Monday, July 13, 2015

The Ruth Legacy: Conviction and Sacrifice

After my second daughter was born, I wrote my grandmother Alice to tell her that I had named her Alice Ruth.  She wrote me this letter dated September 7, 1998, one month after she was born.

 The other day I was thinking about this letter and decided to do some investigative research to see just how many Ruth's were on our family tree.  Actually, quite a few.

Ruth #1

Ruth Townsend 1789-?

daughter of my 6th great grandparents, James Townsend and Mary Cook

The earliest Ruth I could find, I don't have much information about--only her birth date.  She was born in South Carolina, and her father died when she was 3.  In his will, she was left the plantation along with her siblings.

Her father was disowned by the Quakers when he fought in the Revolutionary War under Colonel Thomas Brandon.  Although it appears he was reinstated after the war.  Her mother then married Ralph Hunt who also died just a few years later.  It was around this time that the Quakers were looking to move to slave-free states.   Many Quakers left South Carolina and moved to Waynesville, Ohio.  She sold their land and moved to Ohio where she married a Quaker Minister named Joseph Cloud in 1810.

Most likely Ruth raised as a Quaker, remained one if she moved to Ohio with her mother.  I could not find a death date nor a marriage date for Ruth, so she may have died as a young child.

The more I study the Quaker religion, the more I see commonalities with the LDS faith.  While our beliefs are not exactly the same, we have experienced the same desire for religious freedom.  The more I learn about my Quaker heritage, the more I appreciate all that they sacrificed.  I'm proud to descend from Quakers.

Ruth #2

Ruth Riding Bagshaw 1877-1930

daughter of my 3rd great grandparents, Christopher Lister Riding and Eliza Adelaide Dolbel

Thanks to, I was able to get this picture and the following information about my 2nd great grandmother's sister, Ruth.

She had a beautiful voice and played the guitar—she was so kind and a great seamstress, and a great gardener
• She had poor health due to a heart condition and was often bedridden and as a result many of the chores fell to the children
• Her husband was a mason in the mines and was often gone for weeks at a time
• She was married in the temple and they had kneeling prayer at every meal

Born and died in St. George.  Baptized in the St. George temple. Married to Robert William Bagshaw for 35 years.  

Ruth's sister Christiana Riding Asay had a daughter named Ruth...

Ruth #3

Ruth Asay Tebbs 1884-1972

daughter of my 2nd great grandparents, Edwin Asay and Christiana Dolbel Riding

Isn't this a beautiful picture of Ruth Asay Tebbs? 
 Fortunately, Ruth was a great writer.  The following information I got from her biography. 

Ruth's father died 10 days before she was born.  Her 27-year-old mother was left to raise five kids on her own.  She decided to move back to Utah and asked her brother George to come down to help move the family.  She gave George the honor of naming her newest baby.  He chose his sister's name, Ruth. 

After moving to Utah, her mother married a man who was 33 years her senior.  Ruth called her step-father "Brother Allphin."  He brother Albert died when she was 8.  

When she was 13, she got a job tending a little boy named Chauncey Steiner.  She would take him home with her and tend him for a week at a time.  She grew to love this little boy.  One time Mrs. Steiner took Chauncy to Salt Lake.  Three days later, Ruth received a telegram saying that 3 1/2 year old Chauncy had died of spinal meningitis.  

Years later Fielding Burnes Tebbs took her out for a boat ride and proposed marriage.  He said that if she didn't say yes, he'd tip the boat over.  She would have married him anyway.  

A year later, her first child Fielding Burnes Tebbs, Jr. was born.  By two years old, he could talk and understand everything.  She sent him to the store to buy a comb, not realizing he was probably too young for such an errand.  When he came back with the comb, he asked if he could run more errands.  By age four, he could read as well as any six year old. When Burnes Jr. was five, he died of tonsillitis.

A couple years later, Ruth got severe appendicitis, the same thing that took her father's life.  Fortunately, an operation was able to save her life. 

Years later, Ruth Tebbs had her sixth child.  A girl whom she named Ruth.    

Ruth #4

Ruth Tebbs Butterfield 1919-2000

cousin to my grandmother, Alice Houston Rasmussen

When Ruth Tebbs married VeLoy Hansen Butterfield, her father asked what she would like as a wedding present.  She said, "For you and Mama to go to the temple with us."  This may not have seemed like a big request, except that her parents had never been sealed in the temple for Burnes, Sr. was not active in the LDS Church.

He replied, "We will."  He then worked on quitting smoking, getting a recommend, and were sealed on Ruth's wedding day.  The following day, Ruth was able to be sealed to her parents, and her husband VeLoy was proxy for little Burnes, Jr. who had died at the age of five.

[Note: Ruth also had a daughter whose middle name is Ruth.]

Ruth #5

Ruth Houston 1903-1910

sister to my grandmother, Alice Houston Rasmussen

My mother's aunt was also named Ruth.  Sadly, my mother never got to know her because Aunt Ruth died one day shy of her 7th birthday.

To read the heart-wrenching story of her and her brother's deaths click here.  

Ruth #6

Ruth Rasmussen 1945-2015

my mother

My mother passed away this past February when she was 68.  She spent the first 53 years of her life always on the go.  Then her feet were crippled and she spent the last 15 years learning how to serve in other ways.  She died quietly and gracefully just a few hours after getting her temple recommend.  

To read stories about my mother's life, click here. 

Ruth #7

Heather Ruth Pack (1969-living)


Hey kids!  This is to be my obituary picture.

I have always loved my middle name.  There was a time when I wanted to be called Ruth, but because it was my mother's name I was afraid it would be too confusing.  

As a prolific writer, I have way too many stories to share in this post.  Hop over to my own personal history blog to learn a little more about me.  

Ruth #8

Alice Ruth Petranilla Pack (living)

my daughter

 I think all the other Ruth's would be proud she bears their name.  My mom loved to call her "Allie Ruth."

She is clever, smart, witty, and hilarious.  She loves to read books, visit museums, and watch Audrey Hepburn movies.  She has travelled to several countries and hopes to be an astrophysicist someday.  She's a powerful introvert although some mistake her for being shy--which she's not.

Often I marvel that she is my daughter, in many ways we are nothing alike.  But our common middle name bonds us to the Ruth legacy.

I can't end this post without honoring the first Ruth where the name began.

This picture of Ruth by Sandra Rast hangs in our family room
She is the only female to have a book in the Bible named after her.  You can read her story by clicking here.  

For me, the story of Ruth teaches conviction and sacrifice.  As I look at the lives of the Ruth's who have gone before me, I see that is the common thread.  These are women who had strong convictions and were willing to make sacrifices.  I hope the name continues to live on in our family tree, but more importantly I hope their examples and stories never fade.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Looking Upward and Outward

Recently someone, who lives in Farmington, New Mexico and went to church with my mother, reached out to me with this sweet story.  My own comments are in [].

"About four years ago our second son, Will, had routine surgery to remove his tonsils.  He had some somewhat serious complications and had to be admitted to the hospital. It was a hard and scary few days to say the least.  

Unbekownst to us at the time, Ruth was in the hospital at the same time due to continued complications with her feet and was having another portion removed. [She had been battling another infection and had another toe removed.]

In a time when we as a family were looking inward and downward we were strengthened by your mother who was looking upward and outward. 

How easy would it have been to stay up in her room and sulk, or at the least rest from what she had been through. But no, she wheeled herself down to the gift shop and picked out a book and some treats for a little boy she knew might be hurting.  

It took me a few days to truly take in what she did for our family that day. It is now a story that is written in our family journal to help us remember how to be Christlike in all times, in all places, and in all circumstances.  

She had a gift for looking upward and outward."

This post features:


My mother 

me --> Ruth Rasmussen Buchanan

Monday, March 2, 2015


In Mom's later years, most saw her riding around in a scooter.

What many don't know is why.

In 1999, at my brother's wedding reception, she didn't have a place to keep a single key so she put it in her shoe.  That began a series of events that would ultimately result in her early departure from this earth.

The key caused a blister in the bottom of her foot, which led to an infection, which led to the amputation of some toes, which led to a condition called Charcot foot.

The condition spread to both her feet and for 15 years she had broken feet that would never heal.

Through it all she didn't complain, in fact she rarely even talked about her condition.  She had an extremely high tolerance for pain.  She also had an extremely high desire to live life to the fullest.

The last weekend I spent with her (just weeks before she died) was no exception.  We went shopping and ate Vietnamese food.  We ran to Dairy Queen and got in trouble with Dad for talking too loud.  We ate a simple pot roast dinner on her china and silver.  The other thing we did was listen to her latest favorite album whenever we were in the car.

She had been able to hear Jason Deere perform the songs from this album live.  She loved it so much that she bought a copy for my two missionaries.

As we listened to the songs, she gave me the lyrics so that I could follow along.  We got to a song titled "Blind" sung by Alex Boye.  

She told me that Alex sang the song in the studio on his knees with his eyes closed.  As a big fan of Alex Boye, I was impressed that he would sing it so humbly. 

After my mom passed away, I bought my own copy of Redeemer.  

Tonight I was listening to the album and the song "Blind" came on.  This time the words had a new meaning for me. She had faith in Jesus Christ and knew that one day her feet would be completely healed. 

Like Alex, she had a beautiful singing voice and I can imagine it joining his when he sings:

"And I feel hands on me now
And I feel His fingers lift from off my face
He says, 'Thy faith hath made thee whole'
As blackness turns to grey

Behold, I see the light
Behold I see the miracle
Behold I hear the prophets of old echo in my ears
And I feel my warm face wet from all my tears
As I behold the Messiah, Emmanuel
He who's come into this world to change us all


It's so easy to look back and say "If only she hadn't put that key in her shoe." But that single act would lead to over a decade of miracles, drawing her and her family closer to our Savior.

A Savior who has healed my mom

  and will one day heal me


This post features:

Ruth Rasmussen Buchanan (1946-2015)

My mother and me

me --> Ruth Rasmussen Buchanan

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mom, I have something to tell you...

On February 21, 2015 our family gathered around my mother one last time.

As we stood there with our arms wrapped around one another, I spoke up.

"Mom, I have something to tell you..."


My first brother was born in October of 1976.  My sister, Kristi, and I were excited to finally have a sibling.  It had just been the two of us for quite a while.  We were 7 and almost 6 and eager to take care of him.

One of our favorite things to do was feed him his bottle.  Was it because we loved to hold him?  No.  Was it because we wanted to give Mom a break?  No.  It was because of what was in the bottle.

That's right.  Lime-flavored Jell-O.  She would mix some of the gelatin powder in warm water for Ryan to drink.  

Kristi and I would fight to take turns feeding him.  As we watched him guzzle that sugary goodness, sometimes the temptation was just too great and we would quickly pull the bottle out of Ryan's mouth, and put the nipple in our mouth and drink.

That's right.  

We would drink out of the bottle!

Then we would quickly put it back in Ryan's mouth hoping we wouldn't get caught. 

You know what they say about keeping secrets?  

Two people can keep a secret as long as one of them is dead.

In our case, 

Two sisters can keep a secret as long as both of them have the same secret.

Somehow we both decided that drinking out of the bottle was the worst sin that could be committed.  It trumped all other sins.  

"I'm going to tell Mom you just hit me."
"Then, I'm going to tell Mom you drank out of the bottle."

For years we held onto the secret that we had drunk green Jell-O water.  Until...


"Mom, I have something to tell you... Kristi drank out of the bottle."

I feel so much better.

This post features:


My mother 

me --> Ruth Rasmussen Buchanan

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Daisy

Before the closing of Mom's casket, I read a story I had written about Mom's love for daisies.

The Daisy

In a garden are many flowers. 

Some bloom in the early spring; 

others appear when the leaves turn gold.

But one flower blooms during the long summer days—in the driest of soil, 

under the hottest of the sun’s rays, 

and among the peskiest of insects

—the daisy.

Because of their bright centers and open petals, bees are especially attracted to daisies. 

This allows their pollen to spread throughout the entire garden.

Mimi was like a daisy.  She was able to bloom no matter how hard her life became. All who knew her were attracted to her, which allowed her to touch lives in places she could not go.

Even though she is no longer with us, her laughter, love, and joy still remains.  Whenever we see a daisy, we can remember our dear Mimi and our Savior who has made it possible for us to see her again. 

This post features:


My mother 

me --> Ruth Rasmussen Buchanan

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Time to Be Happy Is Now

The time to be kind is now.
The place to be kind is here.
We needn't be told the way to be kind
For the way to be kind is clear.

But it's good to pause and remember
In the heat of our stress and drive,
The very best time to live
Is while we are still alive.

The time to be happy is now.
The place to be happy is here.
The way to be happy is to make others happy
Simple enough, I fear.

But the simple things we are apt to miss
As we struggle and fret and strive,
Forgetting the very best time to live
Is while we are still alive.

This poem was read by her Stake President, President Palmer, at her funeral.

This post features:


My mother 

me --> Ruth Rasmussen Buchanan

Monday, November 3, 2014

I'm a Vanderbilt. Yes, Those Vanderbilts

While watching my favorite show Finding Your Roots

I discovered that Anderson Cooper 

Hello, cousin

and I share a common ancestor Jan Aertsen Vanderbilt.  Henry Louis Gates, Jr. briefly mentions that he came to America with just the clothes on his back.  I wanted to know more.

Thankfully, because the Vanderbilt name is so famous, I didn't have a hard time finding out about Jans.   Most of this information comes from Commodore: The Life Of Cornelius Vanderbilt.

His last name was actually Aertsen which indicates most likely that his father's name was Aert.  He most likely came from a small village called Bilt near Utrecht in the Netherlands.  This would explain how he got the last name Vanderbilt.

He came to New Amsterdam (now New York City) as an indentured servant.  This meant he was too poor to pay for the passage himself.  Why was he so poor?  It could have been for a few reasons.

Remember the Dotcom bust in 2001?

Well, Holland experienced one too.  Only instead of internet companies, they lost their shirts to the tulip.  The price of one bulb was worth ten years of income.

When the bubble burst in 1637 tulips were only worth a hundredth of it's price and the country went into an economic depression that lasted for years.

To make matters worse, the bubonic plague was intermittently a problem in Holland beginning in 1599.  This horrible disease could devastate a family very quickly.

As if economic depression and disease wasn't enough, Holland was also in a war.  The Thirty Year War was from 1619-1648 and was considered one of the most destructive conflicts in European history.

Any or all of these could have been why Jans at 13 years old agreed to be an indentured servant.  When he turned 16, he was free and could begin to earn a living for himself.  He lived in New Amsterdam, a piece of land the Dutch bought for $24.  You know it as Manhattan, where $24 will get you get you 3 toilet-water hot dogs.

He purchased a farm in Flatbush in what is now Brooklyn.

After Jans moved to Bergen, New Jersey his sons Aris and Jacob took over farming there.

Aris and Jacob worked hard and bought real estate when they could afford it.  Eventually, Aris bought 60 acres of forested swampy land now known as Staten Island.

Aris had many children including my 8th great grandmother and Jacob.  Jacob became Cornelius Vanderbilt's great grandfather.

Why does Grand Central Terminal have a statue of Cornelius Vanderbilt?

Because when he died, he was worth over 100 billion dollars in today's money.  That's richer than this guy.

The closest I have come to the Vanderbilt fortune is when I wore these in the 7th grade.

This post relates to:

Jans Aertsen Vanderbilt (1627-1705)

my 10th great-grandfather

me-->Ruth Rasmussen Buchanan-->Alice Houston Rasmussen-->Eliza Adelaide Asay-->Edwin Asay-->Joseph Asay Sr.-->Phebe Johnson Asay-->Antje Brower Johnston-->Aaron Brower-->Helena Van Cleef Brouwer-->Jannetje Aertse Vanderbilt van Cleve-->Aris Janse Vanderbilt-->Jan Aertsen Vanderbilt