Saved by the Gift of Tongues

Goose berries on the vine. Canva.com

I recently found this story from the life of Jane Grover Stewart (1830–1873):

“As an instance in which the gift of tongues proved of decided practical value, we transcribe the follow incident, which occurred near Council Bluffs, [Iowa] in the history of a girl of seventeen . . . from her journal [about 1847]:

‘One morning we thought we would go and gather gooseberries. Father Tanner (as we familiarly called the good, patriarchal Elder Nathan Tanner) harnessed a span of horses to a light wagon, and, with two sisters by the name of Lyman, his little granddaughter and me started out.

‘When we reached the woods, we told the old gentleman to go to a house in sight and rest himself while we picked the berries. It was not long before the little girl and I strayed some distance from the rest, when suddenly we heard shouts. The little girl thought it was her grandfather and was about to answer, but I restrained her, thinking it might be Indians.

‘We walked forward until well within sight of Father Tanner when we saw he was running his team around. We thought nothing strange at first, but as we approached, we saw Indians gathering around the wagon whooping and yelling as others came and joined them. We got into the wagon to start when four of the Indians took hold of the wagon wheels to stop the wagon and the other two held the horses by the bits and another came to take me out of the wagon.

‘I then began to be afraid as well as vexed and asked Father Tanner to let me get out of the wagon and run for assistance. He said, “No poor child. It is too late.”

‘I told him they should not take me alive. His face was as white as a sheet. The Indians had commenced to strip him—had taken his watch and handkerchief—and while stripping him were trying to pull me out of the wagon. I began silently to appeal to my Heavenly Father. While praying and struggling, the Spirit of the Almighty fell upon me and I arose with great power; and no tongue can tell my feelings. I was happy as I could be.

‘A few moments before, I saw worse than death staring me in the face, and now my hand was raised by the power of God, and I talked to those Indians in their own language. They let go of the horses and wagon and all stood in front of me while I talked to them by the power of God. They bowed their heads and answered ‘Yes’ in a way that made me know what they meant.

‘The little girl and Father Tanner looked on in speechless amazement. I realized our situation; their calculation was to kill Father Tanner, burn the wagon, and take us women prisoners. This was plainly shown me. When I stopped talking, they shook hands with all three of us and returned all they had taken from Father Tanner who gave them back the handkerchief and I gave them berries and crackers. By this time the other two women came up and we hastened home.

‘The Lord gave me a portion of the interpretation of what I had said, which was as follows:

I suppose you Indian warriors think 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 fruit. We have not come to injure you and if you harm us or injure one hair of our heads, 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 and so have you; we have come out here to do you good and not to injure 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 this land, this timber, this water, all the horses: Why you do not own one thing on earth, not even the air you breathe—it all belongs to the Great Spirit.

(Edward William Tullige, The Women of Mormondom [New York; Tullige and Crandall, 1877], 475–477.)