Herbert Evans vanDam Jr. - - 1877-1968  


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My father, Herbert vanDam, was born at Heukelum Holland, on the 24th day of April 1853. His parents were Jan Cornelius Van Dam and Maarigje Exalto. In 1864, they having previously joined the church, immigrated to this country. To cross the plains, they have a good outfit, consisting of a wagon and a team of oxen. Somewhere on the journey both of his parents died and were buried on the plains, leaving a family of five children. My father was 11 years old with four younger sisters, the youngest being only a week old. He then had to take the helm and he drove the ox team the rest of the way to Utah . On their arrival, father and two of his sisters were taken into the home of Moses Thurston, on Main Street , just north of fourth South, where the federal building now stands.

Although they were never officially adopted, they took the name of Thurston, but when father applied for a marriage license in the name of Thurston, he was told he must take his own name or his marriage would not be legal, so he became vanDam again.

My mother's maiden name was Mary Elizabeth Evans, the daughter of David Mitchell Evans and Mary holding, both pioneers of 1852. My mother and father were married November 8, 1875 , and moved into a two room adobe house on second West and six South that my father built, and where I was born November 19, 1877 . This home still stands, although it has been enlarged and improved. When I was about six years old, father sold this home and build a brick house at 243 West 3 rd So., where we lived until the early 90s.

My education began when I was five years old and has not been completed. I started school first in the old seventh Ward school, where my father was teaching. Schools in those days were primitive as compared with present; they were not organized in districts, nor were they grated. A few years after I started there, father became the principal of the sixth Ward school and, of course I went there until I was about 13 years old, and he quit teaching and the next year I went to the seventh Ward school, called the Whittier . I think I was assigned to the seventh grade, then at the end of the year was passed into the eighth grade.

Father had always wanted to own a farm and in about 1892 he and a Mr. Beasley bought a farm about 160 acres a mile and a half southeast of Sandy , Utah . They paid one half of the purchase price, $10,000 and gave mortgages back for the balance (this property is now worth a million or so-1960). They expected to pay these obligations off with the profits of the operation, but there was no profits so they could not pay and there were obliged to keep the property back to the former owner and move off. This is where I learned to do all kinds of farm work, such as planting and harvesting, weeding, milking and feeding horses, cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys. My father and I used to go to the canyons to get wood for fuel. This was a period of hard work, a little income, and what at the time I considered a hardship, if not waste time. I have changed my mind and now feel that it was the best training I ever had. During this period, I went to the Sandy city schools and took eighth grade work, but I had to quit before the end of the year so did not graduate. When we left the farm, father bought a lot in Sandy and he and I built a brick house on it, which still stands, and we moved into it. I did odd jobs for time and usually was paid one dollar a day, and the last job at the time was as a section hand for the Rio Grande Western branch Road to Bingham. 10 hours a day at $1.40 per day. I saved a $50 and then in the fall of 1897, I came to Salt Lake City and lived with grandfather and Jane Evans. After about three months in the business college, I had to quit because I could not pay the tuition. Fortunately for me, Tom Homer offered me a job in his office where I stayed for six months and learned a lot about real estate records and abstracting. While I was working there, my mother died on April 19, 1898 , and that was the saddest thing that ever happened to me.

While I worked in the abstract business, I got $3.00 the first week, the next week it was five and before I quit, it was six. When I left, I got a job in the Law Office of Judge Judd doing his work and occupying a room with a typewriter in it for my pay; however, I took in odd jobs during the month and made $60. I then left Judge Judd and went to Evanston, Wyoming and worked during the 1898 campaign for the Democratic committee for which I received $60 per month, and my expenses.

On January 2, 1899, about a year after I worked as a section hand, I went to work for the Rio Grande Western in the general offices, as the stenographer. I worked there until September 1, 1901, when the company sold out to the Denver and Rio Grande Western and the offices were moved to Denver. I immediately was offered two different jobs in the railroad offices and refused both of them and went to work in the Law offices of Stewart and Stewart lawyers at $25 per month, and this was a come down from the railroad job, where at first I was paid $60 per month, for the first six months, and $70 for the balance of the time within a year after I was working $100 per month.

When I was about 12 years old, I had made up my mind that I wanted to be a lawyer. When I was 19, I was sure there was no possibility that this ambition could be satisfied; however, when I was at the business college it happened to be my good fortune to contact one Josiah Thomas and Charles W. L. Stevens who were studying law and who invited me to join them. They had been studying several months before I joined them, so I was behind, but they helped me a great deal and all three of us were admitted to the bar. Joe and I have kept track of each other ever since but neither of us knows what came of Stevens. I was admitted to the bar February 10, 1902, and am now a member of the Salt Lake County and Utah State Bar, the American Bar Association, the American Judicature Society, and have been admitted to practice in the United States District Court of Utah, and the Court of Appeals, the 10th District, and have also been permitted by courtesy to practice and several other courts.

I worked for the Utah Association of credit man in different positions and resigned in 1908 to join the law firm of Thomas, Richards and Porter. After six months, this firm became Richards, Porter and vanDam and still later to Richards, Hart and vanDam. In 1917, Stephen L. Richards was chosen as an apostle in the latter-day Saints Church and the law firm then became Hart, vanDam and Lund.

I married Lillieth Ann Smith January 1, 1909 . She is the granddaughter of George Albert Smith, 1847 Pioneer to Utah, high churchmen, statesmen, legislator, and in my opinion, general outstanding citizen and leader wherever he went. My wife, in my opinion inherited many fine qualities from her grandparents, as well as her father and mother. We are the proud parents of 14 living children, 51 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren, in 1960.

In 1915, I served as deputy county attorney in Salt Lake County, and as assistant attorney general during part of 1917 and up to 1920. In 1918, I became the first member of the Kiwanis club in the Intermountain area and was elected its first president; and afterward served as district governor of Utah-Idaho district also a member of the international committee of public affairs. I attended several conventions of the Kiwanis club held a Birmingham, Alabama ; Boise, Idaho; Idaho Falls and Salt Lake. Lillieth attended most of them with me. We have made several trips to the Pacific coast cities. In 1937, we attended a Rose Bowl game with Norm, where there were more than 87,000 people in attendance. We saw the Rose Bowl Parade, which was very beautiful. Norm took us to visit the battleship, Colorado, on which he was a Marine officer. We also ate dinner aboard ship with these Marine officers and then saw a picture show before returning to the mainland.