The Lewiston Tithing Office - Taggart Family Home
Timothy L. Taggart
In 1897 Harvey Magalyard Rawlins, Sr. (Eulalie Taggart’s Maternal Grandfather) donated five acres of land, one mile south of the Lewiston, Utah city center, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a tithing office and farm. The Church built a large barn, granary, and a root cellar as well as a large red brick Tithing Office. The building was finished about 1897-1898.
The outbuildings were used to store/house tithing donations in-kind from members of the Church who donated one tenth of their increase annually. This generally meant one of every ten calves, lambs, piglets and colts born and eggs laid, as well as loads of hay and bushels of grain harvested. The proceeds were generally used to help the poor in the community as well as being sold for the benefit of the Church.
The Tithing Office building had the following features
- The Aaronic Priesthood room was on the main floor in the front. It had a beautiful oak fireplace and 15’ ceilings. The room was surrounded on three sides with tall arching windows. The main entrance to the building was into this room. Here the Lewiston Aaronic Priesthood Quorums had their meetings.
- The Bishop’s office was adjoining the Aaronic Priesthood room on the northwest side of the building. It had a separate outside entrance on the south, as well as an entry into the Aaronic Priesthood room.
- On the main floor was also a room with the landing of a large circular staircase leading to the second floor. There was an entrance from the back of the house (north side) into this room and there was a round window on the east side.
- The second floor had 11’ ceilings. In the front (south) was a large room for Melchizedek Priesthood meetings. The same size as the room below, it also was surrounded on three sides with large arched windows and also had a large oak fireplace.
- On the northwest portion of the upper floor was the Altar room. With windows on the west and north, an altar was in the center of the room and was the most prominent feature. Here members of the High Council and Melchizedek Priesthood met in prayer circles on special occasions.
- The small room on the northeast corner was a closet for temple robes used in the prayer circle to be stored.
On March 20, 1914, Fred Taggart bought the Tithing Office from the Church for $2,000.00.
The following are excerpts from Fred’s personal history:
[In the] summer [of] 1899, I came to Lewiston from Morgan, Utah , to live with my mother and sister Alice Janett T. Bright while her husband, John Wesley Bright, was on his first mission to the northwestern states. . .
On November 5, 1900, James and his wife, Valera Laird Taggart, came to Lewiston to live in the home he had purchased for us. The group of us lived together that winter. . .
I finished paying for that home by working for wages that amounted to fifty cents a day. For just the day after I arrived in Lewiston, I obtained employment as a carpenter with Pete Nelson and William Worley. It was while in their employ that I did the work [laying the flooring in the Old Main building] at the Agriculture College, for wages of ten cents an hour. I worked with Pete and Worley for a number of years, working on the Franklin School, the Lewiston Church, the home of Morris J. Swinyard, etc. I nailed all the sheeting on the tower of the Lewiston Church. Later my brother Mark and I did contract work together. I helped to complete the Sego Milk Plant at Richmond, Utah, in 1901.
My carpenter work has taken me into almost every home in Lewiston, all over Cache Valley, and I have worked in every church building in the [valley] at some time or another and all the school houses. . .
I worked for Bishop William H. Lewis. We used to work running the binder a lot of time when it was a moonlight night, most of the night. We took turns at it... We shocked grain, hauling hay and sure worked hard. Then when it was time to tend the tithing office, I was sent over there. It was when they had long haystacks out here where we live now. They always had two and three big haystacks in the fall. We would feed this hay to the tithing stock.
After working hours, people would bring their tithing grain and I would carry it up the stairs and empty it in the bins in the granary…
In February of 1901 I had my first date with Eulalie A. Leavitt --who was to be my wife. . .
When we went courting, I used to drive Bishop William H. Lewis’s horse and a jump set buggy. I took my girl and her three girl friends, Maud Lewis, Libbie Hyer, and Lois Hyer. We always had a good time. I never, never went but what I bought peanuts for our treat.
Eulalie A. Leavitt and I were married in the Logan Temple December 17, 1902. Just twenty-two months after we started going together, Apostle Marriner W. Merrill married us. . . Eulalie’s father had to go with us to get our marriage license as she wasn’t of age, being only 17 and a half years old at the time. We had a lovely wedding supper on the 18th of December at the home of my wife’s parents. There were about 125 present.
The home of Eulalie’s parents Mary Eveline Rawlins and Joseph Wire Leavitt was next door to the property her grandfather had donated to the Church for the tithing office.
In March 1914, when Fred and Eulalie moved their family into the red brick building, they had three girls and a boy in their family (Ruey, 1906; Verla, 1908; Fred Edis, 1910; and Janett, 1912) and Eulalie was four months pregnant. Little Meleese was born in August. As they raised their family in the comfortable surroundings next to the in-laws more children would join them. Paul Leavitt was born in 1917; Myrna in 1923; and finally LaRee in1926.
Fred made changes to the building to accommodate the family. He built a small porch onto the back (north), removed the circular staircase and turned the space into a kitchen. He built a staircase up the east side of the large front room, using the space under the stairs as a food storage room/pantry. He turned the upstairs Altar Room into the master bedroom and the closet into a bathroom. The large Melchizedek Priesthood Room in the front of the upstairs he subdivided into small bedrooms. It made a wonderful home for the family. Large poplar trees in a line across the front of the property (as well as the Leavitt property next door) provided shade and a wind break. Similar lines of quick growing poplar trees were planted in dozens of places across the community.
Fred shares insights into the life of this growing family:
When all of our family was home, we used an average of fifty bags of flour a year. Each fall, when the wheat was harvested, I’d take it to the mill and bring back fifty bags of flour which was stored in a little storeroom off the kitchen [under the stairs]. Every Saturday morning a new bag of flour was emptied in the bin.
We used a hundred-pound bag of the best rice available a year and sometimes needed two. We always had a 5-gallon can of honey and the girls became experts at making honey candy--that was fun they had when Mother and I were away from home.
We always purchased and bottled twenty bushels of peaches and ten or twelve bushels of tomatoes each fall.
Our garden provided lovely fresh vegetables and for years we had the small fruits to harvest: raspberries, strawberries and black native currants.
For three years, we were able to grow very choice watermelons. Our garden was always hard work, but was worth it all in money saved and good food on the table.
The family parties in Brother Weslie’s pasture were always a highlight. Many times when Henry and family came up, down below the old Cannibal Hill to Weslie’s pasture, all the Taggart families would go, taking with them whatever could be found in the cupboards. No one every worried about the lunch, everything was put out and everyone helped themselves. We always had a big bonfire near the creek and among the trees. Everyone joined in singing, playing games and visiting.
When my wife and I were first married, we had one cow. For a long period of time, we had two or three and as our family began to grow, we had 8 and 10 cows. The most I ever milked at a time was 12 cows.
I sent milk to the Sego factory at Richmond, Utah and to the cheese plant in Smithfield for a long time and we received small checks and our butter and cheese.
In 1905 I worked in the store for Morris J. Swinyard. At this time the Lewiston Sugar Factory was built.
I also worked in Charles Pond’s store in town for one year, after which he located by the sugar factor. I then worked for him as a clerk, hauling lumber, and general merchandise until 1910. I then started working for a company, of which I owned some shares, known as the “Citizen’s Trading Company.” I worked in this position until 1915. My health failed me and I gave up the store and went to farming.
I hauled beets in a wagon with a double bed, made so that a man could stand on the end gate while you unloaded the beets. I was able to haul two and a half tons of beets at a time.
Sometime during the early twenties we won a prize of seventy-five dollars for the cleanest and most uniform beets (this was a fifteen acre patch of beets). With the money we purchased a prized phonograph from Alphus L. Rawlins. That year the beets ran twenty-three tons to the acre.
The girls all helped in the beets or we never would have harvested them some years. I can recall many times that the beets were frozen until we would be lucky if we could haul one load a day off the ground.
The boys could always be depended upon to get the chores done. Even if I couldn’t be home, I didn’t have to worry because they would always be taken care of.
In March 1930 just two months after Fred’s next door neighbor, counselor, friend and father-in-law Joseph Wire Leavitt passed away, he and Eulalie lost their 15 year old daughter Meleese. He wrote:
. . . She had suffered a great deal in her life, having had pneumonia ten times. Many a night I slept with her in the garage or on the back porch, where the doctor thought she would be better. It was so cold; Eulalie had to make us night caps to wear.
She was so beautiful when she was laid away for burial, just in her budding womanhood. We had been blessed by her cheerfulness and with her beautiful spirit for 15 and a half years. She had black hair and dark blue eyes and her skin was as white as wax. She was so beautiful when she was put in her casket.
In the midst of the depression and with son Edis out in the missionfield serving in Australia, Fred received a call to leave his wife, children and the farm to serve as a full time missionary. He counseled with Eulalie and together they determined if the Lord called him he should serve. He reports:
In the winter of 1935 I was called to fill a mission in California, so left December 26, 1935, leaving my son Walter with a broken hip (a horse had kicked him) and my wife sick in bed with sciatic rheumatism. The Lord was good to us and both were made well in a short time.
I served under President Nicholas G. Smith. I stayed in the mission field 6 months, returned the 30th of June 1936.
Fred had arranged a loan to support him while in the mission field. When he returned the money was still all in the bank. The Lord had blessed the family and had provided the means. When Fred returned home he continued his missionary labors, he was called to serve as a Benson Stake missionary, serving two years. He served in many capacities in the Church over the years. While serving in these church callings he also found time to serve as secretary to the Taggart Family Association for 39 years. He was also a director on the Cache County Drainage District Number Six from the time the drain was first made and for the next fourteen years.
In 1942 as World War Two began to heat up Fred felt he should do his part to help in some way with the war effort. He and Eulalie talked it over and made the decision to move to Ogden and seek employment at Hill Field, January 5th, he started to work. He left the home and farm in the hands of his son Edis. His son Paul wrote about this period:
Dad went to work at Hill Field as a carpenter foreman. He had fifteen to forty men working under his supervision. He would not tolerate any profanity or dirty stories or jokes from any of his men and they loved and respected him for it. He worked until the war was over, and then he decided to quit. The work was slowing down and there wasn’t much to do and he felt that if he couldn’t earn his money he didn’t want to accept it. He and Mother then moved back to Lewiston to the old home.
Besides being a father, a farmer, a merchant etc Fred had always been a carpenter.
I did my last carpenter work November 14, 1951. I made my granddaughter Ileen Hyde a bookcase for a wedding gift. This ended a lifetime of building, designing and constructing furniture, homes, schools, churches, factories, and buildings of every type. I used to make infants caskets which my wife and daughters lined so very beautifully. I think I can truthfully say that I have made hundreds of infant caskets in my lifetime.
The next morning, November 15, 1951, I went to the barn to do my morning chores, feeling fit as usual, and while milking a cow, I had a stroke. My wife found me an hour later, almost frozen, helpless, at the side of the cow. I had managed to pull myself away from the danger of her stepping on me.
In the last years of his life Fred suffered three strokes and was incapacitated. He passed away on May 4, 1955, in his bedroom on the main floor, a room he remodeled from the former bishop’s office--in his home which was built as the Tithing Office in Lewiston, Utah.
Eulalie continued to live in the home for nearly a decade. She enjoyed living in Lewiston with many of her children and grandchildren nearby. The home was comfortable, the 18”thick brick walls had always kept the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Her son F. Edis lived just a half mile east on the same road, he and Mary were constant help. They bought a television for her several years before they bought one for themselves. I have fond memories of stopping by grandma’s house to watch TV on the way home from school each day. Eulalie moved out of the home, down the street, to live with us for a period before her death in 1966.
Eulalie deeded the home and property to my father F. Edis Taggart, who had taken care of the farm and property since the failure of his father’s health.
Edis and Mary Taggart’s children have each lived in the former Tithing Office for a time. Their oldest, Bryan, and his new wife Sharon lived there for a short time. The second child Antoinette (Toni) and her husband Jaren lived there for a few years when they were finishing university at Utah State.
In 1972 when I became engaged to Gloria Shaffer, Dad and Mom offered the home to us as a wedding present. We spent six months fixing up and restoring the home, painstakingly removing dozens of coats of paint from the oak fireplaces etc. We moved in the night of our marriage in July. We loved the home and enjoyed living there. It was always my dream to restore it to its original glory. We moved to Grace Idaho in 1975 to teach seminary. We had a difficult decision when we were offered a selling price for the home a few years later. After consulting with the family, our feeling was that it was better for the home to be occupied and loved by others that to remain empty. It has often been in our thoughts since.
All the descendants of Fred and Eulalie Taggart are grateful that the Nolan Johnson family has put love and resources into making it beautiful again.
Timothy L. Taggart
January 9, 2009