Thirty-or-so years ago, while researching histories for this
production, I visited old Nauvoo, the gathering place of the
Latter-day Saints before their arduous trek to Kanesville. One
particular bright, sunny morning, I noticed a mother with her
children sitting beneath a large, spreading oak tree. Later
that same morning, I passed by and saw that the woman and her
children had been scraping about in the grass. Clearly
distinguishable in the sod under the tree was the rectangular
stone outline of an original Nauvoo home.
"This is my
great grandparents' home," she explained. "My great
grandfather built this house for my great grandmother. Two
of their children were born here."
"They went west
with the exodus?" I asked.
"Everything they had, here at Nauvoo, at Kanesville and at
Saint George is completely gone. Everything! Their Bible,
their valuables, everything! All gone but two things which
mark their passage through earth. These foundation stones
and something our family treasures."
From a wicker
bag, she drew out an old, slender piece of wood. She walked
over to where the doorway had been and sat cross-legged on
what would have been the front step, which was about four
inches lower than the stone sill.
"A spoon?" I
asked. "They left behind a spoon?"
"This isn't just
any old wooden spoon," she answered. "My mother says that
great grandpa sat right here, on this very step, and
whittled this spoon." She held out the relic for me to
see. The carving marks from the whittling knife were still
visible, even though the wooden ladle had been handled
innumerable times. She handed me the spoon. On the broad
side of the stem were the names and birth dates of five
children. and the words, 'Hold to the Rod.'
remind them ... us...," she corrected," ... to always Come
Home. When great gran'ma or great gran'pa wanted one of the
children, they'd send the spoon. 'Come-on-Home,' it would
say. No matter how far we've wandered, we're always to know
that we have a home.' "
"Would the spoon
have been in Kanesville?" I asked.
"Oh, of course!" came the quick reply.
So, in a real sense, Come Home to Kanesville is the story
of an old, wooden kitchen spoon.
--- Benjamin Howard
Fall of 2008