Thursday, January 23, 2014

Manna Weed

Soon after their conversion, Edmund Richardson and his wife Mary Ann Darrow Richardson were called by Brigham Young in 1853 to settle in Manti, Utah as reinforcements for the struggling pioneers there.

When they arrived there, they found acres of rich tillable soil covered by dense sagebrush. They found it would take a great deal of time & effort to clear, cultivate & plant the seeds that would make it yield sufficient food for the newcomers. Even with the crops growing there were other problems to face. One season the grasshoppers devoured all the garden produce except the pumpkins & potatoes, & the Indians helped themselves to them before they were ripe. The Richardson family, along with all of their neighbors, had very little to eat. So serious was the situation that the wheat supply was pooled & then divided among the families according to number & ages. All were instructed to adhere strictly to the stipulated rations in order to insure the wheat supply until food could be raised. Toward spring, as an added precaution, Sister Pamela, wife of Orville S. Cox, sliced her bread, re-browned it in the oven & reduced it to crumbs. Each morning she doled out two spoonfuls of crumbs to each family member.

One day a neighbor came to Brother Cox pleading for help. His wheat supply was all gone, he confessed, because they had been lax about rationing, & his children were crying for bread. Though Walter Cox was a child, he considered himself too big to cry about anything. However, he found tears running down his thin cheeks as he watched his father divide their meager wheat supply equally with the neighbor. Because he was always hungry on the rations they had, Walt was sure his family would die on one spoonful of crumbs per day. However, that night at family prayer, he felt consoled as he listened to his father's petition for help.

Some time later, as Walt passed Temple Hill on his way to herd the sheep, he noticed a patch of green plants growing at its southern base. Though they were somewhat different than pigweed or redroot, Walt carried an armful home to his mother, confident that they were the answer to his father's prayer for food. When Sister Cox found the greens superior to any she had tasted before, she spread the good news to the rest of her neighbors. Every day the greens were carefully cut to the ground. Every morning they had grown enough for another day's cutting, & the people gave thanks to the Lord for the "Manna Weed". They also marveled that during the long season, appetites continued to relish the greens & stomachs to tolerate them. However, when the spring gardens produced abundantly, the greens disappeared & were never known to grow there again. Walter told that all his life he searched unsuccessfully for some of those "Manna Weeds" with their own special flavor.

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