This biography was printed in July 1980 by the William Halls Family Organization in its family periodical,
Through the Halls of History
Kristine Halls Smith, editor
© 1980 William Halls Family Organization
Eliza Moiselle Halls Shepherd was the 8th child and 6th daughter of William Halls (1834-1920) and Johanne Marie Frandsen (1855-1913)
Early in the year 1885, Johanne Frandsen Halls and her husband William were preparing for changes in their lives. The family was getting ready to leave their home in Huntsville, Utah, and they were also anticipating the birth of their eighth child. The baby was born on February 15, 1885 and they gave her the name of Eliza Moiselle Halls. When the baby was just three months old, William and Johanne loaded their belongings into a wagon and took their eight young children -- Anna, Mary, David, Lucy, Emma, Sarah, Lewis, and, of course, baby Eliza to head south to their new home. Also with them were two of William's older sons by his first wife, William Jr. and Thomas, and Johanne's mother, Kjersten Jensen Frandsen, or “Grandma Frandsen”, as she was known to the children.
The family settled first in Bluff, Utah for about a year, then moved on to Mancos, Colorado where they established a permanent home. Eliza grew up in Mancos, attending school, participating in church activities, and contributing her share of work to the large family. In Mancos, Eliza's parents had four more children -- Franklin, Eleanor, Herbert, and Florence.
Eliza was 33 years old when she married John Wilbern Shepherd on Christmas Eve, 1918. Unfortunately, we know very little about her husband, and there were no children who can give us more information. We rely, therefore, on her extended family’s memories.
Her sister Florence, 9 years younger, wrote: "Eliza was a baby in arms when the family left Utah to travel to Mancos, Colorado, stopping in Bluff for a brief time on their way. It is hard to visualize the difficulties traveling mostly by foot with a family of eight young children. Our Grandma Frandsen was also with them. Father built a log cabin close to a range of high mountains. It had a living room, kitchen and fireplace, and an upstairs bedroom, which could be reached by an outside staircase. One bedroom was added to the cabin for Grandma and another room was used as a dining room and kitchen. It is amazing how so many people could live in such small quarters.
"Eliza was not as adept in household duties such as cooking and sewing as my other sisters, but she had other qualities which were superior. She could pick a bucket of cherries or berries faster than anyone. Like most of the others, she also went to Provo to finish her education. She took lessons on the piano and later taught school in Webber. She purchased a piano for our home and was a good musician. Eliza took a business course and worked in a lawyer's office in Salt Lake City for several years. During that time she was especially interested in my welfare, buying my clothing and books while I was in training in the LDS Hospital.
"Eliza and our sister Emma moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she worked in the Southern Pacific office. She married John Shepherd, who was a mechanic in the Southern Pacific shop. When the business was transferred to San Francisco, she left Tucson and worked in the same office. Later, when her husband died, she built a small home in Tucson, where she resided until her death on September 2,1964. When looking back on her life I feel a deep sense of gratitude and love. It would have been very difficult for me to finish my education without her. She was always ready to help me at the time it was most needed."
Florence's daughter, Florence Louise Gerdel, recalls Eliza’s many visits to their home in California: "I knew Aunt Eliza better than any of Mother's brothers and sisters since she visited us very often and was very fond of Geraldine and me. She was a jolly, loving person. Eliza and Emma lived in Salt Lake together before either were married. Mother mentioned how much they helped her when she left Mancos and went in training at L.D.S. Hospital.
"When Aunt Eliza was working in San Francisco, she used to come to Vallejo on the ferry boat occasionally for a visit. It was a trip of about an hour and 45 minutes. She might come carrying some Japanese umbrellas or other interesting thing for the two of us, waving and smiling and totally oblivious of what other passengers might think. I still have some of the puzzles she picked up in Chinatown. But more than the things, I remember how cheerful she was. One of her favorite expressions was 'Oh, pshaw'. When she came she was already for adventure, and if it happened to be a week day would say to Mother, 'Well, what are we going to do today?' Mother, of course, had her day already set, with the housework and getting meals, etc. Once she asked Aunt Eliza to wash the spinach, thinking that would take a while and give her something to do. In about three minutes it was all over, and she was ready for the next thing! With Mother, washing spinach was a process and not something done in a couple of swishes through water. Aunt Eliza was very quick with her hands and was well thought of in her office work because of her abilities there. Cooking and sewing were not her forte, by any means.
"She used to work at the Tucson Inn during the winter season when it was the fashion for people to go to Arizona for the winter for warmth or for their health. One of the people that she worked for a number of times was Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, taking care of her room and doing personal things for her. Aunt Eliza was a very friendly person, and they became friends in the way that the rich can with someone working for them (not on a social level). Anyway, Mrs. Rockefeller suggested to Aunt Eliza that if she should ever be in New York City that she should visit her. And, one day, Aunt Eliza did! I guess they had a good afternoon together.
"Uncle Jack bought a Ford car one day, although they had never had a car and neither one knew how to drive. Aunt Eliza went right down to the agency and scolded the salesman for letting Jack buy one. But he persuaded her that she ought to learn to drive and that she might get a lot of use out of the car. She thought it over and decided to keep the car and learn how to drive. I was with her for a short visit in Tucson once and saw the good care she gave the car. One thing she always did when she was going to drive somewhere was first get down on her hands and knees and feel all over the tires to see if there was anything like a sharp pebble or tack in the rubber, hoping to avoid a flat tire on the road. Aunt Eliza never had much money and lived very simply and carefully in her little house. One part was adobe. She had some kind of a desert cooler to keep the temperature bearable in the hot season."
Eliza’s nephew David Brown, son of Mary, grew up near Eliza in Tucson and remembers that she was always full of energy, always very friendly, and her house was always neatly kept. He and his wife were treated to a delicious turkey dinner during one visit.
Eliza’s brother Bert’s wife Nina wrote: "Eliza encouraged Bert to enter the University of Utah when he returned from his mission and offered to finance him. Unfortunately, ill health forced Bert to quit school, and he returned home to Mancos to help his brother Dave with the farm work.
"I met Eliza for the first time when she visited us at Rico, Colorado in the summer of 1947. She and a friend had come to Mancos so that Eliza could visit with her family, and Dave brought them to Rico for an overnight stay. I remember that she insisted that Dave stop along the highway so that she might pick some wild chokecherry berries.
"I remember how kind Eliza was to me during one difficult time in my life. My son Robert and I lived in an apartment in Salt Lake during most of my husband Bert's long hospitalization. Eliza started writing to me and her letters were most sympathetic. One day I received a letter with a nice check enclosed, and the instructions were that I was to go to town and buy myself a nice new hat. Hats were not being worn much at that time by women, but I did need a new permanent, so I did adorn my hair and head.
"She worried over my welfare while Bert was in Veterans Hospital at Grand Junction and wrote me often She felt the family should get together and help me financially, but I told them that I did not need help for the necessary things and could not spend the money for luxuries, so I returned the first check and asked that no more be sent.
"Eliza remembered me in her will. I took the money and completely redid one of the rooms in my house. I had a beautiful brick glass window installed, and it is a joy to behold when the sun shines on it. It is a monument to the memory of a very dear sister‑in‑law."
Paul Lansing, her sister Emma’s son, remembers his Aunt Eliza well: "When my father died in Salt Lake City, Aunt Mary and Uncle Charlie (Brown) sent for Aunt Eliza, Mother (Emma Halls Lansing) and me to move to Tucson. Aunt Eliza and my mother obtained jobs with the Southern Pacific Railroad, and I attended grammar school. We lived together until my mother was transferred to San Francisco. Aunt Eliza remained in Tucson where she worked with the president of the Southern Pacific. Aunt Eliza married Jack Shepherd and they lived in a house on the company grounds, where I visited them one summer. After my mother died and I was married, Aunt Eliza would travel from Tucson to San Francisco to visit us and the three of us would travel to Vallejo to visit with Aunt Florence."