A letter from Box "B" soon followed closely which read about as follows:
Your name has been selected and accepted as a missionary to the Eastern States and if you have no reasonable excuse, we would like you to be ready to leave Salt Lake City for you mission on June 21."
I was thrilled to know how soon my prayers had been answered.
I had worried much about how I would be able
to meet successfully the ministers of other churches who had been to college and made a
study of the Bible and were well versed in scripture. When Apostle Teasdale set me apart
for my mission, he ordained me a Seventy, and in the blessing he gave me were these words:
"Think not in you heart that you are not qualified, because the Lord chooses the weak
things of the world to confound the wisdom of the mighty, and he can loose thy tongue and
fill thee with words of eternal life and thou shalt never be confounded by the wisdom of
the wise and learned, but will always have an answer for the hope that is within
thee." I felt sure that Apostle was inspired to give me that blessing. It gave me
strength, fortitude and courage.
For years I had been active in the deacons quorum and other priesthood activities. For years I had been a member of the Ward Choir and was a teacher in Sunday School. During the week before leaving on my mission there were two home parties arranged and held in my honor. The first one was arranged by my Sunday School class and held at the home of Mr. And Mrs. H.J. Wagstaff. Those young people presented me with a beautiful leather Bible. The other was a surprise party arranged by Mima and Josie Murdock and held at their home. A large croud of boys and girls were present. After Sunday School the following Sunday, Mima and Josie took me home to dinner. They were wonderful girls. They wanted me to be happy when I left for my mission.
I think that no young persons story is
quite complete without a little romance, telling of the joys and the heart-aches of
courtship. So far I have told but little about my courtships. In fact, I have not much to
tell except to say I have patted myself on the back many times and said to myself,
"Hyrum, you sure were very shrewd in the way you worked things around so as to win
Sarah Van Wagoner."
It was in November 1897 that I first met Sarah Van Wagoner. She was at a dance in the Midway Hall. I had gone to Midway with George Smith, Jr. He had been going out with Clara, the older sister of Sarah. George coaxed me to ask Sarah to go home with me. I did not have courage to ask her until the dancing was over and people were putting on their raps. Then I walked over to Sarah and said, "May I take you home tonight?" Her reply was, "I dont usually go home with strangers, but Ill go home with you tonight."
I really thought that both Clara and Sarah were really nice. The four of us walked home together. The girls did not invite us into the house, but we stood out on the side of the house and talked for nearly an hour. By that time, we had gotten the best information available as to when the next dance would be, and we gave them assurance we would be back to take them to the dance.
The next morning at school, Dan Wilson walked over to Sarah and said, "I dont go home with strangers, but Ill go home with you tonight." Mary Hamilton said to her, "I go home with all strangers, therefore, Ill go home with you." Those remarks caused a lot of laughter. It was more than Sarah could take without feeling offended. She wondered if I had been talking, not realizing that Dan Wilson had overheard our remarks.
When George Smith and I went back to take the girls to the next dance, we rode our horses as usual to Midway. We then tied them in the Van Wagoner yard and went to the house. The girls were not ready to go so we told them we would soon be back that we would just go down to the dance hall and see who was there. It is possible we had stayed at the dance hall longer than we had thought. However, the dance had not commenced when the girls entered the ball room. When the dance commenced, we went over to the girls and apologized and asked them for the first dance. I was of the opinion that my explanation and apology was satisfactory, so I was surprised when I went to her at the close of the dance and asked if she was going home with me, to hear her reply: "I came alone and I can go home alone." I dont remember what else I said, but I felt quite humiliated. Some of the boys flocked around me and asked what she said to me.
I supposed that all was off with us as far as Sarah and I were concerned. It did not hurt me so much, except that I hated to be turned down in front of so many people. I thought she was barking up the wrong tree at my expense and I made up my mind to be more sure of myself next time. I learned the girls were sometimes easily offended. I did not see her again before I went to Provo to school.
I knew I stood in well with Sarahs brothers, John and Will. Her brother Will went to school and was in some classes with me. A short time later, her brother John and Ben Hair went to Provo also to attend the Winter Semester. They were accompanied by their wives, and Sarah Van Wagoner was with them just for a visit. In Sunday School, I saw her looking at me and saw her smile. I decided she was not still mad at me.
After Sunday School, we met and she walked with me about two miles out on the Springville Road where I lived with Tom and Aunt Fanny Winterton. We were together all afternoon and until about eight p.m. and before leaving her, I had promised to take her to the dance at Charleston on the night of Washingtons birthday. That night, I was not late in calling to take her to the dance.
I had not been at the dance long when some of the Charleston girls approached me and said, Hyrum, do you know that Josie Murdock is up on the stage crying because you brought another girl to the dance? You had better go up there and talk to her." I then remembered how close Josie and I had been to each other so long at school and dances, etc. But I had been so bashful that I had failed to ask her to go many places with me. I tried to tell her I had done nothing to intentionally hurt her feelings and wanted her to forgive me for what I had done. Josie said I had been talking about her. That she had learned from good authority that I was using her just for a foot mop. I think it was the same boy that told Sarah Van Wagoner the same kind of story in almost the same words.
The story told did not affect Sarah Van Wagoner the same as it did Josie Murdock and Sarah was always so sociable and kind to me even though I was not often with her, even to the time I left for my mission. In after years, I often said, "God bless the girl that had such faith in me trusted in me, and would not give her hand to anyone else until she was sure I would not come back to her." I pray the Lord that she and her children may be blessed through time and eternity because she waited for me. May I be worthy to be her husband and the father of her children.
At my farewell dance the night before leaving, I avoided paying special attention to any girl. I tried to have a good time and treat them all the same. Sarah Van Wagoner was at my farewell party. In later years she told me that after that dance she cried all the way home. Then next morning nothing would do, but that her brother Will would hook up the horses and take her to the Charleston depot, to be there when I left. He is reported to have said, "Get yourself ready and Ill take you down to see the little bowlegged Englishman off."
At the depot a large crowd was there gathered to wish me well on my mission. I dont especially remember many who were there. I was too confused and deep in thought.
How glad I was when brother Ralph boarded the train with me when it left. I was surprised. He stayed close to me until I left Salt Lake City, Utah. It was very hard for me to leave Ralph. We had been so close together so many years with the sheep, with the cattle and in the home. We slept together; together we owned a light one horse buggy and we went to the dances and parties together. I had prayed for him and helped nurse him when he was nigh unto death. (We had since believed he had a bad case of appendicitis. Dr. Aird told Ralph in later years it was possible the appendix may have ruptured. I feel it was a miracle that his life was preserved. The family
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