History of Ruth Powell

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Ruth Powell Arnold was born 8 February 1857 in Lancaster, Worsley, England. She is the daughter of Joseph Powell and Elizabeth Johnson and was the eighth child born in a family of ten children. Of the ten children in this family, eight were girls and two were boys. When she was nine years of age, the family joined the Mormon Church. Later her father presided over a small branch of the church for several years. Her father was a wheelwright by trade and made wheels for carriages and other vehicles. Her grandfather, Thomas Powell, was a boat builder and a very fine carpenter. Ruth's grandfather (on her mother's side) was named William Johnson, and his profession was bookkeeping. Her grandmother was named Elizabeth Johnson.

The family never owned a home of their own, but rented as most English people did in those days. They lived in a two-story building called a tenement house. The fashions in those days were hoop skirts for the girls and knee trousers for the boys. When the children were young they wore wooden shoes. The Mormon Elders used to stay in the Powell home. The girls of the family used to dem it an honor and privilege to be able to blacken and polish the shoes of the missionaries.

Ruth's mother had exceptional strong faith. On one occasion she was blessed with a gilt of tongues while bearing her testimony in Relief Society Meeting.

The family was preparing to come to Utah when her father contracted pneumonia and died. Ruth was only 13 years of age at the time of her father's death. Just before he passed away he sang the song, "O My Father." After his death the family had to remain in England for four years. During this time Ruth had to support the family. She worked in a factory pulling large wheels back and forth by hand. The building was very damp as there was only floor on part of it, none where she worked. One morning when she went to work, there was a large snake in the building. Some of the workers killed the snake, but she and some of the girls took it and put it where the boss sat. When he saw it, he grabbed a large iron rod and began killing it all over again. When he found that it was dead already, he felt foolish and knew the girls had played another joke on him.

At the age of 16 she, with her mother and two younger sisters, Alice and Mary Anne, emigrated to Utah. They sailed on the ship "Idaho" and settled in Salt Lake City. When they arrived in Utah they were very poor and she and her younger sister had to go out and find work among total strangers.

Prior to coming to Utah, Ruth attended school as a young child in a school close to their home in a grove of trees. She loved this place very much and later in life would often tell her children about it. She learned a prayer in this school that all the children sang every morning before classes. It was the first prayer she taught her children, when they were old enough to pray. This is the prayer..."Jesus tender shepherd hear me, bless the little lambs tonight. Clothe and feed me, listen to my evening prayer - goodnight." She was taken out of school at a very young age to care for the baby at home. Her mother was stricken with erysipelas which left her hang crippled. This made it very difficult for her mother to care for the home and baby. This ended Ruth's school days and throughout her life she always longed for more education.

When Ruth was a young girl it was the custom for the working class of people to go uptown for their evening meal. The merchants would sell their produce on the street and there would be a lunch counter where they could order almost anything they desired to eat. On Saturday nights it was almost like our 4th of July nights her in America. She would often take her Saturday night's walk to a nearby place called Worsley Dam and Lord Duncan Hall. Later when a friend of the Arnold family went back to England on a mission for the church, he visited the old place where Ruth grew up.. He went to visit Ruth's sister, Phoebe Nailor, whose husband operated a butcher shop. This sister remained in England.

After coming to Utah Ruth went to work for Amos George Arnold who had advertised for a hired girl. Later they were married in the Endowment House on 26 June 1876. His wife had died, leaving a son by the name of George Stephen. At the time of her marriage to Amos Arnold, this son was eight years old. She not only took this boy and reared him to manhood but also took care of his elderly grandmother until she passed away.

Four children were born to this union in Utah. Death came to the eldest girl at the age of 18 months, just before the second daughter, Ruth, was born. On 13 June 1883, they decided to make a new home for themselves and family, so they traveled by horse and wagon to Rexburg, Idaho, a newly settled country. They came in company with George Briggs, Sr., and his family, On their way to Rexburg they met some Indians. This frightened Ruth and she began to cry as she was afraid the Indians would take her baby, but the others helped protect her and the baby. This baby was Henry, who was only three months of age at that time.

After arriving in the Rexburg area, they made their home in what was known at that time as Lyman. Later this community was Archer. Four of their children (Phoebe, Edith, Emma, and Elbert) were born there. Later Ruth and her husband homesteaded on a farm a few miles from there. They kept this farm for only a short time. They then took up another farm a few miles north of this location and there they lived for the remaining years of their lives. In this home the rest of their children (Bertha, Cora, Lucy, Ernest Dewey, Thomas Stanley, and Estella) were born. This made 13 children born to this couple.

The second daughter, Ruth, passed away at the age of 23, leaving a small son of three. Phoebe died 10 months later at the age of 16. Estella, the baby girl, died 11 months after Phoebe's death. The death of these three children was very hard on the mother as she sacrificed very much for her family.

While living in their first place in Archer, they lived for a period of time in tents until they could build a home. When they finally did build a home it was a two-room log house. During that time the mosquitoes were so thick they had to remain inside the tent most of the time with the children.

Later when a ward was organized, they held meetings in the log house until a church house was built. The first office Ruth held was second counselor to the president of the Relief Society. She was also a Relief Society teacher for many years. Because she was in such poor health, Ruth had to remain at home most of the time. She used to knit all the stockings and undergarments for her family, as people were unable to buy the things they needed in those days.

She cooked many meals for the church leaders when they came to visit the ward. She always enjoyed their visits and looked forward to their coming to her home, as she was unable to attend so much of the time because of her illness.

Her health failed her early in life, and after a long illness she passed away 21 December 1907. She was buried in the Archer cemetery. At the time of her death she was 51 years of age. Six children were still at home at the time of their mother's death.

Ruth Powell Arnold was a noble soul and a woman of great character. She had a very kind disposition and was sweet and good to all people that knew her. She loved her family beyond measure and her church with equal fervor. She never spoke unkind words about anyone and only thought good of all people. She loved so very much to have the Relief Society women come to her home and always gave them a liberal donation whenever she could. She loved the gospel with all her heart and stayed true to its teachings to the end of her life.

Written by: Emma Arnold Smith (daughter)
Route 1
Thornton, Idaho
Dated: 11 July 1963

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