Drusilla Dorris Hendricks was a pioneer whose courage through crippling challenges continues to inspire members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the April 1996 General Conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland told her story:
- Amidst the terrible hostilities in Missouri that would put the Prophet in Liberty Jail and see thousands of Latter-day Saints driven from their homes, Sister Drusilla Hendricks and her invalid husband, James, who had been shot by enemies of the Church in the Battle of Crooked River, arrived with their children at a hastily shaped dugout in Quincy, Illinois, to live out the spring of that harrowing year.
- Within two weeks the Hendrickses were on the verge of starvation, having only one spoonful of sugar and a saucerful of cornmeal remaining in their possession. In the great tradition of LDS women, Drusilla made mush out of it for James and the children, thus stretching its contents as far as she could make it go. When that small offering was consumed by her famished family, she washed everything, cleaned their little dugout as thoroughly as she could, and quietly waited to die.
- Not long thereafter the sound of a wagon brought Drusilla to her feet. It was their neighbor Reuben Allred. He said he had a feeling they were out of food, so on his way into town he’d had a sack of grain ground into meal for them.
- Shortly thereafter Alexander Williams arrived with two bushels of meal on his shoulder. He told Drusilla that he’d been extremely busy but the Spirit had whispered to him that “Brother Hendricks’ family is suffering, so I dropped everything and came [running].”
Her story is also told in Gerald N. Lund’s Divine Signatures: The Confirming Hand of God (2010) and Leonard J. Arrington and Susan Arrington Madsen’s Sunbonnet Sisters: True Stories of Mormon Women and Frontier Life (1984).
Drusilla was born on February 8, 1810, in Tennessee. She was seventeen years old when she married James Hendricks. Together they joined the Baptist church. Two years later her cousin asked her to come hear the Mormon elders because with her knowledge of the scriptures, she would be able to catch their errors. Contrary to his hopes, Drusilla knew they spoke truth. She and James were baptized in 1835 and moved to Missouri to be with the Saints. She said she was never happier in her life.
That happiness was challenged when her husband was shot and injured and she became the provider for her family. With every challenge, she kept her faith in God and trusted that He would help her. Her husband was injured after he went to battle in the Lord’s cause. Her son William was determined to join the Mormon Battalion and Drusilla did not want to lose his help. Nor did she want to revisit the possibility that he would be injured or killed. Pondering these fears, she felt the Holy Spirit whisper to her, “Are you afraid to trust the God of Israel? Has he not been with you in all your trials?” She also felt directed to let her son go. He returned
After they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, James became the first bishop in the Nineteenth Ward in Salt Lake and she became the Relief Society president. They went to settle Cache Valley, Utah. James died in 1870. She wrote her life story soon after his death. She died on May 20, 1881.