Monday, April 23, 2012

In Their Own Words: Mary Elizabeth Ransom

This is an autobiographical account of Mary Elizabeth Ransom and her family, written toward the end of her life.

I, Mary Elizabeth Ransom, the daughter of James Rowley Ransom and Agnes Elizabeth Austin, was born 26 September, 1880, at Trenton, Cache County, Utah, the eldest of a family of eleven children, seven girls and four boys.

I was six years of age when my oldest sister, Agnes Amelia was born, having two brothers, James A. And William A., and no sister. I remember how thrilled I was when the told me I had a baby sister.

We lived on a homestead father had taken up prior to his and mother's marriage. It was about one mile north of where the city of Trenton is now located. It was a dry farm with no water only what we drew from a well. We lived in a one-room frame house which was the birth place of we four older children.

In the summer of 1881 Father and Mother came to Idaho with other families and camped in Big Canyon, where they cut ties for the railroad company, returning to our home in Trenton in the fall.

I can remember Father cutting rye with a reaper and Mother following, tying it into bundles by hand. While we were small children living in Trenton, Mother would never let us go very far from the house unless she was with us. I think that was because of so many tramps, as we called them. Many times she has taken us down to a little meadow northeast of our home, where we picked meadow flowers and thought that was a great treat.

Father was a good hand in the timber, and in a few years he and his brother Hyrum came to Idaho and found work at a sawmill in Soda Springs, Idaho. This being a long way to travel with ox team or horses, Father decided to move closer to his work. So in the year of 1887 we moved to Cleveland, Idaho, settling on Cotton Wood Creek. Here Father built a one-room log house, in which we lived.

The winters were very severe and the only way to get out of the valley was on snowshoes. The mail came in once a week, and some times only once a month.

We lived about five miles from the one-room schoolhouse, so I didn't get so very much schooling, only what my mother taught me. I am very thankful for these teachings. They have been a great help to me throughout my life. She taught me to sew, knit, crochet, also cord batts for quilts. I have also spun a little yarn to knit stockings.

My brother, John A., was born while we lived on Cotton Wood Creek. I have had some good times fishing and wading in that old stream.

I was baptized in Cotton Wood Creek at Cleveland, Idaho, 4 May 1889, by Ole Hansen, and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by James (Jence) Christensen, May 4, 1889.

We went back to Trenton, Utah in January of 1891 to spend the remainder of the winter, as there was an epidemic of measles in the valley and Mother, not feeling too well, hoped to escape them. But she didn't escape the measles and was very ill with a high fever for some time before giving birth to twin girls, Elvira and Elvina, 28 February 1891. They, too, had the measles. Mother was so ill and her eyes were swollen so badly she did not see her twin babies until they were nine or ten days old.

In April, 1891, we moved from Cotton Wood Creek to the divide between Cache Valley and Gentile Valley, Father moving the one-room log house up there, where it still stands at this writing, 26 September, 1959, as part of the old home. Four more children were born to them at this home, Violet, Thomas A., Verna, and Annie. There I spent the rest of my childhood days and that old home has some very dear memories for me.

My parents were not blessed with too much earthly means but were blessed with a testimony of the Gospel. Many times I have heard my father bear his testimony in meetings to the truthfulness of the Gospel and that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, and that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of God. I have also heard my mother bear her testimony in Relief Society meetings. And they taught all their children those truths, also teaching them to observe the Word of Wisdom, which I believe they all do.

In the spring of 1898 I met George Burton of Bountiful, Davis County, Utah. After a six months courtship we were married 13 October 1898, in the courthouse at Salt Lake City, Utah, by an Elder Slone. We spent two or three weeks at George's old home in Bountiful, Utah, with his sister Mary and her family, his parents having both passed away prior to this time. We then came back to the home of my parents, where I spent the winter and my husband went on the desert with the sheep. He was working for Hyrum Stewart of Kaysville, Utah. Wages were thirty dollars a month.

He stayed with the sheep until March, 1899, then came home and homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of land adjoining my father on the north. We moved a little frame cabin on the land to live in, and during that summer we built a log house, twelve by twenty-five feet, and moved into our new home before the winter weather began. Later we partitioned it off, making us two rooms.

On Christmas day, 25 December 1899, our first child, Ethel, was born. What a sweet little girl she was. And what a happy event that was in our lives. It was a very cold night, and my husband spent most of the night chopping wood to keep baby and I warm. My dear mother stayed with us until baby was nine days old, and we got along just fine.

It was hard times and my husband had to spend much of his time away from home working with the sheep to keep food and other necessities in the home, that being about all the work he could get.

In August, 1901, we went to Salt Lake City, Utah, with team and buggy, and on 21 August 1901 went through the Salt Lake Temple and were sealed for time and all eternity. Our daughter Ethel was sealed to us at this time. What a happy day that was for us. After spending a few days with my husband's sisters, Mary Ann and Sarah Ann and families in Bountiful, we returned home.

On 12 October 1901 our oldest son, George R., was born. What a nice little family we had now, blessed with a girl and a boy.

In the following years eleven more children came to bless our humble little home, each one being loved just as the first one, and just as sweet. In order of birth their names are: Mary, James R., William R., Vera, Orella, Rulon R., Mildred, Elvina, Willis R., Lincoln R., and Delma, making us the parents of thirteen children.

William R., Orella and Delma passed away early in life and are buried in the cemetery at Cleveland, Idaho.

I was chosen Secretary in the Relief Society of the Wilson Ward on 11 June 1916, and was set apart by my father, James R. Ransom, Mary E. Lundgren being the President. I was also chosen as senior teacher in the YLMIA 15 October 1916. And on 12 November 1916, I was chosen as First Counselor in the YLMIA of the Wilson Ward, my sister Elvina being the President.

After Mary E. Lundgren moved from the ward I was chosen President of the Wilson Ward Relief Society. My mother, Agnes E. Ransom and Annie Ames were my counselors. I held this position until they annexed the ward back to the Cleveland Ward.

My son George left to serve in the Eastern States Mission 25 June 1924, returning home in August 1926, having fulfilled an honorable mission.

On 13 March 1927 I was chosen President of the Cleveland Ward Relief Society, and was set apart 30 April 1927 by Henry Larson, which position I held for five years, then was released because of poor health. From my home to the Cleveland Ward meeting house and back was a distance of about ten miles. Many times I have saddled my horse and made this trip to attend Relief Society meeting. I also served as a visiting teacher in the Cleveland Ward Relief Society.

On the 22 January 1940 my son Willis entered the mission home in Salt Lake City prior to his departure for the Central States Mission, where he labored in the service of the Lord for two years, fulfilling an honorable mission, returning home 21 February 1942.

After he returned home from his mission he was called into the service of his country for four years. I think it was in August 1942 when he entered the service.

On march 4, 1944 my husband was killed accidentally with a horse while on the desert with Foss and Mecham Sheep Company. His funeral was held at Cleveland, Idaho, 9 March 1944. He, too, is buried in the cemetery at Cleveland, Idaho. Willis was still in the service of his country when his father was killed. Those were very sad and anxious years for me. To think of them bring back to me many sad and heartbreaking memories. Only through prayer and the comforting spirit of my Heavenly Father was I able to stand the trying ordeal.

On 21 September 1944 another little grandson, Lincoln Edward (Eddie) was born. He was a great joy and comfort to me, as I spent many lonely hours playing with and caring for him. His parents were living in part of my home.

In the fall of 1946 my daughter Mildred and I moved from our home on the divide to Cleveland, Idaho, and lived in a little just across the road from my son Rulon. We lived there about five years. While living there my daughter Mildred was called to serve in the Canadian Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

In February, after Mildred returned home from her mission, we went to Bremerton, Washington and spent five months with my daughter Ethel and her family, returning home in June.

In November, 1951, my daughter and I moved to Preston, Idaho, settling in the Second Ward, where we lived for three years. While living there I served as a Relief Society visiting teacher. On 24 January 1955 we bought this little home in the Preston First Ward, and moved into it on 26 January. I was called to serve as a visiting teacher in the Relief Society soon after I moved here and have served in this capacity ever since.

I have been blessed wonderfully by the Lord during my life and my prayers have been answered many, many times. I have heard the whisperings of the spirit to me on many occasions, also have been healed from my afflictions by the Elders through the power of the Priesthood.

I was given my Patriarchal Blessing by W. W. Sterrett, 13 June 1908.

I have ten living children, thirty-nine grandchildren, and fifty-five great grandchildren, a posterity of one hundred and four at this writing.

On the 18th of October 1959 I attended the Oneida Stake Conference when my son Willis was called and set apart as Second Counselor in the Oneida Stake Presidency by Elder Mark E. Peterson of the Council of the Twelve. What a thrill it was. Tears of joy filled my eyes.

I love my little home here where my daughter Mildred and I live a happy and contented life and love the work I do in the Ward.

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