Friday, March 29, 2013

A Greater Crown

Coming to England and working on family history is humbling.  While all Americans would like to think of themselves as likely being of royal birth,the reality is that just isn't the case.  The reason our families got on the boat and left Europe is because they were poor and desperate.  That is largely true of every person in my family tree, with a couple of notable exceptions.  One of the most remarkable stories in our family history is that Elizabeth Winsor.  Elizabeth was an only child of Emmanuel Winsor and Elizabeth Clack. As an only child she was well educated.  Her mother spoke several languages.  Despite the advantages she had in life, she fell in love with a young man who was industrious, religious and kind, my great-great grandfather, Hezekiah Bayliss Smart.  Her parents assented to the marriage because Hezekiah treated her like a queen.   Hezekiah did not initially reveal to Elizabeth that the Smarts were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  They had joined the church and because of persecution had been forced to relocate from their small town near Leicester (Ab Kettleby) to the south of London, near Elizabeth's home. They were working and saving money to emigrate to the United States and join the saints in Utah when they married.  Elizabeth soon realized that Hezekiah knew much about the Bible and could explain things to her in way that no one previously had done.  In time she was converted and realized the need to take her family to Utah.  When she finally revealed to her parents that she had joined the church and was emigrating to the United States, she was immediately disowned.  

It's one thing when the poor and meek accept the gospel because they risk little, but when the advantaged-in-life join the church under conditions of persecution, it is a much more impressive thing.  Having been disowned, she came to Utah with 4 of her children.  The trek from Laramie, Wyoming to the Salt Lake Valley was a 30 day walk.  One of her children, Heber Orson died a couple of months after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley.  In total she bore 13 children, several of whom died in infancy.

Elizabeth sacrificed a life of comfort in her verdant England to join the saints in Utah.  It's easy to love Utah now, with its numerous recreational opportunities.  The mountains/deserts of the Wasatch Front provide a recreational dream for those who like to bike, climb, hike and run.  It was quite another to hack a life out of the wilderness desert that was the Great Salt Lake basin in the late 1800s.  Elizabeth sacrificed much to accept the gospel, most notably her entire worldly inheritance.  What she received in return was a much greater reward.  She was endowed in 1872 in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City.  One of her daughters explained that she easily could have associated with the elect in the pioneer community, but that instead she humbly raised her family and simply emphasized education in her home.  The Smart family will forever be grateful to Elizabeth for the choices she made, and in particular, the decision to sacrifice all her parents offered her for a greater crown.

Above is a painting of Elizabeth Winsor Smart which hangs in the Springville Museum.  It was painted by John Hafen.