Mary Ann Ellis Cragun’s Breast Cancer

I often wonder how women dealt with breast cancer years ago.  How was it treated?  How did they cope?  Were there ways to cure it?  My own grandma, Ruby Smuin died of breast cancer weeks after I was born.

I am so grateful for modern medicine and the doctors and technicians who have helped me walk away from having breast cancer.  What a gift I’ve been given!


I found this very interesting cancer story on FamilySearch about Mary Ann Ellis Cragun, mother of the wife (also named Mary Ann Cragun) of LeRoy Barker (Roy), who was a brother to my Great-grandma, Harriet Matilda Barker (my Grandpa Frank Smuin’s mother).   Mary Ann Ellis Cragun lived to be 70 years old.

Mary Ann Ellis Cragun – Cancer
About 1892, Mary Ann [when she was about 37 years old] had cancer in her left breast caused through falling with a box of peaches years before and striking her breast on the box. The cancer had grown so large and pained so much that Mary Ann and Wilford E. would go to the Temple in Logan and spend weeks at the Temple, at which time the pain would be relieved. When Wilford E. was on his mission in West Weber County, the pain got so bad the Mary Ann went to see Dr. Williams to see if he could do anything to help her. Dr. Williams shook his head, he was afraid it had gone into her vitals, and he would not attempt to cut it out.

Mary Ann had heard of wonderful things a Dr. Riggs of Provo had done. The Church Authorities were contacted about Mary Ann’s cancer and they requested that Wilford be released so that he could go with Mary Ann to Provo, but on learning of the marriage of Mary Ann Cragun (daughter of Wilford and Mary Ann) to Roy Barker they were thinking of getting married, President Wilford Woodruff suggested they get married and to take care of the children so Wilford E. could finish his mission. Mary Ann made arrangements for her daughter Mary Ann and her new husband Roy Barker to watch the younger children so that she could go to Provo and be treated.

President Woodruff promised mother that she would get well, so they took the advice and Mary Ann went to Provo and the doctor would put a poultice on her breast. It would draw out the cancer and it hurt so bad that Mary Ann would walk the floor while it was on, and then she got so week all she could do was rock. It drew the roots out. The cancer looked like a big spider, as Mormon Cragun remembered. She had no problems long term from this.

Source: A Type Study of Community backgrounds for Education of Pleasant View, Weber County, Utah, Supplementary Volume 1, by Earl Budge Cragun, 1953, page 55, from Mormon Cragun’s history about them.

Mary Ann Ellis Cragun was born 3 August 1855 in England.  She died 19 March 1926 in Pleasant View, Utah.

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The Perfect Way to Stop a Woman by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write… and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she should be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.

–Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Artist John French Sloan

I believe this.  I’ve been trying to catch up past blog entries about our Israel trip and things always get in the way.  I’m determined to keep chipping away at them so those experiences and photos are shared, not lost.  In the meantime, I’ll go forward from here at the same time.  Sitting down to write is important to me.  Words magically capture the important things in my life.

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Out the Damascus Gate to Mahane Yehuda Market

This bakery is right outside our hospice and we have enjoyed stopping there as we come and go.

Today we headed out the Damascus Gate to visit a fun market not far from here.

I think these good women have been selling their produce outside the Damascus Gate for years.  They are always there!  I remember them from 40 years ago!

We stopped in at this Russian Orthodox Church on our way.

Then Claire needed a falafel from this famous falafel shop.

This is the Mahane Yehuda Market.  Most of the market is covered and we enjoyed wandering through the different streets.  In these kinds of markets, you can get a real good feel for daily life and what people eat and enjoy.  The foods are so colorful and fun!  Lots of shops give out samples if you want to try something.

It was fun to watch Halva being made here in this shop.  It’s made from pressed sesame seeds and you can buy it in any imaginable flavor.  So yummy!

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Roman Era Tear Collector Bottles

This is Zak, proprietor of Zak’s Antiquities (Christian Quarter, shop #24).  He is a good friend to the BYU students and LDS visitors to Jerusalem.  We visited his shop and I learned about these tear catching bottles and how they were used in ancient times.  This gives new meaning to stories in the scriptures like when the woman bathed Jesus’s feet with her tears.

Tears are precious and also sacred.  They represent the affections of our hearts.  How interesting that women collected and saved their tears and shared them for very special occasions or when loved ones died.  I loved learning about these bottles.

This is from Zak’s website, where you can see more of these bottles:


Roman Glass Tear bottles is a small, long-necked ancient glass bottles from the Roman period are known by various names.

The term “piriform bottle” describes their shape, while “tear vial” describes one use of the bottle. Another title, “perfume flask,” describes an additional use and in our modern time Roman glass. The shape of these vessels makes them ideal for storing precious liquids, since the long, narrow neck acts as a funnel, allowing the contents to be collected or dispensed one drop at a time. The narrow neck is also easy to seal, preserving the contents.

Psalm 56:8 says, “You number my wanderings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” This suggests a practice of collecting tears to memorialize emotional occasions. According to a 1st or 2nd century AD document known as Biblical Antiquities, friends who were separated from one another collected their tears in a vessel and buried it as a memorial to their relationship. Additionally, a bottle filled with tears was found in a child’s grave in Jerusalem, suggesting that the family mourned for their little one and buried their tears with him as a memorial.

Tradition suggests that girls began collecting their tears in an ancient glass bottle “lacrimarium” at a young age, adding to the collection each time the emotions of life overcame them. As a young woman, she would present her bottle of tears to her husband as part of her wedding ceremony, entrusting him with a physical representation of her heart.

In addition to collecting tears, piriform bottles also served as containers for perfume. Numerous of these Roman glass ancient glass bottles have been discovered in 1st century tombs, suggesting a practice of anointing the dead with fragrant oil.

After the death of Jesus, the women prepared spices and fragrant oils for his burial, but the Passover holiday and the Sabbath prevented them from anointing him at once. Immediately after the Sabbath they went to the tomb, carrying their roman glass, sometimes out Herodian style pottery of fragrant oil with them. To their great surprise, they did not find Jesus’s body in the tomb. Instead, they met two men in shining garments who informed them that Jesus had risen from the dead.

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Shopping in the Old City

From the City of David, we walked back into the Old City of Jerusalem through the Dung Gate.  We spent the rest of our afternoon and evening in the Old City, wandering, taking photos, visiting with vendors and enjoying all the interesting things to see here.

It’s amazing to walk on these ancient pavements!

Claire picked out a pomegranate for her birthday in a few weeks!

This is Shaaban, one of the BYU Students’ favorite shopkeepers.

These are pieces of Roman glass from excavations.  The glass is a beautiful color and is often made into beautiful pieces of jewelry.  I picked out a beautiful small pendant to take home.

For dinner this evening we went to an eclectic Armenian restaurant and tried something new and delicious.

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The City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, The Pools of Siloam

Ariel view of the City of David today:

What it looked like then:

Making plans for what to see here:

Here’s a view to the east from the City of David.  The City of David is south of the Old City on a hill that extends like a finger between two valleys.   This place dates back 3,800 years to the days of Abraham, when the first Jerusalem were laid.

There were excavations going on all over this hillside. They are digging though one time period after another, so it’s hard when you remove one to get to the next. Lots of documentation and slices taken.

We saw Warren’s Shaft, then we took our shoes and socks off and put on shoes we brought for the water and we hiked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel,dug more than 2700 years ago . It was my 3rd time here. Not for the faint of heart. The water was cold but refreshing on our tired feet. We used our phone flashlights and went single file through the pitch black tunnel. In most places both elbows touched the walls on either side. The tunnel is not straight–more like an S. In many places we had to duck down for distances. It was damp and slimy on the walls and the water flowed at our feet. I think the kids loved it. High adventure. Absolute history. We were there.

As the Bible tells us, the 533-meter-long tunnel was dug by King Hezekiah so that he could fortify the city against the invading Assyrian armies without compromising its main water source, the Gihon Spring, which lay outside the walls: “And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him.

So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?” (2 Chronicles 32:2-4). According to an inscription in the tunnel, it took two years to dig, with two teams starting at each end and meeting in the middle. The tunnel was discovered in 1838 by US Bible scholar Edward Robinson.

We came out the lower end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel at the Pool of Siloam.  Here are some artist’s renditions of what it may have looked like then:

Today was especially exciting here because of a Huge announcement made YESTERDAY:

Jerusalem Post Archaeology
Israel to excavate City of David’s historical Pool of Siloam
The Pool of Siloam was part of Jerusalem’s water system during the time of the Temple and the reign of King Hezekiah.
By JERUSALEM POST STAFF Published: DECEMBER 27, 2022 09:28
The City of David Foundation will begin excavating the Pool of Siloam and open it to the public, the Antiquities Authority announced on Tuesday.
The Pool of Siloam is an archaeological and historical site within the City of David which was part of the Jerusalem water system during the reign of King Hezekiah and was constructed some 2,700 years ago.
The pool served as a reservoir for the Gihon Spring from which water was diverted and stored in underground tunnels. Some archaeologists believe that it was used as a ritual bath (mikveh) for pilgrims to purify themselves before continuing to visit the Temple.
In 1880, an inscription written in ancient Hebrew recording how the water was diverted to the pool from the Gihon Spring was discovered at the site and is currently located at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum. The inscription dated back to the times of Hezekiah.

The IAA’s plans for the excavations
Over time, the Pool of Siloam became a target for research and excavations by archaeologists around the world, but the IAA’s excavation aims to fully expose the pool for the first time since it was built.
Throughout the excavations, visitors will be able to see the site and the progress being made in exposing it. The Pool of Siloam will be added to a route that begins in the City of David and ends at the footsteps of the Western Wall.
“The Pool of Siloam in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem is a site of historic, national and international significance,” said Jerusalem’s Mayor Moshe Lion. “After many years of anticipation, we will soon merit being able to uncover this important site and make it accessible to the millions of visitors visiting Jerusalem each year.”

This is all you can see of the pool today.

Back in the day, this was a center of commerce.  They recreated a few vendor’s stalls to give us a feel for what it may have been like.

Coins found here during the excavations:

Instead of hiking back up the hill above ground, we went through another ancient tunnel that was used for water run off or sewage.  This one was much narrower and harder to get through than Hezekiah’s Tunnel.  We had to duck much of the way.

Back at the visitor’s center and gift shop:

And a few quilt block patterns found in ancient floor tiles:

There is always more to excavate!

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Excavations South of Temple Mount

Today was an incredible day.  Every place here in the Holy Land is fascinating, but today was especially incredible.  We began the day exploring the archaeological site outside the southern walls of Temple Mount.  They call this The Davidson Center.  These excavations are from the First and Second Temple Periods and the excavations are ongoing.

Claire is pointing to the area we explored here, near the Western Wall on the southern corner of the temple complex, under the pinnacle of the temple.

Here is the pinnacle:

The paved street below, was badly damaged when the Romans tried to destroy the temple in 70 AD.  Jesus said not one stone would be left on another.  In just one day, this is what the Romans did to the wall.

It was incredible to see these stones, as they fell on that day, reminding me that nothing is permanent, and that prophecies are fulfilled.  These stones have not moved an inch since that day 100s of years ago.  Jesus also said he would rebuild the temple after 3 days, confusing to those who heard him.  Of course he was referring to the temple of his body, but that was just as miraculous as moving these stones would have been.

Here’s the arch as it would have been when the temple stood here:

Here’s what’s left of it today:

This southern side below the temple mount is where the arriving pilgrims approached the temple.  There are many mikvahs here, or places for ritual bathing, some for the men, some for the women.

Here’s a very interesting article about these mikveh ritual baths:

On the Mikveh Trail, follow the rugged path of Jerusalem’s ancient pilgrims
Newly opened park takes you past many of the capital’s 200 ritual baths, used by visitors in the Second Temple era
25 March 2017, 8:48 am
Three times a year all males must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. [Deuteronomy 16]
Assuming that “aIl males” pertains to the entire family, this passage in Deuteronomy called for Jews to make a pilgrimage to a central place of worship three times a year. But this was not to be just a recreational family outing, says Rabbi Benjamin Lau, speaking within the framework of the Bible study website (which, if you don’t know about it, you should). No, this was to be a sort of “date”, a meeting with your Maker, where you would see Him – and be seen by Him.
How to prepare for such an important event, one that would undoubtedly become a definitive moment in your life? During the Second Temple period, when observing the precepts of Judaism was a way of life, pilgrims flocked to Jerusalem in droves from all over the ancient world. They traveled on foot or by donkey, on horseback or atop camels. At every new village or town other travelers would join the procession, eventually converging into large convoys which often journeyed for weeks on end.
Yet the hardships of the long expedition were quickly forgotten as the pilgrims approached Jerusalem. Bursting with excitement, they knew that soon they would be part of the hustle and bustle of the Holy City and able to worship the Lord just as He had commanded.
Of course, when they finally arrived, there was no way they could ascend to the Mount covered in dust and dirt from their travels. Even after bathing in the clear waters of the Shiloah Pool at David’s City, they were not yet ready to sacrifice in the Temple: They would still have to purify their minds and souls in a ritual bath called a mikveh. And that is why, of the 700 ritual baths uncovered so far throughout Israel, 200 are found in Jerusalem and, of these, fully 50 of them are located near the Temple Mount.
Most of these are found beneath the Mount’s southern wall, an area jam-packed with millennia-old antiquities open to any visitor entering Jerusalem’s unique Archaeological Park-Davidson Center. And no wonder there were so many, says Gura Berger, spokesperson for the East Jerusalem Development Company. At any one time there could be thousands of pilgrims in need of ritual cleansing.

A few weeks ago, with a generous contribution from Australian philanthropist Kevin Bermeister, the Israel Antiquities Authority opened a special Mikveh Trail within the park. Preserved and restored by the IAA, it consists of a well-marked path that takes you to dozens of ritual baths located on the exact route followed by pilgrims before they began their final ascent.
The idea, explained Berger, as she guided us along the trail a few days ago, is to show visitors from all walks of life what a mikveh looks like, how it was used in Temple times, and the strict rules that applied – including detailed instructions on where the water came from (rain), what to wear when you went in (nothing), and how you immersed yourself (all at once).
Hard to imagine unless you can remember back that far, but until excavations began in 1970 this entire area – abandoned after the Byzantine era — was completely covered with dirt. Known as the Ophel, it is mentioned several times in the Bible when referring to the space between the Temple Mount and the City of David, where King David established Jerusalem as his capital.
The new trail begins just outside the southern wall with a view of the excavations below, including the site at which a tiny ivory pomegranate – the only relic ever recovered from the treasures of King Solomon’s Temple – was discovered. You also look down into a large plaza that, during the Hasmonean era (second century B.C.E) was actually a cistern with plastered sides. Water from cisterns like this one was piped into the ritual baths.
The Bible speaks of purifying oneself in water many times. Yet, says Berger, the ritual bath as we know it today wasn’t invented until the Second Temple era, when priests developed all kinds of rules that made it possible to carry out the biblical commandments.
According to one rather wild tradition, the water in the baths never got dirty, even though it was never changed. Still another holds that – although there were thousands of people milling around the area and animals were being slaughtered non-stop — it was never smelly on the Temple Mount. And there weren’t any flies up there either.
An ancient ritual bath featured on Jerusalem’s Mikveh Trail. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
An ancient ritual bath featured on Jerusalem’s Mikveh Trail. (Shmuel Bar-Am)
Few Jews were left in the city after the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E., and the rest were banned following the Bar Kochba revolt (132-135 C.E.) Later Byzantine-era residents built their houses on the ruins of many of the structures, and turned ritual baths into storerooms or cisterns. From the trail you can see remains from one of the houses, including a mosaic floor with a Greek inscription that reads: “Happy are the habitants of this house.”
Scattered throughout the route are dozens of ritual baths, as well as vast variety of cisterns from which they were fed. At one point the trail leads down into a huge, deep cistern. Inside, it is easy to see that it was carved out of Jerusalem’s limestone rock. It was also covered with a special hydraulic plaster to prevent water from seeping out of the sides.
One structure was partially restored and boasts part of the original roof. On the floor, there is a rose design, a very common symbol in Jerusalem. Maybe that’s because at least one Jewish source forbids Jerusalemites from planting anything but roses in the city.
An interesting, beautifully carved rectangular opening in the rock could have been a store, suggested Berger, or maybe a display area. One of the guests we brought along on this tour suggested that shopkeepers could have put ice in the long, vertical slot nearby, and kept cold drinks there for the pilgrims during their ascent.
When you reach the bottom of the trail you, too, begin to ascend. Your route leads to some large ritual baths as well as smaller ones that were perhaps used for purifying animals and/or dishes.
Also visible on this portion of the trail are ritual baths whose steps are separated down the middle. The reason for the division was simple: You walked down into the water still filled with impure thoughts — and walked up the other side in a completely different state of mind. Hopefully you weren’t too cold: the water in the mikveh was not heated.
Even if you were a good walker, it was a long, long climb to the Temple. And it was a difficult one: Pilgrims didn’t have wooden steps and planks like those on the trail, frailer pilgrims would have had enormous problems, and everyone’s feet would undoubtedly have hurt. Maybe they didn’t care, bent as they were on their mission to worship God at the Temple. But the IAA wants visitors to feel at least a bit of their pain, and has left a small portion of the trail for you to climb up on unpaved bedrock.
The trail ends below the stairs leading up to the Hulda Gates, from which pilgrims entered the Temple Mount. Although the gates were blocked up long ago, one portion of the beautiful lintel can still be seen. While some of the stairs have been repaired, most look just as they did 2,000 years ago. Their size and irregularity forced the crowds to walk slowly, and perhaps to meditate on the sanctity of the site they were about to visit.
Some scholars believe that the gates were named for the prophetess Hulda, who lived during the First Temple Period. Hulda declared that God had called for the destruction of Jerusalem because its inhabitants had turned to idolatry. She was one of the prophets who induced King Josiah to undertake reforms so comprehensive that the Lord deferred this disaster until a later time.
But it is also possible that the name “Hulda” is from the Hebrew word for mole (holed). Once pilgrims had walked through the gates they found themselves in long, wide covered tunnels. When they finally emerged from these “burrows,” they were blinded by the sun as it reflected off the walls of the Temple.
All day long, modern-day Christian pilgrims sit quietly on the ancient steps or climb them with reverence as they chant hymns of praise. If you take the time to watch them, you can imagine what Jewish pilgrims must have felt as they climbed to the Temple Mount. Perhaps they sang a verse from Psalms 126: “A song of ascents. When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like dreamers.”
How they must have hushed their rowdy youngsters and gazed in awe as they walked through the gates to the Temple.

The excavations are on-going.

Here are some of the homes with beautiful mosaic floors:

There are so many levels of the excavations.  It’s tricky to know which to preserve and which to remove to see what’s below.

And then there were the steps approaching the temple.  This is another place Jesus would have walked–in this very place.  The steps are various sizes.  Some say that’s so you take your time and pay attention as you ascend.  You have to watch each step and go slowly.

We spent some time here learning and thinking about the history of this place and all that’s happened here.  I really really look forward to someday seeing “home videos” of the history of the world, tuning in on this particular place.

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Western Wall Tunnel Tour

This evening after some really good pizza, we headed back into the Old City, to the Western Wall.  There are 3 different underground tours you can take there.  We had tickets for one at 8:00 down along the base of the wall. It was really interesting and involved lots of steps and climbing. We had a group of about 20 people and one man passed out. It was hot, narrow and claustrophobic in places. The tour lasted a little more than an hour. We got to see the very base of the stone wall, cisterns and rooms way below today’s ground level.  It was fascinating.

Here we are down under ground at the base of the Western Wall:

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The Garden Tomb

From Gethsemane, we walked down the Kidron Valley, back towards the Old City, but staying without the walls, we went north to the Garden Tomb, another traditional site of Jesus’s burial.  There is no absolute evidence that this tomb held the broken body of Jesus.  There are many tombs similar to this one in the area.  What is possible is that Jesus was buried near here in a tomb similar to this one.  The important thing is that after the 3rd day, he rose from his tomb, resurrected and glorified, and his resurrection makes ours possible.  Oh, what a gift!

This tomb is in a beautiful garden that many visit.  The grounds are peaceful and quiet.  There is a sense of reverence here.

We found a secluded spot here where we listened to Rob Gardner’s “Lamb of God” music, retelling the events that happened at the tomb.  His music moves us.

A wine press has been excavated in this garden area.