(Picture: Margaret Eliza Utley and Maggie Belle Tolman)
The following story is told by Maggie Belle Tolman Porter, daughter of Cyrus Tolman and Margaret Eliza Utley Tolman.
I had miraculous answers to my childish prayers; through those answers my faith grew into something very fine and precious. I do truly thank my Heavenly Father for these little testimonials that came to me in my childhood. I will relate some of them. You may think them so simple they would not interest our Father in Heaven. If He is mindful of a sparrow’s fall, why not mindful of a little child’s simple, trusting faith?
My dear Mother was ill. She had been for days unable to eat anything. It grieved me very much. I so wanted always to see her well and happy. When she was depressed, I was depressed also. When she was sad, I, too, was sad. This was a lonely Sunday. No churches or Sunday Schools to attend. I had never been inside of a Sunday School. It was about time for dinner. Mother seemed a little better that day and I was so glad. I went into her room and asked her what she would like to eat. “Well, dear,” she answered, “I don’t have much choice. If I eat, I will have to eat just what is on hand.
We lived about ten or twelve miles from a store, and driving a team that distance was a full day’s job, sometimes running way into the night. We were low on groceries at this particular time. We always bought our canned goods in cases – sometimes several cases of tomatoes, corn, etc. at a time.
At this time we did not have much of anything left in the cellar except tomatoes; she told me that she would rather have anything else, if she could have it. She thought a moment, then said, “If I could really have what I want most, it would be some good cold peaches fresh from the cellar.” Then she laughed as she added, “I guess I’ll just try to imagine the tomatoes are big, juicy peaches and let it go at that.”
The cellar was under Mother’s prayer room over at the bunkhouse. I well remember how hot it was and what a temptation it was to linger there in the cool dark cellar when I was sent for things. Sometimes I was scolded for taking so much time on these errands.
Before going into the cellar, however, I made my way into the little back bedroom where I was born – the room my mother always used to go into for prayer. I knelt beside the bed and told the Lord in my own simple way what a wonderful mother I had and how I wanted to bring her some peaches for her dinner. I arose, happy in the trusted faith, or shall I say knowledge, that my prayer would be answered. I walked into the cellar and lighted a candle so that I might be able to see better. There was one opened tomato case sitting on top of a full case. With great effort I lifted off the top box. I took a hammer that was lying on the table and with much lifting and banging I tore loose one board from the heavy wood case, then lifted out one can, about the center of the case, then lifted another can out from the bottom layer. I ran like a child back to the house. I knew that inside that can I carried, with the red tomato picture on it, would be luscious yellow peaches. I rushed in all excited. “Mother,” I cried, “I’ve got your peaches.”
“It looks very much like tomatoes to me,” added Aunt Laura Tolman. Aunt Laura was our hired girl at that time.
“I don’t care what that picture says,” I assured them. “These are peaches!”
“Bless your heart,” Mother added. “We’ll imagine they’re peaches and eat them right away.”
I rushed for the can cutter. I jabbed the blade into the can and golden peach juice oozed out. I took my finger and tasted it. “Oh Mother, the Lord did hear my prayer,” I cried, “they are peaches.”
When I carried a big dish of the golden fruit to her bed with some toast, she took me in her arms and wept and asked me what I did to get the peaches. I told her of my prayer and my effort to lift the heavy case and open the other one, and how I discarded the first can and took the second one.
After I left the room, Aunt Laura said, “Well, they just made a mistake when they labelled the cans. Isn’t that strange it should happen just that way?”
Mother said to her, “Yes, it’s strange, in all my life I never found peaches in tomato cans; and that she should open another case and select a certain can. I know the Lord answered her prayers and guided her hand to that one can, and don’t try to tell me differently.”
I slowly pondered the situation as I went leisurely back across the street to our prayer room and thanked the Lord for answering my prayer. Mother was up and dressed when I returned home some time later. “Your peaches cured me, darling,” She said as she hugged me to her heart.
Visit FamilySearch to learn more about Maggie Belle Tolman. You can find a version of this story in The Friend Magazine or in the book Cyrus Tolman: Father, Frontiersman, Pioneer by Loraine Tolman Pace, Second Edition, 2006, pages 36 to 38. Visit the Thomas Tolman Family Organization to find out how you can get more involved in family history.