WALKER FAMILY HISTORY
REED ELLISON INTERVIEW
I was born in December, 1909. Eva and I came to Canada to settle in August of 1933. Those were about the worst years of the depression.
We first met your Grandma and Grandpa Walker in the fall of 1933. Then we were assigned to go to Vancouver. Our company, Ellison Milling company, had an operation in Vancouver, and I was assigned to go there. We had several bakeries in Vancouver that had been given credit and they weren't paying their bills. Things were bad, so I was sent to Vancouver to see what I could do to salvage some of the debt.
One of the bakeries was run by a Jewish family. They had 16 delivery rigs. During the 1934 to 1936 time they would actually sell a sixteen ounce loaf of bread, delivered to the house for 5 cents. They weren't making enough to pay Ellison Milling. We eventually sold the London Bakery to Safeway Stores. That was the first bakery that Safeway had in Canada. We stayed there and Eva worked at the warehouse and I worked at the bakery, until our first son Howard came along. We got part of our money back. We came back here in the summer of 1940. That's when we became better acquainted with the Walker and the Russells.
However, we knew the Russells when we first came here in 1933. They opened their hearts and their arms to us when we first came here. We knew Francis and Hilda right from the start when we came. And of course, we knew Bro. and Sister William R. Russell.
I took three years of business and two years of law at the University of Utah, but I didn't get my degree. If I had graduated, maybe I would have been a poor lawyer in Salt Lake City or Layton, Utah.
Eva worked for the Ballard Nash automobile company as a stenographer. She took a business course at Davis High School in Kaysville. That's where we met, during our sophomore year. She felt very bad because her family was very poor. Her father was a carpenter, and was out of work most of the time during those years. She was helping to put food on the family table. She was getting about $70 per month. That was in 1932.
We were married in 1932 in the Salt Lake Temple, at 9 p.m.
My father had a job and business. He had the Farmer's Union, which was a general mercantile store, which my grandfather had started. My grandfather had also started the Raymond Milling and Elevator Company, Limited; in 1902. He got a few people to invest in it. The Raymond Milling Company was managed by George W. Green. He had been an employee of my grandfather at the Layton Milling Company, a flour mill there. He was a salesman for the company, and my grandfather thought well of him so he asked him to come to Canada, to manage the milling interest here. My grandfather never lived in Canada, although he came here frequently.
It is recorded in my father's journal that he came here 7 times that first year. He was a Vice President of Knight Sugar Company. He let the contracts for the construction of the first sugar mill there. he had a lot of work to do to prepare the farm people in Raymond and Magrath to start to grow beets, because there had not been any beet production there prior to the time that the Knight sugar company came.
The Knight Sugar Company was actually the brain child of the President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith, who was President of the church in 1902.
I feel this is authentic, because my father told me this. My father investing in Canada was a result of my grandfather having an interview with Jesse Knight and the President of the church, in his office in Salt Lake City, at the church office building. Jesse Knight had come at the invitation of Mayor Charles A. Magrath, who was a prominent citizen of Lethbridge at the time. He invited, of course, the workers to come here for the building of the canal system into Magrath and Raymond, and Stirling. He knew that the Mormon people had experience at canal building.
C.A. Magrath had invited the President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith, to send some of the people of Cache Valley, and Salt Lake and Utah Valley to come to Canada to help build this canal. I think Jesse Knight came in 1901, at Magrath's invitation to look over the land and hopefully to interest him in purchasing some acres here. Magrath was astonished when Jesse Knight said he would take 230,000 acres at $2 per acre. He said I didn't expect you to take that much land.
In 1902, Jesse Knight was with President Smith. he said: I want you to go to Canada and start the sugar industry. Jesse Knight said: You'll have my money and my blessing, but I haven't time to go to Canada to start a sugar industry. Do you know of anyone who could substitute for me who is a good manager and could handle this job of starting an industry?
President Smith said: 'Yes, Ephraim Peter Ellison, of Layton.' If he's got time and will do it, he's a good man to handle it. So Grandfather Ellison and Jesse Knight met at the president's office and the arrangements were made that he would come here and build a sugar family. That is our understanding of it, although it is different than others who have written some of the history.
Eventually, the directors of the company and my grandfather (who was the V.P. through all those years).. The company did OK for a while, but eventually the farmers thought they could grow wheat or barley and do better than beets. It was mainly hand labor in those years and there had been a few years where the beets were frozen in the ground.
The Knight Sugar Company had made and agreement with the railroad company, which later became CPR, to stay for 12 years. They would not let the sugar company out of that contract. Its recorded in the company minutes, that grandfather went to Montreal and Ontario to see if he could sell the sugar company. He was not successful. So, my uncle James E. Ellison became manager of the sugar company. The Knight Sugar Company amalgamated with the Knight Ranching Company and they became one company. They decided to move the plant's equipment to Utah, when they couldn't sell it. They built a sugar mill at Layton, Utah.
There was some objection, of course, to moving the equipment out. But the Layton Sugar Company had made arrangements, and they wanted to get started on a 1915 campaign. They had started growing sugar beets in Davis County. So the equipment was shipped to Cornish, Utah, and it became under the direction of the Utah Idaho Sugar Company.
Your grandfather was instrumental after 1915, when the farmers realized that growing sugar beets was an asset to them. They decided that it was a good thing to get the sugar industry back in Raymond. Your grandfather did a lot of work and he was a leader. He was a vibrant, active leader. He did much work in inviting the Utah Idaho Sugar Company to come back into Raymond, with new equipment. They built a new building.
That is when T. George Wood was sent there by the Utah Idaho Sugar Company. That was 1923, and I think the first campaign was in 1924. They would let the kids out of school to work in the sugar beets. They brought a lot of Japanese in to help work the sugar beets.
Reed's Dad got married in 1905, and brought his bride back to Raymond and lived in the back of the Knight sugar company office. (Jim and Fannye Walker later lived there, after they were married in 1912.)
Eva: When Grandpa Ellison and Jesse Knight met in President Smith's office, President Smith said to Grandpa before he left: 'Our Mormon people don't have a good flour up their in Canada. They are having to get their flour from Ft. Benton or Winnipeg. You would be doing a public service if you would start a flour mill.' So that's where the idea began.
Grandpa Ellison came up here and the ranchers told him it was folly to try to raise wheat here, saying there was not enough rainfall. And they said if you did raise wheat, where would you ever find a market for it? But Grandpa was stubborn, he had vision and he had the prophet's blessing. He went back to Utah and raised $32,000. Dr. Rich, from Ogden, and some others invested.
Fannye Harris came up to work for the Knight Sugar Company.
Eva: Fannye always told us it was Grandpa Ellison that got her to come to Canada. James E. Ellison, the oldest son (Reed's uncle), came up to be the manager, and he could have asked her to come as well.
J. Harris Walker: What I thought it was - James E. Ellison came up and got Mom to come up and be his secretary.
Eva: That is more logical than Grandpa getting her to come up. James E. Ellison was not a Bishop in Utah before he came to Canada. He was a Bishop her and a Bishop after he went back to Utah. They knew the Harris family very well.
Reed: We got better acquainted with your grandparents in the 1940s. Your Grandpa was President of the Taylor Stake in Raymond. I had been called to be a counselor in the Lethbridge Stake Presidency. Asael Palmer was the Stake President. Occasionally we would have regional meetings together.
I always admired him, because he knew how to properly conduct a meeting, and to get business done. He was very firm, in any project that these three Stakes had entered into. He was an excellent speaker, he spoke very well. He was to the point, and to the business at hand. He could be jovial if he wanted to, on the lighter side, but he would conduct these meetings exceptionally well, as far as I was concerned.
I knew about his activities in sports: baseball and basketball. I had also known about his desire to have a sugar beet industry back in this country. Of course, he was elected to the Alberta Legislative Assembly and spent four years there. He was well-respected and well-regarded. He was a sensible person. He always used good dynamic English. He was convincing about anything that he felt was worthwhile. People took notice of that and they enjoyed his warmth and his friendship and his interest in people. He did a lot to build Raymond.
I was the youngest one in any of those Stake Presidencies, and I felt very inadequate to contribute very much, but I did enjoy going to those meetings. I felt Pres. Walker's sincere leadership. He was a man that knew the gospel, practiced the gospel and was concerned about people. I felt very inferior, but very good about being in his presence.
Skipping to the time of his passing from mortal existence, we were saddened by the news of his death. We went to Raymond to give our respects and condolences to Fannye and other members of the family. I can well remember the large lineup of people that went through their home at the time. It was a muddy, snowy time. I thought, my goodness, there must have been several hundred people go through that line in their home.
Eva: One thing I remember about that was, Reed was President of the Chamber of Commerce in 1955 and had been 1st V.P. the year before. George Lomas was the 2nd V.P. He was an admirer of Jim Walker. He was in investments. He called us to see if we were going over to Jim Walker's funeral and to pay his respects. He and his wife Amy went with us. He talked about Jim Walker all the way over: what a fine man he was. I was quite impressed because I had only known him in the church way. The community of Lethbridge didn't really like Mormons very much, they still don't. But he talked about his good qualities all the way over.
I remember the long line of people going into the house, and there was a puddle of mud in front of Fannye (where the people stood when they went through.) I wondered if the carpet would ever get cleaned. I felt so badly about it. But she was charming, just like she always was. She was such a gracious lady. Always full of love, she nearly loved us to death. We didn't even know who she was when we first came to Canada.
Eva: She would always say: 'Because of your grandfather, I'm up here. He brought me to Canada, and I met Jim Walker and I stayed, and here I am and I love Canada, and Oh I love you.' That was Grandma Walker, full of love.
I remember I was so impressed that a man that was not a member of the church would be so impressed with him and recite all of his good qualities and express his great admiration for him and his desire to go over there.
People outside of the church were impressed with him because of his honesty, his integrity and his loyalty to the church. George Lomas admired him for that. When you are in an unpopular situation, and you are still loyal, people admire you. I can't remember all the nice things that he said but it made me stop and think: 'Here is someone who thinks the Mormons are alright.'
I remember when she would go around and give talks in church a lot. She would talk to the young women a lot. She always remembered everybody. She knew everybody's name. The kids would stand in line to go up and shake her hand. She would hug everybody and call them by name. She knew them all.
Reed: She had charm, and your grandfather had charm. He was a good looking man, and you look a lot like him.
Eva: Dad was always an admirer of Harris. He would always have a little talk with Fannye, about her son, Harris. Then , of course, Harris married Beth Russell and we adopted ourselves into the Russell family when we first came up here. I remember when Beth lived with Jim and Fannye when Harris was in Montreal. I remember little Jim was the apple of Jim and Fannye's eye.
Fannye passed these same qualities on to her children, especially her daughters. Jane and Mary and Beth always exuded this same love and friendship to everybody. Whenever we would see them, it was a happy reunion. Whenever you would see them you would think they were our dearest relatives and we hadn't seen them for a long time. We appreciated that because we didn't have relatives up here.
Reed: One of the things I admire most about your Grandma and Grandpa Walker is: they had 12 children and they were all good people. And your Grandma and Grandpa Russell had 11 children and they were all good people. To be parents to that many children and have them be honorable citizens and active in the church, living the gospel, is a wonderful tribute. I salute them for that.
Eva: When Grandpa Russell died it was another big funeral here. He was well-regarded here, because of his work in the church and the influence of his family but also the irrigation. He was a well-known man. Along with your other Grandpa, they were men of integrity, honesty and friendliness. They knew the people and they were fair, both of them were.
Eva: I looked in my diary to see what I had written about Grandpa Russell's funeral. I wrote how large it was, and that the funeral was taped, except for the prayers. So I wrote the prayers, and I made a copy of you of the dedication of the grave that Reed did. Francis might have the tape.
Grandpa Russell was jovial. So was Grandpa Walker, as I remember. Both of them loved a joke.
I remember once we had a Regional Meeting, or something in Lethbridge, and we had the Taylor Stake Presidency here for Sunday dinner. It was Grandpa Walker, Les Palmer and John Allen. We were sitting at the table eating and our daughter Lynn (who was a good child - the boys acted up - but Lynn was always polite and a nice little girl). I was sitting next to Lynn at the table and the conversation got around to wages and the economy, and Lynn pipes up: Mr. Walker, how much money do you make? So I pinched her leg under the table, but she kept on so I kept pinching her leg. She said: 'Mother will you quit pinching my leg under the table.'
I remember your Grandpa laughing. He thought that was one big joke. She was embarrassed and I was embarrassed, but he said: 'Don't worry about that, let me tell you two or three about my kids when we've had visitors.' I can't remember who he told about, but I do remember he smoothed it all over and we had some good laughs telling about what his kids had said to General Authorities or others. And he never answered the question. I'm sure Lynn will always remember that; she was about five.
J. Harris Walker: My Dad didn't make much money. He made most of his money when he bought up the shares of the Knight Sugar company and ended up being the only shareholder other than Bill McIntyre. He ended up exchanging the shares for six sections of land that the McIntyre ranch owned.
I remember when Dad and Ralph Thrall were going to buy all the land out east of Mayor Magrath Drive. They were going to buy four or five sections, but they backed out at the last minute and didn't buy it.
Reed: We haven't said very much about Grandpa Russell. We got to know him very well in the church when we came back from Vancouver. He was the President of the High Priests Quorum. He initiated a plan where when any member of the Quorum died, we would all contribute $50 and give it to the widow. I thought that was very good. I remember being asked to be the Sec. of the Stake Y.M. We were very close socially with Francis and Hilda. We associated with them and we lived close together and we did church work and social life together. I always had great regard and great respect for Francis' father and mother, for William F. Russell.
Bill Walker: I am named after my Grandpa Russell. My name is William Russell Walker.
Reed: You wear that name very well.
Reed: It wasn't too long after we came back that I was asked to be President of the High Priests Quorum and took Bro. Russell's place. Then in 1943, I was asked to be a counselor to the Stake President. Grandpa Russell was then the senior member of the High council, so we met often. That's where I got to know him better. Francis has a picture of the high council when your Grandpa was the senior member. I think Francis took the picture. Francis was the First Counselor . Grandpa Russell was no nonsense as far as the church was concerned. He wanted it done right. The decisions were made for the betterment of the stake. I learned that early and I admired him for his knowledge of irrigation and agriculture. He knew because he was trained, of course, to be an irrigation expert - which he was. He worked diligently to improve irrigation, especially on the Lethbridge Northern. I think he was instrumental, or at least helped, to convince the Utah Idaho Sugar Company to build the Picture Butte sugar factory.
When it came to business or church matters, he was serious. Concerning the political life of Lethbridge, he was serious. He also raised a fine family. Eleven children. Grandpa and Grandma Russell taught those children righteous principles. He was on time for all the meetings that I can remember. He could speak well and was vocal on subjects that pertained to the doctrines of the church. I had great respect for him, as I did for your Grandpa Walker.
Eva: He was fun. He used to tease quite a bit. Reed knew him more in the church setting. I knew him in the family setting. They always had plenty to eat and good fun. I said to Julia last night: 'As I remember your father, when he was telling a joke and wanting a laugh, he used to bite his tongue.' It was just a habit. When he was telling you something and waiting for you to laugh, he would do that.
I'll always remember this joke he told on B. R. McMullin. We were sitting in the front porch, and B.R. Macmillan had just left. I guess they were good friends when they were young fellows. He said: 'You know, I sure like Bryant McMullin, but he is so darned English that he can't get a joke.' Julie started laughing and said: 'So was my Dad.'
He told us this joke: One time I said to Bryant: 'Do you know what to do with a crying baby?' Bryant said: 'No'. He said: 'Give it a good bust in the mouth.'
Grandpa said: 'I told that to Bryant and he thought it was so funny that Bryant saw the next fellow and he said: 'Hey, do you know what to do with a crying baby? - You hit it in the mouth with a good breast.' Oh, I can still see Grandpa chuckle when he said that. And Julie said: 'It was more likely the other way around.'
Reed: Well, Grandpa was pretty sharp.
Eva: He was always glad to see us when we went there. We felt like we were part of the Russell family. Whenever we went there we were just as welcome as any of the kids. (We didn't have parents or grandparents around.)
Eva: Grandma worked really hard. She was a hard working woman. I can't remember her in Relief Society or other settings ever being very vocal. Grandma position was feeding the family and having them all around her and loving it and having the grandchildren on her knee, and stuff like that. She was a loving sweet grandma that fed everybody. She died a few years ahead of grandpa.
Grandpa Russell would go around on his High council speaking assignments and invite everyone to come to their home when they were in Lethbridge, if they needed a place to stay or to eat. I think lots of time the pioneer women, like Grandma Russell, had the role of hostess and to provide, and to let the husband be the front-runner.
Reed: Well I sure give them high marks for the family they produced. Your grandparents, on the Walker side and the Russell side, certainly did produce good families. And that is the real measure of successful people.
Bill, I think you look a lot like your Grandpa Walker. (End of Interview)
Graveside Prayer at Funeral of William F. Russell, given by Reed C. Ellison
Our Father who art in Heaven, we are grateful for the blessings of this day. As the family, friends and loved ones of Bro. William F. Russell, we gather around this graveside and express our thanks unto thee for the sunshine which Thou hast provided at this time.
Once again we wish to express our gratitude for our association with him, and for the guidance, the work, the example and the love that this chosen servant has rendered in a lifetime of devotion and faithfulness.
We are grateful for his position in Thy church, that of a High Priest, and for the responsibilities which he has carried so well. We are grateful, to, for the rich heritage which he has left.
Now in Thy wisdom thou hast seen fit to call his spirit back unto Thy presence, and we are gathered here at this time to consign his body to a resting place at the side of his life's companion and other loved ones. We do this in humility and gratitude, and we ask Thy protecting care to be over this place, that it will be one where the family may come to visit, and the many friends of Grandpa Russell may come here in meditation and reverence, that we may take strength from his wonderful life and example.
We dedicate this area of ground as we return his body to the earth, praying that it will be hallowed and favored. We pray too that his spirit and body will be united and he will come forth from the grave in the first resurrection, and these words we say in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Transcribed by William R. Walker, 23 Nov., 1994