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5 May 1871


Tooele Ward Relief Society; Tooele, Utah Territory

[. . .] Miss Eliza R Snow then addressed the saints upon the organization of the Female Relief Society, we ought in the first place to make ourselves acquainted, and familiar with our duties they are so varied, and are calculated to meet the exigencies of these last days, our position should be to save souls, morally as well as temporally. We do not realize womans position, her influence on society, and the large amount of good we might do, towards strengthening every good feeling, both at home and abroad, every principle that will elevate and raise ourselves, our families and all with whom we are associated, our field of labor, is broad, and we should endeavor to do our best, and realize, that we possess in connection with our husbands the Holy Priesthood, there are none living who possess the priviledges of the Latter-day Saints.

This Society was organized two years before the death of Joseph Smith, by himself in connection with Br Hyrum [Smith], Dr. Willard Richards and others Mrs. Emma Smith being chosen President and Miss Eliza R Snow Secretary, circumstances occured which prevented the carrying out, the intentions of Br Joseph Smith, and it went into disuse, but it is now the intention of Br Brigham [Young], to establish this society throught the Territory. This is what we might call a protracted meeting, and here let me say we always consider it an honor to have the brethren meet with us, then we are safe, if we advance any thing that is wrong, we can be corrected. We should endeavour to speak in our meetings, by so doing we set an example of obedience. I am not a lecturer and should never have chosen this position except in obedience to those over me. [p. 33]

Miss Snow then read the minutes of some of the first meetings of this society held in Nauvoo, to give the sisters an idea how they ought to be conducted. Yesterday I gave a synopsis of duties of officers of the society—today I will speak to the Teachers, because theirs are the most important of all duties, and does not consist merely in obtaining relief for the poor, indeed it is not wisdom to ask always but only in a case of emergency, recieve whatever may be given, but always seek to carry a saving influence wherever you may visit.

Jedidiah [Jedediah M. Grant] said “hell is let out for noon”, unless we are filled with meekness and love, we are incapable of filling our positions acceptably before God. let me humble myself before God previous to going teaching, that I may have the inspiration of His Spirit, to enable me to find out the wrong Spirits when I enter a house—let our presence be a light and comfort <to> those we may visit, comfort those who mourn sadness carries away the spirit of God, we must strive against it. Though it is quite natural we should mourn for our dead, but, we are not as those without hope. Sisters must understand they are to be saviours, let a saving influence accompany our labors, for both body and soul, the saints are called to save the human family, to teach principles of immortality and eternal life, we are not here to seek our own happiness, but by doing the will of God, and our duty, we shall secure eternal happiness and joy. We must be punctual in our meetings to gain instruction, this Kingdom must be first and foremost in our hearts.

We cannot fight against the principle of Polygamy, and come into the presence of God. [p. 34] It must be carried out to in order to save the human family, it is a revelation from God, and we dare not disobey. When I first obeyed this revelation, there was no prospect of my ever being looked upon as a wife. What a contrast now, our sisters are respected and honoured in their place. I am thankful I never said a word against any woman, however I may have felt, a Saint will honor that principle under all circumstances. Think on the degradation of the world, this is all being brought about to ameliorate the condition of woman, to elevate woman, to raise her to her own proper place. Can we be so selfish, as to lift our hands against this great work; we must give up the idea that we are sacrificing our rights, but must be willing to be noble, God-like, Queen-like, we cannot keep the Spirit of God unless we do. We ought not to feel as though it warred against our nature, we cannot fight against this principle and regain the presence of our Father. Polygamy is a part of cooperation, it is part of the order of Enoch, we have got to learn to cooperate in our families, it will wear off the spirit of selfishness. Polygamy does not wear off the love and affection of a man from his wife, on the contrary he will appreciate the nobleness of our feelings.

Governor [Leland] Stanford said one time, when I was conversing with him, he believed if there were less divorces there would be less law need of law. There is not a place on earth where woman has so much liberty as this, if any sister has not room to exert herself come into the Female Relief Society.

We should always remember there is no situation without disadvantages, we have many trials on account of ignorance, that is the reason we feel tried, because we do not understand, God does not impart knowledge until we are tried and proven. [p. 35] if we understood thoroughly the designs of the Almighty, it would be no trial to us but we are placed in different circumstances, to see how we will feel and act. We shall be tried by being brought into contact with Spirits that are uncongenial with ours, but let us acknowledge the hand of God in all things, he is preparing us for different positions to what we now occupy. It may sometimes seem justifiable to leave a man, under certain circumstances but let a woman seek to be in reality, a helpmate to her husband, a wise councillor, and prove her integrity in all things, those who attain to celestial glory, will be perfected in all things. Do not let us manufacture trials for ourselves, or imagine all sorts of things to make us feel bad, but rather let us seek the good and comfort of those around us, by so doing we secure the blessing and Spirit of God, which will bring peace and happiness to our own hearts and make the countenance beautiful.

The young sisters belonging to the Retrenchment meetings are learning the difference between the spirit of God and the spirit of the world. They often bring their minutes to the Relief meetings and we have a good time together, there is a wide difference and they are begining to discern it, and to despise the spirit of the world, take every pains that can be taken to preserve the young from the spirit of the world. Let us always keep the bit on our tongues, the more we give way, the firmer hold those spirits will have upon us. Let us each one take the Spirit of God home with us, then we shall be kind to our husbands, they need help and encouragment from us, if we feel downhearted ourselves, never mind, shut out all hard feelings, not cover them up, but shut [p. 36] them out, be careful to always set a good example; wrong, never set any thing right: seek to make home pleasant, and you will preserve your children from a great deal of trouble.

Mothers should always know where their daughters are, if mothers would watch the leading of their steps, much sorrow, and anxiety might be prevented; connections are often established which are impossible to break off afterward. But with all our care and trouble, how great the reward the satisfaction and the comfort. When the curse is removed from woman and the earth, then we will have rest—we shall not be under the curse any longer than while we live in these mortal bodies. It is necessary for us to learn self-control to have command over ourselves, over our feelings, how nice to be able to speak and say all we want, we need firmness, and the Spirit of God to help us, then we must try to get on our feet, we can encourage one another very much in our meetings, if we are prompt to our duties we shall do much good, as well as progressing ourselves.

Remember that punctuality is one of the first keys to buisness, let your influence be felt, in this society, not let the few do the work, but let us each feel anxious to do our part, we must think to ourselves, I count one, I must be there, so we shall form for ourselves, a character of punctuality, of industry and of firmness in doing right.

Mothers should endeavor to study the different characters of their children, so as to help them in the ways of righteousness; children are formed in character by their mother, then how careful a mother should be to lay a foundation for honesty, truthfulness, good sense, and purity of thought and speech, teach them kindness, benevolence, goodness of heart, and every good quality, that will redeem the human race, from the wickedness and misery that abound. let us help to stem the tide, and bring about a better order of things; so in time will the whole earth be redeemed, [p. 37] and we shall regain the presence of our Father in heaven, we must watch the children closely and always guard them from evil impressions, but endeavour to give them every advantage of refinement and cultivation we have within our reach—don’t waste all your time and means in dress for them, which is the most value the jewel or the casket; lay the foundation for all that is great, and good, and noble, and clever, then you can put on ornaments afterwards.

Teach your girls to be good housekeepers a good house-keeper is more value than a fine fancy lady. girls should always learn to keep kitchen even if it is never needed, still girls should be taught all kinds of housework, then they will understand whether their servants are doing right. A lady ought to understand every part belonging to keeping house, then she is qualified to over look her servants, and will never be dependant upon them on account of her ignorance. My mother taught her girls all sorts of work, and in the drivings and persecutions, the saints have been called to pass through, I have often found the knowledge I possessed very valuable, I never considered it any disparagement to labor. I could never feel that I had lowered or degraded myself, by performing any part of work that it was necessary I should do, but always felt thankful to my mother for teaching me how to do it.

Let us not feel our duties irksome or monotonus, and get weary and feel as though we must give up, my dear sisters the angles [angels] of heaven watch over you every hour, there is not the most trivial act you perform, but a record is kept, and the day will come when you will recieve a full reward [p. 38] for all your labors. Always remember the hardest lessons to learn will bring the greatest blessings. Seek to be great, be brave, and when we have been tried long enough, and learned enough, God will turn the tables, for us in his own due time, every principle revealed from heaven will stand, then let us be very careful and never be found speaking against them, but try to do our best—When we feel discouraged and cast down, go in faith, and humility to Our Father in heaven, he will hear and answer you—he will sympathize with you, he will bind up the broken-hearted and give peace to your troubled soul. Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to concieve the rest that is laid up for the righteous, then my dear sisters, let us try and earn it.

The Female Relief Society stands next to the Bishop we must be very careful and always move under his direction. The President must be wise, prudent, forbearing, never spread evil, do not cherish hardness, but cover up faults, always possess a feeling of charity. I am thankful this branch is doing so well, I am happy to hear of your prosperity, let the sisters seek to possess the spirit of God in their hearts and they will not weary in well doing. [p. 39]

Mrs. [Elizabeth A.] Howard said she would much prefer sitting out with the assistance of our Father in heaven, she might say a few words—was much pleased with the remarks of our beloved sister Miss Snow. [. . .] [pp. 40–41]

[. . .] Bishop [John] Rowberry said it had given him much pleasure to listen to the rich instructions that we have received, the sisters in Tooele most fully appreciate the kindly influence and teachings of our beloved sisters, if we practise such teachings we shall answer the end design by the Creator, mothers <are> capable by their efforts of training up sons and daughters [. . .] returned sincere thanks to our beloved sisters, for their kind visit, and good instruction, the small still voice will [p. 42] whisper to each one who have heard, and bear witness to their hearts, and great good will be the result. [. . .]

After the meeting the various officers adjourned to the vestry to recieve instruction from Sister Snow pertaining to their respective offices.

In the evening we had the pleasure of meeting with the Ladies at Mrs. [Mary] Meiklejohn’s residence, where we received much good instruction. [p. 43]

Source Note

Tooele Ward, Tooele Stake, Relief Society Minutes and Records (1870–1913), vol. 1 (1870–1882), pp. 33–43, CHL (LR 9216 14); Emily Warburton, Secretary.