This is a continuation of Pemberly Farnsworth’s story excerpted from her book, Distant Vision: Phil’s (Philo T. Farnsworth), entire life was characterized by the hope he could become an inventor like Alexander Graham Bell or Thomas Alva Edison. His burning desire to be an inventor caused him to constantly seek further scientific knowledge. He began learning about electricity from the Sears, Roebuck Catalog that back then was the wish-book for rural families nationwide. Because the toys he dreamed about such as motors and trains, required electricity to operate them, young Philo decided to make his own electricity from parts found around the farm that he attempted to fashion into a “perpetual motion” device. Although it failed to produce electricity, the disappointment was easier for his young mind to bear because he had, at least, created an invention.
To proceed toward his ultimate vision required more than a fascination for the electron, a talent for mechanical detail, and a thirst for knowledge. Philo needed to develop a faith not only in divine guidance but in him too. He needed to develop the courage, ingenuity, integrity and character to persist in his quest.
Lewis and Ronald, Lewis’s youngest son by his father’s first wife, Amelia were hired to help on a government project of clearing land for a town on the Uintah Indian Reservation in Northeastern Utah. Lewis had a brother and several grown sons living in Mountain Home, the nearest settlement. With their help, Lewis and Ronald built a one-room log cabin to house the family. The men needed to camp on the site of the project. Serena was pregnant with her fifth child, and Lewis was very reluctant to leave her, but they badly needed the work. He told eight-year old Philo he was to be the man of the house. He was to take the cow to find grazing spots, feed the pigs, milk the cow, and bring in wood for the cook stove. As befitting his new station and to make possible the herding of the cow, Philo was presented with a pony. He took great pride in having his own mare, Tippy. She received careful grooming and ample grazing.
Philo had many character-building experiences in his childhood. But to him one stood out among the rest. One day an important letter came for Lewis. Against her better judgment and with no other alternative, Serena allowed Philo to deliver it to the work site, some 12 miles away. Serena had cause for concern, because little Philo would be trekking through the foothills of the Uintah Range, where mountain lions and other wild animals were known to wander down from the mountains in search of food. Also, the Lake Fork Creek, usually a clear, easily crossable mountain stream, was an unpredictable hazard. When it rained in the mountains, the stream could swell quickly to many times its normal size. To reassure his mother, Philo told her about his father’s instructions. If Tippy pricked up her ears and snorted, that would indicate the presence of danger. If he let her run as fast and as far as she wanted to, she would get him out of danger. Since there were no signs of rain, Serena was reassured. Philo was up at dawn the next morning. He fed the pigs, milked the cow while his mother cooked his breakfast, then he was off in true pony-express style. Contemplating the many miles ahead of them, he slowed Tippy’s pace. Having been warned that mountain lions liked to leap from ledges or trees upon their prey, Philo was ever watchful of such places. As they reached the Lake Fork, he was uneasy to see the bushes crowding the road and the stream. Allowing Tippy only a few gulps of water, he urged her across the stream. The high praise and warm embrace he got from his father for delivering the letter and fresh baked bread and cookies his mother had sent made him feel ten feet tall. After watching the men work a while Philo started home. Noting the angle of the sun, he urged Tippy along.
As Philo came close enough to see the Lake Fork at the bottom of a deep ravine, he was horrified. In the short time since he last crossed it, it had swollen to a raging torrent. The high clouds over the mountains, which had not seemed to be a threat, had caused a flash flood. The fast-moving water frightened Philo. He knew it was dangerous to cross, but there was no way to get word to his mother. If he were not home by dark, she would be frantic. He had to do it! More concerned for his mother than for his own safety, Philo summoned enough courage to cross the angry stream. Tippy was a smart Mare; she had protected Philo more than once on their daily jaunts in search of grass. Now she hesitated; her every instinct told her not to enter that water. Displaying ingenuity Philo tied the reins together, wrapped strands of Tippy’s mane around his hands because he had no saddle and urged her into the water. The swift running water nearly swept him from her back; terrified, he dug his toes into her sides and clung for dear life. Although Tippy was in good shape, they were swept downstream. Through chattering teeth, Philo kept up words of encouragement, “You can do it girl! You can do it!” Eventually they neared the far side of the creek and getting her footing, Tippy climbed up the bank. Suddenly she snorted and laid back her ears and raced through the brush, it was only Philo’s grip of desperation that kept hold on her mane. She kept running in full flight until she reached safety at the top of the long hill leading out of that gully. To be continued.