Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mary Fielding Smith's Oxen are Administered To

Mary Fielding Smith was a woman of remarkable faith and testimony. She was the wife of Hyrum Smith; her oldest son, Joseph Fielding Smith, and her grandson of the same name, both became Presidents of the Church. When Mary crossed to Utah in 1848, her son Joseph was 9 years old.

Things went quite smoothly until they reached a point midway between the Platte and the Sweetwater rivers, when one of Mary's best oxen lay down in the yoke as if poisoned and all supposed he would die. All the teams in the rear stopped, and many gathered around to see what had happened. In a short time, the Captain perceived that something was wrong and came to the spot. The ox stiffened in the throes of death. The Captain blustered about and exclaimed: "'He is dead, there is no use working with him, we'll have to fix up some way to take the Widow along. I told her she would be a burden on the company.'" But in this, he was greatly mistaken.

Mary said nothing but went to her wagon and returned with a bottle of consecrated oil. She asked her brother Joseph and James Lawson to administer to her fallen ox, believing that the Lord would raise him. It was a solemn moment there under the open sky. A hush fell over the scene. The men removed their hats. All bowed their heads as Joseph Fielding, who had been promised by Heber C. Kimball that he would have power to raise the dead, knelt, laid his hands on the head of the prostrate ox, and prayed over it. The great beast lay stretched out and very still. Its glassy eyes looked nowhere. A moment after the administration the animal stirred. Its huge, hind legs commenced to gather under it. Its haunches started to rise. The forelegs strengthened. The ox stood and, without urging, started off as if nothing had happened. This amazing thing greatly astonished the onlookers.

They hadn't gone very far when another ox "Old Bully," lay down under exactly the same circumstances. This time it was one of her best oxen, the loss of which would have been very serious. Again, the holy ordinance was administered, with the same results.

How the family loved these dumb beasts of burden. So much depended on them. They had heroic association with the family. Sixty-nine years later, Joseph F. Smith at a 24th of July celebration affectionately mentioned the oxen that brought his mother and family to the Valley.

"...My team consisted of two pairs, or yokes, of oxen. My leaders' names were Thom and Joe -- we raised them from calves, and they were both white. My wheel team was named Broad and Berry. Broad was light brindle with a few white spots on his body, and he had long, broad, pointed horns, from which he got his name. Berry was red and bony and short horned. Thom was trim built, active, young, and more intelligent than many a man. Many times while traveling sandy or rough roads, long thirsty drives, my oxen, lowing with the heat and fatigue, I would put my arms around Thom's neck, and cry bitter tears. That was all I could do. Thom was my favorite and best and most willing and obedient servant and friend. He was choice!"

(From _Mary Fielding Smith_, by Don C. Corbett, pp. 236-238)

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