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.

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