118N - Catherine Spencer

"In the Midst of Thee" - volumes 1 & 2 contain 200 favorite Glenn Rawson Stories - at: History of the Saints . org

March 12, 1846, Indian Creek Camp, near Keosauqua, Iowa: Catherine Curtis Spencer was very ill. Still weak from childbirth, and afflicted by a severe cold, Catherine sank lower and lower as they traveled on. For days it had rained, rendering the prairies of Iowa an impassable mess. What had brought this beautiful and delicate mother to these difficult situations?

Catherine was born and reared in Massachusetts, “the youngest daughter of a numerous family…nurtured with fondness and peculiar care as the favorite of her father’s house.” When she came of age, she married Orson Spencer, a man of great intellectual and spiritual gifts, and together they had six children. Over time, Catherine proved herself “the glory of her husband and the solace and joy of her children.”

When the Latter-day Saints were preparing to leave Nauvoo for their journey west, Orson wrote to Catherine’s parents, asking if she might come for an extended visit. Now in the meantime, a child was born to them in Nauvoo that lived only a short time and died.

Then February 4, 1846, under the necessity of escaping the mobs, the Saints began crossing the Mississippi River for their journey to the West. Orson and Catherine were among them. Not far into Iowa Territory, the temperature plummeted to twelve degrees below zero. Then it warmed and the rain began to fall turning the roads into a quagmire. In the midst of these soaked and miserable conditions, living in a wagon, unable to get warm or dry, Catherine became ill and grew weaker and weaker. It seems that she sensed that she would not live, saying to her children, “Oh, you dear little children, how I do hope you may fall into kind hands when I am gone.”

Then a letter came from Catherine’s parents. She asked Orson to read it to her. They refused to allow her to visit, or to render any aid or comfort whatsoever until she denounced the religion they so much detested.

Catherine asked Orson to read to her from the Bible. Orson got the Bible. She asked him to open up to Ruth 1:16-17. Orson read this:

“…Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: [for] thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”

Soon after, Catherine asked to see each of her children. She gave “them a parting kiss.” Then turning to her grieving husband, she said, “I love you more than ever, but you must let me go. I only want to live for your sake and that of our children.”

Shortly thereafter, Catherine Curtis Spencer “…died in peace, with a smile upon her countenance.” She was only 35 years-old. Orson returned to Nauvoo, and in “the solitude of the night,” buried Catherine by her youngest child. It was said of her by another mother, “She was a kind mother to her beautiful children; a lady in every respect and left a beautiful family.” Years later, Catherine’s daughter, Aurelia Spencer Rogers, would organize the children of the Primary. (Source: E Cecil McGavin, The Mormon Pioneers.)

Glenn Rawson - 7 May 2012
Music: High on the Mountain Top - 25 Hymns of the Restoration (edited) - Michael Dowdle
Song: Happily Ever After - Jenny Phillips