Alice Melvina Rice Crookston, (1860-1925)

Prepared 09 June 1984 by her youngest daughter, Edna Crookston Terry in Escondido, California – a few memories for her many descendents.

I am Edna, the last remaining child of Alice and Nicholas Crookston.  I look at a colored photograph of mother, taken from a painting of her dressed in her beautiful, well fitting, blue satin wedding dress which was completely made by hand before her marriage.  And years later while she was living in Logan, Utah, raising a big family of children, she still looked beautiful.  No wonder the famous artist who was living in her home for a time used Alice as his model in painting the murals on the walls of the newly completed Logan Temple.  Her face adorned many of the figures which I saw while a child during my baptism at eight years of age.  One specifically outstanding was Alice holding a baby in her up-raised arms, with her beautiful gentle face smiling happily and lovingly.  My only regret is that when the Temple was refinished, years later, the murals were covered with plain walls.  I hope there are photographs of them somewhere.

For the benefit of grandchildren and great grand children who did not know Alice as I remember her, I shall go back and give them some of the vital statistics and memories I still have of my mother.

Alice was born in Farmington, Utah 03 February, 1860.  Her parents were Oscar North Rice and Clarisa Miller, both with Utah Pioneer Heritage and among the first settlers of that community.

Mother told us of an incident that happened to her while she was still a small baby.  The family had moved to Cache Valley and their first stop was in Smithfield. It was necessary for them to cross a stream with only a pole to use as a bridge.  It was not very sturdy, and half way across the baby slipped from her mother’s arms and only the quick action of her mother saved the baby’s life as she headed downward.  She was grabbed by her long baby dress just in time.

The next move was south a few miles to a larger settlement in Logan, where they were soon obtained a property on South Main Street, just beyond a river of considerable size.  There a house was built, running a north and south.  As I remember, it was long and smooth, while with an up-stairs above one of the additions.

Over the years more children were added, Clarissa (Clara), Henrietta (Net), Evaline (Eva), Oscar, the only son, and Abigal (Abbie), and Sarah Ann (Nana).   They all received what education was available, Alice to the extent that she taught in Miss Ida’s School which was quite an achievement.

During her early twenties Alice married Nicholas Welch Crookston, a son of Robert and Ann Welch Crookston, who were among the first pioneers to cross the plains.  Grandpa drove ox teams and grandma acted as a midwife.  They settled first in Salt Lake City, Utah, on South Temple, and later moved to Logan.

All of Alice’s sisters were also beautiful, and each found a mate.  Clarissa married Fred Benson, a relative of Ezra Taft Benson, Net married Dan Crookston, a brother of Nicholas’s, Eva married Charles Martineau, Abby married Ray Kimball, and Nana married Hyrum (Hite) Benson, brother of Fred.  The brother of these girls, Oscar married Charlotte Pickett and remained in the old home.

It was not long before my father who was skilled carpenter, built a lovely home on 1st East and 2nd South in Logan.  There eight children were born over the years, Oscar, Alice (Allie), Jean, Lucille, Newell, Burns, Spencer, and Laurn.  As soon as they were old enough they were fortunate to be within walking distance to a good school.

There came a disruption to all their lives, the small settlement of Greenville, now North Logan, needed leadership and my father was called to be a Bishop so they could become a ward.  There was just a small one-roomed cabin used as a church with curtains to draw to separate into classes.  He held this position for 20 years and during the early part of it constructed, almost single-handedly, a new chapel with a little tower, but with only one large room, a stand, and entrance hall.  This met the needs of the little ward for many years.

The first problem was to build another home and 130 acres was obtained and with nothing but ingenuity and hard work, father set about building as soon as possible.  He took Oscar, who was big for his age but still a growing boy, into the canyon nearby and felled and trimmed logs with which to build.  It didn’t take very long to construct a three-roomed house.  They were all large rooms and he built it very carefully on a good foundation.  It faced south, back from the street.  Later more rooms were added, and a front porch and a sleeping porch.

Trees were planted, with a large lawn in front and on each side.  A well had to be dug, but as soon as possible he helped build a canal from Logan Canyon as all the acreage needed irrigation.

During this time the ninth child was born, a little girl named Edna Hilda, the only girl in the family with a middle name, and after four boys in a row she was welcomed.

It was not many years before father had time to build a big cistern on the south east corner of the property, that was high enough to give water pressure to the furnish the home with running water.  This was accomplished after all the rooms had been added over the years, and a big kitchen and bath room were built.

It seems I have digressed to father more than mother’s life, which one can easily imagine was a busy one with a husband who was besides a builder and Bishop, also was a County sheriff for two terms.  That left Alice to be the one alone a great deal to run the house and discipline the family for many years.  She also made all their clothes.

Alice had been raised on a farm and among other accomplishments learned to ride side saddle.  I did not see her do this except in a 24th of July Parade once or twice, but her beautiful carved side saddle hung in the barn for me to admire.

Her first attention, aside from taking care of her family needs, cooking, sewing, and all that went with it, was raising flowers.  The front sides of the house were soon covered with climbing roses and other flowers were grown around the outside of the house.  She found it relaxing to be away from worries and cars and to stop occasionally and enjoy looking at the mountains east of the farm, which were not many miles away.

The girls did what was called “helped mother” and the boys worked outside where the food was grown and harvested.  As soon as the boys were old enough they were taught to milk a cow as mother did not consider it one of her jobs.

The older members of the family managed by horse power and walking, to obtain their education in Logan.   The UAC, now USU, accommodated high school students, and the younger ones went to the little school in North Logan, which was only through eighth grades.

Each son had his own job and Newell jokingly said, “I am central on the hog line”, where he raised prize Berkshire pigs.  Burns the athlete, took care of the horses, Spencer and Laurn the cows and sheep, Oscar, the oldest became involved in building roads, etc. at a young age and was away from home considerably.  Speaking of Oscar, he never married, and Alice (Allie) interrupted her schooling and married handsome Henry Rust (Hite).  Jean found and married John T. Caine III while teaching in College.  Lucille also met and later married Dean Peterson, from Scipio.  Newell found pretty little Ethel Smith in Logan.  Burns met and married lovely Glenna Ballantyne, a Logan girl who was a good actress and beautiful dancer.  Spencer met and married pretty Josephine Reeder from Canada, who was visiting her sister in North Logan.  Laurn married a striking blond named Elanch Pond from Lewiston, North Cache.  Not to leave out Edna who after college met Ira Terry of Ogden while they were teaching in Idaho.  They kept in touch and after three years were married and went to Schenectady, New York, where he was employed by General Electric Company.

While I was growing up, mother used to take me with her visiting teaching and to primary where she was a counselor.  She always had the use of a horse and buggy when she wished to travel.  As I was alone much of the time, I was permitted to play at the neighbors, some of them more than a mile away.  Once I did not come home and it was starting to get dark.  The Becks where I was, had on phone, so mother told my brother Burns to fetch me.  He jumped on “Old Fly” as we called her, who had been a race horse and when headed from home he was hard to control.  I had never been on a horse before, and, bareback, I hung on to Burns for dear life.  We raced down hill toward the farm and without staying on the road, Old Fly cleared some wire fences, ran through what we called ‘the holler’, and into the barnyard.

There we faced a high wooden gate, but that didn’t stop Old Fly.  Over we went and needless to say we both fell in a soft barnyard unhurt.  Besides teaching me to come home on time, I was so scared that I didn’t go near a horse for a long time.  And not until years later in College did I learn to saddle and ride a descendant of Old Fly, Jimmy, who was quite tame and gentle.

All these years and with grandchildren, Alice remained tall and slender, with a straight back.  Her curly hair was still a pretty brown color with only a touch of grey at the temples.  We never saw her without her hair carefully combed.  She usually wore a lovely blue color to match her eyes, dresses with long sleeves, high neck and ankle length.  She always wore an apron while doing her work. Her voice remained soft and quiet and we were not allowed to gossip or quarrel, and tried to please her.  When the boys started to get rough she would say, ‘outside you go where there is plenty of room’.  Both parents were neat and orderly.

Although Alice had never learned to sing she loved to cuddle a baby on her should and hum softly.  She used to say, “There is a little groove there that just fits a baby’s head.”  Fortunately Nicholas had a good natural baritone voice and as a small child he sang to me old favorites like Darling Nellie Grey, Old Uncle Ned, and a Scotch Song, Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon, I still remember.

I learned to love music and as I grew older I sang in choirs and choruses.  Father’s favorite song was, Oh Don’t You Remember Sweet Alice Ben Bolt.

When Alice was sixty five years old she suffered a paralytic stroke and only lived a few weeks.  We could not mourn her because we knew that she had had her wish which was when she was not able to take care of herself any more the good Lord would take her away.

It was lonely in the old farm house without her but the beautiful painting still hung on the wall to remind us of her kind loving presence there.