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Henry Carl and Clara Sophia Brandley

Stirling - Its Story and Peoples
pages 228 - 229
by Rulon F. Brandley

Horse Brand 4X - Cattle Brand YX

Henry Carl was born in Richfield, Utah, June 7, 1879. Henry was the fourth child of eight born to Theodore and Elizabeth Marie Brandley. He spent his childhood with many fond memories of his life there. His father was absent often and his mother was left alone to raise her children, care for their home, operate a bakery and raise a large garden. When Henry was only twelve years old his mother died.

Clara Sophia Johnson was born in Richfield, Utah, February 24, 1881. She was the daughter of James Nicholia and Ana Sophia Johnson. Their family home was a rock house with a mud roof and a board floor. It was the envy of many in Richfield as it was surrounded by a six foot high rock wall. Sophia was one of four children including a set of twins born to James and Ana.

Sophia and Henry were married on February 16, 1898 in Richfield by Henry's father, Theodore.

In 1899 Henry accepted a call from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to come to Canada. He left a close circle of friends, a profitable job, a comfortable home and his family only to embark upon a new way of life in a desolate empty prairie.

Henry arrived in Stirling with other members of his family and friends on May 5, 1899. He and Mr. P. Christensen rode night herd to keep the cattle and horses from straying as there were no fences. He returned to Richfield and then the next May, 1900 returned to Stirling with his wife and three daughters.

Henry had a variety of jobs over the next few years. He was the first to sign a mail contract, he helped build the Stirling School and worked on the irrigation canal. He travelled to Cardston for machinery and to Magrath for coal. He often met the train in Lethbridge and would take new settlers in the democrat to look at land. Settlers filed their claims in Lethbridge. They would travel the day before and sleep on the ground in order to keep their place in the line.

In 1910 Henry and Sophia moved their family to their homestead near New Dayton in 1908. In 1911, the hail destroyed all the crops. 1915 and 1916 were very good years and in 1917, Henry purchased his first Model T touring car.

The dry year of 1919 then hit and that year they threshed only 300 bushels of grain. There was no feed for the cattle and hay was shipped in from northern Alberta. Many range cattle starved to death.

An epidemic of scarlet fever broke out in their area in 1920. Sophia spent many sleepless nights beside their children's beds and for many months while they were quarantined, Henry would go for groceries and would call out from the street what he wanted to purchase and the grocer would then fill the order and leave it out in the street for Henry to pick up.

They had many interesting experiences as pioneers-Sophia told of times when the Indians would be around begging for food while gathering bleached bones lying on the prairie. They would tell her that they were going to steal her black-eyed child. Sophia always fed them and they would go away happy.

The forty years they spent on the farm were very busy ones. They were very involved in the community where Henry served as a School Board Trustee and Superintendent of the L.D.S. Branch Sunday School. The children attended Stirling, Tyrnells Lake, Independent and Wrentham Schools as they got their education. Sophia was very involved in the community Women's Institute, quilting bees and Relief Society. There were many fun events to attend also such as: dances, picnics, swimming in Kip Coulee, horse shoe pitching, rodeos, horse racing and fishing.

In 1948, they celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary. In 1950, they retired to Stirling. Here they enjoyed the remainder of their lives together and are buried in the Stirling Cemetery.

Henry and Sophia were two very courageous, honest and hard working pioneers. They left a fine posterity of ten children, thirty-three grandchildren, eighty great-grandchildren, and twenty-two great- great-grandchildren to date. They were two very fine people and left a cherished example for their family to follow.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup