LYDIA MELISSA SMITH EPPERSON
Lydia Melissa Smith, eighth child of Benjamin Mark Smith and Elizabeth Agnes Wood, pioneers of 1852, was born August 2, 1873, at Midway, Wasatch County, Utah. She was the first child born on the Smith farm on Snake Creek. Her brother, Warren, was sent on horseback for Margaret Watkins, the midwife for grandma Smith.
She was baptized the 18th of December and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints January 13, 1882. She married Simon Shelby Epperson April 4, 1890, at Smith Grove, a large stand of trees on her father's property. She was sweet sixteen and he was her school teacher and often kept her after school and a favorite expression of endearment throughout their married life was "my sweet little school girl."
Lydia was re‑baptized March 15, 1896, by Attewall Wootton, Sr., and confirmed March 15, 1896, by her father Benjamin Mark Smith. She and her eight brothers and sisters traveled to Salt Lake City where they were sealed to their parents June 4, 1902. Mother said, "When we were sealed to Ma and Pa President Joseph F. Smith said they had never seen anything like nine living married children all there to be sealed to their parents." Lydia received her Temple Recommend October 17, 1902, and was sealed to her husband Simon Shelby Epperson, and their five children in the Salt Lake Temple October 20, 1902.
On 20 September 1891 their first daughter Jenny Agnes, was born. In 1894 they moved into their own home and on 6 June 1894 their second daughter, Vida Lydia arrived. Then came Simon Doyle 5 June 1897 and Edith Rosedale 20 June 1899.
In May 1901 father decided to go on the road selling ranges for the Home Comfort Range Company. For two years he would be away for months at a time traveling by team and wagon as far as Vernal, Utah, and Evanston, Wyoming. He would stop at ranches and farms selling ranges and would stay with the people he sold to or would camp out in his wagon on the road. He wrote mother two or three times a week and would let her know which town he was headed for so she could write to him. Sometimes it would be a week or two before he would get her letters.
It was while father was in the Wyoming area that tradgey struck his wife and children. Vida and then Edith came down with diphtheria. It was such a dread disease they wouldn't let anyone go near. Mother told how grandma Smith would bring soup in a bucket and food and hang it on the front gate and how grandpa Epperson pitched a tent in her back yard and took Doyle out with him so he could care for him and help mother with the chores. Vida died 9 August 1902 and was buried in the Midway cemetery before father could get home. Juanita was born 25 of August 1902 and Edith died 20 of September 1902 and was buried beside her sister Vida. Juanita came down with the small pox and died 9 November 1902 and she too was buried by her two sisters. So in three months my father and mother had lost three of their five children. Many beautiful children and adults were lost during these terrible epidemics.
Erma Lavella was born 26 August 1903, Frank Ross 14 August 1906, Lillian Estelle 16 March 1909 and Victor Robey 22 January 1912.
Lydia was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter‑day Saints all of her life. She was a Counselor in the Y.W.M.I.A. in the Midway and Heber Wards and worked in the Relief Society also. She taught Sunday School in the Heber Third Ward. She was active in the Red Cross and other community affairs. When the family moved to Silver City in 1919 she was again active in Church and Civic affairs. She was called as Counselor in the Y.W.M.I.A. and also taught a Religion Class and a class in Sunday School.
Lydia came from a musical family, she sang in the choir of every ward she lived in. My parent's hobby was singing together, they memorized more than 200 songs, 20 of which were father's own lyrics. They were much in demand to sing at Church and Community functions, often dressing in costumes; Indians, Gypsies, children, hobos, etc., with father playing the Autoharp or guitar to accompany them.
She loved working with the‑young people and was called upon often to write and put on skits and plays in the wards and communities we lived in. She could always be counted upon to come up with a clever idea for a carnival or fair or church project and while we were at home she planned and gave wonderful, fun parties for all of her children.
In 1923 we moved back to our home in Heber City. In the spring father received a call from Jack Buehler asking him to accept a job with the Bristol Silver Mine. Company in Nevada. He and my brother, Frank, left the last of April to‑look over the situation. On May 5 mother received a letter with the following description of our future home: ". . . . Jack met us in Pioche and we drove up to the famous "Silver City" or "Tempest" as it is sometimes called. The place is very Alpine and picturesque, resembling somewhat the high peaks above Mammoth, Utah, After running in second gear a long way we finally went to low and wended our way on up and up ‑‑ the water in the radiator going over the top!
'The present population consists of "one" adult lady, two little girls, and about twelve or fifteen men on the payroll also a Japanese cook, two mules, and two red Polin Angus hogs. Jack and Freda are located nicely so if we decide to join them, we can use a couple of cabins here very nicely. There are plenty of cots, table, cook stove, chairs and dishes, so we could camp very nicely for the summer up here in the cedars."
When school was out the first of June, 1924, Mother, Victor and I boarded a train for Caliente where father met us and drove us up to the Bristol Silver mine, where we stayed during the summer. In the winter mother, Victor and I and Freda and her two little girls rented a house in Panaca, a little Mormon farming town (it was like an oasis after the mine) where the Lincoln County High School was located. Father, Frank, and Jack would drive down for the weekends. Then in the spring when school was out we would all move back up to the mine.
In 1926 the folks decided they wanted to return to Utah and we moved to Salt Lake City. Mother was called to Y.W.M.I.A. and Relief Society work in the Fourteenth Ward. Later she worked in the Relief Society in the Hathorne and Marlborough Wards.
On April 4, 1950, mother and father celebrated their 60th Golden Wedding Anniversary. All of the children, except Doyle and his wife Marge who live in California, and mother and father gathered at the home of their eldest daughter, Jennie Agnes and her husband Alva Ross for dinner and celebration. They received many gifts and expressions of love and affection from their family and friends.
She was a visiting teacher until ill health forced her to give up all of her activities and confined her to her home. Highlights in her life were the visits of the Relief Society and Ward teachers in her home and the Elder's visits on Fast Sunday when they administered and passed the Sacrament to the shut‑ins in the ward.
Lydia Melissa Smith Epperson was an inspiration to her family, friends, and neighbors. She was strong in her faith and her love and belief in God was exemplified in the life she led and lived. She died 4 May 1956 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and was buried beside her husband and three daughters in the Midway Cemetery, Wasatch County, Utah 7 May 1956.
Written by Lillian E Epperson