History of Ruth Mosher1
1 This history was copied by MaDonna Nelson Lemon a great-grand-daughter June 1975. It was taken from a copy given to her by an aunt, Lilith Mitchell Hobbs, in 1946 and was apparently written by Ruth Mosher’s daughter, as she refers to her as mother. Hardcopy text was digitized by David R. Pack February 2011, lightly edited (a few typos and basic punctuation errors were corrected), and a few sentences added from an apparently later and unidentified transcription (placed within brackets).
Ruth Mosher was born in Kingston, Canada,* April 12, 1824. Her father’s name was Silas Mosher and her mother’s name was Martha Van Cura.
- Ruth Mosher’s birth place is given as Prescott, Grenville-Dundas, Ontario, Canada on index card to Nauvoo Temple Records. She was endowed 7 Feb. 1846.
[Van Cura is a Dutch name. The Moshers came from England.] Also, she was of Irish and German descent and her parents were of the sturdy pioneer type. Her father operated a saw mill, after he moved to New York State, when Ruth was three years of age. They settled at St. Lawrence Corners on Lake Erie.
In the winter time they would go across the St. Lawrence River on the ice into Canada to visit with their relatives. The women would get in a cutter and the men would take turns pushing and pulling them across on the slick ice. On several occasions when they were across the river the ice would start breaking up and they would have to make the return trip by jumping from one block of ice to another, pulling the cutter behind them. In some places the cracks would be two feet wide.
Ruth was the fifth of ten children. She was raised on a large farm bordering timber land. They used to turn the cows out in the timber to feed and Ruth would bring them in and milk them. It was also her job to carry her father’s lunch to him down the narrow forest bordered roadway to the saw mill. One night, when her father was coming home from work, a panther jumped out of the timber at him. He caught the animal’s eye and walked on home. When he reached the clearing the animal ran away.
When Ruth was ten years of age her parents heard Mormon Elders were going to be speaking in the vicinity. Being very much opposed to Mormonism they forbade any of their children to go to any of these meetings. Ruth ran away and attended the meeting. She said that although she was just a child, she would never forget the feeling that came over her. She was so filled with the Spirit of the Lord that the words of the Elders just thrilled her, she knew from that moment that the Gospel was true. The Elders who brought the message to her were Warren Parrish and Ira Patten. When her parents heard that she had been to the meeting they were very angry with her and forbade her going again, but every time she heard of a meeting she stole away and attended it.
When she was twelve years of age she weighed 180 pounds, later she lost weight and her average weight was about 130 until later years when she grew heavier again. She continued attending meetings when ever the Elders were in that vicinity and witnessed a few baptisms. Two of these baptisms were of a Sister Maynard and her husband. Sister Maynard was a tailor[ess] and Ruth went to her home and learned the tailor trade. This was very useful to her in later years.
She was baptized in a hole cut in the ice in the St. Lawrence River at St. Lawrence Corners by Jesse Crosby when she was 20 years old. Her sister Hannah died about the time Ruth was baptized. Hannah appeared to Ruth in her burial clothes several times. Ruth was very much afraid as the people at that time were all very superstitious. Ruth became so nervous that she wouldn’t go into a dark room alone, and as soon as she got into bed she would cover up her head and keep it covered until morning. This went on for some time. Ruth said, “I prayed earnestly that if it was necessary for my sister to speak to me, that she would come again and that I would have courage to talk to her.” One day she went to Sister Maynards to take her lesson in tailoring. Sister Maynard was away from home. Ruth had been in the habit of staying over night, so she milked the cow did the other chores and went to bed. The next morning when she threw the covers down from her face her sister stood before her dressed in her every day clothes. Ruth said, “Hannah in the name of the Lord what do you want of me?” Hannah said, “I want you to do a work for me.” All fear left Ruth and she sat up and talked with her sister. She said, “How can I do a work for you, you are dead?” Hannah answered, “The Gospel you have joined is true and I want you to be baptized for me and do a work for me that will be shown you later. I am in a place called Spirits in prison and there are rebellious ones here as well as on Earth. You are the only one of our family who will ever join the church and no matter what trials and hardships you have to endure never give up or turn back.” This visitation helped Ruth to endure many things in her later life.
Brother and Sister Maynard were making preparations to gather with the Saints at Nauvoo, Illinois. Ruth decided to go with them. When the appointed time came she went to her room as usual to go to bed. When all the family were asleep she tied a few clothes in a bundle, crawled out of the window and walked a distance of three miles over a lonely road to her friend’s home. She left a note at home bidding her family good-bye telling them that she had gone to join the Mormons. When her mother read the note she grieved so terribly she took to her bed and never left it, although she lived sixteen years. She wrote repeatedly begging Ruth to come back home, but the Gospel was always more to her than life itself.
Upon arriving in Nauvoo she went to work for John Pack in the Mansion House, a building that had formerly belonged to the Prophet Joseph. She arrived there in the Autumn after the martyrdom of the prophet. Here she again met Jesse Crosby, the elder who baptized her and they started keeping company. Jesse was called on a mission but before leaving he asked Ruth to be his wife when he returned. She loved him and accepted his ring and said she would give him his answer when he returned. She continued to work at the Mansion House and late in the year of 1845 Pres. Heber C. Kimball called to have a talk with her. He told her that it was the will of the Lord for her to be sealed to John Pack. She had already given up so much for the sake of the Gospel, and wishing to live it in its fullness, she did not hesitate. John Pack was called into the room and they were immediately married. Ruth thinking at the time that she was being sealed for eternity and not for time. As soon as Bro. Kimball had performed the ceremony he said, “Sister Ruth I intended to have you myself but Bro. John got ahead of me.” Ruth was a very beautiful and attractive girl.
After the Nauvoo Temple was completed, Ruth worked there for six months cutting and making Temple clothes. On Jan. 21, 1846 she was sealed to John Pack in the Nauvoo Temple as his third wife for time and eternity. When Jesse Crosby returned home from his mission she gave him back his ring but throughout her life she remembered him with tenderest of feelings.
When the Saints were driven from Nauvoo, John Pack and his three wives camped at Sugar Creek, just across the Missouri River from Winter Quarters. Here they built two cabins, one for the first wife Julia with her five children, the other one for the other two wives Nancy and Ruth.
In 1847 Pres. Brigham Young chose John Pack to cross the plains with the first company of pioneers. He moved his families across the River to Winter Quarters to live while he was away. Ruth worked and supported herself and helped with the rest of the family. When her husband returned from Salt Lake, he had lost both of his horses; so he decided that he would remain in Winter Quarters at least a year to equip himself for the trip to Utah. Heber C. Kimball was leaving Winter Quarters early the next Spring with a company of pioneers. He invited Ruth to come with his family and Wm. Clayton wanted Nancy to go with his family, as John had lost his team and had quite a family to care for and it would lighten his burden. Ruth and Nancy were delighted but when they told their husband he felt very discouraged and said that because he was poor they were going to leave him. His two young wives seemed quite determined to go and there were just ten days left before the company would leave. John went down the River sixty miles to his brother Rufus who outfitted him with two wagons, oxen, cows, provisions and everything necessary for the journey. He asked Ruth and Nancy which they would rather do, cook for a teamster or drive their own team. They said “We will drive our own team.” They were ready to go by Apr. 12th with the company.
When they left Winter Quarters Ruth and Nancy had three oxen, one cow, also a good wagon. They yoked and cared for their teams. Their provisions were parched corn meal and milk with a little sugar once in a while. They milked their cow, used what milk they needed and put the remainder in a churn on the back of the wagon. The motion of the wagon churned the milk and when they camped at night there was always plenty of good sweet butter to last through the next day. They took turns driving and on the day off they would sit in the wagon and sew or knit.
Ruth tells of their experience one day, “When we came to the Platte River it was Nancy’s turn to drive. The team started down stream, Nancy jumped right out in the water, turned their heads back and drove them on across. She had moccasins on her feet and as she continued to walk her moccasins stretched until they were a foot too long for her. As she walked they went flippety-flop. During the night the moccasins shrunk and it took a lot of greasing, rubbing and coaxing to get them back on her feet again the net morning.” They were happy and seemed to enjoy the trip. When they camped at night they would spend their evening talking, singing and sometimes dancing if they could find a suitable place.
They always camped over Saturdays to bake and wash. On Sundays they held their meetings. They had many trials on this trip but they had great faith which carried them through.
When they camped at the Elk Horn River, their camp was raided by Indians. One of the oxen of Ruth’s team was killed. The next morning when they were debating what to do a big read Texas Long Horn ox came in off the prairie and stood in place by the wagon. Brother Kimball said, “Yoke him up Bro. Pack, the Lord has sent him.” They used him the remainder of the trip to Utah. He was as gentle as the other oxen. The next Spring when he shed his hair they could see that he was branded with a U.S. government brand, which proved to them that the Lord had sent him and tamed him for their use.
The Company arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in October 1848 after a six months journey. John built a one room cabin for his first wife and their six children; Ruth and Nancy camped in the wagon box all Winter.
In the Spring of 1849 John was called to fill a three year mission in France. Before leaving he built a log room in Bountiful for Ruth and Nancy. With the assistance of Ward E., Julia’s boy, twelve years of age, Ruth went to the canyon, got out posts and fenced six acres of ground. She also got out their firewood. They plowed and planted the six acres into wheat. Ward plowed and Ruth harrowed the ground. In the Fall she assisted in binding the wheat and threshing it by driving horses around on it, then they borrowed a fanning mill and she took her first grist to Salt Lake City. Silas, her first child was born Oct. 20, 1849 in Salt Lake City. By the time her husband returned from his mission they had 40 acres of land under cultivation, with a good crop of wheat.
Mr. Pack joined a company of Saints on his return trip. He met an English girl, Mary Jane Walker and took her as his fourth wife soon after his return. In due course of time he had four new babies. Catherine, daughter of Ruth, was born June 8, 1853. Erastus, son of Julia, born June 17, 1853, Adelbert, son of Nancy born May 4, 1853 and Geneva, daughter of Mary Jan, was born 22 July. The father made a large box with rockers on it and the four babies were cradled in the same bed.
A large adobe house was built in Bountiful by John Pack. It was here that Ruth and Mary Jane lived with their twelve children. Julia and Nancy had a home in Salt Lake City. At this time Ruth had four children, Silas Mosher, Catherine DeValah, Irving James born April 17, 1855, Orson Parley born Nov. 2, 1856. Mother and Aunt Jane lived together as sisters and always enjoyed one another’s company. The children hardly knew which one was their mother.
In the year of 1858 when Johnson’s Army was expected, the families took all of their possessions they could
in their wagons and moved down on the Lehi Bottoms. They left their homes so that fires could destroy them in case the Army came to claim them. Julia, Ruth, Mary Jane and their 16 children traveled to Lehi and made themselves a home among the willows. They wove willows through the ones that were standing and succeeded in making their living quarters quite comfortable, when they were notified that they could return to their homes. Ruth and her family got as far as Salt Lake then the wagon box was lifted from the wagon and placed on the ground in the family lot. It was here her fifth child, Ursula Vilate was born Aug. 22, 1858. When Ruth was able she went on to her home in Bountiful.
After returning from the South they resumed their regular routine; spinning, weaving, making cheese, candles, soap and everything else they needed. Mr. Pack had sheep at this time so Ruth, Mary Jane and their children cleaned and picked the wool and prepared it for the carding machine. Ruth assisted with the spinning and did all the weaving. Having learned the tailor trade, she made all the clothes for her husband and his big family. After dying yarn, spinning or weaving all day, she would sit up until midnight, sewing by the light of one or two tallow candles. These candles were made by cutting the wicking the desired length, twisting slightly and hanging over a stick with the ends even, then let the twist come out gradually. She would put six of them on a stick, then melt tallow in a kettle as deep as the candles were to be long. She would dip and hang them over the kettle to cool. This process of dipping and cooling was continued until the candles were of the desired size. Ruth would make one hundred or more each time.
On March 2, 1860 Ruth gave birth to her sixth child a little girl. She was given the name of Yoma Zenith and was the last of the alphabet babies. Two children were born at Bountiful, Davis Co,. The other was a boy born Sept. 2, 1862, who was named John Ambrose.
While Ruth and Mary Jane lived together in Bountiful they had many happy and a few trying times. One morning they decided to spend the day with friends so they did their work up; made cheese and left the younger children home with Catherine and Geneva, who were about eleven years old. In their haste to get away they left a tub of warm whey on the kitchen floor. The two girls immediately proceeded to have some fun. They wet the smaller children’s heads with the whey and then patted flour into it. They would let it dry and then add another coat of whey and flour until they had a thick coating of dried dough on all the children’s heads. Then they used a 50 lb. sack of flour to make paths all around the house and barns. Ruth and Mary Jane expected their husband home that evening so they cam home a little early to see that everything was all right, as he was very orderly and quite strict. Imagine their consternation when they saw their children and the wasted flour. They put caps on the children and put them to bed, where they had to remain until after their father had gone next morning. Then they took brooms and weeds and swept the flour away. The father left early the nest morning so the flour went unnoticed. The children’s hair was so badly matted that they had to have their heads shaved.
This life continued until 863. Prior to this time Mr. Pack had entered a ranch in Kamas, Summit County. He had taken Julia out there one summer, also Mary Jane for one summer. They both said they would never go again as the Indians were troublesome. Ruth had entered the land in Bountiful and the home had been built for her, she was now quite comfortable, yet without hesitation she said, “Yes, I will go!” She moved out to Kamas on Mar. 6, 1863. The first summer she had two hired men to help her, they and her small boys milked 20 cows, She made 1000 lbs. of butter. As she made it she put a strong brine over it in a large wooden keg, Mr. Pack had had made. Then she poured the brine off each time she churned and added more butter. She packed the butter in solidly and put the brine back over it. When the keg was full the butter was a sweet as when she churned it. She took it to Salt Lake and sold it for 50¢ per pound. She also made 1000 lbs. of cheese that summer. She stayed there through the long cold winter, continued to make butter and cheese and took care of the cattle. The next summer she had her loom moved out from Bountiful. She spun yarn and wove 50 yards of fine white flannel and bought herself a gold watch (which still runs and is owned by her son-in-law, L. M. Carpenter).
On Mar, 13, 1865 her eighth child Martha Mary was born in Kamas. The following winter was a very hard one. The snow fell so deep and drifted around the house so that they couldn’t see out of the windows.
It was during this winter that the feed for the cattle gave out and they had to drive them over the crusted snow to the Provo River Bottoms where they fed on willows. A third of them died. Ruth’s flour also gave out and they live on bran and shorts bread and milk. They had no vegetables of any kind. The climate was so cold they couldn’t even raise potatoes.
The next spring Indian troubles were reported and the few settlers were advised to move to Peoa. Ruth loaded her few household goods and her children in a wagon and again left her home. When they came to the Weber River it was dangerously high, but they were using a large hay rack and an ox tem to ferry the people across. They all got across safely and lived there until September, then they went back to their home in Kamas. The people were advised to build a fort for their continued safety. This they did, the outside walls of the fort comprised the walls of their homes. There were a good many Indian scares, but they were able to settle them all safely and peaceable.
Ruth was always far seeing and very industrious. She was never idle. She continued with her weaving and wove carpets for nearly all the people for many miles around. She made a specialty of men’s clothing. She would make a man’s suit for a gallon bucket of molasses. She cut and made temple clothes for many Latter-day Saints. She did all of her sewing by hand. In 18780 she bought her first oil lamp, she prized this very highly although it was just a little hand lamp. In 1867 her last baby, Benjamin Van Cura, was born. This made a total of nine children she had brought into the world under the most adverse circumstances.
In 1870 Ruth went back to New York to see her people. She found that her parents were dead and her youngest sister Martha was living on the old homestead. Her father left quite an estate, but he had disinherited Ruth because she had left home and joined the Mormons. Her people were overjoyed to see her and entertained her royally. They took her every place, even across the St. Lawrence River in a cutter. She had a wonderful time visiting her relatives, but they wanted none of her religion. Her dead sister’s prediction came true that she would be the only one to join the church. She was able to gather a lot of genealogy while she was there. She returned home in June, after having been gone about nine months.
The year following her return Mr. Pack bought a cheese factory so he could make cheese on a scientific plan. He and two of his sons were partners. Ruth and the son’s wives made the cheese. The second year Ruth made three 100 lb. cheeses. Mr. Pack took them to the State Fair and received first prize on them for quality and appearance.
Ruth worked in the cheese factory until 1880 when she decided that the town needed a hotel. She built on two rooms and added more as she needed them until she finally had a large house beautifully furnished. She did all this with her own planning and hard work, without any help from the proceeds of the ranch. She was always well patronized and whoever came to her place found a good bed and a first class meal. She was renowned all over that part of the country for her hospitality, cheerfulness, courage and her wonderful cooking. She was lovingly known by everyone as Aunt Ruth. She kept her hotel until she was 80 years of age. She never neglected her religious duties. A person wouldn’t be in her house 15 minutes before she would ask them if they were Mormons or not. She always kept open house and everyone throughout the stake knew they would be welcome at Aunt Ruth’s. Her house was always full at conference time. She never accepted a penny from her friends and she very seldom had a hired girl. She was a stake counselor in the Relief Society for 25 years. She with the president visited the stake once each year with horse and buggy, traveling a distance of 250 miles. She always paid her own way and assisted others.
During the building of the Summit Stake House, the Relief Societies held bazaars and raised $1000.00 towards finishing the building. They were also building a new meeting house in her ward. She was 75 years old at the time, yet she took her horse and buggy and visited every house in the valley, collecting $5.00 from each family to seat the meeting house. After holding one conference in the building it burned down. She took her horse and buggy again and started collecting for another new meeting house. She was very successful in this work. If the Bishop needed help he always called on “Aunt Ruth.”
She loved the social side of life and always went to dances and picnics with the young folks. In those days it took a good deal of ingenuity to prepare a good meal, yet she took great delight in having a crowd of young folks in for a hot meal and a sociable evening.
In the year 1885 her husband passed away. Although she had never had much of his company, yet she grieved very much and felt lonely without him. She had her religion and her children to comfort her. She had always been such a good manager that after her 60th birthday she was well to do and prosperous. Ruth was an ardent believer in tithing. She was able to keep her own home and to care for herself until ten days before her death, then she took a stroke and passed away at the age of ninety, September 10, 1914. One child preceded her to the grave. The other eight children survived her.
Ruth was blessed with faith and the gift of healing. She assisted in washing and anointing many women before their confinement. She also had the gift of Tongues. There were a few who made light of this gift and knowing this, Ruth would resist the Spirit when she was prompted to speak in tongues. Finally the gift was taken from her. She then saw that she had done wrong, so she prayed to the Lord that if He would return the gift she would ever resist it again. The gift returned to her and remained with her as long as she lived.
Ruth’s husband and his five wives had a total of 43 children. They decided to use the letters of the alphabet as initials for their names, giving each child two letters. Following is a list of the alphabet babies:
A. B. Adelbert Beaumont
C. D. Catherine De Valah [also seen as DeVala]—Ruth’s daughter
E. F. Eurastus Frederick
G. H. Geneva Harriet
I. J. Irving James—Ruth’s son
K. L. Kamelia Luella
M. N. Merrit Newton
O. P. Orson Parley—Ruth’s son
Q. R. Qunice Rufus
S. T. Sedenia Tamsen
U. V. Ursula Vilate—Ruth’s daughter
W. X. Walker Xonophon
Y. Z. Yoma Zenith—Ruth’s daughter