Jessie Grace (Durbin) Powers was born on November 15, 1881, in Prescott, Arizona to Ida (Densmore), of Wisconsin and William W. Durbin of St. Clairsville, Ohio. Jessie came from a family of six girls and two boys. Her siblings were Florence B. Anderson Kennedy, born February 26, 1883; Iva D. Ranney, born September 28, 1884; Francis J., born February 16, 1887; Helen Ann Williams Reynolds, born March 30, 1888; Alice Elaine White Stewart, born July 2, 1890; Elmer Henry, born May 16, 1893; and Mattie Elizabeth Scott, born June 30, 1894.

Both the boys died before 1900.  Jessie was the first girl in the family to be born in Prescott and as the eldest girl, she helped her father raise her sisters when her mother died on May 5, 1900, while some of the girls were still very young. 

Jessie was an excellent student who made the honor roll several times in Prescott public schools.  She graduated from Prescott High School on June 9, 1899.  She enjoyed getting involved in different activities and was in the Aurora Society at school.  She also held the position of financial secretary several times for the Aztlan Lodge No. 1, Independent Order of Good Templars (I.O.G.T.).

On December 25, Christmas Day, 1901, Jessie married Benjamin Powers at her father's home at 136 N. McCormick Street in Prescott.  Before the birth of their first child, she and Benjamin moved into the small house at Murphy’s Park with her in-laws. The two families lived there for several years. Jessie and Benjamin had two children: Aileen Agnes (Powers) Tracy, born May 22, 1905, and Ruth Frances (Powers) Lessard, born May 16, 1919.  They later moved to 120 N. Summit Street and lived in the home which her father designed for the family, with Jessie’s assistance.

Benjamin worked as a miner, then as a machinist for the railroad. He also held several jobs at the courthouse. Judge Sweeney appointed him as the first juvenile probation officer in 1919, a noble position, which he held for decades.

During that time, Jessie supported her husband in his position by driving him throughout the county and by providing temporary housing and love for some of the children in need. Several of these children remained in contact with Jessie and Ben until their deaths.

Jessie was a homemaker with excellent skills in cooking, sewing, crocheting and knitting.  She was also a poet and an artist. She was a member of the Methodist Church, the Monday Club, Elks Ladies, the Red Cross and various bridge groups. After Ben’s death, Jessie lived with her older daughter in Phoenix.

Jessie died on October 7, 1951, in Phoenix and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Prescott, Arizona.

Donor: Patricia Atchison, granddaughter, April 2003 & Dennis Lessard, June 2015
Photo Located: Benjamin Powers Family Collection
Updated: 10/16/2015, N. Freer