Susan Easton Black Livingston History
Talk Given by Susan Easton Black
Livingston Reunion, Midway, Utah
June 17, 2006
It's nice to be here. We flew home from Edinburgh on Thursday. We had a chance to climb Hadrian's wall which was actually the wall built by the Romans because Rome was able to conquer the English and had several English communities, but they were never able to conquer the Scots. So I think that is pretty amazing that they conquered most of the known world at that time. However I worried about coming here because everyone in Scotland basically had red hair, a reddish complexion, very very large and they are still known as fighters over there. So I had a little fear and trepidation in coming your way.
I wanted to say a few things about the church going over to England. There is no question that England itself had brought many people to America that had great influence on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints such as John Lathrop. You get such people descended from him as the Prophet Joseph Smith, Wilford Woodruff, anyway the list kind of goes on and on. But I thought I would focus, just having come back from England, how the church got there and then kind of put your family into what is going on and the big question is "are you really slaves?" hmm?
Let's turn first to the Prophet Joseph Smith. In 1837 in the midst of what was called the Kirkland Safety Society Anti–banking Disaster, it was a time when the nation had a run on the banks and at that time banks in the United States fell all over and it was one of our big economic crashes, a bigger crash than even the 1929 Stock Market. As banks were crashing right and left, the little bank there right on the Kirkland Temple Square known as the Kirkland Safety Society Anti Banking Company folded. And as it did so, each investor received back 12.5 cents on every dollar they had placed in the bank. Now you realize that money among friends, money among family can even be tough But money with the prophet's name right on the bills caused a great upset throughout the Kirkland area. So much so that people began to say "Joseph Smith a fallen prophet". This idea a "fallen prophet" went from man to man until at one point Joseph saw Wilford Woodruff walking on the streets of Kirkland and he said "Wilford are you a friend or foe? It is so hard to tell these days". And Wilford said "I am a friend of a prophet of God." at which point Joseph Smith took out a piece of paper, wrote on it and he said "Wilford, friend of a prophet of God." Now in this kind of chaos that was going on Joseph will turn to Heber C. Kimball and say, "Heber I want to call you on a mission to the British Isles." Now this will be our very first missionary effort. He will take with him Orson Hyde, he will take several others including Willard Richards. And off they will now head to the British Isles. When they arrive there, one of the first towns they are going to is Preston. They arrive in the middle of a political campaign and one of the candidates had a banner that stretched across the street there in Preston that said "Truth Will Prevail." Now for Heber he viewed this as a sign and our very first person baptized into the church will be in Preston, England and his name is George Watts.
Well, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde came home from that mission after a year and by this point the church was in the state of Missouri. Now notice we are in the more western, southern part and it is a difficult time. As they arrive home, the extermination order is soon in full bloom—great, great difficulties. The prophet Joseph has been placed in Independence Jail, he has been in Richmond Jail and now he is in Liberty Jail. Coming to see him in Liberty Jail will be Brigham Young. Brigham Young can actually trace his heritage to Scotland also. Brigham Young stood 5'10", he had red hair and freckles and the temperament that went with that kind of look.
He now went to see the Prophet Joseph in Liberty Jail. He asked Joseph, "Where do you want me to take the saints?" Joseph will say somewhere between the Far West temple site and the Kirkland temple. For Brigham Young, he will choose Illinois. There are many academic reasons as to why he will choose Illinois, but for Brigham Young he had only spent 11 and a half days in the schooling situation. And so for Brigham, he had heard the people in Illinois didn't like the Missourians and they called them the pukes. And as far as Brigham was concerned, with Joseph in jail, they had totally lived up to their name.
Now Brigham will succeed in getting out almost 6,000 people, suffering under the extermination order going on what we call our Trail of Tears that was 200 miles that extended from Far West, Missouri all the way to Quincy, Illinois.
Now the date that becomes very important for this British mission as it is about to be reopened is March 15 of 1839. The Prophet Joseph was still in Liberty Jail and Brigham Young held a meeting in Quincy. At the meeting he announced that Joseph Smith had prophesied that the Quorum of the Twelve would leave for a mission to England. In other words, notice Heber and his companion, Orson Hyde, were our first missionaries there but they didn't open up Scotland. In other words they are around Preston, they are around the Manchester area, they are coming in at Liverpool, but they are not going farther north. So now we've got a new group. But the problem is that Joseph had prophesied on April 26 of 1839 this group would leave from the Far West temple site to begin serving their mission in England. The problem was that the saints were now 200 miles from that site in Quincy, Illinois. And the question to Brigham Young on that March day was who's going back. Brigham stood up and said that he was going back to fulfill prophesy. Now notice the extermination order is still in effect so this is very, very dangerous for him. Father Smith, patriarch to the church, stood up and said, "Brigham, don't go back." He said, "If you go back they have Joseph, Sydney and Hyrum there in Liberty Jail, they want you." In other words, don't go back. They are going to pick you out of a crowd, the red hair and all that. Brigham thanked father Smith for the advice but announced, "Joseph your son is the prophet. He prophesied that I would go to a mission from England, but I need to dedicate myself at that temple site." So Brigham said, "I am going back." Several stood and said Brigham if you are going back, I'm going back. Parley P. Pratt will even break out of jail to go back and be there.
Well, as Brigham and others are announcing they are going back so that they can serve this amazing British mission, suddenly there is a man in the crowd who's name is John Taylor. John Taylor had been ordained to be an apostle when Joseph had gone up to the Toronto area, but Brigham doesn't know him. How does John Taylor stand and say, "Take me with you, I'm an apostle too"? He doesn't know how to do that. So suddenly he stands up and says you are going to need lifeguards. Now notice in Scotland they call them lifeguards, instead of bodyguards. So he said you will need a lifeguard. Brigham looked at him and said I'll take you. Suddenly there was a big man in the group. His name was George A. Smith. George Albert Smith is named for him. He is actually a very, very large man. He had been a lifeguard to Sydney Rigdon since age 14. You would have wanted him on any football team or what is very popular in Scotland right now is soccer. But, nevertheless, he now stood up and said "I'll get him home. If you are going to take him as your lifeguard, I better go along to be his."
Now, with that, here comes members of the Quorum of the Twelve at a very dangerous time. They are going to go on the main road, the Trail of Tears, that leads back to this Far West, Missouri site. They know that apostates will be lining the road. They also know a militia will be lining the road. They now plead to the Lord to blind the eyes of those along the road so that they will not know who passes by them. Now that prayer was answered. Amazing stories of this great Quorum of the Twelve heading towards Far West. People who had lined the streets, such as an Isaac Rustin, an apostate, goes directly up to Brigham and Brigham says hello to him. He says, "Isaac, I haven't seen you in a long time." He said, "I heard you left the church." Isaac says yes. Brigham says, "What are you doing here?" and Isaac said, "I am looking for the quorum of the twelve." And Wilford says, "What is he doing here?" Wilford said, "Where is Thomas B. Marsh?" Thomas had written him a letter telling him to come to the Far West temple site and once he got there he would be ordained to the Twelve. Well, okay, Brigham says Thomas has fallen. Wilford says I made a mistake and Brigham said, so you have.
Well, they stayed there. They dedicated themselves to the Lord. There were vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve and suddenly Brigham Young turned to his best friend Heber C. Kimball and said, "Shall I do what the spirit constrains me to do?" Heber said "If you don't ordain John Taylor to be a member of this Quorum of the Twelve, I will." Suddenly John became very emotional, he said, "I've never been a lifeguard in my life." George A. said, "I know that, I could just tell it from the first." And he then told Brigham Young that he had been ordained by the Prophet Joseph to be an apostle and suddenly John was in. Brigham then turns to Heber C. Kimball and says, "Shall I further do what the spirit of the Lord tells me to do?" At which point Heber said, "If you don't put Wilford Woodruff in to take the place of the fallen Thomas B. Marsh, I will." Wilford is very emotional. He said, "I would never have left the mission field, let me read you the letter I got from Thomas." And suddenly Wilford is in. Finally everyone is looking at George A. and Brigham says, "Well we do still have vacancies, what do you think about George A.?" And Heber goes, "Why not?" Now, if there has ever been a right man in the right place, it was George A. Smith at that time.
This group will now be the contingency that forms the second wave over to the British Isles. As they went along the way their impact was literally revolutionary and yet you would say, what did they suffer from? All of them went up into Nauvoo as Joseph had escaped while they are there at the Far West temple site and is founding a town called Nauvoo. Many of them will contract malaria and you'd have wonderful stories of Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball with handkerchiefs doing the Hosanna shout. Hosanna means God save us now. Their wives with handkerchiefs waving back and off they go. In the case of Wilford Woodruff, he made it as far as the old post office there in the small town of Nauvoo and as he was there at the post office, Joseph came to him and said, "Wilford I thought you were on your mission to the British Isles?" At which point Wilford said, "I thought I was too, but right now I feel like I am ready for the dissecting room. Anybody can serve a mission." Joseph said, "Pick up your bed and walk." And he said, "I can not." At which point George A. Smith overheard this. He picked up Wilford Woodruff, threw him in the back of the wagon, said, "Wave to your Prophet, you are off."
Now, you get the type of group. They are heading out. Where they well to do? Are they not? John Taylor was first to arrive in the New York harbor to work his way to the British Isles. Soon after he arrived here, here comes the man that had baptized him, Parley P. Pratt. Parley will now say to John that he doesn't want to work on the ships heading over to the British Isles. At which point he then says to John, "Do you have any money?" John said, "I'm a rich man." And Parley said, "Can you give me some?" And John says, "Sure" and hands him two pennies. Parley goes, "Hey, thanks a lot!" And John said, "No problem Parley, now you are richer than I am."
So, what you get, these missionaries that are getting out, they are getting out with what you would say without purse or script. They are sick. They are working on ships and they arrive in Liverpool. Now as they arrive in Liverpool, their conclusion is let's spread out and find the righteous. Now that first wave of spreading out will be Preston, Manchester area. It will be Herefordshire England, or what they call there Herefordshire.
Now in this area, legendary the success of the Twelve. For Wilford Woodruff, he is your big baptizer. Thirty Six days after he had arrived on English shores he had not only baptized 600 people prepared for the gospel in a group called the United Brethren, but two spies sent from the Church of England and a Constable that came to arrest him.
So you say, how are the Twelve doing? Phenomenal. Before Wilford Woodruff leaves, in one year he has baptized over 2000, Brigham Young – 1000, John Taylor – 1500. He was with William Black which is our claim to fame. They opened up Ireland and suddenly the word begins to spread. It is heading to the Isle of Man and soon to cross Hadrian's Wall and head to Scotland. In the mean time, the Quorum of the Twelve now head home.
As they head home, many will now be called but the question is how would we bring the masses that want to come. By this point we are keeping people in the British Isles kind of informed on what's going on and we have a newspaper. The Millennial Star and it is being published there, 42 Islington Street there in Liverpool. Suddenly the Millennial Star is keeping informed all of these people. But what happens in any kind of country where the church goes in, the first to join seem to always be the poor. Adding to it there is an amazing famine in Ireland and the question is how to bring them. And there is a great struggle. How do we do this? And the conclusion was, let us form something called the Perpetual Emigration Fund. Now this Perpetual Emigration Fund will literally fill up Nauvoo, so much so by the death of Joseph Smith a fourth of Nauvoo are English born, meaning that they come from Liverpool, they've joined the church somewhere else, most of them baptized by someone in the Twelve, they've gone to Liverpool, they've gone on a boat down to New Orleans or a ship, from New Orleans they've come up on a steamer and ended up in Nauvoo. But the problem was how to bring the rest. Now you realize the rest are now multitudes. There is much, much talk about how to do it. Because this Perpetual Emigration Fund was not only, you paid for their passage via the boat (in other words the big ship), you get them up river, but then you also outfit them which included, they need oxen, they need wagons, they need food, clothing and you get them all the way west to the Salt Lake Valley.
Now, it will be in 1855 that Brigham Young comes up with the idea—handcarts. But handcarts isn't implemented until 1856 and the reason it is implemented was Brigham says we need a cheaper way to bring the poor.
Okay, now we come to your family. If you were to say, where was the church when your family is thinking about emigrating or moving on. The headquarters of the church always in the 1850's is Liverpool. In Liverpool we have LDS agents that will sign people up, will determine when they go, there is almost like a clearing house. And so Liverpool is the place. Liverpool is where the Book of Mormon is published. Liverpool is where you get this Millennial Star, the hymn book, the Doctrine and Covenants. Liverpool is like your church headquarters. The question is, who gets to go. And the answer is, not everybody. So you begin to look at the British Isles and there were so many poor that had joined the church, not everyone could come. And the question was who gets to come.
Now, decisions were made and for some who still lived there they don't think all the decisions that were made were right. Some of the people that got to come were those that had talents needed in the valley. So for example, we had coal mines, we had Sunnyside and we had other coal mines. So coal miners were looked for, and your family were coal miners. Now the scariest thing on my trip to the British Isles was spending an hour down in a coal mine. This one was in Wales and they have active coal mines and some as museums and you know museums, you typically think you are going to ooh and aah over pictures and all this beautiful art. But, this museum you put on a hard hat and go 300 feet under ground and then you think someone my size would never need a hard hat because you are going through those tunnels but I'm stooped over the whole time and then they are pointing out veins of coal and then they are showing the conveyor belts and showing the little carts going up and they're talking about how people literally lived down in those mines and that if you had to go to the bathroom you dug a hole and you covered it up. Food was brought down for you. Horses lived down there, children were down there, women were down there, dogs were down there in horrible, horrible conditions. So what we needed in Utah was coal miners because we are actually starting our coal mines. So there were some that moved to the front who were way in the back of the list of who could emigrate. So, for example, Brigham Young loved plays. He starred in Pizarro in Nauvoo. So if you had theatrical talents, if you were a singer, typically from Wales you actually had a free trip at his own (Brigham's) expense. If you played an instrument, he was very interested that music come. If you were a cotton spinner and you were actually an amazing weaver, suddenly on the list of who could go next these people began to move up.
So in your case, you begin to look and say who's going. You've got Archibald and you notice he's got a wife that everyone calls Granny. Suddenly you go, where did James work—coal mines. You know his name is way down there and he probably can't afford to give much to go, but suddenly we are going to start dividing his family up because guess what? We are trying to set up our economy in what is called Deseret. And so you can look and say oh he had a job that was really difficult but he had a job and a skill that was needed. Pretty soon you begin to look and suddenly you have people with really good skills working in quarries. You've got James and he was teaching his son. You say, I know why they came whereas someone down the line didn't have the chance because guess what, we had farmers already. Everyone knew how to farm. But we didn't have the skills that were coming from industrial England as well as Scotland.
Notice as they came, most people that are coming in the 1850s are coming via New York. But notice they always come via Liverpool. Decisions were made all along the trail. So Liverpool becomes a time of decisions and I am going to divert a moment with my family so you can get the idea. In Liverpool I had an ancestor who was a coal miner. He gets to come. He arrives in Liverpool. He is coming with his brother William, his name is Daniel. They stayed for a time. Everyone in Liverpool stayed for a time. They actually had large houses where LDS would stay. One was call the Sailors' Home. Which meant that you stayed with sailors, you stayed with those that were heading out and going. Daniel actually stayed, as did his brother, William, but when it came time to go, he and his brother got on the ship as did several who had been in the coal mines. The difference in their situation was that William had a sweetheart, girlfriend, that literally (she gets bigger as we tell the story) pulled him off the ship. My ancestor, Daniel (not very big), is trying to pull him back and she pulls him off and their family then were raised in England and Daniel headed out. Now, once they head out, notice they are coming up the Mississippi. Many will transfer over to the Missouri River. In the case of your family you end up in Atchison, Kansas. Now, let us suppose you say to yourself, you know we'll never make it to Scotland at least not this year. Go live in Atchison Kansas. What caused people along the route to stop, literally sometime for years on end and the answer was that although LDS agents had promised that once they reached a place called Council Bluffs they would be outfitted with wagon, and with oxen, but it didn't always happen. And so to make money they stopped all along the trail. So all along the trail you get decisions being made by these little families. In your case, happy news. Your person James made it all the way to Salt Lake. Not all of us can say that. Some family members stayed in New Orleans. Every time there is a port, they jump off. Some stayed in St. Joseph. Some stay up in Iowa. Some stay around Ft. Laramie. But always when you call a man or a woman a pioneer he has to go from where he was called, all the way to the Salt Lake Valley.
Now, once they are in the Salt Lake Valley every one of the settlers that arrive were given an opportunity to serve what were called settling missions. Now you realize many of us have served proselyting missions where you say to the individual he's called by a prophet to share the gospel in some foreign land or even to his next door neighbor. But a settling mission is a whole bunch different. You are a pioneer once you reach Salt Lake City. Most of those pioneers that reached Salt Lake City were rebaptized. They were rebaptized in the City Creek. They were then asked, "Have you received your endowment?" If they had not received their endowment, where did they receive their endowment? The Endowment House. So that is pretty typical, welcome into town, you're rebaptized, get your endowment and now you are about to hear from a Prophet of God where he wants you to serve as settling mission. Where was your family called to be settlers? In the Sanpete area. Many families will experience many, many settling missions. The best example goes to Nephi, Utah. There was a young girl living in Nephi, Utah. Her name was Elizabeth Claridge. She loved Nephi. We were just in Nephi last night and I have no such feelings about Nephi, Utah. But she loved it. What Brigham Young would do is he would come to these far flung areas so as you begin to see your family spread out from Sanpete, he would come and always he would meet in the tabernacle downtown. When word came that Brigham Young was coming to Nephi, Utah, Elizabeth and her friends got so excited they decided to make beautiful white dresses and they would put flower petals along the way as Brigham Young and his entourage came through. Brigham was so impressed by these beautiful girls he asked them to sit up front in the Tabernacle. Brigham always started his speeches with the following comments. He would look out over the group and say the following men are now called on a proselyting missions. Now notice this is without ever bringing them in to talk to them. It would be a wonderful time to tie a shoe if you didn't plan to go somewhere. But he would just kind of point, "You're going to France and you're going to Sweden and you're back in England, you're off to Scotland." He would do that and then the people would say, "Okay that's it." The next part would be now the following families are now called on settling missions and it will be the following place. So in this particular case in Nephi, Elizabeth Claridge begins to hear names called up and she hears the name of her father and he is called to a place called The Muddy. Now although Nephi may not be my favorite town or yours, you realize The Muddy doesn't quite have a good ring. Elizabeth began to cry. Her friend next to her said, "Stop crying." And she says, "I can't help it. My father's name was called off and we are to go to The Muddy." At which point her friend said, "I'm not crying and my father's name was called off and I wouldn't ruin a dress over this." Elizabeth was just incredulous. She now turns to her friend and says, "The difference between your father and mine is I know your father won't go and mine will."
So what you now find in your family is you have a real heritage of faithfulness. Do you see that? For all of you that aren't contributing to the Perpetual Education Fund. You know not everyone that came to the United States paid back their bills. So it might be interesting to look and see if your family did. In 1880 John Taylor will say it's a Jubilee Year and we will forgive all the indebtedness. But just in case you want to make sure everyone in your family who came over kind of piecemeal til they could all be together. To make sure that everyone who came at church expense, their was paid. Perhaps you might wish to be a contributor now to this Perpetual Education Fund. And then if you were to look and say well what about your family, were they faithful. You would have the heritage of building on Temples. Not every family has that. What is so amazing about this building on Temples, although your family is called to Sanpete, you can actually claim some that worked on the Salt Lake Temple as well as the Manti Temple and the list goes on and on. So if you were to say, why did I want to come talk to you? Well the answer is guess what, you have an amazing family of faithfulness, you have an amazing heritage. Now I've always thought in the next life it might be a piece of cake to speak to Jesus Christ but it may not be so great speaking to my ancestors if I've messed up, especially that old coal miner back there. You know those who were bent over most of their life and how hard they had to work only to find well guess what we are going to throw you back inside those coal mines again to help us out and to build up Zion.
Let me close by saying a couple of things about Scotland. Scotland is an amazing place to have your heritage. You have a heritage of red hair, and some of you look like it has kind of passed on. You have the heritage of being big, which is a nice trait to have for those of us who are always the last to know when it rains. That is a great heritage. You also have a heritage over there of being pretty stubborn and not willing to be conquered. You have some within that heritage when you keep going back when they said we are going to extend this Livingston line. Your heritage goes back to people way back when the word was, "We want freedom." We value freedom. And the word you can see it whether you are looking at Peter Pan lived there. You've got Robert Burns who lived there. You've got John Knox who lived there. You've got [David] Hume (not a pretty impressive man, that's for sure) but freedom was everywhere and the right to choose. You've got a heritage over there in Scotland where 18,000 people were killed by their own government (they were called a covenant people) because they believed they had a right to worship God how they wanted. And they said the King of England or Queen of England does not have any religion that I belong to. So they had literally broken off from the crown. They were hard to control. So, for all of you women married to someone who can trace their heritage to Scotland, best of luck! Hope you have a happy marriage. Actually I am married to one who traces his lineage to Scotland and if we like each other 9 days out of 10 actually we've done pretty good. Better than most.
In conclusion what are the blessing that have come your way—huge blessings. Do you realize that sacrifice has brought forth blessings to you? The blessings are such things as you have a right to be born under the covenant and that is huge. You have a right that your father could give you a name and a blessing. Priesthood lines have continued. Now in your family, not just one, two, three, four, but you are probably 7th generation or so now that can look and say, you know, faithfulness. You also have temples and temple marriage in your family. That is actually wonderful and it means that you are extending lines back and forward. What is the big message? Don't be the weak link. You have James to face, let alone Granny and Archibald and everybody else. And they are going to be wanting to know what did you do with the sacrifice that they made so long ago to bring the gospel your way.
I feel it an honor to have addressed you. I want to close with my testimony. The Lord is mindful of us and obviously very, very mindful of your family. Anyway, I'm very touched by that and I think that maybe you'd look and you'd say a woman in your family joined the church first and then she had enough power that it was an influence on all the others. Anyway just that alone is pretty impressive. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know our Father in Heaven lives . I know that Joseph Smith was a great prophet and that the first country that he opened up was the British Isles beyond the United States and whether it was the Canada part or the British Isles or we say the sun never sets on English shores and that is pretty much how it is. And you say why was that so important? Well the tribe of Ephraim, that is where it is (I'm kidding). And with this tribe there are many blessings that will come. This tribe has also responsibilities. The tribe of Ephraim is to gather and you begin to see that whole process starting with some of your first ancestors. You gather together to strengthen one another. That tribe is to be like a John the Baptist who goes through the earth saying, "Prepare ye prepare ye for someone that is greater than I." So you take the message that James and others heard and you spread it all around. And then that tribe also is to do this genealogical work to look after their kindred dead. I was thrilled to be here in your business meeting . I know that what Joseph started so long ago is true. I know that Gordon B. Hinckley is a Prophet of God and I am actually grateful to be married to someone who traces his roots also to Scotland.
I say this in Jesus' name, Amen.
© 2007 Livingston Family Association
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