Links to Biographies
On July 4, 1876 President Ulysses S. Grant officially opened the United States Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. With the sound of cannons, fireworks and a choir singing the Hallelujah Chorus, the nation began its celebration of one hundred years as an independent country. On this same day in Ogden, Territory of Utah, Lucetta Stratford Penrose gave birth to her sixteenth child, whom she named Edwin Centennius Penrose. For the next few years the young Edwin thought the fireworks on the 4th were in celebration of his own birthday.
At the time of Edwin’s birth, Lucetta was forty-one and her husband, Charles, forty-four. They had been married for twenty-one years. Lucetta feared that her newborn child might not live--he was so frail that she carried him around on a pillow during the first few months of his life. Ten of Lucetta’s fifteen children had died within a few weeks of birth—three babies born 1872-4 had not survived—so Lucetta may have resigned herself to the loss of this frail child named after her brother, Edwin Stratford.
Charles William Penrose, Edwin’s father, had been the editor of the Ogden Junction for six years. He had been elected to the city council of this rapidly growing town—growth fueled by the driving of the Golden Spike into the last stretch of Union Pacific Railway at nearby Promontory Point on May 10, 1869. Not long after Edwin’s birth Brigham Young needed a new assistant editor for the Mormon church-owned Deseret News, so he asked Charles to move to Salt Lake City to join the newspaper’s staff. Charles accepted the offer and moved his two wives and families to Salt Lake in 1877.
Charles and Lucetta had converted to the Mormon Church in England and immigrated to Utah in 1861 together with the Stratford family. In 1863 Charles married a second wife, Louise Elizabeth Lusty, a recently arrived English convert. When Edwin was born he had five older siblings ranging from Ernest, aged eighteen, to George, aged four. In between the two boys were three teenage siblings, Jessie, Kate and Alice. Louise Elizabeth, “Aunt Lizzie” to Lucetta’s children, mothered another five half-siblings, including a boy, Frank William Penrose, six months older than the new baby.
Lucetta gave birth to two more children. The first boy died, but the youngest, Lucile, born three and a half years after Edwin, survived. By the time Edwin was ten Aunt Lizzie would give birth to another five children. When the parents’ childbearing was over he would have fourteen living siblings and half-siblings.
Edwin soon became known as Eddie to friends and family. His grandmother, Eliza Stratford, lived with Uncle Edwin in Cache County, where four aunts, another uncle and more than a dozen cousins also resided. His grandfather, George Stratford, had died in Nebraska on the trip west. Eddie’s grandmother Matilda Penrose and her four daughters did not join the church and continued to live in London, England. His grandfather Penrose died when Charles was a teenager. Eddie never met this side of the family. The complete stories of Charles, Lucetta, Lizzie and other family members can be found under their own names on this site.
Despite many family responsibilities, Eddie’s energetic parents lived busy lives. Charles soon became editor-in-chief of the Deseret News, was elected to the Utah Territorial Legislature, and served the Mormon Church as a member of the Salt Lake Stake Presidency. He was a popular public speaker and had a speaking engagement nearly every Sunday. He and Lucetta loved the theater and attended whenever they could.
In addition to raising her children Lucetta did sewing, millinery work and cared for a productive garden. Each of the wives lived in her own home, so Charles alternated stays with each family. The early years of sacrifice to establish themselves in Utah appeared to be at an end.
On Eddie’s fourth birthday Lucetta had stayed at home with her two younger children while the rest of the family went to the park to celebrate the holiday. Baby Lucile was just six months old. Lucetta fell and hurt her spine—a devastating injury. Although surgery helped her recover somewhat, she could no longer resume her active life. She remained wheelchair-bound the rest of her life.
Eddie must have been frightened and confused by the changes in the family routine. His older sisters Jessie and Kate were not married, but Alice married just a few days after Lucetta’s fall. Lucetta’s sudden incapacity must have stressed the family, yet another crisis made family life more difficult. Mormon Utah and the Federal government were in a conflict over the Mormon practice of polygamy. The conflict threatened to tear apart families and did not end until the church bowed before extreme anti-polygamy measures taken by the government. As a newspaper editor, Charles was in the thick of the battle.
Charles was at risk for arrest and prosecution under the law. Prominent Mormons occupied cells in the Utah Territorial Penitentiary as federal judges began imposing sentences for convictions of unlawful cohabitation. Several top church leaders went into hiding to avoid prosecution.
Edwin attended school through the fourth grade. He did continue his education on his own—he loved to read, as did both parents. While we don’t know why he didn’t stay in school, the political involvements of his father may have contributed to his leaving.
In 1884 two Mormon missionaries had been shot and killed in an attack on church members in Cane Creek, Tennessee. Charles was one of the speakers at the funeral held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle for Elders William S. Berry and John H. Gibbs. (Charles and John Gibbs had served an earlier mission together in England.) Although he was only eight years old, Edwin may have attended the funeral because the two deaths made an impression on him. He remembered the names of the missionaries who died because years later, as a missionary himself in the Southern States, he would meet the son of William Berry.
In late 1884 US Marshal E. A. Ireland arrived at Charles’ office at the Deseret News with a sworn warrant for his arrest. By the time the Marshal began his search, Charles was on a train bound for the East Coast to carry out a mission on behalf of church leaders. He was to travel to Washington, DC and the eastern states to lobby against passage of the Edmunds-Tucker Act. Marshal Ireland followed Eddie’s father to the East, but despite some close calls, Charles managed to evade him. Still, Ireland had not given up the chase and Charles remained in danger of capture, so the church sent word to him that he was to leave to serve as a missionary in Great Britain immediately.
Besides having to leave without saying a proper goodbye to his family, Charles found out that while he was gone the church had cut had cut the allowance for his two families in half, to seven dollars a week per family. This was depressing news.
Young Eddie must have been taught, as were other children in polygamous families, that he was to keep silent when friendly strangers or even friends posed questions about his father. Indeed, Eddie and the younger children may not have been given an explanation for his father’s sudden departure from Salt Lake. If this child was not already alarmed about the safety of his family, what followed next would be enough to terrify even the bravest eight-year old boy.
Leaving his wives and families on their own, Charles traveled safely to London. Not until the first letters from Utah reached him did he learn that Lucetta and his children, including Eddie, had been called to testify before the grand jury. Lucetta refused to testify against her husband, but her children were “prompted” to give the necessary evidence against their father. In writing a history of these events, Edward Tullidge expressed it another way: “the evidence desired was extorted from the children.”
Imagine a young boy in court at the side of his wheelchair-bound mother being called to give sworn testimony about his absent and beloved father before a United States judge.
In late October 1885, still at risk for arrest, Charles returned to the US, but stayed out of sight and used a fake name. While remaining undercover, he wrote editorials for the Deseret News. In December of 1889 he successfully negotiated with President Cleveland and obtained a pardon for himself and George Q. Cannon. For the first time in years he was able to appear in public as a free man under his own name. He was, however, still at risk for arrest because he had married a third wife, Romania Bunnell Pratt, a prominent doctor and eye surgeon, in 1886. This marriage had to be kept quiet because it was not covered by the pardon.
In the fall of 1890 Charles was called as an expert witness on Mormon theology in a case before District Court Judge Thomas J. Anderson. Under cross-examination he was asked questions about his marital relationships, which he refused to answer because they had no bearing on the subject of his testimony. The judge did not agree and sent him to the Utah Penitentiary until Charles agreed to testify. Five days later it was the judge who changed his mind and Charles’ incarceration ended. Eddie and the rest of the family must have been proud of their father, yet relieved that he was released.
There are many accounts of life in Utah during the eventful years before polygamy was officially renounced in 1890 and Utah admitted to the Union in 1896. Although we don’t know much about Eddie’s young life, we do know that anti-polygamy campaign disturbed his family life during this period. With his parents distracted by events around them, Eddie may have escaped supervision because one of his grandchildren does recall being told that he was wild as a youth. In his 1896 diary Charles mentioned getting 19-year old Edwin a job at Mammoth with S. F. Brown, sister Kate’s husband, and getting him fare to travel there on Rio Grande Western. (April 14 1896.)
As he entered his twenties, Eddie’s older brother and sisters were now married with several children and approaching middle age themselves. His parents were grandparents many times over. Sometime in January 1897 Eddie became Elder Penrose, a missionary in the southeastern United States.
Malaria, Methodists and Josephites
In 1897 the Church authorities asked Charles to write a series of missionary tracts, Rays of Living Light. Once Edwin arrived in the Southern States Mission he found that he needed a good supply of these very tracts. His letters to his parents show that Edwin (now calling himself Ed) respected and admired his energetic father.
Ed’s letters also demonstrate his writing talent, sense of humor, and his interest in politics. In 1898 the United States was about to embark on the Spanish-American War, which would result in the acquisition of new territory in the Philippine Islands and Cuba. The battleship Maine had blown up in the harbor at Havana, Cuba on February 15. Ed’s letters begin in March 1898 and continue until his release in March of 1899.
Although his letters include many light-hearted accounts of his own experiences as well as jokes and humor, he also had serious moments. As his mission progressed and Ed suffered with repeated bouts of illness as well as other physical ailments; his letters show that the experiences matured him.
The first letter we have, dated March 1898, Edwin wrote from Miller Station, Mississippi, thanking his father for the tracts, Rays of Living Light, (Ed refers to this tract as “Rays.”) that had arrived. Ed noted that the government was sending troops to Atlanta and other southern ports. Ed said he’d like to have a job on one of the warships to “knock daylights out of those half-breed dagos.” On April 19 Congress declared Cuba to be a free and independent state, which amounted to a declaration of war on Spain. Ed wrote that if he were home he would probably imbibe the spirit of war and want to go to the front. (Earlier letters from 1897 apparently have been lost.)
April 6th Ed wrote, “Having just taken a most refreshing bath I feel much better. Last night I retired with a cathartic pill, 9 grains of quinine and two hot lemonades ‘neath my belt; to say nothing of a chunk of alum in my mouth, and two toes tied up with cranberry ‘sauce.’” (All quotes from letters are as Ed wrote them, spelling and punctuation not changed.) Sometime during his stay in Lewisburg, Mississippi, Ed had been bitten by a mosquito infected with malaria, a disease that caused shaking chills, high fever, sweating, and often fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and muscle or join pains. The fever may come and go every few days and can cause problems for many years. (Church leader J. Golden Kimball was one of many who contracted malaria years earlier in the same mission. He too suffered for many years with recurring symptoms.)
In this same letter Ed goes on to comment on news about his brother. “I am glad to hear that George is doing better and hope that he will continue doing better. It’s a testimony of no small weight to me every time I think of the contrast of my former life and now. While I realized I am not as good as I should be I hope to keep on the road of improvement. Glad to hear of you all being well and I hope you will stay that way. I will strive to profit by your counsel and please make mention of Tud and I in your prayers.” (“Tud” was his companion, Elder Tuddenham.)
A few weeks later he told his parents that he “remembered how helpless I was 15 months ago,” and that he has changed. “Say father and mother you won’t know your boy when he returns. I’ve learned to control myself almost perfectly. I can keep cool when the ‘enemy’ is snorting like an engine going up a steep grade. And thanks to God I am learning to ‘bless them which persecute me’ and’ love my enemy’s.’” (April 18.)
Later in April Ed writes about his friends, the Lewis family—husband, wife and eight children—who have become his friends and who Elder Penrose hops will soon join the Church. He explains that he is now a “training Elder” so will soon get a new companion “Fresh fish(ers)” to replace Elder Tuddenham. (April 21) Ed’s affection for the Lewis family was returned to him. Several letters were to deal with the family’s problems.
Ed shared his interest in political events with his father. “War is about all you can hear now and I for one am sick of it. I wish they would get to fighting or forever shut up. If we do fight I’ll wager a penny that Spain will wish she had loaded poor Columbus with chains before he discovered this country. I don’t want war if it can be avoided with honor, but honor can never be expressed in dollars, neither can liberty be measured by scales as a yardstick. McKinlay is too tame. This country is playing the bully act it seems to me. The brawling in the House the other day senseless and incoherent is an indication of the kind of long-eared asses we have at Washington. Like similar disgraceful exhibitions in England, France and Germany, it proves that in the most highly civilized countries manners are a veneer and not a very thick veneer either.” (Ed refers to 25th president William McKinley, elected in 1897.)
On June 1st Ed wrote his parents that he had been very sick in late May with “dumb chills” and fever. Fortunately good friends George Smith and his wife took him into their home and cared for him by doping him with fever medicine and quinine. Not only that, they paid the doctor’s bill for him. Besides chills and fever he had “hypercatharsis.” “Sad, isn’t it?” he commented. Although his letters gave a humorous account of his suffering with fever and complications, Ed’s parents became alarmed. He apologized to them for creating worry, but as a result of the malaria Ed suffered poor health the rest of his life.
After one paragraph about his sickness, Elder Penrose described the struggle with the local Methodists who were about to try his friend Lewis in a church court. Despite the efforts of a local “long-eared yap who signs himself M.D. (mad dog)” Wilkins to keep the missionary out of the way, Ed was hoping to defend Lewis.
On June 17th Ed wrote that he now weighed 111 pounds with a pants size 32-32. He needed a new hat and a pair of pants. (He was 5’6” tall—the same height as his father.) He said he must rest and take some kind of a tonic, and could his parents recommend anything? They soon sent him a package containing supplies and some Mormon Tea. Later he reported that the Lewises and the Lauderdale family were taking good care of him. Yet on June 25th he reported that he was sick again, although he was soon all right again.
Mission President Ben E. Rich relived Elder Penrose from daily missionary work by calling him to the position of Superintendent of Sunday Schools. Ed would continue traveling “wherever I care to go in Miss or Ala.”
Because the missionaries mostly traveled by foot, Ed suffered from corns and rheumatism. Summers were too hot and humid, winters were cold and his suits and shoes weren’t enough to keep him warm. “The weather ‘kold’ and miserable today, hot and sultry yesterday. Frizzle and fry and shiver!” He asked for $2.00 for a new pair of shoes, and mentioned that he was dyeing his suit so that he could continue to use it.
Charles knew well the aching feet, shabby clothes, severe weather and lack of funds that the missionaries suffered. Had his father let Ed read his own diaries recounting the harsh conditions he lived with while serving his first ten-year mission in England? Perhaps he lacked a certain amount of sympathy for his son. Ed wanted his father’s approval, but Charles’s could have told a few stories to equal his son’s.
Apparently Ed was a pretty good orator. He tells of preaching to the Methodists and debating the local minister. He had a number of confrontations with the “Josephite” preachers. (The Josephites were followers of Joseph Smith who had rejected Brigham Young and polygamy to stay in Nauvoo with Emma Smith and her children.)
On July 9th Ed apologized to his family for creating alarm and said he was doing better, the packages had arrived, and he was resting with some local members. This package included the special tea from Utah. “Since the arrival of the sage I have had considerable fun. As you all know, wild sage tea hasn’t the most delicious taste in the world and there was a hot time in the old town last night. I gave ‘em all a large dose of ‘Mormon tea.’ I believe it will fix me up OK.” Mormon tea (or Brigham tea) was made from one of several species of ephedra and was used for medicinal purposes by the early Utah settlers.
Again on July 25th he wrote: “I believe I am gaining in weight, and verily I aught to, for I have undergone the pleasant experience of Chills and fever succeeded by quinine, calomel, oil, salts, miscellaneous pills and other delicious compounds!” He soon weighed 130 pounds.
Back in Salt Lake a young man named Ted was courting Ed’s younger sister, Lucile, whom he sometimes called Cille, or Slivers. Ed definitely did not approve of Ted. He cautioned his father that while “Brown” would “sorter do,” he drew the line at Ted. Apparently the “Brown” was the Frank Brown that Lucile eventually married. Ed mentioned Lucile frequently. His letters also showed that he was close to his Uncle Edwin and brothers Frank and George.
Despite his new job as head of the Sunday Schools, Ed was frequently unwell, especially in the cold and humid winter months. “I am very thankful to my father and mother and my God for the grand privileges I have enjoyed. If I do appreciate your goodness I will show it in the future by taking a course in life acceptable in the sight of my Heavenly Father, which I am determined to do. My mission seems to be a little harder now it is drawing to a close and it is a question whether or not I could stay another year. I am not discouraged at all. I am very thoughtful for my mission, only I am not well, (nor sick) and don’t expect to be in this country. My fever in May, June and July has left its effects.” (October 16.)
In November Ed learned that Utah Democrat B. H. Roberts had been elected to the House of Representatives. He asked his father if there would be any trouble over the “seating.” B. H. was a polygamist (his third wife Dr. Margaret Shipp gave birth to twins during the election) and a member of the L.D.S. Council of Seventy, the governing body just below the twelve apostles. Later in November Ed wrote that the “howl” over Roberts election had reached Mississippi and again he hoped that Roberts would be seated okay.
He also commented on the news that Charles would resume his position as Editor of the Deseret News, enquiring casually, “By the by, wonder if I couldn’t get a job on the “News” when I return?”
Ed and his companions enjoyed a wonderful Christmas dinner. “Sunday was a beautiful day in every sense of the word. And such a dinner! We had turkey with dressing (which I carved) sausage, nice fresh ham, ‘fry’ and ‘sauce,’ apple jelly, peaches, blackberry jam, six (6) kinds of cake, and pie ‘till you couldn’t rest,’ and fresh apples, oranges, and candy. Brother Oglesby has a daughter who is the finest cook ‘in seven counties.’”
In January 1899 Ed reported that a wolf in the shape of a Josephite was threatening the Saints in Tallahatchie County. The mission president sent Elder Penrose to defend the flock. Ed knew he had to be well prepared and was sure he had enough books. One question remained to be answered: “Can it be proven that the Josephites ever advocated or accepted the doctrine of polygamy?”
Unfortunately for Ed—at least he claimed to be disappointed—the Josephite left town before the Elder arrived. He did stay long enough to inject his “pizen” and stir up the flock, but Ed though he could handle the situation.
He described the situation to his father:
Blood atonement” stories, interspersed with racy pabulum and the “dead issue” of Polygamy are the cudgels used by the emissary of Josephism. The preacher told Elder Tolman that he (Josephite) could prove from the Bible that our Temples are a “fake.” He claimed that we had changed the Doc. & Cov. to suit ourselves, and that Prest. Woodruff testified in court that Brigham Young substituted the revelation on Plurality of Wives in the place of a revelation given through the prophet Joseph. What do you think of that?
Of course, there is no use in haggling over technicalities, but I should like very much to get hold of some of the alleged “proof.” I have searched the Bible in vain for some of the “fake Temple” doctrine. If Hosea 8:14 has any bearing whatever on the L.D.S. it is beyond my ability to comprehend it. If you can give me any information on the above points I will be glad to get it. Josephites are very cunning. They abstain from the use of coffee, etc and testify that they “know” we are without authority.
Can it be proven that the prophet Joseph practiced polygamy?
Ed suffered with recurring bouts of ill health the rest of his missionary days, although he reassured father and mother that he was doing all right with frequent rests. As the mission continued with no set release date in sight, Ed worried whether he could endure much longer. He assured his family that he could do whatever he was called to do, but the frequent travels, long walks, and bad weather took their toll on him. He didn’t want to ask for release, especially not on account of ill health, which he thought would reflect poorly on him. (He also sent photos of the missionaries to his parents, but we don’t have them.)
February 2nd Ed reported that he had been awed to grasp the hand of Elder Berry, his new companion and the son of William S. Berry who had been attacked and murdered by an anti-Mormon mob in Tennessee, the same Berry whose funeral sermon in the Tabernacle had been preached by Charles Penrose when Ed was eight years old.
March 12th Ed delightedly reported that he had received enough money to buy a new suit, shirt shoes and grooming items—and he had the money for a railway ticket home.
On March 17, 1899 the 24 year-old Eddie was already on the job at the Deseret News as a cub reporter. His father, once again Editor in Chief, was willing to let his son try his wings as a crime reporter. Ed also covered sports and “practically every big fire in the city.” Salt Lake had three fire stations and horse-drawn fire fighting equipment.
Eva Catherine Davis was visiting the home of Lucetta Penrose to help care for her on the day Ed returned from his mission. She and Ed had never met, but Eva answered the door it was love at first sight. On June 28, 1899 they married in the Salt Lake Temple.
Like Ed’s family, Eva’s parents and grandparents had been converted to the Mormon church in England and later traveled to Utah. Her grandfather, Thomas Bateman, had settled his family in Nauvoo, in the early 1840’s. After the death of Joseph Smith, the family prepared to move west to Utah with the rest of the Saints. Mary Street Bateman gave birth to her youngest daughter, Margaret, just outside of Council Bluffs, Iowa. Margaret survived the trek to Utah and grew up to marry Alfred Oxenbold Davis, another English convert. Eva Catherine was their oldest child.
Within three years Ed and Eva had two sons, Ray (Edwin Ray Penrose) born on April 13, 1900 and Alton Barwell, born June 26, 1902. Ray couldn’t pronounce his name, so he became “Budder”--later shortened to Bud.
In early January 1903, Lucetta Penrose contracted a cold that turned into pneumonia. She died a few days later on19 January 1903. Lucetta and Charles had been married for 48 years. A few months before she died she attended a surprise Halloween Party that Eva had planned for Ed. Ed’s account of the story can be found in Eva’s biography. Click here for link. [Dave, please add link.]
The year following Lucetta’s death the church called Charles as one of the twelve apostles. He left the editorship of the News when he returned to Great Britain as the president of the European missions in 1906. Eventually he became a counselor in the presidencies of Joseph F. Smith and Heber J. Grant.
Ed and Eva bought a newly built home on Third Avenue in Salt Lake (1156 Third Avenue.) Dorothy was born here on 11 July 1909. There were few homes in that area, so the Penrose children grew up roaming the hills and canyons. The city cemetery was only a block away, so new children moving into the neighborhood were “initiated” by being taken to the cemetery, where Ray and Bud waited, hidden among tombstones, dressed in sheets taken from Eva’s linen closet.
Grandfather Penrose came to their house nearly every Sunday for dinner. As he and Ed had the newspaper business in common, they must have been close, despite Ed’s eventual disaffection from the Mormon Church.
The great flu epidemic swept through Salt Lake at the end of the First World War. Dorothy came down with it first, then her parents. Bud took care of all of them, and although Ed and Eva came close to death, everyone recovered.
With Ed frequently suffering from poor health and unable to work, money was scarce for the young family. Ray got a part time job repairing streets and digging ditches when he wasn’t in school. He paid for Dorothy’s piano lessons out of his earnings and continued to do so until he married. Dorothy adored both of her brothers, she felt especially close to Ray, who acted as a substitute father when her own Dad was ill.
From time to time Ed left off newspaper reporting. He had been working as a Deputy Sheriff for a short time when he was asked to take on the job of Commissioner of Roads for the State of Utah. His job was to travel around the state to see what condition the roads were in. Thus must have been a dusty job, since in that era most Utah roads were unpaved. Needing transportation, Ed bought a second-hand army car—an open Ford with wide fenders and ising glass windows that could be buttoned on at the sides. He took Eva and Dorothy with him on his travels. Dorothy especially enjoyed Bryce and Zion’s canyons. Of course there were no hotels or motels in those days, so they often slept in the car or on the ground and cooked their dinner over a campfire. Whatever Eva thought of the accommodations, her young daughter loved the fun and adventure.
By the outbreak of World War I Ed was not anxious to see Ray and Bud go to “knock the daylights” out of the enemy as he had been. Fortunately the war ended before either of his sons was old enough to be drafted. During the War, when Ed was working at the Deseret News, he would sometimes get a call to go to the News building in the middle of the night to work on a special edition with the latest war news.
Eva’s sister Maude and her husband Sid lived nearby. Dorothy and their daughters were close. Often the basics were hard to come by. Ed wrote:
We are having a sad time getting coal. I just wrote to Ray that they will be selling it by the karat next. I figure on saving a few pieces and having them set in platinum or gold for Christmas presents. I sent our Ray down to a small dealer the other day and he got five sacks for only two dollars and fifty cents. However, we will be able to keep warm as long as the furniture lasts and the neighbor’s fence holds out.
And, as he wrote to his sisters-in-law, Maude and Vilate:
We have wheatless days, meatless days, drinkless days 365 days in a year, amusementless days, nightless days and dayless nights, but we have altogether too many WRITELESS days, so, if we will set aside meatless and wheatless days as CORRESPONDENCE days and permit our thoughts to trickle through the medium of pen-points, the “less days will be made thereby more bearable.
Maude’s husband, Sid Reynolds, occasionally spent nights on the Penrose’s “cemetery couch.” (Presumably the couch was in the living room that looked out over the city cemetery rather than one that had been found somewhere inside the cemetery.) One night Eva occupied the couch and Ed and Sid shared sleeping quarters. In his letter Ed explained the situation:
Sid was with us Monday night, and say, girls, we had a night fit for the Gods—of the lower regions! I took Eva and Sid to a movie and all went fairly well until we got home and then Eva formed an attachment with a Felon (on her finger) and I have been unable yet to break up the infatuation. I hope, however, that the scoundrel will soon grow tired of her so that her husband and family may again have her undivided attention. [A secondary meaning for “felon” is a painful, pus-producing infection on a finger or toe.]
But to get back to the night of nights: As aforesaid, Eva had a felon and walked the floor all night, suffering the tortures of the damned. She insisted on sleeping with Dorothy on the “cemetery” couch, but Dorothy was the only one to get any sleep. Sid and me tried to woo the Goddess Morpheus together, side by each as it were, but when I got up to see if I could give first aid to Eva, he woke up and then started to cough. That set me to barking. Then Sid would bark in basso with an accompaniment from me pitched in a high key that sounded like the intermittent whine of a puppy dog in anguish of soul and a twisted tail. From the varied sounds eminating from the room the casual observer could readily have believed the place was a dog kennel in distress, a base hospital in the throes of fumigation, and a foolish factor all combined in one.
In other family news:
Alton has taken up knitting. He is manufacturing some kind of a neck-piece and asked me last night if I would wear it. I replied in the affirmative whereupon he gravely informed me that it was not for me, but for “Uncle Ray.” His philosophy was expressed in this sagecous logic: “I thought if you would wear it, Uncle Ray would, and it is for Uncle Ray!” I don’t know whether Ray will think it is a section of plum pudding or some new kind of grass, but in any event I know he will appreciate it if Alton completes the job before Ray becomes a General.
“Uncle Ray” was probably Eva’s brother, Raymond Davis.
Uncle Sid occupied the “cemetery couch on other occasions, like the night in November 1917 when “Miss Dorothy insisted on sleeping with him. We made fun of her but she positively refused to see the point and declared that she seldom had a chance to sleep with “Uncle Sid.” Sid said he would write to Maude and confess that he had not been true to her—that he had slept with a chicken, or a squab, or something.”
How did the children get along? Ed explains: “The youngsters are going to school and Alton and Dorothy have their hourly quarrels as usual. Most of the time they are as popular with each other as a German cook in a French café. They agree just exactly as would two sore-pawed Kilkenny cats.”
When Dorothy was nine, the 18th Amendment, Prohibition was passed. She recalled: “It was a very stupid law that encouraged bootleggers, speakeasies, and crime. The night before it went into effect there was a wild time all over the country. The people tried to get as much liquor as they could before the law was enforced. . . . I can vaguely remember when there were saloons on Main Street. Many people made wine, beer, and a concoction called bathtub gin.”
In the early Twenties Ed was offered a job managing the Wilkes Theater. He left newspaper work and took the job. Stock companies performed a new play every week, so Ed got to know the actors. He had many friends among them and invited them to visit the Penrose home. Dorothy remembered Marjorie Rambeau, Gladys George and Victor Jory. Marjorie and Victor later became movie actors. After he retuned to the News, Ed still enjoyed theater and movies—he wrote many reviews of performances for the paper.
In the early days The News was printed on a roller press in a little adobe building.
Eddie said he had occasion one day to gage the clearance between the roller and the paper when some boys playing around began to chase a cat and the cat, seeking to escape, jumped on the bedplate and passed under the roller. The cat was just a few inches over 17 yards long when it emerged with about a column of type pressed into the hide which had been squeezed dry. What was left of the cat on the wrong side of the roller just about wrecked the plant.
Ray married Gunda Weidner on Feb 12, 1924. They had two sons, Edwin Ray, Jr. and Glen Robert. Bud married Glenna Reid in 1926. They had a daughter, Gayle. They divorced and Bud married Ellenor May Lee in 1946.
When Dorothy graduated from the Wasatch School, her parents sold their Third Avenue home and moved into an Apartment on Main Street, close to Ed’s work. Dorothy hated leaving the hills and canyons as well as her close friends. In the following years the family moved frequently from one apartment to another. Dorothy blamed the moves on her mother, who she said must have had “gypsy blood.” She said her Dad would just ask only that when he returned from work to his new address that his chair and his evening paper would be ready for him. Perhaps the real explanation was the family’s financial difficulties.
Dorothy also said that her father was very English in many ways. He loved to have scrambled eggs and brains for Sunday brunch—a dish that she never tried on her own daughters.
Dorothy and Philip Woodland, her high school sweetheart, graduated from LDS High School in the late 1920’s. They wanted to get married, but the Depression made it difficult for them to leave their families and set up their own household. Ed wanted her to go to college, but she felt she needed to get a job and help out the family. She got a job working for a milliner.
On one occasion Dorothy had broken her engagement to Phil. She was falling in love with another young man. One day her father gently broke the news to her that he had seen her new boyfriend coming out of a questionable establishment with another woman early one morning. Dorothy knew this wasn’t the man for her—she went back to Phil.
Dorothy writes: “Dad was working for the Deseret News again, and his job was quite secure. However, every few weeks he would come home and tell Mother that his salary had been cut again. I also took many cuts, and finally worked for a dollar a day, and was glad to have it. We were among the more fortunate to have steady incomes. Dad had so much compassion for anyone in need, and as he walked to work n the mornings, he was always a target for men that were begging for a nickel or dime so that they could eat. I do not think that he ever refused anyone.
During his thirty-six year career as a newspaper reporter, Ed “represented his paper at every public execution and his record of the last words and acts of murderers bears neither malice nor favor. This is what happened and what was said, according to stories which have pictured the grim scenes within the exterior walls of the state prison.”
These were hard years for an additional reason: Ed’s drinking. In the 19th century alcohol was used as a remedy for many ailments—medical care was often inadequate. Although alcohol use was frowned upon, it wasn’t until Prohibition that complete abstention became a rule for Mormons. Ed’s use of alcohol apparently began while he suffered from malaria in the South. For whatever reason—self-medication or keeping up with the fictional image of the hard-drinking newspaper reporter—Ed could not stay away from alcohol for long. To worsen matters for his health, he had become addicted to cigarettes and was a chain smoker, much to the chagrin of Dorothy, who years later shuddered to remember how she must have reeked of the smell of tobacco.
Dorothy said her father was like Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When he drank he turned mean. She often said he had a brilliant mind, but when he drank he turned his wit and intelligence to making sharp, biting comments to her. He abused her verbally, yet she said he never was physically abusive. He would be sober for six months or so, then start drinking. If he didn’t come home, Dorothy and her mother would go downtown to Skid Row to look through the flophouses until they found him and brought him home. Dorothy believed that her Dad didn’t want to drink, and that if an organization such as AA had been around at that time, he might have been able to overcome that weakness. While Dorothy loved her Dad, she was a sensitive girl and she hated his drinking. She lived at home alone with her parents for more than nine years after Ray and then Bud married. She was engaged to her future husband for seven of those years. Between the Depression and caring for their parents, getting married was something they put off.
Ray paid for Dorothy’s piano lessons for many years. The family owned a piano for her to practice on and she became good enough to accompany vocalists at performances. One day when she was eighteen or so she came home from school to find that her piano was gone. Not a word was said and Dorothy did not ask what had happened. She guessed that it had been sold to pay some bills. She never played again. She did not have a piano in her home and didn’t encourage her daughters to take lessons. The wound was so deep that she didn’t tell her daughters about it until she was in her eighties.
Dorothy wrote of her father’s last days:
Dad’s health had grown progressively worse. He had developed heart trouble. He kept on working, but many times was so ill he could not go to work. We could see that his condition was getting worse. Ray and Bud did all that they could to help us. Dad did not believe in insurance so we had nothing to fall back on when he was so ill. The Deseret News kept him on as long as they could, the boys helped financially, and my paycheck would help pay the monthly bills. Toward the end we had to hire a nurse, as Mother and I were so exhausted. He died February 9, 1935. He was 58.
My Father always called me Dorothy Anne, his pet name for me, or little princess. I thought he was the kindest, most intelligent man that I have ever known. I will always miss him, and have wished so many times that he could have lived long enough to know our daughters.
His articles in the Deseret News were always well written and interesting to read. Not many reporters had a byline in the paper. Dad earned his, and was proud of his achievement. I have felt that he could have been a fine novelist, if his health had permitted. He had faults and weaknesses, but they were very few.
In his work he saw much of the seamy, mean, immoral side of life. He was assigned to cover all of the executions at the State Prison, and all sort of accidents, and reported them accurately. Even though he saw this side of life, it did not change the gentleness and goodness of his nature. He helped so many people that were in trouble.
One of the speakers at Ed’s funeral was Mark E. Petersen. Eighteen years later he spoke again at Eva’s funeral and reminisced about his friend Ed Penrose:
It was when I went to the Deseret News to work and there I met her husband, Ed, and was delighted to have the privilege of his numbering me as one of his friends. I went to the Deseret News as a cub reporter, very green, knowing nothing about the paper. Ed at that time was a well-established reporter who knew the business, knew what it was all about, and he put his arm around me and helped to teach me the business. I shall always be grateful for his friendship and the way he helped me and the way which he stood by my side even to the day of his death.
“He spent a lifetime in the work he loved to do . . . “
Ed was buried in the Penrose family plot near his father and mother in the Salt Lake Cemetery. Eighteen years after his death, Eva was laid to rest at his side.
Although my sisters and I were born after his death, he lived on for us through our mother’s stories of him. Dorothy wished that we could have known him when he was still her witty, charming and adored Dad.
Susan W. Howard
June 6, 2007
Dorothy Eve Penrose Woodland, MY HISTORY
Missionary letters of Edwin C. Penrose, 1898-99
CHARLES W. PENROSE; HIS LIFE AND THOUGHT by Kenneth W. Godfrey, (unpublished manuscript available at the Utah Historical Society.)
Andrew Jensen, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol I
Deseret News clippings, undated:
After 31 Years Dean of Police Reporters Still Going Strong
Death Claims Well Known S. L. Reporter
Senator from Sandpit
For additional information on the life of British Immigrants in Utah see
 In 1862 Congress passed the Morrill Act making bigamy in the territories a crime punishable by a fine and 5 years in prison. The church challenged the government in Reynolds v United States, (1879) but the U.S. Supreme court upheld the law. Other anti-bigamy laws aimed at the Mormon practice of polygamy included the Edmunds Act (1882) that made bigamous cohabitation a misdemeanor, and the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, which allowed the U.S. government to seize the assets of the church and disenfranchise the members.
 Edward Tullidge, History of Salt Lake City, 1886, p 144.
Jump to Chapters
Malaria, Methodists, and Josephites
He Described the Situation to his Father
Links to His Writings
An Interview with the Old Clock
His Missionary Letters Home from the Southern States Mission