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 Alvin Roper

Alvin Roper

Sheffield, Metropolitan Borough of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England
Death 29 Jan 1912 (aged 58)
Oak City, Millard County, Utah, USA
Burial Oak City, Millard County, Utah, USA
Plot A-2-3
Memorial ID 69344 · View Source
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Son of Henry Roper and Mary Ann Grayson

Married Martha Lydia Lyman, 26 Oct 1874, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah

Children - Ida Roper, Kirt Roper, Hettie Roper, Caddie Roper, Mary Caroline Roper, Effie Roper, Bert Roper, Twiss Roper, Lem Roper, Frankie Roper

History - Alvin Roper was born on February 17, 1853 in Sheffield, England. His father, Henry Roper, was a silversmith. The family belonged to the Church of England until 1843 when they joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Henry Roper was Branch President of the Sheffield Branch for a number of years before immigrating to the United States.

On April 2, 1854, the family left Sheffield for Liverpool to set sail for America. Alvin was about fourteen months old at this time. There was one other child, Harry, who was six years old. They set sail from Liverpool on April 4, 1854.

While crossing the ocean, Alvin's mother, Mary Ann Grayson, would put him in a berth to sleep. One day the ship rocked and a wave nearly washed him into the ocean. The captain of the ship took a great fancy to the child and would take him down to the captain's quarters and feed him. This was much appreciated by the child's parents because he was a delicate child and never had done too well. He was the only baby on the ship. Alvin Roper with sister Nellie Grayson Roper.

After being on the ocean for three or four weeks, the ship stuck a coral reef in the Gulf of Mexico and was lodged there three or four more weeks. They ran out of drinking water and became very thirsty. The captain would take the baby and give him water but he was the only one. When they finally managed to get off the reed, they came to an island. There they found fresh water. Those going ashore brought back bird eggs for everyone on the vessel. After that experience, Alvin's mother could never see water wasted (she would use all wash water to water her plants and shrubs). They landed in New Orleans on June 4th, 1854, two months after they had left England. They sailed up the Mississippi River to St. Louis where they stayed a while, then moved to Alton, Illinois. The family lived in Alton for a number of years. They had many sad experiences there. Three children were born, died, and buried there. They also experienced floods coming and filling the lower stories of their home. This forced them to move to the upper story of the house.

In 1859, the family crossed the plains. Alvin was six years old at this time. They reached the Platte River in Wyoming in September. On the 23rd of that month, a baby sister was born and was named Kate Platte. As soon as they could, they went on to the Salt Lake Valley. W in Salt Lake, another daughter, Nellie Grayson, was born April 13th, 1862. In 1863 they moved to help settle the town of Deseret, Utah. Charlie and Abel Mosley were born there. At Deseret, they lived as most of the pioneers of that time. They had only the bare necessities. They lived on bran bread and fish that were caught out of the Sevier River. Alvin ate so much bran bread and fish that in later years he would touch neither. He made the remark that he had eaten enough of it in Deseret to last him the rest of his life. They raised grain, native currants and carrots.

In June of 1862, the damn in the Sevier River was washed away by floods. It kept going out, and the settlers could not raise any crops, so most of the people abandoned their homes and moved to other towns. The Roper went to Oak Creek in 1868. They were among the first settlers there. Their first home was a dug-out while a one room house with a dirt roof was being built. Henry Roper helped lay out the town of Oak City. They, like other settlers, made molasses out of the cane they raised. They boiled the juice and would skim off the top and put it in a hole they had dug out for that purpose. They called if the green skimmings holes. They had a cow fall in the hole so they called her "Skimmings". They had a hard time harvesting the corn because it gave them hay fever. When they were able to raise grain, they quit raising corn. Alvin would never raise corn again.

Alvin had a job hauling lumber from the canyon. Later he freighted to and from Pioche, Nevada. Alvin had very little opportunity to attend school and was a very poor reader and knew very little about figures. He had a little book called "Ready Reconer" which he used to tell the price of everything. Alvin met Martha Lydia Lyman, daughter of Amasa Mason Lyman and Caroline Ely Partridge, and married her on October 26, 1874 in the old Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah. Soon after, they were called to work on the St. George Temple. Martha stayed about three months but Alvin stayed a year. Their first home was located on the lot north of John Lovell's home. Their first child, Mary, was born in this home. When she was nearly a year old, they moved to a home where Charlie Roper later lived. They lived there until 1891. In the meantime, they had taken up a homestead on Fool Creek Flat where they lived in the summertime. They got the parent on the homestead in 1884.

Alvin bought into a sawmill company consisting of Charles Roper, Eddie Lyman, Walter Lyman and Frederick Lyman. They bought a saw at Oak Creek Canyon and moved it to Fool Creek Canyon. They ran this mill about two years. When they left the mill, they would sprinkle water all around so no fire would start from sparks from the steam engine. They brought a big log to be sawed, but before it was sawed, the mill burned. Sometime later, they took the engine and started another mill just east of Oak City. They ran it for a while, and one day when they were at dinner, the mill burned. Alvin sold out his interest in the company and the Lyman boys went to Salt Lake to work to pay off the debt.

When the children were old enough to go to school, the family lived in Oak Creek in the winter. The spring before Twiss was born, they traded the place in Oak Creek for a place in Leamington. Martha went back to Oak Creek to be with her mother when Twiss was born in August of 1890. While in Leamington, Frankie and Kirt were born. Mary, Caddie and Effie were married. Eddie died when her first child was born.

The home in which they lived in was made out of logs. Nearby was an abandoned canal filled with weeds and inhabited with skunks. At night the skunks would come out and fight under the house and nearly stink them out. They set traps to catch the skunks. One morning there was a big skunk caught in a trap. When they went to pull it out, Bert Roper, was too close to it and received the full benefit of the scent-right in the face. While leaving in Leamington, Alvin hauled freight to and from Nephi, Utah. He would ford the river and go through Leamington Canyon. He took wheat, hides and wool then he would bring back flour, cloth, coal and the first oranges the children ever tasted. He also would get a pack of cloth which consisted of about 36 yards of cloth of all kinds including coat materials which came from England. He made money to pay his taxes by selling hides. One September, Frankie Roper went to the county fair at Fillmore. She took $54 to pay the taxes which weren't due until November. Alvin spent many lonely hours on the Flat because he couldn't read. Martha would read to him, and he would spend many hours looking at catalogues. They were still living in Leamington when his sister, Nellie Grayson Roper got word that her husband Jodie Lyman had been shot in the leg by horse thieves. He was out at Bluff in San Juan County. "Nell" asked Alvin to take her to Bluff. The trip took two weeks to get there, but a loaded wagon would take three. Alvin rested his horses for a few days and returned. Martha and the children stayed with her mother while he was gone. Effie was very sick and died in Leamington on May 23rd, 1898.

The family moved back to Oak Creek. Alvin was very dissatisfied because of the drought and wanted to go to the Big Horn country when Joseph Hyrum Lovell went, but Martha wouldn't go. She finally consented to go to Bluff when Jodie Lyman moved out there. They started out on April 26, 1901. "It was just like a funeral when the caravan went over the Jack hill". Jodie Lyman was never coming back and they didn't know if Alvin would or not. The whole town was there to bid them goodbye. It was about noon when they left and they traveled to Scipio the first day arriving at midnight. The next day, they stopped in Scipio Canyon and caught fish for dinner. The fish being so freshly caught almost flopped their tails off while being fried. That night they camped at Salina. It took a day and a half to get through Salina Canyon. One night was spent in Ferron, Emery Country and another between there and the Green River. They traveled every day until they came to water to camp. The next camp, however, they had to buy their water from people who made their living selling water to travelers. At Green River, it cost $14 to be ferried across. They also had to pay to cross the Grand River (now the Colorado River). They paid $0.10 a head to water their stock at Court House Rock. Ida had rheumatism and had to be lifted out of the wagon.

Jodie Lyman's parents always made bread at night no matter how late they stopped. One night after midnight, they made bread and put sulphur instead of baking powder in it. As starved as the dogs were, they would not eat it. Alvin's family had forgotten two sacks of potatoes, so the children cried from hunger. They took 15 gallons of karo syrup with them which they didn't eat very much of going. It was about all they had to eat on the return trip. They made lots of water gravy that they called "lick dob". The roads were so bad the children were afraid all the way. None of the children wanted to ride with Alvin because he drove a horse called Old Mag that balked at all the hills. One day, they persuaded Twiss to ride with him but Old Mag balked, and that was enough for her (when Effie was sick, they rode Old Mag to Salina for a doctor in one day. The horse was so stiff the next day, it could hardly walk).

Aunt Annie (it is assumed this is Ann Jane Dutson, wife of Charlie Roper, and also daughter to John William Dutson and Elizabeth Jane Cowley, who were father and mother in-law to Ole Hansen Jacobson) had told so much about Monticello that the folks were expecting to see a wonderful place, but they were disappointed. Upon arriving at Bluff, they were further disappointed because there was no water. The ditch was dry and full of sand. Alvin was ready to turn right around and go back.

Because of some of some incidents with Native Americans while at Bluff, Alvin called each of his girls by Native American names: Ida was Civis, Twiss was Cheer and Frankie was Topay. After three weeks in Bluff they started home. Two of the horses had already left, but were overtaken at Thompson Springs. At Green River, they waited a long time for a ferry, and when it didn't show up, Alvin decided to cross on the railroad track. The children's hearts were in their mouths all the way across for fear the train would come. On the way back, Lem went to Redmond and bought some eggs which were a treat for the hungry children. They stopped at Centerfield to see Tena Christensen, Effie's husband's second wife. When they returned to Oak City, they lived in a home bought from Simeon Walker. It was a log house with two rooms, a little upstairs, lean-to kitchen, and cellar under the south room. Later, they built the home across the street south of the church. Twiss and Edgar Nielson lived in it later. They moved into it in 1906. Alvin was among the inhabitants of Oak City to take advantage of the new telephone system which was brought into Oak City. He had his installed on September 2, 1909.

To help with the entertainment of the community, especially on cold winter nights, a dance band was organized. According to Peter Anderson's diary, "Alvin was the leader with a pair of wooden clappers, Harry Roper beat on a tin pan, Charles Green hummed and sang the tunes, sometimes using a comb, while I, Peter Anderson beat time on a large brass stirrup used as a triangle. I hit it with a large bolt". Alvin also learned how to play the violin and played for dances which were held in the meeting house. Later Alvin was joined by his daughter, Mary, chording on the organ, and a Mr. Greene and Alvin's brother, Harry played the tambourine.

On May 12, 1909, Bert Roper went on a mission to the Western States. About the time Bert went on his mission, they had Kirt's life insured. Alvin was asked why he didn't get his life insured instead. He said that he was afraid he couldn't pass the examinations because he had a lump on his jaw. About a year after that, the lump began to get bigger and it bothered him. In April 1911 when Dr. Broddus came to Oak City to deliver Loran Nielson, Alvin asked him what he thought it was. The doctor answered, "I wouldn't begin to tell you what it is, but if it were my face, I wouldn't stay in this town overnight." However, he didn't go to Salt Lake until June. It was in April that Dr. Broddus had warned him. He went to Doctors Middleton and Allen. They told him they could do nothing. It was sarcoma, the worst kind of cancer. Alvin didn't know what it was, but Martha did. On the way back to the place where they were staying, as he got off the street car, she collapsed. Martha told Alvin what it was and they went back to Oak City. He felt quite well, but the doctors had told him not to work. They told him to take morphine when the pain was bad. Bert came home on July 4, 1911. He was released early because of his father's health. He took him to Hot Springs, South Dakota to a cancer specialist. They told him they couldn't do anything for him. The cancer had developed into a running sore. Alvin was not satisfied with the doctor's answer, so he went to talk with him again. The doctor answered "You would rather go home the way you are than in a box wouldn't you?" He was afraid the roots of the cancer were wrapped around the juggler vein. He also told him that he should get his affairs in shape within three months.

In the meantime, Martha had a nervous breakdown and Angie, one of Alvin's granddaughter through Mary Roper, spent most of the summer with them at the Flat. One of her duties was to make eggnog for her grandfather. She would taste and taste them as they had brandy in each batch. In September, Ida, with her mother and father went to work in the Salt Lake Temple. Neither of the parents could stand the work. Alvin was getting worse, and after he had a hemorrhage in his face, they came home. Alvin had a bad spell in October. He could never lie down after that. He sat in a chair for three months to sleep. They built a table for him to lay his head on to rest. He couldn't use it or lay his head back. The cancer ate a hole through his cheek and you could see his jaw bone. Alvin eventually got so thin he weighed only 75 pounds, and he died on January 12th, 1912. His daughters got together on evenings and sewed his burial clothes. Alvin always felt bad because he had not had the opportunity to go to school. He felt inferior and took little part in church activities. He was anxious that his children get to school and receive an education. He would even work the lessons with his children. Martha would read from the newspaper and also from the Bible. His daughter Mary remembers putting her fingers in his ears because she would get so scared when Martha was reading from the Book of John telling about the happenings of the last days.

Utah Death Certificate

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  • Created by: SMSmith
  • Added: 2 Feb 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 69344
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Alvin Roper (17 Feb 1853–29 Jan 1912), Find A Grave Memorial no. 69344, citing Oak City Cemetery, Oak City, Millard County, Utah, USA ; Maintained by SMSmith (contributor 46491005) .