Question: What position in the Relief Society was Jane Snyder Richards called to after her many years of struggle in the early days of the Church?
Answer: “I (Jane Snyder) will commence by saying I was born January 31st, 1823, in Jefferson County, New York. My father’s name was Isaac Snyder, my mother’s name was Lovisa Comstock before her marriage...When eight years old my father moved his family to Canada.
“When I was about fifteen years old, I heard the first gospel sermon, preached by Elder John E. Page, then one of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I had a brother, Robert Snyder, he had been sick with consumption for three years--he believed this Gospel, was baptized and administered to by John E. Page, and was healed and preached this Gospel for five years. During my brother’s missionary labors he baptized hundreds of people, amongst whom was my father and all his family, except myself and youngest brother.
“It was counseled at that time for all the Latter-Day Saints to move to Missouri. My father sold a large property and started immediately; we reached LaPorte, Indiana, in November, one of our number was sick that winter which was the cause of our stopping there; before he recovered, I was taken sick and, not being a member of the Mormon Church, I did not have any faith in their doctrines.
“My parents brought the most skillful doctors to attend upon me, which they did. I still grew worse and all their efforts were in vain...At this time my brother Robert had fasted for many days on my account; he asked me if he could lay his hands on me and pray for me. I could not speak but nodded to him, he did so. I could then see for the first time that he had received the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, and that God had blessed him with the gift of healing...I requested my brother to take me out of my bed and baptize me, he plead with me to wait for a few days. I continued my entreating, until he consented to baptize me the next day, which he did, in the presence of three hundred people...having to cut a place in the ice, (January 1840) but when I came out, the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me and I spoke to those present and told them at I was now well. I was not cold..I never went to bed anymore, I was well from that time...
“In about one year after this date, I met Franklin D. Richards, who was on his first mission. He was a talented, faithful young Elder about twenty years old, about two years older than myself. About one year later found us both in Nauvoo, Illinois, where the Church at that time were gathered, being driven out of Far West. On December 18, 1842, I was married to Franklin D. Richards. In September previous my brother Robert died, he died in full faith of this Gospel, feeling that his work was done. We had a home on Young Street, in Nauvoo, where we lived until driven out by a mob in 1846...My husband worked on the temple until it was completed, except when on missions.
“We suffered a great deal of privation and hardship. November 2, 1843, we were blessed with our first child, a daughter, who we named Wealthy Lovisa, after two grandmothers...She died when three years old, at a place called Winter Quarters...When my daughter Wealthy Lovisa was 6 weeks old, I visited my father for the last time, as he died immediately afterwards...
“On the 23rd day of July, previous, my first son, Isaac Phineas was born and died when about one hour old, he was buried at Mount Pisgah with the Saints; this was a hard trial for Franklin and I...On his return he found me at Winter Quarters. One month after we started in a large company, with Willard Richards as President, for Salt Lake City. We were three months and a half making this journey arriving in Salt Lake City on the 19th day of October 1848...
“The next June my son Franklin S. was born, when one week old we were drenched with rain which caused me to be so ill that my life was despaired of. President Willard Richards came and administered to me, and blessed me and my little son, he said we should live, and from that moment I began to recover...
“In the month of February previous to this time, my husband was ordained one of the Twelve Apostles, this made it still more his duty to go on foreign missions, and preside over and attend to more prominent duties of the Church. He was called on the same year to go on a mission to England. Before leaving, he married two other wives as we had been taught previous to this time that plurality of wives was a pure principal. One was my sister Sarah, a good, faithful, virtuous Latter Day Saint. This time he was gone three years, baptized a great number, and also presided over the whole European mission.
“In 1853, my daughter Josephine was born... About this time my beloved mother died. In 1857 my son Lorenzo Maeser was born, he was named after Lorenzo Snow, one of the Twelve Apostles (and after Karl G. Maeser). About this time my husband took charge of Willard Richards’ family, who had died some three years previous...I felt thankful that we could return any kindness to his family. In 1859 my son, Charles C. was born; he was named after Apostle Charles C. Rich.
“On May 13th, 1869, we moved from Salt Lake City to Ogden, being sent by President Brigham Young, who was the President of the Church as he desired my husband to preside over the branches of the Church in Ogden City and Weber County which he has done.”
In Ogden, Jane became the first president of the Weber Stake Relief Society, organized on July 19,1877, by President Brigham Young. This position she held for 31 years, and was first counselor in the General Presidency of the Relief Society from 1888 to 1901.
With increasing evidence that home care of the sick and injured was no longer adequate, the women of the Relief Society, with the support of the First Presidency, opened Deseret Hospital in Salt Lake City on July 17, 1882. Jane was a member of the Board of Directors.
Jane died at age 89 on November 17, 1912 in Ogden, and is buried in the Ogden City Cemetery.
Source: Latter-day Saint Heroes & Heroines, by Marlene Bateman Sullivan, p. 11-14; Excerpts from “The Autobiography of Jane S. Richards,” Ogden City, March 30, 1881, FamilySearch.org; FindAGrave.com