For women’s history month, we honor women who contributed and helped shape society. I decided to go a little more personal. While there are many women I could name, I chose only a few that I think about to encourage me. These women, real and fiction, shaped me into who I am and inspire me to do better. Today I wanted to talk about an amazing woman named Mary Fielding Smith
Mary Fielding Smith
Born in 1801 as Mary Fielding, she probably did not expect the life she would live. Raised in England, she moved to Canada to live with her sister, Mercy, and brother, Joseph. While there, they met a man who introduced them to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. All three Fielding siblings joined this church and chose to move to Kirtland, where most of the members of this church lived.
While in Kirtland, Joseph Smith, the prophet, told his brother, Hyrum, that he should consider marrying the newly arrived Mary Fielding. Hyrum met Mary and the two were quickly wed. Hyrum already had several small children from his first wife that had recently died in childbirth. Mary became a mother to these children, treating them like her own, even after having two children with Hyrum.
Still, life was not easy. Many people disagreed with the new church and persecuted the members, forcing them to leave their homes. Shortly before she bore her son, Joseph, her husband Hyrum was put in jail. She had to give birth without him. Then she had to handle the children and newborn baby while sick for a few months after the birth. At one point, while Hyrum was imprisoned, a mob stormed her house stealing things, making her new son ill.
Then in 1844, a mob killed her husband, making her a widow. Not long after his death, the church under Brigham Young decided to move farther west. Even though her mother and sister-in-law chose to stay in Nauvoo, Mary chose to go. She only had her brother and nine-year-old son to help.
The trek was not easy and the leader of her group did not help. When she first arrived to join the group heading west with her few oxen and wagons, the leader told her to stay behind. He said she would only be a burden to him. She replied that she would go anyways, beat him to their destination of Salt Lake Valley, and not ask for his help.
Still, she had difficulties. At one point her best oxen fell ill, which would stop her from continuing. With prayer, the oxen rose and continued pulling the wagon. Another time along the trail, the oxen roamed away from camp. Her brother and son searched all morning for them but did not find them. Mary again prayed, then walked to the river and found the oxen. Even with these difficulties, she arrived at the Salt Lake Valley a full day before the doubting leader.
Life did not suddenly get easier for Mary Fielding Smith after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley. The first winter caused problems with little food and shelter. Finally, she could plant a crop and though poor, she paid her tithing using her best potatoes. A few years later Mary Fielding Smith died in 1852.
Mary Fielding Smith Shaped Me
The story of Mary Fielding Smith inspired me. She did not allow hard times and struggles to stop her from doing what she felt she needed to do. The fact that she spent many of her married life separated from her husband as he would go on missions or be jailed did not stop her. She had to move her young family several times to different states in a time that travel consisted of wagons and walking. Nor did she let people tell her she couldn’t do something. Not only would she do it, but she would also surpass expectations.
How amazing! I’ve known her story for most of my life and have always admired her. Her strength, spirit, and attitude encourage me to keep going when I struggle. I can remember her story and all that she went through. Then I straighten my shoulders and follow her example. I, too, can keep going despite my struggles.