Memories of Eric Benjamin and Eugenia Harris Lundquist

Eric Benjamin Lundquist

Eric Benjamin Lundquist (December 27, 1871 – July 25, 1932)

The following letter was written by my 2nd Great Uncle, Lamont Harris, on April 25, 1971. It was addressed to my Great Uncle, Eugene Ben Lundquist. The letter recalls Lamont’s memories of my Great Grandfather, Eric Benjamin Lundquist (referred to as “Bennie”), and my Great Grandmother, Eugenia Harris (referred to as “Jean”).

Dear Eugene,

You asked me to write some of the things that I could remember about your father and mother and it really is a pleasure to do so because they were so very dear to me. They took me in when I was fourteen years of age. I had no father [William Emer Harris] and my mother [Katherine Perkes Harris] was very poor. Your parents were very good to her and because I worked for your Dad, it made it possible for me to give her a little money.

Pauline, Katherine & Eugenia Harris (About 1900)

I will always have fond memories of your Father and your Mother. The first I can remember of your Father was at his wedding supper. They were married November 4, 1903. I was 10 years of age at that time. Everything at the wedding was just out of this world. I have never in all my life seen so much to eat and me so hungry. They had a large long table with everything under the sun to eat. Bennie and Jean looked so nice. Bennie had a brass band playing outside all that evening. Everyone who came had to be treated. I can remember two large barrels of Beckers beer [Root Beer?] to treat them with and two big gunny sacks of peanuts and candy. It was such a big affair, I could never forget it.

Your Father and Mother first lived in Hyde Park. I used to go and play at their place and I remember your Grandmother Lundquist [Karin Ersson (Carolina Erickson)] as she was a short plump old lady and she was so good to me.

When I was 14, I went to live with your Father and Mother when they moved to Smithfield and they treated me just like I was one of their own in many ways. I had to work and I was glad for it. Your Dad was a good cook and before we went to work he would cook breakfast always with his hat on. We would have sausage, hot cakes and eggs, and it was good.

About the first I did for your Dad was to help him paint the “old Miles store.” I painted the roof and your Dad said I did it so fast and so good that he was going to give me extra money. Then we painted the inside of Roylance Smithfield Implement Company. Roylance was never good to work for and your Dad and Roylance got in a quarrel. Roylance pushed your Dad down. I went over to help and your Dad told me to get back. Then your Dad got up and took his 4” paint brush and filled it with paint and hit Roylance smack in the face with it. By then Roylance had had enough and he grabbed a new shirt and I helped him get the paint off. Your Dad had to pay for the shirt.

Your Dad was a small man, but when it came to work of all kinds, he was good. He had men working for him over six feet tall, but he could outreach many of them when on a plank. Not only was he fast but strong for his size. He was a good religious guy and he helped me to be a better boy, took me to Priesthood meetings and always insisted that I sing in the choir. If I have any good traits of character, I give him much of the credit.

Your Dad made good money as he was good at his trade. At one time, he bought a new car and it was a 7 passenger Chandler. I drove it for him many times. Once, I recall we went to Salt Lake City to see the Prince of Sweden and to hear the John B. Hells Band. There were hundreds of cars parked all over the place, and when the program was over, your dad said, “Let’s get out of here and beat the traffic.” We all got in the car and I put it in reverse and gave it the gas and it moved only six feet and one wheel slid and we stopped right in the lane of traffic. I didn’t  know what was wrong. Two policemen came and we found that your Dad had put a heavy chain on the wheels and locked them so no one could take off. The policemen gave us a good talking to and your Mother gave your Dad a good scolding, but we surely had a good time.

I think I told you about us hanging 54 rolls of wall paper in one day and driving to Richmond and back besides. Your Dad gave me an extra $10 that day.

Once brother Noble couldn’t get anyone to help him thrash, so your Dad told him that he and I would help him. They put us on the straw stack as it was an old-time horse drawn machine and if it hadn’t been for your Dad, I don’t know what I would have done. He was in good shape at that time.

Your Dad homesteaded some land in Park Valley and he took Riley [LaMont’s brother] and went out to look it over and they staked it out. Then the next trip out, I and your Dad went and we had some fine horses and good equipment. We put up a good and strong tent and we had taken some chairs, bed, stove, and all the things needed to keep house. One day two men came to see your Dad and they wanted to sell the things they had on their own homestead, so your Dad bought all of it. We tore down the house, sheds and fences and hauled it 15 miles down to his place and this was really hard work. Your Dad’s hands got so sore he would rub mutton tallow on them. Your Dad numbered every piece of lumber from the house and then it was out and up by numbers, a three room house with back porch, sheds and fences for the horses. I don’t think your Dad had been around horses before but he got along fine. He would drive four head of fine horses on a rail—a very heavy rail-road rail, which would pull out the sage brush. I would burn the sage brush for four hours, then I would drive the horses and then your Dad would burn the sage brush.

He planted 40 acres of alfalfa. It looked so green and pretty and he was very pleased with it. He spent a lot of money out there. But the cattle men just didn’t like it-they wanted it for grazing land and the next year when I got there they had run their cattle on it.

Your Dad cooked some good meals and I would wash the dishes. At night we would play cards to pass the time away. He had a little short trombone and I had a trumpet. We would sit outside and play and I am sure people could hear us from five miles away.

Every Saturday night, your Dad and I and Alf Peterson from Hyde Park would play for a dance. Cowboys in chaps and spurs and girls with calico dresses came and danced. We would want to stop at 12 o’clock, but they wouldn’t let us. Your Dad told them we would play only until 12 o’clock and then one cowboy shot 2 or 3 times up through the ceiling and then we played ‘till two.

About the 3rd year, your Father was called on a mission [a 6 month mission, called on January 25th, 1913, to the area around Milwaukee, Wisconsin]. I went out to Park Valley again but before the summer was over, your Dad sent word for me to come home. Between his mission and only me working out in Park Valley, I found that it was too much to handle. When he came home from his mission, he got a letter from some land grabbers saying your Dad had not lived up to the homestead law and they were taking the land but were willing to give your dad five-hundred dollars in gold for it. Your Father let them have it. Your Father had the right to take all the improvements. I wanted to take two wagons and get two loads, but he wouldn’t let me go out there because there were already Russians and their families out there. So it was all over. Your Dad sold all his horses and wagons and machinery to Riley for a small sum.

When your Father would get angry at something he would swear, but I did not know what he would mean, He would say, “Dock on Gaveln fayah” [Swedish].

Years ago there was a preacher who came to town with 4 other men and held their meetings on Miles corner {Smithfield Implement Company}. Your Father held a debate with them and tied them up so bad it was funny.

One time at Christmas time, he went around town and collected one thousand dollars for poor people and kids in Smithfield.

Your Father was very good to your Mother-she always had plenty of money and she dressed nice and lived good and she was always good to me. I dressed nice and theirs was a good home. I always worked my very best for your Father.

Your Father and Mother played for dances and I took care of you boys. When you wouldn’t go to sleep, I would get you good and warm and sing to you-I’ll never forget it.

You were such good children and it was pleasant to care for you-you were easy to care for. Your Father had a good home for you and I have to say, it was the best home I ever had.

I am 78 years old now and if I live to be a hundred, I will never forget how your Dad and your Mother took me in just like a son.

I will never forget. God bless their memory.

LaMont Harris

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