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The Bible and Suicide

Eliza R. Snow 
Full Name: Eliza Roxcy Snow 
Born: January 21, 1804 
Birthplace: Becket, Massachusetts 
When Eliza was four years old her family moved to the heavily wooded frontier of Mantua, Ohio. 
Father: Oliver Snow 
Mother:  Rosetta Pettibone Snow 
Siblings: Leonora, Percy, Melissa, Lorenzo, Lucius, and Samuel. 
She walked not in the borrowed light of others, but faced the morning unafraid and invincible. 
Joseph F. Smith
Note: Lorenzo became the fifth prophet of the Church in these Latter-days.  

Called To Serve  

On March 17, 1842, the Relief Society was organized under the direction of Joseph Smith and Eliza R. Snow was called to be the secretary. Her duties included keeping minutes and making sure the meetings started and ended on time. 

After the death of Joseph Smith the Saints were forced to travel West and the Relief Society was disbanded. It wasn't until December 18, 1867, years after the Saints had settled in the Salt Lake Valley, that the Relief Society was reorganized under the direction of Brigham Young and Eliza was called as the second General Relief Society President of the Church. 

Eliza's first important job as president was to rekindle the spirit of the Relief Society, which she had loved and nurtured for twenty-three years, and to reestablish its place in the Church. Her primary goal continued to be to establish the organization after the pattern set in Nauvoo by the Prophet Joseph Smith. As she traveled to the various wards, she told the Saints about that original Relief Society and bore her testimony of Joseph as a prophet of God. 

As Relief Society president, Eliza also echoed the priorities that her mother had taught her in her childhood. "Let your first business be to perform your duties at home," she said. "Inasmuch as you are wise stewards, you will find time for social duties, because these are incumbent upon us as daughters and mothers in Zion. By seeking to perform every duty, you will find that your capacity will increase, and you will be astonished at what you can accomplish." 

Elect Ladies, p. 36 - 37
A Prophet's Wife  

First Husband: Joseph Smith 
Married: June 29, 1842 

From Eliza's diary we read, "I was sealed to the prophet, Joseph Smith, for time and eternity in accordance with the celestial law of marriage which God had revealed.... This, one of the most important events of my life, I have never had cause to regret." 

Throughout her life Eliza referred to Joseph as "her first and only love . . . the choice of her heart and the crown of her life." and when Joseph was martyred in 1844 she was so overcome by grief that she could not eat or sleep and even pled with the Lord to allow her to die. It was during this time of grieving that Joseph appeared to her in vision and told her that she must not desire to die. He then explained that her mission on earth was not yet completed and counseled her to be of good cheer and service to those around her. 

Second Husband: Brigham Young 
Married: 1844 

Though this marriage was one of convenience and respect, it provided Eliza with security after the death of Joseph. When Eliza arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, Brigham arranged for her to live in a log cabin with Clara Decker, one of his other plural wives. Then, in 1856, he moved Eliza into the Lion House which he had built to house many of his wives and children. Brigham highly respected Eliza's intellect and valued her opinion. She always sat on his right side at the dinner table and during family prayer. 

Physical Appearance

Eliza's meticulous and precise approach to everything she did carried over into her appearance. She loved elegant yet feminine clothes. She put extra yards of material into her dresses and trimmed them elaborately, which complemented her slender build and above average height and added to her graceful, lofty carriage. A high forehead and large, deep-set eyes gave her a regal countenance. Her speech was eloquent and dynamic. 
Elect Ladies, p. 26
She was slight and fragile and always immaculate in dress. I see her now in her full-skirted, lace-trimmed caps and a gold chain around her neck, looking for all the world like a piece of Dresden china.  
Clarissa Young Spencer
[Eliza was] dignified, reserved, and rather cold, so much so that one would hesitate to approach her or to assume any familiarity whatever. She was so powerful and able, however, that she impressed people, even children, with her superior intelligence, wisdom, vision, and leadership, and won their admiration and confidence. 
Amy Brown Lyman
Zion's Poetess  

Throughout her life, Eliza often expressed her feelings and ideas in writing, especially poetry. Once, as a child, she even wrote a school assignment in verse. In 1826, following the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, Eliza wrote a requiem for which she recieved wide recognition. After her coversion and baptism in the spring of 1835, Eliza began to use her talents to write poetry for the purpose of cheering and edifying the Saints. Over time she came to be known as "Zion's Poetess", a name given to her by Joseph Smith. Eliza's poetry and songs inspired the early Saints with a hope in the Savior and in eternity as they endured the trials and persecutions of their day. Today the Saints continue to be uplifted as they sing the words to such hymns as God of our Fathers; Behold the Great Redeemer Die; How Great the Wisdom and the Love; and O My Father. 


Eliza and her family left Kirtland, Ohio in the spring of 1838 in hopes of finding refuge in Missouri. Along the way Lorenzo became very ill and Eliza held his head in her arms to absorb the shocks as the wagon jolted over the rough roads. When the family arrived in Far West, Missouri Lorenzo was still ill and Eliza stayed with him for two weeks while the rest of the family went ahead to Adam-ondi-Ahman. 

In the cold winter months of 1839, Eliza's family followed the Saints to Nauvoo, Illinois leaving behind many of  their possessions including two homes. During this journey, Eliza walked beside the wagon to keep warm and to keep her feet from freezing. After a short stay in Quincy, Illinois, Eliza finally arrived in Nauvoo. 
I will go forward. I will smile at the rage of the tempest, and ride fearlessly and triumphantly across the boisterous ocean of circumstance... 
In February 1846, after the Saints were ordered out of Nauvoo, Eliza travelled with the Markham family across the frozen Mississippi River and began the long journey westward with the Saints. It was during this time that she learned to drive a team of oxen. Of the experience she wrote: 
Had it been a horse-team I should have been amply qualified, but driving oxen was entirely a new business; however, I took the whip and very soon learned to 'haw and gee,' driving most of the way to Winter Quarters.
At Winter Quarters Eliza became ill with "a slow fever that terminated in chills and fever." 
She wrote: "Sometimes wet nearly from head to foot, I realized that I was near the gate of death; but my trust was in God, and his power preserved me." 
Once she recovered from her illness, Eliza spent her days preparing for the trek west and attending meetings where she shared testimony and spiritual gifts. In the summer of 1847, Eliza began her journey to the Salt Lake Valley with the Robert Pierce famly. Before she left she used her last bit of money to buy a bottle of ink which she would use to write inspiring songs, letters, and personal journal entries. 

Her Testimony 

I will go forward. I will smile at the rage of the tempest, and ride fearlessly and triumphantly across the boisterous ocean of circumstance... and 'the testimony of Jesus' will light up a lamp that will guide my vision through the portals of immortality, and communicate to my understanding the glories of the Celestial kingdom. 
Eliza R. Snow
A Peaceful Parting  

Eliza died on December 5, 1887 and was buried on a hillside near the Lion House in President Brigham Young's private cemetery. Eliza had arranged all the details of her funeral before she died and requested that the choir sing, "O My Father", a hymn she wrote which speaks of returning to live with her heavenly parents. She also requested that the Assembly Hall be draped in white and filled with white flowers as a symbol of hope. 


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