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Arthur Leonard Elledge

In July 1912, after I had turned fourteen in June, our family (Papa, Mama, my older brother, Warren, and myself) moved from Los Cerritos, Colorado, to Franklin, Arizona. My other brothers and sisters -- four of them -- had married and left home. We made the move because Papa had made arrangements with his brother Isreal for us to become sharecroppers on his small farm in Franklin.

My parents (James H. Elledge and Mary Ann Wilson Elledge) had been quite prosperous in Colorado, where they owned a large farm and a general store. But Papa had made an unwise venture in the flour milling business and it had drained them of all their assets (the farm, the store, and everything else); and left them completely broke. And now Papa, at the advanced age of 59, had to try to start all over again. This share-cropping on his brother's small farm was all he could find to do; and that only through his brother's generosity, for he really did not need us.

After my folks had the misfortune with the flour mill (and perhaps as a result of that humbling experience), they joined the Mormon Church. Stella, Warren and I were also baptised then. Manassa, which was close to Los Cerritos, was a Mormon town and they had sent their missionaries to talk to us. Up to this time, although Papa's whole family had joined the church, he had shown very little interest in any religion.

The transition from the clear, cool, snow and artesian-well fed streams that I had fished in in summer and skated on in winter in Colorado, to the hot, dry desert hills of the Gila Valley and the muddy water of the Gila River, itself, was very difficult for me.

My first day in Arizona left a bad impression on me that I was never able to shake. Of our family, Papa and I came first. Mama and Warren came a few weeks later. We came to Franklin by train -- it was only a flag stop -- and got off in the worst heat I'd ever felt in my life. The salty sweat ran down my brow and stung my eyes. The bottoms of my feet burned through the thin soles of my shoes as I stood on the hot ground. My clothes were wet with sweat. I was truly in hell.

Uncle Frank McGrath, who had married Papa's youngest sister, Laura, was at the train to meet us. Uncle Frank ran a small store in Franklin (the only one there), and he and Aunt Laura lived near by. He took us home with him, and Aunt Laura fed us. Here at Aunt Laura's we found my Grandmother Elledge in bed. She had had a stroke about a year before and was unable to walk or talk, and Aunt Laura was taking care of her.

Pretty soon Uncle Iss came in his one-horse buggy, and after we visited and talked for awhile, he took me to his farm about two miles further up the Gila Valley east of Franklin. Uncle Iss's house, which was to be our future home, was a small, three-room frame house with a small porch.

Of course, the first thing I wanted when we got to Uncle Iss's was a drink of clear, cool, cool water. He took a tin bucket from a bench, sloshed the little water it had in it around as he went to the door, threw the muddy dregs in the yard, and said to me, "Come on, Kid." He led me to a ditch about a hundred yards up the lane. Here he dipped the bucket into the chocolate-colored water that was sliding slowly by, carried it back down to the house, put it on the bench, took a tin dipper off a nail in the wall, dipped it into the goo, and handed it to me. "Drink's on me, Kid," he said, and laughed fit to kill.

"You drink first, Uncle Iss," I said. I didn't think anyone would drink that stuff. But he did drink it, and heartily. I took a couple of swallows like I was taking warm castor oil -- I had no alternative but to die with thirst.


Autobiography provided
by a daughter
Fauna Ladelle Elledge Hinton

INTERNET Adaptation
by Sandra S. Bray