Author’s note: The first portion of this narration is strictly hear-say. I was there but can’t remember a thing about it.
It all started in a small log cabin one block east of the school in Woodruff, Rich County, Utah. On 28 May 1920, a son was born to Luella May Eastman Bryson and David Hyrum Bryson, a sort of booby prize to replace the two sons lost during the influenza epidemic of 1919. The package was delivered and cared for by Sister Cornea, the local midwife who was the deliverer for all nine of the older brothers and sisters, as well as everyone else born in the south end of the county for 20 years either side. It wasn’t that Dad needed a substitute for his basketball team—he had never heard of the game—it just happened that way.
Lorrell (“Doc”) was the third brother—big, powerful, growing out of his boots even then. A hare-lip distinguished Doc. Otis (“Joe”) was fourth. Short and stocky, with a distinguished pug nose with no bone in the tip that branded him as Dave Bryson’s boy. Then came three girls, Etta, Angie, and Luella, to spoil and pamper the new baby between school and other chores. Then, of course, Max and Keith didn’t live there anymore.
1921 brought many changes to the lives of the Bryson family. Father David, after 20 years’ service with the Deseret Livestock Ranch, had been given a lease on several sections of the irrigated hay and grain producing fields. After observing the inefficiency of the big ranch operation, he became convinced he could operate part of the big ranch at a saving to the company and at a profit to the family. So, in the spring of 1921, Bryson and Sons was created with a sole asset of a few carefully chosen horses and confidence in themselves. They took over the operation of the Blue Grass, the Selbratis and the North Fields. The contract briefly called for the company to provide the land, the water and the horsepower and the Bryson’s to provide the manpower, for which they were paid one half the value of the crops they produced.
The leased land held by Bryson and Sons was generally called the Blue Grass. It lay in a large horseshoe shape around a long rocky ridge which protruded into the valley from the desert to the south. The Blue Grass meadows lay to the east of the ridge and were about two miles long and a half to a mile across. The north fields lay in the big valley bottom where the Salbrates and the Blue Grass creeks came together and extended northward toward Woodruff, seven miles away. From East to West, the north field and the lower Salbralis meadows must have been three miles across and extended to the north fence which was barely visible from the house. The Salbrates meadows completed the horseshoe up the west side of the rocky ridge. The house was located on the north east lip of the ridge overlooking the Blue Grass fields in the distance. Perhaps three quarters of mile was a shallow alkali lake too badly affected for even the cattle to drink.
Most of the land was marshy. However, there were several hundred acres of the higher ground that had been plowed and was available for growing hay. One large strip out back of the barn had been seeded for alfalfa. Some of the better ground on the upper edges of the meadow was still infested with greasewood and sagebrush.