Monday, March 10, 2008

Sarah De Armon Pea Rich

When mob persecution hit in Missouri, Sarah De Armon Pea Rich was at a similar stage in life as I am now - newlywed in her early twenties. It made her account feel very real to me.

Sarah and Charles Rich married near Caldwell County and were living in a log house in Far West, Missouri. She thought they were "the happyest couple in all the land." Their property was doing well, and she enjoyed having the opportunity to hear Joseph Smith preach on a weekly basis. Her parents had gone to visit Illinois when the mob violence began, and unable to return, they asked Sarah and Charles to stay in their home. While there, the Riches took in seven families that had been forced to leave their homes by the mobs; this was the most they felt they could provide for. Mobs camped near her home, and harassed the families often. When her husband tried to ride up to them with the white flag and make a truce, they shot at him, and he was forced to flee to Illinois to save his life. She was able to see him briefly before he left, and they planned to meet in Quincy when circumstances allowed for it. She was pregnant with their first child when he left, and it would be three months before she was able to travel to Quincy and rejoin him.

Sarah convinced the mobs that they had killed her husband, so they gave her peace for awhile, and she even managed to reclaim some of her property for a time. When they found out that her husband was alive, they stole her livestock and chickens, and threatened her: "[the mob] would often come to my house and tell me if I did not tell where he was hid, they would blow my brains out, at the same time pointing pistols at me." Sarah stood firm against the mob those three months, and then prepared to make the 400 mile journey to Quincy in the dead of the winter. Their journey was difficult, particularly the passage of the Mississippi River, and Sarah's health was poor, due to her pregnancy, but she did what she had to do to make the journey.

Sarah and Charles uprooted their family many time to follow God's will for them. They joined the Saints in Nauvoo & Utah, and then founded colonies in San Bernardino and the Bear Lake Valley (Utah/Idaho). The temple blessings she and her husband received in Nauvoo sustained them through their the periods of uncertainty. She states, "If it had not been for the faith and knowledge that was bestowed upon us in that temple by the influence and help of the Spirit of the Lord our journey would have been like one taking a leap in the dark."

I love Sarah's courage in the face of the mob. Her life was threatened time and time again, but she stayed strong and committed to her principles. In the portion of the account I read, Sarah strikes me as the kind of woman who did what the Lord wanted her to do without pitying herself - she didn't even mention her pregnancy until she explained that they had to cross the river immediately because she "knew not what moment I would be confined with my first child." :) Talk about understatement. Sarah knew that she was doing what the Lord wanted her to do, and didn't spend time lamenting the sacrifices she was asked to make; she knew the Lord's blessings were sure.

Women's Voices: An Untold History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900. Kenneth W. Godfrey, Audrey M. Godfrey, & Jill Mulvay Derr.
Leaving Nauvoo the Beautiful, July 2005 Ensign.

If you want to learn about her conversion to the gospel:
Aaronic priesthood manual 3, lesson 25, gives an account of her conversion. Love the account, love that it is in our youth manuals.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for all of these entries! I really appreciate your efforts on this blog.