Josephine E. Hickman Finlayson
Oct. 12, 1930
To My Dear Children
If any there be living in 1980.
If not to my eldest granddaughter in Utah, belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to you I write: and the desire of my heart and my most earnest prayers are that my children and children’s children to the latest generation shall keep the faith of their Pioneer Ancestors, as have we their children.
I, Josephine E. Hickman Finlayson, having been requested to write a brief history of my life or a letter to you to be placed in the "Jubilee Box" of the Relief Society of Provo 5th Ward, sincerely pray I may write something of interest, inspiration, or encouragement to you, my dear ones and thru this letter give you a desire to be true to yourselves, the Church and its leaders, and cultivate the seeds of faith that your ancestors have implanted in you.
I was born at Salem, Utah, 28th October 1859, and as Nephi of old, can say, "Of goodly parents", ---George W. Hickman and Lucy Ann Hawes, Pioneers of 1852, who went thru many testing and trying scenes: yet proved faithful to end of life.
My father was an educated man. A Doctor of Medicine & Surgery, who was not prepared to cope with frontier conditions. My mother had but little schooling, but her great desire to gain knowledge was ever with her and she imbibed much during her lifetime. She was a very loving and lovable character: "A Princess of the Royal House of Joseph," her Patriarchal blessing said.
When I was seven years old my parents moved to Benjamin on to my father’s homestead. I can now more fully realize their many sacrifices: poverty and disappointments in results. There I grew to womanhood. My opportunity for schooling was very poor indeed. My dear mother teaching us as best she could with her limited knowledge: but she struggled all her life to educate her children. When I was fourteen years old I was sent to Provo to school for one year, to attend Timpanogus University as then called, later Brigham Young Academy, having been formed by him, with Carl G. Maeser at its hear, which at this time is a University. A wonderful institution for the education of the youth of Zion: and many young men and women not of our faith are sent here, as the school is recognized as a wonderful character builder.
I spoke of being sent to Provo to school, let me here relate my first real knowledge, that God hears and answers our prayers. Two of my cousins with whom I had grown up were to be sent to Provo to school. Their parents had wealth. Mine were poor, and I knew it would be impossible for them to send me. But oh! How I longed to go with them. I was very sad, and as the days passed with their much preparation, I grew more sorryful, but I spoke no word to my parents about it. I did not want to grieve them so I kept my feelings secret. A few days before opening of school, I slipped out and went down in the lot behind the hay stacks and cried so bitterly.
After a while, I thought of praying. Immediately I kneeled down by the side of the stack, of sweet clean new hay and told my Father how I wanted to go to school and of my desires, and all my troubles, and I said "Is there no way I can go to school?"
Well, when I had finished I felt so relieved and resigned: peace came to my soul. I went back to the house, but said nothing to anyone. Only me and my Heavenly Father knew. Two days later, my mother received a letter from her nephew in Provo, saying, "Aunt Lucy Ann, let Josephine come and stay with us and go to school; she can help with the work and we will be glad to have her: I do not know why we have not thought of it before."
When my mother told me and asked me if I would like to go, my joy and gratitude was more than a little girl of fourteen could express.
I knew without doubt that God had seen my tears and heard and answered my prayers; and all down thru these years that testimony has not been shaken.
I went again to Provo in 1881 [and] was under that great teacher Carl G. Maeser one year. In 1882 I was married to Fredrick J. Finlayson of Payson, Utah; in [the] Endowment House at Salt Lake City. [He was] a young man of good character and of fine parentage. He was called handsome hav[ing] large dark brown eyes and brown hair and good features: Six feet tall, weighing 193 lbs. His was a very genial Disposition. Oh! How I loved him; and how he loved me—as a girl, as a wife and as a mother of his children.
I was small: average weight 110 lbs., height 5 ft. 3 in., eyes deep blue and light brown hair, which was golden when younger: Now at 71 years has commenced to turn grey.
We are the parents of 9 children. One a still born little girl. The others, 3 daughters and 5 sons, are all living, and all married but youngest son Bliss, who is now in Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia Pa.
August, 1907, we moved from Payson to Provo to place our children in B.Y. University.
We had boarded two older girls there before that time, but when four was to go at once we had to move there.
All of our children have been students of this great school, for which I am very thankful.
My husband died 9th Dec. 1928 after long illness; high blood pressure and partial paralysis.
It seemed like the light and life of the world had gone out: I could hardly rise above it.
Fifty years we had been companions: four years of school and courtship and forty six years of married life—how could I now adjust myself?—well, soon as I could I took up my temple work again, also genealogy and research which I had been working on for years as much as I could. I shall round out my life in working for my dead if my Father gives me health to do so.
Where could I find a finer group of in-laws? All are highly respected and are good clean men and women.
My children are my pride and joy of my heart: my love for them is more than they will ever know.
No better children to their parents can be found.
I should write something of myself to you my dear grandchildren, but so little have I accomplished it is hardly worth while: except the rearing and training a family of eight children to manhood and womanhood, which I do feel I have not shirked or fallen down in. I have had many compliments about my children, and once a Prof. from University came to me and asked what I attributed my success to in raising my children. I looked at him and said "I do not know, unless it is because I love them and make home pleasant for them."
He said "There is your secret!" So dear children, remember that love is the mightiest force in the world.
I have been a Relief Society teacher 40 years. Now Supervisor over teachers in Provo 5th Ward.
Served as Pres. Of Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Asso. In Provo 6th Ward from 1908 to 1910. Served as genealogical teacher in Provo 5th Ward from 1910 to 1912, and have been an officer in that society (Genealogical) for 18 years, in different positions.
I have organized on Family and two surname organizations.
The Pease, Hickman and (my line) Hawes, and have had much satisfaction from what has been accomplished.
I served as "Aid" on Stake Board of M.I. Assoc. two years in Eureka Ward Ut. Stake, from 1901 to 1902, until we moved home to Payson.
Served as Pres. Of Y.L.M.I. Assoc. in McGill Ward Nev. From 1916 to 1918. My husband was in the Bishopric there at the time.
When the first organization of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers was formed I was chosen Registor of A.O. Smoot Camp, holding that position two years.
I am now 1st Vice Pres. Of Camp No. 5, Daughters Ut. Pioneers.
Have been hostess this week to that camp. Served ice cream, pineapple pie and punch (fruit juices).
We have always kept the word of wisdom in our home and our children are following our example, and I hope you my dear grand children will keep this law of our church and be partakers of its blessings.
It will seem like one speaking from the dust when you read this but I shall bear you my testimony, that I know that God Lives: that he has again revealed his Gospel to us in this day and age.
I know of its truth and have been a partaker of its many blessings.
I know for myself, as you can know, if you so desire, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the living God, and thru him has the Church of Jesus Christ been again established on earth, never again to be overthrown or given to another people.
I beg of you—one and all—to hold fast to the principles of life and salvation; I pray that you, my dear children and grand children to the latest generations, shall be standard bearers in the Church of our God.
Uphold and sustain the Church authorities, and keep all the laws; hearken always to the council given by them, for it is thru them that God speaks to you: Question it not; or speak against; but if doubt should come in to your mine bow yourself before your Heavenly Father and ask for light, and if it be true; and you will know and feel of the assurance of it. But let me say, you will never doubt if you are living up to your covenants and doing your best to live right.
There is so much I would like to write you, but this must go now to be sealed up. I will not have time to copy or correct what I have written, but my dearly beloved children, you will get my message if you read it in same spirit that I have written it.
I want it to be one of love and truth and I pray that Our Father will let his Spirit accompany this message to you; that you may feel its influence all thru your life.
To you Bliss if you are yet living, do I dedicate this letter and my testimony: you will be seventy six years old.
I cannot visualize you as an old man; who is now in your young manhood; a fine good faithful clean and loving son. How I love you and all my dear children.
God was so good to us in sending us such noble spirits. Keep the faith of your youth until life shall end.
At this date your brother Birdwell has served as Bishop six years, and as councilor some years previous. Your sister Lisle has served as Primary Pres. Several years, then the past seven years as Relief Society Pres. Hazel has served as Pres. Of Young Ladies Asso. Several years, now Sec. To Relief Society Organization in 31st Ward, Salt Lake City. Lisle served in LeGrand Ward, Salt Lake City.
Leon in different offices, but I must stop now, and write a few lines to my two eldest grand children, who are just as near and dear to me as my own: Max and Aerron Graham, children of my eldest daughter Lisle.
They know of my great love for them, and I know of their pure clean lives. How beautiful you are today in form and feature, but your greatest beauty is in your characters.
I marvel at the talents that are yours, and rejoice to know how you are developing them. What you may become with all your opportunities I cannot comprehend now. If you will keep in the path you are treading today, nothing will hinder your progress and how pleased your parents will be and how much good can you accomplish among the youth of Zion.
Your dear mother, was a most beautiful woman, not alone in feature but in character, and you are in her likeness. Be true as steel, and may it be said of you "A worthy son and daughter of a most worthy mother and father."
I would like to mention each of grand children, my two little ones who live close by me, Dorothy V. and Janice Hedquist, my daughter Vina’s children who are so loving and kind who are continually coming with something for grandma. Such lovely children. Then there are Lloyd’s beautiful family of the dearest children, Hazel’s one daughter Edna Lisle, Birdwell’s three fine daughters. Yes I received a telegram that the fourth daughter had arrived. Glen’s little daughter who may yet read what Grandma writes. To you all I send my message of love and my blessings.
I shall watch over you, I am sure, and many times be near you and see you, yet you may not discern me. Oh! How I pray God may bless and keep you thru the testing scenes of your lives. I have had my trials and temptations, you will have yours.
You must be strong and determined if you overcome the evil powers that seek to destroy you and the work of Jesus Christ Our Redeemer.
Now I say goodbye until we meet in Heaven: I shall be waiting and watching for you.
Your Mother and Grandmother
(Signed) Mrs. Josephine H. Findlayson
P.S. I trust that all my grandchildren will have opportunity to read my letter.
In my haste I did not mention my son Leon’s five beautiful children. I think there could not be found a finer lot of grandchildren—27 boys and girls in the whole world; or am I boasting?
Our children’s records can be found, but I will here give you their names and who they married, just to acquaint you, my dear grandchildren, about them.
Ada Lisle married Leyland Graham
Ella Vina married Alexander Hedquist
Edna Hazel married Harrison Jenkins
Fred Lloyd married Amie Taylor
A granddaughter of Pres. John Taylor
Leon D. married Claris Erickson
Birdwell married Jessie Leone Smith
Glen Arden married Mita Wettstein
Bliss L. will marry Ruby Bryner
A daughter of Patriarch Bryner.