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December 18, 2018

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Grace Emily Astle Frank
A Life History Told In Her Own Words

I was born in the small town of Grover in Star Valley, Lincoln County, Wyoming, on the cold winter night of February 19, 1912. I was born shortly after midnight in a big white frame house. I am the daughter of John Francis Astle Sr. and Lauretta Hepworth Astle. I was welcomed by three brothers and six sisters. Myrtle was the name selected for me by my parents but shortly before I was to be named, they changed their minds and gave me the name of Grace Emily Astle. I was blessed and given my name at our LDS Church house by my father on April 7, 1912. The church house was a big white building.

Grace Emily Astle - Age 3
Grace Emily - Age 3

We lived in Grover until I was five years old. We then moved to an old frame house on a ranch approximately three miles west of Grover.

We went sleigh riding, on top of the deep snow, down the hill near our home. It got 30 degrees below zero so we wore a scarf on our faces so they wouldn't freeze. All winter, we wore long legged underwear and long stockings to keep us warm. We went sleigh riding every day. The snow was so deep it covered up the fences. Our sleighs were home made. We sure had a lot of fun as a family.

One summer right after mother and the girls got the ironing done and the clothes put away, mother made a fire outside to burn junk. The wind started to blow from the north and the sparks from the fire blew onto the house. It burned to the ground because there was no fire engine to put it out. It burned about everything we owned - our clothes, furniture, etc. Neighbors and friends brought furniture, bedding, and clothes for us. Dad bought tents and we lived in them until a new house got built. We had a stove, table, and chairs. We had ticks made out of ticking and filled with fresh straw. We slept on them on the ground inside of the tents.

When the new house was built, we had a bathroom with hot and cold water in it. The bathroom was really special to all of us. Before having this house, we had to carry water from the spring on the north side of the house. We just had wood stoves to keep us warm. We had to carry wood in every night to fill the wood box, so there was wood for the day. It was a big wood box. We had a stove for cooking and a heater in the front room. We had no electric lights, just oil lamps.

I became an aunt when I was four years old as my brother Francis and his wife Signe had a baby girl. She was born January 17, 1916. They named her Atelia Astle. I sure thought I was a big girl.

Grace Emily Astle
Grace Emily Astle

I learned how to milk a cow when I was five years old. I went with the older girls on horses to take the cows to the pasture in the summer time. We had 25-30 cows. My dad, the older girls, and my two brothers milked the cows.

I was only six years old when my mother died with the flu. She passed away on Christmas Eve, 1918. My brother, Vernon, passed away with the flu a day before my mother did. That Christmas was a very sad one for all of us. I have never liked Christmas since then. No funeral was held for my mother or my brother because the whole family was sick with the flu. The grave sites were dedicated before burial. My aunt Ivy Astle came to help take care of us. She had been given a blessing and was promised that she would never get the flu if she took care of those who had the flu. She died at age 90 and had never had the flu in her life.

Spring came again and my oldest sister, Klea, took care of us. She tried to take the place of mother. Relatives and friends were very good to my family.

We had workhorses, ponies, cows, chickens, pigs, and stock animals on the ranch. We raised wild hay, alfalfa, oats, barley, and wheat. We raised a garden with peas, carrots, turnips, and potatoes. We also raised red currants and raspberries.

In the fall when the chokecherries and serviceberries were ripe, Dad and the whole family went in the big wagon, pulled by workhorses, to pick the berries. We went early in the morning to go after the berries and always took a big lunch with us. We filled milk cans with the berries and brought them back to make jelly and also bottled fruit. We worked hard but also had fun picking the fruit. It took two days for Mother and the big girls to bottle the fruit.

In the summer time we also picked gooseberries and strawberries to bottle. All the fruit we had to eat in the winter was serviceberries, dried peaches and prunes, currants, and gooseberries. Dad always bought strawberry jam and syrup. We always had plenty of chokecherry jelly too.

In the fall after the grain was harvested, Dad took wheat to Montpelier to be traded for flour. He brought enough flour back to last a year. He also bought enough sugar to last a year.

Dad also went deer hunting and elk hunting in the fall. If he got game, Mother and the girls bottled part of the meat. Dad always killed a beef and a pig for the winter too. Mother bottled the beef and the pork had to be cured. We always had chickens to kill during the winter and also the summer. When chickens were killed in the winter, they were hung on the clothesline to freeze so they would last us most of the winter. We also had milk, eggs, cheese, and butter all of the time.

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