Charles Tonks was born May 23, 1868, in Morgan, Utah, to William and Martha Derricott Tonks. His father William Tonks was born July 19, 1832, in Willenhall, Staffordshire, England, a son of George and Martha Pearson Tonks. His mother was born May 24, 1828, in Wrockwardine, Shropshire, England, a daughter of Charles and Mary Ashley Derricott.
Both William and Martha were converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and immigrated to America in the spring of 1856, arriving in New York on the ship “Caravan” after being three months on the ocean. They lived in New York City for three years where William made a living by working at his trade of locksmith and blacksmith and saved enough money to outfit them for the trip across the plains to Salt Lake City. Two children, George Moroni and William Henry, were born in New York. Martha’s child, Elizabeth Derricott, stayed in England with her grandparents, Charles and Mary Ashley Derricott. When they immigrated to America in 1868, she came with them and joined the family.
In the early spring of 1859, William and Martha and their two children took passage by way of New Orleans, up the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where they started their long journey of over one thousand miles to Salt Lake City.
After many hardships and sacrifices they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on October 1, 1859. Just three months later, a fourth child, Martha Jane, was born. They lived a few blocks northwest of the Temple grounds, in the old Nineteenth Ward area. While here William opened up a nail factory and later took up his trade as a blacksmith. They lived in Salt Lake City for about five years where two more children were born, Louisa and Mary Elizabeth (called Polly).
Many of the pioneers were called to colonize in other areas, and William and Martha were sent to Farmington. In 1866, after a road was opened through Devils Gate (also known as “the Horseshoe Bend”) in Weber Canyon, they and their five children moved to Morgan, or Weber Valley as it was called at that time.
Their first home in Morgan was a one room dugout with steps going down into it just like a cellar and was located on the northwest corner of 100 South and State Street. The dugout was a square hole about five feet deep with logs placed on the banks of each side and the ends. The next row of logs was placed in about two feet until only one log filled the space in the middle at the top. Willows were then placed all over the roof and covered with dirt. This type of roof was bad when it rained, as the water would leak through the roof.
The only light in the dugout during the day was through two small windows, one in each gable end. The floors were sprinkled with water every morning and swept. After the floor became hard packed it was quite easy to keep the room clean and to sweep without getting great clouds of dust.
It was in this humble abode that Charles was born. Charles was the seventh child in a family of eight children. His brothers and sisters were: Elizabeth (1854-1926), George Moroni (1856-1932), William Henry (1858-1942), Martha Jane (1861-1947), Louisa (1863-1942), Mary Elizabeth (1865-1877) and Rebecca Althura (1872-1938).
William again worked at his blacksmith trade, establishing the first blacksmith shop in South Morgan in 1866. It was located on Young Street where the Morgan Middle School now stands (2014). He was a skilled wheelwright and set many wagon wheels. Most of the nails in early Morgan homes were made by his hands.
They built their first log home, a two-room house, on the southeast corner of this lot (the corner of 200 East and Young Street where the LDS Seminary is). Their last child, Rebecca Althura (known as Becky) was born here. In one corner of this home a large grain bin was built. Once while the children were playing near the bin it broke and little Charles was buried under the grain. They all had quite a scare before he was finally dug out.
In 1868-1869, the blacksmith shop was moved to Commercial Street (approximately 261 North 500 East). During this time the railroad was being built from Echo Canyon through Morgan County and William had a contract to make shoes for the mules. He shod all the mules and horses receiving $10 for every span he shod. His sons, George and Henry, although they were only boys at the time, helped him with this work.
William always kept busy in his blacksmith shop. If he wasn’t repairing, fixing or building something, he was training others in the trade. When he was too old to run the shop it was rented to others to run. On February 10, 1940, the blacksmith shop and lot, which Charles the youngest son now owned, was sold to Earl Halls for $300. Mr. Halls used it for a number of years and then tore it down and built a more modern structure on the grounds.
As the family grew, more room was needed for their support and in 1872 William purchased one hundred acres of land for $600 about a mile or two east of Morgan. This land was located in a small valley, encircled by mountains and was called Round Valley by the early settlers. The Weber River flowed through the center of the valley making a natural boundary between the settlements of North and South Round Valley.
Much work had to be done with this undeveloped piece of land in South Round Valley, as well as a home built for the family. A large two-story stone home was constructed (1445 East Round Valley Road) and over the next several years, while William continued to work at his blacksmith shop in Morgan, he and his sons cleared the land of trees, brush, willows and rocks. Ditches were dug for irrigation making it possible to plant and raise crops on the farm for their livestock which eventually consisted of cattle, horses, sheep, pigs and chickens. They planted an orchard with all kinds of fruit trees – plum, pear, cherry, apple and apricot; and raised a variety of vegetables in their garden as well as currents, gooseberries and rhubarb. William also had a bee colony. Charles was just a small boy when the family moved to Round Valley but as he grew, he was expected to do his share of the work and learned to work alongside his older brothers.
In the mid 1870’s a one-room rock school was built by Henry Olpin, a rock mason, about one mile east of the Tonks home. It replaced the log school built in South Round Valley which had been used by all the families living in the valley as well as those who lived up the canyon by the big and little railroad tunnels. This new building was used for social events and Sunday School. Charles remembered attending his early schooling here, as did some of his children. The families in Round Valley went to church (Sunday School) here on Sunday morning and then traveled to Morgan for the afternoon meeting. As Morgan County grew, the schools in the various settlements were consolidated into one school in Morgan. By 1898 the population of Round Valley had decreased so much that the families were assigned to the LDS church wards in North and South Morgan. This structure in later years was used as a barn to store hay by the Tonks family. It is still standing today (2014) and is now owned by the Round Valley Golf Course.
In relating experiences later in life, Charles remembered when the grasshoppers came in 1873, and how, when they flew in front of the sun, it could not be seen. They put coal oil in the ditches and after setting if on fire, drove the grasshoppers into it to kill them.
Many of the early settlers in Utah were faced with epidemics, such as, small pox, diphtheria and influenza. When Charles was eight and a half years old, his family was deeply saddened with the death of his eleven year old sister, Mary Elizabeth (Polly), who died January 2, 1877 from diphtheria. It was a dreaded disease and many families lost loved ones and were quarantined during these epidemics.
Charles was a young boy or in his early teens when her mother was called to be a counselor in the Stake Relief Society. One of her duties was to visit the wards in the county. On these occasions she had Charles drive her by horse and buggy. It took two days to go to the Peterson Ward. On the way she would visit the Littleton and Milton ward meetings. One meeting was held in the morning and the other in the afternoon, making it possible to attend both in one day. If it wasn’t too late, they would then drive on to Peterson. The next day she attended that meeting before they returned home. It took two days to visit the Croydon ward, one day going and one returning.
In 1890, Charles’ father and a number of his neighbors organized a stock company and bought a large tract of land from the Union Pacific Railroad which was used for range purposes for their cattle and horses.
When Charles was a young man, many times he rode a horse or went in a wagon to the dances in Morgan. When he and his sister Becky started high school in Morgan, he met Margaret Catherine Robison. She lived across the street from the North Morgan Church House (now the LDS Morgan Utah Stake Center at 371 North 700 East), and she and Becky chummed around together. Margaret first went with Hyrum Carter and when they stopped going together; Becky told her she ought to go with her brother, Charles. Margaret’s brother, Will, was also trying to get them together and told Charles that now was his chance.
They started dating and one Sunday night Charles decided he would settle this dating matter then and there and proposed. Margaret accepted his proposal and on December 2, they left Morgan and traveled to Logan, Utah. The trip was made on the train as the automobile was not used at that time. They were married on the morning of December 3, 1890, in the Logan LDS Temple. They were accompanied by his sister Becky and James Henry Tucker who were married the same day. The next day they returned to Morgan. Charles was twenty-two years old and Margaret was twenty years old. They made their home with his parents in Round Valley and lived with them for a few years.
Margaret Catherine or Maggie as she was known was born August 10, 1870, a daughter of William and Margaret Smith Robison. She was the eighth child in a family of eleven children. Her parents came from Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and were among the early handcart pioneers that came to Utah. After living a short time in Farmington, the Robison family moved to North Morgan, where they made their home.
The summer after they were married, Charles and Maggie, accompanied by his mother (Martha Derricott Tonks) went by team and buggy up Echo Canyon and over the small rolling hills to Bear Lake. Martha’s folks, Charles and Mary Derricott, had emigrated from England in 1868, and were now living in the little settlement of Liberty. After an enjoyable visit they returned home the same way.
As the years passed, Charles’ brothers and sisters married and were soon rearing families of their own. In 1889 William Henry and his family left Morgan and moved to the Teton Valley (Victor) in Idaho where land was more plentiful to be had. When George Moroni married, his father, William gave him twenty-two acres to farm in Round Valley. He built a three-room brick home across the street from his parents (1440 East Round Valley Road - the Frank Tonks home). In 1898, George Moroni decided to move with his family to the Teton Valley and Charles bought his home and farm.
William and Martha (who were in their early seventies) built a home in the town of Morgan and moved there in about 1902-1903. William Henry’s wife, Susan, had problems with her health because of the high altitude in Idaho, so they moved back to Round Valley to run his father’s farm and purchased it after his parents died.
Charles and Maggie had a great love and respect for each other and were the proud parents of ten children. They were (along with their spouses): Charles William called Charlie (Nina Porter) 1891-1972; Leland 1893-1917; Vernocia (Parley Butters and George Peck) 1895-1985; LaVera called Vera (Laural Mortensen) 1897-1983; Maggie (Charles Kippen) 1900-1983; Cecil (Harriet Fenner) 1902-1977; Myra (Douglas Lee) 1905-1976; Franklin Smith called Frank (Flora Dawson) 1907-1991; Wesley (Alice Walburg) 1910-1970; and Lewis (Marie Johnson) 1913-2004.
It took a lot of hard work, labor and sacrifice to rear a large family of ten children and provide for them, but living on the farm they always had enough to eat. Charles and Maggie taught their children the necessary things of life and the importance of religion in their home. Like their parents they were active members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family prayer was observed and they never ate a meal without giving thanks to the Lord for it. The value of prayer was stressed and as each child came along Maggie would teach them to say a little prayer before going to bed at night
There was always something to be done, and as the children grew, they were all expected to help with the chores on the farm and in the home. The girls helped with the household chores. The washing was done in a washing machine that had to be turned by hand and a scrubbing board was used when clothes were extra dirty. The ironing was accomplished by using a heavy iron that needed to be heated on the stove and then traded with another hot iron when the one being used cooled. There were meals to be prepared, baking to be done, food to be canned and preserved, butter churned, younger children to be cared for, etc., etc.
The boys helped with the farm work and chores and did a lot of the same things their father did while he was growing up. Everything was done with the use of horses of which they had five. Spring meant the planting of crops, summer the time to irrigate and haul hay, and with fall came the harvest of all the crops including the grain. Winter required the feeding of the cattle and the sheep.
Each morning after the cows were milked, they were turned out on the hillside to graze until afternoon when they had to be hunted down, herded back to the barn and milked for the evening. The next morning the cows had to be driven up the hollow again.
The family also raised twelve to fifteen pigs which had to be fed each day. After the crops were harvested the pigs were turned into the fields to eat the grain that had fallen on the ground. The pigs were also herded to the orchards, one being about a mile south of where they lived. Here they would shake the frozen apples from the trees so the pigs could eat them. When the pigs reached approximately 250 lbs. they were sold except for two or three which were kept and killed in the fall. The meat was then cured for the family’s use during the winter months.
The Hereford cattle were turned out on the range in the spring, and weekly rides were required into the hills to check on them. In the fall, the cattle were rounded up, fattened during the winter and sold.
The sheep and lambs were turned out onto the hillside each day to feed, but had to be herded and watched to keep the coyotes away. They were brought in at night and locked up for safety.
Because there were so many ground squirrels, they had problems with them destroying the crops. Poison oats had to be put out to get rid of them.
During the summer the boys would go up in the hills and hunt wild chickens, or go down to the river and catch a few trout to give the family a variety of food in their diet.
With very little machinery available the farm work required a lot of manual labor. The hay had to be irrigated, mowed, raked, piled by hand, pitched with a fork onto the horse drawn wagon, and then hauled to the barn. A large Jackson fork was used to transfer the hay from the wagon to the barn. This required someone to ride a horse back and forth, pulling each fork full of hay up into the barn.
Even with lots of work to do the children still had fun. There were no tricycles or bicycles but there was always something interesting and exciting to do on the farm. It was fun riding a horse, going to the barn for a cup of warm milk when the cows where being milked, riding on top of a big wagon load of hay, feeding the baby lambs with a bottle, or swimming in the river. They had fun at threshing time when they would play in the grain and push it back in the bin. They always had pigs and it was fun seeing all the baby pigs and watching them, but not chasing them when they got out of the pen and into the garden.
When Charles was a boy there were no motion pictures (movies) or automobiles, no TV or telephones (let alone iPads, computers or smart phones). The family spent little time for entertainment but enjoyed special occasions.
Each year on the fourth and twenty-fourth of July, there was always a big celebration by the court house in Morgan. The court house stood in the center of a half block with big shade trees all around. Families would gather together, eat their lunch, enjoy the activities, and visit with friends and relatives. Everyone looked forward to the usual baseball game and horse races.
Most years the family would enjoy a special outing to Lagoon, leaving Morgan on the little Park City train for a day of celebration and returning in the evening. In later years, when automobiles were used, this event became an annual affair for all the people in Morgan and was known as “Morgan Stake Lagoon Day.” Everyone would meet in one of the large pavilions at Lagoon for their lunch and a program, before having fun on the rides, swimming or just visiting.
Charles was an honest, hard-working man and took great pride in a fine looking farm, home and surroundings. His cattle were the best in Round Valley, and he enjoyed driving a fine team of horses. Farming took much hard labor years ago because of a lack of modern machinery. He has said that with the help of George Geary, a neighbor, they hauled sixty loads of grain in a week and then had some time to play baseball.
Charles was a great lover of sports. Baseball, basketball, wrestling, boxing and all sports greatly amused him. In later years, he especially enjoyed the Lion’s basketball tournament and attended nearly all the High School basketball games.
At first farming was done manually with horses with little modern machinery involved. To harvest grain when Charles was a boy, it would first have to be cut and then hand tied into small bundles. Later a self-binding harvesting machine was invented, which saved much hand labor. But even then the bundles of grain had to be shocked (stacked up) in groups in the field to dry out for a short time. It was then hauled by horse and wagon to the barnyard and stacked, and later threshed. A threshing machine was hired, which traveled from farm to farm. An old horse power thrasher was used in the early days, before a power driven one was developed. A crew of men were arranged for or hired to help. Since the threshing of grain was an all-day event or maybe more, it was necessary to feed the thrashers. Maggie would cook meals for them. Sometimes it was breakfast, dinner and supper depending on when they were working at their farm. She always had plenty for them to eat, sometimes making several different kinds of pie along with two or three cakes to go along with the meal.
In the summer of 1915 (approximately), while putting up their second crop of hay, Charles (about 47 years old) climbed up in the barn to thread the rope through the pulley. He jumped up and as he swung around to get a better hold, lost his grasp and fell about fifty or sixty feet to the ground. This fall broke the joints in both ankles. He was taken to the hospital where he stayed for a week and then had to use crutches for about a year.
Coal stoves were used for cooking and heating, and it was necessary to get a good supply of wood which had to be cut and split. During the winter of 1917, Charles and his two oldest sons, Charlie and Leland, along with Dan Geary and another man went across the river to saw wood. Five horses were hitched onto the horse powered machine and by their circling around a rod that extended out, it gave power to turn the saw. When sufficient speed had been obtained, Dan Geary pushed a log into the saw. The saw hit a frozen part of the log, breaking the saw and causing it to come loose from the stand and fly through the air. As the broken saw came down it struck Leland across the chest, the blow injured him internally and he lived only a few hours. Leland died on February 16, 1917, at the age of twenty-three years. This was a shock to the entire family and to his fiancée, Reta Stevens. Maggie, who composed some lovely poetry, composed one as a tribute to her son.
In 1927 domestic breeding and the raising of foxes in Morgan County began. By 1935 William Henry Tonks and his son-in-law, Ivan Bell, started their fox ranching in Round Valley. (They had two large pens, one where Lewis Tonks’ house is and the other up Tonks Hollow where Bruce Tonks keeps his horses.) By about 1937, Ivan built the feed house with cement blocks which he had made. It was located just east of the big two-story home (it is still standing today behind Bruce Tonks’ home – 2014). Here he stored meat in a large freezer which he ground up for use by the other fox ranchers in Morgan. Horse meat was supplied by Gale Allen who lived in Milton. There was also a big gallows located at the mouth of Tonks Hollow where horses were butchered. By 1945 Charles had entered fox ranching and had pens where Craig Tonks has his home (352 East Round Valley Road).
As early as 1925 eggs where shipped by train to Salt Lake for processing, and for many years, poultry provided a good supplemental cash crop for Morgan farmers. It is believed that around this time or shortly after the chicken coup was built and used by the family for many years. It is now used for storage purposes.
Charles increased the size of his farm when he purchased a thirty-five acre farm and home where the Gibby family used to live. This was located east of his farm (where the Round Valley Golf Club house and old school now stands - 2014). When his son Charlie married, it was sold to him but was eventually bought back when Charlie moved to Morgan and had a farm of his own.
After spending forty years in Round Valley, Charles and Maggie built a new brick home in Morgan (66 South 200 East) and moved there in the fall of 1930. Cecil and Frank were both married and lived on the farm in their parents’ home, which by this time had been remodeled, three additional rooms added and was now made into a duplex. They essentially took over the running of the farm. Cecil had problems with hay fever and so in about 1941; he and Lewis (who had been married for two or three years) exchanged places. Cecil moved to town next to the blacksmith shop where Lewis had been living and Lewis joined Frank on the farm.
The old two-story home that William and Martha built and land that was owned by William Henry Tonks was purchased by Frank and Lewis Tonks after Henry’s death (sometime after 1942). It was eventually torn down and Bruce Tonks, Lewis’ son, built his home in its place. Lewis and Marie built their home just north of the old home where the fox pens were.
Charles and Maggie thoroughly enjoyed their rest after so many years of hard work and responsibilities on the farm. It gave Maggie more time with her records, diary, scrapbooks and other material. Charles had a car and enjoyed a ride each day to Round Valley or “the ranch” as he called it. He couldn’t do much physically but would help with the mowing, do the back swath and ride the horse for putting hay in the barn. His grandson, Bruce, drove him to the South Morgan Cemetery every Wednesday to take care of the watering and mowing of the family graves. Charles always let Bruce drive his car on these occasions.
Grandchildren fondly remember hearing him say his favorite expression of “oy-ee, oy-ee.” He never swore but said “dam-ee” and “hell-ee,” saying these words weren’t actually swearing.
As time passed Charles spent most of his days at the ranch just sitting and observing what was being done. His sons, Frank and Lewis, who had purchased his holdings in Round Valley, were now carrying on the work he had helped start years ago as a boy. His last trip to the ranch was made only three days before his death from a heart attack.
Charles was a faithful member of the LDS Church and always took an active part in church and civic affairs. He was ordained a deacon, teacher, priest, elder, seventy and high priest. He was also a faithful home teacher. Two of his sons served missions: Charles William in England from 1913 to 1915, and Cecil in Texas from 1927 to 1930. Charles also paid half of his sisters (Martha Jane Tonks Welch) son’s mission.
Charles and Maggie celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary on December 1, 1940. Ten years later Margaret died on June 10, 1950 at the age of eighty. Charles’ son, Cecil, and family lived with him seeing to his needs until he passed away on December 28, 1955, at the age of eighty-seven. Charles and Maggie were both buried beside their son Leland in the South Morgan Cemetery, Morgan, Utah.
Written and compiled in August 2014 by Veloy Tonks Dickson, granddaughter of Charles Tonks and daughter of Franklin Smith Tonks. Information was taken from newspaper clippings, diaries, histories of Charles’ children and siblings, and personal knowledge of writer who had the privilege of personally knowing this wonderful special man, Charles Tonks.