Earl Halls

The Early Years

Dictated by Earl Halls

Transcribed and Edited by Kristine Halls Smith

Grandpa was a storyteller, so he was encouraged by many people in his family to tell his stories so they could be preserved. In 1968, he complied with those requests by telling his stories into a tape recorder and they were then transcribed.
By Kristine Halls Smith

This is the beginning of a pressurized account of some of the incidents in the life of Earl Halls, now living in Morgan, Utah. Starting in at the point of beginning, I was born in Mancos, Colorado, a son of William Halls, Jr. and Ellen Melissa Barker, on April 16, 1890, full of life, and really acting as if I were glad I had been born. I have been told that at the early age of possibly a little under a year, I was harnessed in the jumping jack, the jumping jack being made with an oak stick fastened to the ceiling of the house with a rope coming down with a harness going around me so that I could jump. People came from several miles around just to see me jump. And now, all they have to do is just point their fingers at me, and I jump.

My father [William Halls, Jr.] had gone to Mancos, Colorado with his father [William Halls, Sr.] and his father’s second family, [Johanne Marie Frandsen Halls and her children] along with Uncle Tom, [Thomas Halls] who was my father’s full brother. Uncle Tom and Father lived with the second family until they were both married, and helped to support the other family and keep them going.

Mother [Ellen Melissa Barker Halls] came through the Hole-in-the-Rock from Parowan with her mother, her younger sister, [Dora Barker Burnham], and younger half-brother, [John Harvey Dunton]. The year was 1880. Grandma Barker [Mary Ann Doidge Barker Dunton] had five daughters from her first husband, [Joseph Barker] then she later married a man named James Harvey Dunton, and they had one son.

But, as Mother grew up, she worked in the hotel, making beds. She was only twelve years old at the time and had to do everything possible to help keep her sisters and widowed mother. Mother and Father were married in Mancos. I don’t know exactly, but I think Mother was 17 or 18; I don’t know just the age of my father. 

They lived in Mancos on, not a homestead, but a desert entry that Father had taken up in what they called “The Webber” and lived close to Uncle Tom Halls. Uncle Tom’s oldest boy was named Francis, and he and I were about the same age. We used to play together a great deal, and in back of our home there was a little hill that we called “Flint Hill” because of the arrowheads that were there. Later on in life, Francis had an arrowhead made into a tie pin for me, and gave it to me, and when were on a ranch in Monticello, someone stole it out of the trunk. I didn’t like that at all!

When I was about six years old, they discovered Mesa Verde. Three cowboys by the name of Wetherill took pack horses, or pack mules, and blasted a road out to Mesa Verde. They used these mules to carry pottery, mummies, and different things out of the ruins of Mesa Verde. They stored them in a big barn in Mancos. My father took me there to see this barn, and they had the pottery and all these things on the shelves. When it came to the mummies, I asked Father what they were, and he said they were dead people, so I still remember the barn and the things that were in it.

Backing up slightly on my story, back when we lived on “The Webber” and I was a small child, we used to have what we called a cistern to store our house water in. A cistern is quite a hole in the ground, plastered to make it more waterproof. It was filled about once a week from the ditch that ran near the house. In summer the wigglers would get in the water and would have to be strained out before we could drink or, if we preferred meat with our drink, we could drink without straining. One time, however, the straining wasn’t necessary as someone left the lid open, and I fell in. And that killed all the wigglers.  Had it not been for my cousin Pearl being there and lying on her tummy and holding me up until Aunt Emma and Mother came, I would have died along with the wigglers.

Another thing happened at that home. We had a fireplace, and one morning while Mother was milking the cow and Dad wasn’t home, I got too close to the fire and caught my pretty little nightgown on fire. Of course, being a smart boy for my age, I ran outside shouting in my tiny wee voice, “Mother, Mother, my night dress is on fire!” She made a fifty-yard dash and put the fire out by wrapping her apron around me. I wonder if that is why I haven’t any hair today!

I well remember climbing up on the cupboard, reaching for a pan of cookies, as that is where Mother kept her cookies, or tried to, but she also kept a paper sack of cayenne pepper up there. She used cayenne pepper in the chicken mash to warm the chicken’s innards in the winter. But in my sliding the cookie pan, I also slid the pepper, and got cayenne pepper in my eyes. Lesson number one! The next time, I was older. In order to get the cookies off the top of the cupboard, I pushed the table over against the cupboard.

I got the cookies okay, put a nice bunch on the table, and started to get down. I took hold of the top of the door. The door went one way, the table the other. I slid down the end of the door where the latch was, with my knee stuck out, and got an awful gash on the inside of my knee. Well, I was in a jam! I couldn’t tell Mother how it happened, so I told her I did it on a slivery place in my little chair that Uncle Tom had made for me. Now my mother knew I wouldn’t tell a lie, and she believed me until I was thirty years old. She often told folks about it. Darned if I didn’t believe the yarn myself! Then one day when she was telling someone, I felt guilty and told her the truth. I came near getting a licking right then.