John Christian Oxborrow was born November 2, 1878 in St. George, Utah to Joseph Oxborrow and Mary Leicht Oxborrow, and was the fifth of their eleven children. John (known as Jack) was raised in St. George and when he was about seventeen years old, he came out to White River to work on Tom Payne's ranch. His father had died when he was fifteen and so when the Mormon church colonized Lund, the Church sent his mother, Mary, and her family to Lund to be the midwife and nurse for the community. In 1897, Mary had graduated as a nurse and midwife from the Deseret Hospital in Salt Lake City. She was an excellent Midwife and served Lund well. Soon after the Oxborrows came to Lund, the Church sent Bishop Tom Judd to Lund and they brought with them a lovely young girl, Ella Victoria Baxter. Ella was born August 31, 1881 in Toquerville, Utah. When she was ten years old, she moved to St. George where she finished school. After her father died and her mother found it necessary to relocate with the younger children in Mesa, Arizona, Ella went to work for Bishop Judd's family and lived in their home. They treated her as one of their own. She often commented how good they were to her.
Ella and Jack were soon attracted to each other and Ella related their courtship to her grandchildren. "My husband and I lived in St. George, Utah. He was very bashful and was afraid to speak to girls. I lived just a block from his home. Sometimes when I was going home from school, he would be sitting on the corral fence. I would say 'Hello' and he would leave right away. I did not see him from then until about ten years later, he moved to Nevada with his family to form an LDS colony in Nevada. About one year later, I moved out there with the family of Thomas Judd, he having charge of the Saints. I had been there about two years when my husband told his brother he was going to marry me. We had hardly spoken to each other at that time. Later he started to take me out and in two years we were married in the St. George Temple. He was a very honest and lovable man and we spent many happy years together. He was a great pal to his children and all of the children in our small town." They were married October 28, 1902.
Jack was a small, rather thin man but very strong and stout and was of English and German descent. He had beautiful auborn hair and clear blue eyes. He weighed about 140 lbs. and was approximately 5'5" tall. He had been a jockey as a teenager in St. George. Jack was a stout, hard working man with a great amount of determination and industry, but very even-tempered and somewhat quiet. Ella was an attractive mate for Jack with her beautiful long, thick brown hair and blue eyes. She was about the same height as Jack with a slight build. Earl remembers them dancing together being about the same height. Ella was of English and Scottish descent.
Life,earning a living in a wilderness wasn't easy and Ella and Jack worked hard. Their first child, John Earl, was born August 18, 1903. Jack worked for the various ranchers in the area and soon a second child came to bless their home. Thelma was born September 17, 1905.
Because it was such a problem getting provisions, Jack soon became involved in freighting, and in 1906 the family moved to Ely for the summer and lived in a tent while Jack freighted from Cobra and Shafter when the railroad was being built to Ely. They would take a team and meet the train as far as it was built, unload the cars and haul it into Ely. This was the Southern Pacific and Western Pacific Railroad and was southeast of Wells. Jack also continued to work on the ranches around Lund. When Earl was about four, Jack worked on the Hot Creek Ranch(originally the Adams McGill Ranch), then he worked on the Lewis ranch when Earl was six. Earl remembers riding horseback with Emma Tucker to school at the Whipple Ranch. At the end of that year the family moved back to Lund. Delbert was born April 18, 1910 and shorly after, Jack decided to homestead a place out to Douglas, west of Lund where he had built a two room home for the family. The day they moved, it snowed and Earl and Thelma got in the wagon under a canvas with Delbert who was a tiny baby and Jack and Ella rode up front. (Ella had a horse blanket over her for protection from the snow.) Times were hard and there were a lot of rattlesnakes to contend with at Douglas. Earl spent the winters living with Grandma Oxborrow in order to attend school. The family was back and forth between Lund and Douglas for three years. They sold the homestead and settled in Lund.
Jack and Ella were both very musical and both had beautiful voices. Jack's mother came from a very musical family and was very talented.
Jack taught himself to play the violin, harmonica, guitar, banjo, drums, and had played the trumpet when he was young. Ella's musical talent soon blossomed as she learned to play the piano and accompany him. Their home soon became a place of entertainment and relaxation when the work was done or on Sunday evening their friends would gather and enjoy an evening together singing. This was about the only form of entertainment for this small valley. Jack and Ella soon began playing for the dances for the community and became endeared to all those who grew up in Lund and the surrounding ranches as they provided an outlet from the hard work that ranching exacted from the people. When they played for the dances, Bryant Oxborrow played the banjo-mandolin, Jack played the violin and harmonica and Ella played the organ or piano. They would start dancing at about 8 o'clock and many dances would last until four in the morning. At Christmas time it was traditional to have two weeks of dancing every night except Sunday and Saturday night they would quit at midnight. Jack would sometimes get paid $5.00 per night to play until 2:00 a.m. He would get so tired, but they would want him to keep playing so they would take up a collection from the group to keep him playing a couple hours longer. Being so isolated, the people from the surrounding ranches would come to the dances and have such a good time. They would reciprocate by inviting Lund to their ranches for an all night "ranch dance". Murry Whipple would join Bryant, Jack and Ella by playing the banjo. For the ranch dances, everyone would leave Lund about noon in Model T's to get to the ranch in time to help with the chores, have dinner, a special program with readings, stories, and special musical numbers, etc. The dance would start about 9:00 p.m. with another supper at midnight and short program, then dance until after the sun came up. Everyone helped with the morning chores and go home.
Earl remembers ice skating as being another form of fun for the young people in the winter. They would go down to one of the pastures that had frozen over, build a fire, skate until about 11:00 p.m., and then go to someone's home for a chicken fry. They learned to make their own entertainment and the town became a very close knit community. The young people grew up loving and respecting their elders calling them Grandma and Grandpa or Aunt and Uncle (whether they were related or not).
Both Jack and Ella were an active part of the community, and Jack was known for his honesty and integrity as well as his hard work. Ella was active in the church serving as a Sunday School and Primary teacher and secretary for the Sunday School. She also served as a counselor to Ruth Gardner and Mary Ashworth in the Mutual. She was also noted for her beautiful handwork.
On August 26, 1915, a new baby girl was born to Jack and Ella whom they name Lola. Jack became more involved in freighting when Ruth and Kimberly were booming. He and his brother Ted and brother-in-law, Earl Ashworth, hauled wood two winters by sleigh up to the mines for fuel. They used steam hoists to lift the men out of the mines. However, most of Jack's freighting was done between Lund and Ely. The following is an incident related by Earl of one of those trips he accompanied his dad in the dead of winter. "The most vivid picture I have is of one trip we were making to Ely. We were alone and had four horses and two wagons. We got into a real bad blizzard before we got to the foot of Murry Summit so we stopped and made camp. It was snowing so bad you couldn't even keep dry around the fire. We got our horses taken care of and some supper. The beds that the cowboys and freighters had were wrapped in what they called a 'bed tarp'. It was snowing so hard that we couldn't even put the bed under the wagon as it was blowing so hard under there. We took the waterproof tarp off of the bed and put the neck yoke under the tongue and got the tongue straight and laid the tarp over the tongue to make a tent and put some rocks on each side. We put the quilts under and crawled in and went to sleep. In the morning when we woke up about daylight, there was a coyote laying on the foot of the bed...he was in out of the storm too."
In 1917, Jack bought the mail contract from Bryant Oxborrow when he got married. Jack drove this for about a year until he became ill and his son Earl drove it for another two and a half years. This was the mail run from Preston to Duckwater and Currant Creek.
In 1922, Jack and Ella moved to Ely where Jack worked for the lumber yard. They lived in Ely until Jack's death December 21, 1940. Even though Ella's health had not been too good earlier in their marriage, she outlived Jack by thirty years spending the remaining years of her life with her children until her death February 15, 1970. It was the desire of each of them to be buried in Lund, the place that was home to them.
Written and submitted by:
Jeanette Oxborrow Clark
As told by: