Daisy Richey spent her early years in Richville, a very small community between St. Johns and Springerville, Arizona, where several families had small farms along the river. She was the youngest of twelve children, nine of whom grew to adulthood.
Her mother Mary Ann Chapman, was born in Parleys Park Utah. Her father James Moroni Richey, was born in Salt Lake City. Her father's parents were married in Nauvoo, Illinois, as were her mother's grandparents on both sides. Her father was twenty-three years older than her mother and had taken a lot of teasing about robbing the cradle.
In all their travels, from Alabama to Nauvoo to Salt Lake to St. Johns, the Richeys always sang around the campfire in the evenings and they always sang 'Nearer Home.'
4. Worn and weary, oft the pilgrim hails the setting of the sun,
For the goal is one day nearer and his journey nearly done.
Thus we feel while o'er life's desert, heart and saddle-worn we roam
As the twilight gathers o'er us, we are one day nearer home.
The Richeys and the Chapmans were called from St. George and Salt Lake City respectively to settle in St. Johns, Arizona in the 1880s and that's where her parents met. Mamie and Rone, as they were called, took the honeymoon trail back to St. George to be married in the temple. They traveled with another couple and the guys did the camp cooking.
When they came back they set up housekeeping on the farm where Rone built a small house. It had no insulation as we know it and was heated by the cook stove and later, a fireplace the boys built. This was about the time the Stradling boys came courting Lou and Bessie. The children roamed the hills and meadows; the big brothers trapped in the winter, the girls made grape juice from the fruit hanging down over the spring where they got their water.
More than once they planted wheat down by the river only to have the river flood just as it ripened. The water moved through the wheat and mowed it down. One time her older brother was stuck on the other side of the river when a flash flood came roaring down. The family sat across from him all night waiting for the water to go down.
Daisy was the petted and greatly teased little sister, much younger than the others. Everyone else had chores to do or went to work, so she often felt left out. Living on the farm meant it was a long way to find someone to play with except on Sunday when everyone gathered at the schoolhouse for meetings. And even then they didn't get to play.
She dearly loved to be allowed to accompany the boys as they went after cows or took them to pasture. Her brothers kept trap lines during the winter and spring and she was allowed to accompany them one day. Some animal had been caught but had pulled up the trap and gone off with it and a bush, so they tracked it for many miles. They finally found a coyote to be the culprit.
She was eight years old before she heard anyone tell a lie. Another child had some matches and when discovered, said he got them from Daisy. She just could not believe he had said such a thing.
Sometimes the children went to school in Richville and sometimes the family moved into their house in St. Johns for the winter. Both homes were small frame dwellings with no insulation. Winter was cold and summer was hot. To make the inside walls look nicer, cloth was tacked to the framing. Snakes were known to take advantage of this arrangement and drop down on people from the ceiling.
She especially enjoyed music in school. She became so thrilled listening to the violin in her music appreciation classes that she wanted one badly. Her sister Vivian was very generous and bought her one while she was in the eighth grade and also helped pay for lessons. In high school she also played a baritone horn in the band plus violin solos and played in groups.
Her senior year activities were especially memorable. She served as secretary to the student body council, sang a small solo in the operetta, played a violin solo at graduation and participated in the music festival. Vivian had bought her a beautiful dress for graduation. She had a date with the 'only boy,' Ivan Lewis who had moved to St. Johns from Ramah with his sister and grandmother to go to his senior year of high school.
He had been her escort to several dances; they had especially enjoyed Senior Ditch Day and the school picnic together. He took her home to dinner one day during school. In fact they spent a lot of time getting acquainted that spring. When he came to the house she had time to powder her nose, etc. as he always came whistling down the street. They saw each other several times during the next few months. An overnight outing at the ice caves, a dance in Ramah. She spent Christmas in Ramah and stayed until after the New Year's Dance.
Ivan wanted to serve a mission before he thought about getting married so when he went back to Ramah at the end of senior year, they broke up. That summer Ivan was called to serve three years in the Samoan Islands.
Then when Vivian and Clarence were married in March, Daisy was given her sister's job by Albert Anderson, keeping books and clerking for Albertson Mercantile and Drug Store. She worked there for the next three and a half years, sometimes even making out tithing receipts when people came in to see 'Bishop' Anderson and he wasn't there. The bishop said he thought she did a good job of signing his name.
About half way through his mission Daisy sent Ivan a Christmas card and that started them writing. When he came home he showed up one Sunday at her church building, looking for her, of course. She invited him home to dinner a couple of weeks later. The story of their getting engaged goes something like this. After eating they were sitting on the couch while her mother finished up in the kitchen. When Mary Ann came out, she asked them, "Are you two getting married?"
Daisy: "Well, he hasn't asked me lately."
Ivan: "Will you?"
Daisy: How about tomorrow?
The next day her brother Hugh, who was bishop at the time, married them. After a reception they loaded everything in someone's truck and took it all to Ramah. The first summer they helped Ivan's uncle dry farm pinto beans and lived in a very small one-room house on the farm or 'ranch' as they called it. All their water was hauled from someone else's well. That year was very hard work for both of them.
In October of 1937 they went to the Mesa temple to be married there.
A year later they moved back to St. Johns where Ivan began working in construction. Their oldest child Dwyn was born in St. Johns. Ivan was here and there in construction so they had her brother Hugh make them a small trailer house which was convenient so they could all be together. Ivan often said the trailer was so small (6x13) that he had to go outside to change his mind. They lived in it as they moved from Clifton, north to the Navajo Reservation and west to Parker then east to Ramah again where they sold it shortly after Sharon was born, as there wasn't room for four children.
When Tani was a baby they lived in Ivan's aunt's house for a while. One day while the baby bounced in his jumper Daisy started to move some of Aunt Roxie's magazines and happened on an exciting story about Indians. As she stood there reading, the baby made some protesting sounds. As she turned toward him she saw this Indian woman standing in the living room and gave a little scream. The woman laughed, thought it was a good joke. She was a friend of Aunt Roxie's; always just walked in when she came to visit.
Their trusty Model A car pulled the trailer everywhere they went and it is a wonder they didn't lose the trailer, car and all of them, off a mountain between Clifton and St. Johns. Rains had made a slick road and while Ivan drove Daisy tried to push the trailer house back on the road as it was slipping dangerously near the edge. When Ivan felt it slipping he gave the car all the gas he could and they barely made it over a small hill. It was surely prayers and not physical strength saved them that time.
Also later that day they had a flat tire and no spare. They'd gone to Morenci on the strength of a job that didn't materialize so after Ivan did some odd jobs they'd decided to go back to St. Johns poorer than when they arrived. Back to the flat tire. They were really off on a lonely road, scarcely any traffic and night coming on when another miracle happened. The sheriff from Eagar came along and lent them his spare so they could make it to Springerville where they left his tire and had theirs repaired.
They got tired of following his jobs so they built a house in St. Johns where they would live all the time and Ivan would come home on the week ends. That was okay for three years or so, then they had to move around again because the jobs were so far away.
Never in good health, Daisy did all the things necessary to keep a family fed and clothed. She soothed sick children, baked bread, washed clothes in wringer washers with an extra tub set up for rinsing; all the thankless jobs that had to be done. She raised gardens, canned apricots and currants, and while Ivan worked out of town, she tried to convince her two boys (ten and twelve years old) that they had to ask before they took off to go camping in the hills. She even managed to do some genealogical research while the children were young; all of her sources were carefully noted.
The kids grew up, moved out and got married, and life eased up a little for both Ivan and Daisy. Daisy's poor health limited her involvement in holding church positions but she did as much as she could. At one time she led the Primary children's singing. She suffered a heart attack, recovered, enjoyed her grandchildren, took care of her aging mother. She was fifty-eight when her mother died at the age of one hundred and one.
At home she had a wonderful sense of color both in decorating and in her clothing choices. Second-hand furniture became something special as she attached carved ornamentation and gave it an antique finish. Many other treasures made her home a lovely place.
Right now we visualize her having a grand time with her parents and grandparents and all her brothers and sisters on the other side of the veil. Little sister is home at last.
Sketch by her daughter Dwyn Larson