Jane's decision to be baptized had a profound influence on the path her life would take. Her life would be full of hardships, but she emerged strong and faithful.
Not long after her baptism, she met and married Franklin Richards, and they started their family. Jane was one of the individuals present at the meeting where Brigham Young was recognized as the successor to Joseph Smith. She was attending with her young child, and she had bent over to pick up the plaything her child had tossed to the floor (glad to see that some aspects of church meetings never change). While her attention was diverted, Brigham Young took the stand. When he began to speak, she heard the voice of Joseph Smith, and when she looked up, she saw Joseph's image.
When she and her husband fled the persecution in Nauvoo, she was very pregnant with her second child. At Sugar Creek, her husband was called to serve a mission, leaving Jane alone. Because of the hardships she endured on the trail, both of Jane's children died. In both situations, when she pleaded for help from those in the communities they crossed, she was treated cruelly - one woman sent her dogs after her, and the midwife she sought robbed her. Her own health was frail while she stayed at Winter Quarters. I can't imagine how abandoned and alone she must have felt as she lay in her bed. Yet she stayed faithful, and did what had to be done.
Her husband returned from her mission, and they made the trek to Utah. When she arrived, she became deathly ill again, and her life was once again spared by the power of the priesthood. Once her health returned, she became an active part of the community. Although she was a woman that "dreaded publicity," she became actively involved in the Relief Society organization, doing branch visits with Eliza R. Snow, becoming Relief Society president of the Weber stake, and eventually becoming first counselor of general RS president Zina D.H. Young. She met with Belva Lockwood and Susan B. Anthony, and attended the National Council of Women in 1891. She was dedicated to temple work. I love that she, like many other women from her time, were able to put aside their inhibitions and let the Lord use them for good.
A statement Orson Whitney made of her really stuck with me. He said she was "independent and outspoken, [yet] she is still reverential and respectful to authority." That is a difficult balance to find, and I'm impressed that she did it so gracefully. I'm grateful for her example of faith, service, and ability to hear and act on promptings from the Holy Ghost.
Jane Snyder Richards, History of Utah, Orson F. Whitney