The Lake Family | James Lake Company (1850)
And yet, by waiting just two years, they were in a better position to heed God’s call, to serve and to lead others, and to ensure their own self-reliance in a time when the church had many destitute members to take care of in a land with limited resources. It’s a personal testimony to me of how God works with us individually- when some are called to “take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink,” others are commanded to “prepared every needful thing” (3 Nephi 13:25, Doctrine and Covenants 88:119). Waiting can be a refiner’s fire, patience a builder or character. For “if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30)
The Steed Family | Milo Andrus Company (1850)
Though she was well outfitted for the journey and joined together was a widowed father to make the journey easier for both families, Caroline had very little when she arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. She sold the outfit that had brought her across the plains, bought a small log cabin, and then had to find a way to feed and cloth her family. Though she was a beautiful seamstress, money and work were scarce, and she did her best with payments of farm produce and discarded clothing.
Even still, when one of her Steed relations returned from the handcart rescue company with with his niece, Sarah Steed, Caroline took her in, bathing her and dressing her in her own clothes.
She would eventually sell her little log cabin to the church, the land of which lies under the Northwest Section of the Tabernacle in Temple Square.
Caroline never remarried. She was self-reliant, hard working, and still had room to be generous. She would remain close to her children and posterity all of her life, with these words written on her grave upon her death: “Caroline Steed was a noble woman.”
The Argyle Family | Edmund Ellsworth Handcart Company (1856)
Joseph was a tinner by trade. He had brought sufficient tools and a box of heavy tin in order to start a business in Salt Lake City. However, the company quickly discovered that the green wood of the newly built handcarts could not hold up to the rigors of the trail. After just two days time, Joseph set to work reinforcing the handcarts with his tin, ultimately using all of it to secure every handcart in the company over the course of their journey.
It took 109 days for them to walk the 1400 miles to the Salt Lake Valley. For six of those weeks, pregnant Rebecca carried her youngest child on a pillow in her apron because the little girl had become too ill to walk on her own. She nearly gave up, but the thought of protecting her helpless daughter and unborn child gave her the strength to keep going on her worst day.
Without having walked with them, knowing their remarkable story has made it part of my own. I feel a personal connection to the time of “the Restoration” and the history of my people and our faith. And I’ve considered what that should mean to me today.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reminds us to take part int he ongoing restoration. In the September 2020 Ensign, he said, “Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthood keys, the Church was organized. In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes ‘all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,’ and the ‘many great and important things’ that ‘He will yet reveal’ (Articles of Faith 1:9)… When our time in mortality is complete, what experiences will we be able to share about our own contribution to this significant period of our lives and to the furthering of the Lord’s work?f Will we be able to say that we rolled up our sleeves and labored with all our heart, might, mind and strength? Or will we have to admit that our role was mostly that of an observer?” Or a descendant?
And so I will try to take this to heart—How am I furthering the work of the Restoration today? How do I Hear Him to know what he would have me contribute? Do I have something to offer? Can I carry another? Am I listening and ready to act?
Noah Brimhall | Handcart Rescue Company
Family Tree: Me > Mom > Grandpa Brimhall > Logan Brimhall > Norman Andrew Brimhall > Noah Brimhall
Me > Dad > Grandpa Cooley > Lillian (Lydia) Vaughn Strebel Cooley > Ethel Una Roberts Strebel > Adelberg Carlos Roberts (3) > Daniel Roberts (52, widowed) | Harry Walton/Garden Grove Company, May 17, 1851 (130 days)
Me > Dad > Grandpa Cooley > Lillian (Lydia) Vaughn Strebel Cooley > Ethel Una Roberts Strebel > Martha Eliza York (infant) > Hannah Carter (40) and Aaron Merton York Sr. (42) | William Snow/Joseph Young Company, June 21, 1850 (102 days)
Me > Mom > Grandma Brimhall > Anna Laura Farnsworth > Eliza Ann Hess > Elizabeth White > Ann Eliza Adelaide Everett (4) | Jedediah M Grant - Willard Snow Company, June 19, 1947 (107 days)
Me > Mom > Grandma Brimhall > Anna Laura Farnsworth > Eliza Ann Hess > Elizabeth White > John Stout White | Mormon Battalion
Me > Mom > Grandma Brimhall > Anna Laura Farnsworth > Wilford Burt Farnsworth > Mary Isabelle Tidwell > Susan Briggs Allen (17) and Peter Tidwell (21) | Isaac M Stewart Company, June 19, 1852 (70 days)
For the last year or so, I have felt drawn to the women of the scriptures. Their stories are often brief but impactful, and as I have begun to see them for the real people they are, I have also begun to see myself reflected in their narratives. I feel a strong kinship and sisterhood with them, and I long to know more about them—their thoughts, their views, their stories.
More than any other woman in scripture, Mary is revered and remembered. And yet we still know so little about her. Thousands of years later, we can only truly know so much about her and her experience, but I am finding beauty in learning more about the time in which she lived and the people she called her own. I am coming to know her as I take quiet moments to put myself in her place. It’s speculation, on one hand, but I still feel I am learning from her as I learn of her. And as I more fully see God’s hand in her life, I feel new eternal truths that now resonate in my own.
1. Mary and Elisabeth
Have you ever considered the significance of the Angel Gabriel telling her that Elisabeth too was experiencing a miraculous pregnancy? That our Heavenly Parents made sure this young woman was not alone in her experience, and provided a kindred sisterhood when she most needed it? With Elisabeth, Mary was not alone. She was understood. I love to think of the tenderness between these two women, and what their shared experience must have meant to them both. Heavenly Parents know the timeline. People are put into our lives and into our families. Our timelines, God’s timelines, linked timelines.
I also love to think of her spending those first three months with Elisabeth, another woman of God so filled with the Spirit that she recognized Mary as “blessed among women” and the fruit or her womb as blessed as soon as Mary arrived (Luke 1:40-42). Elisabeth, wife of the priest Zachariah, both of whom were described as “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless”— this is who welcomes Mary with open arms. What a safe haven for Mary during those tender months! I imagine it was a time of study, prayer, and learning as both women prepared to fulfill their ordained roles as mothers.
These verses also disclose much about Elisabeth. Because of the unimpeded flow of God’s spirit into her, it is evident that she has been laboring in spiritual preparation for mothering a child of promise. Moreover, we can safely presume that these intense efforts do not differ much from her past actions, but rather show her to be a person of long-standing spiritual character. Her efforts to set her life squarely onto God’s path also open her to the spirit of prophecy wherein she both learns what she cannot know about Mary and her special child, and predicts what is yet in store for her young cousin (see 1:42–45). In fact, in speaking about Mary, “the mother of my Lord,” Elisabeth acts as her own son will act—as the herald of the Messiah. Moreover, her unswerving worthiness, hinted at in these verses, will bring to her unborn son an unparalleled blessing—he will be “filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb” (1:15; also D&C 84:27).”
-BYU New Testament commentary by S. Kent Brown
“La Visitation: Mary Visits Saint Elisabeth” by Odilon Redon
2. Mary and the Scriptures
As I understand it, it is most likely that during this time period a woman like Mary would not have been literate. As a religious person, however, she would have been knowledgeable in the scriptures and very familiar with the Old Testament (1). Consider all she knew from her own words in the her Magnificat, The Song of Mary (Luke 1:46-55). Even before she ever held the Savior in her arms, she knew Him, as we can know Him, through the scriptures.
And in those nine months leading up to the birth of her son, I wonder what scriptures brought her comfort or insight or new meaning. I think of the prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament, and wonder what parallels she now saw.
”Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” -Isaiah 7:14
”For Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
”But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though though be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2