Charles Smith Cottam (1861-1950)

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Charles Smith Cottam (1861-1950)1

Charles Smith Cottam


  • Born: 16 September 1861, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
  • Married: 8 January 1884
  • Died: 11 February 1950, St George, Utah, USA
  • Burial:



(Alternate spelling: Beata Eliza Johnson)

Child listEdit

  • With First Wife Beata Eliza Johnsson
Mary Cottam (1885-1955)
Charles Walter Cottam (1888-1972)
Ruth Cottam born 27 April 1894 Salt Lake City Utah USA; died 29 May 1896
Myrtle Cottam (1896-1986)
  • With Second Wife Mary Gertrude Judd
Clair Smith Cottam
Minvera Cottam
Lucille Cottam (twin)
Leila Cottam (twin)
Thelma Cottam
Owen Cottam
Naomi Cottam
Gertrude Cottam


Family historyEdit


During the last days of papa's life, as he awaited for a kind Father to report this school term finished and promote him as an honor student to a higher school of learning, I promised to write a sketch of his life for the benefit of his children and children's children. The writing of his life's sketch was my idea for, said he, "My life has been very ordinary, and who would find it interesting to read about?" The idea, however, pleased him I'm sure, for who of us doesi, not want to be remembered by those we love. No one realized more than he that a responsibility is ours to teach our children the necessity of honesty, chastity, honor and a virtuous life in every respect - in other words, living the life of a good Latter-day Saint. If this little sketch can promote those teachings to any degree at all, papa will be happy with what I have written as a tribute to him.

Papa was a mighty good man, yes a mighty goo manl I'm sure that his family weren't the only on( to think that because at his funeral Harold Snom then St. George Stake President and Tempi President, who was a much younger man than b and had fondly called him "Uncle Charles" all c his life, said of him, "He has lived the teachings c than any man I have ever known, an he is like Nathanael of old of whom the Savior said 'Behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile. John 1:47)"

During the last days of papa's life, as he awaited for a kind Father to report this school term finished and promote him as an honor student to a higher school of learning, I promised to write a sketch of his life for the benefit of his children and children's children. The writing of his life's sketch was my idea for, said he, "My life has been very ordinary, and who would find it interesting to read about?" The idea, however, pleased him I'm sure, for who of us doesi, not want to be remembered by those we love. No one realized more than he that a responsibility is ours to teach our children the necessity of honesty, chastity, honor and a virtuous life in every respect - in other words, living the life of a good Latter-day Saint. If this little sketch can promote those teachings to any degree at all, papa will be happy with what I have written as a tribute to him.

First hand, having lived while it was in the making. There was one subject in school in which he truly excelled because if I need to know how to spell anything, I could ask him instead of looking it up in the dictionary. He would spellitdut by syllables and pronounce each syllable as he went along. This is the way that he was taught to spell and it was a very good way to learn to spell for he surely knew how. The old Wilson and McGuffey Readers which were the fountain of much learning was not the textbook for spelling. They had the old Blue Back Speller for that purpose. The readers not only taught reading but many other things and we quote from papa's writings, "Wilson's Second Reader was arranged in sections. One I remember was.'Zoology, mammalia' and gave pictures and habits etc. of various animals and stories and verses about them. Other things taught were things of uplift, morals and spirituality. One or two verses were as follows:

'I'll never use tobacco, no -tis a filthy weed I'll never put it in my mouth,' said little Robert Reid. 'Why there was idle Jerry Jones, as dirty as a pig Who smoked when only ten years old and thought it made him big.' The arithmetic book was different but the readers were the yard stick by which their scholastic attainment was measured. During most of his school days the st@dies included reading, writing, arithmetic, spelling and geography. He did however, have some classes in grammar in the later or more advanced studies. The regular grade school system was introduced shortly after he was out of school, having completed the fifth reader; but he took some night school work from Lucius W. Peck who was an unusually good mathematician. There he learned about square root and cube root, etc. His lessons were well learned for he never forgot them. His school days were among his treasured memories, and he rememberd fondly many of his teachers. One must be mentioned especially because she was the first and most beloved of all. Let us here quote from him again: "I started school in a large wooden box with Marietta S. Calkin as a teacher. It was but a short time until we were moved into a tent, likely it was the one first used for public purposes by the first company who settled St. George. Aunt Mariette, as she was affectionately called, was a cultured lady and one who was always a real friend to me. She had no living children, she had one son who had died in early manhood and I think she probably took to me about as much as to anyone." In those days Friday afternoons were set aside for spelling bees. There were two spelling,groups, the first included students in the first and second reader and the second group included those in the third, fourth and fifth readers. The group lined up and when one misspelled a word he was sent to the foot of the class. It was a distinct honor to be at the head of the class in spelling. In fact, spelling became a competitive sport in those days. My goodness, I've gotten ahead of my story. I'll have to back up a little. Here I'd like to quote again from papa's writing: "When they (the Thomas Cottam Family) had been in Salt Lake for about nine years, a young chap came to their home, and they called him Charles Smith Cottam. It is recorded that he arrived there at four-thirty a.m. and weighed ten pounds. (I'he date September 16, 1861). "I don't know anything unusual concerning him for some time but when he was a few months old, father records that 'I have just received a letter from Carolyn saying, Charles can creep and gets into mischief often.' " When he was about a year old, his parents were called to the Dixie Mission in St. George. In calling settlers to various areas to locate, the Prophet Brigham Young, chose people of various trades and talents so as to make the communities as self- sufficient as possible. Grandfather was a turner and chair maker by trade. Some of the beautiful chairs he made are now treasured heirlooms. Up until the year 1973 some of his lovely rush bottom chairs were in use in the St. George Temple. In thinking about a permanent home, the Cottams had previously investigated the Cache Valley area and were not impressed. So when the call came to go to Dixie, they were willing. Let us picture this family of five children and the parents leaving Salt Lake City the 13th of October in a covered wagon drawn by slow ox team that were rested off with a team of cows, and traveling for one month with the weather getting colder each day. Papa says, "We children all had the whooping cough. On arriving at Beaver there was snow on the ground and quite cold. One sister there, Sister Ann Parker, wife of Robert Parker, went out to the wagon and invited mother to take the children into her house to get warm. But mother said, 'No Sister Parker, my children have the whooping cough.' She insisted on mother going in and warming herself. The first thing mother knew, Sister Parker had me, a year-old child in her arms and the rest following. I later heard Sister Parker say that some of the residents of Beaver were very scared of whooping cough and would show no consideration to the emigrants who were coming here and that some of their children took whooping cough and had it very severely while her's had it very mild.

"Our first home after coming to St. George was a tent and a large wagon box. I can remember when we used them for bedrooms. Our first house was made by putting posts in the ground and weaving willows in and out and plastering it with mud. The -round was leveled and wet down and whenever it became uneven it would be picked up and wet down and leveled again. "Our first adobe home consisted of one room. On the west side were stairs to the cellar going north and to the attic going south and toward the east cutting through the corner of the ceiling. Thomas and I had the attic for our bed room. There was a little four-light sash in the south end near the head of the stairs. We would sit there after going up to bed and look out of the window at the stars, he telling me what different groups of stars were called such as job's coffin, but it was hard for me to distinguish which was which. "Sometimes we would be in a singing mood and would sing some of the old hymns such as 'Redeember of Israel' and 'Jesus the Giver of All We Enjoy.'We would keep on singing until mother would have to call to us from the foot of the stairs, 'Thomas Punter and Charles Smith, quit singing and go to sleep.' "My father put large cottonwood posts in the ground and cottonwood logs on the top to form a shed and willows on top of that for his workshop. It was open all around. He had a lathe and a large wheel, probably six to eight feet in diameter with a belt running from the wheel to the lathe. The wheel was turned by hand. Sometimes one and sometimes two would turn. the wheel. But when father had a great deal of turning to d o he would get a man to turn it. If there was only a little, some of us boys did it. "I remember one winter, ice had formed on E pond and I said to my brother, 'Thomas, I bet you ten thousand dollars I can break this ice with this clod.' It was a bet. The ice did not break but the clod did, and whenever Thomas wanted me to do anything he would promise to remit a few thousand dollars. That worked all right until I got old enough to realize that a little boy's bet did not mean so much." Ali yes, even in those early days papa began to show his trait of keeping his word, of honesty and trustworthiness which was to be his hall-mark of later years. I know, and so did everyone else who knew him, that Charles S. Cottam's word was as good as his bond. I have had the great satisfaction of being accepted by folks who knew him, as being honest and dependable and of worth in my own right because I was his daughter. That is when I began to gain a greater appreciation of his great birthright and heritage and the value of being born of "goodly parents.,, "I never could be driven very well," reported papa, "and my brother Thomas would sometimes tell me in a commanding tone what to do. One day a neighbor boy came when Thomas and I were husking corn. I stopped to fool and talk too long and received a command, 'Charles, get to workl' As I did not immediately comply, he started after me and lifted the hind end of my trousers with his bare foot. The result was a big toe that gave him trouble for a long time." When older sisters were not at home, the younger brothers had to learn to help mother with the housework as well as the work out-of-doors.

One day as Uncle Thomas was mixing bread, he saw through the window that some girls werf- coming. He couldn't be disgraced by having the girls see him doing girls work so he quickly rubbed the dough from his hands and sat down as though he had nothing to do. After the girls were in the house and seated, papa, trying to keep his brother in line spoke up, "Thomas, you'd better get the bread mixing finished for motherl" Did his brother Thomas break another toe on the pocket-knife in his hind pocket after the girls left? We may never know. Sometimes on cold winter mornings when going with Uncle Thomas to the field to work, papa would walk for a way to keep warm. When he got too tired and wanted to ride, he'd try to get into the wagon but Thomas who loved to tease his younger brother would keep the horses jogging just fast enough to barely keep out of reach. At last he'd grab the end of the wagon, but just as he was about to jump in Thomas would grunt and cause papa to start laughing. Of course this would make it impossible for him to jump into the wagon. When the younger brother got pretty tired, his teasing older brother would finally stop the horses to permit him to get into the wagon. In telling of the development of machinery papa commented, "it was some years after moving to Dixie before we had any alfalfa. The first wheat and other small grain was harvested with a cradle, and I remember once or twice of our grain being tramped out and also being thrashed later with a horse power thrasher run by about five span of horses. The harvester and most other machines and inventions have come within my recollection." Grandfather Thomas, had a yoke of oxen that he loaned to some friends who were helping to construct a fort at Fort Pearce wash. This fort was of course made as a protection against the Indians. Grandfather never saw his oxen again and was without a team until he went to Salt Lake and bought a team of horses, a gray horse and a black mare. These two animals were very poor and had to have assistance to get home. They were traded with boot for other horses later. The gray horse and twenty dollars worth of corn was traded for a chestnut sorrel mare named Kit. She proved to be a splendid animal and was years later given to Aunt Catherine Romney when she and her husband, Miles P. Romney moved to St. Johns, Arizona. Papa could tell of some Indian trouble. He remembered a Dr. Whitmore and a young man named McIntire getting killed at or near Pipe Springs. He also remembered of an Indian uprising when some men went out south of town to settle the trouble. One Indian was killed at the time. The pioneers tried to be friendly with the Indians however, and followed the advice of President Brigham Young when he told the settlers that it was better to feed the Indians than to fight them. It was common in those days to have the Indians, both men and women, cotne around to the homes of the people begging_for bread and other food, saying, "Ninny towicha shunkrey, biscuit shetoip sahanty." Which means, "I'm very hungry, give me some food." Sometimes they would have pine gum to trade. Mother tells that the Indians would trade a few pinenuts for a cup of flour or other food. I remember them begging for food when I was a child, especially at Christmas time when they would come around from house to house saying, "Chreesmas geeft, give me some." By this time they had learned more English words than biscuit. The Indian women would sometimes help the over-worked pioneer mothers in the early days of Dixie by scrubbing the family wash on the wash board while her white woman employer would help her. Let us not get the idea that those days of hardship and pioneering were without culture. It was never so with the Mormons. We quote again from papa's writing: "We had our tragedies and our pleasures. There was considerable of the culture and some very good plays were put on the stage. Miles P. Romney, A.W. Ivins, Caddie Ivins, Desle Parkings, Joseph Orton, Charles L. Walker and a number of others were very good impersonators." Papa had the satis- faction of finding out that he could do a good job on the stage also. "Such plays were presented as 'The Charcoal Burner, The Ticket of Leave, Still Waters Run Deep, etc.' There were also concerts, dances and other entertainments. People had to make their own entertainments." No doubt this was a very good thing and contributed to their growth and development. In telling of his adolescent years, papa tells us, "Father was very anxious to have us prepare ourselves for our life's work so we could make our way in the world. So when I was about fifteen years old, he asked me what I would like to do. He made arrangements with Miles P. Romney, a carpenter, to take me as an apprentice. I was to receive sixty-two and one half cents per day the first year. One dollar the second year and one dollar fifty the third year. Our pay was tithing office, Cannon Co-op, factory scrip or any other kind of trade. If we cashed it, it would bring from twenty-five to thirty cents on the dollar. "The first day of my apprenticeship, February 19, 1877, 1 was set to work ripping lumber and how tired I got, not being used to constantly shoving a rip saw. "On the 25th of June, 1878, while helping build a flume, it fell on me hurting me so I was unable to use my right arm. It was some weeks before I started to work again." It was at this time that the Temple President, J.D.T. McAllister, suggested that papa go to the Temple where he would be given a special blessing that would help in his recovery from this accident. When he went there, he was to find out that he was to receive his Temple endowments at this time, though he had not anticipated this then. So it was that he got his endowments before his seventeenth birthday. He states, "On the Ilth of July I went through the Temple and had my endowments. I was ordained an Elder that day in the temple by Anson P. Winsor." Papa was a very shy young man, slow about dating young ladies and thought it a very serious business. But cupid got in some quick licks in the autumn of 1882. The Cottams were very hospitable people. Many times they accomodated people who came to St. George to the Temple or conference or for other reasons. At this time a young man and woman from Virgin came to be married in the Temple and a Swedish emigrant girl, Beata jonsson came with them as a chaperone. Papa was invited to go with the young folks to help them find the home of a friend where Miss ionnson was to stay. When the friend proved not to be home, papa was happy to invite her to stay at his parent's home for the few days that she was to be in town. He felt himself drawn to her from,the first time that he saw her but was slow about showing his feelings for her because she was lame. (She always had to use a crutch.) She was reluctant to accept his proposal of marriage for the same reason. Life was serious business in those days. It was pioneering conditions. Work was not always plentiful and it was to take time to earn money to be prepared for marriage and also to persuade Beata that they really should marry. She went to Salt Lake City to work and earn money and he worked one place and another as he could. The wedding -day was January 8, 1884. The Temple ceremony was followed by a lovely dinner at his parent's home and everything went well except for one unpleasant incident ... "on the evening of the wedding day. A card came saying her mother was very sick and that if she died I would be the cause of it." I have heard papa mention Grandma jonsson's displeasure in @is and Beata's marriage, although we know from several letters he wrote that his relationship with Grandma jonsson before the marriage was very good. Perhaps she was simply reluctant to give up her daughter. Beata had health problems and financial problems seemed to ever be with them, yet theirs was a very happy marriage, their love was deep and lasting. These testing and trying circumstances were things that they accepted and came through refined and purified. The new Cottam family made their home in Salt Lake City for a time. It was here that their first child, Mary, was born on June 19, 1885 and Charles Walter was born on May 18,'1888. We must insert an item here that has to do with Walter's name. One time while traveling from St. George to Salt Lake City they met a Brother Zadock Knapp Judd, who was taking his son, Walter Asa, to Salt Lake City as he was to go on a mission to Holland. Papa inquired as to where he would stay while in Salt Lake and upon learning that he had no place to stay but a hotel, they invited him to their home. This was to be the beginning of a very fond friendship that was to be eternal. It was for this friend that Charles Walter got his middle name. An interesting little story is told of this period in papa's life in Salt Lake City. One day as he was just a little late leaving home for work he had to run to catch the street car. When he got on the conductor asked his name. "Cottam," papa panted. "Yes," replied the conductor, "but if you had been another minute later you wouldn't have caught 'em this time." From his missionary journal we read that it was on April 16, 1891 that he received notice from the First Presidency that he was to be prepared to leave for a mission May 5th or June 2nd. This was a distinct possibility that they had had in their minds, and one for which they had tried to make some preparation before hand. It was a call from the Lord and one that neither papa or his beloved Beata would consider refusing. They rented the best part of their home for which she would receive a small amount to help her with her expenses. She was an excellent seamstress and when health would permit, would be able to do some sewing to help with her expenses and send a little to him from time to time. Christ sent his missionaries out two and two without purse or script. Likewise early missionaries in this dispensation of the Church traveled without purse or script. Papa was one such. In his missionary diary, page six we read, "On Tuesday, 2nd of June, 1891, 1 blessed my wife and children and bid them good-by, and committed them to the care of our Heavenly Father and parted with friends and kindred, and at 10 p.m. left by the R. G. W. Railroad for my field of labor." This was to be in the Southern States. Papa was set apart for his mission by Apostle A.H. Cannon, who promised him that on condition of his faithfulness his physical powers should be increased. Whether it was increased he did not say that I know of, but he must have had pretty good physical stamina to do all the walking that he did and endure the physical strain that he had to endure during his mission. In the back of this first missionary journal we read of the miles traveled during the first sixteen months of his mission. You will be interested to know that his travels totalled two thousand eight hundred ninety miles. One hundred eleven of which were by railroad, five miles by buggy, seven by mule, three by wagon and two thousand seven hundred sixty-four miles on foot, making almost an average of one hundred seventy-three miles per month on foot. This averages out to over five miles per day. While a missionary, his purchases were few as money was scarce. He tells of repairing shoes and clothing. One time he reported that that day he had been mending the west side of his pants. Another time he said that his companion was dying. On the next page he added - "his clothes." On another occasion he told of the time when he and his companion got into the swamp and were lost. Papa, always trying to be cheerful, started to sing a hymn, "We've Found The Way The Prophet's Went." Thereafter this was their private joke, when they had problems. They would say or sing, "We've Found The Way The Prophets Went who lived in days of yore." A few letters or portions thereof, from Beata help us to see a little into her condition while she was home alone with her two oldest children. In her letters to him she maintained a cheerful and helpful attitude to keep him encouraged and to keep him informed of family doings. She had help financially in a small way from friends, etc. She was even able to send a small amount of money to him. At one time she wrote: "I am taking in a little sewing so to help the work along. I think we have every encouragement. Caroline Olsen told me when she was here that I am receiving all my reward right here. She did not know if there would be any left for me hereafter, for every one made so much of me and would do anything for me. I made fun of the girls, for where I had four or five to ask me to go to the concert, they had none. Now I tease them. Wm. Thompson (papa's brother-in-law) did not take me to the theater but gave me a dollar instead thinking that would do me more good. Now my dear, I did enjoy reading your letter. It made such a sweet impres- sion on me. Draw near unto the Lord and He will draw near unto you. In hours of trials He will not forsake us while we serve Him. Now about the three years mission - do not think for a moment that I don't care, for if it was not for the gospel, that is now all to me, I would certainly want to be by your side in storm as well as sunshine. This is quite a sacrifice, yet it is nothing when we think of the great reward there is in store for us if we are faithful. You have gone to fill a mission, now see that you do it and I will do my part." Because of her lameness she was handicapped but seemed to manage pretty well in spite of it. She bore testimony of ways in which the Lord was helping her to get by on her scanty income. She also bore strong testimony of being quite ill and being administered to by their friend, Asa Judd and of being made well. We feel a pang of homesickness for him as we read Beata's letter dated March 6th, 1892, in which she said, "Walter said the other day, 'When MY papa comes home he will say, I have come to see my little boy, then he will toss me up to the ceiling. Mary will say, 'Oh what a big girl I have,' then he will put his arms around me and kiss me. Then she cautions him saying, "Don't feel homesick when you read this, for if you should come home before your time I would not kiss you." Those were the times when Mormon Elders were being mobbed and beaten and even killed in the Southern States. We note her concern and prayers for his safety. Some choice missionary experiences we must repeat here. On one occasion when he and his companion were resting beside the road a man came along in a buggy. He stopped and said, "These are the men I was looking for." They wondered if he were friend or foe. He got out of his buggy and asked the missionaries to sing for him. He had heard them sing at the school house a few nights before. They were then invited to ride with him. After a short time they were invited to get out and go into a house where they were asked to sing again. Then they got back into the buggy and were taken to the driver's home. When they got there two boys were sent on mules to go and invite relatives and neighbors to a cottage meeting that evening. So without any effort on their part there was a good crowd at a cottage meeting on that occasion. No wonder they were repeatedly asked to sing. Papa had a good singing voice and enjoyed singing. Of course being blessed with the sweet spirit of the Holy Ghost would make their singing doubly beautiful. Another missionary experience was of a friend who liked to give the new missionaries a hard time and test their knowledge of the Bible. One question to papa was, "Who baptized the jailer, Paul or Silas?" Not feeling quite sure of the answer papa countered with a question of his own, "Who was the father of Zebadee's children?" This seemed to please the other who replied, "You'll do." Another experience tells of the time when he and his companion found it necessary to go past the farmstead of a very bitter Mormon hater. He had made his brags that if those Mormon Missionaries came past his place he would fix them. His threat was not an idle one since he had two very vicious blood hounds. Of course the missionaries were uneasy but knowing that they .ould not reach their appointment in time unless they went past his place and knowing that they were in the service of the Lord they trusted themselves to His care. As they neared the man's place they saw him standing by his gate and noticed that he was accompanied by his blood hounds. The man waited until he could positively identify them then, pointing to them, he clapped his hands saying to the dogs, "Get 'em." What could they do? they could not out run the dogs nor avoid them. There wasn't long to decide. As the dogs neared them my father, pointing on down the road and clapping his hands said, as had the owner of the dogs, "Get 'em." Without slowing down at all the dogs raced past them on down the road. As they proceeded to meet the greatly surprised owner of the dogs he exclaimed, "Well I'll be ----- they never did that to me before. You have to be either of the Lord or the devil and I don't know which but you must let me feed you." Family members tell this story that papa told them. One time as he was waiting for the train but didn't have the money for his ticket he walked down the tracks and was met by a man who held out his hand and offered father money. "I hate to take this from you," he protested. "Take it," was the reply. "You'll need this for your ticket." He looked down to see what was offered and when he looked up there was no sign anywhere of the man who gave him the money. At another time he and his companion were tired and hungry and decided to ask the Lord to help them to obtain food. Shortly after arising from their knees they saw a loaf of bread on a rock close by. Gratefully they ate t'Ate bread. Of course he reported this to his wife in a letter giving the day and the hour. She decided that this must be the answer to a missing loaf of bread from her kitchen. She had turned a freshly baked batch of bread out to cool and when she came back she found one loaf missing. The letter telling of his release from his mission is of interest: Charles S. Cottam Greenville, Ala. Dear Brother: "You are hereby notified of your honorable release from the S.S. Mission after being absent twenty-five months to return home July 18, 1893. "We are well pleased with your labors. You have been a faithful, dilligent, worker; adhered to counsel given; followed the rules of the mission and been successful. Continue as you have commenced and diligently seek after more knowledge; cultivate the spirit of God; be a wise counselor to the youth of Zion and above all do not forget that you are indebted to the Lord and His kingdom. "Speak well of the Southern people remember- ing always their kind acts and forget ill treatment. "By following the above counsel the blessings of heaven will be your portion and eternal life your reward. Praying the Lord to richly bless and return you home in peace and safety I remain" Your brother in the gospel, J. Golden Kimball What oy, what realization of many months of waiting and longing. All this time he had been gone things had been waiting for him to do and for money with which to do them. It should have been a time of fulfillment. Instead, it was a time of great frustration because of lack of employment and money. Pe returned at the time of a bad economic depression.) He wrote to his father telling of their problems and need. He reported that they,had not suffered because of lack of food, but there was little or no work to be had. Taxes were high and hard to pay.

In one letter he mentioned one person whose bottled fruit was being taken from their cellar. This was not the only instance of this happening. Again they wondered whether or not they should stay at Salt Lake or move to St. George. On April 27, 1894 the family was gladdened by the birth of another little girl whom they named Ruth. Two years later on March 24, 1896 another baby girl joined the family whom they named Myrtle. It was only a few weeks after that that their little daughter Ruth, died. In the meantime Beata had suffered much, and doctors then didn't know just what was her problem or what to do for her. It was hoped, however, that a warmer climate would help her, so in the autumn of 1897 the family moved to St. George. But in spite of a warmer climate and what medical help was then available, this beloved wife and mother slipped from them. Charles Walter told of how he as well as his sisters were permitted to go in to see their mother just before she left them and how she told him how important it was for him to live a good life. It was April 13, 1899 that Beata died, possible of heart trouble or consumption (tuberculosis). Before we leave our account of Beata, let us mention a few things about her. When she emigrated to the United States, she came to Salt Lake City, being the second one of her family to emigrate, coming before her mother. She was very witty so was always the life of the party. She had a wonderful singing voice and could play and accompany herself and others on the guitar. She was an immaculate housekeeper and an excellent cook and seamstress, at one time teaching sewing class for little girls. After telling of her death, papa said this of her, "She was always a true and faithful wife, a pure, noble minded woman and of great intelligence." There were to be four years of loneliness and hardship for papa and a hard time for the three motherless children. Myrtle, age three when her mother died, tells of going from one place to another to be cared for because there was no mother at home. Eventually she was given special permission to go to school before she was old enough because this would help solve the problem of her care. There was only one solution to papa's problem. He must find a new mother for his children and a wife for himself. He knew that he could never find anyone to take Beata's place, but he was to find out eventually that there could be another companion who would make an important place in his life in her own right.

There was a friend of the family in Salt Lake City whom he courted and for whom he bought a ring according to his own diary. Yet this did not materialize. Later he decided to go to see the sister of his very good friend, Asa Walter Judd. This sister, Mary Gertrude Judd, had been mothering Asa's own two motherless children for some time. On June 25th, 1903 they were married in the St. George Temple. Over the next fourteen years eight children were born to this union, as follows: Clair Smith Cottam born April 19, 1904 ( he died at 14 ) Minerva - November 6, 1905 Twins: Lucile - August 28, 1907 Leila - August 28, 1907 Thelma - March 17, 1910 Owen - February 23, 1912 Naomi - December 12, 1914 Gertrude - April 29, 1917

Because I am one of the twins, I should tell this incident, I'm told that Mary had plans of going to college before Leila and I came to town and when we came she went to her friends, the Carters, crying that now she couldn't go to school because Aunt Gertrude had twins. I hope she didn't hold this against us twins forever. Our life in St. George in those times was very quiet. Not plagued by the extreme hardship of the earlier pioneers and not yet feeling the pressures of our modern day hustle and bustle. I can remember even the first car that came to town. In the summer time we children took turns herding the cows on the foot of the Red Hill just above where we lived. The Red Hill was also our playground. What pleasant memories I have of sleeping on the screen porch in the summertime and feeling the cool breeze and listening to the evening overture - spashing water tumbling down the hill, the crickets and other creatures chirping their constant tune to the accompaniment of the bull frog. Our family was very devout, our parents taught us good virtuous principles and demonstrated what they taught. We loved to sing as a family. I remember that even at that early time mother spoke of the church authorities requesting that parents have home evenings with their families. It wasn't a structured family home evening as it has been more recently but was very worth while. Our family had several songs that seemed to be just our songs, "Dear Heart," "Down By The River," and "You and I." Of course we sang others also but these seemed to be traditional. Father's melodious voice would lead out until we children could sing the melody then he sang bass; mother sang alto and played the accompaniment on the organ or piano. This kind of home evenings with papa sometimes telling missionary or other stories was the way we enjoyed each other or invited relatives or friends who were visiting to join us. Another favorite family entertainment was reading. There was no worry then about seeing or hearing things detrimental to young minds. Father kept up with the news and the church magazines. He read them aloud to mother and the rest of us. We also enjoyed going to the library and getting fine books which the family enjoyed together. For many years I couldn't really gain the fullest joy from good reading unless I could share it with others. We always ate our meals together and each morning and evening the chairs were turned with the backs to the table where we knelt in prayer and family members took their turn at praying, even the younger ones, perhaps five or six years of age or maybe younger. Yes, it was a good life, a financial strain on father I'm sure but we children or most of us were not very much aware of this. Some stories about papa are revealing of his character. Owen tells of the time in the early days of St. George when money was not too plentiful, it was customary for men to have the opportunity of working out their poll tax. Papa was one of those who was working out his tax at this time. His brother George Cottam was the one supervising the work. Because of this papa was given a rather difficult assignment as compared with what the other men were doing. Observing this one of the men commented, "Well, if my brother was in charge of this job I'd have an easier job than what you are doing." Father's quick response was, "Not if you. were a Cottam you wouldn't." Another account given of a time when Owen was working at the Tabernacle preparing to replace the plaster that was covering the underside of the circular stairs at the front of the building. He was very impressed with the beauty of the wood that was under the plaster. He went home one evening to report to father how beautiful it was and how he felt that it should be left showing instead of plastering it. Said he, "There isn@t a piece of wood in it over sixteen inches long." "I know it," was his reply. "How do you know it?" was the question. "I put it there myself," was father's answer. Yes indeed, he was a skilled craftsman. He was also a perfectionist. Because of this sometimes his work seemed to progress slower than others. As a child Owen witnessed this happening: There was a certain townsman who liked to walk past where papa was putting up a new home; he would watch for a few minutes and then shake his head and walk on. One day he stopped to talk and said, "I have to apologize to you, Charles Cottam." "Why?" father answered, "I never knew of you doing or saying anything that you needed to apolo- gize for." "I've been watching your construction work go up and also the work of two men down the street who are building a house also. Their's seemed to be going much faster than yours and I've been telling folks that you are the slowest man in town. Now they are tearing theirs down to do it over. Yours is still going well." The finest homes and many important buildings of that time were done under his supervision. Many of them were also planned by him. I've seen town folk come to our home to consult him regarding the planning of their home the way they wanted it, with his know-how to make it most economical and functional as well as pleasing to the eye. Many are the mornings I have awakened to the sweet sound of his humming as he sat at his drawing board planning these homes. That must have been among his most pleasurable hours of work. The old Dixie College Administration building that stands on the south side of the block on which the Tabernacle stands was quite a challenge as it was being built--especially the steel girders that were in the roof. Uncle Thomas was the building superintendent; father of course was working there and was the one who could read the blue prints. It appeared that there must be a mistake made in sending the steel girders. Papa took the plans home over night and came back with the answer to how to do it. Papa's council if heeded would help his family greatly. One experience of his is worth repeating that has to do with holding a grudge. This no doubt happened while he was living in Salt Lake at or about the turn of the century. He was working on a job with several other men and work was scarce and hard to get. He was working where he had to stoop over to pound nails under a roof. When his nails ran out he stood up for a minute to straighten out his back before replenishing his supply of nails and just at that moment his boss came by and fired him without giving him a chance to say anything about it. Naturally he was very hurt and bitter. He needed the work badly and this was very unjust. The more he thought about it the worse he felt. He would avoid the boss on the street and his bitterness grew. One day he decided that he was not hurting the boss or anyone else but himself and that he must go to him and make things right. He did purposely meet the man on the street and shook hands with him and told him of how he had felt wronged but that he wanted to make things right. He found out that he was richly rewarded by the improvement in the way he felt and the improvement in human relations. One of my fond memories of father is of when I was a very small child. When I would cry he would sometimes say, "Wait a minute for me to get a cup to catch the tears." Or he might say, "Let me beat time for you. Is it four four time or is it three four time or just what rhythm is it?" Of course this would get me laughing and happy again. Papa was a very generous man, so generous that often times he was taken advantage of. Homes were built in St. George and some materials charged and even some labor that was never paid for. There may have been times when this happened because he put the record down on a piece of lumber and then the board was plained and the record lost. Widows were often not charged, at least the labor was not charged for. Other times he would say regarding some debt, "They have had sickness, I can't charge them only for the material." Folks have told Myrtle of instances when he would give them a five dollar gold piece when he knew that they had financial problems. He certainly treated others as he would like to be treated. He used to tell us children, "Let your word be your bond." And this was the way he lived. Everyone who knew him knew that his word was truly as good as any legal paper. He was scrup- ulously honest with his fellowman. In the fall of 1918, shortly before the Armistice for World War I was signed, a great tragedy struck the people of the United States--the great influenza epidemic. Schools, churches, and even businesses were closed down. In our own family, Clair was the first to get the disease. Then later all of the children had their turn. My mother and father worked frantically for his recovery, but on the 29th of October he drew his last laboured breath and went on to a better place. It was perhaps a year or so before my brother Clair's death, that my mother, being plagued with a persistent cough, went to a clinic for the purpose of diagnosing and detecting tuberculosis. My brother Owen tells of going as a small child with her and not being noticed, but that way, learning for himself what was happening. The doctor decided after much testing that she was a victim of "TB". She asked him what she could do for this condition but was told that medical science had no known cure for this disease and that she had about six months to live. Her reply was that she could not die as she had a family of children to rear and must live. Could he make no recommendations for what she might do? The answer was that raw eggs and getting close to the soil was thought to be helpful. t It was because of this condition that papa took up a homestead on Smith's Mesa. My father could not always be on the mountain to help with the farm work, but it was necessary for the family to be there as much as possible in order to prove up on the land. Mother and Owen and some of the others would spend the summers there and sometimes stay into the fall to harvest the crops. Father would have to keep at his carpenter work to bring in a living. How mother managed this hand plowing and hard work with only the help of children we don't know but we know that perhaps the therapeutic value of the soil and by faith and determination, mother overcame the dreaded TB and lived to a good old age. One September day when he was sixty-nine years old papa's regular working days came to an abrupt halt. He was operating the jointer and because others had used it and the blades were dull and he was in a hurry to prepare forms for a lighting project for the Temple, the short board that he was pushing over it was pulled down into the blades and his hand with it. He grabbed and held the belt until Owen could run to his assistance and thr'ow off the power switch. Because of this he lost that one hand up to the wrist. We watched him closely lest this great shock might be too much for him, however, he came through it and still did a limited amount of carpentry work. With a nail against the hammer he would start it and then he would go on pounding it in. I treasure very much a chest of drawers that he made for me in this way. Usually mother supplied the other hand for him. She was always by his side to comfort and assist him. . Mother and father grew closer and more affectionate as the years went on. Many commen- ted on what a loving couple they were. I'm grateful for their devotion and the example to their family. Late in life they went to California where Naomi and Bill were and while there, had the opportunity of visiting Aunt Hilda, Aunt Beata's sister and her daughter Bessie. It was while visiting with them that there was a recording made of papa and mama singing together, accompanied by mother. Because of this we now have the treasure of a recording of their voices, singing and a few spoken words. The songs were, "Dear Heart" and "You and I. " As his life drew to a close his thoughts centered upon his children and descendants and their eternal welfare. He gave us at that time this beautiful document:


I realize that my time here will not be long at the most and I desire that I can leave something with my children and loved ones that will be of lasting benefit to them. If I can inspire them to seek after the most worthwhile things in life I will be happy. I fear we give too little attention to that which will be of the greatest and most lasting importance to us and spend most of our time for that which is just for gratifying our appetites and carnal desires. Here are some thoughts I feel, if put into our daily lives, will contribute to the maximum of joy, and the minimum of sorrow. Do not waste your time. Work towards some definite goal. Seek to make your lives worthwhile. Strive to make the world better for your living in it. Seek to learn the truth and live by it. Always stand by principle. Never sacrifice principle for expedi- ency. Give full value for what you receive. Let your word be your bond. Avoid the company and the contaminating influence of those who use vulgar or obscene language. Never miss an opportunity to do good. Treat others as you would like to be treated. We are our brother's keeper so avoid saying anything that might give offense. This thought is expressed in the song "Nay Speak No 111; a Kindly Word Can Never Leave a Sting Behind." Never put off till tomorrow what should be done today. Each day brings its problem. If we have anything to do which we dread, and if we go ahead and do it, we will find that the actual task was not nearly as hard as the dread of it. Be thankful for the chance we are given to work. The harder the task the more chance for development. He who would take life easy does not advance. Seek to let noble motives actuate us in every walk of life, seeking the welfare of our fellow men as much as our own. Honor and sustain those in a -uthority in church and nation. Avoid unjust criticism, especially those in the Priesthood. Never fail to pay your tithing promptly as you receive it for the earth is the Lord's and we are merely stewards. Study the gospel of Jesus Christ. Live its principles and teach its doctrines. There are two powers in the world. One is the spirit of God which prompts us to do good and righteous deeds. This brings joy and satisfaction. The other is the power of evil which brings sorrow and remorse. In raising a family, a husband and wife will likely have to adjust to one another and each should do his part in striving to make a success of his family life by getting each other's counsel. Parents should start to teach and train their children while the children are still in their infancy. They should teach the children the principles of faith and they should be taught to pray. The most effective teaching is by example. Love should be the greatest factor in the home. It should be the greatest factor in life. Jesus said, "The greatest commandment, is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Love should characterize all of the acts of our lives. Where love abounds, selfishness has no place. We love most those for whom we are willing to do most and sacrifice most. "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son; that whomsoever believeth on Him, would have everlasting life." Our greatest concern then should he to seek to get the love of God in our heam so that we will have no place in our souls for bitterness and hatred of our fellows - only hatred for their evil ways. No one can hold ill feelings without it cankers his soul. If we love God, we endeavor to keep his commandments; and those which were given on Mt. Sinai - known as the Ten Commandments, are just as binding today as they were when given. Those commandments are given for the benefit of people and the observance of those laws will bring a blessing; one cannot break any of them without doing himself harm. We should endeavor to observe them in the spirit and meaning of them. The Sabbath is intended as a day of worship and rest, not as a day to carry on ordinary labors, but a day when our spiritual strength can he renewed. I would like to bear you my testimony and impress you with the fact that this church, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not just another denomination of Christendom, but that it is indeed the true Church of Christ; and that the Gospel it teaches has the stamp of divinity - every principle of it. And if one lives it, he will have the witness of its truth, and will bring real joy to his soul by doing so.

1880 US Census Edit

1880 US Household Census for Cottam family in St. George, Utah.



 Name  Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father's BirthplaceMother's Birthplace
Thos. COTTAM   Self   M   Male   W   59   ENG   Turner   ENG   ENG 
Caroline COTTAM   Wife   M   Female   W   59   ENG   Keeping House   ENG   ENG 
Thos. P. COTTAM   Son   S   Male   W   22   UT   Plasterer   ENG   ENG 
Charles S. COTTAM   Son   S   Male   W   18   UT   Carpenter   ENG   ENG 



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