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  • Writer's pictureAmyanne rigby

What would you give up for your faith?

This week Amy Johnson Crow explores the theme of membership for her "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" Challenge.

I share with you the story of Benjamin Franklin Goodridge and Penelope Randall Gardner Goodridge. Their story was shaped by their faith, by their desire to become MEMBERS of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Forty five miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is a a small town known as Lunenburg in Worcester County. It is here the story of Benjamin Franklin Goodridge (1794-1859) and Penelope Randall Gardner begins(1793-1859). Penelope was the daughter of Abel Gardner, a Revolutionary War soldier and a Veteran of the War of 1812) There you will find perhaps even traces of the Goodridge ancestral home

Benjamin's great grandfather father, Phillip was the first man interred in the Lunenburg cemetery and his grandfather Benjamin was a man of unparalleled prominence having help the office of selectman (30 years), town clerk (22years) and constable, collector, member of School Committee and a magistrate for several years. Benjamin was known as Benjamin Goodridge esq. ).

With such a cherished history, the "good news" of the gospel brought to them by Penolope's brother George Gardner (George was with Brigham Young in Peterborough New Hampshire in the summer of 1844 when Brigham Young received a letter regarding the deathof the Prophet Joseph he was also the first person in LDS church history to put music tho the hymns as they were sung by the early saints at Kirtland and Nauvoo). The Goodridge (Goodrich) family was taught the gospel by Leonard Wilford Hardy and his wife Elizabeth. Penelope and four of her children were baptized on September 2, 1849. Her daughter Sophia had been baptized in 1844.

"Something over twenty years ago my brother, George Gardner, (who is now in Arizona) came to make me a visit. He brought the truths of the gospel with him, taught them to me. I believed and embraced the same. I came out from the Methodist, was led into the waters of Baptism by an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the 2nd of September, 1849; in the spring of 1850, I, with my family, started from the Eastern states, even Massachusetts, for the valley of the mountains and arrived here in the October following. Did I make any sacrifice? No in my feelings, but as the saying is “our property went for a song.” I did not care for that if I only could get to the Valley. I am here and not for one moment have I ever wished myself back again. I can see the hand of the Lord has been over me for good even from my childhood up to the present time; nevertheless, I have had many trials, troubles, and afflictions to pass through, but the Lord has sustained me. Even now in my old age He is my comforter and my guide, praise be to His Holy name. The Elder who baptized me first into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was L. W. Hardy now Bishop of the 12th Ward, and it was through his instrumentality that I and my family were gathered to the Valley of the mountains. He has proved to be an undeviating friend to me and mine ever since I came here. He has three of my daughter for wives, he fitted out George for his southern mission by taking my lot, and is to provide for me while I live and I feel pretty safe in his care. (family search contributed by Nancy Kay Peterson)" The Goodridge family joined the trek west with the Wilford Woodruff company, but all were not yet baptized. In fact, Franklin and Mary Jane and son Benjamin were not baptized until July 9, 1850 at the Platte River en route to "Zion" by Wilford Woodruff. Benjamin's story reminds me of another Benjamin... although fictional Benjamin Steed (The Work and Glory Series by Gerald Lund) also followed his wife on the trek west not being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ himself) what faith took to leave his ancestral home and follow "Penelope's Faith" West. They arrived in the valley on October 14, 1850 (188 days on the trail). Benjamin traded his teams and wagons and other belongings for a small house and lot in the 19th ward at 330 north and third west. Both he and Penelope spent their remaining days here. Benjamin and Penelope were sealed by Brigham Young July 28, 1851.

This wonderful tribute to the Goodridge family was later recorded: "In Capt. Hardy's camp [he was captain of 50 in the Woodruff company] there was a family by the name of Goodridge, father, mother, several young girls and an 11-year-old boy. They were a musical family, full of fun and possessing the happy faculty of making the best and most of every situation. The girls sang and danced; they gathered berries on the way; they laughed. But they also counted the graves and wondered about the sadness and hardships of the travelers and wept for those who were left behind on the prairie. They helped nurse the sick, washed and mended, cooked and carried water; they knew how to work. When necessary they would wade streams without complaining, shake the dust out of their clothing without resentment and gather buffalo chips without disgust. They could fall on their knees night and morning and thank their Heavenly Father for their health and strength, their safety, their food and clothing, and the boundless sea of grass that paved their way to freedom." (_Our Pioneer Heritage_, 15:266-7) Found on Family search contributed by Bonnie Seegmiller 10 January 2014

I am waiting by the river I am watching on the shore

Only waiting for the boatman

Soon he will come to bear me or’er.

End of Penelope’s Journal

Penelope Randall Gardner Goodridge died December 19, 1875 – seven months after she finished writing in her journal.

I hope we won't forget the sacrifices of Penelope and Benjamin and their conversion story. Every time I read a conversion story, my conversion deepens. Thanks Benjamin for embracing Penelope's at the Platte river that day in July 1850. The spirit of God doth truly burn like a fire....


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