John William Hepworth was born at Oxford, Idaho on December 1, 1872 to Squire Hepworth and Margaret Ellen Cox. (Squire had two wives, Emily Dyson being his first wife, and Margaret Ellen Cox, his second wife.) John sister, Eliza Ellen, was also born at Oxford, Idaho.
Squire moved his two families to Springdale, Washington County, Utah which is located at the entrance of Zion’s National Park, then commonly known as Zion’s Canyon. The Zion was dedicated a national Park on September 15, 1920.
There were 26 children born into the two families. Squire and his first wife, Emily, were blessed with Thornton, born July 14, 1864, Emily and, born December 12, 1865, Amelia Jane, born October 11, 1867, Squire Edmund, born April 22, 1869, Joseph E from, born January 2, 1871, James Henry, born August 12, 1872, Charles Dyson, born August 17, 1874, Clara Elizabeth, born May 14, 1876, Mary Annice, one January 26, 1878, Russell King, born November 9, 1879, Eleanor, born August 8, 1881, Hiram born July 16, 1883, Lavinnia, born April 30, 1885, and Harriet, born October, 1887.
Squire and Margaret Ellen’s children were: John William, born December 1, 1872, Eliza Ellen, born December 19, 1874, Samuel, born March 20, 1878, Alvan Squire, born January 1879, George, born June 29, 1881, Anna Lavicia, born April 23, 1883, Lucy, born February 27, 1885, Richard, born March 20, 1887, Hannah, born May 29, 1889, Edgar Cox, born September 17, 1890, Alma Bee, born November 15, 1893, and Ira, born January 31, 1897.
Both of Squire’s families lived at Zion’s Canyon for several years. Squire was very active in the LDS Church and was the Presiding Elder at the Springdale Branch when it was organized into a Ward on November 6, 1887. They had settled in what was known as the “Gifford Place,” and each of Squire’s wives had their own home.
John recalled Squire’s first wife, Emily, always got first choice of things. His father saw to it that everyone had a musical instrument if they wanted to learn. John learned to play the harmonica and accordion. Squire taught the boys farming, carpentry, blacksmith, and shoemaking. The shoes were made from hand-tanned leather with the soles fastened to the uppers with wooden pegs. (Tacks were not yet available.) They were sown with Irish flax thread with a course hog bristle as a needle.
When Emily, Squire’s first wife, died in 1887, Margaret Ellen, John’s mother, took the children into her own home and raised them with her own children.
One experience that Ivan, John’s youngest son, remembers hearing his father tell is when John was young, he found one of his brothers asleep in a ditch, which he was supposed to have been digging out, so John turned the water in the ditch which woke his brother up fairly quickly!
John had to quit school at the “4th Reader” and finished when he was able to. He obtained about an eighth grade education.
At age 16, he freighted with horse and wagon from Utah to Mountain Home, Idaho. He hauled non-perishable foods, tools, lumber, and other items.
About 1888, John and his brother, George, left home and went to work in the Malta and Elba area in Idaho.
John married Mahala Strong Parker on December 2, 1891 in St. George Utah. They were blessed with William Seth, born November 22, 1893, John Alvin, born December 11, 1895, Squire Samuel, born April 27, 1898, Oren Thornton, born December 8, 1899, Joseph, born July 21, 1901, playful, born March 6, 1903, Merritt Edward, born March 2, 1905, Mahala Ellen, born January 26, 1907, Riley born more May 21, 1909, and Eliel, born February 2, 1911.
He was called on an LDS mission to the Carolinas when his oldest son, Seth, was a baby, in November, 1895. He was ordained a Seventy in the Melchizedek Priesthood by Lorenzo Snow and given a blessing. He left for his mission without purse or scrip. However, while on his mission, he became sick and had to return home.
Mahala passed away on September 17, 1912. After Mahala’s passing, John married Alice Ashcroft on December 4, 1913 at Albion, Idaho. Their children were: Mary Alice, born March 20, 1914, James Edmund, born September 10, 1915, Emily, born February 22, 1917, Ethel, born September 28, 1918, FE, born March 14, 1920, Ivan, born December 16, 1922, Susie, born June 13, 1924, Beatrice, born March 10, 1925, and Cora Mildred, born July 1, 1927.
All of John’s children always called him “Papa.” He may be referred by that title in this history.
While John was married to Mahala, they had resided in Utah. After he married Alice, they lived in Malta, Elba, Declo, Buhl, and Eden, Idaho. While living in Malta, he farmed 80 acres and rented another 40 acres. He used horse-drawn equipment and share cropped. When the Depression hit, he had to sell off most of his cattle. A bad business deal, where he thought the handshake was as good as a contract, forced him to sell his three-year-old steers for $18 each.
John enjoyed irrigating on the farm, so his sons and daughters did the farm work. Everyone knew not to bother his shovel and irrigating boots! It was a busy time trying to make a living for that many family members.
While his daughters were still very young, they can do great deal. They canned in large quantities, for example, 20 bushels of peaches at one time! The girls also did a lot of bread baking. John always did things in a big way!
The younger children never had a chance to go to church. Mahala, John’s daughter, held Primary at her home at East Perrine. The children went to a one room school out at East Perrine. Papa was a school board member. Effie and Ivan were the first children to graduate from high school, even though Ivan missed a lot of school due to farm work.
4 July was one holiday that Papa took off from his labors and took his family to town for the celebration. The girls usually got new voile dresses that always thrilled them. Normally, there were carnivals and parades that they were able to attend. One year, however, the carnival didn’t make it and they all went home very disappointed.
Most Christmases consisted of pieces of candy, apples, oranges, and loving, happy memories.
Those were the days of hand-me-down clothes… not too many new ones available. Papa always were Levi Strauss pants with suspenders. He wore them a long time before he’d let anyone wash them. He said they never felt the same after they were washed.
The daughter slept in the house and the boys slept in the bunkhouses. In the summer, Ivan and Jim slept in an old abandoned car body and thought it was really neat!
Ivan recalls that while growing up, they always had dairy cows to milk, beef cattle, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, a set of dapple-gray mules that weighed at least 1600 pounds each, cats, a few baby lambs, one or two goats to play with, big teams of horses, one set whose names were Jim and Jerry, and various dogs, one German shepherd whose name was Trouser and another smaller collie shepherd whose name was Bawley. Papa always said he liked his horses big and his women small!
They always butchered their own meat. When they killed a pig, they would have a big fat, full of scalding water, to get the hair off, and then would put some brine and it. They would salt the bacon sides and put on top of each other and it kept. They always had a dirt cellar full of apples, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and other vegetables.
Most of the sense, as they left home to venture out into the world on their own, were given a team of horses from Papa to help them get started in life.
The boys had to get sagebrush for wood. Later on, they went to the hills and got trees and hold them down and wagons. For those siblings who were too small to go to the hills and had to remain at home, Ivan recalls how they used to put their heads to the ground and listen for the wagons coming home.
The children had taught a magpie to talk and whistle. He could call them by their name!
John’s brothers, Alma, Edgar, and Richard worked for the family at East Perrine and slept in the hay loft. After John moved from this area, they stayed with Ira for a time.
John was about 6 feet tall, brown hair, and blue eyes. He always shared whatever he had. There were always relatives staying with him. He enjoyed family members reading to him. Ivan and Emily read a great deal to him. He loved the Scriptures and Ranch Romances. He earned the respect of all his children. He developed stomach trouble and at about the age of 42 years, he had to have a large part of his stomach removed and was told he wouldn’t live very much longer. He didn’t accept that prognosis, and told the doctor that he’d outlive him what he did!
Papa like to hunt and fish. He was a very good marksman. Ivan saw him shoot a pheasant in the air 90 yards away. He hunted until he was 80 years old and the last time he went hunting, which was in the Selway wilderness, he got lost for the first time in his life. He had wandered below a falls and thought he was above the falls. Fortunately, Ivan and Junior searched and found them safe. Ivan never went hunting again because he couldn’t take his father with him.
In John’s later years, he resided 5 miles north and ½ miles east of Jerome, and Ivan moved his house next to his father’s home. Ivan’s home had been located down the Lane from his father’s home. He saw his papa’s advice on farming and other things.
Even then, while living alone in his own home, Papa always bought sugar and flour and hundred pound bags. He just couldn’t break the habit of big amounts of food! One of his favorite meals was milk and bread in a bowl, and when they were available, radishes and onions. He always ate dill pickles with his breakfast. He liked to sit with his feet under his own table at mealtime, so his meals were taken to him by family members which you really appreciated.
Ivan never size papa drive a car. His sons and Lorin Winder, a nephew, drove him wherever he needed to go. Later on, Mahala and Ivan drove him where he needed to go.
After Alice, his second wife passed away, John never married again. With the help of Mahala, his daughter, and her husband, Jim Rowbottom, and the older girls in the family, they helped raise a fine family of seven girls and two boys. The older children remembered the love their mother had for them.
Later in life, and illness confined Papa to bed. He would listen to Bible stories on 33 1/3 RPM records that would each play for about an hour. These records made him feel very peaceful. Family members took turns staying overnight with him during this lingering illness.
10 months before Papa passed away, he said that three women had appeared to him in his room. They were his mother, Margaret Ellen Cox, his first wife, Mahala Strong Parker, and his second wife, Alice Ashcroft. They didn’t speak, but all three raise their hands so that all 10 fingers showed and Papa knew immediately that he would remain on earth for 10 more months.
On January twice second 1960, at the age of 88, Papa passed away at his home in Jerome. He was a loving, kind and generous father and grandfather to his family. He lived a good life and was a great example to all his posterity.