Friday, April 8, 2016 – Riser Boot Shop
For the second day in a row I was assigned to be a tour guide at the George Riser Boot Shop. I felt it a privilege to tell visitors of the conversion story of George and his family. Their faith and devotion to their new found religion is an example to each of us.
George Riser was born in Germany and owned a prosperous shoemaking business in Ohio. When he was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, he sold his business and with his wife, Christiana, and infant son, John Jacob, traveled 500 miles to Nauvoo to learn more of this new religion. Soon after they arrived, their baby became very ill. The doctor said there was nothing more he could do and John Jacob was expected to die. Joseph Smith and Orson Hyde blessed John Jacob with the power of the Priesthood and he was immediately healed. This event greatly influenced the Riser’s conversion. They insisted on being baptized the next day in spite of the brethren urging them to wait for warmer weather. They continued to insist and their request was granted. George and Christiana were baptized in the frozen Mississippi river in December 1842, when a hole was cut in the ice to perform the baptism.
George sold his wagon and team of horses to purchase land & build a home and shop. He was known for making good quality shoes at inexpensive prices. Five months later, the baby, John Jacob, became ill again and died. Instead of blaming God, George & Christiana considered the purpose for his short life in mortality was to be the blessing that brought them into the church. Their faith remained strong the remainder of their lives as they went west with the first wagon train of saints and helped pioneer the west.
Shoemakers were important craftsmen in Nauvoo in the 1840s. George Riser’s shoe shop was one of thirteen shoemaking establishments. Shoemakers made and repaired shoes, while cobblers only repaired them. A pair of finished shoes cost $1.75, or about two day’s wages, and boots cost $5.00, or about a week’s wages.
This evening Sis. Johnson and I had our first play practice. Yes, we will be singing and dancing on stage very shortly. But first there are many more practice sessions scheduled.