History of Ada Vilate Hendricks Larsen

Ada Vilate Hendricks was born February 27, 1888, in Richmond, Utah, to Alma
Hendricks and Julia Vilate Petty Hendricks.  Their oldest child and only daughter, she
was to become sister to five younger brothers.  All of Ada's ancestors who came to
Utah were pioneers, arriving before 1869.  She was justifiably proud to claim as
ancestors such well-known pioneers as Amanda Barnes Smith, whose husband Warren
and son Sardius were killed by a mob at Hauns Mill, Missouri.  Another son Alma had
a hip shot away but lived to walk again.  Through prayer and unyielding faith his
mother achieved his miraculous cure.  Alma’s twin sister, Alvira Lavona Smith was
Ada's paternal grandmother.  Alvira later married William Dorris Hendricks who
became Richmond's first mayor.  He laid the grade for the railroad from Ogden, Utah
to Butte, Montana, with teams of horses and men.  He built two flour mills in Logan, 
the Central Mill and Deseret Mill,  one at Lewiston, Utah and the High Creek Mill in
Cove, Utah.  Maternal ancestry included Robert Cowan Petty and Margaret Jefferson
Wells Petty who farmed in West Jordan before moving  to Richmond, Utah, and
daughters of  this couple married into the Beckstead, Egbert and Dudley families. 
Ada’s own grandparents Robert Thomas Petty and Julia Ann Wright Petty operated a
hotel in their home in Richmond.  Here Ada spent many pleasant hours helping and
visiting and remembers interesting stories regarding the guests.  Parents of Julia Ann
were William  Henry Wright and Emma Taylor, who established the Wright’s
Department  Store in Ogden, Utah.
Ada's parents with their first two children Ada and Thomas, made their first move to
Rexburg, Idaho,  along with a brother,  Joseph Smith Hendricks and Vilate's sister
Magaret Emma Petty,  and two of their children.  James Funk, then a teenage boy from
Richmond,  went with the Hendricks families to help drive the cattle.  They farmed for
about two years.  They lived on the same block and worked their farms together. 
Another son, Vernon, was born during their stay in Rexburg.  During  this time a
terrible epidemic of diphtheria broke out.  Nearly every family in the town was stricken
and most of them lost children.  Ada recalls that her father rode horseback through
blizzards to administer and sit up nights with the sick and dying.  Upon returning home
he would remove his clothes and leave them hanging on an open screened porch,  hurry
into the house where a tin tub of warm water with a little carbolic acid poured in for a
disinfective,  had been prepared by his wife Vilate.  None of his family contracted the
disease.  Alma and Joe's father,  William Dorris Hendricks of Richmond, Utah,  insisted
that his sons move closer to home.  Alma moved his family to Lewistont Utah,  where
he farmed for a short time and then the family returned to Richmond where the fourth
child, Wren, was born.  At this time Alma,   Ada's father, got his first experience in
flour milling.  During the busiest seasons,  Alma would go to Cove and help his
half-brother Henry operate the flour mill.  The High Creek Flour Mill in Coveville was
built by William Dorris Hendricks,  Ada's grandfather, and  a Gowdy Hogan, in
1862-63,  in the mouth of High Creek Canyon.  A word more about William Dorris
Hendricks.  At age seventeen,  he was one of the youngest members of the Mormon
Battalion serving as a bugler.  His parents James Hendricks and Druscilla Dorris
Hendricks built the first adobe building and operated a lunch counter at the Warm
Springs in North Salt Lake.  James Hendricks was also first bishop of the Nineteenth
Ward,  one of the nineteen wards first organized by Brigham Young after arriving in
Salt Lake,
'While the family lived in Richmond,  the baby Wren became ill with spinal
meningitis.  It was winter and there was no doctor in Richmond at that time.  Two
mid-wives Sarah Ann Lewis and Melinda Funk cared for him.  He was ill for about six
weeks.  Vilate's sister Margaret practically lived with the family to help nurse the baby
who needed care around the clock.  They took turns holding him on a pillow.  Alma, 
Joe, Vilate and Margaret changed off sitting in a rocking chair holding  the feverish
baby.  Ada's parents lived in a one-room house with a shanty built on the back.  They 
would go out of the shanty back door and reach icicles hanging from the sloping roof, 
bring them in and place in a large bowl kept on a table by the side of the baby.  The
restless baby at times kept his head rolling  from side to side.  Each time he put out his
feverish tongue,  whoever was holding him would put a drop of water in his mouth. 
They wrung cloths from the cold water and placed on his head.  While the baby was
struggling to survive, a young doctor from Canada,  Herbert Adamson,  moved to
Richmond to establish a practice. Dr.  Adamson later married a dear friend of Ada's
mother,  Nettie Lewis, and the two families remained close friends over the years. Dr. 
Adamson came to visit the baby daily after locating in Richmond.  He advised Vilate
not to cling to the child that if he lived, he would be afflicted in some way.  Ada
remembers her mother kneeling by the side of her bed and praying aloud for the baby
boy,  asking the Lord that if it was to be that he should live,  that he would be perfect in
mind and body.  Wren  lived to be a perfectly normal person mentally and physically. 
He and his wife Emma Blair raised two boys and four daughters.  At the time of his
death in 1974,  age seventy two,  there were twenty three grandchildren and forty nine
The next move was to Logan where the fifth child Fenton was born.  Ada's father worked
for the Central Milling Company here.  They lived a short time in the Seventh Ward,
where my paternal great-grandfather Christian John Larsen,  a Danish convert, was
bishop.  Most of his congregation were Danish  converts.  They were either sent or
congregated here when they arrived in Utah.  One Sunday afternoon Alma encouraged
Vilate to attend Sacrament Meeting  while he stayed at home with the children.  The
entire service was conducted in Danish and when Vilate returned home, Alma asked if
she enjoyed the meeting.   She said she had but she hadn't understood one word that was
spoken.  They later lived in a house that the Central Mill Company owned.  It was
located on the east side of Main Street about two blocks south of the business district and
is still standing. Ada attended first a one-room school house in the Seventh Ward where
only beginners studied.  Later she went to the Woodruff  School.  Ada remembers the day
President Lorenzo Snow visited in Logan and her father took her to town to watch the
parade in his honor.  She remembers him vividly as a handsome, elderly man with a
beautiful white beard, riding in a splendid carriage.
When Ada was ten years of  age,  1898  her parents moved the family to Coveville,  later
called Cove.  They lived in the house by  the side of the flour mill and Alma became
miller of the High Creek Mill for the next eleven or twelve years.  They also farmed and
knew all the hardships of the pioneering days.  They hauled firewood from the canyons,
heated their homes and cooked with wood stoves, lighted their humble home with coal
oil lamps and water was dipped from the creek about half a block away and hauled in
creamery cans to the house, usually by the children in their little red play wagon. Water
was heated in a reservoir on the side of the kitchen stove.  Visualize a farming
community that started with one home high in the mountains at the head of High Creek, a
wide, shallow and in some places a swift stream.  About every mile down the narrow,
winding road was a farmhouse. The High Creek flour mill and Hendricks home stood on
flat-land at the mouth of the canyon. this was the perfect location for the mill race.  It
was a typical Currier-Ives setting,  sheds, barn and corral,  chicken coops,  picket fence
and tall poplars surrounding the house.  Ada wrote, “Our life in Cove, naturally,  is the
part of the family history that I know best.  There were happy and sad times.  My  father
struggled to keep the High Creek Mill going.  He undertook the job of bringing the water
down through a ditch higher on the hill.  This mill race provided more power and worked
well until the ditch broke and the entire hillside come down.  Repairing this was a
heart-breaking job for my father,  but somehow he got it done.  Then followed the
troubles about water rights and the lawsuits to protect the historic mill rights.  Our social
life in Cove centered at the old meeting house about two miles further down the winding
road.   Here we worshipped, went to school and held all social functions. My parents
were both always active in ward affairs.  My mother was president of the Young Ladies
Mutual Improvement Association for eight years, a position she held at the time of her
death January 26,  1906”   I should mention now that Ada's mother had taught school in
Richmond when she was a girl of only fifteen.  Some of the boys she taught were taller
than she and were sometimes difficult.  One of the fathers provided her with a willow to
insure discipline.  At age fourteen, she was  secretary of the first Primary organization in
     In her early womanhood Ada’s mother had typhoid fever which weakened her heart
and no doubt resulted in her early death at the age of thirty eight.  Lewis the sixth and
last child, was born at Cove.  When Ada was seventeen,  her mother died and until her
father re-married two years later,  she had full charge of her five younger brothers and
the house.  Alma Hendricks married Almeda Larsen June 26, 1907,  daughter of Cove’s
first bishop John C. Larsen.  At the time of a death,  it was customary to have the
deceased laid out at home.  A man whose name I have forgotten was summoned to
make the coffin and the women gathered to sew burial clothes.  I have often heard my
mother tell that it snowed  the night before her mother's funeral and it was a sparkling, 
sunshiny day when they drove to the Richmond Cemetery from Cove.  The coffin was
transported on an open flat-bed  sleigh drawn by a team of horses.
September 11, 1907,  Ada married Louis William Larsen,  son of Bishop John C.
Larsen  and half-brother to Almeda.  In five years Ada and Louis moved eleven times.  
Her husband was a teacher,  usually English, and taught at the Ricks Academy, 
Rexburg, Idaho,  for one year when he was called on a mission to the New England
States.  Ada and her infant son Richard Hendricks Larsen lived for two years with her
mother-in-law in Logan.    Upon returning, the couple moved to Lewiston, Utah, where
he became principal of the first Lewiston School.  The following year he became the
first principal of the Richmond High School.  In 1912, a daughter, Louise, was born in
One year later,  in 1913,  they moved to Salt Lake City where Louis taught at
the Granite High School and finally in the English Department the University of Utah.
Sometime in the early 1920's he left teaching to engage in a career of advertising.   Ada
was a devoted home maker,  keeping it immaculate and inviting.  Her hobby was
flowers which she raised in abundance inside and out.  She had three children, one
daughter and two sons.  The youngest,  Thomas William, was killed during World War
II at Mt  Belvedere,  Italy.   After her children were married she turned to genealogy. 
For years she spent every Thursday to the Society to work with a researcher.  Her home
was bulging with records and she has placed many names in the Salt Lake,  Logan, 
Idaho Falls and St. George Temples.  She also aided in the publishing of a Hendricks
Genealogy book.  When her husband passed away September 15, 1972,  they had been
married sixty five years.  At the time of her death March 30, 1975,  at age 87 years,  she
was the oldest member of Brighton Camp of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.   She
was not a native of Butler but moved there to make her home in May of 1948 and
resided there for twenty seven years.  That year - the year of the heavy snow - my
parents felt so isolated in their new home built at 3120 E. 7800 South,   that they locked
their doors for two or three weeks and went back to Salt Lake to stay with children.
The little stories she constantly told were the endearing episodes in her life that I
remember best.  Her mother Vilate had a doctor book and consulted it frequently.  Dr. 
Adamson who had become a close friend of the family, always stopped by when
visiting someone in the area.  Having been called to attend a sick baby of another family
living up High Creek, he stopped to say 'hello.'  Vilate inquired of the condition of the
baby and Dr. Adamson said he didn't expect the child to live.  As soon as he had left,
Vilate took Ada and her doctor book and went to see the child.  What she did for him I
have forgotten but the baby recovered.  On his next visit,  Dr. Adamson stopped again
to ask Vilate where she had received her license to practice medicine.  He remarked
that the child had improved and he wanted Vilate to know that she had hurt his
reputation as a doctor.  This was all in fun.  Many humorous stories were told of the
good doctor.  Ada's brother Fenton after attending a dance in Richmond walked out to
drive his young lady home only to find his horse and buggy gone.  Everyone knew
everyone else’s outfit and such a thing was unheard of in that day.  Suddenly Dr.
Adamson came driving up with it.  He also had attended the dance but had a call to
make and rather than walk across the street to his home and harness his own horse and
buggy,  he said he knew Fenton's rig so he borrowed it.
Ada's grandfather mentioned above had five wives and forty three children.  The year
Ada was born there were seventeen other grandchildren born.  Ada remembers an
interesting story involving her grandfather.  Richmond at. that time had hard dirt
sidewalks.  During wet weather mud puddles in the road would be covered with board
planks for crossing.  It was necessary at times for persons crossing on the planks to wait
their turn or walk in the mud.  One day Ada met her grandfather waiting for her to
cross.  She happily, said  'hello grandpa,'  and he patted her on the head and said, Whose
little girl are you?'  Adia replied,  'I'm Alma’s little girl.'  He said,  'Run on home to your
Mother and tell your daddy hello.'  Ada in her teen years spent many days with her
grandmother,  William Dorris Hendrick's second wife Alvira Lavona,  and cherished the
memory of a close relationship which she did not share with her grandfather,  whom she
always admired but did not know well.  Each of the five wives had a lovely home of her
own built by W. D. Hendricks.  She relates helping Grandma  Hendricks carry a
mattress home down the street,  having  just filled it with fresh straw from a
neighboring stack which had just been opened.  This was in preparation for the coming
winter.  This was usually done once a year.  Whenever there was a funeral in town, 
Grandma Hendricks. who lived alone,  without a phone of course,  would get dressed
and sit on her front porch until someone noticed her or remembered to stop by for her.-
- Every woman had a good black dress arid was  thus .ready for a wedding or a funeral.  
Ada's maternal grandmother Julia Ann Petty having turned her home into a hotel needed
all the willing hands she could find, and Ada helped in this home often with the table
and other chores.  Her favorite memory was of the traveling theatrical  troupes who
stayed with her grandmother and performed in all of the neighboring towns.  They slept
during the day,  performed in the evening and Grandma Petty had a dinner prepared for
them after each show and they then played cards late into the night.  A popular game of
the time was Fan Tan.  Women never traveled with the company which necessitated
men playing the part of women.  She was startled one day to see a side door open from
one of the rooms and the most beautifully dressed woman she had ever seen emerge and
stroll downtown.  It was, of course,  a man in costume shocking  the townspeople. 
When the first post office was opened, the United States government sent their own
person out to run it.  The people felt that the government did not trust a Mormon in this
position  to handle their own mail.  Peddlers roamed the. countryside selling  pots and
pans,  fabric, ribbon, laces and thread.  This was as exciting to the women on the farm
as a day of shopping  for milady nowadays.  Fabric was also purchased in mercantile
stores in Richmond and Logan.  Ada in her middle teens clerked in the Richmond
Mercantile for a Mr. Monson, of whom she was very fond.  Ada and her mother would
take their fabric and pattern and frequently drove the horse and buggy to Smithfield to
have a dress made or fitted.  She studied the organ and taught younger girls in town to
play.  Her father played a guitar. When a stranger arrived in Richmond to give music
lessons,  his son Vernon expressed a desire to learn to play.  Vernon took his father's
guitar and had taken several lessons when his teacher said the instrument needed some
repair which he could do.  He kept it with the understanding that he would return it at
the next lesson.  Vernon never saw his teacher or guitar again.  One last story.  Ada and
two of her younger brothers drove either a sleigh or buggy to Richmond,  two miles
away,  to school at least one winter.  They carried hay behind the seat,  tied the reins to
the sleigh,  tucked themselves under a warm robe and Old Maude took them to school. 
They tied her under a tree for the day,  fed and watered her at noon.  I feel sure there
were many children from outlying  farms who did the same thing.  One particularly cold
winter day their father Alma was concerned about sending  them alone and decided to
go along and spend the day visiting with his mother in Richmond.  He only went once. 
He said the children knew how to survive and he didn't.  He was so cold, he spent most
of the trip running  by the side of the sleigh or leading the horse.
An item about the operation of the flour mill.  The flour was sacked in bags marked
Remus Omaha Bag Company.  A certain weight,  or measure was removed from each
bag of flour to pay for the bag.   Sixty pounds of wheat was exchanged for forty pounds
of flour.  This was the way they made a profit.
Ada's husband being a professional writer,  naturally wrote for a hobby,  sometimes
poetry. My  mother Ada Vilate Hendricks Larsen was the inspiration for many of his
poems.  I have chosen the following for  this history:


Her gentle presence filled a home
With comfort and delight
That radiated from her soul
Like soft celestial light.
It fell round us like a glow
Of sunshine from above
And filled our hearts with solace
From a sweet transcendent love.

Her magic kiss dispelled the cares
That crowded thick and fast;
Lo, ere we knew it, unawares,
Our sorrows all had passed.
A word, a touch, the deed was wrought,
She healed a bleeding heart;
The saddening  things were all forgot,
So wondrous was her art.

She realized her noblest call
In toiling for her own;
A benediction fell on all
Within that hallowed home.
She  moved about; her gentle voice
Like music's softest strain
Went out to make a world rejoice,
An infinite refrain.

Ah, greater love hath none than this
For every life she gave,
Her own she put upon the rack,
Serenely faced the grave.
Her cup of sorrow oft ran o'er; 
The days filled up with cares;
She lived to bless the lives she bore,
With love and tears and prayers.

Louis W. Larsen

High Creek Mill: Cove, Utah

Larsen History Index
History of Louis William Larsen