A New Eliza R. in the World

Eliza Ruth SmithThis week we welcomed Eliza Ruth Smith into our family. She’s our fifth baby and second girl. She weighed in at 6 lbs 13 oz. My wife, Heather, and Eliza are both doing well. We love them both so much.

Eliza is named after three great women: Eliza comes from LDS pioneer Eliza R. Snow, and both my wife and I have grandmothers named Ruth.

Brief Biography of Eliza R. Snow

Eliza R. Snow was the second president of the Relief Society and served in that capacity 21 years, from 1868 to 1887. Many people called her “Zion’s Poetess” because she wrote so many poems and songs. In fact 10 of her songs are in the present day LDS Church hymnal. Eliza was instrumental in the organization of the Young Women’s and Primary organizations in addition to her work with the Relief Society.

Joining the Church

Eliza R. Snow was among the first people to join the Church in these latter days. Joseph Smith visited the Snow home in 1831 and baptized Eliza’s mother and sister that same year. Eliza wasn’t baptized for a few years later, however, in 1835. She moved to Kirtland, Ohio, at that time and there lived with Joseph and Emma Smith working as their family school teacher. in 1836, Eliza’s brother, Lorenzo, decided to join his family in Kirtland. He joined the Church that year, and eventually succeeded Joseph Smith as the fifth prophet and president of the LDS Church.

Organization of the Relief Society

Eliza R. Snow was present at the first Relief Society meeting in Nauvoo in 1842. She is credited with suggesting the name that was finally settled on by the group: The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. She departed Nauvoo with many of the other Saints in the winter of 1846, and carried with her the records of those first Relief Society meetings on the long journey west.

Re-organization of and Presiding over the Relief Society

Eliza R. SnowIn 1866, Eliza was called by Brigham Young to help reorganize Female Relief Society. She traveled all over Utah encouraging sisters to join Relief Society “for the good of the poor,” for “saving souls,” and “for the accomplishment of every good and noble work.” Among the programs instituted by the Relief Society during Eliza’s tenure as president were a grain-saving program, and a special emphasis was placed on hygiene and nursing. Also during this time, Eliza and other LDS women published their literary writings in the Women’s Exponent. Relief Society news and national political updates, often related to women’s suffrage, were also included in the publication. (see Mormon Wiki’s article on Eliza R. Snow)

Trip to Jerusalem

In 1872, President Brigham Young called his First Counselor, George A. Smith, to go to the Holy Land and dedicate the land to the Lord. Lorenzo Snow, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his sister Eliza R. Snow were among those who traveled with President Smith. The group left Utah in October 1872, traveled to New York, and then took a steam ship to Liverpool England. The group visited Rome and Naples, Italy, Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt, Athens, Greece, and other sites in Europe and the middle east. In due time, the group arrived in Palestine and beheld the city of Jerusalem. The group slept in tents and traveled by horseback on roads that Eliza R. Snow described “uneven” and George A. Smith called “a rocky, barren and almost desolate country.” (See The Path of Jesus on LDS.org) All this took place in Eliza’s seventieth year.

The delegation of Church leaders had been sent to Europe and Palestine to see what opportunities there might be for preaching the gospel and to rededicate the Holy Land for the return of the Jews. Orson Hyde had conducted a similar mission in 1840–41 but had been forced to go alone. Now the Brethren felt it was time to reassert the great interest the Church had in a regathering of the Jews to Palestine while the Saints were gathering to a new Zion in the West. On March 2, 1873 both President George A. Smith and Elder Lorenzo Snow offered prayers of dedication on the Mount of Olives (see Church History in the Fulness of Times Institute Student Manual Chapter 32). The group returned to Utah in July 1873, nearly a year after leaving.

Eliza R. Snow was a dedicated, faithful, stalwart Latter-day Saint and servant of the Lord, and we hope our new Eliza R. follows in those footsteps.

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