A Visionary Time

The period during and after the “Raid,” the time when Mormon polygamists were doing difficult time with government pressures as a rebellious United States Territory, brought apocalyptic feelings. Polygamy was preached during the previous decades as an essential aspect of salvation. Even that participating in the practice was a necessary hurdle in the path to the highest of heavens. It’s apparent public defeat was quite often noised about as a sign of the world’s end.[1] A few days ago, reading in a Mormon periodical[2] of the time, I refound the following story that in many ways was part of this (mostly) underground literature. This one is worth a read for the obvious reason noted above, for its typical predictive claims, its reference to Brother Joseph (and Hyrum!), Brother Brigham (and others) and spirit world contacts with deceased relations. As is usual with such experiences, the seemingly implied end did not arrive. Though one might argue that there was an end of the Utah world of 1847–1890, something I have called “Middle Mormonism” in writing. The narrative is heartfelt I think and it is timely in some sense, literal or not. Its telling of “good death” aspects, its temple themes, its (if obscure) Book of Mormon reference, and a remark about sealing over against adoption are interesting. For your reading pleasure then, I put the vision of Elmira Pond here.

I, Elmira Pond Miller (Feb. 14, 1811–Sept. 3, 1905), will relate what I have heard and seen. I was at my daughter’s house in Hyrum, Cache County, in the early part of May, 1889. I had just lain down on the bed, as it was beginning to get dark. There appeared in the air lines of writing. After I had read those lines, there appeared other lines of writing on the wall at the head of the bed. Around those were round spots of the color of amber, which seemed to give light to the writing, without which I could not have seen to read the words that were portrayed on the wall.

I will give a sketch of what was shown me in the writing. Many things were mentioned which took place before my husband’s (Henry William Miller, 1807–1885) death which occurred over three and a half years previous. I will relate it as near as possible in his own words. He said, “I have seen Brother Joseph and Hyrum Smith, also Brother Brigham and all the others who went before. I have seen your brother Daniel and many of the friends of your youth. It has been almost four years since they came and took me away and left you a lone widow. I am very lonesome without you. The other brethren have their wives with them. You have always been a good wife to me but I have been of a hasty temper and have not controlled it as I should while in the flesh. I am now willing to make amends for the past, that when you come we may begin as we began in the days of your youth and go on until we are called up higher. I have sent up a petition asking leave to come for you. I think if you are as lonesome without me as I am without you, that you will be willing to come. I will not tell you in what way I will take you, but you will exclaim, “Behold the chariots of lsrael and the horsemen thereof!” I want you to be buried by my side if there is room.

I want you to see Jacob (meaning Jacob Miller) and have the ordinances attended to, sealing me to my father. I want you to do what work you can in the Logan Temple. I think if you are as anxious as you were to do the work in the St. George Temple, that you will do all you can. The work you have done in the St. George Temple has greatly enhanced my happiness in the spirit world. I want you to do the work for your sisters Anna and Hulda and have them sealed to their husbands and have their little ones sealed to them. I have come tonight to talk to you. I will come again and hear you talk— Cheer up. Great things await you. You are of the blood of Ephriam. It is very essential that we should do the work for the dead, but we are apt to be careless about it. We are going into the United Order here. Our daughter’s daughter Rutt will come soon. There will be more changes before a great while. I will not tell you any more at this time. Your children have come to see you. We can see you but you cannot see us unless the veil is taken away. The deed that was made of the house and lot is no mistake at all. I thought you would not care as you would not come to live there anymore. I wished to keep the other lot and barn together. I wish you would write to my children and see how they are getting along. I bid you good-night and pleasant dreams.”

I only write a part of what was said to me as I consider it more for my comfort as a man speaking to and comforting his wife. When it came to the deeding of the house and lot as mentioned, I heard my husband’s voice in a loud whisper helping me to read. The sound came from the writing on the wall. Ruth’s daughter, as spoken of, was sick at the time and died about three weeks after the manifestation. I wish to testify that what I saw and heard was when I was wide awake and in my right mind. In fact, I had not been asleep.
As soon as my grand-daughter died, I was impressed to step out and look up, which I did. I saw a white cloud right above where she lay, going up slowly in a straight course. It was not far from the roof when I first saw it. It was a sunshiny morning and not a cloud to be seen.

Elmira Pond Miller

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[1] See this letter I discovered while reading microfilm some years ago. It shows the troubling tension over the changing times as a father tries to comfort a daughter during the period.

[2] The Contributor 16, January 1896. A manuscript version with somewhat different telling is found in the LDS Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, “Miller Family Sketches, 1839-1852; 1894-1950,” MS 14743. The latter is a bit more fun, but I don’t have a copy handy.

Comments

  1. Interesting. I wonder how unique manifestations are to members of our faith.

  2. This is pretty unusual with air writing. Parchments dropped from the sky in early Kirtland. I don’t have truly modern correlates at the moment.

  3. wvs – Daniel 5:5 has a mysterious hand appear and write a message on the wall.

  4. This is fascinating and I always feel much comfort when reading about those on the other side, that they can see us and hear us and have our welfare at heart. I got a bit emotional reading this letter! I only wish that we were all (meaning me) more in tune and worthy of having these kinds of visitations. I wish the communication between realms was a lot more open and fluid. We all have a lot to learn.

  5. Thank you for this. I also feel great comfort when hearing that those on the other side see and hear us.

  6. never forget says:

    Also the hand writing in the temple in mentioned in Alma 10:2.
    There is another account in either Saints of Sage and Saddle, or something else collected by the Fifes or Wilson that is similar. I’d have to go look it up.
    I also heard of a vision like this in the last twenty years while as missionary in the Philippines from a reliable member. I believed him.
    It happens, and is a valid medium of communication.