Stephens was born 15 April, 1831, in Pencader,
Carmarthen, Wales. to
David Phillip Stephens and Jane Evans.
She was the oldest of 10 children: Eleanore, Daniel,
Thomas, Ann, Mary, John, Jane, David Evan, Rachel and Evan.
At the age
of seven she was indentured to a family and worked for them for fourteen years.
She took care of the livestock, milked cows and goats. She would rise at 4:00
AM to do the milking, which had to be done before breakfast. She took bundles
of grain out of the stack and flail to thresh the grain. Her morning chores
took about three
hours. Then she had to take care of the milking utensils. She was responsible
for making butter and cheese. At harvest time she went to the hayfields and
pitched hay. Eleanore harvested grain by hand with a
Times were hard in 1838 when they had to indenture their
child at age seven. They had to feed and clothe their children. They could own
no property or educate the children. A ten percent tithing was collected for
the Church of England whether you were a member or not. They were the poorest
of the poor as sharecrop fanners.
On 28 September, 1859 Eleanore
married Morris Thomas, They had five children: David Stephen, Margaret, Morris,
Thomas Stephen and Evan. Two of these children died, Margaret in 1862 and
Morris in 1866 just one month before his father who died in 1866.
church was proselytizing for members by offering free
land and paid passage to America.
The Perpetual Emigration fund loaned the money which had to be paid back.
Eleanore immigrated to America
on 2 June 1869 on the ship Minnesota with three of
her children, David, seven, Thomas, four, and Evan, an infant. They landed in New York and continued their journey on the Union Pacific
Railroad to Ogden, Utah. The trip took eleven days. They walked
to the Welsh community of Willard, Utah,
They were twenty two days from Wales.
Two weeks after arriving. Eleanore's three year old
son, Evan, died.
The missionaries had been full of zeal about America and Eleanore and her family almost
believed the streets were paved with gold. They were very disappointed with the
desolate land they found.
Every day miseries became more and more unbearable. They struggled
to survive, and subsisted
mainly on wheat gleaned from the fields of farmers
in the area. The grasshopper and Mormon cricket scourge was plaguing the farmers.
The black bodies blanketed the fields and the entire community was called on to
fight them. The Salt
Lake seagulls came to the
rescue. Eleanore received permission to glean and
sieve the wheat from damaged fields. She called on past experience and with her
children's help gathered twenty-six bushels. The grain
was worth f ive
dollars a bushel. The hard effort allowed the family to survive.
In the fall of 1889, Eleanore married
Moses Dudley in polygamy, and in the spring of 1870 they moved to Cherry Creek,
south of Malad. They moved in to a built cabin with a
shingled roof and flooring. A
daughter, Mary Ann was born on 22 January 1871. From word of mouth, passed down
in the family, Moses was very cruel to Eleanore, and
she divorced him. She then took her family and moved to St. John. Idaho.
children she homesteaded one hundred sixty acres. Her parents and siblings had homesteaded
West of Malad. The most desirable land, located with
running water was already settled. Fortunately, water would soon become available
from an irrigation canal. They proceeded to clear land and plant crops. The
land was covered with prickly pear cactus and sagebrush. Fencing the perimeter
was too expensive as barbed wire was not available and wood had to be brought
from the canyons. Consequently, the crops had to be policed day and night to
protect from marauding livestock.
house was a dugout cellar. It was a deeply dug pit with a floor of poles
with dirt. Steps led down to the door. In her later years, she became blind.
She was called `Mungee' which is Welsh for
grandmother. She never bothered to learn to speak, read, or write English. She
was always able when the children were in the orchard, to holler "You
children leave my apples alone." Even in Welsh the children understood. As
a mid-wife, Eleanore delivered babies at all times of
the day or night anywhere in the community (for free). She was also very active
in all community affairs.
Years later, the brothers
built large two story red brick homes on the homestead about one quarter mile
apart. The homes were built with money received from selling their ranches in Montana. They raised
their families and fanned the land for the rest of their lives. The land is
still owned and farmed by their heirs A favorite story
concerns a pregnant Indian squaw at Eleanor's door one rainy night. As was customary,
a squaw went out alone to papoose. After being fed and dried, she refused to
sleep in the house but preferred the chicken coop. The next morning she birthed
a healthy boy papoose. The squaw gleefully exclaimed that she could go home
now. She would have to wait one moon had it been a girl.
(A moon is one month.)
After establishing themselves on the homestead,
they went back to Willard to bring the body of little Evan to a gravesite in St. John, but fences had
been put up and the course of the creek had been changed, and the body could
not be found.
Eleanor, in the minds of many, was the leading lady in St. John. She coped with
many hardships and never wavered. Her life had been hard since she was
indentured out to a family at seven years old and had to do such very hard
labor for a child. They say she had a hard, but colorful existence.
later year's, Eleanore was living with her daughter. Mary Ann Pendleton, in Montana.
passed away 26 August 1906, at Wisdom, Beaverhead,
Montana. Her body was brought
back for burial in the St. John, Oneida County
by Don Evans, great grandson