Harriet Theobald Bliss Lee
by Julie Ann Bliss Hammons
[with notes from Jesse Max Bliss]
by Julie Ann Bliss Hammons
[with notes from Jesse Max Bliss]
Harriet Theobald was born the 30 of March, 1887, at Duncan's Retreat, Washington County, Utah. She was the seventh of twelve children born to George Theobald and Naomi Ruth Tanner. Only six of the twelve children lived to be adults, six children died before reaching the age of two years.. Harriet was the last of the children to be born in Duncan’s Retreat.
Duncan's Retreat was a little settlement on the Virgin River, where the settlers retreated to when they were flooded out by the unpredictable Virgin River. Harriet’s parents buried 4 children in Duncan’s Retreat. When a flood washed away the graves of her children, Naomi couldn’t bear it and they looked for another place to live.
The story as told by C. Leon Abbott is that George was sent on a scouting trip to find a place to settle. He traveled all the way to Canada and decided that Hinckley was the best place in the country. How true that is I don’t know, but Hinckley was good for a number of reasons. Located on the beds of the old Sevier Lake the topsoil stretches a mile into the earth. The Yuba Dam was being constructed and workers were given land and water rights in exchange for their labor. A number of families from the area moved to Millard County.
On June 6, 1895 she was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in Hinckley where her mother served as Relief Society President for 17 years and her father was the first Mayor.
Harriet's father and mother moved to Hinckley, Utah in 1890. Hr father bought a farm about a mile North of Hinckley. Their home was the second one built in that town. As a young child she helped her father in the fields. He would cut the grain and the children would rake it, then they would bind it. Her mother in her later years was very ill and children had to do most all the house work.
Harriet went to work for Norman Ingles Bliss in 1907 to help care for his 5 young sons after the death of his first wife. They were married 1 April 1908 in the Salt Lake Temple. Norman Ingles was the son of Norman Ingles Bliss Sr. and Lydia Mariah Fisk Stout. Norman also came from the Toquerville area, near Duncan’s Retreat.
Harriet and Norman’s first child was born 31 January 1909 at Hinckley. They named him Norman Stanley Bliss.
In the year of 1910, Norman and Harriet moved to Abraham, a small settlement a few miles northwest of Hinckley. A Mr. Woodruff and Mr. Howard had purchased a half section of land and they had hired Norman to run it for them. Three children were born to them while living in Abraham, Mary Zelma [Zel] 19 January 1911, Charles Howard 7 Sep 1912 and Theon Theobald [Bill] Bliss who was born 7 Jun 1914.
“Alfalfa seed was the main crop raised on the farm. One of the years while living in Abraham they had a bumper crop of seed. They threshed 1400 bags of seed. Norman told Harriet that she could gleen (sic) the fields and could have all the money she could make. Every morning, early she could been seen out in the fields gleening (sic) the ditch banks and other places where the mover could not get at. After the threshing was done and her seed sold she had a check in her hands of $125.00”.
In the year 1915, the Bliss family moved back to Hinckley and purchased a farm that was previously owned by David Stout. This farm was located just across the road west of her father's farm. Their farm neighbored the farm of Apostle Hinckley.
Their last three children were born in Hinckley, they were Jesse Max born 24 March 1816, Ferron Lane born 5 January 1918, and George Ingles [Joe] who was born 14 July 1919. Harriet and Norman had to work hard to make a living, and were not able to give their children very many luxuries, but at Christmas time they went all out in seeing that their children had a good Christmas. Norman was a hard worker and the family had what they needed, plus plenty of opportunity for the boys to work
Norman purchased a hay-derrick and hired himself out to work hay for others in the community. In August he was pierced by a tine of the derrick fork and the wound became infected He was taken to Salt Lake City, Utah where he died 12 August 1919. This was a terrible shock for the family and especially Harriet who was left with the farm to run and a large family. Her youngest son was only a month old.
Harriet worked hard. She would arise early, harness the horses and hook the mower, rake or spring tooth and do what needed to be done. It was said that she could handle a team of horses as well as any man. The community would allow widows to glean the fields to help with their support and Harriet also did that. This meant that she could go into the fields, and by hand, reap any crops that were not harvested, or that were growing to close to the ditch banks for the harvesters to reach. All this work she did between her other jobs. Harriet would fix breakfast for her children, and get them off to school, then walk a mile and a half to the Woodbury Grocery Store where she worked. Mr. Woodbury was very good to Harriet and helped her out all that he could.
After getting home at night she could be found hoeing weeds or irrigating the currant patch or her garden. One yea in order to keep her garden alive she hauled water from a well. Generally watering was done by irrigation.
Harriet was very faithful to her church callings and she always tried to see that her children went to church.
At Christmas time Harriet would dress up as Santa Claus and go all over town visiting the families, and giving the children a sack of candy and nuts. Only a few of the residents of the town knew who Santa Claus was. This was also a way for her to bring in extra money to the family. The trials Harriet were going through were happening during the great depression. Harriet always saw that her boys, and one daughter, had a good Christmas. One year she bought baseball bats and balls and hid them away from the children, who of course found them. The story goes that the kids would come home from school and sneak out the baseball equipment, play a while and then hide it back before their Mom came home. When the gifts were opened on Christmas Morning, they showed signs of having been used.
On the 2 October 924 in the Salt Lake Temple, Harriet married John Raymond Lee who was a neighbor. John had a large family. John’s children that were still at home stayed at his house and he would visit them in the day time and keep things running at both households. They had two sons Leo John Lee born 29 July 1925, and Otto Lee 1 January 1927. [Otto was named after a good neighbor Otto Cook] Both sons were born in Hinckley.
After the birth of Otto, Harriet came down with a condition called “Milk Fever” or “Milk Leg”, and was an infection. Without the use of antibiotics, unknown at the time, it was often fatal. Harriet needed to be taken to Salt Lake where she could receive better medical care. She gathered her children, have made arrangements for them to stay with family and friends, and told them where she wanted them to stay. She died in Salt Lake 28 Feb 1927 leaving 9 of her own children, the youngest one month old. Otto went to live with a Bishop family in Hinckley. He drowned in cistern 3 August 1928. He was named after a very good neighbor, Otto Cook.
Harriet’s funeral sermon was given by Apostle Hinckley a neighbor and family friend. She was buried in the Hinckley Cemetery beside her first husband Norman Ingles Bliss.