After two difficult years at Winter Quarters, Nebraska, Mary Fielding Smith was anxious to follow the Saints west with her family. Besides the children of her martyred husband, Hyrum, Mary’s household included several others for whom she felt responsible. By the spring of 1848 Mary had managed to acquired seven dilapidated wagons, pulled by mismatched teams of calves and young steers yoked together with a few oxen. Urged on by her faith and determination, the caravan hurried to catch up with the other emigrants, three days away at Elk Horn.
At Elk Horn the man in charge said …
“You will be a burden on the company the whole way, and I will have to carry you along or leave you!”
Not knowing Mary’s faith, the man was surprised and resentful at her answer …
“I will beat you to the valley and will ask no help from you either.”
Midway between the Platte and Sweetwater rivers, one of the Smiths’ plodding oxen lay down in the yoke as though it had been poisoned.
“I told you that you would have to be helped and that you would be a burden.”
But Mary calmly asked her brother and a neighbor to administer to the ox.
Within a few moments, the animal was up and pulling his load. Two other times the Smiths’ animals were administered to and healed.
It was a difficult journey under the hot blistering sun …
But eventually the company struggled to the top of east mountain.
“Look mother, there it is!”
That night the company camped at the base of Little Mountain.
When the order was given to roll in the morning, the Smiths met with still another disappointment—most of their teams had strayed away. The supervisor, anxious that Mary’s promise not come true, ordered the company to leave anyway.
Although it was a beautiful sunny September day, a dark thundercloud formed over the final hill the company was ascending before entering the valley.
Suddenly, a violent storm broke! The teams became unmanageable and the supervisor ordered them to be unhitched. Frightened, the untethered animals escaped.
Meanwhile, the Smiths’ strays were rounded up and hitched to their wagons and the storm had quieted down. When Mary’s brother Joseph asked if they should wait for the company to reassemble, she replied with well-earned independence:
“They have not waited for us, and I see no necessity for us to wait for them.”
True to her promise, Mary Fielding Smith reached the valley ahead of the company and without any help from them. She had placed her faith in the Lord, and had overcome every obstacle.
Mary’s 10-year-old son, Joseph Fielding, who drove a team to the valley as well as any man, later became the sixth president of the Church.