“Missouri People Were Not All Mobbers in Those Terrible Days”
The date of this little story, if memory serves me right, was in the month of July, 1846. Our household consisted of the widowed sister of my father, and her daughter, also another orphan niece, who were in the care of my father at the time of his death, my mother and her six children.
In the spring of 1846 we moved from the farm where my father died into another neighborhood a little nearer Richmond, Missouri. It was a small farm of fifteen or twenty acres in the midst of a dense forest, the log cabin of two rooms stood in the north end of the field, and I remember there was a hedge of wild roses, just outside the fence, very beautiful and fragrant, making more cheerful and pleasant our humble home.
In the pleasant spring and summer days we wandered through the forest, seeking wild flowers, wild berries and nuts, or waded in the little stream near by for pebbles, taking no thought for the morrow, happy and free as the birds that sang to us from the tops of the tall forest trees.
The day had been unusually warm and oppressive, and I remember hearing my aunt say, “Surely there is a storm brewing,” and as the sun went down there was the low rumbling of distant thunder, and a sighing and trembling among the leaves, that had been so silent and still all day. I was awakened from my slumber by the roaring of the wind and heavy peals of thunder, and flashes of vivid lightning that put to shame the dim light of a tallow candle which was standing on the table with a chair over it to keep the rain, which was streaming through the roof, from putting it out.
None of the older members had gone to bed, and they were now sitting in a group anxiously talking together, and trying to keep calm one of my cousins, who was always very much terrified in a storm.
I watched and listened and was getting very much frightened myself, and was wondering if we were all going to be killed, when someone said, “Had we not better get the children up and dress them, for the house cannot stand much longer?”
Then my mother answering said, “No, let the children sleep if they can, the house will not be destroyed, the last words of my dying husband were, ‘I must go, but God will take care of you and the children. he has promised and will not fail.’” Her words were spoken in a spirit and with a power that restored confidence, and soon the winds ceased, the thunder died away in the forest, and peace and repose came to the anxious watchers.
I was awakened in the morning by my brother, Samuel, calling us to come and see what the storm had done. It came from the south-west and had swept a pathway through the forest, so that the home of Major Sevier that stood by the Richmond road half a mile away, was in plain sight, and we gazed in astonishment and wonder. The great oaks, elms, and other kinds of forest trees were uprooted and laid side by side, making a bridge on which we could step from tree to tree for half a mile.
Our house was directly in the pathway of the storm, but was unharmed. While trees on the other side of the house were uprooted and torn down, our hedge of roses was untouched and looked beautiful in the sunshine, sparkling with raindrops; some may say it was only chance, but the inmates of that little cabin felt to acknowledge the overruling hand of Providence, and to give praise and thanks unto Him. Often since in looking back upon that night of terror I have thought of that “Still small voice” that said unto the winds and the waves, thus far shalt thou go and no farther, and felt that it was there to prote4ct the widows and the orphans and make good the promises of God to a dying man.
Another incident I will relate that happened in the same year and at the same place; although simple, it left an impression upon my mind that has always remained with me.
I do not remember ever hearing a murmur of complaint fall from the lips of my mother, but often a shadow rested upon her face, which later I learned to interpret as the shadow of care and anxiety, the shadow of the weight of responsibility that rested upon her after the death of my father, of the helpless family looking to her for bread and clothing, and among strangers in a strange land.
Christmas was drawing nigh and a little corn meal was our only supply. I listened to the conversation of the older ones, and noticed the shadow there, shadows that will come sometimes notwithstanding an abiding faith and trust in God.
In the afternoon of the day before Christmas on looking up the road we saw two negroes coming carrying a large clothes basket. They came up to the door smiling and bowing, and one of them said to my mother, “Miss Mary, Mars Tom (Dr. Thomas Allen) sent you this for your Christmas dinner.”
The basket was emptied and a message of thanks returned to the generous hearted donor. I do not now remember all it contained, but I know there was something for the little stockings next morning, and a good Christmas dinner, and several more good dinners from the contents of that same basket. From that time on the way was opened up before us, so that we did not suffer any more for the comforts of life. Friends were raised up on every hand, sewing was given us from Dr. Allen’s family and others, and we never had to eat the bread of charity. Missouri people were not all mobbers in those terrible days when the Saints were so persecuted and driven, and it gave me the greatest joy to do temple work for some of the noble, kind-hearted ones who were to us friends in need, true friends in deed.
I also feel to testify to the young people of Zion that a promise made to my parents by the servants of God, when they were baptized in Canada, that they and their children should never want for bread has been verily fulfilled.
May the germs of an undying faith be planted deep in the hearts of the sons and daughters of Zion, and yield a bounteous harvest, is the prayer of your sister,
Sarah E. Russell