10 remarkable women in LDS Church history

Published: Wednesday, May 7 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

The weary travelers were not well received in Nauvoo until they came to the Mansion House, where Joseph and Emma Smith welcomed them warmly. James lived in the Mansion House and was a household servant for the Smith family. The family invited her to be adopted, but James declined, according to a profile written by Margaret Blair Young in “Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Vol. 2.”

James was the only member of her family to go west with the Mormon pioneers after the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. She married Isaac James and had eight children.

Over the next several decades, James endured tremendous adversity in terms of divorce, poverty and the deaths of several children and grandchildren.

Young's narrative said that when James died in 1908, the Deseret News published this tribute: “Few persons were more noted for faith and faithfulness than was Jane Manning James, and though of the humble of earth numbered friends and acquaintances by the hundreds.”

3. Anstis Elmina Shepard Taylor (1830-1904)

Anstis Elmina Shepard Taylor was working as a schoolteacher at age 16 when she was introduced to the LDS Church. As she began to learn about the church, Taylor prayed she would be able to discern if it was true or false. Her prayer was answered as she studied the doctrine and felt it was true. Taylor knew her parents would not be happy if she joined the church, but she could not “silence her convictions” and was baptized, according to her profile on lds.org.

She soon married another convert, George Hamilton Taylor, and they moved from Omaha, Nebraska, to Salt Lake City. They had seven children, three of whom died in infancy or early childhood.

Taylor served in several church callings over the years, highlighted by her call as the first Young Women general president in 1880. She held this position until she died in 1904 at age 74. During those years, Taylor oversaw the publication of the first issue of the monthly Young Woman’s Journal, the organization of the first general Young Women conference and the designation of Tuesday as Mutual night, according to her profile.

Andrea G. Radke-Moss wrote this of Taylor in "Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Vol. 2": "She was remembered for her unselfish devotion, her zealous labors, her sweet disposition and her tender solicitude in young women’s behalf."

4. Emily Sophia Tanner Richards (1850-1929)

The name of Emily Sophia Tanner Richards may not be as prominent in Latter-day Saint women circles, but her story is worth telling, Chapman said.

“She’s kind of an unsung hero,” Chapman said.

Emily Tanner married Franklin Snyder Richards in 1869. Franklin Richards worked for many years as legal counsel for the LDS Church.

In addition to serving for more than 30 years on the Relief Society General Board, Emily Richards proposed that Utah organize a suffrage group to be affiliated with the National Woman Suffrage Association. She formed friendships with such leaders as Susan B. Anthony, Anna Howard Shaw and Carrie Chapman Catt.

According to a profile written by Radke-Moss in "Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Vol. 3," one highlight of Richards' efforts on behalf of Utah women was her participation in the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. She went with the endorsement of the church's First Presidency. Richards was also involved in social and peace activism.

“She was a splash hit,” Chapman said. “She had a wonderful way of interacting with people.”

It is also said of Richards that she always remained a devoted wife, mother and grandmother, Radke-Moss wrote.

“She was someone who balanced her public and domestic life and who was a model of feminism and femininity. Her beliefs in change and charity fed into a vast movement of activism for peace and social justice, and she believed strongly in the restored gospel while also promoting progressive political views," Radke-Moss wrote. "Richards was well traveled and well spoken, the model wife, mother, friend, hostess and individual ... a Relief Society and YLMIA leader … and advocate for the helpless.”

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