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  • Writer's pictureAmyanne rigby

Family History should come with Frosting

Family history should come with frosting. Yesterday I made my great grandmother Jennie Smith's cake recipe- it is more than 100 years old. It was discovered in the recipes of one of her great niece's. Many thanks to David Barkdull, the descendant of Eugene Smith (Jennie's older brother for sharing it). I ran across David's email address on familysearch. He has been instrumental in my family's discovery of photos and missing tidbits on our grandmother Jennie's life.

Strangely enough, my dad came by yesterday while I was baking the cake. It was so fun for me to share the recipe of his grandmother Jennie with him. We finally had a tangible memory of her. My dad teared up a bit- this is definitely the part about family history I like best!

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup sugar

2 eggs unbeaten

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups sifted flour

3/4 cup milk

method: combine shortening, salt, and vanilla and add sugar gradually cream until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly, after each addiction. Add baking powder to flour and sift 3 times. Add small amounts of flour to creamed mixture alternatively with milk, mixing each addition until smooth. Pour batter into 2- 8 inch greased and floured pans. Bake cake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Frost with chocolate icing.

Preface: the following is the essay Stockton entered in the Thomas X. Smith Foundation scholarship essay contest for which he was awarded $500 to use towards his education at SUU this fall.

Jennie Smith

Christian Metz once said, “Behold the work of the old… let your heritage not be lost, treasure and blessing… gather the lost and the hidden and preserve it for thy children.” This quote truly reminds me of my ancestors including my great, great grandmother Jennie Smith. There is so much to learn from my ancestors. Knowing where I came from and the people in my line is a treasure and a blessing.

Jennie Smith was born on September 17, 1892 in Logan, Utah. She was the youngest daughter of prominent Logan citizen Thomas X. Smith and Anne Masters Howe. Jennie died at the age of 26. We have little knowledge of Jennie’s life- a few photos, a few letters, a few documents, and her favorite cake recipe. But her legacy lived on through her two children, Ruth Mabel Stoddard (Kimball) and Edwin Cleveland Stoddard (Kimball). Jennie is my great great grandmother.

However, Jennie’s life can be pieced together through the life of her mother. Jennie’s mother, Anne Howe came from Birmingham, England where she worked in a lace factory. Anne joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1852; She arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in Captain Haight’s wagon company at the age of 18. After more than 10 years in England securing funds to travel to the United States and then joined the trek across the plains to Utah. Having the determination and perseverance to work 10 years to travel across the ocean because of faith in something really inspires me to take things I believe in and put all my effort into them. It probably won’t be as big of a leap of faith as moving across the world and giving up a lot of my possessions and leaving friends and family, but it encourages me with everything in my life to give all I have. Jennie too must have felt of her mother’s faith.

Jennie grew up in Logan, Utah. She must have met her husband Edwin through the railway. It made frequent stops in Logan.He came from Uintah, a small community nestled in the mouth of the Ogden Canyon. It was the railroad which brought them together. It was also the railroad which tore them apart.

Jennie Smith and Edwin Cleveland Stoddard fell in love at the beginning of World War I. They were married June 24, 1914 and lived in northern Utah from Logan to Ogden to Salt Lake City trying to provide for one another and living happily. In the little information my family has on Jennie it is not hard to tell that she and Edwin Stoddard loved each other very much. Reading the letters Edwin and Jennie sent to one another, Edwin talks about love and how hard it is for him to be away from his family saying,

“Isn’t it the most glorious thing this love one gets for another. It appears most heavenly in its mission, and dear I enjoy it more and more every day. And it is getting most unbearable. Can’t you come, won’t you come dear, as you have stolen into my life and it appears that you have become a part of it, to leave as silently as you entered would nearly break my heart, I do believe.” Jennie replied to Edwin saying, “No one can tell how I felt when I heard you were ill. I would give anything if you were here and I could care for you. O. Bug! Why did you go? I’m just heart sick. Ever since you left I’ve been so depressed and felt as if something would happen. If you were only home…”

It was Edwin who became infected with the flu and exposed Jennie to it on a short visit home. When he learned of Jennie’s illness, he himself was gravely ill and arrived at home on a stretcher. Theirs is a great love story.

This love between Jennie and Edwin, shows me how marriage should be and that loving and caring for someone means you may have to leave to provide for your family, Edwin was a great example of this. Jennie died in the flu epidemic of 1918 with her 9 month baby Ruth lying in the bassinet next to her bed. Ruth was my great grandmother.

The family legend goes that Jennie had a great fear of stepmothers. Knowing of this fear, her sister Marie and husband Leo raised my great grandmother and her brother Edwin Cleveland Stoddard. Edwin remarried and had children. Many of these children are not in the church today. Jennie’s wish allowed her lineage and my family to be raised in the LDS church. Without Jennie’s wish, my life would be completely different. I am grateful for Jennie’s short but faithful life. It allowed my family to be how it is today.


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