Question: Who was Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner?

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Question: Who was Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner?

Mary joined the Church at age 12 in Kirtland, in October 1830, and so was among the very first members.

Daguerrotype of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lighter

Mary joined the Church at age 12 in Kirtland, in October 1830, and so was among the very first members.[1] She seems to have been mature for her age; she had heard about the Book of Mormon, but had not even seen a copy prior to her baptism. She wrote:

About this time, John Whitmer came and brought a Book of Mormon. There was a meeting that evening, and we learned that Brother Morley had the Book in his possession the only one in that part of the country. I went to his house just before the meeting was to commence, and asked to see the book; Brother Morley put it in my hand, as I looked at it, I felt such a desire to read it, that I could not refrain from asking him to let me take it home and read it, while he attended meeting. He said it would be too late for me to take it back after meeting, and another thing, he had hardly had time to read a chapter in it himself, and but few of the brethren had even seen it, but I pled so earnestly for it, he finally said, "Child, if you will bring this book home before breakfast tomorrow morning, you may take it." He admonished me to be very careful, and see that no harm came to it. If any person in this world was ever perfectly happy in the possession of any coveted treasure I was when I had permission to read that wonderful book. Uncle and Aunt were Methodists, so when I got into the house, I exclaimed, "Oh, Uncle, I have got the 'Golden Bible'." Well, there was consternation in the house for a few moments, and I was severely reprimanded for being so presumptuous as to ask such a favor, when Brother Morley had not read it himself. However, we all took turns reading it until very late in the night as soon as it was light enough to see, I was up and learned the first verse in the book. When I reached Brother Morley's they had been up for only a little while. When I handed him the book, he remarked, "I guess you did not read much in it." I showed him how far we had read. He was surprised and said, "I don't believe you can tell me one word of it." I then repeated the first verse, also the outlines of the history of Nephi. He gazed at me in surprise, and said, "child, take this book home and finish it, I can wait."[2]

In fall of 1831, Mary left with her family for Independence, Missouri. She received the spiritual gift of interpretation of tongues:

Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer and Thomas B. Marsh often spoke in tongues in addressing the people on the Sabbath day, and I wanted to understand what they said; so I made it a subject of prayer, that the Lord would give me to understand what was the meaning of their words; for they seemed to speak with great power. One evening the brethren came to Uncle's house to converse upon the revelations that had not been printed as yet, but few had looked upon them, for they were in large sheets, not folded. They spoke of them with such reverence, as coming from the Lord; they felt to rejoice that they were counted worthy to be the means of publishing them for the benefit of the whole world. While talking they were filled with the spirit and spoke in tongues. I was called upon to interpret it. I felt the spirit of it in a moment.[3]

Notes

  1. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, "Autobiography," Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 17 (July 1926), 193-94.; compare “Autobiography," handwritten, MSS B95, box 14, unnumbered folder supplementing folder 3, Utah State Historical Society.
  2. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, "Autobiography," Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 17 (July 1926), 194.
  3. Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, "Autobiography," Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 17 (July 1926), 195.