Saturday, March 23, 2013

Lloyd Adams

My wife Laurie recently wrote an article about her grandfather Lloyd Adams. Because Lloyd was born and raised in Bluff, we thought he might prove interesting to our readers. Enjoy!
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Lloyd Adams was born December 26, 1894, in Bluff, San Juan County, Utah. He was the fourth child of John Ernest Adams and Margaret Christine Nielson Adams. When Lloyd arrived he was greeted by one older brother and two sisters. Later, two more boys and three girls joined the family.

Lloyd Adams

His family owned a cattle operation, and from a very early age Lloyd helped his father with the livestock. He learned to ride horses almost before he could walk and was considered an exceptionally good horseman. One of his contemporaries said of him, “Lloyd would leave the saddle cinch loose so he could slide the saddle around to the side of the horse, enabling him to ride through the low cedar and pinion tree branches as he pursued a maverick cow.” At Bluff celebrations Lloyd always rode as one of the main jockeys. It was about his tenth year that he really started punching cows with his dad. The range where the cattle grazed spread from Bluff to Elk Mountain and down into the lake country.

While still a young boy, Lloyd spent much of his free time with his grandmother Adams who raised bees and extracted honey for the family. Most of the family wealth came from sheep and cattle, however, they also raised corn and alfalfa; their main crops. Bluff had only so much farming ground, so the settlers divided it up, allotting each family approximately 10 acres. Everyone raised a garden, fruit and hay. Each family also owned a milk cow, a pig and some chickens. In the winter when the river was frozen, they’d cut and stack cubes of ice (approximately a foot thick) and tuck sawdust (hauled from the saw mill) around the blocks. The ice would keep all summer, which was a necessity to store food until the new crops produced. The ice was also used to make their special summertime treat - ice cream!

The only store in town was the Bluff Co-op, and nearly everybody in town had stock in it, including the Adams family. Grandmother’s honey was a valuable commodity. Needed supplies not grown in Bluff were hauled in with teams consisting of four horses hitched to a wagon, two if they had a trailer. They went as far as Durango or Mancos, Colorado and Thompson Springs, Utah to meet up with the closest railroad. It wasn’t until 1920 that trucks starting taking over.

Water was as hard to come by then, as it is now. Bluff residents used water from the San Juan River primarily for irrigation; letting the sediment settle out before using it for culinary purposes. They dug shallow wells when they first settled by digging between 10-30 feet down, lowering a bucket and retrieving it when the container was full. It wasn’t until they drilled deeper and found artesian pressure that the river became less important and they had decent drinking water.

Lloyd and his younger brother Melvin had the energy typical of young boys, and did their fair share of mischief. The shade tree on Bluff's Main Street was a favorite place for the townspeople to sit out on benches in the evening. One night the boys created some degree of excitement when they tied tin cans to the tail of a big old bull and chased it up the street. They were also known to "borrow" their share of the melons that Bluff grew in abundance. Where there was a prank, Lloyd would generally be found.

In the years Lloyd lived in Bluff there wasn’t a lot to occupy one’s time, other than hard work, so they created their own fun. The "Swing Tree", a large cottonwood near the river, was a favorite place for people of every age, but especially for spending the evening with that special person. Another date idea was horseback riding. The young men would get the best horse they had and take their sweetheart for a tour around beautiful Bluff.

Cliff flowers (only grown in Bluff and a certain area in Egypt) were sought after from February through March. They grew in the seeps between the high cliffs and talus slopes and had the sweetest aroma. Everybody would go up and see who could get the biggest and prettiest bunch.

Back in those days, the youth of Bluff also enjoyed rattlesnake hunting. These snakes were plentiful in the rocks, and the boys would compete, sometimes choosing teams, to see who could get the biggest and most rattles. They walked as far as Butler Wash hunting them. Lloyd claimed he was never bitten.

Fishing was another favorite past time. To increase their catch, they bought a seine. One of the boys would take the end of it and go straight out in the river and then circle way around. Then he’d come right back to the bank, pulling it in. Pretty soon the fish would be corralled and they could pull them up on the bank. Four or five boys could handle it, but the more the merrier. Catfish, suckers and carp were enjoyed by all.

During Lloyd’s youth, there were no doctors in Bluff, so the residents would have to send for one in Cortez on an as needed basis. The doctor would arrive on horseback. There were, however, two or three midwives who made Bluff home. They took on the nursing chores and the day-to-day illnesses.

During Lloyd's youth, the Indians in Bluff weren’t hostile. Every once in a while one would get out of line, but for the most part everyone got along fine. In fact, they would hire the local Ute and Navajo people to help with much of the work. In general Bluff consisted of Mormons, until gentiles came in as laborers with the stock freighting and oil booms. Lloyd claims there was no difference between them, except that the Mormons had their church duties. The prominent Mormons were the ones who settled disputes and more or less ran the town.

Some of Lloyd’s fondest memories were of the holidays, including Christmas, which was celebrated with stockings and presents - just not on the scale it is today. Other events included school programs and plays, May Day with the May pole, ball games, dances at the Ball Room cave, parties, swimming at the Swimming Hole and all sorts of town games.

Lloyd’s courage and pioneer spirit were evidenced early in his life, when he was only twelve years old. At this age he accepted the responsibility of taking a message to a Mr. Tanner who was out on the range. Lloyd had to tell Mr. Tanner that his son had been killed in an accident. There were no roads at that time, so bearing the tragic news on his faithful pack horse, he forged his own way into the wilderness to find Mr. Tanner. It took several days of searching, from Bluff down to the lake country, but Lloyd was able to accomplish his mission.

Lloyd attended school in Bluff. At that time they had eight grades and two teachers, one for the four upper grades and one for the lower four. The school was a two room building. After graduating from 8th grade he attended school in Provo at the Brigham Young Academy, always coming home during the spring. When Lloyd was 18, his family decided Blanding offered a better chance of farming and ranching (since their farm ground along with their big beautiful home had been, for the most part, washed away by the flood of 1911). Looking for more opportunity, he and his family left Bluff, making Blanding home. It was here Lloyd found his true love, Althea (Allie) Williams Adams.

With warm regards,

Barry, Steve, Priscilla and Danny; The Team

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