10 remarkable women in LDS Church history

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

5. Elizabeth Ann Claridge McCune (1852-1924)

In 1898, Joseph McMurrin of the European mission presidency wrote to the First Presidency that “if a number of bright and intelligent women were called on missions to England, the results would be excellent.”

As a result, the First Presidency decided to call and set apart single sister missionaries.

Elizabeth Ann Claridge McCune was instrumental in McMurrin’s decision to write the letter, according to "I Could Have Gone into Every House" on history.lds.org.

Raised in Utah and Nevada, McCune married her childhood sweetheart, successful businessman Alfred W. McCune.

In 1897, the McCunes embarked on a tour of Europe. While sightseeing, Elizabeth also planned to do some genealogical research. In preparation, she requested a priesthood blessing from LDS Church President Lorenzo Snow. During the blessing, he said, “Thy mind shall be as clear as an angel’s when explaining the principles of the gospel,” according to the lds.org history.

While in Europe, Elizabeth McCune accompanied the full-time missionaries to street meetings. She wanted to share the gospel like the elders.

After a former member of the church spread an anti-Mormon message in the community, McMurrin called on McCune to speak to a large crowd. Although nervous, her words helped to dispel the false message, and it became evident that women could reach hearts in a way the elders could not, according to the lds.org history.

“This incident opened my eyes as to the great work our sisters could do,” she wrote of the experience.

As a result of McCune's experience, Amanda Inez Knight and Lucy Jane Brimhall were set apart as the first single female proselytizing missionaries in LDS Church history on April 1, 1898. They were both assigned to the European Mission, according to the article.

6. Tsune Ishida Nachie (1856-1938)

When Tsune Ishida Nachie accepted a job to be the cook and housekeeper for the Japanese mission home in 1905, she didn’t know it would change her life.

According to a profile about Nachie written by Ardis E. Parshall in "Women of Faith in the Latter Days, Vol. 3," the new mission president, Alma O. Taylor, was 22 and unmarried. To avoid gossip, he hired the 49-year-old Nachie.

“President Taylor could not have known then that he found more than a cook and housekeeper,” Parshall wrote. “He had found a woman who would become a mother to a generation of missionaries, a tireless missionary herself and the first native Japanese temple worker.”

Nachie was a Christian for more than 20 years before working with the missionaries. She had also worked for several years as cook in the homes of Western businessmen and commanded a higher salary than the mission could pay, but she accepted because she was investigating the church, Parshall wrote. After a month, she approached one of the missionaries and requested baptism. The elder suggested she wait and learn more, but she was persistent and was eventually baptized.

She served as a faithful member of the LDS Church and mother for the missionaries for 18 years before a desire to go to the temple took her to Laie, Hawaii, in 1923, just ahead of an earthquake that devastated Tokyo in 1924. She was the first Japanese convert to enter the temple. In addition to doing temple work for the dead, she decided to personally proselyte among the Japanese of Hawaii. Eventually she was one of a small group of converts organized into the first Japanese branch of the church in Hawaii. She also lived to see the creation of a Japanese mission in Hawaii in 1937.

Nachie was later described as “a saint, if ever there was one, a wonderful woman,” Parshall wrote.

7. Susa Amelia Young Dunford Gates (1856-1933)

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere