Person:Martha Atwood (1)

Martha Jaunita Atwood
m. 21 Jul 1910
  1. Bessie Adell Atwood1911 - 1993
  2. Elizabeth Gadis Atwood1916 - 1993
  3. Ora Bell Atwood1919 - 1994
  4. Opal May Atwood1919 - 1994
  5. Martha Jaunita Atwood1921 - 2001
  6. Martin Ivan Atwood1924 - 2002
  7. Norma Mern Atwood1927 - 2003
  8. Darrel Dean Atwood1930 - 1988
  9. Doris Jean Atwood1930 - 2014
  10. Larry Keith Atwood1932 - 2013
m. 3 Jul 1937
m. 29 Apr 1939
  1. Danny Chaffin1955 - 1955
Facts and Events
Name[1] Martha Jaunita Atwood
Married Name Jaunita Chaffin
Gender Female
Birth[2][7] 9 Sep 1921 Vernal, Uintah, Utah, United States
Marriage 3 Jul 1937 to Vernon Edward Chaffin
Divorce Jan 1939 from Vernon Edward Chaffin
Marriage 29 Apr 1939 Wallace, Shoshone, Idaho, United Statesto Jack Lee Chaffin
Death[2] 28 Dec 2001 Kellogg, Shoshone, Idaho, United States
Burial[3] 4 Jan 2002 Victor Cemetery, Victor, Ravalli, Montana, United StatesNo. 741; Lot I4, Grave 7
Soc Sec No[2] Montana, United States516-38-0209
  Genealogy well done. Exemplary WeRelate page with excellent use of original sources.



Jaunita was born on September 9, 1921, the fifth of ten children, to Martin Atwood and Matilda Smuin. She was the fifth of seven daughters born to the family. Her father, Martin Camp Atwood was 31 years old when she was born. Matilda May Smuin, her mother, was 32.


Jaunita had six sisters:

  1. Bessie Adell Atwood.
  2. Ora Bell Atwood.
  3. Elizabeth Gadis Atwood.
  4. Opal May Atwood.
  5. Norma Mern Atwood.
  6. Doris Jean Atwood.

Jaunita had three brothers:

  1. Martin Ivan Atwood.
  2. Darrel Dean Atwood.
  3. Larry Keith Atwood.


Jaunita was married to Vernon Edward Chaffin on July 3, 1937. The marriage lasted a short time and never resulted in any children. Their divorce was finalized in January of 1939.

Jaunita then married Jack Lee Chaffin, Vern's older brother, on April 29, 1939 in Wallace, Idaho. They were married for 42 years and had four children:

  1. Merlyn Chaffin
  2. Betty Chaffin
  3. Danny Chaffin
  4. Micheal Chaffin


Not much is known about Jaunita's education.


Jaunita worked as a nurse for several years.


On December 24, 2001 Jaunita had a major stroke while in the Mountain Valley Care and Rehabilitation nursing home in Kellogg, Idaho. The stroke took most of the sensation from the right side of her body as well as leaving her blind. On the 26th Jaunita slipped into a coma and at 11:10 PM on December 28th Jaunita passed away. Merlyn Chaffin, Sandy Chaffin, and Rance Chaffin were with her at the time of her passing. She was then buried at the Victor Cemetery on January 4, 2002 next to her husband.

My Life As I Remember

The First Fifteen Years And Ten Months

This is an edited version of the life story written by Juanita Chaffin. For the original version see My Life As I Remember. It has been edited for clarity, punctuation and spelling.

I was the fifth daughter in a family of ten children. Our parents were Martin Camp Atwood and Matilda May Smuin Atwood.

The children were:

  1. Bessie Adell.
  2. Ora Bell.
  3. Elizabeth Gadis.
  4. Opal May.
  5. Martha Jaunita (me).
  6. Martin Ivan. I bet my Dad and Mom were happy to have their first son after all those girls.
  7. Norma Mern.
  8. Doris Jean.
  9. Darrel Dean. Darrel and Doris were twins born 10 minutes apart.
  10. Larry Keith. Larry, the baby of the family, wasn't born until I was eleven years old.

So at least my father had three sons, with his seven daughters. Although I never really noticed if he was any more partial to his sons in any way. Growing up I imagine that people probably called us gypsies or vagabonds because we moved from place to place all the time. As best as I can remember we never completed an entire school term in the same school until I was fourteen years old.

The Early Years

Age 5.
Age 5.
I was about three years old when we left Vernal, Utah to move some place in Idaho. My mother's youngest brother, Will came with us. In the process of going from Vernal to Idaho we came to the Green River. There was no bridge so it had to be forded. Papa put my mom, Ike (that's what we called Martin Ivan), and I into a trolley car that crossed the river on cables. Uncle Will was going to row a boat across with Bessie, Orabell, Lizzie and Opal, while Papa took the covered wagon across. Whenever we traveled we traveled in a covered wagon. Well, being so high above the water frightened me so badly that I screamed and cried until papa put me in the boat and put Opal up with mom and Ike. Uncle Will told me that if I kept crying that he'd throw me out into the river. I never cried, but I was afraid of water and heights for most of my life and I never liked Uncle Will as long as he lived.

We must have moved to Wood Valley, Idaho sometime, because I can remember sitting on a dirt cellar floor for most of the afternoon. When we were finally allowed into the house we had a new baby sister, Norma. Everyone was really excited and pleased to have her as part of the family.

I must have been past five when we lived in Arco, Idaho because Ike was about three years old. My father hunted coyotes with large hounds. All of us kids had puppies as pets, but we never had large hounds. We had a small female dog that had puppies then. One day the female dog jumped out of her box and started trying to climb the wall with foam running out of her mouth. Mom took the broom and forced her outside, but there was a little boy walking along the road and the dog started chasing him. My mom had a terrible time keeping the dog from getting the boy and biting him. Anyway she managed and then I guess papa killed her and the pups because she was rabid. I think our dogs got rabies because they would eat dead animals that they had found or that my father had brought home to them. So they probably ate some animal that had died of rabies.

A couple days after the small female dog died, Orabell left to go to the store. At this time we had a huge black hound and when she came back home he almost got her. It seemed like the rabies hit all the dogs at once and they all just went crazy and tried to bite everyone. If Uncle Charles, another of mom's brothers, hadn't been there I am sure the hound would have killed Orabell. I think he shot that dog. Then a few nights later all of us kids were playing in the yard and our puppy started chasing after us. We ran up the trail and around our wagon screaming for our pa. He finally ran out and grabbed that pup by the hing legs and hit it's head on the ground so hard that it died. Luckily, none of us kids were bitten. After that I think the only dogs we had was one grey hound and one blue one. I think they must have been penned up because the only dogs left loose in Arco had rabies.

A little while after all this our brother Ike got real sick. He would play with the dogs and carry bones around in his mouth before we knew that the dogs were sick. My mom had tried really hard to make him understand that he wasn't a dog and should leave the bones alone, but he was just a baby and didn't understand that he shouldn't do that. Well, it turns out that he got rabies. We would all sit with him on the bed until he started having an attack and then everyone had to leave the room except mom and papa. They would put a piece of stick in his mouth and hold him down. If they didn't get to him in time then they wouldn't be able to unclinch his hands. Sometimes he would pull his hair out and if he ever got a hold of the iron headboard he would actually bend it. The doctor came every day, but he still almost died and was sick for about three weeks or longer. I'm not sure what the doctor did for him, but after he got better he had to learn how to walk all over again. He was such a frail little guy after that and of course we all spoiled him worse then before, which really was bad enough. We were all really thankful that he lived. He has a speech problem now, he stutters quite badly actually and I've often wondered if that wasn't caused by the serious illness he had as a child.

My sisters say that I was spoiled the worst out of all of us kids, but most of my younger years all I remember is having these terrible pains in my stomach. My mom would tie a diaper really tight around me to ease the pain. They took me to the doctor but I don't remember what he did or what I had. I do remember taking Vermifuge by the bottles but don't know what it was for.

I started school in Arco and of course we were the new kids and were picked on and made fun of. It seemed like we could hardly leave the school without all the other kid's cleaning our clocks. That was, until one night our sister Orabell came down to meet us, and she was quite the fighter. She sure did clean a couple of the other kid's clocks good and proper. They were boys too. After that we were pretty well left alone.

We moved to Mud Lake, Idaho. What a place that was, nothing but sage brush and sand hills. Papa hauled wood from somewhere around the lava rocks and sold it for a while. Then we all worked sugar beeta and potatoes. I didn't mind the sugar beets so much, but I sure hated those spuds. Bessie and Opal would cook for us and mom, papa and all of us kids that could lift a beet or a spud worked. One day I got tired and mom let me go home early and I think that Bessie had made up a batch of cookies or something. Anyway I took one and Opal took it away from me, so I bit her. They said that I was going to get a whipping when papa came in for dinner so I went and hid under and over-turned beet box. When they realized I was missing everyone went out looking for me. I was too scared to come out until I heard papa say that I must have fallen into an old cement cistern. It had about ten feet of water in it and he was going to dive it. Well, I knew he wouldn't be able to get out so I crawled out and told everyone that I had been asleep. I didn't get a whipping, but I never hid again either.

Living in Canada

In the summer of 1929 Uncle John Atwood, his daughter and a couple of his sons came up from Alberta, Canada. A half brother of my father's came along with them. Well this half brother apparently had lice, but luckily none of us get it. Unfortunately Uncle Johnnie's kids had seven year its and we all got it. I think it lasted about 7 years too, at least 2 or 3 anyway. Well, papa was always looking for that gold at the end of the rainbow. I don't know how my mom ever stood moving as much as we did, but Uncle Johnnie talked us into going to Canada.

I was in the third grade the year we moved to Etna, which is just outside of Cardston. We went by wagon so we got there just in time for school. We were the new kids again, and with our itch, sores, and ragged clothes we were picked on all the time. The fact that we were from the states didn't help much either, but you would really have to go to school in Canada to know what I mean. They wanted us to say our ABC's differently but I never did. Every morning I would have to stand before the class and say my ABC's and every morning I would say them like you would in the USA and I would read from their books like you would in the USA. They put me back in the second grade, which really didn't bother me in the least. The way I figured it I was just as good as any of them and they were holding me back because I didn't want to be Canadian. I really liked the Royal Mounties though. With their bright red tops and blue pants with the red strips, they were fascinating, and they were quite nice too.

In the middle of the school year we moved about 100 miles or so to Raymond. Bessie was working so she stayed in Etna. The school in Raymond wasn't so bad because we had a lot of cousins there and weren't picked on so bad. I really like my Uncle Nephi and Aunt Jessie and their umpteen kids. I also like Uncle Johnnie and Aunt Aggie and their bunch of kids, except I never really cared for Uncle Johnnie on Sundays. We loved to play cards and we could play cards on any day of the week but Sunday. If we played cards of Sunday Uncle Johnnie would rant and rave about it. I went home one day and I asked papa why Uncle Johnnie wouldn't let us play cards on Sunday. He said he was sort of a hypocrisy because the mormons really didn't believe in playing cards at all, but Uncle Johnnie only forbid it on Sunday. I thought that was a silly thing to think and still do.We had cows to milk in Raymond. It seemed like we had cows most of the time. Anyway it was either Ike, Opal, or my job to get the cows in to milk. Usually it was mine or Ike's because we could ride the horses and Opal didn't like to.

Well, pretty soon mom was expecting in the family way, which is what I heard all my life. I didn't really understand what pregnant meant until I was married. So our sister Orabell took over running the house. Papa was out herding sheep and only came home every couple of nights. Well Orabell would really clean our clocks if we didn't get the cows in on time, she would even clean Lizzie's. Lizzie was really kind of afraid of both Orabell and Opal, but she did her share of the work along with everyone else.

We had this big old pot bellied iron heather that would get red hot. One day Norma came flying in and fell and hit her arm on the stove. She pulled the skin off from her elbow clear down to her wrist. Mom put the skin back on as good as she could, covered it in ointment and bandaged it up. I'll never forget the burn she had but she doesn't even have a scar there. Papa got Ike his first pony. It was supposed to be for me too, but I hated it. It was corrall balky and would leave the corral, but we rode it anyway.

In May of 1930 mom went to my Aunt and Uncle Charlie Atwood's place. She was gone for about 11 or 12 days and then the twins were born, Doris and Darrel. Some lady offered my mom $1,000 for Doris, which was quite a bit of money back then, but my mom said absolutely not. This lady thought that since my mom had so many kids that she would sell her one, but it really just made my mom disgusted and angry. They were born on the 14th of May 1930 and Bessie married Ralph Woodward May 15th. She never even knew that the twins were born before she got married.

Uncle Charles, mom's brother, had come with us and he and papa hunted coyotes in Canada too. They used the two hounds that have lived through the rabies ordeal. I always liked Uncle Charles. He was always really nice to me when I was little. I remember that he called me PeeWee and took me fishing at a lake somewhere. He would really give me hell if I got excited and make a noise when I caught one though. He would say you're going scare them away PeeWee, so shut up, but he always said it in a nice way. So I would try to be quiet as best as I could, which was awful hard for me to do.

Returning to the States

The twins were three weeks old when we headed back to the states. The covered wagon was for mom and the babies and we were on our way to Montana this time. I was sure glad to go, I'd had all of Canada I wanted for the rest of my life. Ralph had a wagon and a team and they came with us. We had to cross the border after dark though, because Ralph was a Canadian and wasn't supposed to come to the US. We crossed the line somewhere by Cut Bank and came through the Indian burial ground. It was day light and we saw bodies in the tops of the trees so we had to get out of there before someone saw us. It was really spooky.

After that I remember rolling hills. When we got to the top of the hills I was afraid to ride in the wagon down them. So I would get out and make Opal go with me. We would walk down all of those hills. It is no wonder that she could have done away with me. I guess I must have been afraid to walk by myself. Then we came to a river, I think it was the Milk River. Anyway it was deep and papa put me on a saddle pony. Ike and Ralph were on ones too. Well, being the fraidy cat I am I almost drown. If it hadn't been for Ralph keeping my pony moving I would have. As soon as that horse hit the deep water and started to swim I just hung on and did nothing. Papa was sure mad at me, but mom was just as mad at him for putting me on the horse when I was afraid of deep water. We all made it though, even the twins.

Opal and mom would sleep in the wagon, one with one twin and one with the other. The rest of os slept outside. We didn't have sleeping bags, they probably weren't even invented back then. All we had to sleep on were straw blankets and tarp over us to keep us dry. One day we had stopped so Opal and I could go potty. We crawled through a fence and into the sage brush and after we were done we came running back down the hill. Opal could really run back then. Well, when she reached the fence, she hit it and got huge cuts in both her legs above the knees. She still has large scars there to this day. Mom doctored them up and they healed, but I thought for sure she had about cut both her legs off.

Living in Montana

We reached the Blackfoot Valley and pa took us into one of Aloise Lensing's fields to camp. It was next to a small creek and had some shade, which was nice. It was haying time so papa went to find a place to help hay. I believe he helped somewhere around the Helemville area. Orabell went to work cooking for Aloise and his haying crew. He had a lot of canned stuff, milk, eggs, butter and other things. Orabell would bring us home different things at the end of the day. Opal went to help her at cooking and it seemed like she made two or three trips home with stuff. Al and Orabell were married on the 11th of August 1930. I guess he must have liked her cooking. Or he didn't want her to get caught stealing from him because he told here he knew she had been taking things back to the bunch of us.

Not very far from where we camped was a ranch run by Dave Matti. He was pretty nice and every night Ike and I would take a pail over around milking time and he would give us some milk. He had a brother named Mike that was in and out of Warm Springs, a place for insane people at the time, all the time. I was really afraid of him so I always waited for Dave to come to the barn. Dave was a little weird but he never went to Warm Springs. His sister went there and finally died. The last I heard about any of them his brother Mike was up in Galen with a group of men from Warm Springs.

After the haying season was over we moved to a place called New Chicago. It wasn't much more than a railroad station between Drummond and Hall, Montana but it had a school and a church. All of us kids went to the church there and I was baptised in a river that I think was caled Little Lost River. All I remember is that it was really cold and they had to dunk me twice because the first time my big toe came up. I was so scared that I could have really told them off, but I didn't. In the middle of the school year we moved to Hall. We took this buggy pulled by a corral balky pony four or five miles to school every day. I was about 9, Opal was 11, and Ike was 7. I think we had better horses then but they must not have been safe enough for Opal. Ike and I rode horses our whole lives, but Opal didn't like to ride which was probably why we always went in the buggy.

One day at that school I was running outside to the bathroom after the first bell rang. I ran around the corner as fast as I could and ran right into some boy that was running as fast as he could in the other direction. After we collided my eye swelled shut and I had a huge lump over my left eye for days, I still have a little knot there. I missed school for about a week, but I never went to the doctor.

The twins were getting older and had to be spoon fed their meals around this time. Opal had to sleep with one of the babies at night and Lizzie was suppose to feed one while mom fed the other one at meal times. One day Lizzie was reading and wanted to finish her story, so mom told Opal to feed the baby. Opal was so mad she almost made the baby she was feeding choke. Mom kept telling her not to feed the baby so fast but she didn't listen. After the baby started choking papa spanked her with his razor strap. She was so stubborn and ornery though that she never shed a tear, I think that was the last whipping he ever gave her. Lizzie always fed the baby at meal times after that though. All of us kids had chores and work that we had to do. Ike and my chores were getting the cows and hores in and cutting wood and bringing it in at night. It seems like all that I did was cut and carry wood.

One day in school some kid was picking on Ike because of his stutter. Well when I saw this kid being nasty to Ike I slid him out of his seat onto the floor. Mrs. Burrnett, our teacher, pinned a big sign on my back that said I wasn't supposed to knock children out of their seats. I had to wear it all day, but I didn't really care. I guess all of us girls were protective of Ike and his speach, but he could fight pretty good and took care of himself as well.

Age 11.
Age 11.
Papa got an old model T around the time that Ralph and Bessie had Duane over in Idaho. He was born in April 1931 and they had a terrible time bringing little Duane into this old world. Both he and Bessie almost died. The nurse put Duane on a hot water bottle after he was born. It was two or three days before he started crying. The bottle had been too hot and had burned the whole right side of his butt, which is part of the reason why he has such a terrible time today.


  1. RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project
    25 Jun 2004.

    2859896 database; Merlyn and Sandy Chaffin
    chaffin database; Lane Chaffin
    :3070001 database; Jessica Johnson

  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Social Security Administration. Social Security Death Index: Death Master File, database. (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service)
    16 Dec 2007.

    Birth: 09 Sep 1921
    Death: 28 Dec 2001 (Verified) Report verified with a family member or someone acting on behalf of a family member.
    Last Residence: 83868 (Smelterville, Shoshone, ID)
    Last Benefit: (none specified)
    SSN: 516-38-0209
    Issued: Montana

  3. Bitterroot Genealogical Society
    Victor Cemetery Transcription, 30 Jan 2008.

    No: 741
    Born: 1921
    Died: 12/28/2001
    Lot: I-4
    Grave: 7

  4.   Juanita Chaffin. Chaffin, Juanita Atwood, My Life As I Remember
    29 Apr 1981.
  5.   International Genealogical Index. ( The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, 1999-2008)
    14 Jan 2008.
  6.   Merlyn and Sandy Chaffin. Chaffin, Merlyn and Sandy. Chaffin-Tracey Family Tree
    24 Mar 2008.
  7. Birth Certificate., in Salt Lake, Utah, United States. Vital Records
    30 Jun 1967.