Character Interview with Season of Sacrifice’s Sarah Williams
Sarah: I’m glad to be here, too, Tristi.
Tristi: Let me ask you a little bit about your background. You were raised in a household where everyone was a member of the Latter-day Saint Church, yet you yourself were not a member. Can you tell us a little about that?
Sarah: I’ve always been skeptical. I’ve never wanted to go along with something just because everyone else was doing it. I was content with my Methodist religion and it didn’t bother me that the members of my family belonged to a different church.
Tristi: You did eventually join the LDS Church. How did that come about?
Sarah: I had the marvelous opportunity of traveling with a group of Saints from Cedar City across the state to the area which is now known as Bluff. My sister, Mary Ann, and her husband were called to go as missionaries to colonize that area, and they asked me to go along and help them care for the children. About six miles outside of Cedar City, my brother-in-law, Brother Perkins, gave me the keeping of a wagon, and I had to learn to drive it.
We faced a great many difficulties along the trail, including the need to tack a road onto the side of a cliff in order to keep moving forward. As I saw the faith demonstrated by these missionaries, the Spirit touched my heart and I began to become curious about the LDS Church. All in all, it was the music that won me over. As a Welshwoman, music is dear to my heart, and there was something about the hymns that stirred my soul.
Tristi: You mentioned tacking a road to the side of a cliff. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Sarah: South of Escalante, Utah, the terrain is rough and covered with gashes. Then, just above the Colorado River, the ground drops away in a cliff. We were up top and had to find a way to get down to the river. There was a gash in the cliff face and the leaders believed we could blast through that gash and create a road. They did so, only to discover that the descent was much steeper than they had originally thought. So Brother Perkins came up with an idea, of drilling holes in the cliff wall and putting oak staffs in the holes to make a shelf. We then drove the wagons down those oak staffs.
Tristi: That’s amazing! Wasn’t it scary?
Sarah: Absolutely terrifying. I walked down with Mary Ann and the children while Brother Perkins and the rest of the men brought the wagons down. I would not even have dreamed of driving my wagon down that steep grade. It later became a famous spot, known as “The Hole in the Rock.”
Tristi: Now, I do have to ask. When you reached Bluff and were baptized, Brother Perkins approached you about becoming his second wife. How did you feel when this happened?
Sarah: I was stunned. The concept of polygamy was one I had never understood or accepted. I refused, initially, and it was only after a year of prayer and fasting that I came to accept.
Tristi: Why did you accept?
Sarah: I felt it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t that I became converted to the principle of polygamy, but that I wanted to be obedient. For whatever reason, that was what I should do at that time, so I did it.
Tristi: You had a happy life with Brother Perkins, didn’t you?
Sarah: I had a rich life, full of much joy and happiness. True, I was never swept up in a heady romance, but I respected my husband, he respected me, and we did love each other. He was, however, deeply in love with my sister Mary Ann, and I never wanted to interfere with that. Together, Brother Perkins and I had several children, and we raised up a righteous posterity to the Lord. Our descendants are scattered all over the place.
Tristi: I noticed. It seems that every time I go somewhere to speak about “The Hole in the Rock,” someone in the audience is related to a person on the trek, and sometimes even to you.
Sarah: It’s been a blessing to me to know that I left such a legacy.
Tristi: One more question before we go. I’ve noticed that you always refer to your husband as “Brother Perkins,” and never by his given name, Benjamin. Why is that?
Sarah: My husband was a man of tremendous faith, courage, and spirituality. While kind and gentle, he was also strong in his beliefs and I admired that so much. I called him Brother Perkins out of respect for the man he was.
Tristi: Thank you for visiting with me today, Sarah. It’s been a privilege.
Sarah: For me, too.