Interviewed February, 2004 in Moab, UT, by Rusty Salmon
Q (Rusty): Let’s start by going back to when and where you were born. Tell me a little bit about your folks first.
A(Bill): My folks had a very interesting history. My father was the product of a Baptist family from Arkansas and my mother was a child of a pioneer Mormon family that came through the Hole-in-the-Rock; a very odd combination, actually, in religious backgrounds. They met in Monticello when my father was assigned to that district as a Forest Ranger after his departure from the Army, following World War I. They moved to Moab in 1927. My father opened a real estate and insurance business. They had two children at that time: my sister, Donna, and my older brother, Junior. I was born in 1933, the last of the brood.
Q: What was your Dad’s full name?
A: Carroll Jasper Meador and my mother’s name was Gwyn Bronson Meador.
Q: She had been raised in the Monticello area?
A: Yes, she was raised in Monticello. Her grandfather, Ben Perkins, was the blower and blaster from Wales who engineered the Hole-in-the-Rock road. My Grandfather Bronson had moved from Huntsville, Utah, to Monticello, taking his dad in a wagon covered with blankets to avoid the U.S. Marshals because he was a polygamist. My grandfather and my great-grandfather moved to Monticello, one of the first eleven families to move to Monticello. He met my grandmother there and started their family. I have all of the Mormon history and the Southern Baptist history; very interesting family histories.
Q: In the museum there is a picture of the ferry. In that picture, is that your grandfather?
A: The little boy is my father sitting on the rail. He would have been approximately eight years old, maybe nine years old in that photo. That’s his mother in the fancy dress; she is coming from Eureka Springs, Arkansas. She did not move out here immediately with my grandfather because she was pregnant with the youngest child. She waited until the family could travel and then moved to Moab. The picture was taken some time after they had been living here awhile. I don’t know just exactly the year, but somewhere within the first four or five years after they came from Arkansas.
Q: Your father spent his whole childhood here after they arrived?
A: Yes, he was seven or eight years old when he moved here. He did grow up here and did a variety of different kinds of jobs – joined the service when he was a little over sixteen, went to the Mexican border and fought in the cavalry against Pancho Villa, went to the Military Academy in Georgia to be commissioned before he went overseas in World War I. All that kind of history is very interesting to me.
Q: Was he a farmer or rancher at heart?
A: My grandfather was a merchant. He managed Cooper-Martin enterprises. At his time of death, he owned a grocery store in Thompson. He caught the flu there. My dad went and got him from Thompson and brought him to the hospital here and he died in Moab. He had left Arkansas after the advent of patent medicines. He owned three retail stores; grocery stores, general stores, in Eureka Springs. There would be five trains a day into Arkansas for people to come and bathe in the Hot Springs. When patent medicine came in around the turn of the century, those trains stopped coming, a related thing with medicine. He lost his money and D L Goudelock, D.L. Taylor’s grandfather, was already out here riding for the Carlisle Cattle Company in Monticello. He wrote to my grandfather and said, “Jasper, this is a great place to be.” And he encouraged him to move here. And he did that. They had been friends in Arkansas and it was Mr. Goudelock who encouraged my grandfather to move out here.
Q: You said he died from the flu, was that during the epidemic of 1917?
A: It wasn’t the 1917 epidemic, it was 1927, and just an isolated incident, not associated with any of the epidemics.
Q: Your dad came out of the service and married your mom?
A: He came out of the service; he stayed with the Army of Occupation in Europe for about a year after the end of World War I; and he came home, joined the Forest Service and was assigned to the Manti-La Sal Mountains. He was in charge of both what we know as the La Sals and The Blues at the same time. But he was stationed out of Monticello, that’s where he met and married my mother.
Q: This would have been very early years of the Forest Service, wouldn’t it?
A: Yes, this would have been about 1919; that’s when he was assigned to that region. The Forest Service, I think, was organized in 1905 but was just penetrating the inner reaches of the continent by 1920-1923.
Q: And everything would have been by horseback?
A: Oh, yes. He did everything by horseback. A lot of his area included what the Navajo Indians included and considered their range. My father happened to get along very well with the Navajos and they didn’t call him “Ranger,” they just called him “Carroll.” I remember years later, different ones coming to his office and saying, “I want to see Carroll.”
Q: Did he deal with Utes and Paiutes down there also?
A: I don’t think there were any Paiutes that far east, but there were, of course, the Utes around the Ute Mountains and they would leave that portion of the reservation. The Utes were very difficult to get to stay in one place. He did deal with them as well.
Q: Did your mom go on the mountain with him?
A: Yes, she rode with him in the early days. My mom loved the mountains and spent every summer [there] as I was growing up. We had a cabin on the mountain, and she would come to the mountain. My dad would come up on weekends. There was no air conditioning in downtown Moab. In fact, I don’t even remember fans. We had our cattle company on the mountain and I would ride with my brother. Dad would come up on weekends and we just lived there all summer. We would come down in the fall and she would get us ready to go to school. She loved the mountain.