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2022 Clark Family Tour

The Family File

A Tribute To Alice Susan Bell Clark Steed

By Ora Steed Larsen

It happened 112 years ago. The winter was bitter cold, but the hospitalable pioneer spirit never failed to warm the chilled stranger's heart as he came through the little western town of Farmington, Utah. On this January day there was much bustling and no little anxiety in one of these homes. The time was at hand. The three children were sent over to Auntie's home across the street to spend the night.

In the morning they were awakened to hear the happy news as their father tenderly kissed them and said, "A new baby sister has come to live with us." Back in their home the children looked in awe upon the newborn babe with a spirit just sent from heaven. An appropriate name for this tiny girl was an issue hard to decide. The family finally agreed on three names, Alice Susan Bell.

Just how much this loving unselfish happy spirit was missed from her heavenly home may be known in a small degree by the great joy she brought to others in earthly life. Surely she brought much of the influence of that heavenly place. Eagerly she took her place in the large Ezra T. Clark family.

Her childhood was very happily spent among kind and understanding brothers and sisters.

Being of a prayerful nature she learned early in life the strength and power obtained from spiritual communion with Heavenly father. On one occasion she lost her brother's ball; anxiously she searched. She just had to find the ball; it was such a prized toy. She felt the impulse to cry but then she thought, "The Father in Heaven knows where the ball has gone and if I ask He will help me find it." Her request was answered for almost immediately she discovered the ball lying near by. This little experience strengthened her faith for greater trials, which followed later in life.

Mother grew up attending Church and was privileged to attend the first Primary under the direction of Aurelia Rogers.

Mother was greatly blessed with a young brother, John. This congenial companionship was beautiful and unusual. They never had a quarrel. This close association continued as they taught school together in Minersville, Utah. But sad experiences were soon to happen. John received a call to serve a mission for the Church in the Holy Land. A year later he contracted smallpox, died, and was buried there. For weeks she mourned his death. Then one morning she heard his voice repeat the last words he said to her, "Alice you said you were not sorry I was going on a mission, now why are you so sad?" The naturalness in his voice brought much comfort, the consolation, which never left her.

Mother attended the LDS College and later the Brigham Young University and taught school in Tooele as well as in Minersville. "Life is good to me" she often remarked, "and if I live but one more day, I am paid for living." This remark pleased her father.

During the year 1897, mother married Walter W. Steed, our father. From this union were to be born seven children, five boys and two girls. The boys, Milton, Joseph, Newel, Woodruff and Hubert; the girls, Rhoda and Ora completed the family. They began their married life in a two-room home on what was known as the sand ridge, which later developed into a beautiful farming district. The sunsets on the Great Salt Lake were so lovely an artist from Salt Lake would come and paint them from our front porch.

The following years were hard busy ones. At times discouragement seemed to smother the glowing faith completely from her heart. At one time she felt her trials more than she could bear and her father's voice spoke to her saying, "Alice that is such a little thing. You have so much to make you happy."

Mother scarcely had time for recreation but friends thoughtfully brought books and she eagerly gleaned their pages, which stimulated her in body and mind.

Not all was seriousness in her life. There was the time the family dog carried the Sunday roast off the table and the family followed in pursuit. There was the pet lamb who ate the clothes from the line. Then there was the day old Nip was hooked to the buggy to take mother to fill a Relief Society appointment at West Layton. She had the oldest and youngest at that time with her, Hubert on her lap and Milton driving, as they were turning to leave the yard, the top of the buggy was caught in the children's' swing, and started it heavenward, resting the buggy on two wheels, the other two in the air. Noticing the delay, father came around the corner of the granary and witnessed their plight, right sided the buggy and they were soon on their way.

Mother had a frail body but was a spiritual giant and she taught us children the value of faith and prayer and service to the Church. Of her seven children, five fulfilled missions---two serve two missions, eight grandchildren and to date two great grandchildren have served in the mission field.

Her children have many happy memories of her teachings. Joseph remembers mother bearing her testimony each fast Sunday she attended; testifying to the truthfulness of the gospel. Newel can remember mother encouraging him to develop his musical talents and enjoyed his singing very much. Woodruff relates and experience when teaching a Sunday School class he asked mother to take part. She held the class spellbound as she told of her spiritual experiences. Soon after Rhoda returned from her mission, friends from Tennessee visited us in Salt Lake. A mother among them had left part of her family at home. The day they arrived, they received word that one child was very sick. It seemed unless the child improved the friends would have to return to their home in the morning. I remember mother saying to all of us. "Let's pray." We all went into the bedroom knelt down in family prayer. Mother offered a very spiritual prayer. When the mother called her home the next morning she received the good news the child had taken a definite turn for the better at the time mother was offering her prayer. One valuable lesson mother taught me was when I gave a gift and had to choose between what I was to give and keep for myself, I was to give the best. Her motto was: "To always give the best. There is no true giving without sacrifice."

After the children were married, mother went among friends and kinsfolk with cheer, ever ready with something worthwhile to inspire and encourage them. Eagerly she made herself busy accomplishing an unbelievable amount of work. She worked in the different organizations of the Church and did Temple Work.

At the age of 76, she was seriously ill with a ruptured appendix and before leaving the hospital she had a finger amputated because of a cancerous growth. In 1960 another growth was removed from her forehead. In 1961 another growth struck at a vital spot, which was impossible to remove. Up until a few weeks before her death she kept busy. Her eyesight began failing her. She could no longer crochet, make quilts or read, but she still enjoyed good books with her reading machine. In her life's history she wrote at age 88 she tells how she enjoyed teaching kindergarten skills to her 85 grandchildren.

Mother was gifted inn writing articles and poems for special occasions. I would like to read an article she wrote for the Clark Reunion held Sept. 30, 1949 entitled "Memories." I quote:

"In calling to mind scenes and activities of my childhood, I'm reminded of how pioneer like they were, for example:

The dash churn.

Folding pieces of newspaper in long even strips for lighting candles.

The stringing wick through molds ready for melted tallow.

Gathering mulberry leaves for Aunt Nancy's silk worms.

Watching the process of silk making from the cocoon to the weaving of cloth.

Cutting and drying peaches to buy our winter clothes.

The washboard and the crude flatiron that we held with a thick pad.

Our water system consisted of surface wells, ours just outside the back door. Aunt Mary's was on the back porch. Two tall wooden buckets bound with hoops were fastened on each end of a long rope strung through an iron wheel that hung overhead of the substantially built well curb. Among this historical well we could gather for a few moments of relaxation. A cheery greeting, a mention of a good dinner, bits of news discussed etc."

Mother continues:

"I recall a scene at Aunt Mary's at threshing time. The ring of hand bells, that brought 15 hungry men to meals, the splashing of water in their hurry to wash for dinner, the long hand towels hung across wooden rollers.

Surrounding with this environment, as I grew older I naturally developed a keen appreciation and heart felt gratitude for my noble parents, and father's association with the Prophet Joseph, and his earnest lifelong testimony of God's work, for his integrity and loyalty to its principles.

For Mother's courage in leaving parents and all for the gospel's sake. For her example of faith, patience and efficiency in rearing her family.

For my wonderful brothers and sisters who's exemplary lives have so enriched my own.

For dear Aunt Mary's constant testimony and adherence to duty has been an inspiration to many."

Mother closed her remarks at the Clark reunion by giving a poem about her brothers. I quote

"Ezra James
    The eldest of this noble band
    Gave his life for the gospel plan.

    So gentle and clever in handling bees
    Extracted the honey with comfort and ease

Joseph and Marie
    Our noble pioneers
    Led the cattle to Georgetown
    Year after year.

    To Wyoming took his bride
    Where many of us were cheered by their fireside.

    The backbone of the farm
    Labored hard with patience and skill
    And was able to pay off many a bill.

    A natural teacher, missionary and friend
    Was faithful and true right to the end.

    Whose gifts are not a few
    Welds men's hearts to gospel truths.

    Banker, ex-bishop, and friend to man
    May your deeds like monuments ever stand.

    Your life, though short, was filled with good deeds
    How we've cherished your memory
    Throughout these many years.

    So loyal and firm to the truths you know
    Will reap with us all that which we sow.

Eugene and Horace
    Have fought the good fight
    May their noble posterity cleave to the right."

Although Mother never wrote a poem about her four sisters, Mary Elizabeth, Annie, Sarah and Laura, I would like to mention how she dearly loved them. Mary Elizabeth had a marked influence on Mother's early life. She died early. After Mother moved from the farm to Salt Lake the remaining sisters enjoyed each other's companionship very much. With her one remaining sister, Laura, Rhoda and I have fond memories of spending many happy hours in her home. Aunt Laura traveled to see mother a short time before her passing, which made mother very happy.

Early Memorial morning of 1946, Mother wrote a poem entitled:

My Prayer

"Father I thank Thee for senses keen
For the use of limbs to work out schemes
For the gift to see Thy wondrous works
The power of speech to tell their worth
Give me, Dear Father, the spirit of prayer
That all my loved ones these gifts may share.

Help me to sense to value of time
The will to learn Thy truths divine
For the glorious mission of Motherhood
Wherein Thy holy laws are understood
For sacred bonds of family ties
For the Celestial realm beyond the skies."

As the sun went down on the evening of June 23, 1961 at the age of 92, Mother's spirit went back home. Two sons preceded her in death; Milton, the oldest and Hubert the youngest died as a result of separate tragic accidents. The remaining five are still living.

We her children are proud of our heritage. We consider it a privilege to honor our mother this day.

(Given at the Ezra T. Clark Reunion on June 20, 1981)