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)