It was love at first sight.
As soon as I saw it I knew the house would be mine. There was still snow on the ground in spring of 2017 when I heard about an affordable rental in Kamas. The owners and I had mutual friends. The house had been empty for a year because of the owners poor health they couldn’t visit from Virginia.
As I sat under the century old trees lining the road, I said a prayer. When I opened my eyes my mind heard “this house needs you and you need it”. I have always loved old things, houses, antiques and especially people. I moved into the house by summer and enjoyed their furnished house. After a year of renting, I purchased the house and I named it the Canary Sanctuary. It was going to be a safe place with clean air and energy. I began asking the town about past owners of my home.
I learned about Olive. She was born in Kamas on January 18,1893 to John Wehrli Carpenter and Martha Jane Turnbow. Olive’s father was an entrepreneur and everything he touched was successful but he was very trusting and was often taken advantage of.
He started a sawmill. He had a two story store, a dance hall and an opera house. The opera house would have hypnotists, silent films and gatherings. The opera house burned down. Later, the same location LaVere “Larry” Holt’s electronic shop was there.
When Olive was in her late teens, her dad, John W. Carpenter moved to California. His wife (Martha) didn’t want to move so she stayed behind with the children. They were later divorced. This was so shameful in the early 1900’s that Olive never talked about it.
Olive married Bernard Edward (Eddie) Evans on her 22nd birthday January 18, 1915. She lived at 95 East 400 South from the time she was married until the end of her life.
Recent photo of the home
The house was originally owned by Eddie’s father and they inherited it. They owned ½ of the block. They had cows, horses, chickens, goats and pigs. They farmed food for themselves to eat. Olive rarely went places. Many didn’t know her. There are photos of Olive and Eddie farming the land. They had an outhouse to the west of the house. There were two entrances one on the north and the other on the south side. Both led into the parlor which was only for special guests and occasions. Both entrances had porches that mirrored each other. The back porch on the south side is now enclosed for storage. The door on the west side was there but was only a family entrance.
Olive’s great niece and long time local Kelly Blazzard spent much time there when she was a young girl between the ages of 10-14. Olive’s grand-daughter Lacy was her best friend. Kelly remembered that Olive was kind and a very hard worker and at that time Olive’s husband Eddie had heart problems and would sit in the southeast corner of the room in the parlor and rock all day long. Kelly continued to tell me how she stayed for dinner one night and they had meat, a rarity in those days. Kelly liked the meat, even though it was a little tough. She found out it was goat meat. Because they didn’t have meat often it was a treat.
Olive had 6 children and also raised her granddaughter Lacy. Many remember how Olive made delicious sugar cookies that she kept in the pantry. There was a yellow canary in a birdcage by the kitchen window that would sing when the sun was shining. I found it uncanny that I named my house “The Canary” long before hearing this. Kelly also recalled that the Evan’s had an outhouse just west of their house. Her family had indoor plumbing so this was something memorable to her.
Olive or Mrs. Evan’s, as neighbor Ray Bether’s calls her, sold off ¼ of the block to Ray Bether’s for $3000 in 1959. Eddie had died 10 years earlier, from heart problems. They never had a steady income and lived modestly. Olive outlived her husband by 33 years.
Recently, I found Olive Evans gravesite in the old Kamas Cemetery, nestled in the shade of a large juniper tree.
That’s when I knew I would write about her.
Gratitude goes to Beverly Holt Bemis and her grandmother Eleanor Maria Carpenter Holt for preserving photos and history of Kamas, Utah.
(If you have information you would like to share about a Kamas local or it’s buildings please contact Chris McLaws at 435-513-1500)