Biographical information about Alma Asahel Scovill
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Alma Asahel Scovill

Biography

Alma Asahel Scovill was born 9, April, 1886 in Orangeville, Emery, Utah, the son of Amasa Scovill and Clarissa Ellen Guymon, the eighth of nine children. His father died when he was only ten years old. After the older children left home, (Ethel, the youngest child was drowned in an irrigation ditch when very small) Asahel or Asa, as he was known, lived alone with his mother until he was married at nineteen to Artemissia (Missa) Burrnett, who was seventeen at the time. They traveled to Manti, where they were married, by team and wagon, a journey that took two days. Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Ware went along as chaperones. (Clara Ware was Asaís sister.)

His mother was unable to take care of the home and property, so instead of starting a new home, they moved into the family home with her. Seven children were born into the home before Grandmotherís death. The eighth, Claude E. was born only months after her death so was given a name which gave him his Grandmotherís initials.

Misha Scovill confided in one of her daughters that she had never known a kinder, sweeter, more thoughtful person than her mother-in-law, but that she had never felt that it was her home until after Grandmotherís death.

Asa was a man of many trades and skills, but he seemed most happy when he was building something. He was an expert carpenter but there was not always that kind of work to be done, so he did what needed doing. He was also a very good mechanic when he needed to be, he repaired clocks, he did butchering for others as well as all that was done at this home. It seemed he could do anything he put his mind to doing.

It is doubtful there was a death in Orangeville when he was around, but that he built the casket, many times without pay, when he felt they couldnít afford it. He heated the boards with hot water and bent them to the shape needed to make an attractive casket. The last coffin he made was one he was very sad making. When his youngest son, Van Earl passed away at the age of thirteen. It had been some time since he had been asked to do this. There was now morticians around and people bought ready made coffins. When Van died, he felt that he wanted him laid to rest in a coffin he had built, so he got out his tools, went hunting the right kind of boards and sawed and planned and worked with it until he had it built to suit him. It had been some time since the Relief Society had had a sewing committee to pad and cover the coffin but enough sisters were found who knew how to do it and a beautiful coffin was ready for Van to be buried in.

Every spring, during a period in the Ď20ís, he went with a crew of men to the Jewkes-Van Buren Sawmill in the mountains west of Orangeville. Some worked in the timber, felling the logs, others hauling them to the mill where they were sawed into boards for sale. Asahel was the Ďoff bearerí. he was a very husky broad-shouldered man and his job was to take the sawed boards off the carriage that went back and forth past the saw, and he packed the lumber, several boards at a time, to a pile nearby, or if they had a wagon there ready, he loaded them on the wagon. As soon as school was out in the spring, he took a team and wagon and moved the family to a cabin he had built at the mill. He had a car at this time, but the mountain roads were awful and very few people tried to travel them in a car. The family stared there all summer until time for school to start in the fall.

He worked for many years on a bridge building crew for the railroad. They lived in railroad cars that were hooked on to trains and moved from job to job. It meant he was gone from home much of the time which made it hard for his wife to handle the family at home. He was always welcomed by a happy group when he made it home.

Almost every spring found him away, shearing sheep. He learned on hand operated clippers. Later they were made to hook up to a motor which made for easier and better as well as faster shearing. He was known to be very fast at this as well as one who seldom got an the sheep he was shearing.

When his sons were old enough to need work, and none was available around Orangeville, he bought a farm on Rock Canyon Flat. He suffered a great deal from hay fever, so he was only able to supervise and help plan what went on on the farm but it gave some young men not only a way to earn their own spending money, but taught them the value of work, to be workers who learned to give a good days work for a days pay. During this time when the family was operating the farm, some bad misfortune hit the family. During a very short period of time several animals, cows, horses, calves etc. died for one reason or another. One day a neighbor was sympathizing with him on the losses and he said, "Yes, it was rough, but as long as death stayed in the corral and didnít come into the house, he would not complain."

Asahel Scovill was a happy, kind, good natured man. He had a hearty laugh and enjoyed pranks whether they were played on him or by him. He allowed no foolish pranks where someone might get hurt. He was a handsome man, nearly six feet tall, broad shouldered, dark hair that usually had a slight curl to it, dark eyes that almost always had a twinkle in them.

He loved to dance. Misha did also, but even after she had an attack of what was then known as milk leg and had to cut down on such things, they still liked to go to dances. he danced with her as often as she felt able to do so. Then he danced with the other ladies in the ward, even his daughters when they were old enough to go, sometimes he danced with his sisters or widows who usually had to sit on the sidelines and watch. One night at one of these dances, he was dancing a fast one with Kate Childs, a widow. She was as fun loving as anyone and they were talking and laughing as they danced. Something really funny was said and she laughed so had that her false teeth came out and scooted across the floor. Asahel didnít hesitate a minute but took after the teeth. He brought them back to her. she wiped them off, put them back in her mouth and they continued the dance.

As father of six sons, he learned to cut hair, in fact he also cut the daughters hair for many years. he also pulled teeth when someone had a bad toothache, not only for the family, but others also. It was many years before a dentist come to the county. If a tooth was really a problem, Dr. Nixon, the family doctor pulled quite a few teeth until a dentist came to take care of such things.

Asa seldom had any problem with doctor bills. dr. Nixon always had some building remodeling or new building to be done and Asa Scovill was the only one he wanted to do the work. it seemed that one was always in debt to the other, but not for long. With a big family, there was a constant need for a good doctor.

During the early years of World War II, the government relocated all of the Japanese people living on the west coast. These people lost their homes, farms, businesses and were brought to relocation camps, one of these was know as Topas, near Delta on the western desert of Utah. Pre-fabricated houses were put up by the government to house these people. Asa got a job building these houses. One day, as they were putting up an outside wall to one of the houses, a sudden wind cane up and blew the section of the house over on top of him. He was rushed to a hospital where he was given emergency treatment and then returned home to recuperate. He continued to suffer, so he was taken to the Price Hospital where he stayed for several months during which time the doctors said they could find nothing wrong with him. In February, the family had him removed and taken to the L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City. They were able to help him get better in all but one area. They found a cancer, but said he was so under-nourished that they didnít dare operate immediately. He went home where he continued to improve. But the cancer grew so fast it became inoperable. He passed away on 14, September, 1943, about a year after the injury. He was only fifty six years of age.


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