Rhoda Jane Perkins Wakefield     Mini Bio


Rhoda Jane Perkins Wakefield

“I had a rather carefree childhood.  My time was spent partly in the little two-roomed log house, which was my Father’s wedding present to my Mother, and in which they had moved upon their return from their wedding in the St. George Temple.  This is the place I was born.  The other part of the time was spent at my Grandmother Perkins’ house where I had half a dozen long-legged uncles to pet and spoil me. My Uncle John, and Grandfather, had died with the Smallpox when I was five months old.  I was the only Grandchild in the family (locally) until my brother Reuben was born two years later.  Of course, in keeping with the family tradition, I must have my Grandmother’s and my Mother’s names, Rhoda Jane. 

The first thing I vaguely remember was stories of Indian scares.  I must have been very small when one day, four or five warriors crossed the street from the east and filed into Grandmother’s house.  I have always had it in mind that they had guns.  They were fierce looking fellows.  I do not know what tribe, perhaps Navajos.  My uncles treated them kindly and they offered no harm.  He had been a Navajo missionary.  There had been some trouble with the Apaches, in fact Indians had cruelly murdered Nathan Robinson four months before I was born.  The Chiricahuas, who were somewhat troublesome, had been removed from the Apache Reservation and had been shipped to Indian Reservations.  I think my Father took a load of them to Holbrook to the nearest railroad station.  I well remember how they sat in the bottom of the wagon box, the women and children wrapped in blankets or shawls.

I was naturally very tender hearted and emotional.  I have been told that when I cried, I broke everyone’s heart, but I was also naturally of a happy disposition. I loved to sing.  My Father used to call me his songbird.  He told me I sang the complete repertoire of the Church in Taylor, a pioneer ward two years my senior.

The only instrument I had was an old accordion of Father’s.  I used to take the hymnbook with only the words and compose my own tunes as I played.  I used to feel rather embarrassed for anyone to hear me… When I was 15 year old I started taking lessons on the organ. The only instrument available was in the Church House, which burned in Nov. 1898.  I did play and sing with the guitar, although I never owned one myself until my children were grown.

My Uncle Frank Perkins, with his intended, my Mother’s sister Sarah (Hancock) started for St. George to be married.  Somewhere near the Colorado River their team was stolen by outlaws and they were left in the wilds on foot.  In some way they got word back home, and Uncle Heber and Aunt Martha took our little team, Byo and Sailor, as far as Kanab, Utah, where they turned them over to Uncle Frank.  They then proceeded on their wedding trip.

Folks were poor and lived in poor, cold houses.   We were often sick with colds and fevers.  The only doctor the community knew for years was my Grandmother Margaret Hancock.  She did everything from bringing all the babies for miles around to curing all their aches and pains until grown and then commenced on the next generation.

The summer before I was ten, my Father and Mother with their little family of five, and another on the way, moved onto a part of our homestead called Perkins Springs (now Clay Springs, Arizona).  Here we spent the summer of 1892 living in one tiny room of a slab shanty.  Uncle Littleton and Aunt Carry occupied the other room. 

That fall, the 12th of Oct (1892) was celebrated nationally.  It was 400 years since Columbus discovered America.  It was my tenth birthday too.  We did not celebrate birthdays as they do today.  There were no cakes with candles.  If we got a little molasses cake or cookies or a chunk of sorghum candy, we were happy.

It was early in the year of 1904 when I first met the man whom I later married—Ira Wakefield.  One day when I was at Aunt Rhoda Young’s house, a stranger bearing every mark of a real cowboy appeared suddenly making pretence of wanting to buy milk-pen calves.  Actually my parents didn’t readily accept the attentions of the cowboy.  They were truly devout Latter-day Saints.  Nothing in this world was more precious than their children, except the gospel.

We were married on June 7th, 1906 in the Salt Lake Temple. Our trip to Salt Lake was quite an experience for me.  There I saw and rode in my first automobile…  After our return Ira was often away looking after our cattle interests on the Puerco Ranch.  We stayed with the Wakefields until Oct., then rented a little home on the block we afterward bought and where we built a home and lived for over forty years.  Here our family of nine children grew up…

The rearing of nine children left me little time for other activities outside of the Church.  During the period of my husband’s work as Bishop, my motherly ward work was increased, but I loved it.  I enjoyed this time in our lives more than any other.”

Rhoda lived after Ira’s passing (1947) for 24 years and died in Mesa, on 13 July 1971.