My name is Eugene Sears Hintze, the second son and child of Henry Herriman and Ethel Irene Sears Hintze. I was born on September 10, 1911, at 756 East 200 South, Salt Lake City, Utah, in the home that was built by my grandparents, Isaac and Sarah Jane Sears. The home was a two-story adobe building. I used to play in the pit from which clay was dug to make the adobes. This is one of the first recollections of my childhood.
The first house I remember living is was in Holladay, Utah, on 23rd East, about 4200 South. It was next to Aunt Nora, one of grandfather Hintze’s plural wives. I remember walking along the canal bank to meet father as he came home from work running a street car in Salt Lake City.
When I was five years old, we moved to 9th East, just south of 21st South. Father then worked as a delivery man for ZCMI Wholesale. He used to let me ride in the wagon with him. He delivered once up to the penitentiary in Sugar House. One of the guards playfully locked me in a cell, something I have never forgotten. While living here I learned to love Aunt Minnie, another plural wife. I used to like to spend time at her home. We lived in the Forest Dale Ward.
While we were living on 9th East, President Joseph F. Smith died. I do not remember him but remember my father talking about it because his former Mission President, Heber J. Grant, became the President of the Church. While there, I was quarantined with Scarlet Fever. (The only one in the family to get it.) They blocked off one room, put rags under doors and around windows, trying to prevent others from getting it. They made father stay completely away from the house if he was to continue going to work.
It was in this house that my mischievous nature reared its head. I can remember several occasions that I feel best not to relate, but there was one day my mother heard me crying but could not find me. We had tilt-out flour bins where mother had stored our toys. I had reached for something and had fallen in the bin and it closed with me inside. It was some time before they found me on my head.
From there we moved to Hinkley, Utah, on a farm where I turned six and started school. Uncle Roy and Aunt Flora Sears moved there with us. The farmed together and we lived in tents. The mud was so sticky when it rained we would have to carry the chickens into the coop, and after the mud dried, break the balls off their feet.
One time I was herding cows and could hear the wolves howling. Father came to see if I was alright and he came up behind me and playfully grabbed me, scaring me so much that I fainted. When I came to, I didn’t even know him, which scared him in return. This was during World War I, and I remember the rationing of food. We could have a cake once in a while if are didn’t use white flour for bread, but used corn meal instead. Mother kept powdered sugar in fruit jars. One time she emptied one bottle while frosting a cake, and when she reached for another it turned out to be Epsom salts (a laxative). I was the only one that ate it as I finished mine before mother got a taste. It was here that I got blood-poisoning so bad that I was delirious for a week.
The farming didn’t work out so Uncle Roy and Aunt Flora moved back to Sale Lake, and we moved to another farm in Hinkley as father went to work helping a widow, Sister Lee, farm her ground. While living here, we (the Primary children) sang for a very ill old man who raised up in bed and told us that he had seen the Prophet Joseph Smith and that he was a true Prophet of God. Shortly after the Armistice was signed in 1918. That day I saw my first car accident.
In December 1919, mother went to Salt Lake City to Grandma Sears’ home to await the birth of my brother Henry. We followed later on the train, bringing our belongings for the move back to Salt Lake. On account of a flu epidemic, a mask was required whenever you were in public. We wore masks for the trip, but we got the flu anyway. Dad, Harold, me, Wayne and Jane laid on the floor of Grandmother Hintze’s front room many days, not knowing whether Jan would live. I got a cowboy suit for Christmas and was so ill that the first time I wore it was when the grass was green outside. They put me on the porch for a short time and took my picture.
We moved to several places in Holladay. One day as we were having a family picnic in Liberty Park, a sightseeing bus pulled up close to us. A lady on the open bus called me over and asked me if I was a Mormon. When I answered “yes” she handed me a nickel and as I reached up for it, the lady by her put her hand on my forehead and said, “I don’t feel anything.” The first lady responded with “He’s probably too young.” It was years later before I realized she was feeling to see if I had horns. It was a popular belief in those days that the Mormons had horns.
Mother tells of the time she was bathing me, and turned to do something else for a minute. When she turned back, I was gone and by the time she caught me, I was several blocks from home in my birthday suit. She also tells of the time she had bathed me and dressed me in my Sunday best and when she returned minutes later I sat there in the tub, clothes and all.
Before I was five, or able to read, I went outside and got the paper and pre-tending to read, entered the house saying, “That old Peterson is dead.” I think my mother felt that I had been sent to keep her life from becoming dull.
On my 8th birthday I was baptized by my father in the canal. I changed clothes for the occasion in Bishop Larsen’s barn. My folks gave me my first watch on that birthday, and Ingersol pocket watch. The following summer, father got a summer job as water master in Metropolis, Nevada. It was here that he was furnished a Model T Ford pickup for transportation, and it was in this car that I learned to drive. I would drive it along the ditch bank while he regulated the water.
We returned to Salt Lake that winter and in the spring we moved to Elberta, Utah, living in a sort of prefab house and barn. Dad worked on an 80-acre farm for W. L. Hansen. Our school was a one-room schoolhouse with seven grades. My first teacher was Mae Blues. She was my first contact with a non-Mormon. Most of the people in Elberta at that time were non-Mormons. There were no LDS services there even though there were a few families who belonged to the Church. When father made an effort to establish a branch there, the resentful feelings were very strong. It was settled by farmers from the Midwest who had been promised that no Mormons would be allowed to live in the valley. He faced many persecutions because of his efforts.
The first independent branch was formed with Oliver A. Penrod as Branch President, and dad as first counselor. After more Saints moved in, father be-came the first Bishop of the Elberta Ward. It was here in Elberta that I was ordained a deacon, teacher, priest and elder by my father.
I went to school in the one-room schoolhouse for three years, then I helped haul in a two-room schoolhouse from Meseta (an abandoned settlement on the west side of Utah Lake.) We then had two teachers and felt like we were really coming up in the world. For the 9th and 10th grades I went to Goshen by bus. I walked one and one-half miles to catch a bus, then rode about 5 miles to school.
In 1922(?), our house in Elberta burned to the ground. This was in August and mother was in Salt Lake with Jane, who had a bad infection. Dad had just purchased his first car, a used Model T Ford with isonglass windows and roll-up snap on sides. Harold and I had worked all summer and sent money with Dad to Salt Lake to buy our new school clothes. We tried them on that night and hung them in the closet. As Dad and Harold left for work the next morning, I was given orders to watch the children that they didn’t get in the new car, and to do several chores around the yard. As I left for the field to get the horses, the boys (Henry, Alan & Keith) said, “We’ll play in the house with our toys.”
I said “No, go play in the car.” They didn’t need coaxing. As I started for the field, I turned and looked back and the top of the house was in flames. Before I could reach the house, it was destroyed. We lost all we had except the tent and some bedding that we older boys had been sleeping in.
After finishing school at Goshen, Utah, I went to Salt Lake and stayed with my Uncles Glen, Les and Aunt Mary Hintze. With my Uncle Glen, I attended Granite High School for the 11th and 12th grades, graduating in 1930. The year I was a mighty senior, and football player, my future companion was attending the Granite Jr. High, a 7th grader. If anyone had told me that at that time, they would have received a sock in the eye.
After graduation, I returned to Elberta and went to work in the mines in Eureka. The depression was on and I worked at odd jobs, besides helping father on the farm. In the fall of 1933, I went with Sylvan Greenhalgh and my brother, Wayne, to Idaho to help harvest the potato crop. They went home after the potatoes were harvested, but because Herbert Harker had fallen from his haystack and been injured, I remained with him and for my room and board did his chores for the winter. In the spring of 1934, I returned to Elberta for a while, then I was sent back to Salt Lake to live with my widowed Aunt Edna Brighton to take care of her place. While there I went on a bus temple excursion to Manti, Utah and met my future in-laws. Soon they introduced me to their daughter, Jennie Arthema Tolman, and we started dating. She was several years my junior and it was sometime before I really became interested in our relationship being permanent. While I was thus debating with myself, she grew up, and we decided we belonged to each other. I gave her an engagement ring on July 3, 1937, and we were to be married on September 3rd. As soon as I made this move, my parents, who had wanted for several years to send me on a mission, decided that, even though finances were still a stumbling block, if they were going to get me on a mission it had to be done immediately. I had always desired to go, so the wedding was postponed and I left on my mission to the North Central States the following October. My father was still out of work but relied on the Lord’s help. He soon got a job as night watchman for Dinwoody Furniture while I was in the Mission Home. He held that job until right after I returned, when they put in an automatic burglar alarm. I never wanted for anything the two years I was in the field.
I arrived in Minneapolis Minnesota and President David A. Broadbent sent me to the North Minnesota District to work under Ivan R. Richardson, who was District President. My first companion was Ivan C. Nelson at Ascow, Minnesota. He had only a month left of his mission, so he traveled a lot visiting people he had met and worked with. While with him, we had a powerful manifestation of the effects of prayer. There was a family of members who were having marital problems and the husband had left his family and was going to leave the Church also. Elder Nelson and I stayed for a couple of days to help the family. The husband returned home late at night and finding us there, made very violent threats against us. We decided not to stay longer and just before leaving we knelt in prayer. As we were kneeling in our room, the husband burst in on us. He quickly closed the door and left. When we finished our prayers, we gathered our things and left the house. As we were leaving the yard, the husband came to us crying and begged our forgiveness.
I next was sent to Stillwater, Minnesota with Avard B. Hall as my companion. While there, we roomed in a Catholic home and boarded at a rest home. While there, I participated in a miraculous healing. My next assignment was Crosby, Minnesota, as a Senior Elder with Javens Factor. We held home Sunday School with the Lamphier family. We traveled several miles to Aiken and held Relief Society with four sisters, and then on to Palisade for meetings with the Spencer and Meyer families. I spent most of the summer there and in the fall was called into the mission home to help rewrite the Church records of the Manitoba District. It took me sometime to teach the branch clerk the new bookkeeping method, and also to the Bergland, Ontario branch clerk. I had to travel all over the area and contact members who were not in one of those branches. I had as companions, Scott B. Smith, Harold Bushman, and Paul Lyon.
I was released in October 1939 and come home via Detroit, Michigan, where I picked up a new car my brother, Wayne, had purchased.
Gene returned home just at beet thinning time, and he soon found out that each of his brothers could out-work him, no matter how hard he tried. He was home for several weeks from his mission before gathering the courage to visit the girl he left at home. (Some difficulties had developed between them while he was on his mission.) They soon patched up their misunderstandings and started the courtship again. They were married May 29, 1940 in the Salt Lake Temple. This was the beginning of a wonderful life for two special sweethearts. The honeymoon was spent in Nephi Canyon.
They first lived on the corner of 48th South and Redwood road, where they operated a lunch stand and service station. With a group of returned missionaries they gathered each week for a study group. They would take programs around to many wards, and formed a very close friendship that lasted over the years.
While in the mission field, Gene made a real impression on the Frank Spencer family in Minnesota. He baptized two of the boys (Glen and Bob). Glen lived in Salt Lake and raised a lovely family, strong in the Church. Bob has done the same in Ogden, and three of their sisters have been strong in the Church also.
Eugene passed away June 23, 1978, and was buried June 26th in the Hurricane City Cemetery. He is dearly loved by his family and many friends, and will ever be remembered as a good, fun, life-loving friend.