The wagon lumbered along at a steady pace. Just two days before, the members of the Clawson family had left their comfortable home in Greenwood, New York. They were headed to Kirtland, Ohio, and then on to Missouri to be with the Saints who had gathered there. Twelve-year-old Ebenezer was driving the team of oxen at the front of the wagon, enjoying the lovely spring day. On such a day, it was more a privilege than a chore to be driving the wagon, his parents and six brothers and sisters walking alongside.
Ebenezer reflected on the events that led up to his family’s journey. His family had joined with the Latter-day Saints a year ago. Since then, they had experienced many troubles. Finally they had sold their home and land and bought supplies for the westward trek. It seemed as if all their problems were behind them now—they were going to Zion!
After traveling a considerable distance, the Clawson family arrived at the Genesee River.
“Eben, pull up here so that we can load the wagon onto the ferry,” Brother Moses Clawson directed his son.
“Yes, sir!” Ebenezer obediently eased the team toward the muddy bank of the river. The river was swollen with cold, brown water from the spring rains, and debris from recent flooding littered the whole area.
The oxen slogged through the mud steadily. All of a sudden, one of the oxen lost its footing and fearfully struggled to regain it. This startled the other ox, causing pandemonium. With the team confused and stumbling, the wagon started to slip. It turned sharply, throwing Ebenezer from the wagon. The oxen kept moving and bellowing, and with no one there to stop them, they pulled the heavy wagon over the boy’s head and body.
Sister Clawson handed the baby to fourteen-year-old Eunice and hurried to the side of her injured son.
“Whoa there! Whoa!” Brother Clawson rushed to gain control of the team and lead them to safety away from the river and away from Ebenezer. Accidents such as this were far too common, and they were almost always fatal.
Sister Clawson cleaned Ebenezer’s head wound and carefully bound it up. She offered a quick prayer, pleading for her son’s life. “Oh, Father, if thou wilt only spare my son …”
Soon Ebenezer regained consciousness. “Oh, my back!” he moaned.
“Quiet, my son. Your father is going to take you to find help.”
Brother Clawson carefully took Ebenezer in his arms and headed downriver. A half mile away, he found lodging for them in a hotel. “Please, sir, could you find us a doctor? My son is hurt very badly. He will surely die if nothing is done for him.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” the hotel clerk replied.
While the clerk searched for the doctor, news spread that a “Mormon” boy lay near death at the hotel. People crowded in, as curious to see Mormons as they were to see Ebenezer.
After a time, the clerk returned. His face was grim. “I cannot locate the doctor,” he said. “Some say that he has gone to get new supplies in the next town and that he won’t be back until sundown.”
Brother Clawson knew Ebenezer didn’t have that much time.
People crowded around, murmuring and offering suggestions. “I say someone should bleed him,” an old man in the room shouted. “He’ll die for sure,” a woman whispered loudly to her neighbor. “I’ve seen enough wagon accidents like this, to be certain.”
Suddenly four well-dressed men entered the room.
“Brother Clawson, I am Elder Rufus Fischer. This is my companion Elder Moon, and these are two of our associates.”
“We would like to administer to this boy and give him a blessing.”
“Certainly!” Brother Clawson let the elders take charge.
“Any of you who wishes may stay as we administer to this child,” said Elder Moon.
A few people left, but many curious onlookers stayed. Elder Fisher closed the door.
The missionaries anointed Ebenezer’s head with oil and laid their hands on his head. “Ebenezer Clawson, by the power of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood which we bear, we anoint your head with oil that has been consecrated and set apart for the healing of the sick in the household of faith …”
After the blessing was finished, Elder Fisher said, “Brother Clawson, your son should be ready to travel in a few hours.” Then the missionaries left as quickly as they had come.
Ebenezer slept soundly for several hours, then awoke, his strength having returned. “Father, let us go on,” he said.
Brother Clawson and Ebenezer went back upriver to where the family was waiting. They all crossed the river without further trouble and traveled six more miles. Ebenezer drove the team part of the way. His head healed without ever swelling, and the only visible reminder of his ordeal was a scar.
Ebenezer’s faith in Jesus Christ, and that of his family and the missionaries who administered to him, brought forth a miracle that day. The Clawson family had obeyed Heavenly Father by traveling to Zion to be with the Saints, and He blessed them for their faithfulness.