The Spirit Guides the Hand of Grieving Widow to Help Heal Her Son
The Haun’s Mill Massacre is one of the saddest chapters of LDS history. 17 Mormons were brutally murdered at the hands of an angry mob in Missouri on October 30, 1838. A mother by the name of Amanda Smith gives a gripping account of the massacre along with a miraculous healing event that happened in it’s aftermath. The story is particularly resonant for Latter-Day Saints, because of it’s similarities to the miracle of Nephi building a ship in the Book of Mormon. Nephi had been commanded by the Lord to build a ship, but didn’t know anything about shipbuilding, as he had never lived by the sea. The Lord then gave him divine instructions on how to build the ship, which then sailed across the ocean to the Americas. In Amanda’s story, the Lord instructs her on a medical procedure that helps save the life of her son, a procedure so complicated that she could not have possibly known how to save the boy herself. And this during a time when Amanda had just lost her husband and another son to the massacre. (The Women of Mormondom pages 122-128.)
The entire hip joint of my wounded boy had been shot away. Flesh, hip bone, joint and all had been been plowed out from the muzzle of the gun which the ruffian placed to the child’s hip through the logs of the shop and deliberately fired. We laid little Alma on a bed in our tent and I examined the wound. It was a ghastly sight. I knew not what to do. It was night now. There were none left from the Terrible scene, throughout that long, dark night, but about half a dozen bereaved and lamenting women, and children. Eighteen or nineteen, all grown men excepting my murdered boy and another about the same age, were dead or dying; several more of the men were wounded, hiding away, whose groans through the night too well disclosed their hiding places, while the rest of the men had fled, at the moment of the massacre, to save their lives. The women were sobbing, in greatest anguish of spirit; the children were crying loudly with fear and grief at the loss of fathers and brothers; the dogs howled over their dead masters and the cattle were terrified with the sent of the blood of the murdered. Yet was I there, all that long, dreadful night, with my dead and my wounded, and none but God as our physician and help.
“Oh my Heavenly Father,” I cried, “what shall I do? Thou seest my poor wounded boy and knowest my inexperience. Oh Heavenly Father direct me what to do!” And the I was directed as by a voice speaking to me. The ashes of our fire was still smoldering. We had been burning the bark of the shag-bark hickory. I was directed to take those ashes and make a lye and put a cloth saturated with it right into the wound. It hurt, but little Alma was too near dead to heed it much. Again and again I saturated the cloth and put it into the hole from which the hip-joint had been plowed, and each time mashed flesh and splinters of bone came away with the cloth; and the wound became as white as chicken’s flesh.
Having done as directed I again prayed to the Lord and was again instructed as distinctly as though a physician had been standing by speaking to me. Near by was a slipper-elm tree. From this I was told to make a slippery-elm poultice and fill the wound with it. My eldest boy was sent to get the slipper-elm from the roots, the poultice was made, and the wound, which took fully a quarter of a yard of linen to cover, so large was it, was properly dressed. I removed the wounded boy to a house, some distance off the next day, and dressed the hip ; the Lord directing me as before. I was reminded that in my husband’s trunk there was a bottle of balsam. This I poured into the wound, greatly southing Alma’s pain.
‘Alma my child,’ I said, ‘you believe that the Lord made your hip?’
‘Well, the Lord can make something there in the place of your hip, don’t you believe he can, Alma?’
‘Do you think that the Lord can, mother?’ inquired the child, in his simplicity.
‘Yes, my son,’ I replied, ‘he has showed it all to me in a vision.’
Then I laid him comfortably on his face, and said: ‘Now you lay like that, and don’t move, and the Lord will make you another hip.’ So Alma laid on his face for five weeks, until he was entirely recovered—a flexible gristle having grown in place of the missing joint and socket, which remains to this day a marvel to physicians. … It is now nearly forty years ago, but Alma has never been the least crippled during his life, and he has traveled quite a long period of the time as a missionary of the gospel and [is] a living miracle of the power of God.