Funeral Services of Elizabeth Ann Whitney

Taken from, The Deseret Evening News, February 22, 1882

"Funeral Services of Elizabeth Ann Whitney," Deseret Evening News, February 22, 1882
“Funeral Services of Elizabeth Ann Whitney,” Deseret Evening News, February 22, 1882

Agreeable to announcement, the funeral services of Mother Whitney were conducted this forenoon in the Assembly Hall.

The casket containing the body of our esteemed sister was placed in front of the stand about an hour before the ceremonies commenced, and the friends of the deceased lady composing the large audience that filled the body of the ball and part of the galleries, as they entered the building improved the opportunity to view the face of the deceased. During the time the body was lying in state, Brother Joseph J. Daynes discoursed appropriate music on the organ.

In opening the services the Tabernacle choir, under the leadership of Brother Beesley, sang:

Oh my Father, thou that dwellest,

Elder John Pack offered prayer, and the choir sang:

Nearer my God to thee

Counselor D. H. Wells then made brief remarks. He said, the respect that we this day were called upon to pay to the dead, we paid to one of our own—Mother Whitney. We had been acquainted with her—he was going to say, all our lives, and consequently her virtues need not be referred to, as they were already known—they were those of a noble and true woman, a woman whose integrity had been proven the many years of her fellowship with the Church through all the scenes pretty much, this Church had passed. Her spirit had gone to God, whence it came, to meet with her many friends who had gone before her, among whom was the partner of her joys and sorrows, and he, the speaker, was gratified to know that one so worthy had passed away under circumstances so favorable, and would he was assured, be expressing the feelings of the large congregation he addressed, in saying, peace to the ashes of Mother Whitney, and God bless her posterity.

Elder Lorenzo D. Young, the next speaker, had known the deceased 40 years, and he knew her life to be an example of virtue, uprightness, kindness, sympathy and love to her fellow-creature. It had been his lot to travel a great deal in company with Brother and Sister Whitney, during the varied and shifting scenes through which the Church had passed, and no matter what the circumstances were, whether houseless in mud and rain, whether in cold or hunger fleeing from persecution, it mattered not how uninviting and dark, and at times, seemingly, without a ray of hope, Mother Whitney had always a smile upon her face and an encouraging word to offer. It afforded him joy to testify to her noble and motherly qualities and to know that in passing hence she has gone to join a blessed and happy throng of her associates and friends who like her, were to God and man true even to death.

President Jos. F. Smith then addressed the assembly. The speaker had been acquainted with Mother Whitney ever since he could remember. Of her it might be truly said, she was a mother in Israel. After passing through the trials and hardships known to the early members of the Church in Missouri and Illinois, and those known to the pioneers of these valleys, she was left a widow with a large family, and it had never been the pleasure of the speaker, with, probably one exception, to know a woman who possessed to so eminent a degree the spirit of cheerfulness and extraordinary hope, as Mother Whitney. Under circumstances the most adverse she was always full of faith and assurance in the mercy of God, and the ultimate triumph of His work.

Mother Whitney was one of the few intimately acquainted with the Prophet Joseph Smith and who embraced the Gospel through his personal teachings; and it is, said he, my pleasure to say of her, that she was always true, as true as human heart could be, to the truths that were revealed through the Prophet of God. She was one who received in her heart the doctrine of plural marriage from the lips of the Prophet Joseph; and she was one of the first mothers in Israel who gave her daughter in the bond of marriage to the Prophet; and she stood by her daughter, and was true to Joseph in the trying circumstances of his life in Nauvoo, which grew out of his endeavors to establish this doctrine in the Church. And many and many a time I have heard her testify to the truthfulness and divinity of this doctrine. And Sister Whitney’s daughter was one of those faithful and determined women who signified her willingness to sacrifice the feelings of the human heart in order to accept and practice the law of celestial marriage. The speaker testified in all soberness that henceforth and forever there was laid up for her a crown of glory, a queenly crown for her and all those honorable women who sacrifice their own feelings in order to establish in the Church and make honorable in the earth, the doctrines of patriarchal marriage. He knew that such women would stand in the presence of the Eternal God crowned with glory and eternal lives, which none living can enjoy but those who are worthy and made this sacrifice.

Here, the speaker said, perhaps, for the first time in public, that the women who entered into plural marriage with the Prophet Joseph Smith were shown to him and named to him as early as 1831, the Lord showed him those women who were to engage with him in the establishment of that principle in the Church, and at that time some of these women were named and given to him, to become his wives when the time should come that this principle should be established. God knew their hearts, as he proved by the fact that they have been true and faithful through all the trying vicissitudes through which they have passed, and that too in the face of a frowning world; they have endured it all, and are to-day examples of womanhood and purity. It was something to be associated with righteous, honorable and pure woman, with women who dare receive and obey the revelations of God at the sacrifice of their own feelings, the most tender feelings of the human heart. God bless them now and forever.

Mother Whitney was one of those faithful women chosen of God as one of the pioneers, so to speak, of this peculiar doctrine; and she and her daughter will receive the reward of those whom God will not forget in the day when He shall reckon up his jewels.

The speaker closed his remarks by calling upon the children of the deceased to emulate the examples of their illustrious parents, who were faithful to God and their brethren in life and in death.

The closing hymn.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord.

Was sung by the choir, the congregation rising and joining.

Benediction by President Wilford Woodruff.

The remains were followed to the cemetery by a large cortege.

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