Monday, May 7, 2012

A Testimony by Lack of Evidence

Trying not to go all logical on a legalistic evidentiary basis, but I am fortified in my testimony of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith, Jr., in what is not said in the history of some of my ancestors.

My most persistent pioneer forebearer was Ira Rice (1793 -1868). Born in western Massachusetts, he helped pioneer western New York. As a veteran of the War of 1812, he took a land bounty and pioneered in what is now Michigan. Converted to the LDS Church, he moved to Illinois and helped build the communities in the neighborhood of Nauvoo, Illinois. Following Brigham Young west with the Saints, he pioneered Farmington in Davis County, then North Ogden, then he went to help settle Providence in Cache County. When a call went out to pioneer the Muddy or Cotton Mission south of Utah's Dixie, Ira readily volunteered. President Young supposedly told him that he had done enough pioneering in his lifetime. (He was up to seven pioneering experiences by my count). And he probably should have listened as Ira died from the effects of exposure in a flood at Beaver Dam, now in Arizona. He is buried in Washington, Utah.

Ira's son William Kelsey Rice (1822-1913) established a claim on some land in Farmington, Davis County, Utah, where the Farmington City Cemetery now lies and where he is buried. William was born in Manchester, Ontario County, New York. Sound familiar? Yes, that's the same neighborhood where  Joseph's family lived at the time of his First Vision and the Angel Moroni's visits to the boy prophet.

The Rices left upstate New York in the mid-1820s, a few years after the time of the First Vision and during the time of the Angel Moroni's appearances to Joseph. This is where the lack of evidence comes in to help establish a very important point. The histories I have of the Rices make no mention of the Smith Family of the neighborhood of Palmyra and Manchester.

Either the Rices knew the Smiths from their time in New York or they didn't. If they did know them, anything they knew or heard about them did nothing to prevent their conversion to Mormonism some years later. If they didn't know them, then the Smith Family simply wasn't as notorious as many detractors would have you believe. There just weren't that many people in the area of Palmyra and neighboring Manchester not to have heard salacious gossip about a family as strangely disturbed as some try to portray the Smiths. Whatever the Rices knew or didn't know of the Smiths, they accepted the Book of Mormon and the Restored Gospel and remained faithful to the end of their days with numerous, faithful posterity including this blogger.

The lack of evidence is sometimes a lawyer's best friend.

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