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She was ‘comfort, blessing’ to parents

‘Favored one’ gave heed to brother’s dying wish that she care for mother

She was ‘comfort, blessing’ to parents

‘Favored one’ gave heed to brother’s dying wish that she care for mother

Lucy Smith, the last child of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, was born July 18, 1821, in the Smith log cabin in Manchester, N.Y., before their moving into the spacious house that stands on that site today.

As the youngest child in the family, Lucy was in many ways the favored one, and she was particularly loved by her oldest brother Alvin.When he was taken ill with bilious colic on Nov. 15, 1823, inept treatment by a physician caused a usually non-fatal illness to become terminal. Alvin was administered a heavy dose of calomel that lodged in his stomach. Brought to death's door, Alvin gently called for his favored Lucy.

Her mother went to wake her, telling the child that her brother wanted to see her. Lucy, not yet 21/2, had a child's premonition, even while she slept. As she awakened she screamed out "Amby, Amby!!" which, in her little more than infant's language, was the way she pronounced her beloved brother's name. Her parents carried her to Alvin's bedside. She sprang to the dying young man and threw her arms around his neck as if to hold him in this life.

He told the little girl, "Lucy, you must be the best girl in the world, and take care of mother; you can't have your Amby any more. Amby is going away; he must leave his little Lucy." He gently kissed her and asked his sorrowing parents to take her away, but she clung to him with such tenacity it took both parents to disengage her hands.

At his death, Lucy was beside herself with grief. She ran to his body, threw her arms around him and kissed him again and again, hoping that such actions would restore him to life. Her mother declared "until the body was taken from the house she continued to cry, and to manifest such mingled feelings of both terror and affection at the scene before her, as are seldom witnessed."

As time passed, Lucy recovered from this shock and took comfort from the new revelations her brother Joseph was receiving.

She must have been particularly gratified when Joseph, in a vision in the Kirtland Temple in 1836, saw "my brother Alvin, that has long since slept," and was assured by the voice of the Lord that Alvin and all others "who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God." (D&C 137:5,7.)

Lucy was just shy of being 9 years old when the Church was organized April 6, 1830. Though she was only a child, she seemed to embrace the gospel with conviction, and she willingly underwent the trials of the saints in New York, Kirtland and Missouri.

The days of Missouri were particularly trying.

At Far West, her brothers Joseph and Hyrum were taken captive by the relentless mob, and summarily sentenced to death.

When Mother Smith heard of this, she took Lucy with her to have what she thought might well be her last look at her sons in this life. When they arrived at Far West, they found the wagon in which the prisoners were held was surrounded by so many gloating mob members that they could get no closer than about a hundred yards from it. But Mrs. Smith cried out, "I am the mother of the Prophet - is there not a gentleman here, who will assist me to that wagon, that I may take a last look at my children, and speak to them once more before I die?"

At that, the crowd parted, and the two women were grudgingly allowed to make their way to the wagon. The man who led them to the wagon took them first to the wagon's front where Hyrum was held. Mother and daughter were not allowed to see him, however, for the wagon was covered with a canvas-tough cloth and, in Mother Smith's words, "nailed down so close, (Hyrum) could barely get his hand through. We had merely shaken hands with him" she continued, "when we were ordered away by the mob, who forbade any conversation between us, and threatening to shoot us, they ordered the teamster to drive over us."

The women were then conducted to the rear of the wagon to Joseph. Their guide said, "Mr. Smith, your mother and sister are here, and wish to shake hands with you. Joseph crowded his hand through between the cover and wagon, and we caught hold of it; but he spoke not to either of us, until I said, Joseph, do speak to your poor mother once more - I cannot bear to go till I hear your voice.'God bless you, Mother!' " he sobbed out.

Lucy shared in the suffering of the exodus from Missouri to Illinois. She courageously slogged through the rain and mud to leave the besieged area and, along with the rest of her family, found refuge in Illinois. After they arrived in Quincy, however, Lucy was taken violently ill. For several days she refused to take any nourishment. Her mother was unable to care for her, for she, too, was extremely ill with cholera. However, with solicitous care from other members of the family, both women finally recovered.

Another siege of sickness felled Lucy when she and her mother visited Hyrum's daughter Lovina in Plymouth, Ill. Lucy hovered near death's door. When Joseph arrived from Commerce, however, "she sprang from her bed and flew downstairs as though she was altogether well, and was so rejoiced to hear that her relatives were all still living and in better health than when she left them that the excitement performed an entire cure. She soon regained her strength and we returned home."

In 1840 Lucy married Arthur Millikin, the ceremony being performed by her brother Joseph in the Mansion House in Nauvoo. In September of 1840 Joseph Smith Sr., died. Before his passing he gave Lucy a father's blessing, which showed clearly his great love for his youngest child. Said he:

"Lucy, thou are my youngest child, my darling. And the Lord gave thee unto us to be a comfort and a blessing to us in our old age. Therefore, thou must take good care of thy mother. Thou art innocent, and thy heart is right before the Lord. Thou has been with us through all the persecution; thou hast seen nothing but persecution, sickness and trouble, except when the Lord hath cheered our hearts. If thou wilt continue faithful, thou shalt be blest with a house and land; thou shalt have food and raiment, and no more be persecuted and driven as thou hast hitherto been. Now, continue faithful and thou shalt live long and be blessed, and thou shalt receive a reward in heaven. This dying blessing, and also thy patriarchal blessing, I seal upon thy head in the name of Jesus, Amen."

Arthur and Lucy were devoted to each other and, in turn, devoted to caring for Lucy's mother after her father's death. When Mother Smith injured her knee, she said that not only Arthur and Lucy came to her assistance, but Sophronia as well. All three "were indefatigable in their attentions, and by their faithful care I was enabled . . . to stand on my feet again."

For a period of time, Arthur and Lucy left Illinois and moved to Maine, where her husband had lived as a boy. Their first child was born in Maine, but it was not destined to be their home. Their longing for Lucy's family became intense and the Millikins moved back to Illinois. They were a popular couple in Nauvoo and frequently graced social events given by the Prophet.

After Joseph and Hyrum were killed, the Millikins moved to Colchester, Ill., where they lived as quietly as they could until the furor surrounding the deaths diminished. Like Sophronia and Catherine, Lucy, too, did not choose to follow Brigham Young to the Rocky Mountains. She and her husband stayed in the Midwest and raised a large family of four sons and five daughters, all of whom grew to maturity except one son who died at age 2.

On April 23, 1882, Arthur Millikin died. Most of his and Lucy's family had been raised by that time; a 17-year-old daughter being the youngest at that point. On Dec. 9 of that same year, Lucy Smith Millikin also passed away. She was 61 years old.

Though Lucy lived a shorter time than did her sisters (Sophronia lived to age 73 and Catherine to 86), it was Lucy's children who were noted for their longevity. Her first son, Don Carlos, lived until 1932, passing away at the age of 89. A daughter, who lived to the same age, died in 1934.

Lucy Smith Millikin and her husband are both buried in the "Widow Moore" cemetery, located a tenth-of-a-mile northwest of Colchester. An imposing headstone marks their final resting place.

None of the three sisters were particularly active religiously after Joseph and Hyrum were killed. Like Joseph's widow, Emma, perhaps they, too, wearied of the constant harassment and enforced movement the saints endured up to 1844.

Had they elected to follow the Twelve to the West, they would likely have found the rest, peace and honor they sought at a much-earlier period in their lives. And they could have had the satisfaction of advancing the cause with the same zeal they displayed before Joseph and Hyrum paid the supreme price for their testimonies of the truth.

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