The following was an article originally published in the September 1929 Volume XXXII issue of The Improvement Era, an official publication of the Church until 1970. The account was written by LeRoi C. Snow, of the General Board of Y.M.M.I.A. Excerpts of the article were republished on LDSLiving and also on Meridian Magazine on 31 March 2016. This full account was found on the internet at Thoughts and Family History Stories by Pal and Wayne.
This story…shows the fulfillment of a prophecy made [to] Lorenzo Snow…when he was 22, [in his] patriarchal blessing, [given by] the Prophet’s father, Joseph Smith, Sen. This blessing was given in the Kirtland Temple. Among other things were these promises: “Thou shalt become a mighty man. Thy faith shall increase and grow stronger until it shall become like Peter’s—thou shalt restore the sick; the diseased shall send to thee their aprons and handkerchiefs and by thy touch their owners shall be made whole. The dead shall rise and come forth at thy bidding.”
For several long weeks Ella Jensen lingered, almost between life and death, with scarlet fever. In order to relieve the tired parents from their weary hours of loving care, kind neighbors took turns in staying at the Jensen home overnight to help look after the sick girl. This particular evening the sick girl became very much worse. Leah Rees, a thoughtful friend, had come about 8:00 to remain until about 8 the next morning. Ella was so weak that she could hardly speak above a whisper. “Ella asked me to sing and play for her,” Leah says, “but, goodness, I was so worried about her condition. I felt more like crying. I sat down at the organ and began to play and sing but broke down and had to quit.”
After Ella had gone to sleep, Leah lay down on a couch in the room, and also dropped off to sleep.
Makes Preparations to Die
Leah continues: “About three or four o’clock in the morning I was suddenly awakened by Ella calling me. I hurried to her bed. She was all excited and asked me to get the comb, brush and scissors, explaining that she wanted to brush her hair and trim her finger nails and get all ready, ‘for,’ she said, ‘they are coming to get me at 10:00 in the morning’. “I asked who was coming to get her. ‘Uncle Hans Jensen,’ she replied, ‘and the messengers. I am going to die and they are coming at l0:00 to get me and take me away.’ I tried to quiet her, saying that she would feel better in the morning if she would try to sleep. ‘No,’ she said, ‘I am not going to sleep any more, but spend all the time getting ready.’
She insisted that I get the comb, hair-brush and scissors, which I did, but she was so weak that she could not use them. “As I was brushing her hair, she asked me to call her parents. I explained that they were tired and asleep and that it would be better not to disturb them. ‘Yes,’ Ella replied, ‘you must call them. I want to tell them now.’ “The parents were called and as they entered the room the daughter told them that her Uncle Hans, who was dead, had suddenly appeared in the room, while she was awake, with her eyes open, and told her that messengers would be there at 10:00 to conduct her into the spirit world. The father and mother feared that the girl was delirious and tried to get her to be quiet and go to sleep. She knew their thoughts and said: ‘I know what I am talking about. No, I am not going to sleep any more. I know I am going to die and that they are coming to get me.’
At about 8:00 Leah left the house, realizing that the sick girl was gradually sinking. The father and mother remained at the bedside.
Towards 10:00, Uncle Jake, the father, who was holding his daughter’s hand, felt the pulse become very weak. A few moments later he turned to his wife saying: “Althea, she is dead, her pulse has stopped.” The heart-broken parents wept and grieved at the loss of their beautiful daughter. [Ella’s uncle, Jacob Jensen, continues] “I told my wife that I would go to town, more than a mile from home, and see President Snow, tell him about her death and have him arrange for the funeral. I went out to the barn, hitched up, and drove to the tabernacle where President Lorenzo Snow, whom we all loved so much, was in meeting. I…wrote a note and had it sent to [him while] he was speaking to the congregation. When the note was placed upon the pulpit, President Snow stopped his talking, read the note and then explained to the Saints that it was a call to visit some people who were in deep sorrow and asked to be excused.
“President Snow came into the vestry and after I told him what had happened he meditated a moment or two and then said: ‘I will go down with you.’ Just as we were about to leave, President Snow stopped me, saying: ‘Wait a moment. I wish you would go into the meeting and get Brother Clawson. I want him to go also.’ President Clawson was then president of the Box Elder stake.”
Priesthood of God Steps In
I…took them both down to [Ella’s] house. After standing at Ella’s bedside for a minute or two, President Snow asked if we had any consecrated oil in the house. I was greatly surprised, but told him yes and got it for him. He handed the bottle of oil to Brother Clawson and asked him to anoint Ella. [President Snow] was then voice in confirming the anointing.
“During the administration I was particularly impressed with some of the words which he used and can well remember them now. He said: ‘Dear Ella, I command you, in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to come back and live, your mission is not ended. You shall yet live to perform a great mission.’ “He said she should yet live to rear a large family and be a comfort to her parents and friends. I well remember these words.”
A Call Heard Beyond the Veil
[From President Clawson] “…President Snow blessed her and among other things, used this very extraordinary expression, in a commanding tone of voice, ‘Come back, Ella, come back. Your work upon the earth is not yet completed, come back.’ Shortly afterward we left the home.” [Ella’s Uncle Jake continues]: “After President Snow had finished the blessing, he turned to my wife and me and said: ‘Now do not mourn or grieve any more. It will be all right. Brother Clawson and I are busy and must go, we cannot stay, but you just be patient and wait, and do not mourn, because it will be all right.”
As already stated, it was 10:00 in the morning when Ella died. It was towards noon when Jacob Jensen reported to President Snow at the tabernacle service, and not long after 12:00 noon, when President Snow and President Clawson left the home after the administration. The news of the death spread about the city. Friends continued to call at the home, express their sympathy to the sorrowing parents and leave. Continuing in Uncle Jake’s words: “Ella remained in this condition for more than an hour after President Snow administered to her, or more than three hours in all after she died. We were sitting there watching by the bedside, her mother and myself, when all at once she opened her eyes. She looked about the room, saw us sitting there, but still looked for someone else, and the first thing she said was: ‘Where is he? Where is he?’ We asked, ‘Who? Where is who?’ ‘Why, Brother Snow,’ she replied. ‘He called me back.’
Unwilling to Come Back
We explained that Brother Snow and Brother Clawson were very busy and could not remain, that they had gone. Ella dropped her head back on the pillow, saying: ‘Why did he call me back? I was so happy and did not want to come back.’ Then Ella Jensen began to relate her marvelous experiences, marvelous both as to the incidents themselves, and as to the great number of them that occurred in the short space of between three and four hours.
“I could see people from the other world and hear the most delightful music and singing that I ever heard. This singing lasted for six hours, during which time I was preparing to leave this earth, and I could hear it all through the house. At 10:00 my spirit left my body. It took me some time to make up my mind to go, as I could hear and see the folks crying and mourning over me. It was very hard for me to leave them, but as soon as I had a glimpse of the other world I was anxious to go and all care and worry left me. “I entered a large hall. It was so long that I could not see the end of it. It was filled with people. As I went through the throng, the first person I recognized was my grandpa, Hans Peter Jensen, who was sitting in one end of the room, writing. He looked up, seemed surprised to see me and said: ‘Why! There is my granddaughter, Ella.’ He was very much pleased, greeted me and, as he continued with his writing, I passed on through the room and met a great many of my relatives and friends.
It was like going along the crowded street of a large city where you meet many people, only a very few of whom you recognize. “The next one I knew was Uncle Hans Jensen with his wife Mary Ellen. They had two small children with them. On inquiring who they were, he told me one was his own and the other was Uncle Will’s little girl. Some seemed to be in family groups. As there were only a few whom I could recognize and who knew me, I kept moving on. “Some inquired about their friends and relatives on the earth. Among the number was my cousin. He asked me how the folks were getting along and said it grieved him to hear that some of the boys were using tobacco, liquor and many things that were injurious to them. “This proved to me that the people in the other world know to a great extent what happens here on the earth.
“The people were all dressed in white or cream, excepting Uncle Hans Jensen, who had on his dark clothes and long rubber boots, the things he wore when he was drowned in the Snake River in Idaho. “Everybody appeared to be perfectly happy. I was having a very pleasant visit with each one that I knew. Finally I reached the end of that long room. I opened a door and went into another room filled with children. They were all arranged in perfect order, the smallest ones first, then larger ones, according to age and size, the largest ones in the back rows all around the room. They seemed to be convened in a sort of Primary or Sunday School presided over by Aunt Eliza R. Snow. There were hundreds of small children.
Hears the Command to Return
It was while I was standing listening to the children sing that I heard your father, President Lorenzo Snow, call me. He said: ‘Sister Ella, you must come back, as your mission is not yet finished here on earth.’ So I just spoke to Aunt Eliza R. Snow and told her I must go back. ‘Returning through the large room, I told the people I was going back to earth, but they seemed to want me to stay with them. I obeyed the call, though it was very much against my desire, as such perfect peace and happiness prevailed there, no suffering, no sorrow. I was so taken up with all I saw and heard, I did hate to leave that beautiful place.
“This has always been a source of comfort to me. I learned by this experience that we should not grieve too much for our departed loved ones and especially at the time they leave us. I think we should be just as calm and quiet as possible. Because, as I was leaving, the only regret I had was that the folks were grieving so much for me. But I soon forgot all about this world in my delight with the other. “For more than three hours my spirit was gone from my body. As I returned I could see my body lying on the bed and the folks gathered about in the room. I hesitated for a moment, then thought, ‘Yes, I will go back for a little while.’ I told the folks I wanted to stay only a short time to comfort them.”
The Pain of Coming Back
Ella’s oldest sister, Meda, says that Ella frequently told of the terrible suffering which she experienced when the spirit again entered the body. There was practically no pain on leaving the body in death but the intense pain was almost unbearable in coming back to life. [Uncle Jake continues]: …[Ella said she] met a number of relatives and friends. I know there were some whom she had never seen in life. She described to me just how they looked and told me their names. Among these were aunts and second cousins long since dead. There is no question that they were the ones whom we had laid away before she was born.
Converses with Friends and Relatives
The next day…Aunt Harriet Wight, who had lost two daughters came into [Ella’s] room and broke down and cried and Ella then said: ‘Why, Aunt Harriet, what are you crying for. You need not cry for your girls who had gone. I saw and talked with them, and they are very happy where they are.’ “Many relatives and others visited Ella and she told them the same things, and much more, about meeting their relatives and friends over there, how happy they were and that they asked about their loved ones here.
Meets a Little Friend
But a Few Hours Dead [Alphonso Snow, Lorenzo Snow’s son, relates the following:] My wife, Minnie, and I heard of Ella Jensen’s death and called at her home. As we entered the room she said: ‘Oh! Come here, I have something to tell you. I had one experience that seemed very strange, and I could not understand it. “’You know your little son, Alphie, has been in my Sunday School class. While I was in Aunt Eliza R. Snow’s class of children in the spirit world, I recognized many children. But all of them had died excepting one, and this was little Alphie. I could not understand how he should be among them and still be living. When I told this to mother she said: ‘Yes, Ella, little Alphie is dead, too. He died early this morning while you were so very sick. We knew you loved him and that it would be a shock to you, so we did not tell you about his death.’ [Alphonso continues:] She said it was not right for us to grieve and mourn so much for him and that he would be happier if we would not do so.”
[Perhaps President Clawson gives the most complete account of Ella’s visit to the spirit world] “After a brief chat with her grandfather she passed on through the building, glancing at the people as she walked along. Finally her eye rested upon the familiar face of Hans Jensen, her uncle. When she saw him, what to her and others had been an enigma, was now clearly explained. “Sometime before this advent into the spirit world her Uncle Hans, who lived in Brigham City, counseled with me as president of the stake as to the propriety of moving into the Snake River country, Idaho, to engage in salmon fishing. His idea was that if he was successful he could ship salmon from the north to Brigham City at a good profit and thus benefit himself financially. He needed the help that such a business would bring him. “Later he left for the North…One morning he went from the home where he was staying, clothed in a jumper and overalls, with gum boots to fish; but he never returned.
His oldest brother, Jacob Jensen, came to me greatly alarmed, said that no word had been received from Hans for some time and nobody seemed to know where he was. He was greatly excited about it and feared that his brother had been drowned in the Snake River. “Jacob organized a posse of men and at once instituted a search covering a period of some two or three weeks, at the Snake River, but their efforts were fruitless. No trace could be found of Hans and he was never again heard from until his niece, Ella Jensen, met him in the spirit world. She said that he was dressed in a jumper and overalls with gum boots.
The mystery was solved. “There seemed to be no doubt thereafter that Hans Jensen was drowned in the Snake River. It is said that when the dead manifest themselves to the living they usually appear as they were last seen on earth so that the living will recognize them. If that be true, it accounts for the strange habit that her uncle was wearing.” In Conclusion “It may well be thought that Ella Jensen’s work on earth was not yet completed, as indicated by President Snow, for she afterwards…married and became a mother in Israel, and surely a woman can do no greater work in the world than to become a mother of men.” Ella Jensen was born August 3, 1871. The experience related in this article occurred March 3, 1891, in her twentieth year. She married Henry Wight, March 20, 1895. Of their eight children six are living and they have six grandchildren.