Rhoda Condra McClelland Perkins


Rhoda Condra McClelland Perkins

-- by her Granddaughter, Rhoda Perkins Wakefield--

Josiah McClelland was born in 1785.  Soon after his marriage to Nancy Reynolds, he and his bride moved to Nashville Tennessee, which was a US fort at that time.  In that early day they had to move on packhorses.  Josiah is credited with having assisted in building the first residence proper in Nashville.

They had three children there, Rebecca, Elizabeth and the third, a boy who died along with his mother when he was but a few days old.  Soon after this sad bereavement, Josiah took his two little girls and moved to Monroe Co., Kentucky.  There he became acquainted with Miss Rhoda Condra, who became my great grandmother.  To this couple were born ten children.  The first six were born in Monroe Co.  Josiah then moved his family to Jackson Co., TN, where the last four were born.

Josiah’s and Rhoda’s fourth child was given the full name of her mother; Rhoda Condra McClelland.  As it was handed to her, it has likewise come down to her daughter and several grand daughters, of which I am one… When Rhoda was quite young she learned to row a boat and was an excellent horseback rider.  She learned the tailoring trade, which served her well, when she made clothes for her seven sons.

When Grandmother was scarcely eighteen her mother died.  Some of the older children had married and the care of the large family was on her shoulders.  Her father had built a good home but with a lack of conveniences, there was much work for the women folk.

Neighbors and friends of the McClellands, some of which were the Perkins… were pushing toward the west… Reuben Perkins and Josiah McClelland families must have been very close.  At least two of the young folks had a mutual understanding and plans for the future.  Jesse Nelson Perkins, son of Reuben and Elizabeth Perkins had gone to Missouri two years earlier to secure a home.  He procured several acres of land, built a two-room house and had the little nest ready for his bride to be.

Jesse and Rhoda were the first couple to be married in Mercer Co., MO (13 Jan. 1842).  {Their first two sons were born at their home in Grundy Co., MO}  About this time, there were rumors about a new religion, and a man called Joseph Smith.  Jesse listened to this gospel and was baptized (1848) into the LDS Church by his brother, Andrew H. Perkins, who joined the church earlier in Nauvoo and had come as a missionary to his people in Missouri.

As soon as word got out that they had joined the Mormons, persecution commenced.  Missourians were very hostile and cruel. Although Rhoda had not yet been baptized, when she attempted to go to see her father, stepmother, brothers and sisters, she was driven back by a mob, among which were two of her brothers-in-law.  She always declared they were not worthy of, nor would they get, her sisters for their wives in the hereafter.  Who could blame her for that feeling toward them?  Persecution was so great it became necessary for this family to leave secretly with their belongings loaded into one small wagon.  Their bins were full of grain, their smoke house full of meat.  They left it all for the gospel’s sake, driving away through tall grass that straightened up again after the wheels passed over, leaving little evidence of the way they had gone. 

The Perkins family traveled as far as Council Bluffs, joining with the saints.  Rhoda was baptized there in 1849.  They arrived at Salt Lake in Oct. 1849.  The following April, Jesse & Rhoda’s third son was born.  He was called Brigham Young Perkins.  {The family then resettled in Bountiful, where their remaining children were born, Heber Kimball, Jesse N. Jr., Reuben Josiah, Franklin Monroe, and finally, a longed for daughter, Rhoda Elizabeth Perkins.} 

The family of my grandparents was grown when it was called (1875) by Brigham Young to help settle southern Utah.  They had lived in Bountiful for twenty-five years; had acquired quite an amount of property, cattle and sheep, etc. and a good two-story home with orchard, garden and pasture.  But, like other saints who were called by authority to leave these comforts and all they held dear, they obeyed the call for the gospel’s sake, left it all to go down on the Sevier River, buying farmland at Hillsdale, eight miles south of Panguitch, where they again established a home.

The family remained here for two years, when they were again called to leave that home and go on to Arizona.  Some time was spent making ready for this long difficult journey into nowhere, as it seemed in those days.  Flour was ground from their wheat.  Wool from their sheep was made into fine woolen goods.  These and other items were exchanged for equipment more practical for their journey.  Teams of oxen were acquired by trading farm equipment, which they could not take along.  Grandmother had put down kegs of butter, which were stored away for future use for her large family. 

When they reached Lees Ferry, they camped near the Colorado River, while Grandfather and Grandmother went back (for two weeks) to work in the St. George Temple, which had just been dedicated (1877). 

{On New Year’s Day, 1878, they crossed the Colorado River and headed south to the settlement of Lehi (north side of Mesa) on the banks of the Salt River, where they made their home and where Jesse was called to preside over the saints in that area.  Within a year though, they sold their lands, gave their water rights to the local Indians, and moved their family and belongings to Walker (now Taylor) Arizona.  Here they bought town and farm lots and built a nice home.  Rhoda was called to be the first Relief Society President in this new settlement.

Three years later (1883), her husband of 41 years, became ill from Small Pox while tending his dying son in their home.  Both father and son were buried near each other in Taylor.  Rhoda continued on for several more years, long enough to learn of the death of another one of her sons.  Eventually, this good woman passed away due to an epidemic of “Lagrippe” (or Influenza) on 15 April 1898.  She was buried next to her husband in Taylor, Arizona.