Eliza R. Snow
|Eliza R. Snow|
|2nd Relief Society General President|
|December 1866 – December 5, 1887|
|Successor||Zina D. H. Young|
|1st Secretary of the Relief Society|
|1842 – 1844|
|Born||Eliza Roxcy Snow
January 21, 1804
Becket, Massachusetts, United States
|Died||December 5, 1887
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
|Resting place||Mormon Pioneer Memorial Monument
|Spouse(s)||Joseph Smith (1842–44; sealed)
Brigham Young (1844–77; deceased)
|Parents||Oliver and Rosetta Snow|
Eliza Roxcy Snow (January 21, 1804 – December 5, 1887) was one of the most celebrated Mormon women of the nineteenth century. A renowned poet, she chronicled history, celebrated nature and relationships, and expounded scripture and doctrine. Snow was married to Joseph Smith as a plural wife and was openly a plural wife of Brigham Young after Smith's death. Snow was the second general president of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which she reestablished in Utah Territory in 1866. She was also the sister of Lorenzo Snow, the church's fifth president.
Born in Becket, Massachusetts, Snow was the second daughter of Oliver and Rosetta Snow. When she was two years old, her family left New England to settle on a new and fertile farm in the Western Reserve valley, in Mantua, Ohio. The Snow family valued learning and saw that each child had educational opportunities. Snow worked as secretary for her father in his office as justice of the peace.
Early church involvement
Snow's Baptist parents welcomed a variety of religious believers into their home. In 1828, Snow and her parents joined Alexander Campbell's Christian restorationist movement, the Disciples of Christ. In 1831, when Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, took up residence in Hiram, Ohio, four miles from the family's farm, the Snow family took a strong interest in the new religious movement. Snow's mother and sister joined Smith's Church of Christ early on; several years later, in 1835, Snow was baptized and moved to Kirtland, Ohio, the headquarters of the church. Upon her arrival, Snow donated her inheritance, a large sum of money, toward the building of the church's Kirtland Temple. In appreciation, the building committee provided her with the title to "a very valuable [lot]-situated near the Temple, with a fruit tree-an excellent spring of water, and house that accommodated two families." Here, Snow taught school for Smith's family and was influential in interesting her younger brother, Lorenzo, in Mormonism. Lorenzo Snow later became an apostle and the church's fifth president.
Snow moved west with her family and the body of the church, first to Adam-ondi-Ahman, a short-lived settlement in Missouri, and then to Nauvoo, Illinois. In the 1930's Alice Merrill Horne wrote in her autobiography that when she was a girl she overheard a conversation that in Missouri during the 1838 Mormon War, Eliza Snow was brutally gang-raped by eight Missourians, which left her unable to have children. Later, according to Alice Merrill Horne, Joseph Smith offered her marriage as a plural wife "as a way of promising her that she would still have eternal offspring and that she would be a mother in Zion."
In Nauvoo, Snow again made her living as a school teacher. After Smith's death, Snow claimed to have secretly wed him on June 29, 1842, as a plural wife. Snow wrote fondly of Smith, "my beloved husband, the choice of my heart and the crown of my life". However, Snow had organized a petition in that same summer of 1842, with a thousand female signatures, denying that Smith was connected with polygamy and extoling his virtue. As Secretary of the Ladies' Relief Society, she organized the publishing of a certificate in October 1842 denouncing polygamy and denying Smith as its creator or participant. Years later, when Snow was informed that Smith's first wife, Emma, had stated on her deathbed that her husband had never been a polygamist, Snow was reported to have stated she doubted the story but "If ... [this] was really [Sister Emma's] testimony she died with a libel on her lips".
After Smith's death, Snow married Brigham Young as a plural wife. She traveled west across the plains and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on October 2, 1847. There, childless Eliza became a prominent member of Young's family, moving into an upper bedroom in Young's Salt Lake City residence, the Lion House.
Relief Society service
The first Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized by Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois on March 17, 1842, as a philanthropic and women's educational organization. Snow served as the organization's first secretary, with Joseph Smith's wife, Emma Smith, as president. The organization was originally known as "The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo."  It later became known simply as "The Relief Society." For the next three years, Snow kept copious notes of the organization's meetings, including Joseph Smith's teachings on how the organization should operate. Members of the original Relief Society stopped meeting shortly after Smith's death in 1844, and the organization soon became defunct.
Brigham Young led a migration of LDS Church members to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, and for the next twenty years attempts were periodically made to reestablish the organization. Until 1868, however, activity was limited, and no sustained, church-wide Relief Society existed.
In 1868, Young commissioned Snow with reestablishing the Relief Society. For the next several years, Snow traveled throughout the Utah Territory helping LDS bishops organize Relief Societies in their local wards, using the notes she took as secretary in Nauvoo as the founding principles of the reestablished Relief Society. "What is the object of the Female Relief Society?" Snow wrote on one occasion. "I would reply--to do good--to bring into requisition every capacity we possess for doing good, not only in relieving the poor but in saving souls." Local Relief Societies soon fell under the umbrella of a church-wide, general Relief Society of which Snow served as president until 1887.
Snow's presidency emphasized spirituality and self-sufficiency. The Relief Society sent women to medical school, trained nurses, opened the Deseret Hospital, operated cooperative stores, promoted silk manufacture, saved wheat, and built granaries. In 1872, Snow provided assistance and advice to Louisa L. Greene in the creation of a woman's publication loosely affiliated with the Relief Society—the Woman's Exponent. Snow's responsibilities also extended to young women and children within the church. She was a primary organizer for the Young Ladies' Mutual Improvement Association in 1870 and assisted Aurelia Spencer Rogers in establishing the Primary Association in 1878.
Snow served as president of the Relief Society until her death in 1887. By 1888, the Relief Society had more than 22,000 members in 400 local congregations.
Snow died in Salt Lake City, and was buried in Brigham Young's family cemetery.
Snow wrote poetry from a young age, one time even writing school lessons in rhyme. Between 1826 and 1832, she published more than 20 poems in local newspapers under various pen names, including the Western Courier of Ravenna, Ohio, and the Ohio Star. A number of Snow's poems were set to music and have become important Mormon hymns, some of which appear in the current edition of the LDS Church's hymnal. One of her hymns, "Great is the Lord", was published in the first Latter Day Saint hymnal in 1835, the year of her baptism.
In Nauvoo, Snow gained unique distinction as a Mormon poet featured in local newspapers, and she was later called "Zion's Poetess." She continued to write poems as she journeyed to the Salt Lake Valley, documenting the pioneer trail and life in Utah. The first of her two volumes of Poems, Religious, Historical, and Political appeared in 1856, followed by the second in 1877. Some of her poems include:
- "How Great the Wisdom and the Love"
- "Invocation, or the Eternal Father and Mother" [retitled "O My Father"]
- "Be Not Discouraged"
- "My First View of a Western Prairie"
- "Mental Gas"
- "Think not When You Gather to Zion Your Troubles and Trials are Through"
- "O Awake! My Slumbering Minstrel"
- "Truth Reflects upon Our Senses"
One of her best-known poems, "Invocation, or the Eternal Father and Mother," was written soon after the death of her father and just over a year after the death of Joseph Smith. The poem, renamed "O My Father" after the first line, is included in the current LDS Church's hymnal, as are Snow's hymns "Great is the Lord"; "Again We Meet Around the Board"; "Awake, Ye Saints of God, Awake!"; "How Great the Wisdom and the Love"; "The Time Is Far Spent"; "In Our Lovely Deseret"; "Though Deepening Trials"; "Behold the Great Redeemer Die"; and "Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses".
- Snow, Eliza R. (1856). Poems: Religious, Historical and Political, Volume 1. Liverpool: F.D. Richards. OCLC 6549748.
- Smith, George A.; Snow, Lorenzo; Schettler, Paul A.; Snow, Eliza R. (1875). Correspondence of Palestine Tourists: Comprising a Series of Letters by George A. Smith, Lorenzo Snow, Paul A. Schettler, and Eliza R. Snow, of Utah: Mostly Written While Traveling in Europe, Asia and Africa in the Years 1872 and 1873. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Steam Printing Establishment. OCLC 85796473.
- Snow, Eliza R. (1877). Poems: Religious, Historical and Political, Volume 2. Salt Lake City: The Latter-day Saints Printing and Publishing Establishment. OCLC 6549777.
- —— (1880). Hymns and Songs: Selected From Various Authors, for the Primary Associations of the Children of Zion. Salt Lake City: Deseret News. OCLC 5330531.
- —— (1880). Children's Primary Tune Book. Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office.
- —— (1881). Bible Questions and Answers for Children. Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office. OCLC 228702929.
- —— (1884). Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City: Deseret News. OCLC 4623484.
- Snow, Eliza R. (1995). Beecher, Maureen Ursenbach, ed. The Personal Writings of Eliza Roxcy Snow. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. ISBN 0874804779. OCLC 32241408.
- —— (2009). Derr, Jill Mulvay; Davidson, Karen Lynn, eds. Eliza R. Snow: the complete poetry. Provo and Salt Lake City: Brigham Young University Press and University of Utah Press. ISBN 9780842527378. OCLC 320697542.
- Beecher, Maureen Ursenbach (1992). "Snow, Eliza R.". In Ludlow, Daniel H. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing. pp. 1364–1367. ISBN 0-02-879602-0. OCLC 24502140.
In December 1866, following the Civil War, President Young once more saw need for the Women to be organized, and called Eliza R Snow to "head up" the movement, this time on an all-church basis.
- Although Snow was the churchwide leader of the Relief Society since 1866 or 1867, she was not officially sustained as its president until June 19, 1880, following the death of Emma Smith, the first such president. See:
- Roseann Benson (2011). "Primary Association Pioneers: An Early History". In David J. Whittaker; Arnold K. Garr. A Firm Foundation: Church Organization and Administration. Religious Studies Center. Retrieved 2015-08-27.
- Carol Cornwall Madsen (2004). "The 'Elect Lady' Revelation (D&C 25): Its Historical and Doctrinal Context". In Craig K. Manscill. Sperry Symposium Classics: The Doctrine and Covenants. Religious Studies Center. Retrieved 2015-08-27.
- Jill Mulvay Derr; Janath R. Cannon (1992). "Relief Society". Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Macmillan. Retrieved 2015-08-27.
- "Appendix 1: Biographical Register of General Church Officers". Encyclopedia of Mormonism. p. 1647.
- Peggy Fletcher Stack, "Shocking historical finding: Mormon icon Eliza R. Snow was gang-raped by Missouri ruffians", The Salt Lake Tribune, 3 March 2016.
- "The Significance of "O My Father" in the Personal Journey of Eliza R. Snow" (PDF). BYU Studies (Brigham Young University) 36 (1): 87. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- Times and Seasons 3 [(August 1, 1842): 869.
- Times and Seasons 3 (October 1, 1842): 940.
- Newell, L.K. & Avery, V.T. (1994) Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, pp. 307-08, quoting Women's Exponent.[full citation needed]
- Derr, Jill Mulvay (2016). The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saints Women's History. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church Historian's Press. pp. 3–16, 23–26. ISBN 9781629721507.
- Derr, Jill Mulvay (2016). The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women's History. Salt Lake City: The Church Historian's Press. p. 271. ISBN 9781629721507.
- Derr, Jill Mulvay (2016). The First Fifty Years of Relief Society. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church Historian's Press. pp. 177–187. ISBN 9781629721507.
- Derr, Jill Mulvay (2016). The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women's History. SLC, UT: The Church Historian's Press. pp. 235–255. ISBN 9781629721507.
- Derr, Jill Mulvay (2016). The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women's History. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church Historian's Press. pp. 272–273. ISBN 9781629721507.
- How Great the Wisdom and the Love, Mormon Literature Website, BYU
- Invocation, or the Eternal Father and Mother, Mormon Literature Website, BYU
- Be Not Discouraged, Mormon Literature Website, BYU
- My First View of a Western Prairie, Mormon Literature Website, BYU
- Mental Gas, Mormon Literature Website, BYU
- See "Life's Railway to Heaven" as first published by Charles Davis Tillman.
- Snow, E.R. "My Father in Heaven", Times and Seasons 6 (November 15, 1845).
- The Life and Labors of Eliza R. Snow Smith: with a full account of her funeral services. Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office. 1888. OCLC 10352533.
- Palmer, Spencer J., Editor. "Eliza R. Snow's 'Sketch of my Life': Reminiscences of One of Joseph Smith's Plural Wives." BYU Studies 12 (Autumn 1971).
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Eliza Roxcy Snow
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Eliza R. Snow.|
- Eliza R. Snow at Joseph Fielding Smith Institute
- Biography at The Joseph Smith Papers Project.
- Eliza R. Snow letters, Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library, L. Tom Perry Special Collections
|The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles|
Emma Hale Smith
|Relief Society General President
December 1866 – December 5, 1887
Zina D. H. Young