Stephens, Eleanore - biography


Eleanore 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 scythe.

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.

The Mormon 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.

With her 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.

Eleanore's house was a dugout cellar. It was a deeply dug pit with a floor of poles covered
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.

In her later year's, Eleanore was living with her daughter. Mary Ann Pendleton, in Montana. She

passed away 26 August 1906, at Wisdom, Beaverhead, Montana. Her body was brought back for burial in the St. John, Oneida County Cemetery.


Submitted by Don Evans, great grandson










Stephens, Helenor

Thomas, Morris


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