I thought that since today is Pioneer Day, the day when the first Later-day Saints entered the Utah valley, that it would be appropriate to share a story about one of those incredible women who crossed the plains and established Zion.
Zina Diantha Huntington Young joined the church at age fourteen and traveled with the saints as they were forced from place to place. She eventually traveled West with the saints and, an experienced midwife, she delivered babies as she went. She later married Brigham Young and was the midwife for his large family. She later served as the 3rd president of the Relief Society and was the first temple matron of the Salt Lake Temple. She was an incredible woman with strong spiritual gifts.
One day while serving in the Salt Lake City temple Zina D.H. Young heard her daughter-in-law Emma cry, “Mother, I need you.” Not hesitating to follow the promptings of the spirit Zina immediately headed for Ogden, some forty miles North. Upon arriving she poked her head in the door and said, “Surprise.” The greeting wasn’t returned because she found Emma in hard labor with her first child. Things hadn’t been going well, Emma was dangerously ill and the midwife was unable to deliver the baby. Zina took charge of the situation and soon realized that the baby could not be born under normal circumstances. She told her son Chariton that he needed to go get a doctor. Chariton at first refused saying, “No Mother. I don’t think we do. We’ve got a midwife, Emma will be alright.” Yet Zina insisted and when the doctor arrived he was able to deliver the baby using forceps. When the baby girl was born she was dark and discolored and the doctor laid her aside without a hope of saving and instead focused on saving Emma’s life.
The midwife and Zina didn’t give up on the little girl and breathed life into her. She eventually took her first cry and went on to be a strong healthy little girl. Later in life Emma claimed that it was Zina’s assistance which had saved her and her daughter’s life. Emmeline B. Wells, a close friend of Zina, later wrote this of her:
“ In the sickroom she was a ministering angel… she was a natural nurse and she invariably inspired confidence… Numberless instances might be cited of her ministrations among the sick, when she seemed to be inspired by some higher power than her own…”
I love this story about her because it shows how close she was to the spirit and her ability to listen and follow the spirit. It is amazing to me that she would travel all the way to Ogden, which at 40 miles away on a horse would have taken her all day, simply because she felt prompted to. How easy it would have been to ignore that prompting and brush it aside. If she had it is probably that the outcome of her daughter and granddaughter might not have been so good. It also shows that no matter how old our children grow we never stop receiving revelation about how we can meet their needs. It is part of the mantle of motherhood and if we are listening the spirit will always whisper truth to us about our children and grandchildren– before, while and after they are born.
Source: Noall, Claire. 1942. Mormon Midwives. Utah State Quarterly, Volume 10. Pg. 113-114