Personal Testimonial Experience of Eva Sessions Perakis
Many descendants of Jonathan Clegg to the third and fourth generations have heard their parents relate the footrace story over a period of a century. One fourth-generation descendant has struggled within herself for several years over the lack of an historical record of this event. We here relate a personal testimonial experience of Eva Sessions Perakis of Oakland, California. Her letter on record is postmarked Oakland, California and dated 24 October 1991, and reads as follows:
"I took my mother, Pearl Sessions, to Great Britain in August 1973 so that she could see where her ancestors came from. While in Preston, England, President Ronald Hughes of the Preston Stake took us around and showed us the historical things of the Church. When we got to the River Ribble, I told him that our Great-Great-Grandfather, Henry Clegg, was the man who ran against George Watts to be the first bapized in the church in England. We have this information in the newspaper obituary about his (Jonathan Clegg, son of Henry Clegg) death and in the book 'How Beautiful Upon the Mountains', so I assumed this was true.
"When we returned home, I read in the Church News about a man running a race with George Watts to be the first baptized. Appalled at why they did not put in Henry Clegg's name, I wrote them they sent me the list of the 9 baptism names and his was not among them. They stated they had no proof he was the one that ran the race. This really shocked me. I talked to Ferris Clegg in Heber, and he told me that the family had the information that he did run the race but could not prove it.
"This bothered me for several weeks. I need to know the truth. I prayed and prayed but no answer came. Then I decided to fast for 24 hours and then go to the temple, feeling God would let me know the truth. I was working every day for General Motors in charge of the communications office which required a lot of fast walking or running to the machines. I hoped I could fast without food or water for 24 hours. I did, but then I had a strong feeling I must fast for another 24 hours and humble myself more. This I did. After a 48 hour fast of no food or water, I went to the temple after work. I went through one session -- no answer to my question. As I sat for the next session to start (I was determined to get an answer so I intended to go through the sessions until I did), I mentioned about my Great-Great-Grandfather being the 2nd person bapized in England. A lady sitting next to the person I was talking to said, 'I'm afraid you are wrong as my Great-Great-Grandfather was the 2nd man bapized in England.' I asked his name and she said, 'Henry Clegg.' My heart jumped with joy. God had answered my prayers. We talked and she was a decendant of Henry Clegg, Jr. -- while I was of the line of his brother, Jonathan Clegg.
"I know now why I had to fast an extra 24 hours. This lady had to be in the temple to tell me what I was seeking. I bear testomony of this truth to all of you."
Signed by Eva Mae Sessions Perakis, granddaughter of Nancy Ellen Barnes, the oldest daughter of William Barnes and Margaret Clegg
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