Rebecca Mitchell

Rebecca Mitchell

Birth
Macoupin County, Illinois, USA
Death 30 Sep 1908 (aged 74)
Idaho Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho, USA
Burial Idaho Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho, USA
Plot Old section
Memorial ID 8730811 · View Source
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The following sketch of the life of Mrs. Rebecca Mitchell was written some years ago by a young friend of hers, then Miss Ruby E. Reefer of Idaho Falls, now Mrs. H.J. Brace of Boise.

Mrs. Rebecca Mitchell was born in Macoupin County, Illinois, January 23, 1834. Not much is known of her parents, but it is but natural to suppose that they were honest, God-fearing people. She attended the district schools in her home town, but most of her education was received after she became a widow, when she attended school with her children. She attended the Baptist Missionary Training School in Chicago, and here she was fitted for her life work before coming west.

Mrs. Mitchell came here as a self-supporting missionary and church worker from Hoopston, Illinois, June 6, 1882. She seemed to realize at once the need of the little western settlement, for the very first Sunday after her arrival she set to work to organize the Baptist Sunday school. This was organized in the little board shanty in which she lived June 11, 1882. This first Sunday school met a long felt want, but no one before Mrs. Mitchell had had the courage to attempt any such work. It was attended by quite a number of faithful ones, and members were rapidly added as people came from the east to settle in the new country. The day after the Sunday school was organized, this courageous woman organized the first day school and so became the first school teacher in Idaho Falls. The trouble and hardships endured by Mrs. Mitchell in those days no one can realize. There were very few people here at that time who cared for the kind of work Mrs. Mitchell was trying to do, and she had the work of a real missionary to do in winning the people to help her. There was no suitable building for the Sunday school and day school, so part of her own home was used as a school room and fitted up with wooden boxes to serve as desks. All the time Mrs. Mitchell was working to build a church. As soon as she came she set to work to raise money for this purpose. She received considerable help from benevolent Baptists in the New England states, to whom she had written, stating the needs of the new country. The church was organized with the help of Rev. Lamb and Rev. Spencer, August, 1884, just two years after Mrs. Mitchell's arrival here. To her was given the honor of throwing the first shovelful of dirt for the foundation. Three persons were on that day baptized in Snake river. Work was begun at once, and though it is almost impossible to realize, the church building was finished three months from the time of organization and was dedicated in November, 1884. The building was the first church edifice erected between Ogden and Butte, and the only church building in eastern Idaho.

Mrs. Mitchell continued her public school work, but when the railroad shops were moved away she gave this up and all her time and efforts were given to her church, club and temperance work.

It seems that Mrs. Mitchell is identified with every good and noble work done in our city. She organized our local WCTU, and this society has accomplished much good in Idaho Falls. Mrs. Mitchell was also the state WCTU organizer and traveled over every part of the state, organizing societies and endangering her health by long, cold stage drives in out-of-the-way places. In 1892 she was the state president of the WCTU, as well as its organizer, and in that capacity she lectured in every town and hamlet in Idaho. Mrs. Mitchell was a very able public speaker. She had a strong, beautiful voice and was very witty and entertaining. She was sent as a delegate to the national WCTU conventions held in St. Louis, Buffalo, Toronto and Chicago.

She was the superintendent of legislation for the state WCTU and spent one winter in Boise during the session of the state legislature. Here her most important work for the state as a whole was done. During the session she secured the passage of numerous reform laws and was responsible for getting the equal suffrage bill before the people. She was unceasing in her efforts to secure the passage of this bill, and we realize now. that fully nine-tenths of the credit for equal suffrage in Idaho is due directly to the efforts of this untiring worker. During the sessions of the general assembly in Boise in 1896-7-8 and 9, Mrs. Mitchell was chaplain of the house of representatives, and was the only woman in the world who ever held such a position.

While Mrs. Mitchell's whole heart was in her WCTU work, she was a prominent member of the Village Improvement Society and the Round Table Club, and was one of the most faithful workers, ever ready to respond when her health would permit her to do so, and even when unable to be present at the meetings she would write articles and have them read by others. One of her last pieces was written for the Woman's Federation of Clubs at Blackfoct.

At her death in Idaho Falls, September 30, 1908, memorial services were held in a number of towns of the state and resolutions adopted. Interment was made in the beautiful Rose Hill cemetery, and her grave has a handsome marker erected by the club women of the city. Idaho Falls has been greatly honored to number Mrs. Mitchell among its citizens, and we feel prcud to think that she lived and labored among us.
(Published in History of Idaho: The Gem of the Mountains Vol. 2 by James H. Hawley 1920; bio courtesy Amanda Fox)


Inscription

Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord


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  • Created by: Collins Crapo
  • Added: 8 May 2004
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8730811
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Rebecca Mitchell (23 Jan 1834–30 Sep 1908), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8730811, citing Rose Hill Cemetery, Idaho Falls, Bonneville County, Idaho, USA ; Maintained by Collins Crapo (contributor 669) .