Ardis’ recent post about the details of early twentieth century temple practice reminded me of a favorite document. There is a great devotional angle, but there are many fun details for the historians of Mormon practice as well.
In February 1931, Mary McClellan sat down with her daughter Zitelle to record some of her life’s history to be included in a ward publication: Gleaners’ Treasures of Truth. Mary and her husband George lived in Colonia Morelos when church leaders determined sitting out the Mexican revolution was no longer feasible. Unlike some who had means sufficient for relocation, the Lloyds suffered desperately. The family settled in Bisbee, Arizona, just across the boarder, while George worked in the dank conditions of the Queen copper Mine. They struggled with sickness and death and after two year, the McClellans saved enough to move to Clinton, Utah just south of Ogden.
On the night of about the fifth of January, 1914, I dreamed that an old gentleman, rather small of stature, white hair, white beard, inflamed eyelids, came to me and told me to come to the Temple of the Lord and bring Newell and we would both be healed. This dream was very realistic and the following morning I told daddy about it.
Mary was pregnant and had developed increasingly severe “milk leg” with each child and often need crutches to walk. Newell, their child, had been in the hospital for about three weeks and anticipated an operation. The family looked forward to getting a pay check on the 15th and Mary hoped that they could use it to travel to the temple. However, when the money came, other needs pressed their way to the forefront of their attention.
Mary described crying all the night of January 21 because there was no coal to heat the house, no rubber and shoes were thin, and no bedding or clothing for the cold and snow. George woke up at 4:00 am and chided her for her lack of faith. He then went out to cut some wood to warm the home. As he cut, he saw a man walking down the road. He asked George if this was where the McClellans lived and said he was here to visit “his aunty.” Shaking hands with George, the man stated, “Why haven’t you been down. I have been looking for you at the Temple for three weeks.” He wouldn’t sit down. Instead he handed George a letter and then turned and walked away.
In the envelope was a twenty dollar bill, and a blank sheet of paper. The following Monday, the man appeared again and brought a pair of blankest and suitcase filled with bottled fruits, jams and jellies. It was the man of her dream. This time he told her his name, Adolphus Madsen, and he hailed from Brigham City. Mary was also from that area and as it happened, Mary’s grandfather had befriended Adolph when he was a fresh immigrant from Denmark.
He said that he had been working in the Temple for some twenty years and it was his custom to go home to Brigham City on Friday night or Saturday morning and return to Salt Lake the following Monday morning. His children in Brigham City had sent the blankest [sic] and fruit. I asked him who told him–how he know we were there, but his only reply to my Question was, “Your father sent me.” It was seven or eight years before I heard his testimony of how he came to find me.
Mary doesn’t indicate that she knew any more about Adolph, as he was called, or his history. Adolph was in the Box Elder Stake Presidency with Rudger Clawson. He was also a member of the first Salt Lake Temple Presidency, but that was a long time before this meeting. What would become most important to Mary is that Adolph was then one of the male temple healers.
A few days after this visit, Newell arrived home from the hospital, his wounds still draining. They took the train to Salt Lake City, and then went to the temple.
When I entered the room for my blessing it was filled with the sick–there wasn’t a place for me to sit down and I was holding Newell. Some man came forward and asked if I would step into a side room. When I got in there Brother Madsen and Patriarch Hyrum G. Smith were officiating. Brother Madsen came to me and led me to the chair. I held Newell on my lap.
First the Patriarch blessed Newell and then Adolph blessed Mary. He did not bless her to be healed immediately, but that if she continued to have faith, in the temple she would receive her blessing. She went home and her condition got worse. She was on crutches full time. The baby was born on the second of April. Then, on the eighth, she resolved to go to the temple again. She had to be carried in. As she sat in the endowment session, she feinted, but she came to and carried on with the ritual.
When we got to the Prayer Circle it seemed as though someone was pouring water on my head and that it was running down through my body and over it. I couldn’t quite understand the feeling and kept rubbing my hands and legs. I was afraid I was going to faint again. There was no pain, it had left me instantly. This was in the last room and when I stood up to go up the steps and though the veil, I carried both crutches in one hand–didn’t use them at all. Daddy kept watching me. He knew I had been instantly healed. He said afterward that it seemed as though my face and my whole being was lighted up with a heavenly light.
She was able to walk on her way home and had no further trouble with her legs until the next child.
As noted above, Mary did eventually learn how Adolph came to walk down her road in the morning of her despair. In a testimony meeting in 1922, Mary noticed that Adolph happened to be there. She decided that she would bare her testimony of her experience with him. He then got up and stated that he was forced to bare his own, though it was a confession as much as a testimony. He described how his $20 weekly salary for working in the temple was his only means of making a living. His wife was dead and he didn’t want to depend on his children. One night the departed Lorenzo Snow Wright appeared to him and told him to help his daughter both physically and temporally. He told Adolph that on the day of his pay, he should stop by the McClellans. But he didn’t want to give up his money. His visionary interlocutor told him that he would be blessed four fold, so he did it.