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Sam Napolean O'Bray and
Marcia Ann Allen O'Bray

Heritage of the High Country
A History of Del Bonita and Surrounding Districts
Pages 455 - 456
by Marcia Shields

Sam Napoleon was born at Paradise, Utah, September 24, 1867, son of Samuel William O'Bray of Landerth, Pembrocke, South Wales, and Eleanor Bainbridge of England. He married Marcia Ann Allen. She was born at Willard, Utah, June 23, 1873, daughter of Marshall Franklin Allen of Manchester, New York, and Emma Homes of Eversholt, England. "The O'Brays and Bainbridges joined the L.D.S. church in England and immigrated to the United States."

At Paradise, Sam worked his father's small farm, where ten of his children were born. Early in 1907, they moved to Beazer, Alberta. There, three more children were added to the family. Later, two more were born at Cardston, Alberta. Sam came to Canada by freight train to look after the animals, machinery, and household articles.

Marcia Ann and children came by passenger train. She often remarked about the shock she got when they arrived in Cardston, and saw it was the end of the railroad. The weather had failed to make it very pleasant as they were delayed in Stirling on account of a terrible blizzard. Marcia Ann never fully accepted this move until 1931, after their son Lorus had taken her, Sam and Lubert, their youngest son back to Utah for a vacation.

At Beazer Sam was engaged in farming. Methods used were a far cry from what they are now. Seeding and cutting were done with horse-drawn machinery; even the threshing was done with horse power, which in itself is quite a story. While at Beazer Sam took Militia training at Calgary.

In 1912, Sam filed on a homestead in the Lease country, T-1-20-, where he built a small house. Early in July, 1913, Sam and Marcia Ann left Beazer for the lease with their children, Eleanor, Marcia, Allen, Elmor, and Joseph, a baby of a few weeks. Their possessions were in a double box wagon drawn by a team of horses. The older boys trailed the animals to their new home. Emma was married, so never moved with the family. Those who secured land were Samuel (Nap), but he chose to live in Cardston, John, Boyd, William, and Milford. Sometime later the last three sold out and moved to B.C. for a number of years. They had several hundred head of sheep.

During World War 1, Boyd was in the army, but never went overseas. Lorus spent six years in the United States Navy.

Milford being large for a sixteen year old, went to Regina, and joined the Police Force. He became homesick. To obtain his release, Sam sent his birth certificate. Two years later he joined the United States Navy for two years.

When nineteen years of age, Ethan died as the result of an accident. He was kicked in the forehead by a horse.

Times were mighty hard those early days of the Lease. The older boys in the family worked away from home most of the time.

The O'Brays family suffered many hardships. One which I am going to relate was almost too much.

One year Sam had a lovely crop of flax, which was a good price. The family was very happy, looking forward to some extra food, warm clothing and fuel for the winter. The flax was stored in a granary a mile or so west of the home place. In the evening Sam and some of his sons went to load the wagon in preparation for an early start the next morning, to Milk River, a distance of thirty miles. Will jumped in the granary and shouted, "No flax here". What a shock. Sam said he just couldn't believe his ears. Those responsible for that wicked deed never offered to make it right, but will surely have to answer for it no matter where they are.

Each fall Sam took a load of wheat to the Hutterite Colony south of Magrath. In exchange he got flour, breakfast food, bran, shorts and dill pickles.

A branch of the L.D.S. (Mormon) Church was organized. Meetings were held in the old Del Bonita School. Later there was also a branch at Twin River. Sam was a Councilor in the Branch Presidency.

Hacke School District was established in 1913. Responsible committee were William (Bill) Hacke, Hugo Weiss and Sam O'Bray, with Joe Atwood as secretary. In 1914 the Hacke Post Office was granted for T- 1-20 with Bill Hacke as Postmaster. His brother Fred was the second Postmaster. Later the name was changed to Twin River.

There are only six of the fifteen children of Sam and Marcia Ann's living. They had twelve sons and three daughters.

After the children were all out on their own they moved to Cardston. The summer of 1941 they went to Lethbridge to live. Sam died at Christmas, Marcia Ann died August 6, 1942. Both are buried at Cardston, Alberta.

Their children who are deceased: Emma, Samuel (Nap), John, Earl died in infancy, Boyd, William, Lorus, Milford, Ethan. Descendants - Three hundred and sixty-five.

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Copyright 2000
Mary Tollestrup