|My Cooper Legacy|
My Ancestral Legacy
Eli Franklin Cooper
The information was collected by his daughters,
Libbie, Clara, and Nellie
A New Baby
Story by Nellie N. Olsen Ostler
Sarah was so excited. When the children woke up that cold February
morning in Georgia, there was a new baby in the family. As Sarah helped
her littlest sister, Emily Francis, get dressed for the day, she kept
going over to her mother's bed to see the beautiful new baby. Sarah,
was only eleven, but she felt quite grown up as she helped put
breakfast on the table that morning. Little Emily kept sneaking away
from the breakfast table to go over to see the new little baby.
Sarah kept reminding the boys of their chores, but in their excitement
over the new little brother, their teasing and laughter grew louder and
louder. They kept crowding around the bed because each wanted their
turn to hold the new baby brother, and they sometimes forgot and were
too loud and both the mother and new baby woke up.
nearly ten years old and big enough to really help both his mother and
his father. William was eight years old and big enough to be trusted
with chores around the home, and then there was James, who was six
years old. All three boys helped with the work around the house and
yard and helped watch their little sister Emily Francis who was only a
little over one and one half years old when this beautiful little boy,
Eli was born.
The new baby was given his father's name: Eli. His full name was Eli Franklin Cooper.
If you have been counting, you noticed only six chi(dren mentioned. The
new little baby, Eli, was the seventh child. His sister, Liza, had died
when she was very little. If she had lived, she would have been four
years old when Eli was born. So, Eli was the seventh child.
Eli was still a baby when his mother and father left Georgia and moved to a new home in Florida.
Ticks and Love
Story by Eli Cooper
"When I was about four years old I used to go out around the gopher
holes (these were land turtles sometimes called tortoise) and get my
clothes full of ticks, so I could come in and get my mother to pick
Now, as his mother was so very busy, a child had
to really need the mother's care before she could take time to give
them her personal attention. This was Eli's way of getting his mother
to hold him, to get her personal attention as she picked the ticks off
his clothes, and she talked to him and caressed as she inspected his
hair and body.
I think he was a pretty smart little boy. When
he felt he needed to be loved, he took responsibility for himself and
obtained that love. Notice that he did it without fighting or getting
angry to get attention. He didn't feel sorry for himself and withdraw
or "pout". He felt he needed and wanted his mother to hold him, and
devised a way to get the attention and petting that he needed.
Eli, The Teen Years
By his Eli's daughters Clara Cooper Kinsey and Nellie Cooper Rogers
The country in Lake County, Florida, was then called "Piney Woods"
Country. There was lots of timber with streams and lakes. And as Eli
grew up, he liked to watch the electric storms in the timber. Many of
the storms were fierce ones. Some times when the lightening would hit a
tree, it would split a tall tree from top to bottom. This was a wonder
to an inquisitive boy.
Hunting in Piney Woods
Eli became a very proficient hunter. In the "Piney Woods" there were
bears, deer and wild turkey. Around the lakes there were ducks and
alligators. He would stalk a deer for hours being very quiet and
keeping "up wind" so that he wouldn't be detected, then he could
finally make his kill. His father had taught him that it was necessary
to kill the deer in a place where all the meat could be carried out and
saved. They did not believe in wasting anything.
were times when Eli would stalk a deer through the beautiful "Piney
Woods" and it would walk out into a clearing and just stand there. He
would get this beautiful stately buck in his sights and then he would
get what he called "Buck Agers" and his finger would freeze and he
could not pull the trigger. And the deer would walk away.
Now a bear
was something else. A bear could be very dangerous at times and Eli had
to use caution. But he was skillful enough that he could usually make a
kill if he wanted to do so. But he did not kill just to be killing. If
the bear was not being destructive or they did not need the meat, the
bear was let go about its way.
Now getting turkeys and ducks
took a lot of patience. The turkeys, being very wild, could be found in
the early morning or in the evening just before sunset. Ducks were
found around the lakes and in the swamp area. Hiding very carefully was
necessary if you wanted to get any of them. But this was also the sport
and they were good eating for the family. Eli dearly loved to fish. He
would sit in the shade of a pine tree and wait for the fish to bite. He
said a man could do his best thinking while he was fishing.
felt that to start out in the evening with the dogs and tree a 'coon
(raccoon) or a 'possum (opossum) was real sport. If he came back with a
'possum, then the family could have 'possum and sweet potatoes which
was very delicious.
Eli had a big pack of hunting dogs and
would take a tent and his dogs and with friends, go hunting for days at
a time. If the family went, they would pick huckleberries or other
berries, if they were ripe.
hunting "gators", it was necessary to row out into the lake in a
strongly built flat bottom boat, in the evening with a lantern. Most
of the time there would be more than one hunter. One man would row the
boat and one would hold the lantern. Then when the light would shine in
the eyes of the 'gator, the other one would kill the 'gator. It was
very dangerous, because if the alligator was only wounded, the powerful
tail would smash the boat and the 'gator would kill the hunters.
After they killed the gato, the men would tow the 'gator back to shore
behind the boat.
'gator skin without any holes in it brought a very good price. Eli
thought this was a great sport.
Eli liked to play the fiddle (we call it a violin now). It was called
fiddling because of the type the music he played was "fiddle" music.
Most fiddlers learn to play the fiddle (violin) by watching others and
then imitating themo Eli learned how to fiddle by watching his father,
who was the best fiddler in that part of the country. Neither one could
read a note of music, but then they didn't need to. Playing just came
natural to them (of course it did take a lot of practicing).
Eli grew into his teen years, he played the fiddle almost every week at
the local dances that were often held in the recreation rooms in some
of the churches around there. Families would come to the dance and put
the little children to sleep on the benches, or under the benches, and
have the older children watch over them and play quietly themselves,
while the older boys and girls joined with the adults in dancing. When
the dance was over, they would put the sleeping children into the wagon
or buggy and drive home in the moonlight.
Eli, The Man
So, Eli grew to manhood. He was a very active man, physically strong.
He was 5 feet 10 inches tall. He weighed 138 pounds. His hair was black
and his eyes were brown. He was very good at wrestling and he could
jump into the air and pop his heels together three times before he hit
the ground (as could his father, Eli).
Can you do that?
Can you jump in the air and click your heels even once? Twice? Three times?
By Eli's daughters, Libbie, Clara, and Nellie
When Eli was 23 years old, he bought some land not far from his
father's home. He built a two room log cabin to which he later added a
"lean to" for a kitchen and a porch.
On the 9th of November 1881
at Messina, Orange County (later changed to Lake County), Florida, Eli
married Marinda Caroline Murry. Eli always called her "Callie". Eli and
Callie lived in the house that Eli had built. He had planted an orange
grove and he had a few cattle which he ran in the "Piney Woods". When a
person "ran" cattle in the woods or swamp, they let them graze freely
out in the woods.
Eli and Callie had three little baby boys,
James, Elbert and Thomas. Little Elberi died when he was a baby, and
they were so sad.
Callie and Eli had been married for eight
years, and baby Thomas was a year old when Callie died on February 25,
1890. Eli really felt badly about it. He missed his wife so very much.
Now, he had two little children with no mother.
didn't live too far away and took care of the two boys so that Eli
could work. They loved the children very much. There were very
concerned for their well being, and the boys loved their grandparents.
A while after the death of his wife, Eli began trying to make a new
life for himself. He began going to the community and church
entertainments. Now, in the community there was a Pattison family with
a daughter he really admired. Telitha Elizabeth was her name, but she
was called by her nickname, Lizzie.
Eli began trying to go with her. This is a copy of a letter he sent her:
will come over there next Sunday and I will come by and get you about
10 or 11 o'clock, if nothing happens to prevent me from coming.
Provided it is all right with you. 1 aimed to have spoke to you last
night but I did not. So don't get mad with me for writing this.
Your affectionate friend,
E. F. Cooper
Lizzie answered the letter, telling him she did not want to go with
him. She addressed it to Eli Cooper and mailed it. It so happened, that
his father (also named Eli Cooper) got
it. Now he knew the letter
was supposed to be for his son but he answered it. He wrote, "I never
ask you to go anywhere with me."
Now, when I heard Lizzie (or
Telitha) told this story as an "old" grandma, she would begin the story
with, "Now, I'll tell you a joke."
Not a Suitable Suitor
Why didn't Lizzie want to go with Eli? Well, Eli was 15 years older
than she was and she had known him for years. Lizzie knew he was a
widower with children. Years before when she was not old enough to
dance she had gone to the dances with her sister Mary, who was not
allowed to go to the dances by herself. The dances were held in the
schoolhouse and all the babies were laid in the corner behind the stove
in their blankets. The girls who were too young to dance acted as baby
tenders. So Lizzie had cared for Eli and Callie's baby during those
Now, Lizzie telling Eli that she did not want to go with
him did not discourage him. He still went to places where he could see
her. But it wasn't easy. She was cute and lively and had several
younger boys as admirers who had asked her father for permission to
One afternoon there was a group of young people at the Pattison home.
Eli was among the group. The boys were catching grasshoppers and
chasing the girls, trying to put the grasshoppers down the girl's
necks. Eli caught a grasshopper and started to run after Lizzie. Lizzie
ran this way and that, trying to get away, and being a flirty girl, she
was squealing when he got too close.
Her current suitor became
angry and told her father that if she was going to "act like that" he
was leaving and not coming back and he jumped into his buggy and drove
So, when Eli asked her to go with him, her answer changed
to "yes". He did have a new buggy and a high stepping horse, which was
more than the other boys had.
Eli was persistent in his courtship and soon the lovely Telitha
Elizabeth, daughter of Robert William Pattison and Emmaline Mason Ann
Waller became his wife. They were married September 14, 1892.
After the wedding festivities were all over, Eli took Lizzie to his
home. He brought his two sons home from their grandparents place. Now
they were a family.
The Big Freeze
By Nellie Nadine Olsen Ostler:
Not too long after Eli and Lizzie were married they walked out into the
orange grove one evening. It was a beautiful evening. Eli put his arm
around Lizzie as they looked at all those beautiful golden oranges
hanging on the trees in their grove.
"Yes, Lizzie, when these oranges are ripe, we'll be able to sell them for enough to pay the mortgage on this farm."
"Do you think we could add a kitchen on to the house?" asked Lizzie
"Only a kitchen? Why, Lizzie, we can build a NEW house then." With that
comment, Lizzie turned and hugged Eli. Eli and Lizzie were very happy
with their plans when they went to bed that night.
Eli was stunned when he found the oranges all frozen. Even the trees
were frozen with all their leaves curled up. Eli was devastated. He
could hardly believe it. Slowly Eli walked over his grove and looked
very carefully at each tree. Sure enough, it was worse than he could
have ever imagined. All the trees had been frozen down below the bud.
Every tree was lost. Every tree would have to be dug up and taken out.
Not one tree could be saved.
Eli and Lizzie were ruined
financially and so was everyone else in the country. Most of the people
in that area left their homes and land to find work elsewhere. Lizzie
thought that leaving would be a good idea, but Eli said no. He would
stay with his land and start all over again.
So, Eli began to
dig up his orange trees and to replant new trees. This was long and
hard work, but Eli knew it was the only way. It a long time, but some
years later his grove was beautiful again.
"In May of 1992, I
had the opportunity of flying into Fort Lauderdale and was talking to
my seat companion. He said he was the fifth generation of Floridians. I
mentioned that my Grandparents lived there, and were "frozen out" in
the big freeze. He was quite familiar with the story, even to asking me
which freeze. I told him, and he even gave me more details. It was
every bit as bad as she describes. The freeze of the four or five years
previous to the one my grandparents experienced was interesting. He
said that the people reported hearing what sounded like cannons being
shot. The temperature dropped so fast, that the sap froze while in the
branches and trunks of the trees. As the sap froze, it expanded causing
the branches and trunks of the trees to explode. The frozen sap
literally burst the trees open, which caused the noise like cannons
being shot. This man said those two freezes were the worst for many
years. With these two freezes most of the orchards were Mined. It only
took another couple of freezes to wipe the orange groves and farmers
completely out in the northern part of the state so that almost all the
citrus groves were in the southern part of Florida."
Told by Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
Today when we see a western story on TV or movie screen, we feel it is
all just a made up story. Well, these stories are based on facts.
People really lived them. I know. The setting of this story is not the
west. It was in Florida, but it was cattle country and the feud was
My father (Eli) was an honest man. Actually, some
felt he was too honest for his own good among the people in the
community where they were living. He had some cattle that were loose
and fed in the woods, which was declared a "free range".
course, with everyone running their cattle loose, stealing was made
easy. And as in every cattle country, there was a group of men that had
established ranches and who made quite a profit on stolen beef. The
ones in this episode were related to the sheriff and everyone knew that
it would do no good to report this type of crime to the sheriff,
because both the sheriff and the judge were on their side. Both the
sheriff and the judge were paid very well (another way of saying, Jim
Drawdy bribed both the sheriff and the judge to be on his side). And
everybody was aware that no jury dared to convict them even if the case
ever did got to trial. Everyone knew what was going on, but not daring
to say anything, they just turned their heads because it really meant
death to cross this gang.
Now up to this time, Papa (Eli) had no
reason to have trouble with them, but he did not associate with them.
Of course that alone made him an outsider. Many of Papa's friends were
their friends because they did not dare be otherwise.
caring for a cow of a friend. Suddenly the cow just disappeared. After
spending quite a time hunting it, he started home. He passed one man's
house and saw that he was butchering an animal, so he went over to
where he was. There he saw the hide of his friend's cow. This was
definitely the cow he was hunting.
These men were bold. Why should they be afraid? No one could do anything to them.
Well, Papa swore out a warrant for their arrest. Jim Drawdy, the
leader, and his followers swore they would kill Papa.
Mama, the Guard
By Libbie E Cooper Olsen
Mama carried a gun for 15 years to protect her husband. Papa always
tried to be in the house before dark. The curtains were always closed
tight. Mama always positioned the kerosene lamp right in front of the
curtained window, so that no shadow of the family ever fell on the
curtains or blinds. Mama always moved the beds often so that no one
would know just where anything or anybody was in the house. Papa always
carried a shotgun. He was never without it.
Anyone coming to the
door was challenged. Now, all the men in the South had hunting hounds.
If their dogs made a commotion, Mama (Lizzie) usually went to the door
with a gun boldly aimed. She went to shoot if necessary, and no one
doubted that she would not do it.
By Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
"One night, when mama's youngest sister Kate was staying with them. It
began to rain, so Aunt Kate dashed out the door and grabbing a chair
that was in the yard. She held it over her head to take it in out of
the rain. Mama heard the commotion, grabbed the gun and ran to the
porch. Just in time, Aunt Kate realized the situation and screamed,
"Lizzie, don't shoot!"
By Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
Every night the blinds were drawn. We lived in fear and the shadow of
death. This was my early life. Can. you wonder that an open window and
the moon was so beautiful to me? 1 remember the first time 1 recall
seeing a moon.
I slept with my sister Mentie in her room. One
night she put the blind up a bit and there was the moon, big and orange
in the blue-black sky with white fleecy clouds racing across the stars
and the face of the moon. To me this was a new discovery. So wonderful.
Before then, | had always slept in my mama's and papa's room with
blinds drawn and no shadow was ever allowed to fall on the curtain
Information froth Eli's daughter Libbie,
Jim Drawdy, the leader of the gang called Lizzie "The Little Devil". He
called her that because she was an accurate "shot" with any gun she had
in her hands. And she was fast and very savvy.
Drawdy said that
if it wasn't for the "Little Devil", they could get Eli. Night after
night Lizzie would stand guard with her gun, while Eli got his much
needed rest. Day after day Lizzie would follow Eli at a distance while
he worked in the crop fields so that no one could slip up on him
unexpectedly. She was always carrying a gun while riding horseback with
her baby (Mentie) in front of her on the saddle.
One night when
they were away from home, they came back to find that the mob had shot
through the walls of the bedroom in several places hoping they would be
able to kill Eli.
An Escape in the Dark
Information from Eli's daughter, Libbie
It was a very dark night. The mob was again threatening the house. The
family could hear the horses and the men cursing and talking. After a
shot was fired, Eli and Lizzie decided that it wouldn't be safe to stay
home. They quietly slipped out the back way. They bent low to make
themselves harder to be seen. Mentie was warned not to say anything,
even in a whisper. She held her papa's hand as he guided her to the
barn where the horses were. Lizzie stuffed a diaper into Libbie's mouth
to keep her from crying out loud.
Holding their breath as they
opened the barn door, hoping it wouldn't make a noise. Quietly as he
could, Eli slipped the harness onto their fastest horse and quickly
hitched him to a cart. They put Mentie down by their feet where they
could help stabilize her with their legs and feet, and she wouldn't be
so likely to be hit if they were shot at. Lizzie held infant Libbie in
her arms. Very slowly and quietly they left the barn and started for
one of their relative's houses. After they had left the homestead, Papa
whipped the horse and made him go as fast as possible. It was a very
dark night - too dark to see the way. They had to trust the horse to
know the way.
A Boat for A Bed
One night Thomas was out. As it got late, Eli and Lizzie were really
worried. They worried that the mob had gotten hold of him. By next
morning they were more than worried about him.
To their surprise,
he came into the house. He then told them that when he was coming home
the night before, he heard some noises around the house. As he
listened, he could hear what he thought were saddles creaking and
horses hooves on the ground. He had the feeling that the mob was
around. He dared not come into the house, for fear he would get shot.
So he slipped into the barn. To hide, he crawled up into the boat that
was stored in the rafters in the top of the barn to hide. As he hid and
listened, he fell asleep there in the boat.
Relatives helped protect Eli
Information from Eli's daughter, Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
Once Lizzie's father, Robert Pattison, heard of a plot to kill Eli one
time, and bravely rode out and intercepted the men on their way to Eli
and Lizzie's home. Robert boldly rode his horse out in front of the men
with his gun drawn and ready. He warned them he knew of their plan and
they had better leave Eli alone.
Then, on still another night,
Eli's brother-in-law, Wake Murphy, (who was Callie's brother), came to
their home and told Eli that he had heard that the gang was going to
get him that night.
Eli and Lizzie quickly got ready the
children ready and into the wagon, and went to Rutherford's, (his
sister's home) for safety.
Thomas wanted to stay home, so this
time they left Thomas. That time, Thomas hid himself high in the boat
that was stored in the top of the cow shed. He had his gun to protect
Again it was a very dark night, and so they again
"let" their horses "have the rein" and to find their own way, so they
would not make as much noise.
And sure enough, that night some men did come to the house, but did no
harm when they realized no one was home.
And It Happened This Way
By Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
One dark stormy night Papa discovered that some of his cows were
missing. He went to look for them. Mama fed the children and put them
to bed, putting his supper on the back of the stove to keep it warm.
The storm grew worse. The lightening flashed and the thunder roared and
the rain fell in torrents. My mother was beginning to be worried about
my father. When she heard the dogs bark and someone on the porch she
threw the door open, thinking it was Papa.Imagine her fright to
discover two strangers on the porch - and she didn't even have a gun in
The strangers stood there, cold and wet.
young men introduced themselves as ministers of the Gospel. Mama
invited them in. No one was turned away from the door in that country
(no one but Mormons).
She placed them in front of the fireplace
and hung their coats to dry. These young men were full of the spirit
even if they were hungry.
While she fixed my father's supper for
them, they started their message of the Gospel. After they ate, they
talked a long time. When Papa still did not come home, Mama fixed them
a bed of quilts on the floor, and they retired.
finally came home, Mama bustled about and cooked him some supper. Papa
was a silent man and Mama talked always. While she was bustling around
fixing him his supper, she told of the strange men that had come to
their home. The words just tumbled out. She was so thrilled and full of
the spirit. At last she had found someone that explained the Bible as
her mother did.
At long last, when she paused for breath, Papa asked, "Lizzie do you know who these men are?" "No."
"They are Mormons."
He had a twinkle in his eye because of the stories she had heard as a child.
Lizzie sucked in her breath, watching his face.
Then, she looked him in the eye and replied, "I do not care who they are, they have the truth."
By Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
From that night on, the Mormon missionaries came to our home regularly.
Mama talked to them and asked questions. Papa would just sit whittling
something and listening, sometimes with a smile on his face.
Now, Mama was a coffee addict and for a long time felt she could not
give up her coffee. After much prayer and some dreams she did give up
her coffee and applied for baptism. Papa gave his consent.
the 3rd of June 1900, Mama and the Elders and the family went down to
the lake to baptize Mama. After a prayer was said, everyone was
surprised when Papa stepped into the water, and was baptized a member
of the church first. Nothing had been said by him during the
discussions with the missionaries or to Lizzie at any time.
This was really a time for rejoicing. It was an especially big and happy surprise for Mama.
Rejoice in the Gospel
By Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
They both knew the Gospel when they heard it, and they both believed
enough to be baptized. They both found the "Pearl of Great Price". My
father and mother now knew why they had married each other. If either
of them had married anyone else, they would not have been able to
embrace the Gospel. They would not have been permitted to go to the
House of the Lord and receive their own endowments or do work for their
kindred dead. What a marvelous blessing God had given them, to bring
their lives together.
Through all their problems, they had been
tried to see if they were made of stern enough stuff to be worthy of
His Kingdom, to have the faith to partake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
All their friends and relatives were cool to them. Finally, Mama's
sister Mary and her husband joined the Church two years later, but no
one else in the entire country would entertain the Elders.
persecution of the Elders became so great that after my parents left
for the West, the missionaries were withdrawn from that territory for
quite a period of time.
Information from Libbie E. Cooper Olscn
Lizzie and Eli often entertained the Mormon Elders. The Cooper home was
the only one in 40 miles around where the Elders could get a place to
sleep. Sometimes the missionaries even had to sleep out in the woods.
As a result of Eli and Lizzie joining the Church of Jesus Christ, all
the churches in the community combined, trying to keep them from
believing Mormonism. First one preacher, then another would come to
their home and stay with them trying to convince them that their church
was the true church.
Mormon Elders would come to their home, often
they were worn out from fatigue and lack of food. They knew they would
be welcome. It was no uncommon thing for Eli to come in after working
all day to find strange Elders in a bed.
Sometimes Eli tried to
give them money when they would leave so they could buy something to
eat, but they said they were traveling without purse or scrip (as they
did in those days) and would not accept the money.
Missionaries in Florida
Information from Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
Two years after they had joined the Church, Lizzie's sister, Mary
(called Mamie by her family), and her husband, John Stinson also joined
the Mormon Church. These were the only two families that joined the
Church in that whole area.
Because of the Anti-Mormon antagonism
in that area, the missionaries often had to sleep out in the open, in
the swamp - forest area. They were always welcome at Eli's home, and
always stayed there when they traveled through. When Aunt Mamie joined
the church, they then had two places to stay.
Now, they were in constant fear of mobs, either because of the feud or
because they were entertaining the missionaries.
Mobs and Missionaries
One day many years later, when Eli was cleaning his 12-gauge shotgun,
he told his daughter~ Clara Cooper Kinsey, this story. She says she
doesn't know if this happened before they were baptized into the church
One day the Mormon missionaries were at his home. They
had come the day before and had spent the night. A mob of men on horse
back with guns had come up to the front of the house. Now usually when
a mob came, they were after Eli, and Telitha would meet them with a
gun. But this time, Eli grabbed the gun first and went out to meet the
mob. While Eli held the mob back with the gun, the missionaries got
away through the back way and ran through the "Piney Woods" and escaped.
"Clara said, "This story always made me feel like my father was a very
brave man. It proved his faith and belief in the Gospel.
came many times and threatened Eli and Lizzie Cooper because they
entertained the Elders. Sometimes the people in the mobs that
threatened them about being "Mormons" were the same people who were
threatening them because he opposed the Drawdy gang. They were told
they would be killed if they continued to talk to the Elders. These
threats were never carried out. The Lord protected them.
By Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
Eli loved his parents very dearly. He was especially close to his
Mother. His mother really felt he had done a very foolish thing in
joining the Church. When she was told about it, she cried and said to
him, "Eli, Eli. And you were my Best Boy." Eli had been the only son
that did not drink. He was the only son that was steady, totally
Later, she told him "I 'd rather see you dead than to
join up with those people (i.e. The Mormons)." Eli must have had a
pretty strong testimony of the Gospel, else he would not have joined
under these circumstances.
Because of the feud with Drawdy, many
of their friends were afraid to still be their friends. They were
afraid that the gang would do damage to their property, or that they
might be killed. Then, when they joined with the Mormons, their old
friends really turned against them and wouldn't even speak to them.
They found that even most relatives now turned against them. Everyone
thought the Coopers had really gone crazy by joining the Mormons.
Eli heard that Arizona was good cattle country, especially in the
Pine-Payson area. Further investigation found that a cattle war was in
progress. The Florida feud was still fresh in Eli's mind and he decided
against ranching and cattle. He had been a good farmer in Florida and
decided to be a farmer in Arizona.
Everything is Different
Eli bought 40 acres of land in Mesa, Arizona. It wasn't very many
months before he found the irrigation farming system was extremely
different from the farming in Florida where there was plenty of rain.
He was unable to handle 40 acres successfully so he sold them and
bought a 20-acre farm at what is now 748 S. Home Lane, in Mesa.
Eli had to learn the art of irrigation. He also had to learn about how
to work the adobe soil. This was all new. In Florida, he had been used
to sandy soil and rain to water his crops. Eli once said, "The Arizona
sun dries up the water nearly as fast as the dry ground could drink it."
Eli was not strictly a farmer; he had been a cattleman. In Florida the
cattle had been turned into the woods to feed until they were big
enough to be used for food. He found that in Arizona, they raised
cattle to milk and kept them in fenced pastures and fed them hay. One
man told him he could get rich if he raised cows and alfalfa.
Alfalfa??? Eli had never heard of alfalfa before so he had to find out what it was and how to raise it.
There was an experimental farm of the University of Arizona, which was
about half way between Mesa and Tempe. Eli went there to find out about
raising alfalfa. All his years that he farmed in Arizona, he went there
and spent a great deal of time looking at the work the college was
doing, and discussing problems with the professors who ran the farm.
These men tried and used some of his ideas and all the good information
that he obtained from them he put to practice. His farm products were
among the best in the valley. He kept his fields cleaner from weeds
than most of his neighbors for he said; "No grass will grow under my
Eli also learned to raise wheat. He sold the wheat to the
flourmill in Mesa, and arranged that some be left at the mill so that
they could get it throughout the year as flour.
By Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
Papa was a Hardshell Baptist. They did not believe in "outshowing" in
prayer. This was a hard thing for him to turn from as he had been
taught this ridged rule so many years (4l yr.) The Hardshell believed
that you could not convert a person, they were either saved and saw the
light or didn't. This helps to understand why Papa never was able to
get up in public and pray. He never kneeled in family prayer. That was
one reason why he was reluctant to go out to meetings. He was afraid
they would ask him to pray."
A Lost Wallet
By Libbie E. Cooper Olsen
One day the family went out to the foothills in a wagon to get wood.
This family did every once in awhile to replenish the woodpile they
used to cook with. There, they gathered wood, loaded it on the wagon,
then they cooked their supper, enjoyed the evening sky, and camped all
In the morning they gathered up their bedding, and hurried home.
During the next night a terrible windstorm came up. The wind was at
hurricane speed. That day, when Eli went to get his purse and put it in
his pocket and it was gone.
He recalled the last time he had seen
it was when he was at the camp in the foothills the past night. What he
had in his purse was all the money he had to last the family until the
next crop was raised and sold.
As soon as the wind subsideds they
went out and harnessed the fastest buggy horse, Mollie, and they
returned to the camp. They traveled fast all night. Just as day was
breaking they got to the camp to find an old prospector camped in their
old camp. Eli felt terrible. He just knew his money would be gone.
The old fellow was not very cheerful nor interested. As Eli was talking
to him, he happened to look down at the ground by the old fellow's bed.
There lay Eli's old worn billfold amid the cow chips. It looked nearly
like the chips. Eli was thrilled and picked it up. As he returned to
the buggy, he stood a moment by the buggy fingering his billfold and
his lips were moving. Eli was praying in thankfulness of the miracle
God had provided."
His family was always aware of his deeply held testimony.
Search the Scriptures
Told by his daughters
Eli had a cot in the yard. Here he rested at noon and when the day's
work was finished. In the crack of the umbrella tree, he kept a Book of
Mormon and "Gospel Doctrine" by Joseph F. Smith and other books he
studied a lot.
It was Nellie and Clara's duty to see these books
did not get rained on. If it looked stormy you can believe they ran
fast to rescue the books.
Eli had read the Bible many times and could quote from it on most any subject he wanted to.