The Call to Settle the Muddy

from Elizabeth Claridge McCune

No place on earth seemed so precious to me at fifteen years of age as [the town of] dear old Nephi [in Utah’s Juab County]. How eagerly we looked forward to the periodical visits of President Brigham Young and his company! “Bro. Brigham, Bros. Kimball and Wells with [their] entire company got out of their carriages, and walked over the flowery road to our homes, [where] dinner was prepared and served.”

“We all attended the [Sunday] afternoon meeting, the girls in white having reserved seats in front. The sermons were grand, and we were happy until President Young announced that he had a few names to read of men who were to be called and voted in as missionaries to go and settle the ‘Muddy.’ This almost stilled the beating of the hearts of all present. Many of our people had been called to go to settle the Dixie country—but the Muddy, so many miles farther south! and so much worse! oh! oh! I did not hear another name except ‘Samuel Claridge.’ Then how I sobbed and cried, regardless of the fact that the tears were spoiling [my] new white dress. The father of the girl who sat next to me was also called. Said my companion, ‘Why, what are you crying about? It doesn’t make me cry. I know my father won’t go.’ ‘Well, there is the difference,’ said I. ‘I know that my father will go and that nothing could prevent him, and I should not own him as a father if he would not go when he is called.’ Then I broke down sobbing again.”

“As we had just moved into a new house and were fixed [so] comfortably, many of our friends tried to persuade father to keep his home and farm; to go south awhile and then come back. But father knew that this was not the kind of mission upon which he had been called. ‘I shall sell everything I own,’ said he, ‘and take my means to help build up another waste place in Zion.’”

Elizabeth Claridge McCune, in Susa Young Gates, “Biographical Sketches,” Young Woman’s Journal, July 1898, 292, 293; punctuation standardized.

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