“If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come in. The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives.” (Biddy Mason)
Bridget “Biddy” Mason lived her entire life with her hands always open to give. In return she received many blessings.
Biddy was born enslaved on August 15, 1818 in Macon County, Georgia. Although she was forbidden to learn how to read or write, she was able to learn skills that served her well throughout her life: How to tend to livestock, use herbs and roots to make medicine, nursing skills, and midwifery. When she was eighteen years old she was given as a wedding gift to Robert and Rebecca Smith. The Smiths, who were devout Mormons, decided to leave Logtown, Mississippi for a settlement in Salt Lake City, Utah. On March 10, 1848, Biddy, who had just given birth to her third daughter, had to walk behind the 300 covered wagons. During this long journey, Biddy tended to the sheep while carrying her infant daughter Harriet in her arms. Daughters Ellen and Ann walked beside her. She also cared for anyone who go sick along the way. The Smith household lived in Utah for three years. When the Mormon church leaders decided to establish a new post in San Bernardino, California, Robert Smith decided to move his family again. They arrived in San Bernardino in 1851.