John Raymond Lee was born at Minersville, Utah on August 28, 1877. His father was John Nelson Lee, son of Frances Lee, who with his brothers settled in Panaca, Nevada.
John Raymond married Annie Eliza Keele, daughter of David and Eliza Jane Geary Keele. Annie was born March 14, 1881 in Panaca, Nevada. They were married in 1896 and later endowed in the St. George Temple. John R. Lee hauled freight to Delamar gold mine for several years and was his father's main help on the farm, as he was the oldest son.
John R. and Annie were blessed with nine daughters and five sons. For their first several years they lived in Panaca. They left Panaca for Sunnyside, Nye County, Nevada, known as White River Valley, in 1902. After two years of farming there, the rabbits became so numerous and destructive to the crops that it became impossible to make a living. Mr. Horton, who owned the land, bought it back for $1,000.00, 480 acres and cattle.
The Lees then moved to Lund, Nevada, thirty-five miles north in White Pine County. The town had been named in honor of Apostle Lund. John R. purchased a home from Bishop 0. H.Snow, a city lot and five acres of land. Later he increased his acreage. Estella and Melba were born in Lund, joining Harold who was born at Sunnyside and Myrtle, Ada, Jesse and Birdetta who had been born in Panaca. John (Ray), wanting to increase his holdings after about three years in Lund, decided to move his family to Preston. He raised hay, grain, vegetables and cattle. The family moved to Preston about 1906. A son, Porter Lavon, was born here but lived only six weeks and he was buried in the Preston Cemetery. Guy and Margaretta were also born in Preston. Ray then bought another home, in addition to the one he already owned. It was a financial mistake. He suffered physically with a very painful inguinal hernia, as many men did at that time, because of the heavy lifting needed on the farm. For many years Annie went into the fields and worked right along with him until the boys were large enough to help.
Ada recalls an incident when she and Myrtle, ages 5 and 6, went for a ride in an old wash tub out on the large pond on the ranch at Sunnyside, luckily they were discovered before they capsized. The water was very deep in the middle of the pond and neither girl knew how to swim. In later years the two older girls helped their father with the farming until Jesse was old enough to take his place beside his father.
The house they lived in was a small two room log home with a "leanto". Annie and Ray sang duets at many church and town functions. Ray loved to play the harmonica and was a caller atthe many quadrilles, so popular at that time. Annie would chord on the organ, and it was just a natural thing for the family to learn to sing together. Ada also played the organ. All the children had nice voices and every family get-together meant sharing the familiar old "home" songs.
Annie was an accomplished seamstress and Lydia Munson, who lived across the street from the Lees, recalled a time soon after Guy's birth when Annie called to her to come and see what she had made. When she ran across the street she found 5 pretty little girl's dresses laid out onthe bed that Annie had just finished making. The baby was 3 days old.
Ada remembers a happy childhood with the simple things, as life for most early settlers was making their own entertainment. She attended school in a one-room school house which served as a church and community building also. She recalls one Christmas in Preston when her father Raymond was Santa Claus (as he was many times) and that evening as they were enjoying the community Christmas tree party, Santa was distributing the gifts for the children when he got too close to one of the candles which ignited his beard. Ada said she couldn't understand why "mama" went running after Santa Claus as he made a hasty exit. She remembered the miracle of Christmas and receiving gifts that Santa brought, even after Daddy had told her Santa was too poor to visit that year. She and Myrtle had great times "fixing" all the young girls' hair for dances and entertainments. They were "self made" beauticians and were kept very busy making other girls beautiful.
Annie was a fine cook and many young couples in Preston and Lund tell about the 19 pies or 20 cakes that were made for their receptions by "Sister Lee".
Birdie remembers how different discipline for school children was handled as compared with today's methods. She told of Jesse being severely punished because he was disrespectful to Mrs. Brown, his teacher. He was called into the Principal's office and soundly whipped. His fatherand mother, working in the garden close by, heard his cries but the decision of the teachers and school administrators was upheld and they did not interfere. Jesse carried welts on his back for several days.
In the winters the farmers took the wagon beds off the wheels and put them on sleigh runners. Straw was put in the bottom and with warm quilts and a heated brick or two, the children loved to ride to church or around the town with "Papa" skillfully handling the horses.
She, too, remembers a unique Christmas when Santa Claus came to the community program to distribute gifts, and how disappointed she was that "Papa" missed seeing him because he had to go "see to the horses" just before Santa came. It was several years before she knew that Papa and Santa were the same person.
Birdie also remembers an incident about a disagreement among the Indians close by. It seems that one woman accused another of stealing money she had earned scrubbing floors. The quarrel became so violent it was necessary to call the town marshall. The accused woman was questioned and searched but the money was not found. Finally some one suggested her hair should be searched because it was thick and piled high on top of her head with hair pins. The money was found and the dispute settled peacefully.
Love between neighbors was truly practiced during those times. The older girls remember when Brother Ivins was on a mission and "Papa" told the girls that Santa couldn't come to the Ivins family house because all their money had to be sent to their missionary father, and Papa further asked the Lee girls if they would share what they had received with the Ivins girls. They remember the warm feeling of love when the gifts were delivered along with cookies and candy that "Mama" had made. There were tears of gratitude and love exchanged, making it a most memorable Christmas.
Annie was a very capable practical nurse, as was her dear friend, Margaret Windous. These two girls exchanged services for each other when their babies were born, each attending the other with love and kindness.
It was a memorable occasion to watch Annie make taffy candy. She had the unusual strength in her arms to pull the shining candy into glistening strands that was so good.
Her stamina was almost legendary. She never was attended by a doctor for any of her children's births until the 12th, Ida Mae, was born. Some of the feats of strength credited to her by Preston neighbors in later years would seem impossible to this generation.
John and Annie found life hard at times with such a large family but there was a great abundance of love between them and their children which seemed to compensate for many things of the world which they did not have. They gave love and friendship to all people they knew through out their life time. They left Preston in 1911.
At the present time all children of John R. and Annie are still living except John Lester who was killed during World War 11 in the South Pacific, Elzada died in 1924, Guy deceased 1954, Myrtle in 1969 and Harold in 1976.
Written and submitted by:
Mae Lee Munson and Georgia Munson