Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Guest Post: Hyrum Ricks, Sr.: “For Your Own Good and for Your Salvation”
 


Guest Post: Hyrum Ricks, Sr.: “For Your Own Good and for Your Salvation”

By: Clark Ricks - March 15, 2010

The recent post about ballroom etiquette reminded me of the traumatic – yet ultimately spiritual – experience one pioneer ancestor of mine endured.

Hyrum Ricks Sr. was born on Pioneer Day, July 24, 1858. When he was less than two years old, his family moved to Cache Valley where he grew to adulthood. His father (Thomas E. Ricks, 1828-1901) would later become perhaps the most famous Ricks, colonizing Eastern Idaho and founding the college that used to bear his name in Rexburg.

Hyrum was born with club feet. Confined to hobbling around the house, he spent much of his childhood enduring the taunts of the neighborhood children. He did, however, develop a powerful upper body, and was reportedly the only young man able to beat the local Indians at wrestling.

He later wrote, “I was born with deformed feet, and like most afflicted persons, I have always been very sensitive. I have often imagined that I was slighted and overlooked when there was no real intention to do me wrong. I have sensed this fault in myself and have struggled hard all my life to be considerate and forgiving, and overcome it.”

About the time he turned 13, he saw in the newspaper that a group of surgeons from the National Surgical Institute was coming to Salt Lake and were willing to treat deformities. He has some money saved, and his father arranged for Bishop William B. Preston to escort the young man to Salt Lake for the surgery. The operation was primitive but successful. Follow-up treatment lasted four years. “The treatment caused constant pain,” he wrote. “In school, my brain seemed dull. I wanted to do great things, but with the constant nagging, it seemed impossible to think clearly.”

He was, however, now able to walk more easily, and when his friends invited the 16-year-old to come with them to a Sunday School dance, he accepted. He wouldn’t be able to dance, but he could enjoy the music and the company of friends.

He later recalled, “My young companions were happy and gay; their movements were graceful. The sweet strains of music from the quadrille band thrilled me and quickened every fiber of my sensitive nature.

“As I looked upon the joyous faces of my young friends, I sensed deeply my affliction and my inability to take any part in the pleasures of the evening. Tears began to roll down my cheek and before I could regain control of my feelings, a good sister of mature years noticed me and came to me with kind and sympathetic words. Others joined her.”

Embarrassed and ashamed, he turned away and hurried home, lay down on his bed and sobbed. He found himself praying, “ask[ing] the Lord to tell me why I was afflicted. I asked him if I had sinned in my first estate, and [why] I should be required to pass under such a severe affliction in mortality.

“ I soon felt a good, peaceful influence take possession of me, and I knew that the Lord had sent me comfort,” he reports. “A still small voice whispered in my ear, ‘The Lord is displeased with none except those who will not acknowledge his hand in all things. Your affliction was placed upon you as a check against your impetuous nature. It is for your own good and for your salvation.’ ”

That experience changed his life. While it didn’t stop the emotional or physical pain, the insight allowed him to go on and become a success. As an adult his sense of understanding and honesty was sought after, and he was asked to serve a two-year term as probate judge in Rexburg. It was while he was serving in this position that he was approached by the Improvement Era to contribute a story from his life that might inspire the youth of the Church. He did, and the story above was printed in an article titled “Comfort to the Afflicted,” in 1900.

It closed, “That scripture came to me in the middle of the night twenty five years ago, and has had a deep and lasting effect upon my life ever since… I wish to say to others who sorrow because of their affliction, be comforted; for the hand of the Lord is in all things for some wise purpose.”



13 Comments »

  1. thanks for sharing such a moving and honest story.

    Comment by anita — March 15, 2010 @ 9:52 am

  2. Thanks for this inspiring story.

    Comment by Stephen Taylor — March 15, 2010 @ 11:11 am

  3. There probably isn’t one of us who hasn’t felt as alone and *different* as this young man, with much less cause. I confess that I still haven’t come to terms with my differences as well as Hyrum did, but it is inspiring to read his story and feel his sincerity.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 15, 2010 @ 11:18 am

  4. These are the kinds of things we all wish we knew about our ancestors. All the more reason that each of us should be keeping journals or finding some way to preserve some of our stories for our descendants. Touching story, Clark. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by kevinf — March 15, 2010 @ 11:59 am

  5. Great post. Thanks!

    I find it very interesting that Hyrum wondered whether his affliction was the result of him having sinned (in a pre-mortal state). I love that the answer he got was simply one of comfort. To me, that rings true.

    (Where was Hyrum born, by the way? And what is his mother’s name?)

    Comment by Hunter — March 15, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

  6. What an interesting story. Like Ardis said, we all have to come to terms with our differences, and some of us more than others. (I don’t mean you Ardis! Or myself, either, for that matter. I am actually thinking about medication-dependent children who hit their teenage years and resist taking medications because they don’t want to be different.)

    Thank you for sharing Hyrum’s experience, Clark. It is an inspiration.

    Comment by Researcher — March 15, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

  7. Hyrum was born in Farmington, Utah. His mother, Tabitha Hendricks (maiden name) was the first of Thomas E.’s several wives.

    Comment by Clark — March 15, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  8. I enjoyed this story. It should be shared with our youth today who will do anything to be accepted, not realizing that each one is unique.

    Comment by Maurine — March 15, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

  9. A sweet story of a truly humble man. Thank you for sharing his story.

    Comment by ellen — March 15, 2010 @ 7:38 pm

  10. Great story. I’ve heard many similar, and I love the fact that God will not only acknowledge our struggles, but occasionally even explain their meaning.

    Comment by Martin — March 16, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

  11. Wow! Thank you for this story! Hyrum is my great, great grandfather and I can’t find much on him! Are you related at all?

    Comment by Melissa — September 11, 2013 @ 7:13 pm

  12. Melissa, I’ll send you a private email.

    Comment by The Other Clark — September 12, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

  13. Great story! I’m also a Thomas E. descendant, but not via Hyrum.

    Comment by lindberg — September 12, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

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