BY JENNY GOLDSBERRY
Among the earliest recorded weddings in Roy was that of Violet Rebecca Jones and James Wisley Sidwell on December 5, 1899. Their marriage did not last, with Violet divorcing James, remarrying, becoming widowed, and remarrying a second time. However, their marriage was still a historic one.
The Jones family came from Mormon pioneers. They traveled across the plains with the Rowley Handcart Company. Their patriarch, Richard Jones, was born in England, so on top of the handcart journey, he spent nine weeks crossing the ocean on a boat. He and his wife Elizabeth Vesey Baker moved to Roy when there were only three other houses in the area. There, everyone shared one drinking water well and hauled water from Hooper for all other uses. Richard owned the resort at the Hot Springs and made his money that way. They had eight children in total, but one died in infancy. Violet and her siblings would go 77 years without a death between them.
James had five children with Violet before she divorced him. Their marriage was full of trials. Their oldest son, Eugene, died at the age of 27. He was poisoned while working as a miner. It was likely he poisoned himself, because, after consuming half of a bottle of disinfectant, he stumbled into a store where the owner tried to show him out.
“Man! Leave me alone, I am going to die here!” Eugene told the store owner. A quartet from the Roy Ward sang at his funeral. Among their lineup they sang: Let the Lower Lights Be Burned, Jesus Lover of My Soul, and Sometime We’ll Understand.
Then, their second eldest daughter Elnora Marie died of scarlet fever in Roy. She was seven years old when she died. In fact, she died on her seventh birthday.
Next, their youngest baby girl, Rosette, tragically died of pneumonia only two weeks after being born. She also died in their Roy home. The family hosted a funeral in her honor.
As a result, James turned to alcohol to mourn his children. Meanwhile, Violet longed to be sealed to her children in a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the end, she divorced James; I think it was because he was not able to take her and their children to the temple. He reportedly became an alcoholic. Drinking in general disqualifies one from being able to enter the temple.
Violet remarried Stephen Ure in 1911. Together, they were sealed in the Salt Lake City Temple with her children. They went on to have six more children. Stephen died 25 years after their sealing. James never remarried and lived to be nearly 80 years old.