Abigail Eve Shaffer is the paternal Grandmother of Lucy. She was born on 18 October 1852 at Bingham Fort in, what is now, Ogden, Utah.
There are so many neat stories about Abigail. Some of these were recorded in Their Roots were Long and Deep.
Page 119, “Abby’s father had a small farm. They had some oxen, a few sheep, and some chickens. They lived in a log house and most of their furniture was home made. They sheered the sheep and spun the wool into yarn to make stockings and clothes. As early as she could remember she was helping to spin and weave. Her father made a small bench for her to stand on so she could reach up and over to turn the large spinning wheel. Her father raised wheat and oats. At harvest time she would help hi. He cradled (to cut grain with a cradle scythe. A cradle shaped container, bolted to the blade, catches the grain.) it and she would tie the bundles. The work was slow and they often would work far into the night to get it done before it shelled out or winter came. When the moon was not shining, they worked by the light from a lantern.
The mountain lions were thick and often she could see their eyes shining in the dark, but they didn’t come close becouse they were afraid of the light, but they would kill any stock that was left out after dark.
One fall they were feeling very secure, they had raised a good crop of grain, the corn crib was full (it held 50 bushels). They had quite a few chickens and had stored vegetables and dried berries in the cellar. Although the creek was high due to an overabundance of rain, they were not worriedd.
One night they all woke with a start after hearing something hit the house with a loud bang! Her father jumped out of bed and landed in water up to his ankles. He called for everybody to hurry and get dressed while he ran to hitch the oxen to the wagon. They barely had enough time to load up all the kids and bedding. They had to cross the creek on a bridge to get to her Uncle Joe’s place on higher ground. The bridge had no sides on it and was under water as was the approach to both sides. She told how they all prayed for the Lord to guide them. They crossed slowly on higher ground, they had lost all their worldly possessions.
During the summers, the children went barefoot, for shoes were scarce and must be saved for the coldest part of winter. Abby used to help the neighbors do their washing. This had to be done by hand on a scrubbing board, if they were lucky enough to have one. It was hard work even for the strongest. Lots of the time she had no shoes, but was able to keep her feet warm by heating a board to carry with her on the way. After running a while, she would put the board down to stand on for a moment then run again. If the place was not too far, the board would stay warm all the way.
There were lots of Indians around in those days, usually friendly. They would camp close to town where they liked to come and beg. Abby lived further out in the country.
One day she and the four younger ones were home alone. When they saw some Indians coming down the road, they were agraid, but knew there was something the Indians feared more than anything else. Quickly, she had the children get into bed and daubed their faces with red berry juice. When the Indians came to the door she said “Smallpox! Smallpox!”. Needless to say, they left in a hurry, shaking their blankets as they ran down the road. It was a long time before they were bothered again.
Several times when Abby was in town, she noticed a young Indian watching her. He was a chiefs son, tall straight and handsome. She was sixteen and very pretty, with long black hair and black eyes;her skin tanned by the sun. One day she and Cindy were out on the hillside digging sego lilly bulbs for the family to eat. On their way home the Indian Brave followed them. Abby, trying to be friendly, picked him some flowers. He looked at her for a while then went away. Next day he was back still carrying the flowers. Now what! Had the flowers meant something special to him? Apparently so! He came back again and again, each time, pacing back and forth in front of the gaite, but Abby never went out. Finally, after gazing a long time at the house, he threw the withered flowers to the ground, stomped on them, and stalked away. He never came back.
When the family moved to Millville, about 1869, Abby’s grandfather, Henry Shaffer, and some of her aunts and uncles went with them. Together, they homesteaded 160 acres of land at the head of Canyon Creek, about a mile from town and started taming the land once again. With the ever increasing number of people moving into the Weber Valley, they wisely felt the need of more farm land where their grown up sons and daughters could make a living for the next generation.”
Pages 197-199, “(The incidents in this story, by Allen Neves, were passed on to him by his wife’s Grandfather Peterson, many years ago.)
‘Oley Peterson was an immigrant from Sweden. He and his wife arrived on the Burlington Flats in the late 1800’s at a time when there were no doctors in the entire Graybull River Valley, and people needing nursing care, had to rely on friends or neighbors.
One woman in the valley, known as Mother Neves, took on the more serious problems. She delivered both of Oley’s daughters and had been of great help to his wife and father, during their last illnesses, as well as preparing their bodies for burial. she was well liked and so dependable that when two young doctors came to Basin, 25 miles away, they had trouble getting their practices started. People had more confidence in Mother Neves than in any “fancy doctor” from who knows where.
When they got a court order to have her arrested for practicing medicine without a license, it didn’t set well with the farmers and ranchers who loved and respected her. One time, when Oley went to town for his mail and a few supplies, he noticed a sign on the side of a building. It described the problem and called for interested parties to meet in front of the Saloon on a certain date and time.
On the appointed day Oley stopped his horse, on the way to town and pulled a handkerchief over his face. On his arrival, ten masked men had already gathered. No one spoke or gave any indication of who they were, but at a given signal, they all headed toward Basin and soon met the doctors coming toward Burlington, obviously lured by someone.
The two were pulled from their buggies and led to a deep ravine, where the masked men boosted them onto their untethered horses, put blindfolds on their eyes and tied their hands behind their backs. Then after stringing them up to a tree with hangman’s nooses, the tormentors rode away, leaving the two to an almost certain fate.
“Sometime later, before too much damage could be done,” continued Oley- with a twinkle in his eye- “a passerby happened to notice the two and cut them down.”
Whether or not this is just a “tall tale”, or if the rescuer was Oley himself- already stationed nearby- may never be proven. We do know, from one of her letters, that the doctors did give her trouble, and though she probably never realized why, the charges against our Grandma, Abby Neves, were soon dropped.
Abby wrote this letter to Wilford, while he and Lilias were attending the big Horn Academy at Lovell. As I have deciphered it from an almost unreadable copy, some words may not be exact.
Burlington, Feb 8, 1910
Dear son- it is with pleasure that I sit down to answer our kind and welcome letter that i got saturday. i was so glad to hear from you again and really thankful t= hear that you was all well. we are all well and hope that you are the same. there has been some sickness over here, not much tho. may mcNivin has been quite sick for a week. she is better now..
flossy ballard is a little sick tho not much. mrs. edith miers has got a big girl. _____
s wife has got a boy, it was born yesterday. i was there with dr. carter. he told me that as long as i done as i was doing that i was all right. so you don’t need to worry at all about me on that score. he left me to Look after mrs. kelly. dr harris could not get to Burlington to miers on account of the blizzard it was so bad, so i am all right there. dr carter sais we did not have to have ward if they did not want him and for me to go as a nurse, that was only proper, and to take care of the case until the doctor came. and if he didn’t get there that isn’t my fault.
he told me that it was ward who had tride to make trouble for me but he has made lots of enemies for himself. i think he will leave in the spring.
well wilford, i have told you this so you won’t worry about me. i have earnt 35 dollars since you went back. i am going to send you five in this letter. i would send six only i haven’t got the dollar bill. i have got the five in the bill that i have helped you a little. richard and chester will be over there in about a week from next thursday. they can’t go this week on account of the play.
well wilford, Lilias and eva can read this letter too. i have got to go to class yet today so will have to cut my Letter off. i would Like to get it off with the mail today. i can’t write only this one today, i will answer lilias’s tomorrow or the next. i might not be at home.
give my love to all of my friends, accept the same. I’ll be glad when school is out but i am glad that you went and i think that you and lilias has both done fine for the cance. mary had two months the start so i think you have done alright.
it is fine today not very warm tho. i will be glad when spring comes and i can see some things besides sbow. i haven’t got eny new to tell, every thing is about the same old thing. i will close for this time praying god to bless you all….