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5 Awe-Inspiring Miracles Witnessed By the Pioneers

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This Sunday, July 24, marks the 175th anniversary of the Latter-day Saint pioneer’s arrival in the Salt Lake Valley. Those faithful pioneers, and many who followed, suffered countless hardships and heartache. But they also kept their faith and were blessed by the Lord in miraculous ways. In honor of Pioneer Day, and to remember the wonderful blessing God bestows on his people, here are five miracles witnessed by the pioneers.

President Young With Rays of Light Around His Head

While crossing the plains of Wyoming, Samuel Taylor Orton ran low on food and found himself too weak to pull his handcart. When he asked the Lord to let him die, he heard a voice say, “Sam, are you here?” Astonished, Samuel turned to find no one around him.

Later, while contemplating what he expected in Salt Lake City, Samuel decided, “if the Father and the Son did appear to the Prophet Joseph Smith and reveal the gospel unto him, and Brigham Young was his lawful successor, I wanted to see the halo of light around his head, like there was around the head of the Savior on nearly all of the pictures we see.”

The Sunday after Samuel arrived in Salt Lake, he attended a church service and saw Brigham Young walk in. As Samuel looked at him, the rays of light shone around his head, and knew his request had been granted.

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A Pile of Dry Bread

When Mons and Elna Larson went west with a pioneer company in 1859 they found themselves in danger of starvation. Their provisions were running out quickly and each member of the company was limited to one pint of flour per day.

One evening during troubled time, Elna felt inspired to walk to a tree she saw in the distance. She was extremely surprised to find a pile of dry bread sitting under the tree. She brought it back to camp, and together with some fish Mons caught, they were able to survive until help could arrive.

Two Biscuits

Ann J. Rowley, a member of the Willie Handcart company wrote: “Night was coming and there was no food for the evening meal. I asked God’s help as I always did. I got on my knees, remembering two hard sea biscuits that were still in my trunk . . . left over from the sea voyage, they were not large, and were so hard, they couldn’t be broken. Surely, that was not enough to feed 8 people, but 5 loaves and 2 fishes were not enough to feed 5000 people either, but through a miracle, Jesus had done it. So, with God’s help, nothing is impossible. I found the biscuits and put them in a dutch oven and covered them with water and asked for God’s blessing, then I put the lid on the pan and set it on the coals. When I took off the lid a little later, I found the pan filled with food. I kneeled with my family and thanked God for his goodness.”

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Crossing Deep Water

Luella M. Atkin recorded this story of her grandfather William Atkin, a member of the 1859 Rowley Handcart company:

“[Your grandma and I] traveled on until dark and again camped alone. Although we were in Indian country and nearly every white man we met was an avowed enemy of the Mormon people, yet we were not afraid, but laid down and took sweet rest.

“In the morning we started out early and on arriving at the Green River, we found that our company had crossed it the night before and they were gone out of sight. Your grandma and I looked at the river and I said to her, ‘We cannot cross this river alone.’ She replied, ‘No, but the Lord will help us over.’ At these words my heart seemed to leap for joy and I said, ‘Yes, He surely will.’ We then knelt down and in all humility told our Heavenly Father that we were doing all in our power to keep His commandments and to gather to Zion; and now we had come to this river and could not cross it alone. We knew He could help us and we now relied on Him to assist us over.

“Your grandma and I then pulled our cart into the river, which was swollen; we could see the deep water just ahead of us, but every step we took the deep water was still one step ahead of us, and we landed on the western bank without even wetting the axletree of our cart. Our hearts were full of gratitude to our Heavenly Father for thus again answering our prayers.”

Healing a Shoulder

Oscar O. Stoddard, captain of the Stoddard Company, recorded this miracle:

“At the first camp this (the west) side of Quaking Asp Ridge, a few teams from the valley passed us and camped a short distance east of us. They came back and spent the evening with us, enjoying themselves as young folks will, till between ten and eleven o’clock, when they started for their camp and feeling jolly, hurrahed, fired off pistols, shouted, etc. The Danish Saints, having gone to bed in a tent and all asleep, being suddenly aroused by the uproar, were frightened, and someone shouted ‘Indians,’ which created a panic, and a rush was made for the tent door to get outside. Brother Christiansen, their chaplain, a small man, lying at the tent door, started to go with the rest, but the rush was too soon and powerful for him, and he was trampled underfoot. . . . He found himself free, but with a shoulder out of joint, with the knuckle below the socket.

“The next morning, one of the brethren, by using his knee as a lever, tried to pull his arm out and pry the shoulder in place. After three or four unsuccessful attempts, he begged him to stop as he could stand the pulling no longer. I was then informed of the circumstance and went to him and found him with his arm in a sling. . . .

“In the evening, just after prayers and as we were preparing for bed, he sent for me to come to and administer to him. I complied and anointed his shoulder as well as his head with consecrated oil, and in confirming the anointing with my hands upon his head, I prayed for the muscles and sinews to relax that the joint may have room to get to its place. After I got through administering to him I said, ‘Brother Christiansen, go to bed and to sleep and if you will have faith you shall wake up in the morning with your shoulder in its place,’ and he said, ‘I believe you, Captain,’ after which I went to bed.

“The first thing I heard in the morning, the Danish interpreter called me and said, ‘Captain Christiansen’s shoulder is in its place as you told him last night it would be.’ And so it was.”

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Find Your Own Miracles

To celebrate this Pioneer Day, we invite you to turn your heart and mind to those pioneers who came before us. We invite you to connect these pioneers using Family Search or the Church of Jesus Christ’s historical database and to find miracles that will uplift and inspire you.


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Tyler Nelson
Tyler Nelson
After serving a mission to Samara, Russia, Tyler graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in Creative Writing. Tyler is the author of Away From The Sun, a short collection of his written works. He lives in Provo with his drop-dead gorgeous wife, enjoys playing basketball, playing the banjo, studying history, and collecting Pokemon cards. Follow Tyler on Instagram @therealtylerbnelson

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