Excerpts from the Autobiography of Fay Wray

On the Other Hand: A Life Story

By Fay Wray

New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 1989


pages 6-7

MY PARENTS met in Salt Lake City. My mother had been born there in 1871, one of fourteen children. I know more of my grandfather than I do of my grandmother because he had the kindness to write his autobiography. He was orphaned at the age of eleven, in Missouri, apprenticed to to a saddle maker until he was seventeen, when he volunteered to fight in the war with Mexico. There he learned to read and write Spanish and became fond of the Mexican people.

After the war, enroute to California with a large trading company, the hammer of his pistol caught on the edge of his holster, causing the gun to go off: "The ball ranged downward, entering the groin and thigh, passing through some fourteen inches of flesh." The company expected that the youth would die and must, therefore, be abandoned. But the company guide thought that if the youth was to be left behind, he should at least be abandoned to the possible care of nearby Indians. He planned to fetch them. My grandfather wrote: "I can never forget their looks of kindness. They offered to take me and try to cure me." The company, thus challenged, made a frame to carry the wounded boy on the back of a mule for the remaining fifteen day's journey into Salt Lake Valley. "I felt almost disappointed not to go with the Indians for my heart was melted toward them and I felt as though I could always be their friend and trust them." In Salt Lake City, Mormons nurtured him to recovery and inspired him to join the church and forego continuing on to California.

In 1852, he married Miss Emily Colton, whom he would never cease loving. She appreciated his view of the Indians and supported his willingness to befriend them and his efforts to obtain fair treatment for them. She loved her husband, Daniel Webster Jones, too much to tolerate the recommendation of the church that he take a second wife. The devoted pair produced fourteen children. My mother was their tenth.

She was fourteen when her mother died at the age of forty during a storm. My mother's responsibilities as "mother" to the younger ones and housekeeper for her father increased her antagonism to the church. She had seen her mother's anguish at the thought of a polygamous household. Of all the children, she was the one who rebelled.

She had an impudent kind of beauty -- a retroussé nose, gray-green eyes, very fair skin, and an abundance of Titian-red hair. She liked to recall for her children the beauty of her youthful figure. She attended the University of Utah (then Deseret University) and earned credentials to become a schoolteacher. She assisted her father in arranging the manuscript of his book Forty Years among the Indians (1890).


page 180

[My mother] remembered . . . her exhilaration in having traveled with her father to Washington, D.C., and to San Francisco to the World's Fair.

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