Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Strengths of Two Sisters

Often I find myself in awe of the strengths of my ancestors. I am not just referring to physical strength but also spiritual. 

My third great grandmother on my father's side, Elizabeth Gabbitas Clements is certainly an inspiration to me. She joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Manchester, England and came to America alone. She crossed the plains as a single woman of about 24 years of age. 

She married a widower, John Moon Clements, and they eventually settled in Springville, Utah. Elizabeth's parents and some of her siblings also joined them in Springville, including a sister Emma Gabbitas Beardall and her husband and children.

Elizabeth often enjoyed the companionship of her sister Emma. In October of 1865 the two sisters decided they wanted to attend general conference in Salt Lake City. 

Here is what Elizabeth's daughter Sarah Clements Dalton remembered of the trip,

In the year 1865, mother and her sister, Emma Beardall had a great desire to attend the October General Conference in Salt Lake City. They had no way of going and there were no railroads at that time, and if there had been, they had no money. They decided to walk. Their husbands remained at home to take care of the children, and the sisters, with their babes, started for conference.

They walked as far as Lehi the first day and stayed the night with some friends. When morning came, mother was too tired to resume her journey, so her sister, Emma, went on and attended conference. Mother stayed in Lehi till her sister returned. They rested there until the next day and then they returned to their homes.

The New York Times reported later on 5 November 1865 that general conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was held 6 October through 9 October 1865. A heavy rain a few days before the conference prevented a larger attendance than expected for the conference.

Traveling today on the freeway from Springville to Lehi is a distance of about 23 miles and might take less than 30 minutes by car. The sisters made pretty good time walking this distance in one day, and if the New York Times report is correct, they would have trudged in mud. Emma walked an additional 58 miles between Lehi and Salt Lake City round trip.

Conference in October of 1865 was commenced under a bowery, but because of bad weather, moved to the tabernacle. This would not have been the historic building we know today but a predecessor. [The tabernacle on temple square today was first used for conference in 1867.]

I do not consider my ancestor Elizabeth any less because she did not continue on to Salt Lake City with her sister Emma. The fact is that Elizabeth was deaf and would have only been able to enjoy the spirit of the meetings and not the voices of the speakers.

These sisters certainly proved their strengths physically and spiritually on this occasion and probably many other times as well. 

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