What my Great-Grandmas taught me about Property Rights
For me, there was nothing better than growing up on a ranch in rural Southwest Idaho and living next door to my great-grandma Carrie. Most days after school, I would hop off the school bus and head directly to her house. Among other things, she taught me to cook pies and biscuits, to sew on her treadmill sewing machine, and to appreciate the experiences and history of my elders.
I will forever cherish the stories my great-grandma would tell me of her fascinating life. She had grown up in Missouri in a middle-class family that was hit hard in the great depression. She told me of riding a stagecoach out west and getting to ride shotgun next to the driver when she answered an ad as a 17-year-old to be a prairie schoolhouse teacher in the Idaho wilderness.
I was also told stories of my great-grandma Mattie on the Givens side of the family and the town and business she built. Grandma Mattie was left alone to raise 4 sons in the Idaho desert, and yet she built a commercial hot spring, hotel, school, and community in the late 1800s–1920s. Great-grandma Mattie also took in pioneer children who had been orphaned on the trip west, and provided them home and education.
Despite Mattie’s work in building her business and community, at that time in history, because she was a woman, she could not own the property in her own name. At one point in 1889, a man moved onto the property and tried to claim the land as his own. Thankfully, Mattie’s brother realized what was happening and was able to ride quickly and file a homestead claim in his own name at the nearby Silver City.
Shortly thereafter, he deeded the property to Mattie in a document that survives in the Owyhee County recorders office to this day.
This ownership provided security to my great-grandma Mattie and her family and she was able to continue to build and expand Givens Hot Springs in her name, passing it down to her sons. My parents and siblings continue to live on the property and run Givens Hot Springs to this day.
Like my great grandmother before me, I too know first hand the profound benefit of owning one's home and the security that ownership provides. Just 2 short years ago, my husband Bryan died suddenly. As devastating as his death has been on our children and me, homeownership has provided great stability.
Our wonderful home is filled with echoes of laugher, love, and the markings of a family. There are growth charts of the kids I’ve kept in ink, head-shaped dents in the walls from teenage boys roughhousing, and scratches on doors and doorknobs from our beloved dogs trying to break in.
There are notes written on mirrors and other glass surfaces to and from my husband and me, and to and from our kids. One of the last written by my husband on my bathroom mirror shortly before he passed was “Love You Wife”. I don’t want to clean or fix these marks of love and our family history – none of us do. This is our home. These are our memories
Property ownership is fundamental to the stability of families and businesses. Much of what my great-grandma Mattie was able to accomplish was because she owned her land. Much of the security that I provide my children, is because we have a place to call home.
I am running for the office of Salt Lake County Recorder because I believe more needs to be done to ensure your private property rights, especially when it comes to one's home. In a time of such instability, that reassurance is a critical stabilizer.
The Recorders Office must do better to ensure its obligation to the residents of Salt Lake County.
Candidate for Salt Lake County Recorder