Aunt Ruth’s Life Story
(exact title optional)(suggestions welcome)
Donald Elbert Mote
Added comment in red
Phillip E. Harris Jr.
I hereby take the liberty with the consent of the relatives of writing this true life story about Ruth Delia Warner from the standpoint of an adoring nephew, because she was always my favorite “auntie”.
life story about Ruth would be complete without mention of her parents. Her father was Clifford Wallace Warner, who
was a railroad engineer who apparently worked for one of the rail lines which
Her mother was Eva Claudia (Jaycox) Warner, who took nurse’s training in Dr. Kellogg’s old Sanitarium in Battle Creek under Dr. Kate Lindsay, and was evidently employed there at the San upon completion of her course. I have her graduation class picture and one of her text books.
Apparently it was there at the Sanitarium the Eva Claudia Jaycox met her future husband, Clifford Warner. His first wife died there of tuberculosis. Ironically, Eva Claudia Jaycox contracted the disease from the first Mrs. Warner, who had been one of her patients. According to Aunt Ruth’s own brief write-up about her life, the nurses there at the San had to work very hard for long hours and her mother was in what she termed, “in a run-down condition”, which made her more susceptible to the disease.
Aunt Ruth relates in her own brief write-up about her life the she first opened her eyes to the light of day on January 30, 1897, in Dr. John Harvey Kellogg’s world famous Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, during a big blizzard. Her grandmother had gone out to get some things for her mother, and had considerable difficulty in finding her way back in the storm.
story of Ruth Delia Warner’s immediate family seems to have been one of leaving
When Ruth was age 3, her mother decided to give up her job
there at the San and travel west to
traveled by passenger train to
In those early days, Uncle Rosewell operated a small grist mill at their Swamp Creek location, powered by a water wheel.
Warner spent some time at the Portland Adventist Sanitarium, and her health improved
to the point the she decided to take a nursing job there. Clara and Ruth went with her and stayed with
a family in
About that time Clifford Warner also came West and joined his family. He filed on a homestead in the Blachly area and there they made their home.
I have often heard my own mother, Clara while she was living, relate stories about some of the hardships they endured while clearing land and carving a home out of the wilderness, so to speak. Blachly was a remote, backwoods community in those days, and life was not easy.
By this time, another baby was on the way, and Ruth’s mother grew worse, again. When the baby came they barely saved it, and (Ruth’s) mother only lived a short time after that. The new baby was (her) little brother, Lester. This was in the month of August, 1902.
Aunt Ruth relates how difficult it was to lose here mother and go live with another family. A Mrs. Atkins had promised to take in Clara and Ruth, so they stayed with the Atkins family for a while. Apparently, Mildred and Lester stayed on with the Clevengers and eventually became two of their adopted children.
a couple of years their father remarried and they were together again. However, it didn’t last. A few months later their step-mother was
killed in an unfortunate accident. Clara
and Ruth lived with their father and blind grandmother for a while on the
homestead, until Clifford Warner decided to return to
Aunt Ruth stated in her own life-story that their grandmother had been blind since about age 60, but that she could still do house-work., and even sew and knit.
So, the girls remained with grandmother on the homestead. Their father had given each one of them a heifer calf, and when their calves were grown and started giving milk, the girls milked their cows and separated the milk and sold the cream. Ruth also stated that some of their neighbors assisted them in getting in their hay crops and fire wood. They also raised a garden.
1910, several families in the Blachly area decided to
Ruth relates that she had wanted to become a nurse, like her mother, but she
met (see note) Theodore Sprague in
Note, Ruth states: “When I
was sixteen I started going with Theodore Sprague, whom I had known in
and Theodore were married in April of 1913.
Ruth was 16 years of age. They
made their home in
Only Juanita was born in
was always a hard worker. Right up until
the time her eldest (Juanita, her first-born)
child was born, she worked in the cotton fields. She picked cotton under the scorching hot
When Juanita was just a baby, Ruth was riding side-saddle one day, and dressed up in a long dress, with her hair done up in a bun, and with a hat on her head, and a veil over her face, and holding baby Juanita in her arms as she rode. What a striking sight they must have been. One of those new-fangled autos scared the horse and it broke into a dead run. She lost her hat and her hairpins, and her long hair was blowing in the wind. However, Ruth didn’t panic. She kept her cool as best she could. It took quite a while for her husband to catch up with her, but when he did, Ruth and baby Juanita were just fine.
Another story was related about the black snake incident. Ruth’s sewing machine stood in front of a window. There was a clothes line full of clothes hanging above it. Suddenly, Ruth noticed the clothes moving. She thought that was strange since it was such a calm day with no breeze, whatever. She pulled some of the clothing aside and discovered a black snake hiding amongst the clothing. Ruth let out a scream and someone rushed in and killed the snake. Black snakes have been known to a length of 10 feet. In the old days, they were used as buggy whips. Life was far from being boring in those days.
some point (between July, 1914 and May 1915) the
family decided to return to
was perhaps my earliest recollection concerning Aunt Ruth probably occurred
around 1918 or 1919. Apparently my
mother had gone back to
I distinctly remember Aunt Ruth telling my mother that the Clevengers lived in the front part of the house. What I did not know then was that the old Clevenger farm would figure prominently in my own personal life a few years hence.
father and mother had separated and it was for that reason that we came west to
join relatives in
old farm house on the Clevenger farm was constructed of rough-sawn lumber and
built box-and-batten style, as was often common practice in the early days of
At some point after that, the partnership with the Clevengers on the farm was dissolved and Theodore Sprague obtained employment in the logging industry.
In Aunt Ruth’s own write-up about her life, mention was made about the untimely and tragic death of her husband in a logging accident.
I recall it, my mother and stepfather, and we kids, had made a trip down to the
Mother and Aunt Ruth were having such a wonderful time visiting, as sisters usually do, and we three kids, Iris, Victor and I, were also having a wonderful time playing with our cousins, Juanita, Denzil, Violet, Winona and Arthur.
One night after we had all gone to bed, a strange car appeared in the driveway, and the driver was inquiring for a Mrs. Sprague. It turned out to be Aunt Ruth’s pastor. His name was Patterson. He had brought bad news. Aunt Ruth’s husband, Theodore Sprague, had just been killed in an unfortunate logging accident.
Ruth managed, with my mother’s help and in spite of her tears, to get her
children dressed, and into the pastor’s car, and they
returned with him to the
Ruth remained a single parent for more than 2 years, but finally remarried,
this time to Lincoln Medley Harris. I
still remember their visit to our home on the Foster ranch again, north of
I recall it, Lincoln Medley Harris leased a farm a few miles out in the country
didn’t see them again until I was high school age and we were living in the
coastal town of
Some time after that, Aunt Ruth and family must have returned to the Cottage Grove area, because Medley Harris, Aunt Ruth’s husband, came up to Newport to work with stepfather in the logging industry. For some reason it didn't work out, and Medley Harris returned to their home, which was then about half a mile up the road from the Clevenger farm. Stepfather and I still weren't getting along, so I went with Medley Harris and stayed with the Clevengers for a while, working on their farm for them. It was during that great depression and there wasn't nearly enough jobs for the experienced men, to say nothing of youths in their late teens, just out of high school.
I stayed with the Clevengers on their farm for some time, working without pay. I offered my services free to them just to have a place to stay. Naturally, since Aunt Ruth lived just up the road a piece, I frequently went up to visit them of an evening, after working hours. This may have occurred around the year 1933, or even later, as my high schooling was interrupted several times for various reasons, due to the depression and what not.
after this, brother Victor and I were both jobless, so we got into my old Model
T Ford Sedan and went up to Hood River, Oregon to look for a job picking
fruit. Out of
all of the seasonable farm labor seemed to be over, we all wound up at Aunt
Ruth’s place. At that time she lived
Ruth and her husband were living in a large, two-story white house. Daughter Winona and her husband were living
in an upstairs apartment. Denzil and Nita moved into a small cabin behind the
house. Brother Victor and I moved into an
old log house on the same property. We
worked briefly in the area for some of the Harris’ that Aunt Ruth’s husband was
related to. As I recall it, cousin
Violet was newly married to Phil Harris at this time and lived in
When we first arrived at Aunt Ruth’s home, she invited me up to the house to use their bath tub. It had been a couple of months since I had a decent bath. When I was finished with taking my bath and had gotten dressed, I came out of the bathroom and I asked Aunt Ruth if they had a scoop shovel. She said she thought they did and that it was probably out back in a certain storage shed. Then she asked what I wanted it for. I replied that my bath water was so muddy that I was a little afraid that it might clog the drain, and that perhaps I should use the scoop shovel to empty the tub. We both had a good chuckle out of that one. She had a sense of humor, too, in addition to her other good qualities.
summer, in more recent years, we loaded our camper onto the pick-up truck and
took a vacation trip to
had been only a few years since their son, Lincoln
Medley Harris, Jr. had been killed in
many years after this visit she lost her second husband to cancer. Some time after that she went to live with
daughter Winona in
mother and grand mother were Seventh-day Adventists all their lives, and the
Adventist influence on her was very strong.
Several of her relatives (see note) had
personally known Ellen G. White, one of the early founders of the Adventist
church. Ruth could recall the time she
rode in a surrey belonging to Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who was another one of
the early Adventist pioneers and founder (see note)
of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. She
could also recall dropping coins in the offering plate at the old Dime
Note: They were Sherman Chandler Harris and Myrtle
Grandmother Myrtle related to me that Ellen White, who lived nearby, at Elmshaven, provided a wedding gift when she and Chan were
married. They both received nurses
training at the St. Helena Sanitarium and then were married there. They then went to
Note: The Battle Creek Sanitarium was founded as the “Western Health Reform Institute” in 1866 by James and Ellen White. John Harvey Kellogg was only eight years old at the time. After receiving medical training, he became the superintendent in 1875. He changed the focus to total health care and coined the term, “sanitarium”. Under his direction, the renamed, Battle Creek Sanitarium gain world wide fame. He is also credited with the development of corn flakes as a ready-to-eat cereal and together with his brother, William K. Kellogg, established the Kellogg Cereal Company.
have heard my own mother tell about Dr. Kellogg’s huge mansion in
Aunt Ruth loved to sing and she had a beautiful high soprano voice. She loved to sing in the choir, and sang duets with her husband. She also held various offices in the church, such as Sabbath School Superintendent, deaconess, and a teacher in the children’s classes. She donated regularly to Adventist radio and television ministries such as the Voice of Prophecy, the Quiet Hour, and others.
passed to her rest in the Lord at
If there is really any such things as a new heavens and a new earth, and a future life, I want to be a part of it, and see dear Aunt Ruth again, as well as all the other beautiful people mentioned in the true story of her life.
By an adoring nephew,
Donald Elbert Mote