In Our Lovely Deseret: Emmeline B. Wells' story is truth more glorious than fiction

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 28 2012 5:00 a.m. MST

Emmeline wrote the hymn “Our Mountain Home So Dear,” published a book of outstanding poems and left her life’s record in 46 diaries!

Emmeline struggled with strong emotions and with more than her share of heartaches and trials, among them the death of two of her cherished daughters, and the loss of her little home: the one thing she had clung to through all the years, planting lovely gardens and orchards that were dear to her.

While she was yet a young woman, Bishop Whitney had prophesied of the great work she would do in her life, so she clung tight to the faith that reminded her of her Heavenly Father’s awareness of her.

In her later years, she was rewarded by a close, tender relationship with Daniel Wells and — in 1910, at the age of 82 — by the call as general president of the Relief Society. She was forward-looking and innovative, and during her administration the motto “Charity Never Faileth” was adopted.

After 11 years of service, in April 1921, Emmeline had just turned 93 and was released by President Heber J. Grant, only to suffer a stroke and die three weeks later. On April 29, the flags in Utah were flown at half staff — one of the first time ever in honor of a woman in the state.

We but skim the surface of this remarkable life that reads like a story! But Emmeline did not live it as a story — she faced it and triumphed in it one challenge after another, one day at a time.

“Her mind is keen, her intellect sure, her powers unbending,” wrote Susa Young Gates. “She possesses a rarely beautiful spirit ... is an eloquent speaker, a beautiful writer ... is exquisitely pure — no unclean thing could enter her presence or remain in her atmosphere. She is beloved by all who dwell in the church, all who know her and their name is legion.”

Sources: “Musings and Memories,” poetry of Emmeline B. Wells. George Q. Cannon & Sons Co., 1896; "Emmeline B. Wells 1910-1921” from "Elect Ladies," by Janet Peterson and LaRene Gaunt, Shadow Mountain Publishers, 1990, GospeLink; “Emmeline B. Wells: Romantic Rebel”, from "Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons," by David J. Whittaker and Donald Q. Cannon, Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1985; “Emmeline B. Wells,” by Carol Cornwall Madsen, BYU Studies, vol. 22 (1982), GospeLink; “President Emmeline B. Wells,” by Susa Young Gates, Improvement Era, 1921, GospeLink; “Believing In the Light After Darkness: Emmeline B. Wells” by Elaine L. Jack, in "Heroines of the Restoration," edited by Blythe Darlyn Thatcher and Barbara B. Smith, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1997, GospeLink; "Representative Women of Deseret: Emmeline B. Wells,” MormonWomenHistory.org;“The West: Emmeline B. Wells,” PBS.org; “Emmeline B. Wells,” Wikipedia.com; “Emmeline B. Wells, Diary Excerpts,” GospeLink; “Emmeline B. Wells” from "They Knew the Prophet," by Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, Bookcraft, 1974, pp. 156-158.

Susan Evans McCloud is author of more than 40 books and has published screenplays, poetry and lyrics, including two songs in the LDS hymnbook. She has six children. She blogs at susanevansmccloud.blogspot.com.

Email: susasays@broadweave.net

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