HISTORY OF ELSIE THORNOCK MILAM

 an autobiography

I was born on April 8, 1893 in Bloomington, Idaho.  I lived with my parents, three sisters and five brothers.  I was the seventh child.  We lived in a four room log house next to a small grocery store.  My Grandmother Long lived across the street from us.
I helped my father work on the farm.  We milked the cows and took them two miles to pasture and sometimes I walked.  I helped my father when he was short of help.  We hauled hay and shalked grain.  I carried water from the well to fill the reservoir on the stove for hot water and filled the boiler and tubs to wash.  We washed on the washboard and rung the clothes out by hand.  I churned with a dash churn and my school mates teased me and called me "good Elsie churning butter."  It was my job to fill the wood box and bring in coal when we had any; my younger sister Hazel helped me.

My parents were hard-working people.  My father was a farmer by trade.  He was a good, honest man and paid his debts regardless of pleasures.  He paid his tithings from his produce - one tenth of all his produce.

My mother taught me at an early age to pray at her knee; and taught me the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  She sent me to Sunday School, Primary, Religion Class, and also read the Bible in the evenings to us.  We had "home evenings" and my father told me about the Indians.  (He was born in Lestershire, England, and came to America when he was six years old and crossed the plains with his parents; my mother's parents also crossed the plains.)  We had candy pulls and played games.  My two older brothers were entertainers.  My brother John played the guitar, and Amos played the mandolin.  My sister, Hazel and I used to sing for church parties.  My father was a tap-dancer (or jig-dancer, as they called it then.)

My parents worked very hard to raise their family.  My father chopped all the firewood.  He went to the canyon and cut down the trees and then cut them into shall pieces for firewood.  My mother knit my stockings and made my clothes.  She also made a carpet to cover the floor.  She cleaned the floor first then spread clean fresh straw over it, and then she tacked the carpet down--she did this every six months.  She carded wool, spun yarn, and wove cloth for clothing.  She was full of love and kindness and we all love to be home.  She lost my dear brother and sister and she had a great deal of sadness; but she praised the Lord and carried on.

We loved the little town of Bloomington and everyone loved my parents--they called them Uncle Joe and Aunt Millie.  My father's hobby was horses.  He could train the wildest of horses, shoe them and cure all their ills.  I pay tribute to my father for his honesty, kindness and desire to do good.  We each had our work to do.  My allowance was a couple of eggs for pulling weeds and helping my parents.  I traded the eggs for candy at Ed Haddock's store.  After I ate the candy, I cried and wished I had bought peanuts (ha! ha!).  I grew up in a poor home, but I went to work for a farmer while his wife was ill.  I baked bread, cooked, took care of the house and washed by hand.  The farmer told me "when a girl could make as good bread as that, it was about time to get married."

We then moved to Rexburg, Idaho from Bloomington with horses and wagon.  The trip took seven days.  Mother and father and the four of us (One was married and four had passed away before we left Bloomington) started the journey.  We took our livestock, there were no bridges and camped at night.  We reached Rexburg and bought a house--a small farm near my Uncle John.  I went to Rexburg Academy and worked after school as a waitress at a downtown restaurant.  My brother Amos had heart trouble and passed away.  My brother Heber worked and helped me to go to school.  I came down with appendicitis and had an operation and had to quit school.  My legs were injured in the operation and I could not walk for six months.

Then I met Myron McIntire, who lived next door.  We thought a lot of each other and used to go out together until he became ill and his parents sent him to California for his health.  He wrote me a card and he said "stick to me kid and you'll wear diamonds."  He only lived a few months after that and I was deeply saddened.  I then met Jack Christianson, who was a brakeman on the railroad.  My mother didn't approve of the engagement and made me return the ring to him.  He was killed in the first World War.

After two sad experiences, I met my husband, who came to my town to open a dry cleaning business.  He ate in the restaurant where I worked and one night he bet me that he could put on my shoes and if he could, I had to go to the show with him.  He won, so I had to go and six weeks later we were married against my parents approval.

We lived in Rexburg and bought a home.  We had the following children:  Betty, Don, Jay, Lola, Nyle and Gary in that order.  All were born in that same house.  I had then all blessed, baptized and the boys ordained to the Priesthood, while my husband fished on the bank of the river.  He was a hard-working man and we had our joys and sorrows bringing up our children.  He never deprived his children of worldly goods, and said he found his faith on the bank of the river.  The boys worked on farms when they were old enough and the girls helped in the home.  Betty could bake quite well when she was eight years old.  We used to go to Yellowstone Park on week-ends and had good times with friends and neighbors.  I taught Primary in church when my children were young.  All my children graduated from primary.  My mother lived nearby and I had great pleasure taking my children to Grandma's.

Business became so slow that my husband sold his share of the business to his partner and went to Idaho Falls, Idaho and opened a Service Station and planned to open a resort area with cabins and a dance hall; but then came the depression and we quickly went broke.  He then went back to the dry cleaning business in Pocatello, Idaho and went to work for Mr. Tolliver.  Soon afterwards, he was transferred to Twin Falls, Idaho and we lived there about three months.  We weren't happy in Twin Falls and my husband decided to move to California.

With our children, a dog (an Irish Setter named Rusty) and a bonus from the Army, we made the trip to California in a Model A Ford.  We went to live with my husband's sister who had eight children.  We couldn't easily find a place to live because nobody would rent to people with children.  But I was homesick, my mother was growing old, and the children were unhappy.  I decided to go back to Idaho.  I got a little place and stayed in Rexburg for the summer months.  The boys worked a little on the dry farms and with the help of the good people there, we stayed that summer.

In the fall, my husband rented a place in Hollywood and sent for us to come back; so we came back.  Bishop Kirk was good to us and helped us out.  Dad worked at the Sunset Cleaners.

While we were in Hollywood, Gary got spinal meningitis and wasn't expected to live.  The Elders of the Church came in and administered to him and promised him that with faith he would get well.  The Lord answered my prayers and Gary got well.

My husband was then offered a shop in Glendale, so we moved to Glendale and I helped in the shop.  Don and Jay went into the service.  Don was injured in the Army and received a Medical Discharge; Jay was in the Navy for three years.

I worked different places sewing to help keep the family together.  Then the children started getting married.  Betty was married first, then Don and then Lola.

My husband had a drinking problem, so we didn't get along very well together.  As time went on things became worse, and by 1949 we agreed to disagree for reasons I don't care to mention at this time.  However things may seem, "no evil thing is a success and no good thing is a failure."

I lived with my three sons in my home.  Jay was very kind to me and took me on trips.  The boys tried to beautify the home and make me happy.  My dear brother Oscar and his wife were very kind to me and took me on trips also.  I went to New Orleans, Canada and to the East.  We had many happy times together, but on April 5, 1957 my dear brother Oscar passed away.

Then Nyle married and Gary was married soon after that and Jay and I carried on for eight years alone.  Jay hated to leave me and was so sweet to me, but I told him that I wanted him to have a wife before I died, so he got married.

I live alone now in a small apartment, but visit my children often.  My church is near and I enjoy being Visiting Teacher and sing in the Choir.  Occasionally I do Temple Work and Praise the Lord in all things.

October 1st of this year, I was late leaving the house for work and tried to run to catch the bus.  Passing a building in construction, I turned my ankle on debris strewn over the sidewalk and fell to the ground, breaking my right wrist, resulting in a compound fracture.  Both knees were injured.  I was unable to get up.  No one in sight to help me, but I remembered my mother's words "People pray when  they are in trouble."  So I prayed to the Lord and ask for help.  I had no sooner finished when I found myself on my feet, carrying a heavy coat a sewing basket and my handbag.  These were all articles I had been taking to use in my work.  They were all being supported on my left shoulder.  I know that it was not through my own power that I managed to return to my apartment.

My very good neighbor Elsie Daniels came running to my rescue and called my son Don who took me to the doctor.  This experience strengthens my testimony to know that God Lives, hears and answers prayers.

I have been sewing and doing alterations for the past fourteen years, and presently work in my son Don's Cleaning shop.  When I am alone I repeat the 23rd Psalm, which gives me great comfort.

"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Yea, though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Once a year I take trips to Idaho and visit my cousins and friends.  In 1962, I went to a family reunion of my cousins and relatives.  There was a group of two hundred relatives and another group of three hundred.  I also put markers on all my brothers and sisters graves.  I am now the only one living of nine in my family and I will be in my 70th year in April.  I hope to add a few more pages to my life history in the future.  I will leave with you a mother's blessing and say to you "seek first the kingdom of heaven that all joys may be yours."


Elsie's LINKS


to contact me
E-mail Mike Milam at milam@earthlink.net
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