Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Helen Alcy Tanner Maxfield

I like to read when I nurse my baby to sleep at night.  I have been reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice on Kelsey's Kindle, but Matt was browsing on it tonight looking at an upcoming Angus Bull Sale in Charlo, Montana that he would love to go to.  So, as I sat down to feed Kenna and settle in for a few minutes, I grabbed a book off of my bookcase and read a little excerpt about my great great grandmother, Helen Alcy Tanner Maxfield.
Here we go from memory - she is was born in 1839 in Illinois.  She married Elijah Hiett Maxfield when she was 17.  The portion I read about tonight talked about her medical career.  In 1861, she was called by the LDS church to be a midwife in the Salt Lake Valley.  She was 22 years old.  She became quite the doctor and received her license to practice obstetrics from the Territory of Utah.
In the late 1870s, Elijah and Helen moved south to Rabbit Valley, specifically East Loa, now known as Lyman.  That is my hometown - where I grew up.  Times were rough and Lyman is now and was especially then, a very rural place.  At the time, there was not a real road into the valley and the closest large town was Richfield, 60 miles away.  She charged $3.00 for her services which included delivery of the baby, care of the mother, cooking and feeding the family, and cleaning the home as well.
Reports say she delivered over 2000 babies into this world, and only lost a few.  She helped her sister in-law deliver Siamese twin girls and both babies died, and later a sickly mother of 11 children also died during childbirth.  Those are the only deaths she attended as a midwife.
Her last child born, Ethel Mae, who is my great grandmother, was delivered by herself of course, with a bit of help from her husband Elijah.
I wish I could find a good picture of Helen right now while I am on the computer since she is fresh in my mind, but I can not find one right now to put on here.  I do know they exist though. I have pictures of both of her parents.  Helen came from a very well known and prominent family, the Tanners.

This picture is of her husband Elijah.  His eyes remind me of my own dad's eyes.  This overall picture actually looks very much like my cousin Mike Welch.  
The picture at the top of the page is a picture of their headstone found in the Lyman Cemetery.  I remember riding bikes out to the cemetery.  It is not in town, but a mile or two west of town.  It was sort of a right-of-passage when you became old enough and big enough to ride your bike clear out to the cemetery.  Anyway, my cousins and friends and I used to ride out there often.  I remember loving their headstone.  There is a phrase engraved into the bottom of the headstone that you can not see very well in the photo.  It says "Weep not children, for mother and me
For we are waiting in glory for thee"
I always loved this phrase and maybe that is why I loved their headstone so much.  I remember leaving the cemetery and chanting that phrase in my mind as I pedaled my bike back home.  It is a beautiful and wonderful assurance to a child like myself who liked to hang around cemeteries I guess.

1 comment:

Tori said...

Love this.... thank you!


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