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John Alexander Spens
John Alexander Spens

John Alexander Spens and Sarah Ethel Coates Spens

With the help of Fairel Spens, Eva McQueary, Ila Jensen, Alvin Wilcox

and Reta Briggs

John Alexander was the ninth child to be born to his mother, Mary, and the 12th child of Nathaniel Spens. (His father, Nathaniel Spens of Edinburgh, Scotland, married Mary Campbell, of Bathgate, Scotland, in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City June 21, 1869.) John Alexander was born on May 17, 1884 and named for his paternal uncle, John, and for his maternal uncle, Alexander, who died at age nine. However, this child was known as Alex (often pronounced Ellec) except on formal occasions when blessings and scoldings were administered. At the time of his birth, the Spens family was living two houses away from John A.'s widowed grandmother, Elizabeth Campbell. The 1885 Salt Lake City Directory shows the Spens family residing at 751 East, Ninth South.

A month before John was born, his twenty-two-year-old half sister, Isabella, married William Lloyd April 4th, and moved to Spanish Fork. When John was about six years old the family moved to Mount Pleasant to the Round Hills where John went to school. His sister, Clara, remembered that his schooling was brief. He spent his time doing farm chores and later as an assistant to his father with the carpenter work, painting and woodgraining. Clara also remembered her father speaking of John A. as "Too young to be a man and too old be to be a boy."

John A. or Alex, according to his sister, Sarah, had typhoid fever in 1898. Sarah and Robert also had typhoid fever. A neighbor, Lizzy Coates also had the fever. While Sarah and Alex recovered, Robert and Lizzy died.

Sarah also noted that when she was about twelve she decided it would be smart to learn to milk the cows. Although there were times she was sorry she learned, Alex was always happy to have her help him with chores when Than was away working in the mines in the winter. When Alex was older he got work away from home, leaving his little sisters, Sarah and Clara, to do the chores. One day Alex was mowing hay when he saw the bull chasing Sarah toward the house. He raced after the bull who followed Sarah right onto the porch. Using a long stick with a nail in it, Alex took the bull back to the herd and brought the cows home for his very frightened sister.

Alex learned to play the accordion and loved to sing. Ethel Coates, a girl from the Round Hills, also liked to sing and go to parties. It didn't take too many parties together for Alex to decide to ask for a permanent arrangement. Ethel and John Alexander went to Manti and secured a marriage license on the 9th of February 1909. Ethel's parents, Joseph and Mary E. Coates, were their witnesses. Alexander Spens was listed as age 25 and Ethel Coates was shown as being age 20. Both were residents of Sanpete County. The couple was married on the 10th of February 1909 out to the Round Hills at the Spens home by Janes Larsen, minister of the gospel. Ethel's Aunt Jane is thought to have been one of the witnesses.

Sarah ETHEL Coates

Sarah Ethel Coates, know as Ethel, born Nov 19, 1889, older daughter and second child of Joseph Alvin Coates and Mary Elizabeth Zabriski Coates. Sarah (Ethel) was born in Mountainville on the Zabriski Ranch. Her father, Joseph Coates was born 2 Jul 1852 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England. Her mother, Mary Elizabeth Zabriski, was born 31 May (Dec 23rd?) 1861 in Mount Pleasant, the daughter of Alma Zabriski and Margaret Tidwell. Joseph Coates was baptized in 1861 at the age of nine and received his endowments in the Endowment House 6 Nov 1871 in Salt Lake City, two years after his wife, Mary Elizabeth, died. The Zabriskis were among the early settlers of the Mount Pleasant area, the first settlers having arrived in 1852.

Joseph Coates, "late of England," and "at present of Mt. Pleasant, Sanpete, Utah," became a citizen of the United State of America, Territory of Utah, on the 22nd of September 1894. The Certificate of Citizenship was signed by J.M. Beasley, Clerk, and R.R. Thurman. Two years later, on the 15th day of September, 1896 Joseph presented this certificate to Erika A. Norman, the Registration Agent of Precinct No. 4 in Mt. Pleasant Utah. Was the purpose of this document to take out a homestead?

When Ethel Coates was eight years old, her mother died. Her brother, Hyrum, was just a baby and Joseph's sister, Jane, apparently unmarried, rasied the children.

After their marriage, Alex and Ethel continued to live at the Spens home. They both loved to play. Full of zest and fun, this couple truely must have been the life of community and church parties. Alex tried most anything from step-dancing like his brothers-in-law, Robert and Arthur Mills, to beating time with his "spare-rib" clappers which he saved and dried for that purpose while someone else played the harmonica. Sometimes he played the harmonica himself, or sang, or joked or played the accordian.

Alex loved to eat. He dearly loved bread and butter, and often embarassed his brothers when they ate in the restaurant because he kept asking for more bread. It is hard to believe that young Alex could out-eat his big, tall brothers! When someone was acting unsure about eating something, Alex would say the person was acting "spleeny" about eating a particular food. He would then tell of the old Scotch lady who said, "Spit it out if you don't like it--our boys will eat it."

Their first son, Edgar, was born 17 Nov 1909 on Spens Ranch and died the same day. Alex was working on the family ranch. Those were discouraging, impatient times. Alex often hurried the horse from town and one night they hit a rock on the way home, throwing Ethel from the tipped buggy.

Their second son, Fairel, was born June 23, 1911, after the family had moved into Mount Pleasant where they were sharing a home with Alex's sister, Sarah and her husband, Webley Wilcox. The home was across the street from the school. When Fairel was nearing five years of age, Alex determined to take his wife to the temple. He took Ethel and Fairel to the Manti Temple 2 Feb 1916 where he committed to be the guardian of his family's spiritual well-being. Alex and Ethel were accompanied by Sarah and Webley and two children, Alvin and May, all of them going to the temple for the first time. Alex's sister, Mary Jane, his brother-in-law, Thomas Burnside, and his mother, Mary Campbell Spens, also traveled to Manti in a bob sleigh and stayed several days at the temple. Sarah remembered sister Martha who died in 1920 at age 20 and Alex remembered brother Robert who died in 1898 at age eleven years. The temple work for these two siblings was completed at that time.

Alex's father's health was deteriorating and his mother was turning inward with all her worries. In 1914 the family was very concerned. Bertha, with her little children, came from Canada to visit for the first time in ten years. In November, 1916, Nathaniel Spens died and Alex saw his sister, Annie, who had moved to Wyoming. Annie and her family came to Nathaniel's funeral and after the funeral, Annie and Andrew Rasmussen took their children to the temple--Spens, Reta and LaVar.

Alex-----health, moved to Toele, Utah.....

The next move was to Wyoming where they shared a house (known as the Webster House) with Alex's sister, Annie and husband, Andrew Rasmussen, on a farm in St. Joe, Wyoming, about three miles East of Burlington across the river. St. Joseph consisted of a post office and a school. It was here that Fairel began school, walking the mile with his cousins, Spens and Reta Rasmussen. It was a one-room school and the teacher was Edwin Thayer who later became a professor at the University of Wyoming. They lived in a house with 20 rooms and Aunt Annie cooked for the cowboys. Ethel helped her sister-in-law with the cooking, the housework and the children.

In the spring of 1917 they moved to Burlington. The Rasmussens moved to the Baxter place about a mile east of Burlington. Alex and Ethel moved into the McDonald house just southeast of the Baxter place. It was while living here that Eva Ethel was born May 16, 1917. Grandma Mary Spens, recently widowed, came to visit and was there when Eva was born. "She has red hair," she said to Ethel. Ethel replied, "Then I don't even want to see her!" Of course, the little mother gave in quickly when she heard her baby crying, and she got used to the red hair!

Grandma Mary Spens was happy to tend the children while Ethel went over to visit with her sister. Spens, Reta, LaVar and Fairel were playing and Grandma noticed that Fairel was teasing LaVar. Grandma say, "Feddle, if you don't stop that I'm going out to get me a willow to switch your legs. Fairel enjoyed hearing her scottish brogue so much that he kept Grandma stirred up. "Don't you know better than to tease Grandma?" scolded Alex. The second time Alex addresssed the problem with his son he said, "Now, I won't speak again," and Fairel knew that enough was enough!

After Alex moved to Wyoming, his brother, Nathaniel (Nat) and wife, Elfa, came to Burlington followed by another brother, Thomas, and his wife, Agnes. The Spens men built a home for Annie and Andrew northwest of Burlington. Alex and Than did most of the finishing and painting.

During the time the house was under construction, Alex moved to the home under the hill. Later Tom and Ag would live there. Alex became very ill and the doctor treated him for typhoid fever. Instead of recovering, Alex's life ebbed away and Alex died May 25, 1920. After his death, a woodtick was discovered under his arm. He had died of blood poisoning from woodtick fever. Alexander John Spens was buried in Burlington, Big Horn County, Wyoming and Ethel grieved with her little ones, not understanding why her wonderful husband would be taken away, especially after he had turned his life around and was serving the Lord.

Remembering her husband, Ethel was known to say laughingly and fondly, "Oh, he was a devil! Always so full of pranks and fun! His favorite dance was the waltz." Yet in his pictures he seemed haunting and sad.

Left to her own capabilities, Ethel worked in a hotel in Burlington cooking. Eva recalled helping set table and standing on a stool washing dishes. Warren Reed lived in the area with his family. His wife died leaving him with four children. Warren Reed and Ethel were married and moved to Montana. Of his four children, Dean, Joy and Lester were older than Fairel; and May was three years younger than Fairel and three years older than Eva. Lester and Fairel "doubled up" on Dean who seemed to make life miserable for Ethel and Fairel. Eva was too young to know of their struggles. She only recalled some bright moments--singing for some men who were working in a soda pop factory across the street from their home in Montana. At lunch time the men would sit in a circle and listen to Eva sing. They would throw dimes at her which she would take home to her mom. After a few short months, Ethel gave up on reforming her gambler. Her kind neighbor supported her: One morning she came over and said to Ethel, "Why don't you just take a stick of dynamite to that Warren Reed?" Instead, Ethel gathered her children and boarded the train to Mount Pleasant where she went to live with her father, Joseph Coates. On the train Eva recalled singing for the people in the aisles who DID NOT throw dimes or nickels. Fairel was embarrassed and Ethel made Eva sit down.

Joseph Coates was living alone, never having re-married after his wife died. Papa was happy to have his sweet daughter home--he had worried so over her! Joseph lived out south of town and Ethel lived there with him for some time. During those few years Fairel and Eva have good memories with Grandpa Coates. Ethel worked during the summer and into the fall at the W. D. Candland Ranch where there were thousands of sheep. The ranch was east of town out past Aunt Clara's house. At the ranch Ethel cooked all the meals for the ranch hands. Fairel and Eva both helped their mother. Fairel stayed in the bunkhouse with the men and Eva stayed in a bedroom with their mother. Eva recalls there were rocking chairs in the bedroom and rugs on the floor (that had to be shaken). When Ethel went to Mount Pleasant or the Round Hills with a little one-horse buggy to visit her father, Eva recalls how they would stop at Aunt Clara's with any extra food.

Times at the Candland's Ranch were the best years for Ethel since her Alex died. They were the best years Eva could recall. The good summers at the Candland's Ranch and winters with Grandpa were bright times compared to the years that were to follow.

Ethel married Emil Kolstrom October 21, 1926. Emil said he had been a friend of Alex and had spent time out at the Spens ranch when he was growing up. The summer before they were married, Emil would come out to the ranch in the evenings for a piece of Ethel's pie and to court her. Emil was born July 30, 1886, the son of Carl and Wilhemina Ranstrom Kolstrom of Sweden. After they were married, Grandpa Coates sold the farm and bought a piece of property and big house across the way from Emil's home. Fairel, and sometimes Eva, lived with Grandpa after this marriage. Ethel, too, stayed with Grandpa at times. A son, Emil Rex Kolstrom, was born 22 July 1927 in Mount Pleasant. Young Rex spent as much time as Eva did with Grandpa Coates.

Eva recalls being a teenager when her grandfather had a stroke. He had gone to the basement to make cider and he came back up. He came into the kitchen and fell the floor. Dr. Winters was called. After that Grandpa had to be fed and cared for in every way for several years. Dr. Winters stopped by the house one day when he was taking care of Grandpa. The Dr. spit on Eva's bare feet--he was a smart mouth man--and Eva responded by slapping him in the face. Someone said, "He had that coming."

Fairel and Eva would spend hours trying to please Grandpa by moving the picture of himself and Grandma. After his stroke his gentle ways changed. Before his stroke he never swore, but after the stroke he seemed to have no control over his vocabulary. After his death his home in town was left to Ethel Kolstrom and her sister, Grace. They must have sold the house as they never lived in it. Grandpa Coates got a pension of $50 a month--government check under the Leatherwood and Smoot Bill passed March 5, 1927--which Eva helped him sign by guiding his hand after he became too shaky to hold the pen.

Before he married, Emil served in "The Great World Conflict," or World War One in France. After the war, Emil worked for the government up in the mountains and was gone a lot. He was the youngest of six children and his parents lived just across the street. The elderly Kolstroms were very religious and very kind people who were converts to the Church. Mrs. Wilhemina Kolstrom played the organ. She learned English but her husband, Carl, never did.

Emil Kolstrom died in the Veteran's Hospital in Salt Lake City March 24, 1956 while Eva was living at Morningside Drive in Salt Lake City. Emil is buried in Mount Pleasant.

FAIREL

Fairel seemed to have raised himself, moving from job to job trying to help his mother. He was exceptionally dependable and loyal. Eva recalls picking up Fairel's checks for him and spending some of his money. Fairel took better care of Eva than most brothers. One time he killed and dressed a lamb for the beauty operator so Eva could get her hair permed. Eva and Viv said Fairel was the best help the McQuearys ever had.

REX

Rex lived with Eva after she married and again when he came back from the Army stationed in Austria. Rex married Eleanor Louise Mar Jan 14, 1950 in Grandby, Colorado. and later married in the Manti temple 9 Sep 1969. They had two sons and one daughter. Robert Eugene Kolstrom (born 26 Dec 1951 in Grandby, Colorado) and now lives in American Fork; a dau Donna Lynn (born Jan 27, 1958 in Grandby. Larry Dean (born April 26, 1954 in Kremmiling, Colorado) who died at age 12 on the way to Denver to the hospital on January 11th and buried Jan 15, 1967 in Grandby.

Rex died 10 Jan 1994 in American Fork, a veteran of WWII, active LDS, high priest, survived by wife who died September, 1995 on Labor Day weekend. He attended the American Fork 18th ward, and was buried in American Fork Cemetery. Obituary in Provo Herald, B2 Wed, Jan 12, 1994.

Donna married Robert Manley and they live in Orem. Robert Eugene Kolstrom now lives in American Fork

EVA

Eva had one son, Douglas Gadd, born 13 Sep 1937 in Nephi, Utah. Her husband, Douglas Lawrence Gadd (born 6 Apr 1914 in Garfield, the son of Arthur Gadd and Jane Sinclair) was killed in an automobile accident in 1938 on September 13th (Doug's first birthday), leaving her a young widow. The accident ocurred four miles south of Payson. He lived one month and died in Salt Lake City at the Holy Cross Hospital. Eve was home putting up peaches and waiting for him to come home to celebrate Doug's first birthday. She called him three times to tell him not to go with Leon Broadbent to Payson to take a car to be worked on the next day. She later married Vivian Albert McQueary (born 24 Jan 1914 in Steamboat Springs, Routt County, Colorado, son of Charlotte Laura Wagers and Ralph Vivian McQueary) on April 14, 1945 in Billings, Montana. Viv McQueary had 5 children, Darlene (3 Jul 1933), Patrick Joseph (17 Aug 1934), Richard Dale (12 Apr 1936), Marvin (12 Apr 1938), and Charlene (5 Jan 1941); Pat, Richard and Charlene were born in Denver, the other were born in Grandby, Grand Country, Colorado. (Ethlyn Mills, born in Oregon or California, dau of Joe Mills and Eva. Viv and Ethlyn were married in Sulfur Springs in Nov 4, 1932) Viv had custody of his children and they were raised by Viv and Eva. (Ralph's father, Richard Warren McQueary, was a good friend of John Vivian, the governor of Colorado.

Guy went to Argentina, Cordoba Mission and Doug went to the Taiwan Mission. Both boys left in 1979 leaving a day or two apart. Guy flew out of L.A. and Doug flew out of San Francisco. Arthur Gadd died Feb 17, 1944, born 29 Apr 1871, son of Alfred and Mary Ann Hobbs Gadd, pioneers of Nephi and apprenticed as a carpenter under his uncle George Hobbs. Married Jane (Jenny) 6 Oct 1892 (or, doubtfully, 1897) at Nephi. His wife, Jane Sinclair was born at Nephi September 7, 1875, the daughter of Matthew and Margaret Shirkey Sinclair. The family members are buried at Vine Bluff Cemetery in Nephi. Their daughter, Helen helped Eva with her son Doug while Eva worked at the beauty shop.

Guy Vernon McQueary later changed to Guy Vernon Gadd, son of Art Douglas McQueary (later changed to Gadd) and Shirley Wells, born May 11, 1958 in Logan, Cache County, Utah. Their second son, Douglas Vivian McQueary (later to be known as Gadd, was also born in Logan on January 27, 1960. Doug and Shirley divorced early and the children were raised by Doug and his parents, Eva and Viv McQueary.

Bernice Thayne is a friend of Eva's that lives in Nephi in a white house across the street from the city park.

Eva and Beth lived in an apartment together in Delta--Eva worked in a beauty shop.

References

Copy of Certificate of Citizenship for Joseph Coates in possession of Eva Spens Gadd McQueary. Was he homesteading the land? He had a ranch out in the Round Hills that was close to the Spenses.

When did Grandma Spens go to Wyoming?

Get a copy of Nathaniel's will

Copy of John A. Spens's will.

Joseph wore garments and he smoked...

Find Nathaniel's will and check on Alex's will or intestate...

What picture did Grandfather paint for Joseph Coates?

Back to Nathaniels' Children



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