Josephine Barbara Baumann
Written by Arlo D. Knight, grandson
Josephine Barbara Baumann was born 23 September 1890, in Santa Clara, Washington County, Utah. She was the second child of Johannes (John) and Hulda L. Rohner-Baumann. Both sides of her family, the Rohners and Baumanns, immigrated from Switzerland to America in the 1870’s. They settled in Santa Clara in 1879, with the Swiss Colony. The Baumann’s were able to obtain the Jacob Hamblin Rock House and lived in it longer than any other family.
The Baumann’s were involved in the grape business. They grew Isabella grapes for wine which they sold to make a living, and they gave some to the Church which (at that time) used unfermented wine for sacramental purposes. Once the Church switched to using water, the Baumann’s sold their fermented wine to travelers passing through on their way to California.
During the 1890’s Johannes and Hulda moved to Pioche, Nevada where he worked in the mines. While they were there trouble developed between them that led to divorce. Johannes took Josephine and returned to Santa Clara to live with his parents. She was raised by her father, but mainly by her grandparents, until she was eleven years old. Josephine’s mother remarried and had three more children, of which only one lived. Her name was Hulda. She kept in close contact with Josephine throughout her life. Josephine’s mom died the day after her twins were born.
At the age of eleven Josephine was sent to live with a lady by the last name of Cragun, who was a hard person to be with. She literally starved Josephine throughout her stay with her. After almost two years of being there she went back to live with her grandparents. Neither of her grandparents spoke any English so at thirteen years of age she became an interpreter for them. She spoke German and English fluently, but never taught any of her children how to speak German.
Josephine had a hard life with her grandparents and never had a chance to learn the fine art of homemaking like; needlework, crocheting, sewing, handiwork, etc. Her life was centered on hard physical work in the fields planting and harvesting various crops and fruits. She became an expert at using a sickle to cut hay and grain. She spent long hours drying peaches and washing (clothes, blankets, etc.) on the scrubbing board. She wasn’t cut any slack and had to work all day long. If she didn’t feel like working she was given some type of a strong drink to keep her going.
She was an attractive young lady as a teenager and had long beautiful hair (which she kept for the remainder of her life). She loved going to the community dances and always had a partner. Unbeknownst to her grandparents when they were sleeping she would prepare herself in the dark for the dances. She slept on the second floor of the house and she would go out on the porch and climb down one of the porch poles and either go to the dance or to see her girlfriends. Upon her return she would climb back up the pole so she wouldn’t wake anybody up. She would put her clothes away and be ready to go back to work the next morning at 4:00 a.m.
At one of these dances she met Wilford Knight, whom she fell in love with and married on 22 June 1910, in the St. George Temple. They made their home with her father and grandfather so she could take care of them. Her grandmother passed away in 1909. Upon the death of her grandfather in 1913, the home, four acres of land know as the Red Land (located on the east side of Santa Clara), and two city lots became hers.
She cared for her father who continued to live with them until he died in 1934, which wasn’t an easy task for her, while she was raising her own children. All seven of her children were born and raised in the Jacob Hamblin home. She used the same cradle for each one of her babies. She tied a string to it so when the baby woke up in the night she would pull on it and rock them back to sleep. This made it so she didn’t have to get up with them.
Josephine was small in stature, but this didn’t stop her from being a very hard worker in the home, fields and church. Her service to the church spanned many different positions throughout the years. She was: a Primary Counselor, Primary Secretary, Relief Society Secretary, Visiting Teacher, etc. She was also an avid Temple attender.
The old 91 Highway ran right in front of their home. All you had to do was step off the front porch and you were right on the highway. This made it so Josephine had to keep a watchful eye on her children when they were young to keep them from getting hurt by moving traffic. On the other side of the highway was a large open ditch full of water which was an additional worry for her while her children were young. This ditch was the sole source of water for the house, which had no running water. The water was carried in buckets to the house for culinary use. Eventually water was piped to the outside of the house, so it still had to be carried inside.
Josephine was always busy preparing food and baking bread every day for her large family. When the time came for harvesting, she would help. She could out pick any of her children by two five gallon buckets to their one. She was very resourceful and wasted nothing. She did a lot of bottling and drying of various fruits. All her bottling of fruits and vegetables was done outside over an open fire in a #3 tub. She dried multiple bushels of peaches each year that were used to trade for winter food. She saved the peach pits and used them for fuel to burn. Josephine also saved sawdust and chips that she or the kids gathered up after chopping firewood. This was used to smoke the bacon and ham that was hung in the cellar for winter use. The cellar was always full of eggs, milk, meats and other stuff from the summer harvest.
Josephine was widely known for her expertise in raising, culling and feeding chickens. She had hundreds of them from which she gathered about 300 eggs a day. She sold a lot of these eggs to the local stores and to Rob Reber (along with most of her roosters) who took them around to the mining towns and peddled them.
Each Easter, was a fun time for her and the kids. She let each one of them have a dozen eggs to color and use in Easter egg busts. Coloring Easter eggs was a family ordeal where they would take each egg individually and put a different type of Springtime flower around on the egg; it was held in place by an Iris petal wrapped around the egg and tied in place by a string. It took a while to finish each dozen.
When completed, each dozen would be placed in a #3 tub, with onion skins and matter weed roots in it on the bottom. The eggs were then cooked over a fire outside until they were done. When gathering the matter weed roots, you wanted both colors; the yellow ones which were plentiful and the red ones which you had to do a lot of digging to get. This was a lot of work to do for Easter eggs. But wow, were they worth it, they were very pretty and had a real different, but good taste to them. On Easter they would roll the eggs downhill in various types of contests.
One of the hardest times of Josephine’s life was to see all five of her sons go off to serve their Country during WWII. When the Armed Forces realized they had made a mistake they rejected the oldest son, Lamar, and sent him back home. Every one of her sons were involved in battles. She was both relieved and very happy to see her four sons return home from the war.
The hardest trial of her life was when her beloved husband, Will passed away 4 March 1946. Shortly after this, her health began to deteriorate and she needed assistance from other people. Her daughter Elma from Goodsprings, Nevada came and got her off and on for the rest of her life. Elma lived here with her husband John, who hauled ore in a truck for the mine. He would take Josephine with him while he made his rounds which she really enjoyed doing. She really liked it at Goodsprings.
In the fall of 1949, she was hanging clothes on the clothesline and fell flat on the ground from a heart attack. She was taken to the hospital in Las Vegas, Nevada where she died three days later on 17 October 1949 never regaining consciousness. She was 59 years old. Her funeral service was held in Santa Clara, Utah at the Chapel on 22 October 1949. Interment was the same day at the Santa Clara Cemetery. She left a legacy to her posterity of total devotion to her family, Church and God.