REFLECTIONS ON THOMAS GROVER SR.

Grover Coat of Arms“KITH & KIN”

If you could see your ancestors

All standing in a row,

Would you be proud of them or not,

Or don’t you really know?

Some strange discoveries are made

In climbing family trees.

And some of the m you know

Do not particularly please!

If you could see your ancestors

All standing in a row,

There might be some of them perhaps

You wouldn’t care to know.

But there’s another question which

Requires a different view,

If you could meet your ancestors

Would they be proud of you!

We need at times to think of our ancestors and strive to emulate some of their actions. True, not all are worthy of emulation. We all have a certain amount of horse thieves, rebels, renegades and pirates.

20 – 70 -100 years from now do you, as young parents, want your little children to grow into men and women who will completely forget you and what you are doing and will do for them?

I have been asked to recall a few instances that might help us become interested in keeping our family records and searching for records which I’m sure you will find interesting, humorous and spiritual to pass on to our children and give us all incentive to improve ourselves.

 

THE PROPHET JOSEPH’S SWORD

Thomas Grover, my great, great grandfather lived when polygamy was instituted into the Church. Later the law of the land forbade polygamy so some of the Mormons who had several wives moved into Mexico where plural marriage was accepted. But for a time Mexico was ceded to the US, so officers of the law began to seek out any one practicing polygamy and they became quite forceful in seeking these men and if they could catch them, they imprisoned them, keeping them from even supporting their families.

The Mormons resented these harsh actions and tried every means to avoid arrest. Men, women and even the children were constantly alert to note the arrival of any stranger in the towns or districts and the cry “here comes the Marshal” was an oft heard warning.

One day a stranger knocked on Thomas Grover’s (our ancestor) door and his wife answered the door and called to Thomas that a stranger wished to see him. Much to her consternation, Thomas said, “Show him in, Show him in.”

Thomas greeted him very cordially and the stranger announced he was a marshal come to arrest Thomas. Now keep in mind that Thomas Grover was a large, powerful and firm speaking man. He had at one time been a member of the body guard of the Prophet Joseph Smith, to protect him in Nauvoo days of violence.

“Laduska,” he called to his wife, “get me the Brother Joseph’s sword and watch me while I cut this man’s head off!”

The intruding stranger quickly took off without making the arrest and the incident provoked many a hearty laugh as it was recounted over and over – as it was just a big bluff that worked.

 

JANE GROVER AND THE INDIANS

In a little different vein, we can find the story in our ancestry book of Jane Grover, a daughter of Thomas Grover. She says:

“One morning we thought we would go gather gooseberries. Father hitched up the horses to the wagon and two sisters, father and a granddaughter, and me, Jane Grover. We started out.”

The little granddaughter and Jane were some distance from the others picking berries when they heard Indians shouting and saw Indians gathering around the father in the wagon, whooping and yelling. They got in the wagon to drive away, when the Indians held the horses so they couldn’t move. Jane asked her father to let her run for help, but he said it was too late.

The Indians began taking things from the father – his coat, his boots, his watch and tried to pull Jane from the wagon. Jane began praying to her Heavenly Father, and the Spirit of the Almighty fell upon her and she spoke to the Indians in great power, in their own tongue and they immediately let go of the horses and stood in front of this young girl with bowed head, while her family looked on in amazement. The Indians had planned to kill the father and take the women prisoners. This was plainly shown to Jane and she continued talking to them. When she stopped talking, they gave the father back his things and quietly left.

The Lord made known to this young girl a portion of the interpretation of what she had said to the Indians which is:

“I suppose you warriors thing you are going to kill us? Don’t you know the Great Spirit is watching you and knows everything in your heart? We have come out here to gather some of our father’s berries. We have not come to injure you and if you harm us, or injure one hair of our head’s, the Great Spirit shall smite you to the earth, and you shall not have power to breathe another breath. We have been driven from our homes. So have you. We are the Lord’s people and so are you, but you must cease your murders and wickedness. The Lord is displeased with it and will not prosper you if you continue in it. You think you own all of this land, this water, these horses. You do not own one thing on earth, not even the air you breathe; it all belongs to the Great Spirit.”

 

PLATTE RIVER CROSSING

As the saints were coming west to tlok for a new land where they could worship and live in peace, Thomas Grover, our illustrious ancestor was with them whtn they crossed the state of Iowa and they located on the the west side of the Missouri river where Florence, Nebraska now stands. A number of the men went own into Missouri to buy pork for the use of the camp and when they returned, Thomas was appointed camp butcher. As they prepared to move on to the west, Thomas was among the first 143 men to get ready to go with President Brigham Young to find a route for the Saints to follow to go to the West.

I thought you might be interested to know why he is not listed with those who entered the valley with Brigham Young. He left his family with enough provisions to last them three years. The company travelled up the north side of the Platte River to the Black Hills. Here it became necessary to build a boat to cross the river. President Young called the camp members together to ascertain the best plan. He told them his plan, but Thomas said, “It will not work.”

President Young said, “I think it will.”

Thomas again said it would not work in that kind of stream, and then he went to bed. Stephen Markham was Thomas’ bunkmate. When he came to bed, a man followed him to see what he had to say. Thomas said, “I have forgotten more about water than President Young will ever know.”

The man immediately went to President Young and told all that he heard Thomas say. The next morning, President Young called Thomas to talk, and asked if that was what he had said. Thomas said, “Of course I did. I was raised on the water and don’t know anything else. “

When President Young got his boat made, they put it in the water and Heber C Kimball said, “It runs nice.”

Then Thomas said, “Yes, but when it strikes the current, it will go under.”

He had barely spoken, when the boat struck the current and disappeared. President Young turned to Thomas and said, “My plan has failed, what is yours?”

Thomas said, “I shall take six men and go to the grove of timber yonder and get 2 trees and have them cut canoe fashion and lash them together and by daylight tomorrow we will have a boat to carry us across.”

President Young said, “Get your men and be off.”

Six men were chosen, and when they arrived at the timber there were two trees that would fill the bill. In going to the trees, it was discovered that they were surrounded by rattle snakes. They killed snakes for two hours, then succeeded in getting the trees. They worked all night and by daylight the boat was in the river.

In the meantime, a number of immigrants on their way to Oregon had come up and were waiting for the Mormons to build the boat. When the boat was ready, Thomas said, “Bring the heaviest wagon you have here.”

President Young said, “Hadn’t we better run a light wagon over first?”

Thomas said, “No, bring the heaviest.”

They brought a schooner with 6,000 pounds on it and it went across fine. And soon all the company was across.

President Young appointed Thomas and others to remain and run the ferry until the water went down. This they did. When the waters receded, the other companies had not arrived, so Thomas and his men, being out of supplies, went back to meet them. All they had to eat in three days was one skunk. They came to an Indian village and made their wants known to the chief. His two wives had a large kettle of buffalo meat cooking which they ate with great relish. Thomas said it was the best mean he had ever eaten. The next day the other companies came and they went on to the3 valley of the Salt Lake.

 

REFLECTIONS

I wonder if we today had to withstand the hardships some of our ancestors had to go through if we could be as strong as they were. The winters were cold and their homes were log shacks with cracks stuffed with rags, with dirt roofs and dirt floors.

Hundreds of wild cattle roamed the country and would chew up the starched clothes hung on the lines to dry. Someone had to stand guard continually to drive them away. Every member of the family had to work clearing buckbrush from the land and piling it in huge piles for bonfires.

The women and children suffered a great deal. In the Grover book are many stories. One it recalls was of a woman who had her baby boy born before they crossed a great river on the ice, and they lived out-of-doors and travelled on for seven weeks before the baby was dressed indoors again. Crossing another river, every article in their wagon was water soaked, even the bed upon which the mother and child were resting, but no ill effects followed.

Other time children and women died from exposure and the weary family buried them in shallow graves and trudged on knowing full well that the ravenous wolves would find the graves before too long.

Thomas Grover was endowed and blessed with many noble qualities – industry, thrift, love of family and neighbors, a very deep and abiding love and reverence for his creator and his church and for this wonderful country where he had civil and religious freedom and opportunities. He gave aid and relief of the poor, needy and sick, and frequently shared his harvests with the widows and orphans. He was quite well-to-do when he joined the church in New York State and when the Prophet Joseph Smith was so desperate for money while translating the Book of Mormon, Thomas Grover made him a gift of a considerable sum of money. He was a member of Zion’s Camp; suffered in the persecutions of the Mormons in Missouri and was in prison with the Prophet a number of times. He fulfilled three missions for the Church in New York, Canada and Michigan. He was a member of the First High Council of the Church at Nauvoo being called by revelation to that position. He was one of the Prophet’s body guards. When the mobs of Missouri kidnapped the Prophet, Thomas rescued him and turned back the mobbers to Missouri. He helped prepare the bodies of the Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum for burial after their martyrdom.

Let’s build memories of lasting worth – righteous history – for our children and their children to remember and pattern their lives after.

 

  • Incidents in the life of Thomas Grover selected and written from the Thomas Grover Book by Veda Luella Oviatt Rice.
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