History of the Church Series
This daily feature is an introduction to a full article by Janiece L. Johnson. Each Wednesday we focus on an aspect of church history, beginning in New York in the early 19th century and progressing throughout the year to Utah in the 20th century. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.
Sally Bradford Parker is not a name most LDS Church members recognize, but her faith, exemplified through the letter featured below, weaves an important fabric distinctive to early Latter-day Saint women. The limited number of known early Mormon women's voices, especially prior to the organization of the Relief Society in 1842, makes this document particularly valuable. As Sally shares her experience, she augments and supports the testimony of Hyrum Smith as a Book of Mormon witness and particularly the witness of another woman—the Prophet's mother, Lucy Mack Smith. When Sally arrived in Kirtland she was in awe of the many Latter-day Saints who focused their lives in faith and prayer. Lucy Mack was one of those exemplary individuals. Lucy's sincerity deeply impressed Sally, who seems to have shared a motherly kinship with her.
Sally's letters portray her as a powerful chronicler of her personal and family experience in a small branch on the periphery of the Church. Through her writing, Sally demonstrates that, like the saintly examples she found in Kirtland, her membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the dominant thread of her life—even though most of her life she was not gathered with the general body of the Saints. Sally's letters intricately wove that dominant thread with the price of produce, weather conditions, and familial inquiries of health.