Mormon Pioneer Jane Grover (1830-1873) traveled with the John Tanner family to Utah. In the summer of 1847, while camped with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint (often inadvertently called the Mormon Church), in Winter Quarters, Nebraska, Jane, 70 year old John Tanner, and three others went to gather berries. Jane recorded the harrowing and miraculous experience in her journal.
One morning we thought we would go and gather gooseberries. Father [John] Tanner harnessed a span of horses to a light wagon. And with his little granddaughter [Matilda], two Sisters Lyman [Matilda’s mother and Father Tanner’s daughter being one of them], and I, Father Tanner started out. When we reached the woods we told the old gentleman to go to a house which was in sight and rest while we picked the berries. It was not long before the little girl and I strayed some distance from the others, when we suddenly heard shouts. The little girl thought it was her grandfather, and she was going to answer, but I restrained her, thinking it might be Indians. We walked until within sight of Father Tanner, when we saw he was running his team around. As we approached we saw Indians gathering around the wagon, whooping and yelling as others came and joined them. When he saw us approaching, Father Tanner drove over and we got into the wagon to start, when four of the Indians took hold of the wagon wheels to stop the wagon, and two others held the horses by the bits, and another came to take me out of the wagon. I then began to be afraid, and asked Father Tanner to let me get out of the wagon and run for assistance. He said, “No, poor child, it is too late!”
I told him they should not take me alive. Father Tanner’s face was white as a sheet.
The Indians commenced to strip him of his belongings. They had taken his watch and handkerchief, and were trying to pull me out of the wagon. I began silently to appeal to my Heavenly Father. While praying and struggling, the Spirit of the Almighty fell upon me and I arose with great power, and no tongue can tell my feelings. I was as happy as I could be. A few moments before, I saw worse than death staring me in the face, and now my hand was raised by the power of God, and I talked with those Indians in their own language. They let go the horses and wagon, and stood in front of me while I talked to them by the power of God. They bowed their heads and answered yes in a way that made me know they understood. The little girl and Father Tanner looked on in speechless amazement.
I realized our situation. Their calculation was to kill Father Tanner, burn the wagon and take us women prisoners. This was plainly shown to me; but they were convinced by the power of God manifested through me, to change their minds. When I stopped talking, they shook hands with all three of us and returned all they had taken from Father Tanner, who gave them back the handkerchief, and I gave them berries and crackers. By this time the other young women came up and we hastened home.
The Lord gave me a portion of the interpretation of what I had said, which was as follows: “I suppose you Indian warriors think you are going to kill us. Don’t you know that the Great Spirit is watching you, and knows everything in your hearts? We have come out here to gather some of our Father’s fruit. We have not come to injure you, and if you harm us or injure one hair of our heads, the Great Spirit will smite you to the earth, and you will not have power to breathe another breath. We have been driven from our homes and so have you. We have come out here to do you good, not to injure you.
“We are the Lord’s people and so are you, but you must cease your murders and wickedness. The Lord is displeased with it and will not prosper you if you continue in it. You think you own all this land, this timber, this water, all these horses; why, you do not own one thing on earth, not even the air you breathe. It all belongs to the Great Spirit.”
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.