Sarah E. Tollerton (1868-1945) was born in Ohio. She married for the first time at age 38, to Cassius M. Buck, with whom she had one son, William; they lived in Minnesota. She was widowed — twice — in her 50s. Sarah then moved to Twin Brooks, South Dakota, and supported herself as a public school teacher. It was in Twin Brooks that she encountered the missionaries at nearly 70 years of age.
My Road to Happiness
In order to make it perfectly clear how far the Lord has taken me on my road to happiness, let me describe myself before He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “You’re wrong.”
In the first place I had been taught nothing of a religious nature. God was not mentioned in our home and Christ very seldom. I was taught to live the good life: that we must be good because it is right. How lacking in strength and resistance that doctrine is I have found to my cost. Without Christ by our side we can’t really live the good life.
At last, after living a selfish, self-centered life, I came to the end of my active career. Ill and without any outlook I felt it would be perfectly fair to the world to utterly destroy myself. I became obsessed with the idea. Death ends all! Why wait?
I was in just such an attitude of mind one Sunday morning when a friend came in silently and tuned the radio to “The Salt Lake Tabernacle Choir and Organ,” station KSL. I tried not to listen. Everything in me revolted against anything of a religious nature. But shall I never forget the voice and words of Richard L. Evans as they filled the room saying, “Some men who have felt they have had things to run away from have been so foolish as to remove themselves by their own hands from the presence of men. But even there they will find, according to the word of the Lord which faileth not, that God is in that place also, and that conscience goes with them, and that life and all of its problems and mistakes must be faced, even in that realm in which men find themselves beyond the grave.” How forcibly his words struck home! The days of convalescence which followed found me pondering thoughtfully over what he had said, and every Sunday found me eagerly looking forward to this program.
One day sometime later I was visiting with a friend who happened to be looking through her box of souvenirs that she had accumulated during her various travels. Among such she found a pamphlet with a picture of the Mormon Temple on its cover. “Why,” I exclaimed, “that’s Richard Evans’ Church.” She was happy to let me have it and from this I obtained the address of the Bureau of Information to which I wrote for informative material. I was careful to point out that I had no desire whatever of becoming a member, as the story of Joseph Smith was repulsive to me in the extreme, but I was interested in the messages which came over the air. My letter was given the attention of President Joseph J. Cannon, and since then under his guidance, I have studied the doctrines and history of the Church.
How many times I have rebelled and turned back! How furiously I have refused to accept the revelations of the Lord to Joseph Smith! At one point I went so far as to completely destroy all the literature President Cannon had sent me, but something stronger than I pulled me back and I reopened our correspondence.
At last I quit fighting against myself, and I believed – I asked for baptism. On July 17, 1939, I was baptized.
Humbly, I feel I shall never attain to great spiritual heights, but I am at last happy! I have a happiness that does not mean inaction or idleness or self. I can see a gleaming road stretching away into remote future. I am taking that road – but not alone.