History of Robert Walter Weech

Robert Walter Weech
Robert Walter Weech

By Robert Walter Weech

Like Nephi of old, I was "Born of goodly parents" on December 3rd, 1891 in Pima, Arizona. I was the baby boy of the family, being the fourteenth child of a family of fifteen.

My early youth was spent in the Graham Mountain in the summer time and in the house in Pima in the winter time. Yes all that I can remember of those winters was croup and butter and sugar with a trial of burnt alum occasionally. It seemed that from the first the power of the destroyer was set to take me from this world.

When I was but three weeks old my older brothers and sisters were called home from a Christmas Eve party because my parents thought I was dying with the croup. I was in an upstairs room and they could hear me breathe as they stood on the sidewalk in front of the house.

Another time the destroyer tried to take me was when mother and father were going up to the mountain. They had their arms full, as they had to ride horseback because there was no road, so they could not carry me. They tied me on the pack saddle on the back of "Old John" a tried and trusted, sure-footed horse. But as we went around the ledge, by the Slick Rock, the horse slipped and went down the cliff rolling over three times. Every one expected to find me dead but I suffered no injury whatsoever.

The Patriarch in March 1902 said (without personal knowledge of what had happened to me), "You have been kindly watched over from your infancy and preserved from the power of the destroyer."

On the mountain we used to build play houses up to about the third log and then find another location and start another house. I used to make spending money for the winter by dragging in logs and cutting them for fire wood. I had a little burro that the folks bought for fifty cents from the stray pen. When it was a colt the boys would take its mother across the swimming pool and the colt would follow, then they would duck it. We always had a time getting it across a stream that it was not familiar with. I remember once when Will and I were going down from the mountain with some butter we came to the new ditch above town. That was the stopping place for about two hours. The water wasn't over six inches deep but I have an idea that Will sort of "paid the fiddler," so to speak, for the fun he had in the swimming pool on that occasion.

Another thing of interest was the old red rooster. Every time some one was coming to the mountain it used to come to the log cabin door and crow several times. We all knew what that meant and we kids would beat the trail down the canyon to meet the person who was coming up (or was the candy the great impulse)?

This last summer I had the privilege of going over part of the old road that my dear father labored so hard to make that we might enjoy. I lived the old times over and over again and, as I went along, the song "The Old Oaken Bucket" was running through my mind all the time. I felt as the composer must have felt when he wrote the song. It seemed that old happenings were brought to my mind that hadn't been revived since their happenings. And as he said and "'en the old bucket" I could say and 'en the old water wheel, bear traps, logs and the rocks we used to play on, etc. My childhood was so filled with happiness that I truly feel like saying "Oh to be a boy again."

Soon after the change of the century I had the privilege of visiting my sister Sarah and family in Old Mexico. This was indeed a trip which I shall never forget. There my good old U.S. nickel would buy two pieces of candy where others would only buy one. It was there that I first saw the people dance to the tune "Have you seen my new shoes."

The wild turkeys were quite numerous in the mountains and as we camped at night we could hear them up in the trees. The scenery was beautiful. While there in the farthest settlement I saw a great big mountain lion. It didn't take us boys long to get back to town.

When we came back to the United States it was a great thrill to sere Old Glory flying again. We stopped overnight in El Paso. There I had my first experience with modern improvements. At the hotel they had the toilet room on top of another building. I suppose the old idea of having the toilet away from the house still prevailed. Well, Mother and Clara went to it and then I went in. Mother had told me to pull the string when I had finished. This I did but I ran from the house asking mother how to stop it.

In 1903 we left Arizona for Oregon where I spent my adolescent age. There I learned to dance round dances which were forbidden by the church authorities while we lived in Arizona. I said "forbidden" but not stopped. The folks couldn't see harm in them then and now they are teaching the same dances in the M.I.A. I must admit that some of the teachings were more of a personal feeling than inspirational. However, I have seen some vulgar dancing in the waltz. This was due to improper management.

When we left Arizona I had a little pony which was the pride of the town kids. Father had given me a little saddle and as a farewell I let all my friends ride my horse. I had to leave the horse but took the saddle to Oregon. The kiddies gave me a farewell party and some presents. In our leaving we forgot the presents, so I never got to play with them. I did, however, have an autograph book given me and I prize that as a great keepsake. Some day I'm going to "put on my specks and think" of my old friends.

I spent two and a half winters in Oregon before I went to Logan to the Brigham Young College. During my stay in Oregon I worked on the farm and hauled lumber. When we went there, there were twenty-six sawmills within fifteen miles of our farm.

I love to think of the good times we had in the little old schoolhouse and the church house. We had one teacher whose favorite song was "Where is now the merry party I remember long ago." I wonder? We had another teacher who had read about the "Wild West" and he slept with two six-shooters under his pillow.

The first of 1906 I left for Logan to enter the B.Y.C. I would have gone in the fall of 1905, but I failed in history in the school exams, and had to take that subject over again. I studied until November, then went to LeGrand and passed. I was only fourteen then so from the time I was fourteen I have been away from home with the exception of the summer months. Much of my adolescent age I was my own governor, but I had been taught correct principles by my parents, and so all the time I was away to school I did nothing which would bring disgrace upon them.

In 1909 I left for Chicago to attend Northwestern University--not yet quite eighteen years of age. During my stay in Chicago on different occasions I felt the presence of my dear sister Amanda who died while we were yet in Arizona. I felt she was my constant companion.

In April of 1911 I received the Degree of Graduate in Pharmacy, and in June of 1911 I received the Degree of Pharmaceutical Chemist. There at school I waited on tables at a fashionable eating and rooming house for my meals. In this way I really had good food and plenty of it. The head waiter was a Negro boy and I can truthfully say I have never met a finer gentleman. His skin was black but his heart was white. Yes, there are good men and women in all races. They are all God's children.

After graduating from Northwestern, I spent the summer in Pine Grove, and in the fall I went to Tacoma, Washington to work for an English gentleman as assistant pharmacist. In the spring of 1912 I came to Salt Lake. (Father and Mother had moved here by that time to work in the Temple.) I worked for about a month for B.F. Ott Drug in the old Victory Theater. Then I worked in Provo for a month at relief work in the Headquist Drug. After that I went to Mt. Pleasant and opened a store for a Mr. Ed Johnston. While working there I met a girl who has since been my life's companion--Stella Jensen. Through the years my love has changed from puppy love to a real love because of her goodness. God couldn't have given me a better companion, and she in turn has given me four of the finest children I have ever known: Robert LeRoy, Merrill Jensen, Hyrum Grant, and Janet Elaine. Not a one of them is a black sheep. I can point with pride to them as my children wherever I go.

In 1913 I bought the Sutton Drug when I was a little over twenty-one. I had not had the experience necessary and I overpaid for the stock. That is, there was so much dead stock that I had to buy that I never was able to clear myself of debt. I paid Mr. Sutton but by that time I was in debt to the wholesale houses. In 1923 after ten years of hard work and low pay I decided that life was too short to waste it that way. I tried to sell but it was in a depression time and I couldn't sell so I assigned over to the benefit of the creditors. Needles to say I received nothing for my ten years of work but a living. Oh had Father with his experience helped me in judgment instead of finance and love. He put me through school and I guess thought that I had good judgment in buying a store. It would have been far better had I opened a store of my own with a new stock. I want to say this to all young people: Get advice of your seniors when you contemplate anything like that. Be like they say about the Jews: "A Jew will not buy a cow until all his friends have passed approval upon it."

In giving up the store and coming to Salt Lake City I have had a part of my Patriarchal blessing fulfilled which couldn't have been fulfilled had I stayed in Mt. Pleasant, and that is: I have been a missionary on the Temple Block now for over 11 years and have preached the gospel to "all the nations of the world."

In 1935 we had the misfortune of losing our first born by drowning in the Great Salt Lake. He was a lover of sports and had built himself a canvas boat and was so anxious to get it on the lake for the March winds to drive it. Well, one Sunday he left to go to the lake and was taken in death. Of course this was a shock to us that we will never overcome until we meet him again. He was just over 21 and so much comfort and cheer to us.

Now this is 1945. My three remaining children are all married to good Latter-day Saint companions. I have three granddaughters and one grandson, and they are fine children also. I can truthfully say in closing, God has indeed been good to me all the days of my life.

Prayers Answered

By Robert Walter Weech, 1947

In Grandpa Weech's house we were always taught to pray to God as our Father in Heaven. For this I am truly thankful for I have had my prayers answered on many occasions. I list a few of the experiences I have had with prayer.

I can remember when as a little boy I used to lose nickels every once in a while and I can never remember not finding them because I would always pray to my Father in Heaven to help me find the nickels.

My first real prayer was on the other side of the Gila River from Pima. I had gone for the cows. For three days the Gila had been in a flooded condition and for two nights my horse had to swim across. This night it was up to the horses' flanks and some of the younger stock had to swim. As I was fastening the gate my horse ran away and I was left on the other side. At first I wasn't very alarmed, thinking that someone would come along. One wagon did cross going the opposite direction but I didn't stop it. After a while it started to get dark. The wild animals started to howl. No one came. I was frightened.

Finally I went over by a willow and knelt down and prayed. Confident that the Lord would answer my prayer, I went over to the river, took off my shoes and stockings, rolled up my pants, and started to wade. I didn't know how to swim so I don't know what would have happened if I had had to. I walked out into the water and across the stream. To my amazement, part of my clothing got wet. I went up the bank of the river and there stood my horse with the reins thrown over a fence post. Was I happy, because I had it all planned that some animal would jump out from the bushes as I walked home and grab me.

Another time I had been called to be a missionary here in Salt Lake and had taken trhee boys with me to Mt. Pleasant, planning to be back Saturday night. On the way back I had all kids of trouble with my tires. Finally I fixed the tire and tried to blow it up but the valve gut would not hold. I changed valve guts from the other spare tubes I had. None of them would hold. All the time something told me to pray. I thought that I wouldn't bother the Lord about that. Finally I gave up. My two oldest boys were awake. (It was now 3 a.m.) A fine rain was falling. I asked the boys if they wanted to pray with me. They said yes, so we all knelt down around a large rock and prayed. I went over to the car, pushed the pump handle down and the valve held. I hadn't disconnected the pump. Why didn't it hold before? God heard our prayer.

During the depression I had a hard time getting the necessities of life. I needed work. I was prompted to fast and pray, but I didn't. Things got to the point where we were about to lose our home. Finally I fasted and prayed. The next day the druggist called me from the hospital and asked if I would work for him a few days. When I went up there he told me that he was leaving there the first of the next month and that I should put in my application. I did and the next day I had a steady job. Another prayer was answered.

In Mt. Pleasant in 1919 I attended a funeral of a little boy the same age of my son Merrill. He was just two years old. I sang in the choir at the funeral. I was as close to the casket as the mourners. The speakers talked about the resurrection, of how the mother would be given the child to rear in the millenium, etc. During the funeral, the thought came to me, "If that was Merrill would I be able to receive comfort from the speakers." I didn't know that what they were saying was true. I believed it to be true, but I couldn't honestly say I knew it to be true.

When I was a little boy, one of the Presidents of the Church came to Pima, Arizona. (I believe it was President Woodruff.) At that time we kiddies were taught to bear our testimonies and we would stand up and say we knew that this is the true church and that we knew this and that. Our president pulled back the curtains and listened to us for a while and then he spoke to us. He told us that we should say we believed those things to be true and that if we lived right the day would come that we could stand up and say that we knew they were true; but until that time came, we should say we believed them to be true because we were too young to know.

That night after the funeral I stayed home from the drug store, but I had to stay up until the store closed to fill any prescriptions that may have come it. All the family had gone to bed and I was lying on the couch. I prayed to the Lord that I might have a knowledge of the true fullness of the resurrection, that I could tell the world that I know the gospel is true and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God.

As I lay on the couch I wondered how it could be made known to me. I had seen the sick healed and other things. I remembered how Fannie came to our home in Oregon with ptomain poisoning and how father had administered to her and she was healed almost before father had taken his hands off her head. The thought came to me that the only way I could know that these things were true was to see someone die and then resurrected. I didn't want anyone to have to suffer the pains of death just to have my testimony strengthened.

I was just going to pray to the Lord and tell Him that if that had to be done I didn't want my prayer answered. Just then an angel pointed and said look. I looked toward Jerusalem and there I saw the Savior hanging on the cross. I saw Him in agony and pain. I saw Him look up toward Heaven and say, "My God, My God has though also forsaken Me?" I then saw Him die. His head dropped on His left side.

Next I was taken to the Temple. As I sat there a fine looking man stood up on the stand. He was of the finest type physique. All at once His glory came upon Him and it seemed that every virtue radiated from Him and was labeled such as: Godliness, obedience, purity, love, kindness, etc.

Then I found myself in another room and I sat there as we do in the Temple except that I was seated on the left side of the aisle. Three men were seated on the other end of the row. They were talking in real low tones. As I sat there on the front row, a person came up the aisle and stood in front of me. He put out His hand to shake hands. I clasped His hand and as I did so I felt a pit in his hand. I thought this man must have had a bad case of small pox to have such a pit in His hand. I looked and there I saw the marks of the nails in His hands. I looked up into His face and saw the look of love that no one but He could have. I knelt on my right knee, kissed His hand and cried out, "Oh my dear Savior."

Today I can saw with a knowledge of the truth that there is a resurrection, that Jesus lives and that the gospel is true. I know. I can bear testimony that if you are humble and sincere that God will answer your prayers, for He has never failed me when I did my part. When I have asked for some things that I now know weren't best for me He has not granted my request for which I truly thank Him. In praying, always remember to say, "Thy will be done," or "Grant this prayer if it is best for me."

An Answer to Prayer

By Robert W. Weech, Jan. 27, 1948

About two months ago I prayed to the Lord that I might be able to convert someone to the gospel on Temple Block that day. I took the company as usual and after the tour was over they thanked me and left. Well, I thought to myself, my prayer was not answered. I went out to the gate and there I was answering some more questions of some of the people who had been with me. After they had left a young man came up to me and asked if he could talk to me for a while. I gladly said "Yes." Then he said, "My companion is just over here in the car, she would like to talk with you also."

We went over tot he car and his companion told me this story: "As we went around with you today something told me, as if a person were talking to me, that you were telling the truth and that the Mormon Church is the true Church of God. I have received a knowledge that it is true. I realize now that I have always been a Mormon at heart but I did not know it. I really want to be baptized into the church. What do I need to do? Will you tell me all about the church and its teachings?" I told her that it would take days to tell all that I know about the church but that I would give her the outstanding things about the gospel. I told her in short of the restoration, of the pre-mortal existence, our mortal life, paradise and the Celestial Glory, fatherhood and motherhood in the hereafter, etc. She said, "It is the most wonderful thing I have ever heard in my life and I am so glad we came today. I have belonged to different churches where ever I have lived but it always seemed that something was missing. Yes, I have always been a Mormon, at heart. When I heard the voice telling me that this is the true Church of God, it made me so weak that I couldn't stand and I got my companion to bring me to the car. I was so sorry that I couldn't stay with the company to the last. What books can we get to give us a greater knowledge of the church and its teachings." I told her to get Talmage's Articles of Faith and Jesus the Christ.

Well, a prayer had been answered. God had answered another prayer of mine! Oh, He is a good Father to me! I love Him so much. I wish that I might accumulate enough means that I could do only missionary work the rest of my life and do or have the work done for our loved ones who are over there.

P.S. Robert Walter Weech is guide on Temple Block, Salt Lake City and this experience came to him while in the course of his duty there.

Robert W. Weech

Utah Since Statehood, Vol. 3, p.542

Robert W. Weech is proprietor of the leading drug store of Mount Pleasant, where he has conducted business since 1912. He was born at Pima, Arizona, December 3, 1891, a son of Hyrum H. and Sarah (Dall) Weech, both of whom were natives of England. About the year 1860 they arrived in Utah, at which time they took up their abode in Goshen. He was one of the men who helped construct the first telegraph line into Utah. They were married in 1866 and remained at that place for a considerable period. In 1883 the father was called to Arizona to assist in the settlement of Pima, where he continued for twenty-one years. During the following fifteen years he lived in Oregon and at Salt Lake City and in 1918 returned to Pima. He filled the position of bishop in the Mormon church there for a number of years. The children of his family are: Robert W.; David H., living at Pima; Joseph H., a resident of Idaho; William and John, who are located at Lasal, San Juan county, Utah; Sarah, the wife of Heber Cluff, of Pima, Arizona; Lizzie, the wife of Charles Birdno, of Pima; Fanny, who married Jacob Burns and resides at Randlett, Utah; Janie, who married Dr. L.E. Whitman and lives at Globe, Arizona; Emma, the wife of Charles Walsh, a resident of Elgin, Oregon; Pearl, the wife of Philemon Merrill, of Pima, Arizona; and Clara, the wife of Theodore Olsen, a resident of Raymond, Alberta, Canada, and one son and two daughters who are deceased.

Robert W. Weech attended the public schools of his native city and also of Oregon and in 1906 entered the Brigham Young College at Logan, Utah, where he remained as a student until 1909. In the latter year he entered the Northwestern University of Chicago, in which he pursued a two years' pharmaceutical course and was then graduated. He is a prescription druggist and since 1912 has conducted a drug store at Mount Pleasant, where he has carried on a growing and profitable business, his trade being now very large and satisfactory.

In 1913 Mr. Weech was married to Miss Estella Jensen, a daughter of Niels and Nicholena (Rolfson) Jensen, who in pioneer times became residents of Utah, being numbered among the first settlers of Mount Pleasant, where the father engaged in the milling business, which trade he had learned in early life. Mrs. Weech has two brothers, Leo and Fred, and a sister, Annie, married. By her marriage Mrs. Weech has become the mother of three children: Robert Leroy, born in Mount Pleasant in 1914; Merrill Jensen, born in 1916; and Hyrum Grant in 1919.

The religious faith of the family is that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Mr. Weech was secretary of the Elders' Quorum of the north ward of Mount Pleasant, is also active in Sunday school work and is in the presidency of the Y.M.M.I.A. of the south ward. He is likewise connected with the Hub Club at Mount Pleasant and cooperates heartily in all of its plans and projects for the upbuilding of the city and the extension of its trade relations. He is a genial gentleman and has many friends in Mount Pleasant, where he has built up a business of substantial proportions, his business qualifications and his social attributes making him a valued resident of the community.