Ruby Ray Tangreen Zufelt
Oral and Documented History
Interviewed by: Lula DeLong May-August, 1997
Q. Ruby, tell us where you were born.
A. Well, my dad was born in Pennsylvania. His folks lived there and they had a big ranch and some good horses. He worked with his dad all the time on the farm in the summertime, and in the winter they had a coal mine he opened and ran. So he mined coal in the winter and worked the farm in the summertime. He got up to about nineteen and had a girlfriend he wanted to date. He asked his dad for five dollars and his dad wouldn’t give it to him, so he left the country. He’d already joined the church and the elder that baptized him lived in Sunnyside, Utah.
Q. What church was that?
A. Latter Day Saints (LDS) Church. The elder lived in Sunnyside, Utah and it was a coal mining camp. There wasn’t a church there and they had to come to Wellington, so he met my mother in Wellington at church. My mother’s great grandmother was from Scotland and she married William Bell from England. She was a Farnsworth, I think. They come across the ocean after they joined the church. I think she joined. I’m not real sure if she married before, or Bill was her only husband (to that point). She buried four children in the ocean coming across. There was a disease on the ship while crossing the ocean. It was Scarlet Fever, or something, and she buried four children coming across. She just raised the one daughter that was my mother’s grandmother, and she was a Bell. Well, that’s the ancient history.
Q. And that’s part of your history.
A. Then Dad married Mother in Sunnyside, Utah at a fireside party, then they were later married in the temple. The marriage was on June 26, 1907, and I was born July 25, 1908.
Dad filed on a desert claim south of Price, and he made a cellar, then he built a log cabin. It was so hot. I think it was two years after that they were married in the Salt Lake Temple. It was so hot in the summer and the midwife said, “Well, Susie, why don’t you put your bed down in the cellar where it’s cooler. It’s so hot up here.” That’s what she did and I was born in the dugout. Then the dam went out and the irrigation project failed, so Dad gave up the homestead and went to work in the mine.
Q. Where was the dam?
A. Well, it was somewhere south of Price, near Cleveland. The area was called Desert Lake, but it wasn’t very far out, maybe eight or ten miles. Then he went to work in the coal mine at Stores (near Helper). And that’s the only time I can remember living in the coal camp. That was when I was three or four years old.
There were different little things I remember that happened. One day Dad went to town with some folks in the wagon to get groceries and he came back with a little ring for me and I was so proud of it. I went playing in the dirt and lost it.
Then there was the time he told Mother that grandma so-and-so died. She was just some lady that he knew. I felt just terrible to think there was anybody I could have called grandma and she died before I knew it.
Dad filed on a claim between Price and Sunnyside (a place called Kamo), and my Uncle George and Aunt Jenny had a claim there and it was irrigated. He filed on a claim out there and we lived there in a tent house in the summer for two or three years, then he worked in the mines in the wintertime.
Excerpts from The Early Years of Ruby Ray:
(An oral interview with Wade Tangreen as the interviewer.)
I remember walking hand-and-hand with Nona and Nellie (cousins) out into the trees, and we found a robin’s egg. They finally let me hold it and it broke. They washed my hand off with dirt. I’ll never forget that. Then I remember being in the tent house and I was pulling Vern around in a little wagon when he was able to sit up. I had a little play house. There was a little bit of a granary there and Mother nailed a box up on the wall for me to put my dishes in. The box fell off the wall and the dishes broke. I just had a few memories of being out there.
I remember Dad had a little toothpick holder that he got at the World’s Fair right before he left Pennsylvania. I don’t know where the world’s Fair was, but the holder was red and white and it had his name (Lewis) written on it in gold. But Mother lost those dishes. She packed them up in a box and left them in the tent house when we moved to the coal camp (Stores) for the winter. They were gone when we came back. There was a green sugar bowl and cream pitcher, real beautiful, which Mother cherished, you know. It was a real pretty cream pitcher and sugar bowl, light green with flowers on it. It was among the things Mother left packed. The next summer we went back to the tent house and they were gone. Dad took Mother and I and we went over to visit the Greeks that lived close to the dam. I saw Mother’s sugar bowl and cream pitcher in the lady’s window. I kept trying to tell Mother, and she would just say, “Oh, run on and play, I’m talking.” I couldn’t never get to tell her. After we got home, I told her that her pitcher and sugar bowl was in that lady’s window. She said, “Well why didn’t you tell me?” This is like people do, push little kids off.