Blanche Rebecca Bingham Story

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Blanche Rebecca Bingham Story

  1. 1. Blanche Rebecca Bingham was born in her parents home January 20, 1886 to Sarah Rebecca Guthrie and Lorenzo Freeman Bingham. She was the first of nine children. Her mother was fail and sickly and at a very young age Blanche learned to help with the housework. wben she was only five years old she played her little sister was her baby and would tend her all day, wheeling her up and down in her doll buggy. Her mother taught her to be reliable and careful with the baby and she was always delighted to do anything she could to ease her mothers delicate condition. Blanche loved the beautiful Ogden Valley. 3he enjoyed visiting her Grandma Guthrie on the farm west of Ogden, but she was proud that she was a "city girl" and liked the e~citement of the horses and surreys hurrying down Ogdens main streets. She was gay and playful and always had a crowd of young people around. Her sixteen chestnut ringlets would bounce and fly as she danced with her friends andcousins. Dancing was a favorite recreation. She worked at an exclusive candy shop dipping chocolates during her teen years.At 20 she married one of ttese gay friends and all the crowd thought they were the ideal couple ..•• ttey were both gay and happy ••.all her friends were delighted with the match ..• though no one would have believed that in only two short years the marriage wouldend in divorce. She had one little son, and was so grief stricken at the time of the divorce that she miscarried and lost twin babies.She returned to her parents home and lived there 4 years. Simeon Wilbert Cragun, a pleasant widower who had had six children; twoof them yet at home, met and courted her. They were married and she went to live on his large fruit farm just North of Ogden. Blanche never minded hard work and there was plenty of it on the farm. She, and the children, worked as a team often singing as theyworked. She had three more children and then her husband decided to turn th0 farm over to his youngest son by the first marriage andmove to a primitave area in Idaho and homestead 120 acreas of land. Here Blanche endured all the hardships her pioneer grandmother,who had crossed the plains with the Mormon pioneers had known. She lived first in a dug-out in the hillside, then a tent, and finall ya one room shack supplemented with the tent. She knew the loneliness of the howl of the coyotes, and dread of having sick childrenwith only her faith and prayers and her own ingenuity to make them well ..• being left alone all day while the men went to the fields .•no close neighbors to visit with ..• her only social life was crossing the valley on Sunday for church, or an occassional picnicwith other homesteaders. She m~ssed the bustle of the metropolitan city ••• she longed for, and worried about, her dear mother whomshe was so fond of. Her mother, who had been told to have no more children after the first one, now had nine and her health was stillworse. Wbile the Indians in the area were not hostile, still they were mysterious and frightening to a mother left all alone withsmall children. She disliked the isolation the children suffered. They had to miss school both at the beginning and the end of theschool year in order to prove ~p on the homestead. Year after year the drought took their crops and left them further in debt. Mr.Cragun was getting along in years and was troubled with inflarrmitory rheumatism. Finally they had to abandon the homestead. Most
  2. 2. of the settlers were in the same predicament. Today these same farms are of the most productive around Pocatello. The present owners are well fixed and live in town, only staying on the dry-farms a few "reeks in the fall for harvest. They are some of the wealthiest piople in the area ••• but those first homesteaders who weathered the drought years and depression lost all they had and ver.f few of them proved up on their land. While still homesteading Blanche lost her mother, she and three of her children came down with typhoid, she lost her little six year old daughter, Vera, with it and her husbands health finally gave out and she had to go to work to support the family. She took in roomers, cleaned offices, and managed a hotel dining room at various tLmes to support them. At the time she managed the hotel dining room she was very happy with her work. She was an ~maculate housekeeper, and she had an art with food and could provide the tastiest of meals with a minimum of bidget. hhen her husband died, in 1931, three of her five children were still at home. Her step-son ~ow had full charge of the fruit farm and she never received one cent of inheritance from it. The depression was at its height and she was now living back in Ogden where she was the happiest, but where she had no garden to help supply food. EverJ~hing they needed must be purchases and rent must be paid. Life was a constant struggle. At the ti 1e that she had struggled on the homestead and lived in Pocatello during the wi nt.er-s the family found a wonderful friend L1 Kent Smith, who they first met, as a roomer when they were operating the hotel dining room. After her hus iands I death he could no longer room with them, but he had fallen in love with the family and couldnt bear to see them suffer. He helped them in any way he could. Because he was a bachelor it was difficult for him to get work too, for only family men could get jobs, but after helping a frien4 who was rurning for County Commissioner in Ogden, he was_given the joh of City Engineer. He and Blanche were married in 1934 and he became a wonderful father to the three sons she still had living at ho.ne For the first t Ime in many years Blanche now knew a , sense of security and happiness. Kent was gentle and kind to her and her children. He gave her anything it was in his power to pro- vide. After the four year term of Kents friend, the County Commissioner, was up he lost office and Kent and Blanche had to look for a new means of support. Kent had been in the Seattle area during the first world war and had always longed to return. They decided to move to the Pacific Northwest and make their home there. It was still depression times and it was difficult for them to break into a new area, but they found people who were helpful, and a friend gave them the use of his lake home in Fierce County and they spent the balance of t.he i.rlives in the Tacoma area. Kent passed away in 1946. Again loneliness overcame her arid she :l.ad o learn a new t way of life. Her family were all married now and she really felt lost. She met a group of wonderful ladien here in Tacoma at ttis time who helped to fill her loneliness and ad~~st tu a new life.She found solace in her church and began to study and read the scriptures ap she never had before. She only had about 5 years of formaleducation, for she had to stay at home and help with her younger brothers and sisters during the school age years, but now she read with an eagerness and hunger. One might suppose that through all these vicissitudes Blanche might become bitter and sour on life. Many with less to try their pat- ience have. But throighout all these troubles she remained cheerful and happy. She endured hardships and poverty and made the best of her lot .•• she suffered the pain of dozens of broken bones, illnesses, a car wreck, a bus wreck, and the tortures of arthiritis without whining or seeking undue sympathy. She always had a ready smile or a joke. She knew heartbreak and disappointment, but still she had faith in people and always sought their company. She defended her Children, regardless of what they did, with the ferocity that a mother lion would protect her cubs. She could not tolerate disharmony and was always a peacemaker. She was charitable to any who wronged her and forgave and held no grudge. By trying in every way she knew ho to make peace with her God she found peace of_mind and soul and in her later years a sweet spirit of compassion and meekness eminated from her and she was a joy to be with. --
  3. 3. The two vacations they took while Kent was City Engineer helped them decide where they would move to when the city job was over. It was to be the Northwest! Kent, mother and Howard moved to Seattle until they could locate a place and work. The depression( wasn1t over, but the Democrats were now in control and there was W.P.A, P.W.A. and other projects that was helping to alleviate some of the hardships. Kent was a staunch Democrat and thought F.D. Roosevelt was about as perfect man that ever walked the earth-- next to Christ. The first day after they arrived in Seattle Kent ran into a friend he had known when he was in Seattle years ago. This man was a realtor and when he heard of Kents situation he offered him the house he had bought for his bride as a wedding present. He said they no longer went there anymore and that Kent was welcome to live there as long as"he wanted. wbile in Seattle they had a collision in the car and Blanche was badly shook up. She was suffering from shock and they wrote and asked if one of the children could move out and help take care of her. Royal and Bertha seemed the logical ones to do so as they had no children and were willing. Glenn was in the regular army in the Philippines, Reub and Cora had school children and so did Viola and Ray, so now there were 5 of the family living in the lake home that the friend had "turned over to them. Lewis Lake (r.ow Lake Holiday) was a beautiful little lake near Port Orchard. Many of the folk there came to swim and play. It was in an area that had been a logging camp a few years prev- ious and there were a few abandoned houses, orchards, vinyards, an old store and a community hall. The best place in the world to weather a depression. There was no money, but there was fish, clams, oysters, fruit, scenery and peacefulness. Here the family eeked out a living. They fell trees and cut them up for cordwood to sell. They gathered cascara bark and sold Kent eventually got on W.P.A. and Royal (who had worked in grocery stores for ~Tears) got /< ~ part time work at the local store. One family that came to the lake often, and who helped the family get established in this new country was the Nelson fa~ily. Sally and ;~~tle came often to swim and play in the lake. Here it was that, when Glenn came home from the( Phil ippine~ he met and fell in love with Ywrtle. Eventually all the family came to Washington--even Berthas sister, Gloria who lived with Bertha and Royal and went to school in Vaughn--as ~id Howard. From this rural life Kent and Blanche moved in to Tacoma and during the war years Kent worked in the shipyard and Blanche was a salad chef in a r-est.aur-ent ,
  4. 4. Kent died 13 Sept 1946. It was quite an adjustment for Blanche to be all alone after spending all her life working and caring for her children. She gave up the large home they had maintained, moved to a 2 room apartment and found a new relationship with a group( of ladies who enjoyed canasta, eating at Steves Gay 90s , But where she found complete satisfaction and love was in the churc h, Although her education had been limited and her time for reading almost nil she began to study the scriptures and do compassionate work in the Relief Society. "I love my children more than they will ever know. I had a worried life when I was raisLng my children. I have had to work off and on to keep them in school and to have food. Now I am alone and try to keep myself busy sewing and in my home. I love my church work and lady friends and enjoy my children. lfJY health is not good but I try to keep happy. I like to go to the temples an.. do wo rk for the j dead. I hope I can finish out my genealogy and do more temple work. I know that Heavenly Fathers spirit is surely with you in the temples and it is such a restful happy feeling. I know that God answers my prayers and that He is the living God and Jesus Christ lives and that He is at the temples and with the apostles. and I think there is heavenly spirits in the empty seats at the temples. II(

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