Rhoda Ann Knell 
(1858-1945)

 


LIFE SKETCH OF RHODA ANN KNELL CANNON
Written by Mabel Jarvis.

     Rhoda Ann Knell is the daughter of Mary Crook and Robert Knell. Rhoda's mother, Mary, received the Gospel of the LDS Church in England and was baptized into the Church by Erastus Snow. She and her husband, Elias Eagles came to America and with other Saints located in Burlington, Iowa at which place her husband deserted her and her three small children. He left for Australia and she never heard from him.
     Mrs. Eagles was well-acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith, who at one time blessed her and promised her that she would be blessed of the Lord, the way would be opened before her and she would be able to accomplish the things she desired. This was a comfort to her and sustained her in all of her trials. She had little property but disposed of enough, through the aid of her brother-in-law, Robert Harris, to secure two yoke of oxen and wagons, and she and two children (she had buried one in Burlington) left with the Saints for Utah, arriving in 1848. She located in Salt Lake City where she worked in a shoe factory for a number of years.
     Rhoda's father, Robert Knell, joined the LDS Church at his home on the Isle of Wight. He emigrated to America, landing at New Orleans. From there he went to St. Louis and joined the Saints who were on their way to Utah. He drove a herd of sheep for Lorenzo Young, walking the entire distance. Arriving in Utah, he located in Kaysville. In 1854 he married Mary Crook Eagles.
     When Johnson's Army came west, President Brigham Young advised all people living north of Salt Lake City to move into the city for safety. On May 5, 1858 Robert Knell and his family left for that place and on May 7, Rhoda Ann Knell was born, being the second child born to them. 
      Ten days later the family moved to what is now known as Alpine, the father going back to Kaysville occasionally to look after his interest there. When they found the army was not going to interfere they returned to their homes where they remained until 1862, when they moved to Pinto, in Washington County, Utah.
     Robert Knell was called to preside over Pinto Ward as Bishop and served for twenty years. He was a faithful Latter-day Saint and not only taught the Gospel, but lived it, and his children reflect his teachings in their own lives. He was watermaster for many years.
     Their home was a typical pioneer home. They made their own soap with lye leached from ashes made by burning cottonwood which they traveled many miles to get. They made their own candles, but she remembers when their only light was from a string burning in a dish of fat. They cut the wool from the sheep, washed, picked, dyed, carded, and spun it into yarn, then wove it into cloth and made the material into clothes in their own home. Rhoda Ann remembers how proud she was of a dress her sister, Elizabeth, made for her if she would tend the baby. She wove blue and white yarn together, making what was known as a blue-gray. She went with her father to the Parowan Bottoms to gather saleratus from the ground, which they put in jars and poured water over it. After the sediment had settled to the bottom of the jars, the liquid on top was drained carefully off and used with sour milk to make biscuits.
     One year crickets came to the valley in great swarms. They devoured every green thing in sight. Conditions were serious, but later in the season, Bishop Knell discovered some grain had come up on a part of his farm, though the weeds were much thicker than the grain. So he took his girls to the farm where they spent days and days pulling weeds so as to give the struggling grain a chance. The result was they harvested twenty bushels of barley, the only grain raised in the valley that year.
     Hops grew wild along the creeks where there were willows for them to climb, and even though a large burlap sack full weighed only a few pounds, they were gathered carefully, dried and sold to buy some other much desired articles. After conditions become better, they milked enough cows to justify making cheese and butter.
     The girls helped with the work and in the fall their father accompanied one or the other of the girls, and they would take a load into the City (Salt Lake City) and exchange it for dry goods and groceries. Rhoda Ann was sixteen when she made her first trip with him. It took fourteen days to reach Salt Lake City, but it was a grand trip. In those days girls felt like the daughters of millionaires when they came out in a new print dress, and they worked diligently to get one.
     Spelling matches and choir practices were popular recreation feature but, of course, they had an occasional dance also. Their recreation was varied, but the usual refreshments were parched corn and raw potatoes with salt. Popped corn was a very special treat.
     Pinto's choir, organized and conducted by Joseph Eldridge, was a very popular organization and it was the ambition of every young person to belong, as they invited them to sing at the important events in Cedar City and Parowan when such notables as president Brigham Young or other church officials were visiting. Rhoda looked back on those trips as among the "red letter" events of her life.

David H. and Rhoda Knell Cannon Family (about 1886)
David H., Eva, Woodruff, Rhoda with baby Rhoda

     She was president of the first Y.L.M.I.A. in her home town of Pinto, taught in Sunday School many years, and was an officer in the Children's Primary Organization.
     On February 14, 1877 she and her sister, Sue, went with their father to St. George to work in the Temple, it having been opened for services January 11 of that year. While there, she met David H. Cannon, Assistant to Wilford Woodruff, who was then President of the Temple. On June 20th of that year they were married, she being his third wife under the plan of plural marriage.  
    She is the mother of eleven children, eight sons and three daughters, eight of whom are still living (in 1942.) In addition to these she reared two grandchildren whose mother, Rhoda Cannon Bryner, died when they were very young. For many years after her marriage she spent the summers in Pinto, not being accustomed to Dixie's severe heat but in later years she remained in St. George the year round.
     As a plural wife she experienced much joy in the association of the other two good women who were her husband's wives. The first was Wilhelmina Mousley Cannon and the other was Josephine Crosgrove Cannon. They lived in the same house for many years without a jangle of any kind. But as the families increased in size, more homes were necessary. These three women loved each other as sisters or even with a closer bond of affection. And the children of each family were taught to respect the other wives and their children.
     Since her children have married and gone to their own homes she has done much Temple work and been an active Relief Society worker, having served as a visiting block teacher for twenty years. At the time this sketch was written she was eighty years old, enjoys good health, is active and interested in what goes on about her and in her children and great

Rhoda Knell Cannon
1915

 grandchildren. She has a hobby of crocheting lace and has made hundreds of yards of lace for pillowslips and other uses. Many brides are made happy with gifts of Aunt Rhoda's handmade pillow cases (in 1942 this report still holds good.) She spends her summers in her own home in St. George and winters with her daughter, Mrs. Joseph (Eva) Webb in Hurricane. On her birthday anniversaries all who can of her husband's three families join to make the event another milestone of happiness in her life and are lavish in their gifts and affection. It is difficult at such times to tell which of the throng are her own children, unless one is acquainted with them personally.

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