Elizabeth Degen Bushman d. 21 May 1878 in Lehi, Utah

IMG_9107This is the day my 3rd Great-Grandmother, Elizabeth Degen Bushman died in Lehi, Utah, after a short illness.  She was in her 76th year.

Here is an account of her life found in Our Pioneer Heritage, Vol. 6, p.485-486:

Elizabeth Degen Bushman was born September 12, 1802, in Holstein, Basselland, Switzerland. Her father was John Casper Degen. Her mother died in childbirth when Elizabeth was four years of age and a year later her father married again. Six children were born of this union. In the fall of 1816 Mr. Degen brought his family to America.

Elizabeth was married to Martin Bushman in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1827. He was the son of Abraham and Esther Banks Bushman. They made their home in Lancaster until 1840 and during the years seven children were born to them. That year the Mormon missionaries came to their home and brought the gospel to them. Feeling their teachings were from the Lord they accepted them and soon moved with other Saints to Nauvoo, Illinois. After the exodus of the Mormons from that city the Bushmans went to Hiland Grove, Ohio and here they planted crops and stayed a number of years. In the fore part of 1851 they arrived in Salt Lake City.

One week later the family made its way to Lehi and there Elizabeth began her service as midwife in the community. She brought three hundred and fifty seven babies into the world and the most she ever received was $2.50, for more than two weeks work. Most of the time she walked on these errands of mercy but sometimes she rode on an old hayrack. The last visit she made was during a rainstorm. A cold developed and she never got out of bed again. She was ill six weeks and then was called home May 21, 1878, at the age of seventy-six years.

Bushman, Elizabeth Degen

One family account of Elizabeth describes Elizabeth:  Elizabeth was a typical Swiss girl, with dark brown eyes and hair, and a stout build. She was five foot four inches tall and 140 pounds in weight. She was exceptionally healthy until near her death at age 76. Considerable of the last 25 years of her life were devoted to work as a practical nurse and midwife. She was exceptionally spiritual in nature, and enjoyed many spiritual gifts, even the gift of tongues which she had spoken ever since she joined the L. D. S. Church.

Below is an account of Elizabeth’s spiritual gift, speaking in tongues.  When I first read her words, I felt them directed to me, one of her favorite great great great granddaughters.

Elizabeth Degen was born on September 12, 1802, in Holstein, Basel Switzerland. Elizabeth Degen’s family escaped the then current political upheaval by emigrating to Pennsylvania in 1816. She married Martin Bushman in 1827. Elder Elisha H. Davis baptized 38 year-old Elizabeth and Martin into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church, and in 1842, the Bushmans joined other Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. The Pennsylvania Dutch were notable farmers, and Brigham Young asked them to stay and maintain farms after the main body of the Saints left Nauvoo. Martin and Elizabeth’s family stayed behind in Nauvoo and then later in Kanesville, Iowa, to produce crops for the Saints. They arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1851. Martin died in 1870.

Elizabeth served as a midwife and contracted pneumonia while traveling in the rain to deliver a baby. The following thoughts of God the Eternal Father and the Savior Jesus Christ were recorded on her deathbed. She passed through “the valley and shadow of death” May 21, 1878.

Thou Art the Living God

My Father and my God that dwelleth in the Heavens. The Father of my spirit and the spirits of all men, look upon me in mercy because I am Thy daughter and I feel that I am about to pass the valley and shadow of death, but I fear no evil for Thou wilt be my prop and my stay. My mind is as calm as a summer’s morning and I have a peace that passeth understanding. Permit me, Oh God, to depart in peace, for my body not to be racked with pain and anguish. Lay underneath me Thy arms of love to be my stay and my support.

Oh my Father, a joy unspeakable fills my breast because I shall soon behold Thy face. Fools have said in their hearts, there is no God, but I know that Thou art the Living God; I have trusted in Thee, and have never been confounded. Oh Lord, I have been many years from Thy presence, I have endured many trials, pain and anguish of body, but I thank Thee for my body thou has given me, for my mission and my work to do upon earth.

I have done my work and through Thy grace I have kept my body pure and undefiled for which I thank Thee, Oh God. Oh my Father, comfort the hearts of my family and friends which are dear to me. I shall only be separated from you for a little season. In the morning of the resurrection I shall arise without this frail body, having an immortal one.

Oh my Father, a joy unspeakable fills my soul and rapture fills my heart for the veil will soon be rent and I shall behold my companion and children that have gone before me. I shall meet them with joy and not with grief and more I shall behold Thy face and enjoy Thy presence and bask in Thy favor forever more.

Oh my children and friends, be true to God and His work and He will take you through the gates of death and there will be a light in the valley for you. My Savior will let me lean on His arm so I will not be afraid nor fear any evil. My heart rejoices in God, my Savior. Although my body has pain and anguish, have faith and pray for me that I may depart in peace and when you lay me in the grave, mourn not for me but rejoice that I am delivered from this body of anguish and if you shed tears, let them not be of bitterness. Be faithful to the truth and all shall be well with you. We shall only be separated for a little season. God bless you all.

Oh Lord, grant that my name may not pass into oblivion, but that it may be from generation to generation, because I have tried to keep Thy commandments. Amen.

As I remember Elizabeth, and all of her descendants (thousands of whom I’ve gathered and now know), I feel close to her.  The first time I discovered the prayer she offered, I did not know her well and when she begged me not to let her name pass into oblivion, I felt her speaking directly to me.  I determined that I would learn to know her and love her and that I would share her story with others, so that her name might not pass into oblivion.

On many occasions I’ve felt her near me, hovering and watching over me.  I love Elizabeth. I look forward to the day when I will embrace her and thank her for keeping the commandments and for being such an example to me.  My life is different today because of who she is and what she did.

Brian Kerchisnik

About a year ago I met a man from Lehi, Utah who enrolled in my Family History class.  At the end of the semester, he came up and told me he had a gift for me.  Then he handed me a small envelope.  Inside that envelope was the original photo of Elizabeth Degen Bushman, which is now one of my greatest treasures.  I believe Elizabeth knows me and has found me, as I have found her and now know her.  She will not be forgotten by me. I love her and I will tell her story so that her name lives on.Bushman, Elizabeth Degen original held (1)Bushman, Elizabeth Degen original backYou can learn more about Elizabeth here on Ann’s Words, or on Ann’s Stories, by searching for her by name.

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