HISTORY OF J. RUBE LARSEN
My name is Joseph Reuben Larsen, born May the 22nd, 1887 in Cove, Utah
My mother and father were John Christian Larsen and Susannah Titensor
Larsen.. Father was a hard working man and he taught us to work - one thing
that I appreciate him for more than anything that I know of. He was very
firm. When he said, you know he'd done it. He never made promises that
he didn't keep. He was very well respected in his community. He lived
in a scattered ward that was about ten miles from one end to the other.
There was no automobile service in those days. He had to ride a horse
or go in a wagon. We didn't even have a buggy when I was a small boy.
We had to go in a wagon. He was the first Bishop of Cove Ward and the
Presiding Elder before he was put in as Bishop. I remember him when I
was a small boy. I thought so much of him that he would allow me to go
up on the stand where he was sitting at the rostrum and sit on his knee
while in church and I thought that was very wonderful to be able to be
that close to my father.
My mother was a very sweet, loving person. She cared for her children.
She would give rather than have for herself. She would go without things
to give it to her children. She was a very well read woman and self-educated.
She had very little schooling, but she was very well read. She knew things
about different subjects that would surprise everyone. It seemed like
she would know it through her self-education and reading. She was very
kind, very loving and I honor her and love her very much.
They were married and first lived in Logan and then moved to Cove.
We lived on a hill which was the corner of Grandfather Titensor's homestead.
He gave it to my mother and father and he built two homes on it. This
hill comprised of the approximate vicinity of ten to twelve acres of land.
When we would want good cold water we had a spring that came out the side
of the hill down at the bottom of the hill - a wonderful spring. We always
had good cold water if we had ambition enough to go down the hill to get
He had a very fine farm on what we called the Weber River, raised
hay and had pasture. He had a farm in Lewiston, a very good farm joining
on the property where the sugar factory was built. We raised grain, hay,
and sugar beets. My father was quite a speculator on land. He rented
what we called the Cutler Ranch and bought a big ranch of 100 to 160 acres
of dry-farm wheat land. My brother and I used to hoe tumbleweeds on that
ground. believe me we didn't have shoes and the sand would burn our feet.
We sure had to have tough, thick skin on the bottom of our feet to be
able to stand it. He sold the Cutler Ranch and bought what we called the
Pitkin Ranch from a man by the name of George Pitkin - a big place that
was dry-farm in Millville, Utah.
In my youth when I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, I'd have
six or eight head of horses, hire a kid to go with me, and I'd go out there
and take food to last me for a week or two and we would batch it - cook
our own meals. We'd have to go two or three miles to water these horses
and carry our water that we cooked with and drank. He finally sold that
ranch which we were all very thankful for. It was so far away and it was
across the valley near Weston, Idaho.
He was a great stockman. He had a very wonderful dairy and that was
where I learned to work. When I was five or six years old I learned to
milk a cow. Until I got older I'd always have two or three cows to milk.
We knew them all by name. When I grew older I'd milk more cows.
When I grew to be fourteen years old my mother moved to Logan so my
older brothers and sisters could go to the B.Y. College to school. They
all had an opportunity to go to school. My father always said his children
could have all the education that they wanted and he'd give them all the
help that he possibly could, but it was entirely up to them. They could
not come back on him and say that they didn't have a chance at an education
because he made it possible for them to have an education.
My father was a polygamist. He had two wives. He married sisters;
my mother and Aunt Elly as we all called her. She was a very fine woman.
I had to live with her in the winter months, for nine months. My mother
moved to Logan which is a distance of sixteen miles from Cove. My Aunt
Elly's children would go and live with her and I had to live with Aunt
Elly, and I resented it very much. I didn't think it was right then and
I don't think it is right now. To think that I was at that age taken away
from my mother and had to live with an aunt who was very good to me. But
I toughed that out for four years and then it finally came my turn to go
to the BYC after I was old enough and was admitted. I didn't graduate
from the eighth grade. In those days we had to go to Logan and take a
final examination to graduate from the eighth grade. I was very much unprepared
because I had to work until late in the fall and quit school early in the
spring to go to work on the farm to keep the others in school and help
my father out.
As I grew older I worked on the sugar factory and helped build it.
I went to school in a little school house on the side of the hill up what
they call the upper school house. That was the north part of the ward.
It was a little old frame building. And believe me, we towed the mark.
I had a teacher by the name of Joseph Thomas. I never will forget it.
If we were caught whispering we sure got the lash laid to us. I remember
once that I was talking to a boy by the name of Clyde Day. He called us
both up. We had to hold out our hands. He had a long ruler and he just
reached out and rapped that around both of our hands just for merely whispering.
That was how strict they were in those schools. We would walk a distance
of a mile and a half to school and back. If the weather was bad we were
allowed to ride a horse, my older brother Lou and I. We would tie our
dinner bucket on the throat latch of the horse so we could hang on and
away we'd ride to school. We had to be there by 9:00 and before I went
to school there had to be about twelve or fifteen cows milked and fed.
Then we would have our breakfast and get on the horse and go to school
and be there at 9:00. Then we would stay there and get home around 4:00
I liked to fish and my father would allow us to go fishing but the
work came first. And I said, Dad, if I pull all these sunflowers on this
ditch from here up to the top, can I go fishing ? He said, Yes, you can
go fishing if you pull all those weeds up to the road. I started in and
the sunflowers were very light, but they got thicker and taller and harder
to pull. When I got to the end of the road, why I was exhausted and all
in. My father had to build a shade of weeds and sunflowers for me to lay
down and I didn't get to go fishing because I had overdone myself in the
I had to herd cows when I was a kid. I had to be alone, start out
early in the morning and I was put on my own. That was one thing my father
did. He would give us some responsibility. While herding these cows I'd
have to put them in an alfalfa field and move them out before they got
foundered. They'll bloat up and founder and there was danger of loosing
one so I had that responsibility to tell when those cows had had enough
alfalfa before they were moved into a grass pasture. Believe me that was
a lot of responsibility. I worried and wore myself sick about it.
One time I was raking hay and I had a mean mare. Old "Clo"
her name was. And I wanted to get that hay raked. I was dumping that
hay right and left, had it all hand worked. It wasn't a self-dump. I
hit this animal with a willow so she'd go faster and she kicked both feet.
I was right close to her and both of her feet came right up - one foot
on one side of my head and one the other. Had I been in the way of one
of her hooves, there would have been no J. Rube Larsen. The Lord has watched
over me many times and preserved my life.
We had cows and some of them were mean to kick. They'd put their
foot up in a big, fine bucket of milk and then we'd have to go and empty
it and feed it to the hogs. Milk was all we had to live on. We'd take
it to the creamery and get our butter and bring the skim milk back and
feed to the hogs. And we lived on bread and milk. One night we had what
we called "Old Kicker", she was a kicker and my brother Lou
got mad and threw a rope around both of her hind feet and threw it up over
a pole that was in the top of the barn and we both pulled her up; pulled
her right off her hind feet and she couldn't move. Then he went to work
and milked her and he sure wasn't very gentle with her.
It seemed to be my job to take the cows to the pasture. We had to
go about three miles to drive those cows to the pasture and I had to walk.
I had no horse and I'd get so tired. One day he had me herding some sheep
to keep them out of the garden. There was a cold north wind blowing and
I laid down in the ditch to keep the wind from hitting me. It was very
cold. It was in the spring of the year and I went to sleep in the ditch.
I never will forget it. My father never said a word to me but walked
over and he stood over me and I looked up and there he was. He said, "That's
a fine way to herd sheep. They're all over the garden." I said,
"I'm cold." That was all he said to me. He was very kind.
He had a great deal of wisdom and he had a lot of problems that he had
to solve and he never raised a hand on us. I never did see him hurt any
of them. He might have given them a little willow or little stick or something,
but it didn't amount to much.
One time I thought I was smart enough that I could run away from home
and take care of myself. I unhooked the horses off the plow and turned
them in the field. I crossed the river bridge, got to the top of the hill
and looked back and I began to get cold feet like all kids do that run
away from home. When I came back I hooked the horses up, finished the
plowing and went home at night. I forgot about running away from home.
Dad was very poor. He had very little. He had a large family and
two wives; thirteen or fourteen children. They all were educated and
all had a chance and they all went to college. Some of them graduated
and some of them didn't I did. I graduated from B.Y. College - four year
course. Then I went to school after that at the A.C. It's USU now - Utah
State University. I had one semester there. Then I went and talked to
George Thomas and John A Widtsoe because my boss wanted me to take charge
in one of his big feed yards feeding cattle. They both advised me to take
the job and go on and didn't feel it was worth it unless I wanted to go
on in education., to take that extra three or four months to get the degree.
So I went back to my old boss, whom I worked for after I got married,
and I accepted the job as manager where I got a valuable experience with
a man by the name of Lars Hansen - a wonderful experience. He gave me
a lot of privileges and a lot of responsibility and I certainly appreciated
it. That's how I got into big business; which I call big business when
you borrow and handle money to feed 1500 to 2000 cattle. You had to have
the experience which I got working for Lars Hansen because he was a big
operator. He operated at three or four sugar factories. He bought all
the wet beet pulp and fed it to cattle, which was very good cattle feed
in those days. They didn't feed but very little grain. They would fatten
them on hay and wet beet pulp. I was made manager of the yards at Logan,
which I ran for two or three years. He finally got so big he owned a packing
house and big feed yards and then he finally went broke.
I quit him at one time and went to Idaho and bought a ranch - not
a very big ranch. I ran that for two years. Lars Hansen came in there
on a train. They didn't have automobiles, as I said before, that early.
He came in there on the train to see us. I had my wife with me, Charlotte.
We had him to dinner and he wanted to go out and see my ranch and the
cattle that I had. He put a very good proposition up to me. He wanted
me to go back to work for him and he'd give me most anything I'd ask for
within reason. He gave me a half interest in a ranch that he had in Blacksmith
Fork Canyon which ran 720 head of cattle. He'd furnish the money and I'd
Of course when I had that, after I got the cattle placed on the ranch,
why he used me for other things. He'd send me out to buy cattle. I remember
I went into southern Utah, into the extreme southern part, what they used
to call the "southern Ute cattle long-horn" - thin, emaciated
cattle, very poor quality. They didn't have good quality cattle in those
days. He sent me in there to buy a string of cattle after I had gone back
with him in this business and then he paid me a wage while I was away from
my own business looking after his cattle in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. I
went down and looked at the cattle and I could hear their bones and hock
joints crackle as they went through the brush. They were that thin, running
down through a trail. I was very fortunate I was able to see them. At
that time I had an automobile. Another man took me in there to see these
cattle and I turned them down. I came back and told him I wouldn't buy
the cattle because they weren't the kind he should have.
He used to hire a lot of men to buy cattle and he'd give them a dollar
a head. One of his dollar-a-head men went in and bought these cattle and
that was the thing that broke Lars Hansen. He went broke and lost a lot
of money. I guess close to a million dollars when he went broke. He lost
his feed yards too. He had borrowed his money from what they called the
Portland Cattle Loan Company. I had been feeding a few cattle before,
when I had cattle in Idaho. I borrowed mine from Portland Cattle Loan
Company and after Hansen went broke the president of the Portland Cattle
Loan Company called me in and said, "Are you going to feed cattle
this year" ? I said, "Yes". He said, "How many"
? I said I planned on feeding about like I had been feeding - around three
or four hundred. Well he said, "Why don't you feed a bunch"
? I said, "What do you mean, a bunch" ? He said, take over
the Logan yards which had the capacity to feed 1500 to 2000 cattle - a
yard that I had been running for Hansen.
I had the whole responsibility to buy the feed and buy all the cattle.
It was turned over to me entirely. I only saw my boss, Lars Hansen, once
or twice a year. I used to advise with him on the telephone. He lived
in Ogden and I lived in Logan. Mr. Dickey, president of the Portland Cattle
Loan Company, wanted me to go into it. "Well I haven't got the money
to buy the feed". "Well", he said, We'll arrange the money
for that". I said, "I've got a partner now and I've been in
feeding and had a little success. I could feed quite a number but I cannot
feed what the yards would hold". So he says, "We'll arrange
to loan you the money". And I said, "Well, I don't want to go
in that big". "Well", he said, "I'll be your partner.
We'll make it a three-way partnership"; which we did. The three
of us went in on a partnership and borrowed the money from the Portland
Cattle Loan Company to buy the cattle and buy the feed.
Well I immediately went to buying feed. I bought feed - hay for $18
a ton which was cheap at that time. It happened to be a dry year. I bought
two car loads of corn on the market, on the future, so that I would be
protected to have enough feed. It was right after the war and after we
got to feeding and got in towards the middle of the winter, Christmas time,
the bottom dropped out of the market. We bought cattle for 11 cents a
pound. After they were fattened out and ready for market, I had to sell
them for 8 cents a pound which was a big loss. But I had had quite a success
in turning some land and had made some money and I had in cash around $13,000.
When we got through feeding we had lost right close to $50,000 - the difference
in what we got for the cattle and the feed and what they were sold for.
I was 31 years old when I went into this deal with Mr. Dickey and Actin
Lynn; when I bought all these cattle and would up loosing $50,000. I
had already put in better than $13,000.
It went on, and the next summer Mr. Dickey called me into Ogden again
and wanted to know what I was going to do. "Well", I said, "I
think we could pay this debt off. We could all clear ourselves."
The depression was on right after the First World War in 1918-1919. I
said lambs are selling around 4 cents to 5 cents a pound. I said, if they
loan me money to buy 30,000 or 40,000 lambs, I'm sure we'll be able to
get out of this in good shape. He said, "all right, you go to work
and make the arrangements". I immediately went to Cache Valley and
made arrangements to buy sugar beet pulp through Radamon Beet Fields.
I had to have herders and camps. And I made arrangements for that. I
had it all lined up. Then I left to go to Soda Springs. They had good
lambs there. Lambs could have been bought at that time for four and a
half to five cents a pound - not too steep. I stayed in the hotel at Soda
Springs waiting to get an answer. He said he'd get an answer and to go
ahead and make arrangements and I'll let you know. But I'll have to take
it up with the company. I waited there and finally I wired them and I
said I'm waiting here to buy lambs. They're moving out and they should
be bought. What shall I do ? They wired back and said there's a letter
at home. You'd better go there and read the letter. I went home and there
was a letter there stating that the Portland Cattle Loan Company had quit
doing business. It was a slip set-up and it was not loaning any money
on livestock. So I wasn't able to do that. Had they let me gone, in six
months time, lambs that were selling for four and a half to five cents
a pound - the sheep market straightened out to where they were selling
for 15 cents a pound. It would have made me not only the $50,000 but another
$100,000 on top of it - had I been allowed to go on that deal. But I was
broke and I had no money so I couldn't do it. But they did afterwards
loan me a little money to feed a few cattle.
I fed some cattle at the Lewiston Feed Yards which had been closed
up after Lars Hansen had gone broke. I made enough money, practically
enough money to pay off between $13,000 and $16,000 which I owed. So I
made enough on those cattle to pay them off. Then they wanted me to pay
off the loss of Actin Lynn and I refused to do it. So I did business another
way. I went to raising sugar beets in Lewiston. I bought a ranch in Lewiston
next to the sugar factory. It was a pretty big ranch for sugar beets.
It was in cultivation and I raised beets and we sold them for $4.50 a
ton. I put a lot of hard work and money in raising these beets. I wound
up in the fall - I didn't have enough money left out of my crop to pay
my hired help. So I went to Ogden to see if I could get a job with some
A man by the name of Del Hampton said that he would furnish the money
if I wanted to go to Colorado and buy cattle and we'd go 50-50. I said
I can't afford to. I said if you want to give me $150 a month and 20%
of what I can make, I'll go. This was the finest thing that ever happened
to me - that I had gone broke and I had to go out in the world. I was
just past 30 or 32 and I had never had such a shock and a loss as I had
taken in feeding cattle and then trying to pay it back by farming - which
I knew I never would be able to do. So I went in to Colorado and started
buying cattle. I landed there the middle of November. Bought some cattle,
moved them, and I was keeping close touch with the man I was working for.
Then he said, go on, buy some more, keep buying them. I had another man
with me from Grand Junction, Colorado - from there down to the New Mexico
border on the western slope of Colorado where I bought these cattle. That
was a wonderful experience for me. One that I'll never forget. It was
really the turning point in my life to show me what I could do when you
are thrown on your own and you have the responsibility - and these responsibilities
were given to me by my father, which I appreciate very, very much. Gone
broke as bad as I had, I came home at Christmas time and I had to draw
my $150. The accountant figured out my account and they handed me a check
for $375 which was 20% of what I had made while I was in Colorado up to
that time. Then I went back into Colorado after the holidays.
My Grandfather Larsen was a very fine gentleman. He was a very intelligent
man, a man that I admired. He spent his early days teaching the gospel
in Denmark and Norway - that you can get from his history. When he moved
here he went to Sanpete County and farmed there for several years. I don't
know how many. Then he moved to Logan, Cache Valley and he had a farm
there. From somewhere in his life I've been told that he went into Nebraska
and did some contracting. I remember him when I was a small boy, going
and staying with him, he and my grandmother. She was a very queenly woman.
I remember the fine, beautiful, clean home she had. I could always remember
that she had and kept it so spic and span. I was always glad to go there.
I remember one time when I had broken my arm. My father took me to the
doctor and then he took me there and they laid me on a beautiful reclining
chair and I thought, oh my, this is heaven, because I was a poor kid living
in Cove on a farm and we were very poor people. My grandfather had a small
farm and I would stay with him and I would walk up what they called the
"hollow". He had his farm up at the mouth of Logan Canyon.
He owned I guess 160 acres in there. He was cutting hay and I would walk
up there to see him and I would help him and watch him. I was a small
boy but I remember him as a very fine man. He gave a lot of patriarchal
blessings and he gave me one. He enjoyed it. He used to go around and
give them to his relatives. He would always make a trip to Sanpete County,
to Spring City. He'd give blessings down there and a lot of those people
were his brothers' children. He was a very fine man. I remember when
Berneice was born he came to the house. He found out that mother was so
sick and that poor man walked up and down the sidewalk for hours, all the
rest of the day, just worrying and praying that everything would be all
right for her. Berneice was born on his birthday, the 21st day of March.
He named Berneice, which we were always very glad for. But I remember
him as a very fine gentleman and my Grandmother Larsen was a queenly woman.
She was a wonderful cook. Her mother had been a cook for the king and
she knew how to cook - and cook beautiful food. She had a very fine home
and that's the way I remember my Grandmother Larsen.
My Grandfather Titensor was a master mechanic. He came from England
here, and Brigham Young sent him from Salt Lake to Cache Valley to build
mills. He was a millwright and he put in all the fine machinery for grinding
grain in High Creek Mill and the Muddy Mill which was on the Muddy River.
Then he was the first master mechanic on the Utah Northern Railroad and
he knew his business. He built a miniature engine when he was a boy in
England. That was part of his training when he was an apprentice. This
has all been told to me. I don't know too much about it. Then he worked
for the railroad after they had taken the Utah Northern and it was the
Union Pacific and went into Pocatello. He went to Pocatello and worked
for them on all their technical and engineering work. He would make trips
home to the old homestead. He would come home and I seemed to be a favorite
of his grandchildren. He was always giving them a little money, but mine
would always be a quarter and the others maybe would get a nickel or a
dime, but I always got my quarter. My grandfather would get me on his
knee at the breakfast table and give me a sip of tea once and a while out
of his cup. He was a good man. He was a very wonderful man. He was quite
an inventor. After he retired from the railroad they were raising sugar
beets and he invented a sugar beet topper. It would work very good - the
first sugar beet topper I had ever heard of. It had to be operated by
hand but then he had it so it would go. He put it on wheels and he'd wheel
it down the row and he'd turn a handle and it had a knife on it and it
would come down and chop the sugar beets. But it was too slow. I don't
suppose it was profitable to run, but he did invent that and he invented
a lot of things. If there was anything wrong at any time with any machinery,
he could always fix it. I used to spend many hours in his old blacksmith
shop watching him doing work mending things and fixing things. He was
a high-classed man, a very fine man.
My Grandmother Titensor went to see him one time at Pocatello. She
was riding the train and when they called out Pocatello she thought they
were there. She got up and went to the door and fell off the train before
they got in, before it was stopped. She was injured and she never did
get over that injury. She died in a wheelchair. The wheelchair was a
rocker. She was a very lovely woman. She had been a president of the
Relief Society. She had done a lot of good. She was a very fine woman.
They were very high class people and I'm very proud of my heritage.
My dad claimed he was in the Blackhawk War. They tried to get a pension
for him but they couldn't quite make it. He said that he carried water
to the soldiers in the Blackhawk War but he wasn't eligible for a pension.
Some of them got pensions that didn't do as much as he did. If he would
have had the right kind of connections and the right people handling it,
he no doubt would have got one. But he was a small boy. He was on a load
of hay at one time when they lived in Sanpete and the Indians took after
them and they shot the lines off between my grandfather's hands and the
horses. So he dropped down on the tongue between the horses to guide them.
He told my Uncle Brig and my father to crawl down in the hay so the Indians
wouldn't hit them with their arrows. They made it into town without any
My father lived in Logan when he was a young man. He used to chop
ties. When they first went up Logan Canyon they had to furnish ties to
the Utah Northern Railroad. They hired my father to fish for them. He
used to catch fish for the men who were working when he was a boy. Fish
were very abundant in those days I guess. He used to catch an awful lot
of fish that way. And then of course he chopped ties. That was the way
he made his living, chopping ties - hard work, tough work to go up there
and chop ties and hew them off.
To continue on with this history click here
RETURN TO HISTORY INDEX PAGE:
10890 Bohm Place
Sandy, UT 84094