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 Fern <I>Hackett Chappell</I> Beckham

Fern Hackett Chappell Beckham

Birth
Lyman, Wayne County, Utah, USA
Death 27 Sep 1990 (aged 72)
Saint George, Washington County, Utah, USA
Burial Santa Clara, Washington County, Utah, USA
Plot 221A
Memorial ID 41588 · View Source
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1920 census Bicknell, Wayne, UT: Gepkie E. Hackett aged 24 is a widow with three children: Ora aged 3, Fern aged 2, and George Cortez aged 5 months.

When Fern's mother passed away, Fern, nearly ten years old, went to live with her dad's sister, Aunt Aletta in Richfield, Sevier, Utah.

Fern Hackett was born the second of three children to George Cortez Hackett and Gepkie Elizabeth White in Lyman, Wayne County, Utah. She was preceded in death by her father and mother, an older sister Ora and a younger brother bearing the same name as their father, but known simply as "Tez." Grandfather Hackett died in a flu epidemic on 3 February 1919, when Fern was only fifteen months old. In June of 1922 Grandmother Gepkie was married to Jessie Eugene Taylor, and of that union were born another brother and two sisters: Boyd Eugene ("Gene"), Ireta (Sterling), and Gepkie (Woolsey).

Even as a very young child, Fern loved envisioning herself in dainty clothes and elegant surroundings; often in sharp contrast to the realities of farm life in southern Utah. Her poetry records some of the little girl games of "let's pretend" that delighted her, as well as the wrenching disappointment she experienced when her "jeweled crown" of braids was removed with a first haircut. She tells of the many hours she was called on to tend "Babies, Babies, Babies" and how she so longed for a place of quiet retreat from their calls. She wrote of humorous childhood times, as when she startled her mother by bringing a group of school friends home to celebrate her birthday with a "surprise!" party, or when she and Ora were caught alone in the house and tried to hide under the bed until they were made to come out by a pandering Indian squaw who, while grunting her insistence that they drop the day's baking of bread into her outstretched sack, got them to do just that!"

On September 23, 1927, just nine days after the birth of her last child, Grandmother Gepkie died of childbed fever, leaving Fern an orphan at the tender age of nine. She was justifiably proud of the hardworking, clean living, Dutch heritage from which she had sprung, and of the Mother who taught her lifelong habits of thrift, careful grooming, immaculate housekeeping, and how to live by the rule, "Where there's a will, there's a way."

After Grandmother Gepkie's death, her children were sent to live with various aunts and uncles. These years were not very happy ones for Fern; being remembered mostly for the hours of hard work spent in various fields and houses.

On December 3 1933, at barely sixteen years of age, Fern was married by civil authority to Max Elijah Chappell. Together they had three children: Evelynn, George Elijah (Lige), and Peggy Mae. Seeking to better their lot during the post-Depression days, this little family struck out together for California, where Max found work as a cutter in the women's clothing industry. Uprooted, and not really very happy with things as they found them in their new state, the young couple began feeling dissatisfied, found fault with each other, and decided on divorce.

Being persuaded by the persistent efforts of one Hugh Kent Beckham, a newly returned young seaman who she had met while attending classes at USC, Fern began her second marriage on September 20 1947. Into the new family came twins Dana and Bonnie, and another daughter, Karla Kay. Moving first from Los Angeles to San Fernando Valley, they settled more permanently in Ventura, where Fern worked for a number of years as a PBX operator, and secretary for various business concerns. Southern Utah was their home since 1972.


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  • Maintained by: Adriana
  • Originally Created by: Utah State Historical Society
  • Added: 2 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 41588
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Fern Hackett Chappell Beckham (14 Nov 1917–27 Sep 1990), Find A Grave Memorial no. 41588, citing Santa Clara Cemetery, Santa Clara, Washington County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by Adriana (contributor 47328225) .