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Frank Archie Jefferies Biography

Frank Archie Jefferies Biography
by Sean Scott Jefferies

Frank Archie Jefferies was born in Grantsville, Utah on March 11, 1911 to Frank and Mary Jefferies. Archie, as he was known throughout his life, was blessed on March 26, 1911 by his grandfather, William Jefferies. (1)

Archie was baptized by Charles Fosier on March 23, 1919, and confirmed on March 24, 1919 by Brigham L. Watson. (2)

For the most part Archie lived a normal childhood, but during the course of his life he cheated death many times. He nearly drowned, was almost buried alive, and came close to losing an arm. One day he and a few friends went swimming at a pond. Not a good swimmer as a child, Archie somehow ended up in a section of the pond that was too deep for him to keep his head above water. A friend of his jumped in to try to save him, but Archie was a large young man and in his panic he pushed his smaller friend to the bottom and stood on him trying to get some air. Unfortunately his head still could not reach above the water. Another friend of his, Jack Johnson, saw what was happening and jumped in after the two drowning boys. Jack was also large (he would later be inducted into the Utah Hall of Fame as a pro football player) and he was able to drag his two friends up out of the pond. (3)

Another time as a child he fell off of a horse and damaged his right arm so badly that the doctor wasn't sure if he could save it. As it turned out, the doctor saved it, but set it so poorly that it healed with an awkward bend. From then on his shirts never quite fit right. (4)

As a youth, Archie was a good student, and athlete. He enjoyed basketball, track and debate.

In May of 1929, at the age of eighteen, he graduated from Grantsville High School and from the Grantsville High School Seminary. (5) He was ordained a Priest on November 19, 1929.

When Archie was of the age to go on a mission his father did not have the money to send him, so Archie went instead to work on the railroad. He had been active in the church until he was the age of a Priest, but the harsh environment of the railroad and the friends he made in his work eventually led him to become inactive. He began to drink and to smoke and remained inactive for most of the rest of his life. (6)

At the age of 24 Archie fell in love with a young woman named Irene Rushton. He worked in Nevada at the time, but on the weekends he would return to Utah to be with her. They arranged a wedding for June 17, but early in May he came home and told her he wanted to get married that weekend. Neither of Irene's parents were still alive and she lived with her brothers, and since they already had a ring she said, "Let's go!" They hopped into a car and were married in Evanston, Wyoming on May 4, 1936. When they returned to Utah three days later they stayed in her sister Becky's house. (7)

One day a few years after their marriage one of Irene's brothers called from California to tell her that she had an inheritance coming, and that she could either choose $300 or two acres of land in Hunter, Utah. Archie said he wanted the land, and in 1941 he began to build a house there. Growing up he had learned carpentry from his dad, and he was not afraid to try his hand at other things as well, so for his new house he did everything but the plumbing. He was a perfectionist and his house reflected that. Each bedroom had a hardwood floor with a different pattern. His house had tight whitewashed plank siding and was built with so many nails he claimed "it'll never fall down." Everything had to be fancy. Even the cement work had designs. As fancy as everything had to be, though, he never took out a loan to build the home. He worked on it only as he had the money. (8)

On August 17, 1941, his first child, a daughter he named Diane, was born. His second child, Kent, was born on June 1, 1944, and on January 14, 1946, his third child, Gene, was born.

During his life Archie did more than just carpentry. In 1947 he and his young family moved to Davis Dam, Nevada to help build the dam of the same name. Returning home to Hunter in 1951, he lived in the home he had built until 1955 when he went by himself to Ione, Washington to work on the Pend O'reille Dam. He lived there for nine months until he decided he did not want to continue living so far away from his family, and moved back to Hunter.

During his life he built everything from dams, to towers, to train overpasses. He also tackled electrical work and auto mechanics. According to Irene's sister-in-law, Leone, Archie was a visionary. He had considered a plastic brick years before the plastic sidings of today. He bought a machine to manufacture the insulation for his home. Ever a lover of outdoor sports such as hunting and fishing, he built a camper for his pickup long before the commercial manufacture of campers. (9)

In his middle-aged years in the early 1960's he began to raise rabbits, specializing in New Zealand Whites. Until this time he had been reclusive and temperamental, and his temper had kept his children from growing close to him as a father. The more involved in rabbit-raising he became, though, the more his temperament began to mellow. His youngest son, Gene, cannot remember ever being yelled at after that time. (10)

Archie quickly became well-known for the quality of the rabbits he raised. He won his first trophy in 1961 and in 1963 he was elected President of Beehive Rabbit Breeders Association, a post he held for several years. Once, a couple traveled to Iowa to try to buy some rabbits from a judge for the American Rabbit Breeders Association. The judge asked them where they were from, and they told him they were from Utah. When he heard that, he asked them why they had come clear to Iowa to buy rabbits. "Archie Jefferies has some of the best rabbits in the country right there in Salt Lake City," he told them. (11)

Archie traveled all over with his rabbits, going to such places as Calgary, Alberta; Ft. Worth, Texas; Denver, Colorado; and often to Kentucky. Once when Archie was driving the car on the way to Kentucky and Irene was in the passenger seat next to him, they passed a funeral procession going the opposite direction. After the last car in the procession passed them by, Irene remarked to Archie, "That was a long funeral procession." He replied, "What funeral procession?" Apparently, he had fallen asleep at the wheel! (12)

Years of smoking and industrial accidents took their toll on Archie's health. Once while working he fell backwards from a scaffolding, hit a pylon and bounced, and landed on his back the second time. His head was ok, but his second landing had collapsed a lung. A co-worker remarked as Archie walked by himself to the car that took him to the hospital, "He's a tough old b------!" (13)

His lungs were probably also damaged from years of breathing insulation such as asbestos. He eventually developed emphyzhema that forced him to use oxygen tanks to help him breathe.

In September, 1984 Archie's bishop dropped by his home. He told Archie that he had never asked anyone to go to the temple before, but he had been sitting in his office and received the feeling that he should talk to Archie about it. "Archie," the bishop asked him, "don't you think it's about time you took Irene through the temple?"

"I guess," Archie replied.

"This week?" asked the bishop.


"When?" questioned the bishop.

"Thursday," answered Archie.

On September 20, 1984, in his home, Archie was ordained an Elder by his son, Kent. The bishopric brought Irene and Archie their temple garments and made arrangements with the temple. On September 27, 1984, Irene and Archie received their Endowments and were sealed as a couple. (14)

In 1988 Archie became so sick that he was put into a rest home in West Jordan, Utah where he could receive constant care. Later that year he was moved to a rest home in Bennion, Utah. On September 19, 1988, Frank Archie Jefferies died of congestive heart failure. He was buried in Valley View Memorial Park in West Valley City, Utah on September 23, 1988. His large coffin, made of heavy, intricately carved wood, seemed to reflect well the life of the large perfectionist carpenter whose body it carried.

1. Official Church Records
2. ibid
3. Oral history interview with Gene Frank Jefferies, son of Frank Archie Jefferies, 8 Dec., 1998, by telephone from his home in West Valley City, Utah.
4. ibid
5. Grantsville High School Seminary Diploma for Frank Archie Jefferies
6. Oral history interview with Gene Frank Jefferies, 8 Dec., 1998
7. Oral history interview with Irene Jefferies, wife of Frank Archie Jefferies, 8 Dec., 1998, by telephone from her home in West Valley City, Utah.
8. ibid
9. From the funeral address for Frank Archie Jefferies given by his son Gene Frank Jefferies on Sept. 23, 1988.
10. Oral history interview with Gene Frank Jefferies, 8 Dec., 1998
11. ibid
12. From the funeral address for Frank Archie Jefferies given by his son Gene Frank Jefferies on Sept. 23, 1988.
13. ibid
14. Oral history interview with Irene Jefferies, wife of Frank Archie Jefferies, 8 Dec., 1998, by telephone from her home in West Valley City, Utah.

Frank Archie Jefferies Biography

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