower crossing of Lee’s Ferry.
Our party consisted of the following: Christian Madsen family, John Welker, Eller Welker, Jacob Welker, Adam Welker, Peter Jacobsen, Roswell Stevens, Malinda Dustin Stevens, Nephi Dustin, Chauncey Dustin, Andrew Thorsen, and Sis Welker. The first school we went to in Safford was a one-room adobe, on the lot where the Kirtland Blacksmith Shop now stands.
(NOTE: "Sis Welker" may have been her aunt Eliza Madsen Welker, the sister of Dortha's father, Christian Madsen, and the wife of Alfred Welker, who was a cousin of Christian's wife, Roxanna Louisa Welker Madsen.)
March 11, 1940:
Today is my birthday. I am 71 years “young” today. I was born March 11, 1869, in Bloomington, Bear Lake County, Idaho. My parents’ names were Christian and Louisa Madsen. My father came to America from Denmark at the age of 9 years. His parents having been converted to the Mormon religion, prepared to immigrate to this country.
There happened to be, at that time, another family who, for the same reason, was sailing for the U.S. My father’s parents were not quite ready to leave, as they were trying to dispose of their worldly goods. Having a large family, for some reason or other, they sent father on with these people and gave them five hundred dollars to care for him until they could join him there. (NOTE: Christian Madsen's parents, Jacob and Dortha, were not able to come to the United States until around 1856 or 1857. Christian's youngest brother, Jacob Madsen, was born in Utah in 1860.)
I have forgotten the length of time that elapsed before they left Denmark. They sacrificed a great deal of money and property, not being able to take much out of their country. It took several weeks to cross the ocean in those days. My father was very ill most of the way. The people to whom he had been entrusted were unkind to him and also neglectful of his comfort and needs. He was lonely and home sick, a little boy on the wide ocean, friendless and frightened, in route to a strange land where he could not even talk or understand the language.
The family he was with remained in the East for some time, several months, or until they could arrange to start their weary trek with other Pioneers across the plains to Utah, which was the place they and my father’s family had started for, a home in the rocky mountains of America, where they would be free to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, free from the hands of royal rule, to a land with new possibilities and freedom.
However, these God loving and God fearing people continued with their indifference toward the lonely little boy. They themselves suffered terrible hardship, but they had no sympathy for anything but their own. For many weeks they struggled with desert sands and mountain trails with bleeding feet and half filled stomachs. They would camp at night with hearts filled with fear from the attacks of hostile Indians and fear of the loss of an animal out of their teams for which there was no chance for replacement.
Many hard and extreme were the sufferings of this one family among many others of whom my father was a member at this time. Many were the incidents, thrilling and heart breaking, which our father related to us children as bed time stories in years following, and which have almost faded from our memory.
These were experiences that molded into his life a stronger faith in both God and in the brotherhood of man, unselfish, untiring against all obstacles. Truthful to the extent of risking his life to keep his word to a friend or debtor, honest to every one but himself, always running over the measure, prayerful and hopeful in the face of the worst discouragements, such was the character which grew up through great tribulation and which these few weak words can make only a dim picture.
My mother was born in Iowa and while an infant her parents, John and Roxanna Welker, moved to Utah. They were farmers and located on uncultivated land, which they homesteaded and cleared. They had a hard struggle getting their land to producing and getting a comfortable house built to live in.
Grandfather cut and hewed all the material that went into the building of it. They had a puncheon floor, which was made from logs split and smoothed to fit and lay smooth. In that same way they built all their improvements. Neighbors assisted each other with work of all kinds and in sickness or snow. Each one was untiring in every act of labor and sympathy, with never a thought of reward.
They did not have a chance to enjoy their hard labors and the few possessions of livestock, machinery and a few conveniences they had contrived for their humble cabin home. They had accepted the Mormon religion under the teachings of the Prophet, Joseph Smith, and were, along with all the others after the murder of the Prophets, robbed of every possession on earth and driven from the state of Illinois.
They were personally acquainted with the Smith family and the father of Joseph Smith and all the children. My grandfather, John Welker, was a very young man of only 18 years old when he was a member of the Nauvoo Legion, and he was one of the bodyguards for the prophet when he was herded into the Liberty Jail and was an eyewitness to the massacre of Joseph and Hyrum Smith there.
The sufferings and hardships they encountered in their trek across the plains into Utah has been told in history, and how well I am convinced of the truth of these things, related from the mouths of my own people who were numbered among the great cavalcade. It was their sincere faith in the gospel, which they had accepted that gave them courage and strength to make their way into Utah as my father’s family before them, their desire to live the truth, believing the truth would make them free, and their ambition to build up a country for future generations to enjoy.
They finally settled in Bloomington, Bear Lake County, Idaho, where about that time my father’s family were located. And thus it happened that in due time when my mother was 17 years of age and my father, Christian Madsen, at the age of 23, were married. They were still Pioneers homesteading and building and planting, still undaunted through tribulation and stronger than ever in their faith in God and in those who had proclaimed the gospel to them.
If my memory had not so sadly failed me since the days of my childhood and the constant association with my beloved parents, I could relate many interesting and beautiful incidents concerning their lives. I may have made some mistakes in this narrative, be that as it may, I have at least made mention of these very wonderful people of whom little has been mentioned in the pages of history, of how they blazed the trail from state to state, and everywhere they resided they have left silent evidence of their ambition and usefulness.
I was the first born of Christian and Louisa Roxana Welker Madsen. Six other children were born there, John, Ezra, Muzette, Zina, Bertie and Sylvia, quite a brood to hover under one kitchen apron, which was never untied from morning until bed time except to be replaced with a fresh, clean one. The kind of aprons mothers wore in those days were made of checked gingham, gathered full on a band that almost met in the back, then strings attached, which were tied in a neat bow.
Always neat and clean, my mother’s apron, and how we children loved to snuggle around her knees as she sat in the rocking chair before the fire light that sparkled and crackled from the pine wood burning in the open grate. The iron door of the stove front would be swung back over the “stove hearth” as it was called, and the soft light would be enough without the kerosene lamp, unless we were studying lessons or playing some kind of games.
There was always a babe in arms and just two years between each of the seven, not one babe was ever put to bed without being rocked to sleep. That was a custom in all families, and while the rocking was in process, to the soft crooning of “Rock-a-bye baby in the tree top”, "Baby Bunting" and many other lull-a-byes, the rest of us would settle down on the floor around mother’s apron, which had a sweet smell we have never forgotten.
In the days of my childhood, the lives of children were closely interwoven into the lives of the parents. There was a bond of affection that tied them together as if the heartstrings of each were spun or woven into one fabric. The reason for this is easily explained. When they were not in school, even at an early age, they had duties to perform. There was always “the chores to do”, too numerous to mention. Each one had their particular chore, according to their size and strength.
Little girls were taught to wash dishes when they had to stand on a stool to reach the dishpan, there was no such thing as a kitchen skin. The older children helped care for the smaller ones and all learned at an early age to wait on them selves. There was nothing to take them away from home or out of the house at night. No movies, libraries or public games to detract them. In every neighborhood there were flocks of children. In the early evening they romped and played around bonfires and other interesting games amused them.
These were happy days, romping in the meadows, gathering wild strawberries, wading in cold mountain streams, but not much swimming. We had no fear of earthquake, pestilence or war, the only frightening thing was extreme illness or accident endangering the lives of our loved ones. And how bitterly we grieved when one was taken from us.
The seasons were short in that mountain country. There really was a spring, summer and winter. Snow would start falling in November and winter had set in as the natives would say. Snow was deep on the level ground and much deeper in the mountains. The spring thaw would begin in April or May, and it would be June before planting could be done. The summer was so short the harvest could hardly be gathered before the frost came. And the fun we would have during harvest time.
It was like a big party when the “threshers” went from place to place. It took crowds of men to do the work, to handle the teams, sack the grain, stack the straw, haul the grain to the granary, and it was like feeding an army. So when the machine would move to our place, long tables would be arranged and preparations made two or three days ahead of time. Some times it would take two or three days to finish the threshing, so Aunt Jane, Aunt Eliza and Aunt Agnes would come and bring their flock of youngsters. And as their men folks were on the job, they would help with the cooking and the cleaning up afterward.
When their turn for harvesting came, mother would move in to help them. They had everything to eat that the farm produced. There was always plenty of home cured meat the year round, chickens and dumplings, roast chicken and dressing, besides pies and cakes and preserves, and big plump suet pudding with spiced sauce. The best was none too good for the farm hands.
No wonder they sang and whistled while they worked. The teams knew how to keep perfect step to all the different time, and again if any of the horses stepped out of time, or slacked up on the job, there was words without music that made them step up in the collar and keep in the circle, just exactly as the horses in the Merry Go Round of today!
When winter came, father worked in the mountains with teams of oxen, getting logs for the lumber mills. The snow would be awful deep and the big pine trees carried tremendous weight, too heavy work for horses, except for hauling lumber or equipment and supplies. The oxen would be shod the same as horses, but did not use harness, they were yoked together with heavy neck yokes and were guided about their work by telling them to Gee for one direction and Haw for another. It took great patience, strong lungs and strong physique to handle these powerful creatures.
Many is the time I have ridden behind the oxen on the “running gears” of the wagon. The boys used to ride on their backs as they would a horse, except with no saddle or bridle, of course. The ways of getting the logs to the mill was very interesting, but I won’t go over that part of it. Suffice it to say this work kept father away from home a great deal in the winter. It was a hard life and there was much danger of having feet and often ears frozen. There were blinding snowstorms, and dangerous snow slides when the snow began to melt.
Every year men and teams lost their lives in that way, but at home we all did our bit to take care of everything which was no easy job, and was a great tax on our mother’s strength with all else she had to do. However, there was always kindly neighbors or relatives to lend a hand.
When the sledding got too tough there was no possible chance for a man coming home at night or over the weekend in those days of slow transportation. But young as we children were, with our mother we suffered great anxiety for his safety. We never failed in our daily prayers to plead for his return to us. And what a welcome sound was the creaking of the snow under his feet, which told us he was home. Many, many times, long icicles were hanging to his whiskers. Men had to wear a beard on their face in that extreme cold, or they would be frozen.
I remember how father would put three of us behind him on a horse and take us to school and back during a snowstorm. Snow would fall in large flakes so thick you could only see a short distance through them. Very beautiful and quietly the snow would cover the ground, several feet deep, then the wind would come, boosting and piling it into large drifts against buildings and fences. We would walk over the tops of fences under the frozen snow all winter, seldom seeing even the top of a fence post. Once the snow was drifted and frozen, it staid that way until the spring thaw.
We had to keep a shovel in the house all winter during snowstorms to shovel the drift away from the door and a trail to the barn and woodpile. We had no indoor water supply, such as pipes or faucets, no sink in the kitchen or the luxury of a bathtub. The water buckets would be filled from the well at night and in the morning would have to be set on the hot stove to melt the ice. We never kept fires burning at night, only in times of someone being sick. All day the house was warm and cozy with the best of pinewood to burn, and no matter how the storms raged outside, there was no time to loaf or be idle.
When father was home he took such days to work making a new set of harnesses or mending an old one. He could make beautiful leather harnesses. For heavy team work there was the extremely heavy harness. Brass rivets were used where the greatest strength was needed. Other parts were sewed with what we called buckskin string, and it really was that very thing.
He would take the hide of a fresh killed deer and, strange as it seems, he preferred buckskin to the female of the species. He would scrape off all the hair and treat the skin until it was soft and pliable, almost as silk. It was a big job and took experience and skill. When ready for use some of us would have to take a tight hold on one side of it with both hands and keep the skin straight and smooth while father held onto a part of it and with a keen, sharp knife, cut into strands that could be threaded into a large harness needle. And he sewed parts of the harness with that.
He used an awl to punch the holes for the stitches, having no machinery, but all made by hand. He had a big workbench which he sat astride as he sewed and riveted. And oh how our fingers and shoulders would ache holding that skin while father would cut and when ever he would slack his grip or get to the end, we would reel backwards and often times sit flat on the floor. We would laugh and make a joke about it, not every time, of course, as it really was hard work but just as important as the sewing and fitting.
We kids that were large enough would take turns and mother even would have to change off with us. Sometimes while the skin was large it could be fastened to the wall by the top edge and it was fascinating to watch the long evenly cut strings drop away from the edge of the sharp edged knife. It was not harness only that father made from buckskin. He braided the most wonderful whips which it would be utterly impossible to describe the fine workmanship and durability.
The threads were woven evenly and smoothly, all by hand. The whip was not flat, but round. When it was finished there was a stick of smooth hard wood called the whip handle to which it was attached. Some were made long for the use of four horse teams, while others were short, used only on one span team.
Like the harness, there was the heavy or work kind and the fancy. How priceless even one of them would be now, as a relic of days when the finest work in art and for durability were made by just human hands.
Father would sing and whistle all the while he worked. After sixty years or more, the same songs are being sung again, "Darling Nellie Gray", "Buffalo Gals", "Jeff Davis", "I Long to be Single Again", and many, many others. We children would romp and play around him and he worked. He would not be annoyed with one noise and seldom scolded us. But at night when he was reading, he wanted quiet. We kids used to laugh so hard the way he would keep going shush over and over, not looking up from his papers.
We had a big gray cat that played with us and furnished us lots of amusement, and all of us together were pretty noisy. It really broke our hearts when we left Idaho and had to leave dear old Tom. I could write a story of him alone. We had him so many years.
We also left a large, beautiful buffalo robe or hide, just discarded it as if it was of no value. We were so heavily loaded and had to sacrifice many valuable things. Our darling mother played her part in the world of industry. Pioneer mothers could not send to a mail order house for ready-made clothing. Some of the youngsters were grown before we saw or wore shop-made garments. In large families, and there were no small ones, they would buy yardage by the bolt.
It is comical to think about now, as I remember from a bolt of Calico the mother and all the girls would have a dress from the same material. All dressed alike, even the underwear for the entire family was made by mother’s hands alone. They would buy a bolt of shirting and mens shirts were all made by hand.
They spun the yarn made from wool sheared from their own sheep. Every family kept a few sheep and they would dye the yarn different colors and knit the socks and the stockings for the whole family, also wristlets and mittens. In that cold country, every part of the body had to be well protected. The old spinning wheel was always turning, only when the big old loom that wove the cloth made from the homespun threads was doing its part.
Could Robert Ripley in this modern age, in his “Believe It or Not” broadcasts tell anything any more unbelievable than what I truthfully tell about my mother and those of her time with families of 9 and even 12. How they spun and wove and knit and sewed and cooked and washed all the family laundry on a washboard. They rubbed the clothes and put them through two sudses, boiled in a wash boiler on the stove, rinsed through two rinse waters, and every bucket-full drawn and carried from the well.
An in the winter time the clothes would freeze stiff as boards as soon as they were on the line. Ironing was done by heating the irons on top of the stove. And would you believe it, they ironed every article, even the baby diapers. I was about 12 years old when mother got a thing called a washing machine, a curious contraption that was not much to save labor.
Another thing added to the work of the wife and mother is the fact that they made their own carpets and beautiful things they were. Every shred of clothing was saved. It was torn into narrow strings called carpet rags, sewn end on end, wound into balls and when there were several large sacks full of balls, the loom was made ready again. Many of the rags had to be dyed to make bright colors to weave, and then there would be many yards, just a yard wide. And the long strips to fit every inch of the floor from edge to edge had to be sewed together by hand. Then tacked down covering the floor tight and beautiful. Fall and spring the carpet was taken up, cleaned and put down again. The men folks always helped with that part of the work.
While on the subject of washing, I omitted the fact that all the laundry soap was made with fat and lye, boiled together, hardened and cut into bars, which would be a grayish white and greaseless when done. And the only soap ever bought from a store was the soap we called now toilet soap. We just called it hand soap.
All the time we lived in Idaho, the only lighting we had was kerosene lamps and candles, and did we have lovely candle sticks for our best rooms, some brass, others of porcelain, and some sort of clay painted. The lamps were also very artistic, and the candles the women melted nice clean tallow, poured it into candle molds and to make the wick we twisted soft cotton cord. While the tallow was hot in the mold, this string was placed so it would be right in the middle when the tallow hardened. Out came a smooth shiny candle as perfect and pretty as any you buy in the stores today. Women pieced quilts in beautiful patterns and quilted them by hand, two or three quilts at least for every bed.
There was always plenty of milk and churned butter, salt risen bread and cream biscuits or made of rich buttermilk mostly. Breakfast was always served by lamplight, but always there were hot biscuits. Home cured pork and beef were always plentiful and every scrap was made into headcheese and sausage. A dugout cellar with tightly covered roof contained the vegetables, which lasted through the winter. Large crocks filled with currant and strawberry preserves—no one made or talked of “jam”.
But women found time to do all those things along with knitting and sewing beautiful dresses, tucked and embroidered petticoats, elaborate baby clothes and even mens tailored suits. My grandmother on fathers side was an expert seamstress and tailor. She made mens suits out of cloth she wove on her own loom which was as fine as any sold from stores. (NOTE: this would have been Dortha Roxana Madsen Rollins McKinney’s paternal grandmother, who was Dorthea Christine Jensen Madsen, born 1817 in Denmark and died 1891 in Bloomington, Idaho.) Another thing my grandmother did was make beer to serve to the farm hands in summer time. I have watched her take the sprouted grain, brown it in the oven, add water and yeast and put in the wooden kegs.
In 1879 or 1880 or near that time, Grandpa Madsen died and soon after a great change came into our lives. Some citizens of our town drifted to Arizona and began writing unbelievable things about climate and advantages of the sunny south. It spread a fever of unrest among many of the families who were some of the afflicted with rheumatism. Grandmother Welker (mother’s mother) suffered with asthma. The long cold winter season was not a pleasant time to prepare for hurrying through the short but beautiful summer to be battling the long cold spell of snow, the springtime of mud when the snow melted, so many were the excited conversations that took place on the sunny side of the one and only store of the town.
And while the blizzard was drifting the constant falling snow in the months of February and March, the letters would arrive from the south land telling of green fields, fruit trees in bloom, five crops of hay per year, etc., etc., and the winter weary citizens began to plan to hitch the teams to the covered wagons, sell or mostly gave away their homes, farms and prosperity, and strike out again to what they hoped to find, a utopia in a promised land. The green fields, the sunshine, the blossoms, the long season to work were the upper most things in their minds.
The cheerful correspondent had not warned them of the disadvantages to encounter nor did they realize the long months of intense heat they would be so unprepared for, housing problems, a different way of doing everything they had ever done nor did they know that from a quiet peaceful God fearing little town of people where a man was a man and every neighbor was just one big family, that just the opposite conditions would face them.
I do not know if having known this would have prevented the exodus, be that as it may, on the day of September 13, 1883. The children and other few necessities were loaded in the wagons along with grain for the teams, bedding, clothing, and quite a supply of food stuff, but leaving a heart rending amount behind, we set out. My brother John, age 12 years, drove the wagon with one team of powerful horses in which mother and the children rode. Father drove a team of four horses. Grandma Welker drove a team and light spring wagon all the way from Bear Lake County Idaho to Safford, Graham County, Arizona, a distance over mountain trails as such they were. In some places the men had to cut trees and break a way through.
After several days of travel, the company would camp to let the teams rest for a day or two. Then the washing and baking was done and the load repacked. All the money that was received for possessions sold was carried in the wagons. Three thousand dollars in gold was put some where among the things. We were never molested although we met some very suspicious characters and traveled through Indian territory and at times Indians on horse back rode along for some distance, filled with curiosity, and had they desired, could have made a tremendous haul in everything.
On that long trip from September 23 to November 5th, there were no serious illness or accidents or loss that I remember. God’s protecting care sheltered us and as was the habit at home, our parents knelt in prayer morning and knight and gave thanks for this protection and asked for guidance in the great task they had undertaken again as pioneers in a new and strange land.
Saturday, March 16, 1940. Today is Grandpa Welker’s birthday. He lived to the age of 88, has been dead over 30 years. More changes have taken place since his passing than the 88 years of his life. It was just the beginning of the machine age. He never saw or heard a radio or saw any electric machinery or household appliance operated by electricity. He operated his farm with man and horse power. He loved the smell of the good rich earth he turned and the feel of it as it trickled through his fingers. He was greatly provoked with the introduction of modern machinery. He did not believe the automobile would be permanent, said it would kill too many people or scare both men and horses to death, that the noise of it would run people crazy. How surprised he would be now to see one drive up to his door with no sound to announce its arrival.
He loved horses and raised the best. Wherever he lived he owned beautiful horses. And when the time came he could ride behind his prancer’s hitched to a rubber-tired buggy that was near perfection in transportation as he ever cared to attain. Dear old grandpa Welker was an honest and industrious man, generous and helpful to his neighbors and never slacked with time or money according to his means in the advancement of the community wherever he lived. He was a faithful member of the church to which he belonged (Church of Latter Day Saints or Mormons) and served in the capacity of Bishop for over seven years. He was active and industrious up to the time of his death, however his mind seemed to weaken. He could not remember or do things he was used to doing. He had a stroke and only suffered a few days.
His whole life was spent in pioneering, to this day, trees, houses, and other monuments of the work of his hands still stand. There were only two children by their marriage, Louisa Roxana, my mother, and John Eller, their only son. Uncle Eller went back to Idaho with his family, becoming discouraged with the conditions of Arizona, so different to the north country, Idaho, where he was born and raised. It left grandpa and grandma saddened and lonely for a long time as there were several grand children to whom they were greatly attached.
None of the family were ever satisfied with Idaho after returning there, but never came back to Arizona again. After grandmother’s death on March 11, 1904, he visited the family once a year, leaving on the train the first of June, as regular as the year rolled around, to visit the old home and his many relatives.
Always known as “Uncle John” and always had the love and respect of all who knew him. The long, severe winters in Idaho began to get the best of him and he suffered intensely with rheumatism. Grandma was afflicted with asthma and some times would almost choke to death. How often we children have cried and prayed and feared each attack would be her last, which was before the move in 1883. So for some reason or other of which I do not know, (I was about 14 years old at the time) one or two families from our town drifted into Arizona and began to write back about the land of milk and honey!
Yes, they said that very thing! Where the sun shone more than 12 hours a day, fruit tress bloomed in February, raised 5 crops of alfalfa. November days were like summer, when in Idaho we had several feet of snow. There were many other breathtaking descriptions about this fairyland. This was along about 1881 and from then on this correspondence rolled in. So is it any wonder that a large number of families, mostly relatives, began to pull “the stakes” they had driven so many years before, and prepare for the big move, starting out again with a covered wagon cavalcade.
Then on September 23, 1883, they started for Arizona, sun kissed land, and it lived up to its reputation as far as sunshine was concerned. And when on November 5th we pitched camp in the suburbs of the little town of Safford, where we made our home, the sun was warm, trees were green, acres of growing alfalfa greeted our eyes, but some how the picture had faded in a degree through the dangers and hardships we were subjected to as we traveled all those weary miles. It looked different to what we expected. We were tired and homesick.
Never the less, every man, still a true pioneer, began to build a home and grandfather Welker was among the first to begin. In his passing he left hosts of friends and a better world for his having lived in it."
NOTE: Following is information found in public records for Dortha from the years 1870 to 1953, a year after she was born in 1869, up to the year that she passed away in California:
In the 1870 U.S. Federal Census for Bloomington, Bear Lake County, Idaho, dated July 22, Dortha's name was misspelled as Dorothy R. Madson, age 1, living with her parents, Christian Madsen, 24, and Roxanna Louisa Welker Madsen, 18. Her father was working as a farmer and her mother was keeping house. Christian's real estate was valued at $150 and his personal estate at $250. He was born in Denmark and his wife was born in Utah. The record indicated Dortha was born in Utah, but she was actually born in Idaho.
Living next door were Dortha's maternal grandparents, John Welker, 44, Roxanna Mahala Dustin Welker, 36, (and ironically, Dortha's mother, Roxanna Louisa, was also listed in their household) along with Roxanna Louisa's brother, John Eller Welker, 17, John Welker's niece, Rebecca Malinda Stephens, 11, and John's wife, Roxana Mahala's, nephew, Levi J. Dustin, 5. Dortha's grandfather, John Welker, was working as a farmer, her grandmother was keeping house, and her uncle John Eller Welker, was working as a farm laborer. John's real estate was valued at $450 and his personal estate at $600. John was born in Ohio, Roxanna Mahala in New York, Roxanna Louisa in Utah and her brother, John Eller, also in Utah. Roxanna Louisa Welker Madsen was actually born in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, in 1852, as her parents, John Welker and Roxanna Mahala Dustin Welker, were starting their journey across the plains to Utah with members of the LDS Church.
Rebecca Malinda Stephens, John's niece, was living with the Welker family because her mother, Rebecca Welker Stephens, John Welker's sister, had passed away in 1863 shortly after the birth of her fifth child, Julia Ann Stephens. I'm not sure why little Levi J. Dustin was living with the Welker family at that time, however, it may have been because his mother, Hanna Loveland Dustin, passed away when he was just 2 years old and his father, Seth, had a lot of other children to raise without his wife.
Next door to Dortha's Welker grandparents was the Osmond family, George, 32, Georgianna, 33, and their children, Clara H. 14, (who later married one of John Welker's nephews), George, 12, Alfred, 9, Rosa, 7, Ira, 5, and Ida, 1. George valued his real estate at $250 and his personal estate at $600. Both George and Georgianna were born in England, and all their children were born in Utah. George and Georgianna Osmond were the second great grandparents of Donny and Marie Osmond, members of the singing group, The Osmond's, who were popular in the 1970's.
Next door to the Osmond's was another Welker family member, Hettie Esther Welker Dunn, 21, who married Harvey Alvero Dunn, 21, and they had a son, Harvey A., Jr., 1. Hettie was a niece of John Welker, and the daughter of John's brother, James Wilburn Welker. Her husband Harvey was also working as a farmer, with his real estate valued at $150 and his personal estate at $300. Both he and Hettie were born in Iowa and their son in Utah.
Next door to Hettie and Harvey were her parents, James Wilburn Welker, John's brother, 45, and his wife, Ann Pugh Welker, 49, and their children, James A., 19, Adam, 17, Gilbert, 15, Wilbur, 13, Ephraim, 10, Rebecca, 6. Also in their home was James Wilburn Welker's plural wife, Susan Caroline Stephenson, 37, and her children, Alice, 12, Isabella, 5, Evaline, 4, Sarah, 2, and Marion, 6 months old. Susan Caroline Stephenson was the niece of Ann Pugh Welker as well as being James Wilburn Welker's plural wife. James Wilburn was working as a blacksmith and his real estate was valued at $500 and his personal estate at $800. He was born in Ohio, his wife, Annie in Tennessee, their son James in Iowa and all their other children in Utah. James Wilburn's plural wife, Susan, was also born in Tennessee, and her daughter Alice in Wisconsin, and the other children in Utah.
Living nearby was John and James Wilburn Welker's two younger brothers, Jacob, 40, and his wife, Harriet Angeline Lish Welker, 32, and their children, Harriet, 12, Charles, 10, Joseph, 8, John, 7, Mahala, 6, Emaline, 4, and Myron, 2. Jacob was working as a farmer and his real estate was valued at $450 and his personal estate at $400. He and his wife were born in Ohio and their children in Utah. The other younger brother was Adam Welker, 29, with his wife, Agnes, 23, and their children, James R., 4, Almeda, 2, and Adam David, 8 months old. They also had 2 children named Glivenson living in their home, Elizabeth, 10, and her sister, Sarah, 13. Adam was also working as a farmer, and his real estate was valued at $500 and his personal estate at $600. He was born in Ohio and his wife in Scotland.
Next door to them was Journal Palmer, 23, and his wife, Arlena, 20, who was the daughter of James Wilburn Welker. They had a 6 month old daughter, Arlena A. Journal's real estate was valued at $500 and his personal estate at $200. Journal was born in Illinois, Arlena, in Iowa, and their daughter in Utah. Fortunately, there were a lot of family members surrounding Dortha when she was a child growing up in Idaho.
In the 1880 U.S. the family was still living in Bloomington, and Dortha was 11 years old, living with her parents, Christian, 35, and Roxanna Louisa, 27, as well as her siblings, John, 9, and Ezra, 6, Muzetta, 5, and Alberta, 1. Dortha's father, Christian, was working as a laborer, and her mother, Roxana Louisa, was keeping house. The children were all at school, except for the youngest two, Musette and Alberta (known as Aunt Zette and Aunt Bertie to my family). Dortha's name was again mis-spelled in the 1880 census record, which listed her as Dorathy, and her mother as just Louisa, not Roxanna Louisa. Three years later the family moved to Arizona and the family settled in the town of Safford, Arizona, and Christian owned a livery stable there and ran the Groesbeck Hotel for several years.
The Osmond family was still living next door and were listed as George, 44, Georgianna, 45, with children Alfred, 19, Rosebelle, 17, Ira, 14, Ida, 10, Ella, 8, Nellie, 5, and Alice M., 9 months old. George was still working as a farmer, his son Alfred was working as a laborer, and Rosabelle was a school teacher. The Osmond's remained in Utah and did not move to Arizona as did many of the Welker's, Madsen's, and Stevens family members.
Many Mormon Pioneers of Utah and Idaho came to Arizona starting in the late 1870's and early 1880's. After Jesse Nathaniel Smith, a cousin of Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the LDS church, conducted an exploration of the area in 1879 at the request of the church, many of his related families moved to Arizona. Nancy Malinda West Rollins, the daughter of Samuel Walker West and Margaret Cooper, and her husband, John Henry Rollins, Sr., the son of James Henry Rollins and Eveline Walker Rollins, moved to Arizona around the same time as the Madsen and Welker families made the move. Just two years later, John Henry Rollins, Jr., married Dortha Roxana Madsen in 1885.
Nancy Malinda West Rollins' sisters, Emma Seraphine West and Margaret Fletcher West, were wives of Jesse Nathaniel Smith, so it makes sense that they would have traveled to Arizona from Utah with Jesse. Sadly, though, Margaret died in Utah in 1864. Since Emma was Margaret's sister, she raised Margaret's two children as her own after her sister Margaret's death. Jesse had 3 more wives in addition to Emma and Margaret, and between all of his wives, he had about 45 children.
Nancy Malinda West Rollins and her husband, John Henry Rollins, Sr., had a son, John Henry Rollins, Jr., born in 1865 in Minersville, Utah, and somehow, he and Dortha Roxana Madsen met in Arizona, and they were married September 23, 1885, in Graham County, Arizona. The record for their marriage from the Arizona Marriage Collection found on Ancestry.com shows that her name was again misspelled and she was listed as Dorothea R. Madsen, and his was also misspelled and listed as John H. Raulins. This record can be found in the marriage book at the county courthouse located in Graham County, Arizona, in Volume 1 on page 46.
Their daughter, Dortha Evelyn Rollins was born the following year in October of 1886, and two years after that, their son, John Delbert Rollins, was born in August of 1888. Sadly, the next year, John Henry Rollins, Jr., was killed in an accident and died on Christmas Day in 1889, leaving Dortha a 20-year old widow with two young children to support by herself. She did not marry again until 1897, when she married Joseph Thomas McKinney, who was ten years older than her and an Arizona Sheriff. An Arizona Marriage Collection record again misspells her name, and lists her as Dorthey R. Rollins, who lived in Graham County, Arizona, and married Joseph T. McKinney, who resided in Gila County, Arizona, on April 15, 1897, in Safford, Graham County, Arizona. This record can be found in the marriage book at the county courthouse located in Graham County, Arizona, in Volume A on page 319.
In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Dortha was 31 years old living in Precincts 14-15, Cochise County, Arizona Territory, with her second husband, Joseph T. McKinney, age 41, and their children, Dan Carroll, 2, Thelma Josephine, 5 months, and her two children from her first marriage to John Henry Rollins, Jr., my grandmother, Dortha Evelyn Rollins, 13, and her brother, John Delbert Rollins, 11, although their names are also misspelled in the census as Dorth McKenney, Evelen Rolla and John D. Rolla. There was also a Mr. Thomas Young living with them as a "servant", who was 27 years old. He was working as a stock herder and Joe T. McKinney was working as a stock raiser. Many of their neighbors in Cochise County were working as laborers on the railroad. Maybe that is why Dortha's son, John Delbert Rollins, got a job working for the railroad by the year 1917 or possibly earlier. His World War I Draft Registration card showed that he was living in Needles, California, and was working for the Atichison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad as a fireman.
The census record showed Dortha's birth date as March, 1869, and her husband's as June,1858, and that she was born in Idaho, her father in Denmark and her mother in Iowa. Joseph T. McKinney was born in Arkansas, his father in South Carolina and his mother in Alabama. At the time of the census, they had been married three years. Most of their neighbors were from Mexico, especially the railroad laborers, and some were from Ireland and others from Germany and other places in the USA.
In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Graham County, Arizona Territory, Dortha's parents, Christian and Roxanna Louisa Madsen, were 55 and 48 years old, and living with them were their three youngest surviving children, Louisa Alberta, 21, Sylvia Elizabeth, 18, and Royal Eller, 14, and in this census record, Christian owned a livery stable and his home, free from a mortgage, so the family seemed to be doing pretty well at the time.
In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Dortha was 40 years old, living in Bowie, Cochise County, Arizona, with her husband, Joseph T. McKinney, 52 years old, and their three children. They had been married 13 years, and Joe's occupation was a cattle stock raiser. Their children were Dan, 11, Thelma, 10, and Gladys, 6 years old. Their son Joseph Madsen McKinney passed away in 1904 before his third birthday, just a few weeks before the birth of Dortha and Joe's fourth child, Gladys Violet McKinney.
By that time, my grandmother, Dortha Evelyn Rollins, had married her husband, Stephen James Eubank, (also known as either Uselle, Euzell or Eucell) on April 28, 1909, in Phoenix, Arizona. They were living in Phoenix during the 1910 census, and my grandfather, Stephen Eubank, was working as a house carpenter. Dortha Evelyn's brother, or my uncle John Delbert Rollins (or Uncle Del as he was called by the family), was also living on his own, maybe by that time in California, where he was living in the town of Needles. The town of Needles is located near the Arizona/California border. By 1920 Del was living in Bakersfield, California, with the first of his three wives, and his mother was also living in Bakersfield at the time. Dortha may have moved to Bakersfield because her son John Delbert Rollins was already living there. Or perhaps because her brother John Christian Madsen had moved to Arvin, California, a suburb of Bakersfield, and was farming in that area in 1920 and 1921.
In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census for Safford, Graham County, Arizona, Dortha's parents, Christian and Roxanna Louisa were 65 and 58, and two of their children were still living with them, Bertie, 30, and Roy, 24, and now Roxanna's father, John Welker, age 84, was also living with them. He may have become an invalid by that time, according to the census record. Chris and Roxanna had been married 42 years, had 10 children, and 7 were still living. Christian stated in this census record that he came to America in 1854 (but it was really 1853). He still owned the livery stable, and his son, Roy, was working as a teamster for the stable.
By the 1920 census Dortha, age 50, was separated from Joe McKinney, and living in Bakersfield, Kern County, California, at a home located at 2217 Sunset Avenue, which Dortha owned, but she had a mortgage. The census indicated she was a widow (although Joe McKinney did not pass away until 1948). With her were her children, Dan C., 21, Thelma, 20, Gladys, 15, and a niece, Louyre Rollins Rosenbloom, 22, and Louyre's one year old son, John Rosenbloom. Dortha's niece, Louyre, was the daughter of Dortha's brother-in-law, William Samuel Rollins, the brother of her first husband, John Henry Rollins, Jr. Sadly, Louyre's little son, John, died the following year, and she later moved to San Diego, remarried and had another family.
Dortha's occupation was listed as a nurse in general practice and her son Dan was working as fireman for the railroad, and daughter, Thelma as a stenographer in an insurance office, her niece, Louyre, was also a stenographer in an office. There is a photograph of her house showing my great grandmother and her grandson (my uncle Jim) sitting on the front porch under the Media Tab above. The photo was probably taken about 1920 when my uncle Jim was around 4 or 5 years old.
Dortha's daughter, Dortha Evelyn Rollins Eubank's husband, Stephen James Eubank, had abandoned their family and left Dortha Evelyn with their three small children to raise on her own my mother, Frances Amelia Eubank, her sister, Elsie Louise, and brother James Rollins Eubank. At the time, my mother was about 8 years old, her sister, 6, and her brother 4 years old, which was in 1919. By 1920, they were living in Bakersfield with or near Dortha.
In the 1920 census for Stafford, Arizona, Dortha's father, Christian was a 75-year old widower, and living with him was his son, Roy or Royal Eller, 34, and daughter Alberta Louisa, 40, who had married William Branch, 38. Christian's wife, Roxana Louisa, had passed away in 1918. Christian was no longer working, but his son, Roy, was working as a laborer doing general work, and his son-in-law, William, as a cowboy on a stock ranch. By the following March, sadly, Christian passed away at the age of 76. I wonder if Dortha was financially able to travel from Bakersfield to Safford in order to attend the funeral of her mother in 1918 or her father in 1921.
Following is an obituary for Dortha's father, Christian Madsen, and some biographical information which was found in a book entitled "Early Danish Pioneers: Southern Arizona Territorial Days," by Avis Evelyn Knudsen Jorgenson which was found at Google Books:
Christian Madsen was born November 14, 1844, in Denmark, the son of Jacob and Dortha Madsen. It is not known when he first came to the United States. He lived in Bloomington, Idaho, before moving to the Gila River Valley in 1884. He farmed near Safford and established Safford's first livery service.
Christian married Roxana Louisa Welker on October 10, 1868, in Salt Lake City. To this union were born 10 children. Christian Madsen died March 9, 1921, in Safford. The local newspaper carried the following notice:
"Passing of An Old Pioneer of Valley...C.Madsen passed away Wednesday evening, March 9, 1921, at his home here, after a lingering illness of two and a half years. Mr. Madsen was born November 14, 1844, in Denmark. He came to Blomington, Idaho, and from there to the Gila Valley 37 years ago. He was married to Roxana Louisa Welker October 10, 1868, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Of this union ten children were born, seven of whom are now living. They are John, who lives in Arvin, California, Dortha McKinney, of Bakersfield, California, Mrs. George Elledge, of Globe, Arizona; Ezra, Roy, Mrs. William Branch and Mrs. Zettie Bingham, of Safford. All except for the two first named were with him at the time of death. Thirteen grandchildren also survive him. Mr. Madsen was a good neighbor, a peaceful citizen and much loved and honored by all who knew him. Funeral services were held Thursday afternoon, at 3:00 o'clock at Layton church. The speakers were Prof. Payne, P.J. Jacobson and J.R. Welker. Several beautiful songs were sung. Many beautiful floral offerings covered the casket. Interment was made in Union cemetery.
By 1930, Dortha, 61, had moved to Los Angeles, California, and was living with her daughter, Thelma, 30, and granddaughter, Frances Amelia Eubank,18, my mother. Their home was located at 6715 Victoria Avenue, and my mother was listed as a "boarder." Thelma was shown as the head of the household. Dortha's name was again misspelled as Dorthy Rock McKinney. They owned their home, and the property was valued at $5,500. The family had a radio, which was a question the census takers asked during the census that year.
Thelma was divorced (from her first husband), and Dortha was listed as married, although she had been separated from Joe McKinney for at least ten years or more at the time. The census record stated she was originally married at the age of 16 (which was to her first husband, John Henry Rollins, Jr.). Thelma was a stenographer at a law firm, Dortha had no occupation, and my mother was working as a beauty operator in a beauty shop. This must have been before my mother went to work for Warner Brothers Studios in Culver City, California, as a cosmetologist to the movie stars of the 1920's and 1930's.
For some reason, I found no 1930 census or public records for Dortha's daughter, Dortha Evelyn Rollins Eubank, my grandmother. She must have been living somewhere near her mother, half-sister, Thelma, and daughter, Frances Amelia Eubank, with her other two children, Elsie Louise, who would have been 17 years old in 1930, and James Rollins Eubank, who would have been 15 years old. I did find public voter registration records for Evelyn later in the 1930's, but nothing for her in the census that year for some reason.
Sometime before 1930 when Dortha was living in Los Angeles, her other two children, Dan Carroll McKinney and Gladys Violet McKinney had returned to live in Arizona. Gladys was married in Arizona in about 1927 to John Beals, and their first child, Colin, was born there in 1928. Their second child, Cheryl, was born there in 1932. Gladys remained in Arizona for the rest of her life and was buried there, passing away in 1997.
Dan had moved to Tucson, Arizona, in 1923, and married Mary Elizabeth Bryce, who was a granddaughter of Ebenezer Bryce, the man for whom Bryce Canyon in Utah was named. She and Dan had their first child, Dan Carroll McKinney, Jr., in 1927, and daughter JoAnn in 1929. By the 1930 census, he was living in Elgin, Arizona, about one hour south of Tucson. He was divorced from his first wife, and married to his second wife, Olga, with whom he had a daughter, Thelma Rose, born in 1940, who was named after Dan's sister Thelma. Sadly, Thelma Rose McKinney, passed away from cancer at quite a young age in 1972. Dan returned to work in San Francisco, California, in 1935, but did not stay there long, because by 1940, Dan was living with his second wife, Olga, in Phoenix, Arizona. He passed away in July of 1969 and was buried in Arizona.
In the 1940 census, Dortha's name was once again misspelled as Dorothy McKinney, 72, and she was living her daughter Thelma, 40, and Thelma's second husband, Stephan Riess, 41, in Simi Independent Township, in the Santa Susana District of Ventura County, California, on Mortimer Park Street. Steve and Thelma owned their home valued at $12,000. Previously they had been living in Los Angeles in 1935. Stephan was listed as being in the mining business, but he was a world famous geologist born in Germany.
Steve discovered many water wells in areas all around the world that were previously thought to be devoid of fresh water, including Israel, Majorca, Spain, the deserts of California, Arizona, and Utah, and in Ojai, California, where they lived in the 1950's and 1960's. Previously, the water there contained a lot of sulphur which smelled very bad. Uncle Steve was the first person able to find a fresh-water well there, which made him very popular with the local residents.
Dortha's granddaughter, Frances Amelia Eubank, married Halley Dale Smith in Yuma, Arizona, July 3, 1932. They were living in Los Angeles, California, in 1940, not far from Frances' mother, Dortha Evelyn Rollins Eubank. They would occasionally drive out to the Simi Valley to visit with Dortha Roxana, aunt Thelma and uncle Steve, and a mention of them riding their motorcycle out to see her there at a distance of 100 miles on April 15, 1940, was made in Dortha's diary. That day may have been memorable one for her because April 15th was her wedding anniversary with Joe McKinney. They had been married 43 years at that time, although had not lived together for at least 20 years or more.
Dortha lived with uncle Steve and aunt Thelma until about 1952 when she went back to Arizona to live with her daughter Gladys, where she passed away in 1953 after a stroke, according to my cousin Cheryl Beals Larkey, the daughter of Gladys McKinney and her husband John Beals. Although I have seen public records that indicate Dortha passed away in Chatsworth, California, which is not far from where she was living with Thelma and Steve in the 1940's. There is a California Death Index record stating that Dortha Roxana Madsen McKinney, born March 11, 1869, in Idaho, passed away on August 28, 1953, in Los Angeles County, California. That record lists her mother's maiden name as Walker instead of Welker, but her father's name was listed correctly as Madsen. Dortha was taken to Safford, Arizona, for her burial, and was buried in the Safford City Cemetery with her parents.
I have to assume that Dortha must have written her "diary" in 1940 at the prompting of her family, and I'm very glad she was able to document a little bit about her life for posterity. I just wish there was more information!
Following is what Dortha wrote about the hauling of Borax out of the Death Valley of California, which may have had some connection to the death of her first husband, John Henry Rollins, Jr., who was known to be a freighter.
"In 1883 the first load of Borax went out of Death Valley, hauled by the 20 mule teams. A man by the name of Perry who was a stockholder in the Borax mine and also Superintendent conceived the idea of building the large wagons. They were built in Barstow, California. It took two years to complete the building of the wagons and assembling and purchasing the mules at tremendous cost. Several wagons with the 20 mules manned by expert teamsters made the trip together. It was very hazardous at that time.
A young man by the name of Bill Parkinson asked permission to drive the first outfit. For 25 years he drove through that desert and like many others had narrow escapes from death by sand storms, broken wagon wheels in the scorching sun, running out of water for both man and beast, teams would get sick and die. Many were the hardships those faithful teamsters endured but they loved their job. When the freighting days were over and they scattered to different occupations, the most outstanding experiences they would rather relate was of the old 20 mule team days.
When Bill Parkinsen was dying he said to his wife, who had always been his constant companion, 'My dear, I’m heading into Death Valley for the last time, going down grade, no one can put on the brakes. No matter who comes after us or what way they get the Borax out of Death Valley, it will always be the 20 Mule Team Borax, we named it that'."
Following are some additional random writings by Dortha, starting in March of 1940, which were included with the writing in her diary:
Sunday, March 24, this is Easter Sunday. Steve and Thelma went to sunrise services. There was heavy morning fog but the sun tried to make an appearance though faintly during the services. I preferred staying at home and listened to ? (can't make out the next word, maybe radio.)
Wednesday, March 27th, it rained here last night, softly, all night, heavy storms continued in the north. Steve would sure have to battle his way through it, still cloudy and unsettled here today. Very quiet, just Sister (sister is what she called her daughter Thelma), and me, accompanied by the parrots and dogs. She feels a little rested and more cheerful. Received a letter from Dan (her son) yesterday. He has accepted the job as campaign manager to elect Sydney Osborn for Governor (of Arizona). He is on a speaking tour all over the state. Very much enthused with the prospect of a change in the governorship.
It was stormy all week. All we could do was putter inside the house. During a lull in the storm today Don and Louise and two kiddies came over from Altadena. Sprinkling cold weather prevented a pleasant afternoon to see the flowers and outside improvements and they left early. And so ends March, 1940, each day having been almost identically the same in and around our quiet suburban home! I am truly thankful for the peace we enjoy while Europe is bleeding in war and fear. And so thankful that as March emerges into the past for another year it leaves our ranks unbroken.
Tuesday, April 9, 1940: Today is JoAnn's birthday, she is 11 years of age. (NOTE: JoAnn was her granddaughter, and the daughter of her son, Dan Carroll McKinney and his first wife, Mary Elizabeth Bryce McKinney.) They are living in Tucson. I suppose she will have a party. Thelma and I sent her a little present. I seldom ever get a letter from any of them, excuse is always too busy.
I remember so distinctly the day she was born in the hospital, they were living on the Bar Cross Ranch. Dan was a fireman, Carroll (Dan's son, Dan Carroll McKinney, Jr.), was not quite 3 years old, and I was visiting at the ranch. We loaded into the car at one o'clock in the night and went to the hospital, and five minutes after she was born I took her over to Carroll and said, "hold out your arms, here is your baby sister." He was the first one to ever hold her. She was just like a beautiful doll.
The next day, Dan, Carroll and I got in the truck to go over to the hospital. The truck was loaded with grain and other things to take to camp at the lower end of the ranch. We turned off the road to look at the swimming pool and when starting up again, the door opened and Carroll and I spilled out on the road right on the rocks and a thick bed of thorns and stickers. We escaped with minor injuries as we fell clear of the truck, but Carroll's mouth was bleeding and his poor little face was full of thorns. Arriving at the hospital the nurse picked them out with tweezers and dabbed Mercurochrome all over him until he looked like an Indian on the war path. We sure laughed when we looked at him.
After the 10th day Elizabeth and baby went home, the little girl whose birthday it is today. She has always been an unusually interesting child. Before she could talk she would hum tunes perfectly. While a tiny child and after she could say words she would sing all day long and could carry any tune she might hear. Quick to learn everything and extremely spunky. On her next birthday I'll add more. (NOTE: It is interesting to note here that JoAnn married a singer, Bud Dashiel, maybe because of her interest in music.)
Sunday, April 14th, a very warm day and very quiet. "Sister" and I roamed over the premises admiring the beautiful roses and all other blooms in profusion. No pen or a painter's brush could in any way describe the beauty and elegance of the garden. We went to a show at Moorpark tonight, very thrilling entertainment, "Broadway Melodies of 1940", starring the dancing team of Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell.
Monday, April 15, this has been quite an interesting day. Dale and Frances (my mother and father, Frances Amelia Eubank Smith and her husband, Halley Dale Smith) came out and rode the motorcycle a distance all together of a hundred miles. They live in Inglewood now. We thoroughly enjoyed their visit. They left at 3PM and shortly after they started a sudden hail storm descended accompanied with thunder and rain. The storm did not last long but gave the dry earth a good drenching after three or for days of intense heat which also was unusual for April weather.
Today is the anniversary of my marriage to Joe T. McKinney, 43 years. He and I are both alive and well at the age of 81 and 71, believe it or not. (NOTE: Ironically, Dortha had not lived with her husband Joseph T. McKinney for many years, as census records indicate. In the 1920's Dortha was living in Bakersfield, California. In the 1930's she was living in Los Angeles, California, and in 1940's she was living with her daughter, Thelma and Thelma's husband Steve in the Santa Susana section of Simi Valley, California, and throughout all those years, Joseph T. McKinney lived separately from her in Arizona. The last time there was a public record of them living together was in 1910.)
Tuesday, April 16th, today is Dan's and Gladys' birthdays. There is six years between them. Dan was born 1898 at 9 AM, and Gladys in 1904 at 1 AM. (NOTE: Dan was Dortha's first child with Joseph T. McKinney, and Gladys was their 4th child. Thelma was their second child, and a second son, Joseph, passed away before his third birthday in 1904 just before his sister, Gladys, was born.)
April 17, a nice day, the flowers are beautiful, nothing much to do, received a lot of mail, letters from about six of them, which gives me a lot of comfort.
Thursday, April 18, Steve and Thelma went to Pasadena and Hollywood, Sister bought a lot of new clothes and brought a lovely dress home for me. They always bring me some thing nice, which I appreciate greatly.
Friday, April 19, we had nice weather and a very busy day both in the house and garden. This PM the couple moved in who will be the help around here for a while. After dinner, Doc and Lucille Dix blew in. Doc is all lined up to leave for Old Mexico on a mining proposition.
Today is one hundred and sixty five years since Paul Revere made his ride to warn that the British were coming. At this time, 165 years later Britain is at war with Germany, waging the worst war in history.
Sunday, May 5, today is Bertie's birthday (Dortha's sister Louisa Alberta Madsen Branch). I can remember as plain as day when she was a baby she had whooping cough when six months old and came nearly dying. We went for a lovely drive this PM out U.S. Highway 99 to Castaic. Steve had business with McPherson who owns the La Tores Cafe, a very attractive place where we dined. It is just a wayside inn, no town, but also a lovely setting along the highway.
Cheryl R. Beals was born May 7, 1932. Colin McKinney Beals was born June 4, 1930. (NOTE: They were Dortha's grandchildren by her daughter Gladys, and her husband John Beals.)
Monday, May 27, today as the past three or four has been more like fall than summer, dark and chilly. I've not been very well, and feel terribly disturbed over the war in Europe. Besides the loss of so many lives who do not deserve death by force, it has blasted and shattered to fragments all the ideals of the past hundreds of years sacred structures and handiwork of the best skill and brains in the world.
Tuesday, May 28, Carroll's birthday (Dan Carroll McKinney, Jr., Dortha's grandson). I'm still under the weather, staying in bed today. The wind is blowing some but the sky has cleared. Today is Carroll's birthday and he is 14 years of age. At this time living in Tucson. He is a grand young man and was always a healthy good-natured youngster, so adaptable to everything, so wise and interesting. The happiest days of my life were the ones I spent on the Bar Cross Ranch when he was a baby. He was my little lost boy come back. (Here Dortha is referring to her son, Joseph, who died before his 3rd birthday in 1904. Carroll was Dan Carroll McKinney's son, or Dortha's grandson.) He was born in Bisbee, Arizona.
Tuesday, June 4, 1940, today is Colin's birthday, he is 11 years old today. He was born in Pima, Graham county, Arizona, and he was a fat husky baby at birth, but due to the serious and almost critical illness of his mother through a relapse and infected breasts, his artificial feeding was not a success. And the good start did not continue. We suffered many anxious hours over his upset condition but he won and on this birthday he is abounding in health and vigor. The prayer in my heart today is that he may have long life and a chance for happiness.
London, June 5, 1940, "Operation gives boy voice back" (an article from the newspaper). When for the first time in his life, twelve year old Peter Cripps spoke, after an operation has restored his power of speech, he asked for some hot buttered toast! Since his wind pipe was removed when he was 2, the boy has had to breath through a rubber tube opening from the front of his neck. His efforts at speech was unintelligible, but now modern surgery has given him a real windpipe made of skin grafted from his left arm.
June 7, 1942, six months today since the bombing of Pearl Harbor followed by a declaration of war against Japan. As I sit in my rocking chair this afternoon I'm happy with the sight of JoAnn and Cheryl on the floor at my feet playing Parchese. They are well, happy and free. God grant it will be so when next June 7th rolls around.
June 10, 1942: Way back some time during the other World War when Leo Dietrichstien was playing Broadway in "The King", Leo found a bit of prophetic writing authored in 1510 by Mother Shipton, which Ted Von Eltz the screenster sends along. It reads: When pictures look alive with movements to free, when ships like fishes swim below the sea, when men, outstripping birds, can scorn the sky, then half the world, deep drenched in blood shall die. From a clipping in the Times, June 10, 1940.
Today most all of Europe is engaged in the worst war in history. France and Britain against the invasion of Germany. Hitler of Germany has confiscated without a declaration of war nearly all the small countries of Europe. The bloody hordes of Hitler and Mussolini will from all indications gather unto themselves what is left of the spoils and through brutal domination control most of European countries. There will be no more peace, liberty or prosperity unless their rule is cut short. The prophecy has come true, half the world will die.
June 11, today Thelma and I motored to Inglewood to have a short visit with Ev and to present Ev and Rollins with a couple of nicely dressed chickens. No family in the world loves chicken more than they and Rollins just beamed as we handed them over. They were the last of the flock and we are now out of the chicken business. (NOTE: Ev and Rollins was Dortha's first born daughter, Dorthea Evelyn Rollins Eubank and her son James Rollins Eubank, Dortha's grandson.)
June 12, some friends of Steve's came out here from San Pedro, the Larsons. Mrs. L. was crazy for a parrot. I gave her mine. I've been sorry ever since.
June 13, this has been quite an important day and at last the days have turned warm almost to the point of boiling. Steve and Thelma left this morning for Arizona. Within a week they will be back home. Gladys and children will come with them. I have been alone all day until the morning when the hired hand will be back. This was their day off. I have been very lonesome on account of giving away my devoted pal, Bobby the Parrot. I never dreamed his absence could leave the place so empty. I feel like a criminal but it's too late to remedy the crime.
Friday, June 14th, Flag Day: I have been quite busy today for which I am thankful. Idle hands hold no charm for me. I have listened today and this evening to some very inspiring and truly patriotic speeches. It is Flag Day and at this time while war and destruction almost covers the earth we in America should love our flag more than ever before and should resolve to be among those who with their lives determine to keep here proudly waving by living up to the principle for which she stands, Peace, Liberty and Honor.
Tuesday, June 18th, 1940: This morning at 6 AM while soundly sleeping I awoke at the rush of footsteps, the gang arrives from Arizona, in addition to Steve and Thelma there was Gladys, Colin and Cheryl, also JoAnn and Fern. Fern stayed over a couple of days before taking the boat for Honolulu. (NOTE: Fern was Dortha's niece and the daughter of her sister, Aseneth Muzette Madsen Bingham.) I am thrilled and happy to have them all here for a short vacation and to hear the voices and footsteps of the frolicking children. Life is so empty where there are no youngsters. I sure love all my little kids.
June 22, we all stayed home Saturday and Sunday. Monday I took the youngsters and went to town with Steve. We went to a show and visited or prowled through the stores. Tuesday we stayed home and put up a lot of berries. Wednesday went swimming at East Lake Park. Thursday stayed home and put up berries. The weather is still very pleasant.
Friday, June 18, Little Ginger dog died today. He was nearly 13 years old, healthy and frisky all his life until 5 days ago he became ill. Symptoms were pneumonia or might have been a bone in his stomach. He belonged to Dan's family and was the playmate of Carroll when he was less than two years old. Dan brought him to us from the ranch over a year ago. He was my constant companion and loved me dearly. I'm glad he died a natural death. It seems lonesome without him and also I miss Bobby, the parrot who I gave away also. They both have happy homes now!
Saturday, July 6, 1940, Gladys and children went home today. We took them to the train but on the way in town drove around through Beverly Hills and other scenic parks of town. Called on Mrs. Dix at the Treasure Shop. Had dinner at the Pig-N-Whistle. JoAnn was with us. They all enjoyed everything and seemed to have had a good time while they were here. It has been cool nights and grand to sleep ever since they came. It is lonesome since they left.
October 28, 1940, at Safford with Gladys, just received a telephone conversation with Dan from Bisbee where he was called suddenly from Phoenix. Olga (his second wife) had given birth to a baby girl and he said he would move them to the ranch later and would need me to go with them. (NOTE: The baby girl was Thelma Rose McKinney, who was named for her aunt Thelma. Sadly, she died at a fairly young age in the 1970's from cancer.)
Saturday, March 11, 1944: Today I am the ripe old age of 75. I never expected to have so many years to my credit. My greatest hope is that I have been a credit to the years. I have received greetings from each of the family scattered as they are. Also some nice useful presents besides greetings and presents from friends Mrs. Rucker and Mrs. Dale.
Sadly, that is the end of Dortha's diary. The next thing in her journal were several poems, the first one was entitled, Mother's Rocker:
"Do you remember, many years ago, When every kitchen held a rocking chair, Where mother used to sit to read or sew, To rock the baby or brush her hair? It had no arms, the headrest and the seat in summer were of gingham, blue or green; in winter, silk and velvet patchwork neat, Gave cheerful color to the homely scene.
Beside the rocker stood a little stool, Whereon a child might sit with simple lace or carpet rags; perhaps a book from school; To work was fun in sight of Mother's face.
Sometimes she moved close to the window sill, To catch a breeze or get a better light; And there were evenings, when the air was chill, The spot beside the oven was just right.
And oh, how sweet it was, when illness came, to lie in Mother's lap, wrapped in a shawl, And hear her sing, or play a little game--Why, being sick then was not bad at all.
Our kitchens are too small for rockers now; Will they, someday, be big enough again? I hope so; for it seems to me, somehow, Our lives weer calmer and much fuller then." The author was someone named Gaycelle.
Sorrow says a poet is the dog of that unknown shepherd who guides the flock of men. To learn to suffer to learn to die is the discipline of eternity. It is not beyond the tomb but in life itself that we are to seek for the mysteries of death.
Another poem in her diary entitled Long Kept Things by Louise Abney follows:
I would be glad if fingers, not too ruthless, but impersonal, would weed out little keepsakes I have kept for years; Scrapbook poems, letters, useless gifts, given dear with sentiment, greeting cards, and other bits of old remembering.
I have no need of them; they clutter up my desk. But once I start to clear them out and pause to look at them, My hands are stayed; nor can I bring myself to throw a single one away!
I would be glad if fingers tender but impersonal, Would through my little long-kept things away.
Another poem reads: If you put your nose on the grindstone rough, and keep it there long enough, you'll forget there are such lovely things as brooks that babble and birds that sing, for you and the whole world will be composted of you and the stone and y our poor old nose.
Another poem reads: Meanwhile, Smile: A little tear, a little sadness, a bit of cheer, a bit of gladness, and maybe strife, that's life, but meanwhile, Smile!
Another poem reads: MISTAKES -- I've made mistakes just the same as you, The same mistakes that all mortals do, Just little mistakes and big mistakes, Bringing us little and big heartaches, Bringing us sorrow and sighs and tears, Some of them shadowing all our years, Turning life's song to a sad refrain--Let's try to forget them and start again!
Let's turn away from yesteryear's And cease our signing and dry out tears. What's done is done, and we can't turn back--Let's bravely start down the future's track. And sternly strive to efface, erase, Mistakes we've made, and with smiling face, Do what we can to help other men. Who've made mistakes to take heart again! By James Edward Hungerford.
Here's another bit of writing called Idle Hands by Esther Houghtaling: The days would never come, she often thought, When she could sit and rest...No work to do. No littered rooms to clear; no jam-smudged paint to scrub; no mud-tracked floors to clean and clean. The children--ah, she loved them dearly, but they were so thoughtless of the work they made. Each dawn brought for her hands the endless tasks; Each dusk found countless ones still left to do. The day is come...She sits with idle hands. Held lonesomely against her spotless dress. No gay young laughter wakes her quiet rooms; No dancing feet swirl dust across the floors. The day of rest she hungered for is here--A day that's long with loneliness and tears.
For who, alas, has lived, Nor in the watches of the night recalled, Words he has wished unsaid and deeds undone? Samuel Rogers.
BARTER: Life has loveliness to sell, All beautiful and splendid things, Blue waves whitened on a cliff, Soaring fire that sways and sings, And children's faces looking up, Holding wonder like a cup. LIfe has loveliness to sell, Music like a curve of gold, Scent of pine trees in the rain, Eyes that love you, arms that hold, And for your spirit's still delight, Holy thoughts that star the night. Spend all you have for loveliness, Buy it and never count the cost; For one white singing hour of peace, Count many a year of strife well lost, And for a breath of ecstasy, Give all you have been, or could be. Sara Teasdale.
THE COIN: Into my heart's treasury, I slipped a coin, That time cannot take, Nor thief purloin, Ah, better than the minting of a gold-crowned king, Is the safe-keeping memory of a lovely thing. Sarah Teasdale.
MEANT TO DO MY WORK TODAY: I meant to do my work today, But a brown bird sang in the apple tree, And a butterfly flitted across the field, And all the leaves were calling me. And the wind went sighing over the land, Tossing the grasses to and fro, And a rainbow held out its shining hand, So what could I do but laugh and go? By Richard LeGallienne.
Evidently my great grandmother loved poetry.
Wish I would have met and known you great grandma!
Della Dale Smith-Pistelli
March 20, 2014
This was written 145 years after the birth of my great grandmother on March 11, 1869, in Bloomington, Idaho.
Dortha Roxana Madsen Rollins's Timeline
March 11, 1869
Bloomington, Bear Lake, Idaho, United States
October 18, 1886
Safford, Graham, Arizona, United States
August 26, 1888
Safford, Graham, Arizona, United States
April 16, 1898
Safford, Graham, Arizona, USA
November 5, 1899
Arizona, United States
July 14, 1901
Safford, Graham County, Arizona, United States
April 16, 1904
Graham, Arizona, USA
August 28, 1953
Simi Valley, Los Angeles, California, USA
August 30, 1953
Safford, Graham, Arizona, USA