Jennette Bleasdale Poole, Pioneer, mother of Rebecca Margaret Poole Porter


(Note:  This history was written by Edna Margaret Porter Hegsted, and  minimal corrections have been added by Roger Porter.  It is generously provided to us by the Clements’ family web site:  Many thanks for their willingness to share with the extended family!  The name Bleasdale is often rendered Blasdale, Blasdell, Blaisdale, etc.  Roger Porter)


It has been It was cold and rather bitter that 10th of February, 1826 in Lancashire, England when Jennette was born into the Bleasdale family. The parents, William and Margaret, were proud and happy with this new little baby girl. They wanted for her the very best that could be had but times were hard, food and money were scarce and the Bleasdales were very poor.

For nine years the family struggled to remain together but now there were three children and the expenses were too high. One of the family must leave and work elsewhere to relieve the burden. Although she was only nine years of age, she was very mature in her ability to work and to take responsibility. It was hard to leave her family and go to the strange farm to live. Jennette didn't feel quite so grown-up or mature when saying goodbye, but she realized her responsibilities and accepted them. She worked hard, often getting up in the middle of the night to start the washing or to feed the pigs. She would have to wait for them to eat to make sure that the sow wouldn't lay on her little ones.

When Jennette was ten years old, the Mormon missionaries visited her family. They brought with them not only a new gospel but also hopes for a new and better life in America. With their conversion to the church, the Bleasdales along with others, began making plans to emigrate to America. One family could not raise enough money to pay for the passage of their daughter, so William promised that he would bring her over with his family. However, after raising all the money he could by selling his possessions, he found that he lacked enough money for all of them. Someone would have to remain behind. Again it was decided that Jennette would remain in England and this time it was with real heartbreak that she waved goodbye to her loved ones.

For three years Jennette lived with an uncle, working and saving to buy her passage. Her uncle owned a mill, which he sold in order to obtain enough money for their passage. After giving Jennette enough money for her passage, he started to town to buy his own passage but was robbed of all the money. Jennette was very despondent at the thought of leaving her relatives behind and traveling to America alone, but she was so homesick for her family that she decided to come anyway. On her thirteenth birthday, three years after her parents had come, she started for America.

The voyage to America was difficult and lonely for the 13 year old girl. Water was rationed out to each passenger and young Jennette, being very seasick, used nearly all of her rations in the first few weeks of the trip. Her scanty remaining portion of water couldn't be stretched out very far and she nearly died for want of water. After nine long, hard weeks, the vessel at last arrived in New Orleans instead of New York as planned. It had been blown off its course during the severe storms at sea. As they neared the shore, Jennette was horrified to see barrels of water being thrown overboard but she rejoiced to have arrived safe in America.

In New Orleans she located an uncle who had come to America earlier. It was comforting to the lonely girl to see a familiar face and to be warmly received into his home. She was disapointed, however, to learn that he had not heard from her parents or even knew that they had left England. So, restless and homesick, she started out alone once more.

The trip up the Mississippi River to Nauvoo seemed very slow to the anxious Jennette. The boat was old and sluggish and at times the passengers were required to walk part of the way. The days dragged by for Jennette whose thoughts raced ahead to the arrival in Nauvoo, the reunion with her family and the hopes and dreams of a new life with the people of her faith in the promised land.

At last the long-awaited day of arrival at Nauvoo, but Jennette was to be disappointed once more. Her family had not yet arrived. Disappointments and discouragements could not be kept for long, however, for the Saints were a busy, dedicated and happy people. Mary soon found work at the home of Joseph Young, the brother to Brigham Young. Out of her $.75 a week earnings, she managed to save enough to buy a cow and a calf for her mother. She was always very meticulous about her clothes and had a flair for fashion, which soon earned her the title as the best dressed woman in Nauvoo.

Months later her parents did arrive in Nauvoo and there was a joyous reunion. They had been working in New York, trying to save enough money for the trip to Nauvoo.

The family was soon to be separated again, however, for her parents left Nauvoo with the intention of settling in Iowa and working for the Poole family. Jennette decided to remain with Brother Young and continue to work. She journeyed with them to Winter Quarters and was preparing to leave for Zion when she received word from her parents. They had adopted a baby boy and wanted Jennette to come to Iowa. Although 300 miles from where her folks were, she started back, working her way and often walking along by the wagon which carried her trunks and belongings. After a month's journey she arrived at the Poole farm in Iowa.

This was a very happy time for young Jennette. She was reunited with her family, they were all well, strong and happy, and there was plenty of food and clothing for all. Margaret Bleasdale was an excellent cook and a favorite of young John Rawlston Poole who came over every morning to have biscuits with the Bleasdales. It was here that he met Jennette. After a year had lapsed, they were married. John Rawlston was converted to the church and was disowned by his father. This was a trying time for the young couple and after their baby girl was born about one year later, they made preparations to leave for Winter Quarters and there join the Saints in their trek to Utah. Joseph Young was their leader and with a cow and a team of oxen they started on their journey across the plains.

The trip to Salt Lake was long and hard, full of suffering and sorrow. Cholera raged through the camp, taking as victim their baby girl, Mary Elizabeth. She was buried on the plains and they went on. John Rawlston also contracted the disease but was healed by Joseph Young. On the last lap of their journey the Indians were so plentiful that they couldn't build a fire and the nights were long, fearful and black. One of their oxen died, but they were able to finish their journey by using the cow in its place.

They were unable to remain in Salt Lake for long for there were new frontiers to settle. So Jennette and John Rawlston packed their belongings again and set out for Centerville in northern Utah. This country was so sparsely populated that Indians roamed it freely. For Jennette who had faced all the hardships and suffering of pioneer life, this was just another problem to be accepted and managed as well as possible. She was responsible for providing a home for her husband and family and this she intended to fulfill. She was a wonderful cook and loved to bake. One day she had just baked mince pies and put them in the boiler outside the house when she noticed an Indian sneaking up to steal one. She ran over to the stove, took some hot coals from the fire and poured them down the Indian's neck. On another occasion she returned home from the store to find an old buck and squaw sampling some of her cream. She fought them and finally drove them away but was severely scratched and bruised. Wolves were also a problem to the young couple. They were very plentiful and would often attack their stock. On many occasions when Jennette was left alone with her baby it would be necessary for her to go out and frighten them away from the stock. While they were homesteading there, two children were born to their union.

In a few years John Rawlston and Jennette moved to Ogden where they bought a hotel. Jennette was a very efficient and industrious woman. She made rag rugs for every room in the hotel except the kitchen and dining room and these had to be scrubbed every day. When her eldest daughter, Adeline, ironed, she had to go from the kitchen to the dining room to heat the iron through an outside door as there was no connecting door.

John Rawlston contracted to build a railroad grading in an unknown territory of Idaho, so Jennette was left to take care of the family and run the hotel. John Rawlston and his sons explored much of the territory while building the grade. On one particular occasion they forded the Snake River just east of Market Lake (Roberts) and looked over the island. John Rawlston saw a great vision of farming land that could very well be. He returned to Ogden bringing the news about the new land and was able to interest many people.

John Rawlston was called to fulfill a mission to his home state of Iowa. When he returned he left again for Idaho where he plowed and planted some oats. He returned in the fall to harvest them and took it back to Ogden. The heads were larger than any the people had seen. People began to settle on this little island in Idaho.

John Rawlston and Jennette sold what interests they had in Ogden and moved to the country (Menan) and built a home near a large butte. John Rawlston cultivated the soil, built ditches and irrigated the land. The island abounded in wild game; deer and bear meat were plentiful. Jennette had lost 3 children but raised 8 others: Adeline Melinda, Rebecca Margaret, William Micajah, Jennet Alice, Susanna Rosetta, Reuben Mack, Christina Jane, and Milburn Benten.

Indians were scarce and those that came near the settlements were friendly. John Rawlston built the canal called the Long Island Canal now, for John Rawlston had told the settlers where to plant and they would have water.

When he was 65 his few years of service came to an end for in the summer of 1894 Jennette was left alone. Her children grew and were married, having their own families. At the age of 95 in the spring of 1921, after having lived a full and serviceable life, she died.

Dedicated to the men and women who spent their lives making the desert bloom like a rose.