Personal history of Ruth Ellis Peterson Palmer as written by the same, compiled and typed by Virginia Carlson. I have made no changes to the text except to add headings, correct spelling and grammar errors, and separate long paragraphs to make it more readable for viewing in electronic format. Year compiled and typed: unknown.
Personal History of Ruth Ellis Peterson Palmer
My parents Andrew Peterson and Viola Wilson Peterson were both born in Fairview, Utah of early converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In February 1898 they moved to Dublin, Old Mexico, from there to Casa Grandes and in the year of 1905, they moved to Col. Juarez, Chihuahua, Old Mexico. While living there I, Ruth Ellis Peterson, was born Feb. 17, 1911.
I was the youngest of nine children, a healthy baby, in fact, I cannot remember any ill health until I was in my late 20’s. I was blessed and given my name in May 1911, by my uncle Guy C. Wilson. My mother had lost four children shortly after they were born, so my family at birth consisted of Lois Viola, my older sister, who married just a few months before I was born and who moved to El Paso, Texas, John Bertram, Lewis Arnold, and Melvin Wilson.
At this time Old Mexico was torn by revolution, different rebel parties conspiring and trying to overthrow the gov’t. Pancho Villa was the leader of a rebel party which caused a great deal of alarm especially in the north part of Mexico and for several years the people in the colonies had to endure all kinds of persecutions. They were robbed, they had to pay ransom to save the lives of many of their neighbors. They plundered the villages for guns and supplies and especially horses, killing people if need be to obtain them.
My dad had given my oldest brother a horse which we all loved and which my father needed to ride to his work several miles away. While he was home he kept the horse hidden in a dirt cellar. But one day while we were to church some rebels came to the house and wanted all the guns and horses we had. One of their horses, while tied at the gate, whinnied and our horse answered, so all was given away. I remember when we got home from Sunday School the first thing my brother Bert did was run to see if our horse was alright and of him crying when he found it was gone.
Memories of Dublan, Old Mexico
While living in Dublan, my father ran a flour mill and an electric plant. He had a few harrowing experiences there with the rebels. I remember one experience my parents told me about. The citizens were always living in fear. One day toward evening two riders came into town to alert the people that Pancho Villa and his army were headed toward Dublan. Also, that they had been killing and plundering on their way toward Mexico City and of the threats they had made of the awful things they were going to do to the people if they wouldn’t join them.
Naturally, everyone was frightened wondering what to do, should they try to defend themselves or should they try to leave and hideaway someplace. The Bishop called the townspeople together in the street by the church and reminded them that the Prophet and President of the church had advised them to be peaceable and not offer any resistance, then he had them offer a prayer pleading to God for protection.
After the prayer the Bishop was inspired to tell them to all go to their separate homes, turn out all their lights and go to bed, that all would be well. Having so much faith they did just as they were told and were surprised the next morning to find what a good night’s rest they had and how peaceful everything was. Some of the leaders rode out to see what had happened to the army. They found where the army had ridden their horses up to the base of a hill they had to cross just before they would come to the village nestled down in the valley and then for some reason turned and went another direction.
Later it was related that the army got to the base of the hill and looking up they saw a great army of men on horses silhouetted against the sky which frightened them, and they hurriedly went another direction. The men had seen no tracks of this great army the rebels were frightened of so they knew the Lord had caused them to see this vision in answer to the prayers of the faithful.
During this time the U.S. sent an army under the direction of Gen. Pershing to protect the U.S. citizens in the colonies. I remember seeing their many tents pitched across the road from our home up against the hills. At this time, I remember going to a store with my mother, everything was so interesting and I saw a Negro for the first time. He had an orange which I’d never seen before, of course, I wanted one also, and when I went crying to Mother for one, the Negro cut his orange in half and gave me a piece. I turned it around and around to see if some of his “black” had rubbed off on it and as it hadn’t I enjoyed it so much I wanted another every time I went to the store.
I also remember one time the ladies of the church cooked a big dinner for the soldiers, and I saw the first motor car that came to our town. We heard it coming and got so excited we ran by its side all around town. I remember going down to the Rio Grande River and watching the natives wash their clothes on the rocks by the edge of the river.
We had many harrowing experiences, but I myself was not overly concerned about being too young to realize the dangers the people were living under. Although one night as we were eating our evening meal I was sitting opposite my mother with my back to the window when I saw a look of horror come over her face as she screams. Looking quickly around I saw a Mexican rebel with his hands shading his eyes looking in, Dad grabbed a gun and went out the door. He returned in a little and said all was well but later when they went to bed I heard mother crying and saying “what can we do” and Dad trying to comfort her.
I guess the people were so alerted to the danger that any and everything startled them. Conditions just kept getting worse; people were driven back to the U.S. twice where some stayed but others feeling they just couldn’t leave their homes, businesses, etc. returned.
Dad had a big interest in a co-op store in Juarez, the flour mill and electric plant, and several head of cattle so they returned for the third time early in the year of 1917 when the church leaders in Salt Lake City advised the Mormons to leave. This was a sad time for the Mormons but always obedient to the voice of the Prophet they prepared to leave their homes and what belongings they couldn’t take with them. All these experiences made my mother so nervous and upset but still, they had buried four children and her parents there and it was hard to part with all they had accumulated in the years they had been in Mexico, she felt she could never be happy anywhere else. Dad was the strength and stalwart of the family, taking every problem and worry in a calm and philosophical way.
Move to Blanding, Utah
Our family stayed in El Paso, Texas for a while then decided to move to Blanding, Utah. We took a train to Dolores, Colo., just after boarding the train a newspaper boy came through calling, “Read all about it! The U.S. has declared war on Germany.” Mother threw up her hands and said: “Oh, we have just jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.” We came by car from Dolores to Blanding. We had to cross through a flood at Montezuma, which two cowboys had to tie onto our car to help us get through. I give credit to my parents that though amid all we had been through, the worry and fear and heartache, I never felt alarmed. I felt secure and that all would turn out well.
Dad never got anything out of the property we left in Old Mexico, so they had quite a struggle having to start all over again at their age and with a large family. But dad was a good carpenter and always had plenty of work, so we got along financially by gardening, raising our chickens, pigs, milk cows, etc.
While we were waiting for our home on the west side of town to be built, we were living in a log cabin close to where we went to school. Melvin my brother and my mother were home when lightning struck our home. Mother was standing in a doorway between the front room and kitchen, the lightning went over the door knocking mother down and went behind the door and struck a gun standing in the corner. For days we found wood splinters from the stock all over. After we moved into our new home someone asked Mother if she thought we’d ever go back to Old Mexico, she answered with “never, I would not change the peace and security I have felt here for all the money in the world.”
Brother Bert Goes to War
We had not been in our new home long when my oldest brother Bert volunteered into the service of his country to fight against the Germans in WW 1. In Nov. 1917 peace was declared and he came home but was in very poor health which he never did completely recover from. He went to SLC to college and decided to become a Dr.; he then went to Chicago, Ill. About two yrs. after graduating from the Univ. of Utah.
Early Childhood Memories
I had an interesting and happy childhood. My dad and mother were very congenial and affectionate, concerned with their family and their religion. They were hard-working and wanted the best for their family. Our family and our neighbors were always having dinners together every week or so. I remember then the grown-ups would always eat first while the kids went out to play. When they were through the kids would be called in to eat. There was always plenty, and we needn’t worry that the grown-ups would eat it all. Now the children are fed first, but we weren’t bothered about eating last. It was just the way things were to be, and we accepted it and knew we weren’t to bother our parents while they ate their dinner.
Several Indian families lived on the back of our land called White Rock. One Halloween Lewis and Mel made some Jack-o-lanterns, and put lighted candles in them and went to visit the Indians scaring them till they ran and left their hogans not returning for several days.
I started school in Sept. 1917, being six yrs. old at the time. In this first year of school every day for about an hr. we cut up old clothing etc. into teeny pieces which were to be used to make pillows, padding, mattresses for ‘our boys’ in the service! Parents were to give all old white sheeting etc. to be torn into bandages and in Primary the girls were taught to knit wool socks.
When I was eight yrs. old I was baptized in the LDS church. My birthday was Feb. 17th which is the time we would be baptized, but it was a very cold and stormy winter. So, my parents decided to wait till the weather was warmer, so the 19th of May, when one of my friends, Genevieve Redd had her birthday, we two were baptized by her brother Frank. Our parents decided on a small pond below a cattle corral on the So. edge of Blanding. Two or three of the men waded around on the edge of the pond to find a place deep enough to baptize us. Never-the-less I was so excited and happy to be a member of the church and made resolutions on how I would change into such a good, honest person.
School Age Memories
When I was in the fifth or sixth grade, my main girlfriend was Sara Lyman. Her father took her to SLC because her health was so bad. She died a while later which experience let me know life could be a serious thing. In the summer of 1928, I went to SLC and stayed with my oldest sister Lois and got a job. She was living there with the youngest of her two daughters (Hazel). She had divorced their father who was living in Thatcher, Ariz.
I worked in Hotel Utah, and while I was there I applied and signed up to become a Reg. Nurse. Then all the High School we needed was 3 yrs. and we would get the senior yr. as part of our requirements to become a nurse. But as summer came to a close I was getting homesick so decided to go home and finish High School and become a nurse later.
I enjoyed school so much and being with my friends. I guess I thought “school” was the place to meet my friends and have fun. Some of my friends during H.S. were Mary Bayles, Genevieve Redd, Eva Lyman, and a few boyfriends. My special teachers were J.B. Harris, Afton Stevens, Marion Gardner (Neilson). Also in H.S. I was voted in as cheerleader and was also forward on the girls’ basketball team. Also, I don’t remember any of us excelling in basketball but like everything else, it was exciting and fun.
I accepted my school years as I did everything else. An exciting time to enjoy and have fun, which of course didn’t lead to having the best grades in the classes. In the little plays and entertainments, the school put on I always had a part and I’d dream that sometimes I would be a movie star. When I was in the 6th grade my parents let me take dancing lessons, so then I dreamed of becoming a great ballerina. It’s nice to be these things if only in imagination. I had such good teachers, several of them had just gotten their teaching certificates and were about the age of my older bro. Bert. He went with some of them so I thought I should have special privileges. I don’t know whether I got them or not.
Some of the activities I enjoyed most were dancing lessons, choir practices, singing in the choir, and a double mixed quartet that went to SLC to sing in the tabernacle which was a great thrill. The quartet consisted of Lucy Adams, and Dee Bayles, I can’t remember the rest. Some of the highlights in H.S. were the trips the basketball boys would take that I was allowed to go along because I was a cheerleader, the friends I made, and sleigh rides and dances. We always had a dance every Fri. night during the holidays and the plays and operetta’s I took part in. When I was 14 I was asked to be in the choir and to be an S.S. teacher.
The summer I graduated I went back to SLC only to find my older sister Lois was very ill. The Dr. told my brother and me that he would recommend us taking her home to her parents where she could get better care, so my brother Mel brought her home to Blanding. I feel sure the trip was very tiring for her, but I never heard her complain. Hazel her youngest daughter was with us and Lois asked Mom and Dad if they would keep Hazel from knowing she could not live very long. She died July 26th of that summer 1929 of Leukemia. Soon after her death, Hazel went to Arizona to live with her dad and older sister Avilda.
On Aug. 2nd, 1929, I married Guy “C” Palmer, we made our home in Blanding just a few blocks from where my parents lived. Not long after the great depression came, also a bad drought and severe winds. Guy was away a lot of the time on jobs so I milked the cows, took care of the horses, pigs, etc. Although the depression hurt everyone we still enjoyed life. The young married people would get together and play Rook with parched corn and molasses candy for refreshments. During this time, we all had to sew everything we or our children wore.
Sugar, shoes and so many things were rationed and we received government stamps to get them with. We often got my parents shoe stamps as my older children wore their shoes out so fast, but all in all, the depression was good for me especially as I learned so much about managing money, learning to sew, can, and dry fruit and vegetables, making over old clothes, etc. It also taught me we can get along without many things we had considered a real necessity. Also, families were drawn closer together. We all had to work toward a common goal, (survival in spite of all the odds against it).
Also after I was married I was involved in a lot of church work, and in several plays that the different organizations put on. I was asked more and more to participate in local productions and at the same time wondering why we didn’t have any babies. My mother and mother-in-law both told me if I would stay home and take better care of myself I would get pregnant. I did and we were blessed with four children. I lost three babies with miscarriage and often thought how wonderful it would have been if I could have had them also. Then I would have seven children and how old they would be and whether or not they would have been girls or boys.
Son Bert Gets Very Ill
Our oldest child Guy Bertram, named after his father and my oldest brother, became very ill. The Dr. told us what medicine to buy. We had no money but Guy went to the store to see if he could charge the price of the medicine. The store owner said, “just can’t let people charge. You are among my closest friends but I can’t, times are so hard.” So Guy came home and took his choicest possession, a gun he had cherished for years, took it up, and asked if he couldn’t leave it there for the price of the medicine. Bro. Parley Redd said, “Why didn’t you tell me your boy was sick and needed medicine, I’d have let you have the medicine if we had to go without food.”
So Guy still kept his gun and in a few days, we were able to pay for the medicine. Seemed as though every time things seemed harder than we could cope with, our prayers were answered, and we gained more spiritual strength, and our faith grew stronger, friends were dearer, and families grew closer.
Just before our third child Virginia was born, Guy and I went to Manti, Utah to be married for Time and all Eternity. This was something I had looked forward to for a long time. Again events made life seem more than just living. Again I had something that meant so much more to life. I had been born of goodly parents and been baptized, now I had gone to the temple to be married for all eternity and had four sweet lovely children, one boy, and three girls. Bert our oldest had a heart condition that worried us a lot. He was put right to bed for 6 mo. when he was 6 yrs. old. Two or three years later Maxine was found with a heart murmur.
The Dr.’s told us I should not try to have any more children, at least for several years but in 5 yrs. I had Virginia and she was so healthy, so in 3 more yrs, I had Geniveve. I went to Moab to have her and as she also was born with a heart murmur the Dr. told me definitely not to have anymore said it was better for me to live and take care of four than to try and have more and not be here to take care of them. So 4 children were just half as many as I wanted to have. However, the three that had heart conditions outgrew them and they have all brought me so much joy.
We now built us a new home with four bedrooms and 1 and ½ baths. It was so wonderful, and we really enjoyed it.
World War II came just when our son Bert was the right age, so he joined the Marines and was sent to Camp Pendleton, Calif. His heart condition was so improved he was accepted, but they put him in an office job where the army life was not so strenuous.
When Maxine graduated from H.S., she went into nurses training in SLC. She had been there about six mo. when she decided to marry. She married Russ, a young man she had met in Calif. The summer before.
Bert shortly after returned from the war, came home and married Jane Winters, the daughter of one of my lifelong friends.
Virginia and Geniveve were soon married. My parents both died within two yrs. of each other. My health kept getting worse, and the Dr. thought it was my heart and as our home had lots of steps to go up and down that we should move again, so we moved up in town to a house with no up or downstairs. This did help, but it wasn’t the answer.
I had a hysterectomy and in about 2 yrs. a gall bladder surgery. Although the surgeries helped in some ways my health was still bad, finally a new Dr. came and sent me to SLC for tests he wasn’t able to take in Blanding and found I had Pernicious Anemia for which I would have to take injections the rest of my life. I felt I just couldn’t accept this but after going over a month without a shot I could tell I wasn’t the boss so I accepted it, learned to give myself shots, and after all a shot isn’t so bad especially when they make me feel so well and strong.
Return to Old Mexico
Guy was going to spend the summer away from home working in Monument Valley so he encouraged me to go on a B.Y.U. tour to Old Mexico which would last about 2 mo. I had always wanted to go back to Old Mexico for a visit so eagerly accepted his offer. I really enjoyed the tour and learned much about the country of my birth. By this time little grandchildren started coming so, I was anxious to get home. Grandchildren are so neat to have and I love them so much.
Updates on Children
Bert and Jane lived in Blanding and finally moved to Scottsdale, Arizona with their five children.
Maxine had divorced her 1st husband and married Kenney Christensen from Monticello where they have lived all this time and had three children.
Virginia and Duane Carlson lived in Farmington, New Mexico, moved to Blanding, to White Canyon, where Duane was in a mine accident, so they went to Provo to attend B.Y.U., to Ogden to graduate then moved to Monticello, Utah from there to Hawthorne, Nev. And then to Spanish Fork, Utah where they reside at present, they have six children.
Geniveve and Bob Newberry moved from Nebraska to California where Bob owns and operates a Crane Service Co. They are still in Calif. where their two children also live.
In 1973 my three brothers, their wives, Guy and I went back to Old Mexico, found the graves of our grandparents, fixed up their headstones which had been mutilated by the rebels, and also what we thought must be the graves of the three children buried there.
LDS Mission and Testimony
The next year March 3, 1974, my husband Guy passed away following a year’s illness. I stayed on in our old home and then in about six and a half years I was called on a mission to serve the Lord in the Washington, Seattle area. Moreover, I was only given three weeks from the time of my call until I was to be in the Mission Home in SLC.
I was glad I didn’t have time to think or even get scared till Virginia and Duane took me to the Mission Home. When it was time for them to leave I thought ‘Oh I’ll never see any of my family for at least one and a half years’ and I could hardly keep from breaking down completely. But now I know going on a mission was one of the greatest or the greatest decisions I ever made in my life. I had many spiritual experiences there which I would not trade for anything. In addition, I found myself and the true purposes of life and an unshakable testimony of the Gospel.
I came home from my mission and in about two years married Stanley Lyman. We lived in my old home for about four years and then moved to another newer home in Blanding.
As of this writing, I have four children, 17 grandchildren, (two have died leaving 15 living grandchildren), 21 great-grandchildren. I still feel I have a great responsibility in life being an example to my posterity, and to the two brothers I have left. However, I have so far to go in improving myself and being of more help to them all. I won’t have much to leave my posterity in worldly goods, but I have a strong testimony of the Gospel I would like to share with them.
I do know the Gospel is true and my prayers have been answered so many times. My husband and I and our children are sealed together for time and all eternity, and I am looking forward to all of us being together again. I love my Heavenly Father and know he loves me.
I love and appreciate my Mom and Dad very much, even more after having the opportunity to gather and compile Mom’s story.
Mom has had a lot of wonderful experiences and has always been a great example to her children and to all those around her.
At this time, she is still living in Blanding with husband Stanley Lyman, who keeps up her large home, garden, and yards. She is still a good cook, has kept her sense of humor, and still goes to church almost every Sunday.
I asked her three brothers to write some memories they have of her and appreciated so much their input.
Sincerely, and with Love for My Mother