[A reader, Leanne Law, sent in an autobiography of her grandmother. She joined the church with her family in Tennessee. Because of its length I have taken just some excerpts from it.]
I, Marilla Wagner Foulger, was born in Sequatchie, Marion Co., Tennessee to Christian W. Wagner and Anna Augusta Scheef on December 2, 1892, the ninth child of a family of fifteen children.
My father was a carpenter and cabinet maker by trade and was born in Binnign, Baselland, Switzer1and, October 28, 1849 to Jacob Wagner and Barbara Eicher. My mother was born July 2 1859 in Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois to Gottlob Frederick Scheef and Barbara Kohn of Germany.
[Marilla’s parents married in Minnesota in 1879 and lived much of their early married life in South Dakota. But eventually the family took an opportunity to move to Tennessee, first to Cleveland, then Sequatchie, and finally Tracy City all within a 20 mile radius of Chattanooga.]
My father had a little planing mill in Sequatchie where we lived. We moved away when I was about 7 years old to a large fruit farm on the rolling hills of the Cumberland where my father owned a large tract of timber land. Our home was a large two-story house set in the middle of a yard of beautiful flowering trees and bird houses. It was made of rustic logs with large rooms and a huge fireplace at one end of the living room. I loved the winter evenings around the fireplace. There was always singing and sometimes stories until we were sent to bed. The kerosene lamps were filled every day and the chimneys were sparkling and clean.
We weren’t members of any church but always went to Sunday School at the Methodist Church. I loved stories and was given pictures of Jesus which I prized dearly. One of my sisters joined some church when she got married. At one time we children all learned the ten commandments from memory.
Father would never join any church because he I couldn’t find what he was looking for until about 1902 when he heard of some young missionaries in our community. He went to hear them explain the principles of the gospel. He became interested at once and invited them to our home. They were treated dreadfully by other people. One was ridden on a rail and thrown in the river. There were threatened with tar and feathers but ended up being pelted with eggs and tomatoes.
After several months we were baptized. Father, Mother and seven children were all baptized on November 12, 1902 in Foster Falls near Tracy City, Tennessee. From that time on we had Sunday School, Sacrament and Fast Meetings in our home. There we learned the principles of the gospel. In the mission field you really feel the spirit of the gospel. A few of our friends and neighbors came to Sunday School but they didn’t belong to the church until after we left Tennessee.
My oldest brother, William, and sister, Mamie, came to Salt Lake a year before we did. Mamie married a missionary, Ernest Harker, from Taylorsville, Utah. We came to Salt Lake in [August] 1905.
My father sold his beautiful home and possessions and barely received enough money to pay for our train fare. The man who bought it never paid what he owed and father had nothing to fight with so he lost it. He said many times that he was much better off than the man who cheated him out of his money.
[The Tracy City News, wrote an article about the family and their decision to moved to Salt Lake City. The editor attributed their decision to three successive years of crop failure due to frost. He went on to say Chris Wagner was an “A-1 carpenter” and possessed sturdy qualities that would have made him an excellent town builder had he chose to stay. He estimated it cost the family $400 in train fare to get to Utah.]
My brother, Will, met us at the station where we stayed until he and father found us a place to live at 122 West 2nd North. It was so beautiful. We were tired from our trip and it had a lovely bath tub. We lived in the 19th Ward and Washington school district.
I was 10 years old at this time. I worked for the lady next door, washing and preparing vegetables for dinner. She paid me 75 cents a week. Then I took care of her daughters children too. She paid me in tithing money so I couldn’t buy much of anything there so I saved until I had enough money for shoes. I always seemed to find some little job to do to get money to buy my shoes. From the time I was 10 my father never bought my shoes, which made me very proud of myself.
[Marilla must had a beautiful singing voice. From 1912 to 1915 she was a soprano with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. On July 14th 1914 she married Clarence Adelbert Foulger, and they had several children. At least one joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as an adult. Clarence died at his home Dec 7th 1945. Marilla passed away July 23rd 1981 at Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah.]
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