I have mentioned the following story to a few friends that have asked me to send them a copy and I thought I would share it with more of you by posting it on my blog. The story below was written by a dear friend of ours. He shared it with us for the first time when he was asked to speak in church while we were visiting his family in Canada. Still to this day it brings tears to my eyes. I know it's a long post, but if you have the time it's worth reading. Happy Pioneer Day to all our friends & family!!
"We’ve heard much about the Mormon pioneers of 1847 and their trek across the plains and entrance into the Salt Lake Valley. Not surprisingly, as the pioneer theme is presented, each goes back in memory to his or her own family line. There are usually examples to identify and which fit the definition of a pioneer: “one who goes before, showing others the way to follow.” Some, if not all, made great sacrifices to leave behind comfort and ease and respond to that clarion call of their newly found faith. The stories of death, suffering and sacrifice along the Mormon trail are legend among church members and the modern-day trek has become a pilgrimage for the thousands of Mormons seeking a connection to their pioneer ancestors. If you take the time to participate on one of these treks, you will hear the ancestral stories that make the trail come alive. On a recent visit to Nauvoo, I made my own personal walk down Parley Street to the banks of the Mississippi and gazed across the waters to Iowa thinking of the bone-chilling cold of that bitter winter in February 1846 when the saints would begin their exodus from their beloved Nauvoo and into the unknown mystery of the western frontier. I took my turn with them and gazed back at the now beautifully restored Nauvoo Temple and thought of the symbol of sacrifice, dedication and obedience its very purpose had served. Some 5,600 of them had received their endowments and helped establish the restoration of these sacred covenants in this dispensation. What was missing for me was an ancestral link to this time in history. I have completed extensive research into my Family History, but all my lines seem to take me deep into a history rooted firmly into Europe with no information even remotely rumored to be LDS. When I received this assignment, I wanted to add a personal touch and share experiences of my lineage to help explore their sacrifices and personal suffering so that we would better understand the important aspects of the Lord’s plan for us. I searched my ancestral files again hoping the Lord would slip something into my view that had been previously missed, but I could find nothing. I had spent the better part of the evening with my research pondering and praying as I went, when a thought occurred in my mind that I actually do have a link. I immediately made a phone call to a friend living 12 hundred miles away and indeed received confirmation that a link to these early pioneer does exist and he then proceeded to give me the base I needed to begin my research for this assignment. I could not imagine the history I was about to unfold."
"My research took me back to January 22, 1784 when a young man named James was born in Randolph, NC. He would live almost 30 years with his parents working the farm until one day he would marry Elizabeth and they would move to the Ohio River. In 1830 they moved to Missouri, Monroe County. Here they settled down and on the 10th day of September 1832, they were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by Elder George M. Hinkle, at which place a large branch of the Church was built up and called “Salt River Branch.” In the fall of 1833, James, his two sons and two sons-in-law joined the company of the Prophet Joseph Smith. In June 1834, they, along with the Prophet’s company of two hundred brethren, journeyed to the upper part of Missouri in order to redeem “Zion”, and to reinstate a portion of the saints who had been driven from their homes in Jackson County, Missouri. In the year 1835 they moved to Clay County, Missouri and in the spring of 1837 to Caldwell County where the saints commenced to gather to build a stake of Zion. James was elected county judge and also President of the southern Firm. In the spring of 1839 after an extermination order was issued against the Mormons, James and his family would move to Commerce, which was later called Nauvoo, where he was ordained a High Priest, a member of the High Council and was chosen as one of the Prophet’s body guards in the Nauvoo Legion. He also held several other responsible positions, such as supervisors of streets and helped to build the Nauvoo Temple and assisted in giving endowments. While they were living in Nauvoo, the Prophet came to James’ wife, who was a seamstress by trade, and told her that he had seen the Angel Moroni with the garments on, and asked her to assist him in cutting out the garments. They spread unbleached muslin out on the table and he told her how to cut it out. She had to cut the third pair, however, before he said it was satisfactory. She told the prophet that there would be sufficient cloth from the knee to the ankle to make a pair of sleeves, but he told her he wanted as few seams as possible and there would be sufficient whole cloth to cut the sleeve without piecing."
"In the year 1842, James was ordained a Seventy and a member of the 4th Quorum of Seventies. In June of 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith, his brother Hyrum, President John Taylor and Willard Richards were taken to the Carthage jail, Hancock County, Illinois. At the jail the Prophet Joseph handed his sword to James and said, “Take this -- you may need it to defend yourself.” On the 27th of June the Prophet and Hyrum were murdered in the Carthage jail. It would be this same James that would move the wounded John Taylor back to his family home and bring the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum back to Nauvoo."
|James & Elizabeth |
(I'm hoping the child in the photo is a grandchild,
if not that might explain why these two look so unhappy).
"On 29 June 1851, James and Elizabeth would join other saints in forming the Easton Kelsey Company and begin their exodus from Nauvoo to the Promised Land. 100 wagons were in the company when it began its journey from the outfitting post at Kanesville, Iowa (present day Council Bluffs). They originally departed about June 10, but turned back due to Indian trouble. The Easton Kelsey Company would begin arriving in the Salt Lake Valley from 22 September through the 7 October 1851 - a much smaller group then had initially set forth 3 months earlier."
"James and Elizabeth would settle in what is now called Spring City, Utah to live out the final days of their lives. Prior to his death, James would be ordained to the office of Patriarch. He died just twelve days short of his ninety-second birthday on January 10, 1876. He had been married to his wife Elizabeth (who died three years later) for more than seventy-two years. They had reared twelve children of their own and eight orphaned children of their second son. They had a posterity of four hundred and forty seven, which included twelve children, one hundred and four grandchildren, three hundred and two great grandchildren, and twenty nine great-great grandchildren."
"Now, where do I fit into all of this history? Well, James and Elizabeth had a son named William Hackley who would become a partriarch after his fathers death. The next four generations would see Wilson Munroe, Robert Hackley, Robert Clay and Eric Ray join the family as stalwart members of the Church, the later Robert would become a Patriarch himself. Then in 1969 a son was born to Eric and Phyllis that would serve a mission in the Canada Toronto Mission for the Church. His mission would take him to a small city in Ontario and during the spirtual harvesting of a city street and the final door before resting for the day, they tracted into my home where my wife set-up an appointment (and forgot to tell me about it!) for later in the week. This appointment would lead to the discussions and the eventual baptism of myself, my wife and each of our children and the sealing of our family for eternity."
"It is from the Allred family's rich heritage of dedication, sacrifice and personal suffering that I am here today. Let me repeat the definition of a pioneer: “one who goes before, showing others the way to follow.” That would make each of pioneers in our own way. Some sort of sacrifice is inevitable but necessary as we further the Lords work. We must not lose the spirit of sacrifice demonstrated by the handcart pioneers. Some of the Lord’s choicest blessings await those who practice this eternal principle through extending themselves in service to God and to their fellowmen. The sacrificing spirit and the happiness that come through service to others can bring peace and joy even amid trials."
"The principle of sacrifice should be taught in every Latter-day Saint home and should be practiced in many simple yet important ways. We can do this by setting an example of reverence that will bring the true spirit of worship into our meetings and by guarding against murmuring and complaining about the challenges of the Sunday worship schedule. We can contribute a generous fast offering, find joy in supporting missionaries, and pay an honest tithing. We can accept Church callings and serve with a happy and grateful heart, do temple work regularly, offer family and personal daily prayers, and teach one another each week in well-planned family home evenings. Both younger members and those who are older can prepare early and make themselves worthy to accept calls to serve as missionaries. We all can be good neighbors and can take care of widows, the poor, and the less fortunate. We can reach out to others in our service as home and visiting teachers. Today we are not called to pull handcarts through the snow-swept plains of Wyoming; however, we are called to live, foster, and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our privilege to invest our means and our time to bless others. Each one of us must do all we can to preserve our Latter-day Saint way of life. A vital part of this preservation is a willingness to set aside personal desires and replace them with unselfish sacrifice for others – even those we may never meet in this estate."
For more information about the Allred's, visit Allredfamily.com.