Elizabeth W. Kane, wife of Colonel Thomas L. Kane, was a woman not unacquainted with hardship. Dealings with the Mormons and political negotiations between Governor Brigham Young and President James Buchanan in the face of tense conflict with the federal army (1857-58) brought Col. Kane both favor from the Latter-day Saints and scorn from his political constituents. Later service in the Civil War would prove nearly as physically and emotionally trying. But Thomas Kane’s frequent battles with ill health would prove perhaps the heaviest burden for his devoted wife.
Years before these military conflicts, Elizabeth recorded in her personal diary the daily health struggles that, at one instance, rendered Thomas “just on the threshold of Life.”1 1854 proved a particularly trying year, perhaps evidenced by Elizabeth’s lack of daily journal keeping from July through October.
One singular entry was made during these four months, starkly summarizing the trying state of affairs for Elizabeth. A purposed collection of Biblical verses, this entry illustrates Elizabeth’s absolute heartbreak and devotion to her faith. Elizabeth pours out her heart, weaving deliberate lines with the passion of a psalmist, creating in their formality an intimate conversation; a lamenting prose at once begging to know why her Lord is “disquieted with [her],” while also seeking for courage and strength. This letter shines not only as a touching example of the honest tension between hope and fear that is perhaps only natural when faced with seemingly insurmountable hardships, but also her trust in a personal God and devotion to the Bible to aid her in times of distress.
July – August – September – October
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”
“In Thee O Lord have I put my trust. Let me never be confounded! “Why art thou cast down O my soul, and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God for I shall yet praise him who is the health of my countenance and my God.” “As thy day is, so shall thy strength be.” “Whom He loveth, He chasteneth.” “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thy heart wait, I say on the Lord.”
“The Lord help thee in the day of trouble, the name of the God ofJacob defend thee! Sent thee help from the sanctuary, and comfort thee out of Zion.” “I was brought low and He helped me.” “My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is my strength, and my portion forever.” Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
“Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not for I am with thee; be not dismayed: for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee: yea I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee – “Fear not. I will help thee!”
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
“As the hills are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from henceforth even forevermore.”
“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee; yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.”
“The living, the living he shall praise thee, as I do this day.” “I was brought low, and he helped me.”!2
“Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord. He is our help and our shield!”
“I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to God my God while I have my being.”
“Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.”
“What time I am afraid I will trust in thee.”
Verses Referenced (KJV):
JOB 13:5, PSALM 31:1, PSALM 42:11, DEUT 33:25, HEB 12:6, PSALM 27:14, PSALM 20:1-2, PSALM 116:6, PSALM 73:26, HAB 3:17, ISA 41: 9-10, 13, 1 PET 5:6, PSALM 125:2, PSALM 57:1, ISA 38:19, PSALM 116:6, PSALM 115:11, PSALM 104:33, PSALM 63:7, PSALM 56:3.
- Elizabeth W. Kane Journal, Sunday, July 16, 1854, in Thomas L. Kane and Elizabeth W. Kane Collection, BYU, Box 26, Folder 9. [↩]
- Perhaps it is noteworthy that Elizabeth quoted Psalm 116:6 twice: “I was brought low, and he helped me,” the second time ending with an exclamation mark not present in the Biblical text. [↩]