Franklin Ivan Pomeroy Autobiography (version 1)

[Transcribed 13 Sep 2009 by Dayna Jacobs, from the original manuscript which was written by Franklin Ivan Pomeroy, undated.  Spelling has been corrected.]

Page 1)

Franklin Ivan Pomeroy

I was born January 26, 1894 in Mesa Arizona.  My parents were Franklin Thomas Pomeroy and Sophia Isadora Morris Pomeroy both of whom had come to Mesa as small children by their parents who were among the Mormon Pioneers who had founded and settled Mesa.

A brief word about my grandparents.  My paternal grandfather—Francis Martin Pomeroy had an adventurous life.  His father had remarried after the death of his mother and he had been sent to live with an uncle who was a farmer in New England area. His uncle was a hard taskmaster and they did not get along too well and he ran away and went to sea when he was a youth of 16—He was on a whaling ship, in itself a rough place for a young man but he had ambitions to become a professional mariner and a s the years passed he was promoted to a second mate and then a first mate on the ship.  On a voyage around the horn and up the Pacific Coast of South America was in a violent storm.  The Ship wrecked off the coast of Peru and he was the only survivor. He was picked up nearly dead by a family who found him unconscious on the shore.  They brought him back to life and he lived with them for a time on their cattle ranch during which he learned to speak Spanish fluently.  Tiring of that kind of life he made his way back to the US and New England and found employment in a saw mill where he met


and married the daughter of the owner.  She had recently become a member of the newly organized Mormon Church headed by Joseph Smith, and Francis Martin soon joined the church also.  They moved with other members from New York area westward and settled finally in Ohio with other LDS members as farmers.  After the martyrdom of Joseph Smith they joined the first company under Brigham Young and set out on the long trip across the plains to Salt Lake area moving after a few years to a new colony in Idaho but the extremely cold winters and cold weather were too severe for his arthritis and they then moved to Arizona in 1878 with a LDS group who settle in what is now the Mesa area and started the town of Mesa in 1878.  He died soon after when my father was 12 years old.

My maternal grandfather Hyrum Bolds [Bowles] Morris had a somewhat similar adventurous life.  He left his home in Kentucky as a young man and travelled west across the plains to California in the gold rush.  He prospected and found gold in the area east of Sacramento which was a bustling frontier town.  Making a modest stake he then made his way back by boat to Panama and across the isthmus to the Atlantic side and then to New Orleans by boat and up the Mississippi river to Kentucky where he settled and bought  a farm.  He met and married Eleanor Roberts who had recently joined the newly organized Mormon Church.


The Mormons were objects of persecution by a lot of their neighbors and so Hyrum and Eleanor sold their farm and joined one of the companies of LDS members who were leaving for Salt Lake City.  They  made the long trip, Hyrum for the second time across the plains arriving in Salt Lake City in 1852 where they found Salt Lake City overcrowded with people and so they moved out into he area south on the border of Arizona and Utah where they settled on the Virgin River and took up farming.  They had recurring problems with the Ute and Paiute Indians who systematically raided the small settlements driving off cattle and horses.  They raised garden______ which they moved by wagon to the nearest towns of St. George and Kanab.  Hearing about the new settlements in Arizona they moved via a route they pioneered down the Virgin River to its mouth then across the Colorado River and south across the desert to Wickenburg—south to the salt River Valley—Phoenix was a small western town then and they joined the LDS pioneer group at Mesa where Hyrum became a ____ farmer and one of the early settlers about 1880.  There are two streets in Mesa now named after my grandparents POMEROY and MORRIS.

My grandfather Pomeroy died in his early 60s of a heart attack and I never knew him. My grandmother Pomeroy lived to a ripe old age and lived near our home.


My father Franklin Thomas Pomeroy grew up in the small town of Mesa.  He was of a small stature and was a cowboy and rider working for cattle ranchers who ran cattle on the desert east to the foothills around Superstition Mountain. The Apache Indians had been pacified and settled on reservations at Fort McDowell NE of Mesa and Fort Apache farther east.  The Apaches were warlike and roving types and for several years there were small bands of Apaches who would leave the reservations and maraud thru the area south to Mexico where they had friends among the Chiracow and other Indian types—My father rode in the many horse races that were part of the celebrations on holidays.  He went over the trail to Payson to ride in races.  He had several brushes with roving groups of Apaches but was able to outrun them and escape.  The Papago and Pima Indians of the area near Mesa and south were a different type of Indian who were traditionally friendly to the white men and on several occasions took up arms to help repulse the raids by the Apaches and Navajo tribes.  My father wanted an education and as a young man went up to salt Lake City where he took a business course in one of the academies. He met and married my mother and settled down in Mesa, but he was called on a mission shortly after my birth and was absent for nearly 3 years during which my mother and I lived with my grandfather Morris at their home on West First Ave. in Mesa.


Grandfather Morris was a tr____ farmer. He had made a living by raising vegetables and selling them locally and mostly by hauling them to Superior, a mining settlement about 50 miles east of Mesa. This involved a trip by horse and wagon across the desert into the foothill of the mountains.  It was a hard life full of labor but he was very __in all of his operations.  He was a large man, over 6 feet tall and quite heavy in stature.  He had followed the same life in Utah after their trip across the plains they had found Salt Lake City becoming crowded with thousands of “Saints” who were anxious to settle in a place far from the persecutions they had met from their neighbors who could not accept the teachings and way of life of the hated Mormons.  President Brigham Young was advising his people to move and settle in every direction away from Salt Lake City.  Grandfather Morris chose to move south down into the Virgin River Valley along the border of Utah and Arizona.  They took up land in this region in an area later named Rockville. He raised tr___ products and also sold them to other small communities—St. George to the north and Kanab to the east.  They were harassed by raiding Ute and Piute Indians who stole their stock and murdered the scattered settlers—and this was a hard life.  But the Mormon pioneers were used to a hard life and dug a meager living out of these harsh surroundings.


My father’s mission lasted about three years.  It was in the states of Mississippi and Georgia.  He was traveling without “Purse or Scrip”  which meant his living expenses were what small amounts his family could send him plus the hospitality of the people to whom he was preaching and converting to the church.  I do not remember much of these years as I was only about 2 years old.  I remember money was scarce and we all scrimped and saved what we could.  It was a way of life that we grew to accept as normal.

I do remember my mother teaching me to save my nickels to buy a Bible for my father for a Christmas gift.  When he returned he was a strange man to me.  I remember only a few incidents that happened during my stay at grandfather’s house.  He dad a large lot that lay between Morris Street and the Chandler Road and extended from 1st Ave. south to 2nd Ave.  An irrigation ditch ran down the west side of the lot which provided irrigation water for his place which covered several acres and included a corral where he kept a cow and a pen in which he raised several pigs.  He butchered his hogs and cured the hams in a smoke house that also included a small cellar.  I remember that when he was butchering a pig the other pigs would put up a terrific clamor—the squeals


Ivan as a child

still ring in my ears. He also had a large chicken yard and one of my tasks was to help my grandmother gather the eggs every night.  He had another adobe building that was a granary where he kept sacks of corn and other grains and this was an area I kept away from as on occasion some large yellow snakes would get in the granary and steal the eggs laid by the hens.  These snakes were not poisonous but to my childish eyes were quite terrific and I did not venture anywhere near them.  Grandpa had a woodpile out back where he kept wood hauled in from the desert or purchased from Indians who used to come to Mesa on weekends to sell their wood and produce raised on their small farms down on their reservation a few miles north along Salt River.  Grandfather was a kindly man. He was a man who weighed about 250 pounds, had a large white beard, wore a big black slouched hat. One old Indian named HoSanta was a frequent visitor.  He sold produce which he carried in a burlap sack slung over his shoulder.  He would arrive at our house about meal time and after a _____ with grandfather would exchange what produce he had not been able to sell for lunch. They always made a friendly bargain although we had a garden which grew a lot of produce and certainly didn’t need to buy


any more.  My grandfather’s house was a central room with adobe walls with other rooms built like lean-to sheds which had been added over the e years.  My grandmother was a small wrinkled person always wearing a gingham apron.  She was a very frugal person who never wasted a penny and kept everything spotless in her house.  The central room was called the “Front Room” and had her cherished things in it, including an organ which had come with them from Utah. Her frugality was a way of life as she had been on the frontier since her early marriage, and had lived away from civilization and stores.  She would habitually pickup pins, needles and bits of string and keep them for there was always a use for everything.

Ivan and Karl

I remember that when I was about 4 years old the Indian, HoSanta brought me a gift—a bow and arrow set he had made for me.  My grandfather also made me a slingshot or “flipper” made with rubber bands and the fork of a tree limb and I was well armed for any occasion. One time I was watching him cut kindling at the woodpile and as he bent over to pick up some kindling I could not forego the target and I  let him have it in the seat of his pants with my flipper.  He let out a huge


roar and leaped over in the woodpile and I went away from there and was in hiding until he cooled off.

A man came riding by our place one afternoon that my grandfather had known slightly.  He was a cowboy from the north part of the state.  He wore a gun belt with a couple of pistols.  He asked my grandfather if he might stay overnight as he was going south looking for work.  Grandfather said yes if he would sleep on the floor—so he was bedded down in the “front room” in the morning I incautiously intruded into the “front room” and this man leaped off his blanket with a gun in each hand and really scared me—and I ran out screaming. Then grandfather told him he better move on.  He name was Zack Booth and he was apprehended by the sheriff down toward Tuc[s]on on a charge of murder, as he had been involved in a shooting match up around Payson to the north.

When my father returned from his mission he went to work for a general store which had been established in Mesa.  He was a bookkeeper and worked for this store several years until he had saved enough money to open his own store.  My brother Karl was born in 1898.  My father had bought a  strip of land across on the north side of 1st Ave. and built a house on it for his family which had among other things a soda fountain, something new in Mesa.


He made his own ice cream and changed the soda water tank by putting the soda water in it as he rocked it on a cradle like affair and let the gas into it from a small tank.

I used to drive around the area with a horse and buggy and sell ice cream cones.  A

As I grew up in the small town of Mesa I started school at about the age of 7.  My mother had taught me to read and write at home starting when I was about 5 and I had developed a liking for reading so I progressed rapidly thru several grades the first year and found I had a liking for arithmetic and history.  My father was a devout Mormon and had several important positions of leadership in the LDS (or Mormon as it was commonly know). As the town of Mesa was founded by a group of Mormon settlers in 1878, the church was an important influence in our lives and the inhabitants were either members or classed into the other groups who did not belong to the church.  In the beginning there were few amusements other than those that the people could make for themselves.  One of these was “home” dramatic plays. The church approved these and had built an amusement hall in which was a stage where those home shows were held as well as weekly dances.  Everyone was welcome, but they were closely supervised to make sure those attending kept the proprieties.


My father was ambitious, and industrious.  He opened another business a bicycle shop which flourished for several years.  He also opened a real estate and insurance business which he followed for many years.  When the Roosevelt Dam was proposed, he saw an opportunity to make a great deal of money by acquiring land which would greatly increase in value when ample irrigation was assured by the storage of water to and he invested all of his available cash in land most of which he bought by a small down payment and a mortgage.  The dam had a series of delays and storms washed out the work several times.  It also provoked a series of litigations over the apportionment of water in connection with water rights. All of these caused a delay  so he was unable to pay for the land and he gradually lost his original investments.

I finished grammar school and entered high school in 1909—when I was 15 years old.  I was small of stature and too little to be an athlete as I had no talent for athletics anyhow.  I had an illness that put me under a doctor’s care in my sophomore year and prevented my attendance for several months but I was able to finish High School with my original class.  I was one of four boys whose grades were all above 95% although I was not the valedictorian.  I had a flair for reading and writing poems—mostly of the jingles variety, which resulted in my being chosen the class poet.  One of my closest friends, a boy who shared the same birthday (but a year apart in age)


were influenced by one of our instructors to go to Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas and we went there in 1914.    My friend hoped to become a dentist and I wanted to be an architect.  I had always been good in Architecture and English and did well in college for the first and second semesters—Another student and myself opened a small lunch counter near the college but the business was not profitable and after a couple of months sold it to a man who moved all the equipment to another town and soon closed the business owing us several hundred dollars which we were never able to collect.  My folks were having a bad time financially and so I left school and went up into the north west part of Kansas to a farming area to sell books. “Pushing to the Front”  I found the farmers in the area where I was were having a dry year and were not interested in books and so I traded my sample set to a minister for ten days board and room and wired home for money to come back to Arizona.  My father had invested his cash and credit in land around Mesa.  The Roosevelt Dam had been started but completion was delayed by a succession of floods and other delays over water right ownership and he was unable to sell any of the land and gradually lost his small equity and realized no profit from his real estate business.  I went up to Superior, a copper mining town about 50 miles east of Mesa and found a job in a grocery


store run by an Armenian named Sam Abraham.  During the previous summer in Mesa I had joined the National Guard company there to go to summer field training period for 2 weeks and in 1916 this infantry company was mobilized with the regiment and ordered into active duty at Douglas, Arizona on the Mexican border.  I decided to go with them for life was humdrum in Superior, Arizona.  Pancho Villa had raided Columb, New Mexico and the United States was mounting an expedition to capture and punish him. All northern Mexico was in a turmoil and many of the Mexican inhabitants were restless and supported Villa as  a “Robin Hood” of Mexico. The U.S. feared further raids and mobilized several regiments of National Guard troops to protect the border while the expedition under the command of General John Perishing chased down Villa.

My regiment, the 1st Arizona Infantry was encamped at Douglas, Arizona in a temporary camp “Charles Jones” with several other National Guard regiments which had been hastily mobilized.  My regiment was moved out west and several detachments were spread along the border.  We found the Mexican population in Sonora were antagonistic and generally partisan to Villa.  Another factor now intruded—the 1st World War was starting in Europe and the US was concerned lest we be drawn into it as we eventually were.  My company “D” was moved up to Roosevelt Dam as there was fear that agents and supporters of Germany would destroy the dam. One battalion of the regiment was sent to  Ajo to guard the mines there against sabotage.  The remainder of the regiment was


encamped at Naco, Arizona on the border south of Bisbee, another mining area, to protect that area. About this time the expedition into Mexico had chased Villa down into an area where he had surrendered to the Mexican Government troops and was interned there.  My own regiment was commanded by a Colonel A.M. Tuthill who was a doctor in private life.  He believed in exercise and had developed a routine for his regiment of rigorous training that included a lot of hiking and physical exercise. I found this life to my liking—at the beginning I was rather underweight of small stature but I had a wiry body and found I could take any kind of training.  I had been promoted to 1st Class private, to corporal, and to platoon sergeant.  I had become an expert rifle and pistol rating and physically fit for this kind of life.  We had had no battle but many minor incidents with the Mexican population had turned us into a first class unit on a par with the similar units of the regular army.  In April of 1917 my company moved back to Naco where all the units of the regiment were re-assembling.  We were told we would be demobilized and returned to home stations and started to break camp and prepare for loading. We were in the midst of this when a message came from the Department Headquarters at Douglas with the information  that we are not being released as the 1st WW was imminent and we would shortly join and become a part of the 40th Division being assembled in Camp Kearney just north of San Diego.  Also General Pershing would inspect the


regiment that afternoon.

This was stunning news.  Also the unit was to be taken into the U.S. Army and all hands required to sign a Federal Service Oath.

General Pershing inspected the regiment that afternoon and announced we would leave shortly for Camp Kearney.  All hands were required to sign the new Federal Oath and those who did not would be discharged and sent home.  A great many did not sign the new oath and were discharged.  The rest of us who remained were moved by train to Camp Kearney shortly after the draft had come into law and a great many of those who had returned home found themselves drafted back into service.

We moved to Camp Kearney in August 1917 and found the 40th Division to be a California group of National Guard troops.  We were brought up to strength by new draftees and embarked on a winter of active training—this time with the prospect of active battle in the future.

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