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

28 June 1875


Gunnison Relief Society; Gunnison Schoolhouse, Gunnison, Utah Territory

[. . .]

Miss E. R. Snow said; Several years ago, President [Brigham] Young gave me a mission, to help the Bishops in organizing the R. S.s [Relief Societies], as he knew I was present at the first organization of the Relief Societies in this dispensation. President Joseph Smith said, this organization always existed in the church, when fully organized. This organization is for women, that they may become more useful in the Kingdom of God. It was the instruction to gether [gather] a few faithful sisters; Elder John Taylor was appointed to preside and Elder Willard Richards as Secretary. It was organized with President, two Counselors, Secretary, Assistant Secretary and Treasurer. The name was not given by revelation; it was talked over and given by vote

I wish the sisters to conduct their meetings on Parliamentary rules. It was called Female Relief Society: but a few years ago the word “Female” was dropped, and is now “Relief Society.” The first duty is to re[p. 26]lieve the poor. Although this is the first duty, it is by no means the most important one. It is to look after the moral and virtue of the Society; but it is also to save souls. It has been very much misunderstood, and not appreciated as it should It has been looked upon as got up by women, and only a begging institution. I heard him say if only carried out after his instructions, it would become the most glorious institutions on earth. That Queens would come and learn of them. The President is to preside, in dignity and honor. The counselars are to help the president to do good in every department. The duty of the Secretary is to keep a correct account of the doings of the Society; to take minutes of all the transactions and donations, no matter how small, with full name. The Treasurer is to keep an accounts of all the disbursements; but they need not be read at your meetings. The sisters can look at her book, and see how much each one has received, as some forget that they get anything, to save trouble.

It is the duty of the members to uphold the authorities by their faith and their prayers. They should realize the responsibility resting upon them, as well as the officers, of upholding the Society Let not the sisters think, that because they are not officers, that they have no responsibility, for all have responsibility. The test was that all who were virtuous should belong to the Society. We had a number of applications to join at that time, and I will tell you what was done. A commission was appointed to go and inquire into the character of all applicants. All you that desire to live to the requirement of the Eternal God join the Society, for your own cultivation, to elevate to prepare you to become queens and priestesses, to prepare you to become suitable companions to your husbands, to become as anciently, holy women of God; to influence society, to elevate it, to [p. 27] give it a tone. If you want to be happy, come to your meetings. The gospel of Jesus Christ produce[s] that effect. Where there are bickerings and backbitings, there is no happiness, it belongs to the lower regions. The Lord requires us to be a peculiar people; how can we become so in an isolated condition, or simply. Can the Brethren? No. Not without the aid of women. We are standing at the head of all in this generation; we should be above all evil speaking and envy and jealousy. Can we attain to that without associating together? No. No higher duty devolve on the men, than there does on women. It is for her to model the minds of the future men and women. Every wife that is faithful should be a counselor to her husband. He is the head; but the wife should stand as counselor, not dictator.

When you come together, instruct each other to get rid of every thing, that is not of the spirit of God, that we may make our homes happy, get the spirit of God. When you meet together, don’t sit and say nothing, lest the stones should cry out, against you; but hold sweet communion, with each other in the path of righteousness. I have no power to bless you, it is the spirit of God does that, nothing but the spirit of God can edify a truhearted Saint.

I am glad to see so many brethren present. Not that I can teach them, but I can see that they have an interest in this Society, as in this work. Men and women can not be seperated their interests are one. We have much to do to improve ourselves. It takes a good deal of knowledge to constitute a queen in eternity I want every sister to come forward and join this Society that is, all that are virtuous and desire to do right. Wake up Mothers in [p. 28] Israel, your sons and daughters are on the road to destruction. The powers of darkness are around and on the alert. What have we come here for? To carry out the evil of the world? You have no Saloons here. But ap [up] and be adoing. It is easier to form a barrier of <defence> before the enemy has come into your midst. Have your boys and girls organized into these societies. The children in the first days of the church met together and prayed and bore their testimony. Do they do that now? Discuss all that is for the salvation of souls. Mothers, bring up your sons and daughters to be heirs of salvation. There is an education you can give your children without money, and that is spiritual education. I like book learning; but I prefer spiritual education to book knowledge. In giving them nothing but book learning, you only prepare them to be infidels. Mothers it is while they are on your lap, that you give them <commense> that education, that will bring them to be as high as eternity. If not honest, they will crumble to the dust. A child watches all its mother does, whether she attends her meetings, her prayers or any of her duties. Some thinks that it takes all their time to feed and clothe them, but we should price all—

When I first heard plural marriage was introduced, I thought I should not have lived and seen it put in practice; but before I knew, it came right to me. I said not one word against it. I knew by the spirit of God that it was true. I had every opportunity to know the prophet was a good man, and every principle coming from him was from God. There were good people who rose up and said it was coruption but today I know that God could not save the women firmly without that principle. Never say a word against it. This principle is of God, and, I [p. 29] have tried to honor it all my life. If I did not, I should have gone into darkness.

May God help you to step forward, and unite in upholding the Society. I would like to see the young Ladies come and organize, as our good Young Ladies in Salt Lake City do. Many of them are turning their backs to the things of eternity; but I hope the young Ladies of this place will step forward and take steps to exalt themselves.

Mrs. M. I. [Mary Isabella] Horne said [. . .] Sister Snow has spoken about that spiritual education, which will help us to arrange our duties so, that we will be able to come together once in two weeks, to learn to worship God. [. . .] [p. 30] [. . .] [p. 31]

[. . .]

Sister Snow said many of my sisters wear sun bonnets and I can’t see my sisters faces, as I would wish. I want them to get strawbonnets and hats, made at home. Go to work and secure straw enough to supply this town: form our head-dress of the elements, that are around us; we want our hats made with pure hearts and clean hands. Twenty years ago President Young has told us to make silk. President Young, requires the women to establish home-industry, and we calculate to establish one thing after an other till we go into the United Order. It will soon be a disgrace to wear any thing that is not made in Zion. We hope the sisters will plant out the mulberry and raise their own silk; the material is in the elements, and let us draw them out. We want to establish Zion, that Zion may become free; we can wear silk and we can become joint heirs in the kingdom of Gods.

The Lamanites are coming in, and we have to clothe them in babylonish apparel, and if we don’t look out, they will be ahead of us in keeping the commandments

[. . .] [p. 32]

Source Note

Gunnison Ward, Gunnison Stake, Relief Society Minutes and Records (1872–1949), vol. 1 (1872–1879), pp. 26–32, CHL (LR 3518 14).

See also Sarah Capsson and Jane Caldwell, “R. S. Reports,” Woman’s Exponent 4, no. 18 (15 Feb. 1876): 138.