My name is Alice Jane Cannon. However, there’s more to my name than just a name. I am a compilation of two of my grandmothers—both of which are the source of many of my talents, interests, dislikes, and personality. As I have grown up, I’ve had the opportunity to know my Grandmother Margaret Jane. On the contrary, the only memories I have of my Great-Grandmother Alice are of her funeral when I was just two. I hear countless stories of my Great-Grandmother’s life and how incredible she was, so I wanted to know more about her. I interviewed my dad about his Grandma Alice and the following is the story he told me:
“It was April 18th of my senior year. Grandma Alice was very involved in genealogy and had just finished writing a book on her genealogy. Grandma and Grandpa had relatives in Cedar City and wanted to hand deliver the book to them. They left on a Wednesday and were supposed to make it back to my Aunt’s home Sunday night for dinner, but Grandma and Grandpa never showed up. My Aunt starting calling around and backtracking their route. It was discovered the had never made it to St. George, but had found a motel in Cedar City. With no further details and still missing, a giant search was started. Airplanes, cops, firemen, and even search and rescue went to search for Grandma and Grandpa. My dad went with them to search, but I had to stay back for school.
There was a report on Monday about a car being stuck on a road in the area of the hotel. Although the reported car was the same make as Grandma and Grandpa’s car, the reported color wasn’t theirs. It wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon when the car was found, the connection made, and the confirmation that the car was theirs. It was muddy and snowy, and there were tracks the police were trying to follow. For fear that the public would come to the scene and mess up the tracks, the police hid the fact that they found the car.
Police noticed the two sets of footprints. One set had a cane, which helped distinguish whose prints were whose. The found Grandpa John early Thursday morning—about 8 am or so, and he had passed away. The police radioed down to the city, and there was a boy in high school that had a blazer that was able to get up the mountain to retrieve Grandpa’s body. They pulled the boy out of school to drive dad and the police up the mountain so Dad could identify the body. It was herowing drive because of the mud and snow, and no one had made this trip yet that year. It took three or four tries to get up the road. Dad confirmed that it was Grandpa’s body.
Soon after, word hit that Grandma Alice had been found alive about a quarter mile from where they found Grandpa John. She was frostbitten very badly, but okay. She had been missing for a whole week.
Now that Grandma Alice was found alive, they were able to get the complete story from her. She said that grandpa wanted to go to Pine Valley because there were family graves located there, and as a young boy, he had herded sheep in Pine valley. They ended up going down the wrong road and couldn’t turn around. Finally they tried and ended up getting their car stuck Thursday morning. They stayed with the car for much of Thursday, and no one stopped to help. Grandpa had looked at the map and decided that Pine Valley wasn’t too far away. It would only be a short walk. So, they started walking—Grandma in her pumps and Grandpa in his normal shoes. They didn’t have coats, but it was okay because the walk wouldn’t be too far. Grandma was struggling to walk because the creek was running full, and the mud was pulling her shoes off. It was getting cold and dark, so they huddled in under the pine tree, and they couldn’t get much sleep because grandma Alice felt like she was going to roll over into the creek. They started walking again Friday morning, and made it to the end of the trees, and crested the ridge. There was a sign that said Pine Valley, 17 miles. They knew they were in trouble, so they walked all night and day, and came upon a fork in the road. To the left side, there was a rock with a hole. They put sagebrush in the crack, and then laid down on it to sleep.
The next morning, Grandpa got up and Grandma was too tired, so he went looking for shelter. He was gone all day and came back in the evening. He described a cabin and estimated about a walk of 20 miles.
At the time, Grandpa was 85, wit h double hip replacements on both hips. It was a miracle he had walked thus far, but was exhausted now. He had crossed rivers and streams, and he described the place. He told Grandma to go, but he was too exhausted to go. He then told Grandma that he had a dream the previous night that this was the place he would die, but Alice would live. She needed to live and tell the story to the grandkids. They stayed up all night fighting, and eventually fell asleep. Because the crevice they were sleeping in wasn’t very wide, Grandpa slept at the edge so that Grandma would stay warm. Grandpa ended up slipping out of the crevice a little bit. It snowed that night about 8 or 9 inches, and Grandpa froze to death. In fact, when Grandpa was found, the snow had created what looked like a blanket. He looked very peaceful and just asleep.
Grandma wasn’t able to think very clearly when she found him dead, and her feet were frozen. She started walking back to the car, and was hungry, and had just spent a freezing cold night outside. Because of her physical condition, she had to sit every few steps. In this process, Grandma had somehow turned around, and about a quarter mile away from the rock, and found a little cabin that was hidden. There was a woodpile on the porch. She climbed up, broke the window, and rolled into the cabin. She found a jar of jam in the fridge, ate the whole thing, get wood and built a fire. When it got too hot, her feet would thaw and it would hurt really bad, so she would go outside to refreeze her feet. Grandma only ate very little because she felt it was stealing. She melted the snow for drinking water. There were mice constantly running around on the floor, which she didn’t like either. She sat for three days until the sheriff showed up on the porch. Sheriff said, “Are you Alice Cannon?” And she said, “Yes, are you here to arrest me?” She thought she was in trouble for breaking in. The sheriff began to cry. “We never thought we would find you alive,” Turns out, the sheriff had seen the smoke from the fire and followed it to the cabin where Grandma was staying.
This incident was all over the news, and Grandma even made it on the cover of the National Enquirer and given the title, “Gutsy Grandma”.
One of her feet had to be amputated and the other had to be amputated right below the knee. Grandma experienced phantom pain, and her fake leg would always hurt. She would have the grandkids scratch it.
Grandma hated the attention, and when she was arriving at the hospital, paparazzi’s and the news were there taking photos of her. She told my cousin Shauna to throw herself over Grandma because she didn’t want the attention. She was too shy.
Later on, the sheriff came and took all relatives, including us, to walk us through the events of the ordeal. We got to see where the car was stuck, where they walked, the rock, and even the cabin. The owners of the cabin ended up being there during the tour, and they let us go in and see the cabin. They said, “it’s really kind of a miraculous thing because of the legend of the cabin. When it was built, 70-80 years previous, there had been a prayer dedicating the cabin that said it would be a refuge from the storm.” It definitely was a refuge for Grandma Alice.