By Guy L. Black from vital records; an obituary; remembrances of George’s youngest daughter, Lucile; a history written by his son, Elliot; and a history written by Glenda Joyce Memmott Black.
On January 9, 1879, George King Black was born in Kingston, Piute County, Utah. Kingston was then two or more miles north of modern-day Kingston. It stood on land now covered by the south end of the Piute Reservoir.
George King was the oldest child of his parents, George and Clarinda King Black. George King had nine younger siblings, five brothers and three sisters: Lois Clarinda, Bertha, Culbert Lorin, William Henry, John Edward, Collins “R”, Esther, Susan, and Richard Levi.
Sometime between 1882 and 1884, the family moved to Coyote, Utah (now known as Antimony). The family lived there until George was nearly nine years old; then the family moved from Coyote to Lehi, Arizona, to live close to George’s grandmother. The trip from Kingston to Lehi was an adventure that George’s father recorded in his journal:
“7 December, 1887. With my family, brother Will and family, and brother Edward, we started to Arizona by way of Lee’s Ferry, crossing the Colorado [River], then through the Basin Country. We came to the Little Colorado, and had just crossed when there was a flood. It flooded the whole country, going up to the Needles [California]. We also met with some very bad Indians. They made some real threats. The snow was real deep, but we got through to the ranch, then to Flagstaff. We laid over a day, then drove to Mountain Springs. Nearby, we camped in a grove of trees. There came a regular blizzard that worried us, as it kept getting worse. So we caught our horses, and pulled out in the clearing, and by morning it had cleared. The trees were all laying flat and twisted in all directions and shapes in the place we had first camped. We traveled over some very rough and dangerous road. We arrived at Lehi, Arizona on the 23 of Dec. Mother [George’s grandmother] was very glad to see us. It had been six years since we had seen them.”
The following winter of 1888-1889 produced a harsh test for George and his family. In a few short months between October and January, three of George’s younger brothers, Culbert Lorin, William Henry, and John Edward, all died. Baby John Edward, barely six months old, was the first to face death in October. Next, William Henry, also an infant of twenty-one months, followed his younger brother in death in late December. Finally, Culbert Lorin, known as Lorin to his family, died in January. Lorin had a special talent for such a young lad. He could speak the Pima Indian language perfectly. Apparently, he was well-loved by the Indians, as over one hundred Pima Indians attended Lorin’s burial.
George’s father recorded a vision he experienced in October, three days before the first death. George’s father had been working east of Mesa, Arizona on the HilandCanal, and was camping in a tent at the time. In his vision he saw a light in his tent that woke him. He then described seeing a young woman in a beautiful flower garden. The young woman was caring for three young boys. George’s father recognized her, and called her by name, Eve Olsen. He asked her why she had three young boys, as she was not married. Eve asked him, “Do you not know these boys?” George’s father looked at the boys again, and recognized that they were three of his sons. Eve said, “I will take care of them until Clarinda and you come.”
When George’s father awoke the next morning at daybreak, a messenger came running to the tent and informed George’s father that his youngest son was very sick. A few days later, the little boy died, followed in a few months by the deaths of the other two boys.
Before the death of the oldest of the three boys, Lorin, LDS church leaders gave Lorin a blessing promising that he would live, preach the gospel, and bring thousands to the knowledge of the truth. Despite the blessing, Lorin died. Because the leaders’ blessing promises were not fulfilled, George’s father lost faith in the gospel and his church leaders. He said, “I decided there was nothing in the gospel and administering to the sick, if so why did not God come and answer the prayer of the Presidency and his counselors and bishopric. . . . I say when men such as those make such promises, there cannot be anything in it.”
Nevertheless, George’s father kept the family in the Church because of the faith of his wife. Despite being “overcome with grief,” she “was firm in her desires and faith; she knew God was true and just.”
About three months after Lorin’s death, in March, 1889, John Henry Smith and Francis M. Lyman, went to Mesa, Arizona for a quarterly conference. They, with the Stake Presidency and Bishopric, stopped and visited with George’s father. They counseled him that he should live so that when he was called to leave this life, he could be with his sons. Something in what they said had an impact on George’s father. By the close of the conference, George’s father “was thoroughly convinced,” and again embraced the Gospel.
But, the harsh winter of deaths had been almost too much for the family to endure. It drove George’s parents from Arizona back to Utah. That spring, 1889, they packed up their diminished family and headed back to Coyote. But Coyote was also a harsh place, especially for young children. Esther gave birth to Collins “R” in Coyote in the fall of 1889; but he died less than two years later. Another son, Richard Levi, born in 1900, but he too died about a year later. In the end, of the ten children born to George’s parents, only George and his four sisters survived to adulthood.
Not long after the family returned to Coyote, President Wilford Woodruff called George’s father to serve a mission to the British Isles. George’s father accepted the call. George, Bertha, and Collins “R” accompanied their mother to Salt Lake City, where George’s father departed for his mission.
On the return trip to Coyote, Collins “R” became sick, and died at Monroe, Utah, before reaching home. One can only imagine the grief of George’s mother, who having lost so many of her young children, and having just lost her husband for a season on a church calling to a foreign land, was forced to bury another child.
George helped his mother support the family and his father. He milked cows during the summer, and made butter and cheese with the milk. George told of wrapping fifteen to twenty pounds of butter in a burlap bag, balancing the butter on the horn of his saddle, and riding every other day to Kingston to sell the butter. At least some of the butter money was sent to England to help pay for his father’s mission.
As a child, George enjoyed playing marbles for “keeps.” The winning player would keep the losing player’s marbles. George was very aggressive and competitive at marbles. He did not like to lose. He used to play marbles with Galup Joe, the son of Indian Chief Ky Wash. When Chief Ky Wash visited the area, he would drop Galup Joe off at George’s house before going into town. Together, George and Galup Joe would find a secluded spot where they could play marbles.
George’s father was always upset at George for taking Galup Joe’s marbles. He said, “Georgie, why do you always play for keeps? That’s a form a gambling; it’s not right, and you know it.” But to George it was not gambling, as he was the better player and always ended up with most of the marbles.
But George did not merely play hard. He was also a hard worker. His children remembered that he used to say, “Necessity is the mother of invention;” but they knew that he meant hard work was the backbone of invention. George’s sons recalled many occasions when they had been out late and had been home in bed less than hour; George would step into their room and say, “All right boys, you have had your fun; you will now have to pay for the fiddler. It’s time for work. We can’t get this hay in if you are in bed.” George was also fond of saying “The early bird catches the worm; you have to hurry to get your share.”
George attended two years of college at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah; then, from 1902-1903 he filled a mission to California for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When he was getting ready to leave for his mission, his younger sister, Esther, was very happy that he would be gone because he was always teasing her; but she missed him after he was gone.
Before he received his mission call, George had been engaged to Ester McCullough. During the engagement, George attended a party held at his father’s home. There, he met a young lady, Sarah Lucile Snow (“Lucile”). George was talking to Lucile when a patriarch named Blackburn, an out-of-town guest at the party, placed his two hands on George and Lucile’s shoulders and said, “George and you, Sister Snow, you knew each other in the spirit world and there chose each other as life companions. You will have an abundance of happiness and a large posterity—many sons and daughters!” Upon hearing the Patriarch’s words, the young people in the room were amused, as they knew of George’s engagement, and knew that his wedding was fast-approaching.
The incident was forgotten temporarily, “[b]ut fate has a strange way with the lives of people sometimes. A few months later, Ester McCullough and her girl friend were taken from the bottom of the river, clasped in each other’s arms, accidentally drowned; and George K. Black was called into the mission field for the church, and spent the next two years in California and Arizona, preaching the gospel.”
On his mission, George had interesting, and sometimes humorous experiences. In his missionary journal he reported: “One day as we were out tracting, this house I was working on seemed to have a hen session going on. As I was walking up to the door, I heard the lady say ‘Keep still for a little while and I think we can have some fun.’ The lady that came to the door must have seen us before and knew we were Mormon Elders. Well, anyway, when I knocked on the door she opened the door, and there stood a beautiful red-headed lady and all that goes with it. She was immaculately dressed. I explained our purpose there, and that we were commonly called Mormons. She said, ‘Yes, I can see that. But really your purpose is that you are looking for girls to send back to Utah. We all know you are polygamists, now tell me the truth.’ I said, ‘Well, I’ll tell you lady, the last group we sent back were all red-heads and we lost money on them, so we were told to stay clear of red-heads.’ You ought to have heard the laughter that came from the next room. We had a good meeting with them, and left ten or twelve tracts with them.”
On another occasion, George described his mission to his children. He told them the story of an old man who pestered the missionaries during their street meetings. George called the man an “apostate, reprobate, troublemaker.” He said, “President Robinson had just sent me a new companion, Elder _____. His first day was hectic. He had experienced a street meeting being broke[n] up. The first night, he and I went out together to hold a street meeting. I was in charge, and everything went smooth[ly]. [We had] a fair crowd, and we were able to give a number of tracts; and we had a couple of good conversations.
“Well, the next night was his turn to take charge, and the closer the time came for us to leave the room to go to hold the street meeting, the bigger his butterflies became. He finally said to me, ‘Elder Black, I just can’t take charge tonight. I know that old reprobate will be there, and that would do me in.’ ‘Ok,’ I told him, ‘you just come along and let me and the Lord take care of him.’
“We had been fasting all day, hoping for the best. Before we left the house for the street meeting, we had a word of prayer, and asked the Lord to help us this night; and if the old man showed up we would know what to do, and what to say.
“Well, we reached the street [and] started our meeting. Elder _____ was just finished with his talk. I glanced down the street. Sure enough, here came the old fellow, hurrying along with his cane tapping. He appeared to be in his 70s, had a long beard and long hair, [and] unkempt clothes (we would call them hippies today).
“As I watched him, the mantle of his youth fell upon him. He was dressed in Indian attire, [with his] face painted as an Indian before they go to war. As he drew near, the hippy creature then emerged, as he came to the edge of the crowd, tapping his cane to get attention, shouting his remarks to me.
“He said, ‘Tell us about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I dare you to tell us about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I dare you.’
“I then said, ‘Mr. Vance? Mr. John Vance? That is your name, isn’t it?’
“‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but what is it to you?’
“‘Just this,’ I said. ‘I don’t know much about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, but you do, and you know all about it, for you were there, and you took part in it. You tell us about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and why you took part in it.’
“He turned and took off as if he had been shot from a gun. His cane never had time to touch the ground. He was never seen again by any of our Elders.
“I told them, the people, the best I could, about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and about John D. Lee, the leader of the Massacre; about how Lee went against the advice of President Brigham Young to leave the people alone and not to molest them in any way; and about the Haun’s Mill Massacre; how he, John Lee, as a small boy of seven or eight, watching from the top of the bellows in their blacksmith shop, where his father put him and told him to keep still no matter what happened, watched his father put to death along with his mother and brothers and sisters, and [watched as men took] his baby sister by the feet and beat her head over the anvil; and about John as a man, just out of his teens, recognizing the leaders of the Mountain Meadows group as those who had killed his father and mother at the Haun’s Mill massacre.”
Time went fast, and George was soon home again from his mission. He had grown a lot, but still enjoyed tormenting his younger sisters. His little sister, Esther, always wanted to sit on his lap. George must have been tired of Esther sitting on his lap, because he began taking a short rope and tying Esther to a chair. She would be upset until someone untied her. The sixteen-year difference in their ages made it so she didn’t know him too well, but he was an ideal to look up to, and someone she loved and adored.
Shortly after his returned from his mission, he began courting Sarah Lucile Snow. She was the daughter of Joseph Smith Snow and Lucy Ellen Van Buren Snow. She spent the early part of her life in Manti, Utah. It was while she was visiting her sister in Coyote, Utah that she met George. They were married September 7, 1904, in the MantiTemple. Since it took two days to go and two days to return from Manti to Coyote, the family all went to Manti for the wedding and stayed there several days. It was great fun and excitement for George’s siblings because they traveled in a buggy to Marysvale, stayed there all night, and took the train the next day.
During the temple ceremony, George King and Sarah Lucile “were suddenly reminded of the incident of their meeting more than four years before, and of the words of the old patriarch. Each felt that their marriage that day had divine approval.”
George and Lucile moved to Coyote and spent the first nine years of their married life in Coyote and at a ranch in Kingston Canyon. They lived on various ranches, including the Bench in Black Canyon, and the Farmstead in Kingston Canyon. During their stay in the Coyote area, seven of their twelve children were born. When George’s sister was sixteen, George K. and Lucile gave birth to a daughter whom they named Esther after her aunt Lucile.
Following his father’s example, he homesteaded a ranch in the Kingston Canyon about 1910. He started to raise cattle, but later went into the sheep business with his father, which later broke both of them. In the summertime, George K. moved his family onto the ranch to milk cows and sell the cream. Lue also made some cheese. He had filed on some meadow ground for a homestead, and as usual Esther lived with them. They spent several months each year there. They had a three room log house, a small garden and buildings for the chickens, pigs, etc. They milked between thirty-five and forty cows each morning and night. Esther and some of the older children did a lot of the milking because George was gone a lot, and their little boys were not old enough to do any of it. They would start about five o’clock in the morning, and it would take until about eight. At night, they repeated the milking from six to eight-thirty. There were all the baby calves to feed, and the other chores to keep them busy.
During July or August, 1913, when Roberta was about seven or eight months old, the family moved to Manti. It was quite an adventure, taking several days. They took a wagonload of furniture and a large buggy. The first night they camped at a campground in Ten Mile, several miles south of Marysvale. The main highway at that time ran near the river. At Ten Mile they crossed the Durfee Hill into Monroe. It wasn’t too many miles, but as it was a hard drive, they stopped and camped. Early the next morning, they loaded up and started north again, planning on making Axtel by night. It was around 5:00 p.m. when they arrived at Axtel. The children were restless and arguing, so they stopped and cooked the evening meal. After a two-hour relaxing stop, they loaded everything up and decided to drive into Manti. There was a full moon that night, and it cast weird shadows as they rode along. Roberta slept for a while, then waking up, she began crying for the moon. No one could pacify her, so they put her in the wagon with George so that the other children could sleep. She wanted her father to reach out and catch the moon for her. She finally cried herself to sleep. George remarked that when she grows up she would probably try to fly to the moon. It was the wee hours of the morning when they finally arrived at their destination.
One day, Joe, Elliot, and Elmer were having a rock fight with some of the neighbor boys. Evan was trying to be helpful to his brothers and was hit on the side of his jaw with a rock from a flipper. His face was badly swollen, and an infection set in. Nothing seemed to help. George K. and Lue even took him to SaltLake to see a specialist. Everyone was so frightened and helpless because they didn’t know what to do, as they lived so far from medical help of any kind.
George and his family lived in Manti for 5½ years, and while there Lydia was born. After Lydia’s birth, George and his father traded homes. George’s took his father’s property in Coyote and the family moved back there. George’s father assumed ownership of George’s holdings in Manti. George arrived back in Coyote just it time to see its name changed to Antimony. George and his family stayed in Antimony while three more children were born to them.
Next they moved to Fillmore in 1923-1924 and lived there for four years, during which time Lucile was born. The house was two stories tall and built of rock. There was a gate with a wooden frame that the children loved to swing on. The house had a long wooden porch on the back. The family owned a white cat. The cat’s kittens always delighted the children. The children loved to swing on the tire swing hung from a huge tree. While they lived here, their electric stove was hit by lightening, which really frightened Lucile. She would cry whenever there was an electrical storm. George K. took her out onto the enclosed porch at their home at 334 South 1st west and they would set in the rocker with her on his lap and he held her close and they watched the lightening together. He did this each time it stormed for that summer. It created in Lucile a fascination for watching lightening except when it gets too wild.
Next they moved to Bates Creek at the bottom of Ophir Canyon, Tooele County, where George took a job running a ranch for Hatch Brother’s Woods Cross Livestock Company. They lived there two years and then moved to Tooele, Utah.
George K would kill chickens, and the process captivated the children because the chickens would continue to flop around even after their heads had been cut off. One time Lucile was with her dad at the corral and a neighbor boy fell off a fence and proceeded to cry. George K. called to him, “Come over here and I’ll pick you up.” So the boy came over for him to do it and of course in the meantime stopped crying. That technique has been used in the family many times.
George’s children liked to watch their dad milk the cows because he always gave them a squirt or two of milk. They loved to follow him around the yard. Sometimes he would plow a neighbor’s yard and he would let one of the children go with him and they were allowed to ride on one of the plow horses.
George K. was sentimental and many times he would tear up when someone would tell a touching story. He liked to listen to the radio and did the whole family every evening after the dishes were done and the all the chores done.
After they discovered that George was diabetic, Lucile would measure out his food so that he would get just the right amount to go with the amount of insulin he was taking. Somehow George didn’t recognize the seriousness of the disease and thought it was a big joke to eat something he shouldn’t when she turned her back. He had a room that the grandkids nicknamed “the chocolate room.” One grandchild, Allen, was often taken to the chocolate room by his grandfather and given some of his hidden stash.
George K. and Lucile had a deep love for their family and were so proud of all of them. George K. was a cheerful, happy person that everyone loved to be around. He was always the life of the party whether at home or with a crowd. He was witty and always able to recall a funny story to make everyone happy. He was also a good singer.
His daughter Lucile remembers him sitting in the kitchen with his old dress hat with sweat around the band and his blue bib overalls, a work shirt either gray or blue buttoned at the neck, and if he had his way with at least a day’s growth of beard. He enjoyed Lucile and the girls bugging him to shave. One of his favorite things he liked to do was to come up to his daughters and give them whisker rubs on their cheeks. Once they threatened him that either he shaved or they would hold him down and do it for him. He was usually cheerful with a twinkle in his eyes and a funny story to tell.
George held many positions in the priesthood Quorums and other church auxiliaries. He was ward clerk to his father for several years, worked as a seventy while in that quorum. He was ramrod for a 24th of July celebration at Panguitch, which gained statewide notice. He worked in the first Antimony Ward Bishopric. He suggested the name change from Coyote to Antimony. When they divided the Fairfield Stake off from the Panguitch Stake, George K was called as number one high councilman for the new stake. He held this position until they moved from Antimony in April of 1923.
George King Black died at 7:15 a.m. on August 2, 1944 in Tooele, Utah. Funeral services were held the following Sunday, August 6, 1994 in the Tooele Second Ward chapel under the direction of the Third Ward Bishopric. So that the funeral could be held on Sunday, the Tooele Third Ward’s Sacrament meeting was rescheduled to 2:30 p.m. that day. George was buried in the TooeleCityCemetery. His wife, Sarah Lucile, followed him nearly eleven years later on 22 July 1955, and was buried beside him.[i]
[i] Vital Records, Cemetery, and Obituary Sources: Birth Certificate: No birth certificate available. No governmental entities in Utah were required to report births prior to 1898. Birth date is from secondary sources, including obituary, death certificate, and histories written by his children. All secondary sources agree on his birth date as January 9, 1879. Marriage License: Sanpete County, No License Number, Sanpete County Clerk’s Office, Manti, Utah. A copy of the certificate is also available on Family History Library Microfilm Roll No. 481511. Death Certificate: George King Black, Death Certificate, Registrar’s Number 84, State File Number 71, Utah Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and Statistics, Salt Lake City, Utah. Also available from: George King Black, Death Certificate, Series 81448, Entry 19870, Utah State Archives Digital Collection, <http://historyresearch.utah.gov/indexes/index.html> accessed 23 August 2007. Electronic image in the possession of Guy L. Black. Grave Location and Cemetery Directions: Tooele City Cemetery, 361 South 100 East, Tooele, Utah 84074. The grave location is: 9-26-3. To get to the cemetery: From I-80, once in Tooele, follow Main Street to 400 South and turn left; drive one block. Obituary: The Transcript Bulletin, Tooele, Utah, Aug. 4, 1944 (Vol. 50, No. 19).