There are many incredible stories of pioneer mothers who crossed the plains. Many women carried young children on their hip while pulling handcarts, many women lost husbands and had to brave the journey alone. All were courageous and all were heroes in the lives of their little ones.
One incredible mother story from the plains is the story of Mary Fielding Smith. Mary was the wife of Hyrum Smith, Joesph's big brother, at the time that Hyrum and Joseph were martyred. Mary was left to care for her family which included her own children as well as Hyrum's children from his first marriage.
As Latter-Day Saints began crossing the plains to settle in the Salt Lake Valley, Mary knew this was where she needed to take her family. Having no money, no oxen, no provisions and no husband, she still somehow managed to secure her family a place in a wagon train set to cross to the west. Her son, Joseph F. Smith (later to become the 6th president of the LDS church) was only nine when her family left Winter Quarters to start the long journey to Zion.
Mary procured a wagon and was assigned to a company where the company captain immediately labeled her a burden on the group. He told her she was foolish to think she and her family could make this journey and told her she would weigh down the company the entire trip.
Mary, ever faithful and fairly stubborn as well, blatantly told the captain that not only would she not require his help throughout the crossing, but she would also beat him to the valley. She boldly gathered her supplies and helped her little ones prepare for the trek.
Mary tenderly cared for her children and was a constant example of faith and strength to her family and many others throughout the journey.
Not far from the Salt Lake Valley, the Smith family cows wandered off. Mary sent her step son, John, to find the cows. She and her family waited while he searched and she lead them in fervent prayer for his success in the search. The company captain smugly lead the remainder of the wagon train past the Smith family, again reminding Mary of the burden he had told her she would be.
Soon after they passed the Smiths, the wagon company was caught in a sudden rainstorm which spooked the animals scattering the terrified cows across the mountain top. The company was forced to stop to gather the lost animals.
While the group was searching for their cows, John returned with the Smith family cows and Mary lead her family right past the rest of the company and entered the valley before the humbled captain.
Mary's strength and unshakable faith throughout her trials were an inspiration to her family during their journey. Our moms do much the same for us today. We may not often be required to search for lost cows, but the prayers and testimony and devotion of our mothers build and support us and helps us become the people our mothers know we can be.
Happy mother day to all the moms out there. We are eternally grateful for you and our gift in our lives.
(More about Mary Fielding Smith here)