(1859-1924) Daughter of Elijah Averett

By Christine Shumway Walser, her daughter

Jenett was born March 20, 1859, at Ephraim, Utah, the daughter of Elijah Averett and Christine Neilson. Maria was born with sturdy physical attributes. She received her strong attributes from her Danish mother. She received the fine principles of her father, who was one of a pair of twins brought up by Brigham Young. The twins, Elijah and Elisha, were left orphans until the pioneer leader adopted them into his family. (Elijah and Elisha would have been 37 years old at the time of their fatherís death in 1847. Further research needs to be done concering the statement of Brigham Young adopting the twins. By Georgenia Stewart)

When Maria was a little girl her shoulders were burdened with responsibilities. Her father had two families to provide for. In order to make a living; the mother was forced to work by day in the factory. Maria was thus left with the responsibility of caring for the home and the other brothers and sisters.

What meager schooling Maria received she earned for herself. She worked for the better-off families. They paid for her books. She had very few books because they didnít require many books in those days.

The foundation of Mariaís education comprised of simple arithmetic, writing, and spelling in the primary grades. She could never have been called ignorant. She had a keen, alert mind. Her quick observations were always reaching out to grasp whatever knowledge came within their reach. Later, Maria took all the free books she could get and studied them. The free books were furnished to the school children in grade school and high school. It was a common thing for her children to go to her for the correct spelling or pronunciation of a word.

When Maria was only 17, she became the wife of Wilson Glenn Shumway, on May 28, 1878, Kanab, Utah. Later, they were sealed in the Saint George Temple. When the young couple settled down, they worked with Wilsonís father, through an agreement with the older man. Charles Shumway was a great pioneer, and was always true and loyal to his church, he was sometimes tempestuous and harsh with his children. Through some displeasure at this sons and in a fit of anger, he turned the pair out of his home to drift penniless in search of work. They were fortunate to catch a chance to work in a place known as Seamenís Mill. Maria got a job cooking for the mill hands.

A few months later Mariaís first child was born. About four years later they came to Concho, Arizona, a little Mormon, Mexican town. Here, they spent some of the happiest days of their lives. Maria use to tell her children of the good times spent in Concho.

There were dances and a choir in which they took great interest in learning. Here, Maria found life-long friendships with people who use to travel many miles to visit her.

Mariaís third child, Clarence, was born in Concho. The family only lived there a few years and then moved to Shumway, Arizona. In Shumway, Arizona, six of the children were born.

During the early days of this settlement the struggle against ill health and poverty was present. Through the struggles Maria showed courage and fortitude. She was stouthearted, cool-headed, and fearless. An example of Mariaís courage was shown at the time of the killing of Nate Robinson by the Indians. Every man in the village had been called out to hunt Indians. One night not a soul was left in the settlement but Maria and her little children. She didnít have the slightest feeling of fear. In the late hours of that night a pounding upon the door awakened her. She calmly threw on some clothes and went to the door to face not Indians, but some of the searching party.

In the later years of Mariaís life she suffered severe spells of pain from which seemed to be no deliverance. Time after time she gained instant relief when the Elders administered to her. It was through her great faith and that of her family that she was healed many times.

I, Christine her daughter, remember many times when the gallstone attacks came upon her. Since there were no doctors close enough and no money, my father would say, "Run and get Brother Rhoton." Away I would go. I can bear testimony that as a child I have seen Brother Rhoton lay his hands on my motherís head and command the disease to depart, then she would be about her work in a matter of minutes.

After many years of suffering with the gallstones, the doctor who lived ninety miles from us advised her family send her to Los Angeles. So, her family took her to Los Angeles. The doctor said he thought it was cancer. Our aunt, Martha Elzade Averett Stewart and her husband Alonzo Lafayette Stewart, who lived in Los Angeles, contacted a specialist. The specialist examined Maria and found that is was gallstones.

I was with her during all this and the operation. The doctor took a bottle of big gallstones from Maria. Maria had left her children, the youngest being only five, so she was anxious to get home. She begged the doctor to release her and he finally let her come home.

The wound was still draining and as soon as the tube was taken out it closed the drainage. She was left with great pain. If possible she had even greater pain than she had before. She nearly lost her life. At this time was stake conference. Brother Melvin J. Ballard was our visitor from Salt Lake City representing the authorities of the church. He with our Stake Patriarch, Brother John Hatch, who had great faith, came and blessed my mother. They thought her spirit had left her body, but she was brought back and healed instantly. She did not have another attack for the rest of her life. She had fairly good health the rest of her life though she only lived twelve years longer. When she died she was snatched so suddenly that we didnít have time to call for any help. At that time I lived on a ranch. I would always come down to Relief Society and go with my mother. She lived just across the street from the church. That day I was a little late, so I did not go to my mothers. I did not find her at church as I expected to. Before the meeting was out one of the Grandchildren came running into the meeting saying that Grandma died. We all ran out of the church. When we got to her she was gone, and we could not call her back. We were thankful to the Lord for giving her twelve years of life since her last terrible illness. We were thankful she didnít suffer and didnít taste death. I believe she didnít get a chance to taste death because she had suffered so much earlier in her life.

This was the end of the life of my dear Mother, Jenett Maria Shumway.