In the state of Utah, every 24th of July, we celebrate our pioneer ancestors who sacrificed so much so that they could have a place where they could freely worship their religion and raise their families in the gospel of Jesus Christ. These people were simply amazing. I have read many stories over the years about their exemplary lives. Every time I read or hear a story, I feel such a sweet feeling of gratitude, humility, and reverence. These people faced death so that they could have a place where future generations could worship God in peace. I am part of that future generation and I am so honored to have family ties with some of these amazing people.
James and Eliza Hurren
Meet James and Eliza Hurren- my 4th great grandparents. When I look at this photo of them I see sheer grit, determination, and fatigue. They truly lived a hard life- day in and day out.
They converted to the LDS faith in 1851 while living in England. In April of 1856, they joined a group of other LDS families and set sail for America. They wanted religious freedom and were eager to join the Saints in Utah.
Mary's story is well known among pioneer stories and I feel humbled to be related to this great and faithful lady. I look forward to the day when I will be able to speak with her face to face, to feel of her love for the Savior and hear her testimony of faith and sacrifice and the blessings that come into your life because of them.
Here is a small portion of information from the lives of James, Eliza, and Mary. I am so grateful for the technology that we have that gives us wonderful tools like Family Search so that we can share and find important stories and documents about our ancestors.
James and Eliza had 4 daughters. Their oldest, Mary, is my 3rd great grandmother. She was seven years old when they started their trek to Utah. Their youngest daughter, Selena, was born while they were in Iowa City and passed away 2 weeks into their journey across the plains.
In spite of the strains and the weariness, everyone tried to be cheerful and encouraging. James was especially valiant, and tried to see the humor in the situations that arose, and make others laugh and smile...During the bleakest periods, James retained his hope and faith. He encouraged those around him to do their best to weather the adverse circumstances, to think of the opportunities ahead in Zion and the blessings in store if they endured and tried to be of service. (I loved reading this part about him. I feel like I inherited some of these personality traits from him. :)
The weather grew colder each day and Mary's feet eventually froze. When the family finally made it to the valley, their first concern was little Mary's feet...The doctor said they would need to be amputated to which James protested, 'This little girl did not walk a thousand miles to have her legs cut off. If she dies, she will die with her legs on.' Once the family settled in Brigham City an elderly lady there told them to wrap Mary's feet with beefsteak and call her after three days. James had to walk 20 miles to Ogden to acquire some steak and then walk 20 miles back home. After the three days, this elderly woman, a Mrs. Snider, applied some homemade ointment to Mary's feet. Within a few days the rotten flesh had dropped off. Mary was able to walk again after two years. Her feet hurt her all her life, but she became the mother of 13 children. She also took in a ten-year old with tuberculosis and cared for her until she died four years later.
After they arrived in the valley, James and Eliza were asked how they felt about their ordeal. They were quick to reply, 'With all our trials, our weary traveling, burying our dear ones, piling our clothing and bedding by the wayside and setting them on fire, we have never once felt to murmur or complain or regret the steps we have taken.'"
I come from an incredible heritage. The more I read about my ancestors from every side of my family, the more I realize what a blessing they are to me even though I was not able to know them in this life. What a great and wonderful blessing families are. I feel very fortunate to have these families and to hopefully be the kind of person that my great, great, great grandchildren will read about and say, "Wow. She was an amazing person who loved the Lord and who was not afraid to do hard things."