ESTHER WEIR STEDMAN (18 Mar 1883 – 14 Jan 1963) was born in Gifford, Hot Spring County, Arkansas the daughter of Lenora Weir and David Samuel Stedman.
Esther married Charles Morgan Reid in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah on 20 Apr 1899. She and Charles lived much of their married lives in Clinton, Davis County, Utah on a small farm that Charles and his brother, George Washington Bailey Reid, had jointly purchased.
Esther and Charles had nine children of record, including unnamed twins who died at birth:
- Ethel Esther Reid (21 Sep 1900 – 28 Oct 1900)
- Myrtle Reid (3 Sep 1901 – 22 Mar 1994)
- Charles Marcus Reid (28 May 1904 – 8 Dec 1906)
- George Samuel Reid (10 Feb 1906 – 10 Nov 1990)
- Zilpha Elizabeth Reid (20 Dec 1907 – 24 Sep 2000)
- Mark Reid (19 Oct 1909 – 19 Oct 1909)
- Lenora Reid (27 Apr 1911 – 22 Oct 1928)
Esther and Charles lived on the Clinton farm until after Charles’ death in 1829. Following his death, Esther was cared for by her children until her death on 14 Jan 1963. Esther is buried in the Clinton City Cemetery, Clinton, Davis County, Utah.
Esther’s life was one of repeated tragedy, yet one lived with the great hope of a better tomorrow. One look into her piercing dark eyes, told the story. Forsaken at birth by her father, Esther was raised by her mother under the specter of illegitimacy until her mother died when Esther was 4 years old. After her mother’s death, it took several years before arrangements were finally made for Esther to be given to the care of Samuel P. and Zilpha Bailey Owens, providing Esther some benefit of legitimacy that she deserved. Under the care of a stable family, there was hope of a more normal life.
While they were unwilling to adopt her, the Owens did dutifully provide for Esther’s care. Unfortunately, Esther was raised by the Owens with the clear understanding that her foster care was dependent on contributions from her father, David, and that she must also contribute to her own care in every way possible. It was a difficult burden to place on a child, yet such were the circumstances of Esther’s early youth. Clinging to the hope of a better day, Esther endured. Not long after being received into foster care, the Owens were introduced to and accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For Esther, the message was heaven sent, and a glimmer of hope shone forth.
Not long after their conversion, the Owens moved with Esther to Tennessee and then, two years later, on to Utah where they initially settled in Bountiful. They had been in Bountiful for one year when the opportunity came to move to the hills of the “Sandridge”, where the Owens took up land in the area now known as Clinton. The Owens worked hard to prosper on that land. Esther was now in her teens, and while the Owens were working to tame the land, Esther was hired out to local families to work as a housekeeper and nanny. It was while working for the Beus family that Esther met Charles Morgan Reid, who had become interested in Esther and called on her often. Their friendship blossomed, and at the tender age of 16, the prospect of hope finally beamed brightly when Esther and Charles were married.
Unfortunately, tragedy would continue to follow. Soon after her marriage to Charles, daughter Ethel was born, only to die one month later. Ethel was named after one of Esther’s dearest childhood friends, and only a mother could understand Esther’s grief at the loss of her first child. Gratefully, other children would follow. Myrtle arrived a year later and son Charles Marcus some three years thereafter. The respite from tragedy and grief was welcomed, but not long lived. Eight months after the birth of her fourth child, George Samuel, young Charles Marcus died of convulsions. Tragedy had struck again, and Esther’s grief and pain were overwhelming.
That pattern of life would continue. At the age of two, if not for divine providence, son George Samuel nearly died from an accident on the farm. Economic and personal calamities followed, including an accident Charles Morgan suffered while taking a load of beets to processing that resulted in his permanent disability. Were it not enough, the crucible of adversity intensified as Charles Morgan’s physical and mental health deteriorated due to disease, and he was institutionalized at the state mental health facility. Then once again, another child was taken. This time precious Lenora, who had been suffering from serious kidney infection while in her teens. Tragically, Lenora died at age 17, not long after Charles had been admitted to the mental hospital. Within a year of Lenora’s death, Charles Morgan died from complications of his disease, leaving Esther widowed and wondering where and when she would find refuge from the storm.
Incredibly, Esther found the strength to carry on. Her children rallied around her to help with the farm and the other pressures of life. More tragedy would come when the home was accidently consumed by fire, and the farm lost to foreclosure. Once again Esther carried on, buoyed up by the love and strength of family and the kindness of neighbors. Surely her determination and courage was a marvel and inspiration to witness.
After nearly 80 years of suffering all that life thrust upon her with quiet dignity and resolve, Esther was finally beckoned to enter the enduring rest of her eternal home. Reflecting on Esther Weir Stedman’s life, one must acknowledge that were it not for her unfailing embrace of hope and faith in God, she would not have been able to endure all that life presented her. Yet endure she did. Never did she forsake her God, and we know that her unyielding trust in Him will be richly rewarded. It’s a lesson for all of her posterity to know and embrace. As she looks down upon us now, that is mother Esther’s final hope.
A chronology of events of the birth and subsequent arrangements for guardianship and foster care for Esther Weir Stedman are detailed in the Research Files section of this site.
Esther penned this brief account of her life:
I was born in Warren, Bradley County, Arkansas, in the year 1883, month March 18th. My Father was Samuel Stedman and my Mother was Lenora Weir. I was adopted when I was four years old to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel P. Owen at Mother’s death. They went to Tennessee. There, where we met the Mormon Elders, Mr. and Mrs. Owen joined the Church and came to Utah in March of 1894. I was baptized in Salt Lake City, Utah. They moved to Bountiful, Utah, for one year. Then they moved to what is Clinton, Davis County, Utah, in 1895.”
I was married in April the 20th, 1899 to Charles Morgan Reid. I was sixteen on March 18th, and we were married in the Salt Lake Temple. We both enjoyed life in going to church and teaching the children to pray and keep the Word of Wisdom, to go to church and be kind to each other and their playmates too; and pay Fast Offerings and Tithing. We first had a horse and cart, then, when the children came, we had a buggy. We enjoyed the horses in our days in farming. When the car was here, we had one car and one truck on the farm. We had a good orchard till life was busy. We were honored for our kindness to all. This is my best wishes to all of my children, grandchildren and the great grandchildren to be faithful in the Church life.
Mother, Granma, Great Granma,
Mrs. Esther Reid
A Tribute to his Mother entitled “My Mother’s Beauty” – by George Samuel Reid
My Mother’s beauty was found in her courage as well as her features. She was orphaned when 4 years old and adopted by Samuel P. and Zelpha Bailey Owen, who joined the Church while in Tennessee and then moved to Utah at Bountiful.
She helped the desert to become a garden of beauty. She grubbed the sage brush from the flats just east of the freeway in Sunset, to make way for the fields of grain and alfalfa. That is now part of Hill field.
She helped subdue the raw sand of the Sandridge in Clinton. This farm was known for its delicious fruit and choice vegetables. She gave birth to 9 children of which she buried 6 and her husband “My Father!
She kept her courage through unfaltering faith; by her devotion in constant prayer, feeling that peace and happiness with security was formed in righteousness.
Esther received her patriarchal blessing on April 24, 1904, under the hands of Patriarch Judson Johnan. She was blessed “with the richest blessings of earth beneath and heaven above.” Esther was promised, “Thy table shall be spread with the best fruits of the land.” This promise was literally fulfilled, for the apples, peaches, and cherries that husband Charlie raised in his orchard were acclaimed throughout the area; the year Charlie entered them in the State fair, they won first place. That year, Charlie gave President Heber J. Grant a couple of bushels of apples, and received a book of poetry in return. A banker from Ogden who bought fruit from him would take a friend from back East to the Reid orchard to eat the tasty fruit Charlie produced.
She was told she would have a numerous posterity who would “rise up and bless thee, honor thee and be an honor unto thee and God’s people. Yea, great and mighty men and women shall spring from thy loins, men who shall have power with the heavens and shall bear rule in Zion. Yea, prophets, seers, and revelators shall call thee Mother.” To this very day many of Esther’s posterity are living examples of this promised blessing.
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