Friday, April 12, 2013

More from the Dust (including polygamy)

19th Ward was the northwest portion of the city. The Ridges lived on 3rd North
about 500 West (Near the tracks behind where West High is today)
Due to scheduling challenges, we didn’t get into the Church History Library until today. I’ve been there before, but it is so much better to be accompanied by a professional historian (See some of her work at and a celebrity at that! Ardis drew notice during lunch at Kneaders and in the Library, of course. Due to her celebrity, or well-known historian status, she was able to help me get not just the microfilm of my 3rd Great Grandmother’s notes of the 19th Ward Ladies' Prayer Meetings to transcribe, but the actual record book itself with inked pages in Grandma Adelaide Ridges’s own handwriting and signature. Wow!

One of the entries she made brought chills:
Nov 6th 1874
Sr A Ridges said we should keep away from places that would tend to weaken our faith in the gospel, it would be folly for me to pray to the Lord, to not lead me into temptation and then walk deliberately into it. I have desired the gift of discernment of spirits, which I think I have had it to some extent.
It made me wonder if the gift of discernment of spirits works from her end back these days. The chills seemed to confirm. And they were good, warm chills.

There was another interesting entry that had some biographical information with powerful testimony including longing and loss. And as she speaks in a third-person way about polygamy, I get the feeling she was couching her first-person perspective. She was the first wife of a polygamous husband. Remember my caveats that I neither promote nor denigrate historical polygamy. I merely accept it as a fact. And in Grandma Ridges's voice, it is a testament of Faith:
December 29th 1875
I feel it is a privilege to lay the cares of this world aside and enjoy the Spirit of the Lord for a season. The hand of the Lord was in it taking me to a distant land [Australia from England] to hear the gospel. It was a great trial to me to come here and not see my relatives any more, but I feel now God‘s people are my people, it will be a greater pleasure to meet my Father and Mother now that I can do something for them. We do not know what our end will be yet we know what we wish it to be. I have a great desire to live to be worthy to go to Jackson County. I do not fear our enemies but fear lest we should not keep our covenants I believe Polygamy is part of our religion and that God designed it for a wise purpose yet in many instances it is abused and some are made to suffer, yet the Lord blesses them above those that are not in it I pray the Lord to keep us faithful.
And then there was this from August 1875:
The Lord knows what is best for us if He does not answer our prayers it is for our good. I feel in the United Order we shall have trials the same as in polygamy why cannot we love each other and be united like we are in this meeting? When they lived together in polygamy they loved each other better then than they do now that they are separated that we may be united is my prayer in the name of Jesus.
If she is speaking in the third person for herself, this may indicate that her husband Joseph’s plural wives did not live in the same household. While my line goes through Adelaide, this still makes me curious.

There are always more questions the more answers you get. But it does seem like a form of two-way communication in turning the hearts by reading her own handwritten testimonies. Thanks, Grandma! (and Ardis!)

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