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LeGrand Elliott MORRIS and Dorothea Berta Ernestine KERSTEN

LeGrand Elliott MORRIS. [Familytree].
LeGrand was born on Friday, 3 November 1916 at the family home that his father built on his ranch in Rosen Valley; which is what his grandfather called the area when he first settled there. Rosen Valley is located about a mile west of Rosette, which is part of the community of Park Valley, in Box Elder County, Utah. LeGrand was the son of Eli Ray MORRIS and Tina Matilda KUNZLER.

LeGrand was born on a cold November day. Fires were kept in the parlor and bedroom for the mother and the newborn baby. But while Ray was out doing the chores, the kitchen fires went out and all their house plants froze. In Tina's mind, who was always very particular about her household, that always marked the birth of LeGrand.

LeGrand was born 3 weeks early so they had no time to get Tina to a doctor. Aunt Mary (Mamie) Cobia Morris was called to deliver the baby. Someone had to run to the old home up in the upper field, where the Cobias were staying, to get her. Aunt Mary was a registered nurse and a sister-in-law to Ray & Tina. When neighbors stopped in to see the new baby, someone said, "What a grand little boy!" This inspired Tina to name her new little son LeGrand. Not long after his birth, LeGrand was blessed by his grandfather, Jacob Kunzler, in the Rosette ward of the Curlew stake. LeGrand was the second child of Ray & Tina. He had an older sister, Seletta Rae, and later, a younger brother, Royal Harold.

Early Childhood

LeGrand was a good little boy. When his mother was busy with Royal (the baby), or Seletta demanded attention, LeGrand would quietly sit in the rocking chair and rock himself to sleep. He was a sturdy child so it was a surprise when, at 6 years old, they found he had a heart murmur. Still, he was healthy and took all the usual childhood diseases lightly. He went through the mumps, measles (2 variations) and chicken pox.

The Morris ranch was not large at the time and the family was not blessed with a great deal of money. Tina, an excellent seamstress, made their clothes and they kept a garden that supplied most of their food. After church on Sundays, the family would go for dinner to the home of their grandparents, Jacob and Louise Kunzler's, where Seletta, LeGrand and Royal loved sliding down the cellar door. Grandma Kunzler always had a treat of cookies or candy for the children.

LeGrand loved to help his Grandfather Jacob Kunzler feed the pigs and chickens and help with the chores. He remembers his Grandmother Louise Kunzler to be very sweet and kind to them. She always had cookies or candy for the grandchildren when they came to visit. Once when his brother Royal was quite sick, LeGrand went to stay with his Grandparents for 3 or 4 months.

A child on a ranch only had his family to play with, so LeGrand usually played with his brother and sister. In summer the children enjoyed sleeping on the porch where it was cooler than in the house. Those were happy days for the children and they grew close to each other. Often, they played in the cedar trees by the home. One day they decided to paint all the cedar trees with their father's new can of axle grease. Ray was not happy to find all of his grease used up in this manner.

LeGrand had no fear in him and was adventurous and daring. When the others dared him to sit on the ant hill he did so, although he knew the ants would get angry and they'd bite. Another time, he put his hand in a woodpecker's nest on a dare, but couldn't get his hand back out. The others ran screaming to their mother for help, but somehow, LeGrand got his hand out before Tina arrived. One day LeGrand's mother called him and he hid in the corn patch. No one could see him because his hair was the same color as the corn silk. However, with all his mischievous ways, LeGrand was usually a good boy and obedient to his parents.

Ranch Life

LeGrand had the usual ranch boy's life. He always had chores to do. There was no electricity on the ranch when LeGrand was a child so he had to help his mother on wash day. That meant he had to get up early and turn the dasher of the washer by hand before school. They hauled their drinking water from the spring half a mile away and chopped the wood. (Later, while LeGrand was on his mission, they piped the spring to the house so that they no longer had to haul water every day.) When he was old enough, LeGrand did more chores such as milking and helping in the hay. As he got older, he did a man's work on the ranch and he herded his father's sheep in the summers.

LeGrand always had a special way with animals, and with his horses and dogs in particular. As a young boy, he learned the ways of farm animals and wild animals alike. He became very skilled at tracking wild animals. And the animals on the farm knew and loved him. One of the family milk cows often used to lick his jacket or shirt whenever he milked her. Dorothy claims that LeGrand could tell on sight each of his cattle and sheep and knew their personalities and characteristics. One of my favorite memories is of watching Mom and Dad one day as they were looking through the collection of family photographs. Mom, of course, knew all the baby photos, who they were and the circumstances of each photo. On the other hand, Dad remembered with perfect clarity each dog or horse in the photos, and could recite their individual personalities, traits, and complete genealogies.

Religious Training

LeGrand was baptized on the 3rd of August 1926, by his father, Ray Morris, in an old pond in the field of their neighbor, Bishop Arta M. Seely. The property is now owned by the Palmer family, and the pond is located to the north of the old red brick house to the west of the present Palmer home. LeGrand attended primary and religious classes of the LDS church. The family had daily prayers in their home and he was taught to pray by his parents. LeGrand's mother would review their Sunday school lessons with the children during the week and would read to the children from the Book of Mormon.

LeGrand advanced in the priesthood as do most LDS boys. He was ordained a deacon on the 14th of July, 1929, by Bishop Fred J. Hirschi. On the 1st of January, 1933, he was ordained a teacher, again by Bishop Hirschi. He was ordained a priest by his father, Eli Ray Morris, on August 4, 1935, and later became an elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood when he went on his mission.

School Years

LeGrand started first grade in the Rosette school when he was only five years old because they didn't have a kindergarten at that time. There were eight grades in the school and one teacher taught all of the grades. In the spring, the boys would go out at recess and hunt magpie eggs and baby rabbits. Sometimes, they forgot the time and came in late. LeGrand had to walk two miles to school and two miles back every day. When the weather was bad his father, Ray, would come to meet the children on horse back.

LeGrand liked to tease, and his sister used to threaten to tell "Mamma and Papa." The school boys liked to put live mice in the teacher's desk. To their delight, she would get up on a chair until the boys took them out. The boy's task was to put the coal in the stove to keep the fires going since there was no central heating in those days. One Halloween the boys stuffed the chimney with gunny sacks. This made the stove smoke so badly that school was canceled for the rest of the day.

LeGrand and the other boys seemed to have a definite talent for thinking up new tricks. At one time they hung some desks on a rope and attached it to the school bell. The bell then rang all night long. Another time they hung a pail of water over the door and it all poured on the teacher's head. They put water snakes in the teacher's desk and chased the girls with them. There was a snake nest in the old well in the schoolyard, and in spring sometimes there were hundreds of little snakes around. And another time they put firecrackers in the stove. That year they went through three different teachers.

There was one incident that LeGrand recalls where the family got involved. LeGrand's cousin Beryl used to sit in the desk in front of him. Beryl had long braids that hung over onto LeGrand's desk. Whenever LeGrand had his words written down on his slate, she would turn around and swish all the letters off his desk. He retaliated by pulling her braids. On one occasion, after having his words erased, LeGrand stuck the ends of Beryl's braids directly in the ink-well on his desk. His Aunt Edna came to school and really scolded him. However, since Beryl's braids had spoiled LeGrand's work, they eventually called a truce. LeGrand says, "We boys never did anything mean -- "just enough tricks to keep life interesting."

Despite his shenanigans, LeGrand liked school and liked his teachers. He loved holidays and especially liked Valentine's Day when everyone at school exchanged valentines and many hours were spent at home making them. There were Christmas programs and school programs in which LeGrand participated. He also took part in the school plays at the end of the year.

In the ninth grade, the Rosette children went to the Park Valley school, seven miles away. In the winter they went by sled and, as young people do, they often pushed each other off and had to catch up to get their ride. The Park Valley school only went to the 10th grade. Then all of the students had to finish high school in town. Most Park Valley students went to Brigham City, which was 100 miles away. They had to stay all year and seldom got home, only for holidays.

When it was LeGrand's turn to go to high school, he stayed with his Uncle Alvin and Aunt Secelia in Brigham City and attended Box Elder High School. Uncle Alvin was running an orchard for Dr. Cooley. LeGrand helped his uncle by milking cows and picking fruit in the orchard before and after school. LeGrand's aunt and uncle were good to him but he was often homesick for the ranch.

After graduating from Box Elder High School, LeGrand took over herding the sheep for his Father. During the fall of 1936 he also worked in the Century mine and the Little May mines for a Mr. Carter doing some reclaiming of minerals on the mine tailings. In the winter of 1938 he herded sheep for his uncle Roy Pugsley. During that time he lost less sheep to coyotes or other causes than anyone else in the area. For his outstanding efforts, LeGrand's uncle Roy gave him a wool blanket for a reward. Most of LeGrand's children remember that blanket, which kept them warm on many cold winter nights.

Mission Years

On the 5th of February, 1939, LeGrand received his patriarchal blessing in Snowville from Joseph Larkin, the patriarch of the Curlew stake. The following month he was called on a mission to the North Central States Mission. LeGrand had only a few weeks to prepare for his mission. Ray drove him to the train station at Kelton, Utah, where he boarded the train for Salt Lake City.

LeGrand received his endowments on the 9th of March, 1939, at the Salt Lake temple. Then, on the 15th of March, 1939, he received certification as an authorized minister of the church. The document was signed by the first presidency, Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark, jr. and David O. McKay.

The first city LeGrand served in was Virginia, Minnesota, where his companion was Elder McAllister. LeGrand soon found out that the mission he had been called to was a very difficult one with very few baptisms. However, during his five months in Virginia, Minnesota, LeGrand was able to participate in the conversion of one member. It was while LeGrand was assigned to Virginia that her first met the Kersten girls at a mission conference. He was impressed with Dorothy's beauty but was not sure what to think of her teasing manner.

Next LeGrand was transferred to Port Arthur, Canada where he remained for more than 11 months. The winters in Port Arthur were bitter, and when the thermometer dropped to 35 degrees below zero, the towns people just laughed and said, "Wait until it really gets cold."

The weather was not the only chilling experience that LeGrand had in Port Arthur. Although he and his companions (Elders Lyons and Robertson) spent countless hours in tracting, the doors remained shut to them. Missionaries had not been assigned to Port Arthur for some time. It seems that 20 years previously, there had been an ugly incident with a missionary who had married a local girl while yet on his mission and was then sent home in disgrace. The towns people had long memories and never seemed to miss an occasion to taunt the elders with the incident. They also seemed somewhat resentful that America had not entered the war effort yet. They asked the elders why they weren't at home in the army and accused them of being in Canada just to look for wives.

Then LeGrand was transferred to Biwabic, Minnesota, for several months. LeGrand's companion in Biwabic was an Elder Madsen who had previously suffered some sort of head injury and whose actions were sometimes a little bit odd. LeGrand would awaken in the middle of the night to find his companion sitting up in bed scratching his head and staring off into space. When LeGrand asked him if anything was the matter, he replied, "Nothin' . . . just scratchin'." LeGrand often wondered if Elder Madsen suffered from headaches, but he never complained.

LeGrand's final transfer was to Superior, Wisconsin, where he stayed for the remainder of his mission. Superior was just across the bay from Duluth and LeGrand was able to see a little more of Dorothy. One of LeGrand's fellow missionaries, Elder Leslie Christiansen, seemed quite smitten with Dorothy. He liked to refer to her as "our Dorothy." For a long time after that, LeGrand liked to tease Dorothy about "our Leslie."

LeGrand's companion in Superior was Elder Grant who had studied to be a climatologist. Later, LeGrand heard that Elder Grant had entered the army after his mission and was subsequently killed in a plane crash in Alaska. Years later, LeGrand met Elder Grant's sons when they were both working for Jim Petersen at the rock quarry in Dove Creek .

On March 18, 1941, LeGrand was released from his mission by a letter from the mission home in Superior, Wisconsin. Dorothy came to wish him goodbye when he boarded the train at Duluth. She placed in his hand a package from several of the young girls in the branch and instructed him not to open the package until the train was under way. Dorothy was quite a tease, with a lively sense of humor. LeGrand was embarrassed to find the package filled with silly gag gifts and mementos. He remembers there being a Kewpie doll and a cigar among other gifts. The cigar, of course, he threw away. On the way home from his mission LeGrand was able to stop off in St. Louis, Missouri and visit for a little while with his brother Royal who was serving his mission there.

During the summer of 1941, LeGrand again herded sheep for his father. That fall, LeGrand and Dorothy began corresponding with each other. LeGrand was quite impressed with Dorothy's letters. He was impressed with her testimony and her fun loving spirit. It wasn't long before he began to care deeply about her. On February 6, 1942, LeGrand was called as a stake missionary in the Bear River stake. Not long afterward, however, (during the spring of 1942) LeGrand hurt his back when his horse fell and rolled over him. He was laid up in bed for a while and this injury caused him pain for quite a few years afterwards.

During the year of 1942, LeGrand remembers the last of the trains going through Kelton. He helped his father haul old railroad ties to the ranch, which they used to build the chicken coop and other buildings which are still used today. And he continued his interesting correspondence with Dorothy.

On 30 OCT 1942 LeGrand and Dorothy (Dorothea Berta Ernestine KERSTEN) were married in the temple at Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah.

He died on 14 October 2005 at Burley, Cassia County, Idaho; and was buried on 20 October 2005 in the Park Valley Cemetery, Park Valley, Box Elder County, Utah.

Dorothea Berta Ernestine KERSTEN. [Familytree].
Born 9 May 1922 at Boock, Kreis Randow, Pommern (or Pommerania), Prussia, daughter of Max Paul Christian KERSTEN and Agatha Adelheid Anna BETHSOLD.

CHILDREN of LeGrand Elliott MORRIS and Dorothea Berta Ernestine KERSTEN:
  1. Dorothy Diane MORRIS. Born 2 AUG 1943 at Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah. She married 2 AUG 1962 Jered Lee ANDERSON. They live in Woods Cross, Utah
  2. LeGrand Elliott MORRIS, Junior. Born 27 FEB 1945 at Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah. He married 4 DEC 1971 Loretta Lee SCHIEMENZ at Los Angeles, California. They lived in Fontana, California.
  3. Naomi Tina MORRIS. Born 20 JUL 1946 at Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah. She married 29 MAY 1969 Dennis Robert SHORT. They were divorced. She lives in Big Water, Utah.
  4. Duane Max MORRIS. Born 24 OCT 1947 at Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah; twin to Donna. He died 24 MAY 1948. He is buried in the Park Valley Cemetery, Park Valley, Box Elder County, Utah.
  5. Donna Rae MORRIS. Born 24 OCT 1947 at Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah; twin to Duane. She married 2 JUN 1967 Eric Arnold ARNESEN. They live in West Valley City, Utah.
  6. Rodney Allen MORRIS. [Ancestors]. Born 10 July 1949 at Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah. He married Deborah Lee HANDY on 2 February 1973 in Logan, Cache County, Utah.
  7. Lynette Marie MORRIS. Born 20 March 1952 at Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah. She married 14 June 1974 Michael Robert WHALEN. They live in Winnemucca, Nevada.
  8. Sylvia Mae MORRIS. Born 1 SEP 1956 at Tremonton, Box Elder County, Utah. She married 21 April 1977 Steve Paul GARN. They live in Burley, Idaho.
  9. David Daniel MORRIS. Born 20 MAY 1958 at Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah. He married 11 NOV 1983 Jean GARDNER. They live on the family ranch in Park Valley, Utah.
  10. Scott Michael MORRIS. Born 19 NOV 1959 at Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah. He married 29 JUN 1990 Marlene WARD. They live in Rupert, Idaho.

  1. [S1]. Family Records.
  2. [S2].