The Church Historian's Press The Church Historian's Press

9

God Will Enable Us to Overcome

Salt Lake City Seventeenth Ward Relief Society

Union Hall, Salt Lake City, Utah Territory

July 30, 1868


On July 30, 1868, Mary Isabella Hales Horne (1818–1905) spoke to the Salt Lake City Seventeenth Ward Relief Society about faith in times of trial. The Woman’s Exponent described Horne as a woman of “indomitable energy of character” who was “determined not to shrink from any responsibility placed upon her.”1 Born in England, she immigrated with her family to York [Toronto], Canada, in 1832, when she was thirteen years old. She met Joseph Horne at a Methodist camp meeting when she was fifteen and married him two years later. The couple became acquainted with Mormon missionaries Orson Pratt and Parley P. Pratt shortly after their marriage and were baptized in July 1836. The Hornes moved to Far West, Missouri, in 1838 and were driven out of Missouri to Illinois with other Mormons the following winter. She joined the Nauvoo Relief Society on June 9, 1842.2

Horne’s Relief Society service continued in Salt Lake City. When the Salt Lake City Fourteenth Ward Relief Society was organized in 1856, she served as first counselor to President Phebe W. Woodruff. When the society was reorganized on December 12, 1867, she was made president.3 She often traveled and spoke to different Relief Societies throughout Utah Territory, sharing her personal experience and conviction.4

In July 1868, Horne visited the neighboring Seventeenth Ward Relief Society.5 Her friend Marinda N. Hyde, whose husband may have baptized Horne, presided over this Relief Society.6 Prior to Horne’s speech, Hyde spoke about the work of the Seventeenth Ward. She said they had produced “one quilt, a piece of carpet, and a piece of jeans, and I believe that we are blessed in our labors. I feel that our Heavenly Father will take care of us.”7 Hyde continued her message of hope when she referred to a recent invasion of crickets (local settlers called them grasshoppers or locusts) in the Salt Lake Valley.8 The latest infestation likely prompted memories of a similar event two decades earlier in which crickets had attacked crops—a story that had become part of Mormon cultural memory.9 Hyde remarked, “In relation to the grasshoppers which visited us last week, I never felt for a moment as though Father had forsaken us.”10 Horne echoed these sentiments of faith in her own talk.

I am pleased to meet with you in the capacity of a Female Relief Society. I feel that these societies are stepping stones to much greater works, and that finally we shall reap the reward, but we must live faithful lives and successfully contend with evil and God will enable us to overcome. My faith never failed on account of the grasshoppers, for I knew that Father was willing and able to sustain us, and that sometimes he tries us to bring us nearer to him.11 I know it is good for us to meet sometimes in this capacity; the interchange of thoughts and feelings in a good cause tends to our elevation. And if we are faithful, when our work is done on earth we shall reach the celestial kingdom of our God.

Mary Isabella Horne

Mary Isabella Horne. Circa 1860s. Horne acted as president of the Ladies’ Cooperative Retrenchment Association from 1870 to 1904, president of the Salt Lake Stake Relief Society from 1877 to 1903, and treasurer of the Relief Society general board from 1880 to 1901. She also served as chair of the executive committee of the Deseret Hospital from 1882 to 1894. Photograph by Edward Martin. (Church History Library, Salt Lake City.)

Footnotes

  1. [1][Emmeline B. Wells], “A Representative Woman: Mary Isabella Horne,” Woman’s Exponent 11, no. 4 (July 15, 1882): 25; no. 8 (Sept. 15, 1882): 59.

  2. [2]Mrs. Joseph Horne [Mary Isabella Horne], “Migration and Settlement of the Latter Day Saints,” 1884, 1–2, 4–6, 10, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; [Wells], “A Representative Woman,” Woman’s Exponent 10, no. 24 (May 15, 1882): 185; [Wells], “A Representative Woman,” Woman’s Exponent 11, no. 1 (June 1, 1882): 1; Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, June 9, 1842, [64], in Jill Mulvay Derr, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, and Matthew J. Grow, eds., The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History (Salt Lake City: Church Historian’s Press, 2016), 80.

  3. [3]Derr et al., First Fifty Years, 209–210; “Address of Mrs. M. Isabella Horne,” Woman’s Exponent 20, no. 18 (Apr. 1, 1892): 138; [Wells], “A Representative Woman,” Woman’s Exponent 11, no. 8 (Sept. 15, 1882): 59.

  4. [4]Emmeline B. Wells and others remembered how Horne had earlier struggled with public speaking. She was “so very timid that she could not vote in the members of the society, without being supported by leaning on other sisters. To see her now stand up in the congregations of the Saints, and hear the words of instruction which flow from her lips, one could scarcely credit that she was ever so afraid of her own voice.” ([Wells], “A Representative Woman,” Woman’s Exponent 11, no. 8 [Sept. 15, 1882]: 59.)

  5. [5]Seventeenth Ward, Salt Lake Stake, Relief Society Minutes and Records, vol. 2, 1868–1871, July 30, 1868, 97–98, CHL.

  6. [6]Seventeenth Ward, Salt Lake Stake, Manuscript History and Historical Reports, typescript, CHL. Like Horne, Hyde had joined the Nauvoo Relief Society. (Nauvoo Relief Society Minute Book, Mar. 17, 1842, 7, in Derr et al., First Fifty Years, 30.)

  7. [7]Jeans were work pants made of durable twilled cotton cloth. (Seventeenth Ward Relief Society Minutes, July 30, 1868, 97.)

  8. [8]The Deseret News reported several problems with grasshoppers throughout Utah Territory. The day before this meeting, the paper reported millions of grasshoppers eating gardens and lots in Salt Lake City. (“Items,” Deseret News, July 29, 1868.)

  9. [9]Orson Hyde referred to the 1848 incident in a talk on September 24, 1853, saying that “the hand of Providence prepared agents, and sent them to destroy the destroyer.” (Orson Hyde, “Common Salvation,” in Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [Liverpool: Various publishers, 1855–1886], 2:114; see also William G. Hartley, “Mormons, Crickets, and Gulls: A New Look at an Old Story,” Utah Historical Quarterly 38, no. 3 [Summer 1970]: 233.)

  10. [10]Seventeenth Ward Relief Society Minutes, July 30, 1868, 97.

  11. [11]Writing of the 1848 incident when the Saints had tried to fight off the insects, Horne remembered her faith that God “would send deliverance never wavered. In their extremity the Saints united in calling upon the Lord in mighty faith, and he came to the rescue by sending large flocks of seagulls to devour the crickets and save us from starvation. It was one of the greatest miracles of this dispensation.” (Mary Isabella Horne, “Pioneer Reminiscences,” Young Woman’s Journal 13, no. 7 [July 1902]: 294; see also Horne, “Migration and Settlement,” 28.)