Ellen Neibaur — hardship and a pair of shoes
The story is told of Ellen Neibaur, who was born in England in the early 1800’s. She married Alexander Neibaur, a French and Polish Jew who was studying to be a rabbi. He joined the church, with Ellen joining not long thereafter. They sailed to America to be with the Saints. Ellen was sick the whole seven weeks of the ocean crossing and was unable to come up on deck even once.
They traveled to Nauvoo, where her husband met and was befriended by the prophet Joseph Smith. Brother Neibaur taught the Prophet Hebrew and German. When the saints were driven out of Nauvoo, the Neibaur family left in February with six children, including a 10-day-old baby. They arrived in Salt Lake City in 1848 and lived in a tent their first fall and winter in the valley. As they started to get established and get ahead, Brother Neibaur built his family a log home measuring 12-by-14 feet in size. They moved into this one room home with TEN children, and Ellen Neibaur said it was “like a palace”.
Her husband bought her a pair of shoes and she knitted a pair of blue and white striped socks – she was so happy with this one pair of shoes and one pair of stockings. In 1856, the brethren came around gathering donations for the stranded saints in the handcart companies. Ellen’s husband said they didn’t have anything to give, but Sister Neibaur asked the brethren to wait as she took off her new shoes and stockings and gave them to the men. When the stranded pioneers finally came into the valley, they were met by hundreds of saints, including the Neibaurs. To Ellen’s shock and elation, she recognized a dear friend from England who had joined the Church and was now arriving in Zion. This wonderful friend was one of the stranded handcart pioneers, and she was wearing the shoes and stockings that Ellen had donated to the rescue party brethren. What a wonderful example of true Christianity and love.
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