Friday, February 3, 2012

At Grandma Olsen's Knee


Traveling is really so easy!

When I was a little girl I remember standing by Great Grandma Olsen's rocking chair looking at the calendar with all the Church pictures on it. Do you remember those? Some business in the community (usually a mortuary) would sponsor the calendar and the bishop would give every family one when they came to tithing settlement. It had pictures of the temples and a couple of pioneer pictures or maybe one or two of prophets past and current. I loved those calendars.

Standing by Grandma Olsen was the best. She told me about her mother, Nancy Jane Taylor Smith and how she crossed the plains at such a young age. (Nancy was only 14 when she married Jonathan Smith in Council Bluffs, Iowa July 11, 1847.) While looking at a picture of wagons driving near a cliff, Grandma told me about how they might have crossed that great divide. She said the sometimes they came to a place where they had to cross and there was no way down the cliff. So they took apart their wagons and lowered them with ropes down to the men waiting below. Those men had to reassemble the wagons there and the whole process would start again for the next one.

Is it any wonder that at the beginning of their journey out of Nauvoo it too 131 days to travel 300 miles? One time Nancy Jane was driving the wagon and Jonathan was going back and forth assisting others. They came to what was described as a great river and it was her turn to cross. She drove the team of oxen into the current and suddenly, for no apparent reason the team turned and they were all being washed downstream. Nancy knew this was dangerous and her instinct was to call on the Lord to save her. As she began to gain control Jonathan came and helped and they brought the wagon to safety on the other bank. She knew it was the Lord's hand that guided her, the team and Jonathan successfully.

What a plucky little thing Nancy Jane must have been. I know, plucky is such an antique word. But really, what else fits? She was 5'2" tall and so young. She drove that wagon with those big old oxen into a river, for heaven's sake. And in fact, it was for heaven's sake. She had promised her father she would stay with the Saints and honor the priesthood....but that's a tale for another post.

As I get older and older and realize that I may not be around for a lot more years...ohhh my! I think about Mother and the excitement she displayed when she knew she was dying. She had no doubt that she would be seeing her mother and dad very soon (and she was such a baby...both a momma's and a daddy's girl). I look forward to meeting Nancy Jane Taylor Smith and hearing more about her love story, her pioneer adventure, and what she thinks of her posterity. I imagine Mom has had a nice visit or two with her as well.

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