I recently read this article from the Deseret News that encourages LDS Church members to honor their pioneer ancestors this year by telling better stories. It got me thinking about the experiences of some of mine and my wife's ancestors, the lessons they learned from them, and how I can apply them to my life today. Additionally, I want my children to know that their family members who lived years ago learned things that can help us today. Thanks to Family Search and the wonderful Memories feature attached to each person, I was able to find three stories from pioneer ancestors and identify lessons I hope that my children can learn from them someday.
Follow The Prophet — Ira Stearns Hatch
Soon after the construction of the Kirtland Temple was commenced, the Hatches decided to make a contribution to it. Ira was very eager to visit the Prophet Joseph Smith and feel the spirit of the man, so they prepared to make the trip to Kirtland, taking their contribution of $200 with them. Three days were required to make the trip, and upon arriving at Kirtland, Ira inquired for the Prophet. After being informed that he could be found in the grove where they were cutting timber for the temple, Ira Stearns made his way to that place. As he approached the workmen, one of them stuck his axe into a tree and came toward him. When close enough, he shook the hand of Ira Stearns Hatch and said "Brother Hatch, I have been expecting you for three days; the money you have brought will be used to build the pulpit in the temple." Thus, left with no room for doubt, Ira Stearns Hatch was convinced that Joseph Smith was indeed a true Prophet, and his testimony was steadfast for the remainder of his life. No one in Kirtland was acquainted with Ira nor knew of his desire to visit with the Prophet.
Be Grateful for Their Sacrifices — Mary Susannah Higgs Sleater
Mary Susannah Higgs Sleater and her parents arrived in Utah December, 1856, after a hazardous journey of five and a half months. They had been frightened many times by herds of buffalo and, at one place, their wagon tipped over and ran over and broke the shoulders of Mary Susanna, then a child of just 7 years old. There was no doctor, but they anointed her shoulders with oil and were able to continue the journey after one day's layover. Their first stopping place in the Salt Lake Valley, on that cold winter day, was the Council House... They were soon settled in two rooms of the Clawson home. Her people had been well to do in the East, but Mary Susannah's first Christmas stocking in Utah contained a piece of charcoal, a few sticks, a small potato, a small apple, and down in the toe, one stick of candy.
You Are Strong and Can Do Hard Things — Susannah Garlick Wakefield
The words of her oldest son Erastus Snow Wakefield.
“What of this little mother who was left alone with a large little family in this wilderness territory. Did she give up? No. She was made of much stronger material than to quit. She was called upon again, after her husband’s death, to go down in the valley of death and bring in another child into the world. And with faith in her creator, her comforter, this she bravely did...
“Now every effort was directed toward making the trip to Utah. Her oldest son was just 16 and the youngest less than a year old. Mother left Council Bluffs, which had been our home for about six years. Four long months were spent, by this noble mother, in crossing the plains and a vivid picture comes to mind of the long hot days, the tired and weary feet and hungry and weary body.
“I think of the many happy hours spent at night as they sang and danced around the camp fires and praised their God and all joined in singing hymns they all so dearly loved. Ah would to God that we, too, would bring into our lives the faith and love of those hymns, and would sing them with the fervor and thrill with which those faithful pioneers did make the desert sing."
is currently a marketing and social media manager at StreamPage. He graduated from BYU with a degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations. He is also a sports junkie and dessert connoisseur. He is part Texan by marriage, but still longs for Big Sky Country, where he served his mission. He is married to Lisa, and what he loves most is being the father to his son and twin girls.