Monday, July 20, 2009

Pioneers: Day One

When I used to teach music in Primary (my favorite calling of all time), I loved to teach the pioneer songs. I loved to dress up like a pioneer and I loved to tell the stories! It is probably one of my favorite holidays because it just means so much to me, maybe because I marvel at the sacrifices that were part of everday life for them, or maybe it is because I find my faith increased after I read of theirs. Whatever the reason, I stand in awe of them and the legacy that they have left behind. To me, they are the ultimate example of a people who humbly and willingly gave up everything in order to find freedom from persecution and obey the will of God. I can't even begin to imagine what it must have been like to live back then.

Pioneer Day is on the 24th of July. This morning as I was thinking about what I was going to do to celebrate them, I decided to write about a pioneer everyday this week. To start off, I am going to write about my 4th great grandparents...Jane Johnston Black and William Young Black. Both of them were born in Ireland. After all of their parents had died, they moved to Manchester, England. {They actually have quite an amazing love story, but in order to not drag this post on forever, I have chosen to just include some selected parts}.

The following is in Jane's own words:

"We did go in what was called Paul Harris Cellar. William Clayton and Joseph Fielding addressed us. It was glad tidings and great joy to my husband and me. We both believed and on about January 14, 1839 we were baptized by Elder Clayton. In the year 1840, the chilldren and I [William was serving a mission in England] traveled to Nauvoo and saw and heard the Prophet Joseph Smith and I can testify the he truly was a Prophet of God.

We then moved to Nauvoo and lived there until the Saints were driven from their homes and across the Mississippi River....We had nothing to eat except on half bushel of corn meal and a half dozen cucumbers that were given to me. There were a great many sick among us and nothing to comfort them and nourish them but cornmeal until the Lord sent quail amongst us which supplied our needs. They were so tame some of them would light on the beds of the sick and they could reach out their hands and catch them. We had nothing to sweeten anything until the Lord sent honey dew, which we gathered from the bushes until we had all we could use. How grateful we were for these blessings.

The Saints moved on to Winter Quarters and we went with them. We stayed there about a year and then started across the plains on our journey to the Salt Lake Valley. We often walked from fifteen to twenty miles per day, but many times the going was very slow and hard. We walked to ease the load our team had to haul. After a weary and toilsome journey of more than a thousand miles we arrived in Salt Lake City in the Fall of 1850.

{So I just told this story to Katelund and Cloey and when I got to the part about them not having hardly any food and all of the people that were sick, Cloey stopped me. She had tears all in her eyes and said, "Mommy, can we please go and take them some food and drive them to our house so we can take care of them?"}


Penni said...

I had goosebumps the entire time reading this. And how sweet of Cloey to have such compassion!

deana said...

Great story Melissa! There are so many wonderful gutwrenching stories of the pioneers. Thanks for sharing! I really loved what Cloey said. She is just like her mama!

Destinee said...

What a great idea and a beautiful story. How wonderful to have those stories about your ancestors.
Cloey is such a sweetheart.

You've had some really great posts lately. I've just been really lame at commenting. But I'm reading so keep 'em coming!

Mandy said...

I don't think I knew that you descend from pioneers. Thank you for among mostly first and second generation converts, it's sometimes hard to relate to the pioneers and their families...we feel very distant from the "original" saints. I always appreciate stories of their lives and conversions.

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