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Wife number 19

by Ann Eliza Young

Chapters 21-26

Chapter XXI


No Physic among the Saints. - I am taken Sick. - Heber C. Kimball recommends "Endowments." - How Brigham Murdered his little Granddaughter. - The Prophet wants a Doctor. - Being "administered" To. - I am Re-baptized. - Receive my Endowments. - How Saintly Sins are Washed Away. - Undignified Conduct of Elders. - The Order of Melchisedec. - How I was " Confirmed." - To become a Celestial Queen. - I go down to the Endowment-House. - The Mysterious Ceremonies Described. - The Veil at last Lifted. - The Secrets of the Endowment-House Exposed. - I enter the Bath. - Miss Snow Washes Me. - She Anoints Me All Over. - I dress in a Bed-gown. -The "Peculiar Garment" of the Saints. - What the Mormon Girls do about It. - "Going through" without a Husband. - "A Great Shouting for Sarah!"

WHEN I was about sixteen years old, I was very ill, and my mother, her fears for the life and welfare of her only daughter always on her the alert, became very anxious, and , indeed, almost ill herself in her concern for me.

According to Mormon custom, I was "administered to" by the anointing and laying on of hands, but all to no avail. Bishop Taft, the one who had baptized me in my childhood, Isaac Groo, the Bishop's counsellor, and Elder Samuel Hardy laboured earnestly and long, and "wrestled in prayer" over me, all to no avail. I grew worse, rather than better, and my family feared I should fall into pulmonary consumption.

The idea of employing a regular physician seemed never to occur to any of them. Indeed, at that time it was considered the surest sign of a weakening of faith to resort to medical aid, and no Mormon in good standing would ever entertain the suggestion for a moment. Latterly, however, a great deal of this nonsense has been done away with, under the subtle Gentile influence that is working throughout Utah, in Salt Lake City more especially, and some of the young Saints are actually studying for the medical profession. Brigham used to denounce physicians in the most wholesale manner in the Tabernacle, and declare that they should never enter heaven, but that he would himself close the doors against them.

He was so bitter at that time that he would allow none of his family to employ medical aid in any emergency. A little granddaughter of his, a child of one of his daughters, took some poison that her mother had prepared to exterminate rats with. Brigham was sent for, and when he arrived he found a physician there, preparing to administer to the child in the usual manner. He rudely turned him out of doors, saving that he would care for the child himself; that no doctor should be allowed to worry her; and his care, as usual, consisted of the laying on of hands.- not a very energetic or efficacious mode of treating a poisoning case. The agonized parents dared not interfere, and in a few moments their child died before their very eyes, in the most terrible agony and distress, an innocent victim to the Prophet's egotism and bigotry.

That was Brigham Young well. Brigham Young ill is another person. In his variableness of opinion he reminds one very forcibly of the dignitary treated of in the somewhat profane epigram, -

" The devil was sick;

The devil a monk would be:

The devil got well;

The devil a monk was he."

Whenever he has any ailment, a doctor is summoned at once; and during his illness, a little over a year since, he employed at least half a dozen, keeping them in constant consultation, so great was his terror, and so absolute his horror of fatal consequences.

But when I was so ill, the Prophet was in the best of health, and was indulging in the bitterest invectives against physicians and all who employed them; and my mother, great and all-pervading as her affection was for me, and anxiously troubled as she was concerning my restoration to health, would have been shocked and grieved beyond measure, had any one proposed to her to seek medical advice concerning my condition. I was "in the hands of the Lord," and I was to be left there, for Him to do with me as He would.

When it was found that being "administered to" did no good in my case, Heber C. Kimball advised that I receive my Endowments, promising that then I should surely be fully restored to health. This was considered as a very great favor, since, outside of Brigham Young's and one or two other official families, no young persons are given their Endowments. My mother was overjoyed, and considered the bestowal of this honor a special interposition of Providence on my behalf. As a matter of course, I shared her feelings most fully. I had always been taught to anticipate the time when I should receive my Endowments as the most important epoch of my religious life, when I should be taken fully into the bosom of the church.

It was necessary, in order to receive these rites, that I should be re-baptized. Remembering my childish experience, and the terror which I suffered, I must confess that I dreaded, in my weakened state of health, that portion of the ceremony. and I grew quite nervous over it before the day arrived on which that rite was to be performed. I was reassured on one point, however. The pond experience was not to be repeated, but I was to be baptized in the Twelfth Ward font, which made it seem much less formidable, and divested it of half its terror.

On the day appointed I was taken to the Twelfth Ward meeting-house by my mother, where we met Isaac Groo, who was to baptize me. I was half frightened, and wholly awed. and very nervous; but my ardent desire for the reestablishment of my health gave me a sort of bravery and endurance, so that I was quite calm, and behaved myself very well, considering the unnaturally excited state which I was in.


The ordinance of baptism, as administered by the Mormons, does not differ very materially from that of the Baptist churches. It is always by immersion. Nothing else is ever considered efficacious. It must be a literal "watery burial," and a resurrection therefrom. The officiating elder, with his candidate for the rite, repairs to some place which has been previously appointed, and where there is a sufficient quantity of water to immerse the entire person. Not the least portion of the body must be left above the purifying fluid, else it could not be termed a "perfect burial with Christ." In the early days it was necessary to perform this ordinance in the open air, in some river or pond; but lately fonts have been built in most ward meeting-houses, so that it can all be done under cover, and there is less danger of suffering ill results from exposure.

The elder officiating takes the candidate by the hand and leads him - or her, as the case may be - down into the water, until a sufficient depth is attained; he then raises his hand, and, calling the person by name, commences the ceremony as follows "Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen." He then plunges the candidate under the water, bringing him forth into the newness of life, and fully prepared to enter upon a series of ordinances, all of which are attended with covenants calculated to bind the person more strongly to the church.

Following the baptism comes the confirmation, or the laying on of hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost. It is usually administered directly after the first rite, and at the same place; but I was so ill and weak that I was taken directly home, and the elders came there to confirm me. They were Bishop Taft and Isaac Groo, and they certainly gave me every cause to be thankful to them for the prodigality of their promises. I certainly never have had occasion to be grateful on account of their fulfillment.

In the Church of Latter-Day Saints the "Melchisedec" and "Aaronic" priesthood are authorized to perform the ordinance of baptism, but the latter has no power to administer in spiritual things. Hence only a priest after the holy order of the Son of God or the order of Melchisedec, can perform the ordinance of confirmation, or laying on of hands for imparting the Holy Ghost, which is to lead the newborn Saint into all truth, and teach him the things to come; thus protect him from all falsehood and imposition, and placing him in the most perfect state of progression which, if real, would be a state of the highest felicity and most assured salvation.