Daughter of Elijah Randolph Billingsly and Emaline Northcott Billingsly. Born January 31, 1829, in Gibson County, Tennessee.
<Begin quoting Miriam's own account>
"When she was six years old she, with her parents, moved to the state of Mississippi in Pontotoe County.
"In the year 1845 she heard the Gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized a member of the Church September 9, 1845. In February 1846 she started, with her parents, to gather with the saints and arrived in Nauvoo in a drenching rainstorm. A large majority of the saints had already started on the journey west to seek a place of safety from the persecutions of their enemies. She crossed the Mississippi River on the 25th of April with the Company of Saints traveling on the road or course their leaders had taken, who had left Nauvoo before she and her parents reached there.
"It was at this time that she met George Washington Adair. She had a dream the night before that a young man would come riding up to their wagon on a white horse. She had told her sister of her dream and of course they laughed about it as young romantic girls would, so when the young man did come riding into camp on a white horse, the two girls nudged each other and wondered if this was really true. Yes . . . that was the man that Miriam married before they reached the valley.
"Friendship ripened into love as they sat around the campfire in the evenings after the long days journey. Sometimes the evenings were spent in dancing and singing the beloved church hymns. On the 6th day of May 1846, they were married.
"They overtook President Brigham Young at Mt. Pisgah on the 23rd day of May and it was the counsel of the President that some of the later saints would stop at this place and plant vegetables and make a resting place for those who would follow after them. Miriam and George were among those who stopped at this place.
"Mt. Pisgah proved to be a very unhealthy place as a great majority of the people were laid low with chills and fever and canker. There were not sufficient number, in all the place, who were well enough to take care of the sick, as a result there was much suffering and many deaths because of this.
"In the spring of 1847 Counselor Lorenzo Snow, who was presiding at Mt. Pisgah received counsel to send ten men with their families on to the valley that season as President Brigham Young expected to find the place to locate the saints that summer. Miriam and George and daughter Emaline, were one of the families called to go. They had the baby just three months old, born the first of March 1847 at Mt. Pisgah. The journey was long and wearisome, with this young baby, but they, like the rest, endured the hardships and privations courageously."
<End of Miriam's own account>
Grandmother had started to write her history but did not finish it.
This little verse, written by grandmother tells a little of the love and devotion that was in her heart throughout the journey.
At this time when he and I,
Walked sweetly side by side.
Then there was glory in the sky,
Neither storm nor cloud could hide.
For then I knew that if this heart,
Should fail in strict demand, That I could look into his face,
And he would understand.
They arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley on the 2nd day of October 1847 (just four months and ten days from Mt. Pisgah). As she stood viewing the vast plain spread out before her, thinking of the situation they were placed in, we wonder, today, what her thoughts must have been. Was it fear of the future? Or was it gratitude and thanksgiving to her Heavenly Father for having brought them safely to the valley. Their fortitude and courage in meeting all that followed proved that it was faith in the future and thanksgiving for God's blessings and for the strength and courage that he had blessed her with.
Their first winter was spent on the north side of what is now known as Pioneer Square. The house was a log cabin with a thatch roof covered with dirt and when it rained it leaked so badly that Miriam had to hold a quilt over the baby to keep it dry, however George had it repaired and made more comfortable before the winter set in.
Quotation from scrap of paper found in Grandmother's book:
"The wheels of time roll on and we hailed with joy the first token of another spring and the warm rays of the sun soon began to open a space through the mountain of snow which had kept us shut up for about six months and prevented any communication outside our valley home. The mail could not go through East to let the nation know that the Saints in the wilderness were still alive and that 'the mustard seed was growing.'
"We had resided in this lone retreat about eighteen months, where civilized man had not made his home, nor a ripe harvest had not been enjoyed for ages till last season. There had been no prevailing sickness of any kind and very few deaths up to this time in the valley.
"Bread stuff began to be scarce, but we were beginning to be more comfortably situated. We owned a team and wagon and were quite proud of our outfit and felt truly thankful to our Heavenly Father for the many blessings he had bestowed upon us in our valley home.
"The winter of 1848 and 1849 commenced at an early moment and therefore found many without fuel and without houses. The snow fell very deep and that made it difficult for the necessary amount of wood to be procured to make the people comfortable. A great many of the brethren had no shoes so they had to wrap old rags around their feet and go to the mountains for wood. It was miraculous that some the brethren did not get their feet frozen.
"In the year 1850, a great many men from the United States (Utah was not a state) began to arrive in our peaceful home, as the news of the discovery of gold in California had reached the states. They were on their way to California to make their fortune. It was quite exciting for us to see so many people-some with wagons, some with pack animals, while some were on foot, buying or begging their food from those who were liberal enough to divide with them. Our valley soon became a place of deposit of property and goods of all kinds and we could buy almost anything we needed most for a very low price."
Heber C. Kimball had predicted this event long before it happened.
This account of the coming of the crickets was found on another scrap of paper:
"The crickets came like an army marching through the valley devouring every thing they found. They did not leave any of the wild vegetation that we could have used. Then the question arose, 'what shall we do now?' The way to procure anything to eat seemed black indeed. And then the gulls came. At first we thought it was another calamity, but when we saw they were eating the crickets we shouted with joy. The gulls would eat until they were filled, then they would drink then throw them up, continuing to do this from morning until night, every day, until the crickets were all gone.
"The destruction of the crickets strengthened our faith and our endeavors to continue planting and trying in every way we could to raise something to keep from starving, knowing that the Lord who had miraculously destroyed the crickets could bless our labors and cause our crops to grow and come to maturity even though the season was late. We were blessed in producing a great amount of vegetables and we felt like shouting aloud for joy for we surely beheld the salvation of the Lord.
"The land was surveyed and laid out in five and ten acre lots and a great many of the people moved on these farms, which made it more convenient to get green vegetables which we needed very badly. After sowing some little wheat, my husband began to prepare the land for corn, beans and other vegetables while I, wishing to help all that I could or was able, would take my babies in my arms and go out to dig thistle roods to eat. These tasted very good to us then."
I remember Grandmother telling about the time when they were much better off that Grandfather wanted her to go and get some of those roots to eat, thinking they would taste good. When she had them all ready, seasoned with good fresh butter, she set them before him. One taste was all he could take, they just did not taste like they did when they were hungry.
This little poem written by grandmother could have been written at this time of trial. One verse was missing:
Not vainly art thou left to bow
Neath grief's correcting rod.
Loves hand, thou may not see it now
Will lead thee up to God.
Dear heart, accept the lesson sent,
Be strong, be true, be brave,
In loving-kindness it was sent
From darker ills to save.
Be not by earthly woes crushed down
But trust the power divine,
The face which now may seem to frown,
Will soon with glory shine.
And thou shalt see, with wisdom cleared
His mercy doth attend;
To shield from what thou most hadst feared
Thy sure unfailing friend.
Thy father, God, thy cross will bear
As He alone can do,
Draw near to Him in fervent prayer
Be strong, be brave, be true.
Sometime, when all life's lessons have been learned,
When sun and stars forever more have set-
The things which our weak judgment here have spurned
The things o'er which we grieved with lashes wet,
Will flash before us, out of life's dark night-
As stars shine most in deepest tints of blue,
And we shall see that all God's plans were right,
And how, what seemed reproof, was love most true.
One Of The Three Nephites
Grandmother and Grandfather were living in, what is now called Sugarhouse, and of course there were no neighbors close enough to call on, especially when the snow was deep.
The snow was very deep but the fires had to be kept burning so grandfather had gone off to replenish the woodpile. While he was away one of the children became very ill. Grandmother did all she could for the child but the child continued to get worse so grandmother did as she always did when a crisis came, to get down on her knees and ask her Heavenly Father to send her aid. After doing all that her knowledge prompted her to do, she heard a knock at the door-on opening it there stood a man who asked her if she would like him to administer to her child. Never doubting that the answer to her prayer had come, she got the oil, which she always had on hand, and the main administered to her child. Her attention was turned to the child for the moment so when she turned to thank him for coming, he had left without saying anything. She hurried to the door to see if she could call him to give her thanks, but there was no one in sight nor were there any foot steps or prints in the snow. Grandmother always concluded that it was one of the three Nephites, that we read about in the Book of Mormon, had visited her on that stormy night. Her child was healed and was perfectly well when her husband returned.
It was summer now and they were still living in the same home in Sugarhouse. On Sunday they always walked up to the Bowery, which was located near the center of the city where the Sunday services were held. It was a long walk and they had very little to eat before they left. Butter was one of the luxuries so they seldom had any but when they returned home they found a plate full of bread and butter on their table. This was one of the miracles that do happen. They gave thanks to their Heavenly Father for this wonderful feast. When my Grandmother told me this story she did not know who had given them the bread and butter, it was like a miracle.
I found this description of their hunger on a page in the book. Just another scrap of paper.
"You who have plenty can not imagine how hungry we would be with nothing at all, except one half pound per person per day. Once in a great while through the winter, they would kill a beef or poor worked oxen. The men would stand around waiting and each anxious to get a small piece. There were always some who did not get any. There would not be any of the animal left except the horns and the insides of the entrails. I was thankful if my husband would bring home a piece of hide or a piece of liver or just a foot. This would make a good stew if we could get a few vegetables to go with it."
Manna Was Sent From Heaven
This incident happened just prior to their move to Southern Utah. They were staying with some friends, George A. Smith and wife in Provo, Utah. During this interval, they were trying to earn supplies for the remainder of the trip by wagon to the south. It was a long trip and they needed many things.
The Saints needed sugar badly. It was discovered that a sweet substance covered the bushes that grew along the ditches and riverbanks. They gathered the branches, washed the sweet substance off and proceeded to boil this sweet water until it went to syrup and then more boiling until it went to sugar.
They worked until they had fifty pounds of sugar and enough syrup to last both families all winter.
That was like the manna sent to the Children of Israel while they wandered in the desert.
It was now time to bid their friends good-bye and continue on their journey south.
It is not know if they moved to Washington, Washington County at this time but my father was born there on June 5, 1859 and then they moved to Minersville when my father was a small boy. Then they moved to Beaver City.
Grandmother had eleven children and raised two of her grandchildren. She had many sorrows, loosing two children when they were babies and one when about four years old, two girls died when their first babies were born she planted the seed of faith in each child and nurtured it throughout their lives.
Grandmother's testimony: "I know we are engaged in the great work our Heavenly Father has established on the earth for the salvation and the exaltation of His children, the work by which we may prepare ourselves to enter back into His presence. Our mission, as mothers are great, and I fear sometimes, that I do not sense the responsibility resting on me in teaching my children the principles that would save and exalt them in the Celestial Kingdom, and the way is opened up for us to return back into His presence. May I abide and walk in His Celestial Law and fulfill the designs of the creation and hold faithful to the end."
How This History Was Obtained
Father had an old book containing his mother's writing, bits of history, poems, essays and talks she had given. She had given this to him before she had passed away and it was all he had left of things belonging to her. This book also had a short sketch of her own life that she had written in her later years and never finished, although it did have things written that happened just after they came to Utah. Father prized this book very much. Seeing my interest in these histories, he said to me, "Ethel, I can see your interest in preserving the histories of your fore-fathers, so I am giving you this book of my mother's."
I will mark in quotation marks all things copied from this book so that you can see she had the gift of writing.
Ethel Adair Pope
Written October 1967
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Some grammar, punctuation, and spellings were modernized by David Calvin Andrus (Miriam's g. g. g. grandson) November 2001, while converting the narrative to electronic format from a typescript Sharon Adair Andrus made in the 1970s.