On this Day in Church History my fourth great granduncle Robert Crookston Sr. was born (September 21, 1821)

This past week marked the 200th birthday of my great granduncle Robert. Reading his autobiography changed my life and inspired me to start this blog!

To commemorate his birthday we traveled to the small town where he lived after immigrating from Scotland. The town was then known as “Ramus” or “Macedonia” and it is now called Webster. It’s not far from Carthage, Illinois.

A few facts about this town:

  • About 500 Latter-day Saints settled this town in the 1840s.1
  • The Prophet Joseph Smith Jr. preached the sermons found in D&C 130 & 131 here.2
  • The Prophet’s sisters Katharine & Sophronia lived here. Katharine is buried here.3
  • One of the first meetinghouses of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was built here. The foundation of the original building and a historical marker can be seen there today.

Not only was this town important in Church History, this town was important in the lives of my ancestors. My great granduncle Robert was converted to the church in Scotland when he was 17. Robert wrote of his conversion: “A flood of light burst upon my mind that I had never before experienced. I felt a love for all mankind.”4

His mother, father, and brother were also converted. They sold everything in order to travel to Nauvoo to join the Saints. He wrote, “When the river opened up we started for Nauvoo, a distance of 300 miles. As we approached the landing place, to our great joy we saw the Prophet Joseph Smith there to welcome his people who had come so far … It was the most thrilling experience of my life for I know that he was a Prophet of the Lord.”5

After that they settled in Macedonia. Much happened to the family while living here:

  • Robert’s parents were sealed for time & eternity.
  • Robert received his endowment in the Nauvoo temple.
  • Robert witnessed the Prophet Joseph Smith preaching.
  • Robert and his brother James were called to be members of the Nauvoo Legion.
  • Robert’s brother James or “Jimmie” died of privation.
  • Robert attended the funeral of the Prophet and his brother the Patriarch after the martyrdom.6

Visiting this town was a special experience for me. We went to the local cemetery and tried to find a grave for Jimmie, but didn’t succeed. We will keep looking.

It is stunning to realize that because of their testimonies in the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that they were willing to risk their own lives. If it weren’t for my ancestor’s sacrifice I probably wouldn’t be here writing this today.

I’m happy to say that 200 years later I share in their testimony that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior and the Prophet Joseph Smith restored His Church. Jesus Christ has shown us the “pathway to peace.”7 I’m grateful that my great granduncle Robert and his family were willing to follow His pathway to peace in their lives and leave a legacy of faith for me to inherit today.

Who in your family has inspired you?

Sincerely yours,

Justina

  • My fourth great granduncle Robert Crookston Sr. Photo courtesy of Mary Christine Baker.
  • Headstone of Katharine Smith (sister of the Prophet Joseph) in Webster Cemetery
  • Webster Cemetery
  • Webster Cemetery
  • Historical marker for one of the first-ever LDS meeting houses built in Webster, Illinois
  • Historical marker for one of the first-ever LDS meeting houses built in Webster, Illinois
  • Historical marker for one of the first-ever LDS meeting houses built in Webster, Illinois
  • Webster Cemetery

Citations:

1. “Ramus, Illinois,” josephsmithpapers.org

2. Doctrine & Covenants 130 & 131

3. “McCleary, Sophronia Smith” and “Younger, Katharine Smith,” josephsmithpapers.org

4 – 6 Autobiography of Robert Crookston Sr.

7. Nelson, Russell M. “Blessed Are the Peacemakers,” Ensign, November, 2002.

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