Sunday, May 31, 2009

Memory Mondays ~ Temptation and a Teapot

Several times in my life my father George Dean Ellsworth told me this story. I remember his smile as he remembered the incident as well as the tears in his eyes and the emotion in his voice as he spoke of his dear mother's conviction to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Annie Dean Ellsworth
June 26, 1884 ~ Sept. 6, 1960

Young George ducked just in time. A commotion from inside the kitchen window had startled him. His mother's angry voice had sounded just before the object came hurtling past him...

Annie Dean lived in a tiny village called Flaunden in the county of Hertfordshire, England in the 1880's. Her family was very poor having 12 children to feed and a father who worked only long enough to buy his liquor. The children all worked binding hay, helping with harvests, selling acorns they had gathered in the woods, and picking rocks from farmer's fields. They would often live on fruits and nuts they and scrounged from neighboring orchards. When she turned eleven and had finished fourth grade she had to leave home to become a housekeeper's apprentice. Annie had always wondered about religion and was never quite happy with any church she attended. none of them felt right to her. At the age of 18 she was confirmed into the Church of England. She said it was one of the darkest days of her life. When she was alone in her room she felt surrounded by gloom so she thought she might try to read from her prayer book. As she touched the book a cold chill ran through her body. She laid it down and asked herself, "How do I know which church is right?" Then, for the first time in her life, she knelt down and prayed in her own words. The darkness and gloom left her but her feeling of restlessness remained. Soon she was invited to the home of a friend to listen to the preaching of two boarders living there. They called themselves Mormons. Every word they spoke rang true to Annie's heart. Within three weeks she was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In another two weeks she was working in the mission home as a cook and housekeeper. Eventually arrangements had been made for her passage to America. She went back home to visit her family and tell them of her happiness. Her father, upon hearing her mention the name of Brigham Young stood and left the room. This was very hard on her because she knew she would likely never see him or any of her family again. Thus it was with great courage and faith that she left her home and country in 1907 to make a new life for herself in "Zion". In the following years she became a registered nurse, married, gave birth to twin daughters, and lost her husband to cancer when the twins were only 2 months old. She eventually found her way to Mesa, Arizona where, among other nursing jobs, she worked caring for Caroline Ellsworth, a a very ill woman with a young daughter. Carries' condition eventually caused her passing away, leaving her husband Frank alone with little Ruth. He soon began to court Annie and it wasn't long before their two families became one. The twins Lora and Dora, along with Ruth were joined in the following years by George, Naomi, Joseph, Martha, and Robert. Annie and Frank filled their life together with joy in their family and service to others. Living just across Main Street and up North Hobson St. in Mesa they could walk to the new temple. They served in the temple for many years. Annie was filled with compassion nursing many ill people and helping to bring many babies into the world as a mid-wife. She never turned anyone away during the Great Depression, sharing what food the family had with those in need. Through all of her years of devotion to her God and service to others there was still one temptation that nagged at her and caused her much annoyance. She had never gotten over the desire for afternoon tea every day when the time rolled around. Not that she would ever succumb to it but it troubled her that the temptation was still there. And so it was on that particular day she determined to rid herself of the desire once and for all. On her stove was a tea kettle she used for heating water. She seized hold of it and cried out in a voice that came from her very core.

...when he lifted his head out in the yard George was puzzled. There in the grass lay the object that had nearly hit him in the head...his mother's tea kettle!

Annie would later tell him the story and how she was never bothered by the want for "tea time" again. George grew into a fine man and loved to tell the tale of the tea kettle and how proud he was of his mother, her faith, courage, and determination.

This little tea pot belonged to my Grandmother Annie Dean Ellsworth
but is NOT the one from the story!


Helen Ellsworth said...

Marianne; I just finished writing to Chris. I checked your blog and found the story about Mother Ellsworth. I noticed you have her born in 1844. I know it was a "typo". But just so people who read it won't think she was 105 years old when she died I am just going to say she was born in 1884.
I enjoyed the story. This was the kind of thing I decided I would put in my Blog, since I don't have a very interesting life now. But here I sit and don't have a Blog yet. Oh well I will surprise you one of these days. Maybe.
Love you Mom

Marianne said...

I fixed it Mom! I was really tired last night! Thanks for pointing it out.

Anonymous said...

Such a wonderful story, Marianne. When we hear about the dedication and hard work of our ancestors, it sure makes us realize how easy our lives are in these times. Not that we aren't faced with challenges but I've never been afraid of starving...not yet anyway!! Your grandmother sounds like a woman with a lot of spunk...and I did notice the birthdate of 1844 and I thought WOW, she lived to be soooo old, could that possibly be right??? She must be in the Guinness Book of World Records!! HA!

Nancy Face said...

Hi! I got those birds in a set of four from Coldwater Creek Outlet about 3 months ago, and Lauren and I each got two! I checked, and SURPRISE! They're still available! Here's the linky:

Annie said...

Thank you for sharing! I love hearing stories about my namesake and that is one I haven't heard before. IF you don't mind I'll be stealing your post and adding it to my own blog! I promise I'll give you credit for it! Love you!

Gena said...

I can still hear Dad laughing and see the smile on his face as he told that story. I miss him.

How is my Michael really doing? (sorry to ask you to be a snitch, I'm just a little worried).

Anonymous said...

Marianne, I just read Gena's post and comment to you and I'm wondering about Michael. Did he ever go in to talk to our son-in-law? Raleigh said he hadn't seen him but I'm wondering if Michael went in and they missed each other. I know they were hiring when Brent called Michael about going in to talk to him and I don't know the situation now but I can, for sure, find out. Maybe he's not interested in that type of work but let me know what happened there.

URFAVE5 said...

Aunt Marianne, I loved this story! I love this "Memory Monday" thing your doing. I love reading all these stories that I have never heard. I sure wish that Grandma would start a blog and share some more of these good stories.
Thanks for sharing!!!
Love you all,

Anonymous said...

Marianne, Will you send me an e-mail at so I can have your e-mail address and I will send you the info I have about jobs for Michael.