Miracles Helped Pioneers Overcome Obstacles, Move Forward with Faith
Contributed By Sarah Harris, Church News staff writer
Many Mormon pioneers recorded miracles that blessed them with the means, sustenance, and protection they needed to press on as they strived to follow God throughout their lives.
Catfish and coins
Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, an 1863 pioneer, recounted an experience in which she and a group of Saints exiled from Jackson County found themselves on the banks of the Missouri River without enough money for everyone in the group to cross using the ferry.
“One or two families must be left behind, and the fear was that if left, they would be killed,” Lightner recorded in an autobiography.
She said a few men traveling with the group determined they would try to catch some fish, hoping the ferryman would accept the fish as payment. They put out their lines and pulled up some small fish and a 14-pound catfish.
“On opening it, what was their astonishment to find three bright silver half dollars, just the amount needed to pay for taking their team over the river,” Lightner recorded. “This was considered a miracle, and caused great rejoicing among us.”
A pile of bread
Mons and Elna Larson, a convert couple from Sweden who were 1859 pioneers, saw a miracle on their journey west at a time when their company’s provisions began to run out. Company members were rationed to one pint of flour per person a day, according to a life sketch of Mons Larson written by his grandson Elliot.
One evening during this time, the Larsons camped near a river. While Mons was out fishing that night, Elna saw a tree about a mile away from their campsite and felt inspired to go to it.
“To her great surprise, there she found a pile of dry bread,” Elliott wrote. “She gathered it all in her apron and was so overjoyed that she sat down and wept.”
Mons also caught several fish that evening, and the Larsons brought these extra provisions back to their campsite.
“So that night they had a full meal, the first for many days, thus preserving their lives until help reached them,” Elliott recorded.
Mons Larson, an 1859 pioneer, and his wife, Ina Larson, experienced a miracle while traveling west with the Mormon pioneers, as recorded in a life sketch written by their grandson Elliott G. Larson. Photo courtesy of FamilySearch.org.
His wife’s nightcap
Daniel and Mary Ann Allen, 1849 pioneers, experienced a miracle of protection while they were living with the Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. There, Daniel helped to build the Nauvoo Temple and was assigned to serve as a special missionary to Rock Island County, according to a history written by the Allens’ great-granddaughter Ila L. Bauer.
“During the height of the persecutions every man connected with the Church, and especially those who had dared to stand guard at the jail in Carthage where the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum had been incarcerated, were in danger of being killed by the ruthless mob,” Bauer wrote.
Daniel had been one of these guards and one evening felt particularly uneasy. He told Mary Ann he had a feeling the mob would be after him that night and felt he must find a way to outwit them.
“Tucking the children into bed with a good night kiss, his answer came,” Bauer explained.
He saw his wife’s frilly, white night cap on the dresser, tied it on and got into bed “with the baby in his arms and a prayer on his lips,” Bauer related.
Soon, there was a loud pounding at the door, and a group of men demanded to see Daniel. Mary Ann told them he wasn’t there, but that they could search the house if they’d like.
“After carefully going over the entire house and glancing quickly at the figure in the bed cuddling the sleeping child, they stormed out exclaiming, ‘There is no one there but an old woman in bed with her child!’” Bauer recorded.
Bauer wrote that after the men left, the Allens knelt in prayer and thanked God for their deliverance.
• This is the fourth in a series of articles observing 170 years since the arrival of the first company of Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.