Written History of Ralph Emanuel Whitney
The first three miles from the mine was a hair-raising drop of 3,000 feet. In places the dugway was windy and narrow. One trip down this steep dugway, my brakes gave way, and I had to whip the horses to a full gallop to keep the wagon from running over them. I made it down all right, but two other freighters were camped at the bottom and one of them said, “Ralph, do you always drive down the dugway that fast?” Freighting from the Grand Gulch was tough on men and mules and horses, but the copper from this mine was high grade ore and worth the long trip by wagon and teams to St. Thomas, where it was loaded on the railcars to be shipped to Salt Lake City to be milled.
I leased some cattle from Frank Bonelli, an old bachelor that lived in St. Thomas and a neighbor of Burt’s. When I wasn’t freighting I rode the range with Burt, as he had cattle running on the same range. In the late spring we had to check the cattle real often as they watered on the Virgin River and quite often got caught in quicksand. We would then have to rope them to pull them free.
(from here Doris changes to her telling the story)
Now our stories come together. This was in the spring in 1919, when I was seventeen, Ralph had just gotten out of the service after World War I.
I met him at a dance up to Overton. We danced together a few sets, and we seemed to hit it off fine. Ralph was a very good dancer and very interesting to talk to. From then on we dated and fell in love, as we felt we were right for each other. By July we were sure enough to want to set a marriage date. We went to talk to Mother about our plans, since my father was over on the ranch on the Virgin River, as he had a lease on it and was farming there. Mother just threw her hands in the air and said I was too young to even be thinking of marriage. We should have gone over to the ranch and talked with my father as he liked Ralph a lot and all Mother could see at this time was our difference in age.
My mother had a sister living in Delta, Utah who had triplets about two months old and had just written to see if my sister, Louise, then 15 years, could come up and help her the rest of the summer. But Mother thought it would be a good idea for me to go, and then maybe I’d forget about wanting to get married. Ralph and I talked it over and he thought it may be better to do as Mother wished, and then when I got back in the fall we could make our plans definite. I left the latter part of July. I stayed and helped my aunt until September, then one of Mother’s brothers came by for a visit on his way back to Idaho, where they lived. He was going by Wallsburg to visit his brother living there and asked me to go along that far.
Uncle Jim lived on a ranch a couple of miles from Wallsburg and had some cattle and nice riding horses. I felt right at home there as I loved to ride. They wanted me to stay that winter and help my aunt as she had two small children and was expecting another one soon.
I wrote the folks to see if it was alright and they wrote back and said they were moving up to Delta soon and I could stay or come join them at Delta. By then Ralph and I had quit writing. He was way out in the hills working with a survey gang, so we sort of lost touch with each other.
My folks moved back to the Moapa Valley by Christmas of the same year they moved to Delta as my father couldn’t take the cold weather. I stayed at my uncles until March 1920, then I came home on the train. It seemed wonderful to get back to my family and the desert. I didn’t know how much I’d missed all of these things until my return.
I had only been home two weeks when I attended a dance in Overton. Ralph was there, and we danced together a few sets. It seemed as if I had never been away, as we both seem to feel the same about each other. I knew then he was the one I truly loved. We started dating, and in July of 1920 we decided to set our marriage date. We chose Christmas time. Mother did not make any fuss this time, as I was older and she knew I truly loved Ralph. She also had time to get better acquainted with him. My father was killed in an accident in August, and Ralph was wonderful to my mother at this trying time.