This life sketch by Verna B. Lewis (daughter) in 1966, was found in the book Pioneer Men of Arizona by Roberta Flake Clayton, published in 1974 by Roberta Flake Clayton.
Jesse Smith Bushman
Ninety years ago the 10th of June while his father, Bishop John Bushman, was away on a tour of church duty with Stake President Lot Smith, the 9th child of Bishop Bushman and Lois Angeline Smith Bushman was born–not in a modern hospital of today, but in a humble little room built of logs in the Old Fort, one mile east of where Joseph City now stands. Perhaps the mother’s only attendant was her beloved “sister” Mary, the polygamist wife of her husband and mother of two children of her own. When the brethren returned, Apostle Snow and Jesse N. Smith blessed the 12-day old baby and gave him the name of Jesse Smith Bushman.
A rich heritage became Jesse’s at the birth because of these stalwart pioneer parents whose unflinching courage and deep abiding Faith gave them the fortitude to remain in this land of sagebrush and Indians where they had been called to settle by their Prophet Brigham Young, and who willingly battled the raging Little Colorado River until they harnessed it and built for their posterity a land for their inheritance.
Jesse was son to have a “twin” sister, Adele. This blessing of two children only three months apart came because they were living God’s law of polygamy. This, too, was a rich heritage to all these Bushmans, to have parents so beautifully live this eternal law that the two wives were truly like sisters. One of Bishop’s happiest moments was when Jesse named his first daughter Adele for this “twin” sister, instead of for one of his own sisters. This “oneness” of all his children was his dream.
Jesse and Adele had “twin” high chairs, built by their father, set side by side at one corner of the big dining room table and they shared many happy childhood experiences together.
When Jesse was seven years old his father, with the help of neighbors, made and burned 40,000 brinks for a home for their family and Jesse did his little bit. The beautiful two-story, red brick home was dedicated on February 11, 1890 and stand today, over 80 years later, beautifully restored as a monument to these beloved Pioneer grandparents and a blessing to all their posterity.
Jesse was lucky to complete the elementary school offered in St. Joseph then and later attended a Missionary class at Snowflake Stake Academy. At his missionary send-off on June 4, 1903, he received the great sum of $21.50. In August 1908, his parents visited him in his mission field and he took them to see the great Lewis & Clark World’s Fair in Seattle, Washington. His mission in the Northwestern States was a great and illuminating experience; giving him the joy of carrying the wonderful message of our Gospel to others and teaching him that even his Bishop-father and other leaders’ testimonies came not through some miracle but through diligent, faithful service and study.
Jesse Bushman is the third from the left, standing. Northwest States Mission 1908-1910
Jesse was an easy-going frugal person, saving the money to pay for his own mission and accumulating a small herd of cattle while waiting for the “right girl to grow up,” as he jokingly put it. He good-humor idly made sport of being an “old batch.” It took a Leap-year dance and the help of a sister-in-law to help him “lasso” this little filly. Not having been asked to the dance by a damsel he jestingly told “Aunt Ruth” he give her a quarter if she’d get him a date. Always on her toes, she stepped quickly to the telephone (Yes, Bishop Bushman had a phone in those days even though they were later taken from their little city) and got hold of Elva Porter down on their ranch, west of town. Elva who had avoided dates because of the 10-year, 8-month gap in their ages, thought it a joke and accepted. But Jesse was soon at her door in the family horse and buggy. Once successful in lassoing her, Jesse held the reins tight and he and Elva were married on June 4, 1913 in the Salt Lake Temple.
During the first years of their married life, Jesse and Elva homesteaded north of St. Joseph, a little north of where their son Virgil now lives. Here their first son, Melvin Jesse, was born and died within three days; but this did not weaken their faith for they knew that “all that God doth plan for us is best.” When they moved into town, they lived for awhile in the “little green house: still standing (I believe) up by Uncle John and Aunt Adele’s home in Joseph City. Here their first daughter Mamie Adele was born. In 1917, when his parents decided to move to Utah and spend their “twilight years” working in the Salt Lake Temple, Jesse bought his father’s home. Verna feels hers is a priceless heritage for she was the first grandchild (second daughter of Jesse) to be born in thsi beloved Bushman home. There were three more sons and four more daughters (10 in all) come to bless their home. Jesse jokingly said that Elva had double-crossed him–imagine giving a farmer six daughters and only three living sons. But his girls tried to make up to him by becoming milk-maids and farmerettes themselves.
Added to the blessing of being raised in this home so steeped in rich heritage, thes home where many apostles and prophets slept during the 30 years Jesse’s father was Bishop, was a blessing for Jesse’s following in “his father’s footsteps” and taking his family down to the farm where they knelt in humble prayer–dedicating their crops to their Heavenly Father and asking for His blessings upon them, upon the family and upon all Israel. And, like his father before him, he also gathered his little family together every night and morning to kneel around the big table in the dining room for family prayer.
Jesse and his family continued the beautiful friendship of the Bushmans and Hansens set up by their parents who were known as such ideal neighbors that the Bushmans never picked their currants that grew on the other side of their fence but gladly left them for the Hansens, and Grandma Hansen never gathered an egg her chickens laid on the other side of the fence, but left them for the Bushman children to gather.
Jesse’s family cooperated in all activities and each child was expected to do his or her part. The towns people could count on the Bushmans to have melons before anyone, and if others failed, the Bushmans still had melons. Jesse’s sons brought deep satisfaction to their father in later years by purchasing the Bushman acreage, digging deep wells for fresh salt-free water, and they still jointly farm this land and through the training of their father, still provide melons, cantaloupes, corn, etc., for Joseph City.
Jesse tried to prepare his family to meet the tests of life, counseling that “if there were no difficulties there would be no success.”
Jesse dedicated his whole life to his family, his church, his town and his dairy farm. He taught his children what his father had taught him–that living in Joseph City was a choice heritage because it was here that they had been “called” to come and settle and that this was a promised land to them and their descendants.
Jesse served in Joseph City Ward for nine years as a counselor in the M. I. A.; five years as counselor in Sunday School; three years as counselor in the Bishopric, and during those years the new Ward chapel was constructed. His good judgement and common sense (horse sense as he called it) were dependable and a reliable source in helping to solve the problems arising through the building program. He quietly, calmly and effectively performed his duties and led his family by saying, as he left for Priesthood, “I’ll see all of you at Sunday School,” and he always left early enough to assure being on time. He also served his community as President of Joseph City Irrigation Company, as President of Joseph City Producer’s Association and on the School Board District. In later years both he and his faithful mate spent two years as Snowflake Stake Missionaries. No one could have been more diligent nor given more freely of their time then they did as they honored this call.
Their life together was filled with both “sunshine and rain”–the “rain” of losing their namesakes, Melvin Jesse as a baby, and Elva Mae during her first year of school; but they drew from the beauties of our gospel plan and grew “taller” through these and other tests. “Sunshine” in seeing sons go on missions and serve their country, seeing their children marry in the Temple and serve their church as Bishops, Stake High Councilmen, Stake mission presidents, auxiliary presidents, and many other positions. And in due course of time grandsons followed in his footsteps and served on missions (two out now). Most of his grandchildren have gone to college. Jesse’s wise counsel has been a great guide for his family. One of his bits of wisdom was, “if you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.”
Jesse knew the reward of living the Word of Wisdom; his body was strong and he handled his farm and cattle until the time of his first heart attack. Doctors said that would have taken a normal person, but his body was so strong that it took quite a while to “wear” it out. Jesse died on March 20, 1956 in Tucson, Arizona at the home of his daughter, Zelda Turley, and was buried “back home” in the Joseph City Cemetery.
He is truly entitled to the peace that is now his. His congenial, jovial disposition and his unselfish and honest life of service is remembered by all who knew him. His love of the Gospel and undaunted faith stand as a “standard” to inspire his eight living children and their dear partners, his 45 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren to carry on –“Walking in His Footsteps.”