Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy 154th Birthday, William Ira Hatch (1857-1919)!

Anna Hatch Cramer's grandfather

William Ira Hatch was the son and grandson of pioneers on both sides, named after his two pioneer grandfathers William Thompson and Ira Hatch.  Both his father and father-in-law served in the Mormon Battalion.  

William was the oldest of eight children of his father Orin's second family, with thirteen half-siblings. Orin lived with first wife’s family (although for holidays and occasions the two families would gather together), so William grew up in his Grandpa Thompson’s home and his grandpa was an important father figure in his life. 

As a boy, he usually went barefoot in the summer and one day stepped on a piece of red hot metal at the local blacksmith shop.  He ran to the creek, dangled the burned foot in the water, and stayed there all day until it stopped hurting.  William was twelve years old when the railroad was built past his father’s home, and he worked a great deal with livestock in his father’s company, Deseret Live Stock.

When William first saw Margaret at a party at her home, he said he knew she was the girl he wanted to marry. William would accompany her to dances, but not participate—he “had no music in his toes.”  As newlyweds they lived in Bountiful. In 1885, the couple and their two young children settled in Scipio by William’s pioneering Thompson uncles.

William was six feet tall, a well-built man with jet-black hair and sparkling brown eyes.  His fair, sensitive skin sunburned easily, which was difficult for a farmer.  He also had tender feet, which his children bathed every evening.  He wore wool socks year round and Maggie made special deerskin gloves for his hands.

William rocked his children when they were ill, read the paper daily, and was a man of great discernment.  He was always neat, patriotic, methodical and even-tempered, speaking quietly and kindly even to the animals on the farm.  He often helped the Indians, was active in civic affairs, and served as justice of the peace.  William and Maggie visited the sick and went everywhere together.  They had their remaining teeth pulled and false ones fitted by an itinerant dentist in their kitchen in the early 1900s.

 For much of his adult life William served as a bishopric member or bishop, presiding during the time of the flu epidemic.  William nursed his entire family back to health in 1918, but contracted the flu himself the next year and died from complications that led to spinal meningitis.  He was buried without a public funeral due to the epidemic (an informal funeral was held in the yard).  An inactive neighbor  came to view his body, looked into William’s face for a long time, then said: “There lies the best damn man that ever lived.” 

William and Maggie had been planning to retire to Manti to do temple work, and she carried on that dream alone.  Perhaps it's the fair-skinned sunburn connection I feel, but William's story tugs at my heart.  I would give him some Neutrogena SPF100 with lots of love.

1 comment:

  1. I'd give him some nice, comfortable shoes with in-soles to help his tender feet.