HINTON, James Maurice: Life Story

jamesmau&cleesa

I was born in Virgin, Washington Co., Utah, on October 24, 1890 to John Maurice Hinton and Nancy Alice Nutter Stanworth. I was the youngest boy in a family of four boys. John Samuel was my eldest brother. George Luther came next and William Nutter was third. Father died when I was three months old of peritonitis which resulted from a ruptured appendix.

On 3 July 1894 mother remarried to Joel Sixtus Eagar. We remained in Virgin for the next six years. Two of the summers we spent out to Gould’s Ranch where we raised watermelons, corn, and all kinds of garden vegetables. I remember what a problem the coyotes were to us. They certainly were destructive to a watermelon patch. They wouldn’t break the melons open but would eat a little hole in the middle, just big enough to get their head in and then they would eat the insides. Naturally they wasted an awfully lot. We got rid of them as best we could with strychnine.

In 1897 we left Virgin for Arizona with two, four horse outfits. Mother drove and Joel Eagar drove the other. We went by way of Pipe Springs, Fredonia and out over the Kiabab Mountain to Lee’s Ferry. We crossed the Colorado by putting both outfits on a flat boat. Mother drove her four horse outfit up over the hogs back which was an almost impossible feat. The next day after crossing the River we traveled about 6 miles where we camped at Navajo Springs. Here we bought a melon from an Indian which we took with us to eat later on the trip. I remember how we looked forward to eating that melon and how disappointed we were when we cut it and found it green as a gourd. From the Springs we continued on across the Little Colorado River, on to Holbrook, then twelve miles further on to Woodruff. We stayed in Woodruff ten days to rest the horses.

At the end of the ten days we traveled another 90 miles to Springerville. We rented a farm in a place called Water Canyon and stayed there 2 years. It was here Will and I started school. A person at that time had to be 8 years of age before they could go to school. At Water Canyon we raised lots of barley, oats, and wheat and harvested good crops. One year it rained so much that although we harvested the grain we couldn’t thresh it. In fact it rained so much the grain even started growing in the shocks. We lived on the edge of lots of timber and Joel Eagar killed wild turkeys and deer for us to eat. One Thanksgiving he killed 20 wild turkeys and deer for people. Some of them weighed 20 lbs. They were big gobblers. It was here that I was baptized in the head of the Little Colorado River (1898) and became a member of the Church.

When we left to go to Mexico, we had two four horse outfits and 30 head of cattle. We trailed the cattle all the way to Mexico, and it took us two months to make the trip. At the Mexican Border we bought a ton of flour for we had heard there was no flour mill down there. When we reached Morelos we found people grinding wheat by hand. Many of them longed for some white flour so we traded part of our white flour for the graham flour they were grinding. In Mexico we got a farm at Morelos. We cleared the mesquite off the land and raised good crops – grain, hay and molasses. We had a nice orchard of peach and apple trees and a small vineyard as well.

While we lived here a bad flood came that covered the whole town and washed away all the houses down by the river. It washed our orchard away also. We moved out of the house while water was clear up to the wagon box. This same flood washed away another town and grist mill above us. After the flood we found fifty and a hundred pounds of flour in piles all over. The sacks were only wet an inch or so inside and a lot of the flour was still useable. We also watched straw stacks float by with cattle still on the straw. It was the Vivispie River that flooded.

We had two ranches on the Cavellero Creek. We called them the Upper Ranch and the Lower Ranch. For a couple of years we rented cows from the Govalandos (Spaniards) and at times we milked as high as 50 cows night and morning. While at the Ranch we lived on wild game. There were deer, wild hogs, quail and fish in abundance. We raised all kinds of melons, corn and sweet potatoes on these two ranches as well as operating the dairies. Some of the sweet potatoes were enormous, weighing as much as 15 lbs each. It was while we lived here that Morelos, Hazel, and Roxie were born and Sammy and Roxie died. Sammy died in Morelos of Pneumonia and Roxie died on the Lower Ranch.

Before leaving Virgin two sisters were added to the family when Nancy Lillian and Anna were born. During our stay in Springerville Thomas and Elizabeth were born.

We lived in Morelos during the winter and moved to the ranch in the summer. Then I was about 10 years old I had to go to the ranch alone and run it. I had to stay there about two or three weeks at a time and never saw anyone but an occasional Mexican who came through there. It was a mighty lonesome job. I was suppose to watch the crops and see that they were watered. I had a dog to keep me company and a bear trap that I kept set. One day while I was there alone, six Mexicans came up riding for cattle. By rights I should have been afraid of them, but it seemed wonderful to have someone to talk to. I asked them to set my trap for me if they could. Some of the Mexicans weighed 250 lbs so they were big men and all of them tried to set the trap but they couldn’t. In spite of my years and small size I took the trap and set it, much to the amazement of the Mexicans.

The Vivispie River had many fish in it. We used to take sticks of dynamite and throw in the river and that way we got all the fish we needed. Some of the catfish in the river weighed 161 lbs. We did a lot of our fishing with a wire net called a sane.

I graduated from school in the Eighth Grade at Morelos. Newel K. Young was my teacher. My best teacher was one who taught me when I started school in Arizona. He wasn’t a Mormon, and he was very strict, but everyone loved him. When he left the school everyone missed him. His name was Mr. Shell.

While we lived in Mexico we used to ride to the railroad in Douglas, Arizona. In 1911 I went out and bought a suit, hat, and shoes – a whole outfit for only $11. To buy the same thing now would cost from $50 to $75. At the same time flour was selling for $1 a hundred pounds. In 1907 cows sold for $10 a head in Mexican money and a calf as big as a cow went along with it. Mexican money at that time was only worth 50 cents on the dollar. Now $1 in American money is worth $8 in Mexican money.

I left Mexico in 1911 for Utah. Five families went together. They planned to move to Grayson, Utah, which is now known as Blanding. Brother Young had two families and he wanted me to drive the outfit for one of the families. Since a man couldn’t take two wives across the border the second wife had to be considered a widow. I was to pose as her son and she as my widowed mother. Brother Young agreed to give me $1 a day and board as well. He never did pay me the money but did give me my board. When we reached the White Mountains in Arizona there was still ice on the White River even though it was May. It had been about three weeks since we had left Mexico and no one had a bath in all that time so we decided to brave the ice in the river and go swimming. It was mighty cold but the bath felt good.

Between St. Johns and Gallup, New Mexico there is a junction. One road goes to Shiprock; one goes to Fruitland. some of the families wanted to go to Shiprock while Brother Young whom I was with wanted to go to Fruitland. Brother Young let me take a saddle horse on which we put a quilt and I accompanied the Steiners and Ed. Young part way to Shiprock. I was to then branch back and join my own group. I got to talking and enjoying myself and went further then I was suppose to go. Finally I decided it was time to head toward Fruitland so I left the others. I had to go through desert country where there was little or no water. I traveled until the horse gave out and could go no further then I put the blanket and bridle under a bush thinking I would come back for them and headed for a green knoll I could see in the distance. I was awfully thirsty. I saw an Indian and asked for water but he didn’t have any. Finally I reached the grassy knoll only to find a sulfur springs there. I was so thirsty that I drank the water anyway. I would drink then vomit; drink then vomit; until I could get strength to go back to a Lake that we had passed earlier in the day. At the lake I had a good drink then went on to a nearby Trading Post. From there the Youngs were notified as to my whereabouts. There were people at the Post who were planning to go to Fruitland in several days and they promised to take me with them. While at the Post I had a lot of fun with some boys that were there. There were a lot of wild burros in that area and we would go out in the sand and ride them. In the deep sand they couldn’t buck.

We stayed in Fruitland for several days. While there, we went up to the place where the corners of four states come together. There I could put my feet and hands in each state. Those four states were Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. It is the only place in the United States where four states come together.

From Fruitland we went on to Blanding where I worked for a Bishop Bayless for one month. During that month I got $2.50 a day and board and room. I earned $75 in all. Bishop Bayless said if I wanted to stay there I could have a job as long as I wanted. That $75 bought me a ticket on the stage. We went to Monticello and the next day to Moab. The following morning the stage was put on a flat boat and taken across the Grand River. From there we went to Thompson Springs, Utah. It was here I met two other fellows with whom I had lunch and purchased a train ticket for Salt Lake. One of the fellows bought a bottle of green olives which I thought were nasty at the time, however, I have since learned to like them. After eating we boarded the train and arrived in Salt Lake early in the morning. I stayed there three days and visited with my sister Lillian who was in the LDS Hospital. Next I took the train to Oasis. When we arrived there I asked the conductor if he knew where the Stanworths lived. I was hunting for Uncle Amby and Aunt Ann Stanworth. The conductor pointed to a small house. Although it was about 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning I went to the house. I stayed around outside as everyone was asleep. After waiting for quite a while and still no one was up I opened the door and hollered. I hadn’t seen them since we left for Mexico about 18 to 20 years before. After a day or two in Oasis their oldest boy, Alfred, and I decided to come to Hurricane. We bought a bale of wild grass hay, put it in a wagon and started for Hurricane. We fed the horses on that bale of hay and still had some left when we reached LaVerkin Creek. There the team gave out and we walked on in to Hurricane. It took us four days to make the trip.

My brother George was working for Uncle Emanel Stanworth building a house. He hired Alfred and Uncle Jim Stanworth hired me. Our wages were $40 a month and board. I worked for Uncle Jim for two years. Later I worked on the ditch and canal where we were paid $2.50 a day and we had to take our dinner with us. I helped build the county road down by Berry Springs at $2.50 a day. While I was working on the road Wilts (a nickname for Wilson) Imlay came down and asked me to herd sheep. The other men he had hired couldn’t seem to do the job, but I stayed three months without a layoff. I had a big dog named Mark to help me and if the sheep started to leave camp I would set the dog on them. In about two weeks the sheep were so scared they didn’t dare leave camp. The sheep were moved to Kolob Mountain. Mr. Imlay had a herd of Ewes and lambs. These are the ones I herded. When the inspector of all the herds on the mountain came around he said I had the fattest herd on the mountain. I felt that was quite a compliment. I herded those sheep through what they call the Bear Hole. I’d start them through the East side and it would take them ten days to go through. I herded sheep four years for Wilts Imlay on Kolob in the summer and on the Arizona Strip in winter. The wages were $40 a month and board. I’ve got more to show for those four years than any other time in my life. I built a home in Hurricane on a city block I bought for $250 from I. H. Bradshaw. I contracted the home to William Terrel, Frank Ashton, and George Worthen at the cost for the home of about $3,000.00.

Hurricane. They brought Cleesa Cox with them to work for them. I got acquainted with her and courted her for a few months. She went back to Orderville in November and I went out to see her on horseback. I left Hurricane, went to Cainbeds, stayed over night then went on to Orderville. I stayed there and visited three days then came back on horseback. When I reached Cainbeds I found all the young people leaving for Short Creek to attend a social on horseback. Although I had been riding my horse all day, my horse could still out run theirs. We had a good time that night. I stayed with Brother and Sister Colvin, the poorest people I’ve ever seen and the happiest. The following day I returned to Hurricane.

At Christmas time I went back to Orderville in Jim Stanworth’s white top buggy. Joe Hinton went with me. We stayed at Cainbeds the first night. It was 40 below zero. The next day we went to Orderville where we picked up Cleesa and her Sister Mame and returned to Hurricane for Christmas. The January thaw came a little early and we found ourselves in mud 6 to 8 inches deep all the way from Cainbeds to Hurricane. A few days later on Dec. 30, we went to St. George and were married in the St. George Temple on Dec. 31, 1915. There was 14 inches of snow on the level in St. George. We stayed in St. George two nights then returned to Orderville with Mame. I left Cleesa there with her folks while I went to the sheep herd. Ben Wilson asked me to take his place out in Tueppe Valley for two weeks, but he didn’t come back for three months.

When Ben Wilson relieved me on the job I went to Orderville for my wife and brought her to Hurricane, where I started running Wilts Imley’s farm with my brother Will. We were partners. We put in an acre of melons and when they got ripe we advertised that any one could come and pick any melon they wanted for a dime. When they got kind of small we let them have the melons for a nickel. All of us lived out on the farm – Will and his wife, Mame Workman and Cleesa and I and our first child Amos Lavar. Lavar was born in Uncle Jim’s lean-to or granary before we moved out to the farm.

Joe Haslam of Cedar had a farm he wanted me to operate while he worked for the Cedar Mercantile on the mountain so we took Lavar and moved onto the Haslam farm at Cedar. I received $70 a month and Mr. Haslam also furnished us a cow, a pig and a place to live. I worked all summer about 14 to 16 hours a day That summer we put up 360 tons of hay. Joe would work on the mountain all week and then come to the farm and expect to work with me on Sunday too. I simply told him that I had worked for many men and none of them had ever asked me to work on Sunday. Joe said, “Well, you aren’t going to work on Sunday for me then;” so I went to church while Joe worked.

Shortly after we moved back to the farm in Hurricane Vonne was born. While she was only a few months old our new home in town was completed and we moved there.

I quit the farm and went out in Nevada to hunt work in Snake Valley. Five men went with me in a ton Ford Truck I had bought. We worked in Snake Valley a month putting up wild hay for a rancher. Then I went into Oasis and got a job with Mr. Brown building a drain to drain the land. Mr. Brown also bought my truck then he had me drive the workers in the truck out to work and back. That was all I was required to do unless the car broke down then it was my job to have it repaired. Mr. Brown paid me $4.50 a day and board. When the work was completed I had earned somewhere around $1200. I then sent for my wife and family and we visited in Oasis with friends and relatives.

I was ordained a deacon, teacher and priest in Morelos, Old Mexico. I was ordained an Elder in the temple. I wanted a recommend to go to the temple but Bishop Samuel Isom said I could not go until I had paid some tithing. I started paying tithing and was then given my temple recommend. When I went to the temple the Bishop ordained me. I have paid a full tithing ever since that time.

I served in the North Ward Sunday School Supt. for 14 years. I was in the Stake MIA for 2 years when Glen Williams was Pres. I was second counselor to Dardy Gibson in the ward MIA for 2 years also. Stanley Bradshaw was 1st Counselor. Six years I was a member of the High Council and I have been an acting ward teacher for 50 years. I have supported the Church Welfare program since it began. My wife and I are now working as ordinance workers in the St. George Temple and have been there for the last four years.

I served as city councilman in Hurricane during 1942 and 1945. While I was on the town board we built the City Office Building and the water tank up on the hill as well as improvements on the streets.

In 1917 I started making trips to the Indian Reservation. I would haul deer hides out to the Reservation and sell them to the traders there. I have taken hundreds of deer hides out there and bought thousands of pelts and cow hides which I brought back to Cedar City where I sold them to Sam Holland. To date I have made 100 trips across Lees Ferry. About 40 trips were made before the Navajo Bridge was built. I have bought 40, or 50 permits from the government to trade with the Indians. One trip I made to the Reservations with Grant Woodbury with a load of deer hides and we came to the Pinion Trading Post at Thanksgiving time. The Trading Post was owned by Lorenzo Hubble. We asked him if we could stay with him that night and he said we could. They were having a big Thanksgiving dinner there at the post for all of his employees. Mr. Hubble took us right in and set us down to the table with all the rest of the people. After the festivities he took us in the store where he got some new quilts and blankets off the shelves and made us a bed. He then wanted to know what time we planned to leave in the morning. We told him 7:00 and he said he would get up and have our breakfast ready. He called us at 7:00 and when we got ready to leave I asked him what we owed him and he wouldn’t take a penny. He said, “My place is open to travelers any time and I never charge them anything for staying with me. He was one of my best friends and competitors on the Reservation where I have worked for 40 years. I have peddled fruit for 40 years. Through the years I have bought and sold 50 tons of pine nuts. Better than 40 ton alone were sold to Safeway Store in Salt Lake City.

I have attended snake dances and rain dances on the Navajo Reservation, and hope to attend many more.

About 3 years ago we sold our home in Hurricane and built us a bedroom home in St. George so that we could be closer to the temple.

My wife and I were blessed with a lovely family – seven boys and three girls. Five have passed away and five are still living. Amos Lavar, Vonne (known to many as Sally), Glendon M, Antone W., and Orvan Dean are the members of our family that are still alive.

Lavar, who is oldest, (born 3 May 1917) is now acting postmaster in Hurricane and is at present a Counselor in the Zion Park Stake Presidency.

Glendon, son number 2 and child number 3 (born 16 Feb. 1921 drives the egg truck for Mr. Graff and does what he can in the church when he is in Hurricane.

Vonne is making her home in Douglas Arizona and goes by the name of Mrs. George Dunagan, Jr.,

Antone, Toni, lives in Henderson, Nevada, where he works for OK Rubber Welders and also serves as counselor to the bishop.

Orvan is making the Army his main job in life and is stationed at present at the Craig Air Force Base in Selma, Alabama. All his hours off base are filled to the brim with work for the Church. He holds a goodly number of positions of importance in the Church in that area.

Vonne was born 30 Mr. 1919; Toni, 30 Sep. 1926; and Orvan 19 Feb. 1929. All were born at Hurricane.

John M. born 23 Jan. 1923 and Merwin C. born 8 Nov. 1934 both died soon after birth. Elva and Melva our little girl twins were born 10 Jan. 1924 died within as week of each other of summer complaint. Robert Dale was born 28 Feb. 1932 and was killed in an automobile accident on 4 Dec. 1953.

My wife Cleesa just passed away March 14, 1959 of heart trouble.

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  1. Great history. I know all of those people mentioned in the story. Lavor, is David Hinton’s father and was in the stake presidency during much of my growing up years. After James Maurice’s wife died he married my wife, Carolyn Spendlove Hinton’s, aunt. They used to visit my in-laws regularly.