|Cleveland Wright Brown|
M E N U
|Cleveland Wright Brown was born in the samll picturesque town of Alpine, Utah on March 7, 1889. Except for a brief stay in Oregon and some time as a student in Salt Lake City, he lived in Alpine until he married and moved to Provo, where he spent the remainder of his life.
Cleve, who was number eight of the eleven children of Samuel and Jennette Brown, was only ten when his father died. He learned early that hard work was part of farming. But, he also found time for other diversions and play with his brothers, sisters and friends. He never lacked companionship until he won a scholarship to the University of Utah at the completion of his normal eighth grade schooling in the Alpine and American Fork schools. He received a diploma from the Grammar Department in the Utah County Public Schools in May 1905. A graduation picture of the Alpine School class of 1905 shows him dressed very formally in white shirt, tie and dark suit. Judging by the custom practiced with Cleve's own children later, this was probably the one suit owned by the family and was likely used by several of his brothers in their graduation pictures.
In Salt Lake City Cleve lived in a boarding house where his landlady conserved her resources by making him lunches consisting of lard sandwiches. Cleve felt very out of place at the University with no funds and very limited wardrobe. He was sometimes able to catch rides to Alpine on weekends, but often walked all the way from the University to Alpine. From his description of University life to his children it is clear these were not happy days. Though he was very intelligent and had a life long interest in learning, he left the University without graduating. Whether this was caused by a shortage of funds, or from feeling left out of the normal University social life by "rich" kids from Salt Lake City is not entirely clear. One thing apparent from his later statements is that he had a marked resentment for Salt Lake City. He was heard to say on several occasions that the Salt Lakers would never let anything of value get south of the point of the mountain. It is unfortunate that he did not live long enough to see the massive investment made by the Church in Brigham Young University in Provo.
Following his University days Cleve worked at a number of odd jobs and assisted on the farm. In 1911 he went to Baker, Oregon in search of work, but didn't stay long.
Early in 1912 Cleve was back in Alpine running the family farm. It was at this time that he met a Provo girl, Wilmirth Hortense Brown. Wilmirth was visiting there with her brother Reed and his wife Nettie. They introduced her to Cleve. He began courting Wilmirth by trips to Provo on horseback or by train from American Fork, and by letters. Wilmirth saved his letters which began in March and continued on a regular and frequent basis through early December. The were engaged in June and married on December 11, 1912. The letters reveal a developing love that lasted throughout their forty three years of married life until his death in 1956. They also indicated that Cleve had great concern for the feelings of Wilmirth's widowed mother and usually he included a sentence or two sending his regards to her. Money was clearly a big problem for the small town farmer and in early October he wrote: "You say not to worry about the money. That is all right, but we will need a few things to start out with, or else I'll have to leave you and go off to work. What is the smallest number of things we will have to have?
By the end of October finances were getting worse and he wrote: "... it is not long until the 11th of December and I've got nothing yet to get married on. Maybe we had better put it off for awhile for I don't want to do it and have nothing to live on. What do you think about it?" Wilmirth's letters to Cleve were never saved and we don't know her exact answer, but the message was clear. Go ahead with the plans!
Brown, age 17