thomas varley


Thomas Varley (1877-1952)

Thomas Varley (he had no middle name or initial) was the eighth of ten children born to William and Mary Ellen Varley. He was born in Bountiful on November 12, 1877. He was given a name and a blessing in the Church on August 5, 1879 by his father.

In 1895, Thomas was a teamster for his father. He was eighteen years old and was boarding at 239 West 5th North. From 1898 until 1901, Thomas worked for the Pacific Feed Mill company; first as a clerk, then a warehouse man and finally as an engineer. During this time he still resided at 239 West 5th North. In 1901, Thomas joined up with his father as WM. VARLEY & SONS, presumably in the lime producing business.

During the period 1904-1907, Thomas was a student at the University of Utah. I am not aware of his high school activities. I believe him to be the first of any Varley, at least in this line, to get so far with his/her education. While at the "U", he found success as a football player on the varsity team. He played center and gained an excellent reputation as an athlete. His teammates called him "Dudley". Also at the university, he participated in the design of the large concrete "U", which he helped build, on the mountain behind the campus, and which is still there. Another activity of his at the university was with a social fraternity. There was a local group with which he associated, which later became affiliated with the national fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. His oldest son, Thomas Scott, my oldest brother, also joined this same fraternity in 1927 and I, too, joined this group while I was a student there in 1940. I presume that Thomas paid his own way through the university. He was graduated from the University of Utah, at the age of 29, in June of 1907. His degree was in Mining Engineering. He was always called "Tom", so I will refer to him by that name from here on.

In the meantime, a young lady residing at 346 West First South, Salt Lake City, named Charlotte Louise Griggs, nicknamed "Lottie", was working as a dressmaker in 1900 and as a clerk in Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) during the years 1903-1907. How Tom and Charlotte met, and the conditions surrounding their courtship are unknown to me. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on June 26, 1907. Tom's oldest brother, William Jr., was, at this time , living in the Vineyard area of Utah County (west of present-day Orem).

The newly-married Thomas Varleys took up residence at #3 Goddard's Court, which ran north from 225 East on 2nd South. He remained in Utah as a Mining Engineer through 1912. It is known that Tom had some mining interests in the Alta and Park City mining districts, east of Salt Lake City during this time.

Around 1916, they moved to Seattle, Washington where Tom had accepted a position with the U.S. Bureau of Mines. In mid-1918, he was transferred to Salt Lake City, where he was with the Bureau, located on the University of Utah campus. They rented a home at 1254 East 5th South. Early in 1920 they moved to a home which they subsequently purchased on December 30, 1920, located at 607 South 11th East. I was born in that home on November 19, 1920.

During the period 1918-1928, Tom was affiliated with the bureau of Mines as Superintendent, and at times, with the University's Metallurgy Department. The family was now complete: Thomas and Charlotte, parents, with four children: Thomas Scott, Lynn Griggs, Charlotte M., and Charles Raymond.

While working on the campus, Tom obtained additional degrees: Metallurgy and Mineralogy. He also affiliated with the Theta Tau and Sigma Xi professional fraternities. sometime during the period 1927-28 he left the Bureau of Mines. I'm not aware of the circumstances surrounding this decision, but in retrospect, it was an apparent mistake, because the Great Depression of the Thirties hit shortly thereafter and Tom's financial problems seemed to never end form that time on. My first recollection of the real financial problems within the Thomas Varley family came about 1931-32, when, as a student at the Douglas Elementary School, I vividly recall not having even a nickel to spend on school party days, and conditions kept on getting worse. My recollections of family financial hardships during the period 1931-1943 are deeply engraved in my memory.

During 1928, Tom was President of the Utah Peruvian Lead Company; in 1929 was engineer for the Magna Gold Mines Company; in 1930 was engineer for the New Bingham Mary Mining Company; in 1932 was listed in Polk's Directory as a Mining Engineer and in 1933 was President of the Elko Chief Gold Mines, Inc. Evidently, none of these positions resulted in a successful nor stable mining income. He used to travel a lot during this period; even to Mexico, and he always brought home presents to me.

In addition to these various positions, he also was in business for himself as a consulting mining engineer. Around 1930 he had an office and laboratory on 10th East and 4th South. It was there that he taught me the essentials of assay work on minerals. Whether it was the Depression, bad luck or bad business/mining decisions, or all of these, I can't say, but the Thomas Varley family really suffered during those years. My sister, Charlotte, had obtained work with the Telephone Company, and I suspect that it was he financial contributions that more than helped keep the family from going completely under.

In spite of those difficult times, Tom remained a true and devoted University of Utah football fan, and always, as a "U"-Man, had tickets to their home games. He always took me to those games and I suppose that they were the times when he and I were the closest; walking to and from those games.

He seemed to enjoy cooking breakfast for the family and two of his creations which I enjoyed the most were his scones and dumplings. Then, too, he was great at making pancakes, and would wake us up in the mornings by standing at the foot of the stairs, making noises by beating the spoon against the pan.

Polk's Directory of 1935 lists Thomas as an auditor for the Utah State Tax Commission. I do not recall a thing about this job, nor for the one he is listed as having in 1937 as a field representative for the U.S. Reemployment Service. I do recall Dad's involvement with at least two endeavors: one was in the development of some sort of paint for striping highways, and another in the selling and installing of shingles over exterior walls of homes. (I even helped install some of those jobs). Neither of these adventures proved successful.

During the period 1936-1939, Tom spent a lot of time in various mining endeavors in Nevada and Colorado. I went to Nevada a lot during the summer months and worked in the mines. My brother, Lynn (Scott R. Varley's grandfather), also spent a lot of time working in the mines: places with names like Tuscarora, Rye Patch, Imlay, Mountain City, Elko and Winnemmucca. Tom worked for a Mr. George Copley. In early September, 1938, I had saved enough from my summer jobs to pay for my first year college education when my brother T. Scott came by and said that we should all pool our money and go "bail" dad out of Elko, Nevada. So we all put in what we could and T. Scott and I drove to Elko and paid what we could of Dad's bills and brought him home.

In late 1938, on the occasion of my eighteenth birthday, Tom, who was away in Granite, Colorado on another of his mining adventures, wrote me a letter which really gives an insight to both his feeling and condition at that time. It is quoted here:

In October of 1939, our home at 607 South 11th East was sold out from under us by the Sheriff, because of inability to meet payments and taxes. We (I was the only child still at home) moved to 668 3rd Avenue, where we lived with Dad's sister, Marie V. Owen, my aunt whom I dearly loved.

When World War II broke out for the U.S.A., we had moved to a small apartment at 908 South 11th East. Tom obtained a job in 1942 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Dugway and Toole, Utah. There was a great deal of military construction going on at that time. By 1948 the War ended, and so had Tom's job. I had returned from the War and settled in Hayward, California as an engineer for a road building contractor, Clements & Company. I got dad a job with this firm as a timekeeper on a couple of jobs at different locations in California. He came to visit me an my family at least once, and gave a great talk in one of our Ward's Sacrament Meetings.

By 1950, mom & dad moved into a small apartment at 668 east South Temple, #6, and I was then working in the Sacramento, California area. Mother had had a couple of nervous breakdowns and had developed Parkinson's Disease. In 1952, mother was confined to a nursing home and Dad was living alone in the apartment. My sister Charlotte called on him one day; June 13, 1952 and found him dead. His death was apparently instantaneous, and of a heart attack. He was 74 years old. All of his family and many friends gathered for the funeral and burial, which was in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Thomas Varley died with few or no earthly possessions; only a few cents in his pocket, and had cashed in all of his life insurance policies.

I never knew him to be sick a day in his life and to my knowledge was never in a hospital as a patient. He was about five feet ten inches tall, and of husky, but not fat build. He was bald on top and weighed about 180 pounds. I would describe him as a handsome man with a fair complexion and an upright bearing. He had a warm smile, and there was never a kinder, more gentle person. He was a very private person, in that he was quiet and reserved, opposed to being loud and bragging. I do not recall him saying an unkind word about anyone. That observation comes not just from me, but several persons who knew him well have told me the same thing. He and mother had their differences. She often called him "soft", but I'd have to disagree with that apparently negative comment. Perhaps mother was just frustrated at the dismal financial conditions which existed for most of their married life. True, he did have a most difficult time providing for his family from around 1929 on. This could have been the times, bad luck, the gambling instinct and nature of mining which got into his blood, poor judgment or poor business abilities. No matter what the reasons, Thomas Varley had a heart of gold, and to me was a good, kind father.

In politics, Tom was a staunch Republican. He had no hobbies as such that I knew of; he seemingly had no interest in home repair or handicraft type projects. He didn't seem to be interested in working with his hands on these type of projects. He kept no journal or diary.
Although he and mother were married in the Salt Lake Temple, I cannot recall that he was ever "active" in the Church. Whether or not he was a "true believer" in Mormonism, I can't say. He didn’t object to church activity by mom or any of his family, he just came across, to me, as just being neutral. I do know that on occasions he enjoyed a good cigar and never hid that fact from anyone.
Mother, Charlotte Louise Griggs Varley, spent the last few years of her life in physical and emotional strain, and died of a stroke, related to Parkinson's Disease, on February 4, 1958 in her 77th year.

The following is Thomas Varley's obituary as it appeared in the DESERT NEWS, Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, June 14, 1952:

Thomas Varley, Ex-U.S. Mining Official, Dies
Thomas Varley, 72, was found dead at his residence, 678 East South Temple St., Friday evening. Mr. Varley was a former U.S. Bureau of Mines official at both Seattle, Wash., and at Salt Lake City. He was a private mining consultant at the time of his death.
Mr. Varley died of apparently natural but unknown causes. His daughter, Mrs. Charlotte Smith, 1627 Sherman Ave., discovered the body.
A native of Salt Lake City, he was born Nov. 12, 1879, a son of William and Mary Ellen MacDuff Varley.
Mr. Varley engaged in mining activities in the Park City area in his youth. H later studied mining engineering at the University of Utah, and graduated from there in 1907. He received his professional engineering degree from there 1922, and was a member of Theta Tau and Sigma Xi engineering fraternities. He was on the University football squad.
He accepted employment with the U.S. Bureau of Mines after working with the Guggenheim interests in several western states as metallurgist.
At one time he was head of the bureau's Seattle experimental office, and later headed the bureau's Salt Lake experimental office at the University of Utah. He also headed the school's Department of Metallurgical Research.
Mr. Varley retired from government service about 1930, practicing as a private consulting metallurgist and mining engineer for several years before retiring.
He married Charlotte Griggs in Salt Lake City June 26, 1907.
His widow and his daughter, Mrs Charlotte Smith, survive him, Salt Lake City; three sons, Scott Varley, Salt Lake City; C. Ray Varley, Sacramento, Calif.; and Lynn G. Varley, Milford, Calif.; nine grandchildren, and a sister, Mrs. Catherine V. Astin, Washington D.C.

Thomas Varley 1930