Heroines of Mormondom online

. (page 1 of 6)
Online LibraryVariousHeroines of Mormondom → online text (page 1 of 6)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


Produced by the Mormon Texts Project
(, with thanks to Rachel
Helps and Villate Brown McKitrick for proofreading.









IT affords us much pleasure to be able to present a second book of
the "NOBLE WOMEN'S LIVES SERIES" to the public. It will, we feel
confident, prove no less interesting than its predecessor, and the
lessons conveyed by the articles herein contained will doubtless be as
instructive to its readers as any ever given.

The remarkable events here recorded are worthy of perusal and
remembrance by all the youth among this people, as they will tend
to strengthen faith in and love for the gospel for which noble men
and women have suffered so much. The names, too, of such heroines as
these, the sketches of whose lives we herewith give, should be held
in honorable remembrance among this people, for no age or nation can
present us with more illustrious examples of female faith, heroism and

We trust that this little work may find its way in the homes of all
the Saints and prove a blessing to all who scan its pages. This is the
earnest desire of




Chapter I.

Chapter II.

Chapter III.


Chapter I.

Chapter II.

Chapter III.

Chapter IV.

Chapter V.

Chapter VI.


Chapter I.



Hyrum Smith, the Patriarch, married Jerusha Barden, November 2, 1826.
They had six children, viz: Lovina, Mary, John, Hyrum, Jerusha and
Sarah. Mary died when very young, and her mother died soon after the
birth of her daughter, Sarah. Hyrum, the second son, died in Nauvoo,
in 1842, aged eight years. The Patriarch married his second wife,
Mary Fielding, in the year 1837, she entering upon the important duty
of stepmother to five children, which task she performed, under the
most trying and afflictive circumstances, with unwavering fidelity.
She had two children, Joseph and Martha. Thus, you see, Hyrum Smith,
the Patriarch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was
really a polygamist many years before the revelation on celestial
marriage was written, though, perhaps, about the time it was given to
the Prophet Joseph Smith; but not exactly in the sense in which the
word is generally used, for both his wives were not living together
on the earth; still they were both alive, for the spirit never dies,
and they were both his wives - the mothers of his children. Marriage is
ordained of God, and when performed by the authority of His Priesthood,
is an ordinance of the everlasting gospel and is not, therefore, merely
a legal contract, but pertains to time and all eternity to come,
therefore it is written in the Bible, "What God hath joined together
let no man put asunder."

There are a great many men who feel very bitter against the Latter-day
Saints, and especially against the doctrine of plural marriage, who
have married one or more wives after the death of their first, that,
had their marriages been solemnized in the manner God has prescribed
and by His authority, they themselves would be polygamists, for they,
as we, firmly believe in the immortality of the soul, professing to
be Christians and looking forward to the time when they will meet, in
the spirit world, their _wives_ and the loved ones that are dead. We
can imagine the awkward situation of a man, not believing in polygamy,
meeting two or more wives, with their children, in the spirit world,
each of them claiming him as husband and father. "But," says one, "how
will it be with a woman who marries another husband after the death of
her first?" She will be the wife of the one to whom she was married
for time and eternity. But if God did not "join them together," and
they were only married by mutual consent until death parted them, their
contract, or partnership ends with death, and there remains but one way
for those who died without the knowledge of the gospel to be united
together for eternity. That is, for their living relatives or friends
to attend to the ordinances of the gospel for them. "For, in the
resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage;" therefore
marriage ordinances must be attended to here in the flesh. Hyrum Smith,
however, was a polygamist before his death, he having had several women
sealed to him by his brother, Joseph, some of whom are now living.

At the death of the Patriarch, June 27th, 1844, the care of the family
fell upon his widow, Mary Smith. Besides the children there were two
old ladies named respectively, Hannah Grinnels, who had been in the
family many years, and Margaret Brysen. There was also a younger one,
named Jane Wilson, who was troubled with fits and otherwise afflicted,
and was, therefore, very dependent, and an old man, named George Mills,
who had also been in the family eleven years, and was almost entirely
blind and very crabbed. These and others, some of whom had been taken
care of by the Patriarch out of charity, were members of the family
and remained with them until after they arrived in the valley. "Old
George," as he was sometimes called, had been a soldier in the British
army, had never learned to read or write, and often acted upon impulse
more than from the promptings of reason, which made it difficult,
sometimes, to get along with him; but because he had been in the family
so long - through the troubles of Missouri and Illinois - and had lost
his eye-sight from the effects of brain fever and inflammation, caused
by taking cold while in the pineries getting out timbers for the temple
at Nauvoo, Widow Smith bore patiently all his peculiarities up to the
time of her death. Besides those I have mentioned, Mercy R. Thompson,
sister to Widow Smith, and her daughter, and Elder James Lawson were
also members of the family.

On or about the 8th of September, 1846, the family, with others, were
driven out of Nauvoo by the threats of the mob, and encamped on the
banks of the Mississippi River, just below Montrose. There they were
compelled to remain two or three days, in view of their comfortable
homes just across the river, unable to travel for the want of teams,
while the men were preparing to defend the city against the attack
of the mob. They were thus under the necessity of witnessing the
commencement of the memorable "Battle of Nauvoo;" but, before the
cannonading ceased, they succeeded in moving out a few miles, away from
the dreadful sound of it, where they remained until they obtained, by
the change of property at a great sacrifice, teams and an outfit for
the journey through Iowa to the Winter Quarters of the Saints, now
Florence, Nebraska. Arriving at that point late in the Fall, they were
obliged to turn out their work animals to pick their living through
the Winter, during which some of their cattle, and eleven out of their
thirteen horses died, leaving them very destitute of teams in the

In the Fall of 1847, Widow Smith and her brother, Joseph Fielding, made
a trip into Missouri, with two teams, to purchase provisions for the
family. Joseph, her son, accompanied them as teamster; he was then nine
years of age. The team he drove consisted of two yokes of oxen, one
yoke being young and only partially broke, which, with the fact that
the roads were very bad with the Fall rains, full of stumps in places,
sometimes hilly, and that he drove to St. Joseph, Missouri, and back, a
distance of about three hundred miles, without meeting with one serious
accident, proves that he must have been a fair teamster for a boy at
his age.

At St. Joseph they purchased corn and other necessaries, getting their
corn ground at Savannah, on their return journey. Wheat flour was
a luxury beyond their reach, and one seldom enjoyed by many of the
Latter-day Saints in those days. On their journey homeward they camped
one evening at the edge of a small prairie, or open flat, surrounded
by woods, where a large herd of cattle, on their way to market, was
being pastured for the night, and turned out their teams, as usual, to
graze. In the morning their best yoke of cattle was missing, at which
they were greatly surprised, this being the first time their cattle
had separated. Brother Fielding and Joseph at once started in search,
over the prairie, through the tall, wet grass, in the woods, far and
near, until they were almost exhausted with fatigue and hunger, and
saturated to the skin; but their search was vain. Joseph returned first
to the wagons, towards mid-day, and found his mother engaged in prayer.
Brother Fielding arrived soon after, and they sat down to breakfast,
which had long been waiting.

"Now," said Widow Smith, "while you are eating I will go down towards
the river and see if I can find the cattle."

Brother Fielding remarked, "I think it is useless for you to start out
to hunt the cattle; I have inquired of all the herdsmen and at every
house for miles, and I believe they have been driven off." Joseph
was evidently of the same opinion, still he had more faith in his
mother finding them, if they could be found, than he had either in
his uncle or himself. He knew that she had been praying to the Lord
for assistance, and he felt almost sure that the Lord would hear her
prayers. Doubtless he would have felt quite sure had he not been so
disheartened by the apparently thorough but fruitless search of the
morning. He felt, however to follow her example: he prayed that his
mother might be guided to the cattle, and exercised all the faith
he could muster, striving hard to feel confident that she would be
successful. As she was following the little stream, directly in the
course she had taken on leaving the wagons, one of the drovers rode up
on the opposite side and said, "Madam, I saw your cattle this morning
over in those woods," pointing almost directly opposite to the course
she was taking. She paid no attention to him, but passed right on. He
repeated his information; still she did not heed him. He then rode
off hurriedly, and, in a few moments, with his companions, began to
gather up their cattle and start them on the road towards St. Joseph.
She had not gone far when she came upon a small ravine filled with
tall willows and brush; but not tall enough to be seen above the high
grass of the prairie. In a dense cluster of these willows she found
the oxen so entangled in the brush, and fastened by means of withes,
that it was with great difficulty that she extricated them from their
entanglement. This was evidently the work of these honest (?) drovers,
who so hurriedly disappeared - seeing they could not turn her from her
course - perhaps in search of estray honesty, which it is to be hoped
they found.

This circumstance made an indelible impression upon the mind of the
lad, Joseph. He had witnessed many evidences of God's mercy, in answer
to prayer, before; but none that seemed to strike him so forcibly as
this. Young as he was, he realized his mother's anxiety to emigrate
with her family to the valley in the Spring, and their dependence
upon their teams to perform that journey, which, to him, seemed a
formidable, if not an impossible, undertaking in their impoverished
circumstances. It was this that made him so disheartened and sorrowful
when he feared that the cattle would never be found. Besides, it seemed
to him that he could not bear to see such a loss and disappointment
come upon his mother, whose life he had known, from his earliest
recollection, had been a life of toil and struggle for the maintenance
and welfare of her family. His joy, therefore, as he looked through
tears of gratitude to God for His kind mercy extended to the "widow and
the fatherless" may be imagined, as he ran to meet his mother driving
the oxen towards the wagons.


Joseph was herd-boy. One bright morning sometime in the Fall of 1847,
in company with his herd-boy companions, whose names were Alden
Burdick, (almost a young man, and very sober and steady), Thomas
Burdick, cousin to Alden, about Joseph's size, but somewhat older,
and Isaac Blocksome, younger, he started out with his cattle as usual
for the herd grounds, some two miles from Winter Quarters. They had
two horses, both belonging to the Burdicks, and a pet jack belonging
to Joseph. Their herd that day comprised not only the cows and young
stock, but the work oxen, which for some cause were unemployed.

Alden proposed to take a trip on foot through the hazel, and gather
nuts for the party, and by the "lower road" meet the boys at the spring
on the herd ground, while they drove the herd by the "upper road" which
was free from brush. This arrangement just suited Joseph and Thomas,
for they were very fond of a little sport, and his absence would afford
them full scope; while his presence served as an extinguisher upon
the exuberance of their mirth. Joseph rode Alden's bay mare, a very
fine animal; Thomas, his father's black pony, and Isaac the pet Jack.
This Jack had deformed or crooked fore-legs, and was very knowing in
his way; so "Ike" and the Jack were the subjects chosen by Joseph and
Thomas for their sport. They would tickle "Jackie," and plague him, he
would kick up, stick his head down, hump up his back and run, while
Isaac struggled in vain to guide or hold him by the bridle reins, for
like the rest of his tribe he was very headstrong when abused. No harm
or even offense to Isaac was intended; but they carried their fun too
far; Isaac was offended, and returned home on foot, turning loose the
Jack with the bridle on. We will not try to excuse Joseph and Thomas in
this rudeness to Isaac, for although they were well-meaning boys, it
was no doubt very wrong to carry their frolics so far as to offend or
hurt the feelings of their playmate, and especially as he was younger
than they; but in justice to them it is fair to say they were heartily
sorry when they found they had given such sore offense.

When Joseph and Thomas arrived at the spring they set down their dinner
pails by it, mounted their horses again, and began to amuse themselves
by running short races, jumping ditches and riding about. They would
not have done this had Alden been there. They had not even done such a
thing before, although the same opportunity had not been wanting; but
for some reason - ever fond of frolic and mischief - they were more than
usually so this morning. It is said that not even a "sparrow falls to
the ground" without God's notice, is it unreasonable to suppose that He
saw these boys? And as He overrules the actions of even the wicked, and
causes their "wrath to praise Him;" would it be inconsistent to suppose
that the Lord overruled the frolics of these mischievous, but not
wicked boys on this occasion for good, perhaps for their deliverance
and salvation? We shall see.

While they were riding about and the cattle were feeding down the
little spring creek toward a point of the hill that jutted out into the
little valley about half a mile distant, the "leaders" being about half
way to it, a gang of Indians on horseback, painted, their hair daubed
with white clay, stripped to the skin, suddenly appeared from behind
the hill, whooping and charging at full speed toward them. Now, had
these boys turned out their horses, as under other circumstances they
should, and no doubt would, have done, they and the cattle would have
been an easy prey to the Indians, the boys themselves being completely
at their mercy, such mercy, as might be expected from a thieving band
of savages. In an instant, Thomas put his pony under full run for home,
crying at the top of his voice, "Indians, Indians!" At the same instant
Joseph set out at full speed for the head of the herd, with a view to
save them if possible.

He only could tell the multitude of his thoughts in that single moment.
Boy as he was, he made a desperate resolve. His mother, his brother and
sisters and their dependence upon their cattle for transportation to
the Valley in the Spring, occupied his thoughts and nerved him to meet
the Indians half-way, and risk his life to save the cattle from being
driven off by them. At the moment that he reached the foremost of the
herd, the Indians, with terrific yells reached the same spot, which
frightened the cattle so, that with the almost superhuman effort of the
little boy to head them in the right direction, and at the same time
to elude the grasp of the Indians, in an instant they were all on the
stampede towards home. Here the Indians divided, the foremost passing
by Joseph in hot pursuit of Thomas, who by this time had reached the
brow of the hill on the upper road leading to town, but he was on foot.
He had left his pony, knowing the Indians could outrun - and perhaps
would overtake him. And thinking they would be satisfied with only the
horse, and by leaving that he could make good his escape.

Joseph's horse was fleeter on foot, besides, he was determined to
sell what he had to, at the dearest possible rate. The rest of the
Indians of the first gang, about half a dozen, endeavored to capture
him; but in a miraculous manner he eluded them contriving to keep
the cattle headed in the direction of the lower road towards home,
until he reached the head of the spring. Here the Indians who pursued
Thomas - excepting the one in possession of Thomas' horse, which he had
captured and was leading away towards the point - met him, turning his
horse around the spring and down the course of the stream, the whole
gang of Indians in full chase. He could outrun them, and had he now,
freed from the herd, been in the direction of home he could have made
his escape; but as he reached a point opposite the hill from whence the
Indians came, he was met by another gang who had crossed the stream for
that purpose; again turning his horse. Making a circuit, he once more
got started towards home. His faithful animal began to lose breath and
flag. He could still, however, keep out of the reach of his pursuers;
but now the hindmost in the down race began to file in before him, as
he had turned about, by forming a platoon and veering to the right or
left in front, as he endeavored to pass, they obstructed his course,
so that those behind overtook him just as he once more reached the
spring. Riding up on either side, one Indian fiercely took him by the
right arm, another by the left leg, while a third was prepared to close
in and secure his horse. Having forced his reins from his grip, they
raised him from the saddle, slackened speed till his horse ran from
under him, then dashed him to the ground among their horses' feet while
running at great speed. He was considerably stunned by the fall, but
fortunately escaped further injury, notwithstanding, perhaps a dozen
horses passed over him. As he rose to his feet, several men were in
sight on the top of the hill, with pitchforks in their hands at the
sight of whom the Indians fled in the direction they had come. These
men had been alarmed by Thomas' cry of Indians, while on their way to
the hay fields, and reached the place in time to see Joseph's horse
captured and another incident which was rather amusing. The Jack,
which did not stampede with the cattle, had strayed off alone toward
the point of the hill, still wearing his bridle. An old Indian with
some corn in a buckskin sack was trying to catch him; but "Jackie" did
not fancy Mr. Indian, although not afraid of him, and so would wheel
from him as he would attempt to take hold of the bridle. As the men
appeared, the Indian made a desperate lunge to catch the Jack, but was
kicked over, and his corn spilt on the ground. The Indian jumped up
and took to his heels, and "Jackie" deliberately ate up his corn. By
this time the cattle were scattered off in the brush lining the lower
road, still heading towards town. The men with the pitchforks soon
disappeared from the hill continuing on to the hay-fields, and Joseph
found himself alone, affording him a good opportunity to reflect on
his escape and situation. The truth is, his own thoughts made him more
afraid than did the Indians. What if they should return to complete
their task, which he had been instrumental in so signally defeating?
They would evidently show him no mercy. They had tried to trample him
to death with their horses, and what could he do on foot and alone?
It would take him a long time to gather up the cattle, from among
the brush. The Indians might return any moment, there was nothing to
prevent them doing so. These were his thoughts; he concluded therefore
that time was precious, and that he would follow the example, now, of
Thomas, and "make tracks" for home. When he arrived the people had
gathered in the old bowery, and were busy organizing two companies,
one of foot and the other of horsemen, to pursue the Indians. All was
excitement, his mother and the family were almost distracted, supposing
he had been killed or captured by the Indians. Thomas had told the
whole story so far as he knew it, the supposition was therefore
inevitable; judge, therefore, of the happy surprise of his mother and
sisters on seeing him, not only alive, but uninjured. Their tears of
joy were even more copious than those of grief a moment before.

But Joseph's sorrow had not yet begun. He and Thomas returned with
the company of armed men on foot to hunt for the cattle, while the
horsemen were to pursue the Indians, if possible, to recover the
horses. When they arrived again at the spring no sign of the cattle
could be seen; even the dinner pails had been taken away. On looking
around, the saddle blanket from the horse Joseph rode was found near
the spring. Was this evidence that the Indians had returned as Joseph
had suspected? And had they, after all, succeeded in driving off the
cattle? These were the questions which arose. All that day did they
hunt, but in vain, to find any further trace of them; and as they
finally gave up the search and bent their weary steps towards home, all
hope of success seemingly fled. Joseph could no longer suppress the
heavy weight of grief that filled his heart, and he gave vent to it in
bitter tears, and wished he had been a man.

It is said, "calms succeed storms," "and one extreme follows another,"
etc. Certainly joy followed closely on the heels of grief more than
once this day, for when Joseph and Thomas reached home, to their
surprise and unspeakable joy, they found all their cattle safely
corraled in their yards where they had been all the afternoon. Alden,
it seems, reached the herd ground just after Joseph had left. He
found the cattle straying off in the wrong direction unherded, and he
could find no trace of the boys or horses, although he discovered the
dinner pails at the spring as usual. When he had thoroughly satisfied
himself by observations that all was not right, and perhaps something
very serious was the matter, he came to the conclusion to take the
dinner pails, gather up the cattle and go home, which he did by the
lower road, reaching home some time after the company had left by the
upper road in search of them. He of course learned the particulars of
the whole affair, and must have felt thankful that he had escaped. A
messenger was sent to notify the company of the safety of the cattle,
but for some reason he did not overtake them.

In the Spring of 1847, George Mills was fitted out with a team and went
in the company of President Young as one of the Pioneers to the Valley;
and soon, a portion of the family in the care of Brother James Lawson,
emigrated from "Winter Quarters," arriving in the Valley that Fall.

In the Spring of 1848, a tremendous effort was made by the Saints to
emigrate to the Valley on a grand scale. No one was more anxious than
Widow Smith; but to accomplish it seemed an impossibility. She still
had a large and comparatively helpless family. Her two sons, John and
Joseph, mere boys, being her only support; the men folks, as they were
called, Brothers J. Lawson and G. Mills being in the Valley with the
teams they had taken. Without teams sufficient to draw the number of
wagons necessary to haul provisions and outfit for the family, and
without means to purchase, or friends who were in circumstances to
assist, she determined to make the attempt, and trust in the Lord for
the issue. Accordingly every nerve was strained, and every available

1 3 4 5 6

Online LibraryVariousHeroines of Mormondom → online text (page 1 of 6)