Mart was born September 20, 1892 to Samuel Alonzo and Mary Alice Burgess Gardner at Pine Valley, Washington Co., Utah. He was given the name Martin after his grandfather, George Martin Burgess. He was stricken with Spinal Meningitis when he was almost 2 years old when an epidemic hit Pine Valley. Mother often remarked that she and Father were greatly blessed because Mart's affliction had crlppled his legs and not his mind as was the case with others who were stricken at the same time. He was very active throughout his life in spite of the handicap.
Mart was the third child born to our parents and spent his early childhood in Pine Valley, Grass Valley and St. George, Utah. Father moved his family to St. George during some of the winter months where he found employment.
Mother has told that Mart was always agreeable and pleasant with his family and friends even though he was unable to participate in some of the play and activities. He never complained.
He came to Lund with his parents in June 1899. He was only 7 years old at the time but was very helpful in many ways. He was very active on his crutches and was determined to do the things other boys of his age could do. He rode horses, drove teams and was able to saddle and unsaddle his horse and would harness the teams and hitch them to the wagons. If something was a little hard to do, he would work a little harder to accomplish the task he set out to do.
He commenced school at age 8 years and went as far as school years were available at that time. Later he attended high school in Ely and then in Lund after the high school was established here in Lund.
He attended Primary, Sunday School and other Church meetings. He was baptized at 8 years of age as each of our parents' sons and daughters were.
Mart was often praised for the courageous deeds he performed; for example, when he rode his horse into the hills and valley between Lund and Ely and found a horse that belonged to a grocery man in East Ely. He trailed the horse to Ely and to its owner. This man doubted that a crippled boy could find his valuable horse and was surprised to go outside and find that the horse had been returned to him. A reward of $50.00 was paid by the owner.
Mart experienced a few bad situations with horses but never gave up riding them. One day he went to Douglas, a small ranch about 7 miles west of Lund, to turn the water. When he got off the horse, he left him standing without fastening the reins and the horse strayed away and started home with Mart following on his crutches only a few rods behind the horse. Father had become concerned and went to find Mart. Another time, the horse Mart was riding became frightened and jumped, throwing him. His foot caught in the stirrup and Mart was dragged a few blocks to home.
Mart was fond of violin music. Our parents gave him his first violin for Christmas when he was 20 years old. He taught himself to play and in 1917 he traded an old Ford car to Charley Ray for another violin believed to be a very valuable Stradivarious Violin. This violin is now (1979) in the possession of Rosemary Goss Anderson, a niece, in Sandy, Utah. Her daughter, Diana, is the first one of the family who has attempted to study violin. I've often wondered why one of the brothers or sisters did not learn to play from Mart and fall heir to this valuable instrument. Mart rode his old white horse from Lund to St. George, Utah a distance of about 300 miles to study violin under Earl J. Blake.
His violin was his most loved possession and he played it most of the rest of his life for many different occasions--entertainments, dances and for his own enjoyment. He and our sister, Ruth, played for dances in Lund--she played the organ, he the violin. Later he organized an orchestra with other Lund talent and played all over the valley and as far away as Baker and the Lehman Caves. They played for all night dances at the Gardner, Whipple and Riordan ranches. I remember how Mart would come home late at night and sit on the front porch and play his violin. A special tune comes to my mind, "The Alp's Maid's Dream," that he'd play often. I knew he was thinking of a very special girl when he'd play that tune.
After the death of our father in 1923, Mart was the "bread winner" for the ones who were left at home--himself, Mother, two young sisters and a young brother. He, with the help of our brother Jesse, made it possible for me to attend my last year of high school in Ely. I lived in Ruth with Jesse and Pearl and rode the bus to Ely to attend White Pine High School. Mart came nearly every weekend to bring me home to spend the few days.
Mart sold the farm and bought a store from E. A. Hendrix and was also postmaster for a few years. He moved his business from the back street to a building on the main street and was in the store business for nearly 50 years. He was honored for having been the longest consecutive Standard Oil operator, beginning in 1923 for a total of 47 years. He operated his business the last few years from his wheel chair. He and Mother lived near the store and after her death in 1951 he continued to live in the little house, caring for himself with the help of family and friends of Lund and Preston.
Mart was a friend to all. If anyone ever did him a wrong he was very forgiving and always, "did unto others as he would have them do unto him." His policy truly was as Edger A. Guest wrote, "Let me live in a house by the side of the road and be a friend to man."
I remember one incident in Mart's life that I thought would have been hard to forgive, but not Mart! He was down town with his friends. Two of them, supposedly his friends, took his crutches and hung them on the gate at home. Mart crawled on his hands and knees, two or three blocks to get home. He forgave them, passing it off as a boyish prank and they were later very good friends.
Mart bought his first new car, a Ford, in the summer of 1923. He had several cars, the last one a 1953 Chevrolet, 2 door sedan with hand operated controls. It is now (1979) in the hands of a very proud owner in Las Vegas. Mart had a few narrow escapes with his cars but handled them very well in his condition. He serviced his cars, changed and fixed tires and did any mechanical work that needed to be done. He'd go to Uncle Joe Oxborrow's shop to work on them. One time after working on a car, he washed his hands in gasoline to remove the grease and being near a shop fire, the gasoline caught fire and his hands and arms were badly burned. Someone wrapped a denim jumper around his arms to smother the fire and when it was pulled off the skin came with it. This was the one time in his life that he was really handicapped. His arms and hands were bandaged and he was unable to use his crutches or do anything for himself.
Mart was the town barber--for both men and women. He pressed his own clothes and did many things for himself and others that seemed almost impossible for him to do.
It was hard for Mart to go into retirement after he sold his business to the Lund Dairy Commission. The girls who took over the store appreciated any advice Mart could give them and he spent a lot of time in the store after he sold it.
Mart grew up with each generation. Old and young alike loved him and enjoyed his company. People who had moved from Lund would always take time to visit with him when they'd come home to visit their families.
Mart spent a lot of time in Blackfoot, Idaho with his brothers Claude and Jule after they married and lived there. He was always welcomed into their homes. He was an inspiration to everyone.
He entered the Rest Home in East Ely about 2 years before his death. It wasn't the happiest time of his life but he was very cooperative and made the very best of all situations whether pleasant or not. He was loved by the nurses there and they made a special effort to make his stay there as pleasant as possible. He suffered with pneumonia a few days before his death and passed away April 4, 1976 at age 83½ years. He is buried in the Lund Cemetery near his father, mother and brothers, Paul and Claude. Two other brothers also preceded him in death, Julius (Jule) and Jesse.
Written and submitted by:
Della Gardner Scow