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Sarah Luiza "Ludie" Ellis (1875-1946 )

Story of Ludie Part III

by Tami Lynn Hassell Thompson

On the 6th of March 1903 Ludie Ellis Hassell married John Thomas Whetten. She was his fourth wife. They were married and sealed by A.F.McDonald. John T. was thirteen years older than Ludie. He had eleven children by his first wife Agnes Bezora Savage Whetten. His oldest son, John Amasa, was nearly as old as Ludie was. His second wife, Emma Johanna Nielsen, had a family of eight children but four of them had passed away. His third wife Lorania Nelson had children from a former marriage but she didn't have any Whetten children.

Life went on for Ludie much as it had before her marriage. John T. wasn't at home very much because he worked wherever he could tomake a living for his wives and numerous children. Ludie continued to manage the best she could to provide for the six children she had. The difference was that on the 29th of December 1903, her first Whetten baby was born. She was named Maneta. She was born prematurely and only weighed five pounds, but she lived and grew into a normal healthy little girl.

On 15 February 1906 another little girl was born. They named her Zorina. and on the 8th of August 1907 Luften Cray Whetten was born. They called him Tucker. in 1910 on Valentine's Day, little Anthony Valentine was born, d. 1929.

John T. Whetten was the Bishop of the Garcia Ward during these years and everyone had a lot of love and respect for him. Ludie respected him very much and taught her children to respect him and his other wives and children.

They lived as one big family but each wife had her own house for her and her children. Whenever stake visitors came, Ludie would go to her chicken coop and kill two or three chickens for Belzora to fry up for them. The families worked together and shared what they had. Times were getting better and life was much more pleasant in many ways.

in 1904 Emma Johanna Nielsen Whetten passed away and her four children went to live with Lorania. then later some went to live with Belzora's family. By working together they all seemed to get along pretty well. These good times were not to last, however, because troubles were brewing in Mexico.

In 1910 a revolution broke out and different bands of soldiers began coming through the colonies demanding ammunition, animals and food or whatever else they wanted.

By 1912 when Ludie was expecting a baby, the Stake President sent a message to all the colonies asking all the people to leave the country. He felt it just wasn't safe to remain in the country any longer.

Bishop Whetten was very busy trying to provide transportation for all his own family besides all the other people of the ward. They left the country with scarcely any provisions as they were asked to take only a change of clothing for the children and just a lunch for the road. They had to go off leaving everything just the way it was in their homes. They just opened the doors and turned the animals out to forage for themselves.

Ludie wasn't feeling good and was afraid her baby would be born on the trip, but there wasn't anything she could do but go along. They went in wagons to Pearson, where they boarded the train for El Paso, there the American government and the people of that area tried to help the refugees relocate. Those who had relatives were helped to go to them, wherever they lived.

John Thomas' 3rd wife Lorania, went on to Utah where she had relatives, but Belzora's family and Ludie's family were taken with many other people to some big lumber sheds. Ludie was especially grateful for the help Belzora gave her at this time because she was so miserable before her baby came.

Water had been piped into the sheds and sanitary facilities were made available for the people to use but as it was summer time and the sheds had a tin roof, it was unbearably hot. To get a little privacy, each family hung blankets or quilts on wire to divide the big open sheds into sections.

On 25 August 1912 little Ellis was born in the lumber sheds. She was a healthy eight pound baby and it was a relief to everyone when they found that she was all right.

About this time, John Thomas became very ill. His older sons had located jobs at a sawmill in New Mexico so they took their father John Thomas and mother Belzora and the older children and left the younger children with Ludie in the lumber sheds in El Paso. She stayed there doing the best she could until October. By then John Thomas was able to find a place for Ludie to live so he sent for her and the children. Now they knew, as they were in the United States, where it was illegal to have more than one wife, they would have to be on alert.

In Bluewater NM they all suffered through a very cold winter and little Tony, about two and a half years old came down with what the doctors called typhoid pneumonia. For eleven weeks they were never able to put their light out during the night as someone had to sit up with little Tony.

After caring for little Tony for such a long time Ludie just didn't have enough milk for her baby Ellis. She had weighed eight pounds at birth but by the time she was three months old she had not gained an ounce. A good neighbor lady by the name of Sister Nelson, came and said, "You're just worn out, Ludie. You just forget about this baby and let me take care of her for you."

Whenever she could Ludie would slip into this neighbor's home to see her baby. She was appalled to see that the baby was being fed on pure ice cream, but she thrived on it and was soon gaining weight and growing normally.

Because of the severe cold John Thomas began to suffer greatly from rheumatism. He got so bad that he couldn't get around. His oldest son, John Amasa decided to take him and his wife Belzora, to Arizona to see if he could get over this malady. Finally he began to get better but it was three years before he could get back to Bluewater to see how Ludie and her family were faring.

In the meantime the older Hassell children were able to obtain employment at one thing or another and even Clair was able to get a job working on a cattle ranch as a chore boy. When the rancher found out that Clair's mother Ludie, had small children and no way of supporting herself, he was very good to help her out.

When John T. was able to get back to Bluewater to see his family, he felt there were two things that needed to be done. First, he felt that Ludie should go to Salt Lake City and go to the temple and get her endowments. The second thing was that he needed to gather his whole family together again back in Mexico, where they owned property and could all live as a family.

Almost before Ludie realized it, she was on a train traveling to Salt Lake City. This certainly wasn't the way she had pictured goiing to Zion in her daydreams and she certainly wasn't happy about going alone.

She made the trip safely but as she entered the temple with her recommend, the man sitting at the entrance asked her if she was married or single. When he found out that she had been married and sealed outside of the temple he told her gruffly that her marriage wasn't valid and she couldn't enter the temple.

Oh, what was she to do! there she was all alone in the city and she didn't know what to do. As she walked along the busy street, it suddenly came into her mind to find Anthony W. Ivins, a former President of the Juarez Stake. On enquiring she found where his office as and looked until she finally found him. President Ivins kindly invited her into his office and listened intently as she told him her story. When she had finished, he said, "Will you sit here a few minutes while I write a letter?" In a few minutes he handed her a sealed envelope and asked her to take it to the temple.

As she went back to the temple she kept wondering what message was in the letter and if it would help her any. When she presented the letter at the desk, the man read the letter and then ushered her right into the temple. During the following years she often wondered what brief message President Ivins had enclosed in the sealed envelope that permitted her to accomplish her mission in Salt Lake City.

For a while Ludie lived in Belzora'a home while the revolution was still raging. Often groups of soldiers would come through town and would stop and ask for food. Many a time Belzora and Ludie would share the food that they had prepared for their own children with the hungry soldiers.

As soon as families began to return to Colonia Garcia, John T. made arrangements with a young man by the name of Willard Shupe, to move Ludie and her children back to Colonia Garcia to their own home.

John T. was called to work in the stake presi...
(text stopped here on Tami Thompson's website, site is closed.)

05-02-2010 her website is now found at

- Ludie's Story courtesy of Tami Thompson   -   email: 
- Photos courtesy of Dwyn Larson     


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Related links:
  Ludie's parents
  Ludie's page with John T.
  Ludie's page with Uriah.

  Story of Ludie Part I
  Story of Ludie Part II