Along Rough Trails

Twitter

(This is an excerpt from the book Eliza by Karen Lynn Davidson and Jill Mulvay Derr.)

Eliza traveled across Iowa Territory with the family of Hannah and Stephen Markham, friends of Joseph Smith with whom she had lived during her last two years in Nauvoo. With considerable good humor, she writes of conditions on the trek: “My dormitory, sitting-room, writing office, and frequently dining-room, was the buggy in which Mrs. Markham, her little son David, and I rode. With the best I could do for myself, I frosted my feet which occasioned me considerable inconvenience for several weeks. . . . [Yet] we were thankful to be so well off—fleeing from persecution, we were in pursuit of a land of peace.” She was particularly impressed by the strength of the women of the company, many of whom “walked all day, rain or shine,” rather than ride in the relative luxury of a wagon, and who “at night prepared supper for their families, with no sheltering tents. . . . Frequently with intense sympathy and admiration I watched the mother when, forgetful of her own fatigue and destitution, she took unwearied pains to fix up in the most palatable form the allotted portion (most of the time we were rationed) of food, and as she dealt it out, was cheering the hearts of her children, while, as I truly believed, her own was lifted to God in fervent prayer that their lives might be preserved.”

The ill-provisioned Saints made their way along rough trails and often through deep mud. By May, Eliza had arrived at the way station known as Mount Pisgah, where the Saints planted gardens to be harvested by those who followed. Here her brother Lorenzo fell severely ill. “I feel great reason for thankfulness that the Lord has given me strength to administer to L.,” she wrote in her diary on June 11. Two weeks later she penned a prayer: “O Lord my God I pray for health that I may be useful.” The 265-mile journey across Iowa Territory, which the Saints anticipated would take three or four weeks, took nearly sixteen. But Eliza continued to make the best of every situation. “It is a growling, grumbling, devilish, sickly time with us now—I hope never to see another week like the past one. . . . Have been a little at loss how to do, but conclude to see the game thro’, & enjoy the scenery.”

Notes about the weather and the landscape dot Eliza’s diary: “The month commences with a volley of natures tears quite cold,”12 “bluffs rudely scallop’d with shrubbery presented a scene that might well be call’d wildly beautiful.”13 At one point, when Sister Markham fell ill, the task of driving the ox team fell to Eliza. “Had it been a horse team,” she wrote, “I should have been amply qualified, but driving oxen was entirely new business. However, I took the whip, and very soon learned to haw and jee, and acquitted myself very well in driving most of the way to ‘Winter Quarters.’”

After crossing Iowa, the Saints stopped for the winter in encampments along the Missouri River. The largest of their temporary settlements, called Winter Quarters, was in the unorganized territory that became Nebraska. Eliza arrived there with the Markhams in early August. “I go to my trade—make pr. pants for David [the Markham’s youngest son],” she wrote on August 29. Then, two days later, she fell seriously ill “from exposure and hardship.” For forty days she lay sick with fever in her wagon, where her bed “was exposed to heavy rains, and, at times, unavoidably wet from head to foot[.] I realized that I was near the gate of death; but in this suffering and exposed condition, I did not feel that God had forsaken me—my trust was in Him, and His power preserved me. While passing through this trying scene, I not only realized the goodness of God, but experienced many kindnesses from my sisters, whose names are not only written in my Journal, but also are engraven on my heart.”

(Jill Mulvay Derr and Karen Lynn Davidson, Eliza: The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013], 59-61.)

Twitter

Related Content

Hymnbook Trivia: Some Information for the Curious Hymnbook Trivia: Some Information for the Curious
Our Latter-day Hymns gives insight into the beliefs and history,... Read
I Believe in Christ I Believe in Christ
Our Latter-day Hymns gives insight into the beliefs and history,... Read
A Roof of Willows and Earth A Roof of Willows and Earth
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
Praise to the Man Praise to the Man
Our Latter-day Hymns gives insight into the beliefs and history,... Read
Helping with the Work Helping with the Work
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages
Joseph L. Townsend, the author of “Nearer, Dear Savior, to Thee,”... Read
Doing Nothing by Halves Doing Nothing by Halves
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
Conflict Between Saints and Settlers Conflict Between Saints and Settlers
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
A Capacity to Encourage and Elevate A Capacity to Encourage and Elevate
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
Her Gift Her Gift
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
An Icon and a Legend An Icon and a Legend
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
Relief Society: "Form'd to Bless" Relief Society: "Form'd to Bless"
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
Longing for Home Longing for Home
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages
The famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher stated: “I would rather have... Read
Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages
‘In Hymns of Praise’: “All things denote there is a God,” declared... Read
Blessed and Fortunate Blessed and Fortunate
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
"Instruct the Sisters" "Instruct the Sisters"
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
Poet Unmasked Poet Unmasked
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read
Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages Our Latter-day Hymns: The Stories and the Messages
The singing of hymns in private and public devotions can be traced... Read
Her Conversion Her Conversion
Eliza R. Snow is one of the most revered women in the history of... Read

Conversations

Fridge Quotes:

Seek by Deseret Book