Getting to Know the Lost Generation

This incredible image was taken in Pinto, Utah between 1865 and 1870. It shows the old rock Church built by the pioneers there and members of the Pinto ward who gathered to take the picture.

Pinto Ward

When I was with my Dad he had me put this image on his big screen and we studied it closely to see if we could identify any Westovers.

And why not?

We know both Charles and Edwin Westover families were there. What are the odds either or both are pictured here?

We know what they look like from other images. Both were seriously embedded in the community, well known, and played prominent roles. And, let’s face it, the Pinto Ward just wasn’t that big.

We can’t confirm that they – or any other family members – are in this picture.

But we know them. We know their story. One or both of them have to be there. We just know it.

~ The Lost Generation ~

Folks born between 1880 and 1900, who came of adult age right before World War I, are called the Lost Generation.

I find that to be an apt description, but not for the reasons that writers and historians do. To them, this generation was “disoriented, wandering and directionless”.

To me, our family members of the Lost Generation are underappreciated and unknown. They were far from directionless. They are the grandchildren of pioneers and the grandparents of Baby Boomers.

That makes them table-setters, champions of education, builders, teachers and examples.

Look at this image – taken less than 50 years later than the image above from Pinto – taken in Rexburg, Idaho.

This is a well known image and we believe we know the name of every person in this photo:

Children of William and Ruth Westover

As I stumbled on this image of the children of William and Ruth Westover it dawned on me that my struggles with this image stem from one simple fact: I know their names but I don’t know their stories.

In fact, as I’ve studied this image it occurred to me that we owe a great deal to these people and we need to get their stories down in detail.

So, what follows is some forensic work with this image itself. And, a brief overview of each individual pictured here.

And I promise, this is just a beginning.

~ Who is in this Picture? ~

William Ernest Westover is the man standing on the right. He is the eldest, born in December 1883, the firstborn of William and Ruth. This happened while they were still living in Mendon, Utah. Mendon is where William and Ruth spent the majority of their growing up years and where they were married on 1 March 1883.

As the eldest he experienced frequent breaks in his schooling to help out on the farm. He passed through all the hardships of those early years in Rexburg. He was active in the Church, baptized in 1892 and called to serve a mission while a young man.

In the Church History Library we find a letter from his Bishop to the First Presidency requesting a release for young Elder Westover due to the death of his father.

William – who likely went by the name Ernest by this time – came home and took up the care of the farm and the family.

His mother, Ruth, was struggling mightily due to illnesses among her children and the weight of keeping the farm running with the passing of her husband.

He was a farmer. He stayed in Rexburg to serve the family and sought out his education where he could. He attended the Rexburg Academy where he met Eulalia Humble. They married in the Salt Lake Temple in April of 1909, enjoying a double wedding that same day with Eulalia’s brother.

Together William Ernest and Eulalia raised a large family. He remained a farmer in Idaho his whole life. He passed away on December 14, 1968 and is buried in the Rexburg cemetery.

Arthur Edwin Westover, Sr, is pictured standing on the far left in the photo. To his left, sitting in font of him, is his wife Hetty and their daughter Georgia.

Like his older brother, Arthur Edwin too was born while his parents still resided in Mendon. He was born 25 February 1886.

Of all the siblings I’ve been able to find precious little about Arthur Edwin’s life.

I know that he married Hetty Moline Humble – younger sister of Eulalia – in November of 1912.

They had 9 children but Hetty passed away at the age of 35 in 1927 after having suffered a miscarriage and pneumonia.

He worked for the railroad in Idaho his whole life. Arthur died in March of 1975 and is buried in Victor, Idaho next to his wife.

Ray Finley Westover, standing next to Arthur Edwin’s left in the photo, was born in 1890 in Rexburg. He remained in or near Rexburg farming his entire life.

Ray married Olive Zenola Smith in 1912 in Salt Lake City. Olive was the daughter of Mary Ann Humble, older sister to Eulalia and Hettie. Mary Ann had married Albert Smith Jr, and Olive Zenola was their oldest daughter.

Ray and Olive raised a family of 9 children. Olive passed in 1948 and Ray in 1965.

Looking back at the picture, right behind Olive’s left shoulder is her younger sister, Mary Ann Smith. Next to her is Arnold Westover.

This picture was taken about six months before Arnold and Mary Ann would be married.

Arnold was born in Rexburg in March of 1895, just a short time after the tragic death of his sister, Hazel Ann.

Like his brothers before him, Arnold was pressed into farm work in between sessions of school.

Arnold was only 8 when his father passed and given the struggle on the Westover Ranch he learned from his older brothers what needed to be done while still very young.

He was self-taught in many areas and became, over time, a builder.

He married in 1914 to Mary Ann Smith, later sealed the following year in 1915.

They raised a family of children, eventually settling in Quincy, Washington after the war.

Arnold served in many civic and church positions, and through his company built many of the buildings in Quincy.

Mary Ann passed in 1959 and Arnold in 1971.

Back to the photo: in front of Arnold, to his left, is sister Myrtle Elizabeth Westover.

She was born in 1899, making her very young when her father passed away. She was cared for by her siblings while in grade school and later she moved with brother Floyd and family in Clementsville, Idaho.

There she met Joseph Ard and married him in 1919.

Together they had 8 children and lived pioneer-like lives for many of their early years.

Their children all served during the war yet survived well into old age. Myrtle’s life was filled with family and church service.

Standing to the immediate left of Myrtle is Zena Althea Westover, born in Rexburg in 1897. Being a little bit older meant that Zena was able to remember happy childhood days with siblings and experiences with her father. Like the other Westover children, Zena was mentored by her older siblings on the Westover Ranch. There she met a local boy, Jesse Hinckley, and married him in 1925.

They had 8 children and moved around a bit in their early years but eventually settled in Salt Lake City in 1942, staying their for the rest of their lives. There they built a legacy of love anchored by grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Zena passed in 1967, Jesse later in 1982.

Lorin Westover, pictured in the bottom center of the photo, is about 11 years old in this picture. As the youngest, made the Westover Ranch his lifelong home and passion. He farmed and worked as the Teton Canal watermaster.

He married Anona Virgin in 1926, who passed in childbirth in 1928.

In 1929 he met and married Gladys Ingram. They had six children together and built a legacy of many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Lorin’s love of the family and the Westover Ranch fueled the organization of the Westover Family Ranch and from his foundational efforts the ranch continues to be a gathering place and a focal point for all descendants of William and Ruth Westover.

~ Who is Missing from this Picture? ~

From oldest to youngest, these children of William and Ruth are not pictured here:

Floyd Delbert Westover, third born of William and Ruth, was born in 1888, the first of the Westover children to be born in Rexburg.

A farmer his entire life, Floyd’s career began on the Westover Ranch. In 1907 he married Margaret Clay and together they raised a family of 11 children. In 1927, they moved to Aberdeen, which is just north of American Falls and west of the American Falls reservoir. Floyd would be there the rest of his life.

When Margaret passed in 1956, he married Rachel Widdison in 1957. Floyd was active in LDS church leadership and served as Farm Bureau secretary in the community.

Hazel Ann Westover was born in Rexburg in February of 1893. She lived for two years only and died due to an infectious condition.

~ The Story Behind this Picture ~

I believe this picture was taken in the spring of 1914, likely upon the occasion of the passing of Ruth Westover in April of that same year.

How can we be sure of that? The babies give us the best clue. Standing on a chair between Hetty and Eulalia is Ray and Olive’s daughter, Edna. She was born in April of 1913. She appears to be about a year old in this picture.

Sitting on Hetty’s lap is baby Georgia, who was born in January 1914, making her about three months old in this picture.

Ernest and Eulalia have two children in this picture. A little boy, Thomas Harold, standing immediately in front of William Ernest, is about 3 years old. Eulalia is holding Leora, who would have been and appears to be about 9 months old in this image.

Given this event was likely the funeral gathering of Ruth Althea it could be that Floyd was there and is the one taking the picture.

~ Next Steps in Learning and Telling Their Stories ~

The above information is gleaned from what I can find. I’m certain I’m missing details and maybe even making some mistakes (or leaving some names out) from this brief summary.

Our next steps are to talk to the surviving descendants of the children of William and Ruth. I’d love to talk to the family historians in each branch of the family, maybe even go so far as to record conversations in podcast form.

A conversation is sure to reveal details and richness a written history never could. Explanations are faster and easier to convey in simple conversations.

So I will be reaching out. We’d like to collect stories, photos and documents to be as complete as possible in this project.

This is an unsung generation – long overdue for exposure and appreciation.

Jeff Westover
Jeff Westover

Husband, father, Latter-day Saint, 11th generation American, and web geek currently residing in Smithfield, Utah. Please visit my website at JeffWestover.com

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