Friday, April 24, 2015

Rachel Ivins Grant: “...the kind of religion I was looking for...”

Rachel Ridgeway Ivins Grant was from Hornerstown, New Jersey, a small community in Monmouth County. She was born in 1821. This is the story of her conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

My parents died when I was quite young. My grandparents on both sides were Quakers, consequently I was brought up under that influence. But the silent worship of the Friends did not satisfy the cravings of my soul. I longed to hear the beautiful hymns that my mother taught to her little children even in our tender years, and the spirit often moved me to burst out in songs of praise, and it was with difficulty that I could refrain from doing so. 

At the age of sixteen years, with the consent of my relatives, I joined the Baptist church. The singing pleased me and the prayers were somewhat inspiring, but the sermons were not much more satisfactory than the none-at-all of the Quakers. I was religiously inclined but not of the long-faced variety. I thought religion ought to make people happier, and that was the kind of religion I was looking for.

About this time we heard of some strange preachers called Mormons who had come to our neighborhood. I concluded they were some of the false prophets that the Bible speaks of and I had no desire to see or hear them. Soon after I left my home in New Jersey for a visit to relatives in Philadelphia, little thinking what would transpire in my absence. The elders held meetings near our home and soon after my sister Anna and some of my cousins accepted the truth and were baptized. She was filled with the spirit of the Gospel, and when I returned she urged me to attend the meetings with her. I went to the meeting on Saturday, but when she asked me to go on Sunday I did not know whether I ought to break the Sabbath day by going to hear them or not, but through her persuasion and that of a schoolmate, who had come some distance on purpose to hear them, I finally went, but upon returning home I went to my room, knelt down and asked the Lord to forgive me for thus breaking the Sabbath day.

I attended some more meetings and commenced reading the Book of Mormon, Voice of Warning and other words, and was soon convinced that they were true. A new light seemed to break in upon me, the scriptures were plainer to my mind, and the light of the everlasting Gospel began to illumine my soul. While thus investigating a little child died whose mother had joined the Latter-day Saints. The Baptist minister preached about it, regretting that its parents had neglected to have it baptized and thereby it was lost and could not have salvation. Afterwards elder Hyde preached the funeral sermon and portrayed the glories of our Father's kingdom and the saved condition of the little innocent ones who died before they came to years of accountability—"For of such is the kingdom of heaven."

The contrast was very great showing one to be false and the other true. And I was steadily being drawn to the Gospel net. One day while attending the Baptist prayer meeting our pastor admonished me for the course I was taking and said if I did not stop going to the Mormon meetings I could not hold my seat in the Baptist Church, and they would be obliged to disfellowship me for they could not fellowship anyone who would listen to such false doctrines.

This seemed to settle the question with me. One wanted to hold me against my convictions, and the other was free salvation without money and without price. I soon handed my name for baptism and rendered willing obedience to the first four requirements of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed through the Prophet Joseph in this the last dispensation of the fulness of times. And, oh, what joy filled my being. I could sing all the day long and rejoice in the glorious promises in the Gospel. Brother Joseph and Brother [Jedediah Morgan] Grant [her future husband] and others came and preached to us, and truly the light of the Gospel was shed abroad in our hearts. The Bible I could understand as never before—its truths were made plain to me, and the plan of salvation lay clear before me. The spirit of gathering found a ready response in my heart, and I decided to go with my cousins to Nauvoo, the gathering place of the Saints, where we arrived — — —

The first year of my stay was a very happy one. The Saints were enjoying comparative peace and much prosperity. I became better acquainted with the Prophet Joseph and I learned more of the principles of the Gospel. The doctrine of salvation for the dead was very pleasing to me, and the thought that my parents and others who were dead, as well as the living could all be united together again in happy family union in the eternity to come was very previous to my soul. My second year in Nauvoo was not so peaceful. There were troublous times for the Saints, much persecution and turmoil. I was sick with a long siege of fever and my life was despaired of, still my faith did not waver. I felt that I should live. I was administered to many times, and always felt better. After my recovery I went back to New Jersey on a visit where I remained till the Spring of 1853. I started on my journey across the plains to Utah, arriving August 10th, 1853.

Rachel Grant with her granddaughter Susan Grant Taylor holding great-granddaughter Lucy,
and her son Heber J. Grant.

I have accepted every principle of the Gospel that has been revealed for the benefit and salvation of the human family. I rejoice greatly in the work of redemption. I acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all things. I realize that he has watched over me and guided me through life. I feel to give thanks unto him every day of my life for His mercies and blessings unto me and mine. I rejoice in the hope of a glorious reunion with the faithful in our Father's kingdom in the world to come. I know that this is the kingdom of God. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I have had great joy and satisfaction in communion with the Saints, and desire to remain faithful to the end.

Ronald Walker wrote an extended biography of Rachel Ivins Grant, available at the BYU Religious Studies Center website: Rachel R. Grant: The Continuing Legacy of the Feminine Ideal.” Walker details her struggles in Nauvoo, the return to New Jersey, her eventual trip to Salt Lake City, raising her only child, Heber J. Grant, as a widowed mother, and her activities with suffrage and the Relief Society. 

Rachel's sister, Anna Lowrie Ivins Ivins, was the mother of Apostle Anthony W. Ivins. 


Rachel R. Grant and family, FamilySearch Family Tree, courtesy of Maxwell Davis.

Rachel Ivins Grant and son Heber J. Grant, FamilySearch Family Tree, courtesy of "elizabethellenmcconkie1."

Grant, Rachel Ridgeway Ivins. "How I became a Mormon," c. 1898, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah, MS 15947.

Walker, Ronald W., “Rachel R. Grant: The Continuing Legacy of the Feminine Ideal,” in Supporting Saints: Life Stories of Nineteenth-Century Mormons (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1985), 17–42.

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