Posted by: 2thdocbob | 28 July 2019

Blessed, Honored Pioneers

The following approximates the talk I gave in Highlands Ward this morning. My assignment was to speak without text for ten minutes, which I did. This is a reconstruction of my talk, as I remember it. The exception is the poem Jacob Peart, Sr. wrote, which was added this afternoon as I fact-checked my story for accuracy. It was not part of my talk.

I am profoundly grateful for the sacrifices of my ancestors to embrace the true restored gospel of Jesus Christ, regardless of personal cost. I am also deeply grateful to my parents, grandparents, and my Uncle Donald Peart, who invested countless hours (and shekels) to search out our family history.

When I was turning twelve, I had already developed an interest in family history. My Uncle Don, who had been deeply involved in research, sent my a copy of my four-generation family group sheets along with a short letter, which made a deep impression on me. He encouraged me in my interest in family history, and then wrote that he was sharing a thought that he hoped would come to mean as much to me as it has to him: “No one shall know my ancestors better than I.”

That thought has stuck with me all these years. As I read and retell the stories  of my pioneer ancestors, I am thankful for all he did. When my dad retired, he and mom began compiling family histories, complete with photos and documents. Each Christmas I looked forward to receiving another CD full of new information. Last year, my dad handed me one, and told me “this is the last one.”

I am deeply grateful for our shared pioneer heritage. Whether you come from pioneer stock, or share the heritage as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ, you are a part of the pioneer heritage. And those of you who are first and second generation members of the Church are certainly pioneers, as you blaze new trails in your own lives. In many ways, you are experiencing many of the same challenges that our pioneer ancestors faced.

In a sense, aren’t we all pioneers, as we face new challenges and opportunities in our lives? President Hinckley has said that the challenges we face today are no less difficult than those the pioneers of last century had to face. And I sometimes think I would rather deal with crossing the plains than with many of the challenges of modern life.

I have felt prompted to share some of the life of Jacob Peart, Sr., my third great grandfather. Jacob was born and lived in Alston, Cumberland, England, an area with many sheep farms, and metal mining.

Jacob Peart Sr_edited-1

As we know, the first missionaries came to England in 1837. One of the missionaries, Isaac Russell, felt inspired to share the gospel with relatives who lived up the coast from Liverpool. He shared the restored gospel with his cousin Jacob Peart, who, with his family members who were of age, were among the first converts to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. He was a faithful member in the Alston Branch.

When the Brethren returned to America, Jacob was assigned to watch over the Branch (Branch President) and to assist the members in their preparations to migrate to America. Eventually, in 1841, Jacob Peart, Sr. along with his wife and six children, left heir homeland for Zion. Within a few months of their arrival, Jacob’s wife passed away, followed in the next 18 months by their four daughters. About a year later, a son also passed away, leaving Jacob, Jr. as the only surviving child. The records state that he, too, became very ill, but was healed by “the power of faith.,” under the administration of the Prophet Joseph.

Jacob, Sr. was a poet, and wrote the following about the loss of his beloved Elizabeth:

“In Joseph’s city lies.
Deep in the earth’s cold bed.
The partner of my youth.
There numbered with the dead.

“Her heart was full of love.
While actions graced her soul;
Truth was the language of her heart.
And all her ways control,

“Her love to me was great;
I never shall forget;
Though heaven and earth shall pass away,
I will remember yet.

“How lovely and how pure
Sweet and serene her mind.
Her duties, cheerful to perform,
Was ever her design.

“The time is rolling round.
When we again shall meet;
With everlasting glory crowned.
And happiness complete.”

In spite of this great loss, he did not complain, nor did he lose faith in the gospel. He wrote: “These Bereavements were great trials to me, but I knew the work of God was true, and I was at all times ready to say thy will be done.” Can you imagine bearing a loss like this with such courage?

Both Jacob, Sr. and Jacob, Jr. recorded the day the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum were returned to Nauvoo, and the great sorrow that was felt as the wagon traveled down the street. Jacob, Jr., at eight years old, was deeply touched seeing the bodies of these great men, a memory which he carried for the remainder of his life.

At the age of eight, Jacob, Jr. witnessed the Elders baptizing in the Mississippi River. He requested baptism and became a full-fledged member of the Church.

When the Saints were expelled from Nauvoo, many of the men and boys sought work outside of Nauvoo to raise badly needed funds for the trek west. Jacob, Sr., went to St. Joseph, Missouri to work and to get outfitted to go west with the Vanguard Company, the first company of pioneers in 1847. A severe storm delayed his journey, and he arrived in Winter Quarters three days late for the departure. Jacob gave away all his provisions, and went back to work. The two Jacobs, with Jacob, Sr.’s new wife, went to Salt Lake City in 1848, in the Brigham Young company.

There, he remained a faithful member of the Church. He was said to have been reliable and respected. He died in Jacob, Jr.’s home in 1874.

As a young adult, Jacob, Jr. was called to the Cotton Mission in Southern Utah. While there, he did something that suggests one the sources of my own sense of humor. He sat atop one of the bluffs south of what is now Saint George, tending sheep. He had plenty of time for reflection, and we believe that the irony of his position struck him. He had been called to grow cotton, and there he sat raising wool, instead.

One day, he climbed onto the sandstone face of the bluff and carved into the sandstone “I was set here to rais cotton” [sic]. This was accompanied by a picture of a cotton tree, and a head, presumably Brigham Young’s.

Jacob, Jr. was also a faithful member, who remained true to his covenants.

I pray that we may all remain faithful to our covenants, in spite of the challenges that may confront us.

I testify that as we remain true and strive to follow the Savior, we will enjoy blessings that are wonderful beyond anything we can imagine.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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