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December 17, 2017

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Life of Lauretta Hepworth Astle
Written by her daughter, Arstanie Astle Nye

Lauretta Hepworth, daughter of Edmund Hepworth and Hannah Cowling was born September 26, 1874, at Oxford, Idaho. Her parents were of English birth, converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They immigrated to America in 1863 to be near the main body of the Church and to be able to have an active part in the Church, as well as, to teach their children to live good, clean upright lives.

The Hepworth family lived in Salt Lake City their first winter in the United States. Early in the spring of 1864, they moved to a frontier settlement to the north of Smithfield, Utah and then on into Oxford, Idaho. In Oxford they took up a few acres of land, built a home with logs brought down from the canyons. It was a one room house with a dirt roof and floor, one door and a small window, but it was theirs and a humble home to them.

Edmund and Hannah Hepworth Family
Edmund and Hannah Hepworth Family

Back Row: William Henry, Lauretta, George William,
Hannah Eliza, John Edmund
Front Row: David Edgar, Edmund,
Hannah Schofield Cowling, Joseph Edmund

They buried their first child, a girl, while living in Smithfield. She was born to them while crossing the Atlantic Ocean. While yet in Smithfield, a little son was born to them, he was named Joseph Edmund.

Lauretta was the fifth child born to them while living in Oxford. She learned to help with the work while yet a very young girl.

They lived in Oxford twelve years, worked hard, raised good crops and had a very happy, enjoyable time.

The people in Oxford were becoming a mixed group of Mormons and Gentiles, so the Hepworth's and others, decided to move to Springdale in Utah's Dixie. On May 5, 1877, a six mule team was hitched to the wagon loaded with what furniture they had (bedding, boxes of clothing and vegetables raised in their garden and other things). They set out for Springdale. It was a beautiful morning, birds singing and all were happy. They went by way of Ogden and Salt Lake, camping near the Jordan River. Lauretta being just three years old commenced asking, "When are we going to get to our new home?" (Springdale is situated on the north fork of the Rio Virgin River, about two miles from the south entrance to Zion National Park.) The boys helped their father clear the land for planting. Sugar cane, wheat and vegetables were planted, there was much work to be done.

Logs were cut and hauled to build houses, as well as, fences and other buildings. Their house was build of rock with a board shanty on one side. Snakes and bugs would often crawl into the house which proved, by most uncertain terms, to be very unpleasant.

The family became ill with chills and fever so they had to move to a higher climate. In April 1880, they moved to American Fork where they worked a sixty acre farm owned by Peter Cowling, a brother of Lauretta's mother, Hannah. They only lived there a short time then moved to Bountiful, Utah.

Lauretta's father took another wife while living in American Fork. Plural marriage was sanctioned by the Mormon Church, but not by the laws of the land. U. S. Marshals were always on the watch for the men with more than one wife. This was the main reason they moved to Bountiful, to try and escape the persecutions. President John Taylor advised the brethren to evade the laws and find a place for refuge.

In the spring of 1887, only one family had moved into Star Valley, Wyoming. This valley had been dedicated as a gathering place for the Saints.

The roads were extremely rough through the mountains. There were no dugways or grades so they traveled in the canyon bottoms. There were a few other families living in the Valley when the Hepworth's arrived. The cabin they chose to live in had been used as a shelter for horses, so of course it needed much cleaning and fixing.

In the fall of 1889, the other Hepworth family moved into the Valley. They lived in a log cabin with a dirt roof. The house was running north and south. The north room had a door and window in the west side, the south room had a window in the south end. Each window had six panes of glass 10 x 12 inches. The old ranch was a beautiful, quiet place with much timber growing and clear spring water, bubbling and trickling down the lower slopes.

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