On 27 October 1835, , wife of and sister-in-law to JS, gave birth to her first child, . Though the child would live a long life, Mary’s labor and delivery had complications. JS’s journal records that Mary was “confined an[d] in a verry dangerous situation,” and the Smith family feared for Mary’s life. These circumstances prompted the family to dispatch nine miles to , Ohio, to fetch , a member of the First Presidency and a practicing physician.
Following ’s departure, JS “went out into the field and bowed before the Lord and called upon him in mighty prayer in her [’s] behalf.” As recorded in his journal, in response to his supplication JS received a revelation assuring him that would come and that the baby and the mother would survive. Williams arrived at ’s house about an hour later, and following another two hours of labor, Mary gave birth to .
After the delivery, JS recounted the experience to his scribe, , who recorded the day’s events, including the revelation, in JS’s journal. Speaking of the revelation, the journal concluded, “Thus what God had manifested to me was fulfilled every whit.”
Frederick G. Williams was considered a “botanic physician” and subscribed to the alternative medical philosophy and practices of Dr. Samuel Thomson, leader of the American botanical medical movement. Botanic or Thomsonian physicians used herbal remedies and heat treatments for healing patients, in contrast to the bloodletting, calomel purges, and other harsh methods employed by academically trained doctors. (Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to Sampson Avard, 15 Dec. 1835, in Cowdery Letterbook, 67; Advertisement, Northern Times, 2 Oct. 1835, ; Haller, People’s Doctors, 40; Whorton, Nature Cures, 28–31; Weinstock, “Samuel Thomson’s Botanic System,” 5–20.)
Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.
Northern Times. Kirtland, OH. 1835–[1836?].
Haller, John S., Jr. The People’s Doctors: Samuel Thomson and the American Botanical Movement, 1790–1860. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2000.
Whorton, James C. Nature Cures: The History of Alternative Medicine in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Weinstock, Joanna Smith. “Samuel Thomson’s Botanic System: Alternative Medicine in Early Nineteenth Century Vermont.” Vermont History 56, no. 1 (Winter 1988): 5–22.