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

6 September 1873


Smithfield Branch Relief Society; Smithfield Schoolhouse, Smithfield, Utah Territory

[. . .] President [Elizabeth T.] Morehead made some opening remarks was pleased that our beloved Sis Snow is present with us that she is capable of instructing us that it brought to mind recollections of times when in Nauvoo wished the Sisters to sustain the womans exponent that through its columns we can show to the world that we are free women

Coun Adaline Barber felt well hoped to profit by the instruction we will receive from Sis Snow desired to attend meetings with the saints that our privileges are great

Coun Mary Ainscough is glad to meet with her Sisters thankful that Sis Snow is present with us is desirous that we treasure in our minds knowledge that we may endure to the end [p. 153]

Sis Snow arose and said I am pleasd to meet with my Sisters in this place your minutes and the remarks that have been made have been prompted by the spirit of God. This organization is imperfectly understood by a great many it is from heaven if it was understood as it ought to be there would not be a Sister of a good moral character outside of this organization, some has an idea that to look after the poor is all that is necessary to be performed, this is not all this organization is not of man but sacred as the organization of the church

The Relief Society is a self governing organization calculated to do much good not only to relieve the poor but to save souls. It is not a begging institution my Sisters but a school to improve and cultivate our minds. To tend to the wants of the poor is a duty but not the highest It is the duty of the President over a Society to preside as much so as does the President over the church and to admit all members by vote. Spoke of the first Organization of the Relief Society in Nauvoo by the Prophet Joseph Smith which was published in the first number of Woman Exponent volume first.

That it is the duty of the President to lay all business matters and transactions before the Society and know their mind in all matters by vote with the exception of miner matters which the President could authorize the treasurer to deal out, this cours will be satisfactorily and promote confidence It is also the duty of the Secretary to keep a correct account of every cent with the full [p. 154] name of every Sister if only three cents in her book, a well kept history is an ornament to any Society, the accounts ought to be so kept by Secretary and Treasurer that if a mistake is made it can be corrected by the other

A Teachers duty is momentuous the office of a teacher is not comprehended by many there is not a more important office in the Church It is not a begging office it is a matter of convenience at times to give our donations to the teacher it is honarable and nothing degrading

When Jesus was upon the earth he instructed his disciples to be humble therefore we must not consider ourselves superior to our great Master. If I could not consider myself competent to fulfill the Office it would be my duty to to humble myself before the Lord and get the holy Ghost the comforter the Spirit of God, I would then know precisely what spirit reigned in that person or house, In visiting if any have grown cold and lost their first love for the gospel It is the duty of the Teacher to impart to them the principles of life and salvation to warm them up to rouse them to thought and reflection to draw them to the fountain of life if contentions has arisen try to allay all corroding feelings If any mix in Society that is calculated to lead them astray it is the duty of Relief Societies to look out for such and take them by the hand and lead them in the path of salvation

In my travels I have seen woman in a variety of circumstances have seen her as a beast of burden In Mosques gathered where there were no people of God they seemed devout My heart ached for them for I saw no prospect of the gospel reaching [p. 155] them in this life, under their present government nowhere is woman estimated so highly as among the saints nowhere else is woman called to save souls.

Do we realize the importance and magnatude of having a being in this dispensation are we performing those duties obligatory upon us? or are we reaching after the comforts of life, is this what occupies our minds? or are we pursuing that course that leads to highest woman Hood.

Woman has many home duties but with the blessings of God we can accomplish much. Never trade with a gentile If I could get for half price I would not My Interest is in the Kingdom of God, for me to assist and trade with an enemy I am acting as an enemy to the Kingdom of God we hold as much influence in this direction as our brethren

Woman gives character to Society Woman in Zion hold much more influence than in the world, We must learn to be united for good can be accomplished by concert of action in regard to disposing of your Quilts Sisters dont raffle dont set an example before your children that would be determental [detrimental] to them, it would be better for the poor to perish in poverty than <to> set unworthy examples before your children, Mothers train your Sons that they may become Judges in Israel and your daughters as polished stones in the courts of Israel one whose name can be held in honorable rememberance it is within your reach that your children attain to this you will have to make this an every day study the education of a child [p. 156] first commences on its mothers lap then is the time to lay the foundation that can be built upon that can reach to heaven.

Mother has great responsibility It is not book learning that gives character to a child, teach them to be polite to avoid obscene language you can assist your children to come in the presence of princes or Kings by learning them genteel manners. Do you teach your Daughters how to deport themselves I dont see a tithing of the vanity here there is in Salt Lake City commence and get your children fortified against these influences get the spirit of God of the Gospel in Zion in them. President [Brigham] Young wished his Daughters to be organized and called a retrenchment society and others to follow and lead out, so President [Mary Isabella] Horne, [Margaret T.] <Smoot> and myself organized his daughters the President [Ella Young Empey] chose her counsellors went to work in good faith to carry out her fathers counsel, but I am sorry to say she had little or no help from her mother but there is specimens enough of the organization left to shew much good has resulted there from. I have heard secretarys little girls read minutes which was full of wisdom and depth of thought that was really astonishing if such organizations were in every settlement we would see daughters not ashamed of the worship of God Young ladies that can be depended upon.

When President [Brigham] Young called for type setters it was the retrenchment ladies that responded. I would say to the young Sisters go to work and organize and for the Elder Sisters to sustain them and back them up, for satan feels to oppose them with all his might; there is now an opportunity for young ladies who wish to make a mark in Zion there is now [p. 157] in the city a Lady Phisican from Philedelpha It is Presidents Youngs wish that we get a class of young ladies from sixteen to twenty five years of age to know enough about the human frame to amputate a limb if it was necessary also a class to study obsterics we would like to get young ladies with integrity of purpose to take hold of and carry out thing. Much more I would say to my sisters concerning this organization we are not fully awake we need not be afraid of getting ahead of our brethren we may urge them up but there is no danger of getting ahead When in the States on my return home I was interviewed by a reporter concerning plurality of wives I portrayed to him a Patrairch surrended [surrounded] by large families each family representing a kingdom all looking to the head gave him a little Motherly advice told him I did not wish to be published, I afterward learnt that he made a handsome minute of the conversation.

When I was first taught the principle by the Prophet Joseph it was very different then than now we then had to encounter the scoffs of the Saints and the world.

No man nor woman can fight this principle and retain the spirit of God. That woman that honors Polygamy will be honored and respected if we honor ourselves we will honor this principle. if others do wrong we must be forbearing and overlook each others weaknesses that woman that encourages her husband by being kind to his wives will be blest, we must curb our feelings discipline ourselves learn to govern our toungues prepare ourselves to become heavenly beings I would recommend my Sisters never to associate [p. 158] where you can not receive good nor impart good. Go forward with renewed energy it is your privelege to have faith to have power over the destroyer it is your privelege to wash and anoint the sick it is your privelege and duty to do it, you have no time to waste in idle talk, it is your privelege to be happy I am happier today than in the days of my youth uphold the womans Exponent subscribe for it here is an avenue through which woman in Utah can speak to the world, write for it Sis [Louisa Lula Greene] Richards can correct it this is the way to qualify yourselves speak to each other at your meetings God will assist you, you will be able to command more words each succeeding time. The gifts of God are to benefit us that we may become coworkers in bringing about his righteous will [. . .] [p. 159]

Source Note

Smithfield Branch, Cache Stake, Relief Society Minutes and Records (1868–1906), vol. 1 (1868–1878), pp. 153–159, CHL (LR 8359 14); Jane S. Coleman, Secretary.

See also Emmeline B. Wells, “Pen Sketch of an Illustrious Woman,” Woman’s Exponent 10, no. 3 (1 July 1881): 17.