HISTORY OF SARAH RUSS
Wife of Elbridge Farr
Sarah Russ was the daughter of Hezekiah Russ and Ruth Wright. She was born 6 February 1805, in Middlefield, Hampshire, Mass. The first part is the incidents of her life as a child in her own hand writing.
I was born Wednesday, February 6, 1805. Mother often said that I was an extra ordinary good-natured child until I was one year old. Then all at once I cried the most of the time when awake. She did not know what ailed me. I think that I was hurt by a girl that used to come and play with us. After I was old enough to remember I never liked to play with her she was so savage with little children. She would whip or hurt them some way to make them cry and when she got them crying she would laugh and hop and jump and say, "Oh! I do love to hear them cry." Her parents were very good people so called. After she was ten or twelve years old she dare not go away from the house for fear the devil would get her for she would see him often. She cried then as bad as she liked to hear children cry. She was that way quite awhile before she got over it. When I was four years old my parents sent me to school. I had to go one mile and a quarter. I soon got tired out going so far, but my parents would make me go. They wanted me to get learning. It was too much for me. It kept me weak.
Father rented part of this farm to Mr. Scovill and they lived in the house with us. They had three boys, the youngest was mean to me. One day I went to the front door and just as I stepped into it, Brigham, their youngest son threw a rock, it hit me in my breast and knocked me over. Mrs. Scovill asked, "What is the matter with Sally?" Mother said, "Brigham knocked her down with a rock!" "Oh!" Mrs. Scovill said, "If she did not know enough to get out of the - - -I did not know that Brigham was anywhere near." I disliked their boys so much that I kept away from them as much as I possibly could. Their two oldest would quarrel and fight often. That made me afraid to be near them.
When I was four years old my sister, Delinda, died with the dysentery, (29 August 1810.) I had a severe attack of it. I was so much better when she died that I went to the grave and saw her buried. I was so lonesome that I knew not what to do. I would often go into- - -and get into some places out of sight and sit there alone and think about little Delinda. Oh! how I wished she could come back to play with me.
My mother would talk to Aminda, my sister, older than I, and me and ask us questions about Adam and all the noted people the Bible tells about, and tell us what great things they done. She would teach us the catechism contained in Roger's Primer and explain it to us to have us understand it. She learned us the Ten Commandments. She had us learn Psalms and hymns. We would repeat them when we were at work. One evening she was teaching us about Christ and his apostles, she told us what they did, how they healed the sick, etc. She said, "That Jesus took little children in his arms and blessed them." That struck my mind, I said to Mamma, "Why don't they do so now?" She replied, "That is all done away with now." I felt very sorry that such things were done away with. I really thought that such things ought to be practiced now as well as then because Christ instituted it. I often thought of it and wished that it had been my lot to lived on this earth when and where the Savior did.
When I was eight years old father sold his farm and bought in Perre Hollow. We all felt pleased to get there it was so much warmer and less wind. There it was but half a mile to school if we went around the road, we generally went across. I did not have so far to walk to school. I could learn fast, but I had troubles there. The school children would tell tales about me to the teacher to get me punished. I thought the whole town was against me. I thought it was because my father was a Methodist. There but two or three more in town of that order.
When I was about nine or ten, Lucy Thompson came to father and said that the seventh chapter of Ezekiel was read in the air in Mass. I forgot what town it was in. I think it was not far from where we used to live. She said that every word was spoken as plain as could be. There were men to work in the field that heard it. They said it sounded exactly over head, but there was nothing to be seen. Those that were in their houses heard it. The sound was over head. Some went up stairs thinking that possibly might be some one a reading there, but nothing to be seen. Still the reading went on as plain as ever. Some put their heads out of the windows to determine where it was. They said it was exactly overhead. They thought it must be an angel and thought it would surely come to pass. The next summer we had a very cold season. The corn was cut off by frost in June to the ground. It grew up again. The ears got large enough for green corn to cook and then the frost cut it down again. That ruined it. The astrologers said there were spots before the sun. Upon closer observation they said it was stars between the sun and the earth that kept the heat off from the earth so that things could not grow as usual.
On Perre Hill it froze water. Not far from this time there was a great talk about the Northern Lights. Some thought it was the sign of Christ's second reign on earth. Billy Hibbard composed two hymns upon the subject, one of them stated that they would shine forth until Christ came. There was a great many different opinions about it. Some talked very wicked. They made wicked speeches upon the subject It made mother feel bad that they should make such wicked speeches about what the Lord had done. She said they ought to be submissive and say it is the Lord that hath done it, blessed be his name.
The summer after I was twelve mother was taken sick the last of May or the first of June. She had the Kings Evil. Doctor Sears thought that he could cure it with Secutel. She put it on the boil for a poultice and took it inside. It made her worse. She lived until September. She died 4 September 1817, leaving four children to mourn her loss. These four children were, Sarah, Vinson, Fanny and David Whitney. The fall after aunt Ferris Biglow, was to fathers, she was talking to grandmother about us. She said, "Oh, poor children they never will know what they lost." I think it was the next winter after that Amanda was coming home from school. She broke through the ice and wet her feet. When she got home she never changed her stockings or dried her feet. In a few days she was taken with a pain in her side. She thought she would get over it soon. It was seated too strong to be moved by what we did. She would work all day when she was so lame that she could not rise up alone in the morning. The doctor came he said, "She had a settled fever, she had a bad cough ever after she had the whooping cough the summer before."
After the death of Ruth Wright, Sarah Russ's mother, her father Hezekiah Russ married Mary Sexton as a second wife. He had four children, Mary Ann, Jonathon, Joshiah Ward, and Amasa, by this second wife. He died 4 March 1853.
Sarah Russ married Elbridge Farr, 3 July 1828, in Mass. Elbridge Farr was born 5 May 1803. They lived in Mass., where their four oldest children were born, Diantha K., 6 September 1829. Elbridge Sheldon, 27 January 1831. Ansel born 21 March 1832 and Ruth born 2 January 1834. They moved from Mass. to Chatham, Medina County, Ohio. Their last four children were born here and they were Cynthia born 22 November 1835, Raymond Franklin born 12 October 1837, Sarah Matilda born 1 May 1841, and Martin born 20 November 1846. At this place they had a large farm, a nice dwelling house, big barn, farm implements, horses and cattle.
About the first of the year 1849, Father, Elbridge Farr, took sick having consumption. While ill the Mormon Elders visited their house. He believed their teachings and said when he got well he would join the church. He never recovered from his illness, dying 19 April 1849. Elbridge Farr, the father, was a very religious man, but Sarah Russ had not taken much thought of religion until after her husbands death. The sorrow and responsibility of the children after his passing set her to thinking about spiritual things. Her husband had belonged to the Methodist church and her parents to another. She wanted to go with her husband when she died. She was not a church member and did not know what church to join. In her desire to choose correctly, she began to seek the Lord in prayer. She decided to fast and pray to obtain this knowledge. She fasted and prayed three days. She remained out husking corn so that her children would not know she was fasting. She went by herself to pray. While she was praying she felt impressed to go to a certain widower. (This widower was a Mormon Missionary, there on a mission). She was a shy widow and felt she could not go to any widower for information. She was impressed to go to this widower for this knowledge about the church she should join. She was disappointed and felt that she would rather go to hell as to inquire of this widower. She was not satisfied and went out again to pray, and she told her Father in Heaven, that she would rather go to hell for a thousand years as to inquire of this man. Then these words came to her very forcefully as if some one had spoken to her, "For ever and ever." She thought must I go to hell forever and ever? Then she felt she must go to him, and she went to his place immediately, before returning to her house, for fear she would change her mind and not do as she was bidden. When she arrived at his home and told him what she came for, he explained to her some of the first principals of the Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Her husbands people were very angry when they heard she was going to join the Mormons. Through their actions toward her it caused her older children to turn against her too. Her oldest son, Elbridge, was at this time going to College away from home. When he learned about her believing in the Mormons he wrote his mother and said, "Mother I would hate it mighty bad if you took the children and went into China and raised them among the heathen, but I would not hate it as bad as if you joined the Mormons and took them to Utah. Would you join the Mormons? Would you take my little brothers and sisters and go to Utah if it caused my death? She wrote him and said, "Yes, I know it is true and I have to join them." Shortly after she joined the church he died of a broken heart. She felt real bad about the way her children and her husband's people felt toward her about joining the church.
Sarah Russ invited the L. D. S. Missionaries to hold a meeting at her home. Her son Ansel, thought he would spite his mother, and chagrin the missionaries, so he told every one in town about this meeting. Out of curiosity many came to this meeting. The house and yard was crowded with people. The Elders stood in the doorway so the people both inside and outside the house could hear them. It was a benefit to the Elders and the church instead of a detriment. Sarah Russ Farr, and her children, Franklin, Matilda and Ruth were baptized April 1831-1832 in Ohio by Samuel Bird.
After she joined the church she made preparations to emigrate to Utah with the Saints. Her husband's people being so angry at her and because her children were under age they would not let her sell any of her property or take it to help her on her journey. She went out to work to get enough to emigrate to Utah. She got a chance to let her little daughter Sarah Matilda who was ten years go with a company of emigrants, and lead a blind woman for what she could eat and wear. Sarah Matilda walked all the way across the plains and led the blind woman. The mother thought she would go in the next company. She did not have enough to go on when they left. It was a year before she could go.
In 1853 she emigrated to Utah taking her children, Ruth, Raymond, Franklin and Martin. She would like to have taken Cynthia who cried to go, but Ansel held her, and would not let her go. (He said to his mother, "If you go, you go without us.")
Sarah Russ Farr arrived in Utah and settled in Spanish Fork. She did not have any bedding. The army had been through Utah and left a lot of their old clothes. She took old coats and cut them up and made them into quilts. They did not have any thread to sew them with, so before they cut them into pieces she raveled out the threads and used them to sew with. She was very industrious, doing all the things the early pioneers did, like cording, spinning, weaving and etc.
Sarah Russ Fair died in Spanish Fork, Utah 31 August 1914, true to the faith for which she had suffered so much for.
(She never did see the children again that she left behind when she went to Utah, but years later, her daughter, Sarah Matilda, went to Michigan and visited with her brother, Ansel, who grabbed Cynthia, the little daughter, off the wagon seat and held her tight. She was 71 years old and her brother was 79 years old.)
(Sent to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, April 1955)