"Going to the roots of the Frank Family"
July 17, 2019




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Life Story of John Astle
Written by his daughter, Sarah Astle Call, in 1953

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All machinery was kept in sheds during both summer and winter months and always in a ready condition to be used. If repair was needed, it was done at once. There was a place for everything, and everything was kept in place. For instance, if we children would ask, as we often did, the use of Father's saw or hammer, or whatever else we wished to use, he would say, "All right, if you will put it back where it belongs when you are through with it." There was no arguing. If we were careless, we must leave such things alone, and we knew better than ask again.

He always kept one lantern hung on a certain peg in the stable or barn to use if emergency arose. It was filled with oil, wick trimmed, ready for use at any moment in the darkness of the night. Every pitchfork, harness, saddle, or other equipment had also a certain peg of its own. There was no misplacing of anything under Father's care.

He was a very strict "disciplinarian." We, as children, felt he was too much so for his or our own good. His daughter Sylvia recently remarked, "With our Father 'Yes' meant 'Yes' and 'No' meant 'No'. There was no back talk." But he never issued a command - never said, "Go do this or that." He always asked, "Will you do it?"

He had a very quick temper and sometimes lost control of it, but as soon as it had run its course and had an outlet, it was all over, and he was humble as a child. No, he wasn't a perfect Dad, for like all human beings, he had his faults and failings. We never expected perfection, yet he had so many good and fine qualifications that we wouldn't trade him for any other. One of his sons, Lee, said recently, "Yes, Dad had his failings, but he was a man of character."

He was liberal almost to an extreme. He would aid or assist anyone when his service was needed. Truly converted to his Church and its duties, he freely gave of his time in its service. As before mentioned, care of the dead and the living was one of his responsibilities. The gift of faith and healing of the sick had been given him, and he exercised it willingly by answering the numerous calls made of him. Often, at any hour of the night, the call was answered to go to the home of someone sick or dying. On horseback or on snowshoes was the usual way, but often he walked many miles through storm or hot sun. Never did we hear him complain. He knew it was service to his God and fellow men.

In these early winters, there was not too much farm work that could be done except chopping the wood, feeding and caring for the livestock, and milking cows. Often, during the afternoon or evening, neighbors and friends would visit each other. Sometimes the whole family came and spent the day and even the night. Those were pleasant occasions for all. A good meal was prepared by the housewife in whatever home they happened to be. Many evenings were spent at our house by some of the brethren, Father's friends and co-workers in the Church, sitting around the fire engaged in pleasant conversation. Usually the general theme was topics of the day but ended by relating experiences and discussing various principles of doctrine.

We children were supposed to be asleep in an adjoining room but were often more awake than they knew. They never did know how we listened. It is still remembered and many of those talks have aided us in establishing a true conception of many problems that have arisen, especially in regard to Church authority and principles. These men had helped to bear many persecutions and the brunt of ridicule. Each one gave his own testimony to the truth of his belief.

He who begins and constructs the foundation of any movement, religious or civic, has a hard task to build it strong and solid enough to endure. They who follow can add to the structure unmeasured heights, but the foundation must be firm and unyielding from the ground up.

In a few years, the older children, Elizabeth, Francis, and Richard were married and had homes of their own. Sometime later the first wife and her youngest children were moved back to Afton. The second wife with her family of nine children remained on the farm for several years longer.

On Sunday, August 14, 1892, the Star Valley Stake of Zion was organized by President Joseph F. Smith and Apostle Francis M. Lyman, including the residents of both valleys. George Osmond was sustained as Stake President with William W. Burton and Anson V. Call as counselors. John Astle was chosen at this same time as an alternate to the High Council of the Stake. He was very exacting about attending stake and ward meetings. All work was suspended for the monthly Priesthood meeting and the regular stake conference. All the family members were instructed to put Church duties first.

John Astle - Nottingham Conference 1900
Nottingham Conference - 1900

Father had always wanted to return to England, his native land, for a visit and to see the old home. This desire was granted when early in June 1900, he received a call to fill a mission in England. When he was set apart for this mission, his blessing stated that his call came through revelation. He left home 3 July 1900 for Salt Lake City, Utah, accompanied by his son William W. who was also on his way to the mission field, having been called by the authorities of his ward to the Northwestern States Mission. Richard, another son, also received a call about this same time, but was deferred because of his father and brother both going from the same family. His call came through the Seventies Quorum.

After fulfilling one year of his mission, William W. was transferred to the British Mission. Both father and son were assigned to Nottingham Conference, the "Old Home" of this branch of the Astle Family. While here, Father met some old friends and relatives and gathered some genealogy from the Parish Churches of Chellaston and other towns in Derbyshire which later was the foundation of a final successful connected family pedigree.

Father returned home to America and his families on the 25th of January 1902. His son William W. returned later the same year. He resumed his work on the farm for a time, then sold the ranch, moved his wife, Melvina Ann (Melley), to Grover, Wyoming, and purchased another farm west of that town. The first wife, Isabella (Belle Jane), continued to live in Afton. She died on the 16th of May 1912.

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