Three Mothers: Part 2 – Martha Jane “Mattie” Rickman (1894-1979)

Martha Jane Rickman and Ira Stoddard

In my grandmother Fern’s reminisces, she remembers “When I was about eight years old, Mother left home. A divorce was imminent. For a few months, things were rough. Then Mattie Scott came to keep house. When she came. I had a great feeling of security and I really enjoyed her good cooking.”[1]

Martha Jane Rickman was born 22 February 1894 in Franklin, Macon County, North Carolina to Caleb Rickman and Margaret Deal.[2] As a young woman, she taught school up until her marriage to Walter Johnson Scott.[3] Shortly after their marriage, the couple moved to Caribou County, Idaho where they worked on a grain farm.[4] Two sons were born to the couple: Robert Raymond in January 1921 and Raleigh Johnson in September 1922.[5]

In late June 1933, Walter traveled to the hospital in Soda Springs where he underwent an emergency operation for gangrenous appendicitis.[6] He died a few days later of peritonitis. The family continued to reside in Ten Mile Pass for a few more years, but eventually, sometime around 1937, Mattie came to keep house at the Ira Stoddard residence.[7] Ira’s wife, Opal Gay Coumerilh, had left several months earlier. However, Ira needed to continue working the ranch, and running the cows on the range. With six children under the age of 17 at home, chaos reigned, so it is understandable how Ira and Mattie may have come to an arrangement.

After coming to the Stoddard ranch to keep house, grandma Fern recalls “I’m sure my older brothers and sisters were aware of her and Dad’s plans for marriage, but I was surprised one night when, not being aware of my presence, there was a show of affection between them and I thought I’d really stumbled onto something.” [8]  Ira and Mattie were married 16 June 1938 in Cache, Davis County, Utah just a month after Ira’s divorce from his first wife.[9]

Grandma often reflected on the tender care and kindness that she received from Mattie in her formative years.[10] In contrast to her older siblings who often referred to their stepmother as “Mattie” or “Marty,” Fern always referred to Mattie as “Mother,” for in many respects she was the only mother she knew. Fern recalled: “Every spring mother ordered 500 baby chicks… We always looked forward to their arrival. They were like little balls of fluff. Mother took care of them getting up at least twice during the night to be sure the fire kept going because it was still cold, but being sure it was not too hot, that the little chickens were not too close together under the brooder. Sometimes they snuggled too closely together and smothered so she would separate them from each other in the middle of the night until they were old enough to protect themselves.” [11]  

In some ways, the tender care that Mattie consistently showed for her 500 chicks was representative of her tender care for the six “chicks” that she had taken on when she married Ira. Grandma certainly felt that care and love and maybe remembered the chicks so well because it represented her own life. Fern recalled, “school was not easy for me in my first two years, perhaps because of the discord at home. I started enjoying school about the middle of third grade and thereafter was more successful in my studies.”[12] Not coincidentally, Grandma was in the third grade when Mattie came to live with the family. When Mattie came, the schoolteachers suddenly noticed that Fern and her sister were better-dressed, were better-behaved and better cared for. Mattie’s experience as a schoolteacher was probably a great benefit to Grandma as well, and may have helped her in her academic pursuits in which she excelled. Though Fern’s school classes were admittedly small, she consistently received good grades and was valedictorian of her graduating class.

Grandma also remembered the chickens for another reason: “As I thought about chickens, I concluded that they are so cute when they are little and so good fried when they are full-grown. Fried chicken was a favorite of Dad’s and we had it often, sometimes even for breakfast with hot biscuits and chicken gravy.” [13] It seems that Mattie was always cooking and preparing food. When the men were off at cow camp, Mattie and the girls would can fruit, corn and jam for a week. During the same time, there was always plenty of food prepared and on hand for the ranch hands and ranchers returning home past their house, many of whom stayed overnight. On the twenty-fourth of July, Pioneer Day, she would cook fried chicken, potato salad and other delicious food.[14] My own father and aunt recall that when the family would visit Grandma Mattie in Idaho, it always seemed to be her goal to try and fill up the stomachs of my father and his six siblings with as much fried chicken as she could manage.[15]  

Things were certainly not always easy in the Stoddard household with the blending of two families. Fern’s oldest sister Barbara once stated “I sometimes wonder if [my stepmother] shouldn’t have a lot of crowns in heaven for putting up with six kids that really weren’t the easiest. We had a lot of fun and we thought we were really good but, I’ll tell you, I would have hated to come in and take over and try to raise us because we weren’t that easy.”[16] When Mattie first moved in, her teenage sons also joined the family and worked on the ranch.[17] Grandma’s brother, Bob, had a hard time with the blending of their families: “Only those people who have had experience with stepmothers and brothers and sisters ought to be able to talk about this. Some of our toughest times have become the times we laugh about the most. I have come to believe Dad had the patience of Job. I realize some of us as kids made it very hard for him to keep peace in the family. I would imagine there were days when he would sooner stay at cow camp than come home and listen to all of the complaints.”[18]  

Bob also remembered the chickens, but for yet another reason: “[It is] right [that] the number [was] 500, but it seemed like 5,000 to me. Especially when I had to clean off a place on the ground to lay on when I changed the oil in the tractor or fixed other machinery that required lying on the ground. They liked to lay eggs and roost in the small building where I kept my tools. It was often a mess to say the least. Marty and I had a silent duel going on about whether the shop door should stay closed to keep the tools and shop clean or to be open for the chickens to lay eggs and mess all over. We finally came to an understanding when I took a shovel handle and laid the chickens I found in the shop to rest. The door was then kept closed. We also had chicken and noodles for dinner. We understood each other. When Dad came home, he would get the story from both sides. I have wondered a lot of times since then how he managed to smooth the waters and keep the peace.” [19]

Shortly after the death of Ira Stoddard in 1950, Mattie was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Perhaps she took comfort in the doctrine that she might be with Ira again after death. Just a year after her baptism, she was sealed to Ira in the Logan Utah Temple. A year after that, she attended my own grandmother’s wedding and sealing in the Salt Lake Temple.[20] Over the course of her membership in the church, she served as a visiting teacher and a Sunday School teacher.[21]  Her faith would carry her through some of the hardest moments of her life yet to come. In 1960, Raleigh Scott died.[22] In 1975, Robert Raymond Scott also died.[23] Both left surviving children and Mattie was a wonderful caring generous and kind grandmother to her many grandchildren and step-grandchildren.

Marriage of Fern Stoddard and Frank Woodbury, 10 October 1952, Mattie is seated to the left.

Mattie died 30 January 1979 in Blackfoot, Idaho.[24] All of her stepchildren attended her funeral, except Bob who was unable to attend because of an injured back. Grandma gave the eulogy which was difficult emotionally since Mattie had given her so much love and care during her formative years.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I thank Martha Jane Rickman Scott Stoddard for the tender care she offered to my grandmother. Mattie was truly a loving and kind mother who was deeply needed and appreciated in my grandmother’s life.

Do you have memories or stories about Martha Jane Rickman Scott Stoddard, please share them in the comments below.


[1] Fern Woodbury, Bob Stoddard, Jack Stoddard and Barbara Rose, “Stoddard Family Reminisces,” 1983, p. 2.

[2] Idaho, Southeast Counties Obituaries, 1864-2007 (index and images), death of Martha Jane Richkman Stoddard, 30 January 1979, Blackfoot, Bingham, Idaho, https://www.familysearch.org/, accessed April 2020; and,

1900 U.S. Census (population schedule), Mill Shoal, Macon, North Carolina, ED 69, sheet 2B, Caleb Rickman household, https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed April 2020.

[3] North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 (index and images), marriage of W J Scott and Mattie Rickman, 18 May 1919, Macon, North Carolina, p. 317, https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed April 2020.

[4] 1920 U.S. Census (population schedule), Wayan, Caribou, Idaho, ED 126, sheet 1B, Walter Scott household, https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed April 2020

[5] U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 (index and images), serial no. 637, Bancroft, Idaho draft board, Robert Raymond Scott, born 26 January 1921, https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed April 2020; and,

Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates, 1904-1961 (index and images), death of Raleigh Johnson Scott, 11 August 1960, Salt Lake, Utah, certificate 60181889, https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed April 2020.

[6]  Idaho, Death Records, 1890-1967 (index and images), death of Walter J. Scott, 3 July 1933, Soda Srpings, Caribou, Idaho, certificate 85142, https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed April 2020.

[7] “Meadowville,” Caribou County Sun (11 April 1935), p. 4, https://www.newspapers.com/image/33390597/, subscription database, accessed April 2020.

[8] Fern Woodbury, Bob Stoddard, Jack Stoddard and Barbara Rose, “Stoddard Family Reminisces,” 1983, p. 2.

[9] Utah, County Marriages, 1887-1940 (index), marriage of Ira Stoddard and Mattie Scott, 16 June 1938, Cache, Utah, no. 285, https://familysearch.org, accessed April 2020.

[10] Frank Woodbury and Fern Woodbury, “Family History of Frank Alan Woodbury and Fern Laurine Stoddard,” December 1997, pp. 23, 35.

[11] Fern Woodbury, Bob Stoddard, Jack Stoddard and Barbara Rose, “Stoddard Family Reminisces,” 1983, p. 2.

[12] Fern Woodbury, “Personal History,” undated. p. 1.

[13] Fern Woodbury, Bob Stoddard, Jack Stoddard and Barbara Rose, “Stoddard Family Reminisces,” 1983, p. 2.

[14] Fern Woodbury, Bob Stoddard, Jack Stoddard and Barbara Rose, “Stoddard Family Reminisces,” 1983, p. 3.

[15] Conversation with Paul Woodbury and Barbara Putnam, April 2020.

[16] Fern Woodbury, Bob Stoddard, Jack Stoddard and Barbara Rose, “Stoddard Family Reminisces,” 1983, p. 9.

[17] 1940 U.S. Census (population schedule), Kelly , Bannock, Idaho, ED 3-49, sheet 2B, Ira Stoddard household, https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed April 2020.

[18] Fern Woodbury, Bob Stoddard, Jack Stoddard and Barbara Rose, “Stoddard Family Reminisces,” 1983, p. 5.

[19] Fern Woodbury, Bob Stoddard, Jack Stoddard and Barbara Rose, “Stoddard Family Reminisces,” 1983, p. 5.

[20] Annie Maude Dee Porter, Dee, Annie Taylor and Annie Maude Dee Porter Diaries, “1952,” October 10-11, p. 147, https://cdm.weber.edu/digital/collection/ANN/id/9557/rec/44, accessed April 2020.

[21] Idaho, Southeast Counties Obituaries, 1864-2007 (index and images), death of Martha Jane Richkman Stoddard, 30 January 1979, Blackfoot, Bingham, Idaho, https://www.familysearch.org/, accessed April 2020; and,

1900 U.S. Census (population schedule), Mill Shoal, Macon, North Carolina, ED 69, sheet 2B, Caleb Rickman household, https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed April 2020.

[22] Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates, 1904-1961 (index and images), death of Raleigh Johnson Scott, 11 August 1960, Salt Lake, Utah, certificate 60181889, https://www.ancestry.com, subscription database, accessed April 2020.

[23] Idaho, Southeast Counties Obituaries, 1864-2007 (index and images), death of Robert Ray Scott, 5 March 1975, Blackfoot, Bingham, Idaho, https://www.familysearch.org/, accessed April 2020.

[24] Frank Woodbury and Fern Woodbury, “Family History of Frank Alan Woodbury and Fern Laurine Stoddard,” December 1997, p. 35.

4 thoughts on “Three Mothers: Part 2 – Martha Jane “Mattie” Rickman (1894-1979)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: