Remembering our pioneer heritage
Pioneer Day is the celebration of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints coming to the Salt Lake Valley July 24, 1847. That was the day the first group of saints crested the mountain and saw their first glimpse of the valley. Since that time Latter-day Saints throughout the West have celebrated the occasion by remembering their ancestors and the trials they faced while crossing the dusty plains and rocky mountains. While Pioneer Day is mostly celebrated within Utah's borders, the rich heritage of pioneer history that formed the foundation of Bingham County should not be overlooked.
The days were slower back in 1914. They were filled with goodness and simplicity, a time unfettered by cell phones, Internet and television.
A husband and wife gathered their five young boys, like little chickens, and placed them into the buckboard wagon along with a few of their belongings to travel from Castledale, Utah, to establish a new home in Idaho.
They traveled slowly through summer snow storms until they reached Tyhee Flats, where they resided for four years, just long enough to save money for property in Groveland.
Nellie Moore Reynolds, mother of the five now strapping young lads, had her hands full and found delight in watching her sons become young men. Her son Clohecy said, "She was a good cook and could make something out of nothing."
Her husband, Fritz Earl Reynolds worked arduously as a farmer and taught his sons how to work hard and diligently. They purchased land and lived on what was known as "the island" and farmed the fertile soil around them a half mile north of the Snake River Bridge.
In 1918, an influenza epidemic swept the world, killing an estimated 50 million people. Within months, the virus killed more people than any other illness in recorded history. The illness emerged in two phases. Hitting first in the spring of 1918, leaving most victims weak but recovered after a few days. The disease resurfaced again in the fall, striking with no warning. It eluded treatment and defied attempts of control. Some victims died within hours of their first symptoms, other victims' lungs would fill slowly with fluid, ultimately suffocating them within a few days time.
The flu affected over 25 percent of the U.S. population and the Reynolds family was no exception. The husband, father and provider of the Reynolds family, Fritz, died from the disease in October, 1918.
Nellie and her children were left to tend the farm alone. With the hard winter behind them, springtime brought with it a hope of new beginnings. The Reynolds boys began planting their crops and tending to the pigs, chickens and horse… and then the river waters began to rise. The Reynolds property, left vulnerable to the rising river on all sides, was all but destroyed by the ensuing flood. Their crops were wiped out. They gathered the pigs and chickens and took them to the neighbor's home. The horse stood on a small rise in the land surrounded by water until it receded. The Reynolds had lost almost everything.
Not much is said in the Nellie's diary about this time, but one can imagine the great sense of loss that must have accompanied her family during these hard times. As most pioneers do, Nellie Moore Reynolds and her children carried on.
The following year found the family closer to the Groveland townsite. "We lived next to village square in Groveland. There was much activity every Saturday afternoon." wrote Nellie. "It was a three-room house in the north part of Groveland townsite. We planted trees and grass in the spring."
There Nellie would stay on and continue raising here children until her death Dec. 24, 1949. Her greatest comfort was her son, Clohecy, who despite urgings from his mother, would not leave her side to start a family of his own. Clohecy married in 1953.
Despite all the trials that accompanied the Reynolds family, Nellie chose to serve others and was a valued member in society. Clohecy said of his mother, "She was always serving others when they were sick and helping them with their babies. She served in Relief Society as a member of the Sunshine Committee in the Groveland 1st Ward visiting all the women over 65 for their birthdays."
A pioneer by definition is someone who goes before, showing the path for others. Nellie Reynolds blazed a path of perseverance, faith and service that is forever emblazoned into the hearts of her children, grand-children and many generations to come. The Reynolds family is just one of many that has formed the history of Bingham County.