3 History of Joseph Smith by his Mother, Chapter 3

Chapter 3 The sicknesses of Lovisa and Lovina. Miraculous healing of Lovisa. She preaches to and exhorts the people for three years. Lucy cares for Lovina. Deaths of Lovina and Lovisa.      January 1780 to 1794 The history of Lovisa and Lovina, my two oldest sisters, is so connected and interwoven that I shall not attempt to separate it.Jesus Christ MormonThey were one in faith, in love, in action, and in hope of eternal life. They were always together, and when they were old enough to understand the duties of a Christian, they united their voices in prayer and songs of praise to God. This sisterly affection increased with their years and continued steadfast until death. One might say as did one of old, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like theirs.” The pathway of their lives was never clouded with a gloomy shadow until Lovisa’s marriage and removal from home, which left Lovina very lonely.

In about two years after Lovisa’s marriage, she was taken violently sick with a disease so singular in its nature that her attendant physicians had seen no precedent and could give it no name. Suffice it to say she was nigh unto death and sorely afflicted for the space of two years. She revived a little about this time and showed some symptoms of recovery, but a malignant reattack soon brought her back in intense agony upon a bed of pain and languor. She grew worse and worse until she became utterly speechless, and was so for several days. Those who attended her were not allowed to move her. She ate not; she drank not, with the exception of a few drops of rice water which they were able to pour into her mouth with a teaspoon by prying her teeth apart. Thus she lay for three days and two nights. On the night of the third day at about two o’clock, she feebly pronounced the name of her sister Lovina, who had hovered indefatigably all the while around her pillow night and day like an attendant angel, watching every change with thrilling anxiety. Lovina now bent with deep emotion over the emaciated form of the invalid and said, “My sister!” but no more; her feelings choked her utterance.

Lovisa said emphatically, “The Lord has healed me, soul and body. Raise me up and give me my clothes. I want to get up.”

Her husband told those present to gratify her, as this was probably a revival before death, and he would not have her crossed in her last moments. They raised her in bed and handed her clothing to her and assisted her to dress, but when she was lifted to her feet both of her ankles were instantly dislocated by her weight resting upon them. She said, “Put me in a chair and pull my feet gently, and I shall soon be sound again.”

She then ordered her husband to bring her nourishment, and when she had taken some stimulance, she desired them to assist her to cross the street to her father-in-law’s, who was then sick. They did so, and when she entered the house, he cried out in amazement, “Lovisa is dead and her spirit has come to admonish me of my final exit.”

“No, Father, no,” she said. “God has raised me up, and I have come to tell you to prepare for death.” She then sat down and conversed with him some time, and afterwards, with the assistance of her husband and those who had attended upon her that night, she returned home.

When news of this excitement and her miraculous recovery was noised abroad, the inhabitants began to gather from all quarters, both to hear and see concerning the strange and marvelous circumstance which had taken place. She talked to them a short time, sang a hymn with angelic harmony, and then told them she would meet them at the village church on Thursday, where she would tell them all about the strange manner in which she had been healed.

The next day, according to promise, she proceeded to the meetinghouse, and when she arrived there a large congregation had collected. Soon after she entered, the minister arose and remarked that, as many of the congregation had doubtless come to hear a recital of the strange circumstance which had taken place in the neighborhood, and as he himself felt more interested in it than in hearing a gospel discourse, he would open the meeting and then give place to Mrs. Tuttle.

The minister then requested her to sing a hymn; she accordingly did so, and her voice was as high and clear as it had ever been. Having sung, she arose and addressed the audience as follows: “I seemed to be borne away to the world of spirits, where I saw the Savior as through a veil, which appeared to me about as thick as a spider’s web, and he told me that I must return again to warn the people to prepare for death; that I must exhort them to be watchful as well as prayerful; that I must declare faithfully unto them their accountability before God and the certainty of their being called to stand before the judgment seat of Christ; and that if I would do this my life should be prolonged.” After this she spoke much to the people upon the uncertainty of life.

When she sat down, her husband and sister, also those who were with her during the last night of her sickness, arose and testified to her appearance just before her sudden recovery.

Of these things she continued to speak boldly, and her house was always crowded for the space of three years, at the end of which time she was seized with the consumption.

A short time before Lovisa was healed in the miraculous manner before stated, Lovina was taken with the consumption, when I was sixteen, and languished three years with this fatal disease.

Two years before sister Lovina’s death, I visited sister Tuttle, who was then sick at South Hadley. Here lived one Colonel Woodbridge, who bought a large church bell about this time which was hung while I was there and I understand remains till this day.

Lovina’s character was that of a true follower of Christ, and she lived contemplating her final change with that peaceful serenity which characterizes those who fear God and walk uprightly. She spoke calmly of her approaching dissolution and conjured her young friends to remember that life on this earth could not be eternal, that they might see, therefore, the necessity of looking beyond this veil of tears to a far more glorious inheritance “where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”

The care of Lovina during her illness devolved chiefly upon myself. The task, though a melancholy one, I cheerfully performed and, although she had much other attention, I never allowed myself to go an hour at a time beyond the sound of her voice while she was sick. Finally, she called to me one night (who am the youngest daughter of my father’s family) and said, “Lucy, tell Mother and Father to come to me.” When Mother came she said, “Mother, I am going now, and I wish you to call my young mates that I may speak to them again before I die.” While my mother was giving the necessary directions, my sister bade me take her up and place her in a chair. When Mother and our associates with the family were seated, she commenced speaking, and finding that her strength failed her, she desired Mother to prepare her some food, saying, “‘Tis the last you will ever get for me.” She took the food, and after eating with seeming appetite a small quantity, she then gave back the dish to Mother and said, “There, Mother. You will never get me anything to eat again.”

She then proceeded, “I do not know when I received my material change of heart, unless it was when I was ten years old. God, at that time, heard my prayers and forgave my sins. Since then I have, according to my best ability, endeavored to serve him continually. I have called you here to give you my last warning and bid you all farewell and beseech you to endeavor to meet me where parting shall be no more.”

Then, holding up her hands and looking upon them as one would  mark  a trifling thing which she had not observed before, she said, smiling, “See, the blood is now settling under my nails.” As she contemplated the gradual change in her appearance, she again remarked how slowly death crept on there. Placing the fingers of her left hand across the right, she said, “‘Tis cold to there. Soon this mortal flesh will be food for worms.” Then, turning to me, she said, “Now, sister Lucy. Help me back to the bed.”

I did as she desired, but as I moved my hand from beneath her side, she shouted, crying, “Oh sister, that hurt me.” She moaned plaintively. As this was the last sad office I could ever perform for my sister, it wounded me to think that in laying her upon her deathbed I should cause her pain.

My sister now laid herself calmly back upon her pillow and said, “My nose is now quite cold.” Then, slightly turning and straightening herself in bed, she continued, “Father, Mother, brother, sister, and dear companions, all farewell, I am going to rest-prepare to follow me.” She then sang the hymn:

Death! ’tis a melancholy day
To those that have no God,
When the poor soul is forced away
To seek her last abode.
In vain to heaven she lifts her eyes;
But guilt, a heavy chain,
Still drags her downwards from the skies,
To darkness, fire, and pain.
Awake and mourn, ye heirs of hell,
Let stubborn sinners fear;
You must be driven from earth, and dwell
A long Forever there!
See how the pit gapes wide for you,
And flashes in your face;
And thou, my soul, look downward too,
And sing recovering grace.
He is a God of sov’reign love,
Who promised heaven to me,
And taught my thoughts to soar above,
Where happy spirits be.
Prepare me, Lord, for thy right hand,
Then come the joyful day,
Come, death, and some celestial band,
To bear my soul away.

After repeating this hymn, she folded her hands across her breast and closed her eyes to open them no more in this world.

Having led my readers to the close of Lovina’s life, I shall return to Lovisa, of whom there only remains the closing scene of her earthly career.

In the course of a few months subsequent to the death of sister Lovina, my father received a letter from South Hadley, stating that Lovisa was very low of the consumption and that she earnestly desired him to come and see her as soon as possible, as she expected to live but a short time.

My father set out immediately, and when he arrived there, he found her in rather better health than he expected. In a few days after he got there she resolved in her heart to return with him at all hazards. To this her father unwillingly consented, and, after making the requisite preparations, they started for Gilsum.

They traveled about four miles and came to an inn kept by a man by the name of Taff. Here her father halted and asked her if she did not wish to tarry a short time to rest herself. She replied in the affirmative. By the assistance of the landlord, she was presently seated in an easy chair. My father then stepped into the next room to procure a little water and wine for her. He was absent but a moment; however, when he returned it was too late, her spirit had fled from its earthly tabernacle to return no more until recalled by the trump of the archangel.

My father immediately addressed a letter to Mother, informing her of Lovisa’s death, lest the shock of seeing the corpse unexpectedly should overcome her. As soon as he could get a coffin he proceeded on his journey for Gilsum, a distance of fifty miles.

She was buried by the side of her sister Lovina, according to her own request.

The following is part of a hymn composed by herself a few days previous to her decease:

Lord, may my thoughts be turned to thee;
Lift thou my heavy soul on high;
Wilt thou, O Lord, return to me
In mercy, Father, ere I die!
My soaring thoughts now arise above-
Oh, fill my soul with heavenly love.
Father and Mother, now farewell;
And husband, partner of my life,
Go to my father’s children, tell
That lives no more on earth thy wife,
That while she dwelt in cumbrous clay,
For them she prayed both night and day.
My friends, I bid you all adieu;
The Lord hath called, and I must go-
And all the joys of this vain earth
Are now to me of little worth;
‘Twill be the same with you as me,
When brought as near eternity.

Thus closes this mournful recital, and when I pass with my readers into the next chapter, with them probably may end the sympathy aroused by this rehearsal, but with me it must last while life endures.

Go to chapter 4.

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