Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Autobiography of John Herbert Wessman, Part 3 of 5

I wanted to help as much as possible, so I went to work for the Western Union Telegraph as a messenger. From the first I done well. I averaged $5.00 a day tips, which was big money those days, and from 5 to 60 dollars a month wages. My brothers went to school and my mother went to work in the Salt Lake Temple. I often think what this meant to both of us, and I thank god for this mother for she was a jewel among women. She started me on the road to success and Church, and I will never forget some of the things she told me. I want to relate an incident that happened. She was not well and one day, the President of the Temple and one of his counselors administered to here, and in the prayer she was told she would be shown what to do to regain her health. One afternoon I came home, she had boiled some potatoes. I noticed she had trouble in peeling them. I said “mother, why don’t you cook them longer”. Her answer “this is the way I was told to do”. By obeying that simple remedy, she was instantly cured and worked in the temple for 42 years – first 20 years not a day was lost when the temple was open.

About this time I started to think of working at some things for a future for me. I could not finish school, so I got a job at the Salt Lake Drug Co. Very small pay, but found in would be something for the future. I went to work inside to get acquainted with medicines. Nelden Judson offered me more money. Later, Smith Farrs Drug co offered me more money, then I went to work for Schsamm Johnson, and they put me to work in a retail store, and I picked up things pretty fast. They put me in as a pharmaceutical apprentice. About this time I met Ruby Durrant and we were married February 10, 1904 in the Salt Lake temple. Our oldest son Herbert was born January 20th, 1905 in Salt Lake City. I came near losing both my wife and baby, she was in labour for two nights and a day. Two years afterward, my son Frank was born, December 23, 1907 or 1908. Then we got a baby girl (Lois) about 2 ½ years after Frank. Frances was born here in Salt Lake City and we moved to Rigby Idaho. I went to work at City Pharmacy. By this time I had 4 children, and my expenses were getting bigger all the time, so I decided to do something about it.

There was a druggist that had two drug stores. His druggist in one of the stores quit him, and the store was for sale, so I went to a banker at Rigby. He loaned me $1000. I bought the store at Ucon, Idaho and paid for the stock and building in 3 years. In the meantime, I had to get registered. I had been studying and had taken a correspondence course, so I took the board of Pharmacy exam in Albion and passed by 93%. Wanda was born in Ucon. About that time my Father in law had a grocery store in Salt Lake City. He was not doing too much there, so we paid up his accounts and moved the balance of the stock to Ucon. During the flu epidemic of 1917-1918, I was given a physicians license to practice medicine, and I had quite a job. I had what the Doctor’s called the ‘black flu’, the only case in that territory. This man came to me at 5 pm. He said “Herb, I have the flu, and I know it is going to get me”. I told him not to worry and gave him the best I had, and not to worry. Two hours afterward I was called to his home. He had a raging fever. I went back 2-3 hours later and he was unconscious. A black fluid came from his stomach and kept choking him. I knew – here was something unusual, more so than pneumonia. I called Dr. Kline, who was a noted Surgeon at Idaho Falls…it is a very unusual case. He said move the family out and have two men stay with him. At midnight we had to turn him, for he was choking, a black fluid came in his mouth. We worked with him all night, and at 5 O’clock he died. The only case of Black Flu in that territory. It was a terrible experience. It was here in Ucon that my daughter Wanda was born.

I want to relate a fishing trip that my brother Joseph and I went on the North fork of the Snake river, between the upper and lower mesa falls. The river was very low that year. The attendant at the lodge said fishing was good there and if we could get across the river, there could get plenty of fish. We didn’t have a boat so we decided to wade, so I took the lead. The water was almost up to the arm pits as we started to cross. There was something in the river that made a wave as it swam upstream. I thought it was a beaver as we couldn’t see anything on the surface. I said to Joseph “do you think we ought to go?” We talked it over and decided to cross, as we were nearer the other side. We got across all ok and decided to fish below the lower falls. It fell about 60 feet, the upper falls nearly 400 feet. I stepped, threw out my line, immediately a big trout grabbed it. I landed him, he weighed 6 ¾ pounds. Joseph got one that weighed 2 ½ lbs. I threw out again and got one that weighed 7 ¼ pounds, so I just waited. Joseph got several small ones. I said, “Joe, I’ll throw in once more” and landed another, he weighed 7 ¾ pounds. We had a hard time to land him. We had more than our limit and decided to call it quits. When we got to camp, I asked the caretaker what it was that made that wave, he said “it is a big Sturgeon, see that cable? We are going to bait it with meat, I think we can do it.” Later I read in the paper that they got it. It was a Sturgeon, it weighed over 900 pounds. My only sport was fishing and I took time off for that. I have had many unusual experiences in the wilds of Idaho.

Pictures from Flickr: Salt Lake Temple (midiman) and historic Idaho (

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