Biography of Vernon Sharp Rawlings
by his daughter, Edith Clair Rawlings Denney




Edith and Vernon Rawlings (her father)

Edith 2 yrs 7 months

In front of grandma Rawlings home

Richard, Edith, Barbara after Sunday School

Back of my dad at Home in Magna, May 1930
Barbara, Edith, Richard

Edith age 12

Richard, Edith, Barbara Rawlings

Barbara, Edith, Richard Rawlings

Mabel Clair Hill Rawlings

Vernon Sharp Rawlings

Vern and May at Ben Hills Home

Vern and May at Ben Hills Home

Back of Home in Magna live about 10 years.

Front home Draper lived about16 yrs befor death

Emily Rawlings in Front of her home in Mill Creek
7th East about 40th South

Joseph S. Rawlings
Father of Vernon Sharp Rawlings

Emily Thorne Rawlings
Mother of Vernon Sharp Rawlings

Vern at Mill in Murray (far right) where he lost his Middle finger on right hand.


            Vern as he was called was the 3rd child of Joseph Sharp Rawlings second family. His mother was Emily Thorpe Thorne. Vern was born Dec 28, 1868 in Taylorsville Where they lived until after 1901 when they moved to Mill Creek His brother Joe 4 years older and six younger sisters made up this family and all lived to raise families of their own except William that died in infancy.
            Joseph the father of these children died in Mill Creek 28 Aug. 1903 leaving not only the above eight children but three children to (his) first wife. Vern was 16 when his father died. He went some time soon after (his) father’s (death) to live with his half brother Fred in Wyoming near Fossil. He stayed there approximately 3 to 5 years then returned to Mill Creek, by then his brother Joe had married Ret__________ Hill and build a two room house south of his parents home. Thus Vern was the only male in the home with six sisters ages about 19 years to 6 years.
            Several of his sisters have expressed how they tried to include him in their activities in the evenings but he never would, but always had the door from the kitchen into (the) living room open so he could observe, and they even commented (that) he on occasion could be heard snickering. Vern did comment that because he smoked and drank occasionally and had quit going to church (that he) didn’t feel worthy to associate with the rest of the family.
            He was very protective of who his sisters associated with wanting them to not lower the standards that their parents had taught and this he carried over into his own family. Vern never talked very much around his family but would give us the third degree on who our friends were and who their parents were. If he approved of them it was ok to continue seeing them other wise we got told often enough that he didn’t approve and we soon dropped these people.
            Vern worked at the lumber Mill in Murray after coming home from Wyoming. His sister Emily told of the two of them walking from 7th East and about 35th South over to 39th South and then down to State Street to catch the street car to take them both to work in Murray.

            On Feb 10, 1900 just after his 14th birthday Vern was holding a piece of licorice for another boy to chop in two with an axe or hatchet. The boy missed cutting off Vern’s middle finger (maybe index also). His father carried the finger around in a silk handkerchief for several days trying to get a doctor to sew it back (on). Vern and (his) sister Elsie had drawn around their hands just the day before. This always made Vern leery of anyone drawing around their hands because he was afraid it was a warning that they might (be) losing part of their hand. Vern also lost the index finger on his right hand after he went to work in the _____________ Mill in Murray. He had his thumbs mashed so many times that the fingernails turned out at the corner instead of in. Many, many hours he suffered with the pain from these accidents. He used to sit with two fingers in between his ring and index finger. It was then you knew he was in pain. Many times he said they must be burning the area where my finger is buried because it feels like it’s on fire.
            Dad was a perfectionist mater to do things perfect, they didn’t get done. Thus lots of things went undone. He was a finishing carpenter, especially building cupboards etc. His bosses Radibo, father and son hired him to do all their finish work on the homes they built in Magna and Tooele. He worked on the houses from the very beginning so even though he never weighed over 125 pounds lifted many sacks of cement and shoveled much sand and gravel for these houses’ foundations. During the early days of the late 20s depression there were no homes being built so Dad worked remodeling homes for mostly the Greek population of Magna. They seemed to be the only ones with money. (I wonder if they weren’t involved in bootlegging for it was during prohibition times).
            Home brew beer was made sometimes in our basement for use in our home. I never knew until we moved to Draper why on some, especially Saturday nights Dad was late coming home. On these nights he never came into the house but went down to the basement where he stayed until his kids were asleep. Mother told me that he’d been drinking and didn’t want us kids to see him. This is another way he had of showing his respect for his family.
            Dad did give Richard several kickings mostly for wetting his pants after he started school. But as far as I know, he never hit any of us girls. Well, once when we were living with Grandma Rawlings (for Dad had work in Salt Lake) I was the only child (being) three years old and I had been put to bed several times. As I got up and ran past Dad as he was sharpening his straight edge razor on the razor strap, he popped me on the seat with the strap as I ran by. I’m sure it didn’t hurt much but my heart was broken because Dad had spanked me.
            We all had deep respect for what we knew Dad expected us to do and we were always trying to not make him unhappy with us. He never screamed or hollered at us but we knew his word was law.
            Dad had a great love of nature. My first experience I remember was Dad calling me to come out and hear the meadowlarks’ song, the killdeer that used to say "Magna is a pretty little place" and one time anxiously called me to come hear a bird that sounded like a cat.
            Every spring until I was about 10 years old Dad took me up on the foothills of Magna usually to the cemetery and we picked wild flowers and brought them home to Mother. I believe this is why he enjoyed reading novels by Jane Gray and other such writers. They were so descriptive of the scenery. Usually for Christmas I gave Dad a novel which Mother had bought. He’d stay up all Christmas night to finish it.
            Dad enjoyed reading anything that came into the house, from our school books to completely reading the set of Wonder World Encyclopedias which Mother bought. Only good, wholesome reading material was let into our home. No True Stories or True Confessions etc. I feel bad to think we never had the Church Standard Works in our home. I’m sure he’d have read then also. We did have a small Bible that was Mother’s. I remember coming home from school in my early years and asking my parents to help me learn the Lord’s Prayer that I might say it in school. Mother got out her Bible and Dad found the prayer. They both helped me learn it.
            Even though Dad never went to church after his father died I learned the hard way you didn’t say anything bad about the L.D.S. Church. He usually even stuck up for most of the General Authorities and let you know you were the one that was wrong. Many and many a time on Sunday Dad has ask(ed) me, aren’t you going to church today? If I didn’t look I was getting ready when he thought I should be.

            Dad carved several neckerchief slides from the bones of sheep. Leland Webb used to let him skin his dead sheep and Dad got some of the kids besides. The leg bones he put on top of the chicken coop roof to dry before carving them. He also carved a yoke he could put on and carry a bucket of feed on each side of him as the yoke fit over his shoulders. The gate separating the back yard and the pasture was made from tree limbs notched into large tree limbs. (It was) very precise and well built. It was two gate(s) large enough for horses and wagon or tractor (to) go through.
            Dad always had a good appetite and for a small man really put away a lot of food, but he didn’t gain an ounce.
            One way you can tell if something he ate was sour was (that) he had a bald spot on the top and back of his head. I remember one time he took a bite of a gooseberry pie. Man you never seen perspiration appear so fast as on that bald spot. We all laughed and he joined in with us.

            Aunt Edith told how Dad was very protective of his sisters as they grew old enough to date. Especially her, I think he was trying to be the father she never knew.

            Aunt Mabel told me in Sept. 1986 that she was scared to death of Vern. I asked Aunt Lou about this and she said that was ridiculous. She was never afraid of him even though he didn’t approve of her boyfriend. Then she remembered Vern carried a gun and Maybel was afraid of the gun. Dad must have been very insecure to have carried a gun.

            Dad as a young man loved nice clothing and was considered a very smart dresser as were all his sisters. The sisters being taught by their mother to make their own clothes at an early age. Dad always wore a blue chamb shirt and khaki colored pants and if working a Carpenter’s overall over all. After we came to Draper he had blue overalls.

            Dad never talked much around his family but on the job with other men he did. He used to work every spring cleaning the canal along with other men in the neighborhood including Milan. Milan said he’d be very sociable with the rest of the men but was not very inclined to vulgar stories.

            One time as Dad was walking along the canal bank he came upon a large hole as he went to step over it he looked down. There was lots of snakes unwinding their selves after hibernation. This was one animal that he very much disliked. Well he made it home but had to strip and bath and wash his underwear and pants out. You can tell what it had scared out of him.

            Dad often brought home small trinkets in his lunch pail. Many an hour us kids played with the small ceramic tiles he brought home that were left over from a job he’d done. The Movie Show house in Magna had from the sidewalk to the door openings laid with white tile with a border that Dad laid. Many a time I’ve stood on this and been very proud of the perfect work.
            Marbles were also found in the lunch box and sometimes rocks he thought were pretty.
            James being the first Grandson was introduced to pretty rocks by his Granddad. We had no rocks on our place only sand. Grandpa had a gravel pile and one time Grandpa took James down and on reaching our home we had to unload a pile of rocks unloaded by the tree next to the ditch. If (there was) a pretty rock or unusual one Grandpa found, it was given to James next time we went over.

            Vern and Maybel met at a dance. The young women were standing by a wall. Vern told some of the young men he was going to get Maybel for his companion. They asked why and he said, "I know I can get the others, but she will be a challenge".
            They went together for seven years. Maybel said she sometimes felt it was so long that all the romance had gone out of their relationship by the time they married.