Eva Allanna Nichols Porter, 

wife of Aaron B. Porter, Jr.

(Note: This skeletal history is based on the history for the 1993 Nichols family reunion booklet by Thora Porter Rawson and also on subsequent discussion with her.  Cousins, please collaborate and conspire and try to get Farr, Don and Toddy to flesh out this account by reading this with them and filling in other stories as they come to mind! Tape recorders are wonderful!  Sadly, I missed this opportunity with my folks. Thanks, Roger)


Born 25 January 1879, Eva Allanna (pronounced "Ehveh Ahllawna" from Danish) was the first of fourteen children born to Eve (pronounced "Ehveh" in Danish and sometimes written "Eva") Susannah Jensen and Alvin Willard Nichols. Alvin was 23 and Eve 16 when they were married, and Eve only seventeen and one-half years old when Allanna was born. Even after marriage, Allanna and her mother were never far from each other in thought or distance.

Throughout her early life, Allanna assisted her parents as they struggled through pioneering circumstances in Utah and Idaho to raise and educate their large family. In doing so, she worked closely with and greatly loved her brother, Ray. These two had great responsibility for and sacrificed much on behalf of their younger siblings. One note found among family papers states that she gave her little brother ‘a mare and colt, his first horse, and the mare had one more colt' in ‘84.  As youngsters their schooling was very spasmodic and for short terms.  Each, however, was sent to Brigham City when very young to live with their Grandmother Jensen and attend school there for short terms.  When the Bannock Stake Academy (became Ricks College, now BYU-Idaho) was built in Rexburg, they were enrolled as students for a few semesters. Two old receipts show dates of "2/28/95".  In a rented room they studied, ate and slept while in attendance at the Academy.  It was so cold in their room that supplies of milk froze in the bottles, and some times Allanna and Ray would sleep with feet together to try to keep warm.

At an early age, Allanna showed a great talent for music and with very little training she was soon playing the organ or piano for church services.  Ray had a fine singing voice and no doubt they were able to find some enjoyment occasionally when opportunities came to plan and sing.  She was one of the first organists at the Academy.  A wonderful opportunity came her way one day.  Professor Evan Stevens came to visit the school and heard her play.  He met Grandfather and told him that if he would let Allanna go to Salt Lake City, he would do everything he could to see that she received good training, for he recognized her talent and potential to reach great heights in the music world.  However, Grandfather felt he could not let her go: a terrible disappointment to her as this marvelous once-in-a-lifetime dream slipped away.

When Grandfather (Alvin W. Nichols) obtained a permit to establish a Post Office at Burton, Idaho, he either built or rented a store in which to set it up, and in connection therewith operated a small mercantile business across the road from the Burton LDS church.  Ray was delegated to haul supplies and mail coming in by rail several times a week, and Allanna served at times as postmistress or clerk in the store.  Thus, in this business enterprise, a team also.


Allanna was twenty when she met Aaron Benjamin Porter, Jr., a young, handsome just-returned missionary.  While he was serving in the southern States Mission, his folks had moved from Centerville, Utah to Burton to establish a home about 4 miles west of Rexburg.  He had joined them there in August 1899.  The two young people were attracted to each other and were married in the Salt Lake Temple 9 October 1900.  They bought a small farm 1/2 mile west of his folks' place and lived there until after the birth of their fourth child. Joan blessed us with a picture of this home on this web site. The death of their first little girl, on the fifth of February, 1904, Eva Irene, at the age of two and one-half, was a terrible shock. Her picture is posted on the site. Then Aaron's father died shortly after, 15th of November, 1904.

It was probably in 1909 when Aaron and Allanna decided they wanted to establish a home in Rexburg, as the Nichols family had done.  They sold the farm and bought a lot in the same block as her folks; however, their place faced South on East Main Street.  Aaron proceeded to build a frame home.  As weather permitted, he spent every available hour on the building. During winter months he found work in various business establishments, such as a shoe repair shop and a combined lumber-implement store.  A small house near the railroad tracks was rented in which the family lived for a year or so until they were able to get into the new home.

Those early years in Rexburg were fraught with worry over finances and illnesses.  Besides the usual children's diseases such as Chicken Pox and Measles, it took a year or more in each case, for the little family to suffer and struggle through two tragedies that struck: the terrible burns of Rea's hands when as a toddler she fell against a hot round-bellied stove; and when father, a very ill man, had to travel by train to Salt Lake city for the removal of his gallbladder and appendix.  He was gone a long time, with doctor and hospitals bills stacking up, and when he did get home he was pale and weak, unable to do anything strenuous for many months. He obtained a permit to operate a Postal R.F.D. route North of Rexburg and for this purpose he hitched a pair of mules to a little four-wheel buggy, making the rounds each day.  He built more rooms on the house, along with another bathroom, and eventually had some for rent.  Mother tried, at every opportunity to bring in a little money by teaching piano lessons.

During the summers of 1914-1919 we were homesteading in Green Timber, about twelve miles east of Ashton, Idaho.  Uncle Ray's home and property were just west of ours.  Father built a little two-room log house with a loft, which served as the boys' bedroom.  We lived under true pioneer conditions: no electricity, no running water, one small wood burning stove and just the basics for furniture, clothing, etc.  Mother and father worked extremely hard but we children generally had a great time.  It was fun to walk to Aunt May's for an afternoon visit.  She was so sweet and gracious and generally had a treat for us.  We would travel to Ashton occasionally for supplies and on Sundays to the little town of Warm River where there was a branch of the church, and enjoy a picnic on the banks of the nearby river between services.  We greatly enjoyed visits from relatives and were sorry we had no room for an extended stay.  However, they always had the pleasure of the wonderful hospitality of the Nichols'.  For this, we envied them!  I felt Aunt Elva's love for me as she included mein activities involving the many friends she made on visits to Green Timber, since they were all several years older than I.

We would be back in Rexburg for school during the winter months.  In his continual building, father had finally completed a music room for mother's piano.  After years of teaching others’ children to play, she was anxious to get her own started in music.  From somewhere, she secured two second-hand violins and a cornet.  She sent for sheets of music for a little orchestra and placed the violins in the hands of the two older children, Osmer and Thora, and Sarel got the cornet.  


Somewhere also, sufficient money was found to pay an instructor to teach the boys the fundamentals of playing their instruments and with mother at the piano, the rest was up to her!  She soon had a nice little orchestra, invited her brother Leland to join with his clarinet, and we all enjoyed getting together for practices.  Due to this effort on mother's part, each of was able to develop and use our musical talents in school orchestras, operettas, choruses and in activities at church. Also, vocally, the boys and Rea performed individually or in duets at church, civic and family affairs through the ears until they were married.

Don was born in November, 1814, and thus there was the care of a baby added to mother's difficult life at Green Timber.  When she was again pregnant in 1919, our affairs at Green Timber wound down. Farr was born in September and since no feedings seemed to agree with him he became weaker and weaker.  When the doctor prescribed milk from a Jersey cow feeding on green fields, father looked for and found such a pasture at Salem, four miles north of Rexburg, and made a down payment on the irrigated farm.  Thus began the next four summers' hard work for all of us, which turned out to be a great loss financially.  But Farr prospered, for which we have always been very grateful!  The farm produced good crops but every year just prior to harvest, wind and heavy hailstorms beat them to the ground two seasons in a row.  Father kept us on the farm long enough for Thora and Osmer to complete business courses at the Ricks Normal College.  Thora took shorthand, Osmer took Bookkeeping and both took Business English and Typing.  We competed with each other for the best grades and so delighted the teacher that I think we were his favorite students.  With a mortgage on the Rexburg home which we were unable to meet, we decided to leave it all behind and move to Pocatello to seek a new beginning.  Father brought us all together at the kitchen table as talk have begun to separate and go our own ways. He said, “We are a one unit, a family, and we will stay together and all work together for the family!”  The decision was made that everyone would bring every penny to mother to decide where it would go as she was so efficient with money.  So we walked off both properties in Rexburg and Salem, taking bedding and food as we could carry it, and left for Pocatello, arriving there late in August 1923. Thus we faced the years of "The Great Depression" as poor strangers in a new setting.  Aaron at 47 and Allanna at 43 started over with nothing except their six children:  Osmer was 19, Thora 17, Sarel 16, Rea 11, Don 8, and Farr 3. 




The only place we could find to sleep that night was an old warehouse, so we each took our bedding and things to a corner and spent the next several days there and looking for work.  Dad told the Railroad he was 20 years younger than he was in order to be accepted for work. He felt very sad to have lied about his age, but was desperate for work!  He told them he was a carpenter, and they put him to work rebuilding fruit cars, but he got “bumped” frequently and only worked sporadically.  Mother looked for a place to rent and found a place behind a store on the northwest end of Pocatello.  We moved in, but didn’t stay long since mother couldn’t stand to pay rent and dad had no room for a garden.  She saved all she could and put money toward the purchase of a home at 439 Riverside Drive and we moved again.


Thora and Osmer were told to visit Laura Berg, a cousin of Lee Rawson (who was staying with her at the time), since she knew everyone in town, and inquire about work.  The only thing available was clerking at a wholesale tobacco company filling orders, and this became Thora’s first job.  The stink of smoking men and the environment was too much and after a couple of months she was looking again.  Osmer had taken work at the Mutual creamery, where aunt Ella worked, and told Thora a competitor was coming to town and she might get on there.  She applied and was hired by Armor Creamery.  Osmer came in early on and from the counter yelled out, “Hello Sis!  How are you!” and ever after, for 13 years, no one ever used Thora’s name, but she was known as “Sis.”  Sarel was in high school, and Don in Elementary school and Farr not yet in school.


The Third Ward was good to the family, treating all like long lost cousins, asking Allanna to play for church and Thora for Mutual and the Gold and Green Ball.  And even Osmer, who had dropped out of activity in the Church after a confrontation with George Romney over attending a local dance, returned to activity and accepted the lead in a ward play, taking the part of “Jerry.”  All the girls in town came to see him and ever afterward he was known as Jerry.  He had never liked “Osmer,” which dad had selected from his favorite mission companion, Osmer Flake.  One of the girls to see him was Helen, whom he courted and married.  Since Helen was not in the Church, when Jack came along, his grandpa Aaron took him to church regularly. 


Things would go well for us at times, until father would be "bumped" from his job, having little seniority.  He would search diligently for work, occasionally lucky to get on as a night watchman or some other very low paying job.  Then, when Osmer married in April 1925, the family lost his cash contribution and Thora was the only regular source of income.   Dad got work in Inkom with a Mr. Johnson whose wife had died. He needed help with the children and farm and dad became a partner with him for a time while mother helped with the children.  Osmer and Thora opened a stand on the highway and sold produce, candy and home cooked items like bread and cookies.  Mother and grandmother Nichols (who stayed with us frequently) were afraid Mr. Johnson would take a liking to Thora and marry her, but they were only friends without any romantic interest.  Thora says he did take a shine to Rea for a while, however. 


When Sarel graduated, he too, searched for work but it was always something temporary, paying little.  He worked the farm, and also worked in a tobacco store in Pocatello and picked up the habit.  The Bishop came to Thora and asked her to serve a mission, but she felt she just couldn’t as she was practically supporting the family alone. She asked the Bishop about giving the call to Sarel, but he resisted, saying Sarel was too young and wasn’t working steadily.  She insisted he ask Sarel, partly to get Sarel away from the company he was in, promising the family would support him, and to everyone’s surprise, Sarel accepted the call after some initial resistance.  When the call came to New Zealand he was depressed and accused everyone of wanting to really get him to the other side of the world, but he went, though he WAS greatly worried and plagued with lack of sufficient money throughout most of his mission.  He was at the Mission Home in Salt Lake City when Grandfather Nichols died January 24, 1928, and was very sad that he could not attend the funeral, as Grandfather was one of his favorite people.  He left for the New Zealand Mission February 3, 1928, and somewhere on the ocean trip finally threw his last cigarettes overboard in a resolution to be a “full” missionary.   He served three years three months, and the family drove to Vancouver, B.C. to meet him and take him home as he landed there June 22, 1931.  He was the seventh occupant of the car as he climbed in to chauffeur us home and Farr often tells of still having the marks on his bottom from having to sit on the upturned bucket provided for him the entire trip!   




Allanna had a firm testimony of the gospel and never refused a call to serve in any organization of the church.  She led the way to Sunday School and church and encouraged her children to follow.  Even the long distance to Warm River while living at Green Timber did not deter her from getting us ready and there on time.

She was happy to see us accept mission calls and sacrificed much to keep us there as she sent money and wrote, often, giving us encouragement.  She did not hesitate to answer a call herself, although suffering failing health, and served alongside her husband faithfully.  

She took advantage of every opportunity to gain an education and learn new skills.  In early years in Rexburg she attended Chataqua when it came to town and later, Leadership Week there, even after we moved to Pocatello.  When night classes for L.D.S. Seminary were established at the University of Idaho Southern Branch (now Idaho State University in Pocatello), she was there to learn, as well as at B.Y.U. educational seminars at Provo.  We have notes she took at these various meetings.


All things went well, generally, for the next few years.  Rea left July 12, 1934, to serve two years in the North Central States Mission. Sarel, having at last found a good job with Orange Transportation Company felt financially able to get married and did so on July 14, 1934.  Then, when Thora underwent a serious operation in 1935, the family finances again took a dive.  To recuperate she took a part time job in Boise, was later transferred to Salt Lake City and never returned to Pocatello until after she was married to Lee Rawson, December 23, 1937. Lee was soon appointed to head the state liquor department in Boise.  In the meantime, Rea had returned home, had joined Thora in Salt Lake City and married in April, 1937, establishing a home there.  Don had left September 17, 1936, for the French Mission where he served two and one-half years, and returned May 8, 1939.  The F.B.I. called him into service and he was in Washington, D.C. when he was married December 24, 1941.  Farr, after graduating from high school and seeking a business education, was working part time while enrolled at L.D.S. Business College in Salt Lake City when he was called into the service of WWII in 1939.  He finally returned home safely and was working for J.J. Newberry Co. When he married the boss's daughter March 3, 1943.  Advancing rapidly he was soon being transferred to other cities to manage or put in order other stores.

With all the children gone and employment at the P.F.E. soon ending, father and mother decided to build a duplex or triplex, which could be rented for retirement income.  They purchased a lot next to the Pocatello Third Ward Church at 1235 N. Arthur, and father proceeded with the plans.  Mother was there beside him almost everyday to help and keep him fed.  They had it completed, moved into one unit and had the lower apartment rented by 1940.  When Rea and her husband decided to build a grocery store at 4th East and Edith Avenue, SLC, father was there to stay at Rea's while he helped her husband build it in 1944-45.

January 16, 1946, when mother was 67 that month and father was 70, they left to serve a mission in the Southern States.  Mother was not well but tried very hard to carry on.  They were there almost a year, returning November 30.  Perhaps their property in Pocatello was all rented or their desire to be near Rea and Don in Salt Lake City prompted them to buy a home at 1362 Ramona Avenue and make the move.  They were comfortably settled there when Thora and her husband left from Boise, Idaho to serve a mission to England in October, 1947.  Lee asked Thora what she would like to do since his term in the Liquor Department was about to expire.  She replied, “I’d love to go on a mission!”  He said, “Well, let’s do it!”

Mother was suffering from heart trouble but tried to keep her family from knowing.  She helped Rea at the time her last child was born in 1948 and was alongside to nail down floor boards and insulate the walls of a new home Rea and her husband built at 2031 Kensington Avenue during 1950.  Then in 1951-52 father and mother decided to build a duplex at 1179 Westminster Avenue near Sugar House.  There was mother again beside father hammering nails and keeping him fed as he worked long and hard.  When it was completed at the end of 1952 they moved into one unit.  However, they had not been in more than six months, the new curtains not yet hung, when mother passed away June 21, 1953.