8/23/10

BEATRICE WITHERSPOON


by Emma Beatrice Burton

Emma Davison was born May 20, 1844, in Nova Scotia. In 1860 she was married to Joseph Burton, a ship captain. Sailing took Joseph away from home so often that he decided to give up his life on the seas and homestead in California.


In the pioneer community where the Burtons settled there was no church, so a weekly Bible class was organized. Two elders of the Reorganization came to the little community and preached to the group. On December 7, 1873, the Burtons were baptized. Joseph was called to the priesthood and later became president of the Southern California District. Emma often traveled with him as he ministered to the people in his assigned field. Frequently they helped other pioneer Saints establish homes in California.


Because of their enthusiasm for the Church, the Burtons wanted to share the "good news" with their friends back in Nova Scotia. Leaving their children with relatives, they spent two years in Canada telling the gospel story. In 1884 they were asked by Church officials to work in the Australasian Mission. Emma and a daughter, Abbie, did sewing to provide an income.


After four years they returned to California where they remained until 1894 when Joseph offered to pilot the missionary boat Evanelia to French Polynesia. Emma accompanied him on that first voyage, and later they were assigned to minister there. Emma assisted her husband in producing a thousand copies of the Doctrine and Covenants in Tahitian, helped publish Te Orometua (a native language periodical), translated and mimeographed Church school lessons, and worked with the women and children in the Islands. A prolific writer, she was a frequent contributor to Autumn Leaves, Zion’s Ensign, and the Herald in addition to writing her autobiography.


Following the death of her husband in 1909, she remained active in the Church until her own life ended on September 3,1927.