On the 24th of July every year, the LDS church members celebrate Pioneer Day. The Day Brigham Young made it to the Salt Lake Valley. I am blessed enough to be a part of that great church. In preparing a lesson to teach to the young girls about the pioneers of our church, I knew just who I wanted to talk about.
A couple years ago, while working on my husband's family, I made it back to his 5x Great Grandparents, Austin & Nancy Elston Hammer. Up till this point, I hadn't really felt connected to his family. But while researching Austin & Nancy, I came across this website Far West History. Which is a site "Dedicated to identifying, collecting and preserving information related to Missouri Mormon history." On this site I found a "History of Austin and Nancy Elston Hammer" by John Hammer "From a personal history of unknown origin in the
possession of Robert S. Raymond, given to me by my grandmother, Ireta Pitcher
Raymond, ggranddaughter of Austin Hammer. The history consists mostly of John
Hammer's account.", which you can see here. As I was reading through this personal account from the son of Austin & Nancy, John, I became fully aware that while I might not be directly related to these brave people, my children were. It no longer was a story about distant people but became a legacy that my children will be able to talk about when they get older and understand. What an epiphany I had that day. I sat and cried as I read about how the children's feet bled as they walked across the frozen ground, after being expelled from their home in the middle of winter. And how strong the women had to be in order to survive, and the faith they had in a loving Heavenly Father to see them through it all. And how the men tried to defend their family, home & religion.
So it was with great pride that I taught our young girls this evening about the life and struggles of these wonderful pioneers. Their faith and trust in God was so complete that even through all the hardships they had to endure it shined ever on. And what a legacy they left, in deed.
My family are not, besides an occasional cousin here or there, members of the church. I do have a few living relatives that have joined the church recently. But no Latter-Day pioneers to write about or to tell my children about. Us few that are living now are the pioneers in my family. So it is wonderful that I am able to share my husband's side of the family with my children. They can see the long line of faithful believers and have faith the way the early pioneers did.
I have many pioneers on my side of the family, don't mistake me there. But it is nice for my children that they can take the story of their ancestor's and their strength and apply it when it comes to matters of faith and religion. And to me that is a beautiful thing.
Nancy Hammer survived many hardships that I know would have tested my faith and strength. So I thought she was a perfect example to share with the young girls I teach at church. I was so excited to get to share her story with such a great group of girls and show to them, that with faith and trust we women are a strong people.