Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Serenus (Sy) Gardner


My twin sister, Serena, and I were born on April 29, 1860, in the pioneer town of Spanish Fork, in an adobe house which had one room fourteen by sixteen feet. This house was west block of the grist mill built by my father in 1858.

About two years after I was born, we moved to the Big Meadow or Big Hay Ranch on the Jordan River, about three miles south of Riverton. The house we moved into was dup into the side of a hill. The front was enclosed with adobes. The wall were about six feet high with a dirt roof. Rene, my twin sister, and I could walk up the side of the bank onto the roof and play.

My father, being very busy building mills, seldom visited us. My mother, being the religious type, taught us children about our father in heaven. One day my father came to visit and she said to us, "This is your father."
I thought he was my father in heaven, not knowing that I had an earthly father as well.

One day Rene and I ran a race to a little mound. She beat me to the mound and stood on it. The though came to me then that she would always be higher than I, and she has always been a little taller.

There were two families, Cris and Croad, living down the Jordan River about a mile. One night mother went down there to attend to the sick. When I awoke, about one hour before daylight, I found that she was was not home, so I went after her. They gave me a piece of molasses candy, which I never forgot.

Erastus, my half brother, and Rene are the only ones in my family I remember in the early part of my life. During those few years Rene and I talked the Norwegian language. Mother could not talk English yet.

To hear my mother tell it, she had a pretty hard time for those first few years on the Jordan River. She would spin and make yarn. She would go out in the4 fields and glean while the boys would get fish from the river. This was kept up for about three years, then father took us back to Spanish Fork. He had a one seated buggy. In the back was a small box. I was sick so they put me in there, as we were passing the point of the mountain I looked out to see the deep round chasm. I remember the first impression of the chasm every time I pass there. I was six years old when we landed back in Spanish Fork.

Mother returned to the adobe house where I was born. A small room was added on to it.

I went to school to Professor Hillman. The school was one mile north, where the Ideal School was later built. As I remember there were about fifty houses in Spanish Fork when I started to school.

When we were little kids, we could stay out at night if we wanted to. The boys and girls seemed to take perfect freedom and we would play steal sticks and other games until very late at night. When I was eight to ten years of age, I milked cows, fed pigs, and snared the snowbirds. We had many meals of snowbirds during the cold winter. I remember this very well.

The hard times passed and we had plenty and some to spare when father built two mills, a planning mill and a grist mill. We went to the grist mill to get the flour we wanted.

Father got his big start so he could take care of his large family. Then he furnished Camp Floyd with flour and other cereals. He also furnished lumber and shingles from the planning mill. He took in return from his products tools, miles, wagons, etc. His stuff had to be hauled by way of Lehi.

When I was about eleven years of age, father let me drive one of his teams with the wagon loaded with provisions from his grist mill to Spanish Fork. We took the provisions to West Jordan to support his other families. One the way we camped to feed the mules. One of the boys pointed out to me where we once lived, so I watched for my chance, and when not one was looking I took off across the meadow to go there. They soon found out that I was gone so one of them came after me on a mule and took me back. I had gone a mile. We continued on to West Jordan with the provisions.

After a day or two, father took me up to the Little Cottonwood Canyon to his sawmill to go to work. In order to get the logs to the sawmill they had to bring them to a place on the side of the mountain about one-fourth of a mile above the bottom of the canyon. From that point we would start them down the slope and about two-thirds of them would roll down to the bottom about ten rods from the mill. About one-third of them would get caught on their way down, because there were stumps in the way. Some of the logs were broken into pieces.

Reuben was the sawyer and the boss, so he went up the side of the hill with me to show me how to dislodge the logs, to get them to roll down. He put a single tree on the horse and then a chain. We went to the highest log, put the hook on the chain on the highest log and then pulled the logs loose so they would roll again to the bottom. Then we would drag the logs to the mil. After he showed me how, I had to do this myself.

In 1872 Erastus and I went up to Nebo Canyon to an upright sawmill to get logs to build a house by the side of the home where mother lived. The old house was about to fall down. This house was the first house to be built with sawed logs. The house was finished in 1873.

Evan, my half brother, took a contract to furnish pickets for a fence to go around the public square. I helped him get the logs from which the pickets were cut. The spot where we cut the trees was about eight miles up Spanish Fork Canyon, which we called Lone Pine. Whiles we were working we ran out of food. Evan sent me down to get provisions, but mother only gave me bread to take back. The crops were a failure that year.

The next three or four years were the most impressive years of my life. I went hunting, fishing, played ball at school, and had a very good time.

The New Survey School was about three miles from home. I would go hunting two or three times a week. On these trips we would walk from five to ten miles a day, especially when it was raining or snowing, for that was the best time to shoot ducks and geese. Once, I estimated, there were at least fifty thousand ducks and geese on these sixteen square miles. With our poor guns and ammunition we managed to bring home enough meat to supply us with some to spare. I remember rightly the feathers were made into feather beds and pillows to help us keep warm.

I helped to build an adobe house in Leland where we moved when I was fourteen years old. This was in 1874.

In my fifteenth year I lived with my brother Neil. We would work eight hours a day, then after work we went hunting and fishing. Many times I walked ten miles down the river in the rain and snow and waded through ponds in the New Survey, often coming home late at night loaded with game. I seemed to never tire of hunting.

While I lived with Neil, I helped build a new home. I also helped my brother Henry build a home which is still in good living condition. Following this I built a a house near Henry's in my seventeenth year. I sold it to Warren Davis.

George Gardner and I, during the winter semester, went to the Brigham Young Academy in 1879. We rented a house and boarded ourselves. I will relate one experience while in Brother Maeser's classroom. The pupils in the classroom stood in a row, then a name was drawn from a box and that person was asked to read from a book. After the reading the reader would tell the class of his mistakes. After a while my name was drawn. I read what I was told to read, then Brother Maeser said to me: "What mistakes did you make?". " I read very good." This caused a roar of laughter, and Brother Maeser gave me 100% and a star.

The following spring, Neil wanted me to continue in school, but I did not feel he should continue sending me, as he had already done a great deal while I was living with them.

In 1880, when I was twenty years old, we pulled two separators out to Uinta. They were sorely in need of them to thresh their grain. We threshed out there until the middle of December, and when we left there, there was still some grain to be threshed.

The road in 1880 were very bad. They seemed to be merely Indian trails up and down the steep hills and through the narrow canyons. We had to rough-lock the wheels going down the hills time and time again. I remember we had to tie ropes to keep the separator from tipping over. It took ten days to go out to Vernal. The owners of the outfit, gave me two dollars a day for myself and team and food for the horses. This was good wages for those days.

For several years after that I went out to the Reservation with peaches.I game 25 cents a bushel for them in Spanish Fork and sold them in Vernal for $1.50 a bushel. Then I bought honey for $2.50 a can (five gallons)and sold each can in Spanish Fork for $3.50. I averaged about $5.00 a day, which was a lot of money in those days.

From 1881 to 18867 I had one of the big problems of my life. It was courtship. I travels on foot during this time from my mother's home, and from Neil's and Henry's, about 2500 miles before we ended our wooing career. Josephine lived about one mile south of mother's. We finally decided to get married.

We went to the Bishop and he said to come to the Priesthood meeting on Monday night. In the debate of pro and con they finally decided to deny me the right to the temple marriage, as I had played pool and other foibles in my youth. They said for me to wait another year and then come back. We waited another years, so in 1886 we were married.

The next year we bought a sawmill which cost us about three thousand dollars. My partner was Joe Adamson. This mill was at Lake Creek. Adamson was a sawyer, but he worked just a little while, then he left the business to me. I then sold the sawmill to Zebedel Coltrin.

In the year 1892 I worked the tithing office. In December of the same year I went on a mission to North Carolina for twenty-eight months.

In 1895, Pleasant Bradford, my brother Neil, Henry and I went to the White River to make a survey for a ditch to bring water over to the Spanish Fork River side. The water was to be used to irrigate the east bench. We worked there in 1895 until the ditch was about half done, then the following year we went back and finished the ditch.

They put me in superintendent of the work, since I had more time to work on the ditch than the others ,and seemed to be more interested in getting the work done. We then sold out to the Bench Water Company. This water is still used to irrigate the land on the east bench.

The next thing to come up was the Strawberry River Project. My father was very interested in getting the river water, as he was one of the first to go out there to look the situation over. Theo Dedrickson, myself, and my father went out there to see what could be done to get the water to the Spanish Fork River side. Father located the spot where the Strawberry River Dam was to be made , and recommended the spot to the government. He also said that a tunnel had to be made.

My brother Henry and I got the contract to build the telephone line to teh Strawberry dam from the power plant in Spanish Fork, a distance of twenty-five miles. This was just before the government started to build the dam.

Until the time I sold my land on the bench (1922) I farmed, raised wheat, beets and hay. I could not make enough money farming so I had to buy and sell grain and hay, extra. I bought the hay and grain in Spanish Fork and hauled it it Provo where the prices were always a little higher. I did this trading both in the winter and summer.

I moved to Orange, California, in the summer of 1922 arriving on the twenty-fourth of July.

[Autobiography of Serenus Gardner (Native Pioneer) born in Utah in 1860. Written by himself for Camp J. Wylie Thomas of Daughters of Utah Pioneers of Utah County, Spanish Fork, Utah , computer Disc #2, file code Gardnersg , Date Oct 1991]

TRIBUTE TO MY UNCLE SERENUS GARDNER (Sy appended this poem to his autobiography)

I salute you in the autumn of Life
For your eighty-seven years,
With spirit so bright and undaunted
In a world of doubt and fears!

To me you're and inspiration.
I know from your genial smile,
Your Autumn of Life is beautiful,
Full of meaning and very worth while.

Your laugh is pleasant and buoyant.
Though your body seems slightly frail,
You're young and active and vibrant,
Your intellect seems not to fail.

What greater gift could one ask for
Of Father so gracious and kind.
As a heard so young at your time of life
And s clear and active mind.

Please let me say I'm so grateful
For kinship. Your name I revere.
I'm proud of the life you have honorably lived
Utah Native Pioneer

Written by Edna Gardner Brockbank.

(end page 5)

Ina, a daughter, penned this brief history in 1938:


Sy's life was also penned by himself in a 46 page journal, as attached to this blog,and a five page autobiography, the later cited above. The journal was held by Dorothy and possibly Lucille, children of Zella, Sy's oldest daughter.

Sy was a twin, the second (and third children) of Archibald Gardner and Serena Evenson. His life was lived with great fun, often springing practical jokes as a way to gain his family's attention. Once, he asked each of his children to sell everything by a certain date. "We are going into the Molly mining business", being the joke reason. Jenny was the only child that took him seriously. Jenny was upset when Sy did not arrive on the appointed day to pick the money that he had requested.

Included in Sy's eulogy are these humorous points.

1. the best rule, the golden rule
2. the best education, self knowledge,
3. the best religion, was to live it,
4. the best philisophy -a contented mind
5. the best science - extracting sunshine from a cloudy sky
6. the best telephany - flashing a ray of sunshine into a gloomy heart.

Yes, this was his life, underlined.

As a summary of his marriage, Sy courted his neighbor, living on an adjoining farm and married Josephine Hanson. Josphine's father had been a part-time bodyguard for Brigham Young. Rea Gardner, Sy's oldest son, had possession of the five shot revolver, until 1947, that Mr. Hanson had carried while protecting Brigham Young on one trip to St. George, Utah.
Children of Syrenus (Sy) Gardner and Josephine Hanson

Zella Laveve Gardner b. 22 Aug 1887, d. 16 Jan 198811 Jennie Merle Gardner b. 11 Sep 1889, d. 14 Apr 197411 Serenus H. (Rea) Gardner b. 6 Dec 1891, d. 19 Jan 198911 Ina Josephine Gardner b. 26 Feb 1896, d. 15 Dec 198611 Cora Esta Gardner b. Feb 1898, d. around 1990* Elmer Gardner b. 19 Apr 1900, d. May 19004 Robert Henry Gardner b. 6 Jun 1901, d. Sep 198110 Otto Gardner b. 28 Jul 1904, d. 29 Jun 19863 Garr Gardner b. 9 Jan 1907, d. 10 Apr 19333
*Cora lived for many years in Leisure World, in Vacaville, CA.

After the birth their second child, a son, Serenus (Rea) Gardner,
Sy went on a two year, 1892 to 1894 mission to South Carolina.

Sy lived to 95, and was cared for by Zella on her truck
farm off Harbor, a major street in Orange County

Wisdom from the Writings of Syrenus Gardner, also known as Sy
(29 April 1860 to 7 March 1956)
Transcribed by Bronson Gardner – July, 2015 from scanned pages provided by Colin Gardner

The force of habit renders many pleasant things. Those who are in the power of evil habits must conquer it if they can. In short there is not a vice nor virtue nor act of the mind which may not be ruled by their despotic power. (pg 2)

Say no evil of another even with a cause for remember, all have their faults. We should be charitable to others if we expect charity for ourselves…A word spoken can never be recalled so we should think at least twice before we speak. (pg 3)

If we would make the most of life, temperance is the highest form of life and happiness… (pg 4)

The path we tread may be in rocks that tower and not always be among the fragrant flowers. Deal with all questions like as they are. (pg 6)

There is no true nobility unless it displays itself in good deeds… To possess true nobility is the highest idea of manliness. The life of such a man is repeated in the lives of others…True character is imbued with the spirit of kindness…Nobility of character is within the reach of us all. (pg7)
In the good, do what should be done. The bad, let alone… (pg8)

The duty of parents begins in birth, as it is gentle and so loving it prepares a temple like their own.
Infants are the poetry of the world by the fresh flowers of our heart and homes. (pg 9)

How blessed are you that you can have a benediction to your fading eyes and trembling lips in a hallowed memory that your hands have touched the hearts of others… even in their dreams…(pg 11)

Too much care therefore cannot be taken in forming the principles or habits. In the high principles of
great men it is natural to have confidence in believing in them. All the good they have done for the world is worth living for. All who can hope to rise in society or action worthily his part in life must have moral character. For it is the basis of integrity of justice in words of meaning of aims of virtue that express in his outward life. He must know what is right and firm in doing it by pursuing straight forward course today as well as tomorrow. That man is worth a true character a blessing to himself to his family to society to the world. It is indeed the rain that nourishes the trees by which we are shaded and refreshed.  So it is with the above and honest desire to do right and carried out in practice with reverence to Him who is the author of our being to His truths, to His love and of our religion. Such a man whether rich or poor has a solid trait which is certain to all good men (pg 16)

To be affable is a real ornament the most beautiful dress that man or woman can wear…It cost nothing in trade and profit…The human heart was formed for sympathy as the flowers for sunshine…There is nothing lost and so much to be gained by the exercise of it. So we are required to be frank open hearted with all we come in contact with..We should constantly strive to make all around us feel that we recognize in them a man or woman are equal in being as himself. Other than this is devoid of dignity and humor. Let them see that you are moved by the spirit of good will towards all men. (pg17)

At my age standing between two eternities, like an isthmus between two continents, standing on time =frail and trembling on that bleak and narrow height, impenetrable darkness on the one hand…It may be best for me to take an observation. But..my telescope is too dim and compass too wavering to accomplish that. (pg 19)

Happiness is much like tomorrow. Only a day away from us but never arriving. In this life we hurry it. In the future we hope to overtake…We look for happiness in one direction but find it in another and where expected the least, we may find the most and where we look for the most we may find the least…The trouble often is we are too selfish, too unyielding to our life's best good. It follows that in the right discipline the mind is the secret of happiness. (pg 20)

I wish to do right is a beautiful noble desire to be happy…Life is before you…You can make life and give it of much worth, if you put forth your energy and faith at all times. (pg 21)

The love of truth and right, is the grand spring to life... Truth is the foundation of all knowledge. To
speak all we know is folly. There is is no vice so cowardly as lying. (pg 22)

Seek learning from all good books… The literature of a nation for every inhabitant ,gives help, guides their actions, molds the thoughts, of the people. The power of books and literature is no less in the individual than of the man… We should choose our books as we do our friends. You can judge a man more truly by the books he read as well as the company he keeps. (pg 23)

Charity carries with it peace and love which still is within, is benign influence, of noble qualities…Happy it would be if we would exemplify the Savior in doing good. (pg 24)

There are darks hours. Mark brighter hours…To behave with dignity and reality we must not lose heart … Both for ourselves and those we love. (pg 25)

We're in this world to make errors, become better and to help others by devoting to our fellows our best thoughts, activities and influence. It should be the motto of every one of us in our life for no man liveth to himself. Deal with generations as the really are. Leave alone …unworthy things..By diligence you can accomplish much..(pg 26).

Life is not mean but is grand…We should meet life with a brave spirit and seek to learn its noble meaning and its highest results. Great destinies lie shrouded in our swiftly passing days (pg27)

There is not a power of the mind, nor an affection of the heart or desire of the body but what … in some form … may injure or paralyze the energies of the body and mind. All forms of evil destroy the functions of the body and mind.. (pg 29)

To be careless of your health stunts the mind with miserable feelings. How can you be happy to enjoy life in a dilapidated house that admits of freezing blast and filthiness. (pg 30)

The old saying "Knowlege is Power". The amount you gain here is the power you will have in life here and the one to come. If one wishes to become a possessor of mental power he must be willing to do his duty to obtain it. (pg 33)

Seek learning from all good books. It will leave its influence in your looks…We should choose our books as we do our friends. You can judge a man by the books he reads. Reading is the result of the books he keeps. He is rated by the opinions of what he reads…The secrets of nature for us to discover. (pg 34)

Some think they are excused by poverty or lack of means but this lack has not robbed any of a single
intellectual power. Poverty has not shut them out from pictures or the truths of his great work, his
universal space. Gold will not store the mind with wisdom. It is more apt to fill it with folly. It may
decorate the body but it cannot adorn the soul… The world is full of books most of which are worthless.  Read only the best. (pg 35)

There is one quality of mind which is likely to make success of our tent or ruin without. It comes under the laws of decision to act instantaneously…To do a thing in this world that is worth doing we must not stand shivering on the bank, thinking of the cold and the danger. But jump in and scramble through as well as you can. This world was not made for show, for squealing of man but for the character promptly and with power. Either conquer this or it will conquer you. Hesitation is a sign of weak men. ….. but when the way is clear, and there is no doubt as to what is to be done, do it with all your might. (pg 37)

The mental power acquired by exertion is lasting and real in all of perfection. Your labor should be real in value... (pg 38)

 Society There is nothing that moves faster in society than to speak of our fellow man, of his faults. …It soaks into the mind like water in low and marshy places and becomes stagnant and offensive. Like the weeds, we ]extricate them in one place, they are sprouting vigorous again in another. it seems never to get tired but manages to keep in constant supplement. It is bitter noise and sweet in the next breath…No one should delight in slander for it indicates of utter depravity. It proves that somewhere in the soul there is a weakness and an evil nature. Education and refinement does not protect it. …When we are ill spoken of, if you are not guilty, you are none the worse…Your happiness does not depend on the judgment of others. (pg 39)

From social intercourse we derive some of the highest enjoyments of life. By the exercise of its powers the mind acquires new ideas and gains fresh vigor. Society is the balm of life. We are formed for society.  The longer we do not live in society, the more terrible is the thoughts of being excluded from it. Society is the only field where the sexes meet on equal terms. We often fail to get hold of the idea that we are subject to social duties. It is seen what apparent ease some enter society while others run away from it.  … There are some who forego meeting others socially. There will be a time when they will regret it. If they do not it will render them cold and selfish. It comes a duty to render society a good return, for the benefits we receive from it. This duty to do it is a blessing, always immensely great and merits its own. (pg 40)

Of all gifts of providence of which we have been endowed, there is no nobler to the meaning that this gift (of memory). Without it, life would be a blank and dreary work, not a progressive page upon the vast ocean of uncertainty. It is the only paradise in our life, always with us, for it brings in the thoughts of past joys and delights to old age. A quick and retentive memory in words, in acts and in all things are treasures, and may be had by anyone who will take the necessary pains. Memory is one of the most valuable gifts that the creator has bestowed upon us and one of the most mysterious. It is not what one has learned but what he remembers, and applies that makes him wise. The mind must be trained to think s well as to remember. We love to think of days that are past, if they were days of happiness and even experience. When sorrow and trials and care come to us, how often have we gotten courage and renewed strength by thinking of the past. It is strange what slight things recall scenes of childhood. The reminiscence of youth possesses joy that cannot be dislodged from our hearts in our old age. (pg 41)

Nearly all around us think his neighbors are happier than they. Like a majority… his troubles are more imaginary than real… Strive to discover the pleasures and happiness which you have found in your present conditions … 'till providence opens a more excellent way. (pg 42)

Be not dismayed at the trials of life…There will be strains of sorrow as well as the loftier notes of joy.  The sun shines upon the highest peaks all day long and then lingers longest as it goes down, yet the valleys are green and fertile while the peaks keep barren as the sun goes down. We may grow old but our ambition will pale on the senses, yet we are never too old to have trials. … The greatest trouble of all is not to be able to bear misfortune.. (pg 43)

We are transmitting our influence that will never cease (pg 45)

Envy is like pride- the author of murder and revenge, the tormentor of virtue. It is the slime of the soul and dries the marrow of the bones. … It is foolish, it is detestable, it loves darkness rather than light because its deeds are evil. It not possible to adopt a more suicidal course as far as his own happiness is concerned. He that is under the dominion of envy cannot see perfections. He is so blinded that he is always degrading things which are excellent. … It is a poison and venom that ruins any life in which it finds lodgment. It corrupts the affections of brothers and rebels against him who is the Author of being. It worth our utmost care to watch it in all its approaches in life. (pg 46)