Sunday, October 10, 2010

Frank & Iola Sperry and the Hancock Ranch, Where Eternity Began

Images of the Hancock Ranch have been floating around my head for years, but I had never actually seen this place until I attended the annual Frank and Iola Sperry Reunion this past September. After the food, visiting, games and sailing squash boats down the ditch we piled into cars and left Todd and Debbie Sperry’s home in Santiquin for a tour of family sites.

Hankcock Ranch was the major destination. It was NOT a quick ride in our cars. It would have been a L O N G ride by horse or Model T Ford. It did give us a chance to ease back into history. Are you ready for a ride?

Judge John Cooper in Nephi, Juab County, Utah, married Frank Lamont Sperry and Iola Croff on November 2, 1927. Nephi was Frank’s hometown. It was a double wedding- Iola’s older sister Mildred Croff and Doug Brown were also married the same day. Both couples soon settled in at the Hancock Ranch 9 miles south of Elberta, Utah. This proved to be a great place to grow into marriage. In Iola’s words “we enjoyed ourselves very much and made many good friends here”. Mont told the group at the reunion about the couples swimming in a nearby reservoir as often as they could make time for, and we all reflected about the likelihood of the couples watching for company from their wonderful view of both Utah and Juab County. They loved visitors, and visiting.

Both Frank and Doug had become regulars at the Elberta Ward and helped to build the one room church building into a larger space. Iola wrote of a very important event that took place while they lived at the Hancock Ranch. Bishop Heinze encouraged them “to go to the Manti Temple and be married for time and all eternity”. She wrote that she would “always be grateful to Bishop Heinze for his goodness and encouragement. I have always hoped I would live worthy of his effort and what he did for us.” Just ten month’s after they married, on September 3, 1928 Frank and Iola went with the Tintic Stake on a temple excursion to seal their marriage.

They remained at the ranch for two years until their first child was born, Donna. Later they moved back when work was hard to find. The second round was spent with Frank’s older brother, Roy Sperry and his wife Thelma and two son’s Lee and Neil. There were two houses on the ranch, Frank, Iola and Donna lived in the smaller of the two. They worked the sheep ranch, gardened, tended horses, cattle, other farm animals, cared for fruit trees and enjoyed life. For those of you who know the stories told by Frank of the DEAF PIG, this is where it happened. They spent a total of 4 years at the ranch.

Grandma Iola Sperry’s words ring in my ears: she was grateful for a good Bishop who visited them and loved her husband into the ward, and the church. Their future was forever changed because they spent time at the Hancock Ranch.

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