1805-1819

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Lucy Mack Smith-Introduction of the Smith Family

 

CHAPTER 8

I SHALL now introduce the history of my own life. I was born in the town of Gilsum, Cheshire county, state of New Hampshire, on the eighth of July, 1776.

When I arrived at the age of eight years, my mother had a severe fit of sickness. She was so low that she, as well as her friends, entirely despaired of her recovery. During this sickness she called her children around her bed and, after exhorting them always to remember the instructions which she had given them—to fear God and walk uprightly before Him—she gave me to my brother Stephen, requesting him to take care of me and bring me up as his own child, then bade each of us farewell.

This my brother promised to do, but as my mother shortly recovered it was not necessary, and I consequently remained at my father's house until my sister Lovisa was married. Some time after this event I went to South Hadley, to pay Lovisa, who was living there, a visit.

I returned home to my parents in about six months and remained with them in Gilsum until the death of Lovina. Soon after which my brother Stephen, who was living at Tunbridge, Vermont, came to my father's on a visit and he insisted so earnestly on my accompanying him home that my parents consented. The grief occasioned by the death of Lovina was preying upon my health and threatened my constitution with serious injury, and they hoped that to accompany my brother home might serve to divert my mind and thus prove a benefit to me. For I was pensive and melancholy and often in my reflections I thought that life was not worth possessing.

In the midst of this anxiety of mind, I determined to obtain that which I had heard spoken so much of from the pulpit—a change of heart.

To accomplish this I spent much of my time reading the Bible and praying, but notwithstanding my great anxiety to experience a change of heart, another matter would always interpose in all my meditations—if I remain a member of no church, all religious people will say I am of the world, and if I join some one of the different denominations, all the rest will say I am in error. No church will admit that I am right except the one with which I am associated. This makes them witnesses against each other, and how can I decide in such a case as this, seeing they are all unlike the Church of Christ, as it existed in former days!

While I remained at Tunbridge, I became acquainted with a young man by the name of Joseph Smith, to whom I was subsequently married.

I continued with my brother one year, then went home. I was at home but a short time when my brother came after me again and insisted so hard upon my returning with him that I concluded to do so. And this time I remained with him until I was married, which took place the next January.

pp. 36-37

CHAPTER 10

SOON after I was married I went with my husband to see my parents, and as we were about setting out on this visit my brother Stephen and his partner in business, John Mudget, were making some remarks in regard to my leaving them and the conversation presently turned upon the subject of giving me a marriage present. "Well," said Mr. Mudget, "Lucy ought to have something worth naming, and I will give her just as much as you will."

"Done," said my brother, "I will give her five hundred dollars in cash."

"Good," said the other, "and I will give her five hundred dollars more."

So they wrote a cheque on their bankers for one thousand dollars and presented me with the same. This cheque I laid aside as I had other means by me sufficient to purchase my housekeeping furniture.

Having visited my father and mother, we returned again to Tunbridge, where my companion owned a handsome farm, upon which we settled ourselves and began to cultivate the soil. We lived on this place about six years, tilling the earth for a livelihood.

In 1802, we rented our farm in Tunbridge and moved to the town of Randolph, where we opened a mercantile establishment. When we came to this place we had two children, Alvin and Hyrum.

p. 45

CHAPTER 11

WE HAD lived in Randolph but six months when I took a heavy cold, which caused a severe cough. To relieve this, every possible exertion was made, but it was all in vain. A hectic fever set in which threatened to prove fatal, and the physician pronounced my case to be confirmed consumption. During this sickness my mother watched over me with much anxiety, sparing herself no pains in administering to my comfort, yet I continued to grow weaker and weaker until I could scarcely endure even a foot-fall upon the floor, except in stocking-foot, and no one was allowed to speak in the room above a whisper.

While I was in this situation, a Methodist exhorter came to see me. On coming to the door, he knocked in his usual manner, and his knocking so agitated me that it was a considerable length of time before my nerves became altogether quieted again. My mother motioned him to a chair, and in a whisper informed him of my situation, which prevented his asking me any questions. He tarried some time and while he sat he seemed deeply to meditate upon the uncertainty of my recovering; in the meantime he showed a great desire to have conversation with me respecting my dying.

As he thus sat pondering, I fancied to myself that he was going to ask me if I was prepared to die, and I dreaded to have him speak to me for then I did not consider myself ready for such an awful event, inasmuch as I knew not the ways of Christ; besides, there appeared to be a dark and lonesome chasm between myself and the Savior, which I dared not attempt to pass.

I thought I strained my eyes and by doing so I could discern a faint glimmer of the light that was beyond the gloom which lay immediately before me.

When I was meditating upon death in this manner, my visitor left, soon after which my husband came to my bed and took me by the hand and said, "Oh, Lucy! my wife! my wife! you must die! The doctors have given you up, and all say you cannot live."

I then looked to the Lord and begged and pleaded with him to spare my life in order that I might bring up my children and be a comfort to my husband. My mind was much agitated during the whole night. Sometimes I contemplated heaven and heavenly things, then my thoughts would turn upon those of earth—my babes and my companion.

During this night I made a solemn covenant with God that if He would let me live I would endeavor to serve him according to the best of my abilities. Shortly after this I heard a voice say to me, "Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Let your heart be comforted; ye believe in God, believe also in me."

In a few moments my mother came in and, looking upon me, she said, "Lucy, you are better."

I replied, as my speech returned just at that instant, "Yes, mother, the Lord will let me live, if I am faithful to the promise which I made to him, to be a comfort to my mother, my husband, and my children." I continued to gain strength until I became quite well as to my bodily health, but my mind was considerably disquieted. It was wholly occupied upon the subject of religion. As soon as I was able I made all diligence in endeavoring to find someone who was capable of instructing me more perfectly in the way of life and salvation.

As soon as I had strength sufficient, I visited one Deacon Davies, a man whom I regarded as exceedingly pious, and as he was apprised of my sudden and miraculous recovery, I expected to hear about the same which I had heard from my mother—"The Lord has done a marvelous work; let His name have the praise thereof." But, no; from the time I arrived at his house until I left I heard nothing except, "Oh, Mrs. Smith has come—help her in—run, build a fire, make the room warm—fill the tea-kettle—get the great arm-chair," etc., etc. Their excessive anxiety concerning my physical convenience and comfort, without being seasoned with one word in relation to Christ or godliness, sickened and disgusted me, and I returned home very sorrowful and much disappointed.

From my anxiety of mind to abide the covenant which I had made with the Lord, I went from place to place for the purpose of getting information and finding, if it were possible, some congenial spirit who could enter into my feelings and thus be able to strengthen and assist me in carrying out my resolutions.

I heard that a very devout man was to preach the next Sabbath in the Presbyterian church; I therefore went to meeting in the full expectation of hearing that which my soul desired—the Word of Life. When the minister commenced speaking, I fixed my mind with deep attention upon the spirit and matter of his discourse, but after hearing him through I returned home, convinced that he neither understood nor appreciated the subject upon which he spoke, and I said in my heart that there was not then upon earth the religion which I sought. I therefore determined to examine my Bible and, taking Jesus and His disciples for my guide, to endeavor to obtain from God that which man could neither give nor take away. Notwithstanding this, I would hear all that could be said, as well as read much that was written, on the subject of religion; but the Bible I intended should be my guide to life and salvation. This course I pursued a number of years. At length I considered it my duty to be baptized and, finding a minister who was willing to baptize me and leave me free in regard to joining any religious denomination, I stepped forward and yielded obedience to this ordinance, after which I continued to read the Bible as formerly until my eldest son had attained his twenty-second year.

pp. 46-49

CHAPTER 13

WHILE we were living in the town of Tunbridge, my mind became deeply impressed with the subject of religion, which probably was occasioned by my singular experience during my sickness at Randolph. I commenced attending Methodist meetings, and in order to oblige me, my husband accompanied me; but when this came to the ears of his oldest brother, 1 he was so displeased and said so much in regard to the matter that my husband thought it best to desist. He said that he considered it hardly worth our while to attend the meetings any longer as it would prove of but little advantage to us; besides this, it gave our friends such disagreeable feelings. I was considerably hurt by this, yet I made no reply. I retired to a grove not far distant, where I prayed to the Lord in behalf of my husband—that the true gospel might be presented to him and that his heart might be softened so as to receive it, or, that he might become more religiously inclined. After praying some time in this manner, I returned to the house much depressed in spirit, which state of feeling continued until I retired to my bed. I soon fell asleep and had the following dream:

I thought that I stood in a large and beautiful meadow, which lay a short distance from the house in which we lived, and that everything around me wore an aspect of peculiar pleasantness. The first thing that attracted my special attention in this magnificent meadow, was a very pure and clear stream of water, which ran through the midst of it; and as I traced this stream, I discovered two trees standing upon its margin, both of which were on the same side of the stream. These trees were very beautiful, they were well proportioned, and towered with majestic beauty to a great height. Their branches, which added to their symmetry and glory, commenced near the top, and spread themselves in luxurious grandeur around. I gazed upon them with wonder and admiration; and after beholding them a short time, I saw one of them was surrounded with a bright belt, that shone like burnished gold, but far more brilliantly. Presently, a gentle breeze passed by, and the tree encircled with this golden zone, bent gracefully before the wind, and waved its beautiful branches in the light air. As the wind increased, this tree assumed the most lively and animated appearance, and seemed to express in its motions the utmost joy and happiness. If it had been an intelligent creature, it could not have conveyed, by the power of language, the idea of joy and gratitude so perfectly as it did; and even the stream that rolled beneath it, shared, apparently, every sensation felt by the tree, for, as the branches danced over the stream, it would swell gently, then recede again with a motion as soft as the breathing of an infant, but as lively as the dancing of a sunbeam. The belt also partook of the same influence, and, as it moved in unison with the motion of the stream and of the tree, it increased continually in refulgence and magnitude, until it became exceedingly glorious.

I turned my eyes upon its fellow, which stood opposite; but it was not surrounded with the belt of light as the former, and it stood erect and fixed as a pillar of marble. No matter how strong the wind blew over it, not a leaf was stirred, not a bough was bent; but obstinately stiff it stood, scorning alike the zephyr's breath, or the power of the mighty storm.

I wondered at what I saw, and said in my heart, What can be the meaning of all this? And the interpretation given me was, that these personated my husband and his oldest brother, Jesse Smith; that the stubborn and unyielding tree was like Jesse; that the other, more pliant and flexible, was like Joseph, my husband; that the breath of heaven, which passed over them, was the pure and undefiled gospel of the Son of God, which gospel Jesse would always resist, but which Joseph, when he was more advanced in life, would hear and receive with his whole heart, and rejoice therein; and unto him would be added intelligence, happiness, glory, and everlasting life.

pp. 54-56

CHAPTER 16

JOSEPH, our third son, having recovered from the typhus fever, after something like two weeks' sickness, one day screamed out while sitting in a chair, with a pain in his shoulder, and, in a very short time he appeared to be in such agony that we feared the consequence would prove to be something very serious. We immediately sent for a doctor. When he arrived and had examined the patient, he said that it was his opinion that this pain was occasioned by a sprain. But the child declared this could not be the case as he had received no injury in any way whatever, but that a severe pain had seized him all at once, of the cause of which he was entirely ignorant.

Notwithstanding the child's protestations, still the physician insisted that it must be a sprain, and consequently he anointed his shoulder with some bone linament, but this was of no advantage to him, for the pain continued the same after the anointing as before.

When two weeks of extreme suffering had elapsed, the attendant physician concluded to make closer examination, whereupon he found that a large fever sore had gathered between his breast and shoulder. He immediately lanced it, upon which it discharged fully a quart of matter.

As soon as the sore had discharged itself the pain left it, and shot like lightning (using his own terms) down his side into the marrow of the bone of his leg and soon became very severe. My poor boy, at this, was almost in despair, and he cried out "Oh, father! the pain is so severe, how can I bear it!"

His leg soon began to swell and he continued to suffer the greatest agony for the space of two weeks longer. During this period I carried him much of the time in my arms in order to mitigate his suffering as much as possible; in consequence of which I was taken very ill myself. The anxiety of mind that I experienced, together with physical over-exertion, was too much for my constitution, and my nature sunk under it.

Hyrum, who was rather remarkable for his tenderness and sympathy, now desired that he might take my place. As he was a good, trusty boy, we let him do so, and, in order to make the task as easy for him as possible, we laid Joseph upon a low bed and Hyrum sat beside him, almost day and night for some considerable length of time, holding the affected part of his leg in his hands and pressing it between them, so that his afflicted brother might be enabled to endure the pain which was so excruciating that he was scarcely able to bear it.

At the end of three weeks, we thought it advisable to send again for the surgeon. When he came he made an incision of eight inches, on the front side of the leg, between the knee and ankle. This relieved the pain in a great measure, and the patient was quite comfortable until the wound began to heal, when the pain became as violent as ever.

The surgeon was called again, and he this time enlarged the wound, cutting the leg even to the bone. It commenced healing the second time, and as soon as it began to heal it also began to swell again, which swelling continued to rise till we deemed it wisdom to call a council of surgeons; and when they met in consultation they decided that amputation was the only remedy.

Soon after coming to this conclusion, they rode up to the door and were invited into a room apart from the one in which Joseph lay. They being seated, I addressed them thus: "Gentlemen, what can you do to save my boy's leg?" They answered, "We can do nothing; we have cut it open to the bone and find it so affected that we consider his leg incurable and that amputation is absolutely necessary in order to save his life."

This was like a thunderbolt to me. I appealed to the principal surgeon, saying, "Dr. Stone, can you not make another trial? Can you not, by cutting around the bone, take out the diseased part, and perhaps that which is sound will heal over, and by this means you will save his leg? You will not, you must not, take off his leg, until you try once more. I will not consent to let you enter his room until you make me this promise."

After consulting a short time with each other, they agreed to do as I had requested, then went to see my suffering son. One of the doctors, on approaching his bed, said, "My poor boy, we have come again." "Yes," said Joseph, "I see you have; but you have not come to take off my leg, have you, sir?" "No," replied the surgeon, "it is your mother's request that we make one more effort, and that is what we have now come for."

The principal surgeon, after a moment's conversation, ordered cords to be brought to bind Joseph fast to a bed-stead; but to this Joseph objected. The doctor, however, insisted that he must be confined, upon which Joseph said very decidedly, "No, doctor, I will not be bound, for I can bear the operation much better if I have my liberty." "Then," said Dr. Stone, "will you drink some brandy?"

"No," said Joseph, "not one drop."

"Will you take some wine?" rejoined the doctor. "You must take something, or you can never endure the severe operation to which you must be subjected."

"No," exclaimed Joseph, "I will not touch one particle of liquor, neither will I be tied down; but I will tell you what I will do—I will have my father sit on the bed and hold me in his arms, and then I will do whatever is necessary in order to have the bone taken out." Looking at me, he said, "Mother, I want you to leave the room, for I know you cannot bear to see me suffer so; father can stand it, but you have carried me so much, and watched over me so long, you are almost worn out." Then looking up into my face, his eyes swimming in tears, he continued. "Now, mother, promise me that you will not stay, will you? The Lord will help me, and I shall get through with it."

To this request I consented, and getting a number of folded sheets, and laying them under his leg, I retired, going several hundred yards from the house in order to be out of hearing.

The surgeons commenced operating by boring into the bone of his leg, first on one side of the bone where it was affected, then on the other side, after which they broke it off with a pair of forceps or pincers. They thus took away large pieces of the bone. When they broke off the first piece, Joseph screamed out so loudly, that I could not forbear running to him. On my entering the room, he cried out, "Oh, mother, go back, go back; I do not want you to come in—I will try to tough it out, if you will go away."

When the third piece was taken away, I burst into the room again—and oh, my God! what a spectacle for a mother's eye! The wound torn open, the blood still gushing from it, and the bed literally covered with blood. Joseph was pale as a corpse, and large drops of sweat were rolling down his face, whilst upon every feature was depicted the utmost agony!

I was immediately forced from the room, and detained until the operation was completed; but when the act was accomplished, Joseph put upon a clean bed, the room cleared of every appearance of blood, and the instruments which were used in the operation removed, I was permitted again to enter.

Joseph immediately commenced getting better, and from this onward, continued to mend until he became strong and healthy. When he had so far recovered as to be able to travel, he went with his uncle, Jesse Smith, to Salem, for the benefit of his health, hoping the sea-breezes would be of service to him, and in this he was not disappointed.

Having passed through about a year of sickness and distress, health again returned to our family, and we most assuredly realized the blessing; and indeed, we felt to acknowledge the hand of God, more in preserving our lives through such a tremendous scene of affliction, than if we had, during this time, seen nothing but health and prosperity.

pp. 62-66