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Her husband Mr. Dutton had died of illness and she lived on as a widow many years after his passing. She was a difficult woman who constantly suspected evil intentions in people, particularly in her niece Emily Byrd Starr whom she considered "sly and deep" and criticized openly in her youth; she would use words that would never have been fit for an adult, to the point where Elizabeth Murray once confronted her and asked her to "leave the child alone." Emily was sent to live with her Aunt Ruth during her high school years in Shrewsbury, and the woman made things hard for her, although Emily earned her respect when she became successful with her writing. Ruth Dutton also stood up for her when the Shrewsbury folks made trouble for her. Ruth Dutton was feared and respected in Shrewsbury in part because of her influence and generous contributions to church. She made occasional visits to New Moon for holiday gatherings.