The following story came about when Wes Potter, who knows how much I love history, paid me a visit and gave me a program that is 102 years old. Many thanks to Wes for this treasure.
What were the citizens of Bingham County doing Tuesday evening at 8:30 p.m., September 18, 1917? They had gathered at the high school auditorium to hear a patriotic program.
It was entitled “TESTIMONIAL FOR THE BINGHAM COUNTY SOLDIER BOYS”.
James Duckworth was the chairman of the of program and J.H., Clayton was the musical director.
The program included: Song, “ Star Spangled Banner” ; a Ladies chorus, singing “Sailing” under the direction of Mrs. H. G. Williams; an address by Prof. W.D. Vincent; a solo “A Flag Without a Stain” by R. H. Clayson; an address given by J.H. Anderson; a solo, “Your Flag and My Flag” by Mrs. Aller and “A Living Flag” under the direction of Mrs. James Duckworth.” The closing song was “America” and the benediction was offered by Rev. Cheney.
LIST OF MEN WHO ENLISTED FROM BINGHAM COUNTY
HYRUM E. ANDERSON
JOHN ALBERT ANDERSON
GLENN DALE BETZ
EARVINE O. BUTTCANE
CARL SIXETH CARLSON
JAMES M. HARRIS
MARTIN BRYAN HOWARD
ARNOLD OLEN JENSEN
LESLIE M. NIELSEN
BERT F. PENNINGTON
VERNON DEE PETERSON
HARVEY ABRAM RICE
RONALD ALVIN ROBBINS
EARL OLIVER SAGE
LEWIS S. SIMONS
CARL LEROY SABIN
There were 42 names of men from Bingham County ordered to report for military duty, plus five names listed as alternates. Also listed on the program was the following comment: “The above is only a partial list of the names of the boys in whose honor this testimonial is given. The committee regrets that it has been found impossible to receive a complete list.”
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James Duckworth has a place in our county history. Blackfoot’s first stake president for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Duckworth presided over the $78,000 construction of what is the present-day Hawker Funeral Home. It is interesting when he received his calling. He was in the barber shop when a general authority from the church, asked him to step outside. He was appointed in a surrey in the front of a barber shop, given a position he held for nearly 30 years — July 13, 1907 to March 24, 1937.
The Story of James C. Duckworth was written by his daughter Muriel Atwood for Idaho’s 100th birthday, found in the book, “Bingham County History, Written and compiled by the People of Bingham County, Commemorating the State’s 100th Birthday, 1890-1990.”
Muriel’s story is as follows.
“James lived the first fourteen years of his life in Preston, England, where he was born. He was the eldest of a family of four. When he was eight years old, his father and mother were divorced.
“The children lived with the mother. They immigrated to the United States where Mrs. Duckworth married a well-to-do man, Beardshall of Camp Floyd. James could not get along with his stepfather, so with his mother’s consent , left home. He walked beside a wagon to keep warm enroute to Salt Lake City from Taylorsville. A herd of sheep being driven, the city lad was frightened of the sheep, as he had never seen sheep. He thought they would bite him.
“William Henry Haigh, sheep raiser, hired James to care for his sheep. Another herder was Peter G. Johnston, and he and James became good friends. The problem of choosing an occupation faced James. The influential guidance Haigh gave, ‘There is good money in sheep,’ led Duckworth and Johnston to pool their savings — $500 each and buy sheep. They bought 400 ewes at $2.50 per head and launched their own enterprise. Duckworth was not enthusiastic, but a life-long partnership followed. The business grew rapidly and after five years, they were secure enough to warrant expansion.
“Peter G. Johnston met, through James, Alice Duckworth. She was infatuated at the time with a man that James did not approve. James gave Johnston some assistance and he [Johnston] married Alice. James married Ellizabeth Hansen, a relative of Johnstons, September 22, 1892, in the Manti Temple. James and Elizabeth set up housekeeping, and after a year, James received a mission call to England. During the 12 ½ years after their marriage, he spent 8 ½ years in missionary work.
“During his absence from the business, Peter had moved the sheep business to Blackfoot. At the end of shearing, he and Peter were in need of a barber’s service and went to Blackfoot in sheepman’s clothes. They sat waiting when someone entered to inform James his presence was needed outside. It was Saturday July 13, 1907, stake conference time in Blackfoot.
“Outside, he was met by President Francis M. Lyman in a surrey. He invited James aboard and then started to drive. ‘James are you ready for another mission?’ Never had he been so astonished. ‘We want you to preside over the Blackfoot Stake,’ President Lyman said.
“James had no dress clothes in Blackfoot. The only alternative was to resort to borrowing. Peter, although a larger man than James, offered his trousers, July 14, 1907. He met people of the stake and was set apart as their President, in a borrowed pair of pants, too large for him. He served until March 21, 1937.
“Having been denied the privilege of having children, James and Elizabeth adopted, raised, and educated four children: Roxie, Muriel, Rex and James.
“James’ financial pursuits paid dividends during his years of church labors. During the five-year period after he returned from the Australian mission, his business had doubled in size. He donated $1,000 to the LDS University reference library. When asked to donate $1,000 to build Blackfoot’s tabernacle, he donated $2,000, saying ‘If a man compel you to go with him a mile go with him twain.’ He also gave $200 a year to his father.
“Coincidence brought the father and son together. After the divorce the father went away. For years the family knew nothing of his whereabouts. A letter from his father finally reaches James. He was in New Zealand. At the end of James’ Australian mission, James went and visited him and his second wife.
“When he and Peter sold their sheep business, his motive was to get more freedom to serve in the church.” Muriel said, “He learned to like the sheep, but he loved his religion.”
NOTE: On February 4, 1975 the tabernacle ownership was transferred to Bingham County. One and one-half story brick pilasters frame the oxeye window and terminate with Georgian scroll finials that connect the top windows : (Idaho State Historical Society).
1995 - Downstairs - U of I Extension Offices
Bingham County Historical Society
Upstairs — Civic Auditorium
Thanks to Perry Hawker for preserving the historical building that was built in 1920.