AMINA ANN RAYMOND STEPHENS
(Written by her Great-great grandson, Eric K. EMFIELD, c2002.)
Amina Ann (RAYMOND) STEPHENS was born on November 21, 1849 in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa. She was the first of seven children born to William Wallace RAYMOND and Almira (CUTLER) RAYMOND. Their children were; Amina Ann, Spencer Vanness, William Wallace Jr., Almira Seretta, Almeda, Jedediah Grant and Orson Curtis.
Amina entered this life in the same way she would live most of her life, amid hardship and constantly changing circumstances. Her father's family (the RAYMONDs) were farmers from Vermont, and her mother's family (the CUTLERs) were of Dutch descent, wagon makers and farmers from New York. Both families joined the LDS Church early during its inception, and migrated to Nauvoo, Illinois to join the Saints in Zion.
Because of increased persecution of the church members in the region, both the CUTLER and RAYMOND families left Nauvoo on May 24, 1846 and relocated at "Old Kanesville" (Council Bluffs), Pottawattamie County, Iowa where they made temporary homes until they were better prepared to make the trip to the Great Salt Lake basin.
The CUTLERs and the RAYMONDs were well acquainted with each other, and it was during this time W. "Wallace" RAYMOND (as he was known) and Almira CUTLER decided to get married. They were married on December 6, 1848 at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Amina Ann arrived almost a year later.
In June 1852, William Wallace and Almira started their journey across the Plains to the Rocky Mountains in Harmon CUTLER's Company, which consisted of two hundred sixty-two souls and sixty-three wagons. At Lupe Fork, Platts County, Wyoming, while the caravan rested during a very bad rain storm, Almira gave birth to Amina's first brother and their second child, Spencer Vanness, on July 12, 1852. At the time he was born it rained so hard Almira lay in the water up to her arm pits and some of the women held umbrellas and pans over her to help keep the rain from dripping on her. Amina was fast approaching her third birthday when they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in late September 1852.
Although tired and weary, they all rejoiced that they had arrived with their health and family intact. They settled in West Jordan on the Jordan River, residing there for one year, then relocating to Lehi, Utah. While in Lehi, Almira again bore another son, this one named for his father, William Wallace RAYMOND. He was born on March 28, 1854. Then on November 13, 1856, another daughter was born, Almira Seretta. Amina dearly loved having a little sister in addition to her brothers.
Even though she was not quite five years old, Amina was learning the life of a pioneer. There were three small children to help tend and lessons to learn about providing for ones family that she would use later in her own life, from watching her parents make a living from the land.
In the fall of 1858, her father William Wallace joined 13 other men to seek a new area to relocate to, and upon consulting President Lorin FARR, President of the Ogden Branch, he introduced them to an area of fertile soil and lots of water just ten miles northwest of Ogden. They named their new home "City of the Plains", but it was later shortened to "Plain City", as it is known today. Two months after settling there, Amina's father was called to be the President of the newly formed Plain City Branch.
One of the first concerns of these pioneers, was to provide themselves with shelter. Dugouts were made and used until log houses, and later adobe homes, could be built. Joseph SKEEN built the first log house in Plain City with W. Wallace RAYMOND bringing logs from a log home in Slaterville and rebuilding it at the place where he and Almira would spend the remainder of their earthly years. "Wallace" and Almira had their marriage solemnized for time and all eternity in the Logan Temple on July 6, 1861, with the first five children being sealed to them in Salt Lake Endowment House on July 7, 1886. [Were sealings done in the Endowment House? -RR]
Three more children were born to this family after they arrived in Plain City; Almeda, Nov. 12, 1860; Jedediah Grant, Feb. 19, 1863 (who died when he was 11, got killed when his leg was cut off in a mowing machine.); and Orson Curtis, Dec. 19, 1872.
In 1863, Amina's father was called on a Mission for the LDS Church. He was to preach the gospel to the good people of England for the next two and a half years. During this time, the mantle of responsibility to take care of the farm, children and other chores fell upon both mother (Almira) and her oldest daughter, Amina Ann. She was 14 years old now, and fast becoming like her mother. In just those short few years, she had already experienced life on the plains, Indians, nature's cruel twists and turns, yet this was all very normal to her. She knew no other life than this, and accepted life challenges as they came.
Religious services were held first in Joseph SKEEN's tent, then in a bowery made from willow branches. During the winter months, services were held in a dugout, until 1860 when they built an adobe building. The sacrifices and sufferings of the early settlers caused these humble people to appreciate blessings more fully than we can ever begin to imagine. They toiled long hours daily, with sometimes only a small amount of dried bread or potatoes, and sometimes soup made from roots or wild herbs. Pigweed or red-root greens were also eaten.
After the initial couple of years, things improved greatly for their family. Large gardens with strawberries, squash, asparagus and other vegetables were planted and harvested. They also raised sheep and grew flax from which Almira and Amina carded and wove cloth for their clothing. Almira was a very competent "tailoress" (as they were called in that day), and taught her daughter how to make their own clothes and suits for the men as well.
In 1867, Almira was called to be the Relief Society President in the Plain City Ward. She held that position for thirty-five years, until her death on March 17, 1902, aged 73 years. She was buried in the Plain City Cemetery. Amina's father returned in mid-1865 from his mission, and was made Bishop of the Plain City Ward. He held this position until 1875 when he was appointed Stake President, and he held that position until his passing on August 9, 1881. He was also buried in the Plain City Cemetery.
While the RAYMONDs were trying to find a suitable home and settling into the good life in Plain City, a young man by the name of Alexander Nephi STEPHENS was making preparations of his own, that would bring him into the life of Amina Ann RAYMOND.
Alexander Nephi STEPHENS was the fifth child of twelve, born on December 11, 1840 to John STEPHENS and Elizabeth (BRIGGS) STEPHENS. He was born in Chicago, Brown County, Illinois, where the family first heard the gospel and came to Nauvoo shortly thereafter. His parents family was from North Carolina.
Alexander was raised in similar circumstances as that of his future 2nd wife, Amina Ann RAYMOND. He was nine years old when they crossed the Plains. Their family arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on October 4, 1851 and settled in the Ogden area. He was educated in the Ogden Elementary schools and was so taken to learning, that he actually assisted for a time in teaching. That is when he met and married his first wife, Sarah Ellen GHEEN. (Two of Sarah's sisters were married to Heber C. KIMBALL in a polygamous marriage.)
They were married in Salt Lake City in 1860. Their first home was in Ogden where he was busily employed as a carpenter and cabinet maker. They had four children; William Nephi, born October 4, 1861; Ann Elizabeth, born August 22, 1864; Geneva Ellen, born October 2, 1866 (who died when about 16 years old); and John Andrew, born January 4, 1869.
In 1868, he built a comfortable home on his father's farm south of Ogden. On January 4, 1869 their second son and fourth child was born. The mother died nine days later. He was left with four small children to care for. The two older children were taken in by his brother, Daniel Monroe STEPHENS and his wife, and a Mrs. ELMER, a friend of the family, took care of the youngest two children.
During that summer, he met and married Amina Ann RAYMOND, on August 23, 1869. She loved and raised Alexander and Sarah's children as if they were her own. As a matter-of-fact, she worried so much about if she was raising them right, that one night she had a dream in which Sarah appeared to her and told Amina that she was raising them just as good if not better than she could. She told Alexander about her dream, describing the plaid dress Sarah was wearing, the color of her eyes, hair and other features, for no photograph of her existed and she had never met the family before meeting Alexander. He told Amina that what she experienced was real, for she described Sarah in such fine detail. This was a real comfort to Amina, who raised not only Alexander's first four children, but bore him eight children of their own.
Their children were; William Wallace, born May 3, 1871; Sarah (known as "Sadie") Amina, born January 29, 1875; Almeda Almira, born August 10, 1877; Alexander Vaness, born July 10, 1880; Rebecca, born May 4, 1883; Etta Imogene, born May 29, 1886; Umatilla Raymond, a girl, born March 19, 1890 & died December 19th of that year; and Edna STEPHENS, born November 27, 1891.
In 1870, an epidemic of smallpox visited Ogden. The STEPHENS families were among those stricken. So terrible was the disease, that rows of tents were erected east of the city and those ill were taken there. Alexander's father, John STEPHENS was numbered among the dead. He died on December 3, 1870.
About three years after the death of his father, Alexander Nephi was called to enter into plural marriage. Contrary to modern day interpretation, one did not simply choose to participate in polygamy, at least not within the Church. It was a sacred calling, just like any other church calling. Alexander was an upstanding church member and a sensitive husband. He sought Amina's feelings on the matter. She approached the Lord through prayer, and was told it was up to her. She consented and Alexander was married to an English girl by the name of Mary EAMES, who had come with her family to Plain City, Utah. They were married on April 10, 1873. Amina Ann and Mary maintained separate households directly across the street from each other and got along wonderfully, and Alexander provided well for each family.
Mary bore Alexander eight children. There were: Mary Inah, born January 5, 1874 (died at 2 yrs. of age); George Royden, born September 19, 1875 (died at 5 months old); Hannah Elizabeth, born October 19, 1877; Samuel Eames, born August 24, 1879; Curtis Lee, born March 16, 1881 (died at 10 months old); James Leon, born February 27, 1883; Amina Elmira, born September 27, 1885; and Grace Eames, born October 10, 1887.
In 1878, the Utah Northern Railroad Company was building the road from Ogden to Butte, Montana. The terminus was at Eagle Rock (present day "Idaho Falls"). John R. POOLE, a neighbor in Ogden was building the railroad grade at Market Lake (present day "Roberts") and became interested in the land on the island across the Snake River to the east, later called "Poole's Island" (present day "Menan"). Through his influence, the STEPHENS, RAYMOND and EAMES families came to the area in 1879.
In March of 1879, Alexander and Amina's brother, Spencer V. RAYMOND, came to investigate the area and each filed on a homestead and returned to Ogden to get their families. As soon as they could finalize business affairs and gather their families & goods, they traveled to "Poole's Island" (Menan), arriving on July 2, 1879. They immediately commenced building log houses and establish a home.
On the way there, they made camp by the creek at the Portneuf Canyon and raised a shelter to protect them from the sun while they rested. Two small children fell asleep. When Amina went to check on the children, she found a large rattlesnake coiled up next to the children. Being raised on the trail, she did not panic, but got Alexander, who grabbed his trusty gun "Sally Ann", and made a noise to arouse the snake. He crawled forward, took careful aim, and fired, clipping the snake's head off and thus saving the children from certain harm.
Although Alexander was known as an expert marksman, Amina became just as good with a gun, for often he was away from their home seeking venison or other food. She was always level-headed and did not panic easily. Amina was well school herself, and was a teacher just before she met Alexander, so their children were educated by their parents until schools were established in that part of the frontier.
Menan was indeed a strange place, different than Plain City or Ogden by far. Sage brush as tall as a wagon, with blue grass and rye grass growing abundantly out on the river bottoms. Cottonwood trees and willow thickets were everywhere along the river, and moose, elk, deer and antelope, plus the occasional grizzly bear provided them with meat.
In the fall of 1879, there was a disastrous fire which swept the mountains from Soda Springs to Yellowstone Park. The winter which followed was most severe and the animals came down into the valley to seek food. Game birds were everywhere and the trout were plentiful in all of the streams. During the high water season, mosquitoes were so bad, that they had to move themselves and the cattle up to the hills until the "gray clouds" of mosquitoes subsided.
Making a home in such an environment was what Amina had been raised to do. She had been in training all her life up to this point, and now she was doing it for her own family, and she did it well. Both she and Alexander learned how to cure and tan the hides from the Indians on the Island. Alexander even learned their language and made friends with them.
Once Alexander shot a large 800 pound, silver-tip grizzly bear. His gun "Sally Ann" brought the immense creature down with two shots directly in the forehead. Amina, Mary and their children helped skin the beast, and prepare it for their use. Over sixteen gallons of lard was rendered from its fat. The bear skin was hung across one end of their log home, completely covering one wall.
They farmed, planted apple trees, raised cattle and did all of the things that Amina had done on her father's farm in Plain City. Life was peaceful for the most part, and their small family and community began to grow. Even though their daily lives held challenges, they found that the persecutions they had left behind in Nauvoo were increasing as persons moved into the area who were not friendly towards the Mormons. Many of the old animosities surfaced again, particularly in regards to polygamy.
A law was passed that prevented Church members from voting or holding any office. Church property was being confiscated and any man who was supporting more than one wife and family was continuously harassed by U.S. Marshals and their deputies. Often the small children would be hurriedly moved from warm beds by their mothers and taken into the night to flee from these officers. It became extremely difficult to provide for both Amina's household and Mary's, so Alexander and several of the men gave themselves up to serve six months in the Boise Penitentiary for practicing polygamy. (He served his time in 1886.)
During this time, both the families and Alexander made the best of their circumstances, trusting in the Lord to help them through it all. While serving his time, he used his carpentry skills and made Amina an intricate box out of 3,152 pieces of wood. It is still in the possession of the family to this day. Amina and Mary wrote him and soon his time was served and he returned home. After the Manifesto in 1890, the persecutions faded away and the families could go back to taking care of each other again. Amina's children (and those of Sarah GHEEN's that she raised), played with Mary's children. They all got along well. Amina's children called her "Aunt Mary".
There were no doctors in the region, and Alexander set bones and Amina Ann performed mid-wife duties, delivering many children who are now grandparents or great-grandparents to residents in that area.
The Menan Relief Society was organized April 2, 1884, by John Rawlston POOLE, Presiding Elder of the ward under the name of Cedar Butte Relief Society. There were fifteen charter members and three new ones added the next week. The first President was Mary A. GREEN with Jennette POOLE, First Counselor, Amina STEPHENS, Second Counselor, Mary SHIPPEN, Secretary and Harriett BYBEE, assistant Secretary and Treasurer.
The first record we find of the organization of the Primary in the Menan Ward, Bannock Stake is taken from the minutes dated December 2, 1884, in which we find Amina STEPHENS as President, Harriett BYBEE first counselor, Hannah BYINGTON second counselor and Elizabeth BYBEE Secretary and Treasurer. These three sisters were called and set apart by Bishop Robert L. BYBEE. Amina STEPHENS served seventeen years in this position.
On November 29, 1901, Alexander and Amina moved their family to Rexburg, Idaho. Amina was appointed counselor in the Stake Relief Society. It was at this time, she also learned that she had "leakage of the heart".
In 1904, Amina moved from Menan back to Ogden, Utah in hopes that the lower elevation would improve her heart condition. She lived there twelve more years until her death on July 15, 1915. She was 65 years old. She was buried in the family plot in the Ogden City Cemetery.
After Amina's death, Alexander returned to Menan and Mary took care of him. While at Mary's home, death came suddenly to Alexander N. STEPHENS on January 17, 1916. He died of heart disease. He was 75 years old. His family buried him next to his first two wives in the Ogden Cemetery.
Mary (EAMES) STEPHENS also served well in the Church. In 1883, she was chosen first counselor in the M.I.A. In 1885, she was chosen second counselor in the Relief Society. In 1900, she was called to be the Relief Society President of the Menan Ward, a position she held for twenty years. She walked many miles to care for the needy, comfort the sick and those who were called to mourn. Mary died on April 17, 1937 in Menan, and is buried in the Cedar Butte Cemetery at Annis, Idaho.
With the death of Mary, the work began by Sarah, Amina and Alexander came to a close, leaving their legacy and example for their descendants to follow and carry on. Many of their children became well known and prominent people in the surrounding communities. It is with great appreciation that we look back and view their humble lives and try to measure the impact they had on future generations through their faithfulness and sacrifice.