Articles published in the Blue Mountain Panorama

This blog was created to preserve digitally, articles written by Janet Wilcox for the Blue Mountain Panorama. This newspaper is published in Blanding, Utah by Neil and Becky Joslin. By publishing digitally, more photographs can be added, and your comments and corrections can be quickly noted. Thanks for reading my articles in the newspaper, as well as on the Internet. If you have ideas for stories, please contact me at

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The 100 year Metamorphosis of a Home

By Janet Wilcox

This year marks 100 years that the Wilcox home has been in existence.  Our curiosity about the history of our house was first piqued when we remodeled the kitchen in 1977 and found copies of the Deseret Evening News dated 1912, in the walls.  They had evidently been used for insulation.  We saved some of the newspapers and these became the starting point for a research project that three of our sons (Aaron, Robert, and Nathan) did for a Regional History Fair in 1984.

The boys interviewed several people who had either owned or lived near our home in the past.  Primary informant was Alma Palmer who had kept a detailed journal of every improvement he made on the property when they owned it, as well as its cost. Verde Washburn Hughes who also lived in our home, also provided information via letters and sketches March 18, 1984.  Ervin Guymon also remembered much about the history of the early owners, as he lived just up the block.

The original structure at 112 S. 300 W. was at first a small granary, but was later turned into a two-room home by Benjamin Grant Black, the year he married Jennie Melinda Brown in 1912.  Four the Black’s children were born in this little wood home.  They lived there for seven years, and the sold it to LaVell and Wasel Washburn.

It was during 1912 that the first elementary school was also built in Blanding, and in 1914 the South chapel was begun.  In 1915 the Grayson post office was changed Blanding, and the next year the town built its first reservoir (1916) and the stone bank and Blacks grist mill were also built. 
LaVell traded the corner lot west of Morley Guymon’s (where Deb and Charles Orvin now live) to Benjamin Black in 1919 for the little home and lot.  Originally the kitchen door was on the north, with a small porch. 

Verde recalled, “Oh, the cave of that vine covered porch, the play house, the bed in summer, and reaching through those vines in winter for a bite of clean snow.” 

This shows the corral and granary build by
LaVell Washburn
LaVell expanded the kitchen and added a lean-to bedroom and moved the kitchen door to the south. There was no inside water, but there was a stand tap on the north side.  The Washburns had six children and had two big beds in the bedroom, “There was with no room to move or mop,” said daughter Verde Hughes.  Vela and J.B. Washburn were both born in the living room of the little three-room home. The walls were adobe and the roof was tar papered by her mother Wasel.  The wall boards were calcimined. 

The corrals and barn were built by the Washburns.  An irrigation ditch ran past the north side of the house. The granary and livestock pens were located on the east side of the barn.  Like most Blanding families, the Washburns, kept a milk cow.  “LaVell could whirl a full bucket of milk around his head and not spill a drop,” remembered his daughter Verde. “And Wasel made the best bread in the world, divinity candy, mashed potatoes and gravy, pies and delicious beans.”

In 1931 LaVell Washburn sold his Alkali Ranch and bought Zeke Johnson’s brick house across the street (where Maureen Beeson lives).  Wasel had helped her father David Patten Black build that house in 1915.  The Blacks lived there until 1929 when David Patten traded it to Zeke Johnson for the Charley Sipe home. 
Ilene Palmer as toddler

Margaret Palmer Redd getting ready to ride horse.
Shows the west side of the house. and edge of the chicken coop.

The Washburns sold their little home to Alma and Lila Palmer in 1931.  All of the Palmer children were raised there.  They had three milk cows and 44 pigs at one time, and Lila usually did the milking, gardening, & watering because Alma was away doing road construction and other projects.  Alma did, however, keep a very detailed diary of all his business dealings and the following data came from his diary:

1946—Built a second level addition, also added a porch, and front room.  Robert Dodge and Frank Wright did the work. A garage was built, cost $370; a picket fence was also added.

1949—Cement walks were poured around the home, cost $117; brick planters were put in which cost $190.  The Chicken coop was built for $485.  (All are still intact.)
Play house and swings on the north west corner of lot.

1950—Planted the maple tree on the north lawn. (Now 62 years old.)

1952--Planted the Ash tree on the north lawn. (60 years old).  Neighborhood girls who grew up with Margaret, Ilene, and Shirley also remember the play house Alma built for his kids, and how much fun it was to play there.

Shirley Palmer by front gate.

Patio doors on south side

1955—A fireplace and large patio doors were added on the south by Ernest Sondregger.

As busy as Alma and Lila were, they probably didn't much
chance to enjoy these lounge chairs.  The big propane tank
 was still there when we moved in.
1959—The bedroom walls downstairs were lined with knotty pine; cost $225; more picket fence built by Alma.

1974 shows wagon wheel fence, barn, and chicken coop
1960—Installed the wagon wheel fence.  

This shows the paneling in 1974 when we moved in.
1962—Home was remodeled again; paneling installed in the front rooms for $300.  Doug Harvey and Don Pendleton, Glen Johnson did most of the carpentry.  This was beautiful dark walnut paneling made from scratch.

1973—Pete and Charlotte Black bought home from the Palmers; insulation was blown in to the attic.

1974—The Blacks sold the home to the Wilcox family.  We had four children at the time: Aaron 4, Rob 3, Nathan 2, and Chris 1 year old.  After living in a trailer for six years, we thought we had moved into a castle!!

The house as it looked when we moved in.
Debarking the Elm tree to kill it
1975—We reshingled the house, remodeled and insulated the middle upstairs bedroom.  Planted lawn on the west side of the house.  Debarked the elm trees on the north and south to kill them, as they were over powering the Maple trees.  We loved the large garden and orchard area as both of us were raised on Idaho farms. Two of the original grapes vines are still growing.

1976-- Feb. 2, Quentin born; large garden planted (and each year afterward).

1977—Drilled a well near the barn.  Cost $1221, Anthony born Sept. 27

1978-79—Dick Einerson remodeled our kitchen, added new cabinets.  Cost $4000.  Autumn born Oct. 31   Built a grape arbor, and planted more trees and grapes.

1981—Andrew born April 6. 
1982—Installed chain link fence around three sides of the acreage. Stubbs family shared in the cost.

1987—Added on 12 feet to west end of home, and brought the walls straight up on the 2nd story.  This added four more rooms upstairs. Hoyt Hoagland did the work and remodeling for $17,000.   Our family did the sheet rocking, perfataping and painting and finishing work.  It was a long winter!

Jan. 4 , 1990—A house fire destroyed the interior walls downstairs, and smoke damaged the rest of the home.  We were devastated to lose all the hard work we had just completed. The basic structure, however, was still solid.  Bishop and Sister Webb generously invited us to stay with them, until we could find another place to stay. Nine people for company—just imagine!
Our neighbors and friends helped clear out the insulation, and burnt sections as well as wash our clothes, dishes, and anything salvageable.  What a labor of love they provided. We were soon able to rent Dr. VanDyke’s home, where the Giddings now live on the dump road.  Scott Hurst and his crew rebuilt our home and we moved back in 6 months later.  They did amazing work, and made the home better than ever. 

July 1990  Hurst Building added new wiring, insulation, plumbing, bay window on south, termite prevention, storm windows, new furnace, porch in front, vinyl siding and cement work.  They took down walls in the kitchen/family room area, added a big support beam, to open up the back of the home.  Taylor Palmer did the cabinets for the kitchen and office.  They did wonderful work, and we were so thankful to be back in our home.

1992—City installed curb and gutter on 3rd west and 1st south.

2006—Tired of hauling around water hoses for 30 years, we installed a sprinkler system, in preparation for leaving on the mission in 2007.

Most recently we leveled off the patio area with new cement and added a deck with an escape route in case of fire.  It has only taken us 20 years to do that!

We love our home, and appreciate changes and improvements made over the past 100 years.  It has served its occupants well and been a wonderful refuge to all the families who lived there and hopefully a friendly respite for those who come to visit.  Often we are quick to tear things down and start over, instead of valuing the stability and soundness of our foundations.  We truly have learned to value those who came before us, each one adding significant and beneficial contributions. Each one adding a new level of enjoyment to the structure and property. So Happy Birthday to our Black, Washburn, Palmer, Black, Wilcox home.

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