Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Sketch of the Life of Alexander Frazier Edward

Alexander Frazier Edward was born June 4, 1841, at Aberdeen, Scotland...

Alexander's father, John, was a prosperous baker in Aberdeen and life was going on pleasantly until Alexander was 14 years old. At that time he heard some Mormon missionaries preach. He believed their message and joined the LDS Church. He was baptized on April 6, 1856, when he was 14 years old (nearly 15). When his father heard of his joining "that" unpopular church, he gave Alexander a choice: "Either give up that awful religion or leave my home!" It didn't take Alexander long to make his choice: he left his home.

As there seemed to be nothing for which to stay in his country anymore, and as "gathering to Zion" was preached very much in those days, he left for the USA. He landed either in New York or Boston (most likely it was Boston). He stayed in or around Iowa and worked. One summer he worked for a farmer somewhere in Iowa and was given a straw hat as pay.

He corresponded with his family in Aberdeen and his father must have softened somewhat, as he asked Alexander to come back on a visit, which the boy did. His father then offered him his bakery business and his home if Alexander would only stay; he didn't even have to give up the Church. But Alexander had the spirit of the gospel and of "gathering" and nothing could induce him to stay in "Babylon".
So in 1860 he went back to the USA, joining the Saints in Iowa. A handcart company was making preparations to leave, so he joined them with his cart and supplies for the journey to Salt Lake.

In the same handcart company was a family from England by the name of Taylor. They had a daughter, Mary Ann, a little younger than Alexander. She was born September 17, 1843 in Gloucester, England. Alexander and Mary Ann became engaged and later married.

One of Alexander's early jobs after arriving in Salt Lake City was as a Pony Express rider delivering mail between Laramie, Wyoming and Salt Lake City. He held this job between April 1860 and October 1861 when this kind of mail service was abandoned.
Alexander married Mary Ann Taylor on May 14, 1864, in the Endowment House, and settled in the 19th Ward. He was for many years counselor to Bishop Watson in the 19th Ward.

In about 1868 Alexander was called by Brigham Young to go to the Bear Lake country and settle it. He and Mary Ann had one baby there, who died at birth (1869). They evidently didn't stay there more than two or three years, as the next baby was born in Salt Lake City in 1872. They had eleven children in all, four of whom died in infancy. What heartaches these two must have had, besides their many hardships!

As polygamy was practiced in the Mormon Church at this time, Alexander took a second wife, Rebekah Smith. He married her on May 6, 1880, in the Endowment House. Rebekah was born in Salt Lake City on April 15, 1861. Her parents had emigrated from England in 1853.
Alexander built a home for Rebekah in the 28th Ward. They had nine children but two of them died, one in infancy and the other at the age of seven. This left seven children: one boy, Joseph, and six girls.

During the crusade against polygamy and polygamists (from about 1883 to 1890), he, with other polygamists, had a great deal of trouble (not to mention the trouble the plural wives had). Rebekah, with her babies, had to hide in the bushes when the deputies came around, and Alexander didn't even dare to visit her. In 1887 he was "caught", and on April 30th of that year he entered the penetentiary (at what is now SugarHouse Park in Salt Lake City). Rebekah then had two small children: Bessie, who was five; Joseph, who was two; and Alice was expected within a few months. Alexander spent six months in the penetentiary. He even wore a striped suit, and spent his time there "school teaching" some of the other prisoners.

In 1894 Alexander was chopping wood, and a splinter (most likely dirty) flew up in his face and pierced it. The sore didn't heal, and grew gradually worse and bigger, and he suspected and feared cancer. He tried different remedies, but none helped. After using a certain salve for awhile, a big chunk of flesh fell out from where the sore was in his right cheek. This hole grew larger and larger.
Once, when it had reached and damaged his right eye, the doctor recommended an operation to take out the bad eye in order to save the other eye.
For some reason this had to be done without anesthetic. Alexander had to be tied down, and his screams of pain could be heard a long way off. He suffered terribly with this disease, but he evidently never complained. He would say, "I hope I will learn the lesson God intends for me to learn from this misfortune."
He kept his face bandaged and kept on working as long as he could, both at his daily job and in the Church.

Two of Alexander's sons, John and Joseph, went on missions to Scotland where they visited Alexander's sister, Elizabeth. Alexander had been writing to her faithfully all this time. She was kind to her nephews, but since she was "saved", she was not interested in their message. She would talk about her brother and refer to the time he was "deluded".

Alexander's first wife, Mary Ann, died in September 1906. His malignancy finally reached his brain and caused his death on February 19, 1910. His second wife, Rebekah, died January 22, 1920.
Alexander F. Edward was a kind father who took an interest in all of his children. He was a good, gentle man. He was a lover of beauty who collected choice poems and sayings. He also loved flowers and pressed some in his old Bible. He began his diary almost every day by saying, "THIS IS A SPLENDID DAY".

[This story was written by Alexander's daughter-in-law, Mrs. Joseph S. (Gunda) Edward and was taken from his personal diaries.]

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Elder B. H. Roberts was a chaplain in the United States Armed Forces during World War I. The war finally drew to a close, and the peace treaty was signed on 11 November 1918.
Two weeks later, on Thanksgiving Day, the American soldiers were gathered together "in one grand Thanksgiving service.

The large attendance included high-ranking military officers and the services were conducted by the chaplains, who were seated on the grandstand.

Elder Roberts was relegated to one of the rear seats. He had not been asked in advance to participate on the program, therefore, it was with great surprise that he heard the chaplain in charge announce:

"Elder Roberts, the Mormon chaplain from Utah, will now step up and read the Thanksgiving Psalm."

Elder Roberts had never heard of the Thanksgiving Psalm but, hiding his personal embarrassment and possible impending embarrassment to the Church, he arose and walked to the podium, not knowing what he should say.
Years later he testified that, during the long walk to the front, he distinctly heard an audible voice announce: 'The 100th Psalm.' It was as clear as though another person had spoken at his side.

Elder Roberts faced the crowd, paused, then opened his Bible and read Psalm 100....
After Brother Roberts had closed his Bible and was returning to his seat, he noticed that his fellow chaplains refused to look at him; their eyes were immovably fixed on the floor.

It was then he realized that his part on the program had been a deliberate attempt to embarrass him, the Church and the priesthood. He acknowledged the help which he had received from the Lord in his moment of need and, when he returned to his tent that night, he checked the Book of Psalms, discovering that the 100th Psalm contained the most pertinent and appropriate sentiments on Thanksgiving.

("Inspiration, Key to Thanksgiving Psalm," Church News, 22 Nov. 1975, p. 12)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Motherhood During the Pioneer Exodus

The great Mormon pioneer exodus began early in 1846, during winter conditions that caused considerable suffering for the Saints. Eliza R. Snow was among the number who departed during that time. One of the most-quoted statements from Sister Snow reflects on this period:

"We had been preceded [from Nauvoo] by thousands, and I was informed that on the first night of the encampment, nine children were born into the world, and from that time, as we journeyed onward, mothers gave birth to offspring under almost every variety of circumstances imaginable, except those to which they had been accustomed; some in tents, others in wagons -- in rainstorms and in snowstorms. I heard of one birth which occurred under the rude shelter of a hut, the sides of which were formed of blankets fastened to poles stuck in the ground, with a bark roof through which the rain was dripping. Kind sisters stood holding dishes to catch the water as it fell, thus protecting the newcomer and its mother from a showerbath as the little innocent first entered on the stage of human life; and through faith in the Great Ruler of events, no harm resulted to either.

"Let it be remembered that the mothers of these wilderness-born babies were not savages, accustomed to roam the forest and brave the storm and tempest -- those who had never known the comforts and delicacies of civilization and refinement. They were not those who, in the wilds of nature, nursed their offspring amid reeds and rushes, or in the recesses of rocky caverns; most of them were born and educated in the eastern states -- had there embraced the gospel as taught by Jesus and his apostles, and, for the sake of their religion, had gathered with the saints, and under trying circumstances had assisted, by their faith, patience and energies, in making Nauvoo what its name indicates, 'the Beautiful.' There they had lovely homes, decorated with flowers and enriched with choice fruit trees, just beginning to yield plentifully.

"To these homes, without lease or sale, they had just bade a final adieu, and with what little of their substance could be packed into one, two, and in some instances, three wagons, had started out, desert-ward, for -- where? To this question the only response at that time was, God knows." (See Tullidge, _The Women of Mormondom_, p. 307)

Carol Lynn Pearson, well-known LDS poetess, wrote an article in _BYU Studies_ (21:4) about the episode and tells of finding a statement of a midwife, Jane Johnston, who personally delivered nine babies on the first night in September when the so-called "poor camp" was camping across from Nauvoo. Conditions during this exodus were much different than the one seven months earlier. The Saints who had remained in Nauvoo during 1846 were mostly those who could not afford to outfit themselves for the exodus (hence the name "poor camp"), or those whose health or other conditions prevented them from traveling. But when the mobs came to Nauvoo in September 1846, they cruelly drove all the Saints from their homes regardless of condition. The account of Jane Johnston, describing conditions across the Mississippi from Nauvoo, reads:

"Had nothing to eat only half a bushel of meal and half a dozen cucumbers that were given to me by Martin Littlewood. There were a great many sick among the Saints and nothing to comfort them, and nourish them, but corn meal, until the Lord sent quails amongst us, which supplied our wants.
"I then got a tent from Brother Johnston and had women that were being delivered of child put in it. I was the mid-wife, and delivered nine babies that night. We had nothing to sweeten anything until the Lord sent honey dew, which we gathered from the bushes until we got all the sweets we wanted. I also boiled maple juice and got cakes of maple sugar." (From the diary of Joseph Smith Black, BYU Special Collections; quotes in Pearson, op. cit.)

It seems much more likely that the events Eliza described occurred during this time, and the midwife's account supports this idea. Eliza mentions that she "was informed" that the nine births occurred on that first night, but she (or her informant) probably confused the date.

However, the poignancy and tenderness of Eliza Snow's description still touches the heart. The suffering of these mothers is beyond our conception, and is a tribute both to their faith in God and to their patient commitment to what they viewed to be a divine cause.

Compiled and Written by Dave Kenison

The First Vision of Joseph Smith

Only A Stonecutter- The story of John Rowe Moyle

A Search for Truth- Story of Wilford Woodruff

A Treasure in Heaven- Story of John Tanner

One of the most inspirational early saints. His written story is also found on the blog.

Joseph Millet - Known to God

Joseph was another of the faithful early settlers in southern Utah who sacrificed much because of his commitment to the Lord. By the time he wrote this little paragraph, his oldest daughter had died of typhoid, and he and the rest of the community had suffered great sickness and hunger.


"One of my children came in, and said that "Brother Newton Hall's folks were out of bread. Had none that day." I put our flour in [a] sack to send up to Brother Hall's. Just then Brother Hall came in.

Says I, "Brother Hall, are you out for flour?"

"Brother Millett, we have none."

"Well, Brother Hall, there is some in that sack. I have divided and was going to send it to you. Your children told mine that you were out."

Brother Hall began to cry. Said "he had tried others. Could not get any. Went to the cedars and prayed to the Lord and the Lord told him to go to Joseph Millett."
"Well, Brother Hall, you needn't bring this back if the Lord sent you for it. You don't owe me for it." 

You can't tell how good it made me feel to know that the Lord knew that there was such a person as Joseph Millett.

- Joseph Millet, journal entry, 1871, Spring Valley.


That last line is remarkably profound, and still sends chills up my spine after many readings. Remember in the Lectures on Faith when the three requirements for exercising faith in God are taught? The third was something like an actual knowledge that the course of life you are pursuing is according to God's will. I think that's what Joseph Millet sensed. Having that awareness, that God really does exist and really does care about _me_, is a wonderful gift...

Compiled and written by David Kenison

Flour Miraculously Provided

Many of the pioneer settlers had experiences that convinced them that the Lord was not only aware of their trials, but was blessing and sustaining them. The Davis Family is a good example. Stanley Davis lost his wife during the 1852 crossing of the plains; she was buried near the Platte River, leaving the father with three daughters and a son. They made their new home in Salt Lake City.

The next year, the family's store of flour had almost become exhausted with little prospect of new supplies. One day, as the family ate a simple meal of boiled vegetables, a knock came on the door. It was a woman they did not know, a convert recently arrived from England. She tearfully explained that her son was dying of dysentery and begged them to give her a quart of flour. She had been told that a mixture of flour, water, and red pepper would help bring a cure, and was willing to give them her last dollar to pay for the flour.

Stanley Davis said to one of his daughters, "Emily, go upstairs and fill this cup with flour for the sister." Little Emily's face fell as she replied, "But Father, you said that we could have lumpy-dick from the flour that is left and the sack is almost empty now." (Lumpy-dick was a kind of pudding made by adding white flour to boiling water until it reached the consistency of mush, then adding milk and sugar.) The father promised, "You'll get your lumpy-dick. Didn't Brother Brigham Young himself say that if we would share with the in-coming Saints, our flour sacks would never be empty?" So the woman was sent on her way with not just flour, but also a large pan of vegetables from the family garden.

A few days later, Stanley Davis returned home from working in the fields, and told little Emily to go up and get some flour to make lumpy-dick for supper. She left, but soon came running back down the stairs crying, "Father, I'm afraid to go near the sack. There's a wolf or something hiding in it. It stands up now and when I filled that quart cup it was laying in wrinkles on the floor."

The family went upstairs to find that the sack was now full of fine, white flour, the source of which they never knew. They bore witness to the realization of "Brother Brigham's promise."

(See _Our Pioneer Heritage_, Vol. 7, p.563-4)

Compiled and written by David Kenison