This is the talk given by Ethel Anderson in the 1980s
When the fine Ogden, Utah department store called The Golden Rule was sold to J C Penney, my husband Ferrell was transferred to a J C Penney store in Evanston Wyoming. We lived there for about five years. Ferrell was being trained for managership and our life style seemed pretty well set.
Then the big depression began to haunt us. Salaries were cut, employees were laid off. Our fifth child was on the way and I began to long for my family in Ogden. For fear Ferrell might be the next to be laid off, we moved back to Ogden and Ferrell worked for my brother-in-law in a grocery and meat store.
In the meantime, Ferrell’s brother Lorin had been transferred to a Penney’s Store in Billings, Montana and then had the opportunity of going to Miles City to manage a store for Karl Johnson. Lorin became a partner and they decided to open a Karl Johnson Store in Glendive where a family-owned store was going out of business. Ferrell was urged to come to manage this store and use the experience he was trained for. The store had belonged to the Hollecker family.
Ferrell left for Glendive in February 1934. Our five children and I came in May. Dick was 10 years old (the oldest) and Janet (the youngest) was 15 months old. In between were David, Jeanne, and Marilyn. Carole was born a few years later.
We felt blessed to be given this opportunity but when I and the five children arrived on the train, it seemed to be the end of nowhere.
There were no Mormons! A woman who worked at the store advised us not to mention we were Mormons. But we never hid that fact and began to make friends and take part in the community life. We chose to go to the Congregational Church because of friends next door who had children the same ages as ours. We made many fine friends.
From some of Ferrell’s records, he says 1934 still was a depression year and Glendive was suffering from a drought. Government was purchasing a majority of Dawson County cattle for about $5 to $20 a head. Nearly all labor except a skeleton railroad force was WPA (Government). Business was at a low ebb.
Dick was 15 years old before we acquired a car but we lived nearer town then, and did a lot of walking.
In the summer of 1937 two missionaries arrived much to our joy. We had two children (David and Jeanne) ready for baptism. David had just turned 10 and Jeanne was 8. They were baptized by Elder Ray Smith and confirmed by Elder Clarence Stanger. The baptism took place in the Yellowstone River.
Our lives began to change at the start of the Buffalo Rapids Irrigation Project in 1937. Work was done mostly by WPA labor in conjunction with the Reclamation Bureau. Business began to pick up. Best of all it brought in our first Mormons.
One summer day in 1937 the Elders arrived at our home with great news. They had just passed a home not too far away with a Utah car parked in front and people were moving in. We were all so happy. I called on the new family a day or so later. I prayed it would be a family, an active family, and someone we could be very friendly with. When a young woman with a smile came to the door I felt disappointed, I don’t know why. She said, “Oh, I’m just helping them get settled. I’ll call Mrs. Neely.” Jo (Josephine) Neely came to the door. We were around the same age and we were friends at that very moment and are still friends today. They live in Spanish Fork. Her husband Parley passed away May 24, 1986. Parley was an engineer working for the Buffalo Rapids Project.
We began having church meetings in our homes. We even included Primary and sometimes invited the neighbor children. Our first missionaries to reside in Glendive were Elder Tingey and Elder Smith. The missionaries presided over the meetings for some time. It was a wonderful experience for them and I marveled that such young men could speak so well. It was our first experience with missionaries.
Those missionaries made a fine impression on the Glendive people. Many would comment to me what fine young men they were. One family especially was impressed enough to open their home for meetings and parties. That family, the Hoffs, eventually moved to Salt Lake City where they all joined the Church. Several other LDS families arrived but when the Project was finished, one by one they were transferred to Williston, N. D. or other places.
So it went on for some time. Ferrell was made a Presiding Elder which lessened the work of the missionaries but they still played a big part in teaching and giving us fine spiritual talks which we needed.
If you did not live around this area before the Buffalo Rapids Irrigation Project, you would not know the improvement and change for the good it did for the farmers and ranchers and in many ways for all of us.
The World War II made some changes, too. Some Elders who were working in Germany came to Glendive to finish their missions and showed us beautiful pictures of Germany. It was sad to hear what was taking place. They were the last Elders we would have for some time.
Dick graduated in 1942 and instead of getting ready for a mission, he went to Butte School of Mines and was selected to go on for training as an Ensign in the Navy. The World War II was raging and missionaries were not being called. At that time our membership in the Branch was low. After the war, Dick went to BYU and met Mary Templeton and they were married in the Salt Lake Temple. Mary has been a true daughter me and a great support to her husband and family. David, because of serious burns on his legs received in an accident while working in a forest in northern Idaho, was not accepted in any part of the war services although he tried. He was told the scar tissue would cause him serious trouble so he did not get into the war nor go on a mission.
We began meeting in the Odd Fellows Hall for Church and by this time the Derby Whitmers and Audry Wilkinsen and her two little boys Karl and Fen had come back to Glendive to live. We had some lady missionaries by then and had an active Relief Society. Audrey was a big help with her talents and willingness to serve. l remember we served a turkey dinner at the Odd Fellows Hall and sold tickets to just enough people we could accommodate. It was a big success under the supervision of Audrey. Later, she married Chris Christianson and they both were very supportive. We were sorry when they moved to Livingston but were happy when Fen moved back as a young man with his wife Margie.
Through the years many fine active families moved in. Some stayed longer than others but sooner or later they would be transferred. We hated to see anyone leave but each left their mark and used their talents and energy to keep the Branch going while they were here.
We very seldom had a piano player to accompany us in our singing but we sang anyway. Also, families were building the branches in Billings, Miles City, Baker and in North Dakota. The Mission President’s home was in Minneapolis and we were in the North Dakota District. We attended conferences as far away as Minot and Bismark and Billings. A morning and afternoon meeting would be held with lunch served between meetings. It was prepared by the members of wherever conference was held. Most always there was one of the General Authorities who traveled with the Mission President and we were thrilled by their presence and the spiritual food they offered us.
In Glendive not all who came left, but some stayed and are still here and were for many years the backbone of the branch. Harold and Olive Mercer lived here for a short time and then went to live in Sidney. For many years Sister Haas, Olive’s mother, was the main stay of that Branch. Kim and Beatrice Mitchell, Joe Keller, and Debbie Chouinard’s grandparents played a big part in our activities. The Orcutts with their fine growing family were a great help. We just couldn’t have gone on without them. When the Getz came we always had music and Edythe Brown and son took over the piano. By this time we had acquired the old Lutheran Church and we had fun hanging curtains, furnishing the kitchen with dishes we brought from our own homes along with other donated articles. We held bake sales to earn money for the things we needed to buy. We had many suppers and get togethers.
In 1950 at a conference in Glendive, Ferrell was asked to become Branch President. He served until 1960. During that time the Gene Jensen’s were baptized in the Church, Santa Hrubes, (Derby Whitmer’s sister) joined the Church and later John became a member. Elaine Whitmer was Relief Society President and Audrey Christiansen and I were her counselors. We all taught either Sunday School or Primary or both.
All those youngsters we taught so many years ago are now teaching my grandchildren and have other responsible Church duties in the Branch.
Best of all, the big dream finally came true and we have a beautiful chapel to meet in.
Ferrell and I moved to Idaho Falls to let Dick take over the managing of the store and Howard Henabrey became a fine Branch President.
I feel very blessed to have had these experiences and the different callings in the Church.